Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Huzzah! Also, Boo!

It wasn't as tough at the gym today as it was on Monday, and I was able to run continuously for a complete 5K. After Monday, I wasn't expecting to be able to do that for another couple of weeks, so that's exciting. I ran mostly on a flat incline, but I finished with a short sprint and felt good afterward. Also, I weighed in 2 pounds lighter than Monday, and despite what I said yesterday, I did not drink anything last night except water. I know it's only the middle of my third day, but so far I'm meeting all of my goals and exceeding my expectations.

Good enough.

Also, Jungle Java, our favorite indoor playground closed a couple of months ago. Thumper finally asked me today, "Can we go to the jungle place with the pretend animals on the walls?" When I told him it was closed down for good, he had a hard time understanding the concept.

"But we can go later."

"No, it's closed for always."

"But we can go to a different Jungle Java."

No, there aren't any other ones. That the was the only one."

I tried and tried to explain it, until at last he said, "I think Jungle Java is in jail."

Good enough.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

He Already Knows That Forever Young Would Just Suck

For Christmas, Grandma and Grandpa gave Thumper Modern Publishing's Treasury of Illustrated Classics, a box set of 16 children's versions of classic novels. His set has some different titles than this one on Amazon, including Black Beauty, Moby Dick, The Secret Garden, and Oliver Twist but you get the idea. He has been very interested in looking through the books one by one and asking us questions about the illustrations, but he has resisted actually reading them at bedtime. Last night, though, he decided he was ready.

I have to admit, I'm curious what a children's version of Moby Dick might be like. If they removed all of the bits about whale biology and the history of whaling through the mid 19th-century, it might be just the right length. But instead, what we started with was Peter Pan. I was excited to start his very first chapter book.

We read the first chapter, about the mother's perplexity over the presumably imaginary Peter Pan who manages to leave dried leaves and muddy footprints in the nursery while the Darling children are sleeping, even though the nursery is three stories up and he never uses the door. When we finished the first chapter, I told Thumper we could read more the next night, and he thought that was a good idea. We talked about the characters on the cover and in the couple of illustrations in the first chapter. When I told him that Peter Pan is always a little boy and never grows up into an adult, he furrowed his brow. I asked him if he'd like to be a little boy forever, and he said, "No!" in a tone of voice that clearly communicated that he thought that was the dumbest question I could ever have come up with. Why would anyone want to stay a kid?

I can understand why he feels that way. Being a kid has been tough lately. We're in a near-constant battle of wills these days, and most of the time he winds up on the losing end, though he puts up quite a fight. It's been a struggle for me, too, and I feel like most of my time is spent feeling either angry or guilty. I tell him to do something, and he ignores me. I tell him again and he ignores me. I say it louder, and he growls at me, hits me, throws something at me, or yells, "You keep saying it over and over!" And the next thing I know, we're both yelling at each other until finally he's wailing through a timeout in his room.

Today, though, when he refused to eat his lunch and then threw his spoon at me when I said he couldn't have dessert, I skipped all the yelling and carried him calmly to his room. He wailed, "Daddy! Daddy!" through a 3-minute timeout, and then I sat with him in his rocking chair and quietly explained that all of the yelling makes me feel bad, and I don't want to do it anymore. I'm the Daddy, and it's my job to keep him healthy and safe and teach him how to be polite. He's the kid, and it's his job to listen to me. From now on, he can choose to listen to me and we can keep playing and having fun and getting nice treats sometimes, like dessert, or he can choose not to listen to me and go straight to timeout, but we're not going to do the part where I tell him something, he ignores me, and we yell at each other anymore.

"But I don't like timeouts," he said.

"Then you should think about doing what I ask you to do. Does that sound like a good plan?"


"I love you."

"Now can I have some dessert?"

I've heard that 4 is sweet. But it's only Tuesday, and 3 is already making me question my resolve not to drink.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Six weeks away from the gym, and wow, it was hard. It's amazing how quickly fitness fades when it's not used. The good news is that I went. Also, I've gained less than I guessed. The bad news is that I was only able run for 12 consecutive minutes before walking, and at a slower speed with a flatter incline. I also did some weight exercises on the machines, but at less weight than previously. But at least I went, and at least I discovered that I am able to do some weight training with my still-broken finger (I went back to the orthopedic specialist last week and had another x-ray, which still looks remarkably like the old x-ray: a scattered jigsaw puzzle. Occupational therapy is helping, but I still can't bend the it.).

