Food Stuff-Whole30 Week 1

I started the Whole30 last Saturday and am happy to say that I made it through the entire week without cheating, killing anyone, or crying. There is this Whole30 Timeline that details the things you will go through during the program, and I am also happy to say that so far I haven’t really had to go through any really really tough times this week. I did get a slight, nagging headache on Day 3, but I drank lots of water and took some ibuprofen and it really wasn’t awful. Yesterday I was a little cranky, but again, not awful. Overall, the first week wasn’t terrible at all. In fact, at one point I posted on the forum asking if I was doing it right simple because I didn’t feel awful!

That being said, I think I have a couple of advantages that I wouldn’t have had, say, a year ago. For one, I went through a stretch (almost 9 months) of being gluten and sugar free, and I went through withdrawals like the world’s worst hangover for about a week. Even though I did not maintain that lifestyle (because gluten and sugar, yum!), I did learn then to be much more mindful about what I was eating. I stopped buying many processed foods and made things at home-I think that truly helped lessen my withdrawal/detox time and symptoms. Don’t get me wrong-I still ate all sorts of crap, but it was homemade crap. Still not at all good for me and still not in any way conducive to a healthy lifestyle, but at least it was minimally processed crap. Hey-it makes me feel slightly better, so let me enjoy that one small thing.

Another advantage: I don’t take cream or sugar in my coffee, I rarely eat cereal, and to drink a glass of milk is, for me, about as rare as a purple giraffe. So in giving up dairy, I really don’t feel like I am missing anything. Cheese, maybe a little-because eggs. There are a lot of eggs to be eaten on this program and I don’t love or even particularly like eggs, so I have always used cheese and jalapenos to mask the taste. Still, overall dairy hasn’t been a problem.

Actually so far not much has been a problem as far as food goes. When I was gluten and sugar free, I had to overcome a lot of my food issues and remind myself that food is fuel. Sometime it tastes like ambrosia, other times it’s simply something to provide fuel. It really is a simple as that. So, with that in mind, I haven’t had much of an issue with eating leftovers or partaking of something I would previously choose not to eat. It’s just fuel. I still haven’t eaten Brussels sprouts or beets-but it’s only been a week.

Also: I like to eat the same foods often. As in, I could (and have) eaten a turkey sandwich for lunch for weeks at a time. While variety is nice, routine is even nicer. So what looks like a food rut for many people is, for me, simply how I am. Again, only week one, but if I am changing dinner up regularly (which I do, because I love to cook and love making new recipes!) than breakfast and lunch are no big deal (yet).And you don’t HAVE To eat the same thing all the time-there are so many wonderful foods you can eat that you could conceivably eat something entirely different every meal during the 30 days. Really.

My main reason for starting the Whole30 is simply a desire to feel better. Ya’ll, I have been feeling basically shitty for the last several years. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I am tired all.the.time, I am irritable and anxious and I simply hurt everywhere, all the time. During my GF/SF time, I felt like ten tons of awesome. I walked four miles a day, I didn’t nap, I felt strangely zen most of the time. Shit still happened because life, but I felt mentally and physically really good. I want that back. And I want to remember how crappy I have felt for the last long time and remind myself that certain foods just aren’t worth it.

That being said, it’s been a good week. I am pretty proud of myself (and the lovely friend who is doing this with me!) for getting through it. Here’s to Week 2, one meal at a time!

A Goodbye

Weekend Recap With Photos and a Reminder

We had to put our dog down last week, this beautiful girl who was just coming up on 11 years old. I was looking through my camera for photos of her, lamenting the fact that I just did not have very many. I was wrong-not only do I have a ton of photos of just her, or her and the kids, probably a good third of the photos taken have her in them inadvertently. That’s just how much a part of our life she was.

I just can't do it.....

 

Making the decision the put her down was both one of the easiest and the most difficult things we have had to do. She got sick and we took her to the vet, where we found out she had kidney disease. Initially we thought (hoped) that it was an acute attack and that with a change in diet we could give her a good, comfortable life for another 6 months to a year. However, after we researched the symptoms we realized she likely had the disease for 6 months or more before we realized it. All of these symptoms were seemingly unrelated, things we put down to getting older or hot days or arthritis from a broken leg back in the day. Two days at the vet, more blood work, and they called with the news that it was not, in fact, an acute attack and that her time was very limited. At that point, we had to decide whether to provide hospice care for her until the end or put her down.

hallie1

Steve and I had already agreed that we would care for her until she could no longer go outside on her own or was in great pain. When I went to pick her up from the vet on Thursday, it was obvious that she was in fact in pain and absolutely miserable. I made arrangements for the vet to come to our house on Friday afternoon to put her down, and we took her home to love her to the end.

