Excuses No More

I have been waiting until life was “less messy” to blog again. But who am I kidding? That will more than likely be when my youngest is about 12, and there are more out of the nest than in. By then, I might have some sage wisdom to pass on for sure, yet I will have missed capturing the trenches. I am not a big blog reader- mostly I don’t have the time!- but one of the few I do make time for is a dear lady wrote on her blog about not waiting until her life was less messy to share it. And that is where I am at. My life is messy, full, brimming with possibilities, stacks of laundry and and even more laundry. (Tempted to buy a dumpster for our stuff and donate all but five outfits each!)

Each spring like most everyone, feel the urge to throw open the windows and clean! I have wanted to make it a priority to do that during the Lenten season, but have never been able to get it accomplished. This year it has bumped up to top of the line because we are hoping to get our house on the market and step one leap closer to a farm. As I prepared my approach, I decided that there are a few things that need to happen prior to March 5th.

  • Game plan or plan of attack
  • I need to get rid of more things
  • Less distractions in life

Although my main priority in the Lenten season is examining my heart, I feel that for so long I have allowed my loosey goosey lifestyle to dictate my time, which is distracting from the long term heart goals I feel God has given me. A big one of these is adoption. So I want to spend the Lenten season preparing our home and our hearts for both the King but who the King may bring into our family.

In order to get spring cleaning done in those forty days, I need to GET RID OF MORE THINGS….I have already donated around two trailers full of things in the last 12 months….but I am at it again. We are going to simplify, learn to be grateful, get back to the basics. So….for the next four weeks that is what we are doing (oh except for when we go to the beach….now those days I am going to relish in the fact that I am not having to clean our house!)

I have put off so much of this because of the hard work it will take to get there. But honestly, it is keeping us from what we feel like God has called us to be as a family. It is keeping us from loving our next family member. So, we are pressing forward!

And my parents are coming to help me next week!

Cheer me on! There will be pictures if I can stand the embarrassment. Ready, set, go…..

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No more stairs…

Over the last few months, we have dreamed of the day when there are no more stairs. We “live” upstairs ….up nineteen steep, hard wood stairs….so anytime we need anything downstairs you undo the baby gate, troop all five/six of us downstairs (usually lugging one or two on a hip) and repeat the process again. Then there is the baby gates…making sure they are in place at the tops and bottoms of both sets of stairs. And since this house has a “cat walk balcony” we have a huge cedar chest in the middle of it with bungie corded baby gates to insure no one escapes that way either. 

So, we are counting the days until there are no more stairs. Until we can go grab a drink from the kitchen, throw in a load of laundry, check the mail, run back the bedroom where we left an important paper, etc without an impromptu weight lifting feat because you are lugging a 25lb (at mimimum) baby with you up and then back down the stairs all while making sure that the gates are in place…(no thief would ever attempt robbing the upstairs portion of our house because the maze of stairs is too intense.)

Our house in Benton only has on stair…one single solitary stair…JOY! I can go anywhere in the house and “baby” can toddle right after me. I can start a load of laundry without carrying baby down the stairs, locking the gate, running back up the stairs, grabbing load and going back downstairs all while baby is crying for me! (I am sure there are loads of people that live in two level houses and make it work…but I chose to live in single level house for a reason!)

So I only have five more days (really four, since we will be on the road on the fifth!) until I have no more stairs and for that I am grateful! Although I will miss what is at the bottom of those stairs most mornings (my kids running into the office to say “BOO” at the top of their lungs to “scare” Nuther Mom!—->Can you scare people via skype??)

Been thinking

This week marks(ed) a lot of things for me and that has gotten me thinking. And as I found myself thinking, I found myself wanting to write it down, capture it if you will.

This week: 

1) My 28th year anniversary of trusting Christ

2) Five years ago we moved with my parents to this house to take care of my Big Daddy

3) Five years ago I said goodbye to my dog, Princess

4) This week we embark on a new chapter in the Ewing family’s life

5) We finished first grade, which seems a huge deal

So, a lot of moments of contemplation. Mostly I have been thinking about our move and in thinking about that and packing each box, I am reliving the past six years. It is funny what sticks out in your brain. Six years ago, I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of our newest member (although I was in the throes of morning sickness and had migraines back to back to back). We were enjoying life in Arkansas and had no plans on leaving. Then within four short months, it seems our course was changed and we were faced with some tough decisions.

