Tuesday, May 21, 2019

News & Notes, All the Things Edition

It is that time of year--where the papers are coming home from school, the year-end events are constant, the work fiscal-year-end crush is on, and the desire to do all the outside things have all come together to make daily life completely overwhelming.  Sort of in a good way, mostly, but overwhelming nonetheless.  I find myself grateful that Jacob never took up any musical pursuits because if I had to add all of the year-end chorus and band concerts I keep seeing to our schedule, I think I'd lose my mind.  We already have soccer every Wednesday, which is fine, but starting in a couple weeks we'll have lacrosse Tuesday and Thursday, which will throw our entire existence into chaos, with a constant chorus of complaints from Jacob, who is more than ready to be done with lacrosse and already dreading next weekend when he goes away to training camp for a couple days.

The last couple days were full of me obsessing over all sorts of logistics.  I'm trying to coordinate two different summer camps for Carter, one month at his old daycare and one at a new one.  The short story is that his best buddy Elias had already committed to going back to our old daycare, but when I told his mom that another one that we've long wished we could afford was actually the same price with a much better program, she decided to split the summer, which is just fine with us--and we definitely want the boys together.  But if a June 21 deadline to finalize dates wasn't bad enough at the old daycare, the other has a June 1 deadline...and aside from big, long-planned trips, who the heck knows their summer schedule then?!  I like being able to plan a couple random family outings or long weekends, and it's so hard to do so far ahead when neither of us know quite what our work schedule might be then.  I much prefer Jacob's camp and its two week timeline.  So I've been freaking out about that (namely how much money we will waste if we do schedule something later vs. how much we'd regret not doing anything when summer's over) and needing to fill out paperwork and get in deposits (and figuring out how two full-time camp tuition payments will be tolerable all summer).  We tour the new one (again) on Friday, since the last time we went Carter was only two.

Then this week I knew that I had to made a decision about letting Jacob come home from school and not go to the afterschool program in June.  We had talked about it and wanted to do it, but he didn't love the thought of being home for more than two hours alone.  Yet in the end he wanted to do it so I had to put in the paperwork to get his bus changed in time and cancel my autopayment on his afterschool account.  In the process, I asked the transportation people about next year's bussing, and found out that we were supposed to have paperwork in on that in April, but OF COURSE no one told us.  So I had to download the form, fill it out, have someone from school sign it, and then have the principal from the new school sign it and fax it over.  That was a little craziness I didn't need.  Oh, and I still need to get an extra house key made for him (or decide if I want to replace our door locks first because my key keeps getting stuck).

In the midst of all of this I'm trying to finish up a cell phone contract (our internal family one) and a chore chart so we can get Jacob's cell phone situation up and running.  He got Craig's iPhone (spoiled, anyone?) when Craig got a new phone for his new job with the new Knighthawks, and he's been using it for WiFi internet stuff and music for a couple weeks now.  We're going to start him with a TracFone plan for now.  He may blow through his data if he's not careful, but when he has to hand over hard earned allowance to get more, he may learn his lesson.  His entitled, "why should I" attitude about almost everything is killing me lately.  Why should he have to wait for WiFi to watch videos?  Why should he have to do summer reading for school?  Why should he have to play lacrosse if basketball is his sport now?  Why shouldn't he buy this expensive thing even though he has no income?  Know your role, kid.

He pretty much thinks I'm a jerk about everything these days, but yet I'm sitting here in a Raptors shirt, poised to search for cheap hotels in Toronto this weekend if the Raptors win their game tonight and force a Game Six in their conference finals series.  No, we're not going to the game--we're not that crazy--but we promised that if they made it to Memorial Day weekend we'd consider going up there and maybe try to get into "Jurassic Park", the gathering of fans outside the arena.   More than likely we'll just end up at a bar full of fans to cheer them on together.  It has to be a cheap hotel to make it doable, and we'll try to make a weekend of it with some sort of other activity, but I don't mind having something to keep us busy for the weekend.  We have four full days, so I'm happy to dedicate a couple to making at least part of Jacob's dream come true.

