Rescued From a Life I Thought I Wanted

There is something magical about the trained ballerina. She is elegant, long, beautiful. She moves with effortless fashion and ease. She is graceful and composed.

The ballet world. This was a world in which I once lived in, more than half my lifetime ago. Not that I was all those adjectives previously listed; but I sure aimed to be. Five to six days a week I trained and stretched and wore out my toe shoes. I was there for class every day after school, and often on Saturdays, too. I loved it. I wanted ballet to be my permanent life. I was consumed by it.

I wanted to make a career of ballet, but there was an ever-growing tension in my home. No matter what it cost me, I wanted to be a professional ballerina. And yet my Mother was deeply opposed to the idea. She believed that ballerinas didn’t make much money, they were overworked, they often struggled with body image, and were sometimes placed in vulnerable situations. Not only that, but ballet, performed over a span of years, was hard on the body. We butted heads about the issue for several months. I kept praying and trying to convince her it was a good idea. But it was no use. Her opposition held just as strong as ever.

I remember writing in my journal, praying and wrestling with this tension as a teenager. How could my Mother not see how much I loved and needed ballet? Why could she not just give me approval in this one area of my life? I was headstrong, but I was also very much wanting my Mother’s blessing for my future career. So the inner turmoil raged on.

In the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I flew to Mississippi to join a three week long intensive Christian ballet workshop. I danced my heart out, made friends, and had a wonderful time. At the end of the workshop, I waved a sad goodbye and flew back home to California. But I soon discovered that something had changed. Actually, there had been a huge change in me! I didn’t need ballet anymore. I didn’t even want it! Somehow I felt totally free to move on from it– which was a completely foreign concept at the time. How could this be? I didn’t know, but I never went back to ballet classes or rejoined the ballet company I had been part of. I packed up all of my beloved ballet gear into a box, put it away in my closet and shut the door.

There was no logical explanation for this transformation in me except that the Lord literally plucked an idol out of my life.

So I walked away and never looked back. And I am so grateful.

In hindsight, I’m so glad the Lord listened to the prayers of my Mother, and not to mine. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a ballerina (the problem was with me, not ballet). Dropping ballet meant that I was able to devote more time to school and follow the pathway to become a nurse. I can think of a hundred reasons as to why I’m much better suited to being a nurse than a ballerina, and even though I don’t work a ton these days, it is a profession that I love and that has given me useful, practical knowledge for everyday life.

The Lord recently removed another idol from me (coffee), and the freedom I feel from giving up something as seemingly simple as coffee happens to be enormous! I’ve learned that the Lord both gives and takes away– and sometimes, the things He takes away are actually curses disguised as blessings. In the end, I have received a multitude of blessings by having these idols stripped away from me. When our lives are completely entrusted to Jesus, there is nothing but peace and joy!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

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Josh is Three!

This little buddy of ours had a birthday last weekend! It was a really fun gathering composed of just family, and it seemed like everyone had a great time!

This was our first party in the new house. My husband is installing new floors this weekend, and we had a wall removed two weeks ago, so our house was a little bit in disarray… but no one seemed to care!

Josh’s baby book – where I try to chronicle things like – is in a box somewhere in our garage. We desperately need to get some bookshelves so we can get those books out of boxes once and for all! For now this blog post will have to be enough to jog our memories later on.

The theme was  “Alphabet Letters” – since Josh is obsessed with letters right now. I ordered these letter flash cards on Amazon and put them up on the wall. We like them so much I think we’ll keep them there for school later on.

You can see where we had the wall removed below. We may have been missing laminate and baseboards, but it was awesome to have that wall gone and really nice for parties!

We had burgers, hot dogs, potato and green salad, fruit, veggies and chips for lunch. I’m a fan of keeping it simple if at all possible. We played an alphabet game and then hit the pinata.

Then we had dessert – a “J” cake for Joshua and ice cream. My aunt helped me make the cake look better than it did originally, thankfully.

And then it was present time! Wow, did this kid get some great gifts perfectly suited to his personality. It was clear how many people in our family love him and understand how his brain works! We are so blessed to have this kind of family support and love.

Happy third birthday, little guy. We love you so much and love to see you learn, grow, and even take on some responsibilities!

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Goodbye, Mr. Bear

We lost an old friend today: Mr. Bear.

