Monday, December 31, 2012

Just one more thing

I've continued to ponder whether I'm going to make any other New Year's resolutions besides the Whole30, and I realized something important: The things I want to do, I'm going to do with or without a resolution. (I'd put in that category several exercise-related ideas, finishing with Romans, doing a sprint triathlon this summer, reading more, experimenting with new foods, and so on.) But if my resolutions are things I DON'T want to do, then I'm going to really struggle and probably not succeed.

Some might conclude that I'm an idiot for not having had that amazing revelation about 20 years ago and that there's no point in my making resolutions at all. But I tend to conclude that I actually enjoy setting goals and that New Year's Day would be a pointless holiday without them. I just need to resolve to do something I wouldn't have done otherwise but is totally manageable.

Gretchen Rubin had an idea in The Happiness Project that fits the bill perfectly: "Suffer for 15 minutes." The idea is to set a timer for 15 minutes each day and use that time (and only that time) to gradually tackle a huge, daunting project that you know should do but you never seem to get around to. She used her time to organize her photos and make albums for each of her kids. That chore is on my list, too, but it's actually SO daunting that I'm going to postpone it for a while and start with something easier. I think Job One will be to clean up my disastrously outdated address book and digitize it. I can also clean out my file cabinets, organize my pile of loose-leaf recipes, purge and clean the laundry room, and get some photos in frames. (It all sounds dreadful, doesn't it?) So…any digital address book recommendations?

Happy 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Back from Disney World

Wow, nothing like two weeks of horrible eating to get a person on board with a dietary New Year's resolution! We were in Orlando over Christmas, and while it was really fun to indulge in every junk food known to man (except for the funnel cakes, which for some reason I drew the line at), I am more than ready to clean up my act. It should be pretty easy, since my husband and about a thousand other people on the ten thousand blogs I read will be joining me.

In case you're curious, we'll all be doing this. Except M.H. says he's doing a Whole180, and more power to him. Maybe I'll even join him if we're on a roll and I magically lose all desire for pizza.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thinking about New Year's resolutions

I've been trying to decide if I want to make some New Year's resolutions or set some goals or intentions for 2013, and if so, what those resolutions/goals/intentions should be.

I don't want to make the mistake I made last year and set a bunch of goals so ambitious that I don't end up achieving ANY of them. Well, I could still give nine more items to charity to meet my goal of getting rid of 100 extraneous things, but even that wouldn't technically count since I had originally intended to sell those 100 things on eBay (ha ha ha ha ha ha). And anyway, I can't see "trip to Goodwill" even making it on to a to-do list that already includes work, editing M.H.'s new book, sending out cards, hosting an early Christmas party with my in-laws, and getting ready for a trip to Florida.

M.H. has told me that he plans to drastically clean up his diet starting January 1, so it would be pretty easy to jump onto that bandwagon, but I'm not sure I'm in the right mind-set for extreme self-denial. I'm pretty happy with my normal, medium amount of self-denial, which actually feels like no self-denial at all, since I was pretty successful at permanently changing my eating habits in 2012, which is funny since it wasn't even one of my goals.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No guts, no glory

I had a breakthrough of sorts at swim posse this week: I did the workout, and then I didn't feel drained and exhausted for the rest of the day. I guess that means I'm ready to make the jump from one practice a week to two, maybe. I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the class at first, but now I really do. It's actually nice to have somebody else write the workouts, and to have friendly lanemates in the pool.

See, that's the kind of class my gym should offer more of. That spinning instructor from last week is still bugging me. I think it's because the message a class like that sends is, "The way to be healthy is to beat your body into submission." Honestly, even though it's not really my thing anymore, I have nothing against a nice, hard workout. It's just that if the class has to be shouted through the whole thing, presumably to overcome the screaming in their legs or chests, then something's not right. (To say nothing of the "it's never good enough" mentality, but I can't believe the instructor actually meant that. I suppose all sorts of stupid things come out when you have to shout for an hour straight.)

I think the motivation in swim posse is a lot closer to healthy: a) fun, b) friendly competition, and c) wanting to be a faster swimmer.

…And d) unsuccessfully trying to relive my glory days, but that's not really the gym's fault.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I haven't been on a bike in 18 months, but I know I might need to again at some point, since I'm planning to sign up for a sprint triathlon next summer with Mik. And so I guess that's why I was susceptible to being talked into trying a cycling class this morning, even though I could have predicted that I was going to hate it.

Now that it's over, I'm not sure I can adequately express how much I did hate it.

It was too dark and too loud, which I was expecting. The instructor barked at us a lot, which I was expecting. The music was not really to my taste, which I was expecting.

But I was unnerved by the unrelenting "go hard or go home" vibe. Examples:

  • "I want to see sweat pouring down your face right now!"
  • "If you're thinking about anything other than your legs, that's a sign that you need to pick it up and get focused!"

Naturally, I got a bit rebellious. I started turning the resistance down instead of up whenever I felt like it and daydreaming (in direct violation of edict #2) about what I'd like to say to the instructor. About how a sweat-pouring-down-your-face workout might not be appropriate or safe for everyone. About how, actually, studies show that subjecting ourselves to this kind of relentless cardio for an hour straight is counterproductive. But that was before these doozies:

  • "You might not like this kind of workout, but who cares? You're not here to be entertained; you're here to work!"
  • "However hard you're going right now, it's not enough. It's never enough, just like in life.

Okay, first of all, I actually was there to be entertained. (Maybe that's just me.) But…It's never enough, just like in life? We must strive and struggle and suffer in a quest for perfection until the day we die?

Chamber of horrors. Seriously. And yet people must buy into it, because the class was completely full.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Marriage and the art of egg carton management

M.H. and I have been married almost 20 years, and the other day I mentioned one of his little quirks that I had been cheerfully humoring for a long time. It's no big deal. It's just that he likes there to be an even number of eggs left in the egg carton. So, if at all possible, we always try to use them in pairs. And if the number is odd, we might hard-boil five eggs instead of four to restore balance. And just for fun, we make a kind of unspoken game out of always having the eggs arranged in a symmetrical pattern, so if you weren't the last one to use them, you get a little surprise when you open the carton. I know the whole thing is ridiculous, but it's always brought me some small delight to play along with this harmless eccentricity in someone I love.

Except M.H. had no idea what I was talking about. He thought the entire thing had been my neurotic little quirk, and he'd been the one humoring me all these years.

Don't you think it's funny how a marriage itself can develop charming little quirks?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kitchen incompetence

I have the sense of having been in the kitchen all day, and what do I have to show for it?* A huge stack of dishes, a food processor that's been washed eight times but is dirty again, crumbs all over the counters, overflowing trash, a sick feeling from too much sampling, and ONE finished dessert for tomorrow.

(There should have been a second dessert, but I burned it. The edible portions were very tasty, though, so that gives me the heart for a second attempt.)

I feel like I should videotape myself cooking to try to analyze just how I always manage to accomplish so little while feeling so frantic and leaving such a huge disaster. It doesn't help that Paleo cooking is a thousand times more complicated than microwaving cheese onto a tortilla.

* Besides breakfast, lunch, and dinner** for a family of four, which I admit is something.
** Some had dinner; some had had too much burned test cake. The point is, we're full.

Friday, November 16, 2012


My mom always hosts Thanksgiving, so I've never had to deal with turkey guts or gravy lumps or had to try to get 15 things on the table all at once or any of that nonsense. It's great. But I do like to contribute something beyond just stirring whatever she tells me to stir and saying grace. But what could it be this year?

