This Bird Does It

Stick around. I'm bound to say something interesting eventually.


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Miss me?

I have a lot of things I’ve been thinking about writing. I have five or six separate posts I want to get into writing, and it probably just isn’t going to happen. One, in particular is languishing. Some friends in the neighborhood have a foster son they would love to adopt, and there’s all sorts of nastiness in their story highlighting how broken our system is, and I’d love to tell you all about that, and maybe even get some support going for them to try and reverse the most likely outcome of their situation. I won’t, though, because I won’t take the chance that anything I write, or share, or post, or tweet, or whatever, could put the tiniest chance they have of winning for the side of GOOD at risk. That’s a tough position to be in. Not as tough as this little boy’s situation and that of the foster family that loves him dearly, but tough. I’ll share their story when it’s resolved, and in the meantime, let’s all pray that it has a happy ending.

In other, happier news, I finished my ten week course this semester. Final grade looks like an A minus. Still an A, but not a four point A. I’m disappointed because I lost a couple points for some careless mistakes. I can’t believe I’m beating myself up over an A minus, but I am. A little. Just a little, just for a minute. Now I can focus on the sixteen week course I’m taking in Rare Books. I’m having such a great time with this class, even though I’ve fallen behind finishing the other class. This week was “Spring Break” which just means I didn’t have any NEW work for that class. I’d meant to spend most of the week catching up, but it didn’t work out quite that well. It will be a busy weekend. I’m not terribly worried. I have a lot to do, but I’m confident that I can get it done.

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Photo by dbking, flickr

This class is so engaging and so fascinating to me. I’m working on a virtual exhibit of Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass. On Wednesday, I went out to the Rare Books room at OSU to see a first impression, published in 1855. It was a little thrilling to just be able to sign in and then HOLD the book. I could handle it, and read it, and smell it, and examine it. I could not, however, photograph it, but that’s okay. I pulled up the The Walt Whitman Archives and compared the book in front of me to the digitized version of a first impression that they have online. Wow, that was awesome. Those two books might have come off the presses RIGHT next to each other. There were only 795 copies of this edition printed, and even fewer with that lovely green cloth cover. And this one is in wonderful shape. It was such a privilege to play with it, and it ramped up my love of the rare books and archives part of this profession. I wish I could count on finding a job in that particular area, but it seems unlikely. Nonetheless, I will be looking for more opportunities to volunteer in the field, even if just for the fun of it.

Speaking of volunteering, I’m thrilled to be starting my first official volunteer gig with Hamma Library at Trinity Seminary next week. I will likely just be doing some general helping out and shadowing, but I’m excited to be spending some time in a library as something other than a patron! I interviewed the director of Hamma for my Special Library class that just finished up, and everyone there was wonderfully helpful and lovely. I’m looking forward to spending more time with them and to gathering some experience from them.

20140328_072828MIDDLE BIRD IS NINE! My second kid is NINE YEARS OLD! Somehow, I’m feeling like the capital letter scream is just not conveying how knocked out I am by this. My oldest turned ten in January and I celebrated a decade of motherhood, but somehow, this kid’s ninth birthday is heavier! Perhaps it’s that he’s the kid requiring the most attention and general parenting challenge acceptance lately, but I just can’t believe he’s halfway to eighteen! He’s such a wonderful, amazing, sweet, brilliant, thoroughly infuriating kid! I’m so proud of him, so in love with him, and so blown away with how fast he’s growing up. He has challenged everything I thought I knew about parenting and little boys. He’s fighting every day to be the person God created him to be. Even when it doesn’t look much like he’s fighting, I know he’s struggling, and I’m proud of him for sticking with it even when I’m exhausted with frustration. This kid was a total surprise, as much as that third kid four years later. When he was born, there was a true knot in his umbilical chord. Though of the three kids, his birth was by far the easiest for me, I will never forget hearing Dr. D’s first words after, “It’s a BOY!” He said, “Whoa, you don’t usually see that with a live birth!” Jarring, but there he was, screaming his little heart out, announcing his giant presence with all the gusto he still brings to each day of his life. Oh, he’s a live birth, alright. Maybe more alive than the rest of us. He is a challenge to parent, but I pray every day that his dad and I can be up to the task, because that giant presence will serve him well someday. I’m certain that he has work to do on this planet. We all do, but he has something special to accomplish, and I’m so excited to watch him do it. Happy Birthday, buddy.

 

 


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Perfection. It doesn’t exist, but the story DOES!

364_29718079747_5941_nIn 1978 I started second grade at William H. Blount Elementary School on Princess Place Drive in Wilmington, N.C. I liked school. I liked books. I liked the library. I remember being in the space with lots of short stacks and paint-stirrer sticks used to mark the spot on the shelf where you removed a book. I remember going into the library for storytime. I don’t know how often we students were herded into the library and seated on the pea soup colored carpet to listen to a teacher or librarian read a story, but I remember one particular story so clearly.

