Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Kind of Superhero I Want to Be

I had fantasies of being a Superhero today. Mostly because some chick started yelling inexplicably at me at a gas station, other people left carts in the middle of the aisle at Target, and then I stepped in dog poop on the grass at the library.

So if I were a Superhero, I guess I'd have to fly, because I'd want to swoop in and correct all those little stupid annoying things we do to each other. I'd swoop into the gas station and make sure everyone was calm, took turns and waited in line. I'd have people say, "No, you were here first, go ahead - here, let me move out of the way for you."

I'd (gently) teach people how to move their carts to the side of the aisle when they stop to look at something. I'd jump in front of their carts before they barreled around corners and say, "Now, don't you want to check first to make sure someone isn't coming and the coast is clear?"

And I'd definitely swoop in and hand people plastic (biodegradable, of course) bags to pick up their dog's poop. "I know you want to pick up your dog's crap, don't you? Here, let me give you this to use."

I'd stop people on sidewalks and firmly suggest they pick up the fast food bags they just threw in the gutter.

I'd show up in people's cars (guess I'd have to add transporting to my list of powers) and say, "Now, you want to use your turn signal right about now, don't you?"

Oh, and an important one - I'd prowl parking lots and discuss bad parking with people as they got out of their cars. "Now, I'm sure you don't realize this, but your car is over the line on the other side. That's going to make it awfully hard for the people in that car to get in, don't you think? How 'bout you just jump back inside and repark within the lines?"

I'd arrive when people are talking loudly on their cell phones in inappropriate places and either bodily transport them outside, or hold up my power shield and cut off their signal.

Any I'm forgetting?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Could We All Just Stop Pretending We Know About Major Depression if We Don't?

Once a month G. or I have to go to a parents' meeting at the Catholic Church.

So this year they had a parishioner lead the first class of the year, and then asked him to do it permanently. He's a nice guy, a dad, and he tries to bring in real-life examples of his kids and family and trying to be good Christians. He reads the day's Bible passage aloud, then tells us what he thinks it means. There's not really any discussion, we just listen to this guy and his train of thought on the message for an hour, then if we're lucky there are doughnuts and coffee in the hall.

Last week (I forgot what the point of the lesson was about - I think it was "we should all pray" again), he said, "You know, sometimes people feel bad and they just start taking these antidepressants, and those mess with your emotions, when what I do, is I just go over there," pointing to the church, "and pray and look for answers there."

Aw, crap. It's the famous "if you were stronger/more faithful/less of a pansy you wouldn't need anti-depressants" argument. We've all heard it. I've gotten into arguments with family members over it. People (who usually aren't in the field) begin spouting all this stuff about how meds mess up your mind: They make you foggy, screw up your emotions, change your personality. It's all a big conspiracy by the pharmaceutical companies. By the way, why don't I hear ever hear this argument about manufacturers of pain relievers or chemotherapy drugs? It's always the companies making anti-depressants (or ADHD drugs) who are especially evil and want everyone medicated and sedated in their quest for world domination.

When I've unwillingly found myself in this argument with someone who's usually talking out of their ass, I've resorted to, "You're an engineer (or whatever), right? And I'm a psychologist. Which one of us do you think knows more about psychotropic medication, hmmm? And just so you know, I've never received as much as a Post-It notepad from any pharmaceutical company, so just don't even go there."

So that morning, I looked around at the people in the room at this parent's meeting, and wondered who who took antidepressants that morning. I know I did, and I would bet money there were at least two other people in the room who were taking them as well. I wondered if they registered what the leader had said or if it just floated past them, like so many comments that float around us all the time about depression and mental illness.

I had a young man in my office recently who told me, "No offense, but I think this psychology stuff is bullshit." Really, Dude-With-1-Semester-of-Community-College -Psychology-Under-Your-Belt? (aside: Does anyone else get told the entire field of study of their Ph.D. is bullshit? Just curious, not bitter...not bitter at all. I mean, it's not like my dissertation was on Area 51). So this guy's mother was seriously depressed and he was convinced that it was because she was just weak. He gets depressed, sometimes, sure, but he pulls himself out of it. He was getting annoyed with her and believed she just needed to "move on."

Here was a kid who thought he knew everything at 20, which I understand. So I gently educated him about depression and anti-depressants and he listened. He finally agreed that it might help more if he was supportive of his mother and stopped telling her to snap out of it. He did agree that telling her to snap out of it hadn't worked thus far. I was relieved, because that's really all I was asking of him.

So my question now is, do I say something to the leader of this parent's class, or not? I think I have to. I think I have a duty to confront the stigma. I'm not an activist, and there are very brave souls who are really working to change the stigma of seeking help for mental health reasons, but that's not where my energy has gone. But I wish I'd said something that day. Honestly, I'm so used to these views being thrown around that I didn't even really register that I could say something until I'd already left to pick up the boys.

I don't care at all what he thinks about my taking meds, because I'm sooo over caring what people think about my being on anti-depressants, but I know for a fact that there are many poor souls who have suffered for years before finally realizing they could indeed feel a whole lot better on anti-depressants. Many of these people have told me they wished they'd tried meds years earlier and then have to grieve the loss of all that time lost to depression. And those people shouldn't have to feel that here's another person, in a position of authority, although I doubt he looks at it that way, who also thinks they should have been able to do it on their own. I have no problem with this guy having that opinion in private, but if he's in front of a roomful of parents he doesn't really know, perhaps he should learn to keep it to himself. I'm guessing it didn't even occur to him. We all have to think before we speak.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Amazon, Don't Make Me Boycott You Right Before Christmas

So there was this maelstrom on Twitter today that was picked up by media and bloggers everywhere. Someone found a self-published book, "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure," being sold as an e-book on Amazon.com, and raised a ruckus. For some, the fact that it was available on the site at all led them to call for a boycott of Amazon. (update: the book's page on Amazon is now a 404 message; not clear if it's just down or if they're really removing it from stock).

So Amazon responded, in part, with: “Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.”

OK...except that it's not censorship for an outlet to refuse to sell an offensive book, just like it's not censorship when sponsors pull out of Dr. Laura's radio show. No one's coming to arrest this guy, or Amazon, for selling a despicable manuscript. No one's saying he doesn't have the right to be, well, despicable. (For a more in-depth look on why this isn't censorship or book-banning, see Backpacking Dad. Actually, see Backpacking Dad for all your logical rhetoric.)

Today I've been watching the back-and-forth between bloggers on this issue.

We as a society have a responsibility to protect our children. I also think we do a lousy job of it. Maybe I'm overly sensitive to it since my profession involves trying to heal abused children, but actually, I think most of y'all are in denial about how prevalent physical, emotional and sexual child abuse is.

Here we have a how-to manual on how to victimize a child, and how to get away with it. This is not a gray area. This is not a treatise on how incest and child brides have historical relevance and should therefore be considered normal. I'm sorry, but this is not an idea that deserves to be protected. And, as Backpacking Dad also points out, for the slippery slope argument to work, you have to prove that the slope is slippery, not that it's there.

Wringing your hands and asking, "But where does it end? Are we going to ban the Bible too because some people find it offensive?" is as ridiculous as wondering if gay marriage will lead to people marrying animals.

I am not in favor of banning books or restricting free speech, and on the whole I respect booksellers who try to offer as wide a selection as possible. If Amazon really believed in that, they'd sell porn. But I also believe there is a greater principle here, and that protecting children from anyone who'd buy a how-to manual on child molestation is more important than worrying about the rights of Philip R. Greaves II to sell it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dia De Los Muertos

I've always wanted to make an altar for Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. I'm not sure how I knew for sure, since late summer, that this year would be the year I would make one in our home. I think it has to do with turning 45 next week and having the time clock ticking louder in my subconscious than ever before.

I took the boys to a fabulous Day of the Dead celebration in our hometown so they would understand where it comes from and its significance. 


