This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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New Year’s Resolutions #my8for16

Edited to update: I originally used the hashtag #8for16, but some company has a whole marketing thing using that. I don’t need my very own hashtag, but if someone else has already claimed it, I’ll change. So, I changed it to #my8for16. If others use it for other things, that’s fine, but at least it’s not part of some big campaign that I have nothing to do with. 

Christmas Day has come and gone, so naturally we’re all thinking about New Year’s Eve, right? We’ll celebrate in our various ways, and then we’ll all wake up the next day and it will be TWENTY SIXTEEN!

2-0-1-6! I just can’t really wrap my head around that, but that’s how I feel every year. Something feels a little different this year, and I’m a little wigged out about it.

I’ve always been so anti-resolution. I mean, it has always seemed like a great way to set myself up for disappointment, and isn’t life full of disappointments without me pushing my own? I like to think that I can just decide to make life changes whenever and I’ll stick to it, and make changes, and be better, and whatever. But I don’t. Not usually.

But I just finished my MLIS. I set a goal, a big one, and I went about achieving it. I’m pretty proud of myself. I might just have it in me to achieve something else.

If you know me, or if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I’m still struggling with my weight. Getting in shape is always the goal that’s “out there.” “Someday” I’ll tackle that project. “Someday” is usually when I finish grad school, or when the littlest fella is in school full time, or maybe when I get a job and have a routine, or on and on. Well, some somedays are here and some aren’t but there will never be a perfect time!

An hour or so ago, I saw a post on Facebook by a neighborhood mom friend who happens to be a Zumba instructor at the community center in town. She was informing us that there will be a “Resolution Solution” class on New Year’s Day from 10-12, and that it will be fun, and we should come. “All fitness levels,” she said. “No judgement!” “A dance party support group,” she called it. I got caught up in the conversation and before I knew it, I’d registered for the class and promised to come! Huh? What? The word “resolution” is right there in the title of the class. This is so not me!

I’m going to try a little something different this year. I’m going to write down my #my8for16, 8 things I hope to accomplish or improve in 2016. I have faith that I can be more successful if I write them down, share them with an audience, check in regularly, and ask you all to help me be accountable. I will keep them simple, not too ambitious (remember that setting up for failure thing?), and I’ll try to check in with each, at least monthly, maybe on the first of the month?

Here we go…

#my8for16

  1. I’ve got to improve my health. I don’t want to be so specific that it feeds that failure thing. I’m not going to say “I’ll lose 60 pounds” or “I’ll be able to run a 5k.” Those are both worthy goals, and I’d love to say I’ll do that this year, but if this time next year I feel better, eat better, and can wear more of the clothes hiding in the back of my closet, we’ll call this resolution MET! (How about, I’d like to wear a belted sweater by next NYE?)
  2. I’d like to feed my family more whole foods, less processed foods, and get them more involved in food preparation. Again, I’m not going to say that I want each kid preparing their own lunches each morning, or for Girlie Bird to be able to cook dinner once a week. I will say that I’d like for them to have more tools to be able to find their own foods in the kitchen, prepare them responsibly, and clean up after themselves. I’d like to have more nutritious options available, and rely less on quick “convenience” processed options.
  3. I’d like to be working full time by the end of the year. I HAVE to find a job , full or part time, in the early part of the year, but a part time start into this world of working parent would be great. That can’t last long. I’d like to be working full time, or at minimum on my way to working full time, by this time next year.
  4. I’d like to find more ways to declutter our lives. Clean out a drawer a week, or take a load to Goodwill each week? I tend to put these tasks off because they aren’t fun, but I intend to push myself more when it comes to tackling them. I want more space and less STUFF in my house this year. Grad school and homework was my regular excuse for not doing these things, and THAT’S over! Along with the theme of keeping things decluttered and cleaner, I’d like to keep my vehicle cleaner. I’ve got three munchkins who often work against me, but usually after they’ve left a few things behind, I just get lazy and let the whole thing go to hell.2014-new-years-resolution-be-more-awesome
  5. I’d like for us to make more room in our budget for charitable donations. If I’m working, there’s every reason to believe that there might be just the tiniest bit of extra wiggle room in the household finances. In addition, I’d like to find places I can pinch a few pennies into a “giving jar” of some sort. I have to think more about this, and of course discuss it with my co-chair, but I think we should be giving a few more dollars to something.
  6. I’m going to figure out a better storage system for my closet. Maybe I have to move some things into the hopefully soon to be cleared out basement, or something. What I know for sure is that my closet is woefully undersized in floor space, and I’ve got  shoes spilling out ALL THE TIME! I don’t think I have a particularly large collection of shoes. Ladies, back me up, I can feel my husband laughing as I type this. Regardless, they don’t have to be thrown on the floor of the closet to spill out all over the room all the time. There has to be a better way.
  7. I’m going to stop buying any clothes for myself. No. For real. This isn’t a wish, or a “I’d like to…” this is a ban. When I’ve lost some weight, and gotten in shape, I may make a plan and a budget and do some shopping, but for the time being, I’m not going to allow myself to spend money on clothes for myself.
  8. I’m going to keep a prayer journal and list. That’s not for public consumption, but for myself. I pray, I pray all the time, but I always feel so random and scattered. I know that God hears my random and scattered prayers, but I feel like I would benefit from attempting to organize my thoughts and meditations.
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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.

