Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sunshine, shopping, and progress

On the last full day of school, my husband and I decided to blow off work in the morning and walk a 3½-mile stretch of bike trail through the middle of town. It conveniently took us to an area with restaurants, so we had lunch before walking back to our car. Then we went shopping at the Goodwill-type store we like and bought $70 worth of $3 and $4 shirts and stuff.

It was nice to do something completely different. It reminds me of why we quit our jobs and moved to Montana in the first place—for the freedom! That and, M.H. would add, to write novels that earn passive income while we're basking in the sunshine. (Even if the passive income is only like $4 a day right now.)

My awesome morning helped me simmer down about the schools and their sugar, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to distribute some kind of letter about it still. I'm thinking maybe instead of teachers and principals, I'll send it to the newspaper, where it might possibly spark some kind of citywide discussion, which would be great. Because it's really out of hand. Mik was offered three treats on Friday, three on Tuesday, one Wednesday, one Thursday, and there's at least one planned for tomorrow. (Before that, I wasn't keeping track.)

I really sympathize with how challenging eating Paleo has been for him, but I'm so pleased with how it's going so far. The stomach problems have disappeared, and he already looks like he's slimming down. He seems much more energetic (we've been treated to some awesome dance moves). He also says he feels stronger at swim practice, which the coaches noticed, too. He's been telling kids at school that wheat is bad for you (which I guess provoked some sort of uproar in the lunch room, with a group of kids chanting, "Wheat is heal-thy!" which I find hilarious). And get this: Today I made him a stir fry of bacon, broccoli, and carrots, and he devoured it and asked for seconds. Those are three foods he already liked, but he ate them in a slightly different form and mixed together. That's huge for a picky eater.

Update: Four treats on Friday. He and I had decided it should be a cheat day, and he got sick again that night.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Schools and sugar

Mik's experience of having to turn down so much sugar at school this week has really been gnawing at me (and today it was "only" an ice cream sandwich). But the more I think about it, the more I think it's ridiculous that kids are served any food at all in the classrooms. What about kids with allergies? What about the ones with food intolerances? What if a parent just prefers that their kids not eat certain things, like food dyes or animal products? What right do they have to be feeding my kids things that are both addictive and terrible for them (or allowing other parents to do it)? And isn't eating what lunchtime is for?

I know the kids can just refuse the food, but come on. They're kids. They don't know how bad sugar is for them, and if they did, they wouldn't care.

This has been an issue for Dex his whole life, because he can't eat dairy or eggs, so maybe I'm a bad mother for only getting riled up about it now. What we used to do for him, though, was bring the teacher a box of Blow Pops, so whenever treats got brought into the classroom, he could have one of those instead. (And they used to go through a Costco box of suckers every year, believe me.)

If I had to do it over again, I think I'd be writing letters and trying to organize parents. Or is bringing cupcakes to school such a beloved tradition that the PTA mommies wouldn't be able to part with it? (Sigh, don't answer that.)

I'm an elementary school parent for exactly one and a half more days. Fight for change or let it go?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Just an update from this morning. Mik came home nearly in tears and told us he'd had to turn down popsicles, pizza, and ice cream (from our favorite place) at school today. Apparently the school had planned on pizza being lunch, and he had to ask for special permission to go back inside and get his bag of fruits and vegetables. He didn't feel like explaining what he was doing to the other kids, and they pestered him about it all day. He said it was the worst day of school he ever had.

I keep trying to remind myself that it is NOT a tragedy that a happy, well-fed child getting an excellent education in a free country had to decline some "food" that is making him sick, but whoa. That had to suuuuuuck. He's got two and a half more days of school and a birthday party after school on Friday. This had better work.

Cupcakes on parade

There are three and a half more days of school, and today we sent Mik off with cold Paleo pancakes (success!), strawberries, grapes, baby carrots, cheese, and juice in his lunchbox. Getting through the school day on Paleo could be a challenge, because they have some sort of party or field day planned pretty much every day this week, and sugar is always a part of that. (Have you ever thought about how messed up that is? They drill the anti-drug and anti-smoking messages into their heads from kindergarten, all the while serving an endless parade of cupcakes.) In fact, the night when he had his worst episode of stomach pains, he'd had three treats that day at school. Sheesh.

