Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

After School Special

I picked up X-man a book called, "Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds" by Ann McCallum this summer while I was in California. He's been math hungry crazy, so we signed him up for 45-minute sessions starting in September with the Mathman, Don Cohen. He's kind of an institution around the Champaign area. My cousin John went to him when he was in Elementary School. Don could serve as a tutor, but often times he serves as the guy who loves math. No work sheets but he makes complicated mathematical situations pretty easy for kids from ages kindergarten through college.

Anyway, X-man asked to start doing some of the work. So today we made our own trail mix out of honey nut cheerios, mini marshmallows, pretzel sticks and dried cranberries (most of it stuff I put in X-man's special after school snack from his first day of school). Hooray for leftovers.

He scooped varying amounts into a bowl, mixed them up and then put 1 cup into brown paper bags. We then poured out what we had and counted them out and put them back into the bag, so we could figure out the probability of pulling certain items out of the bag. It was a lot of fun for a snack time.

I elected to put all of my items in rows to make them easier for me to count. X-man preferred piles. 

Afterwards, we set out to decorate the GIANT BOX that our neighbor Mr. Ron gave us. It was a great activity for him to do while I set about doing laundry and getting ready for our trip to Maine on Saturday. When he started, X-man decided he wanted to make it into a submarine.

I came out a half out later and found X-man with some neighborhood friends all painting the big box.

Apparently, the girls saw that X-man was painting a flap blue (he wanted it to hide his sub under water) and in this town if one color is blue, the other has to be orange. And there apparently has to be a big I in the middle of everything. They've all been well indoctrinated, I see. :-)

So, you know, a little math, a little art, a little snack, some social-emotional development...

A New Baby

No, I'm not pregnant, and no, I'm not adopting. Instead, I started a new blog.

If you'd like to check it out, feel free. Although I just put up my starting post today regarding my interest in food and food science.

If you'd like to check it out, please do.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Day of First Grade

We woke up this morning at 6:15 a.m. I wake up at that time every morning to let out the dog and feed the cats. Then I usually have "Mom" time (i.e. running the dishwasher and doing laundry). But today, I had to wake the monster.

X-man likes to listen to the radio, particularly the morning show on 94.5. He ran into my room several times this week announcing, "Mommy! Facebook has no money!" or "Daddy's company has the most money!" But this morning was, "Some guy passed out in a car and had some kind of ring on his junk and some people went to breakfast when they should have called the police first." (And I totally took my advantage of it being 6:30 a.m. to negotiate around having to explain that some people refer to penises and vaginas as "junk.") I'm not ready for that yet.

He ate breakfast. He watched a little TV. Everything was fine until we went to take photos. Then he was cold and wanted long pants. I told him he'd be burning up at the end of the day in long pants. And I was right. As it was, he left his sweatshirt at school. :-) Anyway, he threw a fit about not wanting school to start. And this was the "first day of first grade" photo that I got.

We leave to walk to school at 7:30 a.m. X-man was bummed that none of the neighbors were walking with us, but I explained it would take each family some time to figure out what they'd like to do. We said good morning to the two county sheriffs that were directing traffic. We saw that the park bike rack was full. And then as we're going near the front doors, I asked if I could take another photo. X-man refused. But then he said, "Maybe you can take my photo after school, if I decide I like it."

There was some kind of SNAFU about "walkers" at school today. But at 2:35 or so (20 minutes late) X-man walks out the side door. He meets me down the sidewalk and announces, "I liked it!" Then he told me I could take is "happy" photo now. :-) 

He brought home a folder full of information. And in that folder was something we didn't get in kindergarten unless it had something to do with attendance. I know in my heart that every kid probably got one today. But to me, it was really special. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer's End

Today is the last day of summer. X-man and I celebrated by going to the Children's Discovery Museum in Normal after getting some errands done. We've taken X-man every year since he was 18 months. They've done a lot of exhibit shuffling and updating, and he always enjoys going.

He met a friend who was 4 there. They played for two hours before the little friend had to leave. But then we did okay on our own. :-) The place was EMPTY.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Let's Make a Deal"

When Wayne Brady retires, X-man will be very happy to fill in his shoes. Because I swear that every day for the last month, whenever something isn't going the way he wants it I hear the phrase, "Let's Make a Deal."

