Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Diary of a picky eater, update

A Healthy SnackImage by ahockley via FlickrSince the day she was sick at school, I've been working with Ethel to feel safe and secure, and make sure she's rested and has a full tummy.  Fatigue and hunger lead quickly to mood swings, and when you're six and you don't know that, you end up with a huge attitude.  It's not easy to try to keep Crabby Patty at bay and keep her tummy from running on empty, but we're managing with lots of pasta and some oatmeal breakfasts.

We got a recommendation for a psychiatrist and I made an appointment to see her with Ethel in August.  I explained to the doctor that I don't know where to turn or what the right avenue is, but I think there is some level of anxiety surrounding Ethel's use of food as a control item and her resistance to going to places because of food.

In the meantime, I'm doing my best to give Ethel areas of control, whether it be choosing what shape pasta to eat, rewarding her for feeding the cats without being asked, or letting her pour her own cereal and milk in the morning.

She's been doing really well when it comes to going to camp at day care, and she hasn't had any protest about going places due to food.  I feel better knowing that we will soon be able to talk to someone and come a little closer to knowing how to handle whatever it is that's going on in Ethel's world that's causing her this angst.

And the journey continues....
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Friday, July 22, 2011

The Running Chronicles - the half marathon horizon

At this time last year, I was struggling to run the 3/4 mile walking path near my house without needing CPR.  I could barely get to the end of my street before being winded.  Today, I have completed nine races (two more than all last year), including 5K's, 8K's, and 10K's.  I can safely run at least 6 miles without the need for an ambulance near by.  I have made some pretty decent progress in the last 12 months.  Wow.

My 2011 races as follows, to date:
March 13 - St Paddy's Shamrock Shuffle 5K - time 28:07
April 10 - Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8K - time 44:24 (with a 5K PR time of 26:54)
April 17 - Equestrian Connection 8K - time 49:16:5
April 23 - Egg Shell Shuffle 5K - time 26:03
May 26 - Chicago Corporate Challenge 3.5 miles - time 29:10
May 29 - Salute Inc. Memorial Day 10K - time 59:32:3.
June 5 - United Run For The Zoo - time 1:00:41
June 11 - CVS Run to Stop The Cycle of CVS - time 26:03
July 3 - Frontier Days Stampede 10K - time 1:01:28
Next on the calendar - Running in the Brook - 5K July 30th

Now that's a pile of miles

So my longest run, to date, is the 7.64 trail miles I did last weekend.  It's been super hot here and my schedule this week hasn't gotten me out of the house for a run, about which I'm totally bummed.  Still, I'm going to work on 8 miles this weekend.

I've been thinking, for a while now, that my next step should be a half marathon.  Logically, it wouldn't be that hard to stack on some more miles on my weekend runs, and it wouldn't be that difficult to put my two week night short runs back on the schedule.  I get it.  I could do it.  I keep hearing people tell me it's totally realistic, and it's the next logical step.  OK.  So why is my head giving me such a hard time?

Is it because 13.1 miles *seems* so insurmountable a distance?  Is it because I'm afraid my IT bands aren't up for the challenge?  Is it because I'm afraid *I* am not up for the challenge?

This is the right time for me.  I've finally started to pace myself, take it slower, and I think I even had a negative split in my last 10K {don't get too excited, it was probably only about a 30 second split}.  So why am I not 100% sure of myself meeting the challenge of the half marathon?  Why?

Muddy shoes = a race well run {?}
I guess, in my mind, I have this image of the half marathon runner which I don't relate myself to.  I can't say what it looks like, but I don't think *I* look like it.  The good shoes.  The hydration belt.  The visor.  The sleeveless racing shirt.  The running skirt.  The great stride, the steady pace.  What?  What is my problem?  It's not about how you look, it's about getting out there and doing it!  Accomplishing a goal, beating a personal best, performing and recovering like you never have before.  Doing it.  That's what it's about.  Getting out there and just plain doing it.  Who cares if you walk a little, stop for water, get passed up by the AARP crowd or the stroller jogger, or the junior high track star {my friends and I have a running joke (no pun intended) of "Guess who I got passed by" in each of our races together}.  You're out there, you're doing it, and that's a lot more than most people can say!

