Thursday, April 28, 2016

Whole30 Update #3

It seems like the only thing I talk about anymore is this crazy diet, but it is definitely what I think about a lot!  I'm 2 1/2 weeks into it now.  I think I am most proud of staying on it this past Sunday.  Bob and I left at 7:30 AM to drive up to his parents' house.  We met his sister and mom at the rehab center where Bob's dad has been for a few days, and we ended up eating lunch there--well, not me.  I had packed leftover grilled chicken cut up into slices, as well as raw mixed vegetables, one of those little tubs of Wholly Guacamole from Costco, and some grapes and oranges in a cooler, plus some almonds and cashews for snacking.  I waited until Bob and I got back in our car to drive over to his parents' house, and then I ate my lunch.  I left enough chicken, veggies, and fruit for me to have for dinner as we were driving back home as well, so it worked out really great.  Whew!

This week I've done more fish recipes.  I even made salmon cakes for the first time, using almond flour, and they were really good!  I got a paleo cookbook called "Well Fed" out of the library yesterday, which lots of people on the Well Trained Mind boards highly recommended, and I've been given tons of good recipes from friends on facebook, so I feel like I've been able to find lots of yummy things to try.  Tonight I made for myself a chicken fajita salad (without the sugar in the dressing), which I loved.  

I had my first "carb dream" a few nights ago.  I dreamed I was halfway through a bowl of apple cinnamon cheerios (a cereal I rarely, if ever, eat in the first place) before realizing that I had messed up my diet.  Then, since I had already messed up, I went ahead and ate brownies.  It was so real!  I was all down and discouraged when I woke up, but thankfully it didn't take me too long to realize it had all been a dream.  Anna had in fact made brownies the night before, so that part was true, LOL.  I never did get a taste of them, alas.

I was all happy because I lost 5 pounds the first week, but the second week, I only lost a little over a pound.  And my perpetually pregnant looking belly is still right where it has been since I delivered Verity, unfortunately.  I am glad I've weighed myself, even though you're not supposed to, because getting some positive feedback has been helpful for continuing.  It is still discouraging to know that I'm not even down to where I was last August before Verity stopped nursing, though.  I try not to think about that, LOL.

Today was almost a perfect storm.  I didn't get very much sleep last night, a combination of staying up to late to work on a lab (which I didn't even do all the calculations right on anyway, so I probably should have gone head to bed), and being interrupted by various people through the night, like Grace, whose retainer fell out of her mouth while she was sleeping, which was very alarming to her (she found it right next to her head once the sun came up and she woke up again).  I'm also hormonal, which undoubtedly played a part, and it was a gray, gloomy day.  Whatever the cause, all day long, all the carbs around were SCREAMING at me!  I've never before really craved anything, but I just wanted carbs today.  I ended up eating way more nuts than usual, and more fruit, but I never gave in to anything else.  Whew!  In fact, I should head to bed now to prevent a repeat of today!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

One Week Down . . A Whole 30 Update

Well, I have successfully made it through 7 days.  Yay, me!  It's actually gone fine.  In some ways this is easier than the gestational diabetes diet, which I've had to do 3 times for 12 weeks at a time--AND being in my last trimester of pregnancy!  This is only 30 days, I'm not pregnant, and I don't have to keep track of when it's time to eat, exercise, and prick myself.  Also, I don't have to feel like a total failure if my numbers are high, which was always so discouraging with gestational diabetes, even though I didn't usually have high numbers.  So it's been good.  I am down a few pounds, but really, they don't seem to be from anywhere that it makes any sort of difference, lol.  I have not had any sort of great energy, like I hear people talk about (maybe that will be later?  I can hope!), but I also have not had any real severe cravings for sugar.  In fact, the thing I miss the most is my breakfast cereal.  It just doesn't seem like I've started my day without my bran flakes and milk!

