Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yee haw!

At the school hoedown...

The entire family got arrested.

Luke and Mom did some line dancing.  
Okay...  So, not-so-much of a line.

Luke loved the ladies.

The boys tossed horse shoes and bean bags.

Zach won "Don't Get Bitten" (cowboy version of Hot Potato)

And, they rode a horse.

Friday, March 26, 2010

our month in review

There are only five days left in the month of March, and I think this is only my 8th post.  Not because I haven't had much going on or much to say, but because I've had a lot going on!  And sometimes because there's been so much to say and I didn't know where to start.

The second annual for KIDS by KIDS bike-a-thon was supposed to take place in September, but was bumped up to May 8th.  I have been crazy busy!  Pulling together a plan for the event.  Firming up details.  Securing donations of food for 500 and four bounce houses.  Rounding up volunteers.  Having fliers, posters and signs made.  Designing a blog.

We took over a paper route, so now we only sleep in increments of four hours.  We've been kinda tired.  I applied for a job as a freelance writer, but "since they have been so overwhelmed with applicants, they have regretfully had to turn away some very talented writers".  I'm one of them.  But, then I picked up a week's worth of work filling in for our church receptionist while she takes a vacation next week.  When one door closes, another opens...  We continue to be amazed by God's provision during Bryan's layoff.

I've seen three doctors in an attempt to better understand my PCOS and its impact on my life.  We are still waiting on my lab results, but it's pretty clear that I'm having trouble processing insulin and that's taking a toll on my weight, complexion, diet and emotions.  We're not talking diabetes just yet, but it is a significant risk factor - one that we are aggressively trying to avoid.  I'm adopting more of a diabetic diet, exercising more, and changing my meds...  If that doesn't work, I may start seeing an endocrinologist and begin a more complicated treatment.

We enjoyed a wonderful spring break, but ended it with a virus.  Luke ran a 102-103 fever from Saturday - Tuesday, and generously shared his cold with his mother.  We are both on the mend now though, so that's a great thing.  We're looking forward to this weekend!

Tonight we're going to a Western Hoedown at Zach's school.  He doesn't want to dress like a cowboy and he doesn't want to dance.  He is very interested in the chili cook-off, pie baking competition and putting someone in jail.  Will it be Mom, Dad or a teacher?  Bryan thinks the whole thing sounds ridiculous, so he gets my prison vote.  Wish I still had my Rockies, Ropers and a Red-neck hat.  Wonder if we'll do Billy Ray's Achy Breaky Heart.  Yee haw!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fly-by spring break

We had a great spring break...  It was cool and rainy for the first several days, then warm and sunny for two days, and now it's raining again, turning to snow in the coming hours.  Up to 8" of snow, they say!

Despite the dreary weather at the start and finish of our break, we've had a great time.

We visited three children's museums - enjoying a lot of pretend play, art and the Fee Fi Fo Fum traveling exhibit.

We went to the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank and checked out an art museum!

And the Rockets had the season's first soccer practice over spring break.  Our season opener was scheduled for tomorrow, but we don't play soccer in the snow.  Here's looking at June soccer - ha!

The kids also had a sleepover at Grandpa's one night.  Phew!! 

We've had a wonderful time, but I think Zach is looking forward to getting back to school - specifically his friends and art class!  After one fun week of spring break, I'm looking forward to summer vacation!  It will be here before we know it.  The question is --- will pool weather? 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Games, games and more games

Time spent with Grandpa often involves some sort of game...  Our kids' soccer games or junior golf.  Watching college basketball.  Playing games in Grandpa's basement.  Dinners out while watching / talking sports.

But, if I had to guess, I'd say that Dave & Buster's is our kids' favorite sort of games with Grandpa!

Ah...  The car race!

Do you see what I see?  The ball jumped from Luke's lane into the one next to him!  Note to self...  Always make sure there are several empty lanes around my kids.

The conservative Nazarene in me wants to run from the word "Roulette".  Surly this is not good (wink).

Travis would be proud...  He's a professional Air Hockey player!

Enjoy it, Buddy.  If we can help it, you will never ride a real one.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A head-spinning day

Wow.  We have been staying pretty busy lately, but today takes the cake.

Today's paper was our first day solo.  We are now your friendly neighborhood Paper Boy and Girl!  Because we had a packed day today, Bryan ran the route by himself.  He did great!

