March 2, 2014: I’m in Love!

Well, it’s official. I’m in love. No, I’m not stepping out on Chris; in fact, Chris may have the same love, once he gets around to trying it. I’m in love with my Fitbit!

What’s a Fitbit, you ask? It’s a dandy little device that tracks how many steps you take per day, how many calories you burn, and how many minutes of cardio exercise you get. You can also enter the foods you eat each day (as well as the amount of water you drink) and calculate weight-loss goals if you’re trying to lose weight. For example, I’d like to take off 20 pounds by mid-summer, so I programmed that in, and Fitbit tells me how many calories I can eat each day—and the number automatically adjusts as I get more exercise each day. And perhaps coolest of all, Fitbit can even track your sleep! Not that it really matters, but I just find it fascinating to see how much sleep I’m really getting. One night I woke up six times, was up for a total of 20 minutes, and had 14 periods of restless sleep in 6 hours and 43 minutes. No wonder I was tired the next day! The next night, I had only three wakings and six periods of restlessness in about the same number of hours—and indeed, I did feel more rested. Fascinating!

So why did I need this gadget? Well, need is a strong word—more accurately, I wanted it. As many of you know, I went through a period of my life where I was quite overweight. Eventually, I lost 100 pounds by walking nearly every day for two years straight and by very carefully following the Weight Watchers points system. But then I had two kids, and some of the weight slowly crept back on. Truth be told, I was a little too thin at my thinnest (when I first met Chris)—my body was doing wacky things that it tries to do to indicate that you’re starving yourself. (I didn’t mean to starve myself, truly—it’s just when you’ve worked so hard and so long to lose weight, it’s hard to throw the “stop” switch.) So I don’t want to get that thin again. However, my ideal weight is about 20 pounds less than I weigh now. And I know me, and I know that I have to have a way to hold myself accountable for what I eat and how much I exercise, or else I cheat. So, Fitbit is going to keep me honest. At least in theory. For the first three days it has kept me honest, so we’re off to a good start.

I also started my Couch-to-5K program on Sunday morning. Whew, it was hard! The first week is actually very mild: The workout is 25 minutes (three times a week), and the first week you walk most of it, with a few one-minute bursts of jogging thrown in at staged intervals. As it turns out, 60 seconds of jogging does me in. My legs and rear end start to burn and itch, but really, it would be quite unsightly to scratch them on the jogging path! (My friend Jeanette tells me she has heard this has to do with circulation issues and it should get better as I continue. So there’s hope…) I was pretty winded after the 25-minute workout. I blame this on (a) the fact that I haven’t exercised in more than two years; and (b) the fact that I’m sick right now. I’m sure neither one of those things helps. So we’ll see how it goes as the week progresses. I’m committed to trying this for at least a few weeks to see whether I can do it. If not, I suppose it’ll just be walks for me. The problem with walking is that you have to spend a lot of time doing it to burn any real calories (I used to walk for two hours every day), and I just don’t have a lot of time to spare. Typically, if Chris has the boys, I’m always working. Even carving out 75 minutes a week for this workout is tough. But I’m going to do it.

Anyway, at my urging Chris got a Fitbit too. He has been wanting to exercise more and lose a few pounds too. But even better, the Fitbit has a feature where you can set a silent alarm to wake you up without waking your partner. You wear it on your wrist around the clock, so when you program your wakeup time, it simply vibrates on your wrist at the appropriate time. Oooh, it would be great if it works, since right now Chris’s phone alarm wakes me up at 5:20 on the days he goes into the office, and I can’t go back to sleep!

So you knew I couldn’t get through this post without talking about illness, right? Because, yes, we are still ill. Sam and I are, anyway. Theo and Chris are fine. Mine is still the same thing that’s been plaguing me since early January. I have a doctor appointment tomorrow—I’ve just had it with waiting for this to clear. I’m actually suspicious that it may be an abscessed tonsil—my left tonsil and ear have been bothering me for weeks and are getting worse, and it’s getting difficult to swallow due to the persistent lump in that side of my throat. I had an abscessed tonsil almost 20 years ago, and it was suspiciously similar—I spent six months repeatedly getting sick and telling the doctor, “This is weird—I never get sick, and yet I keep getting fever after fever after fever! I no sooner get rid of one than I get another!” (Sounding familiar??) As it turns out, I had an abscess growing on the back of my tonsil, and it took them six months to find it because it was hiding—it was only once it started growing around to the front of the tonsil that they finally found it and treated it.

