About Me

35 years old; it ain’t the end, but it sure ain’t where I began…

I have a tradition of writing a post on my birthday.  It’s typically one that is a little more personal, a glimpse into my little world and my goals or dreams, or just a few fun facts to help you get to know the real me a bit better.  While I try to be as real and authentic as I can in all my posts, it’s hard to know what each reader walks away thinking.  So these are always a good way for me to open up a bit and share a piece of me with all of you.

So, this year I guess I’m 35.   I have this convenient problem of never really being able to remember how old I am.  I mean,  is it 33 or 34?  I just never know….because it all still feels like 28.    I have this fear that I’ll wake up 70 years old and still feel 28, which seems like a nasty trick.   Just stuck inside some old body.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I used to think 35 was old.  Like, ancient.

Sigh.

And now I am 35.

Ancient.

This year I don’t really have a list of fun facts to share with you (like I did at 32.)  I’m not fearful of the coming year, wondering what it will bring and terrified of losing myself (like I was at 33).  And I’m not really too sentimental about reflecting on the past year (like I was at 34).   This year?  I feel…..content.   Weird, huh?  And I’m not really sure how to explain it other than things are good.  I feel healthy.  I feel happy.  I feel like maybe I’m finally figuring this mom thing out.  I feel motivated.  I feel confident.

Content or not, I still find myself questioning everything constantly – how can I be a better mom?  Can I do better at my job?  Do I even like my job?  Why can’t our house stay clean for just one freaking second?   How can I strengthen the relationship with my Husband?  When do I get some time to myself?  Why are there no houses for sale that I like in Missoula?  Shouldn’t we be talking about baby #2?  

I mean seriously.  I question everything.  Big things.  Little things.  Important things.  Inconsequential things.

And the more I think about it, the more I think that’s ok.  I don’t want to settle and never question anything.  Questioning things makes you think.  It makes you evaluate your circumstances and helps you realize that if you don’t like something you can change it.  Or you can work towards changing it.   I am living proof of that.  I made a huge commitment to myself this year and put myself and my health first by changing my diet (and my families diet).  And I’m seeing positive results because of it.   And I did it because I questioned the way I was feeling; I knew it wasn’t right and it could be better; it could be different.

So, after a little thought and reflection about how I feel regarding turning 35, I decided that my goal for this year is to JUST BE.

be happy.

be thankful.

be thoughtful.

be creative.

be spontaneous.

be loving.

be unique.

be daring.

be me.

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If that means questioning things, so be it.  I’m ok with that.  As long as I remember that overall I do feel content and happy right where I’m at.

I’m the first to admit that letting yourself “be” is likely harder than it sounds.

And I hate to sound cliche’…but as a mom you really do tend to put yourself last.  To put your own feelings, wants, needs and dreams aside so that your family can flourish.  That’s ok to some extent.  But you can’t put yourself so much in last place that you’re forgotten.

That’s why this year I’m going to let myself just be.  It doesn’t mean I’ll be first all the time, or second or third.  Sometimes I’ll still be last.   But as long as I’m being true to myself and honest about what I’m feeling then it’s ok.

I feel good about turning 35, even if it’s hard to remember or acknowledge.  I’m looking forward to this year and what it holds, and I’m going to let myself be happy and enjoy it….no matter how ancient I am.

I may also enjoy some Big Dipper ice cream and just be stomach-achy.  But that’s another story.

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As always, I’ve borrowed my title from one of my favorite Jewel songs, Stephenville, TX.   Take a listen here:

a new adventure

When I first started this blog my intention was to talk often about living in Montana and the many adventures I find myself on – whether it be skiing, rafting, running, camping, hiking or biking, I’d say that the Hubs and I do our best to take advantage of living here.  I’ve written a few posts about it (like here, here, here, here, here and my favorite, here), but for the most part I haven’t used this space to capture those moments.   Don’t get me wrong; I spend a lot of my time and energy pursuing those activities, it’s just that when it comes to this blog I have chosen to use it to document some of my other passions – and who am I kidding –  to ramble on about nothing.

So awhile back when a group of friends started talking about starting an adventure blog I was pretty excited.  A team of contributors?  All with different interests and passions?  Sounded like a good idea to me (mostly because I could contribute, but really only need to write one post once a month).  Because let’s get real:  much more than that and TWSST would suffer even more than it already does.

If you want to follow us on this new adventure, check out Montana Backcountry.  You’ll find content ranging from hunting, skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, wild game recipes, trail running, rafting, climbing and camping.  Of course I’ll bring the perspective of trying to do all of that with a 2 year old toddler…so that always makes for a good story.