Sometimes the deals are in place of what would clearly otherwise be a tantrum. "If I get the toy I brought to a play date to leave by myself, you have to give us five extra minutes to play."


Sometimes the deals are cute. "Let's make a deal. What if I can cuddle with you on the couch for one episode of Doc McStuffins and then go pick up my room? Because I love you."

Well, crap. Okay. :-)

Sometimes the deals are insane. "Let's Make a Deal. I'll clear my plate if you buy me the Lego Gold Mining Set (which is like $100)."


I was trying to think about where he might hear let's make a deal... and then I remembered, we use it when we try to come to financial negotiations when we play the iPad version of Monopoly.


One more day of summer. He made a special request for our last day together, so I'm trying to fulfill it. I'll take pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


So, after the awesome walk this morning, I came home and did what I told SuperShanna I was going to do today, which was clean out the garage. Normally, we have a SWAP in the fall and a SWAP in the spring, but with everything going on in everyone's lives lately and the departure of some friends, that tradition has come to an end.

It used to be my motivation to clean out my garage.

But today, it was just the need to clean. If you haven't met me, I'm not a clean freak. I'm not a germaphobe, but holy cow do I like the donating, selling and throwing things out part of household organization. Less is more. I live with two boys who like to rat pack things, so it takes some work to declutter sometimes.

I should have taken before photos, but it was too gross. You don't want to know how much mouse poop and dead bugs I swept up today.

But here are the after photos. And I'm pretty happy with it. (Now to start on the basement storage room, as soon as the garbage comes and empties out our blue waste bin tomorrow.)

Sweaty and Excited

I've been trying to keep up my physical activity since I finished my aqua running class and the H20 Bootcamp with Synergistic Effects in June. I've been attending the occasional Deep Water class at the Y. I've been on my bike and a stationery bike. I've been lifting weights (when I don't get bored of it -- I totally need to go to a class to get this stuff in. I don't push myself hard enough with the weights on my own) and I've been walking.

Mostly, I walk the same 5.5-mile path from my house down to the corner of Windsor and Prospect on the bike path and back. My goal by the end of the summer was to walk fast enough to theoretically be able to walk less than 16 minute miles. I've come close and then had some issue with my back or foot and had to slow down. But I have to admit that once the weather dropped to a normal temperature, I've been like a speed demon. And today, I averaged a 15'07"/mile time. That's good enough (if I can maintain it for twice as long) to walk a Disney Half Marathon.

Now that I know I can do it on significantly torn tendons (and probably shot ligaments) I have something to shoot for once all that damage is repaired in a few weeks.

The other happy I had was that I went to my weigh in yesterday at Weight Watchers. I had been up 1.5 lbs from my vacation to Montreal last week, but this week I lost that 1.5 and an additional 1.5, so I'm down 9.2 lbs overall in 3 weeks. Fifteen more pounds to go and I'll be where I was when I ran the half marathon in 2011, which is exactly where I want to be.

I've been putting together a food plan for when I'm laid up, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up the loss even with the giant cast on. :-) I think I'll have to change days/times I weigh in though to make it easier on MacTroll to drive me up there. I guess getting up at 6:30 a.m. to get me to a weigh in at 7:30 a.m. isn't his idea of a great way to spend a Saturday. :-)

And guess who starts first grade on Wednesday!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Knock Out Roses

So this was what my garden looked like at the beginning of the week. Can you see the two rose bushes toward the front of the photo? No? How about the vegetable cages toward the back? No? Really. I'm shocked. :-)

The First step was weeding. I bet now you can see the two rose bushes up front AND the vegetable cages in the back. Unfortunately, the vegetable cages were pretty much just holding up weeds. Only three of the eight pepper plants that I put in survived the crappy drought, because I just stopped taking care of them. The newer rose bushes are going to be more lively, but you know... we do what we can. Except the ground was so hard, I couldn't dig holes. So I had to soak the ground for three hours in order to get the suckers in.

