Category: The Stooch Life

I Can Do Hard Things (And You Can Too!)

I read a thought provoking post lately. The aim was teaching your kids to tackle hard things. The author is a homeschooler, and she challenged one of her kids to persevere and accomplish a hard task in their schooling. It wasn’t fun at times (for the mom or the child), but the sense of accomplishment and the lessons learned were invaluable to the child (and mom!).

I have up’s and down’s with this new lifestyle. Put simply: it’s hard work.

I can’t find the exact article I read, this one is interesting though, but I read an article that looked at how much time we (Americans) spend in the kitchen preparing food. As one might guess, this has decreased over time landing around 1 hour per day as of 2008. Many people choose to eat out or prepare packaged, quick meals.

The thought of how much time I spend in the kitchen has been rolling around in my head. Although I haven’t timed it (and it does vary day to day), here’s what I think I spend in the kitchen. The times below are meal prep and cooking, not cleaning up.

  • Breakfast – 30-40 minutes
  • Lunch – 15-20 minutes
  • Dinner – 1.5 – 3 hours

Generally, I hit the national average by lunchtime. I only stay under 20 minutes at lunch if we are eating leftovers (which I try to do most days!), if I prepare fresh food, that easily hits 45-60 minutes. Dinner varies dramatically based on the number of veggies I need to chop and the difficulty of the meal. While I love this cookbook. Most recipes are 2+ hours to prepare.

So, it’s hard work. Eating well is not easy. It takes a commitment of time and skill on my part, training on the part of my children (they are often in the kitchen with me!), and sacrificing “me” time (I often cook through nap time.).

But I believe it is not only worth it for our health; it is also worth it for:

  1. Our budget (WAY cheaper than eating out! Especially if you factor in long-term health effects of eating out.).
  2. My kids to learn how to prepare real, good food.
  3. My family to experience a variety of food.
  4. Me to serve my family with a good attitude during my “free” time. (This is the hardest one most days)

It is hard, but it is worth it.

What hard thing are you tackling right now? I guarantee that it is worth it. Hard things usually are.

Gluten Free Daily Menu

Here’s another “day in the life” so to speak. What do we eat on this gluten free/fresh-as-possible diet?

Well, let me show you…

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon (burnt, of course), and a green smoothie (or brown, if you will)

Notes:

  • The bacon is burnt because it always is when I cook it! Too many things going on! I actually like it burnt too so I’m not too motivated to change. Ha!
  • Green (Brown) Smoothie: 1 cup water, 1-2 cups strawberries, juice of 2 limes, 1 big bunch of Swiss chard. Chard + strawberries = brown. Luckily my kids don’t know brown to be a yucky color! I show their breakfast also so you know they eat what I eat. No special meals here!

Lunch – kimbop made from leftovers, carrot sticks and dill dip

Notes:

  • Kimbop is a Korean dish. It’s rice (plus veggies or maybe meat) rolled in kim (roasted seaweed wrap). We love it, and I like to use up leftovers in this way for lunch with the kids. The chicken is from our previous dinner of Adobo Chicken and the brown/white rice mix from that meal too. Take a small amount of each plus a little spicy if you wish (ssamjang in the middle of the plate), roll it up like sushi and devour in one bite. Yum!
  • The carrots can be dipped in the ssamjang, eaten plain, or with another vegetable dip.
  • See the kiddos love this meal too! They like to ask me to take their picture while they say some silly made up word. I can’t remember the word from these photos but it makes for genuine smiles!

Dinner – Smoked Kielbasa, Wilted Kale and Roasted-Potato Winter Salad, Strawberries

Notes:

  • We LOVE this kale and potato salad recipe. I’d made double of the dressing though. Ours above only had 1x the recipe, and it was a little dry. Although, it was probably dry because I used 2-3x the kale. 🙂 Gotta get those greens in somehow!
  • The kielbasa was homemade by a friend. Dan smoked in on our grill. I have no tips for you on this. It appeared cooked and delicious on the table, like magic!

