Now with less 90% less sugar

I might be at the end of new things I’ve done lately. I talked about cutting out coffee, going to the gym, and changing my entire name. Add to that my (mostly) cutting out sugar, bread and pasta. For me this was, and is, a really big deal. Well, everything else is/was, too, but this doesn’t “feel” as good as, say, exercising does.

Years ago I quit sugar for an entire year. Quit as in I didn’t even have birthday cake for my own birthday. Did I feel better? I don’t even remember, but I quit the craving of having “dessert” after each meal. At the time I was working at a non-profit next door to a diner and I found myself getting a scone as a mid-morning snack. A cookie after lunch. Soy ice cream after dinner.

Miss Red shares her menu at her restaurant, Sylvia Eyes.

But man alive, do I love sugar. I have more than a sweet tooth. I have a sweet grill. At some point after the year of being sugar-free I started eating sugar again and have ever since. Until lately.


A few months ago I was on a trip to IKEA with a friend and she played an Alec Baldwin podcast of Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, where he talked about how endemic sugar is in our diets. Having gone through the crazy withdrawal seven years earlier, I knew I had to take another stand. So after that car ride, I quit. And after hearing Alec Baldwin talk about how he used to eat “aquarium-sized portions” of pasta, I knew that had to go, too. So for a few months, I’ve been (mostly) sugar, bread and pasta free.

I don’t write this as a screed to eliminating or restricting certain types of food, but this is (mostly) working for me. As last summer ended and work became/becomes even more emotionally draining, I’m taking the step to do right by myself. To invest in doing what I can to make by body run cleaner, more alive, more in line with the reality of someone who is 5’3″.

So if you see me out and about and I have an apple fritter  dangling from my craw, please don’t chide or gloat. That’s just 10% of me. For now.


Happy, Hopeful

I’m not winning any NaBloPoMo writing awards, but I’ll keep at it.

Last week was a long one for me, both professionally and personally, but in a good way. I’m happy with the election outcomes and also aware that more work needs to be done. I had a few nights of working very late, but all for good reasons. I co-presented at a conference and had a great experience meeting people in my field and really, really diving deep into issues. It was powerful and I’m still replaying conversations in my head.

I’m also hopeful that there will be changes to my professional life. I took this picture on Wednesday morning, and I really was happy and hopeful.


I topped the conference off by driving to far northern Wisconsin, where I spent the weekend at a friend’s cabin. Twelve women away from their daily lives, laughing, staying up too late and getting up too early.

Happy. Hopeful. What about you?

Now with less caffeine

I alluded in my first post for NaBloPoMo that there is lots of new with me since I last posted. I’ve covered the name change, the gym going, and here’s another big change: I am coffee-free. Some might not consider this a big deal, but for me, it was a process that took months, yes months, to get down to zero coffee.

How bad was my coffee habit before? I don’t know – it’s all relative. I had at least two cups in the morning, and usually a cup in the afternoon. I drink plenty of water, but I would mostly drink green tea throughout the day, so I was always on caffeine. It was easy to justify – I have a stressful job, a kid who isn’t the best sleeper, but most importantly, I love coffee. Love everything about it – the smell, the warmth, the way it can be hot or iced, the way our culture supports the habit with drive-throughs and coffee dates. I was always ready for coffee.

“I Like Coffee,” by artist Summer Pierre,

Despite my constant stream of caffeine, I was always tired. Tired in the afternoon, tired in the evening, tired when I woke up. I wanted that to change.

What made it even more difficult to consider quitting is that my husband has a major coffee addiction. He would prepare a French press each night to, as he said, “make it from 7 to 9 p.m.,” or as many parents know, the witching hour of the final part of a day with a kid – they playing, bathing, negotiating, putting to sleep, etc. Come 9 p.m., Miss Red is always still awake, and he’d want to make art, read, or relax.

So starting last March – yes, that long ago – I started weaning myself. I’d allow myself one cup of coffee in the morning, then drink green tea. Then, half a cup. Then, a quarter cup. Until I was down to one cup of chai tea in the morning. It took me months. I don’t even know how long.

Want to know the dirty truth? Once I quit, I started waking up before my alarm. I was able to stay awake a little longer each night. I wasn’t as tired in the morning or afternoon, or if I was, I reminded myself that I would have been tired if I was drinking coffee. I’m not as irritable.

Other changes? My husband chose to cut down, too. And he started to feel better, too. Keep in mind that I am not caffeine-free. I still have one cup of chai tea in the morning and one cup of green tea in the afternoon, but I do my best to limit it to that amount. If driving for work, which I often do, I’ll have an iced tea, but that’s it. I’ve had decaf a few times to get the taste of coffee, but I’m doing my best to limit that, too.

