Saturday, October 29, 2011

Going Sugar-Free

I've been seeing a nutritionist for quite some time; really, since my body retaliated against fertility hormones almost a year ago by making me feel awful 24 hours a day.  And I've been mostly happy with the results. My headaches are mostly gone, I feel healthier, my grocery bill has increased. (Well, maybe happy isn't the word to describe that last side effect)  No changes in my baby status but other things have made life much better.  Everything she has asked me to either give up or add to my diet up to this point has been doable for me. Some choices were hard, but still realistic.

Then yesterday she drops what feels to me like a very real bomb. Here was the conversation.

Nutritionist: "I think you should go off sugar for 6 weeks as well as cut down on carbs."
Me: (silence)
Nutritionist: "I can't see any other reason for a lot of the issues you have, the weight loss and especially the infertility, other than a sugar sensitivity."
Me: (silence with increasing panic)
Nutritionist: "So, do you think you can do it?"
Me: (Full on panic) "Does that mean all sugar? Even honey? And chocolate? And pasta?" (heart beating incredibly fast to the tune of "I cannot do this, I cannot do this, I cannot do this) "How do you expect me to drink your herbs with no honey?"
Nutritionist: "Yes. All sugar. All honey. A little pasta. You can put stevia in your herbs." (For those who have tried stevia, this was no consolation to me. Blech.)

So, there you have it. She wants me to try it. And for 24 hours I have been mulling this over. Like the good ISTJ firstborn that I am, I will follow her rules. I will try this. In honor of my last day of eating sugar, I had two large cups of very sugary coffee and a cupcake and s'mores. I'm sure I overdosed but I figured if this is it for awhile, especially with both Halloween and Thanksgiving looming, I was going out with a sugar-coma bang.

You see, I love sugar and carbs. I love desserts, especially cookies and ice cream. I cannot ingest a hot beverage that does not involve bountiful spoonfuls of sugar. I eat whipped cream right out of the can when no one is looking.  If my steering wheel were coated in sugar, I would lick it while I drive. 

This, my friends, is a big sacrifice. And the test came quickly. A friend came over today with her two lovely dogs for a playdate. And into my home she came with a box of hot krispy kreme donuts for a surprise. Seriously? I gazed longingly as my son and she consumed donuts, watching little pieces of that gorgeous hard icing falling to the ground and contemplating whether I would be considered deranged if I were to drop down on all fours and lick them up off the deck. Zeke beat me to it before I could act.  I should also mention that this very well-intentioned friend had zero idea I was off sugar. Any other day in my life, I would've greeted her with her very own parade.

Yes, this particular sacrifice is going to take a lot of hard work. A lot of trust in God's ability to give me the self-control I lack in this area.  This is going to take me waking up every morning and recommitting this to a God who is way more powerful than my sugar cravings and is in control of my crazy metabolic issues and my rebellious uterus. Even on the days when I struggle to really trust his sovereignty and his fairness.  And those days, I am sad to say, still come more often than I'd like.  Maybe this is one more way he's going to show me how big he is and how much faith I really need to get through each day.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Adventures in Backyard Camping...and Airborne Assaults

Neither my husband and I would be considered experienced or skillful campers. We love the outdoors but for most of our lives have loved the outdoors during the day and enjoyed our soft beds at night. Occasionally, we both experienced backyard campouts or an overnight at a campground and I did once spend a few days hiking through the Adirondacks, but we are probably pretty soft-core when it comes to braving the overnight elements.

So, when it came time to introduce the child to the wonders of campouts, we decided to stick to family tradition and start out with the backyard. Last night, we borrowed the neighbor's firepit, cooked hotdogs and s'mores over an open flame, managed not to set the fearless dog on fire who was gamely attempting to steal said hotdogs, pitched a tent, told 'dog' stories (we actually wanted the kid to sleep, after all), had a flashlight show and hunkered down for the night.

Upon which I remembered why I don't camp very often as I tried in vain to roll in any direction that would let me sleep on a surface that did not have multiple acorns and sharp rocks intruding into various organs. Ah well. The sacrifices we make for our kids.

So, there we were, child sound asleep, adults sleeping fitfully and dog occasionally woofing gently as another neighborhood dog made his presence known by howling at the bright moon when I was abruptly shaken awake to hear my husband militarily whispering "let's go, let's go". I stared incomprehensibly at him with the child in his arms and a panicked look on his face and, of course, was instantly awake in my own state of panic. What was wrong? Was Josh ok?

