Sunday, December 30, 2012

Oh what a night

Yesterday, my dear sister-in-law got married. The Brack wedding machine was in full swing. There were pretty dresses, good food, lovely centerpieces. There was laughing and crying. There was the post-wedding hang-out.

After an exhausting but joyful day, my husband and I and our 2 guests, Clare and Liz, headed back to our home. Robert stopped on the way, so we arrived first. I was putting sheets on a bed for a 3rd guest on their way when I hear these immortal words... "Chrissy! I need you... and the first aid kit."

I hurried downstairs to find my husband, still only about a week post-op from having gallbladder removed, hobbling around our foyer. To make a long story short, he slipped on the ice and cut himself.

Luckily, friends, I am CPR certified and used to be first aid certified. They aim this training to be something that "kicks-in" as a first response to a crisis.

I did the very first thing they tell you to do -- assess the situation. Well, we need a chair as there is NO WAY I am letting my husband bleed out on my white carpet. Done.

Next, you check the ABC's -- that is, airway, breathing and circulation. Oh, his airway was open. In fact, he's asking for a beer. Check. Breathing -- yup, he's wincing in pain. Check. Circulation -- there is a wound on his leg gushing blood. That's what I'm talking about!

Next, apply firm pressure to the wound, putting a barrier between you and the blood. They tell you in first aid to call for help, so I sent our concerned guests to dig around in our bathroom closet for the first kit, and I grabbed an old rag and applied direct pressure. You will know if you have taken First Aid that they tell you to ask the person bleeding to hold the rag themselves if possible -- seeing as how Robert was unable to bend in his waist due to surgery, he wasn't reaching his legs.

Liz came back with the first aid kit, and Clare came back with his beer. By the way, this is the first aid kit Nathan, our best man, gave me at our wedding. Nathan, that was the best wedding present ever. Anyway, I did what I could to clean blood off his leg and check out the wound. I was ready to go with ointment, butterfly bandages and gauze. I lifted the rag to see... muscle. This is the part in first aid where they tell you, don't go in over your head. Begrudgingly  I looked up at my husband to announce this news, "You are going to need stitches. We need to go to the ED."

I wish I could explain the look on his face. He looked so... defeated. "Are you kidding me?" He asked. "No." I replied. "You know I'd butterfly this in a second, but there's no way it's going to hold. I can't clean it out properly without some Lidocaine, either. We need to go." This morning, Robert left at 5am to help a friend drive to Memphis. I was NOT letting him go into public restrooms with an open wound on an already compromised immune system.

I gave Liz and Clare instructions for preparing the final guest room and to watch the dog. Like champs, they make the bed, did dishes, and baby-sat Otis.

We drove the familiar drive to the Saxony ED, where the same lady who checked us in for Robert's gall bladder attack sent us back to the same nurse that assisted us the last time. We did have a different doctor this time. The nurse cleaned out the laceration. The doctor administered a painful but much needed dose of Lidocaine. As tears of pain came from his eyes, Robert joked, "I promised myself I wouldn't cry today." The doctor laughed when we explained it was funny because his sister got married earlier. I held his hand, thinking about another copay after the other visit and surgery, and I noticed it was quite warm in the room. "Look," I said, "it's almost tropical in here. It's like we are on vacation. And it cost as much, too. If I close my eyes, I can pretend we are some place nice."

After 6 stitches and discharge instructions, we were released. Liz and Clare gratefully welcomed us home, glad to see we were in one piece. Robert went straight to bed. At 5:00am I helped push him out of bed to go do 18 hours of driving today. I woke up a few hours later, dehydrated, my head pounding, not sure of when my last "real" meal was. I took Otis for a brief walk and ate some breakfast with Clare until Liz woke-up. Clare cracked up, having known us for a while. Liz, having met us only the day before, understands now what it is like to be us, to have no dull moments. Looks like more than one person got added to the family yesterday.

Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's not over yet

As Christmas quickly approaches, I think both of what the next 2 weeks bring us. It's our own 12 days of Christmas around here, and trust me, I'd take geese a layin'. 

As you probably know, I had PRK done to my eyes back in October. I am pleased to announce that I have fully recovered and see wonderfully. I once was blind, but now I see... very literally in this case. Every night, I get ready for bed and I am struck by the miracle that is my new eye-sight. It's wonderful! All of the complications -- dryness, soreness, blurry vision, distance trouble, and night vision trouble -- are gone. Good thing, too, because it's my turn to be the healthy one.

As you may know, we are not finished with major medical procedures here in the Brack house. I may be up and running, but my sweet husband will have his gallbladder taken out on Thursday... Merry Christmas, right? I'm a little nervous about the rest of this week. 

