Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MS Walk

I took part in a 5K walk to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society this past Saturday. I like to do my part to help a cause if I can, and in the past my efforts have gone to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. I was a team captain for 4 years. It was tons of work, but rewarding and fulfilling as well.

Last year I didn't do Relay for Life (I think I had a bit of team captain burn-out) although I attended the event and supported it in that way, so this year I was ready to jump back into a fundraising cause.

Me and my sister

My sister suffers from MS. She was diagnosed about 8 years ago. She has had to go on permanent disability and takes weekly injections of a drug that seems to keep it somewhat under control. I know there is a lot she deals with in her fight with this disease, but she mostly keeps it all to herself and doesn't complain.

The girls, me, my sister, and my walk partners: Dave and Suey my dog

When I found out there was a walk to raise money for MS I was really excited and signed up to attend the walk in my sister's town. I decided to raise money as an individual (instead of on a team), and was actually one of the top earners of the event. Woo-hoo! It is hard to thank people enough for sponsoring me so generously in this economic climate. A lot of donations were made out of love and support of my sister by her dear friends.

crazy girls

My brother-in-law accompanied me on the walk and we left my sister in charge of Nat and Moo. I was really thrilled that Dave wanted to accompany me, and it was really nice to have someone to walk with (besides my trusty mutt). It was a beautiful day, a very successful event and a worthy cause.

MS has also touched our family as my Uncle Bill died from complications of it, and my kids' great grandmother also suffered from it. They have found no reason to believe it to be hereditary, but certain genetic links seem to make one more susceptible. More info can be found at NMSS website.

I encourage everyone to find a cause to fight for, whatever it may be. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Califoniprocrastination (or Procrastination California Style)

I am one of those spoiled, uppity Californians with the attitude of "oh I can do/see/go there anytime" so I never get around to actually going, doing or seeing the great sights of California. Which is exactly why the last time I went to Yosemite I was 5 years old. Dang near 40 years ago people. The clincher being that I only live 2 hours away. I am completely ashamed of myself.

Well, luckily I got a chance to remedy my uppity Californistic attitude recently when Sis asked me to chaperone a field trip to Yosemite with her geology class. For me, I jumped at the chance to accompany Sis on one last school field trip before she graduates (I'm getting very nostalgic as the big day nears). I really didn't care where we were going (Cali attitude again). The main thing I was worried about was camping at that elevation in April. I generally don't camp in April. It still gets way too cold at night for my liking.

At any rate we left early Sunday morning. As luck would have it there were two vans that the kids rode in, and one car which happened to be Sis' boyfriend's parents, so I got to ride with them. No obnoxious teenagers to be cooped up with. Hooray.

The memories I have of being 5 in Yosemite differ quite a bit from the memories I made during my recent trip. As a 5 year old I was thrilled at getting to ride in grandma and grandpa's cab-over camper (even though I had a nasty fall off the bunk during the drive). I remember driving through the tunnels and camping with all of my cousins and aunts and uncles. I remember seeing a bear going through someone's camp in broad daylight and I do remember some of the sights, but it didn't awe me like it did this time around.

As a 44 year old, I came home with memories of getting soaked at Bridalveil Falls, hiking to Mirror Lake (where most of the kids jumped in to swim in the melted snow water), seeing the rubble from the most recent rock slide, looking up at El Capitan and spotting a minuscule climber, marveling at how picturesque Half Dome is, walking up to Yosemite Falls and being in awe of the power of falling water, listening to bears rattling the bear-proof food lockers during the night, and best of all hanging out with my daughter to enjoy all this with. Even the weather cooperated by being unseasonably warm for April. I couldn't have asked for more.

In fact, I started planning my next trip to Yosemite after I'd been in the valley all of 5 minutes. I want to go there again soon. I'm thinking maybe even as soon as next month. I can not believe that I haven't made the effort to go there sooner. I am really kicking myself. To think people come from all over the world to see this incredible place and I couldn't be bothered to make a short drive. Well, never again will I wait 40 years to experience Yosemite (or anything else for that matter). I just changed my attitude!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

There Was A Crooked (wo)Man

Yesterday I had to get a physical at a physical therapy center to qualify for a food service substitute at our local school district.

It was kind of silly really. They determined my body fat, gave me a 3 minute step test, a hand grip test, tested my flexibility bending forward and sideways, made me lift a certain amount of weight, and had me transfer 20 paper clips from one container to another as well as pick a pen 20 times, along with many other little tests. I think the district could better use their money elsewhere, really. And if I was in charge of testing employees I think I'd rather spend money on a drug test than have potential employees spend 2 hours with a physical therapist picking up paper clips and answering questions.

At any rate, the PT pointed out that I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine). I told her I knew that, but the first time it was ever pointed out to me was by my midwife 7 years ago when I was pregnant with Nat during my prenatal physical.