Chicago MarathonImage via Wikipedia
At the same time, I'm considering doing the Chicago Marathon in 2012 to celebrate my 40th birthday.  What?  Dude.  I don't know what's come over me!!

So, I'm on my way to my first half marathon.  There.  I said it.  Now if that's not hot confidence, I don't know what is!!

You aer a star - by Ethel

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Diary of a picky eater

Veggie AbundanceImage by apple_pathways via Flickr
To say my daughter is a picky eater is like saying that the haboob in Phoenix was a poof of dust.  To say she is petite is like saying Michael Jordan was a pretty good basketball player.  Still, she is healthy and her pediatrician has not been worried about her, knowing that kids won't let themselves starve.  Ethel is simply at the low end of the weight range, but is growing and thriving and doing everything that a six year old should, including being a picky eater.

As a childhood picky eater, myself, I get the idea of not liking most anything that is served.  As a mom, I was really excited when my kids devoured everything I made them when I began making baby food and slowly introducing solid foods.  I learned a lot about food from making baby food and began to really enjoy cooking in general, so cooking for the kids was actually fun.  Cooking for the family, then, was a pleasure.  I made everything for the kids essentially from scratch and made sure not to use or serve boxed, processed foods until I got pregnant and realized the ease of mac & cheese in the box.  But that's another story, I digress.

The trouble with Ethel and picky eating began when she was a toddler, about 15 months old, even before her brother was born.  Her teacher came to me to let me know that they were having to work with Ethel on coming to the table at lunch time.  She was refusing to come to the table because there were vegetables on the plates, including hers.  She slowly started to eliminate orange, green, and yellow foods from her diet about that time.  OK, lots of kids reject veggies, no worries.  Even I don't like vegetables, so how could I blame her?  Still, I had stepped up my own vegetable intake hoping to be a better example for her, guess that didn't work.  OK, I can live with a kid that doesn't like veggies, and we moved on, and got her finally to come to the table at day care despite what was being served.

Next came the elimination of many more foods over the next couple of years.  Cottage cheese, spaghetti sauce, cheese quesadillas, fried rice, meat, scrambled eggs, Mommy's home made chicken nuggets and mac & cheese, PB&J, soup, oh why am I even trying to list it out?  The list of foods she will eat is so much shorter.  Sure, that's the case with most sixes, but, no, this list isn't even 10 items long.

I've asked her pediatrician at each check up if we need to worry about her limited diet, and she has always held that Ethel has a growth curve, she meets all the developmental milestones, and is thriving despite her limited diet.  From a physical health standpoint, her limited diet is not a concern.  OK, I'm cool with that.

While the limited diet isn't a physical concern, I also was not going to become a short order cook, making a different dinner for Ethel.  So I tried all the expert tips.  Serve it a thousand times and she'll eventually try it.  Make sure there is at least one thing on her plate that she likes and you know she'll eat.  Try a 'one bite' rule so she has to take one bite of everything served.  Hide the veggies in sauces and dips and in other foods.  OK, I tried them all, and then some.  Ethel has never dipped.  She stopped eating sauces.  She finally stopped even coming into the dining room when I served food she didn't like.  OK, now how do you serve food to a kid who won't even enter the room?? 
I slowly became more and more frustrated.  She now sustains on pasta (plain noodles), cereal (about four kinds), oatmeal, Nutella on whole wheat (no crust), Mac & Cheese (sometimes, it's falling out of favour), yogurt (smooth only), milk, water, juice, certain kinds of crackers, and fruit (which fruit depends on which way the wind is blowing).

So a limited diet is what I face with my daughter, and I tried to be OK with that.  Then I started to see her reject foods from this small list, even when she's just eaten them the day before.  Then, this past school year, she dreaded going to day care on her school days off because she said she doesn't like the lunches.  The lunches.  Forget seeing friends, forget a change of scenery, forget that she doesn't have a choice, she doesn't want to go because of the lunches.  20-30 minutes of her day makes her want to skip it altogether.  Fab.  That's awesome.  And that's just what a mom wants to hear on a Monday morning when she's trying to get her kids out the door and not be late to work.

