Hit Me with Your Best Shot!

Tues, May 28

Time for an arthritis update!! Zach had his regular follow-up appointment with Dr. Toth today and we had good progress! She said the new drug he has been on since our last visit 2 months ago (the Humira shot), is working and the swelling in his wrist and thumb is much better! It is not perfect yet, but she can tell that it is working. This is good news! Well, to us it is. Zach doesn’t really see it the same way we do. The shot is awful! There is a preservative in the medicine that makes the shot sting quite a bit. He has only had four doses so far (once every other week), but he is at the point where he cries even before Mike puts the needle in – just the anticipation, I guess. And it usually is at the very end of the weekend as he procrastinates and comes up with all kinds of reasons why we need to “wait until later”. Then, we have told him he could hold my hand and scream as loud as he wants when Mike gives the shot. We probably should reconsider that now since all the windows are open! I’m surprised Children’s Services hasn’t come to our door yet! Boy, can that boy scream!! Apparently it is doing the trick, however, so onward we go!

*One other note about Humira. Boy, am I glad we have insurance! The pharmacist told me that the actual cost for the monthly supply of two injections is over $2600. Gulp. It costs us $5. Color me grateful.

We had a number of other questions for the doctor. Well, Zach couldn’t wait to ask the doctor about whether or not he could play football this year. He has been asking us about it the last week or so and we said we would have to ask the doctor about it (yes, pass the buck). Well, the good (and bad sorta) news is that his arthritis would not prevent him from playing football she said. The doctor does not like football for other reasons (injuries, etc), but she told Zach it was up to his parents. Yikes. We have some talking to do about that. Transitioning to middle school with more homework, etc may not be the time to include another activity. Plus we have a crazy busy summer planned already and there are those possible injuries. We’ll see…

The other questions we had were about the possibility of going to Guatemala for an immersion trip in January (with John Carroll). Basically I wanted to know if Zach could get the immunizations necessary since he is immune suppressed. Good news – he can, as long as they are not live viruses! I gave her the names of the ones we need to get and she said it was fine and it would not interfere with his other medications or anything. Sweet! Now that we are in the clear in the health department we can really think about if this is something we want to save up for in January! Pretty exciting!

So, overall it was a great visit with the doc. Zach even felt like sharing our elephant story from our visit to the zoo this weekend. Yes, we feel close with Z’s doctor and that is a good thing!

In other arthritis news: I’m not sure that I shared that we were selected for a family scholarship to attend the Juvenile Arthritis National Conference conference in Anaheim, California in July! We are really excited! The kids have fun activities with other kids their age while parents go to educational sessions about all sorts of aspects of arthritis from experts from around the country. I’m looking forward to learning a ton and meeting some new people. Zach’s looking forward to a long plane ride with a movie. Well, there is that. I’m also really excited because part of our responsibility as scholarship recipients is that we have to blog about our experience there and what we learn for the Arthritis Foundation. Well, twist my arm – I guess I could do that, she says with a huge smile!!!

So things are looking up in the arthritis department. Now, back to this football decision…

The Panera Conspiracy

Okay, I’m going to start a protest! I have always thought that restaurants are holding out on us, but now I have proof!! You know what I discovered this morning?! Panera has a “hidden menu”. Yes, hidden. A hidden menu of healthy items that can only be accessed by a privileged few! Okay, I’m getting ahead of my self. Let me go back and give you the back story.

My habit for a number of years now is to get breakfast at Panera and eat it after my weight watchers meeting on Saturday mornings. Right after the meeting I am either heading to yoga or for a run so I need something to jump start my morning. My long standing order has been “a whole wheat bagel, double-toasted, almost burnt, with peanut butter and a large coffee to go…please”. Well, during my recent 40-day break-up with peanut butter I had to be more creative with my order so I chose the steel cut oatmeal with strawberries and pecans. It was good, but a little points-heavy. That is when my friend, Sharon, said to me:

“Have you tried their power egg bowl with turkey? It is really good!”

I respond, “No, I’ve never seen that on the menu””

She says, “No, it is on their hidden menu. Just ask for it on their hidden menu. They know what it is.”