Here are some random thoughts I've had this past week:

  • I'm really glad I stocked up on weird things before starting.  In fact, the only added sugar I've had so far was in the spoonful of sunflower seed butter I ate on my apple the first day because I had forgotten to get plain almond butter.  Wait, that's not totally true--while I did buy the nitrate-free, etc., etc. expensive bacon, I did not bother hunting down bacon with no sugar added.  No way am I stopping at Whole Foods!  If a fancy food isn't at Costco or Wegman's, then I'm not bothering with it, and I don't even feel guilty, lol.  Okay, that wasn't really the point of this point . . . Let me try again.
  • I'm really glad I bought avocado oil at Costco.  I like it a lot better than coconut oil.  It doesn't have any real smell or taste, unlike coconut oil.  I've been frying eggs and red peppers in it most mornings for breakfast, and it's been great!  Also, I bought "Primal" mayo from Amazon (no bad soybean oil or anything else), which was a real splurge, but it's been really handy to have, because I have no desire to make my own.  I'm just lazy or something, I guess.  I have enjoyed making an egg salad with mashed avocado and bacon that I found on the internet, but it really needed a little mayo (and mustard and vinegar) to make it taste more like deviled eggs, which I love.  Oh, and "coconut aminos", which is a soy sauce substitute made from the sap of coconut trees, makes it so I can have Asian-flavored foods, which I love, with the added bonus that now I can't wait to have my sister-in-law Melinda here again (she's deathly allergic to soy), because now I can add to my cooking repertoire with her!  Also, the individual Wholly Guacamole packs you can get at Costco are perfect for dipping raw vegetables.  I did end up getting no-sugar-added almond butter a few days after I started.  It's really something.  I've been eating it on apples or bananas.  I can't wait to go back to sun butter, lol.  I think those are the odd things I've found most useful to have, so far.
  • I also cooked a lot of things the first day or 2.  I cooked up a bunch of chicken strips (in avocado oil!) so I'd have them to put on salads or just to eat whenever I wanted something and couldn't think of anything.  I also made up some egg "muffin" things with chopped broccoli, eggs, some cooked special approved whole 30 sausage from Costco ("Aidell" chicken and apple sausages) and coconut milk.  Those have been nice when I didn't have time to cook myself some eggs, but just needed to grab something for breakfast. I put a bunch of chicken breasts in freezer bags in various different marinades I found on the internet.  Then I can grab a bag and cook a few breasts for Bob and me that at least have some flavor.
  • Spaghetti squash is a tolerable substitute for spaghetti noodles, but I don't think I will ever choose to eat them instead of noodles without being on a diet like this!  Fortunately my homemade sauce, which I love, doesn't have any added sugar or anything bad, so I could add a lot of it over the squash, lol.  I will say that having squash made it very unlikely that I would overeat that meal!  
  • I think I've been able to manage my expectations for results.  Several of my friends commented on how to really lose the weight and keep it off, they needed to count calories and work out often, or stay on the diet faithfully for pretty much long-term, or other things.  Some friends said it didn't work at all for them, which was discouraging, but sounded like what I've read.  I guess if this doesn't work to lose some tummy inches, then I will just resign myself to looking perpetually pregnant, because I really don't want to think about food any more than I am now!  I definitely appreciate hearing everyone's different experiences!

Friday, April 15, 2016

3 Days Down . . .

So I started Whole 30 on Wednesday.  I had to get through Micah's birthday on Saturday and be able to go to Costco on Monday to stuff our fridge with all the things, both normal (lots of fruit and vegetables) and not (almond flour, avocado oil).  The idea of Whole 30 is to eat lots of whole, unprocessed food--meat, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats--for 30 days, with no dairy, grains, legumes, or sugar.

This past year has been a hard one for me, weight-wise.  Usually after I have a baby, it takes awhile to lose the last 10 pounds, but eventually most of them go away.  Over the course of 17 years (until I got pregnant with Verity), I had gained a little more than 20 cummulative pounds.  I wasn't happy with that, especially since it was all in my tummy, but whatever.  After I had Verity, those last 10 pounds from her pregnancy never went away though.  I thought I'd lose weight after she stopped nursing in August, but ha!  Not only did I not lose weight, I gained 10 more pounds over the course of the past 8 months!

I did try several different things.  I started taking a probiotic in October.  That made me feel a lot less hungry, and I never got sick over the winter . . . but I never lost a pound.  After New Year's, I tried a few different things, like having a shorter window of eating during the day (gained 2 pounds), and eating like I was on my gestational diabetes diet (also gained 2 pounds).  Gaining weight while being unhappy and trying to lose was about the most discouraging thing I could think of, and definitely not a motivator to keep doing what I was doing!  It really seemed like my body was holding desperately onto my stores of fat.  I could practically hear my body talking,  "Any day now you'll be pregnant, and how will you possibly grow a baby if you are WITHERING AWAY?!?"  Somehow it did not get the message that we are done, LOL.

