Saturday, March 23, 2013

Things I love about Texas

1) The thrift stores aren't picked over. It's easy to find funky and cheap cool junk.

2) The libraries.

3) Radio station KXT. It's a public radio station that plays an eclectic mix of what they now call "adult contemporary alternative." Or something. You can listen to it via the web wherever you are. In one day, I heard Ryan Adams, John Hiatt, The Cure and a Lemonheads song that isn't "Mrs. Robinson."


It's about an inch long, and it's sutured with dark thread.

So, I'm wearing a lovely bandage for now.

I get curious looks from little kids -- so, oftentimes I'll wear a leopard-print Band-Aid across my forehead. There's not really much point in trying to hide the bandage. I ran into a guy I know, and he told me my forehead looked like I was wearing a crown or something, with the tape across it. I told him I had a skin cancer removed, and it was funny to see him get suddenly serious. I had to assure him that I'm fine.

I'm so lucky it's not a melanoma, and it really isn't all that serious. It looks more dramatic than it is.

St. Joseph Altar

I made yummy homemade bread today, braided and brush with egg yolks and coated with sesame seeds. It was for a special St. Joseph's Day celebration with some other families.

I'm not usually tempted by all the things I don't eat -- but the smell of this was a bit difficult.

There were tons of pasta dishes at the party, but, fortunately, someone brought baked potatoes and meat in addition to my salad.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

More big news

No, I'm not pregnant.

Yes, I know I have to say that nearly every time now.

I got a little skin cancer -- squamous cell, which is a non-melanoma kind. It's a little bit more serious than basal cell because it is more likely to spread. Regardless, it's not all that likely to spread.

So much for vanity. The thing is right in the middle of my frown line, which actually makes it easier to conceal. Regardless, I'll have a nice bright scar there for a while.

It's a function of my German/Polish/Irish ancestry as well as too many years in the Sunbelt. My silly hats apparently came too late.

Other news: The shift to Texas has been humbling in so many ways. I never thought of myself as an "L.A. person," but in many ways I had become one.

It's some consolation that I'm finding friends, friends outside the whole Catholic homeschool crowd.

Because, although I'm a traditional Catholic in that I follow church teaching on birth control and go to Mass regularly, I'm very much a contemporary Catholic. I let my daughter be an altar server and I'll wear pants or, heaven forbid, a skirt that inches above my knees.

Here in the great state, there's a kind of uniformity to the homeschooling Catholics and I am going to be a little bit suspect anyway, just because I'm a newcomer. But, once again, I'm confusing people -- without trying, of course. 

Baby: Is walking now and talking a little. I don't know how, but I forget how sweet they are.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

100 books

I've been enjoying the site.

I've always been a crazy-avid and super-fast reader, and with Goodreads I can document what I'm reading.

You can challenge yourself to read a certain number of books; last year I did 100. It was undoubtedly more than that as I forgot to put all of them in. Now, however, I am at a place where I am compulsively entering my books.

The unintended consequence of Goodreads, particularly near the end of the year when I was "behind" on my goal, is that instead of picking up some long nonfiction book or piece of literary fiction, which will take me at least a few days to read, I'm tempted to blow through a potboiler.

I've been delighted with the library system here, and it's just as easy for me to find books as it was in L.A.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ritual meals

Some people go out of their way to make yummy foods while on diets.

I don't.

I find that I need to look at food as fuel, almost exclusively, in order to be happy on diets. It seems that the fancier I try to go, the more I recognize my "deprivation."

So, I eat some bizarre things, like eggs and oatmeal and vegetables for dinner.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Weighing in

I got on the scale for the first time in a while today, and it read 188. That's about 25 pounds heavier than when I ran the marathon and about 15 pounds more than when I got pregnant. It's four pounds more than the last time I got on the scale, sometime in August.

My issue, as always of late, has been portion control -- not measuring out my food. And probably the lack of exercise that doesn't involve chasing a baby around.

I won't get on the scale again until Feb. 5.

It's easy to feel whiny -- how can I gain weight while eating as I do?!! -- but I'm not going there.

