Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 17 of 21

I feel great! I went back to Enhanced Wellness yesterday and it was determined that I had lost 4.5 lbs of fat. I've also lost a half pound of muscle, so I need to work to get it back. They all commented that I looked thinner. I hope they weren't just being polite.

The bad news is that the blood work they did (several vials worth) was analyzed and processed and Kelly went over the report with me. It was not good. There were several categories, with columns for high risk (red), moderate risk (yellow) and optimum (green). Most of my labs landed in the red column. Ouch.

I'm knocking on the door of diabetes and heart disease. How can that be when I feel so good? Well, there are things going on in my body--bad things. Things that are brewing and building up to a coronary episode.

Unless I work to turn it around, and that's exactly what I'm doing.

So, this 21-day detox/cleanse is just the beginning of the way I'll have to live the rest of my life. My days of cookies and cake and ice cream are over.

I went to cover Michelle Obama's visit to Clinton today and listened to her and Rachael Ray talk about feeding kids nutritious foods and how it will help them excel in school, then in life. I'm jumping on that bandwagon! (By the way, being on the White House press list was pretty cool!) My article about her visit will be in the April issue of eat.drink.Mississippi magazine.


I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 15 of 21

No, you didn't miss a day...I did. I just didn't blog yesterday. It was a busy day from beginning to end and I just didn't find or make time.

But I'm doing great!

I had a guest for breakfast, and I made a wonderful omelet for both him and Larry. Sauteed onions and red bell pepper, a handful of fresh spinach and chopped mushrooms, and a sprinkling of chopped tomatoes and feta cheese. I used four eggs and split it in half. No, I didn't eat a bite--eggs are not on this 21-day cleanse.

I also made our guest toast using sprouted Ezekial bread, along with some Trader Joe's pumpkin butter. No bread for Larry or me.

Finally, I made a big fruit bowl with apples, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, rasperries and bananas. You guessed it, that's what I ate.

Both Larry and our guest had coffee. I made a pot of tea and was perfectly satisfied.

For lunch, I made Larry a piece of tilapia topped with fresh tarragon and lemon slices, steamed broccoli and a green salad. I can't eat fish, so I substituted a cup of the Indian bean soup for the fish. I got my protein from the black eyed peas in the soup.

We went out to dinner with my Dad last night. We chose Aladdin, because they have several menu options that Larry and I can eat. Larry chose the chicken schwarma salad with a side of tabouli, and I had the sauteed veggie plate with rice. We normally take a bottle of wine with us to Aladdin, but last night it was water and lemon. I left full and very satisfied.

Tomorrow I go back in to Enhanced Wellness for a follow up to see how I'm doing. I can't wait to see how my numbers are doing and what the scales say!

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 13 of 21

I admit it. I'm craving a burger. A big fat juicy burger from The Blue Rooster in Flora would be awesome today. But since they don't serve grass fed beef, and I'm not eating bread right now, I'll pass.

I've gone through about three dozen organic lemons so far. At a dollar a lemon, the lemon juice I'm squeezing is more expensive than the wine I drank pre-detox. I hope my liver is happy.

This past week has nearly driven me to drink--but it hasn't. My day got off to a bad start Wednesday when I discovered water dripping down my bathroom wall and puddling on the floor. Seems our water heater was going out. About $900 later, we have a new water heater in our attic. Come see her--she's a beauty! I had a lot of work all week, so that's a good thing, but it kept me busy as I raced to make deadlines. Finding time to prepare appropriate detox meals was a challenge, but I managed to do it. I even cooked for Larry.

As we see the last days of winter, I am grateful I live in the South, and not where all that snow is that I see on TV. We've certainly had our share of rain, but I'm hoping for sunnier days ahead so that I can get outside and work in the yard. I am feeling very sedentary and need to move!

The good thing is that I don't ever really feel hungry and my craving for carbs and sweets is going away. I'm actually looking forward to going to the grocery store later today to load up on more produce for the coming week.

