Saturday, September 8, 2012

The grass is always greener

"When do I get to go to daycare?" asked Lily.
It was the eve of the first day of kindergarten and the topic of conversation had been about all the exciting things she could anticipate the next day.
"What do you mean daycare? You're going to kindergarten." I was truly perplexed by this question.
"But I want to go to daycare. Where your mommy and daddy go to work all day and you get to take naps at daycare and stay all day," she explained, with a serious look of anticipation waiting for any facial expression of mine that would reveal an answer.
After thinking for awhile about my answer I replied, "Sweetie, you're never going to go to daycare. You're so fortunate to have a mommy who can stay home and be with you every afternoon." I said it as sweetly as possible, thinking that surely she would see how lucky of a little girl she is to have such an awesome mom to hang with everyday.
"But, I want to go to the daycare..." trailing off in a full lip-quiver while real tears began to well up in her five year old eyes.
I gave her a look and changed the subject and the conversation ended there. Kindergarten was a success and no tears from anyone, even Mommy.

But that conversation played over and over in my head the past few days. And it evoked lots of emotion in me. I was a little ticked actually. How ungrateful, I thought! Doesn't she know how big of a deal it for me to be at home? You see, I just officially became a stay-at-home a few weeks ago after a very slow exit from the working mom world.
For the past 10 years I've worked for Barnes & Noble and although retail can have it's fair share of stressful moments (i.e. Black Friday, Christmastime, every time a new return policy was enforced..) I really enjoyed my time there. The people I worked with are awesome. They came to my wedding, threw me baby showers, and helped me with my schedule when I became sick. They really have become like family to me.
In the year after my daughter was born she did attend daycare while I worked as a manager full-time. I had such issues with the quality of care she was receiving that it caused a flare up. One day I walked in to pick her up and I felt her diaper was so soaking wet that it had soaked through her clothes. When I asked the daycare employee about it she said. "Oh, we're out of wipes." What?? The only thing the daycare provided besides some questionable care (a few of the women were wonderful, don't get me wrong) was baby wipes. And they ran out? Send someone to the store! Don't leave my daughter sitting on the floor with urine soaked clothes! I left the room and told the director we were done.
My flare up got worse and I ended up having to take some more time off work. When I returned to work part time (not as a manager anymore) my mom watched her for the time I worked which was such a blessing. It gave them some quality time and afforded us the savings in childcare so we could withstand the huge pay cut I had just received. After I had my son I went back to work even more part time. I worked one night a week anticipating that there would be a day when I could logistically work more hours again. This past spring I tried to work a little more and it was pretty much terrible for our family dynamic. I would only see my husband in passing as he got home from work and I would throw him the reigns as I headed out to the store. Some nights we even met at the store and I had to hand them off. It got crazy and it wasn't working anymore. So I told my manager I needed to take the summer off and that I would be back in the fall when the kids start school.
But as the start of school approached my husband and I both knew that we couldn't go back to being two ships passing in the night. The truth is, I have a full-time job. Yes, I'm a mediocre maid, a chauffeur who can't park (or backup) worth a lick, a chef with good intentions, a boxing referee, a short-tempered teacher, and a play date coordinator. And now I can officially say I am a stay-at-home MOM! 
For so long I have been toeing that line and keeping one foot at my job and one foot at home and not fully being available to either. No matter which side I stood on the other side always looked like the better option. When I worked I longed to be at home and playing with my kids and watching their milestones. When I was at home I looked forward to the nights I worked so I could have adult conversations without having to keep one eye on my kids. The grass on the other side was always greener and maybe a bit better maintained, too. So we decided I needed to stay home for this season. And it was certainly the right decision. But right away I began day dreaming about my new steps, my next season. My imagination trailing to what 'could be'.

On Thursday, with both my children at school, I was blessed with some quiet time on the beach beginning a new book, The Resolution for Women, by Priscilla Shirer. In the first chapter I was hit like a ton of bricks when she discussed how she hadn't been fully engaged in her life and how she wanted to change for the upcoming year.
"Only for the coming year would my husband be exactly like this. Only for these fleeting moments would my children talk, look and act exactly like this. And if I chose to hurry through them in an attempt to avoid the parts I didn't like, I'd simultaneously miss all the things I did like about this season." 