She survived the few days during the school year when she had to "endure" the day at day care.  Next came summer vacation, when she'd be there three full days a week.  Oh, the tears and drama.  And all because of the lunches.  The food.  She was dreading summer at day care because of the food.  Holy hell.

Summer came and I explained to her that the food is not the same as it was last summer, and to give it a try.  I told her just to eat the foods she liked and leave the rest.  Just eat something.  And she did.  She did fine for the first few weeks.  Then she started to slip again.  Not every day, but she began to say she didn't want to go to day care again, because of the lunches.  Ugh!!

We had food struggles at home as soon as school let out.  When I said we were having X for snack (something on her list), she yelled and told me no, she wanted Z.  When I said we were having lunch in 10 minutes, she told me no, she wanted lunch NOW.  When I said we were eating dinner now, she said no, I don't want dinner yet.  If I said the sky was blue, she said it was black.  You get the idea.

One night she refused noodles.  At a sleep over at friends' (whom she knows well), she ate nothing at dinner or breakfast, despite the offer for all foods she knowingly eats (cereal, milk, toaster waffles).  She became more and more resistant and defiant when food was the subject.  Finally, she demanded that I make her a lunch to take on a play date where she would be during the lunch hour.  She claimed that they would not have food that she liked.  Now it was blatant that she was using food as a control item, but I had no idea what she felt was out of control, and why it was manifesting in food.  Great.

This brings us to where were are today.  This week on Monday she battled me in the morning about going to day care.  She wouldn't get out of bed, wouldn't get dressed, wouldn't even eat breakfast.  We were a little later than normal when we got to day care, and she was c.l.i.n.g.y.  Another thing she's started in the last few weeks.  I just couldn't seem to win on Monday morning.  What a great way to start the week.

So Monday night when I got home from work, Ethel reported to me that a good friend told her and another girl that he'd never play with them again.  OK, how many times have we heard that from a kid before?  I told her he would play with her again, not to worry, and that was the end of that.  Then we had dinner.  I grilled a pork loin, served it with apple sauce and apple slices for the kids, and a piece of bread for each of them.  Ethel ate her apples, then the bread, then asked for more bread.  I told her no bread until she ate all her apple sauce and tried a piece of the meat. 

Did you see The Exorsist?  Well, we witnessed it right in our own dining room that night, minus a few points.  Yelling, crying, stomping, running out of the room, you name it.  She refused to even look at the meat, and demanded that we give her another piece of bread.  After 20 or 30 minutes of yelling and being locked in her room for screaming, etc, she finally came downstairs, still crying, but, she willed herself to put a piece of meat in her mouth, chew one time, and then spit it out and put it back on the plate.

SHE TRIED A PIECE OF MEAT!!!!  She hasn't tried something new in at least two years, I kid you not.  Wow!!  We praised her, gave her another piece of bread, and the drama ended.  Then came bed time.  Oh my.

I told her the next day was a swimming field trip to a pool she liked when they went a couple weeks ago.  I laid out her swim suit and told her we'd put on sun screen in the morning before leaving for day care.  She refused.  The "I don't want to" and "I won't go there again" and the "I don't like it at {day care}", she rattled them all off for me, crying.  Again, it was because of the lunches, she doesn't like the lunches, even the ones they take on the field trips.  WTF??  I calmly talked to her and asked her why the lunches are so terrible that she would want to not even go on the field trip.  What could be so bad about it?  That's when she tried to tell me that, in her words, they force her to eat the lunches, she doesn't like what they give her, and there's nothing she likes when they go on the field trips.  This went on for a bit, then she told me, through tears, that she misses me during the day.  Ethel has never said this to me, and is not the kid who pines away for their Mommy.  I was so taken aback by this!

After promising her that I'd talk to the director and let her know Ethel is having a tough time with the food, Ethel finally went to sleep for the night.

