Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'm on a diet

I hate diets. I hate most healthy foods. Eating foods I don't like puts me in a bad mood. Not eating any food puts me in a bad mood. It's safe to say I'm in a bad mood right now. But, being fat puts me in a bad mood, so eating what I like isn't an option.

I know all the rhetoric, it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change. Anything that requires me to consciously think about everything that goes into my mouth and avoid things I really, really like (like, say, potato chips and cookies) is a diet. The fact that it needs to be for the rest of my life just means that I will be on a diet forever.

Such a lovely thought.

I've found some decent alternatives, but some things just remain gone. Sweet potato chips? Are nasty and not an alternative to potato chips. Sweet potatoes are NOTHING like regular potatoes and suggesting I use them as a substitute? Will net you the glare of death.

Now DH, he's on this thing whole heartedly. For his bday? He wants a whole grain carrot cake. Which requires me to make it from scratch. Which is a lot of work for something I think probably won't turn out well (because we can't use regular sugar either, it has to be fructose). I'm thinking "dude, it's a birthday, live a little, let me buy you a decadent bakery carrot cake". He just looks at me over his 5 cups of lettuce with 1 tablespoon of dressing and says this is what is good to him and that if I loved him, I'd just figure out the carrot cake thing.

I'm stressing over this whole bday thing. He did really well on my bday (with help from his mom) and I'm struggling like mad just to have something that will look like I put any effort into it. That's the story of my life. Some things, that are hard for other people, I can breeze right through, but things that most people find to be absolutely simple just kill me. It takes me hours to clean the house whereas DH can do it in half an hour or less and have it look better. And while it may be the thought that counts, people tend to think that thought will show itself a little more than mine does.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Is this all there is?

Anyone else wondering when their real life will start? Surely this can't be all there is. Working parttime, monitoring homework, keeping house, eating supper, surfing and then bed. There has to be more to life.

But what?

I feel like my life is on hold and I can't find the "play" button. I can't figure out what action I need to take to get things moving.

I hate this feeling of waiting and wanting. I can't figure out what I want, or rather, NEED to do. I feel that there is something I need to do, but I don't know what it is.

Why can't I figure it out? Why can't I figure out what I am meant to do?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Listen up women managers

Okay, this is something that was brought to my attention. Women do not effectively manage men because we treat them like women. We prefer to lead and be led by concensus, with input from the following. Men DON'T. Women have learned to follow a man's style of leadership (even when we hate it and them). Men have not learned to follow a woman's style of leadership.

So, my tips for effectively leading men?

1) Treat men as simple animals. Tell them what they are going to do. Don't ask for their input. Don't ask them to help make the decision. Decide they are simply too stupid to have opinions. In short? Treat them as though they have less intellect than a 2yo.

2) Remember to treat men as animals. Just as you wouldn't show indecision or hesitation to an animal you are training, don't show it to a man you are wanting to lead. Always appear in complete control. IF a man does offer a good idea, ignore it. Then next opportunity, incorporate it into your directions, never giving credit to the man (it goes without saying that the next opportunity needs to be at least 4 hours later).

3) Never back down. Never be afraid to fire a man for not following. A man wouldn't be afraid to fire a woman. If management won't back you, document, document, document and then fire. Don't put up with insubordination.

Okay, so these are extreme. But, look at them and you'll see that they do follow the style of leadership men use and follow. Sure, a woman doing these things will be called bitch and ballbreaker, but the men will follow. A woman not doing these things will be considered ineffectual.

Of course, if your following consists of women, treat them as equals.

Okay, don't mind me, I'm just pissed because dh seems to think the way they treated their woman group leader was nothing short of natural. She asked them to decide what hours they were going to work and gave them a deadline and told them they had to choose. They said "no we don't" and thought that was appropriate. I told him they never would have done that to a man and he said " a man wouldn't have told us to choose". I countered "no, a man would have said 'these are the hours, be here or else'". He wisely bowed out of the conversation at that point. But it still pisses me off. I've had to lead groups of men who wouldn't follow me just because I was a "girl" and they felt I couldn't do anything about it. And management didn't back me, so I couldn't do anything about it. Good management would have taken my complaints seriously and started disciplinary procedures. But they decided it was MY fault the men wouldn't follow. Not the fact that there was no blowback for the men if they didn't take orders from me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Pina Colada Smoothie

This is a recipe developed by dh, wonderful guy that he is. It's not low in calories, but not as bad as it could be - 700 calories using (recipe is for at least 2 servings, probably 4 if you're more reasonable).

