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Goodbyes and See You Laters

I don’t like saying goodbye.

Endings are sad.  I have had a lot of endings this summer it seems.

But just like the year turns, endings make room for new beginnings.

Why am I so morose?

I am going to be saying goodbye to this blog.

Since hearing the news about Kate Middleton’s new pregnancy, I’ve thought a lot about blogging and asked myself lots of questions:

Why am I saying nothing about her HG pregnancy?  Why am I not blogging about this?  Why am I not blogging about anything?

It comes to this: Every time I log into this blog, I see that green HG monster.  Every time I read the title, I remember that I can’t have more children without risking my life.  I remember smells, hospitals, IV sticks, and the unending misery of Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

The bottom line is, I’m not pregnant anymore. I never will be again.  This was a pregnancy blog, and it’s time to say goodbye.

That’s not to say that I will be taking this blog down.  I won’t.  I believe in my heart that this blog is a valuable resource for sick women and their family members.  I know that women with HG need to understand that they are not alone.  So I will keep the blog up.

You may see things simplify a bit as time passes.  The custom URL will go back to the WordPress basic URL and the overall look will likely become simpler, but the information will remain the same.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be writing anymore. No sirree!  Free from the baggage of HG, I’m starting a new blog where I plan to write about… whatever I want!  Cooking, gardening, raising my girls…

That site is still in the early birthing stages, but you can find it here:

Grasshopper Girls

 

I’m so grateful for the support that you, my readers gave to me.  You stuck with me through some dark times, and I am so grateful.  I could not have survived the HG pregnancy without that support.  Each comment from you all meant so much and lifted me up when I needed it the most.  For that I am forever grateful.

Over the next week, you will notice things begin to shift on this page as I begin shutting it down.  I’ve already updated twitter!  I hope you will join me at my new project as I begin anew.

So this isn’t really a goodbye.  It’s more of a see you later.

And I truly hope that I will.

Thank you all.

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Toddlers and Tonsillectomies and Things to be Thankful For

As many of you may remember, Little Katie had her tonsils out a few weeks ago. It was a stressful time for our family and things have been pretty crazy.

Thankfully, the surgery went well and she has bounced back quickly. Too quickly! Keeping a toddler quiet for two weeks has been difficult. We’ve played lots of games, colored lots of pictures, and watched way too many cartoons.

During this recovery period, I’ve discovered that I have lots to be thankful for. Our overnight hospital stay really drove that home.

At the start of our stay, I felt sorry for myself and for Katie. How awful it was that my baby was having surgery. How hard for her and for us. I will admit that I spent a few hours wallowing a bit.

But the reality is this: Time in a Children’s Hospital puts things into perspective pretty quickly.

While Katie slept, and I was alone with my thoughts, I thought about how lucky we were.  A deep feeling of gratitude quickly overcame the self-pity I felt.

I’m thankful for so many things.

I’m thankful for a stellar medical team who took wonderful care of Katie during her surgery and hospital stay.

I’m thankful for my family who came to be with us during the surgery. I’m thankful for my Mother-in-Law who stood in my stead at home and cared for my family and home while I focused on Katie.  And my Father-in-Law who played with Gabi and helped her to feel special while her sister was getting so much attention.  And my mom who was willing to drop everything to come help, but equally willing to let my Mother-in-Law step in to help, too.

I’m thankful for a circle of friends who shared with me their experiences, checked on us, and kept back the things they knew would frighten me.

I’m thankful that I have a job that allowed me to be with Katie the entire time.

Most of all, I am thankful that we all came home together, healthier than we started.

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Wheat Bread Success!

I have finally had success in baking a loaf of wheat bread.  I think I had to get out my frustration in that earlier post in order to clear the way for baking success.

I thought and thought on what to do and where to go for a recipe.  Then it occurred to me that maybe the answers were in my trusty ABin5 book.  Now technically, those breads don’t count as soaked or sourdough, but could I tweak one just a little to make it work for the dietary changes I am making?

I found a recipe that I had thus far avoided right up front in the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book:  The Soft Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe.  I’d never tried it because it’s an enriched loaf.  But I decided to give it a shot.

