When the Nurse Calls

 

SchoolNurse

The funny things the school nurse tells me when she calls:

  • “Your son said he threw up eleven times last night.”  
  • Your son said he’s blind in one eye. He’s now failed the sight chart test three times.” – He passed the vision test at the doctor.
  • “Your son has chest pain and thinks he’s having a heart attack.” – Time for an EKG
  • “Your son is complaining of back pain that he insists has gone untreated for two years.” – Who knew?
  • “Your son has a sore throat. His throat isn’t red and he’s not congested and he has no fever. When I told him it was flu and cold season and he might have something brewing, but I didn’t see anything right now he said, ‘Well then why does it hurt? I’ve been coming here for five years and you still haven’t figured it out.'” – Truth – he has been seeing the nurse almost every day for five years… but accusing her of leaving his sore throat undiagnosed for five years? Come on!

I basically told the nurse that unless my son has a fever, is severely injured, or he poops his pants, there’s no reason to call me unless she wants to share a good laugh. My husband suggested I omit the “poop your pants part” because that’s a bit harsh and embarrassing, but I feel it accurately represents my sentiments.

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               EKG gone wild!

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New Year, New Me?

I woke up this morning, on January 1, 2019, and guess what!? I didn’t feel any different than I did yesterday on December 31, 2018. I used to buy into the fact that the start of a new year meant big changes. I envisioned everything improving for the better. I set resolutions like, “will exercise more,” “won’t sweat the small stuff,” and you know what? It lasted for about a month. Suddenly, I was back to my old habits, whether they were bad or good, and I felt dejected and annoyed with myself for not pushing harder. I’ve vowed to workout, to write, to read, to take better care of myself, to yell less, to love more, etc. The list can go on and on, but it’s irrelevant. The bottom line is that the pressure to change on one specific day because it’s supposed to be the day of resolutions isn’t a good, sustainable reason for change to occur and continue.

This year was filled with a lot of emotional downs. It really was. I started the year still in the throes of grief over losing my grandpa suddenly in August of 2017. I was continuing doing weekly, which turned to bi-weekly infusions to bolster my immune system. Can someone say perpetual swollen, black and blue stomach? I tried a torturous low-histamine diet. I went through ups and downs within my relationship. I lost my light, the brightness that shined from within me. It was noticeable to me in photos. I seemed detached from reality and from situations. I’m owning all of this. I believe my heart and mind were clouded with too much hurt, too much loss, too much emotional and physical pain, too much unknown, too much worry. I turned thirty-five and suddenly felt overwhelmed by the fact that life is passing too quickly and I wasn’t enjoying it the way I had planned. That’s a scary realization. 49179443_10103277252326942_8317705460106919936_n

Looking back, I believe I was lost in the haze of grief. I was grieving the loss of loved ones, the loss of a younger version of myself, the loss of dreams yet to be achieved, the loss of my babies being babies. Everything was changing and I couldn’t get a handle on it.

And yet, there were bright spots. Watching my middle shine on-stage as a performer, a fantastic weekend of 35th birthday celebrations, a girl’s trip to Cali with my family, seeing my oldest win a STEAM contest in school, welcoming a beautiful new cousin, forming a true bond with my niece, seeing my baby graduate pre-K, owning decisions I made and understanding that my gut never leads me in the wrong direction, enjoying the summer air and a road trip with my children, welcoming a new nephew, celebrating birthdays and holidays. All love, all light, all mine.

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In early fall, I decided my life needed a little changing. Actually, my life still needs a bit more changing, but I started slow and exactly in the place that’s weighed me down mentally for years. I’ve always had a contentious relationship with my body and food. Maybe it stems from growing up in 90s culture.  Maybe it stems from my Barbies always looking super skinny (nah just kidding about that one… I’m all for shapely Barbies, but I NEVER felt like I was less than because I didn’t look like one of my hundreds of Barbies). Whatever the reasons, I looked at food for comfort, food as the enemy, food as the answers. I was a chubby little girl and I eventually grew out of it as I blossomed into a mother in my twenties and gained a deeper understanding of my body post a traumatic health scare. But even so, I still had an unhealthy body image and an unhealthy guilt by association with whatever I ate.

So, I decided to start small and I declared that I no longer needed to eat a snack every night just because I thought I needed one. Since I was young, I looked forward to a nightly snack. It actually became a bit of an obsession in adulthood, convincing myself that if I made it through the day and held it all together or if it was a particularly stressful day, I deserved a bowl of ice cream or a brownie or whatever. Some of my friends found comfort in wine. I found comfort in a brownie sundae. It wasn’t as easy once I quit eating dairy and gluten, but I devised ways to make it work. I indulged in organic candies and convinced myself it was okay because they were “healthy.” I baked a lot more so that I would have sweets to eat.

Now, before I continue, let me caveat by saying that I wasn’t overeating and I usually limited what I ate earlier in the day so that I could have my snack. And often my snack was made with flax seeds and coconut sugar, but still. Nonetheless, I had this irrational idea that I deserved the snack and every night, I would bring something upstairs to my bed and I would eat my dessert while watching TV. Every. Single. Night. My kids started noticing and they claimed it wasn’t fair that I was allowed to eat snack in bed. It was like crack. If I didn’t have my dessert, I would get twitchy. Give me the cake, dammit! And then I would eat the cake and my belly would be full, but my conscience would feel heavy with the weight of guilt over even the slightest indulgence. Talk about body shaming and an unhealthy relationship with food.

So as I was saying, a few months ago, I decided that this was all nonsense. Why did I need a snack so badly? Why did I have to have it at night, alone in my bed? Why did I feel so guilty eating it, even though I knew the ingredients were on the healthier side? Why did I shame myself? Why did I feel bloated and heavy every morning? So I decided to stop. Cold turkey. The first week wasn’t easy. I was feeling down on my luck as it was, but not having my sugary deliciousness at night was making it worse. After the first week, it got a little easier, and by the third week, I was flying high, so freaking proud of myself for breaking a very bad habit. When my husband asked me if I wanted my snack, I scoffed at him. When my kids asked me why I was allowed to eat upstairs, I said, “Haven’t you noticed? I don’t anymore.” I made an active decision to utilize the strong willpower my Grandma always said I had, and I quit bedtime snack. I woke up feeling less bloated.

