Friday, March 6, 2009

Working my Workout Schedule

It's clear that I can't or shouldn't be doing high impact aerobics for two consecutive days. I was totally unmotivated to start this morning and when I did indeed start, my knees hurt. Initially I was all "work through the pain" and then I realized that I might actually hurt myself so I stopped. By that time, I felt it was a little too late to start anything else and so no exercise today.

I need to figure out a workable schedule. Right now it is as follows:
Sunday: Denise Austin Blast Away 10 Lbs (first workout on the tape)
Monday: Crunch Yoga
Tuesday: Jillian Michael's 30 Day Blast (Level 1)
Wednesday: Crunch Yoga
Thursday: Denise Austin Blast Away 10 Lbs (first workout on the tape)
Friday: Jillian Michael's 30 Day Blast (Level 1)
Saturday: Crunch Yoga (will be Yoga for Urban Living soon)

So on Thursday and Friday, it's high impact aerobics. I don't think my knees like that back-to-back abuse like that. I've got an exercise DVD on hold at the library right now. That might be the ticket. Otherwise, I may just do the second workout on Denise Austin's tape (which I don't feel gets my heart rate up enough for long enough). Actually, now that the sun is up so early, I think I may start walking for 30 minutes--fresh air and music on my Ipod. It's too late to go walking now as the family should be up in about ten minutes but I think that walking is a really good idea! And I enjoy it. Which is more than I can say for Denise Austin or Jillian Michaels.

New Things . . .

I find one of the best things about life is discovering and doing new things. So here, on the tail end of winter, it's nice to have some new things I'm doing.

New Thing 1: Knitting Socks
I've been knitting for a while now but this is the first time I've ever tried to knit socks. I'm using a pattern from Knitty called Monkey using Regia Silk sock yarn (a really nice yarn to work with) and they are turning out quite lovely. I think sock knitting could become addictive! Sock knitting is a small but functional project with some many possible variations. If I was focused completely on it, I don't doubt I could finish a pair in a week

New Thing 2: Sprouting seeds for the Garden
The seeds for the garden arrived yesterday. We bought seeds for tomatoes, peppers, carrots, kale, onions and chickpeas. Hopefully we'll spend Sunday sprouting the seeds that need to be started indoors. I think the last time I sprouted seeds I was in kindergarten so this counts as a new thing as far as I'm concerned.

New Thing 3: Yoga for Urban Living by Hemalaya Behl
Previewed the DVD and thought it would be a great one to have. I bought it on Amazon.com marketplace for a steal. Unfortunately, the copy I was sent is scratched so I couldn't really get through the routine earlier this week when I tried. The seller, however, seemed more than willing to send me a new one. I really like this particular yoga DVD--the set, the instructor and I'm hoping to have the new DVD here soon.

New Thing 4: Books I'm reading
I'm actually reading two books concurrently: Brick Lane by Monica Ali and World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler. Of course, when I'm done I'll review both but I will say this, neither book is that great.

New Thing 5: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Macadamia Cookies
Okay, I recognize that I am in ultra baking mode. It's winter. I'm in the house a lot. I love to bake. I love to eat what I bake. What can I say? I had the macadamia nuts just waiting to be used (okay, they could have waited longer) but I decided I wanted something chocolately. I used this recipe for the cookies but I substituted nuts for half the chocolate chips and used almond extract in addition to vanilla. I baked them for 12 minutes and they've not quite chewy (I like a cookie that's well done though). They're really good although Z1 won't touch them because they've got nuts in them. Oh well, he doesn't really need sugar anyway.

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Saturday is Z1's godbrother's birthday party. It's at a Chuck E. Cheeses type place and I know I'd be hard pressed to find anything wholesome and nutritious for him there. I'll probably bake a few chocolate cupcakes for him to take. I have to figure out what good finger foods to bring along for him. If I get a chance today, I'll get on my message board and search for "vegan party food for kids" or something like that.
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Right now, I'm procrastinating about working out because I just don't feel like it. I kind of wish it were a yoga day . . . I don't have to drag myself to do yoga. But I know I need cardio too especially if I'm to lose this weight. So . . . I'm going, I'm going.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Suffocating

I'm going to be a little bit real/revealing today.

