Monday, December 22, 2014
HmmmÖ I donít really have a whole lot to update on. Iíve been busy, but not in any sort of interesting way. Mostly just preparing for Christmas.
My Elf Poo cookies look cool on the inside too! (I smashed that finger pretty badly, which is why I'm holding the cookie so funny.)
The menu for Christmas dinner is finalized. Iím off the hook for main courses, which I didnít expect, but naturally welcome. My aunt is going to get a pre-cooked turkey and sheís going to take care of the ham. Iíll be doing roasted vegetables, stuffing, gravy, salad, a cruditť tray and a relish tray. Oh, and I believe Iíll be baking an apple pie, since I seem to have the hang of it. I figured if I was going to chop some vegetables, I may as well do ALL the vegetables! My cousin is also taking on a few dishes for us. Sheíll be doing mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Iím looking forward to it, really. I love eating delicious food and laughing until my sides hurt with my family!
As for Christmas gifts, my immediate family does a Secret Santa with a dollar limit on the gifts. Iím pretty relieved and grateful for that because I really donít like getting a bunch of ďstuffĒ. I mean, my list included a new pair of slippers, which I ask for every year because I wear out a pair every year, and batteries for my heart rate monitor. Stuff I want and need at the same time. Totally fine with me! And everyone else, too. I should probably go buy the gift(s) since itís only 3 days before Christmas.
The Secret Santa also makes me feel better about buying, or not, into the consumerism that gets associated with Christmas. While my family does struggle to make ends meet sometimes, there was a long period of time not too far in the past where our situation was so very much worse. We didnít have any money for presents or decorations or anything youíd associate with the holiday. Heck, one year we had this large orange traffic cone (donít ask!!!) and we found a string of lights that still worked that were packed away in some random box, and that was our Christmas tree. We didnít exchange gifts that year, or for a few years after. It definitely put into perspective what Christmas was about. For us, it wasnít getting a shiny new something for our present. What we missed most for those few years was having a fun activity to do on Christmas morning that was also an expression of love and generosity. Opening gifts is fun. Giving gifts is fun, loving, and generous. Spending the morning together eating breakfast, drinking coffee, giving and opening gifts, and oohing & ahing over someoneís new whateverÖ that was important. The experience of the fun, sometimes traditional, activities we did together as a loving family was important. Without that, Christmas just felt like any other day of the year and that was very depressing for all of us, even if we believe in presence vs. presents. So, I have to get off my butt and go buy my Secret Santa gift!!! Canít participate in that bit of fun without an actual thing to unwrap!
I also finally convinced my grandmother to get a fake tree this year. As sheís gotten older, itís been more and more difficult for her to get a real tree, get it to her house, and set it up. By having a fake tree, sheís eliminated 2 of the 3 steps. I went to her house on Saturday and helped her set it up. Itís a pretty cool tree, too. Very nice looking, already has lights on it, and the stand rotates (fancy!). That should help reduce her Christmas stress significantly. While I was at her house, I helped myself to a few fresh figs straight off her tree! It made for a delicious breakfast. And then I picked about a million Meyer lemons off of her tree since it was practically bursting with fruit! I hope my mom makes me some delicious Meyer lemon bars with the juice. Itís funny, my grandma has both these trees in her yard, but she doesnít actually like figs or Meyer lemons. So, she gives away most of the fruit. Hahahaha!
Iím still working on my Jumpstart January 31 Day something or other calendar. Itís a lot harder than it sounds. You think you have all these great ideas for 1 day challenges and then you write them down. Then you see youíve only written down 10 things and you have 21 more ideas you need to come up with! Iíve got around 15 or 16 done, so I still have half a month of things to think of. Because itís also for church members, there is a religious element that runs through several of my challenges. A few examples:
January 2- Can you add more vegetables to your meals today? Start at breakfast with some peppers and tomatoes inside an omelet or make a green smoothie with spinach! Get at least 3 servings of vegetables in today- 1 serving is one cup of veggies- like a big bowl of salad with lunch or a heaping side of steamed vegetables with dinner.
