Monday, February 25, 2013

Weaning 2.0

After thinking about it and wondering about and worrying about... I'm suddenly there. I've arrived. I'm ready to wean.

It's funny how it was very sudden -- all of the sudden I was just over it.

I had originally, pre-baby, thought I might go as long as two years old but... the romance is over.

Calliope's growing well, if still on the skinnier side -- 20 pounds, 6 ounces and just over 32 inches tall at 18 months -- but she's eating a decent amount and anyway, I'm not convinced that breastfeeding is adding any calories. Probably she would make up the difference with solid food if she wasn't nursing.

So. The challenge now is that my increasingly opinionated toddler -- like, seriously, in the last week, she's becoming way more hard headed about pretty much everything -- is very attached to her neh neh's.

Right now I'm trying very hard to limit it to just twice a day. Up until now, it was supposed to be twice a day, but was more often three times a day (morning, bedtime, and right when I got home) and sometimes four times a day (on weekends -- before nap and late afternoon as well as morning and night). So now I've got a whole bag of tricks up my sleeve to distract her.

Someone on the SMC Forum gave me the following pearl, "Don't ever say 'no' to nursing. Say yes, but right after we do x. And then conveniently forget." This is brilliant advice. Saying no to her request is sure to cause melodramatic wails expressing pure heartbreak. Saying "yes, after" works much better, and at least half the time, she does get distracted. On Friday, I had a new toy for her (coincidentally). Today, the nanny had a couple of crackers at the ready. 

I'm hoping that if we can get through an entire seven day period without that late afternoon nursing, I can heave a sigh of relief and stop being quite so nervous about that habit being broken. 

Then I will have to figure out which to tackle next, morning or evening. I'm thinking morning, because I reckon I could scoop her out and rush her into the kitchen to find a banana. Maybe that would be distraction enough? I tried it once, a couple of weeks ago, and it was pretty much an epic failure, but I reckon I have to keep trying.

Do you have any brilliant suggestions? I'd love to hear them!

ETA: I just googled "weaning a toddler" and all the suggestions seemed awful. Everything from "paint your nipples with lemon or vinegar and your toddler won't want to nurse anymore" to "can't you just let your toddler wean herself when she's ready?"

It seems terribly unfair that BOTH alternatives -- weaning or not -- bummed me out.

Ugh. Have I just lost all the ground I had gained?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Eighteen Months, Or "What is 'Akhi'?"

Pictured with Baby Annie, purchased as a potty training aid, now her favorite toy

My girl has been in the world for a year and a half. Unbelievable.

The last month has been so much fun. She's adding approximately one new word a day. So far I can still keep up with them in her notebook. It's amazing to watch.

Funny, now, to remember that when she was about a year old, I was worried that she would be speech delayed because I wasn't talking to her enough. I felt like children with two parents would certainly hear more speech than an only child with a single parent who tried to talk as much as she could, but certainly got bored of pedantic one sided conversations with a silent infant. Oh, and then my "disadvantaged" child was with another silent infant and a nanny whose first language isn't English (but speaks English very well).

Oops. I guess I needn't have worried. Calliope and Eleanor seem to learn words from each other all the time. For example, in the last twenty-four hours, Calliope has just started calling all crackers "cookies," just like Eleanor does... which is especially funny given that neither of the girls know what "cookies" are. Prior to this, Calliope called them crackers, well, something like "cracker" that technically sounded a lot like "ga-ga."

So clearly she's not handicapped (verbally) too much by my solo status. Phew. Something else I can not worry about.

I don't actually know how many words she's "supposed" to have right now (I should know this from my nursing school days but I lost that knowledge in the early stages of pregnancy, never to return, along with things like knowledge of the whereabouts of my hiking boots... how DOES a person lose a thing like a bulky pair of hiking boots???) but I'm pretty sure she's fine.

It's also amazing to watch the connections she makes, connections I wouldn't understand if I didn't know her so intimately. For example, after breakfast, she points at the top of her toy kitchen and says "Ellie." Only I, and maybe her nanny, would understand that what she means... that she's pointing at Eleanor's toothbrush, sitting on top of the toy kitchen, because she knows it's time to brush her teeth, now that she's done eating, and furthermore, she recognizes that Eleanor's not there for tooth brushing after this particular meal.