The loneliness and isolation I often feel as a stay-at-home mom is suffocating and sometimes excruciating. On stay-at-home mom message boards you hear the concern a lot so I know it's common for women who make the choice to stay at home to feel this way.

I don't have many true-blue girlfriends to begin with. Somehow or the other, I just have never really had the opportunity to cultivate those friendships throughout my life being somewhat introverted and very "booky". Right now, I'd say, I'm pretty "different", I guess some would label me eccentric. I don't generally go with the flow and I *must* do my own thing. So here I am at 27 years of age and I can really only say I have about three friends, all of which I met as an adult. One lives far away (and we really only reconnected recently). The other is on her way to becoming a naturopathic doctor and has a child of her own so she's extremely busy. And the other works full time and has a child of her own and one on the way. Me and her generally do drive-by visits. Oh, and there's my sons' godmothers, one of whom lives in Ethiopia right now and before that lived in California.

I won't lie . . . sometimes I start to feel a bit sorry for myself and think that if I were back at work, I wouldn't notice the void so much because I'd be too busy running around. But going back to work so that I can ignore the void is not the answer, I know.

Trust me, I've reached out plenty of times. Joined meetup.com and other groups for stay-at-home moms. Somehow or someway, it just never really worked out and I have not been able to make real connections that way. I actually hate doing aerobics and would rather do yoga any day. I've been thinking about taking a yoga class. I also am interested in belly dance too and I know that would be a way to get fit that I'd actually enjoy. I'd like to take a class of that too. It struck me that classes might be a good way to make connection with all different kinds of folks (because while a good friend who was a stay-at-home mom and on the same tip as me regarding natural living and world view would be exactly what I need, I'm open to all kinds of connections). The problem is who would watch the children? There's really no money in the budget for babysitters and so I basically have to do things that I want to do alone while the kids are asleep or while the hubby is home. And since he's not home all that often, it leaves me with very little time.

Then I decide that it's silly to be worrying about making friends as an adult and I really should just turn on the radio, fold this laundry, knit this sock, read this book . . . but it's inescapable. Sometimes you just want to go over to your friends house and just sit. And it's magnified by 10x's in this cold, cold winter because generally when I feel this way, I could pile the boys into the stroller and walk for miles listening to music or something or go to the playground and absorb myself in playing with them. The snow and the cold make these things difficult if not impossible.

I get tired of taking the boys to the library, playground, and other activities where I end up basically talking and playing with my boys, while the adults ignore each other. Adults seem to want to avoid meaningfully connecting by all means. I recently called one lady who brings the children she watches to the library program we go to and while we seemed to have a good conversation at the library, on the phone she seemed disinterested and distant. I figured she only talked to me at the library, then, because I was there in person driving the conversation and face-to-face you often can't just be like, "leave me the hell alone." (It's a testament to my personal growth that I didn't personally feel rejected by her coldness on the phone.)

Anyway, many days the only other adult I speak to is the hubby and since lately he works so much overtime, I often find that the whole day has been spent talking to and dealing with children. I go to bed mentally and physically exhausted only to repeat the whole thing the next day. Recently, I've been making it a point to read at least one mentally stimulating article daily. Even if there's no one to talk to about it.

It's gotten to the point now where I don't even want to participate on message boards or comment on folks' blogs anymore. I'll ask a question or make a comment and no one responds to it. It makes me upset. I realize that what I really want is someone to talk to, to reason with, and most times, it's just not there. Instant messaging doesn't cut it . . . I can't be attached to my computer all day. The internet, all around, is a poor subsititute for a roll dog to vibe with and dialogue with.

