Musings, Thoughts and Creations

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A bit of junk?

I was reading this blog post by my favorite blogger, Jason Good: and it definitely struck a chord. (Ignore the weight part of the title, it’s actually about junk food – I am not obsessed with weight, I promise).

So far we’ve raised Lily with the barest, tiniest exposure to sweets and junk food. Partly due to her milk allergy (easy not to have ice cream or pizza or cake or anything yummy), partly due to Rob’s medical school fear tactics, and partly due to the fact that we just want the best for her. The other day I made her a special almond milk pancake when I made pancakes for Rob and I. Rob wondered why I bothered since there’s little to no nutritional value in a pancake and syrup. My only defense is that I wanted to. I grew up eating pancakes on Sundays and when our family gets together. It’s a special meal with a lot of memories, that I’m good at making and I want to share it with my daughter. He really had no comeback after that.

But if you don’t count cheerios, other dry cereal products, and raisins, and one cupcake, Lily has had almost zero exposure to anything bad for her. The question is, how long should we keep this up?

She doesn’t know any better now. And these days she’s not eating quite as voraciously. If she’s going to eat anything we’d like the bulk of it to be fruit, veg, protein, and fibery grains (yikes, this sound so healthy) so she has the bare minimum of essential vitamins and nutrients, right? But eventually she’s going to want some chips, or Lucky Charms, or god forbid, soda. And I want to let her, within reason. I think.

I don’t want her to be like Jason Good, gorging on crap when she’s 40 because we never let her have Skittles as a child. I also grew up in a pretty healthy household. Not that I never had dessert or fast food, but I didn’t have a lot of sugary cereals and packaged junk. So when I would go over to my friend Abby’s house. I would eat her Fruit by the Foots, drink chocolate milk with dinner, and have Lucky Charms for breakfast. I got my fill of junk before going home. But maybe Jason and I just have impulse control and a bit of a sweet tooth/junk addiction, and it was a good thing we grew up in healthy household or we’d be obese food addicts who finish off entire bags of oreos, regularly.

Food is also fun. There’s pleasure in Halloween candy, freshly baked cookies, and ice cream in the afternoon. A little too much pleasure, if you ask some dietitians. It literally activates the pleasure centers of our brain. I don’t want my daughter to be an obesity statistic, but we’ll never even come close to that with our nutritional diligence.

Hopefully in a year or so this milk allergy will go away and the poor child will be able to experience all the junk that the world has to offer, in moderation of course. At least she’ll get to have pizza for god sakes. Pizza sounds soooo good right now…

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The issue of weight

Most people would love to lose a few pounds, or these days, 100 pounds. I’m the annoying person that’s trying to gain weight.

In high school I was around 130/135 pounds. When I went to college I gained about 10 more, most likely because I went on the birth control pill, but it also could be part of the dreaded freshman 15. And I stayed that weight of about 140/145 for 10 years. I was fine with my weight. Of course I would have liked to be a little more toned, for my favorite jeans not to fit so tightly, but basically I was fine with my weight.

Right before I got pregnant with Lily I walked and exercised a lot to get ready for a half marathon I walked with my mom. I lost a few pounds doing that. Then when I was pregnant, I was nauseous and uninterested in food. I ate because I knew I had to, but I ate the bare minimum. At 10 weeks pregnant I was 130 pound, and had lost more than 10 pounds from my usual weight.

I have to say that when the nausea wore off, I felt what the media has programmed me to feel – I loved my new slimmer body. My bra size had increased, due to being pregnant, so I was thin and busty, the coveted perfect female form. It’s what’s in the magazines. It’s what celebrities diet and get plastic surgery to achieve. It’s not a realistic form for the majority of people, and took a collaboration of unusual circumstances to achieve. Girls if you want the perfect bod, just exercise, get pregnant and feel like sh&t for a month.

The issue of weight is big when you’re pregnant. You have to gain weight, but not too much. Some gain a ton, some just hold that basketball in front and never seem to gain weight anywhere else. Some lose the baby weight right away after the baby is born, some work to take it off, and some never do.

I think it’s a crapshoot. Yes, you can make healthy and smart choices while pregnant, just like any other time. If you eat lean protein, fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, and fiber-y grains (basically the diet everyone should have all the time), you probably won’t gain 60 pounds. But on the other hand, a lot of it has to do with genetics and metabolism. If your mom got big as a house with you, you’ll probably be the same. I knew women that threw up for six months and still gained a ton of pregnancy weight. And if you’re throwing up every day, it’s hard to make “smart choices” with food. You’ll just eat anything that won’t make you sick, and might keep you and the baby alive.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s annoying when women’s pregnancy weight is such an issue. My doctor was concerned when I was losing weight and then a few months later, raised an eyebrow when I’d gained something like 15 pounds since my last appointment. What?! My cousin said that in Amsterdam they don’t stress about how much weight a pregnant mother is gaining. As long as you’re gaining enough, you’re fine.

