Sunday, September 29, 2013

Having Wisdom Teeth Removed After 30

For years, every dentist I've seen has told me I need to have my wisdom teeth removed.  I've always resisted because the top ones were fully erupted and the bottoms ones were partially erupted, but straight, and they only rarely bothered me.  When I was younger, I had a root canal done that had some complications and because of that I've had a (probably only partly rational) fear of nerve damage if I had my wisdom teeth out.

The dentist I go to now had given me the same talk:
"You know those wisdom teeth need to come out?" 
"You're not gonna do it are you?"
"Are they hurting you?"
"Okay then"

He earned my trust by not pushing the issue.  At my exam this year, I was having some odd come-and-go tooth pain on another molar that couldn't quite be pinpointed.  He examined my teeth, looked at my x-rays and pointed out that cavities on one of my wisdom teeth was causing decay under the crown of an adjacent tooth.  If the tooth under a crown decays too much, you can't fix it, you just lose the tooth all together.  The other wisdom teeth also had some degree of decay and I had noticed my top teeth had gotten noticeably more crowded lately.  So I bit the bullet and scheduled the consultation with the oral surgeon.

Here's the thing about wisdom teeth though...they are more firmly attached in the bone the older you are.  30 seems to be the magic tipping point where it's just plain rougher to get wisdom teeth removed and the chance of complications goes up.  I'm 32.  And a half.  So things could be worse, but they could also be a heck of a lot better.

Here was my experience of having all 4 wisdom teeth extracted after age 30:
Day 1:
    Surgery scheduled for 2pm.  This was a piece of cake.  Got the IV in, sedated with versed and propofol, and woke up less than 45 minutes later all done with a numb mouth.  There is only one thing I would do differently here based on things I've read online.  Apparently, if you're on birth control, they schedule your surgery so that you are not at a high estrogen time of your cycle.  Higher levels of estrogen are correlated to higher incidence of dry socket.  This never came up before my surgery and it seems no one thinks about it at all unless birth control is involved (maybe because levels are higher?), but personally, I would've rather been on the safe side and scheduled just before or during my period, when estrogen is the lowest.  Instead, I inadvertently scheduled right around ovulation, when estrogen is the highest. 
   After the extraction, I was sent home with a pack of sterile gauze and told that every 30 minutes, I needed to swap the gauze that was in my mouth for fresh, moistened gauze to help stop bleeding.  Bleeding was going on a little longer than the 1-2 hours they told me to expect, but it was slowing down, so I wasn't worried.  About 3.5 hours after surgery, bleeding had stopped and I was going to eat some soup (no food or drinks 6 hours before sedation, so I was quite hungry).  I stuck my finger in to be sure it wasn't too hot since I was still numb, and then I stuck my tongue out to lick my finger.  My mouth immediately filled with blood.  We were out of sterile gauze at this point and raiding our first aid kit, so we called the after hours line and the on call surgeon told us to meet him at the office.  He made sure there was not a serious cause for the bleeding, then packed the 2 bleeding sockets with a dressing to help stop the bleeding.  This was uncomfortable, but bearable and it worked.  I got to go home and eat.

Day 2:
   I woke up throughout the night hurting and took advil and my prescribed narcotic (I get tramadol ever since my lovely reaction to vicodin a few years ago).  Also very hungry throughout the night, probably because I had done a 13 mile run a couple days before the surgery and was still in a calorie deficit.  I drank some of Secora's pediasure over night.  The next morning, I was still hurting pretty bad and was really tired.  I pretty much stayed in bed either sleeping or watching netflix.  Still only ate very soft foods like over cooked oatmeal (swallowed without chewing), soup and pudding.  Later that afternoon, had a baked potato with a lot of sour cream and butter to soften it up and a frosty (with a straws allowed because the suction can cause dry socket).