Snack/Dessert – Fresh Strawberries and Homemade Whipped Cream

Notes:

  • Our boys are in the habit of getting a snack right before bed, so this was their snack. Delicious, no?
  • I love whipped cream, but due to the diabetes, try to keep extra carbs out that I don’t need. This whipped cream is only heavy cream plus a 1/2-1 teaspoon of vanilla. That’s it. Guess what? You’ll never miss the sugar when it’s on sweet berries like this! Yum!

What’s with Wheat?

Dan and I love documentaries, and we owe it partially to them for our health beliefs and discoveries.

Our latest one is called What’s with Wheat? You can watch it through the link for $5.99 or for free on Netflix.

This documentary validates other research I’ve heard/read and hunches I’ve had. It’s not that wheat or gluten is evil/bad to eat. It’s what we’ve done to wheat throughout recent history that is making our bodies reject our food and attack itself. It’s the crossing of wheat varieties that aren’t related to each other, all in the name of more production (i.e. more profit!). It’s the taking off of the bran and germ to make it more palatable (i.e. stripping all the good nutrients from wheat!).

As I’ve mentioned before, God made this world to sustain life. Life for human beings, animals, and all other kinds of organisms. He made wheat, and I believe He made it good. Wheat was a part of his declaration on the third day…

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

Genesis 1:9-13

It was good. All of it. The fruit trees were good. The carrots were good. The green leafy vegetables were good. Even the brussel sprouts were good. It was all good. Wheat was good.

But then sin entered the world, and with that the earth didn’t work the same again. God said Adam would have trouble growing plants. Adam would have to work hard at it. “Adam” is still working hard, and using science to try to make it easier. Unfortunately, we didn’t see genetically altered wheat turning against us. It sounds great to make a type of wheat that produces more berries with a thinner bran. It’s easier to processes and tastes better (or so society thinks). We missed the mark. Some of us realize it, but is there anyone who will or can stop the behemoth that is the American food system to make real, radical changes?

I’m not sure, but I can change me and my family.

One, of many, interesting tidbits was about bread making. Our method of bread making is mentioned in the film (or how we used to make bread):

  • freshly ground, whole grain flour
  • natural sourdough started
  • multi-day process

If your bread takes longer to make, maybe we wouldn’t eat so much!

The gluttony of the American diet on wheat was something I hadn’t thought of before. Not only is wheat in all kinds of products: bread, salad dressing, cosmetics, shampoo, tons and tons of processed food, but we (as Americans) actually produce more wheat than the world can consume. Seriously? No wonder we keep putting it in everything. We’ve got way way too much of it!

The documentary touches on processed foods too. Say you buy into the wheat/gluten issues and decide to keep it out of your diet. What do you eat now? Do you go to the gluten-free section of the grocery store to buy your bread for your sandwiches?

NO!

Processed food is bad for you. All of it. I love that the documentary touched on this. One of the first reassurances I received upon hearing about my diet change was “Oh don’t worry, there are so many gluten free options now: bread, crackers, etc!” That person meant it in the best way possible, and I don’t hold that against them.

But really, yes, there are many options, and they are

  • carrots
  • kale
  • Swiss chard
  • zucchini
  • squash
  • artichokes
  • cherries
  • peaches
  • apples

Do I need to keep going? Our wheat is flawed but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to eat. In fact, wheat, should be, a very small part of our diet. There’s so. much. more. to eat.

I’m going to be posting as often as I can what we are eating. The options are endless. They are tastier, more fulfilling than anything packaged you find in the store.

Thoughts? I’m pretty fanatical these days about food, but I still love to hear what you think and discuss!

 

Control Girl

Shannon Popkin is a local author/speaker who has challenged me tremendously through her talks at my church’s young moms group, Bloom. She just published her first book, Control Girl, early this year. It was free on Amazon one day, so I picked it up.

I devoured it when I read it in March. God used His word and Shannon’s book to open my eyes to control issues in my life.

