It Happened…

Mike and Ashley have arrived after a much anticipated trip to Fargo.We have already been so busy visiting family and friends that their time here will be over and done before we know it. Tonight we went out for a family dinner at Osaka. I’m not sure if I wrote about it back then but this was our very last meal before giving up animal products and trying the McDougall lifestyle. It has always been my all time favorite restaurant. The yum yum sauce alone was worth the $25 price tag. I would always try and convince out of towners that that is the must try restaurant. I made Ashley eat with me there one of the last times she was in town and she fell in love with it as much as me.

So when deciding what to eat for a family dinner tonight we chose Osaka as our restaurant. The hibachi portion of the restaurant is the side that is most fun in my opinion. You get the fun show and everything made right in front of you. But when you sit on that side of the restaurant it’s a bit more awkward to order off the menu and not have the teppanyaki food like everyone else. And the food made on the hibachi grill is all cooked in butter. So I was faced with a big dilemma: to eat hibachi or not. If I ordered sushi I would have to order enough to make me somewhat full and that would require about 3 rolls (two AAC rolls and one sweet potato roll) and maybe an order of edamame. That would probably cost as much as the hibachi meal if not more and really it wouldn’t be that much food for the price. I just didn’t want to eat something off the menu and I wanted to eat with everyone else on the “fun” side (as it really is a big part of the whole experience). So I ate hibachi. I did. I willingly and knowingly made the choice to consume animal products. It felt very weird to concede that meal.

Yes, I have mistakenly eaten some processed foods made with milk or eggs (as I think all vegans do as part of the learning curve) but I had yet to have knowingly consumed it. I had very conflicted feelings. The first one being that we didn’t make this switch to be vegan for the sake of animal compassion. When I was a teenager I had entertained the idea of veganism because of my love of animals but never thought it would be something I could actually accomplish. I had never met a vegan in real life. Later in life when I was dating M he told me jokingly (but not really you know?) that he’d break up with me or divorce me if I ever went vegan (not even if I made him vegan but if I myself chose to go vegan). Isn’t life funny? But as much as I have grown up with a deep love of animals and their welfare I can say with full openness that that is not what made us stop eating animals. For me personally it has always been an added bonus, an extra for choosing this lifestyle. For M he doesn’t care as much as me. So when we decided to eat these food choices tonight for him there was no guilt or shame and it was all about family, fun, good food, and a small temporary setback in his health journey. And I wasn’t mad about that at all. If he needs these very special occasions to eat “normal” and it helps him be successful long term than I can accept that.

For me it wasn’t so simple. Veganism for compassion reasons is a topic I have really only explored since making the switch. I attempted to watch Earthlings but was too horrified to continue watching it. I’ve seen and heard how factory farms treat animals solely as a good and not as a living breathing creature that feels pain, sadness, and fear. I’ve seen videos of how that industry has no laws dictating the ethical treatment of animals OR it’s “employees” which often enough are illegal immigrants that these corporations willingly and knowingly bring in so that they are too afraid to speak up about what goes in for fear of deportation. I’ve learned about how Tyson controls it’s local farmers by making them so far into debt that they will never be able to back out of the industry. That isn’t to say that local farmers don’t give animals a full happy life and kill them humanely but it isn’t the norm for big companies whose main concern is making more money. Or that hunting wild animals for population control and for feeding your own family is something I disagree with because it’s not. But the big animal industry as a whole is just something that has lost its appeal for me personally. And all of this is just a small side affect to why I am actually doing this. I’m doing this for my health, for weight loss, for healing my PCOS, for conceiving a child, for having a healthy pregnancy, for raising a healthy child, for my husband to be off of medications, etc. When I think about it like that “cheating” once in the big picture of things seems reasonable. I never even expected myself to last this long. I was secretly scared that we’d give up and go back to what wasn’t working in the first three weeks. So for making it this far and still having no desire to give up even after this cheat meal feels great. But at the same time I needed this meal to be as cruelty free as I could make it because it actually is important to me now. (Although can I have a tangent moment and say that I hate the vegan label. It makes me feel like a self righteous asshole and I feel like people always think that I am thinking that I’m better than them. And that’s just not the case.) Anyway I decided to eat the onion soup which I’m sure was made with some kind of animal stock/broth, the salad which I think was vegan, and then I ordered the veggie meal instead of a meat meal. All meals come with two pieces of shrimp and the rice and veggies are cooked in butter. The rice also included eggs. I chose not to eat the yum yum sauce because it was possible for me to say no. When the chef makes a family style meal cooked in butter I couldn’t really say no but I can say no to a no meat meal and no additional dairy. Plus diary is so bad for PCOS I just don’t want it messing with my hormones. 

