Friday, February 26, 2010

Dealing with Stress

Stress. It's a topic I come back to quite often. It's a topic that has even earned itself a category heading in my other blog's sidebar.

I'm always seeking to free myself from the tight clench of Stress (even as I willingly climb into his hand time and time again). I decided to enroll in a two-hour class entitled "The Tao of Stress Management."

The presenter started the workshop by emphasizing the direct relationship between stress and nutrition. He argued that when we eat processed foods, we put unnecessary stress on our cells. He railed against refined sugar, flours, pasta, etc.

Then he moved into a segment about accepting personal responsibility for our stress levels. Ultimately, we are the ones responsible for our emotional state. We create stress for ourselves by being too hard on ourselves, wanting to control things we can, escalating stress, or blaming things on other people. Our reactions to external stimuli determine our stress levels (not the stimuli themselves). It made me feel so silly for all the times I let bad drivers frustrate me on the road. Seriously? Why escalate my stress level over something so stupid?

He talked about deep breathing as one antidote for stress. He discussed the important of breathing all the way into your stomach--really letting your belly expand with each inhale. This particular technique has already worked wonders on my stress levels. If I'm really, really stressed, I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth to release all my pent up emotion. I'm trying to condition myself to breathe deeply as a habit.

He also touched on the importance of regular physical activity. Even though I have personally experienced the beneficial effects of exercise on my stress levels, it still helps to hear the message over and over again.

Because he is an acupuncturist, he also discussed the benefits of acupuncture.

In terms of next steps, here's what I generated during the workshop:

  1. Find a natural, whole foods cookbook (maybe this one?)
  2. Set aside time to relax every night before bed
  3. Practice breathing all the way into my belly
  4. Stop complaining
  5. Do yoga (for crying out loud!)
  6. Start taking walks after dinner
  7. Take 25 deep breaths as I fall asleep
In short, I loved his closing summary about how to reduce stress in your life: "Breathe more deeply, eat more simply, and move more frequently."

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Natural Healthcare

Ooh, I'm excited about this acupuncture center I found in Houston: The Axelrad Clinic for Natural Women's Healthcare. Here's what their website says:

Restore your natural rhythm and correct hormonal imbalance with safe, natural, hormone-free treatment. We have seen excellent results treating conditions such as menopausal symptoms, menstrual irregularity, PMS, endometriosis, and other common women's health complaints.

Our women's health treatment program is designed to support your body's natural hormonal function and restore the delicate balance of your endocrine system. Using the natural treatments of Acupuncture, Individualized Herbal Therapy, and targeted nutritional support, we correct the subtle disharmonies that are causing your hormones to function abnormally. We have seen dramatic improvements in patients with these and other conditions:
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Endometriosis
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Painful/heavy/infrequent periods
  • Premature Ovarian Failure
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression
Our program that incorporates detailed holistic analysis of your unique constitution, combined with and supported by laboratory testing. It is our view that by combining holistic and scientific we are on the cutting edge of natural women's health care, providing our patients with a high degree of accuracy and efficacy. Your treatment program will consist of:
  • A detailed initial consultation to pinpoint the type, source, and cause of hormonal imbalance.
  • Development of a customized treatment plan that addresses the symptoms as well as the cause of your hormonal issues.
  • Regular acupuncture or Qigong treatments designed to support and encourage proper functioning at every stage of the menstrual cycle.
  • Customized herbal prescriptions tailored to your individual needs, targeted to maximize each phase of your cycle.
  • A targeted nutritional support regimen that is based on results of laboratory testing and grounded in scientific knowledge and research.
  • Mind-body exercises, meditations, and lifestyle guidance based on your unique needs.
The advantage of our program is that we do not use potentially harmful hormones to treat your issues. Taking hormones, while helpful in the short term, does not allow your body to "re-learn" its own natural process. Exogenous hormones merely cover up the root cause of the problem. In our experience, simple dietary, nutritional, and lifestyle changes are often enough to make a significant impact on hormonal output, response, and metabolism. When you use natural therapies such as those we prescribe BEFORE agreeing to take hormonal treatments, you give your body the chance to truly heal. Of course, in some cases hormones may be necessary, but in most of those cases we have seen that lower doses are required due to the body's increased response and improved metabolic efficiency.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mid-Month Reflection

Yes, it is way past the "mid-month" point. But in a few short days, I will be reflecting on the past month. I need to do a brief check-in with myself and make sure I'm on track.

