Friday, December 30, 2011

Don't panic, be happy

It's been a rough couple of days.

But before I get into that, a funny story....

Yesterday afternoon, we took the kids to see TinTin. It was a good movie. Andreas has TinTin comic books so he was thrilled at the idea of going to see the movie. He also has all week off from work (thankfully) so it was the perfect time to go. The theater was pretty full and so we had to sit waaaay down in front, and we didn't even get to sit together. The girls sat in the very front row and we were a couple rows up.

After the movie was over, we stopped at the store so Andreas could pick up something for dinner. I said I should probably go in with him because I needed to get some "girly items". I'll get them for you, he said. I told him he'd probably end up getting the wrong thing and you know, we are pretty particular when it comes to that stuff. Just explain it to me, he says. So I explained it. I even found a picture of the box using the internet on my phone.

When he was done shopping, as he was walking towards the car, he pulls out the blue box of "girly items" and with a giant evil grin on his face, starts waving them around in the air. OH. MY. LORD. If I could make myself disappear, that would have been a great time to use that power. Oh well, at least he got the right kind ;)

This week has been one of the worst weeks of my life. A week, maybe week and a half ago, I had a panic attack. In the middle of the night. It woke me up. It was the weirdest thing. A few days later, I had another one. And then a couple of days ago, I had the MOTHER of all panic/anxiety attacks. It woke me up at 12:30 am (I'd been sleeping only about an hour and a half) and it lasted ALL NIGHT LONG.

There were peaks. I would get this horrible throat tightening feeling where I couldn't swallow, I couldn't breathe, my heart was racing....basically I thought I would die at any moment. Then the worst of the panic would subside but I would still have trouble swallowing, I was shaky, and nauseous and worst of all, SO AFRAID that the worst of the peaks would come again. Basically, I could think of nothing else which makes it impossible to come down. I wandered alone downstairs in the dark, watching the hours pass by, in agony. So tired, so afraid.

I was trying everything to calm myself down. I would breathe into a paper bag when I felt the shortness of breath. I would squeeze play doh in my hands. I tried playing xbox games to keep my hands busy. Games on my phone to keep my mind busy. I tried breathing exercises. I walked around and around and around....just trying to breathe normally. Hours and hours went by. I couldn't believe how ridiculous this was becoming. How could it last this long????

Then, when morning came, I had calmed down some but still had the swallowing problem. I couldn't swallow unless I had gum in my mouth to produce saliva. Every now and then I would get a burning in my chest, sort of a tingling, reminding me that a panic peak could be just around the corner. I couldn't eat, which made me weak and shaky. I was so tired. But every time I felt myself drifting off, I would jolt up, gasping.

Finally by dinner time, I was feeling almost normal. Just incredibly tired. I ate. Then I laid down to just relax and enjoy feeling normal. I was able to sleep 6 hours. I woke up at 5am feeling happy that I slept, but also wondering if I was about to have another attack. I started to feel the tingling sensation and I just thought "NO!" I am NOT going through this again. I wasn't able to fall asleep again but I didn't have another attack. I was so tired all day though, I couldn't really function normally. When I decided that I would try to go to the movie with the rest of the family I had one stipulation, I had to sit in an aisle seat in case I had to bolt out. As I said that, I thought, "Oh great. Now I'm one of those people. People with severe anxiety and can't go anywhere." Well, I refuse to be a slave to this. I made an appointment with the doctor and if I need to be medicated to calm these attacks so be it.

I just don't know why it's happening all of a sudden like this. And why always in the middle of the night? Waking me up from sleep. Maybe I have sleep apnea and that triggers them. Supposedly stress can cause them but I don't feel stressed out at all. Whatever the reason, I need it to stop. It's debilitating. It literally took two days of my life from me. Two days spent panicking and recovering. NOT fun. And knowing I have to wait until next Wednesday to see the doctor has me a little worried.

So today, I'm battling a severe headache. As I type this, I am finally feeling the medicine doing something. But the dull pain is still there. I just want to feel normal. It seems like it's been a good 2 months since I've felt really good. Can't wait to feel like myself again.

On a brighter note, it finally snowed. The ground is white. Too bad it wasn't like this a week ago. Because now "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas".

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Robot 1X

This is our robot vacuum. We call her Robot 1X. Where my Futurama fans at?


And this is Lizzy.

Lizzy bear and I feel the same way about Robot 1X.


It is always invading our space. It's a space invader. It vacuums under my feet in the kitchen when I'm trying to cook. It tries to vacuum up Lizzy's tail as she sleeps on the floor. It's always after us. It smells fear.

