Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Favorite phrases.

So there are a lot of phrases I've heard or read over the years that just thrilled me in how they were delivered.

But as Schlock Mercenary has just delivered a new one I figured I'd point out two of my favorite ones of his:

"Crazy, Jilted, Angry, Witch Warship"

And

"She is Mistress Para Ventura, Our Lady of Chrome."

I've enjoyed Schlock Mercenary daily since about 2001 when I first stumbled across it.  Its one of my favorite comics and worth reading all the way through despite the horrendous art at the beginning just because you can see where he started from and how incredible the improvements have been.  Also his story lines have always been good.

Some other favorite scenes:

http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2004-10-31

http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2006-11-28




Friday, December 14, 2012

Random Thoughts

'Cause my brain is unwilling to form coherent ones at this moment.

We bought a new bed. It's one of those memory foam ones, very nice, very glad it was on sale (cause otherwise we wouldn't have been able to get it). I'm eagerly waiting for tomorrow because I don't have to wake up at five. I can wallow in the sheer awesomeness that is my memory foam bed.

I hurt my knee. I did weights yesterday and forgot to stretch and roll on my foam roller. Bah.

11 days until Christmas. We've gotten all the gifts but I need to send some out. They might be New Year's gifts instead at the rate I'm going.

My brothers will be flying into town soon. I'm very excited since I haven't seen them for over a year now.

The Hobbit was released today. We're going to wait a bit to see it. My patience for dealing with long lines has dwindled. I must be getting older.

My house is messy. Must clean it before Christmas Day, especially since Damm's parents will be here on the 26th and I work that day. And the rest of the week too. It's not too bad, actually, for working in retail. No weekends.

And that's it. Have a lovely weekend, and don't get caught in the madhouses we call stores.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


To Whom It May Concern:
                We are writing to you on behalf of our concern for our football team and financial funding.  Both of us agree on the fact that all the money spent on a horrible football team is complete and total nonsense.  I sincerely hate to be this blunt, but our football team sucks, we(French_Party_Girl and Dammerung) are from the south and we practically worship the institution of football, and this team is pure blasphemy.   
                And yet, in light of this painful, depressing abuse of our finances and souls we, and we mean institution, continue to strip our academic fund to further defy all sanity and sense.  Ah, hell, in for a penny in for a dollar; since we are robbing from academics to pay for the football team, let’s go further and whore academics out on the corner.  Why not allow students who pay for a season ticket to the football games get an auto “A” in the class of their choice, and tailgating should be considered extra credit?  I mean if we want to water down our academic reputation let’s skip the middleman of slowly draining the funds from the classroom and just go straight to devaluating what the grades mean.  And at least this way; students can get a small measure of pleasure from their dollars fruitlessly flowing onto the cold hard facts of football in our State.  We will fully admit that if we could pay for an A in a class, like our finances given to this institution pay for a spot on the Division 1 lineup, we would do it in a heartbeat.  If getting a 4.0 were as easy as losing a football game, sign us up!
                Unfortunately there are a great number of kind souls who still believe in teaching and education in general and such an excellent proposition is probably just enough to finally drive them all the way past 5 O’clock happy hour and straight into the hard liquor.  To save them and their livers we have an alternative:  We keep our hapless shrine to futility and just move the campus so that it encircles the football field so at least the students can effectively use the copious amounts of parking around the stadium that currently goes un-used because it’s so far from the classrooms.  This also benefits both our Division 1A Football Participants and our students.  Everyone can agree more available parking is a plus, and this way our stadium is physically as well as financially the center of our University.
                No, no…. we should probably stop there.  Despite still feeling immense reservoirs of emotion for this subject it is time to be constructive.  So we have a request and a suggestion. 
What is the strategic reasoning behind pulling the funds from the University Academic budget to shore up a football team that no one watches?  It is unlikely that Our School will ever be among the powerhouses of football and it is only the most prominent programs that make any kind of profit off of football.  If we are so eager to be good at a sport why not pick one where it’s likely that we could become known for it?  We recognize that there might, somehow, be possibly a reason for this that makes sense.  We just want to know what it is.
Why not take that money and invest it in efforts to improve the scholastic standing of our university?  Maybe further opportunities for our nursing and medical programs; or more funding for the engineering labs, capstones, and internships?  Family housing on campus in a large part looks like a refugee camp, we could refit those perhaps?  Or stop taking the money from academics and take a page from West Virginia’s book and sell alcohol at the games as a fund raiser.  Heaven knows the tailgaters have enough drink just outside the stadium to drown a fish; it’s not like anyone going to the game isn’t being exposed to the liquid we toast so proudly in our fight song.
                Anything is better than depriving our University of funds for actually teaching.
                Lovingly full of concern,
                French_Party_Girl and Dammerung
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
This was submitted as an opinion piece to my school newspaper.  It sadly didn't get published.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Papers from this semester.


The Winter War:
Russia’s Invasion of Finland, 1939-1940
by Robert Edwards

I picked up this book over the summer of 2012 as a supplement for a board game I was playing with my father-in-law.  I was looking for a book to read that would expound upon that game’s coverage of the battle of Tolvaj√§rvi and the Winter War was the most professional looking copy on the NOOK.  This book met and exceeded my expectations.  It was engaging and detailed without becoming a dry boring husk of a history book.  I eagerly devoured the contents of the book as it has a natural flow and a good pacing in the ordering of events and I appreciated how the author took the time to set the stage thoroughly and enjoyed every chapter.

Edwards starts his book with a description of Finland in 1938 as it has finally won the struggle to pull itself out of debt and into the modern economic world and is preparing to host the Olympics.  He sketches the Finnish political scene and all the major players who would have an effect in events throughout the book.  Then he begins to paint the path to war.  He covers European diplomacy and military readiness at the time of the war and the demands placed on Finland and its attempts to reconcile them peacefully while preparing for a war they were not prepared for.  Once the war starts he discusses both sides command and logistical situations and documents how the actions during the war changed them.  The war itself is covered in chapters four through 12 but these chapters do not just discuss the military maneuvers.  They also document the Finnish pleas for assistance and the reaction of the civilian populations in Finland and surrounding countries to the war.  The last chapter is dedicated to the outcomes of the war and the Russian Finnish Treaty of 1939 is attached as an annex. 

The scope of this book is very thorough.  It covers the Winter War from it’s pre-war diplomatic beginnings in 1938 all the way through the beginning stages of Fenno-German cooperation in 1940.  The war itself only lasted 3 and a half months, but it changed Finland forever.  At the end of the war “Finland’s economy was in smoking ruins; over 25,000 of its people were dead and many more were injured or dispossessed. It lost 11 per cent of its territory and 30 per cent of its economic assets”[i], and this was actually the best possible result of the war after the shooting had started.  Edwards states up front how devastating the war was but as you go along through the book you realize how much worse it could have gotten and how amazingly good the horrible results actually are.

