31 January 2008

Well now *that* was interesting.

I have just spent most of the day having my heart examined. yep, it's still there.

I had been having mild chest pains for a week, but this morning, it seemed worse, and I started noticing that the pain was radiating out to my shoulder and I was getting tingling in my face and hands. That didn't seem like a good sign.

the pain was my right shoulder, and that didn't seem likely to be heart ... and the pain was still mild. But, well, it was achey enough that I couldn't quite forget it and get some work done.

Then I saw Jack's face in front of me, and I knew I had to get it checked out.

I was pretty sure it was nothing, but at my age...maybe that's not a chance to take when I have a "young" family counting on me. After all, if I die or am disabled, we won't be able to afford the lifestyle we have now and we probably won't be able to afford to continue homeschooling. The thought was just heartbreaking.

So, off I went.

I have been examined pretty thoroughly, and while they have not managed to identify the source of the chest pains, nor made them go away, they have tentatively ruled out cardiac involvement. (I have some more tests scheduled and some appointments with specialists, but I am back at work rather than in ER, so I think we're good.)

Middle age is such fun ...

But this is, again, more incentive to get my butt out onto the track again. I have a lot riding on my health!

They grow so fast, part one...

This is my firstborn, TJ. Isn't he cute?

This photo was taken in 1981.

He's grown up a bit since then -- now he's the Pappa of two equally beautiful babies, Bella and Leo.
This photo was taken in late 2004.

It's amazing to me that my very first baby could possibly be nearly 30!

And yet, he has grown up to be a marvelous man I am very proud of...he has made a much more successful family for his children than his father and I were able to create for him. Not because it's easy for him, but because he and his partner, Wanja, have the strength of will to make it so in spite of the hard times.

TJ lives in Sweden, where it's very hard to get work, and relatively easy to sit back and let the government take care of you. But TJ isn't happy to do that. He has worked hard to find a niche for himself, and he works hard every day that he can get work. His reputation is spreading, and he has hopes of one day soon finding himself a job that he can work at full time and permanently.

And best of all? He's still amazingly cute. ;)

30 January 2008

Nothing much to say ...

I am having thyroid dosage trouble again and I'm exhausted by the time work is done...

I am, however, tickled that we're expecting as much as 10 inches of snow!

26 January 2008

Teaching kids to be happy!

In my wanderings through the blogosphere, I often click "open in a new window" when i come across a link that looks interesting.

As I was closing down my computer a few days ago, I found this page open -- and I was delighted to fins that it contains concise scientific explanations for and research backing, some of the things that Rod and i have learned through hard-won experience, intuition, and observation.

Although I am not a big fan of video-blogging, (Mark says I am almost Amish in my approach to technology...maybe, but I also find words easier to focus on when I can see them. My ears don't work so good!) I am most impressed with the videos down the right side of the page. I though "Focus on Effort" and "Teaching Gratitude" were especially insightful, though I found them all worthwhile.

It's so nice to have science back me up once in a while! *grin*

25 January 2008

Fitness Update

Sadly, I have little to report on this.

Remember back when I commented that I really needed to get back to walking? Never did. The only part that I have stuck with is that I park at the far end of the parking lot, so I walk 1/4 mile to and from the car. And I suppose it could be significant that in the current temperatures, I am walking at a good clip.

Still, I felt so much better for the many months when I was walking a lot that I really do still want to get back to it.

I just got some more incentive this afternoon, too.

My hbA1c is up top 6.3 from the 5.0-5.5 that I prefer and my cholesterol is still in ned of work. My total is 198, which I consider just fine (though my doctor disagrees), but my LDL is 139, as opposed to the 100 I think it should be, and my HDL is way too low. Currently it's at 34 and I want it up to at least 60. That imbalance suggests a systemic inflammation. Of course some of that would be my totally irresponsible (and utterly fun) holiday indulgance. ;)

But while returning to eatign better (fewer cookies) will help a lot, walking also helps.

Work is busier than I think I have ever been, but I just ahve to work out a time that I can walk again.

20 January 2008

a trip to the botanical gardens

Last Sunday (yeah, I've been slow to get to blogging it) Grandpa John came with us to visit the Matthai Botanical Gardens.

