Exploring Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Jeff Foxworthy kind of hit the nail on the head when he said his wife was a hypochondriac:

My wife and I, we love watching, like, Dateline, 20/20, those shows. But you know how every week they will feature a disease. And I swear to you, every week, no matter what the disease is, my wife has it.

There could be three people on the planet that have this disease, my wife is one of them. She just watches it going “I’ve got it.”

I have every one of those symptoms. I’m like “you do not have testicular cancer.”
You don’t even have testiculars.”
featured at http://www.quotesworthrepeating.com/quote-by/j/jeff-foxworthy/123-joke-by-jeff-foxworthy/#qJtf2AydiWJALOfC.99



It is really tough having diseases and disorders.

I mean, sure, it’s tough dealing with them.  But most of the time, it is hard figuring out which one is actually happening:

Is it an aura for a seizure?

Is it a panic attack?

Is it an SVT attack?

Is it a Celiac reaction?

Is it a hormone crash?

…could be any of these, a lot of the time.  Fortunately, I’ve been dealing with them all for so long, I kind of have them figured out by now.  For the most part.  If anything, I don’t tend to freak out as much as I used to, and that is helpful.  I don’t think I am going to die, so I got that goin’ for me.

Celiac, Epilepsy and SVT are all pretty under control.  I got it.

But the hormone problems…I just never found an answer for.  5 days during Ovulation, which are paralyzing pain episodes, stabbing pain through my pelvis, migraines, mood swings, vomiting from extreme pain, inability to eat without throwing up; debilitating fatigue, loss (not lack) of energy, and pretty crabby if I can’t help it…it’s just rough.  Then a couple days off, and then PMS 9 days before my cycle.  Same routine as ovulation.  But once the period begins, I feel normal again.  I can breathe easier by then.  And I have a few days until it begins again…


Me: “My periods are kind of…extreme.”

Doctor: “Try Tylenol.  Have you tried Tylenol yet?  Try Motrin and Tylenol at the same time.  See if that helps.”


It doesn’t help.  And I hate being dependent on pain killers just in order to survive the days.  It is frustrating, and it is demoralizing.  What I hear is, “We don’t know what is wrong with you, so manage the pain until you die.”

And that is not a solution.  Not for me.

I have tried diets, I have tried exercise, I have tried yoga, I have tried supplements, and last year I tried hormone therapy.  And that made everything so much worse.  The pain was unbearable, and it lasted for weeks every month.  The few days off were a godsend at that point.  I asked my doctor, and he said, “Hmm.  Try this one instead.” Which isn’t a solution, either.  I need something a little more scientifically structured than shooting in the dark.

Finally getting the term, Premenstrual Dysphonic Disorder is a breath of relief.

I can finally wrap my head around what is going on, and work on daily solutions to make my days more bearable.  I won’t feel helpless when I am paralyzed by pain that Motrin can’t touch, and I won’t feel like I am going crazy because…this is not “just PMS.”  This is something different.

Instead of looking at balancing my hormones, I am looking at balancing my serotonin levels.

Instead of feeling crazy, I feel like I have the strength to conquer this.

And damned if I’m not going to.


Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Like PMS, premenstrual dysphoric disorder follows a predictable, cyclic pattern. Symptoms begin in the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (after ovulation) and end shortly after menstruation begins.[8] On average, the symptoms last six days, with the most intense symptoms happening in the two days before through the day of the start of menstrual blood flow.[9]

Emotional symptoms are generally present, and in PMDD, mood symptoms are dominant.[8] Substantial disruption to personal relationships is typical for women with PMDD.[8]Anxiety, anger, and depression may also occur. The main symptoms, which can be disabling, include[10]

  • Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
  • Feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings or frequent crying
  • Lasting irritability or anger that affects other people
  • Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Food cravings or binge eating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling out of control
  • Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain

The symptoms occur during the week before menstruation, and go away once it starts. A diagnosis of PMDD requires the presence of at least five of these symptoms.[10]


caveat: I might not have this, since the doctors also diagnosed me with endometriosis 2 years ago, and I really don’t think that’s the case.  But crap, who knows by now.  At least this is something new to work with.