What made the change bearable was that I didn’t say, “You’re done with snack forever.” Or, “No sugar or sweets allowed.” In fact, the total opposite. I decided that I would start making the things I ate during the day more enjoyable. I will eat granola for breakfast, often after the kids leave for school, so I can sit down and enjoy it rather than rushing through in order to take care of the kids. At lunch, I’ll sometimes add some chocolate chips to a paleo bagel with almond butter if I feel like I need a chocolate fix. And sometimes for dinner, I’ll make myself a flax seed, paleo waffle and top it with a little cashew milk ice cream. All healthier ingredients, but they are treats, and I use them when and where I need them to satisfy myself in moderation and not in indulgence or excess. And to add to that, if I am out on date night and I stumble across a vegan ice cream parlor, you better believe I’m going to get one (and probably a big size too!). I’ve found the only way that I can sustain a healthier relationship with food is to use quality ingredients with health benefits that make me feel good, while satisfying my cravings, knowing full-well that I am in control of why I am eating what I am eating. And in a way, this might be my biggest personal accomplishment of 2018.

To add to that change, I decided that I needed to start exercising again. I knew I had to. Earlier in the year, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and one of the possible pain alleviators is exercise. I was afraid though. I have a neck injury that causes radiating pain in my left arm and horrible migraines. In the past, even the smallest tweak could cause a flair up. I didn’t want to do a class where I had little control or join a gym solely for an elliptical. I wanted to weight train and work my muscles. I enlisted the help of a workout guru, my cousin’s best friend (follow her on Instagram at @strong_by_siegel). She’s a total inspiration and when I turned to her for advice, she took into account all of my concerns and designed three 30-40 minute workouts for me, focusing on arms, legs, and total body. She asked me to think realistically about how often I wanted to work out versus how often I could work out and we decided together that as long as I was following the circuit of three, I could work out two to three times per week. I held myself accountable by texting her after I completed a workout. For the first few weeks, I took it slow, using the lightest weights I could find, and I assessed if there were any exercises that didn’t work for me. There are a few that I am afraid to do, so I skip them, but I am pretty comfortable with most. I exercised in my sports bra and leggings, sans shirt, so that I could really form a bond with the changes in my body week to week. It sounds cheesy maybe, but this method actually worked for me. It’s now a few months later and I feel strong, I feel fit, and I feel PROUD of myself for slowly acclimating my body to exercise in a healthy, non-pressured way, and for making myself a priority. Now, my children see me exercising and they try to join in for a few minutes. Some days the workouts are more difficult than others, even though it’s the same circuit every week, and if I am in too much pain or not feeling well, I modify without the sense of disappointment. I’m learning to LISTEN to my body. And that feels great.

It’s my hope that these healthy habits will continue in 2019, not because it’s a new year, new me, but rather because I’m setting the intention to continue listening to what my body needs and why. If I indulge in a little extra chocolate or eat two bowls of granola or skip a workout, I’m going to quiet the voice of shame that will always try to sneak back in.

I am still a delicate work-in-progress. A lot of the doubts and grief and sense of confusion of 2018 still lingers. My health problems are still here and still need addressing. None of it has disappeared just because the calendar year has changed. I will continue to own that and work to find my light in my own way, at my own speed.

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Maybe you woke up today ready to embrace a new year/new you. That’s great, but let’s ditch the term resolution. We all know that resolutions to eat better, sleep more, exercise more, eat less, always set us up to feel like we’ve let ourselves down. Instead, let’s set intentions, thinking about what we want for ourselves and what we hope to achieve, taking it day by day, step by step. This isn’t something we need to announce on Facebook or share with the world. This isn’t a race to see who can stick to it better or who can achieve more. Intentions should be personal. I have a few things I’d like to focus on this year. Some excite me, some make me nervous, some will force me to step outside of my comfort zone, and some scare the hell out of me, but all in all, I’m setting intentions to see how it all unfolds and comes together.

Cheers to a 2019 that brings you whatever it is that you need.

xoxo

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Keeping Up With the Joneses or Telling the Joneses Where to Go

It’s the week before Christmas break and I’ve been stuck at home with my little guy. He’s all coughing and feverish, but thankfully a good patient and mostly rational. He’s currently doing the whole Netflix and chill sort of thang in his bed when he’s not taking frequent naps.

In between playing board games, disinfecting the house, washing endless amounts of laundry, I’ve been plagued by a few of things that feel very much out of my control, but also well within my right to want to rage against.

I live in an area where the Joneses are alive and well and failure to keep up with them can leave one feeling dejected and much like an outsider. What’s got my back up against a wall these past few days? Talk of day camp versus sleep away camp and bar mitzvah dates doled out four years in advance. Which to tackle first? Okay, I’m just going to dive right in and hope that writing this all out will release the bubbling rage that I feel slowly rising from my toes. Всем азартным игрокам всегда открыты двери на https://vulkan-kazino-slots.com/igrovye-sloty-vulkan/. And when I’m done, I am sure it will be evident that this rage is ridiculous in the first place.

The topic of sleep away versus day camp constantly presents itself. “Is your son going?” “Did you tour camps?” “He doesn’t want to go?!” “You don’t want to send him?” “Which camps are you considering?”

Now, don’t get me wrong. The idea of sleep away camp sounds amazing. Seven weeks (didn’t it used to be eight weeks?) of knowing my kid is growing and learning independence in the country air making new friends sounds incredible. And in some ways, parenting one less kid for seven weeks also sounds amazing. Especially today when I have two kvetchy fever kids at home keeping me trapped inside my house like a prisoner to the laundry and lysol spray.

I’ve got to be honest about a few things here. I never went to sleep away camp, so it’s never been a huge personal priority for my kids to go. A teen tour, for sure (*wink wink, Eric Molbegat), but my husband, brother, and cousins all went, so it’s always been on my radar. I guess now that the time has come, I’m mixed with a strange menagerie of emotions. As much as my children drive me crazy all year, I actually really look forward to our summers together, chasing the ice cream truck (“Stop running. Stay out of the road. He’s going to run you over”), going to the beach (“You’re too far out. Come back.”), heading upstate to the bungalow colony I grew up at, road trips, and more. I like the laid back feel of summer evenings, when mystery rides can ensue without the worry of homework or responsibilities. But… when we visited sleep away camp, I fell in love. I wanted to go (to which my husband said I should go and work there – ha! – Who will take care of the kids?!).

Almost all of my friends are sending their older children off to sleep away camp this coming summer and many of them sent their kids last summer too. While there are moments when my son expresses his interest in going, he’s also really close with his day camp friends and kind of very excited for another summer at his camp. He looks forward to Sports League and riding the unicycle and the privilege that comes with being an older kid on camp campus.

In my area, amongst many of the Jews, sleep away is a MUST and if you’re not sending your kid, it’s often a feeling of, “what’s wrong with your kid that he doesn’t want to go?” (Time Out: Not everyone makes me feel this way and MORE power to the people that know what they want right from the start and know what will work for their kids and their family right from the start. In some ways, I envy your decisiveness, but my family is led by two Pisces and we’re definitely not there yet…) Throw into the mix the astronomical amount of money it costs to go to sleep away camp and we’ve kind of felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. I guess for now, I have to be grateful that my son is excited for another summer at day camp with great friends and see where we are next summer. So for all those that feel pressure to keep up with the joneses, I’m not! We’re paving our own path and seeing where it takes us….. And this summer, I may just convince the husband to take us on a BIG family road trip where we explore and attempt not to murder one another.

