Working on The new theme still, and this is an “aside” post–may remove it tomorrow once I’ve seen what in the world that means. Either way, fastest barefoot mile today (8:30) and the longest run (3 miles) on my first dirt trail.
For some reason I have felt like these few hours back in December onboard the USS Yorktown (the retired Aircraft Carrier moored at Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant) has been hanging over my head – the “trip report” I keep meaning to post so that I can get back to my plan of filling in all these weeks when we’re actually home with trip reports from our year in England. Then I go on jaunts here and there and still don’t get back to the Yorktown. So here you go – a few fun pictures from the “Homeschooling” Day I spent with Patience and Gabriel onboard the USS Yorktown on December 7, 2012 (Pearl Harbor Day, in case someone reading this didn’t catch the import of the “day that will live in infamy.”)
We arrived bright and early (for us) at 10am on the cold, windy pier for a brief lesson on brackish water and the coming together of the mouths of many rivers which forms the tidal basin here in Charleston. We learned about erosion and talked about certain wildlife found in these waters due to its “brackishness.”
Then it was on to the USS Yorktown, CV-10, for a salinity lesson and some time spent with sea creatures. She was one of the 24 Essex-class Carriers built during WWII in response to the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Originally, she was to be christened Bon Homme Richard, but was renamed in the shipyard after CV-5, the USS Yorktown, which was lost at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. This USS Yorktown arrived in July, 1943, to Pearl Harbor, from whence she departed a month later to commence two years of campaigns in the Pacific Theater. Decommissioned shortly after WWII, she was later brought back into service for Vietnam and even participated in recovery during the Apollo 8 mission. She also appeared in a few movies – Tora! Tora! Tora! and The Philadelphia Experiment.
Next we moved outside and across to an old Destroyer (USS Laffey, DD-724) moored at the same pier. We had a tour of it along with a great history lesson concerning WWII.
Here’s a quick history of the USS Laffey. Interestingly enough, the USS Yorktown is home to a “Medal of Honor” Recipient Museum (I highly recommend touring it when you have time to read everything!), and the USS Laffey was named after a Civil War Medal of Honor Recipient. This is the second USS Laffey, and you will read about the first and second ships in this brief write-up from the Patriot’s Point website:
“Both ships were named in honor of Seaman Bartlett Laffey, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient.
The second LAFFEY was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer by Bath Iron Works (Maine). Commissioned February 8, 1944, LAFFEY supported the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. Late that summer, LAFFEY transferred to the Pacific Theater to join the US offensive against Japan. While operating off Okinawa on April 16, 1945, LAFFEY was attacked by 22 Japanese bombers and kamikaze (suicide) aircraft. Five kamikazes and three bombs struck her, and two bombs scored near misses to kill 31 and wound 71 of the 336-man crew. LAFFEY shot down 11 of the attacking aircraft and saved the damaged ship. LAFFEY’s heroic crew earned her the nickname: “The Ship That Would Not Die.” LAFFEY was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and earned five battle stars for service during World War II.
LAFFEY was repaired and was present (as a support ship) for the atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1946 (Operation Crossroads). On June 30, 1947, LAFFEY was decommissioned and placed in the reserve fleet. Re-commissioned in 1951, Laffey earned two battle stars during the Korean War. LAFFEY underwent FRAM II (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) conversion in 1962 and served in the Atlantic fleet until decommissioned in 1975. LAFFEY, the only surviving Sumner-class destroyer in North America, was added to the Patriots Point fleet in 1981, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. ”
There was an AWESOME reenactment of the attack on April 16, put together by the History Channel and shown in its entirety onboard the ship. It’s from their show called “Dogfights.” Here’s a brief clip from the episode:
Here’s another History Channel clip from one of their “Hero Ships” episodes:
So that’s about it. We didn’t really “tour” the aircraft carrier in its entirety because we are saving that for a future visit. If you’ve never been to Patriot’s Point and live out here in SC, I highly recommend it for a living history lesson on, particularly, Medal of Honor Recipients and WWII. Having lived in Pearl Harbor for three years, literally viewing Battleship Row from my backyard, I can accurately compare this to all the learning opportunities found there (the Pacific Aviation Museum, the USS Arizona, the USS Missouri) and want to persuade you to make good use of these national treasures right here on the Mainland. My dad was substitute teaching on December 7 this past year (the day of this visit to the Yorktown), and he said the percentage of his students who knew the significance of December 7 was abysmal. I just read that a poll was taken in 1991 that found fewer than half of the high school students asked could tell you about the importance of that date. Twenty years later – and it was about 1 in 30 in my dad’s classrooms. Pathetic. I could go on and on about the gaps I had in my knowledge when I graduated from high school – for one thing, I knew next to nothing about human life from conception to birth, and the things I knew about world history were sketchy at best – but I can at least say I knew about December 7, 1941. Make sure your kids know, too. WWII wasn’t just some footnote in American history — the world changed forever because of the way the war was fought and “won” and the atrocities that occurred all over Europe and in the Pacific. Remember.
