Healthy Food Makes Me Sick

So I may or may not have mentioned this to you before but…I’m on a diet. I have been on a diet for over a month (again). This time, I’m doing better with it. I’m doing better with it because I’m concentrating more on making healthier choices and eating smaller portions than I am on forcing myself to eat these ‘healthy choice’ recipes that make me sick. That’s right, a lot of healthy foods actually make me S-I-C-K. No, I am not lying. Yes, this is real life.

You see, things like tomatoes make my acid reflux go through the roof. I get terrible stomach aches, the acid makes my throat hurt, and I get headaches. Bell peppers do much the same thing, although since I dislike their texture and flavor I start feeling sick a lot more quickly. The same happens with celery, asparagus, most squash, all but one eggplant recipe, etc etc and so forth. On top of that, I am literally allergic to strawberries. Yes, strawberries. Yes, it does suck. (guess what my daughter’s favorite food is?? YUP! Strawberries…which mom has to cut up for her. It’s a process and a show for anyone watching me).

My friends laugh because I am a sober person with the palate of a stoner (except for pizza honestly). So finding dishes that are HEALTHY and FILLING and YUMMY without half (sometimes over half) of the readily available vegetables can be a trial. It’s really no wonder that I’m failing every few days. But I keep working. I keep finding new recipes. I keep pinning pins to pinterest. I will keep this diet going. Even if I do sneak some beef jerky and mustard every once in a while.

Some healthy foods make me sick…but that doesn’t mean I can’t be healthy anyway.

Review: Elemental Island

elemental island

Summary: Astie has always been different. Her 12th birthday is looming and she still has not decided on her thesis. All the Learners at the Hub picked theirs years ago. If it wasn’t for her cousin, Jakob, life would be unbearable on Elemental Island. On the verge of being diagnosed with Social Syndrome, she stumbles upon Danny who has landed in a forbidden flight machine….(continued here)

Age Level: Middle Grade (ages 8-13)

Genre: Adventure (with low level Sci-Fi feels)

Pages: 224 (hardcover)

Published: December 2015 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

This book is a celebration of differences. In a world where everyone loves logic, order, and alone time, main character Astie is on the verge of turning 12 with no scientific thesis to obsess over and an enjoyment of spending time with people, and hugs, that is going to get her shunned as having what is known as Social Syndrome. Of course, Astie winds up saving the day. But I will leave it to you to discover just how she does it.

I enjoyed this book very much. It was a quick read, coming in at only a few hours in one of my days to read it, but the storyline has stuck with me. The world Ms. Hoopmann created is a logical, scientific narrative of what an island full of fully functioning autistic humans might be like. They are secluded. They are safe. They have no contact with an outside world, because there isn’t one (as far as they know). They like it that way, and if anyone starts being too social, or illogical, or touchy feely. Well they might have to be retrained. This flip-flop of what we normally see in books made me happy and excited to read on. I really liked the interactions between our main character and her family and friends. They were written true to how someone with non-neurotypical tendencies might speak and react, which I really appreciated.

This book earned 3.5 dragons from me. Go check it out.

 

Review: The Midnight Queen

midnight queen

Summary: In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…(more here)

Pages: 417

Published: 2014 Ace

 

I’m not going to lie to you here. I requested to review this book (from Blogging for Books) because of the cover. If you’ve been around awhile, you probably already know of my obsessions with owls. Well…that explains that right? It probably wouldn’t have mattered what the book was about, honestly. However, I have happy to report that it turned out to be a fabulous historical fiction/fantasy novel.

This book delights with a beautiful mixture of historical fiction and magical elements, adventuresome bits and slow romance, and some strong leads of both female and male variety. The scholarship and work of magic delights me to no end, and Ms. Hunter’s work here is no exception. Well done, delightful, and interesting.

This book gets a 4 out of 5 dragons. If you enjoy adventure, fantasy, and historical fiction all rolled into one very European bundle, I suggest you go grab your very own copy and give it a read.

Adulting: The Game Show

Does anyone else ever feel like adulting is like the weirdest game show ever?

I am currently searching for a teaching job. When you’ve been interviewing and discussing possible classrooms and assignments, some conversations start making you giggle (hopefully to yourself). One such comment that has come across a couple of times is “you are a finalist for the position.” While that feels amazing to hear…it has also made me start feeling like I made it to the last step in a game.

Any minute now the deep announcer voice will come over hidden speakers and say something like: CONGRATULATIONS ELIZABETH! If you win, your prize is to be placed in a room with 15 mid-elementary students that you must teach mathematics, social skills, how to not pick their noses in public, and what a comma is used for. Good Luck!

And you know what, I really want to win this particular game!

Waiting

*This Post is a Rambling Personal Chat*

 

I feel like I could write a book, or at least few essays, on waiting at this point.

