21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 19: Random Act of Kindness #yogagirlchallenge

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Happy to support my friend’s project, 31 Days of Urban Agriculture, using her art to educate people about urban farming. Everybody eats food, so this is something everyone can benefit from learning about.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lindsaycurren/31-days-of-urban-agriculture to check out and support the project.

I’m especially interested because of all my issues with food allergies, I try to eat mostly a whole foods diet. I avoid processed foods as much as possible and like the least amount of additives possible in my foods. I’ve had so much food allergy testing and every time I have more positive results.

I am sensitive to/intolerant of:

gluten
corn/sugar
rice
oats
white potatoes and nightshade vegetables
tuna
chicken
beef
pork
walnuts
strawberries
lima beans

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 9: True Forgiveness #yogagirlchallenge

Forgiveness is today’s challenge, to let go of past grudges and hurts, to let go of blame, shame, and guilt. Forgiving others and ourselves is a powerful way of releasing negative energy and freeing ourselves from the clenches of the past. It’s a way of accepting things the way they are instead of being upset and wishing they were different.

Over the years, I feel that I’ve already done a lot of work in this area and have forgiven others who may have hurt me and have let go of any grudges I held against other people. I feel much more peaceful inside and willing to go with the flow of life. I’ve also forgiven myself for things I’ve done wrong and have stopped judging and criticizing myself.

Today, the person I need to forgive is myself-for eating foods that I know I can’t tolerate due to allergies/sensitivities.

These are dyshidrotic eczema blisters on my finger that I get as an allergic reaction to offending foods. They are painful, fluid filled blisters that itch intensely and pop open then crack and bleed as they split into fissures. This painful condition affects the feet and hands. I also get regular eczema (red, itchy patches) on my face, neck, and body as well as hives and a stomach ache for a while.

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This is what happens after just a few meals of no-no foods. If I continue to eat what I like it will get really bad. So I try every day every snack every meal to make the right choices. It’s a very restrictive diet (no grains, sugar, eggs, vinegar, nightshade vegetables) and most of the time I have a lot of self-discipline. But sometimes I mess up and then I pay the price for about a week or two. I won’t fall on the floor and die, but I will continue to get sicker and sicker if I don’t stop.

Click here to see more pictures and read an earlier post about my dyshidrotic eczema (before I changed my diet in may 2013. It used to be really bad!

It’s kind of a vicious cycle because I will eat really clean for a while and feel great. Then I will have a craving and think maybe I can handle a little bit. So I will eat something that’s off limits, and even though my mouth and my stomach are happy at the moment, the reaction happens every.single.time. You would think I would learn that no I can’t handle even a little bit!

I forgive myself for messing up a few times in the past week. It’s tough to have self discipline all the time every single day. My body is telling me it needs a clean diet to run properly. So I’m thankful I have figured out why I used to have so many symptoms and how to change my diet so I feel healthy and well. Just like falling off the Paddleboad during yoga class on the ocean, I will get back up and try again. Tomorrow’s a new day, and I can start again.

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I’m loving this challenge so far and trying to weave as many days together as possible. Did some yin yoga at home today as I felt super tired and needed some relaxation and restoration. I’ve been on time everywhere I’ve needed to go. Drank lemon water, walked my dogs, meditated before bed and in the morning. Cassidy’s educational fund grew even more, and I’ve been kind to everyone I’ve come into contact with.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

25 Things About Me

I’m flashing back today, looking back over some of the old notes I wrote on Facebook before I started blogging.  Found this list of 25 things about me and got a kick out of re-reading it and thought I would share with updates where necessary.

1.  Like my friend Eve who tagged me in this note, I have a genius IQ, but I knew it when I was a kid and resented the pressure to be an overachiever.
2.  I like beans….and I make a yummy bean salad.  Whatever I cook if I can throw in some beans I will. (Update-I no longer eat beans!  I’ve been following a mostly paleo diet since August (no grains, no dairy, no beans/legumes, no refined salt, sugars, or oils). 
3. I like to cook, and I am obsessed with eating healthy food like lean meats, lots of fruits and veggies, and whole grains. (Update-no more whole grains!  Was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity (click here to read the entry I wrote about it) in May and have been off most grains (except a little rice since August).
4.  I always wanted to be a wife and mother and never really knew what career to pursue when I was growing up.  Click here to read why.
5.  Because of #4, I went to three colleges, took two years off (one to work for GP and do a NOLS semester (click here to read about it) and the other to work as a cook and live in Telluride, CO), and changed my major twice (#1 French #2 Philosphy/Religion #3 Environmental Studies)….didn’t graduate until I was 25.