A quick rundown from the weekend that has me still chillin’ out on the couch. And I didn’t even do the Sunday band gigs like some of the other pipers did (I don’t know how they’re still standing….) — I think it would be movie marathon and cheetos for sure if I had piped all day Sunday!! Thankfully here in the Bible belt of the US, there are enough church-goers on Sundays that they held all the festivities in Charleston on Saturday so I was able to participate from 7am all the way til about midnight!! The fun actually started Friday night with the aforementioned “jam” with some friends from the pipe band complete with smallpipes, fiddles, and whistles. I didn’t get to bed til around 2am Friday and was up at 6:15am to get to a hotel in downtown Charleston by 7:30am (I was actually about 15 minutes late…sorry Karen!!) We were just playing a few tunes for a national colorectal cancer group since it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend. They fed us a delicious breakfast, and then we were off to find parking for the 9am show time for our first parade. Here are a few pre-parade piping prep pictures (heehee) wearing the fake tattoo arm sleeves Karen had: [She is musch sillier than me and even had a big green sequined bowtie and fuzzy green mustache for later (I may have to steal some facebook pictures to show you…)]
That was a bit of a long parade, nothing too strenuous, with lots of people all the way up King Street through downtown.
I don’t have video from Saturday, but I managed to find a 30 second snippet of our band marching in Hilton Head, SC, on March 17 (Sunday) without me:
We finished up by high-tailing it over to a soiree several blocks and a fifteen minute walk away (I had no idea where we were half the time) to play a few sets before forming up outside of the Hibernian Club for the second parade. A few of the early arrivals availed themselves of mimosas, but, alas, I didn’t even get a sip of water. I was very thankful for the tiny water bottle Karen had slipped me before the parade to keep in my pipe bag cover. 🙂 Here are a few videos shot by Angus’s mom (one of the younger pipers) while we played between parades:
After those tunes we formed up outside for the second parade – the Hibernian Society Parade. This one was shorter and ended with free refreshments. 🙂
The day gets a bit blurry from here on out because we walked a lot, I went back and forth to my car to pump a few times, moving it each time, going parking lot to parking lot, eating snacks, drinking some iced coffee when I could sneak it in 🙂 I will try my best to give a faithful rendition, but I can’t guarantee anything. After the parades we hob-nobbed behind the Hibernian Club with Mimosas (I had a yummy Coke – haven’t had just a plain Coke in forever but it was so tasty right then!!), taking time to readjust our attitudes:
We headed on over to The Blind Tiger, a great downtown pub and restaurant with a gorgeous brick patio area. The patrons loved us there, and Guinness was freely distributed. A few pictures from The Blind Tiger:
I high-tailed it from there back to the car where I took care of some things and changed into a cuter kilt then met the group over at O’Malley’s for a free lunch (corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread.) As I fast-walked my way across town, things were just too lovely to keep my phone in its case, and pictures were taken:
This tree had three different colors of pink flowers on the same tree!
A few candids from our lunch break:
We of course played for a few minutes upon arrival and departure, and then part of the band had to leave for a gig out on another island. My half planned to meander slowly back through town to the next commitment. Leaving O’Malley’s, I moved the car again and then met up with the band on King Street where we paraded through various places while people taped us on their iphones and ipads (a pizza place, some guy’s apartment, the Apple store…) This was all on our way to Molly Darcy’s, another Irish pub, this time on East Bay Street down by the water. Once we marched into, and through, and around Molly Darcy’s, we deposited ourselves there for more refreshing beverages (They had great sweet tea, and, or course, more Guinness!) and about a 90 minute break. We did a little more playing – this time with some tag-team solos (I attempted a jig, then the three of us played one together, next on to Cathy’s jigs, another few jigs together, and finally some by J.D. That was the plan….but once people were up dancing to the tunes, J.D. and Cathy went back and forth a few times and kept it going for a while. Biff even joined us for a bit on the drum.) We had the right people around to play “Steamtrain to Mallaig” which has several different parts that harmonize, so that was fun. 🙂 (We also got to play it at Hibernian Hall earlier.) A few pictures and videos:
The video spots when we all three played together made it pretty evident that we needed to have tuned together, so I left those out. 🙂
Let’s see….then it was time to move along, this time to Hibernian Hall again because we had thought the gig there was for whoever was on site.
They actually only needed a few pipes and drums, though, so after congregating for a few minutes, the rest of us scooted over to the Southend Brewery for a quick run through the place with a few marches.
