Saturday, June 30, 2012

My day, a poem by me

Tried to work but went insane.
Tried to read but kept getting interrupted.
Tried to clean but petered out.
Tried to cook but was uninspired.

Tried all of the above again, with similar results.

Tried to blog about it.

Oh, well.
My hair looks really good today.
So there's that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Primal pancakes

Welp, I marked the momentous, emotional first anniversary of my Ironman yesterday by working from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. straight and forgetting completely all about it. Because that is how I roll.

It's OK because I had another momentous post in mind anyway. Inspired by my pancake-loving-yet-grain-free tween, I've figured out how to make KILLER primal pancakes. I invented these about two weeks ago and have been obsessively tweaking them to perfection ever since. (Apologies if you're a normal person who doesn't keep almond flour, coconut flour, and heavy cream lying around the house.) 

Mik says, "I used to be jealous of Dex because he could eat pancakes and I couldn't, but now he should be jealous of me because he's allergic to mine, and they are the bomb dot mom!"*

Primal Pancakes with Multiple Footnotes
1/2 cup almond flour**
2 T coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup warm water***
2 T melted coconut oil****
2 T heavy cream*****
3 eggs******
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T honey

Mix well and cook slowly on a greased griddle over very low heat (I set it to 200-250 degrees). These are a little trickier to flip than normal pancakes, so make them a bit small, but overall they hold up pretty well. Makes about 10-12.

* That is a lie, but only in the sense that I can't get "the bomb dot mom" to catch on in my house.
** I've heard that you don't want to buy the Bob's brand that you often see in grocery stores because it's too gritty. Mine is Honeyville brand, which I had to get online, and it seems to be fine. (M.H.'s reaction was, "THIS is what $40 worth of almond flour looks like?!")
*** The point of warm water is just to keep the coconut oil from solidifying.
**** Butter or or a light-tasting olive oil would probably work as well.
***** I'm sure you could just omit this without too much difference if you don't want to eat dairy.
****** You can go down to two eggs for a fluffier, thicker pancake, but Mik likes them crepe-y, and I like him to eat more eggs.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Parallel universe

I saw the words "Lose a Marathon" on one of the blogs I read, and I was instantly intrigued. Lose a marathon? Hey, my specialty!

It turned out she was actually talking about weight loss; her idea is to lose 26.2 pounds in the next 13 weeks, and she's giving out prizes to random participants. I'm all about winning things on the Internet (and good at it, too), so I joined right up, with the caveat that I did not actually want to lose a marathon but maybe had a 5k in me.

(Or maybe not. I seem to have plateaued in the low 160s, and even though I dream of supermodel thighs, I acknowledge that this very well could be a healthy weight for me. The BMI calculator puts me in the normal range. And, as one of my favorite bloggers explains, fat is a vital organ.)

But this "marathon" challenge! Part of it is belonging to a Facebook group where people discuss their weight-loss strategies. Knowing what I now know about the human body, these people's comments are driving me BER-SERK. They keep talking about snacking on 100-calorie cracker packs and whether they should order the salmon at some restaurant because it's 652 calories and all they have left in their "budget" is 500. ("Oh," someone will respond, "watch out for the salads there, too.")

Part of me just expected that as I learned about nutrition and homeostasis and the right way to exercise, the rest of the world was somehow reading the same stuff and coming along for the ride. (What's the matter with them? Don't they read my blog?) This parallel universe of calorie restriction and rice cakes and an hour on the elliptical is vaguely familiar, but that doesn't make it any less horrifying.

IMPORTANT: If you are a woman who is even vaguely interested in her health, please read the article I linked to under "homeostasis." In fact, if you're feeling lazy, call me up and I'll read it to you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Frivolous" is the new "poop"

My friend doing Ironman Coeur d'Alene is on her last six miles, with nearly four hours to go. I can't remember what her goal time was—she's super speedy, so she might be disgusted with her race right now for all I know—but in my imagination she's one of those lucky people on the home stretch who are definitely going to make it, while folks like me are just barely past the halfway point coming the other way and still having serious doubts.

By the way, today I heard someone make an offhand comment referring to Ironman racing as "frivolous"—something people do just because they want to, not because it adds any actual value to the world. That, my friends, is a great way to sum up my current feelings about the issue. So there you go. "Frivolous" is the new "poop," and if I ever find myself giving any serious thought to signing up for another one, I'll just say, "Nope, frivolous," donate $1,000 to African orphans, and volunteer 15 to 20 hours a week in a homeless shelter for the next nine months instead.

