9 Minutes

A friend recently posted an image on Facebook about how to be a better parent and it included the tip that there are nine minutes of the day that have the most impact on children: the three minutes after waking up, the three minutes when they return home from school, and the last three minutes before they go to sleep. I can’t find any articles that support this from a science or psychology perspective (just other blog posts), but I think it is sage advice that not only applies to parenting but relationships as well.

Have you ever answered your partner’s phone call with a perfunctory “what” or “yes”? Or as soon as your partner walks in the door asked them to immediately take care of a chore, like take out the trash, empty the cat’s litter box, or deal with the kids, instead of simply saying hello? Me. I am guilty of this.

When I saw that Facebook post about those nine important minutes, I decided to implement this not only with my children, but with my husband, and my co-workers as well. At work this translates to saying hi before launching into a rant, being deliberately pleasant at the beginning and end of the work day, and ending the week with positive words. At home this means I don’t disappear as soon as my husband gets home even though my inclination is to let him deal with the kids, who are inevitably cranky in the witching hour that is 5-7 p.m. This means saying goodnight, even if he’s working late and I’m feeling too lazy to leave our bed to climb a single flight of stairs to give him a kiss. In other words, I’m just trying to be a better human.

And with the kids, I’m trying to be more present, especially at bedtime. I’m trying not to rush through stories and songs and snuggles even though there are dishes and laundry and thoughtless reality TV shows calling my name. I’m not usually home when they wake up, or when Future President gets home from school, so I’m focusing my efforts on bedtime. I think it’s making a difference.

Happy Friday, friends.




Yesterday as I drove home, I calculated whether I could take some more Tylenol as soon as I arrived, or whether I would have to wait for another hour or two. I had to wait, so I made supper for the kids and counted down the minutes until I could get a tiny little bit of relief from my neck pain and headache.

I looked at the calendar while warming up the kids’ leftover pizza, and I realized in the next month I have four doctors appointments. I feel like this has been the story of my life. Besides chronic pain, I have a number of other medical issues, and one of them includes getting hearing aids in April.

But life goes on, despite the pain. Some days I feel like I am just barely making it, and look forward to the kids’ bedtime, when I can stretch out on the couch, my head tilted to the left in the only stretch that gets my spasming muscle to relax.

Living with chronic pain is a daily battle, but I’ve found that if I look for outlets that make me happy and fit into my crazy work/parenting schedule, I have some distractions that keep my mind off the pain. For me, it’s reading, watching Top Chef and Project Runway, and most recently, telling everyone I know about EVER.

My friend Sarah introduced me to EVER, and at first I was dubious. I am always, always skeptical of multi-level marketing, but because Sarah is an intelligent woman, a mom, and a physician, I gave her products a second look. Then she sent me samples, and that was it. I was all in.

At first, I signed up to sell EVER just to get the discounts offered to “specialists,” but then I decided to try my hand at selling it. And while I acknowledge that it is indeed a multi-level marketing company, I also am 100% behind the product I’m selling. Right now, I’m using the face wash and exfoliating peel pads and my skin already feels amazing. Next, I’ll buy the overnight facial oil and eye wrinkle smoother as those were two products Sarah let me sample that seriously made a difference in just a couple of uses.

I set up a Facebook Group called Baked Tofu & a Beauty Routine where I plan to post about the nutritarian lifestyle I’ve fully embraced, as well as EVER. Let me know if you have any questions about plant-based eating, or the EVER products, and I’ll be happy to answer them!

We Forgot the Mommy

“We forgot the mommy,” Aaron said, as he wheeled the Playmobil cable car down towards the control booth. “Peter, fix it!” He yelled, moving on from remembering the mommy as the cable car careened and flew towards the plastic figures in the booth.

But I didn’t move on.

I feel forgotten when I do four loads of laundry and fold them in neat piles on our bed and there they sit, waiting for someone to put them away. Eventually it will be me.

I feel forgotten when I make two separate meals, one for the kids, and one for us, and the kids barely touch theirs, even though that meal means I haven’t sat down since walking in the door two hours ago.

