Tuesday, December 25, 2007

polar express

Either the Christmas spirit is getting to me or I am hormonal. I just cried during "Polar Express." Danny looked at me like I was crazy, which really is not that far from the truth!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

rockin' with the gin blossoms

What a night! We started off going to the Firefly for dinner, where the chef had prepared a special meal for the contest winners. It was sumptuous and quite decadent and included 3 appetizers, a main course and dessert. (Warning: if anyone is not interested in food descriptions or if you are worried this will make you hungry, skip to the next paragraph.) The first appetizer was sundried tomato lobster ravioli with two shrimp. It was amazing. Then, we got crab legs, which were a bit difficult to crack open and still maintain dignity, but worth the effort--so tender they melted in our mouths. Then came the appetizer that was the most beautiful: it was a bed of greens with a layer of egg salad, a layer of Australian prosciutto, and a layer of kalamata olives all wrapped in a wall of melted parmesan that had hardened; the plate had designs of balsamic vinegar painted on it. Very hard to describe, but Bil said he wished he had taken a picture of it. The main course was pecan encrusted pork loin, creme fraiche mashed potatoes (can I just say heavenly? Wow, I think this has ruined me for plain potatoes forever), and a vegetable medley of swiss chard and a vegetable that resembles choi sam (a Chinese vegetable I used to eat in Hong Kong all the time) with pine nuts. By the time dessert arrived (banana cake with cream cheese frosting for me and homemade sorbet for Bil) we were already pretty full.

OK, enough food descriptions. Sorry, it was such a glorious meal, I had to tell someone about it. When we arrived at the theater, we found out that our tickets were platinum, which entitled us to free drinks, more food, free parking and entrance to a special room for VIPs. We also had front row seats right smack in front of the most enormous speakers I have ever seen. I am really glad Bil recommended we buy some ear plugs for the event. I know that seems a bit dorky for a rock concert, but I left way too many parties and concerts in my 20s with ringing ears and impaired hearing to want to endure that again.


Before the concert started we got to go to a Meet and Greet, which was basically the band standing in a room and a bunch of fans lined up to say hi and get a picture with them. Here is our picture with the Gin Blossoms. (Every so often I am surprised at how short I actually am. These guys must all be over 6 feet tall.) It was pretty awkward meeting them, but they were nice. The guitarist standing next to me, Scott Johnson, was nice and was about to put his arm around me for the picture until Bil walked up and he changed his mind. I guess he was worried about "Hey, Jealousy." Sorry, dumb joke.

The concert was really good. The lead singer, Robin Wilson, is really good with crowds. He often gave his tambourine to an audience member to play for a song and even sang into people's cell phones for them. I was impressed by how nice they were during the concert. At one point, Robin Wilson said, "Since this is a new concert venue and we are the first rock band to play here, they probably don't have rules yet, so why don't all you people in the front rows who paid $80 to be here, come up to this section in front of the stage." So, we all went and jammed right in front of the stage. We were so close we could see the drops of sweat on the bassist. For one song, he started playing so close to the edge of the stage, he was practically in Bil's face. In fact, here is a picture Bil got while Scott Johnson was jamming right in Bil's face, basically.

Anyway, it was a really fun way to celebrate my birthday, and since it only cost us a babysitter and a tip at the restaurant, it was quite a steal. One of my birthday presents was an iTunes gift card and I am thinking I just may buy some Gin Blossoms songs.

Friday, December 21, 2007

the gin blossoms

So, I got the most surprising phone call yesterday afternoon. One of the owners of the Firefly Grill (my favorite restaurant in town) called to tell me I had won tickets to see the Gin Blossoms in concert. Along with the tickets, I won a free 5-course dinner at the Firefly and backstage passes. I couldn't believe it because 1) I never win anything and 2) I hadn't even entered the drawing!! However, I soon discovered that Bil had filled out slips for him and I.

So, tonight, my husband and I are going to enjoy a delicious meal at the best restaurant (and one of the priciest, as well) in town and a cool concert. It's funny, because I wouldn't consider myself a huge Gin Blossoms fan, but last night when I looked up their music online, I realized I actually know quite a bit of their music. So, it should be really fun. And just in time for my birthday and wedding anniversary (both on the same day)!

Friday, December 14, 2007

bah humbug!

I have found the easiest antidote to Christmas cheer. Go to Wal-Mart on a very busy Friday morning with a crabby two year old! People were everywhere and everyone was getting in my way or blocking an aisle. I just wanted to scream, "Let me get the toilet bowl cleaner and I will be out of here. Can't you see I have a whiny child?" Wow, everything was getting on my nerves, especially the woman behind me in line, who was literally breathing down my back and would not give me any room in which to unload my cart. There were major personal space issues going on there. It was driving me crazy. She kept bumping into me and as soon as I moved to unload one side of the cart, she scooted up, so that I could not get back around my cart. It was way bizarre.

It took me the better part of the morning listening to Christmas music to cheer up. I tell you, I really think PMS should take a hiatus during the holidays. It only seems fair that we get a break at Christmas time......

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

good intentions


Why do I always think I can handle as much as a normal person? I just went for my second meals on wheels run today and it did not go well. A group of women at church recruited me to be on their MOW route, and I thought it would be a great way to do a bit of community service. As there are 5 of us, we each only have to do the route once every 5 weeks. It takes about an hour and a half and is pretty simple...for the average person. Unfortunately, I seem to have problems with "simple" tasks.

It started out well enough. The woman in charge forgot to give me a tray to carry the food, but I didn't think it would be a big deal. I was flying through the stops and was really rather pleased with myself. This time Charlotte wasn't crying at each and every stop as she did previously, and I rememered where most of the houses were. Things started getting dicey, though, when I got to the big apartment complex on the list where there are 4 people who get food. I had to take Charlotte in with me and that is when she decided to start crying inexplicably. I had to take this writhing, yelping child into the elevator and leave her crying in the hall as I dashed into apartment after apartment with an armload of food (that I kept dropping, of course, because I had no tray.)

This is also the point where I realized that I was supposed to be giving each stop a piece of cake along with their ice cream. The ice cream and cake were both in styrofoam containers in the cooler with the milk and they looked alike. In my rush to get things done, I never noticed that there were containers of cake AND ice cream. So, I now had 6 extra containers of cake and I was not about to retrace my steps and give out the forgotten cake with a screaming 2-year-old. It had already taken me the better part of an hour to get that part of the route done and I just knew my nerves couldn't handle going back. Call me lazy, but you try concentrating with my daughter screeching in your ear. It was not one of my finer moments. I was cursing in my head and frantically wondering what I would do with all this extra cake. I had a brief, frenzied thought of stuffing the evidence down my throat, but figured with my luck, I would choke on the cake.

So, I did what I saw as my only option. I gave the rest of my stops 2 pieces of cake along with their ice cream. Now I am wondering what I will do if somehow the director finds out that half of my route never received their cake...... Why do I feel often as if I am living through an "I Love Lucy" episode?

Friday, December 7, 2007

snow day


Charlotte and I have been confined to the house today. She threw up a couple of times yesterday, so I thought it wise to take it easy. It's a perfect day to stay in--it snowed a bit last night and although only about an inch accumulated, it feels nice and cozy indoors. Danny was thrilled this morning when he saw the snow. So thrilled, in fact, that he pulled up a rocking chair in front of our picture window and sat there watching the snow. He ate a mere half a granola bar for breakfast and was enticed to eat that much only when I reminded him that he could see the backyard from the kitchen. It seems that now that he has finally gotten his snow, he is unwilling to let it out of his sight.

Anyway, back to Char's and my day. Since I had some extra time, I thought I would make this caramel, peanut butter popcorn that I have been planning on giving as gifts this year (hey, I promised I wouldn't make cookies. I never said anything about popcorn.) The recipe is super easy to make, yet there were still some mishaps. The first happened when a friend stopped by to pick something up and I forgot about the corn syrup/sugar mixture cooking on the stove. It was boiling over by the time I remembered it. Then, as I was working, I got a few phone calls. Charlotte was eating popcorn at the counter, but when I looked up, I discovered she was also pouring corn syrup on the floor and counter. (She is obviously feeling better.) So, now, despite repeated washings, my kitchen floor is stickier than the local movie theater floor. I still think the popcorn will have been worth it.

