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.

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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.

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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.


The MRI is Normal!

The MRI is normal. Those are four words I prayed I would hear, and today my prayers were answered. This truly is the best Christmas Eve for this Jew girl. It may sound dramatic, but after a month of trying to figure out exactly what is making Olivia sick, we know what’s NOT causing her headaches, confusion, loss of balance, numbness, and vomiting. The MRI ruled out a tumor, stroke, or other awful diseases. This leads Olivia’s doctors to be more and more confident that a hemiplegic migraine is the culprit.

Now we just need to find the right cocktail of medicines to help her manage her migraines. Right now, it appears the current cocktail is making her symptoms worse.  As someone who doesn’t suffer from migraines, I’m at a loss to help her. All I can do is continue to call her doctors on a near daily basis, explain her current symptoms, and have them adjust the medications accordingly.

As relieved as I am at today’s news, I can only imagine what Olivia is feeling. I think she’s kind of taking cues from me. She saw how happy I was after I got off the phone with her pediatrician, so that made her happy. I tried to explain as best I could what a normal MRI meant. All she asked after I told her was this, “So this means I do have migraines?”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As much as I hope she doesn’t, it sure as hell beats anything a brain MRI might show.

My Amazing Oldest Daughter

If I were as sick as my oldest daughter, there’s no way in hell I’d be anywhere near the kitchen. Not Olivia though. Nope. She wanted to make cupcakes. She didn’t want to eat them, she just wanted to make and decorate them for others to enjoy. So three hours before her brain MRI, that’s what we did. She was bound and determined to finish the job, even if she wasn’t exactly herself. Olivia was a little confused and had numbness in her hands and legs, likely caused by her new medication. (At least I’m hoping) That didn’t stop her though, and after a couple of mistakes the yellow cupcakes were made.

Cupcake Creations

Next came the decorating. She was all geeked up over this part, no doubt because I let her use food coloring and she got to use a cake decorating kit to frost them. In theory, the battery operated decorator was a great idea, complete with six different tips. In reality, it was less than stellar. Honestly it was a messy pain in the heiny, but Olivia didn’t care, which meant I didn’t care.

decorated cupcakes

These “unique” cupcakes made her happy and distracted her enough to say the pain in her head went down from a 7.5 to a 5, so clearly they held some magic powers.

While Olivia happily finished decorating, I worried about her and her upcoming MRI. Would she be ok in that big machine? Would she lie still for 40 minutes? And most importantly, what would (or wouldn’t) the MRI show? I can answer the first two answers now. The last one will have to wait a couple of days. As expected, she was amazing. The machine makes god awful noises, horribly loud ones that you can’t block out even with headphones.  There were all sorts of noises, but the worst one sounded like a truck making that beep beep sound when backing up combined with an ear shattering knocking.  I know this because I was allowed in the room as she was undergoing the MRI. I didn’t have a headache when the procedure started, but I had a splitting one when it was complete. She went in with a pretty awful headache, and when she finished it was barely tolerable, but only I could tell. She didn’t complain once to the technician, nor did she move a muscle. And this was all done without any sedative.

Like I said, my kid is amazing.

She’s Still Sick

Getting sick to your stomach for one day is an awful experience. Now imagine it for 18 days. For Olivia, she hasn’t been imagining it, she’s been living it.

Last time I wrote about Olivia’s illness, I truly believed she had turned a corner and was on the right track to returning to her healthy self. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. With the exception of one day, the vomiting hasn’t stopped and she has had constant stomach pains. In the last three weeks, she’s been at school a total of a 1/2 of a day, and that 1/2 day wiped her out. As of now, doctors think the culprit is a virus, but if that’s the case this is one hell of a virus. She’s been back to the doctor numerous times, getting all kinds of tests. Those tests have led doctors to once again rule out very serious diseases, syndromes, and other ailments. Since I’m normally a glass half-full kind of gal, those test results are the only thing keeping me hopeful that she’s nearing the end of this. Every day I keep thinking this is the day she won’t throw-up. This is the day she won’t be in pain. I’ve been wrong every day.

It is heartbreaking seeing your child so sick and miserable and not being able to do a damn thing about it. My husband and I have been meticulously keeping notes on what she eats, when she gets sick, and when she poops and pees. It’s like what we did when we were brand new parents with our newborn. And just like her newborn days, we don’t know what to do to make her feel better.

