Life as we know it

Our family adventures


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How many phones does a toddler need?

We had our big Thanksgiving dinner yesterday at my parents’ house. Allie had lots of fun running around and playing with her aunts, uncles and cousins.

Almost everyone was there. And everyone had some type of techology along with them… phones, ipods, ipads… well, the phones were Allie’s favorite!

And look how many phones she got? In addition to two in her hand, notice the one on the floor!

So just how many phones does a toddler really need?
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Playing with blocks

One of Allie’s favorite activites is playing with blocks. She has a few different sets. She got this big set of nice wooden blocks for her birthday. Sometimes she just dumps them out and goes to play with something else. But most of the time she’ll sit there for awhile playing. She doesn’t build much though. Whenever Mama or Dada start building towers from the blocks, she always knocks them over. She’s learning her shapes because the lid for this block set is a shape sorter and she also got another set of shape sorter blocks for her birthday as well. She’s getting really good at matching! These blocks are also good for another thing: Learning to pick up toys! The blocks make a big mess, but Allie’s getting really good about helping when we all work together to pick up her toys. She’s learning so much these days.


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I miss running

I’m feeling kind of whiny this afternoon.

This is my sort of race report from the Berbee Derby: http://thedursopack.blogspot.com/2011/11/chilly-start-to-turkey-day.html. It was a nice family activity in spite of the biting wind. And the food afterward was good!

I’m working on the physical therapy. I don’t know if my ankle is just healing by itself or the physical therapy is accelerating that, but my ankle is feeling stronger every day. I’m really missing running. Doug and Allie didn’t have to work today, but I did. So since I only had to get myself to work today I felt obligated to get up and go to the gym too. But I wasn’t feeling it. I unenthusiastically did some bike and some elliptical. I’d really like to run, but I’m going to follow the physical therapist’s directions. I’d like to swim this weekend because that would break up the monotony of elliptical and biking. I do really like to swim, but it just takes too long to swim before or after work during the week.

Its been almost a month. This got old a week ago.


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Have we made it?

Almost three years ago I was laid off from my job as a copy editor at the Wisconsin State Journal. It was a job I loved, though maybe I never really appreciated it until it was too late. Not everyone can say they worked in a career they loved. But things changed and I was let go from the newspaper. I decided right away there wasn’t much, if any reason to pursue another newspaper job. We didn’t want to move and while there are other media outlets in Madison, who knows if they would have the same fate?

I was unemployed a full year. Eleven months into my unemployment I had a job interview at the state Department of Workforce Development in Unemployment Insurance. I wasn’t even that sure what the job was. It was a job I’d applied for one week in order to fulfill my two required applications for that week. The interview was on my birthday (Dec. 8). I left it sad and frustrated because I didn’t think I did too well and was wondering if I’d find a new job.

Well, I got the job. I started on Jan. 19, one year to the day that I was laid off. The in the fact that I became employed in unemployment insurance and started on the anniversary of my layoff was not lost on me. I think of it often.

This year on my birthday, I will still be working in unemployment insurance, but in a new unit! Since late August I’ve been interviewing and waiting and I’ve finally obtained a new position and advanced my career in unemployment. It is still a project position… I’ll be working in tax collections as an entry level collection specialist. They were going to hire four permanents, but then someone said they couldn’t. While this is still a project, its set to go almost three years to July 2014. And I think there is a lot of opportunity for advancement in this work, including getting hired permanent whenever they can hire permanents.

Project or not, I’m thrilled! There’s a nice raise included and I think it will be interesting work. I question “have we made it?” because I think this new position makes it a lot more likely that I’ve found my new career path… putting us one stop closer to the new normal. Three years ago I was in the midst of just trying to find some kind of job. I needed to get paid. I had no idea what I watned to do for the rest of my life. I took the CNA class thinking I’d like to get started on a nursing career path and that didn’t pan out. I started the job I have now and was still puzzling over what I’d do for the rest of my life. But now I’m feeling a lot more settled. I’m feeling a lot more confident that I’m set. Thats a nice feeling.

