Monday, April 7, 2014

In Honor Of Autism Awareness Month....




I haven't had any autism/asperger related blog posts lately so I decided to post this in honor of April Autism Awareness month. So many children and families are having to deal with autism and it's only getting worse.



My son was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was in eighth grade. He went so many years when we didn't know what was wrong with him, but we knew something was very wrong. It was such a relief when we finally had an answer, but it was also just the beginning.

I'm happy to say my son is doing very well now and is a finishing his junior year of college and, also doing an internship with a computer company near his college. He only calls if he has problems and I have to say, those calls have gotten fewer and fewer as he has learned to handle the problems on his own.

It hasn't always been so easy!

Friday, April 4, 2014

10,000 Hours




My husband and I usually do double workouts at least twice a week, usually Wednesdays and Saturdays. Wednesday I met him at the gym at noon and did a warm up on the spin bike and then hit the weights - upper body.

Later that day, I decided that instead of driving from our house to our other gym (we are members of two different gyms - sad, but true. We are fanatics) for the second workout, I would run the 5 to 6 miles and then do core and squats. It was an awesome workout day. I need more of them! It's the way I use to always train.

The good thing about living in the St. Petersburg area is there are sidewalks, bike lanes and trails everywhere. I didn't have to run directly on busy roads although I did have to cross several which can get dicey with all the 80 year old drivers around here. I made it to the gym in 55 minutes, which gave me over an hour of cardio for the day. This use to be my standard, but the past six months it's been more like 20 - 30 minutes/day of cardio.

I did squats when I got to the gym, just to finish my legs off and make sure I wouldn't be able to walk for a few days and then core and stretched. My husband was nice enough to drive me home so I didn't have to run the 6 miles back.
My legs were not sore at all the next day and that surprised me. I did some pretty intense squats. I think that doing more weights all winter and increasing the reps and the amount of weight has paid off. I hope it shows during triathlon season. My first triathlon is at the end of this month and I haven't been on my tri bike or in the pool yet. 

Last year, all the strength training I did got me through the short sprint races without too much pain despite my lack of time on the bike or in the pool. All the work I did in the gym everyday seemed sufficient. I realize I wouldn't be able to do that in a longer race that requires more endurance. I would have to put in the training time to make it through one of those longer races fairly pain free. As if that's even possible!

But what's a little pain. After all "Pain is just weakness leaving the body, " right?




I admit that I am a little nervous because my first official race of the season is coming up at the end of this month and I've spent way more time reading and working on my writing than swimming and biking. I believe in the 10,000 hour rule that was introduced in the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell that says it takes at least 10,000 of doing something before you get proficient at it. Over the past 17 years I've put the 10,000 hours into swimming, biking, running and racing and now it's time to put the 10,000 hour rule to work in my writing.

The 10,000 hour rule not only means putting in the time, but it takes more than that as you can read about in this article HERE   that states not only do you have to put in the time, but you have to put in quality time as well.

Many years ago when I started biking I joined a local bike club. This got me not only riding longer, building up to Century rides, but also riding faster because I didn't want to get dropped out in no man's land and have to find my way home all alone.

When I started running, I ran with people who were a little faster than me so it forced me to go faster. Then when it came time to train for marathons, I had a small group to run and socialize with which made the time go by faster.

After learning the basics of the freestyle on my own and building up a small base, I started swimming with a masters group to help get my technique better and also get faster, since I think some of the people I was swimming with were part fish.

Recently, I started taking online writing classes to help me write better. I've also been reading a lot about writing and reading authors who write in the genres I'm interested in writing. I'm no where near the required 10.000 hours, I estimate that will take me about 7 years, but I've made the commitment and I'm on my way.

 I consider my blog writing as part of the 10,000 hours and I've been blogging for almost 3 years.

Have you used the 10,000 hour rule in your life and if so, what have you become more proficient in because of your commitment and time?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'm A Little Scared Of The Birds And Lizards Around Here....




The week before last, when I decided to get some sun for the first time this year, I was a little concerned about the slithering creatures that live in our backyard. I solved my dilemma by making sure I was high up off the ground.

This is why I'm on our outdoor table.

I was on top of the table, the lizards were on the bottom. Where they should be! You can even see one of those little bastards under the chair to the left of me.

I was feeling pretty smug until I had this eerie feeling that I was being watched. Then I heard shuffling little sounds of something walking across the grass, very near the table.

