Waging war in the urban jungle

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Separating fact from fiction

Paulo is a very creative child. He can spend entire days as someone else, playing "pretend people" is his all time favorite thing to do...with me. Most of the time I'm a willing participant but honestly sometimes I do need to tell him that Momma needs a break from being Papa Bear!

His other creative outlet is story telling. He tells great stories, I can't wait until his writing/spelling skills catch up with his imagination, I'm looking forward to reading his short stories and perhaps, someday, even books. For now though we are limited to oral story telling. The trouble that I'm having though is separating fact from fiction. Most of the time it is totally clear that he is being creative. For instance when he tells me that he went outside the night before in his bare feet to do cartwheels and then jump into a tree to play with a Bushbaby, I'm **mostly** certain that he's being creative. Or when he tells me that he made an invisibility potion so he could travel at night to go to Disneyland, yes that's obviously a made up story. Sometimes his potions let him visit friends at night too! He's very fond of his potions. (On a side note, I'm really looking forward to reading Harry Potter with him, he's going to love those books!) His nighttime travels also take him to other planets on rocket ships that he builds. I love his story telling.

Yesterday though we had a couple of times where he told me something that happened during the day, only to admit minutes later that he was telling me a made up story. First he told me he'd eaten his lunch in the hallway, then minutes later told me he was just making up a story. He also told me that he was very angry at another boy who had accused him of taking a classmate's hat and then when Paulo denied it, said "liar, liar, pants on fire"...yes the kids in 2010 are still using the same line as they did when I was in Kindergarten in 1980. When I asked him what he'd said to this boy, how had he handled the conflict, he told me he was just making up a story. Later he told me that a classmate was sad because his pet rat died. I asked him if anyone comforted this boy and he said that yes, he did. He'd hugged him and told him that he was sorry Buttercup died. I was so proud of him for showing empathy and caring for another child. He told me that Kathy, a classroom helper, saw him being kind and gave him a recess star sticker. The first part of his story he swears was true but the second part about the sticker was not. He was adamant though that the death of the rat and the ensuing comfort did in fact occur. I tried to explain to him that while I love his creative stories he shouldn't tell me things that could realistically have happened during the day only to then turn around and say just kidding. That there is a difference between creative story telling and fibbing. I should never have to question if he's telling me about a real experience or a made up story. But I'm not sure he gets it. I don't want to discourage his creativity in any way but I also have to be able to trust that when he's telling me about a conflict that happened that day in class that he's telling me a true story not a made up one.

So, where's the line between creative license and lies? How do you teach a 5 year old that difference? I love his creative mind but I have to be able to trust him when we talk about what happens during his day. In the meantime I've signed up my creative one for a two week theater summer camp at Oregon Children's Theater. I cannot wait! I hope he loves it as much as I think he will.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 14

Day 14...really? I made it! I did the full two weeks, and then some. I feel really pleased about this. I set a goal and I achieved it. It was not always easy, but I did it. Me. All by myself.

What has this experience taught me?
  • I do not need to eat meat everyday. In fact I could easily go vegetarian, just not vegan-I love cheese too much. And butter..oh and honey...and ice cream.
  • I don't need eggs every morning, a smoothie actually does fill me up just fine.
  • Buying organic is EXPENSIVE! I really wish there was a way around this one, short of moving to a farm and growing everything myself. My grocery budget has shot up a lot over the last couple months as I've switched us to organic meat and been more strict about getting free range organic eggs and organic milk. On that note, is there a difference between "organic" milk and milk that is labeled as hormone free? I'm assuming there is to justify the price difference. If anyone knows for sure, chime in.
  • I enjoy a drink but I do not like to be drunk, there is a huge difference. Feeling drunk makes me uncomfortable because of the loss of control-yes I am a control freak.
  • My libido is better when I'm sober.
  • Processing alcohol out of my system takes a lot of physical and emotional energy leaving me deflated and unable to give to my family.
  • I'm going to do some sort of cleanse every month on week three of my cycle which is my crazy time. I'm thinking juice cleanse in April. Should be good, tax time is coming which is highly stressful for me so if I get my diet very controlled and pure I will hopefully weather that stress better.
  • I'm the only one responsible for what I put in my body.

That last one is a big one for me. I, in the past, have used other peoples glasses as a gauge of what should be in mine. Then, quite naturally, when my lower tolerance catches up to me and their higher tolerance keeps them going I felt compelled to keep up-with sometimes disastrous results. But I have to remember, my body, my choice. While someone can offer another drink I am not obligated to accept it. While someone can offer me a huge slab of chocolate cake, I don't actually have to eat it. Nor do I have to eat nasty fast food every Friday. It's ok for me to bring my own healthy lunch even though our shop buys lunch for our employees every Friday. If we're buying good pizza from Lucky Lab or pasta from Noodles then I'm in, but Taco Bell? No thanks, I'll bring quinoa and veggies.

Honestly I think this last two weeks has been as beneficial as my months in therapy was. I feel stronger. I doubt that Rene understands why I needed to do it, and I'm sure he's curious to see what the long term effects are-or if I'll slip back into my old routine. But I feel good. And as a total bonus I've lost about 8 pounds, and that's with barely getting to the gym because of Paulo getting sick. Back a few years ago we were planning a family trip to Guadalajara and I did the whole low carb diet and worked out a lot. I weigh less now after two weeks of detox dieting than I did after a month of low carb and time at the gym. And my insides feel much, much better too.

Moving forward I am going to invest in a juicer for sure. I'm eyeballing a couple of different models. I will be incorporating more vegetarian nights-Rene can't complain because he doesn't cook. You don't cook, you don't complain about what I cook, that's the rule in my house! He's such a carnivore though. Paulo? He could be a vegetarian, he's not big on meat, it's rare for him to finish the small portion of meat I put on his plate. Rene though is a total carnivore. I will be more mindful about what is in my cup, be it coffee, wine or soda. I haven't had a soda in well over two weeks and that is one thing I do not miss, yesterdays stress out not withstanding....it will still be there as a craving in times of stress but I remember how the Diet Coke made my stomach feel and really it's not pleasant. Why do we continue to eat and drink things that make us feel sick?! We are a silly species. I will be more mindful in general. Mindful of my limitations. Mindful to take time for myself, be it in the form of a hot bath or an hour away on a weekend. I will *try* to remember to ask for help when I need it, I suck at that one. I will be kinder to myself so that I can be kind to my family. Feel free to remind me about that last one friends!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Old habits die hard

It is literally all I can do to keep my hands out of the candy bowl right now. I'm feeling a wee bit stressed out, well "wee" doesn't quite cut it, but regardless my old ingrained stress relief response is trying so hard to kick in. I.....want....sugar! And lots of it!!

