Sunday, December 18, 2016

Whole Family Whole30 - What We Learned

I feel like we started the Whole30 a lifetime ago.

We decided to do it because Liza had several skin issues. I had taken her to the doctor and found that the thing on her inner elbow was eczema. She also had molluscum, a virus that you can't do anything about and can take 1 1/2 to 2 years to clear up... and it spreads if you itch it... and it's itchy. And she also had what was looking like the beginnings of psoriasis on her elbows.

Our hope with the Whole30 was that the skin issues would clear up as we got her body healthier.

While we didn't see as much of a change as we had hoped for, I believe we have definitely seen some progress!

The most surprising is that the molluscum has completely cleared up! She had several spots of it on her arms and legs and it's all gone. Except two spots in the middle of her eczema... if they are even actually molluscum.

The eczema hasn't completely cleared up, but I believe it is looking much better than it did a month and a half ago. Here are some pictures that I took throughout the Whole30. The first is two days in when we were still using the prescribed cream. When we started using the cream it flared up real red. We stopped using it. The second picture is midway through. The last picture is from the last day of the reintroduction phase. I think the eczema doesn't look as deep, if that makes sense. The little bumps in the middle of it are getting smaller. And actually, it appears that the entire thing is getting smaller.

The psoriasis (or whatever it was) on her elbows also seemed to go away.

The bad news is that we ended up dealing with a completely new rash. It was all over her face and arms. (Maybe it's still psoriasis?) The doctor didn't know what it was. It seems to come in waves... she gets really red and the skin gets dry and tough. Then it fades and the dry skin peels off. A week later, it comes back. This has happened three times now. We are clueless.

So that's what happened with Liza's skin issues.

The question I have been asked the most is "was it worth it?"

Was it worth it to make the whole family do a whole30? To do all that thinking and prepping and cooking? Was it worth it?

Absolutely yes!

Sure, there were days where I wanted to collapse on the kitchen floor, curl up in fetal position, and never face the dishes ever again. (I really need a dishwasher!) But it was worth it.

We learned so much.

Liza and Jason learned what a healthy stomach feels like.
They learned that they feel more awake when they eat healthy.
We tried lots of new foods.
The kids learned that they actually do like several foods that they thought they didn't like.
They also learned that they can do something really hard if they make the decision to do it, and then stick with it.

Liza and Jason learned how good it feels to follow through, to not cheat, to do it right. There were so many times that they were faced with tough situations... birthday treats at school, pop at church, birthday parties... and I could just see on their faces how proud they were of themselves.

I think they learned just how strong they are.

So yes... even if we didn't see any improvement in Liza's skin issues... it would still be worth it... simply for the invaluable lessons my kids were able to learn at 8 and 10 years old.

We have all been enjoying being able to eat a variety of foods again... maybe a little too much. Between the kids' Christmas parties at school on Friday and two Christmas parties yesterday... we all feel gross. But since we have done the Whole30 and we all were able to recognize how good our stomachs felt... we are now able to recognize just how gross too much of the wrong foods make us feel, and we don't like it! Hopefully this will help us as we move forward with making healthier choices more often.

And that's the end of our Whole Family Whole30!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Whole Family Whole30 - Reintroduction

We have spent the past two weeks reintroducing foods that are cut out during the Whole30. I figured we aren't going to do a Whole30 again for a loooong time so I better take advantage of the opportunity to find out if anyone besides me has immediately noticeable issues with any of the foods.

When reintroducing foods you have one food group at a time. So day 1 of reintroduction we did dairy. Then we did two days of strict Whole30. Next we did legumes. Then two days of Whole30. And so on until we were done.

Here is how it went for us...

*I already know I have issues with dairy so I did my own thing on this day. I had a salad from a restaurant that I like to get to see how I felt after having it. I was fine! Thank goodness there is still something good I can eat! I also had the dairy free ice cream I get. Not worth it. I felt so incredibly disgusting after eating it. I hated my stomach and my stomach hated me. I was up all night with cramps. It's helpful to be able to name exactly how I feel after eating something. I think I'm finally ready to break up with ice cream completely. I'll miss it like I miss cheese... but sometimes we have to say "not worth it" and move on.
*Mike and the kids had yogurt for breakfast. You would have thought it was the world's best dessert with all the MMmmmm-ing coming from my little people.
*Cheese for lunch. Ice cream for dessert after dinner. Again... you would have thought my kids were visiting heaven.
*I'm the only one with obvious dairy issues. I'm glad no one else noticed problems... but... no fair!!!

*Peanut butter on a banana for breakfast. I think Liza and Jason would have ate the entire jar if I would have let them. They sure do miss their peanut butter! Almond butter is good... but it's just not peanut butter!
*Peas for lunch.
*Chili with beans for dinner. Mike and I both realized that our stomachs didn't feel quite right after this meal. Those beans were definitely affecting us. I was all crampy and bloated. Go figure. Just another thing I have to watch when eating. Food is really becoming not so fun for me! I like chili!

Gluten Grains

*This was another day where I already knew my issues so I again tried some different things that I like to have to see how I feel after eating them. I get a gluten free granola cereal once in a while... not worth it. Not fulfilling at all and just felt heavy in my stomach. I really need to find a breakfast food other than eggs!!
*The others had a bagel for breakfast. The night before you would have thought it was Christmas Eve. Liza and Jason kept saying things like, "I can't wait for tomorrow!!! Bagels for breakfast!!"
*Pasta for lunch.
*Hamburgers WITH A BUN for dinner. Jason said, "I think I'll just eat the bun plain." And as he was eating he said, "I can't believe I've gone a MONTH without this stuff!!" Oh the torture I have put my kids through!
*I had a gluten free bun. It's just not the same. But I didn't feel disgusting after having it so woo hoo! Something I can still eat!

