Wholetober Unprocessed

A little over a month ago a friend and I started talking about doing the Whole30 but after seeing how restrictive the plan was, we decided it didn’t seem realistic.  Then we talked about October Unprocessed.  Similar idea but not as restrictive in the food categories.  It seemed more doable.  There was one thing about Whole30 that appealed to me though and that was eliminating sugar entirely.  So I came up with my own challenge for the month that I called “Wholetober Unprocessed.” Here were my rules: No sugar of any sort (white, brown, honey, molasses, syrup, coconut, cane, turbinado, you get the picture), no gluten, no processed foods with ingredients I can’t find in my own kitchen (in other words, if I can’t pronounce it, it’s out, but OK if I weren’t too lazy/busy to make it myself).  Here I am on October 31st with the results of my challenge.  Please note I did not make the kids follow my program.  That would have meant mutiny.  Instead I did some sneaky things to change what they were eating while still allowing them their junk.  

I am going to let you in on something right now, this was hard.  There were times in those first two weeks I thought I might actually murder for a Swedish Fish, I wanted sugar so badly and I felt constantly hungry (I was not, I had eaten plenty of food.  It was all in my mind).  In fact, I was not entirely successful in my Wholetober rules.  But here I sit, typing this post on the most celebrated candy-filled holiday, staring at piles of chocolate treats, and I have not had one bite.  I have gone 31 days without sugar (except of the fruit variety). At least, mostly.  At first, I wasn’t really hunting out hidden sugar in my foods.  The way I got through the first couple of weeks was my nightly apple slices with peanut butter.   The peanut butter was organic but it did have a little cane sugar in it, 2g/per tablespoon.  I let it slide but then found an organic peanut butter that was just peanuts, salt, and palm oil.  Better. But I absolutely rooted out anything that had High Fructose Corn Syrup.  This ingredient is enemy #1 and is in SO many products.  I became relentless in reading the labels of the things my kids eat which are the items in my house that most often contain that evil, fake ingredient. The good news is more and more companies are changing their products so they don’t contain this ingredient. Even sneakier, when my kids saw me eating something really healthy and they would ask me about it, I would say “Oh, you won’t like this at all.  There’s no need to even try it.” Ha! About 50% of the time they would try it and occasionally they pronounced it “Really good Mom.”

I still eat products with gluten.  Let’s be real.  Gluten-free products you get at the store are “meh” at best.  I don’t care how they try, most breads are flavorless as cardboard. Making GF baked goods from scratch are much more tasty but I don’t really have the time or energy to be baking regularly.  My kids and I have been eating GF pastas for years since Paul was diagnosed with Celiac Disease eighteen months before he died.  More often than not, we eat the GF variety because we like it just as much.  So that wasn’t a huge shift.  But giving up all gluten containing products was more than I could do while also battling to stay away from sugar.  And it was a battle, but one worth pushing through because there are very few things I miss.  Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting – yes.  Everything else – nope.

Did I lose weight? Nope. Not a pound.  Seriously.  I ate mostly clean, but I didn’t keep track of calories. Mostly I just blame having Hashimoto’s.  My metabolism refuses to collaborate.  Frankly, I didn’t really think I would lose weight anyway.  I really wanted to break my addiction to junk food.  I was mostly successful.  My biggest fail? Diet Coke.  That stuff is my crack.  I have seriously cut down though.  Before Wholetober Unprocessed I drank minimum of 32 ounces of Diet Coke per day.  This month I had 7 Diet Cokes the whole month.  Woot-woot!

Going forward I plan to keep avoiding processed foods as much as possible.  I also plan to avoid most sugars but will make an exception for raw honey and pure maple syrup.  These are natural sugars.  I wish I felt really great, but I don’t yet.  However, my joints feel better, less achy, and I have had a very slight increase in my energy levels.  I think, though have no quantifiable proof, that my brain fog has lifted a bit.  So, I plan to work toward being 100% gluten-free by the end of January.  I am 50% there but we are heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas. Come on.  Bread dressing should have its own food group and it would be my favorite.  Bottom line: the biggest gain I got from my Wholetober Unprocessed is that I can give up sugar and keep my sanity, which means if I take other small steps toward healthy choices, this time next year I will have completely overhauled my diet.

Adoption Attachment Resources – Websites


This is part to of my Adoption Attachment Resources series.  Read Adoption Attachment Resources – Blogs here.

