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Meet: The Bob

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I never thought I'd say this, but- we have a minivan, and we feel like rockstars.

When Christopher and I first met, back in 2004, I drove a 2002 Convertible Kia Sportage, a car that I had payed for with nothing other than my very own money. After we married, we upgraded to a 2005 Chevy Tracker, with both of our money. It was our "family car", or so we thought. When we signed the paperwork and purchased it, we had our future in mind. I guess we never really saw ourselves having 3 children, especially not so soon, but- I swear we thought it would carry us through life for the next ten years at least.

When we became pregnant with the bean, it was obvious that the Tracker just wouldn't cut it anymore. We barely fit into it as it was, our knees were pressed into our chests when we sat, we couldn't store both a stroller and a grocery bag at the same time- there was no way we could squeeze in another car seat. We needed to upgrade.

One afternoon, Christopher was browsing around online, looking to see what was available at local dealerships (something he had been doing quite often), when he came across a 2007 maroon colored Honda Odyssey, in our price range. It had to be ours.

Somehow, within just minutes of laying eyes on it, Eleanore had nicknamed our new minivan "The Bob". I don't know where it came from, I think it was maybe a misunderstanding of the word "van", but... 5 hours later, after an exhausting buying process, Christopher and I were the proud owners of The Bob.

The name stuck.

Base Easter Egg Hunt 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On Saturday we woke up bright and early (against Christopher's wishes, of course), shoveled oatmeal berry pancakes into our mouths fast as we could, quickly got dressed and then rushed ourselves down the street to the Base Easter Egg Hunt!

We hadn't even made it down the driveway, when Eleanore tripped over her own feet, ate cement, and ended up with a bloody nose. Get up big girl, get up! Rather than standing there crying (I'm surprised she didn't knock a tooth out with that fall), I shoo'd away the pain and replaced it with happy thoughts of the Easter Bunny, who waiting just around the corner for us. Usually, I might have babied her a little bit more, (the sight of blood usually brings out the "there there" side of me) but we were running late, and if we didn't hurry, we'd miss the baby hunt!

We got there just as the youngest of the bunch was heading out onto the field. Christopher helped me free Charlie from the ERGO, I handed over my camera, and egg huntin' we went!

This wasn't Charlie's first egg hunt, but it was his first egg hunt that he was awake for. We went to the same hunt last year (it was just as windy then too), but he had stayed snuggly warm up against my chest while his Sister went out and had all of the fun.

I squatted down beside him in the field, picked up an egg, and dropped it into his basket. "See, like this!". He looked into the bag at the blue plastic egg, not sure what to think of it. So I picked up another egg, and held it out for him. "Now you put it into the basket", I insisted. I set it into his lumpy little hand, it barely fit, and together we let go of it, letting it fall down to lay beside the other egg. Finally, a squeal of delight. What fun egg hunting is, he decided! 6 more eggs into the bag, and by then, we decided it would be best to clear the grass and head back to show Daddy and Sister what we had found.

After all of our excitement, Charlie and I pulled up a shady spot under a tree, to explore our brightly colored candy filled eggs. No matter that they were filled with jawbreakers and bubblegum, he doesn't know what those things are yet anyways, and certainly wouldn't miss them when I threw them out. All he cared about, was the brightly colored snap-together treasures.

Christopher and Eleanore hurried away to the hunt for 3-4 year olds, anticipation pushing Miss Elie the whole way. After awhile of sitting under the tree, Charlie and I decided to go watch. Mostly we had wanted to stay out of the way, and out of the wind, but after sitting on the cold ground long enough for my legs to fall asleep, it was time to get up and show Sister some enthusiasm.

A very happy girl indeed. She only found 4 eggs, due to being confused as to why her Daddy couldn't join her on the field (they weren't allowing parents on the field? they're just babies!), but as soon as he was by her side, she was able to focus and grab at least 4.

Rather than staying and going through our eggs there on the field like we did last year, we decided to head back home. The wind was too strong to stay still for more than a few minutes at a time, and the kids really hadn't gotten that many eggs anyways.

The walk home was nice. Breezy, a bit chilly, but so full of excitement. Now they're extra excited for the Easter Bunny to visit our house next weekend. This time though, he won't be filling the eggs with icky tooth breaking rock hard candy, he'll be filling them with pennies, nickels, and soft chewy tootsie rolls.


Monday, March 29, 2010

When Eleanore was born, we didn't have a clue. About anything. We had no idea which baby thing was better than which, they were all equally confusing, and they all cost money that we didn't have. I lived in the dark, when it came to the internet, not having a computer, or any kind of connection with any other new mothers. In a way, having just moved across country and throwing myself blindfolded into a new military lifestyle, I was living under a rock.

We've been through several baby carriers. The first few we had gotten from the Airman's Attic (a goodwill style place here on base, for enlisted members of the military and their wives/husbands, to donate items to, and sort of "shop" from, at no cost). It was cheaply made, but it was better than nothing. It didn't work for us, and at our first chance to trade it in for a better one, we did just that. Well, what we thought was a better one, wasn't. Two baby carrier FAILS. Nothing was working. They both had hurt my shoulders and back, and neither felt sturdy enough for me to really even take my hands off of the babe while wearing her.

When Charlie was born, we got a ring sling. For the life of me though, I just couldn't get it to work. One time Charlie even fell out of it, right into my arms, thank God, but after that I folded it up and set it aside for good. Next, we got a Baby Bjorn. We thought that maybe if we bought an expensive carrier from Target, with hard earned money, that it would work better. And it did, work better than the previous ones we had gotten for free, that is, but it still didn't work well.