I was doubtful. A hidden menu? That sounds sorta strange. But this morning I was feeling a bit daring. And I remembered that I was going out for dinner tonight and really would prefer a light breakfast option. So, I did it.

I say to the sweet girl at the counter, “A little birdie told me that you have a hidden menu. Is that true? And if so I’d like to get…”

Before I could even finish my sentence, she breathed a big sigh and said, “Yes, we have the following items on our hidden menu…a power eggwhite bowl with turkey and spinach, a power….” She went on and on with a list of about 8-10 glorious breakfast and lunch items that sounded delightful and new! I stopped listening, however. She had me with power eggwhite bowl with turkey.

“Okay, I’ll take the eggwhite bowl with turkey”, I said, resisting the urge to whisper and wondering if I would have to reveal the secret hidden menu code word or show my hidden menu pass card or something. Nope, nothing of the sort.

She simply yelled to the back kitchen, “we got a hidden menu item here!”

Well, it might be hidden, but I guess it is no secret! I chuckled to myself as I realized I had entered into some sort of special Panera club. I know about the hidden menu! I can order healthier items! Woo-hoo – yay me!!! But my smugness was soon replaced with indignation.

Wait a second. Why are these menu items hidden anyways? If these items are made with regular ingredients that they have on hand, why not just put them on the regular menu for all to see?! What gives? What could Panera possibly have to gain for keeping these yummy items a secret? They are not making any money on special “Hidden Menu Membership” dues I don’t think. As a matter of fact, I paid more for my eggwhite bowl with turkey than I did for my bagel or my oats! You can even see the hidden menu items on the Panera nutrition chart. Under the category labeled “hidden”. Please tell me you see the irony in this. The only conclusion I can come up with for this craziness is that Panera is trying to make America fat by keeping all the healthy options a secret. Well, I say it is time for a change! I say it is time to stand up and demand that the shroud is lifted and the truth is revealed once and for all!! Won’t you join me? Next time you go to Panera make sure to ask for an item from the hidden menu. And don’t let that 17-year-old fool you. He knows EXACTLY what it is. Now, about the menu at Subway…

Got the 10K Outta the Way!

May 19, 2013

I wasn’t planning on racing in Cleveland this year. That is until April 15 and the running community (and the rest of the world actually) was rocked by the tragic events at the Boston Marathon. After that awful day I looked at the calendar and woefully realized that I didn’t have time to train for the Cleveland half this year. However, I remembered the 10K and the fact that I have actually NEVER run a 10K, well officially timed that is! I went from running 5K’s to training and running my first half. Why not do it?! I just really wanted to be a part of the community on this day of all days – the first big local race after Boston.

Even though I was just doing the 10K we still made it a weekend event beginning with the Expo. I dragged or rather coaxed my family into coming to the Expo with me by promising that a trip to Tommy’s for dinner would be in order after! The Expo was okay. I got a cute pair of shorts on sale and a few more Bondi-bands (you can just never have too many of them!!). But I picked this one out special as a tribute to all affected in Boston.

I was hoping I could wear the hat that I ordered with my donation to the Peace Marathon, but it has not come yet so this would have to do!

We then had a yummy dinner at Tommy’s, including 3 awesome shakes, and I went to bed by like 9:30pm. I tossed and turned per my usual behavior the night before a race, but as I know and others have told me, it really doesn’t matter…it matters what sleep you got the night before that. I don’t know why that works, but it certainly does for me thankfully. After a half cup-a-joe, a bagel with almond butter (yes, we are seeing each other again, but also seeing others for breakfast too) and some water, we left the house at 5:20am to head downtown to C-Town. I had gotten up at 4:30am.

Here is my “early at home ready pic”

Since the 10K-ers did not leave until 7:30am I could actually cheer on the half and full marathoners at the start at 7am with my fam which was cool.

My loyal and faithful posse! They are the best! (And yes, that is MY pink jacket!!)

The national anthem was really moving this year as was the moment of silence for Boston. I did notice additional security around, but it still felt like a fun and family event and the additional security was not all restrictive which was great. I must have either been more nervous for some reason or just had more additional time because I ended up using the portopotties 2 times before the start (and two other times before we left the house…okay, maybe TMI, but again, it is my blog!!)

