Zara’s Visit with Neurology

Zara’s appointments last week went well.  I warned the EEG tech that it likely wasn’t going to be pretty.  He sized her up and said with a smile, “We are not making history today.  I’ve been doing this for twenty-eight years and I’ve only had one person I couldn’t scan.  An adult-sized twelve year old who threw an absolute fit and it was the dad who gave up, not me.” :)  Zara cried, of course, but more in a resigned kind of wailing than angry screaming and flailing.  He let me hold her and sing to her which helped … maybe me more than her, who knows. And then we sat on the bed and tried very hard to keep her holding still for thirty minutes.  Have you ever done that with a thirteen month old? They move a lot.

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Her EEG was clear, thankfully.

But still we got no answers.  They can’t tell us she’s having seizures, but they also can’t tell us she isn’t.  Her neurologist felt like it was time to go ahead with the MRI and put the order in saying it often takes two weeks to get it rolling because of the general anesthesia required.

We walked out not knowing what to think.  It’s an odd feeling to have no definite answers.  Less than a week later radiology called to set up her appointment and took me off guard.  I thought we had another week to muddle, you know.

Her doctor is so incredibly patient with us and answered all my questions on the phone yet again.

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The short version is that Zara’s fisting has tipped the scales on the risk benefit ratio and it’s time to move forward.  She’s pulling her thumb inside her left fist more than she did even two months ago and while “there is probably no behavior that is absolutely never benign in certain cases, this type of fisting is typically associated with neurologic damage.” There are three possible causes.  Something similar to a stroke while she was in utero or at birth or shortly after. A small portion of her brain that didn’t develop completely.  In either of those cases, we wouldn’t necessarily need intervention, but we’d know causation and could take care of things as they arise.  The third possibility is a slow growing brain tumor.  They feel it’s unlikely since often tumors are associated with spikey baseline changes on EEG, but it is the cause they feel needs to be ruled out completely.

I’m relieved, knowing we’re about to get a definitive answer; and, of course, hoping desperately for a completely clear MRI.  I’m also carrying a knot in the bottom of my stomach at the thought of general anesthesia and contrast dye in our baby who already sports so many food allergies and pops hives every few days. But more than that, the niggling little what if desperately tries to make himself at home in my mind.

They say that worry only robs today of it’s joy and it’s true.  But I’m also discovering that a tiny bit of fear can heighten one’s awareness of joy.  We don’t know tomorrow, but the not knowing makes me so much more aware of the miracle of today.

Today there are baby feet pattering across the floor, noisy beggings for cookies, small arms wrapped tightly around my neck, eyelashes drifting shut.

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In reality, no one is guaranteed tomorrow; but we’ve all been given today.  And today? Today is perfect even in all it’s messy crumbs on the floor glory.  Today is perfect because God gave it.  I think He wants us to live freely and fully, not in spite of the questions or in denial of the questions, but in the very question itself.  So here’s to embracing life with all it’s question marks … to tears when it’s frightening, to spontaneous laughter, to deep love and fierce hugs …. here’s to the reality of life and the supernatural presence of God.

WFMW: Vanilla Crumb Pie

Ever find out last minute you’ve got guests coming for dinner and the store is too far away for you to conveniently get there in time and cook dinner?

Well, tada, here’s a dessert you’re almost guaranteed to have ingredients for already in stock.  Unless you’re a couple of steps healthier than I am and you’ve eliminated corn syrup from your diet completely. ;)  This is my aunt Katy’s fabulous recipe.  It always turns out, even if you aren’t experienced at making pies.  And, oh, is it ever fabulous with a cup of coffee.

For the filling:

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. dark Karo

1/4 c. light Karo

2 T. flour (heaping)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg

1 c. water

For the crumbs:

1/4 c. white sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

1 c. flour

1/2 t. soda

1/4 c. butter

Cook until thick.  Let cool.  Pour into an unbaked pie crust.  Top with crumb mixture.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

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I didn’t realize this was such an old-fashioned recipe until recently when everyone started talking about how their grandma used to make it.  But it makes perfect sense because all the ingredients are things people would have kept in their pantry years ago.  It may be old-fashioned, but it’s still a crowd pleaser!

Zara baby

Zara is scheduled to follow up with her neurologist tomorrow.  Because her spasms were lessening significantly in frequency we were hoping we might be able to cancel follow up.  Then in March she caught a virus, spiked a fever of 103.9 and had eight spasms in fewer than five minutes.  For the next few days she had a difficult time walking because she couldn’t keep her balance.  She’s also been fisting a lot more, something that had slowly been disappearing since she’s walking.  Unfortunately, she is now also sometimes doing it while sleeping.  After speaking with her doctor about these and a few other things, they would like to both see her and do another EEG.  Depending on the results of that and her physical exam they may proceed with an MRI.

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Will you pray with us?

For grace during the EEG.  Zara hates them, especially the process of being hooked up.

That it would show clear results of what is going on.

That our hearts would stay at peace and that her doctors would be anointed with divine wisdom about what is going on with her.

And most of all, we are still praying for miraculous healing.

The same God who created the world holds our hearts and our baby in His trustworthy hands.

Amazing Grace

I’ve been reading through Matthew the last while and loved that my reading serendipitously correlated with Easter.  Sometimes the stories we love best are so familiar it’s easy to just read over them, the familiar words a gentle cadence.

But this time when I got to verse 3 of Matthew 27 I was stopped short by how horrified Judas was when he realized Jesus was about to be condemned.  I can’t even imagine how stricken he must have felt.

