Monday, June 30, 2008

Cleanse On!

So Day 4 was by far the easiest thus far. I wasn't tired, I found meals easily and everything seems dandy. (this of course means that tomorrow will suck tofu)

Another one of the reasons I'm doing this cleanse is that I would like my body to be in tip-top shape for the next round of IVF. Yes, we do have that scheduled. We'll be going to the West Coast and it seems like my ovulation cycle will be working quite closely with the conference we're going to be out in the West Coast for anyway. They will have to delay the start of my next cycle a bit to make sure it's that week, but overall, the timing is working out really well!!

So I thought, why not cleanse out my cells/body/gut and give this is a good try?

Also, I like moving back to my vegetarian days. I'm not sure I want to be a full vegeterian again and by saying that, I don't mean that I'm going to rank animals by intelligence and eat based on that. What I'd really like to do is choose meat based on its humane life and death. Dave and I have actually discussed this and it's one of the reasons we're seriously thinking about getting a chicken coop for our back yard. (I am SO not kidding)

Because we'd like to have local, grass fed, free range meat, we know it is going to cost more. And if it's going to cost more, we're going to eat a lot less of it. Ironically, this is how I was raised. (Locally born, grass fed, free range). HA! No, that's how the meat I ate as a child came to our table. But we did it because we didn't have a lot of money and did have a lot of land. Now, we're doing it because it's healthier, more ethical and more sustainable.

So yeah. I just found a farmer from Virginia who is coming to our local farmer's market every three weeks with meat that is free range and grass fed. It's really expensive. So, we'll have it on occassion. And for the rest of the time, we'll have a plant based lifestyle. It feels like it's the right next step for us to take.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Cleanse, Day 3

I am taking this one day at a time. I really don't know if I will go the whole 21 days. I'm not even sure I will go a whole week. I'm really trying to do this one day and one meal at a time.

Today, I feel much better. My headache is mostly gone and I have not been nearly as tired today as the first two days. Meals are continuing to be frustrating. I'm not sure how to eat enough calories and still be on the cleanse. On thing is clear: when you've cut out animal protein in a salad, nuts and an entire avocado do not add that many calories. Yum!

But it's amazing how much I eat is habitual instead of what I know is healthy for me. I really feel like if I could just stick with this long enough, I would learn a few quicky recipes that I wouldn't have to think so hard about what to make for dinner. (Or lunch. Or breakfast)

Also, the point of this cleanse is not perfection but progress and I've had to remind myself about that. I, like many folks, have tended to believe there is an end point in life where we've learned our lessons, put in our work, done what needs to be done and have "finished." While I like to continually remind Dave that I have tenure, even then, I'm not "done." So doing this cleanse doesn't take me to any end point. Nothing really ever takes us to an endpoint. (She thinks she makes a profound statement, but realizes all pistons may not be firing.) Instead, I'm hoping this takes me to a slightly better place than I was before. That's really all I want from this.

I want to be more aware of what I'm eating and where it comes from and what it does to me. I want to not eat from habit, and instead, to sample from the wide range of healthy options available to me. (Rice noodles are GOOD!!!)

I'm also trying very hard not to judge others for eating things they think are on the cleanse but I don't (e.g., green tea) and for thinking that what I eat is on the cleanse but they don't (e.g., agave nectar--yum!).

I don't think I'm done right now. I don't think I've learned whatever lesson I'm supposed to learn by decided to do this cleanse.

I will be glad when I'm done. That's for sure. I will be very happy to have cheese, coffee and wine back in that exact order. At this point though, I'm thinking I may consciously stay further away from sugar than I have in the best. I am also not sure I'll be as cozy with wheat as I was before.

But this is all day by day. And today is almost done. Hooray! And according to the scale this morning, I've already lost two lbs! HOORAY!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Cleanse

I am on the second day of a possible 21 day cleanse. I meant to post this yesterday, but when I passed out from fatigue at 2 pm, well, I didn't get around to it.

This cleanse is the Quantum Wellness Cleanse that both Oprah and Dooce have done. And in all honesty, I didn't know Oprah had done until Dooce started talking about starting it herself.

It is not a fast, or at least what I would think of a fast in a typical sense. Instead, it is supposed to be a "cleanse" to rid the body of toxins. You abstain from sugar, alcohol, gluten (i.e., wheat), animal products (i.e., vegan), and caffeine. The theory is that by not eating these foods, you give your body a break and your body gets to heal a bit.

