Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Yesterday we had the kids at Idlewild for Hallowboo. It was fun even though the size of the crowd at the park was ridiculous. Jesse had spent the night before at Jennifer's so Dan and I could have a date night and he had stayed up hours past his usual bedtime playing and watching movies with Joseph. He didn't nap at the park and, while he did well all things considered, he was pretty whooped and cranky as all get out by the time we packed it up to go home.
Dan was pushing Simon in the stroller and Jesse insisted I carry him. I am still in a lot of pain from the car accident so I carried him a bit to appease him then I asked if I could put him down and could he walk and just hold my hand. He whined and cried and buried his head into my neck further.
A minute or two later I hurt too much to even continue walking let alone continue on carrying a 30 pound toddler. So I asked him again. He leaned back, looked me in the face and said, "Mom, I can't walk! My legs are too thirsty!"
Our destination? The Sewickley Car Store's BMW showroom for the VIP premiere party and showing of A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway. Rick Sebak was there, his camera dangling from his arm, documenting what had to be a proud evening for him. I don't think he stopped smiling all night. Dan kept saying Rick reminded him of someone and I told him, "It's Santa Claus. You can think and think and you'll come to the conclusion that it's Santa. There's never been a jollier fellow!"
The place was packed. Outside of a few directors from work and coworkers who were there to make sure things went off without a hitch, we didn't know a soul. We got drinks from the bar, sampled some hors doe'ouvres from Remo's (who also catered our wedding - yum!) and checked out the Porsches and BMWs that sat glistening, just tempting us to come have a seat. I saw some of the people I knew were featured in the film - Buddy Nutt and Brian Butko - I'd seen many pieces of the movie down in the editing room and on Rick's computer when I'd stopped to BS with him from time to time. I introduced myself to Rick's mom and his sister, Nisey, who I've heard so many stories about over the years.
Eventually the lights lowered and it was time for the movie to start after a brief speech from Rick. He was very excited. And rightly so - the film was wonderful! It was delightful, interesting, informative... I wanted to be sure to remember my favorite part to mention it specifically to Rick afterwards, but I ended up with too many favorites to mention them all! It was that good. The crowd laughed so much in certain parts I missed what was said next! I can't wait to watch it again! Dan, who isn't entirely into such things, had a smile on his face when it was over. Actually, I think everyone did considering the last segment of the movie - what a way to end it!
When it was over I sought out Rick to congratulate him. What a wonderful premiere! Then we bolted. We were starving! We headed to Sir Pizza where we never get to go. We were overdressed but the pizza was delicious and the drinks were good. It was the perfect end to a great night.
It was nice to spend some alone time with Dan. We definitely don't make the time for it like we should. We should try more often.
For more information on Rick's newest movie, follow the link above or check out A Blog Along the Lincoln Highway for fun and antics that happened along the way while taping the movie. Some of them made it into the film and others didn't. Either way, it's a good read. For another good read, here's Brian Butko's take on the evening. And Rick's blog is now updated with his version of the night.
A Ride Along the Lincoln Highway premieres on PBS at 8pm on Wednesday, October 29 (check your local listings). See you there!
Hot Tortilla Pie
Preheat oven to 450º.
Cook and shred 1-1½ pounds of boneless chicken.
Toss chicken, ½ cup salsa & 1 tsp cumin in skillet on low-medium and heat through.
In a minimum 9" pie plate (deep dish works best), layer:
¼ cup salsa
some of the chicken mixture
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
some salsa and cheese
another tortilla and so on…
Be sure to finish the layers with a tortilla and then ¼ cup salsa.
Cover with foil and bake 12 minutes.
Uncover and sprinkle ¼ cup cheese on then bake another 3 minutes uncovered.
Variations (I never make this dish the same way twice):
Rinse, drain and slightly mash beans (pinto are a good choice) insteadof chicken for a vegetarian meal.
Add 2 Tbs sliced jalapenos to beans or chicken mixture.
Toss in some low fat cream cheese when heating the chicken and cutback on the shredded cheese used.
