Friday, October 30, 2009

10:30 AM

well then.
i had an appt with the rheumatoid specialist on Nov 9th.
then it got bumped up to Nov 5th.
then it got bumped up to 1030am today.

i could not be more thankful, as my mind AND body need answers...

update forthcoming!

in the meantime, enjoy some matchy-matchiness. ;)

thank you Nickerson Studios!!!!!
(wedding photography partners and best friends!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

...not what i expected...

i haven't laid in bed consumed by utter anxiety in a long time.
i finally gave up, 2 nights ago, at midnight and came downstairs to get in a more comfortable position, and do some reading.
and praying.
and more reading.
and journaling.
and praying...
and a bit of crying...sure.

my symptoms over the last 48+ hours have progressed so quickly, the onset confusing me and scaring me.
the numb/tingling/heaviness in my extremities.
the tingling burning pain in my face.
the unbelievably uncomfortable pains i have as i try to fall asleep...
it's as though my body feels it has the flu, bad, except i dont....
everything aches.

for some reason, all i kept hearing was the Johns Hopkins specialist telling me i have a 50% chance of one day being diagnosed with MS.
i was all but convinced this is it...this is my slow decline into MS....

my neurologist took me in for a same-day appt.
she's very sweet, i like this neurologist alot.
the other two treated me like a stupid child with too much time on her hands.
one prescribed me an anti-depressant and told me i "suffer from too much anxiety."
(duh, idiot. have you ever dealt with this level of chronic pain?! IT MAKES YOU ANXIOUS!)

the other one (as many of you may recall), told me i have an inability to articulate my pain, rolled his eyes, and told me to go home and "think hard about what you really want to say." oh and his prescribed muscle relaxants that would knock a horse over. no thanks.

so this woman is sweet and understanding and actually lets me TALK...and whaddya know...she actually LISTENS as well.

AND fortunately, at the last minute, a friend persuaded me to leave isaac with her.
that was certainly a gift, because i sat in the waiting room at the Neurologist's office for 30 minutes and IN her office for another 30+ minutes. isaac would have all but destroyed the place, and distracted my already frenzied mind...

all that said, i dissolved into tears the second i sat down, pretty much.
i told her about some new symptoms i'm having and i fully expected her to refer me to have more testing done for MS.

but she smiled when i even referenced MS.
"when you leave here, allison, never think of MS again. put it out of your head. your symptoms don't line up and neither does your brain MRI...this isn't MS."

rather, she sat back after jotting tons of notes and asks, "have you ever been to a rheumatologist?" i was half relieved to hear her dismiss MS, but half exhausted by the notion of annnnother string of specialists, and another litany of tests....

i told her rheumatologists here.

she said what i have sounds alot like fibromyalgia, another nerve/muscle condition...which is far preferable to MS, in my mind. though...i hear it's painful...but yeah, that makes sense since i'm in pain.


of course she ordered a few more MRIs, just because that's sorta her job to get a good picture of the spinal cord to check for additional nerve conditions -- though she's reluctant since she doesn't believe it'll show anything abnormal. (don't tell my insurance company...)

and then she said i should get a: Electromyography & Nerve Conduction Study (EMG).
if any of you have ever had that, please tell me what to expect.
she said it's rather painful, as they stick a ton of needles into your muscles and use electricity to see how they respond. that just doesn't sound too pleasant. i've been a bit slow to schedule that one into my social calendar...

all to say...i'm rather unnerved by it all.

let's be honest, i could show up at the rheumatologist and have them diagnose me with something TOTALLY different. but i'm sure we'll get to bottom of this eventually.

yes, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is not really preferable.
but, it's a diagnosis.
a diagnosis that has evaded me for roughly a decade.
so i welcome the conclusion of this mystery.
and regardless of anything they say -- i'm still riding on a cloud over the MS being ruled out. (praying my additional MRIs are conclusive to this end, as well...)

and while any rheumatoid condition is a's not fatal.
until you've sat awake all night wondering if you are dying, it may be hard to see why i appreciate a diagnosis like this...
the worst possible ideas were floating across my mind and i'd think of chad..and think of isaac...and think of them having to take care of me for life...and well, it was unbearable.

so for now (and for always! regardless...) i will choose to be thankful.
i am thankful to my VERY close proximity to wonderful doctors.
i am thankful i have an otherwise healthy family.
i am thankful i get to stay home and that my pursuit of treatment/tests isn't complicated by a work schedule...
i am thankful that my biggest concerns are for isaac and who will watch over him during all of these appts and treatments and tests.

and if that's my biggest concern at this point - i am a very blessed girl.