Now this does have some unbleached all purpose flour in it.  It’s not 100% wheat.  It also has 5 eggs and 2/3 cup butter.  Not to mention 1/2 cup of honey.  It’s very enriched.  But all of this softens the bread making it more like the bread my family is used to eating from the grocery store.

In order to make the loaf easier to digest and more nourishing, I subbed 3 tablespoons of whey and 1 cup of leftover water from boiling potatoes in place of some of the water.  I just swapped equal amounts and crossed my fingers that it would be okay.  I am hoping that the addition of the whey to the dough, which is naturally stored for some time, would allow me to class this as a soaked bread recipe.

Baking was a total success.  I used the coated USA Pan loaf pan to bake it in and lightly greased it with cultured butter just to make sure the loaf wouldn’t stick.  I’m not used to baking in a loaf pan so I was worried.  But it slid out just fine.

This loaf was a total success.  It was tasty, soft, not too heavy, and I felt good about feeding it to my family.  Apparently, my family felt good about eating it, too, because they just gobbled it right up and I’m already baking a second loaf this afternoon!

I’m so relieved to finally have some success with a loaf of wheat bread.  I wish it wasn’t such an enriched recipe.  I want to explore some options for a simpler, but still tasty, loaf.  5 eggs, 2/3 cup butter, and 1/2 cup honey isn’t exactly cheap, so I hope that I can find a way to tone that down.

But the loaf itself was rich and delicious.  Sweet, wheaty, and buttery tasting.  Almost like a whole wheat brioche loaf.  I’m glad enough of the success because it gives me a confidence boost and lends me the courage to keep trying for that perfect loaf of wheat bread.

Total score again on the ABin5 books.  They are just fantastic.

If you don’t have them yet, there are three out right now:

These books are awesome and worth every single penny.

 

 

 

 

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Surgery on my Baby

On Monday, my little Katie is having her tonsils and adenoids out.  I know it needs to be done, but it sure isn’t easy.

Before this year, I thought that tonsillectomies were for older kids who had strep throat a lot.  I wasn’t really aware of any of my peers having it done, so I never knew much about it.  As it turns out, there can be a variety of reasons for removing tonsils and adenoids, with infections being only one of those reasons.

Since she was born, Katie has always been a stuffy kid.  When she was a newborn, I called her my little bulldog because she would snort and snuffle and grunt and snore just like an English bulldog.

This January, the snoring became much worse.  It stopped being cute and quirky and started disrupting both of our sleep.  I felt silly calling the doctor to complain about it.  I mean, can you really take your kid in to the doctor for snoring?

Yes.  You can and you should.

As it turns out, Katie has sleep apnea.  As she sleeps, her muscles relax, allowing her very swollen tonsils to come together and block her airway.  She will snore for a period of time before the airway closes complete, jolting her awake.  I spend my nights adjusting her body, lifting her head to make sure her neck is extended and the airway is as wide as possible, pulling her shoulders back to open her chest, and repositioning her arms so they don’t dig into her neck.

Neither of us are getting much sleep, and I have this constant fear that I will sleep through an obstructive episode and she will just die from positional asphyxiation.  At this time, we cannot allow her to fall asleep in her carseat because her head slumps forward and she cannot get oxygen.  Her ribcage sucks in as she struggles for air, much like when babies are suffering from stridor.  It is frightening.

The image above shows her sleeping in her stroller which is not an option now because of how restricted her airway is.

I know that this must be done, but still I am frightened.  I would appreciate any prayers and loving thoughts that you might have for her and her doctors.

If any of you have ever done this before, I sure would love tips for the healing period.  Is there anything you wish someone would have told you going into this?

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Facebook Reentry

It’s been the entire month of June since I’ve been on Facebook. The break has been good in some ways and not so good in other ways.

Being away from Facebook has given me much more time to dive into some of my real passions and hobbies. This blog for example. I’ve been having more fun cooking, too, which has been both beneficial and not so beneficial if my last post on bread failures has an indication.

I’ve enjoyed more focused time with my kiddos, which is irreplaceable. Having Facebook looming in the background had been a distraction for some time and it has been good to be rid of it.

Being off Facebook has been difficult in some ways, though. I’ve found myself more isolated from my real life friends. Much of our social planning took place on Facebook, and I found it difficult to connect and plan outings and play dates.