It’s easy to think of Judas as the bad guy.  We don’t read a lot about him.  He’s not outspoken like Peter.  Not a super close friend like John.

But hardly was he some evil monster or he wouldn’t have been called to be one of the twelve.

Judas heard the the quiet call of an itinerant preacher and followed.

He was sent out with the other eleven to preach and heal and cast out devils.

Judas wasn’t evil, but he had a sin nature.  Just like you and I do.

He sinned. Once in particular.  His love for money grew bigger than his love for Jesus.

In a moment, he sold Jesus for thirty measly pieces of silver. The Jesus he loved (just not as much as money).  The Jesus he has followed and learned from.  He’s watched Jesus feed the five thousand and escape from angry mobs.

Maybe he thought he could have Jesus and money, too.  Maybe he thought he could be Jesus’ friend and simultaneously betray him behind his back without repercussions.  Could he really have watched Jesus talk to the woman at the well about her husbands and thought that Jesus would assume the chief priests plotted again on their own?

What went through his mind we don’t know.  But it’s so clear he didn’t think he was committing Jesus to die.

One sin.

One night of selling your soul.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on us all.

Because haven’t we all been Judas? Haven’t we all loved something more than we loved Jesus at some point?

How can we fathom this God of redemption who works through evil to bring forth good?

How can we fathom this God of mercy who still reaches down to people, takes their hand and lifts them up to make them whole?

How can we fathom a God who hears the dying words of a hardened criminal on the cross and whispers gentle words of complete forgiveness?

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We are completely undone, yet completely immersed in His glory.

We are broken beings turned into shimmering mosaics of His beauty.

We are wretchedly unworthy, made messengers of His grace.

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We are His.




All because of His amazing grace.

WFMW: Cinch Sack Tutorial

For our craft exchange at Allegany Boys Camp last Christmas, I made a backpack style cinch sack.  It reminded me of one of those easy sewing projects that would have been so much fun as a girl learning to sew.

I thought it would be fun to write a little tutorial with pictures.  If you’re an experienced seamstress, you can skim this article once and head off to your little sewing corner.  But I thought it would be fun to do a spelled out version in case there are any twelve year old girls out there just itching to sew a project on their own!

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You will need:

1/2 yard of fabric

1 – 7″x10″ piece of a coordinating fabric

2 – 2 1/4″ x 60″ strips of a coordinating fabric (I used the same for my pocket and strips but you could use three fabrics)

embellishments if you want them

ability to measure, cut, sew straight seams and buttonholes


To get started, cut 2 large rectangles 16″ x 18″ of the main fabric.

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Cut the pocket and the strings.  You can splice fabric if your fabric isn’t wide enough.  Mine was 45″ wide so I had to splice.  To make a splice, line the edges up and sew a seam.

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Fold it open and iron it flat.  Most times in a bigger piece you would want to make sure the pattern matches up evenly.  For something this small, I didn’t bother matching.  I figure most people aren’t going to be giving strings the eyeball to make sure all the polka dots look exactly the same. :)

To make the strings, iron the strips in half to create a crease down the center the long way.

Next, open it and iron one side into the middle to line up at the crease.

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Then fold the other side into the middle and iron it, too.  This was the hardest part of the project because I kept burning my fingers with steam from the iron! Watch your fingers. :)

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Sew close to the edge of the strip where the two folds come together. You can either move your needle alignment if your machine lets you do that or just feed the edge of the strip in as I did.  This will make a sturdy strap for your backpack.

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The strips should be about 60″ long.  Cut a 3 1/2″ piece off each long strip to use at the bottom of the pack.

Now take the 7″ x 10″ piece of fabric and fold it in half the long way with the right sides of the fabric facing in.

cinch sack tutorial (7 of 41)Sew along the raw edges at the sides, but not at the bottom.

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Flip the pocket right side out. Be sure to use something (you can even use the eraser side of a pencil) to push those corners out nice and tight. Press the edges lightly.

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cinch sack tutorial (11 of 41)Serge the remaining raw edges together. If you want to embellish the pocket, add whatever you choose now.  You could add lace, ribbon, buttons, or even a fabric flower depending on what fabrics you chose.

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I decided I liked this pink ribbon, but it seemed a little wide so I chose to sew it in half to narrow it before adding it to the pocket.

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It’s easy to play around with options by laying the pocket on the fabric and then embellishments on top so you can see what it would like.  It’s much harder to sew something on and decide you don’t like it so play all you like, then stitch. :)

Once you decide where you want something, mark where it should go with a fabric pen.  I put mine 1/2″ down from the top of the pocket.  Line the ribbon up (this is where a particular seamstress would pin in place, but I’m a bit of a wing it girl so I just make marks and line it up with my fingers as I go) and stitch it in place along the top and bottom of the ribbon. If you’ve been using white thread, you will want to change the thread color to match the ribbon.

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You can fold it in under the pocket so the edges are neatly finished.

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I considered adding a ribbon bow, but decided against it. I still think a button would have been cute, but I didn’t have one on hand that worked so I skipped it.  But the sky is the limit when it comes to personalizing your own project.

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After you’re satisfied with what the pocket will look like, draw a line 6″ up from the bottom of the main piece of fabric.  Find the middle of the fabric and the middle of the pocket. Place the serged edge of the pocket along the line you just drew, matching the middle markings, and pin it in place (or wing it if you’re like me). Then sew close to the edge of the pocket.  I tried to sew just below the serger stitching.

