A couple of weeks ago, we made a special road trip to visit old friends and someone very special to me. The trip took us back to our college town—again! After just being there this past fall for the first time in YEARS.

You see, my favorite, most influential and awesome professor, mentor and friend, Ann—that’s a lot of words to describe her, huh? It’s still insufficient—has cancer. She was diagnosed in late 2013/early 2014, had chemo and radiation, and was in remission. We actually met up with her for drinks when we were back in town overnight in the fall, and she was great. She was in amazing spirits, as she always has been, and she looked fantastic. Life was good!

But a month or so ago, my good friend from college, Rich, got in touch with me to let me in on some really bad news. When we all grew up and graduated, Rich got a job on campus at our alma mater so he never left. He is my connection back to the good ol’ days, keeping me updated on the latest with the school and professors. Anyway, as you might guess—Ann’s cancer is back. And unfortunately, what started as a tumor in her thigh (she has soft tissue sarcoma, a very rare type of cancer) had spread to her lungs. Her condition is unfortunately considered terminal. She has been given approximately 20 months to live.

The news was and continues to be devastating. Truthfully, I am still processing it. Because she’s not someone that I see or talk to every day, or even every week, it’s kind of surreal. I don’t know that it has quite sunk in.

A few weeks back, one of our other college friends, Corrie, got wind that Ann had been asked to speak as part of the opening ceremonies at the college’s Relay for Life. Very quickly, Rich, Corrie and I pulled together and decided that we would show up there to surprise and support her. We made plans to stay overnight at Rich’s house, we had T-shirts made, we packed up our families (we have SIX GIRLS between us!) and off we went on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

The drive takes us about two hours, and as we were getting close, Nora started to complain about her stomach hurting. It is unusual for her, but still, we didn’t think too much of it. We managed to get to Rich’s house without issue, and after a few whiny minutes once we got there, she perked right up and played with Rich’s girls. We never heard another peep out of her the rest of the afternoon and evening regarding her stomach, and in fact, we marveled at how quickly she warmed up and how well she hit it off with each of Rich’s and Corrie’s eldest daughters.

We attended the beginning of the Relay for Life and managed to adequately surprise Ann. It was a wonderful afternoon, which gave way to a great evening. Ann and one of our other former professors came back to Rich’s house afterward and we ordered pizza and had beer and reminisced like crazy. It was a GREAT day. Just really, really fun and happy… despite the circumstances which brought us together. It was good for the soul.

Things did take a pretty significant turn, however. Extremely minor relative to cancer, of course, but still… not the way we wanted to end our day together.

The evening got quieter once Corrie and her husband and their two girls left, then even quieter as we tucked in children and let them drift off to sleep. We relaxed with a couple beers and conversation, and things wound down even further. But around 10:30, I heard Nora suddenly calling me, panicked, over the monitor. I opened the door to the room in which we were staying and before I even turned on the light, Nora said, “I throwed up.”

Those aren’t words any parent ever wants to hear, right?

It was ALL.OVER.HER. Michael picked her up and whisked her to the bathroom to shower her, and I dragged her air mattress out of the room (Vivienne was still sleeping in there!) to strip it and clean it off.

Poor Nora. AND OH MY GOD, OUR POOR FRIENDS. It’s bad enough when your own kid is puking, but it’s even worse when someone else’s kid is puking… in YOUR house. God bless Rich and Katie, though, because they were amazing about it. We threw laundry in their washer, we borrowed a pair of extra pajamas for Nora, etc. Nora vomited several more times 20-30 minutes later, but thankfully in the toilet. We briefly considered packing up everything and heading home right then and there (it was around 11-11:30 p.m.) but because Vivienne was still sleeping peacefully, we decided to stick it out. Michael went into the room we were all supposed to stay in to sleep, and I stayed out in the living room with Nora on the air mattress, me on the couch. We wanted to be closer to the bathroom in case she needed to get sick again.

We all went to bed.

Even though we weren’t in the same room, we were close, and I could’ve sworn that at some point in the darkness of the middle of the night, I heard a distinct cough/choke—you parents know the sound—come from Vivienne and Michael’s room, but I was still mostly sleeping. I waited for the cry but it didn’t come, so I think I drifted back off.

Next thing I know, Michael is standing in the doorway with Vivienne, saying “Heather. Vivi threw up.”

BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE DID. I checked my phone. It was 3:30 a.m.

