Public Service Announcement: Periods 101

I’m not talking about grammar. I’m talking about the monthly visitor. Aunt Flo. Or, as we refer to it in my household, the painters.

So, you know, you may not want to read any further. However, if you are married or otherwise share a household with a woman, and/or if you are raising daughters, you may want to stick around.

Here’s the upshot: Periods aren’t gross. Or dirty. Or disgusting.

They are normal and healthy, albeit a tad inconvenient at times.

I understand that the sight of blood can be off putting, even, to young children, alarming. Since having children, when I go to the bathroom at home, I seldom do it alone. I’ve had to have explain (in very simple terms) “feminine napkins”, or pads, panty liners, and tampons much earlier than I ever figured I would have to.

My mother was very matter-of-fact about menstruation. She gave me what I needed when I needed it. When I confessed I was nervous about using tampons (which I was until I went to college), she told me there was nothing to be nervous about, but also said pads were fine at my age.

I, too, plan to be matter-of-fact about menstruation. I’m not going to go all new-Age, Wiccan mystic on it, that the womb produces earth-blood and is a sacred space, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But I would like to dispel the notion that when women’s bodies do the stuff that women’s bodies are supposed to do it’s something to be hidden, or be ashamed of, or treated like a big dirty secret. Or worse, like a disease.

Menstruation is normal and healthy. So for that matter is pregnancy. Neither is something that needs to be “treated” by doctors or medication. Yeah, sometimes women are going to have cramps and need ibuprophen and, maybe, a heating pad. That takes some getting used to. So do tampons. And hormones.

And, for the record, I have had very few problems with menstruation. I don’t have PCOS or fibroids or endometriosis. For a few months in my late 20s, I had amenorreah due — of all things — to too much vitamin A in my diet. I had to give up sweet potatoes, carrots, and cantaloupe for a few months until things regulated. That was about as wonky as my period got.

So: husbands, fathers, guys, don’t treat your SO’s or daughter’s periods as something gross and to be shunned. It’s perfectly normal. If you’re not comfortable with having sex while your wife is menstruating, that’s okay. (It’s probably okay with her, too.) We’re way past the day of the red tent, okay?

Also for the record, I practically jump up and down every time I get my period these days. Because, really, it’s too early for menopause, and not getting my period would mean (probably) one thing. And I’m not really up for that again!

Project: Food Budget, Week 19

Food Budget Piggybank

I decided that it’s time to take a look at my family’s monthly budget, and going forward, I’ll be setting the budget dollars accordingly.

In January we spent:

Groceries: $574.21
Groceries refer to food we buy at Target or Aldi’s as well as food from the grocery store.

Costco: $194

CSA: $136

Eating out: $170 — I want this total to come down. Way down. Dan and I are going to have to talk about this and see how to make it happen.

I’m pretty comfortable with setting my monthly budget as follows:

Groceries: $600/month
Costco: $150 (for food only; we spend between $150 and $300 on our Costco trips because we buy toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, diapers, and many bulk cleaning supplies at Costco)
CSA: $68, but this will go up this summer
Eating out: $100

This month, we are already up to:

Grocery: $130
Costco: $25
CSA: $34
Eating out: $100

See? We’re already at our eating out limit for the month! That is definitely the next area that Dan and I have to work on together. And it will take work! Packing him lunches, making sure he has healthy snacks at his office, and having something hot and tasty ready when he gets home. Of course, I can’t make him eat anything — he’s going to have to work on his own choices, too. Choosing a Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts instead of a fast food burger or a hot dog from the gas station across the street. He really has to learn to eat differently, and I know that’s hard for him.

What’s the best way to budget for you?

Let’s see how everyone else did!

* Emily Levenson
* Dairy-Free Cooking
* Test Kitchen Tuesday
* Acquired Tastes
* Fit Flexitarian
* Warm As Pie
* Katy Rank Lev
* My Inner Healthy
* Little Blue Hen
* xox, b
* What da Health?
* Project Food Budget 2.0
* Fresh…A New Chapter
* Chandeleah
* Two Eggs Over Easy
* That’s Just Me
* Eat Whole Be Vital
* Four Happy Violets
* Naturally {Un}refined
* Pgh Dad
* yogabeautylife
* Charmingly Modern
* NaMAMAste
* Six Dollars a Day
* Gluten-Free Vegan

Random Thoughts: The Things My Kids Say Edition

“Mom, can you make homemade applesauce?”
“Mom, can I try the homemade applesauce?”
“Thumbs up on the homemade applesauce, mom.”
“Can I have some homemade applesauce, mom?”
“Mom, can I have some more homemade applesauce?”

Guess what I made this weekend.

That was all Kate, by the way. And that’s how she says it every time: “homemade applesauce”.

++

Flora’s questions are getting to the point that I have to say to her, “I don’t know. We’ll have to look it up.” For example, our conversation about manatees.

Why manatees? Because every day on the way to school, we pass a house where the mailbox is held by a manatee statue.

I don’t know.

Anyhoo, it all started with, “Do manatees have gills?” (No, they are mammals and have lungs.) And then, “How long can they hold their breath? How big are baby manatees? What are baby manatees called?” Answers from wikipedia that I reported to Flora later: “Up to 20 minutes. Big, 66 pounds! Calves.”