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 12 of 21

What a difference a few days makes. Sometimes, all it takes is finally making up your mind to do something. I had made up my mind. Knowing I had the support and encouragement from the folks at Enhanced Wellness certainly helped. And then there's the accountability. I have to go back on Tuesday to check my progress. I want them to be happy with my progress.

But ultimately, the only person I need to please is myself. And I am pleased. I'm no longer puffy from water retention/ My face looks slimmer. My pants aren't as tight. I have a long way to go, but I've gotten a good, strong start.

Having a "buddy" to go through this with is great. NancyKay Wessman and I are going through the same program at the same time, so it's nice to be able to pick up the phone and ask how she's doing or get feedback on recipes tried, etc.

I'm deviating from just diet talk this morning to pay tribute to a wonderful person who lost her battle with cancer yesterday. Norma Carroll Ezell passed away yesterday. She was Nicole and Joseph's third grade teacher, and she new perfectly how to handle two kids who didn't exactly "fit the mold." We have always given her credit for discovering Nicole's acting abilities. She celebrated it by putting Nicole in every classroom skit and stage play the entire school year. It was that year that Nicole was cast in the PBS series "Funnybones" as one of three child actors. She recognized that Joe was with the wrong teacher when he was in the third grade and helped us get him transferred to her class, where he thrived. When both of them look back to the people who were their real champions, Norma Carroll Ezell will be on that list. She'll be missed.

I'm heading into another weekend...lots to do, including cleaning the house. I'm going to call that exercise!

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 11 of 21

Today marks the halfway point--more days behind me than ahead of me!

Here's an update:

I feel great! I'm eating delicious, clean food and I'm losing weight. My energy is increasing daily and I can tell a difference in my skin--it looks better, too!

Larry is also doing a 17-day intensive as I'm doing this 21-day detox. His diet and mine don't always jive. He can drink coffee, I can't. We are both to drink green tea. He can eat fish, I can't. I can eat legumes, he can't. I can't eat potatoes, he can't.

No worries. I can cook for both of our diets, because it's so important for both of us to be healthy. Last night's dinner for Larry was totally different from mine. I had Mexican Potato Salad from the Core Restore book, and Larry had a green salad, roasted brussel sprouts and tilapia.

It's always good to have something to motivate you to stick with a diet plan. My motivation is this:

I HATE how we both look in this photo taken back in December. We just look overweight and unhealthy. That's NOT how I want us to look in the myriad of photos that will be snapped next October when my niece, Lauren, gets married in Nashville! Her fiance, David, put a ring on it!

So, if we don't want to be totally out-shined by these precious people, we've got to work hard to get in picture-perfect shape!

But the biggest motivation of all is good health. I want to feel good and be much less dependent on daily medications.

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 10 of 21

This is a lifestyle change.

At almost halfway in to this 21-day detox/cleanse, I'm seeing that the things I'm doing now can so easily be carried forward after this leg of the journey is over.

I mentioned the wonderful chicken we baked in the blog post I did on Monday, and the hummus I wrote about yesterday. So, now it's time to write about the most amazing soup ever! It's the Indian Bean Soup, and it's just chocked full of goodness, not to mention ingredients I've never used before.

Anything that has onions, bell pepper, and potatoes is good. Add olive oil, organic low-sodium vegetable stock, coriander, paprika and curry paste, and you're really cooking. But this soup also has turnips and parsnips, two things I'm not real familiar with. I know turnip greens, but the turnip root is a different matter. And, I have to admit, I had no idea what a parsnip looked like. I had to really scour the produce department to find some.

For educational purposes (because, aren't we all really learning a lot during this journey?!), I referred to Wikipedia and learned that the parsnip is richer in vitamins and minerals than its close relative, the carrot. It is particularly rich in potassium with 600 mg per 100 g. The parsnip is also a good source of dietary fiber. A 100-g parsnip contains 75 Calories (230 kJ) of energy.