Do I miss coffee? You bet. Coffee was like that guy in college I kept talking to for some reason, even though he never quite met all my needs. I still dream about coffee. When I head into a coffee shop, as I did with my family this morning, I drink in the smell. But I stick to tea. I really do feel better. It’s like I’m me, New and Improved, albeit with less caffeine.

Let’s get physical

One month ago I joined a gym. This is of some surprise since I don’t care for gyms. But one of my co-workers is very active and we found one close to our work. We’ve become efficient with our lunch hour and can be desk to desk within a hour, giving us time to change, drive to the gym, work out for 30 minutes and reverse the process.

The amazing thing? I love it. I’ve realized that I don’t like gyms but I like going with a friend. By nature I’m an indoor kid. Give me a book, mug of tea and a blanket any day, and I’m happy as can be. But I like doing things with friends, which is why I was able to do the Couch to 5K program for two summers. Last summer without any friends to do it with, I ran once. Count that: 1 time.

The gym led me to sign up for one of their personal trainers. It was something I have thought about for years. And I did it. I chose a trainer who said “hi” to me every day. Someone who did my initial fitness assessment and was compassionate, considerate, and understood that I need to place tiny goals in front of myself. “Dreams have no deadline,” he said to me.

I’ve had two sessions with Josh, this tall, fit person the opposite of what I am, and I can honestly say that it is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. It is a privilege, but I no longer think of it as an extravagance. This is the body I have, the body I battled with for more than two years, and it didn’t work in the way I wanted it to. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome and it did its job keeping me alive and disease-free, but I felt as if I was locked in a war with my insides, and frankly, ignored my outsides. I have 10 more sessions with Josh and I’m doing the best I can. That includes making labor-like noises and any sound in between. But it’s an hour of pushing myself physically more than I have in years. I mean, years. My legs wobble at the end of a session and for days afterwards. Muscles that I never thought I had ache. I get through some of the exercises with sheer will. My face raining, I chant to myself, “I’ve had a child. I can do anything.”

That time I changed my name

One month and one day ago my name change became legal. After 34 years of the same name and nine years of marriage, I made the change. Many people ask me why, and I actually have five reasons:

  1. I wanted to honor the family I have. Unless we do foster care or adoption, this is our family. I love it. After years of pining for more, I feel as if I’m in a new stage of my life.
  2. I no longer feel as connected to my former last name. For years I was my dad’s only child, and I felt a sort of pride in carrying on the family name. When he and my step-mom had Baby Uncle I didn’t feel the same pull to the name, since there would be another one to carry it on.
  3. My former last name was really difficult to spell and pronounce. Even friends would misspell it from time to time. I would have to repeat it many times over the phone.
  4. My former last name wasn’t a pretty sounding name. My new last name is.
  5. I felt some connection ethnicity-wise to my former last name. On the east coast, where my dad is from, everyone knows it’s Jewish. In the Midwest everyone assumed I was German.

When I sat in front of the judge on October 1 and he asked me if I had anything to say. I couldn’t help myself.

“I’m so excited.”

Ahoy, NaBloPoMo!

Here we are, in November, and another chance to take a crack at National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo.

A lot of New is new for me. Here’s a sample:

1. I changed my name. After nine years of marriage, I now have the same last name as my husband and Miss Red. I will go into the details of that this month.

2. I joined a gym. And for the first time in like, ever, I like it. Again, more for later.

3. I got a personal trainer. See above, and above.

4. We are taking an awesome trip next spring. Like, the three of us on a plane, going far, far away. Not as far as Japan, but an awesome adventure, nonetheless.

Want to play along?

December Giveaway from Ellen Carlson of Half-Pint Resale


December! December is here!

Aloha, friends. November wrapped up nicely, and while I didn’t make my daily posting goal of NaBloPoMo, I’m glad that I posted more and introduced giveaways from crafty mamas, in time for the holidays.

I’m also happy to announce that Polly is the winner of the Ten Finger Workshop teeny tiny clothespin people. Polly, we’ll be in touch.

Our next giveaway is from someone who makes a difference in people’s lives each and every day. Not only does she work for a non-profit, she also, ya know, in her spare time, co-runs the insanely awesome and amazing Half-Pint Resale. And sews and crafts and cooks like mad. I mean, the woman barely sleeps and always, and I mean always, makes time for her friends. I am also very lucky to count her as one of my closest friends, and her youngest son and Miss Red have a kindred friendship like none other.

A and Miss Red

So, thanks to Ellen of Half-Pint Resale and wearer of many other hats, our next giveaway is two, yes two, upcycled knit baby hats. They come in Size 0-3 months and 3-9 months.