I am worried about preparation, recovery, and a Christmas with no working digestive system for him. I had wisdom teeth coming in with infections one Thanksgiving, and I remember nothing but wanting to throw up from Vicodin (a note: I have not taken a narcotic since) -- it was no fun. I am also worried about complications. Every last bit of PTO I have is being used to cover the holidays. I really, really don't want to have unpaid emergencies, you know? Additionally, Robert's sister is getting married the Saturday after Christmas, so we have little room for error. We both need to be available, ready, and looking like "normal" human beings the week after his surgery.

I write this not to say that our life is particularly difficult (honestly, at this point, it's just another week here at the Brack house). I write it so say "this is what's happening right now... and why I am not returning your phone calls/texts/emails/etc. I write it to confess how absent I've been, how slightly overwhelmed, and slightly less-than-gracious about many things recently. Because, still my friends, this isn't even the hardest thing we are dealing with around here. There are things I'm not allowed to write about, and that's taking it's toll, too.

I write this to say - I cannot do this on my own, though I am trying really, really hard. It's not easy realizing how small you are, how dependent you are on grace. It's not easy watching people you love suffer, or seeing things move so fast you can barely catch your breath.

If you don't mind, I ask for your prayers. Prayers for a good procedure and recovery for Robert. Prayers for a Christmas week centered on Christ. For a wedding week where we can fully love on Miriam and Ryan. Prayers that I stop wanting fall asleep at church, work, and anytime I sit down I have rest and energy for this upcoming stretch. Prayers for lots of Cherry 7-Up and ginger ale. 

Happy week before Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blueberry Bars

Have you been baking, friends? 'Tis the season!

This creation comes from a place of being a health coach. And you can't bring fatty dishes to health coach parties, friends. Especially not for breakfast. 

These are hearty and fulfilling, and we love blueberries around here, so I keep them in our freezer year round. 

1/16 of the recipe is less than 200 calories (I'm guessing around 150). I use Land O Lakes light butter, because that's the only light butter in the grocery store around here. 

As a note, served warm as a dessert, they would benefit from just a little teeny-tiny bit of ice cream. And this health coach won't tell on you...

Enjoy!

Blueberry Breakfast Bars


  • CRUST AND TOPPING:
  • 1 cup whole wheat white flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup Splenda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted light butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups quick-cook oats
  • 2 tablespoons apple or orange juice
  • FILLING:
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat white flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (18 ounces) fresh blueberries (you could use raspberries or blackberries, too)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

How to make it
1.        Heat the oven to 375ยบ. Grease a 9- by 13-inch pan with cooking spray.
2.        Add the flour, light brown sugar, Splenda and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine, then add the butter and pulse five or six more times until coarse crumbs form. Add the oats and pulse two or three more times.
3.        Remove 1 1/2 cups of the mixture and set it aside. Add the juice to the remaining mixture and pulse three or four times until it's just moistened. Press this mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan using your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup.
4.        For the filling, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Add the fruit and lemon juice and gently toss the mixture using a rubber spatula until the fruit is coated. Distribute the filling over the crust.
5.        Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the filling. Bake the dish until the top is golden, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let the pan cool on a wire rack for about 2 hours, then cut the sheet into 16 bars. Store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Maybe this Christmas

Christmas is my very favorite holiday. I love Christmas. I love Christmas for the right reason -- the hope we have found is so very, very precious. The other things I do with Christmas all remind me of the importance of this season. AND I GET INTO IT. Come to my house -- it's a Christmas explosion. Anyway,  I love this season, okay?

The past month or two, we haven't exactly been receiving a lot of good news. Don't get me wrong; we are so blessed and I am not complaining. It's a simple fact. And it isn't slowing up in time for Christmas.

This morning, when I came downstairs in my house, I saw my "ever-green" (and very artificial) Christmas tree. I thought, Oh Lord, your love is ever lasting.

I saw our St. Nick's Day filled stockings on the mantle. All I hath needed, thy hand hath provided.

The boughs on my windowsills outlined our sun room, and I am surrounded and carried by grace.

My pom-pom garland entry announces joy. Joy that in our darkness, Christ broke through.

So the bad news is going to keep coming, and this morning I am more than ever aware of our true meaning of Christmas. This is exactly the meaning of this season: the bad keeps coming, and we keep waiting. They waited, after thousands of years of silence for a Savior. In this waiting, we come to find our savior. We are not abandoned to our own darkness, though it is what we deserved.

This morning, in the midst of bad news, I find new meaning in the words of the Angel to the shepherds.

And the angel said to them,
 “Fear not, for behold, 
I bring you good news 
of great joy 
that will be for all the people. 
For unto you 
is born this day in the city of David 
a Savior, 
who is Christ the Lord." 
Luke 2:10-11 (emphasis mine)


Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Today we have Thomas

Thomas is known for doubting. This morning, I feel for Thomas. No one is recording these actions in the Bible, no one will discuss (for centuries) my actions and their implications.

When presented with the news that Jesus would be leaving them, Thomas asked, "Lord, if you go, how will we know the way?"