Telluride, CO from a gondola.

Telluride, CO from a gondola. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6.  My first ‘career’ was an environmental activist for Greenpeace in Washington DC.

Washington DC

Washington DC (Photo credit: eGuide Travel)

7.  I got my master’s degree in Education and became a teacher after my GP job got moved to Amsterdam;  I was a single mom so I didn’t want to go.
8.  When I was a teacher, I discovered a passion for math, and now that I am a stay home mom I love tutoring math because I can help students learn to love math.  Click here to read about my love affair with math.

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9.  I love to sleep and will sleep until noon if nobody wakes me up.  I also love being pampered like getting massages.
10.  I met my husband, Joe, at the gym when he was working there and going to school and I was his 12:30 appointment for personal training.  We started running together and the rest is history.  Even though he is a lawyer now, we still go to the gym every weekend and love exercising together.

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11.  I am lactose intolerant (like most Asian Americans).
12.  I am an extrovert and love to get together with friends, pot-luck style, with good food, drinks and conversation.
13. When I go out, my drink of choice is gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire) and my favorite shots are Jaegermeister and Tequila. (Update-no more gin or jaegermeister due to food allergies.  The only liquor I drink is Patron silver tequila).
14.  I drink wine (chardonnay) when I’m cooking and with dinner.
15. I am kind of a control freak and always am trying to avert danger and/or accidents, especially with my kids. Like we don’t let them play outside in the front yard without an adult and don’t even get me started on how hard it is to have a 15 yr. old who is about to date and drive etc. (Update-since I wrote this post, I wrote nineteen episodes of fiction. I realized this theme came up in my fiction writing. Click here to read my fiction episodes).
16.  I like heights and exposure, hence my affinity for climbing trees as a kid, my love for rock climbing and high mountains where the earth meets the sky.  When I stand on a cliff or overlook I get the urge to fly like a bird, but of course I don’t have wings so maybe I should take up hang gliding or something?

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Split Rock, WY 1989

17.  On the flip side, I am claustrophobic and I would really hate to go scuba diving or caving or anything like that.
18.  I am a big flirt, always have been, in fact I won ‘biggest flirt’ in 8th grade with Bill Schraa who ironically was also voted ‘best couple’ with his girlfriend.
19.  When I go shopping I am all about the sales and hardly ever will pay retail price.
20.  I manage all the money in our household and am good about paying our bills on time or early.
21. I correct people when they use bad grammar (I know that is annoying, but I can’t help it).
22.  When I am going through a hard time, I make music mixes full of songs that reflect whatever it is that’s going on.  Before CD‘s I made mixed tapes.
23.  I always try to complement people and tell them what I like about them (something I learned as a teacher when conferencing with parents).  There is always something nice you can say, no matter who it is.
24.  I spend alot of time on the computer.
25.  I give my kids ‘mommy homework’ if they don’t have any from school and make them do reading, writing, and math all summer (for about an hour a day, it’s not so bad) to keep them challenged.  Click here to read about summer learning.

Summer 2013 In Review

It’s been quite a summer. So much going on that I took a bit of a break from blogging for the past couple of weeks. Haven’t had as much time or energy to commit to it lately. But now that it’s the last day of summer, I’d like to take a few minutes to wrap everything up. Tomorrow, another school year starts, and there will be another major shift in our daily routines as a family.

One of the joys of being a stay home mom is having ‘time off’ to take care of the kids during the summers. Early mornings rushing to get to school on time turn into lazy mornings, sleeping late, and mostly unstructured days. The kids have activities, but it’s hardly stressful because there is nowhere else they have to be. I also structure learning into their days, but all in all we have a laid-back, relaxing time during the summers. Staying home with them and being with them all day in the summers also means I’m busy with them all day and taking care of all of their needs. So, it means a busier mommy with more to worry about.

My youngest is a joy. He is eight years old, starting third grade tomorrow. He is so easy-going. From the minute he wakes up, he usually has a great attitude and does whatever he is told or asked. He is still at that innocent age and has such a nice life with both parents who live with him and love him without measure. He has been taking swimming lessons and doing Taekwondo lessons over the summer as well as having private baseball lessons. My husband coaches his baseball team, so he also has lots of daddy time playing sports.

