Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Don't Swim Angry. Or Do.

I've been angry.  Really, really angry.  At just about everything.  And guess who I've been taking it mostly out on?  Those people that have the misfortune to live with me and take care of me - my husband and kiddos.  Mostly my husband.  You see, yesterday the office called to schedule my MRI, they gave me a 7:45 am. appointment this Friday.  As we had been told it would take 7-10 days to get an appointment (and this was only 5) I was happy.  I knew it was early, but I called my neighbor to ask if she could watch my daughter and put her on the bus, and my son's preschool to drop him off early.  Called the elementary school.  All arrangements - no problem.  And then I told my husband.  In the two second pause before his lukewarm reaction of "Ok", I saw it.  Saw how it was inconvenient.  It didn't fit into his schedule.  He'd have to get the kids up earlier.  And I was livid.  He tried to save it by saying "I just wish you didn't have to go through this", but the damage, in my mind, was done.

All day today whenever he's come to check on me its been with the careful smiles and solicitude of a person who's not sure if their patient is going to burst into tears, bite their hand, or throw something at them.  He's been great.  Finally before dinner he sat down and basically asked me what the heck was going on.  Was I nervous about the MRI?  No.  Mad?  Yes.  Very very mad.  At the same time, understanding that I shouldn't be that upset and that yes I was feeling pretty down.

Jedi then made the best suggestion ever.  Since it's still early, do you want to go to the gym?  YES!!  So we fed the kids, I scribbled a workout on my hand, and off we went.  Jedi would watch the munchkins up in the kid gym while I swam.  I posted a status that I was going, to have Coach Sheriff comment to "kill that 300".  You got it.  Coach is watching.

The pool in the evening is very different than my usual early morning sessions.  For one, it's dark outside.  Big glass windows of dark.  I got there at 6, when most people are eating dinner, so it was just me and the seniors water fitness class.  I did my warmup.  I floundered through my drills.  I am not the most dedicated swimmer - in fact today might be the first day I've actually finished a swim workout.  I had a very comical moment where I couldn't reach my water bottle which I'd placed on the starting block.  Several jumps, pulling self up, falling back into pool, etc. and the 16 year old lifeguard came over and asked if I need help just as I finally got it. I'm sure I looked like a wetter version of Scrat from Ice Age with his acorn.  Then I got into the workout set - my 300 endurance swim.  I was tired.  My foot hurt even from the force of the water flowing by it.  About the 3rd lap, I started to get really, really mad.  Shouting in my head - at my husband (what do you mean inconvenient!  it's not convenient for me either!), and my kids (I know it's past your bedtime - suck it up buttercups Mommy needs to finish!), the medical system in this country.  My job.  The list went on for several more laps, until I was spent.  All of my anger was left behind in the water.  As I cooled down with shaking muscles, I felt calm and tremendously grateful.  That is what exercise is for - to let you bleed and sweat out every last negative feeling you have until you are physically, mentally, and emotionally released.  It is wonderful.

On the way home, Jedi also explained that my MRI will be the morning after Halloween, and if the Socks don't win tomorrow, the morning after Game Seven of the World Series.  So it's possible that he'll be functioning on about four hours of sleep.  Alright - for all of those reasons, I'll forgive him that two second delayed response.  All is well in our house again.

Tomorrow night an awesome friend is coming to pick me and my daughter up and bring us (oh yes) to a bar.  My little girl got in a habit of coming to Zumba class with me and my girlfriends and then out for drinks after this past spring.  She likes the Shirley Temples.  She's requested to go out with "Mommy's grown up girlfriends".  It is good friend indeed that will not only join you to bar hop with a kindergartner, but will also drive.  I'm grateful to have those friends.  Don't worry - we'll go before the game starts.

My best drinking buddies

P.S.  For those that can't read my handwriting (get it?  HAND writing????) tonight's 1100 meter workout was:

  • Warmup: 6x50 with :30 rest
  • Drills: 4x100 with :30 rest, broken into 25 scull/25 swim/25 fist or fingertip drag/25 pull
  • Main set: 300 endurance
  • Cooldown: 1x100 easy

There's a Hole in the Bucket

Over the course of the last several weeks, I've done a lot of watching.  Watching friends, fellow bloggers, etc. accomplish some truly amazing things.  Lots of discussions of what race or goal would be on our "bucket lists".  Yellowstone Half Marathon.  Escape from Alcatraz.  The Boston Marathon.  Kona.  Lake Placid.  I've had to ask myself, what if there's a hole in the bucket?  Those dreams drain away.  If some of my dreams just are not possible.  At least not right away.  The MRI on my foot is this Friday.  Depending on what it shows, I may be facing surgery.  Regardless of what it shows, it will be a long long road back.  Not just to racing - to normal life functions.  After much discussion, Gypsy and I agreed to put our goal of the Patriot Half Iron in 2014 on hold.  Not happening.  Two weeks ago I was hoping to be able to run the local 5k Turkey Trot with Gypsy and our two little girls on Thanksgiving.  Likely not happening. Jedi will take my little marathoner out instead.

I am depressed.  I do not write this post for pity.  For attention. To whine.  (SwimBikeWhine - I love it).  Truthfully I don't really want to share any of this at all, but am choosing to do so on the off chance my words might help someone else.  After all, over 3000 people have read this little blog of mine over the last month - maybe someone out there can use this information.  One of my "be brave" songs is John Mayer's Say.  Say what you mean to say.  I'll try.

