Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The light in my future

After the slightly depressing post about my brush with racism, I thought it was time to have a more upbeat post. And since I just took a management style quiz, I thought that might be fun to talk about.

My chart looks like this:

So, according to this, my priorities are work are:
  1. Getting results and doing whatever it takes to get them
  2. Taking action and hitting the ground running
  3. Offering challenge and being straightforward
  4. Generating enthusiasm by maintaining an upbeat, positive attitude
Apparently, not all Ds have that number 4, but I can see that in me. I am usually a very outgoing person, so while I can 100% relate to 1-3, I can see #4 as well. I just have to figure out how to combine all 4 to be successful at work.

Even though this assessment points out my strong points, it also showcases things I need to work on if I am going to be an effective leader ever. It states that I can be annoyed with small talk, and people can tell if I am irritated. That's so true!!!

Another sentence that resonated with me was that "making an effort to meet people's emotional needs may require more energy than you're willing to expend." That is something I have to reconcile within myself. People I lead have emotional needs that cannot be left outside their cubes. Whether it be acknowledgement of their accomplishments or empathy for their situation, I need to learn to connect to people at that level.

I also like being in charge and I don't questions my decisions too often, having made them pretty quickly. I am also very competitive and quick to point out things that don't make sense to me, pushing for change.

My biggest motivations are innovation, implementing ideas, making key decisions, getting things moving and generating enthusiasm.

On the other hand, my stressors are following strict rules, inefficient meetings, slow pace, dull environments and a lack of control.

So, for me to be a good leader, I need to:
  1. Consider my words carefully to avoid hurting and shutting down others. I need to learn to apologize even when I unintentionally disregard or hurt somebody's feelings.
  2. Need to give people time to take in my suggestions, not accept their silence as agreement and give them a chance to share their concerns.
  3. Minimize wasted time and effort by spending some time up front to ensure accuracy instead of running after immediate progress.
The most interesting thing to me about this was that my style has apparently changed over the last 6 months.I like where I've ended up and I realize I might need to work on some things to be effective but I wouldn't change the basic characteristics of who I am.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The dark spot in my past

I say "the" dark spot as if there's only one. But, there's one experience in my past that I alternate between wishing it never happened and being grateful that I went through it and came out stronger. Because it helps me understand what others are still going through and suffer through daily. Folks who are made to feel less than human because of who they are, because of the color of their skin, because they don't look like people around them ...

There's a lot of back story I am going to skip because none of that matters to my story. In 1999 or 2000, I ended up moving to Tullahoma, Tennessee with a white guy (this piece of information is important to the storyline), in order to get myself back on my feet and not go crawling back to my family in shame (little did I know that might have been my best option but I was too proud ... ok, fine I was young and stupid).
My first indication of something being wrong should have been the way people would blatantly stop and stare at me. Or being ignored if I walked into a restaurant in front of the white guy I was with. Or, how people wouldn't really talk to me unless I was with him. Or, the way a cop talked down to me with a very hostile undertone, when I was at a store alone. He even asked me what I was doing in that town and who I was with. Think back to the last time you were asked that while picking up some groceries at your local store. And, I kept ignoring the signs. The truth finally came by, opened it's huge mouth and bit me in the ass the day I was arrested.

Have your jaws lifted yet? The white guy thought he would teach me how to behave by lifting a hand against me (don't worry, he's still alive and breathing somewhere, and if he isn't, it was natural causes). I didn't take too kindly to being hit. (I've left a lot of incidents out) I hit back and walked out. The neighbors called 911. Cops came. Took one look at me, another at the white guy and told me to come with them. I was shocked silent. The entire way to the police station, the 2 cops in the front of the squad car kept up a diatribe about their town going to hell with these "foreign types" moving in. How women and specially women "like me" not knowing their place. How this should teach me a lesson to control my mouth. I am documenting one incident in the span of 3 months where I probably heard something similar at least twice a week.

Thankfully, they let me make a call before trying to book me. I called my aunt in CA who told them that I'd be on the first flight out of their town the next morning, if they would just take me to a motel for the night. I couldn't be more grateful for whatever she said to them or how she found me a way out of that hell hole. I was just glad to get out of the police station where I was very well aware of all the hostile looks and comments being made. On the way to the hotel, I got a very nice lecture about how they hoped I'd learned my lesson. How I didn't belong there (like I hadn't gotten that message already). about how they didn't really know what I was anyways, was I mixed or something? And how they hoped they'd never see "my type" in their town again.