Turkey is out, obviously. Potatoes have to be finished at her house, and she'd have them peeled and ready to go by the time we got there anyway. Rolls are pure evil and I want no part of them. The relish tray is better done by her (trust me) and can also be done in advance. The cranberry sauce is just the canned stuff, because that's what Grandma likes, and it's pointless to have two kinds. I mentioned asparagus, and my dad made his "you disgust me with your continued insistence on healthy eating" face.

Well, I thought, I could bring desserts! I have about a hundred Paleo dessert recipes bookmarked, and I've hardly gotten to try any of them. Less-bad-for-you indulgences! My mind started clicking.

"Now, wait a minute," my dad said suspiciously. "When you say 'dessert'…are you talking about something somebody else might actually want to eat?"

"Oh, I think I'd better at least make a pie," my mom added. (Which actually, when translated, means, "I'd better make three or four kinds of pie.")

Oh, well. What can you do? I'll show up on Thursday with a heart full of gratitude—along with some asparagus and several dubious-looking desserts—and let the chips fall where they may. And I might even have some pie.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Honey, I'm home!

I finished Happier at Home, and as predicted it's giving me all sorts of New Life Plan ideas!

(By the way, M.H. is all too aware of this, and he also knows there's a chapter in the book about marriage. So now whenever I do anything nice for him, he asks suspiciously, "Are you Happiness Project-ing me?" Sheesh. I mean, not yet.)

Anyway, I realized that a source of anxiety for me is the fact that my job is almost never "done." (And of course when it is "done," freelancer panic starts to set in.) Instead of having a quitting time where I leave work behind and forget all about it, I bounce back and forth between working and not working all morning and afternoon and then sit at my desk late into the evening until I can't stand it anymore. And although I do take a fair amount of time off, I never feel like it's a good time to do it, because there's always more work waiting. It's as if I live at the office and just duck out occasionally to run personal errands. It know would be smart to set some office hours, but the problem is that my work volume ebbs and flows a lot and has pretty varied deadlines and timing.

But today I realized that while I would probably never be able to set office hours, I could try to keep some "home hours," when, barring a crisis, I am always off duty. I decided that from 2:30 to 4:30 every afternoon, I will be officially Home from Work. Today I used the time to go for a run, take a shower, cook dinner, sing until my kids begged me to stop, eat with the family, and help clean the kitchen. And you know, it's exactly the same kind of stuff I usually do anyway at that time of day, but it was strangely relaxing just to change my mind-set about it.

Okay, last one.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Car trouble

I drove Dex 150 miles to Bozeman on Saturday for a climbing comp, and while I was getting us lunch, I locked myself out of the minivan. It cost me $40 to get back in, but I wasn't really upset about it, because of course there are a lot worse things that can happen when you're traveling.

On Sunday, we took the van 50 miles in the other direction for Day 2 of Mik's swim meet in Hardin. Just as we got back into town it started coughing and stalling and lurching, and now it's at the shop and we're discussing for the upteenth time whether it's worth repairing or if we should just buy a new car.

I know there are still a lot worse things that can happen when you're traveling, but I would really prefer that the downward spiral just stop right there.

Actually, this weekend was terrific otherwise, but I'm too exhausted to write about everything. If you're interested in my children's athletic triumphs, go ahead and give them a call, why don't you?

The young superstars.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Partway-through reviews

I've realized that, for various reasons, I'm now reading seven books at once (plus indexing one for Happy, but that is unpleasant and doesn't count). This is pretty unusual for me, and to be frank, some of them may not ultimately be finished, so it might be an exaggeration to say I'm "reading" them. I just haven't committed to abandoning them yet.

Anyway, here are my partway-through reviews:
  • Music for Torching by A.M. Homes. I'm reading A.M. Homes because yrmama told me to, and I'm reading this Homes because it's the only one our library had available. I'm on page 81, but it's a little weird for my taste. I think I would probably ultimately like it, but it's not my most pressing reading.
  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. I don't know what my problem is with this book. This is the second or third time I've tried to read it, and although I find it dreamy, I just can't get through it. The last time I remember picking this up, I was sitting on my front porch in the summer sun.
  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. I really like Buffy and friends, and I really like Abraham Lincoln, but I still would never have picked this up except that M.H. told me I would love it. I only just like it, and since I'm listening to the audiobook, I don't get to it very often.
  • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Mik has to read some nonfiction for a book report this month, and this is one I picked up because I remembered really liking it and thought he might, too. He had no interest whatsoever, but I'm about three chapters in already.
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I grabbed this with Mik's book report in mind as well, but the more I browsed through it, the more I thought Dex—perhaps the most introverted person in a family of introverts—might really get something out of it. Of course that kind of recommendation has zero cachet with a 14-year-old, so the new plan is to read it and then read the best parts to him, because that's my way.
  • Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. My favorite yoga instructor is always talking to me about books, and she was all excited about this one and offered to let me borrow it. On my own, I would have never made it past the sentence, "And yet, from time to time a gust of uneasiness would blow through the back rooms of my mind, as if a window had been left open there and a storm had come through and my neatly stacked pages of notes on being human had blown off the desk." Now, of course, I will have to finish it in a polite interval and get it back to her.
  • Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. This is just not as good as her The Happiness Project, but it's the kind of book I love because it gives me all sorts of ideas for working on my next New Life Plan. I'm tearing through it and have a few resolution ideas already. "Make more time to read," for example.

The eclectic reader on her photo shoot.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Wow, the barefoot running did a number on my calves. I found myself walking down the stairs sideways this morning to avoid making the delayed-onset muscle soreness…angry, and I realized, "I lived like this for nine months." Calves, hamstrings, quads, feet—something always hurt, and I always had to keep training and creatively navigating the stairs anyway. Because Ironman!

I wonder now if that was even the best way to train, or if it would have been smarter to take more time to let myself heal between workouts. I'm actually not sure, but I do know this: I don't have a single reason in the world now to run again until my calves feel better.

Also this: It's so much more fun to have done an Ironman than to be doing one.

The has-been on her photo shoot.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Aquafoot running

I put on running clothes and stepped out the front door again—have I mentioned how very much that is the hard part?—and had a lovely run. A bit farther than last time. Maybe two miles?

So I've been reading a lot about the benefits of barefoot running but have not actually tried it except on a treadmill for a short time a few times a long time ago. The problem is that spending a bunch of money on fancy "barefoot" shoes has seemed insane, especially when I still own TWO pairs of fancy "running" shoes with less than 50 miles on them. (Running with actually-bare feet also seems insane. And chilly.)

But I remembered reading a suggestion somewhere to just buy aqua shoes, which have tough soles, traction, and full coverage, but no unnecessary support. I already have a pair of those, so I slipped them on and took off. And it was good! Nothing hurt, and my feet felt so wonderfully free and wiggly. I've always loved going barefoot, so barring any pain from this, I'm going to try it for a while.

A little too excited about wiggly toes?

Monday, November 5, 2012

A habit half-kicked

So now that the Halloween candy is…actually, I'm not sure what happened to it. I can only assume M.H. hid it from me and is planning to eat it all himself. I'm the one who started the whole being-sneaky-about-the-candy thing, so I'm not pointing fingers. But the point is, now that the Halloween candy is out of sight, it feels like I do have the sugar issue under control after all. I'm happily eating my asparagus and salads and chili and eggs and avocados and whatnot, and I have no serious desire to hunt down the bag of leftover candy and make it mysteriously disappear.*

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my craving for sugar is no longer physical but psychological. So at least the habit is half-kicked. If people would just keep it away from me, I'd be fine.

You hear that, people? Keep that crap away from me. And don't tell me you're keeping it away from me, just hide it when you see me coming. For real.

* Into my mouth.

