Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I don't think I'm going to make any New Year's resolutions. Of course, it sounds like fun—who can resist the allure of planning for a better life?—but the problem I had last year is that my resolutions became obsolete before the year was up.

For example, it seemed like a terrific idea to do a year without sugar—until the moment in May when I was sitting in a five-star restaurant in Maui and was presented with a palate-cleansing bowl of fresh sorbet between courses. In other words, my future self had new information that my past self had not anticipated when making the resolution (the new information was "It's better to have a tiny bit of sugar than to be annoying in an extremely fancy restaurant"). Later on, I decided that avoiding sugar wasn't nearly as important to me as avoiding gluten, so I ditched that resolution altogether. I also "cheated" on my resolution to stay off the scale. Sometime in the summer, I felt like I was in absolutely terrific shape and perhaps close to an ideal weight, and I wanted to see what it was (it was 160) in order to have a reference point.

Anyway, my logic is that my future self will, by definition, know more than my present self, and I might as well just trust her to make good decisions on our behalf. My future self hates being bossed around by someone with incomplete data.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Another new Sneezy

I landed a new job recently (which I guess I will have to call Sneezy, since that's the only name available). It's going to be steady work and a biggish time commitment, so if things all work out as planned, I should be able to drastically reduce my work with or even resign from Grumpy in the near future, which makes me…Happy.

Time will tell. Right now I'm immersed in the most unbelievable pile of pre-employment paperwork I've ever encountered. Seriously, it's more like buying a house than securing a few-hours-a-day job, in terms of both the bureaucracy and the sheer effort involved. I think I've now followed almost all the steps and sub-steps and sub-sub-steps, and now all that remains is to have "a notary, employer, trusted friend, or colleague" verify that my driver's license and social security card are legit, have that person fill out a two-page form, scan and email the full 10-page form, scan and email the IDs, and then snail mail all the hard copies. That's one sub-step, in case you were wondering.

But I'm confident that this is going to be a good thing in the long run. In fact, I'm making this my goal for 2014: to find some balance with my career. For me that means making enough money but without sacrificing my flexibility and family time or overworking myself for weeks on end. (Being overworked for days on end is inevitable, but I can deal with that.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fixing the failcakes

I make Paleo pancakes for Mik all the time, but until recently I wasn't quite satisfied with the recipe. The main problem was that they tended to fall apart so easily. You had to make them really tiny, and if you weren't extremely careful when flipping them, you still ended up with a mess. Which is why Mik referred to them as "failcakes."

Since discovering the miracle of potato starch, though, I've tweaked the recipe and now think they're perfect enough to share. This is a pretty eggy pancake, but that's by design—my way of tricking the boy into eating eggs. Of course the next project will be perfecting the egg-free version for Dex and me.

Grain-free pancakes

¼ cup almond flour
2 T coconut flour
1 T potato starch
½ t baking soda
3 eggs
half a stick of butter, melted
¼ to ½ cup water (or milk)
1 t vanilla
1 T maple syrup
add a pinch of salt if you're using unsalted butter

Use more water for thinner pancakes (about eight of them) and less water for thick and fluffy ones (about six). Mix all the ingredients and let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile heat a griddle to 200 degrees (a low temperature because almond flour burns easily). When the batter and griddle are ready, pour your pancakes. Flip them when you begin to see bubbles—it takes maybe five minutes or so, so be patient and take a peek around the edges before flipping.

Serves one teenage swimmer if you supplement with bacon.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cheese and tea

Well, no gallbladder (or whatever it was) pain since I stopped eating dairy. Maybe it's a coincidence, but I guess I'll keep doing what works until it doesn't work anymore. It stinks, though. The cheese in my fridge is mocking me. I've read that cheese is even more physically addictive than sugar, and that certainly feels true.

I've also been continuing to drink peppermint tea, but I would have done that anyway. They make special blends with awesome names like "Christmas Eve" and "Merrymint" and "White Christmas," and I am well stocked for the season, believe me. My rule of thumb is fruity iced teas for the summer, minty hot teas for the winter. And jasmine all the time.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Galling. Ha ha ha

M.H. had to have his gallbladder removed a couple of years ago, so anytime I say my stomach hurts, he immediately assumes it's my gallbladder. After breakfast this morning, I had a dull but persistent pain, similar to what I've been attributing to eating dairy, but without actually having eaten any dairy.

Him: It's your gallbladder.
Me: But it has to do with something I ate.
Him: Eating is what triggers the pain.
Me: But it's really minor.
Him: That's how it started for me, too.
Me: But it hurts way up here.
Him: That's where your gallbladder is.

So maybe I've been having gallbladder pain. It certainly runs in my family. After accepting this possibility, my first plan of action was to decide to knock off the dairy. My second was to go to Dr. Google and hunt for natural ways to deal with gallstones. I came up with vinegar, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, magnesium, and peppermint tea. So I went downstairs and had vinegar, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, magnesium, and peppermint tea, and now I feel much better. Yay!

Controlled experimentation is nice and all, but when you're in pain you sometimes have to just throw everything you've got at the problem.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An analysis of "Sherlock" (and pizza crust)

We're getting excited over here about the new season of the BBC's Sherlock. M.H. and I have long thought that "Moriarty" must be a collection of villains, not just one person (this is alluded to in the first episode). We've been talking for a while about whether the letters in the name represent four people, MO, RI, AR, and TY, and we highly suspect that that too-innocent little Molly is MO. But M.H. just had the brilliant thought that Kitty Riley could be RI, and maybe Moriarty is actually a group of four women. So perfect, right? All of which would make Andrew Scott's character…actually an actor hired to portray Moriarty! Remember in the last episode? "That's what you do when you sell a big lie; you wrap it up in the truth to make it more palatable."

If you don't have chills right now, go watch all six episodes on Netflix immediately and get up to speed so you can appreciate my husband's genius.

Speaking of things that are awesome because I say so, that's why: With potato starch, white rice flour, and almond flour, I can make a tasty, cracker-thin, crispy pizza crust—which happens to be the best kind of pizza crust. I'm still playing around with the ingredients—and I want to see what happens when I add yeast to the mix—but I'm pretty confident I can make up a healthy pizza crust that's actually better than the wheat-based crust I used to make. Big talk, right? :)

Sadly, I don't think all this pizza experimentation is contributing to my well-being. I normally do eat white rice (the least-offensive grain I know of) and potatoes occasionally, but I don't want to have them every day. Also, the cheese I've been putting on my pizza experiments is upsetting my stomach. And I'm just now getting over the throat-centered crud caused by accidentally eating gluten. Bleah!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

They put the word "Cracker" in the name to warn you

My in-laws took us out to Cracker Barrel last night and then to a Christmas program at their church. I woke up feeling like death warmed over and can only conclude that something at Cracker Barrel that didn't seem like it should have gluten did have gluten. (It was either that or the jazzy rendition of "O Holy Night.")

For me the symptoms are a headache, a sore throat, and a raging thirst that's worse than (and the cause of) the other two combined. Mostly I'm bummed that I have to "start over" being gluten free and don't know how long it will take me to go back to feeling great again.

