Category Archives: Family

Bird seed and porta-potties and grocery lists, oh my!

Grocery-list-making face.

Grocery-list-making face.

Husband: “Hey, hon? I know you are going to hate what I am about to ask you, but I have three coupons for the grocery store that are going to expire. Can you make a grocery list?”

Ugh. This request seems innocent enough, but for me making a grocery list is like riding a bike uphill for miles in the blazing heat. I’d rather clean the porta-potties on the route. But seeing as I am the gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, anorexic-celiac-friendly chef of the household, all meal planning and grocery-list making falls to me.

We’re kind of desperate over here. My kids have eaten hot dogs for dinner three nights this past week. My husband and I basically eat the same thing every night: some sort of grilled meat or fish with a side of veggie and starch (either sweet potato or rice). That is the extent of our  menu these days.

Thank God my husband enjoys the shopping. I can’t walk into a grocery store alone without going into a panic attack. Literally. Braving Whole Foods the other day on my own, I had teetered on the edge of a full-blown attack; I had to sniff soap to calm my nerves before I could make it through the check-out line with my single box of quinoa hot cereal.

Here’s why:

After I spent the entirety of July feeling physically ill and having multiple food reactions, it seemed perhaps a food sensitivity test would be the logical next step in figuring out why my gluten-dairy-corn-soy-free lifestyle wasn’t solving my intestinal distress.

100% celiac-friendly. About 45% everything-else-friendly. Everything in the upper-left quadrant , with the exception of the tea and Domata flour, is off limits now.

100% celiac-friendly. About 45% everything-else-friendly. Everything in the upper-left quadrant , with the exception of the tea and Domata flour, is off limits now.

The results were surprising as it revealed that most of the foods that had become safe and staple elements in my restricted, leaky-gut- and-celiac-friendly diet were indeed NOT safe. Almonds and anything almond-based, like almond butter, almond flour, and almond milk had become the anchor-source of safe and calorically dense nutrition. Turns out my system is off-the-charts sensitive to almonds. And also all other nuts. Adding “nut-free” to my growing list of dietary restrictions, I also learned many basic produce that I eat every day, such as bananas, lemons, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, and lettuce were also big no-nos.

As for the basic celiac-friendly grains, my body rejects aramanth, brown rice (another basic staple), lentils, and oats (even the gluten free version). While we’re at it, I may as well  mention egg whites, cinnamon, mustard, plums and white beans all cause bodily discontentment.

The good news: Lima beans are a no-go! That news was like finding $100 bill in a pile of wet poo.

So what in the world is a busy anorexic-celiac writermama of two hungry munchkins and wife of an athletic husband supposed to eat and feed her family?


“Hey, are you going to eat that?”

I don’t know. Hence the panic attack in Whole Foods the other day.  I went in to simply to purchase millet–one of three grains I can eat. What’s millet you ask? You might recognize it as the main ingredient in–wait for it– bird seed.

Yup. My diet has been reduced down to the mere culinary delicacies for birds. Rabbit food would be a five-star treat at this point. 🙂

Meal planning and grocery shopping are like picking a bouquet of wildflowers in a radioactive minefield. There is a multitude of brilliant foods that look so colorful, fresh, and nutritiously rich to choose from, yet these days, anything I pick is contaminated with ingredients that are unsafe for me. One misstep and BOOM! I experience a physical reaction that will make me ill for four to seven days. Believe me when I say, I have become a good label reader, but most products I pick up I must put back; most recipes that catch my eye need a customized overhaul. I haven’t yet gained good knowledge of the safe and delicious substitutions to create a new dietary landscape for my household.

I digress. You can see why making a grocery list isn’t something I can just whip up. I found myself pacing and wringing my hands together, trying to figure out where to start. I would need to look at recipes–maybe paleo recipes and then adjust accordingly? It seemed so hard, and I wanted to cry. Enter my friend Nikki who was scheduled to come over for coffee (decaf, Swiss-water processed coffee, of course).

I poured out my plights and heard myself plead, “Will you help me make my list?”

Nikki was so happy to help! “Let’s come up with five meals,”  she suggested. That seemed doable to me. She sat with my food sensitivity test next to her and within five minutes she helped me come up with 10 meal ideas based on the foods I could eat! Whoa! We spent the next hour online researching recipes for each dish that would be easy to make and easy to make substitutions. Nikki helped me think of fresh ideas. For example, I cannot have lemons or limes, but we found a great pineapple-mango salsa recipe that is great for fish!


