Thursday, February 26, 2009

Becoming a student

After meeting with Dr. Jones, my new naturopath, the next important task in a full evaluation and diagnosis of my health condition was a blood draw. The results of the blood panel translated into "you are over-worked, under-paid and over-tired." Both Dr. Jones and I had a good laugh... because, yes, that is obvious and requires little knowledge of medicine to identify.

Some of the specifics:

  • Blood sugar, white blood cells, calcium, thyroid all are within acceptable levels.
  • Vitamin D fit into the lab's acceptable levels, but Dr. Jones and her colleagues have higher standards. Considering the angle of the sun in Portland, we are only able to get optimal vitamin D from the sun between July 5 and August 5. My level was 42. The local docs hope for 50 or higher.
  • The level for B12 is right at the level of sufficient.
  • I am lacking in Zinc.
  • My adrenals are in a hyper state. This means that I am working on pure adrenaline all the time. She said that this helps to explain why I tend to be snappy. If adrenals were lacking, I just wouldn't care!

I am amazed at how the report from my blood tests can already paint a picture of what I am experiencing. I don't know that I have ever really trusted myself to understand myself and my body, that is a job for those who have spent years in medical school.

I am becoming a student. I can understand my own body and I can do something to change as needed.

Dr. Jones is coming along side me and teaching me, and I am eager to learn.

She has a blog where she posted some interesting information about how to find the right vitamins and supplements. She helped me to identify that the multi-vitamin I was taking had a less potent form of Vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol), and a less potent form of Vitamin D (ergocalciferol ), and Calcium Carbonate and Zinc Oxide are difficult for the body to absorb.

She also shared with me about how the standard Anti-depressants work ( Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, etc) in a way that we should all know about! In our brains, we have the chemical, serotonin, that helps us process and deal with stress. The serotonin sits in store houses and is released into the brain, one dose at a time. A general dose of serotonin lasts about 15 minutes. The prescription anti-depressants stretch out the serotonin and make it last longer, like 60 minutes, but does not actually give you any more serotonin. The supplement that I have been taking, 5-HTP, is an amino acid, which the body uses to convert into additional serotonin for those storehouses. Do you see the difference? I took an anti-depressant in the past and was under the assumption that it was increasing the serotonin, which does not necessarily happen.

I feel smarter today than I was yesterday. I am more aware of the workings of my body. I know what I need to do to improve.

*Just in case there is any question, I am not a medical expert, and all of my references to Dr. Carrie Jones are general, and not-exact quotes. I hope from these posts you will be encouraged to become informed and empowered to learn more about your own body, and find a great naturopath to be a teacher.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ready or not, here comes the big brother

I am so impressed with Noah. His heart is soft and gentle. He even thinks to ask about things he can do to help, which I suspect, is not normal for a typical 7 year old boy.

This afternoon, he quit playing Wii 15 minutes before his time limit, turned off the TV and asked if he could take Maggy outside to play. (the other two kids were napping, and Maggy had taken an early nap). He was excited and prepared to hold her hand as she navigated the uneven grass, keeping her from harm and the edge of the sidewalk. She loved being outside and walking around in her mud boots.

He helped her over to a halved log that our neighbor has in her garden, primarily for the purpose of my kids sitting pleasures. He grabbed some sticks and encouraged her to believe that they were in a row boat on the ocean, rowing along like Captain Jack Sparrow.

My heart is stirred at the loving compassion from a young boy for his almost helpless and needy younger sister.

Then my heart was stirred for a whole other reason...

While they sat in the garden, a group of 5 kids errupted from the front door of the house across the street. The people that live there moved in back in the fall, but we have yet to really become acquainted, other than a brief introduction to their son and his friends on Halloween. These kids, ranging in age from probably 4 to 10, had nerf dart guns and light sabers and were having a grand time, chasing, jabbing and shooting at each other.

I saw both my children's attention directed fully at the observation of these nieghborhood kids. I came out to Noah and suggested, that, if he wanted to, he could ask to join them. I'd take Maggy inside and he could just go talk to them. After a few moments of thought, and I'm guessing, nervousness, he decided he did want to approach them. I was slowly walking with Maggy to the house when I heard him ask.