The whole situation has me really re-considering homeschool. Honestly. If I don't have any connections myself, how will I help my children make connections? I want to homeshcool them but I don't want to cut them off from social interaction. I've been busting my behind trying to find it and I just can't. Sure they would go to music classes, martial arts classes, swimming classes, etc . . . but would that be enough? And where is the money going to come from to do all this extra stuff to make sure they have social outlets? We'd need more income and I'm not entirely sure I could work and do a good job with homeschool.

It struck me the other day that one of the better schools on the north side of the tracks claims to have closed enrollment, i.e. only kids who live in that zone can go there. But my sister-in-law sent her kids to a school on the north side and she says it was just a matter of talking to folks and making your demands known. This school is a blue ribbon school within walking distance. I substituted there a while back and was very impressed. I do believe Z1 and Z2 would do well there and it would give me a few years to think about what we'll do when it's time for middle school (absolutely no way in hell they will go to middle school in this town). While they're at school, I could work part-time somewhere or focus on getting an advanced degree--something that would give me flexibility and time for them. I definitely know that I don't want to go back to full-time teaching.

So, I'm telling you, it's suffocating. I love being here for my boys and being a stay-at-home mother, but like with every choice, there are consequences. You don't always know exactly what you're in for when you make a decision but being grown means you just handle it. So while I'm not depressed about it (because honestly, I have a lot of shit to do with a 3 and a 1 year old anyway--I can't sit around depressed too long about things), I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me, that it didn't make me sad at times. There's no easy solution to this. So all I can really do is take it one day at a time remaining as open as I can be to opportunities to connect.

(((shrugs shoulders))) Time to go work out . . .

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

So I'm looking through . . .

The Ball Blue Book of Preserving which I bought to learn how to can some of the veggies we get from the garden, most especially tomatoes. A few weeks ago, I was able to obtain 3 dozen Mason jars without lids through Freecycle. I was curious as to why they were all lidless but I figured I could just purchase the lids at a canning supply store (which I am yet to find). Reading the book today, I understand: the book expressly warns against reusing lids. I'm a little annoyed at that. So in order to can, you have to constantly purchase lids . . . and do what with the old ones? I'm not interested in doing craft projects with lids . . . I want them to be useful again and again. I know some folks just reuse them anyway regardless of what the book says but I'm just surprised that by now with the whole "green movement" blah, blah, blah, there are no reusable lids on the market.

These folks are always, always thinking about ways to keep you spending more, getting more. Sheesh.

Photo Credit: "One 2 Quart Mason Jar" by Gzap on Flickr.com

Cooking and Baking from the Pantry

Like many others, I'm trying to find ways to reduce how much I spend on grocery shopping. For the past few months, I have not purchased any new ingredients to try new recipes but have focused on using what is in my pantry (except for some macadamia nuts I bought to make ginger macadamia coconut cake--I realized after that I could easily have use walnuts but the change of pace was refreshing and I'm on the lookout for recipes that use macadamia nuts so that they will not go to waste). I focus on stocking my pantry with basics that I can use in a myriad of ways and try to have at least a month's worth of food on hand at all time. In the upcoming days, I will be re-organizing the pantry and I will try to post a picture.

I borrowed Veganomicon from the library again just because I like to read cookbooks and not because I was looking for anything special to try and found a recipe for Orange Cranberry Walnut bread. The recipe calls for fresh cranberries but I had dried in the pantry. We have walnuts and we always have fresh oranges. The bread turned out fabulously. I immediately thought that this bread would make a fabulous holiday mini-loaf to maybe sell at the hubby's friend's restaurant come holiday season this year. I could sell a mini-loaf for about $5 each and do well (thanks to my sister-in-law who gave me plenty of mini-loaf pans a few years ago).

