Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A New Experience: Saving Lives, One Platelet at a Time

I've been a regular blood donor since I was 17. Pretty hardcore about it, for a while there - I have multiple gallon pins, a few Hoxworth water bottles, blood donor patches, a donor hoodie, and a wardrobe of college blood drive t-shirts. Real hardcore.

Then I got pregnant, and stopped giving blood for obvious reasons. Then I was breastfeeding, and too paranoid to risk taking the hit to my supply. Then I just got out of the habit. I gave when it was convenient, at a few mobile blood drives here and there, but then I started running and became kind of selfish - I didn't want to get lightheaded and feel run-down. In my defense, I've been anemic for 15+ years and losing those red blood cells has always affected me more than most people. But that's not a good enough excuse. Even my Running Buddy puts me to shame with her donation frequency. It's not like I'm going to win any medals, or anything - what's some extra time on the clock?

And then, two weeks ago, I got an email from The Running Spot talking about the big citywide blood drive and specifically mentioning that donating platelets is a good option for athletes. I did my own side research, and it's true! Not only does it leave your red blood cells alone, but the matter that they take from you during a platelet donation regenerates within hours, rather than weeks. So that's all well and good, but donating platelets is SCARY! I'm not going to lie, I was TERRIFIED. Even after donating a million pints of blood, I still got anxious every time. The idea of donating platelets where they're not just taking stuff from one arm, but then also GIVING IT BACK in the other, just makes me shudder. Cue more research, where I learned that they can now do it using only one of your arms and that the needle is actually smaller than the one that they use for whole blood donations. So I decided to go for it.

Am I the only one who finds the graphic/slogan combination a little creepy looking?

In case you're not familiar with platelets and platelet donation, here's a quick summary:

During platelet donation, a small portion of blood (about 1/4 pint at a time), is drawn from your arm and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine. The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to you.

A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for a full therapeutic dose for a patient in need. In fact, some platelet donations yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic doses. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose.

Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems. A platelet dose from a single donor reduces the patient’s exposure to multiple donors and is therefore preferred by many physicians.

I was nervous, nervous, nervous driving down to the big city-wide blood drive. I was shaking like a leaf and side-eying the giant centrifuge machine as I climbed into the chair. Those things are gigantic! The technician staffing the apheresis area, George, was really nice and helpful. He showed me all of the equipment and explained how everything worked. I got a very detailed rundown of exactly what to expect, how long it would take, and what it would feel like. He set up the machine, hooked up the bag, and started the process, and then went the extra mile by entertaining me for the next 90 minutes while we waited for the collection to finish. He let me watch the monitors so that I could see what was going on and showed me how cool it looked when the platelets got sucked up into the plasma bag - it was really neat, all swirly like mixing oil and vinegar.

I'm not trying to say that it was all puppy dogs and rainbows. It took a while - 90 minutes is a long time - the first time is the longest because the machine isn't calibrated specifically to your counts, but even after that it's still a time commitment. The feeling of having the red cells and saline put back in was pretty bizarre - not painful, just a little uncomfortable until you got used to it. The worst part was probably the mouth tingles - the anti-coagulant they use in the return solution binds with calcium to do its job, so it makes your mouth and nose feel tingly after a while (thanks again to George for the technical explanations!). They had a giant supply of tums on hand to combat the ickiness, but it was still rather uncomfortable.

When all is said and done, it wasn't that bad, I was really glad I had decided to give it a try, and I'm definitely planning to go back and do it again. You can go every three weeks, although if they test your cells and find that you're an exact match for a patient in the database, they can ask if you'll do it more often. The women in the chair next to me (who happened to be the kids programming director for the Flying Pig!) went every day for a week when they found that she was a match for a leukemia patient.

So think about it. Even if platelets isn't up your alley, think about giving whole blood. See? I'm even smiling! I even got a Flying Pig duffel bag and a $10 gift card to the Running Spot. Can't beat that!

Monday, August 29, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge Week 16 - A Song from the Year you were Born

While trying to figure out a good song for this week, I scrolled through the list of the top 100 hits of 1981. So many options. What to choose, what to choose? Lots of Blondie in the top 100 songs of 1981, but not my absolute favorite, which was Sunday Girl... "Celebration" by Kool & The Gang is an all-time classic, but I think my mom likes it more than I do, so that's out... Rod Stewart? He was my first concert way back in the day, but "Passion" isn't his best work... The Jersey Girl in me is partial to Springsteen, but he's already gotten a few mentions here, and I'm sure there will be more to come... I do love rocking out to "Hit me with Your Best Shot," but that can't be the best.

