My Worst Critic


Dinner time. Not going to lie…it pretty much sucks at my house these days. We finally moved earlier this month (project separation finally complete), so it’s just the two of us these days when it’s time to eat.

For all the things I can complain about my ex, one of the things she did right was make me feel like a Rock Star at dinner time! I don’t believe I ever cooked a meal she did not like. I’m pretty much used to hearing on a regular basis “I could eat this every single day of my life!” Sets the bar pretty high for my apparently fragile ego.

So now that I’m faced with the nightly lack-luster response, at best, to my cooking…you can imagine how excited I am to fix dinner at all.

Cooking for two isn’t easy. Cooking for one and a half is even harder, especially when your ‘half’ is only 4 & 3/4.

Tonight I thought I was going to nail it. I did not. On any given day, at any given time, if you ask my child what she wants to eat the words that will ALWAYS come out of her mouth are “Macaroni-and-cheese!” I used to love macaroni-and-cheese. My child has most certainly ruined macaroni-and-cheese for me for the rest of my life (Thanks Obama!). My child would eat macaroni-and-cheese for ever meal, every day of the week and be happy. I do not serve macaroni-and-cheese at every meal. I do not serve macaroni-and-cheese every week. I almost hate macaroni-and-cheese (no offense).

But tonight I thought I made a brilliant compromise…a way to adulterize (yes, I just made up that word…I think…just go with it) macaroni-and-cheese and give us both a win/win: three CHEESE, spinach stuffed ravioli!!! Brilliant, right? NOPE!

I was crazy proud of my meal: Ravioli – which is pasta and cheese – to me that’s basically mac-n-cheese, right???? (okay…so there is also asparagus hidden inside those three cheeses, but I wasn’t about to mention that part…and so what if the pasta was green because it’s a spinach pasta? It’s a beautiful color if you ask me). Accompanying the main course was sautéed yellow squash and zucchini with onions (all grown in my mom’s garden), and a handful of organic raspberries. LOVELY!!!

My mom has a beautiful garden, and when we are there, I make sure B participates in the gardening harvest. “Get them involved in growing the vegetables. This is the best way to get them interested in eating them!” says all the advice books/articles on how to get your picky eater to eat vegetables.

B picking the actual zucchini that was used in tonight's sauteed veggie dish. To her credit, she did finish all her veggies.

B picking the actual zucchini that was used in tonight’s sauteed veggie dish. To her credit, she did finish all her veggies.

When dinner time was called she walked up to the table, looked at her plate, and announced “Ugh! DISGUSTING!” This is what our plates looked like:

Her plate

Her plate

My plate

My plate

To me, this was a beautiful dinner. One that I couldn’t WAIT to sit down and enjoy. Her response completely deflated me.
I said “You haven’t even TRIED it yet! How can you call it disgusting?” My feelings genuinely hurt, I continued on. “How would you feel, Belen, if you drew me a picture and I took one look at it and said ‘Eeewww! UGLY!’ How do you think that would make YOU feel?”
“Not very good.” she replied.
“You’re right. Cooking dinner is mommy’s art. When you come to the table and proclaim “EWWW!” it really hurts my feelings. I spent a lot of time preparing this meal for you.” I said.
“I’m sorry, mommy.” she replied. Then she took a bite and thought for a minute and then gave me a sideways thumb, which means ‘sorta good, but sorta bad.’ It’s pretty much the best ranking I can get out of her.


I’m eating out tomorrow night.

Future Resident

Future Resident Parking

Today I took one of the first of many daunting steps in this thing we call divorce – apartment hunting. I visited three different places and only looked at one apartment. And I feel completely worn out. I’m so overwhelmed at the moment. I have no ability to see forward right now. My stress and anxiety are through the roof. How is this going to work?

How can I be so utterly ready to move on, yet paralyzed by the fear of moving on at the same time? It’s the conflicting emotions that get me every time. How do I afford this? How do I choose where the ‘best’ place is for me and B? Is there a secret way I can just push fast-forward and simply BE at the next part of this?

I know we will be okay – that’s the only choice there is. I’m just hoping to start feeling it at some point.

