Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fitness Boot Camp

That's right. I've taken the plunge and frankly I'm pretty nervous about it. This afternoon I will be introduced to a host of events that make me uncomfortable including having my picture taken in shorts and a sports bra (my pre-boot-camp pictures), be weighed and measured by a professional, and learn how to use the equipment at the gym.

And then Saturday is our EVALUATION. Yes! It's as scary as it sounds. We'll do push-ups, sit-ups, strength and stretching and then the finale - A MILE RUN. I haven't ran a mile since I was a jr. in high school and that's over 10 years ago. My body is not made to run. I have poor knees, big bones, and a heavy gait. I'm not looking forward to it. Honestly my goal is to not be last. I talked to a friend and she encouraged me with, "You're supposed to stink at it the first time. That leaves more room for improvement for the final evaluation." I guess she's right, but I'm still pretty terrified.

And then the whole changing your eating habits thing. I like to cook and I don't like to be limited. I feel that I am limited by quite a bit with the hypothyroid, allergies to processed meat & foods, and not having a gall bladder. The last two things are foods I should be avoiding anyway, but still. It's hard knowing I will have to cut out even more. I'm trying to stay positive because at least there's a wide variety of fruits and veggies during the summer months. It will probably be harder in the winter.

There's also the commitment to changing my sleeping habits. I have a tendency to stay up way to late and be tired all day letting my husband get the kids breakfast. This will help since I have class at 5a or 6a. There are other times but I need to get home before my husband has to be at work and I don't want to do evenings. That means I'll have to be to bed on time. And the classes start next Monday when my in-laws are visiting for the week. I want to be able to stay up and play games but realize that I have to go to bed when my body tells me to instead of fighting it and getting sick or become so pooped out that I can't even function. I think this will help with the depression as well. I'll be tired when it's time for bed and I'll be forcing (hopefully it will become habit) myself to get up on time to work out.

I am ready to do something for myself. It's been a long time since I've really done something for me. My husband and I decided to wait to try to get pregnant until after our former due date in October and get healthy for myself. I'm kind of excited about that. Plus I need to process through some more emotions and I think kick-boxing will help. ;) I don't know that I'm ready to hope for another baby. The next pregnancy will be really hard for me not to be worrisome the entire time so I'm going to give myself a little more time before the pregnant-momma-brain-body-and-soul takes over.

Of course I'll be blogging my adventures through my Fitness Boot Camp so be prepared for some sweaty, teary, and hopefully inspiring stories. ;)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: We Thought You'd Be Prettier

We Thought You'd Be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive
by: Laurie Notaro

First of all, this is a funny book. Second, it is not in any way a Christian book. Laurie Notaro writes about her personal experiences from waiting in line at a discount store, living in a cat-infested neighborhood, to stories of her hilarious mother. It was a fun read and easy too. Each "chapter" is a story on it's own so if you're reading before bed or have children running around your house while you're reading it's pretty handy.

My favorite quote is taken from a chapter where Ms. Notaro is waiting in an airport for her plane to board when it becomes infested with Japanese teenage basketball players:
Oh, [no], I moaned to myself, this is a nightmare! This is a complete nightmare! None of their coaches was doing anything to rein these basketball maniacs in because they had apparently been worn-down to human nubs by these teenage monsters. I saw their chaperons, and what remained of them were just shells, ravaged to the bone. Some of them were actually sleeping during all of this from exhaustion. Either that or they had probably just died.
My husband and I (and a host of other adults on youth trips) have experienced the exhaustion that results from a trip with teenagers. It just made me chuckle and think about our youth group's trip to Mexico - one that I had participated in a lot of the planning and organizing - and I was definitely a shell, ravaged to the bone by the return flight home. Funny stuff.

Again, this is not a Christian book. Ms. Notaro is very funny but also has a potty-mouth so be aware of that if you decide to purchase or check this book out from the library.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review: Embrace Me

Embrace Me
by Lisa Samson

I was wandering through the library looking for some good Christian fiction - our library has these great little stickers on the binding that indicate it's a Christian fiction book with a glance. I saw the book Bella, which I saw as a movie, by Lisa Samson. Embrace Me looked interesting so I grabbed it, checked it out, and went home.

