Saturday, February 13, 2016

Through the tears

"I'm sorry. There is no heart beat."

Those were the words spoken right before the sorrow and anguish hit. This week has held more agony than I thought possible. But it has also held more love than I have ever known before ever ever. And that's what I want to write about.

I fell in love with a boy when I was fifteen years old. We became grown ups with dreams and plans for a future together. He asked me to marry him at the front of our church on a Sunday morning in front of all of our family and friends. We built a home together...literally bricks and all. We brought our two precious children to that home from the hospital.  At times we grew together and others we grew separately. We hit lows that took lots of tears, prayer, forgiveness, grace, and time to dig out of. We healed. We became stronger. And then we were thrown for a loop when an expired, seven year old pregnancy test came out positive. But there was no heart beat. After 12 weeks of dreaming, hoping, planning, we were left with emptiness.

There are no words. No possible way I can describe for you what it feels like. I don't want to even try. Nothing would do it justice. But in the midst of that pain my husband, that boy I said yes to 14 years ago, was the most incredible example of Christ's love for me. I have never been so raw, so fragile and Levi protected me, cherished me, held me, covered me in his tears and prayers, and began my healing process. His hands gave me strength, kept me grounded, held me up. He was suffering alongside me but was burdened even more by being my rock, my defender, my partner in grief. God's Word tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. I am telling you, I have never been more aware of how much Jesus loves me, loves all of us, as I have been this week.

Addie's first grade teacher sent me a beautiful quote and I have found so much truth in it. "If we do not grieve, we cannot be comforted. That is where we 'live' within the suffering."

Every text of, "you are loved," "I am here for you," "we are praying," every lovingly prepared meal, every beautiful card, the bright yellow flowers, the chocolate, the lovely smelling soaps, the coffee, the "I've been there and you too will one day not hurt like you do now," all were like warmth from the sun. Nothing takes away the pain but the hurt doesn't lessen the incredible feeling of being loved. I treasure all of those gifts of comfort and I understand that without this loss I would not have the honor of being comforted.

Having experienced comfort and love from others has given me a new understanding of compassion and what ways I can show love to others who are experiencing grief. Space is a big deal. At least it has been for me. I think everyone grieves and heals differently but it has been so important for me to have space to do as I feel. To figure out what I feel. Simple words of love have been so meaningful yet safe because they comfort me without forcing me to relive hard memories. I have so many friends who have dealt with miscarriage and I never truly I do. And I hope that someday I can add some warmth to someone's day with a simple squeeze to the hand and to say, "I've been there. It will be okay." I will check on the dads and not just ask how the mom is doing because that man lost a child too and needs just as much comfort. I have already and will continue to lift those friends of mine facing the same suffering of a lost child up in prayer more regularly because I now know their pain and a part of me is grateful for that. Grateful for the call and given responsibility to comfort as I have been comforted.

More than anything I have been healing by God's truth. Satan wants us to believe lies that destroy us, that lead us to depression. I've been there. I've experienced depression in my past. For me it was a place of numbness, not caring, feeling nothing. I REFUSE to let my child's life coming to an end take me back to that place because the very fact that our child ever existed at all was a beautiful miracle crafted by the Creator. And I have much to rejoice for in the midst of my suffering for you see, our little bird, as we have lovingly called this baby, is waiting for us in eternity. Our story isn't over. It doesn't end. It continues after death and for that I have never been more grateful. I feel so much desire for God's kingdom to come so we can be reunited with our child yet I am still tethered to this world because there is much work to do. I have these two amazing big kids who I delight in and it is my ultimate prayer and desire for them to love and know Jesus and for us to share eternity together.

