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.
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.
A 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.