Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Diet Plan--A New Twist

When I started my Whole30 back in April, my friend Lisa messaged me to tell me what her husband, an Army doctor, had discovered in his search for diet success.  He started eating only during a 3-4 hour window, from around 4:00-8:00 PM, mainly vegetables and whole grains, with meat once a week.  He lost 25 pounds in 3 months, and he said it only took him about 2 weeks to adjust and not feel so hungry.

Well, of course I immediately rejected that as insane because I could never imagine going without breakfast, much less not eating most of the day!  My thought was, "I'd rather look pregnant . . ."

As swim season started out, we had practices in the evening for the first 3 weeks.  That meant we had people swimming from 5:30-7:30 every night, and it made dinner really tricky.  I had already not been eating after dinner, and after a few days it dawned on me that it really would just be better all around if I could have dinner ready (and me be done eating it) by 5:15, when we needed to leave for swimming.  This meant I had to start thinking about dinner by like 3:30, so I felt like my afternoon was really cut short, but that's what I started doing.

Well, it was only a short hop, skip, and a jump in logic to wonder what would happen if I shortened my eating window on the front end too.  I really wanted to be able to eat whatever I was making for the family to eat for dinner, because it was hard enough getting everyone out the door at 5:15, and I couldn't deal with making a separate thing for me.  So I started backing up my first meal of the day until lunchtime, and eventually to around 1:00, so I was eating only between 1:00 and about 5:15--closer than I had ever dreamed of being to that 4 hour window.  Of course, I was NOT eating mainly vegetables and whole grains, with meat once a week!  I ate a cupcake to celebrate Nathan's birthday, and some things like that, but only in the afternoon.

At first it really was hard.  I thought about food pretty constantly, and I felt like I was just spinning my wheels, not really accomplishing very much, until I could finally eat (and that was back when I was starting to eat at 11:00!).  And then once I felt full, I only had a brief window of time to do things before I had to start on dinner.  It was choppy.  But that did eventually get better, although I don't know if I would say I've completely "adjusted".  I lost another 2 pounds, which is not incredible, but remember, I was eating things in the afternoon that were not particularly healthy, and I was eating regular stuff for dinner, even the occasional slice of pizza.

Things kind of took a turn for the worse as we switched to morning practice.  I knew we don't usually eat dinner so early, so I started trying to move my window of eating later in the day, like from 3:00-7:00.  That was *really* hard.  Again, all I could concentrate on was food, and since I started eating so late, there was really no time when I got lots done!

The good thing about morning practice is that I walk every day while Micah and Faith are practicing, but that bad thing is that means I'm not doing the Bow-flex weights anymore.  And also, I'm finishing my walk by 8:30, but then I still have hours to go before eating, so I am definitely hungry and not focusing extremely well after that (but surprisingly not light-headed or any other symptom of crashing blood sugar, not even a headache).  Also, once I finished eating at 7:00, I still felt really full by bedtime, and I didn't sleep as well.  Plus my kids seemed to engage in a coordinated attack on my sleep, by Drew and Verity crying for several nights at random times for no discernible reason, and by Jonathan needing to go to the ER until 4:00 AM.  Several days of poor sleeping resulted in a mouth full of cancer sores, including one on the back of my throat.  I thought I had strep throat because my throat was so sore!

I stopped feeling so good and healthy, and in fact, I was slightly nostalgic for the "good old days" of Whole30.  I never thought I'd have a rosy memory of that month, lol.  I did more reading about intermittent fasting, and it seems I'm probably doing the 4 hour window thing a bit wrong, because it seems like Lisa was describing the "Warrior Diet", which has a lot to do with your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and in fact you really are supposed to eat before bed, to help the body recuperate.  I honestly felt a lot better eating in the 1:00-5:00 window, though.  I will say that I no longer miss breakfast, and I've even been able to make a 4 hour trip to Bethesda for doctor appointments, go to Sams and Walmart, and do a lot of other things without eating breakfast, and I actually feel just fine.  It's really going past 1:00 that gets hard for me, so I am probably going to lengthen my window so I start eating then again for the next little while.

