Friday, May 30, 2008

Pancake Eyes and Artful Friday

Dema woke up this morning, found me working on the computer (luckily the camera was sitting on my desk) and said quite sweetly, "I would love pancakes this morning. Will you make some, please?" and I could not say anything but "Yes, yes, yes" to those sleepypuppy dog eyes. He hasn't asked for pancakes in quite a while and I had no reason not to make them. I tried the Vegan with a Vengeance recipe this time and the kids ate them all up so there is no picture of the actual pancakes. Rob was out for an early morning bike ride with our neighbor, Scott, so Rob even had a quick pancake after his shower and getting back on his bike to head off to work.

We had a wonderful homeschool art class at the U of I Arboretum. The kids had fun doing observational drawings of flowers and then painting with water colors. We were supposed to bring lunch and have a little picnic, but I went against my better judgment since I had a customer coming over close to lunch-time and decided to skip out on the picnic. Never again! I had leftovers to take and it would have been no trouble at all, but I gave the boys the choice and told them how we would have to hurry home after the art class. The art part of art class was over and we still had a little time before I had to meet the customer and I said the kids could run around in the wide open space for a while until we had to go, but Dema is a picnic moocher and can not pass up seeing fresh fruit and you see the eyes he gives people. I felt bad for the other moms who were super sweet about sharing and who apologized for not having more vegan offerings, but it put everyone in a tough position. It is bad enough when you make this call and you all eat the same foods, but never, ever, ever make this call as a vegan. It then looks like the "poor vegan kids" have nothing to eat. Ugh! Aside from this major faux pas on my part, it was a lovely morning and I am extremely happy Lori has decided to continue the art classes through the summer. I really appreciate how she and other parents in our little community offer up their time and talents to other homeschooling families. It really is something quite special. We are so lucky. I will have to take a treat for the teacher (and all the kids, including my own) next class.

I'm happy Parker has learned to let go of perfection and roll with the punches more. Dema accidentally splattered blue pain on his picture and Parker didn't get upset and decided it was just some "sky" and a little yellow got of the white petal in his drawing and he deemed it "pollen" and was fine. Parker is very slow and steady with his drawing, even at home. He seems to enjoy it, but like he is with many other things (eating, cooking, etc.) he likes to take his time and savor and think. I am glad he doesn't take himself so awfully serious these days.

Josie had fun watching everything and I have to force her to sit down these days. She wants to stand and experience everything. She was sporting her red bamboo shirt today which went with the blood on her cut toe. Dema, our future doctor, was very interested in the blood and Josie didn't even notice it a bit. I guess I need to start putting her Isabooties on now that she wants to cruise around. I don't know why my camera makes her look more Illini orange than red, but one of the other mom's at the class took a picture which shows the colors beautifully. I have camera envy, but it could very well be the person taking the pictures. Josie conked out during the picnic portion of the day which was one of the reasons I stayed instead of avoiding the awkward food situation. Josie was so completely, peacefully sleeping and it was such a nice day. It all turned out okay.

PS. So I received an email from Lori and she called me out (actually she called me an idiot, but I'm sure she meant it with love). I didn't even know she read my blog so I'm honored, but the point is she says no one pitied my vegan kids and we are vegan, we don't have polio...this last bit made me laugh so hard I snorted. Anyway, I am a drama queen and have to have something to whine about or everyone would puke when they read my blog because I'm all "I'm so lucky this" or "I'm so happy that". I know the art class group is super sweet and generous and would feed my kids no matter what they ate or didn't eat...did I mention Lori also had to give us cold water? I brought some, but not enough...sigh. Anyway, it was no big thang and I'm just a moaner 'cause I like a good relaxing picnic with great people and over-scheduled (again!).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Asparagus Potato Soup

We ate two pounds of asparagus yesterday and had a pound left so I thought to myself, I'll just make a vegan quiche because that is the amazing woman that I am. Then I lived my life and ended up making this Asparagus Potato Soup from Veganomicon. Don't be too disappointed for us because it was good, hit the spot, and fit into my day much better. I had more potatoes to use up and I was craving those soups with the swirl of vegan creamy something in the middle so I used the No-Cook Hollandaise with a sprinkling of leftover pistachios to top it all off and dipped some crusty bread from a local bakery in it and called it dinner. It all fell together nicely and I didn't have to go to the store for anything so a happy ending if not the beautiful vegan quiche I originally envisioned.Since I can not make green soups look good with my camera, I will leave you with a picture of Josie on our porch. She is in the outfit our neighbor, Margie, bought for her with a fittingly sprout green bamboo shirt underneath. She matches the soup (and I have to add the soup is very baby friendly since I immersion blended the heck out of it and she enjoyed it). I hope pictures of cute babies make up for yummy, but extremely simple and not so photogenic food.