I went back to the car again, but this time it was so far away, and I basically needed to come back to the same general area (and had NO DESIRE to spend about an hour walking.) Instead, I decided to walk towards my car while looking for one of those guys who pedals you around in a carriage. Just my luck – some strangers wanted me to play for them and paid me $20 to hear a few tunes. Then a group of college guys stopped me for maybe 5 minutes of playing, and finally, the crowd around the “rickshaw” thing wouldn’t let him pedal away until I played from the bench seat in the carriage. My car was parked in a garage right next to a Starbucks, so as I waited in line for my iced coffee, the guy in front of me struck up a conversation – apparently he works next door to O’Malley’s and heard us piping before lunch! Small world! (O’Malley’s was a good 10 minute drive away from the Starbucks.) We were headed back to The Blind Tiger, but by the time I got there they had already played. The best part hadn’t happened yet, though – free dinner!! I had a decent shepherd’s pie (possibly the worst I’ve ever had, but ground beef, mashed potatoes, and a few veggies are good no matter what you do to them when you’ve been on your feet playing the pipes all day – so it was quite decent to me :)) Our Pipe Major Josh met back up with us after spending half the evening away playing for a wedding, as did the group which had piped over at Hibernian Hall, so we were our own audience for a pipe-off between Josh and J.D. which was quite fun (appreciated by the other diners as well) but did not make it onto my camera.
The FINAL gig of the night was at The Smokey Oak, a BBQ place over on James Island, where I played with two other pipers and three drummers. Surprisingly, “Dawning of the Day” sounded great, and we ended the night on a High Note (pun intended!) 🙂 I also walked away with a full rack of ribs for the family which was tonight’s dinner while I was off at band practice.
On the way back home, I popped into Madra Rua, the Irish pub about ten minutes from our house to play them a few tunes and was rewarded with many cheers and happy faces. When I got home I threw the Corned Beef into a crockpot, and the next day 3 great guys from church came over for lunch, so we had another full, yet relaxing, day. I have no idea how the others marched again on Sunday in Hilton Head because all day MONDAY my legs have still been sore from Saturday’s marching, walking, and standing. I’m going to put my sore legs back into bed now so they can recover a bit more before running in the morning. 🙂
It’s pretty late already tonight – too late for my next kitchen post since I still need to grind some wheat to have flour soaking for naan tomorrow – so I am just catching up on a musical happening I neglected to really describe last week. 🙂 I don’t have much to show you from the concert – just a picture of our band and then one video my dad took – but I thought for posterity’s sake, I should at least touch on last weekend’s Piping activities. 🙂
In the morning I had my first “solo competition” on the bagpipes – something a lot of pipers start doing when they’re 13 or 14 years old but that many don’t do until they’re old like me. 🙂 Why would I want to “compete” with other people on the bagpipes, you may ask? Always sounded a bit silly to me when I first started playing the bagpipes 6 years ago, because I only play for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. But, and this is a BIG “but,” poor piping is not fun for anyone within range – either the piper or the audience! Improving over time in order to play more challenging and appealing tunes was always a goal of mine, as well as becoming a good enough piper to play confidently with any band I might find in my area (ie I don’t want to be kept from playing with a local band because I am not able to keep up), so things that help me improve are always welcome. Taking part in the solo competitions is one of those “tools” aiding me in becoming a better piper, and I truly am thankful to be in an area where competing is a relatively simple endeavor (many Highland Games within driving distance.)
The other reason to compete is so you can be given an overall “rating.” This would be helpful to me so that each time I move to a new area and the dude in charge of the band asks, “What level piper are you?” I can reply with “I am a Grade IV Piper” or the like. Grade IV is the bottom level where I am starting out, and then by the end of the season if I accumulate enough points from contests, I can be promoted to Grade III. I have no hopes of making it past that really and am just currently aspiring to being promoted up to Grade III at the end of the season in October. If I never make it to another grade as long as I live, that will be fine with me, but being able to call myself a “Grade III” piper will communicate to others in the piping community that I am not a beginner, can play a tune and keep a beat, and that I pretty much know what I’m doing. It will mean I am competent, which translates to no longer feeling like I need to “prove” myself to each new band.
Last weekend we competed in the “Charleston Indoor Games” at The Citadel, and I played poorly. I was extremely nervous, which is humbling at the ripe old age of 36 when you kind of feel like nothing intimidates you. Graduating from the Naval Academy, driving a Destroyer, running the Nuclear Power plant on an aircraft carrier, then having six babies, finally figuring out how to bake a decent loaf of whole wheat bread, running a marathon, playing with a rock band, and moving the family all over the world (usually without the help of a husband – but he was around for the move back from the UK which was AWESOME!) — you know, these things tend to puff me up a bit, make me feel invincible. But there’s something about that judge staring at you, intently scribbling indecipherable notes on the grading sheet, that really rattles the soul. Bring on the screaming baby while the wheat grinder whirs and I handle sibling squabbles. Tell me I need to get medical and dental checks, have the house packed out, ship the dogs, and get passports for 5 kids or move across the world with 6. Put me on a plane alone with 5 children ages 7 down to 6 months for 8 hours – twice. Fly that same group halfway to Guam to surprise the unsuspecting Papa and then turn the plane around 3 hours into the flight with a mechanical problem somewhere over the Pacific Ocean (okay – that one did cause me to have a short mid-air breakdown.) No big deal!! Have me play a 2/4 March while walking back and forth doing little turns as someone stares me down tapping his foot at a random speed (sure to be different than the pace I’m currently playing) and I melt into a pool of inadequate piper-jibberish, the calm, cool, and collected ice-woman no more. Hahaha – it wasn’t really THAT bad, but it was uncomfortable, disconcerting, and unnerving, and that was just while I was tuning up my pipes to play!! So without further ado, here’s a short clip of my competition tunes….just kidding. That will forever remain a secret, since there’s no reason for me to go around exhibiting my inadequacies to the world (Hey – I already showed you pictures of my train-wreck of a kitchen – I must dole out the humble pie to myself in small servings!) That was first thing Saturday morning, early enough that my dad and I were able to meet the family at the rock climbing wall where my little man Daniel quickly cheered me up and set my perspective back to rights. Piping contest what? Huh? Change my diaper and then feed me, Mama. I can handle that one!