Tuesday morning it was nearly impossible to get her up.  She only wanted to lay down, despite the fact that it was a pool field trip that day!  Took her forever to get into her suit and down to breakfast, where she took two bites of her fav cereal, then left the table to lie down again.  Not typical for her, but I knew she wasn't sick.  In my gut, I knew that she had gotten herself so worked up that her stomach had to be in knots.  I refused to keep her home, and took her in anyway.  When we got to day care, she again wanted to lay down, and she did.  I talked to one of the teachers, one who has known Ethel since she was an infant (and was the tollder teacher when Ethel started refusing to come to the table).  I explained that I didn't believe Ethel was sick, but that this was some sort of anxiety related thing, and she'd be OK once they went on their field trip.  I explained to her that I'd call the director to discuss Ethel saying she is forced to eat, and the fact that her focus on food is starting to interfere with her daily life (and mine!).  The teacher agreed and said she's also let the director know.

8:20AM - voice mail from day care - Ethel threw up.  No fever. 

Now my kid has thrown up, most likely from the anxiety of not wanting to eat that day (and in the past).  She has built this up over time, and it finally came out like this.  Oh my.  I agreed to come take her home.

I called my husband on the way there and told him we definitely have to figure this out.  We have to get to the bottom of whatever it is that is making Ethel exhibit control through food, and experience this anxiety over going places because of food.  He agreed.  Once I got to day care, I talked for a long time with the director. 

She immediately agreed that Ethel has always been a picky eater, but, for her to take it to the level of not wanting to go places because of food, it's much more than just being picky.  The director had already talked to the teachers, already had some ideas about what might be going on in Ethel's mind, and we shared thoughts, ideas, and she shared a few things she's witnessed with Ethel recently which make more sense now that we were talking in this context.  I really felt like it was a productive conversation about how to best help Ethel in a team effort rather than just one of us having a game plan and giving it to the other.  She agreed that they would not ask Ethel to try more food than she's willing to eat voluntarily.  She also agreed to let Ethel have a comfort item (something Ethel has never had or wanted before) so that she can help soothe herself when she is feeling the need to do so.  I also told the director that I would be engaging a psychologist or psychiatrist to help me understand what is happening with my little girl, and she agreed that would be a good step.  She also agreed that Ethel could return today since we had talked and we know Ethel was not "sick", and also because we didn't want to collectively give her the signal that she can get away with "being sick" when she is not comfortable or is anxious.

We talked, also, about the fact that the camp class this summer spans a broad range in ages, from 5 to almost 12.  It's not a huge group, but that's a large difference in ages.  She told me she notices Ethel trying to find her niche in the group, to figure out which kids (the older or younger) she relates to more, where she fits in.  She also filled me in on the friend who said he wouldn't play with her any more.  Turns out, Ethel told on him when they were playing, and in return, he said he didn't want to play with her.  That makes more sense to me.  So now we've identified social interactions and situations where Ethel may be seeking control, but can't quite find it.  She's out of her comfort zone, and is trying desperately to find her way back to it.  Ah ha!

I got Ethel from her classroom and took her home.  Instantly she was energetic, smily, and glad to be going home.  All definitive signs that she was truly not sick.  :)

I worked from home the balance of the day, taking a break here or there to tend to her request for another snack, drink, or to color in a coloring book. She was relaxed and happy all day, and happy to see Daddy and Fred when they came home after their day at work and day care.  She sat with us at dinner and ate her plain noodles and milk, and drank a little of the smoothie I made before deciding she didn't like it.  Bed time was also without incident, and I prepared her for returning to day care in the morning.

Her day at day care today was fine, and she enjoyed the field trip they went on.  I left a voice mail for the psychiatrist whose name I was given.  Then she told me at dinner she didn't like Mac & Cheese, but only after taking a few bites.  There's still something there, something she's not verbalizing, but at least I know she ate a little before throwing in the towel.

In the end, I am fine with my daughter being a picky eater.  If she spends the next 10 years eating only cereal and buttered noodles, more power to her.  What I'm worried about is the fact that something is driving her to use food as a control vehicle, and I can't identify what it is.  We're on our way to getting to the bottom of it, and hopefully she won't be making herself sick over it any more.
And Mommy hopes there's enough coffee and wine to help her through this! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Working mom guilt

Today is just one of those days I am riddled with guilt that I'm not home with my kids for the summer.

The kids don't want to get up, get dressed, wear those socks, put on those shoes, find that camp shirt, eat that cereal, it's one of those mornings.