Thomas' issue was Jesus leaving them. Obviously, that's not my issue today, but I have a different circumstance that I am looking at and saying, "Lord, how are we going to do this?"

Lord, how do I have faith in this situation?

I have already cried, prayed, slept and read the Bible.

James MacDonald says Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it no matter how I feel because God promises a good result.

Today, I believe this with all my heart. And today, when I don't, I will go to Jesus, like Thomas did, and I will say, "Lord, how will I know I the way?"

Even as my heart is breaking and my eyes are filing with tears, I will refuse to believe that God is not good or strong or in control. I refuse to believe that we are abandoned.

I don't know the way. I don't know how. I have one choice - to keep holding on to this faith, a belief in something I do not see, I cannot explain.

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. Psalm 62:11-12

Monday, November 5, 2012

Final thoughts on PRK

I had my surgery on a Friday afternoon at 3PM. When I woke up the next Monday morning, I felt like a different person. My eyes no longer felt like "something" was irritating them. They were dry buy manageable. They were tired but I could see. Light wasn't painful.

The worst thing that Monday morning? THOSE BANDAGE CONTACTS. So gross and dry. The steroid drops you use with PRK are cloudy and gross and make the contacts equally cloudy and gross. You are not allowed to remove or touch the contacts, so... lots of artificial tears.

On Monday, I was able to go shopping with my mom, function around the house, and start making goodies for a family from church thad just had a baby.

I am glad I didn't choose to go back to work that Monday or Tuesday. my eyes just needed... down time. Non-computer-screen time. I felt fine, but my body wanted rest.

This is going into my 3rd week of recovery. My night vision still isn't quite perfect. I need the light to see details and focus-out blurs, making driving difficult when it's dark. Car lights also tend to be starburts or halos, making it hard to tell how far away something is or which direction it's traveling. So far, I've been able to manage to really avoid driving after dark. A huge thanks to my sweet friends and family who offer to help me run errands and pick me up and take me home for evening activities. It's not easy for me to admit I need help, so the offers make it simpler. When I wake up in the morning and it's dark, my eyes do pretty well because they just came from a long period of rest.

The details of my vision aren't perfect yet, either. I struggle with print on the computer screen (harder than paper for some reason) and have to take print materials back and forth until they focus. I can see far away, just the details aren't precision clear yet. So sorry if I stare at you blankly -- I'm probably just trying to focus my vision!!! If I squint just a little at something blurry, I can usually get it to focus at my "contact lens" level of clarity.

This is all very normal from what I understand. I am told that 99% of these issues resolve in weeks 4-6 of recovery. PRK just has a more complicated healing process. I'm thrilled with the vision I have achieved thus far. I still go to "take out my contacts" at night because I'm used to thinking that if I can see, I'm not ready for bed. I still have to do steroid drops every 4 hours for a few more weeks. They have to stay chilled, so this is complicated. I'm also supposed to be using artificial tears ALL THE TIME. This is easy to forget when I get busy, but I'm working on it.

Would I recommend PRK, with it's complicated recovery and pain? YES. Really, 24-48 hours of suffering for years of corrected vision is not a bad trade in my book. I made it though with no crazy drugs and was back at work less than week later. I'm also excited to know that PRK is more stable and long-lasting than LASIK, making the recovery worth it.

Now we will pray that if we decide to ever have a baby, my vision doesn't really change with pregnancy. Like I said, I'd recommend PRK, but that doesn't mean I want to do it again any time soon.

Questions about corrective laser eye surgery? JUST ASK!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Life with Boys

I'll finish telling you about PRK soon, promise.

Today, though, let's talk about my life. My life with boys*.
*When I say boys instead of men, I mean no disrespect. It's not a matter of age or maturity. I say girls instead of "women" all the time. It means nothing.
As you may know, we have a friend and his 2 year old son living with us. It's cool, it's not a thing, and that's all I'm saying. 

With this, I have become out-numbered 4:1 by the men. Because even my dog is a boy.

A few ways my life has changed.... 

The house is always messy. Not horribly so, but there's always... something odd that needs to be cleaned up. I'm slowly accepting this fact and trying my hardest to realize it's not a big deal.

I am frequently called emotional or catty. This isn't mean -- it's fact. But other girls aren't like, "What is wrong with you today?" or "Chrissy, you are being mean. You are overreacting". We don't do it because we've all been there, too. In many ways, this awareness has challenged me to be a more loving person.

There is always something disgusting happening. This could be true just with the 2 year old (I'm sorry, children are great but gross). It could probably be true just with my husband and our friend.

You do not want to show up to my door unexpected. Our friend is fairly protective of me, my husband {legally} owns a gun, and if they didn't scare you... there's a 2 year old. I also do not recommend wronging me, as these are the people who will put you in your place.