Now to just keep on keepin' on!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Start Again

I recall from my adolescence when my father and I watched British comedies on PBS each Sunday night that there was an episode of Monty Python in which the voice over would periodically throughout the episode say, "Start again..." and the title sequence would run again and the show would start afresh.

Yeah, my weight loss saga is kind of like that.

Tomorrow I will be returning to the gym after a 6 1/2-week absence. I've eaten whatever I wanted during that time and have no doubt I've gained 10 or more pounds in the interim. I ultimately want to take a look into the Paleo Diet and see if it's right for me. I heard about this diet from Le Trevolution! whose transformation since I first met him has been inspiring. I suspect some of my respiratory troubles may come from my diet, and I want to see if eliminating dairy and grains helps. I haven't done the work to become informed and plan ahead for that yet, though, so this week my goals are: exercise 3 or 4 days, count Weight Watchers points (on the old Flex plan, because who has the time or money to keep up with Weight Watchers constantly changing plans?), and not to drink on weekdays.

So I've put some numbers on the sidebar that I hope will help keep me motivated. Here's to 200 in 2012!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

I am soon to be 39, and naturally that makes me think of 40. If it's to be ready in time, I should get started on the birthday present that I want to give myself for my 40th birthday: a me that's not overweight for the first time in about 20 years.

I've done this so many times in my life that I'm going to try not to set my goals too high. Mostly I want to return to some idea of reasonable in portion control, alcohol consumption, and exercise. The portion control part will be in the vein of Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers has been the most effective weight loss program I've ever tried, but it's tedious and joyless and I've never been able to keep up with it for very long. I'm going to try again, though, and if I can stick with it long enough, maybe I can establish a new pattern for myself.

I'm also going to try to eliminate alcohol, not from my life but just from my routine. It's a part of my routine, which doesn't make me proud, but it does make me fat and sometimes surly.

And exercise. I was doing well on the exercise portion of the program for quite awhile, losing weight when I ate right and maintaining weight when I didn't. Then I broke my finger, and got pneumonia, and Thumper got sick, and Thumper got sick again, and now I've been over a month out of the gym and have put on 10 pounds or so.

When I think about maybe finally being healthy when I turn 40, it's great to have the inspiration of Greg Moyle, who's following a Couch to 5K program, and Captain Carl, who's posting weigh-in pics and talking openly about his struggles. There's also Le Trevolution, the father of a smart, funny, and pretty darn cute little girl just a little older than Thumper. He's doing Crossfit and following the The Paleo Diet and looks amazing. I'm doing physical therapy for my finger at a facility that also offers Crossfit, and his name is all over the bulletin boards there that show off the weekly standings. I went to a Crossfit session with him in October, and though the puke bucket and the manly yelling weren't for me, it was a great reminder that a narrow focus in exercise, like running on a treadmill over and over, is a quick path to boredom and doesn't create the broad-based strength and endurance that helps one succeed at all sorts of physical activities, like keeping up with a three-year-old.

So, there you go. My mid-range goal will be to improve on my Warrior Dash performance in April, and my long-range goal is to weigh around 200 pounds by the time I turn 40. If my sidebar becomes a list of short-term goals, successes, and failures, you'll know why.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Only Hope We Get Free Tickets

A professional entertainer attempted some audience participation with Thumper and may have regretted the decision. His exact words to me were, "He's going to have his own show before long!"

We've gone to live children's music shows before, most notably the live summer shows at Symphony Square which I have mentioned here and here, and we've also gone to a couple of Sunday morning free kids' shows at Ruta Maya, including one by a very nice stay-at-home mom named Sarah Dinan who invited me to join her play group once upon a time, though that play group eventually turned me down. Thumper has enjoyed all of these shows except for the last one at Ruta Maya, known as Mr. Leebot, billed as Devo for kids. We walked in the door and Thumper declared it "too loud," saying that it "made his belly hurt." So we haven't been back to Ruta Maya since. Though he's enjoyed most of the shows, he's been suspicious of attempts to get him to dance, or to sing along, or clap in time.