I’m nervous about the job itself though. I’ve never done any kind of work like this before. I suppose I wonder how I got the job. But I think I will enjoy this work. I’ll be collecting on employers who don’t pay their unemployment taxes. It sounds intimidating but also fulfilling. I’m really looking forward to it.

I have plenty to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving day for sure. I have a great family. I have a great house. We can live a pretty comfortable lifestyle. Even though I’m dealing with my sprained ankle, I can run (eventually) and work out. I have my health. And now I have my career.


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Chilly (but fun) start to turkey day

The forecast for Thanksgiving morning looked perfect for a family walk with thousands of our closest friends at the Berbee Derby. Originally Mama was going to run the 10K with Uncle Jacob. But then Mama sprained her ankle three weeks ago and still hasn’t recovered.

So I was going to walk the 5K. Mama, Dada and Allie were all going to walk together. Aunt Jocie was going to walk with us. Grandma and Grandpa Swanson and Aunt Jeni were going to watch us. The only problem was that it was too cold!

Ready to go mix some pancakes! I think she looks so grown up when her hair is up!

This race is huge. It had total of close to 5,500 runners in the 5K and 10K. Thats not counting the walkers. We left the house later than we did last year and ended up parking pretty far away. We walked a good distance in getting the the race staging area and then getting back to where the 5K would start! The temp was in the low 40s but it was really windy.

I registered with the Team in Training team which got us a warm place to wait for the race to start. We got there in time for the team photo!

I was surprised Allie kept her hat and her mittens on. She even seemed to like them.

The 10K started at 9. We walked out in time to hear the start so Jacob had to run off to get on the course. Then we started the long trek to the area where the 5K walkers were lining up. I think we walked a 5K to get there. They changed the 5K course this year but I wasn’t impressed with the way it was all staged. Its in this research park area thats like a prairie restoration-type set up. Its really pretty but between all the vegetation and the barricades and equipment, there wasn’t room for all these thousands of people to walk.

 But we eventually made it and stopped to take a few pictures.

Lots of people dressed up in Thanksgiving-themed costumes.

Unfortunately it took awhile to get to the start of the walk. The 5K walk started at 9:15. The walk didn’t finally start until after 9:30. We were out waiting for so long and Allie decided she wanted to walk. Then she decided she didn’t want her blanket or to wear her hat or mittens. Then she wanted to get out of the stroller to walk. By the time we were starting she was crying and we stopped almost right after we actually got to the starting line to try and re-bundle her. She was so grouchy and we decided to skip the walk and head over to wait for Jacob to finish. It took so long for the walk to start that 10K runners were already finishing. But Allie was so cold and miserable that Dada and Aunt Jeni took her back to the car and went home.

I stayed with Mom and Jocelyn to wait for Jacob. Paul headed back to their car. I enjoyed seeing the costumed runners and snapped a few pictures.

I was sad I wasn’t running, of course. And the longer we were standing there, the colder my feet got. I think we’ll skip the Berbee Derby next year, but I’m not doing the Berbee Derby again unless I’m running the 10K. Or at least until Allie is a lot older and more patient with waiting. It just takes too long if you’re not in the first race!

There’s Jacob booking it to the finish. He hadn’t trained much (or at all?) and had to stop to walk a few times. We both ran this race last year and I remember being ticked that there was that big hill at the end. He apparently forgot about it and was ticked all over again. We probably would have been running about the same pace if I had been able to run. He finished well though!

After he was done we started the cold walk to the car. It took awhile to get home. But once we got home we had some tasty hot coffee and a great lunch of ham sandwiches, chips and all sorts of other fixings. We’ll have our big family dinner Saturday!

In hindsight, Allie probably shouldn’t have come to the race. But I thought it was warmer than that! We may wait a few years before trying the Berbee Derby again. It was a fun time at the race though and a fun day with family. And we still got in plenty of walking even though we didn’t walk the 5K!


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The Berbee Derby just isn’t my race

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which means Berbee Derby time. I like this race, but maybe its just not the race for me. I won’t be running tomorrow. That means that out of the three Berbee Derbies I’ve registered for, I’ve only actually run one. Thats not really a great success rate! I registered in 2008 and then was benched by my pelvic stress fracture. I ran the 10K last year. This year I signed up about four days before spraining my ankle! I will be walking the 5K tomorrow, but that’s totally not the same as running it!

