Post #5 – New photograph, willing spring to arrive, and rounding the bend of the Whole30

Dear Reader:

When I started my blog I wanted to use a photograph of my children, but, being a bit backwards when it comes to technology, I couldn’t figure out how to take this photo from my phone and make it my header.  I started to ask one of my children for help, but decided it was time for me to pull up my big girl pants and figure it out.  So I did!  I took this years ago on our last trip to Cape Cod together.  We spent time there for 17 years, visiting my aunt who took a place every summer right on the beach in Truro.

We started going when I was married to their father and the youngest was maybe six months old, but very shortly afterwards our marriage began to crumble and soon it was just the four of us and my aunt.  She provided a dependable situation during a critical and difficult time in their lives and mine – – a week or two at the beach in August, just before school started; no internet or TV or outgoing calls; card and board games galore; crossword puzzles; unlimited high-end art supplies (she was an artist); nightly movies (usually oldies/classics) piled upstairs in the loft with blankets and pillows on the bunks and bowls upon bowls of popcorn; pop tarts for breakfast; sandwiches and chips on the beach; days spent at the beach, exploring the lighthouse, P’town, the occasional flea market or art gallery and shops; bonfire cookouts on the beach, followed by star gazing until the little ones fell asleep; games of flashlight tag; and the promise of one lobster dinner over in Wellfleet followed by ice cream at A Nice Cream Stop.

Being a born and bred Southern, and raising my children in the heart of New England, tradition is the cornerstone to my life.  And making sure my children had traditions they could count on and recall (when their own lives were turned upside down and often unpredictable) was of great importance to me.  Almost every aspect of my parenting style has been centered around traditions.

For the past 31 years I have been a wife, a divorcee, a single gal, a wife (again), a widow, single for a long time, and a wife (yet again).  But for 27 of those 31 years there has been one constant in my life – motherhood.  Although I have also worked at various points in the past 31 years, my identity has been as their mother.  In many ways, I cannot think of myself outside of them and I also feel they are my greatest achievement.  That is why I wanted to use this photograph as my header.  If you knew us, you would say it very clearly says quite a lot about my children, my mothering style, and us.  An old friend used to say we were quite the force, a total unit.  Also, I took the picture and I think it’s cool!

I hope you like it.

Although we are closing in on the last full week of April, the temperature here in northeast PA is still on the chilly side.  Just 10 days ago we were still getting little snow storms off and on for almost an entire week!  The high today was supposed to be 62*, but it never felt that warm at all.  It was so windy!  Since the end of March/early April, we have had a day or two here and there of spring-like weather, but it was always short lived and back we went to cold and snow or chilly and rainy.

Although my winters in New England were terrifically cold and very snowy, and often seemed endless, for some reason I am finding this winter the one that doesn’t want to end!  When I lived north of Boston, I lived in a typical New England town that was built around a small main street area and in conjunction with a private boarding school.  Our streets had sidewalks and, therefore, it was safe to walk all over for miles and not worry about cars.  All I had to do was get dressed for whatever the weather was and head out my door.  Talk about easy!  My favorite route was up the street, through the downtown and into the campus of the school.  I have so many pictures taken at various times of the year to document how the seasons changed.  Here, in the bucolic mountain area of Northeast PA, there are no sidewalks.  While our views are stunning and we have so much privacy, as we are surrounded by small mountains, I am very uncomfortable heading out for a walk or run.

I usually walk the dogs with the professor once or twice a weekend, and sometimes during the week when it is not too cold.  But the ease I enjoyed before, of walking out the front door without worrying about cars, is not the case here.  We have to navigate roughly a mile of windy road until we arrive at a local school where we can walk for another two miles in the woods.  There are similar routes without the woods option, but all require me to navigate windy roads and passing cars.  There are nature trails that are beautiful, but they involve getting into the car.

I think the fact that I could easily get out and about safely when I lived in New England helped to alleviate any possible feelings of winter blues.  It did take me about a year to get used to it, but, once I had dogs, we were out almost every single day for a three to four mile jog.  Unless the sidewalks were icy and dangerous we were outside enjoying nature.  Thankfully my back yard was fenced in and solved the need for daily outings when the conditions were poor.

It is a funny mix of emotions for me.  I can stand in my kitchen and look out upon mountains and feel so at peace and filled with gratitude.  However, I can also think longingly back to my morning outings with my dog and feel sad at the loss of that easy daily activity.