***So, I totally blew it and the “few days” I mentioned as a timeline for my next post, became 23 days.  Mea culpa.  I am a terribly inconsistent blogger.  A situation I plan to remedy soon.  I hope you will find this worth the wait.***

As I alluded to in When Love Is Not Enough, my late husband and I knew in the very early days of my youngest son’s joining our family, we were in over our heads.  We began to look around for a practitioner who understood attachment disorder.  So three months after returning from Ch*na, we found ourselves sitting in the office of a psychologist who had some experience in attachment disorder.  It was by no means his area of expertise, he didn’t claim it, but he was the father of two boys adopted domestically.  He spent a few sessions observing our son’s interactions with us, and proclaimed, “I don’t think you have anything to worry about. He seems to be attaching to you well.” I don’t really blame him for thinking this way.  My son absolutely manipulated the whole situation.  My son, who never once came within two feet of me willingly, spent one entire session leaning on my lap.  He gave total eye contact to the therapist.  At home he would barely deign to answer our questions, yet with the therapist, he chatted with openly, freely giving answers to questions.  False answers, but answers.  We couldn’t refute the behavior because our son had the therapist completely bamboozled and we knew it.  We left our third session frustrated and dejected.  We had not found the right professional.  And thus began a three-year journey to try to find the right help. Continue reading

Adoption Attachment Resources – Blogs



One of the biggest challenges for me as an adoptive parent has been finding the right resources to meet the needs of my children.  I mention in my previous posts When Love Is Not Enough and When Love Is Not Enough Part 2 what some of these challenges are which we have faced.  When we began our adoption journey we spent a tremendous amount of time researching our children’s special needs, which are cleft lip and palate (two children) and congenital missing ribs resulting in tethered chord syndrome and scoliosis (one child).  We interviewed doctors, researched hospitals, talked with other parents raising children with the same special needs.  I spent a lot of time researching language acquisition, cultural traditions and holidays, and what it would mean to be a transracial family.  The latter was the topic of an entire course we were required to take before adoption #2 to ensure we were sensitive to our child’s birth culture and not raise our child “too white.” You know what really wasn’t on our radar? Reactive Attachment Disorder.   Continue reading

When Love is Not Enough Pt. 2


My first post “When Love Is Not Enough” started to get really long and wordy, so I split them in two separate posts so readers could tackle them at their own pace, or maybe decide after they read the first, they have read enough.  For those brave readers who have made it here to this post, and are willing to read to the end, thank you.


It is really hard to admit my love wasn’t enough to help my son.  It is hard to admit I wasn’t enough.  The other night I had a conversation where it was pointed out to me that I am “mom and dad.” I can’t really be dad but being just mom doesn’t seem enough.  I woke up in the middle of the night crying because I know whatever I can do, it will never be enough, I know God has to fill the void yet it is so hard to let go of the guilt that I have to be more than I am.  This is especially necessary when dealing with a hurting and broken child. Many people have the mistaken notion that kids who are adopted older are somehow so incredibly grateful they were “saved” that they would bend over backwards to show their gratitude.  We labor under the belief that of course every child just wants a family of their own – a mother and father. First of all, we didn’t save or rescue our son. OK, maybe in the most rigid sense of those words for his life was not exactly fabulous, and his future was bleak at best as a child with no family and a serious medical condition. It doesn’t matter.  It was the life he knew and as far as was concerned, we took him away from his life.  My youngest son was almost seven years old when we brought him home, and he was all the more angry.  About 18 months ago we were in a therapy session in a local in-patient hospital for children with RAD, and the therapist was kind of taking my son to task because as she told him, “your mother loves you. She brought you here to the States where you have had a loving home, a good education, medical treatment for your special need, and you are spitting in her face.” Now, let’s set aside how shocking this is from a therapist who is supposed to be experienced with RAD kids.  That can be addressed in another post.  However, let me tell you, my son’s reaction was truly eye-opening.  He erupted and said to me, “I hate you! I hate you! I never asked to be adopted.  No one asked me.  I didn’t want to leave.  I liked Ch*na,” and on and on for the next 10 minutes. The “I hate you” wasn’t a shock to me, he said that often.  What was eye-opening was his anger he was not asked.  Wow. I wonder how many other children are made to feel they should be grateful and happy they have a family, yet feel hurt and angry because it is not what they wanted.  Although I know the future he would have faced had he stayed in Ch*na, he did not know. He’s right.  He wasn’t asked.  All he was told by the people in the medical healing home was how lucky he was to be getting a family, but all he could think was “I never asked for a family.” I heard this over and over from him, “Nobody asked me.” On the one hand, it was incredibly hurtful to hear he resented me for “ruining” his life. What could I say to that?