Proverbs 27:1 -- Do not boast in tomorrow, for we do not know what a day may bring...

2 Corinthians 10:23 -- Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort...

2 Corinthians 12:9 -- But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Psalms 23: 6 -- Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

4th Neurologist Appt...

please just pray for me if you think of it...

i've been to 3 different neurologists, each one gave me a different diagnosis.
this is a follow-up appt with one of those 3 neurologists.

it seems symptoms have taken a turn and yes, i am scared.
...though, i'm certain isaac will provide some levity to the situation at hand, since he'll be in attendance as well. sweet.

will update soon....
much appreciated.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

a little comic relief...

wow, thank you all for your comments, emails and stories...
my last two posts were on the 'heavy' side...but it seems that many of you appreciate that from time to time, and i'm thankful for this online community!

(part 2 coming soon on the vaccine info...)

let's shift gears for a while and talk about my little scarecrow.
he's none too pleased with the hat that is tightly bound to his huge noggin, but that's ok. i'm simply relieved it somewhat fits! he's got the biggest head in town, so i was nervous ordering his costume online, for fear it would squeeze his melon to death!

:: melon still in tact ::

emily from our playgroup decided to host a fun little halloween party and i'm so thankful she did! it was alot of fun seeing the kids dressed up and grabbing a few fun photos!

break for lunch! :)

isaac's costume is meant to look like it's falling apart...but we're trying to be careful when he wears it while eating, since it would never survive one cycle in the washing machine. it really is falling apart!

we look forward to wearing a couple more times this week...though i'm sure you're not as excited to see the same kid, in the same costume, countless more times...

it's nice to have a good excuse to get together with friends, taking lots of photos...and EAT yummy food. here's to Fall 2009!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

aborted fetal cells in vaccines. there. i said it.

i could detail my entire week's work tracking down the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine for my child.

first it started with finding out isaac didn't make the final cut at the pediatrician's office for the few remaining seasonal flu shots. so that was a wild-goose chase. mama was not happy.

then i did some reading and given i wasn't fully informed, decided to forgo the H1N1 vaccine for isaac because i felt weird giving him his first flu shot EVER on the same day he'd be receiving his H1N1 shot...that seemed to be a bit much...though i had the chance, after waiting in line for over an hour. (long story. not interested in rehashing it. hoping my etch-a-sketch brain will just...delete it.)

so our whole family is still H1N1-free.

and if i'm honest, i'm ok with that.
something about the H1N1 vaccine doesn't sit well with me -- however i am very aware that i have withheld a valid layer of defense from my child's immune system. and i hate that as well. he's around kids every day, and wide open to being blindsided by a disease that has taken the lives of over 1000 people, now, in the US.
1 in 1000 die from H1N1. and so i feel torn...
he was a preemie. he contracted bronchiolitis in Feb. his lungs are not as strong as most...

if i read one more article about it -- my head may combust.
and so i will let it rest for now.
no further H1N1 article will be dissected this weekend.

however, can i just say that as i was researching the flu vaccine, H1N1, the CDC website, articles written by doctors, and everything else under the sun...i discovered one of the most disturbing things i may have ever read.

and i did ALOT MORE reading about this subject i'm about to tell you about, because i wanted to make sure it wasn't some hyped up conspiracy...or a right-wing crazy lie. and i can assure you, the more i read, the more horrified i became.

do you realize that 20 vaccines CURRENTLY on the market by big name pharm companies (MERCK), contain the cell-lines from aborted babies?

please click on the chart below, and look under the column "Fetal Cell Line".....
Jill Stanek provided it for me:

of those 20 vaccines, i find two of them to be of heightened interest, particularly in the articles i've been reading.

The Chickpox and MMR vaccines both contain fetal cell lines from aborted babies.

i am not making this up.
even the Roman Catholic Church recognizes it and there are a million websites on how Catholic children can be vaccinated despite the steep moral delimma they face as avid pro-lifers...

