A new home (on the internet)

So I’ve been keeping this little blog here on wordpress for about 4 years now (!) and with the help of my dude and his mechanically minded self, I’ve now found a more permanent home to fit all my needs. If you’d like to keep reading about my life and all its sundry details, please go to :

 

http://www.ashleysheets.com/

 

Ta-da! A real, live, website! How exciting!

 

This also means that if you follow me in a reader of some sort you’ll need to make sure to change the link to the one above. I hope to see you guys over there. Talk to you soon!

Our Paleo experiment

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Never in my grown-up-lady life have I been a dieter. I’ve never done Weight Watchers or Atkins, no/low-carb or no sugar. None of it. Not to say I’ve always been perfectly happy with my weight, because that’s not really true, but I just don’t “get” dieting. Ok, or maybe it’s that I don’t have faith in my own ability to keep to the confines of one. Like, one cannot be on a diet forever, so what’s the point, you know? Even before our wedding I tried, and sorta kinda failed. When I want to lose weight I work out more and eat less (um, this only sometimes works? Back to that thing where I am not good at saying no to myself). I like booze and sour patch kids and ben & jerry’s cookie dough, bacon and burgers and nachos, and I’m pretty sure those aren’t allowed on most diets, even in moderation. As it is, I generally already avoid processed foods and total crap. We cook at home nearly every night, and we buy organic/local/sustainable as much as possible. I was a vegetarian for 5 years, which I guess is sort of a diet, but which also means I’m used to thinking a lot about what I eat. But anyway. What more can you do? So that’s about it. No real diets for this gal, not really.

But then, Jon became extremely sick and his eczema was out of control and ruining both of our lives while leaving Jon in pain 24/7, and after trying every combination of medicines the doctors would give him with very little progress, we decided to take a hard look at diet and see if there was anyway to figure out a way to ease Jon back into the world of normal, not chronically-ill folk.

I’d read a lot about the paleo (short for paleolithic, as in the era) diet , which is based around eating like our paleolithic ancestors, hunter/gatherer style- and at the same time I’d come across a lot of information about elimination diets, and eventually, just after the new year we decided to go for it. Something had to change. So we went hardcore. Essentially we cut out everything-grains, legumes/pulses (including peanuts and peanut products), all processed foods, soy, dairy, sugar, alcohol, cheese, and weirdly enough, citrus fruits. Starting fresh! By doing that we could give our bellies a clean slate with which to start over and figure out what causes the most damage in terms of allergic reactions and general intolerance.

So obviously I wasn’t going through the same stuff as Jon, health-wise. But as the main chef in this little family, and with my own IBS issues and health stuff, I fully signed on to get the most out of our hybrid elimination/paleo diet. We dove in full speed ahead, and excluding a one-off cheeseburger night at our very favorite local food truck guy who was doing a pop-up two nights in to our trial (we had to go!), and maybe a glass or two of wine for me, we’ve been very good at sticking to it these past 6 weeks.

After we finished up a 30 day trial of elimination/paleo, we have been able to start adding some things back in, and because of how clean we’ve been eating, any problems pop up immediately upon reintroduction. So far we have found intolerances to yogurt, oranges, and oats (Jon) and a little trouble with wheat (me). And it’s nice having the knowledge to back up what is really effecting us inside and out. It’s really good to have that personal knowledge surrounding what you put into your body because, obviously, everyone is different. And some of us are more sensitive than others!

Now I wouldn’t say that paleo is a perfect diet, or the only way to live. I’m not down with the whole “our ancestors had perfect diets so let’s all eat raw meat and forego shoes and throw boulders around for exercise and then everyone will be perfect” and all that hype. People get a little hung up on authenticity in the paleo community, so it seems! But from a health standpoint it has really helped Jon and I think it is, essentially awesome. Also, um, I have eaten two donuts in the past few days, so….sometimes you just have to live a little, even when trying to better yourself.

Some pros of eating paleo-lots of protein (with a focus on high quality, responsibly sourced meats-we get ours from a local farm, so we know exactly what we are putting in our bodies), tons of veggies, lots of nuts and fruit. Does a great job of keeping me full all the time, although Jon, with his crazy fast metabolism and manly self does snack more than I do.

Some cons of eating paleo-it’s more expensive than a regular diet. No cheap pasta/rice/potatoes, etc to bulk up meals! It adds up, believe me. But surprisingly, we’ve only spent about £20 more per week on our food than pre-Paleo, so I think it’s worth it, as long as we can wing it. Also, eating this way calls for more meal planning, particularly for breakfast and lunch-no cereal or oatmeal in the mornings, no sandwiches at lunch, so we had to think a lot more about it, or leave time in our pre-work schedules to scramble some eggs and pack up leftovers to take to work.

Now we haven’t been able to test out all food groups in terms of reincorporating them back into our diet yet. But I really like being paleo overall, so I’m actually not too worried about it. I thought I’d be chomping at the bit to eat a sandwich again…but it’s just not the case. Jon and I have both slimmed down a bit, and we both have a lot more energy and are just generally more chipper-no weird mood swings based on blood sugar drops and all that stuff. Jon does eat a lot, just like he used to, particularly in the evenings, but now it’s fruit and coconut cream, rather than entire sleeves of cookies, so I’m not going to complain about that!

