quarantinis: 1 part vitamin sea

We found our house five years ago when we expanded our search radius on a popular real estate website. Instantly, we loved our home but the beach town community is really what drove our decision. Because both my husband and I grew up in landlocked states, it never really dawned on us that we could live within walking distance of the ocean. To me, that was reserved for vacation rentals and hotels — to him, it was just something you might read about.

Nearly five years ago, we moved into our home; we spend much of the summer at our town’s various beaches but that’s not all — 4 and I go to the beach every few weeks to run around. It’s easy to toss on rain boots and head down to the wide open space and it’s a great place to let the dog and older two play as well. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the area surrounding our beaches has been slammed — everyone is walking and trying to enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve had.

I get it.

In the meantime, we have spent our days walking laps around the school. Each day, I walk the dog about three miles — that’s roughly 10 laps around the school for those of you counting at home. It’s a real thrill. The last two days, however, I was able to get down to the beach and breathe in the calming vitamin sea.

The weather turned from sunny and nice to breezy and dreary — this was my chance and I made it down two consecutive days. It was a much needed break from school laps and my neighborhood, where it feels like we pace the streets. The sky was gloomy, but Bru and I were able to log five miles through the breaks in the rain.

The break to the beach was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits and I’m hoping that with the rain in the upcoming forecast, we can get all of us down there for a little frolicking in the sand. This served as a really great reminder that having the beach as a backyard really can make a difference in the day-to-day happenings of life.

 

quarantinis: 1 part planning

I will admit that my drinking has definitely increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. I typically have a glass of wine every month or two but have been having a few glasses a week. Thank goodness for our wine tour trip we take in December with my friends — we are well stocked for a few weeks.

It’s not all wine and dog walks though — last night, my husband and I had what was probably the most serious conversation of our relationship. It was about what we do if 4 gets sick — what is our course of action? 4 is medically complex on paper with a slew of respiratory diagnoses; in person, you’d never know but doctors and hospitals wouldn’t be able to view our busy boy and instead would need to rely on his medical records which are not particularly encouraging when we are both reading about respirator shortages and how other countries’ doctors have had to decide what to do and who to save.

Needless to say, it was a heavy conversation but we have a couple of plans in place. This made us both feel a little bit better. We are now on day 15 of being quarantined; my husband hasn’t been at work since March 3. Wild times. Still, we are optimistic — schedules have changed but our security has not. We are thankful for this because sometimes that’s all we can really point to for relief.

In other news, I figured I’d share some random musings and goals I’m setting for the next week or two:

  1. I am really happy I married my husband. Despite being cooped up in the house, we are calm and sane and he doesn’t get on my nerves.
  2. Every night, I’ve eaten a cheese tray. I love night snacking and it’s not a habit I’m likely to break; so, I think I’m going to try to switch to smoothies or fruit.
  3. In my mind, I’m the next Bob Vila. I am convinced I can lay new flooring in my bedroom. My husband is suspect of my skills but I used 7th and 8th grade metal and wood shop projects on my resume. (See #1 — the feeling may not be mutual.)
  4. I keep finding all kinds of clothes and handbags and shoes that I love online but am actually not ordering them all because I am not sure when I’ll be able to leave my house and I oddly am not trying to impress anyone at Whole Foods.
  5. My husband and I got an old school Nintendo, thinking it would be something fun to do at night. We are both terrible at it and lost interest almost immediately.
  6. Bath bombs/salts are really undervalued.
  7. My brain has been too bogged down with thoughts to focus on reading, which has been frustrating but I felt like I could write today so there’s hope!
  8. We bought 4 a two-wheel bike and are hoping that he will be a riding pro by the time the quarantine is over.

I am thankful for the outlet of writing and it’s really nice to be able to string some thoughts together today. My goal is to get back into my swing of writing because it’s always been something I so very enjoy.

I hope everyone out there is staying safe and healthy!

winter reads

A lot of my winter reads had to do with health and nutrition. I did a lot of reading in the car on the way to/from DC over Christmas and then read some more when we got back home. My semester has been underway since mid-January, so the reading tapered off then but because I am only taking one class, I still tried to keep pace of reading two books a month. With the in-place quarantine, I am hoping to read more but this first week has not really allowed as much as I’d hoped for…

Brutus’s Adventures in Petlandia

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Okay, so this isn’t really a reading book; it’s a picture book that my husband had made for me about my best furry friend, Brutus. It charts his adventures as he makes it big in Hollywood and honestly, this is one of the coolest gift I’ve ever received.