The list of things I’m waiting on seems to get longer by the day. Whether it be with writing (hearing back from agents, trying to figure out how to get my self-published works out there more, etc), teaching (waiting for interviews, to hear back from interviews, just trying to get a job!), things on the more personal front, or even results from exercising, I feel like I spend the vast majority of my time waiting. The worst part is that all this waiting is making me more anxious, stressed, and depressed than I usually am.

Talking to friends and family about it isn’t really much of an option either at the moment. We’ve had a discussion or two and they’ve moved on to their own things. I see no reason to burden them with my ever growing list of anxiety inducing ‘wait for its.’ But that then leaves the burning question: How does one gracefully ‘wait for it?’

I know that God will put me on the path I am meant to be on. I know that I just have to have the faith and fortitude to keep going and working toward my goals. But I always find myself praying that my loved ones are ok, that they get through what they’ve been waiting for, and then I later realize that I’m still holding on to mine. It’s all very muddled and achy and my usual coping mechanisms or writing, reading, and Netflix or Hulu haven’t been helping lately. I’m tired of being tired. I’m sick of feeling sick. I’m so fed up with not caring about what goes on around me.

With all that having been said (whined *sigh*) the question is this: How do you deal with waiting? Do you have any special rituals, techniques, or other things that help you when you’re having to stress and wait? Would you mind sharing them with me?

I hope that you are all having a fabulous week! See you soon!

 

 

Motivation, Life Stuff, Trying to be Healthy

This post is something a bit different from usual…although I guess posting anything at all at this point is different from usual 😛 As many of you may know, I’ve been struggling to maintain motivation in a lot of things. I thought I was quit of smoking, didn’t have one for three years, and then started up again and have been struggling to quit a second time. I started exercising regularly and eating more healthy foods…then got depressed and stopped caring. I didn’t take my medicines for PCOS, I stopped exercising, I binged and snacked and stopped even the most basic of water drinking. I laid around on my butt and didn’t even find the energy to do my writing. (You may have noticed even FEWER posts from me) While I had a few spurts of creativity and spurts of reading and writing, I have been nowhere near regular with any of it.

That is changing this week, today, RIGHT NOW! I have exercised at least 25 minutes 3 out of the last 4 days (I was sick one day…no pushing too hard!). I didn’t want to. I wanted to sit, I wanted to binge watch a show or just play pointless games on my phone. Instead, I went out and exercised. I pushed past the anxiety of ‘what if I can’t’ and ‘what if there are PEOPLE’ and I went. I ignored my anxiety at telling my family I wanted to eat better and not go out as much, they actually really dug the idea! My best friend, who has started exercising for at least 25-30 minutes a day and eating smaller portions etc., has been an amazing support, pushing me to believe I can…and to go and do it!

Today I took my daughter to the library for the summer reading program hour they have on Monday’s. While I waited for their hour to be up, I wandered around and checked a few areas I don’t normally attempt with a 4 yr old. I didn’t mean to check out any books for myself today…I checked out 7. BUT, 3 of those were cookbooks. Mom is a vegetarian and I found 2 cookbooks for her and, more exciting for me, I found a cookbook by Lisa Lillien called “Hungry Girls 200 UNDER 200″…a book of 200 recipes that each have less that 200 calories per serving…and guys, I CANNOT WAIT to try a lot of these! They look and sound amazing.

I’m working out. I’m eating better. I’m drinking more water. I’ve gone almost 3 full days without a cigarette twice in the past week…I have none right now and intend for it to stay that way. I’ve been working on a new novel and getting ready for Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I’m reading a few good books and, man, I am fired up to be the healthiest, mentally and physically, that I can be! Hopefully, I can keep this up and make it a habit this time!

I would love to hear about your stories….are you working on something like this? Let me know how you stay motivated, how you keep your wits about you and emotions in check, and what your favorite part about the journey is.

Have a great day everyone!

When God Made You | Picture Book Review

When God Made You

by Matthew Paul Turner

Illustrated by David Catrow

A picture book of verse all about how God made,

and is proud of, the child reading it.

This  book is well written, beautifully illustrated, and just a bit too repetitive for my taste. It felt as though the author had a great idea and then pushed to hard, stretched too far, and made something that should have been beautiful and reassuring into something that felt forced and too long. Had the book been a few pages shorter, we (my daughter and I) probably would have given it 4.5 stars/dragons. As it stands, I give the book 4 dragons for the whimsical and adorable illustrations, and 2.5 dragons for the elongated storyline.

Overall, we are rating this book 3 dragons. It is very cute and an interesting read for young children, but ultimately too long and redundant for my taste.

*I received this from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own*

Beautiful NonFiction

In a Different Key: The story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker was so much more than, and yet also exactly, what I though it would be. I wanted, needed, to know the history of this developmental difference and what this book provided was a history richly woven together in a well written, entertaining narrative that kept me engaged and learning throughout the massive book.

The narrative writing style almost lets the reader imagine that this is not the factual history of a vastly misunderstood mental anomaly, but instead some sort of historical novel to dive in to. The beginning story of the first (known) autistic child is interesting entertaining, and heart wrenching…and the book doesn’t slow down after that.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 dragons. If you’re looking to know more about autism, I definitely reccommend this work!

