It's been an interesting couple of months. About six weeks ago, Erik's colleague was called to jury duty. He mentioned this the day before he went off, leaving the department momentarily scrambling to cover his class that day. This was accompanied by the mild sense of forboding that comes with a call to jury duty: is this one day, or the start of something much bigger? Well, indeed, the colleague was called to be on the jury for the following four weeks. He didn't mention when asked that there might be consequences like there's no one to sub for things like Organic Chemistry and he had 90 students finishing the final four weeks of a year long cycle. He just figured he had to do it so he did. It wasn't til about ten days in that he started realizing what he'd done. For the first two weeks, Erik managed to cover teaching all of his classes and all of that guy's O-Chem. The rest of the department pitched in as they could to teach his Gen Chem classes. Then Erik had a conference to go to (and present at) and other folks had stuff come up, and suddenly classes were getting canceled right and left, material was being taught in a scattered and underprepared way, and he had little idea what they'd learned in order to write exams. I feel sorry for any of those students who have to go forward in a Chemistry or medical major. Yes, jury duty is a responsibility, but it's also your responsibility to speak up and say, "It would have this impact, and I could do this during my summer vacation instead and not harm anyone." But I'm also fairly certain he didn't want to lose his vacation time to jury duty so... things happened. This also meant that Erik was now teaching two additional days a week at 7:30 a.m., leaving me to get Athena to school four out of five days all on my own. I was displeased.
But, we survived it. Much like Dickens season where it seems fine at first, then strangely gets harder and harder to keep up on the basics by the end and you feel like you just need a week to catch up on all the weird stuff the fell to the wayside. Luckily, just as that concluded, Erik's mom came to town and we did get almost immediately caught up. Ah...
There were birthdays! Erik and I are both May birthdays, so sometimes we opt for a party together and sometimes not. This year I organized an escape room game for his birthday at Ryptic in San Mateo. It was super fun and we got out with time to spare - 47 minutes! To make it extra fun, our GM was Mae Linh. It was a treat to get to see her (and Mike too!) outside of con.
Of course Erik asked me a few days later, "So what do you want to do for your birthday?" I said, "Uh... well, the escape room was fun. Want to do that again?" So off we went to the Real Escape Game in San Jose for another thrilling adventure. Technically we didn't win, but we still had a good time and we'd figured it out, but we hadn't figured out the sole working solution the room would accept.
This was followed with Mexican dinner at home and a few rounds of CodeNames. Now having played it a few times, we finally succumbed and bought a copy.
We participated in the Tesla Family Fun Run. Here I learned that 5k sounds far, but it's actually less than I walk on a normal day. I also got to walk on our test track for the first time. It is steep. Cars go fast. Erik got to walk through the factory (and even see stamping in action!) and Athena rolled on her balance bike like a pro. Then there was a a bounce house and a helicopter and other fun stuff. We retired to Rubio's for lunch and promptly bumped into the Famdamily - Chris, Jen, Adam, etc. A tasty lunch was had and we headed home.
At the starting line
Off we go!
Goofing with the Model S on the track
The Fox's have started hosting movie nights in their front yard. We opted to let Athena watch The Princess Bride with us. She's scared of shows with bad guys, so I was ready to eject at any time, but amusingly, the Peter Falk asides like, "She doesn't get eaten by the eels you know." actually helped break the tension for her. I could feel her start to tense up in my lap, and then he'd break the tension for Fred Savage, and it would work for her too. Totally awesome. The movie doesn't look the least bit dated. The only thing I notice now is how completely freaking useless Buttercup is. She's so bloody helpless it's painful. But, otherwise, it's still an amazingly perfectly delightful movie, and Athena liked it. Win!
We went to Derby Day at the Hodges and enjoyed good times with mint juleps, large hats, and horse racing. I bet on a horse named Danzing Candy just because I loved the name. It was a treat to see their place and see Cliff and Debby. Their twins are now 4, and they've welcomed a new little boy to their home too because they're braver souls than I.
Hats and mint juleps!