With all of that, I will be going back to Facebook, albeit in a more limited way. I briefly loaded the app on my iPad and removed myself from most of the groups I had found my way into. I trimmed my group list down from almost 40 to around 5.

I left groups that I didn’t post in frequently and groups that tended to invite drama. While I dislike drama, I found myself drawn to watch dramatic activities take place, and I certainly don’t need to waste time and energy on that.

I’ve been working on trimming my friend list pretty heavily. That I am finding quite difficult. It feels almost mean to remove someone from my friend list. I find myself worrying that their feelings will be hurt. But the people I am removing are those that I just don’t interact with at all. Or people that I can’t quite remember where I know them from. Or people that tend to bring drama. Still it feels mean. I don’t like doing it. But I feel it’s important to do.

I’m not sure when I will be really back from Facebook. The only thing I’ve done so far was to comment in my World of Warcraft guild group. For whatever reason, I’m not eager to start posting status updates. Reentry into Facebook will be an interesting experience, and I hope I can maintain some of the distance I have created for myself.

Time will tell.

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Brick by Brick by Brick

No, I’m not building anything. Although, it seems like I could.

I’m trying to learn to bake whole wheat breads.  I’ve tried what seems like countless recipes.  And it’s not that I just stink at making bread.  Oh, no.  I’m pretty confident in saying that my white breads are pretty phenomenal.

I just really want to learn to make a good wheat bread.  Preferably a soaked wheat bread or a sourdough loaf.  I’ve had marginal success with the ABin5 technique, but I’d really like a soaked or sourdough recipe so that my family can digest all of the nutrients in the wheat.

The thing is, I don’t have access to fresh ground wheat and I don’t have a wheat grinder.  Most of the recipes I find call for that.  Certainly the Nourishing Traditions and Nourishing Kitchens recipes do.  But that’s just not something I have and it’s not something I can afford.

I’m feeling very frustrated.  I’m a big believer in the idea that cooking and food should not be elitist, but that it should be something that people come together to share and build community.  But I can’t shake the feeling that I am just not doing it right.  I just don’t have the right equipment or flour or whatever it is to make decent wheat bread.

I’ve tried a few different kinds of flour.  Stone ground from several companies, whole wheat flour, white wheat flour.  I’ve tried adding vital wheat gluten.  I’ve tried countless recipes.  I just can’t get it to come out.

This morning, my latest failure was wheat buttermilk biscuits (pictured above).  They were inedible to all of us except little Katie who dipped hers in ketchup and gnawed away after gleefully telling us they hurt her teeth.

What can I do?  Do any of you have any suggestions?  Is there a no fail soaked wheat or sourdough wheat recipe that you’ve had success with?

My broth, bubbling away. So colorful and pretty in the pot!

Trying My Hand at Chicken Broth

I’m trying to eat better.  I’ve had quite a few stomach issues following the hyperemesis.  Things ranging from psychological to physiological.  I’m hoping to help heal that by healing my gut.

I’m not brave enough to go into the GAPS diet.  I love grains and dairy way too much to do either that or paleo.  But in doing reading and thinking over the last year, I’ve become very interested in the Weston A. Price diet.  It’s a nourishing diet that focuses on healthy meats, soaked and sprouted grains, farm fresh dairy, and healthy fats.

So earlier this week, I gritted my teeth (more on why I had to do that at a later date) and picked up a copy of Nourishing Traditions.  The bookstore had a sale on if I ordered it online and had it shipped, so I’m still waiting for it to arrive.

In the interim, one of my dear friends from back in California introduced me to Nourished Kitchen, a blog run by a woman that doesn’t induce the same teeth gritting and grumbling as some other WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) blogs.  Reading her blog has been a delight.  Her tone is friendly and approachable, and she does a nice job of providing detailed and easy to follow directions.

My past attempts to make good broth have been… not so great.  In the past, I’ve used the crock pot to cook down the leftover carcass, and the broth has come out tasting weird and without that great gelatin that you’re supposed to have with a good bone broth.  The gel is important.  It contains the collagen and nutrients that make bone broth so, so good for you.