hallie3

And that is exactly what we did. Her bed has always been in the living room, so we put her there with comfy blankets and we all just sort of hung out with her. The kids took turns laying with her and talking to her, and when Steve got home from work he did the same. We brought her all sorts of treats, previously forbidden things like pork and chicken bones (because really, at that point it really didn’t matter). She didn’t eat anything but I am sure she was internally delighted. She drank lots of water and simply rested.

hallie4

Friday came around and it was increasingly obvious that even without intervention, she wasn’t going to last long. What was interesting to me was that she was still able to go to the bathroom outside, and both times she did on Friday she made an entire circuit around the house, from the chicken coop to the rabbit pen to the garden and back around. I swear it was almost like she was saying goodbye. She would come back in and slowly make her way back to her bed and would just sigh.

Throughout all of this, we talked with the kids (especially Josie) about what was happening and what to expect and most importantly, why we were making the decision to put her down. All day we told stories about her and lay with her and pet her, telling her it was okay to go. When the vet came, I mixed up some essential oils to help her with the transition from life to death, and we all took turns dipping our fingers in the oils and anointing her while whispering our private words in her ears.

hallie5

When we were ready, we got her head settle in Steve’s lap and we all touched her and cried while the vet gave her the shot. It was so fast; a mere couple of minutes and it was all over. How can I describe the beauty and the pain all at once?

We are so lucky, so blessed to have been able to give this girl both a life and a death full of love and mercy and yes, grace. It was heartbreaking, the wails of the kids and the tears of Steve and I, yet we were able to be with her until the last second. Even after death, we were able to sit with her until we were ready to let go.

She now rests in an antique trunk that belonged to my grandma, wrapped in a lovely embroidered tablecloth. Because it is so bitter cold, we were unable to bury her, so for the winter she sits under the trees in the back of our house. It was one of her favorite spots, looking out over the fields behind us. It might be gross to some, but it doesn’t bother us any. After all, she was a part of the family, and we wouldn’t do anything less for a human member.

And now the house is quiet; it is always full of kids and noise and chaos of some type, but underneath there is no click of toenails or water being slurped out of the toiled or the clinking of a collar on the food bowl. I am sad-more sad, maybe, than I “should” be, but she was my companion, my bed partner on the night when Steve was gone, my watchdog, my chore buddy. At some point we will certainly get another dog, but for now we rest in this sadness and honor our girl by missing her.

Witchcraft

I wait too long between posting and all this stuff happens and I never know where to start. So, tonight I am simply going to write about the thing I have been thinking about the most today, which is essential oils. Kind of random, right? But not really, you just don’t have the pleasure (said VERY tongue in cheek!) of living in my head.

I have been using a few different oils for a while now, and when I cut the crap out of finger and needed stitches awhile back my mother-in-law gave me some Melrose. It significantly improved the healing time AND left a lot less of a scar than the doctor predicted. Like, a LOT. So for a variety of reasons, I started doing some research and trying different oils and I have to say, I am a convert (much like I am to Brazilian waxing, which is the topic of an entirely different post!).

So, right before Christmas I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which is pretty much a shitty diagnosis. I mean, it’s not cancer or something completely horrible, but still, it’s pretty crappy. I have been processing the whole thing and recognize that I have probably had this for literally years, but I truly believe that my mom’s death kind of propelled it forward, if that makes sense. All this time and I thought I was just really having a hard time coping. Which is probably also true, come to think of it.

At any rate, there is significant pain involved in this disorder, and because of my 12-step program I am really reluctant to take any type of prescription pain reliever. Also? I am waaaaay too young to start on the cycle of prescription pain pills and anti-anxiety crap. Plus I think it’s really bad for my body. At this point anyway. So I have been trying some different essential oil blends and combinations and let me tell you, that shit works.

The weird thing is that I am (or was) a total skeptic so it’s not like my mind thinks it works so it does. But I used a pain-relieving blend mixed with a couple of other oils and I could literally feel the pain receding. Like, I was standing in the kitchen talking to the boys and it was like a trickle of pain running down my body and out through my feet. I know how it sounds-I really do. Like I am just another whackjob jumping on the bandwagon. But let me tell you, guys, it’s like witchcraft or something.