“Poetry. Beauty. Romance. Love. These are what we stay alive for.”



Last night I went to see “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and got caught up in the whole first 5 minutes of the film.

If you haven’t seen it, his mom dies.  You’re welcome.

Anyway, as I was watching the scene, I realized that my perspective has certainly changed over the years.  I think I was supposed to be identifying with Peter Quill in that moment: trying to figure out what was going on, angry that my mom was dying, isolated from humanity through the unbearable grief of death…

But in that moment all I could think of was the things I would want to tell Peter as his mother.

“Peter, this is going to be tough, and I can’t be here to help you anymore, so listen to me sweetie.  Death is painful…for you.  I won’t be in anymore pain after I die, but you will. You will have this pain like a rock inside of you that you can’t move.  You will feel like you can’t breathe with this rock sitting in your chest.  I want you to take some time to feel the rock, so you know what it is, and so you can let it go.  Take time to write all your questions to God on the rock.  Go ahead and ask Him why this had to happen: it’s okay to ask.  Write down all the betrayal you feel, every tear of grief and lay it on top of the rock.  And when you are ready, go down to the ocean and put the rock on the shore with the rest of the rocks.  Let the waves come and go over your toes.  And you can remember me there.  But when you turn around to return home, I want you to be the best man you can be.  Be kind to those who hurt.  Be loving to those who are angry.  Be forgiving to the bitter.  Because you understand what it feels like, and you know how much pain we all are in.  And you can be their smile when they forgot how to smile.

Peter, life isn’t always going to be fair, and I am sorry for that.  But you will never regret being too kind or too loving.  Make sure you see the people around you who you can love, and make sure you let them love you back.



Death is so final.

Most of my family has died.  There is nothing I can do to bring anyone back.  And I spent a lot of time sitting at the desk, so to speak, staring out the windows trying to find answers to the “whys” of death.

But after I became a mother, my perspective has definitely changed.

I looked down at the people sitting in the desks staring hopelessly out the window, and I at want to find the words to make sense of things.  At least the best as humanly possible in the face of ethereal pickles.

The death of both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams are tough.

Both of them brought so much beauty and joy through their art, it is agonizing to think that there is nothing we can do to bring them back.  I can’t write them a letter and tell them that millions of people love them.  I can’t reassure them that sometimes life hurts, but if they need to talk to someone, someone will always be there.

I can’t tell them these things, but I can tell the people around me…I can love them, and help them with their rocks that are keeping them at their desks.

And maybe, if I extend my hand to them, maybe I can help them stand on the desk too.

You never know.


Easy Saturday Science Project: Walking Water

I saw this on Pinterest, and it was just a quick science project we could have going during the day, so we gave it a shot!

Walking Water!

It’s pretty (ridiculously) easy:  You need 3 cups, 2 paper towels and some food coloring.  The goal is to watch the water “walk” up the paper towels and transfer into the middle cup.

caveat: This projects takes forever.  For. Ev. Er.  So, it’s not only a lesson in physics, but also one in patience.

1) Take the cups and put them next to each other.  Put a few drops of food coloring in the outside cups and stir in some water.  We did yellow and blue so we could make green!


2) This is after about half an hour.  It’s fun to watch the water walking across the paper towels.  You’ll find yourself saying things like: “I’m so glad this is working.”


3) This is after about 2 hours.  It takes a while.


4) This is after 3 hours…we are finally starting to get some green in the middle!


5) This is after a couple hours…maybe 5.  I stopped checking exactly a few hours ago. I’m just glad we’re getting a puddle in the middle cup at this point.


6) I took this picture before I went to bed at 11pm, so it has been about 12 hours by now.