After the rock climbing we all returned home for sandwiches and naps and then BAM! It was time for my dad and me to head out for the concert being held that night at The Citadel – put on by our band as a fundraiser for the pipe band from The Citadel to go to some Military Tattoo in Canada.
Long story short – the concert was a success and enjoyable to all in attendance. My dad took a bit of video on my iphone from our first number, but I really would love to link you to our version of “Steam Train” which is not yet up on the internet. I guess I will stick it in a separate post on some future date, but for now “Dawning of the Day” – arranged by our pipe major:
Afterwards, we finally took a band photo, which is comprised of our Grade IV and Grade V bands (we played both separately and together at the concert.)
I will go to my next solo competition in April, armed with a 6/8 March dusted off from my band in the UK and a better attitude. I’m here to have fun, right? No more high expectations and nerves (we’ll see about that…) since this is something I enjoy doing. And perhaps I will even post a video as proof of my new-found ability to confidently play a tune in front of a judge. We shall see!
I have seen Plantar Fasciitis (PF from here on out) referred to as “the vampire bite of running injuries” in more than one place – probably because ______ (feel free to fill in the blank for that in the comments!) – I have no idea! 🙂 Either way, I should say again, as I mentioned in Part 1 of this post I am not a medical expert, and these are just my thoughts and opinions. Today I am continuing the post about how my recovery has progressed. I just read an article from the website Strength Running on PF which I wish I had come across much sooner, because the author is basically describing what I have been figuring out the hard way through trial and error. Click here to read what he had to say.
Back to my sort of “running journal” from January and February in which I documented my progress along the road to recovery – anything in italics will be things I’m adding tonight as I edit.
WEEK 1: JANUARY 13-20
Read all this crazy stuff online Monday night, January 14. Stopped wearing the foot brace at night.
So that’s all folks! Nothing too exciting really when I look back, but AS I WAS DOCUMENTING THINGS in January and February, I remember being both astonished and thrilled with the results. I still am very excited to be running again, and I can honestly say I say a prayer of thanksgiving and joy every time I step out the door for a run. It makes me SO HAPPY to be running again – no matter how rocky this road has been and will certainly continue to be…
I have been writing this post for some time now – about three months – working on it here and there and mulling it over in my mind as to what points I want to make and where I’d like this road to lead. Let me just start by saying that all opinions in this post are my own and are not based on medical advice, etc, etc, etc. In other words, read it with a grain of salt. 🙂 It’s going to be about how I’m recovering from the infamous plantar fasciitis (what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, ways to avoid it, etc) as well as why injuries form running are so annoying in general….which calls for a second disclaimer: I am not complaining about my life nor my injury, become I am still super happy that I can sort of still run, that I have a body with all its limbs functions, that I live where it doesn’t get too cold or too rainy, and that I am not pregnant right now and working on running through a pregnancy. All things for which I am very grateful. 🙂
I will be completely candid here and say, though, that one of the reasons having my running curtailed bothers me is that, although I truly enjoy running in and of itself (the feeling of my feet flying over the pavement, the lightness and freedom, the peaceful time to myself with music, the endorphins produced which make me more cheerful for hours), I honestly love what it has done for the way I look as well. I’ve never set out to “lose weight” any time in the past 15 years, but since starting to run 3 1/2 years ago I have consistently felt more at ease in my own skin, and in my own jeans. There isn’t any “Biggest Loser” -type dramatic before-and-after, but I came across a few pictures last month taken in 2001 and was really struck by the changes I can see, so I thought I would post those old pictures here to remind me some day to keep moving.
These were taken 3 years after I graduated from college, and a year or so after we were married, and a year before I was pregnant with our first child:
So then I went on a facebook odyssey looking for the post-running equivalent pictures, to the best of my ability. Here are a few taken when baby number 5 was about 9-12 months old, back in 2011, when I had been running for nearly two years, having taken off 6 months during that pregnancy:
Unlike some of my other friends (you know who you are!) I don’t lose all my pregnancy weight in the first few weeks postpartum. Daniel is now almost 8 months old, and I still weigh about 5-7 pounds more than I did the day I walked in for my first prenatal visit with him (I even trained for and ran a marathon – 26.2 miles – when Daniel was 3 months old – meaning: I am not someone who easily and quickly ‘drops weight’); however, even now I’m about 8 pounds less than I was the day I graduated from University many moons ago in 1998, and about 3-5 pounds under what I was in these 2011 pictures. So do I miss running when I’m injured? ABSOLUTELY! And do I miss what it does for me in so many ways? YOU BET. I like feeling and looking my best because I think it translates into so many other areas of my life. But – I digress. Before-and-after, there you have it. Back to the injury…
I’ll start out by just inserting and editing the part I’ve been writing in the past – and then I’ll interject with some things in italics.