A recent report from the Pontifical Academy for Life at the Vatican encourages pharmaceutical companies to seek alternatives to the development of vaccines linked with human fetuses, given the Catholic Church’s objections to cooperating with abortion. (11) The report also points out that in the absence of an alternative, these vaccines may be utilized “to avoid a serious risk not only for one’s own children but also, and more specifically, for the health conditions of the population as a whole – especially for pregnant women."

even the National Catholic Bioethics Center weighs in.

the more you read, the more you discover that the term "human diploid cell" refers to tissue taken from aborted children. it's all right there. how did i not know this?

a website that has been particularly helpful is a blog of a father who provides all documentation from his research, which is astounding.

His Blog

he has FDA approval letters,
notices of compliance,
research lab paperwork, links and blurbs, such as:

Coriell Research Lab MRC-5 Cell Line

The MRC-5 cell line was developed in September 1966 from lung tissue taken from a 14 week fetus aborted for psychiatric reason from a 27 year old physically healthy woman. The cell morphology is fibroblast-like. The karyotype is 46,XY; normal diploid male. Cumulative population doublings to senescence is 42-48. G6PD isoenzyme is type B.

and quotes:

“In order to sustain 96% of the cells, the live tissue would need to be preserved within 5 minutes of the abortion“ …”Within one the cells would continue to deteriorate, rendering the specimens useless.”

-[Dr. C. Ward Kischer, Embryologist and Emeritus Professor of Anatomy; Specialist in Human Embryology, University of Arizona College of Medicine (Tucson, Arizona) Personal interview 7-02, ALL Conference]

“…50% of the time, the baby would be born alive, but that didn’t stop them. They would just simply open up the abdomen of the baby with no anesthesia, and take out the liver and kidneys.”

-Peter McCullough, The Fetus As Transplant Donor the Scientific, Social, and Ethical Perspectives,” Published 1987


now, i also read much by way of defending these vaccines, as well.
many branches of pro-life denominations agree and understand that these cell lines from aborted babies were obtained 35 years ago and that all of these vaccines use strains of cells from mainly 3 aborted fetuses back in the 1960s. so one could argue that by accepting the vaccine, you are not actively supporting abortion, nor did you suggest or endorse the abortion of those children 3 decades ago. i can see their point as well...

for obvious reasons, it goes without say how horrifically offensive i find this. i just have to assume that most of my readers maintain a moral compass similar to mine and recognize life begins at conception, therefore ALL life, at any stage of development is sacred. let's not split hairs...this is a PRO LIFE family. period.

however, there is a clinical angle as well. research is turning toward the long-term affects of aborted fetus cell-lines being injected into children. specifically the chickenpox and MMR, since they are most associated with autism.

it's been clinically proven that mercury does not lead to autism, despite certain communities working their hardest to draw that connection. however, it does seem indisputable that autism onset occurs roughly around the time children receive these two vaccines.

Life Site News wrote a piece about the "aborted cell lines/autism connection" just this past summer. I found the second paragraph to be alarming:

The NVAC draft report recommends further study of the potential for vaccines to contribute to autism in children who have underlying mitochondrial disease, a worthwhile study given the clinical history of such children developing autism after vaccinations (see Poling case). What the NVAC has overlooked, however, in their recommendations, is that epidemic regressive autism is associated with the switch from using animal cells to produce vaccines to the use of aborted human fetal cells for vaccine production. Now when we vaccinate our children, some vaccines also deliver contaminating aborted human fetal DNA. The safety of this has never been tested.


There is no law that requires that consumers be informed that some vaccines are made using aborted fetal cells and contain residual aborted fetal DNA.

i mean...really?
i'm not a conspiracy theorist, honestly.

(well, unless you consider the whole "Birther" arguement claiming that Obama has not handed over his birth certificate...there's that....)

i can tell you i found all of this information in less than 24 hours.
it's all there for you to read, if you look.

i guess i'm asking if anybody else has ever heard of this?
and yes, i'm actually asking for your input...your thoughts...your ideas...
i've always done my homework on vaccines, and i've always felt apprehension about vaccines just because the media and a "new wave" of parents have gone into a frenzy over it. and i have delayed vaccines, spaced out vaccines and flat out turned down vaccines based on my research and common sense. but overall, i am pro-vaccine...on my own terms.

but i have to admit, this puts a whole new spin on it all.
and i feel angry, to a certain degree, simply because this is conveniently omitted in the books where i deeply respected the authors.

i will have to do more research, but just wanted to hear that i'm not crazy.
or maybe i am.
either way....HELP!!!