I remember calling my parents and asking “Would it be okay with you if we stay there for about six weeks?” At this point we had one child, and I was six months pregnant with Bubby. I was graciously given my job at St. Jude back and we just thought we needed a place to stay until we could sell our house and possibly purchase a condo. Tal was thinking of going back to school. I wonder if my parents had know six years later we would still be here, if they would have said yes? Oh what a ride it has been!

We only stayed with them at that house for about eight months, and then we all moved to this house five years ago this weekend. Mark graduated from dental school and then we all started packing up trucks. We were moving with a special purpose in mind, to care for my grandfather, Big Daddy, so he could come “home” from the nursing home. 

Since we have moved here, we have watched Emma and Elliot grow up. They were just two and five months when we moved here. We sat by my Big Daddy’s side while he was sick, sad, happy, broken, and finally dying. Emma slept on his floor at the end of his bed, while the rest of us held his hands and sang and prayed for him as he was ushered to glory on All Saints Day. Then over the next few years we had two more babies, our sweet precious girls, who are more than a handful but a delight to know. So in just those two years we had a death and two births. 

We have also seen two of my brothers get married, been delighted to finally be an Aunt and an Uncle to three nieces and one nephew (cannot wait for our next niece to be born!), we have mourned the loss of three grandparents, we have been to the beach six times, tried new foods, gotten healthier, cried, laughed, been angry, danced, started homeschooling, Tal got his masters, Tal started teaching, I quit working as a nurse, switched bedrooms about six times, tried a million different toy organization plans (the only one that truly works is giving them away!), seen our bike/outdoor toy collection quadruple, amass enough children’s clothes to outfit most small countries, and most of all grown in more ways than you can imagine. (just think of my parents, they got to do all this with us too….probably not what they signed up for in their later years but they have been good sports)

It is crazy to think back on who we were those six years ago and how much we have changed. We are excited and nervous for the next step as we go back to Arkansas to sell our house. Praying that can sell it soon and then buy the farm we have dreamt about. It will be interesting to see what our new adventures hold. 

A big thank you to my parents for putting up with us for all these years. I know it hasn’t always been easy, but I will forever be grateful for these times. The kids cannot imagine life without Nuther Momma and Two Dad. You have both been so good to them and we cannot thank you enough. I am sure Skype, cell phones and the road between our homes will be well used. 

So now, I better get some sleep because there are boxes to pack tomorrow. Friends to say goodbye to, memories to tuck inside our hearts. Six days and counting….

Sugar…..

Sorry for the delay (not that you are waiting with baited breath, but if you are you were BREATHE), I had a baby with a tooth problem…(had a lot of crazy teeth issues this week….our oldest lost her first tooth and our youngest is a raging teether—> thank the Lord for our new-to-us Ergo!!!). So I am FINALLY back to migraines or how to get rid of them.

So my first step was definitely the magnesium. And on a slight side note, did you know that magnesium helps to regulate bowel movements. With my first two pregnancies, I thought the only thing you could do was take Colace for constipation. Wow, not a girl’s best friend. So I resorted to just the fact that every few days I would have a hard time. No fun..but I only have this problem during pregnancy, so I figured it was something I had to deal with. Plus, my OB told me in no uncertain terms it was just one of the “symptoms” of pregnancy. (another soapbox…sypmtoms of pregnancy to me means it is a disease instead of a normal part of life….like I said….another soapbox) It never occurred to me that it was NOT normal and could be a sign of a deficiency—–> MAGNESIUM. In pregnancy and nursing, the body needs extra magnesium, so if you are experiencing a difficulty time with your bowels, grab some magnesium. (Duh, they give milk of magnesium, make you chug magnesium, etc….but when I asked my doctor is he thought I might have a magnesium deficiency, he actually said, “oh no, there is no connection between constipation and magnesium”….YET it cures it???) okay, back on track….

So Magnesium really helped, tremendously. I literally have gone from the 40 at the worst climax down to I have had ONE in a year. And I do believe that the magnesium deficiency was a large part of it. But in my studying, I have found some other really interesting things that I want to share. The reason is that everyone is different and magnesium may not be your cure-all. Also, I believe that the cure is often multicomplex, and so I want you to have all the information possible.

