health happenings

so I went to my doctor last summer after having odd feelings of numbness/tingling/heaviness in my arms, back, and face for..... well for a few months.  I started with massage and network chiropractic care and while those were helpful, it wasn't lasting and I figured I best get it checked out.  well, she couldn't find anything but she sent me to a neurologist who then sent me for brain and neck MRIs.  to rule out scary things.  that was a long hour or so spent in a noisy tube, but thank you thank you thank you, all was clear.  but there was still that pesky numbness.  it came and went all summer and stayed gone for a few weeks after some magical cranio-sacral work.  come fall and then through the winter, it came and went (is coming and going) again.  more massage.  a visit to the acupuncturist.  another visit with the doctor, another cranio-sacral appointment.......  who knows what it is.  But, I did find out a few things that are important to know.  I am deficient in D (I know it's common, but I was still surprised! I'm outside in the sunshine a lot and almost never use sunscreen- come on!), have a low liver enzyme that likely means a zinc deficiency, and I have an autoimmune thyroid disorder called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (which, as it turns out, typically goes hand in hand with low zinc and Vitamin D).

So- none of that may even explain the numbness and tingling, but here I am.  I've been reading a lot and eating very differently.  I mean, I've considered my diet a very healthy one for a long time- whole foods, lots of veggies, little sugar, gluten-free, minimal processed stuff....... A creature of habit, I typically had an egg and gluten free toast in the morning (or oatmeal if it was cold, yogurt if it was really hot), beans and greens and avocado on corn tortillas for lunch, and a rotation of fairly simple protein meets veggies dinners with a grain thrown in for that satisfying fill-you-up-ness. Snacking on fruit or veggies or tortilla chips and homemade salsa, maybe some nuts or a rice cake with peanut butter......

Well lately that has changed.

Lately it has been broth.  Broth and broth and broth and broth.  And well cooked vegetables, pureed at first, but now whole.  Some well cooked meat.  I have pretty much had soup of some sort for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two weeks.

Basically, I did a week of homemade broths and pureed 'low residue' vegetable soups (with lots of coconut oil added in because your body needs fat), and vegetable juices.  And then last week I started the very limiting GAPS intro diet.  The thing with GAPS though is that they fairly quickly reintroduce a bunch of foods that the Autoimmune Protocol recommends keeping away from for a good long while (yummy things like eggs and dairy and nuts and seeds) before slowly reintroducing to identify any trigger foods, so while I'm all about the gut-healing benefits of the GAPS intro diet, I'm not completely sure it makes the most sense for me because even though I'm moving through the phases, I'm not adding very many of the things I could be adding, so it's a bit anticlimactic when I reach a new stage.  Well, I was psyched when I added in avocados and sautéed onions, and I'm really looking forward to cooked apples tomorrow since I haven't had fruit in 2 weeks, but still.......

Overall, I've had more energy and (aside from constantly being a little hungry) I feel pretty great.  I'm taking just a couple of the supplements recommended for Hashimoto's, along with digestive enzymes and a high potency probiotic.  A 50,000 IU Rx for D3.  Drinking lots of good water and doing yoga pretty much every day.  I still have the numbness and tingling, and I won't lie- it annoys me that the thing that got me going to the doctor in the first place hasn't been resolved or figured out yet and here I got this bonus autoimmune diagnosis.... sigh.  In a way though, it is empowering to have the information and be able to put together some of the puzzle when looking at my lab work.  Inconveniently empowering, yes, but......... ah well.

What I miss most is my corn tortillas.
 And my toast.  Toast can fix just about anything.



seven.  wow.

The (very cold, windy) Saturday before her birthday we met up with a group of her buddies at a trailhead nearby and hiked the 3/4 mile or so together to the playground, where we had lunch, hot cider, and cupcakes waiting.  The kids ran and played and the adults huddled around with cider and found sunny places to stand while we talked about all sorts of things.  We sang to her as papa presented the tray of cupcakes, but we didn't even try to light candles because of the wind.  That was her birthday party this year.  It was sweet and simple, it got us outdoors on a cold day, and I didn't have to clean my house before or after.

