The Treadmill

It occurred to me the other day when posting the story about my pea soup years that I hadn’t written since the end of January. So, for the three of you who have been wondering about the hiatus here’s the scoop.

Last year Matthew and I started walking on a treadmill. Then summer and vacation took over followed by fall and excuses, etc. so the treadmill stood there collecting dust. After the holidays we (and that’s the empirical ‘we’) decided to start again and get back in shape. We found that 30 minutes a day could work neatly into our schedule and we were set.

Set, that is until the day I talked to my friend Georgann. Georgann has been my inspiration, she is one of these walkers who goes out rain or shine and gets her exercise. We were sitting there talking about walking, I smiling smugly to myself when she pulled out her FitBit which show she had logged in six miles that day.

SIX MILES?

The one and a half mile stretch that Matthew and I were so proud of suddenly seemed pretty miniscule, no wonder we were barely breaking a sweat. So, I decided to step it up a notch. Well, yeah. That didn’t work. In fact, this is what I looked like:

I even thought the treadmill was broken because it kept speeding up but the repairman assured me that the problem was all me. I was not keeping up and dragging the track down and every so often it self-corrected. Through extreme perseverance we ever so slowly improved.  Today some people see us walking on the treadmill now and wistfully mention  they would like to keep up our pace… I remind them we didn’t start on high speed.

But this was the point where our exercise began to interfere with, well, everything else. It took time to find the time in each day. Something had to give…and it was me. Instead of sitting in bed leisurely drinking coffee I had to get up and get going so that I could be done in order for Matthew to hop on for his turn at precisely 8 o’clock. It has to be a 8 o’clock because that’s when Daniel Boone is on and that’s a requisite. Initially, we were so tired that getting our exercise in was the highlight of our day…sheesh, we were worn out.

Finally, after almost six months we’re finally getting there. We have significantly increased our speed, distance and endurance.

Matthew is doing very well with his walking. I was worried because he has a particular gait reflective of his cerebral palsy diagnosis and tight, tight calf muscles. But as my mom pointed out to me, Matthew looks really good on the treadmill. In fact, now that we are paying attention we realize he is walking better on the treadmill even through the up and down hill routine. I’m hopeful this will translate into more balanced muscle tone in his legs and better walking in general. I also finally realized that instead of blaming Matthew’s droopy, sloppy, ill fitting shorts on worn out elastic or his super heavy wallet (the one stuffed with picture gift cards), the truth is that he was becoming very fit and has lost much of his belly. When we went shopping for new shorts we discovered he went down TWO sizes! TWO! No wonder his pants wouldn’t stay at his waist.

Matthew looking fit!

Matthew looking trim!

On the other hand, my progress is a little slower and my pants still don’t fall off. Hey, I’ll still blame the chemo. So what if it’s been over four years? Okay, okay, maybe it’s harder to lose weight when you become a woman of a certain age… But the important thing is we are becoming healthier and in better shape.

I knew you'd want to see my progress so Matthew took this pic for you!

I knew you’d want to see my progress so Matthew took this pic for you!

So that’s it in a nutshell. This is where we’ve been, the whole spring we’ve been putting on the miles and never leaving the living room.

Is a treadmill the best form of exercise for you? I surely don’t know, but it works for us. It took time for me to be comfortable with Matthew enough so that I didn’t have to stand right next to him. I knew that if he ever fell he would not want to get back on.

After all these miles and we also can share what we like and don’t like about the treadmill, about our shoes, and about how important it is that the treadmill is stationed smack dab in front of the television.  In fact, this treadmill was tucked away in the bedroom where it served as a clothes drape for Bob until we moved it. There’s no two ways about it, mindless TV viewing helps the time go by. We’ve decided this exercise is important enough that we even picked up a reconditioned model for our time in the mountains. You are welcome ask questions or even to come by and try out our treadmill, just don’t come when Daniel Boone is on.

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Just Another Day

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This week Matthew decided he should mow the lawn. Will wonders never cease?

Sometimes we parents with special needs children go along and don’t realize how different our lives are. I was reminded recently when Rebecca mentioned to some of her friends that she was caring for a special needs girl. She told her fellow students that working as a caregiver was a very good part time job that she could continue to do while in med school and recommended it for those looking for work. But they were hesitant; they had never been around someone with special needs; they didn’t know if they could do the job. Rebecca was surprised but that’s because being around someone with different needs has always been part of her life.

So today I am sharing just a couple incidents that might help you better understand the uniqueness of life at our house.

