18 Years and Counting

On this week 18 years ago I gave my real phone number to a random, but cute guy I met at a karaoke bar. That led to a first date exactly 18 years ago today, then a second date, and nearly six years later, a marriage. In that span of time we also moved too many times for my old brain to count, owned two dogs, had three daughters, and changed jobs ten times between the two of us.

Those are usually way too many numbers for this journalist to keep track of, but it adds up to one hell of a ride. Sure it hasn’t always been a convertible top down with the wind blowing through your hair kind of ride, although we’ve had plenty of those. There’s also been our fair share of I’m just holding on for dear life and am scared shitless rides too. My math may sometimes be fuzzy, but I clearly know  there’s no one else I’d want to join me on this journey.

Here’s a look at what we looked like all those years ago.

The Early Years

Sure, I had a lot less hair and he had a little more, and our kids wanted to know why we were wearing those funny clothes, but he makes me smile almost as much now, as he did all those years ago.

No doubt giving him my real phone number was the best decision of my life.

Happy 1st Date Anniversary!

The Cook and His Sous Chef

It’s chilly here in Northern California. Not Minnesota chilly mind you, where growing up, I didn’t wear a jacket until the thermometer dipped below 40 degrees. Now after living in California for more than a decade I’m a certified cold weather wimp, and will layer up in thermal wear if it gets colder than 60 degrees. It barely hit 60 degrees today so a hearty fish stew seemed the perfect Sunday night meal to warm us up. That, and my sister-in-law sent a Vitamix, and we wanted to experiment with this new kitchen gadget.

In full disclosure, I did not lift a finger in cooking this meal. That was left to my husband. He ended up not using the Vitamix. Instead, he used Olivia who turned out to be way better than a high-priced, high-powered blender. They cooked downstairs, while upstairs I sat contentedly reading a novel. I would hear snippets of their conversation while amazing smells of garlic, cilantro, and fish wafted upstairs, causing my stomach to make ridiculous hunger noises. Most of the talk centered on the husband explaining the importance of correctly measuring out ingredients, and why you can’t rely solely on the timer to gauge whether mussels are done. My husband also tends to be more patient that me when cooking with the kids, so I only once heard him raise his voice over misread cooking instructions.

The misread mishap did not ruin the recipe in the least and everyone ate with gusto.

 

The meal not only warmed my belly, but it also warmed my heart to see my husband and daughter share their love of food by cooking together.

The recipe, courtesy of Andrew Zimmern was a hit. I highly recommend trying it even if you don’t have budding young sous chefs to help out in the kitchen.

 

Dad and Daughters at the Ballgame

My husband is a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan and living in the Bay Area means he only gets a couple of chances a year to see his beloved Red Birds play in person. Today was one of those days. It also gave him the chance to pull the two older girls out of school for a well deserved day of hooky at the ball park.

He may love the Cardinals, but he loves his daughters more. How do I know?

Take a close look at what he bought the girls at AT&T Park.

Take Us Out to the Ball Park!

Yes, they are indeed decked out in Giants gear. To his defense, we did look for Cardinals jerseys, but didn’t find any so instead of bleeding red, they’re bleeding orange and black. When I asked him who the girls cheered for, he said they didn’t cheer, they just ate.

And ate……

For all their eating and lack of cheering, I’m told they did watch the game.

It’s hard not to enjoy the game when this is your view.

I would have loved to been there with them, but I was otherwise occupied with the youngest Meak kid. It looked like a great day to be at the ballpark, and one I’m pretty sure will become a lifelong memory for my Cardinals loving husband.

 

 

Father/Daughters Dance

It’s not often I can get my two older girls to get dressed up. Last night was an exception for the annual father/daughter dance at their elementary school. Since Erin is in kindergarten, this was a first for her.

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Erin wears a dress maybe two or three times a year, and went we went shopping for the dance, we let the girls pick their outfits.

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We were shocked when Erin picked a fancy flower number, complete with white tights and a sweater, but as you can see she look quite proud of her pick. Olivia loved her outfit too, which came from the god awful ‘tween store, Justice. As much as I dislike the store, (I think I’m getting hives right now just thinking about it) the long skirt with the tie-dyed tank top and crochet sweater suits her bohemian style.

As has been tradition in the past, there was dinner before the dance at a restaurant. This year, however, the girls and their dad joined a group of other dads and their daughters at a Japanese steakhouse. It must have been quite the site, and I wish I could have been there.

Instead, I had bigger plans with a certain almost four-year old.

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Carrie and I had a girls’ night out at her favorite restaurant, The Old Spaghetti Factory. I hate it, but she loves it, and I have a pretty hard time saying no to this face. Of course, she had to wear plenty of accessories for her outing. My personal favorite is the tweety bird purse.

But back to the big dance. As we figured, Olivia pretty much hung out with her friends, and Erin hung onto her dad. We remember Olivia doing the same thing when she was that age. It’s amazing to see the transformation from just a few years ago.

