The Road More or Less Traveled

There’s nothing much better than taking a hike during a misty, cool, winter day. It’s a peaceful escape from the regular chaos. Today, however, I brought the chaos with me.

photo 4-2
Bringing Chaos into the Woods

Peaceful these two girls are not, but I couldn’t in good conscience say no after the stress of sickness we’ve been enduring for the last month and a half. I’d love to say that Olivia is 100% recovered. She’s not, but she was bound and determined to enjoy the great outdoors with me and her youngest sister.

 

I Made It!
I Made It!

I’d say she more than achieved that goal.

photo 2-2

While this 2 mile hike may have invigorated her spirit, it didn’t heal her stomach or headaches.

As I write this, the husband is putting a load of sheets into the wash after Olivia got sick again. She was upset, but not about getting sick. She felt bad about missing the puke bag. That’s my oldest pleaser kid, worried about creating more work for us.

Her attitude will make me work that much harder to get her well again. While the test results slightly reassure us, her ongoing symptoms still concern us. Good thing we’re a family of fighters. We’re fighting for good health and more hikes.

 

Kickin’ It!

Soccer season is upon us, and that means for the next six to eight weeks my Saturday will be spent at pint-sized soccer fields. While I haven’t come to embrace my role as a soccer mom, it’s hard not to love watching a bunch of four and six years olds running around in soccer shirts that hang to their knees.

Yes, she was all smiles here. She loved the uniform, even though it took both me and the husband a good ten minutes to get the socks on over her shin guards, then fold them over a couple of times, and finally stuff her feet into the shoes.

Carrie then took to the field for practice. She was ready. She was happy. She was excited. That lasted for about five minutes. My guess is she figured she’d just kick the ball and shoot it into the goal, but as soon as someone kicked the ball away from her she was done. Mind you, this was just during practice. The game hadn’t even started yet. I watched all this from the sidelines. She looked at me with a quivering lip. Her big brown eyes filled with tears. I gave her two big thumbs up, while wondering how long it was going to take ’til my kid lost her shit in the middle of the soccer field. It didn’t take long. Just seconds. So what did I do? Did I run onto the field and scoop her into my arms telling it would all be ok? Nope. I laughed. It was pretty hilarious to see her come unglued for all to see. Carrie however, didn’t find it funny at all. Luckily, the coach was much more sympathetic to my kid than I was. She ran to her and held her hand for the rest of the game as they ran up and down the field.

I thought for sure the donut at the end of the game would help cheer her up. It didn’t. It made Erin pretty happy though.

Which brings me to Erin and her first game of the season.

 

Erin likes pointing out just how big she’s getting, and she proudly showed off how she managed to put on her shin guards, socks, and tie her shoes all by herself. I must admit I was pretty proud too.

She was just as independent on the soccer field.

 

During practice, she kicked the ball with all her might and that dogged determination continued once the game started.

Leading the Pack

It didn’t matter where the ball was. If Erin could see it, she’d be on the run and kick it down the field toward the goal. She rarely (if ever) scored, (I don’t think she ever did, but she says she got one goal) but that kid is competitive. Even though Erin didn’t say it, I’m sure she was pretty bummed not to have won the game. Her only complaint was that the game was too long. As much as she ran, I’m sure the 45 minute game felt more like an hour and 45 minutes. She was beat literally and figuratively, but come this Saturday, I’m sure she’ll be right back out there giving it her all.

Two games. Two very different kids and two very different outcomes. If this first week is any indication, this year’s soccer season will be anything but boring.

 

Post Olympic Games Post

I love the Olympic Games, but I love my sleep more. Unfortunately, the number of hours I was able to fall asleep into a blissful slumber dwindled significantly. It’s an occupational hazard. I work at a local TV news station, one that’s NBC owned. I also happen to be a special projects producer, and the Olympic Games fall under special projects. So, during the 17 days of Olympic glory my alarm clock went of at 2 a.m. Yes, 2 a.m. Have I mentioned yet that I’m not a morning person? I guess 2 a.m. isn’t technically morning. It’s the dead of night. The middle of the night. It is downright painful to get up at that hour. I don’t even hit the snooze alarm for fear of falling back asleep.

Once I’m up however, I’m up, and I’m raring to get right into Olympic mode. That’s where my love of the Olympic Games kicked in making me love my job, even with the crazy early hours. Thanks to the bevy of athletic talent in the Bay Area, I got the chance to profile amazing athletes who are among the best in the world in their chosen sport. Then I got to see them  compete. Many times they ended up on the podium with a medal hanging from their neck. Other times they missed the mark. They were as gracious in defeat as they were in victory. I’m not surprised. Without exception, all the athletes I interviewed were down to earth and gracious. Sure they were confident. They have to be when they’re elite athletes, but they were also incredibly humble and very patient to answer every question I asked.

