Sunday, December 25, 2011

12 Days of Christmas

"On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.....Oh, that's MEAT!
"On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves...MORE MEAT!
"On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me THREE french HENS...ALSO MEAT!!!!
"On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds...MEAT!!!!
"On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...five golden rings! DONUTS!!!! (gotta have a side dish!)
"On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 6 Geese a laying...EGGS!!!! Egggxcellent!
"On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me 7 swans a swimming...gosh, there's so much MEAT in this song!!!!
"On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 8 maids a milking...DAIRY PRODUCTS!!!! YUUUUUUMMMMMMYYYYYY!!!!!
"On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 9 ladies dancing...probably hopped up on CAFFEINE...
"On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 10 Lords a leaping...GINGERBREAD MEN!!!!
"On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me 11 Pipers Piping...ah, pipeweed!
"On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 Drummers drumming...CLEARLY a reference to drumsticks, which is Chicken, which is, once again....MEAT...."
--dedicated to all my Orthodox friends who have been fasting from meat for the past six weeks or so....

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Confessions of a Spiritual Lackwit

I feel like I'm in a place in my life where I am slowly moving forward. I know that having more energy than I had heretofore helps a lot with that, although honestly, this week has been a struggle, since I do feel like I'm "down with something vague". Various of my youngsters are feeling the same way, so it is probably not just my imagination.

As a mother, I can see that my kids are growing up and my relationships with them are changing a bit. They are challenging me! It's not always easy but they aren't shy about calling my crap crap, and so I'm trying to work hard on the virtues of gentleness and patience as I parent them through their teen years. I tend, by nature, to be loud and blustery and they don't. like. that. I'm working on it, though. Really, I am.

Sometimes it is hard to be patient with all of their various issues.

We had a big family meeting about meal times over dinner last night. One of my goals it to pre-plan my dinners and lunches, so that I know what's on the menu in advance. This is a shift from having a "pantry full of food" and deciding each day what's going to be for supper.

The problem is, various ones have sensory issues and as is common with so many ASD people, they can. not. eat. food. they. don't. like.

Which leads, too often, to me being a short order cook. I've tried many times to reign in this tendency, and am making that effort once again. The other alternative is that I make the "picky ones" get their own food which results in ill-nourished grumpy kids living on pizza and breakfast cereal. Since I quit buying frozen pizzas, and now that my son is gluten free, we are struggling a bit more with this issue.

[Please, no comments about what you do that works so well to get your youngsters to eat vegetables. If it's out there, I've tried it and it doesn't work well at our house. ASD people are different from Neurotypical people. Hunger will NOT motivate an ASD kid to eat whatever's put in front of him/her. This has been my experience and it holds true for others as well. I asked this on a "Parents of kids with Autism" list and we do, indeed, many of us, have this struggle in common.]

But, glory to God, we came up with about 15 meals that I can prepare and that my family members will ALL eat at least enough from to fill their bellies. That's progress, so we'll be eating the same 15 dinners over and over again. But that's more than having only seven different dinners, so I'm grateful.

This, in the long term, will make calorie counting much easier, will it not? I'll have each meal figured out and just have to plug in those numbers to my daily tally.

Yes, I said it. I'm counting calories these days. I joined an organization called TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) which is a weight loss support club. It's all very "club-like" with Minutes being read, pledges being said, etc. We even started the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. But the group of ladies (most of whom are at least one or two or three decades older than I am) are all very gregarious and funny and welcoming, so I'm glad I joined.

And I've been working on doing a better job on the domestic side of things. That's always a struggle for me, but I'm trying. House work is insanely boring and I'd rather, always and forever, be reading a good book or perusing the internet. But, that work must be done, eh?

I'm sorry I grossed everyone out yesterday. I did not mean to. I honestly thought the whole dental crown incident was hilariously funny and in some grand way I figure that being a sinner and all that, I deserved to be shoveling through that which is such a good metaphor for my sins.

I'm also working on re-establishing my Bible Reading habit. That's a struggle, and it seems perhaps there's some spritual opposition helping along my own laziness and spiritual lackwittedness. But struggle I must so struggle I do. Numbers is SUCH a boring book!!!! I find that I don't much care for the Old Testament...at least not the dryer parts of the Pentateuch which I studied to death in seminary, and about which feel like I've already gleaned all the good nuggets therefrom. Fight, fight, fight!

And so it all goes.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Adventures with my Stupid Tooth: Edited Verson due to TMI complaint

In the past few years I've had two root canals and two crowns put into my mouth. This makes a total of three (yes, weak teeth is another one of those celiac things, apparently). And crowns are not cheap. In fact, I was in pain for over a year because I needed TWO root canals and could only affford to do one per year. But all that is in the past now.

Well, a week ago, I had made a crock pot fudge lava cake for my dd's sleepover, and while I was eating a small portion of that gooeyness, I lost one of my crowns. This was the SECOND time this particular crown had come loose, much to my dentist's astonishment. It's rare to lose them once. It's ultra rare to lose them twice.

I'm ultra-rare, but we already knew that, now didn't we?

So, the crown was gone.

Down the hatch. And as the saying goes, what goes in, must come out.

So, I waited upon it's joy-filled returned to the land of daylight.


Today, I took it to the dentist to sterilize and re-insert. I asked them what they did, and she said: "Soak it in bleach for 10 minutes and then in this stuff that will KILL ANYTHING in on minute, but we leave it in for ten."

OK, I feel better now. It's no longer the "poopy tooth" , it is now the DEATH TOOTH. Or perhaps we can call it the "Crown of Death". Yeah, I like that name.

At any rate, I thought it would be a quick "squirt some cement on it and stick it back in" procedure, but NO.

The inside of my crown had to be scored, and also, apparently my tooth stub.

How, you ask, does the dentist score a tooth stub?

Using a SAND BLASTER, of course. No lie. I'm not exaggerating.

It was all on an itty bitty scale...but it was, indeed, a sand blaster and they were squirting sand into my mouth.

It was like a dust storm, followed by a hard rain (the rinsing), and when the tech accidentally blew air down my throat, that was the tornado.

Bad weather in my mouth today.

It was a bit more involved that I had anticipated it being, but the crown of death is firmly cemented back into my jaw...until it comes loose again, I guess.

An those, my friends, have been this week's adventures with my stupid tooth.

At least there was no actual PAIN involved.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I remember getting on a bus that day. It was November 2, 1982 and the bus was departing from in front of the SBB Bahnhof (train station) in Basel, Switzerland, headed for the airport in Mulhouse, France. (I could be wrong...but that's what I remember).

It was gray. I remember thinking that perhaps I'd never see this place again. I had the urge to kiss the ground and say goodbye but I did not do that.

I have no memories of the transatlantic flight, but I guess I must have some of flying in to New York City because I can't see pictures of the Statue of Liberty without choking up.

Of course I was excited. I was also scared out of my wits. I was coming to America and heretofore it was not my home. From now on it would be.

I remember flying from New York to Boston and the being picked up by a friend of my parents'. We stayed with them that first week. I've been to Boston in the fall! (unlike Larry the cucumber in the Pirates that don't do Anything song!)

That first week was a mixture of fun historical visits to all the places in and around Boston that every American should visit if they get a chance, and mind boggling culture shock. My face literally hurt from speaking English full time that first week.

I was twelve and a hot European mess of a twelve year old, at that. The girls in the family we stayed with were so smooth and cool and preppy and American. They wore their hair curled and their bangs had "wings". They wore makeup!!! I was in shock. I was middle school Swiss grunge and only a decade too early. Seattle in the 1990's would have loved me. They tried fixing me up with makeup but I felt like a hooker with a bit of powder, blush, lipgloss and mascara. It was all so "junior high".

Since it was November, there were lots of Christmas things on display in the stores already, and the movie ET was popular. So it was this weird ET Christmas theme in ALL the stores. ETs in Santa hats were everywhere. I was very underimpressed with the crassness of it all and missed St. Nicholas and all the old world traditions.

That fall was pretty in New England. We were there for a week, then my dad found an agency that let people drive other people's cars across the country, so our family squeezed into a Beemer to drive to Tennessee.

So theoretically I've been to PA and such places that are between Boston and Nashville, but only on the interstate.

That was November and I was out of school until January when the new semester started. I remember taking a placement test, and of course was placed in my age-level grade which was actually a grade higher than what I'd been in in Switzerland. I found, once school started, that the academic side of things was mind numbingly easy.

The social parts, not so much. I was so overwhelmed and confused. Culture shock can do that to a kid, you know. I cried in school on more than one occasion. I could not tell one African American person from another at first because I had just never been around any black people before and I did not have the neural connections to distinguish facial features at first. I got better at it, but being plunked smack dab into a cross cultural situation where I couldn't even read the white kids' body language and slang, the added confusion of there being subcultures was just a bit much. I did not understand the anger, resentment and hatred I felt radiating at me from the black girls at my bus stop in the projects. And I certainly did not always understand their slang. We lived in an old house owned by an inner city church, so where else was I to catch the bus, eh?

