Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nutrition Class

I started a nutrition class last week. Back before I had a child, I was always taking classes on top of all of my other hobbies. Then I had a kid, and purposely education took a backseat for a while. Actually, that's not true because I finished my CEBS designation while I was on maternity leave. Anyway, after a 4 year respite, I'm excited to be back at it. I have a Master's degree and am nowhere ready to buckle down to get a PhD (in what, I wouldn't even know!). So I'm taking this opportunity to explore WHATEVER I FEEL LIKE.

First on the docket: nutrition. I wanted to scare myself into eating better. Last summer I contemplated going to a nutritionist, and I even called around. However, I wasn't allowed to see a nutritionist. Why? Well, you either have to be 1) obese or 2) diabetic. I'm neither. At first I was frustrated about this injustice. Then I put it into perspective. I'm a reasonably smart person. I know that I eat too much crap. Otherwise, I do fine. If I could stop eating the crap, then I'd be in decent shape. Perhaps attending a nutrition class would scare me into avoiding the crap.

I was pleased to find out the first project was a food diary for 4 days. Using software you can calculate how many calories, carbs, protein, fruits/veggies, vitamins and minerals you have eaten. Then you write up a report on what you learned, and the next phase will be evaluating 5 other people's reports.

For the 4 days, I really did cut out most of the empty calories I usually eat. No cookies, cake or ice cream. My only sweets were a few hard candies made from brown rice syrup.

So what did I learn?

There were the duh moments: I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, almost 2x the recommended amount. I am a rock star in that area. I eat a lot of protein, which I knew. I struggle with gluten and dairy. I'm supposed to stay away from both. With gluten, that's fine because I eat brown rice and quinoa instead. But not enough because I still came up short in the grains department. Dairy is a cataclysmic failure. I do like cheese, but there's only so much you can or even should eat. The thought of drinking milk makes me nauseous. I don't like soymilk or rice milk either. Again, I struggle in this area and know it. Calcium supplements do not work well with my stomach. Dairy and I just do not get along.

There were the aha moments: Somewhat surprisingly, my calcium intake was only slightly lower than the recommended amount even though I avoid most dairy. What most surprised me was that my sodium intake was higher than it should be. I don't add salt to my food or eat potato chips/pretzels, so I suppose I thought that my sodium intake was low. On my rice and chicken/veggies, I do put teriyaki sauce. I eat fish, which seems to be a little bit higher in sodium. Cheese too. It adds up throughout the day. Typically I'm a big soup eater. On these 4 days I recorded, I stayed away from soup because it's hard to record. We had to record each part of the soup separately, and it's difficult to make sure you capture all of the ingredients and the precise measurements. So if you add soup to my already high sodium diet, I would be eating obscene amounts of sodium normally.

It was an interesting project. Later in the session we'll be trying to craft an "ideal" 7-day food plan. That should be eye-opening. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why I do not get along with jewelry

My birthday was 2 weeks ago. This is unfortunate birthday timing for many reasons, but most notably my husband has just gotten over the angst of getting me a Christmas gift and now feels compelled to get me something else for my birthday.

I say I don't want anything for my birthday (and Christmas), which I don't. Take me out to eat and make me a cake - that's all I want.

But he feels compelled to get me something.

This year he got me a bracelet. A pretty diamond and pink sapphire bracelet.

Well, you see, I don't get along with jewelry. By the end of the first day, the clasp didn't clasp. So the weekend after my birthday he took it back to get the clasp fixed.

Then last Friday (8 days after he had given it to me), I woke up to find a piece of it on the floor. Just a little piece of it - the right half of the picture below. The other piece was in bed. Apparently I had snagged it on the bedding and broke it. Not where the clasp is, mind you.

My husband wanted to take it back to be fixed again. Nice offer of him, and I do like the bracelet, but I think if I can break something in two different ways within the span of 8 days, it does not bode well for the future of the bracelet and me.

Alas, I asked him to take it back to get a refund.

The birthday gift before I sent it back for the second, and final, time

Friday, January 18, 2013


I've been up for an hour. Not sure why I can't sleep, as I have Friday off so it's a 4-day weekend for me. But I thought now would be a nice time to empty my head of randomosity and then try to get back to sleep.

Ballet update - I take back everything I said about ballet. It is indeed a very structured class - they have to enter and exit the ballet studio in formation, the parents are forced to wait outside the studio (which I kind of like), the little girls' hair has to be just so (which I can't achieve but I do my best). However, she likes it! She is really taking to the structured nature of the class. It helps that her best friend is in it. I even caught her smiling during the class. My daughter truly sucks at ballet though. She's as graceful as an elephant, just like me. I hope her heart isn't set on being a ballerina because it likely isn't going to happen.