Of course, the next minute, as reality began to set in, I realized that we were under airborne assault. It was as if a thousand squirrels had banded together in one final act of mutiny against humankind, counted to three, and then launched every existing acorn at our feeble tent. I think I even heard one laughing maniacally. As small gunshots went off around us and the wind roared and the smell of rain became more pungent, the panicked whisper came again. "Let's go, it's coming!"

Now, this moment reminded me of one of the first few months of our marriage as we were still getting used to sleeping in the same bed when I was awoken to my husband who had protectively thrown his body over me and was shouting, "stay down, the sky is falling"(no, neither the sky nor ceiling was actually falling down)  so it's possible that he was experiencing a not-unusual sleep-motivated bout of hysterical heroism.

We paused, talked quietly about it, realized that it was not unlikely that a large limb could come down on our sad little tent the way the wind was blowing and carried the soon-to-be-disappointed-but-still-in-a-dead-sleep child upstairs to bed.  We took apart the tent in the moonlight, calmed down the dog who was potentially more worked up than my husband over the whole event and trooped upstairs to our soft beds and a likely painful explanation to come in the morning.

Clearly we have developed no new outdoor skills since the last time I tried camping.  Ah well, here's to giving it a try and to a flexible child who awoke with a  few disappointed tears a little later and then rallied to the cause of comfort by snuggling up with us in bed for the night.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where Are All the Women?

This is my second season coaching soccer. This year we're in the Under 5 league, which means that the cuteness level is still dangerously high but the skill level is actually starting to catch up. At least most days.

The world of kids sports is an interesting one. You certainly can get the parents who are already living vicariously through their children's heroics on the field, but I've only encountered a few of these so far. I imagine the ratio grows steadily larger the older the kids yet.  Occasionally you get a kid who talks trash, but again, they might be a bit too young for this to be a big deal.  The trash talk is kind of funny when they do come up with it. Probably not quite on par with what's heard on the sidelines of the world cup, to say the least.

Possibly the most interesting part of this so far has been the coaches. I grew up playing sports from right around Josh's age. With the exception of one year of volleyball and track, I had women's coaches through my sporting years.  Most of the girls I was friends with were involved in at least one sport. Gymnastics, soccer, softball, field hockey, track. In college many of us continued by playing intramurals and I've been a part of a co-ed volleyball league this past year in the Triangle in which many women my age are involved.

But out on that field? I have only encountered one woman coach and that was last year in the Under 4 league. She may or may not have been a college student trying to get some community service hours.  So where are all the women?  Early in my marriage, Reed and I would have (usually congenial) arguments about who was going to teach our kids which sport. I called volleyball, he had dibs on basketball, I got baseball, he's excited about football, etc.  We both played soccer and both looked forward to coaching and figured we'd take turns. My schedule works best with this and so I get to do it right now. I wonder if other marriages have had similar encounters or if this is an area where gender stereotypes still reign?  Maybe it's just a foregone conclusion for many that the dad will coach, if anyone is going to do it?  It certainly looks and feels that way.

I'll be honest. I think this is a shame. While I think men can be and are great coaches, I also think women have a ton to bring to the table here, especially those who stay home more than their husbands.  For a lot of us, we interact more regularly with bigger groups of kids.  We're usually the ones going to the birthday parties or arranging the play dates. We often chaperone the preschool trips and try to come up with creative projects on rainy mornings.  So why aren't we out on the fields?

I imagine that for some women, sending their kids off with dad for practice is actually a much welcome break, a chance to have an hour to themselves or to get dinner started without children underfoot.  I totally get that reasoning and if I had more than one kid I've wondered if I'd urge my husband to do the coaching so I could get a break.  But for some women, I wonder if it's just not on the radar. Maybe they haven't played sports since middle or high school and there's a confidence issue. Maybe they aren't sure they have the time to be creative and come up with good practices. I fear, though, that some of this is just that sports are still a man's world.  And when only dads are coaching, that's all the kids will see.   

I'm not a sociologist and have no hard stats to back up any of these musings. I've just been pondering, after two weeks in a row playing against coaches I wouldn't want my son to have, where all the women are.  And wondering what kids soccer would look like if a few more took the plunge and risked severe head and shin injuries by playing "Kick the Coach" every week. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Mushy Brain

It's been a long time since I've been in an academic class. Or to a lecture. Or in any kind of environment in which my brain would be regularly massaged.  I spend a lot of time playing with cars and legos, drawing pictures of airports and racetracks, planning soccer practice drills and playing tee-ball in the yard. I do a lot of data entry with my job, a lot of meal planning and implementing for my family.  I laugh a lot.  But there are days my brain feels like mush.