I feel forgotten when I can’t – or won’t – tell my husband how bad my headaches are, and I suffer in silence, taking one pill and then another, until I reach a breaking point and can no longer function. I feel forgotten until I say screw it to the anti-inflammatory diet I’ve been on for 6 months and stuff my kid’s uneaten pancakes in my mouth and my husband is shocked. I haven’t eaten gluten in months and will pay for it later, but this is my little rebellion.

I feel forgotten until the tears come, and they finally notice how tired I am and how much I hurt.

“Let’s go back up to get the mommy,” Aaron says after Peter repairs the cable car.

“Thank you for the delicious dinner,” my husband says, and gives me a hug.

They notice me, I know they do. We are trying our best, most days. And we are all just making it up as we go along.

Get Thee Behind Me, Anxiety


From Sapling Press

On Monday, at a still unspecified time of day, I’m having surgery. I am nervous. I am nervous, despite the fact that I trust my doctor, have had many, many surgeries in the past, and have a support system to help with my recovery. Another thing I’m nervous about: what I’m going to eat afterward, when I’m dizzy and nauseous. On my meal plan, I don’t eat bread and I don’t eat many carbs. I remember previous recoveries where the only thing I wanted to eat was buttered toast. Will cucumbers, apple slices, hard boiled eggs, and tofu have the same calming effect on my stomach? If not, I suppose there is always steel cut oatmeal.

I’m having surgery to restore hearing in my left ear, a procedure I desperately want to work. There is only a 60-70% success rate, but my doctor thinks it’s worth it because I am “young” (her words!) and because of how successful the first ear surgeries I had, she is very optimistic this one will work too.

Have I mentioned I work in a library and teach? Hearing loss makes both jobs difficult because I can’t hear people speaking from 10 or 20 feet away in a large classroom, nor can I hear people speaking close to me if they are on my left side. The hearing loss is so profound that when I’m sleeping on my right side, with my deaf ear up, I can’t hear my kids or husband talking to me, no matter how close they are. If the bathtub is running, or the washing machine filling, I can’t hear doors opening, or the fall of footsteps coming towards me.

I’ve been told that for two weeks after surgery, I should not sneeze, exercise, fly, or lift anything heavy, including my 3-year old. Based on past experience, recovery from ear surgery is terrible: last time, I was so dizzy, I couldn’t even watch TV. I’m planning to listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts while I recover, so I welcome your recommendations!

So anyway, this is a long way of saying that I welcome your good thoughts and prayers on Monday. I hope this surgery is successful, and that I can calm these nervous thoughts.

“Because Santa!”

Last night the boys tried on their Halloween costumes and when A noticed that P’s costume included nunchucks and a sword, he decided he needed a weapon of his own. Tasked with finding the sword that came with last year’s pirate costume, P came back with a magic wand. A’s enthusiasm at receiving this magic wand/sword was contagious. He flung the wand around as the boys ran around the house yelling, “Abracadabra, you’re a frog!” But P wasn’t having any of it. “No, you can’t turn me into a frog, I’m already a ninja,” he yelled back, and swung his plastic nunchucks in the air.

I almost booked a trip to Disneyland right then and there because my boys are ALL IN with make believe and magic. I’m already sad thinking about the day P realizes the tooth fairy is Mom and Dad.

A few months ago, P asked me if reindeers were real. Yes, I told him, remember when we saw the baby reindeer in person a few Christmases ago? “Nevermind,” he replied. “Of course they’re real. Because Santa!” Sound logic.

Sometimes P even uses his magnificent logic skills for more practical purposes. He brought home from school an optional worksheet and was struggling to sound out some of the more difficult words on the quiz section. He could read two of the multiple choice options, but not the third. Sound it out, I encouraged. “Actually I don’t need to, Mommy,” he told me. “The other two aren’t the right answers, so it has to be this one.” *Insert head desk emoji here.*

When my husband came home, I relayed the story to him. He beamed, so proud, and seemed to imagine P’s future to include high grades on standardized tests. I can get on board with that, because even though I was terrible at standardized tests, I still believe in magic.

Week in Review

My in-laws have been out of town on vacation and in the past week, we’ve realized we rely on them way more than we ever realized. They take P to school and pick him up every day, which is a huge help and we don’t have to send him to before or after-school care. It also means we can leave for work whenever we need to, which especially matters when you have court and a class to teach.