But he told me (quite proudly) last night that he had not cheated once since he started this. And this morning, he told me that if he stayed on this diet longer than the planned two weeks, he was sure to make state in swimming this summer.

Oooh, I have high hopes for that boy.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Paleo for the picky eater

I've learned that the book-indexing project is more urgent than I had assumed, so I've been working nonstop all this weekend—well, with breaks for church, yoga, and to make Mik repeats of all of yesterday's meals. I feel like the kid's personal chef, but I am not complaining. And he hasn't complained a peep either, even though his diet has been completely turned upside-down. We both think it's much, much better than taking him to a doctor.

Here are my ideas for additional Mik-friendly Paleo dishes:

  • Meatballs; i.e., hamburgers in a different shape. If he ever masters eating those, I might try putting garlic or eggs or almond flour in them.
  • Mashed potatoes; i.e., hasbrowns in a different shape. The plus there is I should be able to slip in garlic and almond milk, at least.
  • Nothing soup; i.e., warmed beef broth. He might let me put broccoli in it, but I don't have high hopes.
  • Paleo Pad Thai without the eggs and chicken. He's tried this before and turned up his nose, but it's really, really good, and I think he should try again, don't you? Maybe with some honey in the sauce?
  • Cucumbers. He doesn't actually like them but has eaten them frequently in the past when forced to.
  • Caramelized onions. He ate one the first time I made them and did not make a face. (Or realize he was eating an onion.)
  • White "bread." I already tried and failed to feed him this one, but I think I overcooked it and want to try again.
  • French toast pancakes. These are mostly cream cheese. (Did I mention I'm letting him eat cheese? That's for both our sanity.) What's not to like?
  • Coconut milk strawberry ice cream. Pretty sure I'm deluding myself, but if he doesn't eat it, then I'll get to.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

One more going Paleo

Mik has been having weird stomach pains (which he describes as like severe hunger) with nausea off and on for a while. And after an episode that kept us all up until after midnight last night, I started getting serious about trying to figure out what might be wrong with him. I was horrified to see that his symptoms match those of a peptic ulcer!

I told him he could either go to the doctor—and endure some rather unpleasant diagnostic tests, which I did not even mention—or try eating Paleo for two weeks to see if that helps. (I knew he'd choose the Paleo, but, see, I wanted him to own that decision. Sometimes I am clever.)

I honestly think this is the best possible thing for him, since I am not a fan of antibiotics and I've heard they don't always completely eliminate the H. pylori anyway. Much better to starve them into submission by cutting off their supply of sugar and flour—which this child certainly consumes a ton of. I'm hoping he'll be feeling so strong by the end of two weeks that he'll never want to go back to it.

I'm also hoping for some inspiration (or brilliant suggestions) about what to feed him. Today he's had hashbrowns, bacon, berries, grapes, a smoothie, iceberg lettuce, bacon burger sliders on toothpicks, and roasted cauliflower. And an antacid. I can think of only two other Paleo-safe foods he will currently eat (carrots and broccoli). But I've promised him that I would keep him well fed for the next two weeks, so if it has to be hamburgers and hashbrowns every day, then so be it. Maybe if I can move him from sliders to meatballs, I could sneak in an egg or something.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I can't believe how little I've gotten accomplished today. I have a book to index for Happy, three articles to edit for Sneezy, and nine chapters to review for Prince Charming…basically an infinite supply of work. Somehow I ended up instead spending the day cooking, messing about with chia seeds, and writing a 27-page Facebook diatribe to a college friend about why his doctor was stupid to put him on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.

M.H. usually helps out with the cooking and talks me down from my diatribes, but he was busy all day checking Amazon to watch his Kindle download numbers climb. His book was available for free yesterday and today, and it was kind of shocking to see nearly 1,000 (so far) new downloads in those two days. I know that's not HUGE huge, but it's about ten times the number that had been sold to date, and it's kind of fun to think about who might have downloaded it, what they might think, and who they might tell. (We're still waiting for the first Amazon review from a complete stranger; is it wrong to hope they praise the editing?)

Speaking of which, off to the coal mines.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chia seed experiment #1

I talked my husband into going to the health-food store with me last night to look for chia seeds, and while we were there, he noticed that they sell local honey, so we grabbed that, too. (I also purchased most of the supplies for homemade sunscreen, but more on that later.)

