Friday, January 27, 2012

Just Goes to Show... Even Young People Can Make a Big Difference

If you've been reading my blog on a fairly regular basis, you know that I suffer from the Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis.  And as you'll also know I am attempting to follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to feel better... and I'm happy to report that when I'm good about following it, I feel great, although it's so easy to fall off the wagon.

Today, I want to tell about a young woman named Ally Bain who became an advocate for Crohn's and Colitis sufferers at the age of 14 after being turned away from using a restroom while shopping with her mother, causing her to have a very public and embarrassing accident.  Sadly, I have only too many stories like that of my own.  The most poignant occurring on the last day of my honeymoon when I made my new husband pull over on the side of the California free-way for me to relieve myself.

Ally's Law, aka The Restroom Access Act, is a law that requires businesses to make employee-only restrooms available to people with IBD and other chronic medical conditions, as well as pregnancy.  Since the passage of the Restroom Access Act in Illinois in 2005, the legislation has passed in 11 other states: Minnesota, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Colorado, Ohio, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Connecticut.  With the help of voices like Ally's, yours, and mine, we'll find a way to get this very important legislation passed in all 50 states.  If you're a sufferer of IBD, be sure to order your Medical Alert Restroom Access Pass.  

I've contacted Idaho State Representative Janice McGeachin, chair of the the Health and Welfare Committee in the House and Idaho State Senator Patti Anne Lodge, Chair of the the Health and Welfare Committee in the Senate to see if we can't get something accomplished like Ally's Law here in Idaho.  Ally is certainly an inspiration to us all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Breaking Point

This week Heidi Klum and Seal announced that they decided they were planning to end their marriage of seven years.  It may sound silly, but this made me incredibly sad, but also really angry.  I have always looked at them as inspiration... A couple that despite the Hollywood odds, could weather the rough patches and make their marriage work.  Their break-up certainly made me feel like a naive little girl again- wishing for fairy tales to come true.

The thing that bothers me the most is that they really think they fought for their marriage.  I read today that their marriage was "An amazing love affair with crazy highs and lows" and "It's actually been about six months that they've been working through some issues."  

Six months?  Are you kidding me?  Do they really think they gave their marriage a fighting chance after only six months?  Maybe there is more to the story, but if I had the chance, I would tell them how stupid, immature, self-involved, and vain they are.  It makes me sick to think they would give up on their marriage (one in which they renewed their vows every year on their anniversary) because they're been having problems for six months... I've been told to try medicines for longer than that before seeing the effects.  Hell, it takes longer to make a baby than the effort they gave their marriage!

More than that, are they so blinded by their self-involved famous-person natures that they can't even put their four children's feelings ahead of their own-- do they really think divorce is going to be easier for those kids in the long run?  I mean any couple with four kids should know that life is not going to be all candy and roses... hell, one kid is a challenge-- but four?  Even with nannies and maids and all the other help they can afford, four kids is still four kids.  Maybe they should agree to work on their marriage for 20 weeks per child that they have (half the time it takes to make the baby in the first place)... which is 80 weeks or just over 1.5 years.  Maybe then I'd agree with them and say they really worked on fixing the problems in their marriage.

And Seal, WTF, why would you go on all these talk shows and discuss your private business?  It's like you went public as a way of generating interest in your concert tour.  Is your fame really the most important thing in your life?  Take a page from Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard's book.  They were separated for two years before the media got wind of it.  If anyone famous really wanted to protect their children and their privacy, why would you feed the paparazzi media frenzy by making a big statement... now they certainly won't stop trying to catch your family at every possible moment.  Jessica and Sam have certainly proven it can be done with grace.

What also kills me is when things like thing come out, and people still stand on their pious soapbox say and gay marriage is ruining the "institution of marriage."  Really?  If you ask me, I'd say stupidity, lawyers, and celebrities are the guilty parties here.  How long was Kim Kardashian's marriage?  Not that I even know what that chick is famous for in the first place...  but I do know that she is both a celebrity and stupid, and her "marriage" lasted about 5 minutes.

