Monday, May 31, 2010


I just popped in for a quick peek before trudging off to bed and actually took the time to take a good look around...

YIKES! I think someone needs to do a wee bit of updating! I still have what I intended to be early Spring graphics up here, not to mention the Winter wood stove still blazing on the sidebar. I need to start planning my Summer layout and I hadn't even done a full-blown Spring yet.

Oh well...good thing I don't have many chores tomorrow, huh?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

An Offer You Can't Refuse

Something momentous happened during church today. Now doesn't that sound intriguing!

There I was, sitting between Redheaded Snippet and Man-Cub (because, believe you me, letting them sit next to each other in a place that requires one to be reasonably quiet and sedate is never a good idea) when, shortly after the sermon had begun, my Snippet handed me a note. A good, long one.

Now, Redheaded Snippet and I have a lovely custom of writing each other notes. She started it several years ago and is, indeed, the one who usually writes to me first. Many a night have I climbed into bed to find a neatly folded note waiting for me on my bedside table. I love those moments. I would love, someday, to perhaps publish all the notes as a record of precious moments between Mother and Daughter, but that would be far into the future...but I digress.

Today's note was long and full of wonderfully profound stuff that I cannot share with you but was delighted to answer. And suffice it to say that the content was that which provided perfect justification for writing notes during church.

We passed my notebook back and forth several times before she wrote, and I quote (I can share this part), "I just need some...guidance. I think you and I should start something daily, just to help me (and you) stay close with God. Plus it would help us (me and you) to grow closer."

When your nearly 15-year-old daughter requests something like that of you, you have no choice but to say yes. No ifs, ands or buts. I felt almost overwhelmed by it. I felt gratitude, joy, humility and the great weight of responsibility. How many mothers get this kind of opportunity? How many mothers hear their teen-aged daughters say, "Mom, I need your guidance and wisdom. Every day"? What a precious, precious gift. And what a fertile opportunity.

So, we've decided we're going walking together every day after school. I need to exercise, she needs to stay in shape for hockey season and we can talk while we're walking. Once school ends we're going to have to come up with something else and we'd like to find a good study to do together, but for now, this is what we're doing.

I absolutely cannot wait. See what I mean? An offer I can't refuse.

Friday, May 21, 2010


We've lost our battle with the starlings this year. For the past eight years or so we've had to deal with them trying to share our home with us. The first year we thought, "Oh how charming, will you look at that, we have a birds' nest on our porch. The children will love it." By the time the nestlings flew away, we were so glad they were gone!

The second year, knowing nothing about birds, we were astounded to see them back again, building in the very same place as before. Though wise enough now to be immune to their charms, we were too late to prevent another nest and had to suffer with them again.

Starlings are filthy, noisy and potentially destructive. Though helpful in controlling the population of grubs and other insects in suburban lawns, they have been known to cause damage to homes. They are also aggressive and destructive to other species of birds, being known to invade or take over their nests.  They also build nests in places that are very inconvenient and potentially harmful to humans:

Once, there was a terrifically dreadful smell throughout our entire house.  We could not find the source of it but knew it to be something organic that was decomposing.  We figured perhaps it was something like a squirrel, bat or rodent that had gotten trapped in a wall and died.  It wasn't until the following Autumn when we turned our furnace on for the first time and noticed the smell took on a scorched quality that we found that a starling had somehow flown down the chimney and gotten stuck in the pipe where it meets the actual furnace itself.  The Viking unscrewed something and there we saw the blackened face of a bird, perfectly preserved in charcoal.  When The Viking touched it, it crumbled into ash.

Apparently, we aren't the only ones to have trouble with them. None of these photos are mine, I found them on different sites when I was looking for info on these pesky birds:

Yes, that's inside someone's patio grill.  How did they get in there?

And THAT is several years' worth of starling nests, piled several feet high. Ugh. Apparently, they don't remove the old nests before building a new one.  They just layer it on!  Can you imagine the smell in that attic?

And this one amazes me!  Did they get in from underneath the car?  They must have!  And I suppose this vehicle wasn't used all that much if the persistent birds had time to build in there!

