Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Green Monster

(And no, Bostonians, this is not a reference to Fenway Park.)

Around Christmas time, I had the opportunity to sit down with my best friend and discuss the year that had just past. When we got past the heavy part of the conversation, she told me that she was going to start drinking this drink called the Green Monster that she had recently discovered. When she described it to me, it sounded disgusting! But she said that it was supposed to increase your energy and help you not crave sugar as much, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Honestly, this drink looks really gross and I thought the texture was going to be a big deal for me, but it's actually not bad at all. My husband will even drink it! Let me tell you, if he will drink something good for him, it can't be that bad! The website says to drink it every day, but my best friend and I both went to every other day without even talking to each other about it.

If I'm being honest again, I haven't noticed an increase in energy or that I'm craving sugar any less. But it actually just tastes like banana and it's super easy to make, so I figure it's just an easy way to get a few more fruit and vegetable servings into a day.

The website has lots of variations of the recipe on it. Below is how I make mine:

Green Monster

In a blender, combine the ingredients below in the order they are listed.

2 tablespoons flax seed
2 cups raw baby spinach
1 banana
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup milk

Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

See? Looks NASTY! But if you can get past the look (and please, PLEASE don't smell it!) it REALLY DOES just taste like banana!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Manual settings and kitchen utensils

I used to use the manual settings on my camera all the time. But lately, I've just been setting the aperture and letting the camera do that rest.

Well, yesterday I decided to experiment a little bit around the house and that meant photographing anything from throw pillows, to vases, to plants, and even kitchen utensils:

I really love the one of the whisk! I'm actually thinking about framing it for my kitchen.

Monday, April 26, 2010


...that I can keep a plant alive:

Do you see that? It's a new little leaf growing out of my orchid!

My hubby is the plant caregiver in our house. I'm bad at remembering to water them. I actually had an orchid a few years ago and killed it. But my mother-in-law gave me this orchid for Christmas and I was determined to keep it alive.

My mom has a beautiful orchid, so I asked her for some tips. It turns out you only have to water it once a week! Perfect for me! But when my blossoms fell off, I was convinced that it would end up dying and I would never get it to blossom again. It hasn't blossomed again yet, but when I saw this new little leaf growing, I was SO excited!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dear Tufts...

Thank you for your letter reminding me that my health insurance is past due. See the thing is though, I would have gladly paid it on time, as I do every month, if I had ever received a bill in the first place. Your kind customer service representative assured me that I must have received it. Let me assure you, I did not.

You might think that I have the due dates and amounts of all my bills memorized, but let me assure you again, I do not. There are simply too many bills to pay. I would walk around depressed every day if I had to do that. You have now received your payment, out of my own pocket because my employer pays none of it. Next month, please actually send me a bill. I will gladly pay it on time and we can avoid this conversation.

Irritated and broke

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

empty arms

*Warning* This post was written in several sittings. It is very long and emotional. Please don't feel obligated to read it. As with all of my posts, it was written more as therapy for me than anything else.

So, you know I haven't been blogging very often and you might even realize that the last 9 months have been a difficult road for me. But up until now, I haven't shared the details of this road I've been on. I honestly thought it was better to keep it to myself. I didn't want to put my burdens on the shoulders of anyone else. I'm not one who seeks sympathy or pity. I don't like to ask for help. I don't like how doing so makes me feel weak.

However, I feel that I'm at a point where it will not only be liberating to share, but reading my journey might give someone else hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know that in September, I was in a car accident, hit by a man who ran a red light and almost t-boned my car. Although I was not physically hurt and my car was fixable, it was terrifying. Terrifying, yes, because it could have been much, much worse than it was. But also terrifying because I was pregnant.

Yup, I was pregnant. And my husband and I couldn't have been more excited! I was not very far along, only about 7 1/2 weeks, and hadn't even seen my doctor yet. But as I'm sure you can imagine, I could not have cared less if I was okay after the accident, all I could think about was the baby. And so, even more terrifying things ensued. I was put in a neck brace, strapped to a backboard and taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

Have you ever been strapped to a backboard, while wearing a neck brace and been taken away in an ambulance? It's really scary. There were 2 EMTs and a police officer all asking me questions at the same time and I couldn't see any of their faces. All I could see was the ceiling of the ambulance. Terrifying in and of itself, but then there was the chaos inside my head...