Actually, thinking about all of this makes believe these "legal contracts" of marriage we make with each other should be harder to break.  You enter into a marriage contract, and apart from abuse and proven infidelity, you should be locked in for the long haul, so make a wise and thoughtful decision about who you enter the marriage contract with.  None of this, "We've grown apart crap."  Ask a couple married for 50+ years and they'll tell you they've grown apart and back together a million times during the course of their marriage.  It's so easy and commonplace to get divorced now, no one even seems to bat an eye at it.  I certainly take my marriage vows very seriously, but in Idaho, if I wanted a divorce, did you know I could have it in 20 days?  That is way too short a process if you ask me, and I've heard that its even shorter in other states.

If you want your marriage to work so bad, make it work.  Make time.  Listen to the other person.  Get therapy.  Do the work.  Forgive.  Yoda says, "There is do and do not... there is no try."  That's an amazing life philosophy... one that we should all live by.  As for Heidi and Seal, if they ever stumble upon this post while surfing the web, all I can say is, give your marriage the fighting chance it deserves and the chance you've vowed to give it... none of this "we tried" crap.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pumped Up Kicks...

Our friends Bryce and Caree showed this to us tonight, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I had to share it.  Wow!This is amazing...

That's all in real-time... he just makes it look like its in slow-motion and in rewind.  Just imagine the extreme control you'd have to have over your body to dance like that.  Could that guy get any more talented?  Wow!  I'm so impressed.

Friday, January 20, 2012

HP Kitties...

These cats and quite a few others live around the Hewlett Packard office here in Boise.  I thought these two were just fat, but while waiting for David the other night, someone told me they were actually super pregnant.  Now I'm not really a cat person, I always like to help animals in need of homes... so if you're looking for a kitty, you might try to catch one of these guys, take them to the Humane Society and ask to have one of the kittens in the litter once they're born.  I'd tell you to keep one of these ladies, but they're pretty skittish and feral at this point and probably better off on their own.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

World Religions Series: The Catholic Faith

Another submission to the World Religion Series!  This one is from my dear friend Jessica Harrison.  

Jessy and I have such an interesting history tying us together.  Jessy's father owns the company David worked for after Grad School.  David took me with him on the company retreat to Arizona that year (2008), and although we never met, Jessy and I have similar stories from the entire weekend and probably passed each other in the hallway a time or two.

Then, two summers ago Jessy came to work for me as an intern in my office which is where we learned of our connection.  She was not only an amazing intern, but she and I were fast friends.  At the end of the summer, Jessy left to go back to college in San Diego.  Although I was sad to see her go, I'm always so happy to see someone like Jessy do so well in life.  I wrangled her into interning for me again last summer too.  It was so fun to have her back in town!  And, now every time she's back she gives me a call and we hit a coffee shop for a quick catch up chat.

Our last catch-up was about 10 days ago, and I told her about my blog and my World Religion Series.  I knew about her family's strong Catholic Faith, and I also know that she is a fantastic writer, so I asked if she was up for participating.  She said, "Yes" immediately and I'm happy to say she got back to me with her responses quite quickly and I'm able to share them with you now.  Enjoy... and Thanks Jessy!

Jessy, GOP Chairman Michael Steel, and Me at an event
Jessy and I put together in Sun Valley in 2010
What religion do you practice, and how did you come to practice it?

My parents are both Roman Catholic and baptized me when I was a few months old. Since then, I have been to Catholic mass almost every Sunday morning (although I'm bad about going to church on my own when I'm at school). My parents put me through Catholic schools from kindergarten to college I am now a senior in college.

Tell me about your religion. Describe what the tenants of your religion are in your words.

I could go on and on about the tenants but I'll try to be short and clear. The Catholic Church is part of the Christian Church. We essentially believe everything that Christians believe. For example, like Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is God's son, God is one in three divine persons (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit), Jesus died for our sins, and we should live our lives how Jesus taught us to in order to make the world a better place and eventually go to heaven. The Bible is our sacred scripture and we look towards this faith text to guide our moral lives. This is a very brief summary of the shared Christian and Catholic beliefs.