Wow. So powerful. That's what I was doing! After I finished the chapter I closed the book and looked up to see an elderly woman probably around 70. She was walking down the beach at the surf's edge with a cane, clutching her hip as if it was bothering her. Her right hip. The same hip that bothers me. Tears started to stream down my face. As I watched her slowly make her way down the beach God reminded me of how fleeting this life is. James 4:14 popped in my head: 
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 
Tomorrow I may be that older woman clutching my hip, slowly making my way down the beach, and laughing at how much of a hurry I was in when I was 33. Wishing I had slowed down and enjoyed the season for all it held. 
Given my life the past few years I shouldn't be the least bit surprised that my daughter is standing on one side of the fence and looking over at the other side thinking how green and well-groomed their grass may be. 
For this season I am making a commitment to be fully present and engaged and have a grateful heart. Those are all traits I want for my children, but I have to truly model it first. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Food is my new medicine

If you've been following my blog or my Instagram for any amount of time you'll notice I am scatter brained about what I am interested in discussing, but there is one recurring theme: food. I don't have an addiction to food or even a love/hate relationship with food. I have a fascination with food. I love to shop for it, research the best recipe for it and then to finally enjoy some good quality time cooking it. I relax by cooking the way most people relax sipping a glass of Merlot.

When I first got sick almost 5 years ago, I approached it the same way I did every cold, flu or ear infection that I had in my lifetime: find the right medicine and then I'll get better. First was the steroids, which I was supposed to be on for a weekend which turned into 8 months. Then was the methotrexate, which is used as a chemotherapy for cancer patients and makes you want to throw up all the time. Then came the weekly injections which actually suppress my immune system to keep my disease under control. These meds helped and I am so grateful for that. I was finally able to be a mom. I was able to carry my baby up the stairs without pulling on the banister for support. And I've been on these meds since, except for while I was pregnant with my son (pregnancy naturally suppresses the immune system which works out nicely for me.) But these medications are not without their own side-effects. I catch any cold that comes around and if I get the flu it could be very serious, so I always get the flu shot, which I'm not really crazy about. It is also known to cause malignant forms of skin cancer and lymphoma. I actually had my first 'atypical' growth removed this spring. I always said that I would rather live a better quality of life rather than a quantity of years, but how short will my life be cut because of these drugs? What kind of gamble is that? That's not fair to my family. So I have been on a quest (with my doctor's blessing) to try to get off these meds. It's been quite a process.

The one thing I now know without a doubt is that the food I eat directly affects my disease. Figuring out exactly which foods help and which foods harm has been how I've spent most of my summer. (Sounds fun, right?) I've pretty much watched every food documentary available on Netflix and HuluPlus and done countless hours of research on the Internet. We switched to all organic and as local as possible several months ago. Organic is a switch I was hesitant to make because of the crazy hike in our food budget. But how can I expect to get better if I am ingesting pesticides on vegetables which purposely kill living things? Or antibiotics and growth hormones in meat which alter the way the animal should naturally grow? Why was that such a hard sell? Once we went organic I read more about nutrients. Did you know that as soon as a fruit or vegetable is picked it begins to loose nutrients? So the longer it takes to get from the field to your fork, the less nutrients will get in your body. So, local doesn't just support your local farmer, it's actually better for your health. After going organic I had hoped that getting off medications would be easy, but it wasn't until recently that I really see a light at the end of the tunnel.

A few weeks ago I turned on yet another food documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend doing so. The movie follows Aussie Joe Cross on a cross country road trip while he's doing a 60 day juice fast. No food, only freshly extracted juice from a juicer. He encourages others to join him and the results are inspiring. I have long been wanting to do some kind of detox and this movie reignited that goal. I began researching juicing that very night. A few days later a very generous friend loaned me a juicer and I started experimenting. I asked my husband to join me for a 10 day fast, kind of expecting him to laugh at me, but to my delight he said yes!
His and Hers Juices, Day 1 

In the days leading up to the fast I weaned my coffee habit down to one cup a day and starting eating more fruits and veggies. Another supportive friend lent me The Juicing Bible full of great recipes and I scoured several juice plans on the web for ideas.
This is an actual before and after. It takes a LOT of fresh fruits and veggies to make juice.
I don't have a cost analysis per day, but we tripled our food budget for those 10 days!
But it was still less than a medical bill I recently received for a routine check up. Keep perspective!  

The leftover pulp. Really wish we had started composted when we started this, but we didn't have it all together. We plan on composting soon, though!