Can you find the 5-year-old?
Outdoor altar at Meek Mansion Day of the Dead Community Celebration

There they boys made the skeleton masks that are now at the back of our altar at home, and Benjamin decorated the little sugar skull at another booth. We got some colorful fabric, cut out the flags, and made tissue paper flowers. I bought a Lady of Guadalupe (one of my favorite icons) candle at our local Mexican grocery store, and then it was time to add photos and symbols. 



The framed picture near the top is my mother. The two photos below that are of G. and A. meeting Grandma Gagnon for the first time. Grandma lived to 101 years, and when I met her, she was 93, healthy as a horse and walking 3 miles a day. The pic to the right is our friend Ralf, one of G's groomsmen who passed away suddenly a few years ago. There are more pictures, more people to add as I find and print them.

One of the most poignant things on the altar, to me, is the pregnancy test on the top to the left. I'm grieving the loss of my dream of having a third baby. It's not unexpected - as I said, I'll be 45 next week. But I always thought I'd have three kids. I always thought I'd have a daughter. Someone who claims to know such things told G. a few years ago that there was a "red-headed female" soul waiting to join our family. I'm sad that she either lost her way, or that I didn't hold the door open long enough for her to join us.

So, our family is now complete, and it's good. I am beyond lucky to have two such glorious boys. A friend offered me the book, "The Wisdom of Menopause" but I'm not ready for it yet. I have to still say goodbye to the ignorance, and other trappings, of youth.

And, as a bonus, here's Benjamin explaining Day of the Dead for you, complete with 5-year-old close-up. Then he goes on to the weather, which is why I stop recording. If you knew him, you'd thank me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

PSA

I need to warn those of you who view my blog on readers....I'm going way back through my archives and tagging my posts so I can eventually sort the posts and put them in a book. Not a Random House kinda book, a homemade book, much like the ones A. writes. The boys are constantly asking for stories of when they "were young." So if I make a book out the posts and give it to them, I don't have to talk to them anymore.

So, yeah. I'm going to be showing a whole lot more recently published posts and they'll be from 2003. Sorry.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Fun Dad

One thing I'll say for G., he's great at playful improvising. A. even says, "Mom, you're not as playful as Dad." Hey, I'll play, as long as the rules are all set out and I know them and we have all the right equipment. But G. just makes stuff up as he goes along.

Benjamin has been bugging me to play some game called "Blind Man's Rummy." I have no idea what he's talking about and considering I can't even remember the rules to Hearts, I decline and suggest War or Go Fish or something else my feeble brain can handle. Turns out, Blind Man Rummy is a game G. invented with rules designed specifically so Benjamin wins. They have to find matches in their hands, G. deals out extra cards randomly, and when Benjamin runs out of cards, he wins. Perfect for the easily frustrated 5-year-old.

He also invented "Sock Fights." He took the worn out socks I was going to throw away along with some unmatched socks, balled them up, stuck them in a plastic bag and wrote "Sock Fight" on the outside. On rainy days when they can't go outside, he and the boys work off extra energy by hurling the socks at each other. They're pretty good at picking them up afterward, although I often find balled up socks behind furniture and just stick them back in the bag.

Once, when we were visiting my sister and the boys (along with my nephew) needed some distraction, he threw a wooden board on the grass and told them to "Walk the plank!" That, along with some pirate talk, kept them busy for quite a while.

Another game is "Chute," where he stands on the couch, holds up a sleeping bag, and the boys take turns going climbing on the couch and heading down the "chute" to the floor. He piles pillows between the couch and the floor, so no one gets hurt. Mama doesn't do Chute because her arms get too tired.

Mama also doesn't do "Carpet Ride," because she says she's not strong enough. "Carpet Ride" is when the boys, one at a time now that they're bigger, sit on a huge blanket and G. pulls them around house. Now that we've traded the carpet for hardwood floors, it's a lot easier.

He's also made up this character, "Pinnaman Pete." He's great at making up stories about Pete and his mountainous, gold-mining ways. When we were driving to Bend, he made up all these stories about Pinnaman Pete and 5-Fingered Jack. I don't where he gets this stuff. I'm supposed to be the writer but he's got a great imagination. Trying to keep up with Pinnaman Pete stories makes my brain tired.

For the last couple days, we've been a bit misplaced because our floors are being redone. We can't walk on them for about 4 days. So we're all living in the family room, kitchen and master bedroom, which we enter through the window. Tonight G. is doing a backyard camp-out (BTW, my spell check wants to replace that with "cam pout." WTH?) with the boys. Sadly, it's a 2-person tent, or 1-person and 2-kids, so I'm missing the fun and sleeping in my own bed. Poor me. But Fun Dad is out there with the boys, making memories they'll have forever.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

More Home Improvement Adventures

Remember when my purse was stolen 2 weeks ago? So today the mailman comes by with a "postage due" envelope. I had no idea what it was - it was from the "Atlanta Recovery Center" in GA. So I told him to hold on a sec, I had to get my wallet.
Then I did what I'm sure everyone has to do at some point...walked out the sliding glass doors of the family room into the courtyard, and up onto the wooden bench and through our bedroom window into the master bedroom.

"Oh!" said the mailman.

"Yeah, we can't walk on the floors," I said, gesturing to the open front door and the very strong smell of polyurethane wafting from within.

"Ah! You are having them refinished?" I nodded, gratefully. Thanks for understanding, mailman.

This floor refinishing could mean the end of unstained doors covered with plastic, doorways taped up with painter's tape, and napkins wrapped around doorknobs to keep them from banging into other walls or doors. I'm not sure, since this is what we've lived with for the last 2 years, but I'm hopeful. G. is our home-improvement captain, and he says the floors need to be redone before we can do anything else woodenish. So we might actually see the dining room door soon. Right now it's taped up with cardboard and painter's tape, although it's been installed for a year and half.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mindfulness

Went back to see the shrink this morning. I'd actually set the appointment up a few weeks ago when it was clear that I felt pissed off about something but couldn't really put my finger on it. That's SO 20 years ago.

And then I went to visit my Dad in AZ, which was easy in the sense that he demands pretty much nothing, and hard in the sense that he demands and offers nothing. It's sad to see him so slowed down and kind of absent.

And then I came back and went back to work the same day, worked a long day the following day, worked the day after that and in my short break between work and picking up the boys, during which I'd scheduled some exercise, my car window was busted and everything I need was stolen. Damnit, I hadn't even caught up on the laundry yet.

So. I had a lot to talk about to the shrink. I'm still kind of reeling from the stolen purse thing. I keep thinking of more things that I need to take care of. I did the big ones immediately - stopped the credit cards and changed my bank account number. Now I keep thinking of other stuff -

  • where's my inhaler? Oh, yeah, it was in my purse. 
  • That water bottle I loved? In my purse (it was a big purse). I mean, c'mon thieving-thieves, you couldn't have thrown the water bottle off and grabbed my wallet? 
  • My glasses - where did I stash my prescription and an extra $300 to buy a new pair? 
  • My favorite lip balm - which is out of stock in all the stores I've checked (Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer in Watermelon, BTW). 
  • The Target receipt for the USB cord that I bought in AZ and was the wrong size, but decided I could return here since I had the receipt.
  • All of my reward cards. 
  • My Starbucks card which fortunately had $0.00 on it. I have a happy fantasy of the robbers trying to use it and not being able to pay for their latte. Suckahs!
  • My little bottle of Aleve. Boy, do I miss that. I've replaced it, but I can't seem to get the new bottle into my new purse where it would be helpful. 
  • My new tweezers. Damnit, I buy tweezers like, twice a decade, and these were new. 
  • My little mirror that I love because it's little but it's perfect.
  • My boys' sherrif's badges from The Jungle, which they don't need but what if they were their favorite things in the world? Huh? What then?
  • My keys. Now the office has to be re-keyed and my office mates have to all get new deadbolt keys.
Now, people not very far from me have lost their entire homes and in some sad cases, family members in a horrible disaster.  So I can't really complain too much. It an annoying hassle but it's not the end of the world. I've lost my wallet before, but it was always my fault - usually I carelessly left it somewhere. This was more of a violation - I'd locked it in the trunk, so they had to break the window, scattering glass (which, by the way, is called safety glass but can still cut you when you try to brush it off the seat) all over the car and the street. The glass place did a fairly good job of vacuuming it up but I'm still finding shards everywhere.