7) This is when I woke up…I think this is all we’re going to get.  The blue transferred itself over more than the yellow for some reason, but we have a nice emerald green in the middle!  IMG_8017


Anyway, this is a fun project to do with the kids  🙂  Here are some lesson sheets on diffusion vs. osmosis if you want to ramp it up!

Osmosis png  for blog



















Featured Blog Friday: One Day App




I met the people behind One Day App at BlogHer14, and I was texting people about it as soon as I left their booth. (they don’t know this, but I totally was)

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 8.43.50 AMSince then, I have made a number of friends download the app and check it out, and all of us are blown away by how awesome this app is…

Okay, so here’s the deal with One Day App:

It is a video app where you have a bunch of subjects to choose from, and questions about the subjects to ask your kids, and then you take a video of your kids answering the questions.

It is a very simple concept, but it is just done so beautifully, I have to tell everyone about it.

As a parent I want to soak in as much of my kids’ childhood as I can.  Oh sure, I totally have their “baby journals” to write in (because we all remember to write in them, right?).  But writing down little things I remember won’t capture who they are right now.

Right now, they are excited about finding a quarter under the couch, and I get to hear about their plots to buy out Target’s toy section with this amazing amount of money.  Right now, they can build pretty amazing forts in the backyard with all the blankets I just washed (it’s cool, forts are important!).  Right now they are worried about their busted Rapunzel dolls, or their Legos that are fused together.  This will not always be the case.  Soon, they are going to worry about college, or debt, or their health, or their own children.

Those days will come.  One day they will be adults with their own families, and one day they will steal moments out of the day to just stare at their children and smile like an idiot at how beautiful they are…

but today, I will laugh with them when they are grossed out when they catch frogs in ponds.  Today I will comfort them when their heart is broken.  Today I can still burp louder than they can…not that we compete with this.

But one day, I will be older and they will be older, and I will want to revisit the days of swimming at the lake during the summer and remember how they sang little songs to their Barbies who suddenly became mermaids.  One day, I will need to hear their stories about what their Lego men are accomplishing in their Lego village upstairs.

I was enamored with this app because it seamlessly captured these moments for me.  I don’t like to use things that are complicated, or ugly, or useless.

One Day app is easy to use, it is very quick to use, and you can upload the videos to your camera roll, or share them, with one touch.  That is what I appreciate the most: it makes these moments very easy to save.


Here’s how I made some videos:

1.  Go through the subjects they have in the menu, and touch the one you want


2. Record A Video: Here are a few videos I did with the kids.  We did the questions, “What animal would you be, and why?” and “Why does God love me” with a final, “What do you want for your birthday.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.00.08 AM

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 9.53.05 AM



3. Save, Share or Watch the Video:  This part is very easy, and very quick.  It takes about 30 seconds to save the video, and you can watch it immediately!



So there ya go!  It is a very easy app to use, and you can incorporate it with a million things.  Use it for school projects, homeschool presentations, stories your kids come up with, fashion shows, candid moments, or attach a video to an email for family who live far away…

I really liked finding this.  If anything, go try it out and play around with it!


Here Are Places To Find One Day App:

Cost: Free

Download OneDayApp: http://www.onedayapp.com/

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/LegacyBuildr  (weird, I know. Our name used to be LegacyBuildr with a different product)- Changed the name to keep “likes” but couldn’t change URL





It has been my pleasure to meet Clint Lee and the One Day App staff!  Thanks guys!!


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers, and I was the one who sought them out because I believe in what they are doing.  The monetary part keeps it professional between us, and we’re not “buddies.”  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Featured Blog: JoyFoodly.com, with Chef Hollie!

I heard about JoyFoodly.com from a fellow blogger at BlogHer14, and I was blown away by the site.

A well constructed site?  About food?  For kids?  And it doesn’t look cheesy, it is actually informative and interesting??  This is too good to be true.  I texted the site to people before I left the conference, demanding that they check it out.  I was that impressed by it.

Bonus: all the recipes are gluten free.

