What’s To Eat

Dinner for the next two weeks:

1. Quick curried beef and broccoli

2. Spaghetti squash with parsley walnut pesto only I am going to use basil since I am only eh about parsley, grilled chicken sausage of some kind

3. Chicken in cherry marsala sauce, gf noodles, salad

4. coconut ginger curry with vegetables and halibut

5. grilled polenta and balsamic mushrooms, arugula, tomato soup ?

6. tilapia with quinoa and black beans

7. winter salad, butternut squash soup

8. sweet and sour chicken

9. fruit and vegetable salad, tofu satay

10. curried chicken salad with spiced chickpeas and raita

11. bacon arugula and shrimp salad

12. clementine jicama salad, vegetable soup

13. split pea soup

14. home made gf pizza, take four, crispy lettuce with home made ranch

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Deficits

You’re going to have to pardonnez moi, because I’m sorry, but I need to complain a little bit, and by complain a  little bit I mean complain a lot, obviously.

I feel distinctly foggy these days and I have no idea if it’s because of the double dose of Zol*ft I am taking or if it’s because I am incurring a serious sleep deficit over here, but either way, guessing whether my brain is filled with cobwebs because of drugs or a raging toddler isn’t really my favorite way to spend my time.

Have I mentioned that Eli isn’t sleeping through the night anymore?  We did finally get him to go down for the night at 8 instead of 11 by letting him cry it out for a few nights (GOOD LARD HOW THAT SUCKED), but now he wakes up somewhere between 11 and 4 EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and he’s inconsolable unless he gets to come sleep in between us.  I spend every night shoved over as far as a person can go without falling off the bed, being kicked in the head or the kidney or sometimes both at once! Fun times!

I can’t help but feel like we haven’t made any progress at all with this kid.  I know he has the cold from hell, but he’s 23 months old and he still has to be held all the time, and he still isn’t sleeping through the night, and he still doesn’t really eat when he should, and what the hell are we doing wrong?  I have no idea, but I just really need him to sleep.  Forget summer in Paris or unlimited J. Crew shopping sprees, I dream of eight hours of non face kicking uninterrupted sleep.

And let’s talk about money. Yep, I’m going to go there, and perhaps you’ll feel that I shouldn’t be airing all my dirty financial laundry on the internet for the whole world to read, but I’ve already talked about my mental instability at length in this very forum so maybe you should just be glad I’m not talking  about my sex life and move on.

Anyway. It’s all well and good to toss off flippant statements about how no one I know has been affected by this ass crap economy, but it’s a whole other matter when someone I know IS affected by the economy and that someone is ME.  Despite the fact that Mr. E is at the height of handsomeness, brilliance, and scientific nerdiness, he’s only had his current job for a few months, and California has no money and he’s at the bottom of the totem pole.   He’s either going to get furloughed along with the rest of the state workers, which means he’ll have to take two unpaid days off every month, or people are going to start getting laid off, and while he may not be one of the first, you just never know.

And need I remind you that we just bought a house? A house I would very much like to not foreclose on?

We can make the furloughs work, but just barely, and we won’t be able to pay off any of our debt or do any work on our house.  Both of these things are things we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time, and every month we’ve been paying off a huge loan from Mr. E’s days as a profligate grad student with our eyes towards this future prize – paying off our credit card debt and socking money into our house so eventually we can live somewhere without a bathroom the size of a postage stamp.

Naturally, we’ll pay off this huge loan the  same month the furloughs start. A blessing in disguise, I suppose, and I am trying to look on the bright side, oh, I am, but it still feels like a big slap in the face.  One step forward, two steps back.

I know I am complaining about things that are partially the results of choices we’ve made. Good and bad choices, but still, choices we’ve made.  But I can’t help it, I find all this financial stuff nauseatingly stressful.  Everything I read about depression and anxiety disorder makes sure to mention that financial stress is one of the top triggers, which is so totally unhelpful, because if I knew how to get rid of financial stress, I certainly would, but other than a pile of money arriving in a wheelbarrow from the makers of UnCrazy Medication Number Four, I’m not sure what the magic answer to that problem is.