When I was at school, the kids called me JAP. I had no idea what this meant but I did know it was some form of insult. I asked my mom what JAP meant and she said it was short for Japanese, a derogatory term used during the WWII era. That made no sense whatsoever. Oh well.

Now I have figured out it probably stood for "Jewish American Princess" and I think it was in the context of these Nashville kids trying to figure out how it is I came from Switzerland of all places.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blame it on the Matrix

You know, I've blogged much more about the issues that my oldest dd has, than about anything concerning my other kids. The squeaky wheel and all that. (Always trying to maintain proper boundaries and privacy all along, as much as I can, of course. My goal is to never embarrass my kids on my blog.)

But I have another one of my children, and I've always said: Whatever is wrong with me, this one has the exact same thing.

There has been leg pain, and this kid has dropped out of scouting type activities from it. This kid cannot stand up in Church, has NEVER been able to stand up in Church due to leg pain. (It's frustrating, to say the least, in my everlasting quest to appear more pious than the next person, to have a kid of mine who can't stand up in Church...tongue firmly planted in cheek, in case you did not notice).

So I took this fast-growing-now-teenaged-"child" of mine to the same health care person that gave me so many answers.

She listened. She took notes. And she took lots and lots of blood.

And yesterday, we got the results.

Turns out this kids of mine ALSO has low thyroid function and all the same deficiencies that I have, plus some of his/her own.

And this person ALSO needs the gluten free/casein free diet. We are up to half the family needing this eating plan, now!

I'm hoping, hoping, hoping, that this will make a difference for her/him, too, like it has for me!

I asked Shelley (the nurse practitioner whom we see) if me being depleted during pregnancy could have set this one up for such issues: "Oh yes".

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Something to Say

The other day, someone posted a thingy on Facebook that said: "Having religion is like having a penis. You can be proud of your penis, you can like your penis, but please don't pull it out in public, talk about it, and please don't shove it down my children's throats." (not an exact quote...but that's the gist of it).

OK, so I've been thinking of this for two days. Here's my response:

My religion is like my nose.
It's right in the middle of my face, and everyone can see it.
It keeps me alive and helps me to breathe.
I probably won't talk about it, but it is there, a part of who I am, and I won't avoid mentioning it if the subject comes up.
It is a part of who I am and I won't apologize for it.
But since I'm not God, I won't go sticking my nose into other people's business, either.

The Danger Years

Last Sunday's gospel really struck me. I'd already been thinking about this blog post, and the gospel reading fit right in. It was the story of the seed and the sower...some seed falls on good soil, some on rocky soil, some that gets choked by weeds and some on the path of hard heartedness.

Father Alexis was so good as to point out that we are each of us all of these things. At various times. In various ways.

These are the danger years. I was speaking with my former priest, and he remarked on how so many of the folks in my former parish, who are my age, with kids in their teenage years, are no longer the "show up at every service" types.

We used to be. Lord knows, I was there! I used to be.

I am not any longer.

Like my title says: These are the Danger Years.

It is so easy for the cares and worries of life to choke out the spiritual fervor of our youth. I'm in my 40's now. My kids are teenagers, except for my tweleve year old who in some ways is more of a teenager than my 17 year old. I'm one of those moms: a mother of teens.

These are the danger years.

The days are so busy. I struggle with my health. I have so little energy, but lots of built in help if I need it. But no one can give me their energy for a 6 pm vespers service. I'll get there again, but the habit, for now, is gone. I've been sick. That's my excuse. He's busy at work. That's his excuse.

The are the danger years.

It's too easy to get focused on the material, the temporal...the busy-ness of the business of life.

It's easy to forget to pray. Or think "I'll pray later"....and later never comes because the evening is just as full as the day, or I'm too tired....whatever.

These are the danger years.

The worries and cares of life...as the gospel reading says...choke out the things of God. And we wake up and realize that the spiritual fervor of our youth is gone.

The danger years.

and the pleasures of life...the danger years. It's cozy and comfortable, being middle aged. Yes, we think a lot about our kids and how we will help them get through college or get launched in life. We think about how many decades of work is left before us before we will have to retire. W think about these things, and it is SO easy to forget the KINGDOM.

These are the danger years, I'm tellin' ya.

It's easy to get distracted and to forget. And to be so busy, and the Lord knows we are doing this all for GOOD, but then we lose something in the process of living that should never be lost.

I remember being in my 20's and looking at people my age now and scratching my head and wondering....why? But now I understand.

This is the challenge of these middle age years: Keep that sweetness of God's grace before me. Keep that fervor in prayer. Learn to pray from this broken place of fatigue, illness, and busyness that is incomprehensible until one experiences it.

Danger years can be good years. Because seeing the danger can focus us. I leave you (and really, I'm writing this to myself) with this:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-3

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Adventures in Gluten Free/Casein Free cooking

Today I ventured into making of gfcf yeast donuts. It's Sunday, after all, and a body wants a little somethin'-somethin' after Divine Liturgy. It's really hard to say no to all those donuts in coffee hour in the Church fellowship hall week after week after week, and if I EVER will have a ghost of a chance of convincing my son to do gfcf, I'll need to be able to do things like donuts and apple fritters.

So, I used the basic yeast dough recipe at the www.gfcfrecipes.com and I added a bit more sugar...doubled it, actually.

Without waiting forever for this dough to rise, I just dropped balls of it into the fry-daddy set at 375 and fried them two minutes on each side. Easy, peasy.

I made about ten "donut holes" and drizzled honey on them and they disappeared right quickly. Next, I finely chopped an apple, and mixed apple bits and cinnamon into the rest of the dough and made apple fritters...those disappeared just as fast. We dusted them with powdered Sucanat (organic sugar cane crystals).

Yummy.

I promise, I don't eat like this every day. ;-)

Sorry I don't have any pictures. I'm finding that most anything can be made gluten free.

Ooooo, I ought to try making gnocci soon!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Answers

Here it is: Autoimmune thyroid disease, causing fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue, and caused by gluten/dairy intolerance/leaky gut.

Add to that some serious nutritional and hormonal deficiencies. And chronic Epstein-Barr.

Makes for one sick lady.

And now, I am armed with my Armour Thyroid, a bunch of nutri-ceutical supplements, and a gluten free/casein free diet.

In a few months (perhaps the new year), I might start counting those Weight Watcher points again. I feel like with the medications I might actually have a ghost of a chance at ACTUALLY losing some weight. What a loop-di-loop road to healing I am on!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Maybe some Answers?

Last week I had that appointment with the Nurse Practitioner who came highly recommended by a good friend of mine. She listened, we talked. She gave me lots of questionaires to fill out, about different body systems. She asked questions and found things I did not even consider important or worth reporting on. She was thorough.

And I'll see her again for follow up and bloodwork results in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, she wanted me to do one thing: Go on a gluten free/casein free diet. Because, she said, I have all the symptoms of "leaky gut", and gut health is the bedrock of one's health. That...and there's lots of other things wrong that will get ferreted out. But for now, GFCF and we'll wait on the blood test results for seeing how messed up my hormones are.

Ok...I can do that. I assured her I was familiar with GFCF, having cooked for my daughter who tried that way of eating once before.

So, on Thursday...one week ago today...it was my first full day of GFCF and I've been on it ever since.

Day 1: my pain levels were greatly reduced. I was amazed.
Day2: I had a bit more energy. Still less pain.

...and so on. I'm a week in and it is AMAZING. I've been reading everything I can about gluten intolerance and celiac disease. And my horrible muscle burning and pain and aches are GONE.

Of course, it's not a diagnosis, it's a food challenge. But I'll have to think about whether I need to pursue on official celiac diagnosis or if I can just stay away from gluten for the rest of forever and call it good. I'll talk more about that w/ my care provider at my next checkup.

But all that to say: I'm feeling BETTER and from a quarter I never would have DREAMED of pursuing. Who would have thought???? I always ignored my gut symptoms because they were so far in the background compared to everything else going on, that I never guessed it could be a big key in my health. I'm still wondering if it's for real, or if it is all a coincidence, the "normal" waxing and waning of fibromyalgia and or mono flare ups. Time will tell, I guess.

Silent celiac can cause fibromyalgia and it can cause low thyroid. And it can cause an itchy rash which might explain a certain intermittent symptom I've had and ignored since I was 18 or 19 years old! ...among other things. More information to come, for me, in the future.

But I'm oh, so grateful that I'm feeling better than I have in a long time. And for the record...Gluten free /casein free pizza is not yummy enough to bother making.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baby Steps Towards Plain: Inspiration from a Desert Monk

A desert monk was summoned to Alexandria one day by his bishop. As he entered the city, he saw a prostitute, and he started to weep. "Why are you weeping, Abba?" his disciples asked him. "Because," he replied, "I am afraid for the soul of this young woman. And I am also weeping because she takes more time and effort to be attractive to men than I do to acquire the grace of God."

