Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sound of Thunder -- thighs that is!

Before & After
I came across an old photo of me after I had Indigo (I made the top). Holy hips! (was I really that big and no one told me, except my sisters oh-so-lovingly - "fatbutt"). Well, times have changed. I lifted weights with my favorite program (Body Electric) for 6 months. I did this because it was easy and I didn't even change out of my everyday clothes. It wasn't a sweaty workout, just a little sphitzing - misting. Then I joined Weight Watchers and gradually lost 15-20 lbs over 6 months. Now I am nearly a Lifetime Member! Woohoo. I still lift weights and exercise consistently. I've found that it is a huge energy boost. Even a little 20 min. work out does that trick that caffeine nor sugar have afforded me. Huge snaps to my friend Nicole Foster, another lifetime member, and employee of weight watchers. I told her to tell me to go. She did, I went and here I am - 12% less of me that is. Yeah Nicole. You can even check our her blog!

Lots has changed since my days being "hippy"! Although back then I walked everywhere (I wasn't eating bon bons, just nice meals and wine...oh how I love to eat)! I feel that building muscle slowly was the key for me. Then blasting the fat away with a modified diet (WW). At any rate, I look much slimmer. Although -- I felt comfortable with my body back then anyways. Here's to all you ladies working hard after having had yo babies. Hang in there and don't be afraid to lift weights. Body electric is on everyday - Channel 20 (WYCC TV) @ 2pm.
Oh, and the best part. My 15 year old neice gave me a pair of her old size 6 jeans this weekend. They fit great and are hip. They will be in high rotation. Thanks Puff (nickname for my neice - she had big, puffy cheeks as a baby)

Painting Plein Air Update

Greetings friends!
I wanted to take a moment to update you on my painting progress as well as show off the work of some new friends of mine. If any of you are interested in painting outside on any given Saturday, please join us; The Plein Air Painters of Chicago.

You can view some of the great paintings of the group at Penny's Noodle Shop on Diversey near Sheffleild. I, personally, don't have any hanging there yet. They are all on display in my kitchen. Mosey on over anytime to the Anstee Galley Gallery - I'll even froth you a cuppacino and sprinkle it with love.

The painting above was done by yours truly at the intersection of Lincoln and Eastwood in Lincoln Square. I was so excited to be on my home turf. Snaps to Stuart Fullerton who let me have a crack at choosing the location. It was a long cold morning and my paints did not freeze. Although what a lonely scene. My pal and fabulous painter, Nancy Albrecht, gave me the advice to lop off the left 1/4 of my painting to make it more interesting. Well, I followed her advice and viola. I think she was right! I glued the lopped off piece to a fancy card and am sending it to her in the mail. The next photos are my favorites of the morning. They all are fabulous (and for sale). But I don't want to bore you all with paintings.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Harassed by a Sneeze

For those of you I've been harassing to view Steve Sneeds' blog "The Sneeze", I do not apologize. It's freaking hilarious! Oh, where to begin. I laugh out loud many times. Yes, he does swear like... well, like a guy. But his insights are spot-on. My favorites are "Steve, Don't eat that", and of course "Tree Brain ". I'm conspiring to get into the band (it's imaginary and they don't play actual music so I've got a shot). No I will not be a groupie of an imaginary band. But either way I'd be so rock n' roll. All this to say, - There! I've officially plugged the sneeze on my blog. If you want to wet your pants later or let slip some gas from frantic laughter, check it out. Of course, fill me in on your favorites so we can laugh together!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Birthday Bombon!

Today I had a, much needed, ladies lunch! Roxanne, Laura Mc –G and I headed out to River West for some fabulous, fresh Mexican food at CafĂ© Bombon. It’s a great little spot cheerfully and creatively decorated. The overhead menu is written on old wooden doors, painted with white and chalkboard paints (clever recycling). Roxanne, not being a big sweets girl, was greeted with a special birthday guacamole (which she totally loves – she might even put it on a cupcake to make it taste better). The whole place sang to her and she got a free cupcake! I can’t take Roxanne anywhere without her winning something!

We fashionable gals had a fun time catching up and looking great - if I say so myself. Of course, we all LOVE food and loved to have an excuse to pig out (we were modest this time). Our little divas were with a babysitter whilst we celebrated. They all had a good time too! Laura brought her kid along with her (again, sigh). Just kidding. She just has a tiny baby bump. You can't even tell she's prego in the photo. Way to go Laura McG! And way to show us all how to look fab in our 20's Wox! You're purple tights and high boots were so rock n roll.