Non-gluten Grains
*Oatmeal for breakfast... with a little bit of sugar, because plain oatmeal isn't that exciting. Actually, I hate oatmeal, so I didn't have any.
*Corn for lunch.
*Rice for dinner. It was soooooo nice to have a side that isn't potato! I need a break from potatoes.

And that wrapped up our Whole30 experience!

Today is our first day off the Whole30.
Yesterday when Jason woke up, the first thing he said to me was, "Last Day!!!" And Liza spent her morning singing songs about how happy she was that she would be able to eat food the next day. As if I haven't been feeding her for the past month and a half!

Tonight we are ordering pizza for dinner. (A salad for me because pizza is no longer on my foods I can eat list. I miss it!!) I'm tired of cooking. And the kids deserve a treat. They did soooo good!

Speaking of treats... around 7:00 last night I looked at the kids and said...
ME: Guess what time it is!?
THEM: What? Huh?
ME: Sugar time!
THEM: *confused* What? Sugar? NOW!?!?!?

We let them have some candy. They were as giddy as could be.

I ate some of the dairy free chocolate that Aldi has and immediately felt gross. Another not worth it thing. I had been craving it for two weeks and was so excited to have chocolate again... but it didn't taste nearly as good as I remembered it tasting. And I wasn't able to sleep well because my stomach hurt and cramped all night. I guess I have to break up with my dairy free chocolate too.

You would think with all the things I can't eat... crackers, cheese, pizza, chocolate, etc... that it would be easy for me to stay skinny. It SHOULD be easy! But somehow I always manage to just put the pounds back on. But speaking of pounds... I lost 8 doing the Whole30 and that has me motivated to not go completely off the rails during all the Christmas celebrations.

This is long enough. I'll write again tomorrow with my answer to the question I have been asked the most... Was it worth it?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Whole Family Whole30 - We made it!!

Day 22
*Liza and Jason have been counting down the days to Thanksgiving... to stuffing and dessert! So I took the opportunity to talk to them about how they feel when they eat well. They both acknowledged again that they like how their stomachs feel... but Liza surprised me when she said, "I feel more awake!" Jason admitted that he did as well and we realized that Liza has been waking up a lot easier in the mornings. We used to have to kind of drag her out of bed, but now she just pops up and is ready to go. Or she is already awake when it's time to wake up.

Day 23
*They seriously can't wait for Thanksgiving dinner!

Day 24
*I didn't end up having any cheats because I already know the effects of gluten and dairy and just stuck to things that end up being whole30 approved anyways. But Mike, Liza and Jason all enjoyed the full meal and dessert. I thought they were going to lick their dessert plates.
*Mike and Jason claim they felt fine after eating everything. Full, maybe bloated... but overall fine. Liza's stomach got crampy. We'll have to sort that out in the reintroduction and see if it's something specific.

Day 25
*Liza's feet are bothering her today. Achy and restless feeling. Could it be a result of something she ate last night? Who knows. I do know that when I reintroduced dairy after my last w30 that my legs got really achy. It's a feeling I had been having often, but haven't had since going dairy free. Again.... looking forward to what we learn during the reintroduction. 
*While we were grocery shopping, Jason pointed to an eggplant and asked if we could get one. We never cooked one up before. But for 99cents?? Why not! I love that Liza and Jason are more adventurous with food. Trying so many things that they never would have tried before. Asking me to buy things I normally don't by so we can try them. This has been an interesting experience!

Day 26
*Our town has an awesome Christmas parade, so we spent our evening at that. Last year was the first time we went, but tradition was started. Go to the parade, collect tons of candy, come home, have hot drinks and sort the candy while watching a movie. We had to have hot tea instead of hot chocolate, and they were definitely tempted while playing with their candy. But it's all sorted and hidden with their Halloween candy.

Day 27
*Is it over yet? I am sooo tired of cooking. And packing difficult to pack lunches. I just want food to be easy again! I want some meals that aren't a lot of work. And I REALLY want someone to come do my dishes for me!!

Day 28
*I've been unusually tired. That's odd for a w30. I usually sleep really well when I'm eating well, but I think stress is winning this week and keeping me from sleeping well... and causing the exhaustion.
*We are all really wanting some good snacks... like chocolate. Liza and Jason can't wait for dairy reintroduction day because they get ice cream!

Day 29
*We decided we'll be going a few extra days. I want to do dairy reintroduction on Sunday when we don't have anything else going on. Then legumes mid-week, gluten the following weekend, non-gluten grains mid-week. Then we will be done... just in time for the Christmas parties!
*Mike cooked up the eggplant today... so good! Breaded with almond flour and topped with crushed tomatoes and some seasoning. We had burgers tonight too... no buns. But I found that the eggplant on top of the burger is delicious! I'm so excited to have a new side! Jason and Liza thought it was good too!

Day 30
*Jason came home from school today, looked at me with his sad face and said, "During Global Learning Lab the teacher made a meal from Brazil (they've been learning about Brazil all quarter) and I couldn't eat it." I asked if it was hard and he said yes. But he loves how strong he feels for sticking to the plan instead of giving in. He's been amazing. I think he has had the most challenges of all of us and he has stayed strong each time!
*Liza faced the same challenge at school... but she remembered that she had an extra Lara Bar in her backpack for occasions like this and was allowed to eat it. Jason was really bummed that he didn't think of that!

Day 31
*Still going.
*I didn't think it was possible... but I'm getting tired of potatoes. We have potatoes as a side nearly every night. I want rice. Or quinoa. Or something other than potatoes!!! 

Day 32
*Now that the 30 days are officially over we are finding it harder and harder to stay motivated. I sent Mike to TJMaxx to hunt down the last packs of potato chips that fit w30... even though w30 discourages snacking. But all the ingredients are compliant so we ate... or more like devoured the small bag.