It read so fast. I really enjoyed the stories and how everything intertwined. It was kind of tricky at the beginning as Ms. Samson bounced back and forth between two stories - one in 2004 and one in 2008. But the story was so interesting with the circus people, the pastor who didn't feel like he really knew the Lord, and the way forgiveness is a theme throughout the book.

The book starts out with a pastor who has built a mega-church and has ran away from it. He wasn't really in love with Jesus, he was in love with power, prestige, and money. He retraces the events of the last years as he meets and writes to a priest for "confession". Then there's the "circus-freaks" that are on winter break. As the story develops you find out how the Lizard Woman knew Christ before her injury and now she is running from Him too.

It's a really different story but was so fun to read. I appreciated how it wasn't so in-you-face-Christian-fiction. Ms. Samson really develops the characters well and makes you interested in the twists and turns the story takes. I really enjoyed it and I look forward to reading more from Lisa Samson.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Still Thinking of You

I've been so blessed by Molly Piper's blog and her series, How to Help Your Grieving Friend. I've been feeling and thinking a lot of things regarding the loss of our unborn baby at 15 weeks. But I was unable to verbalize those thoughts and feelings. Molly does a great job of expressing herself and therefore pulls the words out of my heart and mind.

Always On My Mind is a great post from Molly's series. I think it's important to go back - weeks, months, years later - and tell people that you still think about them after they've had a loss. I think it's a blessing to know that their loved one has not been forgotten. That their loss hasn't been forgotten and that the sad feelings that travel with them through life are, at times, carried by others.

A friend asks Molly and her husband:“If I’m thinking about her three months later while I’m painting my bathroom, how much more is she still on your minds?”
"So be mindful as the days and months march on for your grieving friend that their loss is in no way over for them."

And if you do think about their loss, let them know. It could be just want they needed to hear.

(If you want to read more of my thoughts on Molly's series, click here.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hallmark Answers

If you've been following along, I've been posting my thoughts about Molly Piper's How to Help a Grieving Friend series. It's a great series and I encourage you to read all the posts if you want to know how to help out your grieving friend. Anyway, her post on Avoiding the Flippant Comfort of Hallmark Answers is a great post on what not to say. ;)

I have to admit that "Hallmark answers" are some of the hardest things to hear when you're grieving and thankfully there weren't many who offered these comments during the early part of our loss. Thanks to God and my wonderful husband for helping guard my mouth when I did receive those "Hallmark answers." I was able to hold my tongue and not comment back with something rude, sarcastic and mean.

I think this is one of the most helpful posts of Molly's series and I really encourage you to read the entire thing. I think as Christians, we have a tendency to focus on making everything "all better" so the hurting don't have to hurt. Sometimes we just need to jump in the puddle and splash around a bit to let people know that we're really there for them. Here are a few quotes from the post (and again, you should read the whole thing):

"I remember being frustrated that all the sympathy cards were just…so…pretty."
"Hallmark seems to offer comfort and explanation too quickly or lightly. Unfortunately, real people do this too sometimes. I think this tendency, even when offering “spiritual” comfort and explanation, comes from an inability to accept or understand grief.

"I know that I was this kind of well-meaning comforter before we lost Felicity [their stillborn daughter]. People in too much pain made me nervous. I wondered if they might be losing their faith, so I felt the need to say something quick to patch up their brokenness. I was unable to easily reconcile my view of God with the pain I encountered.

"The result of this kind of nervousness and discomfort is often Hallmark answers—flippant comfort. It’s as if when we say something like, “God is good. God is good,” we’ve fixed the problem for ourselves. But where does that leave the brokenhearted?"


"The problem isn’t that Hallmark answers are false. They’re just inadequate because they don’t get deep enough to touch the pain. If you haven’t entered the person’s pain, even declarations of God’s goodness or sovereignty can feel like Hallmark answers.

"Speaking into someone’s pain requires empathy. Choked words through tears are empathetic. Offering supplications and prayers with loud cries and tears, like Jesus, is empathetic. Speaking a verse with a posture of 'I don’t understand how this all fits with your pain, but…' is empathetic."


"The point is not that you have to have suffered more than someone to comfort them; you just need to empathize... ...I discovered that once you have entered someone’s pain, then you are in the place to offer comfort, and it won’t be from Hallmark."

