If a garden grows unblogged . . .

Was chatting with Desmama last weekend (because I get to do that, neener) and she asked if I planted a garden. She said she didn't know since I hadn't blogged about it. SO. Fixing that now!

I did plant a garden, and it's actually growing! Maybe there is something to that whole "not gardening while pregnant" thing. (Sorry, pioneers. I realize you didn't actually have a choice--with regards to gardening or pregnancy.) I'm determined that this year my little spot is not going to be the neglected, overgrown, probably-concealing-plumbing-equipment-somewhere-in-there plot.

But yes, check it out!

spaghetti squash, beets, buttercrunch lettuce, rainbow carrots, and tomatoes
The spaghetti squash is trying to take over the world, Pinky & the Brain-style. And this year I'm actually getting beets bigger than an acorn! The people at Anderson's Seed & Garden told me to work bone meal into the soil at planting time, and I've actually been thinning them like you're supposed to. I'm experimenting with replanting the thinned beets over by the green beans and some of them actually seem like they might recover.

peppers & petunias
I was gifted a big flat of little petunia seedlings and read that they are good for gardens. So I've thrown some in and if nothing else they are pretty. 

more carrots, green beans, sugar snap peas

pickling cucumber & dill
 Check it out! The dill came up this year! I shall be a pickling goddess!

butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash

baby pumpkins, sugar pie pumpkins, corn

cantaloupe, trying to not get smothered
I'm going to be scientific and keep a tally this year of how many zucchini I get from my two plants. I'm up to 7, starting last week. Need to start making friends with my Zucchini board on Pinterest. I was out weeding a few days ago when my neighbor (GH's great aunt) called out to see if I had any zucchini yet.

Me, while standing up: "Yep, just got 4 yesterday!"

Great-aunt: "Oh, that's too bad."

I turned around to see that she had her arms full of them. To be helpful, I took two and made Whole Wheat Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread. Because I'm a giver. I baked it in my mother-in-law's oven so I wouldn't have to heat my kitchen up. This has actually helped me to eat better: "There's a Ghirardelli brownie mix right here, but . . . I'd have to turn the oven on. Ugh, never mind, I'll just eat this carrot."


Because my brain is too damaged from the heat

There is no air conditioning in my house and I forgot to leave the bay windows open last night so it was already like 76 degrees in the living room when I got up.

I'm sure the pioneers are shedding a tear for me right now.

The only way we can get the boys to sleep at night is to prop fans up in (probably dangerous) positions on furniture so a breeze reaches them. And then I retreat to my room with the running window AC unit and feel all kinds of guilty. I'm pretty sure someone with a Mother Heart would let the kids have the air conditioning.

Let's hear all your favorite places to get out of the heat, preferably ones that would work with an infant and a toddler! (Please don't say the pool. Because that sounds like work.)

Here are the ideas I already have:

My bedroom
The library
My mother-in-law's house

Aaaaaand those are all of them. 


Update #5: The fruit of my loins

The super villains are doing fine. Please indulge me while I record a few things about them, since this is basically the only place I'll be doing that.

The No-Longer-Tiny Dark Lord

TDL and his great-Grammy

Jim Gaffigan says, "The person who came up with the term "terrible twos" must have felt really foolish after their kid turned three." TDL decided to skip the terrible twos and instead hit three with a vengeance. Let's just say there have been a lot of feelings. 

During Loki's 6-month check-up I asked the pediatrician what to do about TDL. He was having constant meltdowns and was cranky a lot of the time (thank you, nap, for abandoning me). Her response? "Preschool." Which is funny, because I used to think, "Why would I ever want to send my precious, precious baby to school? It's expensive and also I just want to keep him here with me and love him always." Yeah, this year killed that. Someone please take him so he can yell at you instead of me for a couple of hours. 

So. Preschool. I've got that locked down for fall. We start paying for it about the time we get to stop buying baby formula, so I will still feel like I'm coming out ahead!

I don't mean to make it out that he's terrible all the time, because he can actually be so incredibly sweet. When he's not being, you know, the other thing. And the meltdowns have gotten better too.

