Monday, July 30, 2012

a few days with the Mouse

We are just about packed up and ready for our little family vacation. We head up to Disneyland early in the morning. We are spending the next day at California Adventure, then spending one more night and taking our time leaving the next morning.

I know this is our first official vacation as a family of 5 (which we have been for 3.5 years). It may be our first vacation since having more than one child. When you live in a vacation destination, and your kids are little and need naps and a good nights sleep, cramming into a hotel room just doesn't sound fun. But we have been in no-nap land for a few months now and it's finally time.

Plus you know, we were blessed with the tickets and 1 night in a hotel. Money is always an issue in vacations too!

The girls are so excited. We had to make a paper link chain a few weeks ago to help them count down. Although Gracie (5) kept calling it a "keychain." Not only are they excited about Disneyland, but also about staying in a hotel. I'm not sure what they are expecting and we won't be ordered room service, but hopefully it will be memorable. I haven't mentioned to them that the hotel has a small waterpark too.

Gracie "packed" her suitcase by herself earlier tonight. It was 3/4 full of stuffed animals, toys and blankets. She had two outfits and two pairs of pajamas and that was it! Who needs anything else when you are going to the happiest place on earth.

We went to Disneyland a little over two years ago when Miss Rose and Gracie were 6 and 3. Would you believe I didn't write a post on our trip? Nor did I upload any pictures of it to Facebook. AND I recently archived photos from my computer to an external drive an OF COURSE that was the last month that I archived. So I have nothing to show you.

Gracie doesn't remember much about that trip in 2010. I have no doubt that Lily will remember this trip though. Gracie and Lily are "princess" girls and may pee their pants when they see the princesses around the park. We've promised them all they can get a few souvenirs as well.

I'm hoping to convince them all to ride as many rides as possible. Miss Rose will be pretty adventurous and I think Lily will too--Gracie is the one who may be most hesitant.

Above all, Bean and I are looking forward to family time and memories made. It may be hot and crowded, but we are all their together and that's what matters.

Follow me on Twitter and you're sure to hear a little bit about our trip as it progresses.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

slow run, slow life

Running has become a metaphor for almost everything in my life. It's very common for me to equate running, training, or racing to various aspects of life. A lot of these metaphors stay in my head. I worry that I talk about running too much. Especially for someone who's not a fierce competitor and my times are "fast for me."

But nonetheless, I am a runner. Running has become integral and crucial in my life, so I talk about it.
This is the second year my husband and I have been involved in a marriage discipleship group. There is a mentor couple that lead the group of six couples. We meet quarterly for a day. There is a theme for the day and we spend the morning alone with God, then the afternoon together with God. Our group is called "Alone Together."  Both Roger and I have really benefitted personally and together from these days alone together. It's an investment in ourselves and our marriage.

Read the rest of my post over on my running blog...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

just be me

"When you let others’ expectations drive you, you scatter your energy to the winds," -Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

I struggle with this.
I struggle with being me. With owning my feelings and not feeling guilty for how I feel.
I'm often overly concerned with what people think, how my actions and words will be taken.
I don't want to cause people pain. I don't want to let people down.

But I'm working on this. I need to be okay with owning my feelings. Even if others wish I felt different. Even if they feel let down.

I need to just be me.
To do what I need to do. To be where I need to be. To say no. To say yes. Because it's right for me.
To have things I don't do. 
To know what I do.

Who I am is who God made me.
Who I am is because of my life experiences.
Who I am is because of who HE is.

In this season

I will

Just be me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

at least I can still eat ice cream and chips & salsa

Several years ago, hardly anyone knew what "gluten" and "gluten-free" meant.  Most of us had never heard the word. I remember in 2007 going on a missions trip and a few members were bringing a lot of their own food due to celiac disease.  Three or four years ago, my youngest sister started having a lot of digestive and health issues and cut gluten out of her diet and had some positive results. She makes the most divine bread rolls every Thanksgiving, yet she has never eaten them.

A few months ago I was talking to my chiropractor and he mentioned he was reading a book called Wheat Belly and how he had recently cut wheat out of his diet due to some health issues--and he's a pretty healthy guy to begin with. He said in one month of being wheat-free he had dropped several pounds and felt better than he had in months.

I was intrigued and put a request in at my library for the book. The waiting list was super long, so I also requested the audio version.  The audio version came available sooner and I started listening at the end of June on a 2-hour round trip drive.

It was pretty interesting to hear about this heart doctor's experiences with his patients and the research he did on wheat and how it affects the body. The basic premise of the book is that the wheat crop has been changed and hybridized over thousands of years to make it more hearty and produce more for the entire world. What we eat as wheat, even if it's organic, is drastically different from the ancient crop. And our bodies don't necessarily fare well with how modern wheat affects us.

According to the book, wheat effects every system in our bodies. And one of it's byproducts during digestion actually crosses the blood-brain barrier. I came across this awesome blog post that outlines some of the effects of wheat on our bodies. I'll summarize here, but check out the post for more details.