I was blessed by the words of some wonderful people in the early days of our loss. And again I am being blessed by my dear friends who are willing to puddle with me and then pull me out and ask me some seriously convicting questions. And I am blessed.

Check out the entire post by Molly, Avoid the Flippant Comfort of Hallmark Answers.

If you want to read more of my thoughts on Molly's series, click here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer "Baking"

I've been wanting to bake but I do NOT want to turn my oven on with the steamy temps outside. So I checked out my blog archives and these Salted Nut Roll Bars were a great alternative. Enjoy!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Orange OR Strawberry Fluff

When we moved away from home we lost something...the love of salads. And I'm not talking about a green salad with dressing. No, I'm talking about pudding-and-Jell-O-based salads. It's always fun to go back home and taste the goodness of the "Dutch salad". So this afternoon, I decided to share one of my favorites from when I was a little girl...and it still tastes good!

Orange Fluff

1 small pkg orange Jell-O
1 large pkg cook vanilla pudding
1 pkg cook vanilla tapioca pudding (Americana)
3 cups water
8 oz Cool Whip
1 can mandarin oranges

Boil the first four ingredients until thick; let cool. Fold in Cool-Whip and oranges.

** Can make this Strawberry Fluff by substituting strawberry Jell-O for the orange, and fresh/frozen strawberries for the mandarin oranges. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir
by: Elizabeth McCracken

This is a book that was recommended from Molly Piper's blog. I honestly didn't know that people wrote about the loss of their babies, in this case a stillborn. And I appreciated Ms. McCracken's honesty. It was a little difficult at times because she isn't a believer and there's evidence of that sprinkled throughout the pages. But overall, I could relate to some of the things she said in the book and really appreciated her viewpoint on her loss and moving forward through a new pregnancy. It's such an appropriate title as she writes about the days before, during and after delivering her stillborn little boy, Pudding, and moving through another pregnancy that she hopes doesn't end like the first.

I wanted to list some quotes from her book that really made me think:

"Even now I have a hard time with the babies born to friends around Pudding's birth. It's not logical, and yet there it is: this one is one month older, this one three weeks younger."
I feel that way a lot. It's not that I'm angry with them or I'm jealous, it's just a constant reminder of how your child would be about the same age and into the same things...from diapers, to crawling, to reading, to driving a car...

"'Oh,' I always said, 'if human reprodcution has to carry on, I want it to work out for people I like.'"
That just made me chuckle, 'cause it's true. I do want to be happy for people and I definitely want things to work out for the people of love (and I'm not dissing any of you that I don't know). I know that I can't let my grief overshadow their joy. I think I'll be using this phrase if someone apologizes for being pregnant around me. ;)


Here are some of her thoughts regarding condolences:
"Before Pudding died, I'd thought condolence notes were simply small bits of old-fashioned etiquette, important but universally acknowledged as inadequate gestures. Now they felt like oxygen, and only now do I fully understand why: to know that other people were sad made Pudding feel more real."
"As I was going mad from grief, the worst of it was that sometimes I believed I was making it all up. Here was some proof that I wasn't."

"...grief lasts longer than sympathy, which is one of the tragedies of the grieving..."
I recently had a friend send me a package. She's due the same week that I was. And I was so blessed by her. To know that she still thinks of me and that she remembers that I lost something so precious to me is a very comforting feeling. And it really does make me feel like it's real...that I didn't just dream the whole thing.

"After most deaths, I imagine, the awfulness lies in how everything's changed: you no longer recognize the form of your days. There's a hole. It's person-shaped and it follows you everywhere, to bed, to the dinner table, in the car."
"No, I insist: other people's children did not make me sad. But pregnant women did."
Oh, man is that true. People that have recently had babies are hard to be around, but mostly it's the pregnant women. Now, those of you out there reading this who are pregnant, please don't avoid me because that makes it worse. I want to avoid you. ;)


As she moved through her second pregnancy she writes about her fears and some comic relief appears as she writes about all the classes they took while pregnant with their second child:
"It seemed as though something terrible would happen if people knew. "

"And that of course is why we were taking all those courses: We wanted to be told, Worry in this order."
"He died inside of me: Of course this was my fault. It happened on my watch."