Additionally, the book discusses the domestic politics that existed in all the major players in this war as well as the diplomatic players in the prewar conditions, France, England, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Finland, Italy, and the US.  The lives of the soldiers who fought the war as well as the effects of this war upon the politics of Europe are well covered.  The logistical issues that both armies faced and a discussion of the strategic and tactical moves by both sides are present.  While the book does not get in-depth on any one particular battle it does take time to fully describe all of the battle zones along the length of the combat.
There are no ‘points’ to this book but Edwards does take care to describe how the Russian actions in this war helped set the stage for German-Russian and Fenno-Germanic relations in the next five years.  He shows how Germany used their notes from this war to underestimate the Russians and how the Russian actions helped drive the Finns into the German portfolio of alliances.
Like I mention in the opening paragraph I was not very deeply versed in Finish history before reading this book.  I had heard of Finnish snipers but I had never heard anything more about the Finns other than a cursory understanding that they fought the Russians during the second World War.  I never understood before how any democratic freedom loving society could support the Nazi regime.  Now, because of the scope of  Edwards’ book I feel I have a solid grasp on the events leading up to the Winter War and the effects on the coming world war that followed.  In particular he was able to highlight the inability of the allied powers to be decisive on any form of policy in the pre-war years, the desperation of the non-power nations and how very clearly the big countries discounted the little ones.  While I don’t think this has changed much throughout history it was interesting to see exactly how upfront they were about it at the time. 
They showed a boggling level of arrogance about the need for the Finns to allow Russian troops on their land, for Finns to dismantle their defenses on the Finn-Russian border and to give up land.  Stalin stated “Russian demands were ‘minimal’ and also the ‘very minimum’ and therefore haggling over them was pointless[ii]  Hitler stated: “…the demands Russia has made upon Finland, so far as we are aware, are reasonable [iii] and went on to say in effect “well at least they didn’t take as much as they took from Estonia and Poland so you should be happy to give it up”.  It was very eye opening to me exactly how open the Germans and Russians were of their intentions to annex areas around them, I had always imagined them taking the rest of the world by surprise.
Another area I was enlightened about was the role of communication and leadership in winning a war.  The Russian army certainly was physically capable of communicating between its varied elements but was as an institution criminally inept at passing on information and agreeing on maneuvers.  The septic poison of fear left over from Stalin’s purges crippled the Russian officers as they started the war and the effects of this leadership void cannot be over stated.  On the Finnish side they were not afraid of making mistakes and this confidence bled over into all of their actions and allowed them to successfully frustrate their enemies superior forces.
The author was a Wall Street analyst for twenty years and contributes to the Daily Telegraph in London according to what little information I could find out about him on the internet.  When I searched the Daily telegraph website I was unable to find any references to him as a contributor.  So I do not know how much about his scholarship accolades but I do know his bibliography list in the book contains over one hundred and forty books so I can imagine that he has successfully done his homework.  I am perturbed by the lack of information on him and wish the book had included a small blurb describing his background and credentials.
In the book he states that his goal in writing this book was:
“…an attempt to account for the necessity of such a policy, and to explain how it came into being—to examine the attempt made by the Soviet Union on the last day of November 1939 to effectively annexe the territory of Finland by invasion, why they failed, and to introduce the reader to some of the consequences.[iv]
It is my opinion that he succeeded in his intent completely.  After reading his book I discussed the war with a few others who knew details of the war and every time the details matched.  Granted this is not the most rigorous of confirmations but I am not a historian either so this level of follow up will have to do.
Once again I repeat that this was an excellent book and worth recommending to anyone whether they are a history major or just someone looking for a great story of a nation overcoming impossible odds and facing down an implacable enemy. 



[i] Page 13, The Winter War
[ii] Page 72, The Winter War
[iii]Page 75, The Winter War
[iv] Preface, The Winter War

Friday, November 30, 2012

What the doctor gave me: Duac Topical Gel

I feel as if I've run a circular race. I went from carelessly using products regardless of ingredients to extreme crunchiness and now I'm back again, although my use is not careless, it's desperate. And it's working, so I'm no longer desperate, which is a good thing.

Anyway, the doctor (or rather nurse practitioner) gave me a sample of Duac Topical Gel (prescription only). It contains Benzoyl Peroxide and Clindamycin Phosphate, which apparently is antibacterial. Here is more info on the product itself. Go to acne.org or any website connected with the face for user reviews. It seems to be a polarizing product: either you love it or hate it. So far I'm on the love it side.

Now, I'm only using it as a spot treatment. My face was getting better; I had finally mastered the urge to try and fix it. My secret? Leaving concealer on all day (although I did wash my face after work because of all the dirt). That way it didn't look as bad. I'm also off almost all the vitamins I was taking; not because they weren't working but because I was trying to stop focusing on the issue. I think my real problem is stress (although I'm eagerly awaiting the blood test results) and spending so much time worrying was definitely not helping.

So, spot treatment. Very good. It is very drying, so moisturizing is an absolute must. I shudder at the thought of using it all over my face; it's hard enough keeping the small area I use it on moisturized. I wash my face with Cetaphil, use Witch Hazel as an astringent, apply the Duac (only at night, way too drying to use in the morning), apply my L'Oreal Revitalift cream, wait a bit, apply jojoba oil. Right before bed I apply jojoba oil again. In the morning I use Cetaphil and the Revitalift only.

From what I've read this is a short-term fix. For some people it continues to work, for others their skin adjusts and it doesn't work as well. Since my skin was never that bad (although I thought it was) and I think the underlying issue was stress this is ok with me. It will reduce stress levels. And once Damm is done with the never-ending cycle of school and has a job I think most of our remaining stress levels will die down. And I will no longer need harsh products. I can go back to being crunchy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Finally got it over with.

I went to the doctor. It's been six months, the adult onset acne I've been dealing with has not completely cleared (although it's a lot better) and my mom is convinced that my eyebrows have started to thin out. So I went in yesterday and waited for an hour and a half (should've brought a book). The nurse practitioner was very nice (although I could tell our opinions on exercise differed when she recommended getting 30 minutes a day of cardio) and ordered a hormone test, thyroid test and also a diabetic test. I was surprised by the mention of diabetes; it doesn't run in my family and I am, for the most part, pretty healthy, but hey, why not rule it out. I didn't mention that particular test to my mom, though, because I think she would've flipped out (she doesn't, to my knowledge, read this blog) and I don't think I have diabetes, so no need to worry her. 

So right now I'm trying to pass the time by typing this up. It's blood testing day and I can't eat or drink anything. I'm ok with the no eating but the no coffee? It's been hard. Damm was very helpful and left "no eating" signs around the kitchen and also a "no coffee either" sign on the coffee maker. Usually I would have no problems remembering but I've had a weird sort of brain fogginess going on (which is why she wanted to run a diabetes test) and I've forgotten things I don't usually forget. I'm not too worried about it because stress can also cause forgetfulness and that has been an ever present companion so far and some of the forgetfulness is due to changes in schedule and that does tend to throw me off a bit. I like my routines.

So in a week I'll have my results. The only one I think might come back with actionable results (i.e. I'll need to be medicated) is the thyroid one. We'll see. Happy hump day:)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Shopping Day

And also Happy Thanksgiving. Did you eat too much? I did, although it's one of the few days that I don't care how much I ate. Still, I ate too much. It was all too yummy AND my mother went all out on the gluten-free idea and every single item served was gluten free. No stomach pain this morning. We are happy.

Now I'm off to make sure customers are happy and well taken care of. Then my mom has shopping plans, small ones, and I suspect it won't take long since we're not going to any of the major stores. Then Black Friday will be over and normal Christmas craziness will begin (thank goodness).

Have a good shopping day! Save lots!

Friday, November 9, 2012

I simply don't care right now.

I was going to write about what annoyed me this election. Both parties did it, both parties have done it since our Founding Fathers first orchestrated our governmental system, and they will continue to do it. They will continue to demonize the other side. If one side wins, THE WORLD WILL END. If the other side wins, WE'LL JUST HAVE TO MOVE. AMERICA WILL FALL.

Guys, I'm tired of that. I didn't meet a Christian who was a Democrat until I reached the ripe old age of 21. Not my parent's fault, they taught us that all are beloved by God, but I grew up in the South. Democrats were obviously evil people (totally joking, although this was the impression that I got). It's not something I ever thought about, until I met this Christian Democrat and found myself unable to process it. I've come a long way since then, although I won't vote for a Democrat because most (though not all, just like there are some Republicans who support it) support abortion, and that's my line in the sand. But different people have different lines.

I'm also tired of being told that the other side is obviously un-American, that they have no clue what they're doing, that they're driving this country into the ground. We don't have to agree with the other party. That's why they're a different party. I do think, though, that we should respect the fact that they are also Americans. Many of them love this country passionately. And if it does fall we'll build it again and hopefully learn from our mistakes. I don't think that'll happen, though. We've got a wonderful check and balance system in place. No one party should ride roughshod over the other.

I'm also annoyed that people aren't thankful that when their party loses they're still able to complain about it. They're not hunted down for voicing contrary opinions or silenced. And in four years we'll be able to vote again. And four years after that. It's an awesome thing, people. Just look at the nations around you. Not everyone votes against the winner and lives to tell the tale.

But right now I simply can't care. Between consoling family members and discussing this at work I'm wiped out. Maybe next week.

Have a happy Friday!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wait, which came first?

Burning Crusade or Wrath? And how does Cataclysm fit into the story? And how the heck do I find Mt. Hyjal? And where is Dalaran?

Needless to say (if you have played the game, if you haven't I just typed gibberish) I had forgotten quite a bit. My fingers remembered how to play; I was logged onto Wulfa and a little snake tried to bite me and I responded instantly, if a bit clumsily. I leveled to 85 after teaching the snake some manners, at which point I felt somewhat overwhelmed by all the hunter changes and we decided to create new characters. That lasted two nights and then we both felt the urge to get back to our original characters.