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.


Going through a separation is difficult, even under the best of circumstances. Every day is a different type of challenge. Adding a child makes it even more so. We generally get along really well, but let’s face it…we are still two people trying to live under one roof in a failed marriage. Sometimes it gets tough.

I have my people – those who I turn to, venting my latest frustration or fear. Time and time again I hear how well I’m taking everything. How calm I am and how strong I must be. And to an extent I am strong through this – all things considered. But whenever I hear someone say this, my mind almost always jumps to a time where I felt my entire world actually cave in on me. I go back to that time when I felt so lost and alone and afraid of what was to come.

Five years today. That doesn’t seem right. It seems like it should be longer AND shorter. That doesn’t make sense, and yet there are those who know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve felt him a lot these past few weeks – it happens every year just before my birthday. I’m still not completely sure if it was lucky or unbelievably cruel that we lost him as fast as we did. The doctors told us we’d have six months to a year – we got just over three weeks.  On February 9th, which is also my brother’s birthday and how I am able to remember it so clearly, I was able to tell him the wonderful news that I was pregnant. It was over the phone and my mom is the one who actually called out to tell him as they were wheeling him away for a blood transfusion. I didn’t actually get to speak to him, but I could hear him yell “OH GOOD!” in the distance. It’s the last time I remember my dad being coherent. When I arrived a couple days later it was apparent the chemo wasn’t going to give us the precious time I had hoped for. I knew my dad would never meet my baby.

This was our last family photo taken of the four of us...well, five of us - I'm pregnant here but didn't know it yet.

This was our last family photo taken of the four of us…well, five of us – I’m pregnant here but didn’t know it yet. My dad passed away two weeks after this was taken.

But his wasn’t even the first major loss I experienced. Only a few months prior in October, we were given our first blow when we lost my grandma (mom’s mom) to a stroke. Eerily enough, my mom was able to share with her mom a secret that no one else knew at the time – I was pregnant. I’m told my grandmother’s face lit up when she heard. She passed away shortly after that and two days later I lost the baby.

Lydia captured this photo shortly after finding out I was indeed having a miscarriage.

Lydia captured this photo shortly after finding out I was having a miscarriage. At first I hated seeing it, but soon I treasured it because it’s the only photo I have to signify my first baby.

I lost three people. Three family members in the span of four short months. There are no words I can use to describe what that loss felt like. It was all consuming. I now knew what true despair felt like. It made everything else seem so…small – in comparison. I started to look back on my life and smirk at all the ‘life ending breakups’ I’d gone through. All those broken hearts I’d ever suffered seemed so incredibly easy at that moment. A joke, really. And that’s when I realized I had it – perspective.

Life changes every day. I’m going through a difficult time right now, sure, but we are all still here. Lydia and I fight and get on each others nerves and say things we later regret – but we’re still having conversations; we’re still making plans for the future – albeit altered plans than originally thought; we still have family dinners together for goodness sake! And yes we joke that we’ll probably be that weird couple that’s broken up but still does everything together like in the movie Celeste & Jesse Forever. It happens.

My life today is far from broken. And that’s why I am strong. My heart is full and my life has immense purpose. That little face next to me in the video below will always be my perspective because she represents a piece of all three of them. And everything else will forever be just a minor bump in the road.


On the Road to Something New

Following the new road for 2015.

Following the new road for 2015.

Ever wonder if someone is really as happy as they appear on your social networking sites? Ever want to know the real story of what’s going on in their life? Well, then I’m your girl.

I’m a very typical (mom) FaceBook user: I post way too many pictures of my kid (I mean why not? She’s the best thing I’ve ever done, of COURSE she’s going to get the center stage!). I occasionally partake in the latest FB quizzes. I post links to favorite songs, lost or stolen animals/kids, and inspirational quotes. I share all about my newest passion of 2014 – essential oils, anyone?? I look blissfully happy according to FaceBook. I mean, even I look back through my year to see how great it’s been! But there are always hints to what’s missing from your page. And it’s funny to me how even people I’m not very close to anymore will pick up on one or two of them – and most often it’s because they too have experienced similar situations in their own life and probably recognize those telling omissions from friends’ pages.

