Friday, March 10, 2017

Neighbor Salad, Real Life Meals, and Fur Friends

I haven't talked as much about our wonderful neighbors lately because I'm trying to let go. We are contemplating a move and I've had to say so many goodbyes to so many wonderful friends here over the years, it is somewhat heartbreaking to think of saying more. Some days our neighbors just get us and I have to share. Vicky and Greg, quite often, make huge salads and text me asking if we want some too. It is so incredibly thoughtful, sweet, and appreciated. Want some? Of course, we do!
"Want some?"
Also, our neighbors, Abigail and Aaron loaned us two desk lamps the other evening no questions asked. Two local directors were shooting a promo at our house with Parker and we don't have any desk lamps. I knew one of our neighbors would come through. Deborah and Scott loaned Parker their Roomba for the short film he was in for the 48 Hour Film Project. No questions asked. We have sweet, awesome neighbors.

Josie has 12 hours of gymnastics per week, all three kids have 2 hours of swim conditioning a week, Parker has an hour of advanced hip hop and an hour of Zumba a week, Parker has rehearsals for two shows (one musical at a local private high school Monday - Friday and homeschool Shakespeare group once a week), Parker has bass lessons, Dema has Class Act rehearsal once a week, Parker has three weekly Dungeon's and Dragons groups (one that he hosts and DM's at our house and Dema also participates in this group), Parker takes classes twice a week at our local community college, and they do homeschooling lessons, hang out with friends and family, sleep. With all of this going on in our lives, I've given myself a break on making everything from scratch, but we can't skimp on nutrition so I still pile on the veggies and we always have lots of fresh and dried fruit around for a quick snack. How can one keep the veggies, grain, legumes from getting boring? Sauces. The kids can tell a bottled sauce a mile away, but I've found a couple that aren't completely disappointing for them. I found a package of Beyond Chicken in the back of the freezer (the kids are not huge fans of Beyond Meat products, but the "chicken" one is not too bad), peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brown rice, served with a General Tso's sauce and I have an almost instant meal.

Dog House:
When we have canine boarders for a more than a couple days, they start to feel like part of the family. We've taken care of Bodie for a couple weeks at a time twice now and he settles in so well and loves the kids. He is also one of the few dogs we care for who really missed Rob when he's gone. It is really sweet!
Bodie and Josie

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Never Alone and Ones and Zeros - 48 Hour Film Project

Last year, Josie had the pleasure of working with Jon Lecouris (a local musician and film director) on a 48 Hour Film Project. You can see it here. This was our first involvement in the project. It was so much fun! Each team (there were about nine last year and this year) gets a prop, a line, and a character at 7pm on a Friday night. They have until Sunday at 7pm to submit a finished film with these three components included. It is pretty cool so see how different the ideas are when given the same prop, line, and character. 

This year, Parker was included in a team (the director, Thomas Polk, who directed Parker's screen play, Star Prince was the captain of the team) from the inception so he got to stay up until 1:00 or so in the morning coming up with plot lines, helped with every stage of the project except for editing. Dema and I found out late Friday night that Rachel Berry (the director for Fast Rodney, Who Was On His Way Out) cast us in her film. She sent me the script first thing Saturday morning and we spent all day Saturday on set filming. It is so intense and fun!

Remember, these aren't super polished films since we only have 48 hours from start to finish, but it is a great exercise in getting something together in a short time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sewing, Curry, and Islam

Life Skills:

Sewing is one of those very helpful life skills, especially for parents of theater kids, that my mom could have taught me, but she hated to sew herself so she never did. I've tried to learn a couple other times from friends, while they taught Parker, and it always frustrated me. I did some sewing in Girl Scouts when I was about Josie's age and ended up being a disaster. I was one of those kids who likes to be good at something immediately and without much effort. Getting good grades was that way for me and so was playing the clarinet, but sewing wasn't something I could just sit down and excel. Rob sews a bit and Parker remembers how to sew from when he was little. Recently, our sweet and patient neighbor offered to teach us all so I quickly took her up on it!
Vicky watching Josie work on her stitches.
Dema wasn't at all interested, but since the rest of us were going, he thought he'd go to Vicky's and pet her cat. He ended up loving sewing. He's got a lot of gangly self-conscious pre-teen energy so he wasn't the most graceful, but he really is eager to learn more!
Vicky showing Dema how to deal with thread issues.
I bought some green curry paste the other day from our local store, World Harvest, and now I can't stop making different green curry based meals. This one has brown rice, tofu, sweet peas, and broccoli rabe. Parker and I could eat curry every day, but Josie grows tired of curries and prefers beans and rice so I've been making quite of lot of burrito/bean bowl type meals too.