I'm sure eating a Whole30 diet and having a short eating window would be a great combination, but the whole point of me trying something different was so that I didn't *have* to eat paleo all the time, especially as we do some traveling.  So far I haven't really found anything that seems really sustainable, long-term and during the school year especially, except for my plan of eating a paleo breakfast and lunch, and then a regular dinner (and eating it as early as possible, I guess).  I never thought I'd ever be able to only eat during a 4 hour window, though, so I have to say I am pretty proud of myself.  This has definitely been an interesting experiment in eating patterns!  I've noticed I don't eat as many vegetables as I did on Whole30 because 1) I'm not eating them with breakfast, and 2) by the time it is time to eat, I often just heat up leftovers because I am *so* hungry, instead of making a big salad or whatever.  I know I need to increase my intake again, and I think that probably starting to eat at noon or 1:00 will help with that.  I shall continue experimenting!

Oh, I should also mention as far as results go, that I have not lost a single bit more around the waist, so this post-10-pregnancies tummy is going to be incredibly stubborn, I'm afraid.  I have lost inches on my thighs, but who really cares??  No one looks at them and asks me when the next one is due!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Excursions, Planned and Unplanned

Thursday night Bob and I took Anna, Grace, Faith, and Micah to see Riverdance!  Through Wolf Trap's "Youth and the Arts" program, we could buy 3 adult tickets and get 3 kid tickets for free, so while it was still expensive, it was a lot less so.  Since Luke and Caleb are both away at encampment this week, Jonathan stayed home to watch Drew and Verity.  He was going for the coveted "best big brother of the week" award, because he gave them ice cream AND made popcorn for them while they watched "Brave".

We had a fantastic time at Riverdance.  The skies threatened rain the whole time, but it never happened, which was good for the people who were seated on the lawn!  The kids have all watched the video cassette of Riverdance that we have, so they knew what to expect, but it is so electrifying to see and hear it in person.  Even Micah was enthralled!  Irish dancing is another of those things I wish I had learned during the time after we moved to Colorado when I thought I'd be pregnant but wasn't.  Well, actually I suppose I should have started at age 4, like all the dancers did, but I don't think anyone in Los Angeles or Okinawa had heard of Irish dancing back in the late 70's/early 80's, at least not among our circle!  Anyway, I'm sure it's too late now.  But I love watching it!

Bob and I went to see Riverdance when we were stationed in Colorado Springs back in 2000 to celebrate our anniversary.  When I saw the summer Wolf Trap schedule this spring, and saw that Riverdance was coming, I told Bob that was what I wanted to do to celebrate this year, even though it was a month early!

It was a late night for us, and when we finally arrived home around 11:00, we were greeted by Jonathan, who showed us this lovely bullseye rash on his arm.  Jonathan had actually not been feeling all that well the past few days.  He had been complaining of his neck and arms aching, as well as being sluggish.  Thursday he kept saying how cold he was, and he wore his jacket inside the house all day long.  I felt him, but he didn't feel really feverish.  He also had a big headache, so finally at dinnertime I told him to take some Motrin.  I just assumed he had some kind of virus, though, and I would never have suspected Lyme disease without him seeing that rash, so I am very thankful he saw it, and that it was in a place he could see easily.
So Jonathan and I headed off to the ER at Bethesda.  We weren't going to be around on Friday to make an appointment, and I really didn't want to wait any longer for him to get started on antibiotics, especially since he really wasn't feeling well.The ER was crowded, though, and we had to wait a long time to be seen.  We both brought books, though, so we were good.  Eventually we were seen, and the doctor agreed that it was a classic presentation of Lyme.  He wanted to put Jonathan on 2 weeks on amoxicillin and have us come back "if there were any more problems".  I kind of pushed back, asking if that meant if he was still feverish and achy, or what, and was 2 weeks really long enough?  The doctor said he would actually go call the on-call pediatric infectious disease doctor, so he disappeared again.  When he came back, he had a new plan--21 days on doxycycline.  That sounded much better to me, as I have heard of that antibiotic for Lyme's.  So Jonathan has started on his third different antibiotic in the past month.  Hopefully it will do the trick though.  The big question is, does this have anything to do with that infected bite on his scalp?  Who knows?!  Poor Jonathan.  This has not been his best month!  We didn't get home until 4:00 AM, and we were so tired!
The reason we couldn't get an appointment on Friday is that we had already made plans to drive up to WSS to surprise Nathan for lunch on his 19th birthday!  Bob took leave and came with us.  It was so nice that he could drive, as I was not really in any shape to do so myself.  Nathan was surprised, and it was so good to see him!
We were just sad Luke and Caleb had to miss out, but oh well.  Micah was exceptionally happy to see Nathan, and he kept running over to hug him or get up in his lap.  Before we went up there, he and I were talking about the trip.  He asked when Nathan was going to come home, and I said in August, but only for a few days before he went back to college.  "College?!"  Micah said.  "I thought he was done with college!"  He is going to be a disappointed little boy when August comes, and Nathan heads off again to VT!

