day three: manic Monday

I made it. It’s day three of the juice cleanse. I could quit now and have fulfilled my goal.

But I want to go on and complete a five-day regiment.

I’m addicted to my juices. I think about them second only to how much I think about shoes. Well, maybe third to how much I think about shoes and George Clooney.

I expected today to be a challenge because I had to venture outside the comfort zone of my house, where I knew I wouldn’t encounter temptation because the Executive Chef (i.e. me) wasn’t making anything noteworthy. However, while the smell of coffee at the office was divine, it didn’t send me over the edge. I toted three juices to work with me (green, spicy lemonade and a delicious cucumber-grapes-pears-ginger combo). I was strategically out during the lunch hour so I don’t know what my colleagues ate. What I miss most about solid food is definitely the social aspect. It would have been nice to have lunch today with my friend Beth (though she was very understanding and we rescheduled to “snack” next week). I’m without the kids this week and it would be fun to go out to dinner and have a glass (or two) of wine. By Thursday, I can. And I plan to do just that.

I’m a competitive spirit but only recently has this bug afflicted me in a goal-setting sort of way. When I was contemplating whether to hang up my juicer tonight, I thought, “why register for the 10K when there’s a half marathon?” So after work I went to spin, back to the grocery store for more produce and came  home to make two more days worth of juices.

Now, at the end of my day, I’m enjoying my hard-earned cashew milk.

I hardly know who I am!

day two: energized

What can I say? I feel good. As I mentioned, I had a great night’s sleep last night. This morning, I went to a kick-ass spin class and cheered on my friend Rayanne, who today completed a personal challenge of her own, to complete 32 spin classes in 26 days (by her 32nd birthday). I went home and had a juice, of course, then did an hour of yard work, including placing my new compost bin. I figured if I was making as much pulp as my juicer makes, now is as good of time as any to start something I should have being doing already. (Composting was also on my 43 by 43 list.)

Showered. Did laundry. Watered the plants until it started to rain. Hosted two additional kids for a play date. Made tomorrow’s juice. Took a 20-minute power nap. Rearranged Colin’s room. And most importantly, I decided to extend this challenge two extra days.

Unless the headache sets in tomorrow, that is.

day one: tolerable

green juice, spicy lemonade and the beet concoction

One of the reasons I’ve never been drawn to cleanses is that I really like solid food. I love the texture. I love the flavor. I love salt, butter and the delicacy of a perfect goat cheese or a melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon.

But I’m in a cleansing mode in other capacities. I’ve done closet and drawer purges for the boys and me. I “weeded out” the toys in their playroom. I’ve consolidated memorabilia. And I’ve tried to embrace happiness rather than obsessing about worry after worry. So in the spirit of this attempt to let go of the left rope (I’ll go into depth on this analogy another day) it seemed like an appropriate time to take on an internal cleanse. Plus, Nancy is out of town this weekend so temptation will be minimized.

In advance of the cleanse, I gave up caffeine a few days ago. I haven’t had any wine since Tuesday. And for 14 hours on Saturday, I drank my meals.

My day went something like this:

6:45 hot lemon water

7:15 green juice (celery, kale, cucumber, spinach, granny smith apples, parsley, lemon)

8:00-9:00 spin class

10:00 second green juice

12:15 first fruit juice, a combo of pineapple, granny smiths and mint

4:30 spicy lemonade

7:00 juice of carrots, beets, celery, apples, lemon

9:00 cashew milk (aka dessert)

I did better than expected but I won’t say it was easy. I almost licked the peanut butter knife after making the kids toast. I then had to make them lunch (more peanut butter) and dinner (leftover tacos). At soccer practice, one of the parents had the grill going and made hotdogs for all the kids. I hate hotdogs, but they sure did smell good. Kate and Rob asked if the kids and I wanted to go to dinner with them. It was hard to say no.

But I didn’t need to nap. I didn’t get too cross. I got only one headache when I stood up too quickly, and it immediately went away.