Now, being well into my 2nd trimester with my third child, I have had enough. I got online, finally, and recently came to the conclusion that we were getting an ERGO. Not only am I getting it for the new baby, but, I'm having a heck of a hard time carrying around my 30 pound one year old. The ERGO is good for a child up to 40 pounds (and has been tested up to 90, I read). Yes, its time.

(19 weeks pregnant here)

After a struggle of getting the ERGObaby adjusted and fitted properly, it was like a dream come true. I tried to wear the waist strap both ways, below and above my growing belly. Fastening it below my bump caused me pain, and didn't feel supportive enough. Securing it above, felt right. This is how I'll wear it, as long as I comfortably can.

Charlie wasn't so sure about it at first, being used to either riding on my hip or in the stroller (the ERGO has the option for a hip carry, but being pregnant, there was no way I could pull it off when I tried), but after our first 3 mile walk- he was sold. We've been going out every night, and every adventure, he gets more and more excited. His big sister loves it, because its almost as if Charlie isn't there at all, he keeps so quiet. I love it, because not only am I getting out and getting miles and miles of fresh air, but I've got a happy 3 year old by my side, a happy 1 year old on my back, a happy bean in my belly, and that makes me happy.

Magical Easter Bunny Food (re post)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Last year, just in time for a hungry bunny to start his long hop over to our neck of the woods, Eleanore and I got out some super fun edible supplies, put together a bunny food box, and we made a big batch of magical Easter Bunny food. We had so much fun doing it then, that I think we're going to go ahead and make it a tradition. And because this is something that we'll be doing this week, I thought I could re post it for all of you, in case its something that you'd like to do with your little one as well :)

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I actually got this idea from jessicajanehandmade. I missed the boat on doing it at Christmas time, (some of you might remember my being the size of a small house and ready to burst with baby) so I figured maybe I could make it work for another holiday? How about Easter! Yes.

I took a quick trip to my favorite craft store, where all of the Easter stuff was half off (bonus!) and picked up some Easter-craft supplies. A blank oval cardboard box, sugar sprinkles, Easter themed stickers, toasted coconut (I would have bought this somewhere else, but I knew I wouldn't be going to any other stores between then and Easter), and then some little doodads to play with on Easter day.

The next night, Eleanore helped me paint the box blue. We got paint everywhere of course. On the floors, on our skin, on the cat. OK not really on the cat, but I thought about it. The next day she covered the blue box in stickers (with mine and my friend Jessica's help). After that, I covered the stickered box in a layer of matte decoupage real quick before the baby started crying to be held, and left it by the sink to dry. It turned out to be the perfect box for holding magic bunny food.

The next day I set up multiple cupcake papers filled with different colored sprinkles, poured a heap of coconut into the box, and let her have at it. She loved it! Of course an hour later the floor was covered in sprinkles, Eleanore's face looked like it had been tye dyed, and craft time turned into an endless cycle of time out. Temper tantrums and sugar high's aside (shes 2, I expected it), it was one of the funnest crafts we've ever done.

This evening we went outside in the rain, before the big storm moved in, and sprinkled the magic bunny food all over the front yard. Eleanore loved throwing it into the air and watching the wind blow it around her. And who am I kidding, I loved it too.

Young Love

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tia: Its Thursday night. I'm lying on the couch in fleece Christmas themed pajama pants, belly sticking out from underneath my shirt, chocolate around my lips from all of the temptation that I just gave into . Halfway through Greys Anatomy, I remember "crap, Flashback Friday". I glance over the back of the couch at Christopher, who is sitting at the big computer, and a light bulb goes off in my head. He can do Flashback Friday this week. Right? Can't he? I'm tired. I've chased after two babies all day, one of them with a brand new tooth, the other with a heavy dose of attitude- I just want to lay. Even though he just spent nearly two hours upstairs fighting with the bedroom toilet, a sight that I'm glad I got to avoid, I know that hes just going to be looking up Air Force news and spy on his Facebook friends. Surely, he can dig through the diaper box, pull out a picture, and write a little something. So, if you'll excuse me tonight friends, me and my squirmy baby bump have some Private Practice to watch.

Christopher: Can you believe this is us? Minivan-driving, Air Force base-living, three children-having... us? Way back in 2005, five years ago, before Eleanore was even a thought in our minds- we flew from Portland to Boise, to visit my family for my Mom's birthday. It was the first time Tia was introduced to any of them, and the first time that any of them were introduced to her. And she met them all at once.

This picture was taken at Camels Back Hill in Boise. I know you all love my hair. And Tia's red lipstick.

Now we're all grown up, but... we still like wearing ridiculous sunglasses and posing for photos together.


If you'd like to play along, please do. You're all more than welcome to pull up a photo, write a little bit about it, and post your link to the list below! Make sure to grab our Flashback button (way down there at the bottom of the page), or text link us- so that your readers find their way back here, see the other fun flashbacks, and maybe want to join in on the fun too :)

Some Things On My Mind...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sometimes I have very specific things that I want to write about. And other times (like right now), I'm completely scatter brained with no particular blogging map to follow in order to navigate my words to their correct places. I have several things on my mind, that are all fighting for a chance to come out, all at once. Last week I did a sort of "On My Mind" style entry, and I really enjoyed it. I liked how the words were able to just sort of easily spill out of my finger tips. I thought I'd try it again this week, but, less organized, in an adapted kind of way? These are just a couple of things that are on my mind right now...

