Sunday, October 18, 2015

Distilled Christianity

So I have this philosophy about getting down to the roots of Christianity.  I'm trying to get rid of all the trappings, all the extra stuff that goes with the belief system that I follow, in order to understand what the core of Christianity really is.  A lot of folks don't understand why, they think I'm taking something away from their belief system, but it's not about that.

People have been muddling up God's creation from almost the very beginning. The first documented proof is Genesis 3:3 when Eve adds the "don't touch" to what God said about the tree they weren't supposed to eat. He didn't say anything about touching, or climbing or rolling around in the fruit of the tree of life.  Heck, according to the word of God, Eve could have picked great quantities of the fruit, made a body mask, and steeped herself in it. Not saying it would have been a good idea, but it would have followed the letter of the law.

Ever since then, people have been trying to put words in God's mouth. They add rules where no rules we given. Some of these rules might even have been good ideas in the beginning, I mean, if it helps you to resist temptation, then don't touch the fruit, just don't misrepresent the self made rules you live by, to God. And I make plenty of rules for myself, it's why I'm not on Facebook. I make rules for my life to help me follow the path I think I'm supposed to follow, but they're my rules, not to be attributed to God nor imposed on others.

The nature of religion is to add trappings, pomp, circumstance, to build an awe of not just God but all the things surrounding Him. I'm not sure why we do this, but I think it might be out of selfishness. By building awe around our belief system we build awe around ourselves. We self elevate, and that by itself is the purest nature of sin, putting self above God. In case you haven't figured it out, I don't really like religion.

I prefer to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe God has had two contracts with humanity. The first, the contract of old testament, was based on rules and sacrifice. It lent itself to pomp and legalism. And it was impossible to live up to. The second contract between God and humanity is all about love and forgiveness. It's about Jesus's sacrifice and redemption of our sins instead of conviction for them. It's about accepting ourselves for who we are, knowing that we're loved by God DESPITE our fallen nature. So when it comes to core beliefs I throw out the old, after all, the real purpose of the old testament was to point toward Jesus coming. Instead I focus only on the words of Jesus, and make those the foundation of what I believe.

I'm not saying that's all I live by, after all I want to be the best me possible, but I need to distinguish between God's contract with all people, and the rules I have built for myself. My rules may help me to resist temptation, to overcome my specific struggles, but they are NOT to be imposed on other people. I try to judge myself conservatively, but be liberal in my acceptance of others.
You might think this a contradiction, but I see it as the example Jesus set for us. He was sinless, blameless, perfect; an example I can never live up to. But he associated with the worst of the worst, the poor, sick, prostitutes, the hated tax collectors, and he always dealt with them in love. The only time he showed anger was in fighting the trappings that had grown up around religion, and those who had instituted them.

So I look at the rules that I was taught growing up in church, many of them with their roots in the old testament. A lot of them are good ideas to aspire to, they may be a guide that helps me to live my life, but I have to be careful that it stops there and not let it color my opinions or acceptance of other people. I need to "live my best life" (thank you Oprah) but not impose it on other people.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

101 ways my life is better now than 20 years ago (when I was younger and thinner)

Sometimes I need to take a moment or 20 to remind myself how much good is in my life now, and how even though I used to be young and thin things are still much, MUCH better now!

