Home Chapter One Our Vegan Lifestyle Likes Comment-Free

From The Shade Of A Friends Fence

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Last night we went over to a friends house to let our kids run through their sprinkler. Our kids never want to run through our sprinkler, although after running through theirs Eleanore has requested that we pull ours out tonight, but if you take them over to somebody elses house to run and jump and play through their sprinkler- yeah well, theirs is always going to be wayy more fun, right?

So we filled our hungry bellies up with fresh fruits before we left the house, piled into our scorching hot bbq of a van, and headed down the street so that the babies could play in the water, while the mama's and papa's layed in the shade.

It was a little unfair, for Evelyn, who these days is determined to do everything that her older brother and sister do. Unfortunately, since she can't walk yet, and since she gets distracted by the delicious stomach puncturing dead grass along the way, we kind of had to hold her captive on the blanket with us.

But look at that smile. How bad can it be?

Charlie spent a lot of time going back and forth between the 3 sprinklers spigits, and his own-personal-but-really-just-borrowed man cave.

And when he wasn't hanging out in his no girls allowed play house, he was spying on the neighbors through the fence behind us, who were also outside playing in water, and by the smell of it, possibly grilling. ...aaaand they had a puppy, so- .

Eleanore is very particular when it comes to temperature and texture. The host (aka Jen) had made some bananas-dipped-in-honey freezer pops before we came, and Eleanore surprised us all by digging in. To get her to eat something like this at home would have been an awful battle of will not worth fightingfor. But here at her friends house, where she was distracted with summertime sunshine and squishy orange balls that soak up water, her mind was opened up to the possibility of eating something other than plain fruit. Something a little bit more fun. And that was pretty cool. Theres no other way to say it.

I'm going to take that as a step in the right direction for our fiesty four year old, be real when it comes to not expecting for it to happen again, tuck it away in my lint filled pocket, and hope to find it again on a rainy day. Or maybe even another sunny day.

Soon the bananas went mushy though, the sprinkler lost its thrill, and tiredness turned into whining turned into tantrums turned into ok-its-time-to-go-home. So we stood up, shook the sweat off of our foreheads, stripped off the wet clothes in the driveway, and went home for bowls filled with pineapple, plates of dates, a tv playing sesame street, and a story and then to bed.

An afternoon well documented.

Washin' Ye Old Car

Monday, July 25, 2011

We've all been in a funk lately. Maybe its the 50 or more days in a row of temperatures over 100 degrees, keeping us locked up inside the house begging for attention from a cloudy cool day- or maybe its the lack of adventure, or the simple diet, or the fact that we know that we're leaving this base soon but can't control the clock or the calander... whatever it is, things over here have kinda been sucking.

So to try to snap ourselves out of it, last night when the sun was on its way to the lower part of the sky, we armed ourselves with the hose, and braved the roaring heat.

We went out to give the Night Fury a bath.

No silly, Evelyn isn't the Night Fury, I think her dragon name would probably be something more along the lines of snow fury, because look at that blinding white tooshie. ...or maybe that would be more of an Eskimo name? I should just start calling her Eskimo. Our van is the Night Fury.

We've had our van since last November, and haven't washed it once. Dad, if you're reading this, I know the look you're giving the screen. It was long overdue for a scrub.

So the Eskimo was sort of stuck in her igloo while everyone else got to go off and have fun. You'd think that splashing around in a half an inch of water would be fun, but- pfffft, think again.

I had to sit beside her and entertain her. The moment I stopped talking or splashing the water around with my fingertips (in an attempt to show her that it really wasn't so bad), she'd try to escape.

If the concrete wasn't so hot, and if she wasn't such a garbage mouth, I'd be more than happy to set her free and let her scrape up those beautiful pudgy knees of hers on the driveway, but- lets just play it safe in our plastic blow up pool for now, kay baby?

Charlie stripped down and geared up to do the washing.

And as soon as the sun went down behind the roof of the house at the end of Indiana street, we celebrated the shade with suds and rinsing water. We being them.

Hey wait a minute? ...whered the baby go?

Get the dang shoe out of your mouth! Would you stop it already?!

...she'll literally beaver tooth that pretty pink sandal down to be nothing more than a pile of fluffy rubber confetti, if we don't take it away.

