Open to any other suggestions

My back is still bothering me and it’s getting old. It hasn’t been nearly as bad as those couple of days when I had the raging headaches, so I guess that’s a good sign, but every day there is something. Sometimes it’s just a minor ache between my shoulder blades and other times I can feel a big knot back there that sends pain up my neck and into my head. I’m starting to wonder if I’m becoming a hypochondriac. Maybe I am so worried about waking up with back pain that I talk myself into it. It’s not like it’s debilitating though and I’m not letting it drag me down. It’s just annoying and frustrating at times. I keep looking for triggers and trying different things to help me feel better. I’m eating better than ever, exercising more, and I’m making frequent use of an ice pack.

(Hmmmm… just a thought. Maybe my body was HAPPY with the unhealthy lifestyle to which it had grown accustomed. Maybe my back is protesting and demanding I bring back the chocolate and caffeine. It could be!)

Everyone who is aware of my problem has their own idea about the cause. Personally, I think my chiropractor may be on to something when he suggests it is stress related. I think subconsciously, I thrive on being stressed out to some degree. Others have their own ideas for a solution for me. Someone suggested that I need to make regular visits to a massage therapist. Another wonders if I need a new mattress. I should get a body pillow. I need to sit up straighter at my desk. I need to quit running. (Not an option. Running is one of my best stress relievers.) A different sports bra. (Ummm… okayyy.) More calcium. Iron supplements. Better vitamins.

I don’t think any one of these is the easy answer, although some combination of a few of these may help. For years I have taken a multi-vitamin every day. I just buy one of the well known brands that you can purchase at Target or the grocery store. Several times I have read articles stating that your body doesn’t really absorb these vitamins and they’re not as effective as the advertising might have you believe. So while visiting the chiropractor, I asked about the vitamins and supplements they sell. Caroline was more than happy to show me a bottle of high-quality multi-vitamins. She also suggested fish oil tablets.

“Everyone should take fish oil,” she advised me in a very serious tone.

“Really? What exactly do fish oil tablets do for you?”

“Oh, these are BRAIN food,” she exclaimed!

“Oh, I NEED some of those. I’ll take the vitamins too,” I told her without hesitation.

I don’t want to say what I spent for “good” vitamins and a bottle of brain food. Suffice it to say that for the same price I could get my favorite coffee drink at Starbucks every day for a couple of weeks. These better be good. I took some already when I got home from the chiropractor, so I’m hoping that brain food kicks in overnight and I wake up a genius or at least mildly creative.

I’ve also started getting out of the office for a while every day. Ten hours a day is a long time to be cooped up inside the office and sitting at a desk for the majority of that time. I’ve been changing into my tennis shoes and going outside with a couple of coworkers over lunch break. We take a brisk walk around downtown St. Paul. It’s funny. I never really stopped to notice what a beautiful place it is. Going out for a walk allows me not only to stretch my muscles but to take in a much needed change of scenery.

Wabasha Street Bridge 3 by you.We usually walk a few blocks from the office and cross this bridge over the Mississippi River. Once we reach the far side and turn around to make the trek back, it’s a nice uphill climb. The walk across the bridge and back takes up most of our lunch break and makes it so much easier to get through the second half of the day. And when the weather isn’t cooperative, we can walk through the maze of skyways instead. Once back at our building, we skip the elevators and take the stairs.

Hopefully, the new, healthier habits will add up to me feeling back to normal again soon, because if not, I may have to admit that it has something to do with the “O” word.

 

But I refuse to admit to getting OLD just yet.

Tales from the Weekend

Last Friday, when I described what the weekend held in store, someone commented that it was going to be one of those weekends that would leave me relieved to get back to work on Monday so I could catch a break. SO true! It was a really good weekend though.

Saturday found Mark, Kacey and me in Duluth to join Kacey’s volleyball team at a hotel/water park for the weekend. The hotel itself was nothing special. In fact, our first impression was how little quiet we could expect in our room which was located just outside to the entrance of the water park. However, our second impression was something along the lines of  “Hey! There’s a door on the back side of our room. Let’s open this up and see where it goes!”

