Let’s Have a Heart-to-Heart

So, I know that it seems like every month is “[Fill in the blank] Awareness Month,” including a certain day where you’re supposed to wear a certain color to show your support of that cause. To me, those are always annoying, even if it’s a cause that I do care about. I’m’a wear whatever color I want to, okay? So I’m not going to do that, but I am going to bring attention to the fact that February has been decided as American Heart Month, and while you could  wear red on Friday the 5th, you really don’t have to as far as I am concerned.

Via

What I  do want to see is heart health become a cause that people show as much passion for as breast cancer awareness. We all know that in October you buy pink spatulas to raise money for research and that you’re supposed to feel up your boobs for abnormal lumps.Because breast cancer awareness became such a thing, early detection is on the rise, and the survival rate for stages 1-3 is incredibly high. That’s amazing! So now my wish is for us as a society to focus on what’s beneath those boobies, because that is where the news is not so good  awful.

Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 women in America. That makes it the number one killer of women, more than all cancers combined.

I want to use my blog as a platform to talk about this because this means that it is very likely that at least a few women you know will die from heart disease or stroke. I’m sorry if that’s a little morbid, but it’s a reality we cannot ignore. It hits very close to home for me, because I have several risk factors, including chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) and a father who died young of a massive heart attack. I take medication to manage my blood pressure, but I know that I could be doing more to keep my heart healthy.

I can’t exactly be preachy here, because I need to get my ass off the couch just as badly as the next person. And since I’m pregnant, now is not exactly the time to begin some intense work out routine. What I AM doing is making a focused effort to include more short walks in my day. My fitbit helps to remind me that I need more steps, and so sometimes at work I will take an extra walk around campus to just get some fresh air and get some extra steps. And really, it’s the little things — taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing jumping jacks and squats during the commercials of your favorite show–  the little things that add up in your day. And when I think about how making these activities a habit can add years to my life, well, it’s a no-brainer to me. I want to be around to see as much as possible of my soon-to-be son.

So what I ask of you, you who may be reading this blog, is to look for something that you can incorporate into your daily life to help keep your heart healthy. Taking your dog for a longer walk, riding your bike somewhere, doing lunges while watching tv, dancing around your house while you clean, shoveling snow, hell, even having sex are all good for you. Don’t be afraid to check your blood pressure– remember, data is better than being in the dark. Maybe what I am asking of you is not as sexy at groping our boobs to prevent breast cancer, but remember that there is so much that we can do to change the rate at which heart disease kills women.

 

I Eat Sushi While Pregnant.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: sushi is fucking delicious.

sushi

It’s also full of protein, which I am struggling to add enough of to my diet, and full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are also important for my little guy’s brain development. One night I was craving the shit out of it, so we went to a sushi bar in Seal Beach, and it was one of the best meals I have had since I was pregnant.

But for many people, watching a woman with a baby bump shovel in raw sashimi is a capital offense and a sure sign that she is unfit to be a mother. But why? What is it about sushi, deli meats, soft cheeses, and coffee that are so dangerous for pregnant women that strangers clutch their pearls if they see a pregnant woman in a Starbucks or Subway?

I had to look into this, not because I wanted to justify eating sushi, but because I like to have all of the facts, even the unpleasant ones, so that I can make an informed decision. If you’re like me, there’s an interesting book called Expecting Better that you might enjoy. I don’t agree with her all of the time, but I appreciate her overall approach.

So why is it conventional wisdom that sushi is off-limits for pregnant women? My guess is that it dates back to when sushi was an exotic and weird treat– raw fish???— and the fears of food poisoning from eating raw foods was enough to scare people. This is a little bit legit: food poisoning is no joke, and raw foods can become contaminated with bacteria. Why put yourself at risk of food poisoning?

62ddfe0d9790102baba2a31466859cfe

Well no, not quite.

