CC Kitten

Today I am grieving. We put our cat, CC, down yesterday. It was very hard and still feels really raw.

To open your life and heart to a pet is a very vulnerable and intimate thing. They love you and depend on you, and you come to depend on them too, to greet you, to be happy to see you, to love being near you, even to give you a reason to get out of bed some days. They see you in the moments that no one else does: the everyday and mundane, the scary moments, the heartbreak, the celebrations, the sicknesses. They become part of the fabric of your daily life. Petty things like money, status, reputation, pride don’t matter to them. They love you anyway even when you feel unlovable. What a great thing to have a pet, a friend, a family member.

But we only get a few years with them. A lot of them wonderful, but some harder as they age. Their reminder of the inevitably of life and death is harsh and bittersweet. You always want more; more play time, more happy purrs or tail-wags, more funny and sweet moments, more pets.

CC was a really sweet cat. I didn’t grow up with cats and have never had a particular fondness for them, but when I married Aron, I got CC too. She used to drive me nuts. She’d wake me up in the middle of the night. If we tried locking her out of our room, she’d put her paw under the door and shake the whole door until I gave up and let her in. She chewed on only my flip-flops, never Aron’s. We’ve always joked that she saw me as her nemesis because I came in and stole Aron’s attention from her. I still think that’s partly true, but I think she also sensed my similar uneasiness towards her.

We grew accustomed to each other. She got used to me, and would even come to me for attention. She knew I wouldn’t grab her and pick her up like Aron would, so she’d come to me when she wanted love but still enough space to feel she had freedom. I’d dangle strings for her and try to love on her when Aron was unavailable.

Since being a stay-at-home wife, though, I feel like we developed a special bond, and I’m thankful we had that time. She got used to me being around during the day when the house used to be her domain to reign over in our absence. We had a lot of sweet moments lately, just her and I. Every time I made fish, she’d come running out, and I give her a couple of small pieces. And a couple of weeks ago, I stayed in bed most of the morning because I wasn’t feeling well, and she came to sit with me. I thought it was because I was eating sardines, but even after they were gone, she just laid by me for another hour or so, purring without me even having to pet her.

She's just lying here next to me and purring
She’s just lying here next to me and purring

I still can’t believe she’s not here. Every small movement out of the corner of my eye has me looking for her. We’ve reminisced about the fun, happy CC memories. When she jumped off the balcony to get away from someone. When we put scotch tape on her foot and she moved at lightning speed to try to kick it off. The way she used to bully the dogs and they were afraid of her despite being several times her size. We lost her too early, and we feel cheated.

Part of me feels like we let her down. Didn’t feed her the right food. Didn’t care for her enough. She was never sick, so we never took her to the vet, really. The night she got sick, beforehand, we could tell something was up with her but couldn’t figure it out. Could we have acted sooner? Now, after doing some reading, I realize that being a senior cat, we should have been taking her in for yearly checkups checking her blood-work and doing a urine analysis. If we had, they probably would have caught something that was off earlier, and we could have started treating sooner. But you don’t know what you don’t know. And there’s nothing we can do now. It’s really hard to see a little creature you’ve shared a home with for 10 years deteriorate so quickly, no longer like herself.

I had a dream the night before we put her down that I was petting CC. I petted her back and her belly and she was purring, happy. She was just like CC always was: sweet and affectionate, happy and playful. I’m thankful for her sweet little life and her happy purr. And I’ve loved watching Aron love her. Everyday he would hold her. She was his baby. We love her.

Aron sitting in my dorm room with CC, he snuck her in! Spring 2006
Aron sitting in my dorm room with CC, he snuck her in! Spring 2006
Aron making CC "STICK 'EM UP!" Something he used to do with her a lot as a kitten.
Aron making CC “STICK ‘EM UP!” Something he used to do with her a lot as a kitten.
Balancing CC in one hand, she seems unsure of this one...
Balancing CC in one hand, she seems unsure of this one…
CC's favorite place (we have that in common)
CC’s favorite place (we have that in common)
Bella spooning CC :)
Bella spooning CC 🙂
CC trying to hide while I'm making the bed
CC trying to hide while I’m making the bed
CC loves me
CC loves me
CC Poof
CC Poof

TED Talk Tuesday: The Power of Vulnerability

This is probably my favorite TED Talk. It’s the first one that I came across that really made me think, “This is exactly how I feel.” And there’s a smart person giving a talk in front of other smart people (and the entire internet) about exactly how I feel. Which obviously means I can’t be the only person who feels this way.