It’s been a long, rocky (quite literally) road to recovering from Plantar Fasciitis (hereafter referred to as “PF”), and as the guy who writes the blog “Chi Running” noted – I would not wish PF on my worst enemy. That is exaggerating it a bit, yes, but I think this injury is something particularly lame (pun intended) because its cure is so elusive. A break – have it set, wait a prescribed amount of time, and it should heal. A sprain – stay off it, do this and that, wrap it, it should heal. A friend of mine had a torn calf muscle which has never really healed over a VERY long period of time, so I really shouldn’t complain. Either way, the fact remains, PF is quite painful (oh, that’s good – PF=Painful Foot) and is hard to fix; often people have recurrences of it the rest of their lives because it is next to impossible for them to remove the causes of it. One solution could be to stop running – if running is what caused it – and then once you’ve healed, you shouldn’t get it again, right? Not so much. All sorts of things can contribute to it, so even if you can take away what seems to EXACERBATE it, you often are left with the underlying causes. I am not going to detail PF here, since anyone interested in it can google it all day and find enough information to fill several tomes, but I will quickly say it is a pain felt right where the arch of the foot connects to the heel. Often, since there are several tendons and muscles in the foot, the pain can radiate from this spot up through other areas of the foot. It sometimes throbs constantly, and at other times it only hurts when one walks (or runs or stands) on it, and then again it sometimes just hurts when pressed, like a bruise. I have experienced all three of these which I will describe here before I go into how I am working on curing myself of Plantar Fasciitis. That is quite a bold statement, but I’ve waited out this post until I could conclusively make it; that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it. I am still experiencing some pain off and on, but I’m running again, so I call that a victory. 🙂 I am really only posting about it so that if some poor soul finds herself in my same predicament, perhaps she will locate my blog through a search and will be able to find the help contained therein and will rejoice evermore! 🙂 I found information for this post (and then tried what the people suggested) on several other blogs, and I’m going to reference them as I tell you my PF story. Stop reading now if you have no interest in running or recovery from PF or avoiding PF. 🙂
“As predicted, it worked like a charm. All sense of any soreness on the bottoms of my feet was totally gone and, I might add, has never returned. In fact, my feet felt so alive and energized by my “torture walk” that I had one of the best runs I’ve had in weeks. My legs were much more relaxed and my feet we’re happy as little clams.
“So, if you’re ever feeling even the slightest nuance of a case of PF coming on, I highly suggest you bite the bullet and find yourself a nice, lovely stretch of gnarly granite to walk across. If are already dealing with a full-blown case of PF it’s even more pertinent that you take matters into your own hands and short circuit the time you spend having to deal with one of the most persistent running injuries there is. This is one of those rare instances in my Chi Running practice when I would agree with the old adage, “No pain…no gain.””
lose the shoes.”
My original post is waaaaay too long, so I will continue with the recovery story tomorrow. Suffice it to say, I eventually progressed to barefoot walking on the gravel, quite a bit of completely barefoot running, along with intermittent biking still whenever the pain has resurfaced and I’ve needed to take a short running “break.” Check back in for more details tomorrow if I haven’t bored you to death already! 🙂
Mostly just pictures because it’s almost midnight, and band practice wiped me out tonight. 🙂 If you’re my friend on Facebook, then you’ve seen a few of these, but I’m going to repost in case you haven’t 🙂 First things first: the morning of the games Daniel wore his special shirt to cheer me on (even though he was spending the day with my mom in Ponte Vedra at her friend’s house where we all crashed for the weekend.)
My dad and I drove down Friday night with Daniel, and we were up nice and early for an on-time departure around 8:45am. We pulled into the hotel where the band members stayed and picked up our parking pass and admission wristbands, barely squeaking through the gate for “Pipe Band Parking” at 9:57am. (The gates closed at 10am.) After my dad performed his packhorse duties, we were happily set up for the whole day in a nice covered pavilion where all the bands gathered. We brought healthy snacks, along with Guinness cupcakes frosted with Bailey’s frosting. Yum. Others in the band also brought treats (Grand Marnier rice krispie treats anyone? More Guinness cupcakes – this time with Irish whiskey ganache? Sure!), and a drummer in our Grade V band cooked up enough delicious meatball stroganoff to feed every piper at the games (maybe…300 people?) Really, though – it was for us as well as for all the pipers from The Citadel, so there wasn’t all that much leftover.
