Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I slept with Justin Bieber aka Yoga Retreat aka Girls Weekend

Last weekend was the second annual girls weekend with my high school friends, Joanna and Susannah. Last year we went to Bayfield in November and planned to get together in January this year, but we couldn't seem to get our dates coordinated until now. Since we had such a hard time finding a date it was probably good that we decided to stay at Susannah's house in Duluth because if we had to decide on renting a place we might not have gotten together until June.

Joanna lives about 5 minutes from me so we drove up to Duluth together on Friday. Joanna is notorious for getting lost, but this year she had her Garmin so she was brave enough to drive. No getting lost!

We arrived in Duluth around 8:00 pm and headed off to dinner with Susannah and her friend, Lori, We dined at At Sara's Table Chester Creek Cafe, a farm to table restaurant with a cozy atmosphere and walls covered with book shelves. As usual we talked so much that we stayed an hour past closing time (and probably would have stayed longer if we weren't gently told they were closed). In our defense, the waitress made it sound like only the kitchen was closing at 9 pm. At any rate, the food was fabulous as was the desert and the company. We had a great conversation and realized that we all have a lot of interesting things happening in our lives right now.

We went back to Susannah's and stay up past 1:00 am - something my body is so not used to, but it was worth it for the conversation and the laughs. These ladies make me laugh like no one else.

I headed off to my suite for the weekend - a room normally occupied by Susannah's 9 year old daughter. I was surrounded by Justin Bieber, Selena and some Harry guy who has pretty awesome hair. And Joanna, got to sleep in the sports suite (Susannah's 11 year old son's room).

I'm fairly sure that we all woke earlier than we hoped too the next morning. I know I had big dreams of sleeping in, but it didn't really happen. We spent the morning eating and talking and deciding what to do. We had plans to participate in outdoors activities (one out of three ideas accomplished) and practice yoga (Joanna is a yoga instructor who has been learning about yoga therapy, Thai massage, and Ayurveda).

Once we ate we decided to squeeze in a 45 minute session of yoga nidra before we headed out for a hike.I almost made it through the 45 minutes, but must have fallen asleep for a short period of time. Why have I never done this before??? I've done a little of guided relaxation and a breathing exercise along the same line, but I now want to do this every day. All day long. So relaxing!

Once we were rejuvenated by our yoga nidra experience we suited up and walked out the door towards Lester Park for some spring hiking... in a couple feet of snow. What's up with the weather this year? Luckily, it was a nice day in the upper 30's. We kept remarking about how beautiful it was and then would remember that it's spring and should probably be nicer, but I loved being out enjoying the day regardless. 

We came across this hollow tree and decided we all needed to have a picture in it. It probably would have been smart of me to take off my camera pack before getting in, but I still maneuvered in and out and the tree didn't fall over or anything. So all is good.

While Susannah mapped out our hiking path Joanna remarked that she wasn't very good at taking self portraits which led to a whole lotta self portrait taking...

Photo credit Joanna

Photo credit Joanna

From Lester Park we headed across the road to lake Superior and down to Kitchi Gami before heading back through Lester Park to Susannah's house.

Photo credit Joanna

Photo credit Joanna

Photo credit Joanna

Photo credit Joanna

Photo credit Joanna

Did I mention it's spring?

Photo credit Joanna

Photo credit Joanna

Photo credit Joanna

After our hike we did a couple shorter session of yoga nidra. We were like yoga nidra junkies - just one more time, please. We were less successful at staying awake this time after a tiring hike, but it was still quite worth it. We then went grocery shopping as Joanna was going to make us dinner. Pasta with shrimp, lemon, tomatoes, basil, parsley, and garlic and shallots. Because my tummy hates me I couldn't do the garlic and shallots so Joanna was nice enough to make two different batches. How awesome is she?

Susannah is in school and had to finish up a paper so Joanna and I put together dinner while she typed away in the next room.

We tried to not be distracting to Susannah so naturally Joanna and I started taking pictures of Susannah's pets and each other.


Photo credit Joanna

Photo credit Joanna

Chin's down, ladies


Susannah finished her paper just in time for Joanna and I to announce we were going to sleep (sorry Susannah!). 

In the morning, we decided brunch out was in the cards and  headed off to the Duluth Grill which was highly recommended by Susannah.

The Duluth Grill is evidently a popular place to go. We had a bit of a wait, but it was well worth it. I had the duck omelet, hash browns and a gluten free slice of pumpkin spice bread. Nummy.

After breakfast we headed down to Canal Park to walk off our huge breakfasts and spent some time browsing at an art store. Susannah bought some cards with sayings on them and got us each one that reminded her of us. Mine said:

Destiny is no matter of chance.
It is a matter of choice.
It is not a thing to be waited for.
It is a thing to be achieved.
-William Jennings Bryan

It was pretty spot on based on what's going on in my life and my thoughts about religion that I expressed the evening before at dinner. Thanks Susannah!