Passion - Back in December, I did a training at work for about 50 people. I read the evaluations afterward, and by and large they were very positive. One woman separately wrote to the coordinator of the conference late in December and thanked her for the conference and said that my class was her favorite. She said that the trainer had so much passion for the subject. I've never thought of myself as someone with passion. On the contrary, I see myself as apathetic most of the time and wish that I did have passion. I thought a good goal for 2013 was to do more things that I'm passionate about, so.....

Writing - For the past two years, I have participated and finished National Novel Writing Month in November. As a side note, I was more proud of my 2011 project than my 2012 project. Aside from the subject that I trained about in December, my passion is to write and hopefully finish the whole process of writing a novel - ahem, including editing it and submitting it to a publisher once I'm finished. I've written out a loose plot, and I think I have something that could reach my 2011 Nano project pride and hopefully even surpass it. There's no reason to wait until November to begin. (Although will you give me credit for Nano 2013 if I write a novel in 2013 even if it's not in November or if I'm just editing in November?) My hope is to marinate on it through February and start writing in March.

Confusion - I think Facebook exists in my world to show me how I dodged a bullet in not marrying the guy I used to date. Was I that blinded by him? Or did he change? Or did I change? Combo? I really don't understand his constant pictures of guns, particularly the ones with little kids holding guns (that look Photoshopped, thank goodness). And he posted some rant after Newtown that I could not decipher. I think he's a complete whackjob now. I do know that he went to Afghanistan, and I think he's really became enamored with weapons to a far higher degree than the average person. And if I had to pick a side, I'm of the "let's sing kumbuyah and throw away guns" philosophy, so - yeah - that would have been a match made in divorce court.

Trust - A week ago my child's teacher was fired. I loved loved loved her. She was smart and perceptive. And kind of bitchy, but not to the kids. We got along famously because I like the smart, bitchy type. And she was good for my daughter. My daughter loved her and got to the point where she would playfully tease her teacher; she was starting to come out of her shell. And then Something happened. I would tell you what Something was if I knew myself. I've interrogated people, and all that I have determined was that Something wasn't physical abuse. She did Something that got her fired. But depending on who you talk to, Something was one incident or Something was of longer duration.

Of course, I know other parts to the story. My daughter's teacher didn't get along with one of the other teachers, and the current director is on medical leave and this other teacher is BFFs with the fill-in director. Yeah, I have my theory because I'm 90% sure of what went down, and the fired teacher's enemy nearly confirmed my suspicions today. Women can be brutal to each other.

We the parents were told last week to "trust" the fill-in director's decision. Sorry, don't trust the fill-in director. I've known her for 4 years now, and I've gotten horrible vibes from her. My husband overheard one horrible instance with her; I've experienced a few eyebrow-raising things. Yeah, I knew J's teacher had a bit of an attitude, but she knew her stuff and didn't let the other women deter her with nonsense for the 6 years she was there until the very end.

I have trust issues. It's hard for me to trust someone, but when I do (like my child's teacher that just got fired) I'm very loyal. I can't fathom that she did anything that horrible other than giving her enemy or fill-in boss some attitude, which was likely deserved since I know her fill-in boss and the Mean Girl in question. Sure, I know giving your boss attitude is wrong. She could have taken out her frustration in some other way. But if someone's determined to see you go down in flames, it's hard to avoid constantly being doused with lighter fluid. 

Catch ya later.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vacation vs. "Vacation"

The last vacation I had was in 2000. Here are my criteria for a trip to be called a vacation:
* Leave home for 3 or more days.
* Does not involve visiting family. (Hence, it is better classified as a familial duty/obligation.)
* Does not involve work.

My definition doesn't seem unduly daunting, does it? Well, my last vacation was seriously in 2000 - as in, our honeymoon. For the most part, I don't mind. I'm a homebody. I like my house. I don't like traveling that much. All that combined is a recipe for going 13 YEARS without a vacation.

Over Christmas break, I got excited about potentially going on our first vacation since 2000. I want to take a cruise to Alaska with my husband and daughter. It's will probably be about $5,000, which we can save and plan for...or even take it out of savings and pay ourselves back.

But I started feeling guilty. Actually I wasn't even feeling guilty about spending the money to go on a cruise. The guilt was about my husband's relatives on the East Coast. They've been asking us for, oh, 13 YEARS to come visit. They're getting older; they aren't going to live forever. It feels so selfish to take a vacation when we've been telling them that we'll go visit when J is older and when my husband got a more stable job. Well, J is older. My husband got a more stable job. I know what the "right" thing to do is. But it's not a vacation. It's a "vacation."