OH! and on a final note (for now), and if it's any consolation to people, the H1N1 does not rely on any aborted cell-lines, read more at Life News.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

my heart is home.

it's easy, in life, to take a survey of your present condition and ask, 'why?'
why am i permitted to suffer?
why am i permitted to prosper?
why am i left wanting?
why am i left with excess?


i am not going to sit here and tell you my life has been a struggle, though certain aspects have been very trying at times. i have had a good life...a wonderful, loving family...a fine education and i have moved on and started a family of my own.

but i have private (or so i think) moments of turmoil.

i can say with confidence that much of my turmoil in life has occurred over the last 4 years, since marriage, frankly. i smile when i write that, because zero of it has to do with marriage! my husband is the greatest on earth, a loving and faithful leader in this partnership. but it does seem as though we have collided with hardship quite often since becoming married and moving to DC.

i have no idea why.
and truthfully, i've never thought much about the divine timing of it all.

i would say i went through some of the darkest days of my life, while we waded through infertility. i am not proud to admit that i asked God questions i would never publicly repeat. i accused God of things i would never verbally express. i am ashamed of the person i warped into during those excruciating 12 months. those months were hard. so. very. hard.

and then a few months after isaac's birth, i spiraled into physical agony that i never really expected could be possible. and it's funny because many people see the side of my life that i make public. i wear a smile and i do all i can to disguise the pain, but facts are ...i suffer from a rather rare nerve condition in my jaw that can easily level my life, completely. one day i'm fine...the next day i have am dragged in to a surgeons office in 2 seconds flat. and then another surgeon. and then another. i actually meet with the HEAD of the trigeminal neuraglia team at Johns Hopkins next month to clarify some things. the #1 hospital in the country for 18 years straight. what i have is called "the suicide disease." and yes, i understand why. you can pray for me.

yes, i have a good life.
but it does carry some scars.
i have wrestled with sovereignty.
with God's ultimate purposes, which seem strange...but holy.
there are dark moments...
i cry and have cried my fair share of tears.

let's get to the point.

chad and i were taking a walk the other night, with isaac, in the stroller.
he was laughing about how "i thought i married Toyota, but facts are, i married GM."
admit it, it's funny. :)
he's very good natured, but i have all but bankrupted this family with medical bills!

and i caught myself saying, "Thank God i married you when i was 25...had we met a few years later, you never would have married me! all my health problems started when i was 27!"

and in my heart, i've always thought that it was God's blessing to preserve my health until i was married. until i had a teammate to help me through it. until somebody could rub my back late at night and tell me i was still going to be ok. to push me through one. more. day...
and all these years i attributed God's timing to the blessing of Chad. "i was sustained, because God know i would never have survived all this on my own...."

and then tonight happened.

i was actually 27 years old when i became a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church.
i can't even write that sentence without my screen getting blurry as the tears cloud my vision.
while chad is wonderful and the best husband i could ever ask for...that's not what kept me going. it was my church.

and there is no coincidence that we joined CHBC in March a few years back...and got our first fertility diagnosis that May.
there is no coincidence that i received that sad news with the incident of sitting under the best Biblical teaching i could have ever received. that coupling was purposed for me.
it was no coincidence that my most CHALLENGING times, physically, occurred on fridays or mondays at the doctors office...either of which are the closest business days to SUNDAYS, when i was fed Truth, to recharge my heart.

it dawned on me, in God's loving providence, that God reserved my life's MOST challenging experiences for when i would be sitting in a church that has continued to sustain me. i wish there were words for all that i feel for this body of Christ. for these friends. for this unbelievable example of Love and Unity i share with these 600 people. i had no idea church could be like this...

this church isn't a club...or a place where we gather to hang out with people who are JUST like us. where we can find a common bond...or build relationships on human, earthly commonalities.
this isn't a shopping center where we can go and pick up something that serves our purpose.
and this certainly isn't a place where we all gather for an emotional experience that provides warm fuzzies for our egos.
conversely, church for me can be painful at times...and that's ok. it's refining. it's clear. it's sharp. and it takes me from a place of comfort, into a place where i recognize i need something infinitely bigger than myself, or all this world can provide.

i say all of this, because our dear shepherd and tireless pastor, Mark Dever, has been leading our congregation for 15 years! and tonight we held a TOP SECRET surprise celebration for him, which was more meaningful than i even expected.

i'll post a video of it -- which will probably seem boring and pointless -- but i wanted to post it for myself. just because i never want to forget God's provision to me, through this church, and in particular, this man - our pastor.