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Looking at this photo, maybe they both were a little nervous.

Two years from now, it will be a whole other story, with Dad bringing all three of his daughters to the big dance.

I can wait. They’re already growing up way too fast.

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.

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?

What Makes a Great Dad

He’s a chauffeur and a homework helper. He turns into Dr. Dad to help heal scratches, scrapes, and tummy aches. He can whip up mighty tasty homemade pizzas, chocolate chip cookies, and tri-tip. Yes, Van possesses all these talents, and yes they help make him a good dad, but they don’t make him a great dad. What makes him a great dad is something he probably learned from his own Dad. He knows how to listen, he knows how to teach, but most important, he knows how to love, and he loves his girls to pieces.

My girls wanted to show their Dad how much they love him with a one of a kind gift, and they put their crafting skills to use to do just that. Erin thinks Van should wear tank tops. The problem is, he doesn’t own any. Well, that problem has now been solved.

Father's Day Tank Top

It takes a special kind of father to wear this tank top, and a special husband to allow his wife to post a picture on her blog. If you think the front is something to look at, just check out the back.

Yes, Van now has a custom-made tank top to wear while doing P90X. Modeling this custom-made tank top is just one of countless examples of why Van is a great dad. His eyes lit up when he saw this gift. While this may very well be the only time he sports this shirt, his love for his girls made him love the gift.

As for my own Dad, he may not make great chocolate chip cookies or heal my tummy aches, but he’s taught me plenty. Thanks to him, I know how to play softball, win an argument, and come up with some sarcastic zingers.

Happy Father’s Day to two of the most important men in my life!

P90X Progress Report

I don’t think I’ll ever love doing P90X, but I will say this, the program works. On Monday Van and I will have been at it for three weeks, and we’re both seeing noticeable changes, although his changes are more dramatic than mine. There’s nothing all that complicated about this workout/weight loss program. If you follow the program, which means working out six to seven times a week, and eat 1800 calories or less of low-carb high protein foods a day, you too will get results.

By nature, I’m pretty much a rule follower, so I’ve been following the P90X rules. I’ve been dragging my sleepy ass out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to follow along with a freak of nature named Tony Horton, as he moves through any number of intense workouts. I haven’t missed one day yet. Van’s been just as diligent as me. It’s nice to have a partner in crime because I’m not sure I’d be getting out of my nice warm bed if I didn’t hear Van swinging his legs out from under the covers first.

We’ve been sticking to the diet too. Van or I dutifully prepare egg white omelets for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, I’m the picture of healthy girl, abstaining from free pizza in the newsroom, and only ordering a side salad while at a school related dinner at Chevys. OK, I did drink a margarita, but hey, a girl can only give up so much, especially when it took all my willpower not to dive right into the bowl of chips that they keep refilling, and refilling, and refilling.

That willpower is paying off though, because I’ve lost 4.2 pounds in a little less than three weeks! I’d say that’s progress from the effing .4 pound I lost the first week. I’m also wearing a pair of pants today that the last time I tried them on, I couldn’t even button. Not only can I button these bad boys, but there’s also no muffin top hanging off the sides. Yes, Van has lost more than double than me, (bastard!) but I’m still happy.

In addition to the weight loss, I’ve noticed other results too. For example, when I work out my chest and back, I can actually lift my arms above my head the next day. I’m still sore, but at least I can move. I can even do a shoulderstand. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it, but at least I’m no longer just lying on the floor cursing at the people on T.V., while they move their bodies into very unnatural looking positions.

On the ab ripper X DVD, (yes, it’s really called that) the sit-ups are getting a little bit easier, but I still haven’t completed an entire workout. In fact, I flat-out refuse to even try the oblique exercise. I don’t think my body is made to move that way.

Next week, we’ll officially be a third of the way through the program, and as of now, I’m still determined to see it through the finish. I’m not usually a vain gal, but it is nice to see my waist again.

The Great P90X Test

If you’ve channel surfed in the middle of the night within the last five years, you’ve no doubt seen the P90X infomercial. It’s the one with insanely fit people sporting six-pack abs doing an unimaginable number of pull ups like it’s no big deal. Yeah, that one. It also promises to transform your flabby body to a ripped muscle machine in 90 days. I’m not one to usually buy into infomercials, but some friends of ours did it, and they really did get amazing results. Amazing enough for me to spend a few hours bidding on eBay for a good deal on the workout. Hey, I may be motivated, but I’m also cheap, and the 12 DVD set is expensive!

I should also note I’m not the only one in the household to be doing this workout. Van’s doing it too, and the first thing he said to me after I finally got a winning bid on eBay was, “You’re not going to blog about this are you?” If he had to ask, he already knew the answer.