Here were my goals for February:

  1. I want to do a better job of tracking our spending, using our index-card method. This approach works really well for me, but it's hard for me to keep track of Matt's spending when he goes on an errand. We have a new system for putting receipts in a particular place, so it should get easier. [Phew! We're doing this!]
  2. I want to completely organize my classroom (i.e., library, curriculum shelves, and closet) and get my word wall up. [I'm trying. I still have a couples days, right?]
  3. Invite someone over for dinner that we want to get to know better. [Yes!]
  4. Maintain a happy and content life, despite lots of upcoming potential stressors. [Yeah, I'm doing pretty well with this.]
  5. Schedule appointments with the doctor and dentist for regular check-ups. [I keep avoiding this. Argh!]
  6. Undertake at least one home-improvement project (probably getting a consistent fence all the way around our house). [We are making serious progress on this front!]
  7. Run consistently (four times a week) and do 15 minutes of yoga the other three days of the week. [Running, kind of. Yoga, not at all.]
  8. Maintain regular posting on three of my blogs. [Yes!]
  9. Try to consistently eat balanced meals. [Yes!]
  10. Make another craft. [Well, I've been working on my chalkboard window project, but I haven't finished it yet.]
  11. Find a marriage counselor so we can make sure our relationship is as strong as possible before we have a baby. [I've been working on this one...]
Okay, I'm not as behind as I thought. I still have a few days to get as much done as possible...

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Entering the "Pre-mester"

My new books arrived at my local library this weekend, and I am super-excited. I pretty much read Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility from cover to cover on Saturday afternoon.

The basic premise is that healthy bodies make healthy babies. I've always loved reading about how to healthify my body/life, so these kinds of books appeal to me. The book also blends ideas from Western and Eastern medicine in really unique ways. I don't know much about more Eastern approaches to medicine, although I am extremely attracted to the idea of looking at health from a more holistic, and systems-based perspective.

Here are my next steps (some of them were ideas from other places, but something in the book reminded me of them):

  1. Really track my cycle. I have long cycles (like 40 days), so this process can be tedious. But I need to do it. I really do.
  2. Get an earpiece for my cell phone. The effects of radiation are still being researched. It's better to be safe than sorry.
  3. Look for books about regulating one's menstrual cycle.
  4. Practice having orgasms in the missionary position, since that position is apparently ideal for conception.
  5. When we are trying to conceive, I should stay put for 10-20 minutes after intercourse to allow the sperm time to do their thing.
  6. Don't use lubrication when trying to conceive.
  7. When tracking my cycle, I should look for a temperature change of at least four degrees. When I sleep in on weekends, I should take off 0.1 degrees for each extra 1/2 hour I sleep.
  8. I shouldn't turn the water so hot when I shower.
  9. I should switch to organic tampons.
  10. Ask Matt to keep his computer away from his lap.
  11. Start taking a leisurely walk every day.
  12. Turn our backyard into a relaxing sanctuary.
  13. Do back-strengthening exercises to better prepare for labor.
  14. Eat "fresh, seasonal, organic food in its natural state."
  15. Eat more quinoa, millet, spelt, and bulgur.
  16. Order organic chicken feed, since they don't sell it in Houston.
  17. Switch to a 3-a-day vitamin rather than a 1-a-day.
  18. Get more plants to help with indoor air pollution.
The book challenges parents-to-be to look at the three months leading up to conception as the "pre-mester." They suggest that you "take care of your body as you would if you were already pregnant." Since Matt and I are talking about starting at the beginning of June, we're pretty much on the cusp of this 3-month period.