Here is my before pic!

And one of me rocking out to the song “Cleveland Rocks”. I mean how can you not groove to that tune…in Cleveland!

We started out and I was sweating almost immediately. It was a really warm day (low 70’s at that time) and really humid. It was great weather for spectators so I was happy about that for the boys. The first mile started out with an uphill climb which was slightly annoying, but it definitely got me warmed up! I started off a little slower than I wanted, but that was okay. By the time we got halfway done at 3 miles I was hitting my stride. I ran the hills fine (there were just a couple) with no walking. Did I mention it was hot and humid?! You know how I feel about hot and humid!

Once we got to mile 5 it was all down hill and I knew I wanted to crank it up. I sped up and really felt good running through to the finish. No matter what my time was gonna be, I felt like I totally raced! I was in the zone in the final stretch and left it all out there. I felt good about that and the fact that I still had some to give at the end. Usually that is not the case for me!

So here are my stats. I love that for big races this is available right away. I also love crunching the numbers a bit to see where I fit within the group. Yes, I’m a little nerdy and a little competitive (okay, mostly competitive)!

My chip time: 1:05:51; Average pace: 10:36
Out of 3169 total runners (male and female) of the 10K I came in 1698 which puts me right at 53%…just below half. There were 1913 total women runners and I placed 838 which placed me at 43%…in the top half!! Yahoo!!! Also, of my age-group, which is 40-44 I came in 112 out of a total of 240 which placed me at 46% – again in the top half! This made my day!

But most of all I’m glad that I put it all out there and gave it my all. Great day!

I was happy to run into my colleague, Holly, at the finish. She just ran her first 10K!

After pic

Mom of the Year

Yesterday I took my mom to the Mom Squad Luncheon sponsored by 95.5 the Fish at Hartville Kitchen to celebrate Mother’s Day. These events are so fun and they include a yummy lunch (the pie is to die for!), prizes, music and a speaker. They also celebrate one mom by giving her the “Mom of the Year” award. I have thought about nominating my mom in the past for this, but always seemed to miss the deadline. So this year, I made a point of doing it and got my nomination in on time! She didn’t win the official contest. The winner was a wonderful, faith-filled, selfless, and caring mom of two children with severe special needs. She was definitely very deserving of the award – not a dry eye in the place! However, I wanted to share my nomination with the world in honor of her and Mother’s Day. I already shared this with my mom yesterday and she agreed that I could post it here!

Mom of the Year – May 2013
Virginia Marie Pillsbury

I am writing to nominate my mom, Virginia Marie Pillsbury as “Mom of the Year”. When I think of the many reasons why my mom should win “Mom of the Year” the words that immediately come to my mind are faith, teacher, and friend. So I thought I would share why I think my mom is deserving of this award by grouping the reasons in those categories.

First of all, my mom’s strong faith is the cornerstone of her life and she is a role model for me and many other people in her life. She has a very active prayer life and consistently uses her daily “doggie walks” as her prayer time….in all seasons! I think her faith helps her to remain incredibly positive no matter what situation she is facing. From just appreciating the things in life that other people complain about, like walks in the rain, to seeing the silver lining in a relationship gone bad, my mom always seems to look on the bright side of life. She has been through some struggles in her life that she didn’t plan on, but she is always able to find the good in everything, believing firmly that there is a greater plan for her. Also, she has served as a member and as the chair of the Outreach team at our church throughout the years and does such a good job of reaching out to others who are seeking and inviting them to come and check out our church. She has a real gift of hospitality and knows how to make people feel comfortable and welcome right away. In addition to her role with Outreach my mom is a faithful attender of the weekly women’s bible study, quilting nights and a leader/planner for the women’s weekend retreat for over twenty years. Over the last few years my mom’s faith and work with our church has extended her outreach even more into the community as a whole. For the past five (5) of years she has served as our church representative to the Hudson Community Service Association.