If you are a white male, I am sorry but can you even imagine that? Being treated worse than a family pet? As a woman of color, I alternated between wanting to do something that would definitely land me in jail or worse and just curling up and disappearing. Even thinking of those few months of my life makes my heart race, my hands colder and tears spring up in my eyes. I rarely speak of it because even now it has the power to make me feel ashamed, because I feel somehow that I did something wrong ...

I cannot imagine how as humans, we can treat somebody so bad that we don't see them as fellow humans. My ordeal wasn't even that bad, there are people who suffer worse ever single day, every single moment of every day because their skin color isn't lily white.

Racism is very much alive and thriving in every part of this country still, some places more than others. We have to identify it in our thoughts, words and actions. Stop joking. Stop ignoring. Start facing. Start confronting. Even if you are not racist, people around you are. Stop walking away. Societies don't change because a large group of humans suddenly rise up. It comes from individuals standing up one by one to create a large group speaking out against injustices.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

No More Miss Four Eyes (sung to the tune of No More Mr. Nice Guy)

So, today, I had my eyes operated on. I had a surgeon cut my lens, lift the flap, do some fancy light show and fix my eyes, hopefully forever!

But, let me back up. I've been wearing glass since I was 11 (or close enough). I tried to get contact lens when I was still in India, but all they had were rigid lens and they hurt my eyes. So, for more than a decade after that, I just dealt with glasses and middle of the night blindness when I'd forget to put them on before wandering through the house.

Then came soft contacts and I ran to my eye doctor. She found me the perfect pair that didn't hurt my eyes. In fact, I could barely feel them. It was amazing. I could even sleep in them, and it was almost like having perfect vision.

Enter allergies. Now, my best friends, the permeable, night wearable contacts, became my enemies. Itchy eyes meant I couldn't keep the contacts in for too long. I was back to suffering glasses. So, even though I'd looked into it many times, I made the final decision last year and went to see Dr. Kameen about LASIK. I signed up to have the surgery in January, keeping in mind Healthcare Savings Accounts and such.

I was so very impressed by Dr. Kameen and his entire team. Everyone I came in contact with was wonderful, without any pressure to get this done there and then. I think that's what made me sign up with them without hesitation. Even though other places have Groupons out for LASIK, and if you know me, you know my affinity for a deal. Well, I didn't want to gamble with something as serious as  an eye surgery and secondly, his staff just made me feel welcome, comfortable and safe. I had my pre-op done and scheduled the surgery, but then I had to reschedule it for July because of how Jeff's Flexible Spending Account works. They did not blink an eye or give me any trouble, just rescheduled it to July 24th. They gave me my prescriptions for eye drops and sent me on my merry way.

Fast forward to today. I had put my antibiotic drops in last night and this morning as told. I showed up at their office at 10 a.m., half an hour before my appointment. The receptionist was very quick in getting my consent forms filled and my payment taken care of. Then, a nurse took me back for some last minute checks - make sure there was no change in the thickness of my cornea as well as in my prescription number. Dr. Kameen came in to make sure Jeff and I didn't have any questions. I got some Valium and some more eye drops and at 11:15, with my hair and feet in blue netting, I was taken to the surgery room.

The nurse covered me with a blanket because she noticed me shivering. I mean, really, it's the small things that make a difference! Then, Dr. Kameen pressed down on my eye to let me know the level of pressure I'd feel during the procedure. Each eye took less than 1 minute. I got numbing drops in each eye, then he used some sort of a white yellow circular tool to hold my lids open, while he used the laser to cut the flap and pull it open. This was where I felt the most pressure. Next, he used a tool that reminded me of something from the movie Clockwork Orange. Metal, goes on the bottom and top eyelids, and keeps them open. Then, Dr. Kameen help my head still as the laser did some fancy light work and apparently fixed my eyes. Dr. Kameen talked to me throughout the procedure, asking if I was ok and counting down each step. I didn't even have time to worry. Or, that was the Valium working ;-)

When he told me to blink some and open my eyes, I looked at the ceiling and read a sign "Believe in Miracles," that had been blurry to me when I'd laid down. It was AMAZING! They gave me post-op instructions and a reminder for my follow-up appointment and we were on our way. By the time we'd had lunch and were heading home around 12:30, I could feel a slight ache starting in my eyes. But I COULD SEE!!! By the time I got home, I could barely keep my eyes open and took a 2 hr nap. When I woke up, the ache was gone.