And now onto the other BIG issue that my husband refuses to talk about because it’s ridiculous and four years away but we live in a town where everyone talks about it and makes plans four years in advance…. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah! And the BIG fight over dates. According to our temple president, friendships have been lost and wars have been waged over the mitzvah dates. Holy hell!

We submitted our dates and were expected to know when and what we wanted fours years from now. People, I can barely make plans week to week thanks to three kids and a dog and unexpected viruses and my husband’s inconsistent work schedule. So sure, I know exactly how my introverted nine year old will want to celebrate his thirteenth birthday. Makes a whole lot of sense. I really don’t want to buy into the nonsense, but again, I live in an area where I kind of have no choice. So a date and time has been selected and maybe, just maybe in two years, I’ll have a better sense of where and what we want to do to celebrate my son becoming a man in the Jewish religion…..

Let me add to that, I really don’t want to rush away the next four years of his life because I’ve been given an arbitrary date. I come from a family of party people and my Bat Mitzvah was the party of the year – maybe the decade (thanks mom and dad), but I’m trying to pave my own way here too by attempting to evaluate what will work for my child, my family, our finances (even though I’d love an excuse to buy a party dress and dance all night long). I can totally see that for my middle son and even my little, but I have a feeling my older one will have his own plan in mind when the time comes…

I actually came to a realization this week that sort of shocked me in a way. I am not an over-scheduler. I really give the kids’ activities a lot (I mean a lot) of thought before I commit, making sure to coordinate the afternoons we need to be out of the house so that we aren’t out every evening. What I realized this week being trapped in my house and unable to take my kids to any of their activities is that in reality, I am actually over scheduled. As bummed as I am that my kids haven’t been well and we’ve had to miss our activities, I felt relief. The big ones came off the bus and hopped into the shower. We were in jammies early and we had time to do homework, unwind, play board games, and my big one and I even had quality alone time to read Harry Potter together. It was glorious. And I know so many moms in my area feel the same way, but there’s so much pressure always to be in every class and doing every activity.

Okay, I’m actually feeling a little bit better now that I’ve shared all of this. I hope this inspires you, wherever you are and whomever you are, to remember to do what feels right for YOU and to tell the Joneses where they can stick it! And if the feeling creeps up on you that you’re not keeping up, remind yourself that there are MANY of us alongside you, scrambling to figure out our own paths! Stay the course and stay happy wherever your personal journey takes you!

xoxo

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When Will It End? Where Will It End?

Today I am taking to the blog to tackle a very serious, very painful issue. All quirky joking aside. We have a VERY REAL problem ruining our nation, destroying our sense of safety. This is NOT a political post. I really don’t care if you identify as a Democrat or Republican, if you voted for Obama or you support Trump. I do not care. Let me repeat that again — I DO NOT CARE. Because this isn’t about politics. This is about pain. This is about heartbreak. This is about loss. This is about being AFRAID. Afraid AF!

Yes, we have a real gun control problem in our country. The weapons of the Constitution are not the rapid fire death machines Americans currently have access to. While people have the right to be armed, as Americans, we also have the right to feel safe. And right now, we don’t. We pretend we do to make it through the day, but we don’t.

We have a REAL problem with hate in our country. A divisive hate that needs to be admonished. But despite what everyone thinks, this hate isn’t to blame on one person. Hate has existed for centuries. And unfortunately, until we ban together for the safety of our children, hate will continue to exist. When Obama was President, I couldn’t understand how a Black man in power wouldn’t admonish fellow Black Americans from hating the police, from rioting. He never outrightly opted to quiet the nation’s anger and spread the message of love. There was no real solution to end police brutality against people of color nor was there anything done to stop the violent rioting and anger. He never united the nation on that issue. And he could have done it. I truly believe he could have done it. I wish he did.

And now we have Trump whose daughter and grandchildren are Jewish and he says he supports Israel, yet he’s doing nothing to end the anti-semitism that’s spreading far and wide in our country. Let me be clear when I say this. I spent COUNTLESS years studying the Holocaust in high school and college. Countless nights having nightmares of the atrocities I saw in books and videos. Countless mornings waking in a cold sweat because I thought my family and I were being hunted. So I speak with some authority on the topic when I say that hate cannot be disseminated by one person alone. Hitler did not destroy people and countries alone. He spoke words that had a powerful message for a people that were broken after a World War and his words resonated and with that he gained support and with that an entire clan of hate was formed and they shared his message and implemented his plan.

So what’s the answer. Part of the answer is that the people in power need to do a MUCH better job of using their power to spread kindness and acceptance and understanding. Acts of hate need to be admonished more seriously. Part of the answer is understanding that one small act of kindness can leave a lasting impact and can incite someone else to perpetuate kindness. Part of the answer is recognizing that there is a VERY strong stigma against mental health problems in this country and that needs to be addressed. If we learned anything from the countless suicides in the early part of the year, it’s that we as a nation need to give the mentally ill and the depressed the right to say that they are struggling without judgement…. I will share more thoughts on this in an upcoming blog. We need to have strong gun control laws that DO NOT allow “persons of interest” or mentally ill people to buy assault rifles. In fact, no one needs an assault rifle. If an intruder breaks into your home, a simple (ugh!) handgun would suffice, no? You definitely don’t need 100 rounds in minutes. That seems just downright ludicrous and there’s no swaying my opinion on that one.

Part of the answer, which I believe is a BIG part of the problem, is the news. The ratings. The reporting on the hate. It’s time we stop glorifying mass murderers by putting their names in bold in the paper. By highlighting their faces on the evening news. By sharing their stories. Instead, let’s share the stories of the victims. Let’s share how we can be the change. Let’s share more stories of kindness. Let’s let LOVE and KINDNESS be the big story of the week, the month, the year.

And then there’s the idea that in our country, there’s a credo that we must wait until an act of hate or an act of terror occurs before we can act. Today, my best friend mentioned that there’s a creepy guy in her neighborhood that shares anti-semitic slurs whenever he can, says threatening things, etc., but because he’s never physically assaulted anyone or destroyed anyone’s personal property, the police have no recourse to deal with him. So she said her neighbors live in fear for the one day when he does and it’s too late to stop him.

This week, we lost more young people, again to gun violence. The gun is the weapon. The person behind the gun is the problem. And it’s a problem we CAN fix if we work harder to amend the laws. It’s a problem we can fix if we teach our children kindness versus hate. It’s a problem we can fix if we understand mental health issues and help those suffering deal with their problems, their anger, their uncertainty.

