Friday, February 8, 2019

What's Hard About Life in Mexico (For Me)

Life in Mexico is pretty incredible, really. I actually feel like I have too much time (and too little money) on my hands which is mostly pretty luxurious, at least for the short term. The weather is incredible -- lately it swings from low forties to high seventies or even warmer each day. People are incredibly friendly. It's required to say "Buenas dias!" and pause before starting any business transaction, and to kiss on the cheek any acquaintance you encounter in the street. The girls seem to be thriving at school and Calliope, especially, is loving all the downtime at home in the afternoons to draw and play and create. Amelie seems content too, although she's always had plenty of downtime!

But the thing that is hard? My friends. My two best friends in particular, Amy and Emily. There is a lovely community of expats here that I am meeting and getting to know. Folks are warm and friendly. I just left our Friday morning coffee group. Saturday nights I go out with fellow SMCs Sarah and Jackie and often a couple of other friends, included at random. Sunday mornings we meet neighborhood friends in the park for bike riding and play structure climbing. Sometimes on Sunday afternoons we go to the taco place with the indoor play space with friends for an easy dinner.

These friendships are gradually growing stronger. This week, my friend and neighbor Anna picked up my girls from the bus stop and delivered them home when I wasn't feeling well. That night I kept her son so she and her husband could go out for a birthday dinner. And tomorrow my friend Pamela and I are sharing a sitter so our big girls can stay home, the little ones can go to a birthday party, and she can work. These two arrangements are the first time I've really shared the work of childcare with other families and I hope these will continue happening.

But I so miss the shared childrearing I missed with Amy and Emily. Amy and I shared nannies for seven years for our four children. We saw them every single weekend, sometimes multiple times a weekend, and shared afterschool care when our big girls outgrew the nanny. It was a given that we would have Shabbat dinner on Friday nights and carpool for ice skating lessons.

Emily and I lived in the same building the last few years. We rode the subway together most mornings. When she had a date, her daughter stayed over. We had breakfast together every weekend. If I had a stomach ache, she went out for medication. When she had the flu, I delivered hot oatmeal and Vitamin Water.

I'm missing my best friends. And more than that, selfishly, I'm missing having a best friend.

I'm so thrilled that Amy and her kids arrive for a visit in one short week. I'm breathlessly scheduling our every waking moment to maximize the deliciousness of time together. The girls are likewise exuberant in their excitement to see these children who are practically their siblings.
Best pals Rachel, me, Amy, Emily and Elizabeth celebrating of my last nights in town.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Keto Update Twelve and Saturday Morning

Well, my "fast" yesterday lasted all of about eight hours. It was too hard cooking for a dinner party -- I needed to be able to taste seasonings and then my resolve crumbled. But that is fine. It was a fun dinner party. Among the guests we had a celiac sufferer, nut/milk/sesame/egg allergies, vegan, and Keto-er. Lots of needs. So I landed on a taco bar. I wish I remembered to take a photo of the finished product. It was so pretty! And everything was laid out when they arrived except finishing the guacamole. We had:

  1. organic beef, sauteed with garlic powder, onion powder, salt. No MacLowry's Season Salt because it contains sugar (bad for the Keto-er, me). eaten by the children of the vegans but not by Calliope. 
  2. chopped avocado for the picky eaters that don't eat guacamole -- Calliope
  3. regular guacamole with garlic powder instead of raw garlic (for the kids) and oops, I forgot the onion!
  4. chopped tomato, again for those who don't eat guacamole.
  5. sauteed peppers -- no onions for the onion haters
  6. sauteed onions 
  7. fresh corn tortillas for everyone (including the GF person) EXCEPT me, the Keto-er
  8. shredded Oaxaca cheese for everyone except the vegan and the dairy-allergic child
  9. green and red salsas for the other adults but not for me because i don't like it (but it's Keto friendly) from the tortilleria
  10. rice and beans from the tortilleria for everyone except the Keto-er
I think that about covers it. I heard one of the kids exclaim "this is the best meal EVER!" So I felt very successful.

For dessert, because I forgot to buy sorbet and more ice cream, we walked around the corner to the convenience store and everyone got to pick an ice cream or popsicle of her choice. The kids were thrilled and six ice cream bars cost me less than $5. Win.

