Friday, August 26, 2011

seven things

It's funny to me that last week we had a million things planned, so I came here to say I probably wouldn't be posting, and then managed to post several times anyway. But this week, when I thought I'd be back on schedule, I've been so unexpectedly busy that here it is Friday and I haven't been around at all.

Oh well. But it has been a pretty good week. Just exhausting, that's all.

And I don't have much time to write today, either. Of course! So I'm going to give you a quick update instead by listing seven things, all about my week. Seven things, because one of my favorite bloggers, Mary, over at Finding Magnolia, is passing along a seven things theme, and here I am volunteering to be tagged.

1. Yesterday marked 30 days since I began the Whole30 diet cleanse. I have to admit up front that I did end up cheating on the diet much more than I should have, a couple of times for great reasons, and a couple of times for no reason. However, I do consider it a success, as today is my first day off and I've yet to eat an entire box of cookies. Also, I lost ten pounds, and it wasn't difficult. I think it really helped my sugar addiction, and I think my itchy skin issues are coming from wheat or gluten, though I'm not sure which. Jimmy (he lost about a million pounds) and I are planning to eat this way - for the most part - indefinitely. But I might try to do the full cleanse again sometime. Probably next spring.

(Did I mention I lost ten pounds?? And dropped a full size in all of my clothing. To say I'm thrilled is an understatement.)

2. My mood, also, has been greatly improved since I began Whole30. I know exercising has also helped, because the last two weeks have been hectic and I haven't had my workouts, and I can feel a difference in my brain. That said, I still find that I'm unable to make a decision regarding antidepressants. It might sound silly, but I simply don't know what a "normal" person's baseline is supposed to be. Do you wake up smiling? Are you always optimistic? I think my natural baseline is just generally low, and can't decide if that's worth going on prescription medication, or not. Now that the Whole30 is finished, I'm going to try my natural remedies again, and see how I do.

3. My sweet mom's birthday was yesterday, and I miss her. We sent her this as her gift this year. It's her favorite movie (she's from Atlanta), and it's maybe just a little bit possible that I was named after one of the characters. Or a lot possible. So possible that I might have written the actress when I was maybe fourteen, and received a lovely letter and autographed photo from her which I kept in a frame for eons. And I think it's sort of funny that now I live in the same town where they made the film. Not that *I'm* obsessed! But I do love it because my mama loves it. Hope you had a wonderful birthday, Mom! I love you!

4. Lena's fourth birthday is coming up! Alright, it's in October. Early October, though, so I need to start planning now. This week I reserved a pavilion at our favorite neighborhood playground/park, so all I can think about is what to do with twenty-ish four-year-olds. Lena is still hoping that we'll go to Disneyland, too, around her birthday (a tradition for us), so I'm trying to figure out how to do a party on the CHEAP. I've begun a Pinterest board for inspiration, but it's mostly just colors and decor, for now. I'm thinking the theme will be art. She loves to draw and paint and will spend hours doing so. So I have ideas for covering the tables in craft paper and crayons, giving little art supplies as favors, and having a little kid-friendly photo booth setup, with fun masks and hats and things. I need more ideas for games, though. And I'm desperate for an idea for cheap eats that isn't pizza. Although, pizza is sooo easy...

5. I have been thinking about doing a series of posts about our little home, here, complete with photos. And whenever I think that, I think maybe I should hire a maid, first, and then I see all the little things I want to fix, too. But I might just do it anyway. It's more real when it's covered in toys and sippy cups, yes? Just say yes.

6. One of the reasons I've been so unexpectedly busy this week is because we decided to let Lena begin a new hobby, and it already looks like a very big and time-consuming hobby. I'm not willing to say more about it right now. Maybe next week. Maybe not. Still feeling very tentative about the whole thing. (And also excited.)

7. Speaking of excited, I am THRILLED to be attending Holly Becker's book signing tonight! And I am even somehow magically on the list for her Inspiration Board Tutorial beforehand, which I thought was impossible because I was out of town when the event became available for RSVP. No complaints, though. Yesterday I threw together a little gift for her. I hope that's not strange, or too forward, but I want to connect who I am online with who I am in person. Also, it really isn't much. I'm hoping, too, to meet some other nice folks from the area while I'm there. Plus, who doesn't want to hang out at Anthropologie for the evening? I can't wait!