Right now, there's a slight scratchiness in my eyes, like there's a contact lens in there bothering them. But, I CAN SEE!!! Some things are slightly milky, which I was warned about and should get better by tomorrow morning. I mean, I am going to drive myself to my follow-up appointment in the morning. How cool is that?

I am so glad I got this done and got it done by Dr. Kameen. I would recommend him to anybody who asks. He might not be the cheapest but when it comes to your vision, I don't think you want savings over guarantee.

There you have it. No more glasses, no more contacts, no more sudden blindness because I rubbed my eyes forgetting there was a lens in there, no more solutions to be remembered for trips ... I am so excited for my 20/20 without modifications future!

The only drawback right now is I have to look like this for a couple days when I am indoors (sunglasses when out) ... even Oli seems to have an opinion about my dorkiness:

Boston, Usability, Beer and History

I am so behind in my blogging. I wanted to do a 3 part post about our trip to Boston. I think in order to ensure I get it all in, I'll do a condensed (it'll be somewhat long y'all) post covering it all.

I got to travel to Boston to attend the UXPA Boston's annual Usability Conference on May 15th. Since Jeff and I had never been to Boston and it has 2 of our favorite breweries - Sam Adams and Harpoon, he came up to meet me the night of my conference and we stayed the weekend to take in the sights. He was also excited about the Freedom Trail and hoping to learn some history by walking the path of people long gone, I was looking forward to this too.

First things first, I've attended a couple local Usability conferences and one UXPA national conference in Baltimore. I have to say the Boston one blew everything else out of the park. In one day, I listened to a lot of talented and educated individuals who had put in a lot of thought to where our industry is heading and what's the best way to not only stay afloat in it but to be ahead of the game.

Second, the breweries. OMG, the breweries. We not only visited the 2 we'd intended to, we found a local microbrewery where we ended up having dinner twice in our trip and enjoyed their beer - Boston Beer Works. I did some research beforehand and found that Harpoon was having a beer festival on that Saturday, where we met up with a friend of mine from an online mommy group and her husband. It was awesome, because we've now made a lifetime friend with a weird accent ;-).

We also made it to a 10 a.m. tour at Sam Adams which was awesome - a hilarious guide, good beer, before noon ... what else can you ask for?

 Last, but not the least, history! I was at best a C, maybe B- student in history but I love going places where history is laid in the stone walkways, where history is set in the brick houses, were you can breathe it in while walking through the houses ... and we did all that. 2.5 miles of self guided walking tour. What was even more awesome is that they had this brick inlaid into the ground that took you through the entire tour. It was even painted onto the metal grate we had to walk across the river on.

I almost forgot the food ... oh my goodness I had a lobster roll and it was to die for. Seriously, the food everywhere was absolutely amazing.

Friday, April 25, 2014

So proud of my baby

who would yell and say he's not a baby anymore! With all the tribulations of having a threenager whose mood swings from maniacally ecstatic to the heart-wrenching wailing (no cause needed) is physically tiring, I really need to remember to document all the good days we have with Oli. He's really such a good boy, most of his tantrums are at dropping play and eating dinner. However, I bet our neighbors think we are strangling his favorite pet right in front of his eyes, if they were to analyze the echoes of cries seeping underneath our entrance door into the hallways.

I said I'd focus on the good.

