My friend, Nalini, and I at Turner Field... My first MLB game!

My friend, Nalini, and I at Turner Field… My first MLB game!

Another post I wrote a couple of weeks ago and am now just getting around to posting.  Oops.

  1. Holy hell it’s HOT here! People are telling me that we’ve started summer early in the ATL. For the first time, I’ve admitted that I might not be mentally prepared for this heat. Yikes!!!
  2. I went to a Major League Baseball game! For those of you who know me personally, you know this is kind of a big deal because I am rather sports illiterate. (SQUIRREL – I got a few eye rolls from my colleagues when I kept yelling “YEAH SPORTSBALL!” tee hee hee) Here’s the really weird thing… I LOVED IT! I could totally see myself becoming a Braves fan, especially when they move the stadium closer to work.
  3. Related note: Do stadiums have public wifi? I’d like to see if I can VPN in from my seat. If so, I might start teleworking A LOT.
  4. I’ve been making some new friends at work. YEAH!!! It’s a very interesting environment and we’re not really set up to get to know people on other well. But you know me… I never stop talking so it was bound to happen no matter how we’re structured.
  5. Related note #1: Some of my friends are much younger than I am so I’m learning some hip stuff. Their influence has introduced me to things like Wolf of Wall Street and the show Workaholoics and phrases like YOLO. Oh yes, I can totally hang with the youngsters.
  6. Related note #2: One of my new friends (wait for it, this is EPIC) has YouTube videos of his Rush drum covers!!! Whenever I’m in a mood, I take a minute to watch one of his videos and it immediately cheers me up. (Thanks for sharing with me, OA!) You guys should check it out! This is one of my favorites.
  7. I had a little bout with the flu a couple of months ago. I was stuck in bed for a few days and decided to start (binge) watching Game of Thrones. OMG. So addictive. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a show that I cannot predict at all which is weird because there’s quite a bit of foreshadowing. I think I might read the books. Apparently, I’ve got plenty of time before the next season starts. Well played, HBO.  You brilliant bastards.  😉

28-Day No Spending Challenge

Nerd  ;)

$$$ Mo’ Money $$$

Near the end of January, I stumbled across an article titled Why I Make My Bed from a cool site called Living Well Spending Less.  The article made a lot of sense to me and got me really motivated to get more organized at home.  As I started to peruse the site, I came across 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero.  It described a challenge to spend no money, with the exception of absolute necessities.  You may recall that one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to recognize my wants versus needs regarding my finances.  So I was GEEKED to read about the challenge and how much people were able to save over just one month.  I got pretty excited, and realized that February is only 28 days, so I decided that we would try it!  (See what I did there?  I decided that WE – my entire family – would try it.  HA!)

On the site, there are 31 days of ideas and activities to save money and get more organized.  For example, one of the first activities is to clean out the pantry.  This meets 2 objectives – you get to organize your pantry AND you inventory what you have in there so that you can plan meals with the food you have instead spending money on more.  HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!  After reading through all 31 days, I was IN!

Here are some of the tactics I used:

  • I cashed in my credit card reward points for $200 worth of gas cards
  • I planned meals around what I had in the pantry, fridge, and freezers.
  • We took back cans and bottles (embarrassingly, these had been accumulating for quite some time and totaled nearly $50).
  • We used any coupons and gift cards we could get our hands on.
  • I gave up buying my morning coffee at work.  DH gave up lunches out as well as after work age appropriate beverage gatherings.  (Was that clear enough?  😉 )
  • We explained to the kids what we were trying to do and they used their own Christmas money for anything they needed money for at school.
  • We cut out all of our entertainment costs – no movies, restaurants, or other non-essentials.
  • We also submitted for reimbursement of one of our flexible spending accounts we paid into the year before.  (I’m aware that this isn’t something available to everyone, but the point of this exercise was to get stuff paid off so it made sense to do it at the same time.)

I saved 30% of my grocery costs, 100% on gas costs, and all but $40 of entertainment costs (Valentine’s Day – Got each of my girls the Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bows with Arrows.  We had so much fun with them that I decided they were worth every penny.) and I paid off all of our medical bills, credit card balances, one school loan, and extra on the mortgage payment.  I estimated that we saved nearly $1000 over the course of those 4 weeks.  BOOM!

The other part of the challenge is about getting organized and de-cluttering.  Although I didn’t have as much time for all of the changes recommended my the site as I would have liked, I found that I am much calmer in a cleaner, more organized, free-of-junk mail/Legos/Barbie crap-type of environment.  I’ll have to try and tackle more of that another month.

What I found really interesting through this challenge is what I learned from it.  I realized that when I forced myself to stop spending, my perspective changed… A LOT.  I realized how easily I justify spending money.  I also realized that it’s much easier to stop spending than I thought.  When I forced myself to stop, I came up with all sorts of ways to save money.