Pretty amazing all that can be unpacked from a single word.

Tantrums, such as they are, are extremely short lived and usually end abruptly by way of distraction. The main thing that elicits strong negative reactions are diaper changes. She does not want to be laid down to have her diaper changed. As soon as I start, she starts to plead urgently, "Pah-ee! Pah-ee"! (That's "potty" for the uninitiated.) But she often only sits on the potty for a few seconds before wandering off (and never produces anything when I'm around, though apparently she's had more success of late with the nanny.) But as soon as I lay her back down, she pleads for the potty once again. So my rule now is that once she gets up for more than a few seconds, her "potty time" is over.

However, she's picked up a habit of screaming an unholy shriek when she's mad or frustrated, or occasionally, for no apparent reason. It usually gets better after time away from Eleanor, a weekend or longer, but gets worse after being with Eleanor again. Of course, this weekend it didn't let up at all, despite limited time with Eleanor. I generally pretend I can't hear her at all, and she usually tries another two experimental screams, to see if I notice, and when I "don't hear anything," she stops. I have a hunch this behavior may be just a little taste of what is to come as she approaches two.

She's both adventurous and anxious. God forbid I should leave her alone to go to the kitchen while she's playing in her room -- desperate tears result. Yet when we met my brother outside South Station (more on that in a minute), she stood quietly next to the car (under his care) as I loaded her stroller into the car... but as soon as she was back in my charge, she scampered off down the sidewalk as fast as her legs could carry her, giggling gleefully. She loves to run away and be chased. Which is sometimes fun and sometimes a little terrifying, as in the above example.

For the most part, though, she's easy going and fun to be around. She wants to see and help and participate in everything I am doing. As long as my expectations about my own productivity are low, we have a great time.

Our trip to Boston went quite well. I had to wake her up an hour earlier than normal to be ready for our trip, but she was in a great mood. I packed far too many snacks and gift wrapped entertainments (mostly books and toys she already owned -- many people advised me that gift wrapping makes things more time consuming and also exciting for a toddler), but I was glad to be well prepared. She loved the train, especially when I demonstrated that we could get up and walk around. After that, she wanted nothing more than to walk to cafe car and into the car beyond. She would impatiently shake off my restraining hand and toddle quickly ahead of me, careening side to side, laughing maniacally as she sprawled repeatedly.

I'm sure I looked like quite the neglectful parent as I hurried behind her, cracking up even as she went flying. Luckily no major head injuries resulted and I was at least exceedingly careful when the train doors were open.

Our best diversion was the DVD player. My friend Scott texted to ask how our trip was going; I responded "Calliope is watching a video and stuffing her face with processed food. God bless America."

She never gets unlimited screen time (rarely more than ten minutes) and had never yet had a snack in front of the screen but there's a time and a place for everything and this was the time for doing whatever I could to pass the time. Screens and puffs it is.

She was somewhat aloof -- more uninterested than anything more negative -- in my mother, who isn't a natural at interacting with children on her best day. She was more positive on my brother, once he sat on the floor and cheerfully played with her so I could work out, and actually let him carry her to the car while my hands were full of bags. And she was thrilled to play with my cousin's ten year old daughter, who patiently assisted Calliope on her numerous journeys up and down the thrilling staircase.

My cousin handed Calliope a plastic action figure -- a Samurai "guy," as she said. Calliope thereafter named every toy in the house a "guy." And then took that Samurai and rocked his tiny plastic body in her arms, saying "awww" in a loving, reverential tone. And then proceeded to pretend to change his diaper.

It's amazing what biology pre-programs in little girls.

My mom seemed well. Tired, but herself. The transfusion seemed to help, but perhaps the effects were already wearing off. Still, I know she was glad to see us, and that Calliope was a good distraction. It was good for me to see her, too.