Potatoes, Pistachios, and Peanut Passion

We have been pretty busy as of late (nothing new) and this is the season for cookouts so we have been attending our share. While I love a good cookout (especially veg ones!) as much as the next girl, I was craving to cook something and eat it at home yesterday. Rob had the day off and we had fun cleaning the house and playing outside with the kids (it was actually hot and/or humid enough for the kids to play in the neighbor's wading pool and take part in a lemonade stand). The kids did take time to come in and eat. Some of the family even had time to during the long weekend to sneak a nap in.
I had a bunch of potatoes to use up for some dish I was going to make for our Spring Party, but didn't get around to it. Thus, this lunch is a little potato heavy, but no one complained. We had asparagus and strawberries from Saturday's farmers market. I decided to try the No-Cook Hollandaise from The Saucy Vegetarian over the asparagus and it was very good even though I accidentally added a little too much mustard (that is what I get for not measuring, but all was well). As soon as I saw the Pistachio Crusted Tofu on FatFree Vegan, I knew this recipe was for me. I forgot to make the dipping sauce, but it tasted good with the No-Cook Hollandaise. To use the potatoes I cooked Herb-Scalloped Potatoes from Veganomicon and Potato Squashers from Eat Drink and Be Vegan. I fell in love with the Pistachio-Dusted Saffron Potatoes from Vegan Planet and was going to make them, but didn't have all the ingredients. The Herb-Scalloped Potatoes were very good as well and super easy. Speaking of easy, there is no reason for potatoes to ever go bad again since the Potato Squashers are as easy as anything gets and who can say no to baked potatoes, olive oil and salt smooshed into a cute little mess?
For dinner, I steamed some of the broccoli from Saturday's farmers market and made my new favorite peanut sauce. I don't know if I've blogged about this one before, but you have to try the Peanut Passion Sauce (except I'm lazy when it comes to zesting and had no fresh limes so I used organic bottle lime juice and a couple drops of lemon extract) from Eat Drink and Be Vegan. I served it over whole wheat pasta with broccoli and sprinkled some leftover pistachios from lunch over the top. After avoiding illness (except for an easy case of the chicken pox for the kids) all winter while pretty much everyone we knew was getting the flu and all sorts of nasty stuff over and over, we all felt like we had a cold coming on yesterday. So I decided to go heavy on the fresh ginger and garlic in the peanut sauce and I think it did the trick. Josie is a little stuffy today, but the rest of us feel fine. I had some Garden Vegan burgers in the freezer and I was nursing Josie while cooking at this point so it made sense to throw these in. The veggie patties were an impulse buy for the cookouts, but we ended up taking pasta salad and stuff instead. We don't usually buy the Gardenburger brand and lately I've been making my own. I've found the kids really prefer the bean burgers I make from scratch over all the ones we can buy in the store. We also had some mango too which was the perfect addition.
I don't have a picture, but Dema was asking for corn this weekend and I had no time to make the things I wanted to make so I took inspiration from Lindy Loo's post. I had to avoid sesame at one of the get togethers due to an allergy and I wasn't sure how well quinoa would go over so I made a corn and edamame pasta salad instead. I used whole wheat gobbetti pasta, corn, edamame, and covered it with a double batch of Herbs de Provence Dressing from The Saucy Vegetarian. It was good the first day, but much better the second once all the spices had time to blend. I would perhaps use more spices next time or just let it sit for a night. We've gotten out of our once a week shopping habit with the Spring Party and all sorts of other things going on, but this week, I would like to get back on track and work through the food we have in the house before running to the store.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Have a Tooth!!!

