Thursday, May 31, 2012

Green Acres is the Place to Be

This morning at 7:30 a.m. I was driving into town in Dean's truck thinking, nothing says class like driving a 12-year-old pickup with a crate of chickens in the back. Pullets, I mean. Pullets are chickens that are out of the chick stage but less than a year old. Did you know that when you get pullets in the mail, the post office calls you at 7:15 a.m. to tell you to come get them?

So after I dropped MadMax off at school, I was headed to the post office to pick up the newest residents at our place, three Rhode Island Reds and three Buff Orpingtons.

It turns out that pullets are actually shipped in small-ish boxes-- two per box, and the three boxes were taped together-- so I could pick up the whole thing with little problem. It fit in the back of Dean's pickup with room to spare to put the lid down, so I didn't look any tackier than I usually do when driving the truck. 

And we now have six beautiful pullets.  They are surprisingly healthy looking, since they just spent two days in a box. 

So here they are, upon arrival:

They were thirsty! (sorry I didn't manage to get all six of them in one shot, but they're active little things.)  We'll see how it goes.  Wish us luck, and advice WELCOME.  We are complete neophytes.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

riffday: get crazy with the cheese whiz

The title is apropos of nothing, it's just a line from my favorite Beck song.  I promise I have not been eating cheese whiz, in spite of my rant in the previous post about how over-hyped some food fads are.  Which I posted just because I was insanely grumpy. I have absolutely no scientific evidence to back it up.  Except that I went the first 45 years of my life without eating anything organic, and I seem to be just fine.

Anyway.  let's not get started down that road again.

I'm supposed to be working on my thesis right now.  There are no hard and fast deadlines until next fall, but I told my professor I'd have a first draft to him by the end of next week.  Yeah.  Like that's going to happen.  Actually, it still might, but I'm going to have to put the proverbial pedal to the metal to make it happen because I just could not get myself to concentrate that first week after classes were over, and this past week wasn't much better.  I'm going to give it my best shot, anyway.

So let's see what else has been going on around here....

Nell is graduating in a couple of weeks, have I mentioned that?  We just dropped her off about six months ago, I'm sure of it.  We are so impossibly proud of her.  She majored in international public health, did an honors thesis, spent a year rowing crew, spent a quarter in Prague, spent as many hours volunteering this year as she did studying, made a gazillion friends after heading off to the big city without knowing a soul, and generally kicked college's ass.  If you know what I mean.  She's studying for the MCATs right now and will have her med school applications finished in a few weeks, then she just has to wait to see if she gets in.  I don't see how they could turn her down.

So next year she will be back here while she waits to find out what happens with med school.  You note how as soon as we downsized she decided to come back home?  yuppers.  It will be close quarters, but I bet it will be fun, too.  MadMax is actually looking forward to it.  He thinks we are way too boring.

And speaking of MadMax, a couple of weeks ago he broke the middle school record for discus throw by 15 feet.  Which I think is more than just breaking it, that is smashing it.  His winning throw was 126' and change.  I'm taking him to the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials at the end of June, and it just so happens that those trials are held in EUGENE, OR.  Which means I get to meet frequent commenter Julie for the first time ever.  Can't wait!  There will be pictures!

Last weekend Dean and I went to a Marriage Enrichment conference.  It was good.  I was a bit worried going in, because y'all know I am a private person, and I was worried that there would be forced sharing.  But there wasn't.  There was only one time, the very first night, that everyone had to say something, and after that, it was all optional.  We learned many new skills, but more than anything, it forced us to sit and talk to each other, probably for about 3 hours total spread over the weekend.  Lots of important things were said.  We've been having nightly check-ins since we got back, just as a way of making sure that we really talk to each other at least once a day.  So far so good.

the 4-Letter Word update:  in my weigh-in yesterday, I had lost another pound.  Which is a little surprising because although I've been exercising faithfully every day, I've been a bit lax about calorie restriction.  I haven't gone over by a huge amount, but I've only had 2-3 days out of the last two weeks where I wasn't in the red on MyFitnessPal at the end of the day.  So that brings my total loss since January up to 9.5 pounds.  It seems like I should feel more of a difference with practically ten pounds gone, but really I feel pretty much the same as I did then. 

