Friday, January 28, 2011

Show Me the Mommy

Well, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you've probably noticed that I have trouble getting with the program. It doesn't matter what the program is, I never pull it off. Blog-versaries? Um...oops. Celebrating blog milestones? Yeah, not so much. Making sure I brush Michael's hair before school? Wait, you don't know about that problem yet. Trust me, it's a problem.

So, as much as I love the show me the mommy posts and look forward to them every week, I routinely fail to get a picture of myself each week. This week was a little different. Michael was playing with my iPhone and decided to take some pictures. He took about 50 of himself, and if you scroll through them really quickly, it's like a film of him opening and closing his mouth. It's so lame that even I don't want to look at them.

He also took some pictures of me. I hammed it up with silly faces for him and decided that I'd use one for Show Me the mommy.

Then, I looked at them. They are somewhat lacking. No, they are really lacking. In fact, they are so bad, I refuse to post them. Instead, I scrolled back a little further until I found one I was willing to post. Here you go!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bouncing Baby Boy

Having a son leads to many experiences that I never expected to have, and to be honest, I don't always understand. The feminist in me wants to reject the idea that boys and girls are different and that most of the behavioral differences we see are the product of our cultural influences. Then, Michael tries to wiggle his naked hiney in my face and I wonder if boys are just naturally gross. Maybe girls are naturally gross too, but I don't have a daughter, so I don't know about it.

On Saturday morning, while I was eating my cereal and watching TV, Michael climbed up next to me and tried to place something onto my head. The next thing I know, an entire stack of Lego Ninjago cards plopped smack into my cereal. As I was wiping each card down and lying them out to dry, I wondered just what was going through Michael's mind when he decided that he simply had to put those cards on top of my head. I also couldn't help but reflect on the fact that I never expected to use the knowledge I gained during my college senior thesis on the conservation and preservation of library materials to help preserve the pristine condition of a bunch Nija fighting cards.

That was the only time over the weekend that I got to experience the strange nature of boys. At one point I came into the living room to discover Andy and Michael having a Nerf sword fight. Andy had gotten creative and had jury rigged shields for each of them to use. Andy had a lap desk strapped to his arm, which served as a suitable replacement for a shield. Michael, on the other hand, had a very strange shield. Andy had taken Michael's bumble bee Pillow Pet and tied it to Michael's arm with a scarf. As a mom, sword fights don't come to mind when I think of play. Clearly, based on the well thought out bumble bee shield, it is something that dad's give more than a moments thought to.

I love the different perspective I get from living in an all male house hold. I never expected to find myself petting a dinosaur at 6:00 am in the morning, but I like it. Sure, things can get a little rough from time to time, but overall, having a son is awesome. Do I sometimes miss out on dressing up like princesses and playing Barbies? Not really. But, if I insist upon matching Michael's camo pants with Diego underwear and his Spiderman shirt Marvel underwear, I'm sure you can understand why.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It's Wednesday and I'm discombobulated, so lets dive right in.

  • I love the word "discombobulated".
  • I also love the word "epiphany" but it's a lot harder to work into a randomness post.
  • As we were leaving daycare the other day, the director heard Michael ask if we could play bop the balloon when we got home. She laughed and commented that the kids really need to get outside.
  • Having played a good bit of bop the balloon this week, I have to agree with her.
  • Due to winter weather, I've had to come in to work late twice in the last two weeks. I now have three hours of sick time left.
  • It's very tempting to be sick for three hours and I'd consider it except it's supposed to snow on Thursday night. I am not happy about this.
  • If I was mother nature, my new rule would be put up or shut up. If it's going to snow, it needs enough for my company to shut down. Otherwise, no snow.
  • Or ice.
  • Or Fog.
  • In fact, let's just have one big snow storm every year and then the rest of the time it's sunny and 75 degrees. I think we can all agree that that would be nice.
  • What, nature isn't a democracy? That's a shame. I'm pretty sure my platform would get me the win.
  • One of the big drawbacks to these late starts (other than burning up my time off) is that now Michael thinks that I can choose to go into work late and we can stay home and play games instead. Umm...nope.
  • Even if we could, I'd probably pick work over bop the balloon.
  • At this point, I'd probably rather go to the dentist than play bop the balloon.
  • Hmm...maybe Michael isn't the only one with cabin fever, what do you think?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Brain Failure

My brain doesn't always work that well, and as I'm getting older and busier, it seems to be occurring more often than I'd like to admit.

