Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Alternative Lifestyle

Two years ago I sat in a dim lit "examination room" listening to the pentatonic stylings of Chinese music. I awkwardly complied as I was asked to stick out my tongue. I was astounded when Jerry, my Chinese medicine practitioner, looked at my tongue for three seconds and related personal health issues back to me that I had never mentioned.

We were trying to get pregnant and I heard acupuncture might help. I had already subjected myself to ten months of forced menopause, a surgery, and various other embarrassing procedures. Having some fruity old hippie poke me with needles didn't seem so bad after all that.

"So how exactly does this work? Do the needles, like, stimulate hormones or nerve endings or something?"

Jerry smiled patiently, "The needles encourage ch'i flow to different parts of the body. They help absolve blockages and get things moving."

"What is ch'i?"

"It's life-force. The life-sustaining energy inside us."

Okay...a little cryptic, but I was here on faith - not a scientific mission. "So how does the acupuncture actually cause change and help?"

"Our bodies get a little out of whack for various reasons. What we eat. Stress. Illness. Injury. Acupuncture gets the ch'i flowing as it should, which basically brings the body back to a healthy, natural state."

"And how does this help with fertility?"

"The issues you've told me about - endometriosis and fibroid tumors - are not normal. Those problems occur because the body is working against itself. By restoring order, those problems will go away."

"Go away? Completely?"

"Infertility issues respond very well to Chinese medicine. If you give me six months, your tumors would be gone completely. You would get pregnant."

We then proceeded with my acupuncture session. I didn't know what to expect, but I was astonished by the feeling I experienced when all the needles were in place. You know those tuning forks that vibrate and "sing" when you hit them? I felt like I was a tuning fork that had just been hit. I felt like body was vibrating, buzzing. Almost audibly. I could feel the energy coursing from my head to my toes. It was weird. It was real. It was really, really weird. I began to believe there actually may be something to this Chinese medicine thing.

Jerry made me a specialized blend of Chinese herbs that I took twice a day for about two months. I got distracted with life and before long, we were chosen to be Jocelyn's parents.

But for two years, Jerry's words have tugged at the back of my mind. Give me six would get pregnant.

Off and on in my spare time, I pulled up scientific studies regarding Chinese medicine and infertility - mainly fibroid tumors and endometriosis. I found several surprising articles and studies (yes, scientific Western studies) that should an unexplainable amount of success when infertility was treated through traditional Chinese medicine.

Give me six months.

I mentioned to Justin once or twice that maybe we should go back and give the treatment six months, and just see what would happen. If nothing else, we'd have some great stories to tell - not to mention a monthly appointment for basically napping (yes, I always fall asleep during acupuncture; it is very calming and the needles do not hurt).

A girl I work with went to Jerry for severe carpal tunnel. She's a designer and usually takes ten ibuprofen pills a day. By the end of the day, her wrists are so swollen you can't see that knobby bone. She was trying to find an alternate for surgery because that would put her out of work for a long time. So she decided to try acupuncture. She said as soon as the needles were in, she felt like sludge was draining out of her arms. It was such a strong feeling she even looked on the floor to see if there was a puddle of tar! It's been about a month and after one treatment, she hasn't had any pain. Hasn't taken a single ibuprofen. So weird.

So I decided to do it. I decided to give Jerry six months and just see. My regimen is a specialized herbal blend three times a day and acupuncture once a month. Am I doing it for fertility reasons? I would be lying if I said that thought wasn't there. But that's not the driving reason. I really believe this will make me healthier and help ease my pain and problems without horrible hormone therapy.

Chinese medicine is said to address the whole being instead of parts, like Western medicine. Western medicine keeps dealing with smaller and smaller parts. Receptors. Nerves. Cells. Individual body parts. I see a handful of doctors for different things. I find it interesting that I have three autoimmune issues - endometriosis, seborrheic dermatitis, and lipomas (suspected to be autoimmune related) - and not one doctor will look at all three.