But the best part of the night, was probably when Eleanore got her Daddy good, right smack dab in the face with the hose. Well, bouncing off of her hand, but- I have a feeling that she put quite a bit of thought into that one.

*high five Miss Eleanore*

And an hour or two later, when we were picking all of our soggy clothes off of the settling pavement, Christopher put his hat on my head, and said "you've been taking pictures this whole time, now its time for you to be in a picture", and away he clicked.

Its far from being my best, but 10 years from now I won't care. I'll just want to remember the hot summer night that we spent washing our wheeled dragon, while the eskimo kept trying to eat flip flops, and the kids took turn spraying Daddy in the face with hose water.

Now lets go find a dusty road to drive down, so that we can do it all over again.

Whats For Breakfast

Friday, July 22, 2011

I know that a lot of people wonder what we eat, when I tell them that we're raw vegans. "So like... what do you have for breakfast then?", they usually ask. Nobody asks about lunch or dinner, which are actually our more complicated meals, and have been known to stress me out way more than they should (because seriously, what the heck am I going to send my child to school with?), they all want to know about breakfast.

We eat fruit.

Breakfast = fruit, always. No nuts, no grains, no fats, no veggies (unless we're stuffing some celery or kale into a green smoothie). Just fruits.

And then sometimes comes the "but where do you get your protein?" question, followed by "but aren't you still hungry?" question, and- lets just put an end to this right here and right now, even-though-I-know-I'm-still-totally-going-to-get-asked-and-thats-okay... we eat more than enough, and very often, to get filled up on all of the healthy goodness that we need. We eat a ton. Its all there. And whats not, we make up for in vitamins. Trust me? I know what I'm doing.

Lots, and lots, and lots- of fruit. Sometimes the kids eat it, sometimes they don't. Every morning I juice 10-14 navel oranges- Charlie drinks his in his rocket ship sippy, Elie drinks hers from a cup with straw- and then load up their plates of sliced fruit pieces.

Every morning differs, with the exception of bananas. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but- bananas are our biggest staple. They're like our bread. And dates are like our butter (we just ordered 20 pounds from a farm in california, and they are beautiful!).

Eleanore doesn't like mango or kiwi. And if she doesn't, then Charlie doesn't, even though he really does. So sometimes we have picked apart plates left with soggy messes of squarshed up colors. Sometimes the leftovers get tossed into the trash, but usually they end up in the vita mix, going whirly whirl right into a big jar of Christopher's mid morning snack.

And while its a struggle, sometimes, to eat the same things over and over again- its better than the way that we were eating before (remember biscuits and gravy? I do miss that). The kids are all happy, and healthy. And even if they weren't happy, because they're kids and sometimes they're just, not- they're healthy. And through being healthy, they'll find happiness anyways. At least I have.

Plus, look at Miss Elie up there. She looks like shes doing just fine :)

He Didn't Want Cake This Year?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Christopher specifically requested a large banana split for his birthday. Topped with coconut.

Ask, my dear, and ye shall receive.

The ice cream was made from frozen bananas, blended in the vita mix in 3 separate batches. He wanted neapolitan. I made the strawberry by soaking dried strawberries for 20 minutes, and then blending with the frozen bananas. I split open 2 vanilla beans and added to the frozen B's for the white ice cream. And chocolate with a dash of agave added to frozen bananas for the chocolate. I topped it all off with a homemade raw vegan chocolate sauce (cocoa powder, agave, water), "caramel" date sauce, coconut sprinkles, and of course- what would a banana split be, without splits of banana?

...Happy 27th birthday Christopher!! Sucks that you had to work for 3 hours, but it was pretty awesome geeking out to the Fast and the Furious with you. The Night Fury could obviously take any of those cars.

Also, don't ever forget the really great text message that your Dad sent to you. Because I know how much it really meant to you.

By The Way

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sooo... Eleanore rides a bike now.

Yep. That happened.

Santa brought her a bike for Christmas, but rather than being excited about the tassels dangling off of the handlebars, or the way cool princess helmet lying on the cement next to it- she was pissed that she didn't get an ATV like her brother.

Eleanore is a tomboy. And thats okay.

But sorry kid- you're not getting out of learning how to ride a bike.

So she huffed and she puffed. For days and days and days.

