Wednesday, March 30, 2011

hopeful

Today was a busy, interesting day.  It started off with me going to the house of a childhood friend to get the ball rolling on this gluten free stuff.  I left her house with some emergency food, a cookbook, and a handwritten wealth of information from restaurants to what to do if I get "glutened".

I was so grateful to her, and it felt so good to feel like I was finally talking with someone who understood many of my symptoms and also my fears.  We even share the same phenomenon of how being pregnant makes our health improve dramatically.  This friend has severe Celiac disease, but could eat gluten just fine when she was pregnant, up until right before she weaned her baby (insert "Twilight Zone" music here).

After leaving, I decided to check out a nearby gluten free bakery, because if I am going to survive this I have got to be able to have something yummy to eat while everyone around me is feasting on yummy Easter goodies and even everyday treats.  How was the food?  I can't be too sure at this point, because I haven't tried anything else gluten free.  I didn't like my sandwich (but Wes ate it, so maybe I was overly picky), and I liked my broccoli soup - liked, not loved.  But I LOVED my chocolate cupcake!  And nothing about it tasted the least bit weird at all....this says a lot because I am seriously PARANOID of gluten free food tasting weird.  That cupcake gave me an even bigger glimmer of hope to add to the one I had received this morning.

On our way to visit Wes' cute Oma (one of my favorite people....more on that later), who lived in the area, I received an email on my phone from a recent acquaintance who wrote this cookbook.  She had just gotten home from an appointment with a practitioner who does something called, "Neuromodulation".  She was really excited because the practitioner told her he'd just wrapped up treatment with someone with thyroid autoimmunity that bounces back and forth between hypo and hyperthyroid, and he'd been able to completely reverse it.

How hopeful is that?

Throughout all my research, I have never, ever been told this could be reversed.  I have been told that once it gets under control, it is easier to keep it that way, or even make it almost undetectable, but that it would always be a part of my life.  Boy oh boy was it ever refreshing and uplifting to hear that there was even a chance at this going away at some point.  Wes has been telling me all along that I need to have more faith, that this won't be a permanent part of my life, but I have been thinking he is in denial and soon would come to accept the fact that it simply wasn't true. 

But maybe he is right. 

Either way, right now, that's what I feel like telling myself. 

Some days, I just feel like I am in someone else's body.  How can I be so sick when I work so hard at being heathy?  Will this be the new "me" for the rest of my life?  Regular doctor's appointments, the inability to function normally, in a constant state of pregnant-like fatigue, and insomnia and anxiety?  If so, how in the world do I begin to cope and adapt to this?  Where do I start, really?

Some days I feel like maybe things will get better.  I feel happy again.  I can almost function normally.  I get busy and do things.  Those days feel so good to me now, except when nighttime comes and I pay for it royally.  Those days I am somewhat feeling "normal" during the day, I must overdo it or something, because those nights are the worst.  When our piano came, I bustled around the house, doing laundry and rearranging furniture and playing with the boys.  That night, I was gasping and having severe heart palpitations until about 4:30 in the morning when I finally fell asleep. 

So right now, I want to believe that this vicious cycle is not what my Heavenly Father wants for me.  I have some good reasons for believing so, but I truly do not believe that the Lord would want me to be sick and low-functional for the rest of my life.  I believe that I wasn't living in a way He wanted me to when this all started, and that this has been a nudge (or even a shove) back to the more mellow, more peaceful, more meaningful life He wants me to lead.

Between the new way of eating (for now), this "Neuromodulation" thing, the NAET therapy I've been debating trying, and my appointment tomorrow with a new (and hopefully final) doctor, I feel like I have more options to sort through again.  Maybe it's a little setback in the sense that I was really hoping for tomorrow to be my last stop before coming to a decision.  And I really think I will know a lot more after tomorrow.  But I also don't think I would have considered these new options, or even some that I am currently in the process of moving forward on, if I didn't have to go through so much already.

So right now, I chose HOPE.  I will EMBRACE hope.  And faith.  Right now, it feels like the right thing to do.  So here's to HOPE.  :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

some books i am reading right now

I love, love, LOVE to read.  I always have.  There's just something magical about opening the window into another world and being enlightened by it that pulls me in every time.  I learn and soak in so much from every book.  I always read several books simultaneously.  It's like I can't wait to finish one before I start the other.  Fiction or non-fiction, children's, adult, cookbook....it's all wonderful to me.  I am really getting into a few books right now:

This one is written by a new friend who shares some of the same health challenges as I do. She is also a big believer in the healing power of food.  It's interesting and inspiring stuff. (Wes is actually rather fascinated with this one too.  We share a passion for health, fitness, and nutrition.) I can't wait to try some recipes!


This one is also written by some people I know and admire.  They are two of the warmest, most humble, uplifting people I have ever met.  Every time I talk to them or see them speak, I come away so fed and inspired.  This book is such a phenomenal read!  I am always looking for books to teach me better parenting skills.  I can never learn or read or talk enough about how to be a better mom.  I loved the spiritual tie-ins also....books regarding faith and parenting seem to be hard to find.

This next book is also very fascinating.  I actually found it at the grocery store the other day (can you tell I'm a book addict?  I can find a book I want to read anywhere.  I'm a bookaholic.) and it was too hard to resist.  I love books that make you think deep.  I love books that motivate me to change and teach me things - even simple things.  This book is a very interesting and fun read:


This last book I'm reading right now is very dear to my heart.  You know how some books you love for a long time are like old friends?  This book is one of those for me.  I've owned this book since I was in junior high, and I've read it almost every year, up until the last few.  It's been really comforting and peaceful to read amidst so many things I am dealing with that seem to bury me in stress and discouragement.  This book is like an old friend giving me a hug.  And it's a really easy read.  Added bonus:  this one fits great in my purse and I take it along with me often.  The chapters are only a couple pages each, so I can read one while waiting at the doctor's office pretty easily (since unfortunately that seems to be a place I'm frequenting right now).  If you haven't read this book, I guarantee you'll love it - even if you don't normally like to read.