My brother and I got along fabulously, our best ever. He was more generous with me than I remember, things like helping with Calliope so I could work out as well as organizing dinner, and I tried to repeat as a mantra "give him the benefit of the doubt," and the result was harmony. We stayed up very late on Sunday night talking, and both agreed that we want to keep working on things between us.

So the trip was a success, though indisputably exhausting. I'm debating now whether we should ride the train for our next trip or rent a car. I had hoped to stash baby clothes and the old car seat and stroller in my mom's basement but maybe it's not worth the stress of driving with my car-hating toddler.

A video of her singing along to Itsy Bitsy Spider -- she's getting a lot better with the hand signals, but I especially love the wordless warbling at the end along with the enthusiastic "yay!"

Language update (this is not expected to be of interest to anyone, really, but it's how I keep track for myself... to some day be turned into a Calliope Journal Book).

And "Akhi" is the mystery word. She says it quite often, in a variety of circumstances, and I haven't a clue what it means. I know this is one of those details I will soon forget, so I'm writing it down here to remind her later.


  1. here (when she hands me something, she says this, as in "here you go")
  2. go (as in "let's go!")
  3. clap ("cap")
  4. car
  5. diaper "da-doe"
  6. bowl
  7. pear
  8. orange ("or")
  9. apple ("app")
  10. banana ("dada" -- my favorite of her baby words!)
  11. cracker ("quack-ah")
  12. cream cheese ("creaky")
  13. pear
  14. water
  15. pee
  16. poop ("pooh")
  17. baby ("bay-bee" drawn out in an adorable lilt)
  18. peanut butter ("mah" -- replaced tonight with "butter" -- I'm wistful about this)
  19. book
  20. bubbles
  21. pop (as in, what bubbles do)
  22. teeth
  23. sneeze
  24. E-I-E-I-O ("yie yie yo" -- like the song)
  25. head ("heh")
  26. belly
  27. nurse ("neh neh" -- as in, breastfeeding)
  28. potty ("pah-ee")
  29. help ("heh")
  30. all done ("elga")
  31. cheese ("gheeeeeezzzzzzzze")
  32. Jack ("Gah!" -- her buddy, whose name is now mentioned every time we leave the apartment, even to go to the trash chute three feet outside my front door)
  33. Ellie (her nanny-sharing playmate, aka Eleanor)
  34. Annabelle ("Bah!" -- her four year old idol)
  35. Amy (Ellie's mom)
  36. Mama
  37. book 
  38. "bock bock" (what a chicken says)
  39. "Nah!" (what a cat says... in her alternate universe)
  40. woof 
  41. baaa
  42. quack
  43. neigh
  44. moo
  45. doggie
  46. duck
  47. Squirrel -- don't know how she knew this but she successfully identified one sitting on our fire escape, much to my amazement (and without any help from me)
  48. Hi! (in the cutest lilting way)
  49. Yay!
  50. Bye bye
  51. Umm (said thoughtfully whenever she gains access to the open refrigerator)
  52. Up
  53. Down
  54. teeth
  55. sneeze (only once or twice)
  56. "me me me" (not sure this means something versus just being something fun to say)
  57. And finally, this isn't a word, but whenever I say, "Can you say 'Grammy'?" she answers "Hi!" and presses her hand to the side of her head, as if holding a cell phone
  58. girl -- the character on her pajamas
  59. wall
  60. tea
  61. jacket 
  62. hello
  63. Annie (her doll)
  64. orange ("ish" -- I don't know why, but it's very consistent)
  65. mango (sounds like "yumyum")
  66. money
  67. bagel 
  68. uh oh
  69. shhh (blows on her finger and says "ffff")

  1. more
  2. all done
  3. water
  4. food
  5. bath (her favorite sign because she loves the song that accompanies it)
  6. shampoo
  7. soap
  8. wash hands
  9. change diaper
  10. brush teeth (a sign that I made up)
  11. tickle
  12. shirt
  13. shoes
  14. socks
  15. bubbles
  16. I love you
  17. help -- we use this a lot and it really heads off whining 
  18. nurse (she's been doing this for a while but I forgot it last time) 

Just one, so far, and only said once, "Brush teeth!"

Unless you count the following as sentences? 

