Sunday, June 30, 2013

You make all things work together for my good


You make ALL things work together for our GOOD. You stay the same through the ages. Your love NEVER changes. There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning.

YOUR LOVE NEVER FAILS.




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Casey Turns 2!

Look at this child. We just adore him. Oh, he's a handful but he keeps our lives exciting. I won't use the typical phrases like, "Wow, time flies!" Or "Where has the time gone?!" We know time is a strange thing. Sometimes it drags and sometimes it flies. I think the best way to describe the joy of having Casey is by saying thy we can't hardly remember life before or without him (or what we did with all our extra time. Ha!) 

He says the funniest things - I just need to take a moment to document them!
*car is "Kai"
*duck is "dutch"
*crayons and markers are "peeens"
*hummus (one of our favorite foods) is "hummi"
*yogurt is "yoie"
*banana is still "abba"
*he calls his Thomas the Train "Tommy" (I love it so much!)

We're in the early, early stages of potty training. He's so curious so we're just goin' with it. He sits on his potty whenever I go. He's also pretty good at telling me after he goes poo poo, but not before yet. ;-)

We're exhausted most of the time, but really doing our best to soak in all the sweetness and adventure that this kid brings to our lives!

Happy Birthday little bubbie!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I give you my bitter cup...

Sometimes I'm tempted to write out all the nasty, heartless and horrible things I've been told by doctors. But I choose not to. I'm fully aware there are good doctors and bad doctors. Debates are nothing new. Yet it still floors me, the audacity some doctors have. I try to wrap my mind around it, but Aaron (my rock) reminds me that it doesn't work; and more importantly, it doesn't help.

I was forced to see a new cardiologist because my awesome marathon running doctor left for the big island. So sad! Let's just suffice to say that this new doctor has decided to ignore my labs and my symptoms and trust a former college professor who told him that 30 days of antibiotics cures Lyme. And if it doesn't, then it's not Lyme. I should have put that in quotes, but I'm too lazy to fix it.

So then I asked him about my friend who ended up sick for the better part of 15 years, on her death bed for two months at the Mayo Clinic. They tested her for everything. Finally they said she had ALS and sent her home to die. But she wasn't willing. Somehow, she got tested for Lyme. Positive. CDC positive. Clinically positive. Now after 4 years on IV antibiotics (all of which are paid for by tax dollars via Medicaid), she's about 70 percent better. I added that part about medicaid because we seriously need to care about how messed up this thing really is. This ridiculous Lyme debate. It's the fattest elephant in the damn room. She can walk and speak again. She says that's a miracle for her. I think so too. My doctor ended our appointment without responding to me.

So what's up with all the Lyme Disease controversy anyway? I don't have all the answers. I think I just resolve to say that I believe in Jesus. You may not. I have Lyme Disease which will require up to one year of antibiotics (i'm considered lucky to have been diagnosed so quickly. Two and a half years in Lyme speak is QUICKLY. I know - awful.) You may disagree. Ok, fine. Just please don't use your words to try and ruin the little dignity I have left from being emotionally beat up by some doctors for the past nearly three years. Please. Put the gloves down. I want out of the ring with you. I'm getting into the ring with a spirochete bacteria called Borellia Burgdorferi.   

P.S. I'm gonna WIN.

I didn't journal yesterday. I was too angry. Pissed is a better word. And you know what's so awful? I was pissed at God. I actually said, out loud, "God, you're just a great big, all-knowing jerk!"

You know what? God's been reminding me all day how much he still loves me. GASP. I believe it. So I literally have to pour out my cup of bitterness at the cross of Jesus. I speak the words. I release.

I don't believe in luck. I do believe in hope. I also believe you have to run into concrete walls before finding an open door. I know which ones are closed and I know which ones are open. I'm walking through the open doors.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness month. It's also the month I begin the last year of my 20's. It's only getting better from here!

If you'd like to honor this month by becoming a bit more informed about Lyme Disease and the surrounding debate in the medical community, you can watch a documentary for free on Hulu called "Under Our Skin."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Healing

I've made a clear decision. Healing for me is not based on what tomorrow will be like. Nor is it based on how I was yesterday. It's about today and now. Today I feel amazing! My body feels a bazillion times more "healed" than yesterday or the day before. But I don't want to compare it. I just want to celebrate TODAY, because today is a gift.

I'm at a crossroads. I'm in the middle of this journey which is quite arguably the HARDEST part. My dear friend Anne reminded me that the Israelites were at this very spot in the Jordan River (are you as thankful as I am for friends who are inspired to say the right thing at the right time?!) The Israelites started to collect stones when they reached the middle of the river. At this point in their grueling journey, they wondered how they could ever cross and make it to the promised land God had commanded to them.

Joshua gathered a representative from each of the twelve tribes to collect twelve stones (one each.) God made a way for His people to cross raging waters. He opened it up for them to walk on dry ground. And then after they crossed, He set it flowing again. They could look back both literally and figuratively on what God had done! He made the impossible possible.

Joshua 4:21-24

Then Joshua said to the Israelites, "In the future your children will ask, 'What do these stones mean?' Then you can tell them, 'This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' For the LORD your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and He kept it dry until you were all across, just as He did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORDS hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever."

God makes a way. I'm asking Him to show me my stones because I want to collect them to have the most honoring and worthy sacrifice ready to give Him for His incredible goodness and faithfulness. What a story I will have to share when my children and my children's children ask what these "stones" mean!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Living

Im living. I'm still having my fair share of "am I really living this Lyme disease nightmare?" moments. But I'm also choosing to live. Sometimes it's a success and sometimes it's a failure and I have a breakdown.

I've been meditating on the song "Rewrite This Tragedy" by Sara Groves. I can't find a video link for it, but its worth a listen.

I'm continuing to lose about 2 lbs a week which I'm very frustrated about. It's not healthy weight loss. Meal planning stresses me out because I'm limited on what I can eat. I'm just doing what I can and trying so hard to stay positive! I'm showing improvement on my anti malarial med that's treating my babesia. My balance has significantly improved just after 4 weeks on that. I hate taking drugs but its working. I'm sticking with it. By month six (I'm just past the two month treatment mark) I'll be off ALL antibiotics and on a strict herbal and supplement protocol. I'm already excited for that 6 month mark!!

Parenting is really wonderful AND really hard. It's extra hard with a chronic illness.. But as my friend reminds me (young mother of 2) who is fighting a brain tumor: "I have not lost my praaaaaise!!" I seriously had to make a Brooklyn tabernacle choir pandora station. Sometimes you just need the gospel music. It takes me to a place of praise.

Casey is turning into such a little boy (no longer baby!!) He's saying a lot of words...beesh (beach), doggie, up, MOM!!!, night-night, and counts 1,2,3. He can make so many animal sounds and loves to read. He loves this book we read in Hawaiian. Cracks me up. Our little island boy. :-) And in case you wondered, I'm absolutely positive I butcher the Hawaiian language when I attempt to speak it.

He's into EVERYTHING. Notice the emphasis. Not an exaggeration. Promise. He also eats none stop. I can hardly keep up!

We just got back from a week on Kauai with the Meredith family. My favorite
island by far! But I hated the wild roosters. Obnoxious. Even still, it's the most exotic and beautiful place. I just stood amazed at Gods creation.

Here are some pictures from our adventure!













Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I wish I had something interesting to say

.....but I don't have much! I just felt the need to blog. I've been journaling a lot lately which is something I haven't ever done until recently. For me, it's important to document my feelings, experiences and thoughts as I move through this new way of life being my "new normal." It's been amazing to pour my heart out to God privately. I know I'll treasure these writings years down the road.

