24 February 2015

From the Brink - A Tale of Syrup and Showers and Psoriasis. Sort of.

I was sick all of last week. Like I didn't get out of bed for days except for when I thought it was absolutely necessary. Like to eat soup. And go to the doctor. [He declared sinus infection and bronchitis w/ a bit of rattle in my right lung - I opted out of the X-ray to officially confirm pneumonia.] While most of that time was spent sleeping, or in a weird state of delirium for the four days I was on steroids, I still had plenty of time to think.

I'll start with some confessions.

1. I like cheap syrup. Like Log Cabin. Or Mrs. Butterworth's. And when I'm in Oklahoma, Griffin's. I've tried the "good" stuff, you know, pure maple. But every time I put it in my mouth, I wish I was eating thick artificial maple flavored corn syrup.

2. I still commit one grievous sin against the environment. I take the longest showers known to man. Everyday.

Every. Single. Day.

I just exaggerated a bit. And the exaggeration is that I take a shower every day.

3. I don't always take a shower every day. I shower most days, but Every. Single. Day. is a lie. I'm sorry.

Back to 2. Every. Single. Day. could still be quite relevant because of the length of the showers when I do take them. They are long. And they get progressively hotter the longer they last. For as much as I am conscious of my environmental impact in so many other ways, I just cannot reach up to turn the water off. Here's the deal: I do my best thinking in the shower. I always have. Someday, when I come up with the solution for world peace, that idea will have come to me in the shower. I just need you to know that I am aware of it [my showering habit]. And I am doing nothing about it. To my credit [maybe], I only ever watered my lawn twice. You know, when I had a lawn.

Now that you know more about my diet, environmental sins, and hygiene, I feel like I can move on to "Firsts."

1. Today, for the very first time in my whole life, I bought foundation. The makeup kind. I feel like it was a right of passage. An almost 30-year-old American woman owns foundation that her mother-in-law (who sells Mary Kay) did not give her. I haven't worn any foundation since I was in college. [Yes, I was married and in college at the same time. For 3.5 years of it.] Why now? Why was today the day to take the plunge? I have psoriasis.

On my face.

It started as a little dry patch, like a flake, in August of 2013. It would flare a little and shrink again. Over and over and over
and over
and over
and over

And then after moving to L.A., "the" psoriasis has remained in a constant state of flare. While in Oklahoma, I briefly used a steroid cream to try and combat it, but it didn't do much. And long-term steroid use on skin is no bueno. So when it started constantly flaring, I knew I didn't want to go the steroid route. I started researching and came across the book Healing Psoriasis by John O. A. Pagano. He was a chiropractor who spent a great deal of his time treating patients with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. The book and his treatment plan had rave reviews, so I thought it couldn't hurt. The main part of the treatment plan is to cut out all nightshade vegetables. Do you know what nightshades are?

Nightshades are all of my favorite vegetables. Namely (though not exhaustive), tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. My favorite food is chips and salsa. This is a huge sacrifice. BUT! I know that it's working. I cut out nightshades somewhere around Christmas, not fully because of the holidays and all of the good food I couldn't resist. Still, I saw improvement. Then I totally floundered for about a week in January. We went to San Diego and had all kinds of Mexican food. Then I went to Oklahoma and had potatoes and tomatoes. The psoriasis totally flared. By flare I mean it blisters. I fall into the "Pustular" Psoriasis category. Don't google it. Everything you'll see is way worse than what my face looks like.

So in all actuality, I have really mild psoriasis. It just happens to be on my face. And while laying in bed last week, I decided I was just tired of seeing it everyday.

Every. Single. Day. [I wish this was the part where I was exaggerating.]

Now I have the option to cover it up if I choose. Obviously the main goal is to be rid of it, but until it is gone... Meh. You know how there are just some things you don't want to deal with? This is where I add the obligatory photos.

I took these two photos right this very second. (I've already washed my face and brushed my teeth because I thought I was going to bed, but I decided to blog instead. Luckies.) The psoriasis is especially flare-y right now. But certainly not as bad as it's ever been (it's not always so red). I wish I had a really good way to describe how much it has contracted since cutting out nightshades. (I credit the dark circles around my eyes with just having been sick and coughing all night long. You're welcome.) I'm just going to go ahead and toot my own horn that the rest of my skin looks pretty awesome. I give those points to rose hip oil, which I started using as part of my "Crush Psoriasis" routine.

This is the photo I sent to Jake earlier today after I got hooked up with some foundation. "Look, Jake! No psoriasis. Sort of."

I think I've written enough "firsts" tonight. I hope you'll be on the edge of your seat until I decide to reveal more from my random canon.