The best book I've read on parenting teenagers had a bit in it about how important it is to keep hanging in there with curfew.  If you set a midnight curfew and your teenager keeps coming in at 12:30 or 1:00, do what you need to do in terms of consequences, but don't give up.  It's better than having them come in at 2 a.m. or 4 a.m., which is what may happen if you dump the curfew altogether.

That's how I feel about MyFitnessPal right now (you were wondering how that was relevant, weren't you?).  I haven't been under my calorie count very often the last couple of weeks, but I haven't gone way over, either.  Without that mental limit, I think I would still be constantly over-eating.  And I lost a pound.  Oh, my lord, what if this works and a year from now I'm actually at my goal (which is another 17 pounds away)(Hmmm.  Maybe two years!)  We'll see.  I didn't exercise today for the first time in over a month.  I just needed a break.  Back to it tomorrow.

And that's everything I can think of.  I've done some minor re-arranging here, mostly stuff I don't think you'll even notice.  One thing I did was add a "back2school" label, since people keep ending up here after googling "back to school."  If that's why you're here, try the posts with the back2school label.  If you want them chronologically, unfortunately you have to scroll down to the bottom and read "up."  The other thing I did was add a "subscribe by e-mail" box at the top of the right sidebar.  I haven't tried it myself, but if you type your address in there, presumably you'll get an e-mail every time I post something new. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Riffday: the online version

I love xkcd.  He is often brilliant.  But that has to be his most brilliant one ever.  I've been on the internet a long time.  I was using e-mail and listservs and bulletin boards back in the mid-80s.  I've been in an online moms group off and on since 1997.  I've had a blog since October of 2003.  I've been around for the demise of several online communities, including one implosion that happened just a few months ago.

So I thought I was over this need to state my opinion, to charge in with flags waving and anger blaring, to point out to people that they are Wrong.  I've been through my "save the world through the Internet" phase and come out the other side.  It doesn't change the world.  The online world is so vast now (that's what has changed in the world), that people just go find their little splinter group that believes the same thing, and does anybody's opinion ever really change?  The splinter groups get more extreme, and (I hope) the rest of us figure out that the Internet works best as a way to stay in touch (with people we already knew) or get in touch (with kindred spirits)(which possibly equals our own splinter group).  The only way my own opinions have changed in the last 30 years is to realize that they are really, truly just that. Opinions

So it has come as a great surprise to me that not one, not two, but three times in the last month or so I've opened my virtual mouth and stuck in my virtual foot, with hobnail Doc Martens on.  What the hell am I doing?  On one major occasion, it was about something that I don't even really care about.  I was reacting more to the attitude than to the actual issue.  It was a dumbass move.  I regretted it ten minutes after I hit submit.  That's one of the reasons I've stepped away from my keyboard.  If I can't keep myself from being an idiot, what the hell am I doing online?  and why should you read about it? *sigh*

New topic.  Every morning I drop MadMax off at school around 7:30.  As I've said ad nauseum, I am not a morning person.  Often I've been up until 12:30 or 1 a.m. the night before, and when my alarm goes off at 6:50, I feel like something the cat drug in.  But by the time I've made his lunch and driven to the middle school and back, I'm awake and there's no way I'm going back to sleep. 

This morning it occurred to me that I could go the grocery store on my way home.  (Well, it's not exactly on my way home, but close enough).  Grocery stores are open 24 hours, right?  I've never bothered with the early morning version of that, but you know, it was a great idea.  I got my grocery shopping done and was home before I was even fully awake.  There were more people there than I was expecting, but it wasn't nearly as crowded as it will be by this afternoon, which is when I usually go.