But we’re also running into questions she asks that she doesn’t understand the answers. I’ll try to explain something, like the definition of a word (politics was a recent one, and also “generalities”), and she’ll simply say, “I don’t understand the words you’re using.” So we’ve hit a little bit of a wall lately. We’re working on it.

++

Dan, getting off the phone with his mother: “Okay, Mom. Should I just send the kids over to the haus?”

Flora: “Did you just say ‘haus’?”

Me: rolling on the floor with laughter.

We are a Pittsburgh family, and Dan was born & raised here. He worked hard to get rid of his Pittsburgh accent (i.e. haus for house, warsh for wash), and has been mostly successful. But he tends to lapse when talking to other ‘burgers with a Pittsburgh accent, like his mom.

So it’s around us. The other day, Flora booted up the Wii to play Mario Kart, and — I kid you not — declared of her opponent, “You’re going dahn.”

++

Michael, my precocious little boy, babbles all.the.time. He is constantly telling me… something. And echoing, already. He tries to sing the ABCs (hilarious). He repeats “buckle”, “circle”, and “thank you” (“uk-el”, “irkle”, and “takooo”). He actually uses his version of thank you appropriately, such as when I hand him something. “Tak-ooo,” he coos, and then I melt into a puddle on the floor.

Does he say “mama”, though? Nope. Ah, well. Someday he’ll say it eleventy-billion times in a row.

What do your kids say that cracks you up? Or sends you to Wikipedia for answers?

Meatless Monday: CSA Edition

I am reposting this because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what CSA means, especially from other people doing the Project: Food Budget with me. I made some minor edits to make it more current.

I’ll just state upfront that joining a CSA is one of the best things I have done for my family. The quality of the produce we receive is incomparable to store-bought produce. We also get coffee and cheese, and I am exploring the possibility of getting beef and chicken (which we would share with my in-laws). I can’t think of enough good things to say.

If you don’t have a CSA in your area, another way to get the freshest produce is to frequent farmers markets. Just an idea if you are trying to go local and/or organic in the produce aisle.

It’s Michael Pollan‘s fault I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.

I am sure I am not alone in declaring that.

In the summer of 2009, I ended up on the waiting list of Kretschmann Organic Farm. That winter they contacted me, and I started receiving winter boxes, which were chock full of winter veggie and fruit goodness (apples, squash, potatoes, carrots).

I started receiving their summer season boxes in the summer of 2009. And I love them.

As Dan stated one other day at dinner, “This is how salad is supposed to taste.” Flora, likewise, has declared salads made with their greens, “the best salad I’ve ever tasted.” [Kate, too, loves her salads now.]

This pleases me to no end, for obvious reasons. We’ve gotten mesclun greens, bibb lettuce, arugula, and green leaf lettuce, as well as spinach. So, so good.

The trickiest thing about receiving so much tasty, fresh, organic produce and herbs is, simply, using it all. [To solve this problem, I’ve started splitting my boxes with my sister-in-law and her family. Often my MIL will also get some goodies, like basil, blueberries, and soon beef.]

I’ve twice had to ditch the Swiss chard because it wilted before I could saute it with garlic. I wanted to make pesto with the sweet pea greens I got the first week, but they wilted before I got to them too.

Much of this, of course, is not having tons of time to cook throughout the week, or for that matter, the weekend. I’ve started making it more of a priority, though, because it’s too depressing to lose these fresh greens. We chow down on salads pretty steadily Thursday through Monday (Thursday is the day I pick up my box), which means eating more at home, which in itself is a relief.

I was hoping to have some new recipes, too, but really, you all know how to make a salad.

I’ve also been getting beets, and here’s what you can do with beets (to my knowledge): roast ’em or boil ’em. We had boiled beets this past weekend (the kids won’t try them yet), and they were so good and sweet. Neither Dan nor I even put anything on them, no butter, no salt, no pepper. And they are super easy: cut off the greens, leaving about 2 inches of the tops; boil for about 40 minutes; cool and peel. [Update: Kate loves beets. LOVES. Asks if I am making any. Eats about a whole beet when I do. I’ve also made a beet soup with sour cream that is delicious.]

Heavenly.

We’ve been getting strawberries, too, and all you need to know about strawberries is they don’t last a day in my house. Between the four of us, we pretty much devour them instantly. I barely get them washed before the kids are eating them ā€” straight, no sugar. [I am betting that Michael will like them too.]

I’d love to get some and have them last long enough to make muffins, but so far, I haven’t managed to hide them fast enough.

I’ll try harder with the blueberries, due to start showing up this week.

I not going to get up on any type of locavore, organic foods soapbox here ā€” there are plenty of activists and authors out there who have intelligent, interesting things to say (Michael Pollan being right up there). I’ll just leave you with the first line from Pollan’s book In Defense of Food, which is pretty much all you need to know:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Do you shop at farmers markets or get produce from a CSA? What’s your favorite thing to do with produce?

Random Thoughts: More Sibling Issues

Flora gets to do stuff that Kate doesn’t get to do.

