Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mommy Working

So we are keeping the twins home from daycare this summer and Conor is mostly out of camp. The reason for this is absolutely financial. The summer months are supposed to be professors' most productive work time (writing without teaching) even though we are not paid for this work.   Keeping the twins home this summer saves us about $4800 and I  don't know about you, but  for us, that is a boatload of tax free income.

So, I am still working. You can read more about that here.  I get up  at 5 am (most days) and work until the twins get up at 10 am (most days).  Yes, that is  late.  We  let  them stay up late so I can actually get some work done. Conor is quiet.  The twins?   Well, the twins are not.  I can work with Conor awake.  Not  so much the twinnies.

But when  the twinnies do get up?  I switch from Professor to Mom. I'm not used to being a SAHM and having all the kids at home.  When summer  started, I was freaking out over What. The. Heck we were going to do all day, every day, all summer. I even made a basket of activities so I could pull an activity out of the hat  and  do it if we ever got too bored.

That has not happened.  

We are having a blast.  We joined a local pool and  go there many days a  week.   We've hit the kid and adult museums.  We've gone to parks.  We've gone to different libraries.  We visited my parents.  We've taken walks and runs (!) around the neighborhood. We've played at home and we've played at others.  

This is the most fun summer I've ever had.  It's  also the most *productive* summer as far as research goes that I've ever had.   The one thing it is not?  It is NOT the cleanest my house has ever been.  You'd  THINK that with all this time at home, I'd be compelled  to  keep the house clean.  You'd think wrong.  

I think that I have a choice:  I can either work and keep a clean house or I can work  and have fun.  I  vote work and fun.  I have no idea how SAHMs do it.  

But this is the first of only a few summers when all three kids are home.  I love my new working schedule.  And I ABSOLUTELY love my new Mommy schedule.  I could still use a nap, but that's the plight of being a (working) mom.  

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Mud Run

Dave and I decided that we are  much more likely to do a father/daughter or mother/son mud run than a  father/daughter or mother/son dance.  Not that there's anything wrong with a dance.  That's just the way we roll.  In the mud.

Conor and I did the Big Muddy Challenge at The Hunter Farm in Weddington, near Charlotte.  It was a 2 mile "run" with 12 muddy obstacles in it.  Conor and I trained--with the twins--by doing run/walk intervals around the 'hood while the twins biked beside or between us. Our training runs have been incredibly slow and I was a bit worried about whether Conor would be able to keep up or even make it during the race. Because, you know, I'm an experienced runner.  And marathoner.  And one-time triathlete.

10 years ago.

So, um, yeah.  Here is a picture of us coming out of the pond.


That is literally  the only time I  was  ahead of Conor.  And bless our hearts, I  know  this was a family  event but both Conor and I were running and passing everyone we could.  I think I even said at one point or another (or several), "we can pass 'em." I may be a used up old  hag, but I am still competitive.  And I can pass a 6 year old  struggling to run up the hill with a gleam in my eye.  

So yeah. I was surprised that after each obstacle and most flat spaces and every hill, I had to yell to Conor "Wait for me!  This is a family event!  Run with meeeeeeeee!!!!"  It felt very much like  running with Dave.  Except when I caught up to  Conor, he was having so much fun doing this, he would hug and kiss me.  Not that Dave doesn't do that on our  runs.... Yeah.  He's from the Midwest.  Not  so  much smooching during our runs together.  

So here is  *my* favorite picture of Conor and me running together:

You can see even there that is his stride is longer than mine.  He was Ready. To. Go.  And also, my mouth is open, so I'm talking/coaching/mentoring and probably saying Slow Down.  ;-)  Actually, I've already given Conor a couple of running tricks that he LURVES, his favorite of which is picking some tree, sign, or pole  in the distance that pulls him toward it.  That is honestly the best trick  in the book because then you aren't actually running; this object is pulling you towards it.  Also, no whining.  He learned that after his first run when he noticed a difference in how well he ran with his whine turned on or off.

And my favorite mentoring advice to him: we were near the end of a training run and he was all "I can't  do this!  I can't do it!!" and I laughed in  recognition of that self-talk.  And I laughed even harder when I said "But you ARE doing it. You are doing it RIGHT NOW. And you are almost done!!"  

Right?? Can't we all use that feedback?  We are all Doing It right now.  

He and I both laughed and  boy, was that a life lesson for *me*.  

So here we are at the end of the race.  


I love this picture.  We are both so excited. And you cannot tell what I am thinking which is actually which was "Holy crap, that was hard and I'm glad it's over and I had so much fun with Conor and my face has got to be  SO RED  that this picture is going to suck." I wonder where Conor gets his self-talk from? Hmmmm....