I won't actually give in. But oh how I want to. It's interesting to me though, even after two solid weeks of extremely clean eating and no drinking the old ingrained pattern is still...well ingrained. When I am anxious or worried I want sugar. It can come in a variety of forms but I want it and I want a lot of it. I am also craving a Diet Coke, I haven't had one in over two weeks but still I'm stressed and my go to drink, at least at work, is Diet Coke. Totally bad for me in a variety of ways. No sugar rush but a whole host of other nasty things that are not the least bit helpful for me. Again, I won't actually give it....but I want to.

So how long does it take before my base instincts realize that those things aren't going to happen? Will I ever crave broccoli when I'm stressed out? I get the science behind the cravings, the sugar boosts (temporarily) the serotonin level producing (temporarily) a happy state of mind. So does a good loaf of high quality bread but my stress doesn't send me running to the nearest granola crunchy bakery for a slice of bread it sends me to the candy bowl to stare in wonder at all the pretty colors and plastic crap that fills the bowl.

Deep cleansing breaths.....at this point it is all I can do.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


What is it that keeps us rooted in the same? Fear. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. There's a lot of fear going on around us today. President Obama achieved what every Democratic President has wanted for decades but none have been able to realize, health care reform. Is the bill perfect? Probably not. And to be fair, I have not read the whole thing. But I believe it has to be a step in the right direction. A healthy people make for a healthy America. A large part of good health is preventative care. If you can prevent a major illness or disease why wouldn't you? If during your regular scheduled office visits it's discovered that your blood sugar is a little off, your cholesterol is a wee bit on the high side or that mole on your back is getting a little scary, there are things that can be done at that moment that will save you years of pain and heartache and will save you insane amounts of money. It also saves the insurance company insane amounts of money.

This plan does mandate that all Americans have insurance but really, is that a bad thing? It also allows for subsidies if you are at or below certain income levels. Is that a bad thing? We're paying for the illness of the uninsured anyway, this way we're paying for it upfront and in the hope that preventative care-which let's face it if you aren't insured you are not going in for preventative care-will end up saving America money in the long run.

Something I'd like to see added though, stop all the damn drug marketing on TV!! I am so tired of seeing ads for Cialis, Viagra, anti depressants and that smooth talking Antonio Banderas spokesbee for my sons Nasonex spray! That spray, WITH my insurance, still costs about $30 to fill. And that's after the coupon I get on their website. Why is it so much? Cause of Antonio's beautiful accented voice bringing that silly bee to life! We've become a nation of drug addicts because of these ads. Not long ago, my own teenage son saw an ad for a drug to treat restless leg syndrome and declared that HE had that! His legs do that sometimes! Uh, no honey, you're young and active and sometimes your freaking legs hurt, it's normal. But that goes to show how impressionable we are as humans. We see this drug marketed from this fictional doctor and we already have this implicit trust due to the white lab coat so we accept that we need this drug. Hey! Sometimes I have a hard time winding myself up to face the day! Give me that pill!! Enough is enough. Stop the ad campaigns. We want to stop all the junkie food ads directed at our children but we're ok with them continuing to be bombarded by ADHD med ads? Yes, some people truly need medication but isn't that a conversation best left to a doctor....at a preventative care visit?!

But the anger I see, the rage, the disgust, it's all rooted in fear. We fear change. We fear the unknown. We know that what is happening now does not work but we are paralyzed by fear. We are powerless. Is this what our Country has become? I can only imagine how different things would look if all those hundreds of years ago they'd gathered around the table and said...nah, it might not work out if we go to war with England....change and growth can be scary and painful but they are necessary for vibrant lives. We need to help all Americans get and stay healthy-yes they have to do the majority of the work by putting down the Fritos and picking up the apple-but can't we offer guidance? Can't those who have a good system in place offer a helping hand to the ones that struggle? It is a crime for our Nations children to go hungry. It is a crime for them to be neglected. It is a crime for them not to be cared for on a basic level with access to medical care. Looking back over the past month, Paulo's been sick a few times with nasty ear infections. My health insurance, which I pay dearly for, probably saved me well over $1000 in office visits and medication for his infections. That's not counting the recent visits to the allergist for testing. I'm assuming $200/office visit, I pay a $15 co pay and may have a few bucks left over to pay after my insurance kicks in, times 4 visits plus the insanely expensive antibiotic that we got for the first EI and the moderately expensive antibiotic that we got for the second. Yeah if I had to pay all that out of pocket I'd be in trouble. I can't afford to be without health insurance and neither can any other parent in America.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Food Revolution

Jaime Oliver's new show was on last night, Food Revolution. It was sneak peek, which I think means they will replay it on Friday for anyone that missed it. If you missed it...WATCH! It is frightening. It is also inspiring but shock and fear are the first things I felt. Watching the future of America go through the cafeteria line and be served pizza for breakfast then "chicken" nuggets and mashed potatoes (pearls mind you, not real potatoes but little pearls that you reconstitute with water!) for lunch and seeing them grab junky sugary dye filled milk products was horrifying. These are our future business leaders. Our future teachers. Our future President for goodness sake! And we're filling their stomachs with cheap, non nutritious food on a daily basis for 3/4 of their lives. And we don't see a problem with that? Don't we?? My sons generation has a shorter live expectancy than mine. Don't we see the connection?