Catholics, however, practice some rituals that Christians do not. The Catholic faith embraces transubstantiation - the act in which the Eucharist changes from bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. The "changed and blessed" bread and wine is handed out during communion in our mass and we eat what we believe is the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Faith has typically been viewed as more traditional than most Christian faiths, especially in regards to social issues, the interpretation of the Bible and the structure of the Catholic mass. Indeed, many masses around the world are still spoken in Latin (the Latin language dominated the Catholic Church centuries ago).  Furthermore, the Catholic Church does not allow women to become deacons or be ordained into priesthood. This naturally draws a lot of criticism in our day and age, when the fight for equality is stronger than ever.

What does your religion mean to you?

I am very grateful that I was raised Catholic. My faith has always been a part of my life and I hope it always will be. My love and respect for Jesus helps guide my moral life and I have truly seen it make a difference in many circumstances. However, I do believe that the Catholic Church is a bit too traditional in many aspects. I struggle with living my life how I believe Jesus wants me to and how the Catholic Church wants me to.

What are five things you love about your religion?

1) I love the traditional masses. The music, sacred images, prayers, incense,  moments of silence...I find it peaceful, fulfilling and inspiring.
2) Anyone can be a Catholic. I've met Catholics from all different backgrounds from around the world - it's a very universal religion that welcomes everyone.

3) The Catholic Church continues to impress me with its charity and donations for the less fortunate and those in need. The poor and suffering children of God certainly seem to be the Church's first priority.
4) I admire the Church's focus on family.

5) I think it is impressive that the Catholic Church has stuck by its traditions over the centuries, demonstrating its consistency and persistence.

What are five things you don’t particularly agree with about your religion?

1) I struggle with the Catholic Church's view on gay marriage, euthanasia, and abortion (all of which the Church opposes). My parents are convinced that I am merely going through a stage since I am studying at a liberal arts university in California, which, by the way, is Catholic but not seemingly so. We'll see if my opinions change over time, but as of now, I disagree with the Church on those three social issues. That is not to say that I disagree with the Bible, however. I simply interpret the Bible differently.

2) The Catholic Church understands moral issues in a very black and white manner - actions are either right or wrong. I don't believe that the morally permissible act is always so clear. Again, my parents think this is because I'm studying Literature and Philosophy. I'll let you know in ten years if my opinion has changed.

3) I firmly believe that a person will go to heaven as long as they treat others with love and respect while also loving and respecting themselves. Unlike the Catholic Church's understanding, I don't believe that faith is an important factor when one dies and is judged before God. I also believe that if a person made some horrible decisions in their life but genuinely felt bad about them, they have a chance of going to heaven. But of course this is all my humble opinion. The Catholic faith, from my understanding, believes that the forgiveness of sins is required to go to heaven. I don't necessarily hold this to be false, but the question of what is a sin and what isn't certainly comes into play here.

4) I don't like how the Catholic Church involves itself with politics.

5) I think that women should be able to be deacons and priests.

What are the most common misconceptions about your religion and how do you address them?

Many people believe that Catholics worship saints. This is not the case! We ask saints to pray FOR us.

Many people also believe that the Catholic faith is responsible for the tragic instances of sex abuse in the Church. This is absurd. We need to remember that there are sick people in every walk of life: politicians, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and even priests. This is not a justification but is a reflection of human nature and not the Catholic faith.

How does your religion affect your family life? Your work life?

When I'm home I attend mass with my family and pray regularly with my family. We often discuss religious issues and how they are prevalent in our every day lives. 

It hasn't affected my work life yet. I anticipate it will in the future as I pursue my career in criminal defense. 

If you could leave people with one idea that most closely describes the way you see and understand your religion, what would that be?

I wish people could see the exceptionally loving nature of the Catholic Church and its good intentions throughout the ever changing social issues that come to challenge.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I am, in no way, attempting to represent the Catholic Church. Although I have a strong faith, I am still learning and growing.