Do you remember any of the stories you were read in the second grade? How about any of the stories that you never heard again? I mean, sure I remember the Dr. Suess stories. I remember the Madeline stories. I remember Eloise and Curious George. I’ve been reading those, or hearing about them, or watching them be turned into children’s programs, since I was a child. We read those at home and read them over and over. But this one time, this one story, that I would not hear again for 36 years, I remembered. And I spoke of it sometimes to friends. We would laugh about how ridiculous it was. Who tells kids a story like that? I often wondered over the years if I had made it up in my own memory. Or perhaps I just remembered it differently.364_29718084747_6150_n

The story, as I remembered it, was about a perfect little girl and the devil. The devil was, of course, unhappy that a little girl could be so perfect and began trying to get her to be angry. If she were to get angry, he reasoned, she wouldn’t be perfect. So he gave her the chicken pox, but she didn’t scratch or complain. He had a cow step on her favorite doll, but (and I always used this exact phrase in retelling the story) she forgave the cow. He tried all sorts of other tricks that didn’t work, but in the end he did win. He let her have her perfect life, a perfect husband, and a perfect house. And a less than perfect child.

When I started thinking again about becoming a librarian, this story kept coming back to my mind. I knew that I had to find it. I had to find out if it was even real. It seemed like an excellent wannabe librarian challenge. I Googled and Googled, and eventually, I figured out that it was a real story and it appeared in The Devil’s Storybook, by Natalie Babbitt, first published in 1974. At the time, that was fine, I only needed to know that some story about a perfect little girl and the devil was real. I probably twisted it around in my head anyway. I probably didn’t remember the story just right. I’d only been seven, after all, and I have never heard the story since.

364_29718094747_6354_nThis week I happened across an article about my old elementary school. It doesn’t matter much what it was about, so I’ll spare you, but it made me remember those storytimes when I was little. I decided I needed to get hold of a copy of The Devil’s Storybook. It was time that I actually READ the story and compared it to my memory. It only took a couple days for my library’s consortium to get it delivered to my local branch. It’s a really short story, so bare with me while I share the whole thing.

“Perfection,” by Natalie Babbitt

There was a little girl once called Angela who always did everything right. In fact, she was perfect. She had better manners than anyone, and not only that, but she hung up her clothes and never forgot to feed the chickens. And not only that, but her hair was always combed and she never bit her fingernails. A lot of people, all of them fair-to-middling, disliked her very much because of this, but Angela didn’t care. She just went right on being perfect and let things go as they would. 

Now, when the Devil heard about Angela, he was revolted. “Not,” he explained to himself, “that I give a hang about children as a rule, but this one! Imagine what shell be like when she grows up–a woman whose only fault is that she has no faults!” And the very thought of it made him cross as crabs. So he wrote up a list of things to do that he hoped would make Angela edgy and, if all went well, even make her lose her temper. “Once she loses her temper a few times,” said the Devil, “she’ll never be perfect again.”20140307_073628

However, this proved harder to do than the Devil had expected. He sent her chicken pox, then poison ivy, and then a lot of mosquito bites, but she never scratched and didn’t even seem to itch. He arranged for a cow to step on her favorite doll, but she never shed a tear. Instead, she forgave the cow at once, in public, and said it didn’t matter. Next the Devil fixed is that for weeks on end her cocoa was always too hot and her oatmeal too cold, but this, too, failed to make her angry. In fact, it seemed that the worse things were, the better Angela liked it, since it gave her a chance to show just how perfect she was.

Years went by. The Devil used up every idea on his list but one, and Angela still had her temper, and her manners were still better than anyone’s. “Well, anyway,” said the evil to himself, “my last idea can’t miss. That much is certain.” And he waited patiently for the proper moment.

When that moment came, the Devil’s last idea worked like anything. In fact, it was perfect. As soon as he made it happen, Angela lost her temper once a day at least, and sometimes oftener, and after a while she had lost it so often that she was never quite so perfect again.

And how did he do it? Simple. He merely saw that she got a perfect husband and a perfect house, and then–he sent her a fair-to-middling child.

I was stunned at how perfectly I’d remembered the details of the story, but at the same time, how different the story really was. It was essentially the same story I’d remembered, but in Ms. Babbitt’s words, now it was about the concept of “perfection”  and the idea of perceptions, and parenthood, and life. Now, with my 42 year old, mother’s sensibilities, I read this story and cried. Not because I’d ever, EVER been perfect, or even aspired to perfection. Not because my husband, or my house, or any other aspect of my life, is perfect. Not because I have any fair-to-middling children. 364_29718099747_6555_n

My mind is still wrapping itself around this little story. I don’t suppose there are a lot of K-12 librarians reading it to school children these days. Why did I remember it so well? I wonder why it made such an impact on my seven-year-old mind. Regardless, I feel so satisfied in having tracked it down and found out that I DID remember it correctly. I feel so vindicated.