"Amy... yay!"
"Bagel... yay!"
Play date with her good buddies Eleanor, Jack and Eli. 
Eli and his parents are moving to Boston... we will miss them!
"Walk... yay!" 
Doing squats with Mommy's Rip 60 Straps
Calliope's "help" was the final nail in the coffin in attempting the impossible
task of assembling an Ikea miniature arm chair... thank god the nanny is better at assembling things than me! 
She wasn't too sure what to think of her first real exposure to snow. She didn't cry, but determinedly walked home
(one building away) after a mere five minutes of play.
She loves to carry things around the house on imaginary errands

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Great News!

My mom had her halfway-through-chemotherapy CT scan on Wednesday. She was supposed to get the results next week -- my sister flew up from FL to be there for the appointment, my brother was going to join them, and I was going to "be there" by way of speaker phone.

But the doctor called my mom two days after the scan and told her... The tumor has shrunk by 30% and her lymph nodes are no longer enlarged!!!

The chemotherapy is working!!!

This is fabulous news especially because they had told us that if the lymph nodes hadn't shrunk by now, they wouldn't consider surgery after she finishes chemo.. they would consider the "treatment" at that point to be palliative. Instead, since her nodes appear clear, she "gets" to have surgery because we are working towards an outright cure!!!

All very wonderful news!!!

But it felt a bit strange because my mom sent me this unexpected news via text message, at the end of my busy day at work, juggling towering stacks of patient charts and my nurse practitioner student (you will no doubt be gratified to know that I know her name, at least).

So I dashed off a quick text response, "HOORAY!"

But that felt pretty lame, so I paused in my work and spoke to my mom briefly, and we spoke at greater length last night.

What feels strange, mostly, though, is that I was preparing to be anxious for next week's appointment... but I had put off this anxiety, mostly, to be dealt with this weekend. I know it sounds strange to say "I was planning to be anxious this weekend," but there it is.

So to have short circuited that is wonderful but also leaves me feeling a bit off balance. I wasn't as jubilant as I would've been because I hadn't experience the low yet, if that makes sense.

On top of that, Calliope and I had a wonderful trip to Boston last weekend (the train was a huge if exhausting success), but it was certainly a lot of work for a three day weekend. So I think I've been a bit off balance from that all week, despite getting a decent amount of rest.

So I'm feeling a little off kilter.

Today was a good day of self care and I'm hopefully finding my balance again with this relaxing Saturday, including brunch at my favorite local restaurant with a pregnant SMC who I've been hoping to meet for ages. Calliope was a pleasant dining companion to boot, so that was an extra special treat -- we last ate there for my birthday in October and it was quite a fiasco (think dishes being hurled to the floor and food littering the floor under two high chairs... and fishing the food off the floor to offer it again to the recalcitrant toddlers). Nice to think that maybe she's settling down a little in some respects. More on that in our 18 month update, currently in draft form.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

All Right, All Right

I've made the decision to go to Boston at the end of the week, for three of our four day weekend. Assuming we are both healthy. My mom suggested waiting to see if she's been discharged from the hospital by then (and not coming otherwise), but I decided we should go, regardless. (If we're not healthy, we probably won't go because we could put her at risk.)

I mention all this because Calliope has been crying the last few minutes, at 9 pm, and I just went in to comfort her and she was swiping at her nose. I hope it's not a new cold. It seems like her canines are coming in so hopefully that's all it is.

Oh, she just started crying again, and for the first time ever, she's actually crying my name, "Mah-ee. Mah-ee."

I just went in again and gave her some Motrin and helped her to lie down -- she was sitting up against the bars of her crib and seemed rather dazed.

This morning I posted a breathlessly anxious request to the Single Moms by Choice toddler board for advice re: traveling by car with a car-hating toddler. Then changed my mind and decided we should fly. Then spoke to my brother, who offered to get me an Amtrak ticket with points. That seemed like a terrible idea... until it seemed like a totally reasonable idea. Have I mentioned that it was another busy day at the clinic? A new asthma diagnosis, two teens wanting to start on birth control pills, a girl with chlamydia (diagnosed two days ago) who came back to talk it over some more, plus juggling calls about travel plans and my mom maybe needing a transfusion. And more.