Anyway, the third and fourth Springs, The Viking tried sealing up their old point of entry. They found their way in using another.   Then we re-sided the house and completely removed the soffit beneath the eave in which they'd been building.  We thought for sure we'd finally solved the problem.  It was kind of entertaining to see Ma and Pa Starling confusedly fluttering around the place where it had been, but our amusement ended when they just moved to the rain gutter slightly to the left of their old home!  AAAAUUUUUUGGGHHHH!!! Another two years of having to clean bird poop off of the porch railings and mailbox every other week!  Our mailman was horrified, I'm sure!

FINALLY, The Viking went out and sealed up every little crevice he could find in order to prevent them from returning.  And it worked.  They fluttered around in vain for almost two weeks, trying to find a way back in.  And they moved on.

For one year.

Then the next.

And the next.

And even the next.

Each year they'd come back, fluttering around the site of their old nest, looking for a weak spot, but then they'd go off somewhere else.  I always wanted to know where they'd been nesting during those years and why they didn't just immediately go back to those places?  Why always back to our porch first?

Anyway, this year, they made it in again.  I don't know how they did it.  I don't know why, after all those years away.  But they're back.  And they're super annoying!  Ask anyone who spends any time at all sitting in the kitchen or dining room (which is, like, everyone?) what the noise is like.  They make this kind of whirring, spitting, rattling noise that is very loud and distracting.  And they make it ALL THE TIME!  I think it 's the nestlings because just a few days ago they were peeping like that all the time.

From where I'm sitting in the kitchen, I can merely glance out the window and see the beginnings of the poop stalagmites on the porch railings.  Sigh.  Our poor, poor mailman.  And there's nothing to do but wait for the nestlings to fly away and then my poor Viking has to go back out there and seal everything up all over again.  I think I am going to get one of those fake owls that scare the birds away.  I've resisted because I don't want to discourage the finches and wrens who have also tried (and once or twice succeeded) to nest on our porch.  They are welcome to stay; they're not noisy, messy or destructive in the least!  But I guess it can't be avoided any longer.

So, score one more for the starlings.  But look out next year, you squawky, bird-brained pests!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No sugar in the morning, no sugar in the evening, no sugar at suppertime

Yesssss, I realize this is, like, the third post in a row about my hypoglycemia. Just deal with it, okay? I am dealing with it every stinking minute of every stinking day so having to read about it thrice in one week is really not that bad, alright?

Hmmmm...speaking of altered states due to low blood sugar, maybe it's time for a protein-packed snack?

Hang on while I go nibble on some cheese...ok I'm running low and must pace myself cheese-wise so I'll have to settle for a lowfat, light yogurt and we'll see how it goes.

I am quite frustrated with the information available on hypoglycemia. There's just a lot of conflicting information out there. For every study or report I read that says hypoglycemics should avoid fruit and milk, I read another one that says fruit and milk are fine, and then another that says they're actually beneficial. One study says stevia is a great sugar substitute, then another says to avoid it at all costs. And the complete lack of low-sugar recipes for hypoglycemics is appalling! We are not diabetic and cannot follow absolutely the same kind of diet as diabetics do! Or can we?

Sigh. I have an event coming up that I'm trying to plan for and I just don't know what to do. My old Wednesday night Bible study class is reuniting soon. For desserts. Full of sugar. This could be the ultimate test of my new-found resolve to no longer put poisonous sugar into my body! The only thing that could be worse would be to have it fall on the worst day of my period and have EGOD and my in-laws there (my three worst sugar scenarios).

I am trying to find a low-sugar dessert. And not a low-sugar, healthy dose of monastery food masquerading as a dessert. Butter, cream, milk and even flour are okay, whole wheat is best but even white flour is tolerable, I just need little to no sugar. And I can't find anything! I'm thinking of experimenting with scones, which already have a considerably small amount of sugar in them as it is (at least the recipe I have) and are one of my most favorite foods. And I'm thinking, perhaps, something heavy on bittersweet chocolate or cocoa might be good as there is less sugar in either of those elements as well.