We have ENOUGH scary things to worry about in this world. We shouldn’t have to worry about being murdered by gun violence. Or worse, we shouldn’t have to worry that our children will go to school or to a bar or to a concert and never return home because one enraged person, one struggling person, one hateful person decided to lash out in the worst way possible.

When I was a child, I was often afraid of being abducted. I don’t know if it’s because I watched too many TV specials or read the Milk Carton books too often, but I was always afraid someone would grab me and I would disappear. While I will admit that I still sometimes have that fear, now as a mother, my fears are MUCH bigger. And I know I am not alone in that. My friends and I always worry about our kids — are they eating enough, sleeping enough, socializing well? Do they have friends? Are they being kind? Are they wearing a helmet? Are they looking both ways? Are they being mindful of their surroundings? Do they understand stranger danger? Do they know not to stand too close to the road in case a drunk or mindless driver swerves? Do they know what to do in a fire? Do they know what to do during a lockdown procedure? Will they remember my advice? Will they be able to protect themselves? Do they know I love them? Do they forgive me for yelling?

And you know what? While many of the things on this list are the direct result of parents wearing their hearts on the outside of their bodies once their children are born, the idea that we live in fear of sending our children to school is insane! School is the one place where we should ALWAYS feel safe to send our children. I often wonder when I enter the building, now beefed up with extra security, will they one day buzz in the wrong person? Or the right person who does wrong? My best friend is afraid to take her girls to a show in a large arena because she doesn’t feel safe? When I go to the movies I wonder, where could I hide if I needed to?

The idea that we can no longer feel safe to protect ourselves let alone our children is beyond alarming. I for one am done with it. I pray that the latest shooting (which I’ve purposely avoided on the news as much as I can), will FORCE all the newly elected officials to make REAL change. To work harder to give us our sense of safety back. To make it that our grandchildren don’t have to worry about lock-down drills and what will happen if a “bad person” gets into the school. Because the thought of my four year old and my six year old and my nine year old having to hide with classmates in a closet during a drill makes me want to throw up and never let my children leave my sight.

But it’s with determination and a large sense of anxiety that we all know we cannot live in that type of fear. We need to push forward every day. We need to run our errands, go to work, go to school. Life must continue. But this MUST be a wake-up call for our country to put an end to the divisive bitterness that enables such rage and hate to exist and WORK TOGETHER to ensure the safety of our children.

So with that I leave you with the powerful message to spread kindness whenever you can, wherever you can, however you can.

xoxo

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And the baby is off to be a big boy

I’ll jump back on in a week or two to share all about our summer and where we went and who we saw and how I struggled and how the kids had the best time and on and on… I promise to take a break from momming real hard and editing essays (like in November) to update the blog with some new recipes and some new products I was totally influenced to try.

But tonight, I am putting everything aside to let the emotions flow. Because tomorrow…my baby goes to… KINDERGARTEN (Part 1). For those of you who know me, I spent the better portion of last year debating what to do for my little man. You see, he has a late November birthday and is the youngest of three, and I wasn’t quite sure if I should keep him in his grade or give him a year to learn and grow and delay his Kindergarten start.

 

Big boy all ready for his first day (he's actually really nervous and shy about it, but he's ready!).

Big boy all ready for his first day (he’s actually really nervous and shy about it, but he’s ready!).

I weighed the pros and cons. I consulted everyone and their mother (literally! I asked random grandmas at the playground). I cried. I had a few difficult conversations with my husband. I questioned myself. My thoughts were all over the place and for good reason. There were pros and cons for holding him.

Here’s how it went down.

Pediatrician – “Hold him back. Give him a year to grow. Let him be the oldest. Especially with a boy.”

Elementary Teachers – “If you can afford another year of pre-K, definitely hold him.”

My cousin, a school counselor – “Hold him back. It will be the best thing for him.”

His teachers in Pre-K – “He’s doing great, but he might benefit from another year before Kindergarten.”

The consensus amongst most people (and their mothers) was that giving a boy with a late birthday an additional year to learn and mature and grow up would only benefit him in the long run. The common thread, “No one ever regretted holding their kid back, but many have regretted pushing their kids ahead.” The pediatrician explained that everywhere outside of NY, the cut-off for entering school is September 1st, so if we lived anywhere else, my son would have to delay Kindergarten. That would be a huge age discrepancy amongst him and his peers when he starts college. And I thought to myself – do I want him being forced to read at four? Do I want him to have to sit for Regents exams when he might not be ready? Do I want him to be the last to drive? Do I want him to be the youngest in his pledge class in his fraternity? (Yes, you read that right…I am already thinking Greek!).

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What you might ask would be the cons? Well for starters, he’d have to go to a different school than his brothers. This would be the only year where he and my oldest would be together on the bus and see each other in the halls at school. So yeah, that made me cry a whole bunch. He has really nice children (and parents) in his intended grade. Was I changing the course of his life without his consent? Where would I send him? Should he repeat Pre-K someplace new or go to a private Kindergarten? What could we afford? What made sense for him?

What weighed on me in a lot of ways is that my son is smart. He’s socially with it. He can hang with the big kids and he likes more advanced shows and games because he has older brothers. But in some ways, he is still sweet and mushy and needs extra hugs and kisses from his mommy and talks about poop a whole lot and needs a little extra TLC with his grip and speech.

Orientation - M found his seat.

Orientation – M found his seat.

After more lengthy conversations with the pediatrician and a few trusted elementary school teachers as well as his Pre-K teachers, we opted for a private Kindergarten program. The program is part of a religious school, which honestly gives me a whole new set of things to be anxious about (Will he fit in? Will I fit in? Will we make friends?). Thankfully, he and I met a mommy/son due that we clicked with right away and that is totally easing my worries. And two of my very dear friends (you know who you are ladies) have been ultra supportive and have given me the room to question myself and talk about it non-stop for many, many months. And…the program is supposed to be amazing, the teacher is lovely and kind, he will have two teachers in the room for eighteen kids versus the public school twenty four to one teacher, he will get all the specials offered in public school PLUS learn more about our religion, and best of all, if I change my mind and realize that this kid is ready for first grade next year, I CAN send him straight to first grade in public school.

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First Homework – check!

He and I spoke about Kindergarten and we talked about how he would feel being one of the youngest in his grade versus one of the oldest. Of course, as the youngest of three boys, he JUMPED at the chance to say he wants to be the oldest. I know in my heart of hearts, giving him the opportunity to stand on his own two feet, to not be trailing behind his peers and his brothers, is a blessing. But that doesn’t make me question myself any less.