We started the fast on a Sunday so we could see how this new normal would look at home. We didn't do too much and I slept off a caffeine headache in the afternoon. The first few days were the toughest because of the caffeine, but I wasn't terribly hungry (I am, of course, only speaking for myself.) I did have a very vivid dream on day 2 of raiding the kitchen and eating everything in sight, only to wake up in the middle of the night chewing on my pillow. Yum. After Day 3 the caffeine headaches subsided and I actually started to have a sustained amount of energy throughout the whole day. As the toxins began to leave my body I had a few new aches and pains, but not the same inflammation my body usually fights.  Days 4 & 5 I even cleaned my house top to bottom (which I don't normally do, ever.) Day 5 was the night
I had a slip and after that temptation seemed to be everywhere. But I held strong and made it to Day 10! My husband did amazingly well and I am so proud of him for supporting me through this even though the lack of food made him less than happy.

Juice is so beautiful when freshly extracted! I grew to look forward to the rainbow of colors.
I really thought it was kind of funny to buy this 25 pound bag of carrots. The cashier asked me if I owned a horse...

                                       Turns out we are the horses.
                                                  I used those last few carrots to make my final juice on Day 10. 
 The night of day 10 we broke fast. I broke fast very slowly and started with just fruits and veggies the first two days then included meat and dairy and some grains (corn and rice). I still have yet to eat any wheat. The reason I am slowly reintroducing food is so that I can possibly pinpoint any food allergies which may trigger inflammation. When you first start feeding a baby solid food you are supposed to wait 3 days before introducing a new food in case of an allergic reaction. I am babying myself, so to speak.
My first chew: portabello mushrooms, green peppers and onions and fruit.  ParTay! 

The results have been pretty amazing. First, we both unintentionally lost weight. I lost 10 pounds and my husband lost 15. In 10 days. I'm sure we'll both regain some, but that wasn't our goal at all, so it was surprising. As far as my medication... I took my shot 2 days before the fast started and I haven't taken it since. It's been 18 days! And I feel good! Previously I've only been able to go 10 days in between injections and that was with a fair amount of pain and pain meds. I haven't even needed to take ibuprofen. The other night my knee and ankle started to swell up so I made myself a juice of apple, ginger and parsley. (disclaimer- ginger juice is awesome for inflammation, but when drank by itself, it feels like fire going down your throat. Best to mix!) The pain and inflammation went away within 30 minutes! That's so amazing to me! Food can be my new medicine!

The power of prayer hasn't been lost on me throughout this process either. I truly know that God has been putting this matter on my heart for a long time. I was afraid to let go of the things of this world and ask for healing while truly believing it could happen. I was reminded earlier this summer when I began a bible study on James that trials are indeed a gift which produce perseverance.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:2-8)

So not only have I been asking people to pray for me for wisdom and healing, but I have been asking with the belief that I will be healed. And here I am, on my way to being healed, with a cocktail of mixed fruits and veggies in my hand. Cheers! Here's to your health!

(I'm excited to hear people have an interest in starting juicing endeavors of their own! As with every diet, you should always consult a doctor before you begin. And let me know if you do- I will be your prayer warrior and biggest cheerleader!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beth Moore, juice fasting and sin

"Are you sure I can't get you something?" said the cute waitress. Her sweet smile was fading looking at our tiny bill and thus, a tiny tip.

She had already brought me water with lemon.

"No, really. I'm fine." And since that was the third time I had answered her I felt the need to elaborate a little. "My husband and I are doing a juice fast, so we're not eating for 10 days. Just drinking fresh juice."

And there it was. The look. The are-you-sure-you're-not-drinking-Koolaid-waiting-for-a-comet? look. Followed by "Huh...okay." I was already familiar with this look.

This was day 3 of our juice fast and the day before my daughter's birthday. My mom had offered to watch my son so we could have a "Mommy day" and where did she want to go first? The sushi restaurant! That's where both of my kids always want to go on a Mommy day. I have them trained well. It's my favorite.

And seeing as how I hadn't eaten food in 3 days I thought it might be a tough temptation, but we were celebrating!

So I sat there with my water and lemon wedge and watched my almost five year old eat my favorite food ever. No big deal. And she couldn't finish 4 pieces so we LEFT THEM! Ugh! Awful. No, no big deal.
I was so happy to have overcome temptation when it was right in front of me. I probably even pat myself on the back a few times for it and gave myself a high five, which I guess would really be a clap, but you get my drift. I thought, "I've got this fasting thing down. No big deal. 7 more days. Easy peasy."

