Friday, October 1, 2010

Cue the thumbs

Natasha turned 13 right before school let out for summer. And on that day, a hormonal switch was flipped. Whoa, take cover!

But that isn't what this post is about and most of the time she isn't much different than when she was 12. No different discounting the following facts: she is taller and catching up to me, now wears the same size shoe as I do and too often MY shoes, and is always attached to her cell phone.
If she isn't texting it is buzzing in her pocket - or on the far side of the table when she is doing her homework.

She had been asking for a cell phone for years. We asserted that she didn't need one. I was home, I drove them to and from school due the whole open enrollment thing. On my honor, I would make them walk if we lived any closer and they are forced to hike and bike and walk other places so let's not go there ok? She always had access to phones at school, church and when at friends homes. She never used the phone at home anyway.

That last point? Yeah, that was because most of her friends had cell phones and were busy exercising their thumbs instead of tongues; and despite having an e-mail address she wasn't getting in on all the plans. Bad Mom. Add in the fact it was getting annoying trying to figure out which days which activities let her out of school when, whether she would be waiting at school, walking with friends, or walking several blocks to our usual meeting place. See? I do make her walk.

I wanted her to have a cell phone to make my life easier. If I could avoid sitting in the car waiting for 30 minutes a day, I could be more productive. The people in the school office probably thought the same thing when she stopped coming in daily at 2:30 asking to use the phone.

So what did I tell her the week before her birthday when she asked again? “No, you don’t need one.“ So mean. Then she asked if she could have an iPod Touch. “Yes,” I said. “If you pay for it yourself.” Little did she know I had already checked out text plans and phones and even asked them to make sure they had the phone I thought she would choose in stock. It was very hard NOT to take her straight there after school.

The day of her birthday we went out to breakfast where she opened her token presents: a pile of sketching and drawing tablets and a new set of markers of course, a few sweets that she isn’t supposed to have with braces, and a blindfold. After breakfast we piled in the car, blindfolded her and drove to the cellular store. She had no clue. You can see her surprise in the photos below. Note the bottom photo - she spent half her birthday in her room texting and then during her street dance/sleepover party as well, texting the girls who were right there with her. It's a different world.

Life IS easier now that she has a cell, for both of us, I think. And she did something else that day that showed me she was responsible and thoughtful enough to take care of a phone.

Sarah and Mira both think they need a cell phone too. They each have a long wait.

May June July August September

That went fast. Is it bad that I have been stopping by my own blog a few times each month to click through links to see other blogs, without actually posting?

Small update: since my last post about the nasty caterpillars, the bushes have filled in nicely. Let's not talk about the weeds that need to be pulled again, ok? Thanks.

The girls FINALLY escaped school in mid-June. Through the summer they each took several art classes between the Art Center and the home of the former elementary school Art teacher. We still have the lovely artwork everywhere, and Natasha discovered ceramics. Sarah and Mira took swim lessons. All attended Vacation Bible School as participants or helpers and Sarah attended a second VBS at a friends church. There were math sessions (sorry) and weekly trips to the library. Natasha turned 13 and of all crazy ideas we let her have a cell phone. I now am an expert at texting. More on that tomorrow*.

We swam, planted gardens at church and home, rode bikes, had sleepovers, purchased some cool old office furniture for my new scrap corner. I went out with friends several times, had a friend visit for a few days, and watched lots and lots of rain. Sad fact: with 5 sequential dry days this week, we have just experienced the longest dry spell in our area since April. Hmmm.