Continue reading

When Love Is Not Enough


When I began this blog, I promised myself I would be authentic, real. Not telling everything but telling it like it is and tough luck if you can’t handle the truth. I have had to sit on this post for quite a while (like four months) because it’s very personal and it involves my kids. However, part of the reason I find myself writing this particular post is because no one really shares the truth about some less fuzzy aspects of adoption.  I think the reasons are many.  Some believe if you share some of the more unseemly parts of adopting, it will scare people away from adoption.  Some, like me, are just plain embarrassed.  We feel like we failed or are in some way defective.  I mean, look at all the adoptive family blogs on the internet, with smiling gorgeous kids who do all the fabulous things, and love, love, love them all, “we have 10 perfect kids with special needs so let’s add two more!”  I am not knocking them, I am just skeptical. There was a time when I arrogantly believed I was an international adoption expert.  Then child #4 entered our lives.

Continue reading

Beauty and Body Image Redux

I wrote a post back in 2011 for another blog. It was about the idea of beauty and body image and how it had affected me. I decided I needed to edit it to revisit the topic here because it’s has come to the fore again, in social media, and in my own home. This time concerning my 11 yr old daughter. Alarm bells go off in my head when I hear here disparage her body or how she looks.

I found this video in my Facebook feed a few times in the last month.  It has made me think about my own struggles with my body, more specifically about the war I have waged against it for the better part of my life.  Please take a moment to watch the trailer, especially if you are the mother of a daughter.


Continue reading

Four Years Later

Today marks the fourth “anniversary” of the death of My Love, Paul.  I still don’t really know how I want to refer to that day.  I see a lot of Christian widows refer to that day as “the day my spouse changed addresses,” or “home going,” or “angel-versary,” or even “Heavenly anniversary.” All, with the exception of “angel-versary,” are true statements for me.  I don’t believe my husband became an angel.  Angels are angels and humans have souls which go to Heaven to be with God.  It is true I believe Paul is in Heaven with God.  Intellectually and emotionally it brings me comfort on his behalf, and most of the other 364 days of the year (or 365 days in a Leap Year), I do feel happy for him.  Somehow though, by adopting the cheery “he changed his address” and others like it, make me feel I shouldn’t be sad about him not being here with me.  After all, isn’t our desire as Christians, our ultimate desire, to be with God in Heaven? I feel sadness. I feel sadness about my son going to his friend’s Eagle Scout ceremony later today and his returning to the house sad he does not have a Dad to give the “Dad” pin to when he becomes an Eagle Scout.  I know every time we attend this type of ceremony it opens this wound for him and how much more so it will today of all days.  The only thing worse than my own sadness, is to witness the tremendous loss my children experience on big event days, me knowing there is no way I can or should try to make up for it.   Continue reading

To My Brother On the Day You Marry

Joshua, today you are getting married. I am ridiculously happy for you and proud of the man you have become. I know throughout your life it was probably a big pain to have three extra “mothers” and a bit embarrassing to have sisters so much older than yourself. As oldest big sister, I have one last bit of advice before you launch off into your own life as a married man.  I have been thinking a lot about five things I learned while being married to Paul. Continue reading

Father’s Day for the Fatherless

Big days are hard in our family, and Father’s Day is the worst. Seriously the worst.  Of all the big days we have to endure without him, this is the day I hate the most. My kids began life without fathers.  For whatever reasons, they were abandoned by their birth families and went years without knowing the love of a real father.  Then one by one they joined out family.  Paul said, “Yes!” enthusiastically to each and every one of them. And then he was gone.  A couple of years ago, I gave up the idea of being both mother and father to my children. I can’t replace their dad, their “Baba.” I can’t be him.  He was amazing.  He was fun.  His big lap (he was 6’2″ to my not quite 5’2″) was the one every one wanted to sit in for stories.  He was the storyteller.  I remember my kids would say, “Baba, tell us a story,” and he would start “Once upon a time there was a boy who …” and every two sentences one of the kids would interrupt to tell him how the story needed to go.  So a boy who was setting out to explore became “Hot Lava Changing Boy” who saved the world from the “Red dragon of Enderling.” His was the lap that comforted kids before and after surgeries. His were the arms that held scared children whether it was on the day we first became a family, or the first day of Kindergarten.  He was a cake decorator extraordinaire and could create whatever scene the kids asked him to create. He shared his love of cycling with them, and bestowed on them a love for books.  He loved books. Most of all, he loved being their dad.  My kids are starting to lose their memories of him, especially the sound of his voice, and I have very little evidence to provide to them because he was the one behind the camera most of the time.

It is clichè to say “they have a Heavenly Father” because though we trust in God, have faith in God, there is really nothing that can replace the very important person that is our earthly father.  Paul was not their biological father, but he was their real dad.

We love you forever and always Paul, to the moon and back!