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!