Mother’s Day

These babies of mine are growing like weeds!  I think this may be my last year of being taller than all of them.  I love looking at this picture and seeing how all of their individual personalities are shining through.  They are a great group of kids.

Ben spoiled me with breakfast in bed and a few treats and then after church we visited both of our mom’s.  It was a great Mother’s Day!

Dietary Changes

I can finally say that I’m feeling better.  Really!  I can’t even explain how happy I am to be able to say that.  All my weird abdominal pain, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, night terrors, nausea, and most of all the anxiety.  Oh the anxiety.  I’ve always been a person full of worries, but it had reached a special level of awfulness.  I would lay awake at night with a pit of dread in my stomach, only to fall asleep at 2am and experience horribly stressful nightmares.  I would wake up gasping and in a panic as if I was late for some non-existent appointment.  Panic attacks were happening almost every day leaving me with this awful tight feeling of butterflies in my chest.  When my system finally got so worn down from the constant adrenaline, depression would settle in and my good friend apathy.  Crawling out of the depression, just meant a return to anxiety and starting all over again.  It was awful and had reached the point that I was ready to make an appointment to beg for medication, any medication to make the cycle stop.

So what fixed it?  Giving up dairy and gluten.  Can you believe it?  I actually think that dairy makes me crazy.  I had met with an IBS and allergy clinic and after relaying all my symptoms, the doctor said that it sounded like I had a dairy allergy.   She ran a bunch of tests, but while I was waiting for the results to come in, I decided to give up grains and dairy and just see what would happen.  Within 2-3 days I started noticing some big changes.  I didn’t have headaches and the awful pain in my gut went away.  Then the anxiety cloud lifted and I felt like a whole new person.  I think this is what normal people feel like!

My tests came back and the bacteria in my gut looks fine, but I had a ton of food reactions including a flat out allergy to psyllium which is the common ingredient in fiber supplements (like what my GI doctor had prescribed).  I showed a reaction to dairy in all it’s forms, including goat and sheep milk, with the main culprit being whey.  Guess what protein shakes I had been drinking over the last year?  Whey protein shakes.  I also showed a reaction to gluten and all it’s many sources.  Sound familiar?  We had tests run on William several years ago that came up with very similar results.

So now I have a list of foods to avoid for the next few months and then maybe I can add a few back in.  I don’t know whether the real culprit is the dairy or the gluten, or if they both just hate me, but there are a bunch of other foods that I can hopefully reintroduce once my gut calms down.  (Oats, corn, sugar, vanilla, and yeast, being my biggest wish.)

The funny thing is that it isn’t all that hard to change my diet.  It requires more cooking, which I had already been doing since Ben is trying an elimination diet of sorts for some other issues, and I have to make my own chocolate sweetened with maple sugar, and give up my soda, (ok, so maybe it isn’t totally easy), but the temptation to break it just isn’t there.  I made chocolate chip cookies the other day for the kids bake sale and I had zero desire to have any.  Usually I stand over the batter bowl trying to guilt myself out of taking a bite for weight reasons, but this time it felt like poison to me.  There isn’t any cookie in the world that is worth having anxiety for.  Truly.

Baby Chick

Our sweet baby chick passed away yesterday.  She had been doing so well and her leg had gotten stronger, but she still wasn’t growing.  I brought her outside into the sunshine a few days ago and tried hand feeding her, but she just wasn’t interested.  I tried rubbing her neck in case she had something stuck in her crop, but it seemed fine.  I went to check on her yesterday morning as I do frequently throughout the day, and I couldn’t find her anywhere.  I looked and looked and eventually found her underneath one of the other chickens.  They hadn’t pecked at her, but they had certainly sat right on top of her which I’m choosing to believe was an act of kindness in keeping her warm.

It was very upsetting to everyone.  The kids insisted on burying her in the backyard.  I don’t blame them.  She was the absolute sweetest chicken I’ve ever met.

Celebrating a Decade

Next month, Ben and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage.  10 years sounds like such a long time, but it feels really short.  Has it really been 10 years already?  One thing is for sure, being in year 10 is way more enjoyable than being in year 1 of marriage.  It makes me excited for the next 10 years.

To celebrate, we cashed in our credit card points for plane tickets to Paris.  I’m dying because Paris is somewhere I’ve dreamed of visiting my whole life (Ben’s already been all over Europe), but I’m also a little terrified.  It’s hard to leave the kids with all of the school and sports activities going on and if I’m being honest, I’m also stressed about our budget.  Our credit card points covered both the flight and the hotel, but with all the medical bills we’ve had these last few months, I feel guilty taking such an extravagant trip.

