He’s Graduating!

We interrupt your morning for a blog post with breaking news. Jake called and confirmed he is graduating! He aced his PT test and his flight was awarded the Commander’s Excellence award. I cannot even tell you how much older, more mature and self assured he sounded tonight. Our hearts are full and our eyes are misty with pride!  To everyone that has sent him well wishes, kept him in your prayers and continually checked in on mom and dad, we thank you!

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Tension Tamers

Tension tamers have become an essential part of adulting these days. If you’re like me, you carry all of your life’s stress and tension in your shoulders and neck. Since my Graves diagnosis, the pain in my neck and shoulders has increased. Apparently, your thyroid hormones like to f*c& with your body in a myriad of ways.

Since most of us have issues with tension in our neck and shoulders, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tension tamers. These items have been extremely helpful. Here’s the list:

  1. Trigger point massager: this simple contraption from Gaiam is great at taking at knots in your shoulders and back.
  2. Tune Up therapy balls: these little miracle workers can help you release muscle and soft tissue tension all over your body. They’re very effective in relieving tension headaches. I’ll be posting a Vlog soon on just how do do this.
  3. Yoga Mat: best place to stretch and utilize your Tune Up therapy balls.
  4. Bolster: the bolster is a great tool that will allow you to settle into restorative poses that will reduce tension in your body.
  5. Foam Roller: I love using my foam roller to roll out my trapezius muscles when my upper back, shoulders and neck are tight. It feels amazing!!!
  6. Shiatsu neck/back massager: this is an essential tool for days when the tension in your upper back and neck are at its highest.
  7. Massage gun: so these things are all the rage. I decided to give it a try. I’ll be posting a full review shortly
  8. Essential oils: I like using Chill Pill by Aura Cacia to relax and reduce tension. A small pat on the forehead or in a diffuser will do wonders for your relaxation.
  9. Tiger Balm/Salonpas patches. These are perfect to wear at night for some relief while you sleep. It is a bit of an unspoken rule that you don’t wear them to work or school. Unless, of course, you want to smell like Ben-gay all day.
  10. Hand warmers: this is my favorite hockey mom hack. I carry all of my tension in my left shoulder right under my bra strap. Accordingly, by placing an activated hand warmer in that place, the heat starts to melt the tension in my muscles.

These are just a few of the tools, I keep in my tool belt to fight tension. On a macro level, I’ve gone back to my yoga practice and stretching daily to alleviate muscle tension before it begins. Yoga has been an essential part of my recovery and my quest for remission.  All of my  product recommendations are below and range in cost form $6.00-$129.  While it may seem like a lot of products, it’s a lot cheaper and a healthier alternative than popping NSAIDs or other medications.

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Detroit Weekend

Our Detroit weekend has absolutely epic. We ran into a bit of a snafu getting the rental car, but they were able to upgrade us into a vehicle that could actually fit our luggage and handle the snow. Victory! Our hotel was about twenty minutes west of the airport of of I-94. Fortunately, our hotel was on a golf course overlooking Ford Lake, which made for beautiful vistas.

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The weather when we landed was chilly, but not terrible. Our first game was at Yost Arena one the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. I found the arena to be beautiful, but quite a bit smaller than Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota. Unfortunately, the boys didn’t play their best hockey and we fell to the Gulf Coast Flames. The irony here, of course, was that we flew all the way to Michigan to play another Florida team.

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As we left the arena, the flurries had begun. In the overnight hours, the storm that had battered Minnesota, dropped eight inches of snow in Michigan. The golf course was absolutely beautiful. Growing up there was nothing better than looking out my backdoor and seeing the pristine, newly fallen snow. Saturday morning those memories came back as I gazed out over the freshly fallen snow covering the hotel grounds.

Thankfully, the roads had been cleared by the time we left for the Mayor’s game. Again it didn’t go great, but was a better effort than Friday night. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the 30s all day long. We enjoyed a quick late lunch at the hotel. That evening we were headed into downtown Detroit to see the Florida Panthers take on ten Detroit Redwings.

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So I had a great rental car, but I didn’t want to drive into downtown Detroit. Clearly, it’s on the list of cities I never want to get lost in. Consequently, I opted to ride with the assistant coaches in their large van (aka Frenchy’s bus.). They had window decals made with the Panthers logo and Frenchy’s and they were on fully display. I had to make fun of them both for being dorks except for….

