I’m THAT Middle Aged Woman

When I was a child, my mother went through every diet she could find. She was an average-sized woman, on the thin side, always has been, but she was in Weight Watchers. She drank green-colored shakes that left a film in the sink and grunge on the blender no one could get off. She counted calories and took vitamins and pills designed to keep you from feeling hungry. She ate salads while we ate lasagna. She also ate heaps of ice cream when no one was looking. It always starts with your mother, doesn’t it?

I’d have said I’m not that person. I take up more space than your average-sized woman and I’m never on the thin side. I don’t count calories and I don’t eat salads. I’m bigger than I wish I was, looking more like my round father and rounder grandfather and nothing like the sylph-like beanpoles on my mother’s side. It’s getting harder to do the things I know I “should”. Exercise, eating things that are not doughnuts, you know. I think I care less. Or I thought I did.

You see, my wife is always in some sort of pain. Not in a whining, terrible way, no. She suffers silently. An aching back, a sore shoulder, a wince when no one is looking. And so, when she suggested looking into an anti-inflammation diet, I was right there with her. We embarked upon the detox phase only for her to say, halfway through, I didn’t mean for this to be a diet. But of course it is. The word diet has changed for me since my mother was weighing her low cal bread, meaning more of a habit of eating than an activity. But this, this feel-good (and it does), vegetable heavy, spice packed, way of eating is definitely a diet AND a diet.

It reminds me of the Whole 30 (check) and Paleo (also check) but not at all like Weight Watchers (check), all of which we tried for a year and abandoned. How am I not like my mother? I certainly don’t tell RR why we’re having stuffed portobello mushrooms instead of pasta but the flaxseed is sitting on the table and we’re clearly eating more green things than we ever have before. We’re trying to model heathy eating but are we doing that when we swing so wildly around? She is a beanpole herself and I’d like to keep her that way, if only to spare her the looks in high school, the disappointing trips to buy clothing, the pinched waist and sucked in belly.

But then again, here I am, with my own mother who surely wanted those things for me as well, only to fail when I turned out like myself. Raising a child is ridiculously hard work, when you think about it, especially when you can’t do that over a croissant and coffee.

The Pie Contract

That year in high school when I ate nothing but ice cream sandwiches for breakfast.

The time I was grounded for two weeks for sending my 10 year old sister into a store to buy candy for me (buy one get one free large bags of M&Ms).

The way I arranged the hostess snacks in the box so that it looked like there were just as many as there were before I ate two – assuming my mom wouldn’t notice when she made my sisters’ lunches.

The fact that I couldn’t stop myself from covertly eating one of the chocolate bars in my German host family’s pantry.

The month I ate all salads with my fingers even in front of other people in order to appreciate it more and eat less.

The cookies I have kept in desk drawers. The chocolates I have hidden in shoes. The empty plates I have shoved under sofas.

I have a lifetime of food issues. It’s the thing to talk about our relationship with things and in this case, my relationship with food has been outrageously difficult. It’s also the thing, in my family, to blame your upbringing and, in the past, I haven’t minded dropping a little responsibility off there. Now, I own it. No matter what was said to me when I was small, how I thought I looked, or how I actually looked, I have grown into a person who takes full responsibility for who I am and what I put into my mouth, whether it’s too much ice cream or a thoughtfully prepared, delicious, nutrient-packed meal.

You know, I’ve chosen to eat a lot of pie since November. I have enjoyed every last delicious bite. I’ve had pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve had two different kinds of pie in the same day. In one dire case, I hid pie in the back of the fridge so that my brother-in-law wouldn’t eat it. In fact, I’m not down with hiding food much these days. It was a moment of weakness so I won’t do it again. Probably. You guys, he eats everything. The thing with pie is that there’s an exchange. In exchange for pie, you either get to move more or weigh more. At least, that’s the exchange if you’re me. It’s the unspoken agreement you and the pie make.

After you sign on the dotted line with your fork, you then get more choices. Though I have been a member of many gyms (and still have a membership) we have an on and off again relationship that, while not as rocky as my relationship with food, has never been completely smooth. I crave variety and I crumble under schedules and routines. I’m old. I go to the gym when I want. For awhile I called an unused gym membership my “fat tax” in hopes that it would inspire me to go. The expression didn’t inspire me, it made me feel worse about myself.

I’m not slender. I am mortified to see pictures of myself from the last decade. Who is that person? What happened to her? Routines don’t work. Belittling myself didn’t work. Changing my mindset helped. It wasn’t subtraction I needed (eat less, don’t eat any of that), it was modification (eat this now, do that later). I’m not the person I was 60 pounds ago, so something must have worked.*

Which brings us to the point of this post. Because of our success (and all the pie consumption), my wife has recommitted for the new year. I haven’t said as much (though if you want to see, it’s here) because when I talk about eating differently, I hear myself saying that I’m currently eating badly, and my mind interprets that as being a bad person. It’s good to know your own pitfalls, people. I’m too healthy mentally to step into that trap right now. My mother, too, has opted in.