The thieves tried to use my credit cards almost immediately. C'mon, the $160 I just got paid in cash and was going to pay for the next two weeks' groceries wasn't enough for you?

So. Where was I? Oh yeah. So when I made the appointment I was already kind of in a bad mood. Then all this stuff happened and you know what I wanted to do first? Eat. The second thing I wanted to do? Shop. My two old go-to's for stress.They're both big symptoms of unconsciousness (for me).

So I think this is a wake-up call. I need to spend more time being mindful and present with myself and with my family. I want to push it all away and go unconscious so it won't overwhelm me, but of course that's not the answer. I used to spend a lot of time writing and meditating, before kids, and I just don't have that kind of time now. I'm having all these dreams of tidal waves and explosions, and clearly there's something there to pay attention to.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What I Returned to After My Stress-Relieving Run

Stress. They popped the trunk and took my purse. I'd had the great idea to run without my glasses, so they were in there too with my checkbook, my water bottle, my inhaler, the cash my client just paid me, all the receipts I need for stuff I plan to return, and of course, my keys and wallet. G had to come get me because I'm blind as a bat without my glasses. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Birthday Celebrations Used to Be Easier

I keep forgetting I've added Tuesday mornings to my work schedule. I keep thinking I have the morning free, after dropping off the boys to school, to grocery shop and exercise. I laughed at myself this morning while driving to work, realizing I was planning tomorrow morning's run during the time that I had three clients. (You can't run while you're seeing clients. It's distracting).

I wondered if I'd accidentally planned anything else during my Tuesday morning at work. Oops. As a matter of fact, I did, I realized with horror. I planned to have A's school birthday party at noon on Tuesday, thinking I was off work on Tuesday, but unfortunately, I'd also scheduled clients from 10am -1pm. Crap.

A's birthday was last Monday, which was Labor Day, but another kid was having their birthday on Tuesday, I remembered that I work on Wednesday, so I originally scheduled it for Thursday. But, wait, Thursday is California Admissions Day and they have all sorts of festivities planned! So Friday it is (was). But then A. got sick on Thursday, had a fever, and we thought perhaps we should reschedule it for Tuesday of the next week - tomorrow in case he was still sick on Friday. Follow all that?

So I found myself calling the teacher as soon as I arrived at the office today and asking if it would be terrible if I had the pizza delivered. She admitted no parent had ever tried that before (don't any of these other parents have jobs?) but she was willing to go with it. I called the pizza place, asked if they could assure me that they would get delivered right at noon, and after some confusion, after me saying, "Never mind," and after the lady doing everything possible, including a 15% discount to make sure I didn't hang up, we settled the details. I don't trust them at all, though, and will call again tomorrow. The school is 2 blocks from them, but it's on the grounds of a Lutheran church which confused the hell out of the clerk.

"Is it a church or is it a school?" Well, it's both and you don't really need to understand, you need to show up and ask for "Mary Ann, the teacher," or "the third grade," and you will be shown to the right place.

A. said he didn't mind at all, in fact, he breathed a sigh of relief. He had informed me in no uncertain terms that parents deliver pizza and juice boxes and then IMMEDIATELY leave. No singing, no pictures, no acknowledgment that we know him at all. So he thought having a delivery guy was perfect.

I hate work/family conflicts. They don't happen all that often, fortunately, but when they do I always feel guilty and torn. But when I cancel a client, that's at least $60 less income that month. Every hour counts.

In other news: I'm getting ready for a short trip to Arizona (I'm also reminding myself I can't pack tomorrow morning - I have clients!). What do you do with a 5-yr-old in Phoenix when it's 103 degrees out? We can only swim so much.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Water, Losing Weight and Reeling Them In

Clearly, I'm not meant to post every day. But I'm posting more and slowly crawling up out of my blogging grave, so that's good.

On Wednesday, I begin a new weight-loss challenge. I lost 10 lbs. on my last challenge, sort of a virtual "Biggest Loser" contest. This is similar, but it's a Survivor-styled challenge. There are over 20 tribes and each tribe has to vote someone to "Exile Island" each week, and the tribe with the lowest percentage weight loss also gets sent to Exile Island. With over 20 tribes, this could take a while. I'd like to lose about 20 lbs, which isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but the benefit of having less than 50 to lose is that only 1 lb is still a sizable percentage.

Went to a b-day party today where the theme was "fishing," and one of the events was that a kid would wear a vest hooked to a fishing line. Someone else would stand on the side of the pool with a fishing pole and "reel" them in while they tried to swim to the opposite side. A. took both fish and fisher positions, and all the kids had fun. I love games like that - not a lot of money, not a lot of fancy equipment or jumpy houses.

Also went to my first UU water communion. We had to leave early because it's a long service (and we had to get A. to the soccer field at 11:45 or they'd take team photos without him). Anyway, in the service, everyone brings (literally or symbolically) some water from their summer. The four directions are named in verse and story, and you line up after whichever direction your water fits, either literally or symbolically, and add your water to the communal bowl while explaining where the water came from and what it represented to you. We were going to go with the "West" crowd since the water was from our home and we live on the west coast, but we ended up going with the "South" crowd because we needed to leave.

Having never been to one of these before, I didn't know that we really each talked into a microphone about our water. It was easy, though, because our water from our home, to me, symbolized my memories of the boys spending hours playing with the hose in the yard, and my continued quest for simplicity. G. pulled out a very nice exposition on water as representing the bonds of family formed during our summer. I really wish he'd consider doing a sermon one summer (when the minister usually takes time off and the congregation fill in with lay sermons). He's a very good speaker. I'm not horrible, but I get nervous and my voice shakes and my mind goes blank and I'd just rather avoid that.

Whew - how many unrelated topics can you fit into one blog post? At least three!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I'm building a website for DH and trying without much success to get an Amazon widget on there. I'm going to try the HTML here just to see if it works here.





Yep, looks like the code works. Now I just have to figure out what Intuit SiteBuilder has against Amazon.

And in other news, I've been re-reading past blog posts. There are A LOT since I've been blogging since 2003. You know, I used to be pretty funny. And my kids were hilarious. They're still pretty funny, but somehow the funny has drained out of my brain lately. I think I need to get away from composing facebook status updates and back to composing blog posts.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dry

Dry, dry, dry. That's how I feel. I probably shouldn't wait until I'm half asleep to write these, but when else am I going to do it?

Worked on G's website today. We both have professional websites, which I can't bring myself to pay anyone to build. It's not easy, this website designing thing. I have a whole new respect for people who imagine and then create new designs. I can barely use a template. But I do, and we're not designers or advertising our artistic ability for anyone, so the websites do the job and give people information on our services and how to contact us. They're not ugly...just kinda boring.

Finally read the winter issue of "Brain, Child" I've been carrying around with me for months. Man, was it depressing. The first essay I read was from a woman whose third baby was very "high-needs." He'd cry for 12 hours straight, and rarely slept more than an hour at a time. Sure made me feel better about my decision to not try for a third. Ben wasn't that difficult, but he was clingier and needier and more difficult than A., for sure, and it was hard. He still can be. He's also just the sweetest little guy you'll ever meet, and smiles all the time, so we certainly get something back from him.

The second essay was by a woman who has been shut out by her teenagers. I am in denial that that will happen to me with my boys who run at me when I get home from work shouting, "Come to me first! Come to me first!" But I'm sure it will. I will hate it, and I hope I learn to cope with it so I'm not too miserable. It will be a learning experience, that's for sure.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?*

It's funny how when my day is going badly, I am suddenly surrounded by horrible douchebag drivers.

Had a good run after walking the boys to school, until about 4 blocks before home when I got what are euphemistically referred to as the "runner's trots." Let's just say I had to throw away a perfectly good pair of running shorts.

Then a client gave me the heave-ho with a flimsy excuse, when what they really meant was, "You're not telling me what I want to hear." I was annoyed because I'd spent all weekend thinking about this case and where to go and how to help.