In this case, it has to do with the eye strain that I've been dealing with for several months. At my eye appointment a few weeks ago, I learned that my glasses were a bad prescription and the the adjustment for my astigmatism was off. As a result, my eyes often hurt by the end of the day.

Due to weather, I wasn't able to get to the glasses store right away. Every extra day with sore eyes really seemed unnecessary, so a finally managed to get some time and went in and picked out new lenses. At which point I learned that it would take 10 days to get the glasses made.

10 days! 10 days! That's 10 days of unnecessary pain. There was nothing I could do about it. Best just to suck it up and deal with it. 10 days isn't that long.

A few days later, as I was looking for some make-up in the big bin under the sink where I keep all my castaways, I started pulling out old glasses cases. Five in total. Each one housed a pair of glasses that I used to wear without any eye pain. One pair has a lens that pops out. One pair has a scratch on the right lens. One pair is ugly as sin. None of them are the ideal pair of glasses, but none of them hurt my eyes to wear. So, I tried them all on and decided to go with the ones with the scratch.

What do you know, after several days of wearing them, I'm dealing with much less eye pain. Awesome!

The only thing that would have been more awesome would have been if this had occurred to me when I learned about the prescription problem of with the current glasses. I could have saved myself two weeks of pain.

Let's just file this one under D'oh!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Curse You Snow!

Nothing in life brings out my conflicting adult vs. child internal battle like snow does.

I love snow. I mean, I love it. The joy starts when I see the word snow pop up on the weather forecast, and doesn't end until the snow melts to that mostly grass and brown plowed snow stage.

I hate snow. It drives me crazy. The anxiety starts when I see the word snow pop up on the weather forecast, and it doesn't end until the streets are clear.

This internal battle results in me obsessively checking my weather app every hour hoping that the forecast will change. Every time I check, I hope that they are lowering the forecast amount so I can get to work. If it is lowered, I'm disappointed because I want lots and lots of snow. If it's not lowered, then I worry about that dwindling sick/vacation time balance I'm trying to manage. I really, really want a foot of snow that doesn't land on the roads.

The storm that blew through last night gave us about 3.5 inches. That's enough to cause a late start for schools, but not enough for my office to even bother with the special, "the office is open" message because we all know the company doesn't close for 3.5 inches of snow.

That means that I was supposed to be at work at 7:00 am, but Michael's daycare didn't open until 10:30. What to do, what to do? Take the hit to my vacation time and stay home with Michael. I'm sure we could have gotten in a good hour or more in the snow. Or, call my mom and see if she could take Michael at some point before 10:30 so I could try and save a few vacation hours.

When we got up at 6:00, I was leaning towards staying home. Michael loves playing in the snow, and there was enough outside for sledding.

At 6:16, Michael started talking. And talking. And talking. And OMG DID YOU DRINK SOME OF MY COFFEE?

By 7:00 I had made my decision. Turns out that it's really nice and quiet in my office on snowy days.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Move It 2011

Last week in my "I don't do resolutions" post, I mentioned that I do set fitness goals for myself. I spent a good deal of time thinking about my goals for this year, and this is what I came up with.

1. I'm competing in the Move It 2011 Challenge. Last year I participated in the 500 in 2010 challenge, and it was a great experience for me. It really drove me to get my miles in each week, and I hit the target in September (even with all the miles I lost due to the poor tracking on our old elliptical.) The problem with the challenge was something that anyone with project management is familiar with; you get what you measure. I measured miles, therefore I maximized my workout time to get miles in. To the exclusion of any resistance training.

The thing is, I need to do resistance training. So as soon as I hit 500 miles last year, I stopped tracking miles and started doing some ab work. This is the direction that I want to got this year, so I decided that I will not track miles this year. Instead, I'm going to track exercise minutes. The Move It 2011 time goal is 125 hours of exercise. That will not challenge me to the extent I want, so my modified goal is 175 hours. That equals 3.4 hours of exercise a week for 50 weeks. I think this is realistic, but will require diligence to hit.

