Monday, January 24, 2011

You can run.... But, YOU CAN'T HIDE!!

*BIG SIGH* I am sitting here laughing at myself and at Gina  ( ) who was kind enough to “Tag” me for this… And I thought my days of “TAG, you’re it!!” were behind me. Apparently not so much, as I have found out.  And to be honest I am nobody (yet) out there in this big world of blogging, I am actually quite happy and honored to have been considered let alone tagged.

So now, you get to know seven (7) things about me you may or may not know…. Soooo in no particular order:

1.       Growing up I wanted to be either a fashion designer or an English teacher. I became neither, and now I am a work from home mother and my business is baking and decorating special occasion cakes and pastries.

2.      I went to school for art history and business law and later in life switched careers and went to Culinary school and did work in a restaurant.

3.    ALL of the tools in my garage are mine… I am, as my husband likes to tell everyone, Bob Villa & Martha Stewart rolled into one…and he does very little around the house (He does do laundry though).

4.     I can cook like it is nobody’s business, but I love good old Swanson potpies… Yep that and Kool-Aid. Although it has been a really long time since I’ve had Kool-Aid.

5.    I love Elvis and Neil Diamond…. There… I said it. (Is there a 12 step for this kind of thing?)

6.      I never wanted kids. But now I cannot imagine how empty and un-enriched my life would be without them. They are my greatest achievement.

7.   I love the rain and watching lightening storms.

Okay… the dilemma who to choose now to tag? I have seven (7) victims… Errrr, I mean seven (7) people I need to tag.... Now don’t hate me :)

Okay not to hurt anyone’s feelings because they were not on the list…. Some of the wonderful people that I know as I have read your blogs are geared differently, so I when I read blogs, I looked for those that were geared more to this wonderful endeavor :) . So, my apologies to all those chosen, and to those not. (And yes I am aware I only have 6, get over it I have never been one for rules.)


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Girl in the Zebra Pumps: Just cook... some thoughts and advice

The Girl in the Zebra Pumps: Just cook... some thoughts and advice

Just cook... some thoughts and advice

I know in today's"Got be there yesterday, I want it now" world, cooking for yourself or for your family may seem archaic.

Well here are some stats:

Over 2 thirds of Americans are over weight and over 1 third are obese. If there are a billion people in the US (I have no idea) That would be 30 million people that are obese, 60 million that are over weight. Not sure if that includes children. How horrifying.

My pediatrician said they had a 2 year old that weighed 50lbs. 50 pounds at 2 years of age!!! And sure why not, we give them processed "Chicken fingers" and "fish sticks"... mac-n-cheese, soda and chocolate syrup in their milk. Drive through and french fries... and here are some things that could come with being over weight and not cooking:
Risk Factors for Overweight and Obesity
  • type 2 diabetes
  • coronary heart disease
  • high LDL ("bad") cholesterol
  • stroke
  • hypertension
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • gallbladder disease
  • osteoarthritis (degeneration of cartilage and bone of joints)
  • sleep apnea and other breathing problems
  • some forms of cancer (breast, colorectal, endometrial, and kidney)
  • complications of pregnancy
  • menstrual irregularities
*Sigh* And this is just the tip of the iceberg folks....

This morning I made my husband Chorizo and eggs and pancakes... Bad you say? Yes and no. I buy some of the best chorizo and it is low in grease, I mix in the egg whites. I throw in blue berries (anti oxidents) and wheat germ. Also throw in cinnamon (for Flavor) and nuts (healthy fat) We use real maple syrup not that processed crap. Maybe no less calories, but at least there aren't any preservatives, or artificial colors. And it took me as long as if I jumped into the car and ran over to Jack in the Box and got a couple of their breakfast meals. Also I controlled the portions and I knew what was going into my food. If that was where (Jack in the Box) you got your breakfast or any number of fast food places do you know what went into your mouth and body? Do you know the fat and calories or the portions? Or hey how about that low paid teenager who is pissed at his boss that day and wiped his sweaty face, ran his fingers through his hair, or just took out the trash and didn't wash their hands before making you that yummy breakfast burrito. Because you were too busy, or lazy to make a quick breakfast. Still sound yummy?

