Monthly Archives: March 2011

How to Stay in Love with Your Spouse Even When He/She Does Annoying Things

March 31, 2011

On February 15, 2008, the first full day of wearing my brand new sparkling engagement ring, I realized something alarming. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted to give me advice. Some of it was great (Write in your journal! Have your bridesmaids help you with your thank-you cards!), but some of it was not—and I mean inappropriate, make you squirm, get me out of here, advice.

For example, during a meeting at work one of the organization’s ancient members offered me the following pearls of wisdom:

  1. Marry a return missionary. (Ignored.)
  2. Make sure your fiancée doesn’t look at porn, because if he does, he’ll never stop.( O.M.G.)

A mere 3 days later I was forced to sit through a 45 minute lecture with another work associate who walked me through all the reasons why I probably didn’t know my spouse well enough (I assured him we’d dated for several years), and the statistics of how many marriages end in divorce. If it wouldn’t have caused negative repercussions for the organization I worked for, I would have told him to go to hell.

After David and I got home from our honeymoon in Maui and real life started, I did an assessment of all the advice I’d been given and mentally threw out most of it. However, there was one bit that really stuck and I think really is worth something:

Give your spouse a free pass on 5 things you find annoying.

Sounds simple, right?

When you chose to be with your partner I’m sure you had a long list of reasons why. Mine included important things like his green eyes and the fact that he can befriend anyone. I know you had a list like this. And I’m hoping that at some point you also thought about your then boyfriend/girlfriend’s faults and decided that the pluses outweighed the minuses.  Then came the Annoying Things.

You know what I’m talking about—and this doesn’t just apply to spouses. Annoying Things are those little habits belonging to the people around us that for no apparent reason drive you completely up the wall.  They never rinse out their cereal bowls. They chew too loud. Maybe they’re ridiculously perky at 6 in the morning, or they clip their toenails on the couch. And suddenly these little things are a big deal and are taking away from your relationship with that person. You can be sitting there—surrounded by everything you ever wanted in life (someone you love, a happy home, and a giant bowl of stir fry) but all you can think about is the way they slurp their noodles. You know it’s ridiculous, but you just can’t help it! It bugs!

You’ve got two options here. You can say “Quit slurping your noodles/Clipping your toenails/Whistling through your nose when your sleep/ Singing lyrics wrong/etc.!” And end up feeling more bugged, only now your spouse is on the defensive and perhaps brings up something annoying that you do. OR, you could invoke what I like to call the 5 Annoying Things clause.

Here’s how to use this important bit of marital wisdom:

1. Make a list of things you love about your spouse. Remember the reasons you’re with them. Spouse appreciation is a big deal, so do this even if they’re not doing Annoying Things.

2. Remember your own flaws. No matter how perfect you think you are, know that you are doing at least 5+ things that your spouse finds annoying.

David and I haven’t shared our 5 Annoying Things lists with each other, but I can imagine that his looks something like this: changing clothes repeatedly when I’m nervous to go somewhere, being able to decimate a clean kitchen within 6 minutes, never answering my cell phone, having terrible taste in music, and my ability to tune out everything (including small kitchen fires) when America’s Next Top Model is on.

3. Make your Free Pass List. Make a mental list (it’s not important enough to commit to paper) of Annoying Things you are willing to quit obsessing over, and keep it secret.

4. Think of reasons why the Annoying Things may actually be endearing. For example, during our first year of marriage David and I had conversations like the following about 3 times a week:

JENNA: (Walking into the room) You’ll never believe what I saw on Animal Planet. There are monkey in Japan who have learned how to hot tub during the winter to keep warm. They look hysterical!

DAVID: (Working on his computer) Uh huh.Really.

30 seconds of silence.

DAVID: (Coming to) Wait, what did you say?

You can see where I’m coming from. Here I am sharing completely interesting and engaging bits of knowledge and he has the nerve to keep his mind focused on his work. Really. However, once I started using the Free Pass list I realized that this delayed reaction thing was actually quite endearing. David’s mind seems to constantly be churning out new ideas, programs, etc. and his intelligence is one of the things I love the most about him.

5. Work the free pass. The next time the annoying thing comes up (and let the list be flexible) remember the list and just let it go. Hallelujiah. Freedom.


Right now I’m sitting across the table from David at a Starbucks. Just told him what I’m writing about and he said “You’re worth 10 Annoying Things.” I knew I married well.

10 Classic Novels You Might Actually Like

March 17, 2011

By the time I turned 11 I had read hundreds of childrens books (including a staggering amount from the Goosebumps series), and was ready to move on to bigger and better things. I picked up Gone With the Wind and the rest was history.

My propensity for curling up with a good book led to a major in English Literature (which I fought for a few semesters, all the while knowing exactly what I’d end up studying), where I read an awful.lot.of.books. Most of them classics. And that’s what this post is for—to encourage and inspire you to broaden your horizons with some really great literature.