So I decided to try Whole 30.  I even got the book and read it (It Starts With Food).  Their whole section on the hormonal interplay really resonated with me.  We had just covered the endocrine section a few weeks ago in AP biology, so it was all very fresh, and everything they said made sense.  This entire past year I've felt like my body was sending out different signals than I wanted it to, and I really feel like I need a restart for my metabolism, hypothalamus, everything.

I told the kids my big plan, and they were aghast.  Luke pointed out that it was the worst possible timing for him to change his diet, since he is 2 weeks from the start of AP exams, and 3 weeks away from mock trial nationals, plus he is in the middle of rugby season.  Fortunately, I had not planned on having the kids participate.  I mean, it's always good to eat more fruit and vegetables, but no way am I cooking for everyone with these random weird things, like mayo made of avocado oil, or this soy sauce substitute made from coconut tree sap called "coconut aminos".  We would go broke!  They don't need to cut out all carbs, and I'm not going to spend time looking at every label to avoid soybean oil or whatever.  Anna planned out a 30 day menu for everyone else that she will help with, and I printed out a ton of recipes for Bob and me.  My plan (and how it's worked out these first 3 evenings) is for them to have a normal main dish, Bob and I have something like chicken or whatever, and I have a normal vegetable, like steamed broccoli or some roasted vegetable, as well as a new preparation of some different vegetable.  I've been having a salad for lunch, and I've done different things with eggs and vegetables each morning for breakfast.  I do miss my bran flakes and hard boiled egg!

I'll keep updating with how I'm doing.  The book is all about not checking the scale, just focusing on how good you feel, how much better you're sleeping, how your face has cleared up, etc.  I'll be honest though--I don't have any other real issues with skin, inflammation, or sleeping.  I want to lose weight, and if it takes 6 months or whatever to see change, I will be totally demoralized, and there is no way I'll be able to give up milk, grains, and beans for that long with no positive reinforcement!

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Happy Birthday, Micah!

Another post, another birthday.  That's how we roll from February to June!  This time it's Micah's 5th birthday.
He was very happy to decorate his own cupcakes, along with the girls.  He had very decided color choices.  They all had a very fun and frosting-filled afternoon!  For his birthday dinner, Micah requested tuna pockets, peas, and diced pears-- a nice, non-gourmet meal, which totally works for me.
Five-year-olds are so much fun!
After dinner, cupcakes, and ice cream, Micah opened his presents.  He got a Lego Star Wars t-shirt, a Darth Vader bath scrubby, some Minion stickers, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Seek and Find book, some candy (including a Spider Man Pez dispenser that was very well-received), and in that big box on the right, knight's armor from Grandma and Grandpa!  That was definitely the most favorite gift, especially since they included a set for Drew!
Every since we went to Medieval Times, Micah and Drew have been more into knights.  Unfortunately, all the knight dress-up stuff we had left over from the first 4 boys has seen better days.  Luke masterfully employed silver duct tape to keep the original 2 helmets wearable, but clearly they were not going to last much longer.  Now we have a fresh infusion of armor and swords, just what 2 knights-in-training need!  (And yes, I marked each item with the correct initial in sharpie, so we can keep track of who breaks or loses something--I'm not a newbie to this game, LOL!)  Any bets as to how long before the swords have to be confiscated and spend some time in the "penalty box"?  Ha!
Micah and Drew have actually gotten much better at playing with each other these past few months.  They can play Duplos, Legos, cars, whatever, for a pretty good long time together before it all breaks down. I'm glad to see them become so close, just like Nathan and Luke, and Caleb and Jonathan.  

I was reading back over Micah's birth story today, and I'm so glad I don't have to deliver him again!  He started out big, and he still is quite a bit bigger than anyone else ever was at each stage.  He's been our only child who actually wears bigger sized clothes than his actual age!  The thing I am really thankful for this year is that I can say that Micah is really a sweet boy.  The tantrums that he used to have with such alarming regularity (pretty much anytime he didn't get his way, needed to pee, or really just thought something that wasn't going his way *might* happen . . .) have really disappeared.  Even when he gets upset, he calms down again fairly quickly.  None of us miss the days of the 3 hour crying jags, complete with banging on the door or wall!  He has done so well in the elementary co-op.  One lady even stopped me a few weeks ago to tell me how much she had enjoyed teaching Micah!  He had helped clean up, he had listened well, he was just a joy.  Who knew anyone would ever say such things about Micah?!  He's no longer always the obstinate, uncooperative, stubborn mule he used to be!   I'm really glad we stayed the course, as it were, because now we are finally reaping the reward of a happy, more settled child.  I always say Micah is the child who really humbled me.  Before him, I might have thought I had pretty much "figured things out", as far as parenting goes.  Ha!  Not so fast!  What a challenge!  So we are really thankful the Lord put Micah in our family, and we're so thankful that Micah has settled down so that each day is not such a trying struggle, like it used to be.  

