Whole30 Day 6

Today is Day 6. Biggest lesson from today? Don’t mess with the twins’ nap schedule. If they miss their one and only nap around 10 or 11 a.m., the rest of the day is miserable. For. Everyone.

Yeah, not Whole30 related, I know.

The big meals of the last couple of days were shepherd’s pie and spaghetti squash with homemade marinara sauce. The shepherd’s pie should happen very, very often. I used half gold potatoes and half yams for the topping, a ton of garlic, one pound of organic ground beef and a ton of frozen mixed veggies from Costco, plus a handful of spices. It made a full 9×13″ pan, which is already gone.

Lessons in Whole30’ing

Farmer’s markets are amazing. Today I needed to drive up to Cook Farm, the dairy where I get unpasteurized milk for the boys, so I decided to stop in at the Northampton Winter Market.

I love Northampton. Everyone is quirky and weird, there are kitschy little shops around every corner, Webs is there, and it’s home to some of the most impressively improbable architecture in the form of big, old Victorian homes.

Their Winter Market doesn’t disappoint, either. It was crowded–too crowded for a stroller, but I had no choice but to wear one kid in the Tula and push the other. Among the vendors were little creameries selling cheese, ghee-makers demonstrating DIY clarified butter, mushroom-infused soaps, handwoven alpaca scarves and blankets, hot lentil soups, freshly-baked breads and pretzels, winter squash, potatoes, roots, and hothouse greens, handcarved wooden spoons and bowls, and a troubadour with a 12-string guitar.

It’s worth the 35-minute drive to make that a regular stop–even if I can’t indulge in the breads, soups, and cheeses on the Whole30. I spent a while admiring the alpaca wares, Micah charmed a handknitted finger puppet from a vendor, and I bought a dozen eggs before heading to Cook Farm and then home. If I hadn’t already had a refrigerator full of food for the week, I would have stocked up on a ton of the beautiful produce. As it was, I left inspired by the whole farmer’s market atmosphere and the huge availability of real, local, organic foods in this area. Such a switch from Guam. I need to rethink my wintertime grocery routine and make it a point to hit more shindigs like that one. It’s definitely more fun than a trip to Stop ‘n Shop.

However, that particular shindig caused the missed naptime and the ensuing excitement of manic, tired one-year-olds who tried to cram each other in the dog’s crate and then lock the door.

Lessons learned.

In other news, I can’t believe tomorrow is Day 7 already!

Whole30 Round 2 Day 1

Something has to be done.

It became painfully clear when I slipped into my comfortable, slightly-too-big post pregnancy jeans that usually make me feel pretty okay about myself and realized that they were no longer comfortable. Or slightly-too-big.

Breakfast: Sauteed spinach, slow-cooker chicken, and a banana--scrambled eggs for the boys and the husband.

Breakfast: Sauteed spinach, slow-cooker chicken, and a banana–scrambled eggs for the boys and the husband.

Weight and diet has always been a struggle for me, and it’s something I don’t talk about because (1) it’s personal, and I don’t share super personal stuff here or pretty much anywhere else, because it makes me vulnerable, (2) what if I fail? (3) it’s such a lame, first-world problem, and (4) it’s not cool to admit you have a problem, even when it’s obvious to everyone around you.

So I might as well be real with you guys. It’s hard. It’s a struggle. It’s basically always on my mind. It’s something I haven’t figured out yet. And sometimes I wonder why I even try because if I haven’t gotten it right by now, am I ever really going to? It’s easy to feel like you’re destined to stay on this slow, steady downhill path, especially with kids and age. It’s expected, even. But I’m tired of being okay with that.

Despite the fact that it seems mostly hopeless much of the time, since this is the body that I have to live with, I’m determined to take the time to get it right–to find a system for prepping healthy, real food meals that work for my family, and to find a workout groove that’s actually fun as well as challenging. I feel like I’m living right on the edge of a knife–between having it down and being totally out of control of my choices.

As a Christian–and, well, as a human being in general–it makes sense to treat your body well and to be prepared for whatever life throws at you. It’s a stewardship thing, and it’s an investment, even though it’s a temporal one. I haven’t always done that well, but I’m working on it now.