The moment you have all been waiting for...dum, dum, dum, dum....Josie officially has cut her first tooth. Bottom right-hand side middle toothlet. She was nursing like a fiend last night (all night) and on the fussy side, but she has a tooth now. Very exciting!

Not that this changes a thing since she already eats everything vegan under the sun (loves kumquats by the food from this weekend...I don't think she'd had kumquats yet). It is just fun to have a tooth. I wanted to take a picture since she is sleeping on my lap right now and I pried her little mouth open, but you really can't see it that well.

Where Did He Come From?

This morning we had a pooping incident. After many blissful mornings of Josie pooping happily on the potty, I got lazy and was looking through a kitchen remodel magazine and ignoring the nagging feeling that my baby had things she needed to do. Then the smell and I look down to the floor where my joy was quietly playing and see a poopy mess. The boys immediately notice my reaction and why and Parker says calmly, "Take her in the bathroom, Mom, and I'll give her a bath while you take care of the floor." I wipe her off as much as I can and take her into the bathroom. When I go back to the bathroom two minutes later she was all clean and happy in the tub with her big brother.

Really, where did this child come from? I must have done something in a past life that allows me to share this one with Parker.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spring ParTAY

This weekend, we had our annual Spring Hootenanny (not my word, this is Rob's deal) which is also known as Rob's birthday celebration since we have it the weekend around his birthday. It is always a lot of fun for us and we love getting a bunch of friends (usually around 100 - 150 if you count the children...this year it was about 130) together, eating food, chatting, and talking until all hours of the morning. It reminds us how special our community here is and how many wonderful people we know.

This year, we were less prepared and less organized (if that is even possible since it always seems to sneak up on us) and I was sort of wishing we had decided to do a smallish dinner party with a just a few friends and family, but once the people started coming I remembered how I love to see the house, porch, and park overflowing with people from newborns to retirees. It is worth any of the stress I put on myself. I actually let go quite a bit this year...maybe too much and didn't fret about the house being perfect or even clean (sorry all, but that is life with a business, a baby, and two very active homeschooled boys), hopefully no one was offended and the lighting was such that the little dust bunnies blended into the woodwork.

We made a huge batch of hummus, some desserts (including Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownies from Veganomicon which Parker decorated with powdered sugar, fresh blueberries, and fresh strawberries), Pasta E Fagioli from Veganomicon, and Tzimmes (over brown rice) from Vegan Family Favorites.

Some of the highlights of the weekend from my perspective (really Rob should be writing this post, but he is so lame he hasn't even posted one entry on his own blog so you get just my side of things):

1. Our friend Todd coming down from Chicago the night before and playing with the kids, mopping our porch, chatting with us about movies, law, relationships, and life in general (while I should have been cooking), and generally being the sweet helpful person that he is. Todd didn't lose his cool with our second born chose this weekend to do his impersonation of a four year old demon child (which is actually my fault since I didn't give him the time he needed all week...Dema not Todd...and to be honest Dema is pretty angelic today...can't wait to experience the teen years and if I'm lucky it will coincide with my going through menopause and we'll really have a grand ole time). Anyway, it was great to see Todd.

2. Our friends and ex-neighbors Mike and Alison (and their dog Percy too!) coming down from Chicago Saturday evening even though I invited them last minute (like I invited everyone last minute because...well, you all know the excuses). It was so wonderful to see them and I'm so glad they stayed the night and I am so sorry to them and Todd that I didn't even make them so much as a cup of coffee for breakfast the next morning. I suck and you all should come down for the weekend sometime and I promise to do a real breakfast and be a better hostess. Alison, you rock for helping me clean up Saturday night/Sunday morning and yes it still looks pretty much the way we left it, no more cleaning progress has been made. Oh and next time mention that there are no pillows on the bed! I thought Rob had taken care of it (I don't know what I was thinking) and we have a ton of pillows around the house so don't be shy about letting us know.

3. Getting to know our many wonderful neighbors even better and making me feel like we live in the best place on Earth. I didn't get any pictures because I was too busy talking and checking the food, etc. to mess with pictures, but I have this wonderful mental picture of the many strollers and bikes on our side lawn and it makes me smile.