1.  I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world who keeps me sane and cleans house and cooks better than I do (seriously, he even makes pie crusts).
2.  I have the most amazing little girl who I love more than I ever imagined possible.
3.  I get to take bubble baths on a regular basis.
4.  I have a great big garden tub for taking bubble baths in.
5.  I have company for my bubble baths (which makes the garden tub even more important).
6.  I have some nice fluffy towels.
7.  And a stained glass window over the tub (I've totally wanted one of those for years).
8.  For that matter, I married a man with pretty stained glass in his coffee table and lamp.  I tell him I married him just so I could live with his coffee table.
9.  I have a smart phone, and it's red, and has games!
10.  I drive a car that I bought new, and it gets 42.6 MPG.
11.  I care about the gas consumption of my car.
12.  I know that my hair is curly, not just frizzy, and sometimes I know what to do with it.
13.  I have hair dye, and I'm not afraid to use it, in a variety of colors... some of them never occurred in nature.
14.  I only have one zit at the moment, and sometimes not even one, and I don't have that many wrinkles yet either.
15.  I've realized that I have pretty good eyebrows with very minimal (and not at all painful) maintenance.
16.  I know enough to get confused by the rule differences between college and pro football.
17.  I have really comfortable pajamas, with pockets!
18.  I know how to knit.  Not that I know everything about knitting, but I tried to learn three times, and failed the first two.
19.  I know how to sew well enough to make my own purse.
20.  I'm beginning to understand what colors look good on me, what a "soft summer" is, and that I don't look good in black.
21.  I have walls in my house that are different colors, and not a single one is off-white.
22.  I get along well with my mother despite her predilection for off-white walls.
23.  I have a really great duvet cover of good thick, heavy cloth that stands up really well to cat claws.
24.  I have several different kinds of ice cream in my freezer, and know of at least three kinds that are better than anything I had growing up.
25.  I have popsicles too.
26.  And Yorks.
27.  And dark chocolate M&M's (not in the freezer) which they didn't even make 20 years ago.
28.  I know what good grapefruit is, and that I can only get it at one time of year, and that time is now so I have a bag of it in my refrigerator.
29.  I have a job that is intellectually stimulating, but not all-consuming (so I still have time to knit and do laundry).
30.  I know several different salad recipes that I like well enough that I could easily eat salad every day.  I probably should eat salad every day, but that's another story.
31.  I live in a neighborhood with a pool, not that the pool's open most of the year or anything, but it's nice to have one in the summer when I remember to shave my legs.
32.  I know what ADD is, and how it affects my life, and some things that I can do to work with it, and sometimes how to medicate it.  That's a nice change of pace to just not understanding why I was so terrible at school.
33.  I have learned what to do to take care of my back so it doesn't hurt randomly.  Yay inversion table!
34.  I have toe socks.
35.  I have The Sound of Music on DVD.
36.  I have read the Lord of the Rings, several times.
37.  And The Wheel of Time, but only once (it's a lot longer).
38.  And a lot of other good stuff, not just SciFi and Fantasy.
39.  And a lot of other complete and utter crap, so I have something for comparison.  It helps to really appreciate the good stuff.
40.  I have an understanding of why some literature is really great, and have read some really great stuff on my own.  I also know enough to feel that my opinions are valid, so I can intelligently say that some of the crap they made us read in school really was crap.
41.  And some of it would have been good if they hadn't edited out the good parts and let us have enough time to read the whole thing (hello Odyssey!).
42.  I have a Kindle, and it fits in my purse a LOT better than most of the books listed above, and can hold many of them at one time (which makes reading serieses back to back a lot more convenient).  The dictionary says series is already plural and then goes on to use it repeatedly in examples as "a series".  I have "a cat" in my lap, but not "a cats" so I'm respectfully disagreeing with the dictionary and saying that series is singular and using "serieses" as the plural form to refer to multiple serieses.
43.  I feel free to disagree with the dictionary.
44.  Kindle text-to-speech, makes all kinds of house work more bearable.
45.  I have a bed in which I sleep more comfortably than I have ever before in my life, now if only I had the time to use it.
46.  I have a really old and squashed into shape body pillow without which I can't sleep worth anything, but with which my back doesn't hurt.
47.  I've learned enough about art, all the arts really (visual, written, performing...), to understand its progression and how the forms relate to each other so it really is only one progression followed by all the arts, and don't feel like I've missed out on much just because I can never remember the various dates when things happened and the start and end of all the periods.
48.  I've learned that even if I understand it, it doesn't mean I have to like it, and to collect only what I love (that goes for paintings as well as films and music).
49.  I've learned that if I buy it simply because it was a good deal that won't make me love it later on. 
50.  Which means I should really only buy toilet paper on a good deal, cause eventually I'll use that up anyway.  If it hangs on the wall (or in my closet) I should only buy it if I love it.
51.  I've learned that I can fix a lot of things that I never would have thought possible (having the internet and a good set of tools helps).
52.  I've learned that sometimes if it's going to be done right I have to do it, and sometimes things are worth doing right.
53.  I've learned that my time is worth something, so sometimes it's worth the convenience of having someone else do it.
54.  I've learned that some things are better left to the professionals.  Maybe I COULD find and fix that leak under the sink, but the plumber will do it a lot quicker, and it'll look a lot neater when he's done.  Also, I'll worry about it coming undone less.
55.  I've learned that worrying rarely helps a situation.  That doesn't mean I don't worry, but I try not to. After all, thinking about a problem can lead to thinking of a solution.
56.  I have coffee that's better than Starbucks on a daily basis, and it's fixed by someone who knows exactly how I like it without having to ask.
57.  There's an oak tree and a Japanese maple in the front yard, I've totally always wanted those.
58.  I have every color of Play-Doh known to man on my coffee table (and embedded in my carpet), and some colors not known to man.
59.  Cable.
60.  Tivo.
61.  Netflix.
62.  Hulu.
63.  Amazon (for a plethora of reasons, not just my viewing pleasure).
64.  And a husband who doesn't regard me as a lazy bum if I spend hours viewing any of the above (when my daughter will let me).
65.  YouTube, with my daughter, for hours.
66.  My commute is from my bedroom to my basement, only way it could be shorter would be if it stopped in my living room.
67.  My hours are really flexible, and only VERY rarely start before 10:30 AM.
68.  I finally managed to stop biting my fingernails.
69.  Two kitties that like to snuggle up and keep me warm!
70.  My husband gave me a SpotBot for my birthday a few years back that does a great job cleaning up behind said kitties when they throw up on the floor.  I know, husbands are not supposed to give anything even remotely vacuum related to a wife as any sort of present, but...
71.  My husband knows me well enough to know when to break the rules.
72.  My husband values the appliances as much as I do.
73.  And uses them every bit as much as I do.
74.  Sometimes more.
75.  I've found a birdfeeder that's almost entirely made of metal and sturdy enough to stand up to the raccoons.
76.  There are raccoons that regularly show interest in the bird feeder, so I get to watch them.
77.  I get to watch the cats watching them, and that's one of the best things ever!
78.  I hold out hope for them coming early enough for my daughter to see them one day.
79.  There are deer that regularly wander through my yard, much to the chagrin of my azelias and hostas.
80.  My daughter enjoys watching them even more than I do.
81.  My daughter has learned to feed the cats.
82.  She's also learned to peel and eat boiled eggs.  These two things are not related.
83.  Recliner couch!  These used to be two separate things, but now I know better.
84.  I have neighbors close enough so that I can play in the snow with their kids.
85.  I have a daughter of an age that makes this not creepy.
86.  Instead it makes me the sainted neighbor who keeps the other parents from having to venture out far in the snow.
87.  Said neighbors also partake in my random baked goods, which are generally sweets, so I REALLY don't need to keep the whole batch of whatever my recent craving led me to make.  I LOVE the neighbors that save me from the fudge!
88.  I've come to the realization that I have more house than I need.  And I have the smallest house in the neighborhood.  It's nice to not have house envy.
89.  It's nice to not have envy in general.  I've come to realize I've been blessed in so many ways, and to be happy with enough.
90.  I have three generations of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and have learned that it's a great reference for all kinds of foods.  Even if I'm making a recipe from somewhere else, if it doesn't have clear instructions I can look in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for similar recipes and generally fill in the blanks.
91.  I regularly have TWO Christmas trees.
92.  I've come to realize that ALL kinds of clothing can be altered in ALL kinds of ways, to make them fit better, or more comfortable, or less annoying.
93.  This includes bras.
94.  I've learned I don't have to get it right the first time.  I can keep tweaking it, and trying it until I get it the way I want it.
95.  I've learned that sometimes my Mom does a better job organizing my house/stuff than I do, and to just go with it and take advantage of her while I can.
96.  I've really just learned to appreciate my parents all around in ways I never knew possible, but particularly my Mom.  Which is awesome because we all know mother-daughter relationships tend to be a bit tenuous.
97.  I've learned I can't buy self-worth.
98.  I've learned I can feel better by exercising self control and holding off on a purchase until I've really thought it through.  And sometimes there's more power in not buying something, especially when my reasons are well thought out.
99.  I've learned that I don't need to impress the lady in the shop by showing what-all I can buy.  And that I can be friendly and nice while still saying NO.
100.  I know that sometimes it's nice to know that you have enough to cover all the bases, but seriously I could get rid of 90% of what I have in my china cabinet and never miss it.
101.  I've learned that my capacity to love is unlimited, and only needs a new person or situation or way to love to stretch it's bounds.