I applaud Jamie Oliver for trying to shine a spot light on a huge problem that people talk about but no one seems to DO anything about. There is so many layers to the problem but so much of it comes down to the dollar. We have to feed each child for barely over $1.00. A latte costs more than what the school districts across America spend to feed each child lunch. I realize there are discounts when you buy in bulk but come on, not that much of a discount! We have to be willing to invest in their health because that is what it is. It is a long term investment that won't be paid back until these little ones are adults and in the work force and don't have to take so many sick days to deal with their obesity related health issues! The investment will be paid back when their medical bills are not astronomically high to deal with their obesity related health issues! When their brains develop with good healthy nourishing food and then they can go on to become scientists who cure diseases, teachers who inspire, artists who move and yes someone has to become the President, that's when our investment gets paid back.

In my own little bubble I find it hard to understand why some of the parents we will see on this show don't think about what they are feeding their children. I spend a lot of time thinking about it. Planning meals. Finding new recipes. Shopping for groceries. Putting away groceries. Preslicing veggies and fruits. Cooking meals. Cleaning up from meals. It's a huge part of my life. I have friends who are just like me, so I find the other side of the coin hard to comprehend. I get convenience. I do, I'm a working Momma, I get the desire to tear open a box and have something that resembles food on the table in short order but I can't do that. It's just not a good investment. I need my children to thrive. In order for them to thrive I have to fuel their development at a most basic level with the best possible food. It's not cheap, it's not always quick, but it is so worth it.

I hope that Jaime's ambitious Revolution takes hold in Huntington. They need the help. They need the guidance. I hope that people can set down their pride and see that what was does not have to be. Something different is nothing to be feared if it improves your health. Food is the most basic human need and our children deserve the best. So many of these children eat 66% of their meals at school, what better place to start and make the biggest difference in their health than at school?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Peers, parties and playdates

I'm a worrier. It's ingrained in me. I worry about the boys' health. I worry about their diet. I worry if they worry. I worry if they fit in. That's a big one for me. Do other children like my children?? Are they happy in school? Do they have someone to play with at recess, well not at recess anymore for big D being a high school freshman now, but still, do people talk to him in the halls?!

I'm quite sure my deep seated anxiety comes from my own lonely child past. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up. I was far from popular, in fact in grade school and middle school was down right picked on for not wearing the right clothes, carrying the right back pack, basically being poor. Because of that I'm very concerned that my boys look nice. If the pants creep up above those ankles they are off to the donation box! If the shoes are falling apart, bye bye! As a little one Dimitri was oblivious to clothing, he still is somewhat. Paulo is still blissfully ignorant about clothing as a status symbol, in fact he will pick out some pretty interesting outfits-and I let him. He will also bust out his "torpedo suit" for dinner parties (this is a white button down shirt and nice black vest, he means tuxedo but torpedo is so stinking cute I can't help but let him keep saying it!). I think Dimitri is more aware now of how his peers judge people based on their clothing. But I doubt he's ever lost any sleep over whether he will be accepted based on what's covering his butt.

I do worry though about them fitting in with their peers. I did not grow up in the age of the play date, and frankly even if that was a common thing when I was 5 it would not have happened. Now as a working Momma I find it difficult to host play dates for Paulo and his classmates. On the weekend he plays with his neighborhood buddies in my house or in theirs but I wish I could find more school buddy play date opportunities. This is why I was so happy to get an email from another Kindergarten mom inviting Paulo to a play date with her son. We've bounced emails around for the last week, thinking about after school or during Spring Break but finally settled on tomorrow. So tomorrow Paulo gets to go play with a school friend! He's so excited and so I am. I want him to have what I didn't have, a rich supportive group of friends to help him learn to navigate the social waters. Yes his education is what he's in school for but social growth is vital. And that can't all take place in a classroom. He needs outside time to develop strong bonds with his classmates. I hope that these are the boys and girls that Paulo will be spending the next 7 years with, our Charter School goes up through 8th grade, I want him to feel intimately connected to these kids. To be invested in the relationship. To know the value of friendship. Those are things that I cannot give him myself. I give him unconditional love. I am his preferred playmate for many things. I read to him. I feed him. But I cannot be his friend. I can model friendship but I cannot be his friend. I'm his mother, there's a difference.

Birthday parties are another opportunity and today we have our first classmate party to attend. It's at Chuck E Cheese....which gives me the heebie jeebies, but still I was so happy to get the evite for the birthday party. Again, I worry about him fitting in, and I feel like a birthday invitation is a validation of how this kid feels about my son. It was not a blanket invite everyone in class party, it was select. And she selected Paulo. This made my heart happy. He got his second party invitation this week, another girl-I find it ironic that the only party invites he's gotten are from the ladies....again seeing that invitation gives me peace of mind. I feel good knowing that he's liked. His teacher told us at our conference that everyone loves my kid but seeing those evites in my in box, that's what gives me peace of mind.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Now the work begins

It turns out that Paulo is highly allergic to a variety of tree and grass pollens. He tested positive for Spring allergens, Summer allergens and Fall allergens as well as dust, mites, cats and dogs.

Cats and dogs are easy, we don't have either and now I have a great excuse to not get one. I have nothing against pets, I grew up in a house filled with them, but frankly I'm not home enough to care for a cat or a dog and really, I'd rather not create the extra work for myself!

Dust and mites, not too hard to deal with. I keep the house clean anyway, I will just step up the vacuuming to at least twice a week in his bedroom. Make sure I strip and wash everything from his bed, not just the sheets but the blankets and comforter too, weekly. And he's getting a new mattress. He's needed a new mattress for a long, long time now. This gives me that extra push to get it done. How I'll pay for it...I have no idea, but it will get done. I'd already taken out 99% of his stuffed toys and decluttered his room a couple months ago to make it easier to fight the dust. So this will mean extra cleaning, but that is ok. He's my baby and he deserves to sleep in a clean room that won't make him feel like crap.

The pollen allergies are worrisome. Essentially without medication he'd be miserable 75% of the year. That sucks. Again, makes me consider the bubble like Rhino had in the movie Bolt. But that's not terribly practical. He won't be able to play basketball at recess if he's in a bubble! He would however enjoy bowling...with himself as the bowling ball. For now though we have returned to the morning antihistamine dose, the 24 hour Claritin, and we will continue with the nightly Nasonex treatment. I just am not crazy about the idea of giving him medication 3/4 of his life.