If anyone has any ideas or recipes or places I could look, I would be most grateful. I would like to be able to attend my reunion and contribute a dish without drawing attention to the fact that I'm no longer eating sugar or inflicting misery on everyone's palates.

Well, that's enough complaining for one day. I've got a dog to walk and laundry to fold and iron. Until next time...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cheese, Eggs and Nuts

My best friends now. All I eat (it seems) is cheese, eggs and nuts. I can, of course, eat meats, veg and complex carbs, but you see there are problems. There are very few forms of portable, quick, and easy to fix meats. Slim Jims do NOT count. I DID request a plain, unadorned, unbesmirched, grilled chicken fillet at Chick-Fil-A the other day, so there are options for me at the occasionally necessary fast food joint (besides their gross salads they keep stocked in the coolers for months on end so they can claim to have "healthy options"), but otherwise meats are hard to get on the go. Vegetables can be very portable, but they don't really do much for me, blood-sugar-wise. They don't harm it, but they don't support it either. So, vegetables are good for what I would call recreational foods. If I'm depressed about the sight of a lean, dry fillet of meat sitting on my plate all by its onesies, I can add vegetables with wild abandon to keep it company. And complex carbs? They're acceptable, but only in moderation. And since my evening meal often involves some sort of complex carb, I usually avoid them the rest of the day to save up room.

So, if I'm on the run, like I was yesterday, and have to eat every 2-3 hours, like I have to every day now, I need portable forms of acceptable foods. And those are mostly cheese and nuts. I felt like I bought a ton of each of them when grocery shopping on Friday and now, most of them are already gone! Whatever shall I do?

The good news is, after just one week, I'm already seeing results! Small results, but results nonetheless! By the fifth day, I actually felt kind of good while taking my walk. The Viking and I each took a large dog and went together on Saturday morning. It was a glorious May morning, bright, cool, dry and breezy, perfect for walking, and I got to do something good for my health and spend some alone time in the early morning, sharing the beauty of a beautiful day with my husband on a Saturday. We've never done that before. I got my heart rate up, but could still have a conversation and didn't feel like I just wanted to crawl into the shower and die.

And get this: that same day, I had to run out to the car to get something and was looking for a pair of shoes, any pair of shoes, to stick on my feet. The first pair I saw was Redheaded Snippet's brown flip-flops. I love those shoes: they've got a wedge heel and have brown sparkly things on the thongs, just my kind of shoe. But they have never fit me. I always chalked that up to my wide, flat feet, but had never accepted it. Whenever I see them, I try them on, even though they have never, ever fit me.

So, I'm looking for shoes, I see my favorites and I decide to make my usual attempt at slipping my feet into them. And lo! my feet go in smoothly and easily! What? What is this magic? I took them out and tried them again...and AGAIN they went on my feet! They FIT!

I did not know your feet, yea even your feet, could get fatter or thinner! This now has me wondering about other areas I thought were safe like my nose and earlobes! But mostly, this is exciting news! I wore those shoes all over the place that day and have been putting them on and taking them a hundred times more than I used to, now because I CAN!

We figure I've been losing a lot of fluid that I had been retaining. Don't they say that the first few pounds lost are usually water weight? Well, there you go. Even Daria looked at my feet and saw a difference. That got me thinking so later I crept upstairs and faced my fears and stepped on the bathroom scale...

2 pounds! LOST! I don't care if it is in my feet, it's still the first two pounds! It's working! I cannot believe it.

I don't know what has changed this time, why these changes don't seem to be all that difficult to live with. I've tried dieting before and I've had to go through it all with gritted teeth. This time, I'm hardly stressed out about it at all. Maybe I just got to the point where I was ready. Maybe my head just finally got to the right place (wanting to lose weight to be healthy, not just to look younger/better/prettier/hotter or to stick it to certain people). Who knows?

But I'm on day 8, have had my eggs and cheese for breakfast and am getting ready to walk one of the dogs. Maybe I'll even see about getting new sneakers...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This is me being succinct. I just like saying succinct.

I have too much to do to be writing a long, luxurious post today (believe me, I already tried). So I will try to be succinct.