And even more fun, the State of California just isn’t paying state tax refund checks right now.  Excellent! Remind me of of that tactic next time I owe someone some money. I just won’t pay it! I’ll send the cable company an IOU! What a good plan!

Let’s not even talk about my diet.

Sigh.

Rambling About Parenting

The hardy Finnish constitution we know and love has let us down for the first time in history and Mr. E and Pants have been sick, and while in my best dreams I look fetching in a nurses hat while I go all Florence Nightingale and suffer the indignities of motherhood in silence, in reality I am unable to make it through any of life’s tribulations without copious amounts of complaining and pudding stained yoga pants, and this motherhood gig isn’t turning out to be any sort of glamourous event, I can tell you that much.

However.  At the risk of getting all Pollyannish on your ass, I think my favorite thing about being a mom is that is has freed me from any sort of perfectionistic idyllic view of the other side – before I had Pants I thought fondly of tiny onesies and JFK Jr. as a two year old and snuggling on Sunday mornings, and to be a mom is to be blessed with the realization that  although some one has been kicking me in the head all night and that to leave the house takes an hour and forty five minutes no matter and that I can’t ever go to the bathroom by myself and that my house is never really clean and that my pants are  always be covered with pudding and yet through it all, to want to be nowhere else but here, to be overwhelmed and tired and with a laundry list of complaints and also to not want to change any little piece of it, to feel as though I am right where I should be, that life would be so boring any other way.

Before you are a parent, you know that being a parent will be difficult, but you do not know how hard. You cannot guess at the way that the day in and day out difficulty, the never ending ness of it all, will wear you down. I know I said things like “there will be days when I know I will have spit up in my hair and the dog will have peed on my floor and the baby will be screaming and on that day, so sue me, we might watch some tv” but what I did not know was that that day is EVERY SINGLE DAY, and it never ends and there is no break, and what I ask is not that we try to solve that, but that we understand that.  That we understand that it is incredibly, never endingly difficult to be a parent, and that the vast majority of us are doing the best that we can.  We bring these children into the world and then when it’s harder than we ever imagined possible, we all do some things to make our lives easier.  The things we choose to do are different, and some of us have it harder than others, or make different choices.  And so some of us co sleep, or feed our children Benadryl on the plane, or buy $200 dollar car seats or $50 Heartbeet Bears,  or let our children play by themselves while we mop our kitchen floor, and some of us don’t, and that’s just how it is.  It’s not what makes us good or bad people.  It’s just what we do to get by, as best we can.

This is a 3 am confession to let you know what a terrible person I am, but I used to poke that sore spot in my brain all the time, as I laid awake, wondering where my mother obligated sense of self sacrifice had gone to.  Doubting that I would throw myself in front of a speeding car to save my child.  I will admit that I was never really too sure what I would choose, in the moment – I’m a selfish rotten person and I just wasn’t sure.

It’s a silly thing, absolutely, but for some reason going gluten free for Senor Pants has clarified all of that for me.   Before I had Pants I often thought about trying to cut wheat and such out of my diet, but it never seemed worth the trouble.  Once he was here and we thought that eliminating gluten might help him grow, all of a sudden, it seemed like no trouble at all.  I sometimes miss pizza and oh, a beer at the end of the day is a nice thing to have, I won’t lie, and I do know that in the grand shcheme of things not eating wheat is  a small small thing to do for a child, but I look at the nineteen bags of rice flour in my pantry and I look at my son and I think “Yep.  I know now.  There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for you.”

Share the Good News

Some good stuff going on right now.

I have done my three mile walk every day for aproximately two weeks, so obviously I rule.

The Zol*ft seems to be working, although it’s kind of bizarre – I’m in a much better mood than I was, even on the Lex@pro, but my anxiety is nowhere near as reduced as it was.  So I’ll have to figure that out still.