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Now flip the pocket up into position and press.  This time you really should pin it, even if you tend to wing it. :) You don’t want the pocket to shift sideways while you’re sewing.

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Top stitch the sides of the pocket to the fabric.  I prefer starting from the bottom of the pocket on both sides to keep the fabric from bunching as I sew.

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Since I was donating this bag to a fundraiser for camp, I left the pocket like this.  If I would have been making it for myself, I would have topstitched a line to divide the pocket so that one side would fit my cell phone.  I think this bag is perfect for a book, snack and water bottle for a day at the lake and I love to have my cell phone on the outside where it’s easy to get to.

When you’re happy with the pocket, pick up the little 3 1/2″ tabs you cut from the long strips earlier, fold them in half, and sew them onto the other rectangle.  Measure up  3″ from the bottom of the fabric and stitch them to the right side of the fabric.  Just a little tip for neatness.  If the top stitched edge of your tab is toward the bottom of the bag, be sure to do the other one the same way.  It might be kind of like splicing straps and no one will notice.  But it’s such an easy thing to do and it does look more professional when it’s finished.

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The two rectangles should now look like this. Front and back.

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Serge all around the edges of both rectangles.

Now place right sides together and PIN! See, I do pin sometimes. :)

Sew around the sides and the bottom of the bag, but not the top!

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Now we’re going to give the bag a flat bottom.  Lay the bag down and separate the front and back from each other at the corner to make a triangle.  Be sure the side seam and bottom seam are matching (you can feel it through the fabric) so that you have an even triangle.  Then mark a straight line across the corner.  I made mine 3 3/4″.

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Pin it in place (or hold it very, very carefully) and sew right along that line being careful that the little tabs you sewed on earlier are not caught in the triangle.  Do this on both sides.  The bag should look like it has bunny ears. :)

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cinch sack tutorial (33 of 41)Cut off the extra fabric and serge the edges.

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Turn the bag right side out.  Isn’t that cool? We’re almost done.

Now sew two button holes on the back piece of fabric as close to the side seam as you can reasonably do.  Make a 1″ button hole starting 1 3/4″ down from the top of the fabric. This will create the openings for the strings to go through the casing.

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Fold the top edge of the bag down 1 1/2″ and press.  Sew along the edge all the way around the bag.

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Now you’re ready to thread the strings through.  I used a safety pin, but some of you may have a better tool.  Feed the strap the entire way around the bag, bypassing the buttonhole on the other side and exiting out the button hole you entered.

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Now repeat the process with the other string using the other buttonhole.  You’ll have to push the first string to the side a bit as you wiggle past that first buttonhole with the second string.

Loop one strap on each side through the tabs at the bottom of the bag and tie a knot.

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If the strings are too long, you can trim off some excess first.  Just remember that it’s much easier to cut some off than it is to splice another piece back on (how would I know?) so make sure you’re happy with the measurement when the bag is open and cinched. :)

And you’re finished!

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You could use it for school books or a sleepover with friends.  Or maybe you just need something to carry your Bible and journal to the coffeeshop.

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If you try it I’d love to hear how it went. Even better, you could send me a picture of your finished bag. :)


Boy Quotes

In early fall, I’d been hearing dire predictions that 2014-15 will be one of the most harsh winters yet.  So I know it’s often a lot of hype, but everyone seemed to be saying it this year.  According to one article, we could see snowfall as early as the end of September and winter may well last until June of next year.  “Most kids haven’t seen blizzards but by the end of this winter they’ll be very knowledgeable about them.  People shouldn’t wait until the snow starts to buy bread. They should stock up and put it in their freezers.”  Wow. Just wow.  I was telling our winter-loving boys and they were all excited.  I ended with, “In which case, Daddy will probably need to buy me a ticket to Florida at some point.”  Adam promptly said, “Oh, then you’d just be like the prodigal son. You’d get to Florida and the money would just go tick, tick, tick.”

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Liam: A bunch of tomorrows have passed and a bunch of Fridays have passed but not tomorrow and not a week from tomorrow. I think I won’t be dead yet a week from tomorrow.

Me: I hope not!

Liam: I think I’ll be alive to become a grown up …. and then I’ll put away these childish things.

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While working on first grade Math, Liam struggled a little with 5-3=2 and 5-2=3.  I used manipulatives and also explained that this is just like our family.  We have five in our family, so if the parents go away (2) there are three kids still at home.  Or if they would go away, there would just be two (the parents) left at home.  The next day while doing flashcards we got to 5-2.  He squinted a little then said quietly to himself, “Ok, 5 take away the parents…..”

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When the hand soap ran low in the hallway bathroom Liam marched through our bedroom on his way to our bathroom to wash his hands.  “The soap in Zara’s bathroom quit giving birth,” he announced.


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Liam and Adam spent two days with our friends, Keith and Jeanne, while Zara was at Johns Hopkins.  On Sunday, my parents picked them up, brought them to the hospital to see us, and then took them along home to Virginia.  The boys attended their local church school. Fortunately, Liam is doing the same curriculum they are and even though he is ahead of where they are, he was able to do some of his work.  Liam LOVED school so very much.  When he got home he was telling me about it.  Then he got a funny little grin as he talked about his teacher.  “She had a certain voice (he meant accent).”  He stopped to giggle again.  “I can’t get it right.  Taaaaaaast,” (test) he said, in a southern Virginia drawl.