In any case, we  have a runner on our hands.  That is for dang sure.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mid-Life Crisis

I am turning 50 in August.

I say this like it's a big announcement because it  is. Since my 30s, I've been extremely  cagey  about my age because I have been told I look a lot younger than I am.  Lord knows, I act a lot younger.

So announcing my real age feels like a big deal.

Turning 40 really did not seem like that big of a deal, mainly because I had just gotten married and was pregnant with Conor.  It's hard to feel old when everything is new and shiny.  Plus I was still running marathons around that time.  Physically, in my late 30s, I was at my physical peak.

Screeching up to the 50 year mark?  Not so much.  I still run, but  only a bit. There is still evidence of MY AWARD WINNING TMZ PHOTO (!!!) and the twins in the extra skin around my belly.  My metabolism has taken a nose dive and I cannot get rid of these extra ellbees.

So I'm no longer physically at my peak.  But mentally and emotionally?  I am just getting started.  And I can tell you that I'm getting a few amens from the other women who are approaching or past 50 right now, too.

First, my attitude has shifted to this:


I sometimes just say that.  Out loud.  With a sweep of my arm to demonstrate both the field and that it is barren.

Second, I recently saw this:

This is a nice coda to the original "Behold the fields in which I grow....".  Plus, it's a lot quicker to just say "F@ck it!  Dance party!!!" and start dancing around.  

It doesn't mean that I've given up.  Instead, it's quite the opposite.  Now I  have a barren field on which I  regularly have a dance party.  It allows me to jump off the diving board in my large tankini at the pool and swim around like a shark attacking my children.  It  says  "Why not try some Latisse, Botox, and eyelash tinting" and by Jove, it looks good.  It says "Fasting is good. But this week, I'm  going to eat and drink some nice wine."    This dance party on that field says  "Get that second tattoo on your ankle so everyone can see it."  

I thought "Tattoo Still Life With Cat" would make a nice addition to all the Facebook pictures.  All I need now is a teacup pig, and my midlife crisis will be over.  Or at least full.  Crisis goals met?  What happens when the crisis is over?  What's the next stage?  Old hag?  READY FOR IT!!



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spring, Fasting, and Growing Up

I know I blah, blah, blahed about this  in the last blog, but Dave and I continue to be shocked at this thing called "Spring."  IT'S BEEN SO LONG.  The last Spring we actually had was two years ago, when the twins were turning 3 and it was the first time in, OH THREE YEARS, Dave and I had some semblance of a life.

It's just amazing:  we are planting things in the garden and landscape bed....and they are growing.  We have more (!) baby chicks and they are thriving.  Nights are not fraught with fears of going back to the hospital.  I wake up early most days and do some work.  I am even somewhat regularly exercising.

I am living and it feels like forever since that has happened!

I'm also still doing the intermittent fasting and living somewhat gluten free.  While my incredibly mainstream doctor was surprisingly supportive of my continuing a completely gluten free life, I've seen some research posted about whether gluten sensitivity is real that gives me pause.  Celiac disease is absolutely real.  Hashimoto's disease is real.  Many people have real gluten allergies.  And this is ONE STUDY out of many people's experiences that questions gluten sensitivity.  But it makes me wonder if it's the *processing* that's the problem with gluten products that is causing *my* symptoms.  I don't know.  I would really like to just eat non-processed, recognizable food and call it a day.

But holy cow.  Here is the crazy thing:  the twins are going to graduate from Pre-K is two weeks.  I don't know if I'm going to get emotional when they start Kindergarten, but I'm already weepy thinking about them leaving daycare.  And not because they are going to be home full-time or we're going to get so much more tax free money now.*

We've been working with many of the teachers at the twins' daycare for 8 to 10 years. These teachers have been some of the best sounding boards and parenting advice givers we've known.  They've worked with 100s of children and have been trained to work through gentle discipline, education, and character development.  They've been our coaches and our children's mentors for a long time.  I feel like we're leaving our extended family and starting the kids in "The System."  (Which for those of  you whose oldest children are still in daycare is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT)

Christopher--who will be going by the name Kit at school--is convinced he is going to be a Boy Artist.  I don't know why he has to modify artist with a gender, but there you have it.  He assures us that when we come visit him when he grows  up, he will draw us in whatever color we want.  Even the animals!

Bridget remains extremely opinionated, and while reading Sonia Sotomayor's autobiography, I was inspired for her.  Now Bridget asks "Mommy, what am I going to be when I grow up?  The one who decides what is right and wrong?" "A judge."  "Yes!  I'm going to be a judge *and* a bus driver when I  grow up!"

(((sigh)))

How did this happen?  How did we  all get so grown up?  