Do Less by Kate Northrup

Do Less - by Kate Northrup (Paperback)

This was a pretty quick read that also included activities. The experiments around listening to your body and discovering what’s important are two things I do regularly but it’s always nice to be reminded. Otherwise, I found the cycle elements/connections a bit out of my interest range.

Forks over Knives by Alona Pulde, MD & Matthew Lederman, MD

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I read this, largely aloud to my husband, as we drove to DC the day after Christmas. Each year in January, I like to do a health challenge — this year, I’d like to try vegan living for a month and got my husband on board. This book offers a four-week plan to transition and gives a lot of information. In reading this, I realized that I don’t have a ton of changes. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes — there are recipes in the book too but I mostly appreciated the suggestions on how to integrate a more plant-based diet into life and the effects that can have on health.

Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals by Pam Anderson

Cook without a book meatless meals recipes and techniques for parttime and fulltime vegetarians Ebook

Okay, this was not written by the Pam Anderson you may be thinking. Sure, this book had a lot of recipes but more importantly, it had a lot of advice on how to cut back on animal consumption, like practicing vegan until 6PM each day or choosing two days a week for only vegetarian meals. I found it helpful and have shared some of the advice with my parents (their PCP has been pushing them to go plant-based for years).

Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD

Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss (Revised Edition)

One interesting piece in this that also was listed in Forks over Knives was that EVOO is not healthy and that adding fat to food really isn’t a healthful idea. Honestly, I had no idea. I’ve always been told that EVOO is a healthy fat but now I’m thinking this is something I want to look into more. Interestingly, this book also debunks the USDA’s food plate for healthy eating — my biggest takeaway is that maybe I should start adding a cold salad to go along with dinner. There were also a lot of recipes and aside from some of the smoothies, nothing really sounded super great to me.

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet

Yes, this is written by the famous Clueless star who used to roll with her homies. Whatever. In this book, Silverstone covers her take on a complete lifestyle change with elements of vulnerability and “slip ups” in an honest and appreciated way. If you’re considering such a change to lifestyle, I recommend this book.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (for Rent) by Gottlieb, Lori 9781328662057 textbook

I found myself very engaged in the characters John and Julie. The chapters on them hit an emotional chord for me unlike the rest of the characters. Lori’s relationship building seemed honest and forthright throughout and I think that perhaps, that’s the biggest takeaway. I found this book to be interesting but heavy and the whole realm of discussing patients made me uneasy. I hate to think of my therapist using my thoughts, experiences, or emotions to further her career in some way.

Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

Unfollow: A Memoir Of Loving And Leaving The Westboro Baptist Church

Wow. There’s so much I learned about how hate is taught/indoctrinated at a young age. I was familiar with funeral protests and the anti-gay stance of the Westboro Baptist Church, but only on a surface level. This book was equal parts eye-opening and horrifying, as it broke down a very rigid and radical set of “Christian” beliefs… This text makes me want to read about the Amish Rumspringa and similar contexts in other religions, though I’m curious of reading those will make me as uneasy as much of this text made me. I was appalled at the behaviors listed and the casualness of it all; still, I would recommend it to those who have an interest in cults or radical religious behaviors.

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence by Gavin DeBecker

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I found this book kind of fascinating — the big thing it really focused on was how our intuition is typically a series of cognitive observations, ever so slight ones at times, and that is precisely why we should “trust our gut.” The text was loaded with examples and explanations of how fear can drive thought and behavior and how when really breaking down what we’ve seen, we are able to make the best possible choices. I think this is something that everyone could benefit from reading but as a woman, I am particularly appreciative of the insights.

How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to

A lot of this book repeated what I read in Forks & Knives. This book was really informative and I marked several pages/chapters for my husband to read. I appreciate how it broke down many ailments people suffer from and listed the best ways to combat them. I was particularly interested in Alzheimer’s Disease because it is what took the life of my grandmother; also, high blood pressure and heart disease because of my husband’s family history. There is a lot of information in here but I highly recommend this to anyone looking to take control of personal health.

holding space

I have not made writing nearly the priority it should be this year. My semester is full of research and my “day-job” has been full of meetings, feedback requests, and letters of recommendation. Last week, I even had to return THREE unread library books but I’m planning on grabbing some more next week because I’m traveling for some field work and *should have some time to read.

