Fun with Five-Year Olds!

Sometimes I forget my little foster girl is in therapeutic foster care. She's just so NORMAL!!!

Recently, she's started saying "of course." Not in a snotty way, just a very matter-of-fact way.

I'll say, "do you want to watch this movie?"
She'll respond, "well of course I do."

"Did you see bubbles when you washed your hands?"
"Of course I did"

"Do you think Whiskers needs water?"
"Of course he does."

"Did you see that big dog on the corner?"
"Yes, of course, he's so big."

It's adorable. I love it.

My friend and I went to Ikea with her last Saturday. Early on in the maze-that-is-Ikealand, my girl picks up a kitchen dish scrubber. She used it to brush her hair, my coat, the cart, and everything in front of her for about an hour. Just quietly walking along, brushing things. And then she put it back before we left as if it was totally normal.

It's amazing how kids don't want a sandwich...until you let them use a cookie cutter on it, and suddenly sandwiches aren't so boring.

I got a new desk chair a week ago (FINALLY-the old one was possibly the same one that Fred Flintstone had, like the actual one he used) and it took me about 20 minutes to put it together and then I had to try it out while catching up on some bill-paying and email cleaning-up. For about two hours that day, she played with the box, a dry paintbrush and some colorful plastic plates we got from Ikea. She "painted" the box, "painted" all over a piece of cardboard from inside it, made a desk out of it, pretended it was a wall blocking her from the other room, "painted" her face and mine, just a "normal" child.

And she SO appreciates having a book read to her. She can be the grumpiest grump-a-lump, but then you offer to read her a book while she thinks about what good choices she wants to make, and she's the sweetest little girl agan. She just loves taking a trip to the library and is great about having soft feet and quiet voices.

It's easy to forget she's seeing a counselor for PTSD and her and her 5 siblings aren't allowed to live at home with their parents due to reasons you really don't want to know about. Or that she intentionally flooded her foster parents home just last month.

What if she's really meant to be with me and my house is the only place where she is free to be normal? 
What if I just don't take her home and stop answering my phone?
What if we live happily ever after?

In real life, her situation is going to change in March and I probably won't have her anymore. And I will probably be pretty heart-broken.

Introducing The Treadmill Desk - A Work From Home Necessity

I have had a Fitbit for maybe about a year now.

 It sits very subtley on the edge of my pants pocket almost every day, minus a few days here and there where I have forgotten it on its charger. If you don't know about it, it's a fancy schmancy pedometer, but more than that. It also has a calories burned feature, a stair counter (mine is frequently at zero because I have no stairs in my house), it syncs wirelessly to your computer OR your phone, and has a sleep function to track how much sleep you're getting and how efficient your sleep is, based on your frequent movements. I've found that it's not completely accurate on that though.

Last night for instance, I recorded 7 hours of sleep, but I woke up 17 times and it is telling me my sleep efficiency is 91%. Really? I woke up exhausted and miserable and I would have put my efficiency more at 19%. Slight flaw...but interesting to see how restless I am, so if I didn't think I had moved around a lot in the night, this would validate why I'm a wretched, cranky monster.

It gives me fun little encouraging comments on its little reader board when I pick it up, like "Way to go K-Dizzle." Or "Faster K-Dizzle!" Or "Woot! K-Dizzle!" Or my favorite: "Hold Me K-Dizzle." I really like the size of it-it's very discrete and it's not clunky on my arm like some of the trackers are these days. You can't cheat with it either. If I swing it around, it magically recognizes I'm not moving.

sidenote: I don't usually go by that name, but I got a new computer and I wanted to test the setup and see immediately if it would sync up and the name change felt like it was the easiest way to do now I am k-dizzle.

Ideally, we should all be getting 10,000 steps a day to be healthy. That's about 4.5 miles. When you work on a computer all day and work 12hrs at a time, it's really hard to find time to walk 10,000 steps. And when you do that 10 hour shift from home, it's actually sometimes hard to walk 3000 steps. It's a wee bit embarrassing, but it's really easy to walk so little when you MUST GET your work done to meet a very tight deadline (or the entire world will explode).

Here are my last two weeks - note that I forgot to wear it a few days. Note the first 7 bars on the graph and see how low they are? Sad. Sad, sad fitbit.

I have been struggling lately to feel healthy and don't feel like I have time to invest in being healthy. but this is my job and it's not going to change and so I needed to find something to make both my health and my work come together like unicorns and rainbows.

Enter the Treadmill Desk.

The last two days was a total success. I got to sit on the couch in the morning while working and calling into a few meetings. After lunch each day, I walked for an hour. WHILE working!! It actually was very easy to do and the first day, I walked again before dinner-while working!! And for the first time in a long time, I was able to make my 10000 steps goal. I almost made it again today, but my foster girl showed up early and it just wasn't possible to be on the treadmill tonight. It's literally 5 feet from where she sleeps and it might sound a bit like a pack of rhinos when I walk on it.

Regardless - I think I have found a new way to live life right!

Here is how I created my desk. It took A LONG TIME (at least 2 minutes) and was A TON OF WORK (not in the least).