And it doesn’t make it any easier to send my son off to his first day of Kindergarten tomorrow. Because I still don’t know if this will truly be his ONLY first day of Kindergarten or if he will start Kindergarten (Part 2) next year in public school. All I know is that my baby isn’t in nursery school anymore and that is blowing my mind into a million pieces. So tonight, like so many moms before me, I kissed my baby goodnight (after I yelled like a lunatic at him and his brother for beating each other up), and I will wake up early tomorrow morning to put a big boy on a big bus all by himself (because apparently riding the bus on your first day is a big deal and it’s way more exciting than mommy driving you and crying at the door of your classroom!) Wish Mr. M (and his mommy) lots of luck tomorrow!  This one’s for you Mono Mono! xo

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Tick Tick Boom

Yesterday was a DAY! I mean a real DAY. Putting aside an awkward moment in the morning, my little guy and I had a fun time at a local amusement park, followed by fun at the supermarket. He and I always enjoy the food shopping together. He eats his way through the market while I shop. We managed to stay in our allotted time frame and even had time to unpack our groceries, eat lunch, and do a little school lunch prep for the remainder of the school week/year before we needed to be at elementary school to celebrate the end of the year with my third grader and his class.

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We arrived at the school with the giant bag filled with art supplies for the class project and a little gift for every child. The beginning of the party went well. The kids were happy. They welcomed my little guy. It was all fine until I casually started to rub my little guy’s head and felt a clump of something in his hair.

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Ok… Let’s backtrack for a minute. Like way back. From the beginning, although anal and certainly Type A, I was definitely the “calm” mom. My kids were the peaceful ones at a group lunch. A little exploding diaper didn’t phase me. When the little one may or may not have drank a bottle of Dimetapp, we went to the doctor and the hospital, but I wasn’t panicking. When he sliced his foot with a cheese slicer and needed lots of stitches, I was grossed out and felt weak in the knees, but I wasn’t a nervous wreck. And when he got locked in my husband’s car with the keys and the school security guards had to break into the car to retrieve him, everyone said, “You are so calm.” In my mind, I knew he would get out and for the moment, he was safe, calm, happy, and it wasn’t 90 degrees outside. So I tried not to panic. One could argue I just stayed calm so my child wouldn’t get anxious, but I think it was just my natural reaction. Some things are worth panicking over. These just seemed like the outcomes were all controllable. The doctors would monitor him for the possible overmedicating. The doctors would stitch his foot. The security guards would get him free from the car.

(Sidebar — writing all of this out, it sounds like my youngest is a serious handful. He’s really not. At least in my eyes…)

So anyway, on Saturday, I had the privilege of watching my middle guy perform as “Rooster” in his acting class’ production of Annie. He had a lot of lines and a solo in the song. Couldn’t be prouder of him as he’s overcome a speech delay to being a confident, shining star. The rule of the theater is that little kids can sit right in front of the stage on the floor. As my little guy sat nudged up against my feet, watching his older brother sing, I casually began rubbing his head. And that’s when I felt a very large lump behind his ear.  And suddenly, my calm disappeared. Maybe to the onlooker, you couldn’t tell that I was internally panicked, but when my mom saw my face after the show, she noticed. She felt the lump, my grandma felt the lump, and then my dad felt the lump. Collective agreement, “go right to the doctor.”

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I nearly threw up as we drove to the doctor’s office, the feel of the limp still lingering on my fingertips. Horrible horrible thoughts ran through my mind as I tried to act naturally and unalarmed in front of the kids. We arrived at the office, waited an hour to be seen, and I am pretty sure I aged a year within that hour. (Let’s just say I have a few extra gray hairs that weren’t there at the start of the day). The doctor felt the lump and said, “It’s definitely an enlarged lymph node.” Panic. Bile rising in my throat. Enlarged lymph node out of nowhere – no illness – family history of lymphoma and leukemia. You do the math. I was in full panic mode. The doctor sensed my sheer terror and tried her best to ensure me that an enlarged lymph node can just happen. It doesn’t have to be something serious. But we agreed to a blood test to be sure his levels were consistent and well….

…And they were. PHEW! While I may have lost a year off of my life within that hour of sheer terror, my baby was okay and it made me think of all the moms whose babies are not okay and I have to take a moment right here and now to acknowledge their bravery and strength. Take a moment to do the same. Because those moms (and dads) are heroes in my eyes.

Fast forward to yesterday. My hand once again casually runs through his hair, gently letting my fingers roll over the lump to make sure it hadn’t grown in shape or size and that’s when I felt the scabby feeling in his hair. I moved his hair aside gently and noticed a flakey part of his skin. I thought maybe eczema and continued to run my fingers through is hair to see if there were any other spots. And lo and behold, another lump. But this one felt hard. I parted his hair and saw what looked like a clump of ingrown hairs, or a small cyst that I’ve often found on my aging Shih Tzu pup. And once again, I wanted to throw up.

Now some of you might stop me right here and say, “Maybe you should stop casually rubbing his head.” And maybe you’re right. This week it seems to be leading up to no good. However, his hair is so soft and his face is so squishy, I just can’t help myself.

I quickly gathered my two children, rushed out of the party, grabbed my third from his class and dashed out of the school building with the intention of going straight to the doctor. And as I opened the door, emerging with my hands filled with flowers, backpacks, art supplies, and three children trailing behind me, I saw one of my best mom friends standing outside the building and I ran towards her like a maniac. I may have been screaming, I can’t be sure, but I threw all of my stuff into her arms, another friend standing with her helped me part his hair and I said, “WHAT IS THIS!?”

And what was it? Well upon closer inspection I could see the lump had moving parts. It was a tick embedded in his scalp. I started to freak out (as calmly as a mother not trying to scare her three children can freak out). I pulled the tick from his scalp, my friend dumped a mini bag of pretzels on the floor, and I plopped the tick into the bag, holding it firmly shut as I loaded my kids into the car, yelled at the receptionist at the doctor to get me into an appointment stat, and sped to the doctor’s office.

This wasn’t my first encounter with a tick. Last year, I had a horrible stomach virus and my husband foolishly took the kids to a wooded trail without bug spray or proper clothing. As my husband was showering my oldest later in the evening, he came into my room to tell me that he believed our son had a bug stuck on his chest. Right away I assumed it was a tick and my mommy super strength prevailed as I hauled my feverish, sick ass out of bed and flew into the bathroom. It was a tick and I ran around half hallucinating screaming like a maniac. We removed the tick, treated the area, spoke to the doctor, and they assured me that the tick was probably only on him for a few hours, not long enough to do any real damage. He was fine, but my husband and I were not. Mr. Molbegat received a STERN angry wife speech and we moved on.

Back to yesterday. I arrived at the doctor shaking. How long was the tick in his hair? Was this the reason that he had a very enlarged lymph node behind his ear? Did I miss the early signs? Was he going to have Lyme’s? As a young woman with many autoimmune related health issues, thinking of my four year old having to deal with anything so frustrating made me sick. I threw my kids into the well-room at the doctor (because hell if I am letting any of them get sick before camp next week!), and I ran the tick up to the nurses. “Take this from me before I chop my own hand off.” She laughed, took the pretzel bag with the crawling tick, and brought it to our doctor. And just as I started to take a deep breath, I hear the doctor say, “Wow. 100 calories. 250 mg of sodium. Pretty good for a tick.” I looked at him laughing at the tick crawling around in the 100 calorie snack pack bag and I shouted across the entire office, “Stop laughing! I am freaking out!”