We hit the Sunnyvale Art & Wine festival on Sunday this year. We quickly found Athena Lendvay, who had both Lorelei and Connor in tow. We toured around and got them a couple rides and got faces painted for Lorelei and Athena. A few small purchases made and a trip through Target and we headed back home. That's when I realized my sunblock was totally inadequate. For whatever reason, the sun bit a lot of folks I know that weekend, and at least my burn was far less bad than James at work who dozed off on the beach in Santa Cruz. Still, sunburns are evil.
Rainbow unicorn fabulousness
Finally, on June 8th, Karen arrived. We were so happy to see her. Oh my goodness. The wheels were coming off the wagon. Athena took this picture on the way home from the airport:
Yay! You're here!
The big highlight of the trip this time was Athena's first ballet recital. My mom made it down for the recital too, so Athena had a big cheering section. She and Clementine were completely adorable. We had dinner afterwards at Orchestria Palm Court, which I absolutely adore. Their rib eye is so very tasty and the self-playing turn-of-the-century instruments are a delight. I still want to go back with everyone in nineteen-teens fashion for an ice cream social. (Seriously - banana split brulee. So much joy.)
Me and my teddy bear
There were many other fine adventures including:
Videotaping the choreography. Editing is still pending.
Rachel's birthday party where we played games and took turns getting a massage from Serita.
Angele's client party at Campo di Bocce which involved a good many of our friends. :) (Also, Athena is getting pretty good at bocce. She was throwing far better than me.)
Going to see my former intern in Rent at SJSU.
Cordelia's birthday party at Pump it Up, where I bounced myself senseless again, like you do.
A run to Alameda for the Fezzi Cast Party, Pasta Night, and Arielle's birthday party.
A night of Gent's and Estrogen combined, with dinner for 18 at Chevy's in Union City.
The summer school session starts Monday. We're ready.
So Erik said, "I haven't heard anything... is this... going okay?"
Yes, yes, it is. Down 8 1/2 pounds, feeling great, and most days couldn't care less than I'm not eating some old favorites. The payoff is well worth it. Clothes are fitting more comfortably. My gut is way less grouchy and I feel far less muzzy headed. I'm less tired all the time. I'm looking forward to moving forward.
There was this one day last week when the catering at work had hand-made soft pretzels to go with the German luncheon (schnitzel, bratwurst, saurkraut). That was hard to pass up when I was hungry. I talked myself down by saying, "Okay, eat your salad and cheese first and if you still really want one that bad, you can have it." I finished my salad and I was stuffed actually. I put back half my cheese in the fridge. No pretzel. No room. So yeah, that worked great. But man were they pretty pretty pretzels.
But changing a digit in the second column and keeping it off for more than a week feels great. Haven't seen those two initial digits in a while. Now to just keep going til it drops a couple of more from that column. Once that happens, then I can spoil myself with one soft pretzel if I want to. Current goal is to drop another 30 pounds or so total. We'll see how it goes.
This weekend was pretty far off the reservation in terms of calories on Sunday. There was fondue. It was super yummy. But stuck to the veggies instead of the bread and it was all good. Today I was so not even hungry at lunch after my workout. Turns out I can dead lift 95 pounds five times in a row. That's interesting. I can also bench press 7 1/2 pounds more than I could a month ago, so that's good.
I'm down six and a half pounds now and feeling fantastic. Better than I've felt in years. My brain feels less foggy. I'm less tired. That's huge. Also dresses that were feeling tight are feeling more comfortable. All good things.
Cooking is easy. Super easy. And yummy. Eating out is a little challenging, but all the attention to gluten-free means those items are often an easy spot to start on the menu. Here's last night's dinner:
Chicken, romaine, avocado, onions, cheese and chipotle ranch dressing
The thing that annoys me about food tracking is that there's so much guessing. Is this an ounce? Or two? That salad dressing I dripped on - was that one or two tablespoons. Was that a 1/4 cup of milk in that splash I poured in my coffee at work? I have no idea. It's not like I've got measuring cups and spoons everywhere I go (and I'm not going to start carrying them. NFW.). So it's all best guess. Was the hummus I ate the kind that's 370 calories for a half cup or the kind that's 200 calories? I got it at a restaurant so there's not way to know. And then there's the process. Logging a salad typically involves 9 line items. My morning coffee involves four line items. It's a time sink, so I don't expect that to be part of my life long term. It's not sustainable.
