Saturday, February 21, 2015

the blessing and the curse of knowledge

They say that knowledge is power and NBC always tells me "the more you know."

And yes I agree, knowledge is good and powerful and important. I love learning new things of all types.

But there is a negative side to knowledge too. . Because when you identify the cause of a problem, when you finally understand something important, when the haze clears--it can be overwhelming and depressing.

Sometimes I get tired of hearing myself talk about food. So forgive me for talking about it now. But sometimes a girl just needs to process and get it out. In writing I often find truths I never saw before.

2015 has not started well for my digestive health.

Here's the elevator version of the past few years...

Summer of 2012, on the testimony of my chiropractor, I listened to the audio version of "Wheat Belly" and decided to do a gluten-free experiment. After two weeks of GF eating, I reintroduced gluten and found that my lifelong debilitating migraines were linked to gluten. And suddenly I HAD to be gluten free. Because even just a little gluten caused a massive migraine. (The irony of my post about this discovery is that now I can't even eat tortilla chips and most ice cream has too much sugar or crazy ingredients that make me feel yucky.)

My sister introduced me to the Balanced Bites podcast. Then I found "The Paleo View". Suddenly everything in my life was pointing me to Paleo. I was commuting hours each week and had plenty of time to listen and learn. I was intrigued by the science, the testimonies and saw much of myself reflected in the accounts. I gave up Diet Coke once and for all. Completed a 21-Day Sugar Detox and a Whole 30. I noticed that many grains were causing discomfort and bloating so I reduced my consumption but still seemed to tolerate them on occasion.

Last year (2014) I had to eat pretty strict Paleo to feel my best. I knew if I was eating too much sugar or too many grains or processed foods because I would get bloated and have more headaches and digestive distress. It was also a pretty stressful year of completing nursing school. I am pretty convinced that had I not discovered the gluten link to my migraines and the Paleo lifestyle I would have had a major health crisis during nursing school or not been able to finish it.

Early in January I seemed to get a stomach bug that it took me almost a month to fully shake. Or maybe it was something else, I don't know. All I know is I was having digestive issues, consuming way less than my body needed and really struggling. I lost at least 5lbs. I cut out every possible irritating food group (nightshades, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds). Yeah, doesn't leave you with a lot of options.

The last few weeks I've been doing a little better, but that also means I started reintroducing foods into my diet--some that probably are safe for me, but other "gray area" foods and probably thanks to Valentine's Day too much candy and chocolate. I probably should have tried to continue eating a more limited diet. I'm pretty sure I have a "leaky gut" and need to continue to avoid those foods in order to heal.

And so tonight, this San Diego just wanted to enjoy a Mexican style meal. So I ate some tortilla chips and a small scoop of beans with my carne asada, cheese and guac.

Unfortunate mistake.

Within several minutes I had a stomach ache, a headache and feel bloated and awful.

The truth is, my body CANNOT tolerate grains. I had a small scoop of rice the other night with a similar reaction. This means I can't enjoy most "gluten free" foods many use to still enjoy a cookie, a piece of toast or pizza. All of those products are made with rice and corn.



This is a difficult truth for me to really own. I want to be able to eat a few tortilla chips or some rice on occasion. The reality is, it's not worth it. And like the title of this blog, I need to embrace it. To own it and live it. Even when it sucks. Even when I have to turn down 99% of the food offered at a party or event. Even when I can't eat 90% of the food my family eats.

I want to feel good. I need to be healthy. My family deserves a mom who isn't sick or laying in bed with a stomach ache, which is what I want to do right now. The fetal position sounds amazing for my hurting belly.

The knowledge of nutrition and digestive health is overwhelming to me right now. There are so many different approaches I could take to healing. I wish I could go to an integrative doctor and have a lot of fancy testing done to determine the root of some of my problems and the best approach to healing.

But I do know how to eat to feel good and not feel sick. And so that's where I need to start and where I need to stay. No indulgences that I will pay for. It's not about being on a diet or "cheating". It's about my body receiving nutrition it can digest and process and put to good use.

Once again I'm really just preaching to myself. Because I've not been following this gospel, even though I have already experienced the truth of it.

So yes, I do eat Paleo. I eat real food that is nutritious. Not to be snotty or stuck up. Not because I want to be trendy or because it's the latest fad diet. I eat this way because I have to. If I don't want to feel awful and sick. And I am thankful I discovered Paleo because it probably is saving the quality of my life.

Don't be fooled though, I'd give anything for some doughy pizza, soft chocolate chip cookies and to enjoy some of the Thin Mints my daughter is currently selling.

Those desires may change some day, but that day is not today.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday song: I Breathe You In, God

I am a firm believer that our attitude towards life determines much of our life. If we choose to cling to anger, bitterness and hurt, we will be angry, bitter and hurt. But if we choose to trust God, to surrender our emotions to him we will see his sovereignty and in the midst of difficult circumstances we can trust that he is for us, that he is still good and there is a bigger story and purpose for what we go through.

