Keep Your Chin Up

N and I were trying to decide what to do for a date recently.  I suggested we could go indoor rock climbing, haha.  I would love to, but I'm sure I'm not physically up to it.  So I have a goal now to be in shape for it in a year.  N put a chin up bar in the doorway between our living room and kitchen this weekend, and I'm slowly starting in on using it.  With both feet on the ground, just hanging on it.  M loves it and has spent a lot of time on it.  N and D can each do a few chin ups.  I tried to do one and failed.  I weigh less than either of them, so I really should be better at it than they are.  I'm using the Hanging and Swinging 101 post at Aligned and Well as a guide for working on it.

D attended his first temple trip on Saturday.  He seemed to enjoy himself, and was quite chatty about it after, which is always a good sign.  S went to a friend's birthday party where they had Little Ray's Reptile Zoo.  He held and touched a variety of critters and was also chatty about all of it after, and I'm glad it went well.

I have been testing out walks in town to see how far they really feel, in preparation for doing more walking with the kids this summer.  The few main thoroughfares in town have sidewalks, but almost none of the residential streets do.  They're also not very busy, and we generally don't walk at high-traffic times, but I still prefer a sidewalk.  It's a great visual barrier to help the kids stay where they should be.  There is a fitness trail that goes through town, a bit of a walk from where we are, but it connects to a conservation area and two playgrounds, and it also has the advantage of being away from cars and tree-lined (so it's often shady).

My salad scheme has been going OK.  I often have salad for breakfast and lunch, but I'm not making as much progress encouraging others to eat it at dinner.  I'm working on making more meals that don't have a starch "anchor" at dinner, and for others, I serve brown rice on the side so that it's easier to tailor the amount to the person eating.  A few of us really like sauteed mushrooms and onions, so they're working well as a filling veggie side.  I've gone a bit too far at times, though; I made liver, mushrooms, and tomatoes (all pan fried) and spinach (cooked in butter in a pan briefly, so kind of steamed and kind of pan fried) with cucumber slices and brown rice.  Very little was eaten, even by M, who is pretty adventurous.  I love liver, so I'm happy to have all the leftovers to myself (I've been eating it diced, over salad greens, with cottage cheese and chili powder), but it's discouraging to have that many pans to clean if no one really liked dinner.

O Friction, Where Art Thou?

So yesterday marked three weeks after my surgery and so I should be back to normal activities.  I haven't been out grocery shopping and was looking forward to getting caught up today.  Grandma S came to watch the boys.  I expected to need to do some digging to get the van out, as it had been housebound since before my surgery, although D has been digging around it when he shovels the driveway.  I cleared off the top and tried to back out; no dice.  I did some digging along the passenger side, which is right up against a snowbank that is higher than the tires.  It looked clear, so I tried again, but it didn't budge.  After lots and lots of digging (which was kind of awkward, since I had to stand up on the snowbank to do it), it still wasn't budging.  It looked like the tires were frozen and had sunk down into the ice.  We tried hot water and our big iron ice chipping rod (which was in the garage, which I can only get in to from the back yard, which is snowed in at both gates and the back door, so I had to climb out through a window to get to it.  The pile of snow that falls off the roof back there is almost my height), and still, it just moved a little and then a couple of the tires spun.  So I gave up.

I really wanted to go out after only going out for medical stuff for a few weeks now.  There is a grocery store in our town, but it's kind of small and I find it pricey.  But I decided to take a walk and pick up a few things. It was a nice day for it -- sunny and a few degrees above freezing, and not windy.  I worked on being aware of my posture and gait on the way over, and I found that when I was pushing off instead of falling forward, I did feel the work more in my backside and hips.  I didn't focus on it so much on the way home, since I had a backpack full of cheese and fruit and veggies.

I was worried that when N came home and started to work on freeing the van, he would just back out no problem.  It had been melting all day, after all.  But no.  And he couldn't push it out while I worked the gas, either.  In the end, he used the tow strap and pulled it out with the other van.

