Easter weekend 2016

I always look forward to Easter for months, mostly because it signifies the beginning of spring and spring is hands down my favorite season. For the past two years I think, I've observed Lent in some capacity which is a relatively new experience for me and I've realized it makes Easter much more special and meaningful. Last year Deric and I gave up extra sugar and this year, Whole30 was kind of our Lent (but ended up being a major distraction, unfortunately). Still though, sacrificing in some way makes Easter something to really really look forward to-- both on a spiritual level and a chocolate level. ;)

I feel like this year we celebrated Easter all weekend long rather than just on Sunday. We didn't plan to make the whole weekend anything special, but the weekend began on Thursday night with the Seder supper at church. Its one of my favorite traditions and each year I worry if Jake will make it through a rather long dinner, but he's always done great. This year he got to drink the juice with us and break the crackers, and I love seeing his involvement in such a time-honored tradition.

On Friday Jake and I used plastic eggs to paint (for a whole five minutes, but you know). Later we went on a family date to a nearby restaurant and sat outside enjoying the sunny and warm weather. It wasn't anything too fancy but just marking it as a 'family date' (plus the gorgeous weather) made it more special.

We dyed eggs on Saturday morning which was quite the adventure and involved a million mini heart attacks on my part each time Jake narrowly missed dumping dye all over the place. But he had a good time and really got into trying different colors on the eggs and combining the colors as well.

That afternoon, we had the Easter egg hunt at church. I love that the egg hunt is actually the last part of the event and the majority of the time is spent helping the kids interact with the resurrection story in some way. We had ribs cooking away in the crockpot all day so dinner on Saturday was exceptional and easy, my favorite kind of dinner!

^showing me his basket

On Sunday morning, we all woke up nice and early with Jake. I pulled him into bed with us and to give myself a few extra minutes before starting the day, we watched the Bible for Kids app on my phone. It narrates a story from the Bible and the kids can touch various things on the screen to make people move or talk. We listened to the story of Jesus' death and then the Resurrection. In that story, Jake could touch the stone and roll it in front of the tomb and as I talked to him on the way home from lunch, I could tell that it helped solidify his understanding of that part of the story.

Speaking of, Jake was telling me about Jesus dying on the cross while we were winding down for his nap and he started it by saying, "Jesus died on the cross. Yeah and he took off his pants!" So I'm guessing that at some point he saw a picture of Jesus wearing just the loincloth deal?? Shortly after this little tidbit, he told me he was going to sing the song about Jesus on the cross. He's been really into songs lately but usually changes the lyrics to include trucks or whatnot, so I was definitely interested to hear his song. He starts to sing to the tune of Jesus Loves Me but instead of singing the lyrics, his version went: "Jesus loves dying on the crossssss..." I laughed out loud, and still do each time we talk about it. I'm pretty sure Jesus did not enjoy dying on the cross, but he does love you buddy. ;)

Anyways, church on Sunday was followed by lunch with plenty of friends and a small egg hunt for the kids. Jake got to jump on their trampoline with some big kids and had the time of his life. After a delicious lunch we all napped hard, woke up for a simple dinner and then gave Jake his Easter basket from us. Bubble bath, fresh chalk for the summer and a giant jar of bubbles sets us up well for a fun spring and summer, and we headed right outside to break in the chalk and bubbles on the driveway.

Soon after, Sarah and Joel got here and will be with us for the week! My parents are on their way today so the fun is gonna last all week around here. Bring on the cousin and grandparent love!


Whole30 wrap up + a plot twist

Tomorrow is the last day of Whole30 for this household. Man, was that a long month! ;) Deric still has about a week of reintroduction to do, but the hardest part is over. Looking back, I'm proud of myself and of Deric for disciplining ourselves enough to stick to it. It was quite the experiment but I am honest to goodness so glad that its complete.

Overall, unfortunately it was not a good experience for me. Deric didn't really enjoy it either, for some of the same reasons as me (I'll get to that in a sec). He's pretty sure he lost around ten pounds and I can tell. I actually noticed before he did so the other day at one of my doctor appointments, he snuck on the scale after I did to confirm my suspicions. Ha! 

As for my experience, I didn't reap any of the benefits that originally motivated me to try Whole30 in the first place: increased energy and relief from chronic constipation (I know that's TMI, but if you've been pregnant you know how it goes..). (I'll also refer to it as 'digestion' from here on out so as not to be totally gross.) To be fair to Whole30 however, I only completed the first six days without dairy. On day six I talked to my doctor and she asked me to keep some dairy in my diet for the calcium. So I added milk and cheese back in, as those two are the only dairy items without added sugar. For the next two weeks, my digestion actually got much worse. Dairy and bread are the two main culprits for slow digestion so I assumed that the one week without dairy allowed my system to heal at least a little and then adding dairy back in sent it a little crazy again. It was a miserable few weeks, whatever the reasoning. I stuck to Whole30's guidelines in every other way during this time and did experience more stable energy levels throughout the day, most noticeably during the afternoon. More often than not, I would nap while Jake napped but I went a week or so without needing to nap at this point. 