Damm has been having fun with Affliction. Apparently he can one-shot targets and this fills him with glee. I am over the moon with the priestly spell Devouring Plague. I vaguely remember getting it but I don't think I ever used it. I logged onto to Beowulfa and looked at the recommended spell order (pure genius, whoever thought of putting that up, although I had already come up with a similar rotation) and it was included. One-shot, anyone? What's funny about Beo is that she was still geared in my purples from BC (I think, I'm still fuzzy on what happened when). I switched out the last of them last night. My new clothes are nowhere near as pretty (/sigh).

Wulfa is fine. I still have the same pet I trained as a new character (Boru, a cat from the Night Elves starting area) and have never really felt like playing with any of my other pets. I'm waiting for Damm to catch up so we can do some instances. Once we do that, I have the suspicion we might just need to upgrade because it feels rather pointless to just sit there. Plus the pandas look cute.

Happy Monday everyone! (You see the exclamation mark? Did it uplift your spirits? I was hoping it would motivate me but it didn't. Still want to be asleep. Bah Mondays.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Meal Planning=Ickyness

We (drum roll please) are going to reduce our food bill by 1/3. Yay! Awesome! We're going to save soooo much money! Oh wait, how am I going to do that? What am I going to cut out? How do I keep our diet healthy?! My solution: go to Google. In this case, I don't really like what Google says.

You see, most sites list menu planning, or meal planning, as the most important thing you can do to save money. I don't like menu planning. It's boring. It limits my creativity. It puts me in a box. And it can help me achieve my goal. Bother.

So I've written down a basic outline of meals based on what we currently have. We stuck to it this week (with a Taco Bell exception) and I'm pleased with this small success. On to the next week! And on to planning my shopping list! And here's where I run into a problem. I've calculated what I can buy this upcoming week. I've written down where to go to get the best price. I've done this before. And guess what? I walked out with stuff NOT on my shopping list. How do I achieve success this time? The only thing I could come up with was to shop without the kiddos, because my attention is too easily diverted when they're with me. We'll start there.

Here's my menu plan for the upcoming week:

Monday-Salmon patties with homemade bread (Sams sells salmon patties for a reasonable price)
Tuesday-Chili (vegetarian)
Wednesday-Tacos (with beans from the previous day's chili)
Thursday-Sandwiches (homemade bread)
Friday-BBQ Chicken
Saturday & Sunday-Sandwiches (homemade bread)

Lunches are sandwiches or quinoa with vegetables. Breakfasts are oatmeal or cereal (or pumpkin bread if I motivate myself to make it). You will note that this diet is high carb; my low-carb diet is out the window at the moment. I'm still tracking my intake and hope to keep it around 200 grams. We're also not Paleo. I can't afford the grass-fed beef and super-healthy chicken so I don't want to be consuming copious amounts of the inferior product. I will try to purchase organic fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market and I'm thinking I might start making leaf teas for the kids to drink in place of milk. In a weird way I'm excited; I can't magically increase my salary but I might be able to increase our available income by managing our food intake better. I won't be making my own cleaning or skin care products (I'm done with crunchiness for now) but I can reduce what we use right now.

Sounds fun, right? Right. I will have fun. I will stick to a plan. I am motivated. I still don't like meal planning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And we're gamers again.

And we're back to playing WoW again (we haven't actually logged on yet, spent last night downloading stuff). We don't have the expansion yet. Maybe for Christmas gifts. We're not sure what we're going to do in-game yet and it's been fun to start planning. I think it'll be good for our stress levels to take a step away and disconnect from reality. And I've re-written this paragraph two times; who would've thought saying "Yo we're playing again" would be so hard? Maybe it's the lack of caffeine? But I always use that excuse. Anyway, we're looking forward to logging on tonight or this upcoming weekend. I've laid down strict ground rules: no playing when kiddos are awake (we don't have enough time with them as it is) and no playing when there is homework to be done. So ends this awkwardly written little snippet of news (seriously, I stare at the page and think "ick! I can't write! I have no thoughts!").

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Throwing in the "crunchy" towel.

I'm done, you guys. It's been four months since I started on my natural, chemicals are evil! experiment and I just don't have the time/money to pursue it farther. I would rather buy organic fruits and vegetables for my kids and hold off on other items til Damm has a steady paycheck (to which he replied, "oh, so you're telling me to not get a job as long as possible?" haha funny)

This also means that I"m done with trying "natural" products for my face. Fortunately for me the zinc cream I bought just last week was the highest priced item I bought that I probably won't be using in the near future; everything else still has a place in my routine. But, and it's a big but, I've gone back to salcylic acid. It wasn't completely preventing facial issues but it was doing a much better job than anything else I've tried. And if I hear "your skin is purging itself!" one more time, even if it's true, I'm going to hit something. So what I'm doing right now is: Neutragena Oil-Free Acne Wash (I think, it's in the bathroom and it's such a looong ways away) with grapefruit something or other. Then I use Witch Hazel as an astringent/toner, then I apply a spot treatment of salcylic acid, and then when my face is dry I put jojoba oil on it. This routine, combined with a tremendous effort on my part to not touch, has already cleared up most problem areas (in under a week). In a week or so I'll be going back on Vitex* (I had stopped as an experiment to see if it was really doing anything and I think it was) but on a much higher dosage than before. If you don't know, Vitex, or chasteberry, is an herb that helps to regulate female hormonal wackiness. If you want more detail google it, you'll end up with way more information than you ever wanted.

Although I'm done with crunchiness for now, and relieved to be back to Herbal Essences and body wash (the natural stuff just didn't work the same and I never got used to it), I am grateful for the journey. I found out that gluten does nasty things to my stomach, at least for the time being, and that I can live without carbs (great for weight loss). I have some natural remedy tricks up my sleeve now and I also have started buying loose leaf herbs and making my own teas (I love doing this; just be sure to do your own research before buying and mixing). And soomeday, when I'm not working 40+ hours (at least this month; when you walk into retail stores and see all the beautiful holiday displays think of me), I think I'll try crunchy stuff again.

*Remember that I'm not qualified to give medical advice and that before taking anything you should consult with someone who is.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Newest facial experiment: Zinc Cream

I've settled down a bit. I'm actually waiting several weeks after trying a new product to see what happens, rather than deciding that TWO WHOLE DAYS is plenty long enough for a miracle to occur. I had been contemplating trying zinc on my face (I've been taking a zinc supplement as well) and went ahead and bought some. It's a tinted mineral formula that I bought at our local coop store. Unfortunately, the brand name was on the box and I threw that away, but I'm pretty sure there are several zinc creams out there. Take your pick.

Pros: Because it's tinted it reduces the redness and signs of scarring. It seems to be keeping my face clear, although I still have some problem areas. Really my favorite aspect of this stuff is that I can put it on and my face looks almost clear. The box did say it could take up to two to three weeks to completely clear the skin so I've still got a ways to go. We'll see what happens.

Cons: The box indicates that the cream is fragrance free but I can smell it, a very slight sulfur aroma (it contains 4% sulfur). I'm not sure whether or not others can smell it as well; my nearest and dearest haven't commented so I'm hoping it's only noticeable to me. I also have noticed that painful bumps aren't going away as quickly as they do when I use my Aztec Healing Clay.

Conclusion: Still reserving judgement. As I've mentioned, I really do like the tinting effect, and I think I see a difference in the quality of my skin. That being said, I've gone back to using Aztec Healing Clay on the painful areas at night (I put on the cream in the morning). I'll give it a few more weeks to see if its worth keeping up the routine.

And there you are. Remember, I'm not a medical anything so don't start dosing yourself with zinc inside and out without talking to your doctor.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Because you should laugh really hard today.

Damm sent me this link and as soon as I started reading it I started laughing. Enjoy.






***Warning: some of them may be offensive/disturbing to you. I still think you should read it, but just so you're forewarned.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The working mom vs. stay at home mom debate is stupid.

We were reading an abridged version of The Christmas Carol. The Orclette asked me, "Momma what did the kids do for fun?" and it occurred to me: our children are so very blessed to live now. In Dickens' day children from impoverished families had to work, had to go into dangerous situations in order to survive. The rich were slightly better off but I do wonder how much time they actually spent with their parents. It was, according to popular belief, the era of "seen but not heard".