Day 3:
    Slept through the night, but the lack of pain meds for 7-8 hours caught up to me and I was pretty miserable when I woke up.  Slept a lot in the morning.  Josh went back to work in the afternoon and after I got Secora down for nap, I went back to bed.  Back when I had my gallbladder out, the surgeon told me I would be extra tired until my body healed up all the injury, so I think that's why I'm so tired.  Josh thinks it's because the sedation isn't totally out of my system yet.  Doesn't much matter why though. I'm tired, a lot.  Still on super soft foods.  Swelling is at its worst today.  It's noticeable from looking at me and on the inside it feels like I can't close my mouth without my cheeks getting caught between my teeth.  This meant I drooled a lot when I slept, so I kept a towel on my pillow.

Day 4:
   Josh had to go out of town for work, so a friend came over to watch the girls in the morning.  I slept a lot again.  In the afternoon, I put Secora down for a nap and started suspecting I was developing a dry socket.  I had a radiating pain in one jaw that felt a lot different than all the other sockets.  I called the office and the person who answered the phone said it was a bit early for dry socket, but call first thing in the morning if it was still bothering me.  I ate restaurant style mac and cheese, more soup, more oatmeal, chocolate spoon cake (again, all no chewing necessary foods).

Day 5:
  Overnight, I was up several times in pain despite taking meds.  The pain was now extending through all the teeth in that quadrant of my mouth as well as my ear hurting.  We called the office at 8am and I went in at 10 to be checked out.  Because they were fitting me in, I saw a different oral surgeon and she told me I had a dry socket that needed to be packed.  She apologized that it was going to hurt, but she'd try to be gentle and 15-20 minutes later I would feel all better.   I should preface this by saying I've birthed 3 children without pain meds, I've had cavities filled with no novocaine, I've had my teeth scaled with no novocaine, I've had pancreatitis (which was the only time I'd cried in front of medical staff due to pain).  Dry socket means the blood clot that should be protecting the bone and the nerve in the socket has come out prematurely.  Packing one means pushing packing into that hole.  You know, the one with the exposed nerve.  It probably takes 4-5 pushes and the first 3 hurt, but are bearable.  But that's when I hit my limit.  I suppose I was already worn down from having been in constant pain for a while and being hungry and cranky.  I lasted through the packing, but as soon as it was over, I burst into tears.  I was just DONE.  And now my jaw was throbbing even worse than before.  It's awful, but I will say it works.  15 seconds of unimaginable pain bought me days of relief.  The pack numbs those nerves.  It's a bit weird, because your cheek/tongue/gums feel fine, but the bone itself (which you never really noticed before) feels numb.  I've been assured replacing the pack (which has to be done periodically) doesn't hurt nearly as bad.   The other weird thing is the pack includes eugenol....clove oil extract.  So for the rest of this day, all of my food tasted like cloves.  That is always there to some extent, but fades (or you get used to it?) after the first day.

Day 6:
  The socket I had packed was feeling a lot better.  Woke up with pain on other side thorough out the night.  By the afternoon, I was pretty sure I was developing a dry socket in the other bottom tooth.   Still on soft foods.  Smoothies and milkshakes eaten with a spoon are the order of the day.

Day 7:
  Took advil during the night, but woke up with no pain for the first time all week.  By mid-morning, low level nagging pain developed, but not to the extent it was yesterday.  Ate pancakes for the first time (cut into very small bites and eaten very slowly).

Days to come:
  I go back to the oral surgeon tomorrow (day 8) to check everything out.  I think it will be another week before I'm eating somewhat normally.

