Tennis Lessons and Poop Problems

Let me start by saying that when I returned home from my volunteer Youth and Family Counselor gig last night and asked D.Jones what Coops had for dinner, I cringed when he told me “a huge bunch of raw green beans, and a cup full of soy nuts”.  Whoa.  Seriously!?  See what happens when I’m not home for dinner?  I told him in no uncertain terms that the combination, with no other foods, would cause major digestion issues for a wee 3 year old.  D.Jones scoffed at me and said everything would be fine.   Yeah.  Remember this part.

So, today was rainy and hot and humid as a rainforest this morning after crazy storms rolled through in the early morning hours and the sun just couldn’t break through it all.  We lounged around and had a lazy morning with Cooper.  Then the boys strolled up to the neighborhood coffee shop to fix D.Jones’s jonez for coffee that I am no longer brewing at home since I am coffee-free.

We put up all the screens that we hadn’t put up yet this spring, and did some laundry and all the catching up that folks do on weekends.

Cooper took a great nap, and while he was napping, D.Jones and I discussed finally taking him for his first tennis lesson that he has been so excited to try since I bought him his first raquet over a week ago.

When he woke up, we loaded him up and headed to a tennis court not too far from home.  He did great.  Not exactly focusing in an Agassi kinda way, but getting in some hits nonetheless.

While we were at the courts, he said on a few occasions, “I don’t feel good”, but we blew him off in loving parent fashion.  His first lesson went fantastically, and though he wasn’t able to concentrate at first, once he got the hang of it, he got some great shots in!  We were both excited, since at various times in our past, we’ve both been tennis players and have hoped to instill a love of it in Coops.

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We were there until almost 6:30 when we decided we should get some dinner.  If we had gone home and I’d made dinner, it would be ridiculously late by the time we ate.  We were close to a restaurant that we know and sometimes visit, that is vegan-friendly and therefore perfect for my cleansing self.  We headed over.

We were approached by a host who offered us indoor or outdoor seating.  By then it was sunny and wonderful out, so we opted for outdoors.  Thank God.

We hadn’t been seated long when Cooper announced that he had to poop.  We looked over at him sitting his chair and he was trying so hard to hold it that he was shaking.   I said “let Daddy take you to the potty, baby”, but being that he’s potty trained only partially, he’s not hip on going number two in public places.  Pee…sure.  Poop?  No way.  He declines.  I tell him that if he really needs to go, he should just go, and it so happens that we have a pair of silky, Air Jordan basketball shorts that I just purchased for him, still in a bag in the Jeep.  I assure him it’s okay to go if he needs to, and he asks Doug to walk him to the Jeep.

They are gone awhile and return all smiles about 10 minutes later, just as our food arrives.  A yummy, crispy looking cheese pizza for Cooper, some vegan sweet corn cakes for moi, and a vegetarian tempeh ruben for D.Jones.  Delish!

Cooper is now sporting no undies and just the new basketball shorts, when he crunches into a ball in his chair and says “I don’t feel good.”  We assess the situation and deem him just fine.  He still seems uncomfortable, but is eating a piece of his pizza and seems fine.

I ask if he wants to sit on my lap and he agrees.

We are eating in peace a mere moments later when he starts shaking again.  I say, “Omigod, I think he’s going to…” and then I feel it coming.  I quickly whip him off of my lap, but not quite in time.  I won’t ruin your next meal with details, other than to say, loose silky basketball shorts and digestion issues from last night’s dinner don’t mix.  And thank God we were seated outside, because, um…the sidewalk and my shorts bore the brunt of the um…”issue”.  

I grab him up and hold him in front of me as I rush past finely dressed diners at the other outdoor tables, who are all staring in horror.  Wow.  So many dinners ruined.  It’s a long trip the length of the block and around the corner of the restaurant where I spot the Jeep and our safe haven, all the while with Cooper yelling a disgruntled “hey!  What about my pizza” as I continue running.