Day 33
*Jason faced another challenge today... a birthday party. Pizza, chips, cake. He told me it was probably the hardest challenge of the whole whole30 for him because they had ice cream cake. But I sent him with some of his own food and when I went back to get him, some of the other moms that were there were telling me how they were encouraging him and surprised at how well he is doing with the diet. Jason is amazing! Liza might have just wanted to skip the party... She went out with Mike this morning and they stopped at the coffee/bake shop so Mike could get a coffee and Liza stayed in the car because she didn't want to have to look at all the yumminess.

Today starts the reintroduction!

I still can't believe we actually did an entire month... and then some! And that we are sticking it out for the reintroduction. Liza and Jason continue to amaze me with their strength. They have passed up birthday treats at school. They have sat by their friends at lunch watching them eat sandwiches and desserts and doritoes, and yet they remained so strong.

I didn't see as much change in Liza's issues as I had hoped for, but that doesn't mean the w30 was a waste.
1. We are more healthy.
2. I lost 5.5 pounds and Mike lost more. (Jerk)
3. We all feel really good.
4. We learned that we CAN say no to foods.
5. We have had great discussions about being healthy.
6. We found new foods that we like.
7. Liza's molluscum is almost all cleared up.
8. Her eczema is looking sooo much better and I hope it continues to heal.

The newest skin issue that started a week before we started the w30... it seemed to just take over her arms mid-way through the w30. It has been a bit discouraging because we were hoping for solutions and instead got a worse rash. But we are going to continue looking for the cause of Liza's skin issues and we won't give up until we find real answers.

I'm so glad we did the w30 as a family. It's been an experience and I wish I would have kept track of how many apples, bananas and potatoes we have gone through! I'm certain it's a ridiculous amount!

On to the reintroduction!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Whole Family Whole30 - Notes on Week 3

Day 15
*We made it halfway!
*We went to see a movie today. The theater we like is 50 minutes away and we always go to the early movies that start around 11:30. This causes a problem... when to eat lunch? 10:30 is too early. And after the movie is way too late. So we usually pack... and that's easy when you can just pack a PBJ and a cheese stick. W30 complicates things. We ended up with tuna mixed with salsa and homemade mayo, and cucumber slices to put it on. And then we ate on the way. Liza and Jason ended up making a bit of a mess... but it worked.

Day 16
*The molluscum on Liza's arms continues to get better and better! We are pretty excited about this!
*I am soooo over cooking. And doing dishes. If only I had a dishwasher!!

Day 17
*Liza and Jason are counting down to Thanksgiving when they will be allowed to go off plan for a meal to celebrate. They are talking about how they can't wait to feast!!

Day 18
*Honestly... I can't believe we have made it this far. When we first started I thought we might make it two weeks and then have to adjust. But nope. We are still rockin' the Whole30!!
*It helps that every morning when I look at Liza's skin issues I see more and more improvement! More of the molluscum is GONE!! This is really exciting to me and Liza.
*We are starting to repeat meals. I hope the kids don't mind.

Day 19
*I really REALLY wish I had a dishwasher. I am sooo tired of doing all the dishes that go with all the cooking.
*I'm an emotional eater and I have had sooo much stress lately and just want to EAT. Not W30 food... emotional eating food. It's been a struggle but I've stayed the course. But I really really want some chocolate.

Day 20
*Liza and Jason are eating foods that they used to always say they didn't like... foods like peppers and onions! And cabbage.
*Liza's skin issues keep looking better and better, but I don't think it will be all the way clear by 30 days. She also got a new rash a few days ago on her face and arms. It seems to be clearing but it's weird. The doc doesn't even know what it is.

Day 21
*Three weeks!!!!
*Everyone is starting to think about the reintroduction. And Thanksgiving. Jason just wants some bread!
*Mike gets laid off from roofing every winter. He started up his part time winter job today... at our neighborhood bakery! Talk about temptation!
*The new rashy thing that Liza developed is still a problem. It almost looks like it could be more eczema on her arms... but I don't really think that is what it is. At least I hope it isn't!!! Because the patch that has been there for a year is looking really good!

Where am I at?
I'm tired of cooking.
I'm tired of doing the dishes.
I want to eat all the things I can not eat. 
I want to quit... but for Liza... I won't. I will continue through this w30 because my kids are rocking it like champs! They are so strong!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Whole Family Whole30 - Notes on Week 2

Day 8
*I had a total meltdown while cooking dinner. I was just overwhelmed with stress and I didn't realize how involved dinner was... and I lost it for a bit. But dinner turned out to be sooo good! A casserole... and it's been a loooong time since I've had a casserole.
*Liza realized that she had a small cheat yesterday. She didn't even realize it until today. Her math teacher rewards with mini laffy taffy. Liza said as she looked at the container of laffy taffy today it came to her... she ate one yesterday. I love that she was honest and it's also kind of funny that it took her an entire day to realize that SHE ATE A PIECE OF CANDY ON THE W30! :)
*I was really tired today. I hope the energy phase hits soon.
*I am wearing clothes that I wouldn't have dared to wear a week ago. It's amazing how different I feel without all those pounds of bloat!

Day 9
*Liza had a dream that she was eating a piece of cherry pie and realized that it wasn't something she should eat on w30... so we decided she could eat half of it and then it would only be half cheating.
*Me and Mike were discussing how well Liza and Jason are doing. It seems they have just accepted that this is what we are doing. They rarely talk about foods they wish they could have and they don't ask for snacks anymore. I believe it's because our meals are fulfilling and they don't feel like they need a snack.