4. Kris, you outdid yourself with the spectacular cake! Rob was amazed and touched by your sweetness. I asked him many times if he wanted a cake (just because I love ordering them from you), but he was like "I don't need a cake. I'm too old for a cake.", but in the end I really think he loved having a cake and that cake really took the cake. I can not believe how amazing it was. It makes me want to get married again just to have a wedding cake like this. The picture does not do it justice. We are talking chocolate orange cake with chocolate orange filling on the top tier, lemon cake with vanilla filling on the middle, and vanilla cake with strawberry filling on the bottom...all vegan and avoiding the top 8 allergens for our guests. Really there are no words to describe how wonderful, thoughtful, and generous this was.5. Jenny, your Southern Comfort Slush was a super duper hit and I can't believe how many people asked me for the recipe. I love having you around and I promise I don't just invite you for the slush, but you know you have to bring it every time now.

6. Too many people to name brought wonderful vegan food and I love you all (the ones who came without food too!!). I'm always a little worried about opening events up as a "potluck" since the world is not vegan and I don't want to stress people out about bringing a vegan dish when they themselves aren't vegan. In this non-vegan world, our home is our sanctuary, the one place where we know what ingredients are in everything. I prefer to just provide all the food so no one is inconvenienced and I don't have to worry, but when you are talking 100+ people it comes in handy to have people bring something to share if they feel comfortable doing so. It takes an amount of trust to open up the house to a vegan potluck when we are the only vegans attending, but we have the sweetest and most thoughtful friends in the world and over the years I've realized that many of them want to bring something and enjoy making something we can eat. We have several friends with various allergies and/or food sensitivities and I really enjoy making something safe for them. Parker is wonderful when it comes to thinking of what our friends can eat safely. He helps me plan foods which will be fine for everyone (avoiding nuts and other allergens). We also made several wheat-free items and I hope to get better about providing some completely gluten-free food next year. Here is a picture of the wheat-free cookies from Eat Drink and Be Vegan (Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and "Tickled Pink" Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies...I also made the Sunny Pineapple Yogurt Cake with Orange Glaze, but I don't have a picture).

7. Todd, Rob, and the boys went to one of our favorite Thai places (Thara Thai) the night before the party and Rob invited the owner to the party. She said she didn't think she would make it, but to give her a call the next evening around 5pm. Rob felt guilty that she was obviously going to give him something, but accepted it graciously. The owner gave him a huge dish of tofu pad thai and a platter of appetizers for the party. We really do have the best people in our lives and everyone loved the food!

I loved talking to everyone, but one of the bad things about so many people at one time is I was so busy I didn't get to talk to any one person very long. We are already hoping to get it together for another big party later in the summer. Hopefully, those who couldn't make it this time will be able to come and I'll get a chance to talk to those I missed talking with this time. We appreciate all the love and friendship we receive daily from our wonderful community. I also appreciate my husband and I'm so glad he is in my life and hope he's around for another 46 years.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Easy Peasy Spring Eatin'

Spring is time for enjoying the outdoors and throwing quick, good food together so you can get back out there and garden, play, swing, you know what I mean.

Vegan African Sweet Potato StewOkay, I realize this looks like it could be the cat's dish (we don't currently have a cat so it isn't), but get past the picture. I rarely if ever use RecipeZaar, but I needed to use up a sweet potato and coconut milk so I searched and found this recipe. The kids always like African stew, but I didn't have all the ingredient for the recipe I usually make. I served this over coconut quinoa (just use the rest of the coconut milk in the quinoa and reduce the water by that amount) instead of brown rice and it was so good I didn't get a picture until I was packing the leftovers for Rob in his To-Go Ware for lunch the next day. I ran out of quinoa and did use brown rice for the boy's lunch, but it was just as good. I would probably add kale next time, but it was very good as is.
This is a sort of typical lunch or quick dinner this time of year. We made pasta with a basic tomato sauce earlier in the week and I used the leftover sauce and leftover steamed broccoli from Dema's favorite snack (steamed broccoli dipped in tahini dressing), added some carrots and put it all on a Vicolo corn pizza crust with a little nutritional yeast sprinkled on and some minced garlic. While the oven was preheating I made some "popcorn chickpeas". I think I got this idea from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan, but I'm not sure since I am literally always reading a different cookbook these days and I used some All-Season Blend (nutritional yeast, salt, onion granules, paprika, garlic granules, dried parsley, turmeric, dried thyme, dried marjoram, ground dill) from The Uncheese Cookbook to coat the chickpeas after putting a little olive oil on them. You could use use olive oil and nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes or a little Bragg's or whatever you like. Ever since making the vegan feta, I keep some of the All-Season Blend in recycled glass jar in the fridge. I use it for coating tofu and frying it and all sorts of other things I would use just straight nutritional yeast for. The boys can't get enough of the chickpeas and they are done about the time the oven is ready for the pizza and nothing could be easier. We added some strawberries and almonds and raisins to round out the meal. The picture is Parker's plate, but he ate about twice this amount of everything and Dema also had seconds.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Monday Movie Review