But it occurred to me as I was standing in front of the eggs and the organic, free-range, antibiotic-free ones were FOUR DOLLARS AND THIRTY-NINE CENTS that we have reached the  point of absurdity.  One of my big gripes with processed food is that the major corporations who distribute most of our food care more about profit than they do about our health.  But let's be serious here.  It's not like the organic folks don't care about making money.  It's not like the health-food guru who sells books, workbooks, DVDs, tote bags, water bottles, and bumper stickers is only in it out of the goodness of their heart.  

I'm tired of all the fussiness.  Ten years ago the holy grail was just making home-cooked meals every night.  Entire cookbooks full of recipes using convenience foods were published so that we could get dinner on the table.  Then it had to be from scratch.  Then it had to be organic and from scratch.  Now it has to be gluten-free, organic, and from scratch.  Not to mention free-range, GMO-free, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free.  And local.  God forbid you should buy something that was grown on the other side of the country.  And if you're not doing all those things, there are people who are willing to write long opinionated blog posts* stating that your children will grow up with some horrible problem or complication or allergy, or dammit, they might not be perfect.

I'm ranting.  Gah.  And wasn't I the one who was just complaining about all the opinions on the internet?  I'm on board with the effort to minimize the amount of processed foods that we eat, and to minimize shipping and packaging by buying locally.  I really am.  But I'm not going to extremes.  We're pretty dang healthy.  We get the occasional cold, I have occasional migraines.  I'm willing to try various different things to see if they make a difference in how we feel.  But I'm not going to double our grocery bill and quadruple (or more) the amount of time I put into grocery shopping and food preparation for a 5% increase in healthiness.  I'm just not.

OK.  Rant over.  Move along.  Nothing to see here.

*like this one.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vegan dipping sauce for artichokes

I luuurrve artichokes.  This was so good I had to share.

1 box silken tofu
1 T olive oil
1 T dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
2 shakes sriracha (more to taste)
1 heaping t umeboshi plum paste*
(* probably could leave out if you can't find it, they have it at our local health food store)

Dump in food processor and process till smooth. Add more lime juice and/or dijon to taste. Also add salt as needed (if you didn't add the umeboshi plum paste--which is very salty-- you will probably need at least 1/2 teaspoon salt). Yum.  Loosely based on a recipe from Passionate Vegetarian.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

business as usual

You know how at the end of every semester I write a post about how panicked I am and I'm never going to get my paper written and it's the worst paper that has ever been in the history of the world?  yeah, that post.  Insert it here.  If you pray, or do white light or vibes or fgbvs or whatever, send some my way because this is a mess.  And it's due in about 36 hours.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

4Letter Word: It's May! It's May!

(the four-letter word is "diet" because I hate to diet.)

So when last I checked in about this, I was doing MFP (MyFitnessPal) for calorie tracking, Fitocracy for exercise tracking, and reading Judith Beck's book. But I was about to dump Fitocracy due to the prevalence of fitness snobs, who have little to no respect for any kind of exercise except lifting heavy weights.  So here's the update.

Fitocracy:  I know I said I was going to quit, but I didn't.  I'm hooked on it.  Even though my workouts are pathetic compared to what most people do, I really like it now.  The lifters earn a thousand points (or far more) with every single workout.  Me, I'm happy when I get over 200.   But my OCD self likes the tracking system, putting in my exercise routine every day and getting a little pat on the back by seeing my numbers steadily increase, even if it is much more slowly than most people.  And then every 2-3 weeks I level up!  woot!  I'm level 12 now!

Also, and I can't say this strongly enough-- the other "Fitocrats" are so encouraging and supportive.  Well, not all of them, obviously, some of them practically sneer.  But many of them are.  I have about a dozen people that are consistently supportive, and plenty more that pop in from time to time.  On Fitocracy, you "give props" for people's workouts, sort of like "liking" something on Facebook.  Yesterday, five minutes after I posted my 204 point workout, six people had already given me props.  It's nice.  And the other good thing-- I get good ideas for better workouts.  I've learned about some great new (to me) exercises that have made a big difference in how my body feels.  so yay for that.