This is a story that Father Alexis told in his homily this morning, and although I cannot remember the name of the dessert monk in this story, I content really struck me. "...more time and effort to be attractive...than to acquire the grace of God."

And that is what I want to write about today. I think having a "plain" heart, means that this be NOT the case. And then I thought of "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." "All these things" here is clothes, and the things we need for this life.

So it is important not to spend too much time dwelling on (obsessing over) one's clothes, one's head covering (or whether or not, blah blah blah), whether one is "plain enough" or whatever. Conversely it's important not to spent so much time in front of the mirror either in vanity and pride, or in vanity and self condemnation which is also a form of pride. Who are we to loath our selves? Who are we to belittle our own appearance? I did not create myself. I am not the one who decided to give me curly brown hair and huge eyebrows and a sharp chin, or whatever. Give glory to God! He knows exactly what our we need for the salvation of our souls and he gives us everything!

And the effort, dear friends, ought to be put towards acquiring the grace of God. The rest shall be added unto us as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baby Steps Towards Plain: Definitions

One of the things keeping me from jumping whole hog into wearing "plain" clothes is that "plain" as traditionally defined by the religious groups that practice it, is almost "costumey". One of the motivations is that they be "distinctive from the world".

However, in my little project, I need to find a happy medium. What does "plain" mean for me in my more urban context (people do dress differently here than they do in small town USA)?

I came across a wonderful definition of clothing versus costume that I want to share:
Costume could be anything we're wearing that is about deliberately projecting an image that's not aligned with our spirit & environment.
And in thinking about all of this, the other thing that comes to mind is that it's more about what's in my heart than what's on my body, although I believe that the outside will reflect the inside.

So my baby steps towards plain are going to involve more musings about my vanity, my attitudes, my simplicity of heart than they will about revamping my wardrobe or making/acquiring new clothes.

Having said that, I did make a wonderful brown jumper the other day and it is SO COMFORTABLE. And it feels "plain" when I wear it. Sort of a modern day plain. Not old fashioned. Not fashionable at all, but rather nondescript to the point of not even being "unfashionable". THAT is what I am aiming for: No drama. Just clothes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How it Went

SO....I had that appointment today and I really really liked my care giver. She's a nurse practitioner who is very very well informed and takes a holistic approach to her health care-giving. I filled out tons for forms and surveys for her, and my scores showed that I, for one thing, have an inflamed and leaky gut. We talked for a long time. Additionally, my scores on other forms I filled out show that most likely my thyroid, but also all my other hormones are a hot mess!

She was so well informed, listened to my concerns and was on the same page about lots of things: approves of raw milk drinking (although now I get to stick with raw goats milk), wants me to drink Kombucha and be on a gluten free/casein free diet. For starters. I'm seeing lots of bone broth in my future, I think. I've never been off dairy before, so that should be interesting. And I'll have to brush up on my gfcf knowledge base. Its been a few years since one of my kids tried that diet. The danger, I know, is that there's LOTS of gfcf junk food out there and that is NOT a trap I need to fall into on a regular basis. But it is nice to know it exists for special occasions...

So, the new diet. A new supplement she's wanting me to try, a food journal and symptom journal. In a few weeks, at our next appointment we will tackle the blood work results.

Oh, and she wanted to test me for heavy metal poisoning as well. I got much sicker when we moved here to Louisville and have gained 45 pounds since moving here, without changing my eating habits. Whether that's to do with hormonal aftereffects of the surgery I had or something else, it seems like this excellent practitioner will leave no stone unturned. She is a far cry from so many doctors I've met, who dismiss me and tell me I'm fine. I'm not fine. I'm sick.

Now I want to get better.

Health Care Stuff

It's all I ever blog about, isn't it. I'm sick...blah blah blah...I feel lousy...yadayadayada....

I DO pray, you know. Lots of "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinners" happening around here. Especially while I'm crying in bed at night because I can't get to sleep. Yes, I am very aware that I write depressed person's blog.

So, today is the big day. In about ten minutes I'm off to see a new health care professional and hopefully get some treatment that will ACTUALLY HELP ME, rather than the smarmy "you are fine" garbage I usually get.

This appointment feels like I'm going to a job interview. I feel like I have to go in there and prove that I am "worthy" of treatment. I pray to God this care provider will treat me clinically, and not based on my blood work. Because I am the person who had a negative pregnancy blood test WHILE I WAS PREGNANT. Yes. I did. Blood tests can lie.

Or maybe God will perform a miracle and my blood work won't lie this time.

Obviously I'm writing nothing productive, just nervous yammering. Forgive me. Well, off I go!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Baby Steps Towards Plain

Plain dressing has, for years, fascinated me. I think Quakers who are plain, the Amish, the Mennonites, Monastics, are all so beautiful in their way. What attracts me to their way of dress is the simplicity and the plain-ness. Now, without being a part of a community that has such a uniform, dressing in such a manner would almost be presumptuous, like going around dressing like a Pirate all the time would be presumptuous. It would be dressing in a costume.

My long time readers will remember that I did a project two years ago, in the autumn, where wore the same two identical brown dresses for a month. It was an exploration of simplicity. It was a fast of sorts. It was a way for me to confront my own accquisitivenes and my own vanity. It is time for me to do another such project.

This time, I am calling the project "Baby Steps Towards Plain". The parameters and the goal of my project will be a little bit different, and I have not thought completely of all that it will entail just yet. But I will, and when I do I will let you, my dear readers, know.

This has been brewing for some time now. You see, last winter, I learned about, and decided to invest a significant amount of money (which I had earned by sewing) into a program called "Dressing Your Truth". When I bought the program, I was just wanting to find some sort of system whereby I would finally be at peace with my wardrobe and with the question of "what to wear". I went through the lessons, and at the end, I thought "For THIS I spent ALL THAT MONEY??????" Yes, it was ridiculously expensive. I thought I would get more, and I felt ripped off. But then I decided that the advice was good and I would make the best of it and get my money's worth, by dingy. This meant that I started investing in costume jewelry and (five dollars here, three or seven dollars there...) and looking at my thrift store clothing purchases in a new light, with an eye to cut and color and style. I bought a faux snake skin jacket. Yes, it fit the DYT "rules" and it "looked good" on me, but egads! I did not look like myself. Gone was the ragamuffin, and arrived was this sophisticated, worldly-wise looking woman. I felt like I had lost something. And then, as the weeks and months went by of me trying to "dress my truth" the TRUTH finally hit me: In order for ME to DRESS MY TRUTH...I would have to start wearing a head-covering again (1 Cor. 11...I can never fully get away from that passage in the Holy Scriptures). This was ME dressing my truth. Not exactly what the author of that program had in HER mind. She'd probably say something about blocking my chakras or somesuch. Garbage, folks. I purchased GARBAGE with my hard-earned money. God have mercy!

But it DID get me a nifty cardboard color chart and it DID get me out of wearing so many flowy clothes that I really DID feel somewhat ill-fitted (read: redonkulous) in. So I DID learn a few valuable nuggets from the DYT course, and the Holy Spirit DID use it to remind me of what once was...and of a "podvig" that's been laid on me by God for whatever reason. I think Roman Catholics might use the term "sacramental" to describe how I feel about wearing a head covering for prayer and in obedience to Scripture and to honor the Theotokos (Mother of God).

So, here I am. Two years ago I did that "Brown Dress Project" of mine and I think I am ready to revisit it in revised form. I'm going to think about "the rules" and get back with you on what I"m doing.

I will say this: Today, I bagged up all my costume jewelry: the bracelets, the necklaces, the earraings...all of it. I'm wearing my usual "wedding rings" even though none of the rings on my hand are from my actual wedding, since I lost the stone to my engagement ring and my hands are too puffy for my wedding band...sigh. I am wearing a cross around my neck on a string. The cross and one simple band to show I'm married will stay. The rest...who knows. But the rest of the jewelry is packed away. It is my first baby step towards "plain".

P.S. I do not do this to make the statement that wearing jewelry is sinful. That's not my theology. But for me, it is distracting. Same with the rest of what I am about to unearth. I hope you, my dear readers, do not take this as judgment on my part, of anyone, because it's not meant to be.

Friday, September 16, 2011

National Chronic Invisible Illness Week: "You Just Don't Get It"

Tonight I went to an American Heritage Girls meeting with two of my girls. Last year I was an assistant leader, but this year I'm just being a mom in the group. I'll still be "helping out" with the older girls, as needed, but I'm not "official". Everyone knows I've had mono and that it's been hard to recover. People are very kind and understanding and solicitous about the fibromyalgia, too.

So, there's this one nice person there, who was describing her day tomorrow...or some Saturday...that family is always on the run, and she described ACTIVITIES from morning until night that she would literally be running from one thing to the next. Her family has four kids, I think. Baseball, Volleyball, this that and the other...I could not keep track. But her description was literally from about 8 in the morning until ten at night...

And I said "Wow, I don't know how you do it!" And she looked at me and said "Well, you do it too!" and I said "No, I REALLY DON'T!!!"

