Tragic Sandwich

Food. Family. Fun.

Archive for the category “Health and Fitness”

Splish, Splash: Pools I Have Known

Sunset pool at ucla

I love being in the water. Love it. I once announced that I was pretty sure I could live in the shower in my parents’ guest bathroom.

But pools are better.

When I was a kid in southern California, we had some kind of above-ground pool that my dad almost never assembled. I remember playing in it, but not very many times.

Then we moved across the country. I’m sure someone had a pool in their back yard, but I don’t remember any. Instead, you joined a pool. There were wait-lists. It helped to know a member. After a year we joined one–although it turned out not to be the one most of my friends from school belonged to–and for years we spent lots of time during the summer at the pool.

The year I was eight, I was on the swim team for that pool. We would compete at other area pools against their swim teams. No one had Power Bars back then; between heats, you’d eat powdered Jello mix for energy. Lemon or lime was best. (Do not substitute a Twinkie. A Twinkie will hold you back. Even though it seems like a Twinkie is mostly air, experience suggests that it must really be Dark Matter.) I competed in the 25-free and 25-back. How did I do? Pretty much every time, I’d get third in free and first in back. Was that 25 meters or 25 yards? I don’t remember. I just know that if I could swim backstroke, I could beat everyone else.

Winters were wintery, but that didn’t keep me out of the water. How? Indoor pools. For several winters I would sign up for Winter Swim. I’ve always been good at swimming; whenever the instructor wanted someone to demonstrate a technique we’d just learned, he or she would ask me to show everyone.

Full disclosure: I have never been good at flip turns. Thus my success in 25-free and 25-back. I guarantee you I would not have won in 50-back, much less in 50-free. I was probably never asked to demonstrate a flip turn in either direction.

My other main memory of Winter Swim is a round of bullying that, unlike others, I was unable to deflect or derail. I carpooled with two boys from my elementary school who took it upon themselves to torment me. I have uncertain memories of them spitting in my hair during the car ride home. I loved swimming. I hated the ride to and from.

(I also hated my sweatsuit, which was some horrible 1970s attempt at–microfleece, maybe?–it was sort of fuzzy and when it pilled I wound up with little red fuzzy bits stuck to me, because it is impossible to truly dry off after Winter Swim. Even the locker room is humid.)

We moved to Texas. And, oddly, this is where I stopped swimming. Or not so oddly, if you think about it. We joined a pool that was within walking distance of our home, which meant that our mother wasn’t inclined to drive us. (Although I maintain that “walking distance” in a South Texas summer is about the distance from the front door to the car door.) Also, I was in high school, which meant that the pool and swimsuits seemed fraught with . . . well, fraught with something. I’m not sure I could have articulated it even then, but I stopped being willing to run around in a swimsuit, even at the pool.

In college, we’d go to the pool–but only to sunbathe. This, by the way, is a terrible plan for a redhead, particularly in an era when SPF 10 was considered to be a lot of sun protection.

Years and years and years later, I married Mr. Sandwich. We drove from our wedding in San Antonio to Los Angeles, and on one of the days before we left for our honeymoon in Hawaii, we went back to that college pool. I swam the length of it (this one I know–50 meters), clung to the side gasping, and then swam back. And while I was done for that day, I later spent many evenings in that pool training for triathlons.

Also, I am still lousy at flip turns, so it’s a good thing that when I compete, it’s in the open water with a noticeable lack of walls.

Now we live in the San Fernando Valley. When we moved there, I said, “I don’t need a pool–I don’t want one, too hard to maintain–but I do need air conditioning.” We have air conditioning, and I will admit that now that I’ve experienced a few Valley summers, I could also do with a pool.

Fortunately, we live within an easy drive of one of the city pools. It’s been closed for several years due to maintenance issues, but they finally repaired it and re-opened it this summer. While I am sorry that it’s now closed for the season, I’m glad we were able to go several times–and at $2.50 an entry ($2.00 with a library card, for whatever reason), I think it’s a much better deal than building, filling, and maintaining one in our back yard.