The bill for my ambulance ride arrived today.  I did not expect it.  Luckily, it was deemed "medically necessary" so I only pay $45.  Seems fair to me, considering how much I'm sure everything has cost, and all we've paid for is parking at the hospital.

Welcome back, butter

I'm happy, but a little worried, about how well things are going with eating now.  I've heard it takes a long time to adjust to gallbladderless life, but right now, I'm feeling pretty normal.  I'm grateful for that, but also a little worried (calm before the storm?).  Maybe I should just chalk it up to digestive enzymes and stop worrying.  I've even reintroduced butter (yay!) and things are fine.  I've started taking a few vitamins again, and things are fine.  Next step: fish oil.  I have a feeling that might present more of a challenge.

I've posted a bit about working on alignment; I have been reading the blog over at Katy Says.  Actually, I had enough time recently to read all of the blog.  Really interesting stuff.  I have more books now in my "save for later" basket at abebooks.  One thing I've been struggling with, though, is figuring out if I'm doing things correctly.  I don't have a full-length mirror and even if I did, I still don't think I would be quite sure how to interpret what I was seeing.  Last night, I stumbled across the websites of two Restorative Exercise practitioners in Ottawa: Live Aligned and Kangaroo Fitness.  Since the REI is on the west coast of the US, I didn't think I would be very likely to find anyone local who could help me, offer feedback, or teach classes.  Happily, I was wrong.  Now, to make plans to actually get out there and get some help.

Four of the kids are currently sick with cold.  D and M were home from school yesterday and are again today.  Luke had a fever last night and is runny and stuffy and coughing and has a sore throat and is fussy today.  Poor guy.  He's probably my biggest kid and definitely my most placid, but he seems to be getting sick more often than the other kids did.  This is at least the second time he has had a fever, and he's not even one yet.  The other kids were two or three before they were that sick.  Maybe he's just too friendly and picks up more stuff because he plays with his siblings so much.

I took some time yesterday to plan the garden for this year.  It doesn't take much planning; there isn't a ton of space (two 16x4 foot beds) and since I'm rotating the crops, there are only so many spots for each thing each year.  I thought it would be fun this year to plant more colourful varieties of things, so I have scarlet runner pole beans (the beans are green, but the flowers are red); burgundy bush beans (the beans are purple and turn green when blanched); "rainbow" varieties of both swiss chard and carrots; mesclun salad green mixes (light and dark greens and reds); "easter egg" radishes; yellow "banana leggs" and maybe pink girl tomatoes; and some colourful flowers.  Then I have normal cucumbers (eating and pickling types), roma tomatoes, and snow peas. We'll see how it turns out.

A Sticky Situation

So, I figured I would get some oatmeal soakin' last night.  I had been saving some whey, but it smelled funky, so I tossed it and just added some yogurt instead.  I added more water and put it on the stove in the morning, but I must have had the heat too high, because the next time I checked on it, it smelled burned.  I just tried not to stir it too deeply.  :P  In the end, it was a bit more sticky than creamy.  I forgot to add in dried cranberries -- R loves it with dried cranberries cooked in, and he's having some heavy dental work done this morning, so I wanted something easy for him to eat afterwords.  Maybe we'll go with smoothies instead.  I ended up stirring frozen raspberries in to my bowl of oatmeal, so it was cold when I ate it, but it was still pretty good.

So, not a super start to my plans to take back breakfast, especially since none of the kids had any.  D and M are both home sick today, so maybe we'll have some for lunch.

Now that I've had the ERCP, I'm getting back to eating food.  One thing that is supposed to help with digestion after gallbladder removal is eating small amounts frequently, and eating at the same time each day.  I'm also using digestive enzymes.  I have a hard time sticking to a set time for eating, but it's something that has been on my "should" list for a while -- otherwise, I snack all day long.  So for now, I'm planning to have breakfast at 8:00, snack at 10:00, lunch at 12:00, snacks at 2:00 and 3:30, dinner at 5:00, and a snack at 7:00.  That looks like a lot, but they will all be pretty small.  So far, things have been going well, so long as I don't eat too much all at once.