And again, the margin of error on weight gain to gain one pound per year is 10-20 calories a day. So knowing exactly matters at some level, but trying to know is an exercise in embracing madness. It's a great tool to get started on a new way of eating. It's great to see what reasonable meals look like. It's great to review what you've done over a period of time. It's great to do here and there for stretches. But daily? Forever? Yeah, no.
I logged every food and beverage I consumed. I ate no flour, no corn, no rice, no sugar and so on. I dialed in over the week and found it easier as I went along. I logged 50-100 grams of carbs per day and it was okay. The new Poke trend is my friend. Two nights of poke bowls were a delight. I tested three tools for tracking food: My Plate, Lose It, and My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal has a terrible web interface so after one try I was out of there. Lose it is good, and always puts your prior items at the top of type-ahead search list, so it's quick to enter each item, but you still have to enter each item. Like one cup of coffee for me is 8 ounces of brewed coffee, 8 ounces of brewed decaf coffee, and 1/2 cup of milk. I have to type all that up every single morning. On My Plate, it has a favorite meals feature where I made Morning Coffee. Now all I have to type is Mor and it offers Morning Coffee. It also has a breakdown of each line you enter so that you can easily spot sneaky carbs and tune accordingly. This is great for salad bar choices. However, My Plate doesn't talk to Fitbit and Lose It does, thus I have done double entry for a week to decide what I think is the best way to go. Hrmmm. The weirdest food thing all week was that I went to see Rent in downtown San Jose. I figured I'd grab something on the way, but timing was way too tight. So I waited and figured I'd grab something at intermission if it got dire. But... it didn't. I went home and had a cheese stick and a pack of almonds for dinner and I was fine. Huh. Perhaps this is the food plan that works for me.
I exercised every day. I felt my Monday class a lot on Tuesday and Wednesday, but I got on the elliptical for 30 minutes both days regardless. I took the elevator once because my thighs said, "Oh god. Not stairs. We can't do stairs." after that. I went to the same class on Thursday, but the instructor was out (she'd warned me) and the gym was overrun with dudes who she normally keeps away from the equipment during her classes. The dudes were deadlifting hundreds of pounds and I was supposed to lie down near there and do some stuff. There was not enough nope in the world. On Friday, I planned to make that up, but Wendy saw me checking out the lunch trucks and said, "Hey! You're free! Want to go over the hill with us?" So off I went over the Matadero Creek trail with Dave O'Gorman, his wife, his intern, and Wendy, and all was right in the world. On Saturday, I taught all day. On Saturday night, I told Athena it was time for her to go to bed. She said, "Why?" I said, "So that I can go to bed." She said, "Why?" I said, "Them's the rules kiddo. Your dad's been on duty all day, so we've got to get you to bed, and then mommy can sleep." She accepted that. I laid down at 8:30 and was lights out at 8:45 and gone by 9. And then I slept til 7 and felt AMAZING. We headed to Cordelia's birthday at Pump it Up and I bounced and climbed and slid myself senseless. That's officially the parent I want to be, so I need to get the sleep and the weight off to do it more.
And then I weighed myself. Those five pounds? Poof. Gone. Yeah, down five pounds in a week. Well that's hugely from my body adjusting to its new intake, and they'd probably pop right back the second I eat the old way. However, if I can retain even 1/4 of that loss week over week, then I'm calling this experiment a huge win. We'll see.
So today is the first day of the rest of my life, right? Okay, new plan.
Six months of logging 70-80,000 steps a week has done little for the bottom line. I don't feel any more fit. I haven't gained strength. I've lost sleep to log steps. Net result: up another five pounds. Harumph.
Meanwhile, a friend had a diabetes diagnosis, went on a plan for diabetics, and promptly lost 25 pounds fairly effortlessly. I eat a lot of high quality veg and meat and some fish, but I've also let carbs creep in, probably too much. So, I'm cutting the sugar, the flour, the potatoes, the corn, the pasta, the rice, the fruity cocktails, the leftover bits of Athena's waffles, the PB&J sandwiches, and the Ben & Jerry's. Today I had a banana and almonds for breakfast and a big salad (there's a new salad bar at work) for lunch full of broccoli, asparagus, carrots, romaine, spinach, and pinto beans.
