A Bump in the Road

Back in May, I was a good girl.  I got my annual mammogram.  Dang, those things hurt.  I figured I would check that off my list and move on with life.


They needed more views and an ultrasound…and there was a lump.

Next came a needle biopsy and another mammogram (those jerks hurt).

And finally a lumpectomy last week.  Thankfully the lump was not cancer, but it was high risk so the journey is not quite over.  Next month we discuss the risks and consider next steps.

None of this was supposed to happen and I am not handling it well.

I am not afraid of dying from cancer.  At all.

I am afraid of the disruption in my life.

I am afraid of not being a good witness for Jesus.

But I was not afraid of the bipolar getting its two cents in.

And yet, here I am.

I came through the surgery last week with flying colors.  No pain, light bruising.  I expected to rejoin my life no problem–instead I find myself wanting to hide out.  I literally wanted to do nothing last week.  I just went to my friend’s house and hid.

Saturday I decided it was time to rejoin my life no matter how I felt.  And I have.

But oh how I would rather still be on my friend’s couch.  Where I feel protected with no expectations.

I’m here, but I am missing from my life.

School Year

Where did this year go?  I swear it started yesterday but here we are…starting our last week on Monday!!

I am ready.

The girls are ready.

Frazier is probably even ready.

I am sure the turtle is ready.

Did we get it all done?  Heck no!!!

But Sue did an amazing job with reading.  She read so many books!  She read things like Bridge to Terabethia, Paddington Bear, Island of the Blue Dolphin, Refugee, some Dork Diaries books, some Who Was biographies, Anne of Green Gables, Across Five Aprils.  A lot.

Ukranian eggs were decorated.

Ice skating was discovered.

Dissections were done (grasshopper and squid).

Syrian foods were eaten.

Math was done–each of the girls completed a level and started the next!!

Random schoolwork was done.

A good year was had…



Low FODMAP Part 2

A couple of years ago I embarked on a Low FODMAP diet to deal with some stomach issues.  In this process, I discovered I can’t tolerate peanuts, cashews, apples (like EVER), and ice cream.  It has helped.  But I have gotten lazy and I think it is time to be kind to my digestive system again.

The FODMAP theory holds that consuming foods high in “FODMAPs”—short for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols, a collection of short-chain carbohydrates found in many common foods—results in increased volume of liquid and gas in the small and large intestine, contributing to symptoms such as abdominal paingas, and bloating, and the motility problems of diarrhea and constipation. The theory proposes that following a low-FODMAP diet should result in a decrease in these symptoms.


It is a daunting process.  The first 2 weeks are very strict.  But at least this time I will only be two weeks at that level.  Back when I originally did it, I spent months and months at the strictest level to get my stomach healed.  But I am pretty confident this time two weeks will be enough.

The following foods have been identified as being high in FODMAPs:


  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums and prunes
  • Pomegranates
  • Watermelon
  • High concentration of fructose from canned fruit, dried fruit or fruit juice


  • Barley
  • Couscous
  • Farro
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Wheat

Lactose-Containing Foods

  • Buttermilk
  • Cream
  • Custard
  • Ice cream
  • Margarine
  • Milk (cow, goat, sheep)
  • Soft cheese, including cottage cheese and ricotta
  • Yogurt (regular and Greek)

Dairy Substitutes

  • Oat milk (although a 1/8 serving is considered low-FODMAP)
  • Soy milk (U.S.)