MFP:  I really like this site.  On Fitocracy, I'm Granny Clampett; on MFP, I am a fitness goddess.  I exercise almost every day, and although I don't do anything spectacular, it's usually enough to add 200-300 calories to my calorie count for the day.  That looks really good on MFP.  There are many people there with far more serious weight challenges than mine, especially in the over 50 age range.

But I haven't really been dieting lately.  You can hardly call it dieting to eat 1900-ish calories a day.  I haven't been feeling very motivated to cut calories, and I think part of me (the wordless one, remember her?) needs to know that this is do-able.  I'm not going to have to starve myself or deprive myself horribly to become more healthy.  So my goal recently with MFP has been just to do it, do the calorie logging, every day.  Other than the week we were on Spring Break, I've logged in every day, even the days I've gone way over on the calorie count.  A couple of years ago, I would have drowned myself in guilt for going over, felt really bad about it, and quit MFP because I was too embarrassed.

But not anymore.  If I decide to go over on any given day, I'm owning it.  And it is a decision, even though sometimes it's not an entirely conscious one.  I don't have the patience on those days to figure out every little calorie, so I'll just stick in an extra 500 or 800 or even 1000 "quick-add calories" so that I'm being honest.  And I keep going.  So if I've had a bad day and let myself have a treat, or if we went out to dinner and I decided to splurge, I'm not embarrassed about that.  It's part of the new plan (which is evolving).

The good news is: that approach means that I'm much more aware of my food choices.  So most days, I stick to the 1900 calories.  So even though you could never call what I've been eating for the past month a diet, I've lost about a pound.  A pound in a month is practically laughable, I know, but it's a gold mine for me because it means that I can manage my food choices.  I'm starting to feel confident about this.  (YAY!)  Last fall I felt really out of control of my eating.  Not so much now.  I can screw up and get back to it, or let myself eat normally for a few days and still be OK.  It's taking away a lot of the guilt and shame that I used to load up on myself because I felt helpless to change anything.

So I guess I'm going to continue using both Fitocracy and MFP.  For the moment, they are both providing something important for me.  Once I'm done with this semester, I have a link to a new health and fitness site that I'm going to try, maybe it will fulfill both functions and I'll only have to do one.

damn this is getting long.  sorry.

The Beck book.  This was going to be the longest part of the post, but I'm getting bored of typing and I need to get back to my paper.  Yesterday was my last day of classes, so I felt OK about taking the time to post, but I have a ton to do by next Wednesday.  So I will just comment quickly on two points that I made in the last post about Beck.

First of all, letting myself get hungry.  She is a big proponent of letting yourself be hungry--it's not going to hurt you, the feeling comes and goes.  Get a drink of water and ignore it.  But I am hypoglocemic, and my experience has been that if I let myself get hungry, I get a headache.  But I said in the last post that I would play around with this a little, just try it and see what happened.  So here is the report:  I don't always get a headache.  Good to know.  It's about 50/50.  Sometimes she's right, if I just live with it, it goes away, or at least backs off to the point where it's not that noticeable.  Sometimes, I end up with a headache.  But only once did I end up with a true migraine.  So, I'm still playing with this.  It's not as much of a one-to-one correspondence as I expected.

Secondly-- she said something about how people who have trouble losing weight "like the feeling of being full," and I didn't think that applied to me.  But you know, it does.  So I'm working on changing this.  I'm working on being satisfied with being about 80% full, because that is plenty of food for human survival.  And also because if I keep eating until I'm 100% full, I often go over the line and end up being stuffed, which is a feeling I don't like.

Geeze.  Sorry this went on and on.  If you're intrigued by the idea of Fitocracy, I think you have to have an invite, and I'm pretty sure I can give you one.  Let me know and I will figure it out.