That was the end of that conversation.

You see, healthy people just don't get it. It seems like a thing, a burden, (actually its a CHOICE) but it's also a status symbol and a sign of good caring for one's kids to be that busy...that many activities (and they all cost money, take time, and require ENERGY.)

And no, I really don't do that.

What's my typical day like? I get out of bed, I have breakfast a bit of time on the computer. Shower, dressed. Morning prayers, reading out loud with the kids. History, German, Writing...the subjects we do together. then it's time for me to make lunch and for them to start doing their other subjects.

I, so far, have DONE next to nothing. But like sand running through an hour glass too quickly, as noon aproaches, after a very quiet morning...I am already slowing down.

If I am having a good day, I can get another three or four hours out of myself after lunch. I'm not talking about running around. I'm talking quiet work, at the sewing table, perhaps. If I have to run an errand...ONE errand will do me in. After that, I will be feeling very sick and on the couch. On a good day I will have planned ahead and made dinner in the crock pot sometime during my "good hours".

Today, I was able to do some sewing, and I'm so grateful. It was a good day. This means I had the energy to put one foot in front of the other and keep going, despite burning pain in all my muscles (even while I type this, it makes my arms burn). I went out for an hour to meet a girlfriend for coffee...what a treat! Dinner was soup in the crock pot and a loaf of bread one of my teenagers made. I make it to AHG only because my husband drives me there. My legs and arms are burning all evening long. I am glad I'm not in uniform anymore because this means I don't have to salute the flag. It is less painful to put my hand over my heart instead of holding my arm up in a salute. Grateful for the little things.

Tomorrow, I have to go to the Farmer's Market in the morning. What I don't get to do is help out at Church with the gardening. What I don't get to do is get together with the ladies to help bake for the festival next weekend. None of my kids play sports. No running around for that. Because I know that after the Farmer's Market, since I'm in a flare right now, I will probably be DONE for the day. If' I'm lucky I'll be able to do some hand sewing, even though it needs to be done by Tuesday and I'd like to get it off my to do list.

And I wonder to myself just WHEN will I do the rest of the grocery shopping?


But no, there's no "You do the same thing" in my life. I do very very differently from the average busy suburban soccer (or volleyball) mom. Everything I do is planned and balanced and weighed and measured, because everything I do will come at a price and I have to pay with pain and unbelievable fatigue. And that, my friends, is why I'm dedicating this post to all of those who "just don't get it."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Honor of National Chronic Invisible Illness Week: 30 Things Meme

1. The illnesses I live with are Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Mononucleosis and Hypoglycemia

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2004

3. But I had symptoms since: 1998

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is not being able to be as "involved" in helping other people or being at Church as I'd like.

5. Most people assume that I will eventually get better.

6. The hardest part about mornings are waking up in feeling very sluggish with no "get up and go" and having to eat food I don't care for very much in order to take care of my health. 

7. My favorite medical TV shows are the one's that are love ER or Trauma shows.  I used to love Dr. House until he started fornicating with his boss and that ruined the show and I stopped watching it.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is my comfy chair!

9. The hardest part about nights is trying to get to sleep and then trying to stay asleep. 

10. Each day I take about 5 pills & vitamins. That's does not count the muscle relaxers and pain meds I might take occasionally.  Usually I try to tough it out. 

11. Regarding alternative treatments I get sick of people recommeding them to me.  I'm on the protocol I'm on and that's what I'm doing.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose WELLNESS! I would never choose to be sick.

13. Regarding working and career, I've never had a career outside the home.  I have been trying to build a sewing business on the side, but will  be slowing that down due to my illness...it's just too much. 

14. People would be surprised to know that even on "good days", if I focus in, I can find pain in more than one part of my body.  It's always there.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been… that I have limited energy and that I can't do the things I wish I could do.  I always have to "pay later" for exceptional energy expenditures, so my life feels like it's being lived inside an itty bitty box. 

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was go on a mini-spelunking tour with some American Heritage Girls

17. The commercials about my illness are stupid and I want to throw a brick at the TV. 

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is… 1 being more physically active and actually getting FIT, the fibro is like a barrier to that.  2-and spending time with friends and family, I'm just too tired to do that now.

19. It was really hard to have to give up our dog, Java.  I could not walk him.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis ...well, I've developed my sewing skills even further.  I have also developed my knitting skills, but sometimes my arms ache too much to knit.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would do normal stuff.

22. My illness has taught me to have a longing for heaven like nothing else in life could have taught me.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is "are you feeling better yet?"  ...because I'm not going to feel better.  And if I AM feeling better, I know there's going to be a BAD DAY right on the heels of the "good day" if I do too much on the good day. 

24. But I love it when people listen, spend time with me.

25. My favorite quote that gets me through tough times is Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them about the Guaifenesin protocol for Fibromyalgia
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is how much inner strength I DO have to just keep plugging along through life.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was anything my husband does, day in and day out he picks up my slack, he's stressed and tired, but when I can't move, he does his work as well as mine. 

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because I may not look sick but I am.  And fibromyalgia is not just a throw away diagnosis.  It's real, and I'm SICK. 

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel that maybe I can make a small difference in helping people to understand that just because someone looks good, doesn't mean that they don't feel horrible.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Homeschooling with Chronic Illness

Homeschooling with a chronic illness is more about what don't do, than what I do, do.

I sit in a chair and we read together. ...and then they go off and do the rest of their schoolwork.

We don't go on many field trips....

We don't belong to any homeschooling co-ops...

We don't have the kids in any sports (because mama's too tired and ill to drive during the kiddie sports happy hour time of day)...

Dad helps out with taking them to scouting activities when I am too sick. Dad takes them door to door for fundraisers. (Mom sews the badges onto their vests. )

And my oldest DOES do volunteer work at the local Public Library a couple of times a week.

We don't have warm cozy friendships where we get together with lifelong friends on a regular basis...at least not since we moved.

But we DO learn sacrificial LOVE together, in the context of our various illnesses. And we DO go to Church, and we DO pray together.

National Invisible Chronic Illness Week: How my Illness Affects my life in Church



I found out just now that someone out there has decided that this week is "National Invisible Chronic Illness  Awareness Week".  At my house, every week is invisible illness week.

So, I decided to use my blog to participate in raising awareness.  I'll try to blog something more than once this week.  If possible, every day.

Today I am going to write about how my invisible illness (fibromyalgia with the bonus feature of mono this year) affects my participation in my Church.

It's hard.  Writing this makes me sad.

We moved to this community three years ago, and I hardly know most of the people at Church.  We go to a large parish, and it's been really really difficult for our family to integrate into the community, and a LARGE part of that difficulty has been due to my invisible illness.  The rest of it is due to my children's  and husband's autism issues, which has its own host of fun stuff, MANY of which overlap with mine.  

I get invitations to all sorts of wonderful get-to-know-you opportunities, that I just can't participate in:  Baking for the Taste of St. Michael's, the "Parsley Party" to get ready for the cooking to be done, dancing in some folk dancing group...all those things sound like SO MUCH FUN.  If I did not have my invisible illness, I would SO be there!  I would love to dance!  I would really love to bake, and snip parsley with the ladies!  I would love to volunteer to serve food, too, and be a part of things.  But this year, my invisible illness is making it impossible even to volunteer for a few hours at my parish's ethnic festival.  I'm sad about that, but there's nothing that I can do to change it.  My invisible illness prevents me from signing up for anything or joining anything.  I just am too sick. 

And all those missed opportunities, are missed opportunities for getting to know the folks at my parish.  When I can't be there, I don't get to chat with people and I don't know them, they don't know me, and we remain strangers week after week.  I'm just the tired ugly woman that drags herself into Church each week.  But names?  I know hardly any names.  Because I don't get a chance to hang out and bake and cut up parsley.  And when someone does occasionally offer me their name, it flies out of my foggy brain, thanks to my invisible illness.  


I used to sing in the choir.  I love to sing.  I could barely do it with my invisible illness and on some Sundays I would sit in the back of the choir loft if I needed to, but since I added Mono on top of my invisible illness, there's no way.  Choir gave me a sense of belonging.  I miss it.  I miss the community of people that is choir.  Now I'm not a part of anything.  I feel like I don't even belong.

I miss a lot of Church due to my invisible illness.  I was raised to be the kind that went to Church every time the doors were opened.  At St. Michael's that would be every day!  For a while I was going to Matins...but Mono put a stop to that!  On some days, I would also be able to make it to Vespers.  But lately, my invisible illness  has invariably shut me down by around 4 pm and there is just no going to Church at six when you are so tired you can barely lift your head off the pillow of the couch you are lying on.  For weeks, I would wake up on a Tuesday or Thursday and think to myself:  "Today I will go to Vespers!"  But then my body would shut downin the afternoon, and the fatigue and pain would take over, and there would be no going to vespers.  Eventually, I think, I stopped hoping and planning.  I just gave up.  One time I was attending a class on the Church Fathers, and the lecturer decided to hold the lecture in the chapel, after a prayer service.  That was a lovely idea, except for the fact that due to my invisible illness, I could not stay in there...the benches in the chapel are NOT designed for someone with an invisible illness to be able to sit without total body pain  (at least me).  I had to leave half way though.  I felt like my invisible illness forced me to be rude.