Obviously, I had to do a Featured Blog about JoyFoodly, and the amazing woman behind it, Chef Hollie!  I have a little bit of bio for you, a little information about the company, an incredible interview she gave me, and a cooking video she sent over at the end!





Chef Hollie Greene
Founder | JoyFoodly 
Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 4.03.39 PM

What is the Joyful 12™?
The Joyful 12™ is Chef Hollie Greene’s online crash course for eating in season. It helps
families joyfully get more vegetables and fruits into their diets for all 12 months of the
year, from savory winter squash, to spring artichokes, to summer okra, and sweet fall

The Joyful12 is delivered as an online kitchen learning lab—families can choose to dip
into the lab for one or more seasons or for the full year.

Who is Chef Hollie?

As a classically trained chef, Chef Hollie Greene has taught over 2,000 children in New
York and California to love eating fruits and vegetables through her work with non-profit
programs and in partnership with Rachael Ray’s Yum-O!, Mayor Bloomberg, and Mary J.
Blige. She is a Professional Expert for the State of California’s Healthy CA Kids Initiative
and has worked as an Education Director for The Sylvia Center and Chef-in-Residence
in NYC public schools. Prior to attending the French Culinary Institute in New York City,
she spent ten years creating global leadership development programs, where she taught
thousands of adults. These experiences infuse her fun and positive approach to helping families gain confidence in the kitchen.



Q: Where did you start your career as a chef?  What was your inspiration?

Hollie: It all started on a cooking vacation in Tuscany almost seven years ago. I had recently gone through a divorce, and this was a trip I had always wanted to take, so I went. Every day, I cooked with twenty other adults at a 15th century estate outside of Lucca Italy. We learned simple dishes that were loaded with flavor and seasonal ingredients. There is something about getting your hands into food. It’s very healing. In a corporate setting you are using your mind a lot but in the kitchen, you take something from a raw ingredient and you work with it to create this beautiful outcome that gives people a lot of pleasure. When I returned from that trip, I was at a crossroads. It dawned on me that everyone on the trip had been in their late 50s and 60s and yet it was the first time they had experienced extremely simple healthy cooking that was delicious. I kept coming back to the same thing. I teach people leadership development in my corporate job. I connect them with information to improve their lives. Why couldn’t I do this with children? Why couldn’t I teach kids about the joy of understanding what a balanced relationship with food is like. It’s as simple as that.

(me: how awesome is this answer.  Seriously.) 

Q: How long did it take for you to become a professional chef?  

Hollie: I attended the French Culinary Institute in New York City, in their classic culinary arts program. I worked 40-50 hours during the day at my job with a financial firm in Human Resources, and at night I went to culinary school three nights a week. It was a grueling nine months, and I loved every moment of it.

Q: Did you cook a lot as a child?

Hollie: I could make a mean mud pie, but no, I didn’t cook a lot as a child, mainly because my mom’s kitchen was her domain and she didn’t like us getting in the way of her magic making. However, my mom is the reason I fell in love with food. She is an eccentric, Southern beauty that was an amazing cook. She really yummed food for us. I didn’t even know we had the option not to like it—with all that oohing and ahhing about what a great cook she was! Even at eight years old, I knew that food was love.


Q: If a kid asked for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?

Hollie: When you cook, always make sure to have fun. Smell each ingredient, taste it as you cook it, from its raw to its cooked state. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes. Food really is friendly and don’t forget that you are smarter than the food, so if you do burn the onions, they won’t yell at you! Next time, you’ll know the perfect time to stop the cooking process so they won’t burn again.

Q:I have Celiac, so I was very excited to find that JoyFoodly was a gluten free site!  Why did you choose to focus on gluten free cooking recipes?

