Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On Running

I have reached a point in my life where I am not happy with my physical shape and size so I have decided to do something about it. This is not the first time this has happened to me and I have been lucky enough to shed pounds and "return" to the person I have always intended to be with relative ease. (Indeed, the last time this happened--11 years ago--I had a bad break-up and responded by simply biking around the chain of lakes in Minneapolis every night after work as a way to hide from life. Turns out, I was actually giving myself my life back. I also dropped 30 pounds in the process.)

But having kids has changed more than just my body. My free time is already constantly on the chopping block as a stay at home mom, and to add to that, I'm also a student again which means that I am always studying.

After Jackson, I was able to drop the pregnancy weight in the "normal" amount of time (they say nine months to put it on, nine months to take it off,) and even bypassed that by five pounds the other direction. Then Amelia came and, well, it didn't come off very easily (at all?) after the second time.

Not. Acceptable.

I have dresses in my closet that I love! I have the perfect jeans just sitting there waiting for me! (Hello, size 8, it will be awhile, but we'll be together again.) I'm tired of never being able to find suitable NEW clothing that I like and that fits!

In short, I'm tired of my skin. So it's time to shed it.

I signed up for the Minneapolis Duathlon for this summer as a major fitness goal to get me moving again and so far, so good. I have always wanted to do a triathlon but I hate swimming, so this one seems like a good fit for me. It's a 5K run, followed by an 18-mile bike ride, then another 5K run. I LOVE biking. Love it with all of my being. I can't wait to be so prepped and trained and ready for that portion that I can just hop on the saddle and fly without even thinking about the effort.

The running is another story for me. I have done a few 5K races before and was never the last finisher, but I was definitely mediocre all the way. I did one 10K trail race once which I basically trained for by NOT running (super smart, right? I think I thought that my summer of backpacking would equate to being ready for it, but it didn't...big surprise) and we shall never discuss that one again. Running has never been my first choice and there are a number of reasons why. But, I am also a person who doesn't like excuses--especially from myself--so I've trashed all of my reasons:

1. "I'm too large-chested to enjoy running." --> Solution: Get a better sports bra. (It's on its way and I'll link to it if I turn out to love it. Highly recommended by friends, so I'm hopeful.)

2. "My knees are getting old and couldn't handle it." --> Solution: Really? Try running. Turns out, the knees were actually creaky BECAUSE of the lack of activity. They haven't creaked or cracked or complained once yet.

3. "It's boring." --> Solution: Put running in the same meditative place where biking and knitting go in my head. I am capable of doing incredibly "boring" work for long stretches and have proven it again and again with biking and knitting. (Case in point: I'm knitting a size 4T dress for Amelia from sock yarn on size 2 needles at the moment. See?)

4. "I don't have the right gear." --> Solution: So...get the gear, dummy.

Done, done, done, and done. No more excuses. I'm taking it very slow for starters (it's only March and the race isn't until August) and am still in the "walk one block, run one block" phase. But it's not bad. I have learned that it's easier to run farther if I look up (straight ahead) instead of at my feet and if I concentrate on finding my "numb zone" where I just keep going because my legs are a machine and they just need to run. I can do this with biking with relative ease, but it's harder for me to find this zone with running this time around. I know I will though. I have before. And I really want to do well in this race. ("Do well" = personal goals only, no competitive agenda for the first big race)

I will always be a biker first though. Tonight, when I was dragging a little and not wanting to run the next block, "Bicycle Race" by Queen came on my new iPod. The lyrics made me sprint! I was pretending that I was actually on a bicycle instead of just running. I am in no way ready for sprinting yet, but it was fun and maybe that's a huge clue right there too. Whatever I can do to make it fun, the more likely I am to want to do it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why I don't watch "Parenthood"

(cross-posted from ilovemyaspie.blogspot.com)

I just figured out why I still have not watched the NBC show "Parenthood," despite being implored to watch it by countless friends and family members. Apparently, one of the characters on the show so greatly resembles my son that everyone feels that I really need to watch it. Though I never have.

It's not because I don't like getting into a TV series. It's not because I don't have a TV (I don't, but that doesn't stop me from watching shows in this modern era of the Internet).

But I think it is because I am already living this life with a challenging, bright, frustrating, awesome, difficult, and totally lovable Aspie boy in the flesh and I don't feel that I need to spend hours each week watching a fictional show of a family going through the same thing.

Some would say that that is exactly why I should watch it--because the family on the show supposedly knows how we feel--and I can feel that we're not alone while watching it. My response to that is that we already feel that we're not alone because of the support system we have in place made up of real people with Aspie kids in our area and real professionals here who help us daily. And on the days when I do feel alone, I can promise you that watching a piece of fiction wouldn't change that. Those are the days when I need to have coffee with a friend--parent of an Aspie or not--to ground myself again.