The thing is, in my opinion, and I stress, in my opinion, food poisoning from quality fish at a reputable restaurant almost never happens. What has happened recently is that Chipotle restaurants, bagged lettuce, and raw cashews have made people very sick. Is that to say that pregnant women should not be allowed to eat salads or burritos? Of course not. It means pay attention and take proper precautions (like washing your lettuce before eating it and paying attention to food recalls). When it comes to raw fish, to me proper precaution means eating at a clean and reputable sushi restaurant. Of course I’m not about to grab some week-old tuna rolls from 7-11. I think pregnant women are smart enough to know the difference between the two.

Sushi isn’t my only sin though. I eat soft cheeses. Gasp! But here’s the thing: I buy cheeses made from pasteurized milk, and even the most alarmist of websites mention that pasteurized cheeses are okay. Where do I buy such magical, pasteurized cheeses? From just about any store that sells cheese. This is fucking America; of course most of the cheese sold is pasteurized. It will say so right on the label; you usually don’t even have to read the ingredients. Now, am I going into that new-agey artisan cheese shop in Silverlake where the hipster employee is offering me a sample of their fresh bleu cheese? Probably not. But that cheese from Trader Joe’s? The one that says “Pasteurized” right in the middle of the label? Hells yes!

I want to pause a moment and remind you that I am (obviously) not a doctor, and that these are just my personal opinions. Every pregnant woman needs to make her own decisions carefully in consultation with her physician. And no, the person selling you essential oils does not count. Don’t be afraid to ask your physician about the rationale behind pregnancy guidelines so that you understand what is at stake.

What may be surprising after all of that is that on some dietary decisions, I can be a little bit conservative. For instance, my doctor told me that he doesn’t care how much caffeine I drink. However, my blood pressure is a major concern right now, and so most days I do limit myself to one cup of coffee a day. That has honestly been the hardest part of pregnancy for me, going through life under-caffeinated. I take it as a guideline though, and remember that guidelines are flexible. Right now I am drinking my second cup of the day because it is Sunday, I’m relaxing, and this is my little treat to myself.  Since there have been no conclusive studies that show negative or positive results of caffeine in humans in pregnancy, I’m going to enjoy that second cup today and not feel guilty.

Now, it seems like these days everyone knows someone who confesses to having a glass of wine here and there during pregnancy. I know plenty of women who did and have healthy, smart babies. It’s just not for me though. If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I love me some wine. However, since I became pregnant, it just doesn’t smell good to me. All wine, even good wine, smells like it’s oxidized now. Weird, right? But even when a glass across the room looks appetizing on first glance, on second glance it looks to me like heart burn in a glass. During the holidays I was constantly teased with glasses of champagne, and while I know that one small glass would be okay, I’m honest enough to admit that I don’t want one glass. I want three. And that’s too much. But for women with more self-control than me who want a glass of wine after work: I ain’t judging. Enjoy it.

And that leads me to my last and most important point: quit judging pregnant women for what they put in their mouths, assholes. I’m going to be the etiquette police here for a second and say that it’s never okay to approach a stranger and tell her that she should not be eating something. Unless you witnessed someone tamper with her food and she is about to unknowingly ingest something, it’s none of your business. If  (for some reason) you truly feel compelled to say something, be armed with citations of respected medical studies. Sorry, but homeopathic blogs do not count. Pregnant women have enough that is unpleasant to deal with, and public condemnation from uninformed, self-righteous jerks need not be one of them. Enjoy that sashimi or rare steak, girl. You deserve it.

 

Ch-ch-changes

Wow, so it’s been a while. 3 months to be exact– long enough for me to completely forget my login information for this blog when just tonight I got the itch to post something. I’m not even sure if anyone reads blogs anymore, which honestly makes blogging sound appealing to me once again.

Anyway, my life has changed a lot since I last posted. In fact, just a few days after my last post, this happened:

positive pregnancy test

This happened to me once before with a sad and painful outcome, so this time I spent my first trimester worried sick and actually sick, avoiding social situations as best I could.

But now, as I type this, I am 16 weeks along with a pregnancy that seems to be going well. Just before Christmas we got to see our little guy bouncing around and sucking his thumb! Every few days I look at my stomach in the mirror and play “baby or burritos?” This week I feel confident that the answer is “baby.”