Once we were back at Susannah's we had just enough time to do some yoga therapy before heading home. Joanna had collected some of our primary and secondary health issues and created a yoga session with moves that would help with those particular issues. For example, one of the moves was good for digestive issues. It was definitely a good work out and I felt it in my legs and shoulders the next day.

We really got lucky this weekend with Joanna being willing to share all her expertise about yoga and Ayurveda. For instance I learned that I am vata deranged. Who knew? And even better she's going to continue practicing with me.

Overall, another successful girl's weekend. I can't wait until next year!

Photo credit Joanna

Monday, March 18, 2013


My husband is notorious for buying Riley something at the store every time he goes with her... which is about once a week. That's a whole other issue really and not something I'll get into in this post, but this post does relate to something he bought for her one day - a couple of cars from the Cars movie: Mater and Holley. Cars is a new phenomena in our house. We now have the movie, a couple books, and are familiar with the characters - Mater being one of her favorites.

My daughter is at that age where she has really started to embrace her imagination. I see her playing with toys in such a creative way and am glad that she can now entertain herself more than she has in the past, but she still needs us to entertain her or be her playmates a fair amount of the time. I often don't mind, but it can also be so exhausting.

From the moment she got home with her new cars she has asked us to 'play Mater'. It's a tiring endeavor as it has required a lot of physical activity, including crawling around on my knees on the hardwood floor, and pretending to be something I am not - an animated tow truck. My body is not made for that. And I'm not sure my mind is either.

Imagination. I'm no good at it.

I try my hardest by using the best Mater accent I have while my husband laughs at me from the other room. I try to think of stuff Mater would say, but after a comment or two I am down to nothing. It's pretty sad.

My husband is better at this than I, but I know it's exhausting for him too. I can't put the imagination type play all on him - partly because he deserves a break, but because I want to be able to play too. I want to have fun with my kid and I want her to think of me as someone she has fun with.

I was talking with a friend recently about this topic and she shared that she's never been good at this even as a kid. Art class was torture for her when she was young, and when she had a child of her own? She struggled through that too. She shared "if someone told me exactly what to do I could do it", but if she had to think of stuff on her own she was totally lost.

I tried Googling for help on this, but no matter how I phrased my search it basically brought me to articles about how to help my child be more creative. And in those articles it said to 'play pretend' with your child, but not HOW to do so.

I've always thought of myself as a somewhat creative person. I have no problem with coming up with art projects (even if the internet is often the inspiration), but I was never an 'actor' so to speak. I've had friends go to improve classes to bring this side out of them, but let's face it - there is a slim chance that I will do that.

Mater and Holley with a bunch of my brother's cars from when he was a kid... and a transformer car that Riley thinks is Lighting McQueen.

So I am trying to embrace my creative side (as small as it is sometimes) as best I can, but in the end I realize that what my kid cares about is if I will "play Mater" or not. It's not so much about how imaginative I am after all. I mean, I once said (as Mater, of course) "I like your tires", and now she says it all the time. She doesn't care that it's a totally lame comment. She just loves that I'm there... playing with her. And I do too.

Now if I could just perfect my Mater accent so my husband stops laughing at me.

Does anyone else struggle with pretend play? What do you do to embrace this time with your kid?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Come on spring and other random things...

Dear spring, please come soon. I am tired of winter and tired of all the yucky things that have happened lately. I'm just over it all and can't wait for the days of birds chirping, being able to walk outside without having to totally bundle up, feeling the sun on my face as opposed to viewing it from inside the house... just all those wonderful spring like things you can bring. I'll be anxiously waiting for you.

Speaking of yucky things, I thought I'd provide an update for those that read about my dad's emergency room visit - he's fine. Or, at least they couldn't figure out what the issue was. They are going to keep an eye on his pacemaker - something they do regardless of his chest pain. My dad thought the pain might be from shoveling and I hope he's right. I've suggested we have his neighbor plow, but he's always poo poo'd that one, but maybe next year he will consider it. If not, I might have to enact Operation Steal My Dad's Shovels and Snow-blower and Pay the Neighbor Behind his Back. My dad can be a stubborn one.

My family also had a terrible loss this past week when my cousin's Cessna plane went down in Wyoming. My cousin owned an aviation company in California and years ago was even a part of a search and rescue team for the USAF. He was on his way to see his dad in Wyoming (my uncle) when his plane went down in a canyon. It appeared that he survived the crash, but not the three days it took to find him. So tragic. I wasn't very close to him as we had quite an age difference and he always lived far away from me, but obviously it was still such a sad thing to find out. He will certainly be missed.

I've also been sick for over a week and am finally feeling like I am no longer in a fog. I can't wait for healthier days once we aren't always cooped up inside. It seems like Riley has had one continual runny nose since winter started and that appears to have finally stopped. Surely a good sign!

