Chronic (Back) Pain – 5 Steps for Relief

A month ago I threw out my back and then proceeded to pull my piriformis muscle.  I was pretty out of commission for at least a week.  I thought about blogging about this a couple weeks ago, but didn’t want to have a blog downer, and also didn’t want to focus too much on it.  I’m a month out from the incident that caused this pain, and I’m still struggling with pain and stiffness, especially in the morning.  If anyone reads this who struggles with chronic pain, I definitely can sympathize.  Please feel free to message me or put something in the comments and I will pray for you!

yoga pose

A couple things have helped me, which aren’t rocket science, but in case they help someone out there – especially those who have thrown out their back:

1). RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) – it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at the beginning of an injury, but following this acronym definitely helps!  It may take a couple weeks with some injuries, but be patient – the back is pretty sensitive, as are the core muscles, if they are injured.

2). Stretches – every morning now I do core exercises and stretches – both out of necessity and discipline.  I do six stretches every morning – they help with general stiffness in my legs as well as managing my sciatica by stretching the piriformis muscle.

3). Core exercises (i.e. Yoga) – I wish someone had told me during each of my three pregnancies how important core exercises are (i.e. planks).  The Cobra Yoga pose has been my friend with lower back pain, and also has been recommended by my chiropractor.  The core affects SO MUCH in our bodies, and each pregnancy it can easily become weaker.

4). Regular chiropractic visits.  I should have started going while pregnant (prevention is important!) but now am finding so much relief, learning so much about my body holistically and my kids love going too!

5). Avoid heavy lifting if at all possible!

Hope this helps someone!  I think prevention is the way to go, but if you ever get into a chronic pain rut, I hope that you find relief!  It takes effort sometimes but it many times relief is possible with patience and discipline.

My scoop on carbs + insight into cauliflower

Hello!  Do you need to watch your carbs, or are curious about the magic of cauliflower?  Read further!  I had to watch my carbs when I had gestational diabetes with two out of my three pregnancies.  I was so confused when they told me to eat 30 g or less of carbs at each meal – I always thought it was the sugar count that mattered.  Sugars matter, especially refined sugars, but I was surprised to see how my blood sugar levels were affected by carbohydrates, even when the sugar count was low.

Nowadays, my blood sugar levels are pretty good, but my PCP still says it’s good to keep the carbs low, especially those derived from refined sugars.  Rice is such a staple, and that’s one area that I’ve targeted.  Have you tried cauliflower rice?  It’s been fabulous!  Check it out – here below is an option that our family (including our three daughters) has loved!

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The nutritional content is great…  DVs: 25% Vitamin A, 60% Vitamin C, 20% Vitamin K, 10% Folic Acid.

I also substitute cauliflower pizza dough crust when able.  A lot of pizza places have that option now – amazing!!

Cauliflower is also high in WATER content!  It’s so important to have water rich foods, especially in the summer months.

I can’t believe that cauliflower has only recently become a staple food for me – and I hope you consider it if you’re looking to reduce your carbs in popular dishes, or just looking for a change!  Vegetables are always a good thing in my opinion!

 

The BEST water bottle and other summertime picks

Hello there!  This blog is longer than my other ones – bare with me though, I think it’s worth the read!

Are you stumped about how to plan your summer, with kids home from school?  Even if you don’t have kids, have you been looking for new summertime ideas?  I’ve compiled just a couple items that have been so helpful to make my summer more enjoyable, and I hope that they help you too.

Water

Water is essential to (LIFE and) battle the summer heat!!  I finally found water bottles for the kids and for me that I LOVE.

For Adults: it took me years to find a super well-insulated, dishwasher safe bottle – this is a winner!!  (It’s too heavy for kids FYI):Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 4.51.41 PM.png

For babies/young kids: it took me so long to figure out the right bottle for this age group – the one I’m sharing here is great for them developmentally/orthodontically as well as easy to clean in the dishwasher.  There is a handle and no handle option, and two different sizes – a couple colors, and virtually spill-proof:Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 4.41.06 PM.png

For toddlers: this is completely dishwasher safe!, and super cute and easy for them to carry:Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 4.43.12 PM.png

For elementary school kids: my daughter loves this water bottle – she likes the size and it stays well insulated:

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Snacks

Fruit: fresh fruit from the farmer’s market, or what’s in season, is so delicious!  Kids love it too!  I’m always surprised at how much kids (and I) love fruit!  It’s good to take advantage of it during the spring/summertime.  I try to overload on the fruit and less on the other stuff.  The water in fruit is good to stay hydrated too.

Energy bites: my kids are hooked on these, and so am I – five simple ingredients, mixed together plus either a dash of vanilla or my favorite almond extract.  The five ingredients: oats (1 cup), peanut butter (1/2 cup), flaxseed (1/2 cup), honey (1/3 cup) and semi sweet chocolate chips (1/2 cup).  Roll them into small balls and freeze for one hour before eating.

Activities

Summer Camps: There are so many great summer activities!  The YMCA has some good camps with themed weeks.  In our area of Pennsylvania there are a lot of Vacation Bible School/Summer Day Camps – our kids could go almost all June and July to them!  A lot of them go from 9am-3pm – works great for working parents, and some have after hours care too.

Summer binder: A friend of mine from my MOPS group told me about this one – it’s for school age kids for the summer.  Pinterest has a lot of options but my basic one consists of a cover page with activities planned for the summer, and boxes to check off.  My daughter journaled in hers about every week of her summer.  Then I scanned it all in at the end of the summer to keep the memories, and tossed the pages – will reuse the binder next year.