You know who else loves the pool? Baguette.

It must be genetic.

Photo by samk, via Flickr.


Baby’s First Cast

This morning, Baguette could stand briefly, but still wasn’t willing to take a step. So our pediatrician said that he wanted us to take her to an orthopedist. The only catch was that he didn’t think that we’d get in to see someone within our network on the afternoon of a Friday before a 3-day weekend. He therefore provided a referral to “the only guy in West L.A. you’ll be able to see today–but he doesn’t take your insurance.”

Another exam, more xrays, and $315 later, and what did we learn?

Baguette has a hairline fracture in her left tibia.

She also starts swim lessons tomorrow. Fortunately, this cast can go in the water. And next week she can go to day care. And the week after that, the cast will come off.

I’ll tell you what–I’m glad we went to the out-of-network guy. I’m glad we didn’t say, “Well, let’s see how she does over the weekend.” Because if we’d gone to someone else on Tuesday or Wednesday and then discovered that we’d left a broken bone untreated for a week? I can’t imagine. But it wouldn’t feel good.

Baby’s First X-Ray

Radiation Sign

So last night Baguette went into our bedroom, and a little later we heard a slappy thump followed by tears. She was sitting on the floor at the foot of our bed, and sobbing. I picked her up and cradled her and sang to her, and she kept sobbing for at least 15 more minutes. We examined her carefully and couldn’t find any bumps, bruising, or swelling, but she was clearly unhappy and uncomfortable. I was able to coax her to sleep, but she was restless and needed soothing all night.

Until 3:40 a.m., when she was wide awake. After some failed efforts at getting her to fall back asleep, we all got up to watch Sesame Street. She snuggled on the couch with Mr. Sandwich and smiled a bit, but was nowhere near her usual levels of enthusiasm.

She’s home for a few days anyhow, because her day care is closed for some teacher in-service time, and the plan was for Mr. Sandwich to stay home with her (he has more vacation time). So I went to work and called to see how they were doing.

At that point, Mr. Sandwich described it as “a sick, lazy day” with lots of Sesame Street. But later he took her out to play with her water table, and realized that Baguette hadn’t just been relaxing on the couch–she couldn’t stand up on her own.

So he called me and the pediatrician’s office, where we met a couple of hours later. Now, Baguette does not love going to the doctor’s office. She’s had relatively few visits, so she associates the doctor with shots and that weird stomach-poking thing. She wails incessantly at the top of her lungs, both at the nurse and at the doctor. It’s really, really hard to calm her down afterward; there is no calming her down during. But the doctor managed to examine her, and decided that he ought to send her to radiology.

And it turns out she feels exactly the same way about x-ray machines. While she was very–uncharacteristically–sedate in the waiting room, she screamed and screamed the entire time she was on the table to be x-rayed.

The results were normal, so no fracture–good news. And while the screaming was heartbreaking, it completely wore her out, and she fell asleep in my arms before we even got the update from the radiologist. She stayed asleep the entire way home and for several hours afterward.

So it’s likely to be a long night. Tomorrow, her pediatrician may provide another referral–this time to an orthopedist. And we suspect that we have a 2-year-old with a sprained ankle, particularly because now we can see some minor swelling. But she’s also smiling for the first time all day, and that’s an amazing relief.

Photo by microwavedboy, via Flickr.

Traditions: Blogging, or Happy Anniversary to Me

Webster Anniversary Cake

As of today, I have been blogging for seven years. I think that hyperlinked text may be longer than my first blog post. So how has my blogging evolved?

In fact, (as you may be able to tell from that first post) I started two blogs–one was Cake Batter, and the other was Tragic Sandwich–which I later merged.

At some point I migrated from Blogger to WordPress, and haven’t looked back. (BTW, the “Tragic Sandwich” blog that’s currently on Blogger? Not me. I should have figured out how to keep that URL.)

It took me a while, but I did learn how to embed photos.

Over time, I got better at it.