We have this obsession with weight in America, and yet we’re the fattest of anyone. It’s a very strange dichotomy. On TV everyone is a stick, and that couldn’t be more of a stark contrast to what is actually walking around in America. I don’t think either is particularly healthy.

When Lily was born I lost the weight immediately. I think partly because of breastfeeding, partly because I limited my sugar intake for the first two months because of a breastfeeding issue I dealt with, and partly because my metabolism increased. I continued to lose weight as Lily continued to gain. I got down to 120 pounds, a weight I haven’t been since I was 12 years old. Did I do this on purpose or work at it? No. And I got compliments everywhere I went. Compliments are nice, but I did feel like it was a little wrong. I knew lots of pregnant people in my circle of friends and family and through moms groups I was a part of, and there were those that lost the weight and those that didn’t. We were all breastfeeding. We were all trying to eat healthy and take care of our babies. Some just got lucky in their genetics and metabolism and some didn’t. All postpartum mothers should get compliments, especially the ones who are slow to lose the extra weight.

And now, here I am pregnant again, with twins. And I find myself in the position of needing to gain weight. A lot of it. Like 50 pounds. 50 pounds! I feel like an actress preparing for a role. It’s so method.

50 pounds sounds nuts, but it’s the best way to make sure I deliver fat, healthy, full term twins. That’s one segment of our society where it’s perfectly acceptable, desirable even, to be fat. Babies. Live it up babies, because once you hit a few years old, that baby weight better fall off or else.


I hate leafblowers

You know that you’re home way too much when small things start to drive you nuts. Every week, we have two sets of gardeners come to our condo complex. One tends the plants and borders of our condo complex and one mows the big lawn that is between the condos and the marina right below us. I’m not sure if the marina or the condo complex mantains the lawn and hires the gardener, but the guy who blows at the end of the day drives me insane.

So they mow, and edge, and do all the normal lawn maintenance. Not lovely noises, but it’s pretty expected and necessary. I have no problem with that part of the routine. But at around 3:30, just when you want to open up the sliding glass doors and catch the afternoon breeze, I hear the rrrrrrnnnrr rr rr rr rrrrrrnnrrrr… of the leaf blower. It goes on for an eternity (an hour).

As a general rule, I hate leaf blowers. Whatever happened to rakes? They’re quiet, they don’t require power, and let’s be honest, most people today could use the extra exercise rakes require. And they don’t disturb anyone’s morning or afternoon.

We’ve lived in the suburbs long enough to hear those damn things every Saturday/Sunday morning when someone does their own yard maintenance. Rob would get woken up every Monday by the gardeners who came to our duplex. But for a lot of the week, I was at work and blissfully unaware of all the blowing and edging and mowing going on.

Now that I’m home all the time, I hear it. All the time. And the worst is the blowing, because it’s so pointless and futile. We live in what has got to be one of the windiest places in California. Give it half a day and whatever lawn clippings or scant leaves (it’s June for God’s sake!) remain on the sidewalk will be naturally scattered away.

I think someone told this guy, “Hey go blow until I come pick you up.” So that’s what he does, whether it needs it or not. I will stand on the balcony watching this portly Latino guy blow 15 leaves around for 15 minutes. He blows whatever is on the sidwalk onto the grass or into the water. Because that’s better apparently. Efficiency or expediency is not the goal. I’m pretty sure the goal is to kill time and to look busy.

I feel so helpless against this scourge. I can’t ask the guy to stop – he’s just doing his job. I want to contact the manager. Tell them it’s not necessary. Save the time and money. But they’re just following the gardening protocol as well. I want to be annoying and go to the homeowner’s association and ask to ban all leaf blowers from the premises. Or maybe I just need to go to the ocean, achieve Blue Mind and get over it.


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Big Ed

My mom has three sisters. And each of her sisters has at least one daughter. And some of the daughters have a daughter. When we girls get together, I feel badly that the men miss out on such sincerity, hilarity, gossip, and fun. I would go through the travails of womanhood ten times, just to be a part of the elite club of the women in my family.

Some of my best memories are sitting around a living room or a hotel room, just talking and laughing. The conversation is not usually highbrow – bodily functions are a consistent topic – but those conversations are the most fun. And my stomach will literally ache from laughing so much.

The ringleader of all this is my Aunt Edda. She is the comedian, and when she gets going, we are all in stitches.

My mom and her sisters are named Sandra, Patricia, Christina, and Edda. Edda always jokes about the raw deal she got with her name. “How can you look at a tiny baby and call her Edda? What kind of a name is Edda?” She often refers to herself and signs her emails as Big Ed, which cracks me up every time. She and my aunts are all almost 6 feet tall (my mom, strangely is only 5’7″). So big is appropriate, though there is nothing manly about my beautiful aunt. But Big Ed makes me laugh all the same.

I wish I could relate all the funny stories that Edda tells, bring them alive here, but I can’t. I’m not funny enough to do them justice. I wish sometimes that I could bottle up the jokes, the stories, the feelings that I get when I am with my family, and then transcribe them so that I’ll have them forever. All I have is the soft, sort of shadowy memories that make me smile even if I can’t quite remember why.