Layer in frozen whole-kernel corn.
Once the pie is done, finish by sprinkling with fresh cilantro and/or ½ an avocado (peeled, seeded, and chopped) or top each slice with some sour cream.
Or make up your own variation and enjoy!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Ever since this stupid car accident, I have been in a cloud. These headaches are so distracting. I'm having trouble getting my work done, I can't remember my grocery list, I feel slow and sluggish. I cannot concentrate well. The pain is there when I am sitting but when I stand up it's blinding, dizzying, at times unbearable. I want them to go away!
This morning I watched the news to see how the weather would be. It was 69 degrees at 7 am but it is going to drop this afternoon. Ok, yay, I knew to take jackets to daycare so Dan will have them for the ride home. However, since that's what I focused on I didn't have enough memory space for much else. It's pouring outside and I forgot an umbrella, wore classic crocs with the holes in them, never even realized I didn't give Jesse his glasses (like I've given them to him every. single. morning. for more than 7 months now) until we got to Donna's and she asked, "Jesse! Where are your glasses?" I feel like a crappy mother.
I feel like my head is going to explode! When I come home from work and yet another chiropractor appointment, it's all I can do to nurse Simon, muddle through some dinner, painfully bathe the kids and then lie uncomfortably in bed while Simon nurses down. I lie there trying to think of the millions of tasks I need to do when he's finally asleep, but they pop into my head and then they are gone just as fast. My house is a disaster, I probably have overdue bills lying on my desk, mail is piling up on the dining room table...
I just want to feel better. I want to go back to the morning of October 6 and leave 2 minutes earlier or later so I wouldn't get hit by that other car. So I wouldn't have this pain in my neck, back and knee. So these headaches wouldn't be happening. I just want to feel better.
And I want dry socks.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
My friend, Leah, and I live a few hours away from each other. Our sons, Jesse and Henry, are 11 days apart and her daughter, Evelyn, is 3 months younger than my Simon. Leah and I try to meet up midway once or twice a year to visit with each other. We've had picnics in Clarion, gone shopping in Grove City, visited an animal park in Pymatuning (I think this was a favorite for the boys)... It's never enough though. When the day is done and we part ways, it's very sad.
A couple months ago, Leah asked if I could bring the boys to stay at their house for a long weekend. How fun! We planned for the trip and as it approached I can't tell you who was more excited to go, Jesse or me. Staying at someone else's home is extremely far outside my comfort zone, but my desire to see Leah and the kids was greater than my anxiety, so the trip was on.
The weekend before last, I took Friday off work, packed the boys up in the truck and hit the road. The drive was very pleasant once the rain stopped - across the beautiful countryside of PA with some of the leaves already changing, through quaint towns with gorgeous old Victorian homes, across sparkling waterways and through rolling mountains. It went a lot faster than I anticipated and the boys slept most of the way. Even when they woke and I stopped to nurse Simon, they weren't antsy or fussy. It was a great success!
I was beyond excited to arrive at Leah's house. Seeing Evelyn so healthy and chubby was awesome (she suffered a cardiac arrest in July due to an undiagnosed birth defect and underwent open heart surgery here at Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh, so the last time I saw her she looked very different)!
The boys were a touch standoffish with each other, but they warmed quickly. Leah lives in one of those amazing Victorian homes... her third floor is a ballroom! Gorgeous! I'm sure it's a pain to clean and heat, but it's the kind of house I love, the kind you imagine what it was like to live in way back when it was full of servants and the formalities of the times.
We had lunch and caught up while the boys played. Once Leah's husband, Chris, got home from work we had homemade pizzas for dinner and then the boys got a bath before bed. They were a blast together, just like peas and carrots! Oh, how I wish we lived closer!
On Saturday Leah made an excellent breakfast of waffles and bacon (Jesse was in heaven!) and later we all headed to a local Johnny Appleseed festival. The park where it was held had a great playground where the boys ran and played and climbed and just had a rip-roaring good time! Chris and Leah took Jesse for a while so I could sit and nurse Simon in a quiet spot. What a gorgeous fall day it was, sitting on a bench amidst the activity of a festival, nursing my beautiful boy in the shade. It was a moment.