What I Wish I Knew Then:
  •    I don't regret having the teeth taken out.  It needed to happen.  I DO regret not having it done when I was younger.  
  •   The nerve damage I was so worried about, I didn't need to worry about.  I thought it would be motor nerve damage affecting a large portion of my face.  The surgeon explained to me that it's sensory nerve damage that can happen and would only affect my lower lip and most likely be temporary, if it happened at all.  It turns out I do have one spot that feels numb, but it's only about the size of a dime and I'm not sure yet if it's from trauma of surgery or actual nerve damage.  I haven't asked because it doesn't much bother me.  I didn't even notice it until the third day.
  •    Risk factors for developing dry socket include: being female, being over 30, having wisdom teeth extracted (especially lower ones), having surgery done when estrogen levels are high, using a straw, smoking, swishing/rinsing vigorously.   My odds weren't great for avoiding it anyway, but I would've scheduled at a low-estrogen time if I'd known about that.  
  •    Recovery has been much more involved than I expected.  A lot of people bounce back in 2-3 days, especially if they're younger, but you might not.  I would've cleared a little bit more of my calendar ahead of time.  
  •    Because recovery takes longer than you'd think, stock up on more soft food than you think you'll need.  Chicken noodle soup is hard to eat without slurping it off the spoon because it's TOO thin.  Tomato soup was easier and baked potato soup was easy too (you can mash any potato pieces with your front teeth).  Smoothies are good as long as you use a spoon.  Pudding is really good too and so is oatmeal (just swallow very small spoonfuls without chewing).  Baked potatoes and baked sweet potatoes are easy to eat if you mix in enough butter or sour cream to make them very soft.  
  •   Stock up on advil and sterile gauze pads (just in case) before surgery so you don't run out. 
  •   If you have kids at home, maybe pick up something for them to do while you recover.  A new movie, or a sticker book or whatever it is that will entertain and keep them quiet. 
I can't be the only person that googles medical procedures to try to plan out what to expect, hopefully this helps someone else out there figure out what to prepare for!

Update: I did develop a second dry socket (had that packed for the first time on day 8).  Re-packing a socket that has already been packed is uncomfortable, but not what I'd call painful, it just feels weird.  The packs are well worth the very temporary pain, they take you from "narcotics aren't really helping" to "I don't even need advil".  I was able to slowly increase my diet and activity level through the week and on day 12 ate a sandwich without cutting it into pieces first.  It's now day 13 and I'm completely comfortable brushing my teeth and eating most foods within reason.  I no longer feel like I need naps (that stopped around day 10).  I still have the dry socket packings in.  I go in next on day 18 and they think they'll be able to take them out and leave them out at that point.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Making Math Fun

So I wrote this post last week, but I took the pictures and did the final edits today.  Yesterday I had my wisdom teeth removed, so that means this post was finished under the influence of narcotics.  Forgive any randomness you might come across.

Years ago, Josh's brother introduced us to Gamewright games.   They have a large assortment of card games that are great for the whole family to play.  Last Christmas, I picked up a new one, Ka-Ching, on sale at a local store.  Neither of the girls were really ready to play it, so I just put it in the cabinet and forgot about it.

Sierra has had trouble committing her multiplication facts to memory, so I was looking for a way to encourage the process when I remembered we had Ka-Ching in the cabinet.  I got it out and found it was just what I was looking for.

The game is pretty simple to play.  There are money cards and stock cards.  All of the stock cards are laid out, face up, in five columns at the beginning of the game.  Each player is given $20, and the rest of the money is laid out as the bank.  Each player is also given a wild card worth 2 dollars.

Only two people play at a time and on your turn, you either buy one card, or sell two.
Here's where the genius comes in.  Say I want to buy a stock for $6.  I need to know if I have enough money, and also make change at the bank.  In this instance, to buy a $6 stock, the player needed to figure out $10-$6 is $4 and then take an appropriate number of $2 or $1 bills to make change for themselves.  There's a lot of basic addition and subtraction practice here.
But what if I want to sell?  You're allowed to sell two stocks if the colors match (that's where strategy comes in, you can try to block your opponent from buying higher value stocks in the colors they need).  To sell, you have to multiply the values.  So if you have a $6 and a $3 stock, you sell them for $18.  Now you need to multiply, plus add (to get the correct amount of money from the bank).

When there are only two columns of stocks left, each player must play one more turn, then the game is over.  Whoever has the most money wins. 

(she lost, she doesn't much like losing, especially to mom or dad)

I've been tutoring another child who needs to build a stronger addition foundation and work on multiplication.  We always end a session with a math game.  Sierra sits in on the sessions so she gets some extra review too and the kids LOVE it when I get out Ka-Ching.  They'll happily play the other games I give them, but they beg for Ka-Ching and when it's over, they rush to see if they can get in a second game before it's time to leave.