So, those are my seven things. I don't think I quite managed the quick post I intended... Maybe it makes up for my absence all week? I'd love to tag some folks to see your seven things, as well, but I honestly don't even know who's reading this. So, please, if you want, consider yourself tagged. And if you make a Seven Things post, let me know, and I'll post your link!

Happy weekend!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Morro Bay

I know, I know. It's another Hipstamatic shot. What can I say? I am very sorry, though, that it isn't better. I took several photos when I shot this, and wasn't fully satisfied with any of them, and now the opportunity to capture what I felt there is gone.

This is a photo of one of the hundreds of calla lilies growing rampant behind my husband's family's home in Morro Bay. Or rather, their former home. As soon as Jimmy wrapped up his work season last May, we packed up the girls and made the 3 1/2 hour drive (without stopping, but remember, we have toddlers, so make that more like a 5 hour drive) north up the coast to the little lazy beachside town. I say "lazy" because on top of the pace being shockingly (and wonderfully) slower than our normal pace in Los Angeles, something in the air up there always makes us feel lazy, as though there really is nothing more important in the whole world than finishing the crossword puzzle before noon and making sure we've bought enough wine for dinner.

We love our visits up there. My in-laws are a fun -okay, wonderfully crazy- bunch, and they adore having the kids around (more than having us around, as we are often told), and I know I always feel a huge relief getting out of the city for a bit and into a town that can't even be bothered to put up stop signs in most intersections. Okay, the stop sign thing makes me crazy. But you get the idea.

Well, this was our last visit to that home. Jimmy's dear Grammie passed away early last year, and this year the situation was such that his Grampa needed to move into assisted living, so his mom, who had been devoting all of her time to taking care of them, moved on to be with her granddaughters in Sacramento.

It felt sort of like losing home base for that family, I think. Although probably nothing felt more like that than losing his Grammie. This certainly put on a finishing touch, though.

We will still be visiting up there as much as we can, to see Grampa and also Jimmy's aunt and cousin, but we know it will be different. We're not sure that we will ever have the same family gatherings there that we used to. Our dream has always been to have a vacation home in that town or the next, and although that feels pretty ridiculously unattainable right now, we're still dreaming of it. Maybe one day. And it will be covered in calla lilies.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 23

Today is day 23 of my foray into Whole30, and I must have hit the ten-pound mark because all of a sudden almost none of my pants fit anymore. Granted, I'm failing miserably on the NO CHEATING UNLESS YOU FALL FACE FIRST INTO A BOX OF DONUTS guideline of the diet. Look, I chose sushi for my unusual chance at a night out with old friends this week, and had no idea that the particular restaurant selected would be offering a happy-hour-only menu of rice-laden hand rolls and tempura (and 99 cent beers! 99 cents! Beer!!). It was eat sushi and have a good time, or sit there and drink water. And really? I cheated with sushi? COME ON. Also, I drank water. I feel I should get some credit for that.

But I'm working hard to stick as close to the diet as I can, and it feels great, and I feel great. So, today I found myself rooting through my drawers in search of pants that fit (old jeans: yes; cropped pants: no!), which then devolved into trying on almost everything in my closet. And it was wonderful. My shirts and blouses fit so well, now, and they look nice again. I finally remembered why I bought them all in the first place. I also collected a nice trash bag full of larger items that I won't be needing anymore, and really, that was so encouraging.
I even ran out to Target with Evie for little shopping spree. Hey, I needed pants! Also, Jimmy told me to. You did, Jimmy, right when you were walking out the door this morning. No, really, you did. I'm not lying. You did.

I don't know if it sounds silly to write about all this, but it means more to me than I can probably accurately describe. I feel like I have been trying to lose weight unsuccessfully for so long. Now, I know, there were two pregnancies thrown in there over the last four years. But I was honestly at the place where I just didn't think I could do it at all. And now I feel so much more like me again.

The thought that terrifies me is that I will finish the thirty days and then balloon right back up. Of course, we are planning to continue eating this way, more or less, indefinitely. Maybe forever. It's generally easy enough, and it's difficult to argue with how excellent we both feel. And I am happy with the adjustment as long as I can still keep my date next Saturday morning, 9am, day 32, with a latte and the pain perdu from the French cafe up the street. Seriously, I can almost taste it now. I mean, for heaven's sake, just look at it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


It's only Tuesday night, but this week is already getting away from me, and fast. An old and dear friend of mine visited from Philly yesterday, and we were able to get out for a great sushi dinner with another friend of ours last night. (Somehow it wasn't until we were well into the middle of a ridiculously long line of hand rolls that I realized just how much I missed my old friends.) But I'm not used to that much fun anymore, I guess, because that combined with this morning's scramble of preschool and appointments and getting my friend to the airport had me pretty fried by this afternoon.

