Saturday, February 4, 2017

Happy Lunar New Year

Happy lunar new year!  That moon has been absolutely amazing to watch.  I lovely moment of being completely present staring at the wondrous site of it's glow.  Today I am bundled up and trying to stay warm amidst a snow storm.  I have hit a bit of a bumpy patch, and it seems the one year mark has shifted the grief although it certainly remains present.  I have been thinking about the milestones we have missed out on, as well as the bigger picture of a continued generation and family line.

I am feeling frustrated and exhausted from pretending to be okay and I am not sure how much longer I can do it.  I had a knock your breath out of you moment a few days ago. The first time since my loss that someone asked me if I have kids.  I said no and was then asked if I want to have them (I could go for hours about why you should NEVER ask someone that but will leave that for another day).  I replied by saying I have a little girl in heaven and that doesn't appear to be part of my path.  I know it's a natural question people ask, but I wish it wasn't.  I personally prefer to ask people I meet to tell me about their family so I don't ask if the person has kids.  I wish people had more awareness of what a loaded question that can be.  And why on earth would someone think it's okay to ask someone if they want kids?  Really?  We cross paths with so many people every day and we have no idea about the trauma people carry.  Seemingly simple questions can hurt so much.

I have been getting out for walks more often and spending more time out in nature, which I am enjoying and appreciating.  I love the Cowichan Valley where we live, and there are so many amazing trail systems and hikes.  My sweetie and I are trying to explore a new trail system each weekend we are home.  The snow has us pretty home based this weekend, but also gives me some time to research different trails to check out.

I have been spending more time in the kitchen which has been good.  I have been dedicating Sunday to food prep for the work week, which has been very helpful!  I made fish tacos with fresh snapper.  I pan fried the snapper fillets with a little lemon juice, and broke the snapper fillets up into chunks, checked it over and pulled out the bones, then added homemade taco seasoning.  I warmed wrap shells and layered them with fish, blackbean & corn salsa (with lime juice & fresh cilantro) cashew cream, homemade  guacamole, and pea shots.

We had blackbean and corn salsa, tomato, and cashew cream leftover, so we had taco pizza. I got a pre-made pizza crust and slathered it with Amy's Organic Refried Beans, I spread a layer of blackbean and corn salsa, and some white cheddar, I popped it in the oven at 425 for 10 minutes. 

 I cut it into slices and once on a plate drizzled it with cashew cream, lettuce, avocado, green onion (and tomato on my sweeties).  This is one of my fav pizzas!  It is kind of messy so we eat it with a knife and a fork, but soooo good!

I found this recipe for Honey Garlic Baked Pork Bites on Pinterest, which I made in my dutch oven.  They were very tasty and I will make them again for sure!  I can see doing a ginger orange spin on these in the future.

Another Pinterest recipe we enjoyed is this Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara.  I chose this because I am still trying to limit my dairy intake.  I seared some scallops in butter, a splash of cooking wine, sea salt & pepper.

Grief can be a burden, but it can also be an anchor. You get used the the weight, how it holds you in place ~ Sara Dessen

Saturday, January 21, 2017

One year

Today marks one year since saying goodbye to our Amethyst Emerson.  It marks one year of survival through the absolute darkest time of my life.  I have learned a lot about how I want to be when someone I care about is grieving.  I will be the person that can sit in it with them.  I have learned that a simple quiet presence is the most valuable gift you can give those grieving.  I have learned that when you can be with those who give you space to be your authentic self that is precious and rare, especially when you are grieving.

I am here, we are here, stronger.  It often feels like it is anything but strength, but I know it is.  I have had my core values shaken, but I am still standing.  It has been so hard to not be my authentic self with others on a daily basis.  I'm so tired of I'm fine and changing the subject, because people don't want the continual negativity.  You can see their discomfort and uncertainty about what to say.  We are a society that avoids pain and discomfort and we don't want to be reminded of the struggles life can give us.  It's okay so say that sucks and acknowledge the pain.  It's okay to simply say you are in my thoughts.  I am stronger because I have sat in the pain, listened to it, felt it to the core of my being, watched it evolve and shift.  It is exhausting and my heart is so tired, but I am still here.

 I have delved into the exploration of hanging on and letting go, to the brink of an existential crisis.  I still don't have the answers, and often think it will take my lifetime to work through the exploration, even then I may not have figured out what it means to me.