I've been working on this list for a couple months.  I'm sure I've missed plenty of things, and I hope I don't have to many duplicates, but it's late so I'm not going through and rereading it just to miss them the second time around.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Making Muffin Quiches with a two year old

My little girl is home sick today, so I'm looking for interesting ways to feed her, and also keep her out of her daddy's hair at the same time.  I kept imagining involving her in the cooking process, and even better watching the consumption of a complete protein laced with green vegetable, so we decided to make mini quiches today, from a recipe that I half made up half cobbled together from various other recipes I've read.  But who wants to mess with pie crusts with a two year old.  Here's what you need:

A regular size muffin tin.  I only have a 12 muffin pan, but you could probably adjust the recipe to fit whatever size you have.
Refrigerated biscuits in a can, the kind with the layers
Shredded cheese
Eggs, I used 7 in a 12 muffin pan, but after seeing how they turned out I think I should have only used 6
and then you have the quiche add-ins, feel free to change these if you like...
Diced ham, we had some ham left over from dinner earlier this week so I just diced it up after the little girl went to sleep last night.
Frozen broccoli florets, I like the Birdseye for this application because they're really small, the smaller the better for throwing stuff in quiche.

Gratuitous eating of grated cheese from the bag ahead!

Preheat the oven to whatever your bread in the can says it needs.  There are going to be leftovers so we're going to cook those first.
Spray your muffin cups and a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
Open your biscuits and take out one biscuit.  Use the layers to pull your biscuit apart into thinner rounds, and try to get three fairly even pieces from your biscuit.  Hand each third of a biscuit to your two year old and tell him/her to put one in each muffin spot.  Once your muffin tins all have a biscuit piece the bottoms you can have your two year old put the rest of the leftover biscuits on the cookie sheet and bake them according to the directions (minimum cooking time worked for me).

Check to make sure the biscuit thirds are fairly even in the bottom of the muffin tins and have your two-year-old sprinkle a tiny bit of cheese on top of each biscuit.    Go back behind and even out the cheese where she added to much or not enough.

Add a little bit of broccoli and ham to each cup, this turned out to be about three florets per cup with the Birds Eye broccoli.  You'll have help for this too (not just eating cheese).  Then have your two-year-old add more cheese (that's were more eating cheese comes in).  Hide the cheese before the whole bag gets dumped on the muffin tin, but not before a fair bit makes it on the floor.

