Six months old. You're six months old. I can't even believe I'm the father of a six month old. And yet, at the same time, it's getting harder and harder to remember life without you, little girl. Life was so much simpler before you came along, but since you joined us, our lives have changed in such a fun way that I don't believe six-month-ago Andy could even imagine.
It's funny; In the days -- literally, just the few days -- leading up to the day you officially turned six months old, I could see major changes in you. Much less of a baby and more of a kid. They way you're interacting with everything in your environment just amazes me every day, like the way you stretch your arms out toward something that you want. Usually one of the animals. Or the "grown up food" that we're eating.
Speaking of grown up food, I'm really proud of the way you've taken to solid foods, and the types of food you're enjoying. Peas, carrots, bananas are far and away your favorites, but you've enjoyed -- with a somewhat quizical look on your face -- the taste and texture of sweet potatoes and avocado as well. I'm really glad you've taken to the fruits and vegetables, because your first solid food, oatmeal, didn't exactly go over like gangbusters.
Since this first experience, though, you've enjoyed a wide variety of fruits and veggies and loved it all.
Along with expanding your culinary horizons, we've found that there isn't much in this world that you love more than playing with the animals. As you know, you've always been close with Gus, but this past month you've really been all about the cats, Sammy and Frankie. It's almost as if you've been sitting back the first four or five months, studying and sizing them up to see if they could be trusted. Well, this month you have apparently decided that you would like them to be your friends as well. Few things make you happier than when Frankie sidles up to you and lets you rub her head. As much attitude as that cat has with most people, she has turned out to be super sweet -- not to mention highly tolerant -- with you and your antics.
You've officially outgrown your beloved tummy tub, and graduated to a big girl bath tub. And by "big girl bath tub," I mean a giant rubber ducky shaped pool -- courtesy of your Auntie Julenna -- that we put inside the larger tub. It gives you just enough room that you can splash around, but no so much that we have to worry about you knocking your head on anything. Before trying the baths out, though, we wanted to get you in the tub to see how you would react to the larger space and increased volume of water. You were a little puzzled by the situation at first, but that didn't stop you from kick-kick-kicking at the water like a madwoman.
Apart from your love of kicking, there's one other thing we're certain of: Those teeth are coming. Especially over this past month, we've really seen you get more an more fixated on your mouth and putting things in there to help soothe the discomfort. You finally figured out that you could actually suck in your lower lip and just chew on that when there was nothing else around to shove in there. This has resulted in the most adorable little closed mouth grin that we have ever seen.
We're both having so much fun watching you grow up and discover new things, little Lucy. But please, don't grow up too fast.
All my love,
Since announcing our participation in the Primal Challenge earlier this month, we've gotten a really wide array of responses. I had no people could get so worked up over a simple change in diet! Responses have included everything from "That's great, we've been eating that way for a while and feel great" all the way to "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard, and you'll probably die eating that way." Nevertheless, here we are, ten days in still alive and kicking, so I wanted to put together an update on how it's been going so far.
It's with complete surprise that I have to say that it really has been incredibly easy. January and I both work at home, so I feel like we already had a good head start on this thing; We were careful to clean out the fridge of anything off limits and make sure we were well stocked with the staples: lots of high quality meat, lots of vegetables and fruit, a few dozen eggs, and a few other odds and ends. From there it was a pretty simple matter of just using the stuff we had around the house to cook our meals. It also helped to plan the major meals ahead of time so we knew what was coming up and we didn't fall into the trap of "I'm so hungry, but I don't know what to make."
During this past week, we have had some of the best meals I can remember ever making at home. I'm going to save specific recipes for later this month, but a few of the things we've found to be our favorites are mini-quiches and fruit for breakfasts, coconut shrimp, and burgers (sans bun, of course). We've also been eating a crazy amount of avocado, which we both love. There are few things I can think of that aren't made better with a dollop of guacamole.
Personally, I did struggle a week into the challenge, when we got to the weekend. I woke up Saturday morning with an intense craving for pancakes. I love -- love -- eggs, but omelettes every morning for a solid week is too much even for me. I didn't give in on the pancakes, but we are still struggling to try to find good breakast options that don't include, or at least that don't feature, eggs.
While the food side of things is going pretty well, we've been somewhat hit-and-miss with the other facets of the challenge; We haven't seen a sunrise or sunset yet. It can be surprisingly difficult to find time to get outside, even for 15 minutes, on some days. And as for the "no glowing rectangles in the bedroom" rule, well, that lasted for about 1 hour the first night. What can I say? We're technology addicts.
But we're definitely already seeing some positive effects on our lives; January has mentioned several times that she feels more energetic, especially in the afternoon when people tend to start to drag a little. I think we've both noticed that our concentration has increased a bit, as well. And, most notably, over the past ten days we have lost a combined 18 pounds. Eighteen pounds! It's hard to argue with that.
We still have about three weeks left, but we're both really encouraged by how things are going so I expect it to fly right by without many major issues. If you've been thinking about trying paleo out or taking the Primal Challenge yourself, I would have to say that it's worth investingating. Check back in ten days the two-thirds update, and I'll talk a little more about the specific foods we're eating, and hopefully share a few recipes that have been getting us through the transition.
Some of my best memories from college involve just listening to music with friends; Live's The Distance to Here with my neighbor Dan DeBruyn, Fiona Apple's Tidal with my roommate Andrew Draper, driving to the Taco Bell in Muncie with Matt Guilford, listening to the Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack or Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind. Many conversations were had set to music and to this day, more than a decade later, I can listen to any one of these albums and I'm instantly taken back to those moments and I can remember exactly what it was like.