1 c crushed pineapple (we use canned)
1/2 c frozen pineapple (unsweetened organic if you can find it)
1/4 c cream of coconut
1/4 c coconut milk
1/2 c milk (low fat organic)

Blend all this, add ice to the desired consistency. Add rum if desired.

I call it a smoothie because of the fruit instead of fruit juice. It is really very good!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A new kitten?

So DH finally said I can get a new kitten. I could tell he was softening lately.

I think (and I could be wrong) that this is about another baby. I know he thinks (true or not) that his dad got his mom a new pet whenever she wanted another baby.

I'm conflicted. Sure, I want a kitten. Goddess Kitty isn't getting any younger. She's 11 years old. She's in good health and still acts like a kitten sometimes, but she will die, probably within the next 5 years. It would be nice to have another cat to soften the blow when she dies. The boys want a kitten of their own (like I'd let any kitten be their own).

But I don't want one if the idea is to replace my desire for a daughter.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Whew, he's home

So dh has been traveling this week. I've never lived alone. I went straight from my parent's home to the college dorms to living with dh. I've never learned to be alone, asleep at night.

During the day? I can sleep fine when I'm alone (in fact I prefer to sleep during the day with everyone gone). During the night? Well, let's just say that I don't sleep well when everything is perfect. When he's gone? Every noise wakes me up, the empty bed wakes me up.

This reminds me that if we ever split, I will follow past trends and will have the new man lined up before he's gone. I was, after all in the last throes of a relationship when we met (which had lasted way longer than it should have).

Yes, I'm an insecure woman. I need a man. God, I hate to admit that. That's just wrong. Maybe it's good I don't have a girl and can't pass this down to her. Society and its expectations got to me. I've bucked many a trend in my life (breastfeeding a toddler, in public no less) but this is one that I haven't managed to buck.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I have a confession to make

I am now officially a soccer mom. Yes, Hyperion and Oceanus are signed up for soccer. I didn't want to do it. I want nice little bookworm boys, not hyper sports type boys (I'm mostly kidding). If they had to do something active, why couldn't they dance or take a martial art? Something that would be inside and wouldn't be hours and hours every week?

I will NOT drive a minivan. Do you hear me? I'm a hippie mom, not a soccer mom, so there! If nothing else, I'm a Goddess Mom.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

So we went to a party

I was inside, noshing on cake and talking to some guests, dh and the boys were outside, playing in the pool and talking to the other guests.

Apparently dh told one of the women with 3yo twin girls how much I wanted a girl. I don't know if he's reading this blog (I don't think so) or what. I thought I did a pretty good job of not discussing these longings at home. I really don't want to leave my boys thinking they aren't good enough. Of course they are good enough. They're wonderful, perfect (okay, maybe not perfect) boys. I can't imagine loving them any more than I do now.

But, I can't deny that my heart's longing is for a little girl. I have more than a few friends who have adopted from China. This seems like a good way to assure that you'll get a girl (but occasionally people get referrals for boys). But it's expensive. And dh really feels like our family is complete.

I have to decide if I am happy this way or if I will eventually end an otherwise happy marriage. In order to stay happily married, I have to make this emptiness go away. But I don't know how to do that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

In which I brag about my kids

Okay, not exactly.

Today was the first day of school. Hyperion LOVED it. He bounced out of his class excited, gave his teacher a hug and started talking about how great it was. Oh, and he made a new friend today - Caitlin.

Oceanus, well, not so much. He said the teacher gave them lots of work. He says none of them finished it. I'm guessing placement tests.

Oceanus skipped half a grade and is technically a grade ahead of where he should be (technically because in a lot of states he would be exactly where he is, it's just that our state has an early cutoff date). I spend half my life worried they'll want to send him back and we'll be back where we were in kindy - with him finished with his work before most kids even started and bored.

Today, I was a mean mom and made them do homework, even though they don't actually have any homework. Oceanus did math on the computer. Hyperion worked with me on sightwords. I hope his teacher can spur his interest in reading.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

First day of school

Tomorrow. Which means getting up and out of the house early. Eek! School starts at 7:45am and we plan to walk - 1/2 mile (each way).

I've got fresh bread baking, new clothes washing and dh labeling supplies.

Kids are in bed, I think asleep, but who knows?

Oceanus' lunch box is clean and ready for his water bottle, sandwich and (slightly brown and mushy) banana. I'll load his lunch money account tomorrow and let him buy milk.