I know I can be a crazy-planner, but in this case, I think it's totally justified to embody healthy habits before conception. So much affects fetal development, right from the start. The authors also bring up the Chinese idea that "eighty percent is perfection." In other words, it's okay to not be perfect. Everything in moderation.

The book also delves into "fertility types" (tired, dry, stuck, pale, and waterlogged) and includes a self-assessment (as well as an online assessment for free). However, none of the types really resonated with me.

I'm nervous about my fertility because of past experiences. When I started menstruating, I had a very regular, 28-day cycle. Then in college I went on birth control for several years. When I tried to go off of it because I didn't want to be on hormones anymore, my period didn't come back, even after a year. The gynecologist put me back on birth control pills. I didn't question it because I wanted to solve the problem. My period did come back.

A while later, I tried to go off again, and the same thing happened. I went to another doctor who said, "Are you trying to get pregnant?" I explained that I wasn't. She said, "Then don't worry about it. You'll probably have fertility problems when you want to get pregnant, but don't worry about it now."


My periods finally returned, but they can range between 30-something and 70-something (when I'm really stressed) days. I need to go to the doctor for a yearly pap smear, so I'm going to talk to her about this situation. I also want to find an acupuncturist (even though it kind of weirds me out).

We'll see what happens. Getting pregnant is the kind of thing you can actively work toward but can't really control.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Operation Closet Reorganization Part II

Operation Closet Reorganization is in full swing. I actually followed through on my "next steps" from Friday's post. Specifically, I:

  1. Got the dimensions of the space we're working with.
  2. Made a model of the space on a piece of graph paper.
  3. Brainstormed different arrangements.
  4. Started looking for organizers.
I also realized that I need to add additional steps in there:
  1. Establish goals for the mission: 1) Be as eco-friendly as possible. 2) Ensure that the process induces minimal stress. 3) Keep our tight budget in mind. 4) Create a space that is efficient and effective.
  2. Purge the closet (well, "closets," since Matt primarily uses the closet in the craft room), so we get an accurate sense of how much stuff we actually need to store.
  3. Make a comprehensive list of everything we need to store in the closet to make sure we create a space for everything.
I started with the bookshelf in the deep part of our closet. Currently, we have two smaller bookshelves, with lots of junked stacked on top. I figured it made much more sense to get one tall and wide bookshelf to capitalize on the space. Of course I headed straight to IKEA to find the right bookshelf in terms of dimensions and price and then searched for the same bookcase on craigslist, since a used option would be more friendly on the Earth and the wallet.

Once I was on the IKEA site, I realized they had a whole closet organizing system that could be purchased by the piece and custom-assembled. At that point, I started working with the arrangement and decided I didn't need to look much further.

Of course, I had to compromise on my goals a little (since they can be quite contradictory). Buying new stuff is not eco-friendly. It's also more expensive. However, finding everything at IKEA helps make the whole process less stressful and time consuming and ensures that the final product will be very streamlined and will maximize the available space.

The current configuration (I'm crossing my fingers that I did the math right) will have lots of room for books and baskets (the baskets will hold belts, scarves, and other flotsam and jetsam like bathing suits and leg warmers). We will also hang a hook to the left of the bookcase, so we can hang one of our sleeping bags. I have a down sleeping comforter, so it's better to store them in an open position.

The clothing part will have room for lots of shirts (although I'm nervous that I'll need a stool to reach them!), a row for pants (Matt and I will each have five hooks, and the hooks can hold more than one pair), two small drawers and two large ones, an area for dresses, and two shelves for sweaters and sweatshirts (we can also use some space in the bookshelf if we need to).

The total cost would be under $500, which is not as budget-friendly has I had hoped for, but it will be a lot more convenient to get this project rolling and over with in the same weekend.

I'm nervous that I somehow haven't done the math right and we won't be able to fit everything in. I'll ask Matt to double-check my calculations. I'm also estimating that the clothes part will overlap with the bookshelf for about six inches. It's not a huge deal, but it does mean a small portion of the bookshelf will be difficult to access.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Closet Makeover: The Plan

Matt and I desperately need a closet makeover. I talked him into setting aside some time to tackle it next weekend.

