Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Wild Hair

You'd think I'd know better by now, but I don't.

I've been feeling rather frumpy lately. Perhaps it's because I still haven't bought myself any new clothes. Perhaps it's because I seem to be afflicted with acne that rivals anything a teenager has. Perhaps it's because I turn cough40cough in two weeks. I feel like I look like the bedraggled mother of four that I am.

So I decided it would be a good idea to color my hair red.

When my husband saw me walk through the with the box of hair dye, he sighed and asked why I just couldn't do something sensible like get another tattoo.

I should know by now that coloring my own hair never goes well. Some sections end up a rich purple, others remain their usual mousy brown.

The good news is that I used temporary hair color, so it will fade out over the next few weeks.

And the next time I get a wild hair like this, I may just get a tattoo instead.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baby Socks

These are my new favorite baby gift. The pattern is based on the Jelly Bean socks from Spud & Chloe, and they are dead easy to knit. I can usually knock out one sock in about two hours, if I could ever manage to sit and knit for two hours straight, that is.

I've knit a total of seven pairs, and these two are my favorites. I had fun playing with the different colors and making them not quite match. These will be shipped off this week to a blog-world friend who just had twins. (And who is too busy to read this blog and have the surprise ruined, I hope.)

Now I have to finish up some other projects I have on the needle, including some yoga socks and some cool patterned socks. Then I might even get brave and cast on a sweater for myself. I have the yarn, pattern and needles waiting for me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

NYC Marathon Training - 19 weeks to go

I'm still not anywhere as far along in my training as I'd like to be, but I'm feeling better about things. Running at the gym, as boring as it may be, really is helping me. Knocking out four miles without a problem reassures me that I am in running shape and that it really is the heat and humidity that are killing me.

  • Tuesday - 4: Loops in the neighborhood with Elizabeth
  • Wednesday - 3ish: at the track with L
  • Friday - 4.25: at the gym. I walked outside to head down to the Trail with the running chicks, felt the humidity, and went straight to the gym
  • Sunday - 3.5: Loops in the neighborhood with Elizabeth
  • Total - 14.75
I'm keeping on, keeping on.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bowling with Lily

I've been looking for some ways to spend some one-on-one time with Lily ever since I got home from four days in Colorado with Ella. While I was gone, Lily came up with an illustrated list of things for us to do together. The list included swimming, horse-back riding, going to a farm, and going to the movies.

On Wednesday, she and I did something that wasn't on her list - we went bowling. Before we left, I asked her if she'd ever bowled before, and she said, "Yes! Wii bowling at E's house!" I laughed and then explained that Wii bowling doesn't count.

Turns out Lily loves bowling and is pretty good at it. She beat me soundly - twice.

Each time she bowled, she'd do a funny little shimmy while waiting for the ball to roll down the lane. And when the pins fell, she'd hop up and down and spin.

It was a nice hour with my girl.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

RIP Mollie-Dog

Mollie-dog has gone to play in the big field in the sky. She died a few weeks ago, back when all the craziness with broken bones and hospital visits was going on, and B's dad didn't have the heart to tell us then. He told B last week, and B told me last night.

She went out to live at B's dad's house last year for her retirement, and even though she's been gone a year, I still miss her. Some mornings I still go to the back door to let her out before remembering that she's not there.

I knew when we sent her off to live with B's dad that she wouldn't last long. In fact, I'm amazed that she lived as long as she did. The arthritis in her hip was getting worse, and she was slowly going blind and deaf.

We haven't told the kids yet. I know that they are going to have a tough time, especially Ella. I'm dreading the eventual conversation.

She had a very long, very good life, and she will be missed greatly. She was a very good dog.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Me, explained

This cartoon, from The New Yorker, explains me perfectly. When I say that I worry about everything, I mean it.

Once, my counselor asked what would happen if he took a magic wand and got rid of everything there was to worry about. My response was, "Well, I'd worry about it." I think he gave up on me at that point.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

NYC Marathon Training - Week Whatever

Not a lot of running this week, but I still feel like I've gotten my running mojo back. I did something this week I never thought I'd ever do - I joined a gym. One of the things I love about running is the simpleness of it - you put on running shoes and walk out the door. So going to a gym and paying to run on a treadmill just seems wrong to me.


I've done it. There's a great gym a mile from the the house that's incredibly cheap - $10 a month - and that is about as bare bones as it gets. It's got dozens of treadmills and good weight equipment. It's brightly lit and clean. It is not fancy. It doesn't have classes or trainers or spa services. It's exactly what I need.

I ran there this week and knocked out 45 minutes without a problem, proving that the problems I'm having with running really are related to the heat and humidity.