Here is a link to a post about her super sweet tea party from last year, along with some photos from the day she was born.  love, love, love.

A couple mornings later, on her actual birthday, she woke to balloons in her doorway and some simple decorations, flowers, and gifts in the dining room.  There had been a light dusting of snow overnight (there had been a blizzard the night before she was born).  We had a sweet visit with my mom and then, later, she chose to stay home with papa while I worked (mostly so she could watch The BFG) and later that evening we hosted some very close friends for a special birthday dinner.  This time, there were candles.

happy seventh time around the sun, dear sweet girl.



I made us matching hats, my girl and I. 

'pama' is a mix-up of 'papa' and 'mama' that Claire used to use, often and accidentally, when addressing one or the other of us and then realizing mid-speak, that she was talking to the other.  It comes up every now and then, as it did in this little message left behind for us. love, love, love.

not bad for a salad plucked from a January cold frame...

Snow! we got some! 
(and we hope a bit more will come our way before winter's end...)

cold, snowy days are good days for herbal tea brewing and medicine making

So we looked at photos and watched videos of civil rights marches on MLK, Jr. Day, and I talked a little with Claire about how lots of women all over the world were gathering to walk in solidarity for equal rights for themselves and others, and for many, many other things.  It was a brief conversation, really.  I told her our little town was holding it's own march and I asked her if she would like to go and she said yes.  A few hours later she showed me this- a little 'dry run' I suppose, with her plastic animals.  Apparently her plastic animals have strong feelings about women being treated well, being treated the same as men, and being paid more money.  Also, they are fans of love.  LOVE!  love is love is love is love.


2016 book list

this year's books, with favorites marked with an asterisk (or two):

*The Telling, Jo Baker
Little Woman in Blue, Jeannine Atkins
Miss Emily, Nuala O'Connor
Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling
Silver Bay, Jojo Moyes
After You, Jojo Moyes
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
*A Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks
Caleb's Crossing, Geraldine Brooks
Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
The Pecan Man, Cassie Dandridge Selleck
Sheepish, Catherine Friend
An Everlasting Meal, Tamar Adler
Breathing Room, Lauren Rosenfeld & Melva Green
Longbourne, Jo Baker
The Railwayman's Wife, Ashley Hay
Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
The Bookstore, Deborah Meyler
The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin
Confinement, Carrie Brown
The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane
Hector and the Search for Happiness, Francois Lelord
The Orchard House, Tara Austen Weaver
**To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey
Happy People Read and Drink Coffee, Agnes Martin-Lugand
The Other Side of the World, Stephanie Bishop
*The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
Worldchanging 101, David LaMotte
**The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
Results May Vary, Bethany Chase
With Love from the Inside, Angela Pisel
Sweetgirl, Travis Mulhauser
*The Girl you Left Behind, Jojo Moyes

read aloud with Claire:

The Secret Garden
The Penderwicks
The Birchbark House
Game of Silence (Birchbark book two)
The Little Prince
Anne of Green Gables

I've got a soft spot for historical fiction and imagine I always will, and I seem often to unknowingly (usually unknowingly) choose really tragic books.  Which is alright, but sometimes pretty intense what with all of those feelings.  I was thrilled to get my hands on Eowyn Ivey's new book (she wrote The Snow Child, which is one of my all time favorites), and I loved it- for me, it was the perfect blend of historical fiction, magical realism, and gorgeous scenery that I was easily able to picture in my mind thanks to her beautifully descriptive writing.  I hope she writes many more books very soon.

here are the book lists for 20132014, and 2015.

cheers and happy reading! (and do please tell me about your own favorites- I'm always looking for a good book to add to the list)


year end cheer

there were a couple batches of gingerbread, and some peppermint bark.  there was a caroling party at a friend's house.  sweet notes in the mail.  sweet surprise boxes in the mail filled with goodies.  there were bird treats made on the solstice and later in the evening, a candlelit dinner with the best of friends.  sparkly lights, felted gifts for special little people, a christmas morning tea party with a very special new tea set (also made a dutch baby pancake instead of our usual cinnamon rolls and it was a huge hit- we went on to make it again twice over the next three days).  there were gifts brought back from Italy (Mike spent a week in Italy in mid-December, and hid the goodies until Christmas morning) - wine, some honey candies, honey, a huge bag of olives, and parmesan cheese from Parma.... yum, yum.  I was gifted a great new pair of slippers.  we had a low key and sweet holiday, to be sure. visits with friends and family, lots of time spent in pajamas and near the fire, many books read and movies watched.  delicious soups with dumplings (and without) and hearty wintry meals.  I knit a pair of matching hats for me and my girl.  Claire has watched The Secret Garden at least three times since Christmas.  I keep hoping the temperature will drop a bit and some snow will come our way.....  hopefully soon.