Not that it's always easy to make that choice. It's a daily decision. Sometimes we have to willfully make that choice hourly or moment by moment.


This weekend I've been watching archived videos from IF:Gathering in Texas. Many of the bloggers/authors/speakers I follow and read spoke and let me tell you: POWERFUL. I don't know how long the videos will be on the website for free. There are hours, but even if you can just watch a few of the talks I encourage you to do so. I found my soul so fed and heard messages I desperately needed. God is still speaking to me. I still have several hours to watch and I hope I get the chance to.

One of the first segments was an interview with the women from this blog post entitled, The Cheerleader.  April lost her two young sons in a horrific tornado. Just days later these words are recorded.  “I have peace,” she told me last night through her tears, “I know I have more pain to go through that I probably can understand. But I have supernatural peace. I don’t know what God has for me and my husband that our boys couldn’t be here for, but I do know that He is good. His plan is good.” 

Her statement echoes what a dear friend of mine said : "We can't pretend to see His hand, but we are desperately clinging to Him because we know He is the only way through this kind of hurt and pain." We can either run from God or we can run to God.


I love the bridge of Brian and Katie Torwalt's song "I Breathe You In, God."


When I don't understand, I will choose You. When I don't understand I will choose You.

When I don't understand, I will choose to love you God.

Sometimes, all we can do is breathe God in and say I choose You. I choose to trust You. I choose to love You.







The presence of the Living God 
Satisfies the depths of my heart
And all of me I change when you came
And I'm led free by Your glory and grace
And I breathe You in,God
Cause You are there all around me

The kindness of Your love's pure light
Pierces through the darkest of all night
And everything is possible now
For God is here
And God is good


And You are good, God
For You are good to me


And when I don't understand
I will choose You

And when I don't understand
I will choose to love You, God

Its my privilege 
To worship You
To worship

For You are good, God
For You are good to me

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. I took a rest day today. I had a hard time getting out of bed when the kids got home from school (remember, night shift) and even though another Piyo workout would have been just 30 min and not too strenuous, I decided a rest day was in order. I'm not always good at taking rest days, when it comes to exercise or anything else. I push too hard until I crash. But I'm learning to be nicer to myself, to give myself grace and trust my instincts.

2. One of the hardest things about working night shift is missing my husband and missing sleeping in the same bed as him. We get precious little time together as it is. I find it so comforting to get in bed next to him at night. We aren't big cuddlers in bed, but some part of us--arms, legs etc are always touching when we fall asleep. I can't wait for tomorrow night! (photo circa 2000, our dating era)


3. I love words and stories and I'm a sucker for reading the gazillion articles that get shared on Facebook. While I wish Facebook would create a feed that was JUST status updates and personal photos, I do find some good reads. And I admit, I always share some myself.

Here's a few good reads this week:
Oh to Sit Still: Adventures in Babywearing
This resonates with me so strongly. I just told a friend the other day "I miss the days of being "locked" in the house with little ones just counting down until everyone, including me, could take a nap." I loved having babies and I'm still trying to figure out how to be a good mom to my growing children. The days are constantly on the move and I do miss sitting still, nursing a baby and cuddling my little ones.

You're Never Going to Be Fully Ready: Storyline Blog
Shauna Niequist hits it out of the park again with this post about not waiting for whatever it is you want to do, just jumping in and figuring it out as you go. This applies to so much in life.

"Come At Me Bro" Parenting: Rage Against the Minivan
In my head, this is the type of parenting I do. In reality, I don't do it enough. This is how my parents raised me and my siblings. Our kids need more of this. Because this is life. One of the best parenting analogies I've read equated parents to referees in a basketball game. As parents, we need to call the fouls right away--not just threaten to call them, or warn that "next time you'll get a penalty."

My Body Broken for You: Scissortail Silk
I haven't read this blog before, but I loved this post. Life has a way of changing us but so often we cling to our former self instead of embracing who we are becoming, our scars, our stories, our triumphs. "My goal shouldn’t be to find the “me” that was lost. My goal should be to make friends with the woman that I have become. To embrace her for who she is. Scars and all."

Why Having More Babies Isn't As Crazy as You Think: Loving My Lot
Another first time read, but this echoes my heart and soul. Like I mentioned, mothering growing children doesn't come as naturally to me as mothering my babies. Many women struggle through those early months and years and while I will agree they are hard and exhausting, for me they were so fulfilling and precious. " You realize there are worse things than a long night, and challenges really do pass, and tiny toes don’t stay tiny forever.  You know cribs turn into beds and strollers turn into bikes, and the chubby cheeks making fish faces today will be wearing your makeup tomorrow." 

