Thursday, March 31, 2016

Project 52 - Easter - Week 13


So my project 52 is becoming more of a recap of what's happening lately and I'm ok with that. I feel like I've been a little too busy to devote too much time to this project, but I've still been snapping pictures each week. This week was all about Easter which we spent at my in-laws this year. 

Well, first we colored eggs on Saturday and Riley drew eggs and bunnies and then hung them all over the walls.  We only colored 5 eggs (that white one fell and is cracked on the underside) and that was plenty. We did a tie dye kit which I would recommend as it created some cool effects.

Forcing Lucy to look at the camera

On Easter morning we decided to hide the eggs in the house since it was wet and rainy outside. I prefer the outside hunt, but I remember all my treats being hid inside the house when I was a kid so there's a bit of nostalgia for me since I lived in the same house when I was her age.

After an excruciating 5 hours (for Riley) we finally headed to her grandparents house where the Easter bunny also hid eggs and provided another basket.

A couple other family members came over and we ate food, watched tv, played games, fixed the computer internet connection... the usual. Over all a good family get together.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Project 52 - Pain - Week12


The ol' body has been out of sorts since the end of January when I did something to my rotator cuff (I think). I've had issues with my left arm and shoulder before, like when it was numb for a couple months a few years back. Boy, that was fun... or not. Since then, this pain creeps in a lot (along with my lower back pain on the right side - it's like they're friends who like to hang out together), but I usually have enough tools in my belt to pull it back into a safe spot.

But there I was in January, feeling all healthy and motivated to work a little more activity into my life. Sure, I get to the gym, but it's only 2 - 3 days a week and the rest of the time I sit in front of a computer all day. So I pulled out the light weights at home and that's about the time I got the treadmill as well. Problem was, I did some exercises that I sort have been avoiding since the last shoulder flare up... and then I moved the heavy treadmill on my own. But what sent me over the top was pulling the car door closed... and that's when I felt a big ol snap. 

From there I had a lot of shots of pain if I tried to raise my left arm. Washing my hair was a challenge as was other everyday activities like getting a glass from the cupboard or putting on a coat. Since I've been through a somewhat similar experience with this arm, I didn't run to the doctor. The last time I had shoulder issues I ended up seeing my favorite physical therapist and she helped me get back into a comfortable spot. She had armed me with tools... that I was mostly working into every week so I thought I'd be able to tackle this one by myself.

My pain mugshot

The pain did get better, but it felt, after almost a couple months, that I should probably have it looked at. I probably should have gone back to my PT, but I would have had to get a referral to see the pain neuro at that office who would then refer her to me. Plus, her office and hours aren't the most convenient. My migraine neuro suggested I see ortho, and I planned to, but I haven't had the best experience with doctors and my chronic myofascial pain so I was hesitant. Finally, I received a suggestion from an online friend with myofascial issues who goes to a PT place by my house so I decided to check it out.

I've had a lot of PT and it's always been one on one so this place really threw me off. I'm not sure if I like it yet - there are some things I really like and other things not so much. Basically, you go from station to station which are manned by different people (and these people may change from visit to visit so you interact with a lot of different people). The first stop is doing a series of small 10 second stretches in front of a laser that apparently has been proven to help your body heal as much as 30% faster. Usually, the next stop is with a PT doing a series of exercises. There are usually 2 - 4 PT's working with about 2 - 4 patients at a time so it's rare when you have a full exercise session all by yourself. They get you started on exercises and never start with a check in or a visual check of how I'm holding my body.

Next up is, um I have no idea what it's called or what it does. Basically, I lie on a table and a PT uses this tappy/vibraty thing to go up and down my spine. It's the one thing I haven't really gotten clarity on yet, but I find it really comforting. Additionally, she take a massage thingy and tries to work out my myofascial in my left shoulder. The woman who usually mans this is considered my primary PT. Then I'm sent over to what I think of as the 'wrapping up' table where they attach electrodes to my upper shoulder/back area, and I lay down on some ice packs on a table that has a roller massage. Plus, the place has some essential oils floating through the air along with some yoga type music to create a soothing experience.

So it's a zen atmosphere compared to previous PT places I've gone and I feel like I've gotten a little of a spa experience when I leave there. However, I don't get the super one on one attention that I felt with my last PT. This place, you go right into the exercises. My last PT would look at me, ask me questions and then determine the next step. I felt like she almost knew my body better than me. These folks? I kinda feel like the apply the same exercises to everyone with some slight adjustments. 