So why is the debate stupid? It's stupid because, in most cases (I'm assuming here that if you can afford the internet and the time to peruse it you have some sort of cash flow), the people who argue for either side are able to take care of their children. The children aren't going hungry, they're able to go to school and they're reasonably safe. They have a shot at a successful life. In most cases their parents really do want what's best for them. And instead of utilizing their energy trying to figure out a solution for the many mothers who can't feed their kids, who are watching them slowly starve and who live in fear for their lives, the proponents of the debate snipe at each other. Very smart. Good use of time.

It is my opinion that you need to do what's best for your family, and no one is able to tell you how to do that (contrary to the "it takes a village" belief, although extended family is quite nice). Every situation is unique. Our situation is unique. I subscribe to the SAHM (stay-at-home-mother) side of things yet I'm currently working full-time. It's what we have to do.

Anyway, that was a thought and I felt like sharing. And saying something was stupid. It was cathartic.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How the mighty have fallen.

I've read some serious literature in my time. It was unavoidable since my mom was an literature nut (I wish I could post some of her stories and drawings; when I first saw them it was the first time I remember thinking that my mom wasn't just a mom, she was awesome!). I read Uncle Tom's Cabin, the full version, when I was in fourth grade (I think I was nine or ten). Soon after that I decided to read Don Quixote since it is considered to be the first modern European novel. I can see why people tried to improve upon it (sorry, Grandpa, I know it's one of your favorites).

When I was approaching my twenties I decided to read War and Peace because I thought it would be cool to casually mention that I had read it, since so many non-literary people seemed to be in awe of anyone who had read it. I found out later that many literary types have also read the book, and since I live/work/breath around literary types this feat isn't quite as cool. Oh well. I've also read many other works of literature (my mom was working off a reading list Harvard recommended) and I frequently would wander off into a tangential interest. For example, having read Shakespeare I simply had to read the Greek tragedies and comedies and all about the lives of the men who authored them.

This weekend, however, I spent some time in a field of writing (note I did not say literature) that I had previously avoided: the Harlequin romance. It was free on my Nook and I was bored and not wanting anything serious. My first book (there were a total of five, I think) was not to bad. I think it was called An Inconvenient Duchess. Decent plot, decent writing, not too graphic in the love scenes. The rest went downhill in quality and yet I continued to read them, thinking that surely it must get better. No, no it did not. In one the feisty lady takes over the duel fought in her honor and brings the bad boy who had been trying to label her a slut to his knees. Her action was convenient since her chosen man abhorred firearms and didn't really know how to shoot one. He also didn't like to ride horses, never swore nor indulged in bits of libation. Wonderful, yes?

I think I'm over the Harlequin romance now, fortunately. I'm ready for more serious writing again. Damm has asked me to read On Combat so I'll start to muddle through that.

Happy hump day!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hi.

This has mostly become Wulfa's place as I've dropped off the face of the earth.

I'm struggling.

I have focused my efforts on improving myself and stretching myself past the boundaries of my previous efforts.  My goal is to be an excellent engineer and army officer while maintaining time for my family.

This isn't as easy as it sounds I guess.  Most of my problems are time management.  When I'm honest with myself I realize that I spend way too much time standing around talking or trying to multi-task and wasting my time... no substance, full of sound and fury but no teeth.

Every time I feel like I have advanced closer to my goal I immediately find myself in the same old failing place.

When I left my job to start this second college career I was in a bad, but blissfully unfeeling place.  I played video games a great deal more than I do now, and wasn't even really aware of how bad my health was.  I was in many ways a happy fat little goat chewing grass and unconcerned by anything outside of my pen.

Now I am in much better shape, a lot sharper on my knowledge and know I can go a LOT further on less sleep, time, food and money than I could back then.  Am I any happier?  In some ways yes, in others no.

At my old job me and Wulfa could go out to eat pretty much when we felt like it and after other than M-F 8-5 I was free to spend time with my family.  I owed no duty or time to anyone else and had no implied self study tasks.

Now I see Wulfa for maybe an hour each day during the week, and when I do I'm usually busy trying to get something done.  Our conversations are usually short, concise and consist of one of us giving the other one a list of things that need to be done.  When we have time to go on dates we feel guilty for asking her parents to watch the kids again as they already see the kids for 30-40 hours a week while Wulfa works full time and I try to finally get finished with this.

Am I better off?

Have I made the right decision?

Is it better to struggle for improvement or to contentedly watch life pass by from the porch?

Peace?  Or Passion?

The Great Coffee Experiment ....

... has failed in an epic way. You might remember that I was going to give up caffeine? I didn't even last one day, since my first day was a Friday and that's the day I allow myself to have one diet soda. We like Coke Zero, which has caffeine. The next day we went to the Farmer's Market and it just isn't right to perambulate around the festive stalls without a coffee in hand. Besides, my dad offered after I begged him to pay. Then on Sunday Damm and I went on a date and we went to the local used bookstore and how can one go to a bookstore without getting coffee? It just isn't right. Seeing as how everything I like to do has some sort of coffee ritual tied into it I threw in the towel.

All is not lost, however. I noticed that I don't feel well after two cups. It was an enlightening moment, and I decided to follow the guideline set by my body and limit myself to two cups, or at least not to continue drinking coffee when I start feeling slightly sick (because I have been known to do that). I have been doing really well on the tea side of things, however. I've got some tea rituals going as well. I like to brew two bags of green tea with one tablespoon of raw honey, pour it over ice and take a big jug with me to work. At night I drink two cups of spearmint tea (it's supposed to calm down hormonal acne). I'll even drink different kinds of tea throughout the day when I want something warm but don't want the caffeine. I'm quite proud of me, even if I do feel like a traitor to my former coffee-swigging self.

Of course you'll want an update on my face, which is the reason I decided to try ditching the caffeine in the first place. I recently upped my dosage of Evening Primrose Oil to 3000 mg from 500 mg since several sites recommended that dosage for acne (it's the high end of the recommended dosage on the bottle). Now, remember I'm not a trained professional so don't take EPO based on my advice. Ask your doctor, do your research etc. I'm fuzzy on whether females need to only take it during certain time periods; it's used as a fertility booster and it seems that it you take it after ovulating it could screw with something. I'm not sure what, I didn't really read through that part since I'm not trying to make myself fertile. I also have made an EXTREME effort to NOT TOUCH MY FACE. It's hard, really hard. I really dislike leaving the house looking like a hormonal teenager. I've noticed, though, that what experts say is true: if you don't touch your face the chance for spreading the acne love is greatly reduced. I have also, in addition to the not-touching and EPO, been leaving spot treatments of Aztec Healing Clay on overnight. I was concerned it would dry out my skin but so far so good and it really does work. I'm very pleased.

So, things are looking good. Hopefully soon I'll feel comfortable enough to start gravitating back towards a more natural skin care routine (I'm not really happy to be using Cetaphil but it's doing the job) and hopefully I can reduce the amount of vitamins I'm taking because my system won't be out of alignment. It probably would have been faster to go to a doctor and have tests done but I'm leery of doctors. I have yet to find one who doesn't want to put me on meds, and while I'm perfectly fine with taking meds if I really do need to I didn't feel this was a case of need to.

So, happy Friday everyone! And I can truly mean that since I can look forward to my two cups of coffee in the morning.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I want to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. On second thought, maybe not.

I used part of my vacation time to re-read some of Laura's books. I started with The Long Winter and found myself wanting to be back in that time period. They grew everything themselves, worked hard, played hard and knew the value of family (at least according to Laura). I read These Happy Golden Years and found myself really wanting to be a pioneer girl.

Then.

I read what happened to Laura's family after The First Four Years, and it isn't pretty. Mary never married and lived with her parents until their death and then lived with her sisters until her death. After a short stint in De Smet (after the events in The First Four Years and a disastrous stay in Florida) Laura and Almanzo moved to Missouri and it seems like they didn't have the chance to see her family again (at least according to Google, that's as deep as my research went). They had only the one child and she never had living children; she did have a son but he died soon after birth and it devastated her. Carrie married late in life, no children; Grace married earlier in life but also had no children. Ma and Pa Ingalls stayed in De Smet, South Dakota but never became prosperous farmers. He did various jobs around town, and although it seems like he was highly respected they were not well off. Only Laura and Almanzo seemed to gain a measure of prosperity and it was years into their marriage; the Great Depression later wiped out their savings. They did retain property and then Laura's books began to sell, giving them a steady source of income. *I am not footnoting. You can find this information on Google simply by googling it.