Finally, I am nearing the end of my Whole30 experience and I could not be more excited!  I know I won’t be going back to my milk and sugar coffee habit, but just knowing that I will have the freedom to make choices again is glorious!  I’ve been doing research on grain-free and dairy-free baking and am eager to put my research to the test.  Wednesday morning of next week…

All-in-all, I have felt really good the past 10 – 14 days.  I continue to learn a lot about myself and my relationship with food, and about food in general.

With the end of April comes preparation for exam week in mid May at the U.  Once exams are under way, the professor and I can happily start to think of our summer plans and heading up to Maine to get our New England fix!  We have a little cottage up there, nestled against some woods, along the mid coast.  Not only is it private and woodsy, but it is also very close to the beach – – close enough for a four or five mile bike ride.  I have two gardens I love to tend and we go on daily walks with the dogs, often along the rocky shores.  We have comfy sofas and chairs for reading books and napping and a back deck perfect for lounging and cooking out.  It is our little slice of heaven!

I guess my high/low today is connected – – the sun was out (HIGH!), but it was pretty chilly (LOW!).  Another high was figuring out how to put one of my favorite photographs on this blog.  All-in-all, it has been a good day.

Until next time…


P.S. – I have just made an Instagram account!  The account name is elinor_may_.  Guess I am not the only person named Elinor May.  It was hard to find a handle that wasn’t already taken.  I think of my name as being rather unique.   Oh well.  At any rate, I haven’t posted any photographs yet, but I will soon.  I hope you will follow along.  And, as always, I’d love to hear from you.



Post #4 – Life on the Whole30, Day 11

Dear Reader:

Today there were real glimmers of hope in an otherwise same-old-same-old day on the Whole30.  I’ve got to be honest: this Whole30 thing is getting old!  Today was day 11 and it feels as if each and every day crawls by at a snail’s pace.  It’s not like I’m ready to wave the white flag, throw up my hands and surrender, but this is really wearing on me.  While my experience remains basically the same as last week, there have been two major changes: one welcomed and one not so welcomed.

Before I started the Whole30, I read each and every bad thing listed (that I would supposedly go through the first two weeks) to my husband and asked for his patience in advance. I am happy to report that 95% of those issues have not been my issues. Thankfully, I have yet to suffer from mood swings (read “hanger”) or any of the other maladies listed in the book (head-aches, body-aches, feeling like I have a hang-over, etc.).

However, I have felt utterly and totally bowled over with exhaustion!  My energy levels, which are usually sky high, have barely gotten off the ground.  I haven’t really feel like myself at all.  It’s odd.

Until yesterday!

Most days since I started this I’d wake up, roll over and go back to sleep, snooze off and on for roughly an hour, maybe 90 mins, then drag myself out of  bed and stumble around as I got dressed for the day.  And by dressed, I mean putting on sweats or throwing a sweatshirt over my t-shirt and remaining in my flannel jams most of the day.  This is NOT normal for me.  Ok, sometimes I do live in sweats or yoga pants, but the not being able to wake up and stumbling around part is WAY out of character.  Plus, normally I tend to get things done every day.

I have struggled to feel motivated to do anything, be it get dressed, eat breakfast, go to yoga, run the vacuum, do the laundry, go to the grocery – – you get the picture.  NO MOTIVATION.  NO ENERGY.  NO DRIVE.   This is not the best situation for a happy state-of-mind.  It’s had me feeling rather down in the dumps.  One night I totally fell apart and cried like a baby because I haven’t had any real appetite and nothing has appealed to me. The word depressed has crossed my mind more than a few times.

Today, however, it was as if a light switch went off.  It was the second day I was able to wake up with relative ease.  I even got dressed in real clothes.  Like, I actually WANTED to get dressed in real clothes.  SCORE!!

Yesterday I completed most of my to-do list, which consisted of household chores such as cleaning the first floor, changing out winter linens for spring, and putting away all the Easter decorations I took down and gathered on the dining room table over a week ago and then promptly ignored.  The annoying thing is that while these chores might normally take me half a day, yesterday they took the ENTIRE day!  I must have sat down half a dozen times, if I sat down once, just to rest.  Some times for an hour.