That's pretty much it. But since it all happened before 10 am, it wasn't an auspicious start to the day.


In other news:

1. We finally received our Wii, and just had enough time to set it up before bedtime. The boys designed their Miis, but both A. and I were a bit disappointed in the lack of redhead options.

2. A's birthday dinner: Fried chicken, Stouffer's mac and cheese and garlic bread. I added salad just to break up the monochrome menu a bit. I think he liked it. We told him the story of the day he was born, (actually more like the week he was born since it took that long to coax him out.

3. We told his favorite story from when he was a toddler, originally blogged here. I'm going to cut and paste the paragraphs, though, because the post is long and I spend most of the time complaining about a lousy day (whoa! deja vu!)

Anyway, he has a couple of tricks when we say "no" to the TV or videos. First, he tries bringing us the remote and instead of asking to watch TV, he'll tell us to "push green circle," like we just need to be directed on HOW to turn the TV on, or maybe we don't realize that pushing the green circle will result in the TV being turned on and by the time we realize it, it will be too late and we'll be drawn into Elmo's World.

Second, he goes through the list of shows he likes, just in case it's the show we're objecting to and not the TV. "Little People? Farm Animals? Thomas? Teletubbies? Sesame Street? Stanley? Clifford Big Dog? Dragon Tales? Wiggles? JoJos Circus?" We keep saying, "No, no TV right now." So he was very unhappy about it all this morning. Finally he handed me the remote again, and said in a very plaintive voice, "John Kerry?"

Poor guy was so desperate to watch TV he was offering to watch the cable news channels that G watches.

He was a really funny toddler. Now he's a pretty amusing big kid.  

4. We were at A's soccer practice, at a local middle school, where I saw this silhouette on the wall:

First off, what's the purpose of the silhouette, but more importantly, what are those little 3-fingered talons coming out of her back? And why no feet? At first I thought, Oh, it's the shadow of a helper right outside the resource room, where students go for help. But then it became more and more disturbing.

Edited to add: I am informed by someone in the know that the silhouette was put there to honor a beloved staff member, and that she had long, wispy hair - hence the little talons coming out of her back. I would submit that a little note, like, "In honor of...." next to it would go a long way towards explaining the shadow, as well as make the honor concrete. And they should've just given up on the wispy hair thing because there's no way to make that look normal. Just my completely unsolicited opinion.


*- George Carlin, RIP

Monday, September 06, 2010

Happy 8th Birthday, A!

Dear A,

Dude. I can't believe you're eight years old. Six is still young, and even seven is still little boy-ish, but eight is the big time. Eight is practically pre-teen.

Your brain continues to amaze me. You mastered your electrical circuit set almost immediately. I can't stump you on geography anymore because you have maps you've made of all the continents all over your room. You remember practically everything you've ever learned. You were particularly into the Greek Gods this year after reading the "Percy Jackson" books. In fact, you told us once that you thought the story of Jesus was a myth and you preferred to believe in the Greek Gods, since the Greeks thought their gods were just as real as we think our God is.

When Benjamin decided he wanted to grow up to have his own store that sold only holiday merchandise, you advised him not to have a whole room for certain holidays because some weren't celebrated by many people: "Like St. George's Day. Hardly anyone celebrates St. George's Day anymore."

You come up with the best ideas. You had the idea to think of all the questions you could possibly think of, write them all down in a notebook, and then find the answers. You thought if you did that, you'd know everything and then wouldn't have to go to school anymore. You also came up with the idea of a school newspaper on your own. You included the weather forecast and which flowers were blooming and which were dead. I'd type it up for you and you'd cut it out and distribute it. You were very proud to have been the first student to publish their own newspaper at the school.

Sometimes you can be amazingly kind and helpful to your brother and friends, and sometimes you can be a real jerk to them. You're still enthusiastic about almost everything (as your teacher says, you have "almost boundless enthusiasm" for new projects). For the most part, you are gracious and polite to adults, although you've gotten shyer and less talkative with them in the last year. Ab. is still your best friend at school, but you're having to reach out more to other kids since she's doing more girly stuff this year. You love being in the oldest group at school and are good at watching out for the younger kids.

I'm so proud of you on the soccer field. You always try your best, and you always follow the coach's directions. You don't let anything slow you down, and you're not discouraged by losses.

I can feel my influence on you slowly ebbing away. You no longer think my music is cool just because I'm listening to it. You don't trust my sense of style (probably a wise choice). You're watching your friends more closely for clues. 

You really don't want to hold my hand anymore, but you'll still snuggle, especially before bed. You stopped calling me "Mama" and now call me "Mom." You may not be getting as tall as you'd like, but you're still getting awfully big to me.

Love, Mom

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A 5K Under My Belt


OK, now I see why people do this. I've done those 3 miles before and I'll tell you, it's a lot less boring when you're doing it as part of a race. I made it in just over 38 minutes, which beat my previous 40 minutes so I was happy. Felt great, too. I made my excellent barely-faster-than-walking time by watching a little girl way in front of me with a pink tank top on...and making it my mission to beat her. EAT MY DUST, little girl!

I think I beat all the walkers, too, so that's something. No naked rollerbladers this time, though.

.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Are Memes Cheating?

Sorry, this is lame, but I have a 5K to run tomorrow, a funeral to attend, and birthday celebration for A. to navigate. So I'm doing a meme from Facebook for tonight's post:

The rules:
Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you've heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.  CAN'T STRESS THIS ENOUGH!  YOU'LL MAKE YOURSELF NUTS IF YOU THINK TOO MUCH ABOUT IT! Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note - upper righthand side in no particular order). This is very hard so just grab 15 off the top of your head.


This is so totally going to date me. (Also, since I've compiled the list, I keep thinking of albums to add. I can't believe I forgot the Beatles and the Stones. But I'm not sure which I'd take off....)

The Irish Rovers - The Unicorn*
U2 - Joshua Tree
Foreigner -4
Bee Gees - Saturday Night Fever
Indigo Girls - Rites of Passage
They Must Be Giants - Flood
Cars - Shake it Up
Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat
Matraca Berg - Lying to the Moon
Emmylou Harris -  Duets
Simon and Garfunkle - Concert in Central Park
Billy Joel - 52nd Street
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - May the Circle Be Unbroken
David Bowie - Heroes
Tori Amos - Under The Pink


*Bite me - it's the first one I thought of. I loved it when I was a kid.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Get Started Earlier...

That's going to have to be my mantra for this month if I'm going to keep blogging. It's barely past 8pm and I'm so brain dead I'm having trouble stringing together a coherent thought. I also occasionally get preoccupied by a client who's stumping me, and that's happening now. My mind keeps wandering back there, trying to come up with the verbal magic wand that will help us past this roadblock.

ANYWAY....so I made it all the way through the "Couch to 5K" program, which I'm proud of because every time I tried it before I've given up around week 5. It's kind of a misnomer, though - because really what it is is "Couch to 30 Minutes of Running." Unless you run a faster than 10 minute mile, ain't no way you're doing a 5K in under 30 minutes. It takes me almost 45 minutes to run a 5K right now because I am slow as a slug. In fact, I'm not sure you can call what I do running. Seems more like a "faster-than-walking-shuffle" to me.

To realize how momentous this is, you have to realize that the last time I ran with any regularity was over 10 years ago, before I got married. At the time I lived in the Berkeley hills, and the 2 mile stretch to Wildcat Canyon Park was so beautiful in both sunshine and fog that I ran all the time. BUT - only between 2-3 miles. 30 minutes at the most, and usually more like 22-25 minutes. And that was when I weighed 20 lbs. less than I do now. So to regularly be running over 40 minutes is pretty tremendous for me. It still feels like a marathon and my legs feel like lead logs, but I'm slogging along.