See? Here it comes now. It's after me....again.

It's coming out from under the rocking chair to attack.

Run, Lizzy. Save your tail.

It likes to push around Lizzy's toys. She keeps a watchful eye. That's her new toy from Santa. And she isn't about to let Robot 1X take it.

Stupid Robot.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Goodies

New on the line up for Christmas goodies this year are:
Swedish almond butter cookies

So....much....butter

Cutesy little gingerbread men petit fours before they were covered in heavenly ganache - which is nothing but melted chocolate and heavy cream. Nothing can taste bad when it involves heavy cream.
NOTHING.

These little dudes kill me. Words simply cannot describe the charm of Scandinavian Christmas decor.


And I was trying out the monochrome setting on my camera. I think I like it.







If I don't blog again until Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

4 more days

When you have so much to do, the best way NOT to accomplish any of it, is to take a muscle relaxer.

Whoa, mama. I tried holding off today, just dealing with the pain without medicine, but it got worse and worse and I became so stiff that it wasn't an option anymore. So I took one of my Flexeril at about 3:00pm. The fun part is trying to stay awake. I don't see how my mom can take 3 a day and still function. Maybe she has built up a tolerance.

But I kept myself busy by cooking dinner (sorry about forgetting to take the stickers off the green peppers before cooking them...teehee). And then I tried visiting with my sister. Keeping up normal conversation is tricky. My head was bobbing from side to side and I'm not really sure if what I said made any sense. Playing the piano was.....interesting. Now, I'm blogging. And it's not really working out. So I'm just going to go lay down.

Night....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ugh....have you been on WebMd again?

Well, mom and I got a great start on the week-before-Christmas-chores yesterday. I did nearly all the laundry and mom folded. I started cleaning. I'm taking it one room at a time, starting with the living room. It has been de-furred and is looking pretty nice. I also baked two pans of bars last night - cereal bars and mixed nut bars (Andreas' favorite). Only 20 more to go. Ok, maybe not that many, but a lot of baking to do yet.

I had a terrible sore back and neck yesterday. I pulled a muscle in my back last week and I thought it was done giving me trouble but it seemed to have traveled to my upper back and neck. It was so uncomfortable and I couldn't sleep so I got up at 4:30am and did the worst thing I could possibly have done - look at the symptom checker on WebMd.

You know, that sight is marvelous, I've used it before, but it is so easy to get yourself worked up. I usually end up thinking I have rare diseases and such. For real, it did get me a bit paranoid. The hypochondriac in me was almost positive I had meningitis.

I am no stranger to muscle aches and pains, because I lift weights and that is just part of the game. But the ache I had felt so much different. It was a stiffness that came on really quickly. I could hardly turn my head left or right, and tipping my chin to my chest was very painful. Something just felt wrong.

Not only that, but I've been sick for so long and it didn't seem all that far fetched to think I had some sort of infection going on. My immune system is down, I can't shake this cough/cold/mucus thing, I've got this stiff neck...what if I had viral meningitis? Or worse...bacterial meningitis??!! That is nothing to play with, you can die within a day or two of getting it.

So, off to the ER I went. I didn't want to wait until 8am for the walk in clinic to open. My blood pressure was very high but I didn't have a temp. The fact that I had no temp and didn't have a headache, was reason enough to rule out meningitis. Phew! What a relief that was. The doctor said that I probably pulled something and it would get worse before it got better. He prescribed a muscle relaxer and pain pill. Oh joy. I seriously dislike pills. BUT, it will help me get better quicker and that is all I needed to hear. Sign me up, doc!

I have so much to do this week and luckily the best thing I can do for myself is keep moving. Apparently the laying on a heating pad regimen I did for myself last night did me no favors. Heat = bad. I will probably stay out of the gym for the remainder of the week. It will feel good to start up again (hopefully) pain free and rejuvenated after Christmas is over. And it pretty much takes a doctor to tell me to lay off strenuous activities for me to actually lay off. Sometimes we just need to rest our bodies. Ok, mom? Are you happy? ;)

So now I'm home, blogging while medicated. That's gotta rank up their with drunk dialing. So I should get off here and go operate heavy machinery or chop vegetables with a large sharp knife or something....haha. I kid, I kid! But I am feeling a tad uncoordinated at the moment and a bit sleepy so I'm off to find my cozy bed.

Just playin' around





Saturday, December 17, 2011

going to ihop

Andreas had a hankering for ihop today. Actually, Emma had a hankering for Swedish pancakes, (or pl├Ąttar), and pappa bear didn't feel like cooking. Because he was napping. At 10:30am. And why shouldn't he? He'd already been up 2 hours. So he suggested ihop.