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Happy Birth-Week, Anna!


Anna turned 10 years old on Monday, March 28!  Unfortunately, it was a Monday, which is the most stressful and not fun day of our week.  She did pick her birthday dinner, which was an easy one--Asian glazed meatballs over rice, stir-fried green beans, and a fruit salad with mangoes, grapes, and lots of different kinds of berries.  After dinner, she opened her presents and we ate ice cream.  She was very happy to receive a microplane zester (which she had asked for!), an earring box with little dividers, and a double-dutch jump rope.  One movie Bob bought (right before the big blizzard in January) was "Jump In", about a jump rope team, of all things.  Watching this movie several times has ushered in an era of intense interest in jumping rope here at our house.  Unfortunately, we only had a few short ones, but not any longer!  Now we are the proud owners of 2 long ones, so the girls can do "double dutch".

Since we were all pretty busy and stressed on Monday, we continued celebrating on Tuesday.  Anna and I got up early to go to Shoppers before TNT.  Shoppers has the most amazing "colossal doughnuts"--once you taste them, you will never be satisfied with a tiny little Dunkin Donuts donut!  She had written down her flavor choices so she could take them into her co-op class for a treat.  We got 2 dozen, since there are 14 in her class, and we got to eat the rest of the doughnuts, which made everyone happy at home.

At Rivendell, the McCs gave Anna this awesome scarf, which she has had a ton of fun with!  This is her Russian spy or perhaps Jackie Kennedy look.  Joel also gave her a bag of coconut, since he knew I wouldn't buy her any!
Tuesday night was really special--Bob took Anna out to Benehana, a Japanese steakhouse where they cook the food right in front of you.  Anna has been dying to go there ever since Grace went last year with Bob before a father/daughter dance.  She had steak (her favorite!), and she reported it was delicious.  She also really liked the Japanese strawberry soda she had, so afterward she and Bob went to Wegmans to buy some so we could all try some.  It really brought back memories of Okinawa for me because it really had a distinctively Japanese strawberry flavor.  It was good!
Friday night we brought dessert to Bible study to finish up our week of celebrating--and to start celebrating Micah's birthday, which comes next!  Anna had been looking through old Quick Cooking recipes, and she decided she wanted to make a cappucino mousse trifle.  I must say, that was never a recipe that I had ever noticed or been attracted to, but hey, I'm glad Anna is branching out and trying new things!  The recipe uses frozen pound cake, but we decided to make our own.  We used this recipe, although we baked it in 2 8 inch loaf pans.  We also didn't have any lemon extract, but it was still delicious even with just vanilla extract.  I think we will have to make the pound cakes again and have strawberries and whipped cream or something on top!
Right before serving the trifle after Bible study, Anna added squirts of whipped cream and sprinkled grated chocolate on top (grated with the microplane, which is AMAZING!  So sharp!).  It all looked so pretty, and it tasted so good too!  The reviews said it didn't have a strong coffee flavor, and they were right.  Part of that was probably due to us using an entire 16 ounce tub of whipped cream in the mousse filling, instead of just half, since the reviews also said there wasn't enough filling to go on all 3 layers.
I'm glad Anna's birthday week ended on such a high note!  She is such a special girl, and we're so glad she's in our family.  Cooking is obviously one of her big loves, and we all benefit from this hobby!  She is also a big help with cleaning.  Yesterday I came downstairs in the morning to find her removing everything in the pantry in our kitchen so she could wipe down the shelves and organize it all.  Especially this past year, I've started to see how it seems like a lot of the big families have older girls, and how helpful that must be.  I mean, I love having my 4 older boys, and they were a lot of help--but things like organizing the pantry were really just never on their radar screens, lol.  And today Bob took Anna, Faith, Micah, and Drew to Luke's rugby game, and Grace and I stayed home to clean.  We cleaned pretty much the entire main floor *and* baked a double batch of banana bread!  So I am really enjoying having older girls now too.  SO helpful!  

