January 30, 2010

Back on the Running Bandwagon!

Once again I'm back on the running bandwagon.

I've been running, on and off, since 1998. Before then, I never ran. Not for pleasure, that is. I have a long history of non-athleticism. Never played a sport, team or solo. As a child, I was never encouraged to, and as a teenager and young adult, I never felt a draw to do so. Starting my senior year in high school, I joined a gym (and have been a member of one pretty much ever since) and enjoy going and lifting weights, etc (although that, too, is off and on!) but I don't consider going to the gym a sport. I would NEVER have considered running...in fact, my running was such a joke that as a child my father would have me run ahead of the family so that they could laugh at my form!

In 1998 I started to jog, and signed up to do my first race, a 5K. In the years following that first race, I did countless races...mostly 5Ks, but a smattering of 8Ks, 10Ks, a half-marathon, and in 2003 I ran and completed my first full marathon (the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon). It took me forever....I am not really a "runner", you see, I'm more of a jogger/walker....but I did it and was really proud.
After the marathon, I got pregnant with D, and stopped running. And save for a few runs here and there, I haven't done much since.

This year I decided to change that. I have a lot of reasons for doing so: I have a long history of heart disease on BOTH sides of my family, I was recently diagnosed with osteopenia (bone density loss), and while I am at my ideal weight and clothing size, I am almost 40 and know that weight can creep on if I don't watch it. So running (ok, jogging/walking!) is the answer to all of these issues: it helps keep me heart healthy, gives me the weight-bearing exercise I need to jostle my bone cells, and it has the aerobic activity to keep my weight great.

I do best with a goal in mind, so in the fall I signed up for a local half-marathon. I even got my step-mother to sign up with me! However, soon after starting to train, I broke a toe, and was in a walking boot for 2 months. A few weeks after I got the go-ahead to train again, I sprained the ankle in the other foot. I needed to drop out of the race, as there was no way I'd have time to train safely for it. I was bummed, and especially sad as I saw the finishers at the race (I went to meet my step-mother at the finish line).

We are signed up to do another half-marathon, this time in August (my step-mother is coming out again to do it, too!). I have almost 7 months to train. I know I can do this, if I keep myself from being injured again. I bought new shoes today (the ones I had before, while new, were apparently not the appropriate ones for my high arched and pronating left foot!) and am ready to train.

Running gives me a lot. First of all, I feel so virtuous doing it (I'm heart healthy! I'm bone healthy!). Second, I love the adrenaline rush that kicks in after a few miles; it feels goooood! Third, I love how I feel AFTER the run (even if it's not the best run ever, I always feel good and proud of myself). And lastly, I love the alone time, the time to think, listen to music, observe the environment around me.

Here's hoping that I remain injury-free (fingers and toes are crossed!) and I look forward to reporting on some great runs and training.

January 27, 2010

A laundry post

One of the best feelings in the world is having all the laundry done. Washed, folded, put away. It feels good not only to have nothing piled up, but have 100% of my clothing choices available. I hate wanting to wear a certain shirt, or favorite pair of jeans, only to find that they are still in the dirty laundry pile.

I can easily do a load of laundry a day. I just did laundry yesterday (2 loads) and, literally 12 hours later, have enough to do another load if I wanted to (that's what happens with four people...you get each person's clothes from the day before, plus pajamas, and there is enough for a load!) And if I am short on clothes to wash, there are always towels, bathmats, sheets....the list goes on.

I really don't mind doing laundry. Sometimes it gets old; don't get me wrong. But when I get sick of it, I think of how lucky my family is to have so many clothes! There are so many people in the world who have 1-2 outfits (if that!) and would love to have full closets like we have. We are blessed.

I also think about the old days when I lived in an apartment by myself...there was one washer and dryer in the building, to service 6 units. So, I would either have to snag the laundry room first (and God help me if I didn't get my wet clothes out of the washing machine before another neighbor would come and take them out for me!) or take several load to the laundromat and hang out there for several hours. Either way was a pain, and both ways cost many quarters.

No, I love being able to do laundry...at home, for free (ie no quarters!)...I can leave my clothes in the washer or dryer for a time if I can't get to them immediately.

Simple pleasures. And when I think of my pile of growing laundry as a chore, I remind myself of all of these things, and it DOES become somewhat of a pleasure again.

Now, I'm off to start a load of laundry....