I'm currently reading... The Time Travelers Wife. I had borrowed it from the library here on base, but because I almost never have time to sit down and read it, it became overdue and we had to return it. Last weekend while we were out doing our bulk shopping, hubby let me pick it up off of the rack and set it inside our cart. Now that I've scooted my eyes all the way past the 100 page mark, I feel more involved. I tried to sneak in a few hours of reading yesterday, while the kids were playing outside (yesterday was a rough day, by the way, and my plan to read failed), and then a little bit in the evening while the kids took a bath upstairs with Daddy. Since it was the last thing I was doing before I went to bed, I dreamt about it. When I woke up in the middle of the night, several times, I was confused. I couldn't remember what I had really read, or what had happened in my dream. The part about the mountain of peanut butter cups though, I figured probably wasn't real, and... why was that part of my dream anyways? Every time I returned to sleep, my dream would pick up where it left off. It never does that when I want it to, but when I'm completely confused, of course it does.

The weather was so nice yesterday... I felt the need to spend as much time outside as possible. I set up our largest pink blanket in the driveway, covered in in our "outside books", and let the kids have at it. They were really into the books at first, but eventually interests drifted. Now that Charlie can walk, hes all over the place. In the rocks, in Daddy's back corner of the garage (the danger zone: oil, tools, all that stuff), crunching his way through the dead grass on the side yard, falling and bonking into things, chasing after his sister who he can't possibly keep up with. I yell at him like hes a puppy. When he gets to a certain point on the cement patio, I shout "Charlie, sit! Sit down!". If I don't, he'll continue to walk, completely ignoring the step down into the rock bed, and land face first into dirty pebbles. When he sits, I say "gooood boy Charlie, good job!" ...see, just like a puppy. While I do my best not to take my eyes off of him, sometimes I just don't catch him in time, and if I forget to yell "sit!" even once, he walks straight off, and falls into the rocks. Every time.

Sometimes I get moody... and overreact to things that wouldn't otherwise bother me. Sometimes something rubs me the wrong way, usually on days that something else has previously upset me, and my emotions spiral out of control in a hurry. Yesterday was one of those days. Something upset me, followed by something else, and before I knew it, I could hardly speak I was so mad. So of course when I did open my mouth, all that came out was shouting, and possibly fire. After Christopher got home I vented (poor guy, what an awful thing to come home to), and we decided that what I needed was some physical activity. We put Charlie in the ERGO carrier for the 2nd night in a row, this time fitting on my shoulders much more comfortably, and off we went. We walked almost 3 miles before coming home. It lifted my spirits, and released all of the anxiety and anger that had been hanging over my head like an ugly rain cloud. Sometimes I forget just how good it feels to get out and moving. I'm easily overcome with pregnancy fatigue and a case of good old fashioned laziness.

I want my babies to be healthy... so I've been putting in the extra effort to cook from scratch, more often. Obviously, with all of our allergies and intolerance's, I don't have much of a choice. But when given the option for boxed chicken nuggets, I take it. For awhile there, they were getting cold cereal every morning. I know there is nothing wrong with cold cereal, but... I can do better. Oatmeal is healthier, and I've got the time to cook it (a lot of Mothers don't). Every morning, for the past week and a half, I wake up and get started on breakfast first thing. I fill my favorite pink pan with oats and water, throw in a dash of salt, bring it to a barely boil, and then back the heat down to low. I add a big splash of soy milk, cook it until it looks good and done, pour it into the Vita Mix, add a banana and peanut butter, maybe some berries instead, and I puree it into a delicious cream of oats. The texture then becomes something much more enjoyable than that of boring ol' oatmeal, and all of the ingredients are equally divied up. I pour it into two bowls- a toddler sized one for Eleanore, and a regular size bowl for Charlie and I to share. They prefer it with peanut butter and bananas, but this morning we had neither. Instead I filled the pot of cooking oats with both blueberries and raspberries, resulting in a bright purple puree in the end. The baby gobbled it up, as did I, but the toddler made a fuss and had to sit by herself at the table for an hour or longer until it was all gone. I'm not one to force feed if the child isn't hungry, but with Eleanore, its just a battle of who's boss. I don't spend all of that time in the kitchen cooking, followed by cleaning, for her to be a picky eater. What kid doesn't want to eat bright purple oatmeal? Next time I'm going to let her be the one to pour the berries into the pan. Maybe getting her more involved in the making of the food, even though its early and I'd much rather be working in my zombie mode alone, will help her appreciate all that goes into it.

Alright, seems like that's probably enough for today, heee. I feel a little less heavy in the head, so I must have gotten out all of the things that needed to go. Now maybe I should attend to my tantrum throwing three year old, who is currently sitting in the middle of the floor with both her arms and legs crossed, nose straight up in the air, repeating "I'm not going to talk to you anymore!". Maybe she doesn't understand that I like the silence, haha.

An Adventure

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tonight we ate dinner outside on the front porch. I made homemade pumpkin donuts, which I know aren't exactly healthy (even though they were both vegan and gluten free), but every once in a while- its alright, ya know?

We had to shoo away the bees as they came to sniff the sweet powdered sugar that blew off of our paper plates and drifted towards their hives. Go away bees, go away.

After dinner I changed out of my skinny jeans and put on my favorite pair of sweats. Kicked off my flip flops and tied on my Adidas. We strapped the baby into our new cranberry colored ERGO carrier, let the toddler climb up into the same stroller that shes been riding in since the day she was born- and we all went for a walk together.

Even though we've lived in this house, on this street, for nearly 2 years, every spring it seems like there is a whole new world to explore. The familys come and go quicker than the seasons, impacting the neighborhoods and the houses that occupy them. New flowers here, a new tree there. A puppy playing outside on a front yard there on the corner, a little girl riding her bike in the street behind us. Fallen branches, pebbles, and leaves littering the nature path.