We'll be out and about tomorrow, too, so I hope to have a longer post for you on Thursday. I hope. Because our Friday is looking unusually packed, too, so....oh, I can't even think about it, I'm so ridiculously tired. Good night!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Spring in Saint Louis

We were in St. Louis twice last spring on trips so close together that they are sort of blurred together in my mind. But the first visit was happy and relaxed, plenty of time to enjoy spring in the midwest, drinking coffee on the breezy sunporch, watching a storm roll by from the front porch, the girls and I being pampered by my parents. The second trip, though, was difficult. It was rushed, a mess of deep concern and heartache, trying to help and feeling completely helpless in the face of my sweet nephew's hospitalization.

This picture is from the second trip. For me it captures both the fresh, cool feeling of spring in the midwest, and also the sort of happy sweetness that I hope my girls brought to my family. Because I couldn't do much to help out except pick up a few groceries here and there, and really, isn't this much better?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

especially the volume control

My day has been a little more unruly than first expected, as Evie's nap schedule got all wonky and she's also recently decided to be very into playing with anything that is NOT one of her toys, such as bookshelves, photo albums, picture frames hung on the wall four feet off the ground, and stereo equipment. Instead of writing, then, I'm offering you a drawing I made for a friend last month. With all the awful news coming from across the pond this week, England has been on my mind. I spent a little bit of time there in college, and I'd like to wish all my best to them, with my hopes for a quick recovery.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


It's Wednesday, and Wednesdays are our day off around here, or rather, Lena's day off from preschool. So it's more like my day ON, and we have fun things planned. Instead of writing today, then, here is a photo I took on one of our many trips this summer. It's a Hipstamatic shot of Jimmy and Lena at Richardson's Beach in Hilo, Hawaii, where we were visiting my father-in-law. You can see one of the many, many, many Hilo rainstorms rolling in, but of course it was nearly impossible to convince Lena to come out of the water. She had such a ball.

I'm extra proud of this shot because it was included in a first round of picks on a recent Pioneer Woman photography assignment. I didn't win, but I'm still awfully pleased to have made it on her site at all.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

first, let's establish the latest crazy.

I want to tell you where I've been all summer, and I plan to, but first I want to write about what I've been eating. Not because I hope to torture you with a lot of diet blah blah, but because I think I need a little help along the way, and I'm hoping that writing about it will help. Also, Jimmy said I had to. So there's that.

It might be so overdue, but it's only been in the last few weeks that I've felt capable of spending some time getting myself in order. Evie didn't bother to try to sleep through the night at all until she was ten months old, which happened last February. I then spent the next few weeks in a different sort of daze, one that was the result of trying to convince my body that sleep was actually GOOD for it, a surprising task given that I'd spent the previous year in a regular-ol' normal sleep deprived daze. Yes, the previous YEAR. If you can sleep during the last two months of your pregnancy, more power to you. Also, thppppt!

Anyway, in March the girls and I flew to St. Louis to visit my family, because we missed them. Three weeks later my mom flew out to visit us in LA for Evie's first birthday. Three weeks after that, the girls and I rushed back onto a plane for St. Louis in a sprint to see my new nephew. And we commenced traveling every three weeks after that until, oh, two weeks ago. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. There may have been some joking about setting my suitcase on fire by the end of summer. And I may possibly have been not joking. Or maybe just a little bit not joking.

Ugh. Suitcase.

Most of those trips were to visit family (whom we love, and whom we loved to see. Not joking!) So, most of those trips involved an absurd amount of eating. And if it was Jimmy's family, also drinking. (Hey, his family is Italian, so, obviously. Mine is southern/midwestern. We just like to cover everything in margarine.) (Which always tastes so delicious, Mom. Don't get me wrong!)

Needless to say, my body has needed some serious attention.

After working out every day for a whole TWO WEEKS in July. I KNOW! And losing nothing! (Do you hear me, Jillian Michaels??) I may have gotten a little frustrated, which I believe my husband found, well, amusing. But when I thought about it, I realized the last time I'd managed to lose anything was when I'd cut sugar from my diet, a tough but highly successful experiment that might have done me a world a good had we not all come down with a lovely preschool stomach flu virus three weeks later. And oh, boy, do you want to lose some weight? Because Preschool Stomach Flu Virus will totally help you out with that. In no time.