He called me over and said the tick looked very large, which means it’s not a deer tick, but most likely a dog tick and that I could breathe a small sigh of relief that we weren’t looking at a Lyme’s situation. I wasn’t consoled until an hour later when another doctor examined him and said that all three things going on on his scalp were unrelated. Drs. orders were to leave the lymph node alone, put bacitracin on the tick bite area, and take a good shower.  We left the office with the live tick in a specimen jar – our new pet for the week (as we watch for any signs of my little guy having an infection/fever) – and I hauled the kids back to the car, vending machine snacks in hand for good behavior while I panicked, with the words, “Tick checks every night and bug spray every morning” emanating from my lips.

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The rest of our scheduled afternoon plans were not flawless. We were supposed to be at the pool with friends. I ran home, made the kids sandwiches, helped them quickly into their bathing suits, and rushed to the pool. But yeah, I forgot the sandwiches at home. We arrived at the pool, swam for a short time, ran home to get the sandwiches, rushed to evening camp orientation, and throughout it all I repeatedly hear myself saying, “I need a strong drink or a Xanax!” The funny thing is, I don’t really drink that much and don’t take drugs. But after my DAY, saying that out loud seemed appropriate. Instead, I drowned the day in a vegan waffle topped with ice cream at 9pm!

And so, this is my really shitty day that now is a PSA to do tick checks EVERY night and use bug spray every morning. We weren’t in the woods or rolling around in the grass. Our day started at an amusement park and the supermarket. SO BE VIGILANT MY FRIENDS. Run your hands through your kids’ hair every day. Not only is it a great way to feel around for ticks, it’s USUALLY very relaxing. Just not this week.

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TV/IPAD Ban – How a threat turned into a punishment turned into a new way of life

As a first-time pregnant mom, I remember telling my dad, “My kids will not watch excessive amounts of TV.” I was adamant that we would only watch shows like Sesame Street that promoted learning and we could enjoy together. And for a long while, that philosophy worked with my first son. We indulged in a little Thomas the Train and used that as a springboard to talk about trains and build our own tracks and we enjoyed a little Caillou together to talk about our feelings (and ponder why he had no hair). It worked.

When my second was born, naturally he was exposed to television earlier than my first because his big brother would watch TV. By this time, we had welcomed Bubble Guppies into our repertoire and we enjoyed singing the songs together. It all seemed okay because we were using TV as a learning tool and we were engaging with one another. My first would wake up early in the morning and snuggle on the couch with his daddy while I fed the baby and got breakfast started. It continued to work for us.

But somewhere along the way, life got busier and we started to use TV in times I had never intended. The boys would watch TV while they ate at the kitchen table. I read so many studies saying this would make children obese and that worried me, but I also knew that if I put the TV on, my boys would slowly eat their dinner instead of throwing it on the floor. And after cooking a home-cooked meal, I preferred the food to end up in their bellies versus finding the dog’s beard covered in meat sauce (for example).

TV became a staple in our home. My third was born and putting on a show for the two big ones became an easy way for me to get a few things done while the baby napped (Yes, I put my foot in my mouth and ate my hat at the idea that I had become one of those moms that let the TV be a babysitter — but hey, all my friends were doing it too!).  Couple that with iPad time and the introduction of video games, nightmare!

[Ok – sidebar on the iPads and the video games. My boys had iPads early on as a learning tool. We installed only amazing learning apps and uploaded age-appropriate shows for them to watch when we travelled or when they were sick and quarantined to their rooms. As for video games, I refused to have systems in the house for a long time, but pressure mounted from dear hubby and the boys as they complained that ALL of their friends had video game systems and TVs in their rooms. I said yes to the video games (no shooting games!) and put my foot down about TVs in their rooms – NO NO NO! I explained that I had a TV in my room when I was younger because there were only a few shows on TV that I could watch at any given time versus now where DVRs and On Demand gave kids the freedom to watch 100s of programs – many of which are NOT age appropriate but billed as so].

Fast forward and suddenly electronics were taking over so much of our lives and conversations. My husband and I used our phones constantly, the boys were glued to their shows or iPads. Instead of coming up with unique ideas, my once creative and engaged boys would only draw characters they saw on TV. They talked about Minecraft and The Thundermans or Henry Danger.  And then the ZOMBIES emerged. Try to take an iPad away from a child that’s in the middle of a game or try to tell a kid that his bus is coming down the street and he has to stop watching TV to put his shoes on and you know what I’m talking about. Either blatantly being ignored OR meeting a full-blown tantrum. I was at my wits end.

But what really put me over the edge was the snarkiness that emerged. The sense of entitlement. The demands. The constant talk about what they wanted and why they should get every single item for sale on TV. The fighting over what to watch.

So I punished them for being disrespectful and took away the iPads for a few days. Didn’t do the trick. I took away the TV at meals and explained that I worked hard to cook for everyone and I wanted us to talk about our days while we ate. They resisted. They threw tantrums. I banned the iPads during the school week and they wailed. I put them on a TV ban for fighting.

It certainly didn’t happen over night, but somewhere in the span of a few weeks, the kids stopped asking to watch TV while they ate. Is every meal filled with mind-blowing conversations? No, of course not, but we are talking instead of zoning out and ignoring one another. I started leaving them “Mommy homework” to do before school instead of watching TV and guess what?! They are actually doing it and proudly showing me when I come downstairs to give them breakfast. They are playing again (and still fighting naturally – three boys, what do you expect!). They are doing art in the morning and after school instead of plopping down in front of the TV. They are building legos to decompress. My oldest even went so far as to say, “I’m using my creative mind again. It was shut down because of the TV, but it’s back now.”

So while I still like to indulge in my fave shows late at night when everyone else is off to bed, and while we still do family movie nights and watch TV or take iPad time on rainy afternoons, we are SO much more engaged with one another now and I love it. Even if it is more work and means less time to sneak away to answer an email or phone a friend while they zone out, I’m finding life at home more enjoyable and more meaningful than a month ago.

xoxo

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I wear many hats

Back again after what seems like an eternity because you know… I’ve been living life! Well actually, it’s more like I took on a WHOLE lot and I had to shift my focus from writing to other things.