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A Year In Birdland

Today is day 365 of blogging for me. I’ve kept this thing going for a full year. Not sure that it’s any more entertaining today than it was on March 6, 2013, but it’s still here, and that’s saying something, right?

It’s also Ash Wednesday. Lent, Easter, and all the associated dates are so variable, that it’s hard to measure the years by those dates. Middle Bird’s birthday is March 28 and he celebrated his first birthday before he got to his first Easter.

The Girlie Bird’s first trip to church was on Ash Wednesday, that year it was back in February, and she pulled one of those baby power blows just as we stepped to the alter for the imposition of ashes. Yeah, you parents out there know what I’m talking about. When you’re holding your sweet newborn, and she’s sleeping so peacefully, then for just a second she screws up her tiny face for just a second, and there’s a rumbling that’s so deep and so foreboding that it doesn’t occur to you it might be coming from that bundle in your arms, then BAM, the explosion! And I just slipped out quietly hoping there hadn’t been a containment error.

Baby Bird was baptized on Easter Vigil. Actually, all three of the kids were baptized on changeable dates, the other two were Mothers and Fathers Days.

Babbling? Well, yeah, a little. But hey, that’s life. I just wanted to pop in and say it’s been a year. A full year of blogging, and that happens to end on Ash Wednesday, which is, of course, the beginning of Lent. I’m not sure what adventures Lent will bring this year. I don’t know what spring will bring. We’re not to spring, yet, but Lent is surely a good sign that we’re moving that direction!

 


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School, the boy, and our diet.

In every semester, I have a few of those “Oh, my God, I’m swamped and I don’t know when I’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel” posts. This could be one of them, but that isn’t what I signed on to write about today. I am swamped, and I don’t know when I’ll see the light, but I’m beginning to accept it all as a permanent state. Doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to only taking one class this summer, and belonging to to the pool, but there is the tiniest chance I could be working part time, or even just volunteering somewhere, too, so I’m not going to get too pumped about an increase in down time, yet.

I finally found an edition old enough to serve for my Rare Books project. Inside was a pressed leaf that I can't bring myself to get rid of. Hope it's not harming the book. :)

I finally found an edition old enough to serve for my Rare Books project. Inside was a pressed leaf that I can’t bring myself to get rid of. Hope it’s not harming the book. :)

There are things going on that I need to share, though. And I’ve hit some walls in my determinations about how much to share about some things. I think there are some fine lines to walk, and I’m working out exactly where those lines fall. One of those areas of my life is our current challenges with my middle child. He’s been experiencing some increased issues with impulse control, focus, staying organized, keeping his body under control. Most of it could be chalked up to typical, bright, nine-year-old (well, almost) boy stuff, but it’s more. That’s all I can say to describe it. It’s just MORE. His teacher is losing patience, we are losing patience. Life at school is getting too hard for him, life at home is getting harder for all of us. But I still hold onto my conviction that this is not a kid who needs a diagnosis, a label, or a designation. He’s not ADHD, or maybe he is, but not to the point that there are advantages that outweigh the disadvantages of labeling him as such. But the fact remains that we have come to a place where the whole thing is bigger than we can manage at home, or without outside advice.

I will make his annual well-child appointment with the pediatrician today. I will make it for just him, and his dad will try to be off work and join us. We’ll start there. We love Dr. W, she’s been our only pediatrician for all three kids, and Middle Bird knows her, and trusts her. Hopefully, he will be comfortable, and we can all talk about the situation. I need someone to tell me where to go next.

Then there’s the school stuff. I’m struggling, maybe panicking a little, with keeping up this semester. The Rare Books class is a constant onslaught of new and fascinating material, but it’s so foreign to me and I’m having trouble finding the time to read everything, watch every lecture, and just absorb it. I’m keeping up, but it’s the hardest I’ve worked at one class since starting this endeavor. And the other class, Special Libraries with less daily stuff, but several big projects, is not a cakewalk, either. I’m enjoying both classes, thank heavens, so I’m making it work, but I’m getting a little close to the flame here. The Special Libraries class is over around March 23, which will make the Rare Books class go a lot smoother for the last two months or so of its run. I am learning SO much this semester, since I finished the core stuff that got me all pumped up for the profession, and moved into the more specific issues and daily life of a librarian of some flavor. I’m excited, and I’m ready to get into it.

That’s where the rough stuff comes. I’ve known for a while that I need to start beefing up my resumé. If I can’t find a job, and I wasn’t looking, really, I have to find some volunteer experience to put on there. I need to find somewhere to get my feet wet in this whole library work world. I don’t know how we’re going to make it work, but it’s got to happen and soon. I got a lead on a job, pretty entry-level stuff, but I managed to get myself an interview tomorrow. Maybe nothing will come of it, but I haven’t had a job interview in about 12 years. Good practice, and a chance to increase my network, even if the job doesn’t work out. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Other big doin’s in my life? Well, there’s the whole paleo thing, right? Yeah, it’s still on. Sort of. I think we covered early on that rules for eating aren’t my strong suit, but this is still working really well. Let me recap what I’ve been successful, or mostly successful, at maintaining.