You're welcome.

I will be incorporating all these recipes into my "normal" life when this 21 days is over.

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessing to all who read this!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 9 of 21

I can't believe I'm into the second week of this journey, and I'm doing great!

I went to our book club meeting last night, where everyone brings an appetizer and most folks are drinking wine or other adult beverages. A test.

NancyKay and I had a plan. I went to her house yesterday afternoon where she made hummus from scratch. I have bought Sabra hummus for years, but this put that in the shade.

As a matter of fact, it was the best hummus I've ever eaten, hands down. And the best part of all is that it was super-simple to make. We took the hummus along with a tray full of cut veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celery, red and green bell peppers and turnips). Despite the table at book club being filled with all manner of delicious treats, the hummus was a big with everyone. Someone had brought cut up fruit, so I made a small plate piled high with veggies and hummus and fruit, and that was my dinner. I was perfectly satisfied.

(For illustration purposes. I forgot to snap a shot of our hummus, 
which was garnished with fresh parsley and toasted pine nuts.)

The hummus recipe can be found on page 36 of the Core Restore patient guide:

While NancyKay was making the hummus, I ate a bowl of the Indian Bean Soup, a recipe also found in the guide. It was delicious. I'd order that in any restaurant.

Being around ladies drinking wine at our book club didn't bother me either. NancyKay made up some of our green tea-lemon juice-maple syrup blend and took that to book club in a gallon jug. We sipped it out of wine glasses!

I'm going to meet with Kelly Engelmann at Enhanced Wellness this afternoon. I am looking forward to standing on the big scales there and seeing those numbers go d-

I can do this. I will do this. 

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 8 of 21

Day one of week two!

So far, so good. I'm 12 pounds down, but much of that is water weight.

Yesterday was a day of rest. Larry was off work, and we just pretty much took it easy all day. I don't have the energy I had hoped I would, but I feel that will come...I'm eating good food now.

People have asked me if Larry is doing the diet as well. He's not. But he is doing another diet--one his cardiologist suggested to him. (Make that strongly encourage...). It's the "17 Day Diet" plan. And unlike the 21-day program I'm on, this is just the first 17 days...there are two more rounds that follow.
While the diets aren't exactly alike, they are surprisingly similar. He started the day after I did, so he's now seven days into his journey. 

Yesterday he baked an amazing chicken for our lunch. It was a big ol' roaster I bought at Fresh Market--no hormones, no antibiotics--you get the drill. And it was sooooo good!
We had steamed broccoli with it, and I had a serving of brown rice. Larry, unfortunately, can't eat rice in this 17-day cycle. 

So, in addition to my detox buddy, Nancykay Wessman, Larry has joined the ranks! 

I can do this. I will do this!

Blessings to all who read this!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 7 of 21

I'm one-third of the way! I'm seven days into my 21-day detox/cleanse. I'm seven days into a healthier lifestyle. And I'm down some pounds already!

So, that's one week down and two to go. Yesterday I started eating "real" food...and it was a little harder than I thought. I ate a small bowl of fruit for breakfast--apple, blueberry and strawberry. After breakfast, I met up with Jonni Webb at Village Beads in Ridgeland. I stayed busy all morning, stringing beads and creating a necklace and earrings (the earrings feature pottery by jr webb pottery, Jonni's pottery business.).

Wouldn't you know we met a lady at Village Beads who had been a patient at Enhanced Wellness. She said she used to refer to Kelly Engelmann as "the witch doctor." However, she said that when she was going, she felt better than she ever had, and talking to me today made her remember that. She says she wants to go back! Do it Pat!!! :-)

After beading, Jonni and went to lunch with our new beading friend at Signa Grill in Ridgeland, where I ordered a half salad with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoncinis, green and black olives. The dressing, however, kind of tripped me up. It was a shallot vinaigrette, which should have been fine, but for some reason, the acid of the vinegar was too much in my mouth. Are my taste buds changing? I ate a little over half of it, but that seemed to be fine.