You can find us here:  Blog, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

We are fairly active on Instagram and Facebook, and the blog is picking up speed.  So go ahead, pick your poison (or all of them)!

how I talked myself into doing whole30 (a.k.a. the day I may have gone crazy)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought I’d celebrate by talking about my heart.  Er….my health.  Whatever.  All I’m really trying to do is segue into this post and it’s not working….

So….

Remember the other day when I mentioned that scary, scary term:  elimination diet?   I want to talk about it.  So here’s the deal.

<<warning:  lots of words.  Probably too many words.>>

I haven’t been feeling like myself for awhile.   I’m not even sure when it happened….but it’s been quite some time.  I think normally people would describe me as a calm and patient person…but those aren’t words I’d use to describe myself as-of-late.  I am quick to get angry.  Quick to lose my temper.  I don’t have the patience I want to have with Abby (granted, I’m not sure any mother comes equipped with enough of that).  I’m snappy.

“And I packed your angry eyes…just in case!”  via 

And I’m T.I.R.E.D.    All.  The.  Time.  And even though I’m tired, I can’t sleep.  I toss and turn and toss and turn and sit there thinking about how tired I am.

As if that weren’t enough….the headaches I thought pregnancy had cured me of are back.  Ugh.

And often my stomach hurts after meals.

AND….no just kidding.  That’s it.  That’s enough isn’t it?

So really, I get the sense that things aren’t going very well for me health-wise.  Even though I DO exercise several times a week and weight-wise I am at one of my lowest points….these other issues seem to overshadow any progress I’m making there.  And I know that if I were to stop exercising things would get even worse so really I think exercising has been my saving grace these past few months.  I feel awesome after an Oula class.   The opposite of angry.

But I know I don’t have to live like this.   Angry and on-edge all the time.  Tired.  Grumpy.  Achy.    And the worst:  trying to hide it.

So I decided it was time to do something about it.  Time to OWN that anger and show it to the door.  Politely of course.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I struggled with depression prior to getting pregnant.  I finally got a prescription that seemed to help but I stopped taking it immediately when I got pregnant, not wanting to take anything questionable while growing my little critter (yes, that’s what we called her).    I contemplated going back to my Primary Care physician again this time but knew I would walk away with a new prescription that would essentially cover up the symptoms.   And I decided that I don’t want to cover them up.  I want them to go away.   I want someone to take the time to treat ME.  Personally.  Not just another “mom who needs Xanax and Ambien.”   (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!  I just personally wanted to try and treat this without medication first).

So that’s how I ended up nearly passed out in a Naturopath’s office.

True story.

Turns out finger pricking is worse than needles for me now.  Awesome.

Annnnyways.  That first embarrassing visit was nearly 2 hours.  Two hours!  Isn’t that amazing?  It felt like she was really listening to me, and asking lots of questions and actually wanting to hear my answers.  I had never really experienced anything like that in a medical setting.  It felt good.  She asked that I get some blood work done and we also decided to  do a food allergy test (hence the finger pricking….”ing” meaning plural.  I got pricked twice because one finger started drying up.  Ugh).   My friends….you know I’m serious about something if I’m willing to get pricked and poked, right?  I mean I may have given birth naturally but I’m still not a fan of needles of any sort.

Fast-forward two weeks.  Results are in.

My blood work looks good all around except for Vitamin D.  Which should really be NO surprise to anyone living in Missoula.  We have no sun this time of year.  In fact, she said my D levels were some of the lowest she’s seen.  So you can bet I left with a big ‘ol bottle of liquid sunshine (to be clear, I left with a bottle of Vitamin D drops…don’t want anyone getting any ideas).

My food allergy test was a different story.  An interesting story to say the least.   Possible sensitivity to:  eggs, almonds, dairy, barley, corn, gluten, rye, spelt, sunflower seeds and whole wheat.  Must I go on?  Because really….what’s left?

And that’s when she said it:  “I’d like you to try an elimination diet where you eliminate all of those foods for 30 days.”

At that moment I thought, “Yes, of course.  That is the most reasonable next step.  I’LL DO IT (aftermyvacationthankyou)”

Then I went home and I started googling.  Reading (articles, blogs, research).  Pinning recipes.  And I started to freak out a little bit.   Truth be told it was a little overwhelming.  I could try and eat Paleo…but paleo allows eggs and nuts.  I can’t have eggs and nuts.  I could go vegan….but I also need to eliminate gluten and wheat.   And if I don’t allow myself to eat meat then I really have no food choices.   I really will need to eat meat.