And then there it was, rolling in at number 65 - "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen, the all-time gods of rock.

My siblings and I LOVED this song. Never mind that it was old by the time we heard it. Auntie Ann had a Queen tape in her car and she pretty much always had it on. My aunts LOVED Queen - my mom even named her dog Freddie after Mr. Mercury himself. We would beg and beg and beg her to play "Another One Bites the Dust." Of course she always did, and never let on that she might be sick and tired of hearing the same song over and over. I still get a little rush of excitement when I hear the opening beat. So many great Queen songs, but this one will always have a special place in my heart.

Ah, good times. 30 years ago. Wow.

When were you born? Share, if you dare!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Fragments

FF is brought to you by Mrs4444!

Mommy's Idea

Looks like my boy is single again!

Too bad I'm happily married. 6 years, today, actually!

Ahhh, 10 years ago.

Evidence that my husband is the bomb dot com: Only a really great husband would get the giant ladder out of the garage at midnight to put a new batter in the beeping smoke detector.

Seriously, why do those things only start to die at night?

I'm jumping on the bandwagon and starting my own "30 While 30" list - 30 things that I want to do or accomplish in the next year. Of course, I'll be posting the list - how else will I have any accountability?

I can not be trusted with a bag of croutons.

Did you know that I have a magic blog? True story. Minutes after I posted about my Twilight dilemma, an epub of book four mysteriously appeared in my email box, thanks to a reader I didn't know I have. I'm now officially done with Twilight (well, the books, anyway). I wonder if that trick would work with cookies....

Last night I went to my first-ever NFL game. Granted, it was only pre-season, and it was only the Bungles, but it was fun, anyway.

The field looks so much smaller in person.

I drove home late-ish at night, and as I got closer to my town I realized that I had a decision to make - take the slightly shorter route home that passes by the creepy Milford cemetery, or drive a little bit out of the way to bypass the possibility of a zombie sighting. Can you guess which way I went?

I've decided to bring back my weekly song challenge. It was fun for me, and I like talking about myself and telling stories, so I'm doing it, regardless of who else does or does not play along. Monday's theme will be "A Song from the Year you were Born," to kick off my last week in my 20s.

I bought a new kind of gum last week and just noticed that it's vitamin-fortified. Maybe that's why it tastes so weird.

Euchre Night tomorrow! I'm making dessert, as usual. I'm planning to make these Cookie Dough Brownies. Husband thinks they look like sweetness overkill, but Jen is an engineer and she wouldn't design a bad dessert. I'll let you know how they turn out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

See Bean Run

Well, I've decided to go ahead and share the new blog. It's still not quite finished, I don't have the design the way I want it yet, and there's no picture, the page layout isn't the best, and the About Me page is lacking, but I'm tired of hiding it and waiting until I have time to get it right.

See Bean Run

I even have a new post up over there - a recap of the Little Miami Half Marathon that I ran on Sunday. New PR and a sub-2-hour race make me a happy Bean :)

Monday, August 22, 2011


I was an obnoxious little overachiever when I was little. We're talking straight A's, gifted & talented, teacher's pet every year, perfect attendance, cry-when-you-miss-a-word-on-a-spelling-test bratty little overachiever. Then came third grade, and with third grade, came the addition of a new subject to our report cards - Penmanship. Finally, Miss Goody-Two Shoes had met her match. That December, I brought home my first ever C. I cried. When I found out that Penmanship grades weren't counted for the High Honor Roll program I breathed a sigh of relief - the fact that I couldn't write legibly to save my life wasn't going to prevent me from proudly slapping the "Proud Parent of a Franklin School Honor Student!" bumper sticker onto our car (the black chevy eurosport that we lovingly referred to as the POS). But damn, those C's haunted me all through my entire elementary school career. I was glad to see them gone in junior high.

My crappy penmanship is probably just another example of how uncoordinated I was am. When I say it was bad, I'm not exaggerating. I say I got C's, but that was really the lowest grade possible. They weren't allowed to give D's or F's for penmanship. I'm sure my writing equated to F-quality.

We started learning how to write in cursive in the second grade. Well, I did, anyway. My parents briefly enrolled us in Catholic School after I outgrew my beloved Montessori program. "Briefly" being a single year, so that I could make First Communion and get an official start to my Catholicism. Because we all know how well that worked out. After that, we transferred to our local public school, where they were a year behind in everything, including Penmanship. To this day, I curse my mother for not letting me just skip a grade. Social skills obviously weren't meant to be for me, either.