I loved school. I really did. Unashamedly. I was that person who looked forward to final exams because it meant that life slowed down around me and all I had to do was study for hours and hours a day. Lock myself in the basement of the library with a lug-a-mug of hot chocolate mixed with coffee and just study. Learn. Think. Cram my head full of interesting (and sometimes not-so-interesting but nonetheless necessary) facts.  I can still tell you the names of most of the classes I took in college because I actually enjoyed them. I really did. And not in that "oh I'm so privileged to have an education so I should appreciate it and work hard" kind of way. I was a nerd in the nicest sense.

For over 10 years now I have not been a student. I've taken a few summer seminary classes, as well as a few forays into the creative arts with a hip-hop dance class and oil painting(The hip hop class alone is probably worthy of several blog posts).  There are days, though, that I just miss being a student. Days when I go to the library to work on documents for my job and stare jealously at the person across my big table who is clearly studying a textbook. I'm sure I've become the "creepy" girl at the local library by now.

Tonight a friend invited me to attend a local event. A lecture on Race and Children's perspectives at a local eatery, a program affectionately(and nerdily) known as Periodic Tables.  Halfway through the day I was partially trying to find a valid excuse not to go. Not because I wasn't interested in the topic, but because I've become accustomed to being in my pajamas by 8pm most nights curled up on the sofa with my dog and a good book. And occasionally my husband.  But as I was hemming and hawing and generally feeling like a fuddy-duddy, I suddenly realized that I could not remember the last time I had done something like this. When I had gone into an environment that might actually challenge my brain a little. When I'd hung out with only adults outside my home.  And I realized if I didn't get out and do this, I was definitely in danger of brain atrophy.

So, my friend and I ventured out in the rain. She 39 weeks pregnant, me tired and grumpy from a week with a sick child and too many pretend car races to count.  And it was fantastic. We talked, we laughed. We listened to an intelligent adult human being with a PhD talk about race and perceptions among children and what we as parents can do to be proactive in building a healthy understanding of race in our kids as well as fostering open communication about it in our homes. It was challenging, it was entertaining and it made me yearn for more.  It made me yearn, as I often do these days, to be a student again.

Some days I do wonder if this growing desire to be back behind a desk is just my typical boredom or if it's really the Lord starting to move me towards a change.  I've been working with the same amazing organization for 10 years now. And I love it. But sometimes I'm not so sure that I'm staying with it for all the right reasons.  I've never been a particularly fearful person, but it's no small thing to end a career with a company you trust, colleagues you love and a cause for which you are passionate.  Taking a plunge somewhere else would be a huge change. And being in the middle of the adoption process doesn't make taking that plunge any easier as I am busy plunging in other ways.

Whether I move slowly towards the decision to go back to school or not, I do know this. I'm going back next month to hear another lecture. Second Tuesdays of the month, here I come.  Mushy brain beware.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The New Camera

When my little point and shoot died a few days before my trip to Ireland this summer, I frantically spent hours on the internet, trying to figure out if there was a reasonably inexpensive way to upgrade to a better camera in time for the trip. There wasn't. Thankfully, a dear friend let me borrow her lovely camera for the trip and I was able to come home with hundreds of clear pictures and, inadvertently, the overwhelming desire to now take hundreds of clear pictures as often as possible. I guess this is how new hobbies are born.

So, I've been scouring the ads for months, waiting for the perfect combination of price, age, condition and type of camera to come up and this Monday, bingo. There it was. A Canon Rebel EOS series. Practically new, excellent condition, with a bag, with memory cards, with a lens, with built in deep joy, without a ridiculous price tag.  My darling mother had already offered to help offset the cost by contributing as a birthday and Christmas gift and so I jumped on it.  I am now the proud owner, scouring the manual and torturing my child and dog during even the simplest of family moments.  As I snapped away during chili night last night, my husband wearily asked if all these pictures would go on facebook. No, darling. Even I know that no one cares to see chili smeared on our faces on a random Tuesday night for no specific reason.  (Don't we wish all facebook users knew this?")

But, in the name of full disclosure, here are a few shots that I've enjoyed taking over the last 24 hours. New hobbies are just the best.  
My very fluffy Zeke

This is how I look when I am playing with anything that has wheels.

Marigolds Still In Bloom

Dribbling at Soccer Practice

Yeah, that ball just went in.