My heart sunk as I saw a hesitation in the oldest boy, whom Noah had approached. A quick suggestion from Mom"He's got a light saber inside he could get..?"

"YEAH! Go get it! You can be on our team!"

The only instruction I gave was that he was not to go into anyone's house with out asking me first. Beyond that, I had to release him to this social reality and couldn't interfere any further, because I didn't want myself to. I know he is ready, and I know he's old enough to handle independent play. I am confident in the values and standards that have been ingrained in his mind and heart.

Yet, my heart had a heavy joy in today. This is where we are headed. Parenting will always be about teaching, preparing, encouraging, practicing and then releasing, just a little bit at a time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Potty Talk -II

I have been meaning to come back to this for several month. Although late, it was not forgotten.

Small warning: if you have not read the previous post, be prepared for excessive occurrences of the word "poop"

In December, I shared about the struggle of a never-ending diaper rash.

Thanks is due to all of the loved ones who prayed. There was a 3 week period right after this post, during which time, Maggy inexplicably pooped less allowing her rash to heal. I didn't do anything to try to change anything that would have made a difference at that point, other than asking for prayer. And it was just the hiatus we needed to get through Christmas and visitors, to a point where changes could be made.

Just when I was beginning to think that our struggles could be really gone, 4 poopies in one day caught my attention. Beginning in January, Maggy started drinking rice milk instead of whole milk, and for a period of time, received a limited amount of wheat and other dairy products. She did start eating more fruit. And oddly enough, she pooped less. The doctors had been telling us all this time, that some children just have sensitive skin and, for some, pooping 5 times a day is normal. And that the answer was buckets of barrier creams and lotions and no fruit. When I asked about the possibility of dietary issues, the idea was not even considered. Clearly, these doctors were wrong.

So we are starting to see hope, and have been able to provide her (and her concerned mother) with some relief. She is still prone to frequent poops and sensitive skin. There is still more to be discovered and resolved, and we are still looking for the right doctor to help us with it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Depression update

The feedback I have gotten about my Long time, no talk post has brought me great joy.
  • People have written me with wonderful encouragement and love that makes me smile.
  • I know that people are sincerely lifting me to the Lord in prayer, He is so faithful and loving.
  • Others are sharing their experiences.
I think it is time for an update.

I am feeling so much better. Not perfect. Not completely out of the woods, but so much better.

Knowledge is power

The first step in fixing
your problem is admitting
you have a problem

Satan's power is in dark,
hidden places. Bring
yourself into the LIGHT.

I give God glory, I do believe that most of this transition is a result of fervent and loving prayers. I also believe that as a result of those prayers, I have found a wonderful ND and a natural supplement that is balancing my life.

With in the first four days of taking the 50 mg of Natrol 5-HTP, I began to find some clarity and greater patience with my children. I am still prone to emotional outbursts and short tempers with my children, but these occurrences are become less frequent.

I have began to find joy in creative activities. Even making dinner, on some nights, can feel like pulling together a piece of art work. A sewing project gets done, instead of just sitting in front of me, at my desk, but never getting worked on.

And the Lord is working in fantastic ways to change my love for Him and my heart as a whole. Our church did a 24 hour fast last week, during which time I was also preparing to accompany worship on the piano for a women's meeting. I am finding a new heart for worship, and, although it is strange to me, new fingers on the keyboard, to worship. My body may not be healed and balanced, but my heart is on my Savior, who provides and sustains all of me. :-)

I know that there are many people who will suffer with depression and its affects for many years and much more severely than I have and am experiencing. I hope that my telling would not seem to make light of any situation or symptoms. I can't help but feel that by my sharing, others can feel free to release, share and realize what it is they are going through. It was an incredible blessing to realize what it was my body was experiencing. Decidedly, I now know what is happening and refuse to feel helpless, and will make an effort to change it. Hopefully, others will begin to share, whether in blogland, to a trusted group, or simply one on one with loving friends. This is not something we should be ashamed of. But once aware, we do not have to live with the effects of depression. There are things that can be done. For some who have struggled with depression for a long time, even admitting that might be difficult. ... but it is the first step.

