Moving

Saturday I announced to the world…the Facebook world anyway…that we are putting our house up for sale.  We have been thinking about it for a long time.  We knew it was coming at some point.  The boys have a tiny bedroom….I have a tiny kitchen…the backyard is extraordinarily small…(are you sensing a theme yet?).  We have looked at a few houses.  I scour Zillow and MLS almost nightly.

We didn’t say anything because we wanted to let Debbie, our neighbor, know first.  I won’t lie…we were hesitant after David passed because…well….just so many feelings there.  But as the days passed by I started feeling sick to my stomach every time I thought about selling the house and how perfect the market is for selling right now.  Finally, I told Nathan we just had to do it.  We couldn’t pass up this market to get out from under this house so we can find something that fits us better.  Eventually I will not have tiny boys anymore and they will need a bit more space.  And with all the dietary changes I have made to my life and that I am slowly making for the rest of the people in my house…I just need a bigger kitchen.  Cooking whole foods every night and baking bread and other bread products just calls for a bit more space.

So now the world knows.  I am madly cleaning out the house and wiping baseboards and boxing up non-essentials so the house will look good for showing.  We don’t want people to see how much crap we crammed in this tiny house!  Plus, totally stuffed closets will just highlight how small those closets really are!

The plus side to all this packing is the purging that has taken place.  I have lost track of the number of garbage bags thrown out.  And Nathan has taken two FULL car loads to charity…and my charity pile is growing again.  I have been fairly ruthless in my packing.  There have been too many times I look at an item and think, “I do not want to pack this…more importantly, I DO NOT want to UNPACK this!”

I recycled binders full of curriculum and projects from undergrad.  There were stacks of those big brown envelopes with carefully catalogued notes from countless science classes…fun things like invertebrate paleontology!  The notes and projects from grad school followed the undergrad things.  It was hard….those papers represented so much work…so many hours.  But really, I am never going to look at those things again.  I am never going to reread my notes or projects.  And it isn’t like the boys would ever want to.  (Now, if I had majored in bird studies or something, Emory might have been interested!)  I took a deep breath and loaded it in the car to take to work for the recycling company we have come once a month.  It was so freeing to gain that closet space back and to know that, in my next house, I won’t lose precious space to useless paper.

And suddenly…my house seems to much bigger!  Amazing what purging and moving half of the boys’ toys to my parents’ house will do!  :)

A down side to all this work and a future of moving out….it is very stressful for the boys.  I always knew it would be.  Dean’s sleep has been even more disrupted and he has less control over his emotions.  It is impossible to question him though and get to the root of the problem so I just have to wait.  Yesterday afternoon on our way home he finally asked me the question that I knew was the root.  

“Mom…are they going to touch my stuff?”

And there it was.  The idea of people in our house…people he doesn’t know and who don’t belong here….the threat that someone would touch or even take his things…it is just too much for Dean.

It isn’t much different for Emory either.  He constantly asks if we get to take our things when we leave and today he expressed concern that strangers would know our address.  We have recently been talking about all kinds of safety, including internet safety, where we don’t tell people private things (like our address).

Last night on the news they did a story about how quickly houses are selling.  They said 1 in 10 sells in 72 hours or less….right now I am praying that we can be that 1!

Slippery Slope

At the beginning of the year Nathan and I had a discussion…about babies.  I told him that I knew our window was closing and I needed to have the opportunity to “try one more time”.

I also told him that I didn’t think this round of “trying” would amount to much.  After all, we tried for so long before and the boys are only here because of intervention.  The fact is that I don’t ovulate…on my own at least.

But I needed to have one more chance.  One more chance so I didn’t spend years thinking about the what-ifs of it all.

The plan was to allow for the possibility in April and maybe May (no babies during football season for me again!)  But then things were going on with the boys and one day I tearfully conceded that maybe it wasn’t the best thing to even allow for the possibility.

Then March came along and life was happening and I kept forgetting to go to the pharmacy and well….allowing for that possibility came a month early.  I don’t think I really did it on purpose…maybe I did on a subconscious level….I don’t know.  I suppose in the long run it doesn’t really matter much.