Whenever there is a great feast, we try to attend the Vesperal Liturgy.  But I am usually choosing:  Do I eat a snack so that my body has enough energy to BE THERE...and then not take communion because I have not been fasting that afternoon?  Or do I fast and then not have the energy to even GO to Church?  Quite the ironic conundrum.  Thanks to my invisible illness, there are many times when I don't take communion.

My invisible illness is also a challenge for me, because I get a bad attitude.  I know on one level that people care about me, but due to my illness I feel so isolated and alone, that I get a chip on my shoulder.  And then my sinful self hears things people say with the worst possible spin:  "you look great, are you feeling better?" ...I hear it as "Are you finally well yet so that we don't have to hear you whining about your stupid invisible illness?"  I know that is NOT what is in the other person's heart and mind when they ask me how I am...but I battle that evil thought in my own mind constantly.  My invisible illness leaves me vulnerable that way.

So, these are some ways in which my invisible illness affects my participation in my parish.  All these things make me really sad, and this has been a difficult post to write.  I hope that someone is blessed by this, or that someone learns something from what I've written.

If I had a wish list for Churches, it would be:

-Have a place with some couches in your Church building,  where people with invisible illnesses can sit if they need to.  Folding chairs and pews can be utter hell for some of us.   Lovely would be a place in the narthex where the service can still be heard... One parish I visited one time had a room downstairs with a TV where the service was piped in on the screen.  It was the "cry room" for small children, but such might be nice for the achy and in-pain!
-People with invisible illnesses need prayer all the time every day...just like the shut ins, or others who have chronic life issues.  They should be included on the parish prayer list, even if they are too tired or embarrassed to ask to be on there themselves. 
-It is not ONLY the elderly who might be infirm.  If a young person has a cane, please, don't give that person the yaya stink eye.
-Please consider any building and environmental decisions from the perspective of people with disabilities, include invisible illnesses and total body pain when planning and building new facilities.  Please consider having such a voice or voices on the building committee....and if such an ill person does not have the energy to be on a building committee, it behooves such a committee to seek out the ill and infirm to ask them what their needs are.  
- People with invisible illnesses are often lonely.  Committees and societies might find ways of reaching out to such, but most of all PERSONS need to reach out and include the person with an invisible illness in fellowship, even if it's just having coffee or calling that person on the phone. 














Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day

Today is labor day! My plans: I'm going to sew, and get as much as I can done on this one cassok job that has been giving me nothing but stress since the day I got it. I've had a hard time focusing on numbers and such lately and the job is pretty much a design job which I WAY underbid...sigh. I have to make so many customizations on the pattern that I just don't feel like doing....I need to get my brain in gear for it and "git er done" as we say here in Kentucky. The reason I'm pushing myself to sew is that I've been feeling pretty sick lately and that's not going to go away anytime soon. I want to get out from under my current pile-o-jobs and then stop sewing for a while. Heartbreaking, isn't it? But with the mono and the fibro and all that, I've gotten myself into such a BAD PLACE, physically, that I need to put myself on some sort of regimen to rebuild my fitness and my health. And that includes exercise and rest. And in order to exercise, I need to a) have time and b) fob off my other responsibilities such as house work onto the rest of the people who live here. So, I must get the sewing done and then I'm going to actually pack away the sewing machine for a while...or maybe I won't. Maybe I can't bear to do that. But no more big jobs for awhile. Meds: Going back on the Guaifenesin protocol for fibromyalgia. It bites, but it must be done. And exercise: I'm not talking about any massive workouts. Oh no no! My level is to painfully walk A MILE, if I can without my muscles burning too badly (it's a fibro thing) and then perhaps end up in the exercise room for some gentle recumbent bike work. Level 2 resistance is minimal but gives my muscles a bit of something to do. Level 1 is merely movement with no resistance at all. I alternate between the two. That's what I did yesterday. I'll do it again today, and maybe a bit more. The whole point of fobbing off the house work is to get out there and do the "physical therapy" as I call it, without actually GOING to a physical therapist. And diet: Back on the hypoglycemia diet to help control the upward slide that is my weight. It's so depression. The main difference though, is that this time I'm not going to get on the scale. I'm doing this to help my cholesterol levels, to help my pain levels (it really does help) and to manage my energy better. The hardest part is not having bread for breakfast and not having a glass of wine at night. I'll manage. At least for a time. So, that's the other half of my life, other than the "dark night" stuff I wrote about. Church is so weird these days. On the one hand I feel so disconnected, and on the other hand, people are so kind to us and say things like "don't leave, you are such a part of us". I don't get it. Perhaps my love receptors are broken. I think they are. I know they are. God have mercy on me a sinner. And lastly...here's a video that nicely sums up my battle/lack of battle with "the passions". As a matter of fact, I often go round humming "Kill the passions, kill the passions" in the same tune as "kill da wabbit". I battle them, and then I end up falling in love with them again.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Alone in the Struggle: Dark Night of the Soul

Insert blog post about me feeling sick and tired and in pain from fibro. Insert blog post about me feeling overwhelmed. Same song, eightysevenththousandths verse. Could get better, but it's gonna get worse...as the old song goes.

That's why I have not been blogging lately. I don't want to complain and it's been a season, a YEAR really, of going deep within and seeing the blackness and feeling the desperation of not really belonging anywhere except perhaps to a little cyber community of likeminded and like-illed persons.

And the darkness is black enough for me to really have to struggle to see the people in my life who DO care about me, and who DO love me, to really see that they do.

I don't know that it's depression so much as me struggling against a fleshly response to being chronically ill. Its hard, you know, when nobody outside your family realizes how sick you are and have been for a long long time. I wear that mask, the happy face when I'm out or when I'm at Church. What else is there to do? Be honest? My honesty is my absence. The times when I'm NOT at vespers. The fact that I don't have the energy to make it to Matins because I've been sick with mono since January and now am dealing with the fibromyalgia kick in the pants I knew would be coming on the heels of the mono.

I'm convinced that people don't like chronic illness. Makes them uncomfortable. They want it to go away. Or they want to pretend like it doesn't exist, or they want to give me advice that will fix it. "Have you tried X diet?" "Have you tried X naturopath/doctor/medicine?" All those bits of advice really just serve to make the advice giver feel better and to make the recipient of said advice feel like it's their fault or that if they tried harder, they would be well.

I know people love me, but the do so at arms length. That's not love, folks. That's sentimentality. It's not love.

What about: I know this is a forever thing for you. How can I be with you in your illness? How can I be with you in your struggle?

But that particular thing is the thing that is so rarely heard. Makes me wonder how I can help someone else. Makes me wonder what the purpose of my life might be? Can I return the same love to others, even in the midst of my own illness and struggle...even when I've not been the recipient of such love myself?

God help me to see where I AM such a recipient. Because I suspect that I am, but that I'm just not seeing it right now.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Home Education

We had a wonderful first day of year five in home educating today. I've decided to, as much as possible, drop the term "home school" and use "home educating" instead. Because we are not "schooling". There's nothing "schoolish" about what we do. We don't stand in lines, call roll, have any security checks, study towards any standardized testing (although we DO have an ACT prep book on our shelf that will get used), or have any nice work stations for each student. There is, however, MUCH that is educational.

We start our day with prayers, of course, followed by Scripture reading, discussion and then lives of saints from the Online Prologue of Ohrid. Next comes History read aloud while the kids take notes, ask questions as needed, etc. Following this, I give a German lesson, much in the same format. I teach, and the kids take notes, and get their vocabulary lists. We work on pronunciation together. I follow this with another read aloud, just for fun, from Grimm's Fairy Tales. Following this, we watch the video lecture from One Year Adventure Novel Together. Well, most of us. My 12 year old goes off and does a writing work book she's working on, motivated by the fact that when the lesson comes where she has to write a restaurant review, I'll take her out to eat and she has her eye on a place called Maggies Pie Kitchen that sells ridiculously huge brownies.

Now it is lunch time and while I cook, various ones practice music, and then we eat. After lunch, the kids are on their own for Math, Science, and working on their writing assignments, literature reading and journaling and dleving a bit more into History. For my older students, this will include a research paper or two this year. The youngers will write reports.

So yes, education in happening in spades. I think my favorite time of day is when I am doing the morning reading time with the kids. We are all together and we can learn and discuss. I'd say the kids are busy from about 8 am until around 4 pm with their learning activities. I hope to be an educator in the morning and seamstress in the afternoon. When WILL I do the grocery shopping???????

Monday, August 01, 2011

Auuuugh! School? What School????

I am SO NOT READY for the next school year!!!!! And I'm not just talking emotionally. I'm not READY ready. I still need to grade old papers (my goal for the month of August) and figure out exactly what materials I need to get (very little, thankfully, as I already have most of what I need), and so on and so forth.