The last couple of weeks have been a bit much — 13 & 11 came home and shared tales of stories/thoughts their mom had about their dad and me. It was a lot to swallow and honestly, I’ve been processing it rather slowly. Manipulation can be so great that even you start to question what the truth is at times, and fortunately, my friends and my yoga practice help to center me when I need it most.

The last couple of days, I really reflected on all of the people in my life who make time for me and hold space for my family. I am doing field work in VA at the end of the month — I have plans with a handful of friends there for dinners, drinks, yoga, and ‘talking library’. Each of these friends have arranged schedules around mine to visit and each of these friends have rearranged their schedules over the years to hold space and time for my family. These are friends who’ve, without a thought or question, have invited a family of five + dog to stay with them (regardless of home size); and my favorite, friends without children who have spent their days visiting zoos or even time at the Magic Kingdom.

In addition to my friends in DC are my friends from home — people I’ve known my whole life, friends from high school, and my college friends. All of these people make efforts to spend time with us on our visits back to PA. They have invited us to their homes, met us out for dinners, caught us at ballgames, and one college friend even introduced herself to my husband, 13, and 11 at Disney Springs over the summer because she recognized them from pictures.

Lastly are my friends in MA — the people who spend every Thanksgiving and Easter with us, who’ve done so before having children and do so now still; people I’ve met through school and work who check in and ask how everyone is doing, even when the conversation isn’t about our families. These are the people who manage to keep me sane when parts of my world feel like they’re spinning and I am ever so grateful for their grounding nature.

I am so fortunate to have these people in my life and it has me thinking more and more about others who hold space and time and love for not only me, but for my family. Sometimes, life can get busy or hectic or cruel and when those moments happen, it’s nice to be able to sit back and realize that those most important and those whose opinions matter are the ones who continue to hold space.

jan reflections, feb goals

I’ve been pretty pleased with the start of the year. I’m back to my mat, consistently, at home and maintaining my practice in the studio. In fact, this month, I met a goal I’ve been working towards for the last decade. I do not feel extraordinarily proud of many of my accomplishments but this one was a zinger for me and I almost cried when I got myself into crow post at yoga last weekend. Who knows how long it will take me to perfect the pose and do it with consistency but this was proof to me that showing up and prioritizing yoga for the last year truly has made a difference. For February, I want to continue this and support my practice with a little weights and cardio — I am not setting goals around this because 1. it’s not my preferred form of exercise and 2. I don’t want to feel obligated to move in any kind of way; thus, trying to add some different types of exercise 2-3x next month is all I’m really hoping to do.

Veganuary went pretty well for us. I had pizza a couple of times and while we did have those few slip-ups, we were 100% vegetarian for the month. It felt good but I’ve also found myself missing meat at times, so I am not sure how the next month will go. I’m hoping to lessen desserts; they are by far, my biggest weakness and even with the vegan-January, I still managed to consume some. I’ve been enjoying just buying much of the same foods at the store and then varying the spices and cooking methods. It’s required much less planning and has given me what feels like more freedom in the kitchen.

My spring semester has started but another goal for February that I have is to continue reading books that are not school related. I have read a lot about nutrition in the last month but I have a few novels to get through.

Additional goals that I have are to continue with my dog walks: It’s cold and the winter weather makes things a struggle but I do find on the days that I walk the dog in the morning, my day is better and I tend to be more active. The best part, the dog is so excited to get out for the walks that it just makes the day a little brighter.

Overall, the goals are pretty similar as they always are — listen to my body and do things that it responds well to (like more yoga and less sugar). I’m excited to see how February goes, especially with some upcoming travel to look forward to!

veganuary, part 1

So, my husband and I are smack dab in the middle of Veganuary; typically, we start the year doing a Whole30 and I know many who do ‘dry January’. W30 is our usual way to kick off the year by nourishing our body and lessening the sugar intake after the holiday season where my favorite breakfast/lunch/snack/dessert involves my mom’s peanut butter Hershey Kiss cookies. They are amazing.

Usually, by week 2.5, I’ve stopped eating on the W30 because I am not a big meat eater. This year, I’d read about Veganuary and this seemed more up my alley because I love carbs and I love vegetables. So far, it has been great. Unlike W30, if you slip up, you do not have to start from the beginning; with the exception of two incidents (pizza and carrot cake), I have remained 100% vegan.