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Whenever we get to a bigger town it is immediately obvious that the boys have forgotten how to act outside of backwoods USA. We were in Winchester and I was constantly worrying they’d get hit because they just bounced out of the vehicle, dragged along behind or ran precariously in front of us.  They’re old enough not to have to stick close as a burr, but goodness, they’ve all but forgotten how to be aware of traffic.  At the next stop when Liam just disappeared behind the van before I was even out of it, I started the normal, “wait, where’s Liam? Tell him to come back here,” frantic kind of mumble jumble.

Adam: “Oh, just stop worrying.”

Me: “This is serious. Do you realize kids have been killed in parking lots?”

Adam quite nonchalantly: “Oh, don’t you hear his jolly voice?”

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The boys have switched career dreams at least once a year during their short lifetime.  Currently, they’re both set on the wild outdoors.  Adam is planning to be a professional fisherman, preferably somewhere way far North.

Liam is having a hard time deciding.  One day he’s going to be a jockey.  The next he’s planning to be a chef and open his own restaurant.  Recently when we had guests he proudly announced, “As soon as I’m thirteen or fourteen I’m going off to college to become a cowboy!

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We were in the card aisle looking for a birthday card for Grandpa. “How old is he?” asked Liam.


Liam: “Oh, so you’re older than he is?”

“Um, no.”

Liam: “oh, so you’re not in your seventies?”


Liam loooooves to read.  He’s delving into chapter books and his lips move as he sounds out the words. I love seeing him so intent on reading that he is willing to work hard to read an interesting story.  I didn’t realize how much effort it takes though until I would ask him to do something.  He’d put his finger on his book to keep his place and ask hopefully, “Can I wait for a period?”


Another day when I was grading a section of his book that required yes and no answers I mentioned that he had gotten one wrong. A yes that should have been a no.  “YES!” he said excitedly. “I always cheer for the no’s and now there are more of them.”


The highlight of the session at camp is a craft auction where boys and staff alike are making hand-crafted items to be sold.  Adam and Liam got in on the fun.  Liam sewed a pillow with some help from me and David helped Adam make a rather complicated wren house.  I got wind that kids might be introducing their crafts so I started coaching Adam since there will probably be well over a hundred attendees and I hoped to eliminate some stage fright in the event he did get a chance to talk.  You could say, “My dad helped me make this cool bird house …”

Adam interrupting: “Um, cool? That’s propaganda.  I’m not sure I want to use testimonial propaganda about my craft.”

Whatever.  I think he can probably come up with his own speech.

WFMW: A Gift Idea for Men

Do you love giving gifts as much as I do?

There is this strange phenomenon that happens though.  I’ll see something while I’m shopping or have the greatest idea pop into my head at random times throughout the year.  Then sometimes, when birthdays and Christmas roll around, I suddenly  It’s so wierd.  Anyhow, I’ve started keeping a running list for David and the boys and I should do it for more people, too.  Inspiration is the best when it happens on its own.

So, in case you need a great idea to add to your running list, here is one of my favorites!

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A Simple Leather Belt.

These belts are hand-crafted from genuine leather.

They’re custom made so you can choose belt buckles, thickness of the leather, the shape of the end of the belt, and how many holes you’d like.  One? Talk about a belt made just for you.

Turn around time is fast and the packaging? Oh, my.  The packaging!

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This belt is like, a belt.  Not like other belts that are pretending to be belts.  When you hold this belt, you know this is what a belt is supposed to feel like.

I had no idea belts could be so cool until I met this one.

I bet somebody in your life would like to meet one, too!

WFMW: Plexus

Plexus. It’s the current buzzword, isn’t it?  But is it more than hype?  For a long time I was curious.

I watched testimonials for months, waiting for the crash.  I’ve seen new items flash red hot before, always from a  safe distance, of course. ;)

This one felt a little different.  Many people claim to be skeptics, but I think I win somewhere around second place.  Just shy of the person who never believes or tries anything new.  It’s so bad that when David told me the Target in Hagerstown had opened a Starbucks I was convinced he was confused with another Target. After all, I’d wanted a Starbucks there more times than I could count on those multiple winter town trips coupled with obstetric visits last winter ….. until I bought a latte there myself. Tasting is believing, you know. :)

It’s hard for me to get excited when a new product burns hot only because people say they feel better.  I’m delighted for them, of course, but the skeptical side of me always wonders how much of it is scientific change and how much could be attributed to a placebo effect.  I hear people claim that something is all natural and I still feel dubious because, hey, so is marijuana and poison ivy. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for me.

But as I waited and watched, I noticed that many of the testimonials were backed with lab results.  People were being told by endocrinologists to lower their thyroid medications.  Diabetics were showing lower A1C’s than ever before.  People suffering from lyme were finally experiencing healing. I was incredulous at the variety of illnesses that were experiencing improvement just from one product that worked toward stabilizing blood sugars and improving gut health.  There were people with joint pain. Inflammation. Autism. Epilepsy. Seasonal Allergies. Thyroid issues. Eczema. Fibromyalgia. Adrenal Fatigue. And so many more. And then my interest piqued nearly through the roof.  A woman with an anaphylactic reaction to wheat showed negative on her allergy tests and sat at Taco Bell epi pen in hand to eat a burrito!  No reaction.  The number of illnesses people were seeing improvement in was astounding!

Meanwhile, David’s fungal issues had been escalating.  He’s fought fungal infections ever since I know him.  The worst has been his feet.  A year or so before we moved to camp he finally went to see a doctor who said exactly what had been holding us off for awhile.  “You need an anti fungal, but they’re so bad for you otherwise that as long as you can make it without, you probably don’t want to take it.” How’s that for a “you’re going to suffer one way or the other,” kind of diagnosis.