We watched a precious 2.5 year old for our friends Gill & Gina a few days ago. Dale is so cute and Oli is a big fan of "baby Dale." So much so that after an initial meltdown, that probably resulted from me feeding Dale and ignoring Oli, Oli followed Dale around all evening. If Dale was on the ground, Oli was on the ground. If Dale was playing Alphabet games on his iPad, Oli was doing the same. Aren't they just adorable together?
This was their favorite position
I think they are on eTrade

Another event where Oliver just totally stole my heart by being on his best behavior. We took him to the zoo last Sunday. I had him in the Ergo, on my back and it was perfect. The weather was nice, the animals were out. He asked me once that he wanted to walk and I explained that by being on my back, he could see all the animals easier. 3 times when he spied the carousel, he said he wanted to go on it, and I told him as soon as we'd seen the animals and were ready for lunch, he could get on the carousel. The kid didn't argue even once. I expected a tantrum at least about the carousel and definitely by the third time, but no, he said "ok," and we walked on by. He said he was tired after we saw the elephants and it was close to his lunch time, so I asked if he wanted to go eat. He said "First I want the carousel, then I will be tired." LOL I love him!

Here's a photo of us with the cheetah:

Out of the mouths of babes ...

Even though I posted some of these on Facebook, I want to keep a stabler record of things Oli's said that just amazes us and sometimes brings us to laughter.

Oli's eating a rare Happy Meal and they gave him 2 apple bags. I put his burger, fries and 1 bag of apple son his plate. He asked for the second and I said, if you finish everything else, you can have the second bag of apples. After 5 minutes, he asks for the apples and I asked him if his plate was empty.

He says, " It's empty," pauses and then says "of apples!!!"

Another dinner time. He's eating his and asking me for candy. I told him he could have a piece after he finished his dinner. After a while, he says that he's too full. I asked him if there was any room in his belly and he said no. So I said, "well, then there's no room in your belly for candy." He pointed to his chest and said that there was a little room there. when I told him to fill it with food, he replied vehemently, "but, mom, that's only room for a piece of candy!!!"

We asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. At first he didn't understand me, so I said well your mommy and daddy work on computers, your mausi is a doctor, your dadu and bua are scientists, what do you want to do when you are big like us?

His response? "I want to work in the building where you go to after you drop me off at school."

Yay, I'll be changing his diaper way into his adulthood ...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Our time

Weekend mornings are ours - Oli and mine (95% of the time). He starts stirring and I'll go into his room. He very cutely will ask me to snuggle with him for a few minutes (in those exact words). snuggling seems to be his favorite thing. I hope he keeps wanting to snuggle with us for a while.

I am leaving for Denver tomorrow and won't be here for our weekend snuggles while everyone else is still sleeping. I will miss them (though I might be able to steal some snuggles from a 3month old).

He is like me in the morning, up and ready to go as soon as he's awake.

I found these on my phone from a few weeks ago and love his animation, his smile, and you can almost hear his laughter.
Climbing all over mommy
Ahh, too bright, mom
You can see the smile

I love you bugaboo, save some snuggles for when I get back.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snow day injury

This was the first time this winter we needed to dig our cars out. I spent about 45 minutes the first day (Thursday, I think), digging my car out after the first set of snow was done. About 13 inches of snow behind my car, on the sides and atop it. My muscles ached. My right hand hurt from holding the handle. My shoulders screamed form lifting and dumping.

But, that's not what caused an injury.

Then, the ice came. Jeff and I went out Friday and spent an hour and a half (more him than me), and now shoveled heavy ice laden snow. The middle of the road in front of our condo was iced over and I had to cross that, holding the shovel full of snow and ice. Slipped a couple times, doing a weird dance. My hands froze from picking up huge chunks of ice and snow and throwing them to the side.

The shovel gave up it's life but, I didn't hurt myself then.

Then, my parents, Oli and I spent hours Friday buying grocers, 3 stores for tat. Then, I dropped off my parents at DSW to replace my dad's stolen sneakers while I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to replace the broken shovel. I bought 3 (steel tipped, non-steel tipped and one for Oli, of course). Ran through a parking lot with 3 shovels, sloshing through slush.

I might have looked crazy but I didn't get hurt there.

Then, I went back to DSW to see if dad found shoes. I walked in fast, almost running through the aisle, trying to get to the coveted clearance section.

That's when I smacked my right knee into the metal corner of a bench, and hurt myself. Pain this morning from knee to hip.

So, in the middle of crazy snow/ice storms, I get hurt running through a shoe store.

Only me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I shouldn't have written that post

I jinxed us

The very helpful lady at STOP 4 had me fill out the wrong form.
She had me write the wrong amounts on both checks.

The thought of going back there today makes me shudder!