The addict on her photo shoot.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Aw, sugar sugar

So for the past several years, I've planned a "sugar fast" between Halloween and Christmas, excluding only birthdays and holidays. I wasn't going to bother this year because I thought I had the whole sugar issue under control, but guess what happened!! We bought a bag of crazy-evil Halloween candy!! On the 29th, it started seductively whispering my name, and I convinced M.H. that we should make a tiny incision in the bag to pull out a couple of fun size candy bars—it was his gallbladder surgery that gave me the idea—and that way the kids wouldn't even realize it had been opened.

Of course "a couple" turned into a couple more, and then a "couple" more the next day, and then a complete avalanche on Halloween itself. (Side note: We also gorged on kale chips, because my sister-in-law and family were in town, and that was what my nephew requested for a treat. They are better than I remember.)

Then I had a sugar-free day; then I went to my dad's birthday party yesterday and had ice cream plus a million more fun-sized death sticks at their house (apparently acceptable under the birthday exception clause).

So I kind of think a strict sugar ban is in order after all, even though I wish I were mature enough to just eat responsibly without a stinking rule. Actually, what I wish is that our culture wasn't so saturated with sugar, because think how easy this all would be if the law didn't require cake and ice cream on every birthday and a giant bag of candy on every Halloween.

The co-conspirator,
and Mik at his most photogenic,
on the photo shoot.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It was worth it just to get outside my office

Why, yes, I did walk out the door in running clothes today. And then, in fact, I ran. I don't know how far* or how fast** it was, but I DO know how cold it was: 27 degrees, that's how cold. I clearly didn't pick the best day for this, but the fact is I didn't pick it; I just took advantage of my one moment this week when didn't need to be sitting at my stupid desk, grumbling about my stupid sore hip and earning my Grumpy money.

Oh, the run? It was fine. In fact, if I'm comparing it to other first-run-after-a-long-running-hiatus-es, it was probably the best one ever.

Back to work.

* More than one mile, less than two.
** Felt pretty fast, for me.

The wage-earner, on her photo shoot.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oh, my aching…

So the problem I've been having lately is that every time I sit anywhere for about 20 minutes or so—you know, like, here at my desk, for example—my right hip starts aching. I've been reading about how sitting is killing everyone and we're all apparently supposed to get up for a break every 20 minutes anyway, so I'm considering that this might just be a blessing in disguise.

I'm also considering that it might be the worst thing that ever happened to anyone ever.

It's driving me nuts, because my work requires concentration—and has deadlines—and unhealthy though it may be, it would be really nice to be able to sit and focus for three or four hours straight.

I've wondered if a standing desk is a solution, but whenever I rig something like that up, I find it even more difficult and irritating to work for long periods of time. So I'm thinking very seriously about a kneeling chair. Would that help? Does anyone have any experience using them?

The grumpy old lady on her photo shoot.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Walking out the front door is the hard part

The weather has been pretty nice, and I'm seeing more runners than ever outside. It looks…fun. (What's that? Nostalgia for running? Is this because deep down I want to run 100 miles? That's so weird.) But twice this week I've decided to go for a short run and then not actually done it. I'm not sure exactly what the hesitation is.

Well, okay. Part of it is my new-found conviction that too much exercise is not at all beneficial, and I've been reading about how "chronic cardio" is actually bad for you. And I'm already really happy with my yoga classes, swim posse, and occasional weight-lifting session. On the other hand, the kind of running I always enjoyed most was the long, slow kind, and I know from my heart-rate-monitor-wearing days that I can do that well below the cardio range—maybe even more easily now that I weigh 30 pounds less. Plus, I used to like running, and surely the fun factor counts for something.

Okay. I've talked myself into it. The goal for this week is to walk out the front door in running clothes and see what happens.

The runner on her photo shoot.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today's soapbox speech

One of my jobs (for Grumpy) is to listen to companies' quarterly earnings conference calls and edit the transcripts. I actually enjoy this a lot, and pretty often I use the information in them for my own investing decisions. Today I was slated to hear the earnings call for a midsized pharmaceutical company, and since I don't currently own any pharmaceutical stock, I was curious to see if it was at all promising.

Sigh. Here are some of the diseases the company makes drugs for: Depression. Fibromyalgia. Alzheimer's. Irritable bowel. Anxiety. High blood pressure.

Diseases linked to diet. Diseases almost no one should have to suffer with! Here's a multimillion-dollar business that stays afloat simply because people don't understand what kind of food is good for them and what kind of power their food has to make them sick.

Like the evil cereal and tobacco companies, this one's days are numbered. (Sell! Sell!)

I'm an optimist, but I really think it's about five more years until we reach a turning point where high-quality organic food is affordable and easy to find—and diseases that still need curing are rare and expensive.

The optimist on her photo shoot. Hope you can see it now!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Last night I dragged my camera, tripod, and family to a scenic location to see if I could get professional-looking portraits of us without actually having any professionals around anywhere. It was too cloudy to get the magic-hour sunlight I wanted, but, still, I don't think we did half bad. (Although someone should probably take away my Picasa special effects.)

I would probably do this once a week if my family would stand for it.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why we clean kitchens

I was ranting to M.H. about the criminally flawed eating recommendations that have been pushed on Americans since the '70s (and if you were reading Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, as I am, you would be ranting about the same thing, so shut up) and I realized that rather than just sitting there, I could be ranting while cleaning out the kitchen cupboard that's been bugging me lately.

M.H. thought we might as well empty the whole thing out and start fresh, and after we did that, we realized that there were a couple of other cupboards filled with similar items, and we might as well empty those out, too, if we were going to be reorganizing.

You can guess where this ended: Three hours later, the entire kitchen was reorganized, a long-forgotten paper towel rack was installed, everything was shiny, and I had 22 new items to give to charity. A garage cleaning a few weeks ago yielded 40 more giveaway items, and I've also got 16 outgrown/opposite-of-outgrown items of clothing to give away. One trip to the Montana Rescue Mission, and I'll be ninety percent of the way to my goal. Since I took eBay out of the equation, getting rid of extraneous junk has been a snap!

But that's not the moral of this blog post. The moral of this blog post is that any book that gets you so fired up that simply talking about it produces the fuel for a three-hour organizing juggernaut is a good book that a lot of people should take a look at.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Where bad ideas come from

I saw a picture on Facebook from the Yellowstone-Teton 100-miler, a young guy running through gorgeous scenery. Well, Yellowstone to Teton? It would be gorgeous. I'd never heard of the race, which is odd since it's relatively local.

I Googled it and found some old results. Huh, looks like it just started in 2011. Checked out how many participants there were and their finishing times—only a handful, no one I knew, and man it takes a long time to run 100 miles. There was a 50-miler, too, but of course then you don't get to run from Yellowstone Park to the foot of the Grand Tetons.

Downhill all the way.
Went to the official website. Looked at pictures. Found a course map and an elevation chart. Looked at the dates and price.

THEN I realized I was doing all this curiosity-satisfying with an enormous grin on my face. How stupid is that? I don't even run anymore.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weird Al time

Oh, can you even believe Dex is sick? Me NEITHER. Except that I'm so used to him being sick that, in a way, each passing day when he was not sick was kind of a delightful surprise. (Tinged, of course, with satisfaction at my own cleverness in making him drink all that tea.)

But now—filled with sorrow and sympathy rather than happy smugness—I am medicating his little buns off and taking him in half an hour to a Weird Al concert. This is such bad timing, even for the fourth-biggest Weird Al fan* in our family of four. I certainly hope he can rally enough to have fun.

* We ranked our fandom yesterday, and it goes M.H., Mik, me, Dex. Mik says he'd definitely be the biggest fan if only he'd been alive to fully appreciate all the '80s parodies.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

And I'm extra special, too

What a pantywaist!
I was going to skip insane-lady yoga tonight, but my dear husband told me I'd regret it if I did and then called me "a pantywaist."

pantywaist. n. A child's undergarment consisting of a shirt and pants buttoned together at the waist. 