We also did a fair amount of traveling:
  • a week in Chicago with Oma and Grandpa, with a stop at Witty Kitties (remember Eddie/Alastor?), and a visit to Brookfield Zoo.
  • a week and a half in Georgia visiting my sister Missy and her family.
  • a long weekend in Northern Illinois with my cousin Karen and the rest of her immediate family. We were celebrating a milestone birthday that will occur later this year. Wait - aren't they all milestones?
  • as always, my holiday weekend camping in Wisconsin with my parents. Technically Labor day weekend, also known as Michelle/Mom's yearly birthday campout. Yes, I got lucky with my birthday, and I usually chose to spend it in a tent.
In between all the traveling, we visited the State Fair to see two of Natasha's drawings that were accepted for display, as well as her friend Michaela's incredible chalk dragon. Then everyone went back to school. Well, by that I mean the girls, not me. Mira is in Kindergarten, she loves it and I miss her. Still, I am managing to fill my days and the hours fly by.

It has been a wonderful 5 months, and I don't regret a minute of it.

* Did I say Tomorrow? This time I'm making plans, not promises. Plans for me, to satisfy my reasons for blogging, so we'll just see how it goes. In the meantime, the chauffeur had better go to sleep. She has lunches to make in a few hours.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beautiful Weekend

Oh what a lovely weekend. Sunny, warm on Saturday, cool for gardening on Sunday. Perfect after a week of rain.

We did the normal weekend things:
  • slept in
  • coffee and omelets in the sunroom while reading the paper and listening to the wrens singing - and watching the cats stare out the window, dreaming of wren for breakfast.
  • mowed
  • cleaned and tuned bikes although the girls have been riding theirs for awhile. Mine is new (that's another post) but the Burley trailer was nasty mildewy and Rich's bike stored hung in the rafters for the winter had apparently been used as a birds perch. Yuck. He's riding to work for Bike to Work week and added upright handlebars so he doesn't have to lean over so much. Being 6'7" isn't always an advantage!
  • a bike ride to the store & around the neighborhood. I'm hoping next weekend we will start riding bikes to church.
  • Mira helped me move my basil from the herb garden next to the house to the vegetable garden. The herb garden used to be a sunny place, but the oak that was teeny tiny when we moved in 15 years ago now shades the yard between the house & garage - and the Lilacs, and the Azaleas and the herb garden. Mira also helped me clean up the veg garden border and plant the Marigolds and white Verbena she helped me pick out a few weeks ago.
  • Took photos of the just blooming Peonies (hey, the peeling garage gives the back yard a rustic cottage look, doesn't it?) and pine bushes in the side yard being eating from the top down by scores of squirmy creepy dark green caterpillars. Blech. They make a nasty clicking noise and every so often they all twitch at once. The bushes are beautifully green too - halfway up. Rich took care of the caterpillars yesterday...
  • Grilled homemade pizzas for dinner - oh yummy.
Some not so normal weekend things:
  • attended the school carnival. Fun fun fun - especially Mira who can not wait to start Kindergarten. Sarah ran around with her friends getting her hair and face painted, eating junk and playing games. If you look closely at the peonies photo above you can see Sarah's still-orange hair on Saturday morning. Natasha caught up with old friends who attend different middle schools. And I won the 'Lunch with a Teacher' basket for Sarah & her WONDERFUL Teacher Mrs. B - the three of us get to go to lunch at Flarah's before school gets out - during the school day! How cool is that?
  • Took Natasha to a friends Birthday party - for hair and make-up Oh my. It's too bad we weren't planning to go someplace special, so I settled for a photo shoot instead. Just one here for now. Ok, two. Not the best light for either, but I love the photos anyway. Beautiful.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Garden Itch

Beautiful weekend. Sunny, warm, green.
Weeding and planting makes Michelle happy.

Now I itch. I tried to ignore it.
Even though it tickles NONSTOP.
Even though I knew I'd uncovered a funny three leafed plant on a red stem while pulling leaves out of tangle of Wisteria vines. (Oh I make sure to shower off the instant I finish gardening. I NEVER touch my face while gardening, and I always toss my gardening clothes right into the washer. Because I get Poison Ivy EVERY year, even if I never see the stuff.

But not this year.
Oh no not me.
That sloooow, tickly feeling on my calves, ankles, wrist, elbow? I must have disturbed a few sleeping mosquitos while digging up those runaway decorative grass sprouts trying to take over the lawn, right? Right?