Flora got a DSi for Christmas when she was 6. Flora got her first sleepover (for her birthday) when she turned 7. Flora and I sometimes have events to attend at her school, while I have to leave the younger sibs at home with a babysitter. Flora bowls every other Sunday. Dan usually takes her.

This is difficult for Kate, watching her sister go off and do stuff she can’t do yet.

Kate does not like to be alone. Ever. At all. She won’t go upstairs by herself. Or stay in the kitchen by herself (and Michael in his high chair doesn’t count some days). There are times she won’t even go pee by herself. (This is the habit of hers I am trying hardest to break.) And forget going to bed by herself. Not happening.

Flora’s already asking when she gets to have a room to herself (again).

Saturday night, Flora got invited to sleep over at a friend’s house. In a couple of weeks, she has a Father-Daughter dance that she is going to attend at her school.

Part of me wants to do special things with Kate in direct reaction to these special events. Flora goes on a sleepover; Kate and I go get pedicures. Dan and Flora have a special event; Kate and I go see a movie. Just her and me.

But another part of me wonders if this is a good strategy. After all, Flora is going to get to do stuff that Kate won’t get to do for a number of years yet.

I honestly don’t know what to do, if anything.

Also, I may have already told Kate that we were going to get pedicures on Sunday.

Should Kate get special things because her sister gets special things? Should she just get special things — or special time — because each kid needs special time? Or does she have to just suck it up until it is her turn?

Project: Food Budget, Week 18

Food Budget Piggybank

I guess I was basking in the glow of my success last week, and I completely forgot to set any kind of budget for this week. Also, since last shopping trip was about stocking up, I figured another trip would just be for any odds and ends I felt we needed.

I did run to the store on Tuesday, to the tune of $15.78, and we had breakfast out (also on Tuesday) for $12.68. So this week’s expenses aren’t overwhelming at all.

Looking ahead, it’ll be another week of odds and ends shopping. We need sliced cheese for sandwiches, Dan needs deli meat, etc. As far as menus, I want to make baked burritos, granola, pretzels, slow cooker applesauce, and dal with rice. I get my CSA box tonight, so we’ll see what additional goodness awaits!

Grocery: $75
CSA: $34
Costco: $50

Let’s see how everyone else did!

* Emily Levenson
* Dairy-Free Cooking
* Test Kitchen Tuesday
* Acquired Tastes
* Fit Flexitarian
* Warm As Pie
* Katy Rank Lev
* My Inner Healthy
* Little Blue Hen
* xox, b
* What da Health?
* Project Food Budget 2.0
* Fresh…A New Chapter
* Chandeleah
* Two Eggs Over Easy
* That’s Just Me
* Eat Whole Be Vital
* Four Happy Violets
* Naturally {Un}refined
* Pgh Dad
* yogabeautylife
* Charmingly Modern
* NaMAMAste
* Six Dollars a Day
* Gluten-Free Vegan

Random Thoughts: The Day After My Favorite Day of the Year Edition

Yesterday, it was 61 degrees and sunny.

Breakfast with Dan, Kate, and Michael was blissfully uneventful. Until I spilled Dan’s to-go cup of coffee in the parking lot. (Sorry about that, babe.)

Kate received a glowing evaluation from her pre-k teacher. My favorite line: “I know you liked the Catholic program she was in, and I’m sorry it closed, but I’m so glad I have had the chance to teach her.” Kate is a bright, cheerful, enthusiastic child, which of course I know, and I was pleased beyond words to know that she is thriving and that her behavior in school is excellent.

Lunch with Flora was just as fun. We each ate our sandwiches and shared dried mangos; she showed me around her classroom, and was cheerful and chatty. She, too, is clearly thriving in school, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the Catholic school community our family is part of.

I decided not to shop, although I ran a couple of relaxing errands. (When you have time to run errands, they are relaxing! Who knew?) I had a beer at Bocktown around 3 p.m., and read the Stephen King book I got for Christmas. I went home, and made TWO dinners — one for tomorrow night. That seldom happens.

And I got message after message wishing me a happy birthday (including calls from my two best friends, my ILs, and my dad).

Say what you will about the Internet and social media the rest of the year: parenting wars, high school pettiness, yadda, yadda, yadda. On my birthday, it made me feel warm and fuzzy. I know that writing on a Facebook wall isn’t sending a card in the mail (where would they put the check?), but it’s still 10 seconds out of someone’s day to think about someone else and wish them a happy day.

++

I know it’s not cool to like your birthday. It’s especially not cool because I’m “of a certain age”, and a woman to boot, but you know what? I still like my birthday. Yesterday was just delightful. I am ridiculously blessed.

My dad called when I was in the grocery store buying my birthday cake. As we were hanging up he said, “You keep getting older. That’s your job.” And he’s got a point. I want to keep having birthdays. I want to raise my kids, and have adventures, and explore new things, and learn something every day. I can’t do that if I stop having birthdays. And when I’m 91, or 101, or 121 (medical science makes advances daily!), I hope I can embrace my birthday with the same level of joy as I have for most of my life.

And, you know, eat some cake.