*I was provided this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review*

One Liner…Or: the inspiration I get From Work

I know I haven’t posted in a while guys. I am very sorry about that! I keep thinking I’ll get everything scheduled out and be able to be on here more often but…we all know my ability to stick to organization is a bit iffy. However! All hope is not lost!

Today I wanted to talk to you for just a second about the types of inspiration I get at work. See, I am a music teacher for pre-k – 12th grade students. My children’s and Middle Grade stories are fueled through real life experiences and little character quirks of my ever day existence. However, I don’t usually get a lot of inspiration out of my 7th-12th graders. Every once in a while that does change…last week, for example, we were doing a group project in the Jr. High class. When it came time to perform, a couple of groups either didn’t have anything done OR were very obviously only carried by one or two lead girls. I don’t say this to be sexist, it is fact: The boys just didn’t want to do the work and expected their girl folk to carry them. So later that evening I texted this line to myself:

The problem with hiding behind the girls’ skirts so that you don’t have to do the work is that those skirts keep getting shorter, and you do not.

I know it isn’t much, but sometimes the smallest line can start off the greatest story. Maybe this will be that line! Or maybe it will sit here, lonely in its italics. I guess only time will tell.

 

Narrative Nonfiction: My Dental Distress

Have you ever heard of something called “Ludwig’s Angina”? No, No…ANGINA dear, mind out of the gutter please. So have you? No? Neither had I until a few days ago. It can be pretty scary stuff, involving medically cut throats, infections, possibly suffocation…Oh my, you are looking a little pale there. Are you feeling ok hun? Maybe we should try this a little differently: Ok then, what is it that the children say? Oh yes, STORY TIME!

It all started late on Thursday afternoon. As the work day wound down, my mouth randomly started to twinge. I took some ibuprofen and thought no more about it until the following day. Unfortunately, by the end of school on Friday I was drowning in pain killers. At supper I was unable to eat my French fries and I knew that something had to be done…so I got some tooth numbing gel and went to bed.

Saturday morning found me in pain, exhausted, and driving the two hours to my parent’s place so my kid could hang out with them. Though I had just woken up before making the trek, by the time lunch was finished I could barely stay awake.  I passed out immediately upon laying down for nap time, my daughter sneaking out to watch television with her Gaga.  3 hours later I woke up, still exhausted, still in pain, and with a new bout of swelling along my jaw and under my chin. Yes, under my chin. I looked a bit like a bullfrog. Mom immediately kicked me out and sent me to Urgent Care, where I was diagnosed with an abscess and given pain pills and penicillin. A few days later my dentist drilled a hole in the canine causing the problems, tsked at the amazing amount of infection and swelling (SO FAST! I’ve never seen something like this before!) and scheduled a root canal for the following week. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t make it that long.

Not only did the pain and swelling refuse to dissipate, it worsened. My dentist appointment had been on Tuesday; Thursday morning I awoke groggy, running a 100.4 temperature, and with even worse swelling under my chin…which was pressing on my throat and causing difficulty in breathing.

I called the dentist, I called my mother, and I took the kid to school and had them call a sub.  Two hours later, my mother checked the kid out of school, picked me up, and headed us toward a specialist.

With a brief stop to drop them off and swap to my dad driving, I made a 5 hour drive to the specialist. Who, after a cursory inspection, (I’ve NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE!) called an oral surgeon and had us rush across town to the next office.

The oral surgeon (young, adorable…regretfully seeing me at my worst) comes back after his work hours and, when he could not convince me to go to the hospital overnight for antibiotic drip, finally removed the offending tooth. (SIDE NOTE: As he was numbing my mouth, the song “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you” came on. We shared a healthy giggle as the nurse’s looked on with confused worry).

Even after the removal, Dr. Cutie tried to send my to the hospital and it’s IV drips, but I out stubborned him and Dad and I set our wheels toward home. Per orders, and on threat on being taken back in for a tracheostomy if I provoked the swelling any more, I spent Thurs evening thru Sunday afternoon doing little more than sleeping and whining.

Though I probably should have taken more time off, I went on to school on Monday. Those first couple of days we hellacious. My mouth continued to pain me, the extra cuts left open to drain the infection making even the act of licking my lips excruciating. I had to sleep sitting up for a week, and wear a face mask in the classroom for two.

the swelling started to go down about a week after that first trip to the doctor, but even now (almost 3 weeks since it all began) the discomfort lasts.

According to all three dentists and one doctor (All who had “never seen this before”) I probably shouldn’t have been able to wake up that Thursday morning to get into surgery. Ludwig’s Angina  is reasonably rare and can lead to suffocation…if I had arrived to surgery as swollen as I’d been upon waking, a tracheostomy would have been the immediate next step.

I’m just happy to be able to hear a voice near me without the need to cry at the pressure of the vibrations hitting my jaw now.

 

*this has been a true recounting of the insanity that hit my mouth over the past few weeks.*