Since I was on the early morning shift, I very rarely got to see NBC’s Olympic coverage. Thanks to my twitter feed, (and my husband) I never went to sleep (at the ungodly early hour of 8 pm) not knowing who had won and who had lost. It’s the good and bad of tape delay. At least that meant I had a pretty good idea of the Olympic content I’d be producing for our morning shows.

There’s also a good and bad working these hours when you have three kids. The good includes coming home in the early afternoon with time to hang out with the girls. We headed to the California Academy of Sciences one day and the beach another day. Yep, of the 12 early morning weekdays I worked, I only managed to take them to a real outing two times. I don’t count trips to the grocery store and Old Navy as real outings. I had grand plans to do fun things, but truth be told, I was dog tired and more than a little bit cranky. I also went to bed well before they did, leaving the lion share of bedtime and breakfast duties to the husband. He also made sure the tooth fairy remembered to leave something for two kids who lost a tooth each during the Olympic Games.

So I’ve got mixed reactions to the end of the Olympic Games. Like the millions of other people who watched the Olympics, I’ll remember the great stories of London 2012. Who can forget Oscar Pistorius or Usain Bolt on the track? Or Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin in the pool?x Or the Fierce Five showing their gymnastic moves in the gymnasium? Or the women’s water polo or soccer teams winning gold? I know I won’t.

I also am looking forward to returning to my regular schedule. It means I not only get to silence the 2 a.m. alarm clock, I also get more time with my kids, which will give me plenty of other great stories to tell.

Tour de Meak

Sure the cyclists in the Tour de France are unbelievable athletes, able to climb mountains at breakneck speeds for miles and miles, but I’ll be following my own little cyclists, including one who’s sporting her own yellow jersey, Mizzou style.

At the finish line

Having three kids means at any given time one kid is outgrowing something, which will be passed down to the next kid. That happened this weekend with bicycles. It’s hard to believe, but Olivia is now in an adult sized bike. Well, maybe it shouldn’t be all that hard to believe considering she almost wears the same size shoe as me and has crazy long legs anyone would envy. (me included)

With Olivia sporting a new bike, Erin moved into Olivia’s old bike, which was a big jump for both of them. Up until now Erin only used pedal brakes and her bike had one speed. Now she has hand breaks and seven speeds. Given she was navigating a new bike and learning to use hand brakes and gears, you’d think we’d go out for a nice leisurely flat ride. Nope.

We are lucky enough to live in a place where cycling is taken seriously. Very seriously. Virtually every Sunday a beautiful stretch of road is shut down to cars for bicycle Sunday. It’s beautiful, but hilly. Let’s just say Erin was less than confident about using the hand brakes down the hills. On the first two hills either the husband or I walked next to her while she made her way very s l o w l y down said hills. There were tears and protests. I was beginning to think this would be a cycling fail outing.

At this point, I told Olivia she could bike ahead of us. She did. A few minutes later, I decided to catch up to her, which took me way longer than expected. Let’s just say there was not a big learning curve from her previous kid bike. Olivia was a cycling machine, making her way up some pretty big hills and not even breaking a sweat.

By the time we made it back to Erin and the husband, who was pulling Carrie in a chariot, it appeared our middle child had made a breakthrough with the hand brakes. She had dried her tears and although she was not yet smiling, she didn’t exactly look unhappy. We also took a rest stop at a pretty cool location, the Alameda De Las Pulgas Water Temple.

After this pit stop, we met up with my friend and her son, which allowed Olivia to have a biking buddy.

Biking Buddies

They had such a good time they decided to continue on, while the rest of us stopped at around 8 miles. By the end of the ride, Erin was rocking the hills, both uphill and down, and didn’t even really complain until the final uphill, which she said was “exhausting.”

We met up with Olivia and my friend at a local grocery store, where we found my friend patching up Olivia’s left knee and right elbow with a couple of band-aids. It turns out she hit a patch of uneven road and took a spill. Shockingly, Olivia was the picture of calm, no tears, no freak out moment. I guarantee if it happened on my watch, she would have been bawling. So while it may have traumatized my friend, better her than me.

Once back at her house, the husband put on some neosporin and a new band-aid, which didn’t go over too well with Olivia.

Ouch!

I can’t say I really blame her ’cause it is a pretty nasty road rash. To her credit though, she says she’s ready to get back on her saddle and ride again.