I told Nathan and he didn’t freak out or really even say anything about it.  Usually when he doesn’t have a strong opinion he says nothing and it is the equivalent of him giving his okay.

But all of this isn’t the slippery slope I am referring to.

Infertility is my slippery slope.  Once Nathan and the boys came back from Oklahoma and I told him of our situation this month, my obsessing started.  My mind was immediately thrown back 7 years ago when all that I thought about was our infertility and my worry and tears and fears about never having a baby….a baby that I so desperately wanted.  And even though I have those desperately longed for “babies” (who are currently making dinosaur noises in the other room…VERY loudly), it doesn’t keep all those feelings and fears from coming back.

I am obsessed with signs…signs that it is time…signs that maybe after all this time I am finally ovulating on my own.  I have recently removed gluten completely from my diet and there are so many hopeful stories out there about women suddenly conceiving on their own after years of infertility because they removed gluten from their diets.  Maybe that is me too….

See….the hope never dies.  And I struggle to keep it all under control.  I struggle to not let it consume me.  I constantly tell myself that no matter what the outcome of this “allowing for the possibility” I still have two wonderful children who are the world to me.

But I am also pretty sure I will cry at the end of this….if once again it doesn’t work out.  We are only going to allow for this for one or two months.  I think partly because I cannot take the mental stress of it all.  I need my shot and if it doesn’t work out….then I will put it behind me for the last time and mourn my loss at growing that baby…and move on.

If you have never struggled with infertility you probably think this is all crazy.  I don’t expect you to understand….not really.

For now, I feel myself clinging desperately to hope.  Last night as I was falling asleep I was thinking about it all and I let myself imagine the best was happening.  I let myself feel happy at the possibility of a tiny baby growing inside me once again.  I felt happy as I fell asleep.  Maybe I will be disappointed in a couple of weeks, but I feel okay with that.  There is only going to be one, maybe two more times that the possibility of that outcome would even be possible.  So I am going to let myself hope and dream and feel the possibility of it all.  Maybe this time isn’t quite so desperate as before….because this time I do have two boys to love and hug and hold.

I told you this was a slippery slope….but I am clinging so tightly to that hope…at least for a little bit longer.

21-Day Cleanse Update ~ Day 5

As I sit here drinking my spiced almond milk, I find myself at the end of Day 5.  Today has been the hardest day.  It has also been the most revealing day.

Yesterday, our beloved neighbor had a heart attack.  The boys witnessed part of it and have been very worried and concerned, especially Emory.  Last night I hardly slept.  Today has been filled with relief and new worries and constant stress.  I will admit that some of my stress and anxiety is selfish…I am worried for our neighbor…real worries…and the selfish part is that I am terrified at even the slightest possibility of needing to break bad news to the boys.  We are praying that won’t be the case for all involved…especially his family and own grandchildren.

So with all of those worries, it was also Valentine’s Day.  A day of chocolate and sweets and special meals.  Fortunately Nathan had to work tonight so a special night out was never even discussed!  (Even if he didn’t have games tonight we wouldn’t have done anything super special…he is totally supportive of my current effort.)

It was clear from the first moments of my day (5:15am in case you were wondering…will the time change PLEASE hurry up so Emory can go back to his normal schedule!) that today was going to be hard for so many reasons.  It also brought my stress eating/comfort eating to the forefront.  I know that I am an emotional eater.  I have always have been.  When I am stressed I eat.  When I am sad I eat.  When I am worried I eat.  Not surprising then that I am overweight.

But I had a unique opportunity today to sit with these emotions and feel them and deal with them.  I was determined to stick to the cleanse even though I was desperate to eat one of the boys’ cupcakes or any other number of things in the house.  Friday is “Whataburger Friday” at work.  I don’t even like Whataburger and yet it was torture.  Then there was my Aunt Pam’s special Valentine’s cake.  Every year she makes a supper yummy strawberry cake with amazing strawberry icing in the shape of a heart.  I watched every member of my family cut a nice big slice.  I sat there eating my blueberries and almonds.  Blueberries and almonds are NOT special strawberry Valentine’s cake.