And here they are, all happily planted. You'll also notice that I moved the vegetables. I transplanted the three surviving plants with baby peppers on them. We'll see if they survive. If not -- oh well. Lily isn't helping either. I found her eating one of the bushes today! So, I'll have to put a protective fence up that the Supers left me when they moved. The roses were on sale at Prairie Gardens for $13.97 each.

Okay, I lied. I left one red bell pepper plant in the back corner, figuring when it was done, I'd just yank it up and be done with it. But it looks MUCH better than the first photo, and now with all the rain we got today, the yard is looking quite green, too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Warming Up to School

X-man has had a hard week at camp. Apparently Savoy is one of the few places having summer camp this last week before school starts and the place is FULL. So full, that X-man's having to fend for himself and he's having a hard time of it.

Every day I get stories about other kids who make him the bad guy and chase him. Boys who won't stop when he asks them, too. Incidents where he's got so carried away playing that he's hurt someone. Or when he tried to use his words and got so frustrated that he's pulled someone's hair. It makes me feel totally awesome when I pick him up and he's crying every single day.

We go over the plan on what he should do every day in these instances, but he is frustrated that in the heat of the moment he can't control his impulses. He's a wreck.

This morning we had headed over to Carrie Busey to check out the teacher list. X-man has the two new teachers that are going to share the first grade classroom. In all honesty, though, it took me 45 minutes to convince him that it was okay to just walk into the doors of the school to see the class lists. He was dead set against it. The idea of a new building was scaring him. Between the events at camp and the reaction to school, it made me nervous. Last year he made a couple friends but he did best with them one on one. In a group, he was always crying and had a hard time figuring out how to negotiate play, until he started crying. And then some kids would just walk away and refuse to play with him, and other would start to make fun of him to call him a cry baby. Sometimes this was because he was trying to get them to play his game, his way -- and I've done enough of that to know it's impossible because he's always changing the rules and story line on you (the six year old development book says this is very normal, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating). Other times, kids were being manipulative and telling him that he wasn't their friend any more if he didn't do something their way. And -- because he wanted to belong -- he'd go along, even if he knew it was a bad idea.

So, I'm hoping this year doesn't have 12 weeks of hell before it finally gets better -- socially. Academically he does okay. He's not the brightest but he works hard and he really likes math, but hates handwriting. He's also ferociously interested in everything science-related.

I e-mailed Mr. Scott, the principal today, because he'd mentioned when X-man started behavioral therapy with Dr. April last spring that maybe he'd like to come and check out where his room would be. I saw that there was a note sent home that said this might not happen. So, I let him know if it was too early, that I understood.

In true Mr. Scott fashion, he e-mailed right away and gave me a 4 p.m. time slot. I got X-man out of camp early and drove him over to the school. He was all tied up in knots about going in. But once he got in, he was enthralled. He was checking out all the basketball hoops in the gym, and the moveable door between the gym and the cafeteria. He saw Mrs. Kloth's art room and complimented her on all her new pictures.  Mrs. Burt's room has a cool circle built into the carpeting that he found convenient.

Mr. Scott pointed out all the wireless routers in the rooms and library, and X-man went around and pointed all of the routers he could find around each of the rooms. He saw a kindergarten classroom and then he got down to the first grade and he was every so excited to meet both of his teachers, see where his backpack will hang up and meet the other first grade teachers. Each classroom has moveable walls and purple doorways that he found very fun.

He got to see the bathrooms and where Mr. Scott and Mrs. Magrini's office. And when we left, he was a pretty happy camper. So hooray.

In other news, we went to X-man's swim lesson at the Y. Ms. Ellen tried to give him a "swim test" for the water slide without him knowing it. But X-man totally figured it out. He treaded in the deep water for 10 seconds, but once she threw the duck down the lane pool for him to fetch. He refused. Even though he could swim the shorter part of the pool no problem.

They also had the Crocodile in the pool! We hadn't seen it since we toured the place before they officially opened. X-man and our neighbor Sam I Am ended up playing and climbing everywhere. We're trying two new Parents' Night Out programs this fall, because, sadly, the ones at Savoy Rec keep getting canceled due to lack of participation. So we're trying one at the tennis center in October and one in October and November at the Y. We'll see if X-man likes them. They're a little shorter than Savoy, but similar in structure.