"Its tooo harrrrd!", she'd whine. The minute she had to use any amount of muscle to make the wheels start turning, immediate tantrums echoed off of each and every house on Indiana St, and there she'd sit, almost as if she were trying to move a mountain, refusing to go.

I admit, I walked away from it. I couldn't stand it. You don't want to learn how to ride a bike?? Fine.

But then one day Christopher, in all of his but-shes-my-baby-girl determination (really, their bond is day compared to mine and hers night), stood beside her for what seemed like a year, but was probably only about an hour, and he taught her.

Kind of like the time my dad taught me.
Even though I don't remember it.
Thats how I imagine maybe it was.
And for that I love that I was too mad to stand there, and that I had to walk away. They'll always have that all to themselves.

Anyways. That was a few months ago, that Eleanore learned how to pedal. And since shes starting school in a month, and we plan on riding to and from every single morning (since its summer year round here in the cactus patch), we have to practice.

Tonight after a delicious dinner of steamed greens (broccoli and zucchini) dipped in sweet potato hummus (mock, of course, since we don't do beans- zucchini as a replacement), we all went for a walk. We waited until it had cooled down enough for our skin to not drip off of our bodies (I can't even count how many days consecutive days of hundred degree temperatures we've had), and away we went.

See, look at her go!

She still can't quite do hills. Shes afraid to go down the down, and shes too lazy to push herself up the up, but all of the in between is a breeze. She speeds ahead and then has to stop and wait for the rest of the family to catch up. It sometimes takes forever when the 2 year old baby brother toddles along, picking up every stick and rock and dead rodent skull that I specifically shouted at him not to touch.

Also, kids, please stop finding every pile of wild animal crap possible. Please? K thanks.

Have I ever mentioned how flexible the baby is? We pulled over and parked in the shade of a big tree to let the kids play, and while the older two chased each other and played wizards, "zack"ing each other (ya know, like "zap!", only- they don't know what the heck they're saying?) Miss babykins grabbed onto her toes and aired out her diaper.

...really, honey?

I ask him to take a take a picture with me, and thats the face I get.

Oh well, it is his birthday tomorrow (27!). He can kind of do whatever the heck he wants.

And later on- Charlie layed on the ground and Daddy walked on.

Theres this area of housing where the kids absolutely have to balance on the bricks. They think they were built just for them, which they were, and drop everything to walk along them like circus elephants on tight ropes.

Eleanore couldn't do it this time, because she had her bike along, so- I'm sure you can imagine the epic meltdown that took place in the middle of Virgina St.

She got over it pretty quickly though, as soon as we came across a wish flower growing next to the sidewalk. She stopped pushing her bike (which at this point she refused to ride, and would only push because I had again walked away from it when she abandoned it in the street, and told her that another little girl could come along and take it if she didn't want it anymore), crouched down by her tire, and blew all of the fairies away into wish land.

You know what her wish was?

Well as we rounded the corner to Indiana St again, she shouts "Mom!!! My wish came true!!!"

Really? Did you wish for the neighbor to finally get his dog to stop barking? Becaaaauuuse-

"I wished that we'd be home soon, because I'm soooo tired and I don't want to ride my bike anymore *insert over dramatic heavy breathing and exhaustion here*, and I just want to go home and get in my bed, AND LOOK! WE'RE HOME!".

Awww. Yes Elie. Your wish flower fairies carried you all the way down the block, and home to our street. Now we can go into our house (after you push your bike up the driveway all by yourself like a big girl), get in your cool down bath, listen to your story, and cozy up with your Hello Kitty bedsheets and pillows, and go to sleep.

...because Eleanore, our baby girl who I swear was only 6 pounds and twelve ounces just yesterday, rides a bike now :)

An outtake

Monday, July 11, 2011

In between the bad moments, are the good.

While fumbling the camera around down on the playmat- puffy eyes, messy hair, little sleep- to capture another one of the baby's many magical moments ...a boo boo picture turned into my new favorite.

I need to be in more pictures with my babies.

End of story.

Learning To Live With This

Friday, July 8, 2011

So its not a hobby of mine, to go around getting in the face of misfortunate bugs or anything, but- I thought that this picture was kind of appropriate. This is sort of how I feel right now. Like a fly trapped in a water glass.