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When we got to downtown and came to a barricade, our driver rolled down the window to ask security where we should go to find parking. The security guard, seeing the logos, waived us through the barricade. Consequently, we parked right in front of the stadium next to the police van. We all swore on all things holy that the can would be towed while we watched the game.

As for the game, there were some shenanigans with a guy from Windsor. That story from our Detroit weekend, however, will take up a full blog post. The boys had a fabulous time and the Cats brought home the W. Now it was crunch time, would the van still be there? Would there be a ticket on the windshield? How much would an Uber be from downtown to our suburban golf course?

We made our way out of the stadium anxiously awaiting our collective fate. The boys raced to where we parked. Alas, victory was ours and the van was still there. A new problem presented itself, however, in that all the pedestrian traffic leaving the stadium was in the alley where we parked.

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I envisioned us sitting there for hours waiting for the pedestrian traffic to clear. We finally caught a quick break in the traffic and we were able to pull out of the parking spot. No sooner had we pulled out of the spot, when the police cruiser parked near us turned on it’s lights. We were accepting in our fate. Obviously, we were about to get a ticket. Or not… Shortly after the cop put his lights on, he escorted us out of the alley and through the roads of Detroit. That’s right folks we had a police escort leaving the stadium!

The boys were over the moon excited as we ere escorted back to I-94 by the police car. Truly, us parents were also over the moon. What an experience to share with our boys and each other! It was so incredible how it all unfolded. Hockey trips can be expensive, but these moments that create incredible shared memories are what it is all about. I’m incredibly lucky to share this experience with my son.

Of course, Sunday brought more hockey and some hockey drama. The Mayor forgetting one skate at the hotel is going to be it’s on post. In the end, our weekend in Michigan was pure magic. As a hockey mom, I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be than with my kids at a hockey tournament. After all, it only last last for a short time.

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WOT 6

WOT 6 is here, which means we only have two more weeks until he is finished!!! I can’t believe it’s been six weeks since we said goodbye. This week is a big one! In WOT 6 they take all of their tests to determine if they’ll graduate. Thankfully, he passed both the EOC written exam and clothing inspection. I haven’t heard from him since he took his final PT test Tuesday night.

In a couple of days, we should receive the WOT 6 call. I cannot wait. This is the call where the trainees confirm that they are graduating. Additionally, we’ll be discussing his graduation weekend wishlist. Moreover, we’ll be asking if there are airmen that need to be adopted for the weekend. Unfortunately not all families can make it to graduation, when we adopt an airman it ensures there’s no man left behind.

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In addition to this week’s testing, the trainees are preparing for BEAST week. In week 7, they’ll be in the field putting all their learnings to the test. To get them ready, they’re completing FEST (Field Expeditionary Skills Training) training this week. This training includes basic rifle fighting techniques, crawling through a sand course, moving in columns and using proper hand signals.

Additionally, they’ll be doing CBRE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and high yield Explosives) training this week. This training includes a trip into the gas chamber. The trainees start their experience with full MOPP gear and gas mask on, but must remove it once the gas is turned on. Finally, they must give their reporting statements before leaving the chamber. Sounds like a whole lot of fun that I don’t want to have, but this prepares them for what they may encounter in their careers.

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Since there is a WOT 6 phone call, you can be sure that my phone will be attached to my hip. I’m so excited to hear how he did on his PT test and if he’s ready for BEAST week. Additionally, I want to be sure we plan his graduation weekend in accordance with what he wants.

So far the only plans we have, outside of the graduation events, is making him homemade cookies. Please keep him in your prayers as he finishes WOT 6 and heads into the field for Beast Week.  Lastly, I have to give a big shoutout to the Air Force MOMS BMT groups for being an excellent guide this process.

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It’s Test Day

It’s test day here in sunny, but chilly for us South Florida. When I woke up this morning, exhausted from the weekend on the road, I was trying to think of every valid reason why I shouldn’t run or workout today. Truly, I was exhausted and couldn’t imagine the thought of pounding the pavement for two miles.

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Fortunately, coffee solved my motivation problem and I quickly changed my mind. After all, the weather was undeniably perfect for a run. While the weather conditions were perfect, my run was not. My time was improved over last week and the first mile felt pretty good. I ended up chopping a minute off of last week’s time. It may have something to do with the great Metallica riffs I was enjoying.