Fortunately, we have a large closet. However, we aren't maximizing all the space it provides. We try to keep things folded on the top shelf, but we end up throwing things up there and they get completely disheveled.

Here's the plan:

  1. Get the dimensions of the space we're working with.
  2. Make a model of the space on a piece of graph paper.
  3. Brainstorm different arrangements.
  4. Start looking for organizers from IKEA, The Container Store, and local resale shops.
I'm excited! We gave our bathroom cabinets a makeover a few months ago, and I love it. I can't wait!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Friend's Book Recommendation

I talked to a friend that I haven't talked to in a while. I asked her how tracking her menstrual cycle was going because we had talked about the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility a long time ago. She highly recommended a new book: Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility.

Per the book's recommendation, she went to a fertility acupuncturist, which "totally changed [her] cycle, cleared up [her] headaches, etc., etc." Although I've always been a little skeptical of acupuncture, I do have a particularly long cycle (ever since I went off birth control years ago), and I would be interested in getting it back on track.

Now I'll just wait for the book to arrive and see if I like it. It's weird to think that Matt and I will probably start trying to get pregnant in the next three to six months.

I'm also realizing that the preconception reading I've done has been pretty haphazard. First, it started with the free books I got at the public library sale. Then it was just from books that I found on the shelf of my local library. I better do a more thorough search to make sure I'm not missing something really good. Let me go see what I can find:

Here's a to-read list:

  1. What to Expect Before You're Expecting
  2. Making a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Get Pregnant
  3. Fertility and Conception: A Complete Guide to Getting Pregnant
  4. Fully Fertile
  5. The Fertility Diet
I have to be super-careful with all this pre-planning not to stress myself out. Honestly, that's probably the most counter-productive thing a person can do while getting ready for conception...

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Matt is going away for the weekend, and I'm seizing the opportunity to plan a little retreat for myself. By "little" I mean that I'm not actually going anywhere. But I am planning some retreat-like activities for myself.

And boy could I use a retreat. January was an insanely busy month at school, and February is turning out to be very similar. I've also been sick this past week. It doesn't help that I have major events scheduled six out of seven days next week. Oy vey.

But rather than look at the events as obligations, I'm going to look at them as opportunities. Even though it will be physically and emotionally taxing, I will definitely enjoy them if I go into them with a positive attitude.

But I digress. Back to the retreat. Here are some of the things on the docket:

  1. Straighten the house a bit. I don't have any plans to launch into a major cleaning ordeal (I'm planning my closet overhaul for next week), but I do think I need to pick things up a bit and complete my chores before my official retreat begins. I always feel so much better with a fresh and organized space. I feel more prepared to relax and be productive.
  2. Run. I have to confess that I have not been running. I need to run 3-4 times a week for myriad reasons. First, it helps me keep my weight down. Second, it relieves my stress. Third, it's good for my dog. (I know I sound like a scratched CD. Really, I'm just saying this to remind myself.) Running every day will be an integral part of my retreat (even though it's cold and nasty outside).
  3. Stretch. After all that running, I need to stretch. My muscles get tight, and I'm not as flexible as I used to be. I hate to say it, but my body feels like it's aging. I need to counteract that feeling by doing yoga and strengthening my core muscles through a few additional exercises.
  4. Walk. My most productive periods of thought occur when I'm walking along a tree-lined path. I absolutely must make time for it during my retreat.
  5. Read. Yes, I need to make time for reading. It's the perfect blend of relaxation and productivity.
  6. Look through my old writer's notebooks: I'm in the process of trying to think big thoughts about what I want to do with my one, precious life, and I want to look back over all the big thoughts I've previously thought. It reminds me of that Sandra Cisneros story. I am a compilation of who I was at 31 and 30 and 29 and 28 and 27, etc.
  7. Get ahead with my work. As much as I hate to admit it, I do need to get some work done. With such a busy week ahead, I'm not going to have much time to work in the evenings. I'll need to decompress and rest more than ever (and exercise, thankyouverymuch). I'll try to squeeze it into my schedule in smaller increments so it's not so overwhelming.
I'm looking forward to it!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Sorry for the rather blunt title.