So this week, I attempted the chicken broth recipe from Jenny over at Nourished Kitchen.

The process…

I did not follow her recipe exactly.  Instead of a whole chicken, I used the frozen carcass of a previously cooked chicken that I had been saving.  For added collagen, I threw in a package of wings that I had purchased for this purpose.  Also still frozen.  I also included the giblets I had saved in the freezer from several other roasted birds.

For veggies, I didn’t have a whole gallon of veggie scraps, so I made do.  I had a bunch of beet tops that I had frozen for smoothies back before my blender broke so I added those.  I threw in a few chopped up carrots without their tops.  The jury seems to be out on whether or not the tops are toxic, so I skipped them until I have more time to research.

For flavor, I threw in two bay leave, a few grinds of pepper, and some frozen flavor cubes.  The flavor cubes are left from when I made Master Tonic and a version of kids tonic I called Kidz Brew this winter.  My Kidz Brew differs from the Master Tonic in that it is not so spicy and more citrus based. After making the two tonics, I saved the solids that I had strained off and froze them into ice cube trays to create the powerful and tasty flavor cubes.  I added two Master Tonic cubes and one Kidz Brew cube.  Finally, I had some cilantro that was headed the wrong way with no plans to use it up, so I tossed it in, too.

I did not add salt, and I found later that it does not need additional salt.  The flavor is just fine.

My broth, bubbling away. So colorful and pretty in the pot!
My broth, bubbling away. So colorful and pretty in the pot!

I followed the rest of Jenny’s directions to the letter, simmering in my cast iron dutch oven for 6 hours.  I didn’t have any scum to scrape off, so I just cooked it and stirred.

Once the soup was made…

When the 6 hours were over, I strained it and placed it back into the pot.  Then I placed the pot in the sink in a bath of ice water to chill the soup quickly so I could refrigerate it safely without worrying about food poisoning.  Once cool, I decanted (love that word) it into jars.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I got gelatin!  You can’t tell from the pictures, but when you poke it, it wobbles beautifully!

My cooled and jarred chicken broth, full of healthy gelatin!
My cooled and jarred chicken broth, full of healthy gelatin!

Then, I began my freezing process.  I used a large silicone muffin mold to freeze the soup into 1/2 cup batches for easy measuring.  The silicone is flexible enough that I can just pop the cubes out after freezing to store in a baggie in the freezer.  Then I can take out what I need for the recipe or for a snack or light meal, and I’m done!  It’s already pre-measured and ready to go.

Frozen in a silicone muffin mold for easy removal.
Frozen in a silicone muffin mold for easy removal.

 

This recipe was so precise and easy to follow, and it produced a delicious and healthy broth.  Since making it, I’ve eaten it plain, sipped from a coffee cup, and I’ve made simple miso soup with a little chopped konbu and a spoonful of miso.  This soup has definitely cured my feelings of defeat surrounding healthy broth.

Do you make your own broth or bone broth?  Do you have any tips to share?

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Feeling Defeated in the Garden

The squirrels, caterpillars, birds, and rabbits are beginning to win.

Back in March, I wrote about the squirrels digging in the garden.  Since that post, I’ve tried a number of methods to drive them away: plastic owls, brightly colored pinwheels, repellent powder, and little bags of coyote urine crystals.

I’ve had the best luck with the coyote crystals, but they have to be shaken every few days (which is gross) and they smell (also gross) and they seem to be signalling to the dog that she can poop around and between my raised beds (grossest of all).

Still, I get the occasional excavation, which always seems directed at the roots, and last week something dug the last of my Fire ‘n Ice radishes, took a single bite out of each one, and cast the rest aside.

I’m picking loads of caterpillars off the cauliflower, beets, and remaining watermelon radishes.  While my daughters cheer at the sight of the pretty white, purple, and yellow butterflies flitting about the garden, I grit my teeth in suppressed rage.  As fast as I scrape the eggs off the underside of the leaves, the butterflies return to lay more.

My bush beans are toast.  As are my sweet peas.  Something is snipping off the shoots.  All of the leaves are gone from my beans.  Only stalks are left.  Toward the end of the week, I had managed to get the peas trained to the trellis, but this morning I saw that the tops were gone.  They had been mowed back to stalks and the pretty flowers with their promise of reward were decimated.  The leaves of my peppers have also been neatly snipped away.