Twelve days into Whole30, I had to take the glucose tolerance test because I was 28 weeks along. There was no way around it and so I did the test, experienced a sugar headache the next day and erratic sleep for two nights, and was back to normal a day or so later. And then the doctor called and told me I failed the test, so on day 15 I had to take the three hour glucose test. I just hoped that the major influxes of sugar wouldn't totally set back my hard-earned progress, as halfway through the program is when the 'tiger blood' phase begins: when your energy is up, your system is functioning at its highest capability, and you're feeling great. I never really felt like I could take on the world at this point (and neither did Deric), but I'll blame it on pregnancy for myself. 

Around the third week of Whole30, my previously stable energy levels totally dropped off. I'd sit on the couch and feel like I couldn't even lift my arms. I woke up in the morning feeling like I'd been run over, even after going to bed earlier than normal. I figured it must be a growth spurt for the baby or something, but then the doctor called and said I'd failed the three hour glucose test. I was therefore diagnosed with gestational diabetes and this past Wednesday, we went to the doctor for a crash course in treating diabetes. Turns out, that was definitely the cause of my low, low energy. Maintaining a consistent amount of carbohydrates in your system is crucial for stabilizing blood sugar and on Whole30, I ate very little carbs: only those in potatoes (which I had maybe 4-5 times each week) and in fruit. I also realized around this time that eggs and meat can also contribute to slow digestion (yep, still dealing with that at this point) and because of Whole30, I'd had eggs and meat every single morning for breakfast--something I had maybe once a week for breakfast prior to this. So the upswing in iron from eggs and meat weren't helping my digestion, and the lack of carbs was killing my blood sugar. 

At this point, I quit Whole30. With gestational diabetes, it was no longer safe to eliminate so many carbs. I didn't reintroduce dairy, grains or gluten according to the Whole30 guidelines (which are structured so that you can really pay attention to how each food group affects your system), but rather I watched my portions and ate what I needed to to maintain blood sugar. And so far, I've been fine on that front. My digestion has actually improved in the last few days as well. I attribute that improvement to the reintroduction of oatmeal (good source of fiber) and Greek yogurt (good for probiotics) and elimination of eggs for breakfast, at least for a week or so. Since my appointment on Wednesday, I've been keeping a food journal and testing blood sugar four times a day and am well within the parameters set for gestational diabetes. Things are looking up.

All of my wonderful pregnancy issues aside: towards the third week of Whole30 (before we knew about the diabetes) Deric and I both were so mentally exhausted from Whole30. While we appreciated the discipline of the program, it had become too obsessive for us. Whole30 is supposed to help eliminate cravings for junk food, but Deric and I both started to obsess over the foods we couldn't wait to have when we were finished. (Salty snacks and Reese's for him; anything bread related for me). Whole30 definitely got in the way of our social life for two reasons: 1) we had to be pretty picky about restaurants (as mentioned in my last post about all this) and 2) we were spending so much on groceries that it wasn't worth it to spend money on eating out when all we could eat at restaurants was grilled chicken on salad. (I realize there are plenty of other things to do with friends but in our area, eating out is the most popular option. It is what it is.) While we felt like we were becoming obsessive about the foods we couldn't have, we were also becoming obsessive about food in general. I was at the grocery store probably every other day, plus I spent so much more time in the kitchen for meal prep that these major time sucks started to really interfere with our daily routine. And the cherry on top: I just tallied up our grocery bill for the last thirty days. An average monthly grocery bill (which includes household items like toilet paper, etc.) for us is just under $400, but this month we spent $656. Ouchhhhhhh. That's an expensive experiment. 

So in closing of a very lengthy post, Deric is still finishing out the reintroduction phase right now so he can see how his system handles each food group. I'm now eating a diabetic diet in an attempt to control blood sugar without insulin. Maybe the best part of all of this is that while the diabetic diet is pretty strict, its nowhere near Whole30! So I actually feel like I've got a good amount of freedom even as I watch my carbs closely. 

Even though our experience with Whole30 wasn't overwhelmingly positive, I do still respect the program and support the creators' vision to help people detox their systems and understand their bodies better. We can all use more fruits, veggies and protein!


28 weeks

This photo was from last week, so now we are officially in the third trimester! I've gotten to the point in pregnancy where its actually surprising me how close we're getting to the due date--just a little over two months. I definitely won't say this pregnancy has gone by quickly because its been a pain just about from day one, but that's what makes seeing the end in sight so much more exciting! Guess we should probably get around to registering, pulling out the crib here soon and oh right, deciding on a name. ;)


whole 30: almost halfway

We've just wrapped up twelve days of Whole30 and I'm pretty excited that we're almost halfway done. I'm surprised to hear myself saying that it actually hasn't been that bad...but at the same time, I think this has been the longest two weeks of my life. ;) Let's start with the bad and end with the good.