In fact, this post is going to be rather blunt. Definitely feel free to excuse yourself now, if you don't want to hear a candid discussion of my bowel movements (I don't blame you!).

I need to figure out a way to get my bowel movements back on track. A while ago, I was going Number Two (well, I figured I might as well throw in a euphemism) every single morning before work. Like clockwork. And that felt really right for my body.

But now I'm much more inconsistent, and I'm thinking it's because I changed my breakfast routine. I used to eat Organic 4 Grain Plus Flax Hot Cereal with chopped apples, raw pumpkin seeds, and dried cherries and cranberries. Just the hot cereal alone provided 36 percent of my daily recommended servings of fiber.

But because I was trying to cram more protein into every meal (and because I was getting sick of eating the same thing every morning) I switched to plain yogurt blended with frozen fruit into a smoothie. And now I'm irregular (even though I eat four prunes a day). Hmm....

After some googling, here are the next steps I came up with:

  • Go back to my hot cereal breakfast and try to add more protein into my snacks throughout the day (like a hard-boiled egg, for example)
  • Beef up on my fruit intake (breakfast, snacks, lunch, and after-dinner snack)--focusing on fiber-rich fruit like pears, apricots, strawberries, apples, dried prunes or dates, peaches, or pineapple
  • Eat more cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
  • Drink plenty of water!

Through my few minutes of research, I learned that "fiber" makes us more regular by roughing up the cells that line our intestines. As the body tries to repair the damage, it secretes more mucous, which provides the lubrication necessary to keep us regular. Sounds awful, but the experts agree it's good for us. I also read this interesting article about the ideal color, shape, size, and frequency of our poop.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh, My Dog

He cracks me up. Almost on a minute-by-minute basis.

Happy Friday to you!

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just Saying No

Part of making space for myself to think big thoughts and follow my passions involves saying no to other people's requests, even when they're offering up seemingly good opportunities.

Just last week, I had to respond to two good requests with a "thank-you-so-much-for-thinking-of-me-but-I-can't-possibly-squeeze-it-in-right-now" message. It's hard to do, but it is oh-so necessary. I honestly cannot take on a single additional thing for someone else. In fact, I need to do the opposite. I need to scrutinize my current commitments and see what I can eliminate.

It doesn't mean that I'm going to put on blinders and close myself off to all opportunities in dogged pursuit of my own goals. But it does mean I'm going to be very, very introspective when I'm tempted to say yes to something. Usually I'm just saying yes because I want to please someone else or earn their good favor. Of course it's good to maintain good relationships with various people and organizations, but I can't do it at the expense of my own life goals.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Embracing the Wide Open Spaces

I have a big idea brewing in my head, and I need time and space to let it percolate. It can be so easy to fill the quiet spaces with noise: blogging, reading blogs, checking e-mail, talking to friends, listening to music.

But there's something to be said for intentionally giving yourself room to think. It's like blocking out the distractions so you, the quarterback, have time to plan, strategize, and decide before getting buried.

I was hesitant to get an iPhone because I feared that constant connection to the internet would tempt me to blow useless carbon dioxide into every available crevice. When I'm waiting in a line or riding in a taxi, I have to gently remind myself, "Immerse yourself in this moment. Settle into it. Let your mind wander. It might take you someplace very interesting if you let it."

I want to dream big. Do big. Embrace the wide open spaces of life with my arms open in eager abandonment.

As Mary Oliver says, you must decide "what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life."

For me, planning takes quiet and time and trees.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Photo Quilt

My school has a huge fundraiser once a year to raise money for our Montessori program. Each class is asked to donate an item for the silent auction, and each teacher is asked to donate an experience.

My class and I made a quilt using photo transfer paper. Of course the project was more difficult than I imagined (my DIY projects usually are!), but it wasn't too difficult. The photo transfers came out better than I expected (although I have no idea how long they'll last). The kids used fabric paint to create little caterpillars, butterflies, frogs, birds, and flowers using their fingerprints. It was the first time I actually quilted with batting. When Matt and I made our wedding quilt, we turned it into a duvet cover rather than an actual quilt. I tried to look up some internet tutorials for guidance, but they were too stuffy and complicated. I simply winged it, and it came out okay.