All day I have fought myself.  And every time weakness almost overtook me I won.  I did binge eat two handful of pecans as a snack…but technically they are raw and nuts are on the cleanse.  I was comfort eating…but at least I was choosing something cleanse approved.  I consider it a victory…even if it still clearly is not what I should be doing!

This morning I posted on the private Cleanse Facebook page/support group.  I received so many inspiring comments that I read many times during the day.  But one comment really struck me.  She said several things but then said, “Continuing to eat healthy today is teaching your body that eating is not the appropriate response to stress…”.

WOW!  Talk about a life changing shift in thought.  By recognizing my feelings, by facing them no matter how much they hurt….I was actually teaching my body that eating is not the appropriate response to stress.  I have never thought of it that way.  Eating in response to stress is a learned behavior.  As a learned behavior that means I can “unlearn” it…teach my brain and body a new, better, healthier way to respond.  It reminded me that I am in control of myself and my reactions…I don’t have to be held captive by life-long habits…I can change.

That made me feel empowered and strong and proud.

It feels like a huge shift inside of me.  I am learning so many things about myself…about food and portions and change.

I won today.  It feels really good to win and feel part of who I was before fall away…

Oh….and as an aside…I have also lost 5 lbs….that doesn’t hurt either!  :)

The 21-Day Cleanse

I have been planning on blogging about the whole-food cleanse I am participating in for a few days now.  The cleanse is hosted by the same women who host the 30-day Green Smoothie Challenge.  If you want to read about the cleanse or even join in (even though it has started you can purchase the cleanse…recipes and other various helpful things…and start whenever you want) (right now the cleanse is “live” which means there is a private Facebook group open for support)….go here.

One more thing before I start….the recipes are amazing and I will probably post photos of some of the meals I eat…but I won’t be sharing the recipes with you.  The cleanse and the recipes are for sale and it isn’t fair to share their hard work.  I am sure you understand!

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So…the cleanse.  I am currently at the end of Day 2.  Day 1 was great.  The cleanse is a whole-food cleanse.  No meat, no dairy, no gluten…all whole foods and vegan.  It is not a juice cleanse or a starvation cleanse.  The only time I was hungry on Day 1, was when I missed my morning snack and was late getting my afternoon snack.  Lunch was good…dinner was AMAZING!

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This is a recipe I will be keeping and USING after the cleanse is over!  I had it again for lunch today and it was just as good today!

They told us to expect some bad days this first week while the body is adjusting and cleaning out built up toxins.  Headaches and low energy levels would be common.  I expected Day 3 and Day 4 to be the bad ones…once I was really getting into week 1.  So I was blindsided when I woke up this morning with a raging headache and feeling terrible.  They discourage taking headache medicines during the cleanse because it is about cutting out chemicals.  But my headaches tend to quickly become migraines and I had to be functional today.  I have two little 5-year-olds who don’t do well when I am out for the day.  Plus we had repair guys coming to the house to service the treadmill and we had speech therapy today.  The headache medicine made me functional….barely.

Besides the headache I had chills and nausea.  Honestly, I felt like crap.  After reading through the Facebook group page I discovered that there were plenty of other people having the exact same symptoms I was.  At least I wasn’t suffering alone!  Others also mentioned they didn’t have much appetite today.  I thought my low appetite was because of my headache (a common symptom of my migraines).

As the day wore on I contemplated this crappy feeling.  Clearly I am having withdrawal symptoms.  I don’t drink caffeine on a daily or even regular basis.  I cannot imagine how daily coffee drinkers might be feeling.  My brain was running pretty foggy and sluggish today so it took me awhile to come to my conclusions about this withdrawal phase.   The two big things I have cut out with this cleanse are refined sugars/carbohydrates and processed foods.  I have read up on sugar detoxing and the scientific community is divided on the issue of sugar addictions.  I would definitely say my body CRAVES refined sugars.  Let’s be honest…refined sugars are in almost everything you buy that isn’t fresh…even things that are supposed to be good for you like yogurt have tons of sugar in them.  They know that sugar raises those “feel good” chemicals in the brain.  I cannot say whether I feel truly “addicted” to them…but I can tell you my withdrawal from them has been horrible.  I told Nathan about my day when he got home and I said this to him….