It’s all still very surreal to me, and I’m still trying to tune out all of the what ifs that race through my mind constantly. But don’t you worry, I plan to enjoy this time as much as I possibly can (especially now that I have switched from regular pants to maternity jeans– holy shit, why did no one tell me how amazing they are?!).

Before Remodeling Your Home, You Should Know…

There are a lot of things that happen when you remodel your home that can be frustrating–especially if you are living in said home during the remodel. You will constantly be covered in dust. Completion will take 2 months longer than projected. The costs will continue to climb as you discover things like defects in plumbing, or that you need a new front door since your current one won’t fit with the new floors you put in.  I could go on and on (don’t worry, I won’t), but if you are to remodel your own home, there is one that I need to warn you about:

home remodel cost

Our bedroom and bathroom, with a glass of rose to ease the frustration.

Friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, and even minor acquaintances will all have opinions and recommendations on what else you should do to your home. To be sure, they’re all lovely people who just want to help. And it turns out that these people have expensive taste.

So, you’re going to put a Jacuzzi in your backyard then, right?

What about new countertops, when are you doing that?

What you really need to do is replace this with a double oven. Oh and then upgrade all of your other appliances to match.

You’re getting a custom closet system, right? Oh, you’re not?..well I mean, you really should.

I’ve got an idea! What if you knocked out this wall and made this a big open space?

I would expect those suggestions from a contractor, but nope–he’s been very understanding about costs. All of the suggestions are good ones, but it’s what follows that is the most frustrating.

Me: Wellll, maybe, later on. We’re kind of over budget right now.

Them: [shaking head or wincing] I mean, I guess. You really should just splurge for that though. You’re going to regret it. I know so-and-so …[ and what follows is a story of how some person did or bought that expensive thing and loves it, or how some person has fill in the blank and it looks so awful; they should have just spent the money and got fill in the blank.]

For some reason, spending a ridiculous amount of money on your home gives people license to pretty much call you cheap to your face. I cannot tell you how many times the above conversation has continued with me explaining a couple more times that we just cannot afford what they are suggesting, only for them to suggest that we should afford it. (?)

So yes, yes I am going to get those cheaper mirrors from Ikea and no, I’m not buying my dining room table from Restoration Hardware. And if you remodel your own home, remember that it’s you who will live there (and is probably paying for it), and if others don’t like it, they can send you a check.

So Some Things Have Happened.

Oh hi there. Remember me? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Actually, looking back at my blog it looks like I pop in every 3 months or so, so apparently I’m right on schedule to chime in to basically say I’m still here! Pay attention to me and give me all of the comments and likes! (Not really but okay kind of.)

A lot has happened since I walked away from this blog. Many times I’ve wanted to sit down and write about it, to really throw myself back in to blogging. But then I scroll through my Bloglovin’ feed and realize that it’s the same ol’ shit on most blogs–but at least they’re shilling Charmin toilet paper while they’re at it!– and I get bored and discouraged. You can read a more detailed explanation of my feelings on it here.

But then I start itching to write. I start missing the creative outlet that blogging has given me, and I miss the push that blogging gave me to actually be creative, and I think maybe I can go back, and at least make my own blog not as shitty. But tomorrow. I’ll get to it tomorrow, and I’ll write something epic. But tomorrow.

So whatever, it’s now tomorrow 200 times over, and maybe this (probably) won’t be epic, but it will be something.

So yeah, a lot has happened since I stopped blogging, and maybe I’ll write about some of them, maybe I won’t.

I grew a garden. Some of the flowers kicked ass, some didn’t. I grew a lot of vegetables, but only ate about half of them. My dog ate almost all of my tomatoes.

2015-05-02 13.21.32I learned that you can take your dog wine tasting, at least in Paso Robles (my favorite CA wine region). This is obviously a game changer.

We went to Italy by way of Turkey, and it was an amazing trip.

Evidence that I was, indeed, in Venice.