Lots of adventure.

But when you're new to the world, rather than just exploring something new, everything is an adventure.

I think we should have donuts for dinner on the porch more often.

Love Never Fails

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Friday, Christopher had flowers delivered to me for the first time. I've gotten flowers before, store bought, hand picked, those of the paper variety- but I've never had them delivered to me before.

All day I had sort of been grumbling under my breath about how he didn't do anything for our anniversary. Neither had I, really. Sure, I had pulled out some old wedding photos, I had written a heartfelt blog, I had made a berry cake (it was supposed to be scones, but... such is life), I had cleaned the house. Those are things I do every day though. I hadn't gone out of my way to mark the occasion, and here I was pouting like a puppy because he hadn't either. I wasn't mean about it, but I did make several light sarcastic comments to get my "you hurt my feelings" point across, which is one of the most awful ways to do it, isn't it?

That evening, as I relaxed on the couch, netbook in lap, the doorbell rang.

Christopher: "Will you get that?"

Me: "No, I've got my computer all set up, you're right there by the door, can't you-"

Christopher: "I think you better get it"


I knew before I even got to the door that all of my complaining, although most of it was kept to myself, was coming back to bite me. I peeked through the peep hole, and there in my driveway was an unfamiliar car. Standing in front of me, was an unfamiliar man- holding a large amount of flowers. Beautiful flowers, that I suddenly felt guilty for recieving.

I opened the door, scribbled my name down on the paper coated clipboard, accepted my bouquet, and immediately hugged my husband, who turns out, hadn't forget about our special day at all.

Even though I have these words tattooed on my inner left forearm, I thought maybe we could all use a reminder...

Flashback Friday- Our Wedding Day

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This week, Flashback Friday is a sort of special one for us. Today is mine and Christopher's 4th wedding anniversary. You might have noticed last week that we've put a temporary yet possibly permanent hold on themes, so if you'll be playing along, please feel free to post whatever old photo you'd like. But for us...

4 years ago today, Christopher and I were on the Oregon Coast, walking through the cold sand with bare feet, hearts pounding as hard as they were the first time we kissed, hand in hand, looking into each other eyes with both love and fear, saying "I do".

We had a last minute wedding, not at all like the wedding that I dreamt about as a little girl. We were pregnant with our first child, and Christopher was about to leave to join the Air Force. We needed to be married before he left, so we used what we had. I wore an old polka dot party dress (the same dress that I wore earlier that year on my 21st birthday), Christopher wore a vintage powder blue suit over the top of a shark attack shirt, we painted our names and the date on rocks to toss into the ocean, and surrounded by the few friends and family that had the ability to rush out the door without having much notice- we married.

While Christopher and company stood out on the windy beach patiently, my Dad and I stayed behind on the boardwalk. We sat on a bench so far away from everybody that we could barely make out their bodies as tiny dots in the distance. I was cold and shivering, my dad gave me his jacket. This was the last time that I would ever truly be Daddys Little Girl. He was about to hand me over, and I know it wasn't easy for him, to the man that would take care of me from here on out. This would be the last time that my dad and I would share the same last name. We didn't talk about anything in particular, while making everyone down in the sand wonder if they'd be attending a wedding or a breakup, we mostly just made little jokes to distract us from the sadness that we both felt so heavily. This was our goodbye. We both knew, but I think he must have known much more than I did, that our relationship would never be the same.

After tears of love and nostalgia were shed, I handed him back his jacket (it smelt just like him), gave him a hug, took his arm, and tugged him in the direction of our ceremony. The sadness was swept away with the next breeze, and before I knew it, all I could see in front of me was my husband and the ocean.

It wasn't until our minister started talking, that I realized how real all of this was becoming. I started choking on my tears, in front of everybody. I remember feeling embarrassed and wishing Christopher and I could just turn around and dive into the ocean together. My eyeliner started to smudge at the corners and dribbled down past my eyelashes. The minister, who was also crying after only speaking a few words, reached out and handed me a tissue that she had been holding the whole time, knowing I'd be overcome with emotion.

I don't remember anything she said. I don't remember the words, I don't remember the sounds of the crashing waves- nothing. I remember when Christopher reached over with one hand to grab mine, and then put the other hand down on my belly, as if to remind me of why we were standing there in the first place. I waited, and just kept waiting, and waited- to hear her seal it. I needed her to tell me that he was my husband, and I was his wife.

And then she did.

We, and everybody else there with us, picked a rock out of the basket, and walked down into the water, closed our eyes and made wishes for our future, and then threw them into the unknown, hoping they'd all come true.

And so far they have.

Happy Anniversary honey...


If you'd like to play along, we'd love to flashback with you. Simply post an old picture, write a little blurb to go with it, and then post your link on the list below. Make sure to link from your post back to ours, either in text form, or you can take our flashback button from down there at the bottom of our page, and if you've got a minute leave a comment on another flashback post or two? We can't wait to see what you have to share with us.

Endometriosis Awareness: My Story

March is Endometriosis Awareness month (you can learn more about the no-men-allowed disease by clicking here), and in order to help raise awareness, I'm going to share my personal story with you. My battle with an invisible disease that won't kill you, but will make you stronger...