I get spoiled more. In some way, I think the boys kind of always see that I'm living in boy-land. Restaurant choices defer to me, small gifts appear, types of groceries of my favorites, etc.

The girliest show I ever get to watch are The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. If it's just me and the 2 year old, I can some times get away with House Hunters. Some times.

There is always someone who need to be fed. I'm usually the only person who knows exactly what we have and where it is, so even the self-sufficient usually need my help.

I spend more time with amazing girls! There is solidarity in our relationships My sister gives me "mom-advice" and walks me through the 2 year old stage. She also is my greatest friend. My niece has become a little relief from all things boys -- the way her hair curls, her girly giggle, her insistence on wearing pearls all the time. I joined the women's Bible study at church this fall and have found the best support, love, and accountability I could ask for in friends. My time with my girlfriends is very precious to me now, and I make more of an effort to get that time.

I pray everyday that if we have children, I get one girl. I love my boys. I wouldn't trade them. I've always thought we were going to be people who had boys, and that never bothered me {clearly, I was right}. I never thought too much about adding girls to the equation. Now, I really, really hope I get one. I don't have any other thoughts as far as the number or ratio or anything... If this doesn't happen, I guess my niece will just get spoiled rotten.




Thursday, October 25, 2012

PRK: part ii

The truth about PRK… it’s not… that bad.

I have a high pain tolerance and everyone is different, so take it all
with a grain of salt. Your PRK could be mind-crushingly painful.

It hurts.
I’m not going to lie.
It hurts a lot.

When I hit my wall, I knew this is “what they had been talking about”.
This happened at about 20 hours post-op for me, early on Saturday
afternoon. I excused myself and went upstairs to rest. However, no
matter what I did, I found that everywhere was too bright for me to
relax, even with sunglasses on top of other shades.

Since lying in a bathroom that a 2 year uses was not appealing, I went
to the only other place in our beautiful, window-filled home that was
sealed from natural daylight – our walk-in closet in our master
bedroom.

If you house-hunt in the near future, walk into that master closet and
think to yourself, “Hmm… could I sprawl out on the floor in pain if
need be?” You’re welcome.

I made a little nest for myself in our closet, and then I shoved
things against the crack on the bottom of the door. Yes, that was too
much light. With my blankets and pillows and iPod, I found a little
comfort. Life was tolerable. Again, other people can take “real” pain
medication, so I’m sure if you had some Codeine or whatever it would
have been much better pain-wise (not light-sensitivity-wise). I’d give
the pain a 7-8 out of 10. I won’t even type here how much Advil and
Tylenol I took – I’m not admitting that in public. My father would not
approve – it was much more than the safe/recommended amount.

In my dark nest, I listened to audio books. Tina Fey’s book,
Bossypants carried me through the dark, painful hours. Her humor and
light-hearted story telling was perfect for this experience. My mom
made sure I kept up on my medications (it’s hard to judge time passing
in a dark cave).

At one point, Robert came in to visit me. The odd thing? In the pitch
blackness, I could see him fine. I mean, it was a tad shaded, but
while he was totally blind, I could make out most of his face. The
body is amazing, isn’t it? So that explains that light sensitivity –
clearly I was getting way more in than normal! My family referred to
my new super-human night vision as cat or bat vision. For the record,
I didn’t make him stay in the closet with me.

When the sun went down (and it was time for more pain meds – yay!), I
went downstairs.

If you don’t know this about my husband, he is a technological genius
and lover of all things electronic. And what was the most painful
thing for my eyes to endure? SCREENS. The second? ELECTRONIC LIGHTS ON
THINGS.

You know what? Screens are everywhere in my house. There are always
blinking lights from devices that I don’t even know what they do. My
sweet, wonderful husband did make all of the screens he could dimmer
even though it meant everyone else had to watch a dim, dark TV. Still,
I couldn’t help but feel I was stuck in some sort of horrible,
pain-inducing maze.

So I took more Valium. I went to bed very, very early. I slept like
the dead for about 11 hours.

I woke-up on Sunday morning to Stage II of Recovery… “This is
okay-but-not-great-gosh-it’s-really-bright-everywhere”.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PRK - Part 1

So… I did it! I had PRK {laser vision corrective}surgery.

This blog post contains medical descriptions. If you have a weak
stomach, don’t read on. I am a medical over-sharer. I both share and
ask other people to share way too much personal, medical information.
Blame it on my dad.

When my grandmother offered, out of the blue, to pay for LASIK for me,
I was ecstatic. I was recovering from a bad cold when my mom told me
the news, so my voice could barely peep a noise out, but I was
screaming in my mind.

I have wanted laser eye surgery to correct my vision since I could
understand what it was.

For the record, my right eye had a -5.50 and my left a -5.75 with a
slight astigmatism before. If you don’t know what that means, I was
freaking blind, ok?

So, when I went to the vision center for my “free consultation” and
they said, “You are not a candidate for LASIK” I just about had a
mental breakdown… until they said, “You can get PRK!”.