I've started a bit of stretching again, mostly calf stretching.  I find I have some restless leg stuff in the evening when I start up stretching after not doing any for a while.

Over at A Slob Comes Clean, there was a post recently about a "real food" ebook bundle on sale.  I checked it out and ended up purchasing it.  I'm hopeful that the books will help me out as I focus on changing my cooking and our eating habits over the next while.  I'm starting on the budget book; I like that the author is pretty broad in her definition of real foods.  I find I like some aspects of different "diets" (like paleo, primal, WAP, etc.), but I'm not 100% on board with any of them.  So it's nice that she's writing for a broader audience.

New Year's Resolutions

So, I'm a little late with my resolutions.  And maybe they aren't really resolutions.  And maybe one of them should be to start fewer sentences with a conjunction.  But I'm not sure.

I've had some vague ideas about changes I would like to make to how things are running in our home and what kinds of food I'm buying and preparing.  It tends to work better for me to work on one habit at a time. Back when I started doing more WAP stuff, I started out with making bone broths instead of using powdered stock mix.  Then I worked on soaking oatmeal.  Next I think was buying better milk, then making yogurt, then soaking flour to make pancakes, then quick breads, then real bread.  Then I tried fermenting saurkraut.  And so on.

I have been relying a lot on convenience foods and just focusing on getting the main dish on the table.  Vegetables are mostly frozen vegetables, which I think are a healthy choice (generally frozen when fresh with no additives), but uninspiring, and always an afterthought.  Part of the focus on convenience foods comes from the effort I've been making to put food into our food storage, and that has all been canned and dried foods.

So far, my plans have just been ideas rattling around in my head, but I'm hoping that by putting them into words (and maybe even sentences, but probably just point form), I will get moving on them a little more quickly.

1.  Take Back Breakfast
We used to have great breakfasts.  Oatmeal, various types of eggs, breakfast sandwiches, french toast, pancakes, etc.  Now, we're constantly stocked with cereal and the kids mostly get their own.  School complicates things a little, but the kids don't have to leave too early, so it's doable.  I think setting 8:00 as breakfast time and fitting the other prep around that is a good way to start.  I will likely start with soaked oatmeal.  I might end up moving our cereal down to the food storage, mostly because R and A love cereal and will ask for it all day long, especially if they don't get it in the morning.  If it becomes a point of contention, the cereal will go away for a while.  Luckily, they are the biggest oatmeal fans.

2.  Start with Salad
We have far too few vegetables with dinner.  So I'm considering having salad as a first course every night.  In theory, they will be more likely to eat it.  I often eat less salad than I would otherwise because it is the one food I really don't like being mixed with other foods on my plate.  I'm not a particularly particular eater, but that one bugs me.  To solve the problem of not having time to make salad and get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time, I hope to make the salad at lunch time.  I love salad for lunch, and any salad should be able to keep at least from lunch until dinner in the fridge.  I have a handful of kid-friendly salad recipes to start out with.

3.  More Meal Planning
I haven't done much meal planning for a while.  It helps a lot.

4.  Make Muffins
Or similar things.  I'm struggling to come up with healthy snacks for the kids' lunches.  Banana bread is about the only thing I make for them.  Maybe some savory egg-based muffins would make a good snack.  I feel like all I'm giving them is carbs -- a sandwich on bread, cheese and crackers, fruit, and banana bread or cookies or a granola bar.

5. Walk More
Which right now means walk.  I'm going to be realistic about the little boys' endurance level.  I hope to get out for a real walk for my own health as well, maybe with older kids.  I'm not sure when that would happen.

6.  Stretch More
I'm all about stretching and alignment right now.

7.  Food Prep System
There are some things that I can make in big batches to have on hand for the week or to put in the freezer and use as needed: yogurt, stock, quick breads, bean salads, coleslaw, etc.  I just have to pick a day and time and stick with it.