Perhaps the most inspirational thing my mom has been involved with as a result of her faith has been the creation of the Hudson Food Pantry. Historically there has been a great need for a food pantry in Hudson for a number of years. A few dedicated individuals had a home grown system based in someone’s garage to help provide food to people who needed it, but the system had become antiquated. The Hudson Community Service Association recognized the need to find a dedicated space to house the food pantry, but struggled to find the space for it. Enter my mom. She came up with the idea of housing it in our church! She advocated for this idea with tons of passion! First, she talked at the organization’s monthly meeting and then presented the idea to our church council and congregation and it was passed! Her passion and caring, together with the support of our Pastor, convinced the church to give up a prime Sunday school classroom for dedicated space for The Food Pantry! The first distribution in April 2012 served two families (four people) and it continues growing every month. In March 2013 the distribution served 32 families (94 people)! My mom continues to be faithful to this project in her consistent service on food distribution day. I’m so proud to see this wonderful contribution to our community and to know that my mom was a huge part of getting it started!!

My mom worked as a preschool teacher in Hudson for twenty years, mostly at church programs for 3-4 year olds. Through the years she has met so many nice families and developed some neat relationships with the preschool moms she has gotten to know. Often my mom runs into former preschool families or students out in the community and it is so fun to see them greet my mom with a big smile and a hug! They always tell me how much they liked having Mrs. Pillsbury as a teacher. When I meet someone out in the community who is a former preschool mom, she always tells me how much their son/daughter loved my mom’s class and they ask how she is doing. My mom took her job as a teacher very seriously. As a matter of fact, to her I think it was more than a job – it was a calling – it was/is who she is. She genuinely loves children and loved the opportunity to teach in a Christian program so teaching about God could be part of the curriculum. She brought a loving heart and the patience of Job to her classroom, even with the most challenging of children. Many times the most ornery and misbehaving child in the class at the beginning of the year became one of her favorites by the end of the year and looked forward to a hug from Mrs. Pillsbury. The kids knew she loved them and they felt safe and could make mistakes and learn in her classroom. She still teaches a “Fun with Art and Music class” and a “Kindergarten club” part-time at the local fitness club where she has consistent followers who sign their children up for classes on a regular basis. She is able to combine her talent for crafts with her love for children and teaching in the most creative way.

My mom is a good friend. She is one of those people who truly listens to people when they talk rather than just nodding and smiling! She is tuned into what people are feeling and is so good at just being there for people. She has a nice group of women friends who have met for breakfast every Monday morning for twenty-nine years! As an adult I have heard countless times from my mom’s friends, former preschool moms and even just acquaintances how much they love my mom. “You have the best mom” or “I just love your mom” are phrases I have gotten used to hearing often over the years and it is really only until I am writing this that I truly realize how lucky I am. I was not only lucky enough to have had my mom as my actual mom, but now that I am a mother myself I get to enjoy being my mom’s friend too.

One of the unique ways my mom is able to sustain her friendships over the years is through her Christmas cards. My mom is very thoughtful. Even though she is now on Facebook to keep up with her friends, she still often sends out handwritten notes to friends and puts them in the mailbox. Imagine that! She also has kept up her favorite Christmas tradition each year – her handmade Christmas cards. She has designed and created a unique handmade Christmas card each year since 1971. Each year she makes and sends out about 200 of them! Most are mailed to family and friends near and far, but the local merchants on Main Street receive a hand delivered greeting from my mom the week before Christmas. There is also a homemade ornament in each card that follows the theme of that year’s card! She usually gets her card idea in the summer, makes a prototype and once it is tweaked she starts the production process! Many people on her Christmas list look forward to her cards. Some even have special little Christmas trees that hold their collection of ornaments from her cards. My mom calls her cards “her Christmas” and even with financial challenges and increasing postage costs over the years she always manages to continue her tradition of greeting her loved ones in her own special way.

I am writing to nominate my mom as “mom of the year” because of all the things I have already said, but mostly because of the person she is and the person she has taught and continues to teach me to be. I’m 43 years old, but I still need my mom and I am still learning from her. If I could be half the mom, half the teacher, or half the friend that she is for me and all who know her, I would be thrilled. Her steadfast faith is woven through her church work, her career/calling as a teacher, her work in the community, and her friendships. She is a role-model, a confidant, and my friend. Most of all I am just happy to nominate her because that means that I can share with her all the reasons that she is already “mom of the year” to me. I love you, Mom!