I meant to work out more, but instead I gained probably 10 pounds since this time last year.

We gave up on DIY-ing our home remodel and called in a contractor. It was the best decision, but it’s been the most stressful, frustrating process.

We decided to start a family, I got pregnant, and then I miscarried a few weeks later.

C’s cousin and her dog moved in with us (temporarily).

I started taking Spanish courses at the local community college, pero no le hablo bien. 

And hmm, I felt like there was more than that, but maybe not.

So I can’t guarantee that I will blog every day, week, or even regularly, though I hope to. I really want to share the progress with our home, especially as I decorate. I want to dig into a lot of the topics that I have opinions on. But most importantly, I want to make sure that my blog doesn’t suck. I promise I will not be shilling toilet paper or tampons to make a quick buck.

 

 

In Line at the Grocery Store

Today I was standing in line at the grocery store, staring at the racks of aspirational magazines. This was at Sprouts, so instead of People and US with their tales of celebrity divorces, they have OC Living, Sunset, and Epicurean to make you feel better about yourself for shopping at Sprouts, while reminding you that your neighbors are probably living better than you are.

While I stared at the images of chicly landscaped back yards and scanned over headlines that promised to let you in on the secrets of living better than everyone else, I couldn’t help but feel like I was doing life wrong, just in general. There was an old man in line in front of me, hunched over his shopping cart, wearing a neatly ironed button-down stars and stripes shirt and a red cap. He turned to me, smiled, and broke me out of my haze by asking with a wink, “Boy is there some kind of holiday happening this weekend or something?”

“That’s what I hear, but I’m not sure I believe it,” I replied, winking back.

He leaned in and said, “You know, this will be my 83rd Fourth of July.”

“Wow, nicely done!”

“But what’s even better,” he added, nodding toward his wife who was now at the cashier stand, “We just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary!”

“Oh wow, congratulations, that’s great!”

“Yeah, she keeps me alive,” he continued grinning.

“Well she deserves a medal for that, doesn’t she.” I winked; he laughed.

He went on to tell me about how they’ve lived in the same home since 1955 when they bought a half acre of land for $12,000. The city had even offered to buy them out, but their children and grandchildren have urged them to keep the home.

“Smart move,” I said, and meant it. A half acre of land in Huntington Beach is worth a lot of money, but even more, you could hear the pride in his voice as he brought up the family and home that he obviously loves very much.

His wife finished paying for their groceries. “It was nice talking to you; have a good weekend!” He said.

“And you have a happy Fourth of July, ” I answered. From his smile I am certain  that he will.

It was then that I realized that the truly aspirational lifestyle couldn’t be found on the magazine covers; it had been standing right in front of me.

Oh Happy Day

Oh hi there. It’s been a while. I’ve got a lot of things that I want to say, but for now I just want to use this space to cover one important issue:

 

 

Ya know?

When I woke up to the news yesterday, I was pretty much like this:

liz lemon dance

seinfeld happy dance

I would’ve posted something yesterday, but there was this:

poppin bottles

 

I wrote the following 2 years ago (when the supreme court was about to rule on California’s Prop 8), and reading it again I can only think, damn, what she said. So here’s what I said then and what I believe still:

Once upon a time, I had a boyfriend (before C) who was, well, to put it nicely…an asshole. This was back in 2008, when Prop 8 was on the ballot here in California. He was in favor of the proposition and vehemently believed that gay marriage should not be legal. His main reason? “I don’t like gays, and it’s my vote, so I am going to vote against them.”

I told you he was an asshole.

We argued about this endlessly, and after I’d point out his bigotry and the ugliness of his words, he’d shake his head and shout, “Why do you even care?! You’re not gay! What’s it even matter to you?!”

I care because I believe in love. I believe that no matter what your preference, another person’s love is just as valid as my own love. It is wrong for our society to legislate whose love is more significant or righteous than another’s.

I care because I hope to one day get married, and when I get married, I want my marriage to be about love, and about the love between me and my spouse, and not about what upholds the sanctity of someone else’s marriage. If the sanctity of marriage is upheld by making sure it is exclusive, then it is an institution I do not want to be a part of.