When I used to eat bread at every meal, I never got this, but of course I was also overweight and tired and got winded easily and on and on. (I was going to add "no ambition," which is sort of true but sounds insane when you consider that I did an Ironman back then. Maybe what I wanted to say is "less enthusiasm for life.") Anyway, this gluten hangover is awful, but I now consider it a poison-detection system and am grateful to have it. I don't consider "being used to poison" a useful state.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kitchen experiments with my new pet ingredient

My first potato starch experiment was making tortillas. I just took the flatbread recipe and added some water to make them even flatter. It worked like a charm, and it was lovely to see the family enjoying their soft tacos. The only complaint about the tortillas was that there weren't enough tortillas.

But that was yesterday. Today I tried making sopapillas. The batter tasted like it was made of honey and angel tears, and I had confidence that the potato starch would hold everything together when I fried them up. So I quickly plopped four balls of dough in the pan of oil…and they simultaneously disintegrated and caught on fire. Or something. I couldn't really see through the smoke. I had to take what was left of the batter and bake it in balls on a cookie sheet. What came out was an interesting cross between a cookie and a biscuit and a crepe, but frankly not something I care to ever eat again.

The problem is, every once in a while I arbitrarily throw ingredients together in a bowl and it comes out brilliantly, so I don't like to stop trying. It's like Facebook: 90% junk, but you hate to give it up and miss the 10% that brings joy to your life.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A new ingredient to experiment with

I just made a fascinating and wonderful discovery, if you're the type of person for whom the topic of gluten-free flours produces wonder and fascination.

Let me back up a little bit so you understand. I've mentioned the benefits of resistant starch before, but some reading I've been doing lately has gotten me interested in it again. Green bananas are a convenient source, but it's sometimes hard to find them, and of course they don't stay green for very long. The article I linked to above mentioned potato starch, and I had heard that it was also a nice binder for Paleo breads. That's really important to me, because the usual binder for Paleo breads is eggs, and Dex is allergic to them (and of course I also avoid them now). I've come up with several eggy, bread-like things that Mik likes, but I've had zero success in all this time trying to make bread or pancakes for Dex.

Anyway, I bought some potato starch in bulk today, and while I was messing around in the kitchen with something else (homemade ketchup!) Dex made a three-ingredient Paleo flatbread. It was amazing! Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and it held together far better than any gluten-free bread I've ever made. I could easily see turning this recipe into tortillas, pancakes, pizza crust—shoot, it reminded me so much of sopapillas that I think I'll try those first and see if I can make M.H.'s day. Potato starch might also be the secret ingredient I need to actually create an egg-free, grain-free sandwich bread (which is frankly the Holy Grail for me right now).

The only thing to temper all this enthusiasm is that, to get a decent amount of resistant starch, you really need to eat the potato starch raw, but I guess none of the above keeps me from tossing some into a smoothie once in a while.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My latest thinking

I mentioned that I fell off the no-sugar-for-a-year wagon—which sounds like a really lame thing to do in NOVEMBER, for crying out loud, when I've almost made it—but I don't think it's really all that tragic. Because I'm constantly reading about nutrition, my views on what I should eat and what I want to eat have been gradually evolving for a long time now, and I no longer think that avoiding sugar like the plague needs to be my priority. (New Life Plan alert!)

See, I read something really compelling a few months ago (and I wish I could find the link) about how severe and widespread the body's inflammatory reaction to gluten can be, and how it can actually last for long as six months after exposure. And I realized that, while I've really cut back on gluten—and given it up completely for as long as 30 days—I'd never actually been gluten-free for a significant amount of time.

As of now it's probably been a month and a half since I last had gluten, which I think is the longest I've ever gone. I still avoid all the other things I was already avoiding (soy, dairy, eggs, sugar, legumes, grains, vegetable oils) but not strictly. Mostly, I just have no desire for any of it. But it seems one "totally off-limits" food is enough for me.

Guess what, though? I'm starting to notice some new differences in my life. For one, I feel like I've lost some more weight, which is always welcome (you know, up to a point). But, two, my mood has improved. You probably all know I'm generally happy and easy-going and in no way prone to moodiness or depression. But lately I've been feeling much better than easy-going and not depressed. I've had moments—lots of them—of pure, dance-around-the-house-for-no-other-reason-than-the-joy-of-being-alive happiness. (And this, by the way, is despite sitting in my office for 12 hours a day and basically never seeing the sun.)

Long story short: I don't really miss pizza.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Figured it out

I stumbled across my marathon race report from 2009 yesterday (it's a note on my Facebook wall), and something timely caught my attention: Despite being nervous and having to get up at 4 a.m., I slept really well the night before the race. According to what I wrote, I was able to achieve this by VISUALIZING sleeping really well (along with other good things) in the week leading up to the event.

Oh, of course! I used the exact same trick to get through the Ironman—remember how I wrote a fake race report ahead of time describing how I hoped things would go as if they had really happened? I can't believe I'd already forgotten about the amazing power of visualization.

Only…can't use my new power for 5:15 yoga tomorrow, because I have to be at my desk by 6. Want to know what I'm visualizing now? Not working for Grumpy anymore.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sleep vs. yoga

The good yoga classes keep vanishing from my gym and being replaced by things like "HardCORE" (45 minutes of core work, if you can believe it) and "Chisel Barre" (60 minutes of pretending to be a ballerina). People must like these classes or they wouldn't exist, but I'm getting concerned. There is only one yoga instructor remaining whom I really like (and luckily I really, REALLY like her), but she teaches just four classes a week, and two of them are at 5:15 in the morning.

Sleep is vitally important to me, so it really says something about how much I am loving yoga right now that I am seriously considering getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning just to do a little more of it. Actually, I've already started trying to get to these early morning classes, but what always happens is that I go to bed at 8:30 or so and then can't sleep because I'm so stressed about the alarm going off early.

On a day when I didn't have to get up for anything, I guarantee you I would be able to fall asleep at 8:30, no problem. (As a matter of fact, I did it last night and then slept for 11 hours straight. That was sweet.) So how to trick my brain into not stressing about the stupid alarm?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recipe: Coconut oil chocolates

I have another recipe for you, except it's not so much a recipe as a general formula, because you can do these in tons of different ways that would all be delicious. I made these several times around Halloween so I'd have something candy-like to soothe the pain of not being able to eat real candy—but that plan backfired, because they turned out to be a candy gateway, and I totally fell off the no-refined-sugar wagon.

So, nutritionally, these are much better than candy, but trust me when I tell you that your brain really won't know the difference. Don't make them if they're only going to launch you into a sugar death spiral.

Here's the basic formula:
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 T maple syrup
Just stir together, pour into molds (or an ice cube tray), and freeze or refrigerate to harden.

And here's my favored variation:
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 T maple syrup
2 T almond butter
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt
Stir together and pour into molds FILLED WITH SALTED NUTS. Freeze or refrigerate to harden.