I'm going 3 times a week and will give them at least a month... partly because after one session, where I wasn't feeling good (I knew I was pushing things too hard), they really listened to my concerns and changed things up the next time I went in. I also think they realized that this isn't my first time in this spot, and I really need to know why were are doing what we're doing and I have a good base of knowledge on how some of this stuff works with my body. 

So this is where I'm at... feeling a little trapped by my body, trying to remember that this doesn't own me, that I'm still healthy overall. It impacts my mood at times, but I think my solitary nature helps keep this in check as I don't have to be 'on' too much. I debated about even writing about this, but it's what my life is like right now. I wanted to capture a picture of what this invisible to others, but screaming at me pain feels like. This picture only captures a bit of it - feeling a prisoner to something I never wanted - and yet having a somewhat normal life. I can live with pain, but also have a joyful  and grateful life. For example, I sit here far too aware of my discomfort, but I spent a wonderful day with family where I felt incredibly loved (hugs from in-laws, cuddling on the couch with Jesse and Riley, etc) and that makes me tolerate this uninvited visitor. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

This and That

My desire to blog has been waning lately. I've been more engrossed in books and TV shows. I've been dealing with some body pain and I've been worried about my dad and some life changes he's making. My mind has been elsewhere so I've enjoyed getting lost in books and television, but I'm not ready to give up on blogging yet. I've been sitting on this post for awhile and slowing adding to it. I still want to document life somewhere, even if it's just for me. Nothing exciting, but just some of the things that have happened lately that aren't documented in other posts....

~Recently, Riley told me how her friend Bentley has a hamster. Apparently, he calls it 'Chubbers' since it has a chubby butt.

Fast forward a few hours when I was changing into my PJ's. Riley came up to me and started slapping my butt and announced "you have a chubby butt. Maybe we should call you Chubbers".

Nothing like a kid to keep it real...

Also, I almost titled this post "chubbers", but worried that doing so would bring too many creeps to this post. Eh, maybe it still will. Gross.

~So the school library was selling books for a quarter each. Riley picked out an animal tooth book initially, and I encouraged her to look for more. We settled on getting 4 books so I could just pay a solid dollar. Her second book was about being a clown. I momentarily tried to talk her out of it, but realized it was a quarter and I wanted her to have her say in the matter. I encouraged her to get some chapter books and we came across The Babysitter's Club series. I didn't read these as a kid, but have heard they are a formative part of many young girl's lives. I was tempted to buy them all, but let her choose one. She topped it off with another smaller chapter book. Then, she told me I should give her a dollar everyday so she can buy more books since she's sure they will be changing the selection. Lol. I hope she always begs me for money to buy books. Also, we're almost done with the one Babysitter's Club book we got and I'm kicking myself that I didn't get them all as she's really into this one. #nowIknow

~I finally got around to video taping Riley's 6th birthday interview a week after her birthday. I probably should have waited even longer as she and I totally butted heads earlier this day, she broke down, and while she came around, I think it caused her to be extra goofy in this video.

She then insisted on video taping me. She's been wanting to do this for awhile. Nothing exciting, of course and her questions were pretty standard (what I ask her), but I like how she came up with asking me about work.

~We recently went to the science museum to watch the National Parks Adventure movie. Riley loved it, but then became quickly bored, which we expected. Certainly more exciting when your kid has been so some of the locations shown. Luckily, they featured Devil's Tower in Wyoming so Riley was very excited for those few minutes.

Other than that, this was a lot of fun. Riley's at that age where she really enjoyed a lot of what this place has to offer and yet it feels like she could grow into it yet. So many more years of fun at the science museum I imagine.

This space man was a favorite for sure. Basically, there is a camera off to the side that video tapes you for 15 seconds, you enter your name and then it shows your face on the large spaceman above. Plus, your name is listed in the name tag area. We didn't know what we were doing at first, but once Jesse realized what was happening, he was all about trying it himself.

After the Science Museum, we tried a new (to us) Thai restaurant in St Paul called Mango Thai. It's super small, but really, really good. I'd totally recommend it. We really don't get to St. Paul much, but we've had a lot of luck with food there lately.

~Let's see, I should also mention some of the books I've been reading...