At least it's mild. Goes well with the sniffly nose from all the dust I stirred up over the past two weeks while pulling old stuff from closets (and sorting and washing) to take to the church garage sale. 3 carloads, 1 FULL Jeep load and one more to transport an old bedframe. Dust galore.

Oh well. My garden looks lovely, my house is so much less cluttered and I am happy.

I think I'll mow tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And the dust settles.

We went out on Sunday, just to see two houses. One because it is a historical house and a beautiful Craftsman. We wanted to see it up close, though there was no way we could possibly fit unless we had only 1 child, or if we got rid of all our stuff. It was so beautiful it was tempting to make that leap! Beautiful front yard, but alas, no place to garden. Lovely to see however.

The other was on a whim. Looked tiny, and the yard, while big, is divided by a newer garage. Hmmm. Well, it was beautiful. It was big enough. Surprisingly, more than big enough. Lots of windows - BIG windows. Wood floors, wood beams, updated kitchen - and perfect location - just 5 minutes from here. We made an offer and started frantically trying to finish up any and every project, move piles sorted for the church garage sale, add to those, signed papers to put our house on the market - a complete roller-coaster of excitement and picking up (considering we spent the bulk of our down time looking at houses lately)... and we didn't get it. Well, we haven't received the courtesy of a call, but as the deadline for our offer has come and gone hours ago, we can assume we didn't get it. Yes, we knew we were one of 3 offers yesterday, and only one of the offers didn't have a house to sell. Sigh.

In the meantime, our yard looks great, the girls rooms and entire main floor is as uncluttered as it has been in a LONG time. Bathroom is ready for priming and painting. The basement is making progress. I'm ready to purchase new shades at the drop of a hat though it looks like I'll be here this summer to make the ones I had planned to make last spring.

The thing is - despite the fact that we would LOVE an extra bedroom and bath (for the three girls to share) and an office NOT in the basement, and to be walking distance from the schools -we love our house. We live in a great neighborhood, we have wonderful neighbors, we have a wonderful yard full of gardens and flowering trees and such (the lilacs and plum are starting to bloom and the wisteria is starting to green up). We can walk to two parks and the post office an many restaurants, clothing stores, hardware store, coffee shop, music store for lessons...

If we HAD listed when we started looking in earnest, it's a good chance we would be scrambling to find a place, or would have had to be out long before now and would have missed the perfect house anyway. We were not and are still not willing to risk selling this house and not find something comprable without moving out of the district (and we have looked in a few other disrticts. Ahem.) We've been looking long enough to know that finding the perfect house for us is not easy. We are picky and know exactly what we want - partially because we already have 95% of what we want, we're just on top of each other all the time. So I don't regret our decisions.

Yes, someone looking to downsize did look at our house this weekend (through a friend). Maybe if I'd painted the bathrooms last year like I had planned to, or finished decluttering as I had planned to, they would have been ready to jump, allowing us to get the other house. Again, I don't regret that I didn't do those things. Last summer & fall I was getting my stamina back and ran out of energy easily. I was spending quite a bit of energy working on a large volunteer project or two. And the summer & winter before I was really not able to do much, like walking to the park or driving to the pool when the girls wanted to. So I spent the rest of my energy doing those things with them. Picnics in the rose garden, most afternoons at one pool or another, meeting with friends here & there for playdates. And while we did do some electric work, replaced several light fixtures, water heater, garage door, and did more landscaping; the time spent with my girls was much more important than painting bathroom ceilings and basement walls.

As much as I REALLY truly desperately loved and wanted that house, for moments LIVED, I'll keep my house and it's memories until we come across another perfect house. If you find one, let us know, because we're not going to be looking very hard for awhile. It's time to slow down, clear out and simplify, and get back to enjoying what we do have.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Elton John concert

Fun fun fun. Especially the girls singing along and rocking out. Sarah air drumming. Natasha drooling over the many different guitars. Mira waving her arms and "Wooo-hoo"ing at the first and last 45 minutes of the concert and her 1.5 hour nap in the middle.