Maybe I love writing so much because of how much I love reading.  I think it's a really incredible way for many people to be touched by one (or more) something that someone else has to share to better your life or make you a better person.  Books are like old friends that you just met.  I have never sat down to read and then regretted taking the time to do it later on.  I just love curling up in my papasan chair with a little back of chocolates to suck on, a blanket, and a book.  I could go on and on and on.  But seriously, if you are looking for some good reads, check these babies out.  They won't disappoint.  Happy reading!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

finally

I have always missed being able to just sit and the piano and unwind whenever I have a few minutes.  I used to play several times a day growing up.  Not that I'm all that great (I taught myself to sight read when I learned to play the flute), but I enjoy playing and it's really destressing for me.  I am told that less stress is pretty crucial for my health right now, and I am taking that advice to heart completely.

My sweet mom got me a keyboard for our first Christmas as a married couple.  I was delighted and had bog plans, but I had to keep moving it and putting it away due to space issues and it falling on babies.  Finally, I found a permanent home for it in our bedroom right next to poor Wes' side of the bed.  He didn't mind because he comes in and falls asleep whenever play.  It's been wonderful, but it's an 80-key (instead of 88-key) and the keyboard is slightly wider than the piano which makes some reaches for notes impossible.  I'm also an acoustic girl, and the more organic sound of a real piano just really feeds my soul.

A few weeks ago, I started clearing our basement to prepare for our move, and I started selling unwanted items on a local website.  I had also started looking for a piano, although wasn't really sure what would be functional and still fit in my price range of the $300 cash I'd earned through my sales.

Then I found this beauty and I knew it would be perfect:

I was able to haggle $100 off the price, which was fabulous!  I think it has a certain charm about it with all the chips and the scroll-y music holder and such.  I obviously need a better decor on the top, but  think  did pretty well considering that everything was already somewhere in the house and I spent no money jazzing it up. (I'm planning on sewing a runner for the top, and I have a few other things in mind, but I'm saving for the tuning first.) It definitely needs a good tuning but I was told I needed to let it "acclimate" for a month before tuning it, so for now I am playing it out of tune and just happy that I have one to play.  The great thing is that it is small enough to move into a very small place (which is what we are gearing up for) and also charming enough for me (I really adore the look and sound of the antique pianos....someday I will own one.).  It makes our living room feel so cozy. 

I have already given Kolton his first lesson from this system I came across at an expo I did last year.  The lady there had taught piano for 40 years and had complied her favorite books and methods together.  Her system was well-rounded, fun, and she was a doll!  I have been waiting for Kolton to get big enough to try it out.  Wes and I are going to try out the Professional Chord System by David Higginson, followed by lessons from a local musician.  We are all very excited about the piano around here!

It's so nice to have a piano around while everything feels like it's falling apart.  I am a big believer in music and I am glad we are finally in the process of beginning to embrace the power of music in our lives.  Nothing can replace good music and the coziness of a room with a musical instrument in it.  I am excited to see the music part of my goals finally start to unfold.  I think it will be good for me to feel like something in my life is progressing since right now I just feel like everything is going backwards.  (Maybe not everything, but sometimes it feels that way.)

All in all, it's been a great thing for the whole family, and hopefully starts me down the road to easing all the terrible anxiety I've been experiencing with my stinkin' thyroid issues.  (Wes and I talked to a few people with my same health issues and every single one is on anxiety meds. We looked them up and the long list of side effects and decided we'd really, really like to avoid them at all costs.  Cross your fingers for me.)  Either way, I'm just glad to finally own a piano!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

baby bum

five years old

Kolton turned five today.  Five.  For some reason, to me, five seems like such a big milestone.  Kind of like the transition from preschooler to official big kid has begun.  It makes me sad to think of how quickly that time has gone by, but also really excited for this new stage we have already begun to enter.

Today, Kolton picked Norwegian pancakes for breakfast.  They are so good.  I used to pick them for my birthday breakfast when I was little, so it was kind of fun to make them for my little boy.

Grandpa Stewart popped in for a little while during breakfast.  The boys were completely ecstatic to see him.  After he left, they kept pretending to be him.  It was so cute.

Kolton also requested pizza that was "already cooked" tonight (can you tell we usually get Papa Murphy's?).  He also invited Grammy and the kids over for cake and ice cream.  Right after they arrived, Wes decided to give everyone an impromptu lesson on riding without training wheels.  All four boys did great!  Micah totally blew me away....he's not even four yet!  The kids had fun taking turns practicing riding the bike, and we had fun watching.  We also attempted Kolton's birthday tradition of flying kites, but there was NO wind today.  We'll have to try again when we've got a breezier day, but the sunny, warm spring day was a welcome change from the cold, bitter wind and snow we've been having all week.

Wes and I decided to let him open his presents today too.  He was really excited about that.  We got him a little t-ball set to practice with, a kit to raise butterflies (Kolton LOVES any and all bugs), a few books, and a toy digital camera that really works.  He was so excited about the camera!  I am eager to see the world through his eyes.  :)

I just can't believe it has been five years since I held that first tiny, precious, beautiful bundle in my arms.  I had no idea how much I was going to grow to love this little boy and how mush that loves grows with each passing day.  Kolton is such a ball of fire and is so smart and helpful and caring. He is such a little nurturer, and so smart!  I am so proud of him and feel so grateful that he is the oldest of our children.  Micah and Jonah already look up to him so much, and he sets such a great example for them.  He is my little buddy and I love him so much. 

Happy Birthday Kolton!  I love you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

more doctor's orders i'm ignoring

After yesterday's fiascos and the horrible night's rest I got once again, I decided that I just can't go one more day without some exercise.  I haven't been too diligent about yoga yet, but part of that is because when in the world, of not at the crack of dawn, do I do yoga with three rowdy little boys in my house?  Some days I can't even hear myself think, let alone listen to Rodney Yee's calm voice telling me to inhale and exhale and do a downward-facing dog.