I had an interesting thing happen to me this week. I know this might sound weird (considering that I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in February) but I  JUST - like....JUST let it sink in. I actually wrote in my journal that I'm allowing the presence of Jesus to wash over me as I accept that I have Lyme Disease - and something I'll have to manage for the rest of my life. I had more testing done, which my doctor initially found thorough and helpful, but - bless him - now he's thinking we really didn't even need to do it because guess what (?!) it all came back positive again. Duh. In fact, my western blot test started showing more Lyme specific positive bands thanks to treatment drawing out those awful antibodies. Gosh, I know so many people (you know, my millions of blog readers because I'm a super interesting writer, ha ha ha) probably have no idea what this even means, but I'm blogging about it anyway. It just makes me feel better, ok? For pete's sake, I tested positive on an ELISA screening. I was told by one of the leading researchers in Lyme Disease that this is so incredibly rare because typically people get a negative on that screening (with a high likelihood of it being a false negative.) So if you see me, just smack me on the head, alright? Wait, don't do that. Hug me instead. Or tell me that you love me and that I'm gonna be OK.

I'm SCARED. Eeek. I put that in all caps. It's true. I'm scared about the future even though I know who holds it. I need patience. I think God gave me Aaron because (as I've said a million times in this blog before) he has the patience of a saint. Seriously. It astounds me. But even he's been struggling. This is hard. We want a quick fix. We want a cure. We want to know how I'll be one month, 2 years, 10 years from now. But we don't know. I will say this though, I had three really good days in a row this week. YAY! And my cardiologist (yep, got a new one of those thanks to my sick, skippy/palpitating heart) has told me I must exercise to block the over-production of this stress hormone my brain is telling my body to produce because of chronic Lyme. Apparently that's what's messing up my heart. Good to know! So, I actually went on a run yesterday with Aaron. It was pretty short, and slow....aaaaand rough, but I did it. My cool marathon-running cardiologist told me that exercise does the same thing beta blockers do to regulate a person's heart. Who knew? And he told me I need to be signed up for a triathlon by next year. Ohhhhh, my very optimistic cardiologist, you are one funny man! But hey, anything can happen.

We want more children. Really, we desperately want more children (and Aaron would appreciate a little more, um, practicing - as would I.) Thank you very much, FATIGUE! It's not that we can't physically have more children, but who knows? Maybe we can or maybe we can't? We have no reason to think that would be true but only God knows. We got pregnant with Casey like BAM fast. We thought for a second about having a baby and I was pregnant. My Lyme doctor said that when the time is right, he encourages us to grow our family. I'll have to take medicine to keep the bacteria from crossing the placenta. And speaking of, if you're wondering about Casey being at risk, I need to save that for another blog post. But in short, it's not something we're losing sleep over at this moment. And hopefully never will.

I've never shared this before, but I had a miscarriage in September of last year. It was super early. So early that we only got excited for two days. But it still sucked. Gosh, it feels good just sharing that here. I know so many women have had miscarriages. And I've wondered from time to time how different things would be right now if I were pregnant (and due in May.) Would I have found out about the Lyme? Would I be worse? I certainly couldn't have started treatment since all the stuff I'm currently on would be absolutely incompatible with pregnancy.

Life is hard and messy sometimes. But God uses messy people so I'm excited. Is that strange? What can I DO for YOU, God? Use messy 'ol me. I'm still here for a reason, walkin' around all Lyme-infested (ew.)

Please use this to your glory.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

T to the I to the R to the E to the D

I'm so tired. Tired of feeling like I constantly have the flu.

Thank goodness I have this boy to make me smile.

Oh dear Lord, please deliver me from this suffering!!!!!

And on a totally different note, our bathroom is being ripped apart and rebuilt. I'm taking "showers" in my swimsuit...in the backyard, folks. Nothing like living in Hawaii. Here's your picture: sickly woman, shaving and swinging her head around with suds all over. I refuse to skip a day shaving my arm pits. I don't care who sees! I don't care who stares! I'm shaving!!!!

This post needed some comic relief.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Forgiveness

Casey woke up crying from his nap yesterday and I cried too. I don't know why exactly this happened yesterday but it hit me really hard that I just needed him to know how sorry I am. Sorry that I didn't hold him enough when he was a baby. Sorry that I let him cry longer than I should have. Sorry that I lost my patience. Sorry that I didn't know I had Lyme sooner so I could get better quicker. Sorry that I've forgotten so much, so deep in brain fog. Sorry that my body couldn't and sometimes can't be the mommy my heart longs to be. I need grace - especially from a 21 month old. He doesn't deserve a half-there mommy.

And he gives it. Oh my sweet boy. You hug me and kiss me and I know if you could, you'd say, "it's ok, mommy. I love you!"

I'm doing my best and facing my grief. I'm letting Jesus simply wash over me. I audibly say, "Jesus, come and take what I can't fight." I can't battle this in my flesh. I physically relax my muscles as I speak
these words.

GREATER is He who is in me. Greater is He.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Progress

I never thought i'd consider worsening symptoms "progress." To put it simply, I'm so sick. No, I've never had cancer, but I'm convinced this has got to be the closest thing. Awful! I spent an hour on the phone yesterday with my md in Seattle. He's the best. I'd be at a loss without him.

Following two seizure-like episodes and worsening of my cardiac symptoms, I was about as close as I could be to checking myself into the hospital. I don't want to die from a stupid tick bite!

My md switched my meds around a bit. He also added in my treatment for Babesia, a complex coinfection of Lyme which is also transmitted via the tick bite. Am I allowed to say this is hell? This post is not about to be overly spiritual.

Aaron is amazing right now. Enough said. Believe me when I say we GET what it meant when we said, "in sickness and in health." Thank you, Jesus, for this man. Casey is still unaware and I count it as a blessing.

This is my life right now. A roller coaster minute by minute. Sometimes up, sometimes down. But I'd rather be on the roller coaster because you gotta hop on before you can get off.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

One day at a time

You repair all that we have torn apart and
You unveil a new beginning in our hearts and
We stand grateful for all that has been left behind and
All that goes before us

You've got all things suspended
All things connected
Nothing was forgotten
'Cause your love is perfect
You are our healer
And you know what's broken
And we're not a mystery to you

We will dance 'cause you restore the wasted years and
You will sing over all our coming fears and
We'll stand grateful for all that has been left behind and all that goes before us

Lord, you mend the breech
And you break every fetter
You give us your best, but what we thought was better
And you are to be praised
You are to be praised

I sang these very lyrics about 10 years ago. They were powerful to me then, but even more now. I love how God uses things in our past that had one meaning, to use them in our present with a new perspective.

I just want to update that I have been given a very complex diagnosis (Lyme Disease) for which testing is very unreliable. I did test positive on what is referred to as a culture test. It means that my blood, when presented with the borellia burgdorferi bacteria (aka Lyme Disease), produced an extremely strong reaction. This diagnostic tool along with my symptoms, exposure risk to ticks and other very specific clinical markers has brought me to this place. I'm on a very intense antibiotic treatment that is making my symptoms worse before getting better. This crap is no joke. I'm having tremors, massive fatigue and my loss of balance and heart irregularities have gotten even worse. The treatment is basically "burning" this unwelcomed invader from my body.

It's a bit surreal. For one, I don't look sick! Lyme is very tricky. One moment I can function and then the next, i'm down for the count. It's literally that crazy of a disease. For the first time, I had a doctor pull ALL of my health problems into one pile and give me a diagnosis that's responsible for all of them.

I'm thankful to my ND in Hawaii who back in October even had the slightest knowledge about Lyme Disease and suggested it to me as a possibility. I'm also indebted to my dear friend Anne in Virginia for her prayer and for pushing me to dig deeper even when I wanted to ignore such a frightening disease. After all, I did first get sick in Virginia which has a massive tick population. We did a lot of hiking and camping - which I don't regret. Though I certainly wish this hadn't been the outcome. I am pleased, though, to learn that pregnancy wasn't responsible for my deteriorating health. At the time, it made sense to believe pregnancy could cause such debilitating symptoms. But I knew in my heart I was sick and something has been very, very wrong.