I know classics can be tough, but they can also be extremely rewarding, and they’re called classics for a reason—they’ve got substance, memorable characters, very exciting plots, and some fabulous prose. They’ll challenge you, entertain you, teach you, and make you smarter. And with all that, they’re worth the extra effort. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell.

I read this for the first time in 6th grade and loved it. Loved it. The whole Southern belle thing really intrigued me, and even though you kind of hate Scarlett, you can’t help but be engrossed by her story. This takes place during the civil war in the south. Get ready for a long read but a good one.

2. The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck.

This book was pretty darn fascinating to me. This is a look at Chinese culture beyond Amy Tan, and while it made me terribly angry at parts, I really enjoyed it.

3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck.

Epic story about the great depression. David has strict orders to put this by my bedside every night if I ever get Alzheimer’s, so that I can read it afresh every day. If there is a book I want to read for the first time again, this is it. It is absolutely stunning.

4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

This feels like a crazy party. It’s set in America’s “Jazz Age” and is a whole different world.

5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

I really have read about 6 times. Love it. Go slow so you get the humor. I particularly love the ridiculous mother. And check out Kitty. You know people like this.

6. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.

This is an important book for both African American and female literature. This is the life story of an African American woman, told through her marriages to 3 different men. Different kind of book. Very interesting.

7. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier.

Sexy, mysterious, classic. And it was my uber conservative late grandmother’s favorite book, which is quite interesting.

8. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

This is dark, very dark. But worth reading.

9. The Portrait of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.

I love Oscar Wilde, and this is a great, shorter read with plenty for you to think about. I’d tell you more but I don’t want to give anything away. Just read this. And bask in the language! (See why I majored in English Lit?)

10. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.

I’m reading this mystery right now. I keep thinking “Man, this guy is clever!” and then I remember, oh yeah. It’s Dickens.

Before you run out to the library or Barnes and Noble, here are a few tips for keeping your interest going while reading these or other classic novels:

  • Use your resources. Older English is harder to understand, and that’s not because you’re dumb, it’s because we live in 2011.  Use cliffnotes, sparknotes, Wikipedia, whatever to help you out. Don’t let the language bog you down so that you lose the plot.
  • Use the footnotes. Most versions of classic novels will have footnotes that really can help you understand what you’re reading—they’ll tell you what the author is referring to.
  • Go slow. Take your time. You’re not going to get through this book like a Meg Cabot book.
  • Relate it to you. One thing I’ve learned from classic literature—people haven’t really changed much over the years. While their society and culture may be extremely different that ours, these books are about people that you will relate to.

Happy reading!



Low GI Jane: Tales from the Blood Sugar Battlefield

March 15, 2011

A few days ago I was told I couldn’t return a shirt because the store didn’t allow returns on sales items. The effect on me was stunning. My face started getting red and the following curse sprang to my mind (and unfortunately I’m not kidding): “May the burning fires of hell rain curses upon you!” It was a bit excessive. Then I looked down at my phone and realized it was 2:00 and I hadn’t had lunch yet and it all made sense. My blood sugar was low. And apparently I get very angry (and curse in my head like a warlock) when that happens.

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally made the connection between my mood and my blood sugar. Like realized I am a completely different person when it’s off. My worst blood sugar days always start with a simple carbohydrate breakfast. For about 20 minutes I feel energized, peppy, then I crash and am left feeling low, sluggish and very mean. Could one little bagel really be the cause of this? Without trying to, I have just entered the Blood Sugar Battlefield.

So what’s going on here? I’m going to get a bit technical here, and explain what happens when we eat foods high in sugar and why we crash afterwards.

A Very Clever Explanation

Every carbohydrate we eat, whether it be a donut, cornflakes, or a handful of almonds, gets converted into glucose, a very simple type of molecule that our muscles and tissues know how to work with. The G.I. (Glycemic Index) is a tool used to measure the rate at which carbohydrates break down into glucose in the bloodstream. Each food is giving a rating (1-100), and this number refers to how quickly the food we eat gets broken down into glucose, 1 being the slowest, 100 being the fastest. (You still with me?)

Whenever you ingest a high G.I. food, such as a doughnut ( which has a GI rating of about 76), the donut is broken  down into glucose very quickly, giving you a “sugar rush.” This completely panics your pancreas because it can be very dangerous to have extremely high levels of sugar in your blood (this is what is going on when diabetics go into a diabetic coma). So your pancreas reacts the best way it can, by releasing a ton of the hormone insulin, which acts as a kind of “hall pass” for glucose, escorting it out of your blood stream and into your tissues for immediate use, or to be stored as fat. (Wasn’t that a clever analogy? I know, I’m patting myself on the back right now.)