So I ate it. And I’m glad M enjoyed his meal as did the rest of the family. It was fun and sometimes family moments are worth relaxing control for. I did have some sharp pains after first eating the meal and some mild upset tummy for an hour or two afterwards. So I’m sure your question is would I do it again? And the answer is probably not and the reason is that what used to be the worlds best meal in my eyes wasn’t as enjoyable as it used to be. Yes the food was still very good. But not drowning it all in yum yum sauce I was able to notice how salty it all was. And since I love sushi and edamame and their salad I think taste wise I would be just as good as the meal I ordered. So if the taste level is the same why not choose the meal that has less baggage attached to it for me? All in all I think it was a good test to see where I’m at with everything. I’m not aiming for perfect, I’m aiming for the best I can. 

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Happy Birthday Jacko

This has been a super busy month with different sides of the family coming to Minnesota/North Dakota to visit. It started last weekend with my mom’s sister and her family that drove up from Arizona to visit. The last time we had seen her was the summer of 2014 so needless to say we were all very excited to spend time with them.

We had a lovely weekend at an apple orchard, Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store, Lantern Festival, and meals out all together. I tried to keep most oils to a minimum. I ate plain baked potatoes and steamed broccoli and only ordered one order of sweet potato fries throughout the weekend. We did end up eating at a Mexican restaurant one night and I was so unbelievably full that it ruined my night afterward. My sister and I agreed that next time we would share a meal because between the chips and salsa and beer/margaritas there is hardly room for a full meal on your own.

 

Chinese Lantern Festival in Canterbury Park. It was a little pricey to get it but was very cool to see. I enjoyed it a lot but you definitely need to go at night to get the full experience. 

These two sillies switched hats. I can’t believe how much this little loves all the people her in life. She is the biggest giver of love I have ever met. There isn’t anyone that she doesn’t fail to make feel special. 

My oldest niece and I. I was lucky enough to get to go to school and eat lunch with her. She is growing up so fast! Her talent is her brain. She is incredibly academic, focused, and intense and is the copycat version of her mother talent and skill wise but has all the confidence of her father. She will go far in life, I just know it.

Auntie Caroline and I at the apple orchard. What a fun day we had! Out of all of my parents/aunts/uncles I think I am most like her. It is a shame we don’t see enough of her but we always cherish the times when we do.

 

It was also a great weekend because we finally FINALLY got the go ahead that Jackson was free and cleared of recovery mode. He had full permission to run, twist, jump, play, and fetch. I invited my bff over with her dogs so that they could tire each other out. Funnily enough it was also Jackson’s birthday (or at least the day in which we choose to celebrate it). He is now 5 years old and officially passed us in “human years”. I hope his remaining years are free of pain and suffering unlike these last two that he’s had. I’m actually very thankful we were able to do this for him. He was there when we needed him most and now that M is doing so much better it was nice to repay (literally in money haha) that kindness for him. ❤ And now once life settles down a little bit here later in the fall we can go back to fostering dogs and finding him a potential brother or sister.

Brin, Red, and Jackson about to eat some birthday cake after playing all afternoon!

 

 

 

 

OvuSense

My PCOS journey got a big present this week with the arrival of my new OvuSense kit! But before I dig into that let me give you can update on all things period and PCOS in my life. As usual I just want to give you a heads up that this post will go into somewhat graphic detail on my period and PCOS symptoms, if that’s something you’d rather not hear about I suggest you skip this post. 🙂

At the beginning of the year I decided to go old school with period tracking and get a mini pocket calendar to write down all my symptoms and aunt flow days.