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Mr. Bear and Josh have been inseparable for pretty much Josh’s entire life. Mr. Bear was a constant companion, who’s presence was required at book time, bedtime, and often car time as well. I have been blown away by how much comfort one little bear brought one small boy.

And somehow, in the last 3 years, we had never misplaced Mr. Bear for more than a moment. Until today.

Sadly, Mr. Bear got chucked out of the car today by Josh while we were on the freeway. He was in the throes of a raging tantrum at the time. I didn’t even realize Mr. Bear had been relegated to the heavy tires and traffic of I-80 until we got to my parents house half an hour later.

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I admit, this boy has depended on Mr. Bear for the last 3 years, and I was initially upset that Mr. Bear was forever gone. But as my husband says, “When you have kids, you just roll with punches. And there are many punches.”

So I hopped in the car, went to Target and bought another bear.

$9.99 later: Hello, Mr. BIG Bear. Welcome to our family. (We’re not sure if we’re friends yet.)

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Although ten minutes ago, Josh was clutching Mr. Big Bear in his arms while trying to fall asleep.

So I’d say they’re going to be friends after all.

 

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HSG Results

I am in shock.

The last time I had an HSG done (4 years ago), one tube was blocked with water in it (and then surgically removed) and the other tube was barely open. And when I say “barely,” I mean it! It took a long time to get a little drop of dye through it. When I asked the radiologist if the tube was open, he responded “Well… Not really. But there was a little dye that went through.”

So imagine my shock this morning when I had another HSG test done and my tube was not only open, but VERY open! The dye went through it right away! Wait… what?!

This totally feels like a miracle. I’m not used to getting good news after tests like these! We are rejoicing at the good news!

 

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Facing the Giant {Again}

This morning as I was reading my Bible I came across these verses:

“Look carefully then how you will walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

This is the prayer of my heart right now as I juggle raising two toddlers with my husband, managing our home, getting projects done around the house (hello new fixer home) and working part time. I want to be a light (Eph. 5:8)– not only to my children but also the community around me.

After eleven wonderful months, all signs point toward the endometriosis coming back with a vengeance. I’m so bummed. I actually thought I would have a bit more time. My periods have been barely making a blip on the radar with one, maybe two, days of mild cramping. And then this month happened. I actually believed I was possibly pregnant because I had cramping and nausea for seven straight days (around the clock) before my period started. I thought that maybe it was implantation cramping. However, my period started up 3 days late and once it started, the cramping was horrible with ibuprofen barely touching the pain. I had to rest a lot of else the nausea from the pain would become too great. It was a real drag, and lasted longer than I thought it would! All in all, this cycle affected me so that I was unable to function at full capacity for about 9 days. I’m not happy about that.

I semi-joined this endometriosis support group on facebook (meaning I occasionally read comments, but that I’m not very committed to it) and if there’s anything I’ve learned from it — it’s that so many women have much more HORRIBLE endometriosis than to me. We’re talking debilitating daily pain that causes endless surgeries, nerve blocker pumps being placed, years of requiring menopause-inducing medications, loss of employment and other daily activities because the pain is too great. And let’s not forget to mention that the scope of infertility affecting these women is vast. So, I have a healthy fear of endo – not only from what these women have shared, but from my own personal experience with it prior to IVF and having children. Crippling pain for two to three weeks out of the month was my thing back then, and it stunk.

I have enjoyed not living in pain and I want to keep it that way, if I have any power to do so. I don’t want this disease to try to take over my life, like I have seen it do to many other women. So I am prayerfully considering what the best “next step” will be. I want to be wise, so that I will be able to teach my son preschool, take my kids to the park and on walks, and be able to work on our house. I want to have energy to help and bless others when there is a need.

On another note, not being pregnant when I had so much hope that I actually might be (despite that <1% chance of a natural pregnancy that I had, ha) was hard– I shed a few tears over that one! But I’m glad it happened, because it revealed to me that I really do want more children. There was not a hint of “How will we afford another child?” “Where will they sleep?” or “How will we manage?” There was just sheer excitement. So this will be something I will need to hold onto loosely, because I don’t know God’s plans for our family! All I know is that His plans are BEST, and I trust Him for our future. I just have to look at Josh and Rachel to be reminded of that.

