Archives for posts with tag: travel

After all the appointments and labs and testing and we did manage to live it up in Austin and Waco. Because as Toodle said, “Mom, let’s jump into the fun!”


And so we did.


So did we stalk Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper? That’s the big question. And for an answer, I mean, define “stalk.” Actually, don’t do that because I’ll probably end up on some list somewhere. Ope, too late. I’m already on it.

So, if we define “stalk” as going to the market and perhaps craning our necks to see if they were there, then, yes, we totally stalked them.

But, alas, they were not there. The stop wasn’t a total waste, however. The store was beautiful. And I know they have the big silos now, but I gotta say I’m happy we saw the original location, where it all began.

Tree Trunk Tabletops

“K-Hubs” did a lot of shopping. He wanted to see all the things, and “he” bought an inordinate amount of home decor.

K-Hubs at Magnolia Market

I cannot even with how adorable and peaceful and relaxing and happy and BUSY that store was.

Magnolia Market Peaceful

I also love that K-Hubs took a picture of his ladies under the word “unexpected.” This photo op, he said, was totally planned because as far as his life went, the girls and I were not. Getting married and having children were completely unexpected. In fact, by the time we met, he had moved on from the idea of ever having a wife and children.


So there you have it. The girls and I were a “surprise.”

Back to unstalking. Okay, so, many people. Lots of crowding. So much to see.

One of the amazing sales associates totally played with the girls so “K-Hubs” could shop. Thank heavens because “K-Hubs” wanted to look at all the things a few times over.

We didn’t come away empty-handed. Please also notice my amazing photography skills.

Magnolia Market Storefront

We did get the skinny on what happens behind the scenes. For example, Chip is more likely to visit the store than Joanna, who is typically busy holding down the homefront. I believe they were filming while we were there, so neither Chip nor Joanna was in the store. One employee actually looked a little like Joanna, so I kept seeing her thinking, oh! There she is. Nope. Same employee. Still not Joanna.

What about prices? Well, “K-Hubs” scored some pretty sweet deals. Prices were totally reasonable.

We also stayed in nice hotels, especially in Austin. Although, I mean, honestly, who even cares about our hotels when we can talk Fixer Upper. But just so you know, Austin rocks some pretty amazing accommodations.

Palace hotel

Like this one. Toodle thought it was a castle. I kind of thought it was, too. “Queen Mama, we must dance,” she told me. So we did. We danced right there in the lobby. Labs and medical appointments were done. OVER. So, yes, we danced and celebrated, just the two of us, right there in the lobby in front of the highbrows. Because we could.

Palace Hotel 2

Queen Mama We Must Dance 1

And then we dined out for the first time since starting this new lifestyle. Whole Foods in Austin is like Grand Central Station. Place was huge. Okay, but this is the amazing part. I went to the meat counter, and still learning how to order for Toodle, I told the guy I wanted chicken or turkey with as few ingredients as possible. He said he had one in back but it wasn’t prepared and ready to be sold. Okay, I said, no worries. And then there was another kind right there. It had a few more ingredients. I said it would probably do for us. So I bought it.

Whole Foods Austin

As we moved around the salad bar, filling containers with fruits and veggies, this same guy came over to us, invited us back to the meat counter and pulled out the turkey from the back, had it prepped, and then gave us a sample. “I just think you’ll like this one better, and it will meet your dietary needs better.” Holy cow.

So then he took back the inferior meat we had just gotten and gave us the new stuff. Then he said, “I am going off shift, and I get to wow people, but I haven’t wowed anyone today. How about I wow you by giving you another package of this turkey for free?” Wow, in-freaking-deed. We got two pounds of meat for the price of one. Someone check my pulse.

Dining Out for the First Time

Guys, if you ever get a chance, dine at Whole Foods in Austin, Texas. It’s a madhouse. But it won’t disappoint.

Seriously, the girls thought it was Times Square. Their heads were exploding, what with the fancy hotels, amazing Magnolia Market, and Whole Foods.