His feet were so itchy with lots of visible white scaly areas.  The year before we moved here, his skin started reacting everywhere.  It was often itchy, but after getting out of the shower he would nearly go crazy because he just itched everywhere.  Scratching hurt!  We thought it was his body wash.  We tried switching laundry soap.  Nothing helped.  After we lived here a year or two, it got so bad that as soon as he scratched his arm once, huge red welts appeared immediately.  When he was drywalling the basement, his eyelids grew red, bumpy, and irritated.  We thought it was the drywall dust, but it didn’t go away.  Sometime in 2013 a bunch of staff were doing a no sugar challenge for one session.  David was one of them.  Interestingly, he noticed his itching decreased.  Early in 2014 with his eyes looking like something akin to alligator skin, he said goodbye to sugar.  Because he eats so many meals at camp, it would have been difficult to do a radical diet switch eliminating sugar sources such as white flour.  He stuck to the basic no refined sugars rule and, since he was planning on a long haul, allowed himself small amounts of maple syrup and honey.

Things got a little better.  He was a little less violently itchy and his eyelids got a little better although red spots still cropped up around his eyes after many meals.

Adam and I had a few bad months with strep and when I was in the hospital delivering Liam, Adam reacted to his antibiotic.  He ended up on steroids to help alleviate a bit of joint swelling in his knees and to calm the enormous hives that covered his body.  That summer he developed ring worm a time or two.  It wasn’t until the next year when we were learning about Liam’s food allergies that we started to put pieces together.  We listened to teaching by Diane Craft, who said that antibiotic reactions often mean your body is so full of fungus it cannot handle one more round of antibiotics.  We did as she suggested and put Adam on a no sugar diet for two months coupled with probiotics three times a day and this anti fungal two times a day.  The ringworm disappeared and never returned.

In September, David decided to give Plexus a shot. Because it was more difficult to change his menu, we thought Plexus might help compensate for a few reasons.  One, the Slim was designed to help your body keep blood sugar levels stable.  Definitely a plus since yeast thrives on sugar.  Two, the ProBio 5 has grapeseed extract in it, a powerful anti fungal.  Three, for whatever reason, people were having lab documented results and we wanted them, too.  We ordered. Very quietly. Because we were pretty sure it wouldn’t change anything and this was probably just another one of those things.

But, boy, were we ever wrong.  I noticed David wasn’t going crazy with itching after his showers anymore. By the end of two months, something amazing had happened.  David wasn’t scratching his feet all evening long.  In fact, he rarely scratched them.  Prior to Plexus, he would literally sit and scratch them in misery most of the evening, often until they bled.  By now, the scaliness has mostly disappeared and the skin on his feet looks normal for the first time in years.  They don’t feel like razors anymore either.  His eyes mostly healed and I never see welts on his arms.

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I started snitching his ProBio5 soon after he started, but I was too afraid of the other products. Slim contains stevia, a natural sweetener that isn’t supposed to raise your blood sugar.  I’d only had a few encounters with it and each time, my body seemed to be confused and still release insulin and I ended up feeling sick.  But the ProBio? I loved it! Suddenly I noticed that Zara wasn’t reacting to dairy as much as she had before.  My milk supply jumped and I wasn’t having those sour stomach feelings in the morning.

I’ve always had low blood sugar issues, or at least for as long as I can remember.  On my first day of clinicals, we did our own fingersticks to learn how to check a patient’s glucose.  Mine was fifty-two which pretty much threw my instructor into a panic.  We redid it and it was sixty-nine.  She was still convinced I should eat a donut and I was convinced I was fine.  I rarely had trouble, except that I had to eat a lot, until I had babies.  The year we built our house I had strep for three months and somehow, it felt as though I never could get my strength back.  The first time I ignored it because I needed to work, not go to the doctor.  By the time I went I had scarlet fever with the classic rash and strawberry tongue.  The doctor sent the nurses in to look at my tongue because they never get to see it anymore. ;) I had heart palpitations for months afterward. In retrospect, it was probably all the antibiotics and a yeast buildup.  I finally got better, mostly.  But the blood sugar issues stayed.  By the time I’d get home from church on Sunday I was frequently breaking out in a cold sweat, shaking all over, and sometimes things would start to go grey until I could get in the house and get some food on board.

After Liam was diagnosed with allergies, our diet took a significant shift in a  healthier direction.  We ate far more protein and fewer carbs.  I felt stronger and had fewer woozy moments.  Somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, I must have overshot the sugar ratio and I could not get back on track.  It is not fun to be in the grocery store and feel the sweat, the shaking, and the grayness come when you are carrying a baby.  Adam has more than once needed to emergently run to the front for a twenty ounce Coke to keep me from falling out on the grocery store floor. When my friend Rachel ordered Plexus, I decided to get brave enough to try the other products.  I started the “pink drink,” as it’s often called, and Bio Cleanse and within days, felt astounded at my returning energy level.  By the end of a month I realized I hadn’t had a blood sugar crash once!!!!!!!!  Eating a breakfast of pancakes has always been enough to put me flat on the couch for hours because of the sugar overload on an empty stomach.  We switched to these almond flour pancakes that are literally packed with protein.  I even added natural peanut butter made only with peanuts and sea salt, and kept the maple syrup to the barest minimum possible without actually having them stick in my throat and still, I’d feel a little woozy an hour later.  It seemed my body would read sugar and send five times too much insulin coursing into my bloodstream. Now that I’m on Plexus? Not a blip!