Growing up, my mother always gave me way too much information. About everything. Horrifying details and facts that little ears don't need to hear. By the age of 6, I had a very clear picture of what my menstrual cycle would be like. The word "clots" and "cramps" were brought up every other day, and even though I didn't know what either were, I was told to expect them, and asked frequently if I had them. As a 6 year old child, I waited for them. Endometriosis is hereditary, and my daughter will most likely have it as well. When I feel shes old enough, after shes actually started her period, we'll sit down together and talk about it, in the most positive way that my voice will allow. I don't want to scare her the way I was scared. I want to help her manage her pain if and when it arrives, and get her the treatment that is best for her. But anyways, enough of my little ones undeveloped story, and back to mine...

I didn't start my period until I was 12 or 13, and although I had been warned all of my life about how horrible it would be, I didn't experience any severe symptoms until I was a couple years older. By then, my mother had already had a complete hysterectomy, and had moved onto focusing her sufferings elsewhere.

My periods got worse and worse. I'd take midol, I'd lay with a heating pad, and I'd get on with my life. I was briefly put on birth control when I was 15, to help "regulate", or calm down my periods, but was taken off of the pill when my mother quit her job and lost her healthcare a few months later. It wasn't until after having my first child, that I realized how bad my pain really was.

Within a few months of giving birth to Eleanore, my cycle returned, and quite frankly, knocked me directly on my ass. During my time of the month, I couldn't move. I'd lay in bed, crying, begging for Christopher to bring me pain pills. Leftover pills from my c-section, leftover pills from Christopher's wisdom tooth removal, anything I could get my hands on. I couldn't stand up. I couldn't go to the bathroom. I couldn't think straight. All I felt was pain. Mind numbing pain. Once a month, for 5 or 6 days at a time, "I was broken", I'd jokingly say.

I couldn't take it anymore. After 4 or 5 months, I was sure I was dying. It didn't just hurt during my period anymore. It hurt all the time. Usually I'd get a short break, for a day or 3, just after my period ended- but for the most part, I was living a life of complete misery. I felt as though I was on my period every hour, of every day, of every week, of every month... I was going to die like this. It felt as if somebody was standing behind me with a knife, and would randomly come up and stab me in the back. I'd jump every time, and clutch whatever was nearest to me. The stabbing pains were sharp, and deep. I was embarrassed whenever somebody would see me jerk from the intensity, and then cry, not knowing when the next would happen. Between the stabs, a neverending cramping. Not just in my lower abdomen, but in my entire lower body, it seemed. My back, my pelvis, my hips, my everywhere. It never went away.

I made an appointment with the Woman's Clinic here on base. The nurse practitioner that examined me said that it was completely normal to have bad periods, and that I maybe had adhesions caused from my c-section, but suggested I see somebody off base. She prescribed me stronger ibuprofen (the military heals everything with 800 mg), and sent me on my way. But not before sending me to mental health first. Oh yes, that's right. They thought I was crazy.

And maybe I was a little crazy. Pain turns you into an entirely different person sometimes. I was desperate for help.

In the mean time, my family was suffering. My husband didn't understand. My baby didn't understand. I was always in pain, I was always upset. I wasn't much of a mother, or a wife. The guilt of knowing that, made everything so much worse. I couldn't stand the person that I was. I couldn't stand that I couldn't escape my own body. I couldn't get a job, because most days, I couldn't get out of bed. "Help me", I begged God every night, "forgive me, for doing this to my family".

And then I saw a doctor off base. A monotone lady with a brightly colored office, which I found to be weird. She listened to my symptoms. She examined me. Within 15 minutes, I had an appointment to have a laparoscopic surgery done. With a history of Endometriosis in my family, and my non stop crying and begging for help, she said that whatever was wrong with me, was real. They'd go in with a camera, they'd find the problem, and we'd fix it.

When I woke up after my surgery, I heard a nurse talking to another nurse. Saying something about how "they found spores of Endometriosis in this one". Was I that one?

...yes. They later showed me pictures of my ovaries, covered in bits and pieces of the lining of my uterus.

What happened next was emotionally exhausting. The doctor that I had been seeing, told me that my only options were to start injections of Lupron, a drug that would put me through an on-purpose menopause- or, I could get pregnant. Was she kidding? By that point, Christopher and I had been trying to get pregnant for a few months (which is why she gave that as an option), with no success. She told us "you can have children later", and insisted on my taking the drug. She said that if I didn't get the injections, she couldn't help us. She wouldn't help us.

We left her office, and never went back.

I did all of the research online that I could. What could I do at home, to help myself? There is an "Endometriosis Diet", no gluten, no dairy, no caffeine. I was already gluten free, but, I could certainly do better. I found that cutting out caffeine did help, so as awful as it seemed at the time, I stuck with it. I had read that using tampons rather than pads, made the pain worse, so I made a change there too. As much as I hated pads, I was desperate for pain relief. I had been prescribed a stronger pain killer, and took it religiously. I did everything that I read I could do, and we continued to try to get pregnant.

Every month that the test came up negative, I felt like I was being punished. Not only was I not pregnant (did I mention how badly it hurt physically to even try to make a baby? Sex is the last thing you want to try to attempt when you know how much it will hurt.), but I would have to endure 5 days of the most intense torture my body could throw at me. We had a routine worked out. A way of life, during my period. I slept on towels, to prevent soaking through the sheets. I wore overnight pads during the day. I had a strict schedule of when to take my pills, and if I missed one by even a few minutes, the entire family would suffer. We had it under control.

And then one day, there were 2 pink lines on the pregnancy test. 12 months after we had started trying, just as we were beginning to think that the infertility symptom of the disease was winning, we were going to have another baby.

The pain went away instantly. The agony, the emotional instability, the misery- it was all gone. Of course, it was replaced with general pregnancy discomforts, but in over all, I felt like I had died from the pain that I had been in for so long, and gone to a sort of heaven on Earth.