I have begun praying this scripture over my family, "I pray that God, the source of HOPE, will fill you completely with JOY and PEACE because you trust in Him. Then you will OVERFLOW with CONFIDENT HOPE through the POWER of the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 15:13)
One morning while we were in Hawaii, just two weeks ago, I was lying in bed, the breeze was blowing through the windows. I was rubbing my belly while I listened to Jack and Addie's chatter over Levi's grizzly bear snores and I thought to myself, "I have never been happier in my whole life." At first that memory made me sad. I felt like that kind of joy was now impossible. But I realize that it is moments like the one in Hawaii that are just small glimmers of what eternity will feel like. And that is where our true hope comes from. It comes from the truth that one day we will live every moment like that moment and our joy will never end. There will be no death. There will be no sorrow. And our story will be more beautiful than ever.

Knowing God's promises doesn't make the tears stop. The sorrow still exist today and probably tomorrow and however long it takes. I'm okay with that. Losing a child is worthy of grief. I have barely begun to make my way back into real life and when I have made effort to be around people I feel weird and they feel weird. I went for a run today. It was sunny and warm and healing. I felt stronger for it. I still cried a bit. I can't wear makeup. No point. But I can curl my hair and making an effort at normalcy feels good. I guess what I'm saying is even though all of that up there sounds like I've got this all figured out and I'm actively seeking joy, I still will need some grace. Long hugs are probably not a good idea. I don't want to talk about it unless I bring it up. If I cry that's kinda the norm right now so just go with it. If I laugh or smile or crack a joke (because I am just so stinkin funny), it doesn't mean that I won't cry two seconds later. I may be distant at times. My smile might be fake and I might be awkward for the sake of lightening the mood. I've never done this before. I don't know how to be normal again but I'm sure I'll get there...or I'll just settle in to being weird. Don't avoid me. Just be awkward with me. Continue to pray for us and know that you are a blessing to our hearts.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hell is actually cold...and very techie.

Two days before we left for Hawaii I took a meat cleaver to my iPhone. I'm serious. I'm talking about that really huge, ax looking thing in the chopping block that apparently is used to cleave meat. Whatever that means.

I was trying to break up frozen bananas for my new and favorite tummy soothing smoothie and decided the meat cleaver was my best option. Unfortunately my aim was poor and I missed the bananas and landed straight on my phone. 

I need my phone like I need air. It has my calendar, my food journals, my email, camera, Netflix, my Kindle, my Nordstrom and Lulu apps, Blogger, and of course Facebook. So naturally I had to get it fixed immediately...  Especially since we were headed for vacay. 

Levi made me an appointment on Tuesday at the Apple Store in North Park. I figured I would return some things, get a little shopping done and spend 30 minutes getting my phone fixed. Wham, bam and home before school gets out. Sounds like a pretty great day to me. But no. Let me tell you about this place they call the Apple Store. 

It looks cool from the outside of the store. There are trendy nerds dressed in red shirts carrying iPads, all the latest Apple gadgets line the walls and tables, and there are huge screens with gorgeous pictures of technology in the form of art everywhere.  But when you walk in it becomes a frigid hell. Those nerds are actually carrying pitch forks to prod you into the next line or table where you will wait bored out of your mind because there is no cell phone service inside North Park. Your butt will become sore sitting on the modern torture stools but soon it will go numb because you will eventually freeze. They blast the AC because they want you to cry and give up. I'm certain of it. Despite my appointment time of 11:30, I did not get helped until 12:20. 

This little pitch fork carrying, 19 year old, so-called nerd comes over to me and hovers above me while supposedly looking up my account. He starts pounding away at his iPad so hard that I think his finger is going to snap. After he has written a short novel he tells me he is going to take my phone and ATTEMPT to fix it. Despite having Apple Care he reads me off a long list of reasons they may find my Apple Care null and void and if that's the case I'm SOL or significantly poorer. So the demon nerd takes my phone and tells me to return in two hours. TWO HOURS!!! 

I'm a mom!! I have kids to pick up and take to get hair cuts and after school activities. I do not have two hours to piddlefart around. So I call my trusty sidekick Jim (not true, he's Batman and I'm Robin 90% of the time) and he does it all. Total life saver!!