All in all, it was an excellent experience and I did exactly what I hoped I could.  GO ME!!!  🙂

Random Thoughts – 3/17/2014

Frinkles, The Barbie Cat

Frinkles, The Barbie Cat

1.  Happy Wear Green Day!  I blew it today.  Didn’t wear green.  Didn’t put my kids in green.  Didn’t even remember until I dropped them off at school.  Oops.

2.  Related Note:  If that’s the worst thing I forget today, it’s a banner freakin’ day.

3.  My youngest named her Barbie’s pet cat Frinkles.

4.  I have to keep reminding myself that I am not defined by my job.  (“It’s not who I am, it’s just what I do.”  Repeat until infinity.)  Good thing too or else that’d make me a big fat pain in the arse.

5.  Oh Sons of Anarchy…  you had me at “the crow flies straight.”

6.  Related Note #1:  Opie’s death, and then his funeral, kept me awake for 2 days.  I literally couldn’t sleep.

7.  Related Note #2:  I might take my TV dramas a little too seriously.

8.  Related Note #3:  Well done incorporating all of those actors from The Shield.  Well done!  (SQUIRREL – When “Shane” was introduced as Aunt Venus, I nearly fell off the couch.)

9.  I’m ready for this bone-aching cold weather to be done.  Hey!  Let’s all wear shorts tomorrow to try and force it to be Spring!

Random Thoughts – 2/13/2014

1.  I’m so happy that Downton Abbey is back on.  Love this show!

2.  Valentine’s Day is NOT my favorite, but I have a great idea to celebrate with my kids.  It involves balloons and nerf arrows.  Muaaaahahahaa!

3.  I read an amazing quote recently (citation – some guy who posted something on some FB site I follow)…

    –  Fair only comes around once a year—the state fair.

4.  And here is one from my friend, Betwixt (thanks for letting me steal)…

    –  Homophobia- the fear that gay men will treat straight men the way straight men treat women.

5.  I’m glad the sun has come out this week.  It has put me in the BEST mood.  😀  Now if we could just get into some double digit temps on the right side of the thermometer.  (SQUIRREL – I’m still pissed at you, Mother Nature)

6.  New Year’s Resolution update:
–  Eat healthy.  I’m on day 14 of my sugar detox.  I’ve gained some major mental clarity and I’ve lost almost 5 pounds.  It’s so nice to feel better.
–  Get strong.  I started a yoga class and am feeling some major muscle gain already.  Also, I am shakin’ my booty HARD CORE at Zumba every week.
–  Emotional health.  I *think* I’m making some *slight* progress here.  But it’s really hard to tell.
–  House renovations AND financial health.  I’m also on day 14 of a “Living Well Spending Zero” challenge.  I’ve gotten a TON of stuff organized in the house and have saved a lot of money.  So far, so good!
–  Bucket List Birthday.  So far, this is the only one I am failing at.  Only 2 weeks left and I have no ideas.  Wine and Canvas might be a good option though.

7.  Lastly, this is my jam this week (Thanks, Carrie!)… Can You Do This – Aloe Blacc

HVD my peeps!  (That stands for Happy Valentine’s Day… not anything gross.)

Randoms Thoughts 2/2/2014

1.  Wow, 2014 is getting on my nerves.  Lots of not-so-good curve balls getting thrown my way.  But I’m going to try and trick my brain into not being mad.  So here goes a Random Thoughts in Bad News/Good News style.  🙂

2.  Bad News – I woke up this morning to find that my mailbox has been demolished by the snow plows.

3.  Good News – My birthday is 4 weeks from today.  Time to start planning my next “Bucket List Birthday Adventure.”

4.  Bad News – I think I am getting sick.  I’m super stuffy and don’t have much of a voice today.  I am singing in a wedding on Saturday.

5.  Good News – I’m on Day 2 of a 21 Day Sugar Detox.  So far, so good.  This is also Day 2 of a Zero Spending month for us – this one is interesting. More to come on both of those soon. 😀

6.  Cute News – Zoey begged me to let her sleep in her gymnastics leotard because she was planning to get right up and work out this morning.  She stuck to her plan.

7.  Fun News – Aly and I made a lighted canopy for her bedroom.  It was made from an old hula hoop, leftover ribbon, lights from my wedding, a window scarf I no longer use, and a couple of floral garlands I had laying around.  She thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.   Mom win.

Random Thoughts – 1/27/2014

  1. <singing>  I just planned my garden!  Yep, the 2014 draft is on paper.  Now I’m getting excited…  and I need to buy myself one of those PVC cutting tools.  😀
  2. Just watched Argo.  That was a good movie.  I never get to do anything that cool at work.
  3. I recently read the book, The Book Thief.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  I can’t tell you anything about it without spoiling it.  Just go read it NOW!
  4. Now that we have cancelled our movie channels, I watch a lot of Food Channel.  It has come to my attention that I have TV crushes on Guy Fieri, Michael Symon, and Robert Irvine.  Food dudes are AWESOME!
  5. Seasonal affective disorder and insomnia are kicking my butt!  January needs to be over.
  6. I made a huge batch of vegetable broth for the first time.  It smells AMAZING and I can’t wait to try it.
  7. I love that commercial where Robin Williams says that Whitman quote.
  8. Took down the Christmas tree and decorations today.  Not the outside lights.  Goodness NO.  Those will be down hopefully before Easter.  Don’t judge me!
  9. I noticed you’re still reading this.  I thought I told you to go read that book.  Seriously, DO IT NOW.