Those closest to me know that I’m totally ready to welcome 2015 with open arms. I’m not normally one to divulge my personal life in such a public way, but so far that only means that I’m quietly licking my wounds alone. I’m ready to try things differently this time – as in break out of my routine and really shake this life of mine up a bit.

2014 started off rough with Lydia traveling for work more than 50% of the time. By late summer/early Fall, it was growing more and more clear that the strain would prove too much for our marriage. Before anyone starts jumping the band wagon of choosing sides, seriously, no one was ‘at fault’ more than another – we struggled, we tried, we didn’t work – period. The silver lining in all of this is I think we will actually come out stronger because of this experience and I do believe I might have just discovered my best friend after all. We have both proven our commitment to raising our daughter together and putting her first and foremost before anything else. But marriage between us just wasn’t meant to be. Life goes on and it most certainly will here.

The month of November dealt another low blow with the ending of friendships with two very close friends of mine – the remnants of this is still rippling through me. Betrayed by one who I trusted and loved as a sister. Shut out by another as she made the difficult decision to focus on her family and support her wife – as she should. This has been so painful to go through. I don’t open up very often to people and I did here. Friendship. Trust. Betrayal. Decisions that broke apart families. It’s hard to go through an experience like this and not feel bitterness and resentment – I feel these things daily.

But life is all about choices and even this is my choice. I can either sit in my bitterness and resentment and close off that part of me and wallow in my own self pity…alone…OR I can forgive all that has happened, reach for understanding and empathy to circumstances I may not have been aware of and open my heart to love and trust in future friendships AND relationships. I’m choosing the later.

I am looking to make deeper connections with people and the way to do this, I believe, is to let them in. This next year is going to be a total overhaul of who I’ve been and who I want to be. Some things feel so crystal clear to me. Opening up and talking to people in ways I never have is like a small peek into the relationships that are just ever so slightly out of my reach. I just have to take the risk, be vulnerable and let people in. Yes, I feel did that and got burned – but like everyone says – the best ‘revenge’ is to go on and live a ridiculously happy life full of friends and laughter in SPITE of that one pitfall. I absolutely refuse to go further into a shell and live my life not opening up to people or not putting faith and trust in friendships. This past year has taught me a lot, but it will not define me, or anything I do from here.

What on earth does any of this have to do with eating my way healthy? Nothing. But I haven’t been eating my way healthy for quite some time – been a little preoccupied with just getting through the day. But sitting here at rock bottom (at least MY personal rock bottom), I’m excited and ready for what’s in front of me. This next year is going to bring about a TON of new changes: a milestone birthday, a new home, new schedules, new friends (& getting reacquainted with some old ones), and who knows what else!

This blog will naturally morph a bit to include my experiences with all of the above AS WELL AS getting myself back on track, which obviously includes my health, but going deeper this time into all aspects of health (body, mind, & spirit) – not just food. I am realistic…this new life as a separated, co-parent will have challenges I know not of today. I will struggle at times and resort to what’s easy – I’m human, and that’s okay too.

This will be my place to be real and sometimes raw, but always honest. If you’re interested in keeping up with how we’re doing, I’d love it if you’d ‘follow’ me.

This is my year – I can just feel it!

And Maybe…Not So Much.

A funny thing happened about two hours after I posted my last update – I couldn’t swallow my lunch. I mean, I physically, COULD. NOT. SWALLOW. IT. Everything that I make right now has a foundation of my homemade chicken or beef stock. So everything sort of has a ‘it-all-tastes-the-same’ thing going on. My body seemed to have hit a wall and is screaming at me to make some changes. I added in a glass of goat’s milk with my lunch and it was like I discovered the world’s most amazing treat (yeah, and for goat’s milk!). The following morning I got on the scale a saw that I had lost almost six-and-a-half pounds…in seven days! While it might sound like an amazing problem to have, it’s clearly a sign that this is not working out so great for my body. No one should loose practically a pound a day!! That’s just NOT healthy – nor is it sustainable.

