Sunday, May 27, 2007

The BBM Diet & Exercise Program

To open with, I'll post a picture of the boys. This is Robbie and Aaron in their tuxes, just before their stint as ring-bearers in my friend A's wedding. You can get a good idea of how strong the resemblence is here. (Robbie is the taller one on the left.) I get asked if they're twins an average of twice a week.

Sorry for the long wait between posts. Brochitis has been kicking my butt for the last week and a half. I haven't even been to karate, which is unusual for me. I did try on Friday, but was foiled by Sensei craftily having to work and cancelling class. Just as well I suppose, since I'm still getting coughing fits bad enough to make me hyperventilate. Passing out in class would probably not go over well. On the good side, as Black Belt Mama reports, a good round of bronchitis leads to both weight loss and strong abs. The weight loss is enhanced when you combine a deep chest cough with nausea-inducing medication (I leave the resultant synergy to the reader's imagination.).

Just to add to the fun of this last week, the boys' last day of school was Tuesday. Plus Rob was out of town, so I had two kids wanting Mommy attention, when all Mommy wanted to do was crawl into bed and hack her lungs up in peace. Both boys did well. Robbie made the A/B honor roll (B in Language) for the year. Nobody in the entire third grade made the A honor roll. The grading at Parkwood is really tough. An A is 93% and up, rather than the 90 or 91 I'm used to. That means that on a 10 question test, which would be about half of their tests at this age, even one question wrong means a B. Aaron was S's (Satisfactory, the highest Kindergarten rating) across the board except in Writing Mechanics (how he holds his pencil), and Identifying Information (He can't seem to remember our phone number). I'm not sure about the number, but given that he gets 15-30 minutes of special help daily on how to use his pencil and manipulate things manually (scissors, glue, etc.), it would be shocking, delightful but shocking, if he did manage to get an S.

Keeping our fingers crossed for 1st grade and 4th grade respectively. If we get our teacher request for Aaron, I'm pretty sure he'll have a great year. Robbie is more of a crap shoot, since we don't know any of the fourth grade teachers. Unfortunately, Robbie is actually the fussier child when it comes to teacher matching. A great teacher means a fabulous year (THANK YOU MS. EDDINGS!), whereas a bad match, not even a bad teacher, just a poor match for Robbie, spells universal disaster. A nine-week stint with a new math teacher in 2nd grade nearly had him suspended by the end of it, and the behavior problems weren't just in math class either. We had notes home from music, gym, English, everything, for as long as he had that teacher for math. When the math class rotated, the problems vanished within a week. So heavy finger crossing there.

I'm starting a new sweater from knitty. I just cast on today. I'll post about it sometime later.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Becky went and tagged me twice, so I'd better get busy answering.

First, the Mommy Meme:

1. WAS YOUR FIRST PREGNANCY PLANNED? Umm, yes, sort of? We had decided it was a good time, so I went of BC for one cycle, during which we weren't really trying. Then circumstances altered suddenly and the timing wasn't so great anymore, but by then I was already pregnant.

2. WERE YOU MARRIED AT THE TIME? Yes, we'd been married for seven years.

3. WHAT WERE YOUR REACTIONS? I was utterly floored. By the time I found out, I'd almost forgotten we had "tried", and I had not the least suspicion I was pregnant.

4. WAS ABORTION AN OPTION FOR YOU? Not even considered.


6. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT? I broke my little toe (stubbed it on a wooden magazine rack). When I went to get it X-rayed, they gave me an automatic pregnancy test before shoving me under the X-ray machine.

7. WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? My husband.


9. DUE DATE? June 6, 1998

10. DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? Yes. Though it all magically vanished within a week after quitting my extremely stressful job.

11. WHAT DID YOU CRAVE? Tuna fish. Canned, water-pack tuna fish. And occassionally french fries.

12. WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST? My father-in-law, who would make retching noises at the breakfast table.


