salad for breakfast


A few months ago we took F to see a GI specialist. She was having some odd symptoms that we were trying to get to the bottom of, and one of the things that we discussed was briefly eliminating certain foods and then slowly reintroducing them back to her. I’m not going to get into the details here, but the process was really successful for her. I liked her doctor, and during our two visits with her I also briefly discussed some of the more serious issues I had as a child and teenager and younger adult. Turns out that Dr. GI and I lived parallel lives during those years.

I charted F’s food intake for two months (which seemed like an eternity), and I took the spreadsheet with us to one of the appointments. It was seriously the most annoying task I’ve ever done – it doesn’t seem like it should be that hard, but it really was. I would input her school menu and then edit it once I talked to her about what she had actually eaten. I would email M to see what he gave the girls after school. I’d scour back through my menus if I missed a day of recording. I practically threw the chart at the doctor I was so sick of it, but then she looked at it in amazement and gave me a legit mother of the year award, and so my annoyance disappeared. Plus, my kid eats amazing food, so there might have been a little bit of shameless pride there when the doctor wanted to adopt F’s menu as her own. 

To bring this around to me (as if I hadn’t already), I was really interested in the idea of “resetting” my digestive track and the added perks of increased energy and better sleep really got me thinking. We were going into the month of May which I knew would be a crazy-busy month for me, and I was already doing my very best to keep my head above water. I kept to my workout regime even when I was swamped at work. We continued cooking at home, and I tried to stick to a regular bedtime – more reading, less screen time. June was fast approaching with a pretty large work deadline on the horizon, and I knew that it was going to take a lot more effort to keep everything in balance. So I decided that June might be a good time to dive into a low-FODMAP diet for the month as the doctor had recommended. 

This seems counter-intuitive – tackling a big lifestyle change during a busy, stressful time – but for me it made sense. Working longer hours at a higher level of stress would have certainly led to poorer food choices for me. Cutting those options out completely seemed like a way to ensure that I was fighting off stress in every way possible. The girls were out of town with grandparents that last week of May, and so it gave me a few days to do the research and get a plan in place. I opted to do the Whole 30, which is really about the same as the low-FODMAP diet, just marketed better. (I liked the printout formats!) M was on board, and the girls also went along for the ride, although they did not have the full restrictions on them. That meant that I helped make camp lunches and couldn’t lick the peanut butter off the knife (no legumes!), we stopped for ice cream after a hot soccer game and I ate an apple (no dairy!), and I even made two desserts for June office birthdays where I had to farm out the taste testing to family members (no sugar!). 

I shared this eating plan with my immediate family and maybe two other people. We spent the weekend with my family, and I didn’t even mention it. We went out to breakfast one morning, and I ordered eggs and sliced tomatoes while everyone else had pancakes. I missed having a glass of wine while making dinner (no alchohol!), and ordered sparkling water with a lime when dining out with friends. I ordered a salad with oil and vinegar (no pizza!) I lucked out at another dinner party with the menu quite by accident – the food was delicious and compliant! I did miss eating that night’s dessert, and sipping water while others drank cocktails was a bit of a drag. But thirty days isn’t forever, and after about a week I really starting to feel amazing. I was sleeping well, and not dragging at work, even when I was working 50+ hours a week. Two weeks in I upped my caloric content some – I had noticed I was really dropping weight which I was trying not to do. I had more energy on my runs, and my workouts were more enjoyable. Even in the more stressful moments of that month (and there were several), I felt even keeled and calm. It was working.

On July 1st we flew out of town on vacation, and I was done with the thirty days. I still stuck to the premise of eating whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible while we were gone, although I did have a few mojitos and ate some ice cream on the trip. And tacos (welcome back gluten!) But I’ve decided to ditch the oatmeal at breakfast completely; I’ve converted to a breakfast salad eater, with eggs or avocados or some other type of healthy fat. Even at a birthday brunch yesterday with F, I couldn’t bring myself to order crepes, I stuck with two over-medium eggs and some arugula tossed in oil and vinegar. It was delicious. My sweet tooth is in hiding still, although I will still occasionally eat really good ice cream or a slice of dessert in celebration. And fruit is sweet – and really what I crave most days anyway. Choosing to eat this way is certainly a privilege. It’s not inexpensive – processed foods are almost always cheaper. But in thirty days I only ate at a restaurant five times – and those were always necessary because of travel and one dinner date with out of town friends. Not eating out – even those inexpensive treats here and there add up, so that helped to offset my increased produce bill.

I don’t want to give up eating food and enjoying it – but I’m even more convinced to make that a choice for pleasure, not for convenience. 

I’ll be completely honest with you here – I’ve always thought of myself as anti-diet, or at least anti-extreme anything related to food. I’m in camp moderation – eat good food at a reasonable rate and enjoy it. I’m married to someone with an extreme diet – although being a vegetarian doesn’t seem overly radical to me, it’s still means not eating a lot of things. I can appreciate eating very little meat, but I have no desire to eliminate it completely from my own diet. Whole 30 actually forced me to eat more meat, so it’s nice to be able to consume non-meat forms of protein again now that I am done. I missed beans and grains. And pasta. 