He rested this morning while I bathed the kids and myself, and got everyone dressed and well-fed bright and early.

By 9am, the boys were playing out back...without jackets again.

Luke had to be at the doctor at 10:45, so this meant Zach needed to be completely ready for school before we left.  There was no way I could get back home in time for afternoon kindergarten, so Bryan took care of Zach's lunch, carpooling, etc.

Luke and I took off at 10:15 for the pediatrician.  Two hours later, we were headed straight to Children's for labs and x-rays.  Not a cancer scare this time, but something equally complicated.  Luke was awesome at the doctor's office and the hospital.  I praise God for this child, who is so fun and spirited, and brave, and surprisingly cooperative.  We were not in the most desirable of locations, but it was a lovely date-of-sorts.  He has a precious smile and I enjoyed playing on his level.  He carries a lot of stuff in that backpack of his!

We got out of the hospital much quicker than I'd expected, so I was able to drive him all the way back home --- leaving 45 minutes before I had to head out to my own doctors appointment... Just across the interstate from the hospital!

My mind was racing with to-dos on the way to my appointment, so much so that I missed my ramp onto the interstate!  I didn't notice for several minutes, and by then I was halfway to Luke's doctor's office and now committed to an entirely different route to my doctor.  And...  As it turns out, there was construction all over the new route, delaying me even more.  Praise God I'd left my house with an extra 15 minutes to get there!  At one point I was sitting still on the interstate....  I made it to my appointment without a single minute to spare.

My appointment went well; although I'll have to see my GP now for further tests, etc.  I was none-too-pleased when I saw that I'd gained a couple of pounds since my visit last summer.  The doctor suggested that I cut carbs out of my diet, so...  I threw away a bag of potatoes when I got home!  (But ate a small handful of Reece's Pieces.) 

I returned home a few minutes before the guys returned from afternoon carloop.  We immediately started on dinner...  Grilled chicken breasts.  And, you guessed it...  We ran out of gas midway through grilling!  Cue Bryan racing to the store to exchange our empty gas tank for a full one.  With doctor's orders in mind, I loaded our dinner plates with green veggies.  Surprisingly, our boys actually ate the green beans and asparagus!  Miracles do happen.

Today, I also signed myself up for a 5K.  I went running for the first time in eight!  And in five weeks I will be running a 5K.  This all started with a high school friend who lives 3 states away posting her various runs on Facebook...  We were having a, you know, very private Facebook conversation about it, which led to a guy from high school suggesting I run in this 5K.  So, I enlisted a girlfriend who'd previously offered to help me run, and we're now doing the 5K together.  Thanks, Jenny.  I hope you won't have to drag me across the finish line.

The for KIDS by KIDS bike-a-thon is also rapidly approaching, so I spent some time communicating with area schools, and drafting a flyer and sponsorship letters that we will be sending to area businesses.  May 8th will be here before we know it!  Fundraising is not quite as fun as event planning.  Necessary though.

Did I mention that I lost my voice on Saturday?  Gone!  But, duty calls...  Imagine being on the receiving end of my phone calls right now!  Or the poor doctors who had to lean in to hear me.  ha!

And, somehow, I managed to clean the kitchen, run the dishwasher, do two loads of laundry, straighten up the family room and sort the boys' laundry.

Phew...  I checked tomorrow's schedule.  It's a much slower day!

Guess what

Can you guess what happened yesterday?

Yes, the sun did come out.
Making the kids squint when I took pictures.

Yes, we did play outdoors for hours, without coats.
And the kids got along swimmingly!

Yes, we did see a lot of people in shorts.
Zach's size 8 jeans were too short.  Does that count?

Yes, we did ride bikes for the first time this year.
Although Luke hates his big-boy bike.

 But the big news of the day is that Zach lost another tooth!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Building Intimacy in Your Marriage

I was givin the priceless gift of attending our church's annual Women's Retreat last weekend.  The entire thing was wonderfully encouraging.  All the crying left my eyes stinging for hours after I returned home.  Surly I'm not the only one who loves a good cry and sort of measures the impact of time spent with friends by the number of tears shed or the voice remaining after hysterical laughter.

Each of the sessions spoke to me, but the Intimacy one had a special impact.  I've had a lot of friends ask about it, so I thought a blog post was in order.

Thank you to my friend Connie for leading the session!  You did an excellent job and women throughout the church are still talking about it.