January 6- Ladies, come to Iron Man Womenís Bible Study for the first meeting of 2015! In addition to starting the study, itís my birthday, so weíll be celebrating and getting ready to dive into whatever it is God has in store for our study this year! Gentlemen, take this time while the ladies are away to spend some time in the Bible, either by yourself or with your kids.
January 9- Weíve made it to Friday. Itís been a long, busy week. Give yourself 5 minutes to stretch out your muscles and relax a little. There are lots of YouTube videos that do short stretching routines if you need a guided stretch. (My favorite is ďYoga For Bed with Tara StilesĒ)
January 16- Is there a new healthy recipe you saw somewhere that youíve been wanting to try? (On Pinterest, in a magazine, online in an article) Why not try it today? Make it, post a picture of it on Facebook or Instagram, and share the recipe with your fellow Nutrition & Health* ministry Jumpstarters!
*Not the name of my ministryÖ I just havenít figured out a name yet.
So, thatís pretty much it for me in a nutshell. I havenít made any headway on the doctor bill thing, so therefore I donít have any lab work to tell me what may or may not be going on with me. I will just keep truckiní along in the meantime. If I donít get the chance to before then, I hope those who celebrate have a Merry Christmas and those who donít have a Happy Holiday!
Obligatory brat, I mean cat, photo:
I decided not to put ornaments on the tree this year. Kyle is pretty much the sole reason.
Monday, December 15, 2014
HmmmÖ I was going to try to start blogging with a little more frequency. So far, not so good! Hahahaha! Oh, well. Iíve kept myself a bit busy, too, so itís okay.
On Tuesday or Wednesday of last week, I did a house cleaning that was long overdue. All by myself, of course. I scrubbed my bathroom so ridiculously thoroughly I would have eaten off of any surface in there! Then I tackled the kitchen and got that cleaned up. Then, I tidied up the living room, including washing the couch cover, assembled my Christmas tree, and swept & mopped every sweepable & moppable floor in the entire house. Then, I vacuumed the floor in the ďspareĒ room and washed the sheets on the bed. We were having an overnight guest that night and I didnít want him to think we all lived like a bunch of slobs in a dog-piss smelling house. That last part is a whole other story for another day when Iím feeling angryÖ Anyway, it was nice to have a clean, pleasant smelling home that I didnít have to be embarrassed about. Plus, no one else has been stepping up to do housework, so it was up to me to be the adult. As usual.
The day before this massive cleaning, my mom and I made about 72 tamales with the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. I was bright enough to throw the leftover meat in the freezer, so we had plenty! We get prepared masa at a local store here, so I didnít do that myself. I mixed some salsa verde into the meat, and sliced up some potatoes & jalapenos, and added an unpitted green olive to each tamale. They turned out so delicious! I could eat them for days.
On Friday, the ladies from my Bible Study organized a cookie swap. It was so super fun! Iíd never been to a swap before, so it took some Googling to get the details down. About 7 or 8 of us showed up, with a family or two in tow, and had a great night! We ate pizza, drank hot cocoa, nibbled on cookies, and just enjoyed the night and each otherís company. We told hilarious stories and laughed until we couldnít breathe. It was a great way to spend a Friday night. And we had lot of delicious cookies to take home! I made Elf Poo cookiesÖ I even sorta healthified them a little bit. Swapped some of the flour for white whole wheat flour, swapped some sugar for honey, and swapped some butter for canola oil. Iím sure all the sugary fun I jammed on top totally negated all my efforts, though! Hahaha! Oh, well, I tried! They were super delicious and they looked exactly how I wanted them to. Totally awesome!