Mix these with whatever you like. Coconut milk? Mint extract? Dried fruit? Coconut flakes? Bananas? Grasshoppers? Don't look at me. I'm trying to stay away from the things.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shampoo is a LIE, the thrilling conclusion

I've been wanting to tell you the story of how I finally figured out to get my hair looking good, feeling good, not a hassle, and chemical free ALL AT THE SAME TIME, but I was wondering if that seemed too hypocritical after my little anti-vanity rant the other day. Then I realized why this is different: Hair is totally ornamental, and I've never claimed otherwise. And, anyway, this info is TheBombDotMom, so it's clearly within my mission statement to share it with the world.

So at my last hair update, I was washing it every few days with baking soda and rinsing it with vinegar. I liked this method overall and recommended it to people, but there were some downsides, too:


  1. No more frizzy hair (this one is huge).
  2. No more buying expensive crap for your hair (also nice).
  3. No more nasty chemicals soaking in through your skin (made me feel good about myself at least).
  4. No plastic waste (which is getting more important to me all the time).


  1. It was a moderate pain in the neck to mix the baking soda and vinegar solutions and drag them into the shower with me.
  2. The lack of suds feels really weird.
  3. Vinegar smells like vinegar.
  4. Even though my hair looked good, the texture varied a lot, from dry to downright sticky, and I couldn't seem to figure out how to keep it at a happy medium.
  5. I started seeing articles that said this "no-poo" method was actually damaging to hair over the long term because it takes the pH level quickly from one extreme to another.
  6. I despise the term "no-poo."
I started wondering if the whole thing was an elaborate marketing scheme designed to get me to start buying expensive natural shampoos (because, having seen that there was a better way, I most definitely didn't want to go back to my Pantene-and-Frizz-Ease days). And I did switch to an expensive natural shampoo for a short time, but the stuff looked and felt like mud—because it basically was mud—and it solved only some of my problems.

The one nice thing about all this messing-about with my hair was that over time, by gradually going longer and longer between washings, I trained my scalp not to produce so much oil. So whatever hair-washing method I chose, I had to do it only about once a week. (The rest of the time I would just rinse my hair with water or skip it altogether.)

When it was time to reorder my expensive natural shampoo, I just couldn't bear to spend the money, and I started looking for a better option. I stumbled on the term "shampoo bar" and started doing some more research. They were relatively cheap, so I figured I couldn't really go wrong, and I ordered two from this company. It is the perfect solution! No chemicals, no plastics, sudsy, pleasant-smelling…and my hair looks better than it ever has. It's shiny and bouncy, it's soft, and there's zero frizz (this is still huge). I wash it only when I feel like I really need to, which right now is every eight or nine days. I've had a $7 shampoo bar in the shower for several months now and haven't even begun to use it up.

I'm not kidding when I tell you I believe shampoo is a lie. Its whole purpose is to strip your hair's natural protection so that your scalp responds by overproducing oil and you have to keep using the shampoo every day. Oh, and you have to buy conditioners, styling gels, anti-frizz serums, and a bunch of other crap to keep your hair under control because, before it gets all greasy and gross overnight, it's so dry.

I should have written about this a month ago, but to be honest with you, once I got this figured out, I forgot all about my hair. It does its thing all by itself, and I'm at peace with it for the first time I can remember.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The stupidest week

Ever had a nightmare where you work and work and work at something incredibly urgent and important and it all falls to pieces? That was me most of last week. I'm not complaining here about being overworked. I'm complaining because there were technical difficulties at every turn that made HOURS AND HOURS of my work—and a few hours of other people's work—completely pointless. So it's really no exaggeration to call the whole process a nightmare, except that at some point of course it did end and I got to send out an invoice for about a million dollars.

I thought about literally sending an invoice for a million dollars, but I'm guessing my client wouldn't actually have found that as funny as I did at the time.

The good news is that I didn't experience the whole empty-shell phenomenon after finishing up, maybe because it was just five or six intense days, rather than a solid month, of doing nothing but work. I took about half a day to recover and feel sorry for myself and take a long bath, and then I got right back into the swing of doing a reasonable amount of work, cooking, cleaning, reading, memorizing Romans, and just generally rejoining the family.

M.H. is relieved. He's doing NaNoWriMo and says it's his turn to declare a work emergency and make me take care of the household.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Today I overheard an 11-year-old girl—one I know to have a very high-strung, appearance-obsessed mother—complaining that her teeth were too small.

Maybe I'm overreacting in my assessment that this is yet another symptom of a gender gone mad, but hey: Enough is enough, you lunatics. Teeth are not ornamental. If you have the ability to chew food, then your teeth are a perfectly fine size.

The same exact message applies to anyone who's ever tried to tell me that lifting weights might make me "bulky." If "bulky" is what happens when I am strong and functioning well, then so be it. Arms and legs are not ornamental either.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tea emergency

M.H. opened a cabinet the other day and remarked, "You're getting pretty low on tea." Here's what that fearful state looks like, for me:

Time to buy more!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Romans emergency

The seven of us who have hung on and are still memorizing the book of Romans were dismayed this morning when our pastor covered all of Chapter 14, plus some of Chapter 15, in one big bite and is therefore now preaching ahead of what we have memorized. (If it seems like I have been memorizing Romans forever, you would be correct. We're approaching the two-year point. And this is one seriously in-depth sermon series.)

The rallying cry now is we have to hurry! Memorize as much of Chapter 15 as you possibly can by Tuesday! And I am feeling doomed, because next week looks to be the busiest work week I have ever had—or will ever have, if I can help it—and I don't know if I can muster the mental strength to memorize anything at all. Especially since I don't think these last two chapters are as meaty and interesting as some of what we've done already—but you never know. Sometimes memorizing something changes my mind about it.

Incidentally, I had several problems with the pastor's interpretation of Chapter 14 today, but seeing as it contains teachings on the appropriate way to deal with "disputable matters," I think I'll just appreciate the irony and let that one go.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Recipe: Paleo chocolate granola bars

I hadn't really thought to share this recipe until my sister-in-law asked for it, but it is really good! This is a Paleo "granola bar" made out of nuts and dates, and it's a recipe I've tweaked and adapted over the course of a year or so to suit our preferences. Dex in particular loves them and gets one in his lunchbox every day.

Around here (but certainly not in front of our teenage friends) we call them "thingamabobbers," because they kind of resemble a Watchamacallit candy bar.


Grind to a coarse, granola-like texture in a food processor:
1 cup cashews
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
10 pitted Medjool dates

Microwave for 1 minute in a glass measuring cup:
1/2 cup almond butter
2 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste, optional)
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (or to taste, optional)

Grease a small baking pan (the size is not too critical) with coconut oil. Stir the warm chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir the granola and the chocolate mixture together in another bowl, and then spread this mixture into the prepared pan with the back of a spoon. Freeze until firm enough to cut into bars. I wrap each individual bar in foil and store them in the freezer for lunches. They are best eaten frozen!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween with the scary inlaws

I went through a phase of not liking Halloween, but I think I'm mostly over it now. A lot of things about it do bug me, though, particularly the absolute fixation on candy—and the "Aw, let them have as much as they want! They're kids! It's a holiday!" attitude, which I want to write a treatise on but won't. Today.