I'm not sure about the science of that, but I do know, as a psychologist, that a ritualistic event marking the passage from one place to another (maybe unhealthy to healthy eating?) is a useful thing. So in that way, a cleanse is a good thing, a nice marker to start being a healthy eater.

The weird thing is that I have lots of perspectives and ideas about this cleanse, but I'm too freakin' tired and unfocused to do so! I'm not as bad as I was yesterday, but I'm definitely a bit "off" (more than usual!). And it's not because I'm not eating enough or I'm not eating enough protein. We're eating a substantial amount of food, although with a 6'4" beanpole in the house, we're having to double the recipes. I'm also eating a sufficient portion of protein through tofu, beans, nuts, etc.

However, I definitely feel different. That sort of freaks me out. What is it in the (sometimes) minimal caffeine, minimal sugar, wheat, cheese/eggs/dairy that I eat or the alcohol that drink that causes such changes in my body that my body is tweaked when it's gone? That is weird and it bothers me.

Dooce and one of her friends stopped the Cleanse after 8 days because they both got so sick with sinus problems. I have subsequently seen that if you're really not eating well (i.e., eating the regular American diet), you should only eliminate one item for the cleanse--like just the sugar or the alcohol or the non-vegan parts. Otherwise, it could shock your body into a "health crisis" as your body tries to shed all your toxins at one time. After learning that, I have decided I will now eat vegeterian meats that are not vegan (they have some animal product in them, usually a milk byproduct). And you'd be stunned how much food that opens up!

So, there we are. I'm taking this one day at a time. I'm not sure I will go the whole 21 days and if I don't, I think I still will have done enough to pass the "ritual" of moving from bad to good eating. It's just so weird to be eating the same amount of calories and a relatively similar proportion of proteins and carbs and having my body freak out so much. That, to me, feels like it's says something.

Still I think that if eating healthy makes you really sick, you should eat healthy more often

Thursday, June 26, 2008


And no, I'm not talking about my own. Instead, five bloggers that I closely follow are either getting divorced or have recently gotten divorced. If Dooce or Defective Yeti or Hippogriffs decides to leave their respective spouses, I will shut down my own blog as a preventative measure for the sanctity of my own marriage.

Seeing a couple you know or care about divorce is weird when you're single, but its downright fear inducing when you're married. Could what happened to them happen to us and how do we stop it?

I'm old enough to know that we can never really see into the inner workings of another couple. One of my best friends in graduate school left her husband of 20 some odd years even though it looked like, from the outside, they were a great team.

I also know that sometimes couples just shouldn't be. I am thinking of a good friend of mine who left his longterm partner years ago and it was obvious he had grown deeper and further than his partner and it was time to move on to a deeper, healthier life. I'm also thinking of another couple married for 17 years until she found out he had been having an affair for the last 4 years after they lost their first child and, obviously, they didn't deal with that loss as a couple.

And I can also see how a person can feel like he or she is suffocating or being hold back or just can't breathe air because of their relationship. And this is the one that freaks me out the most. I can see how one could let their mind wander down that path and put the blame on one's unhappiness on the other person. Which could be the rightful place where it belongs. Or maybe it's not. I hope I will always choose not to go down that path in my mind.

I don't know if that is what has happened in these relationships I'm following online. I know it has happened in some of the relationships I've seen break down in the past, especially when it doesn't seem obvious to the outsider what is so wrong with these unions.

I do know that my relationship with Dave is the easiest one I've ever had in my life, even when he doesn't properly file away his bills or when I react too quickly at some small offense. (Of course, that last one is always easy on *me*!!) We've been together for nearly 8 years now, and at no point has it felt very hard. Am I not paying enough attention?

A friend of mine who seriously considered divorce last year (with what one might call really good cause) was stunned when I told her recently that "Dave and I just haven't hit a rough spot yet and I hope we'll be able to make it through it when we do."

Tenure? Miscarriages? Vacation? (her bugaboo with her husband) And no rough spots?

Well, maybe rough minutes. Maybe rough hours. But never rough days and certainly never rough weeks.

It just scares me that perhaps one or both of the partners in the couples I see divorcing felt the same way, too. And now they look back and see nothing but rough terrain on what they thought at the time was a sunny, stable landscape.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monkey Daddy

"You know, I don't have a lot of upper body strength myself."