Obviously something is out of whack with my body - it is attacking itself. But I must go to an ob-gyn for endometriosis, and he doesn't care about the hair loss and plaques on my scalp. I have to go to a dermatologist for that, and the last thing he wants to talk about is my uterus and so on. I believe there is a benefit to such specialized medicine, but on the flip side, there aren't any experts on the whole. Except Dr. House and he's not exactly taking appointments.

I have two fibroid tumors on my uterus. My ob-gyn says they can only be "cured" through surgical removal and since they are benign, it isn't worth it. He says they don't interfere with the uterus or its function. I think that sounds so weird. I have two golf-ball sized (that's how big they were three years ago, I don't know what they are at now) tumors on an organ the size of a pear and they aren't affecting it at all? Seems strange to me. And I think they are growing. My stomach is expanding and I haven't gained weight.

Anyway, I like the idea of someone who treats the whole. I like the idea of "medicine" that isn't designed to alleviate pain by blocking a receptor. Pain is an important part of the body's communication. Western pain meds often just turn the volume down on the message - without fixing the cause of the pain. Maybe this is all far-fetched. But I am going to give Jerry six months and just see. I am hoping for lighter periods, less pain and cramping, a reduction in the endometrial lumps I can feel, and maybe a shrinking of the uterine tumors (here's hoping for a flatter stomach!). And maybe, just maybe, we can get pregnant.

Truthfully, the hope for pregnancy is simply because it is so much more affordable than adoption. I am not ready to go on a pregnancy crusade at all. I am not ready for hormone therapy and in vitro and cycle tracking and shots and all that nastiness. This is the extent of it. Honestly, it would be a great "side effect" but it is not the primary reason I am doing this.

I've been afraid to talk too much about this because my reasons for going are personal (not everyone wants to hear about my uterus and its many quirks) and I have been afraid that people will think I am on a pregnancy crusade. When people know you are trying and struggling, the support is great, but at the same time there is more pressure and a lot of unwanted pity. It can be hard. But it's time I come out of the Eastern medicine closet and embrace my new alternative medicine lifestyle. :) So if you see me choking back some funky smelling powdered herbs, you'll know why.

And just because this post is really long and maybe boring, here's a picture of Jocelyn attempting to strangle herself with a Christmas bead garland. You deserve it for getting to the end of the post.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tongue Lashings

I guess Joci is understanding the concept of consequences. How else can I explain lectures she's been giving everyone?

A few days ago when Grandma and Grandpa were here, Joci was sitting on Grandpa's lap at the table and as Grandpa was handing her off to her Daddy, she slipped a bit and bonked her face on the table. She instantly broke into anguished cries and her Daddy was hugging and comforting her. Joci stopped her crying just long enough to wag one finger and Grandpa and loudly shout "No, no, no, no, no!" Despite her mild injury, we all just laughed and laughed.

Then on Monday, the three of us were playing in the family room. I was playing with Joci's new doll and she didn't like whatever I was doing. She kept telling me "No" and taking it away from me. Because I thought that was funny, I kept getting the doll back and playing with it. After about four times of this, Joci walked up to Justin and tattled on me! She said, "Dada, Mama no no!"

We just giggled. Essentially it is her first official sentence (that she hasn't mimicked from us).

Joci will also wag her finger and tell off the dogs if they do something she thinks they shouldn't. She is very particular about how she wants things and she's not afraid to tell us.

I've got to say...there's nothing funnier than a tongue lashing from a one year old.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our Christmas Holiday

Christmas 2010
We had a mini celebration on Wednesday the 22nd because Grandma and Grandpa Z were in town.

If Grandma has her way, Joci will be a little cowgirl! Her new pony.

Lots of fun presents

Actual Christmas Eve
Our live Nativity. Joci as a shepherd, Lara as a wise man, and Afton as an angel

And she...wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger...

