Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In case you're wondering what the KU Jayhawk really is...

The KU Jayhawk, famous in these parts...

Here is a complete description of how it was born, brought to you by the wall of the coffee shop on Mass St and 7th...

And from the wall of the KU Card Center at the Union, if you ever wondered what a "ElsaJay" (from Frozen) might look like...

And from the wondrous inter web, a "SuperJay" (my favorite)...

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Lawrence restaurant - Genovese

The Studly Hubby and I are on a mission to find our new favorite restaurants in Lawrence. We've already discovered a few gems (Wheatfields, Little Saigon and Wa Sushi) and a few clunkers (Marisco's). Then there are the old standbys; Chipotle, Famous Dave's and Jimmy John's, that are somehow more exciting in a new city.

Today we got out of the house too late to catch breakfast at Wheatfields and it's never a good time to hit the other famous breakfast place downtown, the Roost (1-hr waits are unbearable with a 4-yr old). So we walked down the street to Genovese, an italian place that just started serving breakfast and wasn't the least bit crowded.

One thing I love about Lawrence is that most of the restaurants downtown have an old-timey feel to them that makes them really charming, because most of the buildings they are in are the original or near-original from the 1800s. The history nerd in me soars to be in places with such rich history.

A table at Genovese, with the 1800s stone wall in the background

We loved the food (mostly) and will go back. Although we've definitely adjusted to midwest prices, as at $10 per meal we considered it expensive.

Happy and full!
Me thinking: hmmmmm.... I should really blog about this place

Lawrence street art

Is street art becoming more hip, or did we just move to a place where it's more hip? Or did we never go out before now?

We were out on the town this weekend and saw TWO incidents of street art. First, a snowman that looked like a sculpture but was actually someone wearing a costume. After an audience had gathered to look closer, the snowman would move suddenly and make everyone scream.

Second, at the library we saw a toy soldier. The guy was standing so still I thought it was really a statue, even after already being tricked by the snowman. Then he moved like a robot and beckoned to us to come closer. Layla shrieked and ran away. I snapped a photo. Then I ran away too. I think he was trying not to laugh (he did a good job!). Then he got a new customer and I watched it all happen again.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Is bad posture neurological?

I have had bad 'slouchy' posture all my life. I spent most of my life feeling bad about it on the assumption that I could actually fix it if I tried harder. But I tried pretty hard, and it never went away.

Then in my 30s I was diagnosed with cervical dystonia. It's a neurological condition that causes, at the very least, bad posture. In addition to the trauma of having a movement disorder and all that comes with it, this really rocked my whole idea of bad posture and where it comes from. In the early days, I thought the bad posture might have caused the dystonia. After reading up on it and finding out about the mutations that lead to dystonia, and that many are in neurotransmitter synthesis pathways (which have nothing to do with posture), I slowly came to realize that if anything, it was the other way around - the dystonia caused the bad posture. Have I always had dystonia, but in a milder form? I guess I'll never know, but the thought really made me look at my life through a different lens.

Dystonia is thought to affect 3-5x as many people as have been diagnosed - this means a LOT of people are walking around with dystonia that don't know it. And if a mild case just causes bad posture (or other problems like scoliosis, headaches, etc), then who knows how many more people might have dystonia-related conditions that don't have any idea what dystonia even is.

This really challenges the prevailing view that bad posture is inherently preventable. If the source is neurological, no amount of exercise or discipline will correct the problem. You can stretch and strengthen and stick a rod down your shirt and everything else but the only thing that is going to help you is Botox because that specifically relaxes those muscles that are misfiring because of faulty wiring in your brain.

Doesn't this change your perspective a little?

So I googled 'bad posture' and found this - anyone know what movie it's from?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Green tomatoes at their finest!

This past weekend the temperatures were below freezing and with almost no snow on the ground and nothing in particular keeping us busy, we did some baking. Or rather, the Studly Hubby did the baking, while Layla and I cheered him on. He made chili (with cornbread), and a special new apple crisp with GREEN TOMATOES. I was a little uncertain when he brought home the recipe (they were giving it away at the co-op with samples of some they had made, and a story about a local farmer whose tomatoes all got picked early because of the frost).

The apple crisp inspired me to post on the J&D Recipe Blog again, after ~8 yrs. It was that good! Although, I didn't post the actual recipe as it's really long and came from a recipe book you can buy for $4 on Amazon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Usually, Christmas totally sneaks up on me. Thanksgiving will come and go and then WHAM! I barely have time to get the tree up before Christmas is here. This year, as soon as Halloween was over, we were totally focused on Christmas. Maybe it's because we have a 4-yr old in the house. Maybe it's because the cold weather hit suddenly this year, or maybe it's just one of those things.

