Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Basking in the AZ sun

(warning, this is a lengthy recap of a trip that I never want to forget:)

Back in January, the weekend of the 23rd-25th, I got to be with 3 of my 4 sisters in Phoenix, AZ.


I had been wanting to visit my sister, Christina, ever since she moved out there 4 years ago. But it was just never feasible with pregnancy, babies, toddlers, nursing, missionary life, traveling, etc, etc. Then my littlest sis, Maureen, moved out there this summer when she landed a nursing job at the children's hospital. So ever since then, I began thinking in the Fall that once Casey and Owen were doing better, this trip had to finally happen!

Turned out my sister, Colleen, in Canada, who is preggo with #4 had the same idea of wanting to visit the single ladies, and we said we would try to go the same weekend, I told her the one I was aiming for.... but we knew there were no guarantees we could make that happen, with the craziness of life, our husbands work schedules, and price of flights, we said we would try but knowing we would each just have to do what was best.

There was loads of excitement when I booked mine, then she booked hers within days of each other, for the same weekend!!! She arrived Thursday night and I got in Friday morning. She then left Sunday morning and I left Sunday night, so we pretty much got the same amount of time there. I'm totally still basking in the joy of this trip. It did my heart so much good to spend quality time like that with my best friends. We missed our oldest sister a ton, (she has 4 month old twins - children #6 and #7 - and so couldn't come), but we facetimed with her on Saturday night which was a blast.

Whenever I travel alone, which um, I've only done like 4 times since I've been married, (and one of those times I was only pregnant with Hailey), I feel like I'm traveling so light!! And it is so nice to get to listen to music, read a magazine, or dose off while flying. It was a little crazy because my flight was at 7:30am, and we live over an hour away from the airport, sooooo, I set my alarm for 3:30am. My goal was the leave at 4am, because I was leaving my car at the Doubletree hotel and taking their shuttle. Luke even set an extra alarm for me on his phone. Well, I didn't hear either of them. I mean, I hadn't gotten to bed till midnight. I was doing all sorts of stuff, like make muffins, leaving notes with instuctions for Luke (what to feed to boys, how to do all their supplements, probiotics and Owen's bottles. It's all so complicated.

Anyway, his guardian angel woke him up because at 4am, he was poking me and telling me what time it was. I got changed, brushed my teeth and dashed out the door. Thankfully the roads were deserted at that hour and I made it to the hotel no problem. However, I missed the 5:30am shuttle by a minute. The driver wouldn't wait for me, he even asked me what time my flight was and said I would be fine waiting for the next shuttle at 6am. Um, I sat for the next half hour in the hotel lobby. But all's well that ends well, right? I made my flight with time to kill at the gate. No sweat.

I had a non stop flight so I got in to AZ at 10:30am, (45min early! Go Southwest! :) When the girls picked me up, (after I grabbed a much needed Starbucks in the terminal), we headed over to see the hospital my sister, Maureen, works at. We met a bunch of her co-workers and the whole time I was self-conscious of my appearance. I got 3 hours of sleep! I just got off a plane! I was basically wearing comfy work out clothes! Not that it really mattered at all. It was so awesome to see where she works. I love being able to envision her there, now that I have seen it. Which is pretty much how I feel about the entire trip.

Then we went and had the most lovely picnic by a river. Everything about the chicken salad with lettuce, the carrot sticks and hummus, strawberries and chips....oh! And my sisters!!! :) It was perfect.

And it was so warm!! We had incredible 75 degree days while we were there.

Before heading to my sister Christina's apartment, we stopped by her office so we could see where she works. It was almost surreal getting to see her office. We did a mock interview of her since she interviews so many different people for content on the lifeteen blog, it was funny.

When we got to Christina's place, we all crashed. Or maybe I just declared it was nap time. Either way, I had the worst headache and I knew it was from lack of sleep. Man, that nap felt good.