To check out the rest of my World Religions Series, click on the links below:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This just in... SNOW!

Boise and the surrounding mountains are finally getting dumped on... I can't remember the last time I was this excited to see snow!  In fact there's so much snow, many offices are telling employees to work from home... snow day!

And, apparently McCall, Idaho is getting between 2-4 feet of snow in the next 24 hours... I can't wait to get my skis out of the closet and hit the slopes! Wahoo!

Adventures in Portland

Have you ever been to Portland, Oregon?  It's one of our favorite cities. Now that we are back home and settled in, I can gush properly about our weekend and the city that has worked its way so powerfully into our hearts. 

We were there to take advantage of the long weekend, the awesome post-holiday sales and, best of all did you know Oregon does not have a sales tax?  It's awesome.  And a round trip ticket from Boise to Portland is about $100 per person, which is even more awesome.  Plus the amazing restaurants combined with the delightful art and music scene make a weekend in Portland at the top of the list.  Awesome!

Our number one adventure on this particular weekend was a hike through the Portland Arboretum to the Japanese Gardens followed by Thai food and a cozy nap while watching the Packer football game.  The only bummer of the entire day was the Packers getting their butts handed to them by the Giants in a game they should have easily won, but I digress... Aren't the Japanese Gardens beautiful?!

You can't really tell from the picture... but David is looking out over the city... beautiful vista of the entire downtown.

We stayed at the Embassy Suites on Pine between 3rd and 4th which was very nice, however a local told us about this hotel called The Nines, so while walking past it, we checked it out.  It was amazing!  Next time we are planning to stay there.  Especially because they have two incredible restaurants inside, The Urban Farmer, where we had a delightful brunch, and Departure, a rooftop restaurant that, unfortunately we weren't able to enjoy on this trip due to it being closed on Sundays.  But its certainly making us look forward to next time!

Instead of Departure on Sunday night, we ate at this great Lebanese Restaurant called Habibi.  We love Mediterranean food, and this did not disappoint.  Everything was incredibly fresh and the food was amazing.  Plus the total including drinks and a tip was only about $40... which makes it even more appealing in my book.

Monday was our day to shop.  We hit up Nordstrom and my favorite, H&M, and then on the way back to the hotel we stopped at Nordstrom Rack.  So fun!  Plus wandering the streets with a cup of coffee in our hand while passing by all the colorful windows was just delightful.  Oh, and for all of you with IBD like me, the public bathroom situation in Portland is awesome.  They really go the extra mile to make going to the bathroom easy.

When Monday afternoon rolled around we had to pack up our belongings and head for the airport via the Max, Portland's incredible, inexpensive public light-rail train line, and we were both sad to go.  However, now our sense of adventure is perked... and we were starting to figure out our way around town... we'll be going back again soon!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Still Thinking...

After my proclamation last week about announcing our decision regarding adoption or gestational surrogacy after our dinner discussion on Saturday, I'm sure some of you are wondering what we decided... well we haven't officially decided either way yet.  We had our formal dinner discussion as planned and came to the conclusion that we just need more time and more information to make our next move.

My gut tells me that we're both leaning toward trying to find a gestational surrogate, because when it comes down to it, however narcissistic it sounds, we both want to look at our children and be reminded of our moms or dads or brothers or sisters or of each other.  I'm curious about what a child made by David and me would look like- I'm so fair and he's so dark it could make for something very special!

Surrogacy has a myriad of different challenges of which we are currently weighing the pros and cons.  The first of course is finding a person willing to give up their body for a year to give us a child.  This is no small task.  The challenge isn't so much finding a person willing to offer, but finding a person willing to offer who has really identified all the risks and potential problems involved (such as the high probability of multiples, forced bed rest, and the worst of all infertility after due to complications in labor- not to mention the postpartum) and still wants to do it for us.  I mean we could very easily end up with this:

The next major concern for us is cost.  Can we do this without breaking the bank?  I think with proper planning, discussion, and thought, this could be a really beautiful process, bringing us incredibly close to the person carrying our baby. But that said, we wouldn't want to destroy a valued relationship by rushing into something unprepared either.

