Friday, January 30, 2009

The Real Housewives of .....Santa Clara?

Last night we celebrated a good friend's 40th birthday here. This is a girlfriend who used to teach with me, and left to relocate with her hubby to AZ a few years ago (she is visiting this week). She has since left teaching and recently published her first book Writing Above Standard with Scholastic. We are so proud of her. She just received the first copy of the book, hot off the presses, one day before her 40th - what a gift, what a milestone!
While we enjoyed good conversation, food and wine, the subject of botox came up. The gals in our group ranged in age from early 30's to early 50's (?) Who had done botox, how much it cost, how long it lasts, and how it felt were discussed. I have to say it is tempting! I don't really feel I have the money to spend on it at this point - but maybe when I'm 40! Might be a good gift. Until then, I will be more careful to use my night creams and wear sunglasses. When did I start getting old?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

good news and bad news

In our family, we start a lot of conversations (with Miss P typically) , with the following opener: do you want the good news news or the bad news? As in, "the bad news is our friends called and cancelled our playdate because so-and-so is sick. But the good news is, now we can do the museum trip we've been trying to plan!"

So, here's a weekend recap, the good news and the bad news...

good news: slept like a baby Friday night
bad news: crashed 20 minutes after P, missing Friday Night Lights again and leaving E dateless and desperate on the couch (however with full TiVo priviliges)

good news: got the whole family to the YMCA on Saturday. E and I to work out. P to the 'children's play area,' (i.e. child watch). P surprisingly upbeat to go.
bad news: child watch had closed 30 minutes prior to our arrival

good news: we decided to take turns juggling errands with P, while the other person worked out. Workouts were accomplished!
bad news: E's 'errand' to Target left us $100 poorer...........

good news: we had a wondefully lazy Saturday, doing puzzles, watching the end of movies, and just being silly.
bad news: completed puzzles are now taking up every flat surface in our home. E is also deciding to shirk responsibilities in lieu of completing said puzzles (long after Miss P - the puzzle's target audience - has given up in boredom)

good news: Miss P delighted us in church this morning with a lovely singing performance accompanied by the rest of the church preschool. All were brave and cute!
bad news: no good photos!!

good news: overall, my new clean eating regime (The Ultramind plan) has been great. I've learned so much. And even though I'm only like in the second week, I already feel that I won't revert back to my old habits. The whole foods taste better, and I feel better about me.
bad news: oh, the sugar and chocolate cravings! missing dessert at night. dealing with eating at diner type restaurants (like the one E's grandparents took us to after church today).

bad news: after the diner experience, we met my dear sil and bil and our sweet twin niece and nephew, who were in town to pick up their nanny from the airport. Niece and nephew are about 20 months, and, as it was raining, sil and bil chose an indoor play maze, aptly named 'The Jungle.' Guess who followed P around the entire time, while E sat and shot the sh%$ with the other adults (father in law, other sil) who stopped by?

The toddler area where niece and nephew hung out was too young for P, and the 'older kid area' was a little too chaotic (Miss P literally ducks and covers whenever two or more active looking boys jostle by.) I wouldn't mind if she actually dug the place and had fun, but much of the time she asked for one of the build-a-bear type stuffed animals the place sells (if any family present is reading this - we still enjoyed seeing you and are always happy to see the kids!)

suffice it to say, the day kinda stunk.

good news: will I be on my couch tonight, watching 'Under the Tuscan Sun,' which I recently have had the hankering to see? Will I follow it up with reading the last chapter of my excellent book. Will I tune out any husband requests to look for things?

what do you think?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What do you like to read?

Sometimes I hesitate telling people I love to read, because the next question is, "what are you
reading now?" Or, "what is your favorite book?" I am not one who reads serious, critically acclaimed books. They are too often depressing. I realize when it comes to books (and movies) there is a particular formula I love: in the beginning of the story, the protagonist is facing some kind of challenge, or is in need of a life 'reinvention.' Protagonist works hard, and after various trials and tribulations, and a little bit of luck, ends up on top. (A little humor and romance thrown in helps as well). So, your basic inspirational story, without violence, or other awful happenings. A little predictable, but entertaining and feel good.

Right now, I'm reading Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club. (I haven't read the knitting club books yet, they are next on my list.) I have to say - I love Comfort Food. Curling up with it each night has been such a treat.

Other favorites of mine:

Waiting for Birdy by Catherine Newman.
The Undomestic Goddess and Remember Me? both by Sophie Kinsella.
Amanda Bright@home by Danielle Crittenden
It's not about the Bike by Lance Armstrong.
Mrs. Pefect and Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter.

They may not be on Oprah's book club list, but they've been wonderful reads for me. When it comes to books, do you have a particular formula you subscribe to?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Whole Foodie?

New year, new me. I've been skimming an interesting new book called 'The Ultramind Solution.' Basically, the premise is the simple - 'You are what you eat.' What was new-ish to me, is the author's theory that so much of how we feel - not just physically, but mentally and emotionally - is related to what we eat. Of course, I know that you can get a 'high' from sugar or caffeine, and that alcohol is supposed to be a depressant. But he goes a little further to say that so many conditions we have, some minor, some serious - from stress, fatigue, forgetfulness, too much worrying, or just plain feeling negative - comes from problems in our diets. And that if you clean up your diet - you will (may) feel completely different.

This reminds me of some posts I read on 3 Peanuts. She shared some time ago that she and her two sons had struggled with various ailments, seemingly unrelated to food. After many visits with different doctors, one suggested that the family cut gluten out of its diet. After doing so, all of their symptons disappeared, and have stayed away for a few years now.