The highlight of the day, though, was when I put on some Christmas music and Charlotte asked me to dance with her. She loves it when I pick her up and dance around the house with her in my arms. She giggles giddily when we spin in circles and when I dip her. By the time Harry Connick, Jr. had finished crooning 2 songs, I was beat.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

curb carb cravings!

I had the brilliant idea tonight of making biscuits for dinner and having Danny help me. He had helped me make pizza earlier in the week and so thoroughly enjoyed himself, I thought biscuits would be fun. And it was. Danny got the hugest kick out of rolling out the dough and using cookie cutters to make biscuits shaped like hearts and pumpkins (I need to expand my repertoire of cookie cutter shapes). At one point, Danny turned to me and said, "Mommy, leave." He wanted to work on his own and not one to thwart a child's independence (OK, I am one to thwart my kid's independence, but he so vehemently demanded that I leave him alone to his biscuit making, I had to aquiesce) I went to do some dishes. When I turned back, Danny had taken all the biscuits we had already cut out and smooshed them back into the big ball of dough. We were getting nowhere.

At that point, I stepped in and made some more biscuits whereupon Danny took his ball of dough, put it in my hair and said, "Mommy, let's make a hat!" Needless to say, we had fewer biscuits for dinner than I had planned on.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

radioactive material--yikes!


So, this morning I have ingested some radioactive material. The breakfast of champions! I went to the hospital bright and early for a thyroid scan, which involves taking a radioactive iodine pill. Later, I will return to the hospital and they will give me an x-ray to see what my thyroid has done with all the iodine. Apparently, my thyroid is overactive (glad to know some part of me is still an overacheiver) which may be why I am losing my hair.


Modern medicine is amazing, but it is a bit scary to walk into a room with radioactive material warnings all over it. Even more disconcerting is knowing you will be ingesting said radioactive material. I tried not to think too much about it as I swallowed the pill (which incidentally I was warned not to touch. Another scary sign), but now I keep wondering what it is doing inside of me. I wonder if my internal organs are glowing.......

Friday, November 30, 2007

Amazing conference

I just got home from Springfield, IL where I attended a conference on Sensory Processing Disorder. It was amazing. The two speakers are the most famous names in SPD, one an educator who works with children, another an occupational therapist who develops therapy and researches its effects. It was so incredibly informative and inspirational.

The best part was before lunch. I happened to be in the bathroom at the same time as Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, who is the OT/research scientist. I had read her book and have long admired her and the work that she does. Normally, I am too shy to talk to people like that, but she looked at me and caught my eye, and I knew I had to say something to her. I actually found myself tearing up as I thanked her for all her hard work on behalf of children like Danny. I told her that I actually cried during her presentation. She showed the differences in electrodermal reactivity in kids with SPD and normal kids when presented with sensory stimuli. There was a huge difference. Then she showed the ERD in SPD kids after 10 weeks of intensive therapy and their responses were the SAME as normal kids. I seriously cried when I saw that she could prove that the therapy works and that there is hope for kids with this disorder and that a kid can respond in as little as 10 weeks. So amazing.

It was so fascinating and validating to talk with her. We are going to look into taking Danny to her clinic in Denver this summer. I have no idea how much it would cost, but they have an intensive therapy program that I think would do wonders for him. At one point Dr. Miller also suggested that I go to school for occupational therapy and I was really surprised. That is actually an idea I have secretly toyed with over the last 2 years, but have been a bit less than confident about. It was gratifying that an amazingly brilliant scholar like Dr. Miller would think I have what it takes to become an OT. I really would love to do something like that. There is such a huge need for OTs, especially those who work with kids. And OTs who are certified in SPD therapy are even rarer. Over the last 2 years I have met so many parents of kids with SPD, all of whom feel as lost and alone as I did (and still do sometimes). I know firsthand what need there is of therapists who really understand this disorder and who don't just think it is a discipline or behavior problem. I think I am going to look into what I would have to do to get a Master's in OT. It is worth looking into, at any rate.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

deck the halls!


Our Thanksgiving plans were derailed when I came down with a severe migraine hours before our departure for Chicago. While it was horrible to be in such agony while having to run to the bathroom periodically to throw up, I am glad in a way, that we stayed home from Chicago. It was nice to be able to spend a quiet Thanksgiving weekend with my family at home.

Once the headache and nausea abated, we decided to spend Friday putting up and decorating the Christmas tree. And what a joy that ended up being! Danny was so excited when I asked him if he wanted to help me with the decorations, he could barely contain himself! He helped me get boxes down from the attic and dragged them to the living room. Once Bil had the tree up, Danny helped me with the decorating while Charlotte sat on the couch playing with some blue plastic ball ornaments that Danny had picked out at the store last year.

It turns out that Danny is the ideal tree trimmingpartner for me. He was so excited and interested in every single ornament and I was loving it. Every year of my life, my mom has given me and my siblings a Christmas ornament on St. Nicholas Day. Her goal was to help us collect enough ornaments so that once we were on our own, we would have a respectable number for our own trees. Some are homemade, some store bought, but they each have a story. Mom chose each ornament every year to reflect our personalities, likes, dislikes, etc. I have many delicate teacups and Victorian style ornaments, while my brother probably has more firefighter ornaments than he knows what to do with. My dad has some beer can and deer hunting ornaments, my little brother has an Incredible Hulk and my sister has a phone from her teen days.

But my all-time personal favorite is Dredlock Dorothy. One year, Mom made a character from the Wizard of Oz for each of us. I got Dorothy, complete with ruby slippers made from small, red sequins. She became extra special after the cat got to her. Suffice it to say, she no longer has cute pigtails--it's dredlocks all the way. For years we planned on fixing poor Dorothy, but now I can't bear to change her. Looking at her hair always gives me a laugh. Anyone can have a handmade Dorothy ornament, but I am confident that I own the only Dredlock Dorothy in the world.

Decorating the tree with Danny was so fun because he loved looking at each and every ornament. It didn't matter that he had seen dozens of snowman ornaments already, he still wanted to examine the next one. I would say, "Hey, Danny! Look, I found a reindeer ornament" and he would come running over saying, "Mommy, let me see!" He would look at it, admire it and then show it to Bil and sometimes even Charlotte. For some reason, it was touching to me. Maybe because it has been years since I have decorated a tree with someone who was even marginally as excited about it as I was. By the time I was a young adult, my siblings didn't really care about decorating the tree anymore. And I absolutely love it! I am not picky about how the tree looks. I don't use 7 strings of lights like my mom. It doesn't bother me a bit that all of the ornaments Danny put on the tree are crammed into one very small portion of the tree near the bottom. I just like the process of sifting through all the old ornaments and remembering when we received them. I love talking with my family and laughing and taking our time. It feels so good to anticipate the holiday season and start it off by making our home look a bit festive.

I sure hope Danny's exuberance doesn't die down anytime soon. I know realistically that one day it may not be cool to trim the tree with mom, but I am going to enjoy every minute until then! Heck, he's only 4--we have a few years to go yet, right?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

baking


I am taking a much needed break from my holiday baking. We are going to Chicago for Thanksgiving tomorrow and my sister asked that I bring the desserts. She has requested a peanut butter, hot fudge cheesecake, and I am also bringing a puppy dog cake (we are celebrating Charlotte's birthday). I also made a batch of pecan cups for my brother, and I am now officially burnt out on sweets. Even the smell of the cheesecake cooking right now is slightly nauseating to me. OK, well, it probably didn't help that I ate a few too many of the pecan cups. Blech!!

This has only strengthened my resolve to not make Christmas cookies this year. It is not something I think I can handle. The problem is, once I get started on making cookies, I get a little out of hand. The list of people who will be receiving my cookies grows and grows to include everyone from the librarians who are so nice to the kids, to just about everyone at church, and I start getting a bit obsessive. It never fails. Just ask Bil. Every year, he watches me in horror as I spiral out of control. He pleads with me to scale back, but I never heed his warnings. I start out having maybe 3 or 4 different kinds of cookies or candy to make and then keep adding to that list as well. I realize that most of the cookies have chocolate in them, so I should definitely make a kind that has no chocolate. Then, I remember the caramel truffles, which I decide I just HAVE to make. And then there are the sweets that you only ever make at Christmas, so those have to be made as well. My freezer ends up being filled with dozens and dozens of cookies.