And then, there is the option of Adoption.  I love the idea of creating a family with a child who needs a loving home.  I know if we make the decision to adopt, we will jump in head first without second guessing it, and be happy as can be.  And, I also know we'd be amazingly loving parents to any child. However, there is still something giving me pause with adoption at this point.

As for my own health, my doctor's concern is a valid one, if I can get the Ulcerative Colitis under control again would pregnancy (specifically hormones) set me off again?  And would the baby get all the nutrients it needs from me, considering I have malabsorption problems?  To answer some of these questions, I've made an appointment to go see a fertility specialist/high risk pregnancy doctor at the end of the month to discuss all of the above options and all of my concerns.  This way David and I can make the most educated decision possible.

Right now, I can safely say no decision about our family will be made on any front until after that appointment, and what this all comes down to is: we're still not sure.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


David and I are officially Anglophiles.  We can't stop watching British television... on Netflix and Hulu and PBS.  It's completely addictive.  Our favorites recently have been Downton Abbey, the new version of Sherlock Holmes set in modern day, The I.T. CrowdPoirot, and our recent favorite, Kingdom.  Have you seen any of these?  Do you have any other recommendations for us?
The British have the very best sense of humor.  It's dry, witty, and intelligent.  And their sense of drama is understated and elegant.  We are utterly enchanted!
It's actually making me yearn to live in another country for a while.  Wouldn't it be grand to be a British aristocrat for a day?!  ;)  I'm not sure I could handle it for more than a day... having to be so proper all the time would drive me nuts.  Clearly, David and I aren't the only ones in love with British Tele though... check out this recent article in the New York Times.
It's amazing to me how many of our American television shows were created in the UK first.  The best example of this being Ricky Gervais' The Office, but I can think of about 4 or 5 others as well.  I was told by a work colleague that they were attempting to make an American version of The I.T. Crowd, but not sure it actually went anywhere... I'm kind of glad it didn't, because I'm a purist.  I'm furious that they re-made the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  What do you think of re-makes?    

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th Unlucky? I don't think so...

Most people say Friday the 13th is an unlucky day.  I wonder why?  Actually, most people say the number 13 is unlucky in general.  In fact, my building doesn't even have a 13th floor.  I never thought 13 or Friday the 13th was so unlucky... I mean, I love Fridays, who doesn't?!  AND, my mom and her twin brother were born on January 13th, 1943 (a Wednesday).  So you can see why I've always thought this day was extra lucky.  Without my mom there wouldn't be me.

Today is my Mom, Julianne Kaeser Manchester's birthday.  

Happy Birthday Mamma!  

Thinking about my mom's birthday being on Friday the 13th this year made me wonder why the superstition came about in the first place... so I did a little google search and here's what I found:

From Wikipedia: According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a "Friday the 13th" superstition before the 19th century.[4][5][6] The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards' 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini:
Rossini was surrounded to the last by admiring and affectionate friends; Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky
Consequently, several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition.
One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.
  • In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of theclock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israeltwelve Apostles of Jesusthe 12 Descendants of Muhammad Imams, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.
  • Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury Tales,[3] and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.[6][7] It has also been suggested that Friday has been considered an unlucky day because, according to Christianscripture and tradition, Jesus was crucified on a Friday.[8]
  • One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W. Lawson's popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth,[9] in which an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.[4] Records of the superstition are rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common.
The connection between the Friday the 13th superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code. However, experts agree that this is a relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention. Although according to many Freemasons, this date corresponds with the slaughtering of the Knights Templar by the Church.
So, basically the superstition has its roots in the church.  Interesting... I'm not sure how I feel about that... hmmm?
Well, I think superstitions (like most things) only have power when we give them power, and I've always felt 13 was a lucky day because of my mom, and I'm going to keep on thinking that way.

