Saturday, January 24, 2009

Called Out

My daughter called me out on my sub-par diet yesterday. DH and I were talking about the value of veganism in lowering cholesterol (I keep meeting people who zapped their high cholesterol when they took up a vegan diet.) After hearing me explain my cholesterol statistics to my husband, Little Miss Six-Year-Old asked me straight out, what should I be eating? I told her I should eat lots and lots and LOTS of vegetables and some whole grains, and very very little fat and refined sugar. Answering her innocent concern made everything seem so simple. And imperative -- I want to be around to hold my grandbabies some day!

I'm taking baby steps now. The latest goal is for every meal and snack to feature a vegetable or fruit. I want my meals to be based on veggies, rather than grains (e.g. pasta) or protein. I'm not ready to go vegan yet, since some of my healthy hunger-stoppers are animal based (yogurt, skim milk, chicken, fish), but I can imagine giving up cheese. Maybe. Thanks for the wake-up call, Daughter, you're very motivating.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tub Tunes

I am inordinately proud of the new song my daughter and I came up with during tonight's bath. It is sung to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

Scrub, scrub, scrub your butt
Every single day --
Make your hiney extra shiny
Scrub that stink away!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


My grandfather, John Sennhauser, was an artist, and he was pretty well recognized by the art world. He's got paintings in the Smithsonian and the Whitney among others. However, he's not on Wikipedia -- Quelle horreur! One of my current projects is to rectify this situation.

Has anyone ever posted on Wikipedia before? It's an adventure. I've got a big learning curve. On the other hand, I get to do scholarly research on Gramps, which is pretty cool.

The only problem is Wikipedia doesn't want any of the juicy stories of his life --- stories I would know but the art world wouldn't. They just want information that can be verified by reliable published sources -- damned professionalism! So maybe I'll just tell you the stories. In the meantime I'll give you this picture of him. He's holding my baby sister, Heather.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Diets, Diets Everywhere

I spent a goodly amount of today, my last vacation day, comparing diets on the Internet. My conclusion is this: none of them fit right. Aside from the occasional fowl or fish, I'm not much into meat, so that makes the low-carb diets much more complicated. No Adkins or Zone diets for me. Vegetarian or vegan diets, on the other hand, get all righteous with the no meat rule, and that just bums me out. There's nothing like a can of chicken broth to pep up your lentils! I'm also wary of losing my good dietary habits by buying into a diet culture like Weight Watchers that allows/encourages megaprocessed foods like fat-free potato chips and Splenda. Furthermore, I'm broke and I don't have a ton of time for cooking.

What I need is a diet plan and cookbook that is mostly, but not completely vegetarian, includes lots of quickie menus, uses minimally processed food, and is cheap. Does this animal exist? Help me, O Internet readers! In the meantime, I'll just finish this 5-gallon tin of caramel corn. (Psyche! I finished that yesterday.)

Although none of the diets floated my boat, these two sites were the best I found for comparing various popular diets:

The plan that is working best for me right now came from a women's mag I was reading at the gym --- Shape, maybe, or Self? (Sorry about the vague source citation. Bad Pam.) Anyway, it boiled down to four pieces of advice:
  • Eat lots of healthy food, including snacks, earlier in the day so you won't binge on junk at night.
  • Lose the empty calories -- sugary drinks, multiple cocktails, Cheetos, Christmas cookies, etc.
  • Control portions. Avoid "starving" or "stuffed."
  • Um...I forget the last one. It was something like, "Chill out." Get enough sleep. Find nonfood ways of managing stress.
Maybe I'll go back to the gym and read that article again. Couldn't hurt, right --- exercise + reasonable diet advice? Good luck if you too are jumping on the diet train.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Obama, Dreams from My Father

I'm reading Barack Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father. It is really, really well done. The writing is clear, deep, emotional but not sentimental, and always thought provoking. Not only does he insightfully and sensitively examine race relations in the US and abroad, not only does he unflinchingly draw us into his early life, but he does it so beautifully!

I must admit that at first I was mentally giving his editor huge props for making such a good book. (I used to be an editor myself.) Dreams is well organized as a whole, and every chapter begins with a killer first line and ends with a vignette that makes you hungry for more. It is so consistently well done that eventually I just had to admit that no editor would have time to go to that level of detail. Obama, all by himself, is one talented writer.

I was not surprised to see that Obama's writing was intelligent and clear --- those characteristics are obvious enough from his public speaking. But Dreams shows a caliber of writing that I would not expect from someone with a day job. I've read a lot words in my life, and I don't see this level of accomplishment very often. You go, President O!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year, friends and neighbors!

So did you do it? Did you make any resolutions? The Wilmington Journal (1/2/09) says that 98% of New Year's resolutions go unkept. I think we can do better than that, my dears. The key is in making the resolutions specific, time-oriented and reasonable. Not "I'm going to get more exercise," but "I'm going to do a 30-60 minute aerobic workout at least 3 days per week, every week."

The above is my exercise resolution. I've got three slots where I can schedule it, so I don't have any excuses to miss it. I thought about making a 5-day per week plan, but I've currently been managing only 2 days per week, and I wanted to make a smaller goal that I can really, truly stick to. If I master the three days/week, I'll move on from there. I'd love to add a couple days of strength training.

So what are your resolutions? Go ahead, be bold. Tell me in the comments section. If you tell your resolutions to someone else you're more likely to keep them. Here are my others:

Family: every day, between 3:00 and 8:30, take a deep breath and say a quiet thank you for having them in my life. Rationale: I tend to get the most grumpy and stressed out during those hours, and my daughter and husband have to deal with me. So unfair! I want to remain calm and patient with them. They are way more important than the things that stress me out. I will remind myself of my priorities and let go of my reactions to the lesser things in life.

Music: call a jam once a month. Explanation: usually my husband calls (arranges, organizes) the jams, and they happen about once per week. But there are several fabulous musican/friends who I'd love to play with, and if I call the jam, we can arrange it at their convenience.

Money: refinance the house by 1/31/09. (Fun! Not.) Get a job by 7/15/09. (I graduate from nursing school in May.) Make a budget that includes paying off loans and saving. (I'll have to get more specific once I've got an actual income.) Budget deadline: 2 months after job acquisition.

Health: lose my spare tire (about 10 lbs.) by summer -- 6/21/09. I just need to do the exercise above, cut out a few glasses of wine per week, and stay on top of my sweets consumption. Let's say 6 glasses of wine per week max, + 1 dessert and 2 less-than-healthy snacks/week.

Public resolutions --- I feel so naked! It's exciting. It's fun. Let's keep each other honest on this, 'K? You can ask for updates on my resolutions and I'll survey you on yours. We can set a date...spring equinox? We'll check back in then. I can't wait to hear what your resolutions are!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Xmas Shopping

Nothing fills me with consumer lust like shopping for other people. Does this happen to you? You go to your favorite store to find something for your sister or your best friend or your nieces, and you find (maybe) one thing for them and eleventy-six things for yourself. And of course you're broke (you're always broke), so you can't possibly justify buying stuff for yourself...unless you try REALLY hard.

The above hat was one such purchase. (Thanks, Una, for taking the photo.) My justification? It's a gift. For me. From my daughter! She's six, so we had to use my money. (And thus I instruct my child in the ways of the world.)

So what about you? Do you do this too? Do you just lust, or do you buy? C'mon fess up to Aunty Pam!