What I write about has changed.

The structure of my posts has changed (I still like this one about disgusting wine, but I would definitely hyperlink it if I were writing it today).

With more years of marriage (Mr. Sandwich and I had been married for about 14 months when I started blogging), a home purchase, and most importantly the much-desired arrival of Baguette, my life has changed far more than my blogging.

That said, I am beginning to have an idea that I may be at the point where blogging starts to change my life. Fingers crossed.

How long have you been blogging? And what’s changed for you?

Photo by TN Something Special Cakes, via Flickr.

It’s My SITS Day!

What do you call a community of some 40,000 women who support each other? SITS!

Women Online

Just like the name says, the secret is in support. Each day, the site features a blogger, and today’s my day.

Those of you who are new to Tragic Sandwich may be wondering what’s up with my name. You can find that on my About page.

So who am I?

  • I’m a 40-something writer/editor/social media marketer with a husband (Mr. Sandwich) and one daughter (Baguette).
  • I’ve lived all over the country, but have been in L.A. since Mr. Sandwich and I got married in 2004. We have a dog named Wicket who adopted us a few months before Baguette was born, and we love reading, TV, movies, travel, and the outdoors.
  • I like to cook, but I rarely have time–I’m not even able to pull together slow-cooker meals as consistently as I’d like. Simple and fast are key these days.

This blog is about our daily life–things we do, and things I think about. If you’d like to take a look around, here are a few recent-ish posts to get you started:

Tales of the Dragon Mother–I’ve always been fight-y, but motherhood means that my ferocity sometimes surprises even me.

All the Single Ladies–I’m not a single mother, but I think society should stop giving them grief and start giving them more support. Because this job is hard.

It’s Not Rat Poison–Everybody calm down. It’s just formula, and it’s fine.

Guest Post: Mr. Sandwich
–Our marriage is based on teamwork and mutual respect, and that extends to my blog. I can’t leave out this post!

Work-Life Balance–I think this sums it up.

Thanks for stopping by–I hope you’ll come back! And please feel free to comment wherever you’d like. I’m always open to civil discourse, regardless of whether we agree with one another!

5 Things I Found While I Was Looking Around

Number 5 is Alive!

Global Food Disparity
on Daily Kos

I’ve seen this before, but it’s worth revisiting. I think we do okay on whole foods–we do eat some packaged foods, but not junk food–but we could do better on fruits and vegetables in our house.

10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Buy Reusable on

I’ve been wondering where to find good, reusable produce bags. Now, if I can just figure out what to do when they eliminate plastic bags from the meat section.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice
on Christy Jordan’s Southern Plate

I am very certain that I could make this.

Animals Photobombing
on Babble

There’s a whole slideshow you can flip through, but this one’s my favorite.

The Luxury Dhigu Resort, Maldives on adelto

I think I may have found that “happy place” people keep talking about going to in their heads.

Photo by Tropewell, via Flickr.

Summer Cold

matzo ball soup mosaic

Last Monday, during lunch with a friend, I felt that warning tickle in the back of my throat.

You know the one. That faint mealiness that hints at actual soreness to come.

Sure enough, as the day progressed, I got worse. The actual soreness. Sneezing. Congestion. Stuffy ears and head. The works.

And it’s really hanging in there. In spite of three kinds of decongestants, one hot toddy, and the passage of 11 days, I still feel lousy.

Add a summer heat wave–not to East Coast levels, but highs over 100 with humidity that is incredibly muggy for this part of the country–and I am not feeling good.

Under other circumstances, I’d pick up some matzo ball soup. But it’s just too hot.

Maybe day 12 will be better. Fingers crossed.

Photo by m kasahara, via Flickr.

5 Things I Found While I Was Looking Around

I took Five.

Finish of DIII 3200 Meter Race at Ohio’s 2012 State Track Meet on YouTube

This is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen.

Graphical Representation of Geologic Time on USGS PUblications Warehouse

Yes, I am a history geek.