 I wanted to do it that way instead of an app for a few reasons. Many of the period tracker apps on my phone weren’t designed for women with PCOS and whether it was an app glitch, a user error, or just something wonky with my phone I had a hard time changing my actual period week from the predesignated one. It wound up keeping both periods  which obviously wasn’t right. Another issue I was having was how to track on the apps those extra long cycles I used to have. The ones that started spotty with dark brown blood and continued on for two weeks before I would get a “normal” red flow for a week to ten days followed by yet more brown gunk. I figured the best way to track all that would actually be to write it down in detail each day. I even came up with my own scale for lightness or heaviness of flow, the type of color, and the amount of clots. I was super lucky however that 2017 so far has been a great year of periods for me. I haven’t had any period or spotting lasting more than 8 days. That is some miracle in and of itself to me.

Just this past week I went back and recounted my cycle length days. I’m embarrassed to say I’m a 29 year old woman who still wasn’t entirely confident on how to count my days. I can blame PCOS though can’t I? 🙂 Just in case you weren’t sure either, day one starts on the first real red flow day of your period. Brown spotting before doesn’t count. The cycle lasts all the way up until the day before your next day one period day. Since going plant based on February 27th these are the periods that I’ve had:

Period 1 had a cycle length of 52 days

Period 2 had a cycle length of 49 days

Period 3 had a cycle length of 40 days

Period 4 had a cycle length of 45 days (this was the period I experienced those imaginary pregnancy symptoms and the one I was mad at for taking so long to come)

That brings us up to speed until Thursday evening. I went to the bathroom that evening and I wiped some dark brown gunk away. I was pretty confused and a bit angered by this. Since switching my diet to a plant based one (I’m about 70% whole food plant based and 30% oily vegan) I haven’t had any brown at the beginning of my period only for a few hours at the end of my period. Of course the wheels start spinning in my mind wondering what all this means. As a PCOS woman I know this has happened to me many times in the past and is considered “normal”. As a plant based woman with PCOS this brown stuff before a period hasn’t’ been normal to me. Was it a sign of how off track my diet has been for parts of August? But then another abnormality was present. This brown wipe was only 28 days since the start of my last period. Speaking in averages terms that’s 19 days sooner than usual. What is going on!? Of course like anyone who wants free medical advice would do, I jumped on Google. Good ol’ Google will give me some answers yes? Well according to the myriad of web pages and women online there were some possible answers. I could potentially be having implantation bleeding. (OMG cue the IPS again!), it could potentially just be the leftovers from last period that didn’t get cleared out last time (hello PCOS probs), the other reasons didn’t really seem to fit me like perimenopause for example. I of course rushed to the bathroom to take a pregnancy test which came back negative. I had pretty much assumed I wasn’t but there’s nothing like having that confirmed either way. It helps to move forward and figure out what actually is happening. Only time would tell. Friday more of the same. I had extremely light flow that was mostly brown in color. Saturday again a very light flow but more pink in color this time. Here we are Sunday morning and still the flow is the lightest I’ve ever had and color still seems off to me. Just when I think I’ve got my body figured out it mixes things up again!

I don’t know if I should be excited that this period came after only 29 days. Or if I should be concerned at how different this one is. I’m not even sure if I should consider this a period flow or just mid cycle spotting? Ah! Help!

Well help did arrive Friday afternoon in the form of my package from OvuSense. I am so extremely excited about this product. It is an internal core temperature monitor that sends data to it’s app and can tell you with 99% accuracy if you ovulate or not. It is also backed up and approved for use for women with PCOS! This is amazing! So many products like opk’s and fertility apps aren’t designed for women with PCOS. I purchased the vaginal sensor and a year long subscription to the app for about $225. (I used a coupon code…always use coupons people!) My excitement about this product was already high before I even took it out of the box.  The reviews and the private OvuSense facebook group for users has a lot of success stories from women who had been trying to conceive for literally years and years. I loved the idea of having the knowledge of a definitive yes or no on if I ovulate. The company seems wonderfully supportive and my purchase even came with a free one hour consultation with their fertility nurse after I’ve used the OvuSense for a few cycles.

