Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anger Management

I hope that everyone had a very wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a very quiet---busy---Thanksgiving. For starts, my children went with their dad on Friday. This has bruised my ego, as this was my year for Thanksgiving, and our divorce agreement says the Thanksgiving custody is Wednesday through Sunday. The agreement he signed. But instead, he just told me he had bought a ticket and would pick the kids up on Friday. I cannot express to you how hard I have worked to keep my pissiness factor under control over this. I believe that throwing a tantrum makes you look like a jerk. And I understand where he was coming from, and I don't want to keep the kids from him. They look forward to Daddy's visits, and I want them to have whatever time with him they can. What irritates me is that if he couldn't get a ticket for the week before (when he originally said he was coming), then I have to give up my holiday time so he could have them. I have to be the one to sacrifice to cover his mistake. Again. Because heaven forbid he should have to suffer any consequences.

See? Pissiness factor is in full swing. Big time.

I think I'm just mad on principle. Sometimes I feel perfectly, well, not satisfied, but okay with how Thanksgiving went down, and even relieved to have a small break, and sometimes anger just washes all over me and I'm red from my painted toe-nails to the roots of my hair. I have to breath deeply and say "don't react! don't react! don't react!" to myself. Because going off on someone and ranting just proves what an asshole you really are. I have so much to be thankful for that it seems silly to get hung up about something that is really insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  In fact, it is silly. And I am not justified in getting angry just because he is out of line. That's the terrible thing about being human: I cannot whitewash my old sin nature. It's always ugly. It's always there. It's always a battle. And sometimes, I lose.

I have changed a lot this year. I would like to think that I'm more relaxed, less self-absorbed, and more gracious than I was at the beginning of the year, but unfortunately that isn't true. However, it happens one decision at a time and every moment is a chance to try again. I know this is a random, rambling post. I have found that if I write things down and send them into the void, I can finally quit thinking about them and really move on. Maybe this is a sign of my immaturity. Perhaps real maturity is being able to deal with things internally, and then let go without spewing like a volcano or being eaten up inside. Unfortunately, I'm not there yet.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I was going through photos of the past year, and came across this one, which I took this past summer in my backyard. In case you can't tell, this is a picture of insect copulation. I think it sums up men nicely. Here the female carries him on her back and continues to work through it all, while he rides around, concerned with only himself. Apparently, male chauvinism is not a trait confined to Homo sapiens.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Knitting Love

Well, I did not meet my deadline for Pumpkin's blanket, although I came pretty close. After chatting with a more experienced knitter, I have come to think that I was a bit too ambitious about my time-line for my skill level...but I'm still disappointed. I am roughly 2/3 finished with the cable-knit border. Then there are just a few details to add and I'm done. I'm sewing the border on as I go, so when I weave in the last strand, that will be it. Hurray! It is even cuter than I hoped it would be.

I did take a two-hour break from the blanket to knit up these fingerless mitts for Pumpkin last week. This was out of necessity, as we have had a cold-snap, but not playing outside simply isn't an option for us. One of Pumpkin's favorite things to do is sit in the grass and play with pine straw. He has mittens, but he was frustrated that he couldn't pick anything up, so I decided he needed fingerless mitts. They keep his little hands so warm! I was really, really surprised, to tell the truth. I thought the tips of his fingers would still get ice cold, but they were nice and toasty every time I checked. I think I am going to knit up several pairs of these in coordinating colors so that I can mix and match them together. That way, it won't be a big deal when we lose one (because I know we will).

I already have the yarn for my next few projects. I'm planning on making these adorable fingerless mitts for myself, and then making convertible mittens for the girls in the same stripe pattern.  Then, it's on to Christmas toys! I have so many ideas, I don't even know where to begin, BUT I do know that a little knitted 'Ponyo' is going in Doodlebug's Christmas stocking! That is her current favorite movie (we are big Miyazaki fans), and she carries around this plastic bucket and talks to her pretend Ponyo. It is so darn cute! I was planning on making them some playfood and a teaset from Itty-Bitty Nursery, but if I am being honest, I think that I really want the teaset. I think they would like it, but there are other things they would enjoy more. Like a pink and purple dinosaur, and a pink and purple-striped shark (yes, those are two very real requests by Darling). It's going to be a busy couple of weeks!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Real Food for Weight Loss, or How I've Lost 25 Lbs (and counting)