In the meantime, Craig and I are both trying to up our fitness game, which is tough when there's already a lot going on.  He took a not-great picture for his work head shot, which was the straw that broke the camel's back for him.  He's (back) off diet pop (only water and sparkling water/seltzer), and trying to work out more.  I ended up not signing up for the Corporate Challenge, which is just as well since it takes the pressure off having to get my distance up.  The urgency would have been motivating, but the treadmill workout a couple weeks ago inspired me to work on speed, and in fact tonight I wasn't feeling like a run at all, but the sun was setting quickly and I knew it was my best chance to run outside this week, so I forced myself.  I picked a shorter route (less than 2.5 miles) and decided to just run as hard as I could the whole time.  I didn't have to obsessively check my distance, and just ran to get it over with.  Sure enough, 2.39 miles in 22:31, which was a 9:25 pace.  That's just under a 6.5 mph pace, which is great and felt fast...but it also makes me wonder how the heck I ever got up to a 7 mph pace for 3.5 miles.  I'm really thinking we both need to lift weights to budge our weights, but we'll see.

Carter continues to frustrate me with his struggles to read and write.  Still no concerned notes home from the teacher, so he's probably fine, but it's hard to see him struggle.  I need to find a good phonics workbook or something for the summer, and we're going to have to work hard to keep him practicing.  The good news is that his teacher asked if we had any preferences for next year, and I shared how much we loved Jacob's first grade teacher (and we told that teacher we'd love her for next year back at open house in the fall), so hopefully we're well on our way to getting a good teacher for next year.  If she could wrangle Jacob back then, she could definitely work with Carter.  I think.  He's a force to be reckoned with, for sure.  Oh, and lately he's had sort of rashy dry patches all around his mouth, and despite using the best lotion we have, it's not clearing up.  And there was just a case of strep in his classroom, and Jacob had a rash from strep before, so now I'm debating whether we take him in Thursday so as not to miss more school/work.  I tried hydrocortisone tonight, so we'll see if that helps.  If it isn't one thing, it's always another.

I can't really believe Memorial Day weekend is almost upon us.  Because the weather has been sub-par this spring, it barely feels like it could be May, let alone the end of it.  But here we are.  Jacob is less than a month away from turning 11, and there's a mere five weeks left of school.  We're in the home stretch at work.  The weather is finally perking up a bit.  But it's all happening all at once.  And mostly it's good stuff, but man, it's a lot to take in.

Oh, and the Raptors won, so if you need me, I'll be spending the next 24 hours searching for Toronto hotel deals...because why not add one more thing (or a dozen) to the to-do list?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Soccer!

We had been planning on signing Carter up for some sort of martial arts after his surgery this winter, but just before we were about to go looking at programs, I happened to see that it was the end of the registration period for our town's youth soccer program.  He had wanted to do soccer last year, but with Jacob's lacrosse and whatever else, it just never happened.  So when I saw that we could still make it in for this year, we asked him and he wanted to do it.  So we signed up.

And then we heard nothing.  By late April I finally tracked down the league's Facebook page and realized that there had already been one of two indoor practices, so I messaged them and they explained that our original coach wasn't able to continue and they were looking for a new one.  Pretty quickly after that we received an email from the replacement.  She passed along the info for the next practice, which we went to, but then it was a two-week wait until the start of the season.

This past Saturday, before we went to Buffalo, we had to go pick up Carter's uniform at his coach's house.  When we got there, he was hesitant to even get out of the car.  Sometimes he has these super-shy moments, and apparently this was one of them.  I could barely get him to follow me to the porch, then he hid behind me and would barely say hi to the coach when we got there.  We did find out, however, that the sweetest girl from his class was on the team, and that another boy went to his school, which made me think that maybe the teams were set up according to that information and there might be more.  Sure enough, over the course of the week Carter figured out that one of his best friends from his class was also on the team!  How did he figure it out?  Well...when we got back in the car with the uniform, he wanted me to open the bag so he could see it.  When I did, I was instantly a bit confused...and immediately internally cringed.  The jersey was PINK.  Pepto-Bismol pink, with light blue and gray stripes diagonally across the chest.  The second Carter saw it he insisted he wasn't going to wear it.  He didn't want to play, and that was that.  I spent most of the drive home trying to convince him that everyone would be wearing it ("But not the other team!"), and that cool guys can pull off pink.  When we got home, Craig even pulled out his purplish-pink Knighthawks cancer night jersey to prove that even big guys wear pink.  All to no avail, but I had already threatened to take away all electronics for a week if he did not go out and play for his first game, so I was hopeful we could convince him eventually.  But anyway, the pink jersey helped Carter figure out that his friend was playing on this team, as well.