  • No sugar, no artificial sweeteners. This one was big for about a minute. I stressed about giving up my sweetener in coffee, but in the end, I started enjoying black coffee. Nobody could have been more shocked at THAT! Knowing that sugar is off limits has actually made it WAY easier to drop weight, whether it’s the actual lack of sugar, and an argument could be made for that, or whether it’s the part that rule has played in making other things off limits. All sorts of things I used to eat for snacks, and considered somewhat healthy, are off the table. No more cereal, even the fiber stuff. No more granola bars. No more prepared foods like salad dressings. I’m actually amazed at how little I missed it after the first couple days. I have allowed myself a little honey, and I need to invest in some of that delicious, raw, local stuff sold over at the farmer’s market.
  • No grains. Just like the sugar, this made so many of my go-to snack foods off limits. Even though I fought with the portion control when I tried other diets, I was still allowed small amounts of things like Wheat Thin crackers, Ezekiel bread, and corn chips. None of those things qualify on this mostly-paleo experiment, so they just aren’t an option. I think when I finish this 30 day kick-off, a little rice and quinoa will be the first things I add back. We are experimenting with the gluten elimination thing to try and help Middle Bird, so I’ve had a few mouthfuls of rice pasta, gluten free bread, and quinoa, but just a few. I didn’t feel right about asking the kid to eat it without at least trying it. The verdict? Rice pasta is pretty darn good. Even Daddy Bird ate it and he’s tough.
  • No legumes. No peanuts, no soy beans, no black beans, no navy beans. There are other legumes, but those made up a pretty sizable part of my pre-paleo diet. I don’t think that I actually miss them, other than the extreme convenience. I mostly included them for their protein value, and if I’m eating meat/chicken/seafood every day, I need the legumes less. I will probably allow edamame back in after the 30 days, but the rest are probably not necessary.
  • No dairy. Also MUCH less stressful than I expected it to be. As with the sugar, I expected my morning coffee to be a big stumbling block, but because I found I actually enjoy black coffee, that wasn’t an issue. I have learned to eat the things I used to think NEEDED cheese, without cheese. Scrambled eggs, for instance, do not need cheese. Don’t tell my children, but I actually like them BETTER with just the sautéed veggies and some Frank’s Red Hot. Cheese was the biggest part of this category. I don’t eat yogurt anymore, but I never really needed it, it was just something to eat in the afternoons that I thought was “healthy.” Full of sugar, or some substitute, so I don’t need it at all.

Overall, I feel SO good! My skin is improved, my sleep is improved. I feel much more even as far as energy. I could probably give up that coffee, but I like it and since I don’t see it as a big negative, I’ll keep drinking it. And I’ve lost about twenty pounds! That’s right I’m about a third of the way to my final goal! And it wasn’t even HARD! Sure, there were moments, especially when eating with other people or eating out, where I had to really make an effort, but most of the time, day to day, it is no real stretch after the first week or so. Once I cut the sugar, I am amazed at how I don’t feel “hungry” every afternoon.  Studying in the kitchen, I always felt tempted to go eat something when I didn’t need anything. I attribute my lack of those feelings of hunger to breaking my addiction to sugar. I eat good, filling, whole foods and mostly at mealtimes. It doesn’t feel challenging, it just feels normal. I like it. I’ll keep doing most of it for the foreseeable future.

20140121_211833A few people have asked for “recipes” I’m using, and other tips I’ve learned. I’m no expert. I’m not even a learned enthusiast, but I’ve learned a few things by trial and error. I can share them. You can take them or leave them.