And the suckiest part? This dang trip is going to cost as much as the Alaskan cruise. I was liking the Alaskan cruise idea because we'd get out of dealing with cross-country airplane rides and rental cars and food expenses, etc. Now it's going to be a scheduling nightmare with plane tickets, hotels, a rental car (what about a car seat?), planning activities, coordinating visits with family, etc.

I'm sure S's family wouldn't want us to get a hotel, but for my peace of mind I NEED a hotel. I don't like spending the night in other people's houses, and I don't want to feel suffocated by 24/7 togetherness with family I don't even know.

This is such a scheduling nightmare that I'm regretting even bringing up my selfishness/guilt to my husband about wanting to go on a real vacation when we haven't made good on our promise to visit his family on the East Coast.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Interesting Things

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Interesting Things

1. What is the last movie you saw in a theater?  The Hunger Games…. it was last April or something like that. I like watching Netflix and movies from the library so much more because it's on my own schedule.

2. How old were you when you had your first kiss? Aside from junior high party games, I was 15 years old, my first real boyfriend Shane.

3. Share the coolest thing that you’ve done so far in 2013. I won $50! 

4. What kind of cell phone do you use? Do you love it?  iPhone 5.  No, I don't love it. It crashes a lot, but it's faster the 3G that it replaced.

5. How many times do you plan to workout this week? 4 or more.

6. What is your favorite movie from the 80′s? Footloose.

7. If you could choose one character from a TV show or a movie to fall head over heels for you, who would it be? I always had a thing for Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) on Family Ties.

8. If you could eat one food everyday for the rest of your life without gaining any weight as a result, what would you choose?  Cheesecake

9. What is your favorite flower? Nada. This is kind of like when my daughter asks me my favorite dinosaur, but with her I make up something (like pterodactyl) and then she reminds me whenever I we see one that it's my favorite. Can I just admit that I don't like flowers instead of pulling the name of a flower out of the air?

10. Did you watch the Golden Globes last night?  Nope. I fell asleep at 7pm, then woke up at 10pm MAD that I had missed Downton Abbey.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The WTF post

The last 36 hours have been weird, as in I yelled "WTF!" and not the abbreviation at least 5 times. Yesterday was my birthday, but that wasn't the weird part. However, it is a potentially bad omen about the year to come.

I would love to write a long, rambling blog post, but my mind is too full to even coherently process the craziness. Nothing is wrong me or even my family. It's other people's chaos and tragedy. Also, it's that a lot of various themes I have talked about recently here that are unrelated to each other have dumped down around me in the space of 36 hours.

I will share one of them, the one that makes me pause and, well, just pause.

I started at the organization I work at over 12 years ago in a different department than I am now. Back then I was in my early 20s, just married, and the adopted daughter of every 50ish or older woman in the department. I was friendly with everyone but I had a "best" friend of the 7 women. The two of us had a deeper relationship. With the others, it water cooler talk and I knew their kids' names and their vacations - stuff like that - but it wasn't any deeper than that. 

I moved on to my current department 10 years ago. It's a smaller department. I am close with 2 of the 3 women - probably to a greater extent than even my "best" friend in the previous department. I'm still close with the my "best" woman friend from the previous department; it's just that I don't work with her anymore on a daily basis so that closeness gently faded a bit.

Today one of the women from the previous department comes up to my office. Not my "best" friend from that department, but she was one of the water cooler women from 10 years ago. I still run into her in the halls occasionally, but she's on a different floor and really quiet and not the type to come out unless she has to. So I only see her if I'm on her floor and run into her while she's en route to the mail room or the bathroom. When I say occasionally, I mean I have a 3-5 minute conversation with her every three months or so. I usually ask how her grandkids and her husband are doing and get an update. Her husband got moved to assisted living about a year ago. The extent of our conversations is exactly that, and she rarely asks how I'm doing. Which is fine because I'm uncomfortable with answering that vague question of how I'm doing after I haven't seen someone in months.

So when I heard her come into the area today, and then she came into my office, I thought she was stopping by to say hi while she was en route to somewhere else down the hall. As in, this would be our 3-5 minute conversation since the last one happened in October. This one's just in a different location since she's actually on my floor instead of me being on her floor.

She sits down in front of me and says, "You have been my good friend for all these years..."

Good friend = 3 minute conversation every 3 months for the past decade?
But I was pleasantly surprised that she considered me a good friend.
Yet nervous for what was to come.

"My husband is in hospice now. They don't think he's going to live for much longer."
Oh no.
"I just got diagnosed with cancer."
"They don't know if it's spread. I'm going to have a CT scan done to see if it's spread next week."
Oh my God, what a nightmare.
"I just wanted you to know."
More condolences.