One area that seems to keep coming back to haunt me is my health. I just firmly believe I’m a healthy person.

  • I eat the best food I know how to prepare.
  • I exercise regularly (while having periods of not exercising, I’ve been active and/or exercising since middle school!).
  • I don’t use chemicals in my house.
  • try to read my Bible regularly.

I keep telling myself that I’m doing everything right. I’m checking off all the boxes to keep my health in check.

And yet…things keep falling apart…

My AVM

Type 1 Diabetes

If I allow them, these thoughts start to snowball on me. If I leave it to fester, all of the sudden I’m at death’s door (in my mind’s eye).

This is not the life God has for me.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Worry, anxiety (aka. control) are not what God has for me. Psalm 37 is full of good “do not worry!” advice. It is more focused on comparing yourself to others, but I think God doesn’t want us to worry no matter what!

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Psalm 37: 1-9 (emphasis mine)

I can do what I think are all the right things, eat all the right foods, exercise very faithfully, and yet my body still might fall apart. God knows the number of my days, and He also knows if those days are filled with health or sickness.

I gain nothing by worrying about why my body isn’t quite right. I lose valuable time and energy that could be used to further His kingdom.

My focus for today: Give God control back. Not that I truly had control in the first place, but I like to think I do!

 

O Rejoice in the Lord

This song popped into my head today as I was doing school and coloring with Jackson.

Rejoice in the Lord by Ron Hamilton

God never moves without purpose or plan.
When trying His servant and molding a man.
Give thanks to the LORD, though your testing seems long.
In darkness, He giveth a song.

O REJOICE IN THE LORD!
He makes no mistake.
He knoweth the end of each path that I take!
For when I am tried and purified,
I shall come forth as gold.

I could not see through the shadows ahead,
So I looked at the cross of my Saviour instead.
I bowed to the will of the Master that day,
Then peace came, and tears fled away!

Now I can see testing comes from above,
God strengthens His children, and purges in love.
My Father knows best, and I trust in His care;
Through purging, more fruit I will bear.

I can see clearly now the trials that God has put in my life. Truly, not to harm me but to mold me, to refine me, to make me like gold.

I’m struggling today because it is looking like gluten-free + low-ish carb might not work. This whole diet has been an experiment, and I’ve known that from the beginning. It is still so disappointing to see high blood glucose readings when I think I’m being “so good.”

I do need to give it more time for the gluten to get completely out of my system. How long, I’m not sure. Also, how long is too long for the damage high blood glucose can do to my system? And how high of a BG damages my organs? 143? 180? 200? 300????

Besides the two meals this weekend, my numbers have really been good, but a couple have been in the 140’s before a meal. The last doctor I saw made it clear that was not good enough, and the perfectionist/people-pleaser in me feels like a failure. On the other hand, my sister-in-law thinks those numbers are great as she works with my teenage niece to control her blood glucose.

Where is the balance? Am I good enough, being in the 120-145 range before a meal? Am I causing harm to my body at those levels? I haven’t done much research yet. I need to get out of my funk and figure it out. When I feel like I’ve failed, I tend to sit on my butt and do nothing.

I’m not opposed to insulin. I will take it if I need to, but if there is a way to keep my pancreas alive AND not incur the huge expense of insulin (savings to me and everyone in the healthcare system!!), why wouldn’t I keep at it? I just don’t have definitive confirmation that what I’m doing will work. It looks like I’m forging my own path here based on my own research. It’s kind of scary.

Back to the song, “He makes no mistakes. He knoweth the end of each path that I take.” God’s already at the end. He knows what happens, and He is with me every step of the way. He didn’t allow my body to attack my pancreas on accident. It was no mistake. God knows what He’s doing all the time. This is just another opportunity to put my faith in action and trust.

Delicate Balance

I thought I had my diet and blood glucose (BG) levels all figured out, and then, I got lazy. Two meals this weekend I eyeballed my portion and carb load and definitely missed the mark, by a lot.

Oops.