So what else can be done?? There is a lot of chatter on line about dietary changes. Like, even though he's not "allergic" to milk that the milk itself increases mucus production and makes his seasonal allergy symptoms worse. Same with fatty meats, fried foods, you know, the crap none of us should be eating anyway. There is also chatter about vitamin E and extra C doses to help, a few other vitamins and herbs I haven't heard much about. I put in an email to my naturapath to get her opinion. I trust and respect her. It's not that I don't trust Dr. Dan, he's a great guy, but he's a mainstream doc that will suggest mainstream treatment plans. Paulo's allergies are bad enough that when he's older, if he hasn't adapted naturally, then the Doc would suggest immunotherapy. I really hope we don't have to go that route. I would hate to put him through that. If nothing else works then we will have to consider it, but it really sounds sucky.

But back to the diet, Paulo and I talk a lot about his immune system and viruses. I told him a while ago that the virus are like dragons and that his immune system is like a Knight and the Knight needs certain things to make sure his sword is strong enough to defeat the dragons. Things like good sleep, vegetables, fruits, vitamins and water. Those things help his Knight do battle by making his sword strong. Things like sugar, soda, yucky foods, those thing make the sword get really tiny, bug sized even, and then the Knight can't fight off the dragon and he gets sick. So since he understands that concept it will hopefully be easier when I tell him that we need to see if milk products make his sword weak. He loves milk and cheese. Loves yogurt. Loves ice cream-who doesn't!? A two week ban on dairy will be hard for him. Might make it easier on him if I tell him we get to try eating local raw honey-thanks for the tip, Jen! The boy loves his honey. Loves in on his toast, on his waffles or pancakes, in his tea, straight from the spoon will be a real treat.

The search continues and the work begins.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Testing day

Paulo has his appointment today at 2:00 for allergy skin testing. He's nervous. It's the fear of the unknown. I'm hopeful we can find out what's causing his sneezes and make sure we're treating him the right way. He's been off allergy meds for a week, and has been sneezing like crazy! His eczema flared up too on his hands and the back of his knees. Having never gone through allergy testing before I'm not entirely sure what to expect but I keep telling him it'll be ok, that it's not like a shot or a blood draw. Trying to explain that I *think* it's close to acupuncture than anything else. When I explained to him what acupuncture was he looked at me like I'm nuts and declared that he will never, ever have that done! Didn't matter how many times I told him how relaxing it really was, he's not buying what I'm selling.

In detoxville things are still going well. I'm really proud of myself for sticking to this and I feel good. I'd hoped to be able to escape my PMS entirely...alas I was not. But I do think it's better than last month, so this encourages me. The PMS headaches are subsiding. My face did not break out *knocking on wood*. I'm not puffy. I still feel frustrated today but I feel like I move through and past it quicker, which is really encouraging. I tend to be a dweller, I stew, I sit and percolate with my negativity. No one benefits when I turn myself into an emotional coffee pot. Unfortunately due to illnesses beyond my control I've not been in the gym as much as I wanted to be during this process. But I have another week to go so hopefully I can kick up the work outs a notch and bring myself to a new mental level.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Renewed energy

It's been a week of no drinks and no coffee and frankly, I was getting bored. Don't get me wrong, I have a new found love of green tea, but I still love a good cup o' Jo. And to be honest I do look forward to having a nice glass of wine, but just a single glass. This cleanse has given me a new perspective on what my body does when I put too much booze in it.

This morning though I found a new love....in the form of a juicer. I borrowed my mother in law's mammoth, shiny, stainless steel juicer and decided to give it a whirl, literally, that's what it sounds like, a whirl. I love it! I'm now in the market for one of my very own! I made fresh fruit and vegetable juice this morning using apples, carrots and celery. Paulo even drank it instead of OJ! Well to be fair he drank about 75% of it, but hey this is his first foray into home juiced blends, I think he did great for a little dude! I'm trying to teach him from the start to be kind to his body, to demand only the best, freshest, healthiest foods possible (with the chicken nugget exception, I think I may need a 12 step program for him and those damn nuggets!) I think it's so much easier to never start poisoning your body than it is to try to detox it later. If he can learn to love food in its natural form now as a child then he will be so much better off as an old man.

I also had a lovely lunch with my Daddy, who at 73 has better health than most of my peers. He's actually gotten a little close to the fringe so to speak in his old age. But his health is a testament to his fringyness. He and I had a lovely chat about my detox and the why/what/when of it all. It was nice to have the undivided attention and wholehearted support of my Daddy, I can always count on him to listen and support me in whatever I'm doing, the benefits of being Daddy's Little Girl for sure. He's a healthy old dude though, which I'm grateful for, and it's fun to talk shop with him. We actually can learn from each other with regards to healthy living. And maybe after our chat he'll dust off his VitaMix and start using that a little more!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day five

The weekend passed. My first detox weekend....ever. Normally we have our Friday night drink after work. Our Saturday night drink after Paulo goes to bed. And our Sunday night drink before dinner....uh, yeah it's pretty obvious why I needed to do this. I'd like to say it was easy, no problem, didn't give it a second thought, but I'd be lying. I did give it a second thought, and a third...maybe even a fourth. Especially last night. Sunday night all of my fatigue hit and hit hard. I had gone on Saturday to help a dear friend paint her door mouldings, she's putting her house on the market soon. Then back to continue child wrangling and household managing. Trip to Target with Paulo. Push through a couple loads of laundry. Change the sheets on the beds. Etc., etc., etc. Poor Rene was a wreck this weekend, major sore throat, body aches, fatigue, the works. Saturday night wasn't too bad though, I did crave junk food, but I know it was my fatigue.

Sunday dawned bright and shiny and upbeat, I'm really enjoying the energy and mood boost I get from this detox. I took Paulo to see Astroboy-very cute movie, and I must admit, made me teary eyed, I'm a sap and hormonal. Then we did our weekly trips to New Seasons and WinCo for groceries. My sweet boy asked for a "tea party" at New Seasons-for those of you outside of the Portland Metro area New Seasons is a fabulous grocery store, they specialize in organic food, all of their meat is free range and organic. They do have some mainstream offerings in terms of cheese, lunch meat, chips, but the majority of their food is the good for you kind. So I couldn't deny him. We stopped at their deli after our shopping was done and ordered a Chamomile tea to share and, for him, a peanut butter cookie. He did insist on giving me nibbles of the cookie but knowing it was baked at New Seasons made me feel ok with taking those nibbles. He's such a happy child, it cost me less than $3.00 for our tea party and he sat there as happy as can be. Off to WinCo after that, now WinCo is a store that is known for cheap prices and mainstream food. We're able to skip a lot of aisles though because they're filled with crap. They do offer some good stuff, like Annie's, Pacific Foods soup, Dave's Killer bread and free range eggs, but all of the meat and 99% of the veggies are mainstream. I love their bulk foods section though, excellent supply of grains, beans, nuts and spices.