Part of me is so afraid to not hang on because she taught me so much, and I feel this need to honour and recognize her short time and it's deep impact.  I have learned so much about myself, about my close relationships, and about other people.  As the world has moved on all around me I feel as I continue to walk this journey I am walking with a huge part of me missing like a giant hole in my heart.  You do not see it but it is there.  I have grieved this loss like no other loss, and I am forever changed.

For the rest of my life I will mark time as before and after the loss of Amy.  I will wonder what she would have looked like. Would she have had my eyes or my husbands smile?  What would she have been like? Would she have my husband's outgoing nature and wicked sense of humour, or be a quiet introvert like me?  Or would she break the mold and bring forth new traits.   So many questions we will ever have the answers to...

It's such a quiet struggle.  You know others go through it but no one really talks about it.  You know every day someone is thinking about how old their child would have been or a milestone they would be crossing.  We have no idea what people are carrying with them in their quiet minds.

Unless you have walked the road of the fertility struggle, you cannot comprehend the journey.  There are no guarantees that things will work out in the end, and there is nothing worse than when people say or imply that is the case.  I have people in my life who wanted nothing more than to be parents and are not.  That is just reality.  For myself and many people like me, we are grieving more than the loss of a child which is hard enough on its own.  We also grieve that we may never know what it is like to hold our child and witness the wonder of their growth. 

I know life often doesn't work out the way we hope or plan, and I also know it can't rain all the time.  But seriously I'm about ready for the rain to stop because I don't yet have it in me to dance in the rain.  I think I have managed to pull out the umbrella and keep going, but no dancing here.

I look forward to the day I can be my authentic self again and shed the mask.  In the meantime I will carry Amy in my heart and give thanks for knowing her however brief.  Over time my heart will pull the pieces back together, and hopefully until then the cracks and breaks will allow the light to come back in.  And in the meantime I will gently move forward.

The reality is that you will grieve forever.  You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it.  You will heal and rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.  You will be whole again but, you will never be the same.  Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & John Kessler

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hello 2017

I don't want to come across as unappreciative or hopeless, and at the same time this past year has taken me to a level of comfort with the darkness I never realized I could be comfortable in.  There is learning in that too.   It has been nearly a year since we said goodbye to our Amethyst Emerson and I am forever changed.  There is life before her and life after her; she is the great marker of my life thus far.  Having her even for the short period of time we did was a shifting point for me. 

Even with great reflection I cannot put my finger on when the darkness became normalized.  I have been sitting in the dark, and enjoying the moments of light. 

To say the past year has been challenging really doesn't totally capture it.  I am trying to let go of the all consuming sadness and focus on hope for the future but it is a slow moving transition let me tell you, and some days are much better than others.  I try to focus on the gratitude I have for the people, things, and privilege in my life.  This is something I work at every day, and hope that in time it will become a more natural default.  Kind of like when you learn how to drive a standard car and at first you are so aware of when and how you are shifting gears, but then one day it just becomes natural and you don't even realize it.
The glimpses I get of my old self I am usually connecting with nature, the trees, the birds, listening to the sound of the water.  It's those moments when I am totally present in the quiet of the natural world, and not pretending to be anything other than what I am at that moment.  I haven;t had a lot of time outdoors lately with the cold temperatures, but enjoy the moments when I do.  It's the simple things like sitting with a cup of tea and watching the snow fall, appreciating it's gentle beauty.

I had a couple of moments ths week with birds.  Earlier in the week it was this eagle.  I got about 20-25 feet away from this beauty and it was awesome!

I was filling up the hummingbird feeder this afternoon while it was snowing and had a visit from little back yard friend.  I think this hummingbird is very happy we have been providing food over the winter.

Speaking of food.... It has been over a month since I reintroduced wheat and dairy back into my diet.  I am still being very mindful of how much I am consuming, and still no pain.  Yahoo!  I would say this means I am doing a good job of reintroducing and not overdoing it.  So I will keep it up:)

The food I missed the most while on my wheat free dairy restrictions was Mexican inspired food.  I love tortillas and have found the rice ones just don't cut it!  I got some tomato basil wraps form the store and we had burritos.  I sauteed 1/2 of an onion and added a generous portion of cremini mushrooms, then added ground chicken.  Once cooked through I added taco seasoning and some water.

I make a batch of taco seasoning and keep it in the pantry.  I mix: 6 Tbsp chili powder, 4 tsp cumin, 3 tsp paprika, 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.  I cannot remember where I found this recipe, but I am very happy with it & often make a double batch when we are eating Mexican inspired fare more often.