  • Monday - 4 miles hiking in Colorado. I know it wasn't running, but I'm still counting the mileage. Ella and I spent more than 2 hours hiking at 7,000 feet. It was as good an aerobic workout as I've had in a long, long time.
  • Thursday - 4.6 miles on the treadmill at the gym.
  • Sunday - 4.3 miles with Elizabeth in the jogger. I've finally allowed myself to embrace walking when I need to instead of beating myself up over it. It was 80 degrees with 100 percent humidity, so I walked when I needed to. I finished the run feeling pretty solid instead of miserable.
Total - 12.9 miles

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just what the doctor ordered

It's not an exaggeration to say that the past few weeks around here have been particularly rough. And after weeks of illness, injury and multiple ER trips, I was about at the end of my rope. I had stopped eating, which is what I do when I'm stressed. I was worn out emotionally, mentally and physically. I spent most of last week counting down the days until Ella and I left for Colorado, trying not to worry about leaving the little three with B, who is still on crutches AND buried in work.

The trip was just what I needed to pull myself back together. Traveling with Ella was a breeze. She carried her own backpack at the airport and kept herself entertained on the plane, allowing me to read and knit. Once we were in Colorado, she was laid back and easy going and didn't complain or misbehave. At the comp, she was off doing her own thing with her coach, so I had lots of time to knit and hang out with the other parents.

I ate well the whole time, probably a little too well, and slept like a rock each night. Even though the weather was cool and rainy, it was a treat for me. Given that we are heading into the miserable summer heat and humidity that wears me out, spending four days bundled into jeans and sweatshirts was wonderful. Even running in the cold and rain felt good. It's going to be months before I can do that again.

I came home to a mountain of laundry, sticky floors, and a ton of work, but it all feels manageable. The four days of rest and the change of scenery, not to mention the break from tantrums, squabbles and dirty diapers, did me a world of good.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Colorado state of mind

Ella and I both fell in love with Boulder. She's already decided that she wants to go to The University of Colorado, but I'm not sure I'm OK with that. I told her I was too afraid that she'd be distracted by all the hiking, climbing, biking, kayaking in the area to actually study. She just giggled.

Here are lots of pictures, in no particular order because Blogger always seems to scramble them.

Throughout the whole trip, Ella wanted to take a ski lift to the top of a mountain. We never found a lift, but when we went to Estes Park, we rode the tramway, which Ella said was just as good.

When we turned the corner into Estes Park, and I caught my first glimpse of the "real" Rockies, not the foothills of Boulder, I gasped out loud. The mountains are just breathtaking, and very forbidding looking with the low clouds. I can't imagine being one of the first settlers coming through and being adventurous enough to see what was on the other side.

"Redrum, redrum." The Stanley Hotel was Stephen King's inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. It's not the hotel that was used in the Jack Nicholson movie, but it was used in the mini-series version a few years ago. These days it has a housing development in its back yard, and a view out the front of a strip mall. Not quite as grand a location as in its earlier days.

These are the Flatirons, which loom over Boulder. For most of our trip, it was raining, so we couldn't actually see the mountains. But on our last day, the sun came out, and the view was spectacular. The grey area on the bottom left of the picture is the talus field Ella climbed.

When we reached this talus field, Ella begged and pleaded with me to let her climb it. "This is what I dreamed hiking would be," she said. "Everything else we've done was just walking in mud." I finally gave in and let her go up. If you click to embiggen, she's the little green dot towards the top. I decided to take the path up instead of the rocks.

I found my dream house. It overlooks the Chautauqua meadow and the Flatirons in the front and Boulder in the back. It probably only costs a few million.

We drove up Fulsom Mountain on our last morning. Ella loved that we were above the clouds.

We wanted to go hiking along Boulder Creek, but it was roaring, and the trails by Boulder Falls were closed.

When we left Estes Park on our last day, Ella started crying because she was sure she'd never get to visit Colorado again. I had to promise her that if the gym in Boulder ever hosted another competition, we'd go to it. That satisfied her long enough for me to pack her in to the car and head to Denver. I really do hope the gym gets to host another comp. I'd love to go back. Next time I want to actually venture into Rocky Mountain National Park. We didn't have enough time on this trip to do it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

And the results are . . .

Ella and I got back late last night from our trip to Boulder, and we had such a good time. I have so much to write about, but first things first.

As I've mentioned a few times, Ella is a competitive rock climber, and we went to Boulder for the Division 2 championships. Division 2 includes Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Colorado. To qualify for Divisionals, the climbers had to compete at a Regional comp. Ours was about a month ago.

Ella is in the Youth D division, which is for kids ages 11 and under. Sixteen girls from Division 2 made it to the comp this weekend, meaning they were all pretty dang good. There was a pack of teeny girls from a gym in Boulder who were amazing considering how small they were.