I signed up for this bike race back in January when I thought I was just stressed out and needed some outlets.  I was really excited.  Then, I kind of let the idea go when every doctor I went to told me not to exercise, but that I could do yoga.  (Don't get me wrong, I LOVE yoga, but it's not the same as exercise to me most of the time.)  I let the bike race fall by the wayside and decided that it would happen again next year and I would participate then.

Last night, I had a couple pretty extensive conversations with a couple of relatives after the boys were in bed.  They both stressed the importance of exercise for anxiety (anxiety has been by far the WORST part of having autoimmune thyroid disease).  I decided that when I drop my portable EKG machine back to the cardiologist this morning, I will be asking him if I can exercise moderately if I wear a heart monitor. 

No matter what he says, I am going to exercise.

I feel better just thinking about it.  Wes took my bike for a tune-up recently and he's been taking Jonah for a few rides in the trailer.  He loves it, and the big boys are big enough to ride alongside him (within reason of course).  Biking is something I can do with my boys, until I am given the green light to do kettlebells again.  I think I will try to rock climb a little here and there too....it's very therapeutic for me and is really something I love.  No matter how good or bad my climbs are, I always feel inspired, fulfilled, and full of joy and accomplishment when I'm done. 

Wes and I also decided that I am going to go ahead and try NAET for allergies and see if it helps at all.  I kind of wonder if allergies/intolerances are another one of those "little things" that really are a big deal.  What if taking care of my allergies improved my thyroid function?  Wouldn't that be wonderful?  What if it didn't?  I could still eat and go outside and be around dogs without having to carry an inhaler and an Epipen.  Regardless of the outcome for the autoimmune disease (and I have a strong feeling it will help), eliminating or reducing allergies would just make my life better anyway.  :)

I have to keep telling myself that doctors are just making educated guesses and I know my body best.  I will be careful.  I think I will notice right away if it will help.  If all it does is help me sleep, it would be worth it!

Here's to hoping and bigger muscles.  Wish me luck.

Monday, March 21, 2011

some days are just hard

I don't know if I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today or what.  I was SO tired from the terrible night's sleep I got (and seem to get most of the time lately thanks to my stinkin' thyroid).  I got to do the "fun" job of updating the budget and making sure all those darn medical bills are getting paid (it makes me sick to watch our vacation get smaller and smaller as we pay more and more medical bills. And here I am.....still sick!). Then I got to start the 47 loads of laundry all while chasing baby J around the house since he seems to be attracted to whatever he can't have.  I also had to do a ton of work on the computer for the upcoming doctor Thursday, some stuff I am selling online, finding piano movers (and not liking the estimates I was getting), doing research on some more prospective medical stuff, and so on and so forth.

Then I got to move to the phone.  I got to call my opthamologist....not may favorite place to go.  You can read all about my latest experience here.  I had to follow up on some issues Jonah's been having, which ended up being worth being worth mentioning and the doc did have some advice as far as what to do next.  

Call after call, all the while the kids are terrorizing the house while Wes is in the living room struggling to work out.  We should have thought that one through a little better and tag-teamed it.  Too bad I didn't think of that until just now.

Finally naptime came.  I did the regular routine of stories, snuggles, and leaving for the boys to sleep.  Jonah decided that he wasn't going to sleep without a bottle (we've started to notice a dependency here, and we've been working on breaking it) so we all endured a LONG bout of crying.  (I promise, I checked on him a few times, gave him snuggles and something to chew, but he wasn't going to have anything but the bottle.)  I think all the crying killed naptime for the boys (I know it would for me) and they never went to sleep and mommy never got a break.

Well, my kids don't initially get grumpy when they are tired, they get wild.  I felt like I was taking care of zoo animals.  They completely wore me out today.  I did manage to get to the library - sans stroller (thanks Wes.  I swear EVERY time he uses my car he always forgets to put the important stuff back!)  and in the cold, blustery wind, to turn in a book that was two weeks overdue, and get to the grocery store (pure torture with two wild animals) to buy the new, expensive formula the doctor wanted me to try Jonah on. 

I decided to do a quick breakfast dinner tonight, and I ran the tub for the boys to play in while I fixed dinner and chased Jonah some more.

I found a bathtub full of blue soap so thick I had to rinse everyone off and give them another bath to wash the soap, and then begin to mop up the inches of water on the floor.  Note to self:  skip baths if the boys skip their naps.  It is not worth it. 

Thankfully everyone ate dinner, and Jonah went off to bed without a peep.  But then the phone rang, and it was a call I'd been expecting that was important.  I told the boys to go pick two stories each and look at their new library books in their bed while they waited for me.

Do you think they listened?

Of course not!  I had to keep hiding in my house to find somewhere to talk to the person on the other end so I could hear them, and finally had to hang up when I heard screaming in the other room and Kolton explained to me that he had politely asked Micah to move so he could hit a ball with a bat (on a baby toy we have) and Micah didn't move and Kolton accidentally hit him with the bat.  Of course the victim had to try out his acting skills and go for the award of the most dramatic sore toe in the history of the world. 

I'm sad to say that Mommy finally joined in on the screaming tonight.  I don't yell very often, and neither does Wes, but I was WAY past my breaking point and I really reached the point where I didn't know what to do.  Naturally, I felt terribly afterwards.  Lucky for me that my kids are very forgiving.  At least the night was able to end in snuggles and giggles and only my heart had to be heavy from what had just happened.

Today, I am just at wit's end.  I've been there all day, and I cannot wait to crawl into my bed and hopefully slip away into dreamland and blissfully forget about all the chaos of today.  I cannot wait for Wes to get home and crawl into bed with me. 