So I did what any other rational person would do and walked away from it all for a day or so.  I just needed to give myself some space and rethink the whole thing.

I think the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around was that this whole elimination thing was in my own hands.  There was no structure.  The freedom of “making this my own journey” was too overwhelming.  And that’s when I started seriously considering trying to do Whole30 – a program I had read about before that is even more restrictive than what my Doctor was asking me to do.  In addition to all of my “no’s” I would be saying “no” to alcohol (gasp).  Any type of sugar including honey and maple syrup (say what?).  Legumes & white potatoes (whatever).   But at least there was structure.  There was a clear PLAN for what you CAN eat and what you CAN’T eat.  And I don’t think anyone could argue that going without sugar or alcohol for a month is the worst idea ever.  I mean, no one WANTS to do that.  But is it possible?  Sure.

In some ways this extreme version of elimination is more comforting to me than trying to piece things together on my own.

I just imagined me staring at my pantry each morning thinking:  “my god I’m starving but I don’t know what to eat.”   That, to me, is just asking for failure.

So after thinking about this for several days, and reading a LOT about it….and being about 90% sure that this was the direction I wanted to go, I came back to my research with a different approach.  I contacted people I know who have done similar things (either an elimination diet, paleo, or dealt with food sensitivities).  I got their advice.  I asked for their favorite recipes and resources.   And you know what?  After hearing from them I felt much more confident in what I was doing and how I could make this work for 30 days (or more).

But I’m still scared shitless to be honest.  And most definitely over-thinking it.  Hey –it’s what I do best.

But it’s only 30 days.  I mean I can do anything for 30 days really.  After that I can start to reintroduce foods and see if they’re truly something I need to steer clear of, or if I can stuff my face with cheese all day again.   If I can be super strict about this for 30 days I may get some much-needed answers about stomach aches, headaches, tiredness and general irritability.  (Ok scratch that, I better damn well get some answers).

If after 30 days I can pack my angry eyes away for good….it will all be worth it.   Until they’re really  needed of course.

And since my Dr. has asked me to keep notes on how I’m doing…I plan to check in here on the blog once a week (now won’t that be a treat).  I’ll tell you what I ate that was good…how I’m feeling and if you really CAN survive without beer or wine.

Hate to leave you with a cliffhanger like that…but this is long enough.

And if you have any advice or words of encouragement for me….I’d love to hear it!   I’m seriously not starting until after my vacation (because my health can wait, right?)….so if you need me I’ll be taking a sugar bath.

currently

I’ve decided to quit acknowledging the fact that my posts are so few and far between.  It makes me feel guilty and question whether or not I should just call it quits.  In fact, there have been a few times over the course of these past few months that I’ve actually “written” my “it’s not you, it’s me” post in my head.  But.  I’m not ready to be done.  So if you’re reading this, thanks for coming back and putting up with my absence; that was certainly quite a doozy, wasn’t it?

The problem with being gone for so long is that there’s just so much to say.  I feel weird just jumping back into a big ‘ol post (surprisingly I have a few waiting to be published….but it just felt weird posting those first).  So I thought I’d catch you up.  And since I don’t know where to start, I’m going to steal an idea from one of my favorite little bloggers that allows her to just write.  Sorta like a random ramblings but with a bit more purpose so that hopefully I can get back into the groove of writing more often.    So here goes.

Currently I am…

drinking approximately 1 inch of wine that I left in the bottle.  Seriously.  1 inch.  I want to go back in time and punch myself in the arm for being so rude.   Come on, at least leave a three-inch pour for the next poor sap!

<<disclaimer>> I wrote this last night…so no….I’m not drinking leftover wine at 9:00 in the morning.  At least not today.

watching Modern Family.  What I would do without that show, I’m not sure.  But I certainly wouldn’t laugh as much.  Seriously….d.i.e.

not watching:  Parenthood.  Gah.  So I joined Amazon Prime back in October and thought it would be a good idea to start watching Parenthood from the beginning.  I didn’t start watching the show at all until Season 4, so there were three whole seasons of drama I has missed out on.  So yeah.  Every freaking episode was at my fingertips and I apparently have no self-control when it comes to TV shows.  It can be 11:00 p.m., I can be drooling out of the corner of my mouth and barely awake, but I think….one more….just one more!  I have to find out if Julia gets the baby!   Ugh.  So now that I’ve finally caught up I vowed to NEVER, never watch another TV show like that again.  So that’s why I am NOT watching Parenthood (or Dexter, or Downton Abby or anything else for that matter!).  Until of course the new Parenthood airs on February 27th.  I can handle being spoon-fed one at a time.