And the angel said unto them: Fear Not

And Joseph whispered lines to the angel to recite

And the shepherds were in the fields riding their paint pony rocking horses

Paige as the baby Jesus

And the wise men brought gifts of candles and candle holders

Christmas morning:
Checking out what Santa brought

Lots of giggles!

a peacoat for Justin and Joci is just happy with a box

At this point we were all done opening our presents, but there was still a big pile for Joci - Santa and grandparents certainly are unaware of the recession. :)

This cart is for baby dolls - not real babies. (You know your mom is a blogger when you get painfully stuck and instead of rescuing you, she reaches for the camera!)

eggs benedict - a beautiful Christmas brunch

Three babies

And then we cleaned up by throwing boxes down the stairs

Clean up, clean up, every body clean up! (Or as Joci says "nnnnup! nnnnup!")

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thoughts on a Temporary Life

Earlier this week at my company Christmas party, we were treated to a performance by Ali and Christina Christensen who went to the finals on the last season of America's Got Talent. They are from here (they even sang the national anthem at the Fourth of July). So they are definitely local sweetheart celebrities.

For those of you who do not know their story, these two sisters have cystic fibrosis, a disease of the lungs which is usually fatal by early adulthood. It is a death sentence. All four children born into the Christensen family have this horrendous disease. I cannot imagine the trials the parents go through! Ali and Christina lost their sister to this disease this past summer.

They have amazing voices and amazing stage presence. I am very impressed by the big voices that come out of their little bodies, especially since they have a terrible lung disease.

This video is not from my Christmas party, but they sang this song, "Temporary Home" by Carrie Underwood. They dedicated it to their sister who passed away, saying that although they miss her, they know that this life is just a platform for what our existence is really all about.

The chorus of this song:

This is my temporary home

It's not where I belong.
Windows and rooms that I'm passin' through.
This is just a stop, on the way to where I'm going.
I'm not afraid because I know this is my
Temporary Home.

Tears streamed down my face as I listened to these two brave girls with a terminal illness sing these words. I didn't feel any sadness for them - or from them. Instead, what I felt from them was hope, optimism, and reassurance. They testified with the words they were singing. These girls knew their days are numbered. They know what will happen to them because they saw it happen to their sister. And they aren't afraid. Their knowledge of the Plan of Salvation gave them peace that filled the entire auditorium. tugged on my heart strings and a lump formed in my throat.

How sad, how challenging, to know that life is temporary, I thought, to know that you're going to die.

I caught myself in these thoughts and realized how silly that was.

We all know we're going to die! It's kind of a side effect of human life. :) Our deaths may not be as imminent or anticipated as someone with a terminal disease, but we know it will happen. And these girls...their lives are still open. They could get in a car accident on the way home...or a cure for cystic fibrosis could emerge in the next year that takes away the disease completely.

I know the Plan of Salvation...I know that my home isn't the four walls around me now - it is with my Father in Heaven and my family above. My life is just as temporary as Ali's and Christina's. Though it's easy to forget.

It was a powerful moment for me. A great reminder that while this life is fragile and precious, it's far from everything. There is so much more. And I'll end with a joke. It's silly and irreverent, but it's also true and sums up the essence of what I am trying to say:

Don't take life so seriously - no one gets out alive. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nibble, Nibble Like a Mouse

Here is our darling gingerbread house!

This is our tenth Christmas together. I think we have wanted to do a gingerbread house for the past nine Christmases. We finally got around to it.

Here is the recipe for the gingerbread. The shapes are the same I have used since I was a little girl.

 Then we made royal icing. I didn't have meringue powder and since we weren't really gonna eat the house, I used egg whites.

 To make things easy, instead of using frosting bags, I just spooned the frosting into a Ziploc bag and snipped off the corner.

 "Gluing" the pieces of the house together.

Thank goodness for bulk candy. We have tons left over!