I am tired of being sick and not knowing when or how I'll get better.  I'm tired of stressing about how much this "sickness" is costing me.  I'm tired of laundry and dishes and trying to eat gluten-free and driving back from Timbuktu every time I need to grab something like a new baby formula from the grocery store.  I'm tired of trying to adapt my life to Wes' crazy schedule and keep track of when he'll be here and when he won't.  I'm tired of being tired all the time.  I'm tired of my hair falling out.  I'm tired of worrying about the guy I found in our garage last week coming back to steal something besides washer fluid.  I am just tired.

I think I need a hug.

Tomorrow will be better right?  I'm banking on it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

big brothers

There is something very heartwarming about watching this:


followed by this:

And then this:

followed by this:

Aren't big brothers the best?  Jonah sure thinks so!

thinking about going raw again

Do you ever get little "nudges" from the spirit?  You know, when you can't figure something out and you kind of put it on the backburner of your mind for a bit to let it simmer?  Well, that's what I've been doing with eating raw food lately.

When all this thyroid madness started two years ago, I got no answers.  I didn't even know I had a thyroid problem then.  The doctor I had at the time didn't know enough about the thyroid to recognize that there was a problem and that it was somewhat serious.  So, I decided to focus on what I could do for the time being, and that was improving my diet.

Wes and I chose our family focus to be "health" last year (and it was our minor the year before, so it was more of a two-year focus).  We learned a lot about nutrition and raw food.  It is so interesting to me how food works to heal our bodies.  The body itself is just fascinating to me, but the way food works to make the body healthy was the information I needed at the time, so that's what I focused on.  I started just by eating more fruits and vegetables.  Then I learned about green smoothies and we started drinking them every day.  About the same time, we started to drink Monavie.  Two weeks after the Monavie, I was off all my asthma meds and rescue inhaler.  I felt fabulous!

Then I got pregnant with Jonah.  I had a fairly easy pregnancy the first two times, but this time was different.  I was EXHAUSTED!  And I know how pregnant tired feels.   This time the fatigue was so much worse.  But I chalked it up to being a mommy of two busy boys and just feel in love with my bed.  I was sicker also, and my symptoms were slightly different and a lot worse.  I didn't think they were abnormal, but I was pretty sure Jonah was going to be a girl just because my first two pregnancies were so similar.

Lucky for me (and Jonah) that my pregnancy with untreated thyroid disease went off without a hitch right down to delivery.  My healthy, bouncing baby boy was born healthy and ended up being the best nurser I've had so far.  I had no idea the risks we'd really been under since I didn't know about my thyroid problem yet.

I continued to feel great and lost the baby weight quickly and easily from just eating well.  No dieting, no deprivation, just healthy eating and moderation.  And later on, I exercised also.  I fell in love with kettlebells during my pregnancy and faithfully did them up until my recent diagnosis when I was forbidden to do them for the time being.

Why did my thyroid problem go undetected for so long?  Why did I feel better if I didn't receive any treatment?  I've hear that pregnancy can improve autoimmune symptoms about half the time, because your immune system is suppressed so your body won't reject the baby.  Maybe this is why I felt good.  Maybe it's only part of it.  Why did I continue to feel good months after Jonah was born?

Do you know what I think?  It was the raw food and greens I had in my diet.  I never was 100% raw either....more like 60-80%.  The rest of my diet was full of whole grains, legumes, and quality protein in what I felt were the right proportions for me (about 5% of my diet).  I slept well and didn't need as much sleep as before.  I've read that this is because it's easier to digest fruits and vegetables and greens than lots of meat and bread. 

I've heard the quote that goes along with good health is "energy begets more energy" and I have to say I completely agree.  When I exercise, I am tired, but I end up having more energy than I would if I hadn't exercised.  If I take 5 minutes to make a smoothie in the morning rather than pouring a bowl of cereal, I have better energy all day, and I naturally craved healthy foods.  I seriously felt like I was so healthy and that I could eat that way happily my whole life! 

Fast forward to these health issues.  I truly think it all was stress-induced.  Wes' schedule during the holidays was more than I could bear, on top of the changes going on with our upcoming move, and having a new baby, etc.  I was happily surviving not realizing that I was depleting myself more and more each day.

Once I was diagnosed, I was told to stay off of raw foods so I wouldn't have any allergies (this is funny to me because my scratch test was slightly better this time around and I chalked it up to my healthy eating).  I was given an Epipen "just in case" because there have been a few case studies of anaphylaxis with Oral Allergy Syndrome.  (There have also been interesting studies on using small amounts of offending foods in the mouth to build an immunity to the foods, and I believe I was naturally doing this my whole life.)   I was hesitant to do so, but told myself I wouldn't worry about it because it was temporary and I could stick it out.

Here I am two months later and I struggle to eat more than a few fruits or vegetables each day, and I never eat greens, because I don't know how to eat them cooked, and I'm still scared to eat certain foods.  I've tried to just ignore it, but it's getting to the point where I feel completely depleted and I know a lot of that has to do with what I am eating.

I came across this website last night.  I've seen it before, but I had pushed it from my mind.  But last night, I felt so inspired and hopeful.  I felt like maybe raw food could be the beginning of better health for me.  It's been the one thing I've struggled with right around the time my health deteriorated.  It's also the thing I was doing right when my health was so good before.

Wes and I talked and decided that we would go back to raw - slowly - while being off gluten (doctor recommended) - for the next month and see what happens.  I will start with smoothies when Wes is home (to ease my anxiety) and go from there.

I really feel good about this.  I've been thinking a lot about the feelings I've had about my health throughout my life.  I know my body.  I have always been right.  Back before I had my tumor removed, I kept telling my doctor I though I had one and they wouldn't listen and just kept giving me medicine.  Four years later I went under the knife for emergency surgery to remove the tumor that had grown so large that it was making my ovary twist and lose its blood supply.  I knew I had a thyroid problem and the test was positive, even though I didn't understand at the time.  Right before this happened, I started to think I should try going off gluten for a few weeks and see if I felt any different (I felt great...I was mostly curious).  Now I wonder if that was a little signal from my body telling me that it needed that.  Now here I am going off gluten.  (Apparently, if you eat gluten when you have an intolerance, it can prevent your body from absorbing vital nutrients and minerals - in my case vitamin D, B-12, and selenium - so going off of it should help my gut heal and be able to absorb what I need once again.)