Anna is very excited about being 10 because now she can get her military ID card!  Of course, there is no easy, close place to do that here, so who knows when it will actually happen.  I have fond memories of getting my ID card when I turned 10 and we were stationed on Okinawa.  Big milestone!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Supreme Camp-Out

Luke got home today from a 2 night camping trip to the Supreme Court building!  A friend of his, who was on last year's mock trial team, let him know about this opportunity.  There are only limited seats in the Supreme Court building to listen to the cases being argued.  No recording of any kind is allowed, so if you want to know how the arguments went, then you have to physically be there.  But there are many people who really don't want to stand in line themselves to wait, so they hire people to stand in line for them--for as many days as is needed.  Luke and 10 other people got the call Monday morning for a case that was being argued today (Wednesday).  It is the religious freedom case of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Obamacare abortion mandate, so this was a very popular one to want tickets to.  Luke's group was holding spaces for big donors of the ADF, the group that is arguing the case for the Little Sisters.  
Luke and Leo rode the metro down together and arrived mid-afternoon.  They set up camp in line with their group on the side of the Supreme Court building, in between it and the Library of Congress.  Luke didn't go on our field trip to the LoC back in November, but he ended up spending a lot of time right beside it anyway!

The first night was really cold, so it was not easy to sleep.  Luke ended up putting his sweats on under his jeans, and he brought a hat and gloves, which helped.  They were able to go to Union Station to get food and use the restroom in shifts.  They could also use the restrooms in the Supreme Court building when it was open, but Luke never did that.  Leo's mom was so kind to bring them breakfast Tuesday morning!

The boys said they got a lot of questions from people who were wondering what they were doing.  Many people thought they were homeless.  In fact, the group ahead of them were homeless people who had been recruited to stay in line for someone else.  One little boy asked his mom something, and she responded with a big discourse on how they were doing a "silent protest", which is what people did when they disagreed with something.  We were laughing because it must have been a *very* silent protest, with no signs or anything to remotely suggest they were protesting anything!  Funny that she wouldn't just ask them, but instead made huge (wrong and unsupported) assumptions.
The second night was better because it wasn't so cold.  Before night, the whole line got moved to the front of the building, so they had a different view.  This morning, the guys came whose places were being held, and our group packed up and left.  Each person was paid $400 in cash.  I hope the homeless people got as good a reward, if not better.  Luke and Leo rode the metro home together, and I picked them up at the station.  After we dropped Leo off and went home ourselves, Luke took a shower and washed his clothes!  I think his own bed will feel very good tonight!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Irish Dinner

As I finished up leftovers from Thursday's St. Patrick's Day meal for lunch today, I thought I should document what I made so that when I search around a year from now, I'll have it written down somewhere!

Usually I am on top of celebrating Pi Day, which is of course on March 14, but this year, since it fell on a Monday, I didn't get any pies made, and neither did anyone else in the fmaily.  The day before Rivendell is not a good day for anything extra or special!  So I really wanted to make something for St. Patrick's Day, which was Thursday.  Last year we celebrated Pi Day but not St Patrick's Day, so maybe that will be our plan from here on out--one or the other!  It seems more reasonable to celebrate Pi Day since we are all pretty math-minded, and we are Polish/Slovak/German, with not really even a hint of Irish.  But hey, cooking new things is fun!

I went searching around for a new Irish recipe to try, and I found Irish Coddle.  Even better, I read in the comments that I could make it in the crockpot, and that is what I did.  I needed something in the crockpot because I had to pick up the kids from Jonathan's math class, as well as have biology lab, so I didn't have a lot of extra time in the afternoon. It was super easy and delicious!  I fried up the thick bacon, and then I cooked the sliced onions in the bacon grease for a few minutes.  After removing the onions, I cooked the sausage breakfast links for a few minutes too, just to give them a little brownness.  Then I layered the potatoes, carrots, onion, salt, pepper, bacon, and sausage links, and poured 2 cups of chicken broth (not beef, like the original recipe said, but chicken, like the crockpot comment said) over it all.  I cooked it all day, and I didn't bother making the white sauce with cream and stout.  It was an easy crockpot meal, which I am always searching for, so this might actually make the rotation more frequently than once a year.  I was going to make Irish soda bread to go with it, but I completely forgot (because I got wrapped up making the dessert).  I did make a cabbage salad, which went really well with it.

For dessert, Anna and I made an Irish apple cake with custard sauce, and it was also very good!  It was hard to tell when it was done in the middle , though.  Luke suggested cooking it in a 9x13 pan next time (instead of a 9 in. springform), and I think I will try that.  The custard sauce was delicious.  It was gobbled up quickly!  Someone in the comments had a caramel sauce with it instead, and I imagine that would also be very yummy.  Next time!