And of course, all along the way, I sample. Last year, I had a particularly ugly incident with the caramel truffles. I ate so many in one sitting that my heart started racing and I was totally sick. I had to sleep it off. That was the closest to a hangover I have come in about 16 years. How scary is that?

I wonder if they have support groups for people like me. I am not even sure what it is I am addicted to. I know part of it is the sugar, but there has to be more to it than that. I think another part is that I like making things for people. And I do really connect food with the holidays and I think that I need to make them to make it a special holiday for my family. Then, of course, there is that insecure part of me that wants to impress others, which is probably where the impulse to make 7 varieties of sweets really comes from. Have you ever seen the episode of "Friends" where Monica makes Christmas candy for practically everyone in New York? That is exactly how I am. Scary, huh?

So, I will have to be strong this year and resist the urge to bake. I think cold turkey is the only way to go for me. I will miss it, but wow, think of all the other things I can get done in the hours and hours I normally spend baking! (Not to mention the hours I spend sleeping off the caramel truffles.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Joan of Arcadia

Bil and I have no cable, and because we live in the boondocks, we cannot get the major networks. In fact, all we get on our TV is static and snow. So, for the last 3 and a half years, we have watched almost no television. It was hard to get used to at first, but now I really enjoy being TV-free. I get a lot more done and don't find myself vegging out in front of shows I don't even like, as I used to do. Oh, the hours I wasted in front of "Dr. Phil."


Anyway, this TV fast definitely puts me at a disadvantage during pop culture conversations. Sadly, I don't know who I want to win "Dancing with the Stars" and I have no idea if Dr. Grey has finally gotten together with Dr. McDreamy. I guess I'll live. The great thing is our library carries a lot of DVDs from past seasons of TV shows. Recently, Bil and I watched the entire first season of "Arrested Development," which was quite funny, if a bit off color at times and very, very cynical.


One show that I can totally recommend is "Joan of Arcadia," which is about a girl to whom God appears and gives assignments. I know it smacks of "Touched By An Angel," but it is actually so good. I borrowed the whole first season on DVD from the library and we have been making our way through the episodes. I am really sad that this show was canceled in its second season. It is a really funny, intelligent show that makes you think about God, the universe, the purpose of life and how we are all connected. It is not at all preachy; in fact, the characters can often be quite cynical and regularly struggle with difficulties, and most especially with the question of why God lets us suffer if He loves us so much. It asks a lot of questions and allows the viewers to form their answers themselves. I'd highly recommend it if you can borrow it from the library.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Disturbing Diet

On Monday, I went with a friend to Terre Haute, Indiana to a bariatric center. She has been on this diet for a long time and has been raving about this center. She finally convinced me to check it out. (For a little background information, in the last 2 years or so, I have lost about 45 pounds. I still have between 20-30 pounds to go and have hit a major slump.) The center is run by a doctor and a nutritionist, so I thought they might be able to help me get a handle on my overeating.

It started off well: they ran every test known to man. They took blood, a urine sample, and even did an EKG, which I had never had done. It was all very thorough. What started to disturb me was when they gave me a vitamin B shot for energy and a potassium prescription. Then, I found out why that was protocol: the diet they advocate is very high protein (100 grams a day, which I later found out is twice the recommended daily allowance) and no carbs (well, unless you count what they call "good carbs," which is veggies only. No fruit, no grains, nothing.) The diet is so restricted that you need to have supplements so you don't become malnourished, basically. The abundance of protein is to keep you satisified and help prevent muscle loss.

It wasn't until I was on the way home that I started to ask questions (I had been there for 4 hours, mostly waiting and was ravenous since I had had to fast for the blood work, so I was pretty hazy). When I got home and did some calculations, I realized that if followed strictly, this diet would give me approximately 800-1000 calories a day. No wonder they are worried I will lose muscle mass. Heck, I would probably be ready to eat my own arm off after a few 800-calorie days. It also became clearer why I needed the vitamin-B shot: 800 calories would never give me the energy or nutrients I need to survive. I did some more research and discovered that to maintain my weight I need about 2200 calories. To lose a pound a week (which is what is considered safe by most experts) I should lower my intake by 500 calories, so I should really be eating more like 1500-1700 calories. This means that doctor is telling me to eat HALF of what I should. I don't understand how a doctor and a nutritionist can feel good about this diet. It seems so irresponsible to me. I mean, yes, people will lose weight, but at what cost?

Do any of you have any experience with the high protein craze? Anybody out there know about nutrition and what would happen if someone followed a diet like this? Do tell!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Nostalgia

This weekend, we went to Chicago to attend the wedding of my oldest friend. Dave moved in down the street from us in 1975 and has been a part of the family ever since. He was best friends with my twin brother, but was really like another brother to all of us. In fact, often in college Dave would introduce me to people as his sister. He was an only child and loved all the action at our house; we spent so much time with him over the years that my parents joked about claiming him on our income taxes. We played, laughed, fought and leaned on each other; I even dated him, for like 2 days in high school, before we decided it was just too weird, like dating a family member.

The wedding was beautiful. I was so happy for Dave, but a bit nostalgic. As I stood in St. Symphorosa (the Church where almost all major life events for the Porch family have taken place) a wave of memories washed over me. All the hockey games and water fights, all the high school dances and late night talks, all the days spent at the park playing softball and hanging out. The wedding was like one major flashback. And despite, or maybe because, my childhood was really very happy, reliving the memories was a bit sad for me. First, there was the realization that things will never be the same again. We have all grown up and moved on. We have families and jobs and real adult problems and responsibilities. A part of me misses those carefree days, especially after the last year, which has taught me a little something about the kind of fear I think you can only feel as an adult. Fear of loss, mainly, as in fear of losing a parent, a child, a loved one. Of course, I realize too that along with the responsibility and problems, come amazing opportunities to love and connect to people in ways different from what you are capable of as a child. So, though, I miss childhood, I am able to let it go with just a few longing glimpses back.

The second reason for the nostalgia is that I am looking back in a different way than I did a year or two ago. Now, I am seeing things through the eyes of an adult who realizes that her parents weren't as perfect, or even as happy, as she once thought. You see, my mom and dad are getting divorced. And I think this wedding, for whatever reason, really made me face what that means. All kinds of emotions I didn't realize I was feeling surfaced and I am not sure how to deal with them at all. It's crazy, really, because I feel like I am the thirteen-year-old heroine of some book like, "Are you there God, it's me Margaret?" I feel torn between my two parents and my loyalties to each. I want to help them see the good in the other and quit fighting. I want to make all the tension go away. I want it to all go back to the way it was, as imperfect as that may have been. More than anything, I don't want to know about any of it. I hate knowing that my parents feel anything but good things for each other. I want to protect them both, but more than that, I want to make it unnecessary to protect them.

I don't even know how to articulate some of the strange feelings that have come over me. I feel like this divorce almost changes the past, the "happy" childhood that I lived. As if our family was all fake. At the wedding this weekend, I ran into a girl who lived on our block for a few years. Jeanine's parents had had a really ugly divorce and she kind of glommed onto my family, which actually happened to us a lot. We had several different friends or cousins living with us at one time or another, mostly because of the major dysfunction in their own families. Despite our quirks and craziness, we were the safe harbor for these friends of ours. Jeanine, who had always been a major drama queen--self-indulgent and self-absorbed--spent long stretches of time at the wedding waxing prolix about how our family helped her. She was completely wasted, which I am sure only served to loosen her tongue, and she started to really grate on me. When she mentioned my parents and how she had always loved them and how they were her role model for healthy relationships, yadda yadda, I had the perverse urge to fill her in on the fact that Ma and Pa Porch were splitting up. It was only my lack of emotional fortitude that stopped me; I just knew I didn't have the energy to comfort her after I spilt the beans.

As much as Jeanine annoyed me at the wedding, she was right about something. My parents were really special to a lot of people. They were always around and were very supportive to us and our friends. My house was the place everyone hung out, and they all love my parents. Dave, Jamie, Luigi, Renee, Mary Kay, Dave Lewis, among others, really looked to my mom and dad as second parents. I know this divorce doesn't really change anything about the past, but it's hard not to feel that it does. I guess I really have some issues I need to deal with. I thought I was OK with it all, that I was mature enough to just want what was best for my parents. I guess I thought I was too old for it to hurt so much.

