Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Gratitude for NF

Today is World NF Awareness day. Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a neurological disorder caused by a mutation in the NF1 gene. This is caused by either a parent with NF passing on the mutation (a 50% chance) or a new random mutation. NF happens to 1 in 3000 births, making it a "rare" condition. But it is more common than cystic fibrosis, muscular distrophy, and Huntington's Disease combined. For more information, visit ctf.org. 

For NF Awareness day, I want to express my gratitude for something I never thought I would be thankful for. I am thankful for whatever caused my son's random genetic mutation in his NF1 gene. I know I haven't always been grateful, in fact, I'm usually quite the opposite. Usually I'm saying why him? It's not fair. And it still isn't fair, but neither are many things that happen in this world. Fair is an illusion we all wish was real.

But I am grateful for this experience, as unfair as it is. Before having children, I never gave much thought to what it would be like to raise a child with special needs of any kind. Those types of things always happen to other people right? Wrong. These types of things happen to anyone, indiscriminate of pretty much all factors.

Having a child with this diagnosis is never easy. Sometimes it's downright frightening. But my eyes have been opened to so many things they never would have been otherwise. The level of compassion and understanding I now have for anyone with a chronic illness or disability, or child with either, is not something I would have achieved without this experience. There are some things, many things actually, in life you just can't understand until you experience them yourself.

So I am grateful for the compassion, patience, and empathy I have learned through this experience. I'm grateful for the opportunity to help raise awareness for NF. I'm grateful to be a part of the NF community, a group of people who truly care for one another. And most of all, I'm grateful for the amazing support we have received from our family and friends along this journey. Sometimes the world can be cruel and ugly, but when you receive real support from people you love, it's much easier to see past all of that and into the staggering beauty in the world.

So my thanks goes out into the universe, bringing me one step further on my journey of acceptance of my beautiful son's condition. Because of it, our family will be able to make a difference in the world in a way I never imagined.

If you would like to join us in spreading awareness, the NF Walk will be happening in Portland on July 24th. You can join Team Sebastian here: http://nfwalk.org/portland
 If you'd like to make a donation instead, you can do that here: https://join.ctf.org/fundraise/team?ftid=75933

Monday, May 2, 2016

Solo Vacation

Hello dear readers! I just spent the last several days in sunny San Diego visiting one of my best friends, Lindsay. Do you ever take a vacation without your kids or spouse? This was my first time. About a year ago, Brian and I realized we had never vacationed apart. When you have little kids, and no family super close by, it makes sense to take separate vacations sometimes so you can take turns and not have to pay for babysitting. Family vacations are wonderful, but sometimes you need a break. Nothing makes me appreciate my family more than that deep ache you get when you miss them most.

Beach in La Jolla
I've never done this before because I felt guilty about leaving them with Brian since he's already with them so much. Last year he went to a musical festival with a friend and it was the first time either of us had tried the separate vacation thing. He had a great time and I also had a fun weekend with the kids. Prior to that, I was honestly afraid I couldn't handle them both by myself for several days. I know that's a weird thing for a mom to say, but after Oscar was born, it took me awhile to feel confident that I could take good care of 2 kids on my own. I'm not the most patient mother and I was worried I would lose my cool and not have anyone around to give me a 5 minute break when I needed it (I know, I'm spoiled). It turned out just fine of course and I realized that overwhelming feeling is normal, for me anyway, while having a baby. Now that Oscar's not a baby anymore, I don't feel overwhelmed. Or maybe it's just the confidence that comes with time and practice.

What kind of flower is this?!
So after Brian's trip last year I told myself I needed to stop feeling guilty and take my own trip. It took me the better part of a year to actually plan something, but I'm so glad I did. It's hard to relax at home, even if the kids aren't home, there's so much to do around the house all the time. Cleaning, cooking, organizing, etc. Sitting around always makes me feel like I'm wasting time. It's hard for me to find the balance of allowing myself to relax without feeling lazy or guilty about it. Being away from all of that for a few days is amazingly refreshing. Brian wanted me to take this break so I have no reason to feel guilty. And I'm not in the house staring at all the things to do so there's no reason to feel bad about relaxing and doing nothing.