P90X got delivered to our house exactly one week ago,

so I thought this would be a good time to update our progress. We decided to follow the program as directed, and the first order was to take before photos of ourselves. I may be crazy enough to post photos of my wrinkled face  and huge frizzy hair, but there’s no way anyone other than Van will ever see pictures of me letting it all hang out in a sports bra and shorts. I will say it’s good motivation to get rid of the unwanted fat and weight hanging on my abs and legs.

The workouts are intense. The first day was the chest and back DVD, plus the ab ripper DVD. That entails doing countless pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups. Now I can’t even do one pull-up, so I have to use a stool to cheat (which is allowed). Van did much better on the pull-ups, but we were both hurting by the end of the sit-ups. Two days later it hurt to laugh, and I could barely lift my arms.

Day two was plyometrics, which is basically jumping around for an hour. I actually kind of liked this one. At least it was better than working out muscles I didn’t even know existed.

Day three was spent on arms and shoulders, plus yet more abs. This was a really hard day ’cause I was still sore from Monday. I’ve also realized the more sore you are, the more annoying the dude leading the program is. I spent much of Wednesday night yelling obscenities at Tony Horton.

I was actually looking forward to day four which was 90 minutes of yoga. I thought I might get a bit of a break, but nope, it was just as hard as the other workouts. I am determined to master the shoulder stand by the end of 90 days, even if it kills me, which it may.

Friday was legs and back, and three days later my hamstrings are still tight. Plus, working your back also means doing more pull-ups. I hate pull-ups, oh and I almost forgot, more abs. Yes, I shouted more obscenities at the TV on Friday.

Saturday was something called Kenpo X. It’s basically an updated version of Billy Blanks Tae Bo. Whatever happened to that guy anyway? On this day, Van and I had a special guest join us.  We’ve been doing the workouts after we put the kids to bed, and just about every night Erin would get out of bed and ask to exercise with us. We promised she could do it on the weekend and she held us to it. She may only be five, but that kid has a pretty good kick! She also likes to give color commentary during the workout which sounds cute, but really isn’t when you’re struggling to keep up with the workout.

Sunday is the day of rest, so that entailed stretching for an hour. Stretching has never felt SO good!

The program also comes with a nutrition guide, which is basically a high protein, low carb, low-fat diet. Van and I have been sticking to it for the most part. We bought egg beaters in bulk, and have been eating egg white omelets while the kids stuff their faces with waffles. We’ve also been meticulously measuring out our portions, which is no fun at all. When it comes to dieting, Van’s more disciplined than I am. He can turn down desserts. Me, I don’t like to see chocolate covered strawberries and rice krispy treats go to waste. However, instead of eating oh a dozen chocolate covered strawberries and countless rice krispy treats, I only indulged in two strawberries and one rice krispy treat. Hey, a sugar loving girl can only give up so much!

So after a week of working out and cutting calories, we weighed ourselves this morning. Van lost four pounds! Me 0.4 pound! Yep, not even an entire stinking pound! I know, I know, men typically lose more than women, it’s not about your weight, it’s about how you feel, and how your clothes fit, blah blah blah. Here’s how I feel. I’m pissed. I’ve worked hard, and I should have lost more than a lousy 0.4 pound! Now I see why you have to take the before pictures. That image is seared into your brain so you don’t give up and chuck the DVDs into the trash when you lose 0.4 pound.

I doubt I’ll be giving weekly updates on my P90X test, but I do plan to do it occasionally, especially when I lose more than a half an effing pound. Wish me luck!

Some Things Are Better Left for My Husband

I’m not a tech person. I really don’t care how I get my cable, internet and phone working, I just care that I get it, and that it works properly. My husband on the other hand, he wants details, lots of details. That’s why I usually leave it to him when it comes to ordering our service. Unfortunately Comcast didn’t buy out his law firm, allowing him to get deeply discounted cable, phone, and internet service. Comcast bought my company, NBC, giving that perk to me, which means I have to make the calls and order all the stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I love having this perk. It’s great. I just don’t want to have to deal with the set up and installation. But alas I did, and today the Cable Guy is here at our home, running copious amounts of cable.

He arrived when I was dropping off the girls at school and preschool, so Van took over, thank goodness. While at preschool, I got a call from him asking me specifically what I ordered. I told him, phone, internet, and cable, with a DVR. I remembered the DVR. Van is a details man though, and he wanted details. I don’t do details, especially when it comes to this. He was throwing out words and phrases like router, modem, and drilling for cable wires. Huh?  My brain isn’t wired for these kind of specifics. I know Van was shaking his head at home, wishing he would have been able to handle this.

Right now he’s talking to the Cable Guy discussing all things internet. Once again, I can be no help. This is when it’s a good thing that Van and I are so different. A very good thing. He’s laid back and analytical, whereas I’m a pretty shoot-from-the-hip type of gal. If it was all left to me, who knows what type of products we’d end up getting, although I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be Comcastic.