Post-Thanksgiving, Post-London, but Pre-Vacation

I have four more work days this year, including today, and then I’m on holiday until January. That’s pretty exciting.

Staying on my diet through Thanksgiving was pretty easy. I just ate turkey, ham, and green beans, and saw my siblings and some extended family at my mom’s house. It had been almost 10 years since I had seen my brothers. One of my nieces was there and I hadn’t seen her in 24 years.

Then, the Monday after Thanksgiving, I went to London. I was able to stay on keto through the first week without too much trouble. Salads with chicken, a McDonald’s salad with a couple of hamburger patties on top, roast chicken and squash and other veggies. Not too bad.

The second week was a loss, though. It’s hard to avoid rice when you’re having Thai food every other meal. I didn’t drink a single beer, but I did drink two bottles of wine one night. There was a pot pie for dinner one day, and pizza another, and I lacked for choices. So not ideal, but I tried to manage my portion size at least, and I think avoiding beer helped.

I was back on keto as soon as I got home last Friday, and the re-adjustment has been a bit tough. I’m hungrier than I was, so I made a fat bomb yesterday comprised of almond butter, cocoa, cream cheese, and heavy whipping cream. Then I made hot chocolate last night with almond milk, cocoa, some vanilla powder, cinnamon, a bit of xanthan gum, some swerve, and a bit of heavy whipping cream. I didn’t have much sugar while in London, but it was enough to have me craving sweets again.

All’s well that end’s well:

  • Starting weight: 240
  • Goal weight: 190
  • Current weight: 223

It’s neat to see these numbers, because I forget between blog posts what I weighed. I’m weighing myself every 1-3 days and logging it into MyFitnessPal so it’s pretty incremental, then I blog and see I’ve dropped 5 pounds since my last weigh-in.

This week, I’m finally adding in the exercise that I was supposed to do in week 2. I have a new battery for my heart rate monitor, so I got that working this morning, then rowed for 20 minutes and stayed in the target range for 7, per Mark Sisson’s book. He recommends 2 hours of exercise every week, so I figure if I do this 20 minute routine every morning, 6 days a week, that should set me right. We’ll see if I can keep that up, though. It was nice to listen to NPR while rowing this morning.

I have an 8 a.m. meeting, so I better get going. Heading into the office this week since I haven’t been there in almost 3 weeks.

Breaking Radio Silence

Oh, hello there.

Brief recap of what did and did not happen this wonderful, phenomenal Winter Break.

  • We hosted Christmas for April’s family. Eric got into town a few days early, with the rest here on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The day after Christmas, we traveled to St. Louis, and then visited Piedmont the day after the day after Christmas.
  • I got some awesome gifts. Now, Christmas isn’t about gifts, and what we really loved was having the chance to spend lots of time with our family. But it cannot be denied that I also played Dragon Age: Origins for about 60 hours this week. It may be the best game I have played in the last 6-8 years.
  • I didn’t write a whole lot. I was stymied on the story I wanted to write, and didn’t feel like I could write anything else until I made progress on it. That was stupid of me. I should have dropped it and done other things, coming back to it once I had something to write, but I got stalled and played Dragon Age instead. For what it’s worth, I finally found the idea I needed to drive the story forward, but it’s a bit late now.
  • I have had the best week of vacation ever.
  • Finally finished our D&D campaign. Not that it has comprised too many game sessions, but between us we have so many scheduling conflicts that we end up only playing about once a month. Since I’d originally intended this campaign to be 15 games, I had to revamp it and cut it short–we’d already been playing it over six months and it was getting old. Really looking forward to the next (much, much shorter) story arc.
  • April and I celebrated our second anniversary, somewhat to our surprise. Not that we’re surprised we lasted two years, because it’s been a pretty blessed and easy two years. It just came up on us fast. Totally awesome. We stayed in Springfield and saw local touristy things, like Bass Pro and fancy restaurants and little shops we never visit. Good times.
  • Snow!
  • Seriously, such a good week.

I don’t even feel [too] bad about not writing. April made the excellent observation that I really oughtn’t put a ton of pressure on myself to get everything done and caught up in the one week I have off a year. I should enjoy the time instead, and work harder to build writing time into my daily schedule instead of forcing a lot of it into this week. I was gratified by this and went right on playing Dragon Age.