My middle daughter is thirteen years old and is starting eighth grade this year. While parenting a teenager is certainly a tough job, luckily I’ve done it once before. She spent the summer mostly dancing, attending intensive day camps as well as evening classes. After eight years of gymnastics, age 3-11, she switched to dance but was behind the other girls her age. After two years of training and practice, she officially made the Elite competition company at her dance studio this summer. We are super proud of her and recognize all the hard work she’s put into reaching her goal of becoming a competitive dancer.

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Oh yea, and she also dyed the ends of her hair hot pink again this summer (with my help).
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My oldest daughter is twenty and is starting fifteenth grade this year as a junior in college. She recently changed her major to business accounting, and this was her first summer staying at school during the summer, living, working, and taking classes. I took two trips to visit her there this summer, and she also came home for a week. How nice! When I was her age, I also lived and worked away from home, but I didn’t also stay and take classes, so it really was a new experience. Both weekends I was there, I had a blast, but I also had my first introduction to parenting an adult child. We moved her into her new apartment, and I helped her out with several other logistical aspects of her young adult life. It really made me realize how much time and energy I spend running other peoples’ lives. Just being away from the two little kids for the weekend left me with a feeling I wasn’t used to, and then of course, all the different ways of mothering an adult child were new experiences to me. I’ve never helped one of my kids move and decorate apartments, made a resume, or helped with the logistics involved with finding a job and living independently as an adult. She and her fellow classmates are living a lifestyle where they have almost everything provided for them, and all they have to worry about is themselves and their classes. It’s an amazing window of time on the verge of adulthood.

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My visits both made me reflect on my experiences as a twenty year old and on the kind of mother I am trying to be. I aim to be a different kind of mom than I had. I want my kids to be able to talk to me about anything going on in their lives. Kids are going to do what they want to anyway, so I would rather accept that and guide them than to hide my head in the sand and be an unapproachable parent. I would rather have open communication with my kids so I can try to help them navigate the waters of life. However, knowing what the kids are doing can also be quite stressful for moms. We worry about safety and well-being. We want our kids making safe, smart decisions that usually come from a lifetime of experience and a brain that is fully developed; two things that twenty year olds don’t possess. So we worry. Then we communicate and brainstorm solutions, so I think we are on the right track. I loved having the chances to get to know her friends and be part of her life for a few days!

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I’ve had a really rough summer with my food allergies. I got diagnosed with gluten sensitivity in May and have been off gluten three months now. But, I keep accidentally getting corn in my diet, ‘corn poisoning’ as I call it. I haven’t been diagnosed with a corn allergy, but I react and get sick every single time I have it, so I think allergy or not, I really need to completely eliminate it from my diet. This summer, it was a margarita (corn in the lemon/lime mixer), a gluten free pizza (corn in the dough) and a protein smoothie powder (xanthan gum – which is corn – used as an ingredient). Each time, I get sick for a couple of weeks, so put those three together and you can see that I’ve been feeling pretty sick all summer unfortunately. I’ve had such bad swelling and eczema that I finally saw my allergist the other day and got a steroid shot to make it all subside. When I have reactions to foods, my stomach hurts, I get joint and muscle pain, and I have a bad rash of eczema. So, it makes me really grumpy. Unfortunately, I’ve felt grumpy for a long time recently.

We did do some fun things too: we took our annual beach vacation in Destin, Florida. I’ve written about this place and the beach in general before. I love what the beach does to my soul. I wish we could live at the beach, but I’m thankful we get to take a yearly trip.

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I also went to some fun concerts. My husband and I saw Kid Rock, and my daughter (13) and I saw One Direction. Great times.

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Last week, we went to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science as a family. We bought a membership, so we can go back anytime we want to for the next year. There are also special events and other perks for members. I was fascinated by the architecture and impressed by all the interactive activities. I especially loved seeing the dinosaur bones, gems/minerals, and the human body exhibits. There were even slices of real people, one man and one woman, who had donated their bodies to science. They were embalmed, frozen, sliced and displayed in plastic with a light behind them. It was FASCINATING to say the least. We could see all the anatomical parts and compare the younger, healthier female to the older, less healthy male.

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I continued guitar lessons over the summer, and my son also started taking weekly lessons. We are learning “Carol of the Bells” to play together at Christmas. He loves the lessons and can’t wait to start rocking out! I am still working on improvising and have been working on a couple hard songs this summer: “Uncle John’s Band” by the Grateful Dead and “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin.