  • The Other QueenThe Boleyn Inheritance, and The Taming of the Queen all by Philippa Gregory - I would recommend all her books (I've also read The Kingmaker's Daughters and The Constant Princess)
  • A Million Little Pieces by James Frey - Meh. I know there's a lot of controversy about how embellished this book is, but it came highly recommended by a friend who I think has good taste in books. I was less than impressed with the writing style and almost gave up, but I will admit that the writing fit the topic.
  • Pray, Eat, Love  by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm not sure this is what I thought it would be, but in the end I really liked it. More than expected. I'm not one to keep books, but this is one I can't quite get rid of.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This is supposed to be a classic, but this 'dystopian' future was written in 1951 so I'm not sure it held up for me. Jesse gave up on this one, but I have a hard time doing that. Luckily, it was a short book and I was grateful when it was complete. 
  • I'm currently reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I'm just getting into it, but so far it's good.

~Turkeys. Oh turkeys... Not sure if you remember me mentioning the 6 turkeys I found in our yard last fall?

So throughout the winter I'd see them hanging out in a variety of spots near our house. One day, I only saw 5 and worried that something happened to the 6th, but then saw them all together another day. Apparently, I was worrying about the wrong thing as it appears that at least two of these turkeys are aggressively attacking cars. They are actually blocking traffic on a somewhat busy road and then attacking car tires. I'm not sure where they came from, and just when I think they've gone away, they show up stopping traffic again.

~And that's about it. I'll end this post with a picture of Riley with Ellie and Olivia. I'm friends with Josie (Ellie and Olivia's mom) and we finally got together recently. We were going to check out the wall of happiness at Southdale. Apparently, March 20th was the international day of happiness, but when we got there the wall of happiness was shut down early. No worries, we made our own happy in the play park area. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Project 52 - Field Trip - Week 11


I'm not one of those mom's that can participate in a lot of Riley's school activities so when I told Riley that I would attend her field trip to the Minnesota Arboretum, her face lit up and she practically jumped into my arms. For two weeks she counted down the days until the field trip which finally arrived this week. She was very excited.

There were a few other mom's there and you could tell that a couple of them were able to do this on a regular basis with their kids. In some ways I wish that was me, but it's not and I'm ok with that too. I have to work and I like to work, but when I see how excited my kid is for me to be a part of her school life it makes me momentarily wish things were different.

Luckily, I can take some time off occasionally and be there for Riley. It was fun to see her interact with her friends and also keep a close eye on me. I'm not one to be on my phone texting much (partly because my phone is annoying for texting), but I couldn't help but send updates to Jesse throughout the afternoon.

Riley was delighted that we could sit next to each other on the bus and that we got to be in a group that included her best 'boy' friend. I saw signs last year of her being a little boy crazy, but it really became apparent this year. This is her second 'boy' friend of the year and I'm not sure how I feel about it. At first, it was fun to watch them play rock, paper, scissors on the bus, but later when she insisted on sitting next to him and holding his hands... well that was another story.

After sharing that with Jesse, he suggested I take more time off to spend at Riley's school so we could get the scoop as to what really happens during the day. So yes, I was delighted to spend a few hours of the day with my kid for a school activity, but this whole boy thing - that I'm not ready for. Was I that way at her age or is this a thing now? I actually remember spending one year running away from a boy during recess who kept trying to kiss me. I hated recess because it was a fight for my life (ok, it wasn't, but it sure felt that way at the time).

On the way back to the school, Riley and her friend sat next to each other while I got to sit with another little boy who informed me that Riley and her friend were boyfriend and girlfriend and that he had his own girlfriend as well. Apparently, it is a thing.

I know this may be innocent enough and I may or may not joke that I should start homeschooling Riley, but I think a bigger issue keeps running through my head. Why is she doing this? Is it just because she's found a good friend? Is it because all those silly princess stories tell her that she'll find value and happiness with a handsome boy? We recently read Chick 'n' Pug:The Love Pug and I immediately wanted to burn the book. I was disgusted at the message that the book relayed... girl pug going out of her way to impress boy pug who wanted nothing to do with her. Just a super gross message. And a message that I feel I see all over. I'm frustrated by a world that expects different things from boys and girls and then continually sends messages to reinforce that. It's hard to counter that.

I worry about these messages way more than I did before I had a daughter. I see them everywhere... I recognize them in my own childhood and it makes me sad/mad, as Riley would say.  Ok, I've gotten a little off track with this post which was originally a post about what a delightful day I had with my kid... let's leave it at that before I continue on about any other injustices out there.  :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Project 52 - Spring Weather - Week 10


I can't believe it's March already - this winter seemed to go by so much faster than last year. Perhaps it's because it was also milder. No complaining here, except that we didn't do a lot of winter activities like sledding (twice) or ice skating (none, unless you count walking on ice in our boots). I guess we'll have to wait until next year because I'm pretty sure the heavy winter weather is gone.