IMG_9784_1 by you.“Oh, it’s a balcony! And what’s this? Oh, it’s Lake Superior! Ooooh, AHHHH!”

Yeah, so the noise level was pretty much forgotten while we gazed at the beautiful lake and the coming and going of several ships. Mark pointed out a ship in the distance at one point and explained, “It’s either coming or going.” I asked what the alternative was. He called me a smart *ss. I prefer to think I was merely pointing out the obvious.

IMG_9758 by you.There was a sign in our room that specifically instructed visitors not to feed the sea gulls, but some visitors ignored those instructions. I’m not naming names but I will say that his first name begins with “Mark.”

IMG_9769 by you.This unnamed rule-breaker fed our precious chocolate chip cookies to the sea gulls who, obviously, were quite used to people ignoring the hotel’s pleas to refrain from feeding the birds, as evidenced by our young neighbor, one level below.

The girls spent the day in the water park and had a fabulous time. Later in the evening, we all joined together for a pizza party. We made the girls go to bed by 10:00 because the tournament was to begin very early in the morning. None of them were happy about the early bed time, but I don’t think any of them had a bit of trouble falling asleep after a day at the water park.

IMG_9798 by you.Sunday morning, we awoke to find there had been an invasion off of our balcony. Don’t worry. We were all fine. Only one plastic parachuting army man actually made it onto our balcony, but he couldn’t get past our barricade and we remained unharmed. The door to the balcony was safely dead-bolted and chained. I think the plastic soldier died of exhaustion trying to break in. Either that, or a sea gull tried to eat him.

After enjoying a very early continental breakfast with everyone, Mark and I left Kacey in good hands so she could play in her tournament and we made the trip back home to attend our nephew’s baptism.

IMG_9812 by you.

So it was that I found myself at mass for the THIRD week in a ROW! I even enjoyed the mass and tried not to be too distracted by the three-ring circus in the pew behind us. The woman sitting behind us explained that it was the first time in church for the little boys who were with her. I think she brought every noise-making toy they owned for entertainment purposes. (You’ve seen/heard those little cars which you pull backwards and then they zip around making a “zippy” noise, no?) Call me crazy, but I think it might have made more sense to bring some books and soft and/or quiet toys. And I’m pretty sure the boys went through an entire package of Chips Ahoy cookies. The youngest boy only escaped down the main aisle of the church one time. The baptism itself, however, was lovely. The baby’s godfather is a very good-looking young man, don’t you agree?

After the baptism, there was a celebration at my brother-in-law’s home, which was (surprisingly) quite fun. (This is not always the case with family gatherings, as you may know.) All too soon, we had to leave the party so that Brad, Heather and the puppy could go back to Fargo…

…and I could take a much needed nap!

Puppy Love

Meet Dacotah, our weekend visitor.

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She’s so cute! She was ever concerned that someone may be in need of their shoes and she made sure to deliver them.

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She’s really smart too and made us laugh when she mimicked Jake.

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We all fell in love with her and were sad to see her go when Brad and Heather left to go back to school.

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I offered to let Dacotah stay with us until school lets out in a few weeks, but Heather politely declined. That’s probably a good thing. The cats would never forgive me.

Saturday this 'n that

Hyacinth by you.After several beautiful, warm, sunny days, the temperatures have dropped back into the fifties and rain clouds fill the sky.

I’ve gone out to the back yard several times this week with my camera to capture the hyacinth that are blooming. These just amaze me, but they come and go too quickly.

Today we go to Duluth for Kacey’s volleyball tournament. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive and today is the fun day, dedicated to playing at the water park and socializing. All week long I’ve been asked, “What time are we leaving on Saturday?” I don’t know why I’m in charge of when we leave. I’m not the one in a hurry to get on the water slides. We can check in to the hotel at 3:00 but we can get wristbands for the water park as early as noon. Interestingly enough, the ones who have continuously asked what time we should leave are still sleeping soundly. I, on the other hand, have gone for a run and done two loads of laundry. I guess if they really want to get there early, they’ll wake up eventually. Who am I to interrupt their beauty sleep? Actually, for some, it’s less of a “beauty” sleep and more of a “let’s try to minimize my crankiness” sleep. I’m all about minimal crankiness. Besides, I still need to iron my clothing for the baptism tomorrow, wrap the gift and find something for tonight’s team pot luck dinner. The longer they sleep, the more it becomes their fault rather than my fault if we don’t arrive as early as some would like. I’m smart like that.