  • Coconut oil is wonderful, but it isn’t the panacea. Unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil has the most health benefits, but it’s got a distinct flavor. I love it with sweet potatoes, anything cooked with ginger, and seafood, but I’m not fond of it for browning meat or roasting vegetables. Because it solidifies at 76 degrees, when I toss my chopped cold veggies with it, it gets a solid coating quickly, and that makes spreading them on the parchment paper messy and unappealing.
  • Good old extra virgin olive oil is still the BEST! I don’t have to measure it now, so I love it even more. I’m not slathering it on everything, but it’s good stuff and I’m never going to run out of it again!
  • Shrimp rules! It can be reliably bought frozen and thawed in just the right portions. It is fat free and delicious on salads, pan seared with ginger and onion, or with oven roasted veggies of any kind.
  • Parchment paper is a cooking miracle. I have no idea why it has just never been something I picked up. I tried roasting sweet potatoes and veggies of all kinds, and the results are stunning. Perfectly browned yumminess without mess, or the need to flip halfway through cooking. I roast something on parchment nearly every day now. Broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, onions, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and carrots have been the most popular.
  • Bone broth is lovely. I’ve roasted a couple chickens and used the carcass, and once just cooked up a bunch of drumsticks and made broth from them. Fabulous stuff! I LOVE it. I don’t buy broth at the store ever anymore. My stuff gets all icky and gelatinous in the fridge, but that means it’s REALLY good for you, even if it’s not very appealing when it’s cold. I make chicken rice or noodle soup for the kids and my husband, I sauté up veggies and drown them in the broth for me. It’s a wonderful winter comfort food to keep on hand. I’m sad that there is none in the refrigerator right now. I’ll roast another chicken on Saturday!
  • I cannot be trusted with almonds. Seriously, they are the safe munchable, so I will munch them. If they do not come in pre-portioned packets, I will eat WAY more than I’m supposed to. I’m not sure why my will power is so weak with this one thing, maybe because it’s not been required much with the other things, but I’m not buying almonds in bulk for a while.
  • I don’t feel the need for coconut milk. I just haven’t bothered, yet, and I’m not in a hurry. I don’t see where it could fill a need or whole in my diet. Lots of paleo folks swear by it, but I read an article about how hard it is to get it without the guar gum as a stabilizer, and it just turned me off. No big deal.

I could share some of the recipes that have worked for me, but I think you should play with it and see what works for you. What flavors do you like? Put some together in the pan and see how it turns out. I found every new recipe I tried with an open Google search, so use that. Pinterest, of course, has lots of ideas, too, though I found LOTS of things just way too complicated. I hope to spend more time looking over the next month or so, so feel free to follow me there if you like. I haven’t done much, but it will be picking up. Remember that most recipes, especially those with such simple and basic ingredients as those on the paleo list, are just foundations. Feel free to play with things however you like.

I might think of more, maybe I won’t get the gumption to write about it. If you’re reading, let me know, that might help. :) Saturday is my thirtieth day. I don’t see much changing, though. A little rice, and quinoa, maybe. Eh. I’m feeling really good, and I want to keep that going. My next challenge is to try and do better with buying organic and sustainably farmed. That will be a whole new challenge.

These are a few of my favorite paleo sites. Maybe you think I’m crazy and want to prove it. Maybe you are thinking about giving it a try and need to know more. Either way, check out a few, or just hit Google.

Easy Paleo

nom nom paleo

Whole30

The PaleoFood Recipe Collection


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A Victorious Weekend (was there a football game?)

I DID IT! I made it through the first weekend of my own paleo journey. I was a bit worried about having family for dinner on Saturday, followed by a Sunday evening at friends’ to watch the Super Bowl. That’s two big temptation events back to back. Those are some of the most food-centric events I can imagine. If I’d been doing this longer, I might have volunteered to make a whole meal of paleo foods for the eleven we had for dinner Saturday, but I couldn’t wrap my head around that, so we just compromised. My mother made a couple chuck roasts. I made mashed potatoes (which I did NOT eat, despite the fact that I make THE very best mashed potatoes EVER!), corn, broccoli, bread, and fruit salad. Mom baked a cake, and I bought ice cream. It was okay. I mean, really. Yeah, there were lots of times I was tempted. I even forgot what I was doing and put a full helping of corn on my plate before I remembered and dumped it on my brother’s plate. For dinner, I loaded my plate with beef and broccoli. For dessert I stuck with black coffee and fruit.

Then for Super Bowl, my lovely host volunteered to have a Mexican spread, allowing the kids to just pick what they would eat, and I could build a lovely salad of the things I could eat and skip the bad stuff. That worked out really well. As long as I can eat guacamole, I’m happy! I almost didn’t miss the cheese and sour cream. I ate more guacamole by dipping raw broccoli and cauliflower instead of corn chips.

Let’s be totally honest, though. I drank several glasses of red wine over the two days. I’m not sorry about that. In fact, holding that glass and taking the occasional sip, totally allowed me to feel like I was not in any way deprived. I never drank enough to impair myself. I just had it in my hand. I am convinced that I was successful with the food because I still had the wine. I will consider dropping the alcohol after this 30 day experiment, perhaps for Lent, which starts just a week after my 30 days are up. But for now, this is working. I know Whole30 wants you to skip the scale and all other methods of measurement and comparison, for your 30 days. I think we’ve established that I’m writing my own rules here, so yeah, I’ve been on the scale. I’m down ten pounds since I started playing with this diet. Two just over the weekend! I suspect that it will be the sugar and the grains that I’ll leave out the longest. I think that’s the key to my weight control, but we’ll see what data we gather over the next 26 days.