Wheat creates exorphins--which are similar to endorphins and make us feel happy. Then we get grumpy when there are no more exorphins and we want more. So we get another piece of bread.  Wheat is also an appetite stimulant. When you eat it, you want more. So you binge. All the carbs stimulate insulin, which shifts our bodies into fat storage.

Quotes are from the above linked blog.

"Brain fog, persistent fatigue and profound lethargy are common side effects of wheat consumption because of the wheat proteins that cross the blood-brain barrier."  You don't have to have celiac disease to be sensitive to gluten. That's what the doctor determined with my sister.  This is heavy: "Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can damage the brain and nervous system, thus causing dementia, balance loss, migraines, peripheral neuropathy, ADHD and autism symptoms."

Not only these things, but wheat raises your blood sugar more than regular table sugar. "That means wheat based products which constitute of huge part of a standard American diet are causing big swings in blood sugar and insulin levels. A big gush of insulin will cause blood sugar to drop quickly, which in turn produces a backlash of hypoglycemic symptoms - shakiness, nausea or headache."

There's more, but those are some of the most outstanding things to me.

I am NOT one prone to fad diets or saying "I'll never eat/drink that again." I believe in moderation and balance. And we all have vices. Like cupcakes and Diet Coke, right? I want to enjoy life and food is enjoyable to me.  I run to have the release, but I also run so I can enjoy dessert.

However, I was intrigued enough to do a wheat-free experiment. I started with 5 or 6 days. At times it was a little challenging. I enjoy a piece of toast with morning eggs, and I love Flat-Out wraps. We eat pasta and bread at least once a week for dinner and who doesn't love pizza? I tried reading labels and looking for added wheat but I wasn't ultra vigilant.  

My initial goal was better control of my appetite and perhaps making headway with the pesky 5-10lbs that I can't seem to lose no matter how much I run, exercise and count calories (the book addresses this issue too).  I did notice that I didn't get as ravenous and seemed to be a little less tired. And maybe I was having fewer headaches also.

I have been plagued with headaches my entire life. I remember being in first grade and getting terrible headaches causing me to need to lie down in a dark room. I have taken so much Advil in my life it's atrocious. In college I went to a neurologist and didn't find anything seriously wrong with me--I have a small mouth and I have TMJ and that is a source of tension for my head.  My headaches are a combo of tension and migraines. 

After the first 5 or 6 days, I totally fell off the bandwagon for the weekend. I was going into a 2 day cleanse and as always binged before doing that. But the cleanse went well and after that I stayed relatively wheat-free. That second week it became clear that I was having way fewer headaches, and only took Advil once or twice instead of daily. And the mid-afternoon slump almost completely disappeared. Usually I want to lay down and take a nap every afternoon, no matter how much sleep I got the night before. But not having all the blood sugar rises and dips gave me more sustaining energy.

This last week I did a few more experiments.  I ate pasta and bread a few nights ago. And before I even left the dinner table I felt the particular type of pain in my head that signals an oncoming bad headache. Because I have had these headaches my entire life, I have learned to function pretty well with them. They've been almost daily. Going to the chiropractor regularly has helped, but they have still been an issue.  

One day last week was really busy and we were gone most of the day and I didn't have enough "good" food with me to eat. I ate chips and other junk and had a bad headache that night. I felt terrible.

Now that it's been 3-4 weeks, I really notice the changes in my body when I eat gluten. I usually get bloated, often a headache and bad gas. Yup. I said bad gas. It's the truth.  On Sunday I decided to eat a donut with the family and sure enough, I felt yucky for several hours. (but I love maple donuts, so it was kinda worth it)

So, I guess I'm giving the gluten-free lifestyle a try. The other night the family ate Costco pizza and I wanted some so badly. Thankfully though, there are a lot of foods I enjoy that are gluten-free, so I don't have to miss out. Hello burrito bowls at Chipotle! 

I'm still navigating this for myself. Tonight I ate grilled ham & cheese on a corn tortilla. Not quite the same as toasty bread, but it worked. Ultimately, I'd like to cut back on the gluten my kids eat. I wonder if it would help Miss Rose's allergies and some minor skin issues she has. It would certainly keep their blood sugar more stable which could mean less behavior issues. My girls (like me) have always been sensitive to low blood sugar and lack of protein in their diet. 

I will say, the Wheat Belly book recommends limiting other foods and ingredients in your diet as well. I'm not quite there, and I don't know that I ever will be. I want to feel good and enjoy life. If not eating wheat helps me feel good, then that's enough for me.  I like not feeling ravenous and I love having energy in the afternoon.

I'm hoping that an occasional cupcake will still agree with me. The frosting is the most important part ot me anyways.

And, at least I can still eat ice cream and chips & salsa. 

Edited to add: Here's another article, shorter than the previous one linked, that outlines major points from the book as well. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

the work of summer

I never knew how tiring having fun was. Well, in some ways I did, because don't we all need a vacation after our vacation? But giving my kids the summer of their lives--is exhausting. I work-work-work all to make sure we can have fun, while not having the house in shambles all the time. Bean is all for us having fun, but he wouldn't be so down with a house that was a disaster.