More beach
Nothing included sleeping in, nice walks around the beach towns and by the ocean, eating out at delicious restaurants, especially seafood (mmm I love being by the ocean), sitting in the sun, laying on the beach, and going to hot yoga for only the second time in my life. It felt so great to sweat that much. That's what I've been missing with my lack of cardio the last few months. Never underestimate the value of a good sweat and how detoxifying it is for your body. Friday was a night out with drinks and food and friends and I had such a great time, it was well worth the mild hangover and sore joints from too much wine. Although I did lay off the alcohol for the rest of the trip.

Am I drunken texting?!
So to all my parent readers, don't be afraid to leave your kids with your spouse for a few days and take a real vacation. The kind with friends and no work and lots of sleep and relaxation. Don't feel guilty because you will be such a better parent when you return. Your kids will appreciate the refreshed you versus the tired, stressed, and overworked you. When I get really stressed out, I am not a very good parent. I get depressed, impatient, and allow life to get too busy to spend quality time with them. That's not the mom I want them to have, so if taking a real break sometimes is what I need to do to be the best mom I can be, then I'm going to do it. And you should too! :)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Woman Redefined

I am a woman, strong and fragile, soul-searching, striving for equality, struggling to rid myself of perfectionism. And I am not alone. Most women I know are fighting the same battle, fighting to defend women, wishing the world would quit telling us who we are. What does define a woman? Is it how feminine she is? How well she abides by her society's gender roles? How pretty she is? How skinny? How nice her tits and ass are? What is it?

I have issues with gender roles (clearly). I make jokes about not being very girly, but really I'm plenty girly. I just have a different definition of what makes a woman a woman. Thankfully my mother did her best to teach us what is important about being a woman. She taught us to be strong and independent. She taught us not to waste too much time on the frivolous things that girls do, to not be too wrapped up in our appearance. She never had destructive literature laying around (a.k.a. beauty magazines), she never watched trash TV, and she encouraged me to wear less make-up and not dress like a skank. Like many teenager girls, I fought her on these things. For a time, I just didn't understand how important it was to learn what she was trying to instill in me. It wasn't that being a girl was bad, it was that all the things the world is trying to make you think you need to do to be accepted as a girl are bullshit. Think for yourself.

Thankfully I did learn this eventually, but not without plenty of issues and heartbreak in the process, the biggest being body image issues. These are so prevalent in women in our society. I used to argue that blaming it on the media was a cop-out. And while I still think there are a lot of other factors, the media sure doesn't help. They are giving us what sells. If so many people didn't like that shit, they wouldn't show it. If more people demanded things were different, then they would be. But for now, the majority of what you see, hear, and read in the media is telling you how you should look and what you need to be doing about it. I do my best to ignore all that because I want to be happy with who I am and how I look. I want it to be ok that I have small boobs and a small ass and a less than perfect body. It should be ok that I don't wear make-up most of the time, don't spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on my hair, nails, or clothes. That I'm happy to not slather chemical-laden creams and sprays and gunk all over myself. Why? Because I'm super confident? Not at all, I'm just as self-conscious as the next girl. It's because I know the truth. All of that shit they push on you will not change you. It will not make you younger, prettier, or happier. Some of it might change your appearance temporarily or give you a fleeting moment of happiness. But if you have body image issues, no amount of make-up, hair product, fake nails, designer clothes, or plastic surgery will fix that.

How would I know? When I was in the midst of battling anorexia, it did not matter how skinny I got, how much weight I lost, how much I worked out, or how little I ate. It was NEVER enough. I always saw myself as fat and ugly. No matter what anyone said, compliments, reassuring, support to get better, none of that made me stop. The change had to happen in me. Not external, perception is a lot more than just physical. It was all a mental battle. As are all body image issues. If you feel bad about your looks, you can do something about it, and I don't mean get a make over. I mean you can get help to fight the mental battle and issues that are causing it. And you can help yourself. I've worked very hard over the years to rid myself of the things that do not help my body image issues. I still have my moments, but it's a lot better than it used to be. I find that reducing my time around things (TV, social media, magazines, etc.) and people that make me feel bad about my appearance really helps. Instead I try to surround myself with people that love me for who I am. It's hard for me to be around women that talk mostly about their appearance and how much time and money they're spending on these things they think will make them feel better. It makes me sad because I know how it feels to believe you need to look and be different than you are. You don't ladies. You can look like you really do, be who you really are. You don't have to cover yourself up with products. You can be happy without all that.

