Wednesday, May 25

Family Fun

What an amazing week this was! Jacob bridged up in Cub Scouts. He's a Bear now. (Coincidentally, I finally completed the rest of my training. I get a nifty patch on my shirt, come payday, too!)

We had our first Bear Den meeting today, and it was amazing! We had a new boy (which, in our Den, means we had "a new boy and all of his siblings"), and everyone melded in beautifully. The other moms indicated that there is enough interest that we may be able to stand up an entire line of daytime dens in our Pack, which would be great for the Pack, and great for the boys who haven't had access to Scouting so far because of the evening meeting requirement. At any rate, we made newspaper seed pots and planted some things in them - we're hoping to have a Harvest Party when they come ripe later toward the Fall. But no matter how the crops turn out, the day was fun. We'll do Day Camp, and then break for the rest of June since everybody will be gone at least one week, most for two, in June. (I'm thankful, as this gives me time to figure out what I'm doing! Yay!)

On the nights the Bigs have Boy Scouts, the Littles and I try to come up with something fun. This week we made volcanoes out of modeling clay. I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but there were three official types of volcanoes, and of course, casualties. I think the squid fared the worst, but the pink clay man took a pretty hard hit, too.

And we're still enjoying the plow disc cooking as often as possible. As long as it's nicer to cook outside, we will. Plus, I think Zorak enjoys the time he gets with whichever child helps cook. It's not often anybody gets to have an uninterrupted conversation around here. Aside from the paparazzi, these two seemed to have a good time. (But they were so sweet while I stalked them with the camera, trying to figure out how to get a decent nighttime shot on the phone.)

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, May 21

And then, out of nowhere.

Surgery! Again!

Good heck, but we've been put under too often as of late. (Although in reading up on this procedure, I see that it's sometimes done under local anesthesia, and I've got to say, WOW. Um, I... don't want to be awake for that. No complaints, here.) I had a sore spot over the weekend that wasn't responding to salt water rinses or tea tree oil, so I called my dentist on Tuesday. He suspected it was related to the implants and suggested I go through the periodontist, just in case.

Come to find out, it was an old problem resurfacing - a narrow, twisty root that had been a problem when I'd had a root canal done a few years back. The endodontist had cautioned at the time that it might need an apioectomy at some point. So this was not unexpected, precisely, but since we hadn't had problems with it in the previous two years, we'd all sort of figured it was put to bed. Turns out, not so much.

Yesterday morning I took the Cub Scouts to the Cultural Event at the Oakdale Indian Mounds (it was a fantastic outing!), and that afternoon I went in for surgery. The periodontist took care of the problem, bolstered the area up with yet more bone (I'm starting to feel like Wolverine), as it was adjacent to one of the implants, and sent me home with all the things a girl might need to get some rest. Well, almost all. Zorak did stop somewhere along the way and get me a milkshake. (Two, it turned out - I drank his, also. I was HUNGRY.)

Zorak took the kids to a friend's house that evening and they played and had supper together while I slept. Today, Zorak took the kids back to the Mounds to enjoy a few of the displays and activities we hadn't had time to get to Friday, and then to a birthday party at the ice rink. I slept some more. Now he's exhausted from cat herding all day, and I'm thankful beyond belief. But wow, where'd the week go?

On the up side, the Most Amazing Dr. said that the work he did February had healed up well enough that he was able to uncover the implants and install the abutments! So as soon as this latest development is healed up, I can go in for the crowns. Two months ahead of schedule, even! This endeavor has been long, expensive, and not a little scary, but we're nearing the payoff, and I am so glad for that.

And my sweet, sweet children brought me a little bag of candies specially selected from their stash, for me to enjoy as soon as I'm well again. With that kind of care and thoughtfulness, I feel like I could conquer Mt. Everest!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 17

The Whole 30

I'd mentioned the Whole 30 in my previous post. We are down to the last couple of days on this. It seems deceptively simple: avoid grains of all kinds, added sugars, alcohol, dairy, legumes and white potatoes (admittedly arbitrary, but they are carb-heavy and nutrient-light) for 30 days and see the difference for yourself. In all actuality, it is simple. The hardest part is, honestly, getting enough calories in without feeling like a total and complete glutton.

Before I get into the results and experience, I should ante up on the caveats and errata from the peanut gallery:

Intentional Alterations, based on philosophy:

* We eat sausage and other preserved meats that have nitrites in them. That's a personal decision. Neither Zorak nor I are convinced either of the claims of harm, nor of the levels of concern. Even when we make our own sausage at home, we use cure with nitrite. I'm not out to evangelize anyone to that particular point of view, nor am I open to being evangelized against them. I'm just being upfront about how our plan differed from that suggested by the Whole 30 plan.

* Raw milk. I kept that as an option for the occasional treat. Again, a personal decision. While I am convinced of the detriments of homogenization, and would forgo dairy completely were that the only alternative available, I've seen no evidence that suggests raw dairy is in any way inflammatory or detrimental to the gut. The Paleo crowd does seem to blow off dairy on the argument that Grok wouldn't have had it, and so neither should we. However, the science and the history both bear out that raw and fermented dairy have been staples of the human diet for as far back as the domestication of livestock, with fantastic results. So. The raw milk stayed, for us. As did the fresh butter, although that was reserved only for the things that really must be sauteed in butter. Arbitrary, perhaps. But tasty and, as I said, it was a non-negotiable for me.