Mark is, admittedly, larger than life for chad and me.
i first visited this church back in 2001, and for various reasons, decided not to commit to it, though i'll never forget the mark this man left on my life. his words resounded in my heart and there was something undeniable in his messages. i came to my senses years later...and regret not softening my heart to this church, MUCH MUCH sooner...

he came to our church in 1994 and this week, celebrates 15 years with us.
within the last 15 years, he kick-started an intern program that has discipled men and sent them off to start their own churches across the four corners of our world.
and tonight, MANY of them flew back in as a surprise for mark -- and to say it was moving, is an understatement.

mark has sent men out from our church over the last 15 years....6 of which have started churches in foreign countries...and TWENTY of which have started churches in the united states. his legacy is astounding and His love for people is awe-inspiring...
our building may be 200 years old, and our church may seem to function under a rather archaic set of guidelines (from your perspective!), what actually transpires inside the four walls of this church is astounding. our church operates as a very well-oiled machine: a factory for God-honoring and Spirit-led pastors who desire to take the Word around the world..

rather than clinging to the people he's invested the most time into, and rather than transitioning us to multiple services and multiple locations...mark is most pleased to send those people out and have them reproduce healthy churches for the Kingdom. his vision is biblical and his example is so challenging.

and so tonight, we honored mark and his wife, connie.
the six minute video starts off with us waiting for him....SHH!
and then his arrival...!
then by one....the pastors of those 26 churches from all over our globe walked out from behind the stage....(not a dry eye in the house!)
then mark was presented with a book of letters that each intern, and each pastor has written just for him....
and THEN! his wife, connie had re-composed the music for mark's all-time favorite hymn, and had the congregation sing it to him as a surprise....
and finally, a group shot of all the pastors that can trace their origins (and some, even, their salvation!) to mark's ministry to them as their pastor/mentor....

i was literally walking on air, back to my car tonight.

yes, my life can be hard. and yes, we all have our challenges...
but God's timing can never ben questioned and His Word can be trusted.
His mercies are new...every day.
and this church body, along with my pastor, are a perfect example of His mercies exemplified.

i mean this: i am, without question, blessed beyond all measure...
i am utterly humbled that i am among the few throughout all of history, who can call this church my home....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Dr. Hunkle"

Dear Anonymous Commenter:

YES! The baaaad NICU nurse's name DOES rhyme with Hunkle. :)

Email me if you wanna know more.

Let's just say we received a personal apology from her.

And let's just also say that looooots of people feel the way we do about her.

Thanks for the comment...


Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall In Full Swing!

so i cant go without stating my thanks to wendy! (chad's mom, FYI.)
when we RSVP'd to go to Parker's wedding in NC, we knew we'd need an overnight sitter!
we could have dropped isaac off at my parents, but driving NORTH 3 hours, only to turn around and drive SOUTH for 8+ hours....seemed....well....ugh.

so we asked wendy to fly out to assist us and what a relief that was!

when we got back, chad had to leave for a business trip, but wendy and i entertained ourselves just fine! we did happy hours at Chart House (do you even REALIZE how cheap food/drinks are from 4-630pm there?! SO FUN!) and a leisurely 45 minute drive to Cox Farms!

it would appear that i was more entertained by the cows than isaac. ;)

matching jackets!

wendy tried to forbid me from doing this with isaac on my lap. obviously, i was not to be persuaded. and despite what you can see if his face -- he laughed the entire way down -- TWICE!

isaac's personal encounter with goats who must have tasted SOMETHING on his hands -- because they licked him to death!


a tuckered out little boy accepted his free pumpkin and promptly celebrated by taking a nap all the way home!

and this VIDEO is a montage of this morning.
sadly, it's been raining for 3 days. and we're a little stir crazy, demonstrated by isaac's stern conversation with me 1/3rd the way through... :)

MOM! this is for you! enjoy!!!!
have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Parker & Thomas Get Married!!!

so you may remember this engagement party!!!

and you may also remember this heartbreaking day for parker and thomas, as they lost their best friend on his wedding day.

if so (or if not!), you will find the following photos to be incredibly special and heartfelt. the love was thick and the laughter was sweet as they got married on saturday. i've known parker for...oh...5+ years, as her sister is one of my best friends! so to be invited to this grand event was such an honor! words can't really express how beautiful it was! it was a amazingly rich and thoughtful ceremony -- followed by a stunning display of love and happiness at the reception!