That definition seems archaic, since I have never heard of a modern child being dressed in such a garment. But from this old ad I found, one can clearly infer that pantywaist in the modern sense must mean a content youthful person with well-managed hair who cares about his/her health, is comfortable in his/her own skin, and puts a premium on comfort and value. Plus: sexy knees.

Awww. He knows me so well.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Free triathlon advice, just ask

My gym has a new "swimming class"; it's kind of like a mini masters team, but free, and with no ambition to be competitive. Just a bunch of people who get together to swim, and an instructor who brings laminated cards with the workouts. Perfect!

I found the whole thing shockingly exhausting this morning, so there's reason enough right there to keep going. (How long has it been since I've swum??) But the really nice thing was getting to meet some other swimmers, especially a woman about my age who's training for an Ironman next July. I told her I'd love to hear all about her training, and she told me she'd love to ask me for advice. I said, "Please do, because there's nothing I enjoy talking about more!" I think this was true. The trick will be getting me to stop, really.

This is still not a triathlon blog, but the Ironman does fall under TheBombDotMom umbrella, so if you'd like advice on how to finish one, you know who to come to.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Formerly Zero to 140.6

I'm playing around with my blog name again, so don't freak out if you see this in your reader and have no idea where "TheBombDotMom" came from.

Where did TheBombDotMom come from? Well, friends, that's what I say to my kids when something is so awesome that I want to see their little eyes roll into the backs of their little heads.

I like it as a blog name, though, because pretty much everything I do is TheBombDotMom. Here's all the proof you need: I was into knitting before it was cool. I became a home-based freelancer before it was cool. I promoted my husband* to full-time homemaker before it was cool. And now I'm really into eating Paleo, so I give it about another year before all the celebrities are doing it.

* And he self-published a book before it was cool, so you can tell I married well.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Excuses, excuses

Since the year is 75% over as of the end of today (I know, right?), I thought I'd check in on my 2012 goals so we could all have a good laugh together:
  • Memorize 10,000 words (44% done): I said that as long as I kept up with my Romans-memorizing group, I'd be satisfied with wherever I ended up on this one. So far, we've done the first seven chapters, plus part of Chapter 8, for a total of 4,413 words. So it's slow going, but I am satisfied, and the group has been a lot of fun—wild and crazy Bible-memorizers that we are.
  • Walk 1,000 miles (43% done): At some point I figured out that there was no way I was going to walk that many miles and still have time for yoga and other forms of exercise, and I didn't want walking to actually become a detriment to my well-being. So I'm still trying to walk as much as is reasonable, but I'm not terribly concerned about having blown this goal. It turns out that 1,000 miles is a whole lot of walking. (Just ask my mom, who is on track to hit 1,000 sometime in November. And who is annoyed with me for getting her started on this craziness and then not following through. Sorry!)
  • Sell 100 items on eBay (12% done): Selling twelve items was enough to teach me that eBay is not a particularly efficient or profitable way to get rid of stuff, if only because it makes me do my least favorite thing in the world, which is paying through the teeth for postage. But I don't want to give up on this goal entirely, because we have tons of stuff that we should get rid of. I think in the name of simplicity I'll spend the next few months rounding up 88 items to give to charity, or to my nieces and nephews, and call this one good.
  • Lose 10 pounds (80% done): Gasp! Ahead of schedule! I was trying to get to 159, and I weigh 161 right now. Piece of cake.
  • Write 1 children's book (0% done): Hmmph. I've done a lot of writing this year but have given very little thought to that kind of writing. I know it's a bad idea to spend your life waiting for inspiration that may never come, but I would like at least a kernel of a good idea before I launch into something. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Insane-lady yoga

Last night, I felt good. Real good. Like, I was debating whether to go to yoga, try the new "Body Combat" fitness class, or just go run off all my extra steam on my own because neither of those would be enough for me.

I've got to say, I probably would have chosen the fitness class if it had been anything other than "Body Combat." I had a lot of energy, but it was a happy energy, not an "I want to punch something" energy. But I'd heard the new Thursday night yoga class was challenging, so I figured that would be good enough.

When I walked in, it seemed pretty yoga-like, dark and serene and all, except that the music that was softly playing was one of those generic, poppy, fitnessy songs, where you can practically hear them going, "ONE two three four FIVE six seven eight! ONE two three four FIVE six seven eight!"

Then the music got turned up, the class started, and we were going "ONE two three four FIVE six seven eight!" except it was "Crescent lunge! Warrior one! Pyramid! Warrior three! Again!" And squats. A million squats. (Except of course in this class they were called "Chair.")

I wasn't sure what to think. In a way, it was exactly what I wanted, but never dreamed existed. But in another way, it seems so…unyogalike to fly into poses at double-time. Isn't someone going to get hurt? Possibly someone over 40? Like me? I think next time I have a boatload of energy, I'll try the class again, but this time I'm going to stand off in a corner and do everything on Julie-time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In which we all eat a Paleo dinner together

False alarm: Mik wasn't really sick, it was just allergies. Good thing, because I tried to make him drink some green tea when I thought he was falling ill, and it was just pathetic. What I perceive as a light, citrusy taste, he apparently experiences as a gag-inducing horror.

I'm making my way out of my own picky eating step by gradual step, so I need to remember not to spring too much on the kid at once.

Tonight felt like a breakthrough, though. I made a dish M.H. and I have been enjoying lately but have never really served to the kids. It's ground pork, onions, carrots, broccoli, garlic, and cabbage. The sauce is coconut aminos, fish sauce, lime juice, almond butter, salt, pepper, and basil. I also made cauliflower "rice" and sliced a couple of apples.

Then I sat everyone down, made a casual comment about how I was "living the dream" of serving the same food to every member of the family, AND THEY ALL ATE IT. Just like that, with no threats or drama.

Was it a dream?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Anecdotal evidence, and more on cookies

For what it's worth:
  • Mik (who does not drink green tea) seems to be catching a cold. Dex (two cups of green tea a day) is still fine. That's not the normal order of things.
  • My sister told me she has been giving her 7-year-old a cup of green tea a day, but she doesn't give it to her two younger kids. The 7-year-old was the only one who didn't barf at least once last week.
In other news, I bought a green plantain and used it as a Paleo cookie ingredient. The cookies were not perfect, but they were highly, highly promising. Further research will be required. Unfortunately, since plantains are members of the banana family, they're all but a banned substance in my house. I'm going to have to acquire them on the sly somehow, since I don't usually do the grocery shopping.

The kids keep complaining (through mouthfuls of cookies) that they liked the OLD cookie recipe, and why do I keep messing with it? What they don't realize is that the day I stop messing with the recipe is the day I get bored and stop making cookies all the time.

Also, there is no "old" recipe; I've literally never made the same one twice, even after writing it down. That's just the way of me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The quest for cookie perfection

One lingering effect of the Whole"30" is that it makes me think before popping something into my mouth. Lick off the spoon after stirring the kids' rice? Not really worth it. Eat the quarter of a hashbrown Mik left on his plate when he left for school? Totally worth it!

At least I think about it more, is my point.

The unfortunate part of having quit the strict program, though, is the wild, reckless, dangerous freedom I've had to resume experimenting with Paleo chocolate-chip cookies. (I just keep getting better and better, I tell you.) One cookie contains about a quarter-teaspoon of pure maple syrup, plus five or six chocolate chips, as the only sweetener. That means they easily meet my kid-snack standard of "better for you than Frosted Mini-Wheats," so I let the boys have about six each last night. They do not, however, meet my own snack standard of "lay off the nuts, for crying out loud," so I'm really a danger to myself.