  • Baked beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Butter beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Soybeans
  • Split peas


  • Agave
  • Fructose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Isomalt
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol
  • Molasses
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol


  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Scallions (white parts)
  • Shallots
  • Snow peas
  • Sugar snap peas

Low-FODMAP Food List

grilled chicken over vegetables
Cristina Cassinelli/Photolibrary/Getty Images

The following foods have been identified as being low in FODMAPs:


  • Avocado (limit 1/8 of whole)
  • Banana
  • Blueberry
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Olives
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Plantain
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberry
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberry
  • Tangelo


  • Artificial sweeteners that do not end in -ol
  • Brown sugar
  • Glucose
  • Maple syrup
  • Powdered sugar
  • Sugar (sucrose)

Dairy and Alternatives

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk (limit 1/2 cup)
  • Hemp milk
  • Rice milk
  • Butter
  • Certain cheeses, such as  brie, camembert, mozzarella, Parmesan
  • Lactose-free products, such as lactose-free milk, ice cream, and yogurt


  • Arugula (rocket lettuce)
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Collard greens
  • Common Cabbage
  • Corn (half a cob)
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Parsnip
  • Potato
  • Radicchio
  • Scallions (green parts only)
  • Spinach, baby
  • Squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Water chestnut
  • Zucchini


  • Amaranth
  • Brown rice
  • Bulgur wheat (limit to 1/4 cup cooked)
  • Oats
  • Gluten-free products
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt products


  • Almonds (limit 10)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts (limit 10)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecan
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts


  • Caraway
  • Chia
  • Pumpkin
  • Sesame
  • Sunflower

Protein Sources

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Shellfish
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Turkey


For in depth, I mean in depth, information about FODMAP eating, check out The Gut Balance Revolution by Gerard E Mullin, MD.  I am not going to lie, it took me about 2 years to trudge through it, but it is incredibly well researched, so there’s that.

The upside to this is phase two can be done long term and is safe for weight loss as well as being nice to my body overall.  I am pretty excited. Or terrified.  Or consternated.  Or something.  I guess the word would be conflicted.

But, I desperately need to take care of myself and get to a better size.  For me.  Mostly for me.  And for my girls.  Our eating as a family is a disaster.  Way too many carbs and way too much processed food.  Now is the time to clean it up.   Now.

First, to shop and stock this house for wellness.

Wish me luck!

Fat Tuesday a Day Late

I used to do fun projects in our homeschool.  The last year or so I feel like I have gotten lazy–but today I am turning that around…

Fat Tuesday was yesterday, but we were at a field trip, so I am sneaking in our paczki project today.  Caitlyn made some from scratch (baked to fried) and we looked up how they are made in a bakery and about a nearby city here that is famous for these big ole jelly donuts…

She set the dough to rise twice, waited for the individual paczki’s to rise, baked them, and filled them with strawberry jams.  Her sisters decided to “help out” with the jelly part and the eating part!

Caitlyn used this recipe.

Then we checked out some YouTube to see how it is done on a larger scale.

And no lesson in this house would be complete without a study on immigration and how it grows, changes, and develops our communities.  I highly recommend this article!  Take a minute to see a bit of reality in how people leave together, grow together and learn from each other.  You’ll be glad you did–I’ll be glad you did!!

CNN–Part 2

Remember when I wrote this post and I said I would be back with more?  Well, today is the day.

Immigration has been in the news so much.  I have ruined many a night’s sleep reading the news about it.  I have studied it.  I have read about it.  I have read the news.  I have let it into my heart and soul.  It is academic and personal for me.

One book I would highly recommend is The Displaced:  Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen.  This book is a compilation of essays written by refugees (one of many classifications of immigrant under the USA code).  Every essay will make you think, some will break your heart, all will change you if you let them.  I have one, The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri that comes back to me over and over.

Dina Nayeri was born in Iran.  Her family left there when she was 6.  The returned after a short time in London, England, but left permanently when she was 9.  Her family was accepted as refugees by America when she was 10 and ended up in Oklahoma.  What followed was mockery by kids who didn’t know where Iran was, then corrected mockery when the kids found out where Iran was, and a good dose of “you must be so grateful” from local do-gooders.

She spent her life and watched many other immigrants, spending their lives proving they were worthy of the fact they were allowed into the United States of America, when so many others were not.

So many others, 1/2 of 1% of those in refugee camps ever make it to a country for permanent resettlement.  That number is staggering in how small it is.  Families that are resettled leave behind family and friends who are still living in a world of destitution.  They know how “lucky” they are–they sure as hell don’t need us to tell them to be grateful.