A quick hop on the scale the other day brought the rare good news that I have lost weight! Almost twenty-five pounds in the last six months, to be precise. I always shut my eyes as I step up on the scale, not able to bring myself to look at the number until it stops spinning. This time, I just starred at it in disbelief. I have not been at this weight since before I was pregnant with Darling, five years ago.  I am also a mere six pounds above my my first goal weight! The astonishing thing is that after five years of feeling like I had to starve myself to simply not gain any weight and constantly losing my battle with sugar cravings, the weight has just melted off without exercise or restricting calories in any way. It has happened very steadily these last six months. So what's changed? Well, my diet has changed, yes, but also my mentality. See, I decided to only eat Real Food. When I say "real food", I mean Nina Planck's definition of real food. In my own words, I eat the food that God made. Lots of grass-fed beef and dairy, pastured pork, chicken, and eggs. Tons upon tons of vegetables. As much fruit and nuts as I want. I sweeten things with honey and real maple syrup. Salad dressing is olive or hazelnut oil and balsamic vinegar. I never count calories. In fact, I way upped my fat intake so I wouldn't get hungry. Just between you and me, I eat insane amounts of butter. In the morning, I have a slice of sprouted-grain cinnamon raisin toast with a huge pat of butter, along with two scrambled eggs and half of a pink grapefruit. I eat pasta or rice only occasionally. I indulge in dessert at least four times a week. Usually it's a small scoop of all-natural ice cream (the closet kind to home-made that I can find), or frozen berries topped with heavy cream and sprinkled with real maple sugar. Carbs and sugar are the only thing I monitor, and I still eat plenty, I am just careful not to over-do it. But I don't eat food unless it tastes good. I just enjoy food too much to starve myself. I found that once I brought my meals into balance, the food cravings vanished. I don't snack anymore. I finally gave up all sodas and haven't missed them. I no longer have those unbearable moments of, "I need sugar!" that used to plague me every night. And meanwhile the weight is coming off very steadily, at about a pound a week.
While I am doing so much better, I do find that some foods are hard to eliminate totally. Damned if I don't love Pepperidge farm goldfish!

Anyway, I have just been so flabbergasted by my results that I had to share. If you are wondering what in the world we eat, here is my menu plan from last week:

Sunday: homemade chicken soup with celery, carrots, potatoes, and turnips
Monday: apricot chicken, bok choy with cashew
Tuesday: meatball stroganoff, roasted Brussel sprouts
Wednesday: home-made tacos
Thursday: pot roast with celery, carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes, roasted cauliflower
 Friday: girls were with Nana and Papa for dinner and I ate leftovers
Saturday: Ratatouille with zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, green peppers, and tomatoes

If you are interested in learning a little more about real food for health, I would highly recommend:
Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck
The Schwarzbein Principle by Diana Scharzbein
I have read a lot of books about real food, some better than others. Those are my two favorites.

You know, of course, that this is just my personal experience. If you want to know what you should eat, do your own research! Don't listen to a rambling hobbyist like me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Playing Dirty

I believe that when God created dirt, He knew that, among its many other attributes, it would make the best toy.

We are big fans of dirt in this family. First, because I love to garden, and second, because it has provided hours upon hours of delightful childhood fun and exploration. I am a big believer that one of the great joys of childhood is getting dirty. We have an old flower bed, bare except for a few resilient shrubs and weeds hanging on for dear life, that is dedicated solely to the purpose of mud pies and dust piles. I cannot count the number of hours my children have spent digging, building, and pretending there. Dirt really is the best toy ever!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adventures in Bok Choy

I have a confession to make: I have never had bok choy before. Until tonight! I'm always wanting to expand my vegetable horizons, and while browsing Simply Recipes, I came across this recipe for Baby Bok Choy with Cashews. I thought, this is the recipe for me! I was a little skeptical as I chopped it up, but when I ate the first bite, I became a bok choy convert! Tender, crisp, lightly sweet-- delicious! Not stringy, like celery. I decided to do a little research, as bok choy isn't a vegetable that I knew anything about.