I have been using one company in particular for purchasing my oils, but I also have kinds from two other companies. One blog I have been following has done an incredible amount of research about the different companies and she also uses this company, but I have to be honest and say that I think the oils are pretty interchangeable. Maybe I will change my mind after more use, but at this point, I haven’t noticed any major benefits from one company over another. I did love all of the information provided by the blog series, though, and I think anyone who is interested should go read all of the parts of the series (and no, I don’t know this woman so I am not plugging a friend, nor am I a spokesperson for the company-it’s just common courtesy to link back, right?).

Another interesting thing besides the incredible relief from the pain (and no, it does not make it all go away-but it is bearable, which is more than okay with me!) is that I also got an oil called Trauma Gone. I have used it a couple of times and it has been-well. Let me just say that it has caused all sorts of dreams/almost nightmares. Stuff I can’t even really recall, but the kind of dreams that make me sweat and mumble and thrash according to my husband. I thought it was a coincidence so I stopped using it and they immediately stopped. I am assuming that the oil helps bring up things I need to work through, but there is no feeling of peace like there is “supposed” to be. I have stopped using it for the time being, because I have a hard enough time sleeping as it is. But I am curious to know, have any of you had an experience like this with an essential oil?

So. There you have it. My thoughts today have been about these oils, and the different ways I might be able to use them to help heal my body and my mind, and whether or not I really am as crazy as this all makes me sound.

Christmases Past

Of all of the shopping we have done for the holidays, the best was this afternoon when we were given the opportunity to go shopping for a 14-year-old boy. We don’t know him, don’t even know his name, but we didn’t need to. You see, Sam’s Orchestra class “adopted” a family for what we call The Gift of Green, a single mama with 5 kids. Each child had one assignment-shoes for a 7-year-old, for example, or in our case pants for a 14-year-old. Additionally, the teacher is using funds that the kids have raised to buy bikes for the older boys this year. You know how it works.

So Sam and I went to Penney’s with the thought of getting a couple of pairs of pants. We may or may not have gone overboard because we ended up with two pair of jeans and some chinos and a sweater and a shirt and some sleep pants. Because one new pair of jeans is awesome but a couple of new outfits is like, wow, you know?

I don’t say any of this to be all “Look how great we are,” but instead to talk about gratitude and humility. Remember not so many years ago when the entire blogging community got together to give my family Christmas? And not just presents from strangers (who eventually became friends), but money to pay my bills and buy groceries. I had nothing that year, struggling so hard to even survive, and out of nowhere came this huge, unexpected largess.

We have never forgotten. Owen was too small to remember being poor, and Josie wasn’t even a thought yet. This was before commitment and marriage, before so many things, and I have a heart full of gratitude. We have never forgotten the feeling of terror and shame involved with poverty, have never forgotten the way it tastes in the mouth and feels in the heart. I don’t ever want to forget, and neither does Sam. We talked about it a lot while shopping, and during the wrapping some tears were shed. For this family we don’t know, because we have been there. For the absolutely blessed life we have now, and for everything in between.

There is never enough money to repay all of the gifts that have been given to me in my life, in the lives of my children-and what many of you may not know is that the material stuff, well, it was all well and good but what we carried away from all of that is a restored faith in the inherent goodness of people. We can’t ever repay the feelings of love and hope-but we can give back. Sometimes with tangible gifts, but more often with simple kindnesses and more love and compassion.

So all of a sudden it felt like Christmas this afternoon. We haven’t been feeling it simply because there has been so much going on and Steve has been gone working since before Thanksgiving and life has been so busy. But with that brief shopping trip came the spirit of the holiday, and we can truly begin to celebrate.

IMG_2803

Halloween came and went and a good time was had by all. We went to a church things and had chili and cornbread and then there were games for the kids, and afterward went to a few houses and called it a night. Sam went trick-or-treating with a friend after we all ate. Yes, they are fifteen and went trick or treating! And I might add, there were a LOT of teenagers out and about, all in costume and having a good old time. I know it makes a lot of people mad when teens go, but it makes me smile. They are only kids a little longer, and it’s better than going to a “party” or any number of other things they could do.

While this wasn’t Josie’s first Halloween, it was the first one in her memory and was therefore a little overwhelming for her. It took her a little while to figure out what to do, but then once she realized people were giving her candy! she went a little crazy. It was almost manic. I am not used to this in a child. I mean, Sam and Owen both have always been pretty mellow about the whole thing. When he was younger, Sam would go to a few houses and then declare he was done, and Owen is simply pretty chill about everything. Not so with Josie! The great thing? Once we got home she seemed to have basically forgotten that there was CANDY.

Not much going on here today other than Steve will be home this afternoon! Which is plenty of excitement for all of us. We have piano lessons for the boys and dance for Josie this afternoon, so he is going to show up at dance when he gets in. It will be really fun to see Josie’s reaction. She loves her daddy!