The biggest thing is safety, of course. It couldn't be in the way of my body in it's natural walking state - and by natural, I mean the only possible way you can walk while having your fingers attached to a keyboard.
The second biggest thing (unless you are my employer, in which case it's the first) is the safety of the laptop.

I happen to have bought a shelf last year that turned out to be a perfect length to lay across my treadmill cross bars. I hadn't opened the shelf, so although it's a glossy type of faux wood, it's still wrapped in plastic, still has the cardboard pieces over the ends. I think the cardboard and the plastic might be critical to this working as they don't allow any slipping around. The cardboard may even act as a bit of a shock to help absorb any of the movement from the treadmill (there definitely is movement).

Originally, I just had the one shelf, but I found that the laptop was low and it was killing my weak wrists to type that way. So I knew I needed to raise it up and went to the garage to look for a box which I could use to raise it up a good 2 inches or so. I somehow forgot I had ANOTHER shelf, just a bit shorter, still wrapped in plastic with its cardboard edges...and it worked PERFECT!!! The plastic stops any slipping around and the cardboard helps buffer (maybe) AND it raised it up the exact perfect amount to make my keyboard in a great spot ergonomically. And because the shelf is short, it leaves room on the side to allow my mouse on one side and my phone on the other. My treadmill has cup holders, but to put anything in there would require me to have to reach across the shelves/laptop and that ruins my safety factor.

The laptop fits perfectly on the shelf, barely hanging over in front and back. It doesn't have any kind of slip to it-it's pretty snug on bottom. And if I were to bump it, it would fall against the front of the treadmill, which has a very nice incline for holding books and whatnot and I think given the speed I'm going, I probably wouldn't knock over both shelves, in which case the laptop would trap itself between the shelf and the treadmill front-shelf-readerboard-thing.

Here's a couple really horribly-taken photos of my setup:


The trick here - you can't walk fast. Just a bit slower than your normal walking pace, as you have to be able to work while moving. I've read from other bloggers who type and walk that 1.5mph is the fastest you should go-and I found that to be a nice pace. I didn't feel like I was going too slow that it was awkward, but I felt like I could very easily type and read my screen.

Hopefully, I can stay motivated to continue - otherwise working at home is going to cause more harm than good.

*note that I have tried this once before and didn't have the much needed height to it, and wasn't very committed to walking slowly while on my laptop so I dismissed the idea. However, after barely moving the last month while working such long hours, I've definitely become fond of the idea. Even walking at such a slow pace is a gazillion times better for you than sitting on a couch bent over a laptop all day and night.

Sunday Musings - Winning Wars, New Stuff, Old Kittens

I have a jumble of thoughts this morning. Bear with me and my more-random-than-usual-ness.

My foster girl is here through Monday at lunch. She has a nasty cold though, so we're not really doing a whole lot. Also-the foster parents she lives with can't get her to take cold medicine because she doesn't like the taste, so they only have been giving her something for the low fever. I successfully got her to take the cold medicine twice now and I felt like I won an award. When this girl doesn't want to do something, it's a full-on-raging-war to get her to follow your direction.

For instance, last night, she was sleepy and she isn't feeling good, but on the way to bed she needs to stop and brush her teeth. She didn't want to and made it clear. I got her into the bathroom, was able to get her to hold the toothbrush, but then she just stood there with her head down, arm out in front for a FULL SIX MINUTES, completely catatonic. Just standing there, not moving, not speaking, nothing. Six minutes is a LONG TIME to just stand still and look down. Keep in mind that she has some horrible past and in her 5.75 years has been through more than most of us will have to. But still - SIX MINUTES?! I stood out in the hall just out of her eyesight and watched to see if that outstretched arm would move, just waiting (thank god for smartphones) and eventually, I won the battle and the teeth did get brushed. Probably not well, but something is better than nothing.

My dad made me this picture for Presents Day. It's an etching, where apparently you scratch out the picture and test your overall patience and ability to focus for long periods of time. My dad won at that game fo sho:


I visited this store in Portland that I've never been to but will for sure go to monthly now. It's called ZimZim and has all kinds of random things. I bought this really cool wall calendar, small and simple like I like:

I also bought some earrings which are completely lost but will hopefully show up again someday since I never took them off their packaging and certainly never got to wear. And some stickers from Dre Day, which such wonderful quotes from his raps, like:
I don't really know what I will do with them. I originally was going to randomly give them out to people, but I don't want to give any away. You just can't come up with these things on your own-they are classic.  
Remember last summer when Andrew and I fostered kittens and fell in love with a little sassy-pants we named Pippa? My friend adopted Pippa and another kitten we fostered, Ella (who is now Emma).  We were able to go and visit young Pippa, who is still a bit sassy, but who is def not so little anymore. Emma/Ella was there, but is still a bit shy/skittish so we got to see her, but not really love on her.
Here's Pippa back in the day:
And here's Pippa now-much more grown up!

She's so big and cute and I love her so much!! If she would only stay little, I would have kept her forever. I am happy she has a really great home though, and especially happy that it's a home where we can go visit her! 

My Mom Comes to Town...Moose and Falls and Squirrels and Lions and Penis Donuts, oh my!