1 day in county makes aneeeeeone crazy (sing to the tune of 1 night in Bangkok)

Not that kind of county.

Is there a poem called "Government, thy name is Bureaucracy ?" No? there ought to be. As many of you know and some might not, we are attempting to build a house in Howard County, MD.

When we started looking, our builder told us the process usually takes a year, 6 months for permits, and 6 months to build. We began in July 2012 .... do you see us in the new house? No? We just got our Site Development Plan (SDP) approved (took 1.5 years, a whole another blog post folks) ... we were told as soon as that's approved, we can submit our building plan. Yippee kai yay! Let's just say I am glad I read the letter that came with the email telling us the SDP was approved.

This letter had the following important things of note:
  • Mentioned a grading permit with a $100 fee that had to be approved before the building permit could be approved. This is NEWS to us.
  • The grading permit needs a surety check of $2400 that we will get back once the County inspects and approves our grading and landscaping 18 months down the road. This is NEWS to us.
  • We need 2 copies of the approved SDP for the grading permit and the building permit.
  • There's a name to contact if we have any questions.
Well, I have questions fo' sho'! So, I call that aforementioned name (I won't mention his name because he was very nice, though not entirely helpful). I ask him the following questions:
  • What is this grading permit now? Answer: "I'm not sure, the permits department deals with that." uh ok, why is your name listed as the person to answer any of my questions? Nevermind, onto the next ...
  • Where do I get copies of the SDP? Answer: "Large format printing."
  • He did very nicely transfer me to the permits folks, where I was told where to find the form for the grading permit.
I print the form out and my eyes start crossing over at things like "how many square feet of soil are you disturbing ..." uhh what? thankfully, somebody was able to provide that answer. Onto the next field "What are you planning to do with the land?" Uhh didn't the SDP show you we are building a house? After a couple calls back to the permits department, I was able to finish the form to the best of my knowledge and ability (whch is to say in this case, maybe a kindergartener). Now, I just have to go in, get copies of our SDP, take that, the form and a check to the permits folks.

Ok, easy enough! I gird my loins, make sure I have my checkbook and firstborn to pay them with, beg/borrow/steal quarters from coworkers so I can park close in the freakin' cold, forewarn Jeff to keep his kidney warm in case of the need for bail money and OFF I go! Skippety-dippety-do!

Enter the labyrinth.Ok, not entirely true, their departments are clearly marked and very bright. I sign in at the guard desk, get directions to the large format print shop and head down. Let's call them my STOP 1. Wonderful, funny guy at STOP 1 tells me I need to go to Customer Service Desk to have my order written up; I ask him where that might be and if that's where I usually pay them with my sweat and tears? He shrugs and says, it's upstairs with desks. Really? Don't all departments get desks? now, I feel bad for all those office folk who have to work without a desk.

I go back upstairs to where I usually write out checks by stabbing my finger and using my blood. Let's call this STOP 2. the lady here is also not knowledgeable as to where their Customer Service Desk is. I mention SDP and her face lights up like a poor kid who's seen Santa for the first time. She points me to the room next door.

So, I make my way to STOP 3. As soon as I mention copies of an SDP, this lady whips out a form and starts filling it out. Bells start ringing, I see angels floating down with harps and bright white diapers ... so I double down and ask her about chicken coops in my backyard. She types on a keyboard, she pulls out a folder, she grabs a page, photocopies it and hands it to me. I kiss her in gratitude.

Ok, I didn't kiss her or I'd be in jail now. So, now I bid farewell to STOP 3 and head over to STOP 2, where I pay. Then I head back down to STOP 1, where the funny guy makes my copies, all the while expressing his amazement that the departments would ask for copies when everything is online. Oh, wait, maybe the title of that poem/book should be "Government, thou hast 2 faces - Bureaucracy & Redundancy!"