Activist Snippet: The year Parker was born, 2000, I read a lot. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my kids for the last 17 years, but it took some getting used to since I'd had at least one full-time job and often three part-time jobs since I was 15 years old. It was weird to be home and this was before smart phones so I read a lot of books. I would nurse my newborn or lay down with him for naps and be "stuck" for hours so I had books handy everywhere around the house. It reminded me of my childhood, always having a huge stack of books bedside, reading several at a time. It was glorious! One of the authors I read in those early days of parenting, was Karen Armstrong. I have always loved to learn about religions and I find her books fascinating. It hit me today as I walked past my bookshelf that I've kept all of Karen's books even with the massive purging of books/things in our lives to get down to a more minimalistic lifestyle. It also stuck me that my 12 year old, Dema, who is currently interested in the Ottoman Empire and religion, would/should read her book Islam: A Short History. I think we might start reading it together since I last read it so many years ago. It is important to me for my kids to grow up understanding different beliefs. They had Muslim friends in their homeschooling group, Joy in Learning, and they learned about Islam a bit, but in this world of fear and misinformation, it is important to delve deeper.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Know Your Drugs, Know Your Doses Part II

It is probably pretty clear by now that I love to throw things together. I really like "clean out the pantry" meals. I had some red wine in the refrigerator and didn't feel like making risotto so I sautéed a red onion that was on sale and needed to be used immediately or composted, minced garlic, cubed a few leftover sad potatoes, and boiled them in the wine until the alcohol cooked off and the potatoes were soft. I added turmeric, black pepper, green curry paste, a bunch of kale, cubed tofu, some vegetable broth, ramen noodles, and some coconut milk. I added a bit of siracha and za'atar to mine. It was a yummy hearty meal and food didn't go to waste.


I posted five years ago about my doctor's visit and I went to the doctor for a check-up recently and decided to compare how my numbers look in my mid-40's to just turning 40. I also wanted to talk about vitamin D.

My Numbers (2 days before turning 40):
  • Blood Pressure - 102/68
  • Pulse - 72
  • Total Cholesterol - 167
  • HDL - 48
  • TC/HDL Ratio - 3.5:1 
  • LDL -110
  • Triglycerides - 43
  • Glucose -82
  • B12 -852 
My numbers now (45):
  • Blood Pressure - 108/68
  • Pulse - 67
  • Total Cholesterol - 163
  • HDL - 54
  • LDL - 90
  • Triglycerides - 93
  • Glucose - 85
  • B12 - 1183
  • D - 8.8!!!!*
*Way lower than it should be and I don't know how long it has been low because past doctors haven't wanted to check since I wasn't showing symptoms, even when I asked for it. Ugh!

I started taking vitamin D (low dose, I think it was around 600 in spray form) in winter months a couple years ago, but I never really took it religiously. I was super relaxed about it. Never again! Vitamin D is now a daily part of our routine.

Activist Snippet:

The kids, especially my 12 year old, Dema, have To Kill a Mockingbird on CD and they are listening to it over and over these days. It is on in the background as they work on math equations, it is on as they draw, it is on while they play with Legos. I realize there are some issues with this classic and it deals with racism with the white man being the "hero" of the story, but it has sparked a lot of great discussion.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Parker's 17th Birthday

Parker, my eldest, turned 17 on Sunday. It doesn't even seem possible. He and four of his friends went to a local "escape room" and had a great time then came back to our house for board games and some snacks. 
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar Kitchen Sink Chocolate Biscotti with dried cherries and pecans.
Parker is not a huge sweets fan so he asked for biscotti instead of cake or another dessert.
Focaccia bread and samosas with mint and cilantro chutney.
 Parker loves samosas and they are easy to eat while playing games.
Clementines, chips, salsa, and guacamole.
 Parker wanted fishless tacos for the get together, but since he's the only vegan in the group and everyone was stuffed from the snacks, I made the tacos tonight.
Vegan fishless tacos.
I made the sauce out of cilantro, vegan sour cream, water, garlic, cumin, cayenne, jalapeno peppers,  lime juice, a bit of sugar, and a pinch of iodized salt. I used Gardein fishes filets, but next time I'll try tofu. Parker really loved them and I could eat anything with the sauce so I'll definitely make them again.

Parker's birth story is here. If you have little ones, hug them often. It really does fly by!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Black Bean and Kale Quesadillas, The Great Cover Up, and Reading as Rebellion


Josie was super hungry last night after gymnastics and craving burritos, but we decided on warming up some tomato soup (with focassia bread we bought that day from our local bakery), kale and black bean quesadillas on tomato basil tortillas, and bananas with peanut butter and barberries. Super quick and easy, Josie helped saute the red onions, black beans, and kale which made her forget how hungry she was until the food was ready. Everyone enjoyed it and she had time to play xbox soccer with Rob before we settled in to read more chapters of The Girl Who Drank the Moon*.


Being true to my resolution to get out and see more local bands, Rob and I made it to our towns annual "Great Cover Up" which features local bands covering famous bands often in extraordinary ways. It is a favorite event for us and it usually last two weekends so we go once to see a band we know, but this year we were there for the first night and the closing night. It was nice to go out just the two of us and great to see bands we knew and others we are getting to know.

