Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Birth Research

I've started doing my research for birthing methods, but I still can't find enough information to feel informed. Anyone have any recommended reading?

Friday, December 10, 2010


Brian and I are officially settled in Colorado Springs. In August Brian signed on full time with Aspen Technologies, the company he's been temping with for about a year. He's enjoying the work and the fast pace they have there.

In August we also expanded our little family to three :) Baby Ramsey will make his or her debut May 25 2011. We would love suggestions for names if you have any. The first trimester was a little rough with constant nausea and fatigue, but I'm at 15 weeks and finally feeling good again. Everyone's been asking for pregnancy pictures but there's not a lot to see yet.

I'm working as a temp until the baby comes or until I get too pregnant to go to work. I'm on my second assignment in 3 months as an apartment leasing agent. This is the first time I've worked a 40 hour week since Brian and I married. In a lot of ways it's fun because we come home tired at the end of the day and feel like a team. In a lot of other ways it's draining because the laundry never gets done and my house isn't quite as clean as it used to be.

Aside from my growing laundry pile and dirty floors, it's a very rich season of life for us. I could say a lot more by way of updating, but I'd better run. I'll write again soon!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Apple

This weekend Brian and I went to Happy Apple Orchard. I'm sure a lot of people would have considered it too hot for apple picking, but we had a great time. The Gala and Jonathan apples were the only ones ready, so we got Gala for snacks and Jonathan for baking. 
We rode on a trailer to the middle of the orchard where the tractor driver, in all seriousness, gave us our "snake instructions." If we saw a rattler we were supposed to tell him right away. If we saw a bull snake we shouldn't do anything- they're nice snakes. His speech was very comforting as we set out into the tall grass to collect our apples. 

It was my first time at a real orchard, but it reminded me a lot of childhood. Walking around in tall grass eating fruit right off the tree. 
I made an apple crisp after recovering from my heatstroke. It was light and simple and so perfect. Except that it could have used a little more butter, but other than that, so perfect. 

Apple Crisp
4 c. thinly sliced Jonathan apples
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. oats
6 T soft butter
a hefty dose of cinnamon
1/2 c. raw sugar

Grease pie pan and fill with apples. Blend other ingredients, spread atop apples and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Things I Read This Week

Here are some things I read this week that I think are worth passing along:

Pray with Perspective from TheResurgence
This was particularly helpful this week because my prayers have been filled with "I," "me," "my," "us," ad nauseum. 
Jesus knows our frame. He knows we generally don’t need to see our sin as the first item on the agenda at every meeting with God. Better in fact to get our eyes altogether off of ourselves. That way we gain perspective and hope. 
As I mediated on that I realized the moments this week that I've had godly hope were the ones where I took my eyes off my sin, Brian's sin, our problems and put them on the God who is, and is good. 

EARLY Will I Seek You from Candice Watters at Family Making
In Colorado, rising before the sun often brings the benefit of actually seeing the "purple mountains majesty." But that stunning view of Pike's Peak alone isn't enough to wake me. It's what happens when I miss that window that motivates me to roll out of bed.
8 Snares Set by Fear of Man from TheResurgence
When we’re overly concerned with “getting it right,” we turn people into projects to accomplish. We withhold our compassion and grow reserved and calculating in our pursuit of people.
I so wish this did not resonate with me. But it did, and in some way so did the other seven you can read in the original post.

Is it OK for Moms to have jobs Outside the Home? from John Piper at Desiring God
Mothering and homemaking are huge and glorious jobs. What children need at age one, five, six, fourteen, eighteen is simply amazing, and so is what those needs call forth from a woman's creativity and heart and mind, personally for each one of these little ones that are coming along.
I loved John Piper's focus as he answered this question. It was refreshing to hear him talking about the needs of children and the creativity of women to meet those needs rather than just talking gender roles.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Think of Israel

This morning was a low morning for me. After a relatively peaceful hour of drinking coffee and praying with Brian, spending time with the Lord and eating breakfast I was absolutely overcome with anxiety about the uncertainty of our future. Brian suggested that I return to the kitchen table to read and pray some more -- to find peace he said. I hate being told to do the right thing when I just want to wallow in anxiety and self-pity. And Brian telling me to go and find peace reminded me a lot of when my friend Candice tells her 3 year old to go upstairs and find his smile. 