I had a day off!!! It's a rarity these days. Even more rare - seeing my mom!!!! 
She moved from Washington state 1,447 miles away to Iowa state. And I have not seen her since May of last year. She is spending a week out in the pacific northwest, so I took off work on Friday and Saturday and I spent some good quality time with my mom and sister and a tiny bit of quality time with the-oh-so-busy Andrew.
The winter weather held out and the three of us girls headed out to Multnomah Falls - one of the top ten waterfalls not named Niagara. It's just about an hour from my house and includes a lovely scenic drive for part of it.

Pretty sure this is a cabbage field - with rows and rows, including purple cabbage?!

Driving through a small town, we saw a giant moose statue. The rules of any road trip dictate that anytime you see a giant moose statue, you MUST get a picture with it. So we did.

Rules also dictate that if possible, always take a picture of you riding the moose.
Random contemplating cowboy with dog shot.
A little stream we crossed to get to the base of the falls.

You can climb all the way to the top - it's only a mile, but it's steep and it's nothing but switchbacks the entire way. There are warnings at the visitors house about dangerous wet and icy conditions, but even without, I'm not sure I was up for the climb and my moms knees were definitely not. You can climb up .25 miles and get to a nice bridge for photo ops. On the way up - there are speed bumps. For out of control wheelchairs maybe? Runaway strollers? Crazy elders racing on scooters?
The view from the bridge.

The majestic Multnomah Falls!
Hiking up a short ways to take more pictures.
 We did a bit of shopping at some random cool Portland shops, and ate at the Doug Fir Lounge.

Note the wood bar-it's like a giant log split in half. And the squirrel card at our table.
We played a game called Telestrations with Andrew and a friend, where we laughed and laughed over the fun interpretations. If you like to draw and have a group of friends who like that type of game, I highly recommend Telestrations as a party option!

This is very clearly "Lion Kill" - right??

And no trip to Portland would be complete without a trip to our favorite Thai restaurant, Beau Thai, and the ever-famous Voodoo Donuts. We waited in line for 15 minutes to buy overpriced novelty donuts and were disappointed that my sister couldn't go home with a "cock-n-balls" donut...but luckily we were driving by the other Voodoo location and Andrew played the hero and ran in and got his Aunt Jenny a special penis-shaped donut, just like she wanted. He's a good boy!

Not awkward at all.

And then all too quickly, our time came to an end. My mom had to leave, and so did my darling Andrew. He is now safely back in the dorms at USC, excited to start his sophomore year (he started in Spring so has just completed one full year).

And I miss them both.

2012 Year in Review - Here's to a Better Blogging Year in 2013!

I have the grumpiest little foster girl in the ENTIRE WORLD staying with me this weekend.
And I have a ton of work to do...but then I discovered popurls a few months ago and that's the easiest distraction in the entire world.
And when I caught up with that site, I did about ten minutes of work again...but then Pinterest happened.
And then I got back to work again...but then there's facebook.

And this is how my day is going. And the grumpiest girl in the world is fighting a nap as if I was trying to poison her.

So since I have nothing to do today....let's post on my poor, neglected blog! The first post of 2013. Don't get your hopes up.

2012 was the slowest year ever for me as a blogger. I used to be really connected and involved, but this last year I have just pulled away. Mostly due to time constraints because of the new job. Slightly because I have a boring life. A tiny bit is because I have a horrible memory-in the old days, I would think of something to blog about during work or on the way home, and then later that night, I'd write it up. In the last year, my memory has been failing me and when I think of something (something really awesome every time I'm sure) while driving home, it completely disappears from thought by the time I get a chance to type it up. Let's hope this memory loss thing is not long-lasting.

Here's a quick recap of 2012:

January - I became an empty-nester as my young amazing Andrew went off to face the trials and tribulations of being a grown-up and enduring college life.
February - I became CPR certified and I can now save the life of my fellow human. Also, I turned 38 (yikes) and collected over 100 bottles of shampoo for my annual birthday shampoo drive.
March - I became certified as a therapeutic foster parent!! It is by far one of the best things I will probably ever do in my life, aside from raising the amazing Andrew. And this is the month that Andrew went to India(!!) for a business class trip!
April - Las Vegas, Baby!!! ..with the elders.
May - Mothers Day visit with my momma.
JuneA new job for Kaylen!!!
July - I decided that just fostering humans wasn't enough...and Andrew and I had a summer of fostering kittens! We love having tiny little kitties in the house, but we discovered that it's not all fun and games. Tiny little kittens don't always survive. It was hard...but they don't all pass away, some thrive and grow to be wonderful and are adopted by wonderful people and have wonderful lives.
August - This is the month when I hold my annual backpack drive-a HUGE success again this year, and also the month where Andrew goes back to college.
September - omfg- I WAS IN SOUTH AFRICA!!!!!
October - Nothing really exciting, I worked a gazillion hours and got back into foster parenting 2-3 weekends a month.
November - This is the month where Andrew flew out of his teen years and entered his roarin' twenties!! It's still a bit shocking to believe.
December - Lots of fostering, crafting, and Presents Day! I worked a gazillion hours, but still managed to balance it with things that keep me sane and happy.


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