Friday, March 28, 2008

picture update

some recent pictures of bug showing her character.

she loves to pull out all the storage tubs. and whack herself with the cabinet doors.

she is trying ever so diligently to walk.

she liked the black beans, but they're pretty messy. obviously, the high chair was falsely advertised.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

change is the only constant

i know lots of states adopt the adage "if you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes and it'll change".

but michigan? michigan is God's mad meteorological laboratory.

late friday and into saturday we had a snowstorm blow through.
saturday afternoon it was at least half melted away and i walked around with my jacket unzipped (yes, I, the ice queen).
monday started out warm and got progressively colder, even as the sun rose higher in the sky.
tuesday was not bad, but a freak blizzard showed up for about 5 minutes at noon.
wednesday was sunny and warm.

what is up with this???

i don't mind the cold, it's why i chose to live in the northern US. but the constant see-sawing of the temperature and the gusting wind is driving me bonkers!

poor pooka wants nothing more than to go out and play, but if the temperature is agreeable, the ground condition is not. who wants to get bundled up in snow pants when it's 45 degrees out?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

lucky charm

i'm not normally superstitious. i don't bother avoiding cracked sidewalks, black cats, or ladders. but i do have one peculiar belief that has stayed with me for more than half of my life.

my nana gave me a claddagh ring when i was 14. it means a great deal to me, especially since she is so far away, geographically and mentally. looking at my ring always reminds me of her and prompts me to give a little prayer that she receives mercy. despite my worry over her mental state, i feel that the ring is a talisman that keeps her safe.

two weeks ago, i broke the ring. i think i forgot to take it off when i went to the gym. somehow, i cracked the underside of the band clear in two. i was devastated. every day since, i have been dreading a call about her condition.

i know it doesn't make sense to ascribe so much power to such a small token of gold-plating, but i can't deny the connection that the ring symbolizes between us.

when i get a chance, i'm going to take the ring to my jeweler and see if he can mend it. i just wish it were that easy to mend what's wrong with nana.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

food hoops madness

my company so rocks.

they are hosting a bracket challenge for the basketball tournament. not only that, they are providing food AND showing the games in the conference rooms this afternoon. not just any food: subs, wings, and nachos.

i made out my bracket based on whimsy--except i picked michigan state to win it all, since michigan's not playing--i have no idea what i'm doing. (shhhh, don't tell anyone: i don't even care about college basketball.)

this is a company-wide event. did i mention there was beer? no work is getting done today. or, really creative work is getting done today.

i gorged myself like an idiot. so much for thrive. (this company sends some seriously mixed signals, though, doesn't it?)

no, it's ok. one cheat day is actually advisable. it prevents the body from thinking that it's starving. all i have to do is not stuff myself on Easter (oh man, homemade pierogies, kielbasa, boiled eggs!)

i can do this. i have been seeing a steady, albeit slow, change in my weight and in my contours. i'm quite pleased, actually, with my progress. i should be in great shape for my trip.

i'm gonna go watch some hoops. the office is closed tomorrow, so today definitely has a friday atmosphere. i love my job!


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the least i can do

there are several organizations that helped us get through the financial and emotional morass that is coping with cancer.

primarily, (not counting the obvious medical facilities) they were the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society- Michigan Chapter, Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan, Make A Wish Foundation of Michigan, and Camp Casey.

without CLF and LLS, we would not have been able to cover the costs of hospitalizations, doctor visits, medicines, and assorted miscellaneous expenses. we just found out that CLF has been cut loose from the United Way of Michigan family of charities. this means they have lost a significant amount of funding and, along with being able to help fewer people, will consequently lose some very dedicated staff. That's a tragic blow for families living with cancer in this area. the people at CLF called regularly to check up on us, they provided some expense reimbursement as i mentioned, and they also organized fun events of various sizes for families to do together to relieve the boredom and stress that come with such a heavy diagnosis.