On Friday, I was on the eliptical earning my steps while there was a strength and conditioning class going on. There was someone there doing it who looked about as out of shape as me, so I got brave at the end of my workout and asked the trainer if there was room in the session as it looked about my speed. There wasn't in that group, but in a group at 11:30 on Monday and 12:15 on Thursdays. I went today for the first time and got super sweaty and didn't trust my legs to go down the stairs safely for the following hour. Of course my Fitbit said I'd earned a few hundred steps and had 0 active minutes in those 45 minutes. Methinks Fitbit may not be the most effective measure of fitness. Just a hunch.
I'm going to give that a few months to play out (probably through August) and see how it goes. I don't want to be thin. I want to be medium sized and happy. I want to eat food, not too much, mostly highly nutrient dense stuff. I want 8 hours of sleep and I'm going to go back to focusing on that over necessarily logging 10k a day.
That said, I don't necessarily expect to win. The research on this is some of the most depressing I have ever read. But I'm willing to try again. I don't like being achy. I don't like feeling slow and unwieldy and made of entirely too much flesh. I don't want to prematurely age my joints. I'll try this. I'll see what happens. We'll see.
I freely admit that counting in months is downright silly at this point. She's 4. That said, I promise myself I'll publish once a month and if I had to come up with a real title, then that might not happen on the same somewhat regular schedule. So, 51 Months it is. (This is going to be really awkward when she's getting her driver's license some time around month 192.)
It's official! Erik got tenure at De Anza.
The big ceremony
This month, Ammy learns there are things she's good at and things she's definitely not good at.
Things Ammy is Good At:
I realized that Stanford Continuing Studies had made a minor transcription error in that I'm teaching two classes for them this quarter for the first time and they had my new Mastering Your Google Account scheduled for the day that the Mastering Your iOS Device class was on my calendar. I'd been thinking for months about how to prepare that class as I interacted with various different Google properties (hello Blogger!) and thought that I was getting close to being ready to start preparing the class. But I figured out the error by sending an email to my iOS class on Monday, April 11th around noontime, and someone replied saying, "Isn't that on May 14th?" There's that gut punch you get where you realized that person is almost certainly right. And you go look it all up online and confirm that they are most definitely right. And then you momentarily completely freak out as you realize you have a week and a half to write the entire class and get it printed, all while doing your day job and having a 4 year old. Yeah. That was a thing. So, I got started. I stayed at work to work on that after hours til the last shuttle left, then grabbed a terrible McChicken sandwich on the way home, ate that while driving the last 2 miles to home, and arrived just in time for tuck-ins and songs. Then once I was done there, cracked open my laptop and spent another 2 1/2 hours working on it. Then I did the same thing on Wednesday. By a few minutes after midnight on Wednesday, I felt like I could've taught it the next day in a pinch. By the end of the weekend, I was ready. I opened it one last time on Wednesday at lunchtime to make sure there weren't any stupid typos (that are freaking invisible til you haven't looked at it for at least two days) and printed it on Thursday. I taught the class on Saturday, April 23rd to a group that seemed very happy when they left, telling me what a great instructor I was and how much they loved this and hoped they would really apply it soon. The class was scheduled from 9:30-4:30, and we wrapped up at 4:20, like a boss, even though I'd never said one single word out loud in prep. I just knew how long it was going to take because sometimes experience is awesome.
Today I had to give an orientation to Toolbox to new firmware engineers. I started the prep yesterday. I had a one hour slot. I gave 30 minutes of orientation and 20 minutes of pitch to create their own articles, wrapping up in time for everyone to be out of the room for the next group. Smooooooooth.