Ok, on to more positive news. We finally got Riley in for her 3 year wellness appointment at the end of February. I actually had it scheduled a couple days after her birthday (cause I like her stats to be as close to her birthday as possible) and was slightly crushed when the doctor office called to cancel. I had to deal with my accuracy issues and move forward on this one.

While taking Riley to the doctor to make sure she is healthy and developmentally on track is obviously an important reason to go what I really what to know is what percentage does her height and weight fall into. I mean seriously, aren't we all curious about this with our kids? So far she has consistently been tall (90th percentile) and skinny (15 - 25th percentile ) for her age. I assumed there would be a time that she'd probably average out with the height as I come from a family of fairly average heighted people and Jesse comes from a family of shorties.

We're those parents who let our kid put her grubby finger prints all over the windows

Well, it turns out her height has fallen into the more normal range as has her weight. I'm not sure the height is quite correct as it was hard to get her to stand in the right spot and when I measured her at home a week later she was a good half inch or more taller than the measurement at the doctor's office. Whatever, she's still taller than other three year olds we know (which isn't saying much as we don't really know that many kids her age).

At any rate here are the details:

Height: 37 3/4 inches (59%)
Weight: 31 lbs (52%)

I think the doctor was saying "your kid just amazes me" or something like that... I'm sure. :)

So the doctor appointment went well overall. We had a moment where the doctor was testing Riley on her colors, but Riley froze up and internally both Jesse and I were like "you KNOW this one, kid", but then she pulled through and rocked the rest of the questions. Phew.

And in the end what's most important is that she is healthy and on track... Now we just have to take care of those teeth

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stories from the dentist's chair

We waited until Riley turned three to take her to the dentist. It was the advice we received from dentists and other parents even though all those books suggested taking her in when she was one. I sort of regret the decision to wait although I don't know that it would have made a difference. Point being... kid has bad teeth. As in lots of cavities and issues with her enamel... or lack of it. She's three! How the heck did this happen?

Superstar patient

I have bad teeth and am not the first in my family to have issues with teeth (and I'm not the one with the worst issues, either). When I was young I remember my dad exclaiming to the dentist "I don't understand, she brushes her teeth regularly" when he discovered my mouth was full of cavities. I went on to have a retainer, then braces, and a retainer again. I've had 13 teeth pulled and the teeth that sit on each side of my upper front teeth used to sit behind them.

I'll let you think about that one for a moment.

When I was younger I didn't have any context as to why my teeth might be so bad since, as an adopted person, I didn't have any history on my biological family. But when I was 20 something I sent away for non-identifying information from my adoption agency. The one and only health type issue listed on there? My birth mother had bad teeth.

It all made sense.

Not even willing to show my teeth.
Yikes! The horror! I don't even remember them being that bad. PS. closest I ever got to Farrah Fawcet hair.
Braces and '80's style at it's finest.
The finished product!

I've always been pretty diligent about taking care of my teeth, but even more so as an adult. I brush three times a day and floss several times a week (ok, I could be better on that front). I haven't had a cavity since I was a child, my teeth are fairly straight, and I receive good reports from the dentist when I go.

Hearing that my daughter had such awful teeth shouldn't have been totally surprising to me, but I was crushed. I felt like it was a reflection on my parenting. Should I have worked harder to clean her teeth? What about those times I put her to bed as an infant after nursing and didn't clean her teeth again? What could I have done better knowing what I know about my teeth?

But it turns out that while genetics could have something to do with it (and perhaps the way we clean her teeth) the culprit might be something else. Some kid's teeth development are impacted by being sick and taking medication. The dentist suggested that it was likely the cause of the issues, but we can't be for sure. I tried to find some information about this on the web, but really didn't find anything. All the articles talked about the regular culprits of tooth decay and we fell guilty to some (often giving filtered water to her instead of tap water), but not others (she rarely has had juice and never pop). But when I talked to another mom about this she confirmed that her son lacked enamel when he was Riley's age and was told it was because of antibiotics. Huh.

Did I miss this information somewhere?

I'm not sure it would have changed my decision to give my child medication had I known, but I feel like I totally missed something along the way. Regardless, it makes me sad that we got this kind of report on Riley's teeth and that she might be in pain (although she never indicates it). And it makes me sad that I couldn't be at the appointment with her (thanks to her daddy who took her).

The upside was that grandma is a dental hygienist so going to the dentist wasn't as scary as it might have been. I heard Riley was a cooperative patient and she was quite excited about the special gifts she was able to bring home. Who knew that a new tooth brush and floss could be so exciting to a kid.

Next up is the follow up appointment. They are going to try and fill all cavities on one visit and will likely need to give her gas (something I absolutely hate). This time I will try my darndest to get out of work to be there. I may not be able to make her teeth all better, but I can at least support her while she gets them fixed.