Hollie: Today, so many of us struggle with one form or another of food intolerance, allergy, or food related disease. I am personally gluten intolerant, which was revealed to me by blood tests that looked for genetic markers, which I had several! Since removing gluten from my diet, I have felt significantly better mentally and physically. I want JoyFoodly to be a place where families can learn easy, delicious recipes that will nourish their loved ones, always keeping in mind that even when you do have a food you need to avoid, there can still be joy in eating, and cooking food for yourself is truly the best way to know what’s going into your body. All of our recipes are tested gluten free, and in our Joyful 12 Kitchen Learning Lab, we also let families know if they are vegan, egg, nut, or dairy free, and make recommendations on how to modify the recipe if they are not.

Q: What are your four favorite foods to work with, and why?

Hollie: I love to cook with whatever is in season now because it’s going to be at its ripest, juiciest and tastiest now. Also, buying fresh produce in season will save you money. Especially living in California, we’ll benefit from the surplus of seasonal produce that grocery stores need to move out before it spoils. For summer, my favorites from our Joyful 12 are tomatillos, corn, eggplant, okra, bell peppers and tomatoes. I always have olive oil, some sort of citrus (limes or lemons) good salt, and a fresh herb in what I make.

Q: What is the best way to serve eggplant?

Hollie: Great question! It depends on the type you’re using. I love the Chinese variety that’s smaller, light purple colored, and fast to cook with. I love to sauté the eggplant on high heat with a Vidalia onion and some salt. At the end of cooking, I throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar. It’s divine and so easy. Although, the other day I ate some eggplant sautéed and then thrown into a curry coconut broth and now my creative juices are working overtime to figure out exactly what that chef put into his dish.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 kitchen utensils would you want with you?

Hollie: That’s fun. Well, a knife, clearly! Next, I’d say a sauté pan to cook in and some sort of wooden spoon to cook with, and let’s face it, if I got four choices, it’d have to be a wine opener in case some wine ships ashore as I’m daydreaming!

(me: she totally wins this interview, I’m not even kidding.)

Q: What would you ultimately like to achieve with JoyFoodly?

Hollie: I’d love to change our food culture in this country. I don’t believe in kid food! I know that kids can learn to try and enjoy a variety of foods, including the exciting world of vegetables and fruits. But mainly, I’d love for our country to shift from a love/hate relationship with food to one where kids grow up knowing that junk food is a sometimes thing and nourishing food is a lifetime thing. Did I mention JOY?! Food is pleasure.

Q: Who is your ideal audience for JoyFoodly?

Hollie: A family with children who would love to know simple ways to cook and get their kids excited to try and learn to love a variety of vegetables and fruits—as part of an overall nourishing and joyful relationship with food.

Do you have a guilty comfort food, and are you willing to share this with us?

Hollie: I’m Southern, so we by definition do not feel guilty in the least in completely relishing everything that’s tasty in relation to food! Let’s see. I confess I have a popcorn habit (with butter). I’m Irish and can’t pass up a good potato dish, and in general I adore comfort foods like my homemade pimento cheese, a medium rare lamb chop, and a juicy tomato sandwich with good mayo slathered on all sides.


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Thank you so much Chef Hollie at JoyFoodly.com!!


(This is not a sponsored post. I just did it because it’s awesome.)

Why Lauren Bacall Is My Girl


The first time I saw Lauren Bacall was in “How To Marry A Millionaire,” which my Dad had given to me on VHS.

The movie had 3 knockout women playing the leads: Betty Grable, Marilyn and Lauren Bacall.

I knew Betty Grable, thanks to a “Going Steady With Betty” marathon sometime in the 90s.  She’s super sweet, and you can’t  not love Betty.   And, of course, Marilyn.  Marilyn is Marilyn…you don’t need many words for her.


But this other woman I didn’t know just stole the movie and made it her own.  She had this husky voice I think she stole from a woodland nymph in the depths of German  Black Forests, piercing blue eyes that could peel the flannel off a lumberjack, and a confidence I’m sure Gen. Patton would have shrank from….I loved it.


 But when I looked into her biography, I loved her even more.

On September 16, 1924, Lauren Bacall, the only daughter of Jewish immigrants, William Perske (a relative of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres) and Natalie Weinstein-Bacal was born in New York City. She was christened Betty Joan Perske. Even until today, her close friends still address her as Betty.