After lunch I went grocery shopping. First to Fresh Market, then to Kroger. Eating healthy is NOT cheap--I bought the organic version of just about everything on my list, an that's always more expensive. My kitchen looks like a farmer's market. We have to eat all this produce this week or it will go bad. But the cost of the groceries is offset by so many other things: no snack foods, eating at home more than eating out, and of course, the long-term effects of (hopefully) getting off the blood-pressure medicine I've taken for 24 years and fewer doctor visits in the future.

(I need to add here that I was pretty disappointed in Fresh Market's produce section. Most everything except a small section was "conventionally-grown" produce. That means it was grown using pesticides and fertilizer. Also, the vast majority of the produce was from other countries. We should eat local and what's in season, and that's not what they offered. Boo on Fresh Market for not offering more locally-harvested, organic options. Kroger really beat you out on that level. There wasn't much I couldn't find in the ever-expanding organic section of Kroger.)

I wanted to get some exercise in today, but by the time I got home from grocery shopping and putting up all the groceries, I was beat. I think I'm a little weak from lack of food... So, instead, I smeared some of the almond butter I ground up at Fresh Market on a plain rice cake and savored it for a snack. I really liked the textural quality of the rice cake, and the almond butter was really tasty.

Dinner was sauteed onions, zucchini and red bell pepper--delicious. I also had a salad on the side and I put olive oil and balsamic on it.

Here's the kicker. The balsamic was TOO SWEET! After a week of no sugar, I'm wondering what's happening with my taste buds. In hindsight, I should have cooked up a chicken breast, but I didn't think about it. Tonight, we're having roasted chicken. I bought a whole roasting chicken from Fresh Market--all natural, with no antibiotics, etc.

It's almost easier NOT eating than dealing with adding food, but I am going to learn how to make this work for us. I think the trick is cooking way more than you need, then heating it up for meals later in the week.

I can do this! I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 6 of 21

Today I get to eat "real" food!!!!!

I've made it through the first five days and for the most part (about 95%), I stuck right with the plan. The scales don't lie. I've lost a LOT of water weight. I've been reading about water retention, specifically, the dangers of water retention. It's not a good thing.

So, now I've gotten so much of the water off, and my liver is beginning to rid itself of the many toxins that I'm sure it was chocked full of. After all this, you can rest assured I'll stop eating things that will poison my liver!

This weekend, I'll begin adding exercise to my routine. I'm going to take it easy at first...taking Roxie out for a walk and maybe hitting the treadmill. Roxie can use the exercise, too. She's getting a little sedentary. (Monkey see, monkey do.) It's surely going to strengthen my heart in the process. 

I'm venturing out today...first to Village Bead where I'm meeting my friend, Jonni Webb. We took a class there a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. We'll bead for a couple of hours, then go to lunch. In a restaurant! We're going to eat a salad at Signa's Grill in Ridgeland. They have great salads, and I can easily find one that fits the "allowed" choices on my food plan. 

After lunch, I'll go to the grocery. I'll have a full belly and I will be less likely to put more in my cart than I should. I'm going in with a list to help keep me on track. 

It's almost easier when the choices are so limited. But life offers us so many choices, every day, and learning how to make the right ones is part of the process.

I can do this. I will do this. 

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 5 of 21

Biting. Chewing. Swallowing.

Who knew it could be so good???

Yesterday, after three days of NO FOOD, I was able to eat. Vegetables only.

I woke up and drank my "regular" concoction of fresh-squeezed organic lemon juice and Grade B organic maple syrup mixed into a a mug of hot water. It's surprisingly good, and fulfills my need to sip on something hot in the morning. While it's not as good as coffee, it's a decent substitute.

Lunch was steamed cabbage and sauteed onions. I seasoned it up with tumeric (it has anti-inflammatory properties), celery seed and sea salt and organic ground black pepper.