TJ and Corey and I used to go there and we referred to it as "visiting summer", because we usually went in the winter.That was, of course, in the days when there were few places indoors for kids to play so winter was long and cold and visiting summer was extremely welcome come about the middle of February.

On this trip, we saw many of my old favorites - -we saw a chocolate tree, a banana tree, and an orange tree. We found a rosemary bush and a bay laurel ... is that a tree or a bush? The camellias were beautiful, as were the orchids.

We saw some meat eating plants, which Jack was pretty dubious about, even though all three of his adults assured him it was so.

We found a huge colony of rather large spiders over the fish pond -- I think we counted about a dozen of them! I pondered that I had never heard of social spiders...and Rod pointed out that the only thing a "colony" of spiders suggest is a lot of bugs. Sure enough, there were hundreds of tiny flying insects in the same area.

But hands down, Jack's favorite - -as was true for his older brothers before him, was the the pond of HUGE gold-fish! There are perhaps a half dozen gold fish in a cement "pond" in the middle of the gardens and since they have plenty to eat and no predators, they have passed the "gold fish" stage and made it all the way to "carp-dom".

Not only are they huge, but they're beautiful. Our favorite was a reddish gold with black spots, but there were also white and yellow ones and a reddish gold one without spots.

The plants were interesting and all, but the fish moved and seemed to be paying attention to him! That's far more satisfying to a young man, so once we reached that part of the conservatory, Jack was reluctant to move on.

Fortunately, it also made a lovely spot fold his elders to stop and rest our weary bones, so we didn't mind.

All in all, a lovely visit. We spent just over an hour at the conservatory and got warm through and saw many interesting thing ... and then we were off home for warm soup and conversation.


Catching up

Mark has been home for days and Rod and I have both been home-at-the-same-time for almost a week. It's been glorious!

I thought I'd be blogging a lot more once we were both home, but it gradually dawned on me why I hadn't been. Turns out that I have been a lot more interested in "doing" than in talking about it for a while.

Doing, we have been, though.

We have been baking and cooking, and cleaning and just generally nesting. It's been wonderful!

Jack and I have experimented with baking apple pies as a change from my endless fruit crisps. I don't have a lot of luck with pastry, so Rod is working on his pastry skills.

I have also been whipping up experimental biscuits, because they're tasty, easy, and can be whipped up very quickly when we want bread and haven't got any. Some of them have been stellar, some not so much, but all have been edible.

Between baked goods and soups, we've been cooking quite a bit and feeling content.

Slowly, slowly the house is coming together again, with the laundry nearly caught up and the tidying back to a reasonable state.

We even found the time to clean out both freezers. When we were done, we found that we actually have plenty of room to consider adding freezing to our "putting food by" projects. The side-by-side is pretty well stocked with the day-to-day food but other than a treasure trove of frozen cranberries and enough bones to keep us in broth for months, it' pretty much empty.

Our thought is to add berries and other fruit to out agenda next fall and then freeze them for later, but we're also looking for other things.

We've tried "cooking ahead" and that has gone very poorly. We haven't had a lot of luck with the texture of the food and so it ends up not being eaten so we're not entirely sure what to add.

Ahh well, I'm sure it'll come to us eventually.

14 January 2008

How My Boys Spend Their Days

Noticing has evolved since I last participated last autumn.

I had read about spending hours outdoors with kids every day and how good that is for them physically and emotionally, but I'll have to admit that I was perplexed about what one would do out there for hours when there was no gardening to do.

Lucky for Jack, Rod spent much of his early life close to the land and as his health has returned it has come naturally to him to spend time out of doors with Jack. When I inquired about what they do, he said something vague about "just potzing around". I wasn't sure what that meant. So, on Saturday, after I finished with my chores, I joined the boys in their noticing.

Now I know what Rod meant by "potzing". It *is* hard to describe. In the most general sense, I suppose one could call it "tidying up". Sticks and branches that had been blown down in recent storms are collected and tossed onto the main rabbit warren. Dead trees and bushes are pulled up to make room for more growth. But leaf buds are inspected and all kinds of interesting things are examined, and it's amazing how fast the time passes with "nothing happening".

I was left with a sense of deep, deep contentment that has lasted another two days.

