Benchin’ the Bar

It’s been a few months since I shot this video. I can actually do three sets of five with just the bar (45 pounds). If I increase the weight to 50 pounds, I can usually get in one set of five.

Lately, I’ve been using a Swiss Bar (aka a Football Bar, aka a Multigrip Bar). The biggest reason I switched to this is because I want to develop my triceps a little bit. I have a lot of hanging skin from all the weight I lost, and that’s the part of my body that bugs me the most. My brother’s bar is a 40 pound one and I reliably do three sets of five with just the bar. I’ve started adding five pounds, for a total of 50, and that’s going quite well. In addition to working a different part of my arm, it also helps with my shoulder. Almost two years ago, I fell at work and broke my left proximal humorous. My left shoulder has been much weaker than my right, though it’s getting closer to being the same.

Me and My Shadow

A stray neighborhood cat has adopted my brother. He’s such a sweetie pie. I’m a proud auntie.

Billy decided to call him Shadow because he sort of crept out of the shadows and slowly nuzzled up to him.

Shadow will actually come into Billy’s garage/gym and jump up on the bench.

My Classroom

As some of you may know, my initial plan for my adult life was to become a pediatrician. For various reasons, I changed my mind. I decided to go to graduate school to pursue my doctorate in infant cognition and perceptions. Because of illness, I had to give up that dream, though not before publishing my masters thesis.

Then I spent about eight years (on and off) teaching English in South Korea. When I came home, I battled illness, both physical and psychological. An excellent treatment team consisting of the University Hospitals, Cleveland bariatrics program, a general practitioner, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Just over three years ago, I applied for jobs in the child care/early childhood education industry. Despite what some may believe, we are not baby sitters. We are qualified educators with requirements to maintain our qualification. Like our K-12 colleges, I have to write lesson plans, do assessments, set goals, have parent/teacher conferences and much more. It really annoys me when someone tells me it must be so much fun to play with babies all day. Yes, it is a lot of fun, but it’s a TON of work, especially with the youngest infants.

I landed a job at a center just four minutes from my house. I began as a preschool teacher. Although I liked what I was doing, it wasn’t just right for me. I spent one summer developing and running the Summer Bridge program to help insure our school aged students didn’t lose too much ground over their long vacation. That definitely wasn’t the right place for me. I have so much respect for my K-12 colleges. I could not do their job. After returning to the preschool for a while, I found my true love, unsurprisingly, infants.

I started working with the older infants, 12-18 months of age. I enjoyed my ability to watch development, in what seems like fast forward. Then COVID hit. Our center closed. When we reopened, due to staffing difficulties, we combined the younger and older infants into one room. We being providing care for infants beginning at six weeks of age. So far, the youngest infant came to me at just under four months. She’s now 14 months old and it amazes me every day how much she’s changed. My little Londynn was basically a blob when she came. I had to feed her, hold her, carry her, decipher her cries. Not anymore. She’s saying single words and even a phrase or two (like “eat eat” when she’s hungry). I’ve been home sick for the last week (scientists don’t need to develop bioweapons, just use baby snot), so she just might be walking on her own now.

That’s a long preamble to post some pictures of my classroom. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I have a bit of a perfectionistic trend. I take great pride in keeping my room fresh and interesting. I have taken continuing education courses on how to set up an effective infant or toddler classroom. When we had our Step Up to Quality visit a few months ago, I received great feedback from the assessor. I’ve helped other teachers set up and enhance their classrooms as well.

Without further ado…

I love displaying the artwork the babies do. I generally have a theme for the bulletin board over the changing table. Currently, it’s summer. In the photo above, we did some tape resist painting using their initials. Other artwork is on the walls using inexpensive bulletin board boarder from the dollar store to frame it. The red, yellow and green posters are pictures of the babies in various activities. One is them eating, another is them doing art and the final one is them reading. And boy do they love to read. The large bulleting board above the play kitchen area says, “What Us Learn… and Grow!” and features pictures of them doing various activities.

As for how they do art? There’s an art to doing art with babies, but once you discover the methods, it’s a lot of fun, and surprisingly not very messy. I have a container and marbles that I put paper and paint in and let them shake, shake shake it. I have a salad spinner that I load with paper and paint and they push the plunger, sometimes with some assistance from me. I put the paper and paint in a plastic zipper bag, seal it up and they pick it up and smush and squish to their hearts desire. The next method is the one with a higher chance of mess, but it’s not too bad. You take your paper and paint (or even wooden forms) and sandwich them between two slices of deli paper (or any other sort of paper bigger than the artwork) and let them pat it, hit or rub it. Peal the deli paper away and your art is left behind. This is how I helped them make their initial. For those who are brave, I’ve done handprints. And for those who are super duper extra dedicated, take their shirts off, put on an art shirt and let them finger paint. There is nontoxic washable paint on the market, or you can make your own using various edible materials.

I hope you enjoyed

Oh NO!!

We had, up until this evening, a tree on our tree lawn. A line of severe thunderstorms flew through the greater Cleveland area earlier. When the alert came through my phone, it said winds up to 80 mph. Looking at our poor tree, I can believe it.