At first, I was really excited to learn how to write in cursive. I had always admired my mom's handwriting - the perfect, looping letters all connected together so nicely. I blamed my bad penmanship on the fact that it was just print letters - when I learned to write in cursive, my letters would be as pretty as my mom's.

So imagine my surprise when I put pen to paper and everything came out looking like this:

Terrible, indeed! It was definitely the worst in the class. To make matters worse, my 3rd grade BFF had perfect handwriting, wide and looping and swirling and neat and pretty. She even used to add a little smiley face after her name. My third grade teacher once sat me down and put my spelling test right next to her's so that we could compare the penmanship. She told me that my J's should look like Jackie's J's. I sat at my desk for an hour, trying to make my J's the same way. I didn't come anywhere close. I felt better because Jackie had missed some words on the spelling test and I hadn't (Yes, I was THAT GIRL).

Today, I've pretty much given up cursive writing altogether. My penmanship is much better, when I'm trying, but still pretty abysmal, generally speaking. And it's small.

There are rumblings that schools are going to be doing away with Penmanship. Indiana and Hawaii already have. Of course, people are staking out camps on both sides of the fence - there are arguments that penmanship - cursive writing, in particular, just isn't that important. Computers are the way of the future, and who cares if a person can write pretty letters, because no one's really going to see them, anyway. The other side argues that cursive writing and penmanship are expressions of creativity and individuality (and handwriting analysis would back those claims up), and schools should continue to teach and grade on it because it "helps train their mind, the hand, their attention to detail, it stimulates the brain...."

I can't decide. On one hand, I do think that hand writing is an important component of culture, and I get the idea that being able to write quickly is important because it helps your thoughts to develop. On the other, I will never forget being standing at the chalkboard writing cursive letters over and over and over again, because they were just never up to par. Did you have a love or a hate relationship with your pen and paper? Do you still write in cursive?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Five for Five

Is it too much to ask to get a dry race one of these days? And 100% humidity? AYFKM?

I'll be running the Little Miami Half Marathon on Sunday. I was really hoping to PR and break the 2 hour mark, but I don't know how possible that is with these conditions. Until today, the forecast was bone dry and cooler. Look at mother nature, trying to rain on my parade. Trifling* bitch.

I'm making a few more changes to my running and fitness blog and will grace you all with the official URL next week, so you won't have to slog through posts about running if you prefer posts about beer and sitting on the couch. I will also be fully recovered from vacation and back to normal blogging, I promise. I just need a day to sleep in.

*I don't even know what "trifling" means, but I heard my teenage cousin say it the other day, so I'm guessing it's something nasty

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baby Got Back

This probably belongs on my soon-to-be-public fitness blog, but I loved it so much that it's going here, too.

Shake that healthy butt!

I take my cues from Sir Mix-A-Lot - I'm definitely "little in the middle but I got much back" :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I'm back in the O-H after four days visiting family back east. It was a lovely time, but now I'm tired and kicking myself for not taking another day off to recover. 10 hours in the car with a three-year-old is not a relaxing way to spend a day.

There are some really ugly clothes in the stores these days.

Reeeeeeeeeeeeally ugly.

(That's my sister, not me.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lisleman's Leftover Laughs

I can’t blog

My blogging buddy Lisleman has an every-so-often post that he's calling "Lisleman's Leftover Laughs." The idea is that you go back through your old posts (or write a new one, if you're so inclined) and give everyone something to laugh about. We can all use a little happiness, right?

I need them today, since I decided to squeeze in my 20 mile training run before work this morning so that I didn't have to worry about getting it in on vacation. In hindsight, that wasn't the best idea. My couch sounds really good right now.

My contribution to the party is my post about 25 Horribly Sexist Vintage Ads . I remember reading them like it was just yesterday, not sure whether to laugh or cry. I decided on laughing, and hoping that nothing like that ever tried to make a resurgence.

(although, I'm convinced that's why I only have nephews - 6 boys to zero girls. but that's a story for a different day)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm in Too Deep

Last Thursday, I found the draft of "Midnight Sun" online, which is Twilight Book 1 all over again, but from Edward's perspective. I read it in every spare second I could find, which includes the two minutes while I brush my teeth and the five minutes I spend "in the bathroom" after I get home from work (what, like you've never gone in there and locked the door behind you just for a few minutes of peace and quiet?). It was unfinished and unedited, and she can't seem to get through a single paragraph without using the word "chagrin," but I was still unable to put it down.