We stripped her down and threw her in the shower as Nora continued to sleep. She hated it, she cried. We worked as quickly as possible to avoid waking up the whole house. After she was out of the shower and clothed again, she was actually in pretty good spirits. Except she was very clearly not going to go back to sleep. Michael and I looked at each other and just said, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

It took us some time to not only pack up our stuff, but CLEAN EVERYTHING. Of course, the ONE TIME we didn’t bring our own pack-n-play somewhere was the ONE TIME that our kid threw up all over it. We scrubbed everything, we threw more laundry in the washing machine, Michael loaded the car. We woke Nora and got her dressed so we weren’t stealing the borrowed pajamas.

Somehow, through all of this, Rich and Katie nor their children ever woke up. We left them a note. And $80. We owed Rich $30 for the T-shirts anyway and then we wanted to pitch in for the pizza. But as Michael was taking money out of his wallet, I looked at him and with half a laugh, I said, “Leave them everything we have.” Because seriously, there was not enough money to repay them for what we had just done to their house. And for the germs we had brought with us.

We were on the road at 4:30 a.m. for the two-hour drive back home.

WORST.SLEEPOVER.EVER. I would say that I’m sure we’ll never be invited back except that we have been already. Rich and Katie, they’re saints, I’m telling you.

We’ve been assured that no one from Rich’s nor Corrie’s families ever got the bug. And actually, Michael and I never got it, either. By some miracle. Despite the fact that Vivienne threw up ALL OVER ME on Sunday afternoon. That’s right—we somehow made it the whole drive without any puke (THANK GOODNESS) but Nora threw up again as soon as we walked in the door (she headed straight to the bathroom). We all went back to bed for a few hours, and Vivienne literally slept for like 6-7 hours even after we got home. When we finally got her up in the afternoon, she was asking to eat so we gave her a plain frozen waffle and some water. An hour or so later, I was wearing it when she uncontrollably vomited all over me as I snuggled her.

MY POOR KIDS. All in all, it took us a good 4-5 days to kick the bug, even though the vomiting portion only lasted about 36 hours.

During this whole debacle, it was horribly embarrassing and we felt super awful for having this all happen at our friends’ house. Obviously, it would’ve been way better for everyone involved if we had been at home. But I’ll tell you what—it’s a story that we’ll all be telling for years to come! We all laughed that we had all experienced our fair share of puke at college, but not like this! :)

Any other good child puke stories out there? Where’s the worst place your kid has thrown up? Commiserate with me, eh?

Editor’s Note: After publishing this, my mom pointed out that this is similar to—yet still very different from—another memorable parenting moment involving children and their bodily substances. If you haven’t yet read THIS STORY, you should. You’re welcome.

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG, PEOPLE! The weather has been gorgeous here the last two days and it looks like it will stay that way, at least through the weekend. I AM SO EXCITED. I JUST WANT TO KEEP WRITING IN ALL CAPITALS.

But I won’t because that’s annoying.

Anyway, we have been spending time outdoors in the evenings and I love it. Hard.

I still have plans to get another real post or two up this week, but tonight it’s already late and I’m tired. But I couldn’t go to bed without posting something quickly about essential oils since time is running out.

If anyone is interested in potentially buying an essential oils starter kit from doTERRA, I have a couple of rebate offers available, but only through tomorrow (April 30th). The graphic is from yesterday, that’s why it says 3 days. But really there is only 1 day left!

If you purchase a Family Physician Kit ($150) through me, you’ll get a $30 instant rebate. If you purchase a Home Essentials Kit, you’ll get a $50 instant rebate. Each of these kits comes with the 10 oils pictured above. They are some of the most popular and versatile essential oils that can be used to makeover your medicine cabinet, clean your house without chemicals, and replace many other everyday products with natural alternatives. The Family Physician Kit comes with 5mL bottles plus a bonus 15mL Slim & Sassy; the Home Essentials Kit comes with 15mL bottles plus a diffuser! The sizes of the bottles plus the diffuser is what accounts for the price difference, but truthfully, both are great kits.

If you want to read up on some of the ways I use the oils in the kits, check out this post: Beginner Essential Oils. I wrote it last year when I was first dipping my toe into the water of essential oils. Since then, I’ve written many other posts, which you can check out by perusing posts in the “Essential Oils” category.

And I am happy to answer questions or help in any way I can. Ping me quickly if you want more details or would like to order something—heatherdriveblog@yahoo.com. I hope to be talking to you!

In the meantime, I hope everyone has sunshine in their skies. YAY SPRING!