That evening after the boys played more outside for a while we had a ham Leah had made in the crockpot (I need to start doing this, it was exceptional) and relaxed and enjoyed time together. All too soon the weekend was coming to an end and with it our time to be together.
Sunday, after I packed up all our crap and Leah whipped up a batch of banana muffins (seriously, she's like Super Mom or something), it was time to go home. I was very teary. Who knows when we will see each other again? The kids will be bigger, different. I missed Leah as soon as I drove away. I wish I had a good friend like her who lived closer.
The nicest thing about the weekend, besides spending time with friends I don't see often enough, was how relaxed everything was. Leah's house is like my own - the adults adapt to the schedules of the children, discipline is gentle, everyone respects everyone else. It was nice to spend time in another laid back home.
I hope that we see each other again soon. Before the babies are no longer babies at least. Thanks again for a wonderful weekend, Leah and family!
Friday, October 10, 2008
Jesse is 2.5 years old. He's 36" tall and weighs more than 30 pounds. Yet he's still rearfacing in his car seat in my Explorer. Why? The law states he only needs to rear face for a minimum of 12 months and 20 pounds. He passed that ages ago. Why is he still looking out the back window like his baby brother?
The short answer is that it's safer. By far. Even with his long legs folded up! I could get into all the details and statistics, but I'll let a very loving and concerned grandfather do that for me. Sadly, this man's story is all too common.
This was posted by a grandfather at one of my car seat boards. It is a very sad story indeed, and explains exactly why rear facing past the bare minimums is so important.
First, meet Joel:
PLEASE, for your childrens sake, consider leaving them in REAR-FACING (RF) car seats as longs as you can. Although it is "suggested" by many people and organizations, that you can turn them forward facing at 1 yr/20 lbs, and seats are made to accommodate that, it doesn’t mean they will not be subjected to cervical spine injuries in an accident. Sure, it’ll hold their body in place, as it did for my grandson. But their head is thrown violently forward!! Actually, if you do your homework, front facing children "75% more likely to be injured" in a crash.
I am Grandpa, and here’s my personal view. My 18 mo old grandson, Joel, was injured in a front impact car crash 4 weeks ago. He is a "beefy" boy, weighing in at 34lbs and about 39" tall. According to his mom, the doctor told her it was "okay" to put him in a front facing car seat, because he was a "big boy". So she did. And he was securely strapped in the rear seat. The car hit a tree, for reasons unknown, at city speed limit of approx 35 mph.
At the accident scene, the EMT crew took Joel out of the car while in the car seat and all, and transported him to the hospital. They had to "bag" him at the scene to restart his breathing. The true miracle is that the ambulance was driving by, and some people flagged it down. They didn’t even get time to call 911. You can bet God had his hand in that!!! they were on the scene in about 60 seconds!!
Below are some photos of Joel, before and after. YOU decide whats best for your child.......not anyone else!!! He sustained dislocated top 2 vertebrae in his spine (C-1 & C-2). Some of the doctors put it in very simple terms...his skull, internally, became detached from his body... and was basically held on with his skin.
In the last few weeks, I’ve scoured the internet to find these facts:* a young child’s head is approx 25% of his/her bodyweight. If that were true of adults, my head (I’m 220 pounds) would weigh 55 pounds! As it is, an adults head is only about 6% of their body weight. So, kids are very top-heavy.* Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland recommend rear facing until 4 yrs old*
Look on You Tube at the crash test videos of front facing vs. rear facing. you’ll be amazed.
See how much farther forward the forward facing dummy is thrown? How violently the neck snaps?* if a young childs spine is "stretched" a 1/4 of an inch, it could result in total paralysis or death.* and this is amazing! There was an article published in Pediatrics (the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) earlier this year that states: "A recent analysis of the protection provided in rear-facing compared with forward-facing car safety seats has revealed that children under the age of 2 years are 75% less likely to die or sustain serious injury when they are in a rear-facing seat. This finding was true regardless of direction of the crash, even those crashes with side impact, which typically are the most severe."Parents may be helped to understand the importance of using the convertible car safety seat in the rear-facing position longer than 1 year if they are counseled that children are 5 times safer than when riding in a forward-facing seat into the second year of life."