My sister-in-law and her family have been visiting us from Denver during the week of Halloween the past few years, and we've been hosting big family gatherings where they and their young-enough-to-trick-or-treat kids have been the guests of honor. I can definitely get behind hanging out with relatives, eating, playing games, excited kids, laughing, and answering the doorbell a lot. Fun night.

Mik decided at the last minute to go trick-or-treating with his cousins, and here was his costume:

Did you figure it out? Here's a hint:

Funny how his Doctor costume looks exactly like the clothes he picked out to wear to band concerts.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The zero-waste home?

I just got a library book called "Zero Waste Home," written by a woman who was able to reduce the amount of waste her family produces so much that she literally doesn't keep a trash can in the house anymore. She does have receptacles for composting and recycling, but she tries to minimize both by eating every possible scrap of food and not letting any waste at all get through the front door.

Everybody should be required to read this book, if only so they can stop thinking of me as extreme.

I can't see going to the lengths recommended (like bringing a mason jar to the butcher shop and asking to have your meat put directly into it), but it really is interesting, and I think there are some things I will try. Meanwhile, reading this has reactivated my (briefly disheartened) decluttering drive, so I've spent much of the morning going through old art supplies and adding more things to the donate pile heap mountain.

And adding to the trash, of course. This will be the second week in a row that our normally-not-even-a-quarter-full trash can has been filled to the brim. Real nice zero-waste home we've been running.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Walk-in closet of horrors

I asked Dex if he wanted to start getting rid of some junk from his room to help me get ahead on the October minimalism game. He said yes, and now we're not only ahead—we're completely done. And then some. I'm just not sure how I'll recover from the experience.

See, when Dex was younger, he was both a major creative force and a major packrat. He saved everything he ever made and most everything he ever touched. (At one point M.H. started tearing up toilet paper tubes before putting them in the trash, because otherwise Dex would dig them out and hide them in his dresser drawers.) That little packrat has swung violently in the non-sentimental direction, but we'd never really dealt with all the stuff—we just moved it from Virginia to Montana and took advantage of the fact that his bedroom has a walk-in closet.

Anyway, it was pretty easy to come up with 14+15+16+17…+31 items to part with, but it was absolutely wrenching to figure out what to do with all the drawings and stories and comics and letters and photos and inventions and…stuff. He didn't want any of it, so I had to make some tough decisions about what to save and what to let go—and some then tough decisions about where to store them, because now I guess they're my problem. I saved a lot, but I'm not even going to list some of the stuff I didn't save, because my mother might have a heart attack. In fact, I need to re-forget-all-about-it ASAP, or I might have a heart attack with her.

And that's not even the worst of it. See, we gave a lot of things to charity, and we recycled a lot of drawn-on paper (horrible in its own way), but the worst thing was the incredible amount of waste represented by the mound of broken and unusable toys we didn't want and couldn't donate. It was sickening to think about all the money spent and all the plastics and crap that will end up in a landfill because we didn't take good enough care of things, or lost too many pieces, or just had so many toys that we forgot all about them until it was too late. Ugh.

There's one more "worst" thing: Because Dex took care of the vast majority of this little game, it means we still haven't really scratched the surface in decluttering the rest of the house, let alone gotten into minimalism. I'm seriously considering starting all over again in November, if I decide my heart can take it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I just need to ________?

I got to the end of editing the first book for Happy, and it's a quiet time for Grumpy, and I've had about a week and a half completely off. You'd think I'd have been delighted to have this unexpected break, but the stupid reality is that after working such long, long days for weeks on end, I tend to come out the other side as an empty shell of a human being, with no ideas, purpose, interests, or ambition. I sort of forget what it is I like to do in my spare time—or if I know intellectually what it is I like to do, it doesn't matter because I don't actually want to do it anymore. All I feel like doing is working, but there is no more work, so I end up just staring at my computer trying to make some appear.

I realize this sounds pretty bleak. I avoided writing about it, while in the empty-shell stage, for that reason.

Then a few days ago I started getting all interested in this book I'd heard about (about creating a household that produces next to no landfill waste—more on that later), and I started debating with M.H. about the pros and cons of composting, and I started making up Paleo bread recipes again, and I finished reading a novel, and I realized…I came back! I don't quite understand this empty-shell phenomenon, but it seems to happen every time I have to transition from "all the work" to "no work," so maybe I need to find some way to deal with it or head it off or something.

By the way, if you're thinking to yourself, "You dummy, you just need to _________," then please chime in and help me out here. (Unless you filled in the blank with "not work such long hours." That's off the table if I want to be a freelancer.)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hard and easy

Okay, so controlled food reintroductions…hard. First I reintroduced white potatoes, which didn't seem to have any negative effect on me, then I reintroduced dairy, which upset my stomach, and then (sticking with tradition) I reintroduced way too much pizza and felt awful. I don't know why, but eating bread seems to dry me out horribly. I woke up the morning after the pizza with my mouth feeling like I'd just spent three weeks in the desert eating sand, and it was almost just as bad the following night. I am trying to rehydrate, but I just can't seem to get enough liquid into my body.

Meanwhile (delightful surprise), the minimalism game is easy—and fun! It's only October 6, but we haven't even had to break a sweat in getting rid of things. Yesterday I just asked Dex to open a random drawer and pull out five things we didn't need (he chose a lone chopstick, some iPod packaging, an old DVD, an ancient digital camera, and a bottle of "invisible ink"). Just glancing at our bookshelves, the toy room, the kids' rooms, and the kitchen tells me this isn't even going to get challenging for a while.

I guess it will get challenging at the point when it actually becomes about minimalism, rather than just decluttering.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A minimalism game

Well, we made it through another Whole30. I think I got a bit skinnier despite eating approximately 3,000 apples over the course of the month (there was a free ad…and a tree…and a Paleo apple crisp recipe—you would have done the same thing). But overall I was right in predicting it would be easy and boring. Now I'm going to try to be smart and reintroduce "forbidden" foods to my diet one at a time, starting with white potatoes. That has the potential to be less easy and boring, and might actually yield more useful information than my usual system of eating a ton of pizza and then feeling awful.

So besides diet experimentation, what's the plan for October? My family's going to play a minimalism game. On October 1, we're going to get rid of one material possession. On October 2, we're going to get rid of two. And so on, as long as possible. The possession can be sold, donated, gifted, or trashed. I'm going to be pretty lenient about what counts as a "possession"—an emptied-out file folder, a dried-out marker, a pair of too-small kid jeans with holes in them, or an old cardboard box that goes from the garage floor to the recycling bin would each count as one. I'm also going to be lenient about when the possession actually has to leave the house. If it's put in the trunk of the car to be donated to Goodwill on October 31, that counts.

I don't have high hopes that we'll make it through the entire month, since we already had a garage sale this summer and I've been in a slow process of getting rid of old clothes and stuff for quite some time. But I think it will be kind of fun, and I've already informed the kids that they're playing, too, so if anyone accidentally cleans his room in the process of meeting his quota, that will be a bonus.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Whole30-legal vegan chocolate cake cookies

Of course the first thing I have to do is clarify that these are not actually Whole30-legal, because one of the main rules of the Whole30 is that you don't try to re-create junk food with healthy ingredients. But let's just conveniently forget that for a second, because these cookies are THE BOMB, and they're made of stuff that IS Whole30-legal, and I would rather feed them to my kids for breakfast than, say, Cheerios. So there.