So there I am stuck in a mall without a phone and a whole 120 minutes to myself and I am miserable! I can't shop! What would I buy??? Nothing will fit in a month. I tried. I looked for sundresses that will fit loosely over my growing belly but everyone was still in winter mode. The kids are pretty stocked up on clothes but I searched sales racks just in case something amazing was hiding. I found enough that I was able to blow through all the cash I had pulled out for Hawaii. Aimless shopping is so dangerous. 

I decided to have lunch and went to La Madelines to enjoy some tomatoe basil soup. That was awkward. Just sitting at a table all alone without a phone or magazine or friend was just lonely. And this elderly woman sat alone in the table across from me so we were facing each other and it was like we were eating together but not and we kept making eye contact but were too far apart to talk. So, yeah... Awkward. 

My eternal two hours were finally up and I  made it back to the world where 20 year olds were smarter than everyone over the age of 30. I once again waited and waited and was finally presented with my fixed phone and a bill... Despite Apple Care. 

I'm so grateful that is all over. I managed to eat crap and drink sugar all day long and paid for it by throwing up in the parking lot. Eh... It's a part of life right now. I'm no longer even bothered by it. But the nausea is getting better and I am often reminded of the absolute blessing it is to be honored with the struggles of growing a child because I know this miracle should never be taken for granted.

Everyone should try this smoothie. It isn't just for those of us with alien prunes. That's right. The baby app said the baby is the size of a prune. My mom apparently checked her app before I did and sent me this pic.
I swear I thought she was sending me a picture of someone holding poo!!!! Now that I've totally disgusted you and you may be feeling nauseous, try this recipe. It is great for the digestive system and settles the tummy.

Tummy Soother Smootie
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 cup frozen banana (do not have you phone nearby when chopping into pieces)
1 cup coconut water
1/4 cup parsley
1 TBSP avocado
1 TSP grated fresh ginger
1 TSP powdered probiotic

Blend well and enjoy!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Human Growing Is Hard

Remember how just last week I said that I wanted to soak up every minute of this pregnancy and just enjoy the moment??? Well I’m over that. Actually I am SOOOOO over this morning sickness bullcrap.

Every morning around 1am I wake up, room spinning and stomach rolling. I lie in bed as still as I can until the alarm goes off and have to get up to get my big kids up and ready for school while trying not to vomit on them. Most days Levi persuades me to stay in bed and sleep off the rest of the nausea which doesn’t actually start to subside until close to 9 and then I get a couple blessed hours of sleep before the guilt of being in bed at 11am starts to make me nauseous again.

I am pretty much a miserable human being right now. I really miss sleep. Which only reminds me that sleep may just be a thing of the past because, well, I’m about to have a baby…and they don’t typically sleep when you want them to.

I’ve had a few panicked breakdowns already. The evenings come fast and hard and all this baby growing is apparently hard work and quite fatiguing so in the midst of running Jack and Addie from practice to practice I pretty much have been overwhelmed with the absolute impossibility of having a nursing infant in the middle of all of our chaos. So tears flow a lot. I can’t seem to come up with a reasonable plan to make life work after baby. Hormones definitely don’t help although I swear I will rip your face off if you try to blame my emotions on hormones.

I am still working out and doing CrossFit. I haven’t had much energy due to all the human growing happening and lack of sleep so I stick to lighter weights (which is pretty much my norm anyways) and have focused on running a bit more. I always feel so much better once I’ve worked out and have yet to throw up in the middle of class, even after doing inverted burpees…which were so fun!

Here is my confession: This baby loves carbs! The non paleo kind. I’m trying not to overdo it and keep to healthier versions of these evils but it has recently gotten painfully/wonderfully difficult. Every morning I eat a piece of Ezekiel bread toasted just to get something on my tummy. I can’t tell you how long it has been since I’ve used a toaster! Or eaten sandwich bread! Lunch has typically been me resisting the call of carbs and sticking to simply a couple of eggs or some salmon over spinach with cherry tomatoes covered in too much salt. Sometimes I give in and enjoy a giant bowl of quinoa oatmeal. It’s a not-so-guilty pleasure since it is a complete protein and absolutely delicious with some mixed berries and a little honey! Dinner is various paleoish foods that are quickly becoming off limits because once I’m sick after eating something it can never be eaten again.