January 23, 2010

My daughter's medical issues

I don't want this blog to be entirely about my miraculous daughter (although believe me, she gives me enough material to do so!) However, I would be remiss if I didn't list her medical issues. I don't know who might be reading this, and for those of you who don't know me personally, you might want to know what we, and our daughter, A, have been dealing with for the last 3 1/2 years.

Keep in mind that I had a healthy pregnancy; nothing showed up on the ultrasound I had; and that I had a planned c-section at 38 weeks. I went in expecting a healthy baby girl, and was in for the shock of my life. She was born in June, 2006. She was in the NICU for almost 12 weeks, then home finally for 7 weeks, then back in the hospital for another 4 weeks while she got her tracheostomy. Amazingly, we have been out of the hospital (in-patient wise) ever since, except for a one day stay when we got her lip repaired.

A's list of medical issues:

1) bilateral cleft lip (repaired February 2007)

2) patent ductus arterious (heart defect) (repaired July 2006)

3) vascular ring (vessel wrapped around her esophagus and trachea) (repaired July 2006)

4) bilateral frontal lobe infarcts (she had a prenatal stroke; amazingly, there seems to be no visible effects from it!!!)

5) bilateral coloboma (gaps in her eyes, on her optic nerve; severely limits vision in her left eye and seems mild vision limits in her right eye)

6) bilateral hearing loss (profoundly deaf in her left ear, mild-to- moderately deaf in her right ear) (aided to normal hearing in her right ear with hearing aids)

7) cochleas in both ears missing a spiral

8) missing all semi-circular canals in both ears (you are supposed to have 3 in each, a total of 6; this affects balance)

9) just a thread of an auditory nerve in her left ear

10) right aortic arch (yes, her aorta arches to the right, not the left!)

11) paralyzed vocal chord

12) tracheomalacia (seems to have resolved)

13) very narrow airway

14) paraesophageal hernia

15) feeding issues at birth leading to placement of a g-tube (feeding tube) in August 2006 (removed July 2010)

16) breathing issues, including a stridor, since birth leading to the placement of a tracheostomy (breathing tube) in November 2006 (tracheostomy removed July 2010)

17) cleft in her upper right gum

18) extra upper tooth (!)

19) low muscle tone

20) acid reflux, leading to a fundoplication (surgery done July 2006 and re-done November 2006)

January 20, 2010

A Natural Beauty

So it seems that my 3 1/2 year old daughter loves to "put on make-up". Every morning when I'm getting myself ready, she comes into the bathroom, pulls out my make-up drawer, and starts to paw through it. Often she'll hold items up and ask "what's this?", so I'm forced to teach her new words like "eyebrow brush" and "make-up sponge".

For her birthday six months ago, we asked my mother to buy her a vanity table. It's adorable---pink and plastic, with a mirror and a light that turns on and off.

We put it in our bedroom with the hopes that while I am getting myself ready, she can be at HER table doing her own thing. I stocked it with Q-Tips, cotton balls, make-up sponges, make-up brushes, fake jewelry, and Lip Smackers Lip Balm. While she plays with it, she much prefers my real stuff. I can't catch the number of times I've caught her with an open Chanel blush compact, putting the powder on her fingers.

The thing is, I don't know where she got her love of make-up from. I used to be a make-up junkie, but certainly since having children I hardly wear it at all. My morning routine is simple: do my skin-care regime (I wash my face in the shower, but A does watch me put on my toner, serum, eye cream and moisturizer while at the counter), brush my teeth, and put on deodorant. Most days I don't put make-up on at all; the days I do it's usually something simple like tinted moisturizer. I save anything more involved (like foundation, blush, etc) for when I go out at night. Heck, I don't even own mascara. So A really doesn't see me fussing with a lot of make-up.

What she DOES see me fussing with is my hair. My hair is naturally wavy, so I either spend time putting mousse and scrunch spray in it to make the waves nice, or I spend time blowing it out and flat-ironing it.

I have mixed feelings about A's love of make-up. On the one hand, it's cute, and probably age-appropriate. Many little girls love this kind of thing. And it's not like I'm letting her wear any; the most I ever put on her is lip balm for her chapped lips.

But, on the other hand, I can't help but hope that this is a passing fancy...I don't want her to grow up to be self-conscious about her looks, to think she has to wear make-up to be pretty. That's how I grew up. There were many time, as a teenager, when my mother would tell me to "put on some blush" or "put on some lipstick"..I felt that I wasn't pretty just on my own. Now, at almost 40 years old, I know better. These days I am confident going out without a stitch of make-up on. But I NEVER want to pass on those issues to my daughter.