Love how this product is packaged! So positive and hopeful!

Now you cannot use it during any spotting or bleeding so I haven’t been able to start using it yet. But even though this spotting/period that I’m having has me so confused about what is happening in my body I don’t care as much as I usually would because the answers will be coming soon.

I will keep you all updated on the OvuSense and what is going on with my body. I also heard of a new supplement to take to help with all kinds of PCOS symptoms but I don’t think I’m going to look into that unless the OvuSense says that I am not ovulating. I’m trying to take one thing at a time here.

Cracking The Whip

I’ll cut right to the chase. We’ve been a bit off track or maybe a lot off track. Too much eating out and too much processed junk. Unfortunately I can be easily swayed into not cooking and eating out. But luckily M has decided to crack the whip on food choices and he’s more of a once I’ve made my mind… kind of guy. So I love that he’s determined to keep us both on track right now. Here’s some pictures of the food we’ve been up to! Yum-my!

So confession…I ate at Ruby Tuesdays three days in a row the other week 😬 BUT it’s because I finally discovered a new way to enjoy big salads without my old ex beloved ranch. This compliant salad compiles of: mix baby greens, romaine, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, edamame, peas, dried cranberries, walnuts, almonds, salt and pepper, and the dressing is hummus with balsamic vinegar! And I realized I can make it myself at home and it tastes just as good!

This is M’s salad the he artfully arranged himself.
Finally tried my hand at a lentil loaf recipe and oh wow it’s so good. Which I’m super glad to know because we are making this for Thanksgiving this year instead of turkey (at least for us I think my dad may die if he doesn’t get Turkey).
I loved the mini potatoes and the zucchini chips. As much as I love green beans these didn’t turn out how I wanted but I still ate them.
Our favorite Mac and cheese with oven roasted Brussels sprouts.
Morning power plate- oil free sprouted ancient grain bread, organic all natural peanut butter (no added oils), bananas and blueberries.
This was so good! Sticky sesame cauliflower bites over Chinese style “fried” rice (not actually fried or made with butter/eggs/oil).

My Favorite Word, “Auntie”

We were fortunate enough to spend the past weekend with some of my family on a vacation in Iowa. It was a long drive but we made it there and back in one piece. We used my sisters time share to get a couple of apartment style rooms on a golf course in Panora, IA. (For the record she does not advise that you purchase time shares but since the deed is done we make the most of it!) The weather was perfect all weekend which always helps with kids so they aren’t couped up all the time. We had so much square footage that is was so nice to not be on top of each other for once. We had three kitchens and five bathrooms between the two apartments so that kind of space was darn near priceless. Typically the boys will go out golfing but as we were on the golf course the ladies got a chance to go out once as well. It was a blast. 

And of course I got spend time with five of my favorite people. Each of them are such fun, sassy, outgoing, and loving people. I’ll never get tired of them calling out to me or hugging my neck tight. Sweet Alice still has a limited vocabulary but spits out, “Auntie!” just fine. 🙂 There are pros and cons to being a younger sibling. You constantly feel behind at life and are always trying to catch up to where your older siblings are at. You 

Of course family time can be stressful too. Differences of opinions, different ways of doing things, different ideas on how to spend your vacation time…you get the idea. So with stress, time away from work, and long drives, what makes family time worth it? Simple. The memories made, the pictures taken, and the laughter in between it all. And the older my siblings and I get the harder it will start to be to get all together. 