2. Goal two is to run a 10k. That's twice as far as last year's 5K goal. I can already run a little over 4 miles, so this is also realistic. I plan on doing a straight 10K in either the summer or fall. However, the mud run crazies are contagious. Andy wants to do one. So he did a little research and came up with the Philly Mud Run for the MS Society. I'll post more about the run later, like the fact that people can provide donations to the MS Society as our sponsors. For now, I'm just going to say that it's a 10K mud run and I agreed to run it with Andy in June.

I think I might be crazy, but it's a good crazy, right? RIGHT?

Never mind, don't answer that.

3. This goal is a little more vague than the others, but I think it's a very good goal. I want to set a good example for Michael, and to do that I've realized that I need to do more than just exercise 4 times a week. I need to be active. I already do a good bit of this, like taking steps instead of the elevator at work, but I want to work being active into my daily routine even more.

There is a reason behind this goal. Emerging research is showing more and more that sitting on our asses for 8 or more hours a day is really bad for us. Even if you exercise regularly, you can still live a mostly sedentary life. There is an excellent series on this topic at Obesity Panacea. It's a 5 part series, but each section is a quick read, so I recommend that you take a little time and check it out. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part5. As a result, I'm going to make more effort to get up and move every hour at work, and to do the same on weekends.

So there you have it folks. 175 hours of exercise this year, a 10K mud run, and even a daily goal to not sit still for too long.

Shouldn't be too hard, right?

Never mind, don't answer that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Flash

On Wednesday I posted about my mom's ongoing visions problems and the amazing improvement she has seen since have cataract surgery. One of the big concerns with getting the surgery is that is increases the risk of a detached retina. Considering that my mom has already had a partial detachment, this was a real concern for her. As I said, my grandfather's detactched retina ended up leaving him blind in one eye, and seriously impacted his quality of life. We take detached retinas pretty seriously around her.

While I know that Karen and her husband Todd know the symptoms of a detached retina all too well, I'm not sure if everyone else does. According to Wikipedia, the symptoms are as follows:

  • "flashes of light (photopsia) – very brief in the extreme peripheral (outside of center) part of vision
  • a sudden dramatic increase in the number of floaters
  • a ring of floaters or hairs just to the temporal side of the central vision
  • a slight feeling of heaviness in the eye"
If you encounter those symptoms, don't mess around. Call the eye doctor. The quicker you catch it, the easier detached retinas are to fix.

About a half hour after hitting the post button on my mom's vision post, I had a flash of light in my right eye. It's the same eye that I've been having problems with recently. One of those problems is a large number of floaters. I had tried to schedule an appointment with my eye doctor before Christmas, but his office staff failed to return my calls. I had already decided to find a new doctor, and the flash moved that up to project A1.

My mom is very happy with her guy, so I gave them a call. What a different experience. They promptly returned my call and managed to fit me in for an exam yesterday. The office staff rocks, the office itself was great, the parking was free and easy, and best of all the doctor is awesome.

The doctor did a through exam, then he picked up his eye ball model and started to explain what was going on. "As we age..." Groan. I'm not thrilled with this as we age stuff. I know I need to suck it up and deal with it because, well, I'm aging. I can't stop the process, so what good is whinging about it? Oh, I know, because I can! So here goes, WAH!

Anyway, what's happening is a posterior vitreous detachment. You can read about it at the link, or in brief the goo in your eye starts to shrink and pulls away from the retina. It's a fairly normal part of aging for most people, and not a big concern. It does have a slight possibility of leading to retina detachment, and based on my family history the doctor want to continue to monitor my eye until the process is complete.

So, in a nut shell, I'm fine. I'm just getting old. Compared to a torn retina, I'll take a little aging.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reflections on a Year of Daycare

This week marks a full year since Michael started daycare. I have a lot of thoughts about the subject and I thought this might be a good post for some randomness. Here goes...