The Whole30 is a short-term diet reset. Manny and I did one together last May/June, and it was great–though we completely blew the reintroduction phase.

This year, we’re doing it again, doing the reintroduction properly this time, and this time I’m going to give myself permission to take as much time as I need to figure out how I want to proceed when it’s over. Meaning, I might stay pretty much Whole30 for long after these 30 days are up.

The twins were fairly unimpressed with Costco this morning.

The twins were fairly unimpressed with Costco this morning.

I want to simplify our life and our diet. No more shopping just to buy things, no more eating just to chew.

I want to teach the boys how delicious and satisfying real food can be, so they can grow up with quality, healthy food being the norm–not the exception.

I want to be able to go on a 10-mile hike up mountains without worrying about slowing everybody down.

During this Whole30, I’m going to try to post a short recap every day, along with what works, what doesn’t work, and recipes I loved and hated. If you’ve done a Whole30 before, feel free to send advice or recipes my way.

I’m also working through a Couch to 5K running schedule at a snail’s pace, which has been slowed by ice and snow that I haven’t yet figured out how to navigate safely. So there’ll be snippets of that here and there, too.

We Don’t Sleep Around Here

Davey has not been sleeping lately.

Correction: Davey has been sleeping in two- to three-hour intervals, often interspersed with 2-hour awake periods, all night long. Thankfully, Micah is taking up the slack in the sleep department by going to sleep easily and sleeping soundly all night. So we only have one yo-yo baby to deal with. I’m not sure how I survived the newborn weeks when we did this all the time with both babies.

Small Great Things

28587957So in the moments when both twins are actually asleep and the house is mostly together, I often light a couple of candles and collapse on the sofa, only to realize I have no idea what to do with that precious nugget of time. Clean? Do the dishes? Read? Write a blog post? Knit? It’s rough, folks.

In my last post, I mentioned that I picked up Small Great Things and intended to start reading it soon. Since then, I have indeed finished the book. Because I don’t trust myself to formulate a coherent few paragraphs about it, I’ll boil it down.

Things I Liked

This book made me uncomfortable. It forced me to question my own attitude about race issues, and it left me thinking that I might not be as unbiased as I’ve always thought. I haven’t read many of Picoult’s books, but I am finding that she forces her readers to ask themselves some pretty probing questions. That’s a hallmark of a great read, as far as I’m concerned.

Of course, there’s a twist at the end. I remember reading once that a fiction writer should put her characters in the hardest possible situations, just to see how they react. Well, Picoult does this in a very unexpected way at the end of Ruth’s trial.

Things I didn’t like

The ending. The ending and the epilogue both seem a little too deus ex machina, happily-ever-after, Disney storybook perfect for my taste (sorry if that’s a spoiler). As much as I wanted to see Ruth, the protagonist, win her court case and come out on top, I didn’t expect it to be handed to her with a cherry on top.

Overall, I loved it, and I did end up reading it in just a few sit-down sessions after the babies were in bed for the night and before Davey’s nighttime wakefulness sessions began. Small Great Things definitely has a new home in my home library.

Dabbling in Minimalism

In other news, I’ve been throwing stuff away like crazy. Basically, tossing or donating as much *stuff* as possible–the things that fill up nooks and crannies with “I might need this someday” intentions. Baby clothes, unused cooking gadgets, clothes that don’t fit me anymore, half-burned candles, trinkets that I’ve held onto out of a sense of obligation to whomever gave them to me. It’s all going.

The progress is slow–sometimes painfully so–but I’m simplifying, because life is so much more enjoyable when you’re not tripping over accoutrements while trying to live it. Also, when you have fewer things, there’s less to clean.

I’m thinking I might add a few books on simplifying, minimizing, and decluttering to my reading list in the next few weeks, so if anyone has suggestions on excellent books of that sort, please let me know! I will streamline and minimalize many things, but my library isn’t one of them.