As much as I believe in being healthy - my diet has been terrible for awhile now. I don't drink much caffeine (but I do/did a lot of decaf diet soda, and decaf coffee). I just didn't want to put in the time and energy into making healthy meals for myself. I did make some effort at dinner time, when we we all eat together, and I did make an effort in putting together Paige's meals. Other than that, I've been like a processed food queen, I'm embarrassed to say.

The book suggests cutting out all processed foods, sugar (except what is found naturally in fruit), caffeine, alcohol, high fructose corn syrup and trans or hydrogenated fats. And it goes a step further and suggests cutting out dairy and gluten. All for six weeks. At the end, you re-evaluate how you feel, and decide what to add back into your diet.

I've decided to do almost all of it. I'm keeping dairy and gluten in my diet for now. And, I'm allowing myself one 'off the list' item occasionally - my Sta&bucks nonfat, decaf mocha. I just can't quite give that up. I'm hoping that all the other changes will be enough to notice a difference.

Here's what I am eating:

Breakfast: Kashi Go Lean cereal from Whole Foods with blueberries or strawberries, and organic low-fat milk

morning snack: handful of walnuts, with blueberries mixed in

lunch: caprese salad usually (organic tomatoes and a few cherry tomato-sized mozzerella balls sliced up), a couple of slices of whole wheat bread from Whole Foods with the least amount of ingredients, including no sugar

afternoon snack: a banana and organic peanut butter (just roasted peanuts), or celery and peanut butter

dinner: a salad with apples and walnuts, and some sort of chicken or protein.

I also fill up my siggy water bottle and just drink water all day. I rarely took vitamins before. Now I'm taking care to take my multi-vitamin and I'm adding extra B6 and B12. (Author is also a proponent of fixing vitamin deficiencies in his quest to heal the whole you.)

Anyway, I figure even though I'm not following the plan to the 'T', just these improvements should be enough to notice some kind of difference (I won't post what I was eating before!) 30 minutes of daily exercise is also on the list.

What motivated me to do this? Even though I'm basically happy, I've always had a vision of myself feeling more peaceful and content. I've always tried to elevate myself through mental exercises - like reading and positive thinking (hence, the blog title). Now, I'm wondering if maybe a physical strategy might be effective. I'd love to wake up feeling joyful and energetic each day.

So far it has felt good to be eating so fresh. E has gotten into it, and has spent oodles of time washing and cutting up fruits and veggies, which has been sooo helpful. I'm realizing in some ways it isn't that hard at all to eat healthy. Will I find myself feeling like a whole new me in a couple of months? Time will tell!

Monday, January 5, 2009


Tonight I'm looking forward to tuning in to the newest Bachelor, followed by 'The City' on MTV. I have also tivo'd Oprah, and am looking forward to watching her 'Best Life' series this week. I love opportunities to just chill after a day of hard work - it's so satisfying. Over the holiday break, I was soooo lazy. Just got into a zone and couldn't get going. When I think of the things I could have accomplished with some discipline!

Oh well, school definitely gets my arse back in gear. Miss P and I were up and at 'em early in order to arrive on campus at 8:00 a.m. The preschool director called me mid-morning as I led a math lesson, to say that P missed me, and could I swing by at some point? Due to rain we were kept in at recess, so my first opportunity was lunch, and the miss was mostly fine by then. Had a pretty great, easy day with my kiddos and left on time!

One of my detailed goals/resolutions for work this year is time-managmement oriented and I had a plan in place to leave school by 3:30, zip home and exercise outside in the courtyard while Miss P ran around and (hopefully) worked on riding her bike. However, I forgot to fill E in on this plan. On Mondays, I take her to school, while he picks her up (and I usually stay in my classroom, toiling away, making sure everything is just so). As I greeted my darling P with a big hug at half past 3, suddenly this handsome guy strolls into the preschool classroom. OOps! Guess I forgot to clue him in on my plan. It was great to arrive home early as a family and get a jump on the evening.

Back to this evening, I love 'The City' starring Whitney. There has just been two episodes, but I like the NY vibe, and enjoy Whitney. I'm glad to be back in the groove of getting stuff done, and am looking forward to finding some little projects to work on while I get my pop culture fix. Anyone else watching?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!

Had one of the best New Year's celebrations ever. We gathered with two other families for a party complete with sleepover. We ate, drank, and all was merry. The kids played nonstop and the dads did a beer tasting, and my two girlfriends and I relaxed! We did the 'east coast countdown' with the kiddos and finally settled them down to bed in one room upstairs. E was quite skeptical that this plan would work, but it did. Miss P did chat the two boys to death, but finally all three monkeys were told to 'shush, and go to sleep' and they did. The 'grownups' proceeded to drink a bit, play games, and watch the real countdown. A couple of us started to nod off around 1:00/1:30 so that ended the night. Sadly, we were left with many more drinks and games. We were quite ambitious!

The next day was even more fun with a leisurely breakfast and chatting about resolutions and plans, while the children blessedly continued to get along and amuse themselves. We finally packed up and ended the party at 6:00 p.m. New Year's Day!

Today we are finally breaking down the decorations. We have continued to have plans with friends and eat a meal a day out....this evening we are headed over to our final get-together. Tomorrow it is Sunday School and the last day before vacation is over! I can't complain much as I have just three teaching days and then my regular days off on Thurs and Fri.

I have made some specific goals/resolutions that I'll share in an upcoming post!