Yucky Gut Disease

For those with a weak stomach, capsule this post isn’t for you. I’m a nurse, ed so gross body talk kinda turns me on. I know — I’m weird. Okay, here it goes. Weak stomachs and children should turn off now.

Last week I was traveling for work — drove down to DeQueen, Arkansas, for three days meeting with physician and community partners on the cardiac disparities project that I’m doing. DeQueen has a cute little downtown square, and the people are really down-home good ole folks. But one thing it is lacking is healthy restaurant options. Besides fast food and several Mexican food places, there is only one option, Stillwell’s. I ate at Stillwell’s four times in three days. So needless to say, my diet wasn’t too healthy those three days. Then my stomach started hurting on Friday morning. Bad. Really bad.

photo(25)Friday was also the big event — the 2013 DeQueen Senior Citizen’s Appreciation Day. The 32nd annual DeQueen Senior Citizen’s Appreciation Day. It’s a big deal there. The old folks came out in droves. About 500 of them. They had a band, a dude smoking chicken to serve everyone, and lots of health screening opportunities for the seniors. The company that I work for, Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, had a booth set up promoting the Million Hearts initiative. Anyway, I felt crappy the entire day. It felt like someone was punching me in the stomach over and over doubling me over in sharp stabs. But it wasn’t constant, so I managed to make the best of it and have a pretty fun day. Then I drove back home. By the time I got home at 4 p.m., I was shot. Went straight to bed and texted my sweet husband to pick up M from school for me.

So now the nurse in me really kicks into gear trying to diagnose me. I wasn’t constipated — pooped plenty. (WARNED YOU!) I was peeing good too. My stomach was bloated, hard and tender to the touch. Maybe it was something I ate. Blame DeQueen. Blame travel. I’m home now — surely this will pass.

Saturday was so-so. Sunday was better. Monday was great. VICTORY! Yeah, wrong. Woke up this morning back to the stomach punches. So I went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with diverticulitis. But how can this be? I eat fiber. Lots of fiber. I even eat my kale and other weird green vegetables that I get in my CSA basket each week. photo(24)I drink my Arbonne shakes and add the Fiber Boost. I add probiotics to my drinks. As a former obese person, I really try to watch what I eat most of the time. When I do eat junk, I try to keep the portion small. I don’t exercise much, but otherwise, I shouldn’t have this problem.

So here I am at home today — in my jammies, on two antibiotics and a medicine for nausea — hoping and praying to feel normal again. I’m on a bland diet and drinking lots and lots of water and Arbonne Fizz Stick (I’m addicted). The doctor is going to call me tomorrow, and we’ll discuss next steps. I have a history of gut issues, so hopefully I won’t have to blog about a colonoscopy soon.

more wedding photos

family of five our blended family

img_8518 the mothers

img_8603M listens intently to the ceremony

img_8543Russell and Chris provided the perfect musical backdrop

img_8847 Mr. and Mrs. Anthony K Valley

img_9032 Our Black-White-Hispanic family!

Long vs Short Hair follow-up

COMPROMISE — medium hair. 923323_10151646575921963_1388658366_n Since Anthony likes my curls, help I decided to just cut about 3 inches off and add more layers. It’s off my neck which was my main goal. I mean, order that thick hair hanging around my neck was like wearing a wool scarf in July. I love my new cut. Natalie Carr at Salon on the Hill is awesome.

God-Sized Dreams

This morning at Fellowship North, phlebologist one of our pastors Taido Chino shared about the big dream that God placed in his heart more than 10 years ago — pursuing a PhD in Theology. He announced that after overcoming a series of obstacles and getting several confirmations from various people, more info he and his family will be moving to Scotland in a few months to attend one of the top theology schools on the planet. He challenged us all with: How Big A Dream Can You Dream?

I’ve had the privilege to visit Italy three times. The first time in 1989 when I spent a semester of my junior year of college at the University of Amsterdam. I took the train down to Florence, cialis 40mg Italy, to spend a few days with a friend of my father’s during my spring break.

The second time was a magical week in 1999 for my cousin Amy’s beautiful wedding in Civita di Bagnoregio in the Umbria region. During that week, I also traveled to Rome, Pisa and Florence. That week still stands as one of the best of my life. Bagnoregio

Then the last trip I made to Italy was in April 2012 (see previous blog post) with my sweet daughter M. During those ten days, we spent time in Venice, Levanto, the Cinque Terre, Lucca, Ghivizzano, and others. Again, another amazing vacation.