This past Saturday we went to the Free First Saturday at the Walker for their Kid's Film Festival. I'm always cautious of going to free events because I think it's going to be nuts, crowded with people everywhere, but this wasn't that bad. We got there early enough to get a seat at the first showing and then left shortly afterwards. We enjoyed the film shorts and came home with a list of those from the previous year that we've been watching online. I'd highly recommend Home Sweet Home (among many others). They are suppose to have a Free First Saturday that focuses on photography so there's a good chance I'll check one of these events out again.

Riley and I also went to the library on Saturday where I picked up another Philippa Gregory book. I love a good historical fiction book and she does a great job bringing you back to Tudor times. I mentioned her to a co-worker and now there are a number of us at work talking about her books. Related: I've just finished watching The Tudors, am now watching The Borgias, and think I'll start on Reign after that. Next thing you know, I'll be wearing a opulent gown over my kirtle with contrasting sleeves and trying to decide between a French or English hood. Decisions, decisions...

While at the library I picked up some free magazines on senior housing. This is probably worthy of a longer post, but my 88 year old dad is thinking about moving to independent senior housing. Not now, but he's preparing for that. Not sure how I feel about that. I'd love to see my dad stay in his house, but it is getting a lot to manage. Plus, he's getting so he doesn't want to drive so he doesn't get to see his circle of friends as much. We'll see what happens - more to come on this, I'm sure.

Sunday we went to see Zootopia which was really good, but also had a scary part that we could have done without. Even I jumped out of my seat. Well ok, that doesn't mean much since I'm easily spooked, but trust me... it is scary for a kid. Even so, Riley loved the movie and is all things Zootopia now. Luckily, we already had a Zootopia book at home which we proceeded to read that night.

But first, when we got home from the movie, we decided to spend the last of the light outdoors. We hadn't spent a ton of time outside and it was a beautiful day so we needed to clock in some outside time for sure. I love that Riley is still so excited to play with chalk. I'll be super sad when the day comes (when she's like 15, right?) that she doesn't want to draw pictures on the sidewalk. She asked me to draw another obstacle course so I obliged. Our 'obstacle course' (I don't know what else to call it) includes things like needing to meow like a cat, sing, dance, hop, say yellow 5 times fast, walk in a circle, and so much more. And the neighborhood loves it too. I regularly see kids and adults do as the sidewalk orders as they walk in front of our house.

I'm so looking forward to many more of these days outside, painting the sidewalk with words and pictures and memories. And, if there is ever a time that she doesn't want to draw on the sidewalk (not possible, I'm sure), I'll always have these pictures to look back on.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Project 52 - Down by the River - Week 9


Jesse and I had an impromptu date day/night when Riley's grandparents offered to take her overnight this past Saturday. It was an "out of character 60 degrees in February" kind of day so we decided to take advantage of the fine weather and go for a walk in NE Minneapolis. As did everyone else. I don't think I've seen the Stone Arch bridge that busy even in the summer. People were obviously wanting to embrace this rare day.

We decided to park on Nicollet Island, walk over the Stone Arch Bridge, and then loop back over Hennepin Avenue. We took a detour to eat dinner at Whitey's before heading home to watch The Martian together.

Of course I brought my camera on the walk with us and took lots of pictures, but I wanted to highlight just a couple here. Jesse and I have taken pictures before of the Hennepin bridge from below and they are some of my favorite. The sun wasn't really cooperating since it was shining through the gap between the lanes and I wanted a shot right in that spot, but I decided to make do.

 In the first picture, I kept my aperture pretty wide open and it created this cool halo effect.

But I wanted more of a star burst effect so I narrowed my aperture and instead got this almost raindrop effect.

Nothing is that great about these pictures, except they created some cool effects. I like the top, husband likes the bottom. Disclaimer: There are a lot of different thoughts about shooting right into the sun... some say it's a big no no and other's claim it's fine. Based on what I knew about how DSLR's handle the sun and the short amount of time I was in front of it, I took the risk. 

 And because I felt slightly blinded by the above pictures, I wanted to capture one without the bright sun. This lady, unknowingly, created a nice pop of color. Thanks, random stranger.