  • Daycare Centers are cesspools of contagions. It's not their fault. It's the nose pickers and tornado sneezers fault.
  • It doesn't help if your kid likes to lick random objects.
  • Daycare provides an amazing social learning environment that is well worth the endless colds.
  • This is especially true if you are a geeky introvert who lacks social skills.
  • If your child is a puker, a loft bed may not be the best idea.
  • Really, trust me on this one. I know what I'm talking about.
  • It's a really bad idea to try and figure out how much money you've spent on daycare days that you couldn't use because your child was sick.
  • Damn, I could have had an iPad for that!
  • Watching your child read a book to his entire class during a Halloween party is one of the most amazing feelings of pride you will ever have.
  • Having your child's teacher point out how poorly your child eats is pretty much the exact opposite of that feeling.
  • You might just be surprised that your response to the teacher telling you that your child won't do worksheets for her is, "Great! That means he likes you and is comfortable in your class."
  • But you won't be surprised when your secondary response is, "Crap. It's not even kindergarten yet."
  • It is awesome to walk into the classroom to a huge hug and a declaration of, "I LOVE YOU."
  • It's a little awkward when you look down and realize it's not your kid.
  • And finally, even though you may worry at times if you are doing the right thing for your child, when you walk into the classroom to find the middle aged Indian woman who teaches the class rocking out with the students to the Clash's Rock the Casbah, you'll know that maybe he's in the right place.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Seeing is Believing

A topic that I suspect will be coming up more and more on my blog is my increasing role in the Sandwich Generation. Even though I watched both of my parents as they cared for their aging parents when I was a kid, I naively pushed the thought away when Andy and I decided to have a child. I really should have considered the fact that my parents had me later in life, and I had Michael a little late, which makes my parents old.

Even though my dad is older than my mom, he's actually in better shape than she is. In fact, at 75, he's in better shape than most 50 year olds, so it gives me a skewed perspective on what 75 year olds should be like health wise. My dad still walks, bikes, swims in the ocean, sea kayaks, and is very active with the Boy Scouts. "Normal" old to me is when you have to give up running at 75 because it's causing some hip pain.

To be fair, my mom is still in pretty good health for her age, but since her age is not that young anymore, it does mean she that she deals with the effects of aging and the limitations that it places on her life. None of these limitations seem "normal" to her or to me. They just seem like limitations, and they are frustrating and a little scary at times. It doesn't help that she also has an autoimmune disorder that complicates things.

As you know, my mom has provided either part time, or full time daycare for Michael since he was born. Ideally, she would have been able to provide full time care until kindergarten, but reality snuck up and complicated things. She hurt her knee one year, then she needed surgery the next. Add in Michael's high energy level, and it just became too much. We found a good daycare last year, and things have been working pretty well since then. We have found a nice balance.

But, there has been one issue that I've been very concerned about. My mom's vision. She's always had poor vision. She started wearing glasses in grade school, and age only made things worse. I've watched my mom try various techniques for maximizing her vision over the years. She's done monovision with contacts to have one eye for distance and one for reading. Didn't work. She tried contacts and reading glasses. Didn't work. She finally ended up with contacts and progressive lenses so that she could see well enough to drive, read, and do fine needlework. Still, it wasn't uncommon to see her removing her progressive lenses while doing needlework to try and see better.

Then, the retina problems started. We have a history of retinal detachment in my mom's family, so it was not surprising when she had a partial detachment. They were able to fix it, but it was scary. When it happened to my grandfather, he ended up losing his vision in one eye; along with the ability to do woodwork, read, and drive at night. Those kind of restrictions on my mother would significantly hinder her quality of life. Her two favorite past times are reading and needle work. And, she's also not the kind of person who has the patience to wait around for someone to drive her around.

In the past few years, it's become abundantly clear that her vision is getting worse. She painted her bedroom and when she proudly showed it off to me I was shocked at all of the spots that she had missed. The entire room needed a second coat, but her vision was so blurry that she couldn't tell. That's bad enough, but since she couldn't see the problems it didn't matter. More importantly, she was driving Michael around in her car. I had taken to frequently testing her vision with "subtle" questions to try and gauge if it was safe for her to be driving. It was getting close to the point where I was going to have to have a talk with her about not driving Michael any more.

That would be a heartbreaking discussion. Who really wants to sit down and tell someone that they love that even though they are in good shape mentally and physically, you don't trust them to drive your child? Aging is hard enough without your brat kids pointing out that you are old and treating you like they are a child. I really, really did not want to have that talk.