This week? Monday, I think we hung out at home all day. It was glorious. Tuesday we went to a dollar movie and brought a couple friends too, who came and played for a while. When we are home, I'm in constant project mode. I've shredded a lot of documents this week and organized in the midst of keeping up with laundry and dishes.

Today we checked out a bunny I found on craigslist--and brought him home. Headed north 20 minutes to visit my Grandma and have lunch with her in her retirement center. It's kinda swanky and the finest dining my kids have experienced. Lily broke a glass. Serious. I could hardly sit and eat because I kept having to get up and get the kids food since only Miss Rose could reach the buffets.

We then rushed to Grammie's house for a quick swim. On the way we got stuck in the middle of a funeral procession, on the freeway, part of which is only 2 lanes, that consisted of 100 motorcycles. It was maddening!

After our swim we hurried home because Miss Rose was getting picked up and a baby was being dropped off for me to watch. I'm getting a baby fix lately with my friend's foster baby. Unfortunately it doesn't make me want another baby any less. Although I'm sure it affirms Bean's desire for no more children.

Tomorrow we will spend 5 hours at the beach. Then my best friend from college and her 1 year old daughter are coming into town for a few days. Friday we will go to a local Splash park.

I'll get up early in the morning and hopefully exercise before cleaning the house up in the midst of getting kids & food ready for the beach. I love the beach. But let's not talk about the clean-up involved after. Thankfully Bean appreciates a clean van and is always more than happy to vacuum out our sandy remains.

That's how most days are. I work to get us ready, we go have fun, then I work to clean up.

I'm not complaining though, because it's the best kind of work. My heart is so content and full these days. I'm satisfied with this work. Anxiety and worry creep in, wondering how exactly the bills will be paid these next few years but I know that I serve a living God and I know that we are following Him and we have nothing to fear.  He will help us slay our giants.

The best place to be, is often the scariest as well.

Monday, July 9, 2012

summer 2012 family journal part 1

Someday I will get my blog printed as part of our family's history. And I think this is going to be a summer to remember, so I want to be sure and record it here.

It's not just the kids who have all the fun! At the beginning of June my middle sister & I went up to our little sister's longtime roommates wedding. I think they were roommates for 7 years.  We had some great sister time there. I love how close my sisters and I are and I pray that my daughters are too. We had our rough years when we were younger, but since adulthood we have been very close. (we have a cool brother too that we are close to also!)

My parents were there also. I think my mom looks pretty good for 62. My sisters and I hope we have her genes for lack of aging in looks!

One of the highlights of the wedding: the story of the bride and groom, told by the groomsman using Sunday School flannel-graph. It was incredible. And of course it ended with baby Jesus in the manger.

The bride had pockets in her dress. LOVE.

My little sisters! (Funky light, iPhone camera)

Us three! No, we aren't throwing up gang signs. We just happen to have all lived on the 2nd floor of the same dorm our freshman year.  I was also an R.A. on that floor. WT2 for life. So, maybe it is a gang sign.

The three sisters I birthed. They really do love each other.  That makes my heart explode.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

when's Mama's lunch break?

Alternately titled: so much fun in the sun

It's been a month now, since I resigned (or retired as one of my friend's calls it) from my pastoral job. I'll be starting nursing school at the end of August, but in the meantime we've hit the ground running with summer fun!  Next week I plan to post some recaps of the last month. This blog serves as our family journal also, and I don't want to lose these moments. Although I have quite a few photos, I want to add the words before the details get blurry.

The transition into being a stay-at-home-mom has been relatively easy. I am cherishing these days with them. I have been a much more patient mommy and have been able to keep up better with household stuff as well.

We've been going from one fun activity to the next!  We've been to Legoland, the beach and Bay several times, swim lessons, Fine Arts camp, swimming and more.  There is still much fun to be had. Next week Miss Rose goes to Sports Camp each morning.  Also coming are Vacation Bible School, Summer Camp for Miss Rose and a family Disneyland trip.

The one thing I'm having to learn is to find my down time during the day. If I keep moving all day long, I'm too burnt out at the end of the day. I'm not very good at taking that down time. There is always something to do during the day and when the kids are having rest time, it's a great opportunity to clean, do laundry and other household stuff.

There really is no such thing as a lunch break when you are a mom.

But I think most mom's need them, even if we don't want to take it. There is a reason why state law requires a lunch break after so many hours of work.  And being a mom at home is no different.

So I'm working at being efficient with my time and not leaving too many tasks for later in the day. That way I feel like I can sit and eat lunch and have a little down time--like blogging right now.  I miss writing and blogging, but haven't figured out my prime writing time. Because I run many mornings, that's not ideal. And our nights are later during the summer with various activities. When it's 9pm or later by the time the kids are in bed (instead of 7:30 and 8pm) my brain has absolutely nothing left.

The kids and I will have great tans by the end of the summer, that's for sure!

Hope your summer is going swimmingly as well.