Break your eggs into a small mixing bowl, add a little salt and pepper, and scramble them with a fork.  My two-year-old likes to crack eggs, so I had to wrestle one out of her hand when she wanted to add an 8th egg.   While I was scrambling eggs I had the two year old add a touch more cheese to each muffin cup on top of the veggies and ham.    Then hide the cheese again.  Add a little egg to each cup.  It won't be even, but try for as even as you can.  My two-year-old wanted to add more cheese to the tops.  I thought they were done, but she didn't.  You can guess who won.  I should have hidden the cheese.

Bake for the maximum length of time recommended for your biscuits then check them every two minutes or so for jigglyness.  Yes, "jigglyness" is a word despite what spell check might say.  "Jiggles" just doesn't cut it.  Anyway, check them every two minutes.  Notice that one of them seems to look wet on top.  Keep cooking them, even though most of them look done.  After a few checks decide that maybe the wet spot isn't uncooked egg but instead could be ice that was attached to the frozen broccoli.  Cook them a little longer anyway, just to be on the safe side.  I ended up baking mine for about 20 minutes.  Try not to step on the cheese on the floor while you're checking your quiches.

When they come out of the oven they're pretty delicate, like a souffle, but after about 5 minutes cooling you can run a butter knife back first around them and they pop out pretty well.

Sweep up the cheese on the floor even though your toddler is still eating it.  Catch her raiding the pile as you're sweeping it.  If you can't see to much lint and garbage in your pile of cheese, just resign yourself to what is happening and put your swept up cheese in a bowl and give it to your two year old.  Remind yourself that the human body is designed to build up immunity to germs, which it can't do without at least some exposure.  So by allowing your child to eat off the floor you're actually giving him a stronger immune system.  You're welcome.

Now try your quiche.  Pretty good isn't it?  Now try to give one to your toddler.  Try to bribe your two year old to take it.  Break off a single bite size piece to wave under your two year old's nose.  This finally garnered a reaction.

"I don't like quiche."
"You've never had it before."
"I don't like it."
Taking a bite yourself, "It's really good.  It's eggs, you asked for eggs this morning."

Waving tiny bite under toddler's nose, "It's eggs with cheese and other stuff you like.  Just try a little."

"You can't have any Skittles until you eat breakfast.  Just take one bite."
Watch hopefully as she takes the small bite your holding, looks at it, holds it up to her mouth, he teeth meet and she consumes maybe three molecules of quiche... and spits them out.  Seriously, there wasn't anything to spit out, so it was just spit!  Then go take a bubble bath with your two year old.

I refrigerated my leftovers (seriously, nobody but me is eating these things) and they heat up well in the toaster oven.  They're pretty good cold too.  If you're going to eat your feelings they might as well be a complete protein with a green vegetable embedded.  And cheese is comfort food... so are biscuits for that matter.  Feel comforted.

Recipe alternatives:
A lot of the quiche recipes I ran across call for onion that you've cooked before you add it to the quiche.  I was going to do this the night before when I diced the ham, but it turns out we're out of onion (grocery list, check).  I think scallions would be great in these, and you wouldn't have to pre-cook them.  You could experiment with other types of vegetables, I think frozen spinach would be good if you broke it up quite a bit.  I might try mushrooms some day, but I'd want to pre-cook those too and I'm not generally a huge fan of canned mushrooms.  Anyway, feel free to add whatever leftovers you have.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Living with myself, in the present

I'm never here.  Oh, I look like I'm present; I've learned to smile and nod with the best of them.  But while the world passes me by I live an alternate reality inside my head.  I'm always thinking about what I should be doing, or what I could be doing, or what I'm going to do, but very VERY rarely am I focused on where I am.

I also spend a lot of time thinking on what I'll do WHEN.  When I loose the weight, when I have time to exercise, when my little girl is old enough to do whatever it is for me, and how I'll implement this project I have in mind to start 6 weeks from now (when I've already got 6 projects in various stages of incomplete).  And I live in various fantasy worlds, how I would live my life if my American Idol/America's Got Talent auditions had gone differently, or what if I got around to writing one or more of the books in my head and got it published, or what if I was an artist who actually made a living creating... ANYTHING!

I wonder if it's part and parcel of the ADD.  I've noticed this is particularly bad when I WANT to do something (usually want to make something, some project I've started) but I'm doing family things instead, and you know what?  It's causing me to miss out on what's REALLY important.  Ok, so potty training isn't glamorous, but if I let it be it can be plenty exiting!

When I can manage to focus on the present I realize, it's pretty good.  I have a fantastic husband, an amazing daughter, and a job that leaves me enough free time to occasionally create things on the side (and it's a pretty interesting job too).  Why can't I manage to be fully HERE more often?  When I do manage it I find I'm more satisfied with the way things go and my evenings move smoother, perhaps because I'm enjoying time with my wonderful husband and fantabulous daughter instead of getting frustrated at all the things I'm not doing.  But when I let my mind wander all I see is wasted time, wasted tasks, wasted effort.

I need to find a way to keep myself present, to keep from thinking that I'm wasting time at the very times I should be enjoying the most.  So in an effort to focus on the here and now I've made a few resolutions (I would call them New Year, but I've actually been working on these for several months now).