I worked on developing a rose garden in the backyard yesterday and today. I had planted two bushes earlier in the summer before the drought next to where the peppers were supposed to be. But then crap happened with Maya and travel and I didn't get out there to care for them like I should have. So I had 4' tall weeds and 15" tall pepper plants. :-(

I transported the three out of the eight that survived and then tried to dig holes for the rose plants. The ground was too hard, so I left the sprinkler on for three hours this morning, and finally the clay was loose enough for me to dig. Then I filed the hole with topsoil.

It was a lot of work, but the bushes look good. And I promise to water them to to keep them alive.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday, Monday

School starts for X-man in nine days. That means we have nine more days of fun and relaxation and staying in our pjs until 9 a.m. And then it's back to going to bed by 9 p.m. and getting up at 6:45 a.m. In some ways I'm looking forward to it (is anyone else's kid on repeat? - "Play with me. Play with me. Play with me.").

On the other hand, it's been nice to spend the summer together having fun. It's probably our last in Illinois, so we tried to fit in getting to all the things we love about town. But between all the cat illness and the friends moving, it's also been kind of full of scheduled craziness. Thank goodness for half day camps.

Without camps, I'd never have gotten anything done.

It's a Monday, so I'm going to shower and then make us some breakfast. Afterwards, we're heading to the Y for X-man's swim lesson at 11 a.m. Then we'll have some lunch and head to the Savoy Rec Center for All-Star Sports Camp.

Meanwhile, I'll get a walk in (if it's not raining).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Digging in the dirt

I'm loving this cool weather. I set up the sprinklers today so it would wet the ground enough that I could pull all the 3-foot tall weeds out of the garden. I got halfway done with the front yard. My goal is to finish the front gardens and then start on the backs, which are way worse than the front.

Since they were doing the patio, I haven't been able to get back there at all. I'm lucky I've been able to pluck anything from my gardens and I've pretty much written off this year for produce. Sigh.

Today, MacTroll and I are going to go to the movies to see Hope Springs. LL said it reminded her of Hope Floats. I'm not sure I ever saw that movie, but for some silly reason I can remember who stared in it.

Tonight, I'm making a Cherry Tomato and Yellow Squash Crumble. The boys are going to BBQ chicken to go with theirs. But for me, it's the main course.

I'll post the recipe if it goes well.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Getting My Goat

There are few things that really get my goat. Even though there are a legion of things I don't understand and ask lots of questions about, very few things actually get me all worked up or hot under the color.

But one of the things that does make me irate is the slow moving pace of my undergraduate institution in regards to alumni relations and cultural competencies.

When MacTroll and I got hitched in 2000, I sent in the little announcement to go in the alumni magazine that comes out Quarterly. It got printed correctly, but I realized that mall from Millikin started coming to Mr. and Mrs. MacTroll Non-Blogger.

WTF? MacTroll and I don't even have the same last name.

MacTroll didn't go to the same school I did. He wasn't writing any checks to them. Why in the world would they dump my identity for his? Yeah, yeah, I know socially there are some elderly people that actually liked to be called Mrs. John Doe. But the thought, personally, makes me gag.

I called the alumni office and was told that it was their protocol. Some Emily Post-like bullshit. So then I sent an e-mail to the university president, who had been one of my greatest supporters when I was the editor of the student newspaper. He did his thing...

The next peace of mail I got was to Ms. Looseyfur Blogger and Mr. MacTroll Non-Blogger. Nice.

Fast forward 12 years.

Strangely, for the first time, Millikin has a marriage notice from a same-sex couple. And for some really awful reason, they run the announcement not under the "marriage" headings but under another heading. So even though seven states recognize gay marriage and a few others civil unions, they hadn't had the forethought (even though we had a pretty large gay/lesbian community at Millikin) to think about what to do when a notice came in.

Well, it's not a shock that the two women who got married legally in another state were horrified to receive the separate but equal treatment. So a little Facebook/e-mail campaign ensued, and I found out from a friend of mine who got married last October that mail came addressed to the Mr. and Mrs. You Have No Identity protocol again.

Not happy, I told MacTroll about it. His response... no more money to Millikin for any of this crap.