Tomorrow is Friday! Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

nightshifts, transitions and some Piyo

This week I'm working three night shifts in a row. A lot of the nurses I work with choose this schedule, but I've only done two in a row since I started working. As a nurse working three shifts in a row ensures you will have some of the same patients and when you work nights it's a little easier the second and third night since you slept during the day. I'm on night #2 and feeling pretty good thanks to 6.5 hours of sleep today.



In some ways, working nights is hard. But there are benefits to it as well. Such as I got to spend the whole afternoon with my kids before coming back to work. That to me is priceless. To survive working nights I always take a nap before my first night shift, even if it is just 1 hour. I have a sleep mask to trick my brain into thinking it's dark and I use a free app to provide white noise. I use the mask, sleep app as well as darkening curtains (actually an old brown sheet hung over the window--classy I know) when I sleep during the day. I always go straight to bed when I get home and 4 hour is my minimum. If I am working again the next night, I need 6+ hours. I eat really nutritiously (avoiding all the break room goodies) during my shift as well.

After next week, night shifts will be even better because I will be working as a R.N.! Currently I'm stuck to a computer and phone which causes drowsiness of course. As an R.N. I'll be much more on the move with various tasks to complete all night. After tonight I have just 4 shifts left as an assistant. Then I will have a week off (whoo-hoo!) before starting as an R.N. We start with a few days of classes and orientation and I'm waiting to find out when my first shift on the floor is.

I'm STINKING EXCITED!
Read to feel a little more settle, ready to have a bigger paycheck [even though way too much will be going to student loans], ready to have less stress in life. I am so thankful for this opportunity and what the future holds.


I miss running this week, but it was a good decision to take the week off. I'm anxiously anticipating when I run again...maybe Sunday? I borrowed Piyo from my sister in law who is a Beach Body coach and wow these workouts kick my butt! It's not intense cardio but you sweat and oh the sore! It's a combination of pilates and yoga. I like that it moves, you aren't holding poses for a long period of time and she puts a bunch of moves together. It's a great compliment to running and I could see myself using some of the workouts on easy run or rest days.

Now I'm off for a day of sleep before my 3rd night of work. Yikes!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday song: It Is Well [Bethel]

I love music. I love singing. I love listening to music.

The most played station on my Pandora is based on Bethel Music. I love the voices, the lyrics, the swell of their songs. Recently I discovered the Amazon Prime Music App. If you have Amazon Prime, you need to take advantage of this app! You can stream and download tons of music for free. Newly released music isn't always available, but after some time it's often there. I recently added the Bethel Albums "Tides" and "You Make Me Brave" to my Amazon app.




 One of the songs I discovered not too long ago and have listened to countless times since, is "It Is Well." That has always been one of my favorite hymns. When I was a senior in high school I paid for my own piano lessons and remember learning to play a simple version of that song and loving it. (I didn't stick with piano, but I want to go back and learn again).
This song by Bethel uses the chorus of the traditional hymn with their own verses. I love the original verses as well.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say
It is well, with my soul

The story behind this hymn is incredible. 

There are many days I need to be reminded that it is well with my soul. No matter what the day holds, no matter my disappointments and frustrations, no matter the curveballs and strikeouts--God is sovereign, he is on the throne, he is the night watchman calling out that all is well.

I can let go, and trust in him.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

brain dump on writing, running, {not} eating & embracing

I came across some old files the other day that contained a bunch of poetry and writing from high school. I was reminded how much I enjoy writing and it's always been therapeutic for me. I'm not saying any of it is Pulitzer Prize material, but it's real and it's me. Early in high school I started keeping a prayer journal. Each entry is a mix of a letter to God and a diary entry about my life. I have saved them all and have probably thousands of sheets written. I still keep a prayer journal, although my entries aren't as long as they were in high school.


This space is an outlet for me too, and a great way to document my families life. I enjoy the community I have found in the social media world, although my real every day community always takes priority. Too often I get caught up in wanting to make my blog feel more professional or carefully crafted posts. But maybe I just need to return to writing. After all, some of my favorite blogs to read are just about everyday life, fun and challenges.

The running bug has bitten me again, as I knew it would once I finished school and had more time. But the more time doesn't always happen and I wish I was able to log about 5 more miles a week than I currently am (10-15). But my health journey and all I've learned in the past few years puts me a bit at odds with logging lots of miles. I know that chronic cardio can be detrimental to your health and that cross-training and have enough rest is important too. So I am trying to balance my need for miles with respecting my health--especially when I am recovering from working a night shift.


In fact, I have decided to place myself on the inactive running list for the next week. I have been having a lot of frustrating digestive issues and my current caloric intake isn't truly enough to support running. I still was running this past week--because NEED--but it may not have been super smart. I ran a few treadmill miles before work tonight and maybe one of them was pretty fast and maybe my back is hurting, My own fault. So I'm going to borrow PiYo from my sister-in-law for the week and take things down a notch.