Connie opened with some scripture that gave me a totally new perspective.

"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."  Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."  Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; he shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."  Genesis 2:15-25 (ESV)

At this point in time, sin had not yet entered the world...  The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Enter sin...

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"  

This is not exactly what God said.  Eve added "neither shall you touch it".  She embellished the truth. 

"But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and he ate."

Do you see how Satan twisted the truth and that changed Eve's perspective?

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths."  Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV)

Sin can so easily change our perspective of intimacy.

When pornography enters, our view of intimacy is distorted.  When childhood sexual abuse enters, the victim's view of intimacy is shattered.  When temptation and peer pressure enter into the life of a young person, it changes their perception of intimacy and purity.

And what human being doesn't feel the societal pressure to look a certain way?  For so many, those ideals lead to a terribly distorted view of themselves, totally hindering God's design for pure intimacy between husband and wife.

Living in a sinful world, it is critical that we keep this in mind at all times.  We have to be intentional about overcoming the impact of sin and rejecting the world's lies.

***Warning***  From here on out, you might consider the information to be rated PG13.  Just thought I'd give you a heads-up in case you're reading with a 7 year old peering over your shoulder.

Myth busters...

Myth #1 - We shouldn't talk about sex.

Truth - God talks about sex, so clearly He has no issue with us talking about it!  In fact, he desires for open communication between husband and wife.  We need to communicate with one another about all aspects of our intimacy - what works, what doesn't, what's agreeable in the marriage bed, what's getting in the way, medical concerns.  In addition to talking with our spouses, it is important for us to seek medical attention when necessary.  As we age and have children, our bodies change.  Our husbands' bodies change as well.

Myth #2 - If you haven't had an orgasm during sex, it means you can't.

Truth - Statistics show that 10% of women are unable to achieve orgasm, 30% of women can achieve orgasm through penetration, leaving 60% of women (couples) needing to try another source of stimulation.  There are lubricants to meet varying needs.

Myth #3 - I can't do anything to improve my sex drive.

Truth - There are a lot of things you can do to improve your sex drive.  Get some exercise.  Too busy?  Say no to other things so you can say yes to your husband.  Openly communicate what you need with your spouse.  Medications can dramatically impact sex drive.  Allergy meds are drying, birth control pills attribute to hormonal changes, hypertension meds can stifle sex drive, etc...  Read about your medications and talk to your doctor about alternatives.  See a doctor if you have a medical issue - they happen to the best of us.

Myth #4 - He wants sex all the time.

Truth - Most men do not want sex all the time.  They ask for it all the time because they never know when we might say yes.

This led to a discussion on love languages...  For many men "touch" is at the top of their list and for many women (especially mothers) anything but touch is at the top of their list.  Why?  For many moms, it's because we're busy all day taking care of the kids - feeding, schooling, bathing, holding, playing...  And when we're not focused on the kids, we're cleaning house, running errands, paying bills, volunteering, or working.  We're all served out and touched out.  We're exhausted and we have legitimate headaches.  We want to hear uplifting words, we want some help, we want some heart-to-heart time with our husbands.  Sometimes we want to be left alone.  We do not want to do one more thing for one more person.  Yes...  We all-too-often mistakenly consider intimacy a task.

The truth is...  When we let all of our excuses go, intimacy is enjoyable for both husband and wife.  (It can also rejuvenate the tired mother and relieve her of her headache!)  It is especially meaningful for our husbands.  (And we should be flattered and affirmed that they want to be intimate with the woman we incorrectly see as imperfect and unattractive.)  When they get that "yes" from us, they are affirmed.  They are loved and accepted.  And it is amazing to see what a smiley-faced, affirmed, loved and accepted husband is willing to do for his wife!  (insert my own smile here...)  When we embrace intimacy as a part of our lives, a lovely cycle of connection and mutual fulfillment begins.

Myth #5 - Marital intimacy isn't important to God.

Truth - It is most definitely important to God.

"Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.  The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.  Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 (ESV)

At the end of the day, I am tempted to write this on my bathroom mirror as an important reminder:
"I am the one right expression of my husband's sexuality."