We finally got a change to see John Isberg (the director for Listen, a short film Dema was in over the summer, and several music videos the kids have been in) and his band, Tigerbeat, play. They covered The Church. I can't wait to check them out sometime soon playing their own songs.
Ryan Groff and Kayla Brown hilariously covering Flight of the Conchords.
This year Ryan from Elsinore didn't have his band, but joined up with his friend and amazing local female singer, Kayla Brown. It was the laugh out loud fun that I needed.
Here is Ryan and Elsinore covering Whitney Houston two years ago. It will always be one of my favorites:

And three years ago as Nirvana:

We didn't weren't at the Cover Up this year, but here is Ryan as Buddy Holly:

Okay, I got a little carried away there.

Activist Snippets:

*While Rob was in California last week, I decided to revive a favorite family time. All three kids shared a room for a while and even after they split up, I used to read to them. I read the entire Harry Potter series and many other books. It can be hard to find something that appeals to a seven and a half year age range, but some of my best childhood memories are of my dad reading to me and my sister and we are seven and half years apart. I  know 17 is less than a week away for my eldest, but he humored me and my 12 and 9 year old actually asked for more reading time and we started earlier each night. My sister had just given the kids bags of books and I picked The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill at random to read aloud. It ends up being a pretty good book for our current situation in the United States. It has a government lying to their people to keep the elite in place and in power. Sometimes the best thing we can do to "resist" is bring our family closer and read together.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Gymnastics Meet with Biscotti, a Short Film with Blood, and an Activist Snippet

So much going on in our part of the world right now with the new regime installed in the US government, it is hard to think about everyday things, but life goes one between protests and calling elected officials.


Josie attended a gymnastics meet in Indianapolis on Friday. Yes, meets sometimes start on Fridays to get everyone in. This means taking a day off school for many. We homeschool so not as much of issue for us. The boys stayed home and took care of the dogs and did the various activities they have on Fridays. Rob was traveling back from California so he couldn't come, but my sister was free and she even drove us since our car needs new tires. Not only did Karen drive, but she also made us some delicious vegan "Kitchen Sink" biscotti from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.
Josie at "her tree" in the park next to our house. She was trying to calm her nerves.
Josie was not happy to attend Circle of Stars gymnastics meet this year. Last year it was her "worst meet". It was the only meet she didn't medal, it is one biggest meet she's ever attended, she doesn't like the floor routine setup (it is a long strip instead of a square), and with the hour time difference and travel time it takes longer. She doesn't have to go to every meet so we were going to skip this one, but after talking to her, we all decided it was better to face her fears.
Josie and Karen with their cheeks full of biscotti trying to smile for me.
It was so nice having Aunt Karen there. It took Josie's mind off her worries and I liked spending some quality time with my sister. I think this is the first meet Karen has been able to attend. The biscotti were full of nuts and dried fruit, but not too heavy or sweet so the perfect pre-competition treat! I think we'll have to make these for all our meets. Josie takes clementines, carrot and celery sticks, popcorn, and sometimes energy bars in her gym bag. She doesn't eat much before a meet because of nerves and this one didn't start until 5pm so that is a long day of eating small things like vegan yogurt and fruit. The meet (including awards) didn't end until 10pm Indy time so we didn't get to eat Ethiopian like we planned, but we did find a Taco Bell. Josie has only eaten from Taco Bell maybe once or twice in her life so it is kind of a treat. They are pretty vegan friendly. Rob and I used to have to stop their on trips 20 or so years ago because we didn't have as many vegan options as we have now. My sister is also vegan and she had never ordered vegan at Taco Bell so I showed her how. It wasn't the best dinner ever, but it allowed us to get on the road and Josie needed something savory. Next time I'll bake up some tofu or something in case the meet goes long.
Josie is on the far beam in the orange and blue leo.
Josie gets off music when she gets nervous, but she made it through and that was the goal.
Usually, vault is an easy 9. something for Josie, but she stayed in the 8's for this meet. All 8.5 and above which is what her personal goal was, but definitely not her best meet if you just look at the scores.

My favorite event for Josie right now is the bars. She excels in strength, but doesn't have the control and pretty details down during competition. It is mainly mental and she'll get there. I am a competitive sports convert after years of being skeptical. I was all about cooperative games when Parker was little and tried that with the other two, but Josie was born competitive (she might get that from her father). It worried me for a long time, but after seeing her (and Dema) in gymnastics (and swim and soccer, but especially gymnastics), I realize there are so many things it teaches. My kids have learned to get back up and try again and again, making goals and achieving them, how awesome it feels to be physically fit, how to support teammates, and how to face their fears. All life skills that will stick with them long after they are done with gymnastics.


Here is a short film Parker was an extra in November. It was the first time he was able to experience blood make-up for a film. I took a picture of his "gun shot wound", but the film was released recently so I was able finally able to see it. He had a lot of fun, but it is pretty gory/graphic. ***Not suitable for all audiences.***

Activist Snippets:

(Re)Watching West Wing on Netflix got me through the GW Bush era and listening to the Hunger Games trilogy on audio book is my theme for the Trump days.
Parker's friend, Josie, Parker, and Dema at our local Women's March
Coming together with others in our community to have our voices heard, is also getting me through these dark days. What gets you through?
Our little local airport overflowing with cars and people with signs denouncing the immigration ban.