Day 10
*One of the things I wasn't looking forward to was having to get breakfast for the kids every morning. They were always so good about getting a bowl of cereal or a bagel or making oatmeal on their own. I'm happy to report that they are back to being independent at breakfast! They have both learned to make the banana breakfast on their own and Jason makes his own eggs in the microwave. (It's how Mike does it and that's how Jason likes them now.)
*We had an interesting conversation today...
JASON: I can't wait until we can eat real food again.
ME: What do you mean? We ARE eating real food.
LIZA: Real food like pizza!
JASON: And bread. And cereal. And stuff like that!

Day 11
*Jason was invited to a play date today where there would be pizza and snacks. We ate lunch before we went and packed some w30 snacks so he would have something eat when everyone else ate.
*I've been liking having meals in the crockpot this week. Makes dinner time a lot easier.
*I can not tell at all if Liza's eczema is improving or not. Of course, it's still early in the plan so we'll just keep watching it.

Days 12 and 13
*Nothing to report. W30 is starting to feel normal around here.

Day 14
*While I can't really tell what is happening with Liza's eczema, I have noticed something else. She also has molluscum. We were told this is a virus and... basically it look like pimple type spots. Near her armpit. And it was spreading. We were also told that there is nothing you can do to treat it and it could take up to two years to clear up! BUT!!!! It's going away! Ever since starting the diet it's like they are just drying up and going away. There are some molluscum spots in the middle of her eczema and I read that eczema sometimes forms around molluscum. Those spots are getting smaller as well so we are anxiously waiting to see what happens as the molluscum continues to clear up.
*Today was a fun mail day for Liza and Jason. They got cards of encouragement and $5 from their grandma and grandpa for doing so good with such a tough thing. They also got tea and a note from a friend of mine that wanted to encourage them. They were so excited and immediately made some tea! They enjoyed having a flavorful drink... because sometimes water gets old.


Some recipes we loved this week...
Chicken Zoodle Soup
Roast in the crockpot
Turkey, Broccoli, and Mashed Cauliflower Casserole
Chicken Apple and Sweet Potato - Crockpot meal, the kids didn't really like it but I thought it was good!

Frozen grapes are a great snack.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Whole Family Whole30 - Notes on the first week.

Day 1
*We were motivated.
*There were lots of questions about what we could and could not eat.
*Things got tough when the kids got home from school and claimed I can't do this. I didn't do a good job with their lunches and felt pretty bad about that. I was determined to do better.
*We made it to the end of the day and I rewarded the kids with a fruit smoothie. Not totally Whole30 legit as the Whole30 people frown upon smoothies or too much fruit at once. But hey... I had to keep in mind that they are only 8 and 10 and they are doing a diet that most adults will never bother to try because they say they just couldn't do it. And I had to keep our goal in mind, which is to determine if food is a factor in Liza's eczema.

Day 2
I was shopping and saw emoji mugs with my kids favorite emojis. I bought them with the plan to put all the food in the emoji bowls because how could anything taste bad in them!? I gave them to the kids and they had their dinner in them. Jason said, "These bowls just saved the month!" Well worth the extra money spent!


Day 3
*We all woke up and felt out of it. Tired.
*At breakfast Jason said, "I wish I could eat yogurt." He misses his food.
*I was so proud of Jason! His teacher rewards with tootsie rolls and he brought his home so we could add it to his hidden candy stash. He could have chose to eat it and I would have never known... but he didn't.
*We rewarded the kids with a movie night... because we were too tired to do anything else and we made a big deal about letting them watch a movie that we had decided they weren't ready for two years ago. We figure if they are ready for the Whole30 that they are now ready for the movie as well.
*We had fajitas for dinner. Seasoned chicken, peppers and onions. We topped it with salsa and wrapped it in a big leaf of lettuce. Wrapping it in lettuce was new to all of us but we had fun laughing at the messes we were making. Liza said it's kind of fun trying new ways to eat things. Their mindset about the w30 is changing!

Day 4
*We all woke up feeling so much better.
*Our stomachs feel good.
*I know that when doing a w30 they say you shouldn't step on the scale till it's over because they don't want the focus to be on weightloss. Well this is my third w30 so if I want to step on the scale, I'm going to step on the scale. :) I've already lost 3.4 pounds.
*The crazy food dreams have started. Last week Liza and Jason told me they never got anything out of a vending machine. Well last night I dreamed that we found a massive vending machine with everything in it. I was bummed that I couldn't get the peanut m&ms (my favorite comfort food in the past) because they have dairy. But I let Liza pay for and punch in the numbers for a pop. As it landed in our hands I remembered we were doing the w30 and had to disappoint her by telling her we would have to hide it with her candy and save it till the end.
*Mike dreamed about extra large packs of fresh baked buns on clearance for 80cents.

I asked them how they felt about the Whole30. This is Jason's "eh" face.

Day 5
*Liza and Jason amaze me! They went to a birthday party today and passed on the ice cream, cupcakes and pizza. We rewarded them with a smoothie.
*We are having great conversations about how different our stomachs feel when we eat good food and stay away from the junk. Liza and Jason are learning what it is like to feel healthy on the inside... and it feels good!
*We are no longer using the medicated cream for Liza's eczema. I realized that if we continued to use it and had good results, I wouldn't know if it was because of the medicine or the diet.

Day 6
*Liza and Jason are becoming more willing to try different foods. They are appreciating food more and eating things they used to always pass on. They are learning that real food is real good!
*Liza had a dream that she walked to the pizza shop around the corner to buy a pop, but when she got there she remembered she couldn't have it, so she bought water instead. She's making the right choices even in her dreams!! :)


Day 7
*Lunches are getting easier to pack for the kids now that we have some leftovers built up.
*We've made it one week without any real cheats. I have allowed them to use ketchup a few times... scrambled eggs are hard to eat plain and so is plain chicken. Other than that, we've all stuck to the plan!
*I always lose several pounds when doing w30 and was concerned that Liza and Jason might lose too much weight. They are small enough as it is. I decided to monitor their weight weekly and found that they have not lost any weight at all.