 

Well, huh. I was doing so well at the beginning of the month with getting regular blog posts up, but then shit kind of hit the fan for a little while there. A few busy days led into a busy weekend which led into sickness, medical procedures, and then a trip to Virginia to see my dad. So here are some tidbits from the last two weeks:

* My kids both had the stomach flu. It hit them on the same day, which was both a blessing and a curse. I think this actually deserves its own blog post, so I’ll have to sit down and write that sometime this week. It was crazy, you guys. The circumstances surrounding it… oh my gosh. It’s something that I don’t think we will ever forget. But we are so very over sickness in our house for this year. We have been hit hard and often and I’m ready to be done with it, please.

* I had to have a D&C last Monday to remove an endometrial polyp (sometimes also called a uterine polyp). It was discovered back in early March by my gynecologist. I went for my regular exam and as part of that, she asked a lot of questions about my period. After I told her how heavy they have been, and that I have had a lot of breakthrough bleeding/spotting in between, she sent me for an ultrasound to check on things. I got a phone call a day later that they had found a 2 cm polyp, which is kind of big. They are benign growths 99% of the time, so I didn’t have much to worry about. The procedure to remove it was scheduled for April 20th so it was like a 6-week wait to get it taken care of. But I went in last week and it was an uneventful outpatient procedure, so I’m thankful for that. And then I got a call on Friday saying that the polyp was indeed benign. That’s a relief.

* We are working on a mini garage makeover. Replacing the fire door that leads into the house, patching big holes in the wall, painting the walls (seems crazy to really care what the garage walls look like, but ours are very dirty and beat up!), getting some new storage. It’s slow-going since the garage is not exactly a high priority item, plus the weather has been bipolar so it’s hard to get the motivation to go spend a few hours in the garage when temps are only in the 40s. Add in the sickness, D&C, and travel and there hasn’t been much time, either!

* I have been SHOPPING. Clothes shopping. I don’t like shopping for clothes (for me, anyway, I could shop for the girls all day long), really, so it’s quite a chore for me. But my wardrobe needs a major makeover so I have been working on it. I’ve been to the mall twice in the last two weeks which is CRAZY TALK for me. Haha! I usually avoid the mall at all costs. I’ve found some good stuff, though. Now I just need the weather to warm up enough to wear it! And I probably need to make another trip or two. *sigh* I wish I had a stylist! Shopping is hard.

* Thanks for all of your comments on my summer vacation planning post. We looked into several areas but I think we have it narrowed down to Michigan. And then we have narrowed it down to a couple of areas/rentals we found in Michigan, and we just need to make a decision and go with it. Hopefully we’ll be booking something this week.

* Essential oils. I’m still using them and loving them. My friends and I did a webinar/Facebook event last month about cleaning with essential oils. I never had the chance to post about it here in advance of the webinar, but if you’re interested — let me know and I can get you a link to the recorded broadcast. ‘Tis the season for spring cleaning, after all! I need to do another post about how I’ve been using them because I’ve discovered new favorite uses as well. And so many wonderful diffuser combinations, too.

* Vivienne is a beast right now. So much whining, crying, many temper tantrums. I think we have officially entered “the age of many challenges,” a.k.a. the terrible twos. I remember with Nora that 18 months to 2.5 years was definitely the hardest. They have a greater desire to assert their own independence, yet they aren’t actually big enough/skilled enough to do much on their own, AND they don’t communicate well. Recipe for disaster stress, if you ask me. She’s also SUPER cute and funny, which are God-given traits to toddlers so that us parents will keep them around for the long haul.

* Huge amounts of sadness and anger over last week’s Grey’s Anatomy. Yes, I still watch. I’ve watched from the very first episode 10+ years ago, and I just can’t quit. I won’t say anything more in the body of this post as I don’t want people to get pissed off at me for spoilers or anything, but I’m not guaranteeing the comments so if you don’t wanna know, BE CAREFUL IN THE COMMENTS. That’s all. But *sob* and booooooooooooo. OK, now I’m really done.

* In matters of REAL LIFE (versus Shondaland), the coverage of the earthquake in Nepal has been sobering. Many thoughts and prayers to everyone affected. The Mount Everest piece has been especially of interest to me only because one of my former bosses was a mountain climber. He has actually been atop the seven summits—the highest peaks on all seven continents. When I was still working for him, he did a lunchtime presentation one day about his climbing adventures and Everest was a huge part of that story. He also wrote a book, which I’ve read, so I know at least a little bit more than a lot of people do about climbing Everest. So when they talk about people being stuck at Camp 4, or the increased treachery of the ice fall, I can remember all of that and understand what it means. The dangers are numerous. Such a sad situation for everyone and I hope the people who survived—both on Everest and elsewhere—are able to get the help they need.