Mother's Day was cold and wet and I like to be warm and dry, but we made the most of the day by doing my favorite thing (rearranging the furniture), playing co-operative games, and watching movies. Rob topped it off by making pancakes for breakfast and tomato risotto and asparagus from Saturday's first Farmer's Market of the season for lunch/dinner. I wish I had a picture of the risotto and asparagus because it was pretty and Parker and Josie really enjoyed it (Dema napped through it). I highly recommend roasting asparagus in olive oil and salt and pepper if you have someone in the house who isn't an asparagus lover, it will convert them.

Something the Lord Made
It was fitting that Parker and I watched this together, especially on Mother's Day. I am glad I picked this out from Netflix, although we both found it tough to watch at times. I have to get this comment out of the way...there is a lot of vivisection in this movie and I'm anti-vivisection, but I looked past this to see the merit of this movie. Parker was very worried about the dogs and what happened to them during and after the surgery. We haven't talked a lot about vivisection before, but this movie open the door to some future discussion. The movie was quite good, in my opinion. It dealt with issues of race, gender, "alternative learning", and medical politics. Having a child with a congenital heart defect who has gone through open-heart surgery it was especially moving and interesting. It brought up a lot of questions from Parker about his own experience. When we found out about Parker's heart defect, I started reading everything I could find on his particular heart issues (nothing as complex as Tetralogy of Fallot which is the CHD discussed in the movie) and I was amazed at how new procedures were being discovered and new treatments in such a short amount of time. This movie really highlighted this point for me, how relatively new heart surgery is on children and how far we have come. The race issues also brought up a lot of questions from Parker. We've read a lot about Martin Luther King Jr. and there are some great children's books out there about racism, but he was very interested in how things played out in the movie regarding treating people a certain way based on the color of their skin. I definitely would like to read more with Parker about Vivien Thomas and the history of CHD treatments.

Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman
While I don't suggest watching this with young children and wouldn't say it was a Mother's Day film, we did watch it and it was very good. The acting was spot on and as someone who is against the death penalty, I thought the message was a good one. I was amazed at how complex the main character turned out to be and it kept my interest throughout the film. It was very British and I really like that. It might be a good way to ease into a discussion on capital punishment with older children (teens, maybe?). It isn't unnecessarily graphic, but it does have hard to watch scenes. The amount of people this man (it is based on a true story) killed during his time as a "hang man" is enough to turn one's stomach. I am glad I didn't watch this right before bed. It is not the best of humanity, but more than that, it shows how the cogs of the government machine can go on and on doing something which the people don't want or approve of. Sound familiar?

The Business of Bei
ng Born
I watched this a little while ago thanks to my friend Emily and Netflix. I thought I'd leave you with this one because it really is a Mother's Day type of movie. I had high hopes for the film and I thought it was good, moving, and something which mainstream USA needs to see. I can't deny a tinge of disappointment though. It is probably because I am surrounded (thankfully so) by friends who are involved in supporting women birth in one way or another. I really wish Ricki Lake had come to my little town in Illinois or others just like it all over the country instead of just showing the NYC side of things. I was also a tad sad they ended on the birth they did, but it is still definitely worth a watch and I think for many women (sooo many, too many) out there who have experienced a unnecessarily highly medicalized birth, this movie might be healing. This is worth it, in my book, if they receive some peace from the movie or if it renews their faith in their bodies. I am so glad it is out there and I am very fortunate that I had the information I needed prior to my three births to have exactly the birth experience I wanted for myself and my family. I hope this movie provides a springboard for other women to know what their options really are.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Nothing says Mother's Day like...