The goal is to get them as tasty as possible while minimizing the sugars, and after that I'll settle on a recipe and be able to continue to make them for the kids once in a while without needing to sample every batch. Anything is possible when you believe in yourself.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sneezy is dead; long live Sneezy

I got my final check today from the employer formerly known as Sneezy; it took at least a month longer than it should have, but I'm just grateful to accept my pittance and move on.

I also found out that that publishing company I applied for ages ago actually DID put me on their freelancers list. I never heard from them after turning in my editing test, so I assumed I had not gotten the job—silence is the new no—but apparently they just neglected to tell me (which really doesn't bode all that well for our future together, actually). I still haven't seen any work from them, but I guess they can be the new Sneezy anyway. It's nice to have all seven dwarf slots neatly filled.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Whole21 results

I've been babbling a lot about this Whole30 thing, but it turns out it was a Whole21, because the date-night tradition of going out for pizza after going to the symphony just could not be denied last night. Well, it could have been denied, but that would have made me extremely unhappy, and surely the point of being healthier and living longer is so that a lot of it can be enjoyable?

I'm planning to stay on the Paleo bandwagon, of course, but I think my days of super-restrictive eating are over, because I found that ridiculously annoying this time around. Way more than you would think, actually, since I had been eating 90 percent Paleo before I started.

M.H. and I went ahead and weighed ourselves yesterday afternoon so we could at least have some tangible results from the three weeks we did finish. M.H. lost 10 pounds (!) and I lost 3, but I also lifted a ton of weights and got called "tiny," so I am satisfied. 160 is the least I remember weighing in my adult life (although I do remember saying I weighed 160 on my driver's license back in the early 1990s).

I think the best Whole30 Whole21 result, though, was that I finally figured out a Paleo salad dressing that I like. It's mayo blended with a ripe avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and balsamic vinegar. It tastes like some kind a cilantro-avocado-ranch dressing, and I like all those words an awful lot. I also tried a dollop of it in chili a few times, and it was jaw-droppingly good, better than sour cream and cheese. The stuff has also found its way onto fried kale, fried zucchini, and fried asparagus in the past week or so. I'm thinking if I could get my hands on some fresh dill, I could ranch it up even more, but for now I'm delighted to have figured out how to have a salad for lunch without marring it with a bunch of bottled nastiness.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A tiny rant

Frankly, this eating perfectly thing has entered a bit of a whiny phase. M.H. and I agree that we want to eat Paleo most of the time, but it's becoming crystal clear that we don't want eat Paleo ALL the time. Last weekend, we went to Shakespeare in the Park, had a great time, and really wanted to go out to eat afterward. Specifically, we wanted to eat pizza! And we couldn't! And who had told us we couldn't? Ourselves!

Makes no sense, right? Sigh.

I'm not knocking the Whole30 program; I actually think it's fantastic. They claim it will change your life, and it does. I just think that, having already had my life changed, there are diminishing returns to doing it again.

On the plus side, last night someone, without irony, used the word "tiny" to describe me. Now, I am five-foot-ten and have always had shoulders like a linebacker from all the swimming. And that's when I wasn't at least 50 pounds overweight. Heck, I was a giant hulk of a BABY, so I'm pretty sure that's the first time the word "tiny" has ever been applied to me in my entire life. I guess that's a sign that something is going right. Hilarious.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My son is not into sports

Dex comes home from a high-school soccer game he attended with a group of friends.

Me: How was the game?
Dex: Pretty good.
Me: Great, who won?
Dex: Um…hmm. I'm actually not sure.
Me: Okay, Dex. There was a ball and two goals. Did the ball go into Senior's goal more, or West's?
Dex: I didn't keep track.
Me: Well, which team seemed happier at the end?
Dex: I'm not sure. Maybe Senior?
M.H.: I really hope there was at least a cute girl involved, because otherwise this is just sad.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I quit

For two weeks now, I've given up dairy, potatoes, grains, legumes, and sugar. I no longer snack on nuts. I limit fruit to about one piece a day. I'm walking all the time, and hitting the gym regularly. I'm going to bed early. And I still have two weeks to go.

So what's the hardest part of the Whole30 this time around?

Keeping the stupid journal recording everything I eat and all the exercise I do. The other stuff is fine, but I'm finding all the note-taking intensely annoying, and I'm not sure who exactly might be benefiting from it.

Well, what the heck? Who said I had to do this? Me? What do I know? I am mentally wadding that sucker up into a crumbled ball and tossing it over my shoulder into the trash.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I had planned to go to yoga this morning, but I slept until 9:30 and missed it. Which is okay. I deliberately didn't set an alarm, because my rule of thumb is if I can't get up in time for a 9 a.m. class, then I probably needed the sleep more than the yoga.

If I miss yoga tomorrow afternoon, that will be because we thought of some fun way to spend the afternoon as a family, and that will be okay, too.

And if I miss yoga on Monday morning, that will be because we decided to get out of town and wanted an early start, which will also be fine by me.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, sometimes "as much yoga as possible" is really not all that much yoga.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Big weekend plans

I've been tied to my desk for the past two and a half days and my eyes are bloodshot with the little cartoon-character veins that scream "tired and overworked." But guess what? I met both my deadlines, no new work came in, and now I have three days off! I am so CRAZY excited to go to the gym, cook some meals, and clean the house, you don't even know.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oh, just experimenting on the kids again

Dex gets tons of colds and, a few days ago, had his second round of what the Internet diagnosed as viral pinkeye. I put my foot down: No more illnesses allowed. We have got to DO SOMETHING about this kid's immune system.

As best I can tell, the magic bullet is green tea. I started drinking it about five years ago, and in that time I've succumbed to exactly one virus. So for the past three days, I've been putting a cup of green iced tea in front of him at breakfast and another one at dinner. He doesn't exactly love it, but he doesn't really mind it, either—which makes sense, because it doesn't taste like anything unless you concentrate.

If he can get through a quarter of school without getting sick, I will strongly suspect that it's working. If he can get through two quarters, I'll be sure enough to make Mik start drinking it, too. If he gets through three quarters, I will declare the experiment a complete success, because that would be absolutely unheard of.

Yes, that IS how the scientific process works.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An update on Project Virtue

I had SPECIFICALLY ASKED Happy if he was going to need me on his latest project, and he said no. So OF COURSE now there's suddenly about 60 hours of work he'd like to finish for him by Friday on top of everything else I'm doing. I really should have planned for it, because he ALWAYS does stuff like this. (And yet, I will bend over backward to finish his work on time, as I always do. You can tell I like and value this client, because he got one of the few "good" dwarf names. Though, let me tell you, if "Flaky" had been an option…)

Oh, how's the Whole30 going, did you say? Not bad. The food stuff hasn't been too difficult. Yoga four days in a row has been much better than expected. Weight-lifting is off to a slow start, but I'm being persistent in at least doing a little. I am sleeping okay. And I am walking a ton again.

But here's the stupid thing: I decided if I was going to eat perfectly and exercise perfectly and sleep perfectly, I might as well try to do everything else perfectly, too. So I'm staying mostly away from the Internet and getting outside as much as possible. I'm not putting any chemicals on my skin or hair and am brushing my teeth with a lovely homemade tooth powder. I am not eating after 6 p.m. I put away my favorite giant plastic water bottle and am drinking only from glassware. I am using my walking-to-and-from-the-gym time to work on memorizing the book of Romans. I am organizing stuff around the house and making an extra effort to feed the kids things that are good for them.