If you’re ever in Pilsen or near the United Center be sure to check out Bombon. They also have an excellent Mexican Latte. I hear the cakes are better over in Pilsen but there is an nice selection at the Ashland/Monroe location. On the savory side, I always get the cuitlacoche quesadillas (corn mushroom quesadillas. There a weird fungus that grows on corn. It's really ugly, but they hide it in a quesadilla and it tastes great - even for you unadventurous eaters, try it).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Winter Water Fun

We had a wonderful time with the Engstrom Family at Grizzley Jack's water park near Starved Rock State Park. An easy, 90 minute drive from Chicago! The girls had a wonderful time. Aislin and Annikah Engstrom are kissing buddies. It was so stinkin' adorable! Annikah was a real daredevil thoroughly enjoying the water slides by herself! Indi's adventurous spirit must have kicked in sometime since August because she too was raring to go into the wave pool, jumping with each swell! I took her into the deeper water and we were in the thick of the wave mosh pit with all the tweens! Grizzley Jack's also has a nice indoor Amusement Park for kids.

Indi and Ais both enjoyed their first amusement park rides. That is until Aislin dropped a stink bomb and we had to get out of there pronto! Murphy's Law kicked in and the shuttle bus was literally loaded to capacity with passengers. All choking on the black fog emanating from Aislin's diaper. Yep, Aislin does it again. Nearly a weapon of mass destruction. We were dropped off first :-)

Snaps to my good friend, Roxanne, who took superb and generous amounts of photos of the fandamily. She also is a sista as I wasn't in any them (in my bathing suit). Phew, dodged that bullet. Of course, Rox looks great. If you like what you see you can check out her blog (see link to the right). I highly recommend Grizzley Jack's Resort and Starved Rock.

The Littlest Gymnast

My precocious 4 year old daughter, Indigo, had her very first gymnastics meet this past Sunday. She was invited to be part of the Peterson Park Gymnastics Center’s team this year. I asked “Coach Jillian” the criteria for them inviting her. They said, body type. Hmmm. $160 later Indigo is officially coiffed in a fancy mandatory “team leotard” and warm ups.

The meet was a neat experience for all of us. It took Indi all of 10 seconds to complete her “pass”. I’m so proud of her! She had a lot of fun with the other gymnasts and was very friendly to her competition. A true diplomat! Look out Condoleza! Grandma B, Auntie Ab, and Nick were there to cheer her on as was Gramma and Grandpa Anstee! A great showing!

Gymnastics is a wonderful way to build core strength and coordination. The skills will transfer to any sport one wishes to pursue. This very moment Indigo is practicing her cartwheels on the living room carpet (not quite there yet)! I will add lastly that Aislin is a very brave, and coordinated toddler! She loves to climb and is already standing on her head while kicking a leg into the air! I think she may be more of a natural than Indi. I will enroll Ais in a mom and tot gymnastics class this Winter. I can’t wait. She’ll LOVE it! Simple pleasures.
Here’s a video of Indi’s very first gymnastics tumbling pass.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Vain and Vein

I had EVLT on my left leg in Jan. 2008. To find out how it went, visit the blog post here.
This post officially welcomes you to voyeur varicose vein removal. Don’t sit to close to the edge of your seat! OK, my leg photo is not very vein revealing, I know, but it's the photo not the leg. (aka. my butt's not big, it's the jeans ;-)

After having two kids, my legs look like roadmaps due to varicose veins, apparently genetic (thanks, Mom!). They get hot, itch and throb especially after standing for long periods of time. Ya know like when painting outdoors every Saturday morning (more on my painting progress later).

I must add that the photo of the above signage is important. I am having vein surgery. Not to be confused with going to the vain-center. There's a big plastic surgery office across the hall from this one! Although vv removal has a bit to do with vanity as it's not a life-threatening condition. At least not mine, anyways. I consulted with the fine MDs at the NMFF Vein Clinic (Dr. Rodriguez, et al). D. Rod is a very nice man who enthusiastically listened to Indigo sing her “Spanish” song.

He confirmed, yep, those are varicose veins. He gave me the game plan about the non-invasive and surgical options. He also brought me up to speed on what we’ll need to do in order for my insurance to pay 100% of it! Ahh, hoops to jump through. Like a good coach, he knew the drills and now we’re successfully on the road to “game day”. So far, no extra $$ has been paid. Yet.