Oooh. Or, I could buy a nice sewing machine and a bunch of material and spend 15 to 20 hours a week learning to quilt. That's less frivolous, because it produces something practical (quilts) PLUS there would still be about $500 left over for orphans. Awesome plan.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ironman amnesia

Ironman Coeur D'Alene* is this Sunday, and I'm getting a little bit excited/nostalgic. Excited because a friend of mine is doing it to celebrate her 50th birthday, and I'll be following her online. Nostalgic because…duh. Fond memories! An Ironman is sort of like giving birth in that way. The best parts stick with you forever, and the pain just seems kind of funny.

Now ask me if all that tempts me to do another one in nine years.

Glad you asked. Let me tell you a little story.

I, like many people, am a sucker for puppies. I just want to scoop them up and squeeze them and inhale their puppiness and take them home with me. So why didn't we ever get another puppy after our dachshund** died in 1998? Tons of reasons: the expense, the shedding, the mess, the need to find dogsitters, not being able to use the word "walk" in conversation without being bullied out into the rain. But, you know, after awhile the harsh reality fades, and the waggly stuff is all you remember. So my tactic over the years has been to cling to one vital truth about dog ownership—one single, ugly truth that I can quickly and reliably pit against all the adorableness in the world: poop. Dogs poop everywhere, and you have to clean it up. So not worth it.

It's a great strategy. Four little letters that have saved me an untold amount of hassle. ("Dog?" "No, thanks. They poop.")

So now that I'm coming up on the one-year anniversary of my Ironman, I think it's time to get proactive. I can think of lots of reasons never to do another one—the expense, the time commitment, the wear and tear on my body, the bike-saddle-shaped bruise, the fact that my feet hurt for eleven months after it was over—but I'm not sure any of those will rise to the top and rescue me in 2021 when I'm trying to prove I'm still pretty spry for 50 and all I can remember is how it felt to float the last three blocks to the finish line with 25 minutes to spare.

Maybe if I just say "one hundred. and forty. stinking. miles." real, real slow, that will do it.

* Sheesh, it used to be easier to spell that.
** Also used to be easier to spell.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Unintended consequences

See how pretty?
Something kind of strange has happened to me, and I'm open to theories about it.

Over the past several months, I have grown to LLLove* food. I consider breakfast so much of an art form that I'm frequently moved to take pictures of my plate. A particularly tasty bowl of Pad Thai might make me laugh with glee. I blog incessantly about cooking. A successful new recipe makes my whole entire day. I talk about, and to, my food processor. I have raved to my kids about roasted cauliflower with garlic so many times they think I'm certifiable. 

At dinner tonight, my hamburger patty topped with caramelized onions, mushrooms, fried kale, and bacon was bringing a joyous song to my heart, and so I brought this up to my family. Ha, they said. Don't think we haven't noticed, they said. We can tell you exactly what's going on here, they said:

  1. You are a crazy, food-obsessed person.
  2. Paleo has done something to your brain.
  3. You are a complete wackjob.
Then I caught Mik smiling to himself with what can only be described as glee as he dusted an enormous bowl of broccoli with parmesan cheese. And then, not five minutes after informing me that I had a unique and bizarre obsession, M.H. spontaneously burst out with, "This bleu cheese burger on a bed of tossed salad is a work of sublime beauty!" and then looked sheepish.

So there you go. It's door number two. Paleo does something to your brain.

* Yes, love with three capital L's.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's on

I'm planning to sign up for the Big Sky State Games swim meet in a few weeks. It's the one meet of the year where quite a few adults actually swim (although technically I think they could swim at most Montana meets). But every year when I see the grown-ups doing it I get jealous and nostalgic, so this year I'm 90 percent definitely going to do it, too.

I've trained…um, twice? In the past three months? And each time it really hurt? So, you know, totally ready.

But my other purpose is that I think swimming against Mik will be fun (for both of us)—as long as he can actually beat me in most of the events, obviously. So last time I was at the gym, I timed myself for a 200 IM and did it in 3:18 (short course, wall start, after yoga class, couldn't feel my arms at the end). I just looked up Mik's time, and it's 3:23 (long course, pre-Paleo). My money is on him, but it sounds like a pretty decent match-up!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I can prove it with math

I've been editing a giant book for Dopey. It's just over 700 pages, and they gave me seven days to do it—averaging out to a difficult but doable 100 pages per day.

Except they sort of forgot to send it when they were supposed to, and then I still had to spend one more day wrapping up some other work before I could get started, and then I was down to five days to finish 700 pages, or an average of 140 pages a day. That's reeeeeeally pushing it.