We pried up a floorboard this weekend and took it to some floor people to see what our hopes were for refinishing our floors, and they told us that it absolutely can be refinished, and it’s either red oak or white oak, so that’s cool, especially since the only new floors I liked at the flooring place – well, let’s just it would be cheaper to floor my house in gold leaf.

My sister is almost done with her three week trial period at the new place we found for her and she loves it, she called my mom and said “Mom, I love it here. Send my stuff.” Cue huge sigh of relief.  Now there is some kind of evaluation period which means she has to leave for a stretch and she is coming to visit me, which I am tres excited about.  First visit from her ever, since I have moved away from home! I can’t wait.

My in laws are coming for a visit and my best friend is coming for a barbeque on Saturday and Mr. E had Monday off and is also taking Friday off and we have a new president who is for sure actually smarter than I am and I am thrilled with my concept for remaking my side yard and I picked out some lovely crushed rock and we hung some pictures and I got Mr. E to agree to let me buy rain chains instead of gutters and I have always dreamed of rain chains, and it was seventy five degrees here on Monday and we have a new christmas present hammock big enough for two and as I lay on it on a lazy Monday afternoon gazing at nothing but blue sky I experienced a moment of total and complete happiness and sometimes that’s all you can really ask for in this life.

Today’s a good day, is what I’m sayin’.  Finally, finally, a good day.

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

Very late for a round up of the year post of any kind, I know.  And some of these things aren’t even from 2008.  So sue me.  Here are a few of my favorite things from last year, this year, whatever.

1. Favorite movie.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “The Orphanage“.  Now, keep in mind, I hate all movies, mostly. I walked out of There Will Be Blood.  I haven’t seen No Country for Old Men and I am more interested in seeing Of Time and the City than I am in seeing Twilight, but The Orphanage just really did it for me.  It was scary and sad and creepy and lovely, all at the same time.

2. Favorite book.  Hands down, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I checked it out from the library and now I have to buy my own copy so I can read it again and again.  There were a lot of other books that I enjoyed this year, but this is the only one that restored my faith in humanity.  Runner Up:  So Brave, Young, and Handsome was a more difficult read, but was also pretty great.  And I am currently reading American Wife, and damn, that Curtis Sittenfeld is a good writer.

3. Favorite TV Show:  Hmmm. This year Top Chef is full of people making the kind of food I can make at home (watermelon salad, really? ) which is disappointing.  Gossip Girl isn’t as fun as it used to be, especially because Loathsome Dan has been joined by Loathsome Boy Whose Name I Can’t Even Be Bothered to Remember but is who Dating Sabrina and Is the Most Annoying TV Character I Can Remember Since the Days of Dawson and That is Really Saying Something.  Lipstick Jungle tires me with its contrived plots and tottering weird old Andrew McCarthy makes me depressed and also grosses me out, and I don’t watch Mad Men so I have no idea what’s up with all the hype but fine, I just put it on my Netflix cue so I will give Season One another chance, and I’m going to just have to go ahead and pick Battlestar Galactica here because despite what you may believe it is really nothing more than a giant love story and I am sucker for the mushy stuff especially when it also involves girls! kicking! ass!

4.  Favorite thing I bought this year:  Is it cheating to say my house?  My house followed by my flowery duvet cover and all the overpriced bed linens I put into making my bedroom a place I love instead of a place I want to close the door on and leave behind.  Oh,  no, actually, my favorite thing I bought this year, BY A MILE, is my dishwasher.  God, I love that crazy machine.