I’ve got nothing prepped for this week, so I don’t know what the publishing schedule will be like. Need to get my sea legs back under me, so to speak. For the first time in six months, though, I do not dread going to work tomorrow. I had an amazingly productive end-of-the-semester and got everything done that I wanted to get done. There’s nothing really hanging over my head tomorrow. I have lots of good stuff to report. All-in-all, things are looking up.


First Christmas Tree

When I was very young, decorating for Christmas was a big family event. My mom and dad and I would get all the decorations out and have something for every room in the house. There were bows and ribbons, wreathes and ornaments and stockings. It was crazy, but we had a ton of stuff, so decorating took the better part of a day.

But as my parent’s relationship began to decline, my dad decided not to join in the decorating anymore. My mom and I would soldier on, hanging lights and ribbons and ornaments while he sat in the recliner, occasionally commenting or, more often, seeming to ignore the proceedings.

Then, growing discouraged over the years, my mom stopped decorating as well. Even after my parents got divorced, I had to haul all of the decorations in (around half a dozen of those giant Rubbermaid containers; probably more than half a dozen, actually) and put them up myself. In retrospect, I wonder why I never flat-out refused–I guess that obeying parents was pretty well ingrained in me–but I hated doing it. It was so much work, and I didn’t even care anymore. It felt like we were trying to dress up an ugly scar, cover it with incense and tinsel to make all the rest of the anger and bitterness go away.

And of course, it didn’t work. So for over a decade, I’ve rather disliked Christmas and everything it came to represent. More work, more commercialism, more fighting over my affection, more guilt trips and frustration. Throughout most of college, I spent Christmas alone, or near enough. Maybe a day or two with each of my parents for the first few years. Then I met April.

I was still pretty Bah Humbug last year, not really wanting to decorate and not appreciating much her attempts to do so. I really didn’t like my apartment much, and we were really poor. But this year, now that we have our own house and can afford some of these things… I’ve been really excited. I have really enjoyed buying the decorations and putting them up, and I like having them. It’s been wonderful.

Today we got our first tree together, and we opted to go with a real tree rather than a fake one. It didn’t really have anything to do with my family having always had a fake tree… actually, our plan was to have it on the front porch. But when we got to the tree place, it was really windy outside and it occurred to us that a tree on the front porch, as cool as that would be, would probably blow over a lot and cause all kinds of problems. So now it’s in our living room.

This isn’t our first Christmas together (actually, it’s our third!), but it feels almost like a new beginning. It’s the beginning of the holidays becoming a pleasant and positive time again. It’s the beginning of those memories finally healing some. It’s the beginning of a wonderful Christmas.

Game suggestion

I received a gift certificate to Gamespot from April’s parents for Christmas and I’m not quite sure what to put it towards. What game would you all recommend (and, if you feel so inclined, tell me why you recommend it)?

Ringing in the New Year

I hosted a party at Brenda’s last night, which is becoming something of a New Year’s Tradition and which will hopefully never happen again. Last year, I called Beth and informed her in no uncertain terms that we should have a New Year’s party and that my apartment was unavailable at the time (also, I was out of town when making these arrangements), so we should have it at her place. I felt like a jerk, and then subtly repeated the process this year when I suggested to Brenda that a party would be amicable to all concerned and that my apartment was unsuitable for said partying.

Despite the fact that I’m a terrible, manipulative person, last night was a lot of fun and there were many tasty beverages imbibed over the four and a half hours we were there. April and I left promptly after midnight because she was falling asleep, but considering our weekend, we did well to last that long. On Friday, we traveled to Willow Springs (April’s home town) as soon as she got off work to spend the night with her parents. Saturday morning we were up early, groomed immaculately, and crammed into the van to travel to Jackson in eastern Missouri for April’s cousin’s wedding (which just happens to be the week before ours, but we won’t talk about that now). Following the wedding, we rode another two hours to April’s grandmother’s house and spent the afternoon and night there, which mostly meant I got through a couple hundred more pages in the book I’m reading, and then returned to Willow Springs on Sunday. That afternoon, while Eric (April’s brother) and I lounged in the living room watching Firefly, April and her mother made decorations for the reception.