I need to sit down and write out which subjects each student is going to cover and pick out which literature selections they shall read. And arrange the textbooks on the shelf, etc. etc.

And I need to find some free on-line writing resources on how to write a good persuasive essay and how to write a research paper. Because that's on the table for my High Schoolers this year.

And I need to do some sewing. Always the sewing. I'd rather be sewing than overseeing the Home School, but both are my work, so I'd better DO both. But I think a few sewing jobs will see me the owner of my own lap top, which I really need.

For sure, I need to get this book.

Someday, I'll write the story on how to nickle-and-dime homeschooling and do it on a shoestring, because that is what it sure does feel like, every blessed year!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our Garden Plot






Since we are novice gardeners, our plot is a wee bit runty compared to some of our neighbors' plots, but then again, it is better weeded than some, as well. There's a broad spectrum.

But we sure are enjoying the fruits of the earth and those sunflowers, I wish I could make them scratch-and-sniff through the computer! They literally had nectar dripping off them, and they smelled like a sunflower butter and honey sandwich! (I eat sunflower butter instead of peanut butter because I'm allergic to PB.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Well, I decided that I'm going to count WW points for a little while, again. I took a WW vacay, and since I officially quit paying and going to the meetings, I've had no motivation whatsoever to follow the plan. And I've been feeling, shall we say, a bit bloaty lately, which is the precursor to a huge weight gain, so I decided I'd better do something.

I got on the scale and have NOT in fact gained any weight. Yay

And now people are home and it's time for dinner.

Gotta go, and count those dinner points.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Homemade Raw Milk/Cream Ice Cream

I used about a 50/50 blend of milk and cream...about 2 quarts, I guess?
4 pastured egg yolks.
1 T. arrowroot powder.
1 tsp guar gum (this was my brilliant addition to help the milk and cream to not separate),
2 T. vanilla.
1/2 cup raw local honey
2 droppers full of liquid vanilla flavored stevia,
2 T. vodka.

I whisked all this together and froze in the ice cream maker as usual (with ice, rock salt, etc.) and then scooped the ice cream into a used and washed plastic ice cream container from the store. After several hours in the freezer to "set"...it is PERFECT. Very frozen, but perfectly scoopable. The vodka did the trick and lends just the faintest sophisticated flavor to it. The kids like it just fine, it's not a strong flavor. They got to eat what would not fit into the freezer container this afternoon. Wes and I are enjoying ours now.

As usual with Raw milk and eggs...know your farmer and use only pastured eggs and milk from healthy grass fed cows.

Summer Time Update

I feel like I have not written anything on this blog in ages. I've been busy and then there was a stomach bug type thing that I HOPE I'm over and yes, I'm VERY AWARE that all it seems I blog about is how sick I feel or how often I get sick or that my kids are sick or that I'm having a fibromyalgia flare up and waaaah, waaaah, waaaah.

I apologize.

I think the mono is a thing of the past, now.

Lets see...what's been happening? Well, there's the garden. I wish I could write some deeply spiritual gardening wisdom for you all here, but all I have to say is that I've fallen in love with the idea and the process of putting a seed in the dirt, pulling out the competition, giving it water and watching it grow. It's a miracle. We've had a modest harvest of snow peas, about five green beans (the bugs ate the leaves), four or five large Zucchini, with more in the pipline, several batches of fried green tomatoes that fell off the vine too early, one fantatstic ripe heirloom tomato and yesterday Wes came in with some Butternut.

He picked them WAY too early but he said our gardening neighbor said they were ready to pick, so he picked them. I'm going to cook one tonight and see what happens. I especially love the peacefulness of spending a Friday evening out there as a family, weeding, harvesting and watering. It's peaceful out at Blackacre Farm (the public community garden where we have our plot).

In other news, I've opened an esty shop (www.freetocover.etsy.com) and will be adding more selections to that as time goes by, AND I'm working on getting a "little girl's dress" on-line boutique started. We shall see how that goes. I need to spend the afternoon working more on that project.

So, that is what all has been keeping me from blogging. That, and facebook. It's all facebook's fault that I'm not blogging as much as I used to. It is much easier to spew my life in short bites there, than to actually think and write on here. I'll try to do better, I promise.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hideous Gargoyle



I seriously thought I was a fat hideous gargoyle when I was a teenager. Clearly I was wrong.

This picture from a box-o-stuff my mom just sent me. I was 17.

Live and learn, I guess.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Busy Busy

Well, folks, I'm finally ramping up to take my sewing on-line. I've been working on pattern development and fleshing out ideas lately, and pretty soon, there will be some links on this blog and on my other blog, to an etsy store and a selling page.

What will I be making? Little girl's boutique style dresses. Among other things.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ain't No Cure for the Summer Time Blues

Some people get very motivated to diet in the summer time. I guess it has something to do with "swimsuit season" and such people live on fruit and cold tea.

I am not such a person (but I want to be). No, for me, summer is the worst, hardest, most difficult of all the seasons for me to lose weight and focus on dieting. Harder than the Thanksgiving/Christmas crush, even. It's just difficult and so of course lately I've been floating around the same weight and not making any progress at all towards my goals, or towards my sub-goals.

This must change. Summer time will always be difficult for me, but I need some strategies. So, today I decided to figure out WHY summer is such a bad zone for me, and WHAT I can do about it. Here's what I came up with:

1. I love that summer time feeling of being kicked back, relaxed, not working quite as hard, that feeling of being "on vacation". And face it folks, monitoring and limiting my eating is HARD WORK and takes ATTENTION TO DETAIL. Perhaps it shouldn't be, but it is.

2. The weather is hot and I want ice cream.

3. It is too hot to exercise. (Well, I have not really been doing that anyways, because I've been sick, but I need to start now that I'm recovering).

4. It is too easy to stay up late and sleep in and lose a potentially productive part of my day that way.

5. Summer time parties, outings, visiting friends, day trips, etc. Events that center around food make me want to say "just this once"...Fall and winter might have Thanksgiving and Christmas, but Summer time has Memorial Day, Labor Day, Fourth of July, etc. etc. etc. There can be something going on every week if we let it, and our family is not even popular!

OK, so here are my strategies (and I'm telling myeslf I'm going to do this-MUST do this- but I'll be honest and say that it will be HARD):

1. That "kicked-back" feeling? I just need to stuff it and find other ways to relax.

2. My desire for ice cream: I can eather put up with the semi-nasty fat free sugar free stuff (2 points per serving) OR I can budget and carefully measure some of the good stuff. I need to cut down on my sugar eating anyways. OR I can stuff it and just eat fruit.

3. Too hot to exercise: Oh please. I can exercise indoors. At home, at the exercise room, or I can go walk at the mall, as long as I don't buy Godiva Chocolates while I"m there, right? Or I can get up early and go for a morning walk. There's not much of an excuse with so many options. And there's always the pool.

4. Staying up too late: Actually it seems that the early light summer mornings have been helping me to re-adjust to getting up early and then I"m more sleepy in the pm. Avoiding caffeine is key.

5. Parties and events: Need a plan, strategy, formula...half the plate filled with fruits and veggies kind of thing. One serving and no more. Pass on the dessert.

It is a fact that I've been in denial for SO long about each individual little food choice I make making a difference. And at the end of the day I scratch my head and ask: "Why me?" Well, it's because of that little choice, this little bite, that one dessert...multiplied by 365 by 41. It all adds up.

So, Summertime is hard. Truly, if I can get through the summer and lose ten pounds, I will be EXTATIC. If I can get through the summer and lose five pounds, I will be very pleased. If I merely maintain my weight through the summer and start losing again in the fall, I will be satisfied and happy. Because LAST SUMMER I GAINED 20 POUNDS. And that, my friends, won't be happening this year.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Zoo Trip

Today (my parents are visiting this week) we went to the Zoo. It was ridiculously hot and our pace was very slow and we only made it about 1/3 of the way around the zoo before it was time to buy some drinks for everyone (the kids having dumped most of their water bottles over their heads) and catch the trolley to the top of the hill and head home.

Various ones of us (OK, everybody) was complaining of various symptoms of approaching heat exhaustion, despite my constant hydration attempts.

Going home was good. It was the hottest freakin' day of the year so far, I think.

Ah, air conditioning!

How did we ever live without it?

One cold shower some salty chips later, I was feeling a bit better and my skin had lost it's lovely red and white mottled appearance. Dinnner was good, too. I'd had the foresight to cook the vegetable curry before our zoo trip, so all I had to do was heat it up. Rice in the crock pot.

Before all that, in the morning, my mom and I headed to the thrift store because I'd seen some dishes like a set she has there, and we went to check and see if she could replace a plate that had broken. Not only did she find that, and some larger plates, and some clothes, I found an awesome decorative fruit bowl, three more bed sheets (in pale yellow, lilac and black) that will get converted into kid's pajama pants and night gowns, and some drinking glasses that coordinate with some I already own, and three shirts for Wes.