I don’t know what today holds, but after getting nine hours of sleep, I jumped out of bed. No headache. No fatigue. No cravings for my son’s peanut butter toast (yes, they eat a lot of peanut butter) or even for my typical morning latte.

Off to spin!

juicing

fruits and vegetables + juicer = green juice

I’m not really a person who runs from fad to fad. I bought my neon orange cross-body bag last summer before shades of tangerine tango were omnipresent. I was late to the Facebook, twitter, foursquare game. I don’t try to get reservations at the hot new restaurant anywhere close to opening night. And when it comes to breakthrough diets and revolutionary eating plans, they definitely do not appeal to me.

I had heard people talk about “juicing” but the idea of a juice cleanse did not appeal to me. Until a week ago, that is. I was inspired by the spintastic Ingrid at Biker Barre, who did a five-day cleanse last week and still managed to teach some of the most kick ass classes at the studio. A juice cleanse, one that really allows you to drink your fruits and vegetables sounded appealing to me, unlike the Master Cleanse Gwyneth Paltrow swears by, though she can do it because she has servants to run her life while she hallucinates on a diet of lemon water with cayenne.

I’m following the BluePrint Cleanse (BPC) but instead of purchasing their pre-made juices, I’m making my own, in my new juicer, at a fraction of the cost. (BPC charges $11/bottle x 6 bottles/day for 3-5 days. That’s a lot of shoe money.) After consulting both Consumer Reports and my most recent edition of Food and Wine Magazine, I purchased the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor. This juicer scored one point lower than the highest rated model but at a lower price point.

I have the BPC recipes and I chose to do the introductory version (“Renovation”) for three days because I’m not quite as hard core as Ingrid. And because I love solid food.

If you want to come over this weekend for a jar of green juice (kale, apples, romaine leafs, celery, cucumber, parsley, spinach and lemon juice) or maybe a concoction of beets, carrots, and ginger, you are more than welcome. But please don’t bring a bottle of wine or vodka. I’m sure spiking your green juice is very much against the rules.

weekend warriors

Last year, I wrote about the “book club for home improvement” group that I belong to, Weekend Warriors. My friend Kara already expressed how fantastic this group of families is on her blog, so instead of repeating her declarations of love for these friends, I’ll let a picture (or collage) tell a thousand words.

On Saturday, the Warriors came to my house, read the list I had prepared in advance, and conquered my projects. We painted the living room. We installed surround sound (and by “we” I mean a team of guys led by Neil, an Emmy-winning sound technician for NPR) and the backyard was laboriously cleared of the weeds and debris that had been encroaching on my house. The kids potted flowers for my front stoop. We painted the exterior of my front and back doors. Emily (and kids) power washed the side of my house. Curtain rods were hung in the playroom-slash-office, and Ritzer removed the door that had served as a barrier between this room and the rest of the house. Rob (and kids) made a cork board out of exactly 128 wine corks. Afterwards, we ate three different types of chili. We drank beer. We drew for 2013 months.

There had been a moment as we neared the four-hour mark when I looked around and thought to myself, “I have a long night of work ahead of me once the whistle blows and everyone leaves.” But no one put a brush down or otherwise stopped working until the work was done. In fact, a few guys are coming over later this week to make the wires to my speakers “pretty.”

The entire process made me teary, though by my own rules, there’s no crying in Warriors. There is dreaming though of my 2013 turn, coming in April, a perfect month to really landscape that yard of mine. In the meantime, I will enjoy the process of participating in other people’s projects. (It’s much less stressful to go into someone else’s house and tackle their needs than it is to manage your own.) And every time I see the results of the hard work of these good friends, I smile.

on george clooney

If it were socially acceptable for me to have a poster of George Clooney in my bedroom, I totally would.

It’s fair to say I think about him often. Maybe even everyday. I mean, not in a scary stalker sort of way. I don’t want to marry him. After all, I know he isn’t the marrying type. But if he met me, wouldn’t he be so charmed by my wit that he would want to whisk me off to Lake Como for a weekend? That’s all I’m looking for from him. No pressure.