A brief explanation of varcosities. Veins bring blood back to the heart for oxygenation. In these veins you have valves that keep the blood movin’ on up (kind of like a lock system ala Panama Canal). Due to many reasons, (mine being the one-two punch of having kids and genetics), the valves don’t work as well as they should – they don’t shut all the way. (sidebar: Who left the door open? Were you born in a barn?). This causes backflow of venus blood (reflux). The reflux causes the blood to collect, expanding the vein and forming the tortuous veins visible, like a roadmap, on the outside of the leg. What I’m learning is that the visible stuff is the tip of the iceberg (so to speak). Gotta get sexy back.

Today I had an ultrasound performed on both legs by Peg who works with D. Rod and his collegue, Dr. Richard Chen. Peg rocks and is a science-chick who’s not afraid to admit it. As she scanned my legs she pointed things out to me on the ultrasound monitor. There’s the valve, she said. Uh, whuh? I looked, brows furrowed in concentration. All I saw was a haze of black and white visual static. If you say so, Peg! Then she pressed a food pedal that activated a cuff around my leg. Zap! Phew, it was just a squeeze, not a zap :-) Dr. Chen gets the soundbite of the day award.

“If people ask me for pantyhose, I give it to them.”

I was laughing (really moreso on the inside, out of politeness, as I just met Dr. Chen). We were talking about thigh-high support hose v. pantyhose support hose. If you remove any context from his quote, it’s hilarious! I told him I’m going to blog about it!

So, now for the hard science! There are numerous ways to treat varicose veins. Make small incisions at various points along the skin, snip the vein and pull it out bit by bit. Like digging a worm out of the ground with tweezers. This is done with local anesthetic and a mild “sedative”. I asked, Peg, for the straight dope on that one. What is the “sedative”?. She told me it was Xanax – one or two pills. I’ll take two. Never had it before, I hope it works. I digress (I welcome anyone’s opinion on Xanax). Other methods of vein removal, and this is space-age technology (or should I be saying, Google Earth-age technology)… lasers and fancy sound waves (you'd think some of the speed metal out there would be enough to collapse a vein, a brain but in vein treatment they use inaudible sound waves). In either instance, a super thin tube is placed into the vein, heats it up (via sound or laser) which causes it to close/collapse. This removes the road from the map, so to speak. Removing the vein, removes the varicose appearance of the vein. Apparently our bodies have like a guh gillion veins and melting 4-6 is not a very big deal. What is a big deal, is that all of this is done on an out-patient basis. No general anesthesia, no paying an anesthesiologist, or hospital operating room and most importantly NO hospital stay. Woohoo. Just sweet Xanax and a good friend to get me home on time for “Rachel Ray”. Any takers? I’ll be having laser and vein striipping procedures. These doctors are that good. Google-earth Good.

My next appointment is my pre-op visit. You may get to meet D. Rod and Dr. “If-anyone-asks- for-pantyhose, I-give- it-to-them”. Look out ladies (I’ll see if he’s available!). I must say that he is a tremendously good sport to laugh with me. Real times, real people. Hopefully this vein surgery isn't a "gateway drug" into harder core plastic surgery. It's just across the hall after all. Stay out of the vain centers, y'all!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Retail Therapy

Does any have a love/hate relationship with shoe shopping? I've been searching high and low for a comfortable, stylish pair of slip-on shoes. This means full frontal and rear coverage so snow doesn't sneak in. So no clogs or backless shoes (we're talking about shoes here people, not ladies panties -- stay focused!). They need to be convenient, so it has to be a booty or loafer-type of shoe. I've tried some high boots that are casual. Technically you can slip those on and off. However, I have "athletic" calves and have trouble zipping the suckers up all the way. I've recently learned that the calf area can be stretched - up to 3 inches (according to a sales Rep at the John Fluevog store). But the boots (btwn $150-300) have to be purchased and then stretched. Well, what if they can't stretch far enough? I'm stuck with half zipped boots! Even in the tall boot arena, the choices are legion (are you getting the Biblical reference to the woman possessed by demons who called themselves "legion". Yep, the satanic reference is intentional). So no boots were bought nor harmed in the making of this blog post. However, I took some photos of the passable styles I saw at the Nordstrom's half-yearly sale. I browsed while taking advantage of my cheap parking from my doctor visit (7 hours for $9 in Streeterville, WOW - wish I had more time on my hands to maximize that economy!).

Let's guess the prices shall we? (In order of appearance from Left to right)

Kowalski University knee boot - $270, Scene mod motorcycle boot - $90, G series funky orange/brown knee boot - $150 -- paper towel dispenser smiling at me... Priceless!