Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kansas City, here we come!

On December 23, Justin and I flew out to Kansas City to be with my family for the actual holidays.

The trip started off on a good note as we had packed our bags just perfectly, exactly the limit- 50 pounds. Of COURSE we meant to do that.

After dinner with my family and my cousin Patrick, we played a few games and then crashed. We got up on Christmas Eve ready to work out. Fail. The gym wouldn't let us in. Boo hoo as it is always a hilarious experience to workout at a gym in the midwest. We figured we'd try again in a few days and just go on a run on Christmas eve since it was mid-50s and sunny. It was GREAT weather for a run, even though we went pretty far and were both pretty sore, surprisingly. I think the flatness makes the runs go longer than we are used to.

On Christmas eve night, after going to the Christmas eve service, we pulled out the ole monopoly game. Not my favorite but I always say I will play once a year. This was my one time. I actually ended up winning although towards the end, Justin took over for me because I was over it.

We also dug out old pictures circa about 1984. Pretty cute.

The next morning, Christmas day, Justin and I got up to make the typical Christmas day breakfast- quiche and blueberry coffee cake.

Don't be scared of our morning picture. Yikes. Sadly, in a few years we will think how young we looked in this picture.

The quiches ready to go... one was cheese and meat, one was veggie.

Something weird happened with the crust- it exploded! Oh well, it still tasted good.

Another angle of the exploding crust.

A while after breakfast we all gathered to open presents. Above: my brother Jon.

And my grandma, eating her breakfast.

A picture of the "kids."

My, we definitely are getting older...

And Justin and I. First Christmas as a married couple. Aww.

One more shot of my brother and I sitting by the tree. It was a lot harder to get down there than it used to be as a kid!

Justin and I with our loot, pre-opening. We really must have been pretty good this year. Santa really liked us even in Missouri.

Perhaps his favorite present- gummy bears. I am a good wife to support this habit (addiction?) of his.

Later that night my aunt, uncle and cousin Patrick came over (they moved back to Kansas from California in April). After Christmas dinner,  played ping pong for about 3 was quite fun.

My brother and uncle.

The day after Christmas, we all took off for Lamoni, Iowa for Christmas with my dad's side of the family. Here is Justin getting ready for the car ride (and playing on the new phone I got him and gave to him at his family's Christmas).

We also celebrated my dad's birthday up there (it's on the 27th). It was quite an eventful day in Lamoni as my cousin's 2 year old son woke up from a nap with a very high temperature and started siezing. One thing about living in small town Iowa: my uncle is the parmacist and the doctor lives 2 doors down so they were able to quickly treat Connor and diagnose him with strep throat. Unfortunately later that night he had another siezure after we left and my cousin and her husband had to spend the night in the hospital. Bummer (of course, he is all better now).

Meanwhile, we played more ping pong with my dad's family...

My mom and I... we were out of the game for the moment, apparently.

Action shot of Justin and I!

The following few days Justin and I just hung out in Kansas City. We were able to weasel our way into the gym (thank god because I REALLY wanted to amuse myself by watching someone attempt to run on the treadmill in cowboy boots and carharts!), we walked in the 60 degree days (so weird, but gorgeous!), we visited my aunt and uncle at their house in Kansas, we saw some college friends, we watched KU with my parents, we went shopping and we just relaxed and spent time with family and friends. It was a great week and a very successful Christmas #2!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Valente family Christmas, take #2

This year for the Valente family Christmas, we went away for a long weekend to Suncadia. For those who don't know what Suncadia is, it's a little pre-planned community just on the east side of the mountains.  Justin's mom had rented a cabin there from Friday-Monday. And by "cabin" you should know that we are talking about 8000 feet of "cabin." It was HUGE.

Justin and I arrived at around 4pm on Friday with a truckload of stuff that his mom had us bring for her. We unloaded and then walked in to the above. We realized immediately: we are stocked. (notice the plus-magnum bottle of wine. We got the same one last one for the Valente family Christmas from our winery, Woodhouse). We may have punished that bottle on Friday night. Maybe.

Saturday, the 17th, was officially deemed "Christmas" so Friday night Santa came. I guess Jocelyn was Mrs. Claus or just a helper?

And one more shot of the gifts from Santa being delivered.

Justin and I were responsible for breakfast on Saturday morning (Christmas). We made pancakes, bacon, eggs, and sausage. We also had some fruit. It was quite tasty. After breakfast we spent about 3 hours opening gifts. It was quite the long haul! Santa was very nice this year. I surprised Justin and Bailey with new phones so that was fun.