I believe I'm already healed. Truly. My body just needs to catch up with my spirit! I've been prayed over in ways I've never known before and God's will is for me to be healed.

But as for today, I'm truly too sick to fly, let alone fly alone and I cancelled my flight. Aaron decided yesterday to fly out here next week and we'll be able to attend our grandpa Dupar's memorial service. This decision came very timely as I didn't know last night how bad I'd feel today. The whole family will be together! Aaron will fly back to Hawaii with Me and Casey on March 11. I'm so relieved to not have to fly alone! Six hours is long even for a healthy person.

I trust my doctor here in Seattle. I hate my treatment but I know it's a must. I've struggled the most with the pain of precious healthy years lost. Years that I wanted to spend completely wrapped up in my beautiful son. But God will restore the wasted years and I proclaim that his goodness will be multiplied. This is our God.

Monday, February 11, 2013

NOT about me...

Why is it that I still manage to convince myself sometimes that parenting is all about me? What I can do, what I can't do; what I think Casey should be or should not be doing; what my day will look like, etc. And then I get days like today to remind me that it's NOT about me. Sigh...deep breath in...deep breath out.

Casey has been waking up at about 5 a.m. lately. It seems that it just keeps getting earlier and earlier. On the bright side, he'll stay in his crib talking to himself until 7. I know, crazy right? I mean, what on EARTH is he doing?? Talking to his teddy bears, i'm sure. He has one named "Buckley" whom he got for Christmas. Poor Buckley already has one arm falling off. Casey LOVES Buckley and we often catch him chatting away with him. It's pretty cute. But, 5 a.m. wake ups?? Not cute, son.

Oh. And guess what earlier wake-up's mean? They mean a cranky, emotional 20 month old by 10 a.m. Today I realized that I was frustrated with him for really stupid reasons. For instance, I was grumbling to myself that it makes me feel exhausted when he's grumpy by 10 a.m. It NEVER OCCURED TO ME that my son might just need to lay down for a morning nap. Since Casey was about 13 months, he's been only take one long nap a day in the afternoon. We'll eat lunch around noon and then he'll go down around 12:45 and sleep until 2:30 or sometimes as late as 3:30. Case is a very active child so he's worn out by the time he lays down! I guess I just get so caught up in the awesomeness of this routine that this morning, it truly inconvenienced me that he was so grumpy. I ended up giving him lunch at 11 in which he ate all of two bites before throwing it on the floor. I'd had about enough, so I took him right out of his chair and put him to bed. He was out in minutes.

So thus brings me to where i'm at now - Drinking a very full mug of "humble tea." Parenting certainly sharpens me. It also reveals my own personal short-comings. But i'm actually glad it does. I need it!

I'm learning that I need to be OK with a schedule change. I'm also learning that my son's needs can only be met by me. WHOA. Huge, but incredibly wonderful responsibility! He's totally dependent on me. Today he needed a morning nap and I need to respond better to his cues. Tomorrow, he might still wake up at 5 a.m. and be fine until his usual nap time. Who knows?? Life with a toddler is so unpredictable and sure is a wild ride!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Heaviness and Light

We've just come out of such a wonderful week with my parents visiting from Washington and I don't think I can adequately describe just how much fun we had. My parents sure know how to relax as well as have fun! Casey loved having their attention and he suckered them into reading about a billion books. We absolutely love that our boy is a book fanatic! He's learning new things by the day and continues to amaze us and bring us joy.

While my parents were here, we recieved the sad news that Grandpa Dupar had passed away (Aaron's mom's dad.) We knew his health had been declining over the past few months, but the timing and news of his death still came as a bit of a surprise. It was nice to have my parents here to bring comfort. It's in those moments that you're never prepared for the emotions and it's one of the toughest times to live far away from family.

Grandpa Dupar was an amazing funny and gentle man. He could tell so many stories and keep us all laughing. Christmas 2011 was was a time we'll never forget. All of us were together! All of Aaron's family and even my family flew down to Palm Desert, California for a sunny Christmas. Casey was only 6 months old and looking back, that time together will bless our lives forever.

Grandpa's memorial/celebration of life will be in early March. While we want to be there, the timing is a challenge for us. So we will be there in spirit.

Casey and I will actually be flying out to Seattle in mid-February for two weeks. We will use this time to connect with family. And after much consideration, prayer and thought, I will also be seeing a specialist in Seattle regarding my unexplained symptoms. I'm not sure how many of you read my last post (and/or the comments) but a dear friend of mine from Virginia had suggested possible Lyme Disease. It struck me as interesting because that was the first thing my ND here on the island had brought up back in September. Obviously having grown up in Washington, I have heard of Lyme Disease but I didn't know much about it. So back in September, I was given the CDC approved antibody test which came back negative. I guess I just blew it off as another thing to check off the list. But then both my ND and MD here started to explain to me that the test is inaccurate 60-70% of the time for something called Chronic Lyme Disease (advanced stages.) After revisiting the possibility, I have been advised to seek a thorough examination by a Lyme literate MD in Seattle (there are no LLMD's on the islands). I'm taking a series of very specific tests but will also be evaluated clinically to determine what is going on. All of that to say, I have clearly been chasing down a lot of rabbit holes so I have no idea what will come of this, but there is no doubt that my symptoms are almost creepily (if that's a word!) similar to Chronic Lyme Disease. There are a lot of misunderstandings about this disease which makes the diagnosis all the more frustrating and difficult, but there's no doubt that it exists and that it is thought to affect thousands - if not millions - of people around the world and many of whom are misdiagnosed with things like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromayalgia. I'm grateful and confident that either way, I believe this extremely competent specialist will be able to help me determine what it is I've ben suffering from. I can never lose hope.

If anyone is interested in reading about Lyme Disease and other ticke borne diseases, you can visit this link for very useful information: http://www.thehealingartspartnership.net/lyme-disease_misconceptions.htm

As I said, this could prove to be just yet another thing I check off the list, but it's important to either diagnose it or rule it out. So i'm going with my gut (the Holy Spirit) and am going down this path. Yes, i'm nervous. Yes, I have many questions. Daily I remind myself that God knows every single detail about me (and all of us! Whether we like it or not.) EVERY LITTLE THING. While that means He knows every good or nasty thought we have, it's also comforting to know that God knows what is ailing me and I believe He's guiding each step i'm taking. With the support of my loving family, this is happening.

To my praying friends, would you please join us and lift up this process? We are giving it over to God. We are tired of searching, wondering, confusion, helplessness and more. I say "we" because chronic illness affects everyone closely connected to the person suffering. But in truth, I can proclaim God's faithfulness through it all. I have been stretched, am being transformed and in my heart, i'm better because of it. Even in the heaviness of life...the loss of a loved one, the pain of illness....there is still joy, hope and light.

I will not be sharing about this process publically via facebook and will only be sharing these personal details here. But outside of seeing the specialist and spending precious time with family, I certainly would love to catch up with friends.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The "chronic" challenge.

I'm taking a big, deep breath here because i'm about to write some very personal things. For those who suffer from unexplained illness, there are many challenges and frustrations that come with it. I could list all of them here, but that list would be long so I won't! I'm just going to high-light one of those (in my opinion) significant challenges that I believe impacts everyone with a chronic illness, and also their families.

False hope.

I have seen many doctors. I have also seen and/or spoken with/read about many alternative doctors. I do believe in natural medicine. I also believe there is a time and place for more "modern" medicine. Somtimes I find that I fit into one category...and then the other. Other times, I'm not sure which one and I simply throw my hands in the air. I have tried anti-anxiety medication, prescription medication and many supplements.