Luckily, it didn't end up being an issue because we got an email earlier in the week saying that we were getting new jerseys and could switch them out the night of the first game, which was Wednesday night.  However, it remained to be seen if that would even happen.  Our weather has been terrible this spring--while temperatures are apparently around average, the problem is that any nice weather days have been offset equally with cold weather days.  It just can't seem to get warm and stay there for any period of time.  Apparently on average our first 80 degree day is April 30, and we haven't seen anything close yet, and other than one possibility on Sunday, it doesn't look like even any sustained 70s are coming anytime soon.  Plus, in the meantime, we've had a ton of rain.  I know the town little league has barely been able to play at all, and the soccer fields were actually shut down for nearly a week leading up to Wednesday because they were simply too wet.  And when it rained again on Wednesday afternoon and looked to continue in the evening, I figured we were either going to be very wet and muddy that night, or going home early and disappointed.  Fortunately, neither happened!

A fresh rainstorm came through about a half hour before we had to leave for the field, but miraculously it stopped as we were leaving the house, and by the time we got there, it was starting to clear up!  It took a minute to find our team, since we didn't know what color they were wearing, but once we did Carter was thrilled to see black jerseys and his buddy Ben.  His friend Lailah came a few minutes later, and apparently he knows another girl from the afterschool program and the one boy's mom works at the school in the lunch room.  I think that helped him feel very comfortable right from the get-go.

Full Disclaimer: I must note here that despite working for a soccer team for a few years, I'm not really great with soccer equipment or rules. 
  • I'm pretty sure the cleats we have for him are either more for baseball or generic sports cleats, but for two months I'm not buying new ones if we have functional ones that fit.  
  • No one ever clarified if we need to bring a ball to practice, so we hadn't...but everyone else does, so he has one now that's the proper size, even though he already had a bigger one at home.  
  • In the first pics below his shin guards are outside his socks because I wasn't really sure if I could just stick them in the socks, or if the type he has needed to be outside the socks...but after experimenting throughout the night, we're best with shin guards in the sleeves under the socks.  
  • I still don't know if he got giant socks or what, because everyone else's were up to their knees and his easily went up his whole leg.  
  • His shorts are giant.  I ordered an XS but he got small, so I guess I need to do some creative stitching this weekend.  We made them work with the drawstring, but even with that they were huge and they were clearly bothering him.
So, it wasn't the most graceful entry into the soccer world, but we survived.  The first half of the hour every week is practice.  They'll work on skills and drills as a team.  The second half hour is a game against another team, with four kids per team on the field at a time.  I guess it's not exactly real soccer--it's actually very similar to the games they did at the end of his Micro Soccer experience last year--but at least now they have a real team and can sub in and out.  And they are seriously so darn cute.

Carter is in the middle with the white, red, and black ball.  His buddy Ben is ahead of him, and Lailah is behind him.


The game was, as expected, a lot of back and forth.  I think the kids' skills were actually better than I expected, though.  The other team had an ace, which left the final score a little lopsided (5-2, if I recall), but some of the kids were really good.  Lailah in particular was awesome.  Considering she seems like a sweet, quiet girl, she was out there speeding down the field, controlling the ball, and taking on the opposing players.  I was seriously impressed!  Carter certainly held his own considering this was his first real game.  He had one nice block and had a couple chances to bring the ball up the field.  He was always moving (which is the opposite of Jacob, who never looks particularly light on his feet), and he looked like he had a lot of fun!  The priceless moment of the night was when Ben got hit in the chest (this was after already hurting his foot), and he dropped to the pitch like he'd been shot.  He looked quite like a pro, actually, if you've seen real soccer games!  He came running off, and we all felt bad because it was quite a hit, but given that this was crying spell #2, his dad quipped that maybe he should have signed him up for acting lessons!  Oh, the drama!  But he was fine, and certainly not alone in the tears department!