My dadís birthday was Friday, but we celebrated on Saturday. I marinated my own carne asada for California burritos. If you donít know what a Cali burrito is, itís a carne asada burrito with French fries in it. It is ridiculously delicious. I am a HUGE fan of carne asada fries, so itís basically those wrapped in a tortilla. Anyway, I marinated my meat in orange, lemon, and lime juice with some olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. I usually use apple cider vinegar for this, but I didnít have any. Itís common here to use tequila or beer in the marinade, but I donít keep alcohol in the house. I seasoned the marinade with black pepper, New Mexico chili powder, cilantro, onions and garlic. I sliced a lemon, lime, and orange and layered it between the meat and poured over the marinade. Sit that in the fridge for 24 hours and voila! It was so tender and delicious. French fries (we baked ours), fresh tortillas, shredded Monterey jack cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa rounded out the burritos. We also got my dad a tablet for his birthday. He isnít much of a computer guy, but he uses his phone a lot to browse the web and listen to music. Unfortunately, his phone has a tiny screen, so the tablet is a welcome change. He can the words on the screen! He was very excited to get the tablet.
Plans for Christmas are underway in my household. We do a Secret Santa in my family, so weíre working on getting that organized. Iíll be helping cook dinner with my aunt on Christmas. Iím doling out a few of the dishes for other people to do. My cousin has already offered to do pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes. Iíll probably be doing the turkey and stuffing. Maybe apple pie. My aunt can probably do dinner rolls and the veggie tray. Should be good. We donít usually do a traditional type dinner for Christmas, but I think weíre all lazy and weíll be short on time/manpower, so weíre going with what we know this time.
And yesterday was awesome! My mom came to church with me. That was awesome. And ďJill Jr.Ē made her first appearance at church since she was born! I was so excited when I saw her dad standing at the back of the room. Her actual name is Elka Nayeli and she is so tiny! She is so so precious. Her mom looked great, too, and I was so happy to see her. She even brought me some fresh radishes from her garden! It was so awesome to see them all. Today is also the 1st birthday of my Ďnephewí Max. I am so grateful that he is big and healthy. He was born a month early and had to stay in the hospital for two weeks. He even received a blood transfusion about a month after he was born. Heís a perfect, happy, healthy little boy now!
So, Iíll wrap this up with a few ideas Iíve been tossing around my head. Since Iím in charge of the Health & Nutrition Ministry, I need to come up with a clever name for it. Health & Nutrition just sounds too generic. I also want to design a t-shirt. And I want to make a January Jump Start type challenge for every day in January for the people that want to participate in it. There is a 5k on January 31st that a bunch of us at church did last year, and are planning to do this year, so I think a challenge leading up to the 5k would be really cool. Simple things, tooÖ like a short workout each day or a food challenge or something. Anyway, itís a few fun thoughts. I hope you all had a great weekend!
Kyle is exhausting.
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
... because it's like 80 degrees. I hate living in the desert.
Well, my December so far has been pretty uneventful, which is the complete and total opposite of my November!
Once Thanksgiving wrapped up, things calmed down for me. In a way itís been nice, but I definitely like keeping busy. Itís been nice to have that distraction from the health issues I seem to be dealing with.
First, thereís the fatigue. Iím tired ALL THE TIME. Inexplicably tired, too, as Iím getting a full nightís sleep. I may not be sleeping continuously through the night, but the hours add up to between 7-8, which is my bodyís ideal. I can take a nap in the middle of the day and still go to bed at my usual time and sleep more. That is not usual for me. Usually I take a nap during the day and it disrupts my sleep at night. So, it does feel like something is up.
Hunger and cravings seem to be more out of control than usual. I thought at first I was boredom eating, but when I started paying attention, I realized I was feeling hungry even if I really, truly wasnít (such as eating after a meal). Iím an emotional eater and emotional binge eater, through and through. This feels different. Iím certainly experiencing significantly less stress than I was when I was taking and struggling through my classes. Iíve processed the majority of my grief for my grandmother. Things are finally moving forward with the car insuranceÖ all thatís basically left to do is hunt down a ďnewĒ car! Yay! And as far as Iím aware, there isnít much going on with church this month that will require any extra of my time. So, I guess what Iím saying is, I have no emotional ďcrisisĒ or extremes to be eating over. And with how busy Iíd been I wasnít boredom eating, either. Why my appetite seems to be out of control is a mystery at this point.