So chocolate, sweet tarts, peanut butter cups, copious amounts of soda and sweet tea, pies, cakes, cookies (by the half box of oreos), and candy by the pound (LITERALLY)….yea, that was my consumption. And one of my secrets. I had stashes everywhere. I -, snuck, and ate until I had ulcers. I am not sure exactly why, but I did. Not only the sugar that was in them but the dyes, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and the MSG, I am sure all contributed to my addiction. I was especially susceptible right after having a baby. And of course, then would come the migraines. My sweet husband would often oblige by stopping by Kroger to pick me up some more supplies….grocery list: 5 pounds of peanut butter M & M’s that would last me about a week, maybe.

It wasn’t until a friend bugged me, and she was nice about it but she BUGGED me about reading this book: Nourishing Traditions. And I did a little reluctantly. So two and a half years ago, I started flipping through it. And I could not put it down. A ton of changes then began occurring. and little by little, my addiction to sugar began to dwindle. NOW, that being said, “I STILL have a sweet tooth….” but I am trying to decrease it continually. And I use options that are healthier and not full of processed sugars or toxins. I also no longer consume the amounts that I was intaking.

So why is sugar so bad for a migraine sufferer…….

1. Sugar actually blocks the absorption of magnesium and calcium. It binds with these minerals and therefore the body is not able to absorb and use these minerals. (It probably does it with a lot more nutrients, but that is what I am focusing on right now.) So, my intake of sugar, combined with pregnancy and nursing a baby, was definitely helping to “hurt” my cause in the journey to healing. As I decreased my sugar intake, I believe, combining that with extra Magnesium, I decreased my migraines.

2. Increased sugar equals increased insulin production and release…..which you can stimulate so much that it becomes the dominant hormone. (and eventually you can wear out the process and cause yourself to become Type II diabetic. I fully believe I was on this path/am on this path…) Once insulin becomes the dominant hormone, your other hormones are decreased in production…ie…thyroid horomes, reproductive hormones, adrenals, etc….So you can actually induce hypothyroidism by your diet, reproductive problems, adrenal fatigue, etc. A balanced diet that includes a diet built on healthy fats and protein, limiting the amount of foods that stimulate insulin (and eating a spaced times throughout the day) can vastly improve your hormone levels. (Now, I also want to note here: often the damage we have done to our hormonal systems is not as easy as just limiting sugar intake. It typically includes a lot of other factors, but this shows exactly how influential diet can be in our overall health. I still firmly believe that the concept that disease is always either due to or influences by deficiencies or toxic effects of nutrients.)

So sugar….oh so sweet, but probably not the best thing for a migraine sufferer…A few of the migraine sufferers that I have spoken to, often talk about intense sugar cravings prior to migraines. Or having binges of either lots of sugar or lots of salty baked goods. The last year, due to adrenal fatigue and thyroid problems, I have begun decreasing or eliminating gluten and sugar from my diet. Prior to that I had given into intense cravings with each pregnancies….and when I mean giving into and intense, I am talking about crazy amounts of what I was eating….with after Emma I ate a lot of dried pasta and candy, Elliot was pounds of peanut butter M & M’s and Maggie I drank a 20 oz Sprite and ate a sleeve or two of Saltines a night. With all these post-partum periods, I suffered intense migraines and frequently, often between 4-8 a month. With my last post-partum period, I ate fruit, corn chips (not the best for me I am sure) and salsa, and a few other limited snacks, and I have had 1 migraine. So, I am thinking I am on a better path!

Okay….so that is sugar….next topic will probably be either Riboflavin/CoQ10- helping Magnesium out or Eliminating some Other toxins….

And here is a some great info on Magnesium: http://www.diabetesexplained.com/magnesium-and-diabetes.html

 

First Step on my Journey to Healing

Now that you know how sick I was, let me tell you about the first chapter of my journey to healing. I alluded to this in my first post, that I had begun to take Magnesium. I began taking it and had almost immediately relief, but eventually tapered off taking it. It wasn’t until I began having more frequent migraines, found out from my doctor’s perspective the only thing that I could do was take a preventative that could not be used while nursing a baby, and my migraine “cocktail” was no longer helpful that I began thoroughly researching migraines. First, I watched a documentary in my research that as its premise stated that all disease is essentially a nutrient deficiency. While I may not 100% concur with this, I do believe that largely it is correct.