Thanks for praying for me, if you think of it. I’m going to start by getting an HSG this Friday (hysterosalpingogram). This will tell me if my remaining fallopian tube is even patent (open). If it’s not, or if there’s water blocked in the tube (hydrosalpinx) then there’s really no point in taking the time to try to conceive naturally (you know…because a 1% chance is still greater than a 0% chance…). My hubby and I will have to prayerfully consider where to go from there, depending on the HSG results.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from last December depicting God’s blessings on us through our marriage and children. How blessed we are! Pictures are by my friend Katherine Owens.

 

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A Stroll Through Memory Lane {2016}

I pulled out my camera on the spur of the moment yesterday to catch some photos of Josh and my hubby outside during the “golden light” sunset. I realized immediately that my photography skills were quite rusty (ahem, BAD)– I have barely used my camera at all this year! Such a shame.

Later on, when I popped my SD card into my computer I realized that I had not downloaded pictures taken as far back as April. So I thought I’d share a few!

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My Little Guy

My little Josh is quickly growing into a big boy. I’m not sure when this happened, but it’s been really fun to witness. Parenting, for all it’s exhaustion and challenges, is full of wonder and joy.

Some highlights of this little dude who will be 3 in just a few short months.

-He is not cuddly by nature, but Mommy requires her daily allotment of snuggles with this guy and for all his protests, he loves it.

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-He is very happy when he is building something like this. (Of course, it must be built up and away from where little sister can’t get into it. Otherwise we have one very frustrated little boy!)

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-Thomas the Train, x 10,000. This guy lives, eats and breathes Thomas the Train. No need to say more.

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-And dare I mention books? We are always in pursuit of new reading material. Hanging out with his Auntie below.

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-Mommy finally got brave and tried out baking with a toddler. He loved it. Mommy… semi-loved it.

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-Playing outside. Those leaves are since gone from the tree, but at the time I would push him high enough so that the leaves would tickle his face and he giggled hysterically.

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-“We’re just two guys hanging out!” is the refrain I often hear when Josh and Daddy are together. Daddy is the BEST playmate.

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I must say, from 14 months to 27 months were pretty rough with this guy. We had frequent show-stopper meltdowns no matter how much we tried to avoid them. By several accounts, he was a “tough toddler.” But for several months now, we’ve seen this little guy really flourish as his vocabulary took off and his level of independence increased. And I’ve been happy to give him his own set of duties/responsibilities as I’ve watched him become quite capable of handling them. He is so different from his sister — he is focused, happy to be alone for long periods of time, delights in looking at every single page of a thick book, and loves his routine.

I’m looking forward to what the next year will bring. Thankful to our Savior for such this little dude. We love you Joshua!

 

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Settling In

Per usual fashion, I have about 3 minutes to type until the kids get up from their naps.

We are slowly settling into our new home. We still have a list a mile long of things we need to repair or replace, but we’re taking it at a much slower pace. We do have mold, predominantly in our kitchen area. We know there were leaks under the sink and under the fridge, and there’s still a lot of moisture showing up there under the laminate. We’re guessing that’s where the mold is (which, by the way, is not ultra high levels and also not TOXIC mold, praise God!). So bye-bye laminate flooring – it will need to be pulled up. I’m batting for tile so we can never worry about leaking anything for a long, long time. We have to replace the counter/sink/faucet/garbage disposal (which is leaking at the moment) as well, and so with a rather long list of needed repairs to get rid of mold, I’ve picked up quite a few night shifts at the hospital. I’m thankful for such a great job, which lets me work the spectrum of hours.

I’ve got up Costco’s awesomely massive Christmas wreath on our front door and some decorations on the fireplace mantle (thanks to Target’s $1 aisle). We’re on the fence about putting up the Christmas tree this year. 14 month old Rachel is active, determined, and in no way, shape or form a quitter. She will pull that tree down as fast and as hard as she can make it happen! Even so, I still think we shouldn’t skip out on the tree this year though. We might have to get creative.

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Target’s $1-$3 aisle is all really cute stuff right now.

Life with these two kiddos is so busy. I have no idea how people have 2 toddlers plus older kids at home and don’t lose their minds. Maybe it’s Rachel’s age and stage at the moment- I’m not sure?