I was so wrong.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Buzz off, kids!!


I am sick of kids. My kids and other people's kids, it doesn't matter. I am sick of all of them. Harsh, I know, but there it is. It has not been a good kid week, probably because I have not had a single break from them all week. Yes, here I go again with the complaints. Danny had therapy Monday, which means he misses school and we drive over an hour each way to Champaign. This, of course, messes up both kids' schedules, which typically guarantees that we are all crabby when Bil gets home. Tuesday and Wednesday, I then babysat all day for friends' kids, and for some reason, Charlotte opted not to nap unless I rocked and held her the whole time. As sweet and wonderful as it is to rock my baby, this time does NOT constitute a break. Plus, no matter how good someone else's kid might be (and none of them are perfect) they are always harder to take care of, I think.

Now, today, Danny is home because he isn't feeling very well. I just put the two of them down for naps and am praying like crazy they will fall asleep. Is it wrong to ask God that they sleep until their father gets home--some 4 hours from now--when I am planning on making a break for it? I have decided to take the Red Cross up on their offer of giving me a break and go and donate some blood. Pathetic, pathetic. I look forward to sitting with a needle in my arm for 15 minutes just so I can get out of the house and be alone. I really need some help. Or a hobby. I don't know.

I feel a bit lost lately, as if I don't know who I am anymore. (I hate that I am a living cliche. The mom who has lost herself while caring 24 hours a day for her children. It just sounds so trite.) I realized that I have been a stay-at-home mom for over 3 years, which is actually longer than I have ever held any other job. I was a teacher for over 5 years, but during that time held many different jobs at a variety of schools and levels, including college and high school. So, really this is the longest I have been with any one employer. (Don't get all femi-nazi on me; I call the kids my boss, not my husband!!! And talk about some demanding tyrants for bosses!)

On top of that, this "job" is so all-consuming, so as cliche as it sounds, I feel like I have lost bits of myself along the way and am not sure what to do about it. I have lately been really lusting after a job, thinking that might help. Two weeks ago when I was at the library, I found out that they are looking for a replacement for the assistant children's librarian. It only requires a high school diploma, so I have a feeling it doesn't pay all that well, but that doesn't matter. I wanted that job more than I have wanted anything in a while. The librarian I talked to was excited when she heard my credentials and I just had a feeling I would be a shoo-in if I applied. If I got the job, I would help with all the kids' programs, reading hour, help decorate the kids areas, help kids find books and all that great stuff. The stuff of my dreams!

But then reality set in. I would not only have to find and pay for day care for Charlotte (which would probably end up costing me most of my salary), but would also have to find someone to get Danny from school almost every day. Then, I remembered Danny's therapy and knew it totally wouldn't work. I mean, I could hardly ask for every other Monday off, could I? Plus, I remember what it was like when I had to work when Danny was a baby, and I know I wouldn't be able to do it. At least not right now. It would be too hard after all the problems I had with Danny's daycare situation (suffice it to say that he watched more Spanish soap operas in his first year than most of my ESL students combined) to be able to trust someone with my kids. Also, I know now is the time for me to raise my kids, spend time with them, teach them, enjoy them. I mourned the loss of that job for a day or so, and even toyed with the idea of interviewing anyway, just to see if I could get it. This will sound crazy, but it was so appealing to me to even just be offered a job: validation and proof that I could do something other than what I am doing right now...

So, what do I do with myself in the meantime? Maybe I should look into taking a class or something. I don't know. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scary movie for Halloween

I am not a big fan of being scared. I hate gory movies and am a pretty big scaredy cat. I would never go into an abandoned building, would never investigate a strange sound in the night (isn't that what husbands are for?) and I doubt I would ever be the one to volunteer to kill the monsters if our world were taken over by aliens. I get paralyzed when I am scared. What a wimp. That said, my movie recommendation may be scarier to me than to you, but it really freaked me out. The movie "1408" was freaky. John Cusak is in it, which is one of its perks, in my opinion. Bil rented it and I had to leave the room a few times because I was so scared. Here's the thing, it was more the suspense that scared me than actual scary stuff. Does that make sense?

The movie is about an author who reviews supposedly haunted hotels and such in his books. Basically, he doesn't believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but is intrigued when he hears about room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. No one is allowed to check into this room, so of course, Mike becomes hell-bent on staying the night in the room. According to all the stories, no one lasts more than an hour in the room and some really crazy stuff has happened to people who stayed there. I won't give it away, but it was scary, I think. It left some questions unresolved (like why is the room so evil?) but overall was pretty interesting. Anyway, I found myself ruminating over the movie for several days afterwards, so I can definitely say it intrigued me. So, if you are in the mood for a scary movie that is not rated R and has very little gore, check it out. And let me know what you think of it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I'm Losing My Hair (and my mind)!

I think I am going bald. No, my hair does not seem unusually thinned out, but it does seem to be falling out a lot more than usual. Maybe it is just that I am noticing it more, but it amazes me lately how much I find in the sink after washing it. Or in my hands after running my fingers through my hair. How much hair is normal to lose in one day? Is is cyclical? Do you lose more hair in certain seasons than others?

A friend asked if I was under stress, because that can cause hair loss. Um, yes. I do have some stress in my life right now. I mean, crap, I have two kids under 5. Not to mention, one of them has some special needs. And let's not even get started on my mom's cancer, my parents' separation, and all the other more common worries I have. You know the ones: is Danny getting enough vegetables? Am I paying enough attention to the kids? Did they just hear that swear word that slipped out, and more importantly, are they going to repeat it in front of someone really embarrassing, like say, my bishop?

And if that weren't enough, I am potty training Danny. I mean, holy cow, that alone is giving me enough stress to probably take 10 years off my life! (Although surely, it is paving my way to Heaven, right? I mean shouldn't you get brownie points every time you clean poop off of walls, floors, and small butts, not to mention all the very strange places the poop often ends up?)

And now, I get to be stressed out by the fact that my stress levels may be making me bald. Yikes!!! Maybe I should just go out and buy some hats now and be comforted that if I do indeed lose my hair, I will save time on hair styling in the morning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

You Want a Piece of Me?!?!?!

I am not very good at dealing with stress. I get overwhelmed at times and often take it out on my family. I had a really bad night last night; after spending over an hour in a committee meeting last (and let's not even mention the Primary presidency meeting I had in the morning) I came home tired, only to be awakened around 1AM by my son. Hec limbed into bed with us and then proceeded to toss and turn and kick and flail. Finally, out of desperation, I left the comfort of my large, warm bed (with pillow top mattress and nice down comforter) to sleep in Danny's vacant single bed. Well, apparently Danny was not interested in sharing a bed with his dad. Instead, his mission was to torment me and insure that I would get no more than 5 consecutive minutes of sleep. Finally, after hours of lying in his cramped bed with his smelly blanket in my face and Danny snoring in my ears, I got up and returned to my bed, where Bil promptly began his own, very loud snoring. If I hadn't been so tired, I might have seen the humor in the situation, but as it was, I felt like the entire universe was conspiring to keep me sleep-deprived.

Then, this morning, Danny decided to refuse to get dressed for school. This is the second day in a row that he has been late because he wouldn't cooperate. I think it is because he is coming down with a cold and is tired, but I was completely at my wits' end. I didn't know what to do, and to be honest, in my sleep-deprived and PMS-induced hysteria, I was not at my best.

After finally getting Danny to school an hour late, Charlotte and I went grocery shopping, where I ran into a woman from church who is moving soon. She asked me to come over soon to help her organize and declutter her house. I have helped her declutter in the past, and she has asked me to help her on other occasions, as well. I know it is not very charitable, but I can't help resenting the request for help.

On top of that request, I am babysitting three times in the next week for friends. Also, I have Meals on Wheels next Wed, as well as a whole bunch of preparation I have to do for church on Sunday. Then, this afternoon the branch president calls to ask me to speak on Sunday. By the time 7:00 rolled around this evening, I was totally frazzled and exhausted. The kids have been crabby (did I mention Charlotte refused to nap today and that I completely scorched a pan of rice?), I have been crabby, and of course, Bil had to leave immediately after dinner for the youth group activity that happens every Wed. night. I found myself envying him and his opportunity to escape all this domestic bliss.