It’s not a new talk, it’s from June 2010, and you may have already seen it. It’s one of the most popular TED talks out there, and I think that says a lot about people’s hearts. People want to feel worthy, want to feel belonging and connection. She says in the talk, “By the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realize is that connection is why we’re here.”

This talk is about people and connection and the importance of vulnerability for true connection. She discusses what separates people who have a strong sense of love and belonging from those who are constantly struggling for it. She emphasizes the importance of compassion towards ourselves so that we’re also able to treat others with compassion. And she drives home the point that when we try to numb vulnerability we numb joy too, because we cannot selectively numb just the bad stuff.

I think what Brené has found in her research is probably why I’m so interested in being real about my struggles in life, physically and emotionally. That feeling of “I must not be the only one feeling this way,” is why I want to be open and vulnerable here, for others to know it’s not just them either. Sitting at home feeling isolated, alone, weird, like you don’t belong: it’s not the only option.

I strive to live a more “wholehearted” life. I keep getting frustrated with myself for losing sight of that goal (see the irony there?). But it’s not a quick fix, it’s a constant choice that gets easier with time and practice. As Aron reminded me just this morning, I have to choose to be kind to myself every day.

A quote from BoJack Horseman to conclude (possible spoiler to the season 2 ending… so proceed with caution):

“It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.”

Words to live by.

(This is the last scene of season 2 of BoJack. It doesn’t spoil the story, imo, but it is the last scene, so you decide.)



Week 10 of the AIP

I know I’m behind on getting this posted, but I’ve been struggling with inspiration blog-wise this week. Plus, I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. So hold your horses, it’s coming! 🙂

Week 10 had some highs and lows, as they all do. It seems that towards the end of the week is when I’m more likely to give in here and there for small(ish) stuff. But at the beginning, we were going strong! We had Austen and Rachel (brother and sister-in-law) over this week, which was lovely, and I again made Zucchini Noodles with Scallops and Bacon (for company, like I said!). Turned out delish again! But later that night my stomach was a-growlin’. Sometimes healthy food doesn’t seem to stick with you as long. Then comes midnight seconds.

Peeling lots and lots of zucchini. While watching Dirty Dancing.
Peeling lots and lots of zucchini while watching Dirty Dancing (aka, the only way to peel zucchini).

Catching up with Austen and Rachel was the best part of dinner, of course. One thing I was excited about when we moved to Austin was the chance to have a closer relationship with them. They welcomed us with open arms when we moved here, inviting us over for dinner, to their Halloween party, etc., and we’ve loved getting to spend more time with them!

The next night, we’d planned to go to Blues on the Green with some new friends we recently met, but as I said in this post, I chickened out at the last minute. I hadn’t been feeling amazing last week, so I was just too nervous. The worst part was that I felt bad for disappointing Aron… he wants to make new friends and I know my being sick is getting in the way of that. He loves me, I know, and wants me to be okay and never makes me feel bad about not feeling up for something, but I still know that a big reason we haven’t gotten more connected here is my anxiety about my stomach issues. It’s another motivator for me to get better. But just to be clear, Aron is the best partner in life I could have asked for, better than I could have imagined. Even more so considering I’m currently dealing with a life-altering sickness that affects both of us daily. Here’s an example of his awesomeness:

Aron is the most supportive and encouraging. *Swoon*
Aron is the most supportive and encouraging. *Swoon*

He is my best friend, my favorite person, and the love of my life.

My biggest indulgence last week was frozen bananas. (Only one was dipped in chocolate!) Pretty much every day last week, I ate at least half of a frozen banana. For some reason a banana feels like more of a treat frozen than at room temperature. And I feel less guilty than when I make banana ice cream. Maybe because I’m limiting myself to nothing more than just one banana. Or maybe the consistency of the banana ice cream sets off some sort of subconscious, shame-related guilt about indulging in something. We are all programmed (by society!) to feel guilty about food (or other) indulgences. I’m getting a little preachy… Let’s get back to the subject.