I looked up and there was an enormous white bird staring at me, like maybe it was wondering if I was alive and if I wasn't then maybe I was going to be dinner. Or maybe it just wanted that little creepy lizard that was hanging out under the table.

I'm not sure, but when I sat up nervously, grabbed my phone and started taking Instagram pictures of him, he realized I was not dead and the lizard wasn't worth the trouble either.

After walking back and forth checking out the scene, he flew off.

I think I saw him again today flying circles around our house. This makes me nervous.

The birds around here think they own the place. Your yard is not your yard, your house is not your house, nothing is yours, it all belongs to them. And they travel in packs. Hungry packs!

The other day when I was coming home from the vet with Phantom, a large white bird took off from the median in the road and flew right in front of me. I slammed on my brakes so it wouldn't hit the windshield, but I wasn't fast enough and it hit right above the windshield. I don't know exactly what happened to the low flyer, but as I was driving forward (there was lots of traffic after all) I saw a bunch of white feathers out of my back window.

This was on Thursday and that next Sunday (last week) we were suppose to fly to Minnesota for franchise training for the new gym we are opening. Phantom spent the weekend, crying, nauseous and by Sunday he wasn't eating on his own anymore. Since we were suppose to be gone all week I wasn't going to be able to get him in to the holistic vet for acupuncture and get started on Chinese herbs and I was concerned about why he was crying. The nausea medication wasn't working.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are our last efforts to fight the tumor that's taking over most of his liver.

The pet sitter was going to be coming twice a day, but with Phantom not eating and crying, I was not looking forward to leaving him.

When we got to the airport Sunday evening we find out that our flight was canceled because, guess why....

A BIRD had struck the plane and damaged the engine. Since we were going to miss part of Monday's class anyway, we decided to stay and reschedule our training trip.

This allowed me to take Phantom to his local vet on Monday and get him checked him out. We were concerned he may have a urinary blockage. Luckily, no blockage, but he was constipated and so they put on stool softeners. I, also, got him in for his first acupuncture treatment on Wednesday. He did great, but it was a rough day for him when he started on the Chinese herbs.

A couple of days later and he's eating, drinking and back to normal. He's even become super alpha cat again so Cadence and Ed are taking cover.

It if wasn't for the bird strike, I wouldn't have been here to get Phantom started on his new cancer fighting protocol. Was it a total coincidence that I hit a bird with my car and then our flight is canceled because of bird? Am I just being paranoid? Is there some meaning behind all of this? Or not?

And the bigger question - Is that big white bird that landed in our yard friends with the bird I hit, and if so, does he know what I did to his friend and is he pissed off?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Phantom's Selfie



This isn't a real blog post, but I just had to share my kitty, Phantom's recent selfie on Oscar night.  While he didn't win any Oscars that night as you can see, he had a lot of fun mingling with the stars.

I wasn't invited.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Orleans Trip And The New Pet Sitter

Mardi Gras mask

Last week was my husband's convention in New Orleans so I tagged along. I love New Orleans and thought it would be a great opportunity to spend some time with the boy who is in school only an hour away.  I didn't realize that it was already Mardi Gras in New Orleans which meant crowds and road closings due to all the parades. Our taxi driver actually had to put us out about three or four blocks from our hotel because of road closings. This wasn't too much of a problem since we didn't have our luggage because the airlines losing it somewhere between Houston and New Orleans. All we had to carry were the carry on bags we had with us and my bag rolls so no problems there.

Because of the rain and the road closings, I discouraged the boy from driving to New Orleans so I wasn't able to see him. That was a drag, but the trip was fun. I got included in the fun parties and while my husband worked I did long runs through the French Quarter and then pigged out on beignets and coffee. The hotel had an awesome gym so I didn't miss a work out. I needed as many workouts as possible due to all the food and alcohol I was consuming.

Me and the Murph

The hotel we stayed in - Hilton Riverside New Orleans

Fog over the Mississippi River - Hilton Riverside New Orleans

Outside Hilton Riverside New Orleans - fog over the Mississippi River

Lining up for a Mardi Gras parade

Outside convention center - New Orleans Mardi Gras


Me outside convention center New Orleans

The Murph



Cafe Du Monde - New Orleans


Outside Cafe Du Monde New Orleans




While we were gone I hired a pet sitter to sit for our three cats. Phantom has to have meds twice a day, fluids every other day and syringe feedings even though he's eating some on his own now. I was very worried about leaving him and within the first 4 hours after leaving I called and left at least three messages on the pet sitter phone. I finally figured out that that was not her cell number which was probably why I didn't hear from her. As soon as I called her cell phone, she answered with, "Well I see you found my cell number". I guess I'm a little overprotective with my cats, but after that somewhat bad start, the pet sitter texted me updates every time she went to the house and also sent me pictures of Phantom playing with cat nip toys she brought for them and chasing laser dots. Apparently, they were getting very spoiled!