But what I do think is cool about the "Parenthood" show, and what I am grateful for that is a result of all of these incredibly well-meaning suggestions that I watch it, is that it has helped EVERYONE ELSE understand what we're going through a little bit more, without us having to school everyone personally. Each person who makes the connection that the little boy on the show is a lot like Jackson, and then watches a difficult situation on the screen or sees the family's joy in his intense abilities in another area, also makes the connection that our days in this family, in this house, with this child, are a lot like that show. (For better or for worse, since I've never seen it.) They might be realizing why play dates are not always graceful for us, why we hover and give a lot more input than normal when Jackson's having a conversation with someone, and why we are so intensely proud of our son for his intelligence. It normalizes Asperger's for everyone else.

Given that the main reason I don't watch "Parenthood" is because I am already living that life and don't need to see it on the screen again, the secondary reason is that I'd rather watch a completely different "life" on the screen when I do find some time on the couch to watch TV. "Downton Abbey," (the new) "Sherlock Holmes," and "Battlestar Galactica," to name a few. Take me away to a completely different world (perhaps without Asperger's?) and I'm a happy clam. TV time is off-duty time when the kids are in bed, after all. Let me forget and relax a little bit while you watch and learn about us. Then let's meet for coffee to connect and keep it real!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jackson's Story (cross-posted)

This is a presentation that was given to a graduate course on special education at the University of St. Thomas on 12/1/11. I am posting it here for the sake of posterity.


My name is Catherine and I was asked to talk about my son, focusing on our journey through diagnosis and experiences with special education. Not specifically noted here but not at all insignificant is the support we received from Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) throughout Jackson's early years (and continuing today). When things got extremely rough and we were pulling out of other programs right and left, we continued with ECFE both for continuity for Jackson and for sanity for me. The unconditional support we received from ECFE served as a pillar of strength for our family when we didn't have very much strength of our own to draw upon.


Jackson is a person of extremes, which will all start to make sense in a few minutes, but it did not make sense to us at all when he was first born. We didn't even realize the extremes until they had long since passed.

(Click here to read the rest of this story. It was originally posted on my Aspie blog.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Passing off his new R2D2 toy for his sister to watch over it while he was at school. My teary-eyed moment on the first day of Kindergarten wasn't dropping him off, it was THIS moment!

Not all that interested in being photographed (surprise).

Squinty eyes looking into the sun, pictured here with new team of teachers.

Being silly with little sis.

The closest thing I could get for a "real" smile. I'll take it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nobody could have predicted this

I have earned three A's over the course of the summer, so I hope that will suffice as a pretty good excuse for not being present here on this blog (two of the courses were taken concurrently during one summer session which equates to full-time student status, something I had not realized and lamented--nay, outright bitched and moaned about--daily). Two of the A's are for math.* That's right, M-A-T-H. I promised to explain why I had to catch an algebra train in a previous post, but then didn't have time to explain.
To sum up, the prerequisites that I need for the graduate program to which I am applying have prerequisites and I got bumped pretty far down the math and science ladder. (Turns out having two degrees in social sciences and cultural studies isn't enough to get into grad school.) Rather than complain about the math component, however, I just jumped in (okay, fine, I complained too).

Elementary algebra and intermediate algebra were first up on the docket to make me eligible to re-take statistics (only because my last stats grade on record--an A--is 15 years old and they want it no less than 5 years ago). I was nervous going in, but I quickly picked up on the rhythm and maneuvered my way through the courses with fairly smooth sailing.**
...and I just need to highlight this here...

(Taught myself = they were self-directed courses with tutors for assistance, no lectures; history = I got a D in algebra in high school and that was my last math class, despite A's in nearly every class that I liked in high school and college since then)

How happy was I to realize that I not only CAN do math, but also that I can do pretty well in it? Fly me to the moon, baby. Chemistry is next. (And stats, of course...)
*The other class was Medical Terminology, another online course. I actually read an entire textbook, cover to cover, in 5 weeks. Easy A, but a lot of work.

**"fairly smooth sailing" = totally panicking before each test, freaking out over each homework assignment to get them perfect and not missing a moment of study/math center time so I could maximize the opportunity to ask questions in person. Dan probably wouldn't call it "smooth sailing" from his vantage point of supportive spouse.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I found Jackson teaching Amelia how to play Mancala today and captured the end in this short film. I had nothing to do with it (I was in the kitchen making dinner) and am so impressed with both of them. I'm trying to incorporate more turn-taking board games during the day now that Amelia is old enough to understand some of them. She LOVES playing with her big brother. And I love that he is such a patient teacher with her here. This is not always the case!

(My favorite part is the end though it's almost too soft to hear, J to A: "Do you like it?" A: smiles and nods...)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I use this recipe for crust and this recipe for the filling. DEE-LISH-US.

Strawberry Picking

He was a good helper at first...
...but then he got bored.
The perfect strawberry

Helping Dad
The strawberry of my eye.

"Picking strawberries is dumb."

"I'm still pouting."

15 pounds of berries!

My Strawberry Girl
"Picking strawberries is dumb."
"Ooh, look! A grasshopper!"

Amelia Learns to Jump In the Pool