I made it through her birthday. Served her an insanely delicious looking cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate chips sprinkled on top. I even got some frosting on my finger and WASHED IT OFF!  *gasp*

On the following day, day 5, I had a very tiring day. My husband was coming home late and so I fed the kids by myself. I made them grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. The smell was intoxicating. As they ate I made my freshly squeezed green juice. The smell was not as intoxicating. But I sipped it as I cleaned the kitchen. As I cleaned up the kids plates I started to throw their leftovers away and I noticed that my son hadn't taken a single bite of his sandwich. So I did what I would normally always do when cleaning up the kids' plates. I took a bite without even thinking about it. Am I the only mom who is a human garbage disposal? I hope not. And how could a son of mine not devour a grilled pimento cheese sandwich? How wasteful! Mid-swallow I remembered "Wait! We're not eating food! Stop!" But it had already gone down. "Do I throw it up? Is it going to make me sick? What do I do?" So I looked at the rest of the sandwich for a few seconds as the taste of the first bite lingered on my tongue. And then I ate it. The whole stinking thing. My flesh was whispering to me 'You've already messed up. You might as well finish it off.'

The rest of the night I felt terrible about it. I prayed, I repented, I was forgiven. Done, right? No need to tell my husband. Move on to a new day. Get back on track.

So the next day I woke up and felt even worse about it. I was hostile to my kids most of the day. I was snarky with texts to my husband. I physically got ill, too. Fasts were not meant to be broken with grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. That's all I'll say about that.

That night I went to see Beth Moore at her Living Proof Live conference. Several times that afternoon I thought of many reasons not to go. I was in a foul mood, but I rallied and made it there. As the lights were going down in the auditorium, tears welled up in my eyes and I was so surprised. I wasn't in the mood for this. Stop it, tears. Where did you come from? But as the worship music came on they fell freely from my face. I managed to clean myself up as the lights went back up and Beth came out on the platform to speak. About 5 minutes into the evening she started talking about how amazing the food is in Charleston and she had such an amazing dinner. Then she put a picture on the screen of her meal.


I started crying again. If anyone saw me they would have thought I was an insane person. Who cries over pimento cheese? Unless it's spilled on the floor or something, but even then you enforce the 5 second rule, right? So I straightened myself up and told myself that it was just a crazy coincidence. God wasn't convicting me in the middle of 9,000 women, right?

Beth went on to discuss the first two of her eight points for the conference. The first one was: 'We are here to be more honest versions of ourselves.'

BAM! Convicted. Fess up, Stacie.

And her second point was 'We cannot fully walk in our birthright if we are living as part fraud.'

WOW! Ok, I get it. I need to tell my husband.

And she elaborated into saying how social media is such a slippery-slope for Christians and that we need to make sure we are fully representing ourselves and not just putting our best side on there for self-promotion. Immediately the previous 5 days of Instagrams went through my brain. All posts of my juice fast and people telling me what a great job I was doing. And no, there was no Instagram depicting me eating a grilled pimento cheese sandwich. That one didn't make it on there.

So, after the conference that night I called my husband from the parking lot to tell him about my slip. Which was first accidental (the first bite) and then intentional (inhaling the rest of it.) He was so gracious, as he is always. And after we talked I sat in traffic for about an hour on my way home and thought of how this slip played out. The whole fast I had thought that if I avoided temptation I would be fine. But when I actually did fall and taste the "forbidden fruit", it was my natural inclination to do so. It was almost instinctual. And then afterwards when I realized what I had done it was almost as if a serpent was whispering into my ear "it's too late now. you're so weak. you might as well keep sinning because it's what you do best." But the real sin came when my husband walked through the door that night and I had the chance to tell him what happened, but I didn't. I felt shameful and embarrassed and weak. And I should have shared that with him, but I didn't. This is how sin usually operates in my life. It's at first accidental, then intentional, and then deceptive. It's an ugly vicious cycle, but then there is the beautiful conclusion: repentance, forgiveness, grace. Thank you, Jesus!

To finish the rest of my drive home I decided to listen to my bible study chapter on my phone. (YouVersion app is awesome, by the way. The guy who reads it is sooo dramatic and I really enjoy it) Towards the end of the chapter this verse hit me like a ton of bricks : 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

And I felt like God was telling me that I needed to confess my sins to not just my husband, but to everyone who had been supporting me and rooting me on during this fast. I certainly don't want to represent myself as something I'm not. I don't want to lie to any of you, my friends. So, I have slowly been telling my girlfriends and now I am publicly outing myself! I ATE A GRILLED PIMENTO CHEESE SANDWICH!! 

