Thursday, February 15, 2018

I'm still here

The other night Rich asked me if I was no longer blogging.  "I haven't had time!" I exclaimed.  I don't know what's going on but I blink and the day is gone.  How does that happen?  I remember days, as a child and as an adult, when time would stretch on seemingly forever.  I had to find things to do.  Now, I have a rough idea of how I'd like to spend my day but at the end, I'm usually left with a to-do list that carries over to the next day and then the day after that.  This past week has been filled with tax returns, school activities, a work dinner, investigating a potential business venture and our first big sickness of the school year.

The girls have been in good health this school year and for that I am extremely thankful.  Up until last week, no one had missed school (except Anna - a half day for a urology appointment.)  When I picked the girls up from school last Thursday, Allie told me she had a sore throat, which was making her tummy hurt.  I took her temperature right when we walked in the door and she did not have a fever.  Not even close.  She was eating normally but she looked sick across the eyes.  I assumed the sore throat was sinus drainage and that she was coming down with a cold.  Our part of Massachusetts is in the red zone for the flu, a fact which creates anxiety for me if I really think about it.

Allie stayed home from school on Friday.  She was still fever-free but definitely sick.  She then threw up for two hours in the middle of the day.  Stomach virus?  But then she said she was okay at dinnertime and lamented over her inability to eat pizza.  I was so focused on the flu and watching her for symptoms that strep throat didn't pop into my head until very early Saturday morning.  Specifically when I was awake from 4:00 to 6:00 with her.  I called the pediatrician's office right when they opened, brought her in and bingo, strep throat.  I was totally patting myself on the back for that one.  She never had a fever and strep throat was not on anyone's radar because we are all so focused on the flu.

Fortunately, the strep infection did not spread to anyone else.  There's so much sickness going around, I just want to get to vacation week.  Hopefully, with everyone out of school, germs will stop spreading.

Yesterday morning, I received a phone call from the school.  I had only been home from drop off for about five minutes or so and my first thought was that Anna carrying all of her Valentine's Day goodies had fallen down.  Nope (thank god!)  It was the health teacher.  Apparently, last week Allie's class discussed what made them feel sad or anxious at school.  One girl said that she sometimes felt left out in group situations.  Somehow the health teacher asked Allie if she would ask her classmate to sit with her at lunch.  Allie told me how no one is alone at lunch and this particular girl has a group she sits with.  She thinks the comment was in reference to group projects in class, which are plentiful this year.  Regardless, Allie reached out and offered a spot at her table for lunch and the health teacher was calling to praise her actions and how she handled the situation with maturity.

This isn't the first time a teacher has commented on the girls' inclusion of others.  I know I'm not a perfect mom and there are days I question my parenting, but when stuff like this happens, I know I've done something right.  

I hope to catch up during "vacation" next week.  We really don't have much planned aside from a few play dates and an adult gambling day.  I need to finalize our Disney schedule so I can be ready to book dining when we reach the 180 day mark, a date I keep forgetting.  I also have a huge list of sewing projects.  Tax returns first though.  :)        

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Life Lately

Winter in New England

2.7a

Snow is falling upon us once again.  This will be our third "storm" since the almost blizzard at the beginning of January.  I'm not sure how much we're going to get as we always seem to sit on one of those line between total snowfall predictions and if the storm shifts, which is inevitable, our total snowfall changes.  Sleet and/or freezing rain is expected later as well with this one.

School today continues as usual because, as I say to the girls, "we live in New England."  The last storm we had was forecasted to drop less than two inches of snow in our area.  At five o'clock that morning, we received an automated call from the school system announcing a two hour delay.  The storm  must shifted.  We ended up with about six inches.  Yes, quite a shift.  The snow was wrapping up when I dropped the girls off at school and the main roads were mostly clear.  The back roads were still in rough shape.  The girls were concerned I wouldn't be able to pick them up from school.  "Stop worrying.  I grew up in New England."