Dinner was sauteed yellow and zucchini squash with fresh thyme and roasted brussels sprouts (split in half, tossed lightly with organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar).

You may have noticed the word "organic" several times above. That's one of the keys to this detox. I'm trying to rid my body of the harmful chemicals and toxins from the years of processed foods and produce laden with pesticides and fertilizers. From now on, I'm eating clean...

Larry will tell you that organic is, no doubt, more expensive. I use five to six large lemons daily to make my special juice, and they are $1.00 each, opposed to 2/$1 for the "conventional" lemons. The good news is that the organic ones he's been buying for me are much larger. 

I'm also using organic green tea. My tea of choice is Yogi brand, and I'm mixing regular and decaf, about half and half, six tea bags a day (or more, if I drink a cup of hot tea). 

(Notice the Organic seal on the box!)

Another money-eater is the maple syrup. Grade B is more "watery" than Grade A, which is better for mixing well into the lemon juice concoction. It's about $7 or so for a 12-ounce bottle. I used 1 full bottle in the first four days. 

Of course, all this is offset by the fact that I'm not drinking coffee ($$), or eating much. And the price I'm paying is worth having a healthier, slimmer body. 

I added the "shake" from the detox kit I got at Enhanced Wellness. I had to drink one in the morning and one last night. I wasn't so crazy about it. I mixed it with water, because I can't have anything else right now, and the flavor was less than appealing. But it is chocked full of the nutrients my body needs at this point, so I chugged it down. I also had to take two of the gi-normous capsules in the morning and again at night. I felt a little bit nauseated for a brief time yesterday but that passed. 

Still, all in all, it's going well. I was busy working yesterday, writing two articles and doing research for another. I think staying busy is a good thing, but staying busy at home is even better. I'm thankful I work out of my home right now. This would be really hard if I had to go out in the world every day.

More veggies today. Yum.

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day 4 of 21

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Larry has already joked about how he got me a big box of chocolates. Funny. Not.

I haven't had a bite of solid food in three days!!!

This hasn't been so hard. As long as I sip on the "magic juice" every ten to 15 minutes, I've been able to keep hunger at bay. I did go to bed hungry last night. Not too bad, but I really wanted something to eat.

Today, I can eat vegetables only. Oddly, the thing I crave most is steamed cabbage, followed by roasted brussels sprouts--two things I don't eat that much... but the truth is that I'd be happy to eat just about anything today!

So, what changes to I see after three days of drinking lemon juice, water, green tea and maple syrup? I can see the difference in my hands and feet. They don't look puffy. I had noticed in the past couple of months that my hands looked, well, fat. More often than not I could not get my rings on in the morning. Now they are loose on my finger. Larry says my face looks thinner. (Less puffy?) I was evidently carrying a lot of water  weight. Since this time last week, I've released ten pounds.

Knowing that I'm doing this under medical supervision of Kelly Engelmann at Enhanced Wellness is comforting. I know that this isn't just a way to get weight off, but I'm actually getting rid the harmful toxins that have been building up in my liver and elsewhere in my body. I'm making sure I retain the all my muscle mass (78.5 pounds of my total body weight is muscle) while losing fat.

Kelly uses the Core Restore detox system, and today I'll begin taking supplements from the detox kit, including two "shakes" made of the Core Support powder.

I've decided not to eat until lunch time, as I just can't stomach the thought of veggies in the morning, no matter how hungry I am! (I didn't wake up hungry, and I've already had a cup of hot green tea, so I'm fine...)

One day at a time!

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day 3 of 21

I think I did this wrong.

Yesterday was Mardi Gras...Fat Tuesday. A day of debauchery and excess before the solemn 40 days of Lent. There was no excess and certainly no debauchery for me yesterday, as I sipped my special cleansing concoction all day. But that's OK...I'm two days ahead of the game!