Even just sitting here with my laptop opened up on the scratched up dining room table, my fingers tapping on the dusty keys- things just feel different. They are different. This feels foreign.

A year ago, the day that Christopher put on his first set of Sergeant stripes, I was sitting on the couch in the living room, and I had what can only be described as a stroke. It wasn't an actual stroke, by the way, but- thats what it felt like. I went straight to the ER in an ambulance, keep in mind I was 33 weeks pregnant and thought my baby and I were about to die, and it was there that I was misdiagnosed with "Bell's Palsy". Now, I knew that was wrong from the moment the bored ER doctor let the words come out of his mouth- this case is no fun, this lady looks just fine to me, send me someone else to poke at- because it was so much more than just a bit of facial paralysis. But I was so traumatized from the event, that I didn't put up a fight, rolled with the punches, and went home soaked in sweat, and my own urine. (You can read about that here).

364 days later, about a week ago, I was standing in the kitchen peeling sweet potatoes- Charlie sitting on the counter to my left, Evelyn sitting in her high chair to my right, Eleanore dancing and singing (or maybe complaining of hunger) behind me. And I started to feel weird. A couple days before, I had kind of blacked out while driving. I tried to brush it off as no big deal, considering my never ending symptoms that I've been having ever since the big attack a year ago, but really- in the back of my mind I knew something was up.

So I'm in the kitchen peeling sweet potatoes, and I start to feel weird. I said to Eleanore "Elie get Mommy her phone, right now sweetie". She must have sensed the urgency in my voice (which normally doesn't mean crap to her), because she ran to fetch it faster than a dog runs to catch a frisbee. If only I could get her to do that all the time. I texted my husband that something strange had just happened. I had felt that awful tar-like feeling again, the same feeling that I had felt a year ago. Like somebody was slowly pouring a bucket of invisible thick dark goo over my head. I felt it creep over the left side of my face, followed by the rest of that half of my body. It had reversed pretty quickly, after only a few seconds, but I knew something wasn't right.

Christopher called me right away, he must not have been too busy at work if he was able to just stop what he was doing and call, but in between the time of my texting and his calling- Eleanore had somehow gotten herself stuck in the glue trap by the back door (seriously, child?), and I had to go peel her out of spider legs and beetle butts.

When everyone was rescued (except for the defeated bugs who had dared sneak in through the back door), I went back to making dinner, and returned Christopher's call. As I was trying to explain to him what I had previously been feeling, my brain paused. It skipped a beat. My words were taken from me mid sentence, followed by a long moment of silence, followed by my repeating the same thing that I had already said, not knowing why I said it or what I was going to say next. And then it happened again. My words cut off where they were cut off just a minute before, followed by a long pause of silence, and then ...I was frozen.

I couldn't move. I couldn't think. I couldn't... anything.

I was like a floating head.

I couldn't feel my body. I couldn't feel my brain. My soul. Nothing.

So I started fighting it. All that I was thinking was "I can't talk". Three words was all that my brain could pull together. Out of everything going on around me, and everything going on inside of me, those three words seemed to be the only thing that existed in the anywhere. I thought them over and over again, not understanding their meaning or why I was thinking them. But I fought so hard, to think that one thought, that eventually it came out of my mouth.

"IIIIIIIIIIIIIII... ccaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnn'ttt ...taaaaaalk".

It sounded horrific when it did, my voice was lowered and my words very slurred, but- I had said it.

I'm having a stroke, I thought, after hearing my voice. And even though I was starting to use my brain to think of something other than the 3 words "I can't talk", my mouth was still stuck on my previous statement. My mouth, which now had a mind of its own I guess, repeated it over and over again, still in slow motion, and still sounding like it was being said by someone else entirely.

Christopher must have been having a similar experience, because he shouted "I'm on my way, I'm on my way, I'm on my way".

Have you noticed how in the movie Speed, Sandra Bullock says half of her lines twice? Aaaanyways...

I started realizing what was happening around me again. My speech and movement were gone, I was still a floating head, but- at least this floating head could think!

And when I had the gift of thought back- I immediately remembered my babies.
I was surrounded by terrified babies.