When they subbed back out, the kids got to sit with their families.  When Carter subbed out before the last quarter, along came a tap on his shoulder from Lailah, who ever-so-sweetly said "Hi" and asked if he wanted to play with her.  Those two played for the entire last quarter, kicking the ball back and forth.  It was so cute that while I normally would have wanted him to pay attention and watch his team, I wasn't going to interrupt them!  She was one of Carter's first friends back in September.  She's on his bus and was one of the few classmates who didn't have a gross habit (apparently a lot of classmates still lick weird things or suck fingers or eat boogers), so they got along well almost immediately.  Every time I've seen her she seems very sweet, and I won't lie that it would be insanely cute to pull these pics out on their wedding day in about 20 years.  Heehee!

All in all, it was a successful night!  He had fun playing, we had fun watching, and it seems like it should be a fun season!


And in case I don't have anywhere else to put this, I just wanted to mention we had another first the next night.  Jacob had his first school dance!  It was low key, not a dress-up thing, and essentially just two hours doing crazy dances with his fellow fifth graders.  He initially wanted to go, then didn't...but we encouraged him to do it, and once his best friend showed up in the parking lot, he was all in.  We took Carter out for a nice, gluten-filled dinner (Texas Roadhouse for the first time in years...yum!) and then picked up that all-important practice soccer ball before grabbing Jacob and taking a family trip to Kohl's.  Jacob had a blast at the dance!  He was a sweaty mess and it was entertaining seeing him partake in the last dance with the whole group.  Hard to believe we have less than six weeks left before he's done with elementary school and moving on to bigger and better things!  HOW?!  Just craziness.  Taking a lot of deep breaths for the end-of-the-year schedule and trying to get summer plans set up.  So much to think about!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Making the Most of Mother's Day Weekend

After all of the health stuff that happened last week, having a day off on Friday to make up for my extra long work day the previous week sounded like a pretty good idea.  We had a busy weekend ahead, and I had barely wrapped my brain around preparations for that, so when the opportunity arose, I took it.  I wasn't sure how to spend my day, because I usually either cram in so much stuff that I never get to relax, or I end up laying around the house watching TV or flipping through social media and I feel like I wasted the day.  I didn't have anything specific that needed to be done, though I had a couple things in mind, so I just decided to see where the day took me.

I had to get up in the morning so I could get the kids' lunches packed and help everyone get off to school.  So, just a tiny bit of sleeping in compared to normal.  I ate breakfast and convinced myself to brave the warmish but wet weather and go to the gym for the first time in ages.  Between running outside and using our elliptical, I just hadn't needed to go.  But I didn't cancel my membership because it's a very low price and I should go more often.  The treadmill is actually a pretty handy tool when not overused, and I should be doing more weight training, honestly.  One of these days I hope to make it a weekly thing again.  But it had been so long since I'd been there that when I scanned in, the computer audibly alerted the desk attendant, who looked at the screen, chuckled a bit, and told me, "Welcome back!"  Oy.

When I got on the treadmill, I was shocked at how good I felt.  I ran a mile and a half, first starting at a 6 mph pace (a 10 minute mile, which is where I usually like to be), then bumping it up to 6.5, which is probably where I'd rather be.  It was tough to gut out that last half mile at that pace, but I did it.  Then I started doing intervals, which is why I wanted to go there in the first place, as that's the only thing that truly gets my speed and endurance up over time.  I once ran the 3.5-mile Corporate Challenge in 30 minutes (7 mph pace), and I could never have done it without intervals.  On this particular day, I ran as fast as an 8.0, but most of my high intervals were 7.0 or 7.5, usually lasting two minutes before a minute or two of walking.  Even with the walks, I did a 3.5-mile distance in about 34:30, which was crazy.  I felt amazing.  Sweaty, but amazing.  I finished up with two minutes of agony on the Jacob's Ladder, then some weight machines, abs, and stretching before heading home.  I was truly thrilled with how well I'd done.  Heading in I was a little nervous since it was my first run since the bruising incident, but thankfully there were no ill-effects so I don't think my issue had to do with my workout the day before.  And for the record, one week after it all happened, the bruises had completely healed without a trace.  So weird.