"...and this made me weep harder, because I knew, I
knew, that this was all my fault. My essential reaction was grief, but somehow the words that floated to the surface of my brain were: people are going to be mad at me."
The guilt. I have the same thoughts go through my brain. That I did this. That I killed/let my baby die. That I'd let people down. That I'd taken something away from them. That I was a disappointment. That I was going to ruin Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even the birth of another niece or nephew in October.

"Who on earth would make a woman spend one more moment on this earth than is necessary with a dead baby in her body?"

"Here's my question: was I pregnant then?
"I was in the shape of a pregnant woman. I'm sure I walked like one, though my arms floated away from the fact of my stomach (no rubbing, no resting, no thoughtless fond tapping). Really, what was I? Was I pregnant?"
I'm thankful that I was able to have the D&C the day after we found out the baby was dead. It's a horrible feeling to know you've been walking around with a dead child in your body. It does feel murderous, like you've been keeping it a secret. And I had the same questions as I walked into the hospital, into the ambulatory surgery waiting room. What are people thinking? Are they looking at my belly? Do they know what I'm going back there for? Do they realize that there's a dead baby inside me and that I'm going to have it removed? Do they notice that I'm in maternity clothes and that there is that absence of the fond belly rubbing and resting of the hands? Do they think that I wanted this? Do they notice that I'm sad? Am I making them uncomfortable? I'm just glad we were able to use the "side exit" after the procedure. I couldn't bear walking out the front doors of the hospital with an empty belly and no baby in my arms.


All in all, it's a pretty sad book and I wouldn't recommend reading it for fun. But if you've gone through a loss like this (or know someone who has) - a stillbirth or even a miscarriage, or a intrauterine fetal death in the earlier weeks - it's a good book to cry through and process some of the emotions that come from a loss like that. It's also good to know that you're not alone and that you will have those feelings and it's ok. Like I said, it was lacking the "Christian hope" that so many Christian authors offer in their time of loss. But I appreciated the rawness, the honest feelings and realizing that even though I know God loves me and has a plan for me and my family, those feelings are real and they will happen.

Ms. McCracken is a great writer and had some great word pictures. The first one is just so...right on, and the second is pretty funny:
"...and I find I can't remember, the information's gone like a pulled tooth, though my brain will keep poking the empty spot"

"One woman had brought a toddler boy [to the ob-gyn office], who held in his lap a plastic toy that played 'The Wheels on the Bus' in a doorbell-to-hell electronic chime."

You can check out Molly Piper's blog for more "recommended reading."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Molly Piper does a great job at writing about how you can help your friend who is grieving. This next topic is right where I'm at - She May Explode (But Probably Not). Molly has done a great favor for me in putting into words exactly how I'm feeling.
I remember being with family and friends on Felicity’s 2-month birthday. I was feeling like I wanted to talk about her all day, but no one asked. In those moments, the grieving person is really trapped.

If I bring this up, and steer the conversation away from politics or the weather, am I going to be seen as trying to dominate, or make the conversation all about me, or seen as trying to bring everyone in the group down?

If I bring this up, am I going to make someone else uncomfortable?

If I bring this up, the conversation changes drastically. Is that okay with everyone? Is that socially acceptable in this group right now?

Man, does this ring true!! I feel like a drama queen if I actually feel like talking about it. I feel like I'm being over dramatic. I feel like I'm being Debbie Downer. I feel like I can't honestly share my feelings. I feel alone.

Alone in the church foyer at 10:35a on Sunday seems like an oxymoron. But last Sunday that's how I felt. I didn't feel comfortable going into the circle of my friends, of whom most are new and expectant moms (and I didn't get an invitation to do so - and that day I needed one - as needy as it sounds). I didn't feel comfortable waiting in line to pick up my children from Sunday School. I didn't feel like I belonged anywhere. I had no where to go in a room full of people.
The grieving woman lives in a constant paradox—I am no longer the woman I used to be, and therefore, I am not “normal,” but also, I’m just another woman/wife/mother trying to live my life like everyone else.
And I understand why it may feel like a "minefield." You don't want to approach a grieving mom because you might make her cry, you might make her feel bad, she might swipe your newborn baby, she might yell at you. Molly offers some great conversational tips and even suggests writing a card:
It can be 2 lines long! It can say something like, “I thought of you and your baby today. You are a good mom to your children.” Don’t worry about it having to be deep or ultra-spiritual. Chances are your friend will feel blessed knowing she’s not alone in remembering her baby (who she thinks of all the time).
Please read Molly's post if you need encouragement to talk to your grieving friend and how to prepare yourself for anything...even an explosion. It's just nice to know that you're not alone at a time like this.