So, I think I'm going to try following my gut and drinking smoothies again.  And exercising.  No kettlebells yet (not willing to risk permanent damage to my heart), but some light biking and yoga and weightlifting.  My body needs tlc right now, so why am I feeding it garbage and expecting it to heal?

I am going to take Hippocrates' advice, "Let thy food be thy medicine."  I am going to give my body green smoothies, and a plethora of cooked veggies and fruits that will gradually change to raw.  I hope this will help.  Maybe this is the missing element I've been wondering about.

Here's to faith, hope, and green smoothies.  Cheers!

now these are some cool kids!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

heartbroken

My thoughts have been with a childhood friend today.  Last night, her sweet little angel daughter passed away after an open heart surgery.  She was born in January, and the whole story surrounding the situation is just one that tugged at every heartstrings I had.  It is a story of infertility, hope, loss, faith, and courage.  You can read more about it here.  It is absolutely awe-inspiring.  These people have an incredible amount of faith and courage and love, and their daughter was lucky to have such an amazing family surrounding her during her short time on earth.

My prayers are with my friend and her family as they struggle to find comfort and peace amidst the pain, grief, and heartbreak.  I cannot even imagine the loss she must be feeling, and I am praying hard for her and her family.

I get to hold all three of my sweet boys today.  Hopefully one day I will have a whole gaggle of children.  But for now, I am content and grateful to hold my sweet, precious little angels and just let my heart be full of gratitude and awe that they are mine to look after for now.

Motherhood is such a beautiful, fulfilling, heartbreaking, joyful, all-encompassing experience.  I feel so incredibly blessed to be a mother and to have my knowledge of the gospel and my Savior.  I feel Him there each ad every day watching and guiding me.  I hope that my friend can find comfort in our shared faith and knowledge that this is not the end and that someday she will be able to hold her beautiful, precious daughter again.

My thoughts have also been floating around a song my mom wrote when I was young.  My aunt and uncle lost their baby many years ago right at her due date.  It was also a daughter.

Reach Out to the Lord
I wish that there was something I could do or say
to help relieve the pain that you both share.
I hope somehow that you will receive some comfort
in knowing that I'm here and that I care.
Sometimes I know it's very hard to understand
 why things happen in our lives the way they do.
May you find comfort with your knowledge of the gospel plan
and know the Lord's prepared a way for you.

Reach out to the Lord and let him help you
for He understands the sorrow that you feel.
Have faith in the Lord, let Him take you by the hand.
The Lord out Heavenly Father understands.

She's a special little spirit in our Father's eyes.
She did not need to live this earthly life.
She has gone on to live eternally,
and you will once again unite,
as you live righteously.

Reach out to the Lord and let him help you
for He understands the sorrow that you feel.
Have faith in the Lord, let Him take you by the hand.
The Lord out Heavenly Father understands.





Friday, March 18, 2011

happenings lately

Man alive, we have been busy lately!  Here are some of the tings we've been up to:

We had dinner at our good friends' house.  Todd and Celest.  Celest is my best friend from high school, and we've stayed pretty close ever since.  She's just discovered a God-given talent she has for art!  Boy has it been fun to see this project come alive!  (Shh, don't tell her, she doesn't read blogs or get on the computer  I'm going to get her art classes for her birthday in June...I'm so excited!)

Here is a sampling of what she's cooking up:
 This is the ceiling, with glow-in-the-dark paint!
 I love the shading on and around the sun, and the glitter.  So fun!
This room is going to be Peter Pan.  She's painting characters, making an ocean and island out of chalkboard and magnetic paint, and hubby Todd is building a bunk bed!  The kids are going to LOVE it!  I am so proud of my best friend and her amazing talent! (No wonder she is the BEST hairdresser on the plant!)


Jonah is having some cradle cap issues, and I am starting to wonder if he is allergic to milk.  Anyone have any non-soy formula suggestions?  I know my dad was allergic to milk when he was a baby, and I think he grew out of it.  Anyway, for now, we are oiling up and scrubbing that little head like nobody's business.

Speaking of head issues, I have a feeling my thyroid is starting to slow down and become hypo (slow) again because my hair is beginning to fall out.  My doctor confirmed on Monday that I definitely was experiencing thyroid-related hair loss.  (He had me comb my fingers through my hair and see how many came out.  Normal is 0-2, I got 8 or more.)  I am devastated to say the least, but trying not to worry about it too much, since I still have a lot.  Just a few patchy bald spots that I can pretty easily cover with existing hair.  Hopefully it stays that way.  Hair can grow back right?

I hosted an Ireland dinner for our ethnic dinner tradition.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures.  We had a blast!  Wes' uncle, Pieter, and some of his family, and Wes' oma, Anna, all joined us for the festivities.  We had authentic Irish stew, which was DELISH!  We learned all about St. Patrick and Irish history, including leprechauns, Pookas, and other faeries.  I had so much fun with all the details from the food to the music to the take-home gifts (shamrock plants and homemade shamrock pins - thanks Martha Stewart!), and also....

.....learning to make my mom's apple pie.  Apple pie is an authentic Irish dessert.  I have been wanting to learn how to make it for years, so this party was a good excuse.  My mom and I had a ball, and everyone loved the pie of course.  Especially Wes.  My mom's pie is his favorite, and now I can make it for him anytime he wants!  Yum!