Honestly, I can't believe we all made it a week! And I can't believe that Liza and Jason are doing so good! Sure... they miss some foods. Who wouldn't!?! But they press on and keep going.

I personally feel like I spend far too much time thinking about food... what will we have? What meat needs to thaw? How long will it take to cook this? Do I have enough fruits and veggies to pack for lunches tomorrow? Food... food... food! But we are eating really well and no one is going hungry. Here are some recipes we used this week...

Banana Coconut Breakfast Bowl
Ground Beef and Cabbage
Fajitas... topped with salsa and wrapped in lettuce
Homemade Mayo... we also add seasonings to the mayo to make a dip for our veggies
Apple and sweet potato breakfast bake
Homemade Ghee (you cook the dairy out of butter)
Apple Cider Pulled Pork... I loooved having a meal to put in the crock after all the cooking I've been doing.

Other meals we had were...
Chicken and potatoes and veggies
Spaghetti squash with meat sauce and peppers and onions
Turkey, potatoes, green beans, and baked apples

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Whole Family Whole30

Let me go back a few years and explain how we got to this point...

After the kids were born, grown a bit, and sleeping through the night... and by through the night I mean a solid 8-10 hours without any waking... I found that I was STILL completely exhausted all the time. I went to bed tired and I woke up tired. I went through my days feeling like I just needed a nap.

I finally went to the doctor all please tell me why I'm tired all. the. time. Doc said I was depressed and a pill would make me happy again in no time. I said, "Oh, ok." and walked out without the prescription. Not because I think medicine is bad, but because I believe in finding the cause instead of just treating a symptom. I wasn't tired because I was depressed... I was depressed because I was tired.

Years later I found that I had hormone imbalance issues and treating that made me feel much better. Then I did a Whole30 and when reintroducing the foods I had cut out, I realized that gluten made me tired! It gave me the foggy brain and headaches I could never get to go away. When I stopped eating gluten, the rest of the tiredness that wasn't helped by the hormone treatment... gone!

So now I know how much trouble food can make for a body.

Fast forward to this week...

Liza has had eczema on her arm for quite a while now. I didn't know that was what it was until we went to the doctor a week ago. The doc gave us a prescription cream, which we are using for now. However, on the ride home I knew we would be doing another Whole30... this time for Liza.

I have heard countless people talk of how healing their gut healed their skin. Eczema, psoriasis, other issues... cleared up in 30 days just by changing diet.

We are determined to find the root.

I spent a lot of time talking to Liza about it. I wanted her to be the one to say I want to do this. It took two days but she finally got excited about the idea and became determined to do the Whole30.

I made a meal plan.
The kids had their final candy binge then bagged up the rest and told us to hide it where they can't find it.
Mike cleaned out the cupboards and got rid of what we can't eat and won't last for 30 days.
I went grocery shopping.
And yesterday was day 1 of what we are calling the Whole Family Whole30.

Of course we wouldn't make Liza do it alone! Jason is struggling the most with the idea because he doesn't have a real reason to do it... other than being a support for his sister. I think I motivated him a bit more last night when I told him it will make him stronger and his muscles might show up a little more. He liked that!!

It wasn't easy, but we survived the first day!

There were lots of questions about what they could and couldn't have.
Can I have tootsie rolls, because that's what my teacher gives us?
What about goldfish?
Are we allowed bread?
What are we going to do when someone brings a birthday treat to school.
Can we have crackers?

Nope. Just meat, eggs, fruits, nuts, and veggies.

Will we last the entire 30 days? Nope... Because Thanksgiving is on day 24. But we are giving this a real shot and we are hoping to find the reason behind Liza's eczema so she doesn't have to spend the rest of her life treating it and trying to keep it under control.

Wish us luck! It's going to be tough... especially if we all hit the cranky stage of detox on the same day!!

The Wicks are getting healthy (again) and searching for real, lasting answers!


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dear Leaf

Liza has been getting some creative assignments at school this year. For my creative girl this has been a relief! She comes in the door at the end of the day excited about her homework.

Today she walked in the door telling us about a letter she had to write to a leaf. It was homework. She had to write five sentences but she ended up doing a whole lot more and I think it's pretty adorable... so I decided to share it with you.  She actually drew emojis in her letter when she wrote it. I can't do all the emojis so you'll have to use your imagination a few times.


Dear Leaf,

Don't fall off the tree!!! I'm going to tell you now so you don't fall off. Otherwise you will get covered in snow! :( There are also many leaf rippers! You will get raked with a 100 pointed spear! You will get put in a bag and burned! A dog might poop on you! You could also drown in the spring! Some babies eat or stuff leaves in their diaper! :p You wouldn't still see the stars in the sky. You could get smooshed by a pumpkin! You can get stuck in compost! (poop emoji) Which is YUCK! Tell everybody! Oh! You can't talk! :/ Strong men are very heavy because they have lots of muscles. (flexed arm emoji) Don't let them step on you, so don't fall off the tree! Worms will eat you! Make sure the branch does not let go! You could also get eaten by a lawn mower! I have a petkin lawnmower. Speaking of pets, dogs can eat you!

Step #1: Don't fall off the tree!
Step #2: Still try not to fall off the tree!
Step #3: Make the world record by being the last one on a tree in the world.

Do you want to be famous? Remember all those things I just mentioned. If I was you I would not fall off the tree. I would not want to be eaten, stepped on, pooped on, or something like that. There is a lot of things that are bad down here. Good luck. (four leaf clover emoji) I'll be sure to write back.

Your Encourager,

Monday, September 26, 2016

On Changing Schools... again

Let's start with a quick recap...