I had not heard about PRK, LASIK’s cousin that no one likes. In LASIK,
you have a small flap made in your cornea so they can reshape the
inside of your eye to correct your vision. If your corneas are too
thin, like mine, you cannot do this successfully. Thus, they must
remove the outer layer of your cornea to access the inside of your eye
with the laser.

This was not shocking news to me. I have been told by medical
professionals that my ribs were small, my cervix is small, my feet are
narrow, my fingers are freakishly skinny (well, that was by our
jeweler, not my doctor). So, of COURSE my corneas would be “too thin”.
WHATEVER.

Anyway.

PRK has a much, much longer and more painful recovery time than LASIK.
Most people take Vicodin or codeine to cope with the pain. Yours truly
vomits on either, so I toughed it with enough Advil and Tylenol to
drug a small horse.

Here is my account of the first part of my experience, for your
over-sharing-medical pleasure. Also, I hope this may help educate
someone if PRK is his or her option. But you can read to be snoopy, I
won’t judge ;).

I arrived at the office excited for my procedure. I had worn no
make-up near my eyes, I slept as best as I could, and I drank only
half a cup of coffee and no Diet Coke (to avoid over drying from
caffeine). I did my pre-exam tests (re-checking my eyes and corneas).
They had prescribed me 2 Valium to take to assist in remaining calm if
I felt “anxious”. I felt ready, people, not anxious. I took half of
one pill. I’m not a very still person by nature, so I thought maybe it
would help my lie still for the procedure. They went over post-op
care. I put on a name tag with my surgery info, along with a scrub cap
and booties.

The procedure room was open through a window into the lobby. I waved
to my mom and Robert, very blurry images as I had no glasses or
contacts to wear. My mom looked nervous. I felt… not nervous. They had
me lie on the exam table and explained the steps of the procedure to
me. Numbing, scraping off my cornea, laser, cleaning the eye, laser,
done.

They kept asking me how much Valium I took because I was so calm. They
said they had never seen anyone that chill without taking both pills.
In fact, my half a pill hadn’t even kicked in yet and I told them just
to start – I was done waiting. It felt like my wedding day that way.
Everyone saying, “Are you nervous? Are you ready? How do you feel?”
when I was just… done. Ready. Over it. Excited. Let’s get the show
started, people, I’m ready to walk down that aisle and be married to
Robert. I was ready to march into that surgery room and have my inside
of my corneas burned off. So romantic, no?

I felt nothing, barely even the pressure. The “worst” part of the
surgery is when they rinse your eyes with cool saline, because of the
temperature. But… it wasn’t even uncomfortable.

When they were done, I COULD SEE. Okay, not like pass a vision test
see, but again, I went from freaking blind to “hey, that’s my mom and
husband out there and I know because I can actually see them!”.

I wore my goggles, went home, took a nap, followed instructions, and
took the half of Valium before bedtime. The next morning, I felt…
fine. I went to my follow-up appointment. They said the discomfort
would hit me at about the 24 hour mark. I went to Target with my mom,
Rick, and Emm. I bought artificial tears.

My niece, nephew, and sister came over to hang out with my mom.

Then that 24-hour mark hit.
And it hits hard.

To be continued….

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Some times I'm a whiner

Whiner

No, for real.

I’m whiney. A lot.

We are doing the study, “Lord Change My Attitude” for women’s Bible study this fall, and the whiner in me would like to whine about how hard it is not to whine.

This week, my adorable/wonderful/awesome friend, Bridget, Facebook announced her pregnancy. I love her and Ian so much, and I’m so happy for them… and then I felt it: the small twinge of jealousy - jealousy for the excitement, for a defined stage in life, for a little baby, for knowing you should have a baby, for all of it. Granted it was a small twinge, but it was there, and it was wrong.

I woke up this morning, early for a meeting at the clinic (a meeting at which I found out that one of my patients, who was weird but perfectly nice to me, had threatened to bomb our clinic and shoot anyone who survives – you know, normal meeting stuff). I was making coffee when Rick rushed down, running late. He called for a sleepy, not-really-awake 2 year old Emm to follow him. Drinking his sippy cup, looking like he wanted to pass out, Emm walked up to me with his arms up so I would pick him up. “Rissy…” he called happily as I picked him up while Rick got their stuff ready.

In that moment, with Emm trying really hard to say my name correctly, with his contentedness in my arms, with the little happiness that can only come from snuggling with a 2 year old while making coffee at 6:45am, I realized that I am not really worthy of what God has given me. Here I am, in a beautiful home, with a wonderful & loving husband, with coffee, with a friend, with a sweet little boy, about to go to a job that I love and all I could think of  yesterday was, “Lord, why is my life not like ____?”

My life is not ____ because God did not give me that life. God may never give me that life.

He gave me this one.

