Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Crumbling of a Day

I decided earlier this week that I wanted to make a concerted effort to increase the pleasantness, if that's a word, of our family's time post-school and pre-dinner. I pick the girls up around 3:00-ish and try to have dinner ready about 5:00-ish. That 2 1/2 hour stretch seems to send the day down in glorious flames.

The problem with this "witching hour" is that the girls and I are all tired. Iris is super, super cranky after school. Eloise, if she has been at school that day, is prone to weepiness and tantrums, and me? Well, I'm trying my darndest to clean up from the day's activities, get some snacks out, make dinner, take a moment or two to connect with the girls and maybe sneak in a bit of my own down time if I've had a particularly busy day of my own.

Sadly, it usually ends up in a crying, screaming, messy mess. Today, I think, was the crowning jewel of such experiences.

In our house, Wednesday is allowance day. We just started allowance recently for a couple of reasons. One was so that the girls had a set amount of money to spend each week therefor allowing me to fall back on "well, do you have any allowance left?" when I'm asked for the eight millionth time for X,Y or Z. This is much easier than arguing, bargaining, threatening or laying on the sad stories of mommy and daddy's money shortages. The other reason we did it was that kids need to start learning how to handle their own money at some point and I was recently told that a good time to start it was when they can be reasonably trusted to not actually swallow the money they are given.

I could write more about the whole allowance thing, but that's not where I'm going with this.

After school we drove over to Target so the girls could spend their allowance. They are still firmly in the "I must spend every penny of my allowance RIGHTTHISSECOND" phase of earning an allowance. Iris did amazing. She even walked an aisle or two away from me to browse-- if you know how riddled with separation anxiety my kid is, you'd be amazed-- while Eloise picked up every expensive toy at her eye-level and proclaimed she was getting it.

I started saying "that's three allowances, that's four allowances" to let her know that she didn't have that much to spend. I took the options in her price range down off higher shelves to show her what she could buy. Things were progressing with Miss Eloise, she was growing hysterical that she couldn't afford any of the myriad of items she proclaimed to not be able to live without. She eventually grabbed an expensive gaming device and threw it down the toy aisle. It skidded half the way before coming to a stop in the middle of a main aisle of the store. I walked off to grab the toy and when I turned around Eloise had taken off running.

Luckily Iris and I were able to corner Eloise in an aisle and I grabbed her and picked her up. I stayed nice and calm and let her know we wouldn't be spending her allowance today and we were leaving. Iris had picked out her stuff and so we had to go through the check-out for her. Eloise screamed as if she were being stabbed by a pile of hot pokers. As we made our way towards the front we passed several familiar faces from the girls' school. Always nice to have an audience of people you know in those situations.

When we got back to the car I started to get the girls in to their car seats. For a moment I was all puffed up and proud of myself for remaining calm in the store. Then I noticed it. My dog, the sweetest sassiest fuzzy black thing this side of the Mississippi, had eaten a whole bag of chocolate chips while we were in the store. I had picked them up for some baking on my way to get the girls from school and had them in my grocery bag.

This would be the point that I completely fucking freaked out. I was scared about how sick the dog could be. I was pissed at myself for leaving food in the car (though I have left the dog in the car with many, many bags of groceries and she has NEVER even touched them) and I was seething with rage at my stupid idiot of a dog for doing this.

I called the vet on the way home. They said "go to the ER NOW." I panicked and said, well, I have two small kids with me and I don't know how quickly I can get her there. The vet said to give the dog some hydrogen peroxide to make her vomit, then go to the ER. I got home. Called my mom. In addition to being my mom, which means she automatically knows everything about everything, she is a dog-lover. She said, child, get off the phone, go give the dog some hydrogen peroxide, then call me back. So I gave the stuff to the dog. Then I called my husband totally hysterical. Then he called another vet for me closer to where our new house is. I called mom back. Then husband. The dog pukes a bunch. Then I call new vet that husband found. And what do THEY tell me? That I could bring the dog in but all they would do was make her puke anyways and I had already done that. It turns out that even though the dog ate 2/3 lb of milk chocolate it wasn't enough to be considered serious.

There were a few lessons I learned from this afternoon:

1. I need a new plan of action with Eloise and stores.
2. Will not leave food in the car with the dog. Also related: dog's crate came out of storage to keep her in it when we're not home since she's been stealing food from the counters and even out of the sink/garbage/recycling bin when we're not home.