When I was recently diagnosed with a systemic bacterial infection, I chose to take a heavy prescription dose. I knew I had disappointed my natural doctor, but it was a choice. And I made it. I made it along with my physician. I trust both, but I still had to make a decision. Certainly I hoped this would be the "cure" for my long 2 years of suffering. It may still be. But it hasn't happened yet - I can tell you that for sure. I have my good days and then I have my bad days. And the bad days hurt and scare. They also exhaust me and my loving husband. I broke down in front of my MD yesterday. She is the most compassionate doctor I have ever known. I am so thankful for her. I'm afraid some doctors forget that their patients are humans with pain and illness and families to love. A little compassion goes a long way. I told my doctor that my biggest fear is my son growing up and only knowing his mom as "not well." Just stating that or even thinking that sends me into near panic.

When a person can't get a diagnosis, it's nearly impossible to utilize a proper treatment.

I am finding relief from my food allergies (dairy and gluten.) I am also doing as well as can be expected on my supplements, but I am not cured by any means. This may be a long process of healing which could be 2 more months, 2 more years or the rest of my life. THE UNKNOWN. I don't know. The positive aspect of chronic illness is also the negative. How strange, right? The positive is that just looking at me, you wouldn't know i'm not well. You wouldn't know that i'm fatigued (not tired...different thing), my neck aches, my head aches, my breathing is labored and stressed, my balance is off, my heart palpitates up to 20 times a day (sometimes painful and always irritating - especially when it wakes me up from sleep.) I can hide it really well when I need/want to. But it's also negative because it would be easy to say, "You're not sick! You look great!" Looks are so deceiving. This is when those of us with chronic illness potentially fall into the "nutcase" category.

Just to clear the air, so far I have been "diagnosed" with these things: hormone imbalance, anxiety, food allergies, malabsorption of nutrients, systemic candidiasis (treated via prescripton), arthritis in my cervical spine (how the heck did that happen?!) i.e. chronic pain, and now (the most recent possibility) CFS: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It basically encompasses all the things listed before it. CFS is diagnosed via process of elimination of other things that can cause the same symptoms. But i'm stubborn so I haven't resolved to accept that diagnosis yet. Maybe if it's brought up enough times, I will. But not yet. Let's face it. I'm in denial about anything that isn't curable. Make sense? And I'm in denial about anything that would potentially cause me to have to take long-term prescription medicine (not saying that CFS requires that). I just can't do it! If I were to diagnose myself with something (ha!) I would probably diagnose myself with google-overload syndrome. That's right! I loathe Google. Every time I have a possible diagnosis presented to me, I research...and research...and research some more. Exhausting! I need to stop, my friends. I need to stop! Pray for me.

Can you see the pain of false hope in all of this?

And can I just add, I NEVER ever...ever...EVER thought I would end up with a chronic illness. I hate even typing that. I never really knew it existed until I look back on the last two years. I guess I've lived in denial most of my life thinking that when people are sick, they go to the doctor, have some tests done, find out what's wrong and take medicine. Reality check, Jenny! And I know that's probably easy to say....the "I never thought this could happen to me" phrase. But it's true. Never. Never thought. I mean, friends, I was running a half marathon at 5 weeks pregnant. I was energetic. I was fit. I was running the race! But thank you Jesus. I'm still here. I still have my life - my wonderful husband, the most beautiful baby boy who makes me cry with joy just looking at him, true/life-long friend. I love my life - still. I LOVE MY LIFE. And I give thanks.

Our pastor preached on giving thanks in all circumstances. You know that verse..."Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18. That verse always bothered me. Can I admit that? For my entire life, I thought that meant that we were to give thank in all circumstances - even the awful, painful and bad ones - because those awful, painful and bad circumstances are God's will?? I have totally read that wrong. It means it is God's will for us to give thanks in all circumstances, just as Jesus did. That is God's will. Not the experiences, the giving thanks part.

Here is my hope in all of this: I hope that I will become even more thankful and compassionate with each passing day. And I hope that I will truly live "giving thanks in all things."

I want to ask you to pray for me. Pray that I am healed, because I believe I can be. But if I can even ask for a more simple prayer, please pray that I could sing again. It's almost a thing of my past. That's really weird to me. That would be a good baby step in the right direction, or maybe a giant leap! Also pray for my family. I love them more than words can say and I just want to pray for Casey's innocence and Aaron's desires in life.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Our 18 month baby boy!

Sweet boy...you're growing so fast! You love animals and people. You say "hi" to every person and dog, cat, bird (or any animal) you see! You also love to wave and say "bai" (bye) in a southern style drawl. But you were born in Virginia and lived most of your life so far in the south.

You can't get enough of reading and your favorite books are Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Wheels On the Bus, and your ABC book. You pefer to flip to the end and sing the ABC song. You love The Little Drummer Boy and we've caught you reading it by yourself and humming the tune. You're one smart boy and perhaps a vocalist just like your mama! Your favorite book/song is the Little Pookie dance song. When we get to "Put your hands up and reach for the sky. So high! So high!" You reach up high and make a "wow" sound. We love it!

We count to 3 and throw you up in the air. As soon as we say "one" you say "two" and then "Yeaaaahhhh!!" You are so full of fun!

You love shoes which is why your first real word other than "mama" "dada" and "no" was shoes. You could stay outside all day and all night. You try walking around in mama's slippers (occasionally her high heels, but we won't tell your first girlfriend about that!) and dada's work boots - but you don't get very far in those!

You know what you want, when you want it! We're always laughing at the silly things you do and say and we love to watch you explore your world.

You're starting to repeat words that we say and you usually do it randomly which always surprises us. We get excited and realize how much you're learning each day. We love you, Case!






Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Essential Oils

(Imagine Property of doTERRA.com)
 
I am so excited to be learning more about the healing nature of essential oils. I just purchased my first kit from doTERRA and it's money well spent! Have you ever wondered why the wise men brought frankincense to Jesus? God has given us so many amazing natural sources for healing.

For starters, Aaron had the chills and a fever last weekend. I applied On Guard and peppermint oils to the bottoms of his feet and his fever broke within the hour. He woke up the next morning feeling much better! We were certain he was coming down with the flu given his symptoms, but it just never happend. Thank goodness!

I'm loving being able to disinfect things like our countertops with lemon essential oil and my diffuser is due to arrive tomorrow. I'm amazed by how certain oils can clean the air of allergens and have sterilization properties. Months ago, I had actually started using eucalyptus oil in Case's humidifier whenever he was stuffed up and it always worked like a charm to clear him out. We're not talking Vicks or anything....but the straight-up pure eucalyptus oil. Amazing!

If anyone is interested in learning more and wants to purchase a few oils to try, I'm happy to provide you with more info and you can shop for products here on my site.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Vegan, Gluten Free Molasses Crinkles

Yes, it's true. These gluten, soy, dairy, corn and nut free molasses crinkles actually taste exactly like my mom's and Aaron's mom's molasses cookies that use regular flour. In fact, these came out even slightly more chewy. If you're like Aaron and I and love cookie dough and chewy cookies, this is a gluten free recipe worth trying. We don't eat a lot of sweets in our house, but we may or may not have downed two dozen of these in less than a week (we did share a few with our friends!) Tis the season!

You can find the recipe here at the Whole Life Nutrition blog. This site is excellent and has allergy-friendly recipes that everyone in your house will love. I've yet to make a single recipe from their list that we don't like. They're the best!

I admit, I omitted the flax seeds and rolled each dough ball in pure can sugar. Let's be honest, does anyone really want flax seeds in their molasses cookies? I love flax, but not me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What do I say?

I have no idea what to call this post. For many reasons, I just can't find the right words for a title. So i'll just jump right into what I want to say.

A few of you know that I have been quite sick for about two years now. I think different things at different times have contributed to this, but I can't say for sure if one thing started it or a few things that came together to create a negative result. I have not come public with my health struggle because 1.) It has often been too painful to talk about, 2.) I hoped that it would "just go away" and 3.) I feel that many people don't understand what it's like to have a chronic illness. Now whether #3 is true or not, it's just how I've felt and I can't help it. We all live within our own thoughts and experiences, and mine has been that most people have no idea the terror, pain and frustration I have experienced. That doesn't mean I'm saying that my life has been so much worse than someone else's, but this is my journey and I know mine first-hand...not anyone else's. And let me be honest, this experience of chronic illness has been awful. In fact, awful doesn't even begin to describe it. There are days of my life that I simply can't recall. Sometimes I want to lay in a heap on the floor and cry. I have told my husband on many occasions that he should prepare for his life without me. And then I cry when I think about our son not having a mommy.