I’m trying to let my worries go and focus on all the exciting things I want to do and see in France.  I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking about what to pack, what souvenirs to buy the children, whether or not the gluten in Paris will be worth a possible tummy ache (I think yes), and how much of the french language I’ll be able to recall from my school days.  When it comes to fulfilling a lifelong dream, it is really hard not to put too much pressure into trying to make everything perfect.

It’s nice to have something good to look forward to after all the stress these last few months have brought and I hope we have a wonderful time.  Happy 10 years to us!

Dutch Oven Cooking

When the kids and I got home yesterday from running Molly down to her other house, we never really made it back inside.  The weather was so beautiful and the sun felt so good on my skin.  We played with the chickens and the boys played baseball and when I realized it was time to make dinner I decided to try and cook it outdoors.  We bought our dutch oven last year but I’ve been a little hesitant to use it even in the face of William’s desperate pleas.  I think I was a little intimidated by the whole thing.  But we there was no one around (besides the kids) to see me fail so I gave it a shot figuring we would either feast or starve.

We feasted!  It was delicious.  We had chicken with onions, carrots, and parsnips.  I feel like I’ve conquered my outdoor cooking fears for now.

Food for Thought

This year has been a rough one as far as health stuff goes, who am I kidding; it’s been rough through most of last year as well.  My stomach has been giving me fits and I’ve had all sorts of tests done and medications prescribed without any lasting relief.  It culminated with a visit to the emergency room the night of William’s birthday where I received pain meds and the advice to go see my GI specialist.  The GI guy was zero help and really didn’t have any real advice for me except to call next time I had pain.

It was depressing and I didn’t feel very hopeful, but then a friend of mine recommended a clinic in Seattle that deals with food allergies and I figured I would give it a shot.  After talking with the doctor I started to feel hopeful for the first time in a long time.  The doctor said that my symptoms do sound an awful lot like they are being caused by food.  I had a bunch of testing done and I should find out in a few more weeks.  In the meantime, I’m experimenting with giving up dairy and gluten and have been able to see some improvements.

I should also mention that during this whole fun time I have been having ultrasounds of my neck to follow the progress of a suspicious lymph node that became swollen by my collar bone.  At the urging of my doctor, I met with an oncologist on Monday just to be safe.  He said it is most likely not lymphoma, but either a reaction to what is going on with my gut or a leftover reaction from the shingles.  It does seem to be going down which is wonderful.

If I’ve seem somewhat stressed these last few weeks, now you know why.

Chop Chop

Does my hair deserve it’s own post?  No.  It’s ridiculous really, but this is my life.  Descendants of mine, I feel a responsibility to inform you that I spend a sad amount of time thinking about and talking about my hair.

Discussions (are they called discussions if I’m the only one talking) went on and on for months about whether or not I should cut my hair.  It had grown to the longest length it’d ever been and when wet it reached my waist.  On days when it was clean and styled I felt beautiful, but most days I felt like a girl who had an enormous amount of hair tied in a bun on the top of her head.

I liked finding new ways to wear it, creating intricate designs out of braids that made me feeling like a cool milkmaid or aging ballerina.  Adelaide loved when I would braid our hair in the same way and on Sunday’s she often waited to get ready until she saw what I was going to look like so that she could request the same style.

And then spring came with it’s annual urging for newness and fresh starts and I bent to it’s will and scheduled a haircut.  I’ve been cutting my own hair for the last 2 years so it was kind of a big step for me to actually make an appointment.  It signaled commitment and a desire to not look awful.

The end result?  Good.  After my first appointment (yes, there was another) I felt like something wasn’t right.  I figured it was just the styling, but when I got my own hands on it and washed it and styled it… I hated it.  I felt like a preschool teacher which is fine, but that’s not who I feel like on the inside.  I was edging toward panic attack territory and contacted a couple of places but couldn’t get an appointment for that very day and I felt I would die if I had to wait over the weekend.

Luckily I found a place and the lady listened to me and fixed my mushroom hair.  She said that with my thick hair (I have a ton of hair, that is fine in texture) it really needed to be cut with a razor instead of scissors.  Listening to a razor gnaw off your hair isn’t the most comforting sound in the world, but she was right.  It laid so much better right away and even dripping wet I could tell that life was going to be okay and I wouldn’t have to shave my head after all.

I’m still clueless at styling it, but I figure I can get better with practice.  My hair got curlier with the weight gone and it’s kind of fun to play with.  I like how light and airy it feels and I can still put it back into a pony tail for teaching my ballet classes.

Molly isn’t a huge fan of my new cut, but she is nice about it and tries to give me ideas for styling it.  Adelaide hates it and has asked me to never cut it short again.  She openly mourns the loss of our matching braids.  Ben is happy that I’m no longer panicking.  His favorite style always seems to be whatever puts me in the happiest mood.  My only regret, (okay, my main regret) is that I didn’t think to donate my hair.  I was too caught up in the moment and that makes me sad because I probably cut a foot of hair off.