Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Finished Book 4

Yep - Book 4 of the Twilight Series was consumed in under 24 hours - couldn't put it down for even Heroes (though I do love the new directions that Sylar is taking, make no mistake... and Claire's de-humanization is fascinating to watch. But we're talking about Twilight here).

Book 4 made slogging through Books 2 and 3 completely worth it: But you can't skip 2 and 3 - you don't realize how important the stories they tell ARE until it's all brought into focus in book 4. Very well done.

And to anyone (MOM) who might be thinking about taking a breather between books: Don't do it. Just dive into 4. DO IT.

Halfway through my crazy trip: Tacoma went VERY well, and I'm back in MSP ready to board for Boston. I'll be back home in 27 hours from now.

Isaac continues to heal - stitches come out Thursday, and we'll see the dentist next week. I do miss that all of my creatures at home - Pamela, Bella, and Frankenstein.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tough Guy

After the events of yesterday, Isaac was up and at'em at his usual time (7am), and spent a good 20 minutes rolling around in bed with us playing. He was just happy. His face was good and swollen, but you could see him smiling in there.

After a few shows in the AM, he insisted on going outside to play. Bella was invited over to a neighbors house for a long day of playing. So we started up the block, and as we passed people, I felt the need to explain his face... so we went up the block SLOWLY.

When we hit mid-block outside of Casey's house, we saw a bald eagle perched up in a tree, looking over the neighborhood. There were three very annoyed crows circling around yelling at him, but the eagle was unperturbed. It is an odd thing to see such a large bird... I figured it was the Great Spirit coming down to see how Isaac was doing.

After the sighting, Isaac decided he was strong enough to march down to the park and play on the swings and slides for a while. We got back up the hill and he had some lunch, and a nap... and Pamela and I took the opportunity to pass out too.

Into the evening, Isaac kept on playing, showing no signs of feeling his face - his attitude was entirely intact. We had dinner and more playing, and he hit bedtime at his usual 8pm time, somewhat reluctantly.

In the meantime, we got so many nice calls and notes from people - we were really touched. And we got quite a few cookies delivered as well, which was too bad since we don't like cookies all that much ;-> .... we were in HEAVEN!!!

Alas, I'm off to Tacoma in the morning, and won't be back until Wednesday evening, so keep those good thoughts of support coming for Pamela and the family. I wish I could cancel, but there's a boardroom waiting for my presentation. Sigh.

Oh, one more thing: Finished Book 3, and will likely consume Book 4 on my long travel week here. Good stuff here. Good stuff.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

PS - it's in the air

In the past 6 days, one friend's kid broke his arm in two places, and another friend's kid fell of his bike, and got a road rash on his face, many stitches, and a loose tooth.

There's just something in the air.

I should also mention that as a kid, I sent my parents to the emergency room several times: At least two bike accidents that I remember between ages 4-5, and one severe dog bite at 11 or 12. There might have been more, but I don't recall clearly through the fog of time.

Poor Little Guy

Isaac went in for his 2 year checkup on Friday morning, and the doctor told us that he is apparently suffering from a raging ear infection. Of course, we had no idea - the guy isn't crying, he's not particularly cranky, and not tugging on his ears... he was somehow bearing this burden quietly, while maintaining his happy personality. We shook our heads in amazement, and thanked our stars that this was caught before it got worse. We considered ourselves somewhat lucky.

This morning, Isaac and I played hooky from swimming - his ear didn't need that chlorine for sure. We ate together, had a shower, wrassled, read stories, and generally had a great time. Bella came home from HER swimming (with Grandma) and we three went out to meet Pamela, who was just finishing a Pilates session.

We went to our favorite garden store with the fabulous restaurant inside, and I ordered up quiches for us while Pamela wrangled the kids. Isaac was running around, and Pamela was chasing him. Just as I came to the table with the appetizers, I heard Isaac screaming and Bella ran up saying "Isaac FELL!".

I rounded the corner to see him with a face full of blood: Pamela was carrying him back to the table and tripped - Isaac caught the edge of a stair with his mouth and bit through his lip and cheek - an inch long hole - and had knocked the teeth too - one chip, one pushed up into the gums...

We ran to Children's Hospital where they got us right in and the poor little guy was just wracked with sobs. They gave him a sedative and he chilled out a bit. In the meantime, Grandma and Grandpa raced to the hospital to fetch Bella and give her an afternoon that didn't involve sitting in a hospital looking at her brother's face. For that we will be forever thankful.