They were a middle class family with her father working as a salesman and her mother as a secretary. For the first five years, Betty lived in Brooklyn with both parents, but her world changed when her parents divorced. Her father got into his car and left the house for good.” (laurenbacall.com)

She didn’t give a rats behind what anyone thought about her.  When she married Bogart, she stopped working as often so she could stay home and raise their kids.  Bogart said they didn’t even talk about it at the time: they were both “old fashioned people” and they walked in step with each other throughout their marriage.

“I put my career in second place throughout both my marriages and it suffered. I don’t regret it. You make choices. If you want a good marriage, you must pay attention to that. If you want to be independent, go ahead. You can’t have it all.”  -Lauren Bacall

During her marriage to Bogart, Lauren Bacall starred in only one film per year. The pair co-starred in three more films (The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo), and had two children together, Stephen and Leslie. In 1957, Bogart died of lung cancer. Bacall was devastated. After a brief and disastrous fling with Frank Sinatra, including a very brief engagement, Bacall went east to return to her very first love, the theatre. “I finally felt that I came into my own when I went on the stage,” she says.” (biography.com)

I just love that she was always pursuing “coming into her own” during her life.  This meant marrying a guy 25 years older than she, because it was the right thing for her, or even that it might have stunted her career because she was now “Bogie’s wife” to the studios.

Bacall was a force.  A force of woman.  A woman who had a career, a marriage, children and an identity of her own.  How can you not love and admire all of this.

Before long, Bacall again placed her focus on her personal life. She married again in 1961, this time to Jason Robards, Jr. The couple soon had a son named Sam. During her second marriage, Bacall starred in relatively few films. Bacall and Robards were divorced in 1969, and, shortly after, Lauren Bacall was approached to play the lead role in a new Broadway musical, Applause, which was based on the 1952 film All About Eve. Despite not being a singer, Bacall accepted the role. She was a great success, and earned a Tony for Best Actress. She won her second Tony in 1981 for a semi-autobiographical role in the play Woman of the Year.(biography.com)

What gets me the most about Bacall is her opinions.  Because a lady has two things: good shoes, and radical opinions:

She told Vanity Fair that “I don’t think anybody that has a brain can really be happy. What is there really to be happy about? I had a good growing-up life, I would say, but I wasn’t really happy, because I was an only child, and I wasn’t part of a whole family—what we in America consider the proper family, a father and a mother and child, which, of course, is a big crock, we know—and yet I had the greatest family anyone could wish for in everyone on my mother’s side. So what you think is happy? Happy shmappy.”” (biography.com)

She just cracks me up.

I like a woman who knows herself.



Tennant of Wildfell Hall: Chapter 1

1. The story starts very firmly in the summer of 1827.  What are some things that were happening in Britain in 1827?  How was the social landscape, at the time?

2. Why did the story start out with “My father”?

3. The narrator spent a good, long paragraph in the beginning telling the reader what his father wanted him to do in life.  How do you think this might set the tone for the rest of the book?

4. It is interesting that the narrator would then spend the rest of the chapter describing his sister, and what she looked like, and his mother, and what she was doing.  It seems to me that the female perspective of the author overcomes the male perspective of the narrator in this sense.  What do you think?

5. After the mother spoke with Mrs. Graham, she said Mrs. Graham “betrayed a lamentable ignorance on certain points, and had not even the sense to be ashamed of it…On household matters, and all the little niceties of cookery, and such things, that every lady ought to be familiar with.”  What do you think about this?

6. In the church, the “old family pew” of Wildfell Hall had “faded crimson cushions and lining which had been unpressed and unrenewed so many years, and the grim escutcheons, with their lugubrious borders of rusty black cloth, frowned so sternly from the wall above.”  How does this description set the tone for Mrs. Grahams entrance into the story?

7. The narrator spent a good amount of time describing the rest of the characters after church.  Why would he do this?