I voted yes for the transfusion. It's not clear why she should need it now, at least two weeks after her last chemotherapy infusion, but she was feeling awfully weak, and feeling better sounds like an obvious win. Even if I was too freaked out by the concept when I needed one, back when Calliope was two days old. The concept still scares me but intellectually, it seems like a good idea. And Mom says she feels stronger tonight, so that's good.

Aurora, gosh, your comment made me a little ashamed.

I guess the reason that I shared that tidbit about not learning the residents' names is that it's totally out of character for me to not take people into my heart, to take responsibility for them. And it felt flippant and wild to not invest emotion into these people, who are technically not my responsibilty and who often (though not in the case of these three) seem to have no idea what a nurse practitioner does. And sometimes I feel like educating them, and sometimes I feel bored by the idea that I have yet another new batch of doctors coming through, most of whom have no plans to ever practice primary care.

But these three were all very sweet. The truth must also include the previously omitted fact that I took the time to sit down and present to them a detailed inventory of my hatbox, which contains most every form of birth control. I gave a brief history, the pros and cons of each, the active medication, talking points to present to concrete-thinking adolescents (things like, "If you give adolescents birth control pills, you have to ask them, 'where are you going to keep your birth control pills? because if you keep them in your locker, you won't remember to take them home on weekends.'"), showed them what each method looked and felt like, etc. So I didn't come across as nearly as uncaring as I pretended to be here.

But yes, I could at least write down their names on a post-it note and stick it to my desk and try to learn their names, as I usually do. That would be the more humane thing to do.

Therese, I have two siblings, a sister with a husband and two daughters (ages 8 and 14) who live in Florida for the moment but plan to move back to MA soon. My brother is recently divorced and lives in Boston and has been visiting my mom at the hospital and going to doctors' appointments with her. So he gets the hero credit, not me.

It's true that I was ambitious once, and I'm somewhat hard working now, but I'm no hero. Work gets hectic sometimes, but the work I do allows me to feel pretty good about myself. And some days are quieter, and almost every day I have time to eat breakfast and catch up on the SMC Forum while the clinic is open but before patients start rolling in. And every evening, I am finished taking care of others by 6:30 pm. Apart from an easy phone call to my mom, to catch up on the day's doings, to try to find some little Calliope-tidbit to brighten up her day. So a pretty cushy life, in many respects.

Except for tonight, when my girl is crying once again. Off I go.

Happy Valentine's Day

Monday, February 11, 2013

An Anxious Morning

My mom started spiking fevers on Saturday night, after she had been in the hospital for over a week. She was due to go home on Friday, but couldn't because of "Winter Storm Nemo" -- the visiting nurse wouldn't have been able to bring the supplies needed for home IV antibiotics since a state of emergency had been declared, and all cars were ordered off the road.

A lucky break for my mom, it turns out.

Her fever was up to nearly 103 last night, which is very high for an adult who has been on IV antibiotics for more than a week already. I was getting very, very nervous that this meant the doctors haven't been able to get her bloodstream MRSA infection under control.

However, it seems that since she had two negative blood cultures (ie they didn't show any sign of bacteria in her blood) since she started the antibiotics, this is unlikely. Her chest x-ray was negative for pneumonia. Her blood and urine cultures are still pending, but it appears that this may be a somewhat unusual allergic reaction to her antibiotic, called Red Man Syndrome, because she's also become quite flushed.

Fingers crossed that's what it is, and nothing more serious.

In addition to worrying about that this morning, and wondering (agonizing) if I needed to drive to MA, and if it could wait for the weekend (when I will have four days off), and how I would manage the trip with Calliope, I was also juggling a hopping day at the clinic plus managing three pediatric residents. I'm not their attending physician (ie the one that evaluates them, and is officially responsible for them... but I'm still responsible for the patients they see), and they are only with me 3-4 partial days a month, and I never have any idea how much they really know, so I have to try to balance not offending their experience while simultaneously protecting my patients by not assuming they know too much. I really don't have enough time to get to know their knowledge base very well.