We finally got home at 3:30 or so and Paulo set off in pursuit of a playmate. Found one shortly after when the neighbor boy came home from his basketball game and knocked on the door. I love watching Paulo interact with his peers....most of the time. This neighbor boy however is almost too close in age and they butt heads. I could feel my stress level rising. Add to the noise level I'm in the process of:
  1. making a fresh pot of green broth
  2. starting my bread dough
  3. making Bulgar for the grain salad I'm eating for dinner
  4. pushing more laundry though

Oh and Rene's really, really, really sick....yeah, my head is about to explode.

Of course it didn't really explode and ultimately all turned out ok. My bread kneading needs work. I was not thrilled with the final product. But this is my first attempt at making a loaf of bread that requires kneading...and lots of it. My soup turned out nice and spicy-I did slice up the serranos Jen! The Bulgar salad was Delicious. And Paulo had a great time playing with his buddy even though to me it sounds more like arguing. But I was tired. Physically tired, my feet hurt, my head hurt, my body ached. I was mentally zapped. If I wasn't on this detox I would have had my pre dinner drink, and boy would that have sucked. So then I would have added alcohol processing to my already overtaxed body. I'm quite sure there would have been tears, from more than one person.

It's a learning and self discovery process that I'm on. It's been positive. It's not easy. I know what my triggers are and fatigue is definitely a big one. This was a busy weekend but I got through it without a drink or a candy bar. This weekend was tough but I think next weekend will be easier. Ingrained habits are really hard to break.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hmmm, cravings

Day three is wrapping up with some very strong cravings . Cravings to eat crap. Lots of crap. Anything wrapped in cellophane or poured from a box will do right now. Chocolate would be preferred but really, I'm not picky.

It's a hurdle, I will overcome it. I will go make a fruit salad for dessert for the boys and I. Some nice mango and kiwi. Yes that will do nicely. It's not chocolate bar, but it will do nicely.

Day three

Day three begins on a peaceful note. A quiet morning of cartoons and breakfast with Paulo, Rene is sick in bed.

Day two ended on a weird note though! This challenge invaded my dream! I dreamt that I was with my friend, Julia, and that she offered me a shot of tequila and a beer....and I took it. I drank the tequila, took a couple of gulps of the beer, and then felt...like....crap. Literally felt sick, and guilty, in my dream. Very guilty. I knew I'd failed myself and, frankly, was mad at myself for losing my promised shopping trip. The dream was odd for a couple of reasons, one being that I never, ever, drink tequila with Julia. We drink wine....lots and lots of wine....Two though in the dream she'd made a huge pot of beans and we were eating those. Now I know where elements of this dream came from. Last night I made beans in my crock pot so I could make sopa de tortilla for dinner. Last night Rene had his customary Friday night drink, a shot of tequila and a beer. (No that's not why he's sick in bed, he's sick sick, got bit by a nasty virus.) I swear though that bottle was staring at me! I was cooking and there it sat, larger than life -granted it's a big bottle-on the counter....watching me, waiting for me to give in to temptation, daring me to take a sip....I actually, out loud, told the bottle that it didn't control me, that it had no power over me. If anyone had been in the kitchen I'm sure they would have thought I'd gone off the deep end. But ultimately I won. I beat that bottle of tequila. I didn't drink, except when I went to sleep. I drank then. And suffered the consequences of guilt and, interestingly enough, a headache when I woke up, just like the ones I get when I do drink hard alcohol. Odd huh?

I've seen a lot of benefits though from this and it's only been a few short days. My patience is improved, my sleep is better, my mood is light and even my skin looks clearer. I know I'm doing the right thing by taking this break and giving my body a chance to heal and feel healthy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day two

The headache is gone! Woo hoo!! The last time I quit caffeine the headache was much more severe and lasted longer. I can only assume that this time was easier because of all the other good stuff I'm doing for my body.

My frustration level is vastly improved too. I find that the small things that have previously set me off are not. When I do get frustrated with life's challenges I'm able to move past it quicker. It's only been a few days but still I see an improvement. Could it be the placebo effect? Sure. Do I care? Nope, I'm just enjoying it!

All in all life is good in detoxville. I'm proud of myself for facing this challenge. I think that's a huge part of my peace right not. I set this goal for myself and I'm facing it. I'm achieving it. I'm not relying on anyone else to get me where I want to go, I'm doing it myself. It's empowering. Do I miss having a glass of wine with my hubby? Yes, to be honest I do. BUT, I set a challenge for myself and I will achieve it. I've dangled a carrot out too. If I make it the full two weeks then I will treat myself to a new outfit. Might even buy a dress, with sleeves, it has to have sleeves or I can't wear it at work, too chilly in the office, or at least a sweater that matches. In the meantime I will keep fighting the good fight and thoroughly enjoying my sense of health and well being.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day one PM

I feel....good! Really good! I'm surprised by how positive I'm feeling today. It's great. I noticed it on the drive into school this morning. I felt light, uplifted, dare I say...happy? I got tons more done today than I usually do. My focus was a million times better.

I still have the tiniest trace of a headache from no coffee but it's totally manageable. I feel really good.

Day one

Today is the official day one for my liver detox plan. Although I've been "practicing" for a few days. I haven't had any alcohol since Monday. Yesterday I didn't have any coffee, although to be honest I did have green tea, three cups, that does have caffeine. Still the withdrawal headache sucked. This morning I feel only a trace of that headache. I will have one cup of caffeinated green tea this morning. The rest of the day I will drink buckets of decaf tea. I find the tea to be very soothing and nurturing to my spirit.