So I decided to cut sugar out again, for a month, to see if that would help, and to see if that would re-wire my seriously sugar-addicted brain. Also, for good measure, I decided to drop alcohol for a month. Because our last trip? Basically a party weekend with Jimmy's family. Also, my regular evening glass of wine had turned into two, which I thought maybe was not the best trend.

Just as I planned to make these changes, I came across the Whole30 diet. It is finslippy's fault, but the timing of when I read her account was a little too, um, timely, and it stuck in my craw. My craw, I said. So, I read up on Whole30 and thought, these people are lunatics. Maybe I should try it! And then I tried to ignore it, but for some reason I couldn't (Did I mention my craw?), so then I enlisted Jimmy to talk me out of it. "I heard about this ridiculous diet. Can you believe it?? They say you can't even cook with olive oil! Crrrrrrraaazy!!!" (A cut to the heart, there - remember he's half Italian? I never saw so much olive oil before I'd met him.) And just like the wry, sarcastic, funny man that my Jimmy is, he joined me in my quest for ridiculing those health nut crackpots and put my mind to rest once and for all by saying, "You should do it! I'll cook!"

Wait, he said what?

Yeah. He's supportive like that. What-ev, I know.

And then we commenced a visit to Whole Foods to stock up on coconut oil, coconut spray, coconut milk, and olives. Oh, and chicken sausage. Who doesn't love a diet that involves chicken sausage?

If you want to know about Whole30, you should look through their website. Essentially, though, it is a no sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no gluten, no weighing, no cheating lifestyle cleanse. It's a paleo-style diet, which I hear is all the rage, but I had never heard of such a thing when I first looked into it.

I made it the first ten days without cheating, not even a tiny bit. I felt fantastic, had a ton of energy, my chronic itchy skin that I've had since Lena was born almost four years ago disappeared, and I lost four pounds. Also, I no longer woke up in the morning craving an entire pan of brownies, and that is not hyperbole. Why I cheated over the weekend, then, I couldn't really tell you. Maybe something to do with the fact that our only shower and bath currently has no fixtures and looks like it belongs in The Shining, all because I mentioned to the handyman last week that the shower was dripping a bit? It's been a little stressful. But I paid for cheating, because it only made my stomach hurt, and I spent the next two days itching again.

I don't plan to eat 100% paleo-style 100% of the time for the rest of my life, at least, not if I can help it. But I am trying to teach myself a new way to eat, a new way to look at food, and to hopefully get healthy and kick-start my metabolism along the way. I am also hoping it will help me with the recurring mild depression I've dealt with since high school, because otherwise I believe I'm very close to beginning anti-depressants, and I have a feeling if I do that I will never NOT be taking them. But so far, I see definite improvement.

Also, I should make it clear, I am still trying to exercise every day, if I can. I'm trying to make up with you, Jillian, really I am.

So, as the Whole30 plan is very adamantly NO CHEATING, I may add ten days to the end of this run, basically starting my 30 days over again. I haven't really decided, yet. But I'm hoping that blogging about the whole business will help. If you're on the same or similar plan, I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

family time

It's been a while, hasn't it? And although much of my absence is due to a wonderful, crazy, and incredibly tiring summer of too much traveling, that isn't really what interrupted my blogging.

A few days after my last post, my mom called to tell me that my brother and sister-in-law were heading to the hospital to deliver their first baby. It was a bit early, and we were a little concerned, but not terribly. However, the next few days and weeks were just, well, devastating. My nephew was born, but with so many complications that we didn't know how long he would be with us, and truthfully, we still don't. The girls and I hopped on a plane the following week in order to be there, to meet him, and to help (though I'm not sure I was exactly any help, with two toddlers in tow), and we've been traveling somewhere every three weeks ever since.

I think my nephew's unexpectedly fragile state is the hardest thing my family has ever dealt with, although the heaviest burden is, of course, on my brother and his wife. They are amazing, and I pray for joy in their lives, and rest. I only wish I knew better how to help from so far away.

Big, personal life events are not my forte when it comes to blogging. The last two extended blogging breaks I took came after I found out I was pregnant, and I didn't know how to be truthful here without sharing what was really on my mind during the weeks I still hoped to keep the news a secret. I'll have to work on that. I really don't want to take another break for some time.

More about my summer soon, I hope. Because as always, it just feels good to write.