He loves numbers and letters and music. And in the last couple of months he started reading. So that's been fun. He still quivers and shakes when he gets excited. He started Sunbeams this year and loves it. Also he's kind of starting to have a sense of humor. It's just too bad it's the kind of humor that involves adding the word of "poop" to things. 

The first (and last) time TDL agreed to get in a cart with Loki
Still will have nothing to do with Loki. It's not that he is mean or tries to hurt him, he just doesn't see what the point of him is. He ignores him completely, and moves away if Loki gets close. A few weeks ago TDL kept opening the front door during a big rain storm and I finally went over to tell him to stop, only to find that he'd set Loki's bumpo seat and several of his baby books and toys out on the front porch. In the rain. Also he told his Primary teachers that he does not in fact have a baby brother.


I basically cannot even deal with how precious Loki is. He just turned 9 months old and is sitting up, scooting backwards, and cutting his two bottom teeth. He's been taking his time with the physical milestones--except for smiling and laughing. He had those down early. This boy is a little ray of angel sunshine. He loves everyone and everything.

There's actually not that much to report on him, other than that he's awesome. And if I'd known I could make such gorgeous babies I would have sold some eggs or something to put myself through college. I could have made millions.

 Millions, I tell you.


Doing the Fast Metabolism Diet

So a few of you have expressed interest in checking out the diet/eating plan I used to lose my baby weight. It's  The Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomroy. I wanted to throw out a bit more information in case it might be useful!

The idea is that you follow this for 4 weeks to get your metabolism back on track, and then keep going for as many more weeks as it takes to reach your goal weight.

Let me get this out of the way first. You can expect to lose between half a pound to a pound a day from the first day you start this. No lie. That is what (usually) gave me the willpower to just stick to the eating plan--knowing that in the morning when I stepped on the scale I will have lost weight.

For each phase there is a master foods list of all the vegetables, grains, fruits, proteins, fats, and condiments that are allowed in each phase, along with the recommended exercise. You use that to pick things you like and plan your menus. The book also gives you portion sizes depending on how much weight you want to lose. If you want to lose more than 20 pounds, your portions actually need to be bigger.

This is what a week looks like:

Phase 1 (Mondays and Tuesdays) Unwind Stress and Calm the Adrenals
High glycemic (fruits and grains), moderate protein, low fat

Grains don't include refined sugars, wheat, or corn. Oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa are fine, as are pastas and breads if they are made with alternative grains. (My mom had to tell me that "sprouted bread" means that Ezekiel bread in the freezer section.)

The point of this phase is to persuade your body that it's no longer in an emergency "fat-storing" situation and to level your blood sugar.

Phase 2 (Wednesdays and Thursdays) Unlock Stored Fat and Build Muscle
High protein, high vegetable, low carbs, low fat (ie, the hard one. But it's just 2 days!)

The point of this phase is to push your metabolism to build muscle and burn fats.

Phase 3 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) Unleash the Burn
High healthy fat, moderate carbs, moderate protein, low glycemic fruit

This is the phase where you are burning stored fat.

Here is what I ended up eating a lot:

Phase 1: Old-fashioned oatmeal w/blueberries and cinnamon (and sometimes some unsweeted applesauce to make it a little sweeter)
Phase 2: Egg white omelets with spinach, mushrooms, and sometimes bell peppers
Phase 3: Nut butter and blueberries on toast or fried egg & tomato on toast

Phase 1: Open faced turkey or roast beef sandwiches or turkey chili (recipe in the book)
Phase 2: Lettuce wraps with roast beef, mushrooms, and peppers inside
Phase 3: Turkey chili w/avocado, lettuce wraps w/deli meat and hummus, or sprouted wheat wraps.

Dinners (modified for each phase): fajitas, spaghetti over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash, chicken bratwurst, lean hamburgers, shish kabobs, petite sirloin steak, sweet potatoes, burritos with ground beef or turkey and vegetarian re-fried beans, lots and lots of zucchini

Snacks (morning, afternoon, and sometimes evening):
Phase 1: Fruit
Phase 2: Lunch meat dipped in mustard
Phase 3: Celery w/nut butter or veggies w/hummus

So . . . now for the advice stuff.