This game is definitely a winner.  I only wish there was an add-on pack with stocks valued up to $10 (and more money cards to accommodate the higher numbers) so we could do a sort of "lower elementary" or "upper elementary" game depending on who was playing.  Soon, I'm going to write up a post of our favorite math games you can play with a regular deck of cards, so check back for that!

**The links above are regular affiliate Amazon links.  I was not asked to, nor compensated for writing this review and we purchased the game with our own money.  Just a great find that I want to share!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Dinosaur Park

We were trying to keep our little vacation last weekend relatively cheap, but we wanted to do something besides just hang out at the resort.  The day before we left, I did some googling and came across The Dinosaur Park.   I wasn't super thrilled that Secora's ticket would cost the same as an adult's, but Josh pointed out it was a homegrown business and we decided it would be somewhat educational. 

The entrance is an unassuming little building in a gravel parking lot next to an RV park.  I've driven through Bastrop more times than I can count and I never had any clue this place existed.  Inside the building is a small gift shop that includes a nice range of toys and souvenirs.  There's nothing worse than dragging kids through a gift shop where everything is insanely expensive.  That wasn't a problem here though, we gave them each a $5 limit and they were all able to find something they wanted.  There are also really nice and clean restrooms available.  Large changing tables and enough space to take all your kids in with you if needed.  
Through the back door of the building, you enter an open space with a playground, picnic tables and fossil dig tables

There's also a T-rex head to take pictures with.  Sedona thought it was awesome to play with the teeth, Sierra was practicing her "I'm being swallowed by a T-rex" acting skills
At the edge of this clearing, the half mile trail starts.  When you pay for entrance, you're given a scavenger hunt sheet.  Throughout the trail, there are these rocks scattered about:
You look in the direction the toes point and find something hidden in the trees. Most of them are a bit more camouflaged and a little harder to find, but the first one is pretty easy:
As you continue down the trail, you get to combine nature walk with life-like dinosaurs in the trees

Each dino has an information plague similar to what you'd see in a zoo.  This tells you what it is, how to pronounce the name, and information about the dinosaur, such as which part of the world it lived in and information about how it may have lived.  This information is also available on their website.  The girls were particularly interested to see which dinosaurs would have lived in Texas.

While the dinosaurs are off limits for touching/climbing, there are some hands on things along the trail.  A stop at this replica of a dino footprint perfectly demonstrated the personality differences between the oldest girls:

They also enjoyed posing with this baby dino.  They stopped and pretended they were dino veterinarians for a while
The coolest thing was the size of the models.  It just so happened that Sedona was scheduled to do an activity mapping out the length of different dinosaurs on a long field the day after our vacation.  Instead, these models gave her a good idea of the size differences.  It was nearing lunchtime and she did keep talking about how much meat there would be in some of these dinosaurs and how tasty they would be and different ways you could go about cooking them.  Hey, when a girl's hungry, she's hungry, maybe she really could have eaten a triceratops.
Stegosaurus.  Sedona was talking about eating this one too.  Secora had recently fallen and scraped her knee, so she wasn't too into pictures at the moment
T-rex presented another great acting opportunity. 
While a nest of hatching dino eggs drew squeals of "awwwwwwwww!  How cuuuuuuuute!!"

Brachiosaurus did not disappoint with its impressive size

Spinosaurus was one of several dinosaurs I didn't know about before our visit.

This was definitely a fun stop.  We stayed for about an hour and a half.  The girls would have liked to play in the fossil dig longer or play on the playground, but it was past lunch time and we were all hungry.  I would estimate this is a 1-2 hour stop for most families. 

Fun fact, this park was opened in 2005 by a family whose kids (7 and under at the time) were obsessed with dinosaurs.  Talk about dedication to supporting your kids' passions!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vacation Time

So that last triathlon I did was out of town.  And I won a free night at the resort where the triathlon was held.  And the triathletes were given a reduced rate.  That means we were able to enjoy two nights at the Hyatt Lost Pines resort for $170 total.