For further reading:

The Fig Leaf Conspiracy:  Revealing Sexuality as it was Mean to Be by Jimmy Evans

No More Headaches:  Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage by Dr. Juli Slattery

Naked and Not Ashamed:  How God Redeems Our Sexuality by Dan Scott

Every Man's Battle:  Ever Man's Guide to Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey, women's health issues

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hilarious outtakes

This week's photo challenge at I Heart Photos is hilarious outtakes...  Enjoy these few funnies.

Like father like son.

Freezing?  Problem solved.

"Mom, look at my muscles!"

Or, as I like to say...

"At least someone is having fun in the laundry room."

A minute on the lips,
a lifetime on the hips.

Monday, March 1, 2010

PCOS and me

In the last couple of weeks, I have come across a couple of different blog posts and articles about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) - something I was diagnosed with a year and a half ago but have honestly never heard anyone talk about.  Something I knew I had, but didn't know how extensively it was impacting my life.

I should back up a little...

I have been carrying about ten extra pounds since Luke was born 3 1/2 years ago.  I was back in pre-pregnancy jeans six days after delivering Zachary, so it was strange to me to not lose Luke's baby weight right away.  I attributed it to aging and having two kids though.  I was approaching 35 and everyone said this would happen...

My acne was horrible, but it's always been horrible.  Two years ago, I found a dermatologist who put me on Spironolactone (hormone blocker) to treat it.  Excessive thirst is a common drug side-effect, and excessive thirst I did have.  I went off the Spironolactone, but my excessive thirst never went away.  I've been thirsty now for over two years!  Turns out, it was not the Spironolactone that caused it. 

Six months later, I had three periods in 28 days.  I'd never had a single irregular period before this!  Went to see my GYN...  We discussed the acne, thirst and crazy cycles.  He ordered some blood work to check for diabetes, thyroid, etc.  Everything came back "normal", so he diagnosed me with PCOS and put me on Yaz (birth control).  Since my cycles were NOT normal and everything else WAS, I thought my only real PCOS issue was the insane cycles!

This is what happens when you treat things casually, chalk everything up to "aging" or "postpartum", and don't complain or worry. 

I changed dermatologists a year ago.  She put me on Accutane for nine months.  This worked great while I was on the meds, but when I came off it in December I began having bad breakouts again (only about 1/2 as bad as they were pre-Accutane).  I thought the PCOS was strictly an issue for my cycles, so I didn't think to mention it to her before.

One side-effect of Accutane is increased risk of depression and mental issues...

I began experiencing these short episodes of chest tightening and difficulty breathing a few years ago.  They lasted for 30-60 seconds, so I didn't think much of them since they subsided so quickly and without lasting effects...  Last August, I had a really intense one that resulted in a trip to urgent care.  The doctor ran an EKG, chest x-ray, etc. and determined that I was physically fine.  She gently told me that she thought I was suffering from panic attacks.  I assumed that the attacks had gotten worse as a result of my increased dose of Accutane.  I did not know that panic attacks are a symptom of PCOS.

I have also suffered a great deal over the last six months with my emotions - dramatic mood swings, on-edge, impatience, nervousness, insecurity, and most recently I've had times where I've felt as if I were verging on depressed.  Sounds like every other tired mom at the tail end of winter, doesn't it?  But what I am feeling is not my normal.  I'm off.

I also had a physical a few months ago, and labs revealed that my cholesterol is high.  Never in my life has my cholesterol been high!  I eat fairly well, so it caught me off guard; however, I assumed it was due to lack of exercise.  PCOS can cause high cholesterol.

Because there is a rational explanation for every one of these symptoms, I did not put them together to paint one picture of a woman struggling with somewhat un-managed PCOS.  (My cycles regulated beautifully with Yaz.)  And, because I do not have the "typical body type" of a PCOS patient, doctors hadn't put all the pieces together either.

Today I took my first step toward better treatment.  I went to see my wonderful dermatologist.  I shared with her my hunches and she confirmed that I was likely right on target.  She gave me some recommendations for treating my acne -- and they happen to be drugs that are used by GYN's to treat PCOS.

My next step is to see my GYN next week.  I will take my dermatologist's ideas to him and see how we can treat this as a team.  I am incredibly blessed with wonderful doctors and am confident that we have the ball rolling in the right direction now.

Now that I know better than to accept everything as "normal".

If you have PCOS, I would love to hear from you.  And if you have a smattering of health issues that "you think are nothing", I want to encourage you to find a good doctor and share the entire picture with them.  That might have saved me - and my family - months of difficulty.