On the Books, October Edition

Choosing between reading, writing, knitting, and staring vegetatively into space has resulted in a lot of scrambling for minutes and not as much reading as I thought I’d get done this year. It’s almost the end of October (in case you overlooked that somehow), and I’ve read 12 books out of my goal of 35. I don’t think I’ve ever read so little in a year. But here’s what I have in terms of a bookish update.

26061560The Biggest Story offers a look at the Bible’s story from beginning to end. The sweeping overview from creation to the resurrection offers a look at the big picture of God’s plan for us. It’s the literary forest when children so often just get shown the trees. And the illustrations are absolutely mesmerizing! I could stare at them for hours.

The twins aren’t big enough to sit down and appreciate all the illustrations, but they did seem fascinated by all the colors, when they slowed down enough to take a look. I read them the entire book in about forty minutes while they were playing several days ago. It’s simple and straightforward enough that I suspect it would resonate with some preschool-aged kids.


I also started reading Kipps aloud while the kiddos played last week. We’re about 30 pages in, and it seems to provide excellent background noise for playing–they tend to entertain themselves more and use me as a jungle gym less when I’m reading aloud, so that’s a win.

H.G. Wells is surprisingly easy to read aloud. The dialogue and sentences just flow the way good writing should. And it’s refreshing to read some of Wells’ non-sci-fi works. I’ll probably take my time getting through it, but I’m already loving the characters. 28587957

Annnnd yesterday at Barnes & Noble, I couldn’t resist Jodi Picoult’s latest release, Small Great Things. I suspect that once I crack it open (probably this afternoon), I’ll finish it in just a couple of days, even if I have to sacrifice a night of sleep to do so.



9 Reasons I’m Not Taking a Nap Today

No Naps

  1. The prospect of having to wake up again is prohibitively depressing.
  2. Naps cause responsibility-free breaks to go by far to quickly.
  3. Naps aren’t really responsibility-free, because I need to do laundry and folding laundry is somewhat easier when twins aren’t systematically unfolding it at the same time.
  4. If I go to sleep, babies’ naps will be 50% shorter, and they’ll wake up 100% more grouchy.
  5. I would spend a quarter of my naptime thinking about what needs to be done after naptime is over.
  6. Deadlines. Clients that actually want things to be turned in by 6 a.m. And there’s no way I’m getting up at 3 a.m. tonight/tomorrow to make that happen.
  7. If I’m smart about it, I can get a load of laundry washed, a sinkful of dishes cleaned and put away, the living room vacuumed, the dogs fed, the mail checked, the counters wiped off, drink a pot of coffee, and still squeeze in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy while babies sleep.
  8. If I’m not smart about it, I can stare into space in the blessed silence for half an hour.
  9. I do what I want.

The Big E, and Reading About Twins

Babywearing at the Big E If you want a fried martini, a Philly cheesesteak, maple cotton candy, apple crisp and fresh cranberry juice all in one place, the Eastern States Exposition is the answer. You’ll also find hot tub displays, vendors selling magical steam cleaners, kids showing off their 4-H projects, sheep being sheared, chicks hatching from eggs, and sideshows featuring miniature horses and rescued bears–$1 per person to take a peek.

When we went to the Big E last year, I was 30 weeks pregnant with the twins. I basically stopped to sit and rest 10 minutes for every 15 that I walked. This year, I had one baby strapped to my front and a backpack with baby supplies on the back, while Manny carried the other twin.

So yesterday, the most frustrating part of the adventure wasn’t walking. It was trying to eat funnel cake while wearing a squirmy, greedy toddler on my front. I’m just going to let you try to imagine that one.

We watched a Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off, wandered through the huge buildings representing each state’s representative offerings (always including a wide array of maple products), and caught Marcus Gras beads thrown from a parade float drawn by Clydesdale horses.

The entire experience felt a little absurd.

But cool autumn breezes, babies’ wonder as they ogled the turns of the Ferris wheel, and the mingling aromas (well, some of them) made it worth the expedition.

Reading has taken such a backburner over the last year for obvious reasons. But a group of twin mamas I know on Facebook decided to start a book club, and the first book was something I probably wouldn’t have chosen on my own.