Regardless of what I do or do not receive in this one, I have more than I could ever need. MacDonald says in the study that even if God did nothing else for us for the rest of our lives, we’d still have received enough blessings to fill the rest of our days with songs of thanksgiving.

I’m hoping today that I will be singing more thanksgiving… and less whining.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Running

I used to run all the time. Like it was no big deal, I'd go knock out 6, 7, 8 miles. I still "enjoy" running in a very casual, once-every-couple-of-months kind of thing.

Lately, I've become an addict to my elliptical.

So when a friend of mine was like, "Hey, I'm doing the Drumstick Dash, do it with me!" I don't know what possessed me to be all like, "Yes! I'm in!" and fill out a registration form last night. But I did it, and I committed myself to running 4.6 miles in public. I feel a panic attack coming on thinking about people watching me run. But I keep telling myself that if my friend (who has MS!) is doing this, I should be able to put on a brave face and get my butt moving. I’m a health coach, for crying out loud.

To start training, I did exactly what you aren't supposed to do and ran 3.5 miles last night. If you've trained for anything, you know you are supposed to ease in it. Like a complete moron who had never extra-runner-looped her Brooks before, I went for the whole 3.5-4 miles.

It was hard. I got an awful pain/cramp on the lower left side of my abdomen about 10 minutes in (that's never a good start). My iPhone decided NOT to play music. I accidentally ran through mud. I stopped to walk for 45 seconds 2-3 times.

However, when I got home - a completely sweaty, heavy breathing mess - I felt pretty good about what I had done. Sure, the 20 year old me would have LAUGHED at my not-running's self windedness after 3.5 miles, but it was a start. That high feeling after a run is the best. I also slept like the dead last night.

So what’s next? Back to training. Not 3.5 miles again today (I’m only kind of stupid and self-loathing). Probably only cross training and back on the ground this weekend. Which does beg the question… does shopping with a 2 year old count as cross training? I’m hoping yes. And this is why I’m the worst at training. Sigh.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Robert's Birthday

I don't blog anymore. Sorry if that somehow disappoints you.

Anyway.

We threw Robert a birthday party last weekend! On Tuesday, Robert will turn 30. It's a big deal! Well, not really. We are pretending it's a big deal, but he's playing it pretty low key. Rob has all the photos, so bug him if you want pictures.

We were very blessed to have family and friends show up on Saturday night to celebrate the big occasion. Rick made tacos, I made cake, and Robert made the best face ever when he found out his birthday surprise...

New a rhino truck liner!

If you are less than excited about that as a birthday gift, you and I are in the same boat. I don't quite get the "wow" factor of it, but at one point on Sunday Robert gently touched it and said in a soft voice, "It's just so pretty". I can only imagine this is how I would feel if handed a nice pair of heels or a new handbag.

On our way to church on Sunday, I told Rick that I would have thought I'd have more "of my life figured out" when I was married to a 30 year old. He wanted to know what I didn't have figured out. I said everything.

Maybe some people live their lives with a big "plan". I read the Mark Driscoll marriage book this summer, "Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship and Life Together". The whole last part of his book is about making some big life plan (okay, I'm summarizing, it's more deep than that). I think he makes a good point -- that you need to plan to live life intentionally and think about your priorities. But Pastor Driscoll is going to have to go plan alone, because I cannot even imagine how "planning" our less-than-dull life would go.

Maybe I just plan on leaving a lot "open ended" since I find that God puts things in my life (instead of me putting godly things in my life). Maybe I just plan on being willing to be used in my everyday life because that's where God seems to have put me. I'm not supposed to have a baby and be a stay-at-home mom (right now), I'm not supposed to be running a ministry (right now), I'm not supposed to be making some 10 year investent plan (we all know that's Robert's job, anyway). I am supposed to be doing exactly what I am doing. And while that makes my current life very full and rich, it makes it hard to look out and plan a path. I didn't hand-pick a lot of these things in my life (Robert's work, my work, our house, our church, our friends, our family, the 2 year old living with us, etc.). These were things hand-palced in my life but Someone much greater than me. So... I guess I can't figure it out. I'm not going to try. Because what I have so much more amazing than anything I could have planned for myself.

So here is to Robert turning 30, and it being the most blessed, crazy, wild, and less-than-dull year yet.

I'm open to it!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Apparently, I never blog!


So guys, I have a list of posts to write about!



I made curtains!
I did my first food crawl!
Everyone's getting married!


Alas. I have no time.

However, I was getting questions about these, so this is what I will blog out: 
vegan cupcakes.

Worst-sounding combination EVER, right?

I work with a group of really healthy people, one of whom is a vegan. It's her birthday... so... I made her vegan cupcakes. You can love or hate that idea, and I don't care. It's her birthday, not yours. On your birthday, I will make you steak cupcakes with veal frosting, okay?