About 9 years ago I ran the farthest I've ever run, 5 miles, for a local radio station's run in Golden Gate Park. I remember on the way to the starting line, we walked through the park dearly in the morning and came upon a whole bunch of naked rollerbladers of all shapes and sizes shooting a scene for a film. They'd huddle in their coats in between takes, drop the coats and skate stark raving naked down a small hill until the guy yelled "Cut!" Some people were pushing strollers (I'm assuming the babies weren't naked but I couldn't see them). It was the weirdest sight and what I wouldn't have given for an iPhone camera back then.

I like all the accouterments that go along with running - I love the iPhone apps that use GPS to pinpoint my exact route on a huge map of the U.S. I like the Nike lady that tells me, "walk around a bit to activate your sensor," I like the running websites, the idea that "Yeah, I'm a runner." But when I'm actually out there on the trail or sidewalk....well, not loving it so much. And tonight my legs and feet are so tired I really don't want to walk anywhere. It reminds me of being 42 weeks pregnant, and that's not a good feeling. I have my first 5K since starting this whole thing in two days, and I hope I've recovered by then.

I also hope I don't give up after I finish the race. The main reason I do it is that I don't have much time to exercise, so it gives me the best bang for my minute, and I get to be outside.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's still 10:17pm here on the West Coast, so I'm still on track.

From my facebook update today: My baby boy started kindergarten today. The teacher was saying, "they will have tears, you will have tears.." and we were all, "Yahoo! What's the hold up? C'mon, take 'em!"

I've never cried the first day of school. I think I may have gotten a little teary on A's very first day of preschool, but that's just because I'd never left him with anyone who wasn't related to me before.

Truthfully, I have been holding my breath until this day. We had a very fun summer, very busy, but I have been counting the days until they'd be back in school again. I know it's the fashion for "good" mothers to say that they're sorry summer's coming to an end and they'll miss the little rugrats during the day. Sorry, but I'm thrilled. I can finally clean the house without stopping every 2 minutes to answer a question, separate some Legos, put in new batteries, get a snack or pour juice.

I can exercise by myself and don't have to bribe the boys to ride their bikes around the block with me six times so I can get my run in.

I'm just not that good at multi-tasking. If I can get my stuff done in the morning, I think I'll be that much readier to welcome them with open arms and a snack and a patient ear in the afternoon. It's also really nice to look forward to seeing them again.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Starting off the Blogging Lunacy.....

I've taken a challenge to post daily through September. I have lots of blog posts in my head, but no one can read them there, and given my memory issues, I lose them when they stay in there, too.

So to kick off this blog marathon, here's a very good cause - Ryan from  The Panic Room (check out his photos of his wife's pregnancy - he's a fabulous photographer and a pretty good guy) has organized an awesome kid's album which debuted at #1 on iTunes Kids Tunes! His darling stepson (Little Buddy) has been diagnosed with
Smith-Magenis Syndrome, which is a little-known disorder that wasn't even identified until 1982. The album raises funds and awareness for this disorder to help more kids like Little Buddy. All the artists donated their time and talent to the album, so all proceeds will go to research. Go check it out. They even made up a widget that will let you listen to the songs:



If y'all have a blog and want to post the widget, just use the "Share this Widget" link in the lower right hand corner of the monster's sign and you'll get the code. I'm sure Ryan would appreciate it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Honeymoon's Over

Today was a day I've been waiting for. I've saved up all those little pieces of paper that say, "I love Mama," and "Mama is the best mama in the world," for this day. This is the day that A. realized I was a complete fraud.

"You're a bad parent!" he yells. "You won't let me get ice cream, you won't buy me electronics, you never play with us! And Dad always makes us eat healthy food before we get ice cream and he never takes us anywhere fun!"  Somewhere in this diatribe was the information that Dad told him that the reason I take long naps is because I really need my beauty sleep. Talk about adding insult to injury.

"You buy Ben more things than me! You never buy me toys! You make my life miserable!" This was in the grocery checkout lane

"Yeah, that's my job," I answer.

"Well, you're doing a good job of it!"

Later, after reading to him, I reminded him that sometimes we get mad at each other, but we don't hate each other. He assured me that he liked me sometimes, but he didn't love me anymore.

I have no problem with him being mad that we don't buy him things. I'm OK that he doesn't like us pushing healthy food on him. That's our job.

What cuts to the quick is the claim, "You don't play with us!" because he's right. I don't play with them. I hate playing with them. I'll play a board or card game now and then, and I'll listen for hours to their stories, their ideas and their inventions. I'll take them all over the place - the water park, the science museum, the tide pools. But if they build a fort, I don't climb in except under duress. I'll ask them about it while I'm folding laundry, I'll admire the construction in between the dishes, but I don't want to take the time to just sit and pretend. Sometimes I'll do Legos. But most of the time their play is something to keep them busy while I get other things done. He's right.

Today I took them to the playground, and realized when I got there that I'd forgotten my iPhone. Crap. The one time I get some time to read the headlines, and I forgot it. So I followed them around the playground. I didn't have any fabulous insights. I didn't realize this was so much more awesome than sitting on the bench reading my news feeds. But, I did relax a little bit. I pushed Benjamin on the swing, and I decided I needed to slow down, and pay more attention to how they wanted to spend time with me, not how I wanted to spend time with them.

Friday, July 30, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite (Summer) Things

1. Eating a relaxed Saturday night dinner (that my husband cooked) out in the courtyard on a warm summer evening, sipping a glass of wine and being entertained by the boys' "magic" tricks.

video

2. Peach frozen yogurt from peaches picked that morning from our neighbors' tree.


3. Slow afternoons at the library.

4. Making tie-dye T-shirts

5. Writing the first day of school on the calendar.

6. School supply aisles. We don't have to buy school supplies for the boys because their school supplies everything, but I still enjoy the idea of fresh pencils, notebooks and glue sticks.

7. Evening swims.

8. Shorts and flip-flops.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Update on the Healthy Thing

So, I made it through week 5 of Couch to 5K. That's my traditional dropping-out point, but I am determined to make it all the way through. On to week 6!

My energy is better and I'm sleeping better. All good. Summer produce deliveries and farmer's markets make it easy to eat fresh food (also, the homemade strawberry ice cream from the flat of organic strawberries I picked up. Oooohhh, it was good - and I used half and half instead of cream. Not exactly low-fat or low-calorie, but damn, it was good).

I also received some samples of some new products from Smart for Life and underWAY (see the end of the post for discount codes). You've heard of the Cookie Diet, yes? So they have a bunch of new, high fiber, high protein products designed to fill you up, lower your appetite and balance your glucose levels. Since I suspect I'm heading towards insulin insensitivity, if not there already, I was interested in trying them.

Some of the more appealing things about this product was that they are 60% organic, with no preservatives (which does mean you have to eat them within a short time of opening the package). What I can say is that they DO fill you up - you're supposed to eat either a cookie or a cupcake every few hours. They're small, but yes, they do kill hunger.

But how do they taste?

Chocolate Chip Cookies: These are small cookie squares that reminded me of Cliff Bars. They're not bad, just not really chocolate-y, which is fine. Kinda sweet, kinda granola-y.

Chocolate Mountain Cupcakes: This is more what I'm talkin' about. More chocolatey, nice texture, small but adequate for hunger control. These (and the carrot ones) were my favorite.

Carrot Sunshine Cupcakes: Again, nice texture, cake-y, not too carroty, but has a nice but not too strong carrot-cinnamon taste.

Cupcakes are also available through ThinAdventure a program cmore geared to kids. Figures my favorite items would be those designed for kids.

One of the great things about the cookies and the cupcakes is that they're very portable. I threw a few in a baggie, stuck them in my purse and ran off to gymnastics and swimming lessons. Kept me away from the snack bar!

SmartforLife Smart Crunch: Tastes pretty much like one of the cookies kind of crumbled up. It seems like a small portion, but it's actually enough to satisfy a snack craving.

underWAY appetite suppressant supplement: These are like flavored waters with fiber and it's also supposed to stimulate the brain to think you've eaten more than you have. I tried the Acai-Pomegranate and the Grape, both of which were sweet and tasted like melted popsicles. I liked the Acai-Pomegranate variety best, and honestly, I used them the same days I ate the muffins and the cookies, so I'm not sure they suppressed my appetite any more than the food did.