I came up with these in the third week of our current Whole30, which is about the point when I for one get a little tired of being so dietarily virtuous all the doggone time, but I don't really consider them much of a cheat. They taste like dark-chocolate cake to me, but if you want them sweeter and don't care about being vegan or Whole30-legal, you could add a bit of honey and some chocolate chips.

Chocolate cake cookies

8 large Medjool dates
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 T coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup water
3 T palm shortening

1. Pit the dates and start them soaking in 1/3 cup of water.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a food processor, grind the walnuts to a powder.
4. Add the dates, water, and palm shortening to the food processor and process with the walnuts until the mixture looks like nut butter.
5. Add all the dry ingredients to the food processor and process until the dough starts to form a ball.
6. Form small balls of dough with your hands, flatten them to cookie shape (they will not spread in the oven), and put them on the cookie sheet (about 20 cookies).
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I've been working on massive projects for three clients at once and, while I'm still doing okay deadline-wise, putting in so many hours is starting to mess me up. Here's a partial list of things that now feel like recreational activities:
  1. Cleaning the bathroom
  2. Emptying the dishwasher
  3. Slicing and peeling cooking apples
  4. Switching to my standing desk
  5. Doing different work for a fourth client
That last one is especially odd. I have one client (Grumpy) where I can just pick up assignments I want from a website as they become available. If I don't do them, another freelancer will, and Grumpy won't care or even notice right now that I'm not around. So why do I feel compelled to keep picking up work from Grumpy?

I think it's partly habit and partly that it feels like a mental break—but mostly my brain being a complete idiot. It's like…I'm not in deadline trouble yet, so let's see how far I can push this thing! You know?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Writing my reality

I've had such a nice summer that I've been hesitant to admit that it's coming to an end. But after 24 straight hours of cool and gray and rain (which is just weird in this climate anyway), I've finally closed the last of the windows and put on my favorite pair of wool socks. My toes are super happy, but my brain is still morose. I mean, I know we'll have a lot more nice days before winter settles in, but I might not get outside much to enjoy it, and there's no getting around the fact now that that was pretty much that, as far as summer goes.

It was fun to write about my adventures, though. I've read that one advantage of keeping a blog (or a diary or a scrapbook) is that summarizing and analyzing your experiences actually helps your brain to retain them better—plus, of course, you get that written record. I wonder if it follows that you should write mostly about the good stuff, and the lessons you've learned from the hard stuff, and just let the truly bad stuff fade with the passage of time.

I can't help but think that this would work especially well for me, since I have a terrible memory. For example, I was mortified most of the time at my 20-year high school reunion a few years ago because there were really huge things that I had no recollection of at all (like the fact that one of my oldest friends had been on the swim team with me) and entire human beings who seemed to know me pretty well but whose names didn't even sound familiar. (By the way, thank goodness for Facebook, because it keeps people fresh in my mind and gives me time to do some research before interacting with them, if necessary.)

So, yeah, these lapses are frustrating and embarrassing, but there's a kind of bliss in not being tortured by memories of every single cruel or idiotic thing I've ever done or that's ever been done to me—which I think is how a lot of people's brains work. I think my stratagem for winter will be to use this blog to record more of the happy, quirky moments from my life and fewer rants about work and nutrition. Maybe that way I can have the best winter ever, too.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A slip, not a snap

I was going to check in to let you know if I'd snapped from trying to be 100% perfect in every way, but I'm not really sure. Does watching four episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on Sunday night (when I had intended to work) count as snapping? Or would you say that's just common sense taking over and telling me it's stupid to try to work on a Sunday night in the first place?

I just think it's funny that for an entire week I succeeded in avoiding all the ways I usually waste my time, only to succumb to four solid hours of lying on a couch wasting time in a completely new way.

Oh, well. Other than that, I've been productive, and I would say Typhoon Dopey is well on its way to being weathered. Whew.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Going strong

I was hoping to get the 1,100-page book that represents the first stage of Typhoon Dopey early yesterday, but instead I got an email saying there was going to be a delay. Noooooo! I was all geared up to workworkworkworkwork and had already made some very specific vows to myself regarding Facebook and other Internet time-wasting, so I did what any complete lunatic would do and spent the morning bouncing between vacuuming, cooking, checking my email, and cleaning out my closet.

(As a side note, do you know how many white turtlenecks I had in there? SEVEN. Do you know how many times I wore a white turtleneck last winter? ZERO. So one with holes got thrown away, the four worst-fitting ones got donated to charity, and the other two are back on hangers. Because who knows, maybe I'll go sledding next winter. Two days in a row.)

Anyway, having a clean closet feels great, and right after I finished it, the book did show up, so I've settled down and gotten tons of work done in the past day and a half. I'm surprisingly cheerful about it, too. Must be the perfect-living-in-every-way honeymoon period.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day One

M.H. and I are doing another Whole30 for the month of September, but don't expect me to yammer on about it much. That's because:

It's boring. The only change from the way I typically eat is that I won't be able to put cheese on things and will be sticking to tea without soy lethicin.

It's easy. I'm going to be so busy starting Tuesday that I doubt I'll even leave the house for a meal. Plus, M.H. will be doing 90% of the cooking.

I'm not sure if my heart's really in it. My main reason for wanting to do this is to see what happens when I eat a perfect Paleo diet excluding eggs. I do think that's worthwhile, and I do like the way I feel when my diet is very clean, but I'm worried. If I'm going to get all these books edited in the next few months without going insane, I'm going to have to have perfect work habits, perfect sleep habits, and make absolutely perfect use of every bit of spare time. And now I gotta have perfect eating habits, too? Am I just stupid?

I'll check back in in a week or so to let you know if I've snapped or not.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Storm warning

Starting Tuesday, a whole lot of work starts raining down on me, and the deluge doesn't stop until mid-December—at the earliest. I've gone through work hurricanes before, but this one has the potential to be a Category 5, so to speak, and I'm really feeling pressed to start boarding up windows and stockpiling nonperishables. So to speak.

But how do you prepare for something like this? Clean the bathrooms? Freeze a bunch of meals? Give the kids plenty of extra hugs and kisses? Probably none of those things would hurt. But I decided my top priority was to finally turn my second monitor into a standing work station and to finish the office redecoration I started a million years ago. After all, if I'm going to be living here for the next three to four months, I want it to be pleasant.

My dad had agreed to build me a platform for the extra monitor but had not gotten around to it yet. So I seized on a moment of weakness—he was grateful because we rescued him from car trouble twice in one day—and basically handed him all the pieces and stood there with him in his garage until he made it for me. I can't run a welder or a grinder or a metal cutter, but I'm great at bringing ice water and making conversation and moving stuff around, so I did what I could to help.