2.7b

2.7c

This is always a tough time of the year for me.  I don't particularly enjoy winter and as soon as I can (which realistically won't be very soon) I'll be spending winter months in Florida with the rest of the snowbirds.  Monday morning, for a few seconds, it felt like spring.  I looked out the kitchen window and the sun felt brighter than normal.  Emily last night at 4:45 commented, "Wow, it's still light out."  How sad is that?

2.7d

The Periodontist

You guys know that I have a top front tooth that's an implant.  I've had it for about 20 years now and it's been fine except for the gums.  A gum graft was done when the implant was put in place but the graft never really took.  The gum in front has receded so much so that my dentist was concerned.  Thankfully, it's well above my smile line so I'm the only one who can see it.  For the past four years, whenever I went in to have my teeth cleaned, I was told to make a consult appointment with their affiliated periodontist.  I never would make that appointment though.  For many reasons.  I can point to my anxiety and then there's the fact that my implant felt absolutely fine to me,  I was also concerned that I would be pushed into getting work done for cosmetic reasons.  And the pain.  The thought of future pain.  This implant was as result of trauma (bicycle accident) and I suffered through so much painful dental work, I never want to deal with it again.

When I had my teeth cleaned over the summer, my dentist was visibly annoyed (I should add in here that I LOVE my dentist) over the fact that I still had not made an appointment with the periodontist.  So I waited a few months and made an appointment.  I struggled with anxiety a few days before the appointment but that morning I was finally ready to get it over with.  And wouldn't you know that when stepped out of the shower, they called me to reschedule due to a death in the family.  (I couldn't by upset over it considering the circumstances.)

So I finally made it to the rescheduled appointment and to my shock, he does not recommend any gum work at this time.  Because it's a front tooth, he said that they may actually make the gum area between my two front teeth worse by trying to fix the area on top of the tooth.  He also showed me how to read an x-ray and pointed out the location of the bone.  It's pretty low, which is awesome.  He said if it's that way after 20 years, I shouldn't have a problem.  The bone structure was also a concern for my dentist.  When the implant was placed, a bone graft was also done, in addition to the gum graft.  More pain.  That appears to have worked out well, as opposed to the gum graft.

I am so happy to not have to deal with any dental work in the near future.

Sewing  

I have a long list of sewing projects, some requested, some my own ideas.  Before Christmas, Allie had asked for a holiday skirt.  This one was a little tricky because she didn't want a twirl skirt.  I had sewn a small, straight skirt for her before and found that it wasn't the best for winter months.  The fabric was so lightweight that it bunched up against her leggings or tights and didn't really hang right.  I decided to experiment and lined this skirt with minky fabric which made it heavier and warmer.

2.7e

2.7f

I also finally made Emily's library bag.  I have a list of other bags to make as well.

2.7g

Tap Class

Okay, so I've only been to two classes so far but I love it.  There were two older women in class last week who hadn't been there during my first class.  Apparently, they skipped a month or two.  Anyway, at the end of class, one of them asked if I was new and then said, "Oh, good.  Now we won't feel so bad."  Well, you may not but now I do.  In all seriousness, I think I'm doing well.  It's only my second dance class ever in my life.  (Forget that I was a cheerleader and we choreographed our own dances.)  And I looked around last week during class at what everyone else was doing and I didn't feel so bad!  
 
Glasses

One down, two to go.

2.7h

We knew this day was coming but it really isn't a big deal.  She only needs to wear them to see the board at school right now.  If the girls follow in my footsteps, which it appears they will, then glasses (or contacts) will be needed more frequently.  Better to know now than to pass the written exam for your learner's permit and then fail the eye exam.  No permit for you!

Monday, February 5, 2018

January Book Review

Well, January turned out to be a good reading month.  It usually is due to the weather.  I managed to get through a total of six books.  The first three were bestsellers and award winners in 2017.  It was a good way to kick off my reading this year.




I kept seeing this book pop up but when I read what it was about, I wasn't completely interested.  It had to be great though or it wouldn't be a bestseller and on all these lists.  Right?  So, yes, I can confirm that this book deserves all the praise it's received.  If you haven't read this, I highly recommend it.  It is extremely well-written.