without MAW and Camp Casey, we would have rarely seen the light of day or the sunshine that comes with knowing that someone cares. they provided treats and activities that took our minds off of the medical drama happening nearly every day.

now that we've come through the other end of this tunnel, i feel obligated, and honored, to try to give back. our finances have not yet recovered enough to donate large chunks of money (we fantasize about all the charities we could endow if when we win the lotto jackpot), but i can do my part to help raise awareness and funds from my sphere of influence.

my company has a built-in payroll deduction program called the 'gift of giving'. my chosen charity is CLF. over the course of the year, it gives them one day's worth of my salary. (they were also my choice had we won the bocce tournament.) and i use GoodSearch to contribute the occasional penny to Camp Casey.

kisu also did some good work for Camp Casey via his company's 'Blue Monday' program. a small donation allows the employees to wear jeans instead of the usual office attire. (we have yet to find out just how much they raised, though.)

we even gave back to the hospital in thanks(?) for all the toys they have given pooka.

the next step on my list, literally, is Walk for Wishes, a 2 mile stroll through the zoo to benefit Make A Wish. coincidentally, this tailors nicely with my efforts to improve my fitness.

i will be looking for more opportunities in the future to volunteer for these specific charities and more. hopefully we can permanently reverse the direction of this one-way flow of assistance. we're grateful to them all, but we don't want to be on the receiving end any more. well, after pooka gets her one wish.

here comes the pitch:
you can visit my personal goal page for the walk and make a donation if you're so moved. i know there are myriad opportunities to give, and many of them more local to you, but consider this a gift in honor of a wonderful child you have gotten to know through this blog.

Friday, March 14, 2008

a worthy cause

turning on the radio this morning, i heard that 89x is broadcasting an all-day telethon from the home of the pistons to benefit make-a-wish.

this has not been done before: the pistons have dedicated their entire day AND the broadcast of tonight's game to this cause. the advertisers have forfeited their ads, while still paying for the time, so that commercial breaks can instead deliver stories of hope and successful wishes.

in addition to the make-a-wish ceo, they also had a spokesperson on the radio. this girl got her wish at 5 and is now 22. she stated that she is 18 years in remission. so impactful was her granted wish that she has vowed to give back and help others receive their wishes. i immediately pictured pooka. what will she be like at 22? will she remember the trauma she endured? how will her experience shape her life? (we are still waiting for her wish to be granted. i suppose the older she is when she experiences it, the stronger the impact it will have on her.)

nothing like starting the workday crying.

i am at least a casual fan of all the local teams, although i don't really watch baseball or basketball games. you can bet your booty i'll be watching that pistons broadcast tonight.

if you're in michigan, please consider donating to the pistons telethon. every dollar helps a kid. if you're not in michigan, consider donating to your local chapter of make-a-wish. somewhere, a sick kid is waiting for his one truly happy day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

further proof that my kid's exceptional if i needed it.

pooka got her very first report card. the scale contained: +, -, and N-for not taught.

as expected, her marks were all +, except for the few categories that were N. doubtless, they will cover those particular skills in the second half of the year, else why would they even be on the report card?

because we're anal and competitive like that, we quizzed her on those as-yet-untaught skills and sure enough, she's got those down, too. there were a few concepts we couldn't devise quick tests for, but i know she'd get them right anyway.

so now we need to come up with a reward system for getting good grades. it needs to be something sustainable, valuable, and not food-related. we want her to have a goal worth striving for, but that won't result in useless/unhealthy consumption.

is it too much to tempt her with a car for graduating kindergarten with a 4.0?


since the new year, the teacher has been sending home 'sight words' for the kids to work on. they're supposed to practice spelling them, using them in sentences, and looking for them in printed material.

pooka got only a month's worth of words. after that, the teacher sent a note home stating that pooka is comfortable with all the kindergarten sight words and will be getting more advanced homework.

my kid rocks.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

school stinks

pooka's schoolyard backs onto a park system with quite a bit of wildlife. in fact, there is a known pack of coyotes living in those woods.