A favorite lunch of mine: chicken, apple, blueberry salad with raspberry vinaigrette. Usually strawberries are in there somewhere too.
I'd say the biggest pain so far is the inconvenience of not being able to grab food from a restaurant or even the grocery store when we're short on time. (Granted, I haven't explored our local Earth Fare or Costco yet, and they may have more convenience options than our regular grocery store.) For instance, last Tuesday I went to vote around 4:00 and surprise! It took a lot longer than expected. Thankfully Deric was home with Jake so I just texted him and asked him to get dinner started because its not like I could stop and pick up a pizza or something. We're trying not to let Whole30 get in the way of invitations from friends, etc. but we have noticed that its made it harder to get together with people over a meal. We're lucky to have a lot of restaurants nearby so when the invitation is for a meal out, we ask if we can pick the place and choose somewhere that's got a lot of salad options. At the restaurant, we just ask them to grill the chicken only in salt and pepper and then we bring our own salad dressing. Not impossible, but definitely hard when they also have pizza on the menu. ;)

Another two big inconveniences: the ridiculous amount of dirty dishes in the kitchen every.stinking.day. I cook dinner at home basically every night but add in cooking breakfast and sometimes even lunch and oh my gosh, I don't want to do any more dishes. Sometimes it's nice just to pull out some cereal or a sandwich and leave the pans in the cabinet. Second thing: our grocery bill is gonna be sky high. I've kept the receipts for this month but haven't glanced at them in summary yet and I  almost don't want to. Instead of my weekly Monday morning trip, we're getting groceries probably twice a week and its much more expensive when your cart is mostly fresh produce and meat. It'd be even more pricy if I bought compliant deli meat and bacon but that stuff is close to $6 per half a pound so its not happening (at least until the last week when we're about to scream if we have to eat any more chicken or eggs.)

I think Deric and I would both agree that we feel hungry all the time unfortunately. I'd heard that protein fills you up faster and lasts longer than carbs but I'm pretty sure I eat about double what I was before and still feel hungry. I could be wrong though, because if I've learned anything about pregnancy its that you can no longer trust your stomach to send you clear signals. I could be hungry/full/constipated/baby could be sitting on an organ...who knows.

Mixing up salad has become a necessity. This was salmon, hardboiled eggs, avocado and cucumber with Italian vinaigrette.

As far as how we're feeling, I've noticed a mild improvement so far. We're not yet at the stage of "Tiger Blood" (when all the energy kicks in) but my energy levels seem to be more stable than before. That can pretty obviously be attributed to the lack of sugar highs (and then lows) I usually have throughout the day. No more afternoon handfuls of chocolate over here. I actually slept terribly the entire first week, which was unusual for me. I can only assume it was a result of diet change but that wasn't a side effect I'd read about so I'm a little unsure. Thankfully though that's over and when I wake up in the morning, I don't exactly jump out of bed but I don't feel like I need half an hour just to open my eyes completely.

About a week in, I added dairy back into my diet after talking with my doctor. I had mixed feelings about it at first: I was a little upset because I felt like I was cheating the program (but doctor's orders, so you know). But then I got pretty excited thinking I could have all these foods again but because we're still not doing refined sugar, the dairy is actually limited to only milk and cheese, unless I want to suffer through plain yogurt. No thanks. This does make omelets an option though, which I appreciate. (And TMI: thanks to the addition of dairy after a week off, I now know what slows my digestion down, if you know what I mean. Glad to identify the culprit.) My cravings for anything sweet or breaded subsided for about a week but for some reason they're back with a vengeance right now...although more than likely, this could be attributed to breaking the habit of snacking and eating dessert.

Whole30 has pushed us to try new foods--or at least try foods prepared different ways--and I've learned to make mayonnaise and marinara sauce. We've tried salmon cakes from the Whole30 book and even cooked an entire turkey over the weekend. It was perfect--about a month ago, turkeys were on sale for less than a buck a pound. I bought one even though we've never roasted a turkey before. We used the turkey recipe from the Whole30 book, made mashed potatoes and green beans and enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner in March. Deric's been eating leftover turkey every day since and I think he's grateful to mix up the sheer amount of chicken we were consuming.

Turkey and mashed potatoes with homemade gravy (yum!) and sautéed green beans.

Even if we come out of the thirty days with no major improvements in health (which is unlikely), its been a big eye-opener to how much I use food as entertainment and to cure boredom. I'm no stranger to baking chocolate chip cookies after Jake is in bed just to have something to look forward to at the end of the day. Unfortunately eating out is one of only a few options for things to do in the winter months around here so Deric and I have struggled to find something to do on a date or just on the weekends as a family. Whole30 would be much easier in the summer for two reasons: more activities to do outside that don't revolve around food (swimming, hiking, parks, etc.), plus growing veggies in our garden and cheaper produce at the store would definitely lighten the grocery bill.

Moral of the story so far: I needed to push myself to do something very inconvenient and I'm glad I'm doing it...but I can't wait until its over. ;)