That night we celebrated Christina's birthday by going with her friends to "Escape the Room". If you have one near you I seriously encourage you to get a group together and check it out. We were trying to rob a bank and escape, all in 60 minutes. Then we went and got dessert and drinks and this super fun and classy bar/restaurant.

Saturday morning we hiked Camelback! Colleen and I had NOOOO idea the degree of difficulty of this thing, only that Christina and Maureen thought we could handle it. Wow, I think that was the biggest compliment to Colleen and I. And she was 4 months pregnant! I mean, ok, it was no 14ner like in CO, (which I never did, but I hear they are hard) but this is the desert, it was majorly rocky and at multiple points we were seriously scaling rocks on all fours with sharp drops on both sides. I think my pregnant sister's husband would have died if he saw what she was doing! But we kept her in the middle and stopped for short rests a few times, drank lots of water and snacked on protein packed granola bars. We had an amazing time. AZ took my breath away. I loved it way more than I thought I would.

Afterwards we were starving for lunch and went to this hipster place called Chop Shop and got some delicious wraps. Then it was back to Christina's apartment for showers and downtime. That evening we went to vigil mass and hit up the Trader Joe's on the way home. 

With the food we bought, we made a wonderful easy meal of tacos with chips and guacamole. Right as we were finishing up eating our sister who couldn't join us for the weekend called in to facetime! We squished on the couch and loved catching up with her and getting to feel like she was there too.

Sunday morning Colleen left early to go back to Canada, and so around mid morning Christina, Maureen and I went out for coffee in Agritopia. It is a subdivision that backs up to a plot of common gardening space. It is pretty big and I once saw something like this in a documentary. It completely intrigues me! Anyway, there are three resturaunts - the coffee shop, a hamburger place, and I forget the third...that are all right next to the big garden where they get all their produce, herbs, some fruit from. There is also a farm stand nearby too. It was so cool. The pictures I took don't really do it any justice. I loved it.

Maureen then had to go sleep because she was working the night shift that night, so Christina and I headed to the mall for a quick little shopping trip. I got new black leggings, my other ones had gotten a tear on rocks hiking the day before, and she bought some sweet cowgirl boots.

We had a light lunch back at her place and then just talked. Just savoring our last hour and a half together. It was so sad saying bye to her. I don't get to see her that much because of the distance, she wasn't able to come home for Christmas this year, and it's always hard when you don't know when is the next time that you will see each other.

My direct flight home Sunday evening went fine, I landed in Baltimore at 12:30am, and then needed to get my checked bag, catch the shuttle to go to the hotel, get my car and drive home. Phew, I got home at 3am. On the drive home, I surprisingly wasn't that sleepy, I just kept music on loud that I didn't particularly like, and it annoyed me enough to keep me awake, haha. I was just thankful I made it home. We were forcasted to get snow and ice that night but I made it home, literally pulling in our driveway, just as it was starting. Thank you Jesus. Luke and I had agreed if necessary I just would have stayed the night at the Doubletree, but I really just wanted to get home.

Luke and the kids had a great weekend too, he really is amazing. I am just so thankful I was able to go on this trip. After all the stress of this past year, I so needed it. I have been emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted. The Arizona sun and my sisters was exactly, exactly, what this lady needed.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


So hey, I'm doing the Whole30! Jumping on this crazy bandwagon! And I figured I'm 5 days in so time for a post! Let me tell you, this is HARD!

But quickly let me explain why Whole30.

Back when I was nursing Owen I was basically eating a paleo diet. But I didn't even know it. I didn't know what paleo was, someone pointed it out to me when we were talking about the nursing/allergies/what-Megan-could-eat situation. And it was a paleo diet. Minus the tree nuts. And oh how I needed them. All those good fats! energy was low and I didn't feel healthy.