To make up for crapping out on the Blues on the Green trip, we ended up having that same couple over for dinner Saturday night. It was so nice, and I’m so glad we were still able to hang out with them! We made burgers on the Big Green Egg, cooked some sweet potato fries (trying them again this week), and had homemade guacamole. And chocolate-covered frozen bananas, of course. And we got to know them a little better. I hope to do it again soon. 🙂

Also, this happened:

Luna resting her head on Bella.
Luna resting her head on Bella.

Yep, that’s one dog resting her head on another dog. While lying next to me. I love them. Take the happy feelings you get from this picture, and go forth into your day with a smile.

An Ode to Summer

Summer is nearing it’s conclusion for the year. It’s still really hot here and will continue to be for at least another month (currently 90 degrees at 11:30 in the morning), but I feel fall in the air. Slightly. I see it in the leaves already starting to litter our deck and line the driveway. Aron is experiencing it in the allergy medicine he’s having to use to gear up for autumn’s inevitable release of ragweed and other allergens. Plus the slightly cooler evenings are a dead giveaway. And I’m ready for it. The transitional seasons of spring and fall are everyone’s favorites, and I am no exception to the rule.

But, for some reason I am especially nostalgic about summer this year. Maybe it’s because we’re in a new town and on a new diet and I’ve only been able to treasure my usual summer comforts in little bits. Or it could be because this new town has significantly less humidity than I’m used to (what a joy!). Or perhaps because this is the first summer since I was 16 that I haven’t had a job. Probably a mix of all of those things.

I realize that my love of summer probably comes from a place of luxury. I am blessed to have air conditioning as a staple of everyday life. Things like going swimming, vacationing on the beach, and trips to someone’s lake house are experiences not everyone gets to enjoy. I am very grateful.

But those things are not necessary for a great summer. Summers are best-enjoyed by gathering with those you care about. Barbecues, game nights, family dinners, quality time. Sometimes when we get together with family or friends, I take a step back and watch people laugh and smile and connect with each other. I just feel so lucky and glad to get to see it and be a part of it. Playing an active role in that connection is really sweet too; it’s one of those forgetting yourself moments where you just have fun and enjoy the present. But taking a step back from time-to-time reminds me that I am blessed to be in the company of those whom I love and enjoy.

So for my ode to summer, before it’s completely gone for another year, I have listed out some of the things that I love about the hottest time of year. Until we meet again, Summer…

Swimming everywhere! The beach, the lake, the pool. Taking advantage of any and all bodies of water.

The warmth of sun-dried beach towels.

Going on new adventures with friends and forgetting to bring water.

Drinking cold, cold water.

Days and days of blue skies.

Fourth of July celebrations.

Lying down to cool off under a blasting fan.

Changing into dry clothes after swimming.

Sitting outside with someone late at night or early in the morning before it gets too hot.

Walking barefoot on cool tile.

Listening to music while floating on water.

Talking to random strangers about how hot it is.

Summer fruit: peaches, melons, mangoes

Long, sunny days.


Favorite summer moments (so far…)

Jenee and me :)
Jenee and me at a festival in Austin 🙂
Jen's Birthday
Jen’s ’80s prom-themed birthday
Intense slap game between two Trimble men at the beach
Intense slap game between two Trimble men at the beach
4th of July with the Davises!
4th of July with the Davises!
Dinner Jenee and I made for the fam. Sitting outside on the back porch.
Dinner Jenee and I made for the fam. Sitting outside on the back porch. (Slightly messed up pano…)
Swimming with Mom :)
Swimming with Mom 🙂
Night out with handsome, Trimble men (and wives).
Night out with handsome, Trimble men and wives.
Father-son bonding at the lake.
Father-son bonding at the lake.


What are your favorite parts of summer?


Back in Houston, Aron and I were part of a small group in our church. We’d been married for about 3 years before that and had yet to find a group where we felt like we belonged. There was another small group we’d been in for a while, and while we loved and appreciated everyone in that group for opening their hearts to us, we didn’t completely feel like we fit in with their group dynamic, and we eventually stopped going.