SpaceCamera – Live Event on Slooh

Wish I’d known about this when the eclipse took place. Good thing we made that viewing box.

Creating Digital Color Palettes on Centsational Girl

Have you seen these on Pinterest? Now you can create them, too.

Teeny Tiny Pig Overcomes His Fear of Stairs to Get a Bowl of Delicious Oatmeal on Jezebel

Who knew oatmeal could be this enticing?

Photo by N-ino, via Flickr.


I don’t like any of its forms, but one that particularly incenses me is bias based on weight. I know all kinds of people who think it’s perfectly fine to judge character based on weight. Which you just can’t. Recently I came across a terrific essay by Charlotte Cooper on images of people who are overweight, and it’s definitely worth reading. Take a look at those pictures, and ask yourself this: What do these photos and the way they’re commonly used tell you? And while you’re at it, ask yourself what’s harder–sitting next to a person who’s obese, or being obese?

All that weight tells you is whether someone is fat or thin. It doesn’t tell you whether someone is kind or cruel, generous or stingy, honest or a liar. It doesn’t tell you whether they’re going to cut you off in traffic or pull over to see if you need help when someone else does. It doesn’t tell you whether they’ll say something deliberately mean to you, or remind you that the person who did is a jackass who’s not worth your time.

Weight tells you nothing but weight. And that’s not the measure of a person.

On Pain Meds During Labor



NOTE: Are you expecting your first child? Please feel free to skip this post. It’s not horrible and it all ends well, but I don’t think it’s typical. So why have it in your head?

Here was my entire birth plan:

1) Avoid pain meds if at all possible.
2) Do not have labor induced.
3) Do not get episiotomy.
4) Do not have c-section.

Long story short? I batted .250.

Long story long? Keep reading.

My doctor sent me home from work four weeks ahead of schedule due to edema. It took me about a week before I realized that he knew what he was doing.

The official (or as I referred to it, “alleged”) due date was April 8, 2010. On Saturday, April 10, my doctor had me come to Labor and Delivery for a non-stress test, which went fine. Afterward, he said, “Well, you have an appointment with me Monday morning. Let’s see how you’re doing then, but if you haven’t gone into active labor, we’ll have you come back to the hospital on Tuesday and we’ll induce.”

At about 3:30 a.m. on Monday, I woke up feeling lousy, in an indeterminate way. I sat on the couch for a while and eventually went back to bed. After I woke up again, I realized that I had been having a four-hour contraction.

Flash-forward through a phone call to the doctor and a hurried closing-up of the house (we had been using a checklist every time we left for a couple of weeks, because we were very aware that if we left, we might not come back for a few days), and I was at the hospital at 10:30. Mid-afternoon, they administered Cervidil, and an hour later I got to eat for the first time since dinner the night before.

At about 9:00, I decided that I had been at Personal Pain Level (henceforth referred to here as PPL) 8-9 for long enough and asked for meds. By 9:50, the Fentanyl had worn off and I was back at PPL9. Then they gave me intramuscular morphine and an Ambien, to cut the pain and help me sleep.

Neither happened.

Some time around 4:30 a.m., after they’d removed the Cervedil and started me on Pitocin, I got an epidural. It worked for a while, and it wore off. I was back at PPL9. The anesthesiologist “topped it off.” No effect. He upped it again. Nothing.

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, the nurse said, “I’m going to teach you how to push.” I pushed for two hours, and at noon–nearly 33 hours after I’d had my first major contraction–Baguette was born. But to avoid a C-section, we had to use suction, and I had to get an episiotomy.

So most of this did not follow my “birth plan.” But I didn’t have a C-section, and I did–and this is really the point–have a healthy baby. So I’m not complaining.

Since then, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions:

1) If I have another baby, I’ll just refuse pain meds. I got no benefit from taking them, and everything worked out fine. I’m not saying other people shouldn’t. This is about me and my body chemistry.
2) Nine months later, I had a kidney stone. Labor was definitely not PPL9. Not even close.

Photo by jonathan percy, via Flickr.

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