This school's lunch menu is austere. Tomorrow they will have ham and cheese sandwiches, baked cheetos and peach cups. That doesn't seem like many calories, but I guess that's about what they are used to from last year. At least it's healthier than what they've had before.

I'll put a water bottle in Hyperion's backpack and be sure to take a snack when I go to pick them up. I don't know if this school will offer snacks or not, their old school did.

I think we're ready. On to 3rd and 1st grade!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Geeky science post

I grew up in the midwest. Fireflies were a constant companion. I remember chasing them and trapping them in a mason jar with fabric, instead of a lid, in the ring. My firelflies were Lampyridae - a soft, easily crushed beetle whose bioluminscence came from the underside of its abdomen.

Now I live in the subtropics. We didn't see many fireflies the first year, but now that we've moved, we see them pretty regularly. I just figured they were the same insects I knew as a child. So, imagine my surprise when I picked up a click beetle (Elateridae) and found glowing patches on the extensions of its thorax (I'm not sure what these are called, but they're triangular pieces that extend down on either side of it's back). A-hah, fireflies here are not what I grew up with.

Click beetles are really cool. When they are on their backs, they are able to "click" and jump up in the air (several inches at times) and try to land on their feet. My dad introduced them to me when I was about 8 in the entry hall of the First Baptist Church where I grew up. I had hours of fun as a child by finding them and putting them on their backs to watch them jump. I'm sure this is just one step above pulling the wings off flies.

So, click beetles in the tropics? Even cooler. Apparently , they have an even brighter spot under their wings, but given how hard bodied they are, I haven't tried to pry the wings open yet. Given my curiosity, I'm sure that I will soon.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Frustrated scientist

I don't remember if I've mentioned this before, but I've always loved science. I wanted to work in a science field. Then came college.

Let me tell you, women aren't less interested or not as able to work in science fields, we're discouraged from working in the field. It was subtle and not so subtle things. Things like lab partners turning in the exact same report (as you would expect) and the grade being lower for the woman to job advisors going out of their way to track down the guys while women have to beg to get job leads and end up being directed to volunteer opportunities.

Then comes the actual job field. I was told that unless I wanted to do what I could to prove that I was american indian, I could pretty much give up on getting a job. I didn't believe them, at first. I applied for job after job. One job was supposed to be based strictly on a numerical formula. I had to take a test (and they provided our rankings based on the test) and submit my transcript. After that, there was supposed to be very little chance that someone in the top 3 wouldn't get hired for the 4 positions available. I was #2 on the test. I knew 5 of the 6 other applicants, they were classmates, I know that only 1 had a higher GPA. So #2 on the test, at worst #3 on transcript and I didn't get hired.

After that, I'll admit it, I gave up. I was tired of banging my head against the wall - it's not like the jobs paid that well anyway, $25k to start.

So, now I'm in another field, I basically push paper all day long. I like my job, for the most part, but it doesn't feed my soul the way science did.

A pox on men who think women just aren't interested in science. Bullshit, you won't let us in, assholes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Strawberry banana smoothie

1/2 cup plain, unflavored, low fat yogurt (preferably organic). Do not get the kind that is sweetened, that's just nasty!
3/4 1% organic milk
1-2 T flax seeds
1 banana (medium to large)
2 handfuls (about 3 cups) frozen strawberries
1-2 t real vanilla

Put the flax seeds in the blender, "liquify" until they are ground. Add the yogurt, milk and vanilla and blend until mixed. Add the banana and the strawberries. You may need to use the "ice crush" function at first. Finish with liquify.

To get a texture that's almost like sorbet, use a frozen banana. An overripe banana will yield a sweeter product.

I find this is a great way to get some extra fiber, fruit servings and dairy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

America is FAT

and obsessed with being thin. How does this compute? We're obsessed with thinness, yet we are fatter than ever.

I'm sure some of it is because we just don't choose to sacrifice. I know I don't. It's sooo hard for me not to get a Dr. Pepper. And if someone brings sweets to the office? I'm sunk.

But is all of it lack of will power?

Could, oh I don't know, cities without sidewalks, bike paths or public transportation help contribute? Cities that require us to get in our car just to go to the grocery store? Either that or walk 2+ miles (each way) along busy streets with no sidewalks?