Brad and company arrived safely last night. The puppy, Dakota is adorable and very well behaved. She’s cute and cuddly and I’m totally in love with her. She’s an ace at catching her tail and has a fascination with putting my forearm in her mouth, but she doesn’t bite when she does it. I should probably discourage that, but she’s just so DARN cute!

In the face of this adorable puppy, I am forced to repeat a mantra: “I do not NEED another dog in my life right now. I do not WANT another dog in my life right now. I will not go window shopping for puppies.” I wasn’t sure how successful the mantra was until I found out that Dakota threw up on her bed last night. The fact that I was not the one who had to clean it up has me almost convinced that I’m right.

Almost…

Life is Good – April 24, 2009

IMG_9681_2 by you.Spring has most definitely arrived and there is much to be thankful for. Yesterday, I enjoyed the most beautiful day in ages! During the early part of the day, clouds hovered in the sky and I was afraid the sun wasn’t going to make an appearance after all. But just as I was ready to go do some work in the back yard, the clouds drifted away and the sun shone brightly. I put on a pair of shorts for the first time this year and headed out into the yard. I was able to clean up a flower garden, pulling dead leaves and some litter that had blown into the yard and became stuck in the chain link fence. When I had finished raking and pulling dead foliage out of the garden, the hyacinths stood proud and colorful. In the coming weeks, I look forward to seeing my giant hastas again, and the blossoms on the flowering crab-apple tree.

IMG_9684_2 by you.I love this time of year. It feels like everything is coming to life. The trees have new buds, the tulips are sprouting and the grass is getting green. Every morning there is a symphony of birds singing outside the windows and the ducks have come back to visit again. Just this morning, one was making herself comfortable in my irises! People are out walking, biking and running. Neighbors come outside and talk to each other again after hibernating all winter. It’s like the world is waking up after a long winter’s nap.

IMG_9700 by you.Warmer temperatures also bring a welcome change in the wardrobe. It’s the season of polished toenails, sandals and flip-flops! I love not having to wear socks! And I’m ready to dress for fun instead of dressing for warmth as we do all winter here! Of course, I had to do a little shopping this week and buy some new things to welcome in the season in style!

This weekend is going to be a little crazy, but I’m looking forward to it. Many weeks ago, we committedto letting Kacey attend an end-of-the-season volleyball tournament in Duluth. The games will only be held on Sunday, so all of the families made reservations to spend Saturday night at the same hotel which just so happens to also have a water park. Saturday is going to be all about having fun. It’s been a fantastic season and Kacey really enjoyed her time with this team. This tournament is a way of celebrating such a great season. I am looking forward to spending time with the other parents and watching our girls have fun at the water park.

Early Sunday morning though, when the girls have to go to the tournament, Mark and I will have to head back home. Kacey will stay and play with her team. We won’t get to see these last games, which makes me a little sad, but there’s a very good reason. Our nephew is being baptised Sunday morning and Brad has been chosen as the baby’s godfather, so we want to be home for the big event.

Of course I’m thrilled that Brad will be home yet again. And he’s bringing his girlfriend, Heather with too. I love having her here. She’s such a sweet girl. AND… they are bringing a special guest with them… Heather’s new puppy, Dakota! I think Brad said that she’s a black lab/golden lab mix and if her mother is any indication, she’s going to be a very big dog when she’s fully grown. I was hesitant at first to allow a puppy in the house, especially when we won’t actually be at the house all that much. But over the last couple of days, I’ve come to realize that I’m really excited to see the puppy! I miss my dog and it will be fun to have one around for a couple of days.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Hey, Hey, Hey, It's a beautiful day!

What an absolutely perfect day to be off work! Temperatures are going to be in the eighties today!