"Me either."

"But you have those long monkey arms."

"Yeah!," demonstrating, "And they give me leverage!"


We finally got the occupational therapist's report on Conor's balance and coordination issues yesterday. The good news is that no one thinks that there are any problems with Conor's intellectual development. That is doing just fine. The other news is that yes, Conor does have a real problem with balance, coordination and tone. His teachers think that his body has just grown quicker than has his ability to keep up.

Indeed, in some ways, his gross body movements and his ability to move objects (i.e., throw or catch a ball) are similar to those of a two year old. YIKES! That part still freaks me out when I read it.

As I suspected, the OT confirmed this morning that the only real problem that would happen should we not engage in therapy is that Conor would become very frustrated in group activities when his friends could do things he could not. Speaking from our own tall experience, Dave and I can relate.

And yes, we have noticed things. Conor doesn't climb the monkey bars as well as the other children. Once, this weekend, he tried one funky ladder at the playground and when he reached the top and was supposed to lean over and climb onto the slide, his legs were visibly shaking, he was so afraid he was going to fall. Also, when we asked him to balance on one foot (a marker for this sort of problem), he wasn't not able to do so for one full second, a skill that he should be able to do for 5 seconds without swaying right now.

I pointed out to the OT that Conor can hit a ball with a bat when we pitch it to him and that he can really swing a golf club. The OT said it's not what he does, but how he does it. Conor has to contort himself to do these things. My hopes are that once his body can do these things more easily and gracefully, he could really be able to tap into that eye-hand coordination he has (and we don't).

I'm only slightly upset by this. There is no "real" problem here. He is emotionally, socially and developmentally really blooming. It's just a bit unnerving to find out that my precious little pumpkin is not perfect. (and no, I don't expect perfection, but wasn't that a nice alliterative sentence?) Dave and I both acknowledge that neither of us would have noticed this if the school hadn't. And if we can fix these issues before Junior High gym, why on earth wouldn't we?

So he will engage in play occupational therapy twice a week at school. From what I gather, it's called play therapy because it feels like playing for the children. (And the OT said Conor was one of the sweetest little boys she's worked with!) We will get some exercises to do at home, too. And also, she encouraged us to let him play on the playground more, to take him swimming and to enroll him in a gym class.

So there we are. I have to admit that I'm glad we're at this school where they are trained to notice these things. But I sort of wish we didn't think there was a problem. But it will give us all practice, no? Conor will practice now when it's fun and it's not embarrassing in front of his friends, and we will practice dealing with all the problems that are going to come up in our child's life.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Microwave Done Dinged

I love my neighborhood. I assume that most people like their neighborhood, but I love where I live. (Apart from the evil rats--6 dead now!---and the wiley rabbits).

This weekend was the third Art Krawl in Plaza-Midwood. The neighborhoods around Charlotte have Art Crawls regularly, but only recently have they been getting more popular; they "sprint" now instead of crawl.

However, the one we went to on Saturday night rocked. It was jam packed full of people we knew and people we didn't, and I have to be honest that we knew a lot of the people. It extended from the Harris Teeter past the train tracks to DI Central, which if you know the 'hood is a really long way.

We saw art. We heard bands. We dunked the roller girls for $1. We helped the belly dancers find the tattoo and piercing parlor. We caught bubbles and mardi gras beads and we didn't have to show our ***s. And we stayed just at one end of the party/krawl. Next time, we're going to eat before we go so we can explore more.

Of course, there is a limit to what we can do. Part of the family friendly vibe of the festival means that families are on their way out when the more fun part starts. That's absolutely fine, but we noticed when we were leaving that it was already past dusk. And in the summer, that's late, my friends.

As we left with another family, I noted that The Butter was at Room Temperature in the Child Melting-0-meter. When we arrived at our friends' house and their son began wailing that the house was too dark, I upped the meter to The Butter is in the Microwave.

Dave looked at me and said, "The Microwave Done Dinged."

So, yes, Plaza-Midwood and the South have rubbed off on all of us in this hood. It's a good thing we have no intention of ever leaving where we are.

Friday, June 13, 2008

This and That

I know that, according to the rules of good blogging, I'm supposed to have a point when I post, a shining insight into life as a mother thing. One, do not assume this is a "good" blog. And two, I shine not.