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Unfortunately, I still have 2.5 minutes to chop off my time.The one drawback of the run was me. Sadly, I have some soreness in my knees after yesterday’s dash through DTW (Detroit airport.) Apparently, when you return a rental car, you are also supposed to return the keys. Of course, I didn’t discover the keys in my purse until I got to my gate A12.

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I called Hertz, who instructed me to give the keys to the shuttle driver. That was all I needed. I left my stuff with my Mayor and booked it back to the ground transportation area. I only had about 20 minutes before they started boarding. Honestly, it felt great to run after a couple of rest days.

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In the end, I made it to the shuttle, back through security and back to my gate in less than 20 minutes. The only snafu was having to get patted down by security since my back was now so sweaty. Clearly, I apologized to the TSA officer for having to deal with me and my sweatiness. She replied that it was okay and that she’s seen much worse. So much for picking up a pre-flight Starbucks. It kind of felt like I was in a movie.

In the end, I knew I was taking a calculated risk in running today. After all, we ended out trip in Michigan with some White Castle sliders on Eight Mile Road. I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. It’s absolute insanity to eat White Castle before hopping on a flight.

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Thankfully, the Mayor and I are accustomed to the burgers, so I felt the risk was minimal. However, running a significant distance the morning after could be categorized as either brave or stupid. Spoiler alert, I survived the run with no intestinal issues.

Needless to say there’s no place like home. My skin is thrilled to be back in a place with humidity. Meanwhile, I’m ready to continue with the solid workout routine I’ve created. I’ll devote probably a couple posts to our weekend in Detroit because it was that awesome. I had aspirations of posting everyday, but the schedule and my energy level suggested differently.

So final test results for week 3: 16:51 for 1.5 mile run, 15 pushups and 28 sit-ups! Clearly, I have room for improvement. Next week, I should hit the sit-up number. The run, however, is going to take a few more weeks. Lastly, please keep our airman in your prayers!! It’s test day for him as well and this week is critical!

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On The Road Again

We’re on the road again! The Mayor and I are on a bird headed to Michigan for a weekend of hockey. This will be my first hockey tournament experience in Michigan, so I’m excited to see something new. As we speak, we’re currently cruising at 36,000 feet and I just finished the Downtown Abbey. I know I’m totally late to that party, but the movie was wonderful.

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Meanwhile my Mayor is excited that the landscape will be transformed into a winter wonderland with a big snowstorm tomorrow. I, on the other hand, am not excited to have to drive in a snowstorm. Part of the reason I moved to Florida in the first place was snowstorm avoidance, yet here I am! Hurray!!!

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The weekend is coming and that means another WOT is winding down for Jake. I can’t believe he’ll be starting WOT 6 on Sunday. Next week he’ll take both the written and physical tests that determine if he’ll pass BMT. Please keep him in your prayers as he and his squadron move into this challenging week. I’ll be posting updates of our trip throughout the weekend. To all those traveling this holiday weekend, please stay safe!

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What Next: taking supplements

So you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease, what next? Can you still take my supplements? When I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, my life was flipped upside down. There are plenty of treatment decisions to make, but there are immediate consideration as well. In fact, I had to evaluate all the supplements I was taking. Anything that was considered goitrogenic had to go because it could cause a thyroid storm. Moreover, I had to make decisions on how to mitigate the symptoms before treatment.

Here are the supplements I’m using to cope with my autoimmune disorder (as a major caveat everything I take has been played by my endo:)

1. Selenium – this mineral is essential for normal thyroid function and is beneficial for hyper/hypothyroid patients.

2. L-Carnitine – before I was given beta blockers, I used L-Carnitine to mitigate the hyper thyroid symptoms. Once I was post-RAI, I stopped taking this supplement.

3. CoQ10 – I was taking this before I got diagnosed and was advised to continue. Apparently, patients with Graves’ disease have lower amounts of CoQ10 in their blood.

4. Zinc – I just added this to my regimen after meeting with the registered dietician at my Endo’s office. There is evidence to support that zinc supplementation helps support thyroid function.

5. Collagen – I’m loving Vital Proteins Collagen Powder. It ‘a flavorless, can be mixed into coffee, is only 70 calories and has 17 grams of protein. As for why I’m taking this, it’s really about my vanity. I’m trying to keep my hair, skin and nails as healthy as possible. Thyroid disease and thyroid hormone supplementation can lead to hair loss. I am not about that life.