I've stopped feeling like an insensitive jerk for not learning their names.  I don't have the energy to care. They always seem to be from far off lands -- but it's not like they are all from the same far off land; this month one is from Indonesia, one's from India, and one is from, darn, somewhere in Southeast Asia -- so their names are always unfamiliar and these young doctors get flung into my orbit, invariably, while I'm in the middle of seeing a patient.

So I try to just avoid using their names.

So I was juggling the three of them, between my office and my one extra exam room, and trying to follow what they were doing with three different patients, when my nanny called. It was hard to hear her over Calliope's screaming in the background.

The gist of the conversation was that the nanny had left the room briefly, to warm Eleanor's milk in the kitchen, and came back to find Calliope in hysterics. The nanny thought maybe Calliope had hurt her hand, because she was refusing to use it, but the nanny couldn't find any swelling or sign of injury.

Over the hearbreaking sounds of my baby wailing in unmistakable pain, I instructed the nanny to strip Calliope down, paying special attention to her elbows -- no sign of nursemaid's elbow -- and toes -- no sign of a hair wrapped around a digit and cutting off circulation. She wasn't constipated -- she screamed like this, in abject terror, once when a poop got stuck (sorry for TMI) after her one and only exposure to Gerber puffs.

The residents, meanwhile, had stopped their chatter and were listening to my end of the conversation attentively.

I told Nastya I had to think for a moment, and would call her back. And hung up the phone.

I put my face in my hands and almost cried -- I couldn't leave the residents to go home, and the worry about my mother, and oh, insecurity with my job, and now my baby -- but instead I started to snort in a sort of hysterical almost laughter.

The residents murmured sympathetically and urged me to go home.

I called Nastya back and she was just experimenting with putting Calliope into the crib... where she rubbed her eyes -- with the "injured" hand -- and lay down.

We got off the phone and then Nastya called back a few minutes later. Calliope went right to sleep, almost 90 minutes before her regular nap time.

And slept almost two hours, and woke up cheerful.

I still don't know what happened. She has seemed slightly off since her cold almost two weeks ago... sleeping a lot (16 hours on both Saturday and Sunday) but generally fine in most other respects. She has a check up with the doctor next week, and I can't see taking a day off from work before then to "complain" about how my child has been sleeping more than thirteen hours at night but still taking long naps during the day as well.

It looks like she may be getting the infamous canine teeth at long last... but they don't appear to be close to the surface, so maybe not. Just touching her gums, though, made her hysterical -- I do hope it's normal for a child in rage to have purple lips. This happens when she gets so upset it's hard for her to catch her breath, and I always find it unnerving.

Tomorrow we have a staff meeting to discuss all the changes with the proposed hospital closure. It seems our program is enough merged with the other hospital that our jobs should be safe... but our union status and benefits may not be. And that's pretty terrifying. I can't pay my mortgage and my childcare bill with anything less than I am making now. I'm trying very, very hard to just stay present and wait and see what happens.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Further Complications

My mom had an echocardiogram today to make sure her heart was unaffected by the MRSA infection in her bloodstream... and the echo found something that might be an abscess on her atrial valve.

The nurse practitioner was apparently not too concerned, and said worst cacse scenario, my mom might have to be on IV antibiotics for six weeks instead of four weeks.

However, her oncologist's partner said that he doesn't want her to receive chemotherapy while she's on the antibiotics.

And that's scaring me quite a bit. If her cancer is aggressive, then postponing treatment seems really scary.

I don't know that there's anything to be done about it, but I'm anxious.

I keep thinking that I should head up there... but the same obstacles still exist, plus there's a new one... Boston is expected to receive 18-24 inches of snow this weekend. But I mentioned the trip as a remote possibility to my brother (after I mentioned it to my mother and she vetoed it) and he put some not so subtle pressure on me to come anyway.

On top of all this, our nanny has just told us that she would like to work only eight hours a day, instead of ten. Starting as soon as we can find someone to babysit.

Eek. Not what I was hoping for, another change, right now.