So, it was a very fun day. My family laughed and joked a lot and I realized that not only do I look a lot like my dad, we joke the same way and have similar ways of pontificating about bullshitty stuff that we are merely supposing, as if our suppositions are fact and making a constant barrage of horrible puns.

Ah, family!

Good times had by all.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

More Sewing

Today I sewed two dresses. I decided to challenge myself, and see if I could do two dresses, start to finish in one day. Wow! The serger really speeds things up and since I did both dresses with white thread, I was able to do some of the work "assembly line" style.

At the end of the second dress, I had to go to the store to get the right shade of green thread to do the hems on the sleeves and bottom of the skirt. I also used the green thread for the button holes. I'll have to post a picture of the green dress later, since I don't have one yet. But here is the whimsical read print dress. Again, buttons were from my grandmother's stash.



Monday, June 06, 2011

Thrift Store Motherlode of Fabric


Since I had such good success whipping out this shirtwaist dress, and since it is (surprise surprise!) a decently flattering style on me, I decided to hit the local thrift store and see what there was there for sheets.

Pale green-awesome color on me. Retro looking flower pint-I'm thinking this will need some maroon piping around the collar. Blue plaid-a shirt waist dress for B who expressed a desire for a retro-looking dress herself. And the blue fabric-such a lovely shade of blue. It would look lovely with white.

House dresses, here I come!

Inspired to Sew a Cotton Dress

After a recent discussion on an e-mail list I'm a part of, and the finding of the fabulous sewing blog The Opulent Poppy, I decided to be both thrifty, seamstressy, and retro, and make a 1930's/1940's inspired dress out of a Nautica sheet I'd bought at the thrift store one time. Cost: $2.50. The buttons are from my Meemaw's stash that I inherited a few years ago.

This is the first sewing project I've done where I used my machines almost to their maximum capacity...using the serger where appropriate, and even using the blind hem stitch on the bottom and the sleeves. The ONLY hand work was sewing the button holes. I can practically whip them out by hand faster than I can set up and figure out how to do them on the machine. (I should really force myself to learn but I DO SO love doing them by hand!). This project took about three hours sewing, at the most, and was my first time using the blind hem stitch and my new serger on a garment.

The top part of the dress is the top of the Romantic Blouse Pattern from Sensibility.com with modified sleeves. The skirt is a made-by-me narrow A-line. Alas, I did not have enough fabric to make any pockets.

So, without further ado:

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Love Mercy, Do Justice, Walk Humbly...

I'm bothered. I can't get this article I read out of my mind. I saw it on Facebook yesterday, and it is about the minimum wage in Haiti. Apparently, the Haitians wanted to raise their minimum wage from 31 cents and hour all the way up to 61 cents an hour. Can you imagine how good this would have been for Haitian minimum wage workers, to have their wages doubled? Wow. That would have been huge.

But it didn't happen.

It didn't happen because the U.S. State department got involved due to the lobbying of Hanes and Levis, who have garment factories in Haiti.

Oh no! We American's can't possibly spend a few cents more per t-shirt or per pair of blue jeans because those huge companies don't want their profits to diminish. Their profits are in the millions. Billions. Huge.

And we here in America are having such HARD TIMES aren't we, that we MUST have cheap t-shirts and Levis jeans. Such hard times that the U.S. State Department has to intervene (threaten? cajole? Be heavy handed?) in the democratic workings of another sovereign nation where sometimes the poor eat dirt?????!!!!!.

I'm pissed.

I feel like as an American I am inextricably tied up in a system that perpetuates evils here at home and abroad, and that it is nearly impossible for me to escape being part of this system. And as an American, there are SOOOO many pressures to consume, consume, consume. I'm "supposed" to do that. I'm supposed to shop shop shop and want want want.

Being sick, and watching more TV and doing less busy stuff than I'm wont to do under normal circumstances, I've seen lots of TV commercials lately. And the gist of them all is: Buy more stuff and protect the stuff you buy by buying insurance on it. Geico commericals and Allstate commercials might be entertaining (I'd love to see mayhem versus the Gekko in a Godzilla-like showdown, but I digress...), but they are also telling.

And the bottom line is, all this being a part of a messed up system that exploits others is damaging to our own souls, I believe.

And I'm not even touching on the various evils of the food industry...

How do I extricate myself? In what thousand little ways can I stop participating in all of this brokenness?

I wish I were well, and rarin' to go. I would SO like to get up and DO things. But for now, I wait, and think, and contemplate and pray.

Lord, please help me to get my strength back, and show me the way to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with my God!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Mono Blues

I'm really really struggling with the diet this week. I'm SUPER hungry, for some reason. And all I want is icecream and FOOD. Like chicken and lasagna. I know, I can have some. But I'm SO TIRED all the time from the mono that I'm still not over, and I'm wondering if restricting food to the level of actual weight loss is hindering my recovery.

Of course, wondering that, makes me lose ALL motivation to actually try to lose weight. What if I worked on maintaining for a while? I don't want to go hog wild and gain everything back bause it's taken me about five months to lose about 12 pounds. That's really really slow. And I could easily gain that all back in a month.

So I'm scared, and worried and Oh. So. Tired.

I"m at that "giving up" wall. But I can't give up. I won't give up.

I just need to find a way to get better, get healed and get over this extreme fatigue.

I want to exercise but I'm so tired that I can barely contemplate doing one load of laundry. Today was spent on the couch. Except for when I was actually sleeping in my bed.

So, that's me right now. I'm so tired that yes, I had a second piece of lasagna at dinner. And I'm so tired I don't care.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grateful

Why am I ALWAYS sick? I've had this cough for a week and a half now, and tomorrow I'm going to find a doctor. If my regular doc can't fit me and the kids in, we'll find an Urgent Treatment Center because...drumroll...now it feels like bronchitis.

Of course, I'm sick. I have mono. Still. Blood tests confirmed it recently, blardy-dar.

So of course it's harder for my poor body to fight off a cold. And the cold going around is a doozy. And now, it is just sitting in my brochial area, and it just aches and I cough and cough and cough.

So, these are the challenges I've been facing.

And my new Weight Watchers pedometer went through the wash. I'm hoping I can rescue it by letting it sit in a jar of rice for a few days. The rice will help dry out the electronic components and hopefully it will restore it to functionality. I've heard it can work for cell phones, so surely it will work for a measly pedometer.

Other than that, what else is going on? Sure have been laying low a lot lately, thanks to illness. I really would like to "go and do" more...ah, today I had to take Wes to the dentist, since he needed some Valium and some laughing gas to get through it all, so I had some time and I found a thrift store, and scored some sweet lace trimmed flannel pillowcases and a couple of Battenberg Lace shams. Yay! While I was there I got really nauseous and sick feeling. Probably because I was over doing it since I'm, like, sick with about three things right now.

And I SO wish I could just focus on doing nothing but lose weight. Like the contestants on the Biggest Loser (Congrats to Olivia, the winner!). But I can't. The fact that I'm losing anything at all right now is a freakin' miracle of grace from God. I'm tellin' ya.

But I'll take it. ANY movement in the downwards direction is to be celebrated.

I can already tell a difference in how easy it is to live in my body, and I'm still in the 230's. But I'm here to say, it sure as heck beats being in the 240's. Even just the little bit I've lost has made a huge difference in how easy it is to do certain things, and my knees don't hurt like they used to. I'm SO GRATEFUL for that.

I'm grateful. That's how I'm feeling these days. Grateful to be on this journey. Grateful to be able to rest when I need to rest (which is often) and grateful for each day that I get through, and grateful to be eating REAL FOOD, in NORMAL quantities and grateful for the new Weight Watchers program that is so easy to stick with and that is teaching me new eating habits. And even though I'm sick, I'm grateful for the things I'm learning through all this.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Tracking Game

Well, folks, I lost weight again this week. Which, on the one hand, since I have a really bad cold and I did not think my body would multi-task that well, is very astonishing, but on the other hand, since I have been faithfully tracking my points and drinking TONS of water is not surprising at all. 1.2 pounds. I'll take it.

So, have I told you all of my motivational tracking game? A few weeks back I was having a real huge struggle with tracking points faithfully and so I made some rules: For each day that I track, I get a dollar of "allowance". If I track for seven days, I get to keep the money no matter if I lose weight or gain. If I track for less than seven days, I only get to have the money from the days I tracked that week IF I lost weight.

This game is motivating me, and I am happy to report that I have earned nineteen dollars in the past three weeks, to go towards a pedicure once I've accumulated enough cash to pay for such a procedure.

I've never had a pedicure in my life. I'm a bit nervous about someone carving my hooves off. Perhaps I should contact a farrier instead?

And I've been steadily losing weight, which is the whole point of the game. Another sub point of the game is to teach myself to do with non food awards. I'm not good at that. Since I"m a fat person, it's obvious that I've tended to use food as a reward in the past. So, there's a bonus...something good to learn.