Here we are at Day 4. For breakfast I ate leftover chuck roast sauteed in the pan with mushrooms, onions, and broccoli. Not very breakfast-y, but delicious and filling! I feel confident I can go get some schoolwork done without thinking about food all morning! And now I have three full days of success, two with major temptations, behind me! I feel like I had a HUGE victory this weekend and I hope that has created some momentum for me! Tonight’s plan is to roast another chicken, put some more bone broth on. I still have Mom’s big crock pot, so I’ll do it in that.

 


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Paleo 30 Day Experiment Kick Off (sort of)

Okay, I was inspired by the Whole30 program, but I tend to make up my own rules, so let’s see how this goes. I thought about all the changes to my diet this requires, and even though it’s certainly easier than a lot of diets, it’s a lot. Then I thought specifically about giving up alcohol. I can’t lie to you, gang, I really enjoy an adult beverage at the end of the day. Not every day, but probably four nights a week. A glass of wine or a cocktail after the kids are down. Maybe two or three on a weekend. I don’t remember the last time I was really drunk, but. Well, that’s a lie. I remember, but it isn’t something that happens often. Life is too messy for that these days.

So, all of this is to make excuses for not giving up alcohol as part of this experiment, at least not now. Maybe it will skew the entire thing, I don’t know, but when I thought about changing my diet so drastically and giving up alcohol, it felt like two separate projects. As soon as I looked at it that way, it felt like I was setting myself up to fail at both of them. But I have to reevaluate the drinking anyway, so this is what I came up with. I will not drink anything made from something I’m not eating. That means no beer (no great loss, I only drink beer rarely), no spirits distilled from grains (so, like, all of them except tequila), and no mixers that I wouldn’t normally drink. That pretty much leaves wine (and at least red has some health value), hard ciders, and of course, tequila since it’s made from the agave cactus. I guess I could do shots of tequila, but that just doesn’t have that it’s-been-a-long-day-let-me-check-facebook-and-relax kind of vibe. Margaritas would have mixers with sugar. Hard ciders are like 200 calories a serving, but I do enjoy them from time to time and I’m not actually counting calories, right? Well, I guess that just leaves my red wine. I can live with that. I do love a red wine.

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I can’t show you dinner, but this was my breakfast omelette. If I’d already been to the grocery, there would be avocado with that!

I’d really like to share a lovely snapshot of my Day One dinner tonight, but I’m afraid I wolfed it down before considering a photograph. It was divine, though. As I told the Facebook folks, if I can pull that off every night, paleo will be a breeze! I sauteed mushrooms, red onion, zucchini, and shrimps in coconut oil, then hit it with a few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot (I really do put that s#$% on everything). I topped it with half an avocado. The old dieting Bird would have budgeted it all out so that I could have a little cheese, parmesan or feta, or maybe even cheddar. I didn’t miss it at all. Just to keep up, breakfast was an omelette with spinach and salsa with Frank’s. There was no real lunch since I was so busy, but I ate a couple handfuls of almonds here and there, some pineapple, and a fistful of sugar snap peas. Oh, and a banana. Probably should have had more water, but I’ll drink a glass before bed.

The next two days will be rough. Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. We’ll have dinner here with his best friend (today is his birthday) and wife, my brother and his girlfriend, Mom and Dad. Mom’s making roast, so I can eat that. I’ll make green beans, corn, and mashed potatoes. I’ll put coconut oil or bacon grease (not stressing about nitrites, yet) on the veggies, but mashed potatoes are off limits. We’ll have cake and ice cream, but I’ll be skipping that. I bought some raspberries, blueberries, and apples so I could make a nice fruit bowl to go with the cake. I’ll just eat that. I’ll be okay. THEN, Sunday is Super Bowl. We’re going to watch the game with another family who care about as much as we do about the game. We haven’t seen them in a while so it will be good to catch up, but gatherings like that mean food. Thankfully, they are very health conscious and aware of my little experiment, so I have support!

I really haven’t done one of these “here’s my life” kind of blog entries in a while and I apologize if I bore you to tears. I just want to document some of this paleo experiment. I have a feeling I will be keeping more of it than I thought when I first read about it. Certainly not all of it. I cannot imagine a whole life without butter, but I also know I don’t need as much as I was eating. And the sugar thing is just crazy. I can already clearly see a difference in my tolerance for sweetness. I ate brownies that Mom brought last night and they were good, don’t misunderstand. I mean, they were brownies! But I was happy with a much smaller piece than I would have been a few weeks ago. I wonder how I’ll feel after a month of none!

Wish me luck.


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Fabulous Friday

It’s sometimes hard for me to remember that Friday isn’t so exciting for the stay-at-home mom with a mountain of homework to due by Sunday night. My work is just beginning and even though there were times during the week when everyone was home and awake, there will be a lot MORE times over the weekend. But, I’ll have help, I’ll get it done. I just have to, that’s all. Can’t help getting a little jazzed about Friday, though. It’s a lifetime of training, I guess. The kids have make up piano lessons after school, but nobody else has to be harassed to do homework. TV and video games for EVERYONE! Woohooo. Eh, sue me.