I laid out the ingredients including romaine lettuce, chopped tomato, grated aged white cheddar, cashew cream (which we happen to prefer over sour cream), guacamole, and salsa. 

DIY burrito!  I worked in the food service industry as a teen so I like to tease my sweetie who can't roll a wrap without everything falling out to save his life!

The other thing I really missed is quesadillas.  I like these which are a spin on the smashed blackbean and yam quesadillas from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. I steam chunks of yam & when cooked through mash them and mix in chili powder, cumin, salt & pepper.  Then I spread it out with a fork on half of the tortilla wrap.

I add a layer of my black bean & corn salsa, which is equal parts blackbeans & corn, lime juice, cilantro, salt & pepper.  I often add red onion as well if I have it on hand.

Then a light layer of cheese, just enough to help it stick to the tortilla.

Fold over the other half of the tortilla wrap and place in a hot frying pan. Keep your eye on it & when it has browned flip it over.

Cut into 3-4 segments and enjoy!  We serve cashew cream, guacamole, and salsa on the side.

For the first couple of days of lunches I made quinoa bowls.  I started with a layer of cooked quinoa.  I cut up the yam at the same time I prepared the yam for the quesadillas, but instead of steaming them these were tossed in olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted in the oven at 400 degrees until tender.  I used the left over black bean & corn salsa, put a handful of tomatoes in my sweeties and a serving of pulled pork in barbecue sauce.  I had cooked the pulled pork in the slow cooker during the day.   The lime is to squeeze on just before eating, along with sliced avocado, green onion, and fresh cilantro which I put in a separate container. I will make this again for sure!

One of our plans for the new year is to get back to having a smoothie once a day.  This week I made the same smoothie every day because it's pretty tasty! 2 handfuls of spinach, half a handful of cilantro, half a frozen banana, 8 chunks of frozen pineapple, 1 carrot, a chunk of fresh ginger, a splash of pineapple juice or mango juice, some orange juice, and a little water. I often make my lunches and smoothies the night before because getting out the door in the morning is always a struggle when you are not a morning person.

Carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. ~Martin Luther King Jr

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wrapping up 2016

Oh 2016, I will be glad when you are over and with every ounce of energy and hope within me believe 2017 must hold better times to come.  I was feeling a sense of dread about the holiday season, with the gaping hole Amy has left in our lives in what would have been her first Christmas.  We had pretty low expectations for the holidays and didn't even bother getting a tree this year.  I left the holiday weekend feeling overwhelmed for a reason different then I expected.  I am feeling grateful that it was actually the best Christmas we have had in some time. 

We spent the holidays with my family as my sweetie's family is in Oz soaking up a very hot Christmas.  Christmas Eve was a turkey dinner at my dad's with my dad, his spouse, my brother, his wife, my nephews, my grandma, and my sweetie.  We ate a very yummy turkey dinner cooked by my dad along with pumpkin pie for dessert and a plethora of baked goods from my dad, grandma, & myself.  Christmas Day we spent at the care facility my mom lives in with my mom, my grandpa, and my sweetie, enjoying Chinese food for dinner.  After spending the day with my family, my sweetie and I went to the movies and watched Rogue One which was awesome! This year we agreed no presents with the exception of my nephews.  I found this really helped the focus of the holiday season on being with family and eating delicious food.  Speaking of food there was a lot of it!

I took the week off before Christmas and spent the entire week baking.  Here are the links to those tasty treats:

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints which I added chopped sliced almond to garnish.  This are in the top 3 favs for me, and they are so pretty.

Snickerdoodles I always get great feedback on these soft chewy cookies.

Church Window Bars This ones make me feel like I am a kid again!

Whipped Shortbread This one didn't dazzle me, and I am unlikely to make it again.

Chocolate Crinkles which are always a popular and appreciated treat. 

Peanut Butter Cookies which I added chocolate chips to.  I made these in my last blog post.

Glazed Cranberry Orange Cookies I used frozen cranberries which I cut in half and walnuts instead of pecans.  This are my sweeties favourite!  They also make my top 3 favs.

Lime-Glazed Coconut Butter Cookies These are my favs! I love the tang of the lime and texture of the coconut.

For the first time, I gave making nuts and bolts a try.  I made a double batch and made a few adjustments to the cereal/snack ingredients rather than just cheerios, shredded wheat, pretzels, and peanuts; My double batch totaled 14 cups by what we prefer including Cheerios, Shreddies, Rice Chex, pretzel sticks, Goldfish crackers, and Bugles.  I made 2 double batches and a single batch.