All this virtue is exhausting, and frankly a lot of it is going right out the window now that my workload has just tripled. But the general thought was that I'd do the absolute best I could for 30 days, and then after that just see which healthy habits stick around and which ones run away screaming.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 1

M.H. and I are dragging today. We went to bed fairly early per the New Life Plan but were awakened at 4 a.m. by a domestic dispute alarming enough that we called the police. The guy had driven away—and taken his girlfriend with him—before they arrived, but there were patrol cars and things around for a while, and we never really got back to sleep. (And I have no idea what happened. Probably just a loud, dramatic fight and everyone is fine, but who knows?)

Anyway. If you, like me, prefer your drama to be really, really boring, then you can check out my summary of Day 1 in the sidebar (Whole30, Aug. 24-Sept. 22). I want to keep track of what I'm doing, but I'm not interested in turning my blog into a daily recap of my meals, so you'll have to check over there if you want to see how much guacamole I've been consuming and whatnot.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Life Plan time!

Mik had his third and final birthday party tonight—a homemade ice cream and card-playing extravaganza with my parents. I made a non-dairy coconut milk ice cream, which made my dad laugh. Approximate quote: "It's sure an adventure eating over here now. You're always cooking something, like, made of walnuts and grass…with a handful of dandelions for color."

Ho ho. If he thinks coconut milk ice cream is bad, then he will not enjoy eating over here in the next 30 days, because I'm about to get MEDIEVAL on my diet. I'm doing another month of very strict Paleo eating (aka the Whole30), and this time I'm doing it to the letter and committing to get serious about exercising as well. (For me, that means yoga, walking, weights, and at least one sprint workout a week.) The third priority is going to be getting to bed in time to get eight hours of sleep every night.

This seems like the perfect time to do this again. School is back in session. I don't see any visitors or celebrations on the horizon for the next 30 days. I'm not particularly busy with work. Plus, I've been at kind of a weight plateau for a couple of months. If you buy the homeostasis stuff I've been reading about, my body's set point has moved from keeping me hovering around 188 pounds to keeping me at about 163 pounds. Now, don't get me wrong: My new set point is terrific. I LOVE my new set point. I'd just really like to know what it could be if I started doing everything right for a while. Or, you know, as right as I know how to do it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


This morning we drove Dex to Billings West High School AND THEN LEFT HIM THERE. I know that sounds stupid, but it didn't really sink in until we had to drive away, leaving all five-feet-ten of him looking awfully small and a bit lost.

I was thinking I was going to have the same experience all over again dropping Mik off at the middle school, but they had all the sixth-graders segregated from the terrifying seventh- and eighth-graders and lined up behind their teachers. A couple of his oh-about-four-foot-six friends broke loose from the throng to welcome him, and I was able to drive off feeling pretty okay that at least he's the right size for his new school.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A cat anecdote

M.H. and the boys are off hiking with his dad—I would have loved to get out of town again, but it's a "guys-only" thing, alas. Staying home alone has been nice, too. In fact, for two hours this afternoon, I was completely caught up on my work. Sweet freedom! I used some of the time to clean out my closet and some of it to burn a head of cauliflower to a crisp (just the way I like it) and eat THE WHOLE THING. The fun never stops when I'm around.

So Saturday was kind if wild and crazy, at least for the kids, what with the cliff diving and Dex's encounter with a rattlesnake. But that's not the part of the trip that's still sending a shiver down my spine. No, the really scary thing was when we got back to my sister's house. My seven-year-old niece took off looking for her beloved—and I mean beloved—cat, Ginger (well, technically "Ginger II"). She found her right away, because Ginger was IN OUR MINIVAN, IN THE DRIVEWAY, WITH ALL THE WINDOWS ROLLED UP, IN AUGUST. She'd been in the car from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. I don't know the nature of the miracle that spared me from being in the market right now for a Ginger III for my niece, but I am so very grateful for it.

I have some idea of the horror of accidentally killing someone else's pet, having been on the opposite side of that…twice, actually. It's a lot worse than being the one who loses the pet, guaranteed. Well, maybe unless you're seven and your whole entire world revolves around your cat. Ugh. Actually, let's not talk about this anymore.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Secondhand adrenaline

I had already agreed to cliff-diving, deep-water soloing, and water skiing. So when Dex wanted to pick his way up to an interesting-looking cave in the walls of the Bighorn Canyon—more of a hike than a climb, really—I didn't see any reason to stop being The Most Awesome Mom Ever.

I was keeping a leisurely eye on him as I lounged in the sunshine on my sister's new boat, 100 yards away. Halfway up to the cave, though, I saw Dex lose his footing. He slid a few inches in the rocks, seemed to recover, but then pointed himself down the hill and RAN straight into the water. It was about a 45-degree angle down to the lake, and I have no idea how he stayed on his feet until slashdown. It was one of the strangest and most amazing things I have ever seen.

When he got back to the boat, I asked what on earth he'd been thinking to try something like that. It turns out he wasn't thinking about tumbling down the canyon wall and killing himself on sharp rocks. He was thinking of the large snake body he'd seen—and the loud rattle he'd heard—after disturbing the ground.

Oh. Okay then.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Not in the mood

"Toothpaste For Dinner" nails it again.
I spent like 17 straight hours in front of the computer yesterday editing a book for Dopey, knowing I desperately needed to get it out of the way so I could start a huge project for Bashful today.

That all went as planned until about noon, when I hit a wall. I simply couldn't work anymore.  I thought about working on Romans, but it was too much work. I thought about reading, but that was too much work, too. I did drag myself to afternoon yoga—having felt no forearm pain for a few days—but found myself dropping out of what the class was doing.

"What," I asked myself, "is the matter with you today?"

"I'm just not," I answered myself, "in the mood to do anything hard."

Monday, August 13, 2012

An end to the festivities

So it took about two weeks for me to fall apart completely. I'm sitting here in the post-sister visit, post-Olympics, post-sleepover aftermath with:

  • A sunburn in the itchy stage
  • Apparent tendinitis in my left forearm
  • Five new and exciting pounds
  • A sore neck
  • Mental fog
  • A sleep-deprivation headache

I think the tendinitis came from trying to steer an unwieldy rubber raft down the Yellowstone River last week. Or maybe it was 90 percent from hitting Shift-Ctrl-Z all the time and the rowing just pushed it over the top. But whatever the cause, that's the thing that's making me most unhappy: It means I can't do yoga, which I consider essential to getting my life back on the rails, although maybe not eating potato chips and ice cream cake for a while will help with that, too.

The things that tried to kill me were really fun, though. (Obviously excepting the sleepover.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I would rather lick the floor of a Chuck E. Cheese than do this again

So here's how that sleepover went down…

~6 p.m. The five guests arrive. I hadn't met them all before, but they appear to be fine, upstanding, polite young men. (You were supposed to get a chill of foreboding right there, in case you missed it.)

~7 p.m. Things are getting noisy, but so far I've been mostly hiding in my office chanting, "It always sounds worse than it is. It always sounds worse than it is." I come out to help serve pizza, cake, and ice cream. I hate letting Mik eat this, but I don't know of any other "dinner" that six 11-year-olds are all going to like. Besides, it's a birthday party.

~8 p.m. Things are ramping up to a whole new level of noise and chaos. Dex has apparently done something annoying to them, and they decide they have to gang up and get "revenge." I can't figure out why they're asking for a paper clip, until I notice that Dex has locked himself in the bathroom. I tell Dex to leave them alone and blog about hyperventilation.

~9 p.m. They decide to go outside, where we've set up a couple of tents in the hope that they will run out of things to do in the dark before long and drift peacefully off to sleep. (cough, cough)

~10 p.m. I warn them that they need to start keeping the noise level down, because even though it's a Friday night, we have neighbors who might be trying to sleep. Elderly neighbors thataway. New neighbors with young children thataway.

~11 p.m. They've decided against sleeping outside. Great. M.H. and I go to bed.