20140131_085237

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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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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“My New Year’s Resolutions” or “Why I won’t make resolutions”

I HATE New Year’s Resolutions. I’m all for taking stock and rethinking one’s plan of attack for getting through each day. I’m on board with the concept of looking over the last year and deciding what worked for you and what didn’t, for consciously making decisions to try and adapt habits that improve one’s life and the lives of those around you. I think the New Year gives most people a great opportunity to mark the passage of another year by doing just that and then making a list of the things they resolve to do in the next calendar year. I also think it’s an invitation for failure and I screw up enough all the time without spelling out the ways I will fail at the beginning of the year.

I try to spend time contemplating how to improve my habits. Sometimes I even try to grab hold of a new plan and make new, better habits. I do this all the time. I am sometimes successful and sometimes not so successful. I don’t spend enough time evaluating, and often I just keep on doing the same old thing because that’s easiest. If I have just one real, honest, improve-my-life resolution, it’s to spend more time and effort evaluating what’s working and what isn’t and to ditch the less than productive habits and actively search out and attempt to ingrain more productive habits. There. That vague enough for you? I mean I do mean to do this. But I have specifically worded it in such a way that there is not measurable criteria to ascertain my success or failure in keeping this resolution.

I was thinking about this whole resolution thing as I checked in on Facebook this morning and came across a post by a friend and fellow blogger. Stacey is a full-time pastor, mom, wife, doctoral student, and crazy productive crafter whose handknits look lovely and often make me drool over her posts. She decided to post her Whimsolutions for 2014, and they’re awesome. Why do “resolutions” HAVE to be about losing weight and eating better, being more organized and frugal, or spending more time on my homework. I knew I should be doing that stuff in October, what makes it easier to accomplish in January? The whimsolutions are just fun. They’re still about improving my quality of life, and that of my family. I am totally stealing this idea, okay not really stealing since I gave her credit, but I’m absolutely copying her.

My Whimsolutions for 2014

1. Learn to knit.

I don’t have to finish some great project or learn a bunch of different methods. I don’t have to make any Christmas gifts for next year or any other such thing. I just want to knit something scarf-like. YouTube tutorials, here I come!

2. Take my daughter shopping more.

She still trusts Grandma and Mommy to dress her and though she has opinions about the things in her closet, she’s mostly happy to let us buy her clothes without her and dress her up. That’s fine, but the time spent together sorting through the clothing racks is excellent girlie bonding time. I think we could be chatting about things we might not talk about at the kitchen table or when I tuck her in at night. I always want to press that you-can-talk-to-me-about-anything vibe and shopping seems to be ideal. Plus, it’s fun.

puzzle3. Do a big jigsaw puzzle with Middle Bird.

I think we might be able to get some of that same bonding time that shopping would afford Girlie and me. And I LOVE jigsaw puzzles. I think he will love them, too.

4. Take Baby Bird to the zoo more often.

We have a membership and we use it, but we could go more. He’ll be in school full time soon enough and I’ll miss the time we could have gone. The dishes can wait.

5. Bake more cookies.

Cookies are the perfect treat. You don’t have to eat a ton of them, and they can even be healthy, though I’m not necessarily committing to baking healthy cookies. This is a WHIMsolution you know. Maybe use this blog post (also recommended by Stacey) to perfect a chocolate chip cookie recipe that this family will love.