When I was a kid my Dad made us waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast on Christmas day.  This year we went there for boxing day and had that same yummy breakfast.

So I am grateful 2016 is coming to an end and going in to 2017 with my heart full as my sweetie and I celebrate 15 years together.  The trials & tribulations, the moments of growth, and above all else the fact that we have made it through some very dark times and have come out of it together and stronger.

Christmas comes during a season when the Earth is in its darkest time.  It's a holiday for the family and for everyone~ Melissa Etheridge

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Holidays are Here

Well today we finally broke down and did some very minimal decorating for Christmas.  We live in a rather large townhouse complex and were pretty much the only ones with no lights. None. Nothing. Notta.  Usually lights is the first sign of the holiday season around here.  Yesterday my husband decided we should participate in the activities of the rest of the world around us and he put up lights.  They look lovely.  Tonight, I sat on the couch looking at them shine and reflect on the snow and overwhelming sadness came over me, this was supposed to be Amy's first Christmas.

This time last year we were preparing to announce to our close friends that we were expecting as we were nearing the end of the first trimester.  This smile on my face one year ago, hasn't returned...  I even miss the constant nausea and vomiting because it was a reminder she was there.

We had sent out our little announcement to our family & close friends just before Christmas, but she was the gift we never got to receive.

So my expectations are low for the holidays this year, and I am really trying to be gentle with myself as my emotions fluctuate.  This sucks.  I've never been a big Christmas person, but this year I have absolutely zero energy for it.  I could go through the motions and put up a tree, but that's all it would be going through the motions.  There would be no ounce of authenticity to it, and I refuse to be less authentic then I already feel with the fake smile and the I'm fine thanks how are you?  

Here's the thing I am taking enjoyment in this Christmas that I couldn't enjoy last year, eggnog with rum and a sprinkling of nutmeg and cinnamon!  During the Christmas holidays I LOVE a little rum & eggnog:)

I managed to ease into reintroducing dairy and wheat into my diet.  I have stuck to using wheat that is less processed & find that doesn't hurt my stomach.  I have wheat from Pride of the Valley, which is a Doukhobor flour mill in Grand Forks, BC.  It's awesome flour!  It  doesn't have a lot of preservatives so we keep it in the freezer.  I am also planning on picking up some Portofino bread because in the past it hasn't bothered me.  I have also reintroduced yogurt, milk in my tea, and some cheese such as feta and swiss.  I need to be cautious with the cheese because that is my weakness.  So far I am listening to my body and it's not hurting so I am going with it.  The eggnog will be a nightly ritual until Christmas... unless my body decides otherwise.

We have cooked nearly every night the past couple of weeks, which is pretty impressive.  No bowls of cereal for dinner for 2 weeks!  Here are some of the things we have been eating the past few weeks. My sweetie put a whole chicken in the crock-pot before heading out for the day.  When I got home I made some mashed potatoes & steam some pees, carrots and brussel sprouts,  My sweetie made the gravy with the juice from the crock-pot.  Super quick, easy, and delicious.  And leftovers, yes please!

For one night of leftovers I used some leftover gravy and sliced chicken, and served it open face on a slice of gluten free bread.  I didn't even bother with vegetables. I'm imperfect and I'll own it;)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, YUM! These were the best peanut butter cookies I have ever made!  I used crunchy peanut butter and added dark chocolate chips. Comfort food heaven...

I also made a mushroom, feta, spinach quiche with a sweet potato crust.  I use a mandolin to slice the sweet potato (yam works great as well) into rounds.  I spray the pie plate with cooking oil and then line it with the rounds until the pie plate is covered.  I then bake at 375, checking it after 20 mins, until the potatoes start to brown.  I fry up a mixture of mushrooms whatever I feel like at the time usually crimini and baby portobello).  Sprinkle some feta cheese and top with cooked or drained frozen spinach.  I then mix together about 5-6 eggs and some almond milk.  I bake at 375 until cooked through.

I also made my Vegan Chili for work lunches.
I love it when I have time to devote part of my Sunday to meal prep for the week.  I usually make a dinner that will have leftovers for Monday, or something I can prep Sunday and cook Monday night, as well as do prep for our work lunches for the week.

I am feeling the call back to my yoga mat.  I have been feeling the call for a while, but have been lacking the effort to follow through.  I think this week I will ease back into it with some practice at home.  I am on holidays starting next week so maybe I will go to a class or two next week.  It's kind of funny how you can know you need something, and it will make you feel better , and yet you don't do it...

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. ~ Maya Angelou