Monday, May 11, 2015

When Reality & Expectations Clash||Blood Work & Life Update

It's only been about 3.5 months since I last blogged. Gasp! Life is busier with other things that take priority keeping the scant seventy-two blog readers updated on life. Not to mention, Instagram is so much more convenient. :) Nevertheless, I don't want my blog to completely die and hope to pop in a few times over the summer with posts.

One of my goals for 2015 was to have the healthiest year yet, along with significantly shaving time off of my 5K personal best times for both mile and overall. If I walked into a normal, family doctor for a physical, they would declare me a healthy twenty-three year old, which I am for the most part. But over the last few years, I've been dealing with minor, yet constant and reoccurring, symptoms with no logical answers. Think severe stomach cramps at random times, inability to lose body fat, poor sleep, fatigue, brain fog, and constantly dealing with chest congestion/coughs/sore throats, etc. Nothing life threatening or debilitating, but  not normal for someone my age who eats well and regularly exercises.

I made a decision that instead of guessing if something was actually going on, or feeling like I was crazy because of my random symptoms, I was going to fork over the cash and head to a integrative doctor/chiropractor. A complete panel of blood work was ordered, along with the snipping of some of my precious locks to do a hair analysis for heavy metals and toxins. When the results returned, it turned out I wasn't completely crazy, my blood work matched up with the symptoms I was experiencing. Including low white blood cell count and extremely high monocytes. A normal monocyte range would be 5.0-8.0, mine was 24.0. My immune system isn't functioning anywhere near what it should be, hence, I've been sick at least one week out of every month for the past 6 months. My thyroid is low functioning, my good cholesterol was too low, among other things that all pointed back to the symptoms I was experiencing.

Fast forward to February and March. I was given 14 different supplements and a restricted diet, including no soy [I try to avoid it anyway], no dairy, no refined sugars or flour, no preservatives, artificial anything. I've already gone without gluten for an extended period of time, so they wanted to rule out soy and dairy allergies. Just ask my mother, I'm a bit notorious for not sticking with things I start. But this, I was dedicated to seeing it through and making sure I did it all right so that I could finally get answers.

A little over a week ago I finally got to go back to see the results of my hard work over the past two months. Even though I hadn't felt any different yet and still catching germs like nobodies business, I was sure the results would be very telling. Unfortunately, my doctor in the practice decided to move to the West coast, leaving my case with another chiropractor in the office. Long story short, I'm not her biggest fan, but am still trying to give her grace since I'm sure her work has been doubled with one less doctor in the office. There were some great improvements, my vitamin D levels are superb now, among other things. But my white blood cell count is still low and my monocytes are still really high [though they went from a 24.0 to 19.0], and a few things actually worsened. Why, I'm not sure...I didn't think to ask during my appointment so I plan on contacting my doctor to find out.

Chasing my best health ever is akin to chasing a rabbit down a trail, you never know what twists and turns will come next. It's frustrating, expensive, and time consuming, yet I know consistency is the key, even when it feels like nothing is going how I think it should.

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak. 
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall; 
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31

 My time was several minutes slower than what I wanted it to be, but I did still manage to come in second for females 21-24.

 Other life happenings in the past few months: 

 After a 6-ish year friendship, started via our blogs, I finally got to meet the awesome Priscilla Stepanian when she came to visit me for a long weekend. 

 My niece continues to grow in orneriness and sweetness. 

 Jae turned 21 a few weeks ago!
 My parents are forever perfecting the landscaping/garden. New garden boxes for mom, built by dad.
and perhaps the biggest news since I last blogged would be the new life expected at the beginning of December! Hallie is excited to become a big sister. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hallie|Birthday Celebration

 My sweet niece, Hallie, turned ONE at the end of 2014! But it wasn't until last weekend that we were finally able to celebrate the milestone with pomp and circumstance. I had decided back in September that I wanted to create something really special for her first birthday. After seeing this idea for a stove that fit over a kitchen chair on Pinterest, I decided I would tackle the project. After all, how hard could it be with all those straight angles. Throw in some hand sewn felt food and I was set. Little did I realize how time consuming this would all be...and frustrating to make up all the patterns. Of course, since it was for my one and only niece I kept stitching....including creating an oven mitt and apron to complete the gift. If you are thinking of doing this, my suggestion is just buy your niece a miniature pony or buy a kitchen and felt food from Ikea.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Pursuit

New year, new thoughts, new ideas, new adventures, new goals. January rolls around every year [crazy, right?!] and people start making mile long lists of goals for the new year. I think lists and goals are great, when they are done with an intentional plan in mind to execute said goals. Two years ago I made one of those long, lofty lists filled with new things to try and places to go. While I checked several things off, I didn't hit them all. When 2014 rolled around I decided to not even make one and let my motto be "Que Sera, Sera".

Enter 2015, I sat down and made a list. A short one at that, only containing 5 goals, all obtainable within the year, but all challenging. One is where I want to be financially when the year ends, one is memorizing Scripture, and two are where I want my health/athletic ability to be by year end. 

 I also decided to pick a word for my year: diligence. I love how Dave Ramsey defines it as, "excellence over time." It's not something that happens overnight, it's an intentional pursuit of doing your absolute best over a period of time to achieve the end result you desire. I know I have a bad habit of starting things, becoming overzealous, lacking patience, and giving up when the going becomes hard not as fun as I thought it should be. This is poor character in me that needs nipped in the bud.