My dad took a few pictures throughout the day that really show things much better than I can describe them, so I’m going to just caption and post them:
My dad also shot a few videos of the “Massed Bands” which was all of the pipe bands together at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies playing and marching together. It was such poor piping and was so disorganized that I am not going to post any of them. During the Closing Ceremonies, drummer Biff stole my hat off my head as I countermarched past him, and my dad’s video shows me in a sea of people with hats on without my hat. The music is atrocious, though, so really, no evidence will be displayed here. Without further ado, though, here is MY BAND by itself, playing the first part of our March-Strathspey-Reel set. It is just our Grade IV Band (we also have a Grade V Band which is made up of the people who are a bit newer to piping.) You can sort of see me facing the camera in the circle, on the far side from the camera.
In between piping things my dad and I wandered a bit and captured other common – and not so common – occurrences at Highland Games.
Editing to say: We took 2nd place in the Grade IV competition (the one I played in) and 4th in the Grade V. Time for bed now. The beauty of an electronic practice chanter is that even though everyone in the house has been in bed for hours, I can still practice my tunes for this Saturday’s concert and solo competition EVERY TIME I GET THE SPINNY WHEEL OF DEATH on my MacBook instead of just sitting here frustrated like I usually do. Ironically, it froze up just now for a few seconds when I put on the capslock to comment on said PINWHEEL OF DOOM. I think it knew what was coming and took offense. It wants to go to sleep and is trying to kick me off of here. Point taken — goodnight!
Just checking in for a few minutes in order to motivate myself to get back up to wrap all the breads up and throw them in the freezer. Tomorrow perhaps I will post the pretzel recipe I used (I altered one I found online in order to soak the freshly ground flour) because I am thrilled to say that the pretzels are delicious. After eating one tomorrow I can report back on what they taste like when they are not straight out of the oven. I plan on freezing a few of them so I can check out the taste and texture after a few weeks. As you’ll see in this one picture when you attempt to spot the pretzels, they are too fluffy to really look much like pretzels. That’s a problem I will need to work on the next time I make them, but for now, I’m just the fluffy pretzels since they’re yummy enough. 🙂
We had a bit of a rough time last night when Greer randomly decided to come downstairs at midnight while I was working on my blog and then stay awake until 3:15am insisting that I “snuggle” with her, which I did in order to keep her crying at bay so she wouldn’t wake the whole house. I think the only time she has ever done that was in her first few weeks of life, so it was very unexpected and not so pleasant. I hoped she would therefore sleep in later, so I set my alarm for 10:15am to make sure I’d be up in time to be at our neighbor’s house for some playtime and baking by 11am. And yet, who did I hear creeping into my room at 8:15am? Why yes, it was Greer! Oh well. It’s not like I can’t survive occasionally on five hours of sleep. 🙂 Greer apparently functions quite well on so little sleep, as evidenced by her ability to play (mostly without fussing) until we made it home at 4pm for her nap (Usually she naps around 2pm.) Getting to know more neighbors who homeschool was a treat, and I helped the mom out with a bit of bread-baking skills since she has been grinding wheat for a while and unable to make a loaf of bread which held its rise well enough. She took this picture of me rolling out the loaves so I can add it to my blog entry on Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. (This was accomplished with TWELVE children in the house since we each have 6!!)
Once home, I took my soaked flour for each of the two sandwich bread recipes and added the remaining ingredients. Finally, there was time for a short break. Then it was on to the preparation of the dough for the pretzels and the focaccia breads as well as grilling up some sausages to eat with this bread for our dinner:
All for now because I need to get back to work in the kitchen, but first, here’s Greer. She put one of those sleeping masks on her head, and I thought it made her look like a bellboy from an old hotel. What do you think? 🙂
First off, our new (cheap) Gymboree clothes (which I bought using our Gymbucks – $50 for four matching outfits like this!? Yippee!) came in the mail yesterday, and Greer needed to try them on right away. 🙂 They are all size 3 (for her) because they didn’t have these in size 2, but now she can grow into them. Needless to say, she was pretty excited!