Would I recommend this to others? 100% yes. I’d also recommend doing it in the summer first – when produce is in abundance and feels like a treat already. Doing this in January to try and lose weight or break bad holiday habits sounds miserable. I treated it from Day 1 as an opportunity to eat delicious food, not as a restriction of other foods. Days 3-7 sort of suck, but stick it out. By the second week you will feel like you can conquer the world. 

If anything, it’s reinforced my pledge to eat as well as I am able as often as I am able. There are many things that are out of my control, but I can choose how to fuel myself for the ride. If you’ve ever done a similar diet reset, I’d love to hear how it went for you. For someone who puts a lot of effort into preparing and eating good food, I still learned a whole lot about how my body responds to it. 


I cheated on our house.

We went to look at another one this afternoon. Not a curiosity visit to an Open House down the street, but an actual appointment with a realtor for a private showing of a recently listed home.

And now I’m home and feeling really guilty about it. Guilty about entertaining the thought of leaving this house behind. Guilty for walking the girls through another space, through bedrooms that can’t hold a candle to their own.

But here’s the thing. I’m really frustrated right now. We’re in a holding pattern on the house project which feels really crappy, and we don’t have a good idea of what the next few months hold on it. With delays come doubt, and with doubt comes anxiety. Are we even doing the right thing? I’m not sure anymore. I’ve had too much time to think.

So when an offhand comment was made about scrapping the expensive and invasive renovation plans and finding another house that already has the things that we are looking to add to our current house, I initially balked at the idea. No way, not a chance.

But the kernel was there, and the thought didn’t leave. The following day I altered my drive home by a couple of blocks and passed a house that we’d always admired with a newly planted For Sale sign in the front yard. Interesting. I forgot about it for a few days, but then remembered it and looked it up. I sent it to M. I called the realtor. We set a time. We saw it today. I feel so guilty.

We’ve always loved houses, and frequently drive and walk through neighborhoods admiring them, wondering about them, talking about how we’d live in them. We love stumbling upon open houses, we used to frequent them when E was little – kind of our Sunday afternoon “thing”. But it’s been a long time since we’ve done that. We’ve been committed to this place and this street and this neighborhood and this city for seventeen years and counting. We have another fourteen or so years before the youngest is through school and college, and I picture us here for at least that amount of time.

This house we saw is large. It has many of the things we love about our current house as well as many of the things our current house lacks. The rooms are gracious and light filled. There is so much potential. There is no kitchen, which sounds strange, but is really perfect. I don’t like most kitchens, and want to do my own, so I don’t want to pay for a kitchen that I have to rip out. That was the main selling point, and the reason we both agreed to set up the appointment.

We aren’t buying the house.

We saw a hundred red flags that signal a significant amount of money in the near future. The house is priced as if these flags don’t exist, but we both see them. We’re difficult buyers, and I freely admitted that in my initial phone call to the realtor. She agreed, and came to our meeting today with a much lower number as a suggestion. After seeing the house in person, she followed up via text with an even lower suggestion. It’s still overpriced. We’ve looked at too many beautiful homes that have been hacked at by owners and flippers doing shoddy work with no plans. It makes me sad. I want to roll back the clock and start with a blank slate like we did here. It’s why we picked our house. It had good bones, but we had free reign to make it as good as we wanted to, and I think we’ve done that. We’re trying to continue doing that, but it’s taking so long.

I should be patient, but I strayed. My mind moved on, briefly, to a new project. That feeling is intoxicating, and can spiral quickly if not controlled. I just want to work on all the houses, I love them so.

Feeling guilty, feeling stuck. Kind of tricky to navigate on a Saturday night, and thought maybe it would help to write it out.

wednesday morning in the garden

Garden 24

It’s hot this week, and we’re starting to feel it in the early mornings too. I considered skipping this week’s visit after the late night at the Muny the night before, but it’s hard to break a habit once it’s formed. The girls were drowsy, but in good spirits. I promised we’d walk straight to the jumping fountains, and this morning they were all in. It was that warm.

Garden 5

Garden 6

Garden 15

Garden 16

The oranges and yellows and pinks are in full force, but in the shade there are magical things happening. We shadow hopped our way through the place and tried to stay cool.

Garden 19

Garden 4

Garden 3

Garden 9

Garden 26

Garden 23

I’m seeing so many of the flowers that we’ll see in a few weeks when we’re on vacation. It makes me think of the things that I need to do before said vacation, but I try to force those thoughts to the rear for the rest of the walk.

Garden 22

Garden 14

Garden 7

Garden 17

Garden 21

Garden 13

Garden 20

Garden 1

Instead I look for the weirdly beautiful things, buds unfurling, seed pods twirling, leaves that seemed to have been painted by garden fairies in the night. A cardinal plays in the fountains with the girls, hopping one pad in front of them each time. I finally catch him in the frame.

Garden 2

Garden 12

Garden 11

Garden 8

Garden 25

Garden 18

I’m glad we started this longest day of the year here. The garden at its peak is not to be missed.

Garden 10