4 years ago we bought our house on Liza's first day of Kindergarten.
We bought a house directly across the street from the school our kids would be going to.
3 years later the school was closed and we were redistricted and moved to a different school.
We spent last year at a new-to-us school.
At the end of last school year we were offered a scholarship to a private school.
We began this school year at the private school.

Change is hard.

We looooved our first school. We spent three years getting to know the staff and the families and we became a part of the school and the community. I remember thinking that I would be a super longtime volunteer, because I would certainly continue to help out even after my kids moved on to the Jr High and High school. The school was across the street and therefore it and everyone who came with it was my neighbor.

Losing that school hurt... because we don't just go to school... we build relationships and become a part of the school. Dreams had to end along with the closing of our favorite school.

Then came last year. We had to go to the school that we had chosen to move away from when we were looking for a house. It just wasn't where we wanted to be. But we no longer had that choice... unless we wanted to move again and that was not going to happen. So we did the only thing we could do... we made the best of it.

Liza and Jason made friends. I joined PTO. I got to know the staff.

We spent a year building relationships and becoming a part of a new community. We thought it was where we would be for the next several years.

Then came the scholarship offer. Private school. Different opportunities. Small school like our first one. As we looked into the school we realized it was an opportunity we could not pass up. So we accepted the scholarship and began the application process.

We are about four weeks in and things are going well. The kids are making friends. I'm getting all my questions answered. Liza is beginning violin. Jason is learning to play the recorder. They both joined choir. They are enjoying the projects they do in their classes. They like their teachers. And surprisingly, they even like having a uniform.

It's a big adjustment, and we are still adjusting, but things are going well.

I have had several people assume that something bad happened at the public schools to make us leave and go to private school. I've had several people assume that I decided I wanted to shelter and protect my kids more and therefore sent them to private. I've had several people assume that we decided to go private because Jesus gets taught there. None of those things are true. I can teach them about Jesus at home. The last thing I want to do is shelter my kids. And nothing bad happened in our schools to make us leave. 

Sure, the public school administration drives me nuts... but the teachers have always been outstanding, their hearts as big as they come. The families and kids we have met have added to our lives. We loved the people. We miss them. (Which would be why I found myself at last year's school this morning making copies for Jason's teacher again.)

The problem was that our hearts never fully settled. It was a hard year emotionally as we woke up each morning and saw our empty school across the street. But every day we took another step forward... because we had to.

I've come to think of the past like this...

The school across the street is our first love. It got taken from us far too soon and will always be number one in our hearts.

Last year's school was like a long layover. We were taken care of and treated well during our wait between destinations.

This year... We've landed again and our hearts are settling. Things feel right again.

We couldn't have done it without the kindness of strangers who became friends and favorites during our layover year.

I haven't found my place at the new school yet... but that will come with time... and I'm ok with that. This time around we can enjoy the journey of change and see where it takes us.

Change is hard... but when it's the right change it's a little bit easier.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Day At Presque Isle

We didn't get to take a vacation this summer.... because I had to use the money I had saved up to pay for school tuition instead. I was kind of bummed about that because I love vacations with my family and have really been in need of a vacation. But I couldn't justify spending our savings on a vacation. I need to keep that for when our furnace breaks... or the hot water tank... or the van. We'll be needing that savings soon.

But I really wanted a vacation!

So at the end of August, on the most gorgeous Saturday of all, we woke up early, loaded the van with all our beach stuff and hit the road.

Destination: Presque Isle State Park.

We got there around 10:00 and found a beach... beach 10... because there were teeny tiny waves and the kids wanted waves.

We set up our spot, put on our sunscreen and hit the water.

And then we swam... all. day. long.

We had packed enough food for lunch, dinner and snacks. We wanted to stay forever.

It turned out to be an incredibly enjoyable day. The sun was hot. The breeze kept us from melting. And as the day went on and the wind picked up, the waves grew bigger and bigger. And we continued to swim and enjoy it all.

Some time after dinner we finally put on dry clothes and packed up our beach stuff. We drove to another beach on Presque Isle where it was less windy and much more quiet. We sifted through rocks and sand and were surprised by how much sea glass we were finding. We continued sifting as the sun set and only quit when it became too dark to see.

After a long and fulfilling day, we grabbed some snacks at a gas station and began the two hour drive back home.

My heart was so full and I can't wait to take another trip to Erie. It ended up being the most perfect non-vacation vacation. An entire day with no worries and no complaints and no problems that needed solving. An entire day with the people I love the most. And the best part... it only cost us $30. (Half a tank of gas and a few snacks for the ride home!) Hard to beat!!






























Monday, September 12, 2016

The Sweetest Victory

A year ago my kids were playing soccer for the first time ever. Jason's age group was short on coaches so I volunteered. The league gave me a team of six boys (we played 4v4) and I did my best to teach them the skills and the game.

They were a fun bunch of boys, but we just could not win a game.

I take that back... one game was won. It just happened to be the one that Jason and I weren't there for.

In the spring I had almost the same team, and again we lost and lost and lost. By a lot. Every game. It was a tough season but the boys had such a good attitude and remembered that the most important thing was that they had fun.

So one year in and all Jason knew was what it felt like to lose.

He moved up to an older age group this season, and he wants to play travel. There is a coach for that so I was off the hook. I know that Jason has a lot to learn about the game still, but he loves the game so much and has become a decent player in a year, so travel seemed like a good option. More practices. More games. More competitive. And what I really wanted was to have him on a team of players that had played longer and had a better understanding of the game. I believe they will pull Jason to a higher level of skill and understanding of how the game works.

However, after watching a few practices I realized he was on a young team and I was second guessing my decision to put him on it. I was afraid it was going to be another season of nothing but losing.

This past Saturday was the first game of the season. I went with low expectations, but it turns out the other team was very young as well. Jason played really well and I enjoyed just being on the spectator side instead of the coach side. I was taking it all in, cheering on my Jason, and shouting "That's my boy!" both times he scored.

The game ended and we loaded all our stuff back in the van and headed home.

And that's when Jason spoke up, and in the most satisfied voice ever he said, "I FINALLY won a game!"

Woo hoos and fist bumps all around... because after 15 losses... winning feels AMAZING!


Friday, September 9, 2016

I'm Not the Same Person That I Was Five Years Ago

You know the fantastical fluffy saying, "Let your struggles make you better, not bitter"? Yeah... I failed that one.

I had too many hard struggles in too short a time.
It's left me changed.

I'm not the same person I was five years ago.

My faith is not as pure.
I have a harder time believing in silver linings.
I don't trust as easily.
I hesitate to get involved.
I keep my number of friends very limited.
I am guarded.
The walls that were torn down years ago went back up and have stayed.

This may disappoint some.
I don't care. (See... bitter... not better.)

Life has pummeled me and I decided to stay down for a while instead of getting back up. My heart has been ripped out more times than I thought possible in the past few years... it no longer works quite the same.

I've had purpose ripped away from me,
dreams stolen by a "friend",
passions squashed,
trust abused.

I no longer go to church. (I know. I know... church is the best place to be when you are hurting blah blah blah. Failed that one too.) I don't want to talk to God. I'm afraid that if I do he will ask something of me... and in the end my heart will get broken again... because there always seems to be a trick.  Things that look like blessings always seem to really be burdens.

And I'm exhausted.

In one way, this time of staying down and being less involved in life has become a time of rest. The less I am involved with... the less I have to care about.

I might just stay in this place for a while.
Healing will come some day... but it's going to take some time.
And when healing does come... I still won't be who I was five years ago.

Life has a way of changing us. And right now I feel like I'm going through marriage struggles with life and God.

Let me explain... when we first get married it's a whirlwind of happiness. Our love is pure. Life is good. A fairy tale. And then life happens and disrupts the happy marriage that we know. We may struggle and fight and many don't make it past this stage. But those who do find out that love grows during those times... but it's never the same as it was in the beginning. And while it's not the same, it's better. Deeper. More solid.

So as weird as it sounds... I've left the honeymoon stage with life and God. I'm in the struggle. The wanting to call it quits. (Not literally!) I'm sure someday I'll come back around... and then I'll find myself better instead of bitter. But never the same.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Learning to Swim

Getting Jason to be comfortable in the water has always been a struggle. Last summer we were just trying to get him to put his face in the water without needing to wipe it off. We bribed him with ice cream and eventually he would dip his head.

I was hoping that he would remember that it wasn't bad as we began swimming again this summer.

I was surprised when he started running in and going under.
And then again when he started staying under to see how long he could hold his breath.
And again when he started unplugging his nose while under the water.

He just kept pushing himself to do a little more.

Then we got boogie boards and he started feeling like he didn't need his bubble floaty because he could grab onto his board.

And he just kept learning.

One day I looked out to see him figuring out the freestyle stroke while on his boogie board.


And he just got stronger and stronger... until he was doing it without his board. Not real great, and not real long... but he taught himself to swim this summer.

The biggest surprise was when he let Mike throw him. Last summer he would only allow a barely pick up and drop. This summer he asked for the big throw.


We are currently visiting my mom and dad, and this afternoon mom took me and the kids to the swimming pool that I always swam in when I was a kid. We jumped in and swam a bit, but Jason was checking out the diving boards. I made him prove he could actually swim a little distance and he surprised me with his strength.

He went down the big slide a few times just to get used to plunging under the water and then I decided that even though I was not ready for it, he was. I had to let him jump off the diving board into 12 feet of water.

And he did it! Without any trouble at all!

He jumped in, popped back up, and swam to the side. And then he got back in line to do it again.

I decided to go grab my camera while my mom kept an eye on him. (Because those lifeguards didn't look too trustworthy!) As I was almost to our stuff the lifeguards blew the whistle to clear the pool. I thought it was for a pool break, but turned out they had to close the pool for the day... only 15 minutes after we had jumped in.

We were pretty bummed and I was sooo glad that I let Jason go to the dives so soon.

He constantly amazes me with his determination and courage! He's amazing!

I can't wait to see how he grows next summer!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Don't Be An Internet Meanie

This is where I struggle with the internet... and the human race...

As you know, I've been watching the Olympics as much as possible. I'll probably go through withdrawal when they are over. Well, either that, or I'll remember that there is life beyond the Olympics again.

Anyways... A few days ago the internet was in a tizzy because Gabby Douglas did not place her hand over her heart as she stood on the gold platform and the National Anthem was played. So much criticism was thrown at her because she didn't behave as all the other Americans expected her to. They said she was disrespectful to her country and called her unpatriotic.

A week later, as I was watching the Olympics, I noticed two of our track athletes standing on the medal platform, medals around their necks while the National Anthem once again played. And guess what!? They didn't have their hands over their hearts! They stood just like Gabby Douglas did.

I've been waiting for the uproar. For the name calling. For the hating. But it doesn't seem to be coming. Maybe not as many people were watching? I googled "Olympic track athletes don't place hand over heart" and all that came up was stuff about Gabby Douglas.

How unfair!

I feel like America owes Gabby an apology. I didn't get to watch all of the gymnastics but I thought she acted like an athlete that was there to compete. She's stunning. She's 20 years old and as far as I can tell has some solid character. She appeared very mature. She is someone I have no problem with my daughter looking up to.

And sadly, her team victory, for her, is now tainted by the internet meanies who think they are better than every one else.

I guess my point is... if it's wrong for one, it's wrong for all. And if it isn't a big deal for track athletes to not place their hands on their hearts during the National Anthem... then it's not a big deal that Gabby Douglas didn't do it either.