8.  Wheat Grinder
It's very difficult to find whole wheat flour where I go for groceries.  It's mostly in wee little bags that I would go through in 2.7 days.  And not particularly tasty.  We used to use freshly-ground wheat and it was wonderful.  I need to do a bit of research, but I'm leaning towards getting the mill attachment for my kitchen-aid.  Then I would work on making soaked pancakes and quick breads and maybe try that "simple" sourdough recipe that I keep running into online.

Hmmm, it seemed like there were more ideas when they were wandering aimlessly in my brain.  I'm sure this is enough for now.

The paper they sent home with me from the hospital said return to work and normal activities in 2-3 weeks.  That was two weeks ago.  I'm considering myself "off" for another week.  Doctor's orders, you know.  I have started sitting on the floor more and stretching my calves.  Wow, are they ever tight.  This week, I will work on getting ready to start some of those new habits -- probably take back breakfast and start with salad -- next week.
Monday, February 25

So, I was trying to go a whole year without posting, but I guess I just couldn't manage.  Another goal not achieved.

We had a fun summer.  We took a trip up northish to Sudbury and then on to Cochrane for a family reunion, and then the kids had swimming lessons all the time.  R had lessons for the first time, and he loved it.  A worked on his escape artist routine.  In the fall, the older three went back to school.  We were considering keeping M home, but she is in French immersion, and learning French was one of our deciding factors for sending her in the first place.  She dislikes a lot of stuff about school, but also really enjoys a lot of stuff.  We've hired a neighbour kid to tutor the kids in French three afternoons a week, and it seems to be helping M and R, but not S.  D works in a workbook on his own instead of working with the tutor, who is his age and it was just awkward.  We went on a trip to Lake Placid in the fall; we all had a blast.  We climbed a small mountain.  It was wonderful.  Christmas break was wonderful and we spent lots of time with family and enjoyed ourselves a bunch.

L is a super happy baby who loves playing with his siblings.  He is the easiest-going of all of my babies, even more than S was, who was pretty mellow.  He looks a lot like S did as a baby, too.  A is growing a little and talking a lot more.  He was a bit behind on his language milestones and we took him in for auditory testing, but he passed and then started talking in sentences and catching up to where he should be, so we figure things are OK.

I have some spare time for blogging (or family history work, if you count this as journalling, which I do, even though blogger gives me the squiggly red line under journalling no matter how I spell it) right now as I'm recovering from surgery.  I started having gallbladder attacks after L was born; I had it taken out a couple of weeks ago.  I'm going back in for an ERCP because apparently, a stone was left behind in a bile duct, which I discovered when I had another attack a week after the surgery, which was supposed to put an end to the attacks.  I thought maybe my liver was exploding, since it's pretty hard to have a gallbladder attack without a gallbladder, but somehow, I managed.  I'm awesome like that.  So I've been doing a lot of sitting and reading and watching netflix over the last couple of weeks.

This year was supposed to the the year of decluttering and getting the house under control.  I had a good start in January when I purged and organized all of the kids' clothing that was in storage in various bins and cardboard boxes and laundry baskets that had been filled with clothes to put away and then put on top of the bins in the closet where they should have gone.  I put them all away into brand new uniform bins (as in they are all the same, not that uniforms came in them).  I did the same thing with 3/4 of the kids' toys, and all the extra winter stuff, and all the sporty stuff, and then some kids got sick and then I had surgery.  So that's where we're at.  Oh, I cleared out two rooms that are waiting for renovations and in the meantime, evolved into disorganized storage units.  Somehow.  I don't know how that happened.