I had made a loaf of Paleo "bread" that desperately needed something sweet spread on it, so this morning I whipped up a batch of strawberry jam with the chia seeds. (It was just a cup of strawberries, a tablespoon of chia seeds, a tablespoon of water, and a few drops of honey combined in the food processor and then refrigerated for an hour.) My jam actually looks a little odd and foamy, but it hit the spot on the cavebread, so mission accomplished. In fact, that might end up being dinner.

I'm not sure if I was supposed to use a food processor for the jam, actually, but I use it for everything now. I accidentally killed my little one a few weeks ago with some overzealous chopping of frozen fruit, but I got a bigger, tougher, shinier one for Mother's Day, and I love it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Baking soda and chia seeds

Maybe it's too early to say definitively, but I think I love washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar. My hair seems clean and doesn't smell or feel weird—in fact I think it might actually be less frizzy now, which is nothing short of miraculous. Best of all, it's one of those rare switches to a healthier and/or more environmentally friendly product that doesn't end up costing twice as much. In fact, we own (for some reason I can't recall) a 12-pound bag of baking soda, and that puppy just graduated from "dead weight in the lazy Susan" to "infinite supply of shampoo." I will literally never need to buy it again.

(If you're curious about how to do this, here are the instructions.)

Now that I'm going to be saving SO much money on hair products, I should have plenty left in the New Life Plan budget to purchase a 10-pound bag of chia seeds. What? They have many uses, apparently. I am most interested in trying them as an egg substitute, because there are many, many Paleo baked goods I would love to try making for my egg-allergic son. That and blackberry jam. And crackers. And sprouts.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rough week

Ugh, every morning this week seems to start earlier than the last. We've been staying up until midnight or later every night—me frantically working to try to meet a book deadline for Dopey, and M.H. trying to coach D into a more respectable math grade. Then the birds outside have been waking me up around 6 a.m., and I'm finding it's too hot and/or bright at that hour to go back to sleep. And it's only May.

Today's wake-up call was at 5 a.m., when Mik knocked on our door to tells us he'd thrown up in his bed.

I'm not as much of a basket case as you would expect after all this (since I don't traditionally function well on much less than nine hours of sleep). But the plan is to work diligently today, get the book done, and get to bed early. Then tomorrow I'll start dealing with the challenges of the weekend, which, assuming our sickie actually has the strength for it, is supposed to include a swim meet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Call me crazy…

Little did I know when I started reading 10,000 blogs devoted to Paleo eating that Paleo was just a gateway drug into a broader natural-living, chemical-free health movement. So naturally I'm starting to become alarmed about the chemical content in shampoo and deodorant and lotion and sunscreen. 

Apparently you can wash your hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar (I assume not at the same time). Health-sparing, money-saving idea, or carrot train to Crazytown?

Don't answer that, because I'm probably going to try it this week.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Read the link, ignore the rant

This is a great, straightforward summary of exactly what gets me all riled up these days. (So much so that I risked mass Facebook downfriending by posting it there, complete with mini-rant.) It just makes me mad that people are working so hard to get in shape and still can't because the conventional advice is wrong.

In case you didn't read the article, this is the conventional wisdom in question:
1. If you want to lose weight, just eat less and exercise more!
2. The more cardio you get, the better!
3. It's as simple as calories in, calories out!

After yoga on Friday, some people were asking me about what I'm doing to lose weight (because after two weeks of strict Paleo I'm apparently starting to look skinny again, yay), and I was saying this very thing—how frustrating it is to me that all the things we've been taught are wrong. One of the people standing around was an aerobics instructor, and she turned the conversation to the evils of fast food, which I could not agree with more. But then she talked about how hard it is with kids and time constraints and "confessed" that sometimes they have to eat there, and she'll "just get a grilled snack wrap without the sauce." I don't even know what a snack wrap is, but I do have a feeling the bun (tortilla?) is a lot worse for you than some mayo or whatever. People will make every effort to deny themselves things for the sake of health, but they don't even know what it is they're supposed to be denying themselves.

It's started to grate on my nerves is when I hear the phrase "artery clogging" in relation to fatty foods. I want to stop the person right there and say, A, it really depends on what kind of fat it is. And, B, the problem isn't artery blockage so much as artery inflammation, which is what the bread and sugar is doing to us.