I had my first physical therapy appointment yesterday. It was what I expected. I was glad to find out my therapist doesn’t think I have any problem in my foot other than the sprained ankle. I’d been concerned about some other pain in my ankle and achilles, but he said thats all related to the sprain and will get better.

So it was the usual assessment and then setting the exercises to increase the range of motion. I actually have a pretty limited range of motion in general (even though all my other joints are hyper mobile). So I’m going to do the stretches to increase that. I have some biomechanic issues that make me more prone to spraining ankles that we’re going to address too. Apparently when I stand my feet kind of point/slant inward, which I can add to the list of the reasons I’m prone to spraining ankles. I’m knock-kneed, which has to do with the strength of my hips/buttocks. At least thats how I remember him explaining it to me. So I have some exercises to start with my hips.

The other outcome is that I’m strongly advised to not even attempt running for at least the next two weeks. I’m also advised to cut down on instensity and weight-bearing workouts. Thats a bit disappointing, but not surprising. There still is plenty I can do though, just not as much as I want. So yeah, I’m disappointed, but I’m also glad there’s nothing worse going on!


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There’s a tree in our living room!

We like to have our Durso pack Thanksgiving dinner and put up our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. But this year the big family Thanksgiving dinner is the Saturday after. So this weekend we decided to do it a few days early. I made a pumpkin pie, roasted a turkey breast and made homemade stuffing for the first time! The dinner was a smashing success. I should have taken a few pictures of Allie eating her pie! She’s definitely developing a sweet tooth!

We didn’t put up the tree last year. We had our big Thanksgiving the weekend after and then it was the following week Doug and I went to San Francisco and Sacramento. By the time we got back December was half over and it didn’t seem worth it to spend the time, especially considering we didn’t know how Allie would react to it or if she would mess with it.

But we put it up this year, and Allie helped! Dada brought the box up and had the bright idea to have Allie help him sort the branches. This worked well… for about 5 minutes. Then she just threw them around.

So rather than going bottom to top, Dada just took the branches she gave him and put them wherever they belonged. Allie was a very good helper.

Once there were more branches on the tree, Dad moved it into the corner before it got too heavy.

Then Allie decided it was time to clean up and she started putting the branches back in the box!

It was a long process. We always have grand illusions of putting the Christmas tree up and getting it all decorated in the same day. It never happens. We got the tree put together and waited until Sunday to do anymore work on it. Besides, by the time the tree was together, it was time to eat!

So Sunday morning Dada brought up the two gray tubs from the basement that have the Christmas decorations. Since we didn’t put the tree up last year, the tubs were on the bottom of a big pile of other stuff stored downstairs. I’ve been needing to clean and organize the basement and that need is even more urgent now!

But on to the task at hand. Dada brought the tubs upstairs and Allie started working on opening them. Turns out the tubs are Allie-proof, at least for right now. There’s not a whole lot left in this house that is Allie-proof!

She was quite fascinated with the bag that held the door hanger and the wreath.

After putting up the wreath, the big test ensued… the lights! We had actually bought a couple new strings two years ago when our old ones died. Those lights worked and I thought we were in the clear, but the star didn’t work! Well we need to have a star! So Dada went to the store to get a star and he ended up getting some new lights too.

Dada and Mama put up the star, lights and garland and Allie helped with this part too! She held to extra lights and garland and had fun running around in delight at what was going on around her. It was so adorable to see. No pictures of this part though, as we were all participating!

We didn’t really care for the star at first (it was the most OK one that Dada decided was in our budget, that stuff’s expensive!), but once it was all put together, we decided it looks really nice!

See for yourself! My camera when it flashes doesn’t show that the lights are even on. I can’t turn the flash off because the pictures turn out blurry. So the picture doesn’t do it justice, but it gives a decent representation! As you can see, we didn’t quite make it to the ornament phase. So far Allie hasn’t messed with the tree much and usually stops when we ask her to. I don’t know how she will be once the ornaments are on though.

Allie is so cute. Every time she comes downstairs or in the house she shrieks with delight at the tree in our living room! I can’t wait to share more Christmas fun with her!