After cleaning myself up, it was time for lunch, so I headed out to Taco Bell.  Weird choice for a lunch alone, but I've been dying to try their new taco!  After that, my plan was to go to Highland Park (again), and just walk around.  The Lilac Festival was starting that day, but I really just wanted to go for the park, not the festivities.  It had been a rainy morning, but by afternoon it was in the mid-60s and breezy.  It was mostly cloudy, but while I was there, plenty of breaks of blue sky passed through.  With a hoodie and capris I was completely comfortable.  I decided to wear flip flops since I knew it might be a little muddy in spots.  I think it was a good call, but even my trusty old ones that have gone through super long days on my feet were giving me trouble by the time I finished all of my walking!  I can't imagine how far I walked, but it had to have been somewhere in the realm of five miles, I bet.  On top of my 3.5 from earlier in the day, my feet and legs pretty much reached their limit.  Just from where I parked to the edge of the park was probably a half mile alone, but then I wove through the park a number of times and took all sorts of detours I knew my kids would never have patience for if I dragged them there.  I knew this was my chance and anything I could cover now would be easy to skip if we came as a family this week.  I had such a lovely afternoon!

My first stop was the lilacs themselves, but unfortunately, the cool weather we were having (again) had prevented most of them from blooming.  I did find a few that were starting, though.



I'm not sure I'd ever been through the magnolia section of the park, at least not when the blossoms were still on the trees.  If things are a bit late this year and I've usually seen the lilacs at peak or just after, the magnolias had to be past peak.  They were actually starting to fade even then, thanks to a couple days of wind and rain, but they were still pretty!

Not sure I'd ever seen a creamy yellow one!

With all the petals on the ground and trees still blooming, it was sort of ethereal.

The bright pink was so pretty!


Daffodils have to be one of the happiest flowers ever.  I'm partial to tulips because of their color palette, but daffodils seem to last longer and they just sort of scream spring!  I was particularly fond of these...


I think this was another variety...and I'm not sure I'd ever seen an all white one.

I happened upon this one lone dogwood tree, and how gorgeous is the color of these blossoms?


I wove through the park and ended up back at the tulips.  After getting my quick stop in on Monday, I was interested to see how things were holding up.  Some of the ones I saw on Monday were getting a little raggedy, but not all, and almost all of the rest that hadn't bloomed then were open this time.

A lot of those orange ones hadn't bloomed Monday

I had a picture of the corner of this bed with the two oddball tulips, but I didn't really take a beauty shot of these before.  So pretty!

This bed in particular, with the ragged-edge tulips, had a lot of buds Monday, and most of it was in full bloom this time.

I walked over closer to the Lamberton Conservatory, the greenhouse-type structure in the background of one of my pictures from Monday's visit.  I'd never been there, so I figured this was my chance to check it out.  I saw these flowers--probably another tulip variety?--out front, and fell in love with the sherbet-esque color palette!


When I saw the conservatory had a $3 fee, I paused for a moment.  I almost walked away, but then I was like a) when am I ever going to have the time and freedom to do this again; b) the kids will never have the patience for this; and c) if I ever do try to bring them, then we need to pay for everyone...so this was the day to do it!

I was so impressed with what was inside.  It was essentially a small but diverse botanical garden.  There were a bunch of turtles...


And tiny quail...

And how about that coleus in the background.  It's one of my favorites!


The tropical gardens and flowers were so pretty, and this waterfall was very peaceful.


There was a whole room full of cacti.  I thought these were particularly striking.


The petals of this flower were translucent, and it just looked so delicate.


These were also in the desert room.  They were so tiny and almost looked fake!


More turtles, and this room included a humorous story that was posted about how the one turtle is an escape artist.  Yikes!

Caught this guy with his mouth open!

Holy Hibiscus, Batman!  Huge!  And look at those colors!
Out in the courtyard there was another daffodil-looking flower that I've never seen before.  So cute!


There were koi in the pond and it seemed like a lovely, quiet place to meditate.


I really enjoyed my walk through--and there were so many other pictures I could have included!  I'm so happy I did it!

I continued my walk through the park, this time up to the reservoir.  The gate house there is stunning.



Around every bend was another stunning vista.


It was hard to believe how high I was at this point, to be able to see so far in the distance!

I was fascinated by this tree.  It had two colors of blossoms--white and a deep melon-colored pinkish red.

Someday I'll make it to DC to see the cherry blossoms, but I guess a few of them here will make do for now.