So, instead, I wrote an e-mail to one of the people in charge of donors. I explained to her the protocol for name changes that I had always used at home and at work, and she totally agreed. She and her spouse hyphenated their names together. She wasn't sure how far changing the whole system was going to go with those that had obviously been around over a decade ago when they refused to change it for me, but she said she would go ahead and change my friend's information.

I told her to make sure she included the prefix Dr. as my friend had just spent half a decade and a crap load of money and brain power earning her PhD.

And out of the information campaign, came a lot of letters of concerns, complaints and a lot of online feedback about how they could make the Quarterly a better publication... They even came up with a poll for readers to talk about where they think gay married/civil union companies should be. And all of those options were MUCH better than the separate but equal.

Funny how a pretty forward thinking school has such a backwards acting alumni department, sometimes. Sigh.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thorough Thursday

It was a busy catch up day around here today. I had physical therapy at 8 a.m. and got my hip/back issue reassessed. My strength in my glutes and my flexibility are vastly improved. I still have balance issues on my right leg, but that's due to the tendons in my right foot. I'm not super awesome yet, but I'm well on my way, and I get to reduce my visits from two visits a week to one. Woot!

Then I came home and picked up X-man to take him to Dr. April's. She worked on some impulse controls with him and he asked her about what to do when a friend escalates to a level 5 (so mad he wants to hit someone or does) and that makes X-man escalate in response. He proposed his own very good solution, and then said, "It seems easy now, but it's hard to think of in the moment. Especially when a kid is throwing a ball at your face." His biggest frustration is that for all the talking we all do about calming down and trying to work things out with words, X-man acknowledges that even though those are the correct ways to deal with a problem, most of the kids he has issues with do not respond to using words. They either just hurt him, ignore him or make fun of him. And then it doesn't seem like talking it out works at all. And he's not wrong. Many kids are just -- cruel. He does remind us that he has his moments too. "Everyone makes mistakes, mom!"

After therapy, X-man ate some lunch and I went to Rotary. I had to do the "reflection" for the meeting today. Dennis, who arranges greeter, speaker, money taker roles for each meeting has been having me do them every other week since I won't be at Rotary for a while due to the surgery. This year's rotary theme is Peace through Service. So I did a reflection on what that meant to me.

I had to sneak out early though, because I hadn't gotten a shower between X's appointment and me needing to go to the meeting like I thought I would, and I felt gross. So I left and got showered and MacTroll and I walked over to Carrie Busey and volunteered at registration for two hours. He had the third grade table and I had the first grade table. It was nice to see so many families that I knew. I also found out that a childhood friend from Rockford is now working for the building maintenance crew for the district. He's in every single building. I gave him a hug. It was nice to see him. (And mom, if you're wondering it was Jason I.) :-)

We picked up X-man at 5 p.m. and were all pretty much wiped out. The Student Painters finished painting our fence and front porch today. It looks awesome. They were really reliable and communicative and came in 50 percent less than other bids. And they did a lovely job. Lee Brown was the head of the crew, and he was just an all around nice guy. He goes to U of I and is in the business school.

MacTroll and I moved all the patio furniture back onto the patio for the first time since April 30. We now have our original parking situation in the garage back. And I can actually clean out the garage soon! Hooray. It's been on my list. I think I'll get to it this weekend, when I can donate the Mommy Schwinn and the Schwinn Trailer bike to the Bike Project. I didn't get any takers on Craigslist and it's just taking up room. So, I think it's time for it to go.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Summer's Cold

I got home today at 10:55 a.m. Central time. That means I was up at 4:45 a.m. Eastern Time, and now I'm really tired. I went with MacTroll to pick up X-man from Little Gym camp and when he saw me, he threw his arms around me.

I looked down and saw snot all up and down the shoulder of his shirt. It was caked onto his face. The poor dude has a cold. He was talking a big like Kermit the Frog and he felt a bit warm. So we got some lunch in him and brought him home rather than sending him to Mad Scientist's camp at the Rec Center. (I had assumed I'd get home much later than 12 when I planned the double day of camp.)