  • I will medicate my ADD, not with sugar or with caffeine, but with actually ADD medications.  I will find a schedule for these medications that works for me, a way that doesn't interfere with my sleep schedule (to often, occasional insomnia comes with the territory), and will manage those awake hours in a way that makes good use of the time (not in reading the entire WOT wikia yet again).  If my current medication doesn't work for me then I will find a doctor who will work with me to find one that does.
  • I will get up and move more.  I may make use of my treadmill desk, I may go for a walk, I may take up running, or I may do something drastic and try to catch up on the yard work that needs doing around here!  But I'll try to do something active starting maybe 2-3 times a week.
  • I will no longer waste time shopping for stuff that doesn't make sense for me to buy.  They're very pretty, but I already know way more than I ever needed to know about diamonds.  There is no need for me to spend time browsing in stores that don't sell clothes in my size, so if you don't make an XXL or 16 you can expect me to cancel your store credit card, and just because I like your handbags doesn't mean I want to see all the cute outfits that I'll never fit in to so you can expect me to unsubscribe from your newsletter (I'll buy my handbags somewhere else, or better yet, make them).
  • I've got to cut way back on sugar.  Oh, I know I can't cut it completely out (my husband's cookies and cakes and bread are WAY to good), but I can cut out the Skittles and the M&M's (even the dark chocolate peanut ones) and try to pair my sugar with whole grain flour whenever I have to bake.  I know I'm going to have some sugar, but I'd rather have one truffle from Godiva than a whole bag of Starbursts.  
  • And while I'm at it, I'm gonna eat more green.  Not that I'm gonna eat a salad every day, but lately I've been so focused on making more room in the freezer that I've lost sight of what I should be eating.  Don't get me wrong, it's nice that I've cleaned out a couple of ice cream containers, but I KNOW I'm just going to go out and buy more ice cream.  It's satisfying to see more room for stews and meatballs and chili, but I've got to stop eating things just because they're there.
  • And on that note, I've got to pay attention to what's just there.  I've always been bad about mindless eating, so I have to find ways to clear stuff out, put it aside, make it plain that the bad stuff is not for me.  Oh it'll still be in the house (I need the Skittles to bribe Talia), but it'll be somewhere that's designated for other people and NEVER in my office!  I need to clear out my office snack drawer of everything except healthy snacks, really only nuts.  I don't need chips or crackers or pretzels, and if I do need chocolate I need to make the effort to go get it from some other part of the house.  
  • So I suppose I need to create a stash of high quality chocolate that's not in everybody else's way (boy, this to-do list is growing).
I need to be the wife I want my husband to be married to, and the mother I want my daughter to see.  That means more than my relationship to food by-the-way.  It also means I need to act like I care about myself.
  • I need to wear REAL shoes when I go out, not just house slippers that I tell myself look almost like real shoes.  I should probably not even wear tennis shoes most days, but I'm still working on that.
  • I need to wear makeup.  It makes me feel better about myself.  I may have the most pared down makeup routine on earth (OK, I know I don't, that honor belongs to my mother), but that routine needs to exist (it hasn't for a long time).  It needs to be something workable that I can maintain and do every day, or at least almost every day.  
  • I need to wear clothes that are right for me.  Not that I'm going out and buying an entirely new wardrobe, but I need to stop falling in love with something just because it fits.  I need to learn what colors work for me (after years of wondering I think I've finally figured out that I'm a "soft summer" though I have yet to really figure out what that means I should wear), and yes that means no more black.  It doesn't matter that it's slimming, and worn by ninjas (can ninjas wear brown? purple?), and it's EVERYWHERE.  Black doesn't work with my skin.  I've known this for nearly 20 years (since prom dress shopping) and yet I still have black in my wardrobe.  It's gonna have to go.  
  • So are the socks and underwear (and anything else) that have holes in them.  It's not like I don't have enough socks and underwear (if I ever get around to folding laundry so I can find it).  If it's holy and worn out and I can't mend it then it needs to go.
  • And to top it all off, if I live in the present then instead of having my mind wandering, maybe I can use all that extra brain power to be more understanding of others.  Starting with my husband and daughter of course, but I look back over the years at conversations I've had (or only had in my head) and way to many of them were me spouting off about stuff I thought I knew.  I'm sure I've lost friends for it.  Maybe instead of trying to convince everyone (mainly myself) that I know everything, I should be more accepting of what other people know, or need.  Maybe I should recognize that I don't know it all, indeed as I get older I start to realize just how much I don't know, and maybe if I'm here, REALLY HERE, I'll start learning from other people what they know so much better than I do, about EVERYTHING.
Is that enough?  I don't normally make resolution lists, certainly not around New Years.  In the past I've laughed about New Years resolutions (even if I secretly made one or two to not keep on my own).  Maybe that's another thing I need to change, but this list is long enough already.  I tried not to put any absolutes in there.  I know I'll fail (there will be dark chocolate peanut M&M's) but if I don't cut things out completely, if I only do as I should part of the time, it will still be an improvement over what was before.  But then, I'm not thinking about what was before anymore.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Making "peace" with XXL

Ok, so I thought I'd accepted myself a long time ago.  I'd accepted that I'd never be a size 2, or 6, or even a size 10 again.  But recently I've been trying to come to grips with the idea that I may NEVER AGAIN buy my clothes in the regular sizes of a department store; that there are plenty of brands that don't even make clothes in sizes I could ever wear.  To someone who's interested in more than decency, but who actually cares about fashion, well it's a hard blow to take.