Then we came back for Trolls. The kids watched while the grown ups chatted. It was lovely. These are friends I am slowly getting to know. They are more socially connected than me so I feel lucky that they said yes. But their kids are the same ages as mine so it works really well.

After they left I got deep into a bag of tortilla chips. And then some digestive biscuits. But you know, they were DELICIOUS. And so I'm deciding not to beat myself up. I think I need to know I can have a splurge occasionally. Maybe I'll plan one for every Friday nights? I'm not sure if it's helpful to plan for it or not.

Anyway, today I woke up happy and decided to jump into another fast. With three cups of cold-brew with heavy cream added. So delicious! I am fifteen hours in and feeling pretty good. I'm thinking I'll fast until tomorrow late lunchtime if I continue to feel good. Saturday night plans are a little tricky without dinner plans but I am having a massage and then may go see a movie. Tomorrow morning early we are going to Costco in Queretaro with an SMC friend so that will keep me busy. And we want to eat quickly at the mall before the kids are too tired and last time we ate at the mall the food was a huge disappointment. So I'm going to bring food for the kids -- no point spending money when they prefer home food anyway -- and I'll wait to eat until we get home and I can have something I'll actually enjoy. Probably bacon and spinach from the Costco haul!

Amelie was up early this morning so she took a long bath and then Calliope wrote me her daily three sentences and read me a book -- trying to make sure we keep up her English language learning, even if the pace has slowed -- and then we went to our favorite bakery, Buon Forno, for bread for them, and then walked to a nearby playground. Usually we go to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning but I figured Amelie would be extra tired from her early waking (due to a nagging cough) so I wanted to stay close. It was a beautiful morning and very peaceful. Now she's reading while C gets her weekend screen time. After this we have a birthday party, a family-friendly art opening, and a massage (and maybe movie) for me while the girls stay with a sitter. Pretty perfect!

New playground near us with mountains in the background

Tree exploration. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Keto Update Eleven: My First Longer Fast (In a While)

I'm thrilled to share that I got tired of myself and my needling anxieties and just suddenly decided to bite the bullet and try a longer fast (again). Technically I did a 56 hour fast after my stomach bug but that feels long enough ago that it's ancient history plus having a stomach bug for the first 24 hours changed everything.

So I dove in. The first day was hardest, probably around 14-18 hours, which was early afternoon when I was a little bored at home. Once the kids came home and Calliope's tutor came over I was distracted, which helped. I thought the kids might notice that I wasn't eating and I wasn't sure how to respond to that but they didn't notice.

I am very, very careful to never, ever talk about dieting in front of them. I never comment on my weight or changes in it. I haven't discussed fasting. I do tell them that I am not eating sugar because I think it's not healthy. And they agreed to a two-week "sugar detox" where they are only getting one sweet thing a day -- if they want a cookie after dinner, they can't have syrup on pancakes or nutella on their peanut butter sandwiches. I've relaxed my standards a little and will let them have a square of dark chocolate or a piece of dried mango in the mornings but I think it's definitely lowered their cravings for sugar.

Anyway, by dinner time for them it was feeling a bit better. I put them to bed and was amazed to observe that my brain quietly accepted my "the kitchen is closed" decision. Amazing!

I woke up the next morning and surprisingly un-hungry. I'm rarely hungry in the mornings. That was at about 36 hours in. I did have a coffee with cream at home and then another during my Thursday morning Spanish tutoring session at the local bakery. After that, I limped -- because I banged the crap out of my fourth toe a couple days earlier and it's a lovely shade of purple right now -- to the CASA Clinic where I have been volunteering these past three weeks.

Lucky me, one of the midwives told me she had a patient in labor and invited me to participate! That was at 9:30 in the morning. The patient was already at 7 cm and doing great but after a few hours things slowed down. I was very involved, pressing on her back with contractions and doing my best to listen avidly to the midwife's explanations of things -- my Spanish is improving all the time but it's still not easy to understand everything. I was busy enough -- even when the patient fell asleep between contractions -- to not feel hungry. And I swear, there's something about getting past those early hours of fasting... it gets progressively easier!