Saturday morning, I downloaded Twilight Book 3 from the e-library in preparation for Thursday's road trip. I kept telling myself that I absolutely would NOT read it until we got in the car. It didn't last past Sunday night.

Now I'm stressing out because the waiting list for the e-book of Twilight Book 4 is long, and I won't have it in time for the road trip. I've requested an actual paper copy from the county library (how quaint!), and the status just tells me that it's "In Transit." I've been obsessively refreshing the page, waiting to see the "Available!" message pop up, but nothing, so far. I only have another 30 hours before it will be too late!

What has happened to meeeeeeeeeeee??!!?!?!?!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Recipe: Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting

I love chocolate. I love cupcakes. I LOVE chocolate cupcakes. Naturally, Charlie does, too, so that's what I decided to make him for his birthday. Not just any cupcakes, though - these were going to be Star Wars cupcakes, thanks to the super cool cupcake stencils that recently showed up on the shelf at Williams-Sonoma.

I needed a relatively simple recipe, since I had to make them on a Tuesday night and decorate them on a Wednesday night so that Charlie could bring them to school on Thursday. I consulted my favorite baking blog, Beantown Baker, and found these Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes. And then I read the recipe wrong, and realized that I didn't have all of the ingredients, after all, so I went back to the basics, and used this Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe from Hershey. I still used Beantown's Ganache recipe (at the bottom of the cupcake link), because it was exactly what I was looking for - spreadable, but hard-drying. Perfect for cupcake stencils. And perfect for having lots of tasty chocolate ganache left over. That's what spoons are for!

I made the cupcakes one night, frosted them the next, and let them sit in the fridge until the ganache had set and hardened. The stencils were super easy - put one on top of the cupcake and then dust powdered sugar on top. I was pretty happy with the final product. Charlie was, too :)

Unfortunately, the ganache started to melt again and the sugar became runny once they had been outside, but that was my fault because it was 90 degrees out and I should have kept them in a cooler. Lesson learned!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I Have a THREE Year Old

Charlie turned 3 on Saturday. THREE! Can you believe it? I really can't. Three years since I spent 12 hours howling in pain, puking in the elevator, and screaming for the epidural. I didn't make a very good pregnant lady.

I know that very little growing happened between bedtime August 7th and morning on August 8th, but all that I can think when I look at him now is "Little boy!"

I think he had a pretty great birthday. It started out with a free donut from the ladies at Dunkin, who fawned all over him and told him that they could remember back before he was even born.

We did some riding on his new bike, a birthday present from Grandpa Buddy...

...We sang with the birthday turtle...

... We did some swimming with his friends for a mini birthday party...

...And ate some super cool Star Wars cupcakes...

... All that, and it's not even over yet! We're heading off to Jersey later this week for a triple birthday extravaganza, including celebrations for Charlie's big 3, my bigger 3-0, and the BIG 5-0 for my Aunt Jeanne. Can't freaking wait!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Series of Confessions, Part 2 - Where I Confess About my Morning Routine

So, remember how I went on that great vacation to Colorado? Wow, it feels like a long time ago. It was over a month ago. 38 days since we flew back to the O H, to be exact.

Well, that's about how long it's been since I've blow-dried my hair. Or was until Monday, that is. 33 days of hastily tied ponytails at 6:40 6:45 6:50 in the morning when I'm rushing out the door. Make it the full 38 days since I've managed to put makeup on, because today is the first day since vacation that I've forced myself to do it.

My routine has disappeared. My long-stuck-to, rigid but relaxing routine of waking up at 5:20, taking a leisurely shower, reading the news, listening to Mike & Mike while I get ready, packing the lunches put together the night before, and then getting Charlie ready for the day, has disappeared. In it's place, I'm too tired unmotivated to make lunches at 9:30 at night after we're done exercising. I prefer to sit on the couch with a beer and read very important academic works classic literature running magazines Twilight. I get that nasty adrenaline surge after a good workout, so we sit up until 10:30/11:00 and then start getting ready for bed. I'm actually asleep somewhere around midnight, and then my alarm goes off at 5:10, when I start 54 minutes of snooze-button mashing. I finally force myself out of bed at 6:04 (why is the snooze 9 minutes? that's an awfully odd length of time), then rush in and out of the shower, throw on the closest outfit I can find, and go downstairs to throw some food in a bag while Husband Charlie gets Toddler Charlie ready for school.