That evening was a mexican fiesta planned by Jocelyn and her friend, Becky, who had come for the weekend. It was a good time. Bailey and Oliver both brought 2 friends so we also had 6 teenage boys with us. Luckily they had their own "man cave" downstairs that included pool, darts, TV, and golf simulator. We pretty much didn't see them all weekend.

The following day was filled with more R&R complete with a walk that Justin and I took. It was beautiful out, though a little cold. See more pictures, below:

Following dinner and more games Sunday night, we all were up early on Monday morning to head out and back home. It was a great weekend full of laughter and family and friends... after that, it was onto Christmas #2 in Kansas City!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Random December things...

In the midst of our holiday parties in December, we were able to get out and about as well. And, Seattle being Seattle, the weather was actually decent. It was cold but totally sunny. Weird, but we'll take it.

A shot of Seattle during one December walk.

Justin looking through binoculars at the city skyline.

Justin again.... look at that sun! Crazy!

And, one more... I swear, when it's sunny in Seattle it's just the best. Even if it is about zero degrees outside

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday parties 2011

We had a couple of holiday parties in December, of course, it's the month that means: party party party. The first holiday party we went to was by far the most fun:  the December WINOS party. A bunch of girls that I know do monthly wine nights (called WINOS) and in December we decided the wine of the month would be champagne and we would dress up and invite our boys. It was a great event!
See Stacie's recap of the night, too, as well as her pictures below:
All of us, including boys...picture taken by our (literally high as a kite/stoned out of her mind) caterer.

And the beautiful ladies!

The day following the WINOS party, we headed down to Puyallup to help Justin's mom celebrate her 65th birthday. This was so fun as we got to meet so many friends of Jocelyn's as well as several people who knew Justin when he was just a little kid. I slacked with the camera at this party too. Bummer.

The second holiday party we went to was my work holiday party in Bellevue. Nothing really notable from this event other than it was just one of those things we had to go to. We didn't even take any pictures...again. Perhaps this needs to be a 2012 resolution? (Even though if you know me, you know how I am about resolutions...)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The thanksgiving that almost wasn't.

I can't believe I forgot to post about this in my Thanksgiving post. As I was going through my phone, I stumbled across the photos and was all, OH RIIIGHT. THAT.

To preface: I have always been one to try to hop on the healthy bandwagon. You know the whole eliminating "crap" thing... eating well, not eating the fake stuff (like trans fats), trying to use products that don't have a lot of fake stuff- from laundry detergent to deodorant, to cleaning products.

I hadn't really given much thought to candles until the day before thanksgiving when my brother and I were in whole foods and I realized that I did need candles to burn in the bathroom on Thanksgiving. Need might not be the appropriate word but I wanted candles to burn in the bathroom. I like having candles burning. They (generally) smell good.

I saw these cute little candles in the aisles of whole foods and thought, "Hmm. "Natural" candles and they match the color scheme AND they smell good." SOLD.

The next day, I lit them around 1pm and sometime around 2:30 pm or so, I just happened to be going pee when all of a sudden "WHOOOOSH crackle crackle WHOOOSH" I look over and I.KID.YOU.NOT there was about an 1 foot flame coming out of one of these "cute" natural candles that was threatening to take over the hand towel directly above it. (And also, REALLY? After only an hour and a half MAYBE two hours of being lit??)

I did not know I was capable of stopping a stream of pee so efficiently. Perhaps being scared shitless does that to you.

Related: I have a weird phobia of fire. Always have. Used to have nightmares about fire and burning down houses. Weird as I have never been in a fire but something has always left me traumatized and fearful of being in a fire.

So: being scared shitless because you have a fear of burning down a house someday makes you able to stop peeing abruptly when you really had to pee.

I screamed, splashed water all over the erupting candle, and Justin came running in to his crazy wife freaking out with her pants around her ankles, pee still in the toilet, and flailing water all over. Until he saw the candle and he was all, "Holy SHIT what happened?" It ended up, thankfully, being quite the funny situation. He probably should have taken a picture of me... but, clearly, it was too chaotic at the moment to think about that (also, sidenote: when something crazy or bad or unreal happens, how DO people think, "Man, I should snap a shot right now?" The twin towers is a good example. I would have just been freaking the EFF OUT but many people took pictures that day... Perhaps why I am not a photographer).

I still have no idea what happened with our little candle that blew. The other candle did not blow up but I did light it at a later date to find out that the glass gets REALLY hot so it probably would have eventually.

Lessons learned: 1) Thank god I had to pee when I did and 2) Don't buy natural candles, specifically the Pacifica brand and 3) I definitely still have a fire phobia and 4) If ever in crisis on a toilet, I will be able to maintain control of my bladder (good to know?)