So I stopped nursing Owen in July and began the rice milk formula regimen. Which meant I could return to a normal diet! Hurray! Weelll, that didn't go so well. Since my body had been off of ALL THOSE FOODS!! FOR 9 MONTHS!! it did not take well to me reintroducing them all at once. It was like my body was screaming at me. I had stomach cramping and abdominal pain, muscle aches and join pain, digestive problems. So I knew I needed to go more slowly. I backed away and tried to go slower, and limit my dairy intake especially. And this was all while still being gluten free. I didn't add that back in because I knew it gave me issues.

Anyway, I felt so poorly I thought I had lymes disease. (There was also a suspicious red bite or bump, nm, we were suspicious) So, I went to the doctor and he gave me the antibiotics because you don't mess with lymes disease. You want to catch it early and nip it in the bud. BUT they didn't actually do a blood test because we were in this in between place of Luke transitioning into his new job and his former employer didn't offer Cobra. Meaning, no insurance for us till the new one kicked in. We bought an emergency policy online which was only for catastrophic things. But this didn't count. So we were guessing and using caution. I took the antibiotics not really knowing whether or not I had lymes. What harm can antibiotics really do I told myself (yeah right, and I know better, messing up my imbalanced gut flora probably even more) and I was scared I might have the disease.

Since that whole episode, I still haven't felt great. And I knew that doing the Whole30 would give me the kick in the pants I needed. I need to have a program to stick to for 30 days to end my bad habits. No more spoonful after spoonful of peanut butter as I'm making the kids lunches or popping handfuls of chocolate chips as I'm making dinner. And the diary. I just can't stay away. Cheese, ranch dressing and ice cream are my downfall. Oh and milk chocolate and hot chocolate, and snickers.

I tell myself, "just a little bit won't hurt." But I read something in the Whole30 program guidelines that was regarding the importance of no cheating for 30 days. And how the smallest amount of something (that is a bad trigger for your body) can have a negative effect. How many small amounts that I dabble in are creating a cumulative negative effect in my body?? And are the reason I feel so poorly!

For the record, I also am trying to get allergy tested with in the next month or so. My boys have so many food allergies, I suspect I am sensitive/allergic to a handful of things, and I feel like whether or not it's good logic, "if they are, I probably am"....bottomline, I do need to get tested.

With only being 5 days into it, here are my random rambling thoughts:

- I am thankful I don't mind eggs and that there are so many ways to cook them!

-Getting creative with meat and vegetables is a good thing! And Costco and I are quickly becoming new best friends.

-I am tired at night, but I am NOT tired in the afternoon! It's amazing.

-I have occasional headaches, but I know I'm detoxing from sugar as well as everything else.

-Coconut products are my new love. I used to hate coconut.

-I need to be careful about my tree nut consumption because of the boys. I snacked on some cashews the other morning and then roughly a half hour later, I was helping Casey out of the car and kissed him on the cheek. He immediately broke out in hives on the spot I kissed. Oh and we had just walked into daily mass. Thank the Lord I had the meds in my diaper bag. I carry them with me everywhere. Cashew dust on my lips....unbelievable....these allergies are intense!!

-The actual diet is not that hard. I'm eating food I like and I'm eating enough and feeling full. But I am still craving Doritos and chocolate. (The problem with the doritos is that Luke brought home three bags that were left over from the Super Bowl party he made an appearance at late in the 4th quarter. He and Hailey keep munching on them in front of me and I just want some!)

-I drank my coffee this morning basically black, with just a small splash of organic coconut milk, and I LIKED it! I'm still trying to convince myself that this actually happened. I'm the girl who basically likes a splash of coffee with her cream and sugar.

-My tastebuds are seriously getting heightened. Apples taste so insanely sweet.

All in all, I know this is going to be good. Really good. It's hard to not reach for the same stuff I used to in terms of quick sugar fixes (kids whine, I eat some chocolate). I can already tell how this is going to make me dig deep and deal with my emotions, and reactions in a more adult and healthy way. Food is good, it's a gift from God but turning to it for comfort or reward can be so dangerous.

Here's to plugging away at this, my mantra: say no to doritos! :)