This morning I am having my usual lemon water and will make a double batch of smoothie. Last night I made my green broth. Basically as many green veggies you can find, kale, chard, leeks, etc., in a pot filled with water and simmer for an hour. I added cilantro, garlic, serrano chile and a hunk of ginger last night. It smelled fabulous. That will be my soup of the day. I have a nice healthy salmon dinner planned.

The urge to have a drink is decreasing. The urge to have coffee is not...yet. I've been battling a while though with my caffeine intake, I knew it was too high. I know, everything in moderation, but for me I need to quit so that I can get back to a moderate consumption. It's like rebooting your computer, sometimes it gets stuck and you have no choice but to push the power button even though it's going to yell at you and give you a nasty note about how it wasn't shut down properly! This is my reboot. I need to wipe the slate clean and then get back to really seeing how much I want of any particular food or beverage.

Oh, interesting side note, last night a lovely customer brought us freshly baked cookies as a thank you. Paulo had his for dessert, the boy loves his dessert! I was pretty full from dinner however in the past still would have choked down a cookie...or two. I had zero desire for a cookie last night. Not sure if it has anything to do with my spring cleaning or not, but whatever it is, I'll take it.

I have a big test coming up though. We've been invited to dinner Saturday night to a friends house where wine and rich foods are the norm. On one hand I would love to go, he will have quite the interesting dinner party assembled, on the other hand, I don't....because then I'll have to explain why I'm not drinking. I suppose I shouldn't feel uncomfortable about telling people I'm taking a self imposed two week break from alcohol but drinking is so ingrained in our society that to say no thanks, I'm not drinking, is just...weird.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A test

I feel like I passed a test tonight. I've technically named Thursday as the start date of my liver detox period. Still though I'm practicing the no alcohol now. I was home alone Sunday night when Rene went to get his friend from the airport. They were supposed to come straight back here and we'd hang out, chat, have a couple drinks-the typical social structure at my house. Instead they went to a restaurant cause J and H hadn't eaten anything. I admit I was disappointed. I was looking forward to some adult conversation-which has been severely lacking in my life. I decided to do the grown up thing and make a cup of sleepy time tea and go to bed at a decent hour. I found it interesting that the next morning when I came down and saw the evidence of their social hour and nightcap I was jealous. I had a moment of regret that I had done what I KNEW was best for me and had "missed out" on something. I got over myself.

Last night we were all together at my house for dinner. There was some drinking, I knew there would be. I allowed myself the freedom to enjoy it, just not over do it. It was a good time, I realized how long it had been since I'd enjoyed good adult company. I love my kids but they just don't meet all the mental needs!

Tonight, I am alone with the boys. Rene was invited to the Blazer game-great seats too-and so it's just me and the boys. And I'm tired. Paulo and I have not been sleeping well and there was a lot of running around today to get Dimitri to school, Paulo to the doctor, pick Dimitri up from golf, then pick up the antibiotics...by the time we got home around 6:30 I was feeling it. I stood there looking at my options. My drink options. Cause that's my go to when I'm stressed, a nice glass of wine-which is fine in moderation, I considered a beer, I weighed my options and then I asked myself why I wanted a drink. And I answered myself that I felt entitled to one after the day I'd had....entitled to one? Really? I reminded myself that what I'm really entitled to is good health...and poured a tall glass of mineral water.

This reprogramming of my habits will take time. You see, I know there is nothing wrong with a glass of wine or a beer. But I also know I'm not always the one in control of when or how much I drink and that's not ok. That's a scary thing for me to admit to myself. It's become so habitual though over the last few years, the nightly drink(s). But I need to remember what my goal is: excellent health. To get there I have to reevaluate some of my habits and make the changes I know I need to make.

Can we be done yet??

Seriously?! Another ear infection. SSDD. I'm so over this. Paulo was complaining last night of ear pain in the same ear that ruptured last month. He's had a little off and off temp. This morning is was still hurting and temp was still a little high so I called to get him back in. Yup, it's infected...again. 2nd time in less than a month. Same ear. I feel so bad for him. He's in pain, although not as severe as last months, he's missing school and his friends, and he can't sleep well-which means I can't sleep well. My fatigue is catching up with me and weakening my resolve to do right by my body.....must....resist....candy bowl....

The doctor we saw today, not our usual one, didn't think it had anything to do with his allergies, I disagree. She thinks the eye ball incident was bacterial. I disagree, particularly because the symptoms resolved with a dose of Claritin. But honestly, I don't care what she thinks. And really the "how" of it all doesn't matter. Did the allergy attack cause it or did exposure to bacteria or virus?? Who cares!? The end result is the same, my child is in pain and needs medicine to clear up an infection. Just write the prescription and we'll be on our way. We see the allergist tomorrow. We go back to our normal doctor in two weeks for another recheck of the ear. I'm just so tired, so very very tired, both physically since he's not sleeping well and emotionally drained from battling for his health. He's never been a sickly child. He was a very healthy baby. I know that going to school exposes kids to a lot and I believe that through exposure ultimately his immune system will be stronger but in the meantime....I'm contemplating a bubble. A nice, safe, clean bubble to put him in. It'd be like Rhino's ball in Bolt. I'd put a door in it, it'd be see through, he could still see the world, just DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!!! Better yet, how about a beautiful, CLEAN, tropical island. We could move there, he wouldn't get sick if we lived on a tropical island-ALONE! He might get bored with only me as his playmate but for at least 5 years he'd be content to play pretend people with me and munch on fresh mangoes. So if I suddenly drop off the face of the internet look for me on my own private tropical island. Just don't come visit unless you have a full bio hazard body suit and can guarantee you won't expose my son to any illness!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The source of the sneezing

Paulo woke up today a mess! A sticky, drippy, sneezy mess! I debated virus -vs- allergy as I sat there wiping his dripping eyes and with the absence of a temp went ahead with a dose of Claritin. Still being miserable and drippy I kept him out of school to be on the safe side. I know I wouldn't want his desk mate sneezing on the crayons!

Coincidentally I got a call today from my pediatricians office. The results of Paulo's allergy blood test were in. Rhonda told me that he showed mild allergies to cat and dog dander-which I already suspected-but he showed severe allergy to....GRASS! Grass?! How do you escape that one?! We live in Oregon. We have grass here. Lots of it. It's one of the selling points to the State frankly! His levels were 3 times the "high" rating. Yikes! This blood test was done on a typical weekday morning. He had not been outside playing prior to our appointment. I shudder to think what his levels would be today.