Completed list! Rough draft–have to rewrite so hubby can actually shop from it. 🙂

When our list was complete–we celebrated. I’m talking high-fives and happy dancing! It felt amazing to have the list done, and I had that glorious relief feeling–like the feeling you get when you’ve finally popped your taxes in the mail knowing you are getting a fat refund. All the tedious hard work is done and there is great reward to come. Thank you, Lord, for Nikki!

Then I crashed. I was so exhausted and had quite the headache, as if I really did just ride for miles uphill in the heat. While having Nikki by my side made this task achievable, the anxiety that burdens me around anything food-related still built up inside–only this time it didn’t explode into tears, panic or self-loathing. It stayed dormant until the task was complete. I was too elated to dwell on the hardness of the task. Instead I curled up and took a nap–resting in my accomplishment.

Someday this will all seem so clear.

Someday this will all seem so clear.

For the first time, I allowed myself to be okay with the weirdness that making a grocery list is really hard and exhausting for me. Meal planning and grocery shopping are the most basic of tasks for any stay-at-home mama, but for this mama it is a dizzying challenge; it all makes my mind spin. I am confident this won’t always be the case, (and I won’t always rather clean porta-potties) but for right now, I have to allow myself to take this journey one list and one meal at a time.

Upcoming Meal Plan (with links to the recipes I’ll be modifying)

Chili (a modified version of the one I usually make)

Cherry Chicken

Mango-Coconut Rice w/Chicken

Spaghetti Squash ‘n’ Meatballs

Fish w/Mango-Pineapple Salsa

Crock-pot Cornish Hen w/Grapes

Asian Pork w/sweet potatoes

Shrimp Creole

Salmon Patties w/millet-quinoa broccoli medley

Turkey w/cauliflower rice



Dear Peanut


My boy: lover of sports, SpongeBob Squarepants, Oregon Ducks, quesadillas, math, friendship, family, and the occasional princess movie–especially if there is a really cool bad guy.

Dear Peanut,

I know I am biased because I am your mother, but I have to say you are one amazing kiddo. You move around so much playing sports, playing with friends, riding your bike, and pestering your little sister that I don’t often get to stop and reflect on who you are and who I see you becoming to be.

When I think about you on this very special day, the first words I think of are happy, energetic, hands-on, quick, smart, and bright. You are caring and sensitive–which is sometimes hard to see because you are always on the move, but in your quieter moments, the soft and aware side of your heart shines. It is so beautiful, Peanut.

You have a sharp and inquisitive mind–always keep a wondering and seeking mind, Sean. You trend toward math and science (though you claim to “hate” math); I love how you ask a million questions about how the world operates and throw impossible math questions to Dad and me, like “What’s 1,567,654 divided by 75,000, 563 times the square root of 56?”  You are so gracious when we simply answer, “Probably some sort of decimal number.”  I think you are fascinated that with math you can pour out a string a of numbers in any sort of equation, and with a proper solving process, get a legitimate answer. You are keenly aware that numbers never end–infinite possibilities are intriguing and fun to chase.

You are a great big brother and confidently hold your status as older and Bigbrotherwiser. Though you are a bit impatient (that isn’t your fault, you get that from me), you enjoy teaching, leading, and loving your sister. You get annoyed when Haley hangs around too much, yet you miss her when she is gone. You claim to hate playing and/or watching anything with princesses, yet you oblige her wishes when you desire time with Haley. You fight and compete with each other to the point where  sometimes I wonder if you actually like each other, yet you two always amaze (and perplex me) when you find the space of acceptance and peace with one another.  She loves being around you because in her eyes, you are the coolest, safest, and most fun kid to hang around. I pray you two always remain close to one another.

This week, I became aware that you are moving into an age (8 years old today!) where you begin to decide who you want to be. You opened up to your dad the other day that you are being bullied on the baseball field. It broke our hearts and, of course, we wanted to oblige your request to skip camp practice to avoid the pain. Yet, our greater desire is to teach you how to be your best in the face of pain–because that is how you grow stronger and wiser and how you develop compassion for others who struggle.

You and I had the most wonderful conversation in the hallway–me in my pajamas and you bare down to your undershorts. With tears streaming down your face I told you to look at me–“Baseball is your passion. These guys who taunt you are trying to chase you away from what you love. If you don’t go today, those guys win. Mission accomplished for them. What’s our top rule in Taekwondo? Always believe in yourself. You go out on that field and show them you can’t be chased away–you’re there to play ball. When they are too busy poking fun at you, you are on the ball field getting better at your craft. Believe in yourself and don’t worry about these other guys. We are never to give up… if you don’t go today, you give up. And you aren’t a quitter–you are competitive and you want to win. You can’t win if you stay home today.”