Charlie still on the counter beside me, covering his eyes. What did I look like? Was it my voice that was scaring him? It was probably my sobbing. Wait- I was sobbing? Why? Oh right, because I was mad! I was mad, and I was scared. But more than being scared, I was mad. The moment I remembered my babies, but before I could turn my body to look at them, I got so angry at whoever it was or wasn't that poured this awful bucket of invisible tar on me, that I wanted to scream. But because my vocal chords had taken a vacation to an old folks home, the only thing that I was able to do, was cry. So I cried. And I cried a lot. And loudly.

Evelyn cried because I was crying. So then Charlie started crying.

But my strong girl Eleanore, who only fake cried to be a cool kid in the club, asked "Mommy are you okay? Whats happening?". What a little adult she is sometimes.

And so I continued to fight it. And I found that strength. And I turned my body to look at her, standing there clutching the door to the refrigerator with her white knuckled fingers, and I said "don't be afraid, sweetie". I said it! I had turned my body, and I had said it! It came out slurred, and in a voice other than my own, but- ...and of course she was still afraid. They all were. And so was I.

The tar started drying up though, and within the next minute, my speech had returned. I reassured them all that I was fine, even though I knew I wasn't, and then- "Distract them!", I thought. I instant Netflix'd The Land Before Time 398, they raced to the couch to watch it, and as soon as they were entranced in Little Foot, Sarah, and all of the "yep yep yep"'s that the tv could throw at them- I broke down.

What had just happened to me? No really. What the fuck had just happened to me?

Next thing I know, Christopher is coming towards me, picking me up and helping me walk into the kitchen, and then holding me tightly and whispering in a calm voice not to talk. ...I had lost my speech and movement again.

I cried into his shirt. I soaked it with my snot. And every time I'd try to say whatever thought that I wanted so badly to let out, he reminded me that it was just me and him, and I could say it later.

God, I love you Christopher.

It all lasted about 45 minutes. I was exhausted afterwards. And desperate. Not for any answers, or normalcy, but- for my husband not to leave me. As long as he was there, I could do it. And- please don't leave me alone with these babies again. Don't make them go through that again.

Later on that night, we realized that it had been exactly a year to the day, since my last attack, and joked around how maybe it was a yearly occurrence that we could prepare for and throw a party for. I was willing to hang up streamers even! But- the next morning our joking was stomped out with seriousness when it happened again. This time so badly that I was stuck lying flat on the couch with drool pouring out of my mouth, unable to even blink. Couldn't speak a word, couldn't think a thought... just, couldn't.

And it lasted for 7 hours. Seven, long, exhausting hours. I went in and out of my wide awake coma. We went to the ER, and in between attacks I tried to tell them that I was having a hemiplegic migraine, not that they even knew what that was, but I looked fine to them, so I could tell they really didn't give a crap. The check in nurse sent the nurse practitioner in to see me and to send me home, but my attack returned just in time for her to see me stroking out (thats what we call it now. Ya know, kinda like rocking out, only, stroke style and way awesomer?), so they gave me a room and said they'd need to do a cat scan (which they ended up not doing). 3 hours later they sent me home doped up on muscle relaxers and anti anxiety meds. Fine, I'll take it. By the time I left I was so worn out I don't think I even knew my own name. The things that happened in the next few hours I thought I had dreamt. Talking on the phone to my best friend, watching Harry Potter- I thought I was dreaming. And the kicker- the drugs didn't even work. They just made it so that I didn't care when I had my next attack. I didn't even know I had had one, until my husband told me.

And now I stroke out every day. Multiple times a day. It just, happens.

Its not as bad as that 7 hour spell where Chris was wiping the snot off of my face and telling me how to breathe since I had managed to completely forget how lungs work, but- everyday I feel the tar, and every day my brain goes dead.

Floating head. Stroking out. The tar. Lobster claws. ...our hemiplegic migraine slang. Lets review, shall we?

Floating head: when I can't feel my body.

Stroking out: when I lose my speech and sound like a drunk old man.

The tar: that awesome sensation of being hit over the head with a bucket of thick hot molasses.

Lobster claw: what my arms and hands do when they go paralyzed.

I'm not mad at you for calling me lobster claw anymore, honey. You're totally right.

I don't usually take self portraits, but I had been working on a diary of my C25k (which has since been canned as a sucky precautionary measure), and the day that I started really feeling good about my running, the day of the night that I had had my first attack in a year, I had quickly snapped a shot of me wiping away the fog from the bathroom mirror after my post workout shower.

