Friday, November 28, 2014

A Gift to Last a Lifetime

I love to read.  It's truly one of my favorite hobbies.  I remember the first time I went to a Barnes and Noble.  It was so huge and books were everywhere.  It was magical.  Reading holds a special place in my heart.  When I was younger, I couldn't read and it impacted my life in a major way.  Many of you don't know (some of you do) that I repeated first grade.  It was one of the most influential, embarrassing and difficult moments of my life.  I know you're probably thinking that's a little dramatic considering how young a first grader is but it's true.  Having to repeat a grade shaped who I would become.  When I was in first grade the first time, I couldn't read.  The school was using a new method to teach reading and it didn't click with my logic-based brain.  I was sent to the resource room to work on my reading.  Only it didn't have much of an effect.  My first grade teacher was young and inexperienced.  My parents weren't told the depth of my struggles with reading until 3rd quarter conferences when asked if they would consider holding me back.  The teacher waited too long to talk to my parents about my struggles.  If it had been brought to their attention earlier in the year, they could have worked with me at home to improve my reading.  But they didn't have time to do that before the end the school year.  My parents made the decision to yes, hold me back a grade.  It was the right decision.  The class I ultimately graduated with is the class I feel like I truly belonged in.  But at the time, for my young ego and heart, it was extremely difficult.  I had failed.  I had never failed at something so major and so publicly in my little life.  I cried the last day of school when I was told I wouldn't be going to second grade with the rest of my class.

My mom taught me to read the summer between first grades.  My aunt Colleen, my God mother, suggested my mom use the old Phonics method to teach me to read.  It was more logic based than the method the school used and Aunt Colleen felt it would make sense to my logic-based brain.  And it did.  My mom spent the whole summer working with me in the evenings, going over lessons in reading.  Phonics focuses on sounding out words.  At times it was really hard.  I would cry and say "But you don't care about me!" to which my mom would reply "No." (as in "No, that's not true.  I do care.").  Eventually she turned it into a game.  I couldn't say that phrase until the end of a lesson page in the Phonics textbook.  The Phonics series we used had little story books to go with the lessons.  I still remember the look of those books: small, simple type, maybe a black and white picture of the characters.  I loved reading those little books with their simple stories.  I was getting it.  I was reading.

By the time I began first grade the second time, I could read.  I don't remember much about my second year of first grade.  I had a different teacher than the previous year.  (My original teacher went to a different town after getting married, I think.)  I do remember there was a bully from my former class who was always sent to the hall for being in trouble and would call me stupid as I walked by.  And that hurt.  My best friend, Jennifer, and I were in the same grade which now, I'm thankful for.  She's been a huge part of my life since we were babies.  It was nice to have a friend in my new grade that year.  By second grade, I had more confidence in myself and my abilities.  My second grade teacher asked my mom why I was held back.  Upon learning the reason, she responded "You're kidding!  She's one of the best readers in the class."  I had caught up.  The fear of failure learned at such a young age stayed with me for a long time.  It took me a long time to learn that it's ok to fail.  It's ok to not be the best at everything.  

And so my faithful readers, after all of this, the struggles, the tears, the humiliation, came a love of reading.  Reading means so much to me, probably more than the average person.  It signifies that I am smart, that I am capable of things I didn't think I could do.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day!  I'm up before Steve and Katherine so I have the opportunity to reflect on what I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving, as weird as that may sound.  I'm thankful for a holiday to gather with family, prepare a meal and appreciate what we've been given in the past year.  Steve and I don't live near family so anytime we're able to have family visit us, I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for Katherine's vacation days at day care.  Katherine had 5 vacation days at day care that would have expired in January.  I decided to take this week off so she and I could get some quality time together before Baby S arrives.  We didn't do anything super exciting this week or out of the norm.  We've had more snuggle time and time to play together.  The days off also gave me a chance to recharge.  I'd been feeling pretty exhausted lately.  Staying home with Katherine actually allowed me to not push myself too hard and get a few extra things done around the house.

I'm thankful for my crazy cats, The Fuzz and Leela, who as I type this are running around the living room attacking each other.  Our lives would be so boring without them.  Katherine loves them and now wants them to come play with her.  She'll hold a cat toy and yell "Leela!".  So far, Leela has yet to come running but it's still cute.

I'm thankful for the internet and Weight Watchers magazine.  Both have enabled me to find low-carb pumpkin and cranberry dishes so I can still enjoy some of my holiday favorites without going over my carb allowance.

I'm thankful that despite a few hiccups I'm healthier with this pregnancy.  I'm confident I will deliver a full-term baby this time around and not spend a week in the hospital clinging to my life.

I'm thankful all of the specialists I've been referred to this year have been in Sioux City.  This has made my life so much easier.  Rather than take a full day off work for a specialist appointment, I can take a few hours and drive across town to my appointment.

The things listed above are just a drop in the bucket.  I have so many things to be thankful for, this post could continue indefinitely.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday today with your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I'm adding a new feature to my blog: gratitude posts.  This year has been quite stressful for me (for reasons I won't discuss in this blog) and my stress management skills have not been the best.  I'm hoping that expressing gratitude publicly every week will help with that.  So without further ado: welcome to my first gratitude post.