I consulted Dr. Google a bit about abscessed tonsils, given my growing suspicion that it may be the culprit of my reign of illnesses these past months, and I found that 20% of abscessed tonsils are reportedly caused by mononucleosis. So now I’m wondering if that’s it—is that why I’ve been so wiped out?? Who knows. I do have two young children, after all, plus a job, plus I’ve been sick for months, so that’s bound to tire anyone. But Chris says, “Honey, I’ve known you for nine years, and I’ve never seen you exhausted like this.” He has a point… Anyway, I assume the doctor tomorrow will simply shoo me away with a smile and the admonishment that, “It’s cold season—everyone is getting sick!” But I figured I’d at least try to get some help, because I can’t even sleep on my right side anymore—my throat and ear hurt badly enough that I have to sleep on my left. This is getting ridiculous.

As for Sam, he was well for all of five days or so, and then he showed signs of getting sick again—cranky, falling asleep multiple times a day, flushed cheeks, glassy eyes… Sure enough, by Wednesday night it was clear he was sick. We kept an eye on him Thursday, and it seemed just like his usual cold/low fever. But on Friday morning he woke up with stuff oozing out of his ears, eyes, and nose, and his eyes were rather swollen. I took him back to the doctor, and what do you know? Ear infection and bacterial pinkeye. ARGH!!

We’ve already had four rounds of oral antibiotics for this, and I was fed up, so I emailed his ENT to find out what another option was. She said the best antibiotic for kids with tubes in their ears is an ear-drop antibiotic, rather than an oral one. Suits me! So now the kiddo has 14 days of ear drops and 7 days of eye drops. And then hopefully, he’ll finally kick this once and for all. Poor kid is just never well!

He’s set to start his developmental program tomorrow (Monday), and at this point I do think he’ll start—his doctor said he shouldn’t be contagious after Saturday night, so I think we’ll be fine. But I do worry about him catching yet another bug there, right on the heels of this one. Double ARGH! Fingers crossed that he doesn’t.

As long as we’re on the topic of health and such, I’ll share that Theo had his semiannual OT evaluation at Kaiser this week. In a way, it went great—he was able to do a lot of things he couldn’t do even six months ago, such as stringing beads, stacking blocks into towers, etc. However, I was very disgusted with the OT’s response to his handwriting. She asked me what my concerns were with him in terms of motor skills, and I said, “Handwriting, mostly. He’s way behind grade level on it, and he gets frustrated because it’s difficult for him. I’d like to continue working on skills that will help make it easier for him.” She basically dismissed me and said, “Oh, that’ll always be hard for him.” She launched into this long discussion of how kids on the autism spectrum have a thicker corpus callosum in their brain that makes tasks that require the left brain and right brain to communicate difficult, and she said repeatedly, “This is not a strength issue for him; it’s an issue with his brain not communicating easily with his muscles.” “Okay,” I said, “so what can I do to help make those communications easier? How can we work on that?” She was pretty negative and gave me one suggestion but then just said, “It will never be easy for him. You should get him an assistive device for school.”

Well. Okay. Truth is, his teacher and I were talking about an assistive device (basically, a keyboard) for him anyway. And I don’t mind acknowledging to him that it’s difficult for him to write—I do want him to know that I understand he has to work hard at it. But what bugged me was her very negative attitude about it—she acted as if he would never make much improvement on it and that it was rather futile to even try. And worse, she said this in front of him! Now, to me, that goes against everything that OT is—the point of OT is to continually work on skills to help the person improve them, not to just say, “Oh, that will always be too hard.” So negative! Where’s the encouragement? I was not pleased. Argh.

Anyway, Kaiser approved six more months of OT and said that’s it—no more after that. So we’ll see how much more progress he makes in six months…and then I guess that’s it. (We do pay out of pocket for an excellent OT, but it’s expensive, so we can’t afford to take him very much. Still, it’s better than nothing.)

We spent a lot of time with doctors/therapists/dentists this week. I took Theo and Sam in to the dentist for their semiannual checkup. Theo did great—he was fairly relaxed (for him!) and cooperative with the staff. They really love him because he talks their ears off. 🙂 Sam, on the other hand, was a cranky little pill. He refused to open his mouth for the dental hygienist and when she finally sat back, sighed, and took off her mask in defeat, the little stinker sat up in the chair and clapped at his victory. Sam!! I have to admit, it was funny. The staff in the office with him were cracking up.