Justin used small chocolate discs for the shingles on the roof. 

Lots of fun details. 


Monday, December 13, 2010

There's a Reason I Dress Like a Sitcom Dad


Blah, blah, blah.

That's my wardrobe for you. Safe and boring. I have good reason though. I have tried to up my style and experiment with layers but once I wore this cute, scoop neck vest over a white button down poplin shirt and the office pervert told me I looked like a bar wench and the way he said it with this twinkle in his eye made me realize that while he was complimenting my figure, or at least the way the low cut, curve hugging vest accentuated my, um, assets, it was also kind of icky and I have never worn that vest again because if the office pervert is gonna say it, then at least six other people are thinking it and I was going for more of a corporate savvy look and not a pirate maiden with lederhosen look.

So that's why, day after day, I wear an unimpressive pair of slacks with drab boots and a generic-looking knit top or sweater.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thoughts on a Sunday Night

It's been a lacking weekend. The kind that leaves you itching for next weekend when Sunday isn't even halfway through. Oh well.

We brought out the advent calendar today. A little late, granted, but I couldn't find it before now. So we let Joci catch it up for us. She had a lot of fun, but was a little confused and frustrated when we made her stop opening the boxes and eating candy. :)

I made a homemade pizza today. It was alright...but not amazing. I had really been anticipating it. I hate it when anticipated, labor-intensive recipes turn out disappointing. Next time, I'll just let Pizza Hut do the baking.

I am now making a gingerbread house. At midnight. 'Cause that's how we roll here. :) We'll decorate it tomorrow.

I'm glad that the majority of my work projects are completed. This week should be a lot less stressful than the last couple of weeks.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Giveaway Results

Drumroll please....

Last night at midnight, I wrote down all the entries from the giveaway and Justin got to draw out the name (his favorite part of my giveaways).

The winner is Jamie. I will be in contact to make arrangements on your prize.

Thanks again to Cindy for sharing her talents and donating the prize. Check out her etsy site Creations by Violet. Her bows are adorable and there is still time to get them before Christmas.

P.S. If you have a product you'd like to get some free advertising for, contact me about doing a giveaway for it. I am always on the lookout for new things!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Joci's on the Naughty List

One day left to enter my Christmas Giveaway!

Santa Claus sent us this fun little message for Joci. I can't embed it, so you'll have to click on the link to see it.

Guess Joci is on "naughty watch" for those tantrums! ;) (She didn't throw one today - I am so proud. Maybe she will get more than coal for Christmas after all.)

You can use this website to get Santa to send your little ones their own messages. Very fun!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Mail for Heroes

Check out my Christmas Giveaway by clicking here. Sign up through Friday.

We are doing family Christmas cards this week. And as a fun Christmas project we are going to send some cards to Holiday Mail for Heroes, the Red Cross program that sends holiday cards to soldiers and their families.

If you're interested in sending your gratitude to these brave men and women who aren't with their families this holiday because they are fighting for freedom, get your cards together. The post mark deadline is this Friday.

Get all the details here Holiday Mail for Heroes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Minimizing Tantrums in Toddlers

Last week, I picked Joci up from daycare. Like always, she ran across the room and gave me a ginormous hug (best part of my day). She quickly put her coat on and hollered “Bye!” to the entire room like she always does and headed for the door. Only problem was that she was holding on to one of her classmate’s shoe. I wrestled the shoe away from her and she was not happy about it. As far as she was concerned, it was coming home with us. So when I took it away from her, she arched her back, pitched herself on the floor, and dramatically rolled around while whimpering.

I see this several times an hour.

Joci’s daycare teachers saw this and stood there slack-jawed. “We’ve never seen her do that before.”

Lucky me. She saves it for home.

If I really could prevent my one year old from throwing tantrums, I would be mom of the year. Of the decade. I’d probably get a Nobel prize and a million dollars. I haven’t been able to eliminate tantrums from my daughter’s and my life. But I’ve tried. And I think I’ve discovered a few things that help minimize them. And I thought I’d share.

