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.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Parsnip report

So lunchtime arrived and I decided to tackle the parsnips. The first thing I learned in my recipe search is that summer is not really prime parsnip time. I've found that eating fruits and vegetables in season makes a big difference, so I lowered my expectations a bit. Then I noticed that the parsnips were a bit bendy/mushy; I suppose this is the sort of vegetable that sits on the grocery store shelf longer than, say, potatoes. I cut off the bad parts and lowered my expectations again.

I had decided to make "french fries" out of them—just peeled and chopped parsnips coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper, roasted in the oven for 450 degrees for 35 minutes. Except I started smelling burning after about 10 minutes, and when I finally decided to flip them at 15 minutes, about half of them were cinders on one side. Note for next time: 450 is too hot!

My first impression on tasting what was left was that they were way too sweet. They sort of tasted like a cross between a french fry and a carrot. But I added more salt, and they started to grow on me. M.H. thought they tasted kind of like sweet potato fries. I made Mik try one, and he made a face, but it was the face that means, "This tastes new to me," not the face that means, "This makes me want to hurl."

They're definitely worth another try, but maybe not until the fall. In the meantime, any other preparation ideas?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Look at these lovely parsnips

Giant stupid carrots?
I had mentioned to M.H. a couple of weeks ago that I was wanting to try a new vegetable and that I'd heard good things about parsnips. I promptly forgot all about it, but today he came home from the grocery story and announced, "I got your stupid parsnips. They look like giant stupid carrots." And they do! No idea yet what they taste like or what I'm going to do with them. I've been pretty successful at incorporating new vegetables into our regular diets, though. So far we've added cauliflower, asparagus, kale, collard greens, brussels sprouts, zucchini, and cabbage. (Jicama didn't take. No one else cared for it much, and it was kind of a pain to prepare.) And, no, the kids don't eat all of those. Yet.

Oh, and I've also been turning avocados into guacamole, which reminds me that I tried using some guac as a salad dressing tonight, and it was really pretty good. Maybe I gave up on homemade dressing too soon. I think I'll try again to make some homemade mayo and then mix it with avocado and ranch-like seasonings. Avocado ranch is a thing, right?

Monday, July 2, 2012

The weight-loss marathon

I can't help but keep checking Facebook to see how my calorie-counting comrades are doing on the lose-a-marathon weight-loss challenge. This week's theme is "healthy snacking," which actually made me want to smack the keyboard right into my face, because as we all know it's a myth that it's a good idea to eat every two to three hours. (Yes, it keeps your blood sugar steady—steadily elevated! The insulin never stops flowing.)

But you know me, never one to be confrontational. Instead, I'm cheerily contributing to the supportive atmosphere (which is actually the one thing I'm enjoying about this Facebook group) by congratulating people on their successes and posting helpful articles that the group might find interesting. I just posted a link about how conventional wisdom on frequent snacking is perhaps counterproductive. A gentle nudge toward reality.

Meanwhile, my official weigh-in shows that I've lost one pound in two weeks. It's probably good that I'm stepping away from the potatoes this month—and I think dairy, too—because it would be really embarrassing not to meet my puny five-pound goal.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wellness challenge

I just signed up for a 30-day "wellness challenge" (i.e., opportunity to win prizes on the Internet). I figured it would be a breeze for me because I'm already so darn well, but reading the list of forbidden foods and substances, it appears I've just agreed to give up potatoes for a month. (And maybe soap?) Nooooo!

Today was better than yesterday. I got some work done, got some cooking done, got some reading done, went to church, and went to yoga. I was feeling so good after yoga (and 45 minutes of chatting with people afterward) that I decided to run on the treadmill some, just for fun. I ran really fast for five one-minute intervals, with walking in between. It used to be that, if I hadn't run for months, any running would be a miserable ordeal involving pain and gasping. This felt kind of awesome, though. It is possible I did one too many. The last one at (9 mph) involved some fairly serious gasping. And nearly some hurling.