Does this all sound insane to you? YES. It does. But this is the journey of chronic illness. Constantly feeling ill and having doctors tell you nothing is wrong with you. I have had some doctors tell me that I should consider therapy. I have considered therapy, for a moment, but then I remember that i'm not depressed. That's not to say that I wouldn't benefit from counseling (I've done it before and has been such a positive experience) but my mind is not ill, it's my body. I have always known that.

Fnally, I have some clear answers. This process has been very complext. Some of that is because I believe most doctors have no idea how to treat someone with chronic symptoms. Now, if you read this and you're a doctor, feel free to challenge what i'm saying. But this has been my honest to goodness experience. Of the 20 or so doctors I've seen, only ONE has helped me (the one i'm seeing now, praise Jesus!) I have been told to "not come back." "There is nothing wrong with you." Well, DOCTOR, you're right. There is nothing "wrong" with me, i'm sick!

So after two years and too many tests to recall, I finally had a test that revaled two things: a massive bacterial infection (of sorts) in my digestive tract and an inability to digest and absorb nutrients properly. My test also showed that my body currently does not digest fats. I've learned through process of elimination that I cannot tolerate gluten (wheat) at all and have difficulty with dairy and night shade vegetables (potato, pepper, etc.) With the help of my very competent MD and ND here on the island, we are also considering that I have celiac disease. If you're not sure what celiac disease is, I encourage you to do some research because more and more people today are finding out they have it. The trouble with getting an accurate test result in my case is that a person must have a diet that includes gluten in their system for the test to be accurate. Since gluten has been eliminated from my diet completely for some time now, it's impossible for me to consider going back on gluten just for the sake of one test. With the advice of my doctors, I will be staying away from gluten and treating myself as someone with celiac.

Some of what I want to share on this blog is how I live day to day without gluten in my diet. It is actually a very manageable lifestyle. I will share tips, recipes, successes, struggles (not being able to eat out very much), and adjusing my social life to my dietary needs.

I also want to share more thoughts on what I believe, from first hand experience, the medical community is missing. My test results are very clear-cut. The problem is that this test is not covered by insurance and not ordered by the mainstream medical community. WHY? I can't answer that question yet. But I hope to at some point.

After two years, I'm making the decision to open up about my journey through chronic illness - first, because I want to help other people who are suffering. That is my main goal. But second because I owe it to myself to explain this process. I'm not sure why I feel I owe it to myself, but perhaps it's all part of the greater picture to my healing. Perhaps the greatest challenge with chronic illness is that there usally isn't just one cause. So am I answering my own question about why the medical community struggles with it? I can imagine a doctor would feel overwhelmed by needing to treat multi-layered symptoms.

Well here I go. The first of many raw and honest entries about my health journey. I hope and pray that someone who is suffering from an undiagnosed illness will read this and think, "That sounds like me." And I will be able to help and encourage them.

I woke up feeling anxious about my treatment process this morning (i'm starting a new treatment in addition to my current dietary changes after the test results I just received). Sometimes I think i'll have a panic attack. So I grabbed my Bible, flipped to Psalms but my eyes kept bouncing between verses. Which one do I read? Does God have anything here to calm my heart? Of course God does. I pray. I ask God what he wants to tell me. I immediately get Psalm 91 in my mind. I have no idea off the top of my head what Psalm 91 says. I go there, and I read. Whoa.

Psalm 91

New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 91

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

Sunday, December 9, 2012

We're SPIRITED!

I'm wondering if anyone out there in "blog land" might be interested in helping me understand blog designing. I'd like to revamp mine a bit. I'm going to start blogging more and Facebook-ing less. I've made this decision after months of thought into it. Facebook enhances my life less and makes me often feel left out, disappointed and stressed. It's not that I'd wish to not know about another person's life, but I find it so impersonal. I think this generation of Facebook-ers is missing something. Now, this is just my opinion, so please - no hate mail. As a friend and I were just discussing, we realized a long time ago that there aren't rules for Facebook. By that we mean etiquette. I find that I have typed things that I would perhaps never say to someone's face. I'm disappointed when I think about it. I also see it from other people.

What draws me more to blogging is simply that the guy I shared Spanish class with my sophomore year won't care to follow it. And sorry to be brutally honest, but I don't care that he won't follow my blog either! I have so much to share about how God is shaping me, the amazing things people are doing in the world (that I am so blessed to meet!), developments in my own life, parenthood, personal struggles and revelations as well as the beauty of everyday, ordinary joy. I want more depth. In fact, my heart wants to grow more and be more like Jesus. And Jesus is all about depth, intention, reflection and authenticity. I just don't find that in Facebook. So while I haven't made up my mind the delete my account (yet), I will not be spending the time on it that I have been in the past. I do hope that you will follow me here. Not because I'm exceptionally interesting, but because you genuinely care about me. Trust me when I say that I feel the same about you!

So i'll start my new "journey" with this: I struggle. First off. Yes, I struggle with many things. One being that I fall short a lot and I'm so painfully hard on myself! I really struggle with anxiety. I also struggle with being self-absorbed (can't you tell by my current list of struggles? ALL. ABOUT. ME. I'm not proud of that. Why do I struggle with these things? I don't know, but I do. Parenthood is really sharpening me. If marriage wasn't already doing that (which it is) OHHHH MAN, parenthood is.

Let me just say this. I have a spirited son. It's true, my 18 month old son is so super spirited and has been since day one. Throughout pregnancy, I would always say, "I can already tell that Case is just like you, Aaron. So calm and patient. So easy going." But I confess that I would verbalize those thoughts because on the inside, my mind was screaming, "Oh dear Jesus, please don't let Casey be like me! Please don't let Casey be demanding, stubborn, whiny, etc. like me!" You see, not to throw my parents under the bus (who are so loving and amazing, by the way!) but I heard some of these negative labels for being a strong-willed person. And it's ok, mom and dad. It's hard - really hard! I know how much you loved me and still do! I've already used a lot of those words in regards to Casey and I probably will again. But thankfully being strong-willed can be super positive if we would just call it something else. And so we have it: SPIRITED. (Dad, you know you're spirited, right?) ;-)

I'm currently diving into this beautiful book called "Raising Your Spirited Child" and it speaks to my heart. And I know that will allow my heart to respond to my son in a way that he needs so he can understand that it's ok to be spirited. After all, those of us who are spirited make others feel valued and welcomed. We also stick to our guns and conviction and we're not afraid to share them! We just need to be directed and taught to channel them appropriately.

So this is where I'm at. Seeking more authenticity, learning to turn negative thoughts into positive ones, wanting to put my husband and my son above time spent on Facebook, and wanting to connect more personally (though still out in "lala internet land." I can't help that I'm stuck on an island far away from most of my friends who read my blog. Oh wait, I'm not complaining about being on a far away island...in can you were wondering! So will you join me? Let's stay in touch and share our lives with more than status updates. Are you with me?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mr. Brown

 
Leave it to a father (or at least my husband) to change the words from "Mr. Brown can Moo! Can You?" to "Mr. Brown Can Poo! Can You?"

I think Dr. Seuss had it coming. Naming his character Mr. Brown AND choosing "moo" which clearly rhymes with "Poo." Didn't he consider how men think?? My son will never read books the same again...

Friday, November 16, 2012

No air conditioning...and THANKFUL!