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes

Ingredients: 


* 2 cups flour
* 2 TBSP chia seeds (as requested by my coworker instead of flax seed, and she provided them, so I didn't aruge)
* 2/3 cup cocoa powder 
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 1/2 cups Libby's canned pumpkin
* 1/2 cup safflower oil
* 1 1/2 cup white sugar 
* 2 tsp vanilla
* 2 TBSP water
* 1 TBSP vinegar
* Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips to garnish (or other vegan-ok chips)
Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. (*my oven runs strong, so I did 340)
1. Mix together dry ingredients. 
2. Dump in pumpkin. Add in other wet ingredients. Blend with a hand blender until smooth. Batter will not be thin & runny, it will be thicker, like a muffin.
3. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Scoop in batter. Add chocolate chips on top.
4. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
I didn't frost them because the chips looked pretty (and people where I work are too skinny for frosting). However, you could do a vegan glaze or ganache without too much trouble. 
My healthy co-workers ADORED these. I think they taste like a muffin -- not too sweet, but still good. They had a great, moist texture. They taste like chocolate, but not exactly like a chocolate cake (in my opinion). 
So... enjoy! Love on your vegans, people.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The new job

For those of you who want to know, this is what you need to understand about my new job...

I use a very specific and very interesting form of behavior change counseling known as "motivational interviewing". It involves actively listening and helping the patient embrace both their ambivalence towards change and finding their own solutions to their health problems.

It's amazing. It's like cheating.  I sit and listen, they solve their own problems, they embrace change. Granted, it's not that easy, but the technique is astoundingly simple and effective.  It's also very effective on your husband the guy who lives with you, until they figure out what you are doing and tell you that you aren't allowed to MI at home. However, MI is sneaky and effective, so I am secretly still doing it :).

I do one and one counseling, support groups, group exercise, follow-up constantly with each patient, and a bunch of random administrative stuff.  That's what my day to day looks like, and it's both pretty challenging and right up my alley.

I wear tennis shoes almost everyday with my work clothes. It's both a fashion disaster and awesome.

I work for the public health system of the most populated county in the state of Indiana (and probably the most urban). I realize a title like "Bilingual Lifestyle Wellness Coach" may sound a little glamorous, but I can't get gas after dark in the majority of neighborhoods where I am working. Providing health care to underprivileged people is one of my passions.  It's also a part of Wishard's mission statement.  Lots of people will work with the clean, sane, and rich population, and they don't need me. I have a weird love of working in what most people would call the ghetto, with what most people would consider a difficult population. I don't say that to be cool or trendy, or to make me seem like some superhero. I say it as an acknowledgement of what gifts God has given me, and how I stand in complete awe that he has chosen a course for my life that involves serving others in this fashion. It has been a long journey to get to this point, and everyday I feel so humbled to be doing what I do.

That being said, I am sure I will have some funny stories about happens, about what I see and experience. I may or may not be able to share them here, as HIPPA is strict and I have a ton of respect for my patients.  What I will share is my new journey and the things I learn along the way.

Finally, my new job has made me so grateful. Again, this was a long journey. I am so excited to start doing something that embraces my passions and skills.  I realize a lot of people work jobs they don't love because it's what they need to do, and in some cases, what God has called them to do. I realize a lot of people would just be grateful for work. Additionally, as I hear about the very scary health concerns of the patients, I realize how much our health is a blessing.  I can work out. Even my husband, who has a permanent back injury, has it a lot easier than most of the people I see.  I can afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables pretty much whenever I want, and that makes me incredibly fortunate. I drive through neighborhoods that look desolate compared to our high-end, Fisher's community.  I get to live in a beautiful, safe home with a loving husband, a great friend, the world's best dog. I live better than I deserve, and I am reminded everyday of how much I have, and how shallow I am about whining for more.  It is very convicting.

So that's the update. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What we've been up to

So, we've been really busy around here! Not in the we-have-had-so-much-going-on way, but in the changes/little things way.

Our friend who has moved in with us for the time being is the world's best cook. For real. Unfortunately, I am also a good cook... and so some times, we just sit around and cook.  I say unfortunately, because I am going to get very fat.

This weekend, we made double thick lemon bars...



Baked churros....

Strawberry ice cream...

And our normal array of pizza, salads, soups, etc.

Results?
The double thick lemon bars, based on my recipe, were a huge success. Friend really loved the bars, but asked if I'd be willing to double up the lemon custard ad see how it worked. I never turn down a baking challenge...

Again, a huge success.

Baked churros were a recipe inspiration, but we sort of messed it up since we didn't pay enough attention to the puff pastry defrosting.  While they were delicious, we are going to have to try again, with better puff pastry to work with!

The strawberry ice cream is to die for! Friend and I had a bit of a cooking spar about whether or not this should be a frozen custard, and I managed to wrangle in my opinion that it needed to be more of an ice cream and less of a custard.  Let's just say, when you are right, you are right.