And this has nothing to do with anything I have written so far, but on the way down, we hit crazy cold weather. During one lunch at a truck stop, the girls and I plopped ourselves in the back of the rented tank while K-Hubs sat out in the cold, in July, and ate his avocado chicken like the good husband and father he is. And this would be why we love K-Hubs.

K-Hubs takes One for the Team



We went to Austin, Texas in July to visit a dietician who specializes in autoimmunity, so this blog post has only been in my head for about 3.5 months. Probably it has simmered long enough.

We had hemmed and hawed about going to the clinic. The final blow was not that Toodle continued to lose her hair, but rather the eczema covering about 85% of her body. Warm summer months were around the corner, but extreme temperatures and humidity aggravated Toodle’s eczema so much so she had to stay indoors most of the summer. Poor kidlet. The eczema on the backs of her knees had turned her legs a deep shade of purple, as though sunburned, and her skin also vacillated between weeping and bleeding.

We had been doing all the “usual” stuff – homemade lotions (which did abate her symptoms somewhat), putting her in light layers, and keeping the AC on high. But, to quote Ghostbusters, “All right. Okay, the usual stuff isn’t working.” And I knew Bill Murray was right. There was no way we could send her to kindergarten in the fall covered in eczema that itched and bled and blistered.

So we filled out extensive paperwork and got in to see the dietician who could schedule us within the month. Um, yes, we’ll be there. Done.

During that time, Toodle continued to lose her hair, including eyebrows and some eyelashes. Her weight was still stagnant, and she was feeling extremely moody. Fully-body eczema? Can’t imagine why she would be moody. We kind of forgot about her hair, and even her food allergies seemed to take a back seat.

I still try to wrap my head around what it must be like to be five years old and manage alopecia, food allergies, and eczema, of which all are autoimmune responses. I wouldn’t do well, as evidenced by the number of Doritos, Dutch letters, and donuts that have at some point over the last 18 months been stashed away in my closet. Not to mention, the Costco muffins that are the size of my head.

I digress. I also just took a break to sneak a bite of Costco muffin while the kids are resting during quiet time. I will say, though, that I can no longer eat chips like I used to. I have read about people who start eating well and soon can no longer eat the junk food to which they were once accustomed. I am slowly falling into that category. Slowly.

I mentioned the paperwork was extensive, and I wasn’t joking. The clinic wanted to know about my pregnancy with Toodle, how she was delivered, whether I was Rh-negative and group B strep positive (yes and yes), and any illnesses she has had. They also wanted to know about our families’ health histories and Toodle’s emotional health. Although I was able to fill everything out, I had never looked at the information in that light before. Once I did, I saw a seemingly innocuous pattern of health that could easily lead to the problems she was experiencing. I also began to wonder how many other people in the world were unknowingly on the same path.

When we got to the clinic, I knew we were in good hands. I could just feel it. It was absolutely beautiful, and I didn’t take a single picture of it. And the staff! Omigosh, the nurse and dietician, I just cannot even with them. So cool. So sweet. So reassuring. After meeting Toodle and doing an initial patient check-in, the dietician and I did the consultation while K-Hubs took the girls around the complex. So not only was clinic beautiful but the people running it were able to accommodate a busy family of four, understanding the realities of having a 5-year-old patient. Toodle wouldn’t sit there indefinitely. And they didn’t expect her to.

I may have cried in the dietician’s office, telling her, “I’ll do anything you tell me to do. I don’t know how to care for my child. Things are wrong, but I don’t know what they are.” She confessed she had never worked with someone with alopecia, but she pointed out that because alopecia is an autoimmune disease, the problem is most likely in the gut rather than the scalp or hair follicle. As such, they would likely be able to help us. Makes perfect sense to me.

We fit the stereotypically functional medicine patient. We tried traditional medicine with traditional doctors and traditional treatments. Nothing worked. In fact, Toodle’s symptoms got worse, and the medicines to make her feel better actually made her sicker. Go figure. There just aren’t easy solutions for autoimmunity, and patients aren’t given a lot of hope. I just could not rest. It was nice to meet a dietician who specialized in autoimmunity and realize I didn’t have to settle.