What are you setting out to achieve in 2015?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Homemade Granola Bars//Basic Recipe

 I've been on the hunt for a granola bar recipe that I felt good about starting my day with. This recipe is just that, and is able to have so many variations to fit those with diet restrictions. It's also a very basic recipe with a lot of wiggle room to play around with. 

Basic Granola Bar Recipe:

2 cups oats
2 cups of whatever nuts/seeds/chocolate chips/dried fruit. I used roasted pumpkin seeds. But the skies the limit. You could even just do all four cups in oats. Play around until you hit a flavor you love. 
2/3 cup nut butter [peanut, almond, sesame seed, etc]
2/3 cup honey [go with raw...way better for you] 
2/3 cup coconut oil or butter
Spices to taste: cinnamon, pumpkin or apple pie spice, carob powder, coarse sea salt, etc.

In a small saucepan, heat together your nut butter, honey, and coconut oil/butter until melted together and warm. I'd advise stirring it and scraping the bottom to ensure it doesn't burn. . Add to your dry ingredients and stir. You'll want to add chocolate chips after this has cooled so they don't melt!  Press into a 9x11 pan and refrigerate for 2 hours. Because these need to be stored in the fridge, I cut mine into bar sizes and layered them in an air tight container making it an easy, to-go breakfast.

The first time I made these I used coconut oil and coconut palm sugar and added carob powder. I loved the flavor with the carob powder, think peanut butter and chocolate. Yum! But unfortunately, the honey is needed to bind everything together, so I ended up with a cross between bars and granola. The coconut oil was also too strong for my I used butter instead this time. 

I've found other healthy recipes that I want to try soon here:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Life Update|November

Now that Ohio has gotten it's first real snow of the winter, we can officially start discussing Christmas! This snow blew in Sunday evening through Monday, and by the time  it was all said and done, around 3 inches had accumulated. We had a Sunday family dinner which was to include bbq chicken roasted over the fire pit, regardless of the snow falling. Coveralls on, I manned the fire, gladly inhaling the scent of meat roasting and enjoying the new silence brought on by the snow.

Monday morning started off with a blanket of snow and a two hour delay for school, which for me translates into the same hours I normally work. I headed out and as I pulled in front of our building, I get a call from my "Aunt" Shawna that school just closed and did I want to go get coffee. And that is how I had my first official snow day of my entire life. #homeschoolproblems Though, hopefully the next one will be called before I leave my house. ha.

I've been working on gathering and creating Christmas gifts since September, and thankfully, I'm getting closed to being finished! Between two classrooms of kindergarteners and preschoolers, there are 44 students I wanted make sure I had Christmas presents for. A little Pinterest browsing for ideas, and wa-la, Kool Aid play dough kits came to life...for around $0.60 a kit. Can not beat that price, and hopefully it'll be something fun for them to get to make over Christmas break. These would also be great birthday party favors, or just an inexpensive way to bless some little people in your life.

 Found these and other darling treat bags at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Around the Farm

Ohio may not be quite as amazing as New England's autumn beauty, but most years, we hold our own with vibrant shades of orange, red, and golden yellow dotting our land. I've loved watching the transformation of our trees as we've somehow crept into mid October already. Before we know it, the first flurries with be flying and Christmas festivities will commence. Until then, I'm going to finish enjoying the crisp autumn air and savoring the joys of this season.

Two weeks ago we got 2 new babies on the farm, and being freshly weened, they spent their first week bawling for their momma. I went out one afternoon to start getting acquainted with them, but much like the others they weren't particularly interested in me. Only one of the steers has been named, Brutus, and the other four steers and two heifers remain nameless. Since the heifers will be around the longest, I've suggested naming them. It's a shame they are my brother's or I'd have named them Beatrice and Henrietta, or Lucy and Ethel, or something else along those lines. As you can imagine he always vetoes my great suggestions. ;)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato, Black bean & Corn Tacos

For starters, is that not the longest recipe name you've ever heard of? At that rate, they may as well have listed the rest of the ingredients in these delicious tacos! I found this recipe a week or so ago, on Pinterest, go figure....and decided to actually make them.

I was the only one really excited about trying them. Mom and dad both agreed they were good. Morgan ate one little piece of sweet potato and could taste too much onion. Jared wouldn't even try. My cousin stopped in, tried and liked them. Hallie wished she could have one. And I, personally thought they were delicious and super simple to make.

Recipe can be found on Cooking Classy's website. I omitted the fresh cilantro and coriander since we had neither ingredient. Served them on warm corn tortillas with avocado and lime juice. I almost tried making my own corn tortillas...but I wasn't feeling it.

 Eating the sweet potatoes just like this would be great too! They have an awesome kick to them.
 We love having Hallie & Morgan over for dinner on nights when Caleb is working late at Cedarville University!

Life has stayed busy lately! Work, babysitting a variety of kiddos, working on planning Hallie girl's 1st birthday in December, hikes with friends, spending time in the kitchen, and enjoying this awesome fall weather God has provided us with! Planning on still posting my recipe for crock pot yogurt and overnight oats soon! The last batch of yogurt flopped, so I was a little disappointed and never got around to posting the recipe that is normally fail proof! Soon though!

Monday, September 29, 2014

For Sale!

Hey blog readers! I just wanted to alert you to the Instagram closet sale that will be taking place THIS afternoon. My sweet sister and I have gone through our closet to make room for some new clothes and we need to say goodbye to some items. We've seen the success and fun others have had with these pop up sales, so we've decided to give it a go too! We've created a special Instagram just for this, which is @mandoclosetsale. We're going live around 3:30pm eastern time THIS (9.29.14) afternoon. Go ahead and follow and check out the rules of how it all works.