Planning: Doing this takes a lot of planning. Take some time to read the book, to plan your menus and go grocery shopping and maybe eat any desserts you really wanted to fit in before you cut out sugar.
I created a Google Docs spreadsheet (I love me a Google Docs spreadsheet) with a table for each week. I entered in all the meals and snacks I had planned. Having the whole week planned out made it much easier to stick to the eating plan.

Groceries, Buying of: Eating "clean" the way Pomroy recommends (raw nut butters, nitrate-free meats, sprouted grain breads, tons of vegetables and fruit, etc.) can get expensive. I wasn't familiar with some of these items and ended up spending a lot on groceries. If I'd spent more time looking around and comparing prices, I could have spent less. So maybe do some price-checking at your grocery store, the health food/organic store, Costco/Sam's, maybe even Amazon for non-perishables before you start spending money.

Example: Raw almond butter at my local health food store was $18. Then last Saturday I snuck into Trader Joe's during a SLC trip and saw Trader Joe's brand raw almond butter for $6.99. There's also the option of making it yourself, which requires a food processor and a pound of raw almonds ($6 or less).

One smart thing I did was buy single servings of raw almond butter, raw cashew butter, and raw pecan butter at Natural Grocer. That way I could be sure I liked something before I went out and bought (or made) a 16 oz jar.

Another way to keep the grocery bill in control is to check out your weekly grocery store sales on Grocery Smarts before you plan your week's meals. So you'll know who's having a great sale on steaks or strawberries or bell peppers. I've been taking advantage of BBQ season sales on things like steak, lean hamburger patties, and chicken brats.

Cooking for other people: You don't really need to cook separate dinners for the other people in your family. They can eat the same thing you are eating, but they might add cheese or sour cream or a hamburger bun or flour tortilla, etc. Fact: GH lost about 10 pounds at the same time that I was doing this. He wasn't doing anything different, all we can figure is that it must have come from eating the dinners I was making. Or he has a tapeworm.

Slip-ups: Of course there were days where stuff happened and I just didn't stick to it. And there were days when I couldn't resist a bite of ______. The "just a bite" didn't seem to really affect things too much. And, actually, just a bite was usually really satisfying. But more than that and I'd start feeling gross, and the next morning on  the scale I'd see that I didn't lose anything, or that I'd gained something back.

Eating Out: It's hard when you're not eating at home. It's really hard for me to stick with it when I'm at a restaurant or a party. Once when we had Sunday dinner at my in-law's I ate my meal before I went over. She understood and wasn't offended. But it's so hard for me to be surrounded by dinner rolls and desserts and all this stuff without trying some--and then trying some more. So that's where the willpower has to come in.

Let's see, other things:

Get on Pinterest. There are loads of pins with recipes designated as "Phase 1," "Phase 2," etc. This can help when you're in a meal planning rut.

Stevia is allowed as a sweetener, but I wouldn't bother. That mess is disgusting. Like sweet baby powder straight from a sweaty butt-crack disgusting.

Mustard is just about the only condiment you can use, so treat yo'self to a kind you like.

If you have a grill, this is the time to use it. I ate shish kabobs at least once a week.

Turning zucchinis into spaghetti noodles? Surprisingly good.

Baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon on them? Tastes like dessert.

Good luck, you will be amazing!


Update #4: Passport

Remember the tax return and me trying to get a passport? Despite the best (read: worst) efforts of the people at Sam's Club's photo department, I did get it. See how pretty?

Picture inside? Not so pretty.

And then, miracle of miracles, the stars (and the ticket prices, and the childcare options) aligned enough for us to use them.

I'm going to LONDON!!!

(Like, the REAL one, not one of the fake ones in Ohio or Texas. The actual actual London. With the Queen and English chocolate and cheeses and Benedict Cumberbatch.)

GH and I leave in September, the day after my 35th birthday. (Also, 35? Seriously? How did that even happen??? Well, there's no better place to celebrate turning the age of Olde than in London, I'm sure.) My mother, who shall be counted among the angels, is coming down to Utah in September to visit the forthcoming heir of Coolboy and his wife. I caught her in a weak moment and she agreed to extend her trip and stay at my house to watch Loki and the Dark Lord for a week.