Recently I discovered that “infant potty training” was the search term most often leading people to my blog. I thought perhaps an update might be appreciated as to how Daniel has been doing on the potty. Several friends lately have been diving into potty training with their two- and three-year-olds as well, so I decided to tell you about how it’s gone with Greer, too. But first, an aside:
Not much has gone on here since my last post (must keep everyone “updated” so I don’t get “behind” in my own mind :)) except church on Sunday and then band practice on Monday night. Mondays are probably my favorite days each week for a few reasons (I know my friend Joell posted yesterday about how Mondays can be a bit of a bummer because it means the weekend is over, but I think you’ll understand why I like Mondays soon…) I spend Mondays thinking about band practice in the evening – when each feeding for Daniel needs to happen so I can leave on time and only have to pump while I’m out, whether I’m fixing a quick dinner beforehand or if I need to figure out something John will make everyone, what I’m feeding myself and possibly bringing to snack on afterwards (because I’m usually famished by the time practice is over), if I’m going to the pub with everyone after practice, if I have all my things together, whether or not there will be time to shower after my workout that day – and all these thoughts make the day go by quickly. 🙂 Usually weekends feel a bit more strenuous than weekdays because I do more to prepare meals (I try to do double-cooking on Saturday for Sunday’s meals, or we make things the night before on Saturday to eat in the car on the way to church Sunday morning; John is also home so that’s another person to factor into meal preparations) and we are usually out for a bit on Saturdays and then of course are out on Sundays at church. Going “out” isn’t just “hey kids, go get in the car,” but is, instead, “pack a bunch of snacks and drinks and extra clothes and nappies into the van, properly attire everyone, have everyone go potty, and try to look decent while getting everyone out the door on time (and nursing Daniel.)” Mondays we don’t do school, but we do our weekly cleaning (if it’s going to happen – including laundry) together instead, so things are a bit cleaner by the end of the day usually than they were all weekend. And after a long, busy weekend, a “break” at pipe band practice is always a bright spot for me. 🙂 This week at practice we only played our chanters, and I was able to sit next to the pipe major, proving to him that I really do know my tunes well enough for our competition in a few weeks. (Last week we were on pipes, and I was next to him, and I was messing things up left and right. Needless to say, I practiced a lot this week.) The other great thing that happened is that I was able to compare pipes with another lady in the band, and she helped me figure out a few issues I’ve been having with mine which we were able to solve together, and now I won’t feel like I’m wrestling with my pipes each time I play. After practice I swung through Krispy Kreme and THOROUGHLY ENJOYED two “hot now” donuts. We haven’t had them in weeks, and they were well worth the wait. To complete the summary of the last few days, I feel compelled to inform you that I fell off the chocolate wagon today with a DELICIOUS chocolate croissant from Atlanta Bread Company today after my appointment with the chiropractor. I told John about it, and now all of you, so hopefully everyone will keep me accountable to getting back on board. 🙂
I am finally back to this post after practicing the bagpipes, eating some dinner, and grinding/soaking wheat. The kids and I are heading over to a new friend’s house tomorrow to play, visit, and bake bread since I had been planning on baking a bunch tomorrow anyway. Here it all is: 3 bowls for the 9 loaves of sandwich bread, a bowl for several pans of focaccia bread, and another for experimental soft pretzels (please, please, please work!!)
It took about two hours to grind it all up, measure out the liquids, and mix the dough together. Possibly, Greer’s “help” made it take a bit longer as well. 🙂
NOW! BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM!
What are we doing with Daniel right now? Currently, I only put him on the potty after I feed him when he has just woken from a nap. I occasionally feed him right before a nap as well in order to add an extra feeding (to keep my supply up), but I generally do not potty him after that feeding because by then he’s been awake a while and is getting fussy meaning he needs to go straight to bed. I keep him on the potty as long as he will stay there, and for as long as I am willing to sit still. 🙂 Usually he will sit on the potty 10-15 minutes. If he has done a #2 for me, I wait til I hear the noises for that several times in a row (since babies are known for going poop again right after you change a poopie diaper) before taking him off the potty. There is very rarely an empty potty after 15 minutes. I even potty him at midnight or 1am when I get him up to feed him again before I go to sleep, and, almost without fail, he goes #1 and #2 for me! After his “potty time” I replace his diaper and let him crawl around for about an hour. If I hear any “tooting” noises, I’ll check right away for poop and will try him on the potty again. Usually, though, I don’t potty him again between feedings. If he is happy enough before he goes down for a nap (which sometimes happens if he’s had the additional feeding, otherwise he’s falling apart) I may put him on the potty again, but generally speaking, there just isn’t time for me to hold him on the potty. He is soooo close to being able to sit by himself on the potty, and when he is I hope to potty him more frequently since I will no longer need to spend all that time sitting with him. (With my first baby, we kept her diaperless between feedings while she crawled around, usually with a pad down on the floor – the hardwood floors were nice for this since accidents were easy to clean. This helped us to repeatedly put her on the potty. Needing to remove and replace a diaper every time to potty Daniel definitely inhibits my desire to continue to potty him during his “wake” time. He’s pretty mobile now but still is just dragging himself along rather than crawling. Once he’s crawling, since we have hardwood floors again, I may have him go diaperless for a while. I’ll let you know if that happens! The real issue is just having the time and inclination to keep my eyes on him often enough to have him naked. Sure, I have more kids now, which is why it’s harder to do than when I had just one child, but perhaps this means I can now have one of the older kids help with the baby tracking, reporting to me if he makes any messes. :))
As far as dirty diapers go, we clean up a “poopie” diaper about twice a week, maybe? (If my husband is reading this, the “?” is for him – is that about right?) Twice a week. That’s what I said. Some weeks it may only be once, and others, perhaps a few more times. If you want this to be the way you potty train your baby, and you have questions – PLEASE ASK. I would love to help you do it! We started our 1st, 5th, and 6th babies from birth and our 4th from six months old. Starting any later – I don’t have experience with that. Babies 2 and 3 we trained the traditional way (close to age 3) after attempting infant potty training and having it fail around 10 months (baby #2) and 3 months (baby #3) because I couldn’t juggle it all. How does it really work, then? Why is it we train animals to go in certain places and expect them not to urinate all over the house some time between 6 and 12 months old but don’t expect it of our young humans who are so much more intelligent? Most babies are trained by us to use their diapers to go potty. Attempting to break that training – YEARS later – is difficult and trying! If you are a first-time mom, or even if you have several kids and think they are under control enough for you to maybe spend a little extra time with the baby on this – I think you should give it a try. Just go for it. What do you have to lose other than a few years of changing absolutely disgusting diapers?? Training a baby to use the potty works the same way we train animals to use litter boxes or the backyard. Babies learn to control their muscles (and gain the ability to control them) as they age at a pretty fast rate, so take advantage of that steep learning curve!