But that’s okay. Here’s why:

The past three years have been somewhat of a shit-show and somewhere along the way, I lost my happy. To fill the void (and to pitch in – let’s be honest here – 3 kids, a house, and a husband in and out of work unfortunately), I took on many differing responsibilities. Each hat fit differently, but all bore the weight of expectation. I was a mother first, a housewife second, a tutor third, a skincare consultant fourth, and an editor/accountability partner with my husband for our new family business. (That’s right – in the midst of major health crap and loss, I said yes to starting another business – call me crazy, I’ve called myself way worse).

But this business wasn’t like the other ideas of the past. It has a feel good component and it actually made my husband smile (amazing!). We’ve had our moments and our bumps, but now that we are officially launched, it feels good to see it all going in a positive direction. What’s the business you might ask? We are TEDDY BEAR MOBILE, INC – a mobile create-your-own stuffed animal company. Not only do we do large events like schools, fundraisers, charities, etc., we also sell the business opportunity nationwide. Exciting!

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I decided to off-shoot a little and targeted camps with my side gig (yup another one) BUNK BEARS – exclusively for camps and Girl Scout troops (cute, right?)

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But as if I wasn’t already busy (because raising three boys, tending house, tutoring – love it, running a skincare biz and helping with everything else wasn’t enough), I decided to launch STUFF CANCER BEAR. And this little bear is a true labor of love (with the help of my husband of course). What is STUFF CANCER BEAR? You can learn more about it here: Stuff Cancer Bear

Here’s what I just shared with my friends and family on Facebook so you can get even more of the backstory on why this little bear means a great deal to me:

“Today, I invited my entire FB network to like Stuff Cancer Bear – a few of you did, and I greatly appreciate it. For the curious or skeptical, I wanted to take a moment to jump on and share with you why I asked you to like this page. I’ll start at the beginning…

When I was twenty-five years old, I was coming up on my one year wedding anniversary and finishing my second year of teaching. I was having chronic pelvic and lower back pain, but much to my dismay, none of my gynecologists could figure out why. Unfortunately, what I found out at the start of my summer was that I had a grapefruit size mass on my ovary, attached to my tube as well. I went in for emergency surgery, was sliced down the abdomen (leaving an upsetting scar), and I was diagnosed with a Borderline Ovarian Tumor. This was NOT a cyst. This was not a FIBROID. This was a tumor that while not full-blown cancer, had malignant properties with enough weight to be classified as a type of Ovarian Cancer. If you’re interested, you can read more about my journey here: https://milkfreemama.com/?p=271

Shortly after I recovered and became pregnant (what a miracle, truly), my aunt was diagnosed with Leukemia… This is the part many of you know about. She was a fighter and so brave throughout her journey — you can read more about our special connection here: https://milkfreemama.com/?p=570

During her battle with cancer, our entire family became VERY close with the organization that matched her with her donor – Gift of Life Marrow Registry. They saw her through her bone marrow transplants, honored her at their walks, empowered her to give back, and memorialized her after she passed. Her picture hangs proudly on their Florida office wall.

Stuff Cancer Bear is my tribute to her, my tribute to my grandfather who battled cancer as well, and a personal reminder of my inner strength to persevere. This bear is on a mission to raise money and awareness as well as spread a universal message of coming together to end cancer. I reached out to Gift of Life Marrow Registry and immediately received their support, as well as the gracious support of Pediatric Cancer Foundation (an organization we walked for many times in the past). Together, it is our hope that the STUFF CANCER BEAR will spread smiles across the nation to those battling cancers, those that survived cancer, and those that have family members affected by cancer. 25% of the proceeds of each bear will go to the aforementioned charities and for every 5 bears sold, we will donate 1 to a child undergoing treatment (because that’s just shit and those brave kids deserve every chance to be spoiled and to be smiling).

What I need from you: In order to gain nationwide support, I need my friends and family to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE – like our page @StuffCancerBear, follow us on Instagram @stuffcancerbear, and SHARE ANY post from our Facebook wall with your network. If you are interested in purchasing a bear, please visit our website at: https://teddybearmobile.com/animals-and-outfits…

You can designate where your $ goes (We are also partnered with Plainview’s chapter of Relay For Life).

I am forever grateful for my friends and family that held me up when I was undergoing surgery and recovery and I am eternally grateful to the friends that steadied me when I lost my aunt Randi Fuchs Igoe and continue to let me speak about her whenever I need to and for those beautiful people that held my hand when I suddenly lost my grandpa. You are the reason that I haven’t lost my shit and the reason why I am able to rally in the face of adversity and pay it forward with Stuff Cancer Bear. xoxo”

 

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So you see, STUFF CANCER BEAR is on a serious mission to do good and even if it’s another hat I have to wear, I wear this one proudly atop my other hats because this one is helping me take back a bit of my happy.

There you have it —

xoxoxo

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All About Food

Good-morning Foodies!

Who, like me, has an inner battle with food? Too shy to come forward? That’s ok… I get it. For a long time, it was not easy for me to admit that I used food to prove my willpower or to control my emotions or to control my existence.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s. You know, back in the day when it wasn’t socially acceptable to NOT have an eating disorder. I kid, but in truth, being a pre-teen and teen in the 90s wasn’t easy when it came to body appreciation. I wasn’t skinny. I was a chubby baby and a round-faced little girl. I was always tall and when I came into my own, I was big-breasted and curvy – never rail thin like the girls I would see in magazines.  I grew up in the age of Fat-Free everything. I limited my snacking to once per day and often I would wait until late at night in my pjs, unbothered by the outside world, to indulge in my favorite snack, licorice.

I loved sweets – still do. I indulged on muffins and cookies and brownie sundaes and candy and ice cream. But in moderation. Strict moderation. Unless it was my birthday and then I would say, screw it and eat whatever I damn well-pleased. But during the Fat-Free craze, when I wanted ice cream, I would get fat-free fro-yo. It would kill my stomach, but it satisfied my sweet tooth.

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What breakfast or lunch looks like these days – fulfilling and zero guilt because the ingredients are REAL and satisfying without additives and tons of sugar.

Eating disorders run in my family. I was exposed to it growing up, in the media, amongst friends. I used food to make me happy when I had a tough day. I used food as a way to show my control (I gave up eating French fries for ten full years to prove that I could). It wasn’t a happy way to exist. It all came to a head at the end of my freshman year of college. I definitely gained weight first semester, so second semester, I decided to join Weight Watchers. But I quickly became point obsessed and needed help. I sought out the assistance of a nutritionist that not only focused on weight loss and portion control, but also on healing the mind. She showed me that I could still eat a slice or two of pizza and have dessert if I was mindful of how much and what I was eating. She made sure I didn’t feel deprived and I was still allowed to occasionally have licorice and I could have my fro-yo every night if I wanted. I lost thirteen pounds that summer, dieting and working at day camp, and I went into Sophomore year of college at a great weight for my height feeling fab.