Music has always been an intensely social thing, and as music has evolved away from physical media into the digital age of direct downloads and personal MP3 players, I kind of feel like it's lost a bit of that interconnectedness. Music has slowly become a more personal, introspective thing and while that's not necessarily a bad thing I do miss the social byproduct of listening to good music with friends. As we get older and our lives get more hectic, it gets harder to get together for the "less important" things like just sitting around listening to music.
rrrrradio is a little something I built to help bring the social aspect of listening to music to the 21st century. Here's how it works: You're sitting at your desk, getting ready to start on your day's work, but you want a little music to get you started. From any web browser, you can navigate to http://rrrrradio.com and, after logging in, click the play button to get a steady stream of music. When a friend logs in to the site to listen, they will hear the exact same thing you're listening to. If there is a song in particular you want to listen to, you can search for it and add it to the upcoming queue, jukebox-style, and everyone who is logged on will be able to listen to it. Listeners can even "dedicate" their songs to specific people, who will be notified via email of the upcoming song.
Building rrrrradio really is the culmination of a decade of experiments in this area, and I think what we have here is just about the best implementation of social listening that I'm aware of, outside of actual album release parties. The site has been live in a sort of low-profile mode for the past two months and has been running incredibly smoothly. It's fun for as few as two listeners and has even had it's mettle tested with upwards of 30 simultaneous listeners.
But the music doesn't have to stop when you leave your computer. With today's public announcement of rrrrradio's web version, I also want to introduce the mobile version of rrrrradio: the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch app. Fresh from Apple's approval process, the app is available for immediate download. Listen in your car, on a run, while mowing the lawn, or anywhere else you have an Internet connection.
Now for the fine-print: Powering this application is Rdio's third-party API, which provides access to the streaming music itself. The upside to this is that the music itself and all the licensing that goes with it is handled directly by them; Without going into too much detail, they deal with the record labels, lawyers, and provide the necessary bandwidth so that developers don't have to worry about it. It's really a great deal for developers who want to integrate music into their applications, and we're taking full advantage of it here. The cost associated with it is, in my opinion, insanely reasonable: In order to listen to the web-based version of rrrrradio, you will need to be subscribed to the $4.99 "Rdio Web" subscription, and if you want to use the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch app you will need the $9.99 "Rdio Unlimited" plan. This monthly subscription not only enables access to the rrrrradio experience, but gives you acces to their entire library of 10 million songs, on demand, whenever you want through their web site, desktop applications, or mobile apps. I've been a subscriber for the past four months and it's changed the way I listen to music.
If you're interested but not quite sure you want to plunk down that monthly price, take advantage of their freel 7-day trial. You'll be able to listen to their entire catalog of music and experience both the desktop and mobile versions of rrrrradio for a full week. I think you'll enjoy it. Sign up, join in, start listening, and let me know what you think!
I've always thought diets were stupid and gimmicky. There has certainly not been a lack of fad diets over the past several years upon which I have focused my derision: Atkins, South Beach, and most recently the Maple Syrup diet. Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely not against eating well in order to lose weight, I just have a problem with these shortsighted attempts to give a sudden surge of weight loss at the sacrifice of actual healthly living. A large percentage of these fad diets do just result in a short-term drop in weight followed up with an immediate jump back up to near -- or worse then -- original weight.
So when January suggested early last month that we give the "Paleo diet" a chance, I naturally rolled my eyes. I rolled them in a complete 360 rotation, because there are few things I find as absurd as these fad diets. It doesn't help that my inner hipster can't stand a large number of things that are popular with the mainstream, simply because of their popularity. This is true of Vampires, Lady Gaga, and certainly extends to fad diets. But January persisted in her suggestion that this would be a good thing for us to do, so I took the time to look into it.
As I said, it's not the attempt to live healthier and lose weight that I have a problem, it's the myopic way in which it tends to be done with fad diets. I've always been of the mindset that if you want to be healthier and lose weight, you should change your lifestyle to one that promotes better health rather than just change your diet to some radical set of components that are supposed to magically burn away the fat. So imagine my surprise when I did research the "Paleo diet" a bit to discover that, really, a lifestyle change is exactly what it is.
Without getting into all the details, the proposal that the paleo diet makes is that many of the foods we eat today are -- in their raw state -- actually poisonous to our bodies and without being cooked or processed in some way, them are very harmful. The fact that we have to cook and process them to eat them makes them slightly more agreeable to our systems, but they are stil at their core harmful to our bodies and should be avoided. Think beans, potatoes, grains, and to a possibly lesser extent dairy. So at the basic level, the paleo diet is really less of a diet in the traditional sense and more of a realigning of the way we think about food to train us to avoid these foods that our bodies don't process well. Everything else is on the table, and there are no points to count or boxes to check. Simply "eat this" and "don't eat that." Or at least "eat this" and "try to avoid that."
So during the month of August, January and I are both committing to adjust our lifestyle a bit to fit into this mindset. Specifically, we're going to be following a superset of the paleo diet known as the "Primal Challenge." My friend and colleague Bob Ewing has it outlined in more detail on his web site, but It's basically the dietary component of the paleo diet, along with a few other lifestyle changes designed to simplify your life a bit. The basic guidelines are:
These are the basic principles January and I will be sticking to for the month of August, and possibly thereafter if this results in the expected drop in weight, uptick in energy, and overall better health.
Now, I'm sure this is very much against the spirit of paleo and the Primal Challenge, but nevertheless January and I spent this past weekend getting mentally prepared for what we would be giving up by indulging in our favorites one last time: Graffiti Burger, Papa John's, Chipotle and Aladdin's were somehow fit into the past two days. It was a delicious -- if not regrettable -- way to mark the end of the period in our lives when we value convenience over what's actually good for us. So here we go on what will hopefully not be just a "fad" in our life, but a refocusing on how we live and what we choose to put in our bodies. Stay tuned!