Friday, February 26, 2010

40 Days

It's Lent. We're into the 10th day of it. This is a time of devotion and reflection, as well as sacrifice for many people... as we approach Good Friday and Easter, Jesus' death and resurrection on the cross. I've never, ever, ever given up something for Lent in my whole entire life. I've always felt that through prayer and meditation, time with God, and fellowship with other believers, I'd be able to quiet my heart and prepare for such a significant, wonderful thing as Easter. So while others around me were drooling over my coffee or my chocolate, I kept enjoying what I was consuming and felt good about my decision to do so.

This year is a new year, and a new story. We had some friends who had done the Maker's Diet last year for Lent and were planning to do it again this year. They invited us to participate in the experience with them. We read, thought, and prayed about it, and decided to join them in the journey along with two other couples.

If you've never heard of the Maker's Diet, it was designed by a man named Jordan Rubin, who was deathly ill with crohn's disease that many had said was the worst case they had ever seen. He was essentially given a death sentence. He began as a college student weighing 180 pounds at 6ft 1in tall, and his illness brought him to an emaciated, very sickly 104 pounds. He visited a gazillion doctors and tried a gazillion treatments but to no avail... he just kept getting worse. He was determined to get better and avoid his last ditch resort given to him by the medical community - surgery to remove the better part of his large and small intestine.

He began a new way of eating and thus living, but following a biblical diet and returning to the basics - whole foods in their original, unprocessed state. The short version is that he got better by eating this way, and therefore desired to share this with others, thereby creating the Maker's Diet and writing a book about it.

The diet is a 40 day experience broken up into three phases. Phase 1 is the most strict, eliminating all sugars except 1 tablespoon of honey per day, and all carbohydrates. Yes, all carbohydrates. I don't think I've been without carbs ever since I started eating solid foods as an infant.

Tim and I began a slower entry into the diet on Ash Wednesday, because we had just gotten home from vacation and needed to work on purging our kitchen of the foods we're to avoid. We began full force on Sunday. This was an intimidating experience for me, because I already struggle with trying to find a good balance between home life and work life - being a good mommy and wife (and thus feeding my family well) and being a good physician - something I love and am passionate about - serving a community where the need never ends. I felt that the only way we'd be successful would be to have a meal plan (a suggestion from a friend who had done the diet last year). So I went to town planning our meals for a week and taking shopping trips to Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Giant to ensure I'd have the right stuff in the house.

This week we've eaten well. I made several dishes ahead of time last weekend, and we followed the meal plan, allowing for a little flexibility. The food has been delicious. We've also started each morning with 15 minutes of yoga stretches. When the alarm goes off each day, one of us always asks the other if we should skip, just for one day... but then we manage to make our way downstairs for our "Morning Cup of Yoga." Sebastian has been sleeping through the night every night this week except for last night, which has allowed us to do our Yoga before he wakes up.

Before starting this diet, I had tried to research a bit about the Maker's Diet for nursing women, but to no avail... I originally found very little out there. In the past several days, I've found a little more info, but I was looking even more for answers. You see, I started to be concerned when I noticed that my milk supply while pumping at work seemed to have plummeted. I was only pumping about 1/3 of what I was used to pumping... which caused me to be a basket case. This is something I take very seriously, and VERY personally. I wondered if it was the diet, or the fact that Sebastian had been sick last weekend and nursing less, or the fact that he was sleeping through the night more consistently, or the stress I've been under at work, or the diet, or the diet, or something else... I decided to give it some time and see how the rest of the week went, but each day seemed as bad, if not worse. Watching the bottles fill up less than usual only produced more stress for me, and I'm sure made matters worse. I had jokingly said from the beginning that if my milk supply was affected, then I was out. I never anticipated such a drastic response, and I do believe that the change in supply is probably multifactorial, but as my mom said, the diet was the only thing I really had control over. Unless I wanted to start waking my sleeping baby up in the middle of the night to nurse... uh, no...

So, I called the lactaction consultants at the hospital to discuss the diet with them. They felt that if I was getting enough calories from things other than carbs and sugars, then it was more likely the other things like Seb being sick, sleeping more, etc. I failed to mention to them that I had lost 5 pounds in 4 days... and today was another pound shed.

I finally called Garden of Life, the company that published the book and is behind the Maker's Diet, and I spoke to someone on the phone at length. She told me that they don't make official recommendations about nursing or pregnant women, and they encourage people to talk to their doctors (didn't tell her I was one of those), but if they were to recommend anything, it would be to start with phase 3 instead of phase 1. That means adding back in some grains - like sprouted bread (e.g. Ezekiels), brown rice and oatmeal - my saving grace - as well as a few additional fruits and some other things.

Tim and I had been praying about this, and I'd enlisted a few other friends and family members in prayer as well. The lactation consultant outlined a supply boosting routine that I could try for several days, which I've been doing since yesterday. But when I had a bowl of oatmeal this afternoon, it was the. best. oatmeal. I've ever had. It tasted great, but I also think it was very freeing to feel supported in my decision to skip over to phase 3. Thanks, honey. ;)

We'll see how it goes over the next several days. I'm continuing to follow the majority of the recommendations for the diet, but adding in some additional food items in an effort to not shed a pound a day.

It was frustrating for me to not find very much info out there about the Maker's Diet, especially related to people's personal experiences AND nursing, so that was partly my impetus for writing this post. I did find, however, some info at this website, which I found helpful to read. I thought others might find it useful to read my thoughts, and I also thought I'd post my menu plan for this past week. I'll have some recipe posts coming soon.

Day 1
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with chopped veggies & goat's milk cheddar cheese
Lunch: curried carrot soup & salad
Dinner: pakistani lentil curry & steamed broccoli

Day 2
Breakfast: goat's milk yogurt with mixed berries
Lunch: curried carrot soup, slices of goat's milk cheddar cheese, celery sticks, raw almonds, grapefruit
Dinner: chicken curry, butternut squash stir-fry, salad

Day 3
Breakfast: fried egg(s) with salsa
Lunch: chicken curry, butternut squash stir-fry (leftovers), grapefruit
Dinner: baked salmon, asparagus, salad

Day 4
Breakfast: kefir and berries smoothie
Lunch: snap peas, curried carrot soup, almonds, grapefruit
Dinner: pakistani lentil curry & swiss chard sauteed with ginger, garlic, & tomatoes

Day 5
Breakfast: Tim fasted, but I ate goat's milk yogurt with mixed berries
Lunch: Tim fasted, but I ate leftover chicken curry and butternut squash stir-fry
Dinner: bunless turkey burgers with goat's milk cheddar cheese, pan-seared asparagus, and sauteed zucchini, red peppers, onions and garlic with Herbs de Provence seasoning

Day 6
Breakfast: scrambled eggs and veggies with salsa
Lunch: salad, hard-boiled eggs, and leftover lentils for Tim and curried carrot soup for me
Dinner: curried chicken with carrots and spinach, and steamed broccoli

Our snacks have included hard-boiled eggs, carrot sticks, raw pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, celery sticks with raw almond butter, snap peas and grapefruit.

We'll keep you posted on our progress...!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

9 Months


Our boy is growing like a weed! Yesterday he turned 9 months old! He’s been getting into anything and everything. He’s crawling all over the place, pushing himself up on all fours, and also pulling himself up onto all things, including our glass coffee table in the living room. He must think it is a good teething apparatus, because he climbs up to it and starts gumming away!

IMG_4889 We still haven’t seen any teeth, but his grandma M gave him some teething biscuits for Valentine’s Day, which we let him try, and he LOVED! See for yourself: IMG_4887Sebastian seems to be on a stretch of sleeping through the night, about which we’re not really complaining. It’s such a joy to find him wake up in the morning with a smile on his face and talking.

He’s started becoming more interested in books and turning the pages rather than eating them…although, we think he might be learning Hebrew, because he seems to turn the pages in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately, he’s had another cold over the past week, which has kept us on our toes with tissues in hand. The nose has been a leaky faucet, but it seems like, bit by bit, he’s getting better. His little cough lingers on, but he doesn’t seem to mind so much anymore.

Our little guy continues to be super happy, social and friendly. We’re so thankful to have a kiddo with such a wonderful personality. It’s impossible to not fall more and more in love with him (and each other) every day. God has blessed us beyond measure!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Beach fun

The last day of our vacation - before catching the red eye home - we hung out at the beach. Tim & I packed up Sebastian, his two second cousins and some lunches, and we headed to the beach. It was a far cry from bathing suit weather, but we had a blast playing with the kids. And they had a fabulous time, too! Just look at the pictures below – they tell a thousand words… or at least a thousand laughs, giggles and shrieks of joy!

Sebastian LOVED the sand. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he immediately shoveled handfuls of it into his mouth.



The boys became great friends with Sebastian and really seemed to enjoy playing with him. They were so gentle and tender with him – it was endearing. This picture makes me very happy. :)


Here are a few of my favorite pics from our time at the beach (there were lots of great ones; it was hard to choose!).

Air born!


Contemplating the water…


The cold, cold water didn’t go over so well with Sebbie.IMG_4796

We’re making our way to a pose for the camera. IMG_4783

These guys are the sweetest… they call each other “brother” when addressing one another. It’s super cute to hear them talk.

Everyone was wet, wet, wet! We had the boys strip down to their skibbies before we drove home :).

IMG_4818IMG_4859 IMG_4809

And these photos just sort of sum up the good times had by all! They make me smile. A lot!

IMG_4861 IMG_4864

We were so thrilled to be able to hang out with my cousins during the time we were out in California. It was great to get to know the boys better and to just be with the whole gang. Oops! I’m realizing that I didn’t get any photos of the adult cousins! Gulp. Well, I guess we have to make another trip to take some group shots. That’s just fine by me… ;)

Some more photos to come later…

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

One of my favorites from our recent trip to California...
lots of lovin' from Sebastian!
Hope you're feeling the LOVE today and everyday!
P.S. My hubby rocks. I woke up this morning to yummy pancakes that he and Sebastian made for me... in the shape of a heart! How sweet are my boys?!?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Yesterday and Today

This was yesterday: 


This is today:

IMG_4880What a difference 24 hours makes!  Not to mention a bus, two planes, a car, nearly 3000 miles of land and three time zones…

A rude awakening!  We were on the beach frolicking yesterday – you can almost feel the sun warming Tim’s face in the picture above – and today we’re home and surrounded by snow.  Lots and lots of snow.  Tim & my dad have been at it trying to shovel us out for hours.  All in all, I think they got about 36 inches in the past week here.  And now they’re calling for another 6-12 on Monday.  Seriously?!?  Take me back to California, where today it’s 72 degrees!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The joys of Califa

We’ve been having a great time in Califa… just chillin' with the cousins, working on a few house projects here and there, and enjoying the things of California.  All good things come to an end, so soon we’ll be on our way back to the land of blizzards, where we’ll have to figure out how to get about 5 feet of snow out of our driveway to be able to park once more in the garage! 

In the meantime, here are a few highlights of our stay so far…

My cousins have several citrus trees in their back yard, so we’ve had fresh-squeezed orange juice every morning while we’re here. 


We spent some quality time outside working in the front yard – cleaning out weeds, laying landscaping material, and mulching.  We had three very good helpers, too!

IMG_4532 Sebastian had his first trolley ride, which he loved.  You can hop on the trolley and ride through downtown Santa Barbara for just a quarter.  It’s a great, inexpensive treat for little kids! 


Our little guy loves being here and is fascinated by his boy cousins.  They keep him very entertained and VERY happy.  He doesn’t want to miss a beat when they’re around, and he can’t keep his eyes off of them!  It’s been fun to watch them all interact, even though they’re at different stages in their young, short lives. 

IMG_4534 Don’t those smiles just make you so cheerful inside?!? 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

17 California

We're learning some lessons about traveling with an infant... we're still not experts after our first airplane trip, but all in all, our trip has been so, so wonderful! Sebastian has been a champ! He essentially slept for our entire first flight from Harrisburg to Atlanta, which was a total blessing. Our flight took off late from Harrisburg, which meant that we only had SEVENTEEN minutes to catch our connecting flight from Atlanta to LA. If you've ever been to Atlanta, or travelled some, you might know that it's the. busiest. airport. in the world. Yes, in the world. And we only had 17 minutes. With an infant, two backpacks, a diaper bag and a stroller. While Seb was still sleeping, I put him in the sling, knowing that we were going to have to bolt through the airport... although I was pretty resigned to spending the night in Atlanta already. Tim told me to run, and that he would catch up to me. So I had a small backpack and a baby in a sling and I went running. Meanwhile, Tim had everything else and trucked on behind me. When I got to the tram, I decided that I'd rather wait for Tim to catch up than to be at the gate two or three terminals away without a husband OR a diaper bag. So I waited. And he caught up. And then we ran again, together. I was in total and utter disbelief when I got to the gate, and there was a gentleman smiling and greeting me. He asked how I was, and I was essentially too out of breath to answer. Then he took our tickets and let us on the plane!

The worst part about it all was that I was dying to go to the bathroom, for what seemed like hours. On the first flight I had Sebastian on my lap asleep (directly on top of bladder). In the airport, I had no business even thinking of going to the bathroom. And on our next flight, we got on too late to consider it before take-off, then we flew right into turbulence, so it seemed like FOREVER til they turned off the fasten seat belt sign. But finally the opportunity came... and I was so thankful!

We had a happy baby on the flight - he was laughing, smiling, and flirting with the woman behind us. He loved to look out the windows at the clouds. We learned to be thankful for puffs. They kept him occupied and quiet. He wasn't bothered by the pressure change. He did great! Didn't cry once. I missed out on the diaper changing experience of the year, because Tim pulled the short straw. Not really... he just loves changing diapers, so changing one on the plane didn't seem out of the ordinary. Til he got back into the tiny bathroom. And had a poopy diaper. Plus a squirmy baby (who loves to get his hands into anything and everything, including that which can be found in the diaper). There was nowhere to lay him down, so he changed him on top of the toilet. Plus he had a baby in need of a change of clothes after spitting up all over the place. He told me later he was hoping I would have gotten the telepathic message he was sending to have me get up out of my seat and go help him out, but I missed it. It went straight to voice mail!

Once we arrived in LA, we weren't surprised at all to find that our luggage wasn't around. We had to go through the process of registering our bags. Tim took care of that, while I fed Sebastian in his stroller. Our bags were expected to arrive in Santa Barbara the next morning. We eventually headed out to get our rental car. Once we got that taken care of, we were on our way into the LA traffic - essentially a stand-still parking lot that took us about an hour to go 15 miles.

We made some stops along the way - a jaunt into Target for toothbrushes, underwear and other essentials that we didn't have packed in our carry-on, because we were too busy worrying about packing for Sebastian - and some dinner. We were thankful and excited to finally pull into the driveway at my cousin's house about 4 or 5 hours after landing. Hooray! Not bad for our first airplane trip. Not bad at all. Sure, there were some bumps and bruises... nevermind the fact that our baby was picking things up off the airplane bathroom floor and putting them in his mouth... but we made it! No luggage, but all in one piece and so, so, so happy to be in Santa Barbara with folks we love to hang out with.
And it's not everyday you get to see a sign like this:
Gosh, I love California. My cousins have about 4 avocado trees in their yard, along with grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes. Note: this sign was not found in their yard, but rather at a house down the street. Made me laugh, though. Especially because, except for mangos, avocados are probably the only other fruit I would consider ripping off someone else's tree. He he. I have a bit of an avocado addiction...:) And no, I've never ripped an avocado off of someone's tree. Just thought about it, that's all.

I intended to get some pictures of Seb on his first plane ride, but that didn't maybe on the flight home. I did get a couple of pics from our trip to the playground. Seb had his first ride down the slide with Tim, and I got a cutie shot of his little second cousin. So fun!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I heart my boss... and my job

So, the video below is a year and a half old, but I just saw it again yesterday, while I was at the groundbreaking ceremony for our new facility at 333 North Arch St., slated to open in July. This expansion is more than exciting. It's phenomenal! We'll be adding 24 exam rooms to our current 18... and more than doubling our patient visits per year. The expansion will mean new job responsibilities for me, as I'll be taking on more of a leadership role. I'm looking forward to the new phase of my professional career, but also know that it's easy to become overwhelmed by the need that faces us at SouthEast each and every day.

Lots of days at the health center are emotionally draining and tiring. My patients not only have complicated health problems, but their social, mental, economic, relational and emotional problems are incredibly overwhelming. Tuesdays are the worst. They always seems to be the longest days with the craziest things happening. I always walk away from the clinic amazed at how my patients survive in the worlds they live in AND how blessed I am to have a stable, wholesome home to live in with a wonderful, faithful and loving husband, a healthy son and family and friends that surround us, support us and care for us.

I know God has me in Lancaster for a reason, and I feel that I'm answering His call by going to work everyday at SouthEast. Sometimes the things I see and experience are awful, downright painful. And sometimes work is just plain hard. I always thought that I would go to medical school, finish residency, pay off my loans, and leave the country to work full time in missions. I've come to realize that, for now, I'm in the heart of my mission, and there's nowhere else I'd rather be. I don't know if the calling will be the same in 5 or 10 years from now. But for NOW, it is what it is. And that feels good; I'm at peace.

I'm honored to work with AMAZING people. They're giving, selfless, caring and serving individuals. And they're humble. They're great partners and they go the extra mile. My job (and my life) wouldn't be the same without them. When I'm overwhelmed with the messed up systems at the clinic, inefficiencies that occasionally occur, paperwork that never ends, and the sadness of my patients' lives, it's my partners - my dear friends - who are encouraging and keep me going. We're in the trenches together. I have an awesome boss, too, whom I heart in a big, big, big way. I know we all heart him. He's one of the main reasons I landed at SouthEast in the first place. I'm pretty darn sure I don't know anyone in my professional circles as dedicated, optimistic, brilliant, kind, patient, humble, energetic (and so much more) as this guy. He rocks. This United Way video from last year features him...and some of our nursing staff and our patients. Check out the video. It will make you smile and warm your heart.

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