What surprised me most initially was that I didn’t get sick on the Stevia.  Then the happy surprises just kept coming.  Zara threatened to have more food intolerances than Liam did.  Occasionally when I nursed her, she’d fall asleep and milk would run out of her mouth onto her cheek and she’d sprout a hive where the milk touched her skin.  I was pretty careful about dairy because one serving size for me was enough to give her cold symptoms for days.  Other than that, I couldn’t pinpoint the culprits except maybe almond … an absolute mainstay in our diet since Liam tolerates it well.  She seemed fussier on days I consumed more gluten.  I gave her gluten free baby puffs and she got very fussy and had loose stools.  No.  Surely not.  She couldn’t react to rice.  I stopped them.  She got better.  I tried three more times, always with the same results. She also reacted to apples.  If you’ve ever gone gluten free, tell me how to live without almonds, rice or apples.  The ProBio for me seemed to help her with the dairy.  After I started the Slim and Bio Cleanse, I suddenly noticed I could eat anything I wanted and Zara was fine.

I started sleeping better instead of tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep or stay asleep.  Mornings may never be my favorite time of the day since I’m a born night owl, but I love that now after a few minutes, I actually feel awake instead of hanging groggily over my cup of coffee trying desperately to get my brain into full on mode!  It wasn’t until the end of January that I realized I wasn’t dealing with my annual winter SAD symptoms for the first time in my adult life!  But maybe the best gift of all happens when we finish school and start gathering up all the coats and boxes for one of our weekly town marathons and I realize I’m not shaking and exhausted before I even get out the door.  No, that’s not the best gift.  The best gift is that for the first time, Adam is not having a six week slump in his grades that I always thought was winter doldrums and am now realizing may have been a reflection of his Mom’s winter depression.  The very best gift is feeling like I am becoming a much more functional, present mom instead of an exhausted, just barely surviving, can I make it through this day mom.  That is the best gift!

We all know that as Mom’s we tend to take care of everyone else and forget to put priority on our own health.  Now that I’m getting better, I’m beginning to see how much my health affects the rest of my family.  I can keep going, I always said.  And maybe I could.  But given a choice, I’ll choose being able to give my family the best I can give.

Do I think everyone needs Plexus? No.

Do I think probably more people out there are feeling crummy just like I did and wondering what is wrong and wishing they could find help? Yes!

Do I expect to take Plexus products for life? Not really.  I can’t see into the future, but I expect that after we’ve given our bodies time to heal, we’ll only need a Probiotic.  I expect most everyone needs a good probiotic of some kind unless they are privy to a year round garden of organic produce grown in soil with numerous amendments.  I could talk about why I think our food today doesn’t feed our bodies well, but that’s a long story. :)

Do I think Plexus is a miracle cure? Not at all.  I do think, however, that many illnesses have an underlying relationship to the overload of sugar in our body and our propensity toward fungal overgrowth given our modern day diet and our frequent antibiotic usage.  And that is why I think so many people are finding healing through one product.  When blood sugar levels get stabilized and yeast is sent out the door, your body has a much, much better chance at fighting whatever it is that you are fighting!

I never planned to sell Plexus.  I just wanted David to get better.  Then I wanted to get better. When something this big happens, I can’t keep it to myself. I’m sharing in hopes that maybe someone else can find help! If you are looking for something like this and have questions, I’d be so happy to try to answer them or point you in the right direction.  And if you have your own story to share, I’d love to hear it in the comments section! Want to try it for yourself? Click here if you’re interested.

Cheers to good health!

WFMW: Choosing Paint Colors

I’ve been having a blast helping a friend choose paint colors for her house and just last week had someone else message me for advice on the same subject.  I’m far from an expert, but when you do it a lot, you pick up a few helpful tips along the way. Best of all, you start to develop an eye.  A friend of David’s is a professional painter.  I listened in awe as he described one client who gets her house repainted every year before Christmas.  She can flip through the paint color stack one time and say, “this one and this one and this one” and every time it looks perfect.  I’m convinced our only connection must go all the way back to Eve. Then again, I kind of like the obsessing process.

I thought it might be a fun WFMW subject then you guys can chime in with your own advice and preferences.  After all, we all know that painting and decor has as much to do with personal style and taste as it does with anything else.  It goes without saying that everything here is opinion and biased by own experiences. :)

Let’s talk paint, first.  I am a huge fan of Benjamin Moore paint.  I love that it is thick, covers well, doesn’t splatter, and best of all, has very little odor.  Most paints leave me eating almost as much as I paint (food, not paint, just in case you were worried) …. I have no idea what they put in those paint fumes, but three strokes in, I’m starving.  Ben Moore? No such problem.  I usually buy the eggshell finish for walls and semi gloss for trim and have not had any trouble with washing walls even though they recommend going to a satin finish for bathrooms and kids bedrooms.  I’ll take a little wear and tear over gloss on the walls, and so far we’ve not had any issues.  The closest knock off I’ve found to Ben Moore is the Behr paint at Home Depot.  It’s thinner, has a little more smell, but it’s pretty similar.  I know lots of people like Sherwin Williams and I have no doubt it’s a good product.  But I’d have to park my painting project next to the grocery store, just saying.

And now, the fun part! I could just about get giddy in the paint chip aisle.  Seriously, if David ever wants to convince me to build another house, he’d be very wise to suggest it while we’re standing in that aisle.  I lose my head when I’m surrounded by all those possibilities and think anything would be fun.