After hearing about that, I contacted the AAP via email, and asked what their position is on this issue. Their response was "While this was published in the Academy’s journal, it does not necessarily constitute AAP policy" and "Because riding rear-facing does provide significantly more protection to children’s heads, necks, and spines, the Academy does recommend it for as long as possible, but the only minimum we have set is 12 months/20 pounds. This policy statement is under revision but is current at this time."
The policy statement is under revision.... at this time??
Do your home work folks!!! Oh, and you’ll also find out that in the USA, rear facing seats only go up to 30-35 pounds (depends on manufacturer). In Europe, whose testing standards seem to exceed US standards, the RF car seats can be purchased up to 55 pounds. AND, made by the same manufacturers as in the US.So, the question is, why can’t we get them??
And don’t worry about legroom. Sure, they can break a leg in a violent crash, but I think bones are easier to fix than a broken neck!!! Heck, it’s better to mount a portable CD player in the back window shelf and let them watch it, then to risk their life! Think about it....their body is strapped down to a car seat that is strapped down, and the car comes to an abrupt stop!! Where is their head going to go? FORWARD, and at a tremedous velocity!! The back of their neck/spinal cord is vulnerable to serious injury.But the BIG question is....... for you to decide. I know you want to see their darling faces. But you don’t want to see them in a halo.
I know this is a very long blog, but if it saves one child...or one family, the agony of what we’ve endured these last 4 weeks, it is worth the read!!
The pics below are about six weeks apart. he was eating cake by himself....very cute. And now, he is is headed for intense physical therapy. He does move his fingers and his legs, but he doesn’t pick up his arms. The therapy people are very optimistic, given the movement in his extremities. Doctors believe it was some compression of the shoulder nerves from the car seat straps across his collar bone area. You had to see those big, wide bruise marks.
Again...front facing will do it.!!
I would like to see:
the FF threshold raised to 24 months, and larger RF seats available in the US.
This little boy is VERY lucky he is alive. This is every parents worst nightmare, and I’m glad that I have the knowledge to help protect my kids to the best of my ability. And now I’ve passed the information to you. Thank you for reading!
Please see these sites for more information:
(^ Recommendation 1-"for optimal protection, the child should remain rear facing until reaching the max weight for the car safety seat, as long as the top of the head is below the top of the seat back")
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
My most embarrassing moment to date. It's been many years and it still stands strong!
My mom is the administrator for a type of welfare to work program. She doesn't always deal with the best people and she used to come home with horror stories about which student's baby's daddy got past security and beat the shit out of the student before the police came, she has had money stolen, been threatened, etc.
My mom also fosters a really bad habit of speaking to me on the phone up to 4 times a day while we are both at our respective jobs. So, to call her at work is nothing - plus, she's the boss there.
One day, I call her at work and she was so short on the phone with me. Usually, she keeps me on the phone a lot longer than I hope, yet she really seemed like she was trying to get me off the phone that day - one word answers, very hurried with no explanation.
A tad bit more background....we were raised to be alarmists. My grandmother hit the deck at the grocery store once when someone dropped a glass bottle of ketchup, screaming, "They're shooting! Get down!!!!" My mom taught us to look for little nooks and crannies at the airport where we could hide if random terrorists just start shooting. I am a cautious person and never really took on the level of alarm they tried to instill in us, but those thoughts are always in the back of my head.
Anyway, back to being on the phone with my mom who was acting so strangely. The week before, a student's boyfriend had come in and roughed up the student and, when my mom called the cops on him, he threatened her saying, "I am going to get you, bitch" etc.
So, after my mom rushed me to hang up the phone without even paying attention to what I was saying, I thought about it for a minute and I called her back.
Me: "Mom, are you being held hostage?"