I have no idea what is doing this.  Is it a bird?  A rabbit?  Something more sinister?  Was I mistaken in assuming that the family of robins that I welcomed at the top of the drainpipe would only eat worms and insects?  Starlings?

I shudder to think what will happen once the tomatoes and cucumber start to fruit.  If they ever get the chance.

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Lost Times, Lost Places

There are some places from my past that are crystallized in my memory.

When I was a little girl, my mother used to take me to a place called Full Circle Farm.  It was a small family sheep farm, nestled in the Cascade Mountains of Washington.  Bill and Phyllis were dear, dear family friends.  They ran their farm with love and care.  They loved their animals and cared for them with great devotion.

It was a magical place.  I think there must have been wild chamomile growing in the fields because the light smell of apples and clean hay infused into every thing.  To this day, the smell of chamomile tea takes me right back to the farmhouse and the warmth of our friends.

In the evenings, the fog would roll in from between the fir trees, and in the mornings, it would remain, reluctant to drift off.  The red wooden barn was full of hay, and sheep, and the warm, comfortable smells of lanolin and wooly bodies.

My time at the farm has taken on an almost mythical quality in my mind.  Was it really that green?  Was the morning fog that dense? Was the air truly that sweet? Having spent time in the Olympic Mountains as an adult, I am inclined to believe that it was.

Bill is still with us, but we lost Phyllis several years ago to lung cancer.  That loss still hangs heavy on my heart.  She was a deeply peaceful and deeply loving woman.  She was a mentor, a friend, and grandmother figure to me.

Last night I had a dream that I had gone back to Full Circle Farm.  Phyllis was there, but Bill was not.  They had sold the farm and the new owners turned it into a luxurious horse farm.  I didn’t recognize anything.  The farm house was a different building, the barn was in a different place.  Instead of chamomile and wool and sweet fir trees, it smelled like dust and heat and horses. And I was so sad.  I wanted to take the girls to show them the special places at the farm.  The barn, the goat shed, the kitchen, the chicken coop…

I’m not sure what my dream means.  Perhaps it’s telling me that you can’t go back.  A reminder that I must look forward.  Still, I treasure the memories of Full Circle Farm, and I hope I can find new memories to make for my own children that are full of the same magic as that place.

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Detoxing from Facebook, Day 6

I’ve noticed when people in the past have left Facebook or taken time off, and it’s always left me with a strange feeling.  With the exception of my HG friend, I’ve noticed that the leaving of facebook often goes along with statements about superficiality and “real” friendships and “authentic” communication, and that has always sat kind of wrong with me.  It sometimes even includes lectures about how the rest of us should or should not live our lives.

It doesn’t seem fair to the other people who enjoy Facebook to try to attach definitions to the way they communicates.  It doesn’t seem right to minimize the very real feelings of other people in order to help yourself redefine the way you live your life.

So let me be very clear: My leaving Facebook isn’t some grand social statement on the evils of social media.  It’s about me.  Plain and simple.

It’s about me spending too much time online and not enough time with my family.  It’s about me avoiding other people in real life because they make me nervous.  And most of all, it’s about me connecting with my family and my children.

It has been a strange few days.  I’ve noticed that I tend to think of my activities in terms of Facebook posts.  The minutiae of my life, that no one really cares about, seems like headline news.  The complexity that makes me who I am has gotten lost in headlines and short statements.

The temptation here, of course, is to turn to twitter.  The urge to share can be satisfied in numerous ways.  To combat this urge, I’ve reduced my twitter activity and logged out of my twitter account to make sharing more difficult.  If it’s not effortless, I remember that I’m not supposed to do it.

It will be interesting to see how my thought patterns change as this progresses.  Minds are flexible things, so I am eager to see how I grow and change as the weeks go by.

Just a note:  While I am off of Facebook, I still have my wordpress account connected to my blog’s facebook page.  Despite the fact that these are auto-posting to Facebook, I am not checking for or moderating comments, so please, if you have something to say in response to my blog posts, come here to the blog to say it.  That way, I will see your comment and be able to respond.

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