I have a long history of anxiety and depression.  I have gone through many up and down periods.  I've been in therapy, on various medications - this isn't new territory.  Training and racing is tremendously helpful - the endorphins, the feeling of accomplishment, the camaraderie of friends is like nothing else.  In life as a working mom, you don't get a lot of "victories".  Moments that you feel on top of the world.  I miss that.  I also miss things like being able to drive without pain (or at all).  Going up and down stairs easily.  Feeling like something less than a general waste of space and inconvenience.  Feeling normal.

Many people who haven't experienced depression assume that the person just needs to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" and stop whining.  Cheer themselves up.  Alas, if that was the solution we'd all be cured.  Depression isn't just feeling sad.  It's feeling disconnected from everything in your life.  Things that used to be fun aren't anymore.  Small tasks (like showering) seem not worth it or too much work.  You feel like you're watching your own life on a video tape, instead of participating in it. (Being house-bound only exacerbates this feeling for me).

You can't argue with your feelings.  I can't tell myself that I shouldn't feel sad because my foot isn't cancer or other horrible condition.  Because someone else's pain is worse.  You also can't tell yourself you should be happy because of all the good things in your life (and I know I have many).  You can't shame yourself into feeling better, anymore than you can "hate" your body into being more in shape.  "Think positive" really only goes so far, and it's not a fix for depression.

What you can do is the only thing that's every worked for me when I'm feeling poorly.  Ideally - fix the source of what's bothering you.  Failing that, force yourself to do things that you would normally enjoy. If you can't, have someone else force you instead. Repeat. (Now in my case, being able to drive would really help.  But that's not an option.  Despite the doctor's assertion that I can drive if I want, I tried it and it was very painful and I didn't feel very in control of the car).  It's kind of like doing the same training workout over and over and taking it on faith that eventually you'll see results.

Rocket Mama - cast totally covered!
My mini-bucket list:

  • Not only go to my niece's Halloween party, but wear a costume.  This actually was the most fun I've had in a while.
  • Good out with friends
  • Swim and pool-run.  (if someone will take me)
  • Shop for XMas presents for the kids (online)
  • Get a new Lego set and build it with my little guy
  • Take kids trick-or-treating at friends house
  • Take kids to a movie
  • Work on doll clothes for kids
  • Play video games with the kids (yes I'm a nerd)

I don't know how much any of this will really help my feel better, but I have to keep trying.  You may notice that lots of these are with my kids.  Despite how exhausting they can be, my children bring me so much joy.  And cuddles.  It's really hard to be depressed with a giggling preschooler wrapped around your neck.

If anyone that reads this is also battling an injury or other stress that is making them feel blue, friend you have my empathy.  Just keep trying.  For anyone who has someone fighting depression in their life - don't try to fix them.  Just show up for them.  Be well everyone....

Friday, October 25, 2013

Yeah... That's Not Gonna Work For Me

Beware of medical residents. This is what I have learned.  I met with my podiatrist today for the first time to try to figure out what is going on south of my right ankle.  I mean really, it's been 5 weeks.  Three of them mostly on crutches.  Four of them without me driving.  Well, not quite without me driving.  This Wednesday I got stir crazy enough I drove myself to work out of pure spite.  "Take that foot!"  What I discovered from that excursion was that

a) my job is still not very exciting,
b) the extreme jealousy of having to cover for a coworker that is out of office to buy a puppy, and
c) that you must NOT ogle runners longingly while driving or you will nearly drift over the center line.  But I digress....

So I met with my podiatrist and his resident today.  Naturally, I had typed up a 500 word document detailing, in chronological order, everything that has happened in the foot zone over the last few weeks, my medical history, training, etc.  I am a list maker (my rehearsal dinner involved a spreadsheet handed out to the entire bridal party itemized down to 15 minute increments for the whole day), but I also wanted to be sure that they had all the info and I had all my questions ready to go, as we might only get about 5-10 minutes together (thank you modern medicine).  After going over my x-rays, doing a physical exam, reading my paper, he flipped over to my questions.

1.  How long to heal?
2.  How do I get back into running?

He laughed and said that he was surprised #2 wasn't first.  Ha ha.  I guess they get a lot of Type A well organized hyper-anxious injured triathletes in their office.  But then he said the "S" word.  No, not the four letter one I taught my kids when they were two years old..... SURGERY.  My immediate reaction was to say "Nope.  That doesn't work we're not doing that".  Vigorous head shaking.  His concern was there is zippidy-doo-dah on my x-rays to indicate a stress fracture, and that I must therefore have a Lisfranc injury - or rupture of the ligament over where the second metatarsal meets the heel bones.  At this point I think he sensed my hostility and retreated to go over options with his boss.

Enter the boss doctor, who also looked over my x-rays and pointed out the vast nothingness indicating a fracture.  He poked my foot in all the places that the resident had drawn on it with a pen (yes really) to show where it hurt.  He told me that due to my excellent narrative (thank you 500 words!) he had enough evidence to request an MRI and ask the insurance company to pay for it.  Whoot.  He also said that his gut feeling is that I likely have a really bad bone bruise or a stress reaction in that area.  (No surgery.  Much better).  But that we need the MRI to know for sure.  Every question I asked after that was answered with "We won't know until after the MRI".  So.

He DID clear me to swim and to drive until then, however.  Yay!  So my plan is to party like it is spring break and I'm a 22 year old with daddy's credit card until its time for the MRI.  And by that, I mean drive to work, swim, take my kids trick or treating and try to catch up with friends some in case I'm stuck in my house for months after surgery.