Anyway, so when the Red Cross called this evening, I felt it was appropros. With all the demands for my time and energy, it only seems fitting that I be asked to donate some blood, too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Franz, not Frank!

I have just made a major discovery about my grandpa, a man who I love dearly, but who passed away when I was in high school. I really miss him a lot, so when my sister-in-law offered to do a little research about him, I was excited. You see, Betsy is really into genealogy and has been lobbying me to join her in her passion for years. I would love to, but until now, have been reluctant because I have no idea where to start. Who knew all it would take to motivate me was one little discovery. My grandpa's name was really Franz, not Frank.

He came to the US from Austria during the Depression and was quite reticent about his past. He never spoke German, and typically spoke very little about his home country. He believed that once you came here, you were an American and should learn English and do your best to fit in. Admirable attitude, but it has left a dearth of information about our heritage. I so wish I had been wiser in my youth and had asked more questions. Anyway, when Betsy actually found my grandpa's immigration records, I was so excited I could barely sleep. And finding out that his name was not actually Frank (I know some of you may wonder how I could possibly NOT have guessed that his name would have been Franz in German. I don't know why I never thought of it. Perhaps because aside from his bull-headedness and German accent, he was 100% American...I don't know) has made me more determined to find out more about him and my other ancestors...with the help of Betsy of course, because I still really don't know what I am doing. But, really if anyone can learn how to do research, it should be a girl with an English Lit. degree, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Food is not for eating....


If you have toddlers, you may be familiar with the books "Teeth Are Not For Biting" and "Hands Are Not For Hitting." We own the teeth book and have read it so many times to our kids that Bil and I have it memorized. Not an astounding accomplishment, with all its repetitions, but really not bad for someone like me, who could not for the life of me remember my phone number last year when I was opening up a bank account for Char (seriously, they have the wrong number on record, because of my unexplainable memory loss). Anyway, I digress.


OK, sorry, I have one more digression. I think the book "Teeth Are Not For Biting" is really pretty misleading. I mean teeth really ARE for biting, aren't they? Every time I read it, I feel dishonest, but I suppose for the purpose of indoctrinating our kids I will have to deal with it. I just keep waiting for the day when one of them says, "Yeah, right, mom. Whatever. What else are you supposed to do with teeth except bite?!?!" I know they will someday, because they are much cleverer than I am, that's for sure.


Alright, the point of this blog is that I had an idea awhile back of writing a companion book called, "Food is Not For Eating." The idea came after searching the Internet for low-cal dessert recipes. I found a glut of supposedly healthy recipes that were filled with all kinds of chemicals, including artificial colors and sweeteners. In fact, on the Weight Watchers website people give their tips for losing weight and it amazes me how many of them regularly consume what I call "fake" food. You know, like fake butter, fake sugar, etc. I even read an article in some fitness magazine in which the writer decided to not eat any "fake" diet food for a period of time. Apparently, she had been entirely subsisting on diet sodas, diet protein bars, etc. and rarely eating anything that even closely resembled food. She actually enjoyed the break from diet foods and did not gain any weight as she had feared.


Now, it's not that I have anything against processed foods. I mean, consume my fair share of Diet Coke and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, but I wonder about diet programs that purport to be healthy, but still promote eating artificial sweeteners, colors, etc. (Don't even get me started on artificial colors. They are in EVERYTHING, which makes it difficult for me because red food coloring can give me migraines. Plus, people are claiming that it makes some kids more hyperactive, etc. There is red food coloring in just about everything, including chocolate pudding. Why, why, why would they need red coloring in pudding??? Riddle me that!)


OK, I will get off my soapbox. It is just something I have been thinking about lately. I wonder, too, if indulging in all these chemicals actually sabotages my weight loss efforts. Some researchers think so. Apparently, it makes us crave more. More sugar, more salt, more everything. It makes me rethink that Diet Coke I was craving....

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The P List

Yes, I am having delusions of grandeur and comparing myself to Oprah. Have you ever seen her "O List"? It is typically a list of obscenely overpriced, but beautiful doodads that would never last a day in my house. (We often call the kids "the Angels of Destruction," if that tells you anything.) Anyway, I do have some favorite things that are much more affordable than Oprah's and thought I would share.


**"Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins

I know I regularly give book recommendations, but they truly are my favorite things! I am only about a third of the way through this tome, and I am enjoying it immensely. It was written in the 19th century and was a huge success at the time. Somewhere along the line, it seems to have lost some of its popularity, and I can't figure out why, because it is so good. It is full of suspense and really interesting, complicated characters. And the writing. Oh, the writing! The language is beautiful and makes it so pleasurable to read that even if the plot weren't as mysterious and exciting as it is, it would still be a good read.

**Flat-Out Wraps
These wraps are so yummy and made with whole grains, so they have tons of fiber. I have been eating them like crazy, typically with turkey, sprouts and other veggies, spread with Alouette spreadable herbs and garlic cheese. They are so good. And it doesn't hurt that they are healthy!

**Edy's Limited Edition Mango ice cream
Bil just bought this for me, so I have not yet tried it, but it has chunks of real mango in it, so it has to be good. Mango is far and away my favorite fruit. In fact, I have a secret theory that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was actually a mango. That would have been tempting!

**The music from "Wicked," a broadway musical about the wicked witch of
the west
I know not everyone shares my enjoyment of musicals, but this soundtrack is actually really funny and endearing. I especially like the song "What is this feeling?" sung by Glynda and Alphaba (the name of the wicked witch of the west) who happen to be roommates at boarding school. My favorite lines go something like this, "Loathing, unadulterated loathing, for your face, your voice, your clothing, Let's just say I loathe it all. Every little trait however small makes my very flesh begin to crawl with simple utter loathing. There's a strange exhilaration in such total detestation." I mean, how can you not love a song with lyrics like those?

**Melvil Poupaud
I just rented Zoe Cassavetes' latest movie "Broken English" with Parker Posey starring as a 30-something single woman in New York who is very unlucky in love. It was really an enjoyable movie, especially because of Posey's French love interest Julien played by Melvil Poupaud. Wow, he is so captivating; the way he looks at Posey with these big serious brown eyes is really seductive. I can't explain the allure, but I really liked his character and thought that he was quite convincing. Check it out next time you are at Blockbuster.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My son, the bruiser

Poor Danny has had a really rough weekend. He started it by falling off my bed while rough housing (is that one word, or two?) with Bil. When he fell, he somehow managed to scrape the entire bridge of his nose up pretty badly. He now has an enormous scab on his nose, which he likes to pick at. Saturday, while playing in the ball pit that Bil constructed out of PVC pipe and netting, Danny managed to, in Bil's words, "rack himself" on the ball pit. That one was pretty painful for the poor kid: it seemed like it took hours before he could go to the bathroom again. Now, today Danny was hit in the nose by a friend from Church with an enormous crab apple. His nose bled for what seemed like hours and he really cried, which is somewhat unusual for him in terms of getting hurt. He just doesn't quite feel pain like the average human. So, I knew this hurt a lot.

It just so happens that things like this always seem to occur right before a visit from my mom. She will be here Wed. and will probably ask immediately upon seeing poor Danny's beaten up face, "What have you done to my grandson?!?" The last time she saw the kids, Charlotte had managed to scrape up a section right under her eye on the sidewalk. I think my mom is seriously wondering what we do to these kids.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Some book recommendations

I have read a couple of really good books lately that I thought I would pass on.

** The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield
This book is so good I had a really hard time putting it down. Although it was written this year, it has the feel of an 1800's gothic novel. It reminded me a lot of "Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre," which are both referred to in the book. The story is about a famous author who is dying. She has given interviews to many people, but has never been honest about the story of her life--no one knows who she really is. Now that she is ill, she has decided to finally have her biography written. The book is about her life and how she reveals her secrets to her biographer. I am not at all doing it justice. All I can say, is it is a great read, especially on a really gloomy afternoon when you can curl up on the couch with some hot chocolate.