She is gorgeous now, at 3, and will be gorgeous at 13. And I hope she will be confident enough in that knowledge to know that lipstick, while fun, can't match her natural beauty.

January 18, 2010


My daughter did something amazing yesterday.

She walked, stopped, stood relatively still for several seconds, pivoted, and then continued walking.

While most parents would not see this as amazing, especially for a 3 1/2 year old child, I do. You see, my daugher, A, JUST started to walk a few months ago. She took her first wobbly steps a few days before her third birthday, and now, six months later, she is getting better and better each day. She is still not a total independent walker, but my God, she is WALKING!

A has two issues that have held her back from walking the way most typical kids do. First of all, she has no semicircular canals. Semicircular canals are little tubes in the inner ears that help control balance. Most people have 3 in each ear, or 6 total. My daughter, according to MRIs, has none. So, she has a severe balance impairment; it is hard for her to know where she is in space. Other systems have to kick in (brain, visual, etc) but since she has some visual impairment as well, her odds have always been stacked against her.

The second issue is that she has low muscle tone, especially in her trunk. We have done extensive therapies with her: physical therapy (she has had physical therapy since her infant days in the NICU!), occupational therapy, adapted P.E., and horse therapy. All are designed to help her strengthen her core. These therapies, in addition to the day-to-day exercises of wrestling with her brother, sliding and swinging at the park, and just living life has helped to build her strength.

A didn't sit up until she was around 9 months old, and didn't crawl until 19 months old. When I say she has gross motor delays, I'm not talking about a girl who didn't walk until she was 18 months, which is what people usually think of when they hear the term "late walker". I mean DELAY!!

She has been walking quite a bit recently (58 steps is her new record!) but still cannot stand on her own independently, like in the middle of a room.

So the sight of my daughter, age 3 1/2, walking and then STANDING ALMOST STILL, turning, and continuing to walk, was amazing.

That girl is my hero.

January 16, 2010


I am absolutely devastated by what is going on in Haiti. I have that same sense of horror and helplessness that I felt (as we all felt) during 9/11, the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina....wanting to help, but unable to. We DID donate to the Red Cross, which I feel good about, but I want to do more.

The news is sickening. Hospitals have collapsed. Can you imagine being a patient in a hospital and being CRUSHED TO DEATH while there? Not to mention that now there are no hospitals for the wounded. Orphanages are destroyed. I read that one orphanage in particular had 1500 children. Dead bodies are being stuffed everywhere. People are going to just disappear...there are no markings, no names, on most of the dead....surviving family members will never know what happened to them, or know where they are buried. Some people have been pulled from the rubble alive, only to die. And many that survived in the first place are now perishing due to lack of water, food, and contagious disease. No one wants to return to whatever houses are still standing, for fear of aftershocks. All these hungry, thirsty, dirty, sick, traumatized and shell-shocked people are sleeping in open fields, without shelter.

These people were so poor before, so needy. Their houses were literally shacks---no wonder they all collapsed. Even the PRESIDENT'S PALACE, the one building you'd think would be better built, was destroyed. I don't know how this country will ever recover. New Orleans is finally starting to recover, years later, although it still has a long way to go....and that is one city. Haiti is an entire country.

I hope that the world, especially the United States, which has so much, will lend a helping hand. Or two.

I think that being a mother makes it more difficult to read such horrendous news. I can't help but speculate how it would be if I were there...if it were MY kids that were trapped and/or killed. It's a dark place I can't even go.

Terrorists and Mother Nature. Which is more deadly?

My very first blog post!

I am venturing into the world of blogging! I have been thinking about blogging for quite a while, but have been scared and overwhelmed.

I am an almost-40 year old stay-at-home mom, living in Southern California. I have been married for 9 years to a wonderful husband, J. Additionally, I have two children: D is 5 and in kindergarten, and A is 3 and in preschool.

I have no idea where this blog might lead me, but some things I might be writing about include parenting issues, dealing with medical diagnoses (my husband has Young-Onset Parkinson's Disease and my daughter has myriad medical issues including some developmental delays, tracheostomy and hearing loss), pop culture, cooking, politics, and just day-to-day life stuff.

My original hope for blogging was to write about a passion; however, since my passions seem to revolve around my children, cooking and reality tv this should be interesting!