5. Favorite Sports Team You Didn’t Know I Was a Huge Fan Of:  Everyone is surprised to find out I love basketball, but what can I say? A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.  This is the year that I fell back in love with my beloved Portland Trailblazers, that I started subscribing to a Blazers blog so I could follow the Darius Miles saga obsessively, that I started texting my brother “Rip City” three times a week, the year we lost Our Beloved OO and that Terry Porter had his jersey retired and that Brandon Roy played a career high game and I watched it, and this is the year that I discovered that Eli loves basketball almost as much as I do.  And on Christmas day my brother and I and my sister and Eli and Mr. E and my step sister sat and watched the Blazer game when it came on and it was probably the most fun thing we did that whole weekend. My sister announced right off the bat that she was not a fan, but that she would root for the Blazers, just to be nice, and then she followed the game more closely than I did, cheering and rooting and shouting “defense” like her life depended on it.  Awesome.

6. My Favorite Blog Posts of the Year:

This one, or this one, or this one.  Oh, and this one that Tricia just wrote.  And a million more that I forgot to bookmark and I promise to remedy that next year.

7.  My Favorite Thing I Made:  This is my second favorite thing I’ve ever made, (hee), ever.  Still love it, six months later.

8.  My Favorite Thing I cooked:  Either this chicken (I used rice cakes to make the bread crumbs), this beef stroganoff (serve over gf noodles) with garlic green beans and cranberry sauce on the side, this caramel sauce, or this gluten free lemon cake.  Also, these meatballs (made with turkey) are insanely good. Oh, no, I think it was Thanksgiving dinner. That brined turkey was so insanely good and the day was so mellow and fun, I kind of wanted to do it all over again as soon as it was over.

9.  My favorite christmas gift:  Probably the Orla Kiely wallet my brother gave me, although I was also pretty thrilled to get this book.

10.  Favorite guilty pleasure:  If you’re not listening to Mark Kermode’s BBC movie reviews (I subscribe to the podcast), you’re missing out.  God, I love that man.  So bitchy, so pompous! So sure of his own opinion! So very much like me! LOVE HIM.

Fitting In

When I was a little baby, people would stop my mother on the street and tell her I was too small, that there was something wrong with me, and I just assumed that 32 years was so very long ago that they didn’t even have weight charts, for babies, but my mother scoffed at this notion during our recent conversation, scoffed in that way that only your mother can scoff, and it turns out that they did have charts  – and on the charts I was always in the 5th percentile, every single time.  I wasn’t sick, there was nothing wrong me. I was just a very small bean.

I heard all the time, growing up, about how skinny and small I was.  In my second grade picture there are the usual height differentials, and then it’s a long stair step down to me , the absolute tiniest second grader in the picture.

In the fifth grade, we moved up to the third floor at school with the rest of the big kids.  The big kids wore skirts and blouses instead of jumpers, except for me.  My skirt required straps, to stay up, and people were always telling me I was on the wrong floor, even though I was a fifth grader.  But these things pretty much rolled off me.  I didn’t really care.  The fact of the matter was that I was just small.

And then I  hit puberty, and all of a sudden all the things I could eat – the six ice cream bars at once, the Costco sized bags of chips, the endless cups of ramen  – all of this started to take a toll.  I was far from fat, but I felt disgusting.  Overnight I had changed from a tiny little slip of a thing into someone with hips and a booty and from that moment on, I felt fat.

I didn’t have anyone to  help me figure out what things looked good on me, to point me away from the red glasses or the baggy sweaters or the flat shoes or the shirts tucked into pleated shorts.  My mother just isn’t that kind of mom.  I had to figure it all out on my own – how to pluck my eyebrows, how to walk in heels (still working on that one), not to wear flowered pants.

Transferring high schools and moving half way across the country was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I went from a small private all girls school on the west coast, a school where half the time we wore our pajama pants to class and we had a condom lady and we had open campus and we worked at a homeless shelter and we all competed to see who could outsmart each other – I went from all of that to a school in the midwest where the girls wore the uniform skirt as short as it could legally go and never raised their hands in class, where the boys called me Einstein, and not in a nice way, where I didn’t know anyone and I wore the wrong shirt to school for the first week, and I felt lonely and afraid and sick and confused. And fat. Most of all,I felt fat.