* Nora brought home an invitation she made for a Mother’s Day luncheon at her preschool. It’s so cute and thoughtful (of the teachers) that I almost cried. Plus, seeing my little girl’s handiwork and handwriting is always heartbreakingly adorable. I can’t wait to go and spend that special time with her.

Alright, I’ve rambled on long enough for tonight. More to come. I’m not giving up on the ol’ blog just yet. :)

 

Last year, we spent a week at the beach with friends in the Outer Banks. Nine adults, seven children, a lot of sun, water, sand, food, beer, and fun. Everyone had a really great time. It was perfection.

Understandably, we wanted to replicate that experience this summer, but alas, our friends are not on board with us for various reasons. Building houses, other vacations, family obligations. Not cool, friends. NOT COOL. I’m hoping we can all get the stars to align again for next summer instead. But in the meantime, Michael and I have been trying to figure out what we should do this summer, with our little family of 4.

Honestly, we’ve struggled a bit with the idea of going on a vacation all by ourselves. Maybe that sounds bad. When we went to Disney in November, it was just us, but there was a vacation agenda. We were on the go, all of the time, with things to do and things to see for the kids. They were occupied all of the time. And when we went to the beach last year, the kids were all buddies. When we weren’t at the beach or in the pool, they were running around the house together playing games and engaging in pretend play. We didn’t have to worry about them and there was very little complaining about being bored, wanting us to play with them, etc. They were busy, and the adults were left to enjoy ourselves and each other’s company.

So what do we do on a more laid-back vacation (read: NOT Disney) when it’s just the four of us? Where will we go? What will we do? And how long should we stay?

When we were trying to coordinate a trip with our friends for this summer, we were actually looking at Michigan. We’ve never been before, and I hear it’s beautiful and family friendly, with a ton of cute little “beach towns” to enjoy. Plus, it had affordable house rentals for our big group of people. But now that we’re left with just the four of us, it opens it up more. Should we still look at Michigan, or somewhere else?

The Cape? Delaware? Ocean City? Stay closer to home and just go to the Adirondacks? The possibilities—and the details in them, like exactly where to stay—are overwhelming. Any suggestions? Places that you’ve loved with kids? We’re hoping to go in either mid-July or mid-August, and we would like it to be within 6-8ish hours at the most for driving. Someplace beachy is preferred, but I wouldn’t completely rule out other places if there are alternative activities to keep the kids happy.

And then, we need to decide how long to stay. Typically, a whole week is nice, but for such a “non-scheduled” vacation—and without friends to help occupy them—we think 4-5 days/nights might be our maximum. Then we’ll come home and have a few extra days of a “staycation” to cap it off. So then the question is, can we even find house/condo rentals during the summer that will allow for such a thing? I know most places prefer to rent weeks at a time. If not, we’ll be stuck in a hotel, which isn’t the worst thing ever, but certainly not best case scenario.

Help me plan, people. Please. Where have you been that you’ve loved? Where else have you considered going? What have you heard?

Fun times await. Summer is almost here. Now we just need to square away our travel plans!

 

A few weeks ago, I hurt myself during CrossFit. I don’t like telling people this, because a lot of non-CrossFitters shake their heads and sigh about how dangerous CrossFit is, and how they hear about so many injuries as a result of it. The thing is—there are common injuries associated with nearly every sport out there. Soccer, football, gymnastics, RUNNING. Things that people do every damn day. CrossFit is no different. And here’s the thing: as “dangerous” as CrossFit is…

…I’m pretty sure I hurt myself getting up off of the damn floor.

That’s when I felt the first shooting pain go through the inside of my knee. It was in the middle of a WOD (workout of the day), and I had been doing an abdominal exercise on the floor. I went to get up, pushing myself off of the floor with both my hands and feet (like in a “crab walk” position at first, I guess, before leaning forward to get up), and boom. Ouch.

So I don’t even have a good story. I wasn’t back squatting 200 lbs. or doing 100 thrusters. Nope. Just getting up off the floor, just as I would if I was playing with my kids.

Anyway, I felt the shooting pain in my knee but it never bothered me to bear weight on it. I was able to finish the workout, despite feeling a little pain in the knee if I twisted/rotated my knee a certain way. And I went on with my day, occasionally noticing the pain again when I tried to sit or move a certain way, or whatever. I thought that I had just tweaked something and that it would work itself out. No big deal. This was on a Wednesday.