the yard is fenced in, so there's never a concern for dangerous encounters with the animals, but the field right next to the school has a resident family of skunks. and you can't fence out the stench of skunk spray.

over the years that pooka has been attending this school, there have been occasional blasts from the skunks. over the last 2 months, however, there has been some serious stinkage going on. i don't think there's been a single week with clear air.

we haven't heard any stories of human/skunk interaction, but there is obviously something agitating those creatures, and i certainly hope it gets resolved by the summertime.

if the fetor is this strong when our olfactory glands are only half functional due to the cold temperature, imagine how intolerable it will be when our noses are in good working order.

Monday, March 10, 2008

was there any sleep at the sleepover?

pooka has been clamoring for a sleepover for the past 2 years. kisu and i decided that, at six years old, she's probably ready. being off treatment had a lot to do with the timing, as well.

but since she has spent much of the last 2 years very closely attended by at least one of her parents, pooka has redeveloped some separation anxiety. now we have to help her learn to cope with it all over again.

thanks to kisu's current family-unfriendly work schedule our plan is to have her stay at granny and poppa's during my upcoming trip. i want her to be comfortable sleeping away from home, so i thought sleepovers with friends would be therapeutic in addition to being fun.

to that end, i talked with my friend gail, whose daughter olivia is in pooka's sunday school class. i didn't tell pooka that this was pending because i knew she would meltdown if it didn't come to pass. but in the meantime, i took her to the store (the one with the bull's-eye) to buy a sleeping bag.

didn't you know that you have to have a sleeping bag for a sleepover?

we found a good one-pink camo-and while we were there gail called and confirmed the event. pooka was in disbelief at first, then ecstasy.

on the way to drop her off, i drilled pooka on good manners and sleepover etiquette. i wasn't terribly worried, though, pooka is an outstanding kid, especially for other people. i focused mostly on what to do if she didn't like the food they offered.

their house is probably 2-3 times as big as ours, and the main floor is practically wall-to-wall toys. pooka didn't know where to turn first. i was fearful that she would come home and commence begging for one of everything that olivia had.

i let gail know that she could call my cell phone at any time if necessary and i left them to it.

i picked her up at church sunday and heard about how much fun they had. i wasn't sure pooka would sleep, although gail informed me that olivia crashed early from the previous day's activities. pooka was very good and gail invited her to stay over any time. in fact, we agreed to have her spend the saturday night while i'm gone. that way, it will break up the monotony of sleeping at poppa's, plus pooka won't have to miss church, especially since the newly-formed kid's choir is singing at both services that sunday.

all that's left is to arrange the reciprocal portion of our home-and-home series. gail warned me that olivia can be a pill, but i'm sure i can handle it. as long as i don't have to give her any pills.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

how to tell that you've raised a geek

well, those countless hours precious few minutes pooka spent watching the sci-fi channel have obviously made a big impression.

after taking a nap throwing some dinner in the oven, i came downstairs to this sight:

this is the entrance to her play area. notice the plastic board taped to the side of the entertainment center?

that's a biometric security panel.

"i put my hand here and it knows who i am so it lets me into my play area."

btw, that's not a turd on the floor, it's a plastic hot dog. the cat has stopped pooping outside the litter box, well, she stopped pooping outside the laundry room, anyway.

Friday, March 7, 2008

being smart is always cool

pooka has been very interested in sacagawea lately. i'm not sure how it started, but when it started was two weekends ago. (she has seen night at the museum, but not recently, that i know of.) on the way to sam's we got on the subject and i quickly exhausted my knowledge of her role in the lewis and clark expedition. unfortunately, we had already been to the library and missed our opportunity to get more reliable information.

the next day, we looked her up on the internet and pooka couldn't get enough. i'm not entirely sure if it was a sincere interest in the historical figure or just delight at being with me for some one-on-one time.