So I kind of did that, but ended up back in bed with the covers over my head. (Which is what I imagine my 3 year old friend does too before he finds his smile.) Brian found me there and said, "Sweetie, I want you to think about the Nation of Israel..." I immediately burst into tears, "WE ARE IN THE WILDERNESS ... sob, sob... WANDERING AROUND INDEFINITELY... sob ..."

"No, actually I was thinking about Caleb and Joshua and how they went into the promised land to spy it out and came back saying that God was plenty big to deliver it into their hands. Let's be like Caleb and Joshua, let's trust that God is good and big enough to provide for us, to deliver a promised land to us."

"sniff...  sniff ... Caleb and Joshua ... okay."

"I really think that's what would please God in this season of waiting, that we would trust Him and not see the circumstances as too big."

And while I can't really identify with Caleb and Joshua because I don't believe that God has yet shown us where He's taking us, I do believe Brian is right. It would please God for me to Trust Him for our future, however uncertain it may be.

Over the past six months I've had to stop trusting God for the big engineering job for Brian and a big house for us to fill up with little Ramseys. And I've had to begin trusting that He and His provision for us, whatever that will be, will be enough. God does not owe me stability. I don't have a right to an American dream-ish life and thank God, because the Life He offers is so much better. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

No one really likes talking about digestion. It's yucky and a little too much information for most people. If it's TMI for you, you should navigate away from this page right now. However if you or someone you love have digestive issues, you should read on. Because more than likely your regular doctor will not be able to help you.

In my update the other week I forgot to mention huge part of the past six months: IBS. After months of severe abdominal pain and misery and refusing to see a doctor, Brian pulled his Husband Card and scheduled a doctor's appointment for me. After the tests came back finding a blockage in my digestive system but nothing to attribute the blockage to, the doctor concluded that I had IBS. There's no way to determine someone has IBS except to rule out every other option. My insurance agent put it this way, "IBS means "We don't know what the h--- is wrong with you." And that's why I love my insurance guy- he tells it how it is.

My doctor gave me a prescription for bi-polar medicine, saying that it would release serotonin in my digestive tract and relieve the pain. [I could go on a rant here about why I hate Western medical philosophy (a.k.a treating the symptoms NOT the actual problem,) but I'll spare you.] He also prescribed a two week treatment of laxatives ending with an all-day magnesium citrate cleanse. I did took the laxatives, did the cleanse, but did not take the meds.

I don't have anything against bi-polar medicine- IF YOU HAVE BI-POLAR DISORDER that is. But seeing as how I have IBS, I didn't see the logic. I took years and years of antibiotics and eventually acutane for acne and I believe without a doubt that is what caused IBS. IBS, as I understand it, is essentially an imbalance of chemistry and lack of good bacteria in the digestive tract that could be caused by a number of things, but in my case antibiotics.

After the cleanse I felt pretty good ... for about a day. And then all the pain and unpleasant side-effects came back. After some research and talking to other IBS patients I realized this is all too often the case when you see a general practitioner for gastro-intestinal issues. Finally, after much more research, many tears and almost giving up, I found, through a friend of a friend of a friend an online treatment that seemed legit. Two ladies in town had done the treatment and were IBS symptom free, so Brian and I read through the thirty-something page document and prayed about the possibility of doing the treatment. I wanted to wait a few months till we were in our own place and had full-time jobs but Brian wanted to start the treatment immediately. So again, like with going to the doctor, Brian got his way.