We got to the hospital, and because they had been unable to reach my husband yet, I was by myself and the tears started. I'm not talking a few tears here, I'm talking about a hyperventilating, ugly cry. The emergency room doctor determined that I was okay and told me they'd like to do an ultrasound but that because I was not that far along, the baby should be protected inside me and not to worry. Yeah, okay...I'm not going to worry. Typical man.

Despite this, I started to calm down...until my husband showed up. He was crying, I was crying and he wouldn't let go of me. Then they wheeled me away for the ultrasound. My fear turned to excitement and then quickly back to fear.

The ultrasound technician didn't say anything to me for the entire 20 minutes that she was performing the ultrasound. Nothing about what she was seeing, not a comforting word, nothing. Silence. And you didn't have to be an ultrasound tech to see that there was nothing on the screen. My heart sank.

After waiting a ridiculously long time, the doctor came in and told us that they didn't see a pregnancy on the ultrasound, but that they wanted to run some blood work because it just might be that I was not as far along as I thought, and that it was just too early to see anything on the ultrasound.

They did the blood work, we waited another ridiculously long amount of time, and the doctor came back to tell me I was pregnant but, from the numbers, I was only 4-5 weeks. Intellectually, I knew this was impossible, but I allowed my skepticism to be brushed aside and agreed to follow up with my doctor on Monday so that he would let me leave that wretched hospital.

Then, the roller coaster of blood work began. My hCG levels went up, but not at the rate they should have, then they went down. I miscarried and my doctor gave me another ultrasound. But wait, then there was a second implantation site. Apparently, I had been pregnant with twins and it looked like I had only lost one. My hCG levels started going back up, but again, not at the rate they should have. A few weeks later, I lost the other twin as well.

My emotions were up and down every other day. I knew it wasn't because of the accident, but I wanted to blame that man who hit me anyway. I was seriously struggling. I had never experienced a lower low. I really can't explain in words the emptiness I felt inside. And at that point, the hospital had more of my blood than I did. My hCG levels were going down abnormally slowly. It took 4 months for the pregnancy hormones to completely leave my system, when it only should have taken a few weeks.

4 MONTHS! Which brings us to January. At this point, I had pretty much dealt with the sorrow, depression and extreme emotions. I won't go into the details too much more than that, but I can tell you that it was an extremely difficult and trying time for me. So, my body was finally back to normal and my doctor gave us the go-ahead to try again if we wanted.

Miraculously, I became pregnant again right away. However, just a few days after I found out I was pregnant, I was pretty sure I was miscarrying again. Two rounds of blood work later, we saw that my hCG levels were going up, but just like the first pregnancy, they were not going up at the rate they should have, so in we went for another ultrasound.

This time, the ultrasound tech finished and told us that my doctor was not in but that she was going to have the other doctor in the practice come in to discuss the results with us. We knew something was wrong, only it was much more serious than we had expected.

My pregnancy was ectopic. And right there in the doctor's office, with this strange doctor we just met 30 seconds before, we had to decide whether I wanted surgery to remove the pregnancy from my left tube or a shot of methotrexate (chemo) to dissolve it. And we had to decide now. Decide how to end this pregnancy - that happened to be growing in the wrong place - but that to us, was already our child. We were heartbroken.

To me, both options had their down sides, but the methotrexate shot seemed less invasive. So off to the hospital we went, where they had me go to the labor and delivery ward. They said they administer the shots there so it feels like a safe environment, but if I'm being completely honest with you, it's the last place I wanted to be...

I sat there for a ridiculously long period of time (much like my emergency room visit a few months earlier) waiting for the results of all my blood work to come back, so they could confirm it was safe to give me the shot and determine how much to give me. As I sat in that room on the labor and delivery ward, there were babies crying and being wheeled down the hallway past my door. There were pregnant women in labor walking the hallways, preparing to give birth to their babies. And as I was sitting in this room listening and watching, it felt like the farthest thing from a "safe environment." It felt like cruel and unusual punishment.