My overall impression: we are not yuppy enough for the resort.  It was nice, the room was very clean, beds were comfortable, I wish I could've brought the whole bathroom home with me, and there was a fridge in the room.  Anything that cost extra money cost A LOT of extra money though.  More than we were willing to spend, so we stuck to free activities.  We did not eat in any of the restaurants because they were way out of our price range with 5 people to feed.

We did have a fun weekend sticking to the included activities though.  Mainly, the kids wanted to spend all their time at the pool.  There is a lazy river, a water slide, a couple of pools, a large baby pool and a splash pad.  No pictures from there because I wasn't taking a camera out to the pool to get ruined.  One great thing about the pool is it opened early.  So when our early risers were dressed in swimsuits at 8am, we could actually take them for a swim.

When we weren't at the pool, there was still a lot of resort to explore.  Inside, they had an activities room set up.  This gave the kids a chance to play while still taking a break from the sun.  Secora liked the giant legos:
And all the girls had fun playing ping pong
There was also a bowling set, a giant connect 4 game, tunnels to climb through and board games.

Outside, there is a butterfly garden and a hummingbird garden.  We ended up exploring these in the heat of the day, so I didn't catch anything but plants with the camera.  There were tons of butterflies around the resort though, we kept commenting on how many butterflies and bumble bees there were (happy bumble bees, with tons of their favorite flowers around, they weren't bothering anybody)

We also came across this garden spider at one point:

In the pasture, there are longhorns and llamas to visit with

There are also a couple of horses on the property.  We happened to be around on shoeing day, so the girls got to watch that and the guy was really good about explaining why it's all done the way it is.
They also got to pet the horse that was waiting for her turn
One of the best free activities is free s'mores at night.  They light up a fire pit and supply marshmallows on giant roasting sticks.  When they're done, you take them up to the table and an employee sandwiches your marshmallow between graham crackers and chocolate.

All in all, it was a good weekend.  I can't say I'd recommend paying full price, but if you happened to find a good deal, it's worth it.  Most definitely bring food with you.  There aren't microwaves, but there is a small fridge and it takes about 20 minutes to drive into town to eat anywhere else.  At the resort, you'll easily pay $15 or more per person for a meal.  We knew that ahead of time, so we brought our own food for breakfast, lunch and snacks, then drove into town for dinner.   There are a ton of activities available, everything from spa services and golf to archery and rock climbing.  Be prepared to fork over a hefty chunk of change for all of it though.

One of the highlights was on our way out of town, when we stopped to explore The Dinosaur Park.  More on that tomorrow!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Race Report

I'm back from participating in the Spa Girl Tri in Bastrop, TX!

There were some snafus with the organization of the race.  It seemed as though it was put together by people without much race directing experience.  Mainly, there were some issues with things not being quite as advertised.  Some people reported problems with timing, but aside from chips showing up a little later than expected, I didn't have any problems with getting my times accurately recorded (I remembered to start my watch this time, so I know!).  Overall, it was a fun race though.  It was nice to do an all female race.  I found my fellow racers incredibly supportive and fun to be with.   The camaraderie and conversation while we waited for the start was simply different than my experience at the last tri, which was co-ed.  On the bike portion, in particular, there were constant shouts of encouragement to other competitors.  At the end of the race, we were treated to mimosas (where they did not skimp on the champagne...I went back and asked for the bartender to "water" mine down with more OJ), and more food than I've ever received at the end of a race.  I was told at the end of the race that we had a choice between getting a medal or a racing hat.  I'm not sure if this was part of the plan, or if it was a poor planning choice of not ordering enough.  I took a hat because I don't have one yet and was considering buying one before my marathon anyway.  We are supposed to get charms and a bracelet as well, but they said when they received them, they looked cheap, so they returned them, ordered a better product and will mail them to us. I have to update here.  It turns out the medals offered were leftovers from the last spa girl tri, only the hats were specific to this tri.  Some of the participants complained (quite rudely in some cases) and we've been informed that the race organizers have designed and ordered finisher medals that are being mailed to us!  I have to really respect their actions there.  We've all gone home, they've got our money, there's no reason for them to do this other than they feel it's necessary to make things right.