My dad, on the other hand, is always going to pick pie. And cookies. And whipped potatoes. And fries. Living in a house where 50% of the people have chosen not to eat those items AND one of those people is, by nature, a person who qualifies herself as good or bad depending on what goes into her mouth AND, without meaning to I suppose leaves a slight trail of I’m the one who is doing food right everywhere she goes, is really, really hard. I don’t want to eat pie, so I don’t. But I feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable taking actions that isolate my dad so I’m taking the middle ground. I don’t love it but it’s better than the alternatives.

Suffice to say, I am dead tired of thinking about food. I’m tired of planning menus for a house of people who eat different things or, in my mom’s case, claim to be eating different things. Further, I’m tired of playing defense when my mom suggests having pizza instead of cooking dinner (dude. I would have thrown it in the slow cooker if I had known you wouldn’t). Also, I know that one of my coping mechanisms in life is pie (in moderation) and I miss it. I’m unhappy**, you all. Thank you for listening.


*By the way, I’m not discounting a pretty hefty mental shift, the help of mood management, and a significantly lower stress, higher activity lifestyle. I’m also not discounting my genes, which are predisposed to eating lots of pie and retaining it unhelpfully in my belly.

**A note to my beloved wife who, even though I have TOLD her that I love her and am behind her 100% might read this and think I am unhappy with her: I am not. I am 100% supportive. Still 😉

I’m a TropicalNutIsland!

Speaking of whining (we were and the reason I know this is because after two days at home with my child, my ears are ringing with the sounds of a thousand harpies dying in a sea of “I can’t understand you”s), I’m doing a fair amount of whining myself of late.

I’ve got spare time at home though this is in part because I’m exceedingly lazy (I’m looking at you rusty railings that require sanding and painting) Also, anyone want to come over and paint our bedroom none of these colors?


And in part for reasons equally awesome (yes, my child naps three and sometimes four hours on weekend days) and frustrating (I miss my wife who, for all of her own reasons,  is ultra productive but leaves me well enough alone). On the plus side, I read an entire book this weekend. In two sittings. A+ for the Parasol Protectorate. It’s a throwback to my days in library school where reading romances, mysteries, and westerns were actually part of my classwork. Also, since it’s not spring, the garden isn’t getting out of hand as I find ways to stay in the cool house. February and March, move on already.

You’d think with constant cooking (we are taking another Whole30 time out – see my wife’s blog for more info), lingering family meals, full days at work, and all this free time to read, I’d find the days flipping past peacefully and quickly. Unfortunately, my brain isn’t wired that way. Thanks to an appropriate cocktail that allows for a double check when I want to do outrageous things at the drop of a hat, I feel like being wildly impulsive while being completely responsible. I think it’s reasonable to feel unsettled by that.

Ah, I’m just complaining after all. Perhaps it’s better to focus on the daily frenzy at work – plenty of teaching and conferences upcoming in the next month, something I can count on for exhaustion. Or, I can worry away at my parent’s visit at the end of April. I can sand railings. Paint. Might as well. Change that shiny gold switch plate in the above picture.

On a more interesting note, my child went to bed last night yelling “I’M A TROPICALNUTISLAND!” Nope. No idea where that came from. Maybe she’s reading my mind.




I am on day four of a migraine that just won’t quit.  I’m the biggest migraine if/then-er I know.  This comes, I’m sure, of a mother who simultaneously suffered from migraines and denied their very existence.  Well, we’re not even going to talk about that.

You’d think that the mental untangling I do at the sign of a headache would actually prolong it but it makes me feel like I’m doing something.  Doing something is the only thing that makes me feel better (even though it has no impact on the actual headache).  On day four though, I’ve pretty much run out of things that count as doing something.  Right now I’m in the “vengeance as a form of subjugation” stage but I know that this will followed by “give into despair” and “blindly go to the doctor for help in order to avoid the ER”.  The ER is the final step and happens once a decade or so.  Mainly because a) in the end their drugs never actually work and b) migraine complaints tend to fall to the bottom of the stack since they are an easy excuse for drug seekers.  I could spend those four waiting room hours in my house drinking water and moaning at the lights just as easily as I can spend them in a loud place, waiting for an IV with skeptical physicians.  Your mileage may vary.