So yeah, I'm good at that. Things Ammy is not so good at:
We've been working on a swing/Bollywood choreography with Anna. It's completely awesome that she's organized and led this. Sadly, I am not good at picking up choreography. Lead/follow dancing is totally my thing. There are many people who I can dance with and with the slightest lean, the tiniest hand movement, or just meeting eyes, I can follow what they're doing, even if I'm not familiar with even the basic footwork of the dance. But memorizing an independent pattern that involves moving in space, doing something specific with my feet, and doing something entirely differently specific with my arms at the same time is way beyond me. This disappoints me terribly. Not only am I letting myself down in this case, I'm letting down a dozen other people who are recording a video on Saturday to show off what we've worked on for two months. I went to rehearsal on the 16th and was introduced to the last section, hoping I'd pick it up quickly since I was necessarily missing the next meeting to teach my Google (nee iOS) class. There were several big new moves - a Charleston thing, a group arm circle thing, a section where we all moved to new positions doing one of three different moves, a swing turn, a Bollywood bounce and arm thing, and a closing group thing. I didn't feel like I got a single one. Not even the swing turn was working. I can follow any swing turn in my sleep, but there I was totally blowing it. The only times I went the right way at all was when I finally stopped trying and just closed my eyes and let people move my body for me. And I was going to miss the last rehearsal and then we were filming the following weekend. So I had a big cry about it all, feeling like a total failure. I emailed Anna to see if maybe I could just child wrangle while she took my place, since she was choreographing not dancing and I didn't want to screw up the video for everyone. But it was on a thread about dresses and shoes, and she skimmed over that part. Then I went off to class and Anna said she'd be taking Joanne's spot because she was in wedding panic. And Erik said what about my spot because I was quitting too. And then they brainstormed a plan and are getting two last minute fill-ins who have way more jazz and ballet experience than me and teaching it to them in two evenings and that's how it will work out, which Erik told me as I was going to sleep after teaching all day Saturday. And then I spent the entire night waking up multiple times feeling like a total asshole. I would never quit a dance if it meant that someone was going to have to scramble to fix it. I've danced bone-tired and injured just to make sure a four hand or an eight hand Irish can go. But I wasn't there, so I couldn't speak for myself. And I wouldn't have needed to if I could've been there at the rehearsal anyway. Net result, Erik told everyone I was a quitter, I feel like a jerk, and I'm going to try to go anyway on Saturday to help them get the video done, all the while feeling like I'd rather never show my face to the group again. So yeah, I'm not good at that.
In news of Athena, she's having a little trouble in Pre-K. She's gone from being one of the oldest, most articulate kids in the yard they share with all the 2 and 3 year olds to being the youngest in the room again, and she doesn't want to go. There's one boy who has been throwing food at her, and there's another girl who gets frustrated with her not doing things right. She takes these things personally. See the above story for background on where she gets it from. I talked to her teacher, who was really not okay with the food throwing and who also was going to chat with the other little girl. Clementine has been out a lot and also occasionally a little withdrawn as she has her own struggles with the transition, so Athena has been sad on school days. She's also taken up biting her nails all of the sudden. For that, I desperately miss Miss Kym. She was always helping them with nail polish activities so Athena never started it before now.
On the plus side, we got great school photos back.
Steve Gardner (who she met at 6 months on the Alaska cruise) used Photoshop magic to improve it.
On Thursday, April 21st, the school called about 3:30 and said Athena had thrown up after nap. Erik ran to school and got her and she threw up again before they made it home. She threw up one more time watching Octonauts. Poor ladybug.
She spent the next day feeling miserable, but bounced right back Saturday morning like nothing had happened. Erik decided to go ahead with the weekend plans, ready to pull back at any moment. This started at dance rehearsal and went on to daytripping to the gamer campout.
After rehearsal, he went up to the Portola Redwoods for the day and Athena had a blast with Lorelei. We all went back the next morning and Connor joined the adventure. We let them run and play while we played some games and we knew they were okay because they'd go running by every few minutes, collecting banana slugs, chasing each other, walking on logs, and so on. We hiked down to the ranger station at Mrs. Lendvay's suggestion to get coloring books and the girls sat and colored by the fire for the next hour. The adults got sucked into a game called CodeNames which is ostensibly about two teams competing against one another but is really about the two people giving clues bonding over how crazy their teams are with their guessing strategy.