Not to be outdone by her sisters, Carrie decided she was ready to ride her own big girl bike. Well, technically it was Olivia’s, then Erin’s, and now the Schwinn Stardust is all hers. It does come with training wheels, but since she’s been gliding on her balance bike for the last six months or so,

we figured we could try it sans training wheels.

No Training Wheels!

And by golly it worked! The 4-year old was riding on her own for a good couple of seconds. She did way better than either of her sisters the first time they tried riding without training wheels. I’d like to credit my bike teaching skills for her impressive ride, but I’m pretty sure the balance bike was key. Had it not been so late in the day, we would have done what we’ve done with the other two kids and taken her to a local school where there’s plenty of space.

Since time was not on our side, we just went up and down our block for as long as our backs would hold out, which was not all that long.

I’m quite confident she’ll be cruising all on her own within days.

Once she’s got her biking legs and balance, we’ll try a longer ride, but we’re not stupid. We won’t be doing the same ride we did today. The next Tour de Meak will be a nice short and simple flat ride.

To say I was proud of the three girls would be an understatement. All of them surpassed my wildest expectations with their cycling accomplishments today. Olivia can more than hold her own with us, and for her to power through her fall and still come away with a positive experience is beyond impressive. Erin, through sheer determination mastered a new and difficult bike. And Carrie, well Carrie holding her own and working as hard as she can to keep up with her big sisters.

It was a great and momentous day I know I won’t soon forget and I hope the girls don’t either.

Swimming with the Sharks

She tried dance. She tried gymnastics. She tried soccer. Now Olivia’s on to swimming. I’m hoping this sport sticks.

She came home from school earlier this week asking of she could join the local swim team, the Redwood City Sharks. Two of her friends have been on the team for a couple of years and were working on recruiting her. I was a little dubious. At nine, sure Olivia can swim, but I wouldn’t call her a strong swimmer. She’s had lessons, knows the basic strokes, but has very little endurance. It’s also a big commitment, consisting of practice five days a week and swimming laps for an hour. I wasn’t even sure my kid could make one length of the pool, let alone lap after lap.

But Olivia wanted to try it so I agreed. Of course the season had already started, but the fine swim team folks allowed her to join as long as she could swim 25 yards unassisted.

When we arrived at the pool, it was like she was starting her first day of school. Olivia looked around nervously and grabbed my hand in a death grip. I found the person in charge who told Olivia to grab a kick board, get in lane number 4 and start swimming. She did as she was told, and she s l o w l y kicked her way up and down the length of the pool for a couple of laps. She did it, but the real test was to see if she could do it sans kick board. As Olivia tossed aside the kick board, I held my breath and crossed my fingers while anxiously watching her from the sidelines. Stroke by stroke, my young swimmer did it! It wasn’t pretty, but she muscled her way onto the swim team. What’s more, my pleaser kid kept swimming lap after lap for an hour! Sure she ran into the wall during the back stroke and was at the back of the pack, but she didn’t give up. Not one time.

When practice ended, I wrapped the towel around Olivia’s shivering shoulders and gave her a big hug. She looked up at me with a huge grin which told me I made the right decision in letting her try yet another sport.

I hold no illusions that she’ll be swimming in the 2020 Olympics, but I’m pretty confident she’ll be a darn good swimmer by the end of the summer. Heck, she’s already over her fear of the diving board. Sure Olivia’s doing belly flops off the diving board, but she’s got a smile on her face as she comes out of the water.

Return to P90X

I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t want to do it, but I had no choice. Too many potato pancakes, dinners out, and not enough exercise all added up to extra post-holiday pounds. So now I’m once again dragging my much flabbier ass out of bed at an ungodly early hour to work out with Tony Horton while listening to his tired old jokes that are still just as lame as the first time that I heard it.

I’m also retreating to the low-carb, high protein diet that goes along with the P90X workout. It basically consists of an egg white omelette for breakfast, salad for lunch, and a sensible dinner. I’m also once again severely cutting back on my alcohol consumption. No wonder I’m cranky.

It’s amazing how long it takes you to get in shape, and how little time it takes to get out of it. I admit, I’ve gone totally off the rails when it comes to my diet, but I’ve still been lacing up my running shoes and hitting the road a couple of times a week so I thought I wouldn’t be back to square one with P90X. I thought wrong.

I started it bright and early Monday morning, and two days later I still can’t lift my arms above my head. I’m in pain. A lot of pain. Let’s not even talk about my abs. Ok, I changed my mind. Let’s talk about them. It hurts to laugh. It hurts to cry. It just hurts.