So why was this morning so brutal for him? We looked back over his weekend with the clarity that this information provided and went...ohhhh yeah....On Saturday he spent at least a full hour outside playing tuck and roll with neighbor boy-the neighbor boy whose father had just mowed the grass-they would ride their scooters down the hill for about a house length then when they reached the neighbors yard they would dive off their scooter and roll in the grass...the freshly mowed grass.... Then on Sunday he was out with Rene while he mowed our yard. Oh and on Saturday since it was unseasonably beautiful we went ahead and opened up the windows to let the air, and the allergens, in. He looked terrible this morning. His eyes were swollen. They'd been gooping up while he slept and had dried and sealed his right eye shut. He'd stumbled into the bathroom to get his hand wet and rub off some of the crud so he could open his eye at all! He was sneezing. He sounded nasally. He was miserable.

So, now what? We have an appointment with an allergist on Wednesday to see what the next step is. The nurse said it's bad enough he may need shots, hopefully not. In the meantime we will manage with less exposure and some daily meds. I'll stand by tomorrow morning with a damp washcloth too just in case!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The lost arts

I just finished step three. I added the 9th cup of flour, the salt, the baking powder and the baking soda to my mix. My sisters in law and I are making homemade cinnamon rolls this morning. I've been up since 6:30 to get the process started. It occurs to me that I'm a bit of a throw back. My mother's generation raised us in the era of convenience. Boxed suppers. Canned soups. Mass produced bread. Loads of sugar and preservatives in our foods. And look at us! We're such an unhealthy society.

But some of my generation is fighting back. We're returning to the lost art of homemade food.

I am reading my mother's bread baking book right now to find recipes to try. I don't remember her making any of those breads! I remember the loaves of white bread she'd make periodically. I have very fond memories of white bread and loads of margarine. But these recipes in this book are amazing! Whole wheat, super healthy, no sugar, very rarely do I see a recipe that calls for white flour. These are exactly the kinds of breads we should all be baking and eating. I wish she'd made more of those breads! And I wish she'd taught me how to make them.

I made homemade chicken stock last weekend and gave my child homemade chicken soup, Rene finished the leftovers for lunch last week, he loved it. He loves chicken soup from a can too, as long as there is no thyme-not a fan of thyme. But making it myself just gives it that little extra something. I love to cook and make good healthy food for my family. I get a boost when the things I make are enjoyed and appreciated by others.

I've been making my own spaghetti sauce for a while now. I couldn't stand how sweet the bottled sauces were. Plus I love being able to add shredded veggies and tons of basil and oregano to the mix. I love the smell of the sauce while it bubbles on the stove.

We are what we eat......today I will be an ooey gooey cinnamon roll that I started preparing at 6:30 this morning (pictures to follow!).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Can I do it??

I saw my naturapath this week, love her, love my Kelly...without her I'd be in much worse shape than I am. She reminds me every time I see her to take care of myself, something I struggle with. She also has me taking a variety of vitamins and supplements to battle the depression monster. I spent a couple of years on Zoloft and would prefer not to return. I really did not like the way my body reacted to taking away the drug, the withdrawal was brutal. Vomiting. Dizziness. The works. I also hate the idea of caffeine withdrawal, I've given up the hard stuff a number of times and the headache that follows is brutal. I don't like knowing that my body is dependent on a drug, yet being a really tough drug to kick for good I've been back on that particular sauce for years! The last time I gave it up was right before I got pregnant with Paulo. As soon as I had him though I had my regular coffee consumption carefully timed to try to minimize any buzz from my breast milk.

But back to Kelly....I get nasty headaches every month, they are cyclical, hormone based, you know, in general they suck ass. She told me this week about a treatment plan that has had success with some of her other menstrual migraine customers. It's called a Castor oil pack. Rather odd to read about but basically I need to soak some flannel in Castor oil and then apply it to my right side over my liver, cover that with some plastic and then apply a heat pad. The oil is supposed to get absorbed through my skin and boost my liver function. Okey dokey....I'll try anything to get rid of the damn headaches! So in about a week think of me....marinating in Castor oil...and keep your fingers crossed that I can stop downing Ibuprofren like it's candy. If you're bored and want to read about it here you go:

She also brought up the subject of cleansing. Now she does not advocate the hard core water only fasts, although some of her clients want that extreme version, but she mentioned the Anti Inflammatory Diet. Basically reducing inflammation in the body through diet. She also mentioned cleansing the liver. She said that the liver is known as "the organ of anger". This peeked my interest. Chinese medicine refers to Liver Qi Stagnation, essentially that the energy that flows through our body gets stagnant in the liver and can cause symptoms such as:

Pain or discomfort anywhere along the sides of the body *check*
Depression *check*
Mood swings *check*
Frustration *check*
Inappropriate anger *check*
Sensation of a lump in throat *check*
Difficulty swallowing
Bitter taste in mouth *check*
Constipation *check...TMI I know*
Abdominal pain and discomfort *check*
Stomachache that improves after massage
Stomachache that worsens with anger *check*
PMS with irritability or swollen breasts *check*
Irregular or painful periods
Poor appetite
Churning sensation in stomach *check*

I lifted this list from here: http://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/The+Liver+and+Liver+Qi+Stagnation

Looking over and marking the symptoms that apply I think I am a good candidate for a cleanse in general, a liver detox if you will in particular. So what does that mean exactly?? There are a lot of different options. There's the hardcore Master Cleanse, uh not sure I can go that route. There's raw food diets. There's the juice fast that old Gwyn talked about on her GOOP site recently, but man that's a lot of celery to be juicing! Who buys that much celery?! There's tons of fad diets on the internet and no shortage of people that want to sell me something "for my health". But going back to what Kelly refers to as the Anti Inflammatory Diet it is kind of like the Mediterranean Diet filled with good healthy fats, no processed foods, limited sugars and tons of fruits and veggies, in general it's an extremely healthy way of eating. Not something to be done for 10-14 days and then go back to our modern and destructive way of eating, it's a lifestyle.