I am going to miss apple pie, and any other yummy thing containing gluten.  I have been advised by three doctors now to go off of it for 3-8 weeks to see if it helps me immune system.  Good bye, baked goods, hello potatoes and rice flour.  :(

My mother-in-law, Susan, threw me a Mardi Gras birthday party (family-style of course!).  We had lots of fun!  We had a yummy New Orleans-style spread including friend chicken, jambalaya, King's bread, BBQ crawdads, cornbread, and salad. 
We also made masks and had a parade where I got pushed around on a chair by Wes while everyone followed (I am sure my face was beet red).  The kids sure loved that!  By then, the kids all wanted to play outside and Jonah needed a little break, so I hung out inside with him and played the piano for a bit while everyone else went outside.  When Jonah and I stepped out, this is what I saw:
Uncle Joe's new scooter!  The kids all loved getting rides.

 Then Emilee and Lauren (Wes' little sisters) and the boys enthusiastically posed for an impromptu photo shoot while I fiddled with some camera settings:



Here's something funny.  Micah kept asking everyone for some "poopy surprises" and we couldn't figure out what in the world those were.  Finally we realized it was fruit snacks!  Funny boy!

Gramdma with her newest grandson:


Micah loved on this poor, good-natured dog all night.  He really does need to have a dog someday (when he's bigger and I'm not allergic).

Susan also made these fun cupcakes.  The frosting was made with root beer and they were yummy! 


We made sack puppets at Joyschool:

We've been getting a lot of these on our porch in light of a certain little boy's upcoming birthday.  Every time they come I am told he is angry because he has to wait to see what's in them until his birthday. 

This little sweetie finally figured out crawling forward at Todd and Celest's last weekend.  I am doomed!  He is all over the place! (And he's still after my camera!)

I caught a man in our garage a few days ago.  Luckily it was in the nick of time and nothing valueable was taken.  After taking to several neighbors and the cops coming, it was concluded that the accused is a new neighbor living in a basement apartment down the street!  I guess I have to be extremely diligent about closing the garage and making sure the boys do the same thing!   I had only been inside for five minutes.

We had a fun-filled St. Patty's starting with MOPS in the morning.  My mom and I then watched the kids squeal with delight and run around the house giggling at all the "tricks" the "leprechaun" (aka my dad) had played while we were gone.  Couches, beds, pictures, all kind of things were turned at angles of messed up.  We went to be sneaky "leprechauns" ourselves and drop Melinda a little St. Patty's treat.  The kids also got to go on a gold hunt when we got back and they loved it!  Who knew having Jesse put a pot of gold on the swing set would prove to be such a fabulous hiding place?  After dinner, we frosted some green shamrock cookies.  Yum!

My dad found a darling little house in an area we want to live and I got to walk through yesterday.  Although it's probably way too early to move, I fell in love with this darling old house.  I liked parts of it better than our house.  It was so charming and picturesque inside!  It gave me hope that we will be bale to find a cute little house with a yard in our price range, in the area we want to live, when the time comes to move.  I can't wait to take Wes by today.  I wonder what our next house will look like.....

I came home yesterday and the "laundry fairy" (thanks Wes!) had come and rescued me from the zillion-and-one loads I had piled to the ceiling in the laundry room.  Not only that, but the whole house was spotless.  It was so nice to just be able to get the kids in bed after such a fun-filled, busy holiday.  I was so exhausted and it gave me such a lift to come home to all that love left for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed going to bed early.

I have to smile every time I see this when I go outside:
Spring is definitely "springing" around here!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

two peas in a pod

(Please excuse the phone picture, but I just had to share...this gave me quite a chuckle!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

fishing for the reason

I just can't decide what I love the most about this little sweetheart.

 Is it those big baby blues....

the ginormous cheeks....

the way his chubby little fingers look when he's checking out a toy.....

or the way his socks are always halfway off his feet?

Maybe it's the way face he pulls when he's checking out that big, honkin' thing that I keep putting right in his face....

Whatever it is, he's caught my heart....hook, line, and sinker.  I love you, big J.

jungle jim's

Last week, the boys put the last sticker on their bedtime charts.  They had finally earned a day of fun at Jungle Jim's.  We decided to wait until Daddy could come (Mommy knew she couldn't chase two boys around there and take charge of the baby and both cameras).  Everyone had so much fun!


Kolton got right to work on the gmaes of course....

And then we rode some rides.....

Micah had to be convinced to ride the bumper cars, but he LOVED it.  He laughed so hard EVERY time he got bumped.  Wes had the camera and I had the camcorder, and I'm sure you can tell by the blur of these pictures how hard we were laughing when we were watching our jolly little fellow.....

All in all, it was a lot of fun!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I.W.A.N.

I Want A Newborn so bad!  You may think I am crazy.  Wes wants another baby too.  We had this plan to have two children close together and then wait a few years....like we did with Kolton and Micah (They are 12 1/2 months apart).  I really, really wanted to do that again.  I know a lot of people who space every two years, but that seems a lot harder to me and also too planned.  So far, we have just gone by "the feeling" and it's served us well.

(This is a picture of baby Joshie holding baby Micah.)
From what I am learning and hearing, it could be years before I get to even think about getting pregnant again.  Possibly sooner, and possibly longer (there is a lot of infertility problems correlated with all this stuff, and I have noticed "that time of the month" is becoming more like "that time of the last few months" which doesn't really lend to the "get pregnant the very second we want to" luck that we've had in the past.).  Also, miscarriages are pretty commonplace with out-of-control thyroid issues, which is also scary.  I am trying not to worry about all the "baby stuff" until it's really time to again, but my heart just aches for another tiny little baby.  I wouldn't even mind morning sickness right now (crazy, I know).

I understand that all things happen for a reason, and that this is all part of a much bigger plan.  But right now, this very minute, while I am watching my 8-month-old attempt to stand, I just feel sad, like it is all passing by too quickly and I don't have the sure knowledge that another little one will join us soon, or even ever.  I'm probably a little pessimistic about it, but those of you who know my mom would understand.