So what does define a woman? To me, it's about beauty beyond the physical exterior. Who she is, what she does, her actions, these things define her, not how she looks. A beautiful woman is confident, compassionate, and caring. She's strong and independent. She stands up for what she believes. She makes up her own mind about who she is, she doesn't let anyone tell her who to be, what to do, or how she should look. She doesn't worry about what the world thinks of her or how much of a woman she is. She knows who she is and she doesn't hide it. That's the woman I hope to be someday. That's a woman redefined.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lovely Weekend

You know the whole "when it rains it pours" thing? Well do I have a story for you about that! In my case, it poured mostly disgusting things. A whole weekend of them... wonderful opportunities to try my hardest to celebrate all the shitty moments in life.

It all started on Thursday with a broken washing machine. I was quickly approaching an overflowing basket of dirty laundry that I had planned to do this weekend. Inconvenient, but manageable. But then Friday morning started with us noticing a slightly funky smell in the house. At first it just smelled like the garbage needed to go out or maybe something in the fridge had gone over. Brian spent the morning searching for the source but was unsuccessful. They mostly spent the day outside away from the smell. When I got home from work and stepped in the house, the smell was so bad I wanted to vomit. After lots of sniffing around I finally noticed it seemed to be coming from the air vent by the sliding glass door in the back. Not just the smell of garbage, but the smell of death. Something had died either under the house or in the air duct, we were sure of it. Of course it was after 5, so we could not get a hold of our property manager. I covered the vent to try and make it bearable and spent as little time downstairs as possible. Saturday morning Brian opened all the windows and setup a fan to try and blow the smell out, keeping it livable but still disgusting. Then he dressed himself up in this awesome outfit:

...and was brave enough to get down in the crawl space and look around. Sebastian insisted on going with him, fully covered and with a mask on. It wasn't until they crawled around for awhile that Brian realized there was rat piss and shit everywhere. So back up they came with word of the rat damage and not positive where the source was. There is a decent sized opening where the air conditioner duct goes under the house that even a very fat rat could easily squeeze into. So Brian dug around there looking for more evidence and found nothing. He also tried vacuuming out the air vent but also found nothing but dirt.

I spent all this time obsessively cleaning the house. I wasn't brave enough to go down with the rats, as my immune system is not very strong and I would likely be that one person to catch the hantavirus or the plague. So I cleaned everything I could. All this cleaning and rat hunting meant we weren't keeping a perfect eye on Oscar, who was running around naked like he enjoys. He pooped on the floor twice and peed all over the stairs. Yep, potty training is still two steps forward and one step back most days and Saturday was no exception.

Finally the property manager called us back but said he'd called around and couldn't find any pest control people that were available to come to the house that day. He would keep trying but we did not want to wait around for him to find someone. Brian suited up again, sans Sebastian this time, and went back down into the rat pit, this time armed with some old scissors so he could cut loose some of the insulation where he had a hunch the death smell was hiding. And right he was. He cut loose the insulation above the air duct right near the vent where we smelled it, and splat went a dead, maggoty rat. He also found several skeletons which means rats have been around for a lot longer than just this week. Lovely.

Pest control people should be coming out this week to assess the damage, lay some bait traps, and see what else we can do to prevent this. I requested no poison sprayed and thankfully they said they rarely do that anymore, so hopefully that will not be necessary. I am concerned about our compost pile which lives in the backyard as far away from the house as possible, but still awfully close even for a rat. Compost is the best way to make good fertilizer for your home garden, and reduce kitchen waste, so I do not want to get rid of it. I think instead I'll start looking into bins to keep it in and the rats out. Anyone else have ideas on rat prevention, let us know please!

With the house much cleaner and smelling 1000 times better, I escaped to dinner with one of my dearest friends, which saved my sanity! I headed into Sunday thinking it would be a good day. Which it was...well, it had it's ups and downs. We took Ginger to a Greyhound walk which she thoroughly enjoyed and the kids got to play at the park there. In the afternoon we planted some more in our garden and got some yard work done. In the process I found this beauty:

...because why wouldn't a big-ass, monster spider appear on this most lovely of weekends? Fine, whatever, it least it was outside. But it still wasn't done dumping nasty all over us. We had an empty bin in the backyard that we use to collect rainwater and use it to water the grass. It has a tendency to grow moss and mildew though so I went to dump it out before it got worse. As I dumped it. I got a whiff of another horrible, dead smell! WTF?!?! I hosed off the grass where I had dumped it right away and discovered a tiny little skeleton with a beak. I guess a bird died in there? No idea how but I'd had enough of nasty smells for one weekend so this was pretty revolting.