This treatment is a multi-faceted approach (including a restricted diet and supplements) that re-populates good bacteria in your digestive tract as well as healing what is known as "leaky gut" syndrome (the cause for IBS related food allergies). I know I'm explaining some things and not others, so if you're interested in the explanations check out this article and it will explain everything better than I can.

I want to sum up what changes I've had to make for this treatment:

The Diet
There are 3 Big, No Cheating Under Any Circumstance rules of the treatment.
  1. No diary. That means no milk, no cheese, no yogurt, no ice cream. It means reading EVERY label of any processed food to see if it contains milk, milk solids, lactose or whey.
  2. No legumes. No beans, chickpeas, no peanuts, no soy, no legumes of any kind.
  3. a)When you drink. Drinking water during a meal dilutes hydrochloric acid (an enzyme that breaks down your food) in your stomach and makes digestion even more difficult. Because digestion is already hard for me, I cannot drink water during a meal or for an hour afterward or else the dilution of hydrochloric acid would make it even more difficult. b)When you eat fruit. Fresh fruit spoils quickly. To make sure it digests quickly I have to eat it alone or before a meal. If you eat fruit by itself, your digestive system will recognize fruit in the stomach and sweep it to the small intestine for quick digestion. But it you eat fruit with some other food everything in your stomach will pass first through the large intestine, giving the fruit enough time to spoil.
You may asking, "so when./what do you eat/drink?" That's exactly what I asked when I started this treatment. I was frustrated that almost every staple of my diet (peanut butter, chick peas, beans, fruit with grains, yogurt for smoothies, etc.) were eliminated. Not to mention the worst of all, that I couldn't drink half&half in my coffee. Can you say Horror of all Horrors?

But I was committed, so I substituted almond butter for peanut butter, and almond milk for cream or milk, and coconut milk for yogurt in recipes. The first couple weeks I was always hungry because I never knew what to eat. I just paced the kitchen lamenting my lack of options. But in the weeks since I've completely adjusted to the restrictions and now I can cook just as creatively as before.

Brian has been one of the biggest reasons I've been able to stay the course for two months on such a strict diet. He started out eating only the things I could eat. Now that I'm used to the diet I encourage him to have icecream or peanut butter if we are out or at some else's house. But he's always willing to pass if he's offered something I can't have. And while I'm talking about Brian I just want to point out that earlier when I referred to him getting his way about me going to the doctor and starting the treatment, that I am so thankful that he is willing to fight for me when I'm not willing to fight for myself.
The Supplements
The other part of the treatment are the supplements. I take 5 different supplements (about 12 pills) every day. In the morning and evening I take probitics for both the large and small intestine. With each meal I take a pancreatic enzyme and hydrochloric acid. And with lunch and dinner I also take an herbal GI support supplement. And lastly, twice a day I drink a mix of rice protein powder (that smells like horse feed).

I'll be on this diet and treatment for another month. After that I'll keep with the no-dairy and probitoics, but everything else will probably go back to normal. And let me say, that I'm not necessarily recommending my treatment. I'm not a doctor or an expert, but I have seen amazing success and I want to pass that on.

That's my IBS story and if it helps anyone at all, it will be worth all this typing. The stats say that 1 out of 3 women have IBS. And I believe it. I've been shocked as I tell people I have IBS that many of them, who otherwise would have never told me, say that they have IBS too.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fruitful Discipline

A good friend and mentor sat me down some months ago and challenged me with the following phrase.

"Seek fruitfulness, and train yourself in body, mind, and spirit."

His words have caused ripples in my pursuits since then, effecting my daily disciplines, my work, my job-search, and my marriage.  You know what else has been changed?  My physical fitness.  I've taken his admonition seriously, and I thought by sharing my thoughts and actions with these things that you, our friends and family, might benefit.