How about the food we eat? Is it possible that the overprocessing of food is actually making us fat? I won't get into all the Weston A. Price stuff (okay, the guy scares me, what can I say?), but there is some evidence that aspartame (Nutrasweet) actually contributes to obesity. I don't know how good the evidence is, but I know it gives me raving headaches and just tastes plain nasty, so I don't ingest it. Then there are transfats. Which often get hidden behind the rules that don't require you to claim any if they're below a certain amount per serving size. Have you looked at the serving size of some of your favorite snacks? Most of them have been cut in half (or more) since the FDA required labeling transfats. This allows them to sneak it in under the line.

Then there's our stressful, busy lives. Gone are the days when you could just walk out and work in your yard. Now you schedule time or you pay someone else. It often takes 2 full time jobs just to pay the electricity, gas and food bills for people. So many people are terrified of losing their jobs (we've seen too many people who couldn't find another job in their field and end up working retail for $6/hr) that we work whatever hours the boss says to work. And with the government relaxing regulations on paying overtime, poeple are working 60+ hours/week for less (after adjustment) than they got paid for 40 hours 6 years ago. Where is the time for exercise?

Are there any solutions? Find a way to make "real" food more affordable and appealing. Also, find a way to allow people to scale back their hours so they have time to cook, eat with the family and play with their kids.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's a good life

Life here has been good. We haven't been nearly as hot as the rest of the US. We can exercise outside without worrying about heat stroke (well, at least not worrying much). Our town is still small enough we can walk to the movie theater (but big enough to have a cheap theater), the grocery store and even a bunch of restaurants. We can feel pretty safe while walking, even close to the border.

I'm trying very hard not to tell my mom to fuck off for giving my brother a 40th bday party (he also had a 30th with lots of gifts) when my 30th came and went with barely a call. She's trying to guilt me into sending a card. Newsflash mom, he and I don't get along. I barely tolerate him. The fact that you favor him doesn't help. 2007 will see a 50th and 2 60th bdays in our family. I'm looking forward to saying "no, I won't come, they don't bother with me, why should I go that far out of my way to bother for them". I'm sure I won't really say it, but you never know.

This journey is about finding myself separate of my family. I know they really want me to either conform or to go away. So, I went away. Well, they really want me to conform more. Well, face it, I'm not a brainless conservative, I'm a thinking liberal who refuses to believe the homosexuality is worse than greed, avarice and war. I don't believe that Jesus would have chosen to start a war elsewhere so that we didn't have to fight here (subtext - let those people die, not us, who cares if more will die because of us, we'll be saaafe).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Luring people to church

So, we were solicited to receive a free backpack full of school supplies. I asked questions, they said they had plenty, they were free, just come.

Silly me, I didn't realize this was a ploy to get people into church. I knew a church was a sponsor, but I got spoiled by liberal churches that gave without the expectation of anything. I forgot I'm in a conservative area and liberal churches don't exist here.

We rode our bikes. It was 4+ miles. We were hot and sweaty. In shorts and exercise gear. And expected to sit through a church service (which we were late for).

Now, I have no issues with expecting people to attend church for something free, IF you tell them that is your expectation. We might or might not have attended, but I know I would have been dressed nicer and in a better frame of mind. Of course, this was a mega church, so actually I wouldn't have attended.

Since we were late, we decided to just wait through the service, it had been going on for 45 minutes, how much longer could it be? Try another 45 minutes. Yeah. Then the kids get their backpacks (no parents allowed please - umm, WTF?). Now, the forms they had us fill out asked for school and grade. I knew this was a huge project, so I didn't expect a whole lot. Apparently, inside they had backpacks arranged by grade. So, imagine my surprise when they held the exact same things. As if a 1st grader needs a package of black ink pens. A good portion of the stuff is not needed by their school (side note, since when did schools start requiring glue sticks and not bottles of glue?), so will sit at our house waiting for the time it can be used.

But the backpacks? They rock! I may steal one from the kids.

We did get free hotdogs (white bread of course) and off brand cola (which I declined, if I'm going to have the empty calories, I want dr Pepper, TYVM).

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Disposable World

I think our culture may be getting out of hand.

I didn't say anything when Avon introduced their instant manicure (even though you can buy at least 2 bottles of nail polish for the price of one package). I ignored sunscreen wipes.

But instant lipstick? This is going too far.

Look people, packaging DOES add up. The more disposable the things you buy, the more it adds up. This whole "peak oil" thing? It doesn't apply just to the gas in your car. It also applies to the plastic that wraps everything you buy.