14. DID YOU WISH YOU HAD THE OPPOSITE SEX OF WHAT YOU WERE GETTING? No. I was pretty indifferent about which sex.


16. DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER? No. None of my close friends lived in-state, and I didn't work in that kind of office.


18. DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS DURING YOUR PREGNANCY? A couple. My hip ligaments over-loosened and caused me chronic hip pain after month 6 or so, and a case of the flu about month 7 turned into an overnight hospital stay for severe dehydration and pre-term labor.

19. WHERE DID YOU GIVE BIRTH? Tucson Medical Center

20. HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR? 22 1/2. Unless you count the four bloody weeks I wandered around 2 cms dialated and contracting every 20 minutes. Annoying that.


22. WHO WATCHED YOU GIVE BIRTH? My husband, the doctor, 2 nurses and some NICU staff.


24. DID YOU TAKE MEDICINE TO EASE THE PAIN? Yes, after the first 12 hours I asked how far along. They said "about halfway." I said, "I want the epidural, please!"

25. HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILD WEIGH? 9 lbs, 12 oz.


27. WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? Robert Xavier

28. HOW OLD IS YOUR FIRST BORN TODAY? Eight. He'll be nine in less than a month!

The second meme is the meme of sevens. I have to list seven random facts about myself, and then tag seven people. The first should be much easier than the second.

The facts:

1. I'm an inveterate, addicted reader. I'd rather read than eat, watch TV, go anywhere or do anything. My record reading marathon was 27 books in three days.

2. (Related to 1) Deprive me of good books, and I'll start reading anything available - romance novels, encyclopedias, L. Ron Hubbard - anything.

3. I'm a purple belt (san-kyu) in Isshin-ryu karate. This is my second time up the ladder, having reached ni-kyu (brown) before I had kids. If I make it to black, I will likely be my sensei's first or second promotion to black (depending on whether our current brown can stick with it while nearly two hours away).

4. I have written a novel, and am partway through writing two others. I would dearly love to be a published novelist, but overcoming my own procrastination is proving a major hurdle.

5. I am currently on three prescription medications and heading for a fourth. Rather than risk being without any of these, I keep them in my purse, which as a consequence does a nice stand-in for a maraca.

6. I love knitting and spinning, but have difficulty in actually making myself anything. My success rate in attempting to make myself sweaters is currently two sweaters out of over a dozen attempts. This is not because the sweaters don't get made, but because they end up going to other people, either over issues of fit, or of flattery.

7. Somewhere in Tennessee is a Congo African Grey Parrot named Mystic that I hand-reared from a chick. She was my bird for about eight years, but I had to give her up when we moved to Arizona. So if you ever wander into a pet-store (her new owner is a pet-store manager), and here a gray parrot with a red tail saying "My name is Mystic!" - that's my old bird. Give her a scratch for me.

Now the tough part. Becky tagged me, and she already got Frotoe and Black Belt Mama, so, hmm:

1. Craig
2. Miss Chris
3. Mat
4. Bill (I know you don't have a blog - you can put responses in the comments if you want)
5. Ryan
6. Eveleaf
7. Polarchip

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

School! and stuff

Four more days of school left. Starting next Wed. I have to figure out what to do with my crew all day, every day. Rob, the stinker, is out of town all next week (and part of the week after), so I'm on my own for the first several schoolless days. In the effort to get a head-start on things, I've made both boys an offer: If, working together, we can get their rooms actually clean and organized, then I will help them to redo/decorate them as they see fit. This is up to repainting, new curtains, painting a mural, or putting up posters, but does not include new flooring or furniture. Since Robbie's room most recently belonged to a little girl, while Aaron's room belonged to a sports nut teenager, the offer intrigues them. Whether they'll follow through with actual cleaning effort? Who knows?

All the exercise time is really beginning to pay off. Exercise sessions at the beginning of karate, which used to be doable but strenuous, are becoming easy. I can grab the balls of my feet on a straddle stretch now, which is further than I could get when I was 12 and in gymnastics! My hamstrings have always been my tightest muscle, but the yoga seems to be getting to them. Plus muscles are starting to pop up all over. I'm ready for next week when the dojo switches to summer casual - no air-conditioning, so we can ditch the jacket and wear gi pants, t-shirt and belt.