So the idea is that you eat the equivalent of a cookie 6 times a day, and then eat a healthy meal. The week I tried them, I lost 2 lbs, and definitely felt that my cravings were more under control.

So if you're interested in trying the products, use the 10% off codes MCUS10OFFUW at underWAY and MCUS10OFFSFL at Smart for Life.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of underWAY and Smart for Life and received samples of the products to review.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

New Underwear

You'd think I never buy the boys underwear.

Me: Do you want character underwear or are you ready to go to solid colors, A.?

A: Oh, characters of course, because they are much more beautiful.

Benjamin: I wish these Spongebob underwear had a button where you could press it and it would play Spongebob's voice out of your pants!

Me: Yeah. Well, they don't.

And as soon as we got home, both boys modeled their new underwear, despite the fact that they had just gotten dressed two hours prior. The new underwear demanded to be worn!

Benjamin: How do I look? Give me your honest opinion!

I wish I got that excited about new underwear.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Internet Works in Mysterious Ways

Just a few days after my last post whining about not being able to afford science camp for A., a friend posted on facebook (coincidentally - I don't thinks she read my blog post) that she had a collegue unable to use 3 paid weeks to Sarah's Science. It was too late to get a refund, so she was offering them up to whomever could use them. I contacted the friend who basically said, Yep, 3 weeks. Already paid for. I'll e-mail and tell them you're using them.

OMG. How fucking awesome is that???? And we're not bound to one particular week, either. Ben will go one week, and A. will go two weeks.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Relativity

I've talked before a bit about the sacrifices we've made so one of us can be with our kids and we won't need daycare. For the most part, I'm completely OK with those sacrifices, and I don't do a lot of comparing my situation with others who may have housekeepers or new clothes (not that I'm paying attention). But the other day jealousy hit with surprising force.

We were at the UU service, waiting for it to begin. I was sitting in my chair, and the boys were sitting in the smaller blue chairs lined up by the "altar" for the kids in front of me. A little boy came and sat next to Al., wearing a Camp Galileo T-shirt. We had a visiting minister from another state, who smiled and asked the boy about Camp Galileo.

I would love to send A. to Camp Galileo. They have themes he would love, like the Greek Gods and all kinds of science experiments. A. read the brochure and was excited. I applied for a scholarship last year and was thrilled to receive the letter that we'd been granted one...until I called to enroll him and found that it was only good for one particular week, the July 4th holiday week (so it was only 3 days anyway), which was the one week we'd be out of town. I was pissed (I thought they should have revealed the limitations up front so kids didn't get all excited deciding which camp they wanted to attend; each week is a different theme) but I knew beggars can't be choosers, so I never said anything to A. and as far as I know he forgot about it.

So, anyway. Cry me a fucking river, I know. Big f-in' deal. Kid goes to private Montessori school, has everything he needs and has at least one reasonably attentive parent home with him almost all the time. So I was really surprised to be hit with such a strong club of jealousy when I saw that kids' shirt. Something about not being able to send him to that camp when this other kid sitting right next to him got to go, made me feel like a failure.

But that's ridiculous. As a therapist, I know more than most, perhaps, that money does not make you happy. I remind myself all the time of how lucky I am, how lucky we are...not everyone's that lucky.

Some people are dealing with way bigger obstacles than not being able to afford science camp. So if you feel blessed, like I do, please consider helping out a good mother who is keeping it together for her kids and making some awesome grilled cheese sandwiches with no help from their father. People don't get what they deserve in this life, but sometimes we can help with that.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lunasea's 10 Tips For a Happy Marriage

Being a couples' counselor has been great for my marriage. Mostly because I get home after a particularly hairy session and kiss my husband and thank him for not being anything like the people I just worked with. In general, I find people are more vested in being right than in saving their marriages. I'm actually not seeing couples anymore unless it's for my full fee - it's just too hard to jar people's feet loose when they've got their heels firmly dug into the cement.*

In a few weeks, G and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage. In some parts, that's not very much at all. G's parents just celebrated 50 years of marriage. But in California, we're well above the average.

So, I got to thinking, what exactly do we do to make our marriage work? Because I'm telling you, it's not that we are exemplary people. We're both just fine, but most of the people who walk into my office are just fine, too. So at the risk of sounding completely self-congratulatory, what are they doing wrong that we're doing right? I'm going to give you my best ideas. These are things that I think would put me out of business if all couples did them:

1. Figure out what's really important to you in a partner. I have my couples make 3 lists of virtues they need in a partner: Non-negotiables, negotiables (things that would be nice but aren't mandatory) and optional (frosting on the cake).

There should only be 3-4 things on the non-negotiables list. Mine were:

1. Wants children
2. Kind to others
3. Ethical, honest
4. Has a sense of humor

These were the deal-breakers. I couldn't stay with someone who wasn't kind to me and everyone else. I wasn't going to stay with anyone who lied to me or hurt others with unethical decisions. And it would be hard to understand me if he didn't have a sense of humor.

The negotiables list is longer:

1. spiritual
2. psychologically aware
3. has good boundaries
4. loves books
5. loves music
6. enjoys nature
7. sexy
8. really funny (you can have a sense of humor and not be really funny - I pretty much always fell for the guys who made me laugh)
9. gets along with his family
10. gets along with my family
11. would be a great father

I'm sure there were more, I forgot the rest because it's all blended into what who I'm with: G.

I've also forgotten what was on the optional list. No surprise, because these two lists aren't nearly as important as the first.

My advice is to never settle for anybody who doesn't fill all the checkmarks on your non-negotiable list. Abuse, emotional and physical, of course, should never be tolerated.

But don't cut someone out of the running because they don't have all the virtues on your negotiable list. I always thought I'd end up with a bookworm, like me. It still amazes me that I'm with a man who doesn't particularly like bookstores. Maybe I could have found someone who loved bookstores if I'd waited longer. But then, guaranteed, he would have been missing some of the things G. has. And now that I love him, I'm not willing to give those up.

That was a long one. Let's make the rest shorter.

2. Choose your words carefully. It's a lot easier to take some time to figure out what you want to say then to clean up the mess after hurling horrible insults. You can't swallow words back into your throat after they've been released. Maybe you'll be forgiven for the horrible things you said, but they probably won't be forgotten.

3. Stay on topic. You're disagreeing about the evening routine? Stick to the evening routine. Don't bring up the morning routine, his mother's routine, your mother's routine, his disgusting habits and who filled the gas tank last.

4. Say what you mean and mean what you say. In any discussion, ask yourself, what do I really want to get across here? Say that and stick to it. If you have to restate it, restate it. Your partner isn't necessarily going to know which part of what you say is the most important. It's so weird when couples tell me about one of their fights - they both remember completely different parts of the conversation, and they both are shocked by what their partner remembers. "She keeps bringing that up but that wasn't at all important to what I was trying to say!"

5. Listen. Make sure you listen carefully and understand where your partner is coming from before you make your point clear. This is right out of Couples Communication 101, and I am telling you, if your partner thinks you understand what he/she is saying, they will be a hell of a lot more willing to listen to what you have to say about it.

6. You are not the King (or Queen) of How to Do Everything Right. You've already told your husband that your way of doing the dishes is superior, several times in fact, and he still doesn't do it your way? Let it go. He heard you, he just doesn't care. And hopefully, "Does the dishes my way," is not on your list of non-negotiables.

7. Know what makes your partner feel loved. People usually do for their partners what they want done for themselves. Tell your partner what you really appreciate and wish they'd do more often. At the same time, realize that there might be things your partner does to show his/her love that you're not fully appreciating.

8. Chill the fuck out. (G. calls this "Don't be so reactive." I call it chilling the fuck out). Most of the time, your partner is not actively trying to piss you off. If you don't like the tone of voice they're using, tell them. Don't do it back to them to teach them a lesson (BTW, I think that's a bad strategy with kids, too). Think about what's happening - is it really important? OK, then go say something. Calmly, directly. You think maybe it's not that important and maybe you're in a bad mood? Recognize that and keep your mouth shut until you chill out. So many of the couples I see don't argue about anything all that important, but they keep making huge dramas out of everything.