The Lanyard

by Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Spicy Kitchens

Thanks to everyone for the comments on our kitchen remodel and keep them coming. We are still in the planning stages so I'm trying to make note of things other people have done in their kitchens which I think I'd like to incorporate into ours. I am brain storming for ideas to address the challenges of our particular kitchen (which may be different for non-vegan kitchens).


Most vegans we know own a lot of spices. I would say that vegans probably use a wider variety of spices as a rule. I'm not sure why this is, but it has been my experience. We have around eighty different spices and Rob used to love how many spices we have, but now he is getting cranky in his old age and feels like we have too many. I'm guessing this is because we have no good place to store them right now so they take up our precious counter space. He was being helpful while I was outside at our yard sale Saturday and decided to clean and organize the kitchen. I came in to find something and he proudly stated that he had reorganized my spices into what type of cooking they belonged to...what?!! know, like Indian, Italian, etc. He segregated my spices! I guess you can't take the south out of the man. Let me explain, I like and have always liked for my spices to be in alphabetical order. Did I mention we have around eighty spices? Alphabetical is the only clear choice. When I need cumin, I don't want to think to myself if that is technically a spice use for Indian cooking or African or Mediterranean or whathaveyou. No, I want to look at the end of the c's and find it...done! I hate to burst his bubble and I appreciate the time he put into changing the spices around (he also put the "most popular" spices in a different location...again, who is to say which spice is more "popular"? Are we in high school here or something?) so I haven't gone back and properly alphabetized them yet, but I will. I swear I use them all. Well, he was right about one thing, we don't need the kelp powder...I will never use the kelp powder.

Part of the issue when deciding what to do with all my beloved spices is the containers. We recycle glass from anything (jelly for example) and use it to hold our spices which we usually buy in the bulk bins or in bulk bags from the co-op (we are still working our way through a co-op purchase of organic oregano in the freezer). This means they are all different shapes and sizes so most of the traditional spice storage options won't help.

As I was checking out other blogs, I noticed a few ways to deal with spices which I need to keep in mind. Here Yellow Rose has a great drawer 'o spices. I have a dream where my spices from Agar to Za'atar could live together in peace. Share your own tip on what to do with all these spices!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

8 Months

Josie is 8 months today. She loves to chew on sticks and leaves, but doesn't seem to eat them. She eats everything else though. She will eat anything (vegan, of course) from lemons to leafy greens, edamame to eggplant, pumpkin seeds to pasta, berries to broccoli, onions to olives, tofu to tomatoes, quince to quinoa, etc. She eats everything we do (even nuts, I know all of you with allergies are cringing). I just have to mash things up a little for her or cut it up smaller, but she wants exactly what we are having (especially the boys...they are sweet and give her a taste of everything they eat). No teeth yet, but it doesn't slow her down on the eating. She also likes to chew on everything else like lens caps (I wondered where that went!) and anything else she can get her hands on. It makes life challenging since she is so much more "mouthy" than her brothers were and I have to keep a close eye on what she grabs.

She seems happier and happier all the time. She laughs at so many things now. She loves to be outside and Parker and Dema love to swing her at the park. We are usually at the park when Rob gets home from work and she lights up when she sees him riding his bike toward us. She organized her first yard sale this weekend (actually my friend Jenny did all the organizing, thank goodness!) and had fun socializing with all the shoppers. If she isn't feeling like herself, I usually take her outside and all is well.

The ECing is going well and she is in a little routine of pooping on the potty every morning. I still go through plenty of diapers during the day while we are out and not close to a bathroom, but that is fine. She has finally stopped peeing at night. The boys stopped peeing at night around six months and I was worried she wasn't going to stop, but she is dry most mornings now so we'll be taking off the night diaper soon.

People always comment how much Josie and Dema look alike, but Josie looks more like Parker's baby pictures than Dema's, but they do have a lot of the same looks now. I think she looks a lot like Rob too.