As for the teaching experience, I auctioned off a Saturday at my house for a sewing lesson (learn to make your own pillow) and a cooking lesson (learn to make your own pizza, french fries, and ice-cream). I could not be more excited!

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Book Collecting

I used to be a book collector. I started collecting books in high school. In college, when everyone else was selling back their textbooks, I was the girl who would sort through the "free" bin at the university bookstore and collect all the textbooks that couldn't be resold.

When I moved to rural Louisiana to join Teach For America, I almost left my books behind. I was only taking my car and what I could fit inside. At the very last minute, I start shoving individual books into the crevices. I managed to get all of them. I couldn't bear to be without them.

As the years passed, I collected more and more books. I dreamed of having a home library, floor to ceiling. Of course my homes never had room for all those books. Even when we finally bought our own home, we still didn't have enough room for all of them. I eventually realized it was time to stop spending so much money and space on my book collection.

I sorted through my books and separated them into piles. I kept all the books I still want to reference, as well as the books I would want to lend out to friends. I also kept all the books that I just couldn't bear to part with. But other than that, I boxed them all up and took them to a used bookstore. After all those years and all that collecting, I walked out with $80 and an aching heart.

But my heart is mending, and my relationship with books is now friendlier on the environment, my wallet, and my storage space. I realized that I can get almost any book I want from the public library. Of course I miss the comforting and optimistic feelings I get when I walk into a bookstore, so I still go. But instead of pulling out my wallet, I pull out my iPhone. When I see a book I like, I search for it on the Houston Public Library website, put a hold on it, and request that it be sent to my nearest library branch. Voila!

Here's the stack of [library] books currently gathered by my bedside:

I think I ordered a few too many to finish before they're do. At least I can go online and renew them up to three times. Phew!

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Marriage Counseling

Matt and I have been talking about going to a couples' counselor for a while now. There's nothing hugely wrong with our relationship; we just want to make sure we create a strong foundation for our life together (especially before we have a baby). I read in a recent New York Times article that couples, on average, start going to therapy six years too late.

We've dragged our feet for a long time, and it's time for us to do something about it. The ball was in Matt's court to create a list of options for us (he's the one who has really been pushing for us to go), but he hasn't done it yet. As a side note, I think it would really help for us to create a visible to-do list in our house that contains the next steps we have agreed to do for each other. That way, we would pass by it frequently and remember. We have a set of chalkboards in our kitchen that might be the perfect place for such a think (right now it is used to capture "Hoss's priorities" like "God, Texas, and Daisy," his girlfriend at doggy daycare).

I'm not even sure what our insurance covers with regard to therapy. I just tried searching their site, and it doesn't look like the selection is very extensive.

Matt just e-mailed the HR department at his work to find out more details. Hopefully we can find someone this month!

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Birthday Party Ideas

My birthday is coming up, and I need to decide (rather quickly) what I want to do to celebrate.

Usually, I make a big deal about my birthdays. For several years, I hosted a random acts of kindness scavenger hunt. Two years ago, a bunch of us trekked to a YMCA camp in the Colorado mountains for a snowy slumber party. Last year, I hosted a retro prom party, complete with a photo booth.

This year, I'm feeling rather uninspired. I don't want to do anything flashy or showy, but I also don't want my birthday to slide by stealthily without much notice.

I wonder why I'm feeling different this year. Is it because I'm getting my planning fix in other ways? Matt and I host monthly pot lucks for the Houston Heights Time Bank. We're also planning our spring break and summer vacation. Perhaps I'm planned out.

Maybe it's because Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas were particularly hectic this year, and it didn't leave much time for birthday plans.

Maybe it's because I'm growing up, and I don't need as much affirmation from other people that I am cared for and loved.