I am now getting ready to enjoy our homemade white bean & ham soup.

I also have to go to work tomorrow and resume my job as a lifestyle wellness coach.  I may be drinking cranberry juice & water all day to long and eating nothing but lettuce to hide my secret shame.

Jealous? You can be. You can also invite yourself over for dinner.  We always have leftovers!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Next week!

Next week I start my new job at Wishard.

What?!?!?! 

I am getting excited. But I am mostly getting nervous. I feel woefully unprepared to start a new chapter, probably because I didn't seek out this particular change. 

This job is a lot of things I've always wanted.  I'll be doing something I love, I'll be using a part of my degree (unheard of, right?), I'll be working in healthcare, I'll be serving the under-served.  It's so many things I have worked so hard to do.  And I don't want to mess it up. I don't want to suck.  I didn't realize that getting what you wanted could be so intimidating. 

Our pastor preached on having faith in God like a child on Sunday. He gave the example of how his children will blindly jump off the stairs into his arms, trusting that each and every time they will be caught. This made me feel a little better.

On Saturday, I took Nephew to the airport to meet his parents, who just came back from a 2 week missions trip to China.  All day long, he giggled with me when I would ask, "Who are we getting at the airport? Santa? Big bird?" he would laugh and shout, "NO! Mommy & Daddy!!!".  We were both pretty pumped.  When we got the airport, he happily played with another little boy from his church who was also waiting for his mommy.  When his mommy came down first, Nephew took my hand and started to look a little nervous and impatient.

Then, he saw them.

Then, he ran and hid underneath a sign in the airport. 

He was still glad they were home.  He was still excited.  He was just... overwhelmed.  There were a ton of people around.  There was a lot of emotion.  My sister had to go and pull him out from under the sign and pick him up for a hug. He buried his face in his hands. 

When she put him down, he resorted to hiding behind me, while not letting go of my hand. When my arm gave out from being held behind me, he had me hold him until it was time to go.

Some times, I think this is more how I feel about getting what I want.  Of course, I'm overjoyed.  Of course, I'm incredibly grateful.  It's still overwhelming.  It's intimidating. And though I am trying to hide under some form of an airport sign, I'm reminded that God won't leave me there.  His intention is to use my life, and I'm not going to do that where I am safe from discomfort and change.

So, here is to facing what's next with faith. I am so grateful I don't have to do it on anything more than faith.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A story for Father's Day

I don't tell a lot of stories about my dad. I love my dad a ton, but honestly, it's my mom that I call all the time. This past weekend, we stayed with my mom's only brother & his family. My husband, who always claimed my out-going personality was my father, changed his mind. "Your uncle is just like you! I see it now -- you two are an extroverted version of your mother!"

So some times, I forget to give my dad a lot of credit.

If you don't know this about me, I hate tests. I have major test anxiety. Give me an essay question about anything -- a subject I know nothing about -- and I'll ace it. Make me fill in bubbles, and well... I freeze up.

When I took my ACT for the first time in high school, I got a crap score. I was a straight-A student, and I never did poorly on anything. My teachers loved me. I played 3 musical instruments. Clearly, something went terribly wrong. I was devastated and embarrassed.

My father saw my score, and very compassionately sat down and said, "What went wrong?"
I had no answer. I couldn't explain what went wrong. My dad figured it out in a heartbeat.
"You were nervous, weren't you? You didn't understand what the questions were asking, did you?" There was no judgment.  No disappointment. In many ways, I took it harder than he did.

I had already given up. The score that I received wrote off any chance I had for being considered for my first-choice colleges. I felt like such a failure, and I certainly didn't think I could do any better.

My dad went out and researched the best prep-books out there. He went out and purchased the best prep-book out there. He offered to go over it with me, but he didn't have to -- I was smart enough to teach myself test prep, and I proceeded to devour the workbook. I then re-took the test and got a fantastic score.

We get thrown a lot of curveballs in life. We have things that we look at a lot like I did that first ACT test -- "what are they even asking?!", followed by "it's over. I'm stuck". It's easy for anxiety and stress to creep in and make our minds and hearts useless.

What did I learn from my dad? Don't give up. Push through that -- count to five, ditch the panic, and start reacting.  If all your options are a crap shoot, find a way to make more options. Work hard. Have faith. Find compassion and kindness for those around you who are hurting or have already given up... and find a way to help them cope and recover. If your first try at it doesn't work, don't write off the whole thing or accept a poor outcome. We are always extended far more grace then we can ever imagine. That grace can change our outcome in a way much, much deeper than a test score.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
Romans 2:4, NASB, emphasis mine


We are not a people who have received fear, bad luck or punishment. We are a people who can choose to find grace, forgiveness and love. I'm grateful, as we approach this father's day, that my dad taught me that lesson.


I just hope I can learn how to live it out everyday.