I started right away with a swim workout at the YMCA this afternoon while little guy had his lesson.  I was psyched when the woman in the lane next to me popped up and turned into my friend and physical therapist, Laura.  Yay!  Laura's always given me great advice, like "You'll be ok" (before first triathlon), "Eat something NOW" (after first triathlon) and "You know your goggles are upside down" (today).  She even gave me a swim workout and some pointers on my stroke.  I was so empowered I even strapped on one of those silly belts and tried pool running for a while.  Then I came home and bought myself a waterproof MP3 player because I have the attention span of a squirrel on meth when it comes to water workouts.  Thinking books on tape might help keep me in the pool long enough for actual progress......


Other strangeness going on this week has been a small flurry of press attention from my earlier post "We All Hate Mommy".  A friend of mine works at a local newspaper and asked if she could reprint it.  I said sure, and two days later my son and I were on the front page of the paper.  I had friends texting me the picture, and a random woman I work with stopped me at the copier to tell me she read my article.  Pause.  And now she knows what I think about it.  Another awkward pause.  And that she agreed.  Oh thank goodness.  Anyway the whole experience was a little odd.  I usually assume that no one reads what I write, and that certainly I am safe from those in my real life (or at least professional life doing so).  Having a voice is actually pretty darn cool.  Plus my son was super excited to be on the front page.  Daddy even got him an ice cream treat to celebrate.

That's us right under his right hand. 
The other noteworthy happening this week is this awesome kiddo being the youngest runner ever to complete a half marathon.  That, and every running blog/site/commentor everywhere putting up her picture and inviting the population at large to judge her parents for letting her do so.  Forcing her to.  Stunting her growth by doing so.  And so on and so forth.  I'd just like to say knock it off!!!  For one, no one knows their kid better than her parents, so don't suggest you know this little girl better.  Everyone's experience is different.  Furthermore, do your homework first - her parents are triathletes, she grew up running, they cleared it with her doctor first, and they ran ever mile of the race with her asking her all along if she wanted a break or to stop.  Sounds pretty responsible to me.  So congratulations to Keelan Glass and her parents for doing something pretty darn cool.

My daughter did her first 5k when she was four.  It was our local turkey trot.  She just hopped out of her stroller and ran the whole thing laughing and yelling "Gobble Gobble!" the whole way.  She's my best running buddy.  Sometimes she runs a mile, sometimes two, sometimes about 5 seconds and then starts whining.  So we walk.  Or stop to look at bugs.  I have no idea where she got her athleticism (not from me or her dad for sure) but I'm grateful for it - she has something she loves. Something that literally helps her little high energy body sleep at night.  She thinks Keelan is the bee's knees and wants to run like that when she is six.  (Being five and a half, that's an era away).  Run on, bad-ass kiddos....

My daughter's first 5K - she was four

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lucky Fin - Easing In and Easing Off

Friday I returned to a place I'd not been in over a month - the gym.  Never sign up for an expensive year-long membership - you WILL break something and be unable to use said membership.  It's a law of nature.  But the little guy had his swim class on Friday, so off we went as a family.

If a year ago you had told me that I'd be looking forward to swimming with a broken bone, I would have told you you are insane.  Heck, even on a good day swimming is not my favorite thing.  They say a truism about triathlon is that you will dread your swim workouts more than you like them for your first year of training.  I am no exception.

Swimming is supposed to be the best form of cardio you can do with a fractured metatarsal.  I've read websites that say "it is impossible to further injure a stress fracture in the foot while swimming".  Yeah, I think, but what about kicking a lane line?  Slipping and falling on the pool deck?  Biting it in the locker room?  I'm pretty sure those would re-injure.  So with the Jedi's help in the family locker room I very slowly and carefully changed into my suit, very slowly and carefully crutched through the giant puddle in the shower area and across the pool deck and eased into my lane.  Set up my boot and crutches at the end of my lane as a giant flag to other swimmers - broken fish in this one!  Go share with someone else!!!

Lucky fin....

As I was swimming, I thought of Nemo (yes my mind only thinks in Disney).  Nemo: "I have a bad fin!"  Gil: "Never stopped me...."  Gil = Paratriathlete!  Snort with laughter underwater.  Thank god I think I'm funny.....  After 25 minutes I was suitably tired (I used a pull buoy for at least half).  I then carefully pulled myself out and crawled across the pool deck to where my towel and boot were.  I'm sure I looked very graceful and elegant doing it.  Whatever.  That, plus the 45 minutes of playing in the 4 foot pool with my kiddos, is by far the most logistical hoops I have ever jumped through for a sub-30 minute workout.  But worth it, right??


Halloween is in full swing around here.  When I was a kid, there was one day for Halloween.  October 31st.  You got dressed up, went trick-or-treating, and were all set.  Done.  These days, it is a season.  A season that starts at least a month in advance with the endless negotiation of what costumes which kids want, how to make them, lots of inner ranting and raving about the pros and cons of making them instead of buying them, and then the careful planning of the zillions of events and parties that comprise the kid's social calendars.  I think this year we count six different costume-warranting events.  Oy.

Last night was the first of the events - a Great Pumpkinfest in the evening at a local kids science museum.  We go every year.  Tons of lighted pumpkins, hayrides, activities, etc.  The day went kind of like this:

  • Soccer practice for both kids from 8:30 to 11.
  • Kids ask me to make a last-minute Black Cat costume for self.  Fine.  Mentally wishing that Jedi had taken me seriously when I said I wanted a black Catwoman suit (which I still do.  I could rock that look....)
  • Jedi grumps that he is too busy for a costume and refuses to talk about it.  Goes off to grocery store
  • Both kids are sick, so I give both Benadryl and try to get them to nap.  Only successful with my son.
  • Girl child endless tortures me about my costume and oversees every aspect until I get it just right.  Made to her every specification.
  • Girl child then announces she does not want to wear the homemade pumpkin costume that Grandma and I sewed for her.  She wants to be a clown.  After a few "are-you-sure?"s and a check in with Grandma that she won't be offended, I go to her room and pull a bunch of random brightly colored clothes.
  • Repeated attempts to get girl child to focus and put on the clothes.  Hair in pigtails, paint up the face.  Again, with tons of direction and negotiation from the little one.
  • Meanwhile, son is woken up from his nap and he is PISSED.  Sobbing.  He now hates his bat costume (which he previously loved) and doesn't want to go.
  • Slap on my makeup, bundle unhappy kids into the car along with the non-costume-wearing husband.
  • Get 3 miles from home and realize I forgot my crutches.  Continue as planned.  I have plenty of painkillers in my purse (note how I never forget those??)
Don't they look thrilled?

