Sunday, June 24, 2012

Baby Brain is Real

I just read a facebook post by a good friend who recently had a baby.  She was lamenting the fact that she couldn't organize her thoughts enough to write anything.  It brought back a memory from when I had my first.


I actually went to a neurologist a few months after Allie was born because I thought I was losing brain function or suffering some kind of tumor or something. My husband was telling me about entire conversations we had, of which I had literally no memory.  

The neurologist saw the spit-up on my shoulder and asked if I had a baby. I nodded, and she burst into peals of un-doctorlike laughter, and said I didn't need a brain scan. I just needed a couple nights of uninterrupted sleep, and a WHOLE LOT LESS of the baby-feeding hormones. 
 
Baby mush brain is not a medical diagnosis, but it sure is real.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Journey From Sloth and Despair: June Edition

You may recall that I have been working towards health and well-being through clean eating.  No?  Here are some links for you to peruse:

Journey from sloth and despair: the beginning
January sloth and despair
More of the Journey

Anyway.  I spent a good month cleaning up my act this spring.  I eliminated ALL fast food (ok - nearly all), just about all processed food (boxed, bagged, prepared, colored, canned, jarred, etc.), all simple carbs. (potatoes, pasta, bread), and even grains/legumes (oats, rice, beans, wheat, etc.).  Also no alcohol or sodas (ok -- I did have the occasional Diet Pepsi.  I'm no angel.).

I ate (nearly) solely fresh meat and fish (lean beef, chicken, turkey, seafood), and low-carb veggies and fruit for over a month.  Why?  Because I needed to break my attachment to food.  I needed to see what my body was like without chemicals and junk in it.

It was SUPER difficult for the first several days.  I went to bed dreaming of cake and wine and mac 'n' cheeze.  I woke, craving cereal and donuts and danishes.

BUT: things I started noticing:
  • My stomach was happier.  It was peaceful (if you know what I mean)
  • My skin was GREAT (with all the water I was consuming)
  • I would wake,and feel less muzzy and fuzzy and gross
  • My allergies improved (could be that the atmospheric allergens decreased, though)
  • I started to really LOVE fish (tilapia and salmon are lovely!)
  • Fruit became a delicious dessert, especially strawberries
  • I totally stopped craving fast food and high-fat snacks
  • Diet Pepsi became a treat (one glass, with ice) rather than sustenance
After about a month of this, I decided it was time to start adding back a greater amount of foods.  I added more proteins, fats, and fruits/veggies.  Also alcohol in small amounts.

Things I noticed:
  • My body likes pure meats better than processed (sausage, bacon, lunch meats).  I know this because I had a few stomach aches AND I'd feel kind of grody after eating a salad with chopped lunchmeat and bacon
  • Avocados are WONDERFUL, no matter how high-fat
  • Cherries are good for me
  • Diet Pepsi is still not that great for me.  I feel weirdly chemical-ish after drinking much of it
  • Alcohol now gives me a gross feeling the next day.  Even just one glass.  Sigh.  
  • Real cream (whipped, with just a tiny bit of sugar) is terrific on berries as a dessert.  Just a bit.  And I don't care if it IS high-fat.  It's deelish.  And doesn't make me feel gross like CoolWhip does.  My mouth doesn't feel all slimy afterwards.
  • Whole, raw almonds are a fantastic snack.
  • My body NEEDS lots of water. No matter what.
  • Triscuits are grossly slimy feeling, and Pringles?  EW.
My next step will be adding back grains, legumes, and so on.

This has been amazingly enlightening. 