On Friday, I went back to CrossFit as usual and did the WOD (for fellow CrossFitters, it was the CFG Open 15.5). I didn’t have any problems with anything in the warm-up or even during the WOD—which DID involve thrusters (which involves squatting down with a barbell and then thrusting it high over your head as you stand up). I felt good except for a few little tweaks here and there. But I “rest” on the weekends, and I noticed that even with rest, I was feeling it. By Sunday, it was hurting more than it had, and I was finding it a little difficult to walk—not because of the weight-bearing, but because of the walking motion itself. It was hurting me to straighten my knee.

So what did I do? I went back to CrossFit on Monday. The WOD was an EMOM, squat cleans. Actually a really FUN one! In hindsight, that probably wasn’t my best idea. Oops. But honestly, I still wasn’t hurting during workouts. In fact, it was bothering me LESS during the workout than it was during everyday life. Growing up, in sports and whatever, I was always that kid who didn’t tell her coach about any little twinges, aches or pains because I didn’t want to be pulled out of the game. And it’s the same now: I JUST WANT TO KEEP PLAYING.

However, I’m also an adult now, with a fairly level head, and I’m smart enough to know that it’s better to take it easy for the short term so that I don’t completely screw myself for the long term. So when I started hurting—actually up further, more in my hamstring—on Monday night, I knew I needed to do something different. I contacted an old friend from high school who happens to be an orthopedic physician assistant. She doesn’t practice locally, but I described to her my issue via Facebook message and asked her to diagnose me. (Not really. But I did want her advice.) She said that it could be anything, most likely a sprain, but that the pain I was describing was also characteristic of a torn meniscus. She told me to lay off of all exercises involving legs.

Do you know how hard it is to workout without using your legs?

I went to CrossFit as scheduled on Wednesday, but did a completely modified workout (different from what everyone else was doing that day). “Rested” Thursday through Sunday for the holiday weekend—as much as a mom of two little ones can rest—but was in pain the whole time. My freaking hamstring was bothering me more than anything now, although I was still experiencing pain on the inside of the knee when moving it certain ways. The ache has been so bad that it sometimes keeps me up at bedtime. I’ve been using essential oils on my knee and Deep Blue Rub (also from doTERRA) on my hamstring to help the pain.

Sunday night, I messaged my old friend again and said that it was still bothering me really badly. She said to get myself to an ortho. This past Monday morning, I called and totally lucked out—they had a cancellation for Tuesday (yesterday). I had heard it could take 3-4 weeks to get in for an appointment, but I only had to wait a day!

I went yesterday. They took x-rays, then I was examined by the PA. She manipulated my knee and leg a lot of different ways but it didn’t hurt that badly, to be honest. The doctor came in and talked to me about my symptoms, the “cause” of the injury (I demonstrated for him how I got up off of the floor that day), and then did some of the same manipulations that the PA had done. But then he asked me to turn over on my stomach. He started pushing on different areas at my knee and in my hamstring and my response was “AH! OW! EE!” He had found the source of the pain. And guess what? It’s not even a knee injury.

It’s my hamstring.

There is a tendon that apparently runs from your hamstring down to the inside of your knee. He suspects I did something to that tendon and/or the hamstring muscle—a strain. But because of that hamstring tendon connecting to the knee, that’s why initially, I felt pain in the knee. It radiated up to the back of my hamstring as the injury progressed because “fluid” (swelling) progressed up that way. Now, if you are an ortho or have ortho experience, I apologize if what I explained is wrong or I sound like an idiot, but this was my understanding of the issue.

Now? Physical therapy. And continued modifications for all of my CrossFit workouts. And time.

I started PT this morning and can I just say that it sucks? I hate it. It hurts. It feels like there is no way that these activities could possibly make my hamstring feel better. I’m only going to PT once a week but I have “homework exercises” that I’m supposed to do every day and I don’t even want to. I will, of course, but I don’t wanna.

It’s funny because all of these medical professionals keep asking me to rate my pain, 1 being not bad at all to 10 being the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. I have not rated this injury above a 4. My PT this morning was like, “Only a 3-4?” I laughed a little and responded, “Well, I’ve done two unmedicated births and a busted appendix. After that, everything else seems trivial.” She said that you can always tell the women who’ve had babies because their ratings for their pain are much lower! :)

The ortho said it could be a few months before my hamstring feels normal again. The PT said that tissue healing typically takes 4-6 weeks and then you have to ease yourself back into your normal activities.

I’m so, so relieved that it doesn’t appear to be anything torn in the knee, but it’s still a bummer to be injured, especially when I was feeling so good about CrossFit, challenging myself and enjoying it. Hopefully PT and time do the trick so I can be back to my normal self sooner rather than later!

For now, I’m just wallowing in feeling old. Enjoy your young muscles and joints while you have them, kids! :)