Video: Spring Break 2018

Here’s a four-minute cut of our week in Mexico, including a trip down the Lazy River at Xel-Há Park and some fun times at the Catalonia Riviera Maya in Puerto Aventuras.

There will be details and photos and reviews forthcoming, of course, but the Reader’s Digest version is that we thoroughly enjoyed our four nights in Mexico (with a few minor complaints, of course), and we’re looking forward to more family vacations in the future.

Remembering the Music of the Night

I hadn’t really been into the Winter Olympics this olympiad — I’m still not, really, although I watched the Men’s Snowboarding on a whim and was surprised to see that Shaun White was still competing, since that’s a name I actually know, and I haven’t followed extreme sports for some ten years.

Then I stumbled upon a fascinating article about Olympian Adam Rippon, and upon reading of the author’s love for watching figure skating as a youth, I myself was transported back to high school.


How Does Your Garden Grow? Part 3: Cottage Garden, Autumn 2015

I recorded and edited this video back in November, and somehow forgot to post it here. Seems appropriate, as I’m perusing seed catalogs and choosing additional plants for my future cottage garden, to post the state of the garden as it was before winter hit.

For those who would prefer to read than to watch: I transplanted a volunteer viburnum, divided a white peony from the north fence into many more pieces than I’d intended, and planted dozens of pink peony-flowering tulips.

The color scheme, for now, will be pink and white, with a hint of blue from the hydrangeas (when they decide to grace us with blooms, that is). I’m very much looking forward to creating a space that’s my own, as opposed to the other beds, where I feel I’m maintaining someone else’s creation. They’re quite nice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s taking me a long time to feel like they’re mine.

For now, though, I’m dreaming of spring and hoping that all those tulips come up like gangbusters.

How Does Your Garden Grow? Part 2: My Cottage Garden

I’m seriously stoked about planning out my cottage garden in what used to be “the jungle” in front of the garage, so much so that I spontaneously got out my iPhone 6 and made a short video about it.

I’ve come a long way, garden-wise, since my last gardening video blog post (I refuse to use the term “vlog”) two years ago. Everything is under control, nothing looks too neglected, and I feel like I’m in a good place to add some low-maintenance plants to the mix.

On the technical side: I do need to remember that the road noise sounds worse on video than it does in my head, though, and speak up when I’m recording.

Also, iMovie on iOS is a much better video editing app than I would have expected. The last time I used iMovie was when it first came out, back when I was in college, and using it as compared to the advanced Media 100 software I was used to seemed hamfisted and clunky and inflexible. iMovie for iOS feels like an easy-to-use app that has all the features one would need to edit together some basic shots. I approve.

Talking of the Butter for the Royal Slice of Bread

Connor is able to sit through slightly longer stories with slightly fewer pictures as he gets older and his attention span and comprehension gets a little better. In his collection of books (and he does have quite the collection, most of which belonged to his Dad and his uncle back in the day), there are a few titles that I used to have as a child — like the Better Homes and Gardens Story Book.

My Mom says I was able to read at age three (my son’s age now), but my memories of laying on my floor and reading this book on my own are more around age 5 or 6, I think. It’s a collection of stories and poems, and I had some favorites, and there are some I’d never read at all — for instance, I don’t even want to tackle the dialects in the Uncle Remus stories as an adult, reading aloud.

Connor specifically asked for The King’s Breakfast one day, though, and that tickled me, because I do remember liking that one — partly because I also saw it on The Muppet Show:

I think, perhaps, that my tendency to read it to Connor in my fake British accent stems from me subconsciously imitating Twiggy as I read it aloud.

How Does Your Garden Grow? Part 1: These Damn Weeds

I had finally finished weeding the back side of the fence out front on Friday evening (yeah, that’s my idea of a fun Friday night out) when I realized how many more weeds I had yet to pull. So, in a fit of frustration, and with no advance planning (i.e. no makeup and no script), I pulled out my iPhone and started filming. The idea was to post a quick and dirty video that night and not have to spend time writing copy and editing photos and all that. Couple quick cuts and done.

Alas, the video editing software I’d been using on my old computer (it’s been quite a while since I tried to edit video) doesn’t work with my 64-bit processor. I then spent the rest of the evening seeking out a better free video editor than Windows Movie Maker, which kind of defeated my original quick-and-dirty-post idea. I ended up going with WMM, anyway, since the one relatively powerful tool I found has a bit of a learning curve to it.

So, this is my attempt at a little video blog series entitled, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” (Just like dozens of other gardening websites and resources, yes, I know. Best title I could come up with on relatively short notice. I’m not usually so spontaneous.)