I'm thankful for Steve, Katherine, The Fuzz and Leela.  Steve has always been very supportive of me whether it's supporting my various interests (crafting, reading, music, whatever it may be at the moment) or my recent medical issues, he's always there by my side cheering me on.  He's a lot more patient than I am too which helps a lot!  He has pretty much taken over meal prep which isn't an easy task now with my gestational diabetes.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still involved in part of the planning and prep but he does the bulk of the work.  Katherine's baths have also been taken over by him now that my belly gets in the way.  I'm so thankful he's willing to help out with these and so many other things.

Katherine brings such joy to our lives with her cute giggle and inquisitive mind.  I love when she asks "Where go?" when someone leaves the room or even the TV screen.  I also find it absolutely adorable that if the answer is "I don't know", she whispers the question twice more.  This week she's been really snugly.  She's wanted to sit on my lap more and just hang out.

The Fuzz and Leela are such dorks that I can't help but love them.  Their crazy antics make me laugh or shake my head daily.  I can't imagine not having them as part of our household.

Friday, November 14, 2014

There's the Sugar

Pregnancy complications seem to be my normal for pregnancy.  I was hoping for a pregnancy with minimal complications.  We were referred to the maternal-fetal specialist earlier due to a few cysts.  The cysts have disappeared and the baby and I were given a clean bill of health.  Then I received the diagnosis of gestational diabetes.  Initially I was really angry about my diagnosis.  While this isn't the diagnosis I had hoped for, I've decided to accept it and move on.  There are a few positives to this diagnosis:

  • I get to meet with a dietitian.  I've taken an interest in nutrition in the past few years and have wanted to meet with a dietitian for awhile.
  • I get to search for new low-carb recipes.  For a foodie like me, it's the perfect excuse to look through recipes.  I've already found a few for Thanksgiving so I can enjoy some of the traditional foods without completely blowing my carb count.
  • My cousin Erin has been an enormous source of support and knowledge.  Erin is a Registered Dietitian and I've relied on her for nutrition advice since Katherine was born.  I really appreciate her knowledge!
  • We have to plan out our meals in detail and are eating healthier, more balanced meals as a result.  
  • I'm learning more about nutrition.
  • There are more foods I can eat than I originally thought there would be.
  • I can't die from this.
  • Steve is very supportive in my diet and cooking healthy foods.
  • I'm allowed 3 meals and 3 snacks each day with specific carb counts for each.
  • Proteins, cheese and most vegetables are considered "free" foods.  Thanks goodness I can eat however much cheese I want!  And yes, I'm serious.  I love cheese.
  • I don't have to take medication.  Usually gestational diabetes can be controlled through diet.  I really hope this is true in my case.
  • I've had to finally give up Pepsi for good.  I've known for awhile I should do this.  Gestational diabetes was the kick in the pants I needed to actually do it.
  • This has made me even more aware that I need to adopt healthy habits.  I'm hoping to adopt an exercise routine within the next year.  (I'm giving myself a little leeway when Baby S is really little.)  I'm also hoping to continue with a healthy diet about Baby S's arrival. 
  • A coworker also has gestational diabetes.  We've been able to commiserate and support each other.  It's comforting to have someone in the same boat, even if I wish we both didn't have it.
  • So far, my blood sugar has been within the acceptable ranges.  
  • Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born.
  • Pumpkin spice cream cheese is only 5 carbs per serving.  Yay!  A pumpkin something I can enjoy.  
There are a few negatives to this as well:
  • I have to go through the holidays with this new diet.  I'm really not thrilled about not being able to eat whatever sweets or foods I want during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We are celebrating Christmas in Sioux City and I was looking forward to trying traditional dishes from all over the world.  That probably isn't going to happen now.  
  • Learning to carb count takes time out of my day.  Until I get really good at it, it takes time to figure out what I'm eating for my meals and snacks each day.  
  • I really, really like pasta, bread and sweets.  I'm a little bummed I can't eat these whenever I want in the quantity I want.  
  • Our meal-planning takes a lot longer.  Steve and I sat down and really had to think of low-carb meals for the next week.  I know this will get easier over time.  It's a just a little frustrating right now.
  • Possible health risks for the baby if I don't follow my diet and the potential for diabetes in the future for me.  I really didn't want to add more future health risks for myself.  I have a few potential future health concerns due to the preeclampsia I had while pregnant with Katherine.  I also want to have a healthy baby who gets to leave the hospital the same day I do.  
  • I can't eat ice cream whenever I want.  
  • I have to check my blood sugar 4 times a day which means my fingers get jabbed each time.  On the plus side, it could be a lot more.  I'm only required to check my sugars in the morning and 2 hours after each meal.  
  • I've had to finally give up Pepsi for good.  It was my one vice and I really like it.  I don't drink (even when I'm not pregnant I don't drink much alcohol.) and I've never smoked.  Pop was my vice.  As you can see, I have mixed feelings about having to give it up.
I'm trying to make the best of this situation and be positive.  It is only 2 months and I can stick with it for that short of a time frame.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

New Name, New Look

Welcome to the re-launch of my blog!  I finally settled on a name that seems to be a better fit for my blog.  For the Love of Food didn't feel right anymore.  This blog doesn't focus on strictly food anymore and I felt it was time for a change.  Tots and Tails describes my life perfectly.  Our days are filled with Katherine, Baby S coming in January and our cats, The Fuzz and Leela.  Thanks for sticking with me while I've been MIA in the blogging world.  I plan to post more in the upcoming months.