Even though this is fiction, I learned a great deal about Korea and Koreans living in Japan.  I always think of it as a bonus when I learn something when reading fiction.




Another bestseller.  Again, extremely well-written with excellent character development.  There is something in the plot that, from reading the ratings, not everyone is a fan of.  My advice is to just go with it.  The author does an excellent job of tying it all together.




I try to avoid reading anything in the fantasy genre because I know that I'll automatically find fault, but this one was listed on several "best book of" roundups for 2017 so I gave it a go.  As suspected, I had trouble getting past parts of the book but the writing was so good, I never felt like giving up on it.  It's not a dense book and it will make you think.  




Little Fires Everywhere is on my ever-expanding reading wish list.  In the meantime, a mom at dance lent me this book.  I thought it was incredible.  Not only is the writing amazing but the book is just so deep and full of emotion.  There's so much in here, from cultural differences to how the roles of women have changed.  The author does an outstanding job of pulling the reader in.




This book is new (published in January 2018) and if you enjoy reading suspenseful page-turners, I highly recommend it.  It's one of those books you'll have trouble putting down.  Am I the only one who tells myself just one more chapter?  Never happens.  That one chapter inevitably turns into five.  There are some good twists here that I definitely didn't see coming.  I found myself saying, "Well played," several times throughout the book.




My last book of the month was a heavy one.  The author is also the creator (and writer) of the HBO series The Wire.  He took a leave from his role as a journalist with a local paper and followed the detectives of Baltimore's Homicide Unit for a year (1988.)  Nothing is held back here.  At times, this was difficult to read due to the horrific details but it was such a fascinating book.  I also felt like I learned a ton, which was not the point in reading it but I like when entertainment is educational.

---

I was going to read The Perfect Nanny but then I stumbled upon what I thought was a spoiler (without the alert, I might add) and I lost interest.  That's all I'm going to say so I'm not the one giving anything away.  Has anyone read it?



Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  TGUH is a participant in the Amazon Services Associates Program LLC, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Monthly Running Recap - January

Included in my personal goals for 2018 are two specific goals related to running.  December was not a good running month for me because I came down with a cough and a cold that both dragged on for more than two weeks.  When I'm sick, especially with a cough, I can't run.  I won't even attempt it.  I ran once the week before Christmas and then a few times the week after Christmas.  It felt like I had lost most of the endurance I had built up before running that Stuffed Turkey 5k.

For January, I wanted to get my body used to running three to four times a week again.  To avoid injury and to ease back into it, I decided to avoid speed work.  I can tell you that running 3 miles now is a lot easier than it was at the beginning of January.  And that's a really good thing!

Unfortunately, because of the weather, every run except for one was inside on the treadmill.  Our treadmill is not calibrated which means that whatever speed the treadmill says I'm running is not the real speed.  For example, six miles per hour on our treadmill is practically a sprint for me.  Six miles an hour is a 10 minute mile which I can run outside without sprinting.  So I can't say exactly how fast I've been running on the treadmill but I'd say it's faster than an 11 minute mile.  (I hope.)

I did run once outside about week after the blizzard at the beginning of the month.  It was supposed to warm up to the high 50s but rain was coming with that.  When I went out, it was 51 degrees.  Still a little too cold for my liking but I went with it.  Some of the roads I have to run on do not have sidewalks or, in the winter, those sidewalks are covered in ice.  I drove to the nearby recreational path because I had read online that it had been plowed and was down the pavement.  So, yes, that was true for some parts of the path but most of it was still covered in ice.  So much so that I had to stop running and walk in order to avoid wiping out.  There was another runner ahead of me and he had to keep stopping as well so I didn't feel so bad.  I covered 2.5 miles in 28:54 which I was initially bummed about but I had to stop and walk around 12 times so who knows how fast I was running.

I ran a total of 40.5 miles in January.  Below is break out of what I ran and when.  For February, I plan to start incorporating some speed work while slowly bumping up my mileage.  