Isaac wound up getting 23 stitches to close the wound - some inside, some outside. It's not quite as bad as the Joker's scars in Dark Night, but it definitely extends beyond the lip line. Through it all Isaac was actually pretty brave - when he cried, we all (including the doctor and nurses) sang songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle, and ABC, which calmed him right down. He even tried to sing along. He told every new nurse "Hi!" as they arrived, and "Bye" as they left. And they had a TV with Spongebob on over his bed so he was telling us about "BobBob" as he watched.

I spent the whole procedure right at his side. I couldn't hold his hand, since he was strapped into a papoose for safety purposes. In a very strange moment, the EMT who was holding his head firmly but gently had her pager go off, and it was a man's voice saying "are you there?" over and over. Which reminded me of a 1990s techno song by Josh Wink that used almost the same sample.

He should have the stitches out by Thursday, and may or may not have a little scarring - it's very dependent upon the person. The teeth will wait until early in the week, when we'll see a dentist.

We got Isaac home and watched Mister Rogers, feeding him a vanilla protein shake for strength, read a few of his favorite stories as he held his diddos (blankies) and I held him until he fell asleep.

Through it all, even though he was clearly in pain, Isaac tried his best to be his usual friendly self. As I watched him in the late afternoon, he was trying to be normal, but his balance was off (still a bit drugged), and would suddenly notice the stitches again, and be worried.... the next few days will be VERY hard for all of us I think.

What's worse is that Sunday is Pamela's birthday: I had hoped to let her sleep in and pamper her for the day, but instead it's all hands on deck. And I'm sure she's feeling some guilt for the accident, for which I hope that she forgives herself, as no one could ever blame her - it was simply a terrible accident. And we're going to have to remember that Bella needs a little extra love in this time too.

Extra love all around I say. We're going to need it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Busy Days

I bookended my day with workouts: my 6am as usual, and then an extra hour at 8pm to work on technique and vocal projection: Even though we use mics, it's important to speak from your diaphragm when leading group fitness, and I need to work on my "big leader voice". The catch is that that big voice takes a lot of energy to produce. Add that to the mental energy of remembering the choreography for a full hour, the emotional energy of trying to bring a room of people along with you, and the physical energy of actually lifting weight along with everyone else, and you've got an amazing workout.

Plus, if I get that big voice, I'll be able to command others in my work and personal life to do my bidding. GET ME A CUP OF COFFEE NOW PLEASE (even when commanding, one should be polite)

I got my big strategy project out in Tacoma, so I'll be heading out there next week, and then a few more times later in the year. It'll be good experience, and a nice excuse to visit the area (and build more business out there... Seattle is a somewhat tough nut to crack. Maybe if I grew a beard....?)

Isaac has been putting us to work: Since we eliminated Bottles 3 weeks ago, he has been a very spare eater, worrying us to death. But his energy level remains high, he's strong, and happy as always, so perhaps I should worry less. But as we took the bottles, we reverted to more cuddling and rocking at night, and we need to get back to "it's night time, go to sleep" (which we had working pretty well up until Bottle D-Day). So we'll have to let him do some crying, but he's a very adaptable guy.

I visited Bella's kindergarten class last night and met her teacher. Oh my goodness, Bella is a lucky girl - her teacher is a "true believer" and loves kindergarten with all her heart. She made a movie of the kids learning in school, she read us some of their conversations, and explained her own history...

I found it interesting that she shared two "science" stories where she was overhearing the kids coming up with theories about things amongst themselves... and Bella was featured in both stories: She is a natural scientist, and her teacher is going to let her continue to explore than knowledge on her own terms. It was wonderful.

In truth, I wanted to run right back and join that class as a student. Their learning just seemed so free and fun. At the very least, I want to be a fly on the wall as the go through their day.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Dear Tim Kring and company:
I forgive you for season two. You have made it all better in just two hours.



I'm finally a "real instructor" at my club, and taught my first FULL BodyPump this morning: I had been expecting to do maybe half the tracks (newbies "co-teach" to start), but instead my co-instructor let me lead it all and he worked the floor. I got the choreography for all 10 tracks right (with a couple of tiny hiccups), but wound up a bit more winded than expected: Talking for a full hour plus lifting weights... and I "forgot" to go down in weight, so I was trying to do it all with my standard workout weight. As a result, I'm a bit sore now, and my arms are all twitchy... But it was a GREAT way to start the day.

In other news, PapaBam are here for the week, and it's been great to have them around for the weekend. We had the neighborhood kids over for Isaac's big 2nd birthday yesterday (how on earth is he TWO already? Oh my goodness). He had a great time, as did the kids.

We're now almost 3 weeks without any bottles for Isaac, and he's sleeping through the night again - he still asks for them, but he makes it through without them. We discovered that he loves PF Chang Mongolian Beef (which we can get faster and cheaper at PeiWei by our house), so we've been stuffing that into him at every opportunity.