She is the best, all glory be upon her.

This trip is basically all I eat, sleep, and breathe at the moment. I've created the Google Doc Budget Spreadsheet and the Google Doc England Itinerary. I spent days looking at apartments on Roomorama. My Pinterest boards are going crazy with walking tours and yarn stores and food markets, oh my!

GH, who is (understatement) a Beatles fan, is the reason we are spending a couple days in Liverpool.

It's been fun researching a city I don't know and figuring out all the fun things to do there. Including, of course, a guided Beatles tour.

Also? The thought of a 10-hour transatlantic flight without children seems like the very height of decadent living to me. I will be able to read! Or knit! Or knit while---sorry, whilst reading! I can eat foods while they are still warm! I can take naps! Nobody will talk to me or ask me things! I will (let's hope) not get other people's pee or poop or vomit or milk on my clothes! And just to add to the awesome, I booked with British Airways, like I'm Kate Winslet or someone.

I am so, so, so excited. 

Aw yeah. Pretty much the same thing as a day spa.


Update #3: Weight Loss for the Win!

Please forgive this post if this isn't the kind of thing you care to read. (But come on, if you've stuck it out through Butthole Therapists and Bladder Spasms then clearly you have an amazing tolerance level.)

Yesterday I hit my post-baby weight loss goal. Since January I've lost 22 pounds. And I kind of can't believe it happened. I did something that required self-control! About food! Which is not something I am known for!!

After the Dark Lord was born, I got back down in the pre-baby-ish neighborhood without too much effort. But then I think my metabolism decided to stop enabling my bad habits. (Oh, 30s. Between the crapped-out metabolism, back pains, and white hair and also white eyebrows I'm not even kidding, you are such a gem.)

So by the time I got pregnant with Loki, I was already at least 10 pounds overweight. And then during the pregnancy those 10 pounds each found a friend and that's what I was left to work with.

I lost the first 10 pounds tracking my calories with the My Fitness Pal app, but then I just hit a wall and wasn't making any progress.

I read about the Fast Metabolism Diet, checked out the book from the library, and started it last month. That's how the next 12 pounds came off, and I really recommend it if anyone's interested.

You eat lots of food, but you cut out sugar, wheat flour, dairy, corn, and drink a crapload of water. (And then when you break and eat two three cupcakes at a child's birthday party your system just might revolt and make you violently, violently ill. Heads up there.) I did have some weekends (and, you know, longer weekends) in there when I just gave it up because of restaurants or events or parties. ("Hey, it's my sister's wedding! Let's eat all the things!") So then it would take a couple of days to get back on track.

Ready for pictures because that's the kind of post this is?

December 29th

June 26th

I feel great, not only because it's really nice to be able to wear all my clothes again, but because my body just feels good with all this actual good real food in it. Here's hoping I can remember that feeling so it can help me curb my, ahem, tendencies moving forward.

Ok. Thanks for bearing with me. Y'all are the best!


Update #2: My Welsh Love

Oh yeah, this happened:

I met Ioan Gruffudd and he put his arm around me and we took a picture together. It was brief, but it happened.

GH was at the Comic-Con FanXperience in SLC this spring, because that is where the attractive (and some not-so-) nerds go. I drove down to SLC with the kids to meet up with Jenny and her kids. We checked out the Natural History Museum of Utah, including its special exhibit on chocolate (read: why we were really there).

After the museum, GH snuck me into the Salt Palace with an extra press pass and I that is how I got to meet one of my favorite imaginary boyfriends ever. (Check my archives for proof. I mention him at least 20+ times. Like here. And here.)

Le sigh . . .

Ioan winked at me while I was waiting to see him and I swear I stopped breathing. And then he called Loki "a little beauty" which, true, and also just look at how much we have in common, we both think Loki is beautiful . . . ahem.

Many thanks again to my good husband for sponsoring this special moment. I promise that if I ever meet Natalie Portman I will hang on to her for dear life until you can get there. Let's hope she's not litigious. Or a biter. 

Other Comic-Con moments, all of which were lost on the Tiny Dark Lord:

He was too afraid of Olaf to even get in the picture.

A tiny Tardis! Precious . . .

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