Anyway, he's watched one episode of Phineas and Ferb while we cuddled, and he's been in his room quietly playing Legos. Me, I'm totally ready for a nap.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Montreal Norm

Yesterday, I slept in. I was supposed to have breakfast with Sully, but after eight years of meeting him for meals, I've learned that he runs on his own clock. And Sully time is at last 45 minutes to two hours behind real time. So, I went down to the café and partook in the free breakfast of fresh fruit, chocolate croissant and a non-fat yogurt with hot tea.

By the time Sully got here, it was pretty much time for lunch, so we headed out for pizza. Something that would both appease his palate and mine. I love talks with Sully, and I hate talks with Sully. There's usually some fun elements like us giggling over tourists in Vieux Montreal ordering poutine and taking photos of it when their order comes. I get to learn things about what's happening in his life, and I babble on about stuff in mine. He has a great observation of my physical responses to things. And he digs a bit too deep into things than I'm often uncomfortable with. I blame my Avoidant Behavior issues for my crappy capacity to hold a grown up conversation that has any emotional merit. On the other hand, he's overtly jovial with the waitstaff, which I love, even though I can't bear to even try to talk in French around him. Too many stories about his ears being sensitive to the English person in obvious pain trying to speak French Canadian. I guess it's mercy that he puts them out of their misery by switching to his second language, but if you want to learn -- in earnest -- you're out of luck. Which is funny, because in the States, I always feel endeared to people who are learning English. I mean, it's a huge thing to go somewhere where you don't speak a word and try to make it work and figure it out. It's the people who visit or move places who expect the world to cater to English that drives me mad. Case in point, this asshole at the Depanneur today who wanted to buy aluminum foil. He wanted to use his card, but it was broken, so he asked the attendant to type in the numbers. The card was clearly messed up, so the clerk asked for ID. The American refused. Then he put a $100 in US cash on the counter. The guy threw up his hands and shook his head no (not sure because it was American or because it was $100). But it was only a $3 item, so you know, I'm pretty sure he didn't have the cash to give back to him in U.S. money.

As the guy walked away, he called the attendant a bad name. And it was all I could do not to take my bright orangish/pink Nike shoe and kick him square in the ass as he walked away. Fuckhead.

But I digress from wherever I was about the Sully lunch, oh yes...

Usually by the end of our conversations, a couple of hours have flown by and I'm emotionally drained.

So, in the middle of the afternoon, I went upstairs to my room, I talked to MacTroll and X-man over iChat for a while, watched the Olympics and I read my book. I passed out around 8 p.m. and didn't wake up until my son FaceTimed me the next morning at 8:30 a.m. I talked to the boys a little and got dressed for a walk. Every year I try to walk up Mont Royal to the Chateau from wherever I am staying. I'm not a girl who does hills since I come from a pretty flat land, so it's a hard effort for me. I also had to take a detour around downtown so I could do some window shopping. There were lots of sidewalks under construction or shut down due to new buildings being erected, so my pace was sucky, but the walk was fun.

When I reached the Chateau, I sat down and enjoyed the brightness of the sun and the wispy clouds in the sky with a Gatorade. I smiled at the families getting their photos taken with the city behind them. Then I started back down the hill. Round trip was just under 10 miles. My foot did wickedly awesome, except on a section where they had redone the path from the stair entrance at Rue Peel with vertical bricks. They were a little unlevel and my tendons protested, but I wasn't on them for too long.

Now I've showered, and I have plans to finish reading my book and maybe nap before I have dinner tonight with Ms. M and her boys. Then tomorrow, I get to get in a cab at 5 a.m. to get to the airport. I should be home by lunch time. Let's hope I keep better track of all my bags this time.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cinematic-like Canadian Drama

I flew to Montreal yesterday. The 6 a.m. flight from Champaign to Chicago was no big deal, per usual. And then I sat from 7 a.m. until 10:30 for my flight for Montreal. It was one of those waits where the people sitting across from you, who you don't speak a word to, start to look familiar. The people next to me were a grandma, son and grandson, who was the son's nephew. They were traveling to Texas on the flight at our gate before the flight to Montreal. The 16 year old was reading a book on his summer reading list for school and hating it. The woman next to me (who was also going to Texas) and I picked up our heads. "I have to know what book it is now," I said to him after he said, "This book sucks. I can't read any more of it."