Then he thought, maybe we better go to Village Inn since he didn't think ihop would cater to my non-wheat diet. But I figured I could still eat eggs and turkey bacon, maybe even a potato pancake or some hashbrowns. I can handle the ihop! So we went to ihop. And Emma didn't have pl├Ąttar, but she did have bacon, sausage, eggs and American pancakes. And she ate it all! For our little toothpick of a girl who barely eats enough to keep a bird alive, this is a MAJOR feat. She enjoyed every bit of it, dunking her bacon into the whipped cream. Eating pancakes with maple AND blueberry syrup. Eating her bacon AND pappa bear's bacon.

Andreas thought it was funny that she was dunking one form of fat into another. I thought it was funny that she kept calling her bacon 'turkey bacon' when it was really pork bacon. And then she said, "I know it's regular bacon but it tastes like turkey bacon". I was smiling ear to ear....SEE?! Turkey bacon DOES taste like regular bacon. And it IS possible to make it crispy. And no, you don't have to burn the crap out of it. My girls and I love to eat turkey bacon. It's the only kind of bacon I ever buy, unless I'm feeling like giving in to my husband's constant desire to clog up his arteries with pork fat.

So anyway, I ended up eating from the "fit menu" - which always makes me laugh. I had an omelet with egg substitute....only because they put their wheat pancake mix in the real egg omelets. I can't be sure that they don't put it in their egg substitute omelets, but I can hope they didn't. And it was filled with turkey bacon and cheese. Then I had hashbrowns and fruit on the side. I know hashbrowns are not very healthy for you, fried in butter and all. But I'm in a butter lovin' place right now. That's right, I'm eating things like butter and full fat cheese and life has never been better ;) Even without bread. More specifically wheat. Have you ANY idea how many products contain wheat????

Since going wheat free I've made things like cheesecake, peanut butter fudge, muffins, pizza, wraps, etc. all home made and containing NO wheat what-so-ever. It's been anything but flavorless! AND, the added bonus of it all (aside from getting to eat so much cheese) is that all the stomach cramps and...eh hem...gas - gone! Aren't you happy for me? If you are generally around me after 3pm, I'm sure you're happy now! hehe...

Friday, December 16, 2011

it's raining, it's pouring.....mucus, that is

I bought a Neti Pot yesterday. Oh, you have no idea what the heck a Neti Pot is? Neither did I. Until I went to the doctor and they suggested that I tried one because I probably had allergies. Huh? Allergies? I don't know about that...

What I do know is that whatever I've got JUST. WON'T. QUIT.


Anyway, to keep panic attacks at bay, I've had to use nosespray. I panic when I can't breathe through my nose. And you can read here  why I never want to have to use nosespray again. A better alternative to Afrin is the Neti Pot.


This is pretty much what mine looks like. A plastic blue "teapot". You fill it with water, mix in a super pure soduim chloride, then pour it in one nostril while it drains out the other nostril. Sexy, right? I also thought it would feel terrible. But it feels good. And I can breathe so well now. I am so happy.

"Nasal irrigation is a practice in which the nasal cavity is washed to flush out excess mucus and debris from the nose and sinuses. It promotes good nasal health, and patients with chronic sinusitis including symptoms of facial pain, headache, halitosis, cough, watery discharge and nasal congestion often find nasal irrigation to provide effective relief." - Wikipedia

The only draw back so far happened this morning at the gym. When I woke up, I used my handy dandy Neti Pot, and was breathing beautifully. When I got to the gym, I started my workout with a bench press. After a round of those, I got up, bent over the bench and a solid stream of liquid poured out of my nose. Poured....like a faucet. I ran to get a wad of tissues to wipe it up, praying that no one saw what just happened. And I basically spent the remainder of my workout with tissue crammed up my nose so it wouldn't happen again. Hot.

Must have been a lot of water trapped up in there somewhere. It was the weirdest thing. And maybe the grossest also.

But it won't scare me from using it again. I am very satisfied with the relief it has given me. I slept like a baby last night and full of energy today. Isn't it strange how people say "sleep like a baby" in reference to a good night sleep, when babies generally wake up every couple hours? Anway, if you have sinus congestion, I suggest trying the Neti Pot. Best $11 or so I've ever spent (not counting your Christmas gift, honey. teehee)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

flax wrap sandwich

Today, I tried something completely new and outside the box for me. I made a flax wrap. In the microwave. With very minimal ingredients. I'm talking, ground flax, eggs, spices, baking powder and water. It was phenomenal! I stuffed it with avocado, alfalfa sprouts and melted havarti. Yum!