As my pregnancy went on, just like when I was pregnant with Eleanore, I forgot how awful it had ever been. I had a few specific memories of laying on the couch unable to move, because I had missed a pill, but other than that, I had been pain free for so long, I wondered if any of it it had even been real?

Christopher and I decided that after we had our baby (Charlie), we'd let nature do its thing. We wouldn't use any method of birth control. We'd get pregnant as soon as my body was ready. 6 months after giving birth to Charlie, my period returned. A month after that, I started to feel my Endometriosis creeping up on me again. It was dull, and completely tolerable, but it was there. Two months after that, we were pregnant again. We didn't expect for it to happen that quickly, and while we were surprised, we were grateful.

While I sit here typing this, completely pain free, I can't ignore what this disease has done to me and my family. Or what it will continue to do. After our next baby is born, if we're able to have a 4th, we'll let my body get pregnant when its ready, just like we did this time. If this is our last (to be determined by the doctor at the time of surgical delivery), then we have to decide what we're going to do. It won't take long before it sneaks up on us and drags me away to a dark cave again. Do we have a hysterectomy right away? I've heard about something called Endometrial ablation, do we go that route? Whatever we do, I can't go back to a painful life of misery. I won't do that to my family. I won't do that to myself.

For right now, I'm living my life, happily.

Endometriosis Awareness

It isn't too late to help raise awareness. March isn't over yet. You can display this button on your blog, or share your own personal story if you have one. The nurse that told me that it was "normal" to have bad periods, in my case, was wrong. There are treatments for Endometriosis, but you can't get them if you don't know you have the disease. You can pick up this button down at the bottom of our page, simply copy and paste it into an html box on your own website or blog. Don't be afraid to share your own Endometriosis story. Reach out and help a woman in need of being helped. Please visit http://www.endo-resolved.com for more information on symptoms and treatments.

Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup W/Lime

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This recipe is gluten free, fructose free, and vegan

Since discovering my fructose malabsorption 6 months ago, I've had a very hard time in the kitchen. I have my familiar meals that I make like a broken record, but as our taste buds become immune to them and my belly begs for more, I think I'm finally comfortable enough with my food intolerances to break out of my shell and start experimenting with taste and texture again.

One of my favorite soups of all time, is a mulligatawny. I used to make it so much that I probably could have made it in my sleep. The unique flavor was hypnotizing. Have you ever had a good mulligatawny? Because if you have, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Its been a year or longer since I've had a bowl. Today, as the craving came over me, I went over the list of ingredients in my head, and of course, to my dismay, 3/4 of them contain fructose.

Fructose malabsorption is tricky. It effects everyone differently. There is a long list of "maybe" foods, that we all individually have to try out in order to know if we can tolerate it or not. For me, since I've been testing my maybe's for half a year now, I've got a good idea of what my NO list is. All of the fructose free recipes that I'll post here on my blog, contain what I've found to be safe for me. I wouldn't consider my case mild, one bite of something on my no list will take me out of the game for well over 24 hours, but don't take my word for what you can and cannot have. For me, table sugar is ok. For you, it might not be. Please keep that in mind? Proceed with caution *wink*...

Oh, but what I was saying though! I wanted to get as close to the taste of a mulligatawny as possible. I knew that whatever soup I made wouldn't quite compare. I hadn't had the real thing in so long though, that maybe whatever the differences were, they might not matter?

Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup W/Lime

-4 cups homemade broth (making your own broth is essential, for somebody with fructose malabsorption. box'd and canned broths contain onion, and onion is an enemy for a lot of us)
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-8 carrots, peeled and chopped
-2 large sweet potatoes (or 3 small), baked in an oven at 375 for 1 hour
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon coriander
-pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
-1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
-sprinkle of sugar
-juice of 1 lime

-Bake sweet potatoes.
-Heat your broth and oil in a large pot.
-While your broth is warming, peel and cut carrots.
-Blend your raw carrots and sweet potatoes together in a blender. Use a measuring cup or ladle to scoop out some of your warmed broth, to use as the liquid for your mixing. I blended all of my ingredients in two batches, so not to overwhelm my blender.
-Pour your puree into the pot with your broth. Heat over Low/Medium heat. Stir constantly.
-Slowly add all of your spices, but wait on the sugar and lime.
-Cook cook cook, stir stir stir.
-After you've heated your soup long enough for you to think its done, remove it from the heat, juice your lime over the pot, sprinkle in a pinch or two of sugar, stir stir stir, and then you're done!
-I served my soup with homemade cornbread (Pamela's gluten free), and it was a big hit.

Ok so maybe our picky 3 year old was a little reluctant to gobble it up- the flavors were a lot more vibrant than what shes used to. We held off on giving her the cornbread, to ensure that she ate her veggies (come on, its orange!). The more spoonfuls she had, the more bites of cornbread she got for dipping. It all worked out in the end.

I liked to break off little bits of the cornbread and set it on top of a full spoonful. Yum yum yum.

Christopher ate a bowl and a half. I only managed to get through half a bowl, and couldn't even finish my bread. It was just too filling for this Mama. And we've got probably a bowl and half leftover for tomorrow. That's enough for both me and Eleanore to eat it for lunch, but considering how rough it was for her tonight, I probably won't make her try it again tomorrow, haha.

And this guy... he got off easy. He ate quite a bit of soup actually, more than I expected, but then the "my teeth hurt!" fussing started up (come on teeth, give us all a break!), and somehow (ahem, Mama), he got his hands on a frozen waffle. Chomp chomp.