Yeah, Lord of the Flies. Typical sophomore literature. He'll have to endure it the way I endured Catcher in the Rye and the Bronte sisters (in which, by the way Jane Eyre blows the water out of Wuthering Heights, but they're both still annoying).

Anyway, I get to Montreal and my brain kicks in. I get off the plane without having to wait for any carryon items that were too large for the overhead compartments of the regional jet. I take the stairs rather than the escalator in a mad dash to get to customs. If it's busy... you want to be the first out of your plane. As it was -- there was NO ONE there. It was odd. I'd never seen it so empty, unless I was coming in super late at night.

I breezed past the people waiting for family members and down to the taxi line. I waited patiently while the guys ahead of me freaked out that the taxi man was telling them to get in a limo (he wasn't). He was simply pointing to the post where they were to wait while a taxi drove up.

I got in my taxi and rolled off my tongue in perfect anglo-french the name and address of my hotel. I'd been practicing all week. :-)

He looked confused. I took out the paper and handed it to him. He STILL looked confused. So I'm taking that not as a strike against my language skills but of the fact that he had, indeed, never dropped anyone off at Le Petit Hotel before and was kind of surprised that I was introducing a new place for him to go, since he'd been driving a cab for over a decade.

"Those small hotels are always changing their names!" he exclaimed. But indeed, he had a master list of every hotel he'd ever been there with an address cross-listed. He had one for 106 Rue St-Paul Ouest instead of 168 (where I was staying) so, he followed some chicken scratch instructions he'd left for himself about the best way to get there.

Then he said, "You from Toronto?" It was a stab to my heart. I'd once ordered a sandwich from a guy on the Plateau who said to me in English after I ordered in French. "You're too friendly to be from Toronto. So you've got to be from the States." I had encountered similar anti-Toronto-ness in Halifax and Calgary and other parts of Quebec. So it was then that I learned that to come from the States was actually much better when I visited Montreal. There was some kind of acceptance there. Now, that said, I know some folks from Toronto who are very friendly. But I also have witnessed this kind of urban snobbery when I've been there. So I get what the stereotype is about. In the states, it's often applied to New Yorkers.

Not a surprise Le Petit is so small that he missed the door the first time and circled back around the block. It was pouring rain and windy and hot outside. There were storm warnings in the area with 90km wind warnings (read the km Americans). So I paid him, bailed, picked up my bags and opened the first set of doors to the hotel. Then I realized I was missing my backpack with my laptop.

I threw the bags down and took off down the street in my flip flops in the rain screaming, "Arrete le Taxi! Stop the Taxi! Please!" I ran for 8 blocks. Someone in a car speed through an intersection and got to the taxi behind mine. I caught up 30 seconds later, thanked the car driver, and looked at this poor cab driver who wasn't mine and it was like Bart Simpson when he visited France. Words just flew out of my breathlessness in French, almost like I knew what I was doing. He was able to do two things that my brain couldn't do as I was screaming and running, give me the cab company name AND the taxi number.

Now, in my run through the pouring rain, I'd also lost two other things. My shoes. I had been wearing flip flops and I ran right out of them. Ironically, on the plane, I had been finally finishing, "Born to Run" a book I started almost two years ago, but only got halfway through. When they came off my feet, a family screamed, "Your Shoes!" I had only answered, "It's okay, I gotta go faster!" And I did, my bare feet pushing against the cobblestone streets as I ignored stop signs and moving cars like a crazy woman.

On my job back to the hotel, where my purse and suitcase were left in the doors, the family gave me back my shoes. "Do you need a phone?" They were Canadian tourists. It was so sweet. I thanked them, and kept moving. A restaurant worker who had been having a smoke on the sidewalk when I whizzed by asked me if I was okay, if he could do anything. I thanked him.

When I got to my hotel, I was drenched, sad and crazy. I spit out the cab information and the car information and what my bag looked like to the two concierges and they went to work on the phones immediately. They explained that the cab dispatcher at the airport was on it and I'd know if it was coming back by noon tomorrow.

Then I went upstairs to my hotel room and cried in a very hot shower. I also got lucky that the iHome dock in the room charged my iPhone. So I didn't have to wander out to buy any charge cords, which had also been in the bag. And that I had the mental acuity to keep my passport and my wallet actually on me. Because this is the kind of crazy shit that happens to me when I'm tired. I am not a good traveler, and I'm really not good at days that start at 4 a.m.