The first meal was meatloaf, rice, and corn. I knew I had about 20 carbs in a half cup of rice, and I guessed the meatloaf was very low in carbs, say less than 5. I didn’t give the corn much thought. Big mistake.

It’s a vegetable, right? The diabetes educator said I could basically eat as many vegetables as I wanted because it requires so much energy to digest them that the carb load is negated.

Well, I forgot her caveat about starchy vegetables.

I tested 4 hours after dinner on Saturday night, and wouldn’t you know, 284 BG. WHAT?!?

I thought my hands were dirty so I washed then tested again…283 BG. Hmmm…

I immediately thought it was the meatloaf…it did have a sauce…oh, ketsup has like 4 carbs. So it’s not the meatloaf.

Then I thought I had forgotten how many carbs are in rice…nope, about 20 for a half a cup is right.

I guess, maybe, it’s the corn. (Still in doubt, still believing it’s a regular vegetable.)

Google: “Carbs in corn”

123g in 1 cup

Holy moley. That’s the problem. Unknowingly, I had eaten close to 90 carbs for dinner. Lesson learned, not all vegetables were created equal!

Although, the lesson was not learned completely because I did a similar mistake the next day.

Lunch on Sunday was red beans and rice. My portion was probably a touch large, but should’ve only been 40 or so carbs. What I forgot to account for was dessert…creme brulee…my favorite!

So that meal, I ate 70 or so carbs and was pushing 300 BG three hours later.

So here’s where I’m at now: keep each meal less than 50 carbs (including dessert!) and eat lower glycemic vegetables.

My BG have been super good since introducing exercise again last Thursday. I think I may be able to control my diabetes without insulin! When eating gluten-free and 50 or less carbs per meal (with a 20 or so carb snack in between), I’m able to be below 130 BG before each meal and before bed. Woot!

Now to see if the doctor’s agree…

Diabetes Check-up – 1 Week Gluten-Free

I met with my endocrinologist office this week to review my numbers and make sure I’m on track. 

The office had never heard of treating T1 diabetes with a gluten-free diet. This is a little concerning to me; however, new research is coming out all the time, so it is probably hard to keep up. 

The doctor I spoke with was supportive of the diet, of course still checking blood glucose (BG) regularly to make sure my BG stays in line. I was a little disappointed that she thought my BG were still a little high. I just had <150 stuck in my head. So I thought levels of 130-140 were perfect. The pre-meal BG needs to be <130, and the 2 hour post-meal BG <150. I should be <130 in the morning too, after the overnight fast.

Oh rats, maybe the diet change isn’t good enough. I’m regularly 130-145 pre-meal or fasting in the morning. 

I want to give the diet more time, especially since I JUST started feeling better/normal again. I’m checking in with the office next week, and we’ll go from there. 

Here’s my latest thought or thing to research: is the goal of insulin and diabetes management to make sure my BG returns to normal level after eating or is it to make sure my BG doesn’t spoke to high while eating? Somewhere in between? Both?

Self-Discipline

Backstory

I used to be very disciplined when I was in middle and high school.

  • I got up at 6:00 am every morning to make sure I had plenty of time to get ready for school. My school was literally across the street, like a 20 second walk. Ha!
  • I read my Bible daily. I had a Daily Bread kind of a devotional for teens. I saw my parents faithfully reading the Bible, so I did too.
  • I played sports: gymnastics in middle school then volleyball in the fall and cheerleading in the winter in high school.
  • I worked out every day except Sunday.
  • I took leadership opportunities when I could: translating a school handbook from Spanish to English, “leading” my sports teams (in quotes because looking back I was such a know-it-all, take charge kind of person, this was probably not my finest moments).
  • Taking a very full course load my senior year of high school. I, and 4 other students, even elected to take Physics after school because that was the only time the teacher could teach the class. Yes, disciplined and crazy I was.

This discipline even bled into college but that’s when things started to slide downhill. The last few years, I’ve had spurts of discipline. I have good intentions to set goals and accomplish things, but they all fall to the wayside eventually.