I hope you'll all join me in wishing my mom a happy birthday and many more to come! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tears for a friend

This week, I've had a heavy heart.  My good friend Lisa's husband, Dave Allred passed away suddenly in the night.  He was only 54.  That's so young!  And, although Dave and Lisa have been together for about 4 years and have known each other for probably 20 years longer than that, they only just got married this summer- August 13, 2011 in a beautiful ceremony along the Boise River.  They were soul mates.

My heart is breaking for Lisa.

His memorial service yesterday was very nice.  It was at the Municipal Park near the Boise River.  The sun was shining and people told stories and played music.  It was the perfect celebration of his life.  He was a husband, a father, a step-father, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a son, and a friend.  His two sisters Jamie and Jole are also good friends of mine, and my love went out to the whole family.

Since we found out about his passing though, all I can think about is how fragile life is.  My sister lost her husband 4.5 years ago to cancer, and our whole family misses Eric every single day.  He's was part of my life as long as I can remember, and its hard for me to even write my sister's name without his beside it-when I think Katie, I think Eric.  I can't imagine how Katie feels.  What would I do if my husband David passed away tomorrow?  I honestly don't know, and frankly, I hate to even consider it.  David is my soul mate, my best friend, and my partner in crime.  I would be lost without him.

We have so many dreams together that haven't even been started yet.  Dreams of travel, dreams of children, dreams of doing creative projects together, dreams of growing very very old together, and dreams of creating more dreams together.  Our lives are just beginning, and yet unlike the generation before us, we all started this phase of our lives later.  Most of my friends parents had them before the age of 35, yet most of my friends also haven't started having their own children until at least 35.  Not that I think that's a bad thing, but when doing the math, it does give me pause.

Also, maybe it's the New Year, or the full moon or something all together different, but I'm not the only person feeling this way.  In the past few days, some of my very close friends from around the world have called to chat out of the blue, and all of them have mentioned a similar theme without my prompting the discussion.  On the one hand, its kind of cool to think we are all on a similar wavelength, but on the other it makes me realize how much I take my life for granted.  And how much I take my friends and family for granted.

We all talked about the fact that because it is so easy to communicate these days, and yet we can never seem to find the time, thinking, "I'll just call her/him later."  Only "later" gets pushed back further and further, because we're always so busy.  Wasn't technology created to make our lives easier?

This life we live in these days is so much more complicated than the life of our parents, our grandparents, etc.  Communication has been made easy and commonplace, and yet because its so easy, we hardly ever really communicate with each other.  That is, except to post a note on Facebook or Twitter... send a text message or drop someone a two sentence email... but is that really communicating?

What I know for sure is that no matter how exhausted we are at the end of the day, taking that extra five or even 60 minutes to touch base with a loved one is so important.  Our friends and family make up our world... without them, life is meaningless.  And, like a marriage, all relationships take a bit of effort to nurture and grow.  I know I need to make more of an effort to let my family and friends know I love them, to call them and to see them and be part of their lives.  

David always says, "You are the person you are becoming."  I'm sure he's quoting someone, but I'm not sure exactly who... Buddha maybe?  Anyway, what he means is to make something happen we have to start taking the steps to make it happen.  Just talking about it or dreaming about it or even praying about it won't do anything without some sort of action... we have to make our luck-- make our dreams a reality.

I'm off to start work on a few of mine before life passes me by...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Snow Day!

Usually at this time of year, I'm over the snow fall in town... if it snows in the mountains- great!  But I'm usually over the snow in town.

This year is different.  Apart from a dusting back in early November, we haven't had a drop of snow.  The skiing is crap, and "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas..." well I'm actually dreaming of a white snow hill, since Christmas has already come and gone with not even a drop (sad).

This morning the sunset was bright red as I drove my husband to work, and I told him my mom's old saying from her days living on a ship... "Red skies at night, sailor's delight.  Red skies in the morning, sailor's take warning."