As for school, well, we are doing what we do. We have a project today, making a Thanksgiving Tree and then every day we will all write something we are thankful for on a paper leaf and hang it on the tree. I want them to learn that there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for, no matter what. Both Owen and Sam have just started their second math books (Life of Fred, which we all LOVE), Sam is working on a HUGE history research paper, and it’s also Science day. Yay! I love watching them both grow as they learn that learning can be fun, and that there is SO MUCH to learn about! In just a few short months, I can see the spark in both their eyes again, and that makes me happy.

Hope everyone is having a great week thus far!

Sigh….

Right now I have one adult child who isn’t speaking to me at all because I have ruined her life and the other adult child who messaged me on Facebook begging me to make him a pan of my lasagna to take to a work party. It’s no wonder being a parent makes us crazy.

I make light of it but the situation with my oldest daughter is so, so sad. She has been through so much-admittedly, a hard life. Partly due to our poverty when she was younger and partly due to her sexual abuse and partly due to just life being hard and partly due to her own poor choices. However, everything she is doing right now is typical of an abuse survivor, and that breaks my heart. It’s all just so sad, and I don’t know what to do for her anymore.

But here is the thing I have to remember: she doesn’t want help right now. I tried, Steve tried, our chosen family has tried, and she seems hell-bent on this path of what is surely self-destruction. We took her and Aubry in a few months ago when her poor choices led her to being evicted from her apartment, and then there were all these lies. Not little white lies, either, but the big kind that really have an impact not just on her life but on everyone’s. Then, when confronted with a few of them, she lied even more. She had a choice, to be honest with us and get some help, but instead she chose to leave. And beyond a very few words I haven’t talked to her since.

I think the thing that bothers me the most is that sweet baby. Hannah loves her with every fiber of her being-Aubry doesn’t lack for love. What she lacks is stability, and the knowledge that she comes first in her mama’s life, and any sense of a “normal” childhood. There have been all sorts of uncertain situations and that sweet girl doesn’t even know what to think half the time.

But while I am worried about Aubry, and equally worried about Hannah, I have done enough Al-Anon work and recovery work to know that there isn’t really anything else I can do. I have my boundaries, and she violated them repeatedly, and I can’t make her do anything. I can’t make her acknowledge the broken parts of her, nor can I make her see that there is hope and light. All I can do is love her and pray for her, and remain distant.

And it’s never ever about giving up on a child, because that isn’t possible. Not in my heart, not for me. But it IS about trying to keep sane and stop using tremendous amounts of energy on a child who can’t hear anything you say.

So. The thing is to keep moving forward. I have high hopes for her, not OF her.I pray for her to learn hard enough lessons that she will learn from them, but not so hard that she has to lose everything. I pray that God will speak to her through people and circumstances and show her that she CAN heal. Mostly, I just pray that she will someday be happy. That’s all a parent really wants, isn’t it?

Friday Fragments, Halloween Edition

Half-Past Kissin' Time
Haven’t done one of these for awhile, so special thanks to Mrs. 4444 for still doing these! It makes me smile that some things haven’t changed!
  • Owen went to bed with a stomach ache last night and Sam has been up barfing most of the night. This does not bode well for a happy Halloween, does it? The thing is, as long as Josie doesn’t get sick, we are still totally going trick-or-treating. She picked her own costume this year and I am NOT going to deny her the chance to wear it!
  • Steve was supposed to be flying home from work today but it has been changed now to Tuesday afternoon. This is another reason we WILL go out tonight, to distract the kids. It is a blessing that Steve has this job, but it isn’t easy on any of us.
  • In a bloodthirsty rampage a few months ago, the dogs killed all of our half-wild cats. We live in the country, which means we now have a mouse problem. This does not make me happy, as I witnessed one scurrying through the kids’ bathroom this morning.
  • We have a forecast of snow for this weekend. I am not sure how I feel about this.
  • Jose put these gel cling-on things on the window, Halloween themed. The way she has it set up, the black cat is pooping out a full moon. She thinks we are laughing because she is so sweet.
  • Even though I hate sick kids, I am also not entirely sad about having a quiet day. There may or may not be a nap later, and my house really needs attention after the goings on of the last few weeks.
  • Sam got accepted to go to a huge Modeling/Acting convention in New York Next year. This is a huge deal, and we are really excited.
  • We have to raise $15,000 to GET to the convention and have Sam participate. Lots less excited about that, but we have some great fundraising ideas and Sam set up a GoFundMe account. We can do it, right?

Well. I know there are better fragments out there so go check them out.