1. Operation Cohabitation is going rippingly well. We are reasonably comfortable and still like each other. My nieces are adorable beyond belief and we're enjoying every minute with them (even the two-day diarrhea-fest we had earlier this week)! I am sure this experience is not quite as delightful for Dharma and Vance as they are being forced to live in someone else's home (and no matter how comfortable and homey a place may be, it's not really home unless it's your home), but they seem to be bearing up rather well. We're sharing in the everyday tasks, staying out of each others' way as needed and enjoying the evenings together after the children are asleep.

2. Operation Jane Austen is well underway. I didn't tell you about that, did I? Well, that's because it's quite silly. Daria, Beelix and I were discussing books we have and have not read and I confessed to them that I have never actually read Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, both of which are among my most favoritest movies ever (the A&E P&P, not the wretched Keira Knightly one--nope, not a fan). They, both being rabid Jane Austen fans, were understandably horrified and disgusted. Daria informed me, very sternly I might add, that she has a volume of all of Jane Austen's completed novels that she would cheerfully use to beat me about the head and neck if I didn't promptly read them. So I borrowed it. And I've been reading it through.

I've completed Pride and Prejudice (which is now up there among my most favoritest books of all time--yes I know, duh), Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park and am well into Emma, which I have read before but am enjoying all over again. I read Northanger Abbey a few years ago but will read it again just to be thorough and then it's Persuasion and Lady Susan, neither of which I've ever read and know anything about! That, in itself, is rather exciting, don't you think?

3. Operation Lose Weight has also begun. I can't, for the life of me, think of a better name for it than that. I've been trying for days, it's pathetic. Anyway, I'm not sure why, but I think I've just finally had it with being fat and out of shape and a potential embarrassment to my family. Add to that frustration with my hypoglycemia, and fear of either having to be removed from my house by crane or being shipped off by the government to a concentration camp disguised as a fat farm for breaking the law against obesity that I'm convinced is about to be passed and you've got my motivation!

I've been researching hypoglycemia, with which I was diagnosed about a year or so ago. No wonder it's so crazy out of control! I've been eating all the things a hypoglycemic shouldn't! And no wonder I've just been gaining, gaining, gaining. I need to follow a low carb, low sugar, high protein, high fiber diet. It puts me in mind of that summer, about seven or eight years ago when I did the Atkins diet. I lost 20 lbs, nearly eliminated my hypoglycemia symptoms and felt great! I guess it's no coincidence; I was eating small amounts of complex carbs, virtually no simple carbs and mostly protein and fiber--just what it turns out I need!

So, I'm revamping. I'm cutting out all simple sugars and many carbs. I'm trying to remember to eat 6 small meals, or at least 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. It's hard to constantly be planning ahead (like stopping to buy a small pack of mixed nuts before Redheaded Snippet's lacrosse game yesterday), but that's just what I have to do. When I make something with a heavy load of carbs for my family, I'm refraining from eating it, if possible. For example, last night, Dharma made pepper steak (oh my, it was SO GOOD) over rice and I just had the beef and peppers. Not sure what I'll do about spaghetti and meatballs night...maybe I'll just have to go without carbs all day to leave room for the pasta. I'm getting used to drinking my 2-3 cups of tea each day without sugar. And at bedtime, instead of something sugary (sure to make my blood sugar drop and give me horrible nightmares), I'm snacking on plain yogurt and fresh fruit drizzled with the tiniest drizzle of honey.

I'm also walking. There are three rather large dogs here right now who all enjoy being walked. And I am fortunate to live in a neighborhood and on a street that are rather rural in appearance (though we are mere minutes away from some of the most sprawling, ridiculous, suburban shopping centers in the state). We have woods with a bike path running through it directly in front of our house. And the weather has been spectacular lately. I feel like God is all but screaming, "GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND GO WALK" at me.

So, I've been taking one of the dogs and walking 20 minutes a day. I want to work my way up to 25 and then 30 minutes (read that hypoglycemics shouldn't exercise more than 30 minutes at a time) but the 20 is almost killing me. No, that's not true. Though, without the wonders of Aleve or Advil, it almost is! Redheaded Snippet was kind enough to show me some good stretches so I don't break my decrepit body and the dogs are large and fierce-looking enough (the biggest is nearly 100 lbs) that I feel completely free from harm so I really have no excuse whatsoever. Sure, my sneakers hurt my feet (have never had a pair that didn't) and all bets might be off once the humidity rolls in, but for now, I'm walking. Every day. And not hating it.