So, knowing that magnesium was supposedly helpful with migraines, I began my step on this journey to find out WHY magnesium worked. Unfortunately, little is actually known about underlying causes of migraines. Honestly, most doctors will tell you that they are unable to find a cause of migraines. Some could be hormonal problems, others could be stress, food allergies, propensity to aneurysm, etc etc. And in theory, they could be right. But they also typically do not want to help you find the cause and eliminate it (and my doctor admitted the reason is because it is not usually something they can succeed at and is time consuming. It is much easier to order a drug.).

So that being known, it is interesting to me that when I spoke to both my doctor and another doctor at the practice that I visit, neither one had heard of magnesium being a part of the cause and cure of migraines. Many of the natural doctors I have spoken to believe that indeed migraines, in general, are largely a magnesium deficiency.

So, if that be true, can I just go to the drug store and pick up a bottle of magnesium and be cured? Well, possibly. But for most people, the drugstore magnesium will not be powerful enough to help with your need to increased magnesium intake. The reason is that there are several types of magnesium available, and not all provide readily available forms of magnesium to your body. So the drugstore typically sells Magnesium Oxide or Chloride.  But these are not bioavailable and provide limited benefit. You need a form that ends in -ate, like citrate. These are much more bioavailable.

Secondly, the typical dose given for magnesium intake is around 350-400mg per day, which is barely enough to keep levels up when not deficient. And if you are experiencing any type of drain on your levels such as stress, insomnia, poor diet, pregnancy, nursing, etc these levels will most likely not be adequate. I have been taking around 650mg per day for the last year. When  I had my levels taken, they were still low normal. My doctor, while not understanding my reasoning behind it, encouraged me to continue to take that level. She said if I had too much, the first signs I would notice would be overly loose stools and I could just back down on my intake.

Calcium is Magnesium’s partner in your body. It helps regulate magnesium in the body. Therefore you should always intake both. BUT it is very very important for migraine sufferers to take them at separate times during the day. Do NOT take a combination Magnesium/Calcium because the calcium may decrease the effectiveness of the magnesium for migraine sufferers. I take my calcium in the morning and my entire dose of magnesium right before bed. The magnesium helps relax me and increase my likelihood of a great night’s sleep, which in turn decreases my risk of a migraine! (insomnia is a risk factor for migraines.)

So that is the info on magnesium so far that I have, although I am constantly gathering more…My next two rabbit holes that I will share with you are: Supplements that help magnesium prevent migraines – Riboflavin and CoQ10  & Sugar & Flour- why I believe they were the real reasons behind my migraines

Migraines…..

Almost seven years ago, I began a journey that I definitely did not want to embark on, but out of necessity am on for now. The journey to find relief for migraines. I had suffered from migraines as a teenager, right at puberty, but thought I had eliminated them when after a lot of research (prior to the internet, so I have no clue how we found out what we did!) deduced that aspartame and Sweet-n-Low might be the cause of my migraines, which were debilitating me. I was having as many as 4-8 a month at that point. After eliminating the artificial sweeteners, my migraines disappeared. It did take some getting used to, stirring incessantly to get the sugar to dissolve in my tea, but it was SO worth it not to suffer from those horrible, wretched things.

Seven years ago this last January, with a sweet three week old baby in my arms, the undeniable aura appeared and within minutes I could no longer see properly. My vision narrows and then I get the visual disturbances (typing this is even enough just to suggest one for me! yuck…) and then after about half an hour the visual disturbances make way for a mind numbing pain that throbs for hours, leaving me nauseous and weak. Since it had been ten years since my last migraine, I dismissed it as hormonal and hoped they would subside. But they did not and over the next few years they got worse.