A little while after that, we still deeply desired closeness with other couples in our same walk of life, and we started to feel the pull to maybe lead an entirely new small group. We wanted to have friends, of course, but Aron especially also had a passion to include other couples who had not yet found a group so that they could find connection as well. We reached out to the coordinator at our church, and luckily, he had 3 or 4 other couples that were around our age and had expressed an interest in joining a group.

We called them up out of nowhere, “Uh… hey, you don’t know me, but you filled out a card at church and I’d like to know if you’d like to come to my house…?” And to our amazement, they all showed up! We cooked a frozen lasagna, served bagged salad and some sort of dessert, and we all sat around and joked and laughed and found things in common, and it was amazing.

The next time we met, we talked about what it was we each wanted out of a small group. Everyone wanted friendships and connection to others through our common beliefs and desired to deepen our relationships with God and let that deepen our relationships to others. I also think we all went into it with our own preconceived notions, which can present challenges because everyone’s are different. But we quickly got into a groove and a closeness.

I felt so blessed by this little group and they became like family. We met on a weekly basis, and we supported each other through challenges, through heartbreaks, through job changes, through having children, through all of life’s ins-and-outs when you need people to listen to or celebrate with you. We weren’t always perfect at relating to each other, but we tried and we reached out even when things were hard or tense. I miss them. I miss sitting around each others’ houses on Thursday evenings and going over our “ending time” every night because we all have so much to say. I miss sharing our lives with each other on a regular basis.

What strikes me now about this story, looking back on it, is our willingness to get out of our comfort zone and reach out to complete strangers, and then the openness with which we were greeted upon doing so. We took a leap and were met with open arms.

We’re in Austin now, and have been for almost a year, and we’ve again returned to that deep desire for connection to others. This time, though, we’re having a hard time getting out there. Unfortunately, a large part of the problem (for me) is my fear and anxiety surrounding my health. Just the other day, we had made plans to go somewhere with some new people, and had to cancel due to how I was feeling. But sometimes, I’m stopped just by fear. Not of my health, but just of life. Of trying to relate to new people and putting myself out there. But fear has no use here, it’s only holding me back. It’s not keeping me safe. It’s keeping me from finding connection, from experiencing new things, and from making a home here.

I choose to believe we will find something like this group here in Austin. People with whom we connect and can share life’s ups-and-downs. The thing about wanting connection is that everyone else does too. What am I afraid of? We were greeted with open arms because all those couples were searching for exactly what we were searching for, too. I know that this will take time and that we’ll have to be willing to put ourselves out there and reach out to strangers, but it’s worth doing. Because relationships with others make life better.

Cooking Beef Tongue

I realized the other day that I never made a post about cooking beef tongue! I couldn’t just let it slide and deprive my readers (all three of them. Hi Mom! Hi Aron! And hi YOU!) of the pictures from that experience, so here it is:

According to The Paleo Mom, eating organ meat is important to the healing process. Really everyone should be eating it, but especially people who are eating healing diets for chronic illnesses. Read this post about the importance of eating organ mean, or offal, to learn more.

I bought a beef tongue at my local HEB recently and let it sit in the freezer for weeks, not knowing what to do with it. Determined to finally make it, I found this recipe for Beef Tongue and Onion Soup at the Primordial Table. I also came across this page for cooking beef tongue at The Curious Coconut and I really liked her detailed explanation of how to prepare it.

I wasn’t sure what I expected when I set out to buy beef tongue, but this wasn’t it…

This is what it looked like in the package after defrosting.
This is what it looked like in the package after defrosting.
And this is what it looked like after taking it out and scrubbing down really good.
And this is what it looked like after taking it out and scrubbing down really good. Wow, that’s a tongue.

Then it went into the crockpot with carrots and spices and water to cook on low for 8 hours, per instructions. Here’s what it looked like after those 8 hours were up:

All done slow-cooking!
All done slow-cooking!
Delicious...? Still unsure at this point.
Delicious…? Still unsure at this point.