So pretty!
Eventually I had covered all of the various vegetation areas I figured I could manage for the day, and I wound back around to the festival itself.  I figured I'd walk through, just to see what was there and see if any sweet treat called my name.  Of course, after I did that I realized that it really put me in the worst possible spot to get back to my car, which led to a very long stroll on very tired feet and legs!  It was such a relief to sit down in my car (and have made it through the festival without eating every sort of tasty, fattening snack)!

On my way out of the city, I stopped at a nearby dollar store to snag materials for a little storage project in Carter's room, then headed home for a bit to change and rest before grabbing the kids from school.  After dinner we headed out to the mall to see if either kid had anything in the district art show (nope for this year) and grab a snack.  We finished off the evening with a detour to Target to get Craig a new beard trimmer.  Woohoo...exciting Friday night!

Saturday morning I made Carter try on some summer clothes so I could at least start organizing his closet and dresser.  I wrapped up some laundry, then finished packing for our trip to Buffalo.  We were excited for a special night out with Craig's parents and his brother and his wife, to a fundraiser for his old high school.  This was our first time going and it made for a nice excuse to get all fancied up--and bonus: no kids!  After consulting with my sister-in-law at Easter on appropriate attire, I decided to wear my bridesmaid dress from my friend Lois' wedding.  I had it altered ten years ago to be a shorter pencil skirt so I could use it to be a Deal or No Deal model for Halloween, and nowadays it's getting a little snug so I figured I should probably use it before it doesn't fit anymore!  Since the shoes I've worn with it previously have either bitten the dust or just weren't what I was looking for, I snagged a $7 pair of sparkly sandals at Payless a couple weeks ago.  It was so fun to feel all fancy for a night!


We had a great time.  Open bar, delicious food, and good company all help with that.  I got to meet some of Craig's old friends and we enjoyed wandering past countless auction items.  Although the foosball coffee table was tempting and there were tons of great items, we only ended up bidding on a few small ticket items--a gift card that we got for a few bucks under face value, a new carry-on suitcase (which we didn't end up getting--but that was okay), and a pair of concert tickets.  When I walked by the tickets a couple hours into the event, they didn't even have a bid on them.  I was shocked, because it was a pretty in-demand concert when the tickets went on sale.  When I came back a bit later, it had a couple bids but they were still really cheap, so I bid.  I got outbid once, but it was still pretty reasonable and time was ticking down, so I did it again.  When it came time for that part of the auction to close, Craig waited nearby keeping an eye on everything, and seemed confident we had won our two items.  But when all of the winning slips seemed to be passing us by, I got pretty nervous!  Finally, after much waiting, the tickets were mine!  The concert features NKOTB, Naughty by Nature, Salt-n-Pepa, Tiffany, and my favorite, Debbie Gibson.  It's a late-80s/early-90s dream!  Now I just need to figure out who to take with me, since Craig probably won't want to listen to screaming, middle-age women all night!  Anyway, winning that made the night extra fun!


Unfortunately, the boys were up late and despite a solid effort at giving us a good sleeping setup at Craig's parents' house, I was hit with another round of my peaceful but draining insomnia--much like I had the night before Thanksgiving and when I went to the concert in Pennsylvania with Mary.  I laid awake--comfortable and restful but definitely not even dozing--for hours.  And then Carter had an accident (still an intermittent issue even after his surgery--almost ready to bug the doctor), and then it happened again--so we were up twice with that.  I finally dozed for a bit closer to morning but it was definitely not enough sleep to function.  I spent part of the day napping (or trying to), and finally felt a bit more human by late afternoon.  We had a lovely steak dinner with Craig's family before heading home.  The whole drive home was spent listening to the Toronto Raptors' Game Seven playoff game.  It was a very tight, back-and-forth match, which was making Jacob crazy.  Philly scored in the last seconds to tie the game, and Toronto ended up with time for one more shot.  At first it looked like Kawhi Leonard's shot was going to miss the mark, because it bounced high off the rim.  But as time expired, it bounced again, and again...and miraculously dropped through the hoop to win the game!  The Raptors are now off to the conference finals, and I had a very happy child for the night, which probably made me happier on Mother's Day than anything else!