It took me maybe 45 mins from start to finish... and it cost me less probably. I didn't have to leave the house (Although everybody needs to get out and have a break, but go walking instead) Oh, and I have a rambunctious 21 month old baby all boy, I blog, I have my own business that I do research on, order for, and answer emails on, and I still have my hubby and other teenage son to take care of and my house and ALL that goes into having a home. And I am not as is as a house either. I am how ever over weight, and could stand to lose a few here and there. But it is mostly that I need to set more time aside for exercise, I do already but not enough. But I do make an attempt at staying and looking good and healthy. I don't make excuses, I just do it and get it done. I don't have any more or less on my plate that anybody else. It's all about choices.

When we eat (and I cook from scratch almost every time, I shudder at Hamburger Helper) we do not sit in the living room in front of the tv, or on our bed. We do not eat in our rooms at all. The tv goes off if it is on and we sit at the table. We eat, we talk, we joke around... And this has proven to make families stronger and better. Plus you are concentrating on your eating and not at what ever is on the tv. When you watch tv while eating you tend to over eat. Bad, bad, bad! The only time we eat in front of the tv is if we are watching a movie and it's popcorn... that type of thing. Never meals.

And parents are even worse with their kids.... they are busy so it's so easy to throw a pizza in the oven or those yucky processed chicken fingers in the oven or microwave and feed it to their kids. That garbage has dyes, and fillers and preservatives. You will put your child in a car seat, baby proof your house, hold your childs hand, yet you can't take the time to be a better parent (And Spouse) and take the time to make something delicious and healthy. How hard is it to take a chicken breast, cut it into strips, dip it in some lowfat milk, or low fat butter milk, heck even beaten egg and then roll it in 100% whole grain crushed flakes and bake it? A little garlic, sea salt, onion powder to season.... and TADAH!!! A great healthy meal for your child and you know where it came from and what is in it. And then, you stop what you are doing and sit with your child while they eat, interact with them. Oh and while you are at it while the chicken was baking you could have cleaned and steamed some fresh veggies, gotten some plain yogurt added some spices or ranch dressing mix to and that would be the sauce for the veggies and the chicken. WOW hard huh? Um no not really. And money wise... buy the chicken on sale and freeze it... probably cost less than Ore Ida or who ever sells that disgusting crap. Cut it up into strips and freeze it in small portions.

Buying fresh veggies and freezing them yourself is cheaper than buying the already frozen veggies in the market. But if you need the convenience of that, frozen veggies are much healthier. Canned veggies for one do not taste good or fresh, and they have added sodium and have lost some nutrients in the canning process. And when you freeze your own fruits and veggies you get them when they are in season and stock up, it is much cheaper this way... so you can have blueberry pancakes anytime.

Also when you shop, buying in bulk IS NOT always cheaper. Look at the unit price that is listed on the shelf for that item. Sometimes buying several of the smaller quantity items can save you money. It is a trick markets have implemented. That is because we have been conditioned that buying in bulk is better and cheaper due to places like Sams Club and Costco. But look again (if they have them) at the unit price as well as your ads. You will see and catch stores trying to pull a fast one on you. 

Also, you have heard these: Never go shopping hungry (eat some carrots or nuts), Take a list and stick to it, put impulse buys separate from what you need so when you check out you don't end up buying them. Store brands are not always cheaper (Look at Mfg coupons and sales), but in the same token store brands can be cheaper, always compare prices and quantity. Do not assume if it is some place like a Super Walmart it automatically is cheaper, especially meats. My daughter bought ground beef at Walmart and when I looked at the price per pound I about died $2.34 per lbs. No Way!  Also for a healthier option use turkey and just spice it up. It's delicious.