~12 p.m. I believe I actually slept through whatever happened in this hour, but judging by the mess downstairs, I'm going to guess they ate potato chips and a bunch of individually wrapped cheeses.

~1 a.m. There is SCREECHING coming from outside. M.H. gets up to remind them to keep it down.

~2 a.m. Shrieking and laughter from outside. I get up to talk to them. The kids in one tent want to sleep, but the kids in the other tent are harassing them. I have had it: IT IS 2 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING. NO MORE TALKING OF ANY KIND OUTSIDE. The occupants of the naughty tent go inside.

~3 a.m. A fully audible conversation is under way from the "good" tent, but since they're talking in relatively normal voices, I figure it probably isn't bothering anyone else. I do, however, hear the toilet with the tricky flusher running downstairs and get up to fix that.

~4 a.m. SHRIEK! SCREAM! The occupants of the (ahem) "good" tent aren't tired, so they're playing tag. I shoo them inside and tell them no one is allowed outside anymore AT ALL.

~5 a.m. There's a massive clap of thunder, and it starts pouring rain. I worry that they've left their iPods and stuff in the tents (which they had), and M.H. gets up to rescue everything.

~6 a.m. There's a knock on the bedroom door. "Sorry if you were sleeping or anything, but Mik says he's feeling really sick." Well, that's no surprise. He gets sick EVERY time he eats a lot of sugar or wheat, and did I mention we also fed them s'mores at 11 p.m.? M.H. gets up to give him something.

~7 a.m. The alarm goes off. What? Why?! Oh yeah, M.H. is taking Dex on an out-of-town rock climbing trip. I get up to help them make breakfast. On the plus side, five of the six sleepover children are now actually asleep (including the one whose mother might yell at me if her darling-from-the-bad-tent stays up all night). I put blankets over them in the hope that they'll stay that way. I am so responsible and compassionate.

~8 a.m. Two kids are awake. I offer them some breakfast, but the only thing they want of what I suggest is bacon. I feed them bacon and go upstairs to work, hoping the rest will sleep until their parents arrive.

~9 a.m. The noisiest Nerf gun imaginable starts revving up, and I run downstairs, pluck it from the hands of the offending child, and leave without a word.

~10 a.m. All but one kid is now awake, and they all want bacon. Whatever. A bad-tenter apologizes for all the overnight noise, saying, "When we're tired, it's like we're kid-drunk."

~11 a.m. The parents arrive and ask me in turn if their kid behaved. What is to be gained at this point by telling the truth? I answer, "I'm so glad he could come. They had so much fun!"

Friday, August 10, 2012


I guess I'm doing okay if the worst trauma in my life is the occasional sleepover…but six 11-year-old boys? In my house? Running around? Yelling? And slamming doors? Someone bring me a paper bag to breathe into for the next thirteen hours.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The time management Olympics

It's getting really hard to manage my time. My sister and her family are in town from Virginia, the Olympics are on, and I have enough work that I could probably spend every waking hour at my desk if I wanted. Here's what's gotten the ax from my life since the Opening Ceremonies:
  • Facebook
  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Heck, any exercise that can't be performed during commercial breaks
  • Cooking meals
  • Experimenting in the kitchen
  • Heck, any form of caring about nutrition
  • Cleaning
  • Reading
  • Working on M.H.'s book
  • Experimenting on my kids' teeth and skin
  • Making triathlon training plans with Mik
  • Making lists of things I'll do when school starts up again
I don't know who I am anymore!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hair adventures

Over the past couple of weeks, my baking-soda-washed hair, while still looking pretty good, had developed a yucky, coarse texture, to the point where it actually became…sticky. Now, sticky is obviously unacceptable, but I wasn't willing to go back to frizzy, either. So I Googled, "wash hair baking soda sticky disgusting" and got a possible answer: It doesn't work well if you have hard water.

Well, did we have hard water? I had no idea. So I Googled, "How can you tell if you have hard water" and found a test. You fill a water bottle half full, put in some dish soap, shake it up, and pour it out. If the suds pour out the bottle, your water is soft. If they stay in, it's hard. (I did not need to perform this test, by the way. I was astounded by the information that suds ever would pour out of a bottle.) Hard water it was.

Apparently the solution is to boil the water before using it. So I decided to get an old water bottle, put in the baking soda, and fill it with water boiled in the teakettle. Here's the point in the adventure where I should have Googled, "What will happen if you pour baking soda and boiling water into an old water bottle and then absently put on the lid and close the spout," but perhaps I'll tell you that story another day.

Anyway, I've washed my hair with the new stuff twice now, and it does feel a lot better while still maintaining its non-frizzy properties. So there's a bit of troubleshooting advice for you if you're thinking of trying this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Weekend wrap-up

A few pictures from the big race of the weekend. Mik wrote a race report (under duress) but did not grant me permission to post it. However, I believe it is allowable under copyright law to quote limited portions for the purpose of commentary, so I will just say I am very happy that:
"Even though it was hard, I had a lot of fun and will probably do it again next year."
That's good to hear, because it was fun for me, too. And here are my swimming results:

100 IM: Scratch
200 IM: 2:55.16
400 IM: 6:27.20
200 free: 2:41.24
1,000 free: 15:39.45

Even though it was hard, I had a lot of fun and will probably do it again…sometime.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Back to work

I've been too busy editing Happy's book even to make Mik start on a race report. I told him he would treasure it forever, but he seemed skeptical. This is a kid who takes his swimming medals and rips off the stapled-on slip of paper with the date, time, and race information. I told him that information was the most important part of the medal, but he didn't believe that, either. Tweens!

But coming back to the topic of work, I never heard a single thing back from Sneezy after resigning. Isn't that weird? I didn't actually expect them to beg me to stay, but I did expect some sort of acknowledgment. Maybe it's not so surprising. It's that sort of company, and I'm still a little uneasy that I'll actually get my last two invoices paid. Either way, I'm glad to be rid of them.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mik's first triathlon

The swimming today was kind of a bust for both Mik and me. In fact, I missed my 100 IM altogether because the kids' tri started so late. (Too bad, because not only did I want to go for the record, but there was actually another woman in my age group to compete against.)

It was well worth it to see Mik's first triathlon, though! I have pictures I want to share eventually, but I'll quickly recap now for those dying to hear. :)

Mik was first out of the water by a long way but left T1 in third place. Clearly the socks and shirt and normal shoelaces were a mistake. (Bad coaching!) He finished the bike in third as well, and came in  second overall. I didn't witness this, but my parents said he got hung up by a car pulling a boat trailer near the end of the bike leg and had to wait for quite a while to get by safely. Might have been the difference between silver and gold, but silver was still fantastic! I had a blast watching and was so proud of him for giving it his all.

I think a race report from him is in order, don't you?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who's exhausted?

Hoo boy, swim meets take a lot out of you. Mik swam in the morning session, and it was so hot and oppressive in the pool that I got worn out just cheering for him. Then we had some lunch and went back for the afternoon session, so he could be hot and miserable watching me. (The remainder of the family is on an outdoor climbing trip in Wyoming and will probably come home exhausted from that.) If I had been smarter, I would have waited to do this until the boy was 13, so we could at least swim at the same time.

So when I was signing up for this meet, I thought it would be hilarious to enter my actual best time in the 200 free, since I remembered it well from Big Tens 1990. I neglected to think ahead to the moment when I would be seeded in the middle of the fastest heat, surrounded by a bunch of 17-year-old boys capable of actually swimming a 1:56.00. So very not hilarious! More or less the same thing happened in the 400 IM, though at least that was through no fault of my own—it was just that the only people swimming it were the studmuffins and me.