Would you want someone asking you, or even just implying, if you are grateful enough to be born here?  People sometimes do that.  It’s uncomfortable, isn’t it?  It puts us in an awkward position; we don’t know how to respond or act when faced with that type of communication.  It stinks.

So why do we do that to others?  Why do we infer they should do something to make America better, to improve this place we call home?

People are people.  They are not valuable because of what they do.  They are valuable because they are, plain and simple.


Motherhood Summed Up

Today, Caitlyn and I tried making our first Syrian food on our own.  We made sambousak.  The variation we made is Spanish cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and fried in zayt (olive oil).  I did some of the frying–Caitlyn did all the rest.  We realized part way through that the oil needed to be hotter…that made her nervous, actually made me nervous too, but I had to be the mom and be brave.

It brought to mind a story that pretty much encapsulates much of motherhood for me.

When I was about Caitlyn’s age, 12, I had to swallow a whole lot of fear to help someone else.

We heated our house with wood when I was growing up.  We had two wood stoves on the main floor of the house and a wood burning furnace in the basement.  Putting wood in them scared the crud out of me.  I was terrified of the flames.  Then, in the dead of winter my mom got really sick from an allergic reaction.  In my young mind, I was afraid she was going to die.  I did everything I could think of to take care of her.  I got worried she would get cold so I gathered up all my courage and learned to put wood in the furnace.  I did it time and time again.  I can’t even tell you it got easier, but I learned I could do what had to be done.

That, to me, is a lot of what motherhood is.  Seeing the fear, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway.

The results aren’t always pretty, but it gets done.  One fire at a time.

Holding Space

Today I sat with someone who had experienced a devastating death in their family.  It isn’t my story to tell, but I had a few thoughts about it that I think are okay for me to share.

My hubby and I were just talking Sunday, before we knew of this friend’s loss, about food and how we take it to people when there is a death.  We often hear how this or that culture shows their love through food, but honestly, I think all cultures do.  Food is so central to life that it is the first thing that comes to mind when there is joy or sorrow.  My hubby pointed out how often the person who is grieving is not at all interested in food, but it is what we do, food is made, a plate is given, again and again no matter if the person has an appetite or not.

It’s what we know, it is at the core of our beings.

And suddenly, a few hours after this conversation, I was in that place of saying, “I want to bring a meal for them” when I found out about a loss.  In my offer, I found myself sitting with this family as they grieved today.  Turns out, in this particular culture, friends and family bring meals for three days and sit with the bereaved.  So I went with two other friends and brought my paultry offering of a casserole and brownies.  We ate, talked and just were, we held space.

I particularly just held space. I don’t understand the language of those I was with very much and I understand even less of the particular dialect of the mourners.  So I sat.

Today was day three, so the official time of sitting with the family is completed.  Grieving of course with not stop, really not for a lifetime, but for these three days, people came, people sat.  People held space for those who had lost someone they loved so very much.

Next time someone you know experiences a death in their family or circle of friends, pause, sit, hold space with them.  They will never forget it and you will be forever changed.


Not Just Words

It is incredible how much we say in a day…print media, broadcast media, social media…it is all focussed on one thing–what we have to say.

Do we mean what we say or are they just words?

When Caitlyn was little and learning how to say words, she picked up the phrase oh my gosh.  We as a family do not say oh my G-d, to borrow a way of writing it from a friend because even typing that phrase hurts me.  We believe using the name of God in this phrase goes against scripture where it says in the old testament, Exodus 20, verse 7, among others, you shall not take the Lord thy God’s name in vain.  So as a weak substitute, we say oh my gosh, but in her young speech you couldn’t really hear the distinction, so we banned the phrase altogether.

Time has passed and we have let oh my gosh slip back into our speech…and as I write this, I realize we need to change that.  God, my Heavenly Father, deserves more than just changing a d to a sh.

We’ve been working on this a bit anyway as Sue talks so fast it is almost impossible to hear if she is saying d or sh.