Considering the concert started at her usual bedtime, she did rather well.

Houses - Looked at several more yesterday. Ruled two out. Not sure Rich will like my fave. I still dream of the Horsey house - taking Rich to see both later this week, and hopefully two others. The others are near his office and would mean a change of school district, away from friends, walk-able stores & neighborhoods. However those two have almost everything on our ideal home list - one in particular would mean no compromise on either mine or Rich's part, but it may not have enough bedrooms. You would think the listing would be clear, but the description, listing and assessment documents contradict each other.

This search is time consuming and if none of these houses work, for whatever reason, I am ready to stop. Not forever, not 100%, just enough that we get our Sunday afternoons and a few weekday hours back. We'll still be scanning the papers Sunday morning, may take in an open house now & then when something looks promising in our school district. The school situation has resolved itself: we now have it in writing that the girls will go to the schools we want. Next years budget cuts may change our minds, but we still love the schools. So in the meantime we'll just stay here, fixing the little things that bug us, enjoying the yard we've worked hard on, enjoying the neighbors and the lower mortgage payments while we keep our eyes out for the perfect house. We've seen enough that we know what is worth looking at, what we can skip, which yards we like, which neighborhoods.

Then again, one of those houses may be the one. In either case, I have some yard work to do today, and I plan to enjoy every minute in the sun, with Elton John playing on my ipod.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Houses & Horses

I looked at a WONDERFUL house this morning. Light, space, great kitchen, woods, enough bedrooms to separate the girls and office besides, perfect for entertaining.Yard enough for raised beds as well as room to play and oh so private.

I was mostly able to imagine living there when I blocked out the deer & buck heads hung everywhere. Except the smell of the neighbors horses was getting to me every time I stepped outside. I tried to imagine what it would smell like in the heat of summer as I sit on the deck watching the sunset or grilled at the BBQ, or even in the living room with the windows wide open. I prefer open windows over AC, don't you? I suspect on this wooded lot open windows would be a very lovely thing.

Except for the horsey smell.

Not happenin'. Bummer.

Just got some good news about open enrollment, official news.

News, or rather, facts I wish I'd had 6 weeks ago when we went into this must-move-now frenzy, not that everything was official so maybe what I was told was, at the time, correct?

News that makes moving irrelevant. Except for the space issue. And the 3 girls and 2 adults sharing not enough bathrooms thing. Or the issue of getting more house & yard for the moolah near Rich's office and making his drive to work and home a very short one. I'm all for making the bread-winner happy except the potential dream houses that do that would all require a district change. Now I'm confused because this moving thing was originally about avoiding a school change, and now that we don't have to we might anyway. The girls are up for an adventure. The grass is always greener...

Maybe I should just work harder on getting rid of the stuff we don't need and we'll fit here better? Then we can go back to Hawaii instead and enjoy more moments like these:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pages for a snowy day.

Oh we had so much fun on Spring break. Sleepovers, playdates, and sunny warm days playing at the Rose Garden.

This morning we woke to 4 inches snow! Boo. Oh well - just a little more incentive to stay inside and work on Spring cleaning.
And scrapping :)
Natasha with her Guitar, photos taken while working on an assignment for my Karen Russell photography class (so sad that it's over). Inspired by a page in the Tim Holtz gallery, although quite a bit simpler, as well as a challenge to use rub-ons, stickers, and black. Bazzill Cardstock spritzed with Huckleberry and Pashmina Glimmer Mist, The Good Housewife PP scrap by Amanda Johnson inked with brown Colorbox, Frame/scroll by K & Co., Muse letters by Thickers, ATC transparency by 7-gypsies (?), Tim Holtz Fragments charms with various bits of leftover rub-ons (Basic Grey, Bo Bunny and?).
Sarah, journalling about her recent tube in, adenoids out experience. Hopefully last tubes? Page based on a March 2010 Pagemaps sketch, combined with a challenge to use chipboard letters, stamp is Tim Holtz, combined with Ranger Faded Jeans Distress Ink. White Basic Grey chipboard letters spritzed with Huckleberry Glimmer Mist. Papers & rub-on Sarah letters from a Jenni Bowlin Kit, journal papers leftovers from? And some really, really old circle clips.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Marching On

Corny, I know. What can I say?