Me: "You ARE being held hostage, oh my God."
Mom: "Yes. I have to go now." She said this all sing-songy, of course, she was trying to let her captors know she was going along with them while giving me the hint that nothing was right.
Me: "Let me get this straight. You. Are. Being. Held. Hostage?"
Mom: "Yes, I will speak with you later."
Click - she hung up.
Immediately, I called 911 and asked for the City of Pittsburgh. I got in touch with the appropriate agency and repeated the threats my mom received the week prior and the cryptic message she was trying to get to me over the phone.
As I spoke to the dispatcher, I started picturing the certain hell that my mom was currently enduring and I started to really lose it. They were probably pushing her around, maybe pistol whipping her about the face and head, screaming obcenities and scaring her! The dispatcher tried to calm me, but the ridiculous sobbing came. She put me in touch with the Chief of the next municipality whose guys were also going on the raid to my mother's place of business. He kept trying to reassure me that they would rescue my mom and he would not let anything happen to her.
Eventually, things started to happen, so he took my number and told me he would have to call me back.
I waited and waited - it was excruciating. I was out of control, shaking and sobbing. I couldn't even call my father to update him on my mom.
The phone rings and I pick it up. This is how that conversation goes:
Mom: "NO, it is NOT the Chief, Joelene! What the hell are you doing? I am in a meeting with the President of the college and the damn SWAT team busts into the room, guns drawn, riot gear on! What the is going on???"
Me: "Wha, huh? You're ok? Oh, Mom, I was so scared!"
Mom: "What are you talking about? What were you scar..."
Mom: "Oh my God. I told you I was being held hostage - like I am in a meeting being 'held hostage'."
Me: "Buh, but I asked you a bunch of times. You said yes, you were being held hostage! I thought that _______'s boyfriend came back with a gun!" Uncontrollable sobbing ensues.
Mom: "I can't believe this. I have to go explain this mess. Go take an Ativan - I will call you later."
That's exactly what I did. Well, after I hung up with the Chief who called to let me know that my mom was, in fact, ok and that it was all a misunderstanding.
The Chief also reprimanded my mom pretty well for yelling at me. I guess she expressed her anger with me to him and he read her the riot act, telling her that I did the right thing and she should come home, apologize to me, and give me a big hug.
At our wedding, we had those guest book pages that ask for the guest's "favorite bride or groom memory". Every single person who works with my mom wrote, "When Joelene called the SWAT team because Cathy was being 'held hostage' in a meeting."
To add insult to injury, the Chief told my mom to come home and comfort me and not yell at me because I did the right thing, she was to blame, blah blah blah...
He then said, "She was really upset. How old is your little girl anyway? About 10 or 11?"
I was 19 when that happened.
I know it's Tuesday but I couldn't get to a PC yesterday.After a lovely weekend with friends (which I hope to write about once I get some pictures back) I was heading back to work yesterday morning when I was rear ended by a young girl in a Dodge Neon. Great way to start the week, right?
I don't know what she was doing. I had been stopped at a red light for quite some time just listening to the morning news on the radio when BLAM! there she was all up underneath the back of my Explorer. Instant headache - literally and figuratively at the same time.
I ended up in the ER at Passavant for about 5 hours, much of which was like this:
Lovely, huh? As if being upset, in pain and alone wasn't bad enough, it was HOURS before I could convince anyone that I needed a darn breastpump! Stupid asses acted like I was asking for an extra pillow every time I told them I desperately needed one. So frustrating!
I spent the rest of my day on the phone with insurance companies learning about how the whole messed up system works. Medical covered by this company until it runs out, vehicle covered by this company, personal property covered to a certain amount by these guys and then maybe the extra covered by these guys... blah blah blah. What a pain!
Speaking of pain. Can I just complain here? I am eternally grateful my sweet boys weren't in the truck with me. I had dropped them off at daycare mere minutes before the accident. I am glad no one was seriously injured, that the girl wasn't going faster, that it wasn't a dump truck instead of a Neon... But I still need to complain. I hurt. Bad. My neck is so stiff and stabs me when I move it. My shoulder alternates between feeling like someone is pouring ice water down it to feeling like someone is scalding me. My lower back is tight and stiff. My left knee is in pain for some reason and both legs are stiff. This really sucks.