On to my experience in the race!  The swim went way better than I expected.  My times had really sped up recently, so I knew it'd go better than last time.  The first 50m or so were a struggle.  I haven't done any open water swimming and this was in a lazy river with the jets turned off.  It was still a lot easier than open water, but having to sight and stay on course was new.  I inhaled way too much water at first while I got my technique down.

About halfway through, I heard the girls screaming "go momma!!"  They get SOOO excited to see Josh or I in races.  So here's me waving to them while swimming
 And then I continued on my way because I was working on passing a lady who was doing breast stroke the whole way (definitely someone you don't want to be right behind or beside in a race...much too easy to get a hard kick to the face).   I was very happy with my swim.  My time was artificially fast because even with all the jets off, the swimmers created a current you could definitely feel.  I did make it the entire way without stopping or rolling onto my back for a rest though, which was my main goal.  My pace ended up being 1:41/100m, which is about 0:30/100m faster than my best practice time so far.
 The jog to transition was interesting.  Transition was one long chute with swim in and run out at one end and bike in/out at the other end.  I chose to set up at the bike in/out end because I did not want to walk far in bike shoes.  The left me doing a good 1/4 mile jog from swim to T1 (I'm in blue)
 And then the bike.  I wanted to drive the bike route the day before, but it just never happened.  I'm very glad I never got around to it, because it would have completely psyched me out.  We were told the bike course would have rolling hills.  Throughout the entire course, you heard women saying, "they call this rolling hills?!  Really?"  My goal prior to the race was to be able to handle minor mechanical issues on my own.  Just to really put that to the test, my chain came off in the first mile.  I'm happy to report, I hopped off, snapped it back into place, and caught right back up to where I had been in the pack.  On the first uphill climb, I saw some ladies walking their bikes to the top, so I told myself, "New goal.  I am not getting off this bike."   Man, was it rough.  Way more steep and longer uphill slogs than I've ever done before.  On the downhills, I'm sure I was breaking the speed limit at times.  It definitely gave me practice with more technical cycling.  I ended up keeping up a 13.5 mph pace despite the climbs, which I was really happy with.  (I'm in the green shirt)

 After the bike, the run was almost a nice break.  The only downside was the 1 mile marker being in the wrong spot.  I spent a few moments wondering how in the world I had managed to spend 18 minutes on the first mile when I had been running, but thankfully some ladies with a GPS clued me in that we were actually at 1.31 miles.
 The last bit to the finish was also downhill.  No doubt this race was in the Texas hill country!
My goal for the run was just to do 14 minute miles because of the hilly bike course.  I surprised myself with 12:24/mile even after the bike was so much tougher than I expected.  Overall, I was 34th out of 67 for my age group and 233 out of 429 overall.  The big shocker was the swim ranking...97th overall! I went into triathlon training earlier this year unable to swim more than 25m and certainly unable to do it fast.  I never would have expected the swim to be my strong leg in a race.  Right now, it's my running I need to improve.  It's the part I like the least and it shows in how slow my improvement has been!

This should be the end of triathlons for this year since the marathon is coming up, but I'm definitely on the lookout for a race (or three) to do in the spring. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Try Tri Again

My next triathlon is coming up very soon.  This one will be a short sprint tri, only 300m swim, 10 mile bike, and 2 mile run.  Training for this tri has been interesting, particularly in swimming.  For some reason, it all suddenly "clicked" about a week after the last race.  My 400m time went from 12 minutes all the way down to 9:30 all at once and with no extra effort on my part.  I started working more on technique drills and earlier this week I swam 500m in 11:04 (at 400m, my time was 8:49).  I can't recommend Total Immersion swimming strongly enough for people wanting to get into triathlons that have no swimming background.  I started out floundering through the pool, and finishing 25m totally exhausted and needing a long break, and now after watching the TI videos and reading the book, I've gotten down to about a 2:15/100m pace and no exhaustion.  