My nanny-share partner asked one of my neigbors in the building if she knew anyone, and it turns out that this woman babysits several children in her apartment, right on my floor. That seems like a potentially great solution, but of course I'm already predicting that the TV is on all the time and that Calliope will start eating lots of sugar as a result of this arrangement.

It's possible that this is not the absolutely best time for me to try to figure this all out.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

a little worried, a little guilty

i'm in this weird position of being worried about my mother, who landed in the hospital on saturday because she noticed that her brand new port (for administering IV chemo) had a little puss around it. she called her doctor, and went to the ER as directed, expecting perhaps a shot of antibiotics.

instead, she was admitted for IV antibiotics. And is still there four days later, because her port grew MRSA and now her blood cultures came back positive for MRSA (a difficult to treat bacterial infection) as well. so now she's in the hospital at least until Friday.

meanwhile, she feels absolutely fine, apart from being tired from the chemo. and her hospital room is like a nice hotel room. all the rooms are private, the food is decent, the nurses are very nice. "it's less boring than being home," says she.

with the added benefit of your child(?ren) feeling guilty that they aren't there?

i've stepped up the daily phone calls to twice daily. i thought about renting a car and driving up this weekend but Calliope has a bad cough -- i would leave her with my cousin, locally. to do short visits -- but i have a very slight runny nose as a result. so i don't know if that would even be safe. and would be a giant PITA. and my mom doesn't think it's necessary.

crazy day at work. including telling a seventeen year old -- complaining of viral illness (went to ER with it last week) that surprise!, she's pregnant. i guess she was more congested when she went in last week versus nauseous now but still. i thought ER's treated all females as PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise). she took it well, considering it seemed that the possibility hadn't crossed her mind.

my NP student was the one conducting the visit (in my office) but she had no clue how to break the news to the patient. I was wondering why she hadn't addressed the results (I couldn't see that they were positive from my desk) and was feeling impatient with my student so I got up to get something and then saw the positive result and realized that my petrified (presumably) student had no idea how to proceed. so I took over. (for the record, the way I like to do it is to place the test on the desk between us and ask the patient, "do you know what this is? do you know what those two lines are?" somehow it seems easier to let them take a moment to decode the test than to just say bluntly, "you're pregnant." so in case you're ever in this situation... now you're prepared! at least, to handle it the way I do.)

and eleanor (calliope's playmate) is getting dropped off at 6:45 tomorrow morning. UGH!!!

i love Eleanor and adore her family, who help me and support me in so many ways, but 6:45 is "right early" to be entertaining anyone, never mind a toddler requiring supervision. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fitness Update: Level 7!

Despite my less than stellar eating, I notice some small signs of strength and muscle definition in my body, much to my surprise. I've never been one to have definition (apart from my stomach muscles, which get definition quickly, but since i a) never wear midriff-wearing clothing, and b) i have a nice layer of "protective" belly fat, aren't so evident anyway. still, my shoulders look strong, not in any record-breaking way, but in comparison to my norm. my inner thighs, too, have shape in a way that they never did before. not defined, but not just an inverted cone, either. all very surprising to me! Exercise has never done much for me, beside boosting my mood, so this is all a bit thrilling. Of course, this workout is ever so much more challenging than reading my Ipad while mindlessly pedaling on the elliptical. It's hard to keep my focus sometimes when I'm in a really challenging segment, but I'm trying to remember it's the focus and the effort that matters, not how high I can jump or how much weight I can lift.

I moved up to Level 7 this week, though I'm still not perfect on every aspect of Level 6. But Level 7 is shorter, which is a nice change -- from Level 1-6 it's gone from 51 minutes to 1 hour 6 minutes and I really feel the difference in my morning. Today was well under an hour and I really noticed the difference, about fifteen minutes from Level 6. Very nice for pre-work workouts. Hopefully I won't lose anything from my fitness as a result.