In the West, we associate bok choy with Chinese cooking, and that's because it's been cultivated in the Far East since ancient times. It make appearances in Korean, Thai, and Philipino cuisine. And it turns out, bok choy is just as good for you as it is delicious! It's packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and folate. It also contains beta carotene and vitamin K, phosphorus, and magnesium. With that list of powerful anti-cancer nutrients, it's no surprise that bok choy is a proud member of none other than the brassica family! It may not look anything like the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages that we see in our supermarkets, but bok choy can definitely hold it's own in this prestigious family, and it does it without that super-strong, cabbag-ey flavor.

If you hate broccoli and cauliflower, try bok choy. It has a nice mild flavor and an addictive crispy crunch. Head on over to Simply Recipes and find a good recipe to try. It just might become your favorite vegetable!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Link: Simply Recipes

For the first time ever, all of my children are sleeping though the night. It's been a long, winding road to this point, but I finally feel like all the sleep battles and nighttime parenting has finally paid off. This means that mommy has a little more time for herself these days! One of the great benefits of not being so exhausted all the time is that I'm cooking more. In my search for whole-food recipes, I came across this lovely blog.  It was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for-- lots of yummy recipes that don't require a gazillion ingredients, have a range of flavors, and basically only use real foods. No condensed soups here! The recipes posted seem to be seasonal as well, although you can of course browse the archives for whatever you're craving. It's great to plan your meals according to the season, because the ingredients taste better, but are cheaper, too.

Check out the Butterscotch Pudding recipe....I must make it! Also, the Apricot Chicken and Baby Bok Choy with Cashews are on my meal plan this week.  Yum!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin's Blanket

I have learned to knit in the last couple of months, and I am addicted. It is so relaxing. And portable. I love how I can take it anywhere and start and stop easily-it isn't like sewing where it takes a lot of set-up. Just cast-on and you're on your way! And there aren't a gazillion tiny pins, thimbles, etc.. for my kids to prick fingers or choke on. This really fits my lifestyle right now. And while it does take concentration, I find it much less complicated that crochet. I can never keep up with how many extras you're supposed to chain for each stitch.

I decided to learn to knit right after Pumpkin was born. You see, my ex-husband and I separated before I knew I was pregnant with Pumpkin, and we officially divorced soon after he was born, so his arrival was not exactly under the best circumstances. However, Pumpkin is a shining joy in both my life, and his dad's life (he finally got that boy!) and we're both so glad that he came along. In fact, it probably sped up a lot of healing between us, because we had to keep dealing with each other and trying to get along in the months leading up to Pumpkin's birth. However, since his dad and I weren't together anymore, Pumpkin got short-changed in a few areas. Each of my girls, as well as my nephews and niece, all have a special hand-made blanket from my aunt, but she didn't make one for Pumpkin. And while I'm sure that she just didn't think about it (he is my third, after all, and she is certainly under no obligation to make a blanket for my child!), the reality is that my little Pumpkin is the only one without a special blanket, and as his mother, of course, I want to change that. I didn't want to bring it up, because I was afraid that someone would think that I was actually upset, and nothing could be further from the truth. All I want is for Pumpkin to have a blanket! I don't care who made it. So this left only one logical option: learn to knit and make it myself. I even bought Debbie Stoller's book, Stitch n' Bitch as as a testament to my sincerity to learn, but of course, I had just had  a baby, so that resolution quickly went on the back burner. That is, until I stumbled across the website for Spud and Chloe yarn, and the Spud Says! blog. I was completely inspired, and have fallen in love with Susan B. Anderson's warm and whimsical patterns and yarns. I bought two of her books, Itty Bitty Nursery and Itty Bitty Toys, joined Ravelry, and was off! I had to wait until after we moved and Pumpkin began sleeping through the night to really get going, but now I'm making great progress every day.

Pumpkin's blanket is based on the pattern, Patches from Itty-Bitty Nursery, with a few of my own modifications (can I ever do something without making changes? I doubt it).  There will hopefully be 32 patches (maybe 28 if I run out of time- I want to finish it before his birthday this month), and a cable-knit border. Each patch is done in simple garter stitch, and the designs are free-handed using a chain-and wrapping technique found in Itty-Bitty Nursery. There will be many more designs, all based on the theme of exploration, as well as more striped patches, and just a few solid ones. I've actually made several more patches, but I decided to omit most of the ones with the letters of his name from the picture for this blog. Still, it's coming together!