Ok, it doesn't sound quite as sad when I write it down but it was sad when I was Googling everyone. They seemed so close and then everyone went so far away and endured so many personal tragedies. I also think that Mary probably wouldn't have gone blind if she had lived in our modern age and maybe the Ingall's little boy wouldn't have died (he lived to be nine months old and was born between Carrie and Grace).

So.

No, I don't want to be a pioneer girl. When you left family you frequently left for good and I don't think I could stand that. The life was hard and fraught with uncontrollable variables. There was a good chance part of your family would die, either in childbirth/infancy or just around the farm. Yes, they were self-sufficient but at what cost? What understanding could they have of the wider world? What books did they have access to? Is subsistence living, as described by Laura, really a good thing to long for? No, I don't think it is, and I bet Ma and Pa Ingalls wished their girls had had a better shot at life. It seems Laura didn't want to live the farmer's life, didn't want to become her mother. Rose, her daughter (sorry if you're confused by the characters, but really, you haven't read these books?) went even further and became a world traveler with plenty of money.

And with that, please note that one of my childhood bubbles has been popped. I always did think of Laura's life as perfectly lovely, and now I see just how hard it was. Maybe I shouldn't re-read anymore childhood favorites, I'll completely disillusion myself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cutting out eggs. Adding Cetaphil.

Would you like to read my supplement list? Yes? Ok, here goes:

In the morning:

Alive multi-vitamin (this doesn't make me want to throw up after taking it)
Probiotic
Fish Oil
Vitex

In the evening:

A complete vitamin-B
Probiotic
Fish Oil (for both the fish oil and probiotic I am taking the recommended dosage just spread out over the course of the day, not doubling up)
Evening Primrose Oil

I also have been drinking/eating Diatomaceous Earth (the non pool-grade kind of course) (yes, it's gross). I've thought about adding in some other acne-fighting supplements (because my face still doesn't look like it used to) but I'm leery of adding more without consulting a naturalist/naturopath/whatever they're called.

Have I seen a difference? Yes I have, but I have these little, I mean tiny, flesh-colored bumps on my face. They just stay there. And I have no idea how to get rid of them. I don't think they're milia, although they could be, and nobody seems to have any other suggestions as to what they might be and how to get rid of them.

So, I'm going to start experimenting again. Before I decided to do that, however, I decided that I really needed to stop stressing about my face and that maybe I should try a very not-natural product. It was weird, thinking about that. It's like I was betraying a cause. I even compared it to my experience with Miniorc during the mastitis and thrush-I sooooo wanted to stop, to use formula, to end the pain, but I couldn't. I knew that was not the right choice for me or for him so I soldiered on and eventually it stopped hurting. That's when I decided I was taking this whole natural skin care journey way too seriously. So I bought some Cetaphil. And yes, it works. Most of the flare-ups I had disappeared, although scarring remains. Deep sigh.

So, experimentation: when perusing Google it seemed to be a consistent thing that dairy and sugar cause acne. It was also mentioned that in some people caffeine, yeast, gluten and eggs exacerbated acne. I've cut out dairy, most sugar, some caffeine, gluten and yeast but I'm still eating a lot of eggs. Could that be my issue? I'm inclined to think that maybe it is, and I'm hoping it isn't just wishful thinking. My issues did appear around the time that my egg consumption increased dramatically; I went from eating none to four per day. I had also attempted washing my face with honey and that also might have done it (that's when the little bumps began to appear and my face went wacko). So, who knows? But I'm burned out on eggs (they've been my breakfast staple for two, three months now?) so it won't hurt me to cut them out. It will hurt me to cut out caffeine but I'm going to try it. For two weeks. I have some decaf coffee so I can simulate my morning ritual and I have a well-established tea drinking habit now. Still, things might get ugly.

And how is my vacation going you ask? Very well! We've gone to the zoo and to our local agricultural museum and I've spent a LOT of time cuddling with them and reading (mostly to myself, but some to them). Tomorrow I plan on cleaning (because I haven't done anything, really), and then who knows? I'll probably be lazy the last three days of my vacation.

Happy Friday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

A freeze-out.

At 3:30 p.m. today my vacation starts. A wonderful week and a half of relaxation time. We're not going anywhere, we're just going to be. And I decided something, totally spur-of-the-moment. I am freezing my brain.

No more perusing blogs for the latest skin tips or ways to equalize hormones (I feel like I'm a teenager again). No more worrying that I'll never have clear skin again or be able to tolerate gluten. I shall be free of the internet (for the most part).

I will continue to use my Dr. Bronner's tea tree oil soap, lavender witch hazel and jojoba oil. I will continue to eat gluten-free. I will cut out chocolate to see if that helps and continue to avoid dairy. I will joyfully exercise. I will sit on the couch. A lot. I will play in the sunshine with my kids. We will inventory our Christmas supplies (oh yes, we're thinking about it). I might organize a room or two. Watch a t.v. series. Re-watch LOTR. Re-read Harry Potter.

It will be epic. Hopefully I'll come back from this experience re-charged and raring to go because the Christmas season is upon us and I'll need to be in top form. Hopefully the hiatus from worrying about everything will be just what my skin and body needed to recover.

We shall see.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Attempting to de-stress. And stressing about it.

It's amazing how much work it takes to de-stress oneself. You have to remind yourself to relax, to take deep breaths, that you can't spend hours agonizing over those details and that you need to think calming thoughts. I don't typically have calming thoughts. I think about running or lifting weights or the latest science fiction book I'm reading or how to improve my productivity at work or how to maximize my kid-time. Not exactly calming thoughts.

BUT I have taken steps. And I stuck to my de-stressing plan all day today. I only had two cups of coffee. Two. I drank decaffeinated green tea the rest of the day. I passed up a diet soda. I bought a relaxing tea and drank that in the evening (I'm a yoga-loving tea-drinking hippy now. Sigh.). I have also purchased probiotics and diatomaceous earth. The earth stuff tastes nasty, by the way, in case you were wondering, but it's supposed to be beneficial in clearing up skin and digestive issues so I figured I'd give it a go. In a couple weeks or so I'll let you know what I think.

In addition to the extreme step of reducing my coffee levels I have also reduced my dark chocolate intake. We eat the 70% or darker stuff so I wasn't too concerned but it has caffeine AND it was getting to be an expensive habit. Right now I'm trying to stop myself from eating more. It's calling to me. Maybe if I pretend it's diatomaceous earth?

I fully intend to add yoga into this mixture. There's nothing quite like the feeling of total relaxation I get after doing a session. It's better than a runner's high. The problem is that I like to do yoga in an atmosphere of peace and quiet and that happens never at my house. Maybe when the kids are older?

So how do you de-stress yourself without stressing out about it? I'm all ears.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A (Almost) Perfect Sunday

Pajamas on all day. Overcast and then rain, actual rain. Kids contentedly playing in their room or snuggling with me. Coffee and chocolate. Warm blanket, cushy pillows. New season of Burn Notice on Netflix. Perfect, perfect day.

I'm still having warm and fuzzy flashbacks. It's been that long since I've relaxed that much.

The only detractor was that we missed church, and that's not something I like to do. On the other hand, we spent the entire day together with no commitments, nowhere to be. The kids were loved on. We felt revitalized. And while I still feel very strongly that believers do need to gather together, I also think that, every once in a while, we should disappear on the weekends. Hole up, don't talk to anybody except your family. Just be. Rest in Him and enjoy what He has given you.

So maybe my Sunday was absolutely perfect, no qualifiers necessary.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sometimes I want to retire.

I love my job. It's where I need to be. It's keeping us afloat during Damm's time in school and has reduced the overall stress of our lives. But. Those days when I'm at work all day and then I meet Damm somewhere so we can have an actual conversation? Or I meet a friend? And then my hours with my kids are reduced to two or three, and they're cranky hours because they're tired, I'm tired. And I just want to retire.

I have to remind myself, though, that my job is a God-thing. I wasn't going to apply, didn't think I was brave enough. But I heard that voice, felt that nudge, knew that I needed to apply. I knew I was going to get it from the beginning. So I have to trust that my kids will be ok, that my prayer of my time with them being doubly meaningful and valuable has been heard, and that they won't remember the days when momma was gone so much. And I also think how good it is that I have these moments of sadness, because it reminds me that I really do want to be with them, that I do want to treasure these moments. And I need reminding. I think all mothers and fathers do.