I am doing a lot of cooking but not any more than usual — one thing that I’ve been more mindful of is lunch. I am typically awful about making and eating lunch. I’ve been doing a lot of pb&j on sprouted bread and also, baked potatoes. They’re not the most exciting lunches but I’m actually eating lunch daily and not waiting until 3PM to do it. I’ve also been having dessert oranges after nearly every meal. It’s my favorite thing about winter — I just love oranges and I have the kids hooked on dessert oranges too.

Dinners feel really nutritious. I’ve been using mirepoix that I buy precut from the grocery store. I NEVER use onions in my cooking because I don’t like them but these are diced in small pieces and I’ve been reading about health benefits, so I’ve been using this in pretty much every meal. The kids don’t seem to notice. I’ve kept at not eating beans more than a couple of times a week; I’ve been trying to keep soy products to once a week; and buns (veggie burgers are delicious) and pasta, once or twice a week; and then soup. It’s a pretty well-balanced offering, I think and isn’t much different than how we’d typically eat except there are is not meat or cheese.

Last weekend, my husband wanted football food for the playoffs. We made our usual lineup of buffalo (chicken-less) dip where we used cashews, artichokes, and hot sauce. I was skeptical but this dip was outstanding and literally tasted like the chicken and cheese laden dip does. SO GOOD. We also made a spinach-artichoke dip; we use the recipe from TrueRoots and just had to make a couple tweaks (almond yogurt; vegan mayo). These dips were fantastic and I think we may make them again this weekend.

So, the food piece has been good. A few other benefits we’ve noticed — better sleep, more energy, less anxiety, and something my husband brought up at dinner tonight: nail health. He’s noticing his recovery time is better and I’m noticing that exercise is easier for me as well.

Overall, we are both pleased with the first half of this month and I’m looking forward to reporting on the second half. I hope it continues just as well.

review of the decade

I hoped to get around to doing this before now but time slipped away. I’ve been doing things that work for me and bring me peace: yoga, vegetable consumption, and dog walks mostly. I haven’t really set aside time to write but I did make a point to add it into my planner this week because it’s also something that I enjoy.

My old neighbor posted this article on Facebook at the beginning of the year: https://www.workingmother.com/christina-fattore-unedited-decade-in-review-twitter-thread?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook  She also added her own decade in review and after much reflection, I wanted to do the same.

My rainbows and sunflowers review would look something like this:

Got Brutus
Moved to Boston
Hired as an English professor
Ran a few half marathons
Started practicing yoga
Traveled the world: China, Vietnam, all through Europe & the US
Got engaged
Got married & gained two bonus kiddos
Bought a house and can now walk to the beach
Grew our family through adoption
Took a sabbatical & started a graduate program (again)
Became a SAHM

My unedited review would be a bit different; of course, it would include all of those things but there are so many events that led up to these, some related and others not:

Devastated by having to end a toxic relationship; sold my share of our house before moving
Burnt out as a high school ELA teacher
Went through infertility & medical interventions: Surgeries, drugs, IVF.
Did not respond well to fertility meds and felt like a shell of my former self
Struggled with extreme anxiety; couldn’t exercise during IVF
Miscarried twice
Collapsed at Epcot (during miscarriage)
Lost two cousins to opioid overdoses
Lost myself and worked hard to find myself after IVF
Dealt with significant anxiety during adoption process
Struggled with identity as SAHM

Everyone acts like going through struggles are necessary to come out on the other side and of course there’s something to that but sometimes, I think it’s okay to acknowledge that what got you to the other side was nonsense and was unnecessary. Either way, I’m here now — mostly thriving — still struggling with the identity/SAHM piece but trips to see friends has definitely helped. To date, I trust my husband with a needle more than any medical professional; he’s given me HUNDREDS of shots over the years and I’m grateful for his patience though we both could have gone without all of the strain on our marriage while trying to grow our family. Still, here I am. Standing. Practicing yoga again. Walking my dog every single day (usually 3-4 times despite having a decent yard), and trying to stay grounded each day.

I really appreciated the piece that everyone sees and internalizes over what the whole reality is. Obviously, those closest to me know all that I’ve experienced over the years and I’m most grateful for those people who have chosen to listen, love, and not judge regardless of my messiness at the time.