Now, I take my copies and head back upstairs to a brand new place filled with sunshine. This is the department that handles permits, let's call them STOP 4. A lady helps me immediately. She tells me to write a check for $105 (not what the letter stated) and mentions that we probably don't have a surety. I show her the letter and state I'd rather sell my limbs and give her the $2400 than have my permits delayed any longer. She folds up 2 copies of my SDP, attaches my 2 checks to them, looks at my form and hands me another form to fill out that has the same information on it and a couple extra fields. Upon questioning if this is a new version of the form I downloaded from their site, I am informed that no, this is a form that another group needs. Apparently, sharing forms is frowned upon. You don't know what you could catch. So, I fill out this new form, once again encountering some alien language asking me how far are wetlands and perennial streams from our land ... I look at her confused. She tells me I have to take all of this back to STOP 3 and they'll help me fill it out. I walk on back to STOP 3, where the same nice lady from before helps me, but she doesn't know the alien language either. She calls on another person who looks at the SDP and tells me to put N/A. I hope he was right. They sign the papers and I walk back to STOP 4, hand everything over and am assured this should be done in a week.

And I walked outside to see pigs flying and leprechauns dancing over pots of gold. Or, it was hallucinations caused by being inside that building for 45 minutes.

Folks, this was 1 day, out of the last 1.5 years, in the life of dealing with this county for permits to build our house. We are coming up on 2 years soon enough with no end in sight. And I've had to give up sugar and alcohol through this ordeal. Is there no end also to the torture life will throw at me?

Oh, btw, yes, we can have 8 chickens in our backyard!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

1 week and a potluck down

First week of elimination diet down! Only some unintended cheating (tasting while cooking for Oli and Jeff) and 1 intentional cheating at a potluck (1 small potato latke and 1 spoonful of noodle kugel); I would say it's been a successful week. Wish I could say progress in terms of weight lost too, but remember how I was made to put my best friend away? So, I won't know if this is making any change in the digits till Thursday.

But, I will tell you I am proud of myself and would pat myself on the back if I could without hurting myself. I sat at a potluck and watched folks eat, while I drank water for 4 hours!!! I didn't know I had that kind of willpower inside me. I went, totally expecting to cheat on the diet and regretting it in the morning. Like so many of those college mornings .. uhh what? Forget I said that.

Have you been to a potluck? Nobody brings healthy, green vegetables, with protein dips made with PB2 powder and face cream cheese that's fluffy and has negative calories. No, the tables are laden with yummy, good smelling, hearty, comfort foods ... mmmm. And I consider it a big step towards a healthy and right choices future if I was able to get through a potluck without shoving my face into the whole container of latkes. Now, I won't be this restricted forever, but for the 7th day of the diet, I really wanted to be good and I was. I stayed on the wagon ... only leaned over to lick the wheel a couple times.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Weighing on my mind

How often do you weigh yourself? Who cares. I do it daily. That;s how I stay sane. For some, it's a curse but for me, the not weighing myself daily in the past has led to some serious lack in judgment and a serious gain in pounds. So, when the nutritionist said to not weigh myself for a week ... you cannot imagine my trepidation. What? I am supposed to wake, brush my teeth, get dressed ... while the scale looks at me from the corner. Beckons me to tap it's sleek glass face, wait for the 0.00 to flash and then step on it, then wait with bated breath to see if a smile will light up my face or tears will slowly drip down my eyes.

How am I supposed to give that up for an entire week?!?!? I need the daily cry, I mean check in to keep myself on track. To keep the momentum going with the eating right and exercising and all that good stuff. The scale is the yin to my yang when it comes to my dietary habits. It's the Bonnie to my Clyde ... ok this doesn't work.

It's the scale to my pounds, bottom line. But for now, I've put it away in the bathroom on the other side of the condo, so I'd have to run across our bare living room windows in the morning to get to it to weigh myself. At least today, laziness and lack of pants won over the obsession with the scale. Just need to stay sans pants for a week now. I can do it ...

Don't worry, coworkers, I am not planning to leave the house sans pants. Not yet.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day 4 of the wonderful vegetable diet

yeah, yeah I skipped day 3. There was nothing of note, nothing major, nothing to see.

Shake in the morning, quinoa tabbouleh in the afternoon and veggie juice in the evening.

Flavor is what I miss right now, not sweets, not breads, flavor. Just garlic and lemon is not doing it for me. I seriously hope I can go back to something spicy after all this is done. My taste buds are dying for a hit of habanero, won't somebody hide a jalapeno pepper inside a shank and deliver it to me?