and now tomorrow we get back into the swing of things.  back to work and back to school.  time to make some plans and set some things into motion.

happy new year~ cheers!


making merry

hanging the little christmas walnut mouse from my childhood on the tree, with the sweet little mouse advent calendar from my childhood in the background
I so love that little walnut mouse..... so I am working on felting some buddies for her
and then since all the wool was out, we each made a barn owl
making swags for friends
swag-making, narcissus-planting....
her advent calendar that I made several years ago, and her own little swag on her bedroom door
I just want to sit on the couch and look at the tree
made photo cards this year for the first time ever, and she and I are working on getting them out
2 ukuleles
"Gary's tree"
hot cocoa enjoyed out on the trail on a chilly, festive day
best of friends
advent/solstice spiral

It is beginning to feel quite like Christmastime around here.  We got our tree last weekend after the annual town parade.  Her paper pocket advent calendar is up (I love this little calendar- each day I slip in a little note with something written on it for us to do that day- buy groceries for the food pantry, visit a friend, make swags and wreaths, drink hot cocoa, etc., and each day she tells me something she is grateful for and I write it on the back of the note and pin it to the calendar so we can keep track of where we are, and she can be reminded of all the many things she is grateful for), along with the advent/solstice spiral, and now (after finding it in a bin at my dad's place) the little cloth pocket advent calendar that we had when I was a child- I loved moving the mouse each day, and now she does, too.  To be sure, there is no lack of countdown opportunities in our household.

Sometimes I think getting the opportunity to relive and re-experience the holidays through the eyes of a child is one of the best parts of parenting.  I suppose it isn't just holidays, of course- it's a shift in perspective regarding so many things, all the time.  A slowing down.  A looking deeper.  A sense of wonder and a willingness to be caught off guard.  I try to keep my eyes and heart open to these shifts, and to let the slower pace seep into my bones.  There are plenty of times when I am aware that I am hurrying things along, hurrying her along, and not allowing that shift to take place, not allowing myself to just be and to recalibrate.  I don't know why I ever resist it- the slowness, the deliberateness, the introspection...... these are the things, after all, that feed me most.  Especially this time of year.

I used to not be a big fan of winter.  All that grey and cold and dark and slush.

Now, though.  I love seeing the lines of the mountains and the bones of the trees.  I want to bundle up and walk in the forest and feel the leaves and the frozen ground crunching under my feet.  All that grey is a soothing, misty shawl that I want to wrap myself up in.  I am grounded by this time of quiet, dark reflection.  I sit by the fire, by the sparkly tree.  I sip warm drinks and think and think and think.  I love all the time there is for sitting and thinking and snuggling.  I feel like a little old lady, or a cat seeking warmth and soft things to curl up on.

We made swags, we planted narcissi bulbs, we felted little creatures.
We sit by the fire and read.  We light candles and listen to holiday music.  My favorites these days are the Indie Christmas and Celtic Holidays stations on Pandora.

Today was a great day.  We met our dearest friends at a nearby trailhead and took a short hike through the woods to a tree, a little hemlock, that is adorned with decorations year-round.  It is called "Gary's tree", though I'm not sure why.  Claire asked today who Gary was.  She asked if maybe he had died and this tree was for him.  I am not sure, but I want to find out.  Surely a little digging will lead to an answer.  So we met our friends and walked through the forest to this tree.  We sat by it and had hot cocoa and popcorn, and the girls decorated the tree with things they brought and we read a Christmas book and it was awesome.  A instant and dearly-loved holiday tradition was born today, I am quite sure.