As expected my PCP put me on a statin (Crestor to be precise). This caused a rapid weight-loss in the short term, as I was one of the lucky 5% who ends up with nausea from Crestor. After several days of diddling around and trying various things, a simple suggestion from a friend proved the key. A, who takes multiple medications and so is wise to their ways, suggested that I time when the nausea occurred, and then time swallowing the Crestor such that the nausea is happening while I'm asleep. Presto! As long as I don't have to get up in the middle of the night, I'm set. Thanks, A!

Fortunately for future midnight emergencies, the nausea is supposed to fade out over time, so mainly I need to get through the first month or two.

Nicky is completely fine again, having mystified two vets. His recovery was too fast for spinal injury, too slow for a pinched nerve, epileptic fit or blood clot. TIA is possible, barely, but there's no evidence of such a thing. Plus the progression really doesn't fit any neurological condition either vet can think of. Timing would be about right for a toxin, but the only toxin with a front-to-back progression of paralysis is ethylene glycol (antifreeze), and if he'd gotten enough of that to paralyze him, he'd be dead. Paralysis tick might work, but a) no ticks in our yard that we've ever found; b) Nicky has a monthly tick treatment; c) the paralysis progression should go the other direction with a paralysis tick; d) the emergency people checked for ticks and didn't find any. In the end they shrugged and said "If it happens again, maybe we'll be able to compare and figure it out." Thanks, but I'll skip if I can.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Interview by Black Belt Momma

This is a slightly different meme that seems to be propagating. BBM has sent me five questions (I volunteered), and I will answer them to the best of my ability. If anybody wants me to interview them in return, let me know, and I'll toss five questions your way.

1.What is your favorite blog to read and why?

First off, I'll freely admit to being a blogoholic. I read about 30 regularly, divided among political, writing, martial arts, knitting, and friends, with some overlap of categories. There are half-a-dozen I check every day without fail. First among these, though has to be Pandagon. I started reading Amanda (Pandagon's owner), back when she wrote for only her own tiny blog called Mousewords. Actually, Mousewords was the first blog I ever read, before I was even too clear on what they were. Be warned, Amanda is a serious progressive and feminist, and often snarky and/or foul-mouthed. I like her because more often than any other person I read, she'll say something completely outside of my line of thought, and I'll say "You know, she's absolutely right, and I never would have come up with that!" Even when I seriously disagree with what she has to say, she's always interesting to read. Several other regulars at Pandagon are also good reads, so it's always my first stop.

Pandagon being political, my other favorites are Martial Views for a martial arts blog, See Euny Knit for knitting blogs, and Miss Snark for writing. Miss Snark is also very acid (though not technically foul-mouthed). I find it sort of interesting that I like reading that sort of blog so much since it's pretty much the opposite of how I operate.

2) What is your favorite TV show and why?

In contrast with blogs, I watch very little TV. A couple of shows a week is about it. In current fare, House would probably be my favorite. I like trying to beat the plot to the diagnosis (even if I've only done it a couple of times), and the lead character is marvelous. Unfortunately its airing time conflicts with karate class, so I mostly see it on DVD. Also, my life is beginning to resemble one of their case studies a little too closely for comfort.

3) What's the best meal you ever had?

That's easy. Hands down the meal at the CIA we had to celebrate my BIL's graduation from college. That would be the Culinary Institute of America, btw, not that other place, which I don't think serves memorable food. Everything I tasted was knock-your-socks-off good, and not even torching my hair on a table candle spoiled the evening.

4) If you could offer one piece of advice to a beginning martial artist, what would it be?