Stay safe and warm, my friends!

Why are food sensitivities so emotional?

My food sensitivity pyramid looks something like this

I read an article – gosh, it’s probably been almost 2 years ago – where the author explained that it is normal for people who have food sensitivities to go through some pretty negative emotions about it.  (If I could find it again, I would link it and totally give her credit for this blog topic.)  She compared it to the stages of grieving and loss.  By NO MEANS am I suggesting that having to eat gluten-free or dairy-free foods is like losing someone.  Not at all.  Not even close.  But on a MUCH smaller scale, isn’t it the same steps and dealing with the same kind of emotions?

When I took my first sensitivity test, I was so relieved.  I knew something was wrong with me.  And I really wanted to believe that it wasn’t my fault… because I didn’t think it was.  I worked hard, since 4th grade, to try and get my weight under control.  But nothing seemed to work.  My body just seemed to be malfunctioning for as long as I could remember.  I was a very busy kid in high school and became a very high energy person in college (SQUIRREL – I once had a professor, who later became my boss, describe me to people like this…  “Mindy makes coffee nervous.”).  So it made no sense to me that no matter how little I ate or how much I worked out, nothing seemed to change.  And when I got the results of that test, I thought I had the magic decoder ring to my weight problem.  Oh happy day!!!

However, after a short while things got difficult.  You see, my first sensitivity test required me to eliminate:  gluten, yeast (both bakers and brewers), eggs (both whites and yolks), green beans, grapes, garlic, pineapple, salmon (and any other non-white fish), yellow cheeses (but not white), and sour cream (which I later found out is a category that includes cream cheese and yogurt).  And at first, I was all in.  “No problem.  I’ll get rid of ALL that crap.”  And I love to cook so it didn’t bother me to spend the better part of a whole day preparing my food for the week. But what I didn’t realize at first is that this also meant eliminating:  all breads, all pastas, anything that has the word “spices” in the ingredients, beer, wine, and many other alcohols. Hmmm…  now this new diet thing is starting to cramp my style a little.

What this actually equated to is more like this:  no more eating at restaurants, no more eating OR DRINKING at gatherings with family or friends, no work potlucks, and nothing convenient (like cafeteria food or prepared food from the grocery store).  That also meant that I now had to become a short order cook so that DH and the kids could have something to eat too.  OK.  Now this diet is not just inconvenient, it is a hassle and is taking TONS of my time, not to mention that it completely changes my social and family life.

So let’s add all of this up.  I didn’t just lose some foods from my diet, I have now also lost some of my comfort (Have I mentioned yet that I am an emotional eater?  I mean, come on.  Who isn’t?), my time, many conveniences, and my means of being social.  Yes, NOW I’d define this as a loss worthy of the stages…

  1. Denial and Isolation – I’d actually put those in the reverse order… like cause and effect.  Isolation – because you’re the only one who has to do this.  Not your friends or the rest of your family, just YOU.  And in my case, I was like “I’m happy about all of this!”  Yeah, right.  Welcome to Denial.
  2. Anger – Oh, this is a fun one.  I’m particularly good at denying that anything is wrong and suppressing that realization until it just jumps out by surprise one day and explodes all over whoever is around.  You know, like on a Sunday night when I realize that I only have enough food for the next 3 meals and that means I get to stay up late and cook or else I don’t get to eat on Tuesday.  And then someone pulls someone else’s hair and everyone starts whining and crying and I go completely bat sh!t crazy on everyone.  Yep, you can almost set your watch to that Anger routine.
  3. Bargaining – This is where I am painfully aware of my lack of self-disciple.  I just want to go out to eat once in a while.  Maybe have some sushi.  Well guess what…  sticky rice has gluten and so does soy sauce.  And good luck finding a sushi that doesn’t have cream cheese, or tempura, or pineapple, or garlic, or red fish.  But I really really really want some.  So I justify it somehow and eat it (Bargaining) and then I pay for it… dearly.
  4. Depression – And here is where we answer the question “Why are food sensitivities so emotional?”  Ummm…  Because they suck.  And we had no control over it.  This isn’t something we decided to do, it was forced upon us.  And because it means we have to experience ALL of these losses.  Epic sad.

But wait… there’s one more…

5.  Acceptance – The light at the end of the tunnel.  This is where we find ways to cope and build a support system to help us through.  This is the part where we make it all work for us.  Or maybe find some crazy chick who writes a blog who will say “Oh my gosh!  I totally went through that too.  It’s hard.  But it gets better.  I promise.  I got your back.  Come here so I can give you a hug.”