Another big change in my swimming is that I no longer feel any need for a nose clip and swimming a mile without breaks feels like no big deal (it's not fast, but it's not exhausting).   My goal this time around was to be able to swim 300m without stopping and I've blown past that, so I need to come up with a time goal.  The swim time I put down on my registration is now significantly slower than I can actually swim so I'm still considering what a feasible time goal will be since I'll probably be having to pass people.  This swim is also in a lazy river (with the jets turned off), so having to actually pay attention to where I'm going will probably slow me down.  I have no open water swim experience yet, I'm only used to going in straight lines with the line on the bottom of the pool to guide me.  A lazy river is a good stepping stone between pool and open water swimming, right?

I was happy with my bike last time, so my goal this time around has been to be able to take care of a flat tire without help.  Josh has extensive road bike racing experience, so he's always spoiled me by being my bike mechanic.  It had been years since I changed a tube on my own and I just knew that while I've lucked out so far, riding longer distances and in more races was going to eventually leave me having to do some sort of work on my bike by myself.  So I asked Josh to talk me through how to change a tube.  Last night, I put new tubes on both wheels all by myself.  Still takes me about 10 minutes to get done, but that's quicker than walking an entire bike course!

And running is miserable with the summer Texas heat, but a few weeks ago, I got in a sub-90 degree run and I was significantly faster than my normal time, so I think just getting into fall temperatures will make a big difference there. I was able to run a sub-10 minute mile for the first time ever (or, at least, I don't remember ever doing it before and it seems like something I'd remember) recently, so I know I'm making progress.  The bike course on this tri is quite hilly, so I think I'm going to stick with a 14 minute/mile goal at the race. 

So I've just been plugging away at my training plan, enjoying the mental health vacation I get by having that bit of alone time most evenings and plotting which races I want to sign up for next year.  I'm definitely still loving the tri training.  Okay, maybe I complain about running when the heat index is over 100, and biking when it's windy.  And maybe the swim team still kicks my rear when I'm swimming laps.  But I love the variety and I feel like the frequent cardio work is keeping my anxiety at bay.  It hasn't been so good for my grocery budget, turns out I'm eating about 3,000 calories a day to keep my weight steady.  And of course, it's not like you can fuel all those miles with cheap junk food.  But the extra food is still cheaper than therapy.

I'm definitely thinking there's a half-ironman in my future.  I see open water swimming as my biggest hurdle to getting there.  After this tri, I need to focus on the marathon I'm signed up for, but the next thing on my radar is an olympic distance triathlon (which is somewhere around 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike and 10K run).  I'd like to do an oly next year.  Some of those have pool swims, but most are open water swim, so I'm going to need to figure out the details of where to do that and find someone willing to join me and help me learn how to stay safe. 

I'm still not quite sure what I was thinking when I signed up for that marathon.  26.2 miles on foot.  That's an awful lot of miles.  I'm hoping it's more appealing when the heat lets up a little bit!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Teaching 9/11

We are independent homeschoolers.  We don't participate in a co-op, and we don't take any outside academic classes.  That means we're completely responsible for our children's entire education.  While in many families, there is another teacher to break the ice on tough topics and parents can focus on answering the follow-up questions, we need to find the best time and way to present this information from scratch. 

Our children weren't yet born on 9/11.  We were in college and I was getting ready for a morning biochem lecture when I saw the live footage on the news of the second plane hitting and the first building falling. 

Now that I have kids that I'm educating, I have to find a way to relay this event to them.  This one moment in history.  Those few hours on a fall morning that were the turning point for our generation.  I also have to give them the context.  They don't know the world was different pre-9/11 because they have only lived in a post-9/11 world. 

As we work our way through history chronologically (we follow a 4 year cycle), we often point out the area of the world we're talking about on a globe.  We have had many conversations about armies and wars and the near constant upheaval in the middle east.  Back in first grade, with a study of ancient history, war in the middle east was a topic we discussed along with a side note that it's still going on.  It always has been.  This year we are up to modern history.  This is the year we specifically cover the event of 9/11 and what it meant to the United States.  This year I decide how graphic I should be with my 9 year old and how best to present the information of what happened that day and in the immediate aftermath. 