Let's just do it.

The nice thing, of course, is that in U.S. culture this is a good time to be watching one's diet. So, no matter how I try to resist the whole new-year-new-you business, it can help socially.

Babe update
The 13-month-old isn't walking yet, but he certainly could if he made the mind leap. He pushes boxes all over the house at a run. He'll take little steps, particularly if he wants something. But, he's still figuring out that he can do it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


One thing that I've been struggling with lately is a moderate level of stress. A minor level is normal and part of everyday life, of course. I'm also realizing that there happens to be some things happening that might not seem all that stressful but that are uniquely stressful to *me.*

I realized this a couple of weeks when I saw the nails on one hand had started disappearing. I haven't bitten my nails in years, nearly as long as I haven't eaten sugar, wheat or flour. It's not a nice habit, but it -- like overeating -- a bit of an an impulse control problem.

The good thing is that as soon as I noticed, I stopped -- and that it reminded me that I am simply not handling the stress well right now and I need to come up with some other ways to cope.

Some of what I need to feel less stress is just a matter of time. Texas is already feeling much more like home. What I could use are friends where I can relax with them, and that appears to be beginning to occur.

Friday, November 30, 2012


The pomegranates are here!

In addition to being one of my favorite foods, they are one of the baby's, too.

After the first couple of pomegranates I bought were bad, I thought I'd be in trouble. The Costco ones, though, are the same as the ones as I bought last year.

Babe update

He has eight teeth, and he crawls. Right now, he has a banged-up nose from a bonk on cement at the park. He's developed a dislike for the stroller and shopping cart, unfortunately, which makes it hard for me to get a walk in.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Things I have to be careful about in Texas

Texas is interesting because there's a cultural insecurity to it that I've picked up.

If I point out a difference between Los Angeles and Texas that seems to favor L.A. -- even if it is obviously true -- people get defensive.

And, believe me, I am all about "Texas is wonderful. Texas is great. I am so happy to be here."

But, if I point out that there is a glut of excellent musicians in L.A., I am told about talented musicians here, as though I am saying there aren't many.

No, what I am saying is that there are so many people trying to "make it" in L.A. that you get the best musicians of many areas converging on a very small piece of land. One good thing about that for me was that there were many music teachers to choose from and the price of lessons was a little bit cheaper.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shopping, Texas style

There are just a very few stores that we loved in L.A. that aren't here in Texas.

That says something about the way the country has turned into one giant chain store, doesn't it?

Regardless, my food shopping style has shifted. I use Costco more -- and Costco recently got Mary's Gone Crackers, so that's nice.

There's no more Ralph's, but Kroger is here -- it's just not as nearby. There are more Vons stores. Here, they're called Tom Thumb. Trader Joe's recently arrived.

There are a couple of Texas stores that we have been enjoying, particularly one called Market Street, which is the upscale IGA -- but the prices are surprisingly reasonable.

Then, there's the place I go when I'm homesick for L.A. preciousness -- Central Market, which has all kinds of gourmet food and the prices to match.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Many changes -- and none

A lot of the time, if you haven't heard from diet-and-exercise bloggers for a while, it's because they have given up -- gone off the wagon and gained a lot of weight.

I'm definitely heavier than my lowest place; I haven't really put on weight so much as haven't lost all I gained while pregnant with Baby No. 5. But I haven't gone crazy. Or eaten sugar, wheat or flour. I weigh less than I did when I graduated high school and just a bit more than when I got married and then pregnant for the first time. But I'm a Size 12 or a 14 instead of an 8 right now. And, for now, I have a certain peace with it.

I've gained a lot of insight into how I got as heavy as I did in the first place. Postpartum, some people have the weight fall off. That happens to me for the first couple of months; then, I do an excellent job of holding on. It's also more important for me to be truly present for my babe as well as my other kids than to get hyper-focused on weight -- and the reality is, I do need to get hyper-focused in order to actually lose weight. I haven't given up so much as put my lifetime struggle on hold.