She loves to be where the action is and climbs all over the boys and laughs and laughs. Dema loves to be "in charge" of her when Parker isn't around and I need to get some of his interactions with her on camera. He tells me I can go cook or clean while he takes care of Josie. He will sit in the middle of the floor with her and give her toy after toy or book after book and explain what everything is in a high pitched quiet tone. He puts his arm around her and rubs her head and calls her "Josie Jo". It is so much fun to see, but I have to be sneaky since he really wants to be alone with her. Parker loves to take care of all the babies in the neighborhood and will take our neighbor's one year old for walks in the stroller every chance he gets. I love how the boys are so interested in care giving.

Josie has been crawling in this funny way for a while. She still doesn't do it on all fours, but will drag herself around with one arm which makes her go diagonal. She is pretty quick when she wants to get somewhere, but she will also use her older brothers to get what she wants. She'll fuss a little and reach for something and they are there to hand it to her. I am the youngest of three and totally understand where she is coming from. We have hardwood floors throughout the house so transitioning from sitting to crawling can be a head bonking experience so she does it very slowly and deliberately. She will also pull up on things and stand forever holding on to a couch or someone's hands.

I was able to leave Josie with the guys for a couple hours the other night and see the special live This American Life show with my friend Stephanie. She was just getting a little fussy (Josie, not Stephanie) when I arrived home, but Rob kept her happy walking downtown and eating hummus for two hours which is impressive.

She loves to "talk" and babbles quite a bit. For a month or so maybe two she's been saying "mama", but Rob and I believe that is why "mama" (which in many languages is a similar variation) came to mean "mom" because all babies make a sound that sounds like "mama" when they are babbling. We are not linguists, but that is our theory that humans created the word "mama" from listening to babies babble and not that babies actually say "mama" that early. Either way it is super cute.

Speaking of really cute, right now Dema is pulling Parker's famous orange hat over his face and making Josie laugh so hard I think she might stop breathing. I wish I could bottle this stuff.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pizza, Potatoes, Pistachios, Planes, and Painting

I had leftover vegan feta from the Turkish Baked Noodles the other day and decided it would make good pizza topping. I didn't have much time so I just used a Vicolo cornmeal crust from the freezer, some leftover crushed tomatoes (I added some Italian spices, minced garlic, nutritional yeast), Kalamata olives, and garlic bread topping. It was really good and I might even make the vegan feta just for pizza. As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer so we get inside later and later, pizza will be on the menu more and more. It is quick, easy, and filling. The kids are eating so much now, we need to make three pizzas instead of two.

We soaked a bunch of canelli beans the other day because I was eying Vegan Planet's Pistachio-Dusted Saffron Potatoes (if the title alone doesn't get you rushing to make this, then let me tell you to make this now!). I highly suggest this dish for people who enjoyed scalloped potatoes in pre-vegan days. It was way better than what I remembered eating as a kid and easy to make. I needed to use up all the beans so I quickly made Tuscan White Beans with Garlic and Sage from Vegan Planet as a side dish (canelli bean heavy meal, but really good). Parker suggested we add Kalamata olives to the Tuscan White Beans with Garlic and Sage and it was a good addition. The peas and carrots and fresh organic strawberries added some much needed color to the meal.

Here are some pictures from our recent homeschool tour of Fightstar. Parker took all the pictures and the boys would now like me to buy our own private eight-seater plane. I have to admit, even I was impressed with the plane we took a tour of and I can see why people wouldn't want to fly on commercial airlines...the pillows alone were worth the admission. Of course, we discussed the environmental impact of flying on the way home and they were over their obsession, but the tour was still very cool. We were able to watch several planes take off and land very close up and the pilots even waved to the group of kids which was fun. It did remind me of why I am glad not to live so close to the airport now...the noise and thinking of the fumes was enough for one day. The boys were impressed with the firetrucks used in case of a plane fire as much as the planes themselves. The guy giving a tour asked the kids if they would rather be a pilot or a fire fighter...the answers were mixed. They showed us the pilot's home away from home in the Flightstar building and it has a huge TV in the middle of the room. My boys said later that didn't seem like home because of the TV (we are TV-free) and no books. It was a nice tour and I am so thankful to our local HOUSE group for organizing it. Note to self, when going on tours, make sure the kids are well fed and rested. Dema enjoyed it, but was about to melt down from hunger, heat, and having too much fun that morning at his friend Ethan's house. Dema was also very disappointed that he didn't actually get to fly anywhere while Parker told him about his flight to Arizona to see our friends Buzz and Dave while I was pregnant with Josie. This did not help Dema's mood. He doesn't like to be left out of anything. Josie was pretty unimpressed and just wanted to nurse everywhere, but I'm glad we went.