And still I’m determined. I have plans to get begrudgingly get back out of bed early tomorrow morning and do yoga with Tony. I may however, have to mute him.

Wish me luck!

The Great Soccer Battle

Olivia has learned that if she asks to do something, I will force her to follow-through, no matter what kind of tantrum she throws. This latest battle involved trying out for a spring soccer team.

Van and I were pleasantly surprised to see how much Olivia liked playing soccer. At 8, this was her first year playing on a team, and even though she was a soccer newbie and had to sit on the sidelines for nearly half the season due to a broken wrist, by the end of the season we saw a marked improvement. She must have figured out her soccer skills improved too because she told us she wanted to keep playing.  So when she came home from school earlier this week with a flyer advertising soccer tryouts, I asked if she wanted to do it. She said yes. I asked if she was sure. Once again, she vigorously nodded her head while saying, “Yes, Mommy. I want to do this. I want to do this.”  OK, kid you got it.

Of course when tryout day arrived, (yesterday) Olivia changed her mind. I think it had more to do with not wanting to get up off the couch where she had planted herself for a couple of hours, watching countless episodes of “So Random,” and “Good Luck Charlie” with her sisters. When I informed her she didn’t get to change her mind and had to get dressed in her soccer clothes, the water works and screaming started. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fun. I screamed as much as she did. I finally told her that if she didn’t go to tryouts, this would end her short-lived soccer career. That’s when with lots of stomping and yelling she marched off to her room to begrudgingly get dressed. Van missed most of the theatrics, and looked utterly bewildered when he came downstairs to see his eldest daughter in a fit of rage. He also got charged with the task of schlepping her to the tryouts.

When she got to tryouts, she apparently transformed into a new child. Gone were the tears and tantrum, replaced with smiles and giggles as she goofed off with friends. As far as the tryouts go, well Van reported back that she seemed kind of oblivious to the ball. She’s far from a star player, but she likes the game. How do I know? When she came back, she thanked me, yes thanked me for making her go to tryouts. That almost made the earlier hysterics worth it. Almost. Did I mention she’s only 8? Lord help me once she hits her teenage years.

 

 

1/2 Marathon Highs & Lows

I’ve been running long enough to know there are days you’re going to have good runs, and days when you’re going to have bad runs. Today, I was thankful to have run well in the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon. It marked my second 1/2 marathon, and I ran it in 1:54:03, averaging an 8:42 pace according to the official race results. Considering it took me 2:09:54 to run my first 1/2 marathon I was really happy. It also helps that this course is über flat, especially compared to the killer hills on the San Francisco 1/2 marathon course. The weather conditions were also about as good as it gets. It was relatively cool and cloudy, with only a little breeze.

After the run, well, truth be told, I’m in pretty rough shape. As I write this, my stomach is making all sorts of foreign, scary sounds, and it feels like a nasty parasite invaded my intestines. I’ll spare the gory details, but suffice it to say I’ve spent just about the same amount of time in the bathroom, as it took me to run 13.1 miles. At least my stomach didn’t start acting up until after I finished the race. Surprisingly, my legs don’t feel too bad. I doubt that will be the case tomorrow, but I can deal with aching legs, knees, and ankles much easier than stomach pains.

Van also ran the half marathon, but that boy has some serious speed, so we both knew going into the race that we wouldn’t be running together. Once we got to San Jose, checked our gear bag, peed one last time, we gave each other a good luck kiss, and headed to our respective corrals. His goal was to run it in 1:45, and he was oh so close to reaching that goal. He finished in 1:46:49, still very impressive, and that included a porta potty pit stop. I am one proud wife, and I was beaming with joy when I saw him at the finish line. I don’t know if I was happier to see him, or be done running. Probably the later.

The run itself wasn’t too bad. Originally I had planned to run with the 2:00 pace group, but I pretty quickly decided it would be too crowded so I passed them. I tend to get pretty claustrophobic, so the less people around me the better. I usually run with my iPod, but since this is a Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 marathon, I decided to forgo my personal playlist for the bands. That would have worked out fine if not for one really annoying runner who happened to keep the same pace as me. This dude would not shut up, so I had to listen to his inane conversation with his friend for about five miles. I finally lost them during a Gu and water pit stop.