I wish I could work out, but instead I'm sitting on the couch, waiting for the results on my spleen test, nursing this mono and a cold, and drinking water. Woop dee do. When I hit twenty pounds lost, I'll put up another picture of myself.

I need to perk this blog up with more pictures, recipes etc.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Keepin' it Real!

Yeah baby! That should be the NAME of this blog. Seriously. But instead, it's the title of the FIRST EVER BLOG AWARD for me to receive!!!! I'm stoked. Thanks so much to Genevieve and her generosity, and Matushka Anna for inventing the blog award in the first place.

Yeah, I was so excited to receive this blog award, that I immediately had to have a ferocious coughing fit, sending me in search of some clean pj's (anyone whose had four kids knows what I'm talking about). See, this is what excitement does in my life and I SO don't need it. But a blog award. Now, IF I can figure out how to paste the fancy little picture here we'll all be thrilled, right? Here I go....



I got it on the second try! Just keepin' it real, folks!

...now....whom shall I nominate??????? Let me think about it.

Update: I would like to nominate Juliana from Abide and Endeavor for the "Keepin' it Real" blog award.

A Journey Towards Health

So, I went back to the doctor to talk about how my mono recovery is going and basically: It's not. I'm still sick. On top of that, me and all the kids (well, I think there might be one who has not succumbed yet) have really bad cough/congestion type colds. I'm hoping a week will see us recovered from those.

But the mono: It's been four months now, and it is STILL WITH ME, according to the bloodwork.

Clearly I'm not resting enough. I need to figure out a way to massively change my lifestyle for the next how-ever-long, so that I can get over the mono.

What else can I do? Healthy eating: doing it. Plenty of water: doing it. Exercise: Avoiding it as I am supposed to be at this time.

All this makes losing weight seem sort of funny right now. But ironically, I AM slowly losing weight. I figure if even through this adversity I can manage to change my eating habits for the better, it's only to the good.

It's really difficult to force myself to be still and NOT exercise. I want to be so much more active than I am able to be. But whenever I do ANYTHING at all, my spleen hurts.

In fact, I went and had my spleen ultrasounded on Monday. I'm still waiting for the results of that particular test. Is it bruised? Swollen? Why's it hurting? I don't know yet.

So having a nasty, massive head/chest cold this week is sort of a blessing because it's forcing me to rest, rest and rest some more. Like I ought to be doing for the mono.

I don't think it's possible for a human to eat any healthier than I'm eating. Really. I've made "all those" changes. So that's going along. What else is there that I can do, but rest and pray and eat healthier and then as I'm recovered add exercise to my life?

It seems so easy to take our health for granted. I think society often sends the message that if we are fat and obese it is our fault, and we can do everything we need to do about it to get better. But I say this: I did not set out to become fat and obese. The problem was, I did not figure out, heretofore, how to live my life so that I would NOT become fat and obese. I didn't do it on purpose, but merely failed to prevent it... but hopefully in finding the solution to this problem, I will find the solution to its future prevention as well.

Meanwhile, I need to find out how to recover from having mono. It's all the same: A journey towards health. I wish it were simple but instead it's this incredibly complicated thing.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Its a journey, not a step.

Lost another two and a half pounds this week! Woot woot. And that was with inefficient tracking over the weekend.

I'll take it. I'm not quite where I was before I blew it over Pascha, but getting closer.

Mental struggles galore, but I'm getting to the bottom of some of those nasty issues that have been bugging me for the past thirty years or so. I don't really want to blog about them, but I can guarantee you that if you have a weight problem, you probably have similar such issues.

It's good to look inside and fix what's broken. And allow God to fix what's broken. And to find the support you need in your life for this journey, because the journey towards healing is not a one-stop deal. It's a journey.

So I'm on the slow road. But I'm on the road. The weather's gotten suddenly hot here in KY and my mono has had a flare up. I wonder if I should call the doctor about the off and on pain in my slpeen area that I've been having for the past few months? Hmmmm. Sounds expensive. Hmmmm, but it's not going away on its own. Hmmmmm.

So, it's a journey not a step. I've always wanted it to be a step. But it's not. So, here's to taking the next step. And the one after that, and the one after that.

And by the way: Fage greek yogurt is FANTASTIC, super high in protein, only 3 points per cup (of the plain, fat free stuff) and makes fruit salad into a meal, not a snack. It's so creamy tasting that I could not eat a whole cup all at once. So, that's my new food find of the week.

And I've discovered I really don't care for papaya. But credit to me for trying a new food.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Fear and Loathing in the Summer Time

Lost about three and a half this week, which gets me half way towards losing the seven pounds I'd regained during Holy Week and Pascha (Easter). I'm not convinced ANY of it is actually BODY FAT. But whatever. The lady at weight watchers never asks "And, so how were your bowel movements this week, dear?" Nope its always "Wow, this plan really works when you stick with it, doesn't it!"

Yuppers.

It may not sound like it very much, based on the level of snark that is likely leaking through here, but I really am pleased with the WW program. I like tracking. I like the accountability and I like that its very "real life" compatible. This morning I still had a slice of my daughter's chocolate birthday cake (we do birthday breakfasts because who wants cake after a full meal, right?) and counting the points and such. It's all good.

No, the snark is simply because I am TIRED OUT from a day of Hellmart, waiting forever at the beauty salon and going to COSTCO, and when I finally got home I was too dead to unload the groceries (thankfully I have minions who helped) and make dinner. So my husband got home from work and put away groceries, cleaned the kitchen which was magically gross again even though I'd done the breakfast/lunch dishes earlier in the day), and cooked supper.

And the snark is from vast amounts of fear and loathing circulating through my brain right now about the fact that summer is almost here and summer is the hardest season.

I fear summer. It means being fat in summer clothes. No, wait! I would love to be merely FAT in summer clothes. It means being OBESE in summer clothes and I just never ever know how to dress or what to wear and how to stay cool and be nice-looking and decent and modest. Gah. And then there's talk of people wanting to go swimming and that means Mom has to be out there by the pool, too and that means ME. in. a. swimsuit. Gah!

Every summer I daydream about NEXT summer when everything will be different. When I'll be thin.

I'm so sick of that stupid hope because it freaking NEVER HAPPENS. ...but this year I'm a good little weight watcher and I AM tracking and the program really really really does work cross my fingers click my heels together and spit over my left shoulder. Yeah. andIamwearingmypedometerandwalkingmorethanthefreakin'FRENCHeverydayand...and...and.


And I look in the mirror and it's fear of summer, it's self loathing and its sadness and depression. Even though I'm doing this weight loss thing, I have that tortoise charm on my bracelet to remind me that it's going to be a long haul.

I've got to figure this summer time thing out because I tend to GAIN and not lose weight when the weather heats up.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Foolinesh!

Yeah. Pascha happened. Now I'm back on track. Yes, I gained quite a bit of weight. Almost all? Seven pounds in the last two weeks? Yes, it's true.

This is what not tracking for a week, and having a few bad weeks before that where I half tracked, will get me.

But it is a new beginning and I will NOT give up. I have not given up. I did not give up.

It's just that Pascha happened and my sleep got all topsy turvy and that has made all sorts of other things irregular and I am SO READY to be tracking again. Enjoying it, actually.

I feel more secure this way. And that is a load off my mind.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Burn it and Earn it

Well, I managed to lose weight this week (1.2 pounds). I had a little chat with the WW leader and asked for her advice: What do I do if I have a really really bad day, and blow it really bad? Do I ditch all the weekly points and limp along for the rest of the week without using them, or do I pick up the next day and start fresh and still have my weekly points? She told me to do the latter. Good to know.

I did not think I'd lose weight this week because I sort of blew the weekend, what with the AHG camping trip and all. But I guess my workouts and choices in general combined to make it an OK week. I definitely want to track better in the coming weeks.

I have also hit my own personal wall. I'm starting to bump up against the reality that I have big food issues and compulsive eating and I have to deal with the emotional aspects of why I'm overweight (emotional eating, compulsive eating, stress eating and I MUST learn to deal with emotions in non-food-related ways...BUT HOW?????). By now that the program does not feel like a fun game anymore, but rather like WORK (I still like it but it's pain-in-the-butt factor has dramatically increased here lately). Work is not a bad thing. I'm learning to embrace the work, to set goals and find ways to meet them.

One thing I'm going to do is pay myself to track. Here is my "Burn it and Earn it" plan:

For each day that I track, I get a dollar. If I track perfectly all week, I get to keep those seven dollars, regardless of whether I've lost weight. The tracking habit is the thing.

IF I do not track perfectly all week, I get to keep the dollars for the days I DO track IF I LOSE WEIGHT and ONLY if I lose. If not, I don't get to earn those dollars.

My initial thought is to save up and earn a serger this way, but it might be that I really need that serger before the weeks will go by to earn it this way. If I get a serger for my home sewing business before then, I will figure something else out that I really want and try to earn that thing.

So, that's my plan to keep myself on track with tracking.

So far, I'm down 15 pounds from my all time high weight that I'd hit last fall. Down about 13 pounds since starting WW. Happy progress!