This whole stomach thing is super frustrating. I already eat almost all real food--nothing super processed, I avoid all the weird chemicals and preservatives. I eat gluten-free and have been strictly grain-free for a few weeks. I have even eliminated caffeine, dairy, eggs, nightshades, nuts and seeds the past 10 days to try and fix things. None of these foods give me problems that I know of, but I know they are inflammatory and so I am trying to treat any root causes I can. I have a doctor's appointment next week because this has been going on for weeks now. Eating the equivalent of 1-2 meals per day, if I'm lucky, just isn't ok.

Some days I rock at this whole "embrace the day, whatever it holds" thing. But a lot of days, I don't. I find myself comparing, unsatisfied with areas of my life, frustrated that I never seem to cross anything off of my perpetual "to-do" list because the daily non-negotiables fill the day. And things happen like yesterday when I realized 2 of girls needed antibiotics and so we spent almost 3 hours in Urgent Care to get it taken care of.

The manifesto I arrived at for the year? Just survive. And do my best to thrive. I need to accept and embrace better. And carpe diem. Instead of worrying about tomorrow.

And that, is my brain dump. And this is my prayer. That be clothed in strength and dignity and face each day with all my trust in God.





Friday, January 23, 2015

field trip fun

In the past two weeks I was able to go on field trips with my 2nd grader and my 5th grader. While I've tried to make to at least a few class parties these past two years, nursing school made it difficult to do much else with the kid's school. I was so thankful I could make my work schedule to accommodate these trips. It makes me so happy that my kids WANT me to come on these trips with them. Especially the 5th grader. You never know when kids decide they don't want you around. My philosophy is to be as present as possible when they actively want me, trusting that will build bridges for the years when parents aren't so cool.

First up was a 2nd grade trip to the zoo! One of the benefits of living in San Diego is their educational trips are someone's summer vacation. I'm thankful these locations value education too--as an extra parent I was able to participate for just $11.



Gracie was being goofy and insisting I hold her like this for a photo. All the kids had some sort of identifying name tag with their school info on it. Gracie's class decorated these visors with animal stickers and the info was written on the underside. Cute and creative!

We took a bus tour first. Almost all the kids and the "official chaperones" sat on the top deck. As extras, several other parents and I sacrificed and sat on the bottom. And by sacrificed I mean we got to chat about life as well as what we were seeing and not be overwhelmed by loud clamoring kids. It pays to be an extra sometimes!

Here was our group of four koalas, I mean kiddos, and there were three parents along too. So we were pretty set!


Of course the zoo is always looking to make another buck, and so you can take a photo in front of a green screen and they photoshop baby pandas in. I may have gotten in trouble for snapping this photo of the computer screen. But we were under strict orders to buy nothing at the zoo, so I was just following directions. It was too cute not to have record of.



One of my favorite exhibits at the Zoo is always the monkeys and gorillas and Gracie loved them too. In fact her second birthday was a monkey theme because she loved monkeys.  It almost looks like she's right next to this orangutang, but in fact there is glass between them. The orangutangs were really active and seemed to interact with the kids. Gracie took about a bazillion photos on my phone at this exhibit.  I wouldn't be surprised if her future career involves animals somehow.


 And this week was a 5th grade trip to Sea World. The parent-child ratio in our group was much larger and wow I never realized how excitable and loud 5th graders are! Our little gang with a penguin friend.


We started off in on a simulation ride and it was mostly filled with screaming 5th graders. I felt sorry for the mom and her 5 year old son who ended up with us. She turned around at one point to tell me and another mom "I can't hear any of the narration." Sorry about that!

We've had Sea World passes for many years now and I always try to spend $0 when we go because it's usually just for a few hours and I bring snacks and drinks. But I acquiesced--because 5th grade field trip--and let Miss Rose feed the bat rays. She shared her fish with friends. Her face was priceless after the bat ray sucked up the fish with it's mouth which is on the bottom of its body.


There was an educational Shamu show for all the schools in attendance that day. Our school had a special post-show photo session and Q&A with a trainer thanks to a dad who works there. First, check out the one month old baby killer whale swimming the pool after the show.


It was a bummer the kids didn't actually see this whale up close behind them, but what an awesome photo! They had the whale come up just for the photo. I hope these kids know how lucky they are to spend the day at Sea World! (and my parent ticket was just $6!)


I am so happy I was able to share this experience with my first baby girl, who is turning 11 next week. She's just a few inches from being taller than me. I love seeing her interact with her friends and be a kid.


This is a blessed life. In spite of challenges and struggles and trying to make it all work, I love this life God had given me.