I am not sure when I decided to stop eating, but I can tell you that it was a highly effective diet.  When I left for college I weighed 95 pounds, but by the time I came home I had been eating three meals a day again instead of nothing, and I gained a bit more than the freshman fifteen, probably about twenty five pounds, and for me anything over a size 6 felt like failure, total failure, and I was right back to feeling fat, every minute of every day.

And then I moved to Ann Arbor, moved in with Mr. E, and got a job and sat behind a desk every day for the first time, and that’s when I first really started to eat, and I gained weight with a rapid fire force, so fast I didn’t realize what was happening, and when it seemed like that was just the way the world worked I gave away the pants that didn’t fit anymore and continued right on sitting next to Mr. E on the couch and eating Doritos as fast as I could.

One day I couldn’t wear the biggest size jeans they sold at Old Navy.  I sat in the bathroom in my office building and thought about the number I’d seen on the scale that morning, how I was wearing Mr. E’s extra large sweaters to work, and I decided, right then and there, that something had to give.

I joined Weight Watchers and I very slowly started to exercise, I started with Pilates and yoga and the weight started to come off, and it took me forever, just forever, we moved to Nebraska and I gained some weight back but I had a best friend who listened to all of my boring weight loss stories, and I had a running path that snaked for thirty miles behind my house, and I had money to buy running shoes and fast songs on my IPOD and I had a room in my house just for my treadmill and my tv and I’d run, every night, never missing a day, I’d run for hours, I had all the time in the world, time just stretched out  before me.  I ran two half marathons and I had some great runs and I rewound Nike commercials and I felt like, for the first time in ever, I was an athlete.

And I worked and worked and worked and the day I got pregnant I weighed 124 pounds. Five pounds short of my goal, fifty five pounds lighter than that day I sat in the bathroom and decided to change.

We moved to California and I got pregnant and I got sick and I lost nine pounds, that first trimester.  The pictures of me pregnant are ridiculous, when you realize that I was already moaning on about how fat I was.

I was sick as hell the entire time I was pregnant, but I still gained twenty five pounds.  I couldn’t run, and I didn’t really want to.  Whenever I made myself,  I’d have terrible side aches or round ligament pain or feel intense shortness of breath, so I stopped, cold turkey, and my runner’s legs turned flabby beneath and me and I got sicker and sicker and forgot what it was like to want to eat – I had a bag of Dove chocolate in the refrigerator the day I got pregnant, and it stayed there for nine months, if that gives you any idea what it was like to be the pregnant sick as a dog me.

The week after Eli was born, I lost 22 pounds, and he only weighed five.  I couldn’t zip my size 4 jeans up, but I could pull them on all the way.  My mom said “you look so skinny” when I walked out of the bedroom in the morning.  I couldn’t believe what it was like to watch myself shrink before my own eyes.

And then I started to eat.  Breastfeeding ignited a hunger in me – I have never felt such a thing.  Staring down the barrel of that hunger that threatened to devour me, after nine months of wanting nothing to do with anything edible, ever,  I could not put the doughnuts down. I mainlined King Size Snickers as a snack.  I ate and ate and ate, and I gained back all of those 22 pounds and then some.

And sure, I fought. I tried running, tried squeezing it in wherever I could.  And when it was hard, or when I couldn’t find the time, or my sports bras didn’t fit, or I didn’t like having a treadmill in my living room or my ankle hurt or I forgot to record my points or I was hungry or I felt sad and chocolate chip cookie dough was the only thing that helped, all those times, I blamed myself.  When it was too hot to run and I had to get up at six am and run ten miles, and I didn’t want to get up at six am and run ten miles, I blamed myself.  When I didn’t want to push a baby through a neighborhood that scared me, when I didn’t want to run the three mile loop past people sitting in parked cars with darkened windows, I blamed myself.  When couldn’t get my weight to go below 143, when I had to buy new shorts, when I trained for a  half marathon and never ever ever ever had a good run and couldn’t stop going to the bathroom and had to stop every mile to walk and when I finished in 2 and half hours instead of the under two hours I wanted,  I blamed myself.