So, today is Day 10. The final day of the juice fast. And we plan on breaking the fast with our small group tonight. A group of friends who have prayed for me and encouraged me the past few years so I think it only fitting we celebrate with them. But I'm not bringing any pimento cheese sandwiches!

(For a recap of our juice fast results check back later in the week!)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Simple Farm-to-table Tomato Sauce

This whole eat-healthy-or-bust adventure I've taken our family on has been fun so far. We have been swimming in a bountiful sea of beautiful, local fruits and veggies this summer thanks to our CSA share. But inevitably, winter will come and I will long for the taste of a homegrown tomato and the closest one will be in Florida. Or California. Or Mexico. So I am trying to stretch my cooking comforts by freezing and jarring for the coming winter months. I posted a picture on Instagram of the homegrown tomatoes I made into pasta sauce and lots of people asked for my recipe. So here it is. I suggest at least doubling or tripling this recipe to make a batch large enough to freeze some. Just fill your oven with fresh tomatoes!
This week's haul from our CSA share
 A vision of organic fabulousness!!

6-8 large tomatoes, quartered 
2 green onions, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh whole basil leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Add caption
1. Preheat oven to 350º . In a glass casserole dish spread tomatoes, onions and garlic in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
2. Roast tomatoes at 350º for 1 hour, stirring ocassionaly. 
3. Add whole basil leaves and roast for an additional 45 minutes- 1 hour. (Tomatoes should be very soft and you should still have some juice in the dish.)
4. Remove from oven and add mixture to a blender or food processor. Process minimally to retain some texture to your sauce. Let mixture cool and add to gallon-size freezer bags. Label with date and lay flat on a plate to freeze. Once frozen you can stand up in the freezer and store with other sauces. 
5. To thaw put bag in the fridge (on a plate or dish in case the bag ripped at any point!) for 24 hours then heat in a sauce pan. 

This is a basic sauce. I like to add more veggies and meat. The other day I sauteed italian sausage with peppers, onions and diced eggplant then added my sauce. I also like to finish with some fresh basil, because I have a slight basil addiction which I haven't sought help for yet. It was a very hearty sauce and great over any pasta. Experiment and make it your own!

This was served over some delicious Rio Bertolini mushroom stuffed ravioli

Monday, June 25, 2012

Did you know that?

As I explained in my last post, after my recent autoimmune flare-up I knew that I could no longer continue to gloss over my disease to my daughter. She saw her mommy in pain, in tears, and her world wasn't as stable as I usually try to make it. Let me give you a little backstory on previous times this little angel has seen me in tears.

Last winter my grandmother had been having some health problems. I just got off a phone call with her finding out she may need to have some risky open heart surgery. I was upset so I retreated to my bathroom and started crying. Lily, age 3 then, was in the other room playing, but she heard me. She always hears me. I realize that now. She came into the room with her little play princess cell phone and handed it to me and said, "Mommy, call God, he'll answer you." You see we had recently started memorizing scripture with Truthcards and the previous week our verse was Psalm 120:1, "I call on the Lord in my distress and he answers me." So naturally, as I stared at that little princess play phone and I looked up at Lily with her eyes so full of hope and knowing that she had the answer for me... I cried even harder, but then I laughed and hugged her and told her how very, very right she was. And we sat on that bathroom floor together and prayed for my grandmother. She ended up needing a more minor surgery and is doing well.

Several months later, right after Lily tuned 4, I was packing the kids in the car to head to a meeting at church. I was startled to see a dead baby deer on my neighbors front lawn. It had apparently gotten stuck in my neighbor's fence in his backyard and died, but he brought it up front when doing yardwork to bag it up. Great. Thanks for that. And when I saw it I screamed out loud so I brought my kids attetion straight where I didn't want it to be. Nice job, Mommy. Then as we pull out of the driveway, Lily asks me why that man was putting the sleeping baby deer in a trash bag. Was he trash? I felt an urge to make up a story about how deer take naps in trash bags instead of beds, but thankfully that's not what came out of my mouth. I explained that he was dead. We had never known anyone who was dead before and she was too young to remember our cat who died when she was 2, so it was hard to explain what dead meant. I found us having a very sweet conversation about heaven.
"Who goes to heaven, Mommy? Will I go to heaven?"
"Yes, but not for a long time."
"Because I have Jesus in my heart? Will Jesus come with me in my heart to heaven?"
"Jesus will always be with you. No matter where you go."
"Mommy, let's pray about it right now."