I'm not saying that people mustn't ever eat foods that are bad for them. That would be a bit hypocritical coming from the woman who sullied her month of perfect eating by letting her husband take her out for pizza on Saturday (which is why the food diary grows strangely silent after Friday). I'm just saying we need to KNOW which foods are actually bad for us.

For Mother's Day, I gave myself permission to indulge in a long, soothing, hot rant. Ahhhhh. That's better.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Food diary

I started eating strictly Paleo again on May 1, and other than a tiny internal tantrum when everyone else was eating rhubarb pie at the Rhubarb party and I couldn't try it, I've been feeling really good. I am having minor breakthroughs in yoga, and I seem to have a lot of energy, despite spending all the rest of my time in The Chair, working. (It's good, because 100% Paleo means tons of cooking, and I need strength for ALL THAT CHOPPING.)

I thought it might be interesting to record a week's worth of meals (or maybe more), and if you find that in any way helpful, you can see the running food diary over to the right, under "A week of eating Paleo." I'm just trying to get a sense of the variety I eat, plus I'm recording mealtimes, since I'm shooting for a fourteen- to sixteen-hour nightly fast. So, you know, check back around 6 p.m. Mountain time for the riveting saga of What I Had for Dinner on Wednesday!

There's one other strange Paleo-related thing that I keep meaning to mention. You know how when your foot falls asleep, you get pins and needles while it's waking up? Well, I realized that since going mostly Paleo, that doesn't happen to me any more. Body parts still fall asleep, but then they come back to normal with no pain. And this has been going on, I think, since I first started eating this way last fall. What does it mean?!?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Onward and uphill

Okay, here's the eight-line guest post I wrote for Mommy Nani Boo Boo. The prompt was "uphill," which I could have taken in all sorts of much more literal places a year ago at this time (sample post from last May) but went somewhere entirely different with now. (You all get it, right?)

Great. So if you're wondering what Mommy Nani Boo Boo is talking about when she says "honoring" her pubic bone, then read this.

And if you want to read the post that made me love her blog and jump at the chance to write for it, then read this. (Do you see why I found this "guest post" thing intimidating?)

P.S. My little prose poem anecdote thing there is a true story, and happened last weekend, except that it wasn't actually at my husband's birthday party, but a shindig my mom threw to celebrate the release of Rhubarb.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The keys to writing

I don't want to get into a fight about semantics here, but I am not a real blogger.

If I was a real blogger, I would have contests and sponsored content. I would have little ads on my site and worry about hits. I would have weekly "Wordless Wednesday" or "Three Things Thursday" posts. If I had not blogged in more than a few days, I would apologize for having "gone dark." I would take part in blogging "awards" that require you to answer fifty questions about yourself and similarly bestow six other bloggers.

Oh, out with it already, "Ironmom." What I'm trying to say is I did a real-blogger-like thing yesterday and submitted a guest post to someone else's blog. I'll link to it when it goes up tomorrow, but for right now I'll just tell you I'm very pleased that I was able to write something that I felt was good enough for a wider audience to see.

It was really the perfect writing formula: I had a restriction on the format, a prompt as to the topic, and a deadline. In fact, I've been thinking those are the exact three things I need in order to write that children's book I've been talking about. I already have thoughts on the format and the deadline. Anybody want to provide a writing prompt?

Friday, May 4, 2012


So April came to an end somewhere back there in the haze of work obligations, and I did look at some of the totals on my 2012 goals, but then I was too busy and too discouraged to post anything about it. Some of my numbers (walking, eBay selling) are creeping forward way too slowly. Some of them are not creeping anywhere at all (writing a children's book). And some of them are actually going the wrong way (losing weight and memorizing words). That's right: I gained a couple of pounds in April and actually FORGOT large chunks of Romans, because I haven't been able to meet with my memorizing friends for four weeks, for various reasons.

I have to say, though, the thing that annoys me the most is having gained back some weight. I could say that it just goes to show it's not a good idea to go out for burritos the night before a weigh-in, but, really, that was just symbolic of the whole stupid month. So I'm doing another 30 days of strict Paleo eating. It's going to be annoying to stop going out for ice cream all the time (especially when we've just discovered the best new place), but losing 10 pounds was the one goal that I really wanted to achieve this year, and it should also be the easiest. Plus, I'm in a terrible time crunch with work, and not eating so darn much is the only thing that doesn't take any extra time.