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Watching the MTV VMAs on the last night of summer. Mine was Miley Cyrus “Can’t Stop.” “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke was my second favorite.

What was your favorite song this summer? How was your summer?

Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease

Entero Lab Food Sensitivity Testing

After a lifetime of symptoms, years of elimination diets and a false negative blood test (in 2009), I’ve finally been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity after taking a stool test and gene test from enterolab.com Apparently, the stool tests are more sensitive than blood tests and picked up on my increased levels of antibodies in my gut. I also have a double copy of the genes for gluten sensitivity; that means one copy of the gene from each parent. Now that I have a firm diagnosis, it’s easier for me to follow a strict and permanent gluten-free diet.

I heard of this website and these tests from two doctors: my gynecologist and my chiropractor. Besides chronic pain and multiple surgeries as well as digestive and skin symptoms, my hormones also went out of whack. My chiropractor discovered that with applied kinesiology testing and recommended the gluten sensitivity test as well as getting my hormones tested through my gynecologist. I was pleasantly surprised when she recommended the same website for the same test. My thyroid, cortisol, and testosterone all were out of normal limits. The lab is overseen by an M.D. and after two doctors suggesting the tests to me, I felt confident in trying them. I went with Panel B (stool and gene testing for gluten sensitivity and celiac disease).

Luckily, I don’t have the genes for celiac disease, although the only way to really know if I’ve developed the disease is to have an endoscopy. In celiac disease, the villi in the intestines get broken down and then nutrients can’t be absorbed properly, leading to a whole host of other problems in the body. In the endoscopy, they biopsy a piece of the small intestine to see how much damage to the villi there is. I’m still considering getting one, but I’m not sure if the treatment is any different. Meaning, if I have celiac disease I’m pretty sure the treatment is just to stop eating gluten, which is the same treatment for gluten sensitivity.

I’ve completed about eight weeks of a gluten-free diet again after going off the wagon for about a year. In 2009, I started elimination diets and found that I react to wheat, corn/sugar, and eggs so I took them all out of my diet, lost twenty pounds and felt great. Then I got really frustrated not being able to eat like a normal person. I saw an allergist in the spring of 2012 for another opinion, and she told me to eat whatever I wanted and we would try to manage the symptoms. A year later in the spring of 2013, I had gained back all twenty pounds, felt swollen, bloated, rashy and sick. That’s when I found out my hormones were imbalanced and started seeing the chiropractor at a natural wellness center. About eight weeks ago, I started seeing a dietician also because I knew I needed to clean up my diet again, but I needed help in being more prepared with “clean” foods. When I’m not prepared, I reach for the wrong foods and then get sick. She told me she thought I sounded like a classic case of celiac disease and that I should start immediately eliminating gluten from my diet again. A few weeks later, I got the positive test results.

It’s interesting because the dietician doesn’t think corn is a common allergy and told me to try some of the gluten-free products that contain corn and sugar to see what would happen. Over these past eight weeks, I’ve had some gluten-free cookies and pizza crusts, some corn chips and corn tortillas with Mexican foods. Every time, I get bloated and sick. So, when I followed up with her recently, she told me to go gluten-free, corn-free, and egg-free for six months and then try reintroducing corn and egg one at a time. There is a possibility there has been so much damage in my gut that I can’t digest correctly and over time it might heal enough to where I could tolerate some of those foods again. If I can ever eat corn and eggs again, it will open up a whole lot more choices of foods for me.

The hardest part for me is when I’m traveling (like this week, I’ve been on a beach vacation) or just eating out in general. It’s amazing how many foods have gluten and corn and eggs. I have to be very selective and ask for food that is PLAIN! No sauces, no marinades, no spices, and that means lots of salads, grilled chicken, burgers with no buns, rice, and potatoes (whole, not mashed). It gets boring at times, and yes it is very frustrating not to be able to eat what the rest of my family eats.

I’m considering ordering the test for corn allergy (along with chicken, potatoes and other nightshades) but since it is an expensive test, for now I am just going to avoid corn since there is a clear pattern of gastric distress every time I eat it. Allergy or intolerance, I know it doesn’t agree with me. Since sugar is in the corn family, many people who react to corn also react to sugar, and I seem to fall in that category. There is no protein in sugar, so it’s more of an intolerance than allergy. But think lactose intolerance (I have that too), the symptoms are the same. For some reason I don’t process sugars right.