But it can also be overwhelming, especially if you’re looking at a big project.  When we were building our house, I found it helpful to take my known (kitchen cabinets) and work around that.  You  can choose lots of colors or shades of colors, but it’s nice if they flow nicely.  You won’t be jolted walking into a room with lots of color if it relates well to the color next door.  The paint expert where we bought our paint showed me how to line the color chips up so we could see if they were all similarly warm or cool shades.  For example, a cool yellow won’t look as good next to warm tones. Don’t forget the trim color when you’re lining things up! Once I know the colors all belong together, I like to hold them so that I visualize the amounts of each color.  A teeny bit of the white, a little more of my secondary color, and the whole chip of the main color.

Here’s my lineup for the basement.  {You can see what it looks like on the walls here.  Well, kind of.  It’s pretty hard to take accurate color pictures in a basement.  The bathroom is a little richer in real life and the navy might be a little darker, but it’s pretty close.}  I loved this greige color for the main part.  I wanted something just a little bit warmer than grey since it was a basement, but I gravitate toward gray more than tan.  This color was the perfect in-between.

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Color names from L-R: van deucen blue HC-156, collingwood 859, white dove OC-17, ocean air 2123-50

David and I gravitate toward painted trim, but we prefer a white that is a little warmer, yet still looks crisp white.  Benjamin Moore’s white dove is perfect for us.  I always keep a chip of that so I can make sure I’m staying in the same tones.  If you prefer a crisper white, Decorator White may be what you’re looking for.

If you see a color you like, ask! It helps so much to see a color on the wall.  Even if you don’t use the same color, it can help you find a color that is similar with perhaps a tiny bit more of another tone you’re looking for.  I loved that for a long time Pottery Barn named the wall colors in their catalogs.  It was so much easier to visualize a room when you saw a picture of a room done in that color.  I think they’ve switched to Sherwin William colors …or at least they did the last time I checked.  Sadly, my catalogs have quit coming.  Probably because it’s been awhile since I made a purchase.  They were one of my favorite pieces in the mail just for the inspiration! I kind of think I could live in their stores!

Sometimes it’s worth the money to buy a sample! A wall of color can look so different from a 2 inch chip! After you do it for awhile, you’ll get better at seeing undertones.  I’m pretty sure David can spot pink undertones a half a mile away and I’m pretty sure he has an allergic reaction to lavender undertones in grays. :) He likes pink.  In a girls room.  Unrecognized pink undertones that get louder on the wall in our room? Not so much. :) We had a bit of a learning curve in Virginia until I figured out how to hold the color against other colors to see different tones pop out.

Don’t be afraid of color whether it’s in large amounts or small pops.  Just think about what you want ahead of time and where you want the color.  My personal rule is, “you can always paint it again.” :) Things like flooring and furniture will likely hang out in your house for a long time.  But it’s not that hard to repaint a few walls (unless you’ve got a second story house with an open foyer) and you can change the look of the room after awhile if you don’t like it.  If the paint store isn’t too far away, I like to order enough paint for the first coat.  If the color only needs to be tweaked a tiny bit, you can sometimes get away with just one coat of the new color.

I still think grays are tricky.  The gray in our living room has far more blue essence on the wall than it does on the chip.  In fact, most people don’t believe me when I tell them that’s the color.  I like the color. It just surprises me.  But at least it didn’t shine lavender. ;) Which leads me to the next tip.  Check the color in the room you’re planning to paint.  Not outside, and definitely not in the store under the fluorescent lights.  A room that has lots of light will not only look lighter, it may bring out hues you wouldn’t notice otherwise. A small room with few windows will appear darker and you might want to choose the same color in a lighter shade.  So grab those color chips and a good drink and sit in the room you’re going to paint.

You’ve probably heard all the old tips about light colors in small rooms and dark colors in big rooms.  They’re true.  But I think more importantly, you should think about how you want the rooms to feel.  Our house in Virginia had big rooms with high ceilings so I wanted warm colors. A rich gold, yellow in the kitchen that made you think of big, lazy breakfasts (even if they only happened Saturday mornings), a rich grown up blue in the living room, and a dark, red in a small bathroom that made the white towels and shower curtain look fresh and clean. It was warm and inviting.

Our house in Maryland is smaller with typical eight foot ceilings and the sun seems to hide a lot.  Plus, my mental capacity gets maxed out so much I found I craved white space. I chose a much more neutral, light color scheme and even painted some rooms a warm white, barely warmer than the trim color.  Surprisingly, it’s perfect!  I love the way I can add color pops in small accents. It’s easy to change the feel of the room with just a few things and seasonal decor really pops!  I love that it looks restful, clean, and inviting.

You can see the colors in our main floor sprinkled throughout all of our pictures.  Here’s the main floor line up. I wasn’t lying when I said I stayed very, very neutral.  The only wild child on the main floor is the front door. Zara’s room has pink in it, now, but I have no color chip because I mixed white with the pink color I bought. :)


From back to front: Ominous Cloud 5044 (this is a Clark and Kensington paint) used in the master bedroom, sea pearl OC-19 used on the kitchen walls and the bathroom walls and the base coat for Zara’s room, stonington gray HC-170 in our living room, and of course the white dove for the trim.

I think this is what is the most fun about creating a space.  Seeing the ways it evolves to hold it’s own personality.  It’s also why I love to visit other people’s homes and enjoy their tastes and beauty.  Our homes are really such a beautiful extension of ourselves and a tangible way we can share with others.