(If you want to read more of my thoughts on Molly's series, click here.)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Book Readin'

It's not often that I have time to read least not books that contain vocabulary unlike Dr. Seuss. I've been trying to make it a point of reading more books and so far, I'm doing a pretty good job.

It's helpful when you look up a book on Amazon that they give you other books you might enjoy. So, when I head to the library website I have a list of books that I'd like to check out right away. The trick is to not get ahead of yourself and reserve too many books that you get fined for 5 books that are waiting to be read. Therefore I try to pace myself. Currently, I am bookless and I find the evenings boring without a book to read. I was just on the library website reserving another book.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd write about two of the books that I've read in the last few weeks.

Menonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home
by: Rhoda Janzen

This book just sounded interesting. It's a non-Christian memoir and she explains why she chose not to live the Menonite lifestyle unlike some of her siblings. It's a tale of a woman who goes home and how she got there and how she's adapting to her new life. It has some funny moments and I did finish the book, however, I didn't read the end where she explains some of the Menonite culture. It wasn't that interesting. ;) And I can't say that I'd even recommend it.

Maid to Match
by: Deanne Gist

This book takes place in the South and in the time period of the Vanderbilts, maids, butlers, and a whole host of other servants. It's a really nice love story but it also deals with living up to your parents' expectations and fulfilling their dreams for your life instead of realizing your gifts and your passions. Ms. Gist writes in a way that makes you see the book as a movie. I was able visualize the inside of the Vanderbilt's home, the orphanage, the servant's quarters. She does a good job of making the love story non-cheesy. I get annoyed sometimes with Christian books where everything works out and there's just too much happiness. But this book does a great job of balancing that out. That there is hurt to go along with the joy and it's all in how it motivates you to become a better person in Christ. It's a great book and I would definitely recommend it.

Tomorrow I'll be posting about a book recommended by Molly Piper.

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's My Party...

...and I can cry if I want to. Today I turn 30.years.old. And that is not as exciting as turning 10! ;) I just can't imagine my 40th or 50th birthday being dreaded as much as I dread today.

30. I don't really know why I'm dreading it as much as I am, but here are some honest things I've been thinking:
  • an adventurous life is out of the question
  • i have more responsibilities than freedoms
  • i am old
  • i have some wrinkles and even age spots
  • my life won't be as exciting as it has been the last 30 years
  • i'm not even pregnant
  • i haven't done anything brag-worthy in the last year (some friends of mine have set goals to accomplish before they turn 30 - do a pull-up, run a marathon, etc)
  • my husband is out of town...for another birthday
  • i am still grieving
  • i'm buying my own birthday cake
  • i'm not young anymore

So, it's not a day that I've been looking forward to. I think I blew off the whole 30-year-goal thing because I was pregnant. I can't possibly run a mile, do a pull-up or skydive when I'm pregnant. But that excuse is gone, and I'm mourning that too.

Since the birthday isn't so exciting, I thought my 30th year could be. So I'm starting a list of things I've never done. Not a "bucket-list" but more like something to prove that I'm not boring, that my life isn't over, that I'm still an exciting person, that I God can still do great things in my life - through me and for me. Here we go...
  1. Go to a comedy club
  2. Do a mud-run
  3. Take a boot-camp class
  4. Get a tattoo??
  5. Take a weekend "class" from my church
  6. Try accupuncture
  7. Speak up for myself more
  8. Learn how to bake really good bread from scratch (no bread machine)
  9. Use my gift of hospitality regularly (invite people over at least once a month - possibly once a week - for dinner, playdates, coffee, etc)
  10. And More!
I'm having a hard time thinking of exciting things to add to my list - things that aren't so expensive and that will be likely to be accomplished, although challenging. So please help me by offering any suggestions. I'm glad to be trying some new things in this next year...and I'm possibly excited. ;)