Cooking dinner and using fresh ingredients isn't that hard. And it forces you to stop and make time for it and for your family. Sit down and calculate how much you spend eating out a month... than take a month and food shop with coupons, and sales, and smart shopping. Go with a plan and a menu. It doesn't have to be fancy and see what you spend. And here's the thing though, even if it does break even in cost, what is the price you'd pay to be and feel healthier? To have more quality time with your family? To feel like a better and more conscientious parent and spouse? Plus you get to get kudos for really yummy fare.
Stop being lazy or too busy and make the time to cook, it's worth it...
*Next blog will be about exercise....YAY

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Girl in the Zebra Pumps: The world did not end...My pregnancy story... This is for my love and Angel Gabriel

The Girl in the Zebra Pumps: The world did not end...My pregnancy story... This is for my love and Angel Gabriel

The world did not end...My pregnancy story... This is for my love and Angel Gabriel

Not sure where to start.... I have the jumble of memories, and emotions still in my heart and head. I have been trying to figure out the words I want to say....

Gabriel Robert Rudolph... that is my demon angel, blessing with a side glance, ray of sunshine 3rd and final child of 21 months. He is my darling little baby boy.... and he has Downs...

He was a surprise. I was not supposed to have been able to get pregnant. I was told by my doctor. I have fibroids, and cysts... I Can't tell you now how I felt, I remember being scared believe it or not, as if I was some 16 year old that just got knocked up. I mean We almost had my 21 year old daughter out of the house and my now 14 year old in high school that next year.

But I was excited... I wanted with all of my heart another little girl. I wanted a 2nd chance to enjoy ribbons, and ruffles... but here's the thing. With ALL of my children I knew what I was going to have even before the doctors ever told me, my heart knew. And my heart knew I was having a little boy. Now my head decided I was having a girl, so when I got one of those early predictor tests and it told me I was having a boy, to be honest I went into a mini depression. I cried, and cried... but after a week I got over it and resigned myself to frogs and trucks, instead of pink and lace.

I felt him moving already at 15 weeks and saw his precious heart beat with his biological father (yes he came to a couple of my appointments) at 11 weeks. I loved him, my baby boy. Then at the 15 weeks appointment and ultrasound... there were questions about his nucal fold? Nucal fold what the heck is that and what does it have to do with my baby??!! Yes that is what I was thinking. All I could see was this adorable profile... I was then to give blood and they were going to do tests... "okay what ever... do what you have to do" was what I was thinking. I never even thought about my age, never worried about it. I do not feel or look 42.

The tests came back... I had a high probability that my perfect baby had Down Syndrome. I think I stopped breathing. I wanted an amnio. And if you know me you will know I am beyond deathly afraid of needles, so for me to want this, I was sure they were wrong and I was going to prove it. I refused to wait til I was 20 weeks, I wanted to know immediately.. so in my 16th week and with my daughter there to talk me through it (because I was absolutely terrified) I had an amnio. I went to the geneticist got the run down about IF my baby had Downs. She made it a very bleak outcome. And All I knew was what I had seen back in the 80's. I have never really been around anyone who was mentally or physically challenged. I just remembered how everyone would talk in whispers about "them". "They" were kept separate. "They" were a burden to their families and to society as a whole. "They" were rarely ever productive. "They" were a stigma. And the geneticist, confirmed all of this in our meeting again the biological father was with me at this meeting holding my hand.
Holding me after wards quelling my fears.

I had to wait over an agonizing week, filled with fear, and pain... finally our second meeting with the geneticist... she confirmed my baby had Down Syndrome. I stopped feeling anything, I went numb. I sat there and listened to her tell me what my child would never be. He would never be perfect. He would never be "normal". He would never be in love. He would never be married. If below average children had it difficult if we were lucky he may be above average Downs and there fore maybe just below lower than average in terms of "normal" That maybe it would be better off considering our age and so forth (and never out and out said) maybe he should not be brought into this world, because he was a burden, and would never be anything.

I cried all the way home, I could not breathe. I was so depressed, I did not want to ever wake up. I asked God to miscarry the child I was carrying. I was scared.... How was I ever going to be able to handle this child? And if something ever happened to me or my husband how unfair would it to be to burden our other children or another loved one with "This" child. I no longer felt anything for the baby that I was carrying. Who just seven short weeks prior I loved beyond words.