Look at the beauty that is this homemade wrap! I think next time I make this, I will add meat of some kind. Canned salmon or tuna, perhaps?



I found the recipe for the wrap in the book "Wheat Belly".  I am trying a wheat free diet (5 days now!) so this wrap was almost like getting to eat a bread product! Truth is, I haven't missed bread yet. Or cookies. But I honestly feel like a hefer eating all this FAT! I'm seriously bloated. I think I'm eating too much. I'm so used to eating every 2-3 hours, and so eating all this fat, I shouldn't need to eat so often. I guess it is something I'm going to need some time to get used to.

I really don't see myself on a wheat free diet for life. I would just miss certain things far too much. But maybe this experiment will make me change my mind in the long run. We'll see...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday bokeh

I thought the blurry tree looked kind cool. Sometimes photo mistakes are art in disguise.

You'd probably never be able to tell but this is a shot of the tree as well. Looks more like fireworks.

This is one of our new ornaments from the Scandinavian store in the mall. We bought a little box full of nifty straw ornaments like this. I hope having decorations like this on the tree will make up for the fact that we (the kids and I) prefer to have the Christmas tree up right away in December instead of waiting until the day before Christmas, which is tradition for Andreas. It is nice to be able to enjoy the glow from a cozy tree in the living room during the entire holiday season.

A popular photo during Christmas is one involving lots of wonderful "bokeh". There is speculation as to the proper way to pronounce bokeh. Even though I've read it's pronounced "bow - kay" as in a bouquet of flowers, I can't get past just calling it "bow - kuh". Anyway, bokeh refers to the pleasing, out of focus blur in a picture. In the picture above, the background lights from the Christmas tree provide bokeh in the form of large white circles.

I like the bokeh in this picture. Generally good bokeh results from a wide aperture. I think in this picture my aperture was at f/2.2. Holiday bokeh is stunning, isn't it?

I need to go play with my camera a little more.

nighty night

Right now, I am snugly warm in my bed. And it's only, like, 7:30. I've got icyhot and a heating pad on my back and Vick's vaporub on my chest. I'm gonna watch a movie on my laptop. The Family Man. It's a good holiday movie about what's important in life.

I did something awful to my back at the gym today. On the first exercise. Like it usually goes when I injure myself. I think that is because I don't warm up properly. Dang I can be impatient! Hanna gave me a good rub. It felt great and hurt at the same time.

I'm STILL battling a cold. Persistent little bugger too! Coughing like a 50 year smoker, phlegm that won't quit, and I've been having trouble breathing through my nose so much lately that I actually broke down and used.......nosespray! If you know me at all, you will know that I had a terrible (I mean TERRIBLE) addiction to nosespray for more than 10 years. I couldn't go anywhere without a bottle and if I did, I would panic. I would also panic when my bottle would get near empty and I didn't have a back up. I don't know how I ever lived like that. It's called rebound effect, and it's a real thing! They tell you not to use it for more than 3 days. You should definitely heed that warning, friends! Anyway, I am very fearful of getting hooked on it again so I never use it. But I did last night. One spray in each nostril, just so I could sleep.

Tonight was the Christmas party at the gym. I promised the girls we'd go. There was food, bouncy castles, face painting, music, door prizes, and Santa. Even though I felt horrible, we went. We had been there all of 5 minutes when Emma complained of a tummy ache and said she felt like barfing. Well, I don't like to take my chances with barfing in public so we agreed that it would be best if Andreas took her home. Good thing too because they barely got in the door and she barfed all over the floor. I am sad that she got sick but SO GLAD it didn't happen in the bouncy castle! Yikes, that would have been awful!

I don't know why I blog about uninteresting stuff like this. I guess I feel like I have trouble coming up with topics that are blog worthy and so I get on here and babble on about our incredibly dull lives. No, I shouldn't say that. I don't think my life is dull in a bad way. I'm glad we aren't a big part of the "rat race". We lead fairly subdued and relaxing lives, and that is just fine with us. It just doesn't make for very exciting blog posts.

Well, ok, I'm going to watch my movie now.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finding the perfect tree

We like to go out into lakes country to find our Christmas tree. Sometimes, we get our tree from the clinic parking lot just down the road. But it's a lot more fun and meaningful when we can all pile into the van, venture out into the 'wilderness' and cut down the perfect tree. Usually, we go to a tree farm by Cormorant lake. Friendly people. Beautiful variety of trees. And we pay less than half what we would pay in town for ANY tree we want! If we wanted the tallest, fullest tree there, still only $30. Win win.