So after much debate (with myself) and discussion (with the family), I’ve decided to stop the Intro Diet and move back into the full GAPS Diet. Part of me feels disappointed, like I failed or gave-in again, but part of me is really relieved. It’s not easy eating boiled meats and vegetables and broth every day, for every meal. While it’s true, over time, new foods will be introduced, but if I can’t even get myself to swallow the main part of the diet (homemade stock), then waiting three more days for a new food item probably isn’t the best idea.

Case in point – last night I made for dinner the carrot and yellow squash soup from the Intro Diet meal plan I’ve been following. We added chicken to the soup, and for dessert I made a GAPS blueberry/peach/strawberry crumble (pulled the recipe off the internet here). I ate 1/4 of the 8×8 pan. I would’ve eaten the entire thing if I wasn’t worried about Lydia thinking I was a major pig. I got on the scale this morning and was another 1.5 pounds lighter. IN ONE DAY – after totally gorging on dessert! I need more calories and the way to do that is to add in more GAPS legal foods.

So I keep pressing on in this journey, and I keep learning what works for my body and what doesn’t. And hopefully, at the end of all this searching – I’ll have found a healthier, happier me. And that’s the bottom line! Bon Appetit (and get READY to see all amazing things I’m about to make)!

Still Chugging!!

Well, we’ve made it to Day Seven! This was SO much easier than the last go around – I think because through all my ‘cheating’ I still wasn’t eating sugar (only honey). So I didn’t have the sugar withdrawal. BUT yesterday and today are starting to feel rough. Don’t get me wrong – there’s temptation EVERY DAY, but the mind games are now kicking in. I am constantly battling with myself right now – this is silly. we don’t need to do this. eating FULL GAPS is enough. you can stop this at any moment and make that GAPS friendly granola and call it a day. But I keep reminding myself – it’s only one month. we have one week down. why blow it now?? you can do this. And so I have!

Of all places that were the most challenging this week – church was one of them. This past Sunday our church celebrated our 18th year and of course, we had a pot luck. Most of the time our church pot lucks consist of seven or eight desserts and maybe one or two dishes. That was not the case this past week. The table was FULL of amazing aromas and mouthwatering treats. And I couldn’t even sample a bite!
IMG_2601 IMG_2602 IMG_2605
Homemade empanadas, chicken salad sandwiches, TACOS, Shepherds Pie, fruit, homemade rhubarb pie, tiramisu, cookies, and of course CAKE! I wanted to bend down and lick the entire thing. I actually pictured myself grabbing two of those fat, purple, sugary-goodness flowers with my hand and shoving them into my mouth. I could smell the frosting and my body was saying “GIVE THAT TO ME!” Cutting a piece for B was pure torture. At one point I almost caved. A woman brought gluten free monkey bread. I even went so far as getting some into a bowl.
But some how, some way, I managed to NOT eat this. As much as I wanted to listen to the voice telling me it was fine because after all, my doctor said if she could choose one thing for me to remove from my diet it would be gluten, I refused to give in. I didn’t want to hear it, but I made myself say over and over ‘It’s not worth another migraine. It’s not worth another migraine.’

And now here we are at Day Seven!! I’m a fourth of the way there!! I’ll admit, the food is starting to get old. I’m tired of soup. I’m tired of boiled veggies and meat. But today we add in two new squashes AND eggs! So there’s new stuff coming. I now believe I can make it all the way.

And so I keep trying!

Eating My Way Healthy – Take 2!

Acceptance. It takes time. Everyone’s journey is different. There’s no need to apologize. There’s no need to dwell on falling down. The only thing that matters is that you get up and keep moving. I started moving again, yesterday. Here’s my recap:

Day 1:

Coming to terms with the GAPS Intro diet is pretty much all mental for me. When I started this journey this past November, I made it to Day 3 when I decided it was just too difficult and decided to jump ahead to Day 22 (when I could add honey and a few fruits to the diet). The moment I made that decision is most likely, in my mind, when I allowed the first crack in my dam that would eventually become the flood that swept me back to the bad habits I had formed my entire life with regards to food.