What lesson am I still struggling with? How, in the face of all of the crazy insanity madness, do I keep my cool. I don't know the answer to that yet. I feel like I'm working on it. Every single day I work on it. I am getting better at it in some ways, but in many ways not at all. It's my parenting hurdle at this point.

Tomorrow is a new day, though. It's another chance. I'll keep working at it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Speed of Light

I can't believe how fast this month is flying by. I've been incredibly busy. Waiting for after Iris's birthday in June for things to slow down a little bit.

So where have I been?

Working on our school auction. It is literally taking me 20 or so hours per week at this point to co-chair the auction. It's insane. I am glad to help, and theoretically have the time, but I didn't know what I was signing up for. My kids are both in school together two days a week but I didn't really envision spending all of that time for many weeks focusing on school. The auction is three weeks away though, so, YAY! I wish I could show off my work on the auction, but then that sort of messes with that tricky thing of showing you all where my kids go to school. Ha.

Our new deck was finished last week. I keep meaning to post pictures of it, along with the "before" pictures, but right now that is sort of on the bottom of my to-do list. Right next to fold the laundry.

Today my friend and her family are coming over and we're building garden beds. I am so excited! We've been discussing our tiny little "community" garden for over two months now and it is making real progress!

Last Friday it we enjoyed the very low tides down at Lincoln Park on the Puget Sound. The girls found crabs, shells and starfish. It went much better than the very first time I took them to Lincoln Park at low tide and listened to them shriek like banshees because they were absolutely terrified of the crabs. Which were about as big as a half-dollar coin. And they were wearing giant rainboots.

I'm typing this from my brand new mini laptop, a gift from my sweet husband. It's times like these that I feel extra glad my husband's giant fingers don't work on a tiny little keyboard or else he might have kept it for himself. He also brought me a new phone, as the one I had (and loved!) was on it's last legs. Between figuring out the laptop and the new phone I kinda want to throw both of them out the window. I hate learning curves. Why can't they both just do what I want right out of the box?

Still working hard on eating and all of the things I've eliminated. I made a really tasty gluten-free/soy-free/dairy-free "mac-n-cheese" the other night. I didn't serve it to the girls, didn't even bother, but Matt liked it! It was a total success. I want to try more fun recipes like that. It's really frustrating to buy a vegan book and have it full of soy. Sigh. I do still need to challenge soy products. I am hopeful that I can add back in things like miso and tofu and leave out heavily processed soy like veggie dogs. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not Fallen of the Face of the Earth

Sheesh. Give me freedom from blogging "every" day and I'll just drop like a fly. It isn't from lack of stuff going on in my life. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I am in full-fledged aution mode right now as the co-chair of the girls' school's auction. It's insane. Like, practically a full-time job insane. I do like it, but I am surprised how many hours I've had to put in to it. Lately my big job has been entering auction items in to an online catalog. This means I've been on the computer a ton, just not doing all of the fun stuff I like to do!

However, one of the things I'm still working really hard on is the way I eat. Still haven't changed what I am "allowed" to eat since my last post (avoiding wheat/dairy/eggs/soy/most meat if you haven't been following along at home) and it's been challenging. Eating this way still requires a tremendos amount of forethought and skill. Yesterday my friend took me out to eat. The restaurant sounded lovely enough. When I get there I realize, crap, there is no of really knowing what is in these dishes and even if my server spoke more than basic, broken english I'm not sure that it would help me navigate this, anyways. I ordered something that in hindsight probably had wheat, dairy, soy, egg and meat in it. I felt fine right after eating but this morning I felt like a truck hit me. Or, more specifically, exactly how I used to feel upon waking every single day for the last few months.

I started panicking, and still am panicking, about how difficult it is to ever eat food prepared by anyone else. I already wrote about my trouble on Mother's Day with the server who brough me food with soy in it after discussing that I couldn't eat it. Today I tried to explain to a barista that I couldn't have soy or dairy and was wondering what, if any, drinks on the menu I could have. She had no idea what I was talking about. I orderd an Americano.

As time goes on I feel more and more commited to eating vegan, but without eating soy right now I feel like I need something to replace that hole it's left. I use chicken. Tonight I made a decent dinner of vegan mashed potatoes and vegan/GF gravy-- but I roasted chicken breasts.