I’m really just rambling here so I don’t have to go work on my homework, but I did have a couple things to say. I’ve lost a little weight. Not a lot, just about seven pounds, but it’s a start. Especially since I haven’t “dieted” and I’m just experimenting with the paleo thing. I’ve pretty much eliminated dairy entirely, which is kind of amazing. I didn’t even realize that’s what was happening. I dropped the cheese on my eggs, then started with the black coffee, then I went to have a yogurt for lunch and realized I hadn’t had dairy in three days, so maybe we just won’t have the Yoplait now, either. My right knee was one of my “inflammation issues” and it hasn’t bothered me in a couple days, either. Can’t say those two things are related, but can’t say they aren’t.

I’m going try my hand at roasting a chicken. That’s right, I’ve never done it. I looked up several recipes online and I was utterly shocked to find that apparently this task amounts to “wash chicken, dry chicken, cook chicken.” I think I can handle this. I’m a kind of excited about having the carcass to make bone broth. Something warm and comforting to drink when it’s crazy cold, that’s good for me, and I can turn lots of lovely things into soup. If it works out well, I may be roasting a lot of chickens. They’re cheap, I like the idea of having roasted chicken around to throw on salads, into soups, whatever. Maybe I can convince the kids to eat it in lunches. I’m probably stretching there a little, but a girl can dream.

Finished off my 1000 day gouda and my loaf of Ezekiel bread. It’s the last week of the month, so I’m not going to make a big grocery run before Friday, or I’d jump all in. Maybe I am all in, but I’m not yelling at myself for the occasional pretzel or piece of bread. (Oh, wait, I did have a little butter on my dinner roll last night. Eh) I’m going to enjoy a shot of bourbon when the kids are in bed tonight because I’ve been putting it off all week. All that just amounts to not starting my 30 countdown, yet. I’ll try to do 30 days of hard core, extreme, seriousness, as described by the folks at Whole30. After that, I don’t see myself staying off alcohol, grains, legumes, or dairy, but I can see myself eating FAR less than I did a few weeks ago. Some of it is just about breaking old habits and making new ones, I guess. This feels doable, and not in that 0h-I’m-just-hyping-myself-up kind of way. Alcohol will be hard. I really enjoy a drink in the evening, maybe a few with friends on a weekend. The fact that it seems like it might be hard makes me more sure I should try it, though. Thirty days is not that long. It’s been more than 30 days since Christmas already!

Pretty bleak out there.

Pretty bleak out there.

Oh, good heavens, it’s been more than 30 days since Christmas! How is that possible? February is sneaking up. It’s a short month and then it’s March. March is practically springtime! Everyone is complaining about these crazy cold temperatures we’re having, and I get it. I do. But we’ll make it through. The cold, I can handle. The high gas bill is gonna suck. Thank you, Lord, for the blessings of this nice warm house, my nice warm coat, my nice warm bed, and my nice warm car. I don’t actually spend much time in that awful cold, but it sure did stink putting fuel in the van this morning!


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A Facebook Rant (but not about what you think)

What you don't know is that I only took the picture to get them to stop throwing their matching hats into the air and squealing.

What you don’t know is that I only took the picture to get them to stop throwing their matching hats into the air and squealing at high pitch.

I’ve read a lot of blog entries and other articles and postings in the last year about “Facebook reality.” Facebook reality differs from actual reality in that you completely control the message, right? Most parents’ Facebook reality is that their children are adorable, their house is always clean, they play lots of family-time games with their children, dinner is always healthy, the TV is extremely limited. You get the picture. Their actual reality may or may not bear any resemblance to the image projected on social media. Moms might be the worst perpetrators of this revisionist posting trend. I know I’m guilty of it sometimes. I don’t mind telling you and all my Facebook friends, that my bathrooms get dirty, my children watch too much TV, and often their dinner is peanut butter and honey with potato chips or hot dogs and pretzels. But I post those perfectly adorable pictures of the kids doing something perfectly adorable, cooperating sweetly, sleeping peacefully, creating artfully, without telling you that I was just screaming and tearing at my hair moments before. Some of us share more of the actual reality than others, but few of us put it all out there.

And, frankly, none of this is shocking or abnormal or unhealthy in anyway, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve written before about how different people approach the social media thing differently. Here, for instance, I showed an adorable picture but maybe shared a bit too much. Over or under sharing might be part of the projected Facebook reality, but if you meet me at a cocktail party you’re not going to get the actual reality of my life, either.