In Galatians, Paul writes of the fruits of the Spirit.  These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  In contrast to the Spiritual gifts (prophecy, teaching, tongues, healing, etc.), which are apportioned differently to each person,  believers will all be growing in each of the fruits of the Spirit if aligning themselves in their understanding of scripture, their obedience to it, and their openness to repentance and knowing God moment by moment.  What does this mean?  A person in any circumstance, if desiring to grow in these fruits and walking in accordance to God's known will, ought to be growing up "to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).

For me, this has meant taking my part-time work, my full-time job-search, my purity, my friendships, my marriage, my physical fitness, and my reading/studying of the Bible more seriously.  I think Ashley would agree with me that I have grown in these things, not without flaws of course.

Training (Discipline)
One of the greatest resources I've looked to for growth is a book called "Disciplines of a Godly Man" by R. Kent Hughes.  This book is a collection of insightful, practical, and purpose-filled words regarding growth in all kinds of ways.  From the discipline of purity to the discipline of ministry, he lays out what scripture clearly calls us to as men of God.  The verse drawn on throughout the book is Paul's straight-forward call to Timothy,

"... train (discipline) yourself to be godly." (1 Timothy 4:7)

What has been most challenging to me?  Probably physical fitness.  My friend Jason and I have been working out at the YMCA pretty consistently multiple times a week for a few months.  I'm sure my doctor would be pleased!

A Little Sweat
I encourage you to take a look at your own life and circumstances and ask the questions,

"What am I weak in?  How could I be growing?  Am I going to do it?"

I'm thankful to my friend and mentor for challenging me with these words.  Putting a little sweat into reading books intentionally for growth, seeking better relationships, and walking closer with God has eternal value.

May God bless you!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

10 Months!

I've never been one for month anniversaries. I've always thought they were kind of silly to be honest. Mostly because the very word describes a yearly remembrance. Wikipedia defines it as, "(from the Latin anniversarius, from the words for year and to turn, meaning returning yearly.

From the first month Brian has at least acknowledged our month anniversaries. And even with all my skepticism, who could scorn that? I thought it was incredibly thoughtful until about 5 months ago when I found out that his twin sister texted him on the first of every month and wished him happy anniversary. Thanks Michelle ;)

But even on the months she doesn't text him, he still remembers and sometimes even does something a little special like picking up a bottle of wine on his way home. I know what some of you are thinking, "Newlyweds." And I'm sure it's true, but I'm still going to enjoy it. 

Tonight when I got home Brian kept commenting on how great my parsley looked. He's not the gardening type, so after a minute or two I poked my head outside and there were three friends for my parsley plant: Oregano, basil and chives. 
I'm headin' up to the Walmart first thing in the morning for potting soil. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day folks. I kicked off my national holiday at Target for new team member orientation. Brian took my picture this morning in my Target red shirt (Beside me is my new Parsley plant. Isn't it sweet?)
The HR rep that did my training was awesome. I could tell that she genuinely liked working at Target. And the typical cheesy training videos weren't that bad. I actually learned a lot. Target has a customer service motto of "Fast, Fun and Friendly." And as I walked through the store and met other team members I got the feeling that was really true of the culture of this particular store. 

After work we went to Vic and Sandy's to BBQ with the fam and our friend Alex came along. 
As we finished up burgers and brawts Brian read a excerpt about the history of Memorial Day. It was very appropriate and moving to stop in the midst of festivities and reflect on the reason for the holiday- the service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I'm back from my blog sabbatical

It's been a while, I know. And to be honest I feel a little sheepish writing after so long. So much has changed since I last wrote here. Let me try and sum up quickly:

Brian was job searching and we were pretty sure he would get an engineering job before our lease ran out. At the end of January we put 95% of our possessions in storage (yes, I parted with my dishes and pots, and pans. It wasn't without tears) and we moved to the Springs to live with Brian's folks while we continued to job search.