**The Painted Veil by William Somerset Maugham
I know I already wrote a blog about this movie, but here is a recommendation for the book. I actually think I prefer the movie to the book, as far as plot goes, but the book is a very good read. The language is beautiful and the characters are developed in ways different from the book. If you read it, let me know what you think about the line, "The dog it was who died." I have my ideas, but would love to hear yours.

**Mozart and the Whale by Mary and Jerry Newport
This is a memoir of two people who have Asperger's syndrome, which is a high functioning version of autism. If you have ever wondered about the way the brain works, especially in those who suffer from neurological disorders, this book might interest you. Jerry and Mary write very sincerely, succintly and are very upfront about their difficulties, gifts and talents. My favorite part about the book is how both Mary and Jerry (who are husband and wife) finally learn to love themselves and embrace their differences.

Let me know if you read any of these. I would love to know what you think of them.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Hills are Alive With the Sound of Rejoicing!!!


I am so happy, I want to sing it from the mountaintops!!! We had Danny tested today and have gotten all our questions answered. Best of all, he does not have an autism spectrum disorder. I cannot tell you how elated I feel. Dr. Richards explained a lot of his behavior to us and helped us understand what is going on. Basically, he has a global developmental delay (she also called it a brain maturation lag) which means he is delayed in more than one area. She thinks along with his auditory processing disorder, he also has a visual processing disorder, so we will be having him tested for that. She said a famous doctor has studied this disorder and found that almost all kids with this problem really start to improve around 3 years old. She is confident that within two years, he will have overcome his delay.

It is all very complicated and we have much work to do to help Danny improve, but now we know that he WILL improve. And, on top of that, all the therapy he has been getting was exactly the right course to take. Dr. Richards told us time and again that we were doing the right things for Danny, that our instincts were right, that as unorthodox as some of our methods are (have I mentioned that Danny sleeps in a 3-man tent? He hasn't slept in a bed in months...), these techniques were just what he needed. Talk about validation. So, as I said, there is still much work and therapy to be done, but I have been rejuvenated. Somehow the idea of more therapy no longer fills me with weariness.

Well, I should quit rambling. I need to figure out how to rig up a ball pit for Danny. I have to admit, most of the equipment we buy for Danny's therapy is really a lot of fun. It has made our family room into a bit of an oddity (we have a net swing hanging from our ceiling, a mini trampoline, and soon a ball pit), but we were never going to be featured in "Better Homes and Gardens" anyway.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Joy of Housecleaning


For anyone in doubt, the title is completely facetious. I do not enjoy cleaning, though I do enjoy the fruits of my labors. It is so nice to have a clean, organized house. Unfortunately for me, that is always a fleeting experience. I just finished mopping the floor and the kids are in bed. That means for the next 12 hours or so, the kitchen and bathroom floors will actually stay clean. Once the kids have woken up tomorrow morning, all bets are off. It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least among moms) that a child will always spill on a clean floor. My floor could be dirty and no one would spill a single drop for days, but as soon as I mop, it is almost as if another force--one even stronger than gravity--is working and the kids are powerless to avoid spilling everything. It is quite frustrating, but you learn to live with it.

I just noticed this week that my fridge is leaking water. I have no idea what that means, but I assume it is not a good thing. While we definitely could do without the expense of a new refrigerator, I was actually disappointed when my husband said he could probably fix it. And do you want to know my pathetic reason? Actually, sadly the reason is if we bought a new refrigerator, there would be no need to clean out the old one. I am actually tempted to spend the hundreds of dollars just so I can have a beautiful, immaculate fridge with no spills. I think I need a vacation. Or therapy.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Motherhood is anxiety-inducing!

Do any of you worry too much? I myself am not sure what would constitute as excessive worrying, as I happen to accept worrying as inextricably linked with loving someone fiercely, but I have been informed by my husband that I definitely succumb to too much worrying. I just don't understand how one can be a parent and NOT be worried! And I have very little idea of how to turn the worrying off.

Mostly right now, I am worried about Danny and his future. He is being evaluated by a developmental pediatrician in 2 weeks and I am very concerned about what his diagnosis might be. To be honest, I think he will be labeled as being on the Autism Spectrum and it frankly scares me to death. Bil thinks it is insane to spend any time or energy worrying about it. Why worry until we know exactly what is going on? he thinks. And really, that makes sense. But something he should really understand about me by now is that I rarely make sense when it comes to emotionally charged issues. And there is nothing more emotional for me than the welfare of my children.

There are so many worries running through my head. What if Danny has a disorder that will impair his abilities to make lasting friendships? Will he be destined to be constantly lonely? Is everything going to be more challenging for him than it would be for a "normal" kid? I worry because I have read that kids with certain developmental delays often suffer from depression or get involved in promiscuity and/or drugs to deal with low self esteem. I worry that he will be bullied or that he will end up hating school. Heck, I worry that I will never get him potty trained.

Many people have told me not to worry, but those sorts of responses just make me feel isolated and sad. I guess what I crave is for someone to commiserate and tell me that while this completely sucks, I can and will make it through. That Danny will be okay. That it is natural to worry about my children, that it doesn't make me neurotic (at least no more neurotic than I have always been). That it is okay to be a little angry that life has thrown these challenges at my sweet little boy. I just want the best for him. And despite knowing that my overprotectiveness will probably result in years of therapy for my kids, I want more than anything to protect him from ever being hurt by anyone. I know this is not a good idea. We all have to deal with the rejection, challenges and general unpleasantness this world has to offer. That is partly why we are here: to learn and grow. BUT, isn't it enough for my son to have the regular, garden-variety challenges that we all face? Why add a disorder that will make it all so much harder, as if puberty by itself isn't painful enough?

OK, I will stop wallowing now. Don't worry about me. I just needed to get this off my chest, so when the time comes if my son is diagnosed with something in addition his Sensory Integration Dysfunction, I will be ready for the fight. Because if there is something I do know, it is that I would do anything for my kids. I will overcome this weariness that I am feeling and add more therapy, more exercises, more work to my load. Danny is worth it and I will not give up on him. I know he can deal with whatever life throws at him, and I will be there with him every step of the way.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Musical Walk Down Memory Lane

Rebecca, I again took your lead and copied your wonderful finetune idea. I showed Bil the website and how you can compile a list of at least 45 songs, and we spent the better part of two hours tonight playing around on it. How fun!! They have most artists you can think of and you are allowed to download three songs from each artist. For those yet uninitiated to this great source, it is http://www.finetune.com/. You, too, can add a finetune feature to your blog--for free!!!

So, if you are interested in the songs and artists that I enjoy, click on the icon in the sidebar and prepare to be musically dazzled.

Messes

I am sure you have noticed that decluttering one's house or even just a closet, tends to create messes of epic proportions. I am in the middle of cleaning out the kids' closets and dressers and am exhausted. This is a huge job. It amazes me how much junk can fit into one small closet. It really seems to defy the laws of nature.

And I am burnt out! It doesn't help that I spent 2.5 hours last night at church cleaning out the Primary closet (I was recently put back into Primary after being away a year) and we found junk in there from at least 5 years ago.


I wish someone would start a closet dejunking business. They could really make millions, I believe. If they could also potty train my oldest, I think I would give them my house in repayment!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Good, good, good, good vibrations!!!


She's givin' me good vibrations! She's givin' me excitations (whatever that word means. Bil reminded me of poetic license when I said it wasn't a real word) !


I can't get this song out of my mind. Bil and I just got back from Chicago where we took my mom to see the Beach Boys at Ravinia (an outdoor concert arena that is amazingly beautiful and fun to attend). I was surprised at how many of their songs I recognized and could sing. It was really a lot of fun. There were many people dancing under the stars and ok, many of them were older and lacked rhythm, but were fun to watch nonetheless.