She leaves my office and goes out the main door. So she came up to my floor with the express intention of telling me and then going back to her spot on another floor. She wanted to tell her good friend -- me -- that she's going through a really, really tough time.

If I had to name my top 10 friends at my work, she wouldn't be on it. I mean, I just don't see her. I like her just fine, but we really have nothing more than a passing acquaintance, particularly in the last decade.

So I sit in pause at this information. I'm shocked. I'm concerned. I want to help.

In so many ways, I'm lost. I don't know how I'm supposed to help. Go talk to her? Take her out to dinner? Write her a card? She and I have never done anything away from work together before. It's obvious she doesn't have a large social circle because, well, she came to me. I don't know if she's told her department. I could ask my good friend from my old department, but it's not my place to tell her business. My reason for even talking to her department would be so that I could know if there is a plan someone else has generated to help support her while she goes through the next few months. If there isn't a plan, then I guess I'm solo and have no idea where to even begin.

Have no idea.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BFF vs. Many Casual Friends

I just finished reading a book entitled MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. It was about a newly wed woman who moved away from her friends in NYC and was trying to find a Chicago-based BFF. She had been in Chicago for a few years, and she knew a number of people there already but hadn't found a BFF that compared to her NYC BFFs (I apologize for all of the acronyms). Her 2010 New Year's resolution was to go on 52 "girl dates" to try to find a new BFF. In order to get to the tall order of 52 different women, she ended up writing an essay that was published online and checking out platonic "girl dating" websites (I didn't know such things existed) and even girl speed dating after tapping out her existing resources.

As I've stated through the years here, I have been off-and-on the hunt for girlfriends. I have a nice assortment of girlfriends that I can call up and go do things with - playdates with the kids, specific concerts, amusement parks (well, only one person I know likes to spin upside down like I do) and specific movies. But I just don't think I'm the BFF type.

I think BFF requirements are to have semi-meaningless conversations via text, phone, in person, etc. I suppose my husband is the closest thing to a BFF, but I don't even usually bore him with the minutia - unless it's entertaining.

Throughout the book, the author learned some things about herself and her relationships with women that she worked on trying to correct. For instance, the author realized she interrupted up people a lot and then switched the focus to herself. She did it to create a connection between her and the other person (look, we both did _____!), but she realized that it could be off-putting and came across as being a poor listener.

The author did cite research about women friendships and the qualities necessary for them to succeed. I assessed myself to the benchmarks and realize that my strength of the four qualities is definitely follow through. I do follow through on the plans I make & keep those commitments. Unless I'm puking or have a fever or I cannot leave my driveway due to no child care or snow/ice, I do exactly as I say I will. Unfortunately, it comes back to bite me because I get disappointed when others don't have that same follow through. My patience for excuses ("I'm tired," "I have a cough") is rather low. My additional weakness is that I'm poor at self-disclosure. When people ask me how I am, I say fine. Even if they are friends. Then they ask, "What's been going on with you?" I honestly can't remember (how far back am I supposed to go?), and I want to say to read my blog if you want to know what's up with me.  I completely suck at coming up with the Reader's Digest version of my life on the spot. Perhaps I need to rehearse a witty paragraph about the past few months of my life and say it to anyone who asks.

I'm not sure if I said it here, but this past summer one of my summer goals was to connect with 8 friends that I hadn't seen in a while. I contacted each one with the hope of doing some activity together that we mutually enjoy (mostly eating, but there was exercising with a few, going to the casino with one, going to a movie with another, etc.). All said yes, and all of the "girl dates" were fun. Some were taxing to organize because you bounced back messages approximately 102 times to nail down a specific date/time/activity. But that's how it goes sometimes.

I'm more than willing to widen my social circle. I've considered volunteering more and/or joining clubs with the side effect of hopefully meeting more people. I've orchestrated playdates with the kids I like in hopes that their parents are just as nice (they are!). But am I looking for a BFF in the traditional sense? Probably not. That's just not me.

What I really enjoy about the friends I have is that they are about as emotionally needy as I am, which is low. They, for the most part, don't do traditional BFF stuff with me. We don't go shopping or talk on the phone for hours. If they see something I will like or I see something they would like, we get it for each other or send links to upcoming events, etc. When we do get together, we do talk about feelings and thoughts and ideas - but it's usually relegated to that time we're together or maybe a few follow-ups via e-mail.

Back to the book. While the author didn't get a technical BFF by the end of the book (sorry for the spoiler), she made a lot of connections and realized that she and these fellow women connected over various different things, and each one was a unique relationship that may or may not last over the long run.