Plus, moving always makes me a bit nervous. And, of course, when I'm nervous, portion control becomes that much harder. When I was new and perfect on the diet and weighing and measuring everything perfectly, my move then didn't matter as much. I was also "at bottom" and willing to be hungry. With fewer friends here and the work of caring for a now-mobile baby, I have less tolerance for hunger.

Texas is wonderful in so many ways, but it's also very different. I try to be careful with pointing out differences, as some people take it as criticism, which it is not. But, I remember that from L.A. Pointing out cultural L.A. differences was seen as a criticism by some native Angelenos; for Texans, that tendency to see criticism of their Great State tends to be even stronger. There are more natives here, and they are that much more passionate. So that's been the main source of a lot of my blogging inhibition. It's hard to talk about what's going on in one's life when it's really easy for others to take offense, no matter that none is meant. That said, I'm considering -- no promises! - giving it a try.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Walking again

It's been about a year since I've done a whole lot of concentrated exercise. It's easy to get out of the habit, of course; plus, I have a significant major responsibility in the babe. Since he's older now, though, he has more patience for sitting in the stroller. And I can get out again.

So, I'm taking baby steps -- and walking again. Paul and I have gotten two 35-minute walks in this week.

Although I hesitate to describe my "plans," as I don't have the best track record in following through once I make a big announcement, here's what I've done and what the intention is.

I'm starting off walking three days a week for about 30 minutes at a time. The eventual plan is to increase the duration and the number of days. For now, I'm doing Monday-Thursday-Saturday. Getting Paul to come with me is good for him as well. Since we've moved to Texas, he hasn't gotten his daily walks in, as his commute to work is a walk of 20 feet instead of 20 minutes.

I also remember that when I started my big fitness push (as opposed to the no sugar or flour business), I indeed built up pretty gradually. I didn't even think about running until I was sustaining a pretty high heartrate from walking, fast, up an incline on the treadmill.

I have some muscle memory now that I didn't have in the past. At the same time, I'm aiming to start pretty much from scratch because I want pleasure -- not pain -- from exercise.

Walking doesn't feel quite as wonderful as running did, but it still feels really good.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My favorite spice

Cumin has to be my top spice, although cinnamon is a close second.

Both Mexican and Indian foods use it heavily. There's nothing better to spice up some eggs, chicken or beef than a bit of cilantro.

It's one of the spices I buy in bulk.

Baby update

The babe is crawling, he has two teeth that have poked through and he desperately wants to eat whatever anyone else is. He's definitely keeping us all busy. It's that crazy time when we all have to protect him from himself.

He also likes to give "high fives" and play "the wheels on the bus."

It seems as though half the clothing that still fit him when we moved from California no longer fits.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Are you running?

A couple of people have asked if I have been running.

The answer, unfortunately, is no. I've been pretty lucky in that I have not had any significant running injuries. Part of the reason for that is the fact that I'm pretty conservative. I increase mileage slowly. I don't go fast at all. I baby myself when it comes to surfaces.

And, now, one way that I'm being conservative is by not running when my weight is higher than I want it to be. When I ran for the first time (in my life, really), I weighed about 10 pounds less than I do right now, and I don't want to start again until I'm there.

Yes, I miss the endorphins. No, I don't miss them enough to want to mess with my knees or feet. Ten pounds doesn't seem like a lot, but the force grows exponentially and can cause that much more trouble.

Friday, August 3, 2012

184 pounds on Aug. 1

I am weighing and measuring my food again. It is too easy to "eyeball" things and be off.

This is about 25 pounds heavier than my lowest weight. I have not eaten sugar, wheat or flour, but I have probably been a bit lax on portions. And, yes, my metabolism changes while pregnant and postpartum.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quiet -- and hot!

The last month has been full of lots of work -- and lots of tears -- as we packed up our nearly 8 years in Los Angeles.

Transitions are hard.

In some ways, it was good timing for the kids, as most of them were going through friend-transitions anyway, based on other people's moves or decisions to enroll in public school -- or both parties' general changes in interests or personality. But, change, even change you embrace, always has its challenges.