Today was much better.  Still not getting up super early, but I woke easily and got ready for the day.  By 9AM I had made the bed, gotten dressed, done a few kitchen chores and was ready for a grocery run.  After returning with a bounty of delicious whole foods, my youngest and I put on an old Mary Chapin Carpenter CD, cranked up the volume, and did (what the millennials call) “meal prep”.  We had such a great time together!  All day I felt up-beat and eager to go.  I haven’t felt the need to rest.  Not once.

After a quick trip into the city, I finished up my tasks and made vegan salted chocolate chip cookies for No. 3 and gluten-free (also super low carb) pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for my guy – – all from scratch, which is the way I roll.  Sadly, I can have neither of those until May 2nd, but who’s counting?  Really.

I am so grateful for the energy I have felt these past two days.  It’s been like a ray of sunshine.  It’s hard to explain what it was like the previous nine days.  Feeling flat.  Absolutely no energy.  None what-so-ever.

To illustrate my point, Saturday I drove No.3 to Philly to attend an accepted students day event at one of the schools to which she applied.  We left at 5:45 AM.  I packed bananas, apples, nuts, and an RX bar, but I failed to pack anything else that was Whole30 approved thinking: “This is Philly.  Super hip.  Cutting edge.  Vegan restaurants.  They’ll have something easy for me to grab within the vicinity of the school.”  NOT!  I momentarily forgot that vegan does not = Whole30.  UGH!

The food offered for lunch at the school was carb-based – – not a big surprise.  The vegan restaurant down the street was also carb based and offered fake meat options, which are not allowed on the program because they are processed.  The only thing Whole30 approved on the menu were sweet potato fries.  The other options close by, outside of fast food, were two restaurants, each with a pricey menu and the inevitable wait for a table, wait to order, and wait for the food to arrive, etc.  I didn’t have time for that because we were on a schedule with the school program that day.

So, for the entire 24 hour period, I ate an order (and it was not a very big one) of sweet potato fries and two apples and one banana and one RX bar – – and more nuts than anyone should consume in one day.  (Plus my first almond milk latte from Starbucks, ending my coffee drought, which turned out to be the highlight of my entire week!)

The drive back should take roughly two hours and 15 mins, without much traffic.  We were less than an hour from home when I suddenly became so utterly tired I could not keep my eyes open.  It was scary.  Seriously.  Like a blanket of exhaustion covered me completely.  And No. 3 doesn’t have her driver’s license yet.  (Don’t ask.)  So I pulled over to shut my eyes for maybe 20 mins, and 90 minutes later I woke up in a fog of confusion and horror at the time! That, coupled with day after day after day of not being able to complete the most menial of tasks, had me like WTAF???????

BUT today was a good day, as was yesterday.  No fatigue/exhaustion.  Also, I’m feeling pretty upbeat!  Seems like I might be on the up-swing here.  Don’t want to jinx myself, but things could be looking up.

The other change, but not for the good, has been pretty persistent stomach issues.  This is my ONE AND ONLY low for yesterday and today.  It started Sunday, which I basically spent lying around on the couch with a heating pad on my belly.  I was not nauseated, but my belly ached severely all day and I felt like crude.  It has remained an issue ever since, but to varying degrees.  Kinda comes and goes and  right now it’s nothing I can’t handle, but it is annoying and sometimes slows me down a bit.  The book tells me this too shall pass, so I won’t let it get get the best of me.  Apparently, it is possible I have been consuming far more nuts than is advisable, so they are off my list for a while.

As I round the corner of my second full week on the Whole30, I am feeling my highs today well outweigh my lows.

  • I am back to feeling more like my old self.  I have motivation again for tasks, and not just my day-to-day tasks but projects.
  • I made it through the entire day today without once feeling as if I needed to sit on the couch and veg.
  • No.3 and I enjoyed some really nice quality time in the kitchen, which is not always, maybe even rarely, the case.
  • I enjoyed another almond milk latte, even experimenting on my own to make it at home as good as Starbucks does.
  • Today was the first day in a really really long time that it wasn’t cold, or even chilly.  And tomorrow and Saturday it’s going to be even warmer!  Such great news for this southern gal.

Here’s hoping all is well with you and, if you live anywhere north of Philly, that you are able to be out and about enjoying these first few days of real spring weather.  Please feel free to ping me with any questions, and if you have tried the Whole30, I would certainly love to hear about your experience.

Until next time…