So in that 5 minute ride to church my 4 year old was praying for Jesus to come into her heart so he could be with her in heaven. Not quite where or how I had planned on discussing salvation, but there was a reason for that dead baby deer that morning...
3 days later my grandfather suddenly passed away. We found out about it at night, but the next morning I came downstairs before anyone was awake to call my dad and see how he was doing. After I got off the phone the realization that Gramps was really gone hit me hard and I cried. I was crying so hard I didn't hear the pitter patter of little feet come down the stairs. Lily. She had heard me. Of course.

"Mommy, what's wrong? Why do you have water coming out of your eyes?"
"Sweetie, Gramps died last night and I'm sad about it because I'll miss him very much."
"But mommy, why are you sad? That means he's in heaven with Jesus."
More tears, more hugging, more blown away by this little angel.
"Yes, sweetie, he is. You're right."

Gramps and Lily picking beans from his garden
Sometimes I'm not ready to have these conversations with my daughter. I'm sure the time will come when I have to experience all these things with my son as well ina different way. But I've learned that its not my timing. It's God's timing. 
So after my flare up I felt a Holy Spirit nudge that I needed to explain to my almost 5 year old what's wrong with Mommy. So my mother watched my son that day as I picked Lily up from vacation bible school and took her out to lunch. After we had ordered, I explained to her that mommy is okay. I said that I have a disease, a sickness that sometimes makes my body hurt even though you can't see a boo boo. I explained that it was just the way God made me. And I said that the disease will probably never go away, but it can be controlled by medicine. She almost cut me off mid-sentence when the word 'control' came out of my mouth. 
"No, no mommy. God is in in control. Did you know that?"
The eagerness behind her words showed that this was something that she has just learned and she couldn't wait to share it with me. Naturally, I started crying. I said, "You're right sweetie. Sometimes Mommy forgets." 

Thank God for this little angel in my life who can keep Mommy in check. I get goose bumps every time I think of these conversations. The Lord has given her such amazing spiritual gifts and I am so excited to see how she uses them in the years to come. 

The past two weeks when I have gotten bummed about my disease I hear those words. 
"God is in control. Did you know that?"
It's a reminder we all need sometimes. And you never know what messenger God is going to use. So be on the look out. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Trying to gain control...

I've opened up before about the health issues I've been dealing with going on 5 years now. I've also shared about some things we are doing to change our eating habits to hopefully change the course of our health. So I wanted to share with you the journey I am now taking.

Several weeks ago I visited my doctor's office to discuss tapering off my meds. It just doesn't sit well with me that I am angst ridden over the origin of every piece of food that crosses my lips, but then I inject myself with a medication each week that actually weakens my immune system. Intentionally. I want to gain some control of this disease. That shouldn't be so hard, right? 

So my doctor gave me his blessing to start on this path. And he actually prayed with me about it. My doctor is awesome like that. We both believe in the Great Healer. We decided I would try to go 2 weeks in between shots and the 3, etc. until I figured out the lowest dose I could comfortably take. 

I was so gung-ho about it! The day I should have taken my medicine came and went without the least bit of pain or inflammation. And then I went on to day 8 and day 9. On day 10 I felt tired, but nothing more so I laid down to rest during naptime. I felt a strange cramp in my foot as I rested, but thought little of it. And then I got up to get the kids up from nap. And I couldn't walk. I couldn't put any weight on my foot without seering pain coursing throughout my body. I had to crawl to my kids rooms to get them up and then crawl down the stairs on my bottom like a 2 year old. Next to my 2 year old who was thinking we were playing a game. Then I put ice on it as my kids watched a movie while we waited for Daddy to get home. 

The pain got worse and worse until I was crying from the pain. They were tears born not only from the pain I was experiencing then, but the pain I had experienced almost 5 years earlier. Tears born out of pain, frustration, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, anger. Very familiar tears. 

But this time my tears didn't fall on the face of a newborn baby who was blissfully ignorant to her mother's situation. This time they were witnessed by children who were fully aware that something was indeed wrong with Mommy. I tried to explain that my foot had a boo boo, but you just can't see it. My son told me to get a Band Aid. So sweet. But there was fear in my daughter's eyes. Real fear. And I felt horrible. But it only fueled my tears. 