I got up early and went for a run. Let me rephrase that. I tried to go for a run. I wasn’t very successful. I wonder if I need to start over and start training again as if I were a brand new runner? Anyway, it was so windy this morning, I felt like I was pushing against a brick wall. It’s been a week since I’ve run at all. The chiropractor suggested the break, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s the running that’s causing my back pain. Maybe it is just stress. Lord knows I excel at worrying. The pain hasn’t been as bad as it was last week, but it’s still lingering. I’m just going to keep trying various stretches and exercises until I get a grip on it. At least today I got out and moved, even if the run turned out to be mostly a brisk walk.

As for the rest of the day, you know that I have a love affair with the sun, so I am going to make every effort to get my chores done early and get out there and soak up some rays. This skin needs some color! The back yard needs a good clean up too after the long winter, so I can kill two birds with one stone. I spotted some hyacinths blooming in the corner of the yard. Things are coming to life again. I think I hear my camera calling!

I’m so excited about this day that I’ve been hearing this old seventies tune playing in my head all morning. Yes, I know it’s “Beautiful Sunday,” but in my mind, today it’s “Beautiful Sun Day!”

(Somehow, this cheesy video is not what I pictured while hearing the song in my head. Have a good laugh!)

What kids are thinking

It was quiet around our house this weekend. Kacey had an overnight Confirmation retreat. In a few weeks she’ll receive the sacrament of Confirmation and the retreat was a requirement of the program.

She’s so organized and analytical sometimes. As she packed her bag on Saturday morning before I had to drop her off, I asked her several times if she was ready.

“Almost,” was the response I kept hearing.

She came to me, looking a little lost at one point.

“I wish they had shown us a slide show about past retreats or something,” she lamented. “I don’t know what to expect.”

“Why,” I asked? “It’s a retreat. Both of your brothers have done this. What are you worried about?”

“I don’t know what to pack,” she whined.

I laughed. “Pretend like we’re going to spend a night in a hotel; like we’re going to one of your tournaments or something.”

The light bulb seemed to go on and I could see relief wash over her. The things kids worry about!

On the way to drop her off at the church to catch the bus, she asked if I thought she’d enjoy the retreat.

“Just keep an open mind. You’re going to hear kids complaining that they don’t want to go and that it’s going to suck. Don’t buy into it.”

She ended up having a great time. When I picked her up on Sunday she couldn’t wait to tell me everything. She opened the car door and her butt wasn’t even in the seat yet when she asked, “DID. YOU. HEAR?”

“Hear what? I’ve heard nothing! What didn’t I hear?”

“Beer. Firecrackers. Climbing on the Roof. A broken window!”

It seems some boys decided to push their limits. What could they possibly have been thinking? They got caught. Kacey found it pretty irritating that all activities were halted for about an hour until the culprits finally confessed. Overall though, she had a great time and especially enjoyed the really cute young guitar player in the band. She and her girlfriends had a great excuse for sitting in the front row during all the activities.

Jake and I enjoyed some one on one time while Kacey was gone and Mark was working all weekend. We had breakfast together on Sunday morning at almost noon and then did some shopping. He stocked up on some new shorts and I searched in vain for skirts. What happened to skirts? I like them and would like to wear them when the weather warms up. Where are they?

This morning it was back to routine. I missed a couple of calls at work while I was on another call. Then my cell phone buzzed while I was still on a call. Finally, when I hung up, my work line rang again with a number I didn’t recognize and I was able to answer this time. It was the school nurse informing me that Jake didn’t feel well and she thought he should go home. I agreed. He doesn’t normally try to get out of school for any reason, so if he said he didn’t feel well he should go home. I asked if I could talk to him. We talked briefly and he told me he had a headache and his stomach was bothering him. I asked him to call me when he got home and then keep me posted if anything changed throughout the day. And he was true to his word. He called when he got home, I told him to just rest and NO video games.

“Let me know how you’re doing later on, ok honey?”

“Ok.”

“I love you,” I said.

“I love you too.”

A while later my cell phone buzzed with a new text message. I guess sometimes he actually DOES listen to me. I just didn’t think he’d take my request so literally.

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