Then came the part I was nervous about… peeling the tongue. Like I said earlier, I liked The Curious Coconut’s explanation of what to do with it (better than the recipe). She said the top layer will come off really easily, the bottom will be slightly more difficult, and it’s easier to do while it’s still warm. Here’s what that looked like:

Peeling the tongue...
Peeling the tongue…

This actually was easier than I thought it would be, so if you attempt it yourself, have no fear! The skin part of the tongue that I took off felt a lot like the material of a football or basketball. Kind of rubbery. Unfortunately, it still looked like a tongue at this point and I was hoping otherwise… But I cut it all up to go in the soup:

Tongue all cut up!
Tongue all cut up! Much less tongue-looking now.

The rest of the soup went pretty easy: slice onions, check! Cook onions, check! Add cooking liquid, beef broth, spices, and cut up tongue, and let cook together for 15-20 minutes.

4 large onions
4 large onions
Dutch oven full of onions. Now I want onion rings.
Dutch oven full of onions. Now I want onion rings.
The finished product. Doesn't look that great in picture, but tasted like good home-cooking.
The finished product. Doesn’t look that great in picture, but tasted like good home-cooking.

Turned out pretty darn good! Want to know what beef tongue tastes like? Roast. For real. I mean, the only somewhat noticeable difference was that the part with the top that still kind of looks like tongue has a slightly weird texture, but when it’s all cut up like this you can’t tell. It’s a muscle like “normal” meat, so it makes sense that it would have a really familiar taste and texture.

But seriously, this soup turned out to be pretty tasty! Give it a try! Or come to my house and I’ll make it for you (without telling you what it is ahead of time 😉 ).

Week 9 of the AIP

This past week, I was still dealing with the (mostly emotional) consequences of my diet deviation from week 8. I got back on track, for the most part, but am still having trouble with motivation and with trying to justify making small compromises to my diet. Also my cheat meal and my minor departures have definitely led to some stomach upset. Knew that was coming! But I have to keep reminding myself that every healthy decision is a victory.

This week has also been more of the same. I didn’t make any big, new, never-before-tried recipes this past week. I stuck with the familiar and comfortable: pot roast with carrots and gravy, salmon and asparagus, salad salad salad, tuna, blueberries, melon, more salad.

Things I’ve been reminded of in my journey to healing this week:

1. Food does not satisfy. When I’m craving bites of dark chocolate or sips of sugary drinks, I’m trying to satisfy something else inside me: a deeper hunger than for nutrition. Food cannot satiate that kind of hunger. There may be biological reasons I’m craving certain things, but for the most part, I’m trying to meet some need for something deeper within. I’m still working out for myself what this feeling is in me, but that is for another post. Although I may get a temporary, happy feeling from that bite of chocolate, it soon dissipates and leaves me craving more. Always more. I have to keep searching for a place of peace and contentment in those inner yearnings.

2. Planning ahead is key, and a lack of preparation leads to disaster. I ended up waiting until the last minute to prepare for an outing this past week, and in my scramble to get out the door, I failed to bring with me the appropriate snacks to keep me satisfied throughout the day. This led to more justifying and more compromises. Sure, I could have made worse decisions, but if I’d taken the time to plan ahead, I could have not deviated at all, which is a much stronger position. For me, compromises (even very small, healthy ones) almost always lead to more (and bigger) compromises. This is a truth I know about myself, and I can use that knowledge to make better decisions for the future. Knowledge is power, people!

3. In this time of justifying and lack of motivation, accepting and forgiving and loving myself is more important than ever. It’s easy to be proud of myself for my hard work when I’m making the “right” decisions, but when struggles show up, that’s when I have to put my self-kindness into action. That’s when it’s most important to do the hard work to stop the shaming cycle and stop replaying my mistakes over and over in my head.

Also this week, I started reading a book called [amazon text=Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequest&asin=0310329302]. It’s basically a book of essays about the author’s life and outlook of finding the joy in the little moments of everyday life. Sounds right up my alley lately. I’ve been enjoying it, getting little nuggets of wisdom and perspective-shifting from each story. Here’s a short-ish excerpt:

“But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets–this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience… This way of living and noticing and building and crafting can crack through the movie sets and soundtracks that keep us waiting for our own life stories to begin, and set us free to observe the lives we have been creating all along with even realizing it.”