You're mean, you woke me up!

That's not the shirt I want to wear!

I want to get my clothes on myself!

You have to help me, this shirt is too hard to get on myself!
{where's my coffee?}
No, Mommy, I don't need to brush my hair, it's fine!

I want milk in my cereal!

Mommy, you have to buy me new socks, I don't like these!

I am NOT poopy, you don't smell anything!

Why is there milk in my cereal?!
{is it too early for a Bloody Mary?}
Mommy, why do we have to go to {day care} all the time? (a working parent's favourite question)

I don't want him to get in the car on my side!


Summer Shandy, take me away!

**I apologize, the text in this entry was not published yesterday, so it probably made no sense when it appeared!  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Livin' the dream, friends

After two incidents earlier in the week {both of which I can't bear to even write about}, I think I've hit the trifecta.

Fred woke Thursday morning around 3AM.  No reason, just up.  He did lay in bed another hour or so, but finally got up close to 4:30-ish to play.  Great start to the day, eh?

Fred came to me around 8AM to tell me he'd spilled his potty in his room. Assuming he'd just bumped the training potty, which has some water in it, I figured I'd just find a spill on the laminate floor in his room, easy peasy, right? Well, that's not what I found. Here's what I did find.

Training potty, open, on the carpet in the hall. Poop and potty spilled out on the carpet.
The above, splashed on the wall in the stairway higher than I can reach even with a ladder, and splatter all the way down to the bottom step, in the dining room, and on the floor in the entry.
Oh the smell. Feces and urine all over my carpet, wall, and stairway.  We're livin' the dream, friends, livin' the dream.

I tried not to cry.  I tried not to yell.  With everything else I've been dealing with this week, not the least of which is being super busy at work, I knew I had to keep my composure or risk going over the deep end.  With a deadline before me for work (I'm a part time telecommuter), this was not what I needed to start this, or any, day.
Ancient roman latrines / latrinae, Ostia AnticaImage via Wikipedia
All this, and Ethel still wanted me to get the pool out for them in the back yard.  Because I'm apparently made of nothing but time.  Oh save me.

I dare anyone to be jealous of the work from home mom.

And the fun continued.

I let the kids have 1 hour of quiet time in their own rooms before having some together (just over an hour) now that school is out for Ethel for the summer and neither of them naps. With Fred's poop incident in the morning, I realized I couldn't fly off the handle because it would be for all the wrong reasons, stresses unrelated to the poop on the wall. Not that the poop on the wall wasn't a good reason to go all Crazy Mama, but I digress.

So I went upstairs to help the kids clean up since they'd been playing really well together for over an hour (or so it sounded), and to let them know we could call it quits on quiet time soon.

That's when I found Fred with his ARMS IN THE TOILET!! Up to his elbows!! Then Ethel said, "You can't catch me!" and she ran into his room, and he ran after her. OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG.......

I had asked them 30 minutes prior to start cleaning up and I'd set the timer, usually an effective tool.  They hadn't done jack! I took 5 deep breaths and made Fred wash his hands, then told them they needed to clean up. Fred resisted, declared he didn't want to, etc.  Ethel hopped right to it, though. I followed Fred, telling him to pick this up, where to put it, etc, all he did was smile. So I went and got a garbage bag and started to bag up Fred's things that were all over his room. Animals, pillows, books, you name it. He began bawling, saying he'll start to clean up, the whole nine yards. I am UP TO HERE and told him no, I was giving it to the neighbor for her garage sale. Oh, the tears that flowed from that!

Ethel was frantically cleaning up her room when she started to try to bargain on Fred's behalf, telling me I'd never taken her stuff and given it to the neighbor, so maybe he could have his stuff back some time. Poor dear.  She is so protective of her brother. 

I put his stuff in the closet in the guest room and will hold it for one week. One of the things I took was Maxy dog, the dog he sleeps with. Well, that's the way that cookie crumbles kid!