9. Which reminds me, don't threaten to leave. Don't threaten to end the marriage. You can leave any time, of course, if it really isn't working, but don't threaten to do it in the heat of anger. To sound like a hippie-dippy therapist, it brings up all sorts of unresolved abandonment issues in your partner that, trust me, are better left unactivated.

10. Hmmm. Maybe you should fill this one in.

This is a working draft that I'm sure will be revised many times and hopefully eventually posted on my professional website, perhaps without the expletives. I'd be very interested in your thoughts and comments.




*I should mention here that there have been couples who have been really willing to work with each other and who have left therapy in a much better place and those situations are always very rewarding. But the ones that don't, break my heart.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Pluses and Minuses

On the plus side:

I'm finishing week 2 of Couch to 5K and when I have some more time, plan to find a 5K to register for.

I'm exercising most days of the week, at least half an hour. Would like to get it up to an hour. My mentor, who is in her later 50's, said she had to exercise an hour a day every day to lose the mid-life weight. And she only lost half of it.

I feel better and I have more energy. I still walk out to the garage regularly and then turn around and walk back in the house because I have no idea what I went to the garage for. I'm getting used to it.

On the minus side:

I can't give up coffee. I tried, and tea is OK, but last Saturday I bought myself a coffee at the farmer's market and Lordie, was it good! I was in such a great mood after that. So I decided one cup (OK, 16 oz. is more like 2 cups, but...) a day is not going to kill me.

Sugar and wheat have been touch and go. Some days are fine, some days I just don't seem to bother to avoid them. I have been gathering a lot more organic fruits and vegetables from our yard, the farmer's markets and the produce delivery, so I'm eating more of those, but I'm still eating too much processed stuff for my liking.

So, I'm getting there. Better than going in the opposite direction, I suppose.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Finding the Midline

Wow, has it really been January since I posted? I feel like my first post back should include some kind of COME TO JESUS revelation. It doesn't. Sorry. I took a break. I decided I missed it and this chronicle is more permanent than a bunch of Facebook updates. I also got rid of the ads on the right. I don't like being told what I can post and what I can't. Also, that stick of gum it bought me every couple of months has too much sugar in it.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been really ridiculously out of sorts. I feel like I could sleep for a year, but can't seem to stay asleep for even a few hours at a time, my brain in in a perpetual fog, and I've gained 20 lbs. I'm getting excema in exactly the places my mother used to get it (and if you don't think that sent a ripple of fear down my spine, well, you don't know me). Yes, I've had my thyroid tested. And my iron levels. All are OK. I have a feeling that whatever's wrong with me isn't something that's going to show up on standard blood tests, unless maybe it gets a whole lot worse. Besides, I believe in trying out lifestyle changes before seeking medical attention. Unless you think you have a broken bone.

My best guess is that it's a combination of perimenopause, if not outright menopause, stress, age and not paying attention to what I eat.

So we're going in for a few lifestyle changes here at Body Lunasea to see if that will help.

1. Switching out coffee for tea. I love coffee, but I particularly love the milk and sugar that comes with it. I switched to artificial sweeteners a long time ago, which isn't much better. I can drink tea without milk or sweetener, so I'm going for that. I'm not ready to give up caffeine yet.

2. Writing. I miss writing, and the best periods of my life have been the periods where I wrote consistently. I need an outlet to sort things out.

3. Yoga. I intend to play on the floor with my grandchildren when I'm 75. And, more importantly, get back up again.

4. Sugar. I'm cutting out all white sugar. I'm absolutely a sugar addict. I love sugar and the more I eat, the more I crave it. I think I could be at risk for type II diabetes, so it's better to take care of that before I've gone totally insulin resistant.

5. White flour. I'm cutting that out too. Our family is mostly eating whole grains at home, but when I eat out or eat convenience foods, that goes out the window.

6. Sleep. My goal is to be in bed by 10pm. Lights out by 11pm at the latest. I was doing well for a while, but now it's creeping back towards midnight. The boys aren't waking us up as early as they used to, but given that my hormones or whatever are waking me up at 5 or 6am without their help, and at the most I doze after that, I have to get better sleep earlier.

7. Give up Farmville. OK. Maybe not GIVE UP Farmville completely, but maybe ignore it for a month or so and see what happens. I know it's one of the things making me stay up late because trying to fertilize everyone else's farm takes so long! And that's kind of ridiculous.

I may include cutting out dairy eventually, but I really really love yogurt, so we'll see.

I had a dream last night where I was in the ER with a huge cut down the vertical center of my body from trying to cut myself in half (don't ask or I'll have to go into the whole backstory of the dream which you don't want to hear). A lady came over, examined my fingers, and said, "She's totally glutenized." I was like, "No, I'm not, I have a huge cut down the center of my body." So it's possible I'm focusing on the wrong things. But I think trying to get lifestyle back in balance is never a bad idea.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why I Test Drove a Prius Only Four Blocks

We've been considering a hybrid for years, but they were always a little too expensive. G. found one at the dealership where we bought our last two cars (ahem...10 years ago). It was a 2008, priced around $16G, had 38,000 miles, and looked pretty. So we packed up the boys and went over for a test drive.

Our regular guy, the one who sold us our cars 10 years ago and amazingly still works there, was off today, so we spoke with the nice young man fresh out of the car rental biz. He tried to start the car, and found that the battery was dead. Apparently, these batteries will die if you leave them sitting around too long. So he got out his trusty portable-jumper-briefcase and jumped it. It was running fine, we gave our drivers' licenses up for copying and decided I'd take the first drive and G would stay with the kids, then test drive it after I returned. The nice young guy offered to watch them so we could go together, but, no. We didn't know him from jack, and we'd have his car, but he'd have our kids and we're not really willing to trade. Now, in hindsight, maybe I should be more trusting.

So I got in and it was like a video game. The computerized dashboard seems so far away, I was looking down a tunnel to see the numbers. He handed me the key, but said I didn't need it. I looked all over for the ignition, and there is none. You press a "Power" button that is marked like the one on my computer, seriously. They made a fake gear shift on the dashboard so you'd feel like you were shifting into drive, but really, I got the feeling it could have been done with buttons or a mouse.
The engine is pretty freaking quiet. In fact, I'd gone about four blocks and stopped at a red light when I thought, Geez, it's REALLY quiet. Then everything went dark. Crap. The traffic light turned green and I couldn't start the car. I pushed that button over and over, managed to get the dashboard lights back up and the window rolled down so I could wave people past me, but then it all went black again. Since it was all black, I couldn't shift into neutral. Fuckin' A, I'm stalled on a busy street in not-the-best-section of my city, and I can't even push it over to the side. I hate people who stall and then just sit there blocking the lane. Now I was one of them, and it wasn't even my car.

No battery, no hazard lights. G. was not answering his cell phone. I grabbed the piece of paper the salesman had given me, and of course there was no phone number on it. Goddamnit! It was making me crazy that I was causing this huge traffic hazard and I couldn't even reach someone to help me and it WASN'T MY CAR. I could not believe G. wasn't answering his cell phone when he should know something like this could happen! I considered leaving it there and hightailing it the four blocks back, probably about half a mile, but I'd left the window open and now couldn't get it back up and I felt bad leaving an open car unattended like that.

Oh wait, I have an iPhone!! I opened the browser, googled the dealership, found the number and called. When some dude answered, I yelled at him that I was test driving one of their vehicles, it died and I was now blocking a whole lane of traffic and could someone come out NOW??? He told me to hold, and a minute later our salesman answered, saying, "This is Ron, how can I help you?" Goddamnit all to hell, was I not clear?? I repeated myself and he asked, "What happened? Did it just stop?"

"It DIED. It's DEAD. And there are a whole bunch of people on this street who are not at all happy with me or your car so get out here."