I love having a house that's ours, after more than a decade of transitory living. Little irritations crop up (like the oven that doesn't fit my cookie sheets), but, overall, it feels nice to feel more settled and not to have to deal with landlords and property management companies and their fickleness.

The temperatures in the north Texas suburb we now call home have been hitting triple digits, but it has been surprisingly tolerable, thanks to the availability of pools and air conditioning.

The biggest shock, though, has been how quiet it feels. I hadn't realized how much noise was in our lives in L.A., but it makes sense considering how densely our side of town was populated -- and the fact that we lived near LAX. The lack of traffic is also refreshing.

During my time in L.A., I tried to embrace it -- with all its busy-ness and chaos. I will do the same for Texas and its relative calm.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dealing with stuff

The movers come in 13 days to take the household goods to Texas.

So I've been thinking a lot about possessions, as I get rid of all but the most necessary items. My tendency to accept free things is biting me in the butt.

Some things I have picked up (and the cost of moving them):

Two glass-topped computer desks ($300)
Two IKEA bookcases ($200)
Large (heavy) ornate wooden mirror (at least $300)

All of these things were given to me, and all of these things have been appreciated -- but I can find similar items in Texas for about what it'll cost to move them, and I'm thinking of just filling the house with what we actually need. Paul and I have had such a feeling of impermanence in our living situation for the time we've been in CA. In some ways, that's good, as that's really the reality of every individual's situation, no matter how stable they think it is; at the same time, it'll be nice to have at least the illusion of stability for the kids for a while.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My UPS pants

Paul's been giving me grief about my $10 Target pants. He thinks they're ugly because they're brown. He sometimes gets illogical issues with my clothes, and this is one of those times. I think brown is a fine color. His office held a going away party for him at a bar. He asked me to come and to dress up, specifically "no UPS pants."

Pants (and flats) are definitely practical with a baby and while packing for our move. They also help me  feel as though I'm actually maybe sort of losing some of my baby weight. I lost my weight slowly when my kids were all weaned; now, it's incredibly slow-going. With pants, I can feel the slight loosening much more easily than with skirts.

But Paul, clearly, hates them. He's also not Mr. Fashion. He went around for years wearing a faded trenchcoat that he had had before he met me. He wears these incredibly dorky sunglasses that go over his regular glasses. I won't even get into his choice of footwear.

So, when he has a problem with something I'm wearing, I listen. (When he's around.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More big news!

No, I'm not pregnant. :-)

In the last few weeks, I have:

1) Lost and found my keys outside the house after a frantic 24 hours or so. I left them on a shuttle bus, and they were taken off said shuttle in the hour before I got back on it. The new driver didn't know anything about them. I finally got the bright idea to check with the main office -- but not after retracing my path and making lots of calls. And panicking more than a little,

2) Bought a house! In Texas! Yes, we are moving. We'll be in the northeast suburbs of Dallas. It will be interesting, and I'm expecting to be called "grandma" a lot more. Paul's company is setting up and office, and he will be the pioneer in his department. I am happy to be done with anti-California/L.A. whining.

3) Realized that our 10-year-old vehicle with 184,000 miles is not going to make the trip. Every 50-60,000 miles we need a $2,000 repair, and we're coming up at that point. Also, we have some leaking hoses, and to fix those it will cost $1200. So, we're retiring the thing. My mom asked me if I sabotaged it, since I wasn't happy about the idea of Paul driving it across the desert anyway.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baby update

The babe is 6 months old now, and he reaches for things and gets frustrated now when there are things he wants but cannot have. One of his favorite places is the makeup store Sephora, with all the beautiful things to look at. He kicks his feet frantically.

He also is becoming more and more interested in eating. I offered him a little mushroom, to touch, yesterday at dinner -- and he opened his mouth big to eat it.

He's pretty huge, about 18 pounds.

I don't write much about the babe, partially because I (obviously) don't write a whole lot at all lately, but also because I know that, although I am infinitely fascinated with all things baby, not everyone shares my obsession.