  • Duct tape
  • Sound proof walls
  • Nylon rope
 Totally kidding. Please don’t call social services.

Seriously, though, here are some things I have learned.

  1. Give her some undivided attention. My daughter has been away from me all day. She wants to be with me when we get home. When I get home, I am often consumed with what I need to do—I want to start dinner immediately, go to the bathroom, and do some cleaning, maybe laundry, and those kinds of things. Joci would get very clingy and moody during all this flurry of activity. I’ve learned that she often needs just twenty minutes of Mom and Joci time right when we get home. I even go to the bathroom at daycare before I get her so we can just be totally inseparable for a little while. It helps.
  2. Tell her what I want her to do. I read a child psychology study that suggested that young toddlers visualize what you are telling them. When you say, “Don’t touch the Christmas tree,” they envision themselves touching the Christmas tree. Don’t is an abstract concept and they can’t really visualize it. Anyway, because they are picturing touching the Christmas tree, they are more likely to do it. Which totally explains why kids do the exact opposite of what you say, right? So I’ve started to ask her to do an alternative activity instead of telling her not to do something. Instead of telling her not to touch the Christmas tree, I’ll instruct her to play the piano or find Daddy or point to her belly. This tactic really helps. I’m beginning to think there’s something behind all that psychobabble research.
  3. Give her permission. Kids don’t have much control over their world, and they try to exert control where they can. Kids like to push their parents’ buttons. It makes them feel in control and slightly giddy that they can control adults like marionettes on strings. (I can remember too well the joy I had when I could finally make my mother lose it, throw a shoe at me, and call me an unpleasant name—it was hilarious.) I give Joci permission to throw tantrums. When she starts one, I tell her it’s okay. She can kick and scream all she needs to and I’ll just be over here when she’s done. It kind of takes the fun out of it when it’s allowed, right?
  4. Give her a heads up. My toddler understands more than I think she does. This goes back to the whole "children want a feeling of control in their world" thing. I found that tantrums would ensue when I would take something away or change an activity without giving any warning. So I started to explain myself. I felt silly at first - I didn't really think a 1 1/2 year old would get what I was saying. But it really did help. Instead of just picking her up and taking her to the bathroom to brush her teeth, I told her that as soon as we were done reading the story, we were going to brush her teeth. Giving her a little notice and explaining what was going to happen to her really seemed to help. I wouldn't like not knowing what in the world was going to happen in my life. No wonder she was throwing tantrums!
So take these tips for what they are worth - the amazing discoveries of an insufficient mother. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010


Christmas time is for giving, right? I have a giveaway that I am really excited about. These adorable hair accessories from Creations by Violet are perfect for the season - but not so Christmas-y that they won't work for Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, and just red and white stuff.

You get a corker bow and a padded, braided headband. These headbands are so soft and comfy. If you're a headband wuss like me, you'll be surprised at how comfy they are.

Wear them yourself or give them to a little girl in your life. Perfect stocking stuffer, no?





If you would like to enter this giveaway, here is what to do:

  • just leave a comment telling me your LEAST favorite Christmas movie
  • include your email address in the comment.

 Extra entries available:
 ...leave an additional comment with your email address for each extra entry.

  • follow my blog
  • subscribe to my blog
  • blog about this giveaway, linking back to this post (leave a link to your post in your comment)
  • email your family and friends about this giveaway (copy me on the email to me too - justinandlara at

As an example, if you already follow my blog you would write in your comment:
"Already a follower. here's my email:"

Then if you blogged about this contest you would make an additional comment:
"Blogged about it today at Here's my email:"

 And you would keep doing that for every chance you have to win.

Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you should you win. Entries will be accepted until Friday, December 10, 2010, at 11:59 PM MST. The winner will be announced on Saturday.


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