20 February 2015

Being Caught

In her book, Firstlight, Sue Monk Kidd tells this story:
Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, was quite good with a camera and often photographed the simple beauty of the Kentucky hills around his monastery.
One day he sent a photograph to a friend with the inscription: "The only known photograph of God." The color snapshot showed gentle hills under a vast blue sky. At the top of the picture, dominating the scene, was an immense sky hook, the kind used in construction to lift heavy objects. It looked like a gigantic fishhook suspended from heaven. 
Our internalized images of what God is like -- for instance, whether we see the Divine as distant or near, punitive or forgiving -- has an immense impact on the way we experience life. For Merton, the image of a hook dangling over the world reflected his experience of a God who is driven by love to capture the human heart. This has been my experience too. The mysterious hook resonated in me as a hunger, a restlessness, or a quiet emptiness. 
I have found joy in being caught. 
There are two great truths to me in these words. The first is that how we see God (or don't) has an immense impact on how we experience life. I think that even within similar belief systems, there are no two images of God that are exactly alike, and I think it was meant to be this way. Our experiences shape who God is to us, and we are shaped by that relationship. It is a continual process.

The second great truth found in this story is the joy in being caught. As my faith continues to evolve, not without many growing pains, I sometimes try to speculate what it will look like at the end of my life. Where will I be? What will I believe? Will my anchor remain cast near the shore of Mormonism or will I never let it down in one place for too long again?

I obviously don't know the answers to these questions, or the many others I have, but I'm okay with that. Despite the times I've felt immense peace at the thought that this could be all there is - one life, one existence, one chance to make the most of my time traveling around the sun - I feel an even greater pull to say that there is something more, and I like calling that something more God. I, too, feel joy in being caught. Pure, unapologetic joy at living a life where there will always be mysteries, and in the moments where grace reveals one unto me.

09 February 2015

Ancestors, a Meeting with Friends, and other random tidbits.

I read an article about John Dehlin the other day. Dehlin is the the founder of Mormon Stories Podcast, and is currently facing excommunication from the Mormon church. I've personally been trying to avoid this topic. Even writing this little blurb is proving to be a little difficult. Anyway, of all the things that I could have taken away from the article, the point that stood out most was that Dehlin is a 5th generation member of the Mormon church. Reading that made me really curious to see what generation I am in the long line of Mormons I come from.

So I got to work.

I spent a few hours looking through my family history at baptismal records. It got a little tricky because I found some death records in Salt Lake City and St. George, but the baptismal dates for some of those ancestors were posthumous. I can't imagine these people trekking across the wilderness to Utah without being committed to the church, but alas, there was no record of what I assume would have been their original baptismal date. Here's what I did find:

The earliest recorded baptism into the Mormon church in my family was Jacob Vernon Hamblin, my fourth-great grandfather. He was baptized in Ohio on 2 March 1832, just shy of the two year anniversary of the organization of the church. If I counted from him, I would be the 7th generation, but I dug a little deeper.

Jacob Vernon Hamblin

I found a set of sixth-great grandparents who were baptized in Illinois in 1838, one year before their deaths in 1839. They were Henry Mumford Jr. and Sarah Thompson. That makes me a 9th generation member of Mormonism. Through my family line (my cousins' children now have children), that makes 11 generations of Mormons.

It runs deep.

I was also interested in seeing how long my family has been in the White Mountain region in Arizona. The first ones I found who moved to the area were a set of fourth great-grandparents, Lorenzo Brown and Frances Crosby. There has been an unbroken line of relatives in that area since them, so that makes 9 generations of my family in the same area.

Lorenzo Brown

Frances Crosby Brown

Brown Home in Nutrioso, AZ

A Meeting with Friends

On Sunday, Jake and I went to our first Quaker service [Society of Friends]. The worship meeting started at 10 AM. It's a silent meeting. All members sit silently, and if anyone feels moved, they stand and share a a spiritual experience. Children were part of the whole meeting until 10:15, and then were released to their classes. There's something profoundly moving about silence. Especially silence among a group of people. I feel like I was too caught up in a new experience to really move inward. I was concentrating on the breath of those around me, on the comforting hum of the air conditioning when it was on, and the abrupt stillness when it switched off, the beauty in the simplicity of the space, the shaking hands of a member who stood to read a poem to honor a member of their congregation who had just had a stroke after battling cancer for five years. The poem is one of my favorites. All but one of the five who stood spoke of this member and how they were holding her up to the light.

Other Random Tidbits

We went to the grand opening celebration of the birth center I worked with for a few months after moving to Los Angeles. My girls had so much fun. It really was a lovely afternoon. I'm excited for all that's in-store for Birthwell.

Cora and Magnolia in the drum circle at Birthwell's Grand Opening

When leaving school today, I head someone say, "Magnolia and Cora's Mom!" I turned, and it was the girls' P.E. teacher. He came running over and said, "I just wanted to tell you how awesome your girls are. I mean, they're great. Magnolia is smart, like out-of-this-world smart." He went on to tell a story of the classes playing a game and Magnolia understanding a rule that the second graders were having trouble with.

Thanks, Coach Mike, for sharing a compliment about my girls, and for doing it in front of them.