The tabbouleh wasn't too bad, it was actually delicious and I think I"ll keep the recipe for a side salad with dinners. Parsley, mint, cucumber, celery, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper ginger, all chopped up together into a nice salad. Add cooked quinoa enjoy.

Now, the veggie juice, not so much.Once again, some of the same things, cucumber, celery, spinach, mint and water. My Vitamix couldn't even take the grittiness out of it. So, it's ok and I pour it down my gullet like Drano going down your kitchen sink.

That's what's for lunch today too, I'm enjoying it as I type this out. YES I SAID ENJOYING! If I don't convince y'all it's enjoyable, how am I going to delude myself? But, I have something to look forward to tonight!!! Chicken fajita salad. Yummy cabbage, onions, cooked with garlic, cumin, served with chicken. Over greens for me, without salsa (SOB). In tortillas for the boys.

I think the best part about this is that the dinners are mostly edible by Jeff and Oli as well. Except for the juice, they outright said no to that.

What? I sound a little bipolar in this post? YOU WOULD BE PSYCHOTIC if you had to give up your hot sauces too. Or something you love as much as I love my hot sauces. Like your first born. Or something.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Day 2: a bit better

Yes, I am going to talk about this everyday. I'm going through it, I don't have the option to ignore it. You can NOT read the posts.

Wait, am I already getting nasty? Am I on edge? Nah, not yet. These headaches are starting to get old though. They start about mid day and don't go away till I go to sleep.

Today started late since it was a holiday; I didn't get my morning shake in till almost 10. Same shake as yesterday, veggies, almond milk, spirulina. I didn't finish that till almost 12, so I didn't have any lunch.

Snack was almond butter with some veggies.

Dinner was another great recipe that even Jeff loved. It was rainbow trout baked with just some fresh lemon. Served on greens with some unsweetened coconut flakes and macadamia nuts. It also had some homemade basil pesto on top that was delicious. Steamed broccoli was there too, except I used my steamer for the first time and I overcooked them, but the mush was yummy.

I made shepherd's pie for Jeff and Oli, I took a couple bites and it took great self control not to eat a whole bowlful of it.

It's not hard or easy, it's just different. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day 1

It's the 1st day of the rest of my life ... isn't that what they say? Well, everyday is the 1st day of the rest of our lives, but this is the first day of mine on the new restrictive diet. Now, the word diet gets a lot of bad media, and it really shouldn't. By definition, a diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. So, I am not following a vegan diet, or a 4:3 diet (whatever that might be), or the Southbeach diet. I am following my nutritionist's diet plan. So, as of today, these are my rules:

Now, I know when I looked at the rules at first, I was horrified. WHAT CAN I EAT? But, then I got my first week's meal plan and I feel better. There are so many fresh veggies and meat options that I am not sure I'll feel too limited. 

Today, I started the morning with a veggie shake full of green veggies that took me 2 hrs to finish the serving suggested. By then, it was almost time for my huge salad for lunch that had avocados, pecans, a bunch of fresh crisp veggies with a fresh lemon lime dressing. And dinner tonight is lemon rosemary chicken with roasted asparagus. Whats good about the plan is that most dinners are things Jeff and Oli will eat too. 

I even have allowances for snacks but I haven't felt hungry today. It might be first day nerves, and I might be chewing on my desk later this week. Who knows. But, I am hoping a first day great beginning signals a good run for this. I really want to figure out what foods are fighting my body. 

But, just in case you notice corners of my cube walls bitten off ... it won't be the mice.

1st dental appointment!

& he was a champ! 20 great looking teeth, a lightly smaller jaw than the teeth need (might need braces sometime in the future), and a pleasantly surprised dentist ... that's what we came away with from Oli's first dental appointment. He was such a trooper, he did everything the dentist said, he even asked the dentist questions about the equipment, and demanded his toy prize at the end.

Suggestion for parents before their toddler's first visit, based on what we did:
  • take him to a visit for your appointment; we took Oli to Jeff's appointment a few days prior and it helped
  • talk to him about what the dentist will do - count your teeth, brush them, wash your mouth out etc. 
  • promise him a sticker or a small gift at the end, it's surprising how much my kid is motivated by the thought of a prize, even if it's a sticker
Here are some photos of Oli at the dentist:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Taking charge of my health

Once again, I find myself fighting my own body. 1200 calorie diet? check. Crazy workout classes? check. Go to the gym everyday? check. Lose weight? hahahahahaha. No, instead I gained weight the last few months. Now, I am no saint, I drink beer, I eta chocolates. But, I did all that within my calorie constraints, most of the time. There might have been 1 bad day per 2 weeks. I don't think that deserves a weight gain of 20 lbs, do you?