I hope to see you very soon Big Ed. I miss you and all my aunties, and I need a good dose of your kooky antics.

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Blue Mind

My mother-in-law sent me a link to an article, a little bio on a Santa Cruz resident named Wallace J. Nichols. In the article he talks about the concept of “blue mind,” which is the calm state you get when you’re in or near the ocean. The ocean takes away our “red mind” of stress and anxiety and just chills us out.

I completely agree with the blue mind idea. Every time I am at the beach, staring out at the abyss of an ocean before me, hearing the rhythm of the waves, smelling the salty air, it’s an immediate detox. But you have to empty your mind and just let the ocean in. If you go with your kids and you’re worrying about sunscreen and lunches and drowning, you might not get to relax. You have to just let it all go. No walking, frisbee throwing, or body surfing, just the quiet appreciation and mental takeover of the ocean. Then you can take a walk or throw the frisbee, or rub sunscreen on a child in your newly zen state.

I don’t think blue mind is limited to the ocean or bodies of water. You could also get blue mind at the top of the mountain, in a grove of trees, in the middle of a meadow, or looking at a lake. I don’t think it actually requires an ocean. It just requires a “quiet” place where you can sit and lose yourself in nature. When I say quiet, I mean quiet from the modern world and other people. The noises of nature – wind, birdcalls, waves, and water lapping – is welcome noise.

This is one of the reasons Rob and I want to make our final home, the place where we put down roots, (10 years from now?) near the ocean. Hopefully there we can live a blue life.


Work ethic

At my niece’s graduation party this weekend, Rob talked to an older man who had been a plumber for over 60 years before retiring. He told Rob how his wife complained that he never took a day off. He worked for 60 years and never just took the day off. I’m sure he took vacations, but didn’t wake up one morning, not feel like working and call in sick. Whether this is an exaggeration or not, and whether that’s healthy or not, it’s certainly admirable. He talked about growing up during the depression, and that everyone in his family, no matter how young, worked. Everyone could make a buck here or there to contribute.

That was definitely the work ethic of his generation. My grandfather moved out of his parents’ house when he was 14, and bought a vineyard that he would farm himself, when he was 90. We worked until he just physically couldn’t do it anymore. And I was just reading in the Benicia Magazine about a 93 year old man talking about his life. Same story. He worked until retirement, but then got involved in preserving the history of Benicia. He started the Benicia Historical Society and helped to start the museum. He wasn’t getting a paycheck, but he was volunteering and doing something meaningful.

This generation grew up in a time before the automation of household chores, modern conveniences, and government assistance. They grew up in a time where you worked. You just did. Everyone did.

We have some of that work ethic still. I see mothers who are raising kids with limited help from working husbands, doing household work, running businesses, running social groups. I am impressed by these super moms with an incredible work ethic.

And clearly there are men and women in the world of paid work that put in 12 hour days, then come home and read stories and do the dishes.

So I won’t say that we don’t have that Great Depression work ethic anymore.

But… I definitely see a lot of people who don’t. And I’m not sure who’s at fault for this. The goverment, for creating groups of people that live off government aid with little contribution to society in return. The baby boomers for having an easier life and spoiling their kids. The subsequent generations that spend way too much time in front of a screen.

This is not a good direction to be heading. If we want our country to get out of this economic slump, we are going to have to force people off their butts.

Don’t do away with government assistance, but make people work for it. I think unemployment is the biggest joke. When able bodied 20 year olds with no dependents are collecting unemployment, there is something wrong with that system. So you were a white collar worker who got laid off and can’t find a similarly paid job. Well, there are farmers whose fields need to be picked. There are tables that need to be bussed. No job is beneath you. 100 years ago you would take anything you could get and be thankful for it.

If there are literally no jobs in the town, then by all means collect unemployment and here is a list of community service jobs you can do while you wait for the paid stuff to come in.

So there are no jobs for uneducated, unskilled workers in your town. Well, you can move or you can gain a skill. The government can help you out while you are gaining that skill with education grants or welfare, but only if you are putting in the work.

And our education system needs to change in order to go along with this newer, better America I’m planning, but that’s another post (or 5o) for another day.



No writing :(

I really wanted to make it a goal to write something every day. And look I haven’t written anything in weeks. First trimester nausea/exhaustion, plus having the hubby home (which somehow makes us less productive as a unit?), plus a ton of emailing and computer work for the Benicia Moms Group, and of course darling Lily as the biggest time suck of all. All of this equals zero energy for blogging. Plus I want this blog to be about more than the day to day baby banalia (not a word). It’s wonderful in it’s own way, and I love it, but I have another blog for that (which I also haven’t posted on).

So anyway, tired or not, even if all my plants are dying of thirst, and the dishes are stacked up, I am going to write. I have about one more month of this shitty nausea, but I’m not going to let it bring me down. I am going to write in this blog every day for a month. Even if all I manage is a haiku, it is happening. I can haiku on my phone if have to and post from there.  : )

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