 

Pool: A pool membership, or in our case, belonging to the Y has been so essential to keep cool during the summer, teach the kids how to swim and get energy out!  A lot of friends from church and school show up there, so it’s good for socializing too!

Play dates: Impromptu play dates are always fun, and this summer I’m scheduling a couple play dates out in advance.  A bunch of friends and I are doing the Jesus Storybook Bible curriculum, complete with crafts for the kids.  My 7 year-old always tells me that church (and life in general) is boring without crafts – something about the age group – I’ve finally gotten the message!

Vacations: We don’t always do big vacations in the summertime – most trips are to spend time with family.  I say if vacations, especially to warmer climates, can be done during the school year, go for it, as the tourists are usually fewer.  This coming summer though we’re visiting family and going on vacation with family.  Don’t know that it will work out every year but we’re looking forward to it!

I wish that I had read this blog post years ago – I wouldn’t have wasted time and money with alternatives!  “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31, right? 🙂 Enjoy your summer!

Be Still

With the warm weather arriving there’s more to enjoy outside!  We are often on-the-go to our newest favorite park.  Our kids are learning to ride bikes and my oldest daughter and I are getting ready for the kids marathon, so we keep busy at the park.  Pool season will soon be upon us soon, so the focus will then shift to swim lessons and such – looking forward to it!

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With the beautiful weather it’s easy to get busy outdoors – which can be a good thing.  At Bible Study today I was reminded of the need to be still.  Be still in the midst of the draw of the outdoors.  Sometimes all of this activity is taking the place of something deeper, and although it’s wonderful, it won’t satisfy.  Activity, pride, etc. can cheat us of God’s best.  As Beth Moore puts it:

It can cheat us of contentment..because you “deserve better than this.”

…cheat you of knowledge…because you already know it all.

…cheat you of healing…because you’re too full of pride to forgive.

…cheat you of genuine friendship…because nobody’s going to know the real you.

…cheat you of love…because real romance demands sacrifice.

…cheat you of God’s glory…because pride convinces you to seek your own.

Hope you have warm weather where you live, and a great Spring.  I hope you find time to be still.  Let me know in the comments what time of day/week works best for you to find quiet.

 

Letting Wonder Woman Go

Has someone ever challenged you to give up the status quo?  Are you a wonder woman or super mom that feels pressure to do it all?  Then this blog post is for you.  If this isn’t you, but you’re still reading, I hope it helps the perfectionist in you…

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For me, not that I was exactly wonder woman, it was when I got pregnant with my third child that I realized that the career that I was chasing was not what I really wanted or more importantly not what my family needed.  My husband would remind me that I was part-time, so I shouldn’t expect huge promotions, but I chased them anyway.  I had it all – I was part-time, had a great job and great family, but I was tired.  I also wanted more down time with my kids.  In the end, I left my job, not realizing that I’d have a profitable business a year or so later, for a fraction of the time.

Every situation is different, but I came to terms with the fact that I shouldn’t ‘have it all’ because that meant there was inevitably something that was missing.  Many times at the root of perfectionism is fear.  God wants to redeem it all.  I suppose the starting point is realizing that we need God, and that our relationship with Him is broken without Jesus.

This may just be a season…with our children this may be just a phase…but we don’t want to miss that phase right?  This looks different for everyone but I want MORE time with my kids and LESS distractions.

Being blessed with discomfort

Discomfort comes in all kinds of forms.  The sickness inside…the heartache…stress at work…being woken up by a newborn 5x in the middle of the night…discomfort means different things to different people.  To the early bird, getting up early is just the thing.  To the night owl, waking at 5am to write a blog doesn’t seem fun, but here I am up with my 2 year old and I’m tired, but glad to find the time to write this week.

Albert Einstein once said: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”  Not everything that matters can be measured, quantified, etc.  Right now…sleep…I feel like that’s something that matters and can be measured, but then again, how much does one really need?  Everyone’s different.

As a CPA, Einstein’s quote doesn’t surprisingly bother me.  As someone who’s trying to declutter it motivates me – not everything in my house counts – I can live without…  As a mother who’s trying to get sleep I’m wondering if I can apply the counting concept to the lack of sleep, sometimes, and trust that God will multiple benefit of the sleep I do get.

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger,
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears,
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort and
To turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

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Art Depicting St Francis of Assisi (see link)

The Family Dinner Project

My husband was traveling for work recently, and I found myself at the dinner table with our three little girls, and I Googled “dinner table games”.  I found this website and have been hooked on it: https://thefamilydinnerproject.org/fun/dinner-games/.  Here are my favorites:

abcs of gratitude

ABCs of Gratitude

Go around the table and each take a turn, in alphabetical order, to say something or someone you’re grateful for.  My oldest daughter who is 6 did really well at this game and it was so much fun.

20 Things I Love About…

For this game you pick a person, place, season (really anything) and you say 20 things you love about ________.  We actually did this game a bit differently at my moms (MOPS) group at church – we went around the table and all wrote down something we liked about the person whose name was at the top of the paper, and then we all read them at the end.  It was really encouraging.

Celebrity

Name a celebrity (say, Whitney Houston) and then another person name’s with the first letter of the previous celebrity’s last name (Hudson Taylor)…then repeat (Thomas Jefferson)…(Jennifer Lopez)………..

GREAT GAMES for car rides too!