I’d love to hear what goes through your mind when you choose paint colors? Do you get your inspiration from colors you love in other places like the sparkling blues and sandy tans of the ocean or burnt rust and gold as the warm afternoon sun shines through red maple leaves? Or do you automatically think about the colors you love most in your closet?  Do you gravitate toward lots of color or neutrals? But even more, I’d love to hear if the process is fun for you or gives you a bellyache or does both. :) And if you’ve never had a chance to paint, what colors do you dream of painting? Maybe your color scheme will inspire someone else!  Happy Wednesday!




Basement Living

Remember that finishing out the basement project I moaned and squealed about by turns, oh, about a year ago? Well, I’ve been realizing I never posted any finished pictures.  By now you’ve probably seen snippets through the snapshots of our life, but I thought it would be fun to post a few room shots.  Especially for my sister in law who helped paint, but never got to see the finished product.

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I love, love, love this space.  It’s one of those places that you kind of visualize in your mind and then when you’re finished it’s even better than you thought it would be.  I especially love that for a basement, it is so open to the outside.  I love the storage (Can a house ever have too many closets? I thought not.). I love that I don’t have to run nearly so far and not through a freezing cold basement to do laundry.  I love that we can create a separate space for guests.  I love that we have a separate space to do school.

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So, here it is.  The basement was roughly framed already when we moved in.  Well, really, there was just a bedroom / closet framed.  Thanks to a suggestion from Chief Brian, David re-worked the existing openings so that you could enter the bedroom immediately when you go down the steps instead of circling the entire basement.  Best improvement of the plan by a long shot.  David also added a second doorway which cuts into the wall space a lot, but makes for direct access to the bathroom.  And he added a bathroom, a storage room with lots of finished shelves, a closet in the hallway, and a laundry closet right by the table where we do school.

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The owner of the house preferred drop ceiling for easy access to ductwork and pipes, so David did drop ceiling everywhere it covered lines and drywalled the rest.  I love that it gives us higher ceilings than the typical drop ceiling everywhere and also that it defines the main room as two separate areas.

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The boys love their room more than they’ve ever loved any of their bedrooms.  I’d been dreaming of creating this canvas canopy for them ever since I saw it in a Pottery Barn magazine as a prop about three years ago.  I brainstormed about ways to do it with PVC pipe and David, of course, came up with a far more brilliant idea.  He created what we called a hood because it looked so much like a stove hood.  Then I begged my friend, Nola, to come help me.  She’s a genius with a  sewing machine.  I knew I could do it alone, but I also knew I’d probably do a lot of picking and figuring out.  Nola whipped out her tape measure and a pencil, cut out some pieces and told me exactly which piece to sew next so that it would all go together seamlessly.  She’s a genius I tell you.  When she left it was close to supper time and I had the top together and was just starting to do the windows.  I wasn’t about to stop when I was on a roll and by eleven o’clock that night I emailed her a picture of the canopy hanging from the top of my frig.  I still think of her every time I see it.  I wonder if she even owns a seam ripper.

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The boys absolutely loved the canopy.  When they moved into their room, they spent the entire first hour just sitting on their bed reading books! It’s so cozy in there.  Odd thing to say about a basement, but it’s true!  I love the navy color of their room, too.  I was afraid to use so much color in a smallish room, especially without a lot of window light.  But when my sisters-in -law came to paint we hemmed and hawed about which wall to paint navy and finally concluded it could handle lots. The boys love it! They wish all four walls were dark, but I think one wall of greige helps to bring a little light to a room that is still darker than main level living. I wish it were possible to take an accurate color picture in a basement, because it really is a pretty navy.

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Because the room doesn’t have much wall space, David built in shelving in the boys’ closet.  Now there is plenty of space to organize their clothes and all their fun boy gear.  Ski gear. Snorkeling gear. Hunting gear. Backpacks. Binoculars.  And all the other fun boy stuff that happens.

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The entire basement is still mostly minus art; but I think about it most in the bathroom. Probably because I know what I want to do in that room most definitively.  It was basement, baby, kitchen remodel, school so art can wait. But next summer, I’m hoping to have some fun adding the fun artsy part to these rooms and Zara’s nursery.  For now, I think it’s pretty cool that Adam can display some of his own oil paintings.

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The basement is still a basement.  It’s chilly around the edges during the winter.  When we were finishing it, I kept visualizing how pretty the space would be with hardwood floors.  It’s winter here for half the year pretty much though, so carpet has been such a good decision.  One especially cold week when Zara was sick I opted to do school in the dining room so that she’d stay warmer. I realized then how much we don’t see because of being in the basement.  Upstairs we are constantly entertained by dozens of birds at the feeder and sometimes a a pileated woodpecker at the edge of the yard.  We get a much bigger view of snowflakes falling, and we have easy access to the kitchen for hot tea making.  But, for a basement, we think this place is pretty sweet!  The pros way outweigh the cons.

It’s a wonderful place for kids to run off energy and to get fewer decibel lowering directives.  It’s a great place for a sewing project that takes more than twenty minutes, which is pretty much all of them. :)

I also love that David put lots of can lights in the main area instead of the typical fluorescents that get installed in basements.  We can turn all the lights on during the day and have it actually feel like an energizing daytime. But he also put a dimmer switch on them so in the evening we can turn the lights on low and have soft, even lighting that makes the basement feel cozy.

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It’s not a perfect space, but it’s pretty much perfect for us.