Finally, and perhaps the most unsettling, is the sudden weight gain. It was an abnormally high amount in a very small amount of time. And this was when I was still actively walking with my friends 2-4 times per week (and hitting the treadmill a few days between). I shouldnít have gained weight at that time. And I definitely shouldnít have gained as much as I did.
All of this leads up to the concern that my thyroid is malfunctioning, which is possible as thyroid issues run in my family, or prediabetes has nestled itself into my system. Diabetes also runs in my family. I have lab orders from my doctor to get both of those looked at. There is also the possibilities of lingering depression and, yes, even some stress that comes on naturally from life in general (and the holidays). It just seems like once I dropped my chemistry class and anato/physio class, my life got significantly lighter. My depression seemed like it was lifted and my stress level dropped so far so fast, it practically made a hole in the floor! SoÖ medicallyÖ
The problem is last year around September/October, someone in their office screwed up. I remember what happened, too. The insurance that I had at the time went from being a state run program to a federally run program, so I was sent a new insurance card. Well, itís not like I go to the doctor every month, so my brain didnít know for sure, but the next time I went in, I told the gal at the front desk that I believed I had not used my new card there yet and handed it to her. She looked at it and said, ďNo we already have this one on file. I think that one is just for your prescriptions.Ē She handed the card back to me without looking at my file or making a copy of it. Since it had been a while, I assumed she was right. Maybe I had been there and used that card. Well, come to find out that was incorrect! The office kept trying to bill the wrong insurance and of course was being rejected. I didnít know about it until I went to the doc this last time and was told I had a balanceÖ $200+!!!! I was stunned. Excuse me?! I had insurance and my visit was most definitely covered! Unfortunately, now that insurance I had doesnít exist anymore, so I canít even contact them to give the correct information to the staff at the office. And since I havenít had that insurance in more than a year (I canceled it shortly after that October 2013 visit) I canít find that insurance card. Iím guessing I threw it away or shredded it, thinking I wouldnít need it anymore. And, of course, I have no way of proving this, so Iím on the hook for a $200 mistake that someone else made. And Iím unemployed, so where am I going to get that?! The lab wonít do my bloodwork until that balance is settled. So, here I sit, potentially with a serious health problem festering away, and I donít get to know it because someone else was an idiot and Iím poor.
I know that regardless of the outcome of my bloodwork, the best thing I can do is to keep eating healthy and exercising. The problem is the fatigue makes me soooooooooooooo tired, I canít even imagine getting on the treadmill for even 5 minutes. My cravings and hunger issues at this point are a matter of willpower to overcome and when youíre tired all the time, willpower is hard to come by. Plus it messes with your body chemistry in ways that I barely understand. That was a topic that was likely covered in anato/physio after I left!
None of this is meant to sound like Iím in a total funk and depressed, even though it does appear that way. Iím actually mentally feeling great! Iíve got my loving furballs to snuggle with (one of my favorite things in the world!) and lots of fun, carefree activities coming up. My ladiesí Bible study is doing a cookie exchange that Iím SUPER excited about! I canít wait to tell you about my cookies. Thatís going to be another blog though Ďcuz there will HAVE to be a photograph accompanying it! My aunt and I are getting Christmas plans finalized for our family dinner. My immediate family is already getting stuff ready for our gift exchange. Weíve decorated the house with lights and a wreath on the door. We just need to get our tree put together and decorated. Iím really in an more-than-okay place right now. My health issues are a great concern to me, but otherwise, Iím occupied by all the love Iím surrounded by.
And Iím off to make tamales out of the leftover turkey we froze! YES!!!
Obligatory cat picture:
Louis was giving me a claw-ful shoulder massage. I also got my hair cut that day, so he was checking it out like a shoulder parrot. I'm growing my hair out, which is why it doesn't look like I got anything done to it.