With an army of insulin removing all traces of glucose from your bloodstream you are suddenly left feeling very crummy. You’re hungry, maybe shaky and might start to feel a little bit panicky, moody or low energy. “I know how to fix this!” Your brain says. “You’re feeling crappy because there’s no more sugar in your system. Eat more sugar!” Insane cravings come over you and BAM. You’re right back where you started. Only this time you’re waiting at the Costco food court for a giant frozen yogurt. Poor body, it just keeps trying to overcompensate in some kind of twisted balancing act.

To some degree this process happens with everything we eat-but it’s the “simple foods” that are sugary, highly processed or just very starchy that send you on the sadistic rollercoaster ride.

Long Term Effects of Constant Sugar Crashes

100 years ago low G.I. foods were the norm. That’s all that was available because it didn’t occur to pioneer lady to pick some apples, smash them up with sugar and other additives and add things like Yellow 6.  Well, that’s what makes us so magical. Now that we have so much junk food available for every single meal and snack (think of the superhuman effort it takes not to eat these types of food) we are putting our bodies through all kinds of trauma. Over time this constant crash and burn takes a toll on our bodies, leading to a decreased sensitivity to glucose (diabetes), weight gain, difficult mood swing, Charlie Sheen-like behavior(trolls!), and PMS (think, insulin is a hormone—it makes sense that too much of it screws with your other hormones).

And if you’re trying to lose weight, listen up—this little fact really changed how I think about a few bites of cake. Not only is insulin good at removing glucose from the blood stream, but it has another job too. Insulin stops us from converting body fat into glucose for use by our muscles. So if you are constantly in the midst of a sugar rush—regardless of how few calories/fat etc you are eating, your body still can’t use up any fat you’re trying to get rid of. No wonder all these freaky low cal/low fat high G.I. food items aren’t helping us lose weight. All they’re doing is putting our bodies in a panic and leaving us strung out on sugar.

How to Keep Blood Sugar Steady

Enter low GI foods. Low GI foods (usually with a rating of 50 or below) enter our systems and break down much slower. For example, take a bowl of old-fashioned (not instant) which has a rating of 42. You eat the oatmeal and the body starts breaking it down, but it takes a while longer to turn to glucose because it’s got fiber and other important things that make your body work to turn it into glucose. As the oatmeal gets broken down its slow going. The pancreas gets messages every so often that insulin is needed, but just a little bit. Little by little your oatmeal is turned to glucose and your pancreas doles out insulin in a nice, calm relaxed way. Before you know it, your oatmeal has been absorbed and the morning is over—it’s time for lunch.

Where can I learn more?

I’m glad you asked, sonny. Of course I’ve read about 20 books on this. My favorites are by Rick Gallop, but I’ve listed some others that have also been helpful.

Living the G.I. by Rick Gallop (please not an excellent review posted by “Avid Reader” aka me)

The Low G.I. Diet Revolution by Miller, Foster-Powell, and Price

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Glycemic Index Weight Loss by Beale and Clark



P.S. Check by Thursday for “11 Classic Novels You Might Actually Like”

Parting Thoughts & Questions for Womack

March 15, 2011

As I watch “After the Final Rose” I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Another 3 months of wasted Monday nights. And for what? For a chance to watch a totally fake relationship rise and crash, with me tagging along right behind it.  Here are some of my thoughts on Brad’s season:

1. Why did Emily not have a personality until the last hour of the show?

2. Is there some type of Bachelor handbook that  feeds them phrases common to all bachelors and bachelorettes? Phrases would include:

  • This has been such a journey.
  • I never expected to feel this way.
  • I’m really falling in love with —, and its really a scary feeling.
  • I haven ‘t had these feelings in such a long time.

3. When will a Bachelor finally tell the truth when he is rejecting the last woman? I’m waiting for the moment when Bachelor says, “The truth is, I’ve fallen in love with someone else. And his name is Chris Harrison.”

4. Why does Reality Steve have to be so annoyingly correct?

5. Why was Emily dressed like an angel and Chantel like the devil?

6. Why was Michelle Money-Money-Money! (sing it!) in trouble for leaving her daughter, and Emily got no flack for it?

7. When will I stop believing that these two are going to make it? For crying out loud, I thought Jake and Vienna were going to make it.

8. How creepy was it to watch Brad’s twin? They even moved their hands the same.

9. How awesome were Chantel’s boobs? (had to throw that one in, really, that girl was gorgeous)

10. Tell the truth. Every time Brad started talking about his counselor did you get bored and wish they’d cut to a scene of him with his shirt off?

11. How much do you think the commercials right before the proposal cost?

12. Wait, did I miss something? Show just ended and I still don’t know who the new Bachelorette will be? Help please.


I guess its time for me to have a life again. Until May anyway. All of your Bachelor insights would be greatly appreciated.