Once we got there, the policeman granted us handicapped parking (I love this man so much), and the kids did have mostly a good time.  There was a bounce house (always a score), crafts, an animal show, a fire juggler, and lots of cool carved pumpkins to walk around and look at.  The lines for the hayride and train ride were hours long, and my little girl spiked a fever about an hour after we got there and wilted.  Truly alarming to see a child that is usually unable to stand still or be quiet for more than 5 seconds lying on the ground saying she is too tired to move.  So we cut the evening short.  Oh, and I walked up and down endless flights of stairs and about a mile or more with no crutches, so I felt like I my leg was made of hamburger from the knee down.  At one point I fell in the pine needles and was unable to get up for at least a full minute despite my daughter's help. It was dark - my husband didn't notice. Good times.

On the way home, Jedi tells me I shouldn't force family time.  Ease off.  I think REALLY?  If I didn't plan things, we wouldn't do anything!!  I put events up on our family calendar in the kitchen - he asks me five and six times what we are doing X date, and then inevitably schedules a cake order for that day anyway.  Case in point, we were up early this morning finished an order for a 9 am delivery.  To be fair, its is probably bc I schedule so many no human man could ever keep up.  But still.

So you know what?  I've giving up.  (For now.  I know how long my sweeping resolutions usually last).  I am so tired of trying to make everyone in my family happy.  I hope that doing fun Halloween stuff will somehow imprint on their little brains and make them grow up feeling loved, but I'm just not sure.  They probably won't remember anything anyway.  It's too much work for a few pictures in which they refuse to smile or look at the camera anyway.  I want to put the Jedi in charge of all family festivities and see what happens.  Including the daughter's birthday.  I might find out that it's just fine and they like it just as much as all the stuff I work so hard to get them to, to craft, to set up, to plan for, to photograph.  Mommy is tagging out.  Right after I fix my son's bat costume so it's more comfortable....

Gorgeous family portrait.  Guess how many hoops I jumped through for this one???

Friday, October 18, 2013

We All Hate Mommy

Hate is a bad word in my house.  A few days ago in a fit of temper I said, "I hate my crutches" and my son looked at me, all seriousness, and said, "Mommy, that is not a nice word".  But I am going to go ahead and use it here.  In a society where personal achievement is considered paramount, our culture hates successful women.

There are more example of this phenomenon than I can list.  One of the most compelling is the Heidi/Howard study, in which a two professors wrote up a case study about real-life entrepreneur Heidi Roizen, describing her success as a venture capitalist by relying on her outgoing personality and huge personal and professional network.  The case study was described to a group of subjects.  They were then asked to rate Heidi on likability, competence, etc.  The exact same description was given to a second group of subjects, with one change.  The name was changed to Howard- she was male.  Using the same rating system, the subjects perceived Heidi as selfish, not likable, and unfeminine, while gave Howard high marks across the board. Clearly, if a woman achieves a certain level of success in her career, she is breaking the cultural rule of self-promotion, and therefore we don't like her anymore.

The latest iteration of this is Maria Kang's controversial photo, in which she shows off her fit physique with her three sons, and asks "What's Your Excuse"?  Her intentions in posting this picture to her blog and Facebook page were to encourage others to break through their hesitations and work towards personal health.  Instead, this woman has endured a backlash of hatred from a group that should be supporting her achievements.  Other women.  They call her a bad mother, a bully, that she is "fat-shaming".  That she is lucky genetically or must have a coach and be paid thousands of dollars to look that way.  When in actuality, she works full time as the breadwinner to support her family and injured Vet husband.  But she broke The Code, which says that a woman, especially a mother, should not flaunt their successes.  Her level of physical fitness as a mother of three young children is an accomplishment.  There is no way that it comes easy.  Nothing worthwhile does.  Blogger Matt Walsh does a fabulous job of addressing the public hate reaction to the photograph.  I will not reiterate everything he says, other than to say that you cannot take someone else achievements away from them by hating.  When you judge someone, that judgment is not about them - it is a mirror of your own insecurities.

Women and mothers have a tough road to walk.  The feminist assertions that we can "have it all" have been largely debunked.  We are offered an endless series of choices, compromises, and decisions about our life paths, and each one comes with its own cultural negative judgment.  Get married young?  Wasting your youth. Don't get married until your mid thirties?  Spinster. Pursue your career?  Un-natural ambition.  Stay at home to raise your children?  Waste of a college education.  Keep working?  Bad mother letting someone else raise your kids.  Make time for physical fitness or a hobby you enjoy?  You must be neglecting your children.  Tina Fey, in her autobiography "Bossypants" says that the most insulting question you can ask a woman is "How do you do it all?", because the implication is always that you must be neglecting something.  I 100% agree, and I get asked this question a lot.  Most of the time I manage to quip, "Oh you know, I just don't sleep" (which isn't true, but is a satisfactory answer).  When I'm feeling more touchy, I say "I'm a bad employee" or "I neglect my children".  Because that's what the asker really meant in the first place.  Mature?  No, but we don't always have to be.