I was planning a lovely dinner for myself when I finished the day. But the baby took a long time to arrive and I didn't want to rush out afterwards. And then the new father generously offered to treat the midwife and myself to dinner. I wanted to refuse but he was eager and in Mexico, I think it's rude to say no. So he ordered burgers for everyone. And insisted I take some sweet potato fries. I only took a few fries and managed to eat the burger without the bun (mostly) although it had some sort of sweet topping on it. That wouldn't have been too bad but that carbohydrate intake plus fatigue from the long day made me crave more carbs.

I got home and my energy crashed. I got the kids into bed and was desperately craving tortilla chips. I'm proud of my compromise, though. Instead of crashing on the couch, I put a few chips in a very small bowl... and started cooking a few strips of bacon. I ate some of the chips while the bacon was frying then took a break to eat the bacon. After the bacon, I didn't want the chips anymore! Just to make sure, I threw the chips away.

This morning, Amelie woke me up at 4:30 am with a cough and nausea. She felt better very quickly but decided to wake her sister, too. They were both tearing around the house making a ton of noise before 6 am. After my long day the previous day, plus the eating choices the night before, I was in a terrible mood. Some fierce yelling took place.

I had two cups of coffee and cream and got them fed and off to school. Came home to an empty house and STILL was in a terrible mood. And hungry. Even though I knew it was probably more thirst than hunger, I didn't have the discipline to fight it. So I cooked up the last of the bacon plus two eggs and leftover roasted radishes and ate that. I wasn't hungry anymore but I was still having cravings. So I had some dark chocolate and some heavy cream. Still feeling unhappy.

And finally, I realized that the only thing that would make me feel better was fasting again! I wanted a change to redo how I broke the fast. I was upset that I didn't get to do it my way. I had been thinking that with my social plans this weekend I couldn't fast now. But then I realized that was ridiculous. No one else is all that invested in my eating! I can have friends over for dinner and even cook for them and still not eat!

So at 10 am I put the food away and got up off the couch and started cleaning. I always feel better when the house is clean. And now I am three hours into a fast of an undetermined length. I feel much more in control of my life though I can also tell I am in desperate need of a workout. That will help my mood too. But I am excited that I am starting a fast after having had a meal because I know I'm not hungry right now (as opposed to starting it at bedtime) because I just ate. I'm drinking a big mug of mint tea and I have my bottle of lightly salted water next to me. I'm hoping that today will be pretty easy and that I will sleep during the hardest part and wake up feeling great tomorrow! A cool thing about fasting is that it makes your body release adrenaline -- supposedly to energize you to go hunt some wild game -- so far from being tired while fasting, I generally feel great!

I am going to try to have black coffee again tomorrow to be as purist as possible, if I can manage it.

Oh, and yesterday morning, before work... I finally hit a new low... a pound lower than I have been before. Only 3 kg from that to my goal weight! Of course my weight is WAY up today. But I think this photo of me from yesterday really shows that I am smaller. It's interesting to me to observe that I don't just lose from my stomach -- I am smaller all over! I had somehow forgotten that.

I am so grateful that I got through my first longer fast (in a while) and that I felt so good and feel like I am getting control of my destiny for the first time in ages! All I have to do is get my career figured out and I will have everything I have ever hoped for. And how awesome is it that I get to partipate in births and learn from such amazing people? I really just have to figure out the income part of work figured out. And I somehow have faith that if I continue to follow my passions, I will! Next week I am visiting a nonprofit that sends medical vans out into the countryside to provide medical care to rural children. I am hoping I can include volunteering with them in my soon to be very busy schedule! Or who knows, maybe one of these days these volunteer gigs will turn into a paid oppportunity (that still allows me to pick my children up from the school van most days and lets me travel during their school breaks)! I blindly trust that something will work out.
The awesome midwife who invited me to help.

Sweet cuddly newborn and my feeling-svelt self

Braids! From the girl who is excited to cut her hair short. Sniff. 

She has noticed grown ups cross their legs and is, as always, eager to imitate.

Gorgeous light in the Jardin

With friend Mika in Jardin
Yesterday versus last June.

Pals in Centro. Amelie has met her match in Teo. He is just as mischievous as her!