I care because I believe it is wrong to treat any group of people like a lower class of citizens. A person’s sexual preference does not make him or her any less human. When you treat a group of people as if they are not, it makes YOU less human.

I care because denying one group a civil liberty puts all groups at risk of losing a civil liberty. I may detest the Westboro Baptist Church, but I believe in their right to free speech. I would never want to take that away from them, as it is a right that affects us all. Just because you don’t like or approve of a group does not mean that they do not deserve the same rights that you do. And when you agree to strip the rights of one group, you are expressing consent for others groups to not have the same rights, and that group may some day include you.

I care because logical fallacies make me want to smash things. If you say that allowing gays to marry will lead to people marrying their dogs, you are just plain stupid. Let me break it down for you: Two rational and consenting adults are not equal to one rational consenting adult and a canine. It is not logical to assume that allowing two gay adults to marry will lead to people allowing others to marry their pets. A homosexual significant other is not a pet. He or she is a human being.

While some people might believe in a 3000+ year old document that has been translated through several archaic languages, not everyone does. Like it or not, the United States is NOT a Christian nation. I respect everyone’s religious beliefs, but our legislature is not dictated by the bible. I care too much about our democracy to quietly let us fall into a theocracy. You are free to believe what you want to, but you cannot force those beliefs onto others with the law.

And most of all, I care because it’s a small step towards what I hope will be a sea change in our culture, when we stop letting fear and hatred win, and collectively decide that love is all we really need…

carlton dance

My, Those March Goals!

I don’t know about you, but for me March always seems like the real start to the year. (I know I’m not alone–this is probably why so many cultures historically celebrated a new year at the Spring Equinox!)

For me at least, February always feels “blah,” and if I made a new year’s resolution, I have certainly failed by that time. I start feeling like nothing good is going on in my life, and then suddenly March comes around–March, the great month of  my birthday, St. Patrick’s day, spring break, the official start of spring, and longer days. It is, without a doubt, my favorite month of the year.

march goals (2)

So cheers to March! Here’s what I plan to do to help make it even better:

  • Blog at least once a week. I know, slow down there turbo, once a week? Hey, I’m easing in.
  • Get back in to running. After I ran a marathon back in 2013, I stopped running. My attitude was basically “Check! Done and done!” But I do miss it. I don’t plan to train for a race or anything, but I did like the way it kept my head clear and my metabolism more normal. I’ve been taking Khaleesi to a school yard at the end of our street to play fetch, and for the past couple of days we’ve run together around the track. Just a mile– you know, so she doesn’t get too worn out— and it’s been fun. I’ll soon go for longer runs without her though. It’s only fun for both of us when she doesn’t need to be on a leash.
  • Finish planting my garden. I have my veggies planted, and they are flourishing. (!) Now I want to reseed the grass and plant an English style garden on one side of our back yard. I have this fantasy of sipping tea and reading a book surrounded by lavender and hydrangeas this summer, all Downton Abbey style. I don’t know if the garden will live that long, but I will at least get it planted!
downton abbey garden

It’s totally going to be like this, guys.  (Via)

  • Finish one of those home decor DIY projects I have pinned. I have so many ideas, yet so little motivation or patience to get them done.
  • Catch up on Coursera classes. Holy moly, if you slack off for one week, you fall way behind. I am such a bad student!
  • Age gracefully. I turn one year older later this month. I plan for it to be a very low-key, unceremonious occasion, but I still plan to make it special for me.

It’s shaping up to be a busy, but utterly wonderful month. Does anyone else agree that March is the best month of them all?

Life Lately

I keep convincing myself that there is nothing “blog worthy” going on in my life these days, and really that inner voice of mine is right. My life lately has been about delaying gratification, learning patience, and waiting to see what lies around the next corner.

But those in-between phases, the ones without many photographs or exciting stories, make us just as much who we are as those more exciting, glamorous times.

winter sunset

Winter these days is rough.