Tomorrow is the 100 IM and the 1,000 free. (Mik has the triathlon and three swimming events.) I'm kind of excited to do the IM. I noticed that the Big Sky State Games record for my age group is 1:22, which seems like a reasonable time to shoot for. In the meantime, I think I'll go lie down.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Who's hungry?

I appreciate that part of summer's charm is its lack of structure, but it's getting a bit out of hand over here. Members of this family wake up anywhere between 5:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Rarely do we have breakfast at the same time. Never do we have lunch at the same time. And I do shoot for a dinner together, but that can fall anywhere between 4 and 9 p.m.

Also, since three of us are eating Paleo, every meal is a huge production involving cutting boards, knives, peelers, frying pans, and the food processor—which now gets washed (by hand, four pieces) three or four times a day. Since I committed to Mik that he would not go hungry on this diet—and since I also want Dex to eat as well as possible, of course—I am constantly stocking up the fridge with fake breads and Paleo granola bars and other snacks they like.

And I am constantly trying new things to bring into the rotation.

And I am constantly conducting mini-cooking schools for the kids because I want them to learn to feed themselves healthy stuff.

When I need a break from working, I cook. When someone comes to my office and asks for food, I cook. When I feel a creative urge, I cook. When I hear M.H. starting to bang around in the kitchen, I cook. And when I'm cooking one thing, I try to cook as many things as possible so I don't have to cook so often.

How can one family eat so many times a day?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Because I'm your mother and I said so

"What's this new vitamin? Magnesium? Why do we have to take magnesium now?"

Short answer: I read somewhere that we should.

Long answer: I read somewhere that we should. I found the argument compelling. I may have even read up on magnesium from multiple sources and clicked through to Real Science. But ultimately I remember only the take-home message ("Yay, magnesium!") and not the reasoning behind it.

My family is getting used to this. I've been reading a lot of stuff these days. In fact, if you ask me why I eat the way I do, or why I exercise the way I do, or why I'm avoiding sunscreen and shampoo, or why I'm in the process of procuring various powders to mix together and brush my teeth with, or what's that crap I'm making my 14-year-old rub on his face, you're more likely to get a link than an explanation.

Sorry. Maybe I'll be able to talk more intelligently about it once my magnesium levels are up to snuff.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Mik's swim practice yesterday was at the same time as Shakespeare in the Park, so I decided to let him skip it and come swim with me at the gym instead. I wrote us a workout geared toward rocking the 200 IM, since it's the first event for both of us at the meet this weekend, and it's also Mik's best chance of qualifying for state.

The main set was sprint 50s on 3:00, and I thought it would be fun if we alternated—I'd go first, and then he'd try to beat my time. I figured it would be motivating for him, since he would be faster than me in just about everything.

Well! That didn't quite work out. He did really well, but I crushed all my expected times. I did a 50 fly in 38 seconds, which is almost as fast as I was doing freestyle last week (and faster than I was doing it during my Ironman training). And I hit 34 seconds in the 50 free, which made me really happy. I still wonder if I could get under 30 seconds with a real start, but the masters 50 free at the Big Sky State Games didn't work out for me schedule-wise; it's at the same time as Mik's triathlon. I was thinking about taking the first 50 of the 200 free all out, doing a hard finish, and seeing what my split is, but that seems a bit overly…dramatic, don't you think?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Down a dwarf

Hi Xxxx,

This is to let you know that I will no longer be able to take editing work from Sneezy. I've taken on more freelance work than I can handle and have decided to cut back significantly. I want to thank you for the experience of working for this company; I truly appreciate all I've learned in the past several months about Xxxx editing.

I'm CC'ing Xxxx so she can remove me from the email feedback group. Would you please forward this on to anyone else who needs to be notified?

You have my final invoice, but please let me know if there's anything else I need to do to wrap things up.

Gulp. I hope that was professional. I hope they aren't mad at me. I hope they process my final invoice. I hope they write back and offer to double my pay so I can think of a professional way to say, "Sorry, but that's still not enough to make me want to put up with this crap."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yoga at the zoo

Our gym has started offering Saturday morning yoga classes at the zoo while the weather holds, so Dex and I went to one this morning. The yoga was nice, but the best part was afterward—we got to walk around the zoo an hour before it opened.

You have to understand, our little zoo is like most others in that usually you don't get to see the animals do much more than sleep in their enclosures. But it's unlike most others in that there are only a handful of animals to begin with. So, while it's scenic and a nice place for a walk, the actual animals are not usually a big draw.

Today, though, we saw river otters frolicking. We saw wolves frolicking. We saw tigers frolicking. And we saw grizzly bears frolicking—actually wrestling each other in and around a little pond just feet from the fence. And we enjoyed most of this frolicking free of children screeching and their parents making inane comments. Best ZooMontana experience ever, hands down.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In training

It's eight days until the Big Sky State Games, and that looming deadline has gotten me to the pool twice last week and twice so far this week. I'm signed up to swim the 400, 200, and 100 IM, and the 1,000 and 200 free. (The 1,000 was Mik's idea; I pretended to be intimidated by it, but really I was just glad he didn't want me to do the 200 fly.)

I'm not putting in too much yardage. In fact, my training has been focused on three very specific objectives:
  1. Make sure I can string together 100 yards of butterfly without dying.
  2. Figure out a reasonable pace I can hold for the whole 1,000.
  3. Undo decades of bad freestyle habits by learning to kick.
Sigh. I was a competitive swimmer for 10 years, and every coach I ever had tried to fix my kick. And now Mik's coaches are constantly on his case for the same reason, and I've been backing them up—blithely acting as if it's not a near-impossible feat of core strength and coordination to move one's arms and legs at the same time. So now the pressure is on to set a good example (and to avoid a torrent of well-deserved teasing and "so-that's-where-he-gets-it"-ing from the coaches). I'm a little worried for both of us that it's a genetic condition. Maybe I am where he gets it.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Yay sorbet

M.H. and I have had a couple of things we kind of wanted to buy but were not willing to pay real money for. So when he came home from Mik's swim practice yesterday morning and mentioned he'd seen a bunch of garage sales going on, we decided to head out on the off-chance we'd get lucky.

We didn't find what we were hoping for, but we did get lucky. I got two cute necklaces and a bracelet for less than $10, plus eight rolls of barely-used wrapping paper for a quarter each. M.H. spent $2 on a drain snake and a stocking stuffer for next Christmas. Woo-hoo!

Then we went to Costco, where I spotted the item that had, in the past hour, morphed from something I kinda sorta wanted to something I really, really wanted: an ice cream maker. A new one was cheaper than I was expecting—about the cost of two trips to our favorite ice cream place, in fact. We were on a bargain high already, so I tossed it in the cart. Woo-hoo!

Our first creation today was a batch of strawberry sorbet. It has a ton of sugar and I'm not deluding myself that it's in any way good for anyone, but it was pretty tasty. There are lots of healthy-fat-and-low-sugar things that I can make with my new toy, of course, and that's the ultimate plan. But I wanted to make sure that at least the first batch went over really well before springing coconut-milk-and-avocado mint chocolate chip on anyone.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pick a post, any post

Some days I have so many things on my mind that I don't know where to begin. Which would you rather hear about?
  1. My brand-new ice cream maker and my wondrous plans for it?
  2. How I've lost 4 pounds in a single week of not eating potatoes?
  3. My weird-but-amazing dinner of roasted asparagus and a bison hot dog, topped with homemade guacamole?
  4. My three-part plan to extricate myself from the client known as Sneezy?
  5. Why I unjoined the Facebook group for the "lose a marathon" challenge?
Tell you what, that last one is a short story, so I'll just share it. I unjoined the Facebook group for the "lose a marathon" challenge because if I had read one more helpful post about a "great low-fat, low-calorie recipe" for muffins or trifle or cookies or waffles, I would have lost. my. mind. The end.