You see, I've known I had a weight problem for a while, but I always thought it was something I could fix if I just found the key, if I ate less, exercised more.  Everyone kept telling me, it's just a matter of calories in/calories out.  And that may actually be the case, but calories out isn't as simple as all that.  Ten years of an undiagnosed under-active thyroid should have taught me that, but somehow it didn't, and as I've been tracking what I eat lately I'm beginning to recognize that I just don't burn as many calories as everyone seems to think I should.  Even with the most sedentary lifestyle every online calculator says I should be burning about 2400 calories a day, so why is it that with a diet of 1300-1500 I still weigh 192-194?

YES!  I'm giving numbers!

Not that I've always eaten as healthy as I do.  I certainly didn't count calories in college, and with an all-you-can-eat cafeteria it was no wonder I gained the freshman 15 three years running.  And even years after that I depended on the convenience of fast food for lunches and never hesitated to order that milkshake when I was out with friends.  But then my knees started to hurt, and I starded to realize that they just couldn't handle what I was making them carry, so I started to cut back to 1000, 900, eventually even 800 calories a day.  I had doctors telling me that I must be eating more than that, that I wasn't recording accurately, that I was lying to them.  Then my under-active thyroid was diagnosed, and I thought that was the key to everything.  And to some extent it was.  I certainly weigh less now than I did when we first started medicating my thyroid.  I've lost all the "baby" weight.  And I held out hope that if I just watched things close enough for long enough that I could make it back down to a 12, that magic number that would allow me to go into almost any store, find something cute, and not have to worry about whether they make it in my size.

But I'm coming to realize that just isn't so.  After months of tracking my food, eating POUNDS of cabbage, maintaining my caloric intake at a level where I should be losing at least a pound a week, I'm making no progress.  I'll get to the end of a week where I just KNOW I'll have lost weight only to find I've gained half a pound.  Oh, life's not all salad and water.  After all, what's life without the occasional Oreo, but I'm not sitting down and eating a whole package of them, and I AM counting what I eat!  1600 calories is a big day for me, 1800 is a huge splurge (not to be indulged in more than once a month or so).

To make matters worse, I MOVE.  Oh, I know I lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle.  I sit at a computer for work, and for fun.  I'm sitting at one now after all.  But I also take walks with my two-year-old, who likes to be carried everywhere, especially up our steep driveway.  I chase her around the house.  I take her swimming and to the park.  And I DON'T count exercise as a concession to allow myself to eat more.  Most days I drink nothing but water and coffee (with milk, no sugar, and I count the milk against my calories).  On the rare occasions I have juice I cut it with about 2/3 water.  I don't drink soda, not even diet.  And still I'm stalled.

I remember what I was like when I was eating 800 calories a day, and I really don't want to go there again.  I was a bitch.  I was miserable and irritable, and I said things to people that I really shouldn't have.  My husband was worried about me and I don't want to be that again.  I need to have a healthy relationship with food.  I can't go back to that compulsive relationship with food, especially if I want to teach that healthy eating to my daughter.  I don't want to be that mom that won't share a bite of her daughter's ice cream, that won't relax and enjoy the family funnel cake on the rare occasions one is available.

That's not to say that I can just let it all go and eat everything I want.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life either wired or in a sugar coma.  But I need to find a way to make peace with the idea that I will never be thin.  Not just not thin.  That I will be fat.  For the rest of my life.

This is hard.

Fat is not something I feel, though my knees tell me I am, especially when I'm going up stairs.  Fat.  It's a hard word to accept.  But it's something I need to do.  I need to make peace with fat so that I can move on to other things.

It's so easy to say, "I'm not going to work on other things in my life because right now I'm working on losing weight."  "I'm not going to buy new clothes till I reach size ..." "I'm not going to go to that audition because no one wants to see a fat person on stage."  "I'm not going to work on my bad habits, I'll work on them when I lose 50 lbs."  And yes, dispite the fact that I've lost over 50 lbs already, I do still need to loose another 50 lbs.  But I can't put life on hold until I do.

I need to be healthy.  All of me.  Not just my weight, but my sanity.  I need to work on my personality, to get out and have friends, and to accept that it's quite possible that how I am now, is how I'm going to continue to be.  That's not to say that I'm giving up, certainly I'm going to keep eating plenty of salad.  Eating breakfast.  Avoiding all-you-can-eat anything (even salad bars).  I'm going to keep trying to fix my metabolism, and keeping on the doctors to make sure my medicine is not just adequate, but optimal.  But I need to learn to be accepting of myself to.  If I don't then I hate myself, and that's not a good place to be.  I know, I've been there often enough.

But how do I learn to love who I am, not just despite my flab?  How do I learn to LOVE MY FAT?  I don't have the answer.  I'm asking.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Wheels on the Bus

Ok, so the past month or so I've spent an ENORMOUS amount of time singing or listening to The Wheels on the Bus.  It's my daughter's favorite song.  She wants it in the car, she wants it before she goes to bed at night, and when I'm not singing it she wants to watch the innumerable versions on YouTube.  So I've been trying to compile the most complete, authoritative version possible.  So here goes.