04 February 2015

This Week's Menu

I get lots of questions about what we eat. Because we follow a vegan diet, I understand that people are naturally curious. I don't mind the questions because I love to talk about food. Not just talk about it, I love to make and eat good food. I wear the "Foodie" badge with pride. I must tell you a disclaimer, I say that I am 99.8% vegan.

Why 99.8%?

Simple. I like pie. And quite a few other sweet things. I leave room to indulge without worrying about maintaining a label.

A confession:
I have been super slacking in the cooking department. Before moving from Oklahoma to L.A., I was a regular weekly menu planner. I would select from new and old recipes to get a total of 5-7 meals for dinner, depending on what we had going on in a particular week. After I made my selections, I'd move on to making a grocery list based on the ingredients in the recipes. Of course I would add in staples like milk, bread, and things to snack on like fruit, veggies, nuts/seeds, um.... and something covered in chocolate.

I miss my weekly menu. It keeps me on my toes in a really good way. I'd like to start posting our meal plans here.

Without further ado...

Super Vegan Bowl with Parsley Cashew Pesto - Scalingbackblog.com

Mushroom Bourguignon - The Simple Veganista

Orzo Salad - Supermarket Vegan

Mashed Chickpea Salad - The Simple Veganista

Roasted Buddha Bowl - Oh She Glows

Rip's Sweet Potato Bowl - The Engine 2 Diet

Everyday Nourish Bowl - The Simple Veganista

31 January 2015

Ocean Beach

A couple of weeks ago, we went to San Diego for Kory's Marine graduation. We spent a bit of time at Ocean Beach, and it was perfect.

OB is special to us - When Cora was 3.5 months old, we road tripped from Oklahoma to San Diego so Jake could do some research for his thesis at UCSD. Cora and I spent most of that time at La Jolla while Jake was in the library, but we were staying in Point Loma, and I loved our evenings wandering down to Ocean Beach. It was so casual and "local." It was great to see both my babes there, and some of the photos capture exactly how it felt.

19 December 2014

Las Posadas

Tonight we celebrated Las Posadas at the girls' school. It was fun to be with the school community.

WAIT!!!! I can't write one more thing before I tell you what happened.

MAGNOLIA GOT HER CAST OFF!!! It happened this afternoon around 3:30. Exactly six weeks since she broke her leg. [This is Day 137 for anyone who's keeping track.] We're going to celebrate tomorrow by taking an extra long bubble bath.

Her ankle is pretty stiff, just like her knee was when she got out of her full cast. Her sweet teachers carried her around for the journey portion of Las Posadas.

[Magnolia and her teachers]

Before the program began, Cora was running around with her friends. They were all darling. During the program, each class sang a song. Magnolia's class learned Silent Night, and Cora's Away in a Manger. Everyone did a fantastic job. I love spirited children's voices.

This girl is alive.

15 December 2014


The last few Mondays of my life have been exceptionally good. I have no idea what makes them extra special. There's been a surge of momentum, of ideas, of something. :)

This morning I went to see Wild. I was going to go last night after my girls were in bed, but then I would have missed the Holiday Baking Championship Finale. And I just couldn't do that. Wild was really good and timely. I'm a great believer in "walking it out." This is an extreme version of that. I loved Laura Dern in this film. And the soundtrack. The music was so well placed and moved between characters' thoughts and well-known recordings seamlessly connecting memories to the present.

Before I went to see Wild, like when I was still in my jammies, I took the time to write down words that kept coming to me last night. It felt good. So many good things are lost because I don't write them down. Now if only I could figure out how to make a habit of it. Afterwards, I took a bath and read through part of a collection of poetry. Baths take longer, but they're so productive. Get clean AND read a good book.

My girls and I made sugar cookies after school. Sprinkles and sugar galore! We were using cookie cutters from a safari animal set, but I think we pulled off "Nativity" all right. There was a camel. And a donkey. But for real, imagine the manger scene with elephants and hippos, and a lion, and so on. 

I'm getting really excited for a break from school. We'll be in Arizona for most of this holiday. I'm really excited to see family and friends who I count as such. On that note, I ordered a rug today that I hope will get here before we leave! Cora brought home the sweetest gift for us! She made a Bible Stories Calendar at school. I'm going to love staring at one of her 12 pictures for a month at a time. The card she made brought me to tears. 

Tonight I was watching scenes from old movies, and listening to music that I love (old and new). I played No Envy, No Fear, and Jake asked what it was so I played it again. And then it happened. I got up and danced across the kitchen. Dot's floors were all wood, and perfectly slick and dance-able. I'm almost embarrassed to say how often I would slip on a pair of socks, turn up the music, and spin and glide across the floors. Our apartment is mostly carpet. I've danced around a bit, but nothing like at Dot. Tonight, I happened to be wearing tights, so when I got up, all conditions were perfect. And I found myself loving something about the flooring that I've spent the last 132 days loathing. It's still really ugly, moving in a way I love can't change that. 




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