The M  O  V  I  E

Everybody likes to go to the movies. Right? So does Matthew. But with two distinct differences. The first, you might expect because he has difficulty sharing emotions, is that we do not go to movies that are too intense. Poor Matthew gets so caught up in the movie that if the good guy’s life seems in peril Matthew feels it deep in his soul and doesn’t know how to handle the fear and worry. We always try to have someone preview the movie first. The second thing is actually pretty crazy. There are many movies Matthew doesn’t care to see. But when he decides on one, well that’s the one we have to see first. He doesn’t want to hear about another movie, even though he might like it just as much. It’s first things first. Always. Last year he decided he wanted to see the dumb Smurf movie. And that was it. Even though there were many better movies that he would have liked we had to wait for the Smurfs…which didn’t come out until August.

Actions Have Meaning?

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The heretofore unexciting picture of Mont St. Michel

Sometimes when you have a non-verbal child…okay, actually every day…your child does something that catches your eye. You know it has meaning and you just wish you could understand the reason. Here are two examples from our house this week:

Bob and I were sitting at the kitchen table talking about nothing important, Matthew was on his computer and the television was on, maybe Matlock or a commercial. I wasn’t really paying attention. But suddenly, Matthew leaps up from his chair and runs over behind the couch looking directly at the TV. He held a postcard from a steamboat ride we had taken in his hand. He raised his hands up as though he were going to lead the benediction at church and stood there frozen, arms outstretched for nearly a minute. Finally, he pointed the postcard towards the TV, as if to show either the television or maybe Andy Griffith or the boat on the postcard something. And then walked back to his computer as if nothing had happened.

Yesterday, I was walking on the treadmill while Matthew was watching something on TV when a commercial came on. (Commercials are usually his time to find a drink or chips or just generally wander around because they don’t hold his interest.) But this time he jumped up and ran over to the fireplace. He looked up at the photo of Mont St. Michel and raised his hand up toward the sky with finger pointing. Something like a ‘We’re number one’ pose. He stood there again for a few seconds then went and sat back on the couch.

He has never done either of these things. There was a distinct point to his movements but what? We might eventually figure it out. Or not.

Enough for today.  I’ve rambled on enough and we’re all good here now–as long as we don’t mention the m o v i e . . .

Oh, and by the way, if your child talks and communicates with you, good or bad, you are fortunate. Just think of me the next time he gives you the ‘What For?’ business and give him a hug.

Our Great Adventure!

You’re going to WHAT???

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That’s what Mom said when I told her our plans to drive to Alaska. Yes, Alyeska, the greatland, the last frontier. An awe inspiring 3,7000 MILES from here!

I know what you’re thinking, “No, really . . . what are you doing this summer???” And you are right in questioning both our plan. . . and our sanity. But, we’re going.  Not only will this be a grand adventure but it will likely be our last chance for a long vacation with Rebecca as her school schedule really kicks into high gear next summer with rotations.

Something like this.

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In a nutshell, we’re going to drive from Arizona all the way to Alaska and back. We’ve talked about it for years but it’s so far and Bob never can take enough time off of work. Until I figured it out. The kids and I will drive to Seattle and Bob will fly in to meet us then we’ll drive up and back, dropping Bob off at Salt Lake to fly home. Maximize our travel time and it will all be doable. Why didn’t I think of this before?

Oh, and did I say tent?

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We decided we’ll try tenting at least some of the trip. Yes, tenting is new to our family. Other than sleeping in the back yard neither of the kids has had much desire to live the wilderness life, let alone use an outhouse… One of my friends recommended we do a test run. That would be smart, but I don’t think we’ll try. Still, after reading about bears though Bob says if we should encounter one it will be hotels the rest of the way…and price won’t matter.

Okay, so here’s where you come in… if you are in line on our route either via Seattle or the return through Yellowstone  area we want to see you. Just let me know. Also, if you have advice or recommendations we want to hear from you. What’s the best bug spray, bear repellent, leech remover??? I’m not planning to take my snake bite kit but what else will we need?

I did already buy this year’s Milepost (for you non AlCan travelers, this is an annual book with mile by mile details of the road, attractions, lodging etc.) The last time I traveled the road I was six and my biggest memory is not of the AlCan but of crossing into Michigan on the Mackinac Bridge while twisting a comb into my hair effectively snarling my hair so much that Mom had to cut it out (hence my bangs in second grade).

The top picture is Matthew, who quickly claimed the Milepost and apparently has been waiting for just this opportunity as he has been pouring over the book since it arrived. You are probably asking how Matthew will do on the trip. Honestly, I can say, I don’t know. But I think he will adjust. We have traveled far before. But never slept in a tent before. We will all be together and I am certain Matthew will see that all his most important treasures are packed.

So that’s my news for today. Of course, I will take you along with us right here, though to save the house from burglars most of the trip may well be tape delayed. But if you are on the route we hope you will speak up so we can stop for a short visit!

More details soon!