Photos for evidence:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Update to that health crap...

See the last post for more info but further detail that this (what I used to call "stupid") diet is working:

I got my period today.


I hate it when people are right and I am wrong.

But, seriously, OH MY GOD. THIS IS WORKING!!!! IT'S WORKING!!  It's one of the few times in my life I have actually almost died of happiness to see blood. (TMI? I guess I should disclose that this blog is not censored).

A cut.

A couple of weeks ago Justin had a minor surgery to remove a lipoma from the back of his head. His general practitioner did it and it was expected to take 20-30 minutes, no big deal. They'd get the whole thing out and send it to biopsy where they'd determine if it was cancerous or not. They figured it was most likely not.


2.5 hours into the surgery, the growth was stuck to his brain. And of course, since this was just outpatient surgery, Justin was conscious. Awake. Listening to them rip this thing out of the back of his head (that right there would make me UNCONSCIOUS. I mean, REALLY GROSS). They didn't get it 100% out but 3 hours, a sore head, and 8 stitches later, Justin was on his way. And it did turn out to be non-cancerous. (WHEW!) For the following couple of weeks, I had a new patient:

They didn't even shave his head- weird. I think he is glad that whole experience is done and behind him.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A journey to health.

Isn't that the tag line of life?

I'm not really sure where to start this post.

But I'll try.

Remember how I've been a vegetarian/vegan on and off for about, oh, the past 15 years of my life? There are about 2 distinct periods where I remember decidedly NOT being a vegetarian and one time was when I first started dating Justin and ate some meat with him (keyword here is "some"). It's one thing to tell your trainer to basically go screw themselves (in nice terms) when they tell you to eat "animal protein" after working out because you don't believe a) that you need it to build muscle and b) you hate it, but it's an entirely other thing to tell your new non-vegetarian boyfriend to screw off when he tells you to eat protein after working out when he spends enough time with you to know that you do in fact probably need that animal protein. That lasted for about the first 3 months of our relationship and by the end of 12 months? He was pretty much eating vegetarian with me. In September of this year? We were both vegan after he had researched it more and found out varying health benefits and that you do not, in fact, necessarily need animal protein to be an athlete (a win for me! ...Or so I thought at that time). 

The other time that I ate animals in the past 15 years? Well, it wasn't really isolated like the time I just described before but it was more one-offs where I'd have a bite here, a bit there just to see if I still did hate the taste of meat. Pretty much without fail the answer was always YUP. I ate the occasional piece of fish or occasional eggs but for the most part I was solely vegetarian, if not vegan.

I posted about it here. Mostly that post centered around the fact that I was always an "on the fence" vegetarian, meaning that I generally was vegetarian but not really for animal cruelty purposes but for taste purposes. Simply put, I just don't like the way meat tastes. The book I wrote about in this post was all about the inhumane treatment of animal, which, I still agree, is disgusting.

All of that aside, fast forward to October 2011 and we are successfully through the wedding and married and happily living our life as healthy as we thought possible- as little vegan warriors (what the hell that means, I don't know... I don't know where I come up with this stuff sometimes). But, slight problem in this whole health thing? Remember this post when I talk briefly about how I quit birth control in April? Yeah, well I never really expanded on that but basically I haven't had a period since then. Yeah. Um 6 months of no period sets off fire engine alarms of "AMENORRHEA! NO BLEED NO BLEED!" Apparently it's a problem. Right.

So, I started going to acupuncture to regulate my cycles. It was good for a lot of reasons but didn't help old Aunt Flo to show up. My (stupid, now fired) OB doc wanted to put me on medicine to give me a "fake period" to which I said less politely "fuck off, I'm doing this naturally." I gained weight thinking if I put on some body fat, that would help. (HELLO, peanut butter!) No dice. So, that left me in October with the "natural" method of birth control which meant erratic temperatures, no period and thinking "hmm. Should probably do something about this."

So I went to see a naturopath. A renowned naturopath. He's in Tacoma... an hour away from me. I was committed to solving this naturally, without MORE drugs since a major part of the reason I was screwed up was the birth control pill in the first place (another post entirely on how stupid it is that we don't teach women about their bodies to control birth naturally, without just popping a pill... at LEAST give people the option!)

Anyway, for my first naturopath appointment, I headed down to Tacoma for my full metabolic/chemistry workup. Pee in a cup, spit in a cup (and sidenote? Spitting in a cup to get the "right" amount? Takes FOREVER. Try it if you don't believe me).