When we get to the Jeep, I strip off Buddha’s clothes, only to realize that we have no backup plan and so I strap him naked except for a t-shirt into his car seat.  I turn the car around ready for a quick getaway for D.Jones’s arrival.  Once the drama has died down and Cooper and I are waiting in one foul, hot vehicle for Doug, Cooper’s adorable voice from the backseat says…and I quote…”Well, Mommy….my poop problems are solved.”  So they are, my boy.  So they are.

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Once we arrived home, Doug offered me a specialty beer that he had just ordered during the week.  I took him up on it, so yeah…I cheated on my cleanse.  So sue me!  Wouldn’t you at that point!?  We had already rinsed Cooper’s clothes in the downstairs laundry tub, and given the boy a bath, and the three of us were sitting on the front steps watching the dark clouds begin to again roll through. 

Cooper was feeling much better and was dancing and spinning around on the front steps while D. Jones did his best Stones impersonation, singing “You can’t always get what you waaant” when all of sudden Cooper stops in his tracks, looks at D.Jones all seriously and says “why can’t you get what you want, Daddy?” 

When we were done laughing, Doug responded “Oh, there are so many responses to that question, Coops…..just so many.”
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Anyway, after quite an evening, I leaned over toward D.Jones and said “I can’t believe that happened to us tonight.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry”, when D.Jones chuckled and said “ya gotta laugh, don’t you?”  True enough, Doug Jones.  True enough. 

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Perhaps overheard from the Jones residence this evening….

Doug:  Ouch!  Cooper!  Don’t poke me with that pine needle…that hurts!

Cooper (pulling up his shorts just a little like he’s getting a shot):   Poke me, Daddy!

Me:  Does he really remember getting shots!?  Why is he pulling up his shorts and yelling “poke me”!?

Doug:  Oh, by the way…is it Pride weekend?

We apologize to anyone this conversation may have offended, and no pine needles were harmed in the recounting of this scenario.

School Boy

Yesterday marked the end of Cooper’s first week of summer school.  First week of any kind of school, actually, and it flew by!

He only attends Tues through Thursday from 9 a.m. until noon, and Tuesday when I got him ready to go and we arrived at the school, I was nervous and distracted.  I told one of his teachers that this was a first for both of us, and she assured me he’d be fine.  She didn’t really need to assure me when I witnessed him march right into the classroom ahead of me, approach the only teacher in sight, shake her hand and say “Hi!  I’m Cooper Jones!  You have lots of toys in here!”  That’s my boy.  Not a shy bone in that little 35 lb. body.

When I drove away, I had gradiose plans to take the dog for a walk, do a couple of loads of laudry, clean the living room, empty the dishwasher, water all of the outdoor plants, and a few other tasks.  Turns out, 3 hours goes by pretty quickly.  Especially when I spent the first 15 minutes of it just sort of standing dumbfounded in the living room marvelling at how quiet it was!

Cooper loves going to school and the first thing out of his mouth on this rainy Saturday morning was “don’t I have school today?”  Um, nope.  Today, my boy, you will actually be forced to hang out with dear old Mom and Dad.

This is him choosing not to pose for a picture on the first day of school.

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And him really posing on Day 2 when I was the only parent to send their kid to school in their new camp t-shirt.

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21-Day Cleanse – Day 3

Going strong on Day 3.  Today is better than yesterday, so hopefully the trend continues.

Last night it was all I could do to keep my eyes open at 9 p.m. which is very, very out of the ordinary for this night owl.  I did wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go this morning, though.  I hit a lull mid morning, but a small snack helped and my energy has seemed to regulate this afternoon.

Various people have asked why Freston, who penned the Quantum Wellness book and thus, the 21 day cleanse, chose the particular things that she did to eliminate from your diet during this cleanse.  She goes into it quite thoroughly in her book, but I thought every once in a while during my cleanse, I would take some excerpts from her book which would help explain.  Plus, it will remind me why it is that I’m doing what I’m doing and help me to stay on track.