Bikers in Boise just don't seem to mind.
And now as I look out the window the snow if finally falling:

Let's hope this keeps up all day and we can go skiing next weekend!  I'm dying to hit the slopes.  I've been told the Pray for Snow Parties here in Boise are turning into riots with all the lack of that fluffy white stuff (wink). Our poor local mountain, Bogus Basin hasn't even been able to open its doors yet, and people are starting to lose their jobs because of it.

Let's just hope it snows and snows and snows!  Cross your fingers!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Lately Lily," I'm so inspired...

This evening I came across one of the most inventive blogs I've ever seen, so I just had to share it with you... have you been to Lately Lily yet?  Thank you to Gabrielle Blair over at Design Mom for pointing me to it.

Meet Lily
I have to admit, I actually think this website is so cool, I'm a little bit jealous that it's not mine.  I've always wanted to be a world traveler, flitting from one amazing destination to the next, and toting my little family along with me... Living out of trunks, and only staying in destinations for a maximum of 6 months to a year... homeschooling our would-be children and all the while learning every language from every destination fluently.  Doesn't it sound awfully romantic and dreamy?!
This picture reminds me of my niece Kitty
  Although, in reality, to do that you either have to have gobs of money, or really cool job with like National Geographic or something similar like Lily's parents do.  And now that I have Ulcerative Colitis, that kind of puts a damper on my big plans as well... but things can change!  In the mean time, I'm going to continue to read Lately Lily, live vicariously through her, and be utterly inspired.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Decisions, decisions...

These days, as I'm sure you can imagine if you read some of my previous posts , the conversation at our house tends to focus around one thing:  children.  Do we adopt?  Do we find a surrogate?  Do we wait and see how my health improves (I can tell you already that this is my least favorite... I'm craving a baby!)?  No matter what we do its a huge life changing decision.

To help further facilitate the decision making process and in an attempt to be as open with each other (and ourselves) as possible. David and I have decided to individually create a list of pros and cons for each possible decision, and then in just over one week (specifically, Saturday, January 14th) we will discuss our lists over dinner, and officially make our decision on which plan we will pursue.
There are a lot of variables and potential problems in each scenario, not to mention costs, but with each option comes a plethora of different wonderful rewards as well.  We figure this time of individual contemplation gives us a chance to really flush out our thoughts, feelings, and desires, before making the final decision together.  There will be a lot of soul searching and prayer involved in our decision, and I am certain we will make the right one for our family, together.
I'm actually very excited about this... Did I already tell you, we're starting a family together!?!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

12 Things

I recently read this great article about happiness that I wanted to share with you all.  Specifically, the article discusses what happy people do differently than unhappy people.  

The article, by Jacob Sokol talks about a study by this psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky which pinpointed 12 specific things that happy people do differently to increase their happiness.  Being that its the start of the New Year, I thought I'd go through the list, and try my hardest to make this the happiest year I've ever had by putting the techniques into action... and I thought sharing it might inspire some of you too!

Pure happiness... Kitty and Gee-ma, best friends forever.
Below is the list.  How many of these 12 points do you practice on a daily basis?  How many of the pitfalls do you get stuck in?  I can already see a few that I need to work on toward making my life happier, but I'll start with the first one: Expressing gratitude.

Thank you to all of my faithful readers for joining me on my Kookoobirdies journey.  I've really enjoyed my part in it, and I hope you've enjoyed following along!  It this were a toast, I would tell you all to raise your glass and toast to a happy, healthy year ahead for everyone!  Please stay tuned... and thank you!    

12 Things

  • Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
  • Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
  • Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.
  • Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
  • Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
  • Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
  • Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
  • Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
  • Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
  • Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
  • Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
  • Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.
  • Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Adopt A New Beginning

    Last night, David and I took part in an information seminar at one of the local adoption agencies, A New Beginning, here in Boise.  WOW!  I'm almost at a loss for words... only, its me, so not really.

    It is hard to put into words exactly how excited I am to be a mom, and I think David is going to be the most amazing father- so much so that there aren't enough words in the English language to describe it!  I love that adoption is on the table for us now, although, I'm not going to pretend that the element of the unknown also makes me a bit nervous.