Some questions I had:
  • Is it more expensive to eat "whole-ish-ly"?  Not that I've noticed.  Pre-packaged foods are fairly expensive, and fast food is too.  I buy a bag of frozen tilapia fillets ($9/12 of them), a bag of frozen turkey patties ($8/12 patties) (just ground turkey, pre-portioned), and lots of veggies/fruit, and maybe a buy one get one free steak, and I'm set for the week.  I buy almonds on sale, and lemons/limes by the bag.  
  • Is it hard to dine out at restaurants?  Well, kind of.  Depending on where you go.  We went to an amusement park, and UGH.  But I did find a restaurant that had a big salad.  However, the protein available was chicken strips (breaded).  But still, could have been worse.  At most restaurants (not crappy ones) I can order grilled protein (chicken, steak, fish) with veggies.  I just ask for no butter or sauce.  I ignore the breadbasket, and request no croutons/bread/junk on the plate.  Mexican places are excellent, because I can order fajitas with no tortillas (with extra lettuce), and make a fabulous salad.  I even have some guacamole.  No margaritas, though.
  • Do I end up cooking twice to accommodate my family?  Sometimes.  But mostly, I just make them additional sides (potatoes, pasta, breads), and they eat my healthy stuff PLUS the other stuff.  
  • Do I feel like I'm obsessing about food?  Kind of.  But I realized that I already was focused on food.  "Can I get away with eating pizza?" and "what will I make for dinner" and "what kind of martini" and so on.  Now, it's just the opposite direction.  "How can I make this a clean meal?" or "Will they be able to make this without breading?" and so on.
I'm indulging in small amounts of full-fat sour cream, butter, and olive oil.  I'm learning that veggies are NOT supposed to be just vehicles for dressings and cheeses and sauces.

I don't want to be all religious about this.  All fanatical.  But something needed to happen.  I needed to clean up my act.  I've done it!  I have no illusions.  I"m going to eat pizza again.  I'm going to eat cake and drink wine.  I love tortillas and bread.  I do.  But ... I really needed a re-set.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Judge People


Yesterday, my little family and I went to an amusement park/water park.  As I stood there, waiting for the kids to get off of a (shudder) spinning ride, I observed a woman and her husband/boyfriend/whatever who were cooling off in the shade near me. 

  She was extremely obese, and he had a tail.  You know -- where the hair is short all over, except that spot at the back?  And he was being affectionate to her, and she was laughing.  My horrid, horrid thoughts included such doozies as: "Ew. a TAIL.  What a redneck," and "Wow.  Wonder how she got that fat!"  I was appalled at my own brain.

SMACK.  I have NO RIGHT to judge.  No right whatsoever.  And yet, judge I did.  I made assumptions, and not nice ones.  So I challenged myself.

Every time I noticed myself getting preconceived notions about someone, I would force myself to try to assume the exact opposite.

Many, many men that day were (according to me) poets, ballet dancers, historians, scholars, yoga aficionados, authors, dressmakers, and etiquette specialists.  Many women were nuns, physics majors, athletes, fitness trainers, seamstresses, diction coaches, and holistic farmers.

This was one of the most enlightening days I have spent in recent memory.  It forced me to see how unjust my thoughts can be.  And it taught me that people are rarely what they first appear to be.

Including me.

Summer Kickoff

Yesterday, my hubs and I took Kid1, Kid2, and Kid1's BFF to an amusement park/water park. 

It was EXHAUSTING.  It was hot.  It was expensive. 

It was fun!

But the important thing to remember:  always ALWAYS bring the kids' friends.  I need to make sure we have a buddy for Kid2 next time.  It's SO much easier!  They chatter to each other all day long.  They share fries.  They giggle over melting ice cream.  They clutch their stomachs after roller coaster rides. 

I will happily be the pack mule on each and every trip to the amusement park from now on.  I rode SOME of the coasters, SOME of the water slides, SOME of the time in the wave pool.  But it wasn't vital that I was there the entire time.  And that, parent friends, is the key.  I stayed behind them, giving them enough space to feel all independent and daring, but being close enough to stop them from doing anything truly awful.

(Except for that ONE TIME I told them to meet us back at the bridge after we (the adults) went on the "Lazy River" ride and they (the kids) went on the tall, tall waterslide with tubes.  And they didn't see us right away, therefore they started wandering around in a panic.  And then they found us. With the help of a security guard. Sigh.)