I have resisted taking Zofran since I am typically able to keep my food down as long as I’m able to stay really still but with our trip to Hawaii just a week and a half away I am going ahead and getting an Rx just in case. The throwing up in an airplane bathroom after someone has pooed in it just horrifies me. I do have hope that I won’t even need the Zofran, though, because I have found my morning sickness cure…Loaded baked potatoes. Like the white kind. With cheese and sour cream... And BBQ sauce.

We went to our dear friends, the Bostwick’s, Grand Opening of B-Tactical’s new store and office/Baby Gender announcement party and I had a loaded baked potato at the BBQ place and slept like a baby with absolutely no nausea that night!!! And then woke up and felt not awful!!!! So clearly it was the baked potato which is what I have eaten for every meal since. I know it’s just terrible…all that dairy and lack of any fiber (I haven't pooed since!) or nutrients whatsoever but I’m just grateful for the calories at the moment and the lack of vomit. I am counting on those prenatal vitamins to fill in the gaps right now and I’m going to focus on catching back up on some much needed sleep and not worry so much about my unfortunate miracle food.

This little carb loving alien inside of me is now the size of a green olive which has been my biggest food craving…although I have not given into it yet. But the comparison confuses me a bit since I now kinda want to eat my baby olive. Totally kidding!! I would never eat my baby! But my mouth does water every time I open that Bump app and that sweet little olive shows up on the screen.

My belly seems so much bigger this week to me but I was told that I've had food babies larger than this real live olive baby which is sadly true...I can pack away some food. But my belly sticks out enough for me to have something to rub and to remind me that I am not suffering in vain. 

Jack and Addie have learned way more about the birds and the bees than I was prepared to be teaching but even that has been a fun adventure. Both kids have the What to Expect app on their iPads and every Friday they watch the cool video that shows our baby’s growth and latest accomplishment.  Jack always wants to skip to the next week, probably in hopes that our sweet little darling will begin to look more adorable and less creepy. I told the kids that I don’t want to skip ahead. That I will never be 9 weeks pregnant ever again. Both kids were quick to say, “that’s what you thought the last time you were pregnant.” So I replied that Mommy and Daddy were taking care of things so that it would be impossible for us to have any more babies. Curiosity led to wanting to know how it would be impossible and I said that Daddy would have a quick little surgery that would make sure that no more babies get made. But here’s the problem: they haven’t ever really considered Daddy’s role in all of the baby making stuff. I’m pretty sure they have thought I’m solely responsible for our little olive. Addie immediately says, “Why would Daddy get a surgery so that YOU don’t get pregnant? That doesn’t make sense!!” I realized all too quickly that I had dug quite the hole. I muttered something about how babies get made by a mommy AND a daddy and then quickly changed the subject to talk of a possible new pet…which is soooooo not going to happen. I know more questions are coming…I just hope Levi is the one that gets the next round. 

While I am not cooking and barely eating I don’t have any new recipes to post BUT I have decided to use this time to release my Paleo Cashew ‘Sour Cream’ Chicken Enchilada recipe.


For the tortillas:
8 eggs
2 TBSP melted coconut oil
1 cup arrowroot powder or tapioca flour
2 TBSP Coconut flour
1 tsp sea salt

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined. In a large nonstick skillet pour just enough batter to lightly coat the bottom of the skillet to all sides. Cook for about one minute on medium and flip. Cook for one more minute. Set tortilla aside on paper towel covered plate and continue until all tortillas are made.

For the Cashew ‘sour cream’ Sauce:
1 cup raw cashews , soaked in hot water for 2 hours
1 TBSP lemon juice
¼ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup water

Add all ingredients to food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

For the Filling:
Shredded cooked chicken for 1 whole chicken (I buy the rotisserie chickens at Brookshires)
5 green onions, chopped
1 small red onion, diced
1 lb spinach
1 4 oz can green chilies
1 TBSP minced garlic
2 TBSP olive oil

Sautee red onion until translucent. Add garlic, ½ of the green onions, green chilies, and spinach. Sautee 3 to 4 more minutes. Add chicken and ½ of the cashew cream sauce and mix well.