On Saturday, Ella competed in prelims for sport climbing (technical climbing) and for speed climbing (exactly what it sounds like). In sport climbing, the kids had two routes to attempt. Ella was able to complete both of them, and she ended up in a 6-way tie for first, meaning five other girls also completed both routes. She placed 4th for speed. Top ten kids in each even advanced to finals, so Ella easily qualified for Sunday's events.

Sunday morning I was a wreck. The route was unbelievably hard. I sent the below picture to B and my parents to show them what Ella was up against. I told them I wanted to find the route setter and tell him to change it because what he had put up there was way too hard for such little girls.

In case you're wondering, that wall is four stories high. And the dark grey area is indeed an overhang.

The Youth D boys climbed first, so I got to watch how they handled the route. Not one managed to finish it, although two came close. My heart raced each time one fell. Even though the climbers are all in harness and on belay, it's still a bit terrifying to watch them falling through the air until the belayer catches them. It doesn't seem to phase the kids at all.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, Ella finally got to climb. My heart was in my throat the entire time. The scoring is based upon how high a climber gets on the wall and whether she merely touches a hold or gets a secure grip on it. I'd been keeping track of how high the climbers before Ella had gotten, and measured her progress against theirs. She managed to get a solid grip on the holds just above the overhang, which was higher than most of the other climbers. After she climbed, she was allowed to come sit with me and watch the final two girls in her division. After they finished, I knew Ella was at least in the top six, which would qualify her for Nationals in Atlanta next month, which is all I really cared about.

The results were posted an hour later, and when I saw them, I gasped out loud and asked a mom from a Houston team to confirm what I had seen.

Presenting . . .

The Female Youth D Division 2 Sport Climbing Champion.

Holy cow.

After I confirmed that she really had won, I told her coach, who gave me a big bear hug. He then told Ella. Her eyes got huge, and then she gave him that small quiet smile she gets when she's really, really happy about something. I started crying, just a little.

Ella also placed 5th in Speed Climbing, so she'll get to compete at both events next month in Atlanta.

Congratulations Big Girl!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Catching up

Phew, I am so glad last week is over. That had to be one of the longest weeks of my life. I haven't blogged about it, but we had one more ER visit on Thursday, which made five days in a row at the hospital. We had to go in for B. His leg kept cramping so badly he couldn't even stand up. When he called his doc, the doc said to go straight to the ER to have them check for a blood clot. Apparently people who have broken feet and legs are prone to DVT.

Except the doctor neglected to ask one very important question - where was the cramping? B's quad was seizing up. When we got to the Heart Hospital ER the doctor there said that DVT doesn't happen in the thigh, only in the calf. But they ran bloodwork just to make sure we got our $150's worth.

Since then I've been playing catch up with everything and pulling myself together. Those five days wiped me out physically, mentally and emotionally. I'd managed to stay calm and collected during all the drama, but once it was over, I completely collapsed.

I spent most of Thursday and Friday sleeping and working. The little three were off with family members, which was a huge help. Saturday we all flopped around the house and watched cartoons, and Sunday I cleaned and folded laundry. On Monday, Campbell went back to preschool (thank the baby jeebus), and I was able to get a ton of writing done.

Now I'm where I need to be with my work projects, and the house is reasonably clean, so I'm feeling a bit better about the universe.

Plus, I get to go to Boulder, CO on Friday with Ella for a climbing competition. We leave at the crack of dawn and are staying through Monday evening. We'll have lots of time to explore and play when Ella's not climbing.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

NYC Training Week 9

For the third week in a row, my running has been abysmal. But given the week we had - 4 ER trips, 24 hours at Children's Hospital - I guess it's a miracle that I ran at all.

  • Monday - 3.5 with Elizabeth. Held 9 min. miles even though I was pushing the jogger.
  • Friday - 2 miles, solo. Miserable, awful. Walked the last quarter mile
  • Saturday - 3 miles at the Trail. Miserable, awful. Walked/ran the last mile.
The heat and humidity are giving me such problems that I'm thinking of joining a gym, just so I can run on a treadmill indoors once or twice a week. Running outside just isn't working for me, and I'm starting to feel the pressure of the looming race.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Yet another trip to the hospital

Last time I wrote, I had taken Ella to the ER for severe stomach pains and a fever. That morning we went to our regular pediatrician for a follow-up. He said that he didn't think that it was her appendix but told me he'd be on call Wednesday night if she got worse. Which of course she did. I spent 20 minutes on the phone with the doctor, while he had me go through some diagnostic things with her - like having Ella jump up and down, which she wouldn't do. She had also gotten to the point where she wouldn't let me touch her right side.