loving the snow dumping outside.

feeling frustrated that I can’t go skiing.

cooking lots of good food.  In fact I made not one, but two batches of soup today.   I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut lately so it feels good to be back.  On a related note:  can I just give a shout out to Gwyneth Paltrow?  Yeah weird.  But I got her cookbook (yes, a real, physical, hug-it-in-your-arms book) for Christmas and it’s amazing.  Both soups I made were from there and they’re delicious.   There isn’t a trace of sugar, dairy or gluten in the book…if you care about that stuff.  I really don’t (except dairy)…but I will.  Read on….

eating all of the dairy, eggs, wheat, nuts and gluten that I can before it’s taken away from me.  Kidding.  Kind of.  This is a whole post in it’s own (and one I think I’ll really take the time to write about).  But I’ve been going to a naturopath and after some blood work/food allergy testing, I’ve been told I need to do an elimination diet.  Apparently I may be sensitive to dairy, eggs, wheat, gluten, almonds and corn.  I’m totally on board with doing this, but please, praytell…..what am I supposed to eat?!?!  Specifically for breakfast.  I think that’s the meal I’m struggling with the most.  No eggs, toast, yogurt, granola, cereal, pancakes, waffles.  Hello!  Ugh.    So yeah,  I kinda want to just put an IV of cheese into my system right now until this elimination business starts.  That’s a thing, right?

seriously considering trying to tackle the  Whole30 thing for my month of elimination.  I mean why NOT just go ahead an eliminate sugar while I’m at it.   Have any of you done/tried that before?  I’m accepting all advice at this point.  i.e. how do you live without cheeeeeese?

crafting a little Valentine’s Day gift for Abby and my nieces and nephews.

DIY-ing some rolling-baskets to contain the toy clutter in our living room.  I’m kind of dying from the clutter.   You know how there are blogs and blogs about IKEA-hacks?  Do you think Target-hacking is a thing?  Cuz that’s what I’m doing.  Maybe I’ll post about it.

missing this place:  (and those tiny pigtails!!  They are like twice that long now)

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reading nothing.  I’ve got a bad case of the I-can’t-read-bug.

obsessing about Oula.  Still!  I absolutely love this class…I seriously get angry if I have to miss it.  It’s my outlet and I neeeeeed it.

starting a new blog with a group of friends that I’ll be a contributor to.  More to come on that later.

planning a ski trip this month.  A child-less ski trip.  Watch.  out.  world.

remembering I’m halfway through Abby’s laundry and have at least another hours-worth before I can go to bed.  Ughhhhhh……dang it.

counting down the days until World Market opens it’s doors less than a mile from my house.

hoping that I really will make time to blog more.  I want to.  I’m ready.  I need it.  I have so many projects to tell you about, and Lord knows I’ll need some support during my elimination business.   I am hoping that I can really make writing a priority again.  I just feel better when I do it.   Plus….that little quiz on Facebook (what career should you have) told me I should be a writer.  So clearly this is my calling.

Obviously I have some laundry to tend to…so I best be leaving.  Annnnnd my wine is gone (1 inch equals two sips…for future reference).

Here’s to chatting again soon….

34 years old; it ain’t the end, but it sure ain’t where I began…

The past two years I’ve written a post on my birthday and even though I guess I don’t write much anymore, I would feel remiss if I skipped this year.

I re-read both of my previous posts and wonder if I’ll be able to do them justice…they were just a perfect reflection of where I was at the time.   Funny how that works.  You can read 32 here and 33 here.

But I think the one that struck me the most was last years.  I had listed six thoughts about the coming year.  So I thought it would be fun to go back through them and see how things turned out.   Ready?  Ok.  (Hit it!)

1. 33 will undoubtedly be the hardest year of my adult life. I know this already because I’ve spent the last 10 weeks with a little taster of what’s in store for me.

I should probably just go ahead and buy a crystal ball to set up shop, because this prediction was dead ON.  Wow.  This past year has been hard.  Really hard.  I’ve struggled with a lot with things….big things like “who am I now?”, “what kind of mother do I want to be”, “can I handle this?”,  “am I happy?”  “do I want/need to work?”  and “how the hell do you get a kid to nap?”  to little things, like “what am I supposed to feed my kid?”, “should I really go to Target every week?”,  “where can I buy dry shampoo in bulk?”  and “can I really wear yoga pants every day?”