Over the weekend we tested out bread and a donut each from the bakery in Lindfield. So completely not paleo! It was basically our first meal with bread since the new year. And no one died! But we both felt kinda….gross afterwards.  Sluggish and bloated. And really, I couldn’t tell if it was a purely physical response to eating grain, or if it was the fact that we are maybe kinda fully on the paleo bandwagon now. I just feel so much better! And if this is life without bread, well, I’m down for it. Most of the time. Mama needs a bagel and a beer every now and again. And cheese. Cheese!

I’m not sure what’s going to happen moving on from here. As of right now we’re hoping to go 80/20, with paleo most of the time and some “time off” as it were. And that works for me. And more importantly, that keeps my husband up and running and healthy, which is the most important thing. More important than everything else, really.

If you made it this far in my long, weird ramble, congratulations, and also, thanks for listening! It’s just been such a big part of our life lately that I wanted to write about it and share what we’ve been doing. Obviously there’s more I could say, but I think this is more than enough for now.

If you want to talk more about going paleo, or if you have some super awesome paleo or gluten-free recipes, I would love to chat. Let me know!

Family Dynamics

For those who aren’t used to it, it’s kind of strange seeing your spouse interact with their whole family. With Jon’s granny dying, this means what limited family that exists out in the world is in the process of congregating in England. This lends itself to more familial interaction than I’ve seen in the nearly 4 years Jon and I have been together, basically, since our wedding day, which was the last time Jon’s immediate family was reunited. Jon’s brother lives nearby, and Jon’s sister flew over from Canada, so it’s been a full house these past 4 or so days! (Also, on a side note, Jon’s sister married a Canadian, Jon married an American….I think it’s fair to say the Norris children love North America. Can’t blame them, it is pretty awesome. Plus-we have seasons).

What has been brought to my attention is the sort of family dynamics that come to the surface when grown children are reunited, and how everyone seems to revert to…something. Obviously I wasn’t around when Jon and his siblings were young, but I can see whatever remnants remain when the three of them are together-the baby brother as the golden child who can do no wrong in the eyes of his parents, the oldest sister that loves to boss everyone around (sometimes nicely and sometimes not) and my dude, the perpetual middle child, fading into the background and taking the most flack, and responding to it all by either ignoring the whole spectacle, or coming back with a withering sarcastic comment in return.

It’s not exactly fun all the time, to be honest, because I’m an oldest child myself and I just end up sticking up for Jon in places where he either doesn’t give a shit anyway, or where he could defend himself better than I can due to his a) being related to those in question, and b) being more easily able to quell an emotional response (I am constantly a tightly-wound ball of emotion and rage, guyz). It’s just weird. And kind of stressful. Obviously I want to stand up for my partner, but it’s hard to do so and so fully insert oneself into someone else’s family dynamic. Especially when, let’s be honest, that family doesn’t all get together very often at all. And also, most of it isn’t worth arguing over. But that’s family, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s just because in my family we all either chill out or yell at each other. We’re equal opportunity fighters! There is no sulking or even any awkward silences. If you have something to say to someone, they will, no doubt, have something to say right back. No need to defend anyone because they are there, defending themselves, or at the very least spouting off their  (usually pretty strong) opinions. No wilting flowers from whence I came. And I think that making a new place in a different family brings all this to light, because everyone’s place is so easy to see. Another family’s dynamics, of which I am now a part. Hmm. Something to get used to.

 

And then there are times when everyone is around and we play scrabble together and enjoy each other’s company…..that’s pretty cool. So…family! In-laws!

the gymnast, high above the ground

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Today I am grateful. For family and for love, for food in my belly and a good book to read. Friends near and far and an amazing partner in life who makes me laugh and keeps me company and makes me feel wanted. Cute dogs. Good tunes. A roof over my head and some money in the bank.

This morning Jon’s grandma died. She was a sweet old lady of nearly 90 glorious years, and will be dearly missed, and her passing has brought up all these feelings and thoughts that I can’t find the energy to articulate at the moment. Thoughts of generations living together, and the things that we owe one another; what it means to be elderly today and what will happen when Jon and I’s parents grow old; what will happen to my family if I live overseas as  they get old (and heaven forbid, sick). What it means to be a family and how intrinsically, deeply connected we all are to one another, whether we always remember or not, whether we see each other consistently or not. Family ties, in all their glory and strife and sorrow. And it makes me think of my grandmothers, both long gone now, and how much I still wish they were here to talk to and guide me. Because I don’t know if there is a day when I won’t need their guidance. I miss them. But mostly my heart hurts for Jon’s family, and their loss of a really great lady who I never really knew at her best, and most of all for Jon’s granddad, who, after all those decades of marriage is now facing an incomprehensible loss.

Please love each other.