Using The Wait Wisely

I had such a wonderful comment on a blog post the other day and it has really stuck with me. The waiting time of when you first wanted to get pregnant to the moment you actually do get pregnant is a wait time. You are waiting for it to happen. For some it is extremely short and for others it seems endlessly long. But no matter how much time passes between those moments it is a waiting game. And the question is how will you use that waiting period? How will you prepare and fill your time until the thing you want to happen, happens. And this can be true for many things in life. The wait time from the moment you decide you are ready to be in a relationship to the moment you are in one. The wait time between deciding you are ready to get married and the moment you get engaged. The moment when you decide what career you want and the time it takes to get to your dream position. The moment your relationship ends until the moment a new one begins. The moment you save that first dollar for a car or house until the moment you have enough money for the purchase. The moment you decide to adopt to the moment you first hold your child. All of these life events and more have a waiting period. How will you use that waiting time? Will you embrace it? Will you do something positive with it? Will you wait wisely?

I remember when M and I broke up for a period of about eight months. I remember being so focused on fixing things between us and getting back together that I didn’t use my wait time wisely. For many of us there are so few moments in life when you are on your own doing what you want whenever you want to do it. I wish that I had focused more on myself and done things that I wanted to do solely because I wanted to do it. Spent money on myself however I wanted without being held accountable to a partner, up and left on a trip with no responsibilities to tend to, and heck something as simple as eating at whichever restaurant I wanted to. That lesson of waiting wisely now has always stayed with me. Because one day the wait will be over and then you are left sometimes wishing you had used that time more wisely. 

We have a few things we’ve focused on as we wait. Health and wellness have been a big focus for us. We want our children to grow into healthy happy people and the biggest way we think to do that is through example. We also want to travel and spend as much time with family and friends as possible because one day it won’t be as easy to just jump in the car and go. The kids won’t be able to stay in their car seat very long without screaming and crying and soccer schedules and bible camp will all get in the way. We also try to spend quality time together just the two of us playing cards and board games, walking to the brewery, driving to state parks in the evening, and taking weekend naps with pets. One day we will be too tired and too busy to do it often. 

It may seem like that moment you’re waiting for will never come but if you want it bad enough it will. I’m so looking forward to that moment in the future where M and I look at each other and say, “remember when we didn’t have kids?…yeah what was that like?” And until we get there I’m going to enjoy the here and now. 


So how will you use your wait time?

Friday Blues

Thankfully my period came today so I can once and for all confirm that I’m not pregnant. I had a stern talking to him (I think it’s funny to call my period a him) and told him I wouldn’t put up with that crap anymore and that I was very worried why he was 12 days later than I had expected and that basically next time it was come on time or don’t come at all! He seemed to be red with shame.

You would think that now I’d be able to move forward and get on like business as usual but that was not the case today. Today I learned of my next door neighbor’s son’s passing away. He was in his mid forties and died suddenly from some virus that sent him into sepsis which he was unable to recover from. The scene next door has been hard to ignore since we’ve had such nice weather we’ve been keeping the house open for a nice cool breeze. Their house has been full with his family gathering to mourn his sudden loss. To witness such heartache right next door is like a reality show gone wrong. Their grief is powerful and contagious in the sense that you never know what happens in life and that every moment is truly precious. It reminds me of when my sister and her family were in a head on collision with a semi on their way back home from M and I’s wedding. They all managed to escape with little to no injury but at times like these I often think back to how it could have ended so much more tragically and how thankful I am. Try not to forget to be thankful and grateful for every moment with loved ones.


With Mr. Period curled up inside me making himself nice and comfy in my uterus and with the sadness next door on top of my frustration of how my day went (computer issues…don’t get me started!) I didn’t want to go to the grocery store to get the supplies I needed for the supper I had planned. Instead I wanted my favorite meal from the vegan restaurant with a side of heaping french fries. The only reason I was able to talk myself out of that idea was to tell myself, “why would you spend money on food when you have a freezer full of heat and eat meals, sorry can’t validate your wants today.” I’m mad at myself about it haha but actually very thankful that I will stay on track with another day of oil-free under my belt! Four days in and feeling good about that.

M is on his way home and we will have our favorite mac and cheeze for supper before heading out to “the pits” which is some kind of water hole area that M goes diving in. We are going to take the new truck and enjoy the gorgeous weather and outside time together. I’m sure that is just the pick-me-up that I need.

Have a safe and good weekend everyone.