Something extraordinary happens to me in Italy. First the days seem to last for 48 hours — seriously time moves at half-time. I am so at ease there. I enjoy fumbling my way through the language and getting lost along the narrow roadways. My goal in each little town I visit is to find out where the locals go for pizza. Forget the tourist trap restaurants — give me the 5 Euro pizza that tastes like heaven. The people of Italy are friendly and treasure family. They enjoy an after-dinner stroll through town — seriously everyone gets out for a walk at night. It’s divine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo needless to say, my God-sized dream is to one day live in Italy. I had a plan in place to retire from the Public Health Service about the same time M graduates high school, sell everything and move over there. But then that plan blew up when I decided to separate from the service and move back to Arkansas to be with my mom following her heart surgery. But I know God has a better plan. I married Anthony, and we have a lovely life together. But that desire for Italy is still there. I shared it with Anthony this morning at church, and (poor guy) I’ve been talking about it all day today.

I’m going to drop it for now — mostly cause I know that God won’t forget and that he has an awesome plan for Anthony and me together. Who knows — it may just include living among Italians, eating pizza, and taking evening strolls for a gelato.

Short vs Long Hair

2nd grade picI’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. It’s thick and naturally curly — or on days like today, esophagitis naturally big and fuzzy. So starting in high school, anaemia I’ve mostly worn it in various forms of short. My favorite is a pixie — sorta like a white girl Halle Berry (minus the hot bod). But about a year and a half ago, decease I decided to let it grow out long one more time before I get “old.” But days like today (hot and humid — the norm in Arkansas) make me long for that short crop. My sweet new husband is amenable. He thinks I’m cute no matter what. (I really lucked out with this guy!) So I’m seriously considering going back.

Here is my hair, May 2011: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Here it is now: img_2115


What do you think?

Lum & Abner Jot ‘Em Down Store & Museum


Today, more about I drove to Mena for a work thing and passed this neat little store in Pine Ridge, Arkansas. I didn’t have time to go inside and check it out, but hopefully I can next time. I love traveling my home state of Arkansas. Not only is it a beautiful state, it’s full of interesting, little places like this one.

Arkansas natives Chet Lauck and Tuffy Goff were two of the most popular radio personalities in America during the 30s and 40s. In addition, they also did a series of popular movies based on the colorful characters. The museum contains “Lum & Abner” radio and movie memorabilia, museum; old-time small town atmosphere in two general stores that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in the early 1900s.

Farm to Table Mother’s Day Lunch


Two weeks ago, help we visited the Scott Heritage Farm to see our CSA up close — including a flock of ducks. Well guess what was in our CSA basket yesterday? Yep, more info a duck. Luckily Barbara also sent instructions on how to finish plucking it and then roasting it. IMG_9185So today for Mother’s Day, I’m roasting my first duck. M enjoyed helping me prepare the duck. And she was full of questions: Where’s the duck’s head? Why did the farmer kill the momma duck? Are all the ducks dead?

IMG_9195I also prepared a kale salad with Parmesan, raisins and pine nuts.

Author: Food Babe
Serves: 2
  • 1 bunch of lacinato or dinosaur kale, stems removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • ? cup currants (or chopped raisins)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp local honey
  • ½ cup pine nuts toasted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp grated raw parmesan cheese
  1. In a food processor, process kale into small chopped pieces
  2. To make dressing, stir lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together in a large bowl
  3. Add chopped kale, currants, pine nuts and parmesan to bowl with dressing
  4. Stir all ingredients together and serve
  5. (Optional – Save some pine nuts and/or parmesan cheese for top of salad before serving for presentation purposes)

Finished duck was actually pretty good. But not worth the effort, so probably won’t be making it again anytime soon. cookedduck

Wedding Party Pics

One of my favorite parts of our wedding was the party pic corner. Sarabeth was our photographer extraordinaire. And she totally delivered! These photos are better than I ever imagined. I’m going to put them all into a Shutterfly book along with the “real” wedding photos that Niguel took. Here are a few of my faves:

valley-2  valley-3

Words of advice. Wonder what they mean???


They took the “party” in party pic seriously.

valley-7   valley-5

Love these people! Our wedding wouldn’t have been as special (or fun) without them.

Teacher Appreciation Cookies

9IMG_9166 M and I made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for her teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. M’s favorite part of cookie making is licking the bowl at the end. (Just like her mom!)

Not 1000 miles away…

9IMG_9157This time last year, mind M and I were living in Maryland. I had a great job, cialis sale and we had lots of close friends, symptoms but it just wasn’t home. We missed out on Sunday after-church lunches at my parents’ house and play dates in the park with my brother and his family. M loves her cousin Champ. So today on a whim, we met up with Champ and some other friends at the park by their house. It’s just a five minute drive there now — not 1000 miles away. The kids had a blast — and I think the adults did too.