So with this in mind I want to remember this unremarkable time and put into writing what is going on in my life lately:

  • Our home– it is under construction. We are remodeling just about everything in this house. This house has its charm, but it was built in 1964 and is overdo for a new look. Right now our living room is stripped bear, down to concrete and studs.

Here’s the kicker: we’re doing it all ourselves. If you know only me, this statement would probably make you laugh out loud or cause your jaw to drop. But C is quite handy with this kind of thing; in fact, I’m learning more and more each day that he’s really handy at this kind of thing. Like, if for some reason the whole doctor gig doesn’t work out for him, he could be a contractor.

hardhat zone

But as his assistant, I do not know what I am doing AT ALL. I am getting a crash course and learning quickly, but holy guacamole is this new territory for me. And this home remodel will be going on, for well, forever. I anticipate that for the rest of 2015 at least one room will always be under construction.

  • Projects– I am inspired by C’s DIY spirit, and so while he works on things that he doesn’t need my assistance on, I am giving a go at all of those projects I’ve pinned on Pinterest. I’ll share with you the ones that go well.  I’m also heading up the back yard project, beginning with a vegetable and flower garden (and much, much more to come). I’m actually really loving gardening. Unfortunately for me, Khaleesi is too.

khaleesi gardening german shepherd

(If you have any tips for how to keep a dog from digging in your garden, I am all ears. I have a temporary fence around my veggies now, but I’d like for it to come down eventually. I have heard that sprinkling cayenne pepper in the soil helps, but I’m waiting for more assurances on this before I take down the fence. )

  • I’m learning all sorts of things from Coursera. I’m having a hard time staying disciplined and keeping up on a regular schedule with lectures (let alone assignments), but I really do love getting my learn on. It’s keeping me from over-indulging in bad tv or internet gossip, so that’s an added perk. Have you ever taken a class in Coursera (or something similar)? I am curious to hear about others’ experiences.
  • But I’m still watching too much tv, both good and bad (ahem, Vanderpump Rules). But Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver are keeping my Sunday nights busy! (And maybe a little dizzy, watching all three in that order.)
  • And despite all of that, I am trying to just relax. Seriously. My blood pressure has been ridiculously high the last few times I’ve checked it, and while I am sure that is mainly due to never losing that 10 pounds I kept vowing to lose last fall, some of it has to do with feeling anxious and stressed out. I am teaching myself that it is okay if a day gets away from me. My to-do list doesn’t need to be packed each day, and the number of items checked off of a list doesn’t define me. Right? I have to get used to that idea, because on days when I am not productive, I kept help shaking that feeling that I just suck at life.
  • Because of that, I am thinking about working some yoga into my life more. I always say that, but really. I’m cutting back on Krav Maga –making it to classes each evening was stressing me out, and I have some other big plans for this year that will prevent me from training– and so I need some outlet to stay active and to relieve stress. Does anyone have a recommendation of good online yoga workouts I can stream? And does anyone else have a problem with pets trying to get in on the action any time you roll out a yoga mat?

So, now that I look back on this post, early 2015 ain’t so bad. It’s those little things, the in-between stages in life that are important, no matter how mundane they seem. Ya know?

 

Friday Funnies

Wait, What?!

I know! It’s been so long since I’ve done a Friday Funnies post. Or any post for that matter. I am planning on easing myself back in to blogging, really, and I thought I’d start by sharing some things that have made me laugh recently.

(And really, these posts require much less writing or creativity on my part, so there’s that. And yet, some of these images are still blurry. Laziest.Blogger.Ever.)

2-5 bitches need class

 

2-5 don't mind if I do

 

2-5 drinks own me

 

2-5 hipster hamsters

 

2-5 maths

 

2-5 not sure what to do with face

 

2-5 scared of toaster

 

2-5 texting

 

2-5 wine trigger

 

I also want to acknowledge that I was a douche who did not respond to those kind and funny and helpful comments on my last post, about why I haven’t been blogging. You all really made my day, and I suck for not taking the time to respond individually. Sorry.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

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