The nurse finally wheeled my cart in. A cart not containing a child like everyone else on this floor, but with the two shots that would end my pregnancy, one destined for each cheek (and no, I'm not referring to the cheeks on my face.) She asked me if I wanted to put on a gown, and at that point, I was so ready to escape the torture that was that hospital room, I declined and just dropped my pants.

The shots didn't hurt necessarily, but pretty quickly everything started to go black and I was seeing stars. The nurse wanted me to stay for a little while, but after a glass of water and with my husband practically carrying me, we got the Hell out of there!

This time around, the physical pain was much worse than the emotional. They told me that there should be no side effects with one dose of methotrexate...liars! I have the deepest sympathy for anyone who has undergone chemo therapy, because one dose of that drug and I felt the worst I have ever felt in my life, for several days.

Thankfully, it worked though. My hCG levels went down very quickly and my pregnancy dissolved, saving my tube. And so that brings us to right about now. My body is finally getting back to normal. The frustration, the sorrow, the lack of control - it still lingers just below the surface. But I know that is okay. I am allowed to feel these emotions, it is healthy to feel them.

I know that everything happens for a reason. And despite the fact that my first two pregnancies ended in loss, our marriage is stronger, the love I feel for my husband is stronger, I am exponentially stronger. Whether we have a child naturally, through some kind of medical assistance, or through adoption, I know we will have our family some day. I know that there is a plan for my life, and for our life together. I know that these experiences are just small parts of the journey that is my life, the journey that makes me the person I am. And this knowledge is a huge comfort to me.

Today would have been my due date from that first pregnancy. I have to be honest, I'm feeling sad. We could have been celebrating the birth of our first child, the start of our family, but instead I sit here with empty arms. I will not let the sadness overwhelm me though, because despite the sadness, my heart is full of hope. For the deeper sorrow burrows its way into your being, the more room you have for joy and love to fill that space when the sorrow has been washed away.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Prayer Request

No fancy intro or lead in today, I'm just going to cut to the chase. We've know for awhile that my brother-in-law, who is in the Air Force, will soon be getting deployed for six months. We've now found out that his deployment date will probably be May 2nd.

I'm writing tonight to ask anyone who reads this to please send any positive thoughts and prayers you can to him and my sister. I will be praying that he is able to remain focused and alert, that he feels our love and support while he's there, and for his safe return home to us. I will also be praying for strength and courage for my little sister during what is sure to be an extremely difficult time for her.

I believe very strongly in the power of prayer, and I can't tell you how much it would mean to me if you would join me in these prayers.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Food Revolution

Have you guys seen Jamie Oliver's new show Food Revolution? I'm loving this show! I think it's exactly the wake up call this country needs!

You see, I was really overweight growing up. I mean really overweight. I taught myself about nutrition and exercise. I was able to lose the weight and become so much healthier, so this is an issue that is meaningful to me. But when I did it, I took the initiative myself. No one taught me. No one told me that it is not just a diet, it's a lifestyle change. And no one is teaching these kids, the future of our country, about nutrition. Until now...

This Food Revolution, it's not about just eating carrot sticks and saltines and being super model skinny. It's not about that at all! It's about putting real, wholesome, nutritious, tasty food in our bodies, in our children's bodies. It's about cooking from scratch and knowing what you're eating. It's about moderation, not deprivation. It's about eliminating chemicals, additives and preservatives from our diet.

So I think it's great that Jamie is going into these schools and trying to get rid of all the easy to make, processed crap. And we as a country need to support that and make sure our schools have the funding to feed kids nutritious food.

But it goes beyond that. It's not just the kids that need help. We live life on fast forward in this country. We work too hard and too long, and we don't take the time to slow down and take care of ourselves and our family.

Is cooking like this more expensive? Unfortunately, yes. But if you read my blog regularly, you know about when I was laid off for 6 months. You know that last year my husband and I took new jobs and now bring home only slightly more than half what we were making before. We are able to pay our bills, but we pretty much live paycheck to paycheck. It is stressful at times, but we are able to make it work! You plan your meals around the produce that is on sale that week, you cut coupons, and you do what you have to do because if you don't, you won't be around for long.