Bella was a great big sister all weekend, helping Isaac open presents and taking care of him: She rode a fine line between jealousy and supportiveness, which is hard even for some of us grown-ups to handle, so I'm very proud of her.

I'm in town all week, then a strange trip next week: 24 hours in Seattle, 24 hours in Boston. More on that as it develops.

That's the quick update.... More as life happens.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Still Alive, really

Yes I survived my big weekend of working out, and enjoyed life this past week... I am currently out in the outskirts of Madison attending the big user conference for the software my company specializes in supporting. Between the conference sessions, the schmoozing, and the "team building" I have had I think 15 total un-allocated minutes to myself since Sunday.

The 30 minute bus ride from the hotel to the conference has been ideal for my continued consumption of the Twilight series of books on my Kindle. I'm 1/4 through book 3 now, having suffered through the sub-Scooby Doo non-mystery of book two (though I do love the Italians), but also having thoroughly enjoyed book 1. It's fun reading for sure...

Pamela has been a complete saint these past 4 nights as I've been away - the kids are doing a bit of acting up/out and last night she got a total of 3 hours sleep the poor dear. I'm coming home today (leaving the conference in about an hour actually) so hopefully equilibrium will be restored. Plus, the fun is coming to town: PapaBam are coming for the weekend and into next week, which will be a lot of fun.

Well, I'm going to go and press the flesh for a while, putting on the good game face. I'll have more "fun" updates this weekend!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Aced it.

For those who are curious, I passed the class this afternoon: Now I "just" need to finish up my American Council of Exercise certification, get CPR certified, and film myself teaching a class and I'll be Pump Certified.

That was a LOT of exercise over 3 days. I will likely start feeling sore pretty soon.

And just to clarify - my comment yesterday about "the other people" in my class sounded a bit snarky - but in reality - 80% of the other people were getting trained by their clubs and had NEVER even seen a BodyPump class, so since I've done classes for over 2 years I was at a serious advantage. I just didn't want anyone to think I was trash talking. ;->

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Today I finished my second day of Les Mills BodyPump instructor training, and boy am I sore: We're run through the workout at least 8 full times in the past days, plus today we did a "fitness challenge" where we ran for 15 min and then lifted heavy heavy weights (40 squats with 80 lbs for example...) for a half hour just to push ourselves.

My job was to learn one track last night - the Shoulder track. Shoulders are always the hardest to teach because they tend to be planes trains and automobiles: you change between a bunch of different exercises because you're trying to work all of the areas of your shoulder equally. So for this release, you start with pushups, you move to rear delt raises, then stand for mac raises (which are like a front raise plus a side raise at the same time), switch to rotator presses, and finish with overhead presses, changing weights three times in the process.

Of course, I totally nailed it. ;->

Tomorrow I get to teach squats, which is basically ONE movement with different counts (2 up 2 down, 3 down 1 up, singles, slow, you get the idea... but it's all just a squat!) I already have it memorized, so it should go pretty well. Tomorrow is the final day of class, at the end of which we either pass or "need followup". I'm guessing I will pass, based on what I've done so far (and frankly, where I rank with the rest of the class... the Jimmy is doing pretty well).

What's been nice has been moving from knowing the counts to knowing the coaching points - so I can actually offer good advice to the students and motivate the group. My time with Time Out Fitness has been very helpful because I've been able to emulate my instructors there - they have a pretty high caliber of teaching there.

So after 9 hours of working out today (with some book time, some review of video of our teaching), I got home and cooked up dinner for the gang (Pasta for Bella and Isaac, Bacon and Eggs for P and I). Isaac got VERY excited about the bacon, and ate two whole pieces. He's working on eating more and more, and tonight he actually lay down and went to sleep after I read him a few stories: No mention of Bottles... he seems to be adjusting.

I also got to put Bella to sleep, which was wonderful and cuddly: Tonight she wanted to know why there's Queen of England, and who she IS.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Alien Bella

Tonight Bella was full of cosmic questions: "Do you think there are really aliens on the moon?"

I said I didn't really know - we've never SEEN one, but I think they exist out in the universe somewhere.

"Did you know that even though the sun is far away, you could get burned up by it if you were in space?"

Yes, I did know - and can you imagine how hot it is if you were closer to it?

"If you tried to stand on the Sun, the lava would totally melt you and you'd die".


"But you might then come back as an alien"

And what would Bella as an alien look like?

"I'd be all blue, with green spots on my back. I'd have blue antennae, with orange balls on the ends of them. I'd have 99 arms and four, no, six legs. My arms and legs would be orange. My fingernails would be black, but my toenails would be white. AND SHARP! I'd have two strips of eyes going all the way around to the back of my head, a short orange snout kind of like an elephant, and I'd have black teeth from eating lots of candy and marshmallows. Oh, and one more thing - on my back, I'd have spikes".