Freston recommends that you elminate all animal products, including cheese, milk, butter, etc.  One of the many reasons for doing this is to remove casein, a protein found in milk, from your system.  Freston cites The China Study in her book, which is a study done by Dr. T. Colin Cambell, where they are looking at casein promoting cancer in all of the disease’s stages of development.  The growth-promoting properties of cow’s milk are thought to stimulate not only growth for the body, but also growth of cancer cells.  This study has gotten much attention and is now being looked at even more closely by a collaboration between Cornell and Oxford, along with China’s national health research laboratory.

So far, their results show the consumption of animal proteins directly linked to the development of cancer and several other diseases.

On a side note, casein is also a primary ingredient in glues, protective coatings, plastics and fabrics.  Ick.

On a smaller scale, casein is a known histamine releaser causing inflammation that can lead to premature aging.  By removing it from my diet for the cleanse, I am giving my system a chance to rid itself of the irritation caused by casein and free itself of any residual casein “gumming” up my system.

So there ya have it.  No animal products.

On with the cleanse!

21-Day Craziness

Some of you may or may not remember that around this time last year, I embarked on Kathy Freston’s “Quantum Wellness” cleanse, which is a 21 day, gluten-free, sugar free, caffeine free, alcohol free, and animal product free cleanse.  I made it about a week, I think.

So, the other day when my friend Jenni contacted me and said “wanna do a challenge with me?” I was immediately struck with panic.  Jenni is a runner, too, so I figured it was either to train for some marathon or do some cleanse.  I was right.  It was the latter.  And the cleanse she was referring to was the good old Quantum Wellness cleanse. 

After gasping for breath for a few moments, I immediately said I’d do it.  A moment later, I regretted it.  But, Jenni was ready to give it a go and her enthusiasm was catchy and I convinced myself that this time would be different.

Yesterday I did my first trip through Whole Foods, looking for appropriate foods and stocking up. 

Yesterday was our first official day and I made it through with flying colors.  No problem.  I did have a moment of weakness when our neighbors stopped by in the early evening and everyone was sitting out front enjoying cold beers in the 90 degree heat.  I felt myself waivering, so I went inside and made a little glass of sugar-free iced tea and then hid in the bedroom to watch The Bachelorette.  Whew!  My avoidance tactics worked.

This morning, I must admit, I woke up after a night of deep, rejuvenating sleep and was raring to go.  I even got up super early and did a hand held weight workout for my arms before Cooper even woke up at 6:45.

D.Jones has placed a bet that I’ll only make it 6 days, which just adds to my determination.  Hopefully I’ll make it longer than that, but since it’s only day 2, I won’t overstep my confidence boundaries and I’ll simply say…we’ll see.

An Artiste’ in Our Midst

I noticed an art studio in our neighborhood the other day and thought I’d look them up online to find out the scoop about the place.  It’s called Simply Jane  and is simply the coolest place!

Online I noticed that on Thursday mornings there is open studio time for Toddler painting, so this morning Cooper and I headed over to see if there was anything we could make for Daddy for Father’s Day.  (Yes, we got him the iPhone, but I am lame and couldn’t wait to give it to him!  Story to follow)

We found some very cool small canvases and some picture frames.  There were birdhouses and bowls and placemats….  Just about anything you could paint is available.  The owner/artist has already drawn designs on the stuff, so you just pick out what you like and then bring it to a table where all of the paints and brushes and anything you could need is already set out for you to get started.

When you are done with your masterpiece, they re-trace over the original design, then shelac it and dry it and you are ready to go!

Cooper selected a picture frame with peace signs on it (yep, he’s definitely my child) and we got started.  He’s literally never held a paintbrush in his life but he did marvelously!  I think Daddy is going to be very impressed with his little artiste’!