Once again, we've been crazy busy. I am soaking up everything I can in my photography class (Karen Russell, Snapshots of a Good Life), as you can see below. Class ends next week. Very sad. However, we still will have access to the class forums for a year - Yay! Everyone in the class is so supportive, I'm looking forward to continuing and building those relationships and improving my photography.

In between, I have started on a new project (non-paid, but very cool. I'll share more info when it's finished).

Rich went out of town and our furnace died while he was in a nice warm hotel room. I was here, trying to keep warm by blowing condensation out of 25 year old rubber furnace hoses (YICK!) and flipping switches while listening to the wonky motor rattle and hoping the thing wouldn't blow up overnight. Then I tried to sleep with all 3 girls in my bed. We had it replaced the next day. Well, it took two days, but we were able to return the borrowed space heaters after the first day and the house was warm by the time Rich returned from his trip.

I really wish things would NOT happen every time he goes out of town. I know I am capable, there is really no need to prove it!

Then we found out the neighbor the girls calls Grandpa Don was in hospice. He left this world on Friday and I attended his funeral today. He will be missed by all of us.

We celebrated the 89th birthday party of Rich's Dad, the first Grandpa Don. He requested a pecan pie instead of cake, so I found a recipe for a pie without corn syrup... and with rum. I'll share the recipe this weekend as it was OH so yummy.

Sarah had her adenoids out on Monday. And another tube placed. She was quite nervous but when they took me back to her afterward she smiled her sweet smile and softly said "I can already hear better! Dr. Y told me they took out "huge chunks of adenoid tissue" so it was a good decision and will hopefully end the ongoing hearing problems. Side note, I did NOT eat lunch after he told me that. Being the school lover she is, she went back the next morning because they said she could. She didn't want to miss math or piano. She made it the whole day too, twice visiting the nurse for a short nap but not wanting to come home.

I had a naaaasty migraine. Natasha & I made chili for 100, then helped her confirmation class serve dinner at church. Then I slept for 12 hours. (The chili was also yummy, I'll share that recipe too. I promise, because this is the safest place to not lose them!)

Today Sarah asked to stay home, not feeling well. Usually she is mad when she has to miss school, so I thought she must need the rest, and her throat has been hurting her a lot. Rich was rather dubious when I called to let him know and I wondered myself when Sarah spent part of the morning playing piano (it relaxes her). This afternoon she developed a fever and will be staying home tomorrow as well.

In between we've been looking at houses, so we can live in the school district we are open enrolled in. However now we're wondering if we should look elsewhere? Hard decision no matter we do. More on that later. I know you have other things to do today, so I'll leave you with my sweeties, no photos taken on auto!

Mira, passing out Valentines:

Natasha, looking older than should be allowedSarah sunshine

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Too much - as usual!

I am having such a GREAT year!

Learning and applying so much in my photography class that I have turned into a menace with my camera. Took about 40 photos yesterday during my lunch out with Mira.Fun lunch, and some great photos (though I tend to push ISO too low, working on that). Of course now I have a list that includes new lenses, a white balance filter, a new camera... on top of my current needs & wants list: new eye-glasses, a replacement for my dying ancient cellphone, a piano bench to hide the unsightly pile of piano books, a new house (maybe).

Vegan diet - Sorry I stopped posting what I was eating, I really wanted to have a record for myself as well as share but I was so busy... and I didn't exactly stick to the PCRM menu though I do want to try some of their recipes. It was just easier to plan to make the foods I already ate or knew how to make than to try to add in several new recipes per week, so my menus would probably have seemed a little boring to you anyway.