-We make big batches of homemade broth, and then freeze them in muffin tins and ice trays. After they're frozen, we put them in large labeled zip lock bags, that way when we need broth for a recipe, no matter what the amount, we always have some on hand.

-Having a good blender or food processor when cooking from scratch is a big deal. I don't know about you, but I couldn't go a day without my Vita Mix. If you're new to the no-fructose game, get your hands on something that can blend with the speed of wind 10.

On My Mind...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This morning I was visiting Alita over at Da Mainiacs, and she had written a calm and lovely post that I thought might be nice to join in on. See I had woken up earlier today with a little bit of what I'd like to call a Tylenol Pm hangover. I haven't taken the stuff in almost 2 years, and it seemed to hit me quite hard. Today I'm milking my coffee for all its worth, and dragging along trying to get by with what little energy I have...

Outside my window... its raining. There are puddles in the streets, and the dead grass is slowly coming to life. The kids are of course upset, because even though there has been background noise with the words "puddle stomping" popping up on occasion, the air is still too cold for rain boot play dates. If the rain stops, I'll try to release them into the open garage for some quality time with the big plastic play house, but for the most part, it looks like they'll be staying inside all day long, again. And this does not make for happy babies.

I am thinking... about what I'd like to accomplish today. How I should maybe make a to do list, but whenever I do, I get easily overwhelmed by it, and end up doing none of the things that I had wished I would have done.

I am thankful for... my husband leaving me with over half of a french press of coffee in it. Typically I drink only half a mug, more milk than coffee, but today I'm going to be alternating cups of water with cups of Joe, just like I would in my younger days.

I am wearing... pajamas. Blue fleece pants covered in snowflakes, and a plain heather grey Air Force shirt. I might get up and put on my yoga pants, to help me feel more human, but that probably won't happen until I take another trip up the stairs, in an hour or more. I do need to go up there to help Eleanore make her bed, and get the kids dressed, but- just one more sip of coffee.

I am remembering... last spring. All of the day trips that we'd take down the street to the "big puddle" by the park. The days before Charlie could walk, the days before Charlie could talk, the days when he'd just happily sit in the stroller and absorb his surroundings. This year will we need to buy him little rain boots of his very own? Hes not that good at walking yet, and I doubt there is a boot out there that will fit him. I think he'll have to wait until next spring for his first pair. Patience, little Charlie, patience.

I am creating... a life. Every day I feel a kick or two more than I felt the day before. In a week, next Monday, we'll be able to find out the gender, if the bean cooperates. Last night was the first night I setup and slept with my pregnancy nest. A series of 4 pillows, placed in very specific locations all around my body, to help with my discomforts.

I am going... to get up and do housework at some point today. The kitchen doesn't clean itself, and the toys don't put themselves away. Eleanore does a good job of putting away the crayons and books, but all of the little things that get scattered from the toy box to the dining room table, won't sprout legs and walk themselves back to their bins.

I am reading... The Time Travelers Wife. But I'm not doing a very good job at it. I started it while I was at the doctors a little over a week ago, but haven't opened it up since. Its due back at the library in a week, so I better get to turning the pages. Today is a good day for that. We'll see. I'll set it out here on the printer so that I'm more likely to see it as the day goes on.

I am hoping... that whatever it is that managed to sneak its awful self into my tummy the other day, was a one time occurrence. A surprise gluten attack not only takes away from me, but it takes away from my family. It leaves me useless. Thank goodness I have a loving husband who understands not only what I need when it happens, but how to go about it without making me feel guilty. From the moment he got home last night, he took care of the kids without any questioning, and let me rest all night. He didn't ask a single thing of me.

On my mind... love. Friday is mine and Christopher's 4 year wedding anniversary. Neither of us have any plans. No little cards or gifts, no special meals or desserts to eat, no real plans for celebration at all. What could I possibly do to show him how much I appreciate and need him?

Noticing that... my coffee has gone cold while writing this.

Pondering these words... "I love you". See, still stuck on the love thing.

From the kitchen... I can hear the stove calling my name. I ignored it all day yesterday, while I layed on the couch in all of my wheat-toxic suffering. I should bake something today. Muffins, maybe? Or maybe a nice casserole for dinner?

Around the house... we play. This morning an empty toy bin was a train. First Eleanore sat in it, scooting herself along, while Charlie held onto the back and moved forward with her. And then it was his turn to sit in the bin, while Eleanore slid him around on the hard wood floors.

One of my favorite things... is the ocean. A few weeks ago I thought it would be fun to take a road trip, so I asked my friend how far away it was. "7 hours", she replied, after doing a quick google search on her netbook. Seven, hours? Well scratch that then. I can't imagine being stuck in the van for that long, for anything. But the sound of crashing waves, and sand between all of our toes, and seashells! Is seven hours really that far?

A few plans for the rest of the week... are undecided. I've learned to stop making plans. At this point in my pregnancy, my day to day is never predictable. The only plans we have, are to have fun, enjoy our time together, and keep our sanity. Ok that and I really need to make a WIC appointment.

A picture that I would like to share...

The other day, after visiting the largest rattlesnake roundup in the world (yes, you read that correctly), we took a dusty walk through a mosquito infested campground to a carnival. There, at the end of our journey, we found what can only be described by Eleanore as- the merry go round treasure. This was both Eleanore and Charlie's first time going on a ride, and the magic was obvious. Tears were shed when it was time to get off, but promises to ride another time were made and set in stone.

Dress Up

Monday, March 15, 2010

The other morning while I was making oatmeal in the kitchen, Eleanore and Charlie were falling into hysterics.