And then when we moved and I still couldn’t find the time – in between counting points and trying to cook healthy, cheap, gluten free meals every damn night and trying to be a mom and run a side business and return email and get some sleep and not have a mental breakdown, when I still couldn’t drag myself out of bed to run in the early morning or drag myself off the couch to run in the dark, I blamed myself.

My whole life is different now, and I haven’t been able to shoe horn all of the things from my old life right smack into the middle of the new one and I blamed myself for not trying to cram it all in just a little bit harder.

And yet. My whole life is different now.

I do not have 35 miles of paths running behind my house.  It is never the right temperature. I don’t have a room with a treadmill and cable. I have a toddler.  I have a food allergy.  I have a really small living room and I can’t afford new sports bras and I don’t have three hours on Saturday morning to go for a long run.

And so, we walk.

Every day, I put Eli n the jogging stroller and I walk for three miles.

I don’t change into special clothes. I don’t need a sports bra, or a chunk of kid free time. It doesn’t really matter when we go, and the weather isn’t that important.  We don’t need to map out lengthy routes and I don’t have to take a shower afterwards. I don’t have to do it when I’d like to be doing something else.

I may eventually start running again.  I might lose thirty pounds and decide I want to lose ten more, or ten less. I might decide that I’m never eating another Lean Cuisine for the rest of my life, or that I’m eating nothing but.

I only know that I am done beating my head against the wall, trying to make things fit when they won’t, and then blaming myself when it doesn’t work.  Things change.  My life is different now.  And I am doing what I can.

And so, we walk.  And somehow, amazingly, that feels like progress.

There’s Always Next Year

Thank you so much to everyone for all of your emails and thoughts and comments.

I’m hanging in there, just waiting to see how things go.

I didn’t make any official New Year’s Resolutions this year.  I have nothing against them and have made them in the past but this year sheer laziness and general lethargy won over and I just didn’t get around to it.

But have this thing I do all the time – every morning I make a huge “To Do” list and I start off writing down normal things I need to get done that day, things like “laundry” and “make dinner”, but then EVERY SINGLE TIME the power of the list overcomes me and pretty soon I’m throwing “cure cancer” and “write book series about teen vampires without getting sued” on the list and then of course it’s all too overwhelming and none of the shit on the list gets done.

The weird thing is that if I make a list with one thing on it? It always gets done.  I finish “empty dishwasher” or whatever and cross that off, and then I add something else do able to the list and by the end of the day I usually have a list of about 12 things, all crossed off, all finished.  And them somehow I’ll wake up the next morning and completely forget that I have a working system and then we’re right back to not curing cancer and not writing teen vampire novels and not doing laundry.

But I am learning!  I swear I am.  And this year I only have one thing on my “get it done already and then we’ll move on” list and that thing is to lose 35 pounds by the end of May, because at this point I weigh more than I did when I had my son and it’s time to change that.

I would also like to get off the crazy train at a different stop and refinish my floors and put new doors on the house and write a book and make my bed every day and quit dressing like a scrub and buy a living room rug and pluck my eyebrows and stop biting my nails and learn to make gluten free pizza crust that doesn’t make the baby Jesus cry, but NO! Like I said, we’re taking it one thing at a time over here.

This might seem obvious, but losing weight not only takes a bit of an effort, it takes a lot of time.  Time to shop for veggies and meal plan and make a healthy lunch and exercise.  I am really working on spending more time on me, more time with my son, more time eating good food, and more time moving my ass, so I think I am going to be  spending less time on the computer.

Really, this is just a very long winded way to say if I’m not writing as much, I promise, it’s not because I have sunk into a pit of despair, it’ s because I’m working on me, and I can’t do that on the internet.

So  – here’s to not writing any books about teen vampires this year.