The first thing you need to decide when singing the song is: "All day long" or "All around the town"?  My daughter likes to say "town" so we go with that one most of the time, though if I'm trying to calm her down I sing very softly and to with "all day long."  So here's what we sing, repeatedly, every day.

The wheels on the bus go round and round,
round and round, round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
all around the town.

(She likes to jump up and down on this verse, so again we skip it if I'm trying to calm her down before bed)
The people on the bus go up and down,
up and down, up and down.
The people on the bus go up and down,
all around the town.

The people in the town get on and off,
on and off, on and off.
The people in the town get on and off,
all around the town.

The doors on the bus go open and closed,
open and closed, open and closed.
The doors on the bus go open and closed,
all around the town.

The money on the bus goes clink clink clink,
clink clink clink, clink clink clink.
The money on the bus goes clink clink clink,
all around the town.
(Cause the driver's not gonna start driving until he gets paid, right?)

The engine on the bus goes vroom vroom vroom,
vroom vroom vroom, vroom vroom vroom,
The engine on the bus goes vroom vroom vroom,
all around the town.

The driver on the bus says "Move on back,"
"Move on back," "Move on back."
The driver on the bus says "Move on back,"
all around the town.
(Cause yeah, the people who are still standing are gonna be stumbling if they're not holding onto something when the engine goes vroom.)

The horn on the bus goes beep beep beep,
beep beep beep, beep beep beep.
The horn on the bus goes beep beep beep,
all around the town. 
(I figure that'll startle the baby.)

The baby on the bus says "wah wah wah,"
"wah wah wah," "wah wah wah."
The baby on the bus says "wah wah wah,"
all around the town.

The mommy on the bus says "Shh shh shh,"
"Shh shh shh," "Shh shh shh."
The mommy on the bus says "Shh shh shh,"
all around the town.
(There are a lot of versions that have the mommies and/or daddies saying "I love you." and mashed together in one verse, but I thought they should each have their own verses.)

The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish,
swish swish swish, swish swish swish.
The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish,
all around the town.
(My daughter really loves this verse, and when she swishes both her hands and her butt swish back and forth.)

The dog on the bus goes bow wow wow,
bow wow wow, bow wow wow.
The dog on the bus goes bow wow wow,
all around the town.
(I am fully aware that it is likely the only dogs allowed on the bus would be service dogs, and they're unlikely to bark, but this verse shows up in so many versions, and my daughter likes dogs so we leave it in there.)

The children on the bus say "yeah yeah yeah,"
"yeah yeah yeah," "yeah yeah yeah."
The children on the bus say "yeah yeah yeah,"
all around the town.
(When my daughter is having fun bouncing or rocking on something she often says yeah, yeah, yeah with each bounce or rock.  That's the idea behind this verse.)

The daddies on the bus say "I love you,"
"I love you," "I love you."
The daddies on the bus say "I love you,"
all around the town.

(I thought with all THAT going on it was about time we had someone get off!)
The bell on the bus goes ding ding ding,
ding ding ding, ding ding ding.
The bell on the bus goes ding ding ding,
all around the town.

(I've only heard this verse as daddies reading their papers, but I have them saying "I love you."  I believe in involved parenting.  And my experience in parenting is that we don't have time to read papers anymore.)
The commuters on the bus, they read their papers,
read their papers, read their papers.
The commuters on the bus, they read their papers,
all around the town.

(I originally heard this verse as people chatting, but I have people going up and down.  I try not to repeat the subject.)
The ladies on the bus go chat chat chat,
chat chat chat, chat chat chat.
The ladies on the bus go chat chat chat,
all around the town.

(Time for the bus to pull over.)
The signal on the bus goes blink blink blink,
blink blink blink, blink blink blink,
The signal on the bus goes blink blink blink,
all around the town.

The gas on the bus goes glug glug glug,
glug glug glug, glug glug glug,
The gas on the bus goes glug glug glug,
all around the town.

The antennae on the bus goes back and forth,
back and forth, back and forth,
The antennae on the bus goes back and forth,
all around the town.

The wheels on the bus go round and round,
round and round, round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
all around the town.

(I sing this one much slower when I'm putting her to bed at night.  I got this verse from, one of the better versions out there.  They're also the only ones I've seen who have someone on the bus reading a paper.)
And then at night the bus goes to sleep,
the bus goes to sleep, the bus goes to sleep.
And then at night the bus goes to sleep,
all night long.

I've really put way to much thought into this.  I feel like my brain is oozing out my ear, course that could be lack of sleep.  Did I miss any verses?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Crafting for Critters

Ok, so I haven't updated in a LONG time.  I'm SO sorry.  Lately I've found myself making things with my hands, and that's been my creative outlet more than writing.  I'm not going to turn this into a craft blog, but I thought a few of my new designs might be interesting so I'm going to share them anyway.