So, tired of fighting my own body, I am consulting an expert. A nutritionist who deals with health issues that are a direct result of your diet. So, she starts you off with a clean diet - no dairy, no gluten, no caffeine, no sugar, no alcohol, no soda, no a bunch of other things. I don't have my plan yet but I decided to start it off myself. Since, I don't want my body to go into super shock on the 18th when I actually begin it.
  • Last Friday, I went off caffeine cold turkey, no coffee, no tea, no soda. You don't realize how dependent you have become on something till you give it up. And, till you get stabbing pains behind your eye, like some tiny ice pick being jammed into your brain matter. 
  • Now that I am over that, today I am giving up straight sugars. So, candy, chocolate, etc. Not the hidden ones yet, I need to learn how to read labels first. I froze all my favorite See's chocolates that I brought back from CA. To be opened sometime this summer mmmm.
  • Next will be dairy, starting tomorrow. I say tomorrow because I already had cheese on my breakfast sandwich this morning. And, that's pretty much all the dairy I eat besides the creamer for my coffee. And I already gave that up. I don't like milk or yogurt. And I eat 1/4 cup of ice cream every 4-5 months.
So, by the time the nutritionist sends me the meal plan and my grocery list, I think gluten will be the major thing to give up. I was so sure that would be easy, in my head I thought oh I can give up pasta and bread. I don't eat much of it anyways. Then, I happened to read the label on my soy sauce ... gluten. So, remembering to read every label and finding the hidden gluten will be hard.

Oh, and I think the red meat will be hard too. I like my beef y'all. I could have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So, my apologies if I am a raging wildebeest (which I just found out is a gnu, so where did this phrase originate from but I digress) the week of January 19. It's all for better health and finding out which foods are affecting my body negatively.

It better not be beef.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

How to have the worst vacation ever

Please take this with a grain of salt. This was our experience but after the amalgamation of everything that happened, please don't blame us for never, ever, EVER wanting to go on vacation again.

  • book flights through credit card points since well 2 FREE FLIGHTS? WHO'D be crazy not to? Have the airline change the flight schedule half a dozen times. Because you love surprises.
  • have the airline (coughcoughUNITEDcoughcough) switch you from your direct return flight to a red eye layover. Because that's what parents with a 3 year old want to do. Not on yours? Well, seriously, it was on my bucket list. So, thanks. Thankfully, they changed that without charging us, but that meant flying back from SFO at 6:25 a.m. Which meant waking up at 3 am.
  • build up meeting his cousin so much (who he hasn't seen in 2 years), that when that cousin doesn't want to play with your child, your child cries everyday on vacation. Christmas vacation. Your 3 year old sad cries everyday for EIGHT STRAIGHT DAYS because he doesn't get why his 2 months older cousin won't play with him. Totally your fault.
  • get a weird cough and runny nose ... no fever, just a constant cough and runny nose in 81 degree weather.
  • then attend a series of Indian wedding ceremonies where you did not prepare your husband for the fact that printed times on invites mean nothing. Everything runs on "ho jayega" time. You who need to understand will understand that.
  • have your rental car break down on the freeway and spend 3 hrs getting the replacement car. 
  • which then leads to the kid missing his nap which nobody but you know is a precedent to ... an evening full of tears and sadness. And then the child might cry too ;-)
Don't get me wrong, there were moments of non-despair. Our sedan ride from home to the airport and back was on time and helpful. We took Oli to Disneyland and he had an absolutely wonderful time. My cousins, who are so much older at late teens and older, took him under their wings and just became toddlers along with him. He got all the Darth Vader related gifts he could have wished for. His aunt, his CA  nanu, nani, his mamus, even their  friends ....  everyone spoiled him.

But, overall, this was easily the most tiring and emotionally rollercoastering vacation ever. I'm scared of planning another one on one hand; on another hand, I want to plan the next one so we can overlay this one.