“But I am only one person and there are like 10 of them. It’s really hard.”

“You’re darn straight it’s hard! And scary!” I told you the story of David and Goliath. Tiny little David stood up to a giant and knocked him down with nothing but a single stone square between the eyes. “With God you get superhuman power. It’s already inside of you; you have the power within you stand strong, even when you are scared, against one giant, 10 bullies, an army of 1000 men. Say a prayer when you step on to the field, God is standing at the plate with you.” This story stopped your tears and put a smile on your face. You decided to go to baseball camp that day. And you rocked it!

20140531_131534You’re 8 years old today, and I love being your mom. What I always hold the closest to my heart is somehow in your swirl of daily movement and activity, you manage to find random and countless moments to tell me that you love me. Please know how much that means to me; a mother can never hear that too many times from her kidlets.

Happy birthday, Peanut!








I am not the vine


I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

I took on too much and fell into a depression.  I walked ran boldly forward with intent to bring heavenly Love to others by loving and encouraging  through the gifts God has given me. I seek to bear fruit–something nourishing for others and delightful to God. Yet, my desire to please my Father and to please others crashed into each other, and I fell.

I’m trying to get back up, but I am real tired. Depleted.

My desire to please is not for others to be pleased with me, but to be pleased in their own lives–to feel happy or hopeful or validated or affirmed. When people need help, I want to help; when people need love, I want to love; when people need someone to understand, I want to understand. Hear me well when I say, I do not need nor do I desire recognition or credit, but rather to remain camouflaged in the backdrop while God takes the spotlight.

I pray (a lot!) for people–strangers, friends, family–and I always ask God to give me the words to speak and write in a way that lets people know He’s got them–that they are Loved and Protected– even if they aren’t believers in Christ. I ask Him to help me be a good deliverer and steward of his message.

Yet, I never ask if he has a message for me to deliver–a word of encouragement or an act of love–and if so, then to whom. I run on the assumption that everyone who is on my heart or crosses my path must be there because God needs to me encourage them.

The problem is I run. I come to His feet in reverent prayer and then I take off running. I have this irrational sense of urgency to hurry up and love–and love well. I need to be fast enough and good enough in order to bear the good fruit–the fruit good enough to be pleasing to God and fruitful for the lives I am trying lighten.

In my haste, I run ahead of God and become emotionally invested in every person I meet; I look over my shoulder and ask behind me, “Hey Lord, what would you like me to say to them? How can I love them? By the way, thanks! They have taught me a lot.”  In my eagerness to lift up essentially everyone, I forget that I am not God. I don’t have the power or the stamina or the emotional capacity or spiritual insight to serve everyone and bear fruit for the whole vineyard. I am not the Vine. I am but a branch! Without God, the true Vine who serves the entire vineyard, I. Am. Nothing. 

Romans 12:3 says “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

I used to think this verse meant “don’t get too big for your britches,” and in a sense I think that applies; however, I see now how this might mean not taking on more than what God is asking me to handle. I am only equipped with so much, so far– I only have a certain measure of knowledge and wisdom; I only have a certain amount of energy and stamina to extend. I am a child, a young branch in the eyes of God–still growing, still tender, still small.

When I run ahead of God, leaving him behind, I cannot do anything. The fruit I seek to bear will not grow. So now what? Here I sit, on my knees in front of Jesus, humbled again in my humanness–with a load of mess that I created for myself–a multitude of commitments to honor whilst committing to my children, husband, true friendships, and not to mention–myself.

John 15:1-2 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

I don’t believe the Lord is cutting me off, for while in my depression friends from St.Chappellewhom I’ve retreated have told me how much they love me; strangers of whom I’ve held at a distance have told me I’ve blessed them; my children and husband of whom are the most precious to me and bear the burden of living with a woman in constant motion have told me how much they love and honor and trust me, still.

I am being pruned (and it’s really uncomfortable)–cut back to where I can see the Vine, reminding me that I am not the vine; all He asks of me is to bear the fruit upon my branch. The only way to bear the good fruit (and to know how to fix my mess) is to grab Jesus’ hand with the same reverence with which I pray, and let him lead me through the vineyard–showing me whom to learn from and whom to love and whom to serve.


**The photos in this post were from my trip with my husband to Ste. Chapelle winery in Caldwell, ID. I refer to this place as God’s breakroom. It was here that God so tenderly answered my prayer for a wise and humble heart while giving me a moment to breath and to enjoy acres of flourishing vineyard.