And just a couple of weeks later, I met my husband and he quickly showed me that he loved me, in whatever form I existed. He still does. Every day. Seriously, every day he reminds me how much he loved my body then, how much he loved it pregnant, and how much he loves it today. He may not be perfect in every way (sorry love), but he pushes me to see my body through his eyes, and for that I am always grateful.

Celebrating in 2018

Celebrating in 2018

Throughout the remainder of college, my weight fluctuated as does the weight of most collegiate girls. I worked out at the gym with friends, made conscious healthy choices with whatever I ate, I even took the bus to the supermarket just so I could get fresh sliced chicken to top my salads versus some of the unhealthy choices I was exposed to on campus.

I graduated college, got engaged, worked with a trainer, ate mindfully, and still questioned whether or not I was thin enough to be a bride. The struggle was real – the body dysmorphia was legit. I looked in the mirror and saw myself as extremely overweight.  When I look back at pictures now, I cringe realizing how youthful and healthy I looked and felt. I wish I could’ve realized it in the moment.

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When I was diagnosed with a borderline ovarian tumor, the nurses released me from the hospital with strict orders – cut out the fat free crap. Eat low-fat. They weren’t implying the fat-free was why I developed the tumor, but they wanted me to add some fat into my diet and to avoid the artificial crap that was messing with healthy digestion. It wasn’t an easy switch, although I do remember being excited to eat low-fat fro-yo!

Months later, I got pregnant for the first time and ate whatever my heart desired (in moderation). My husband mocked me for my big eyes when it came to ice-cream only to be somewhat amused and a little horrified that I could actually eat the big order I placed at Haagen Daz. Carvelanches were my Wednesday night treat and although in the first few months I resented feeling like a fat blob, I really embraced the beauty of my growing body by the end.

And then came the post-pregnancy emotions and body-shaming. I hated how fat I felt and resented that my body wouldn’t shed the pounds. I went shopping for some new clothes wth my mom just so I wouldn’t feel disgusted when none of my old clothes fit. I held onto the extra weight for three full months before losing a pound and then suddenly it was like a literal weight lifted and the pounds flew off. By my son’s first birthday, I was the thinnest I had ever been in my adult life and I LOVED how I felt and looked. Like literally loved it. My husband missed my curves, but I spent less time talking about being unhappy in my skin or about how fat I was, so he liked that.

Feeling thin and beautiful at my son's 1st birthday

Feeling thin and beautiful at my son’s 1st birthday

With each subsequent pregnancy, I gained the same amount of weight pound for pound every weigh in and it took three months post pregnancy before I lost any weight. Each time, I got back down to the same weight I started at, but… and this is a big BUT, my body never looked the same. My weight distributed differently. My chest was big again and my hips a little wider, but the scale said the same.

And that’s when it hit me that I really had no control. My body could face a horrible health scare and bounce back three months later to carry a healthy and successful pregnancy. My body could face illness and still birth two more healthy babies. My body could determine where the weight would settle. It wasn’t up to me. It was time I started treating my body better.

So over the past few years, after quitting dairy and soy to nurse my allergic son, I started to experiment with food and using food to fuel the body. I’ve since given up gluten, sesame, millet, and tapioca as well. I’ve embraced wellness journeys, like the low-histamine diet, with bravery and confidence in using the right foods to heal my body. I face chronic pain and bizarre symptoms every day and I am on the quest to find the key to once again feeling healthy. I now know that being a few pounds thinner or heavier doesn’t mean being healthier. And I wish I would have loved my body a littler more when it was healthy instead of shaming it for being a few pounds heavier than I wanted to be. Today, I try VERY hard to overlook the fact that almond flour and coconut and nut butters are fattening because I know that they are providing my body with fulfilling nutrients.

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Eating an abundance of food I love and trying out some things I never thought I’d like.

So, while I still have fat days and I still bother my husband about why my fat rolls have fat rolls (no they don’t really – that’s the dysmorphia talking), I have a MUCH healthier relationship with food now and I recognize it’s all about balance. I won’t eat cookies all day long and then eat pasta for dinner. I balance my choices daily to stay healthy. Going low-histamine for three weeks taught me that I can still feel fulfilled by food and that I don’t need an evening snack every day just because. I can eat when I am hungry and enjoy a piece of chocolate midday with much less guilt than years ago. I am STILL a work-in-progress, but I am grateful that today, in 2018, eating healthy means eating real food, with natural ingredients, and that ALL body shapes and sizes grace the covers of magazines and there is no shame in gaining a few pounds or losing a few pounds or leaving the house in sweats. We live in an age of honesty and bravery where models can now say, things like don’t shame me for not being anorexic – I have a thyroid condition that makes my weight fluctuate, or you know what, hey, I am happy being a size 10 versus the Calvin Klein models of 1990 at size 00. Hallelujah!

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Pregnant in 2009 – round-faced, but so happy. And present day in 2018.

So let’s all raise a chocolate bar (or a whole damn cookie sundae) to being honest with ourselves and with trying to love our bodies in the best ways we can – eating foods made with real ingredients – praising our bodies for the miracles that they are – and accepting that above all, our health will bring us happiness, not five less pounds.

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Think I need to whip up a birthday dessert like this!

And side note, my birthday is coming up this weekend and I plan to stick with my motto – eat whatever the heart desires because it’s my birthday yo!

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Picture Perfect

Hello hello!

Today, I am thinking about being picture perfect. Perfect blowout, perfect manicure, outfit on point. Perfect husband in the perfect relationship, holding hands and kissing in every photo. Perfect children never fighting, hair brushed and matching outfits perfectly clean. Those pictures look good right? Makes you feel a little jealous right?

WRONG! This blog is all about being honest and real. I live my life honest and real – sometimes to a fault. I am open about my health problems. Some days (like today) I exist in a messy bun and sweatpants, barely any makeup on. My relationship with my husband is far from perfect. We have tough moments and hurtful moments mixed with the really strong connection we share. My children are not little angels. They fight all day long. In fact, I would say it’s 90% fighting and 10% playing nicely. Their outfits are never perfect – one always has a torn knee and someone invariable gets oil on his nicest shirt.

Why am I an open book? It’s just plain easier than pretending everything is always great. That in and of itself becomes a job and I have too many jobs to juggle at the moment thank you. I NEVER want anyone to feel that perfection equals happiness. It doesn’t. I can guarantee the people who claim to live perfect lives or the people that never voice complaints about their spouse or the people that believe their children are always perfect are not rooted in reality. Because no one is EVER perfect and being unable to commiserate or share truthful feelings stunts your ability to live honestly and to feel surrounded by like-minded individuals.

Now that may seem like a harsh thing to say, but if you’re following this blog, then you too revel in being true to yourself, so you know that with being open about imperfections and embracing being a work in progress allows you the freedom to not be perfect.

Being perfect is not easy. It takes a lot of work. And I’d rather be perfectly imperfect.

xx

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