We got back to Springfield about 11 yesterday morning, made a relatively quick stop at Wal-Mart before hitting Hong Kong Inn and coming home, and then played WoW all afternoon.

So, that’s it for the generic, play-by-play update. In more interesting news, I’m getting married in four days, and I guess things are getting kind of stressful? I’m not really bothered by it, but there’s still a lot to do and I know April’s a bit tense. It feels like things have been strained with her mom for a while now (between both of us), and April hopes that getting married will relieve some of that strain by fully communicating that we are an Us and at a different, fully-founded place in our lives now that necessitates a different relationship with her parents. If I understand correctly, the relationship she hopes to foster is similar to what I have shared with my parents since I began college, or perhaps even since I began Speech & Debate in high school, only with them (April’s parents) we’d remain closer, see them more often, and talk to them more. I think there is some fear on their side, though, that we won’t talk to them at all.

This fear would be justified if it was just me, because let’s face it, I suck at calling people and keeping in touch with them. I still do better than most, I think (after all, I have a fairly good idea of what’s been going on with the majority of my graduating class for the last four years), but I’ve grown lax in the last few years as others haven’t put out much of an effort on their own to keep in touch with me. The last phone calls I made to old friend’s numbers returned a disconnected tone with no forwarding message, and the last letter I wrote was the same. By and large, I’ve stopped caring and, as it regards family, I’ve developed a fair amount of apathy over the last ten years.

But this is April, and they should really know better. There will come a time when we won’t see them 2-3 times a month, it’s true, but I’ve been trying to make it abundantly clear that they are welcome in our home, and April talks to her mother on the phone multiple times a week (I call my mum maybe once or twice a month, if it’s a light month). I’m excited to have them as a family, but I don’t feel that we’ve been able to communicate that adequately. Therefore, as a Thank You for the wedding, we’ll be writing letters to them that we will give them on Saturday. Hopefully, I can restrain my generally acerbic self and write something pleasant.

Potentially going to the Mudhouse tonight with April, Margaret, and Marshall, which should be fun and a little interesting. Today, my only plan is to finish up the laundry, add a book to our catalog online, play a lot of World of Warcraft, maybe some XBox… write a letter to FnC about worship and to April’s parents about the future and the past and whatnot, and email Brian with some last-minute details about the wedding. This is my last day of vacation, so I want to enjoy it… but seriously, I’m only working two days, then I have a day to get ready for the wedding, and then I’m getting married. It’s like I’m living in a fairy tale.

Christmas Vacation

I am so anxious to go home tonight and play some TF2 prior to the tree-decorating party at the church… not that I really want to go to this shindig, but maybe I can get my name on the bill as a judge or something.

I’ve disliked Christmas decorating since I was about 10 and it became my “job” to do all of the decorating for my family. My dad didn’t want to help and my mom started delegating more, so I had to haul all the boxes in from the shop, hang all the stuff up, get up on the roof to put up lights, etc. Even after my parents divorced, we still had to put up decorations (for my sake, right?), but by “we” I mean that my mom would tell me what to do and I grudgingly hung stockings and wreathes and the like.

When I have kids, I’ll gladly decorate, because I’ll be doing it with them and they’ll delight in the process. It was palatable this year because April enjoys it so much, but tonight’s festivities–a tree decorating and bad sweater contest–at the church aren’t interesting to me at all.

We had a Christmas luncheon at work today. I wish my glass had held scotch instead of tea, but it was a pleasant lunch all-in-all. I’ve not had much interaction with Jeff (who is my boss’s boss), but he seems like a pretty pleasant guy. He and Kevin kept telling stories of years past and the theme centered around gambling, with which I don’t have a whole lot of experience, but it as enjoyable. Vacation starts on Friday after work, and I’m really looking forward to it. Some time to play games and write, relax before the wedding… we’re hosting April’s parents and siblings for Christmas, then traveling with them for Amanda’s wedding, and then back to Springfield by New Year’s Eve. A couple more days on vacation, back to work for three days, then a wedding and a week in Chicago for the honeymoon. It should be splendiferous.

Silly spellchecker, splendiferous is totally a word.

What’s everyone else doing for their holidays this year?