Andreas was the one who spotted this gem. So full and beautiful.

Sawing away.
And who says I'm never in any pictures? See my shadow!

We could not have gone on a more beautiful day.


Emma was whipping the poor tree

It barely fit in the van. Lucky for us we have stow and go seating and can fold down any or all of the 4 seats in the back. You can't see her, but Eden is back there somewhere.

And the finished product. We all pitched in and decorated together. Andreas and I did the lights. Hanna and I did the beads and garland. And the girls all did the ornaments. I have really learned to let go of the "perfect" looking tree. Before, I used to be really anal when it came to how I decorated the tree. Only red and gold balls, specific ribbon an beads. I wanted it to look like a magazine picture. But I remember how excited I was to decorate the tree when I was a kid and decided that I can't take that joy away from my kids. So now, I let them have at it and put whatever they want on it. It may not look Pottery Barn perfect, but it's perfect in my eyes and in the eyes of my children.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmastime is here

I think I heard that Texas got snow. And, my aunt, who lives in New Mexico, said they got 7 inches of snow and everything basically shut down. Ok, when New Mexico and Texas have snow and North Dakota doesn't, something is weird in the universe.

This is as close as we are to snow - frost.

My mom keeps saying that she wished it would snow because she can't get into the Christmas spirit when everything is dull and brown. This is funny to me because someone as spiritual as my mom should have no problems getting into the spirit of Christmas. It's not about snow. Although, I do know what she means. I would like a white Christmas as well.

Christmastime is here!

"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23

And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people, Unto you is born this day a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.' Luke 2:11

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. 1 Peter 1:8

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. Luke 1:14

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

It's easy to lose sight of the meaning of Christmas amid all the ads and sales and gift buying hoopla in the media. I am trying this year to remember that Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. Even though we celebrate with pagan traditions, such as decorating a tree, which has nothing to do with Christianity. These traditions are what give us that cozy feeling we all want during the holiday season. We need to feed our senses with the sights and sounds and smells of Christmas. It brings us together. It reminds us to love, to give and to be thankful. It is a time to make resolutions and start over. Learn from our mistakes and become better people. A time of hope. A time of faith.

Wishing you a joyful peace-filled Christmas season!
(snow or not)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Losing sight of priorities is easy when you are constantly on the move

I read something I want to share with you:

"I recently listened to a mother rattle off the after-school schedule for her three children. This woman picked each of them up from school every day so that she could run them to swimming practices, chess matches, music and tennis lessons and Scouts. "We're usually out until seven or eight o'clock." she said. When I asked her how the boys ate dinner and did their homework, she told me that they usually eat while doing their homework. Often, this is late into the evening. I was alarmed by the image of a family so busy that they can't even sit down together for a relaxing meal.

We are a busy society. So busy, in fact, that we often forget what really matters in our lives. Why is it that so many of us feel we need to fill our lives with activities that keep us moving, but don't bring us happiness?" - taken from Positive Thinkers Club

This is exactly why I do not allow my children to sign up for every activity under the sun. I simply refuse to drive them all over town to different activities, every night of the week. It's just an added stress and rush that none of us need. It takes away from what little family time we have during the week. It's not worth it. Besides, when I get rushed and stressed, I get crabby and end up taking it out on the kids. I'd rather do a craft activity with them at home or snuggle up and read books to them or draw pictures. Or, just sit and laugh as they chase Lizzy around the house (or vice versa).

I prefer to have relaxing evenings and it is a MUST in this house for us to all sit down together to a family dinner. This is the way I was brought up and it is imperative that I teach my children the importance of this. Plus, kids need their rest too. They need down time. If I were to drag them all over town most nights, they would have to come home to a rushed dinner (probably not very healthy), an evening of homework before bed, and no family time. I figure they'll have their whole adult lives to be rushed and stressed, let them be kids and use their imaginations and creative play while they can. They will have a opportunity to play team sports when they get to middle school. Up until then, one activity each is plenty. So far, they seem to be surviving on that ;)

Many parents whisk their children off to practices and lessons and they become amazing people; talented, skilled and great athletes. Nothing wrong with that. But my kids are amazing people too. Talented. Skilled. And happy. That's my number one priority (yes, even more important that my health obsession). That my kids feel loved and happy. If I can accomplish that, I am happy too.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

early Christmas gift


One of my Christmas gifts from Eden. She decided that she'd give it to me a little early, considering I had a neck ache tonight. I personally love how she actually put an expiration date on it.
 "30 days only". Really?