Overall, I felt wonderful during the challenge. Not much change in my aching fingers, but I didn't expect much change in 3 weeks, and being stubborn, I refused to start creeping my methotrexate back up just yet.

What I didn't expect was what happened when I went OFF the vegan diet. The girls were home during a snowstorm. We ran out of almond and rice milk, so I used cows milk to drink and in my hot cereal. I made a fruit smoothie with honey and yogurt. Natasha made potato soup (milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, bacon - all stuff I had avoided for 3 weeks). We had a roast for dinner... and in TWO days I was having trouble getting up off the floor, I was achy all over, my hands swollen. Practicing piano was frustrating beyond belief with my swollen fingers that would not behave. The worst part was that it took me a few days to realize that the cause was adding back the animal foods, and I was genuinely worried because I had just had both my Humira and Methotrexate - those should have been my easiest days. I was very relieved when I figured it out. I relented and added 1 extra Methotrexate back weekly and after 2 weeks my fingers are about back to normal, no aches. Point about why I would like to eventually decrease is that the small difference between 6 and 7 pills a week and I have several nasty mouthsores. Oh they'll heal and my body will adapt, and obviously that was enough to return me to normal function, but it is not a kind drug, and not good for the liver either.

My plan is to stick at current med levels and continue to work out 4-5 days a week until I can walk or bike the neighborhood without having to climb a mountain of snow at every crossing. Once I've lost another 10 pounds I will talk to my Dr. about decreasing the meds again. I am also eating 12-14 vegan meals a week minimum and staying away from as much cows milk and dairy as possible in hopes of decreasing my body's inflammation response (again hoping for lower effective levels of meds) while still allowing me some of my favorite foods.

Tonight, several of us will be enjoying a spa experience, sipping wine and eating quality chocolate and truffles from the local confectionery. To balance, todays' meals (and probably tomorrows') will be all vegan goodness.

To come: House hunting, purging, Grace gardening, and more photography.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Days

I love snow days, having the girls home.

Only, I like them home in summer too.
School will now be extended until Friday June 11, which the girls won't be happy about. I won't really mind picking them up those extra days in milder weather and no worries about wind chills below -25, as long as this is the last of the snow days. Any more days off will interfere with camp & art class dates.

I know - I need to start adding more photos to my posts, wouldn't a nice photo of the drifted snow in my driveway be perfect to add just here? Not having the big computer working has been a hindrance as now I have to dig out the card reader, etc. - a few extra steps for just one or two photos keeps me from it. Now that the big computer is working again and I'm starting to play with my camera settings for my photography class, I'll have PS and the card reader ready for action all day. I really do need to think of a way to repay my Dad for fixing that for me!

So the girls are enjoying their extra days. A little piano practice, Natasha getting in a little extra review for finals postponed for weather, and babysitting tonight to make money to pay for guitar lesson books. Otherwise, yesterday was a pajama and video game day. Today, legos, piano, tents in their room made of blankets. Gotta love it.

Vegan Day 6 & 7

The vegan diet is going rather well. I don't think I've lost any weight yet as I really haven't changed my breakfast and lunches have not changed all that much. I can tell you though that I feel lighter on this diet. I had been hoping to exercise daily but with the early outs and getting back into the school/lesson schedule combined with snow days, I've only been 4 times. Not bad, but I'm working towards 5-6 days a week.

Yesterday I cheated (menu for the past few days to follow) while I was making a cookie plate for the rest of the family, and consolidating cookie tins. I should have asked one of the girls to do this because I ate a few cookies. It has been a whole week, after all, so I thought why not a treat for a mid afternoon snack? I had let the girls sleep in, so we had a LATE breakfast, so I hadn't had lunch and these wouldn't extra calories. Well, I ate one small frosted star cut-out cookie, one rugelach which is a baked flour/sugar/cream cheese dough filled with almond filling, and a grybaii - a soft orange gingerbread formed in a mushroom shape. HAD to have one of those.