I have faith that one day (hopefully sooner rather than later, although right now I have no feeling of when it will be), I will get to hold another little angel.  And for right now, I am content with my sweet Jonah (except for the fact that he is growing up way too fast).  My hands are definitely full with three little boys, and I have a feeling I am about to get a lot busier.  I do feel extremely blessed, every single day, to have the three little miracles I get to call mine.  I know many people who had to go through a lot more than I did to have children, and I am so thankful that I was able to have my babies when I did, and that all went well.  Being a mommy is such a dream come true for me, and I pinch myself every morning when my boys come climbing into bed with me.

I am trying really hard to focus on gratitude right now, and to find things to add to my life that bring me joy and hopefully help to fill that void for the time being until the day that I get to be a mommy again.  So for now, I will be content with snuggling my sister's little boy that will be born this spring, and my best girlfriend's baby that will be born this summer.  At least I will be surrounded by all that newborn goodness that I can soak in while I am waiting for my turn.  :) 

I love the way newborns smell, and the way they just seem to melt into your body when you hold them. I love snuggling them right on my chest, watching them sleep.  I love changing those tiny, wrinkly bums and playing with the soft newborn hair.  I love the tiny little squeaks that are the first cries for food, and the way they always seem to find ways to get where they need to be to nurse.  I love the way you can just feel the legions of angels around, and the magical, special spirit that is in your home for the first few weeks of having this new life in your home. 

I love swaddling their tiny little bodies, putting tiny little booties on tiny little feet.  I love the way that I have always felt and known that the special little person I am holding was sent here to me, handpicked from my Heavenly Father.  I am always in awe of that, and I wonder what kinds of things we will learn and teach one another.  It's so amazing to me to think that we may have been close friends before.

I am so grateful for the three little angels I get to call my own.  They bring so much joy and fullness to my life, and every day I am awe of the amazing little people they are.  They are a reminder to me of the miracle of life, of love, and of family.  I love being a mommy more than almost anything in the world (second only to being a wife, but that's another post for another day).  It is such an amazing treasure and adventure.  I am glad I get to be the mother of my three sweet, busy boys to tide me over until the day I get to be a mother of four.  Hopefully that day will come soon, but either way, right now I am content to be patient and know that this stage in my life is "just a phase" and it too will one day pass.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

i'm gonna miss this

The words of a certain favorite country song of mine were ringing in my head this morning as I awoke to two energetic little boys:  a four-year-old dragon killer holding a "button" made of a sucker wrapper in his hand(for you to push it and turn him into "kind of superhero") and a three-year-old Santa Claus asking me what I wanted for Christmas only to inform me that this Santa only made trains (all of this being said in his "Santa voice" which is talking with your tongue so high up in your mouth you can hardly say a thing).  After a few minutes of pretend, both boys ended up giggling under my covers hiding from all kinds of wild beasts that they took turns "killing" including lions, tigers, dragons, and bears. 

I love these little boys' imaginations!  I am definitely going to soak it all in right now while I can.  I really am going to miss this....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

aunt velma's sheet cake

In light of a certain "special day" today for me, I am going to share one of my favorite and easiest recipes.  Since Wes is at work tonight, I think I will be making a little of this myself with the boys and throw myself a little party.  ;) 

My Granny's sister, Velma, is the creator of this recipe.  My Granny and her sisters were all excellent cooks....I'm lucky to have been handed so many delicious, simple recipes.  And of course, I am always happy to share them with you!  Yum!

Aunt Velma's Sheet Cake

Boil on the stove:
1 stick of butter (1/4 C)
3 tbsp. cocoa
1 cup water

Mix separately:
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp. vinegar (trust me, you won't taste it, but you will miss it if it's not there)
1 tsp. vanilla

Add these to the second mix:
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
dash salt

Next, add the wet ingredients.  Mix well and pour in a greased(with cooking spray) 11x16 pan.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Once it's cooled, you can frost it.  We use Velma's chocolate frosting.  It makes a TON, so we usually just save the rest for graham crackers or something.  Here's that recipe:

Frosting:
1 stick butter (1/4 cup)
5 tbsp. milk
4 tbsp. cocoa

Boil the first three ingredients and let them cook for a bit.  Then add 1 pkg. powdered sugar (the regular size, not the Costco size)

Happy cake eating!

PS - Wes doesn't like cake, but he LOVES this recipe.

Monday, March 7, 2011

baby feet

Don't you just want to kiss these?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

remembering and surrendering

Going through all of the health issues I've dealt with recently has actually had its good parts.  It's forced me, amongst all the busy craziness of life, to stop dead in my tracks and take a good hard look at myself.

When Wes and I first got married, I was very young....barely 20.  I'd never had a full-time job, lived away from home, sacrificed my needs for something or someone else.  I didn't know how to cook or take care of a home.  I didn't really learn to balance my needs, someone else's, and our needs as a family, amongst other things such as jobs, homemaking, etc.

It was not easy, wait, it was hard for me to move so far away from home when Wes whisked me away on our wedding day.  I was so happy to be married to him, and excited for the adventures that lay ahead, but I had a lot of growing up to do.

And grow up I did.  I think I got a little too grown-up in some regards.  I delved right in to 70-80 hour work weeks, coming home to cook dinner and take care of our home, being in the Young Womens' presidency in our ward, trying to find the connections between the family I just left and my new family that had already begun to grow.  I am proud of myself for the way I really stepped up and did everything I needed to do - full out - with a really good attitude.  I did it all blindly and in good faith.  And we were blessed for both mine and Wes' efforts.

But I also kind of lost myself in the midst of it all.  Unknowingly.  I didn't ever really stop and think about things I wasn't doing to take care of my needs, or things I felt like fed my spirit.  I just joyfully jumped into this new life and left parts of myself behind.  And life kept on going.  And everyone knows that the older you get, the faster life passes right on by.

Until something like this trial comes along.  Every part of my soul has been tested...pushed to the very limit and even beyond.  It's been ugly and really scary at times.  And challenging.  But also good in ways I never would have known.