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring, This Year and Last

A few weekends ago, I was working in the back  garden (as opposed to the side garden) digging and weeding and  making plans for what I was going to do.  And I realized, bluntly and clearly, that it had been a long time since I had been doing spring activities like that.

Last year, our family didn't get a Spring.  We had a really cold February and March (generally when Spring starts in Charlotte) and then there the weeks of pneumonia and Bridget's first hospitalization. Spring hit during her hospitalization.  I  missed all the azaleas and all the dogwoods because apparently we went from 0 to 50 in 8 days last year.  We recovered from the first hospitalization and then she had the second one two months later.

I'd like to go on record as saying the we didn't get a "March through June" last year.  We just didn't get to experience those months like everyone else.  I'd kind of like a refund.

Alas, it does make me appreciate THIS Spring so much more.  I'm still not up to 100% Urban Farming, but I have lots of plants out and at least modest plans for the rest of the vegetable garden and the flower beds.

And like every traumatic event, Dave and I have been acutely aware of the anniversaries.  When Bridget got her cold a few weeks ago, on the anniversary of her first hospitalization, we were not amused.  But she bounced back quickly and everything seemed great.

Then she woke up Monday barking, a sign that she's getting the Bad Cold of Laryngitis, the pulminologist hates so much.  It gives adults laryngitis, but it's a particularly bad virus for squirrel who favors atelectasis to get.  It appears to be getting progressively worse.  It's not BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD! But it's not good, either.

We're going back to the doctor tomorrow to decide on steroids or not.  Even if she starts to poop out and her O2 tanks overnight, I think we can still make it until tomorrow's doc visit.

Honestly, when I was out there in the garden thinking about how wonderful this Spring is and how suck-ash the last one was, I fully expected this blog entry to be all unicorns and rainbows.  It still is, I guess, just not in the  way I was expecting.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gluten Free, Fasting, Lent, and Beyond

So, some folks have asked how the whole "Gluten Free" for Lent is going.  Before I share that, I have some confessions to make.

First, I thought Gluten Free would help me lose weight.  And Lent is a good time (for me) to choose to sacrifice something that is supposed to make me healthier.  Last year, it was Facebook and I ended up believing there is nothing wrong with Facebook, so using it is healthy for me.  This year, I started by thinking this I could lose a few ellbees, see if it has any effect on me, and, really, to see what life is like for many of my gluten free friends.  In all honesty, except for those with celiac disease, I was not convinced that gluten free was all that healthy.  It seemed like a fad to me.  Wheat has been around for 6000 years, longer even than the beer and yogurt Dave and I are now making from scratch.

So the results, as we fast approach Easter.  No weight loss from gluten free.  But Holy Frijole, the other changes!!  Now remember, I'm going into this as a skeptic!  And while I do feel less tired, I'm not really sure I can attribute that to gluten free.  But my digestive system.  WOW!  N=1 design which provides a strong causal claim:  have a baseline, remove something, add it back, remove it again.  If you see consistent changes, you can make a decent causal claim that what you removed made the difference.

I've had over 40 some years of eating gluten, even though, in all honesty, I've really never eaten a lot of bread for health and caloric reasons (bread is not the bearer of great nutrients).  But once I stopped eating all the hidden sources of gluten, WOW.  I've been thinking of how to say this politely, so let's go with this:  without gluten, there are fewer rumblies in my tumbly. Which is akin to saying "the sun decided to sleep in this morning."  There is more, but let's just leave it at that and say that while I don't have celiac, I am now convinced I have gluten sensitivities.  In fact, one day when things went back to normal, I tried to figure out what I ate to cause this. That's when I realized that deli meats have lots of gluten and I'd eaten quite a bit of them the day before.  No more gluten, no more problems of that nature.

So am I going back to gluten after Lent?  I don't know.  I don't think I'm going to purposefully eat gluten willy nilly.  And Dave is BUMMED that he just started brewing delicious, yummy home brew and now I'm not going to drink it.  (Actually, more for him!)  But he'd like to try gluten free and see how it works for him.
But if I go to someone's house for dinner and they serve pasta, I will eat it.  I'd rather not, but I do not have an allergy, just a sensitivity (at most).  It's just amazing that I can see such a huge difference for something I didn't expect to have an effect.

So here's the other thing that has shocked the crap out of me.  (Except, not)  I've started this new fad diet called the 5:2.  I hate fad diets.  They are stupid and they don't last.  The cabbage soup diet, the bananas/hot dogs/some other food diet?  Bullshit.  So, this thing I'm doing now is also a fad diet.  Except 1)  I think this could very well be a lifestyle for me  and 2) I am FINALLY losing weight.  FINALLY!  After counting calories and getting nowhere since Christmas, I've been doing the 5:2 fast for the last 3 weeks, and I've lost 5 pounds.