To me, that’s what social media, especially Facebook, is all about. It’s like one big social event that never quite ends. Sometimes it’s a football game, sometimes it’s a cocktail party, sometimes it’s a parenting support group, sometimes it’s a worship service. It’s whatever you make it, determined by what you let others see, which friends you accept, and which you move to “restricted” or some other list. Some people worry about trying to “keep up” with all the things their friends post, but it’s my belief that they should just let that go. You can’t know what was said at the party before you showed up. You might get a recap from a friend, but thanks to Facebook’s complicated “most recent” algorithm, you won’t know everything.  And really, that’s OKAY!

facebook profile screenshot (1)That all brings me to my rant. Unfriending. Maybe we don’t see this act of aggression the same way. Maybe I’m missing something I should know, and if I am, please enlighten me. Sure, it’s totally your right to unfriend whoever the hell you feel like unfriending. It’s your page, your life, your business. But I see it kind of like walking away from a person you don’t like every time they walk up to the group you’re talking with at a party. Sure, you can do it, but you look like an jerk. At a party I’m much more likely to stop interacting in the conversation as animatedly, and then excuse myself politely when the opportunity arises. The Facebook equivalent is to move the person to my “restricted profile” list, or maybe just “acquaintances.” I see less of them, and they only see what I want them to see of me. I’ve excused myself from the conversation without looking like an ass. Life and Facebook can already be messy. Why make it messier by pointing out to anyone that you just don’t like them. What good comes of it? Do they suddenly change their behavior because they find out they’ve offended you? Not likely, right? I mean, most likely it will cause bad feelings for the other person whether they express them or not. If you’re just trying to cause bad feelings, well, fine. Unfriend me, too, while you’re at it. I’ll get over it but I don’t need friends who want to live like that.

Don’t give me a privacy rant, either. Your stuff is out there. If you don’t want it out there, don’t put it out there. If you don’t want anyone but your best friends who you trust implicitly to see it, invite them over for a slideshow, or just email it. But know that once you email it, it’s out there, too. You are, and have always been, completely in charge of what information you want to post. If someone else posts things about you, that’s a whole different problem, and not one I’m speaking to at the moment.

It’s 2014, folks. If you don’t have a Facebook account, that’s your right, but to those of us at the party, it’s as if you are hiding under a table. If you have an account, linked to an email you read, but you don’t use it, well, that’s like coming to the party and standing in the corner. Some of my best friends are corner standers, and that’s cool, but hiding under the table, if you’re under the age of 50 is a bit on the anti-social side. Of course then there are the cases like my brother, who has a Facebook account, but not under his real name, so he’s hiding under the table but peeking out from under the tablecloth. That’s a whole different ball of issues, but since I don’t want him dissecting mine on the internet, I guess I’ll leave him be, even if I do slip him a cookie once in a while. (And by that, I mean that I pass along your greetings, those of you who know him and tell me to say “hi” for you.)

So that’s my rant for today. I know a lot of people don’t see it that way, but I won’t kick you off my friend list for it.

 


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Here we go again…

Here I am again, overwhelmed at the amount of schoolwork and a little panicky about getting it all done. It will get done, it has to get done, but it’s gonna be a manic few months here. Maybe two classes at once is too much at this level. Especially if I have to add some volunteer work. I’m thinking of dropping back to one class at a time. I’ll revisit that thought later. Right now, I’m committed to these two, so I’ll get it done.

Note that, even while eating, there's homework in the background.

Note that, even while eating, there’s homework in the background.

Meanwhile, I’m also determined not to just eat whatever the heck I want to this semester. I’ve dropped a few pounds when classes are out only to pile them back on when classes resume about three times now. I can’t be bothered by the whole calorie counting thing, though. That’s too much trouble anyway. I’m also having some inflammation issues, particularly in my joints, and I’m wondering if diet can help that a bit. So I’ve decided to try a little paleo. I’m going to start with the Whole30 idea and see what happens. Maybe I’ll hate it and that will be the end of it. Maybe I’ll feel a bit better and keep going. Maybe I won’t be able to live without sweetener in my coffee and I’ll last two days and freak out. We’ll see. I know there are a lot of meals considered paleo that I can get excited about. I like that I don’t need to keep track of anything and as long as I keep plenty of veggies and some fruit around, I’ll never have to figure out what to eat. I like that I can cook meat and serve it to me and my family. I will have to make some modifications and maybe I won’t consume the whole meal that the rest of the family gets, but I won’t have to make two separate meals every night, either.

So far, I’m just experimenting with some meals. I have not committed to get started. I’ve got a half a loaf of Ezekiel bread and a chunk of 1000 day gouda I’m not willing to throw out. I’m pleased, though. Last night I had sweet potatoes, onions, and spinach. It was delicious! I was a little shocked at how much I enjoyed it, actually. That’s the dish in the picture. Breakfast was two eggs, spinach, onion, mushrooms, and avocado. I was stuffed. I should have left time for lunch before I go pick up Joey, but I’m going to snack on some sugar snap peas and I think I’ll make it. I’ll keep you posted. I’m not looking forward to giving up alcohol, either, but that’s not exactly a deal breaker.

 

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