Cranberry apple pie filling on the stove. The secret to a good, mushy pie filling? Cook it first. And slice your apples really, really, REALLY thin.
The done pies! Crapple (cranberry apple), regular apple, and pumpkin were the ones I made. Not bad for someone that can't bake! And my mom made the chocolate pecan. Because I don't like pecan pie... like a mouthful of snot with some crunchy nuts sprinkled on.
Monday, December 01, 2014
I think I had a mega blonde moment last night and failed to do my thankful! Crazy!
Day 29- Friends
I really am thankful for my friends, including my SparkFriends. I try to be very careful about the people that are in my life. I don't always succeed at that... (see jerkface from this time last year) but I do make an attempt to keep worthwhile people around. I was lucky enough years ago to go to the very first SparkPeople convention held in San Diego. There was a motivational speaker there that said to eliminate toxic people from your life. Many people in the audience had an issue with cutting out people in their lives, no matter how toxic, because they were family members or long-term friends. It took a while for me to accept that people I love who are toxic are not worth being in my life. They don't love me back in a way that is healthy.
Since then, I've loved reconnecting with old friends, even if it is briefly. I've loved making new friends. I've loved rekindling old friendships for more long-running time periods. Having a social network of friends, both in real life and on social media platforms has been crucial to my mental well-being. I couldn't be more thankful for my friends, including YOU!
Church friends! (Family really)
Way back to my high school days. I think I was a sophomore or junior here! And I still keep in touch with the majority of people in this photo.
Day 30- SparkPeople
Of course, I am very thankful to SparkPeople. I may not have had the long-term results I've wanted in regards to my weight or fitness level/activities- partly my fault and partly health issues. I may be almost right back to where I started in January 2008. But, the support and resources I find at Spark make sure I am constantly headed in a forward direction, no matter how many steps I take backward at times. With the encouragement of the coaches and friends here on Spark, I am always trying to improve, trying to be at my healthiest. Sometimes there isn't much more I can do than try. But, no one is asking for anything more than that, including myself. So, yes, I am thankful to Spark People.
San Diego Spark Team goes paddleboarding (what I wouldn't give to be that weight again!)
San Diego Spark Team ladies at Iron Girl last year. Can I just say how bummed I am that there isn't an Iron Girl this year?!?!
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Day 28- Unexpected Pleasant Surprises
The last few days have had some unexpected pleasant things come about. For example, on Wednesday, we'd finally gotten word about the pile of unsafe crap I'm forced to drive. (The Abominable Death Trap, as I formally titled it.) So, we were pretty sure we weren't going to be getting anything for it by either insurance company. The dude that hit us mom's insurance denied the claim since the kid was technically not on the policy. We figured that would happen, but it took them 3 1/2 months to conclude that, which meant we were literally unable to do anything about/with/for the car until they made a decision. It was a long time to wait and very frustrating. Anyway, now that they've made that decision, we can move forward. So, our insurance sent out a guy to take a look at the Abdominal (heehee) Death Trap and gave us a decision on what they'll pay out. My mom and I had made bets: I was like $50. Mom was like $100. We both lost. By A LOT. A shocking lot. But, good, it'll make for a pretty okay down payment on something that is not so unsafe.
Also, my old friend from high school was in town for Thanksgiving! I didn't know he was actually here until Tuesday, so I was able to see him today. It's funny, we actually went to prom together. He was a junior and I was a senior. We went strictly as friends (I am certainly not his type... mostly because I'm not the "correct" gender for him! ;-D) and had a blast! When he graduated high school, it was like he literally dropped off the planet. He resurfaced and we've been Facebook buddies for a few years. Funny how I still didn't know he was going to be in town! Anyway, this afternoon we got to have a raspado and chit chat for a bit and catch up as much as possible. It was a nice surprise!
So, I'm thankful for the pleasant things that happen oh so unexpectedly!
Post-raspados with my two other crazy friends!
Flashback Friday! AJ and I at prom. I sewed my own dress that year. And there is actually blue dye streaked in my hair to match.
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