The first distraction I ran into a few months back was a cat peeing outside the litterbox, we're talking multiple times a day.  It was horrible.  I have two 11 year old cats, both rescues, and it didn't take long for us to figure out that one of them (the female oddly enough) stands up to pee, which means that any standard litterbox she's gonna pee over the side.  I don't know why she stands up to pee.  She ruined a couple of automatic litterboxes by peeing on the motor before we figured out what was going on and switched to a top entry litterbox.  That worked pretty well with only a few accidents for several years, but then she developed an affinity for peeing on bath mats.  After a few years in a mat free house she branched out to rugs, the floor under the rocking chair, piles of clean laundry, and most of all the laundry room floor  There were times when I was mopping the laundry room floor three times a day!

I tried a variety of different cat litters, keeping everything off the floor, even removing the mat under their food, and nothing worked!  Then I read an article that said that as cats age the top entry litterboxes can get harder for them to use.  Jumping out of the litter causes wear on their hips.  So I started looking for another litterbox.

I needed something with high sides for my cat who pees standing up, but it couldn't have gaps or open seams where the hood and litterbox joined.  I searched EVERYWHERE without finding anything that would work for a high peeing cat, and then a friend pointed me to, a website run by a veterinarian that covers a variety of cat related topics.  She had posted a litterbox design for a box that you could make yourself.  It wasn't specifically for a cat that pees standing up, but I found that with a couple of adjustments and a higher cut door it would work pretty well.  And best of all, I made it from a storage bin that I got from Target for $8.99, a far cry from the $40 that I'd spent on my previous litterbox.

So, if you're in the market for a litterbox, here's what you need to know!

Litterbox design
I got the idea for this litterbox from which has a lot of fabulous information on cats, but I modified Dr. Pierson’s design a bit to fit my high peeing cat’s needs.
What you need 

  • 30 gallon or similar size storage bin, you don’t need the lid – The one I got was this Sterilite tote for $8.99 at Target : 
  • Yard stick or tape measure
  • Something to cut with – The website ( suggests a utility knife, but I didn’t have one, so I used a saw for the main cuts, and some heavy duty kitchen shears to clean up the edges.
  • Sandpaper – to smooth out the edges, you don’t want your cat getting scratched or caught on the sides

Measure several times (and hopefully you’ll only cut once)

1.   On the long side of the box measure up from the bottom 8-10 inches and make a mark. Dr. Pierson suggests 8 inches, but I found my cat peed right over that, so I’m going with 10 inches. The door can be adjusted up/down a little with this litterbox design.
2.   Measure the width of your widest cat, that’s the width I used for the bottom of my door (about 6 inches for my cats). Again, Dr. Pierson suggests 8 inches, but I’m trying to make the bottom of the door as narrow as possible so that my cat won’t pee out the door, but I still want it to be comfortable for my cats.
3.   At you’re 8-10 inch height mark, make a horizontal line the width you want for the bottom of the door (the width of your cat). You want this line centered on the long side of the storage bin.
4.   Centered on the top of the box measure out the width for the top of the door. This needs to be at least two inches wider than the bottom of the door to make the door height adjustable. You want to allow plenty of whisker room for your cats going in and out of the box. I went with an eight inch top to go with my 6 inch bottom, but if you have bigger cats you could go with 10-12 inches easily.
5.   Draw a straight line down from the ends of the top of the door to the ends of the bottom of the door. These should be angled in an open V shape.

Here you can see from my rough cuts what you’re trying to do.
6.   Cut down the sides, be sure you’re cutting at an angle along your line, and then across the bottom. I used a saw for the down cuts, and kitchen shears across the bottom.
7.   Use kitchen shears to snip off any big jagged edges, and sandpaper to smooth them out even more.

Adding the adjustable height door
You could just leave it like this, but I like to use the insert I’ve cut out to give the bottom of the door a rolled edge. It makes things smoother for my kitty’s belly if it drags on the edge. Using the insert also allows you some adjustment of the door height in case you don’t get the perfect height.

1.   Position the piece you cut out from the door so that you’re looking at it top down, and the edge that rolls out from the top of the box is toward you. On the side away from you at the very top (this will be at the corner where the side meets the top, make slits 1-1.5 inches in on each side.
(see picture)

2. Slide your insert over your door so that the wall of the insert is inside the litterbox (this will insure that if the cat pees and hits the insert it is channeled into the litterbox) and the rolled edge covers the cut edge at the bottom of the door. The inside of the insert should lie flush with the inside of the litterbox.

The drawback of using the storage container that I used is that it has a ridge running around the side several inches down. I have to keep the insert below that ridge in order for it to lie flush with the side of the litterbox, but I can use the insert to adjust my door height up to the ridge and down as far as I cut.

Here you can see my old litterbox (approx $40) and my new litterbox (approx $9) side by side.
Since I've started using my new litterbox accidents have been ALMOST eliminated.  I keep the door insert raised as high as I can keep it, just below the ridge that runs around the inside of my storage container, and at that height even my high peeing cat doesn't pee over the side, but occasionally it gets knocked down a little lower and she manages to pee out a corner of the door.  But that's a rare occurrence, and moping the laundry room floor once a month is WORLDS better than three times a day!