Motherhood is challenging.  No doubt.  My house isn't always clean, my kids aren't always wearing matching socks, and I don't always feel rested.  Ok, just about never.  However, as true as it is that woman can't "have it all", it is equally true that they can have fulfilling, successful lives that they should be proud of.  In her widely controversial book Lean In, Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to lean into their careers and speak up on issues of women's rights, in order to enact overall positive change for women, both working and nonworking.  One of the most poignant portions of her book is when she points out that there are almost no positive portrayals of working women in popular media.  Working moms are almost always portrayed as frazzled, unhappy, and generally slipping away from their dreams.  True?  Maybe.  The bigger issue though is that with no role models to the contrary, the implicit cultural acceptance is that this is how it should be.  

Postcards like this one, while funny, are a subtle jab against those that do make their own crafts and reindeer treats.  Or any other fulfilling activity that falls outside the stereotype of the frazzled exhausted mom.  We all feel like this on some days.  I'm not condemning those that post these at all, but how about some postcards thrown up on our Facebook pages about the GOOD stuff, too?  Much harder to find....

Last night I was watching Grey's Anatomy (go ahead and judge if you must - there's that word again!).  In last night's episode, new mom Meredith Grey returns to work full time, only to miss an important surgery because her daughter fell in daycare and needed stitches.  Something I can relate to given recent events around here.  Her best friend Cristina Yang then tells her in a very well written speech that, while they started out walking down the same path, Meredith has made the choice to become a mother along the way, has stepped back from her career, and is therefore no longer as a good a surgeon as Cristina.  Cristina's character has actively chosen her career over parenthood many times, and is subsequently still the top of her game.

Were my choices the right ones?
Meredith then goes home and has an epic freak out to her husband that the tea party she planned for her child didn't happen, and that she missed her surgery because her husband didn't answer his phone when their daughter was hurt.  Her husband yells back that he never asked her to give up her career for parenthood, which is of course bull*t because his actions forced her into the choice.

I have mixed feelings about this plotline for Meredith.  Katrina Alcorn, who wrote the counterpoint of Lean In, "Maxed Out - American Moms on the Brink" and www.workingmomsbreak.com, would probably say that this is a truthful, realistic portrayal of the character's life.  Alcorn encourages mothers to "push back" in their careers and lives, and to reject the cultural pressures of perfection that are placed on motherhood.  However, where realistically more young women are watching Grey's than the evening news, it would have been nice to show Meredith continuing to succeed instead of taking a fall.  Instead, the writers chose to reinforce the idea that mothers have to give up their dreams in order to be good parents.

In summary, I'd ask mothers to do two things.  First, ditch the hating.  Every mother parents differently, lives differently, and has a different set of challenges than you do.  So stop the judging, the gossip, and the constant measuring of how you perceive someone else's life against your own.  It's time mothers celebrated each others accomplishments and their own, instead of tearing each other down for them.  And for the love, please stop asking people, "How do you do it all?"

Second, be the best role model you can for your children.  Boys and girls.  Pursue that which makes you happy, whatever it is.  Let them see you as a happy, fulfilled, complete and multi-faceted person, rather than "just a mom" (a horrible phrase that should be removed from our vocabulary).  Make the time for yourself to do the things you love.  Take care of your body.  Take care of your spirit.  If you work, know that you are setting an example to your children on how to be self sufficient.  If you stay home, know you are teaching self sacrifice and nurturing to your children.  Be proud of what you do, whatever it is.  Be the woman that you hope your daughter will grow up to be, or that your son might want to marry.  Your life did not end when you pushed out those bundles of joy - it became deeper, more complex, but no less meaningful.  You did not become less worthy of success in whatever form that takes for you.  So celebrate yourself and go out and encourage others to do the same. Changing society's perception of successful mothers starts from the ground up - from mothers themselves.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Krazy Kitty Kardio

It has come to my attention that I am becoming a crazy cat woman.  In my defense, sitting with one of my cats in my lap has been my primary occupation lately.  One kitty especially is super affectionate and follows me everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  This is the cat that has hopped in the shower with me.  I found her dumped out in a parking lot when she was a kitten and I was 7 months pregnant with my first.  She's not left my side since.

I will follow you.... wherever you may go....

However, some friends have voiced concern for my mental health after the zillionth photo posting.  So - I will try to knock that off.  The for the record, my cats rock and are better than most people I've ever met.  So.  Crazy cat woman speak?  Uh oh.....

I've been on crutches a week and a half, coming up on three weeks since injury.  Yesterday morning I was hemming and hawing on seeing a podiatrist.  I called my doctor back with some follow-up questions (like how long is this bloody thing gonna take to start to feel better???) and they of course refused to talk to me.  They referred me to a podiatrist, who also was not down with answering simple questions over the phone.  I'd need to come in for an office visit.  Hurrah the US medical system.  So after much consideration I sucked it up and made the appointment.  I needn't have worried - the first available appointment isn't until November. The irony of a 3 week delay while simultaneously telling me that I really do need to be seen was lost on the nurse that made the appointment.  Anyway...

I went back to furiously googling for answers, and found an article encouragingly called "Healing a Metatarsal Stress Fracture Quickly".  Yes!  That! Enough of this patient waiting - I want results!  And despite Boss Scarecrow's assurances that I can work from home for as long I need, I want to get back to my life.