Well, it was WAY too much. I felt heavy and overstuffed, like I'd eaten a brick. Won't be doing that again.

Menu Day 6
Breakfast: OJ and Hot Malt O'Meal for me, made with Silk. Instead of the usual brown sugar I stirred in 2 tsp. of Solo apricot filling leftover from a Christmas dish. Yum. Fast standby while I'm making pancakes and hot chocolate for the girls.

Lunch: I wasn't very hungry so I kept lunch light. 1 Navel Orange, Mango Tea (a black tea), Blue Diamond Almond/Rice Smokehouse crackers with 1/3rd avacado sliced and marinated in lime juice, a dash of olive oil and pepper. I usually add a sprinkle of salt too, but the crackers were salty enough on their own. I love the taste of the Blue Diamond crackers, except for the saltiness.

Dinner: Wednesdays are usually at church and I had been planning to pack myself a wrap, but when the snow canceled everything Rich wanted to pick up Chinese from our fave local restaurant. I had the Vegetarian Friend rice, which did have a bit of egg in it. Not alot though, and it was filled with more than enough bite sized vegetables: zucchini, mushrooms, peas, snow peas, baby corn, broccoli, water chestnuts, onion. I had planned on having a vegetarian egg roll from the freezer if I needed, but I had more than enough for leftovers too. Water to drink.

Day 7: A Snow day!
Breakfast: The girls slept in and I made them puffy pancakes (1 egg. 1/4 cup each milk and flour per serving in a hot pan with 1Tbsp melted butter for 2 servings).
Since I was up early to watch the school ticker I had time to bake an apple. I added a few Tbsp. water and a few dried cranberries to a tiny baking dish. I sprinkled the inside of my cored wrinkly apple (pickled locally last Fall and stored in the basement pantry) with cinnamon, and popped the dish in the oven for 30 minutes at 350. When it was cool, I chopped up the apple and stirred it into my Malt O'Meal, made with Almond Milk today. I like it better with almond milk. OJ to drink.

Lunch: Due to the late and slightly larger than normal breakfast, I just had an Orange and some pomegranate tea.

Dinner: Homemade Pizzas. Rich made a Taco Pizza for Natasha and I. I can't vouch for how vegan the tortilla chips were, but there were only a few. He left the taco meat and cheese of my portion, and the meat off Natasha's portion. crust, refried beans, lettuce, tomato and chips. Yum.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5

Day 5 Vegan Diet. Mostly good. I did take a bit of Mira's M&M cookie today, but that beats making hot cereal in the morning, absent-mindedly making it with milk as always, and not realizing it until later in the day as you search for the Silk or Almond milk. I think I did that 2 days in a row. It's just habit to grab that gallon of milk!

Kind of like when I play something new at my piano lesson - pay attention to the note, pay attention to the ingredients. Maybe my word for 2010 should be intentional, or aware! Nah - I still like Just Do It. Cliche maybe but it fits.

I have jumped in, and how. Todays schedule was so crazy busy that I still haven't read todays photo class lesson. Still, I'm about to do that and the day WAS productive after a calm morning playing with Mira. I had a bit of a longer workout too. My ipod shuffle ran out of juice almost immediately, so I was forced to watch HGTV so I stayed on the elliptical machine 14 minutes longer than planned just to see how the kitchen remodel turned out. Maybe I should just leave the ipod at home?

My meals for the day:
Malt O' Meal (hey, I like maple syrup flavor!) with a little extra brown sugar.
Orange. OJ.

Not hungry at lunchtime today so I just had tea and a bite of Mira's cookie. Trying to eat when hungry only, not just by the clock, though I usually prefer to sit and eat with Mira.

Starved after running errands and working out - ate several whole raw almonds. I keep a bag in the car - keeps me from buying a chocolate bar when I shop.... I love all nuts, but whole almonds take a little longer to chew than a handful of pecans, walnuts, or cashews. When I have those for a snack, I limit portions by taking a small dish to the basement pantry, filling with just a few of each, and then take my bowl upstairs. They still disappear fast.