You want to save the world? Besides the obvious things (driving less, having a more fuel efficient car) think about all the things that contain oil products. Conventionally grown food uses pesticides and fertilizers made from oil. Plastic is almost completely oil based (there are a few vegetable starch plastics, but they aren't common). If tomorrow we found that all the projections on oil supplies were wrong, could you survive without oil?

Dr. Pepper take two

Okay, I made it over the 3 day hump and then caved and had one and then another one. Monday will again be 3 days. I was strong enough to make it through eating out without a soda. Even the kids chose milk with their kids' meals rather than soda.

We're getting better at riding our bikes to places on weekends. The next step is to ride to work. I'm still working out the whole "business dress" and riding a bike. My boss is mostly supportive and is going to work on getting a place for us to lock bikes.

The next step is a scooter, something like a vespa that will allow me to put my feet and legs in front of me and will work with a skirt.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

3 day hump?

I watched "Supersize Me" last weekend (if you haven't seen it, you should, it's really good). He talks about the 3 day hump when quitting an addiction.

I just finished day 2 of my quitting Dr. Pepper. These days weren't that hard. We stayed at home and it's not tempting at home (plus, I had cake, cheesecake and fresh baked bread).

Tomorrow? Will be hard. It's monday and the soda machine is a short walk away. I should bring home my change and remove that temptation.

I love Dr. Pepper, but with it's high fructose corn syrup it doesn't fit into my sustainable, healthy life. You'll know my addiction is bad when I'm driving to that small town west of Waco where you can buy it made with real sugar (Dublin, Texas). Hey, what's a day or two of driving to feed my addiction?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Shopping Spree

What kind of shopping spree does a goddess devoted to sustainable living have? A thrift store shopping spree of course.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

I guess thrift store shopping is reusing. It also reduces packaging. Of course, clothes don't tend to be that heavily packaged in the first place, but every little bit helps.

I got some of the coolest clothes. I'm very happy with them. They'll be great for work. I can get rid of a few skirts that no longer fit or just really don't look good on me.

I feel like a true goddess.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Whole wheat bread recipe

Part of our journey towards a more sustainable life was to try eating more healthfully - more whole grains, less "fortified" foods. So, for several years we paid $5/loaf for good healthy, high fiber, whole grain bread. Then we moved to an area where it was very difficult to get. So we mail ordered it. That worked fine, but it was expensive and we'd forget to order more when we got low, etc.

So, I dug out my stoneware bread pans and started experimenting.

I started with a recipe from Bob's Red Mill and it was good, but didn't have enough fiber and didn't really rise enough. So, I improvised. This is what I came up with:

3 3/4 c warm water (about body temp, too hot will kill your yeast)
1.5 T yeast (I have no idea how many packets this is equal to, I buy the freeze dried stuff at Costco for pennies on the dollar)
3 T olive oil
1.5 T Honey (I like to use local honey)
1.5 T molasses
1.5 T sea salt
3 T flax seeds (should be freshly ground in a coffee grinder for maximum health benefits)
9 c Whole wheat flour (I use a mix of whole wheat pastry flour and "regular" whole wheat flour, it's just cheaper)
5 T wheat gluten

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the sweets (honey and molasses) and allow it to start "waking up". Add the olive oil, sea salt and flax seeds. In a mixer with a dough hook, gradually add the flour and the gluten (I usually do a tablespoon of gluten for each cup of flour). Mix until it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and is "dry" enough to work with your hands. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface, oil your hands (better than flour to keep the dough from sticking) and knead in flour until it no longer feels sticky. This will take about 20 minutes and will really work your arms.

Place in a well-oiled bowl, turn the dough over several times to make sure it is coated in oil, cover the bowl with a towel. Let rise for about an hour or until double in size.

Once it is doubled in size, punch it down and divide it into 2 loaf pans. Oil again, cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled (about an hour).

Bake at 350F for about an hour or until well done.

If you're adding time, you'll realize that this process takes about 3.5 hours. It's definitely not "fast" food.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Negative Energy?

I've realized that I'm often a negative person. I forget that I live in paradise and have a wonderful family. So, I've decided that occasionally I will post a "things that made my day" post.

Today, things that made my day:

1) seeing parrots
2) finding out that one our affluent clients cro-hooks
3) weather that was nice, not too hot
4) nice bike ride (5 miles)
5) having a mother in law who visits and watches my kids while I get a 3 hour nap

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Random Energy Saving Tip

Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs and use up to 66% less energy.