Bathing the boys last night was painful! I'm not allowed to go to the gym for a week or so. I slept like crap. And the headache. My goodness, the headache! I just want to go back to bed.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Beth and I shopped a few gyms and decided to return to Club Julian. I had been a member there in 2004-2005 and stopped going when I was pregnant with Jesse. It's been a few years and more than a few pounds since I stepped foot in a fitness facility.
Pregnancy and childbirth really take a toll on a woman's body and I feel like they've taken a huge toll on me. I was in physical therapy at UPMC's South Side facility for a few months after Jesse's birth to rebuild core muscles and regain strength in my extremities. After being on bedrest and restricted activity before and after his birth, I was a hot mess! PT helped so much.
This time around I am not as bad off but I desperately need to strengthen and build up my stamina. I am not interested (right now) in dropping pants sizes or being some MILF, I just want to be healthy and active for my boys.
Antonio, my trainer, got me started on a routine and I've actually been able to pump it up from his original plan pretty early on. I usually start by stretching on the (awesome) stretching machines, then I warm up on the treadmill for 15-20 minutes. I am able to do inclines and speeds I wasn't able to do until I was ready to graduate from PT last time so I take that as a very good sign! Off to the circuit training from there. Legs, arms, abs and back. I've modified some of Antonio's exercises to make them more "chiropractor-approved" after Dr. Brian made that frowny face he makes when I described what exercises I was doing. No more ab or back machine exercises, it's all on the floor or on the ball. I cool down on the track, stretch on the machines again and head home!
It's been going well. I've been able to get my routine to fit into an hour and a half so I can be home by 6:30 to nurse Simon. Dan's been great about getting the kids and starting dinner every Tuesday and Thursday since the start of September. I really hoped to work a third day into my schedule and take a fun class on Saturday or Sunday but so far that hasn't happened yet.
Last week I was on my way to the gym from work and I really just didn't feel like going. It would be so easy to turn up Seventh Street and head home to my boys instead. I remembered I had a class schedule in my bag so I looked to see what was offered at that time of day. Zumba. 5-6. I perked up a bit.
I had heard of Zumba a few times. My mother-in-law said something about it once and I saw a short segment with some overly peppy chick on the Jennifer Antkowiak show (No, I don't watch the Jennifer show! It's filmed here at work though so sometimes I come into contact with it when I choose not to.). It looked a little neat since I do love all things Latin (Hello! Gipsy Kings, anyone??? LOVE them!). But it was all in passing and I never gave it a second thought.
Anyway, I decided to try it out. Worst case scenario I hated it and wouldn't come back. While waiting for the class to start I met Mandy, a very tan and peppy girl who told me what to expect in the class, the difference between the two instructors, etc. She's a really nice girl.
So into Zumba I ventured. Within 10 minutes I was sweating and all red in the face. I looked at the clock on the wall and couldn't believe I had to do this for 50 more minutes! There was no way I'd ever make it!
Then the music got a hold of me. Goodness, I love Latin music! Gets me every time! I tripped through salsas, merengues and cumbias, usually moving the opposite way as the class and finding the entire class facing me more than one time when I didn't realize I was supposed to be turning around.
And then the music stopped. It had been a full hour! And I was disappointed it was over. I wanted more! Me! Joelene. Fat Ass Extraordinaire. I wanted to exercise more!
I haven't done my circuit training since. I know! I know! I should mix it up and do my strength training also. Afterall, isn't strength training the reason I joined the gym in the first place? But I love the Zumba far too much. And I figure I should do what I love because anything is better than nothing.
I Zumba'ed last night and I'll be back tomorrow evening too. In my defense, I am checking out other classes like kickboxing, water aerobics, yoga, pilates...
But for now? I'm going to Zumba, baby! ¡Me gusta Zumba!