So, treasure your little ones. Value every moment, even the ones where poop didn't make it into the toilet or sleep wasn't gotten because someone decided it was a good night to cry. Don't worry about tomorrow, don't wish they would grow up faster. Find the blissful moments in today. I'll be reminding myself to do the same thing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I have nothing new to read.

This is a rather tragic occurrence. Due to my job I am surrounded by books, by book dust, by people who love books. Maybe it's overload? Whatever the case, there is nothing new right now that I'm tempted to read. I did think about reading the new Pittacus Lore book ("The Rise of Nine" I think) but then I heard that P. Lore is none other than James Frey, infamous writer of "A Million Little Pieces" (The Wikipedia article says nothing about him writing the series so my information may be unsubstantiated. I'll do more searching and report back if he didn't write the series).

If you don't remember, and it's not a big thing if you don't, James Frey was featured on Oprah. For a while there anything featured on Oprah became a major bestseller, we would sell out, the warehouse would run out and it became an absolute nightmare. Then we'd have plenty and everything would be good, the angst forgotten. Anyway, James Frey pitched his book as a non-fiction title. Turns out it wasn't non-fiction. He made large parts of it up. Didn't stop his book from being a bestseller. It does make me not want to read anything he reads, though, especially since he's very anti-religious and a "self-proclaimed atheist" (so saith Wikipedia). I could tell, especially in the second book. Nothing positive to say about religion, Christianity in particular. (I didn't finish the second book.)

Besides that there was Bill O'Reilly's kid adaptation of his Lincoln bestseller. Looks interesting but I'm not really in the mood. And what else? I really can't remember. Political books are coming out in droves but that's not my thing either. I know who I'm voting for, even if I'm not happy about the choices. So, blah.

Now I have read some books, not new, that are worth mentioning. "Redshirts" by John Scalzi is pretty funny (it's fairly new). I went back to Anne McCaffrey's Pern series but decided I don't really like the ones her son collaborated on, even though the writing is crisper and the whole thing flows better. Too much free love going on without any consequences. I'm re-reading Lauren Willig's latest Pink book, "The Garden Intrigue". I've also read some teen books and am appalled by the morality expressed in them. It's ok to sleep around, consider abortion, get pregnant at a young age, etc, all without feeling the need to form a lasting relationship with the one who you're fooling around with. No consideration that perhaps you need to keep your legs closed if you don't want children. Sex is apparently a necessity, something that everyone is entitled to. I say hogwash. Don't do it if you aren't prepared to accept the consequences. There are toys to tide you over, or you could just practice self-control. Which is another foreign concept in these teen books. There were other sticky point but these are the ones I remember. I don't relish going back through the books to find the other things.

So what are you reading? Any good suggestions?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

I got impatient. Honey is awesome, but honey draws out impurities. I wanted to know when the impurities would stop. I've changed diet (i.e. the whole Paleo/gluten-free thing), I've tried to reduce my stress levels (yoga! when I have time!) but my face wasn't looking like I wanted it to look. And when I was browsing the health food store and saw this item I decided to try it. A huge tub for $7, why not? Maybe it would be the fix I needed.

First usage I wasn't that impressed. Like many products, there is a transitional period with the clay and the next day my face wasn't looking much better. I waited a few days then tried again. Much, much better. I washed off the stuff and my face looked reborn. Now, I said that about the honey (and then it all went south) as well so I'm still being cautious in my praise, but right now, after having used it a total of four times over a two week period, I really like the clay. I'm going without makeup finally and have had relatively few problem areas. You can also use the clay as a spot treatment, which I have done, although I've found it hard because it isn't easy to put just a little dab on. Oh well.

BUT be warned: the packaging says that you can feel your pulse in your face. This is true. I would also recommend putting the mask on at a time that conversation isn't necessary since it hurts to open your mouth. I can only stand having the mask on for five minutes but you can go up to fifteen. The tub said only to do the mask once a week but several sites recommend using it more often, and some said to use it every day. I think it would be too harsh for everyday use but twice a week is working for me.

I'm still washing my face with Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Soap and using the Witch Hazel as a toner. I also am still using jojoba oil as a moisturizer and I'm really happy with it. Maybe I've found my natural skin care routine at long last (it's only been a month, month and a half but it feels much longer).

And as always, remember that I'm not qualified to give advice of any kind. This is what worked for me, it might not work for you. Proceed at your own risk, seek professional advice, etc.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Life happens. Food happens. Even to a former anorexic.

One thing I have had a very hard time coming to terms with in my recovery from eating disorders is that life happens. Even when it comes to food. I'm still not entirely ok with it. I am that person who, at family gatherings (or other food-related events), will bring her own food or eat beforehand. I don't make a big fuss about it, I just quietly do my own thing (unless people start teasing me. Then you're in for an earful as I explain why I'm doing what I'm doing). I will avoid certain social gatherings because the food won't be acceptable. And it's not even a downer for me. I'd actually rather not go.

But I don't want to be ruled by food like that. I have cultivated a long-term view of health (for the most part) and I have proven to myself that I can make adjustments, I can compensate when the day has been bizarre and long and tiring and you really just want Mexican food. It's hard, though, to maintain balance, especially when I'm constantly rating my relationship with food. Did I eat because I had scheduled it? Was I driven by emotion? Did I not eat enough and was I actually needing food? Do I feel the sudden need to run several miles? Or slash calories tomorrow? Do I want to punish myself? Or am I ok, and eating the food was normal. Normal. What is that? What do normal people feel like after eating? What does it feel like to not count calories?

And yes, I think about stuff like that. In fact it's pretty tame compared to my thoughts when I was in the midst of the eating disorder. I consider myself healed now, and I won't relapse (God is truly my strength in this area) but some behaviors and mental thought patterns remain. Will I ever be free of these? I don't know. In some ways I think I'd be afraid to let go completely, since it's what I'm comfortable with and venturing into new territory frightens me. I might know for certain I won't relapse but the fear is still sometimes there.

I also wonder what might have been different if I hadn't gone through an eating disorder. Would pregnancy have been less crippling? I did not find my pregnant self beautiful. It horrified me (I am NOT referring here to my beautiful children, just myself). Could I go with ease to social/food gatherings? Would the immense amount of attention I paid to food been used to fuel a spectacular hobby? I don't know. On the flip side, I did learn things from my eating disorders. I can exert enormous willpower. It's not enough, my complete inability to stop disordered eating proved that, but I can do almost anything once I decide to. I can endure pain (the blessedly brief cutting period and multiple tattoos proved that). I have staying power. And, more importantly, I have immense compassion for those who suffer/have suffered from similar issues. I know how powerless one can be, how you can't even see how thin you are, just how much more fat you need to get rid of because fat is the enemy and is to be feared above all. Even more importantly than that I know the horrible fear can be stopped, that a healthy relationship with food can occur*. I couldn't do it on my own, but God was never far from me and He gave me the strength. And one day I started eating healthfully. And the next day. And all the days after that. And food lost its power over me.

To tie this whole monologue back to my first paragraph, I'll tell you that I'm writing this because yesterday was the day that was bizarre and that need a Mexican food ending (most of the food was gluten-free, albeit carb-heavy, so I wasn't going too far off my chosen diet). And I was slightly anxious. And needed to remind myself that life happens, and that food no longer rules me and that it's ok to sometimes eat outside of my schedule.

I'm still bringing my own food though. It's not you, it's me.




*There is ALWAYS hope. Never forget that.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Measurements!

We started, or I should say I started, the whole diet change about a month ago. Weight loss wasn't my primary reason for looking into Paleo, but it is a nice side benefit given that I had a few extra pounds to spare. I will also mention, for those of you who are interested, that my diet is not what a purist would consider Paleo. I've added gluten-free bread in the mornings and occasionally other forms of carbohydrates scattered throughout the day. My average carb intake is 150-175 rather than 125-150.

So here we go:

My weight one month ago: 130
Waist: 28"
Hips: 34.25"
Leg: 22"
Arm: 11"

My weight now: 128.2
Waist: 28.25"
Hips: 34.5"
Leg: 21.75"
Arm: 11.25"

What's interesting is that even though the measurements went up slightly in the waist and hip area my clothes are getting looser. Maybe I was measuring wrong? Anyway, even though weight isn't the best thing to track weight loss (sounds funny, doesn't it, but it's true) I was thrilled to get below 130 pounds. And my biceps are bigger! I was hoping for some sort of increase given that I can do pullups now (one at a time, but still, I can do pullups!)