Off to Dell Children's Medical Center we went, for the second night in a row. Our doctor called ahead to tell them we were coming in the hopes of saving us some waiting time. We got taken back and evaluated pretty quickly. The doctor sent Ella for an abdominal ultrasound in the hopes of definitely ruling out appendicitis. Unfortunately, they couldn't get a clear view of her appendix with the ultrasound, so she had to have a CT scan of her belly.

And this is when I started wanting to punch people.

The ER doc came in and said, "The radiologist called up, and the tip of her appendix is enlarged. So I've called surgery down and started the procedures to admit her." And then she walked out. Ella started sobbing even harder than she already had been, crying that she wanted to go home and go to sleep in her own bed and that she wanted the IV port taken out of her arm.

After a few minutes, the surgery PA came in and told me that she had reviewed the CT scans and that she wasn't convinced that the problem was Ella's appendix. She said it was measuring on the larger side of normal, but that there was no inflammation in the surrounding tissue. She also said that Ella had swollen abdominal lymph nodes on her right side, which was consistent with having a stomach bug. When I asked about the pain and fever, she said that kids with appendicitis are screaming in pain even after having morphine, which is what she would expect Ella to be doing given how long her stomach had been hurting.

The PA told me that they were going to admit Ella for the night and re-check her bloodwork in the morning and see how she was feeling. That was at 11:30pm. We were finally taken to a room at 2:00am. We didn't get settled and to sleep until 3:00 and then nurses came in at 5:00 and 6:00 to get blood samples.

At about 9:00am, the surgeon finally came in to see us and confirmed that the problem was swollen lymph nodes, which can mimic the signs of appendicitis and are one of the most common reasons for kids having to have their appendixes out. Go figure.

He gave us permission to feed Ella breakfast, which brought a smile to her face, and said he'd start the paperwork for getting her discharged. We didn't get to leave the hospital until 2:00pm. Turns out nothing happens quickly when you're in the hospital.

As soon as we got home, Ella crawled into our big bed and slept for four hours straight. I packed up the three little kids and sent them off for the night with B's mother and aunt and then climbed into bed next to Ella.

While we were asleep, B went to an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in feet and found out that the ER doc on Sunday was wrong and his foot is actually broken. B is in an air cast for at least 8 weeks.

I managed to sleep in this morning until 10:30, but I still feel like I've been hit by a bus. Ella is still pretty flat, which the doc said to expect since she does have a GI bug of some sort.

The house is a wreck, I'm behind in my work, and today's the first day of summer break.

I swear, we have a big, black cloud o' doom hanging over our house, and it needs to move on immediately or this is going to be a long, long summer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Another day, another ER visit

Last night I spent another four hours in an emergency room, this time with Ella at the children's Hospital. And, as with her father, we don't have a specific diagnosis.

Ella started complaining on Sunday afternoon, while we were still at the lake, that her stomach hurt. Given that she's the only one in the house who hadn't yet had the stomach bug that's going around, I figured she was on her way to barfing her toes up like the rest of us did.

She woke up yesterday morning still complaining of a stomach ache; at times it was hurting her enough that she was rolled into a ball whimpering. She was also running a fever, which no one else did while sick. Ella slept on and off all day, crying when the pain got bad. I gave her motrin every four hours to control the fever and the pain.

By the evening, she was complaining that it mostly hurt on her right side. I, of course, got on Dr. Google and looked up appendicitis and read that symptoms include fever, stomach pain on the right side, and nausea.

I called the on-call pediatrician and described what was going on. He said the odds were that Ella had a stomach bug, but a different one than we all had. He also said that I wasn't telling him anything would allow him to definitively rule out appendicitis and told me to take her to Dell Children's Hospital.

Anyone who thinks our healthcare system works just fine has obviously never spent time in a public hospital emergency room. The ER waiting area was standing room only with two overflow rooms filled also. I would be willing to bet good money that half the patients there could have avoided the ER trip just with access to regular medical care - like the girl sitting next to us who was there for an abscessed tooth.

After two hours of sitting in the waiting area with Ella lying in my lap crying silently, we finally went back to a private room. The doctor poked around on her belly and decided that her appendix wasn't the problem. He said that given how long she'd been complaining of a stomach ache, he would expect her to be in a lot more pain if her appendix was going bad. They also screened her for a possible kidney or urinary tract infection, both of which came up negative.

Even though he ruled out appendicitis, the doctor couldn't give us a definite diagnosis, other than maybe it's a virus. When he told me to bring her back to the ER this morning for a follow-up check, I nearly sank through the floor. The idea of spending more hours sitting in that waiting room was just too much. Fortunately, he said that I could take her in to our regular doctor instead.

Ella's still in bed, still complaining that her stomach hurts and still running a fever. As soon as our doctor's office opens, I'll be calling to take her in. I hope he can tell us what's wrong instead of what's not.

And I hope it's a long time before I have to go back to an emergency room.