To prepare tortillas:
Place ¼ cup of filling in each tortilla, roll up and place into a large casserole dish. Once dish is full pour remaining Cashew Cream Sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with remaining green onions.
Bake in over at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with salsa verde and sweet potato chips.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

We are having an alien shaped raspberry!!!!

I’m a planner. I like calendars, schedules, day-planners. I keep a detailed calendar on my phone that covers my Sunshine Shoppe, The Core, our family appointments, and the kid’s gazillion activities plus a whiteboard calendar in my kitchen with the family activities and another one at work with appointments and Core schedule. These keep me sane. I like to know what is coming next.

Every year in December Levi and I make goals for the next year. We are really good at meeting our goals. We have big goals for 2016…
1.     Finish our upstairs game room/kitchen.
2.     Knock out the wall between office and downstairs kitchen, repaint, new flooring, new French doors (Levi hasn’t exactly gotten onboard with this project yet.)
3.     Purchase the lot next to The Core and prepare for expansion.
4.     Introduce the kids to a new part of the world…Hawaii
5.     Run all three Spartan races….Sprint, Super and Beast and earn our Trifecta metals.

Personally, I want to start making more time for my own fitness. I get so caught up in the business side of owning a gym and health food store while juggling the kid’s crazy social schedules that I have lately neglected my workouts and I am dedicated to making my fitness a priority again. My health and fitness goals boil down to being more toned by dropping 2% body fat mass and getting a muscle-up. (Great abs would be nice too.)

Writing all of that makes me want to puke. It seemed so doable just four weeks ago. But I feel like puking a lot lately all thanks to the oh so shocking surprise of that little plus sign on the expired seven year old pregnancy test we had to dig out of the back of our bathroom cabinet.

Having a baby was not in the plan…at all. In fact, we were planning on Levi getting a vasectomy this month and one week before we took the pregnancy test I had sold all of our baby clothes and equipment!

Jack and Addie are just so easy. Sure they are busy but they wake up in the morning and get ready on their own and entertain themselves until my coffee has taken affect. They don’t require stuff to go somewhere. We don’t need diaper bags or car seats. They just get in the car and we go. We were even planning on getting me a smaller SUV this year! Jack and Addie are fun and enjoyable to be around and are the best little travel buddies. They have the sweetest friendship I’ve ever seen between a brother and sister and we had absolutely no plans to throw a wrench in this seemingly dreamy world we had entered once they became school aged.

God had other plans. God has giant wrenches in the form of teeny, alien looking creatures that are the size of a raspberry but still manages to make me pee every 30 minutes, throw up for half of the day, and want to go to bed by 7.  I mean, this baby is going to find the cure for cancer or something because our pregnancy prevention methods have worked for seven years, and one month before we make ourselves an official family of four God reminds us He is in control regardless of our methods and plans.

Baby 3 will be 10 years younger than Jack and almost 8 years younger than Addie. Jack will be a Junior in High School when this baby goes to Kindergarten. Addie can be done with Med-School by the time the baby graduates High School. We will go eight years with just one child living at home and I will be 51 and Levi 53 when this baby goes to college. We could even have grandkids in school before this baby graduates!

I know I sound disappointed. We are actually the very furthest from that. We are super ecstatic about our little surprise. It just took a few days to wrap our heads around it. But oh my goodness we are barely 8 weeks into this pregnancy and it is already so much fun! Having older kids makes this pregnancy a completely different experience because they understand and can be a part of all the excitement. Telling Jack and Addie was something I will never ever forget. They were completely shocked and happy but admittedly nervous about what a new baby will mean for our family dynamic. We told them right before we left for Angel Fire, New Mexico so we had many hours in the car to talk through all of our worries, fears, and plans for the future. We laughed about the silly baby names the kids were coming up with. Try to imagine little baby Wanda Pope. Addie declared she will happily change diapers as long as Jack is the snot-sucker-outer once I showed them this crazy contraption called a NoseFrida.