One thing I found very refreshing was how annoyed the author was at flaky people who change their plans 34 times, often with vague excuses. I wanted to say, "Amen, Sister!" to that.  She and I both scored high on follow through.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Simple Questions: FMM

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Simple Questions
1. Outside my window I see…grass, other houses, a view of the water.
2. My kitchen counters are…gray/black/green granite.
3. Yesterday I drank…water and tea.
4. My cell phone is…an iPhone5, haven't completed the bonding process yet. It seems to crash a heckuva lot more than the 3G did.
5. My computer is…a Toshiba laptop with awful speakers.
6. My favorite reality show is…Apprentice and Undercover Boss. I love the business shows.
7. My workouts are…mainly elliptical lately since I just got the replacement elliptical in the mail a few weeks ago.
8. The last book I read is…Ann Rule's latest. I love true crime.
9. My week will be….same ol'.
10.  So far 2013 has been…same ol'.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The gateway to eating disorders and bad feet

My version of fun when I was a kid was reading books until Arsenio Hall was on, do the arm circling motion with a "woof woof" (WHY did we do that?), hope Arsenio was interviewing Marky Mark or someone equally delicious, and then playing Solitaire on my 386 computer until 2am.

Actually, I consider a good night about the same thing now although we have better technology now.

My extracurricular activities back then consisted of reading, board games, computer games, and a quick stint as a cheerleader because, for some completely unknown reason, I'm pretty good at cartwheeling and propelling myself around on my hands (even now), fairly strong, and would do anything that gets me out of PE.

My list of "things I never, ever want to do" back then was quite long. It still is. Toward the top of that is ballet. Why do I have a beef with ballet? Likely it's because I never had the body type for ballet once I became a teenager, and I had the sense to realize that any attempt at it would end in abysmal failure. If you asked me back then why I had a beef with ballet, I would have told you it's the gateway to eating disorders and bad feet. I still stand by those two claims, but if I'm completely honest, I know ballet would want nothing to do with me, so I would reject it before it had any chance to reject me.

Ballet makes me cringe. I went to the Nutcracker once (not my choice) and, while I could appreciate those girls who looked like they were in a Robert Palmer video with the slicked back hair in buns and their leaps across the stage, I just didn't get the whole ballet "thang." Those poor girls look miserable, like they really need a good meal. I just want to feed them a yummy lasagna.  I didn't really understand why they prioritized spinning their very skinny bodies around on their toes in barely nothing over eating. Or maybe a few ballerinas can actually eat 3 pizzas between them, but I think we all know the truth. I don't have a ballerina mindset. I never will.

So when my 4 year old girl told me that she wanted to go to ballet class, I crinkled my forehead and sighed after I turned my head away from her. I know it's all about the tutu. The damn tutu is alluring, isn't it, to a little girl? (It wasn't to me, but I wasn't a normal kid & I don't think we had tutus for little kids back then. Or I blocked it out.) It could also be peer pressure because little girls' conversations tend to revolve around princesses, dancing, Disney crap, and the colors pink and purple.

Yes, I hate ballet. But my daughter has held up her part of the bargain. Back in August we had a plan: she would do soccer, then swimming, then ballet, and then tumbling. Somehow we survived soccer. Swimming wasn't too bad because this session, as opposed to a year ago, she actually went into the water (not that she did what the teacher said - she just looked at him skeptically for four weeks - but at least she got into the water). So we are onto ballet in our extracurricular sequence that involves only one extracurricular activity at a time so as not to stress out Mommy too much.

I dutifully signed her up for ballet. It starts on Saturday, January 12th in the morning. I think vodka should be involved since I'm already twitching. If I put vodka into a water bottle, no one will know...

This ballet class is labeled as beginner for 3 and 4 year olds. Now I kind of think ballet for 3 and 4 year olds should involve loose-fitting clothing. Kind of like what you would wear to a Zumba class if you wanted to hide your body (like I would). But noooooo, this is like the military ballet. Hair must be put into a bun. Must wear a leotard and tights. Must have PINK ballet slippers.

Why? They're 3 and 4 years old. I have been trying to find PINK ballet slippers in her size with no luck unless I want to spend $22, which I don't. She has a hand-me-down purple leotard, but I don't know if a purple leotard is okay. Her hair is too short to get into a bun. AAAAGGGGGHHHH!!!! This stuff stresses me out. I want my kid to fit in and not be ostracized for being a freak, but on the other hand I don't want her to be a sheep in the military ballet.

This is why I want to make a recording and play it on repeat while she sleeps: "Chess club. You want to join the chess club."