Instead, I kill rats. HA! 4 and a half rats dead. Two died right off the bat, umm, right off the trap. We found a half eaten rat carcass after our trip back to West VA. Gross, I know, but happily dead. We killed another this week. Dave noted it was fat. I noted she was pregnant. I felt bad about that until I saw a rat dive into our potato bed, and then my sentiment was to kill more the rats before they get their rat cooties on my potatoes.

Scarlett has been sick lately. I told Dave that if she "passed", I wanted a kitten for my birthday. However, last night he mentioned that he thought a pellet rifle would be useful, too. I seriously thought about it. How about a kitten and a pellet gun? That says a lot about the kind of southern woman I am.


The other night, Conor and I were snuggling before bed. He looked up and saw his Thomas the Tank catalog in one of his new bed's cubby holes! He loves to read the catalog as he goes to sleep and I think starting a habit of reading in bed before the age of 4 is pretty darn good.

"Do you want to read it?" I ask.

"No," he insists. "I want to snuggle with you."

He puts his hands on either side of my face and gives me a kiss.


He looks deep into my eyes and then he begins pushing my face away. "You can go now."

Ok. Thanks! I won't let the door hit me on the way out!


Steve and Barry's. Steve and Barry's? Folks, do you know about Steve and Barry's? God bless America, people. Do you KNOW about Steve and Barry's?

I surely didn't until yesterday. The NY Times recently featured Steve and Barry's as having some of the best quality cheap clothes in the US. Their goal is to have Old Navy, Gap and (sometimes) Banana Republic quality clothes FOR LESS THAN $10 EACH! Their shirts are definitely Old Navy quality. But their pants are NICE. And I bought a fitted Bitten dress for $8.98 yesterday. And it fits well. And the Bitten pants I bought fit well and they are pretty!!

I bought Mossimo shorts from Target last weekend for $16 and an Isaach Mizrhai sweater for $24 and neither of those have the quality material or construction as the Bitten clothes I bought.

Seriously. Everything in the store was $8.98. And it fit. And it looked pretty on me.

Wow. Dead rats and new clothes. What a great week this has been.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What My Husband Can Do

My husband made this bed. By himself. It is by far the best piece of furniture we have in the house. It's a captain's bed with 12 (!) drawers in which we can store all of Conor's clothes and linens as well as all of our guest linens and pillows.

This is about midway into the bed making when Dave was finishing up the headboard and the bed base.

Here is the foot board about halfway through the staining process. (I don't have a lot of early pictures because at the beginning, it was essentially just stacks of specifically cut pieces of wood). Also, Ithe dark stain comes from first staining the wood red and then staining it dark. (or something like that; Dave can explain in the comments how wrong I am)

Here are Conor, Patches and Dave putting the base in Conor's bedroom. Each drawer is custom fit to its slot, so you might see numbers in the drawers.

And here is the final installation with the steps Conor has to climb to get into his BIG big boy bed.

You may note to the right is Conor's "closet" in which we have now put all his toys stacked in bookcases. He has so much more space in his room now. And we have more furniture available to us (he surrendered his dresser to me. HA! I have my own dresser now!!).

It is amazing that Dave made this bed. It is truly beautiful and perhaps if you click on the picture above you can see the gorgeous hardware Dave bought for the drawers. This bed is so strong and sturdily made that I think our grandkids will use it.

All hail the hunky handy husband!

Monday, June 09, 2008

God Bless Neem

I have learned a lot this year in my gardening. First, neem is the best thing invented by trees in India and Pakistan. It's sort of like that other bug killer I love, BT: it kills the bad bugs and doesn't harm the good ones and has not effect on humans. My tomatoes were being attacked by aphids and after two weeks of neem application, my tomatoes are all happily climbing up their trellises.

Yes! I've got my tomatoes and cucumbers on trellises. Thank you Dave for making that for me! Theoretically, they should take up less space and keep the fruit healthier. I will tell you that both of those vine-y plants are growing up and I think this actually may work!!

I've also kind of figured out who needs extra fertilizer (asparagus) and who doesn't (tomatoes). I'm growing potatoes under 12 inches of straw. I found out today, I've probably put too much on there, but oh, well. I'm learning; I have not yet fully learned.

We have killed three rats now. It's nearly 100 degrees and bunnies often from the heat, so I have my fingers crossed for some dead rabbit soon. Groundhogs and chipmunks are not a problem here in NC, but I wish for their death, should others find them to be a nuisance.