As we were drying Cooper’s finished frame, I noticed a shelf with a bunch of wine glasses on them.  I asked the woman helping us, who introduced herself as “Simply Jill”, if you could paint stemware.  She laughed and said “No, dear, we DRINK out of them!”  She proceeded to tell me that on Wednesday and Friday nights, you can bring in friends for a girls nite, where you can sample some “beverages of choice” and order pizza too!  Whoa.   This place just gets better and better.   I’m so there!  I’m busily recruiting friends already…

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The Saga of the iPhone

When Papa J. got to our house on Friday afternoon, I was getting ready for my Friday night at the youth shelter.  I had double checked on the delivery of Doug’s new iPhone that Cooper and I ordered him for Father’s Day and I had a feeling it would arrive on Friday.  I told Papa J. that if anyone came to the door with a delivery to tackle them and grab the merchandise without letting D.Jones see it!  No sooner had I told him that it might be delivered, my FedEx guy banged on my front door and yelled “package!”  Score.  It got there right before D.Jones got home from work.

I hid it away in a closet with the intention of activating it on Father’s Day.  Doug has talked about his co-worker’s iPhones off and on for weeks and I just knew he’d be thrilled and I couldn’t wait!  The days at the beginning of the week were simply dragging on and on and on, so on Tuesday night I caved.

He had taken Cooper downstairs to play when he got home from work, and I went online and got it activated.  I put it on the kitchen counter and called it and when it started ringing I yelled “Doug, do you hear something?!”  He said no, and turned down his television.  He listened again.  “Nope.  Don’t hear anything.  What was it?”  I quickly redialed.  This time he heard it and said “Sounds like a phone, but that’s not my ringtone…must be yours?”  I nodded no and said it wasn’t mine.  I asked him to go in the kitchen and look.  He was obviously confused but wandered in and checked it out.

He saw where the noise was coming from and picked up the phone but still didn’t get it.   He says “did someone leave their phone here?”  And I was laughing so hard.  I said “Nope.  That’s yours.” 

His face was priceless.  I seriously got a glimpse of what D.Jones must have looked like as a little boy on Christmas morning. 

He loves his gift and though I probably should have waited until the actual day, I’m glad he’s getting to enjoy it a tad early.  On Sunday he’ll have his fabulous newly painted frame to open up.

Here is our artist at work this morning at Simply Jane~

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And his finished product!  Bravo, Buddha!  A masterpiece!

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Health Scares and Happy Endings (or Beginnings?)

Two weeks ago Friday we were anticipating a visit from my father-in-law.  He comes often to spend a long weekend with us.  I think more to see Cooper than to see D.Jones and I, but we have become accustomed to coming second to the boy.

Papa J. is like clockwork and always arrives right around 3 to 3:15 p.m., so around that time I told Cooper that we could sit on the steps and wait for his arrival.  We played a few games on the front steps, I gave him some horsey rides by the front door, and then I ran inside to grab him a popsicle to continue to appease him.  I began to get that weird feeling.  It was late, it had to be.  It seemed like we’d been outside for a long time, so I ran back in to check the time.  Sure enough, it was a few minutes after 4 pm!  Papa has a sports car that he likes to drive fast and all sorts of things began running through my worried mind.  I ran to look for the phone to have it near, just in case.  I found it in the master bedroom and as I grabbed it, it rang.  I thought I bumped the buttons so I looked at the readout to double check.  Sure enough, it was my brother-in-law Tom’s number.  My heart beat faster as I said “hello”?  I heard him say “Dad’s not going to be able to make it this weekend.”  My heart sank, but I tried to take a deep breath and sound calm.  “Oh, really?  What’s up?” I replied…knowing that he couldn’t be calling with good news.  He replied that Papa was in the hospital.  He’d turned around a couple of hours into his drive because he’d had some chest pains and Tom was heading to the hospital to find out more. 

I hung up with the promise that he’d call as soon as he had more news, and began to explain to Cooper that Papa wasn’t coming after all.  Cooper hugged me and cried on my shoulder and kept asking “why, Mommy?” 

As I comforted my boy, I saw D.Jones get off of the bus at the corner and walk toward us.  I coaxed Cooper to run and say hi to his Daddy and played out how I’d tell him what was up, all while sounding completely calm, cool, and collected. 