Verity was also happy to see Nathan.  Several of the other girls of staff wanted to hold her, but she just held on even tighter to Nathan and burrowed into his neck.  She was pretty tired by the time we left, and she fell asleep pretty much as soon as we drove off the property!  So did the other kids, so we had a nice, quiet drive back, for the most part.  I was so glad we drove up!  Nathan said seeing us was "the best birthday present", so it was all worth it!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cookies and Scalp Infections

Today I made ginger snaps, which I have made a million times before--and I left out baking soda!  Fortunately that did not make them inedible, but they are certainly not going to be eaten anywhere outside this house.  That doesn't really have anything to do with anything, except to say that even though I always think my summer will be totally relaxed and stress-free compared to my school year, obviously that isn't true.

It's okay though.  Micah and I were doing some reading and math this morning, and he sat on his pencil, breaking it. He really wanted me to get up and sharpen it, and I told him he could do it.  "How come you don't do very much around here?" was his response.  Haha!  Clearly I have no reason to ever be stressed at all, because I am just lazing around on my rear, not sharpening pencils when they break!

After our math lesson, Jonathan and I headed to Bethesda for our 4th and hopefully last trip in a week (hopefully in a long while, actually!).  Usually that many trips in a week means I am in the last few weeks of pregnancy, but I am happy to say that was not the case here! This saga began about a week after we got home from camping, when Jonathan mentioned that he had these two weird lumps on the back of his neck.  I palpated them and could tell they were just swollen lymph nodes.  In fact, I clearly remember his having 2 swollen lymph nodes on the back of his neck many years ago, and I rushed in to the doctor, thinking the worst ("Tumors on his neck!").  But as the doctor said, he had just fought off some infection, and they would eventually go down.  They did, and so I wasn't too worried this time.  Then, last Thursday morning Jonathan showed me a large swollen lump on his scalp.  It was on the left side of the back of his his neck, but under the hair.  It was painful, and he was complaining about having to move the strap of his swim goggles.

Hmmm.  Well, clearly this was the infection those swollen lymph nodes were attempting to fight off, and they were not doing a very good job!  I couldn't get an appointment Thursday, so Friday we made our first trip to Bethesda.  After waiting 45 minutes in the exam room for the doctor to finish up with her previous patient, she finally came and examined Jonathan's neck. She said it could be bacterial, perhaps from an infected spider bite, or it could be fungal (although we could never figure out where a fungal infection on the scalp could have come from). So she started him on Keflexand told us to go to the ER if there was no improvement by Sunday lunch.

We had a great Saturday, with Faith's last 2 softball games in the morning, and a graduation party for Isaac McC in the evening.  But there was no noticeable improvement in Jonathan's neck.  In fact, the redness and swelling seemed to be spreading.  Sunday morning we could definitely tell things were worse.  The swelling and redness had spread to around his left ear, as well as to the hairline on the right side of his neck.  There was at least one more swollen lymph node as well.  I took him in while Bob took everyone else to church. That ended up being a great decision, because it turns out with all the excitement we had COMPLETELY forgotten that Bob, Luke, and Caleb were on to work in children's ministry that day!  Oops!

We didn't have to wait too long, just long enough for me to finish a delightful book about an owl named Wesley and the wildlife biologist who raised him and cared for him for 19 years.  Very interesting!  Also we watched the reports of the tragic shooting in Orlando that had just happened, and we just so shocked and saddened.  Then Jonathan was put on Clindamycin, and we went home.

I could tell by the next morning that his neck was much improved, but the peds clinic called at 8:30, and they wanted him to come in for a follow-up appointment. Sigh. Okay.  We headed back in for a 10:20 appointment, although I neglected to tell Luke.  As we were parking, my phone decided to let me know there had been texts--several of them, in fact, as well as a call--from Luke, wondering where I was.  He was supposed to pick up a guy from church who had just had knee surgery and take him to his check-up and therapy.  Aaaaahhhh . . . he couldn't very well take the big van, but I was stuck . . . fortunately the McC's came through and let Luke borrow their minivan.  It was stressful there, though!