her dress was, well.....drop dead gorgeous.

i don't even know how she wore it for as long as she did -- it was sooo heavy!

this smile was unmovable all day!

every bridesmaid was so sweet and excited for her!

lanier, the doting and very attentive maid of honor, was last to get her hair and makeup done, since she was so busy running circles around everybody else! musta felt nice to sit down for a split second to get all pretty! (actually, she was very antsy to sit down, she didn't want to miss a second of anything!)

let's just say that i didn't pick the best spot to sit in the sanctuary. both sides of the aisle faced each other, so i got all confused and wanted to be close to the front of the church. but...then i realized i should have chosen to be close to the aisle. then i realized my camera is INCREDIBLY loud in ceremonies where there's only wood and plaster. whew...those acoustics killed any chance of getting a better shot than this. i didn't want to interrupt!

can you imagine walking down those stairs?!

talk to me about these arrangements.
just talk to me.
talk to me about how INSANELY GORGEOUS they are!
holy crap.
and to put them into perspective, scale them in size compared to the chairs at the table.

i wouldn't know where to begin with the centerpieces at the serving stations....?
would you say, oh....15 feet tall?

words are unnecessary....

their first dance was so fun!

parker with her daddy...


at any rate -- it was a WONDERFUL night out of town for chad and me. we stayed in raleigh at this super-fun hotel and were up till 3am, talking and eating pizza!

"Tips"....better known as mother of the bride, shared in my joy over pizza! :)

i would gush on and on about this wedding experience, but a snotty 3ft savage is pulling on my sweatpants and screaming his eyeballs out for breakfast. JOY! did i mention we're both sick now? oh yes....

oh, and thanks Google for restoring my photo i can step away from the ledge...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

well, then.

so i've been banned from posting photos.
unless, of course, i spend money to purchase more storage.


so now what.

guess i'll desperately whip out my credit card like a pathetic photo-obsessed-sickly-addicted mother and buy whatever needs to be bought. (after freaking out for 30 minutes frantically looking for my "lost" wallet...since this is the Year of Lost Wallets. whew. found. stroller pockets.)

and now i have to wait 24 hours before my "new storage" is released to me.
good ole Google.

so, since i cannot really make you care about what i'm saying, since it's not illustrated -- i'll just post some recipes. YAY! FOOD! and anything that so much as mentions the words GOAT and worthy fodder for discussion, IMPO.


Broiled Flank Steak with Goat Cheese on Greens
Prep time: 15 minutes Marinate time: 2+ hours
Cook time: 30 minutes

1 1/2 pounds flank steak
1/2 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Italian parsley
2 garlic clove(s), coarsley chopped
1 yellow onion , sliced
5 ounces mixed greens
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

[1] Blend oil, vinegar, parsley, and garlic in blender until garlic is chopped; season dressing with salt and pepper. Place steak in a baking dish. Add half of the dressing; turn to coat. Cover and let marinate 2 hours or all day.

[2] Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss onion with and 2 tablespoons dressing on baking sheet. Roast until caramelized and tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes; remove from the oven and tent with foil.

[3] Preheat broiler. Broil steak to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

[4] Let steak rest 5 minutes; slice thinly across grain on diagonal. Place greens and onion in large bowl; toss with enough dressing to coat. Mound greens on individual plates, top with steak and sprinkle with goat cheese. Serve, passing remaining dressing.

per serving: 406 calories; 41 grams protein; 24 grams total fat; 1 gram fiber; 9 grams saturated fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 74 mgs cholesterol; 150 mgs sodium

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes

4 medium baking potatoes , peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

per serving: 266 calories; 6 grams protein; 9 grams total fat; 3 grams fiber; 2 grams saturated fat; 42 grams carbohydrates; 24 mgs cholesterol; 45 mgs sodium

see you on the flip side....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

punkin' head...

so in a last ditch effort to salvage our monday playgroup, one of The Mom Friends suggested we head over to a pumpkin patch! it was gorgeous weather and i am so grateful we did it! i could take isaac daily, since he loved it so much!

of course, i thought getting everything in the car and heading over would be a breeze, but i was running behind, and my tank was on EEEEEEE. so i peeled into a gas station and left isaac screaming in the backseat to put the nozzle in. ok, do ANY of you EVER forget what you're doing while you're doing it? like, your mind is soooo elsewhere and you're thinking about, oh, i dunno....what to make for dinner, the desperately vexing decision of which hardware to install in your banisters (rubbed bronze? antique nickel?), who is babysitting for me or who i'm babysitting for, oh gosh, look at the clock, i'm hella late....!