The last 2-3 years I’ve had lofty aspirations at the beginning of the year. I tentatively set some goals for the year but never really follow through. I knew I could be doing more as a wife/mom/friend, but those ideals only lasted until February, if then.

Now: 2017

In January, I had the same burn in my soul to accomplish much, to do great things. So I decide to challenge my small group at Bloom (a mother of young children program at my church, I lead one of the small groups). What are they going to accomplish? How can we change how we manage our households? How can we hold each other accountable and encourage each other?

Really, my encouragement was all for my own benefit!

  • I needed accountability.
  • needed encouragement to stay the course.
  • I needed someone else to be determined with me!

The two areas I identified for myself were budgeting and household cleaning.

I love to budget. I love to manipulate numbers. In my former life before kids, I was an actuarial analyst for an insurance company. I like numbers.

However, my impressively complex spreadsheet budget was super time consuming to actually use. I’d have the best intentions to do it once a week or even every two weeks, but I would fall behind and then delay even longer because I knew how long it would take to catch up 1 or 2 months of receipts.

I decided to give You Need A Budget (youneedabudget.com) a try. I had tried about 8 months prior but never took the time to really understand how the software worked, so I gave up quickly. This time I persisted. I took their live webinars. I learned how the software worked. I changed my view of how to manage our money. Guess what? We’ve made HUGE gains in our financial stability in the last four months! I (we) was quite lax in sticking exactly to our budget. We’d over spend a little here, a little there but never really adding things up because I was only doing our budget every 1 or 2 months. Recipe for disaster.

As far as taking care of and cleaning my house, I was constantly overwhelmed because it felt like all of the house needed to be cleaned all. the. time. The thought of cleaning overwhelmed me because I just couldn’t tackle the whole house all the time.

Enter Pinterest. There are a million household cleaning schedules on Pinterest. I did a bunch of research as to what would work for me and here’s what I ended up with: I use Google Keep and a series of lists to keep myself organized. I have one list for daily tasks that I just un-check all the items at the beginning of the day and try to hit everything on the list each day. Then I have six other lists (Monday-Saturday) with specific cleaning chores so that by the end of the week all of the major cleaning tasks have been done. I have stuck with this plan, with a few bumps in the road due to sickness, since January.

Ok, whew, that was my intro! It turned out so much longer than I thought it would!

All that to say, this diabetes diagnosis would have been so much harder if I hadn’t been working on my self-discipline since January of this year.

  1. Financially – We aren’t a wealthy family. We make a very average income. However, we are on top of our budget, since January. With the diabetes diagnosis, we will now have an additional $100-$200 expenses every month. If you are a budgeter, giving each penny a task, then you will know this is a huge expense. I actually don’t know how we are going to cover it yet. God is faithful. He will provide. Of that, I have no doubt.
  2. House Upkeep – The house isn’t a disaster after doing zero cleaning for over a week! Prior to January, my house would have totally fallen apart, been disgustingly dirty, after a week because it wasn’t just one week from cleaning the toilets, it was actually 3, 4, or 5 because I had put it off for so long!
  3. Spiritually – In the past few years, God has changed me tremendously. He has exposed my pride, anger, and lying. He has shown me His grace as He forgives and changes these patterns in my life. Diabetes has been overwhelming these last few weeks. My brain is constantly churning and thinking. If God hadn’t been working on my anger and general self-centeredness, I’d be losing it so much more often than I am now. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’m so much more patient and gentle than I was in the past. I would have a much harder time adjusting if I wasn’t continuing to ask God to change me to be like Him.

In addition to these major areas, I’m learning to be more disciplined new areas that are kind of funny but needed for the long haul:

  1. Checking my feet everu night for bruises, cuts, and callouses. I moisturize them every night before bed now to keep the dryness at bay.
  2. Staying on top of medical bills, paying them on time, keeping my files organized for future audits/tax purposes.
  3. Keeping up on the clutter: insulin and it’s supplies, glucose meter and it’s supplies, sharps disposal, etc. I need work on this, but I’m trying not to let the diabetes paraphernalia take over our house (or the great number of boxes and packaging material they come with!).