"Whats so funny?", I shouted out at them, curious as to what could possibly cause such a reaction from the two of them so early.

And then into the dining room slides Eleanore, still dressed in pajamas with slippery footed socks on, wearing my bra.

"Oh my gosh", was all I managed to say before the laughter started tickling my tummy. I couldn't find any words after that, I just picked up my camera, kinda scooted her towards a white wall, Charlie crawling after, and snapped twenty or more pictures of her wearing my Cacique Balconette.

"Mommy I wear your boobie bra!", she giggled, over and over again, as if what she was saying were funnier than the actual act of child bra dress up itself.

If she only knew how precious she is, she'd have the entire world under her spell.

GF Thin Mint Style Cookies

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I was a Girl Scout once. Not for very long, just a couple of years, and I didn't earn very many badges, but I was proud of my title, and I held my head high while I wore my uniform. My parents couldn't afford the "dues" that came along with the activities and meetings, and my troop leaders were constantly sending me home with notes, or calling my house asking when I was going to pay for my membership. I'm almost positive this had an impact on how I was treated at troop gatherings, but- that's not what this post is about.

This post, is about the cookies.

Those delicious seasonal treats sure don't come with a gluten free option, do they? The other day my friend Marie and I were coming out of Hastings, and a local Abilene troop was setup outside with their boxes piled on a couple of grey fold out tables. I turned my head the other way, so not to make eye contact with the girls, not to get asked if I wanted to buy any of their heavenly yet overpriced cookies, and not to see them sitting there in all of their colorful boxed up beauty. Whether I saw them or not though, they were still there, and I knew it.

The next day, I couldn't take it anymore. I had to have them. Had to. Must. Gimme. "I waaaaant them", I whined across the room to my husband, who I'm sure had blocked me out 10 minutes before I even opened my mouth. I'm pregnant. When I want something, I want it. My brain focuses in on it, and I can't think about anything else. I've tried explaining this to Christopher, but there is no way he could ever understand the power of a pregnancy craving. Mama's, you know exactly what I'm talking about, right? Even you non-mama's: all ladies, can probably relate. We've all had cravings during that time of the month. Pregnancy cravings are very similar, only, stronger, and more... brain washing. Mind controlling thoughts of food, really.

The next day, I sat down at the computer, browsed around a couple of websites and blogs, but being as impatient as I was, I couldn't just sit there when I knew I could be licking gooey batter off of my fingers, and soon be crunching down on minty bits of chocolate between my front teeth. I ran into the kitchen (no, I literally ran), put on my cupcake themed apron, and got started before I even knew what ingredients I had pulled out and set on top of the freshly cleaned kitchen counter.

I'm doing this, I demanded of myself.

Below, you will find the recipe that I used. There is always room for improvement (although I'd say that these turned out absolutely perfect, and I'm not going to change a single thing the next time I make them, which will be every year at Girl Scout cookie season), and feel free to use your own variation of ingredients. I use Earth Balance, you can use butter. I use soy milk, you can use cows. Make it yours :)

GF Thin Mint Style Cookies

-1 cup Earth Balance, set on the counter until brought to room temperature
-1 cup powdered sugar (for this I simply blended regular table sugar up in my vita mix)
-3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
-1 egg, set on the counter and brought to room temperature before cracking
-Splash soy milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (this is optional in the wafer part of the cookie)
-2 cups Pamela's Baking Mix

-1 bag semisweet chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life, as always)
-1 teaspoon peppermint extract

-Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
-Cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and peppermint. Almost like you're making frosting.
-Add egg, and cocoa. Continue creaming. Make it fluffy.
-Add a splash of soy milk. Keep blending.
-Stir in flour with wooden spoon. You want your dough to hold together. Adjust your flour/milk as needed- you don't want it crumbly, yet you don't want it so sticky that you're unable to handle it.

-Chill dough, until nice and cool. I left mine in overnight, but I probably didn't need to.

-Use a teaspoon to scoop out little balls of dough, and place them on parchment paper.
-With your fingertips, simply smush down the balls, and round out the edges. They're going to look sloppy, but after they're covered in chocolate, it won't matter.
-Bake for 9-10 minutes, no longer. 9 minutes for a chewy cookie, 10 minutes for a sort of crisp cookie.
-When the oven timer goes off, pull these out right away, and without skipping a beat, get them off the paper using a spatula, and onto your cooling rack. They should slide right off.
-After all of your wafers have been baked and cooled, its time to make the chocolate dipping sauce.

-Clear some space in your fridge.
-Setup sheets of wax paper on cookie sheets. You're going to store your cookies in the fridge to harden after they've been dipped.
-Melt your chocolate chips and peppermint extract, either in the microwave, or in a double boiler.
-Drop one cookie at a time, into your melted chocolate. Make sure your chocolate isn't burning hot when you do this, because you're going to reach in with your fingers to flip it.
-After your cookie is fully coated in melted chocolate, pick it up carefully, so not to get chocolate everywhere, and with the edge of a fork, scrape off as much of the chocolate as possible, leaving just a thin later.
-Gently set it down on the wax paper. Do the next.
-When your cookie sheet is full of melty coated yumminess, move it to the fridge.

Whoa. You've just made some really good, thin mint style cookies, that are gluten free!

*Note: The chocolate wafers alone are super yummy, and perfect for the little ones. My 1 year old loves them. They'd probably make great animal cookies if you've got the cutters and the patience to use a rolling pin :)

I'd love to hear comments on how these turn out after being made in your kitchen. If you make these, won't you please come back and share?