I am so lucky to have Rod in my life. I am full of "good ideas", but without Rod, I would have no idea how to manifest them. Jack is a very fortunate boy to have his Dad to learn from!

03 January 2008

Jack: Nutrition Investigator

I hadn't really stopped to think how often I check the label of a packaged food until Jack started to read them to us at every turn. Any meal that includes a packaged food these days is punctuated by a small boy intoning "fat, five grams, carbohydrate three grams, calories 125 grams, sodium 25 milligrams.

Yep, food labels are important in our lives. We eat relatively few processed foods, and we always check the ingredients for trans fats, HFCS, and refined carbohydrates in deciding whether to buy one. But, of course, the nutrition facts grid is far easier to read, and so every label that Jack gets his hands on treats us to a dramatic reading. Of the entire label, mind you

Did you know that a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg contains 3 calories from an unspecified source? No, me neither. But Rod found Jack in the pantry reading the spice jars and baking ingredients after lunch this afternoon

All of this would be great, except that we haven't really started talking to him about what it all means yet and so Jack is figuring out what it all means all by himself, leading to some pretty interesting conclusions.

Because I have to watch my carbs so that I can balance them with fats and proteins to keep my blood sugar even, I comment on carbs pretty regularly. Unfortunately, Rod and I have developed a shorthand that leaves out a lot of assumptions and Jack seems to have picked up the idea that "carbs are bad". He read the maple syrup label this morning and wanted to forgo Dad's Perfect Pancakes simply because maple syrup is virtually all carbohydrate (...well, plus many minerals that they don't mention on the labels) and pancakes just aren't the same without maple syrup. Fortunately, his nose eventually won him over.

But clearly it's time to talk to him about food, balance, and what really matters in the food labels. Jack reads everything he can get his hands on these days and he can read at an early fourth grade level -- but he still has the life experience and understanding of a four year old. That can be dangerous if we don't help him to interpret what he's reading.

For example, Jack's misunderstanding of my caution about carbohydrate needs to be redirected for Jack to a wariness of refined carbohydrates. Until he's actually trying to moderate his diet to ease life for his own pancreas, limiting carbohydrate isn't appropriate.

If I don't move on it now, Jack is likely to pick up the current hysteria about fats. Fats are both good and necessary and I'd much rather he direct that concern into avoiding trans fats and hydrogenation. Those toxic pseudofoods really are worth avoiding.

Then again, I am very glad he is taking an interest in nutrition. It will serve him well in the years to come.

Investigating Fossils

Jack is on a roll with paleontology and zoology at the moment.

He's not distinguishing much, at the moment, between the two.

The leopard tortoise and the apatosaurus are equally interesting to him. But fossils hold still better than living moles and chipmunks, so they have an edge in holding a boy's attention.

Last night after dinner, he and Rod went through the bucket of fossils we dug up at fossil park last October to see if they could identify what we found.

There were quite a few pieces of Brachiopods, the occasional piece of horned coral, and one almost complete Trilobite.

Convincing Jack that these were neither rocks (exactly) nor living animals was a bit of a challenge, but he seems to be hard at work on classification, even though the concept of fossils and extinction are still very confusing to him. (This is tying it together for him that when we die, our bodies turn back to dirt, though. He speculated that Grandpa and Popjack must be rocks by now, bcause they have been gone so long.)

Jack has now moved some of the smaller, clearer fossils into a small box and has requested that we work on digging some of the others out of their bigger peices of rock, so I'm pretty sure we're not done with these fossils yet.

We want to stop in at Fossil Park again next June, just after they pour in the new rocks from the quarry. We hope to get some better (easier to recover) specimens. The the ones we got were from well-picked over rock and while they weren't bad, we're told the fresh rock results in some amazing specimens.

(Connor's Dad managed to find some of those -- but he is both more agile and more persistent than we are. )

Jack will probably have more fun with the actual excavation as he gets older -- especially if the fossils he finds are plentiful and more intact and thus more recognizable.

This homeschooling thing, even though at four, it mostly means following your child's whimseys,. is a LOT of fun. No reason this part couldn't be done with a schooled child...except that it never seemed to happen.

01 January 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone -- may 2008 be everything you were hoping it would be, and may it still hold a few wonderful surprises for you!

What a glorious evening and what a wonderful start to the new year!