As a postscript to the video, I realized that I’m going about weeding all wrong. I need to go out with the Preen and put it down immediately, not wait until some time after I’ve weeded. Otherwise, all the weeds I just pulled will have shaken off their seeds and already started to take hold again.

Next up: pruning my roses! My loppers and bypass shears arrive from Amazon tomorrow, so, assuming that I feel up to it tomorrow after the toddler goes to bed, I’ll be outside documenting the pruning of one or more of my rosebushes.

I never thought I’d have a singular rosebush I didn’t manage to kill, much less the four or five that are on this property. It’s gorgeous here… if I can keep everything under control.

Learning About My New Pal, Spondy

If this were 1998, I would create a new website about spondylolisthesis. I’d include links to studies, and to other websites, and maybe write a few words about why I put the site together.

If I had more time on my hands, and more knowledge, I would create my own spondy blog, or do a podcast about it. Maybe I’d see if I could interview experts in the field, talk to my chiropractor, get some original content to post for the spondy community.

As it is, I have a personal blog where I basically do public journaling. I like being able to search my journal entries for past experiences, and I like being able to share my thoughts with friends and strangers. So, I’ve created a category on my blog for spondylolisthesis, and I’ll be documenting my experiences and discoveries, wins and fails, online resources, et cetera.

This condition is part of my life now, therefore it’s part of my blog. If I can collect some info that helps other people along the way, so much the better.

I actually went looking for podcasts about spondy today, for something to listen to while I walked around downtown during my lunch break. (My chiropractor put me back together yesterday afternoon after I tweaked my L4 on Friday during my very first spin class, and I’m still recovering. I needed that walk more than I needed today’s Weight Watchers meeting.)

While I didn’t find a dedicated spondylolisthesis podcast, I did find an episode of eOrthopodTV in which the host, Dr. Randale Sechrest, interviews spinal surgeon Dr. Nitin Bhatia about the symptomology and treatment of spondylolisthesis.

I felt like I needed to listen with prejudice — the interviewee was a surgeon, after all, so I expected him to promote surgery over the more conservative and non-invasive methods of treatment. Which, of course, he did. However, being a surgeon, he also explained the procedure(s) much more thoroughly than I had previously read, and made them seem much less scary. That said, I’d need to live with this level of pain for quite some time before I’d be willing to go under the knife to relieve it.

Other things I learned or had reinforced:

Spondylolisthesis will not paralyze me. It’ll just make life considerably more uncomfortable.

I also learned that I’ve developed this problem much earlier than most. It tends to crop up in older people — think fifties or sixties — although they did mention that women tend to be more susceptible than men.

Allow me to repeat this year’s mantra: I’m 37! I’m not old!

Dear Connor: Month 17

You are so not a little baby anymore.

Pajama Grin

Mommy’s been keeping track of the words you say, and you’re up to a few dozen. Your vocabulary has just exploded in the past month, and you’ve been learning literally a new word every day for the past week or so. You say words that we didn’t even know you knew — we didn’t teach them to you on purpose. But some we did, and it’s rewarding to hear you repeat them. (Just make sure not to repeat the words we don’t want you to know…!)


Blocks For Christmas!

Connor’s Grammy sent him alphabet blocks for Christmas!

This is actually kind of special, because some of my favorite memories of being around kindergarten-age revolve around playing with my alphabet blocks with my Mom. We’d make pyramids on the coffee table, out of words — she’d help with the big seven-letter word that would form the base, then we’d make a six-letter word, and a five-letter, until we finished the pyramid with an I or an A. Then we’d take turns poking out the blocks, Jenga-style (this was long before we’d even heard of Jenga), until the pyramid fell down.

Thanks, Grammy.

Open and Closed

A rare bird, this: a video blog post!

After this, Connor decided that he wanted to climb down the stairs after all. Since the basement isn’t a place where he’s generally allowed, I had my work cut out for me in keeping him interested only in the stairs (and not Daddy’s comics).

He’s not nearly as adept at climbing down as climbing up — and he’s not nearly as adept at climbing up when he’s getting slappy and tired. He bonked his nose climbing up near the end of the evening, and I had a bit of a time convincing him that he should climb up the rest of the way and get back on the proverbial horse.

(As an aside: I really have to work my pronunciation around my new braces. I hadn’t realized what that looks like. It’s a good thing I’m not any more self-conscious about having braces than I was about having bad teeth. There’s just a learning curve to working around the extra hardware.)