It sounds like she's got it all worked out then. I'd love to draw this creature, but am a bit baffled as to how to draw 99 arms - I'm thinking more of a tentacle mass, or perhaps a branching dendrite mass (3 main limbs, branching into 3 sub limbs, multiple times until the very ends are like tree branches....)

Day two of Isaac's no-baba zone has gone a little better... he certainly ate more food than I've seen him do before, which is wonderful, but he's still not quite to the volume necessary.... but I bet each day will get better. His spirits remain high.

Since last night was such a nightmare, I'm turning in early tonight for sure!

If you're curious

Yes, he was up most of the night. And no, he didn't take to the SippyBottle. The hours of 1:30-4am were filled with a very disappointed little guy, though to be fair, between say 3 and 4, he was just AWAKE, and not as sad.

He had a half PBJ sandwich for breakfast... still not enough but it's a start. MUST BE STRONG.

Oh, and Bella was first in line for the Bus this morning - proud as heck to be going to school again. Apparently, the bus line starts a full 15 minutes early, with kids running out of their houses earlier and earlier to get the "best seats" - and by consensus, the kids let Bella take the front spot today.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Big Day

This morning, my little girl Bella got on the big yellow school bus to go to all-day Kindergarten. She was a bit nervous last night and had a lot of questions and concerns, but finally dropped off. When she awoke this morning, she was ready and all business. Got dressed, made her bed, had some breakfast, packed up her backpack, and went out to the curb with all of the other neighborhood kids. She was calm and professional about the whole thing.

When the bus finally arrived at 8:45, one neighbor girl held Bella's hand to get on the bus, and Jenny sat right next to her for the ride. We almost dislocated our shoulders with all the waving... and at the end, Isaac stood among all of the adults and started asking about where's Bella? Where's JenJen? He looked a bit worried.

I ran off to work, where there are other big goings on which are taking some of my brainprocessing cycles... and I got the call at 2pm that Pamela had decided that today is D-Day for Isaac's bottles.

Isaac remains a tentative eater on the best of days: We've seen him shovel down a whole plate of pasta, or a full slice of pizza, only to turn his nose up at the same dish a dozen more times. He's getting better about trying foods, but 90% of his calories are still coming in bottle form. It's time to move him along.

So a compromise is to offer formula in a sippycup... which he thinks is flat out ridiculous and is not standing for. Naptime today was 45 minutes of writing and sobbing until passing out. At dinner, he actually made a bit of an effort to eat (a taco shell, a spoon of meat, a spoon of applesauce, and a half bagel with cream cheese... across a 2 hour period). For night time, he again refused the sippybottle, and had to be rocked to sleep.

It's as if he's saying "look, if we're losing the bottle, let's go all the way. Stick with it, people". I'm fully expecting a few very sad wake-ups tonight. But my gut feel is that this may only be a couple of days of misery before he figures it out and directs his appetite to the bounty we provide to him.

Ok, back to Bella: the Bus came home at 4:15, Bella marched right off, with a huge smile. We had prepared her favorite meal, taco night. As we munched, she was talking a MILE a MINUTE about her day, and how awesome school is, and who she met, and everything. She was in seventh heaven, that kid. Of course, when we tried to get her to tell anyone ELSE about her day, she clammed right up... so we're grateful for the outpouring, and can only hope that she continues to share her stories. After dinner, she got to go play for an hour with Jenny, which was likely a perfect capper to her day.

As we tucked her in for bed, I asked if she knew what she gets to do tomorrow: "Go to SCHOOL! YAY!!!!" That girl is ready for school and excited. Knowing that made it much easier to see her off this morning: We really didn't have tears - we were more proud than anything.

Tonight as she dropped off, Isaac was having his trouble with the no-bottle situation, and Bella started crying: Turns out this whole bottle thing is reminding her of the trauma of when the "Pacifier Fairy" came and took all of her pacifiers when she turned 3. She was so incredibly sad back then, because she was the ultimate Pacifier addict. Isaac has no use for those things - never has - but she was identifying with him. She's a wonderful big sister.

In our lives, things are slowly starting to move back to normalcy: No houseguests, kids starting school (Isaac starts his ECFE next week), the Rev Duties complete, vacations done... Now it's my turn to upend things: This weekend I'm taking a 3 day intensive course for my fitness instruction, so I'll be gone all day all weekend... then I have a 2 night business trip this week coming up, then 4 nights away then next week to Madison for "the other big conference". After that, it should be more predictable.

Keep those cards and letters coming...