Let’s just say it’s been an adjustment.  Having kids is hard.  Do people talk about this?  Am I supposed to be talking about this or should I just gloss over all of the tough times?   I feel like it’s ok to talk about it, because yes, it’s hard.  It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do….but it’s also the most important.  To acknowledge that something is bigger than yourself, and LET it be bigger….is very humbling and surprisingly rewarding.

2. 33 will also undoubtedly be the most rewarding year of my adult life. As hard as it’s going to be, I believe that it’s the most important job I’ll ever do.

Yes.  Just, yes.

3. I want need to make sure I don’t lose myself in all of the changes happening in our lives. I still want to be me.

This has been harder.  I had really good intentions to make myself a priority, but it’s obviously easier said than done.  I think the resounding question regarding this is….WHEN?  When can I focus on myself?   At 5:00 a.m. before Abby gets up at 6:00?  During one of the ONE hour naps she’ll MAYBE take?  Or is it after she goes to bed at 7:00 when I’m utterly exhausted?   To be honest….none of those are appealing.  Obviously.  I think that’s why I’ve struggled with blogging.  I desperately want to.  And I guess if it were more of a priority I would MAKE time.  But there are so many other things I need to do that it unfortunately takes a back seat.

So, obviously I need to work on this.  And I think I’m doing better.  Now that I’m done nursing, Abby doesn’t physically need me.   She’ll always need me, but not in the same way (where I’m her main food supply).    I think this has helped me mentally as well.  The Hubs can feed her just as easily as I can now.

I didn’t expect it to take so long, but I’d say now (within the last month), I’m finally starting to feel like me.  To feel adjusted.  To feel normal.  So I joined the gym so I can return to Oula (you should really watch that video, it’s kinda hilarious).  I signed up for a training class to run a half marathon.  I’m getting back to me.  Slowly but surely.   This is something I’ll continue to work on….and hey.  Maybe soon I’ll get back to blogging (I mean, I’m dying to tell you about the awesome rug and play area in Abby’s room, my ombre kitchen stools and my banishment of all-things-red from the kitchen!).

4. I want to create an environment where Abby can learn and explore her passions.

I consciously make an effort towards this everyday.  I know Abby is still young, but I think if I start now it will help when she’s older and starts forming opinions.

I just really hope she likes to ski.  Please please like to ski!

5. Speaking of passions…I want to explore my own. Lately I’ve been feeling a little lost…as if I don’t really know what I’m passionate about anymore.

Still working on this one too.  But after a conversation with my step-mom about this, I think I’m re-defining my view of passion.  Just because I don’t feel passionately about things like hunting, running or rafting ….doesn’t mean I’m not passionate.   I’m passionate about family.   Being a mom.  Being a sister, daughter, aunt.  I like to make things with my hands….like healthy meals and (ok) cookies.   But I also (strangely) like to build things with wood, paint, decorate and refinish things.  I like the outdoors….hiking, skiing, walking and taking in the beauty of this wonderful place.

I have a lot of interests and maybe I don’t need to have strong passion for one thing. Maybe it’s ok have a little passion for a lot of things.

6. I want to slow down.   I want to refocus on what’s really important: Friends. Relationships. Family. Memories.

I actually think I’ve done ok with this.  I don’t over-extend myself often.  I’m learning to say no.

Of course there are times when things just get busy.   For instance, this is our first weekend home in three weeks.   But you know what?  We were spending them with friends and family having fun.  Making memories.   Is my house a disaster?  Of course.  But it can wait.   And I’m learning to be ok with that.    It’s not easy, but it’s important.

So yeah, I guess overall I’m doing ok.   I would still love to blog more.  But I’d also like a new house and a stylist (seriously, probably shouldn’t be wearing yoga pants and torn jeans all of the time).

For now, I’m just trying to be ok with the way things are.  My best friend here in town has always worked hard to be happy NOW.   Not “when “x” happens,” or “as soon as “y” happens.”   Be happy now.  Because life is short and you don’t know what tomorrow holds.  And you know what?  She is one of the most optimistic, happiest people I know….even though life isn’t perfect for her.    Heck, is it for anyone?

If I know anything, it’s that life is precious…and tomorrows aren’t guaranteed.  So hug your kids (hug yer wife!) and live for today.

(Please tell me someone got that little play on words??)

Anyhoo.  Guess I’m getting all sentimental this year.   I’m sure I’ll read this next year and wonder why I’m being such a sap.

OR, I’ll be running a very successful psychic shop and TELL you why I was being all sentimental last year.

As always, I’ve borrowed my title from one of my favorite Jewel songs, Stephenville, TX.   This year I thought I’d share it with you so you know what the heck I’m talking about.