I started to peruse the interwebs for suggestions on this tricky situation I found a couple of books that seemed interesting:

the images are click-able

On a side note, the Flying Apron is right here in Seattle! I need to go check it out.

After yesterday's little debaucle I am going to wait a bit, but will start testing soy and wheat soon. I say I avoid wheat, and really that is what it is. I eat so little processed food right now that I don't really have to worry about other hidden sources of gluten.

One last thing I wanted to share is a great blog that launched recently. It's called Plate and Simple and has some great info on living the health conscious vegan lifestyle. My favorite part of the site is the author's Foodlosophy, which is the author's advice on eating. I pretty much find her advice to be spot-on and it nicely sums up my years of earning my fancy nutrition degree. Who knew I could have saved those thousands (and thousands) ((and thousands)) of dollars and just read this here blog?! The only thing I would change, that my dear friends had issue with as well, was the author's take on snacking. I'm all about more smaller meals a day (as opposed to three rigid larger meals) to keep blood-sugar stabalized.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Day 28: Elimination Diet

So this was supposed to be my last day of the diet. Clearly the math was off somewhere. I've had to make a few executive decisions on the whole thing, but I've found a good middle ground for finishing up.

I'm going to add everything back in that I am extremely sure is not causing my symptoms. Like kiwis. And sesame seeds. And strawberries. Stuff that I didn't eat in large amounts before the ED and so I'm feeling like those aren't my main concern. So in the past few days I've had sesame seeds, tree nuts, corn, alcohol (a little vodka and some champagne), oranges . . . there might be a couple more. I'm staying away from eggs, soy, dairy and wheat for now. And all meats except chicken. I am waffling about when to try coffee again. To be honest, I love coffee, but it was a huge money suck for me. And cost a lot of calories. I'm a Starbucks fan and like my froofy lattes, so I am teading lightly on this topic.

I had two main concerns when heading in to the ED. One was to see if I could pinpoint a food (or foods) that were making me feel so sick and the other one was to make a severely drastic change in my diet so as to snap me me back in to a healthier way of eating overall. I feel that I mostly accomplished my second goal. In fact, maybe even too well. The ED was so restrictive for me, at times, that I felt like I would do anything to fling myself right off of the wagon. I feel like if I can be at a spot where I can eat vastly better but not incredibly restrictive and I think I'm just starting to fall in to that spot.

Overall my level of health is greatly improved. I have had a headache I think twice in the past 28 days and on those days, like on this past Friday, I felt so busy and under-nourished that I was confident in blaming the headache on that. My digestive system is much, much improved. I do still get random nausea and pain, but knowing that my anxiety and emotions are tied right in to my core, I can't expect to be 100% symptom free for the rest of my life just by changing my diet.

Over the next little while I'll blog about challenging soy/dairy/wheat/eggs and let everyone know what happens. I'm also feeling quite comfortable about the idea of being vegan. I honestly am not really missing dairy. I miss bread. ALOT. But I don't miss dairy as much as I thought I would-- especially being born and raised in the dairy state! Mmmm. Cheese.

I'm writing this on Mother's Day and my sweet husband surprised me with a reservation at Plum Bistro on Capitol Hill in Seattle. The restaurant is vegan and organic. While I felt the service left a lot to be desired, the food was out of this world delicious. And not just "oh that's good for vegan food" but honest-to-goodness delicious. My husband loved it, as well, but not my kids. I think the issue with the girls wasn't that it was vegan, but just that the food was a bit too fancy for them. My husband reports that when he called them they were more than happy to accommodate any of my dietary restrictions, so that was nice. Of course when I talked over the menu with the server there were many thing vetoed for having soy in them. The meal I got I am pretty sure had soy whipped cream on it, however. I ate a bite of it though and don't feel bad. If you were to go there, still do the whole annoying thing where you make sure that no part of the dish or it's flourished include the ingredients you can't even. The menu was clearly labelled about which items were gluten-free and that was a nice touch!

Okay, long "last" post, but that's where I'm at. Any of you who are on the ED journey yourself, please feel free to still email me or post here with questions/comments/frustrations/excitement. I would love to hear about your experience! Or even if you're not doing it, feel free to chime in.