Then from inside the house I hear, "will you hose off this mat? Oscar stepped in dog poop. The other rug inside is even worse."

What's next?! Bring it, whatever it is, I doubt it will surprise me!

Saturday, April 2, 2016


When I posted one of my last posts about priorities to Facebook, I tagged my beautiful friend Catterina and mentioned her #30daysofcelebration of #lifeasafestival movement that she's started. I've been meaning to write more about it since I'm guessing the rest of my friends can't see the wonderful things she's been posting about this. The purpose is to encourage people to celebrate life as a festival, meaning if your life was a festival, what would that look like? It's about getting out of your comfort zone and not being afraid to do whatever it is that feels good at that moment, whether it's singing, laughing, crying, or skipping. And probably most importantly, it's about celebrating every moment of your life, even the shitty ones.

Celebrating life when things aren't going the way you'd like is a challenge. I've spent the last several weeks extremely irritated with my body. I'm still doing physical therapy for my knee and working on trying to reintroduce all the foods from my elimination diet, and none of it is going well. I was feeling a lot better a few weeks ago. I'd gotten through all of the lower reactive foods on my list and physical therapy seemed to have really helped both my knee and my back. Then I started running a little bit and also started reintroducing the higher reactive foods on the list. One or both of those things has caused the pain in my knee to return full force. I stopped running of course and haven't had much success with any of the new foods I've tried, everything either gives me a stomach ache, headache, or sinus congestion. And now this week we've had GORGEOUS weather, which is awesome, but everything is covered in a nice layer of pollen so it's hard to know if my headaches and sinus congestion are from seasonal allergies or food. All I know is I only have 2 more things left on my food list to get through but now I feel like I have to stop and wait for everything to feel better before I continue.

I am so FUCKING frustrated! It's been almost a year since I've been able to run without pain. And it's been over 4 months of physical therapy and dieting. I feel like I'm doing everything natural that I can do to help my body get back to health but I'm confronted with a new challenge at every turn. Things feel good for awhile, and then horrible again, and I just can't take this roller coaster shit any more. On top of it all, or probably because of it all, my insomnia is back from hell again after only a short time of it having been gone. Life is hard enough with a full nights sleep, eating whatever food I want, and exercising as much as I want without pain. Trying to get through a day on shitty sleep, a severely restrictive diet, and no cardio is making me crazy.

It's a serious challenge for me to share my vulnerability with you, or anyone for that matter. Mostly I feel obligated to be strong, put on that fake mask that everything's ok. You know what I'm talking about. I watch friends do it all the time. Admit that life is stressing them out to no end, and in the next breath when someone asks how they're doing, they smile and say "really good!" We're all guilty of it. None of us wants to be vulnerable. Opening up and telling someone that we feel like we're sucking at life leaves us feeling exposed, with all of our truths and flaws out in the open for people to see. We're all too worried about appearing perfect. When the truth is there are few perfect moments in life. That's why we have to learn to celebrate all of the moments, especially the less than perfect ones.

Remembering to celebrate life really does help me get through the shittiest of moments. No matter what the shit is, there's always still so much good to celebrate. My body may not be doing what I want, but I still have so much. I can still pick up my kids and hold them tight. I can still kiss my amazing husband. I can still walk and pet my sweet dog. I still have my mind, with all it's intelligence and craziness, happiness and depression, love and hate. I still have the ability to love and care for my family. I still have this beautiful place that I live in to enjoy.  I can still write.

So I'm going to embrace this imperfect moment for everything it has to teach me. After all, who would we be without all the challenges in life that make us who we are?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Liebster Award

My dear friend Danielle at Sparkles and Lattes nominated me for a Liebster Award. This award is a way to help bloggers that you love to read get a little more traffic. I have known Danielle since my internship in college, so for over 10 years! (Holy shit did you realize it's been that long?!) Anyways she was graduating and I was taking her job and we got to work together for a week while she trained me. We were instant friends and have stayed in touch even after we left Reno. So here's a huge thank you to Danielle for your wonderful friendship. And the nomination too! She gave me 11 questions to answer about myself, so here you go:

What is your guilty pleasure show?
X-Files, still trying to finish the old series before I watch the new one (yep, I'm a nerd). 