“If this is what coming off of chemicals and refined sugars is doing to my body, I cannot fathom how much the are hurting my health.”

I feel shocked by this revelation.  After feeling so horrible day I have advised to not give up…just make it through the bad part to get to the good part.  No worries!  It bothers me how horribly I am reacting to taking these items out of my diet.  Sure they preach moderation of refined foods.  People talk about how awesome RAW diets make them feel.  But until you live it….you really don’t get it.  When the cleanse is over I plan to go back to life….but life is going to be different.  It is my goal to NOT go back to refined sugars and processed foods.  That doesn’t mean I won’t sometimes have a meal out or never have desert again….but it does mean that they will be occasional treats instead of daily or weekly events.

And this isn’t really new information.  I have read or heard things along my current line of thinking for years.  But I suppose this cleanse was so drastic that it put everything into a very clear perspective.  I feel like I have so much to mentally hash out and think about…but sitting here at the end of Day 2, my life feels completely changed.

I do not think this change in thought or perspective will make this easy!  I have 36 years of habits and thoughts and life to change.  But it is like Carole and I often lament…once you know something you just cannot unknown it…and you are conscious of every time you go against what you know to be a better way.

On a different note I decided to step on the scale this morning….2lbs of water weight…gone.  That made me laugh because I felt like I was FLOATING yesterday!  96 ounces of pure water, plus a cup of herbal cleanse tea and the morning tonic….today has been the same!

Tonight’s dinner….amazing.  It was a carrot soup that was so easy to make.  I suppose I am currently living the idea that good food doesn’t have to be complicated to make!

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Bring on Day 3!  It cannot be much worse than today!

Oh the Texas weather rollercoaster

It has been a crazy winter around here.  It started with an ice storm around the first of December.  January has been filled with alternating freezing temperatures with lows well below the freezing mark and warm spring-like temperatures.  And the wind!  I swear the wind blew at a constant 40 mph yesterday.  I doubt it was that high but it sure seemed like it!

Today is a warm, spring-like day.  The high was around 74 with a light breeze and actual moisture in the air.  We have had negative dew points lately.  The air has been so dry that even running 3 humidifiers 24 hours a day in my house still didn’t get rid of the static buildup.  

Days like today have me itching to start planting in our raise bed gardens.  I was thinking of planting this weekend but then the weather reports starting coming in that we have a chance of winter precipitation…so I will wait another week.  I only have to worry about the plants when they first sprout and we covered the beds plenty last spring.  But it gets so hot so soon that if I want any tender veggies like lettuce and spinach it is best to start early.

My plan for the early garden….spinach, two types of lettuce (which I need to decide on), and kale.  Great things for our salads and all of our green smoothies we now drink!  I am thinking of doing carrots in a pot instead of the beds this year so I can control the soil a bit better.  I have decided I just don’t have the room for cucumbers, but mom does and she is planting those this year.  I might do another tomato plant in a pot like I did last year.  Just the tiny tomatoes that I end up eating as I harvest!  I am the only one in our house that will eat tomatoes anyway.  I am also thinking of planting some garlic in pots.  Maybe a green pepper plant because Emory does love peppers.  I have decided against peas of any kind this year because I have just had bad luck with them.  Mom planted onions this year so I won’t.

I am also planning for a late summer planting to have a fall harvest.  Usually by late summer I am pretty much done with everything…the heat just saps me and we are always under water restrictions now.  BUT…we are going to install soakers hoses to water the garden this year to save on watering and Nathan has been promising for two years to make me two or three rain barrels.  Even a quick summer downpour will fill those up!  One of my plans for the late summer planting is to use an entire bed to plant a couple of pumpkin vines for the fall.