I've successfully maintained working out three days in a row over the weekend (including Mondays, which has been a day off for me the last two weeks, due to MLK Day and then the nanny needing a day off yesterday). I then do one day of Tabatta -- which is a very short, in time, but very intense workout on the elliptical, then one additional day of Rip 60 and two non-consecutive days off. Eliminating the leisurely elliptical workouts has made all the difference, and now my body is mostly used to more days of intense workouts. Even my brain is starting to get used to the difference. Even Tabatta doesn't feel all that challenging anymore, because it's so short in duration, even with the 110% effort.

My eating has not been so great lately, as i mentioned. it seems to be somewhat cyclical, where I do great for a while, then I just can't seem to maintain it for a bit (at least my exercise stayed consistent!). diets have never made me lose more than a couple pounds, so i don't bother with them, but just try to eat healthy. i experimented for a while with being gluten free, but didn't notice any benefit. I think it's about quick versus slow carbs, not whether they have gluten or not. In fact, it seems like gluten may be more filling than I realized, when eaten with protein and fat, also.  

This weekend, i made a quiche for a brunch I went to. I got the recipe from French Kids Eat Everything (fascinating memoir of a Canadian family living in France for a year, and how it changed their kids' eating). The recipe is designed to be quick and easy, so instead of making pie crust (because of course French people would never use, gasp, pre-made pie crust!), the recipe calls for a cup of flour mixed right in with eggs, along with a goodly portion of milk. I also added cheese and spinach (frozen, and thawed in the microwave -- easy peasy). These are both supposed to make the egg flavor more mild and thus more palatable to children. (My own egg-abhoring child wouldn't taste it so I can't say whether this is true or not.) Anyway, I was surprised to find that the cup of flour made it much more filling. I was (?am) a relatively low carb kind of girl, but I think the quiche is way more filling than a typical quiche would be. So I am planning (hoping) to start making a quiche every weekend and then bring a slice to work for breakfast. Though I think i will try switching to whole wheat flour and see how that comes out. It does seem that whole wheat products are a lot more sustaining than things like squash, whatever the "nutritionistas" may say, at least for my quirky body.

I've also been craving Oreos, and have fulfilled that craving. But, last night I was able to eat fewer than in previous nights. I don't believe in outlawing anything, but instead am trying to really savor them so that I won't "need" as many. I think the craving also came from, perhaps, not enough sleep (the body often craves extra calories when one is tired), so I went to bed extra early last night. I also made whole wheat Israeli couscous last night as I think my efforts to eat low carb were backfiring... seems like more of the relatively healthy carbs translates to fewer of the less healthy one, so it's worth the trade off. I think I'm ready for an upswing in paying attention to my eating -- I suspect the longer days also has something to do with that. 

I've also experimented the last couple of weeks with eating fruit in the evenings. I love fruit, but have gradually reduced it in my diet because I've noticed it doesn't fill me up for more than a few minutes, and often leaves me more hungry in the long run. I was hoping that having it after dinner would lessen that effect... and it doesn't make me very hungry, but it definitely doesn't leave me more full. So I think i'm going to reduce or eliminate it -- maybe a Clementine instead of a big orange, or berries when they are in season.

So more wheat -- whole wheat, that is -- and less fruit. And reducing but not eliminating my oreos. Which I would preferably eat without doing anything else, so that I really savor them and thus, need more.

It's all about small changes, right?

here's the recipe for the quick and easy, child friendly quiche. You can add whatever fillings you like -- veggies, cheese, ham, etc. For older children (or those who like eggs), you can add more egg and less milk.

8 eggs
1 cup milk (or 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream -- this is what I did)
1 cup flour (don't make the mistake that I did and dump the whole thing in at once!)
salt and pepper

1. preheat oven to 325
2. combine eggs and milk
3. slowly whisk in flour

pour fillings into pre-buttered/greased 12" pie pan (put on a cookie sheet so if it runs over, you won't have a mess on the bottom of the oven). bake approximately 30 minutes, until the top is puffy and a bit brown. 

note: I waited more than 30 minutes before taking it out and it was still slightly runny in the center, so I will probably try at least 35 minutes next time, but it was still edible with the center a little runny. of course, I use organic grass fed eggs so I know my risk for salmonella is minimal, though perhaps 325 for a half an hour would be fine even with supermarket eggs; I'm not sure about that.