What is your least favorite food?
Fennel. The smell makes me gag.

Where was your best vacation?
Burning Man. Costa Rica was amazing as well.

Where did your blog name come from?
From my desire to fill up a journal for once! And also to not be afraid of people reading what I would write in a journal.

If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive) who would it be, and why?
Any of my grandparents or great-grandparents, but especially my mom's dad who died when I was 4. I've grown up hearing so much about him but wish I could've known him myself.

What is your favorite movie?
Not sure. I like all the nerdy ones best probably, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, Matrix, Star Trek.

What is one thing you learned from blogging?
The braver I am in my writing, the more people respond.

What was your first dance song when you got married?
Everything by Lifehouse

What is your favorite dessert?
Homemade raw vegan ones like cheesecakes, banana cream pie, chocolate pie. And 85% organic fair trade dark chocolate. Yum.

How did you come up with your children's name(s)?
Sebastian Oliver- Johann Sebastian Bach, Oliver Wood, and Oliver Twist
Oscar Leo- Oskar Schindler, Oscar Wilde, and Leonardo DaVinci

What is your favorite sports team(s)?
None! I find watching sports on TV to be very boring. I'd much rather go do something active then to watch other people be active.

My Nominees
I have no idea how many followers my nominees have, so I'll just nominate those I think will appreciate it most.
Megan from Eat Love Nourish
Lisa from Hip-Baby Mama 
Maria from Mommy, you know what?
Kristy from Then Everything Changed

My 11 Questions for My Nominees
If you have kids and/or pets, how did you come up with their names?
Where was your best vacation?
If you could go hiking anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive) who would it be, and why?
What is your favorite vegetable?
Do you like to cook? Why or why not?
What is one thing you learned from blogging?
Why do you blog?
What are your goals as a writer?
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Now that you're an adult, what do you want to be when you grow up? :) 

The Official Rules of the Liebster Award:
Thank the Blogger that nominated you in your post and link back to their site.
Display the Liebster Award logo on your blog.
Answer 11 questions from the Blogger that nominated you.
Nominate 5-11 Bloggers with less than 1000 followers
Ask your nominees to answer 11 questions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


You see that adorable boy? That's Oscar. He's officially out of the crib and into Sebastian's car bed. That's my baby. He isn't a baby anymore. He's a little boy. A running, crazy talking, wild man. It happened so fast. I know everyone says that, "it goes so fast". Sounds cliche even repeating it because you hear it so much from older parents. But oh man is it true. And I know it will only go faster. I don't even want to imagine it going any faster.

Realizing how fast it's going is making me constantly reevaluate my life and how I'm spending my time. Our society is setup for distraction, so it's easy to lose sight of what's important. There's too many things wasting our time and stressing us out that just don't matter. I feel the only way to avoid this is to figure out what's most important and prioritize those things. And here they are:

1) Survival
2) Happiness

That's right ladies and gentlemen, I just boiled life down into the only 2 things that actually matter. Over-simplification is key here as we are purposefully trying to forget all the small things. Survival might sound like a given, but we often put things that will help us survive on the back-burner, like eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. You can only survive as a couch potato, eating junk food, and staying up all night for so long, it will eventually catch up to you. Staying healthy means staying alive. And happiness... well for me that's all about love; being with the people you love and doing the things you love.

With these two things in mind, I'm trying to find all the things that are wasting time in my life and get rid of them. Things like obsessively cleaning my house, stressing out about how little cardio I'm still able to do, worrying about money, work, or basically anything we'd coin a first-world problem, it's all a complete waste of my life. But you know what isn't? Spending time with Brian and the kids, cooking my family a healthy meal, doing yoga, going for a hike, camping, reading, writing, singing, gardening...and taking the time to think about what is actually important to my happiness.

So if you write me on social media and I take a week to reply, you know why. If you come over to my house and think "god what a mess", I hope you follow up that thought with, "good for her". If you try to make plans with us and get the reply more than once that we'll be busy, it's because we'll be camping, hiking, and adventuring as much as possible. But you are always welcome to join us. :)