If you need wisdom--if you want to know what God wants you to do--ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.
James 1:3

Monday, February 16, 2009

I can't find it...

I want to start this post with a disclaimer. I would love to be one of those parents who can write toddler babble in such a ways as to accurately portray the inaccurate pronunciation of 2 and 3 year old's. I think it is adorable. Yet, I think that I have worked so hard to come to a place where I understand what my children are saying (where others would not) that I can't hear anything beyond the actual intended communication. That being said, imagine Zak's part in 3 year old toddler babble:

Zak: I think if we got a flash light and hung it up there, we could go and sing happy birthday and that'd be a lot of fun, and that is what we should do.

Mom: I love your brain buddy.

(strange look from Zak, as to say "huh?")

Mom: Zak, where is your brain?

Zak: I can't find it!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


My dad is good at sending funny and cute forwards that make me smile. The following is one such email. I need to make a note to myself to have Noah do this book report. It is really clever, so much so, I wonder if it is really written by a child. But then again, it might just be too clever to have been written by an adult. Enjoy.

Through the eyes of a child:

The Children's Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did.

Then God made the world.

He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden.....Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.

Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.

There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.

Jesus also had twelve opossums.

The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Long time, no talk

When I was in Indian Princesses as a little girl, my father's Indian name was "Towering Pines" - he is 6' 4", and especially to a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds, that's REALLY tall. My name - "Babbling Brook"- and where do you think that came from?

Yes, I was that incessant child that barely seemed to take a breath, never allowing much of a response from anyone, I was always talking. I was so young and knew so little of the world, yet, I still found so much that needed to be discussed.

This trait was not to be lost in my youth. Through the school years, I was either getting myself in trouble for talking when I should have been paying attention to the teacher, or, I would be the one to answer all of the teacher's questions, and sometimes both in the same classes. When high school English took to class debate, I was generally the first to jump in, get heard and was determined to be declared the winner.

My first real job out of college was running a sales office for Cutco, which meant as a manager, it was my job to tell other people how to talk to other people (even better than just talking myself). And as a member of many-a small church groups and bible studies, when discussion time roles around and the first question is posed, generally every one else remains quiet and shifts their eyes on me.

I wonder sometimes if I have had a tendancy to talk to much. But on the other hand, I have been told by several individuals that they enjoy listening to me.

So it is strange to me, when my conversation-ability hits a dry streak. It seems that as of late, not only do I not have alot to say, but more so, I have a hard time saying things. Even with my special gal-pals, with whom I could generally spend hours upon days and never run out of things to discuss. I realized today, that this could be another symptom of the depression that I seem to be experiencing.

I have hemmed and hawed about whether or not to put this often-privately held matter in a public forum such as this blog. I decided that by sharing it, I would be able to journal my thoughts and experiences, as well as providing a testimony for others who may experience some or all of the same symptoms. You see, I've been through this before...

... I was 18, my mother had passed away only 6 months earlier and I was in my first year at college, a mere 300 miles from home. As winter set in, I had a complete falling out with my 3 roommates during finals that resulted in an hour long screaming match and, ultimately, my finding of another room, by myself. I had more than a full load with a full time boyfriend, work study, band, choir, flute choir, voice and flute lessons, sorority rush, normal classes and Calculus with an EVIL professor bent on failing as much of the class as possible. The school doctor was seeing me regularly enough for various illnesses and infections that he started to hone in on some of the other things that were going on. He and the school therapist provided me with an education. The brain naturally produces a hormone called seratonin, which is what helps us to deal with stress. I was clearly overloaded and over stressed. I started taking Zoloft, went to the therapist for counciling once a week, and started to improve.

6 month later, I felt equipped and ready to stop taking the medicine. I followed the recommended weaning process, making a slow and gradual reduction of the dose until I could stop taking it all together. During this time I became unexplainably ill. My poor father had to ask me the dreaded question.."could you be pregnant?" And it was even harder for me to answer him with a ..." I don't think so!" Maybe I had developed ulcers. Eventually we realized that it was the withdrawal from the Zoloft that was causing this sickness. I was glad to be past it, and would hope not have to experience that again.