This past fall, she ended up with what turned out to be a very mild case of shingles. On her face, of course. Right next to her eye. Did you know that getting shingles in your eye is a really, really, really bad thing? I didn't. But when her doctor discovered it, he sent my mom directly to an eye doctor. (By directly I mean he called the doctor himself and got my mom an appointment for the same day. Yikes!)

This guy was a specialist, and he's good. Really good. He looked her over, checked her out, and then let her know that not only where her eyes OK, but he could perform cataract surgery on her lenses and not only correct the blurriness of her vision, but also her nearsightedness.

My response was, "Wait, What!?"

She got a second opinion and got the go-a-head from her retina doctor and over a period of two weeks last month, my mom had the lenses of both eyes replaced.

And now, she sees better than I do. She doesn't even need glasses to drive. She still needs reading glasses and she has a small fold on her left retina that creates a blind spot that may be correctable, but for the most part her distance vision is 20/20. It's truly amazing.

I'm so excited and happy for her. I'm happy that she is no longer limited by such poor vision. That she can read and drive and enjoy watching birds. I'm also happy that the impending limitations on her driving and independence have been lifted and that she isn't looking at having to give up her license anytime soon. I'm also thrilled that instead of sitting down and having that horrible talk about her ability to drive, instead we can have debates over what kind of hawk is sitting on the cell tower across the road from her apartment.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hello Internet, I've Sort of Missed You

Wow, two weeks with no blogging. I feel a little like I dropped of the face of the earth over the holidays. It was a much needed break, and I'm thankful for the time spent with my family. But, I also do miss my blogs and blogging.

We ended the year pretty much the same way as we started it. Michael ran a fever for six days before Christmas, which forced me to take the sick time I had just earned back. (I earn a day a month for 10 months, and then two months without. Not the easiest system to have when you have a kid in daycare.) I could have been really angry and resented the time, but instead, when Michael would wake up at 6:00 am on the two days it was just the two of us, I simply brought him into bed with me and we snuggled for several hours. It was a very sweet way to spend the mornings, and a nice way for me to relax before the crazy holidays.

Michael's fever finally broke, and he was healthy through Christmas and New Year's Eve. Christmas morning with a 4.5 year old is so full of excitement and joy, that I couldn't help but be excited myself. I really enjoyed watching him open his gifts and seeing the joy on his face. At one point, he even mentioned that he needed to thank Santa for all the great gifts. I think Santa liked hearing that. *wink*

Santa also treated me very well and I got the Kindle I had asked for, as well as some winter running clothes that I really needed. Oh, and I got chocolate, and iTunes gift cards, and a bunch of other little luxuries that make life a bit more pleasant. (Like beer and puzzles.)

New Year's, on the other hand, isn't really a 4.5 year old's kind of holiday. So, my mom watched Michael for us and Andy and I spent the evening with some friends. It was a nice evening getting to be grown-ups for a few hours.

And, that's about it. Two weeks off and you would think I'd have lots of stuff to talk about, but we really didn't do that much during the break. It was really just a time to be together, recharge, and enjoy a little peace and quiet. Kind of like taking a big pause in all the craziness of our lives and building up our reserves for the next round of life that picks up with the New Year.

True to form, it started off with tons of fun. Michael woke up with another mystery fever on Sunday morning, and I dropped my car off at the shop later in the day because it had a few lights on that shouldn't be on. (Is it a bad idea to ignore the "Maintenance Required" light for a month?) Sigh...everything old is new again. Same year, different... But, my tweeps pointed out that the germs and the car problems were from 2010, so I'm going to go with that and head into the new year with a positive attitude. The very small bill for minor work on my car helped to keep me happy, and Michael's temperature was down this morning, so I hope we are good to go. If not, at least I'll have plenty to blog about this year.

And of course, I must touch on the New Years resolution topic. I don't have any. I have health and fitness goals, and I'll get to those in a different post. But no, I have no resolutions for this year.

So, there you have it. A completely boring welcome back post with no funny stories or interesting resolutions that I'll fail at spectacularly. I guess I'll just have to do a simple "Happy New Year". I've missed all my blogging friends and I can't wait to jump back into the web.