But really.  It was good.  And I suspect I FINALLY put enough sunscreen on the kids and myself (and did it often enough) that I have not done their future wrinkles any help.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gosselin DOES NOT Equal Gosling

Can I just confess something?

You know those "Hey, Girl" Ryan Gosling things?  Until fairly recently, I had heard about them and read the captions, but thought... (oh my.  Why am I telling you this?) 
(Because I'm the girl who did not realize that the "NOT-zees" were the "Nazis," and that the "Nazis" were neither  pronounced "NAAH-ZEI" nor were they a Native American tribe related to the Anasazi.)

Ok.  I thought that it was Jon Gosselin.  And I was utterly confused. 

But now I know.  And here is my thought:  we could start an entirely new meme.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Ryan Gosling thing

In honor of There's No Time For Pants (a blog I like), I'm making her a special "I'm peeved" Ryan Gosling thingy.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Allieism: Being Stupid

I was discussing an upcoming camping trip with Allison (aged 11), and she was reading the campground rules. 

Allie:  "Mom, it says here that no alcohol is allowed!  You can't bring any wine!"

Me:  "Honey, that's kind of ... an excuse kind of rule.  That means that the owners have legal recourse and can kick people out of the campground if the campers are getting all drunk and stupid."

Allie:  "Well, if they drink THAT much, they're probably pretty stupid already."

Me:  "...... BAHAHAAAAAAAHAAAAAA!"


Simonism: Muscle Strength Test

Simon got in trouble yesterday because he was "repeatedly licking the back of his chair." 
Upon further investigating, I found that he had read that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body, and he was trying to push his chair in with his tongue -- "to test the tensile strength of the tongue muscle."
3rd grade is still full of surprises, it seems.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Simonism: ThunderCake

This evening, just as I was tucking the kids into bed, a thunderstorm was rolling in. 

I was in Simon's room, closing the window and the curtains, then I went to kiss him goodnight.  After the smooch, he urgently held up a hand to detain me.

Simon:  "MAMA!  WaitWaitWAIT!  There's a special kind of CAKE!  You can only make it when it's storming.  It's called "ThunderCake!"  You should make that.  Now."


Yes or No?



It has come to my attention that a teacher at my kids' school refuses to allow the kids to say "No" in her classroom.

 How do I know this?  Tonight's dinner is an excellent example.

Me:  Would you like some more mashed potatoes?
Kid1: Probably not.
MeWhat?  Yes or no.  More potatoes?
Kid1:  Not really.
Me:  The only two possible answers here are "Yes, please," or "No, thank you."  You know that.  More potatoes?
Kid1:  I ... well ... I don't...ummmm. No.  No more potatoes.
Me:  "... please..."
Kid1: No more potatoes, please.
Me:  Why was that so hard?
Other Kid:  Kid1's teacher doesn't allow "no" in the classroom.  I think it's to cut down the negativity in the class.
Me:  "......(mentally) whuck? ..."   Um.  I'm sorry about saying this, but no.  NO.  You need to have the courage to stand up for your answer, be it yes or no.  And if a teacher or anyone else can not cope with hearing a "no" answer, they shouldn't ask yes/no questions.  That's the risk you must accept when you ask a person a yes/no question.  The person might actually say "no."
Other Kid:  May I have some more potatoes?

Me:  No.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Playin' With Da Beans -- a Memory

One morning, several years ago, I was feeding our then-baby boy while sitting on the couch.  I looked up to see our little beautiful blonde girl sitting on the floor in front of the glass front door.  The golden slanted morning sun was streaming through, filled with specks of dust.  She kept slowly, gracefully lifting her pudgy little pink hands into the sunshine, then she would carefully wave her little hands through the dust motes floating in the sunshine. 

I asked, "Allie?  What are you doing, honey?"

She answered, "I playin' wiff da BEANS!"

"Beans?  What beans?"

"Mama, da SUNBEANS."


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Unlikely Fritters: Recipe

I was driving home from work one evening, and I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner. On Thursdays, I get home long after the family has dinner, so I'm on my own. I typically have leftovers or an omelet or something I KNOW they wouldn't eat.