Then in my 20th week we found out he had a upper intestinal blockage, called a Duendenal blockage. This is very serious and life threatening once he would be born requiring his needing surgery with in the first week of his life and then because of it he would require a G-tube to eat through for the first several months of his life. I didn't think I could get sadder.... I was wrong. All the while, I could not come up with a name for my baby. I had emotionally detached myself from him, so I could not name him. I cannot explain this, but with my other children I knew immediately their names, but with this little boy... nothing.

In my 27th week I went to one of the best childrens cardiolgist at Childrens Hospital of Orange County to have a fetal echo cardiogram to make sure the baby's heart was okay. See with Downs babies, they have alot of physical conditions that can occur. Well we were batting a thousand, my little baby also had a very serious heart defect called AV Canal defect. Basically his little heart was going to have to be rebuilt. He had only one valve and only 2 chambers. So between 4 and 6 months he would require open heart surgery to repair and build his heart. I went to this by myself. I almost did not make it home. I left the office I know that much. I know I pulled out of the CHOC parking garage. I pulled into the parking lot across the street and completely lost it. I know I called Gus my husband... I cannot tell you what I said, and I know I was incoherent. I sobbed until I collapsed. I could not drive. I just closed my eyes and asked to die. I am not proud of this, but this is what I did. I am not sure how long I sat there... I think I just ran out of tears. I drove home in a mental and emotional fog.

Everything I had dreamed for my baby was gone. They baby I thought I was carrying was gone. I did not know the baby I was carrying. I did not know what to do. We talked, and I cried more. My husband was amazing. We both were not sure we could do it and after the geneticist painted such a bleak out look for this baby, we just knew we couldn't do it. So we decided to give him up for adoption to a family who knew how to handle a Downs baby.

Then and I cannot tell you how we came upon it, but we found a support group for parents of Downs babies, kids, children. We decided, why not, they may have some adoptive resources. So we went. And that was our epiphany... our turning point. There I was 28-29 weeks pregnant, depressed, feeling sorry for myself and my baby and I walked into a room of love, acceptance, and of Downs children who were not even close to what the geneticist had described. They were playful, happy, stubborn, funny, loving, determined, clever, intelligent, warm, and beautifully "normal". And that is when "Normal" no longer existed. It became "Typical" because really who is "Normal" I cried but this time because I had hope, there was light and my baby boy had a future. Sure it was not the "perfect" future I had dreamed for him, but he had a future and it was perfect for him. And he was perfect after all.

On the drive home we talked and realized how very lucky and blessed we were, and probably even luckier for the geneticist that I didn't have a bat, because I was furious with her and what she almost had convinced us of... and embarrassed that I allowed her to let me convince myself of what my child was. Thing is, like any child, his future was not written and it was not for me or anyone to write it for him. I found his name that week... Gabriel... the angel, my angel. I fell in love with my wonderful baby boy Gabriel.

The rest of my pregnancy was difficult and had it's complications. And the weeks and months after I had Gabriel were extremely difficult physically and emotionally... me almost dying due to undetected heart failure and hospital stupidity. I didn't even get to see my son but for only for 15 mins after I had him before he was rushed off to CHOC. And I was barely home a few days before I was back in the ER and my heart failure finally diagnosed (was not in my head!!!) which kept me in the hospital for about 2 weeks and in a wheelchair for about 5 months and a weight loss of (which I have gained some back).

But we have made it through. Through the surgeries, infections, heart conditions, weeks of hospital stays, G-tubes and face masks. We have ourselves a very happy, very clever, very healthy, very intelligent, teething and crawling and standing, running, climbing into and onto everything little boy. He surprises us everyday with the things he does. He is a blessing and the most amazing thing I have ever done. I could not be more in love and in awe of him. I learn from him every day. He was always meant to be, and he is going to prove that idiot geneticist how very wrong about him, and every Down Syndrome person she is. He is vital, he is amazing and he is a blessing. He is so typical it is scary.

His future is bright and so filled with possibility... My Gabriel... my demon angel. I love you Porkchop.

P.S. If you find out you are pregnant with a Downs baby, or have a Downs baby, consider yourself blessed, they are a treasure. Be grateful for the gift God has given you. It is an honor. God doesn't give just any woman or mother the privilege of raising one of his angels.