The crazier part?  I'm *NOT* dieting and I'm *NOT* counting calories.  Every morning when I wake up and find out I've lost another ellbee, I spend 2 hours talking to Dave trying to figure out how I did it.  I still don't know how I'm doing it.  It doesn't make any sense to me based on 20 years of watching my calories.

So what is this magic elixir of weight loss?  It's called the 5:2 Fast Diet.  But "Fast" doesn't mean quickly.  Fast means you don't eat.  So 5 days a week, I eat everything I want.  And I mean everything:  potato chips, french fries, wine, whatever.  And on 2 nonconsecutive days a week, I eat 500 calories (200 for breakfast and 300 for dinner).  And I lose weight.

What. The. Truck.  Yes, I get hungry on the fasting days.  But I end up drinking a ton of herbal teas.  I also look at the food I really, really want and I say "I am going to eat the hell out of you tomorrow."  And after the first fasting day, I probably did eat quite a bit more.  But now, I just eat on my non-fasting days.  I'm supposed to eat 2100 calories on my non-fasting days which is so much food, I don't even keep track of what I eat.

Both the gluten free and the fasting have made me very aware of how frequently I snack on unhealthy tidbits off the children's plate or from the cupboard while I'm preparing dinner.  There's nothing quite like cooking while you're really hungry and NOT eating to teach you that you can do it.  Also, dinner on fasting days is some of the best food I've ever eaten.

So maybe I'm not eating as much as I used to on my non-fasting days?  I don't think so.  I'm eating everything I want although I do have in the back of  my mind that I don't want to blow all the hard work from my fasting day.  But I still eat.  Everything I want. So I don't know if that's it.  Maybe the fasting days quick change my metabolism?  I do know that there's some evidence for the health of fasting, but I don't know if intermittent fasting as this is called does the same thing. And when I've lost the weight I want, I apparently only fast one day a week for maintenance. (I can already tell that's going to be on Mondays after a weekend of indulgence)

All I know is that this is the craziest thing I've ever done and lost weight.  I honestly and truly do not know how this is happening, because I am NOT dieting.  And I know from my calorie counts that fasting on 500 calories a day two times a week and eating 2100 calories the rest should not be enough for me to lose 1 lb a week much less 2, but that is what is happening.  That is CRAZINESS!!

I'd love to hear if anyone else is doing this 5:2 thing and how they are responding to it.  I'd love to hear if other folks start it how it works for them.  (I'm fasting Monday and Thursday)  I bought the book and just started.

Truly, two shocking food changes for me this Lent.  It's throwing everything I thought I knew about eating up in the air.  And fortunately, not landing back on my butt.

Friday, April 04, 2014

It's fine. Really, it's fine.

I forgot to mention that BOTH kids were sick last year during this week.  More on that in a sec.

We called up Bridget's amazing pulmonologist yesterday to let him know that we put Bridget on steroids.  We wanted some approval from an authority that this seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  We told his nurse we didn't need to see him, we just wanted to keep him informed.  His nurse called us back in a few and said he wanted to see B.  I figured this was one of those BS calls where they don't want the liability of giving advice out without seeing anyone. Blahty blah.

However, the second he walked in to our waiting room, our doc said "I really wanted to see Bridget at the beginning of an illness. I only see her at the end and I want to see how she is at the beginning."  Wow.  We weren't there for liability.  We were there because he wanted to know more about our little squirrel and get better up to speed on her.  WOWZA.  Full on less than 3 for our doc.

Even better when he exclaimed "Oh, she sounds GREAT!" when he listened to her. Even better-est was the diagnosis of the persistent rash on her face as irritation from her treatment mask and a change in equipment as a solution.

So here's the scoop:  The pollen is so bad that people who do not have allergies (perhaps you?!) are walking around with water eyes, blowing their noses, and feeling pooped.  It's like working in a room full of sawdust.  The next day, you are sneezing and coughing out crap as your sinuses and lungs do their thing.  People who are already a but compromised have a bit more of a problem, like Squirrel.  But she's fine. Steroids for one more day (today) and then we're done.

Of course, last year, it started with Christopher and then Bridget stole the show.  At 5 am this morning, Christopher decided it was his turn and he had the worst asthma attack he's ever had.  I honestly thought we were going to have to get him to the hospital because puff after puff of albuterol could not calm his attack down.

If it rains, it pours, right?  Actually, our city could use some rain right now.  A big downpour to clean out all this pollen.  Blergh.  But really!?  Good news absolutely and overall.