Once that was done (and done to perfection, naturally) I got some photos edited and printed and then filled a bunch of empty frames that had been stacked up in a corner. (M.H. was kind enough to hang them all for me, but only because he didn't trust me with a hammer, which is silly and yet sadly understandable.)

And now! It's so beautiful and pleasant in here that I am feeling strangely calm and capable in the face of the sequence of events that we can refer to as Typhoon Dopey, Hurricane Happy, and Tropical Storm Grumpy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This is how you know you have a keeper

I feel much better after a good night's sleep. I guess the clear conscience thing does help, after the righteous indignation has burned itself down a bit.

M.H. and I took an extra long walk last night, and he was still in full righteous indignation mode. He provided a beautifully argued monologue about why people should treat each other with decency and respect, and then laid out a brilliant case for how everything should have been handled by every party to avoid all the drama and illegal and immoral acts.

As we were approaching home, I was overwhelmed with appreciation and let out a deep, satisfied sigh. "This has been music to my ears," I said. "Tell me more things I agree with 100%."

Without the slightest pause, he turned to me and said, "You have wonderful taste in shoes."

Damn straight.

Monday, August 26, 2013

No good deed goes unpunished

I'm having a rough couple of days because of some crazy drama with—of all things—my kid's swim team. I really hate drama, but sometimes, even when you are keeping your head down and minding your own business, it finds you anyway.

I don't want to discuss the specifics of the drama here (nor do I want to discuss it in front of my kids, so don't ask me in front of them), but I will say that my son's swim coach, Lucy, once came to my aid when a jerkface tried to bully me out of the pool, and it's now my honor to try to return the favor.

Anyway, my part in all of this has been to send several polite yet insistent emails to various other human beings, which stresses me out to the point where I can't sleep. Which is stupid because I've examined my actions and words from every perspective I can think of, and my conscience is clear.

Any tips for standing up for what is right without collapsing under the emotional pressure?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Post-sleepover, end-of-summer introspection

I've been thinking that my wanting to return to the school-year routine is not a longing for routine so much as it is for a return to discipline. As a family, we were headed off the rails anyway with our diet and sleep and just general level of doing useful, productive things. But now, in the aftermath of Mik's Birthday Sleepover Celebration of Debauchery, we are completely off those rails and somewhere in the next state.

I mean, there are empty Sunkist cans all over my basement right now. Like, more of them than there are children in the house. (Of course, it's still better than last year.)

I've heard that September is the "new January," and to me it seems like an even better time to make all sorts of resolutions and New Life Plans. Instead of atoning for just a few weeks of terrible eating and general-throwing-of-every-good-intention-straight-out-the-window like you do on January 1, in September you've got to try to repair two to three months of it.

I know I need to chill and that a kid only turns 13 once (bye, childhood; sniff), but I'm just thankful that as a family of four, we have only four days per year when cake and ice cream are mandated by federal law. Actually just three, because I'm such a lawbreaking rebel, but if my birthday were at the end of summer instead of in early February, who knows what kind of heady, unrestrained craziness would happen?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Oregon Coast is TheBombDotMom

We were in Portland for my cousin's wedding this weekend, and I loved it all. Witnessing the beautiful ceremony and reception, visiting with my extended family, going to the zoo, hanging out downtown, chilling in our condo with a good book…and, okay, there were a few moments involving the rental car and the Garmin that I did not enjoy so much, but overall it was a fantastic trip. And this part was the guacamole on the taco salad:


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer hiking, Part IV: Crazy Creek Falls

This was maybe the most enjoyable trip yet, despite another distinct lack of hiking. But just look at the view from the top of the Beartooth Pass:

Now look at my clever son who made up a fun car game for the long drive. Rules: 1. Look straight out the front window through binoculars while someone else is driving on treacherous mountain roads. 2. Scream in hilarious terror. 

When we got to Crazy Creek, we nabbed a little campsite and then walked over to the falls, which are an amazing area less than 10 minutes off the road. The cascade was huge and cool, and there was no way to photograph the whole thing, but here are some pieces of it:


Before we left I posed the menfolk for their album cover:

We really weren't in the mood for a lot more hiking, and the prospect of a fire was calling our names, so we gathered up some driftwood, headed back to our campsite, and sat around all afternoon and into the night talking. It was awesome. And here is how Dex likes his s'mores: 

The plan was to stop on top of the mountain again in the dark on the way home and watch the Perseid meteor shower, but we were tragically foiled by clouds. Will have to try again someday. The end. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The joy of the 10-minute workout

Speaking of routines, I realized, too, that I've actually gotten a nice exercise rhythm going this summer, sort of by accident, simply by doing what I've felt like doing. I go to my favorite yoga classes on Friday and Sunday. I walk with M.H. just about every evening, or whenever we want a break from working. And on Tuesday and Thursday, when I haven't done anything hard for a few days but don't have a lot of time, I do a high-intensity 10-minute workout in my office.

At first I went looking online for these 10-minute-type workouts, but I realized that they're mostly all just a series of three or four exercises done over and over for the allotted time. So now I make them up, with occasional trips to the Internet for ideas, and it's a lot more fun. I just make sure I incorporate something for the upper body (like pushups), something for the lower body (lunges), something awkward (side plank leg raises), and something explosive (jumping jacks). There, I just wrote a new workout.* Creativity, but with an underlying structure.

* Except here's how I'd do it:
- One pushup
- Three side plank leg raises on the right side
- One pushup
- Three side plank leg raises on the left side
- Jump feet to hands and stand
- Five jumping jacks
- Ten forward lunges, alternating legs
- Jump feet back to plank position
- Repeat for 10 minutes

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Consider this a retraction

Not 24 hours after I posted my grievance about a lack of summertime routine, M.H. started pulling out laundry baskets and sorting clothes by color.

"I'm not sure how it happened," he remarked, "but laundry day seems to have slipped from Wednesday to Thursday."

"Um, oh," I replied. "You've been doing laundry every Thursday?"


Three-second pause for further reaction. "You probably shouldn't read my blog, then."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The point at which I stopped embracing summer

If you know me, you know that by this point of summer I am DYING for a return to the daily routine. I mean, I get up anywhere between 5:30 and 10. I've been working anywhere between zero and 16 hours a day. The kids, with no remaining sports practices or obligations of any kind, have gone feral. No one ever knows when or if laundry is going to be done. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner have all become unscheduled. Sometimes the whole family is in bed by 9:30; sometimes we're all in the kitchen foraging for food at midnight because we forgot to go to bed. Or eat dinner. It is chaos.

I have been going with the flow ("the flow" being three other family members who kind of like chaos) as best I can, but I'm over it now. Excuse me while I go make some kind of chart on how to fix this.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer hiking, Part III: Does this even count?

We were back in the mountains this weekend, walking around with my parents, my sister, and her three kids. The actual hiking, however, was pretty limited by this little guy:

And probably also this little guy:

Although I think this one might have been able to handle some hiking:

It was fun anyway. We walked around a teeny, tiny lake and then did a teeny, tiny walk up to a waterfall and then found a place to sit near a pretty stream and dipped our feet in. Dex found several huge boulders to climb, so he was happy:

Mik seemed to enjoy himself okay, but the kid's got a reputation now, so I couldn't resist getting this picture of him looking mopey:

The big fun for me, besides hanging out with the family, was playing with my camera:


Then my sister treated us to too much pizza in Red Lodge and we were home in time for M.H. and me to take a long evening walk. Hiking! The end.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Eggsperiment results

Tomorrow marks three weeks since I gave up eggs. Want to know how that little experiment went?