(Note, if we were battling a degenerative disease, or if there were a life-threatening situation which caused us to seek this detox, I will admit that we may have been more strict with regard to the dairy. I probably won't know unless I'm faced with that choice. Your mileage may vary.)

Two Supremely Unjustifiable Errors:

* Alcohol. Gah. This one is entirely on me. I'd signed up for a Wine 101 class that I've been trying to get into since the beginning of February. I finally got in, although I got the slot before we started the Whole 30. The evening was slated for about 3/4 of the way through our 30. The stars aligned, and I had the opportunity for a date night with my honey. I hung my head in shame for a moment, then grabbed my coat and went. We probably consumed half a glass of wine, total. Still, it was all-carby, with zero nutritional value. The evening spent with my husband and the wonderful folks at the class, however, was fantastic. Again, had we been doing this for a high-stakes situation, we'd have passed. But I can't even really justify it or claim it didn't have an impact on the results. I'm fairly sure it did.

* A s'more. We went camping. James picked up toasted coconut marshmallows and a caramel bar for his s'mores. I wanted one. I had it. About the only good thing with regard to this is that I decided days ahead that I would do it, not feel guilty about it, and not decide that I'd fallen off the horse forever because of it. I was able to have that one and enjoy it and move on. No justification, but I did want to be honest.

And, that's it. Other than those exceptions, we've eaten "clean" for a month. This included a week without power, and a Mother's Day campout.

What we noticed:

* Improved rest at night. Less flailing (the elbow of death has not hit me once during the night), deeper sleep, and more rejuvenating sleep.

* Improved digestion and less bloating.

* For the girly folk, the various female issues were much decreased during this cycle.

* No mid-day slump. This has been my *favorite* perk. Absolute, hands-down, favorite. It feels SO good to be functional all day long. Zorak also reported that he's been more alert and had a steady stream of energy at work, without the 2PM slump that always hit him in the past.

* Clearer complexion. This one's probably a close second. I hate having acne in the wrinkles. Nobody warned me about that. Now, I just have the wrinkles. The acne has cleared significantly, and overall skin tone seems improved.

* Tone - overall body tone. We did not add in additional exercises - Zorak, because he hadn't received the all-clear from the surgeon yet, and I, because I'm essentially lazy and didn't want to. However, we've both seen a visible, measurable, tangible, no-kidding improvement in body tone.

* Weight stability. In our cases, it was loss, but from what I've read, I suspect that someone who needed to gain weight would do so on this plan. The body seems to seek out its own balance when we're not busy tweaking our bodies with insulin spikes and crashes.

If you are considering this at all, my advice would be to do it. Just jump in and run with it. It's only 30 days. There is support, and there are resources available. The results you'll see - and I am firmly convinced you will see them - are worth it. There are so many Whole 30 friendly recipes out there. It takes a bit of planning, to have something on hand when you get ready to eat. But not much more than it takes to keep a household fed, anyway. It's not hard, but it is worth it.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, May 15

Taking it Outside

I love our balcony. If I'd known how much we would use it and love it, I might have foregone finishing the bedrooms or some other project in lieu of building the balcony our first year here. It's like having an entire extra room for the house. There's room to play, room to read, room to sprawl out and relax. It's high enough off the ground that mosquitoes aren't much of a problem (although James has a citronella plant in a pot that he hauls to wherever we'll be eating, just in case). The view is gorgeous, and thanks to the zealous over-engineering of my awesome crew, this thing could hold up a three-ring circus without fear of giving out. Or, you know, a family. (It's a fine line...)

As soon as the evenings or mornings lose their bitter winter bite, we start meandering out there for meals. For some reason, it's as much fun as a picnic, without the traditional picnic drawbacks. Plenty of fun.

On a side-note, we're on day 24 of the Whole 30, a 30-day food challenge. It's been fun. It's been fantastic, actually. I can write more about it, if anyone is interested (although there are far better, more diligent bloggers out there who have documented every single day of it - we had a week without power, and a Mother's Day campout thrown in there during our project, both of which shot the blogging to pieces.) And I can attest that we've experienced definite improvement in many areas because of it. But anyway, this is an example of how we've been eating, and it's. been. delightful.

Kiss those babies!
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Thursday, May 12


Huh. I'd posted a couple days ago about the recovery process here in Northern Alabama. But it's... gone. Ah, I guess Blogger was doing something while I was posting, perhaps? Ah, okay. I'll have to write that one up again, later. Right now, I'm geared up to get these Easter pictures up.

Easter was lovely. We have such a fun mix of ages. James "hunted" eggs by walking with the littles and making casual remarks like, "Oh, that tree would be a lovely place to hide an egg!" and "I wonder if the Easter Bunny likes horseshoes?" Emily and Jase would squeal with delight as they discovered their treasure after acting upon these "subtle hints". We had so much fun watching him at work.

Emily helped Jase, too. And Jase just had a wonderful time. I think he still checks the yard when he goes outside to play.

Jacob is at that wonderful age where he's able to find, able to help, and still young enough to be really excited by his own discoveries. Every year, I think this is it - I couldn't possibly enjoy these kids more. And every year, they surprise me with their joy and their depth. This is a really cool gig.

Sharon generously took about a bazillion shots of all of us together. I need a super editor that can paste the heads from other shots onto the one that's the best of most of us. Until then, this was a relatively decent family photo. The last one of the year, most likely. Next time, Jase won't need to be restrained and James will probably be taller than I. Wow, where does it all go? I could have sworn I was right here for all of it!

We hope your Easter was just as blessed as ours. There is, truly, so much to celebrate.

Kiss those babies!
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