I think that's it. The rest involves my usual rhapsodies about my clothes line, the wonders of having a wood stove during the cold, chilly days of early May, the joys of lacrosse season being over in just one week (with NO PLAYOFFS!) and the ecstasy of having less than 30 school days left on the calendar (5 1/2 WEEKS)!

But for now, I must get to the laundry, beds and menu-planning. As you were...

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Stealing Time

So, I've got a small, unexpected pocket of time to myself so I'm taking advantage of it. Man-Cub spent the night at Gram's, The Viking has a youth band rehearsal and Redheaded Snippet is snoozing on the couch. I have to head out to the grocery store, but figured I'd blog a little first. Must fortify myself somehow, you know.

We had a jolly little Work Day yesterday in spite of my irresponsible blogging. The children were not happy with the way the day went, and I still have lots of follow-up to complete today, but it was productive nonetheless. The Viking put the children to go use making them move and stack about two cords of wood in preparation for the winter that is yet a good six months away. I am hoping they learned some valuable life lessons with their father yesterday. You know, about the value of hard work, and team work, and cooperation, and listening to your father, and making hay while the sun shines. Good stuff, good, good stuff.

Unfortunately, I taught them about waiting until something that is important to you is about to bite you in the butt before accomplishing something that probably should have been done long ago, as is my wont. We finally packed up all the winter wear and put it in the basement. We even cleaned out some of the scarves, mittens and hats no one wears anymore and I dug a Space Bag I'd been holding onto out of the linen closet and put it to good use.

I tackled the laundry room (a room I am expecting will get some good, regular use with four adults and four children living in the house) as well and, short of some good ideas for further organization and storage, have declared it finished and good. Now all I have to do laundry-wise is finish the laundry itself. But that is a job that can be done whilst other things are being done so I don't mind it at all. Plus, we have what looks to be another sunny day before us so I should be able to use the clothes line, oak pollen or no.

Well, it's time I get back to the tasks at hand. I need to accomplish a lot and stay focused in order to do it. And, first things first, grocery shopping so we can eat. I'm thinking BLTs for lunch, for some reason. Nothing beats a nice BLT. Except maybe an MLT, mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich; when the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe? Mmmmm, they're so perky, I love that!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Call Me Irresponsible

As per usual, here I am blogging when I have no business doing so because I have no time to do so. After 37 years, my complete inability to properly manage my time still manages to amaze even me. Did I blog during the week when my schedule was a little more forgiving when my time was own (in a matter of speaking)? No, I did not. Did I blog last night when I was up late because I couldn't sleep? No, I did not. But am I blogging now in the middle of what I my own self have designated as a Work Day? Oh, yes, I am!

I have much to do, much to do! First, it's Saturday, the day The Viking likes to roll up his sleeves and reinforce his reputation as the hardest working husband whose wife never has to nag him to get anything done around the house. His back has been feeling really super lately and the weather is nice so he is out on the back forty (euphemistically speaking, of course) unloading things from his truck. He just pulled into the driveway with the back full of pallets he begged off of various store managers in the area. He's recently acquired several loads of wood from the sides of many different roads and has spent the last few weekends splitting all of it. Now, he's arranging the pallets on the ground along the back fence in order, no doubt, to neatly stack all the freshly split wood on top of them. We've just emerged from winter and he's already preparing for the next one. How very Pa Ingalls of him.

Speaking of Pa Ingalls, one time I unwisely and jokingly chided The Viking for having to borrow a splitter and Lenny to split that wood. Pa Ingalls, I maintained, did it all by himself with just an axe. The Viking, no stranger to the Little House series, calmly retorted that Ma Ingalls made her own butter and cheese. Yeah, I shut right up.