February, March and April
We started February with a long awaited trip to Tennessee. For a week and a half Mom and I did the two things we do best: shop and eat. Meanwhile Brian dutifully job searched and met with contacts in town. After our trip South, we settled into Brian's parent's basement. Brian started working part-time at Aspen technologies and I suffered rejection at the hands of Eddie Bauer, Origins and WholeFoods. So in March I employed myself to read the entire Harry Potter series. I also tried to steward my time and few resources well by babysitting for busy moms I know and being useful around Brian's folks'. Brian had a lot of great interviews in March and in April we found out that while his interviewers agreed he was great, he was not chosen for those jobs. The end of April was a real low point for us. We never thought we would be in the Springs for three months and after so long we were back at square one.

Job searching is not something Brian does half-heartedly. It is a job in itself. It's a rare day when Brian doesn't put in a full eight hours either at Aspen or at Starbucks filling out job applications. Words cannot convey the admiration I have for how hard Brian has worked these past five months. So you can imagine how disheartening it was that this season of working in the waiting was not over.

In May we realized that our hopes of moving straight from Brian's parent's to our new place with a new job in a new city might not happen as quickly as we thought. And I (after having finished my Harry Potter stint a couple weeks prior) decided to job search again. I landed a job at Target and we then had the income to move out and get a place of our own here in the Springs (with no lease just in case we need to move quickly for a job for Brian).

So we are settled comfortably in our new apartment for the third day. Brian had a job interview in Denver on Friday. And I have my first day of orientation at Target tomorrow.

A lot of people are going through much harder things than we have these past five months. I'm under no illusion that being unemployed and temporarily displaced is the worst of fates. But compared to the rest of my fairly comfortable life, these have been trying months. I'm thankful that while circumstances have been unpredictable and nearly all things uncertain, that God has not left us comfortless. We have experienced the indwelling of His Spirit in greater measure, our sin has become more bitter, and Christ has become increasingly sweet.

If you asked me what it was like living with my in-laws, I would have to say it was like living with friends. I enjoyed Sandy's company immensely. I'm thankful for the friendship we cultivated in my time there. I would also have to say that living my in-laws has given me insight into all those little things that used to make me wonder "Where does Brian get that from!?" Now I know ;)

So now that life is a little more normal, I will probably update more often. I better go iron my khakis for tomorrow!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Help Wanted

Brian is reading Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. It's a fictional account of the persecuted church in China. I read it years ago and loved it. I suggested it to him and now I'm regretting that. He's so into it that he reads it every chance he gets. And that would be fine except I'm jealous because I don't have anything that gripping to read. 

I'm reading Grace-Based Parenting and Counterfeit Gods, but that's a disciplined sort of reading. I want a story. It could be fiction or creative non-fiction. Just something that will keep me as entertained as Brian is with his book. 

Please give me your suggestions!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You Can Homemake That?

I am so stuffed. Good Stuffed, not gross stuffed. This evening I made homemade cream of mushroom soup. I did not know you could make condensed soup from scratch until recently. I know it sounds very obvious that down the line it had to be "homemade" by someone, but it honestly never occurred to me. 

I used the cream of mushroom in a chicken, broccoli, and wild rice casserole and it made all the difference. You have have not had chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole until you have made it with homemade cream of mushroom.

I write this to urge you at least once just for fun when you have some time make your own cream of mushroom soup. It's so easy and so yummy that it will make you lick the serving spoon as you load it into the dishwasher.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pass the Blog

Here are some things I read this week that I think are worth passing on:

My friend Lisa wrote a little blog about her bra. I  know some of you participated in the breast cancer awareness effort by posting the color of your underwear on facebook and I know others of you were completely outraged by the awareness effort. I'm not including Lisa's take on it to shame or validate anyone, so hear me on that. I think she makes some good points and she blogs so infrequently that I want to reward her when she does in hopes she'll blog more. Hear that Lis?