Entrance to Jackson Square - New Orleans

Mississippi River - New Orleans



When the Murph and I got home around midnight Monday night, all three cats were, surprisingly, waiting anxiously at the front door, not hiding under the beds as they usually do when they suspect strangers are coming in. I was so happy to see them, but the minute they saw us their little faces dropped. They all looked past us to the front door as if the say, "But where is the other lady? The NICE one that plays with us and brings us toys?"

The nice pet lady had left me a very detailed four page letter of everything she did while she was there, including all meds she was able to get down Phantom (she managed to get down all of them) even though he got mad at her and ran under the bed when he saw her coming with it. He does that to me all the time, especially at bed time when he thinks I will fall to sleep and he can wait me out.  I just leave the meds next to my bed and get up an hour or two later, when he's least expecting it, to give him the meds.

Needless to say, I will definitely hire this lady again to pet sit if she's willing to put up with me. I will, however, suggest she back a little off on all the playing and spoiling she does with the cats because I don't want them to get use to it. I spent the past week with them looking at me, bringing toys to me, judging me. I couldn't live up to the pet sitter in their critical, judgy little eyes.

They seemed to love chasing the dot so much that I've actually considered purchasing a laser pointer...

What's a pet mom to do? I've been judged! Crafty little fur monkeys!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Looking For A Little Blog Post Direction

Hi blog readers! The ones of you who are still popping in from time to time. I was just checking my stats and there have been quite a few page views, surprisingly, since I haven't posted in a couple of weeks.

While I haven't been here, I have actually been thinking about and planning the future for my blog posts, where to take this blog from here, blog post ideas, etc. Since I began writing this blog two years ago, I've sort of let it go wherever it wants to go with no real planning, just whatever comes to mind and is a part of my day or life.

That's probably what will continue to take place, but at least I have good intentions on direction now or at least I'm trying to obtain some direction.  Anyway, here's kind of what I have in mind for future blog posts:
  1. For all you Asperger/autism parents that follow my blog, you have probably all left by now  because I have been writing very little about autism or adventures with my Aspie son. Since he's away at college and I am several hundred miles away from him right now there is very little to write about lately that I feel wouldn't violate his privacy. You may remember the bed bug incident (Here) that happens to be the most popular post of all time I think because of those computer robot things. Go figure! When new issues arise, however, you may find a blog post here about it. Surviving bed bugs is important!
  2. Triathlon training and races will continue to be a part of this blog since it's a huge part of my life. Fitness is actually going to be an even bigger part of my life because we just purchased a gym franchise and will open two gyms in the St. Petersburg area within the next 6 months that I will run. This should keep me pretty darn busy in the days ahead. Don't be surprised to see some blog posts on this. Hopefully, not stressed out, pulling out my hair kind of blog posts.
  3. Fashion, especially shoes, will always be a small part of this blog. I love clothes, but hate shopping. If I loved shopping, there would be many more fashion posts, but one very unhappy husband. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, my photographer got another job and quit on me (Read about it Here) and I'm terrible at selfies so this limits the fashion posts too.
  4. What I eat, places I frequent, travel, etc. will always be a part of this blog. I have so many places already that I need to share but haven't had the time. We just moved to a new city that has much to offer and I like to share my discoveries here. Expect to see more of this soon. Doesn't everybody like pictures of food? Aren't you all just dying to see what I'm eating?
  5. Cats. That's a given. Whether you like those posts or not, my cats are the coolest, most talented supreme cats ever so expect lots of blog posts about their awesomeness. You're welcome!
  6. The Murph, my husband, who continually cracks me up and gives me lots of fodder to steal from. He hates it when I pick up on his little, sort of obnoxious sayings and idioms and overuse them. Why? Because they ARE obnoxious and funny to strange people like me who have a dry sense of humor and are full of sarcasm in general. Expect to see lots of it here and any other things he does that amuses me.
Well, I think that takes care of just about everything I write or plan to write about here. I promise to get back to regular postings. You've probably enjoyed the break from my crazy randomness, but then again, you keep coming back for more.