These are the days when Calgon isn't nearly enough.  It's got to be Bloody Mary therapy.
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Saturday, July 2, 2011

The running chronicles, it's been a while

Wow, the last run I posted was Mother's Day.  Yikes!  I've had lots of races since then, and one coming up again tomorrow.  Here's a snapshot of how the season has gone since May:

Memorial Day weekend was my first 10K ever.  I went into the race trying to remember it was my first 10, I didn't have to break land-speed records, and to take it easy.  The morning was humid, making it feel almost chilly and the air clammy.  It wasn't ideal, but wasn't awful.  I walked a lot in that race.  I hate walking.  I was hot in the race shirt, 100% cotton, and my long sleeved running shirt and it took its toll on me about half way through.  I finished the race in one hour, which was actually a pretty good time considering that it was my first race at that distance.  I beat myself up, mentally, during and after the race, and it took me the better part of the week to recover from that.

The following weekend I had my 2nd 10K, the United Run for the Zoo.  It was a really cool race, and I got to run with my friend, Katie*.  Our husbands and kids all came, too, and it was great to have my family there for a race.  The kids were all signed up for the Zebra Zip, something I think I was looking more forward to than the kids

This 10K was better.  It was warm, but not hot, and the course was really beautiful, including a good stretch right through the zoo!  Seriously, we ran right by the llamas, bears, and at least four habitats where I couldn't see what animals were in them.  The final few miles were all along the lake front, my favorite part of the race.  We stuck to our goal of starting out slower, closer to 9:30/mile, and it felt really good.  For once, I realized I was using the Garmin for good, rather than just to drive myself nuts.  I hung on pretty well and didn't even feel tired for at least three miles.  Right at 4.45 miles, however, it all caught up to me and I walked.  For no reason.  I just waved to Katie and told her I was going to walk, and she kept on.  My legs were confused, having no idea what I was asking them to do. Walk?  But, why?  My legs kept trying to run, but my body and mind just didn't catch on.  What the hell??  Somehow, despite all my walking (again), I still finished in one hour, only 30 seconds slower than the week before.  Holy hell!

The following weekend, I ran in the 5th Annual Wisconsin Run/Walk to Stop the Cycle of CVS.  This race was a 5K, and when I found out about the race, I thought it would be great to do a 5K after two 10's to see how I would do after conquering the longer distance.  Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is an illness which effects both children and adults, including my neighbor, Nina.  Nina suffers from several chromosomal anomolies and disorders, and CVS is just one of the many complicated health issues she faces.  When her mom asked if I would be interested in doing this race, I couldn't say no.  To help be a part of an event to help raise money for a great cause, and run a race to do so, right up my alley!

The race was great.  A simple, rectangular route around a great park along the river in downtown Waukesha, WI.  My 5K PR was 26 minutes, and if I could come close to that, I'd be happy.  As it turned out, I did.  I came in just shy of 26 minutes!  It was a great feeling.

That afternoon, I headed back home and volunteered at the Ragnar Relay until that evening.  I met some great people during that afternoon, and resolved that next year I'll be running with a team.  It was a great experience.

My next race is tomorrow, almost a month since my last race.  Tomorrow is a 10K near home, and I admit that I'm quite nervous.  I haven't run quite as much since my last race, and my diet on vacation in Canada didn't really do much for all the weight I have lost the past few months.  I'm getting my things set, and just finished my play list, which was no easy task.  I'll suffice it to say that when your iTunes decides you no longer have a library on the computer you're using, it makes it really tough to make changes to your play list.  And so, here is tomorrow's play list.

Can't You Tell - Vetiver
Leaving On The 5th - Voxhaul Broadcast
Say It Right - Nelly Furtado
Helena Beat - Foster The People
Over The Ocean - Best Coast
Raise Your Glass - P!nk
Let's Get It Started - BEP
Pumped Up Kicks - FTP
Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine
Future Starts Slow - The Kills
Big Time Sensuality - Bjork
U + Ur Hand - P!nk
Mirrorage - Glasser
Sober - P!nk
Been Caught Stealing - Jane's Addiction

And I hope I don't need all those songs!  My goal is to hit 55 minutes tomorrow.  I think I can, I think I can.....

Take THAT J Crew!

When you have an older sister who likes to have her nails polished (to keep her from biting her nails), it's only fair that you get equal treatment. That's hot confidence.

Friday, July 1, 2011