Each time you allow yourself a small window, there’s another window around the corner, just waiting to be opened. I finally said ‘No. I will not open another window. I will not allow another slip up to steer me off this path.’

It’s easy to say this right now. I’m back on Day 1 again. Today is relatively easy. It’s tomorrow and the days that follow that become the real challenge. But it’s my hope – and my deepest desire – to be nothing but successful this time around. Because at the base of it all, I know how healthy I feel when I remove all the excess garbage that otherwise occupies my body. But temptation is EVERYWHERE and after a while it just wears me down. I’m sure others can relate.

Day 1 of the GAPS Into Diet is pretty basic and limited. Here’s a rundown of what we ate:

Upon Waking: glass of room temp water (in the future I will add in my oil pulling routing).
Breakfast: Homemade beef stock with boiled butternut squash, pureed until smooth. Glass of room temp water.
Lunch: Boiled broccoli in homemade beef stock, sprinkled with seal salt. Glass of room temp water.
Dinner: Boiled chicken, onions, and butternut squash in homemade chicken stock. Glass of room temp water.
After Dinner Snack: More boiled chicken, onions, and butternut squash in homemade chicken stock. Glass of room temp water.

I ended the day with a raging migraine (how’s THAT for temptation to give up??) It could be  the lack of sugar and carbs. It could be the weather (it’s been raining for a couple days now). It could just be my plain dumb luck.

Earlier in the day I was battling my migraine with one of my essential oils that I’ve now added into this journey: Dragon Time. Because every doctor I see says my migraines are hormonal (including my new Homeopathic Doctor I started seeing last month), I’m leaning more towards Dragon Time which claims to help regulate hormones. During the day this was working really well. I applied one drop to each ankle using the Vita Flex points (see pic inserted below), one drop to my lower abdomen, and then one drop rubbed into my neck (not one of the recommended locations, but sometime you just go with your gut as to where to apply).
I did this application twice during the day, when I would feel a headache coming on and it would go away. But somewhere around dinner time, I just got sidetracked and didn’t keep up the regiment. After I put my daughter to bed, I decided to take my detox bath (part of the GAPS protocol) of epsom salt – I added in few drops of Lavender for extra relaxation. I already had a full-blow headache at this point and in my hazed, painful, brain, forgot about my dragon time and turned to my M-Grain instead. I added three drops to my shampoo and let it soak into my scalp for several minutes. It did not work. I went downstairs to try to watch some TV and continued to diffuse my M-Grain. It still did not work. After about 30 minutes I gave up and went up to bed and to my prescribed migraine medicine. It did not work. I was close to tears and in bed for the night, wondering how long I should wait before I asked Lydia to drive me up to the ER. For those who suffer you know – rational thought just does not happen when you have a full-blown migraine. Lydia asked me if I had tried the Dragon Time rather than the M-Grain. DING!!! I just plain forgot about that. I immediately turned on the light and grabbed my Dragon Time (so perfectly named, in my humble opinion). I went through my usual routine: ankles, lower abdomen, back of neck. Then, again on gut feeling, I put another drop on my hand and just started rubbing it all over the side of my head that hurt – on my temple and through my hair, to my scalp, hitting whatever spots I could find. I laid back down and within minutes started to feel relief. I was sound asleep after about 15 minutes passed. I now plan on taping the words “DRAGON TIME!” to every mirror in the house, lest I forget again!
That was yesterday. This morning I woke up with no headache – my miracle for the day and I am SO blessed to have received it! I started the day with my Dragon Time ‘routine’ hoping to get a jump on the ball, before my migraine beast has a chance to get a jump on me. I am halfway through Day 2 – but I will leave that for tomorrow. Until then…

* After a few friends suggested I try using essential oils as a method to alleviating my migraines, I did and have had pretty good success. In January I decided to become an Independent Distributor for Young Living Essential Oils. If you would like more information, please send me a private message and I will be happy to share my full story and answer any questions you may have. You can email me directly at: 

The Gates Were Opened and a Flood Washed In

IMG_1755 The holidays happened and let’s just say, I’m really glad they are over. I made a promise that I would continue with our family’s tradition of my mom’s Christmas morning sticky bun recipe, passed down from her mom, and let’s just be honest – they are DEFINITELY NOT GAPS! Christmas morning came and breakfast was amazing!! By the end of the day we had consumed the entire pan.