But today we checked out ScottyRoo and Christini at the Cherrywood Coffeehouse. It was a very small, informal, intimate performance that seemed heavily ad-libbed. There were perhaps half a dozen families with kids from one to four years old. What I really enjoyed about the show, despite the really bad pre-schooler-targeted stand-up comedy and puppet bits between songs, was that it was the first time Thumper actually participated in audience-participation moments. When they asked if anyone were afraid of bees or bugs that bite or sting before "Baby Bumble Bee," he raised his hand. He sang along in a couple of places, he jumped in front of his chair during "Pet Kangaroo." The more he warmed to ScottyRoo, the chattier and more outgoing he got until he finally was standing in front of ScottyRoo's keyboard holding a full conversation, oblivious to the audience behind him. He told ScottyRoo his full name and age, he asked if ScottyRoo were afraid of dragons or triceratops and advised him he need not be afraid of baby triceratops because they come from eggs and are tiny. Some of the time, ScottyRoo had no idea what he was talking about, as when he asked if ScottyRoo liked Despicable Me, the movie we were going to see after the show. ScottyRoo said, "Spooky what? Is that a TV show? I probably wouldn't like it if it's spooky. I get scared easily."

ScottyRoo had been playing an extended musical interlude on his keyboard throughout this exchange then looked at me and said, "He's going to have his own show before long!" I took this as a cry for help. I wondered if maybe I should've intervened sooner, but I figured if ScottyRoo didn't want his show hijacked by a three-year-old, maybe he shouldn't engage them in conversation like that. It was time for us to leave to make it to our movie on time, so we exited stage right while ScottyRoo sang about his friend Thumper who likes dragons and triceratops.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm in Therapy...

...and Thumper is just not happy about it. My broken finger is healing well, but when the orthopedic specialist held it and asked me to wiggle the tip and I couldn't generate so much as a twitch, she said, "You need to be in physical therapy. Now. Tomorrow."

I was unconvinced about the wisdom of beginning a plan of treatment that involved somebody forcibly bending my finger when the bone is still in pieces, but now that I've been to two PT sessions, I understand that the injury itself wasn't the biggest hurdle on my way to recovery; instead it's the tendons and ligaments that have tightened up during the three weeks that my fourth and fifth fingers were immobilized in a splint. Maybe y'all already knew this, but it's stunning to me. Three weeks without moving it, and it's as if it were an intricately detailed wooden carving of a finger.

I strain to bend it until the muscles in my forearm ache and the rest of my fingers are trembling from the effort, and nothing happens. I stare at it and try to bend it with my mind like a spoon in a magic trick, and it just sits there. I try to type because my physical therapist says that's an excellent exercise for it, and it hovers above the keyboard. If so short a period of immobility has turned my tendons into stone, how is it possible that anyone who has been bed-ridden for any length of time ever manages to get up and walk again?

I took Thumper with me on Monday morning, and he colored in his coloring book and chatted with several therapists and patients as they went through their exercises. To keep him from getting scared or upset, I tried hard not to show pain on my face or in my voice as my therapist forced my finger to bend. As she was working on my hand, I asked her about toe walking, something Thumper does when he's barefoot around the house. Our pediatrician has been concerned for as long as Thumper's been walking, but I've ignored his concerns because it was something he mostly did when he was nervous, like during doctor visits. Recently, it's seemed like he might be doing it more, so I brought it up with my physical therapist. She called over another therapist who works with children more, and he had a couple of suggestions, including putting swim fins on him at home to force him to heel strike when he walks. The more we talked about it, the darker the cloud over Thumper's head became and the less he had to say. Finally I asked him if he was mad, and he said, "Yes, because I don't want physical therapy!" None of what we talked about involved him getting PT, but he made the leap in his mind and decided getting PT was definitely a bad thing, even though I wasn't writhing in pain, nor was anyone else in the office that day.

So when I told him last night that we would be going to physical therapy again today (our second PT appointment), he said, "Are you going a million times? I'm going to do something fun with Mama when you go."

At 3 times per week, it's going to be a long four weeks...
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