I felt so good about myself that day. I had recently decided that I wasn't going to let my condition control my life. Or, the fear of my condition. The minor symptoms I could handle- face going numb, tingling in my body parts, dizzy spells and flashing lights, auditory hallucinations, intolerance to heat, inability to control my body temperature, etc etc. But even with all of that becoming my new normal, I was always kind of living in fear of another big attack. Maybe it was a once in a lifetime thing. Maybe I'd never have another one again? I had gone this long without having one, maybe I'd go forever.

I had been running for 2 weeks, when I got stuck with another attack. Just two weeks. Whhhy!

We've got so many things to figure out now, as a family. I have personal boulders I need to climb over, and we've got paths to explore as I conquer and fail my struggles.

So what if I stoke out at the grocery store and the cashier calls 911 because she thinks I'm dying. It might happen, and thats okay. I can't drive anymore, not off base at least. It would kind of suck to be a floating head in the car, right? I'm going to have to learn how to rely on other people. Its one of the most embarrassing things ever, to let anybody see me like that, but this is who I am and we all have to accept it. I have to prepare my kids. This is how you call 911, this is how you call the neighbor, this is what you say to anyone that tries to help me.

There are still so many beautiful things in this world. Like oranges, and snuggling on the couch with my babies, and Texas sunsets- I'm not going to let a little paralysis get me down.

I've seen several doctors in the last year. I think the count is up to 6? Nobody can help me. Nobody will help me. I've finally found a doctor who at least understands what it is, but unfortunately, he says that its over even his head (and hes a migraine specialist). Hes on the hunt for a new neurologist who can take on the case and hopefully treat me.

See. We're strong, us Hermans are.
Okay and kind of silly.
(can't let those pictures from the now non existent running diary to go to waste, even though I look totally crazy in that last one, haha).

We'll get through this. Even if I am moaning like a whale instead of speaking, and covering my husbands work shirt in snot while I cry through it.

Our Ho Hum 4th Of July

Monday, July 4, 2011

I feel really guilty, that we didn't do anything extraordinary for the 4th of July this year. Its been eating away at me all day, actually. Last year Eleanore and I spent the whole day slaving away in the kitchen, baking the most beautiful bumbleberry American pie you've ever seen. We painted my belly in homemade red white and blue paints, and announced that our baby-to-be was a girl. We waved flags and wore festive shirts. Last year was awesome.

This year we didn't even do so much as a single holiday craft.

Where have I gone?

I know I have a really good excuse. I hate my excuse though. I don't want to acknowledge it. Maybe acceptance is coming?

We were going to go to a fireworks show tonight down by the zoo, we had been talking about it for the past couple of days. But as time wore on, and we saw the exhaustion in the babies eyes (and attitudes), we had to go back on our word and make the choice to be the most awful parents that ever were, and keep the kids home. After last nights failed attempt at watching Transformers 3 at the drive in, going out on another late night adventure just didn't seem worth it. We knew it would end in tantrums and discipline before the fun ever had a chance to get started.

Earlier today, I had offered a gal here on base some of our fireworks, since you can't buy them around town (because of the burn ban), and she had been wanting to get some sparklers to do with her son. Upon going through our stash, we decided that maybe we'd like to do some too? Ignore the illegal firework trafficking and usage, please.

So thats what we did instead.

No big fireworks show.
No cutesy arts and crafts.

Just a walk around the block after dinner (which was pie, by the way- raw and vegan and grain free and all that good stuff), and then some sparklers in a jar on the back patio.

Charlie was so curious. Colorful ribbon sticks in glass jars?! ...sign him up!

Well I'll tell you whats better, son... You can set them on fire!!

This has to be my new favorite picture. Its usually so hard for me to capture Charlie's happiness in a still shot, but this time I think I nailed it. He couldn't have been more pleased by our dinky backyard spectacular.

Eleanore on the other hand, huddled herself away from the oh-so-scary-flames in the opposite direction, safe on her yard waste paper bag island. I can totally relate though, Missy, Mama's terrified of them too.

So I guess while this year could have been better, it could have been worse too, right? And if nothing else, it opened my eyes to how I need to make even more of an effort, no matter what my excuse says.