Being that the day was already ruined by tons of flour and sugar, I decided to order pizza for everyone for dinner. Over the next few days, this is pretty much how it continued. There was always ‘one more party’ to attend and eat our way through. Finally we made it to New Year’s – again, one more day of uncaring indulgence. While I did eat many things no “GAPS legal” I did always eat grain-free/sugar-free while at home. So I would say maybe one meal per day was outside the parameters of the diet. All things considered, I was still WAY under the amount of carbs my previous diet afforded.

For the seven days from Christmas morning through New Year’s Eve I felt so sluggish. I never really noticed an energy increase when we started GAPS, but I definitely felt a slow DOWN returning to flours and sugars. My mood was also plummeting. I felt cranky most of the time. I also gained four pounds – typical for the holidays, yes – but NOT typical considering I wasn’t really eating more than my usual amounts of food.

But just that one little window was enough to send me in to a tail spin of cravings. My desire for sugar is off the charts. Some days I’m completely obsessed by it. When we started GAPS back in November, I remember having the sugar craving, but after about three days it was gone. I feel like I’m still struggling today to get it back under control. Even all my GAPS ‘treats’ aren’t quenching this insatiable desire.

I think part of the problem is having in the back of my mind that I’m going to start the GAPS Intro Diet again this March. So it’s sort of the binge effect prior to starting it the first go around. It’s a daily struggle right now. One that keeps me preoccupied with food right now – specifically, big tubs of frosting, because at the end of the day that’s what I really want. Spoonful, after spoonful, of homemade confectioners vanilla frosting. Yummmmm.

I am pretty much back on a GAPS friendly menu – I have had one bad day where I ate a slice of pizza for dinner just because I couldn’t take it any more. The rest of the meals have all been on track and I’ve even lost those four pounds, plus one more for good measure! Happy New Year to me!

She Likes It! She REALLY Likes It!

I was hoping she'd eat one - she asked for THREE!

I was hoping she’d eat one – she asked for THREE!

While I have switched over to a no grains, no sugars, no processed food diet, my little one has not. When I ask her why she doesn’t like to eat what mommy cooks for her response is “Because it’s yucky!” Even if she takes a bite of a new dinner placed in front of her and says ‘Yum!’ she will still not eat it and follows that ‘Yum!’ with a big swig of milk (to get the taste out??). So when I tried this gluten-free pumpkin spice muffins recipe from Real Food Whole Health’s blog I wasn’t expecting much. I made a similar recipe for blueberry muffins posted on the Well Fed Homestead blog (again, out of this world yummy) she was only interested in picking out the blueberries, leaving the rest behind.

To my utmost surprise she ate the first one in the blink of an eye and then said,
“More, please?”
I almost fell out of my chair.
“Really??” I said.
“Yes!” she said. “These are my favorite!”

Needless to say between the two of us we ate the entire batch of 18 muffins over a two-day period.

I did made two small alterations to the pumpkin spice muffins. Instead of using sucanant or coconut sugar, I used honey (honey is the only sweetener allowed on the GAPS diet). I had some left over pumpkin puree from Thanksgiving which was about a cup and a half. The recipe only called for one cup of pumpkin. I definitely didn’t want 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree hanging out in my fridge, so I just threw it all in. While the muffins had a VERY strong pumpkin flavor, it is actually what makes these a top contender for my favorite recipe found so far.

To Really Eat Healthy, You Must Start at the Beginning…a HEALTHY Beginning!

This came across in my Facebook newsfeed today and I just HAD to repost and share it. I’ve been looking in to Polyface farm for several months now. They are located about two hours away from where we live, but I still can’t wait to get out there this Spring and take a tour of the farm. We’ve also signed-up for their food delivery project. Did you know they have pick-up locations all around the NOVA area?? Seriously, check them out!