I sit and wait and they run a few initial tests on my pee and spit along with ask me a million questions on various bodily functions/eating habits, etc. The result? He said basically that I am deficient in every way possible. And this was just the INITIAL appointment. He told me to drink salt water, eat as much fat as possible, and TRY to eat animals or at least drink animal broths (IE: chicken broth). Well, that week in between the initial appointment and follow up I did two of those things: salt water and fat. I wasn't giving up life as I knew it as a vegan, especially since my husband was now living that way too especially just for some stupid naturopath.

A week later? My world was rocked. ROCKED.

I went back for the follow up where he had all of the actual numbers in his hand from the tests that were run alongside various blood tests that I'd had from my other MD's. They showed what I hadn't wanted to believe the week before: deficient, not holding on to any nutrients. Why? Because I essentially had no amino acids in my system. None. Zilch. Yeah, that's what being vegan does for you and no matter how much pea protein you take, you're never going to successfully get a complete amino acid. Well, since I was so deficient, my body basically said, "screw the reproductive cycle, we don't need that, we just need to keep her alive." Your body is never going to support a period, or even more so, a baby, if it's deficient in nutrients. Plus, my hormones were all whacky from running so much (cardio produces hormones or something).

It was, apparently, the perfect storm... or so I'm told.

Justin was there with me and I'm SURE wanting to dance around in some giddy rain dance hi-fiving everyone on the planet for how right he was (yes, this was truly all about stroking his ego, of course).

So, I said FINE. Screw you both. I will accept that this is now a matter of science and perhaps, just maybe, I've been wrong. If I ever want kids, I will do this. For SIX WEEKS. If there is no change, and then after that, no period, I'm done.

And we shook on it and walked out the door. Where I cried in the car. I was totally overwhelmed. It is a tough realization to find out that what you thought you were doing by living the healthiest life you thought possible and all the while feeling pretty damn good actually turned out to be harming you.

We went to whole foods and bought fish. And eggs. It was a start. The doctor would, however, like me to eat liver and raw eggs to which I said that there is no way in HELL that will ever happen. Ever. Seriously, barf.

So, since that appointment in October, here's a sampling of my meals:

Salmon, quinoa, and spinach...this was actually a shot of the "first" non-vegan dinner I'd had in quite a while.

LOTS of eggs and veggies... also: soft boiled are the best, and runny fried eggs (no scrambled- it ruins the integrity of the yolk which is the best part for me now... YUCK)

Lots of juices

More my desk. I had to start off this diet with lots of juices- basically treating my stomach as if it were a baby's stomach to get it acclimated/adjusted.

And I have even eaten ground beef. I literally have not eaten cow since I was about 15.


The result?

I went back in mid-November to find out that everything had completely flipped. OF COURSE. The diet is working, I'm no longer nutrient deficient and am much, much healthier. So I'm staying on it...still eating fat, protein, and drinking my salt water. We'll see if I get a period and what happens from here but I have adapted for now and have realized that, right now, this diet is the best thing for me. My body type has a metabolism such that it functions better on high protein. I've accepted it as it is for now, and have grown to like the taste of runny eggs and salt. I've also since put on 8 pounds of pure muscle. Body fat is the same, clothes still fit, but 8 POUNDS of muscle. Holy hell! I do feel much, much stronger and like I am operating on a daily basis with more clarity. And, another bonus? I've been approved to run again! Yay!

Justin even went after I went to get tested himself. The MOST hilarious part of all of this? His body type tested as one that would do better with no salt and totally vegan. (He had more salt in his spit that I had initially in my urine!) We are exact opposites. Ying and yang? Perhaps. So while I eat cow and drink salt water, he eats tempeh and avoids salt like the plague...literally less than 100 mg a day (do you KNOW how hard it is to avoid salt?! It is literally in everything.) And, in the meantime, we both are secretly jealous of the other's diet. At least for now. 

We will keep you posted on this journey to health... It's something that I think every person will always be on in some form or another. Maybe it's just called life...and living as healthily as possible. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Brother is in town: last day.

As I mentioned in the prior post, the Friday after Thanksgiving we took my brother to Leavenworth so he could see the town. It was just a short little day trip following a late breakfast once everyone who stayed at our house from Thanksgiving ate and left. We got to Leavenworth around 1pm and once again, a huge FAIL for the lack of pictures. Here's all I got:

Justin driving (exciting shot #1)

A picture of the road (oooh, it is sort of exciting- look, sun!)

And a shot of the mountains right before we arrived in Leavenworth. I know, I know, really not exciting at all.

The day was nice though- we walked around the village, tasted a little bit of wine somehow, tried samples, and finished it all up by eating at South, the restaurant we always go to in Leavenworth. We headed home to basically crash for the night before we got up early the next morning to take my brother to the airport. All in all, a successful week!