at any rate, the next weekend we made sure to take another trip to the library expressly for the purpose of checking out some books on sacagawea. we got two, and have spent the past week reading them. (history is not my strong suit, but turns out, i did a pretty good job recollecting the story.) did you know that she was just 16?

fridays are show and tell days for pooka. this week's theme letter was 's', which dovetailed perfectly with her recent fascination. did she want to show off her sacagawea dollar coin? don't be silly, mom! "i want to show my slinky, like i said right when i first got it at reagan's birthday party!"

a slinky, of course! why would you want to show something interesting that the other kids might not already know about or have seen? choose something that every kid probably has at home. i don't remember doing show and tell when i was little, but as a geeky mom, i would choose the new and unusual item over the run-of-the-mill toy everytime.

but then again, i never was popular in school.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

at least my feet are ready

my shoes are here!

i wanted adventure footgear for my upcoming trip, so i consulted the resident outdoor enthusiast in our office, and he recommended sierra trading post and keen's shoes.

they look slightly odd, but they are supremely comfortable. i tested them with and without socks, with the cord loose and with it pulled taut. once i figured out the trick to putting them on i concluded that these things are just plain awesome.

i can't wait to try them out in a water situation. i briefly contemplated getting in the shower with them, but i didn't want to walk all over the house with wet shoes.

i wore them all evening, cuz i'm a big dork.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

the end is just the beginning

monday was the last weigh-in for work's thrive contest.

i ended strong, with a 3.4# loss since the last weigh-in and a total loss of 8.2#.

not bad, but of course, the journey is not over. now that i'm not concerned just with numbers on the scale, i can go back to my 'normal' schedule of weight-lifting. now it becomes a matter of total fitness and preparation for the adventure trip.

oddly enough, i find that a regimen of more weights than cardio actually works better for my body. case in point, yesterday i really pushed myself working my upper body and even though i was way off on my nutrition (2 pieces of pie, a brownie, a molasses chocolate, am i missing anything?) i still registered a 1.5# loss this morning!

Monday, March 3, 2008

mixed-up everyday

pooka has her own sense of fashion.

normally, it's pretty cool, even though lately all she wants to wear are sweatpants.

she's lived in sweats for the past two years because they were the only thing that consistently fit during the ups and downs of steroids and the dressing requirements of clinic visits.

i'd be ready to ditch the sweats. i guess she's just gotten used to them. or maybe we still haven't found jeans with the right cut for a long-torso/short-leg girl.

anyway, this week school is celebrating dr. suess's birthday and today is mixed-up monday. the kids were supposed to wear crazy clothes. pooka dressed herself this morning (as she usually does) and did mix things up, although she staunchly refused to mis-match her socks.

when we got to school, we could see that the kids really had some fun. odd shoes and socks, out of season accessories. one girl looked at pooka and asked why she wasn't mixed-up. pooka got offended at that. internally, i chuckled, because she was mad that her friends dared to question her; i would have been mad that they thought my outfit was no zanier than usual.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

the lion in winter

doesn't do a whole lot.

we went to the zoo today. the weather was not bad, and i had seen claims on the zoo website that some animals are more active in the cooler months than they are in the oppressive heat.

to that i say, "LIARS!" the polar bears weren't even out!

we did see a fight erupt among the snow monkeys, but that was the highlight of the outside portion of the day.

i have to admit it was excellent to be there without the crowds, and because it was so sparsely populated, when we went into an area with a docent, we actually got to talk to them.

we went to the amphibian house, which surprisingly, i had never visited before.

tropical frogs are the coolest. temperate frogs are so boring with their woodsy camouflage. ooh, you can't find me!


tropical frogs are flashy and fun. woohoo! look at me and my spots. well, sure, i'm toxic and poisonous if you eat me, but aren't i bee-yoo-tee-ful?

i don't care if you are a prince, i'm not kissing you.

my friend, the radiated tortoise.

watching his partner struggle to pick up a 6' twig.

yo. what's up.