Some of Rachel’s most favorite activities include:

  • Getting into Josh’s diaper pail.
  • Trying to get Josh’s dirty diaper away from Mom before she throws it into the diaper pail.
  • Taking wipes away from Mom while she is trying to change Josh’s diaper.
  • Eating Mom’s dirty socks.
  • Eating Mom’s dirty shoes.
  • Throwing food off of high chair tray.
  • Smearing food-laden greasy hands through hair (as many times as possible to complete the “look”).
  • Sucking on shampoo bottle.
  • Playing with toilet lid.
  • Bursting into brother’s room while he’s napping, or at least screeching loudly outside his door.
  • Snuggling with Mom.
  • Giggling and laughing while ANYONE pays attention to her.
  • Eating “special treats” after dinner (this girl loves M&M’s).

So you see, this girl keeps us on our toes (but also keeps a smile on our faces). Her big brother Josh, who will be 3 in March, puts up with his sister’s shenanigans fairly well for the time being. Occasionally he is provoked a little too much and he snaps back at her. He loves her though and is a good helper. I really love the times I get to spend just with Josh. He is learning and growing so much and it is really fun to discover a little bit of how his brain works (ahem.. a lot like his father’s.)

Well, the timer’s going off, and if I don’t get Josh up he’ll take forever to fall asleep tonight.

Hope you have a great rest of your week!

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Don’t be fooled, that headband lasted about 3 seconds.

Isn't this the cutest little bench?

Isn’t this the cutest little bench?

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Unwanted Weight Loss

I really hope and pray this post is not self-serving. I know many who feel sick most of the time, for reasons still unknown. As someone who has dealt with years of progressing endometriosis pain and now years of food intolerance and allergies, I get it. I have learned that I must be mindful to not allow pain, illness or the drive to find a cure to consume me. So I  write this post timidly, because although I’m confused and a little bewildered, in the grand scheme of things it’s really quite inconsequential.

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Unwanted weight loss. Now that’s not a title I ever expected to type! I’m quickly approaching my mid 30’s, and being post-baby #2, I really thought the baby weight would be more stubborn.

Although I have been the same weight for my ENTIRE adult life (excluding pregnancies, obviously), I have now dropped 16 pounds below that. I’ve been losing anywhere from 1-4 pounds a month while TRYING to gain weight.

I was sick for several months with joint pain, heartburn, constant belly pain, no appetite, and very low energy. This started in February, after I had a brief stomach flu.  I also was having cramping pretty often throughout the month, and was afraid the Endometriosis was rearing it’s ugly head again. I went to my GP twice and had multiple workups done. By the second GP visit I was down 9 pounds from my baseline weight. I was worked up for gall bladder disease (labs and an ultrasound), Lyme’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis (which runs in my family), Lupus, and thyroid issues (and probably some others that I forgot). And praise God- all the labs came back within normal limits.

But I was at my wit’s end with feeling terrible, and out of desperation I decided to try cutting out all gluten and dairy again (this is my third stint over the years) on August 1st. After all, my Dad can’t tolerate gluten and my sister can’t tolerate gluten or dairy. I decided it was time to accept the fact that I might as well be in the same predicament. So I cut gluten and dairy out and I felt really terrible for another 3 weeks and then BAM! I felt normal again, and the joint pain went away.

I also weaned Rachel around this time and expected my metabolism to slow down a bit.

I was wrong. My weight loss really started to skyrocket. Complicated diets make eating… well, complicated. I’m thankful for the easy solution to feeling better, but man, coming up with stuff to eat (when you lack a good appetite and don’t love to cook) is difficult for me.

Last week, I made a concerted effort to eat as much as possible. One day, I remember eating 1/2  bag of potato chips in addition to meals and other snacks. And let’s not forget that it was Thanksgiving last week and that I polished off more than 1/2 of a gluten & dairy free apple pie (thanks to my Mom for making it!). So I was pretty perplexed when I hopped on the scale Sunday to see that I had lost another 2 pounds in a single week.

I’m ok with being thin, and I know there are many people who would love to have my problem. But I’m just not sure where this weight loss thing will end, and that scares me.  I imagine it’s got to be just as maddening for someone to work out and eat carefully, only to hop on the scale and realize that they’re only gaining weight. It feels like your body is making a huge mistake!

So please forgive my whiny post about wasting away for no good reason (that I can come up with, at least!). I’ll leave you a few pics of the kiddos and the park nearby.