For her part, Olivia is doing everything she can to get herself well. Against all odds and bouts of vomiting, she has somehow kept hydrated enough to avoid getting readmitted to the hospital and kept her weight stable. She continues to amaze me and her dad with her spirit. In all these days, she has rarely gotten upset, and continues to try to eat and drink. It doesn’t always work, and when it doesn’t, she’s not fazed by it. If it were me, I would have given up hope long ago, but not my girl. She even reminds me when she has to take her Miralax (laxative) smoothie. And if she’s annoyed by the constant questions of rating her pain on a scale of 1 to 10, she doesn’t show it. Not even an eye roll.

Her sisters have also been handling all of this better than expected too. Sure, Erin did have one day when she got upset and asked when things were going back to normal, but one day out of 18 is pretty impressive. Erin’s also given up her bed, so Olivia doesn’t have to climb up to the top bunk. Every night when Carrie goes to bed she utters the same words to her big sister. As she climbs the stairs to her room she says in her high-pitched 4-year-old voice, “I hope you feel better Olivia.”

And while yes, she still is sick, we do have signs of encouragement. First and foremost, her symptoms haven’t gotten worse and for the last several days, she’s kept down her breakfast and (some of) her lunch. I take that as a small victory and so does she. As sick as she’s been, we’ll take anything we can get.

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?

Runner’s High

It’s a cool and foggy morning, just after 6 a.m., the perfect running weather. Yes, it’s an ungodly early hour, especially for a Saturday, but I am pounding the pavement and actually loving it.

As much as I’m a believer in P90X, I do miss running. There’s just something about lacing up a pair of running shoes, turning on my iPod shuffle, and jogging out the door that feels so right. It also feels very good to leave my house All. By. Myself. I’m usually a big people person, but when it comes to running, I do better with my own thoughts as my only distraction. Well, the spider webs I ran through were a little distracting, but they were short distractions.

It also helps that I’m now in somewhat decent shape, so I’m not huffing and puffing the entire time. If I was out of shape, I’m convinced this would be a very different blog post about how much I hate running, and everything about it.

Van and I are a little more than half-way through P90X, and while I’m sure I’ll still pop in some of the DVDs, I look forward to running more often. If the amount of sweat is any indication, I really think I get a better workout running three miles than doing an hour of Kenpo kickboxing with Tony and his cronies. Running also means I don’t have to listen to Tony Horton’s annoying comments which I now have memorized. Instead, I get full control over my music choice. No Selena Gomez. No Taylor Swift. Just my favorites, like Prince, Kid Rock, and Pink.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even be inspired to run another half-marathon. Nah. I’m probably still on my runner’s high.

Halfway Mark of P90X

45 days down, 45 to go in the great P90X experiment. I’m writing this while munching on a chocolate protein bar, which is not nearly as tasty as the Twix bar that I’m craving. But alas, a protein bar will have to do. I’ve got to be on my best P90X diet behavior after indulging in non-P90X friendly food over the long holiday weekend. Besides this lapse, I’ve been pretty good when it comes to the diet.

As far as the actual exercising goes, I’ve got two words. Getting stronger. When I first started, I didn’t think there would be any way I’d ever get close to doing a pull-up on my own. The first time I tried a pull-up using the heaviest resistance band, there was a lot of cursing, but no pulling. Try as I might, I couldn’t pull myself up to the bar.  Six weeks later, it’s like I’ve got someone else’s arms. I’m now only using a ten pound resistance band. Granted, I’m only doing  two pull-ups before I cry uncle, and use the stool for the remaining ones, but at least it’s progress.  In six more weeks, I’m determined to muscle my way through at least one pull-up without any resistance bands. In the interest of full disclosure, I guess I should also mention that Van is knocking out dozens of pull-ups all on his own. Bastard.

The ab ripper x workout is also getting a little, and I stress little, easier. There was a good chunk of time when I couldn’t do the oblique exercise at all. I’m still not good at it, but at least now I can do it. And today, for the first time, I did all 50 mason twists at the very end of the dvd. It was hard. It was painful, but I did it dammit, and I’m pretty proud of what I thought would never happen.

The real proof though is on the scale, or in the case of me and Van, our wii fit balance board. The first week, when I only lost an effing .4 pound, I was highly skeptical I’d lose any real significant weight. Well, I’m now down eight pounds people, eight pounds!  I know it should be enough just to feel better, but I wanted to see the hard work pay off on the scale, and I’m finally (finally!) getting that validation. It is also nice to put on jeans I thought I’d never ever squeeze my butt into again. They not only fit, they’re actually a little bit loose.  When Van and I finished exercising this morning, Olivia asked me if I thought I’d be able to wear “skinny jeans” when I finish P90X. I’m quite confident that’s never going to happen, but I will reward myself with a new pair of jeans when I do complete this fitness experiment.

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!