so right in the middle of my stream of consciousness, i decided a full tank was a waste of time and $12 dollars of gas would suffice and i pulled the nozzle out -- with the lock on.

so yes, gasoline went all over my sweater, shoes, hands, and some splattered in my face.
people, gasoline is greasy! and GROSS! i grew up loving the smell of it, so i was quite surprised to experience this disgusting texture. and yes, i reeked of gasoline for the rest of the day...

i begged the auto repair peeps to let me wash my hands somewhere because ...well... i had this secret fear i was going to spontaneously explode. literally. as though i'd go up in flames if anybody in a mile radius of me lit a match....

needless to say, i was late.
and i missed out on some wagon fun with these kiddos!

meet isaac's friends!
Cardin, Cate, and Luke :)

we bought some fun pumpkins, had a fun communal lunch under the trees, complete with a week's worth of Mom Talk...and wiped alot of noses. :) a very refreshing afternoon, free of dry-wall dust and drills...

and shiloh very thoughtfully brought her camera and took all these photos!
she sent me this one and i love it.
it's rare that i'm in any photographs, since my husband handles my camera like a hot potato and suffice it to say, the photos end up pretty jacked. so thank you SHILOH (and emily, who constantly takes photos, too!) for sending these snapshots!

and of course, isaac's head could blend right in. big and round!

"...ew, so stinky..."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

best $7 i ever spent....

so if you've known me for any amount of time -- you recognize my love/hate for cooking.
and it usually stems from the fact that, well...who knows, really.

i love the romantic notion of wearing aprons and having a house that smells of delicious food.

and but the notion never translates into reality.
there's the recipe search.
there's the traveling husband. (never know when we're having dinner together!)
there's the grocery shopping. (second on my list of Leave Favorite Activities, right behind the oral surgeon's office)
there's the actual prep.
and then there's clean up.

i'm sorry, but sushi will always win, when compared to the above.
it's $4 a roll and it's not messy at all and it makes my belly happy.

with that said, i've stumbled across the most amazing website ever.
Relish Meal Planning may be my lifesaver.
every week, they email you with 15 new recipes.
you choose 5 + 1 dessert.
you click, PROCESS....and it sends you the grocery list for those 5 recipes!!!!?

so rather than sitting at my computer for an hour, drudging through dinner recipes and sides, printing them out, and them condensing those recipes into ONE MASTER LIST....this site does it for you.

no more searching for recipes.
no more pulling it all together.
i took my Relish grocery list, ordered the groceries online...and had everything delivered to my house 24 hours later.

did i mention all the recipes line up with whatever season of the year it is?
so this week's included lots of apples and pumpkins! LOVES.

i can't say enough about it.
and yesterday i made the chili recipe/cornbread that i chose...and it was delicious!!!

i highly recommend! it's $7/month.
i think it may save my life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Final Chapter!

ok, so this is it.
the last time i'll discuss my california trip.
i feel like this been a long, dragged out discussion and so this is my attempt to close the loop!

to make a really long story short = we had a blast!

despite our smiles, you could say that boarding our first plane with isaac was ....not cool. i guess you have to go through it once, to learn, but boy -- we were idiots.

let's start with the fact that we left the house about an HOUR later than we should have. gleefully unaware of how horrific the morning rush hour is. i should know these things by now - but i'm rusty, and unaccustomed to driving to baltimore at 8am. chad on the other hand should have known. and once we sat for 15 minutes w/o moving -- he recognized his great folly.

cough cough.
we arrived with 45 minutes to spare, which doesn't sound so awful, unless you have to park the car yourself, and get through security with a baby in tow.

a screaming baby.

with that said, chad left me curbside with 3 suitcases, 4 carry-ons, and the stroller with isaac.
how hard could it be? let the carry-ons down, check in the suitcases and breeze through security.

well, it's hard when the weigh your suitcase and it's 54lbs.
4lbs overweight.
i swear, these scales are rigged, man.
SO, at the front of the line, i had to open all three of my suitcases on the sidewalk, and redistribute the weight. isaac had fortunately calmed down and looked quite amused, frankly.