My first thought was to counsel patience, but on thinking upon it I decided against. Patience is so much a personality trait, that there are relatively few people who could take that kind of advice. Instead I think I'll offer the same advice I offer to people thinking of trying temp work for the first time. Don't be afraid to look stupid. You're doing something new. Something your body doesn't know how to do. Something your brain hasn't quite taken in yet. It's not going to come on the first try, and sometimes not on the twentieth. If you stick to doing only what you know you can do, you'll never get anywhere. Push yourself, be willing to look stupid doing it, and you'll get a lot further.

5) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

I've actually thought about this one several times. Which is weird, since I've never bought a lottery ticket in my life. First, I would buy my in-laws house for them and get it fixed up while I was at it. Second, I would donate enough to let my kids' elementary school build a desperately needed new wing. Then I would probably hire a professional organizer and cleaning crew to come in and tackle the perpetual mess that is my house and show me how to maintain it. Oh - and a couple of new cars. Our old ones have been nursing along for some time now. The "new" car is nine years old with nearly 200,000 miles on it. It would be lovely to be able to take a long trip without worrying that something drastic is going to fall apart on our transportation.

That's the interview. Thanks for the questions, BBM.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Book Report/Basset

I'm reporting on a couple of kids' books this time around. The boys' elementary school just had their semi-annual book fair, and Robbie brought home two books which he promptly devoured.

The first is Ferno: The Fire Dragon, the first book in the BeastQuest series. Robbie liked it a good deal, and is intending to look for the next one. It's not the best of this kind of book by a long shot, though. You know the wish fulfillment is running heavy when even your eight-year-old finishes a chapter (wherein the 11-year-old protagonist is chosen by the king to save the kingdom from a fire-breathing dragon), looks up and says "But Mommy, he's never trained with a sword!" There were several such moments in the book. Plus the foreshadowing was running heavy. As in being dropped on by a backhoe. I'm 90%+ certain I have the surprise ending of the series figured out. I figured it out in chapter three. That's a bad sign. I guess my final say on this one is: for what it is, it's a decent read for a kid, but it makes me think of the Opus's line "Foreshadowing: your guide to quality literature."

The second book fared much better. The Sea of Monsters is the second book in the adventures of Percy(Perseus) Jackson, half-blood son of Poseiden and a mortal woman. Set in the modern day, where the Greek Gods have followed the heart of Western civilization and come to America (the Empire State Building is now Mt. Olympus). I won't say too much because this is one of those books that makes little sense by description unless the listener is already familiar with the world. Nonetheless, this book is entertaining enough for me to sneak off and read it on my own. It also stands alone pretty well, though both Robbie and I intend to find the first book (The Lightening Thief) and read it ASAP.

And finally, the Basset. We spent an entertaining night (midnight to 3am) at an emergency vet clinic when we discovered about bedtime that Nicky couldn't get up. His forelegs had no muscle tone. They couldn't support his weight. He'd thrown up a couple of times in the afternoon, which we attributed to a morning garbage raid, but otherwise he'd been behaving normally. The vet was puzzled. He showed no paralysis, just muscle weakness. The X-rays showed no problems with his spine, and were equivocal about his front legs - puppy rickets have left them short and twisted even by basset standards, so their hard to read. She decided evetually that he must have strained them with the vomiting, gave us a painkiller and told us to rest him.

By this morning, Nicky's hind legs weren't working either. Since he seemed in no other distress, breathing well, not in any discernable pain, cheerful, we put him out on the lawn with water, so he wouldn't have to move at all, and kept an eye on him. We seem to have made the right call. After sleeping the whole morning away, Nicky was able to get his forelegs under him for just a few seconds somewhere around 2pm. By dinner time, he was able to stand up for about ten seconds. We still have no clue what hit him, be it infection or some kind of toxin, but at this rate of recovery, he should be back to normal in another day or so. I wish I could have saved the nearly $500 the vet visit cost, but we couldn't take the chance that he'd injured his spine or gotten into something that needed immediate treatment (like anti-freeze, which needs very rapid treatment, and presents in much this way). Sigh. That's what emergency funds are for anyway.