Every morning, I leave my house just a little bit later.

I just can't figure out what happened. Where did my motivation go? I hope to find it again, sometime.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A New Blog

Just to let all three of my regular readers know, I've decided that I'm going to create a new blog to hold all of my fitness/P90X/food/running related posts. I feel like this blog isn't really the forum where I want to talk about different running shorts and pro/con different styles of shoes or different exercise programs. If it's something that's related to my life on a more global level, I'll certainly post it here, too.

This will still be my primary blog, but I've been feeling like the "me-ness" is getting lost in all of the other stuff I want to post somewhere. Hence the spin-off blog experiment. We'll see how it goes.

Link to follow, for my fitness-oriented peeps.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gonna Party Like, It's My Birthday

But it's not. Not yet, anyway. I've still got a month left in my 20s. Exactly ONE month. Meanwhile, Husband Charlie has been hounding me for birthday present ideas, and I can't think of a single, solitary thing. I guess that's part of the boringness of being an adult - I have a budget, and I have income, so if there's something I want, I check my budget and then either buy it or decide that I don't really need it. Most of the time I decide that I don't really need it, because I hate spending money.

I don't need books (ebooks or paper), I've got a library for that.

I don't want clothes, that's so boring.

I don't want jewelry, I rarely wear the stuff I have.

I don't need anything new and exciting for my camera.

So far all I've got is two t-shirts:

but I don't think Charlie will go for that.

He also thinks running shorts are too boring for a birthday present.

Maybe this - it's been a while since I've gotten a new Yankees shirt.

I briefly considered doing a boudoir photo shoot, but I've been feeling kind of fluffy lately.

I even tried the whole "I don't need a present, let's just go somewhere good for dinner," but that's not working, either, because Charlie thinks 30 is a big deal. Easy for him to say, he's only going to be 29.

There's a pretty good story behind that one.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Series of Confessions, Part 1 - Where I Confess that I'm Reading Twilight

"Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."
— Stephen King

I came across this quote in all of the Harry Potter mania that went on last month. Having never read Twilight, and, really, having never had any desire to read Twilight, I found it incredibly funny.

I was all

But then we went to see Harry Potter, and I saw the preview for the new Twilight movie (Breaking Dawn? Eclipse? one of those). The teenage girls in the crowd started squealing with delight. What was it about these stories that these girls found so compelling? I decided that it was time to find out.

I borrowed the first book from the library's eBook collection. I told no one. Not even Charlie - he asked me what I was reading, and I just blushed furiously and changed the subject. I texted my BFF to confess my sin while I brushed my teeth before bed. Thankfully, she didn't judge me harshly, if only because she's read them, too. I ended up staying up all night to finish it, cramped up in the corner of my room on the floor - I just couldn't put it down. I can't really figure out why, either - it's not even a good book! It's not well-written, incredibly verbose, and there is very little actual plot. The characters are completely one-dimensional.

It's absolutely not something I would want my teenage daughter reading - it's unbelievable how co-dependent and unhealthy the Bella/Edward relationship is. Kind of reminds me of how I felt when I was a stupid teenager and got dumped by my first real boyfriend. Except I didn't tailspin into a ridiculous year-long depression where I didn't talk to anyone until he came back. And, oh yeah, he didn't come back. Totally unrealistic, and just setting young girls up for serious disappointment. And what kind of role model is Bella? What kind of heroine? She's weak, she's needy, and she's completely dependent on Edward for life satisfaction. Come on, lady! Pick yourself off and dust yourself off! Suck it up! Losing your boyfriend at 17 is NOT the end of the world!

But maybe that's why the 20- and 30-something girls like it so much? Maybe it fills a void for them? Allows them to hold out hope that all ordinary Bellas out there will one day have their Edwards?

And I do totally get the whole idea of reading for enjoyment, and reading just for the sake of reading, but there is so little actual substance to these books, and so many moments of eye-rolling and gagging (every time Edward picks up Bella to carry her somewhere, a little piece of me dies - she's not a puppy, for crying out loud)...

...but I can't stop reading. I just downloaded book 3 last night, and I'm sure the movies are somewhere in my future.... Please don't judge me too harshly.

Especially since I'm also going to say that Robert Pattison is just not very attractive as Edward. I don't get what all the fuss is about.


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