According to the internet (and who can argue with that), one of the most common migraine triggers is a change in the weather.  Although my headaches are not always due to shifts in barometric pressure, that hasn’t stopped me from buying a barometer, following weather.com’s migraine report, and warily eyeing any coming front.  For the record, I fully blamed the recent storm on the east coast for the start of this headache despite the official migraine forecast of 1 (on a scale of 1-10).  I have also blamed wheat (paleo seemed to decrease the headaches), tension (personally-manufactured life stress ftw), house guests (invited), happily screaming toddlers (routine), vigorous leaf-raking, lack of exercise, dehydration, over-hydration, alcohol consumed a week prior, sleeping too late, too little caffeine, too much coffee, not enough protein for breakfast, bright sunlight, lack of vitamin D, and lack of sex.  As a result, I have attempted to soothe my head with everything from wrapping a bandana tightly around my skull (hot, see lack of sex) to applying heat to laying around in the dark feeling inordinately sorry for myself (and everything in between).

Today, I’m applying fluorescent lights, working out at the gym and a midday toddler halloween parade under the theory that violently circulating blood and copious squinting will force the demon from my brain.  Oh yes, friends, we’ve gone medieval.  By the way, I’m totally that girl who would have asked for trepanation.  Don’t think I haven’t considered self-application in some of my weaker moments.  I’ve just been too paralyzed to drive to the store for the proper drill bit (sadly, not sane enough to rule it out completely).  I’ve also written to you in the theory that distraction and editing tiny text will be the thing that makes it slink off in defeat.  P.S. It’s not working.

So thanks for being a part of my latest attempt to cure myself.  I’m going to whine on my way to the gym now and speculate on the possibility of halloween candy working for (as opposed to against) my cause.  And guys, at our house, there’s a whole lot of cuteness in the form of a two-yr-old saying, “TWICK O TWEAT”.  Happy Halloween.

Empty Closets

Do you ever wonder what you did with all that money when you were foot loose and fancy free?  Cause you were, right?  Or maybe you were angsty and at Hot Topic, which still, where did all the money go?

I can pin our sudden loss of wiggle room on two things: first, we changed jobs and second, we had a kid.  There’s nothing we can do about the first.  Quality of life and all that.  As for the second, what the hell did we DO with all that money?

Were we out sprinkling it in the streets?  Were we papering our walls with it?  Were we funding scholarships?  I have no idea.  I just know that once we had RR, we suddenly had no disposable income.  Impolite to talk about finances I know, but HOLY COW.

This might be less noticeable (but still WOW IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING?) if we hadn’t suddenly all needed a new wardrobe.  D and I are smaller people since our lives have evened out enough to make ourselves a priority.  Our clothes are falling off of us.  Literally.  When I was walking the dog.  Fell. Off.  RR is a also new size suddenly, but too differently shaped from her cousins/friends/neighbors to make any of her hand-me-down jeans fit.  The child has a teensy waist.  Anything that fits is too short and anything long enough falls off.  Fortunately, this won’t last but in the meantime, it’s getting chillier and her butt is getting too big for her only remaining pair of weather-appropriate gear.

So this morning, I opened the closet door and gazed into a closet of empty hangers.  It would echo if it were a bigger closet which makes it even more alarming that it’s half empty.  At this moment, I have just enough work gear to only have to repeat one shirt and two pants.  One pair of shoes.  One sweater.  One sweater?  I’m a librarian!  Then I went into my child’s closet and found that she had enough clothing to live in Arizona or gain 20 lbs but in the meantime, would have to wear leg warmers and too tight shirts.

Yes, we could (and have) bought new clothes.  But after wearing the same things for four (!!) years and having an endless supply of hand-me-downs for RR, we have allocated that money somewhere else.  Now we only have to decide where to peel it off from so that we can all leave the house clothed.  That’s easy, right?  RIGHT?!

Like a Bird…

You guys, I’ve had too much coffee and all the things I’ve been tucking away to say to you are now waiting just behind my teeth.  This thought is the first one:

I have had too much coffee.  

I realize that some of you, D included, could drink vats of it and go traipsing through the day without talking speedily and darting about.  Too much for me is, apparently, one and one half cups.  In the morning, I drink a cup of the cold-brewed stuff which not only makes it magically taste like fruit and toast but also makes it go down fast.  It’s not even a cup since I dump ice into it because I enjoy things that make me feel like I am inhaling a snowbank.  As an occasional drinker before turning paleo, I now am religious about it because it’s not eggs which, seriously, stare me down in the mornings until I crumple under the pressure.  This paragraph has been brought to you by too much coffee.

This morning, I stopped to get an extra cup for D and I  (hot, black, no room), drank about half of it, and then made a series of bad decisions.  By 10, my day had managed to flip me the bird.  I’m pretty sure it’s in cahoots with eggs I didn’t eat this morning.  Bygones, I think to myself, but this is not a good way to start the morning.  So allow me to take on the crap of your day for you.  After all, I’ve very little left to blunder into myself.  It’s a free pass for the day.  Every time you catch yourself thinking, “Why did I do that?” or “I hate it when that happens.” or, “My boss/baby/wife/neighbor is a douchecanoe.” just think of me and say, “When M gets here, she’ll kick this you/ this/that attitude into last week.  So suck it!”