The boys did give me very nice school-made presents, which I will hopefully share at some point.  While the big day itself was a little iffy after my sleepless night, the rest of the weekend totally made up for it.  I had a blast.  Now it's back to the grind!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Medical Mystery

I guess I proved my own point about that last post, because I probably needed that little moment of refreshment at the Tulip Garden to help me get through a couple unexpectedly very stressful days!  When I got home that night--not only from the park but from a quick grocery stop--I noticed that my inner thighs were itchy.  When I looked at them, they were very pink and quite warm to the touch.  There were a couple spots that almost looked like bug bites, but not quite, but the itchy area was considerably larger.  At that point I assumed I was just experiencing some chafing, since I was wearing a skirt without pantyhose for the first time in months.  Or maybe it did have to do with a bug bite since I had been outside, but it seemed extreme for that.  I put on some aloe and some workout capris since Jacob was talking up a family basketball game, and aside from how hot and itchy they were and trying to plan a purchase of something to prevent that in the future, I didn't think much of it.  But by bedtime, I noticed that both thighs were really red.  I put on more aloe and continued to be confused about why I would have chafed so badly without feeling it, particularly since it wasn't that hot out.

By the next morning, my legs looked even worse, and by my first bathroom break at work, it was very apparent to me that this wasn't just a rash--it looked more like bruising.  It was definitely under the skin, deep red to almost purple.  On one side the worst patch was maybe only a couple inches long by a half inch wide.  But the other side was a solid four inch long by two inch wide hardcore bruise.  Oddly, it didn't hurt at all.  At that point I got a bit concerned that maybe I had some sort of skin infection (hearing way to much about strep and staph these days), but given the lack of pain, I dismissed that.  But that night, the more I Googled, the more concerned I became.  I found pictures of something called purpura that looked very much like what I had, and pretty much nothing that leads to purpura is a good thing.  The worst scenario was leukemia, the best was a clotting disorder.  Great.

So I called my doctor in the morning and got in around lunchtime.  Suffice it to say that the doctor was completely stumped.  She asked me dozens of questions about things I might have done--everything from biking or horseback riding to "crazy stuff" with my husband.  She asked if I had itched really hard, and I didn't think I did--and I realized after the fact that I couldn't have because it was already rather tender and rough itching would have made it worse.  She even asked if I had possibly drank and blacked out, which was a definite no...but I admitted that given the location of the bruising, I took a second to consider if there would have been any opportunity to have been roofied!  It just didn't make sense, so nothing was too crazy to consider at that point.  She wasn't worried (though I suspect she still thought I was forgetting something), but she sent me off with a bunch of blood work anyway--and thank goodness, as I don't think I could have had peace of mind without it.

I'll also admit that I'm grateful that our health system processes that stuff fast, because the wait for the results could have been really awful.  But I had results by the time I sat down at my desk yesterday morning, and thank goodness, they looked fine!  Well, mostly fine.  All the important stuff was within range.  My white blood cell count was slightly higher than previous tests (except for one reading, which took me a second to realize was the day Carter was born--ha!), but still within range.  But the one area where I'm clearly borderline is my iron.  My red cell count was in range, but on the low side, as were my hemoglobin, iron, ferritin, and pretty much anything else that had to do with those readings.  I've known for a while I was on the low side, hence why I started supplementing around blood donations after I almost got denied once.  Lately I've been doing one pill every other day since we had Carter's stash left, but apparently that's not really sufficient either.  Interestingly, seeing my borderline low ferritin was a bit comforting since that's been Carter's oddball medical issue, dating back to his sleep study, so it makes me think that it's just a weird genetic thing for both of us, as the odds of that seem greater than undiscovered internal bleeding times two.  It's still a little weird and totally doesn't explain the bruising, so I guess both of those will end up in the medical mystery bin.  My doctor was fine with everything she saw but suggested supplementing or "eating some spinach."