Now to go place a seed order!

A collection of random thoughts

When the new year I started it was my goal to be more intentional about writing here.  I was doing pretty good.  Then the news of my high school friend came and most of my goals faded into the background.  His passing affected me in ways I am not sure I completely realize or understand.  It isn’t like I have been sitting over here, grieving and crying.  I did cry.  I did grieve.  But day to day life continues.  Ever since that day I have become very introspective, with tons of thoughts cramming my head.  None have seemed coherent enough to write down.

That wasn’t the only life-changing event of the last few weeks though.

Carole and I have embarked upon a journey together.  We started last fall, then we were derailed by the holidays.  We have both issued the other a challenge with an end date of Aril 1st….the first quarter of 2014.  We have discovered, that although we have completely different manifestations, our core struggles are exactly the same.  We are supporting each other through the rough days and cheering on the good days.  I feel like we are changing ourselves one tiny success at a time.  We are learning to define our feelings and deal with them rather than burry them in our own destructive ways.  Since this is my blog I will share my challenge.  She has challenged me to lose 15lbs by April 1st.  Totally doable and something that I am working on every day.

Nathan and I are busy examining our marriage.  Our sunday school class is doing a 6-week bible study on marriage.  It has been….challenging.  I have felt so many emotions during the study.  We are at the half-way point.  Most of the discussion is based around being self-centered instead of God-centered in your relationship.  It is a pretty deep discussion that I am not going to even try to get into here.  But what I am discovering is that, for me at least, it hasn’t been self-centered or God-centered…it has been child-centered.  Everything….and I do many EVERY thing in the last 7 years has been about the boys….even before we had the boys.  It was about fertility issues and then about carrying twins through a long pregnancy.  After they were born it became about living through infant twins, a surgery at one month, a band at 4 months….about them not talking and not meeting developmental milestones.  It became about therapy and diagnosis and more therapy.  My life has been consumed by them….of helping them….of early intervention.  Our marriage became last on the list and has suffered because of it.  I don’t blame me or him or the boys….it is what it is.  But it needs to be more.  Life with the boys isn’t quite as intense as it once was.  There are still challenges to overcome and therapy to go to and of course we have now thrown homeschooling into the mix, but it is still easier.  Or maybe I finally just understand how to manage it better.  So now we work to find balance….for myself, for my marriage, for my role as a mother.

And then there was a encounter I had this week.  On Monday Nathan’s car wouldn’t start…but then it did…so we drove it to the shop our entire family uses.  A really awesome man named Clarence owns the shop.  Monday afternoon I went to pay for the work and, even though I was in a hurry, ended up talking to Clarence for several minutes.  When I arrived at the shop he was on the phone.  When he hung up he shared with me what the phone call was about.  The doctor was calling to tell him they found a spot on his lung and they want to do a biopsy.  Clarence was so calm about this.  If I had received that phone call I would have been a complete wreck with worry.  He kept talking….telling me he had prostate cancer back in 2007.  He told me of talking with doctors and them questioning him on why he was so calm….so not worried.  Then he shared his outlook with me.  He told the doctors, and me, that worry wouldn’t change what they were saying.  That he would do the testing and get all the information he could and then he would continue to live his life…and live through the challenge.  He said he isn’t afraid of dying.  He isn’t ready to die yet of course….but he isn’t afraid.  He didn’t tell me anything I haven’t read about or heard before.  But knowing this man…talking to him in person…hearing his words.  It touched me.  Worry won’t change the outcome.  Life is what it is and he is going to LIVE his life to the fullest and deal with things as they arise.  His calm, mild, peaceful manner was inspiring.  I want that outlook for myself.  I want to be calm and not spend time worrying because those worries won’t change the outcome.  The entire encounter doesn’t seem very significant when I type it out here….but it feels significant inside of me.