This is what I like to call "Night Before I Have To Go Grocery Shopping" cooking.

Ingredients:
One sweet potato, preferably all dried out and a leeetle moldy in spots -- Peeled and then shredded
One cup of cauliflower (frozen, possibly from the Reagan administration), microwaved with water until extremely soft (4 minutes?)
One egg
1/3 cup of peas -- leftover if possible
1/2 of a BRATWURST . Chop it as finely as is reasonably possible
A few TB of regular white flour

Sprinkle with:
a bunch of garlic powder (1 tb?)
a little less cumin (1/2 Tb?)
some paprika, because I have WAAAY too much paprika (you know how sometimes you go shopping and each and every week you buy the SAME 5 pounds of sugar and it starts stacking up? That happened to me with paprika)
A bunch of ground pepper (2 tsp, maybe)
some salt to taste

Mush it around a bit. If it sticks together in clumps, it's good. If it's all wet and floppy, add more flour. If it's all dry and crumbly, add some more egg or water or something.

In a littlish bowl, put about 1/2 cup of cornmeal (I used yellow, but you are your own person)
and about 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs. I'd bet that crushed up crackers would work too, or just flour.
I added spices and things:
A lot more parsley (dried) than I planned (prob. 1/8 cup)
Salt
basil
I contemplated adding mustard seeds, but wasn't sure, so I drew the line.

Mush the veggie mix into balls (golfball-ish in size) and drop them into the crumb mix. Mash them together and make them flattish.

[Kate's Note: I tried today BAKING these. TWICE as awesome, fewer calories. Spray a cookie sheet w/Pam, place the fritters on the pan, spray the FRITTERS with Pam, and bake for 12ish minutes at 375, flipping once when the bottom browns.
ONLY 70ish calories per fritter!]


All this time, you've been heating the oil (I used boring veggie oil). It's -- I guess -- shallow oil. I'd estimate that the fritters will be up to their ankles or possibly knees in the oil. But no higher.

Drop them in (careful -- boiling oil is used to kill people in movies, you know) and let them cook until nice and brown and delicious on BOTH sides. You will have to flip them at some point. NOTE: Use a METAL flipping thing, NOT plastic. Please believe me on this.

Drain them on paper towels.

Serve with BEER! Just kidding. Wine is fine too.
ALSO: consider making some sauce:
equalish parts of HORSERADISH and KETCHUP. You DO know that's what "cocktail sauce," or "shrimp sauce" really is, right? It's totally true.

If you can make 12 little fritters out of this, they come to about 80 calories each.

And? Totally, weirdly awesome.

Blender Fail

Yesterday, I was making myself some broccoli soup.  My extremely complex recipe calls for the following:

One small saucepan with chicken broth.  Add 1/2 head of broccoli (chopped up).  Simmer until soft.  Then blend up with an immersible blender. Add a little milk and maybe some spices.  Eat.

But yesterday, I decided to get advanced.

I poured the broccoli/broth/milk mixture into the blender.
[You can see this coming, can't you?]
I remembered that you're supposed to open the little circular top liddy thing when blending hot ingredients, so I removed it.

BLEND!
DANG!  I didn't cover up the little circular hole.  BROCCOLI EVERYWHERE.  And it was HOT.  I thought to myself, "Dang.  Shoulda seen that coming."

So, naturally, I put the little circle lid thing back on. 
And then BLEND!
DANG!
This time, the broccoli soup blew the whole TOP off the blender.  More broccoli soup EVERYWHERE.
I did a mental facepalm, and wondered what to do next.  The broccoli was still not really pureed.  So I again removed the little circle thingy, but this time tossed a kitchen towel over the hole.

BLEND!
DANNNG!
It blew the towel off, but this time the broccoli puree was contained to a degree. 

At this point, I gave up.  I poured what was left of the soup into a bowl and just pretended like none of it had ever happened.

Sigh.