Admittedly, I had myself sufficiently freaked out on Tuesday night.  When every sort of Google search sort of leads back to the same spot, and that spot isn't particularly encouraging, you start to wonder if your number is up.  I mean, it's easy to think that you'll be fine and like most other medical things we overthink, it'll be nothing.  But sometimes that's just not the case, and who's to say it couldn't be me getting an all-too-young cancer diagnosis?  Some people don't have other symptoms before they get some sort of tragic diagnosis, and I could absolutely have been one of them.  There's no magic spell to guarantee it wouldn't be me, at least.  It's scary.  As a parent I think you think about that stuff even more, because when you can barely keep it together with two healthy parents, what happens when one goes down?  Craig can barely cook, and our eating out options are very limited, so what would we do if I couldn't cook?  How would he survive if all of the parental responsibilities were on him?  How would we pay for private school next year if all available money ended up with medical bills?  Would I feel stupid for the (very cheap) things I picked up on clearance at Kohl's (or the many shoes I stashed away from the Payless liquidation) when I'm suddenly ill and wearing nothing but a hospital gown or pajamas?  I had all sorts of very real scenarios pop into my head that night, probably more clearly than they ever have.  It was sobering.  And I honestly don't think it was unreasonable to have those thoughts when I had completely unexplained, major bruising without a clear cause.  Something happened, and nothing else was explaining it, so the "crazy" stuff didn't really seem too crazy at that point.  No crazier than anything else, anyway.  It definitely makes you examine your mortality and consider what the world might look like without you growing old in it.  I know that's probably a little crazy-ish and morbid, but this was a very real scare for me.

But, the good news is that everything seems fine.  The bruises are fading pretty rapidly, so at least I'm not totally disgusted every time I visit the restroom now.  It's definitely a weight off my shoulders, though without a real explanation it's still nagging a bit.  I feel like I have to regain trust in my own body.  You think you know it, and then it goes and does something weird.  Particularly when there's no reason for it, you find yourself a bit skeptical about doing anything for fear it will trigger it again.  Could my hard run on Sunday have somehow done this?  Will another hard run do it again?  Am I allergic to something or was it some sort of odd, vicious bug?  If I go outside will it happen again?  Until you essentially work through all of those scenarios, you're always going to wonder a bit.  And that's where I am now.  Will the "near-death" mindset give me life-changing new perspective?  I don't know--maybe for fleeting moments until the usual "hard" stuff kicks in again.  It's hard to let your brain stay in that space without hardcore anxiety kicking in, so it's best to let it go when you can.  I'm grateful that my life didn't change in one weird 48-hour period, but pardon me for still being nervous.  So, on we go.  I'm enjoying a day off today (to make up for my 15-hour day last week), and while I probably won't get much physical rest, I'll take the mental break!  Happy Early Mother's Day to me!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Mama's Moments of Zen

Sometimes when you're a mom, you need to sneak moments for you when you can.  They can seem really insignificant, but sometimes they're just enough to keep you going and help you feel like "you". No matter how random, sometimes you just have to do it.

Last week I worked a 15-hour day for our big Day of Giving.  It was a very long day--a good one, mind you--but LONG.  It went relatively quickly, fortunately, but it took me (and all my co-workers) days to recover.  It was actually a pleasant day outside aside from some intense rain showers from time to time, and we could merely just watch from a conference room table.  But then...a fire drill!


Feeling the pleasant day outside, even just for a moment, was blissful.  So I took a picture to remember just how lovely that moment was.  Back inside, at one point I needed a mental break and snuggled our little mascot for the day, Groundboi.

He's a stuffed version of a campus-favorite groundhog who has an entire marketing plan centered around him...so snuggly!
 After one of the rainstorms, we happened to see this...
A rainbow!
It was cool that it looked like the rainbow was ending on campus, since we were raising money all day and creating our own "pot of gold"!

On Monday we finally had a truly gorgeous day!  It was in the 70s and sunny.  I knew rain and cooler weather was coming so after work I ran over to Highland Park, home of the Lilac Festival, to check out the Tulip Garden.  I love tulips but they're so short lived!  I was nervous about missing them, so I desperately wanted to take a few minutes to see them.  It was well worth the stop, even if I was only there less than 10 minutes!





I was sort of bemused by the two "oopsies" on the corner of this bed of yellow tulips!

I had a friend post a picture of tulips like this in their yard, but I'm not sure I'd ever seen them in person!

Tulips for days!





They were truly stunning!  Even though it was a quick stop, I was very happy I did it.  The sight of those pretty flowers (and how much I've enjoyed these pics in the subsequent days) was well worth the extra few minutes it tacked on to my commute.  Maybe if I'm lucky I'll get another chance to see more, if the weather decides to cooperate at any point in the next week!

So, anyway, just a reminder for moms (and busy-non moms) that taking a few minutes for yourself, no matter how random, silly, or speedy, is a great thing.  Who can't use a little extra beauty (and fun) in their life?