And then there was today. It was Father's Day, obviously, plus M.H. did another free download day for his book, which was a bit distracting in its sheer awesomeness. Also, I got re-riled on the feeding kids in schools issue and became aware of an awesome, must-read Guardian article on obesity and the food industry. So all told this weekend, I managed to edit only about 200 pages.

Now I have 500 pages to finish in three days, which is 166.67 pages per day, and the word I think you're looking for is "doomed."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Chirp! Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!

There is a bird living somewhere outside my bedroom window that has been waking me up at 4 o'clock every morning, BEFORE IT IS EVEN LIGHT OUT. It makes me almost—almost—want to sleep with the windows closed. But not really, because other than the bird problem, it has been just aggressively pleasant here so far this summer.

(Please don't tell me it's spring. Kids out of school? Check. Sunshine until after 9 p.m.? Check. No snow on the ground? Check. It's summer.)

The bird thing is extra annoying, though, because I've had a ton of work come in the past few days, and so as soon as the chirping starts, my little brain starts chirping, too: "Might as well get up and work! You're awake anyway! You may never get back to sleep! You could get so much done!" Where is the off switch?

By the way, the plus side of having a ton of work is I've been forced to abandon my me-vs.-the-world online discussion about kids being fed crap in schools. I still have plenty to say (I think of new things every morning around 4 stinking a.m.), and I've never been more right about anything in my entire life, but I just don't have time to fight about it anymore. Anyway, it doesn't look like the letter is going to get enough comments to launch it into the "most popular" list on the website, so I guess there's very little to be gained. I will need to figure out what to say to Mik's teacher and/or class parent next year, though. That child is thriving like I've never seen him thrive before, and I do NOT want to let him slip back into a steady stream of wheat and sugar.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm coming for your cupcakes

Here's the haircut, by the way:

Is this the face of a woman out to destroy the lives of children everywhere?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Feeding the trolls

I've been busy responding to the online comments on my letter to the editor, something so out of character that it makes my heart pound. But it's important to me to keep bumping the letter to the top of the list and to rack up as many comments as I can…I may have even been deliberately provocative, a little bit. I just want as many people as possible to read my letter and weigh in so that the community will discuss this issue at some level that might actually provoke a change.

It's all gotten very distracting. Almost nobody is taking my side (although I sense the world of online comments is not often where you go to find the especially rational people), and somebody just told me I sounded insane.

I responded, in part: "You want to argue it’s not schools’ job to prevent obesity? Fine. But can they at least stop CONTRIBUTING to the problem? Is it really that important to you that your kids maintain their God-given right to eat cupcakes between the hours of 8 and 3 M-F?"

If that's really so irrational, I'd love to hear why. And if not…a little help?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I really want someone to call me a cupcake Nazi

My letter to the editor about treats in schools was published today. On the newpaper's website, I've gotten one nice comment so far and several fairly insulting ones, including that I need to "lighten up"—which was pretty much the same as my own father's reaction, so I think I can take it. Actually, I was hoping for much more of a firestorm. I really would like to see some attention paid to this issue, and that takes outrage. C'mon, people, let's start the finger-pointing and name-calling!

Sigh. The mild insults were distracting enough. I had work to finish this weekend for Dopey, Doc, Sneezy, and Happy, and at this rate I'm going to have some very dissatisfied dwarves come Monday.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Better than Frosted Mini Wheats

I've been using my food processor to make these little balls of cashew butter with honey and cocoa powder, which look exactly like raw chocolate cookie dough and which the team has dubbed "chockie mountain oysters." Mik's eyes got huge when I offered him some, and he couldn't quite believe his good fortune that they were (essentially) Paleo. Dex has been scarfing them down as well, but it's all good. I put them in that category of "not actually that good for you, but a far sight better than Frosted Mini Wheats, so why not; they're kids." (Yes, in my brain, that is a category. Some other things that go in it are hashbrowns for breakfast every morning and juice popsicles for dessert every evening.)

Maybe you think it's an overreaction to demonize Frosted Mini Wheats as I frequently do, but they're so ridiculous. Gluten and sugar bombs marketed as a health food. And my kids used to eat them all day long. Pure evil!

I just got back from mixing up a new NATGFYBAFSBTFMWSWNTK recipe, "granola" bars made from a variety of nuts, held together with dates, coconut oil, honey, and unsweetened chocolate. It has to cool for two hours, but all signs (i.e., ample sampling) point to super tasty.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy tired

I love it when a day has a plan and the plan gets carried out successfully. My husband knows this, and he scored major points when he pulled the kids away from their watching-"Dr.-Who"-in-the-dark-while-wearing-pajamas marathon and announced that they were going to:

  1. Mow the lawn,
  2. Get on their bikes to go water a friend's trees while they're out of town,
  3. Have a late lunch,
  4. Watch "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," and
  5. Go play at the pool.