The thing is I already eat like this most of the time. So this should not be difficult. The difficulty comes in this: I think I need to add at least a two week period of no alcohol consumption...zero, nada, zilch. I was intrigued by the description of the liver being the organ of anger. Personally when my body is processing the alcohol and the liver is working over time I do get angry. Irritable. Cranky. Quick to snap at others. And then I get sad. This is also often when I reach for another drink. Anything to delay those unpleasant feelings until I can go to bed and ignore them (sooooo not healthy I know!). So if I can give my poor over worked organ a break and help detox my body through diet, exercise, the sauna and marinating in Castor oil I think I will feel better. I don't feel great right now. Neither mentally nor physically. I'm tired. I need some physical and spiritual spring cleaning. And I need to prove to myself that I can do this. I can be disciplined enough to do this for myself.

Describing the liver as where we hold our anger made sense to me. It also made me a little sad for my Momma. I wish she'd had a Kelly. If she'd had a Kelly she might not have self medicated with booze all her life and maybe would not have damaged her body and consequently her brain. Was her dementia directly related to her drinking? No one can tell me with certainty but I believe it was. Honestly her drinking was only one aspect of unhealthy living. So many factors combined in her life that led to her death. But really, I wish she'd had a Kelly. Someone to encourage her to take care of herself. To teach her what supplements and in what amounts can help manage the worst of the symptoms. To remind her that it's all a learning process. To tell her to forgive her shortcomings and keep working on becoming the best and healthiest person she could be. I hope that when she gets her next go round on Earth she finds her Kelly and that she learned this time to take better care of herself next time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My rock star

Paulo had a really nasty ear infection last month, it hit hard on Valentine's Day, and actually ruptured the following Tuesday. It was a doosy! We had our follow up today to make sure it's healing well and that there's no hole in his ear drum-fortunately there's not. He's healing nicely.

While we were there though we got on the subject of allergies. Paulo has been plagued by sore throats for as long as I can remember. They are particularly bad in the morning because he's a mouth breather. When he was three he had terrible snoring and apnea. After laying with him and watching him stop breathing and gasping in his next breath I took him to an ENT who did an MRI and told me his adenoids and tonsils had to come out. When he was laying on his back they completely obstructed his airway. That was rough. The surgery day. It was really hard to watch him be taken away-although I must admit he was HILARIOUS after they doped him up! Back to today....I asked his pediatrician about allergy tests since I don't want to just dose him with Claritin for the rest of his life if I can avoid it through diet or environmental changes. She was not initially game but decided WTH we're there already let's go for it. They required a blood draw for the tests. My little dude is a rock star. I explained to him what the nurse was going to do and that she'd be quick and it'll be done in a minute and he took a deep breath, grimaced, gritted his teeth and held perfectly still. I have a very distinct memory of being held DOWN for a shot when I was older than he is now, but my baby took it like a champ and did not fuss or fight. He was so proud of himself and I'm proud of him too. He hasn't cried with his annual shots in years. He's had blood work done before his surgery he did great then too but he was young enough that he didn't really understand what was going on prior to the poke. This time he knew. He knew what she was going to do. He knew it was going to hurt. But he was a rock star.

He handles things really well. I could learn a lot about going with the flow from that boy.

So now we wait. We wait to see if allergies are causing problems, well I know he has allergies, the question is to what exactly is he allergic. If he can't get relief from treating his allergies then we'll go back to the ENT. I was told today-and this was news to me-that adenoids can grow back. I sincerely hope that is not the case. I really don't want to put him through surgery again if I can avoid it. Of course, history tells me that Paulo will handle that set back much better than I will.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Burrowing in

It's only the 3rd day of March and already I'd like to hit fast forward and be done with this month. I'm unsettled. Out of balance. Irritable and totally stressed out. As I sit here wallowing in my stress and anxiety I'm reminded of an MSN article I read recently that stated approximately 6% of women admit to misusing prescription drugs to deal with their constant state of stress. Women are using pain killers, anti anxiety meds, or even dipping into the kids' ADD meds for a little mental boost! I understand these women right now. In fact if someone came up and said hey...want a little somethin' somethin'... I would be seriously tempted. I know, logically, that this would not solve my problems, oh yes it would make them much much worse, but oh the option to just forget about it all for a little while, tempting!

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I come from a long line of addicts and I KNOW this would be a bad, bad thing to offer to someone like me. A slippery slope for sure. But I get it. I understand the desire to escape. We are in arguably the most stressful time of life. Many of us are raising kids, running households, desperately holding onto jobs or running our own companies, trying to keep a relationship alive with our partners all while filling in the gaps in our children's classroom and watching our parents age, which means often taking on a more active role in their care be it through filing paperwork, hand holding through wills or power of attorney, medical scares, etc., etc., etc. Personally I feel like my brain is going to explode this month, and it's only the 3rd day of March!

So I went to the gym yesterday to try to deal with my stress, it barely scratched the surface.

I went to bed early, like a good little girl, but again it's all only scratching the surface of my nearly unbearable state of mind right now.

In the meantime, I keep reminding myself to breathe deeply. To slow down the racing thoughts. That there are worse things that what is going on in my day to day right now. Yes, there are far, far worse things.....

I wish I could magically reprogram my brain's response to stress. I am a total crash and burn person. I get myself all worked up over a situation and then once that fire is out I crash. I'm exhausted, mentally and emotionally drained. It feels like it takes forever to restart my happy thoughts. I live in black and white for up to a week, sometimes more, after an "incident". I wish I could speed up the recovery process-hence my pondering valium-but I haven't found an effective way to do it. I feel sorry for my family too as they sit and wait for the storm to pass. It's like a car with a bad battery, cranking and cranking and cranking hoping that the engine will start. That's me. I'm a car....with a bad battery. I see Paulo getting out of sorts and cranky and then the guilt compounds the sadness. And really, is he cranky because of me? I don't know. But as a Momma I will always assume responsibility for his pain, I will always feel like it's my fault if he's not happy.

What is your favorite stress relief trick? (that don't cost anything, since $$ is one of my major stressors right now!) I will keep doing what I know will eventually help-the gym and sleep-but I'm open to other suggestions.