We're still having problems--cabbage moths has eaten more of my bok choi than I have and our turnips are really bitter. (I'm thinking that's b/c they are better in the fall than the spring/summer) The onions I planted in the spring were still tiny; I think I should be planting them (along with the garlic) in the fall. So I shall.

I'm getting a pint of killer ladybugs tomorrow and we are thinking of buying beneficial nematodes to spray in the garden and yard.

I also found out that you can freeze dill and basil but not cilantro. I even bought a special freezer air vacuum thingy to help save some of our garden.

I still completely suck as a gardener. But I'm learning. I take a little step forward each year.

ETA: I totally forgot to blog about my whole reason for knowing I'm learning and knowing I need to learn more: flea beetles. They make these lacey little holes in eggplant leaves. I've had them every year and didn't know what was up. Well, it's a flea beetle. And flea beetles die, Die, DIE when exposed to neem. And beneficial nematodes. Who the hell knew?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Peter Rabbit Must Die

Once again showing the NY Times bases its stories on my life, today's lead in the home section is about (sub)urban farmers who resort to killing the rats, bunnies, woodchucks and groundhogs eating their vegetables. I am the target audience of this article considering my progression from "the bunnies deserve their carrot tax" to "Are guns organic?" to "I am going to kill me some motherf*cking bunnies."


So we've taken out two rats. Unfortunately, we've spotted more. We had this same problem last year and I be godd*mned if I'm going to turn my garden into a wildlife buffet.

I'm a wee bit salty tonight, eh?

My master gardener neighbor is currently stalking the bunnies. I really would not be surprised to see this very refined woman whacking a baby bunny with a shovel at this point.

We have declared war. And a pellet gun is not out of the question. Although I did buy a cage to encase the plants with this week. We'll see how that works first.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

My Heart Might Really Explode

How is it possible to keep falling in love with someone over and over again? Although, I do fall in love again with Dave, it’s Conor who keeps making my heart want to explode out of my chest and shoot fireworks over my head.

When last we left the Mother Thing family, we had gone all the way around our ass to get to our elbow. Upon arriving at our elbow (i.e., West Virginia), we prepared for Cousin Rachel's wedding. Cousin Rachel is Conor's godmother and a recent graduate of the Naval Academy. As a four-year starter for the Naval Academy volleyball team and 3.9 GPA physics major, she has real problems with focus, talent and drive. She's also beautiful. Nonetheless, she still agreed to be Conor's godmother. And when she asked Conor to be the ring bearer in her wedding, we were thrilled. And under-prepared for the cuteness that would ensue.

Conor and the flower girl (age 2) practiced very, very hard at the rehearsal walking up and down and up and down the aisle holding hands. I told Conor he had to help her because she was so young. (I figured that would keep him less frightened for himself) But when they had to walk down the aisle for real, he was carrying a pillow and she was carrying her basket. They couldn’t hold hands and I think, by Conor’s slightly frightened expression, it was a bit scarier for them both.

When Conor arrived at my pew, he worriedly whispered, “Mommy! She didn’t drop her flowers!!” “It’s OK, honey!” I assured him. And then she realized what she had done, and turned her flower basket completely upside down and dumped them all right there in front of us! It was verrrry cute.

The two of them passed out in the pew during the service, exhausted from their adrenaline rush. But then they got better.

The reception turned into a dance-o-rama. This is a preview of Conor in about 18 years at a college formal (from the beginning of the reception), a little sweaty, a little too happy, and eyes partly closed.

And this is what Conor and his date are going to look like at the end of the evening.

Let me tell you that my shy son danced. He danced his heart out in the middle of the dance floor with strangers coming to take pictures of his adorable self as he danced. Conor kept trying to get her to twirl (because he and I twirl when we dance) but at 2 years old, she rightfully was not quite getting his lead on the twirling.

I tell you it was an amazing sight. He was in the spotlight for an entire day and blossomed in a way I could have never imagined. He never melted down once which alone is pretty impressive for an almost 4 year old.

And the next morning, he woke up very early still buzzing from the previous day’s excitement. He snuggled in bed with us and said, “I like….” He paused. “Dancing with the flower girl?” I suggested. “No.” “Dancing with Cousin Carter?” I suggested. “No.”


“I like…Cousin Rachel.” Because as much fun as he had that day, he knew it was really his godmother’s special day.