Upcycled knit baby hats from Ellen Carlson

Miss Red wore them everywhere the first year of her life and I buy one each time a friend has a baby.

Miss Red in a hat by Ellen Carlson

They are completely unique and awesome. The photos above are examples; the two she will provide will be different.

Here’s how to enter:

1. Visit Half-Pint Resale’s Facebook page and friend them.
2. If you are on Twitter, follow their feed, @halfpintresale.
3. Check out Ellen’s personal blog for more information about her hats and custom shirts.
4. Comment below on who you would place the hat on.

Two lucky winners will receive one hat each! The giveaway closes Sunday, December 4 at 8 a.m. CST. One entry per e-mail address is permitted. The winners will be selected using and announced on Sunday evening, when the final giveaway will be posted.

Good luck!

– MD

Black Friday Giveaway, Local Style

I’m venturing into a new world and I’m doing a giveaway. On Black Friday.

I guarantee that you won’t find me at any stores on Black Friday. I find the whole thing creepy – people sacrificing valuable sleep for “deals” in a society flush with coupons and an abundance of televisions. Shudder.

I took a self-pledge years ago to shop locally and support artists as much as possible. So I asked a few friends if they would be interested in participating in my first giveaway, and I’m happy to share I will have giveaways from four creative mamas, just in time for the holidays, starting on Black Friday.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Upcycled knit hats from fellow blogger EC. Miss Red wore them everywhere the first year of her life and I buy one each time a friend has a baby. They are completely unique and awesome. The photo below is an example, and two she is providing will be different.

Upcycled Knit Hats by Ellen Carlson

Hand-spun yarn from Madison mama and crafter Enid Williams, who operates Haley Studio on Etsy. She will give away her choice of hand-spun yarn.

Hand-spun yarn from Haley Studio

From another Madison mama and homesteader Lily Hoyer-Winfield of Ten Finger Workshop comes two sets of clothes pin dolls. Believe me, you want them. I’ve custom-ordered wooden dolls from Lily and they are heirloom items and well-loved in our house.

Clothes Pin People by Ten Finger Workshop

And last, but not least, comes an awesome tote ALL THE WAY FROM NEW YORK CITY! Artist, musician, poet and mama Summer Pierre is providing a cheesecake tote. What a sweet gift for you or a loved one! Might I add that Summer’s post about giving birth in the backseat of a taxi remains THE most read post on this blog ever? Did I also mention that Summer has published two books, has an awesome blog, and is just plain inspiring? Yeah, that.

Cheesecake Tote by Summer Pierre

Are you excited yet? I’m excited for you. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Click on all of those links and check these people out. Like their Facebook pages, subscribe to their feeds, favorite them, be a good egg. While you’re at it, go ahead and add me to your Google reader or subscribe via email or RSS via those buttons on the upper right-hand corner.

2. Tell your friends.

3. Come back on Friday, where I’ll post the first giveaway and the simple rules. All giveaways will be to you by the holidays.

– MD

p.s. Aren’t I the luckiest gal around? I thought about doing this, asked my friends, and they said yes.

My Best Friend Had a Baby

My best friend had a baby. It’s her second, a boy. A boy! Her first child, a daughter, came within a year of Miss Red. We shared stories of pregnancy, infancy and everything in between.

My best friend had a baby, and we are hundreds of miles apart. We work diligently to see one another at least twice a year, but at this moment my heart aches to be with her, sitting in the hospital, holding her new son and laughing at the ridiculousness a body goes through after labor and delivery.

{The video above was taken when Miss Red was about a year and a half. I had her parrot my best friend’s family’s names.}

My best friend had a baby, and for some reason her having a son makes her seem much older, more grown up, more mature. She has a family of four now, a girl and a boy, and her family seems so complete. She’s a mother to more than one child, and to me, that seems different than having one child. I can’t explain it, but I am in awe of her.

My best friend had a baby, and we’ve done our best to catch one another as we can, texting and leaving messages. The text messages we sent to one another leading up to her labor were priceless and for our eyes only – snippets of jokes about body parts and humiliating occurrences.

My best friend had a baby, and I can’t wait to hold him, to hug her daughter, and to laugh and cry with her in person.

– MD

Hurt Feelings

Around Chez D-H, we’re pretty comfortable with our feelings. My husband and I talk a lot, talk openly, and have a nice balance of silly conversations with “ohmygodthishurtsmyheadandheart” conversations. I’d like to think that we’re that way with Miss Red, too.

But how do you talk to your kids about hurt feelings? With Miss Red now in preschool, she is sometimes coming home talking about people who were not nice to her. How do we help her work through the minor offenses and the genuine assholes in the world?

What do you suggest?

– MD

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