The article highlighted a three-pronged approach, the goal of which to increase blood flow to the area.  Which kind of makes sense to me - between the CAM boot and compression socks, I've had moments wondering if my foot actually hurts or is just squeezed to the point of losing feeling.  Heat instead of ice, regular exercise, and using a TENs unit for 30 minutes 2-3 times a day.  I actually own a TENs unit (long story).  It stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.  It's a little gismo with 2-4 electrodes that you attach to your skin and it runs an electrical current through the affected area.  It feels kind of like miniature hamsters running around under your skin.  The idea is that it does the same thing as the super expensive Bone Stimulators that professional athletes get to use, but with a DIY twist.  So I dug that puppy up and zapped myself three times yesterday.

TENS unit
I also begged the Jedi to haul our old folding reclining bike up from the basement.  Since Becoming A Triathlete I've scorned this contraption, and all reclining stationary bikes, as being too easy.  Not relevant to training.  I imagine perfectly made up coeds pedaling slowly on them while reading Elle magazine and scanning the gym for cute guys to ask out.  BUT out with the attitude, because I did actually use this machine to lose 20 lbs 2 years back, AND it has the benefit of being almost complete non-weight bearing on my foot.

My new friend
With all resolve to start slowly, I did only 25 minutes yesterday, with the boot on.  It feels a little weird.  After weeks strapped in a walking cast, any muscle movement in my foot feels, well, weird (must buy a thesaurus).  But not painful.  Working out felt so good.  My head felt clearer that it has in weeks.  I remembered what it was to sweat!
Pedaling with da boot

This morning after my obligatory coffee, I dressed straight into workout gear.  I haven't even opened that drawer of my dresser lately - it makes me sad.  Not today!  Hello Sports Bras!!  I even strapped on my Pear HRM and did another 30 minutes.  So happy I added 20 minutes of strength work (upper body) on the ball with dumbbells.  Hitting the pool tomorrow during my little guy's swim lesson.

Blurry pic of very happy me - taken by my 4 year old

Now the challenge is to not overdo.  I woke this morning for the first time with no pain in my foot.  Even pressing on the bone doesn't hurt.  No pain meds so far today (another concern - how long can I take these things before I turn into one of the suburban wife addicts that they write drama series about?).  It feels like progress.  Now, like everything else, I just need to keep it going and not mess it up....

I'm sure the kitties will help keep me on track.

Rest mom.  Rest.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wishing on Milkweed & Acorn Wreath Tutorial

I am not in the mood to write.  When I'm feeling down (and I don't want to whine), even extrovert me tends to get quiet, hide in the closet, and wait to feel better.  Kind of a "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" mentality.  BUT a training buddy / friend saw one of the very many crafts I've been posting to Facebook, and asked me to write a tutorial for it in this blog.  It is neither triathlon nor baking related, but.... here it goes anyway.  I'll cut right to the tutorial chase and save the philosophic ramblings for later on in this post.

Acorn Wreath

For this craft, you will need a glue gun with a LOT of glue, some heavy duty wire, a foam wreath frame from a craft store (mine was about 9 inches around with a 2 inch diameter - green foam.  from the florist section), some silk leaves (or real if you prefer) and a giant bag of acorns.

I've been trying to get out of the house at least once a day.  Like many breeds of large, hyperactive dog, I apparently need to be walked and exercised in order to be happy.  Mommy is a Dalmatian.  Fresh air fixes almost anything (temporarily).  Yesterday's outing was to a local farm for a gorgeous hayride, to get mini-pumpkins for pumpkin spiders, and to the bike path so that the little biker dude could get in some miles that he's been desperately campaigning for.  
On the hayride
 The spot we parked at the bike trail was under some giant oaks trees.  The little girl still has no interest in biking, and since Mommy can't run with her, the plan was to crutch over to the nearest bench and sit keeping me company while Daddy chased the little man on foot.  Seeing the hundreds of acorns on the ground, I grabbed a bag from the car and we set to work instead.  If any of the many people that passed us thought it was odd to see a five year old and a full grown woman on crutches sitting in the dirt collecting acorns, they didn't say so.  Once the boys got back, more collecting ensued.  We got hundreds.

Before you can craft with acorns, it's important to dry them, so that any critters living in there don't come out to play once you've work them into crafts.  So - to dry spread in a single layer on a towel for an hour or so.  Then place in sheet pans, single layered, in a 175 degree oven for at least an hour and a half.  Leave the oven door open a crack so that moisture can escape, and stir them every so often so they don't burn.

Got enough?

Once they have cooled, they are ready to use.  Today is our Farmer's Market day, so the Jedi is furiously baking for the morning and then gone the rest of the day.  Girl child goes to half day kindergarten, but the little guy is around all day, and since Mommy is present, is completely underfoot and incapable of entertaining himself.  So I set us up in the playroom craft table for the morning.

Kid wreath version - Elmers and foam wreath
We both started with wreathes.  For him, an orange "wreath" of foam stuff and regular glue, and for me the florist green foam wreath and the hot glue gun.  Putting together the wreath could not be more simple.  Glue the acorns to the wreath.  That's it.  I started out in the inside - applying a small section of glue along the inner edge and sticking on a few acorns (with no caps) at a time.  Working outward until the entire wreath was covered. Offset the acorns in a "honeycomb" pattern so that as much of the foam is covered as possible.  Be generous with the glue - I went through several sticks.

Gluing on the acorns

 As always, kids and hot glue guns don't mix well, so make sure you keep an eye on both when they are adjacent.  Once the wreath is covering in acorns, I hot glued on some silk fall leaves and berries that were part of a garland I had lying around.  You could use fall ribbon, burlap, or any other kind of accent you like.  Wrap the heavy duty wire around the top and twist it into a loop to hang.  That's it - easy!!