And here’s how a modern (and female) Walter Mitty contemplates potentially meeting him. When I fly, I dream this is the time he’ll be stuck in coach, sitting next to me, of course. We strike up conversation while stuck on the tarmac for 5 hours, thus later when we are in the air and hit massive turbulence, he already knows I have a mild fear of flying and holds my hand to comfort me. Or when I’m eating out, I imagine he’s there rubbing shoulders with some of DC’s political elite. After dinner, he comes to the bar where I’m drinking a glass of sparkling and engages me in a conversation about climate change. Sparks fly. In some fantasies he’s testifying on the Hill and manages to escape a throng of admirers and reporters by jumping into an elevator that I happen to be in. We get stuck, of course. By the time the maintenance crew frees us, he’s asked for my phone number.

Sadly, the one time I literally crossed his path, I didn’t know until after the fact. In March when he was arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy, I happened to drive by the scene. I saw the protesters, who held up traffic such that I feared being late for my appointment. But I never for one minute imagined George Clooney would be among the crowd. If I had given it any thought, I would have parked my car, scribbled a sign out of some of the kids’ art materials that litter the back of my car and joined the cause. (Except for the going to jail part.)

Anyway, it’s these Clooney-dominated thoughts that inspired me to write my short story.

Yes, the short story. The one I’ve alluded to a number of times now. The one that diverts my creative energy away from the blog. If you haven’t guessed by now, my story features the dreamy Mr. Clooney. I’m about to take a leap and place my story in the hands of an editor. On the top of my to do list is to read the fine print in the Terms of Service for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. Oh, and I have more than half of the sequel already in the works.

If my story is a wild success, I just might follow in my dad’s footsteps and score an invite to be on the Daily Show. Of course, Jon Stewart will secretly arrange for George Clooney to make a guest appearance while I’m there. After taping, George (“may I call you George?”) asks me to take a walk through Central Park, and enjoys my company so much, we make plans for dinner. In Paris.

Maybe it would be healthier to indulge in that poster after all.

on growing up

Kids will be kids. Until they aren’t. And when does that process begin? Each milestone from their first giggles and steps to riding a bike and everything in between prepares our children for the path to independence, and eventually (or rather, inevitably) adulthood.

On Saturday, Jack flew to San Francisco to spend a week with his grandfather. This trip was born out of a teary declaration he made several months ago that went something like this:

Jack: Mommy (sob, hiccup) I’m an adventurous spirit (sob, hiccup) and (sob, hiccup) I just realized (sob, hiccup) I’m never going to get to slay a dragon.

(Yes, the poor child inherited my flare for the dramatic.)

Dragons might not be real, but cross country flights are, so I quickly arranged with my dad for Jack to fly out to San Francisco the last week of summer vacation. (Yes, we start school on August 20th.) At the time, the trip seemed so far off. But before I knew it, I was driving him to the airport and watching him as he pulled his own suitcase through the terminal. As if that weren’t grown up behavior enough, as we waited out the delay, he asked if he could have a decaf coffee. It felt like a landmark moment, sitting there at the Starbucks drinking our lattes. For the record, I now have a decaf vanilla latte with whip fanatic on my hands.

If he was scared or nervous, he didn’t show it, but I was roiled inside. All my own flying angst was multiplied by infinity, but I knew I couldn’t show it. I was light. I was airy. We joked. We bought extra books just in case he finishes Lord of the Rings. An hour and a half after our schedule departure time came the call to board unaccompanied minors. He gave me one last hug and walked away with the gate attendant without looking back once.

Me? I collapsed in a heap of tears for the next 45 minutes while waiting (as I was required to do) for his plane to be in the air.

Was I scared his plane would crash? Oddly, no. Was I afraid he wasn’t going to have a good time or that my dad wouldn’t take care of him? Absolutely not. But more than how I expect I will feel with his first shave, first love, or the deepening of his voice, watching my little boy march bravely toward an adventure without me struck a chord deep inside my mommy core.

He’s always going to be my baby, but he’s growing into such a little man.