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, I highly recommend you visit the website link above and order the tests for yourself. They will send your results to your doctor, who can then help you interpret and understand the results and advise you further.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 29 Something New

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This is a picture of a new drink I discovered at Chili’s. It’s a Patron Margarita with just lime juice and agave nectar (without the Grand Marnier). I don’t usually drink margaritas because I don’t care for the sticky-sweet high fructose corn syrup sweetened lemon/lime mixers that are found so frequently in stores and restaurants. A friend of mine who is also watching her sugar intake (I have an intolerance) calls these types of drinks “skinny” margaritas and first turned me on to the fact that bars offer them. I had previously given up on drinking bar drinks because of all my allergies/intolerances and was sticking with white wine, Chardonnay. However, it does get a little boring to only drink wine, so it made me very happy to find this new drink while visiting my daughter at college.

Because I have a gluten sensitivity, I don’t drink beer or liquors distilled through wheat like whiskey. Vodka and gin are also distilled through grains, often using corn, which I also have a sensitivity too. I’ve heard of some potato vodkas, but I’m not savvy to which brands they are, and it’s just easier to steer clear of them than it is to experiment and get sick because I drank the wrong thing. Tequila comes from the agave plant, so it’s the one liquor I know it’s ok to drink occasionally. I like shots of tequila, but I’m not sure they like me. They are so strong, and I usually get a bit crazy and do things that I will regret the next day. The skinny margarita with just tequila, lime juice, and agave is a great new option for me (I just have to be careful there isn’t corn in the lime juice).

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Food Allergies

A few of my friends have asked me for information regarding food allergies. So, I wanted to blog about it to let everybody know everything that I know. I have spent years figuring out what I’m allergic to and how to avoid the allergens.

First of all, I discovered my food allergies because of my eczema. I get really bad eczema on my lips, cheeks, eyes, forehead, neck, elbows, and knees. I have been through all the testing available to humankind and found out that food allergy testing is unreliable. There are false positives and false negatives all the time. So why bother with testing? That is the topic of another blog post. Today’s post will focus on what to do next. So the testing says you aren’t allergic to foods, but you still get eczema. Itching, painful eczema is nobody’s friend, and it’s time you do something about it!

The top five allergens are wheat, corn, soy, eggs, and yeast (in no particular order). To determine if you are allergic to one of these foods, you have to take one at a time and eliminate it from your diet for two weeks. See if there are any changes in your symptoms. I get eczema and I also get a belly ache. I started with wheat and then went to corn and then to yeast. I am allergic to all three. When I have any, I get a bad belly ache and a bad rash that lasts for a few days. When I leave them alone, my rashes subside.

OK, so I’ve found the culprits, now what? I have to eliminate these things from my diet completely. That is easier said than done in today’s food market. So many things are pre processed. If they are pre processed you can pretty much cross them off your list. Corn and wheat hide under other synonyms like maltodextrin, modified food starch, xanthan gum, dextrose etc. You have to eat whole, real foods. I will follow up with a list of whole foods and meal plans you can follow.

my kids and my food allergy update

I woke up late this morning (love sleeping in on the weekends) and cutie pie Thomas announced to me that today he has a date. When I asked with whom, he informed me his pillow (my king sized pillow that he always steals and he decided to draw a happy face on)…and not only is it a date..they are also getting married! As a consolation, he told me I could be his second wife. Nice of him to include me.

Zoe helped Joe with the dishes this morning. She is pretty good at emptying the dishwasher (Sierra’s job) but doesn’t like to load it. With Sierra being gone all week, we’ve needed some extra help getting all the chores done. I took Zoe to get a haircut yesterday to get it out of the way before my surgery (I found out from the dr. he doesn’t want me to drive for six weeks – ugh) and before school starts in a few weeks.

Sierra comes home in two days…I miss her tons but I get it that she needs to spend time w/ her dad and grandparents. I have to share.

OK, now for my food allergy updates. The blood tests all came back negative, just like the skin tests a few years ago. It just goes to show they are not reliable (which the food allergist explained to me after charging me $350 for the skin testing). I don’t know about the gluten intolerance but I do know that I get a rash whenever I mess up and have any wheat or corn products. So I will stick with eliminating them from my diet despite the test results. Just the other night, Joe was trying to be helpful and picked up a yummy rotisserie chicken for dinner. He put it in a brown rice tortilla w/ some lettuce and tomato and cheese and he forgot about mayo having corn syrup and put mayo on it too! I just can’t seem to escape it. It seems like I am always messing up and having a little somehow. It takes a few days for the rashes to go down.