What we won't do is be mired down in a lamentation about the division and finger pointing going on in the country right now as if it's something completely new that has never existed.  Throughout our history study, we relate historical events to modern day occurrences.  History does repeat itself and there are recurring themes that come up over and over again.  People fight about the same things over and over again.  Religions attacking other religions, is regulation of business good or bad, is this type of taxation or that one more fair, is that group of people entitled to the same rights as this group of people, what limits should exist on immigration, and just for a little it wise to attack Russia on foot in winter.  Major turning points in history obviously make a huge impact on those who live through them.  9/11 will certainly go down in the books as an event that altered the course of history.  My kids will know this along with what lead up to it and what happened afterwards.  What they won't be taught is that it means the world is coming to an end.  That the current division in the country is something completely new that we've never seen before.  After all, we begin studying the United States Civil War today. 

I was never much of a history buff in my younger days.  I passed high school and college courses just fine, but I was never inspired to stray outside the approved lesson plan to learn more on my own.  Over the last few years, it's become much more interesting to me and the overarching lesson I've learned is that horrible things have been happening for a long time.  And wonderful things have been happening for a long time.  And horrible things and wonderful things are still happening now.  In some odd way, this is very comforting to my anxiety prone brain.  In our school lessons, I plan to keep this bigger picture at the forefront while we dive deeper on specific events.  I'm hopeful that will help us to honor those who have lost their lives in recent events without getting stuck in a "the world is going to hell in a hand basket" quagmire. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Adventures in Carsickness

About a month ago, we took a trip to the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory.  The girls had a lot of fun touring the factory and taste testing ice cream:
But before we got there, I finally figured out that Secora gets carsick.  There had been some indications of this in the past, but we hadn't really clued in.  She had gotten a bit whiny on some longer car rides and on our last 300 mile drive she threw up twice, but she had been eating and we thought she just ate too fast or got choked up or something.   When no one else got sick, we just wrote it off as a fluke.

When she cried out at the end of a 45 minute drive and I turned around to see her and her carseat covered with vomit, the light bulb finally went off.  She's getting carsick.   I don't know why I didn't figure this out sooner, since I am very prone to carsickness.

Thankfully, I just happened to have supplies in the car to clean her up.  Between her, Sierra's abdominal migraine/cyclic vomiting issues and Sedona possibly starting up on the abdominal migraine fun too, I decided it was time to just put together a carsick kit for the car:
Here's what I included and why:
Wet wipes (I used the ones leftover from Secora's hospital stay, but baby wipes are great) to clean up the kid
A roll of paper towels to soak up the bulk of the spill and to dry the carseat
Clorox wipes to clean up and sanitize the car, carseat, or anything else that was in the line of fire
Plastic bags for dirty laundry and trash.  I stuffed 4 bags in the center of the paper towel roll so I have a laundry bag and trash bag ready for two incidents
Fresh clothes to change into.  I put in 2 sets of jammies because who doesn't want to be comfortable after puking?  I need to add in at least a t-shirt for the older girls, though they're less likely to be so messy since they can give me more warning about their impending reversal of fortune.
Hand sanitizer because, well, do I really need to explain that?  I also threw in hand cleansing wipes we just had laying around
Emesis bags to hopefully catch the mess before the rest of this stuff is needed.  Again, we had leftovers from the hospital, but you can order the hospital version, or other styles on amazon.
Small bottle of water.  I haven't added this yet, but something to rinse out her mouth just in case we don't have another drink in the car.
Disposable gloves.  A pair or two could definitely come in handy with bigger messes. 
My plan is to leave this whole box in the back of the car so it's always available.  I'm also keeping chewable dramamine in my diaper bag these days because I gave her a dose of that before we headed home from the Blue Bell factory and she did fine on the return trip.  I wish I could throw that in the box too so I'm sure to always have an extra dose or two, but our temperatures are too extreme here to keep medication in the car.  I also always carry zofran with me for Sierra now (for nausea), so we have that available as well.

This is my first experience in dealing with carsickness in a person unable to tell me they are feeling sick.  Does anyone else have tips to share? 


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