Thursday, September 29, 2016

Early Eats for Autumn

Anyone else out there not a breakfast fan? I'm just not that hungry in the morning, but if I skip breakfast I let myself go to starving and make poor food choices. What's a girl to do?

I didn't start drinking coffee* regularly until a few years ago because caffeine makes me jittery. I also have trouble sleeping sometimes which might be affected by my coffee intake or the timing of my intake. I really like to drink something besides water, especially in the morning. So I mix up my morning beverage with different teas (chai, black, hibiscus depending on the day). Recently, I added hot spicy cocoa with 1/4tsp turmeric and hemp powder to my morning rotation. The cocoa and hemp powder does have a bit of sugar, but not too much (I don't sweeten my coffee because sugar makes me feel bad). The turmeric adds to the flavor, but doesn't overpower it.
The amount I make fills my favorite coffee cup twice. This cup was made by Parker and it is my favorite right now. I love the brown and blues in the pottery and it is a great size. Speaking of Parker, he is now hooked on this morning beverage too so he makes a big mug for himself.

*Not trying to dis coffee on National Coffee Day. I enjoy my coffee more when I don't drink it daily.

I've talked about being a savory gal when it comes to breakfast, but I've really been enjoying my new oatmeal routine. With all three of the kids homeschooling this year, morning are more leisurely, but breakfast is still kind of crazy. I wake up early with Rob and he eats toast with nutritional yeast or something light and quick. I drink my hot beverage and sit to chat with him before he goes to work. Often I walk Rob to work with the dog and by the time I'm home one or two of the kids are up. Most of the time Parker makes his own breakfast and maybe feeds a sibling or two. Since I've had a couple of miles under my belt, I am actually hungry. I used to make a big batch of steel cut oats, but now the quick rolled oats make more sense. I make just enough for me. I put all the ingredients in a bowl and heat up the water in the kettle, then let it sit while I deal with some dishes or laundry. It is "cooked" and ready to eat.
 I put 1/4 cup rolled organic oats, 1 tablespoon ground organic flax seeds, 2 tablespoons organic walnuts, 2 tablespoon organic barberries** and one cup of boiling water. After the oats soak the water, I add one cup of frozen blueberries. I'm full of energy without the weird crash I usually feel after sugar and I'm not hungry until well into the afternoon.
Something else I love to make, once there is a nip in the air, is applesauce. My family eats so many apples, an apple tree in my yard would cut my grocery bill by quite a fourth. The summer is not apple season so we buy less, but we still have them in the house. I had few left over since we bought some real autumn apples for snacking and those were disappearing, but the older apples just sat. No way will I compost apples so I cut them up, cook them down with some lemon juice, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. The kids love to eat fresh applesauce warm from the stove.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What We Did Over the Summer - Music Video

 I cannot even express how much fun this video was for all my kiddos. Several of their friends (adults and kids) were also involved. Elsinore has been one of their favorite local bands for years and Parker babysits for two of the band members' children. The director, John, was Dema's director for Listen and he is just amazing to work with. This video was shot at the end of summer vacation, but was just released yesterday. An old school friend of mine is also in the video so it was fun to catch up with him. Parker's girlfriend (at the time) and her sister are extras and they had a great time hanging out at the park, climbing trees, and laughing between takes. Enjoy!

Behind the scenes pics:
Dema, obviously, had very little experience with tennis prior to this video. One of the things I love about acting is learning new skills. All three kids have a desire to learn to play tennis now.