Well, that wasn’t what I meant to write about…

Anyway, in a conversation with a friend tonight, I said, “I’ve been praying about it.”  And I wondered if she knows that I have been or might that sound like just words.

They aren’t just words to me.  Ever.  But especially not right now.

I have always loved to pray.  Since I was a little girl.  I believe in prayer.  I know God hears us.  And I know He answers according to His will.  For decades, I have known the Lord has a strong desire on me to pray.  But prayer is daunting.  How do I start?  How do I keep my mind from wandering?  How do I not fall asleep?  Will any of my prayers get answered?

Years ago, I read a book, Intercessory Prayer,  by Dutch Sheets. * Parts of it I found outside of the teaching I have heard in the church, but none of it evil, so I reread the book recently.  And then another of his, and another.  Now I have branched into other authors.  And actually spent time praying.  I love it just as much as I have always said I do.  There is a connection with God that is comforting and challenging.  A desire to see if that close feeling continues if I keep praying or if it is a passing fancy.  I find it to be consistently, over the years, always feeling like I am home, where I belong when I pray.

So, next time you talk to me or read me say that I am praying for you or that situation, rest assured it is true, very, very true.

*Please note I just found this website as I was writing this post.  I have not studied it and including it here is not stating that I agree with his ministry 100%.  As I read, I will decide that, but I thought it was worthwhile to include this link.



My CNN–Part 1

Back in the day, I was a newspaper reporter.  I covered the police beat in a small town.  Part of my job was to go to the local State Police Post every morning and get an update.  They called me CNN–Charity News Network.

Today I am going to revive my title for just a few moments.  I am going to try and tell a story that isn’t fully mine to tell, but needs to be said.  Needs to be said.

I read a lot of Facebook and in the news about immigration as we all do.  Sometimes I scroll past, sometimes I stop.  The times I am most likely to stop?  When someone claims to have the Bible on their side.  Yeah.  Especially when someone suggests people read the Bible to learn about immigration but are in the same post espousing things that are very un-Biblical.

The Bible does talk about immigration.  It sure does.

Exodus 22:21 (ESV)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

Here, he was speaking to the Israelites.  They had started as refugees during the famine throughout the land.  God had put Joseph in charge of the food that had been saved in Egypt due dreams God had given Pharoah that there would be 7 good years followed by 7 years of famine.  Joseph had interpreted the dream for Pharoah and the ruler had put him in charge of getting the nation ready and through the famine.  Joseph moved his father and brothers to Egypt after they were reunited.  They lived there in peace as immigrants for many years until a new Pharoah came who didn’t give a care that Joseph had saved his nation; in the meantime, the number of Israelites had grown exponentially and the Pharoah decided to enslave them.  After many, many years, God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and the above verse is just one time God told the Israelites to treat immigrants well.

Exodus 23:9 (ESV)

“You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

He doesn’t say, treat them well if they make your life better or if everyone you know has a good job and everything they could ever need or want.  No, that isn’t in there.  He simply says not to oppress because you know what it is like.

The Old Testament is not the only place we find the plight of the immigrant addressed.  Jesus himself was a refugee.  After He was born the wise men came and told Herod they wanted to worship the newborn king.  Well, this ticked off Herod.  He didn’t want another king around.  Keeping those Israelites, who were once again being oppressed, in line was hard enough…what if they thought there was a new king for them?  So, Herod decided to kill all the baby boys 2 and under just to make sure he got this newborn king the wise men had asked about.  But, God told Jesus’ earthly [stand in] father Joseph that they should flee to Egypt, kind of ironic, huh, to keep Jesus safe.

Matthew 2:13 (ESV)

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

There are many more examples.  You can find them by searching sojourner in the English Standard Bible.  You’ll find them, but you won’t find, care for them IF they have valuable skills to bring to you, IF they are appreciative enough, IF they speak flawless English, IF, IF, IF…

Now, I am not advocating open borders.  A vetting process is wise.  But telling people to be patient through a 10+ year process is arrogant and ill-informed.