We waited for more news to come, and began the task of calling some of Doug’s siblings, who are spread far and wide across the country. 

Turns out that Papa had indeed had a mild heart attack and they were able to successfully introduce a shunt to keep the blocked area open.  Good news all around, but a scary moment in time.

This past Friday, Papa decided he wanted to try the trip again.  Doug and I told him that we would drive to see him, instead, but he insisted.  I couldn’t understand why, but we finally gave in.

I understand, after speaking to him that he needed to make that drive to assure himself that he could do it and everything would be fine, so with the doctor’s seal of approval, off he went.

We had a fantastic weekend, filled with parks and ice cream, relaxing moments on the deck enjoying the sunshine, a dinner on the river while Cooper J. entertained a crowd dancing with a band, and Papa even got to see our Karate Kid in action at his Saturday morning lesson.

Papa was in great spirits this weekend and told us that he literally feels better than he has in years!  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a wonderful relationship with their in-laws, and this past weekend I was reminded that I am truly blessed that I not only have a fabulous family of my own, but also a second one that has welcomed me in with open arms.  These weekends together are times to remember and cherish and hopefully we will have many, many more to come.

The Good Times Hit the Skids

So, by now, most of you know that I spend my Friday nights at a short-term youth shelter.   I had written about my first night and how it exceeded my expectations and alleviated my fear all in one.  I had a fabulous time with a great group of kids, and went home excited and anxious for things to come.

Cue the doomsday soundtrack.

This past Friday…well…not so much.  I knew that when my mentor cautioned me at the end of night #1 that I was “lucky” to score the kids I did for my intro to the program that I should keep things in perspective.  I just knew there was much more to come, but yet somehow, as I walked into the home on Friday afternoon ready to begin my shift, I had convinced myself that I was going to again spend my Friday night laughing with some kids and having a great time playing games.  Pffft.  Nice one.

This past Friday I believe I was introduced to the “real” world of the goings on inside the youth shelter.  It’s not pretty.  It’s not cracking up at the various responses to the word cards in Apples to Apples, or cheering on a winner for a long running game of Uno.  Uh, no.  It’s not.  Not at all.

Instead, I dealt with a young girl’s stress to the point of vomiting, and another girl who barely stopped crying during my entire 6 hour shift.  I tried to keep a boy with behavioral problems occupied so he at least wasn’t disturbing the others, while also trying to keep another teenage boy from yelling out of the window at passerby.

I comforted a girl returning from the ER after an unpleasant exchange between she and a family member, and I assisted in talking two very young walk-ins into calling home and getting picked up by a parent. 

I saw the deep sadness in a girl’s eyes when a parent was a flat out no-show to a family therapy session, and saw the hardness that can develop in a teenage girl to cover years of family drama.

I helped cook dinner, I participated in a group therapy activity, I learned a little bit about the emergency beds that are available for the “truly” homeless kids who come in at 10pm and have to be out by 8 am.  They are not candidates for the program that our site offers and can’t be on the floor with the kids, but are allowed to spend the night in drop down murphy beds in some of the counseling rooms on a seperate floor. 

I have only worked twice, now, but in my total 12 hours at the shelter, I have been deeply saddened by the reality of life for some kids.  It’s beyond what I imagined or had even read about, and its a heavy weight to bear when I return home.  If you think you take some things for granted, I urge you to volunteer at a place like this wherever you are.  You will appreciate things in a whole different light after a very short time there, I assure you.

I already feel myself moving toward slight desensitization.  You need only spend a short amount of time listening to story after heart-breaking story before you realize that there’ll be another kid and another kid and another kid after them.  You clearly can’t bring ’em all home, so you do what you can for a few short hours of their life.

I talk myself to sleep on Friday nights when I get home by reminding myself that there’s only so much I can do, and that for at least tonight, I know those kids are also going to sleep in a safe place.  A glass of wine helps too.