One of the blessings that has come from all of this is that I started to remember, little by little, who I really was, and be that person again.  For example, putting Wes through school forced me to become a hyperactive, workaholic person, although by nature, I am pretty mellow and easygoing.  I didn't used to be so focused on "getting things done" and out of the way, but better at relaxing and really stopping and smelling the roses (and quite possibly a little more than I needed to).  I'm glad that doing what I needed to do when Wes and I started our lives' together taught me a balance, and it reaffirmed to me that there is a place for work, and that working hard feels SO good and fulfilling.  But I am equally grateful for the Lord recognizing that I'd learned this lesson and then nudging me back to where I am comfortable, although in a little more responsible than I used to be.

I really love sitting at my piano and letting time pass by, or taking pictures and suddenly noticing and appreciating the overwhelming beauty of the earth and everything in it.  I love going to the temple and basking in the beauty and the peace that's there as often as I can.  I love doing yoga every morning, or curling up on the couch with a good book and a little treat, or snuggling the boys in my bed at naptime and napping with them.  I love getting all muddy in the garden or making a mess inside with a sewing project or some other home improvements.  I love exploring the world, finding the good in others, doing service, and making memories.

When I brought my new camera home, my younger brother, Jesse (who is 14), asked why I bought I camera.  He didn't even remember how I used to go everywhere with a camera around my neck, or stay up way to late playing my guitar and singing in my room, or all the amazing tricks I had taught our childhood dog, Sam.  Thinking about all of that really hit me and made me stop and think about a lot of things, including who I am and who I used to be and how they needed to blend a little better.

Amazingly, once I recognized how I had kind of gotten stuck in "survival mode" and forgotten to shift down from it a little, it's been an almost effortless mesh of the way I was before and the positive ways I have grown and changed for the better, and I'm finally starting to feel like me again.

Don't get me wrong, it has been a heck of an emotional ride, and I have a feeling it's not over, but I am starting to see why this all had to happen and what is so amazing and good about it.  It has been incredible to really have my faith tested past what I felt was my limit and somehow reach even farther and become stronger and more enduring than I had ever realized.  What a humbling experience. 

There is so much richness and sweetness in life.  There is so much adventure to be had and memories to be made.  So many kind words to say and thoughtful things to do.  There is beauty to soak in and enjoy and relax in and there is renewal in the dawn of every new day.  There is love all around us, all the time, more than I had ever realized before.

I am so grateful for the way challenges force me to open my heart and mind in ways I can't when things are all well in my life.  I am amazed at how receptive my mind and spirit is and how quickly I can learn when I am forced to stop and become more humble.  Humility is such an incredible thing...it's so important but so hard to keep in our lives.  But I find when I am humble there is a quiet contentment in my life that is just there no matter what is going on.  And a quiet strength that goes right along with it.

I've reached the point where I am realizing that this is all a process, and that I know I have done and will continue to do everything I can to get well, but ultimately, the Lord has something so beautiful and incredible in store for me, and I have to be patient and know that He knows me and loves me and recognizes what I need....even when it takes me awhile to figure it out.  Patience is truly a virtue and one that I am finally just surrendering to.  My faith and testimony of the gospel has been strengthened and renewed, and with that comes a humility and willingness to just surrender and submit to the will of the Lord.  He has brought me so much joy, and countless blessings, and it's okay sometimes to reach the end of my rope and to rely on him to help me through.  He will lift my burdens, like he always has, and I just need to trust that he's there to do it.

I feel good about the decisions we have made regarding my health, and Wes has told me that he does too.  I think it has been a real test of our faith, since we have had to really go against the "norm" and put our faith in the Lord and listen to and obey his promptings.  I feel like learning this together is going to help us so much in our lives together....especially while raising children.  There is nothing I want more than to have that close connection with my Heavenly Father and to be able to bravely and instinctively know, He's showing me, what my children need and how to raise them and teach them what's right, what brings them joy and fulfillment in their lives, and how to love.

Things in our home right now are quietly becoming very peaceful amidst the chaos that is everyday life and its challenges.  I can't even describe the feelings of peace and contentment and love that I feel just radiating around me from all over right now....I hope I can keep it with me when all is said and done.

Life is such a treasure, and so are the many lessons I am learning while I am experiencing it.  I feel so blessed to be where I am now, with the people I love, striving to be the best I can be.

the many faces of micah

Micah has many faces....
(Please excuse the blur....I just had  to put this one in since Wes and I were laughing out loud)


But two of my very favorite faces of all are this:

And this:
Doesn't he just melt your heart?  I love this little boy so much!

little sisters

Yesterday my phone rang.  I glanced at the number before I answered it and noticed it was my mom.  I was surprised to hear that distinct, sweet, little girl's voice on the other end.  It was one of my little sisters, Hallie.

She had called to invite me to her "unicorn's birthday party" which she had apparently planned all by herself.  She'd found her unicorn a gift and wrapped it all up with copy paper and tape, and asked my mom to dial my other sister, Melinda, and me, to invite us to her party.  A girl after my own heart. 

Of course I told her I'd be there.  How often, with three little boys, do I get to play girly games like this?Never.  I grabbed my trusty ball of yarn and quickly hand-crocheted her and her unicorn matching pink necklaces. 

Kolton finally decided he wanted in on the fun and got to work making this to take to the party:

How did I get so lucky to be surrounded by such cuteness?

Kolton insisted on "wrapping" his present by sliding it in between pages of a library book, which I hesitantly agreed to (we don't have the best record when it comes to library books), and we took off to meet the fam at Chick-Fil-A.

 Here is the unicorn "opening her presents......
 I swear, I can never look at Nate without laughing.  He cracks me up!
(Please excuse the blur.  It was really hard to get good pictures with all the kids bouncing off the walls in excitement.  This photo was no exception.)

 Jonah happily chomped away on his giraffe while the festivities were underway.....

 Here is "unicorn" opening her presents.....


WOW!

All in all, it was a fun night had by all.  I'm so glad I have two very young little sisters to enjoy while I patiently wait for my own little girl someday.  Love you, Hal.

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