John getting some footage of Dema the ball boy. 
Emma (homeschooling friend), Josie having fun playing as things we set up. Parker getting into character as the cool famous ball boy. 
The tennis court where we filmed is at one of our favorite neighborhood parks, just about a mile from our house. Josie was so happy to play there again. 
Parker wasn't too cool to stay out of the trees.
From ball boy to tennis sensation. Dema thought the fizzy water was pretty cool until he took a drink. My kids aren't really into carbonation. They let him keep the shades and the trophy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Local Festivals

My kids want to attend any festival happening in our town. Music festival? They were there. Art? Of course. Sweetcorn? Yep. Taste of...usually nothing vegan. Not this year! Thanks to Dancing Dog, they were able to do the Taste festival with their friends and listen to one of our favorite local bands, all while spending all their tickets on vegan food.
Dema and Josie enjoying vegan cookies as big as their heads. They were even too big for these hungry kiddos to eat so they shared with their big brother and parents.
Parker digging into his vegan pulled pork with slaw sandwich and Dema enjoying some fresh veggie/fruit juice.
The next week Parker went with his girlfriend to a smaller town nearby for their festival and there was next to nothing for him to eat. I took Dema and Josie to our twin city's sweetcorn festival and Dancing Dog was there again to make our day brighter. They had freshly made (since their booth was right outside the restaurant this time) vegan elephant ears. The kids had never tried typical festival food before and they loved it! Of course, they washed it down with a Tingler (Beet, Carrot, Apple, Orange, Cucumber, Lemon, Lime, Ginger, Kale, Spinach, & Parsley juice).

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Healthy" as an Insult - Sports Fuel

During the summer, Josie's gymnastics team practices three times a week (for a total of about 12 hours) and one of these days they are at the gym over lunch. This means we pack a lunch once a week, but Josie is very different than the boys when it comes to what she wants to eat. Also, her needs for refueling after four hours of gymnastics is not the same as Dema's needs for lunch during school. Josie is also on swim team five days a week so some days she goes to swim practice before gymnastics or leaves gymnastics early to swim. This means a quick snack, usually fresh fruit or veggie, to fuel her for the next sport.
Josie snacking on carrots during a swim meet.
Josie helps me pack her lunch in the morning and some days it is entirely fresh fruits and veggies. I worried about it not being enough to fill her up so I sometimes talk her into a hummus sandwich or in the lunch below some Gardein.
Clementine sections, organic red grapes, organic carrots, Gardein Crispy Tenders, roasted organic green beans with turmeric, black pepper, and nutritional yeast, barkTHINS Dark Chocolate with Pumpkin Seeds
Several times Josie has come home from gymnastics this summer to tell me her teammates are making fun of her "healthy" lunch. This amazes me since you would think athletes, even child athletes, would care more about what they put in their bodies. There is a little effort on the part of the some of the coaches to talk about positive food choices*, but really the gym is full of fast food since the coaches and the gymnasts have pretty crazy schedules. It makes me sad, but most of the time it doesn't concern me. When my kid is getting mean comments from teammates, it crosses a line. I have started several emails to her coaches, but never sent them. You have to pick your battles and I'm not sure if this one is worth a fight.
On the last day of summer gymnastics practice, the gym had a treat truck. 
Some days as a vegan parent, you hear the complaint that you make your kids "eat too healthy". Other days when your kid is happy to find a vegan cookie at a predominantly non-vegan place you might hear about "junk food vegans". It is ironic. Really, we are just normal people eating food that works will our world view of compassion and care for the sentient beings as well as the environment. Just like any parent, we strive to bring up health, happy, compassionate, and aware people who are stewards of the planet and caring members of their community.

UPDATE: Josie continues to enjoy her "healthy" lunches and even shares with a few of her teammates. It took all summer, but they seem to be bothering her less.

*Last year, one of her coaches went off on a diatribe during practice about the ill effects of soy foods. That was sort of a last straw since not once has this coach said anything about fresh fries or candy, in fact candy is used sometimes as an incentive or reward. The one coach who had some nutrition background is no longer working at the gym, but he did have some common sense advice for the gymnasts and never knocked our vegan diet.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What We Did Over the Summer - Film

One of favorite things about our community is the local theater/film scene. It is quite special. The kids look forward to Pens to Lens time every year. Parker has written scripts for three years, the boys have acted in the films for three years, and now Josie joined in for the acting this year. We were involved in more films this year than ever and the kids were in heaven. It is a lot of work, but truly their favorite thing to do.