I’ll be your superhero.  We all need one every once in awhile, right?

Cavebaby, Part II

So Cavebaby I was about us and this is about RR.

I’ll admit this to you guys, because I think you’re super, but don’t tell everyone else: we occasionally fed our kid boxed, shelf-stable ravioli.  I’d say we cooked dinner/lunch for her 6 out of 7 times, but sometimes what we were having wasn’t going to work for her and, frankly, I am not always so awesome that I wanted to cook her something else.  Weekend lunches were particularly hard. The point is, convenience was winning over whole foods.  And sometimes, it just has to.

But all of a sudden, D and I weren’t eating anything convenient.  No fast food, no restaurants, nothing boxed or canned.  It wasn’t such a leap for us (though the brownie withdrawal nearly killed me) but it really highlighted how much we were relying on not having to cook anything for her.  We just figured, you know what, the kid won’t die from eating something pre-made, we accept this.

And then, something happened.  Cavebaby.  All of a sudden, RR was refusing the ravioli.  As first we thought it was a fluke.  It was, hands down, her favorite meal.  So we offered it to her again.  This time she bypassed NO FANK YOU and sent it directly to the floor.  We gave it a few days, tried a different flavor and then tried again.  The anger, you guys.

The table seemed to always be stacked with vegetables, fruit and meat that she liked.  Not to mention eggs.  There’s no really way to describe her love for eggs.  Most of the time, she was eating with us.  And then we gave her the ravioli on a night we were having kale and bam, cave rage.

Our tastebuds had changed (I’d never thought spinach sweet before or bananas almost candy-like).  So, apparently, had hers.  We tried the ravioli twice more and both times she ate one piece and either spat it out (lovely, RR) or refused it.  She ate green beans from our plates and eyed our omelets.  It got so that when I set our plates down at the table, she looked them over first, just to make sure we weren’t with-holding any cave food.

This change had been a trial effort at first but it evolved into a full-blown lifestyle change.  We didn’t intentionally change our kid, but it’s pretty cool that it happened anyway!

PS – You guys are the only ones we’ve told about this and that’s cause I can’t see you giving me the hairy eyeball.  I’m the first one to sigh when someone talks about an extreme eating effort, believe me, but this has completely changed our lives.  Completely.

Cavebaby, Part I

D said to me the other day, “Well, when you finally come out…” and she wasn’t referring to my very out gayness.

She was referring to our paleo lifestyle.

There’s no way to put it, really.  No way that sounds like we’ve simply made a decision and moved on.  That’s what it is though.  All the verbs that go with it sound rocky.  We converted… (not a religion).  We’re trying… (not true).  We’re eating… (yes, but not the whole story).  Our diet is… (not a diet in the sense of losing weight).  We are… (we don’t know what we are). And so forth.

I don’t usually go on about food here.  I also think that, in this case, talking about what was would take far more time than what is.  Suffice to say, one day D and I looked at each other and said enough.  We embarked (not a journey) on a paleo-reset in an effort to (not an attempt) change (not completely) the way we were eating to a more healthy (for us) lifestyle.  For 30 days, we ate like cavemen, meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit – as much as we wanted – and nothing else.  Almost literally.

For 30 days, we joked about being caveladies with our cavedog and cavebaby.  When we were on the way home from the gym gnawing on jerky we said we’d found a spare buffalo at the oasis.  When we bit into those juicy cherries it was a gorgeous little cherry tree just north of the elk path.  The fish took some catching – triumphant!  The coffee bean bush caused us to move our cave location til we were right next door.  Cavedog begged for the chicken we caught and, unlike usual, he got no scraps because the caveladies would rather eat their arm than give-up any chicken.  We gave up (not as important as what we didn’t) suger, grains, dairy, legumes.

One of the most important things we faced was how to mange the impression that we were dieting or that we were having some superiority over others who were eating differently.  One part was not telling anyone.  Another part is focusing on the positive we eat this not that’s not allowed.  And, we removed the word “can’t” from the picture.  I don’t eat that.  It’s a choice.  We did follow specific guidelines, but as the 30 days wore on, we realized that we weren’t going back.  Sure, we’d add back in a bit of dairy or the occasional grain, but our food choices would mainly remain the same.

In all of this effort to work on ourselves, we didn’t intentionally make changes to what we offered to RR.  But let me tell you, putting aside how great we look and how good we feel, watching our kid transform into a cavebaby has been the most awesome of all.  Stay tuned…