We feel like we’ve been given this amazing miraculous precious gift. With Jack and Addie I was always looking forward to the next milestone and, as much as I enjoyed their baby years, I feel like they flew by before I realized I couldn’t ever have them back. And now we get to do it all over again but this time we are going to soak every second up. I am in no hurry to rush through this pregnancy. This is the last time we will be a family of four and sharing this baby excitement with Jack and Addie makes me want to just be in this moment right now. It is why we announced our pregnancy so early. We wanted Jack and Addie to be in this with us and we knew they wouldn’t be able to keep our little surprise a secret.

I am also really excited to be as healthy as I am and continue on with our paleoish way of eating throughout the pregnancy as well as continue with CrossFit. I still plan to get that muscle up this year…whether it is before or after belly will remain to be seen. Dropping an additional 2% of body fat is obviously not going to happen but I still plan to focus on my fitness and work on staying toned and in shape…even if it is more of a round shape. The Spartan Trifecta is going to have to become a 2017 goal despite my best efforts to convince Levi to let me try to do it pregnant. I am hoping to blog through the next nine months about my nutrition and fitness choices, challenges and accomplishments made. I am sooooo excited to have a sweet round belly again and plan to keep this baby fed with all the foods God intended our little one to thrive on.

So far I’m feeling pretty blah. The nausea starts around 3 in the morning and lasts until about 3 in the afternoon. But let me tell you, after 3 I feel like a million bucks and am finally ready to eat, everything! I hit a wall around 7, which I must plow through because our workdays are long and the kids’ afterschool activities go well past that time. I am taking the Garden of Life Raw Prenatal at night but stopped for the last couple of days because I suspected they were causing me to sleep restlessly.  It doesn’t seem like my lack of sleep can be blamed on them any longer, though.  I have also doubled my dosage of Omega-3s and continuing with my B vitamins and Vitamin D. I find myself wanting seafood all the time and beef makes me want to gag. I was sad about having to give up wine but had read that a small glass was okay so I held onto that hope. When I had a couple of sips the other night at my birthday dinner, however, I wasn’t into it and preferred my water…which was a bummer. I am naturally choosing teas over coffee and had started to do that before the shocking revelation of my soon to be baby bump. I am really focusing on getting enough water and I’m continuing with adding fresh squeezed lemon juice and chia seeds to one of my water bottles a day. I have done this for a while now and love the results. The lemon helps pull toxins from my body and flush them out and the chia seeds provide much needed fiber and omega-3s. For anyone wanting to jumpstart some weight loss this is a great little cocktail. Add some grapefruit for an added fat burning boost!

We will see how things change as this pregnancy progresses but for now my biggest hurdle is reminding myself to slow down and just enjoy the moment. It has really made me rethink my plans for this year…obviously. Instead of wanting to tackle everything at once and dive in head first into all of our crazy projects I am more willing to take things at a slower rate and focus on being where I am at the moment. I really struggle with the juggling of life…all working moms do I’m sure. I feel like I am always trying to be all things at all times and I have decided that this year I am going to do things differently. When I am at work I am going to bust my little tail but when I’m with my family or at home taking care of household responsibilities I am going to focus solely on that. No more responding to texts or Facebook messages when I’m supposed to be off work. Work will have to keep until the next day because I’m not going to miss out on the important stuff anymore. I found this really great app called Evernote which allows me to keep track of all the correspondence I need to reply to the next day. I’m really loving it and recommend it for any professional juggler.

2016 is going to be just the best/scariest/emotional/crazy/joy-filled year! It’s a new chapter to our story and I can’t wait (not true...everything is already going too fast) to see what an amazing little person God has created and entrusted to our family. I have no doubt we will accomplish all of our goals but they may have to come about a little slower than originally planned.

And for the first time in my life I am okay with that.