Does cooking like this take more time and effort? Again, yes it does. But you can find and come up with recipes that only take half an hour, or that you can throw in the crockpot before you go to work. (I love my crockpot!) My husband and I cook dinner together every night. It is our quality time together. When we find that our prep is done and we're waiting for something to boil or cook, he sings to me and we dance together in the kitchen. It doesn't have to be a burden.

Do we have kids yet? No. But I'm positive that when we do, we will still do this. We may adjust recipes to make them quicker or easier, but we'll still use real food. I know we'll do this because it is an issue that is so personal to me. And that's why seeing Jamie change the food in schools means so much to me, even though I don't have children.
So now, whether you watch the show or not, I'm asking you to sign Jamie's petition if you believe in what he is trying to do. Just click the Food Revolution button above and it will take you directly to the petition. Jamie wants to take this petition to the White House, to try to save America's cooking skills and improve school food, and I think we need to support him!

Below, you can see a video of Jamie asking for your help too!

How much?!

Have you ever watched that show Say Yes To The Dress on TLC? The budgets that some of these women have for their wedding dresses are OUTRAGEOUS! $15,000 for a dress you're going to wear once??? What are you thinking???

I remember feeling guilty when my parents offered to buy my wedding dress, and it was only around $700! $5,000 - $10,000 - $15,000...really?! $15,000 is more than we spent on our entire reception!

It really makes me wonder if these people are thinking about and planning for their marriage at all, or if they are just planning an extravagant party. Do they really have this much money burning a hole in their pocket (or Daddy's?) or are they going into debt for this dress?

Working in the wedding industry, I see the stars in brides' eyes all the time. They want to create a fairy tale day, and I completely understand that. I really do. I wanted that day myself. But within reason. In my opinion, a wedding day should be a celebration of the couple and their love, of the commitment they are making to one another. It should be about sharing that with the people you love. The focus should be on the marriage and preparing for that lifelong commitment.

But that's just my opinion...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New life

We live in a society where we're constantly living in fast forward. Too often, we don't take the time to slow down and really look around us. Spring has sprung and so much new life is popping up around us. My hubby and I took some time yesterday to enjoy and appreciate it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Young at heart

My hubby, he's young at heart. He is my perfect balance. He keeps me young at heart. So when we saw these on our hike Sunday...

...I knew we were going to have some fun!

I may need a tetanus shot afterward, but it would be fun!

He didn't thing I could lift him off the ground.

He took it easy at first...

...but then...

...things got a little crazy!

He keeps me young, and I love him for it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

His love

My husband loves me. There is no doubt about that. But he has another love too...

Sunday, when we were hiking, my hubby suddenly walked right off the path. "Where are you going?" I asked him.

"You don't see it?" he responded as he bent over to pick something up.

That man of mine, he loves golf. And he can find a golf ball anywhere we go!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Hike/Photo Adventure

Today, I'm laid up on the couch. I think I tweaked my back at work on Saturday when it was so busy. I got home Saturday night after being stuck inside all day, and we went for a walk so I could enjoy what was left of such a nice day. Yesterday morning, I thought I was just sore from running around so much the day before, so my hubby and I went on a two and a half hour hike. It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun, but by the end I was hurting.

I spent the rest of the afternoon yesterday barely able to move and in a lot of pain. This morning I feel a little bit better, but I doubt I'll be moving very far from the couch today. So I figured since I'm laying here, I'd share some photos from our fun day yesterday! I took a lot of photos, so I may spread them out over a few days.

And we're off...


My love looking for fish.

I love the shadows in this photo.


Do you see the heart?

Random runner

♥ Our initials are not here, but they are
on a tree somewhere. ♥

This tree is growing through a rock!

Squirrel with no place to go.

A burl.

Does anyone know what this marker in a tree means?
I just liked it because my initials are SP. :)

Old sign. I wonder what it used to say...

Looking for fish again.

I love this man!

My hubby knocking to see if David the Gnome is home.

Okay, I think that's getting long enough for today! I'll post some more photos from our awesome day tomorrow!