Dinner: Soy/sake/lime marinated salmon for everyone else. Sigh. THAT was hard. Brown/wild rice mix made with a 50/50 mix of water and vegetable broth. Yum. Butternut squash (from my garden) peeled, chuncked, and tossed with a mix of brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and a little olive oil before roasting. Yum! Oh, and a few raw carrots, no dip.

Monday, January 4, 2010

January restart.

2010 has been a good year so far. How about you?

December 31 we stayed at home. We ate junk (some more than others), watched the Cyclones win the Insight Bowl, played video games, built stuff with legos, I worked on my December Daily album and scrapped several pages. Rather a good day if you ask me.

January 1. I hoped to scrapbook a page about my phrase for the year Just Do it - Jump In! (check out One Little Word). Didn't happen. Instead we all slept in. Late breakfast made later by the fact the girls wanted pancakes and Natasha and I are participating in the PCRM 21 day Vegan Challenge.

I'm doing it for my health - a lower weight may allow me to take lower doses of my meds. I'm looking at taking methotrexate and a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory every day for the rest of my life, neither great for liver function. I am decreasing doses with physician supervision and encouragement, but have only made it a little way and already my hands are bothering me. Many of you know how much I love butter, cookies, hot chocolate... these are exactly the things I need to cut out to drop my weight- even if only for 21 days. In the first 4 days I've managed to walk past the tins of Christmas cookies and have NOT eaten at least 8 cookies, probably more because of this challenge.

In addition, cutting out dairy and meat may reduce the inflammation response to lessen the need for arthritis drugs. I am under no delusions here as I prefer meds over pain, weakness and immobility, but if I could significantly reduce even one of the two lesser meds, so much the better. I don't plan on being vegan forever, but simply get back in the habit of eating less animal products once I have hit my goal. Natasha decided on her own to join me.

Natasha & I worked out at the gym. She has been wanting to go forever, so we added her to our membership. Talk about incentive! She'll go with me at least once each weekend, and we are going to try Yoga on Thursday nights. Afterward the girls helped me with a 500 piece puzzle, everyone played video games and Legos, we watched 2010. Natasha found it MUCH more interesting than 2001 A Space Oddessy: which she thought was 'annoying and borrrring'.

Natasha also decided to only be vegetarian and not vegan for the challenge. Giving up butter or sour cream on her baked potato was too much! If only she'd try a sweet potato...

January 2: A few church duties, a little sale shopping, and another workout with Natasha. Saturday's activities were much the same as New Years... there is now a giant Lego castle in my living room. The walled garden has a formal reflecting pool with a fountain. I want to move in!

Oh - I almost forgot - Rich and Natasha picked out Natasha's Bass Guitar! It's blue and totally suits her. She's already figured out the notes and has picked out Twinkle Little Star. Lessons start soon.

January 3: After church, a trip to Ames to watch an exciting/stressful Mens' basketball game. Dinner at Hickory Park where Natasha decided to be vegetarian for 21 days except when eating at Hickory Park because her only choice would have been the kids Grilled Cheese dish. Truthfully - it IS a BBQ restaurant known for it's smoked meats. I ate a side salad without the cheese and with a raspberry vinaigrette, a side of mashed potatoes without the gravy (ok, so it probably had milk), glazed carrots (a bit sweet), and cinnamon applesauce. No - Natasha does not like any of those foods.

January 4: School back in session and Sarah was the only one excited. I miss my girls!
Mira stayed home and cuddled with me most of the day as she had a very upset tummy. She thought she should still go to preschool because "They have a toilet there - I can get sick in that." Sorry Charlie!

Today was also the first day of my photography class. Both Missy and I are taking Karen Russel's 10 week online Photographers Workshop. Daily lessons, a weekly assignment - looking forward to knowing my d-slr camera better and improving my skills. Taking the class with my sister? A bonus!