I crawled to the refrigerator, then to my bathroom and gave myself my shot. Once my husband got home, he fed the kids and put them to bed. Then I called a neighbor who is a great friend who came over to hang with my sleeping kids while my husband took me to the ER. 

We waited for 2 hours, but the girl with the autoimmune flare up understandably took the back seat to the real life-threatening emergencies that came in, so I kept getting put to the end of the line. As we waited my foot slowly started to feel better as the shot started to work it's magic of destroying my white blood cells. So I decided to go home. My husband wheeled me out and I told the triage nurse we were leaving. 

The next couple of days my foot continued to improve and I felt confirmation that my body is in fact not ready to come off my medication that quickly. I need to take slower steps and this week I went 7 days and 12 hours between doses. Maybe next week I can do 8. We'll see. 

But the real story here is that the next day I was faced with telling my almost 5 year old that mommy has a disease. 

Please join me in my next post as I discuss how that conversation went down. You won't want to miss it! It reminded me who is really in control in this situation...

Here's the next post!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Disney World Recap

So here's the wrap up of our EPIC Disney trip! A good time was had by all. There's lots to share in one post, but it's a complete one! Bear with me!
(To read about our trip preparations go see my first post here)

We arrived 45 minutes before Magic Kingdom opened. A little eager. 

Mom and I
Bursting with excitement on the bus!

Watching Mickey and friends open the gate at Magic Kingdom

I've been trying to figure out how to best share our pics and moments from Disney with the blog. You see in our family, Mommy is in charge of the photos and Daddy is in charge of videos. This has worked out great for 'memory management'. Not too much for one person to handle. But this time my husband used a bunch of my photos in his video montage of our trip so I thought I would share his handiwork here. It's about 10 minutes so watch it if you have time or I've shared a few photos below as well. 

I have to say that Disney is probably not for everyone, but we are certainly a Disney family. We've been a bunch of times. Before we had kids went at least a half dozen times and enjoyed it, but going back with kids is a totally different experience. This is our second time. Our first time, my daughter was 3 and my son was 1. It wasn't ideal since one of us had to hang back with Davis for naps in the stroller and split up a lot. But this time was just right. Lily is 4 1/2 and still into the whole princess aspect and Davis is 2 1/2 and all about anything to do with Toy Story. He loves him some Buzz Lightyear. We invited my parents to go with us this time so we could show them all around 'The World' and it was fun to see them enjoy it all with me as the tour guide. 

My mom and I took Lily to the Bippity Boppity Boutique at Cinderella's castle (reserve this way early if you want to do it. We made an appointment months ahead and noon was the earliest appointment available) It was a fun surprise for Lily and it was a great way to hang out in some air conditioning right before lunch while we let the guys go on a few other rides. 
I bought this dress on sale months ahead and surprised Lily with it when we got to the Boutique.
Saved us $100.
Not kidding. 

All the Godmothers-in-training busy at work

My kids love having the hair cut/ done... by other people. 

What a pretty princess!

Lily was so excited to see her Prince
she ran up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. 

I truly enjoy the process of planning and scheduling our Disney trips as it feeds into my control-freak nature. And there is extensive planning that goes into it. Where to stay, which park to go to, what dining plan to get, what dining reservations to get. And did you know that you have to have dining reservations for every single sit down meal you plan to eat. And it's recommended to get these reservations 180 days in advance! 180 days! I have trouble deciding what we're having for dinner a few hours before said dinner. So to plan all of our meals that far out is no easy feat let me tell you. And I certainly over scheduled our meals this time. We ate like we were going to be led to slaughter after our trip was over. We were not hungry the entire trip and I wasn't hungry for days after we got home. But we got our money's worth out of that deluxe dining plan, that's for certain. 
There are healhier options, but you have to have willpower of NASA-grade steel.
Hmm. Green apples or jelly beans for dessert. Lemme think. 

I was excited to see an Odwalla smoothie on the menu. Unfortunately this was just my preamble to a symphony of banana bread french toast. Incredible!  And I'm not even a breakfast person!

Mickey shaped food to make us feel like home!
This was MY appetizer at T-Rex.
Yummy bruschetta. 

And dessert for all was the "Chocolate Extinction"
which included special effects!
Tony' s Town Square at Magic Kingdom. Delicious food!

The 50's Prime Time cafe at Hollywood Studios had the best decor of any restaurant in the parks! It was designed to look like 'Mom's Kitchen' from the 50's. The waiter even told me not to put my elbows on the table and he called my dad Skippy! And I had s'mores for dessert. Yum!