6. Buy and wear more fun socks.

I’m in a sock rut. I have five or six pairs of black, and five or six pairs of athletic ankle socks, and a handful of blah brown or black trouser type socks. I see people wearing bright socks and they look like fun. How can it not be?

7. Get manicures and pedicures.

Not all the time, I can’t afford an addiction. But once in a while pay someone else to groom my nails. I’m always happy when I do it, but I haven’t in years.

 

I guess I didn’t really land on a theme, but over all I want to spend more energy on bonding with my kids and doing things that aren’t strictly necessary but that improve our quality of life. Wish me luck?


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Let’s call it what it is. Fat.

A friend posted this on Facebook about “Fat Talk.” You need to watch it to know what I’m talking about. It’s only about two minutes. I’ll wait.

I seem to be seeing a lot of this lately. We’re not supposed to call ourselves “fat” because we’re degrading ourselves and it’s damaging, or some such. Yeah, I get it. I’m supposed to be happy in the skin I’m in. I’m supposed to love myself for who I am. I’m supposed to get past the body image crap that we girls grow up with thanks to society and the media. Well, guess what! I am. I did. I used this body to produce three of the most beautiful children the world has ever seen (yeah, I said it!). I am forty-two years old and looking like I did in high school is not a priority for me, and I’m okay with that. I do not loath my body. I do not hate myself for the extra 60-75 lbs (depending on the month) that I am carrying around.

Let's face it. This is not the chin of a healthy person.

Let’s face it. This is not the chin of a healthy person.

But I am fat. I do need to lose that weight. I don’t need to lose it because I don’t love myself when I’m fat. I need to lose it because I love myself and want to be healthy. I don’t need to lose it because I want to like myself when I look in the mirror. I have to lose it because I DO like myself when I look in the mirror and I want to see that face get old! I don’t need to lose it so I can strut in a bikini, that ain’t ever happening again at any weight. I need to lose it so I can breathe better at night, so my knees feel better, so I don’t get so winded running around after my kids. I’m so out of shape, it’s almost as bad as when I was smoking. Almost. I don’t hate myself for being fat. I do get upset with myself for letting it get this bad.

I have a daughter about to turn ten years old. She is already well aware of the whole body image thing. She knows that her mom is overweight. We can say fat. I am fat. We can just call it overweight if that feels more like a medical term and makes everyone comfortable, but it’s semantics. My daughter knows that I am struggling with my own issues that cause me to gain weight and to shirk my responsibility for my health. But let me be clear, any negative body image crap she’s picking up on is not coming from me. She has NEVER heard me say that I hate any part of my body. She has heard me say that I am disappointed in myself for not getting healthy. She has never heard me “wish” to be thin. She has never known a time when her Mommy wasn’t willing to dress up with her and feel pretty. To walk tall and confident. I’m far more proud of that confidence that I’m trying to pass on to her than I am ashamed of my short falls in the fitness area.

And even more importantly, she has never seen her father wane is his attraction to me. She has never, EVER heard him make any disparaging remark about my body, my weight, my size, or my clothes. She has never heard him say anything to me or about me except that I am beautiful. I know this because that’s all I have ever heard from him. Yes, I am a lucky woman. If I could wish anything for my daughter, it’s not that she always stay in shape. So many things can affect how fit a person is at any given stage in life. I wish her health, but fitness is not as important as confidence. My one wish for her would be that she always be confident enough to wait for that man who will love her like her daddy loves me. And for that matter like my father loves my mother. Some extra weight has never been a reason for even the most mild of negative thought or remark.

The media is pounding on my girl every minute about body image. I know. And for lots of girls it’s too much. I pray every day that she will be stronger than that. I think I’m doing the best I can for her on this one, though. Not by going on about how beautiful she is no matter her size, and not by telling her that fat is beautiful. Instead I’m showing her that fat is just another thing. I’m also really bad at keeping up with the laundry. None of us is good at everything. I’m not so good at staying healthy, but I’m working on it. It’s a constant struggle. I think I’m pretty emotionally healthy, if not physically.

All that said, I’ll be jumping back on the wagon after the holidays. We had family pictures taken for the church directory yesterday. That was a bit painful. I swear I don’t look that fat in the mirror. I did not see a healthy woman in that picture. I did see a happy one, though.