Before we even got to Thanksgiving, I'm finding myself thinking of where we're going to put the tree, what presents to give, what holiday shows and movies we can go to, and what to put in our annual newsletter. Our 4-yr old has been writing and re-writing her Christmas list and has it ready to go. For those of you who are interested, our family's Christmas lists are in the "Christmas" document you can access on the right side of the website.

Between the snow sprinkle yesterday and another one overnight we had enough to go out and play for a bit this morning. In order to gather enough snow to make snowballs (at Layla's request) we had to shovel the ENTIRE driveway. After a good snowball fight and some general running around in the snow, we came in and had some really excellent hot chocolate from our favorite neighborhood chocolate factory in Seattle, Theo Chocolate.

Derek shows Layla how to make a snowball from their little pile of snow gathered from shoveling the entire driveway

My favorite kind of hot chocolate - from Theo Chocolate with cinnamon and cayenne!! So yummy.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

SNOOOOOOOWWWW!!! (for 10 minutes)

We all woke up SUPER excited this morning, beyond our usual 'yay, it's Saturday!' excitement - because we were supposed to get our FIRST SNOW OF THE SEASON!!

The headline in the local paper read

"Lawrence braces for snow"

(although if you read the article you would see that we were only expecting 2-4")

The snow was supposed to start at 9 am. We rushed out to the grocery store to stock up, thinking we might be home all weekend. We got home around 9:30 just as the first flakes began to fall. We jumped around excitedly as more flakes fell. We made plans and checked our snow gear and had a snack.

And then the snow turned into sleet, then rain.

And then it stopped.

All we got was a dusting! We were so sad :(

Oh well, we're bound to get some snow sooner or later.

The gazebo in the park in downtown Lawrence on a snow-filled winter day 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dystonia conference

Two weeks ago I went to a conference on cervical dystonia (hosted by the STDystonia group). My mom was my main motivator and being at the end of my first round of Botox I would not have had the guts to go without her. In fact, about a week before we went I was feeling so awful I called her to ask if we could bail and she talked me out of it. I'm so glad because I had such a good time, both hanging out with my mom (more on that later) and at the conference itself.

My lovely mom, who was my chaperone at the dystonia conference

Luckily, just two days before leaving I saw my new movement disorder specialist who gave me the prescription for my now-favorite med, klonopin, and I was feeling better already by the time we got on the plane - and increasingly improved throughout the conference. Although the klonopin much improved the super-painful muscle tension associated with dystonia, and eased the neck spasms quite a bit, I was still pretty symptomatic while I was at the conference with my head constantly leaning to one side or sometimes jerking (this happens especially when I talk). This forced me to interact with a  lot of people despite my obvious symptoms. With each interaction I got a little more brave (it helped that all of the people there either had the same problem or were a close relative or spouse of someone with the problem, so nobody reacted at all to it). In fact, in my bravest moment I even took the mic during the open discussion and made a few points to the whole group of 200+ people  - neck spasms and all. 

I learned a lot about dystonia, how to treat it to ease the symptoms, and how to deal with whatever symptoms remain after treatment. I met a LOT of really nice and caring people, both newly diagnosed and 'old hats' that were making a big effort to connect with people like me. It was a really informative and supportive experience.

But the real step forward came with my own accomplishments (and it helped that my mom was there to point them out to me). Even though the plane ride hurt like hell and my head was tilting weirdly as I walked through the airport and checked into the hotel and I could barely sit through all the talks, I survived. And it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought - I found ways to get through it and still get a lot out of it. I met people who were worse off and also getting through it and I realized even though I couldn't control where my head was all the time I could control a lot of other stuff that made it possible to travel and do all the things I did while I was there.

On the last day, my mom and I went into downtown Charleston SC (where the conference was held) to see the market and have a nice dinner together. We found the most amazing restaurant on the water and got wine and dessert and commended each other on how great we were both doing. It was one of those amazing moments you remember forever and I am so grateful to my mom for talking me into going (several times).

Painting the office

The last two weekends we did our first home project: we painted our office!!! It's a tiny room so was probably one of the easiest to paint (although there are nice cupboards and a window so we had to do a lot of taping for such a tiny room).

First we picked the color:

Then we bought a full can of paint (and the other stuff you need), donned 'paint clothes' and went crazy.

Layla actually ended up being a HUGE helper - we were really surprised that she could be so careful (sometimes more so than us!!). We all had to keep a close eye on each other, it's easy to drip!

After only an afternoon, we had finished the first coat and this morning in about an hour we touched it up with a quick second coat. And we are done (sorry I couldn't really get a good picture of the whole room - it is very small)!!

This was not only satisfying because it was our first home project (and it went well!) but also because  it was another milestone in my comeback after being stricken by dystonia - prior to my new meds and new botox this kind of project would have been WAAAY out of reach.