Afterwards, I got to resetting all of the passwords on all of my mail accounts and tried to figure out the best way to explain to the Tolono Public Library that I had lost a book that I had checked out via the WorldCat program. No one likes to lose a library book, but you really don't want to lose one from ANOTHER library that lent it to your library. That's just embarrassing.

After my shower, I sat in a depressed state in a robe watching the Olympics. It was still storming outside, so I ate some Pringles and water for dinner, and then I started to drift off to sleep, early. At 9 p.m., I was awoken by the hotel phone ringing. I said a silent prayer to the powers that be and picked up the phone. "Madam, your cab driver is here with a package you were looking for."

I pulled on my wet clothes from earlier today and ran down to the elevator. And there was my awesomely petit cab driver with my bag. "I had three riders after you. I hope everything is still there. No one said there was a bag in the back with them."

And it was. Laptop, library book, cords. I tipped him $40 and hugged him. Then I went upstairs, happy, happy, happy.

Only in Canada would it have been returned. Only in Canada.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Losing more than my mind

Well, crap! It's kind of hard to argue with progress. I weighed in at Weight Watchers today and lost 7.2 lbs in a week. Yes, it's mostly random water because I was bloated like mad last week following a night with two beers and some peanuts at the Esquire where we watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

But it was nice to see the scale go down for a while. I think, kind of like changing one's exercise regimen, it's nice to just approach the diet in a different way.

Tomorrow, I leave for Montreal. I've got my passport ready to fly.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Mom, Why Does Phineas' Voice Change in Later Seasons?"

"What do you think?"

(I figured it was a voice change issue, but while he was thinking about his answer, I was googling to see if they changed actors, because if they had this was going to be a conversation about contract negotiation rather than puberty.)

"As his brain gets bigger, his voice gets deeper?"

Not entirely wrong, from a certain point of view...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Day in the Life of...

My mom was here visiting for a couple of days. She took X-man to swim lessons at the Y, so I could get to my physical therapy appointment. She also played monopoly with him, so I wouldn't have to. :-) Thanks, Mom.

If I look like someone beat me in the leg with a stick that's officially part of my recovery. It's called Astym with some Active Release Technique on the side. And it hurts like a BITCH.

But I made a few things that were actually pretty yummy, including vegetarian taco meat. We also made a trip over to the new TCBY, because it would be blasphemy if there was an ice cream-esque business in town that we hadn't been to. It's a pretty happy place. They even put up with my son, who is usually a pro at doing a clean job of putting on toppings, messing up twice and having to get the spoons washed. (Sorry, TCBY). It was a combination of him being exhausted from playing and from the counter where the toppings are being higher than the one at Cocomero where he "trains" for topping adventures.

Today, X-man went to the Secret Agent Camp at the Little Gym. He's decided that outside of Parents' Nights Outs, he's outgrown them. He has one more day of camp on Friday, and then he'll be officially done. But Ms. Lindsay said he was really good at comforting one of the younger kids when he got sad, which was nice to hear.

After camp, we chilled out before going to behavioral therapy. Then we had to come home and fill water balloons. Big D, X-man's friend from Kindergarten who moves to Dunlap next week, came over for their last play date. They had a giant water fight in the front yard with squirt guns and balloons and the baby pool. (Yes, after the 15th day in a row of weather over 95 degrees, I broke down and bought one at Wal-mart in mid-July.)

Now, we're both tired. I'm not sure what I did today. I feel like I've just been picking things up all day and doing dishes and driving places. Oh, I did get my hair colored today.

Tomorrow is a "work around the house day" outside to get ready for the painters coming on Monday to paint the fence. So, there's trimming to do, because the ground is way too dry for me to pull weeds, so I'll just chop off their heads.

I also need to get X-man down to the library. He needs to cash in his last 6 book bucks because the prizes are down to nothing... My guess is he'll go for Meatheads and a sticker. But we'll see.

I think MacTroll would love to take X-man to Meatheads. MacTroll hasn't been there since he went when it opened.