Overall, the weekend was really nice, if a bit exhausting. Saturday we took the kids and my brother's girlfriend, Agnieszka, on a 15-mile bike ride on a beautiful bike trail in the suburbs. I also participated in a 5K walk with my sister and other family members to benefit a group against drunk driving. That added to the fact that my beloved children did not sleep well, has contributed to the exhaution factor of the weekend. Friday night I made the mistake of sleeping with Danimal and repeatedly woke with his foot in my face. I finally wised up and moved to the couch.
I guess that ends my ramblings for today. We need to get the kids in bed, so we can collapse.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Obsession


Lately, I seem to be inundated with weight loss information. I know it comes with the territory when you join Weight Watchers, but I am noticing it everywhere; magazines, videos, a large percentage of conversations among women that I overhear or am part of. I have many friends right now who are trying to lose weight and of course, we talk about it. A lot. I know it is important to be healthy and fit. I have worked really hard over the last year and a half to lose the weight that I have, and I still have more to lose. The problem is, sometimes I feel like it becomes an obsession. I think about it all the time. When I am about to eat, I plan out my menu; after I have eaten, I either feel proud of myself or guilty, depending on what I have eaten. I am just so sick of thinking about food all the time. I wish it didn't have such a hold over me. I wish I could just naturally eat a healthy, balanced diet, not to mention eat only when I am hungry instead of when I am lonely, bored, or stressed.


Not too long ago, I read an article by Eve Ensler, who stressed that if women spent as much time and energy thinking about some world problem and how to fix it as we do about our weight and bodies, the world would be an amazingly better place. How true, how true. I think I am going to try to make that my goal: Focus on making the world a better place, even in my own small way....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Art of Will Cullen Hart




My husband has been raving about this artist, Will Cullen Hart, who also happens to be a musician. He used to be in The Olivia Tremor Control, an Athens, GA band who have split up. Bil discovered Hart's Art (hee, hee, I'm a poet) when he stared mindlessly at the liner notes of "Dusk at Cubist Castle," one of the band's albums. You can view his art on the Internet. Just Google Hart's name and up will pop many websites. My favorites of his works are entitled "Green" (the top painting as you can well imagine) and "Black Foliage." If only I had a couple extra thou lying around, one of them could be mine!
Oh, and if you are wondering about the band, Bil claims they sound like the early Beatles' songwriting with the later Beatles style production. If that means anything to you, definitely check out their albums.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Save the Environment!!!


I don't do nearly as much as I should with regards to environmentalism. I really try, but there are so many more things I could probably be doing. Which is why I was so excited to find the website http://www.envirosax.com/, where you can buy polyester totes, each of which can hold two bags of groceries. They are really sturdy AND washable. The designs are really, really cute and at about $7 a bag, they are pretty darn affordable, especially when you think of how using them instead of plastic bags helps the environment. Read these facts and see what you think:

Plastic bags create pollution and kill wildlife in the USA every day of the year.
Single use plastic bags made of HDPE remain in the environment for up to approx. 1,000 years.
Over 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles worldwide are killed by plastic rubbish every year.

I bought a set of 5 bags today and plan on using them for all my groceries from now on. According to the website, they are lightweight and can easily fit into your glove compartment.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I Love School!!


It happens every year around this time. I start jonesing for school. I love the beginning of a new school year, all the fresh opportunities. I know I am a geek, but I always loved registering for classes, especially in college, planning exactly what to take when and how to space out all the classes so I wasn't having to write papers for all 5 classes. (This is an occupational hazard of English majors. That and having to pay an arm and a leg for textbooks and Shakespeare anthologies, and later chiropractic bills to reverse damage induced by carrying all those expensive books.) My mom used to joke that I would be a student forever if I could make a living at it.


Which I guess is partly why I became a teacher. Here was a chance to decide not just what classes to teach, but also what material I would use. It was heaven. Also, I was lucky to have taught at an alternative school where the principal was very supportive of bringing in unorthodox teaching methods and materials. My very favorites were the Drama classes, in which we read most of August Wilson's works. He is the most amazing contemporary playwright and it was incredible to teach those plays. If you have never heard of him, you should seriously check out one of his plays. (If you are a first timer, I would suggest starting with "Fences" or "The Piano Lesson." Wilson won Pulitzers for both of those plays) He wrote a cycle of 10 plays, one for each decade of the twentieth century, each depicting the black man's struggles. The beauty of these plays, however, is that his themes transcend race and time. Anyone can relate to something in his plays, I believe.


I was incredibly lucky to have had a chance to hear him speak in Chicago about 2 years before his death. Wilson is one of my heroes, completely brilliant, but he is a high school dropout, which made him an easy writer for most of my students to relate to.

I think I may take out some of his plays and reread them. Maybe it will comfort me a bit when school starts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Splishing and A-Splashing


Yesterday afternoon, my kids and I decided to fight the extremely high temperatures here in Illinois by going to the pool. Yes, the temps here have been in the 100's, which I can't get over. It feels like we are in Nevada or Arizona, except with loads and loads of humidity. Doesn't do a lot for your sinuses, let me tell you.

We spent almost three hours at our wonderful community pool and the kids are now rewarding me by sleeping in this morning. Ahhh, peace and quiet. It is so much easier to use the computer without Char reaching up and pounding on the keyboard. Speaking of Char, she was really funny at the pool. The kids' pool is like the beach; it starts out so shallow a baby could crawl in it and only get his knees wet. Charlotte was getting really brave this time and kept walking into the pool and then would turn around and walk out of the pool, go visit Ronald McDonald (I don't know what she was saying to the statue of him sitting on a bench, but hopefully she was giving him an earful about how disapproving she is of McDonalds' many shady business practices) and then come back. Char kept doing it over and over again. Every once in a while she would spice things up by sitting down in the water. What cracked me up was that each time she sat down, she would stare in amazement down at the water lapping at her feet and legs. She was adorable (I know I am biased, but still...) with her damp hair curling all over her head and her little plump legs and arms kicking in the water. Reminded me of the Coppertone baby.

The kids had a blast and, at one point, even made me take them in the adult pool where I had to hold one of them in each arm and walk them all over the pool. Danny was a little tyrant; there was a butterfly flitting around and he wanted me to chase it. However, it soon flew near the deep end, and we had to end our chase. Danny kept yelling, "Chase the butterfly. MOMMY, chase the butterfly." It was pretty comical. I think I caught an elderly woman laughing at us.

It's funny because sometimes I really miss my pre-kid days when things were less stressful. I get nostalgic about all the fun I had when I was free to go wherever I wanted without having to pack snacks and sippy cups or get a babysitter. Yesterday, however, I realized that I really have a lot more fun with my kids than I ever did without them. They are my license to be silly and let loose. With my kids by my side, I forget about being embarrassed about what other people think and I concentrate on watching them laugh with abandon. Plus, they are a really good excuse to let go of all my stupid body insecurities and don a bathing suit. As cliche as it sounds, they have helped me stop and smell the roses. Just the other day, as I sweatily pulled the kids in the wagon (I keep telling them to remember all these wagon rides when I am old and need to be pushed in my wheelchair) we saw a butterfly coming out of its coccoon. Danny was beside himself with amazement and kept saying, "Look, mommy, it's the very hungry caterpillar!" No trip to the Art Institute could compare to that!

With less than two weeks before school starts back up, I am glad we have been having a pretty fun summer.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Movie recommendations


One movie I recommend that you not bother seeing is "Premontition." It was completely unsatisfactory and a big letdown. After all the suspense and questions, it ended with me thinking, "What a waste!" and I only spent a dollar renting it.

The movie I wholeheartedly recommend is "The Painted Veil." This is a move that I have thought about many, many times after seeing it. It was hard to get out of my mind. Totally enthralling. The scenery (mostly set in China) was breathtaking, but the best part of the film is the relationship between the main characters, a husband and wife. I don't want to give anything away, but if you are looking for a movie that portrays realistic, dynaimc characters you should really rent this one. The characters change so much and you can really relate to their humanness (is that a word?) Plus, the tension between the 2 is palpable. I was on tenterhooks waiting to see how their relationship would turn. the day after I saw it, I actually watched whole chunks of the movie again. The acting is great too and it doesn't hurt that you get a little peek at Ed Norton's bare booty.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chemo is over!!!

Just a quick update on my mom. For those of you I haven't talked to in a while, yesterday was her last chemo treatment. We are all so relieved. So far everything looks good. They will be checking her a lot in the next few years to make sure she remains cancer-free, which of course is what we are all praying for.

Friday, July 20, 2007

No Seep!

I know this is completely cliche, but (aren't most cliches true? ) why is it that kids have all this energy and adults don't? I would love to have a bit of my kids' energy sometime. The other night, Char was screaming at the top of her lungs when I put her down for the night. I knew she was very tired, but instead of giving in to the sleep, she just screamed lustily. I went in to rock her and hopefully help her calm down so she could finally sleep. As she snuggled with me , I started drifting off. I woke up with a start and noticed her staring up at me with her big brown eyes. I said, "Charlotte, you have to go to sleep."