People do not leave their homes and everything they have ever known with little to no chance of ever returning because it sounds like a good opportunity or it seems fun.  They go because they can’t stay where they are.  The go because of bombs, chemical warfare, total economic desolation, persecution.  They go to save their children, their lives.

And most of them never get to a stable living situation.  Many never get out of a refugee camp.  Only 1/2 of 1% of people in refugee camps end up resettled in a new country.  And before any of them come they are thoroughly vetted, particularly refugees…they are vetted before they are considered for resettlement and then they are vetted another 8 times by US federal agencies if they are selected to come to the USA.  They do not choose which country they will go to and they do not know when they will be going.  There is no planning something evil, there is survival.  There is praying you are safe while you wait for a new home, there is fear, there is uncertainty.  And there is no way of knowing what life will be like when you arrive in a new home country.  There is accepting a whole new role in life.  You may have been highly educated and/or financially successful in your country of origin, but in your new country, you are starting all over.

Are they thankful to be settled in a new location, yes.  Would they rather be back home in a safe world surrounded by their loved ones, language, and culture, by and large, yes.

People are considered for immigration based on many criteria.

There are a number of classifications of immigrant within America’s legal immigration process.  There is a naturalized citizen, lawful permanent resident, conditional permanent resident, self-petitioner, special immigrant juvenile status, refugee, asylum seeker, non-immigrant temporary visas, victim of trafficking in persons, and crime victim or witness.  How, when, and where you apply is just the beginning of the process.

There is so much more to cover concerning immigrants that I think it would be best to continue this discussion another day but I would like to conclude with this thought.  Coming to the US borders, South, North, East or West and requesting asylum is 100% legal.  Having large numbers come at once may be overwhelming and difficult, but that does not make it illegal.  Not at all.  Not in the least.  So consider that the next time you want to talk about illegal immigrants.  If you are talking about a caravan coming, you are using the wrong term.  They are not illegal and are not illegal if they are allowed to come in.  If you are talking about the lady in a hijab or the gardener who speaks Bangla…you have no idea of their status.  You have no idea if their papers are all in order and carried with them everywhere just in case someone gives them a hard time or maybe they were born here.  You don’t know.  You don’t know if they are receiving public assistance.  And even if you talk to them and find out they are refugees but they don’t “sound” like they have fled a war, believe me, you won’t know until they trust you enough to tell you.

You won’t know until they trust you enough to tell you.

(Information taken from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees website, Immigration and the State Courts Initiative as well as personal interaction with refugees)








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So earlier this week I blogged about losing hours to a migraine.  I actually fight quite a few headaches.  I’ve had sinus headaches since I was 6-years-old.  I remember laying in my bed holding a pillow around my head rolling around in pain.

It stunk.

There are worse things, but it stunk.

All these years later, the only thing that helps my headaches are excedrin, essential oils, and running.  But most of the time, that help is only marginal.  For the last couple years I have noticed I often wake up with a niggling headache and start each day fighting it from becoming a full blown jerk.  I have been assuming it is sinus crap.

Then tonight I clicked on a link about headaches in the morning.  The top reason they gave was high blood pressure.  I used to have fantastic blood pressure, but then I had pre-eclampsia when I was pregnant with my oldest.  It took it a while to come down after she was born, but then it did.  I went back to good blood pressure contrary to my grandma’s declaration that I was now going to have high blood pressure.  Unfortunately, it has just been erratic over the last few years.  My resting heart rate is fantastic, low, to mid 4os, but my blood pressure is always high at the doctor’s office.  Most of the time it is okay once I get home.

I don’t know why the change.  The weight I have gained?  Is it medication I am on?  Anxiety?  I exercise decently.  Right now I am in a funk, but most weeks I run 10 miles and walk in addition to that.  Hubby says I don’t exercise.  I am pretty sure he is just giving me crap.

I took it tonight and it is sky high.

Do I call the doctor or continue to let it slide?  Is Dr. Facebook as worthless as Dr. Google?