A friend pointed out to me yesterday that it was appropriate that I be on this 21-day cleanse during Lent. Interesting correlation. Giving up something for Lent is a sort of penance, helping Christians get "right" before Easter. Lent lasts 40 days...this cleanse/detox is just 21 days.

In years past I've given up soft drinks for Lent, and I've attempted to give up sweets. But I haven't been drinking soft drinks--regular or diet--for several years now. As for sweets, I carefully measure out the four tablespoons of organic Grade B maple syrup that's called for in my daily drink. I can't imagine drinking the nearly two cups of lemon juice that's mixed with water and green tea. The maple syrup helps to support consistent and steady glucose levels to help support normal physiology. Sipping the drink every ten to 15 minutes provides the body with a steady supply of simple sugar that helps support healthy blood sugar levels.

Next week I'll be able to add fruits to my diet, which I'm looking forward to. According to the booklet that came with my detox kit, foods that increase detoxification include raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, apples and any other fresh or frozen fruit and 100% berry juices. Fruits to avoid: canned fruit packed in syrup, high sugar or artificial berry juices, oranges and grapefruit.

Oh, as for the lemons I'm using now--yes, they are fruit. But they are certainly not sweet. It turns out that many people who are seeking to support their metabolism have a slight acidic nature. Lemons and limes have an alkalizing effect on the body.

But there are other things besides food that can be given up for Lent. The idea is self-denial of some sort, and as you are missing that thing that you've denied yourself, you focus on the journey Christ made on his way to Calvary. Perhaps I should consider giving up being a couch potato for Lent. In other words...I need to get moving!!!

So, yesterday was fine...I did get up off the couch and I worked all day. I am used to breaking for lunch, and I did that yesterday, stopping to sip a cup of hot organic green tea. Today, which is day three of drinking the special "juice" only, I have a noon meeting. A lunch meeting. I will take my juice and sip it throughout the meeting and I'll do fine.

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day 2 of 21

I did it!

I made it through Day 1 of my 21-day detox with no problems! I sipped on a concoction of organic green tea, water, the juice of five HUGE organic lemons, and four tablespoons of Grade B organic maple syrup. A full gallon of it. That four quarts. Or sixteen cups. One hundred twenty eight ounces. I also sipped on a cup of hot green tea last night.

Hunger slipped in a couple of times, but I just gulped the juice an it passed. That tells me that when I feel hunger, most likely it's really thirst, and I need to drink water before eating food.

Of course I had reservations. I tend to set myself up for failure with this kind of thing. Blogging about it puts it out there. I'm now held accountable to not only myself, but to anyone reading this! And I am holding myself accountable to Kelly Engelmann at Enhanced Wellness, who got me into all this back when I wrote an article about wellness clinics for the January issue of VIP Jackson. (The article is here, starting on page 56...the babe with the apple is Nancy Kay Wessman, who has been telling me about Enhanced Wellness for a couple of years...)

This detox is liver-centered. The program is scientifically designed to provide nutritional support for healthy metabolic function. It specifically targets the health of the gastrointestinal-neuroendocrine-immune system. That's a lot of mumbo-jumbo for I'm determined to get healthy and slim down while doing it!

I was pretty much a slug all day yesterday, by design. I laid on the couch with my laptop all day...I just didn't want to rock the boat too much. I was concerned about having a caffeine headache, but I didn't. I was concerned about being starving, but I wasn't. I was concerned about all kinds of things that simply didn't happen. I was fine. And today is even better.

I'm halfway through the second day...and I'm fine.

I can do this. I will do this.

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 1 of 21

Slimmer. Trimmer. Healthier. Fitter.


Well, who isn't happier when they're slim, trim, healthy and fit?

Today is DAY ONE of a 21-day super cleanse I'm doing to jump start my weight loss program. It will revitalize healthy liver function, and detoxify my body.

The program is through a clinic in Jackson called ENHANCED WELLNESS. I learned about it from my friend, NancyKay Wessman, who has been undergoing a major transformation of her own.