Well, so did I. I didn't really feel any different, and giving them up was slightly inconvenient, but not really horrible. Just kind of a no-big-deal all around. So I decided today that I'd actually try on those size 10 dresses purchased on eBay to see if there was any change on that front. (One of them I could not quite zip before this, and the other one I could barely zip.)

Whoa. As of now, one of them fits like a glove, and the other one fits like…a pretty loose glove.

I was supposed to "challenge" eggs again tomorrow (i.e., eat some and see how I react), but now I'm not sure it's worth it. In fact, I feel like being more diligent about keeping wheat and dairy out of my diet.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wrath of the spambots

Oh, dear. It turns out the formerly fawning spam commenters are actually reading my blog, and now I've angered them. Here are the two comments I got today:
I used to be able to find good information from
your blog articles.
Next time I read a blog, I hope it doesn't fail me as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I actually believed you would have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.
On the plus side, with some line breaks, the second one would be a rather nice addition to my robot poetry anthology. There's an important lesson in there for us all.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Spam comment poetry

I get a lot of spam comments on this blog, which I guess Blogger deletes from the posts themselves, but first I get to see them in my Feedly feed. They're usually pretty funny ("Your site appears to be like great") and always very complimentary ("Finally I've found something which helped me!"). I don't mind them much. At least, I don't mind them as much as I would mind forcing my commenters to prove that they're human all the time. Based on my own failure rate with those, I sometimes wonder if I myself am part robot.

Today I got this little beauty, broken up like this as if it were a poem.

Wow, this post
is nice, my sister is analyzing these kinds
of things, therefore I am
going to let know her.

Couldn't you just see me making a big anthology of short poetry, by robots, for robots? I could call it "Everyone Loves It When Individuals Get Together and Share Opinions." Don't steal that idea. I'm actually going to do it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Planning for next year

The whole family is still pumped up about racing and triathlons, so we've been talking about what we could do next year. Mik is gung-ho about doing the adult tri (a sprint), and I had said if he did I'd do it with him. But then I had a better idea: What if Mik does the tri individually, and the rest of the family does it as a relay—me on the swim, Dex on the bike, and M.H. on the run?

Mik, of course, loves the idea. He thinks he can take all three of us.

As for me, I'm committing right now to doing something at the Big Sky State Games next year. Either the swim meet, the triathlon, or both.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bragging on my other kid now

This started out as a triathlon blog, and if that's why you read it, then you'll appreciate that the next generation is picking up the slack.

Mik did the kids triathlon for the Big Sky State Games yesterday (150 meter swim, 2 mile bike, half-mile run). He'd been saying he was going to win it, and I believed him, but I did not realize just how MUCH he was going to win it.

First, some pictures:

Oh, just being interviewed for the local TV news.
I'm making him write a race report (partly because I'm such a mean mom, but partly because I get a crazy amount of joy from my own). But since I'm sure he won't let me share what he writes, here's how it went down:

Mik got second place in this race last year, which bugged him. So I did as much as I could this time around to give him every advantage. I dug out my race belt so he wouldn't have to bother wearing a shirt. I helped him experiment with slipping on and running in different shoes without socks. I had him practice transitions in the driveway. I talked his brother into lending him a bigger, better bike. I even shared my knowledge of how to do a fast swim start, how to sight in the water, how to get out of the water, transition tips, bike mounting tips…

The one thing I didn't bother discussing was pacing, because Mik basically just has two speeds: give up or give it all you've got (cough). His triathlon philosophy can be summed up as, "Get ahead and freaking stay ahead." He told the TV reporter as much, and you can hear that here

Anyway, he shot out in front so quickly that the spectators around me started saying, "Wow, look at THAT kid." Then he did a lightning-fast transition and disappeared for seven minutes while out on the bike course. Then he took off running like he was being chased (see During picture). He came in at 13:00.79, more than a full minute ahead of the next kid to cross the line, making his parents and other assembled relatives very proud (see After picture). 

And that's pretty much the race report, except that I have another before and after to show you. On the left is Mik at last year's triathlon, when he had been eating Paleo for two months and had already lost about 10 pounds. On the right is him after eating Paleo for 12 months more. Just sayin'. 

Last year
This year

Saturday, July 20, 2013

This is how you do summer

Dex is 15½, so it might not come as much of a surprise to you that he's getting really independent, but it sure does to me. If he weren't still required by Montana state law to have a parent in the car while he drives, he might not need us at all. He can cook his own meals, plan and execute his own social engagements, do his own laundry, handle pretty much any household task—not to mention take apart a computer and put it back together again, if that happens to need doing.

Most importantly to him, he's got all the gear and skills he needs to safely go rock climbing with a friend, and he that's just what he's done maybe half the days this summer. When he came home from another expedition at around 8 last night, he commented that his hands were really trashed. How, I wondered, could they not be toughened up by this point? Oh, he said, they were really tough. "But I've been out so much this week that I wore the callouses off, and now they're just…disintegrating."

Once again I'm a bit jealous of my firstborn, who's found a way to play outside in the sunshine all summer long until his hands disintegrate.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flawed eCard of the Day: Three choices?

See how this cleverly used the word "give" three times? It follows that it must be true that the only way to get through life is to get ripped by performing an hour of high-intensity training while being screamed at six days a week.

Or wait. Am I still allowed a rest day when I'm giving it all I've got? And if I choose to be a knitter instead of an athlete, am I allowed to just give knitting all I've got instead? What about parenting? What about work? Should I give all the things all I've got? Do I do it forever, or when I'm 80, can I decide that I've conquered my own body and life once and for all and finally give it a rest?

So many questions best not asked on my gym's super-irritating Facebook feed.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


I was planning to have a busy but satisfying workday, but it didn't pan out. It never pans out when the work is for Grumpy. Grumpy makes everything a million times more difficult and time-consuming and irritating than you would expect. It didn't get its blogging code name for nothing.

I would dearly love to give Grumpy the old heigh-ho, but Grumpy is also my largest source of income. When Prince Charming is thinking up doomsday scenarios under which he would have to stop writing full time and apply to work at Costco (it's always Costco in the doomsday scenarios), they generally begin with, "If something were to happen with Grumpy…"

So now I'm done working for Grumpy for the day but have not yet started on anything else (like a project for poor, neglected Bashful). It makes me grumpy. I was out of sorts yesterday, too, though, which makes me wonder if giving up eggs has anything to do with it. I think I heard somewhere that your body will rebel when you give up foods you're sensitive to, because you're also addicted to them, or something like that. Just work with me here. I'm not in any kind of mood to put a lot of effort into making sense.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A trial separation

Because I can never leave well enough alone, and because I listened to a podcast last week where this Paleo-type nutrition person made a pretty convincing case, I'm trying out giving up yet another food. (New Life Plan!) These were her seven foods to avoid:
  1. Corn
  2. Peanuts
  3. Gluten
  4. Soy
  5. Sugar and artificial sweetenrs
  6. Dairy
  7. Eggs
Since I already avoid the first six, the only new thing I'm giving up (for three weeks) is eggs. That's harder than it sounds, though, since I love eggs and had been eating maybe three or four a day on average. I don't think I actually have any of the symptoms the nutrition person cites, but she says she's found that 70 percent of people she works with are sensitive to eggs, usually without knowing it, and that giving them up for a few weeks makes them feel better and helps them "shed those last few stubborn pounds."