I am just now looking at The Viking's chores list. While I was still asleep this morning (it's a wise and loving man who lets his wife sleep as long as she likes on Saturday mornings), he wrote up a list with items for each of us. The childrens' items are somewhat detailed, as we've learned they have to be with our two:

"Trash cans in"
"Bring dirty clothes down to be washed"
"G.I. (CLEAN) bathroom"
"Sweep kitchen and dining room floors"
"Help me outside"

The Viking's portion, however, is written almost entirely in one word bullets:

"Tick and flea guard for Nutmeg"

My list, for those interested, is blank. I filled it in myself, mimicking The Viking's clipped manner:

"Coat cupboard"
"Bathroom closet"
"Laundry room"

Yes, it's deep clean/Spring clean day. A day of sorting, boxing and removing. Which brings me to the other reason I have so much to do today:

Dharma, Vance, Bitsy, Rosebud and their two dogs (ever after known as Dharma&Co) are moving in with us in a few days! They had arranged temporary housing for themselves while they wait for Vance's new position in Tennessee to begin, but those arrangements fell through. They have no place else to go and it worked out so well with them staying with us those ten days a few weeks ago that we all talked about it and decided they should just stay here.

So, that means we will have eight people and three dogs (the smallest of which is a German Shepherd) living in our three-bedroom, 1700-square-foot home. Things could get really hairy around here! But it's only for four weeks, we love my sister, brother-in-law and nieces dearly and really do get along with them well and, besides all that, there is no question in my mind or The Viking's that this is what God would have us do.

I felt the Holy Spirit's nudging to ask them to stay here several weeks ago, when they first arranged their other lodgings. At first I dismissed it as a crazy, knee-jerk idea (You know, "Ooooh, wouldn't it be great if they stayed here with us? Like a long slumber party!"), but it wouldn't go away. I began to wonder if the idea didn't originate in my fevered, little brain.

So, I did what any coward does when faced with a possible message from the Lord. I threw out a fleece. I began praying about it and prayed specifically that if God wanted me to make the offer, it would have to come from The Viking with no prompting whatsoever from me. I figured that would do it! The Viking loves my sister and her family as much as I do but he is a lot more prudent when it comes to issues of cramming our house full of people. I come from a family who believes if you have enough room on the floor of one room in your house to squeeze one more sleeping bag, you have room for family. The Viking, thankfully, has more sense and provides much needed balance for me in that area.

Long story short, Dharma&Co. stayed with us for ten days. It went smoothly. Then they left and their plans fell through. A few days later, Dharma called. She was upset about it so I was upset about it. When I told The Viking what had happened (and why he had come home to find me distressed after just hanging up the phone), we talked for a few minutes about what we would do in their situation and then he said, decisively, "They should come here. The health of their children and their marriage is more important than any inconvenience we might have to put up with."

I burst into tears, we talked out a few quick details and then I was back on the phone with Dharma. We talked out a few more details, she and Vance talked out many more, blah, blah, blah, and they're coming on Tuesday. I'm very excited.

I know we're going to have our moments. I know you cannot smoosh two families into one living space without a few headaches. Man-Cub is losing his room, Redheaded Snippet has to sleep next to an aquarium housing two frogs, Nutmeg will spend the next four weeks being terrorized by two much younger, much bigger dogs, and we have to baby-proof everything, but it will be well, well worth it!

Dharma and I have never had the opportunity to be mommies together. We've had stolen bits of time with each other's children and have never gotten to do the small, day-to-day, ordinary life things together. And now we will! She'll have an extra set of hands to help with laundry, dishes, errands, or even just watching the kids so she can take a shower or (wonder of wonders) a nap. And I'll have someone to keep me company while I have to do the same things. We'll each have an ALLY. The Viking will get to have another man around the house to help kill the bugs, take out the trash, smoke cigars and drink whiskey on the kitchen porch. The kids will get to spend time with cousins and an aunt and uncle who are usually far away. I really do think it's going to be wonderful.

But, oh, there is so much to do! I need to clear space in our cupboards and closets, put away the breakable things so tempting to toddlers and give everything a thorough cleaning, not to mention figure out what we're all going to be eating and compose a grocery list.

So, you see why I have no business blogging? It really is most irresponsible of me. Guess I'd better be off and get started...