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Moving Houses & A One Year Old’s Belated Party

I am very behind on blogging!

I guess that’s what happens when you suddenly decide to put your house on the market and move to another town? But I’m getting ahead of myself. Flipping the calendar back, let’s land on September when Rachel turned one.

We had a little party at my folk’s house (which is an hour away).

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Glad we got some pictures because I can’t even remember what we served for lunch. It appears that we had Mexican food!

Rachel did great and never shed a tear until nap time came around. She’s our social butterfly!

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Blowing out the candle (by Mom, of course). dsc_0651

Digging into her cupcake. Pretty sure that was her first cupcake ever! She loved it.

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That was followed by opening a pile of really fun baby girl gifts. This girl got showered in adorable clothes this year! Also, her Daddy and  I made her a dollhouse.  I got the idea from another blog.

 

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Then we stumbled upon a house owned by a friend of my hubby’s parents. The house was ten minutes from hubby’s work, on 1/2 acre, and close to a park. It was a little older than our current house, and needed some work, but it was also bigger. The house, because we’d forgo using a realtor, was actually in our price range. So we decided to go for it. We worked like crazy and got our house on the market in two (TWO!) days. It sold in 4 days, and what a HUGE blessing that was, because trying to keep a pristine house with two toddlers was nearly impossible. I found myself saying the most ridiculously thing to the kids, like “Why are you touching that TOY?!”

We we able to start working on our new house before we moved in (thanks to it being owned at the time by a really nice guy) and we scraped popcorn ceilings in the bedrooms, bathroom and master closet. Then we painted almost the ENTIRE house inside – ceilings and all! We got the carpet replaced (because there had been pets and it didn’t smell so great) and my hubby got started replacing baseboards (the old/current ones were foam/vinyl). Before we moved in, I chalk painted all of the kitchen cabinets. My father in law installed some new lights and fans. My parents worked like dogs too, coming over several times a week to scrape ceilings, paint, dismantle a deck, clean out gutters, paint some more, etc. In was a TON of work, and hubby and I burned the midnight oil for a couple of weeks with me leaving the house a bit after 5 am to work on the house and he staying after work really late most days. If I wasn’t working on the new house, I was at the old house packing and trying to keep two toddlers busy/happy.

I ‘ll have to post some before and after pics of the house soon. There’s a lot still that is unfinished. But here’s one of the kitchen (picture from before we bought the house):

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Today: It’s underexposed because at the moment we don’t have much lighting in the kitchen (it’s getting replaced).

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We had to replace the oven and microwave, because you couldn’t actually *open* the old dishwasher due to the old oven’s configuration (the oven’s bottom handle was in the way). The old microwave’s vent was busted, so we replaced the microwave.

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We plan to replace counter tops and the sink soon. There’s a leak related to the garbage disposal under the sink, so that will need to be dealt with as well.

And just in case you think our lives are like Pollyanna (which I’m sure you could say they are compared to some!) we did encounter some rough patches while moving! The night before we moved, someone busted the side garage door of our new house and stole my hubby’s drill and my father in law’s saw out of the garage. But they would have had access to the house too, because the door to the house had been unlocked. I had entered the house early that morning after the tools were stolen, although unbeknownst to me (with the kids) and was SO thankful there was no one here in the house when we walked in! Creepy! I also had a flat tire that morning that was repaired, but hubby got a flat tire a few days later and had to buy a new set of tires. And at the end of moving day, I noticed that our fridge was really hot on the exterior and not keeping up temperature-wise. It was also making an electrical burning-type smell. We lost all our food because by the time we realized the fridge was toast, all the food in the freezer had thawed. We ended up needing to buy a new fridge!

And tomorrow, we’re having our house tested for mold, because hubby has become mildly wheezy since moving in. We just need to know for sure.

There’s about 100 other things that need to be done at this new house, but it’s in a nice neighborhood and I love the house and yard. I don’t mind work in general, whether it’s indoors or outdoors. I like to have lots to do! Also, I am loving only being ten minutes from hubby’s work (as opposed to 40-45 mins) and all of the space here!

Hopefully we haven’t bought a money pit. I’m looking to the Lord to give me peace as we try to find inexpensive ways to tackle projects around here.

More on that later! Nap time here is over. May the Lord bless you and your week!

 

 

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