As an aside, due to my "advanced maternal age" with Nat, I went 3 times to an OB specialist for level 2 ultrasounds. Each visit they would tell me that my due date was 3 weeks later than my midwife's date and they told me they were "officially" changing my due date. Then I would go back to Ellie, my midwife, and tell her and she would feel my belly and say, "No, the baby is right on schedule and will be on time." Guess what? Nat was born the day after the midwife's due date weighing in at 8 pounds. Technology vs. a midwife's knowledgable hands, and the hands won.

I remember getting yearly scoliosis screenings at school, but no one ever mentioned that I had it.Very strange. I do know that it has always bothered me how on one side I have the regular curvy indentation at my waist but my other side is completely straight. She also pointed out that on my left side there is only a couple inches of space between my ribs and my hip.

I guess there are exercises that could help. All I need is a referral from my doctor (and insurance and money and all that), so that has kind of piqued my interest and I've been doing some online searching instead. Who needs pricey physical therapy sessions when you have the internet, right?

I was also struck as soon as I walked into the office that it would be interesting to be a PT. I was really intrigued by it all and I've always loved fitness and learning exercises and everything. I wonder if it's too late to look into it as a career. Hmmmm....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This Was Spring Break

I love Spring Break or "Easter Break" as the kids' school principal accidentally called it on the Friday before it started at the school assembly. (Oh man remember the days when we had Christmas and Easter vacations from school? Those were the days. Poor principal will probably lose his job over this. Ooops!)

Anyway, anytime I get to do nothing but hang with my kids is the greatest time on earth, so spring break is fantastic and "Winter Break" is twice as fantastic ('cause it's twice as long of course!)

I didn't really have any money to spend but that didn't deter us from planning a quick trip to The City to see Bub and Cass, and a little jaunt to see my dad, sister and bro-in-law the following day. As luck would have it, the weekend before our trip I was the only busser to show up on Friday night (meaning I worked myself senseless but made bank in tips) and the following night I actually got to waitress plus we had no bussers, so I got to keep all my tips. Very fortuitous indeed.

Cass' roommate works at the Academy of Sciences in SF and she so generously got us all in free as her "family". Nice. Beyond nice. And the Academy of Sciences was fantastic. Especially the planetarium, and the rain forest, and the aquarium and the whale skeleton and the chameleon...ok, it was all fantastic. Wow.

Moo, Nat, Sis and her boyfriend Trav who was looking good all color-coordinated in purple
On the "Living Roof". Is it just me, or does this look suspiciously like Tele-Tubbyland?
It is flippin' hot in the rain forest!

Gorgeous fish

Nat got tired of walking so Moo gave her a lift

Because we were traveling in "economy mode" I made deviled eggs and cupcakes for snacks and brought a chicken curry casserole for dinner. My niece gave me the recipe for the casserole and I made it having never tasted it before. Thankfully it was so good. If it was bad I was going to blame it on her, but since it was delicious I took all the credit. (Just kidding!)

We even made a quick trip to Union Square where my poor son was a pack mule for Cass as she shopped. What a good sport he is.

The kids played Rock Band. What a cool game.

And because my son works at Godiva (I'm not sure I've bragged about this enough) I got to sample two truffles before they were released in the Godiva stores. One was milk chocolate and peach the other dark chocolate and mango. The mango was definitely my favorite. I was feeling pretty special about that...I'm not gonna lie.

The next day we went to the mall where Bub works and I had to embarrass him by taking his picture in front of his store. (Notice how I call it "his" store?) And his manager twisted our arm and made us pick out a truffle. What torture.

On to visit my dad (who is doing so much better than at Christmastime--it's good to see him all chatty again, even if he is all gloom-and-doom-the-world-is-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket. That's just dad for ya.) where my sister and brother-in-law brought gorgeous baskets for the girls.
On Friday I treated the girls to Panda Express (oh, the orange chicken...drool...), and as they sat there enjoying their food I looked at my watch and realized that we needed to get moving and fast if we were to make it home in time for me to get to work. Make it we did, and I had just enough time to unload my car, throw on my work clothes and go (seriously 5 minutes).

Ahhh...spring break. Easter is a whole 'nuther post.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Big Ghoul

Today Nat announced that she's finally "officially a big ghoul". She still can't say her R's so "girl" comes out "ghoul".

She has been working for the past couple of weeks on shoe tying (at the encouragement of all of us who are tired of tying her dang shoes umpteen times a day), and she has finally mastered it.

She named off all the other things that she has done on her way to becoming a "big ghoul". Wearing underwear, taking care of herself, riding a two-wheeler, and now the shoe tying. Yep, that covers it. It's definitely official.

Apparently pronouncing your R's is not on the "big ghoul" list, but that's ok, I want to hear her sweet little girl voice for as long as possible.