Next up on the blog? Some pictures of the brand-spankin' new cedar deck that I'm sitting on as I write this very blog post! Squeeeee!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Day 27: Elimination Diet

Thursday was the first day I definitely back to normal, though I was, and am, being cautious. Trying harder to listen to my body and eat when hungry. This means, unfortunately, that I seem to be rarely hungry during the set dinner hour. It works this way for my kids, too. They are ravenous around 4-ish and then not hungry for dinner and then starving again around 7:00. Re-thinking the importance of everyone sitting down to a big meal together at night. Often times Matt isn't home at the time the girls and I sit down together, anyways, so we end up eating all staggered.

So yesterday, Thursday, I had a bowl of the cabbage salad for lunch that I made on Wednesday then ate a big bowl of noodles and spaghetti sauce at 2:30 and literally wasn't very hungry the rest of the day. I did have a smoothie when I made the girls their dinner, but that was fine. By the time I fell asleep while putting the girls to bed I felt fine, not hungry and not over-stuffed.

I've been thinking I would try to challenge soy again, but I'll wait until next week. Avoiding the "Sunday curse" as I've begun to think of it so as to not throw off my challenge results with anxiety.

The other frustrating piece of the ED is not really being able to go out to eat. Even if I could I HATE being the kind of diner that has to ask all of the specific ingredients in each thing. I feel like the server probably goes back to the kitchen and tells the chef to spit in my food after the headache I've caused. So Mother's Day is coming up. For the past two years we've gone to Agua Verde and this year, sadly, we can't. *sniff*

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Day 26: Elimination Diet

Mostly feeling better today. I was smart enough to not push it with food and ate very little. It really helped to keep any tummy discomfort at bay.

Breakfast was . . . . hmm. What was breakfast? Oh, right. Applesauce.

Lunch was left-over tomato soup and ginger tea.

I didn't eat a proper dinner. I had a snack of two rice crackers and hummus (homemade with sunflower seed butter instead of tahini) and some pineapple at about 3:00 or so. At 8:00 I felt hungry enough to eat something salad-like and decided that I would challenge vinegar and make a cabbage salad with cilantro dressing from the Whole Life Nutrition book. Oh yum. SO good. The recipe is really simple.

4-6 cups chopped cabbage (recipe says savoy or napa, I used regular ol' green)
1 shredded carrot
4 sliced green onions
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds (I toasted raw ones on the stove)
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
(the recipe called for a touch of hot pepper flakes but I don't really care for that)
Toss the dressing with the rest of the salad and voila! I used to make something alot like this from another cookbook called Feeding the Whole Family. The recipe in that book also added uncooked ramen noodles. I ate two small-ish bowls. I could eat more but don't want to push it.
So, if you haven't yet, please go buy Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. I included the link to the newest version, but I have the older, purple one, and they are mostly similar. The new one has a few more (really yummy) meat recipes, for example. Cynthia was a fantastic teacher of mine at Bastyr. In fact, I probably learned more from Cynthia than I did all of my other teachers combined.

The other thing I've thought a lot about while doing this diet is what the long-term view is for me now. I went in to it knowing that even I didn't find a single thing that I am sensitive to, I still wanted the ED to severely shift the way I was eating on a day-to-day basis. I have seriously considered going vegan after this.

In the fall of 1991 I became a vegetarian. I was a freshman in high school and a beef soft taco at Taco Bell was the last meat I ate. Fast forward almost exactly 12 years to the fall of 2003 and I am newly pregnant with Iris. Not only are pretty much every kind of food I was used to getting protein and iron from incredibly revolting to me, but I was absolutely craving meat. It was then that I fell of the vegetarian band-wagon and have been a pretty die-hard meat eater ever since. I swore up and down that I would become a vegetarian again when I was done birthing and nursing babies. Eloise weaned just after her third birthday at the end of last summer. Oops.

But here I am. At a real crossroads. I have a whole month of an amazing way of eating under my belt and a damn fine stepping stone for moving on in to a (mostly) permanent new phase of my food journey.

So we'll see, but that's what I am toying around with in my mind. I sort of have to just make the decision and leap because that's how I really decide to do things. Make up my mind and then my ass follows, or however that saying goes.