    I think I'd be more comfortable if a stork could just drop a healthy little baby boy or girl off on our doorstep in a basket and say to us, "This is your child," and we could be done with it. Fortunately for the children involved in that scenario, that's not how it happens, if it was there would be a lot children in homes that didn't deserve them.

    The experience at the agency information seminar was definitely a good one, albeit somewhat foreign to me.  A New Beginning is a very thorough agency which David and I both liked.  They ask a lot of their potential parents, insisting they attend seminars, classes and support groups, before, during and after the adoption, which we think is a positive thing for everyone involved, especially the kids.

    Surprisingly, although the idea of adopting is exciting to me, sitting there, I suddenly felt somewhat overwhelmed by the process of it.  I'm sure the programs the agency have in place would be helpful in alleviating those feelings.  But I was so sure of what we were doing going into the seminar, that I was not prepared to feel that way after the information session.

    When the woman leading the seminar asked if anyone had questions I was, of course, the first person to speak up, and I kept going until David whispered to me to let other people have a chance to ask questions too (smile), but I ended up getting in a few additional questions before the end because questions just kept popping up and I could help myself (wink)!  What can I say... I wanted to make sure my questions got asked before they slipped my mind!

    There are many different types of adoption, however, The Domestic Infant Adoption Program was really the only program that David and I were comfortable pursuing before we went into the session, and that was re-affirmed while we were there.  We figure, if we can't physically create the child ourselves, we'd at least want to be there from the first second we're allowed to bond and give the child all of our love.

    Also, what the information session made me realize, at least after sleeping on it, was that I think if we can find a way to afford it, I'd prefer surrogacy over adoption for the simple element of control you have over the process.  God, I sound like a control freak!  But with such a huge decision in our lives, I feel like wanting some control isn't such a bad thing.

    It's not because I would love an adopted child any less than a child we created, but because of all the variables involved in adoption that make the uncertainty almost overwhelming.  However, I also know that I can safely say that if I was given a baby tomorrow, any baby, I would love it as my own and be no less happy than if I gave birth to it myself.  

    Such a quandary.  I think that I am going to have to do some serious soul searching and prayer before we continue on this journey.  All children are a gift.  I just want to make surely sure we are going in the right direction before we move ahead...  

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Falling off the wagon... and jumping right back on again

    How was your New Year's Eve?  Ours was great.  We went to this fabulous Indian restaurant here in Boise called Taj Mahal.  It may have been the best Indian food I've ever had... and I love me some good Indian Food!  The only thing is, I fell of the wagon.  The SCD wagon that is.

    I did so well over Thanksgiving and Christmas (especially with all the helpful and delicious SCD foods my mother-in-law made for me), I thought I was in the clear.  But alas, its amazing what fresh spicy shrimp coconut curry served with freshly made naan bread and rice will do to a person.  We savored every last bite.  It was heaven!  And combined with the interesting conversation we struck up with the father and son (both named Richard) and the next table and the conversation we had with the owner of the restaurant, Sohail, we had the most delightful night we could have imagined.

    I've been paying the price for my bad eating habits ever since, however.  Although I'm not back in a serious UC flare, I have been a bit more uncomfortable (bloated and gurgly), and I've been getting up again in the night.  And I am having to start over with my perfect eating record from scratch.

    It was surprisingly easy to jump back into my Specific Carbohydrate Diet rhythm immediately the next day, and I've been good ever since.  Man, even though I knowingly ate the "illegal" foods, I'm pretty bummed that my food cravings overcame my willpower.  I thought I was stronger than that.  I was getting really down on myself about it yesterday.

    My nutritionist told me to look at it as a growing pain or a bump in the road, and not to get too worked up about it, it happens to the best of us... so that's what I've decided to do.  I can certainly say, no one is perfect, especially me.

    Have you had times in your life where temptation got the best of you?  How did you handle it?  I'd love to hear from you!