OK. I felt a little better that someone was coming, so I stood behind the car waving cars past since they couldn't really tell the Prius was stalled. I mouthed, "Sorry!" to each of them as they passed. A couple nice people offered to help me push it over, and I told them I would LOVE to push it over but I couldn't get it into neutral. One kind of oddly dressed guy yelled, when he found out it wasn't my car, "They let you take a test drive by yourself????" He returned to his bus stop, then came back and said, "I just can't get over this. Someone should've gone with you!" He was hanging around a little too much and I was wishing his bus would show up.

Nice young man showed up, handed me the cars to the Mazda 626 he'd taken off the lot and told me to drive it back to the dealership. I was happy to leave him with Dead Prius and then I thought, "Oh, geez, what do you want to bet he'll get in, push the button and the thing will start right up?" So I glanced back and was gratified to see him opening the hood and beginning the jumping process. Odd Guy was there with him, probably giving him hell for letting me take a test drive by myself, and I was really just fine leaving them both there together. G. drove by with the boys in the car, I guess to make sure I could get back. He told me later that the boys had decided in the back of the car that we weren't going to buy the Prius under any circumstances because we "at least want a car that's going to get us to the end of California." Or more than four blocks.

The 626 drove quite nicely. Believe it or not, we haven't ruled out the Prius. Young Man assured us that this wasn't a usual problem, but that because it's sitting on the lot, it doesn't get driven enough to keep the battery charged. OK. So now you know, don't let people test drive it when the battery's low. So glad I could help. The only bright spot was that it wasn't pouring rain today, like it has been for the last two weeks or so.

Edited to add: If you take the previous post and this one together, it would appear that I should just give up driving altogether and take the bus.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The. Longest. Day. EVER.

We got up at 7am, as usual. We were in Portland, taking over the two bedrooms on the top floor of Grandma and Grandpa's house. We were scheduled for an 8pm flight back to California. I questioned how on earth "we" decided on an 8pm flight, and was informed that we saved several hundred dollars by flying out on the last available flight. (In retrospect, so not worth it).

Packed our suitcases and two duffel bags and three backpacks, made breakfast, did 2 loads of laundry, packed an extra box to take to UPS because we couldn't fit everything in our suitcases, played a couple rounds of Trouble with Grandma, got coffee.

Went to see Biglittlethings at the Imago Theater in Portland. On the way, G. stopped at Franz Bakery ("The GOOD Bread") to show the boys where he worked a few summers. You could see the machines, whipping out english muffins, through the windows. It was cold, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Saw the show, went to the bathroom and heard people yelling from the hallway, "It's snowing outside!" No way. Snow wasn't in the forecast.

It was snowing outside. Yippee. Fun for the boys (including the adult one) and cold for Grandma and me. Drove back to the house and began thinking, "Geez, this is kind of a lot of snow." Decided we'd better get going to the airport now, even though our flight didn't leave for 4 hours. We kept thinking it would turn into rain any minute now.

We'd borrowed my BIL's car, and were supposed to return it to him way up in Vancouver, WA, about half an hour away. No problem, if it's not snowing. Portland doesn't do well in snow. They have maybe one snowplow, that gets let out after the storm.

Apparently, everyone and their brother were surprised by the sudden snowstorm and decided they'd better hightail it for home, except no one hightails it anywhere in Portland snow. Traffic was horrible, the roads were icy and we were driving a Lincoln Continental. I called my sister and asked her to meet us at the airport instead. She mentioned that our flight was delayed and it might be canceled, in which case, we'd need the car. So we decided we'd just get to the airport, check the status and then maybe they could come meet us and pick up the car.

The highways were pretty much stopped, so we decided to take Stark all the way out to the airport. There's this little hill on Stark, though, that we couldn't get up. We got stuck, with the back end fishtailing from side to side. G got out and tried to push it all the way up the hill but with the icy road and his tennis shoes, it was hard to get enough traction to push. I tried to steer, which was pretty useless given the ice. Cars who had better traction than us went around us, while we slid this way and that. Other cars had pulled over and either were abandoned or had passengers hunkered down waiting for it all to stop. Benjamin was whining from the back seat, "Mama, could you please close the window? It's cold." And I was answering, "No, because it's the only way I can see." I wanted to give up, I didn't see any way up the hill and it made me nervous that we were backing up an entire lane of traffic. G kept saying, "We're almost there!" Finally, a dude who'd begun putting snow chains on his van came over to help push and we actually made it up. Yay!

G said, "OK, it's pretty level from here on out." I was just grateful we were headed somewhere, but I was really nervous we were going to hit another hill. Even the slightest incline would mean pushing again. As we approached the airport, we saw cars trying to make it off the freeway and up a slight off ramp and sliding all around. A van had slid into our lane, facing us, and was abandoned. Fortunately, we slid around it and could keep going.

G. asked for a Power Bar from my backpack and I told him he was on his own, this was my stash. It's not my fault he doesn't prepare for disasters. Then I realized he'd have to eat me if things got hairy and so I offered him a Power Bar. But then he saw it was chocolate and rejected it. He doesn't eat chocolate after 4pm.

It took us two hours to get to the airport, normally a 20 minute drive. I called my sister and told her we'd park the car in the long-term parking lot so it wouldn't cost them an arm and a leg to get it out the next morning. Unfortunately, the long-term parking is outside. Did I mention we were in the middle of a snowstorm? We parked and lugged our two suitcases, one car seat, two duffel bags, and three backpacks over to the shuttle stop. By this time I was thinking I would never, ever fly anywhere again. I decided I would travel again when I can be beamed instantly to my destination and not a day before.

We lugged our stuff onto the shuttle, off the shuttle, onto a cart, to the ticket counter, where the attendant told us our flight was overbooked and we would be asked at the gate to give up our seats. He glanced at my face and stuttered, "Of course, you do have seats, you're OK if you don't want to give them up...."

Dragged all the luggage over to the #3 security (in Portland they make you take all your suitcases to the screening machine). It was closed. Go to #2, he said. We lug our stuff back to #2 and I want to threaten the guy with death if he doesn't take our goddamn luggage, but remembering the recent terrorist incident decide to keep my mouth shut. Just in case, I stand far back and let G. give the guy our bags while I give him the evil eye.

Have some pizza for dinner, find an outlet to recharge my poor dying iPhone. If I'd known I would need it for the snowstorm, I wouldn't have checked Facebook so much that morning. Get to the gate, find our plane delayed 2 hours. Eh, could be worse, it could be canceled and I could be 8 months pregnant. Always with the positive thinking, I am.

Everything closes in the airport at 9pm. For some reason, I thought airports stayed open all night. They don't. We finally get on the airplane close to 10pm, and then wait an hour for the de-icing machine. They spray the airplane with a giant, loud hose. I hope the runway's not too icy, but even if it is, I figure the pilot can steer it correctly once it's in the air, right? While we were driving, we'd have been better off if we could have made our car take off and fly. It was because it was stuck on the ground that we had such problems. Benjamin has a loud voice and keeps dropping pieces of his Anakin Skywalker figure between the seats and the cabin wall.

We get to Oakland around 1am. As soon as we get our bags from the carousel, everything shuts down. The baggage handlers say goodnight, the security guard leaves and it looks like we're the last ones in the airport. It's weird. I could run right past that sign that says "You are leaving a sterile area. No readmittance!" I could readmit myself right back to the gate, it seems.

We're waiting for G to go pick up the car at the off-site parking lot and come back and get us. Everyone is gone. A.'s a little freaked out by all the workers going home and I tell him I'm sure there's a security guard somewhere on the premises. We did see a maintenance guy taking out all the trash, but then he disappeared too.

So G. finally gets us and we drive home. It's 1:30am and the boys want to see what Santa left for them while we were in Portland. G. tells them he wants to turn on the tree lights first, rushes into our 50-degree house and quickly takes all the presents and stuffs them under the tree.

Benevolently, we let them take 30 seconds to look and then rush them to bed. I grab the stockings, thank G_d that they didn't notice they were hanging empty, and fill them quickly. We got to bed about 2am. Longest. Freakin. Day. Ever that ended the longest freakin' visit ever. But that's another post.

 
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