Because we had rented a tank, also known as a Ford Expedition, and hotel rooms and packed four thousand cans of bone broth, we decided to make the trip worthwhile. If there was even a remote possibility of needing to run a test, we told the dietician to order it. If there was even a slight chance we would learn something about Toodle, we did it.

We ordered stool and urine tests (which we completed once we got home), a genetic marker test, and tests for histamine intolerance, vitamin D deficiency, bacterial infections, and yeast overgrowth.

We wanted a large rental car for Texas or a smallish rental van. We got a tank instead.

We wanted a large rental car for Texas or a smallish rental van. We got a tank instead.

When we got to the lab in the complex, I asked Toodle how she was feeling. “Will I cry, mama?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Only you can determine that.”

“I think I will just cry.”

Fair enough.

It took two of us to hold her in place while the phlebotomist drew the blood. At one point the line came out. The phlebotomist wanted to stop and suggested we just go to another lab somewhere around town if their location wasn’t open when we got back around to it.

Mamas, you should have seen the look on my face. There were no words. It wasn’t that I was mad at the phlebotomist. Just kind of panicked that she might stop collecting the samples. While Toodle continued to cry, I mustered, “We. Don’t. Live. Here. Must. Get. All. Blood. Now. Or. Trip. Will. Be. Null. And. Void.” So she asked if I was okay with her sticking my child again. I said, “I’ll be a good parent in about five minutes. For now, stick her and get everything you need. It is now or never.”

By George, we got the samples we needed. Later someone told me that in that moment I WAS being a good mother. Those were kind words. And it’s true that sometimes, many times, being a good parent means doing hard things. We are so proud of this kid. Toodle has managed her health better than most people we know. She just kind of leaves us speechless most of the time.

She was amazing!

She was amazing!

The dietician and nurse were simply amazing. The dietician did a phenomenal job of deciphering in the moment what tests were worth doing. The nurse did a wonderful job of helping me understand how to do the at-home kits (urine and stool to be done once we got back home and mailed directly to a lab). I may have left the kids with K-Hubs and followed her back into the clinic for a quick rundown on how to do the at-home tests. And then when I still didn’t get it, she explained it again. I may have also said, “You know, the kids are with K-Hubs right now. I have myself all to myself! This never happens. How about you explain it one more time, and talk slowly.” The nurse complied. That clinic? So my people. They just totally got it.

K-Hubs ended up helping Toodle complete most of the labs, not because I minded scooping poop, but because there were special mailing instructions. All the items had to be reassembled in a certain order or we ran the risk of altering the effectiveness of the labs or some such thing. Omigod, no. I’ll scoop the poop any day of the week. DO NOT MAKE ME HANDLE PACKAGES WITH SPECIFIC RESULTS-ORIENTED OUTCOMES THAT BECOME INVALID IF REPACKAGED INCORRECTLY. I cannot. So I didn’t. K-Hubs did. We sat in the bathroom collecting “data” for K-Hubs to mail to the labs. Livin’ the dream, we were.

Single friends once asked me what they should look for in a potential mate. I said, “You have to find someone with whom you can talk about poop and sex. If you can talk honestly about those two things, you will probably be just fine.” I stand by my advice.

Back at the clinic, we happened to be the only patients that afternoon, which was super awesome for the girls. We got amazing care, and they got the clinic to themselves. Also, did I mention the nurse explained the at-hone labs for me about three times? I did? Well, let me do it again for good measure. She patiently explained the at-home test kits to me without breaking a sweat.

We are totally biased, of course, but we feel like the clinic kind of saved our family. They are rational, practical, sensitive, kind-hearted women and men. Nothing suggested to us as a means for treatment was out in left field. It all made sense and was tailored to Toodle’s situation. I admit, I kind of didn’t want to leave. Aqua walls (if I remember correctly) and a white leather couch, be still my heart. The chi was amazing in there. From their recommendations, we have overhauled our lifestyle again. But it has been so worth it. In my next post, I’ll share what we learned from the tests and how we have responded.