So here we are, in the present time, and I'm really not feeling myself. What I am experiencing?
  • I can't focus, and consequently, find myself a huge to-do list, that just keeps getting longer and never are any of my tasks even getting started.
  • I will have a though of something I need to do, or something I want to say, but as I get up to do it, or start to say it, I loose what "it" was.
  • I have a very short fuse, especially with my children. But since I have been lacking in motivation or energy lately, I am not providing them with the guidance they need, and then I find myself upset that they aren't doing what it is that I didn't instruct them to do.
  • I am emotional and could cry at the drop of a hat, receipt of a silly email, or viewing of a rediculous commercial. (I REALLY don't like that)
  • As I said before, my conversation-ability has been suffering. I struggle to contribute thoughts, and if I do have a thought, rarely am I able to effectively communicate as I intend. I have even found myself saying things in such a way that my meaning is completely turned around, and I fear that I am risking offenses. Yet, somewhat feeling as if I can't really help it.
  • I am confident of God's love surrounding me through this time. My faith is much stronger than it was when I was 18, and God's works of grace have been so evident in my life in these last 13 years. My body and emotions, and even my mind may be shaken, but God will not.

What am I doing about it?

  • I met with a new Naturopath yesterday. I am scheduled to get blood work done, which will help to evaluate if there is a defficiency that could be causing some of these issues. I suspect that I am lacking in vitamin D. She is advising me to suppliment with Fish Oil, Probiotics and 5-HTP (a natural seratonin booster) to begin with.
  • I am aware that this is what is happening to me. Although awareness does not stop me from blowing up at the kids (I wish it were that easy), it does keep the outbursts in check. It also allows my darling, fantastic, wonderful, heroic husband to know when he needs to step in, so I can back away for a few minutes.
  • As much as I am able, I would like to get out of the house at least once a day. Tonight, I took Dex (our dog) for a 15 minute walk around the block, by myself. And that does help.
  • I am going to try to make my bed time more consistent, and I will attempt to avoid hitting snooze. I haven't accomplished this yet.
  • I am sharing and I am asking for prayer. I am determined not to keep this to myself or to go through it by myself.

As a culture, with the lifestyles we embrace and the foods we eat, more and more men and women are finding themselves in this same boat. It is easy to write off the symptoms as part of life to be tolerated. But it doesn't have to be that way. I could easy say that all this symptoms would be expected for anyone in my situation, with 4 kids under 8 and homeschooling. But I know that this is not who I am, nor is this how I will live. We will find a way to make a change in me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hannah's first hair cut

I have been contemplating giving Hannah a haircut for a while. She has such beautiful long curls. What if the curls went away with a cut? But what if they sprung up tighter with less weight? There is only one way to know. With the difficult snarls and tangles at the end of her locks, it was time for a trim.

I had only planned on trimming the ends.

It ended up being more like 3-4 inches. And yes, of course I saved the clippings for the scrapbook.

The curls didn't go away, nor did they spring up.

I was thinking the other day how we always seem to hope for what it is we don't have. From an early age, I always thought I would have loved to have curly hair. The other day I heard someone complaining that they would have preferred to have straight hair, instead of the curly that they naturally have. This is natural, and we all seem to do it.

I hope to instill in my children a contentment and joy with the beauty that God has given them. Just a thought I had, admidst all this hair talk. I hope that Hannah loves her curly hair because it is what God gave her. I hope Maggy loves her straight hair because it is what God gave her. I hope that Noah loves his long legs, that cause his pants to go short all too quickly, because it is what God gave him. I hope that Zak loves the size he is (which probably makes him a better climber) because it is how God created him.

Monday, February 2, 2009

the violinist

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin on a cold December morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that a thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by before a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace, stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman, without stopping, threw the money into his violin case.

A few minutes later, a man listened to his playing for a moment, looked at his watch and walked on. Clearly he was late for work.

The person who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother dragged him along and the child walked on while turning his head from time to time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes that the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk on. He collected $32.

No one took notice when he finished playing. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew that the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the world's finest musicians. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each.

This is a true story.

Joshua Bell's "concert" incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post newspaper as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to a virtuoso playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?