This is where I’m at for today. I’m so thankful God put these things on my heart (even though they’ve taken years for me to even tackle somewhat successfully!) and that I was working on them prior to April 1, 2017.

Being a Type 1 Diabetic Mom

I think the hardest part to manage with my diabetes diagnosis is the juggling of my needs with my children. My kids are not always needy, but wouldn’t you know, they NEED something the minute my blood sugar is dropping and I need to care for myself.

I’m all about kids learning patience, waiting their turn, and compassion/empathy for others. But folks, I’m in the thick of it. This is what I’m working on with my kids every day. I was working on this every day before the diagnosis. The diagnosis has exacerbated the need, but also make the lesson that much more difficult for me to teach. I might be feeling fine OR low/shaky, high/irritable, screaming headache…all really difficult times for me to quietly explain how we should react/how we should act like Jesus to others.

One night, I was getting the boys ready for bed. We were in the final 10 minutes. You know that time: heading up the stairs to brush teeth, potty/change diaper, pajamas on, pray, and go to sleep. This is the last push of parenting for the day. It is a critical time for me to remain calm, show Jesus’ love and compassion to their crazy energetic bodies and get them those final steps into bed. Then…my chest starts to tremor. (I feel the shakes in my core first, like the organs inside my rib cage are shaking.) Then my legs and arms (as I’m climbing the stairs with my wild monkeys). As we are brushing our teeth I realize I probably shouldn’t push through. I probably need to stop and take care of myself because I don’t know for sure how long bedtime will take (one monkey likes to take 20 minute poops sometimes!) and I don’t know how quickly my blood sugar will drop.

Therein lies my dilemma, I’m almost to the finish line for the day. Just a couple more minutes and the kiddos are in bed. BUT, I need to stop, test my glucose level, drink juice, set a timer (I WILL forget to test again!), then return to bedtime.

If I stop bedtime, you know what my kids will do, right? Yep, wild, crazy monkeys. They will inevitable be naked in the basement in no time at all, and I will have to start all over again.

Responsibility to care for myself and teach my kids to be patient wins, I go downstairs to care for my blood sugar then return to bedtime.

It didn’t even turn out that bad. My oldest waited patiently on the potty, and my youngest was only a touch crazy, running around half naked.

Bedtime continued. They were in bed only a few minutes late.

This whole diagnosis has been challenging not only my kid’s patience as they sit at the lunch table staring at their food but waiting for mommy to eat, but to my patience as I need to pause regular activities to care for myself. I’m not sure which is harder. Both are challenging. God is giving me more ways to grow to be more like Jesus. Right now, that looks like more patience in mommy and more patience in the wild, crazy monkeys. Truthfully, who couldn’t use a little more patience?

Weird Side Effect?

I’m not sure if this is a side effect of T1 diabetes, but I seem to be extremely susceptible to dehydration. Maybe. I’m getting about 1 killer headache per week. I don’t really know the cause, but my first guess is usually dehydration.

I never got headaches until I had my AVM surgery. Headaches are a side effect of the surgery, and I spent the first year post-surgery mapping them out over time. I saw them consistently taper off until they were few and far between.

Since that time, around 2010, I’ve only gotten an occasional headache that I could usually directly link to being lazy on my water intake. Once the headache would hit, I’d chug 8-16 ounces of water and it would be gone in an hour or so.

The weird thing about these last 3 headaches is they are in the same location of my head (above my left temple) as my “AVM headaches.” My dehydration headaches are usually across my forehead. Hmmm…

While I don’t think my brain is bleeding, pain in the same areas as my AVM issues make me stop and think.

I’ve had one per week since my diabetes diagnosis. Drinking water doesn’t help. Tylenol doesn’t help. I’m not really sure what’s going on.

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