Speaking of Sam, smart little booger has figured out what “cold” means! He knows the sign from Baby Signing Time, but he’s actually using it correctly, which surprised me because it’s a somewhat difficult concept to explain to a baby. But twice this week when we went outside, he immediately signed “cold”—and indeed it was cold!

Let’s see—what else is new? We spent Thursday in Sacramento finalizing our will and Sam’s trust, so I feel better about having that finally settled. (Don’t get any ideas about bumping us off in the hopes of getting a big payout—all the money goes to the boys for education, health, and well-being. HA!) We had to take Sam with us to the two-hour attorney appointment because he was sick, so we had no one to watch him. But he was a trooper and did well. He played with his beloved car, had a snack, and explored the conference room.

Naturally, while we were in Sacramento, we stopped to see Grandma Diane. In fact, she watched Theo while we were at the lawyer’s office, and they had a grand time! Theo had wanted to go out and exercise with her, but it was rainy and cold, so she set up a little putting area inside the house and taught him how to putt golf balls. He had a ball (pun intended)!

Theo also had a ball at his cousin Nik’s birthday party on Saturday. Because Sam was still a bit contagious early Saturday, he and I stayed home while Chris and Theo drove down to San Jose for the party. It was held at Round Table Pizza, and I’m told Theo had great fun in the play structure and while eating pizza and cake. He came home all gluten-ed up and spacey, but I’m told he had great fun at the party. 🙂

Speaking of parties, I’m planning Theo’s birthday party, and I have come up with what I think will be a great plan! I was having a hard time thinking of something to do for his party. We need to do it on a Saturday because I may be teaching on Sundays (though it’s looking like the class might be cancelled for low enrollment…sigh). And Saturdays mean busy days at parks, so that idea wasn’t so great for this year. I looked into the local pizza/game venues, bouncy-house venues, etc., and they were all more money than we wanted to spend. Then I thought about having it at the house but having one of those people who brings various reptiles come out and do a little reptile/amphibian show for the kids. Again, too pricey. Same with a magician. And truly, I wasn’t sure how into a magician he’d be anyway. But finally, I stumbled upon something I know he’ll dig—an outfit called “Mad Science” will come out to your house and do a science-themed birthday party with hands-on experiments for the kids to do. Theo loves science enrichment at school and frequently wants to “do science” at home, so I know he’ll like this. And it is less expensive than the other options—though still a tad pricey. But then I went on our local “Treasures” website, where I frequently find good bargains, and to my surprise someone had posted a $75 off gift certificate to Mad Science! I hadn’t even ever heard of them until a few days’ prior, so what are the odds of this? Anyway, I immediately asked the person posting it if I could have the certificate, and she said yes. So woohoo—we get to do a Mad Science party without breaking the bank! I’m really excited! I’m already looking for ideas for science-themed cake or cupcakes to go along with it.

I asked Theo today which of his school friends he wants to invite, and he immediately said, “One kinder and one first-grader: Devon and Sonny.” “Okay,” I said. “You can probably invite one more if you want. Is there anyone else you’d like to have come?” “Oh yes,” he said, completely matter-of-factly, “lovely Sabrina.” It cracks me up how he admires her! He likes all of his classmates, girls and boys, but he doesn’t refer to any of the rest of them as “lovely.” Only Sabrina gets that honor, and he rarely mentions her that he doesn’t include that adjective. (See? What five-year-old boy says “lovely” anyway? This is what I mean about him talking like a little old man! Cracks me up. He also came home from Nik’s party and announced, “Mommy, I had the loveliest time at the party today!”)

We wrapped up the week with a drive to Livermore. We had thought the mountains would be lovely and green, since we’ve finally gotten rain, and they probably are—but it was too cloudy to really see them. But all was not lost—we stopped at Auntie Jeanette’s house for Theo and Sam to play with Justin, and Theo and Justin had a great time! (Sam ended up sleeping in the car with Chris, but that’s okay—he needed it.)

My apologies for not posting many pictures this week. I usually take most of them on weekends, and I was home cleaning all day Saturday, with sick Sam. And then I forgot my camera on Sunday. More next week, I promise!

Cross your fingers that next week there is no mention of illness in this blog because Sam and I are both better!

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