So yes, I've been doing a lot of crafting.  Still can't drive, and I'm off work this week.  I tend to measure each day by what I've accomplished, so it's hard to not feel like a total waste of space when I'm not working, training, walking, driving... etc.  Crafting gives me some quality time with the kids (which I never have enough of), and the feeling of having something tangible at the end of the day to say, "Look what I did!!"  I like to hang my stuff right up there next to the kiddos'.  It also keeps the kids entertained at least momentarily so that the Jedi can see to the running of the house, the business, and every other useful thing around here, in addition to his laid up wife.  Awesome.   The feasibility of "resting" while entertaining a four and five year old is a whole other line of discussion.... one that I think if I get into here would take lots of space.

Building a teepee in the yard

I mentioned I'm feeling pretty down.  This afternoon I was outside with the kids doing a photo scavenger hunt. (A brilliant idea - you give the kids cameras and send them racing all over the yard to take pictures of clues and then come back to show Mommy).  One of the clues was a milkweed plant.  I showed the kids how to open them up and release the fluff on the wind.  How to make a wish.  My daughter asked me to make a wish - my first one was, of course, "I wish my foot would get better".  But then I thought about all that I do have in my life, and what kind of example I wanted to set.  When she gave me my next wish, I wished that someone else out there who needed a wish more than I do - that their wish would come true. (bad grammar - did you follow?) We tossed up the rest of the pod's wishes for sick children to get better, for people who lost their jobs to find new ones, for hungry people to get food, and many more.   Because really, those are the people that need the milkweed wishes.  Not me with all of my blessing and not my kids who have so much.  Lessons in gratitude.

Other craftiness the Cupcake Triathlon team has done lately:

Painting acorns
  • Painting acorns.  Have your kid hold them by their tops and paint the bottoms.  You can go back and draw faces.
Mini-pumpkin spiders
  • Pumpkin monsters & spiders.  Use pipe cleaners, craft foam, and google eyes to make mini pumpkins and gourds into spiders and other creepy crawlies.

  • Trick-or-treat bags.  Let your kid decorate his own cloth trick-or-treat bag with glow in the dark puffy paint.
  • Yet more Halloween cake pop designs.  Dip round cake balls in orange and add a green sunflower "stem" for pumpkins.  Form cake balls into cone shapes and triple dip in yellow, orange, and white or chocolate, orange, and white to make candy corn pops.  Make the mummies by dipping in white chocolate then drizzling more white chocolate all over while spinning the pop to make bandages.  Press in mini chocolate chip eyes.
Oh mummy....

Gypsy asked me the other day when we delivered her celebration cake for finishing her first half marathon if I was out for the 70.3 next year.  I told her that honestly, quitting it had never occurred to me based on this injury.  Upon further contemplation, it very well may be that I never run all 13.1 miles.  My body seems to hate running - I cannot stop getting injured.  This season I went from a non-runner, to a 12 minute miler, to a 9:30 minute miler in 6 months.  I was so close to being able to pace Gypsy and Hummingbird (who crushed her own 10K race yesterday) that I could taste it.  Letting go of that dream, at least for this season, is hard. It is hard to know that I'll be starting so far back when I am cleared to run again.  I want to work out - swimming or cycling, but just crutching around has me exhausted most days.  I'm still taking some hefty pain meds - I went to bed at 8 last night and didn't sleep until midnight because of the pain in my foot.  It is hard not knowing what to do.  But I have faith that I will see the other side of this particular injury.  In the meantime, I hope I will have the presence of mind and fortitude to be grateful, patient, and keep wishing on milkweed.
Congratulations Gypsy!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Send in the Clowns

Elephant paints a picture at the pre-show
Friday we had tickets to see the circus (Ringling Bros).  We got them ages ago.  True to form, Friday morning I had an epic freak-out that my foot still hurt.  Yes, I was panicking because broken bones hadn't magically healed in two weeks.  I called Mom, called the doctor (who never responded), and then resorted to the ultimate medical diagnostic technique - polling my triathlon group on Facebook.  Some tears, responses, and some medicine later I settled back into the realization that it is going to take weeks for this to heal.  My main frustration is the MD didn't give me any timeline, so I am essentially feeling my way about when it is ok to stop using crutches, stop wearing the boot, etc.  Which on some days (like today) it doesn't hurt at all and I'm ready to go.  On other days, it feels awful.  Mood swings ensue.

Despite my tantrum and anxiety about leaving the house, come lunchtime we headed out to the Worcester DCU center.  We got there and hour and a half early for the pre-show, where you can go check out the animals in their enclosures and then go into the main arena to dance with the clowns, watch an elephant paint a picture, and bounce in a giant bouncy house if you are under 48 inches tall.

Memorizing pattern for later....
I got a truly impressive workout walking on my crutches (crutching?) around the DCU center.  Forget biking or swimming - just chasing two hyperactive kiddos around a stadium is a great workout for your arms, hands, and core.  I'm still sore!!

The show itself was amazing.  Magical.  My heart was in my throat for the aerialists, the acrobats, and especially the motorcycles in the steel ball.  Oh my goodness.  I wanted to call the mother of all those performers and say "Your child is not being safe!!"  At one point the girl child looked over at me and said, "Don't be afraid Mommy - it's not real."  This from the child who insists that her imaginary friends are real.  Might have to work on that...