Things that happened this week:

-I commuted five days in a row from Hayward’s Heath to Brighton. It more than doubled the commute I’m used to. Easy 15-30 minute walk from front door to school, bam! Now: 20 minute walk to station, 20 minutes on train, 15 walk to work from station. Other people have it far worst…but whew! It’s tiring, and quite a change. More time for train reading though, a tiny silver lining.

-The commuting made me extra sleepy.

– I devoured the thriller ‘Gone Girl’, a book which left me impressed by its can’t-put-it-down factor and myriad twists and turns, but disappointed by it’s ridiculously unbelievable/frustrating ending.

-I began teaching a group of 15 year old Polish teenagers. They are so very teenage-y that I can’t help but laugh in-between giving them stern looks and reminding them that they aren’t stupid so they don’t need to act that way.

-The snow melted. It disappeared so quickly after its few days of covering our little space, and left behind only spring in the (still so brisk) breeze. No longer freezing. Just cold. And the sun even came out yesterday (and disappeared today). Now there’s no telling what’s left of winter. Another snow? More and more rain? Or is it almost gone now?

-Jon and I got new phones! I (we) are in love. I can do all sorts of things again, and I am feeling very warm/fuzzy about the technology that is available to me. The world is a crazy place, man.

Why I wish everyone had a blog

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So you may have noticed that I have a blog, and that I enjoy writing that blog, and that I seem to talk about a lot of stuff here. And back in the day that was really normal-“that” being writing about things on the internet, and “the old days” being a time of xanga and myspace and livejournal (I never got on the livejournal bandwagon, but you know what I’m talking about). Back then, everybody had a blog! And everyone dangerously overshared, and everyone put all their business out there into the ether, and basically it was just kind of great for someone my age, at that time. It was nice and weird knowing so much-not just about your best friends, but about strangers out in the world. And it was somewhat safe because not everyone in the whole world was doing it-and especially not your whole family, and your grandma, and your boss, and all your teachers, and all of that. And they couldn’t find it anyway, unless you wanted them to. But now things are different. Not quite so free and breezy.

I think blogging may be as big as ever as a social platform, but the actual social aspect seems to be rapidly diminishing in favor of monetizing and going “big”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  There’s a lot less middle ground, and there are a lot fewer personal bloggers out there. And I don’t mean the big lifestyle blogs, posting instagram pics in between giveaways and all of that, I just mean people posting about their lives, and talking to other people posting about their lives in return. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t know a lot of people who blog without a specific thing in mind….photography, or personal fashion/style, or travel, or cooking, or what have you. Only a very few people in my life have similarly aimless internet spaces-two come to mind. Just two!

All of this to say, the overtly personal nature of the things I write leads me to sometimes feel as if I’m sharing too much, especially in the face of how few people I know and love are out there writing. It leads to a feeling as if a lot of people in my life, or in the periphery of my life, know really personal or minute things about my experience, while I know next to nothing about theirs. And that makes me sad. And a little jealous. Because I want to know as much about them as they know about me. All the things. That, or I want them to know nothing about me. All or nothing, know what I mean? But never writing on my end would make me sad, as well. I enjoy keeping track of life and recording it this way. I like staying in touch with my family and friends this way, and just generally writing about things and having them in a specific place. So we are at an impasse.

Being so far away from most of my people very obviously leaves huge spaces in my day to day. And what I’m saying is I do truly wish that more people were blogging, and it’s all for very selfish reasons. I miss my people. And no one talks like they write. Even my own husband-he kept a blog when we lived in Korea and I loved reading it. It was so different and yet so similar to the Jon that I saw every day.His reaction to things that we’d done or places he’d been-it was just fun for me to read those, later. And even now, reading back on that time is just a little bit magical, and nostalgic, and all of that. I wish he had a personal blog now (he has a professional one, and it’s just not the same). I really believe that writing allows for a different form of expression, different from how most of us express ourselves in person, even to those we love the most. And getting insight into that side of someone is mesmerizing, and intimate, in a way that few things are.

Most of this rambling is just to put out there what I’ve been thinking. It’s not too profound. But oh, I would love it if I could have a little list of blogs to check in on, written by my favorites, multiple times a week. It’d be so much easier to stay on top of things that way. Don’t you agree?

Sour Patch Kids-a global conspiracy of deliciousness

I am a sour person. Not in personality, I hope, but anything with a tart explosion is bound to find it’s way into my mouth, particularly if offered next to a boring piece of chocolate cake/brownies/cookies, etc. Obviously I love cupcakes, a love which can be found sprinkled throughout the pages of this very blog, but seriously, who doesn’t love cupcakes. I’m just saying-sour has my heart. Lemon bars, lemon heads, lemon curd…basically anything lemony. And when it comes to candies in particular, Sour Patch Kids are my one true love. True story-I had my friend meet me at the airport when I came back from South Korea for one single week during my summer break, Sour Patch Kids in hand. Other true story-Lindsey brought me a big ol’ bag of Sour Patch Kids when we met up in Paris in June, and my mom sent a massive bag of the treats in my Christmas box this year. This love is real (and I know good people, don’t I?).

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