The doctor agreed that Jonathan's neck looked much better.  Whew!  When we were there on Friday, that doctor had noticed that Jonathan hadn't technically been in to see the doctor in like 6 years.  That's what happens when you are in a big family and you are healthy!  I always try to get the younger kids in for well-baby checks, but the older kids just kind of fall off my radar screen, unless they need things like epi-pen refills, a la Caleb.  I do want to point out that at 13, Jonathan is only about 75 pounds, which is around the 5th percentile . . .  fortunately the doctor didn't say anything at all about that, which, as I said a million times to Verity's doctors, is perfectly normal for our kids!

So he needed a tetanus booster, which I really wanted to get done before he goes to Camp Caleb this year.  The doctor didn't want him to get shots on Friday, when a fever from vaccines might have confused the scalp infection issue, so I had been planning on getting that done on Monday.  But with Luke needing the van to pick up his friend from his therapy, we rushed on home.

Which led to our final trip today, to get those shots. Jonathan should now be good to go for awhile.  And hopefully no one else will need to go in, because there is nothing like spending 4 hours away from home for a 20 minutes appointment to really make you feel like you accomplished nothing in a day!  I was so thankful I no longer have to drag all the little ones to every doctor appointment.  That would have made for an even longer, more stressful week!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Pictures, Swimming, and a Birthday

I'm behind, so this is a catch-up post.
 The one thing I wanted to do before Nathan left for the summer was have pictures taken of all the kids at Portrait Innovations.  For some reason, it was really important to me to have a group shot of all of them to match the ones I have of everyone else, and I also really wanted a baby picture of Verity to match ones of the other kids.
I really wanted to capture her before she got much hair!  Her hair is finally starting to come in, and she has these adorable curls on the side of her head, which you can even see in this picture!
The actual taking of the pictures went surprisingly well.  We drove 2 vans, so after the pictures were taken, Nathan drove everyone else home, and I stayed to pick out the shots I wanted and wait for the pictures to be printed.  I read my book in a comfortable chair and was happy as could be!  But no one wants to repeat the process anytime soon, lol.  Hopefully the next pictures we get done will once again be outside with one of our friends taking the pictures!

Swim season started last Wednesday.  We have 6 people on the team, from Caleb down to Micah, which means we have swim practice every weeknight from 5:30-7:30.  This makes dinner tricky!

Micah has been doing much better than he did last year, when he was recalcitrant and mulish, refusing to get in the water half the time.  He can swim, but he doesn't know how to breathe well, so he swims a few strokes, then lifts his head and doggy-paddles to the side where he breathes for a second or 2.  Then he launches back out for another several strokes.  Repeat the entire length of the pool.  He's cooperative, though, so I'm confidant he'll get it down!
Verity has enjoyed the pool.  Sometimes we takes her and Drew to swim while everyone else practices.  She will only go in the big pool with Caleb (she hates her floatie), but she loves the baby pool.  Drew does too!
Jonathan turned 13 last Thursday!  Now I can say we have 4 teenage boys!  With swim practice, it made celebrating more difficult.  He picked enchilada casserole for his birthday dinner, and he, Caleb, Luke and I enjoyed that while the younger kids swam, and then I brought Caleb and Jonathan to practice and picked up the youngers.
After everyone else got home and ate dinner, he opened his presents.  His siblings had spent all afternoon doing mysterious things in the garage, with much giggling.
They found an enormous gift bag in my closet and put a piece of bubble gum in it, hidden by a ton of plastic bags and tissue paper.
They also wrapped up nail clippers in a whole ton of progressively smaller boxes.  (That's a joke because Jonathan has nails that grow at super-human speeds, and he constantly needs to clip them.)  Jonathan is a lot of fun to have around!
He also got some normal presents, like a book, an "as seen on TV" flying saucer, a very difficult book on folding money into cool things like battleships and tanks, and candy.
Thursday afternoon I decided to make a giant chocolate chip cookie cake, and I wrote on it with a can of frosting.  That didn't work so well, lol, and no one likes the taste of canned frosting, so I could have saved myself the trouble!  We were going to make a cake on Saturday, but Saturday ended up crazy--helping friends move, a pool party, a double-header softball game for Faith--and no cake got made.  Jonathan said he doesn't even love cake, so he was fine with it, but I was glad he had the big cookie and ice cream Thursday night.  Saturday he picked mint frosted brownies to take to the pool picnic, and all the kids had a ton of other snacks and goodies there, so no need to feel sorry for his lack of cake!