Lastly, I thought I would share some of what Parker's homeschool art class has been up to. Lori, the woman with way more patience than I possess who teaches the class, is great about including Dema too when he wants to be included and isn't trying to fall into the creek. Parker made this painting when they were asked to draw something they saw in nature. I think it is funny that he decided to draw the sign and then I realized it was probably because the rest of "nature" is too daunting to take just a portion of what you see and draw/paint it. I think we will work on this through the week.


We've been enjoying the weather and staying away from the computer, but today is rainy so I'll catch you up on our lives. Dema has discovered mountain biking. Our neighbors Vicky and Greg have a hill in their backyard (from digging out the in-ground pool). We were chatting with Vicky as Dema was riding his Like-a-Bike last weekend and he uncharacteristicly went into her backyard without asking. He went straight for her hill and started going down as fast as he could (which is pretty fast on a bike without brakes) on all sides. Parker joined in since Vicky is so nice and said it was fine for the boys to use the hill. I stood and watched, taking pictures with my phone from time to time, and making sure they didn't destroy her flowers. The boys went up and down over and over until Parker found it hard to ride his bike up the hill and had to walk it. Dema didn't think going down the hill without brakes was exciting enough so he would go down the side which has a pile of bricks at the bottom or the side where the sticks were piled up. I figured Greg was home and an ER doctor so it would all be okay. Then Dema had a particularly bad fall when a stick caught in his wheel, but he didn't cry so I thought all was well. A few seconds passed and he wasn't moving at all...I started to worry. I called to him as I quickly walked over and he didn't answer. I looked down at him and his eyes were open, but still no response then I bent down and said "Dema" again...starting to really worry at this point...when he stands up quickly and looks at me with eyes shining and wild and says in a quiet almost reverent tone and his body tense with excitement, "That was AWESOME!!!!"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kitchen Help, Gifts!

I need help, big surprise, I know. We have decided to take the plunge and remodel our kitchen. It is a daunting task, but also something which makes me giddy. I can't wait to use the room more efficiently and have everything set up just as I like it and hopefully be more environmentally-friendly in the process...we'll never eat out again!

This is where you come in and I'm so desperate for you input, that I'm offering gifts, yes my first giveaway! First, I need comments, lots and lots of comments. Tell me what your favorite appliances are and why or what appliances to stay away from and why. Tell me what you love about your own kitchen or what you wish you could change. Tell me anything and everything you can think of regarding kitchens. I will pick three people at random and send them a 27oz. Klean Kanteen and an organic cotton tea infuser bag. There will be more giveaways as the kitchen project gets underway so check back often.

Here are some of the issues regarding our current kitchen:

1. Our house is 100 years old so I want to stay true to the house as much as possible.

2. We have four, count 'em four doors coming into our kitchen so wall space is a premium, but we have 10 foot ceilings, but I am pretty short (not even close to 10 feet tall).

3. Our dishwasher is not working so we will need to buy a new one which is what made the decision for us to go ahead and remodel. Our fridge is working fine right now and is energy efficient and small, but we will be going with a new stove/oven. We are open to having the range and the oven separate. Pros and cons?

4. We have an old sink which I would like to keep, but Rob thinks it needs to go and he is probably right. If there was a way to make the sink work better, we would be open to keeping it.

5. We have our washer and dryer located in the kitchen (stacked on top of each other), but this is not a good long term solution for laundry.

6. We compost all our kitchen waste so if people have good ideas about kitchen composting (we just have a couple buckets right now), let me know.

7. We buy things like dried beans, spices, brown rice, etc. in bulk and would like good ways to store them so they are accessible and stay fresh and pest-free.

8. We have no air conditioning so it would be nice to have a way a keep the kitchen cool in the summer months. Keeping it warm in the winter is not so much an issue.

9. We like to cook a lot and quite often the whole family is in the kitchen so it would be nice to be able to all cook together.

If I ever get the kitchen somewhat clean, I will post pictures so you can see what we have to deal with.