At first, babies just go potty whenever and wherever. They take their cues from their surroundings just like we do — things like temperature, nakedness, being wet, being in a breeze, sitting on something made of cold plastic are all variables that will make a baby (and sometimes an adult!) need to go potty. Ever wonder why a baby seems to pee and poop all over you at the doctor’s office when you take off the diaper? It’s probably the cool air and “free”ness experienced when you remove the diaper that stimulate baby’s senses and muscles. Eating and drinking also can make people need to go potty (which is why I center my potty times around feedings.) Some books recommend using a sound or a phrase each time the baby goes potty so that he will begin to associate the sound with the sensation of using his muscles to go potty. This is what we are training — using muscles to go potty rather than using muscles to prevent going potty. They are two completely different things, and baby’s muscles for going potty develop much sooner than the muscles needed for the opposite. It’s the same for your dog – right after meal time, an owner will take the dog to the spot for going potty and will praise the dog and use the word “potty” or something similar when the dog goes potty. Dog owners do the same right after letting a dog out of its kennel. Obviously the dog needs to go potty, but using the word and taking it to its spot reinforce the habit, and before you know it, the dog will always go to that spot when he needs to pee. We do this with animals RIGHT AWAY, as soon as they are able to walk. Are they smarter than our babies?? No way! Any baby can learn to go potty on a potty with about as much effort as it might take to train a dog. Perhaps the dog is trained completely in 6 months, having only the occasional accident. How long does it take us to get a baby to this point? Would you like to know?
Here’s Greer yesterday, and this picture has a purpose:
It is to say that from the time the baby walks (just around age 1), we keep the baby naked on the bottom (more modest using a long shirt or dress) to prevent any hinderances to going potty. At the age our children (babies 1, 4, and 5 so far) have been walking, they have been walking to the potty on their own. That’s 12-13 months old. So if you knew it would only take you 6 MONTHS LONGER to train your baby than it does to train your dog, and that through your efforts you would avoid changing poopie diapers (pretty much ever – Greer hasn’t had poopie diapers on a regular basis at any point except the few weeks when she needed to go after her naps and couldn’t get out of her crib – age 20 months or thereabouts. The same thing happened with all the kids, but more on that some other time), then wouldn’t you want to at least give it a shot? Another difficult transition happens around age two when we need to start having the baby wear pants on a regular basis. It took a while to get Greer to realize she needed to pull down her panties when she needed to go potty, but she would still go consistently in the potty if she was naked. Greer, of course, still has occasional accidents, but she’s only 2 1/2. I can tell you from the experience we had with Liesl, our third baby, that changing toddler poopie diapers is just plain gross. Doing it until the baby is three and later stinks, quite literally. You don’t have to do it! There is another way!
I remember veteran mothers saying somewhat discouraging things to me when I was potty training Patience as an infant about how hard it would be to keep it up with further babies. AND THEY WERE RIGHT. When you have baby after baby after baby, juggling everything and spending time pottying a baby can be difficult. Once I had babies 4, 5, and 6, though, I have had a bit of help here and there (older kids – not that old, but old enough to stay in one place to play and get the phone if it rings, etc, mother’s helpers, my husband and parents who are used to the potty thing now) which has made it possible once again, to my great pleasure, to potty train mybabies. I am SO HAPPY to have been able to return to infant potty training. It makes such a difference in our lives. And the TIME it takes for me to sit with little baby while he goes potty — I NEED IT!! I need to sit still longer than I do, more frequently than I would otherwise, and being required to hold the baby on the potty makes me do that.
So here are my pointers generally speaking: Just do it! Do it as often as you are able for as long as you are able. Enlist others to help. Keep the baby naked whenever possible. Keep potties everywhere (we have two little potties upstairs and two downstairs, and I still feel like I want another one for the van) so you’re more likely to do it. Celebrate every success! (I guarantee anyone who helps you out and gets a baby to poop on the potty will forever remember it!)
Don’t forget: I’m just like you. I’m not a back-to-nature, living off the land and off the grid, supermom. I live in a normal house. I have six normal, active, crazy, fun kids. I buy disposable diapers. I even use diapers on the infant I’m potty training. I put a diaper on the toddler most days when I leave the house. We are NORMAL people who LOVE what infant potty training has done for our family. If we can do it, so can you! Let me know if you try it out and how it goes for you!!