It could have been much, much much worse. There are a few pictures of huge trees that came down in the area. AJ Colby says more storms are in the future due to the high temperatures and humidity we’re having. Check out this segment of him talking with images of the radar and satellite from the storm. It does look like we’ll have a nice weekend, knock on wood.


I don’t have many memories from childhood. Most of them consist of what I describe as “snapshots”. It’s like a picture of sorts in my mind. Sometimes I know the context and sometimes I don’t.

Seeing the tree on the ground brought back one of these snapshots. It’s me standing in a garden center holding onto the trunk of this (much smaller version) tree. There isn’t much more to it. I’m actually assuming it’s a garden center, because where else would you have bought a tree in the late 70s. I guess it isn’t even a picture so much. It’s more of like me looking outside from inside of me knowing I’m holding onto this tree.

For some reason, seeing the tree on the ground made me cry last night. I don’t feel particularly emotionally attached to that tree. Maybe because it’s one of the few nontraumatic memories I have? I don’t know. And at the moment, I’m overwhelmed with everything else and I don’t want to explore it. Maybe when I talk to Dr. D the week after next.

Parma Walk/Run for Pierogies

Yesterday, I was supposed to do the 5K at the Parma Pierogi Run/Walk. Unfortunately, I hurt my knee a few weeks ago.

Actually I think it might just be an arthritis flare. About 10 years ago, Gidgette scratched my leg and I ended up with a blood stream infection and septic arthritis in my knee. They went in and surgically debrided it. Since I didn’t have any insurance, I wasn’t able to get physical therapy afterwards. The knee has never been the same.

Regardless, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go 3+ miles yesterday. I turned off at the 1 mile walk mark.

I ended up doing the mile in 18:45, which isn’t too bad considering I didn’t stress my body too much. I’m totally happy with it. Mainly because I DID IT!!!!! It was my first race.

Before the Race!

I’m going to get an orthopedist appointment in the next few weeks. I really like the guy who treats my arthritic shoulder. Hopefully he does knees too. If not, I’ll gain another orthopedist to go along with him and the back specialist (years of being beyond obese wrecks havoc on joints).

I really do want to do a 5K. I signed up for the Cleveland Marathon 5K in October.

5K Training

I signed up for a 5K on July 3rd. It’s been a few weeks since I last went out for a walk/run. Things have been super busy at work and I’ve been working late on Tuesdays and Thursdays, not to mention Saturdays.

I had been lifting Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. And then going for a run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

But between all the crap at work and being under the weather with allergies and my second Covid shot… Well, my motivation and energy were lacking.

I think I only have 2 more weeks of insanity at work. And as long as the weather is nice, I need to at least go out for 20 minutes or so.

Getting Fitter

I think this is the first time I’m going to post a picture of myself…. actually a video. This is VERY HARD for me. I probably should post a before picture first.

This wasn’t even at my heaviest. I topped out at 440 pounds before having my first of two bariatric procedures. My treatment team saved my life. If you’ve ever seen “My 600 Pound Life”….. well, that’s where my life was going.

I ended up losing 275 pounds. I gained some pandemic weight, but I’m working on losing that. I’m working out with my brother three times a week doing strength training. And them I’m doing Couch to 5K three days a week. Sunday is my day of rest. Here’s the video from today.

Clearly a big change in the last 5.5 years. I feel better. I’m happier. I’m more confident.

Ordinary People and Good Will Hunting

I was browsing metafilter last night and there was a post in fanfare about the movie, “Ordinary People“. That’s a movie that Dr. D (in Austin) asked me to watch. That was roughly 20 years ago (give or take a year or two)

(Gidgette just crawled up onto my lap and is sitting on my arms. It’s making typing on the laptop quite difficult.)

At the time, it was pretty impactful. I remember us talking about it for a session or two. But I don’t remember what we really talked about.

Back to last night. I decided to see if it was streaming anywhere. Turns out, yes it was, on Amazon Prime Video. As I started watching, the plot came back to me. What hit me this time was how much the mother (Mary Tylor Moore) was obsessed with keeping up appearances. It was all about how the family looked to her friends. January of last year, I talked about that idea with Dr. JD (to differentiate her from Dr. D in Austin), but I know I didn’t really explain it well. I know this because I’ve been journaling daily since 1/1/20 and it gives me on this day in history. When that came up a few weeks ago, I wrote that I wanted to talk about it again. But I never knew how to broach the idea. I think I’ll send her a text to see if she’s seen it. It’ll be a good springboard for the topic.

Around the same time Dr. D asked me to watch “Ordinary People”, he asked me to watch “Good Will Hunting” as well. “Good Will Hunting” hit a lot closer to home, so to speak. I think the scene everyone probably remembers is Will (Matt Damon) and Sean (Robin Williams) in his office as Will is finishing up therapy with Sean because he’s turned 21. You can watch it on YouTube. Just hearing the words, “It’s not your fault.” over and over was hard back circa 2000.

Being a glutton for punishment, I actually bought the digital download and watched it. It surprised me how hard that same scene hit me in 2021. The tears flowed just as freely as they did 20 years ago. I actually journaled about this after watching it. The app I use, Day One (iOS and Mac only), lets me record an audio entry. One of these days, I’ll go back and listen to it. Actually, I might do that before “seeing” Dr. JD on Tuesday.