Can you believe it? I never thought I'd say that while living in a warm climate. Hawaii has a predictable 80-85 temperature on a daily basis. We live on the windward side of the island, so we get a bit more rain - and obviously more wind - than the eastern side. The clouds will blow in briefly and it'll rain for about 5 minutes really hard each day and then stop. Just enough to water the vegetation and keep it green and lush.

I love not having air conditioning because there's something really amazing about fresh air blowing through the house every second of the day. And it really is fresh...blowing right in from the pacific ocean. We have so many huge windows in our house and we love it!

Our little plantation home was built sometime in the 1930's - before Pearl Harbor. It's OLD. But old means character. And character is totally us. Most of the home is in its original state. It has been updated here and there, but still has preserved details. The original doors, cabinets, knobs, etc. The wood floors creak when we walk, but I can't help but wonder whose feet walked along these floors in the 1930's. What was life like on the island then? This home has many stories to tell, I'm sure.

We're also living out the truth of "need" vs. "want." Starting over with everything from silverware to furniture really made us re-evaluate what we needed on a day to day basis. For instance, I have two pans for cooking and one pot. One of the most ridiculous things we ever owned prior to moving here was an entire set of pots and pans. Who needs a 16 or even 20 piece set of cookware?! I never used half of it. I only dropped those pieces on my toes while trying to shuffle around them for the pieces I really needed in order to cook.

Speaking of meals, we are on a tighter budget than usual. Island life is pretty pricey. Gas especially. But we are getting by on our Honda Pilot (love the Pilot) and Aaron purchased a bike to ride the 4.5 miles to work. We are fortunate to live a short 10 minute walk from the beach and another short 10 minute walk the other direction into downtown where shops, boutiques, restaurants and grocery stores are located. We have a Whole Foods and a store called Down to Earth. I love both, of course! We aren't eating out much - if at all. I have to know what's in my food because of my health concerns, so it's better for me to cook at home. I actually love it. I've learned to be really creative with meals and I'm mastering tasty dishes like curry, fish, vegetarian dishes, baked goods (wheat free), etc. I just made the most amazing banana choco-chip bread recipe that called for sorghum and teff flour instead of wheat/white flour. I also use soy/dairy-free choc. chips. YUM!

I could end up sounding like a broken record saying this all the time, but we truly love it here and feel SO BLESSED. We have such wonderful neighbors. They are a mix of native Hawaiian, Japanese, Tahitian, Chinese, Caucasian, etc. We love the diversity and the open hearts and lifestyles. Since everyone leaves windows and doors open, it's very much a community feel here on the island. We've already been invited to a family gathering next door where we were served an amazing feast. I'm excited about all the relationship we will have with people here. Again, we feel so blessed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Living Aloha


I'm still alive, my friends, still alive! I've been dragging my feet on posting any updates because 1) our lives have been nuts for about the past 2 months with our transition from Texas to Hawaii and 2) some things are happening that will require some serious posting and I just haven't found the energy for it.

Let's just say that I've felt in my heart that this transition would and will be a time of healing - spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically for us. We're making strides in our faith, strides as a family and I'm also making new strides with my health battle. I've had some people comment that life is so great for us. "You have a cute family, sweet baby and now you're moving to Hawaii!" But sometimes I just want to stop and say, "Hey, let me take you out of my Facebook world and into reality...because life is messy, brutal and beautiful or brutiful" (as Glennon calls it.)

Oh and please allow me to have my cheesy "star-struck" moment while I blog here. I totally got a personal email from Glennon, the Mama-Monkee herself. And it made my day. She is a genuine soul.

Now back on topic. So yes, we are blessed to live in this paradise of a place. I would be lying if I said it seemed like every other time of our life. We seriously have the beach outside our door, fresh fruit everywhere and it's pretty easy to live "Aloha" when you're in a place where people aren't typically in much of a hurry (we'll see if that gets a little irritating after a while) and it's easy to make friends. People are open here and unafraid to put themselves out there. It must be part of the culture and I LIKE IT.

We're super excited to move this week into our newest home in Hawaii. It's the cutest little plantation style home with lots of character and some serious classy-vintage appeal. Craigs List here on the island is like hitting the lottery. So are garage sales. People practically give their top dollar furniture away because it's cheaper than shipping it off the island when they move. So our friends we're staying with have been so kind as to allow us to accumulate amazing treasures in their garage. I'll be sure to post some pictures of our humble abode once we get settled.

Casey seems to be adjusting quite well to being an island child. He practically dives into the ocean which makes my heart skip a beat, but at least he's not afraid of water. We plan to get serious about teaching him to swim - maybe even paddle board - sooner than later so that he does all of it safely as he grows. It's the perfect age to start teaching these things! My only complaint with his adjusting is that he's decided that 6:30 am wakeups are super trendy and cool rather than his usual 7:30 or 8 am wake ups before moving here. I'm known to grumble a bit as I get out of bed...I admit. But nothing beats waking up to daily sunshine if one MUST get up at the crack of dawn. I really want to be an optimist!

Aaron is hating his new job. He has a view of the ocean AND the beautiful Hawaii mountains. Wouldn't you hate it too?!? Obviously i'm kidding. He LOVES his new job - the people, location, type of work he's doing. LOVING IT. I couldn't be more happy for him.

So life isn't perfect. But it's good. It's an abundant, joy filled life...which is outside of our feelings and more about faith. God is good and we give him all the glory.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chop Chop

I did it! I chopped my hair off. I said I wouldn't do this if we were moving to Hawaii (YES! That will be a post for another day.) But here I am, with much shorter hair...and I love it! I can still pull it back so it's definitely beach friendly. But now I can almost style my hair in less than 10 minutes. Give me less than 5 if I let it naturally curl up. My hair is so curly when it's this short! It's an inverted bob cut, so it's shorter in the back.

Please forgive the silly self-portrait
 
The Mr. doesn't know about my new "do" yet since he's been traveling all week. Do you think he'll like it? I'm already bracing myself for the "Oh, it's like a backwards mullet" comments from Aaron. "Party in the front and business in the back." Ugh. If you know him, you're laughing at this right now...HA HA.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Word!

I know, lame title. But seriously, i'm so excited to document this post today. Case is finally saying more than just "dada" and "mama." It's so cute! His new favorite words are "Whaaaaaaatttt??" "Ha" (for hot) and "mo" (for more.) Usually when he says "mo" he also signs it. I'm a complete sucker for him and I love it! He just melts my heart every single day. Oh, and since we're talking about melting, yeah....that's another thing that started. Casey's new MELTDOWNS. Sigh...
They usually occur when we won't let him go outside to play. We keep calling him Mowgli (from the Jungle Book) because the kid could live outside and never come back indoors if he had it his way. I've discovered his new happy place: in the driveway naked and playing with the water from the hose. I can keep him entertained for so long! It's perfect for these crazy hot Texas days.

I'm loving this stage because he's silly and makes us laugh. He's learning new words and loves to help me cook in the kitchen. I spend so much time in the kitchen that I'm learning new ways to involve him. I'll let him play with my measuring cups and spoons and he'll help me stir things on the stove. He knows very well what "hot" means and he's very careful. Such a smart boy! He's also turned into such a sweet cuddler! Priceless moments. Oh, and dare I even mention that he sleeps from 7:30 or 8 p.m. until anywhere form 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. I feel so grateful to have a champion sleeper especially with all my chronic fatigue . He also just cut his second tooth. I know, we're taking our sweet time with teeth! So far, he hasn't seemed bothered with any pain.

We're officially done nursing. He had weaned himself back to once a day around 13.5 months. He was nursing just once in the morning for about a month since then. It was funny to me that he never wanted to nurse at night. He wakes up so hungry everyday so I think that's why. But it just seemed like it was time to be done. I'm feeling more energized and he doesn't seem to miss it. I think that's also why he cuddles me in bed in the morning. He used to associate our bed in the mornings with his a.m. nursing session. I have REALLY struggled with hormones (from pregnancy and post while nursing) so I went as long as I could. I think almost 15 months is about as good as I could have hoped for! I do miss it, but I think it's the best decision for both of us.