After watching my mother suffer from complications of diabetes for the first six months of last year, ultimately ending in her death last June, I made a decision to live a healthier life. Then I promptly gained about 20 pounds.

Something had to give.

I first started going to Enhanced Wellness in December. Great timing. NOT. But their program certainly helped heighten my awareness and probably helped me avoid some of the foods I needed to stay away from for the better part of the holidays.

I didn't lose weight during that time, but I didn't gain any. Ground zero.

So, here I go. For the next 21 days I'll be fasting and detoxing and drinking concoctions of green tea, maple syrup and lemon juice along with healthier foods--all organic--as my body "releases" excess pounds and my liver rids itself of the harmful toxins trapped within.

No coffee, no wine for the next 21 days.

 I can do this. I CAN DO THIS.

Gotta go sip my "super tea." More tomorrow.

Blessings to all who read this!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Birthdays are a way for us to mark time. They can also be a sort of rite of passage, depending on the birthday.

For children, those special birthdays come fast and furious for the first 21 years. With them come parties, balloons, cakes and more. Birthdays have turned into grand affairs, usually with a theme that goes along with the child's interests at the time.

First birthdays mark one year of making it through infanthood. Around the first birthday, babies are learning to walk, sending them crashing into toddlerhood. I've seen some of the most elaborate birthdays celebrated for one-year-olds, who will never even remember it. Special cakes are made especially for the celebrant--put it on the highchair in front of the baby and see what happens! What a waste of good cake...

I guess the next landmark birthday is five. I'm not sure why, because I think it should be six...that means a child is now old enough to go to school for the next twelve years. 

Ten is a significant birthday, because the child is then in the double digits...and three years of pre-teen silliness. But then comes 13. Now the child is a TEENAGER. We don't really do the big Quinceanera for the 15th birthday that many Latin American countries do. It's like a mini wedding, with elaborate dresses. (Translation: Big Bucks.)

The next big birthday is 16. Sweet sixteen. Driver's license. Freedom. Then 18, which means they can vote and they are old enough to go off to college. 

Of course, the big birthday marks the end of childhood altogether. It's 21. Legal to drink. Everyone makes a big deal out of it, but in reality, they are really just the same kid...

No significant birthdays are celebrated when a person is in their 20's. During that time, a transition is made from childhood to adulthood as they find their way out of college and into a career. But then something happens. It sneaks up on you when you least imagine it. 

You turn 30. Or, worse. Your oldest child turns 30. What does that mean?

Nicole, who we let loose on the world early on, is still the same size she was in the ninth grade. She has a forever-young face that makes it hard for us to remember that she's not sixteen any more. When she was 25, her world and ours was turned upside down when she fell off a six story building. We flew her from New York where she had been living back to Jackson in an air ambulance. After months in rehab, we brought her home, to the room where she grew up. 

For a long time I cared for her almost like a newborn. I helped bathe her, feed her and helped her get dressed. I did her makeup an hair. I was with her 24/7. Gradually, she learned to care for herself. She worked hard in therapy to get stronger and to find new ways of doing the things she insisted on doing for herself. 

As Nicole stepped back into her independence more and more each day, I was thrilled, but a little sad, because I enjoyed our time together. I had to let her go all over again, knowing that bad things can happen to good people out in the world. 

Each birthday since her accident has been a celebration of Nicole's life. And that's what birthdays should be for everyone. A special day when a person is celebrated.
Yesterday was Nicole's 30th birthday. She is now transitioning not only into an independent life of her own, but deep into adulthood. When I turned 30, I felt I had gained a little "street cred." I felt legitimate. "I know what I'm talking about because I'm 30." I wonder if Nicole feels the same way.

We weren't with Nic on her momentous birthday. She was in New Orleans, celebrating with her boyfriend. I hope that she had a wonderful evening. And I hope she has a great decade filled with excitement, achievement and happiness. 

Blessings to all who read this!