It must be the cat pictures. I hate to disappoint so here you go... One more Cadence, the photo bombing freak cat, picture. 



You're welcome!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Some Serious Purring




Today I feel compelled to do a post on my sick kitty, Phantom. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that the majority of my posts involved kitties until Phantom decided to start his own blog (Here).

Phantom was diagnosed with liver cancer last June and heart disease last March. It has been a year since he first started showing signs of his illness and it has been a long, hard journey.  He has been to at least 4 local vets as we have moved from Birmingham, Alabama, to Pensacola Beach, Florida and finally to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.

 He has also been to two different oncologist starting with Auburn University small animal clinic and finally Bluepearl in Tampa and Clearwater. All have been excellent and very supportive and I appreciate every one of them for taking care of Phantom even when there was very little hope and his prognosis was poor.

We've tried two different chemotherapy drugs as well as some holistic herbal things. These have prolonged his life and given him a great quality of life for several months. He was very, very sick last June, but until this past week he has been doing really good. Eating, playing, bullying the other cats, catching dragonflies, monitoring the food situation - just being normal Phantom.

He has been very brave throughout the journey with all the vet visits, blood work, medications, but now we may be nearing the end of the journey.


I still have hope, but the vets say there is nothing left to do. His liver is failing, if not already not working. He has had to have subcutaneous fluids given almost daily since Friday and I'm having to syringe feed him.

He is still being very brave, but his poor little body is so weak.



This blog post is for him. I am so very thankful he has been a part of our lives these past 9 years. He has been the best kitty for my son and me.  Phantom has missed the boy since he went away to college three years ago. Maybe this is his way of saying, "I've done my job for the boy, now I have to go."

Cadence will miss him too. He and Phantom have been together since they were both kittens. Cadence and our other cat, Ed seem to know that something is wrong. They haven't been eating much the past three days either.



I am still hoping and praying for a miracle, but now I don't think it's going to happen so I have to be prepared too.

We are just going to love Phantom and keep him comfortable until it's time for him to go.



He's beautiful and the best cat ever!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Letting Go Of Fear



This morning one of my favorite autism mom bloggers, Inner Aspie, wrote a blog post that hit home with me. It was about letting go of your fears. I have started going to a Christian counselor to help me deal with my anxieties and the stress of moving and major life changes, including dealing with a family pet who is dying of cancer.



Inner Aspie has a friend, Heather, who developed lung cancer -mesothelioma. Eight years ago she had the lung removed and has been cancer free ever since.  On the anniversary of her lung removal, she and her family celebrate Lung Leaving Day by writing their biggest fears on plates and smashing them in the fire. This process helps her deal with her fears of the cancer coming back and some other fears she has by writing them down and letting them go.




Just last Friday as I was at my counseling appointment, we were discussing letting go. Letting go of my fears and all the other things I try to hold on to too tightly and control. This goes back a long way with me. One of the many examples was I held on to tight to my son, who has Aspergers Syndrome and tried to control too much. I didn't have enough faith that he would be all right if I stepped back and gave him some breathing room. He struggled though school I was overwhelmed with the idea that it was up to me to get him through school and to graduation. I felt it was my responsibility and if I didn't then I was a failure.


Now that my son is in college he is doing so much better. I "let go" when he was a freshman and hired a tutor to help him. This allowed me to back off a little and it forced him to take responsibility for his own journey and he's doing just fine. Believe me, I needed this for my own mental health as well! Letting other people help took so much of the burden off of me.




Right now I've discovered I'm doing the same thing with my sick cat. Holding on too tight. My fear of losing this cat, who is my son's cat, has kept me hanging on too much. I realized I have to "let go and let God". When we hang on too tight to something then God can't do his work. Nothing in this world belongs to us. Everything belongs to him including my son, my cat, my husband, the clothes on my back. I have nothing so why hang on that tight?

My counselor told me when I have fear, I can't have faith. Fear is the opposite of faith. It is so great when we can let go of our fears and have faith that God will take care of everything. It takes so much of the burden off. I wish I had realized this when my son was younger and struggling. Then I could have helped him much better without those feeling of failure and fear that I had back then.

I went to Heather's web site today and wrote down my biggest fear on a paper plate and threw it in the fire. You can do the same by clicking on Heather's site here.






Friday, January 31, 2014

This Could Be The Culprit - Florida Wildlife



If you read my blog post from a few days ago (Here ) where we discovered a strange nest in our front yard, then you'll know what I'm talking about. If not, then you don't know what I'm talking about but isn't that a pretty bird?