Arthritis Awareness Month!!

As if I needed another reason to love the month of May!! Well, here it is! Since May is Arthritis Awareness Month I thought I would write a blog entry focused on this illness. Until Zach was diagnosed with JA in October, we really didn’t know much about it at all. I always thought about arthritis as something that happens in old people. Well, ain’t so.

Let’s debunk some common myths about Arthritis, shall we?
Despite striking 50 million Americans, arthritis is an often misunderstood disease. It is important to recognize the myths and understand the truths about arthritis.

Myth: Arthritis is not as serious as other chronic diseases.

Truth: Arthritis is actually a more frequent cause of activity limitations than heart disease, cancer or diabetes and is actually the leading cause of disability in the United States.

Myth: Arthritis does not pose a widespread future health risk.

Truth: Today arthritis strikes 50 million Americans – that’s one in every five adults. Unless the current trend is reversed, within 20 years the numbers will soar. By 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans will have arthritis, crippling our nation even further.

Myth: Arthritis is inevitable.

Truth: Arthritis attacks all ages. No one is immune. Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children.

Arthritis is not just minor aches and pains. It can be quite serious, so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of arthritis and to act on them.

10 Things You Should Know About Arthritis
1. Arthritis is a serious, painful and debilitating disease.
2. Arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability.
3. One in every five American adults has doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
4. Kids get arthritis, too.
5. Arthritis costs $128 billion annually in medical care and other costs.
6. There are 100+ types of arthritis.
7. Arthritis destroys joints, bones and other connective tissues.
8. Arthritis robs people of their quality of life.
9. Arthritis is not inevitable or untreatable.
10. Learn more about arthritis and the Arthritis Foundation’s efforts.

That was just a taste of some of the basics about this chronic illness. Want to learn more? Check out the Arthritis Foundation website. Continue to check my blog and facebook for opportunities to learn more about arthritis, advocate for more research on this illness, raise money for the Arthritis Foundation and continue other efforts to make arthritis unacceptable!!!

My 40 Days – Week 5

Look alive in week 5! Week 5 went pretty well…here are the stats:

5 (yoga) – got my 5 practices in with no doubles!
4 (runs) – only ran 3 times this week, but some pretty solid, hours of mulching done too!
3 (fruits and veg) – check!
2 (writing for 20 minutes daily) – just one time, but I did write for a lot longer on this particular project – probably more like 90 minutes to an hour so I think that counts!
1 (daily reflection) – check!
0 (no nut butters) – yep, still not butter free…no problem!

So with only 5 days left of my 40 days I’m thinking about my next project. I did sign up to run the 10K at the Cleveland Marathon in a couple of weeks so that should be fun. I also signed up for the Peace Marathon (through Jenny Hadfield) which is totally awesome!!! You still have time to do it! All you need to do is walk, run or crawl 26.2 miles by the end of May. It can be a full marathon, a half or broken up into small pieces (that’s what I’m doing!). All proceeds go to help children affected by the Boston bombings. Very cool. Check it out and register here!!!! It is only $15 (if you don’t want the hat – which I did, of course!!). Such a great cause, fun and motivational to get you out and moving, right!!! A win/win for sure!! Now to find a half marathon to register for this summer or fall…

My 40 Days – Week 4

Okay, so totally catching up tonight!! Here are my stats for my week 4 of my 40 days:

5 (yoga) – I practiced 5 times this week! One counts as double since it was a 90 minute class!
4 (runs) – I ran 4 times…yahoo!
3 (fruits and veggies) – Yes, still had either a fruit or veggie with every meal. This has proven pretty easy once I added it to my breakfast!
2 (writing for 20 minutes) – I only did it for 3 times this week. This has proven to be a struggle area for me, especially since the weather has gotten nicer!
1 (reading reflection daily) – Yep, that is covered! I do it when I am brushing my teeth or drying my hair in the morning.
0 (no nut butters) – Yep, I’m still nut butter free! Every now and then it sounds good, but it feels good not to have a craving for it anymore!

All in all, it was a pretty good week again!