Entwined is a memoir about fraternal friends, one of whom had Down syndrome, that were separated as young children when the parents sent the Down syndrome child to live in a state institution. That twin later went on to become a world-recognized fiber artist. The memoir is written by Judy, the sister that stayed at home, and follows both their story as it twists apart and then back together again later in life.

It was interesting to read about the incredibly unique connection the girls shared as twins. They communicated (rather well!) without needing words, which is handy, since Judy was completely nonverbal.

The story was both gripping and infuriating. Repeatedly I found myself thinking, How many horrible things can possibly happen to one person? The attitude toward children–especially special needs children–in the 50’s and 60’s was depressing at best, and these kids’ parents seemed particularly unable (unwillinrg?) to deal with the fact that they had procreated, and that one of their kids was unique.

But Joyce, the author of the book, was a bit infuriating, too. Sometimes she seemed rather oblivious (it took her 35 years to start thinking about taking her sister out of the institution) and dramatic (going to a “silence retreat” where a dozen women lived together for a week without saying a word). Still, the pieces of the picture she paints with words are so vivid that about two chapters in I felt like I was one of the kids playing in the front yard with them.

All in all, Entwined was definitely worth the read. Now I’m slowly reading Misspelled Paradise: A Year in a Reinvented Colombia, mostly because I’ll be in Colombia myself in a couple of weeks. So far, the account of a recent English grad going to teach at tiny a school on a little coastal island has many similarities to my own experience teaching in Saipan. It also makes me thankful I’m going to Colombia to be a tourist, not a teacher.

Babies’ First Ren Faire, Poetry, and Very Expensive Boots

Over the long weekend we packed everything up for a quick jaunt to spend a weekend in PA, including a day at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. This was my second time visiting the fair. Manny took me to the fair for the first time a year ago when I was pregnant with the twins. I spent much of this visit relishing the cooler weather and the fact that I’m about 40 lbs. lighter than I was back then.

But my first impressions were generally the same.

Smells: Pine trees, roasting meat, and whiffs of handmade soaps, candles, and leather from the many stands.

Sounds: Laughter, “G’day, Lady” x100, strains of bagpipes and small vocal groups from different directions, the click of stilts and performers assuring guests that the more they drink, the better the performances.

Sights: people wearing tails, very large skirts, chain mail bras, kilts, masquerade masks, and all the staged buildings and vendors set up to look extremely old-world-ish.

100 Great Poems for Boys CoverFrom the stationer, I bought 100 Great Poems for Boysdespite the title. It’s a brilliant collection for kids. Actually, it’s a brilliant collection for me. Since the purchase, I’ve driven Manny crazy with dramatic readings of Poe’s “The Bells,” Christopher Smart’s “For My Cat Jeoffrey,” and Henley’s “Invictus.”

And from Catskill Mountain Moccassins, I bought $700 shoes.

Hopefully this is the first and last episode of Major Purchases That I Might Regret Later you’ll read about on this blog. They aren’t Jimmy Choos or Prada or any other brand that garners that kind of price tag (I mean, seriously, who has those at a ren fair?) But they are custom leather boot-ish footwear made to fit the foot of each individual buyer, trimmed and finished to completely custom specifications. And because Manny has a pair (received his joyfully, in fact, a few days before he proposed four years ago), he insisted I order some. They’ll last for twenty years, he said–and they’re the only shoes you’ll ever have MADE for your foot, so you should indulge.

So after staring at color swatches, conferring with a friend (who had been convinced to order a knee-high pair of her own), and agonizing over all the button choices, I stepped up on a little platform for my feet to be traced, ensconced in a sock, then taped with gaffer’s tape to create a comfortably snug pattern that would form the basis for the soft leather mocc.

The sad part? Even after they’re fully paid (we put a third down for the pattern tracing and design), I still won’t get them for the better part of a year–and by that time I might not even remember what they’re supposed to look like. But what’s done is done, and in the meantime, I’m going to try not to think too much about how many poetry books or skeins of sock yarn I could have bought with that money.