Anyway, we’ve survived with the help of friends and my mom, who arrived at our house at zero dark thirty on Thursday so G could make it to court an hour away. I was long gone by then as I leave the house at 5:45. V picked P up on Monday, he went to after-school care on Tuesday, and went home with the Fs on Wednesday and Thursday, and W took him to school twice. It seriously takes a village!

I took Friday off and enjoyed a coffee date with some friends and we took the kids to the park to enjoy what I assume is the last of the good weather this fall. A has given up napping (at least for me) and while I was exhausted after multiple nights up with him trying to get him to sleep in his toddler bed, we all managed to make it through the afternoon running errands and going to swimming lessons without naps.

Tonight we went to a Lego build event at our local Barnes & Noble. The boys loved it and I loved it because it was free.

I have a side job I’m doing for a couple weeks after the kids are asleep, so instead of reading or watching TV like I normally do on Saturday night, I’m planning to work for a few hours. But $ is $, and I have my eye on a Vitamix. (Hint, hint Santa!)

Weight loss update: -23 pounds! Yay me!

Eat to Live 5-Day Food Diary

What does a nutritarian eat? I decided to keep a food diary for a few days to give readers a sense of what my food choices entail, and the results were not surprising, at least to me. My food is very, very boring, and I repeat meals constantly. In the last few months, I’ve found favorite food combinations and have stuck to those, mostly because the meals listed below are not complicated, don’t have a lot of ingredients, and don’t take a lot of energy. However, some of these meals take over an hour to make, simply because of the time required to bake zucchini, tofu, sweet potatoes, etc. in the oven.

As you can see, I can’t live without baked tofu, no-oil peanut sauce, eggs, coconut water, frozen bananas, and quinoa.

Day One

  • Breakfast: coffee sweetened with honey; banana; hard boiled egg
  • Lunch: sweet potato and lentil soup; apple slices
  • Dinner: salad with mixed greens, cucumber, avocado, sunflower seeds, and craisins topped with pico de gallo; fried rice made with mushrooms, broccoli, tofu, peas, eggs, and leftover brown rice; and roasted sweet potato slices seasoned with no-salt seasoning, baked on parchment paper at 415 degrees for 45 minutes and flipped once

Day Two

  • Breakfast: coffee sweetened with honey and milk; hard boiled egg; fruit smoothie made with coconut water, frozen banana, and frozen berries
  • Lunch: salad with mixed greens, black and kidney beans, olives, topped with corn salsa; baked tofu topped with peanut sauce
  • Dinner: popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast; apples and peanut butter

Day Three

  • Breakfast: coffee sweetened with honey and milk
  • Brunch: Super Antioxidant Salad at Cheesecake Factory (dressing on the side)
  • Dinner: leftover tofu water sautéed with zucchini and mushrooms, served with quinoa and peanut sauce; salad with mixed greens, grapes, cucumber, Honeycrisp apples, and slivered almonds

Day Four

  • Breakfast: smoothie made with coconut water, frozen banana, frozen cherries, and frozen peaches; hard boiled egg
  • Lunch: salad with mixed greens, grapes, and cucumber; apple and peanut butter
  • Dinner: salad with mixed greens, grapes, cucumber, and slivered almonds; roasted sweet potato slices; baked tofu

Day Five

  • Breakfast: black coffee; smoothie made with coconut water, frozen banana, and frozen mixed berries
  • Lunch: Baja Fresh salad made with lettuce, tomatoes, and black beans (it also had small amounts of cheese and tortilla chip pieces, but since it was free at work, I didn’t care); carrots and hummus
  • Dinner: quinoa bowl with water sautéed mushrooms and broccoli, baked tofu, and peanut sauce; salad with butter lettuce, dates, cucumbers, and walnuts

If you’re looking for more creative meal ideas that conform (or mostly conform and easily modified) to the nutritarian food guidelines, check out Hello Nutritarian, Cookie & Kate, Run Fast Eat Slow, Minimalist Baker, the Conscientious Eater, Pinch of Yum, in pursuit of more, Vegan Food by Nina, Naturally Ella, and Love & Lemons.