I have not mastered drinking while running, and trying to squeeze Gu out of a foil packet further complicates things, so I stopped for a brief time. Gu is exactly what it sounds like, basically a gooey mix of sugar, caffeine, and other unpronounceable ingredients to give athletes a little energy boost. I think it works, but my legs certainly were not happy that I stopped and were barking back at me. They simmered down about a mile later. Miles 7 through 10 seemed to drag on a bit, probably because there weren’t as many bands. Once I hit mile 11 and 12, I was tired.  The last mile felt about four miles, but I knew my time was still pretty good, and unless I collapsed or crawled across the finish line, I was likely to finish in under two hours. For as much pain as I’m in right now, it still feels mighty good to accomplish this goal.

Van’s already talking about doing another 1/2 marathon later this month. I’m plugging my ears while he’s talking. I think one 1/2 marathon a year is good for me. I think it’s like childbirth. Time makes you forget about the pain.

Pre-race photo. Van is sporting his race face.

Cast Off!

It’s never easy waiting for something. It’s even more difficult when waiting for a stinky, dirty, heavy cast to come off your oldest child’s left arm. I don’t know who wanted the awful thing off more, me or Olivia. Well, today was the day to see if the nasty royal blue fiberglass cast would finally be removed. Olivia’s appointment was at 3:00. Approximately and hour and a half later, which felt more like a day and a half, we finally got the word.

The cast would be cut!

Cutting Off the Cast!

Ok, Olivia was probably happier than me to get it off. Before the nurse took the saw/vacuum contraption to Olivia’s arm, she was nice enough to explain that it’s not a real chain saw attached to a vacuum. Phew! However, I don’t think Olivia would have cared if the nurse used a hacksaw to rip the cast off her arm. This was just the first step.

Next came a crowbar type of tool.

I’ve got to hand it to Olivia, (no pun intended) she didn’t show any fear. No tears. No whining. If anything, she was fascinated watching the nurse go to work on her arm. I should also point out that this is the same child that takes great pleasure watching the sharp needle of a flu vaccine go into her arm.

And finally…….

a little snip, snip and……

goodbye cast!

It will take a little time before the wrist bones straighten out, but she’s just about fully recovered. The doctor says Olivia can go back to soccer right away, but recommended avoiding doing cartwheels or handstands for a couple of months.

As much as Olivia wanted the cast off, she wanted to keep it. So we brought the dirty, stinky, nasty fiberglass cast home with us. And yes, it smells, although not nearly as much as I thought it would. While I hope this is the last time any of my kids get a cast, I’m certain it’s the last time I’ll take a whiff of one.

90 Days of P90X

90 days is a lot of time to do anything, and when it comes to working out at least six days a week in front of the TV while a crazy man named Tony Horton makes inane comments, it’s really, really hard. It’s hard, but I’m proud to say I did it. So did Van. I’m quite certain without him getting my ass out of bed every morning I wouldn’t have done it. When the alarm clock went off almost every morning at 5:30 a.m., I was always more than tempted to roll over and go back to bed, but 99% of the time I resisted temptation because Van was already out of bed.

So how much weight can you lose when you work out an hour to an hour and a half six days a week, and substantially cut back on your calorie intake? Well for me, I lost 11.5 pounds. Yes, I’m including the .5 because the first week I lost .4 pound. When I saw that result, I was less than happy. I was ready go back to sleeping in and drinking my nightly glass or two of beer, wine, or vodka tonics. But no, I stuck with it, and eventually I saw some pretty impressive results. I no longer have my mom pooch, and have some actual definition in my arms. Those muscles in my arms, shoulders, and back helped make it possible for me to do two pull-ups all on my own. Well, the lower weight also helps. I even dropped about two pant sizes.

Yes, Van and I took before and after photos, but I’m never going to be publishing those puppies.  I know plenty of people proudly show off their weight loss by posting their before and after pics. Me? I’m content to keep those photos private, and only pull them up when I fall off the health and fitness wagon and need some more motivation.

Van also lost weight and gained a lot of muscle.  He actually lost a lot a weight, much more than I did. About 20 pounds more. Nope, that’s not a typo, you read correctly. The man lost 30+ pounds! He is quite simply a machine completely dedicated to the mission of getting in shape. He may not have six-pack abs, but he definitely has a four pack. It is an impressive sight, and while I know he’ll be embarrassed reading this, the man deserves some serious props not just for transforming his body, but also for keeping me in check and on task.

People keep asking me what I’m going to do now that I’ve completed P90X. I’ve realized to keep me interested in exercising, I need a goal. So instead of stretching yesterday, which was the 90th day of P90X, I went on a 9 mile run and lived to tell about it. That run gave me the confidence to do something really crazy and sign up for the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 marathon with only about six weeks to train for it. I’m trying to talk Van into doing it with me. If he can convince me to get up at o-dark-hundred hours, I think I can convince him to run a measly 13.1 miles. What do you think?