You were six today



I woke up and you were six years old today. Thinking back to the day you were born, I knew I was getting a gift, but I could never have imagined exactly how special you would be.

You are sweet and sassy and smart– clever with your words and emotions according to your audience and your need for expression.

You are intellectual, imaginative, and inquisitive–indulgent in your desires to learn; reading, writing, and reflecting back upon what you need to know.

You have an artist’s spirit– creative and spiritual and intuitive. Singing and dancing, creating and writing–through music and paint (and lots of glitter), pencil and paper you discover and express and wonder about life and all the lovely (and not so lovely) things it has to offer.

You have a heart for the Lord, a flowering relationship with Jesus, a trusting instinct for the Holy Spirit. You have sincere prayers, thoughtful insight to our loved ones lost, and a child-like understanding of God’s love I wish I had.

You are an observer, soaking in the thoughts and actions happening around you. (A ruminator like your mother.) Thinking, learning, contemplating, and threading life into the depths of your spirit, letting it simmer and rest until parts of it bubble up–ready for exploration and explanation.

You are bold and outspoken when you need to be–expressing injustice, advocacy, and love (oh, how much you love to love!), for the sake of others’ hearts.

Like any young girl, you desire to be older and more mature–taking pride in the moments you handle things on your own; acknowledging and indulging your growing independence.

Yet, you  are six years old. My heart swells because you still seek mommy. You desire the comfort and snuggles that comes with crawling into my lap; peace of mind that you are loved and adored; validation of who you are when I tell you my favorite things about you are your heart and your mind.

You’re my little girl, my Haleybugger–my love bug–my gift whom I love and honor and admire. Happy birthday to you!


An Honest Day's Post

Today is one of those days where if you asked me, “How are you?” I’d respond with, “Would you like the comfy answer or the honest one?”

It’s easier for me to flick an “I’m fine” and then invest in you. I think that is more comfortable for everyone. I’d rather know how you are. What has inspired you this week? What made you laugh? What made you mad? What happened in the crevices of your life this week that made you stop and say, ‘Huh.’?

ThinkingThe truth is, dear reader, I’m struggling today. I wanted to come on here and write Part II of “My New Love Connection.” I have the itch to pour words on to a page, words that I hope mean something and inspire you to live life with courage and love today. (Of course I want you to go forth and live in love and courage today!) But those words of inspiration aren’t ready yet–they aren’t honest yet.

Honestly speaking, it’s been a tough week since the news of Papa’s death last Thursday and I am trying to remember that grief is hard–it’s a double-layered process. One layer is personal and the other layer is familial. Each of us in the family is trying to navigate the heaviness of our loss while at the same time we’re communally trekking through a (growing) load of chaos and stress–some of which has nothing to do with Papa’s death. You know the saying, “When it rains, it pours”? Well, it feels like we’re in a torrential downpour right now.

So, you know? Today, I’m not fine. I don’t feel like eating because hunger brings me peace and sense of control; I don’t feel like praying because while on an intellectual level I know He’s by my side, on an emotional level I feel very far away from Him; I don’t feel like editing because the book on my desk is extremely cerebral and my brain is tired; I don’t feel like playing with my kids because they are so full of vim and vigor and I feel like a deflated balloon.  (I DO feel like writing. I DO feel like curling up with a blanket and my cat and sleeping the day away.)

But then again, I am grieving and I am processing. In the midst of my own grief, I am doing my best to support my grieving husband and my grieving in-laws. It has only been a week. That is but a blip of time. Grief needs longer. I am seeing that now. I don’t have too much experience with death. I lost my grandmother in 2007; there was so  much chaos then, too, but I was also in early pregnancy with my daughter. So I thought all my moods and exhaustion were due to hormones. I realize now I was overwhelmed with grief (with a side of preggo-nausea!).

I am going to do all the things I don’t feel like doing because I love my life–and those things I don’t feel like doing actually bring me joy. I am going to do the best I can and know that as long as I am doing my best, then that is good.

Most importantly, I am going to work on having grace in the midst of grief–for myself and for my family. It’s been a crummy week. We have all been through the ringer–and there is more to come. Grace, (while in short supply in my world right now), is what the Lord has for me in abundance. I find comfort in this and want to dwell in it–offer it so my loved ones can feel comfort too.

I pray that you’ll have grace for me dear friends. This is not a happy post, but it is an honest one. I appreciate you greatly for taking the time to read and allowing me to process on the page.

Be well and may you feel peace and courage today!