She responded with, "No seep, no seep, no seep." Then she got down from my lap, picked up her stuffed caterpillar off the floor, hugged it and started to toddle out of the room in search of her brother, who I might add was already tucked into bed and snoring. She kept saying, "Danny! Danny! I want Danny!" I finally got up the energy to chase after her and put her back in bed, where she proceded to scream.



Everytime I hear her say, "No seep" it makes me laugh and feel a bit wistful at the same time. When did I change from a little kid who was so determined not to miss out on an opportunity to play and explore into an adult who just wants to lie down and be lazy? I want to be more excited about life like little kids are. The other night both of my kids were transfixed by a bunny rabbit in our front yard. They were completely delighted. I guess that is their gift to me: a reminder that life is fun and exciting and sometimes almost as good as sleep.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

No More Criticism, Please!!!!

After this blog, I promise not to be negative for a while. I have just had one too many negative experiences with people who either criticize me or give me really rude parenting advice. Some of this comes from strangers, other from friends (actually just one friend in particular, which I guess goes to show she isn't much of a friend). You may be thinking, "Well, maybe you NEED this advice if so many people out there see fit to offer it." I am not saying I couldn't benefit from some decent advice, but the snarky comments I can do without.

The thing is, these people don't know that I have a very special little boy, who happens to suffer from Sensory Integration Disorder, which means that he has trouble processing sensory stimuli. All the stimuli we take for granted (the humming of the computer, the breeze on your face, even the lighting) can affect these kids in unusual and unpleasant ways. And because these kids look "normal" other people judge their behavior and often assume it has something to do with the parents.

I am so utterly sick of people just assuming I am a crappy parent because my son has difficulty hearing organ music at church. Or because he can't handle having other kids touching him all the time. Or because occasionally he throws these incredible tantrums in public because he isn't handling transitions well. I see the dirty looks and hear the critical comments want to scream or cry or curse them out depending on my mood that day. Because despite what they may think, this is not an issue of poor discipline.

They truly have no idea what a day in my life is like. I have a kid who I can never take to Krogers because it totally throws him off--we think it may be the lighting. I have to plan in ways that other parents don't. If we are planning to leave somewhere fun, I need to start warning him about an hour in advance. Did I mention he does not do transitions well? I need to bring his blue blanket to chew on in stressful situations. (Yes, he chews on it. The pressure to his jaws actually calms him immeasurably.) I have to monitor him closely around big groups of children because when he gets excited, he sometimes crashes into them in an effort to satisfy his craving for deep pressure. You can't imagine the things I have to do to help him behave in Primary. It is actually pretty exhausting sometimes. Activities that are normal for many preschoolers (going to the zoo, a restaurant, a birthday party) are often fraught with potential sensory landmines. My husband and I plan carefully so we can help him make it through these activities. And then there are so many others that we simply do not attend because it would be too much for Danny--and us.

For people who take the time to get to know Danny, they will see that he is the most exuberant child around. His smile literally lights up his face. Danny is so full of energy that his nickname is "Danimal." He loves making people laugh and he adores playing with other kids. He loves life and is basically like every other kids. The only difference is that some things come a lot harder for him, and the last thing he needs is people's judgements!

Friday, July 13, 2007

B-O-R-E-D

I am bored. And a bit lonely, too. Bil's car is in the shop to get new brakes, so I am home alone with the kids with no car. And have I mentioned that I am bored? We have kept relatively busy this week. We went to the Nature Center here in town on Tues. and had speech therapy three times throughout the week (danny, not me, although there are days I could probably use it myself). Yesterday we went to the park, but still I am stir-crazy. Maybe it is because I have not had an extended face-to-face conversation with an adult since about Tuesday. Yes, I have talked to my husband since then, but not much. He has been gone for Church stuff and when he does get home, he usually has work to do. Plus, I'm sorry but the conversations that go, "Can you give the kids a bath while I clean the kitchen?" don't really count as in-depth, intellectually stimulating conversation, per se.

I know there are bigger problems out there, but right now this loneliness is almost oppressive. I so wish I had someone I felt totally comfortable with here who I could call and demand some company. Alas, most of my friends here are pretty busy and I still have yet to find a realy soul mate. (I know that sounds so Anne of Green Gables, but really who doesn't want a friend they can tell everything to?) Why do all my favorite, closest friends live so far away?

Sometimes I worry there is something wrong with me (ok, let's be honest here, I worry about that pretty regularly). It seems so much harder to make friends once you are out of college and no longer single. Is there an end in sight? Or is the best conversation I am destined to have going to be about Blue's Clues?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Want a Timeout!

Have you ever had one o fthose days with your kids where they do something totally unexpected and slightly embarrassing? Well, I have had several. Let me preface this story with some information for those of you who don't know my four-year-old son very well. Danny has delayed speech and has been receiving Speech Therapy for 2 years or so now. He is coming along really well, as you will be able to see from this story.

Last week we went to my moms playgroup and Danny was loving playing at the park. At one point, though, he was on a platform on the jungle gym and a boy on the platform below him, started pulling Danny's leg. I don't know if he was trying to get Danny's attention or what. Well, Danny kicked out and landed a hard kick to this kid's face--he even left a red welt on the poor kid's face. I was mortified. Of course, I gave Danny a timeout (I wasn't sure if he kicked the kid on purpose or was just trying to get him to quit pulling his leg, but I figured I should be safe. And we are trying so hard to teach him that there are alternatives to pushing, etc.)

So, after the timeout, I said, "OK, now you have to say you're sorry to Max." We got to the kid and his mother (a woman who I would really like to be friends with, by the way) and I told Danny that if he didn't apologize to the kid, he would have another timeout. Danny said, loudly and clearly, "I want a timeout."

Embarrassing as it is, I was actually quite impressed with his speech. Normally when he is upset, he is less than articulate, but in this case he told me exactly what he wanted. I was a bit embarrassed, but I am so glad he is finally learning to use language to express his needs!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Church functions can be hazardous to your diet

I just returned from a baptism for a girl in my branch. Afterwards there were of course refreshments. There are ALWAYS refreshments at church functions, at least at Mormon functions. You should have seen this spread: 3 different trifles, plates of cookies, cupcakes and bars, mini-cheesecakes, a large platter of fruit, the list goes on. It was soooo tempting and it finally made me realize the real reason I have been faltering on my diet lately. Church!!! Every Enrichment meeting, baptism, and branch party has food and loads of it. And this food is calorie and fat-laden and is absolutely delicious. No wonder I can't lose weight. I can blame the LDS church for all my diet woes, at least for the years since I joined the church. You would think a church that teaches moderation would be more mindful of preparing healthful refreshments.

It gives you something to think about. But right now, I have to go make some food for this week's church book club. I am going to make my hotfudge cheesecake. Because really, who would eat the food if I brought carrot sticks?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

There are roaches in my son's bed

The roaches, luckily, are plastic, but despite that, they always shock me a bit when I see them. I bought a big bag of plastic bugs around Halloween for a party game and they have been entertaining my son ever since. It is amazing to me how the simplest of things can keep kids entertained. Thank goodness that is true, since I am not one of those moms who is good at coming up with cool crafts for the kids to do on a rainy day. Instead, we build forts out of the couch cushions or jump on the bed. Or notably, get into a butter fight with the kids. Long story, but let me ask you, what would YOU do if your almost-four year old came up and placed in your hand a huge glob of softened butter? Suffice it to say that Danny and my bedsheets both smelled like butter until bath and laundry were completed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Welcome to My Blog!

Hello,
I guess I should explain the title of my blog. When we were dating and had loads of free time, my now-husband Bil and I had planned to write a 'zine. (This is basically a print version of a blog, but I don't think blogs were around then. Does that date me?) Anyway, we thought long and hard for a clever name. One day, as I was making pancakes, the name came to us. For once, burning something was actually productive. I think the name is apropos, since despite being somewhat decent at cooking, I regularly mess up pancakes. The same could be said of many things I endeavor, which will probably make up most of the posts on this blog.

Patty