Oh, I also wanted to include this picture of the asian soup stock I made yesterday. I got the recipe from the Whole Life Nutrition book and omitted the mushrooms and seaweed. I also added cilantro and tamari. I think I finally realized I do not like celery in my soup stock, as well, so I have that going for me!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Day 25: Elimination Diet

I made the decision to stop the (mostly) daily blogging about my ED once I hit the 28 day mark. It's a bit arbitrary as I won't be done yet, but I wanted to sort of move things along on this here blog. I will definitely check in once in a while about it, but I'll go back to blogging about my adorable children and my mundane life in the meantime.

So today, I still feel pretty shitty. I don't know what's going on. It feels a lot like how my body felt before I started the ED. Felt terrible when I woke up, drank some green juice and then went off to bring Iris to school. After a couple of hours of shopping for groceries I got home famished and made some lunch. Ate too much, felt like crap again, then didn't eat again until around dinner. I felt like I overate waaaaaay too much at dinner (though it wasn't that much food) and then felt really terrible afterwards.

I'm feeling extremely discouraged. Not sure where to go with all of this.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Day 24: Elimination Diet

I just realized that I am supposedly four days away from the end of this 28-Day ED and there are still many things left to challenge. Clearly the authors of it, nor I, took the time to actually make sure that all added up to 28. Sheesh. (Cynthia darling, I hope you read this one!)

Today I would say I came much closer than I ever have to scrapping the whole thing. It would turn out that there is actually something going on with me. I still didn't feel good this morning despite sleeping 11 hours last night. I don't think a little tofu would really make me feel this crappy for this long.

All I ate today was a banana, a couple of bites of rice noodles and avocado and a bowl of homemade tomato soup. One thing I learned today is that feeling sick makes you want nothing more than to eat your tried and true comfort foods. Every one of which is on my no-no list right now. I was craving some creamy, yummy homemade mac-n-cheese. My sweet friend Jen sent me some vegan recipes for it but even then there were some nuts and nutritional yeast that I couldn't have yet in the ingredients list.

I decided I really wanted some tomato soup. I looked at the label of every soup at the store and none worked. They either had dairy, wheat or HFCS in them. So I came home and decided to use up the rest of my energy today to make a batch tomato soup from scratch. I have never made it before but hoped it wouldn't be too hard. Turns out it wasn't.

On a side note, I'm breaking from the diet a bit by having a new food the day after another food I just introduced. Yesterday I had soy, today nightshades. I'm going to go back to soy in a bit, but decided not too today since I'm still a teeny bit leery that my feeling yucky may maybe have something do with the soy (but probably not ((but I'm weird like that )) ).

I sauteed a whole onion and three cloves of garlic in olive oil and then added two diced medium carrots and sauteed a bit longer. Then I added three cans of diced stewed tomatoes (the smaller size, I think 14 oz) and one can of tomato paste. I added a bunch of herbs, lots of fresh basil, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, some salt and pepper. I cooked it a bit more and then put it through the Blendtec with some rice milk. It was actually pretty tasty! I'm thrilled I figured out an easy way to make such a yummy soup.

The only downside of eating tomato soup? Not having an ooey-gooey cheese sandwich to go with it.

On one more side-note, I've just started watching the True Blood series. Man alive do I love Alan Ball's work. Good stuff. Really good stuff.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Day 23: Elimination Diet

I feel awful today. I don't know exactly why, it could be one of three things.

1. I challenged soy today (a little tofu at lunch).
2. It's Sunday. Most Sundays I feel rotten. Like whatever is going on in my head is physically manifesting itself. Matt asked me if I have felt like this before on a Sunday while on the ED and I realized that I hadn't. Today was the first time for a few weeks.
3. Can't rule out that I might be coming down with something!

Every time I feel terrible I think "am I really getting sick?" and 99% of the time the answer to that is "no".

I don't know what's up with the Sunday thing. My digestive system hates me, my head hurts, I feel utterly exhausted. This has happened so many times I have lost count. I don't feel particularly stressed or anxiety ridden, either. In fact, Sundays are great but Mondays are my favorite day of the week! So I'm not really anxious about the week starting.

So, let's see. Today I had a banana for breakfast. Then a boring ol' dish of fried rice with zucchini, green onions and tofu. After that I didn't really feel like eating for the rest of the day. Sucking down a fruit smoothie now in lieu of dinner.

That's all I got.