I did NOT have to mow the lawn, water the trees, or watch "Mad World," but I DID get to work, eat, and play at the pool, so really, I was the big winner in all this. Now I'm exhausted from an hour and a half of swimming and playing of keep-away in the water, but I'm happy, too. I feel like our whole family has had so much more energy lately, and the change in Michael especially has been wonderful. We're not sure exactly what he weighed before going Paleo, but he said it was over 100 pounds. He was down to 95 when he weighed himself just now, and he certainly looks like he's lost 5 pounds of belly.

It takes a lot of effort on my part to feed him, and the rest of us, but I'm realizing how gratifying it is to cook when people enjoy it and you know how much benefit it brings them.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I'm pleased to introduce my newest (but not youngest) nephew, David. This picture is of him watching my sister-in-law's family pull into the driveway of his orphanage in China to meet him for the first time—doesn't it break/melt your heart? The adoption became official today. I'm so delighted to be associated with this wonderful family who opened their hearts to a boy who otherwise would not have had any family at all.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Baking soda brings freedom?

Here's the picture I printed out to bring to the stylist.
I had pretty much resigned myself to looking like a frizzball all summer long because, well, I always do. I've tried fighting if off with "product," but I'm really not a "product" kind of gal, and that stuff is expensive. I've tried shorter haircuts, but without any length to weigh down the frizz (or the curls), that usually backfires hilariously. I've tried to embrace the look, telling myself that God just made some people's hair naturally frizzy. My most recent attempt has been to wear my hair in a "messy ponytail," which helped contain the explosion somewhat but wasn't fooling anyone. It was a really damn messy ponytail.

But guess what? It turns out God didn't make me frizzy after all. I haven't used shampoo for two full weeks now, and my hair looks perfectly non-insane. It does have an oddly soft, heavier texture that I sort of associate with unwashed hair, but it doesn't actually look greasy or anything. This is probably what hair is supposed to feel like, but it might take some getting used to.

I'm thinking now about getting my hair cut short(ish), because it's hot, and I'm sick of the stupid ponytail, and I think my current hair could actually pull it off. I'm even thinking it could pull off (GASP) layers.

I'll post a picture if I do it, and you can compare my results to Jessica Alba's.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Letter to the editor

I woke up at 5:30 this morning with birds chirping outside and this letter chirping in my head. So I got up, wrote it down (thanks, subconscious!), and emailed it to the local newspaper. May it ruffle feathers, put burrs under saddles, and start balls rolling.

I prefer that my sons avoid sugar. A friend doesn’t like her daughter to eat between meals. My nieces and nephews have trouble focusing when they eat gluten or red food dyes. Others kids have to avoid life-threatening allergens.

Food has a huge effect on kids’ health, weight, and behavior, and it’s just common sense that parents should feed their kids what they think is best for them. It’s not easy, but it’s our right and our responsibility.

So why are we in Billings allowing that authority to be undermined in public schools? I’m not talking about hot lunch or parent-provided snacks. I’m talking about the nonstop parade of birthday cupcakes, reward candy, and class party pizza that students get fed during class time. (Have you ever peeked inside an elementary school on Valentine’s Day?)

In the last five days of school alone, my fifth-grader was offered 12 separate treats, including cookies, ice cream, and popsicles. School has taught him all about the dangers of smoking and drugs. What is it teaching him about sugar, which studies show is every bit as addictive?

But this is a broader issue. Although they mean well, teachers, principals, and parents shouldn’t be feeding children in the classroom at all. In most cases, it’s unhealthy. In all cases, it’s a distraction. And it excludes kids with allergies, health problems, or other dietary restrictions.

You know what would be a real treat? A districtwide policy on this issue.

Friday, June 1, 2012

"Discipline brings freedom"

I just wrote yesterday about the idea of freedom, and then today in yoga, the instructor told us the theme of the class was "Discipline brings freedom." That sounded terribly contradictory for about two seconds, and then the meaning hit me like a ton of bricks and I decided it was the most profound thing I'd heard all year.

Why does discipline bring freedom? Say you want to do something—like run a half marathon or (cough cough cough) write a children's book. Most people stop right there, at wanting to do something, but they end up drifting through their lives, doing the same thing day after day, and wasting time that they could be directing toward their goal.

Discipline makes figure out what concrete steps you need to take. Discipline makes you finish your other obligations efficiently so you have time to take those steps. Discipline makes you cut things out of your life that you don't really want. In other words, discipline lets you do the stuff you want to do, and doing the stuff you want to do is the very definition of freedom. Cool.