Well, that got my attention. Last few stubborn pounds? I would love to shed those last few stubborn pounds! Except of course I'm not weighing myself, so instead of pounds, I'll have to use a nonstandard unit, namely size 10 dresses purchased on eBay.

Size 10 dresses purchased on eBay? I would love to fit into those last few stubborn size 10 dresses purchased on eBay!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ode to softball

The church softball team played its last game this morning, and I'm a bit sorry to see the season end. I could feel myself getting more competent with each passing inning, and I even found a position (catcher, who knew?) where I felt like I was actually contributing something, rather than just standing out in the field being one of the five required women.

Granted, my primary contribution as the catcher was that I filled a position no one else really wanted, but I enjoyed getting to touch the ball every inning, I don't mind getting up and down all the time, and it fit my fielding skill set: throwing the ball back to the pitcher and practically nothing else.

Softball is all sprinting, jumping, and other explosive movements; it's great for hand-eye coordination; and in my case I got the added benefit of a whole bunch of squats. The perfect exercise, and a pretty fun game to boot.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Toward a more literary life

For maybe a year or two now, I've been writing a short review on Goodreads every time I finish a book. I sooo wish something like that site had existed when I was younger (also the Internet itself). I would love to have a record of every book I had ever read, along with my thoughts about it at the time. Wouldn't that—in utter seriousness—be an absolute treasure?

I explained all this to Dex and Mik, convinced that, based on the obvious wisdom of my advice, they would immediately open their own Goodreads accounts and start eagerly posting reviews. (And, you know, that they would start actually reading novels just for the fun of getting to write book reports about them.) Instead they just looked at me like I was ancient and insane and possibly speaking in tongues.

Oh, well. I'm sure they will find their own satisfying paths through life. Mine seems to be doing things and then writing about them. And since I enjoy book reviews, and work hard on the ones I write, I'm going to start recycling some of them from Goodreads to post on the blog as well. Not today, though. Maybe when I get busy with work and don't have time to either read or write, and they can remind me that there's more to life than quarterly earnings calls and technical documents on public transportation.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A watershed moment

Click to enlarge.

Legitimacy went up for sale on Amazon yesterday, and if that's not an excuse to celebrate, I don't know what is. M.H. has been thinking and talking about this book for at least eight years and actively writing it, on and off, for seven—dating from before we moved to Montana so that he could write full time. (It's basically the reason we moved to Montana so that he could write full time.) He's been working on Legitimacy for so long that he wrote two and a half other books between the time he started it and the time he finished it.

I've read Legitimacy at least six times. I've taken several hundred walks that were dominated by a discussion of its plot. I have near my desk a ream of paper with a 500,000-word first draft of Legitimacy printed on one side; I've been using it for years now to print Paleo recipes and my other nonsense on the blank side. I've even got my fingerprints in the book a little—a couple of nice phrases were my editing suggestions, and I came up with the name of the fictional company Zubotix™.

Oh, and of course there was the marriage- and sanity-testing blurb we collaborated on for the back cover, which might have been more trouble than the whole rest of the book combined.

When I started this post, I was planning to bring it around to some sort of "Legitimacy made me eat a ton of pizza last night and now I feel horrible" type thing, but you know what? All things considered, I'm feeling pretty darn good.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Free time and the Year Without Sugar

I'm on day four of being all caught up with work, and it's so…weird. There was probably a ton of stuff I could have done around the house, but instead I've finished four novels. Reading, not writing, obviously. M.H. is 100% on board with my crappy-romance-novel-writing plan, though, and he's already offered me three different plot outlines to use, all of them perfect. The man is a book-idea machine. This New Life Plan could totally work; I just need to learn how to actually write a novel and we're all set: I'll write for money, and he'll write for art. Art and money.

Sorry for the abrupt change of subject, but you know what is working beyond expectations? The Year Without Sugar plan. I admit I had to amend it to a Year Without Sugar on the Mainland, but it still keeps me out of all sorts of trouble. For example, I was at a Fourth of July gathering where one of the snacking options was a HUGE GLASS BOWL OF PEANUT M&Ms. Normally I would have been dipping into that thing from minute one and not stopped until I had literally made myself sick. But I had the rule, so I didn't have a single one, and it was just fine, no willpower required.

A Year Without Cheese, or a Year Without Grains, might be healthy, but it would be too much for me—because, hello, pizza. But it turns out I can actually handle myself around grains and dairy now without needing a rule, so why complicate things?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Magic bullet

I thought I'd update you on the progress of my New Life Plan, which, in summary, was to find out how to better feed my gut bacteria to keep them happy and to reduce inflammation. Here's what I did:
  1. I read that it might be good to add some resistant starch. 
  2. I bought some greenish bananas and started eating them.
  3. I felt a million times better and my clothes started feeling loose again.
  4. Problem solved. Ta-da!
Fresh from that success, I've been thinking that my New, Unrelated Life Plan should be to write crappy romance novels under a pseudonym and self-publish them as ebooks. (Not that I would try specifically to make them crappy, just that I'd be churning out one every six months or so and that by their very nature they wouldn't exactly be literature.) I've been studying the ebook best-seller lists on Amazon recently, and it's truly mind-boggling how many of them are crappy romance novels. I guess it makes sense, though. The beauty of a Kindle is that you can read that kind of stuff on a subway without suffering the shame and stigma of a way embarrassing book cover.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Hiking, Part II: Blue Lake trail

I know we just went hiking, but I saw a window of opportunity, and since this summer looks to just keep getting busier, we went for it. The plan was to hike in the Crazy Mountains from the Half Moon trailhead to Blue Lake and then back down again (about eight miles round trip) in time to catch a Shakespeare in the Park performance of Henry V in Bridger. That did not pan out entirely, and here's why:

My buddy Mik is not a fan of hiking. In this photo, we've hiked just a short distance and found ourselves at a beautiful stream cascading down a rock formation. He climbed up a big boulder and sat down overlooking the white water. See that expression of contentment and wonder? Me neither. 

It was slow going, but in the end, we got the kid up the mountain and back. NOT in time for Shakespeare—not even close—but this is one of the most gorgeous hikes I've ever been on, and I didn't mind the extra time to savor it. Plus, Mik is great company even when he's not exactly in his element.

When we got to our destination, Mik did this…

…and fell instantly asleep. Meanwhile, I took more pictures:

Getting back down was a piece of cake, and we were treated to a view of the Crazies at dusk as we left. Awesome day. The end.