Now, however, I've been forced to face the reality of my own mortality and such with this gallbladder stuff, not because I was ever in any mortal peril, but because hey, my gallbladder filled with stones instead of working properly so there is probably something causing that.  So now my gallbladder is out, which means no more stones in it, but whatever underlying issue was causing the stones hasn't been fixed.  It turns out that surgery is a safe and effective way to deal with the symptoms, so there doesn't seem to be a lot of effort put into researching the cause.  Maybe hormones.  Likely diet, but no one's super sure about what exactly.  Fatty foods cause an attack, but they don't necessarily cause stones.  In fact, you're likely to get stones if you don't digest enough fat.  So anyway, the liver is involved and it does way more than I ever imagined it did.  No wonder it's so big.  And very complicated.  So maybe this will be the year of finally getting back to cooking more healthy foods.

I have some vague ideas about how to go about doing that, which I hope to post about here so that maybe I'll feel a little more pressure to actually do some of the stuff I'm thinking about.

Tuesday, May 15

We had a lovely Mother's Day.  I ended up home sick with half the kids.  This HFMD is kicking our keisters.  I keep thinking that someone has it mildly and then gets over it, but then they end up getting worse and being really sick for a while.  And it has a whole range of symptoms, all of which any given individual doesn't usually get, but all together, we've seen them all.  So we spent the day resting, had frozen pizza for lunch, made our dessert that we call trifle but it isn't really since we use chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, and sometimes pie filling, and then headed over to my parents' place.  Both of my siblings and their SOs ended up being able to come.  It was a beautiful day, we all got to hang out, my mom brought out the photo album of my first year (an entire photo album that started in the hospital when I was born and ended on my first birthday, all pictures of me -- the glamour of being a first born) to see how much L looks like I did as a baby, there was horseplay on the hammock and a tickle monster game, a tasty BBQ, and a lovely ice cream cake "addressed" to my mom and I (I'm not sure what the terminology is for saying that a cake has someone's name on it).  Because of the general unwellness that has been sticking with us for a while, I figured we would be in and out fairly quickly, but we ended up being there quite late, and then had a nice nighttime drive out to N's parents' place to wish her a happy Mother's Day and drop off flowers & a card.

A woke up looking sicker on Monday morning, but he was fine for most of the day, until he napped in the late afternoon and developed a fever.  I actually broke out the digital thermometer for it, since he seemed so hot; it was just over 40C under his arm.  I gave him ibuprofen, stripped him down to a diaper, and put a cool, wet cloth on his head.  He woke up and had a bunch of juice and talked with me for a bit before he went back to sleep, and his temp started to come down.  L woke up from his afternoon nap looking like A did in the morning, so I worried that L would be next, but so far, his temperature is fine.

It's starting to feel a little ridiculous how long this bug is bugging us.  There are a few different strains of HFMD, and you only get each one once; I think my kids must be determined to catch 'em all.  D was the first one to get it, and he's been over it for a while, but was complaining of feeling sick again this morning; he sounded like he had a sore throat.  Everyone tends to feel worse when they first wake up, though.

This is great gardening weather.  I still have to rake, lay out the soaker hoses, and cover them with dirt before I can plant.  Instead, I'm just barely managing to get out of my pjs at noon (actually it was after 1pm today) and I'm struggling to catch up on laundry so I can put the winter stuff away so the kids don't have to keep their clean stuff in laundry baskets and so all of the bins in our upstairs hall can at least be put away, even if I don't manage to sort the clothes out by size.  I haven't even thought about a menu plan for this week; I made popcorn and smoothies for dinner last night, and the kids made themselves hot dogs to go along with it since apparently popcorn and smoothies aren't filling enough for dinner for growing kids. 

I noticed yesterday that the tub is getting pretty grungy; M likes to take very full baths and she really grimifies the tub.   I thought I might clean it out today.  Instead, I only managed to clean the sink.  A wanted to pee, and I decided that I would just run downstairs and do a bit of laundry while he was busy in there.  He was very busy; the sink was full of water, a box of q tips, a tub of flushable wipes, two dozen empty toilet paper tubes that were in the cupboard waiting for me to get one of the kids to put them in the recycling, an empty container I put flossers in, and a bunch of flossers.  Just as I was getting to the bathroom door, A came out, cheerily said "Done!", closed the door behind him, and ran down the hall.