Arriving on Daddy's shoulders with cookies from Rachel
Coloring by the fire with Lorelei
Walking on a log
A performance upon the stage
Earlier in the month we went to San Jose Fantasy Faire. Now, I'll admit I was pretty down on the fantasy faire concept originally. I mean, Ren Faire was about a certain amount of historical accuracy and trying to give people an understanding of another time, and fantasy fair was just cheating. But really, it's been a good long time since Ren Faire was about Elizabethan or Tudor England in any serious way. There's Ottomans wearing lame. There's Germans marching around England. I'm not buying historically accurate. Fantasy faire rips the band-aid off and is actually a nice alternative to the overly serious Ren Faire attitude. And Athena LOVED it. She danced on stage with the Pryanksters for Jenny Pluck Pears and Sellinger's Round and Ring Around the Rosy. She had storytime with mermaids and climbed all over a pirate ship and rode a giant unicorn.
Getting ID bands on Friday night in the rain
Sitting with the mermaids
Tickling Daddy in the stocks
Aboard the pirate ship
With her rain boots under her dress
Snuggling with Sarah
With Rapunzel, Elsa, and Anna
Dancing on stage with the Pryanksters
Pryanksters of Fantasy Faire 2016
Hugs from the fairy queen
Vlad the Unicorn
Erik got to go observe Athena's dance class this week. We love her ballet teacher. She keeps the kids on task and focused. They're really learning. I really hope this gives her skills she'll use throughout her life.
Finally, our house sale closed escrow. Ten years later, my house was worth what I could've sold it for in 2006! Yay! The best part is that we were able to sell it to a friend who'd been experiencing the same market problems we'd experienced - getting outbid and watching prices rise above the ability to save. So congratulations to Susanne! I hope the house treats you as well as it treated me over the years.
And now, your moment of Zen.
Because that's the face of love when your kid decides to make faces at you while you pee.
The end of March was utter madness in our household. It was:
finals for Erik's classes.
end of quarter at Tesla and I got sucked into Model X documentation in the war room at the Factory with much of my day's work being projected on a wall as I did it. No pressure!
putting our old house in San Jose on the market and selling it.
running our neighborhood Easter Egg hunt for the first time.
launching Model 3.
So, we've um, lost cohesion. We're okay. Now. Thanks. But if we seemed to fall of the edge of the planet briefly, it's because we kind of did. There was too much. Let's sum up.
The house is sold. We had multiple offers. It went to someone who really deserved to win. We're closing escrow before the end of this month.
Athena has been so completely adorable that Erik spend a lot of time staring at each other silently mouthing, "Oh my god can she be any more adorable? Seriously?"
Easter went well. It started with an Easter basket from the Foxes. Athena took us on a merry chase through the house following the fallen eggs.
Then came the local neighborhood tradition. 15 kids across a dozen or so houses, going from house to house to hunt eggs and ending in one neighbor's back yard for mimosas and snacks. We're not quite sure how we landed in such an awesome little neighborhood, but we did. The Bakers started the tradition ten years ago, but their kids are grown, so we're taking over. I learned how to do layers on a Google Map to make a map of participating houses in the neighborhood. It was a cool trick, and one I'll use in my Google class in May.
All the egg hunters
The older kids helped direct traffic
Afters at the Whites
Since Athena Lendvay's dad was in town, she hosted Easter dinner. We ate too much, then headed out to Lorelei's school to walk it off. Athena will follow Lorelei anywhere.
We've had two rounds of Erik's all-day Runequest game. One was on a Saturday, so Rob, T, and Danielle all came by at the end for a little unwinding. Athena sees these folks maybe six times a year, but in moments, she was showing off her trucks, climbing into Rob's lap to explain to him about the Octonauts, and goofing around with T. It's nice that she trusts our friends so deeply.
Give me your arm.
You're required to cuddle me.
Here T, let me tell you about Captain Barnacles
The second Runequest day, Athena and I headed out to Happy Hollow and Jeff and Connor joined us there.
Sea horse sillies
Thanks for the bell Ethan!
Sharing a ladybug
Sophie was in a mood
I have touched a Model 3. It was one of the ones on stage. It was a real car. It was a very pretty little baby. And it was comfy in both the back seats and the driver's seat. I am so on the list.
Anna organized a dance rehearsal/performance group with babysitting because she wanted to dance more and because too many of us weren't doing that because of kids. So, we're learning a crazy swing/Bollywood fusion dance choreography on Saturday mornings. That should be wrapping up at the end of April. I feel hopelessly out of step and incompetent, but at least I'm moving. We'll post the video when it's all done. In our fantasy world we're this cool: