Author Archives: Tracey March

My Estrogen Patch and I Won a Mountain Bike Race!

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My estrogen patch, Viv, and I enjoying a Deschutes Brewery River Ale on the podium!

This is just a quick update… but in a nutshell, this post is about how menopause does not turn you into an emotionally-unstable-shriveled-up-old-lady. Ignore that crap. 

Side note: my new hashtag of the month is: #menopawesome. Nice, right? 

A couple of weeks ago I found out I’m not only peri-menopausal, but full-on menopausal. Although I’m generally pretty open about girly things, I found myself reluctant to reveal this information publicly. Anyway, obviously if I’m blogging about it, I decided to out myself–mostly because 1/2 the world goes through menopause and there should be no shame in it.

So there.

My only symptom was several hot flashes through the night, which happened every hour or two. For 3 weeks I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep, and the week before that I’d had jet lag from a month-long trip to Nepal (more on that amazing trip later), so my sleep situation was not good.

I like my sleep. I was getting cranky, and more forgetful and disorganized than usual. And my work was suffering.

Anyway, after a blood test revealed I was in the throes of menopause and not suffering from some awful disease (which I may or may not have been secretly hoping was the case), I found myself on the Vivelle Dot–an estrogen patch. This was unexpected. The average age of menopause is 51. I’m 45. A mere young’un.

Being a geek for studies and bikes, I set about seeing if less estrogen would make me faster on two wheels. I found nothing to support that theory, although I did locate a study that found  “endurance performance was not influenced by the phase of the normal menstrual cycle” or “the synthetic menstrual cycle” of those on oral contraceptives.” Based on that, I figured less estrogen might not make me faster, but it probably wouldn’t slow me down either.

Anyway, back to the sleepless nights…

Thanks to the Vivelle Dot, whom I affectionately refer to as “Viv,” the hot flashes went away, and on my second night with Viv, I slept like a baby, and have done so ever since. 

Even better, since I was actually getting sleep, I was more rested and felt stronger on my bike. And I won my first mountain bike race, the 31.4 mile Cascade Chainbreaker, Sport Women 40-49, on Saturday. 

So Yay for me, thank you Viv, and welcome back Sleep–I’ve missed you! 

PS: I found Viv after doing some research and chatting with my awesome naturopath, weighing all the risks and benefits and taking into account my current state of health. So feel free to judge me for not going 100% au naturale and hormone-free on the menopause thing. This is America–you can think what you want. And know that I get to make my own informed decisions about my body. And I can change my mind at any time based on new information. Yay feminism!! And science!! 

 

 

Abercrombie & Fitch Social Media Payback…

So, I saw this on Upworthy, and I LOVE it, except for the fact that it vilifies the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO a bit too much, and it makes fun of the way he looks, which goes against everything I’ve been trying to teach my kid. The CEO might be a bit of a socially irresponsible elitist jackass in his decision making and the way he runs his business, but making fun of his face just isn’t nice. You might think it’s too PC, but I prefer not to play that way — I think you end up with more credibility in the end.

Anyway, beside that, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea in this clip: clothe the homeless in A&F apparel. Read More →

Deeper Voice, Higher Salary. Are Women Screwed?

Hunh.

Forbes reported this week that CEOs with deeper voices make about $187,000 more a year than those with higher voices, and they also keep their jobs five months longer. The study that prompted the article was done by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Development. I’m going to refrain from making juvenile jokes about Fuqua–but you know what I’m thinking. A similar study last year found voters prefer political candidates with deeper voices. Read More →

Marketing Food to Kids (and how I’m a bit of a sucker myself)

Just about every other Monday I do a “big shop” at Safeway. I go right after I drop Devon at school at 7:45 AM (we have issues getting the bus–lame, I know). It’s always quiet and the lines are short, which is perfect because I really don’t enjoy shopping.

Except, I now find it a little thrilling.

“Why?” you ask. Well, let me tell you: Safeway tells me how much money I saved on my receipt, and I’m a sucker for that particular marketing ploy. Read More →

Uncle Jay: Family Traditions Instigator and So Much More

My brother came to visit last week. We’ve missed him.

We love Uncle Jay because he's goofy.

We love Uncle Jay because he’s funny and goofy.

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Three Things About Kids and Learning That You Should Know

Pi Day Celebration

Pi Day Celebration

Being somewhat self-reflective and slightly neurotic (although I’m told you’d never know it if you meet me, thank goodness!), pretty much every day I wonder if I’m screwing Devon up in some way. Do I coddle her? Does she need more structure? Should I step back and let her make mistakes? Should we impose more rules? What would happen to her grades if we stop asking questions?

Aside: Devon is a great kid, so clearly these questions are more about me.

So. When I found myself sitting across a dinner table from Jessica Sommerville, PhD, and Associate Director for the Foundations for Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Competence at the Center for Child and Family Well-Being at the University of Washington, I had to ask this question:

“What are the things you think parents need to know so they don’t screw up their kids, or at least so they can minimize the damage?”

Read More →

Giving My Kid a Chance: Facebook. Oh God.

Rodney's a lucky dude.

No fish lips here.

For years, Devon has been asking for a Facebook account. For years, I’ve said no. In my gut, I’ve worried that Facebook isn’t an appropriate forum for kids.  Before Facebook, embarrassing moments and rumors were kept mostly within the bounds of school; now they’re potentially global–which I can imagine could be humiliating to epic proportions.  I see some of my Facebook friends–mostly kids–share a little too much information, usually out of anger, sadness, or boredom. And then there’s the fact that once you’ve posted something, it can come back and bite you in the rear.

So why on earth did we let her get a Facebook account? The reasons are practical and philosophical. Here goes:

Our family and friends are spread out and in different time zones.

Devon’s best friend lives in Sweden, and has a Facebook account. She sees her friends who live in Winthrop, where we used to live and which is 400 miles away, once a year. Many of them have Facebook accounts. The pony she loves is also in Winthrop, and Annie B. (pony and kid trainer extraordinaire) frequently posts photos of Sparky and the riding program on Facebook. Most of my family lives in England. Some of them use Facebook. Devon has cousins in Texas. They use Facebook too. They’re all keeping in touch with each other even though they’re in different time zones. Devon is missing out.

Rodney told me a few weeks ago that he thinks Devon should have a Facebook account. She needs to learn how to use social media, and if she starts now, we can supervise her. 

Full disclosure: this one hit a nerve. I’m paranoid that I’m overprotective and that I don’t give Devon opportunities to make her own mistakes. I constantly struggle with keeping her safe and letting her experience the world. I don’t think I’ll ever figure it out. Rodney is pretty balanced and very, very fair. His opinion carries a lot of weight with me. Which is good since we’re married and all.

In her social media class, the students were asked which social networks they’re on.

Devon told me she had to write “none” while all the other kids had actual websites to write down. Apparently she doesn’t consider Instagram to be a social network. And I bet some of the kids in the class aren’t on any social networks at all.  But, after Rodney’s comment a few weeks ago, this one was the final nail in the “no social networks until you’re thirty” coffin. It struck me that this social media class could address how to use social networks, what is appropriate to write on social networks, and how body language can affect a face-to-face conversation and how network conversations are different. And maybe about how something you write on a social network could come back and bite you in the ass years later. It strikes me that it could be one of the most useful classes she takes if it teaches good social network skills to her and her peers. I need to find out more about the course material–it might make me feel better.

Because Devon is thirteen, we get to set some Facebook ground rules (which are subject to change based on new information). 

  • Use Facebook for the powers of good, and not evil. My first post on Devon’s wall said just that, and she responded “Yes Yoda.”  Good answer.
  • No Facebook until all of your homework is done.
  • If you’re not sure if you should post something or not, DO NOT POST IT.  She’s got this one down. I’ve been talking about that for ages.
  • Mom and Dad know the password. Always. Well, maybe not always, but for now.
  • No fish lips poses or other photos that make me cringe. This one is is subjective, I know. But like the Supreme Court on porn, I’ll know it when I see it.
  • No cursing. No re-posting stuff that has cursing in it, unless I approve it first. I can’t make a bright-line rule on re-posting. Rodney and I curse. Sometimes cursing is funny—it’s all about the context. There, I said it. I suspect this one might evolve though, and I’m not sure in which direction.

So, Miss Devon.  Fly little bird, fly.  Well, not really. You can’t fly. But enjoy your new [limited] freedom [with rules]. Learn from it. Be kind with it. I’ll try to let you make mistakes. And I love you.

Do you guys have any social network rules for your kids?

By Tracey March

Those Chocolate Chunk Cookies You Like with the Pecans

So Miss Devon.  This is the recipe for those chocolate chunk cookies you like:

Take out Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours” cookbook and turn to page 68.  Either I’ll still have it, or I’ll have given it to you, but we’re keeping this one in the family. Fo sho!

The recipe is for “My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.”  I mixed it up a little with an idea from David Lebovitz – instead of unsalted butter and 1-1.5 teaspoons of sale, substitute Paysan Breton (Au Sel De Mer) “salty butter.”  For the nut selection, add pecans.

 

This is the first cookie you ever enjoyed that had nuts.  I will be forever grateful to Dorie Greenspan for that!

 

Preserved Lemons Save the Day!

So.  Last night I needed lemons for a marinade for some chicken thighs I wanted to grill and I also needed lemons to dress a farro salad.  The problem was I only had 3 lemons, but I needed over 1/2 cup of lemon juice.  My solution?  The home-made preserved lemons I had in the fridge!

All I did was pull out one of the preserved lemons from the jar, chop it up and add it to the marinade.  I added extra olive oil to dilute the saltiness of the briny syrupy solution the lemons are preserved in.  I was still nervous that the chicken would end up being too salty, but it was actually delicious!  The one lemon substituted for 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

That was the first successful substitution.  The second substitution was much less risky – I had no white wine vinegar so threw in some red instead.  Nothing crazy there.

Here’s the recipe:

Preserved Lemon Marinade
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 preserved lemon, chopped, with about 1 tablespoon of syrupy brine
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  3. 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
  4. 2 tbsp dried rosemary (crunched in your hands)
  5. 1 tbsp dried oregano
  6. 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  7. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  8. about 10 chicken thighs (leave skin on)
Instructions
  1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Put thighs in a ziploc bag or dish and pour marinade over them, and stir them up a bit with your hands to make sure you have good coverage. Cover and marinate in fridge for 4 hours (or longer if you need to).
Adapted from Broiled Lemon Chicken recipe from The Ultimate Cookbook, by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough)
Adapted from Broiled Lemon Chicken recipe from The Ultimate Cookbook, by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough)
Warm Bricks http://warmbricks.com/
This was such a great lesson in substitutions actually working out!

But I do have a question – does it really matter if you use red or white wine vinegar?

The Magical Transformation of Chocolate Cake by Refrigeration

So, I’ve been getting into foodie stuff over the past couple of years (it coincided with me not having a law practice any more — something for which I shall forever be grateful to my husband for!). A couple of years ago I discovered the Chocolate and Zucchiniblog — by Clotilde Dusoulier, a Parisian foodie (and other things I’m sure). Right away I loved her site because she has both a french and english version, and offers a regular “Edible Idiom” post in which she takes a french food phrase and translates it — something the french language geek wanna-be in me appreciates very much.

I recently happened upon Ms. Dusoulier’s Chocolate Melt-in-your-Mouth Cakeand for some strange reason knew I had to make it. It’s strange because I’m more a salt than a sugar person — I rarely bake cakes, and if I do eat chocolate, I really only like a piece or two of good quality, not too bitter, chocolate. Anyway – this recipe spoke to me (probably because it looked easy, has a ton of butter and only one tbsp of flour!), hallelujah!!!

Although Clotilde clearly warns that the cake should be refrigerated for a few hours before eating, I initially chose to ignore that advice. The texture was this odd greasy, flaky crumby mess that didn’t actually taste that bad, but I wasn’t going weak at the knees for it. Fast forward to the next day, after some magical overnight refrigeration: it was fudgy and more solidified (yup, all that butter hardened right up), and then I took a bite. Wow. I’m drooling now just thinking about it.
Who knew that refrigerating chocolate cake can transform it so much!? Why didn’t I know this? I nonchalantly mentioned my discovery to my friend Stew, thinking this might actually be news to her, only to find that she was already aware of the magical powers of refrigeration… Dang, I have so much to learn!
Even better – it was a breeze to make. It’s already in my recipe folder.
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