6. Biotin – see the explanation above.

7. Essential oils – no I don’t think they are a cure all, but lavender has helps calm me down if I’m Graves’ raging. Peppermint and Eucalyptus are critical in relieving congestion . Since my blood pressure is not always normal, I avoid taking decongestants.

I used to take a multivitamin and myriad of other supplements, but had to stop them once diagnosed. There are a lot of supplements that interact with the thyroid or thyroid medication, so you have to be careful. I have a lot of friends that have great results with Thrive and other supplements. The temptation to try those supplements is real, however, until my doc gives me the all clear, nothing in my small regimen will change. What’s next: adjusting my exercise routine.

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WOT 5

WOT 5 is here and I can’t believe if. On one hand, I can’t believe it’s going so fast. On the other hand, I can’t believe it’s going so slow. This week is the last full week of PT before Jake’s final PT test in week 6. Needless to say, this week is critical. As they complete this week, they will also be preparing for the written tests that are administered in WOT 6.

In WOT 5, the airmen are learning a lot including the Air Force’s mission. They’re learning about the laws that govern armed conflict. Additionally, this week they’re learning how to prepare, cope and recover from combat. Moreover, they’re continue to learn about their role as airman and how they are support the mission. It is well known that BMT is very tough physically, but there is a lot of knowledge the airmen trainees must take in and process before graduating.

Week of training five also brings the official “dress blues” photo. I can’t wait to see how he looks in his uniform. Clearly, I’ve already picked out a couple of spots where I can proudly display this photo. We’ll also have an opportunity to buy a disk of the photos taken from WOT 0 to WOT 6 at graduation. Hopefully, we can preview the photos before we have to purchase it.

Today was tough. I found myself missing him quite a bit. Unfortunately, I woke up with a horrible tension headache that left me feeling daffy for most of the day. Thank god I went back to my yoga practice in October. My Wednesday class is all about loosening how tight muscles and improving mobility. My teacher Christine is amazing and I’ve gotten some great tricks from her. Consequently, I used my therapy balls to release my neck muscles. It worked amazingly!

Clearly, today was an emotional day. One of those days that just smacks you in the fsa day for no reason. At any rate, I’m anxious to see and hear from Jake again. He doesn’t have a lot of time to call or write. Although, he should be able to call us during WOT 6.

And now have three more WOTs until graduation week. Twenty two days before we’ll see him in the airmen’s run; twenty three days until he graduates. Unsurprisingly, we’re counting down the days! Lastly, I’d ask to keep Jake in your prayers as he goes into the most critical phase of Basic Training. Please pray that he continues to be physically, mentally and emotionally strong as well prepared for his exams. Thank you for all your love and support. It is so appreciated!

Previous Training Weeks:
Week 0
Week 1
Week 2
Week 4

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BMT Family PT Challenge: Week Two

Today was test day for week two of my BMT Family PT challenge. Boy oh boy do I have some work to do on my running. I actually didn’t think I could do worse than last week, but here I was slower. To be fair, I ran more this week than last week. However, some may say my new “running pace” was stationary. Perhaps I need to adjust my strategy to include more walk/run intervals to improve my time.

In all due seriousness, the run may have technically been slower, but it went well. I’m using Couch25K to get back in running shape. Today’s run called for five minute warmup followed by running for eight minutes, walking for five, running for eight and a five minute cool down. Since I wanted to get a good time on 1.5 miles, I ran through part of the walking portion. That may not have been the best plan. Clearly, I don’t run like a gazelle.

As for the pushups and sit-ups, they both still suck. Nonetheless, I did make so good headway on the sit-ups. Today’s effort resulted in 26 sit-ups an improvement over last week’s 21. The pushups were a complete struggle, but I still made the cut with 14. Hopefully, I will hit the sit-up standard in next week’s BMT family PT challenge test. Importantly, there are only 24 days until we’ll see our Airman! I can’t wait!

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Monday Memes: NFL Playoffs

Monday memes might just be the best way to start the week. Fortunately, the NFL playoffs this weekend gave the internet plenty of fodder. As you may know, I’m a life long Vikings fan. Thus I am used to disappointment this time of year. They’ve conditioned me well over the last 39 years. Nevertheless, their pathetic performance Saturday did boggle my mind.

Thankfully, there’s still hockey and plenty of time for the Wild to break my heart as well. As daylight broke today, I thought a fun topic for today’s blog would be NFL playoff memes. Sadly, the Vikings provided a lot of material for today’s post. So without further ado here are my favorite playoff memes. Enjoy!

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