Dema, Parker, and Josie at the Pens to Lens 2016 Gala.
Parker's Pens to Lens 2016:
Parker and his girlfriend, Zoey at the Pens to Lens 2016 Gala.
This year Parker's screenplay was made into a short film. Parker absolutely loves acting in the films, but having his idea and words brought to the screen was a new big thrill. The local newspaper interviewed Parker this year.

Parker with the director for The Star Prince.
Parker with one of the adult actors (and a director of a different film) in The Star Prince and The Star Prince director.
The Search for Pizza

Hello Fear

Parker with his Hello Fear "mom". She was also his 6th grade drama teacher.
Hello Fear director and screen writer with Parker.
Fast Rodney, Who Was On His Way Out
I am so proud to have four out of our five family members involved in this short film.
Fast Rodney's director with some of the cast and crew.

Dema's Pens to Lens 2016:
Dema was cast in Listen several weeks before shooting started. I was able to read the script and I knew immediately I would love this film. It is so touching and I am so proud Dema was able to be a part of this short. It is a subject close to my heart since my mother died of cancer 14 years ago. When I saw Listen on the big screen, I couldn't stop crying.
Dema with his "mom", the producer, and director of Listen.

Josie's Pens to Lens 2016:
Josie with her director and co-stars of Bumps in the Night.
Josie with the cast, crew, director, and screen writer for Bumps in the Night. Notice Josie had two dresses for the Gala. There was an afternoon block of films and an evening block. She changed between the two into her evening dress (the blue one).

The kids are called on stage after the viewing of their films. Josie was the only child in attendance for Goldfish (see below) and she was on stage for Bumps in the Night.
Parker sat with his friends and Josie sat with her Bumps in the Night director and cast. Here they are both called up to go on stage.
Dema and Josie on the red carpet for the evening block of films.
Josie was an extra (a "mean girl" at the beginning, blink and you miss her) in Goldfish and our friends were involved in acting, etc. so please check it out.

We were so fortune to work with so many gifted people from the screen writers to the directors, producers, cast (adults and kids), and all the crew who give of their time, their space, and their talents to make this annual event a success. It is such an awesome experience for everyone involved.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Inspiration - Teens in the Kitchen

Parker is cooking more and more these days. All three kids go in cooking spurts, sometimes they are super interested and eager to help or go it alone in the kitchen, other times I don't see them until they are ready to eat. It makes sense, I am that way too.

I bought Parker his first cookbook, well the first one that really belongs to him and he will take when he moves out in a couple years. I chose The Vegan Stoner Cookbook (I highly recommend checking out the blog) because the recipes are simple, easy to follow, and make the right amount of food for a college student on his own. On his own. Sixteen snuck up on me and now I can barely look at Parker without seeing him on his own.

He thinks about it a lot too and is eager to learn some life skills and take some least in the kitchen.
Ingredients: olive oil, garlic, onions, better than bouillon cube (low salt), water, parsley, thyme, turmeric, black pepper, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, green beans, mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers, tofu, and soy milk.
 Parker is often inspired by food he eats in restaurants. This one is a creamy vegetable soup that he ate years ago in a Thai restaurant. This soup wasn't on the menu and we frequented the restaurant and got to know the owners/chef. The chef made this vegan soup just for our kids.
Parker made this Thai red curry over brown rice that is similar to a dish I make and
a healthier version of something we get at our favorite Thai restaurant.

He is thinking about starting his own vegan cooking show on YouTube. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


As an adult, I don't remember liking my birthday. Special days are stressful and too much pressure.  I like spontaneous fun days, flowers for no reason, cards just to say "I'm thinking of you", but I cringe at days that are designated as special. 

I might have liked my first mother's day, but after my mother died, I didn't really like mother's day either. 

What I do like is looking at my kids and my family and trying to enjoy them every day of the year. I won't lie, that can be difficult at times. But each and every day, even the really tough ones, I am very thankful to have these three amazing people in my life. These people who call me mom.
Parker 16
Dema 12.
Josie 8.