Anyway, everything I needed to make the bread, we had already. That was so satisfying and comforting in a very real way. Personally, I'm growing weary of how much it costs every time I go to the grocery store. I watch as the prices of things I buy by default, including some vegetarian convenience foods like veggie burgers and soy yogurt, go up. With a picky toddler, it's very difficult to put these things down knowing that I will have to jump through hoops to get him to eat something else. For example, last I saw they were trying to sell soy yogurt for $1.20 per 6 ounces. Insanity. Plain soy yogurt is actually cheaper and less sweet than the flavored kind. I've tried to add vanilla flavor and maple syrup to see if he'll eat it. No go. I've tried mixing in various types of fruit preserves. "Mom, are you bugging?" And smoothies? You might as well offer him kerosene to drink. It's tough to swallow as a mom but I simply cannot pay $5 for 4 veggie burger patties when I know I could make about 12 Perfect Tempeh Burgers for even less than that. I'm eternally grateful that Z1 tolerates these burgers even though he's doesn't request them.

So after making this bread, I began to fully appreciate how much peace a successful garden will give me . Everything I need right there. I'm even considering planting soy beans to make soy milk and soy yogurt and maybe even tofu and tempeh (I used to make soy milk and soy yogurt--even bought a soy milk maker and returned it--wishing I had kept it). This "pantry" bread has increased my enthusiasm by leaps and bounds and even the newly fallen foot of snow on the ground outside hasn't curbed it a bit!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Made it Functional!

So I asked "How Can I Make it Functional?" and no one really answered. But I figured it out!!

I went on one of my crafting message boards and asked the same question and someone suggested wrapping the yoga mat in a Teflon (non-stick) sheet then sliding it into the bag. That was cool but I really didn't want to spend any extra money. Then it struck me: wrap the yoga mat in cotton fabric and then slide it into the bag. Works like a charm. No friction. The bag wrapped in cotton slips in and out easily. Problem solved.

How can I make it functional?

I'm disappointed . . . although my yoga mat bag is lovely to look at, it is soooo hard to take the yoga mat in and out because of the intense friction. I thought it might be because the bag is made of a rough wool so I figured I'd sew a lining for it. But it even sticks to the smoothest of cotton fabric. It's probably because the mat is made of latex (super grippy) and that's the point of a yoga mat, I know. But it takes me too long to get the dang thing in and out the bag! And after a bit of a struggle, it never goes in nicely rolled. I'm having a difficult time thinking of ways to ameliorate the situation to make it functional. I mean, I'm making it do what it do but it would be nice just to be able to easily slip it in and out.

So crafty folks, any suggestions?

Nightime Lip Conditioner

I've mentioned that before I go to sleep every night, I make sure to put on lip balm. Last night I realized I didn't have any more left. What to do?

Recently, the hubby has been experimenting with body butters that feature lanolin as an ingredient so there was a tub in the bathroom with just pure lanolin in it. I decided to use it on my lips. After all, many of the lip balms I buy have some lanolin in it anyway.

I was first introduced to lanolin because of sore, cracked nipples in my second trimester of pregnancy with Z1 and used it faithfully during those painful first few weeks of nursing him. The smell was kind of iffy but it worked fabulously. Later on as I discovered wool for cloth diapering, lanolin became important again because it is what gives wool it's waterproofing properties. So we have had lanolin around the house for a while now.

I'm sticking with it, ya'll. It's great. I woke up and my lips were soft and did not feel dry at all. I put some more on this morning and with my regular lip balms, I'd be ready to reapply by now. But this stuff lasts!

I've always been a huge lip balm fan. Back in the day it was Vaseline all the way but I moved away from mineral oil in my body products. I can't say I've found the best solution for my lips in all the numerous mineral-oil free lip balms I've tried but, and maybe it's really to early to say, I think the lanolin comes close.

If you're worried about the purity of the lanolin you use on your body, buy Lansinoh brand lanolin (which is triple purified) or some other high quality lanolin. Be aware, that there is no such thing as "organic" lanolin so just go with a company you trust.

Photo Courtesy of http://en.heilkraeuter.net/ointment/lanolin-anhydrous.jpg
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