so then.
we attempted security alone. i was sweaty, flustered and convinced we were going to miss our flight. we get through and realize that daddy, who has now been gone far longer than is legal, is carrying the bag with ALL the food, bottles, sippies. so sure, i get through security, but am told they will not let him through with all the forbidden goods, if he doesn't have evidence of NEEDING IT. you know. the baby....

so rather than get in line or head to our gate or use the bathroom or feed isaac breakfast or any of THAT, we had to wait at the metal detector for chad to come through.

and wait we did for what felt like 47 lifetimes.

there was no breakfast.
there was no getting a good spot in line.

what i can confirm there WAS, was alot of pit stains and screaming.
chad and i do very little yelling at each other.
i think i can recall 2 times in our marriage where we full-on yelled and they are seared into my brain and i don't even like thinking about it.

well, mama full-on blew a gaskett as we were boarding, people were waiting, my arms were full, my back burning, and my HUSBAND STARED as i was kicking and cussing the stroller to COLLAPSE ALREADY PEOPLE HATE ME OMG I AM NEVER FLYING AGAIN CANT YOU FREAKING HELP ME!???????

he sorta helped.
and hid from me until we were at cruising altitude.

we played alot of musical chairs trying to find hiding spots for our carry-ons.
then we tried this cool "who wants to sit next to baby!" game.
where, well, i sat on the aisle, isaac sat by the window and a bunch of baby paraphernelia was in the center seat, while chad sat across the aisle.

it was our pitiful attempt to get an entire row PLUS one seat to ourselves.
it was brilliant.

i mean, who wants to sit in the MIDDLE SEAT next to a 13 month old....i'd rather fly 6 hours in the bathroom. we thought we had this in the bag. we'd even asked The People if the flight was sold out and there were 7 un-purchased seats...and we were convinced ONE OF THOSE SEATS would be ours for the taking.

i love how you can read people's thoughts as they assess the southwest seating system. they do all their mental calculations. let's face it, we were in the 2nd to LAST ROW. if you've made it that far toward the back of the plane, you must be desperate. but...that desperate? Rug Rat Screaming for 6 Hours Desparate?

apparently some dude WAS?!
"is anybody sitting there?"

Blink. Blink.
i felt like screaming at an even louder decibel than before, "YES, MY LAPTOP IS SITTING HERE THANKYOUVERYMUCH."
instead i felt my face flush and and i may have taken mental notes on all Mother In Law Ideas From This Point Forward.

needless to say, i hung my head low and moved to the center seat, while chad took the aisle...and well....we reshuffled all of our crap all over again.

did i mention i almost drank isaac's entire bottle of Benedryl at some point in the first 10 minutes of flying? or the xanax i had to eat bc i am deathly afraid of flying?

and so, thus began our vacation.
isaac, despite what you are waiting to hear, was an Airborne Dream.
he started crying around Hour #5, when he realized chewing on headrests and eating floor crumbs is old hat and that he was, quite truly trapped. i was glad at that juncture i had spared the benedryl. all in all, he slept for a total of 3 of the 6 hours and in our moments of desperation, the stewardesses did laps with him up and down the aisles!

we were received warmly at the security checkpoint in San Diego, with signs that read ISAAC! and i'm certain, after his 2 hour benedryl haze lifted (my bad on the timing it was administered, big boy), he loved La Jolla. :)

i mean, i love La Jolla.

granted, maybe isaac loves it because got to ride in the lap of luxury. literally. a FORWARD FACING toddler Britax awaited him. he was in Big Boy Heaven! and yes, he came home to an infant carrier, folks. it's a lesson in "all good things must come to an end." we're doing him a favor, really.

isaac's a bit weird with grass.
he eventually got over it, but not without great inspection and suspicion.

he would sit RIIIIIGHT on the edge of the towel. and no further.

these folks took great care of us! toys galore were at our disposal!

he met his great aunt toni for the first time!!!

Grass Alert.

Brave Boy.

i have more photos, but this is going to become quite long-winded if i continue.
isaac slept in till nearly 10am the first morning we were there (HELLO TIME CHANGE) and took to his envirvonment wonderfully. i truly cannot think of anything i would change! besides the obvious mentioned above. isaac charmed just about everybody and flew home asleep in my arms for the first 3 hours of the 5 hour return flight! he probably would have slept longer if we didn't fail greatly at the great Seamless Parental Switcharoo During Nap while standing because i had to use the restroom.

all in all -- it was a very relaxing and enjoyable time and i wish it weren't so darn far away and expensive!!!! because i'd CERTAINLY do it more often if i could!