Has anyone else felt like nursing took/takes so much out of them? It didn't matter how much I ate, it was really hard on my body. But you do what you can!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Greater Good

Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Jeffrey Hamilton/Lifesize

I hesitate to follow up on my last vaccine post that I ultimately removed, but I believe in the power of learning from one another. Again, my goal is for this topic to not create an atmosphere of frustration and/or anger. I only want to share resources that I believe are informative and helpful for parents.

If you haven't seen the documentary called The Greater Good, I highly recommend it. Though it certainly leans more towards the opinion on questioning vaccine safety, it does an excellent job of including science, medicine, concrete statistics and personal stories. It also covers the personal and medical opinions of those on both sides of the debate in a very respectful manner. My only regret is that the vaccine debate has become black and white when there is actually a lot of grey. It's important as parents to consider family history, genetic conditions and other health concerns before vaccinating according to AAP standards. While the AAP recommendations are a "one size fits all" type of medical approach to vaccines, this is not always realistic. Every child is different and every family has a different medical history.

If you'd like to watch the full-length version of The Greater Good online, you can do so HERE via youtube.

For further information on vaccines, you can visit the CDC web site and other helpful resources. And as always, I recommend reading information from both side of the topic in order to decide what's best for your family.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Taking a breather

I spent the last 3 weeks or so out of the "blogosphere" to spend much needed time with family. The funny thing is, I wasn't in Olympia for more than a few days since we ended up going camping in the RV with my parents at Lake Chelan. We even got to enjoy a beautiful winery. It was my kind of vacation! Casey and I flew out to Seattle at the beginning of July and spent two week with my family before Aaron joined us for the third week. We got to enjoy time out on Whidbey Island with the Meredith family for a reunion and we had such a blast! Casey loved meeting lots of cousins. He really loves other kids. He's a very social boy - much like his mama!

Casey is offically walking as of July 4. Let me tell you, he's on the GO! He has very good balance for such a new walker, but we do have a few bruises to show for our new skill. He's sleeping SO SO SO WELL. I had to stress that. I realize that can change at any moment, but I'm wondering if it has to do with all of this walking. He's wearing himself out big time! He would go down between 8 and 9 p.m. while out of town and sleep sometimes until 9 a.m. I bet I woke up before him about seven times while we were gone. He even did well in the motorhome. Ok, it helps that BaBa (grandpa) has air conditioning and a flat screen TV. My parents "camp" in style! Casey has always been a pretty good sleeper, but we've reached a new level of  "pretty good!" Waking up before your baby is heaven. Can I get an AMEN?! He talks (or should I say babbles) from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep. It's so cute! He'll really get on a roll and wave his arms around too. Almost as though he's commanding an entire audience. He loves to say, "Oh oh oh" and pucker his lips together. He waves when he wants to and gives hugs when he's in the mood. Just a busy boy! We love him so much.

Friday, June 15, 2012

not your average grilled cheese!

Our good friends, the Andresens, gave us a subscription to Parents Magazine as a baby shower gift before Casey was born. I love reading their recipes and craft ideas for kids. They also have some hilarious articles and I'm always up for a good laugh. Parenting requires a sense of humor, does it not?

In this month's issue, I came across a new way of making grilled cheese. I didn't follow the suggested recipe to a "T" but it sure did give me a new idea. So I took the recipe and tweaked it a bit. This is what I came up with: (It's delish)

*Sliced bread of your choice (I used whole grain/wheat)
*1 apple sliced thinly with skin on (I used organic Pink Lady)
*Havarti Cheese (I used sheep milk feta for Casey)
*Seasoned organic grilled chicked - small cubes
*Organic spinach
*Organic unsalted butter on one side of each bread slice

Put all ingredients together between the bread slices and grill in a pan on each side until golden brown. Voila!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spaceman Turns ONE!

Oh my goodness, our sweet, silly boy is ONE! This past year has been full of fun, hard work, lack of sleep, tears, giggles and more. What a wild ride - one that we would do all over again in heartbeat. The good with the bad! Casey, you are the joy on an average day; the smile in saddness and the love when our lives wanted more. You're so much more than we could have imagined or hoped for. Everything about you just melts our hearts and we can't get enough...ever! Daddy and I love you so, so much.

We had a bunch of our friends over to celebrate Casey's space-themed birthday. It was so much fun watching the kids gather around Casey as he dove into his cake! My parents and sister flew into town and we had a wonderful weekend together. We really missed Aaron's parents, but they're in the process of moving from Anchorage Alaska to Seattle. Woo hoo!! We encouraged friends not to bring presents for Casey, but suggested their favorite book if they want to bring something. He got some really great reading material to add to his library! I really love that he got a book from my friend Hadie (who is Puerto Rican) that teaches basic words in spanish. I hope Casey will pick up on some of the words.

I took Casey in to see a new doctor who is supportive of us delaying more vaccines, at least for a while. The doctor weighed him in at close to 21 lbs. We figure he weighs a bit more than that because he was sick with a 103 fever for 5 days before that appointment and wasn't eating solids. But I made sure to nurse him every 2-3 hours to keep him hydrated. He's a growing boy!

Food: He's starting to dislike certain foods. He used to eat anything! Bummer. He doesn't seem to like chicken anymore and will only sometimes eat ground beef. He LOVES hummus, coconut milk and fresh coconut milk/fruit smoothies, avocado, salmon (woo hoo!), bananas, grapes, peaches and more. Still no teeth! Silly boy. :-)

Development: He discovered how to say "no" by shaking his head back and fourth. Of course! He also loves to clap, especially when we say, "Yay Casey!" He's very proud of himself. It's too cute! He hasn't always been too much of a cuddler (he's on the go and busy!) but lately he loves to cuddle with us. If we lay on the floor, he'll come over and lay his head down and wait for us to pat his back. MELT ME. He also says, "Ohhhhhhh", "Baaabaa" we think either for "ball" or to say grandpa's name which we say a lot (my niece Addie has always called him BaBa.) He says "mama" and "dada" very well, but usually only says mama when he wants something. He's a smart boy! I had been working on teaching him "more" in sign language and he finally did it for my sister over his birthday weekend. Hooray! Lots of fast crawling, climbing and pulling up, but no walking yet!

 Casey LOVED his spaceship cake. He smashed it to pieces and we ended up hosing him off!
 Proud of his cake defeat!

 Spaceship cake and one-eyed martians! We used fruit candy canes, marshmallows, cake paint and candy eye balls.
 "The spread" along with cupcakes for all the guests.
Aaron and I made Casey his very own jetpack to fly to the moon!

Vaccinations

*I have made the decision to delete my recent post on vaccines. I want to thank everyone for their input, but I felt that it was turning into too much of a debate. My intention with the post was not to create an atmosphere for frustration, but I had hoped it would be an informative post. I always welcome different opinions from my own but feel this is the best decision. It was certainly interesting hearing from people in support of vaccinating children as well as those against it.

This is not a cut and dry topic at all, so please be informed before making a decision regarding your child(rens) healthcare and know that you are your child's best advocate.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Breastfeeding in Mongolia

This is such a great article, I HAD to share!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Yeah...Let's just talk later..."

Does anyone else feel so completely different from their husband?? I mean aside from the obvious MAJOR differences (just use your imagination, ok?) Aaron and I - well, we are not the same. Aaron is a very gentle soul who thinks a lot but says very little. I'm fairly certain that it's not because he has little to say, he just keeps things to himself most of the time. Aaron is perfectly content curling up in a chair and reading through an entire 1000 page book in one day. It's truly a beautiful thing that MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE TO ME.