Damm has also experienced success. He's down to 183 from somewhere in the 190s. He lost a lot of that by going to training this summer but he's kept it off this time rather than gaining it back once he returned to a more normal setting.

You might remember that we did Insanity a couple years ago. It was another time of pretty cool transformation. At the end of it I weight 130, waist was 29.5" and hips 34.5". This time I got there through diet alone, and I must say, it's been an easier journey. No burnout at the end:)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Workout Overload

It's been an interesting week (and it's only Wednesday ...). Sunday we went for a 4-mile hike up in the mountains. It was hard, my legs were shaking and I loved every minute. Monday, however, stuff started hurting. I had done some lifting Saturday but didn't finish so Sunday morning, not really thinking about our upcoming hike, I finished the workout I meant to do. After the hike everything was fine, maybe a little sore, but definitely manageable.

Then the fatigue set in. I'm not used to fatigue; since switching to low-carb/primal/gluten-free I've felt awesome. Tired at the end of the day but my job is physically taxing. I expect it. But Monday, wow, I felt like I was falling asleep standing up. Damm took mercy on me and told me to go to bed early, he had the kids. I got a full eight hours of sleep and felt fine Tuesday. I debated working out that night but ultimately decided against it. My muscles were still a bit achy and my left elbow hurt a bit. To make matters worse I've felt a bit depressed this week and I had a bad reaction to cucumbers so I also was in a bit of pain.

So ... maybe I've been pushing too hard? I don't feel like I have. I workout maybe four days a week in addition to my job, which is eight hours of constant movement with a fair bit of moving heavy things around. This is tame compared to previous eras in my life. Maybe I'm getting older (almost at that thirty mark:), except that reason won't fly in my family. My mom can keep up with and even surpass me in our athletic endeavors.

So I'm thinking of taking it easy this week. I don't want to; I'm still excited about finally being able to do pullups and I want to increase the number I can do. I want to work on my pushups. I want to try new leg exercises since I'm limited in the amount of weight I can lift (don't own a barbell at the moment). Years of injuring myself have made me a bit wiser, though, so I will be hitting the yoga mat instead of pullups and my foam roller instead of pushups. Bah humbug.

Have a happy Wednesday. And go lift some weights.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bugs for breakfast.

The Orclette has a voracious thirst for learning.


Yes she is wearing makeup. We had a special event to go to. Doesn't she look darling?


"Can we do school momma?" "When are we going to do school?" "Momma I haven't done school today!" are heard frequently in our household. Do I love this attitude? Yes I do. I love learning; I love buying shiny new notebooks and writing notes in them. I love connecting data and coming to conclusions. I love delving deeper into subjects and finding out if the teacher knows what he's (or she, that was a random choice) talking about. Now my daughter is following in my footsteps; she loves notebooks and pencils, she likes doing workbooks and projects equally and she has frequently asked me "Why don't you know that momma?" When I informed her that my area was history, she asked "Can you tell me about history?" Hehe. Where to start.

A couple mornings ago she found a book about bugs and started perusing it. She would ask me what each bug was called, how big it was and what it did. Some of the bugs were pretty icky looking and I admit it put me off my breakfast a bit. I tried not to let my aversion show because if bugs turn out to be her thing I don't want to stand in the way of it, but I really was not prepared to be inspecting pictures of bugs before the sun came up. Then Miniorc woke up and joined the party, and they "found" more bugs, which of course they had to show me. And I experienced a moment of joy, that my kids hadn't been damaged by the hours of t.v. they've watched and that they can still enjoy a book that doesn't flash or make sounds. And I was reminded that sometimes I just need to slow down (what?! I only have 30 minutes to prepare breakfast and lunch!) and look at bugs for breakfast, because it only increases their appetite for learning when momma is also interested in what they've "found".

Hopefully, though, she won't become interested in arachnids because I'm not sure I could handle that. /shiver.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

And now I'm on the gluten-free bandwagon.

I suspect, although I don't know for certain, that I'm currently gluten-sensitive. Not intolerant, because I can still eat the stuff, but I definitely notice a difference in how I feel and what my skin looks like when I do indulge in foods with gluten. And that's pretty much as deep as I'm willing to delve into the whole gluten issue; I wore myself out researching the Paleo lifestyle and I don't like the feeling of jumping on and then jumping off a bandwagon. I don't even mention, usually, that I'm eating gluten-free because if I do choose to eat pizza I don't want people thinking that people with Celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten can handle it like I do.

I first looked at the whole gluten issue when I had my pizza encounter after one week of eating Paleo (it was interesting to note that Damm had a very similar experience, even though he was eating more carbs and more variety than I was). Apparently the alleviation of symptoms, in some cases, followed by a recurrence of symptoms clued people into the possibility of a gluten issue. Some of my relatives are gluten-sensitive and have had success following a gluten-free diet. I've completely cut out gluten for a couple of weeks now (with the exception of pizza night) and I feel awesome (and that's really the only way to determine a sensitivity/intolerance, by cutting out gluten and seeing how you feel). My skin is looking better and I have actually lost those last five pounds. I no longer suffer from any internal distress, and I no longer feel as if I'm a size larger after I eat food. Whether or not cutting out gluten was the reason I'm going to continue doing what I've been doing. Maybe I'll actually get to what I consider my "fighting" weight to be (120 pounds, in case you are curious).

The only drawback to the whole gluten-free thing is that I'm no chef. I can do eggs, nuke a potato and ask Damm to grill the chicken but I have no culinary aspirations beyond that. I'm content with that, but I suspect that Damm might need a bit more variety, especially since he's not following a gluten-free diet (just a lower carb one). I have relatives who are able to look at a pantry and come up with something edible; I just see separate ingredients. There are websites, of course, with plenty of recipes, but I usually lose steam after going to the grocery store. I did once make Vodka Pasta. That's as adventurous as I get.

On a related note, I am still successfully doing pullups. My next challenge for myself is to do one-arm pushups (that might take a while) and to find a nice barbell set so I can actually challenge myself while doing squats/deadlifts. I'm definitely in a minimalist phase of strength training; do some pullups, some pushups, deadlifts/squats and some core work using my suspension system and I'm good. A big change from the isolation exercises I was doing.

Anyway, happy Tuesday. Lift something heavy. You'll feel better. At least I do.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Oh these lazy days of summer.

What? Who gets to have lazy days of summer? Definitely not us. It's been crazy. Then again, for the past four years it's been crazy. We look back on our Missouri days and marvel that we could have been discontented with the amazing lack of stress or anything to do, and then we remember how bored we were.

Not bored now, I can assure you.

Damm and I have been getting up at 5 a.m. every morning, he to work out and me to work out/prepare food for Damm and myself (kiddos don't require extensive prep time at the moment) and get ready for work. I'm gone for eight hours at a very physically taxing job and then I catapult myself back into the current chaos that is our house (we're rearranging, always fun). School will start in a few weeks and Damm is working when I'm not since his job is project-dependent and they don't always have hours but they have plenty right now.

The good thing, though? I don't have homework. I'll still have dreams occasionally about homework (and they freak me out) but that stress is done with, for now at least. I'm going to enjoy it (as I cry that I'm not in school).

The other good thing that is only marginally related to what I've written previously? I did five pull ups yesterday. My previous record, held for most of my life, was one. So very proud of myself right now.

And when I said I didn't have homework, well, that isn't exactly true. The Orclette will be in kindergarten and that means we're not just playing at school, we're officially homeschooling. My mom will be helping (she's a homeschooling veteran) but still, much more thought will need to be put into this upcoming school year.

So now you're updated and informed about life in the Orc household. Have a good weekend!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Coffee: It is time.

It is time to reduce my coffee intake. I think I shared a picture of my coffee mug but I'll do it again:




The coffee mug is the green one in the middle (blue is for water, red for my protein shakes). 64 ounces of yummy iced coffee. It was actually a decrease for me, which is a bit scary. It's what I was drinking at the end of the spring semester. Usually my body would tell me, a week or two after finals ended, that it was done with coffee for a while. I would get sick if I tried to drink more than two cups or so. I didn't get that feeling this time around, probably because I started a new job, Damm was called up for National Guard (local, not deployment) and then he went away for LDAC training while my parents moved to the area and began babysitting the kids. Not the worst kind of stress but it was still stressful.