Our final dinner at The Hollywood Brown Derby. We let the kids get pixie dust glowing drinks. Best idea for sleep deprived kids at a fancy sit-down meal! The were highly entertained.  

And a word about character dining. It's a great way to see all the characters without having to stand in line and waste your time in the parks. It's also great for antsy kids who really don't want to sit down and wait for their food, because they are mostly buffet style and characters come to your table throughout the meal.
At Chef Mickey's the first night. 
He snuck up on us when we least expected him. Davis called him a goofball. 

I wish I had gotten a pic of Minnie's shoes. They are giant yellow pumps. Adorable. 

By far the hardest reservation to get is at Cinderella's Royal Table inside the castle at Magic Kingdom.
 It's a once-in-lifetime thing.
However... it was the only meal in which we recieved bad service and the food had no taste.
We can check that one off the list now!

This was breakfast at Hollywood Studios. We cancelled Disney channel last year so we really didn't know many of the charachters, but it was a good way to get in the park before it opened!

This was breakfast at 1900 Park Fare at the Floridian the day we left. It's a random assortment of charchters. This is the Madhatter playing with Davis' Rex figurine. Davis was amazed by his prosthetic nose! 

If you're planning a trip and you are a control freak like me there are a few sites you should check out. For some really detailed advice about trip planning you should go to They have some great advice on when to go, down to the exact day you should arrive and they have intinieraries you can follow exactly or alter to your needs. I've also used a lot of the info from That site helps to keep you posted on the lasted news and promotions. 

If you aren't a control freak there are some travel agencies that specialize only in Disney trip planning and they don't charge you any extra to take all the stress out of planning (yes, I enjoy stressful trip planning. I'm weird like that.) An agency I've had reccommended to me over and over again is Ears of Experience. They are a family of Disney experts and they enjoy planning so much, they decided to do it for other people as well! If I ever give up control I will certainly be calling them!

A few of my favorite random photos:

At Cinderella's wishing fountain behind the castle.

Making wishes with Pops
Refreshed from naptime and headed back to the Kingdom

Watching the parade

Fireworks with Tinkerbell

Our kids are finally not scared to watch the fireworks! Worth staying up late!

Buzz and Buzz at the Lego store- Downtown Disney
Just a few words about how impressed I continue to be with Disney. Yes, it is an expensive vacation. No doubt about that one. But they make it worth every penny. The whole resort is so tailored to kids that any inconvenience of waiting in line becomes part of the attraction. 
The line for Winnie-the-Pooh at MK looks like a playground at some points. 

Waiting in line to meet Buzz and Woody at Hollywood Studios
 was filled with other fun photo ops to distract you. 
And as a mom I so appreciate the kid-level sinks everywhere! The last thing I want to do is have to lift them up after I've been walking all day.

And we had a kind of scary experience while we were eating at Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. My 2 year old was being a 2 year old and horsing around at the table and smacked his head. Hard. and screamed like I have never heard him scream. I had to run him outside to calm him down. When I returned to the table there was a pack of ice waiting for us to put on his swollen lump and the manager came over and offered to call EMS. He was acting pretty strange- he wouldn't lift his head up from my shoulder and wasn't talking. EMS was at the table within 10 minutes. They checked him over and offered to take him to the hospital, but he had perked up and we weren't so scared anymore so we declined. We enjoyed the rest of our meal including the dessert bar (the buffet was incredible too- food from all over Africa- highly recommend it). When we went to pay the bill the waiter told us our meal had been 'taken care of'. In the middle of all of this my son also lost a Disney trading pin under the cushion of the chair and we asked if we could pick the cushion up and look under it before we left. But they said to go to the gift shop and they would replace the pin at no cost. My friends, we were so shocked by the level of customer service that night. I think my mouth might have fallen open in awe. In this day of companies scaling back and cutting corners, it is such a rarity to experience this level of customer service. So a huge THANK YOU to all those kind souls who helped up that night. You not only helped soothed a scared family during a tough time, but you won our hearts over to Disney vacations for life!
EMS at the table. That's service, friends!

In the week that has followed our trip we have enjoyed catching up on sleep, detoxing our diets (seriously!), remembering the fun memories and looking forward to making future Disney memories. The last part has been mostly the kids as they wake up everyday asking me when we are going back to Disney World! Someday, kids, someday!

This is the mass exodus after fireworks are over.
 Get your game face on.