I, on the other hand, go one day stuck inside my house and i'm jumping up and down about getting out to the grocery store. I start talking to the boy stacking apples in produce about how nice the weather is - he starts to think i'm crazy for sure, but he smiles and keeps nervously stacking. And to the woman placing her items on the checkout belt behind me about "how good that chocolate cake looks." "By the way, are you celebrating someone's birthday tonight? My son will be one in just about a month!" (Fight back tears while talking to stranger...FIGHT BACK TEARS WHILE TALKING TO STRANGER.) Yep, Aaron and I are very different.

Really, though. I love those things about Aaron. I really do. I find it amazing that someone can love so much quiet time to themselves. Introverts: How DO you DO it?? Can you teach me? Darn, probably not.

Sometimes I get down-right pissed, but other times (like today), I simply hang up the phone and chuckle after a conversation like this with my husband:

Me: Calling Aaron....

Aaron: Monotone - "Hello."

Me: "Hey....uhh, Casey hasn't slept much today. I don't know what's going on but I wish I had done something about those fire ant bites a few days ago. I wonder if they're getting really itchy and bothering him. (Side-note: I know, we're terrible parents for not watching him close enough to know he had crawled into fire ants in our backyard. Ugh.)

Aaron: "Hmmm.."

Me: "Can you come home earlier than last night? I'm trying to get shishkabobs ready, but it's not going so well with a screaming child..."

Aaron: "Sure."

Me: "Oh by the way, I called and exterminator to come out tomorrow and get the critters out from our walls (another story for another day). They said it could be rats, or snakes, or squirrels, or...something else. AHHHHH!!!!" *Very dramatic.

Aaron: Silence...

Aaron: Silence...

Aaron: Silence...

Me: "Yeah...let's just talk later."

Aaron: "Ok."

I think i'll go read "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" now. Marriage is such a beautiful, strange thing. :-)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Love and Diapering

I titled this post "love and diapering" but it encompasses two things about my heart: my love for people and my love for cloth diapering. How can someone love cloth diapering so much? Well, it saves us a ton of money, is good for the environment and is so very healthy for babies. Have you ever read about the chemicals found in disposable diapers? Eek. In case you were curious, Casey has never had a diaper rash. Ok, he had ONE, but that was in Hawaii when we were using disposables - ah ha. Sure, he's had some redness here and there, but that's common depending on what babies eat.

Those of you who know me, you know how much I genuinely love people - all people in all walks of life. No need to explain myself here. :)

One reason (of many) why I'm passionate about cloth diapering is because of what it means for LIFE. Ok Jenny, what on earth do cloth diapering and life have in common? Well, while working with women in unplanned pregnancies, I heard many women say in the counseling room that they wanted to end their pregnancy because they didn't have any money. Guuuhhhh - SINKING HEART. God forbid we ever put a dollar amount on a precious human life. But in some ways I really GET IT. I think there's certainly a flaw in thinking here, but on the other hand I truly have compassion for people who are financially strapped. Those of us who have babies know that they don't come cheap! Money does not provide happiness, but it does provide comfort. When there isn't enough in the bank account, we can be robbed of peace and joy. It's a vicious thing, but so common. I read this study by Huggies that revealed that many low income women/men/families are using hair dryers to dry out disposable diapers in order to reuse them because they don't have money to buy more. This is such an unsafe practice and a huge health hazard for babies! This breaks my heart. While many who use disposable diapers hate buying them, there are other people who simply can't buy them at all. I've also been reading that the government may provide cloth diapers through WIC, but i'm not sure how likely that is. Oh how I wish! I would support this 100%.

I've been thinking about somehow getting involved in teaching cloth diapering classes for free to low income parents. I want to get more involved in my community here in Texas. I want to help people in practical ways. I'm currently researching and hoping something will come of this.

Do you have any ideas to pass along to me??

Friday, April 13, 2012

10 Months!

I've been pretty behind on Casey's monthly updates, but I'm really trying not to beat myself up over this. He's just over 10 months and such a funny little guy! I love this first picture of him because it captures his favorite past-time...eating! Caseman looooooves to eat! He has such an appetite. I'm thinking that he eats more than I do in a meal. He's also still nursing about 5 times a day. Yes, clearly he loves food! He's growing so fast and we've noticed him getting heavier and heavier. I'm wondering what he weighs now. He's got to be well past the 20 lb. mark! He makes all kinds of noises when he eats. He screams and growls when he wants more. He's really into feeding himself, but if he runs out of food he makes these trademark noises to let me know, "Mama, I want MORE!" It's so funny! He's crazy. :)

So far he loves: Avocado, banana, egg yolk, pumpkin, ground turkey, beef, chicken, greek yogurt, kefir, mama's homemade blueberry flax bread (paleo/gluten-free), quinoa noodles, apple granola bars, yogurt melts, rice, hummus, and more. We've yet to find something he won't eat. Food is FUN!

We've now removed the tray from his chair and we pull him right up to the table. Thank goodness for this food mat! It's perfect on our table and makes clean-ups much easier. We also take it with us when we eat out.
It's a challenge to get this busy boy to look at the camera these days!
Easter 2012
Casey is officially a go, go, go kind of baby! He crawls everywhere, pulls up on furniture and cruises. Sometimes he'll let go all together and then his eyes get big when he realizes he isn't holding anything. Then he'll grab a piece of furniture really fast. It's so cute! We think he might be walking sooner than later. He gets into stuff he knows he's not supposed to. It's frustrating but funny all at the same time. He loves to go for the wine rack. I know we could move it or block it with a gate, but we've decided to go the "no touch" route. We want him to learn that just because something is out, there are just some things you "don't touch." He knows the wine rack is off limits (it isn't something he can pull on top of himself) and that's exactly why he goes for it. As he crawls over to it, he looks back at me with squinted eyes and a smirk. It's like he's saying, "Heyyyyy mom! Look what i'm doing! Try and stop me!" Their strong little wills come out quickly! We're officially chasing him down everywhere. It's a good workout for us! We know we're getting more to the point of shaping and disciplining. I'm pretty sure this will be the most challenging part of parenting, but we're up for the challenge. We love our Caseman so much!
Casey, you are so much fun and we love being your parents. I love my mommy time with you during the day. We went out the other day on a "date" and got matching Toms shoes. Then we shared lunch and you ate most of it! You love your daddy so much. The two of you run around the house and explore outside when he gets home from work. You love digging around in the grass and getting dirty. You're the sweetest boy in the world! We love you more than you could ever imagine.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Birthday Planning!

Ideas courtesy of this site
I can hardly believe that we're less than two months away from celebrating our sweet boy's 1st birthday. It's so cliche to say that time flies. Of course it does! I think I'm more in awe of the milestone. Casey is turning into such a handome, funny little boy! We see more and more of his unique personality with each day. We love waking up in the morning and hearing him playing the music on his "stuffies" (teddy bears) from his crib. He "ooohs and ahhhhs" as they sing. It cracks us up!
Whenever you have a baby, you come up with the silliest nicknames. We have at least 3 for Case. Just the other day, Aaron was commenting that we better call him by his real name or else he'll think his name is "Little Man", "Caseman" or "Spaceman!" I also call him "stinky-stink" or "Stinker-stinks" sometimes. I know, it sounds mean but I say it in a very endearing tone! His nursery smells like pee every morning when we get him up. I mean, the kid sleeps in the same diaper for 12-14 hours straight! I remember my niece's room smelling the same way. My sister called her, "Pee-pee long stocking." :) Yes, we're pretty weird as parents, aren't we?
The nickname that has really stuck since day one is Caseman Spaceman. I'm not completely sure where this came from other than that it rhymes. Aaron started it - I know that for sure! So it made sense that he would be Buzz Lightyear for Halloween. And now for his 1st birthday, we will be celebrating "spaceman" style with an outerspace theme. I've been surfing Pinterest and have found so many ridiculously cute ideas. In fact, I came across a few things I could print for free! I'm already well on my way to having this party planned. I can see it all in my mind and I can't wait. I'm even going to attempt my own home-made spaceship cake. Wish me luck!