TED Talk Tuesday: In Our Baby’s Illness, a Life Lesson

This short little video has a little bit of everything: hardship, science, hope. It’s only a little over 6 minutes, and if you’re not smiling at the end, I will be shocked!

I’ve been working on living a life with more joy. It’s not always people’s natural mode of thinking and living, but it’s a worthy goal. See how these parents dealt with and learned from their baby’s illness, and in turn, helped him and themselves live a better life.

“Consider what you have as a gift, and not only what you miss. And to consider what you miss just as an opportunity.”  –Roberto D’Angelo


Three happy things:

1. My friendship with BFFL (best friend for life!), Sarah. Our friendship has grown in some fun ways over the past year or two. She’s a friend that I can be totally silly with, without fear of judgment, and also a friend that I can be real with and will be real back. Friends like that are hard to come by and I’m grateful for our friendship.

2. Bella’s (our chocolate lab) drool strings. Those things bring me some frustration from time to time, but seeing her happy/dopey expression, tongue sticking out, drool dripping down, that’s a face you gotta love. She just wants to be near us and love us, and sometimes drool is a part of that package.

3. Our back deck. I had no idea when we bought this house how much I would love sitting on it, but I really do!


Feature image by Derek Swanson

Sweet Potatoes and Social Change

I woke up early this Sunday morning and couldn’t seem to go back to sleep. As is typical when lying awake in the night, thoughts relentlessly stir until you finally accept that the more you chase sleep, the faster it seems to run. So I got up. Although aggravating, sometimes this time of sleeplessness is a gift. I’m awake anyway, and I have nothing to do (without the temptation to feel guilty about it), so I do exactly what I feel like doing: reading, watching TV, online shopping, researching something interesting on the internet, mindful meditation (a great time for this although this practice has yet to stop feeling like a chore…), etc.

This morning I read for a bit and then got on the internet, and lo and behold, I found ANOTHER blog featuring a young woman combating my same autoimmune disease, ulcerative colitis, with diet and lifestyle changes. Every time I come across one, I enjoy flipping around the site and getting encouragement from another person making their own way to healing. The one I found this morning is called Sweet Potatoes and Social Change. The most recent post is guest-written by her sister who was diagnosed with the same disease. The willingness of both of these women to be vulnerable and put out encouragement and hope in the world drove me to share it here. No matter what struggles you’re facing in life, I hope you find your own path to healing and joy. And in the meantime, reading about others looking for the same thing might just help point you in a helpful direction.

From Sweet Potatoes and Social Change:


Self-Acceptance is Self-Improvement

Last night, Aron had to talk me out of a funk. I had let my feelings overcome me and lie to me yet again. I didn’t get much done yesterday around the house. And I didn’t go anywhere (not that I really needed to). Everywhere I looked, I saw failure. Things undone. Time squandered. Tasks unaccomplished.

That is my typical headspace. I easily fall into traps of feeling sorry for myself, expecting more from myself, and falling short of what I consider to be enough. I don’t know why I am this way. But these are the kinds of feelings and traps I’m trying to override and overcome.

Aron says that self-acceptance is self-improvement. That I don’t have to “improve” myself by getting more done in the day or always having perfect hair and nails, those efforts alone will ultimately lead to failure at some point. But working to accept myself unconditionally is improvement enough. So that is what I work towards.

Here are my three happy things for today:

1. I feel so blessed to have this time in my life that I am able to not have a job and work towards healing. And I am so grateful for Aron that he works so hard to make that possible and is completely accepting of me and with what I get done in a day.

2. Sunshine! It may be hot here, but every day has been so beautiful. And the fact that Austin heat is drier than Houston heat makes it even nicer.

3. All the progress I’ve made. This is the longest I’ve stuck to anything like this in my life. I’m not usually one to feel proud of myself or think that I’m strong, but I am proud and surprised by the strength in me that I’ve never really felt before. Even when I feel like I’m just barely hanging on… I’m still hanging on. That makes me happy.