About two and a half years later, I was having as many as 8 a month and unable to function as a mom without fear and anxiety that I would suffer yet another headache. It was then that my mother-in-law’s co-worker suggested that I try magnesium and see if that would help. It had helped her friend tremendously. So I picked up a bottle of magnesium and tried it out. Wow, within a few months, I had such relief and actually went eight full months without a single migraine. I do not remember exactly, but I believe that sometime in there I stopped taking magnesium for some reason. (probably one of those, the medicine cures you so you think you are cured and stopped taking it, only to realize you were not really cured, the meds were just stopping the symptoms.)

When I began having them again, I found cocktails of drugs that would help knock them out. But the side effects of the drugs were enough to knock me out too. And having them disrupt my life was getting to be something I no longer wanted to have happen. I could usually pinpoint about when I should have one but dreaded that time. It ruined our plans, created inconveniences, left my children to often fend for themselves as toddlers while I was drugged and incapacitated. I decided then and there I would NOT live like this forever. And that despite what the doctors had told me, that it was an idiopathic disease with no cure and as long as I was nursing a baby or pregnant there was nothing they could do to make it better. I was also told that once I was not pregnant or nursing, I could be on medication for the rest of my life that “might” prevent the migraines. But I refused to accept this, there had to be a reason I had these blinding headaches and I would find a cure.

I have searched and searched through the internet, read books (when I could not read them I would sit with my eyes closed and have my husband read to me. I am highly suggestible and sometimes could give myself migraines just reading about them.), talk to others, and went to doctors. I had my thyroid tested, went off gluten, decreased my sugar intake, took special pills, and would do or take just about anything if I could get rid of this disorder. Some things helps and others I think were laughable. But in the end I have gone from 20-40 migraines a year to one in a single 12 months calendar. That my friends is what I call success. While my journey is not over, I am so excited that I have come this far.

In my next post, I will share some specific things I have found that have helped me. Things I think are crucial to all headache sufferers, and specific to those with migraines as well. If you have any ideas, jump in and let me know. I am always willing to learn more.

 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me….

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13….a mainstay verse for all Christians, and definitely one for moms of all numbers…but more and more my cry.

I had not yet though really studied the verse in context.  Phil 4:11-12 “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. ”

Paul was talking about the secret of his contentment actual came from the strength he gained from Christ. Now my version of the verses regarding contentment might read something a little more like this….”I know how to be alone in a house with four children without a car all day by myself, and I also know how to go and do and have fun with my four loves and lots of friends, I know how to be calm and quiet, not have to be apart of whatever is going on or find myself achingly lonely, just as I am not a recluse and enjoy company when it is given me….all because my secret is —>I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

It is my relationship with Christ that meets my needs, my internal needs for signifcance, love, companionship, joy, praise, even sometimes adult conversation…thus, instead of it being a burden to be here, “stuck here” by myself, I find it a joy and a place of real contentment. I, honestly, am not all that anxious to get a new car at this point. There are times it would be convenient for sure and a lot easier on us. But for now, we are learning new lessons.

My newest surprise is that, while I have always been content to be more out of the “lime-light” so to speak, you notice how much you are missing when you cannot go out…whether because logistically with four kids it is impossible, lack of car, or because I am obliged to be with a newborn all the time due to her needs and cannot drag her out in the cold! So I have had a renewed chance to find my needs met and met deeply in Christ. As I sit with Him, worship Him, and read His Word, I find that those places that heart that are lacking or desiring other things to fill it (which being perfectly honest, no amount of “girl” time or adult interaction will ever really fill that hole…just leaves me wanting more.) are filled by Christ Himself and in a lasting way.

Thus, I really appreciate the adult interaction I do get each day, the small trips out (at this point just to the grocery store or to visit my ailing grandmother), and the time I get to spend with friends. Because I am not using that to fill a need in my life, I am just getting to appreciate it.

Now some may say, well, you are just more of a home-body personality…but really either way, I have gone through ebbs and flows and I have been that girl that could not sit still because it was driving me crazy to be trapped with little people all the time! And to those who think because we live in the same house with my parents…HA! I “may” see my mom for five minutes during the day and that is a big “may”. Usually we see each other in passing to see if the laundry is free to use or any prep works needs to be done for dinner (depending on who is cooking the meal). So I get to see them at dinner, just like most stay at home moms!

And that is not to say, I don’t look forward to the weekend and a car to be able to go and get things when I need them!