Now Damm is back, my parents settled in with the kids wonderfully and the job is going swimmingly. My need for coffee has diminished and my body is being quite clear on the subject: I feel icky if I drink more than two cups (and I still do drink two cups, I think I'd be irritable if I didn't). My huge green travel mug is now filled with iced green tea, lightly sweetened with a tablespoon of raw honey. I prefer it now over my coffee, which is not something I ever thought I'd say. Instead of being like Lorelai and Rory on Gilmore Girls (one of my favorite shows) I'm more like Luke. Of course, this is subject to change. My normal coffee intake had stabilized at four cups for years, and I might go back to that eventually.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Yet another Paleo update.

I had that epic pizza night. I also had ice cream. It tasted awesome. Funny thing was that I felt like throwing up. I never feel like throwing up unless I'm actually sick (which doesn't happen often). I have, or thought I had, a cast-iron stomach.

Turns I out I don't.

Without going into too much gross detail, the next day the pizza was gone from my system. Painfully. It freaked me out because, as I said, I have never reacted like that. So I googled my problem to see if it had happened to anyone else who was Paleo and yes, yes it had. I didn't like that. I like pizza, I like going out to eat. More importantly, though, was that the reaction I had cannot happen to Damm. He doesn't always have control over his environment. In fact, right now he's enjoying some tasty MRE's. So-strict Paleo is out. I began to rethink our diet and what it should look like, if we were going to veer away a bit from the Paleo lifestye. I also began to listen to what my body was telling me (all the good Paleo sites will tell you to do that) and here's what I heard:

I do feel better when I reduce my carb intake. But not to the levels I've seen some Paleo eaters do. I feel awesome around 150 grams, which allows for my chocolate, fruits, vegetables and potatoes. I do want to add in some whole grains because I don't want to have another reaction like I did (and neither do I want Damm to have one). I solved that by making pumpkin bread and also whole wheat bread. I don't like store-bought bread; I can tell it's got stuff in it. Mine is made of whole wheat flour, raw honey, organic eggs and other wholesome ingredients.

I don't feel comfortable with a high fat intake. Here's where I might lose you: I like to eat between 70 and 90 grams of fat each day. This past week it was between 100 and 120 grams. It felt wrong to me, can't explain why, but it does, so I'm going back to my former intake, which still makes some people look at me in alarm. What can I say? I like having 1/2 Tbs. of grassfed butter to cook my eggs in. I like cheese, nuts and avocadoes.

I love the concept of lift heavy things, sprint once a week and play that Mark Sisson advocates. It's exactly what I have been gravitating towards in my workouts, and I am much, much healthier for it. No injuries (although I did lightly strain one of my butt muscles at work last week) and my strength has increased.

So really, our diet looks like a hybrid between Tosca Reno's Clean Eating and Paleo. I'm good with that. I'm comfy there. I will continue to listen to my body, however, and I have this whole nutritional journey to thank for inspiring me to do that. I also don't want anyone to ditch Paleo because I did; many advocate an 80/20 approach and really, that's what I'm doing, although at this point I've decided to unlabel myself. I was getting too strict with myself and that's exactly what I didn't want to do, cause believe me, it can get ugly.

So what does our new diet look like (and I'm not using the word "diet" in a "dieting" sense of the word, just to refer to what we're eating)? Here goes:

Breakfast: eggs, bacon, cheese and coffee with cream. Chocolate as well. I was eating a variation of this breakfast before trying Paleo and I like it.

Lunch: lean cut of meat, fruits and veggies, a potato OR some of my whole wheat bread.

Snacks: nuts, cheese, maybe some bread if I didn't have any at lunch.

Dinner:  some type of variation on lunch, taking care to keep my fat intake a bit lower because of the bacon and chocolate with my breakfast.

Looks pretty much like my diet last week, but there's a huge mental difference. I can eat bread, as long as I know what's in it. I can choose to eat just bread if that's what I want for a certain meal. No food off limits, just an awareness that many really do make me feel like crap (chips, I'm looking at you).

And there you are. Man, I like my diet now. I'm going to go and have some bread.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Face washing, honey and Dr. Bronner

I had previously written about my experience with honey and what life was like after concluding my honey experiment. I have since switched from Burt's Bees to Dr. Bronner's and I think it's working well. Burt's Bees just wasn't clearing up my face the way I thought it should be and it was only partly natural. Dr. Bronner's is natural and cheap so it was a logical next step. I also bought a witch hazel toner with lavender. Here's the routine:

#1 Wash face with Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree bar soap.
#2 Use Lavender Witch Hazel Toner
#3 Tea Tree oil on any problem areas. Let dry.
#4 Burt's Bees Royal Jelly moisturizer for the day and jojoba oil at night
#5 Honey overnight on any problem areas

I have omitted the baking soda mask because I felt like it was too harsh for my skin. I still concoct a baking soda scrub once a week and I feel that works much better (1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. tea tree oil and 1/2 tsp. water) than subjecting my skin to it every night. Honey is still the best thing for problem areas and it seems to be helping with some slight scarring issues.

My face looks much healthier and is almost glowing. I have also transitioned my diet to a Paleo approach and I feel that is helping.

I will note that my face seems to like change; any time I switch products I notice an immediate difference. This might mean that my face is like my stomach and likes variety, in which case I will give it variety. My local health food store has several skin care brands I'd love to try (Jason, Kiss my Face, etc.).

What do you use? And if you've found a way to eliminate all facial issues please feel free to let me know:)

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Paleo update. Bring on the bacon!

So I have completed three whole days of eating primally or, as I like to think of it, Noahifically. I wasn't sure I'd have a transition period given that I already was eating low-carb, high-fat and protein, but guess what? I'm in one. Basically I feel icky until 11 a.m. and then BAM I have energy through the roof. And that's it. Other people have headaches, constipation issues etc. but I seem to have avoided that. And now that I've shared the negative let's get on to the positive stuff:

#1 My face looks better. Not sure if this has anything to do with cutting out refined sugar but hey, I'll take it.

#2 Energy, at least after 11 a.m. I even managed to return our Redbox movie on time (Clash of the Titans; don't rent it, it was worse than I thought it would be) and try on clothes after a full day of work. Go me.

#3 I feel lean. Haven't had many issues with feeling like I'm bloated and, when I have, I haven't actually been bloated. My jeans are still loose.

#4 I love bacon. And I can eat it now.

#5 My muscles seem to be more defined. I don't think I've lost weight-it's only been three days and I'm eating the same number of calories I was before this experiment. As with the better face, though, I'll take it.

I've run out of positives. Maybe I'll have more when I fully transition into the ketosis-thingy (as you can see, I'm fully cognizant of the scientific data supporting this lifestyle). I do have some concerns, though (not negatives, since my concerns revolve around myself), and they all have to do with legalism and how it might affect my relationship to food. You see, I turned down a bag of potato chips today. No real worries there, I wanted to see what a week of being fairly strict would be like, but what if I don't tone down that legalistic mind-set? That's how I went off the deep end last time and managed to look like a walking skeleton (not kidding you there. Because I shaved my head as well my mom got asked if I was a chemo patient). It doesn't help that several websites I've read promote being strictly Paleo and treat any slip-ups as failures (that can be learned from, but still, failures).

I don't want to be like that. I was before and it robbed my life of so much. I want to be able to eat a bag of potato chips and not feel guilty (although I might feel icky because I'm not used to it). To that end, thank goodness for the websites that promote a 80/20% approach to paleo: 80% paleo and 20% whatever you want to eat. That's where I'll be. I've already scheduled a pizza night with my parents. It's going to be epic after a week of not eating bread. I might even have ice cream.

Oh, and because it was so yummy I wanted to share what I ate today:

Breakfast: 3 eggs cooked in 1/2 Tbs. grassfed butter with 1 oz. cultured cheese and 2 slices thick bacon. Coffee with full-fat cream. 70% chocolate (which I might try cutting out as I think it might be a trigger for some of my facial issues).

Lunch: 6 oz. potato with 4.5 oz lean pork loin and 0.25 C. avocado drizzled with the leftover bacon grease. Cucumbers, celery and cherries rounded out that meal. Oh and I had one of Starbuck's new Refresher drinks (50 calories for 16 oz).

Snack: slightly salted almonds

Dinner: same as breakfast minus the coffee and cream.

Snack: grapes

I think I could've skipped dinner. I wasn't actually hungry but my brain was telling me "look at the time! You MUST EAT NOW". I don't think I'm quite prepared to do intermittent fasting (google the term, it'll bring up lots of fascinating information).

Happy Thursday!