And the thing about the internet... your words are out there forever. Be careful what you type. And don't be an internet meanie.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Olympic Obsession

It's summer.
I'm often too busy to blog because we are out having fun. Mostly swimming. But I have an odd morning where we are home, the house is clean, and I have time to relax.

So let's talk about the Olympics. :)

We are a family obsessed with the Olympics. During summer months it's rare to find us in front of the tv during the day. It takes a solid rainy day for that to happen. But when the Olympics are on we can't seem to pull ourselves away from the tv.

There is just something about watching super athletes compete for a dream. And so many of them so young.

We love watching sports that we never get to see and know very little about. I find myself completely involved and yelling at the tv. Did you see the finish for the women's cycling road race!?!? I was on my feet screaming... along with the rest of my family... and then we felt the great disappointment of that last second loss for the rest of the day. It. was. intense.

We only get NBC because we don't have cable and that's what our antenna brings in for us. While I don't get to watch everything I would like to watch (like soccer!), we still get to see plenty.

Beach volleyball.
Men's volleyball - I'm certain they can fly.
Water polo.
Gymnastics - beasts!!
Swimming - Katie Ledecky!!!

I love the intensity. I love the slow motion shots of emotion. I love the backstories.

I just love the Olympics!!

We also use the Olympics to talk to our kids about things.

*Even the best bikers in the world wear their helmets... because even they can wreck. And wreck they did!
*Drugs will get you disqualified. Doping is not cool.
*It takes intense dedication to be great at something.
*American pride!

Are you watching?
What is your favorite Olympic event?
Why do you love the Olympics?

Friday, July 22, 2016

5 Days at Camp


Liza and Jason just spent five days at camp... without me.
Five days with no communication.
Five days of someone else getting all their smiles and giggles and memories.

I've been away from my kids plenty of times, but it's always so much easier when I am the one going and they are the ones staying home. Home with people I know and love and trust.

Sending them off with strangers for days while I stay home... not so easy.

I missed my kids.
A lot!
All the things that happen in a day that are so normal I don't think about them... until they aren't there anymore.

I missed seeing their toothbrushes in their place.
I missed peeking in on them at night to see them sleeping.
I missed Jason checking to see if I was awake in the morning, and then coming in to snuggle.
I missed seeing Liza's shoes where she annoyingly leaves them every day.
I missed telling her to put them away.
I missed their giggles.
I missed our adventures.

Sure, me and Mike had our fun. We took a long bike ride and a nice hike. We went to a baseball game. We enjoyed our extra time together... but I think I said about a gazillion times that I missed my kids.

Thursday at 4:30 I got them back!
We had to pick them up at church. It's a 40 minute drive and Liza and Jason talked the entire way home.

They told us about...
the good food and the bad food.
friends they made.
the messy obstacle course with green basketti.
chapel and learning about jumping out of the boat... being brave and bold.
the boys in Jason's room farting at night and laughing about it, instead of falling asleep.
eating so. much. sugar.
knee hockey.
hiking to the cross.
Liza's friend who put 23 packs of sugar in one cup of tea.
Jason's six pack party where all the boys took off their shirts and showed off their muscles.
Liza's friend who liked a boy name Harrison and every time they saw him the friend would say, "Harrison! I like your face!"

Jason told me that if the boys in his group went ahead of the leader too far they would have to stop and do ten pushups... so Jason would run ahead just to get to do pushups.

And swimming! They loved swimming. I was so nervous about the swimming part. Would the adults and lifeguards watch them well? Because my kids are not great swimmers. Jason never swims without some kind of flotation device... but apparently he did at camp. He jumped in and swam. Apparently my kids can do far more than I think they can!

It's good for us to get away from each other sometimes. We learn and grow differently. We acknowledge that we miss each other. And it makes home feel even better when we are all back in our places.

We are back to enjoying the hugs and morning snuggles and telling Liza to stop dropping her shoes (and everything else) in that annoying spot just inside the door.

Mike has a rain day and we are all home... relaxing, recovering, and just being together.

Life is good.

Camp 5

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Biking - Rockland and Kennerdale Tunnels

We have been on the Allegheny River Trail several times. We have done both tunnels... but we never rode the distance between the two tunnels. It's been a ride I've talked about doing for a while now... both tunnels on the same ride. 

It's not a ride that we could do with the kids, but they are at camp this week and Mike had a day off of work yesterday. It rained in the morning but was done by 11:00 leaving us plenty of time to have some fun.

I figured the ride would be around 26 - 28 miles if we started in Emlenton and went as far as the second tunnel. I was close in my guessing. We rode 25.77 miles yesterday. Not gonna lie... it was tough for me. My legs were soooo tired by the end. I'm lazy. I sit a lot. I don't use my muscles. The ride challenged me, but I'm really glad that we did it.

We parked in Emlenton where the trail starts and began our ride. It's a lot different when Liza and Jason aren't with us, and we enjoyed going at a faster pace and not having to pay attention to how the kids were doing along the way. And so we rode.

The first tunnel came up quick, just over 5 miles up the trail.
We continued through the Rockland Tunnel and went the next 6 miles until we arrived at the Kennerdale Tunnel. We rode through that and found we had gone about 13 miles. It was time to turn around and head back.

We love the tunnels! We love the blast of cool air as we approach them. We could feel the tunnels before we could see them.

I'm glad I challenged myself with the long ride yesterday. It was really enjoyable even though I ran over a baby snake, teeny tiny frogs and several of those big nasty millipedes.

Ride bikes!! It's fun. :)

Rockland Tunnel

Getting the lights ready. You can't do these tunnels without lights.

Going in!

Near the end.

Mike riding out of the tunnel.



Kennerdale Tunnel


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