I think I may have discovered what/who was the culprit that made the strange nests in our yard.

Maybe.

A couple of weeks ago we saw this bird in the next door neighbor's yard having lunch. I'm not sure, but I think it may be a heron. I'm also not sure, but I think it may be the culprit that nested in our yard the other night.




I haven't seen any other activity out there, but that's probably because it's been a rainy mess here the past few days. The culprit probably found a dryer nest somewhere else.

Hopefully he had a bunch of tasty, frickin lizards to snack on.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Strange Things That Happen In Our Yard At Night



Yesterday the mulch in this area of our front yard was evenly spread with no dirt showing.  I didn't notice any strangeness when I arrived home around 6:45pm last night after taking Phantom to Bluepearl Specialty animal clinic for a checkup. Sometime during the night, something came into our yard, crept up right next to our living room window and created this thing that I can only describe as some sort of weird nest.

We discovered the strange nest as the Murph was leaving for work this morning. It looks like two nests side by side. Were there two strange animals sleeping side by side in our yard last night? My first thought is that the nest was made by one of those weird birds that hang out around here. Many different species of strange, very large birds that like to hang out in yards and on the neighbor's rooftops. I've even seen some folks feeding them. Some of these birds are taller than I am. There was an entire flock of white loons (or something)  down the street from us this morning, eating breakfast in a neighbor's yard about 5 houses down.

If this wasn't made by birds, then what? Turtles? Snakes?? I hear the the Everglades are being taken over by pythons, pets that were released in the area are multiplying. It is predicted that these "pet snakes" are migrating out of the Everglades to surrounding areas 100's of miles away. One day they are predicted to be as far north of Alabama and Tennessee. Tampa is uncomfortably much closer to the Everglades than those states. Could pythons already be here? Do they make nests to sleep in at night? Since they are nocturnal, do they even need a nest to sleep in at night? Do they sleep at all?

Alligators don't curl up in comfy round nests in front yards do they?

I know I'm worrying about this for absolutely no reason. I'm sure the nest in my front yard was made by something cute and fluffy, not something slithery, creepy or anything with sharp teeth. Nothing poisonous either.

Tonight I am going to keep a look out on the "nesting" area from a safe distance on the other side of the living room window and see if anything strange happens.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Running On Clearwater Beach And Indian Rocks Beach

Running and cycling are the best ways to explore a new area or to see your old area in a different way. That's my opinion anyway.

So...

The past couple of months I've been running and exploring my new city. Yesterday I ran in Clearwater Beach, Florida. If you are following me on Instagram you have seen some of the photos I take of the scenery on my runs. I can't imagine a more perfect place to run than here!

Clearwater Beach, Florida
Clearwater Beach, Florida

You can't see from these photos, but the public beach area was getting a little crowded as I was leaving because Clearwater Beach has the Sunset at Pier 60 Festival every day from 4 to 8pm. The beach area near the pier and on the pier was full of street performers, kids, pirates, vendors, entertainment, etc.


Clearwater Beach


A quieter, less touristy beach that I love running on is Indian Rocks Beach. Not many high rise condos here, just a few and lots of old houses and quaint shops and restaurants.

 I love running here too! I usually run along to sidewalk, but occasionally on the actual beach.


My pink Mizunos
Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

I love those pink polka dot towels. Just bring a good book and relax! After a long run, of course!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I Need A Dog!

My mom sent me this today and it's so true. I've tried to walk Phantom and the picture below is exactly what he does. Also, the cat at 6 a.m. looks and acts so much like Cadence that it's frightening. The Murph and I have had several conversations about this and Cadence doesn't seem to understand he's about to be banished from the bedroom forever. It's going to break his little heathen heart.

our dog's reaction when you get home.

Your cat's reaction when you get home.
 
 
Cat waking up.

Dog waking up.
 
How you know a dog is hungry.

How you know a cat is hungry.
 
How a dog feels after misbehaving.

How a cat feels after misbehaving.
 
How a dog feels when you get him a doggie friend.

How a cat feels when you get it a kitty friend.
 
How a dog steals food.

How a cat steals food.
 
When a cat annoys a dog.

When a dog annoys a cat.
 
A dog's reaction to getting wet.

A cat's reaction to getting wet.
 
A dog's relationship with birds.

A cat's relationship with birds.


Dog's reaction to a walk.

Cat's reaction to a walk.
 
Cat at 6 a.m.

Dog at 6 a.m.