Cotton candy
We spent more on cotton candy and popcorn than our tickets cost.  The vendor calling out $20 glowing swords and light up toys that spin nearly made my children explode with frustration when I repeatedly told them the Mommy had no more money.  Clearly the purpose of these people is to torture children and their parents.  But the show itself was a once in a lifetime experience.  Loved the big cats (we are currently trying to train our two housecats to do the same.  It's not going well).  Loved the trained puppies in dragon costumes, the Shaolin warriors, the acrobats that launched from a seesaw into towers five people high.  Dancers riding horses.  It was truly amazing.  We went out to dinner afterwards and it was all in all a really nice family day - something that was sorely (pun intended) needed.

And the elephants!!

The circus was timely for the following day's cake - a jungle themed baby shower cake.  I wanted to do Zebra print for one of the tiers, so I payed special attention to the tiger stripes at Ringlings.  I was still high with the circus buzz while decorating.  I am very grateful for my cake business / hobby - even when I'm broken I have something else that brings me so much joy.  A lot of the time the cake biz feels like work, but this cake was for a friend and was so much fun!  I decided to snap some pictures to make a tutorial while I worked.

Zebra Print Fondant Tutorial

  • Roll out white fondant per usual, to nearly the size you need for your cake.  We use homemade marshmallow fondant, but commercial is fine too.  We also use the Sweetwise Mat for all our fondant covered cakes - while not necessary, it is a fabulous tool and makes the whole process much easier.  (I am not affiliated with Sweetwise in any way - I just like their product).

  • Remove the top sheet of the mat, if using.  Roll small rolls of black fondant (make sure to taper the ends of each roll) radiating out from the center in a zebra striped pattern.

  • Once all your rolls are in place, put the top sheet back on and press firmly with your hands.
  • Roll out the stripes, always starting your pin in the middle and rolling outwards.  Do not roll in any other direction than out!
  • If using the mat, turn the fondant sheet over and remove the BOTTOM layer.  If rolling out without the mat, very carefully roll up your sheet and turn it over.

  • Drape the fondant, striped side up, over your cake.
  • Fit the fondant to the sides of your cake, smoothing, lifting, and stretching, per usual.  Be gentle - even if the black stripes are firmly rolled into the white, they may try to separate a little if pulled too much.
  • Once fitted and smooth, trim the bottom edge and continue with the cake!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Aiming for Square 1

I see that you're still in your pajamas....

People talk about the stages of injury.  First there is denial.  You pretend there's not something wrong, or that it isn't that bad.  "I'm wearing a boot, but I can still do two hours of hard garden work!"  I checked that off the list early last week, before I went to the doctor.  Then bargaining. "If I stay in this boot and it doesn't hurt for three days, that means the doctor was wrong and I can run again."  I still indulge this somewhat.

My faithful nurse
Then depression.  This is where I've been firmly parked the last several days.  Parked with the cat in my lap. Cursing the rainy weather for being depressing, and the nice weather for rubbing it in that I can't work out outside among the gorgeous fall leaves in New England.  I've been staying up later and later to watch The Next Great Baker on Netflix and sleeping in to match.  No morning workouts.  My commute consists of rolling out of bed and turning on my work computer.  Which makes it easy for the clock to strike 4 in the afternoon before I realize I haven't even left my bedroom, much less showered.  It's very flattering.

The next stage is supposed to be Coping.  Or Acceptance.  That stage where you absorb the fact that your injury is real, stop shoving chocolate chips in your face like it's your job, and start making positive choices again.  I've had a few false starts with this.  I spent all of Tuesday without pain killers (not worth it).  I am really trying to use my crutches even though I can walk some with the boot before it starts to really hurt.  I refilled my supplements tray with all the vitamins I usually take while training.  (Maybe calcium is still important when regrowing bone?)

But I knew I needed to do more.  Preferably more involving less time under the furry friend and more time doing something vaguely athletic.  So that when I am cleared to go again, I'm only starting at Square 1 instead of Square 0. Because truthfully, the second metatarsal is at the very very end of one small part of my body.  An important part, but still - the rest of me could be doing something.  So I'm happy to report that I've completed my first - post boot workout!!

Working It Out - Boot Style

Very tough selfie to take
I had Jedi pump up the balance ball again and grabbed my yoga mat and weights.  Focusing on stretching, upper body, and core.  I did all upper body work on the ball, because I like the added challenge of stabilizing in the core while working on a specific muscle group.

Upper body: 

  • Chest press in bridge position with shoulders on the ball
  • Fly in bridge position with shoulders on the ball
  • Seated bicep curls
  • Overhead triceps press
  • Seated row
  • Pushups on the ball from kneeling (*this is a lot harder than it sounds)
Boot UP!!!!


  • The 100 (pilates)
  • Regular crunches
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Twisted crunches (knees to either side to get the obliques)
  • Leg lifts (extra hard with a boot!)
  • Bird-Dog (on all fours, extend opposite leg and arm)


  • The Saw (sit straight up, legs hip width apart.  Reach and "saw off" you toe with your opposite hand)
  • Hamstring stretch with a band.  Drop down to the knee and reach through to stretch the back of the leg
  • Cobra
  • Keep those hamstrings stretchy....
  • Side stretch while cross-legged.
Two sets of 15 reps each for the strength moves, and my arms and legs are shaking!!  It feels good to be "back".  Even if "back" is only a short set on my bedroom floor.  My plan is to repeat this 3x per week for as long as this boot is on.  I'll slowly add in swimming and walking on alternate days.  With luck, I'll be able to run the Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving!!

On the subject of squares, Hummingbird is taking pity on me and getting me out of the house tonight.  We are going to a local nursery (plants not babies) to make a holiday centerpiece.  Our first time working together and it's not cake!  Who'd have thought??  I am unreasonably excited at the chance of getting out of the house.  Yay!!!

What Hummingbird and I are making.  Grown-up craft time!