 


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Rainy day AND Monday

It’s not so bad.  We’ve had beautiful weather this week.  The kind of beautiful weather I moved to Ohio for.  Highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s.  Sunny, sweet, spring days.  The kind of weather a bride hopes for.  I’ve so enjoyed it, but after a week or so, I think we all begin to take it for granted, to forget that weather is something we have to plan around here in the midwest.  Don’t ASSUME you will have beautiful weather when you have time to do yard work, or a picnic, or any other outdoor activity.  If you’re planning more than a week or so out, you’ve got a 50/50 shot at best, depending on the time of year.

My weight fluctuated hugely this week.  On Thursday morning I was at 190.4.  That’s almost 10 lbs down on WW, and nearly 15 total.  This morning’s official weigh in was not so lovely, though.  194.4 lbs, up a little less than a pound from last week.  Weird.  Well, not really.  I was not very careful this weekend.  I did not not track well, and completely ignored counting alcoholic beverages.  Must change that habit this week.  I know that deprivation doesn’t work in the long run, but I am determined to be at 185 or lower before I go to Florida for my BFF’s 40th Birthday Party in two weeks.  I won’t look like a super model, but at least I won’t look like a cow.  So, this week and next, I will be keeping my total points at least 5 points below my limit and I will not use any of my weekly points.  I will not drink alcohol (much), and I will keep my largest meal to lunch.  I’d like to say that I won’t eat anything after 7pm, but that may not be practical.  I can’t sustain that lifestyle for long, but I think I can do it for a couple weeks before a trip.

On the good side of this weight loss journey, I can feel the difference.  Clothes fit just a little differently.  I can cross my legs again.  My bras fit.  So, there’s that.

 


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I’m baaaaaack….

Okay, so I want to get back into the swing of this blogging thing.  I’ve been between classes for over a month now, and I haven’t done much of anything that I’d hoped to do during this break!  I was going to tell you all sorts of things.  I was going to paint the baseboards.  I was going to redo the kids’ bathroom.

DSC_0172What have I been up to?  Well, I sorted out all of our winter and summer clothes.  Doesn’t sound like much, does it, but I started the process way back here on April 4th.  That was just the beginning.  Then the keep stuff has to get packed up again.  THEN, the closets and drawers in our rooms have to be cleaned out.  Winter stuff gets removed, summer stuff stowed.  And all the while they keep WEARING clothes and putting them down the laundry chute, so the whole laundry process must continue.  I’ve also started sorting out the other junk in the basement and gotten rid of a couple old strollers, infant car seats, baby bathtubs, outgrown shoes, a crib mattress, and various other items that were just taking up space in our very limited storage area.  So, there’s all that.

I’ve continued to put energy into this weight loss thing.  Sometimes it’s only mental energy, but that’s something.  I completely blew off the tracking thing from Thursday to Sunday this week.  I could give you my entire justification process, but as I know that it is just that, justification, I won’t bore you with it.  I was sure that when I stepped on the scale today I would be lucky to have maintained.  Nope, I lost 2.4 pounds.  It’s true, I didn’t go crazy over the weekend, other than maybe some extra bread here and there that was totally unnecessary.  We had a lovely lunch at Bravo! after church yesterday with my parents and an old and dear friend visiting from out of town.  I enjoyed a couple pieces of bread and a glass or two of wine, but I did order from the “lighter” menu and avoided the heavy pasta.  I thought it might be enough to keep me from packing on a couple of pounds.  I’m guessing that even if I’m good this week, I’ll find myself holding steady next Monday.  I’ve made peace with that, so we’ll just be good and move on.

Today, I’m glad for my Monday morning respite.  I should go take a shower, but I probably won’t.  I am too jealous of the opportunity to sit at the computer and write or surf with no interruptions.  I can pin the Baby Bird into the family room with a favorite TV show and get 24 minutes to go take a shower.  I almost never get an entire hour, almost two, to just sit at the table in front of the keyboard.  Monday mornings are a rarity.  Except, I could go see if there’s that sweater on sale at Old Navy that I wanted.  Maybe in a minute.

Summer is going to be crazy.  I start my classes the first week or so in June, and the big kids will be busy with softball and baseball.  The calendar is filling up and I’m a little nervous.  I’m glad it’s only going to be six weeks or so of chaos and I’m looking forward to those two weeks in August where everything is over and school hasn’t started yet.  I can’t believe I’m going to have a 3rd and 4th grader!  That’s nuts!

Okay, now it feels like I’m just rambling, so I’ll wrap it up.  Maybe I’ll pop back in this afternoon.