Tim Challies is one of my go-to daily blogs. From time to time he writes little e-books. And this one for men is particularly fabulous. This e-book Sexual Detox has two versions, one for married men and one for single men. It's probably the best resource for men about purity that I have ever read and I worked for a singles online magazine, so I've read plenty. But I'm also a woman, so what do I know?

Not only am I entertained by this lady, I'm also challenged by her love for Christ and her commitment to her family. Put her blog on your feed and you'll be the wiser for it.

This is for my writer friends and English geeks. You know who you are.

Read Proverbs

Brian loves Proverbs. Some stints of time he will read the "Proverb of the day" (there are 31 Proverbs, so you read the Proverb that goes with that day's date) and when he is feeling at a loss that's where he goes.

We met with our pastor a while back to see if he had any wisdom to offer us about the job search and planning our future. He told us to read Proverbs every day, and to trust God and a lot of other stuff that's not relevant to my post. So this year we committed to read Proverbs every day. 

We are a whopping 12 days into the New Year and I can already feel this book changing me. Isn't that how the Scriptures are supposed to affect us? Glory! I was walking around the city talking with a friend of mine this morning and the words coming out of my mouth sounded a lot like the words I have been reading in Proverbs. I haven't been memorizing them, just stopping from time to time to think about what I'm reading and Brian and I talk about them as well.  

If you haven't already committed to a Bible reading plan for the year, I would urge you to read the Proverb everyday. Read it, think about it, and apply it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Purge

So far so good on the Gluten free deal. I can't believe I'm actually doing it. Especially since we just gave up sweets until January 30. We both agreed we'd had too much  sugar over the holidays.

While Brian was the instigator of and willing participant in giving up sweets (to the exclusion of Ovaltine and honey) he is not joining me on my gluten free venture. I'm sure he would, but we have too many gluten-laden products that I would hate to go to waste.

And even though my stomach is doing better, I might have to give up my food projects for a GREATER project. Project Purge. 

Brian and I are moving at the end of the month. We don't know where yet. The details are contingent on the job search. And one thing I want to do as we prepare to transition is to purge our pantry. I'm taking inventory of all our existing grocery items and planning our remaining meals here according to what I already have.  I'll still be buying groceries but I would love to use as many on hand ingredients in each meal as I can. 

I'm beginning the fun challenge today by making spinach chicken tortellini for our friends who are coming to dinner. 

I already had all the ingredients for the entree (Cheese tortellini, fresh spinach, chicken breast, sun-dried tomatoes, milk/half and half, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic and onion) and the salad, so all I bought was the bread (for the guests and Brian of course). 

Tomorrow I'm making IGE's Santa Fe Chicken. I have both dried and canned black beans, so this recipe is going to help me use those up. 

Emily posted a perfect recipe for my purge today. Even if you're not purging, it's still a great quick-fix recipe, so pay her a visit and check it out. 

Before moving day, I'll post a picture of our cabinets so you can see how well the purge went. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Going Gluten Free

Brian thinks I need to see the doctor. My stomach hurts everyday. Intestinal kind of hurting. One of the great things about having a spouse is that when you stupidly think something like chronic intestinal pain is fine because you're used to it, they let you know it's not.

But I hate doctors. Not personally, but in general. Most doctors treat symptoms and not root issues and I refuse to waste my time by paying someone else to tell me take an antacid. No thanks. I'll save my co-pay.

So I'm going to try a gluten free diet for a while and see if that makes a difference. There's a lot of research out there that says a good amount of people can't handle all the filler that's in wheat products. I picked up a bag of gluten free flour at Costco yesterday and made gluten free pizza last night.

There was a time when I couldn't have imagined my life without wheat. I lived for that little bread basket that comes out complimentary before the meal at sitdown restaurants and a day without a sandwich was inconceivable. Not so today. Brian and I have incorporated enough non-wheat grains into our diet like quinoa, barley and rice that we won't freak out when our last loaf of bread bites the dust next week.

I'll let you know how it goes.