If I did want to do something for my birthday, what would it be? With whom would I want to celebrate and what would I want to be doing? Maybe a camping trip with friends? Maybe a slumber party at a cabin in rural Texas? Maybe a bicycle ride/parade through the city? Maybe a friends reunion on a house boat in Louisiana? Maybe an '80s inspired roller-skating party? Maybe a dinner party under the stars? Maybe a potluck picnic with bocce ball?


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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Grow Your Own Straweberries

I'm a sucker for kits. There's just something so appealing about having everything you need in one place with step-by-step directions about how to do it.

I got lured by a grow-your-own-strawberries kit when I went to Lowe's to get the magnetic primer and chalkboard paint for the window project I'm working on. I just have such an urge to plant, plant, plant, but I don't really know what I'm doing.

I followed the directions as closely as possible, but it looks like crud. Oh well. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February: Reflection & Rejuvenation

Photo courtesy of Nikki McClure's 2010 Calendar

It's February. Hooray! I always like the start of new months. It represents a mini-moment of reflection and rejuvenation. It's like a little version of New Year's all over again.

What should I celebrate about January?

  1. I rekindled my creativity by making a bag (during a craft date with a new friend, which was a lot of fun).
  2. I made an effort to collaborate with colleagues to improve my teaching.
  3. We hosted dinner three different dinners for friends, attended two different dinner parties, and planned a funky night out at the Museum of Fine Arts.
  4. I published our neighborhood newsletter.
  5. I met all of my consulting deadlines.
  6. I weathered the stress of buying a new car and administering five days of standardized testing to first graders.
  7. I finished the final revisions on my book proposal.
  8. I ran approximately three times a week.
What should I aspire to in February?
  1. I want to do a better job of tracking our spending, using our index-card method. This approach works really well for me, but it's hard for me to keep track of Matt's spending when he goes on an errand. We have a new system for putting receipts in a particular place, so it should get easier.
  2. I want to completely organize my classroom (i.e., library, curriculum shelves, and closet) and get my word wall up.
  3. Invite someone over for dinner that we want to get to know better.
  4. Maintain a happy and content life, despite lots of upcoming potential stressors.
  5. Schedule appointments with the doctor and dentist for regular check-ups.
  6. Undertake at least one home-improvement project (probably getting a consistent fence all the way around our house).
  7. Run consistently (four times a week) and do 15 minutes of yoga the other three days of the week.
  8. Maintain regular posting on three of my blogs.
  9. Try to consistently eat balanced meals.
  10. Make another craft.
  11. Find a marriage counselor so we can make sure our relationship is as strong as possible before we have a baby.
Argh! So many of these things have been on past to-do lists. I just want to get them done so I can cross them off once and for all. That's okay. I need to focus on the positive.

I'm excited about the month!

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Healthy Eating (cont'd)

Image courtesy of smitten kitchen

It's cold here. I'm not saying that to complain; I'm saying it to provide context about why I stayed inside and read all day yesterday. (I'll detail more of my reading insights in later posts!)

I mainly read pregnancy books. We still have a while before we want to start trying to conceive, but I love planning. I want to best prepare my body for conception, and I want to deal with the stressful stuff (like deciding between home birth or a birthing center) as much as possible now.

I picked up Healthy Eating During Pregnancy at the library yesterday (yes, I braved the cold in order to get free books). There wasn't a whole lot of new advice (since I've been reading a lot of books about pre-conception nutrition), but it was good to get re-inspired about conscious eating.

I need to keep up the following habits:

  • Taking a daily pre-natal vitamin and Omega-3 supplement
  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Abstaining from things like smoking, drinking, and doing drugs
  • Exercising consistently
  • Balancing my diet with grains, protein, calcium, fruits, and vegetables
Specifically, it got me thinking more about protein. As a vegetarian, I struggle to get the recommended amount. I think I should incorporate more legumes and grains into my diet. Right now, I eat a lot of pasta and cheese. With that in mind, here are our meals for the week:
  1. Quinoa and Apple Salad with Curry Dressing
  2. Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes
  3. Vegetarian Sushi
  4. Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Apple with Tofu

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