1/02 - 2.5 miles
1/04 - 2.75 miles
1/06 - 2.75 miles
1/08 - 2.5 miles
1/10 - 3 miles
1/12 - 2.5 miles - 28:54 (icy)
1/15 - 2.25 miles
1/17 - 2.75 miles
1/19 - 2.5 miles
1/21 - 3 miles
1/23 - 3 miles
1/25 - 3 miles
1/27 - 2.5 miles
1/29 - 3 miles
1/31 - 2.5 miles

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What do you really need to pack for Disney World?

With so many packing lists out there, how do you decide what you really need to pack for a Disney vacation?  We've vacationed at Disney World 5 times now so I feel that I'm justified in calling myself a semi-expert.  Here's the thing - Disney is not in some remote location.  There are stores everywhere and you can pretty much buy anything you need.  But if you bring certain items with you, you'll save money and time.    

So what do you REALLY need?

Two pairs of comfortable shoes for each person
  When packing for vacation, I follow the 3 pairs of shoes rule.  This rule states that any person should not need more than 3 pairs of shoes during a vacation.  So, for Disney, I used to pack a pair of sneakers, a pair of sandals and a pair of flip flops.  The sneakers were obviously for wearing to the parks.  I would wear the flip flops to the pool, and the sandals around the resort.  During our 4th trip, it poured rain all day, every day but one.  My sneakers were sopping wet despite trying to dry them with a hairdryer so I decided to wear my flip flops to the park.  Big mistake.  It was the end of September and I had been comfortably wearing flip flops all summer.  My feet will be fine.  I learned the hard way that there's a big difference between wearing flip flops all summer and spending an entire day walking 8 miles in flip flops.

You may get lucky and not see any rain during your vacation, but this is Florida and you'll be spending a good deal of time outside.  I would plan on rain at some point.  That being said, you can avoid the whole wet shoe issue by packing 2 pairs of comfortable walking shoes for each person.  Don't forgot about the kids.  They need to be comfortable too.  When I say "pack" here, I don't mean bring extra shoes to the parks with you.  Leave them in your hotel room.

I also would not suggest buying new shoes for Disney.  You're going to want them to be broken in before you spend the day walking 8 miles in them.

Rain ponchos
  Yes, you can easily purchase rain ponchos in any Disney store in a park or a resort but it will cost you more money.  Also, once it starts raining, it's much more convenient to actually have the ponchos on hand.  If the forecast doesn't show rain, we leave these in the resort room.  Unless it's that time of year when it seems to rain almost every single day.

Sunglasses and sunscreen
  Convenience and cost.

Water bottles/sippy cups
  Yes, you can bring your own food into the parks.  (No glass or coolers, except for small, soft ones.)

When the girls were really little, we brought empty sippy cups with us to the parks.  They are big milk drinkers but the parks sell these large containers of milk at the quick service restaurants.  By having our own sippy cups on hand, we could easily split up the milk.

Buying bottles of water can quickly add up.  Did you know you can ask for free tap water at quick service restaurants?  
 
Snacks
  Because kids need to eat approximately every 90 minutes.

Rain cover for stroller
  If you're using a stroller, it helps to have something to keep the stroller seats from getting wet in the rain.  Most stroller parking is uncovered so if there is rain, expect wet strollers.  A large garbage bag helps.  Or you can place a smaller plastic bag on the seat if it's wet.

Phone chargers
  I've never actually needed to charge my phone at the parks.  When we're there, I really only use my phone for reservations and to check wait times.  I know this is not the norm though.  If you do rely on portable chargers, check out FuelRods.  (Google it - I've never used it so I can't comment.)  It may be more expensive than bringing your own but some park-goers rave about it.

Other/Personal
  Obviously, we all have other items we feel are necessary but I find those vary by person.  Hand sanitizer? Autograph books and pen? Camera equipment?  Two of my personal must haves are hand lotion and lip balm.  Every bag I own is stocked with both.  Keep in mind for the above list that I tend to be a light packer.  I know some people bring anything and everything they could possibly need.  My goal is to keep those bags light.