Other things are happening.  Emory’s speech therapist is quitting to be at home with her children so we are transitioning to a new therapist.  We have had our current therapist for 2 years so we are all a bit sad to see her go…even though we are happy for her.  Both of the boys are making significant strides in reading since I scrapped phonics and went with whole word language for the time being.  Both are continuing to move forward in math at a steady pace.  Emory’s obsession with birds is growing stronger and he now knows many by sight.  Dean’s late fall slip seems to have finally left us and all the things he “forgot” are suddenly back and even stronger.  They suddenly seem very 5 1/2 and are much more independent than they were even just a month ago.  I have almost finished my 30-day green smoothie challenge and know that green smoothies will continue to be a part of our daily lives.  I am contemplating a whole food cleanse in February.  I am researching resistance band training.  We are preparing to plant kale, lettuce, and spinach in our garden in a week or two.

Life is moving.

Emory and his birds

Emory loves animals….LOVES.  But it is love in theory and not practice.  He has begged for a dog…and a rabbit…and a hamster…and a Guinea pig…and birds and snakes and frogs.  His stuffed animal collection would rival that of a small zoo…the Okapi, the peacock, the turtle, the flamingo, the giraffe, the elephant, the snake….and those are just the ones I can name from the top of my head.  But when confronted with a real animal…say a dog….he totally freaks out.  So, like many things for Emory, the theory is better than the practice.

Over the holidays he saw something on TV…a bird house you could attach to your window and watch birds nest in it.  The commercial (like all commercials) made it seem totally awesome.  I put him off for a long time and finally I went online to read about it.  As expected it didn’t get good reviews….birds never nesting…baby birds dying after the parent was spooked away by too much noise…

The idea of tiny baby birds dying was more than he could take and decided it was not the best option.  (He decided our house was probably too loud…can I just say…understatement of the year!)  He was quite heartbroken.  Then I suggested one of those bird feeders you can put on the window and watch them eat.  Perfect solution!

Personally…the thought of birds sitting outside my window eating is a bit much for me.  Birds are quite possibly the worst creature in the world.  Have you ever really looked at a bird?  <shudder>  Not my favorite.  My dislike all stems from one prolonged experience at college.  Baylor has huge, majestic trees…and lots of them.  They also have a Grackle problem.  They shoot air cannons which do nothing.  There was one particular place on campus that was the worst and one day I had to walk by it.  Then on a different evening the guy I was dating wanted to go on a walk and decided the best place on campus to kiss me was near this Grackle nesting area.  THE STENCH!  It was overwhelming….I became physically ill with the smell.

And that was it.  My dislike of birds was born and grew.  I do not like them.  And now, here I am, encouraging them to take up shop in my backyard….because my second born begged and looked at me with those huge eyes and long eyelashes.

The bird feeder was purchased and arrived.  We hung it up and put in the feed.  I knew this could take weeks so we also set out a small plate of food on a table hoping they would see it and decide to investigate further.

Then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The first bird I noticed was on Tuesday morning.  Just one…it had a small snack and flew off.

Yesterday we waited patiently….no birds.

And then this morning….it was like the word finally spread that there was a free, easy breakfast in our backyard.

The joy on Emory’s face….it could almost make me like the little feathered creatures.

He sat, perched on our bed, for well over an hour.  He asked for my camera and I gave it to him.  I then headed off for my daily exercise on the treadmill.  Every few minutes he would run in with my heavy Canon DSLR swinging around his neck to show me a new photo and tell me some particular detail.

He has proudly told everyone who will lesson about those birds from this morning….and that HE took the photos.

I suppose I can put up with the birds if it brings this kind of joy and excitement and focus to my child….my child who cannot focus on anything more than a few minutes at a time before switching to something new.  Maybe a love for nature photography was born today.  Or maybe not….only time will tell.  But no matter what the future holds, I know that the present is exciting and he is learning and growing in ways that I don’t even understand….all because I bought a $15 bird feeder and handed over my huge camera.

And now…for Emory’s photography debut…. (and a lesson that maybe mommy should wash windows a bit more often….)

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I did not edit his photos and I wasn’t even in the room when he took them!  Photos by Emory age 5 (almost 5 1/2).  Camera ~ Canon DSLR EOS 50D