Monday, June 30, 2008

My Future Spice Rack?

If you have been paying attention, we are in the middle of dealing with our kitchen and we've had more than our share of spice issues. I was surfin' the vegan blogs today and found a possible spice rack for our future kitchen. I still love the great drawer o' spices, but this wall mounted spice area looks darn interesting.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Polluting Plastics

This post is dedicated to our cousin, Fredbunch, since she asked about plastics. Here are some links to help people understand the health and environmental issues (as if health and environment weren't linked anyway) with specific plastics. Of course, all plastic has its costs and dangers, but here are some of the issues.

I believe most people have heard of the problems regarding PVC, but here you go:

10 Reasons to Avoid PVC

BPA is back in the limelight again recently and as someone who is a retailer for stainless steel water bottles, I can tell you this time people do seem to be listening. I can barely keep them in stock! We've been using stainless steel water bottles for many years, but the canned food issue is quite distressing. We try to eat fresh as much as possible, but we do love our tomatoes and during the winter months there is no way to avoid canned (we don't grow even close to enough to get us through).

How to Avoid BPA

If all that is not enough...

Adverse Health Effects of Plastics

We don't have a microwave so we don't worry about what plastics you can or can't microwave so that is one less worry I suppose. We store our food in stainless steel or glass containers and cook with cast iron, stainless steel, or glass and avoid non-stick cooking surfaces like Teflon. We try not to buy plastic toys (we do have some sand toys for the beach and we do have a few plastic toys which were given to us which we use as outside toys). But, we do buy frozen foods which are in plastic bags, we buy soy yogurt (plastic containers), and other things which seem almost unavoidable. In an ironic twist, Parker has a patch over a hole in his heart made of basically Gore-tex. Anyone have some tips on how to cut down more on our plastic consumption?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All I Need

When I saw the 100 Thing Challenge today, I was immediately reminded of The Jerk scene where he only needs "this ashtray" and "the remote control". Rob and I joke about that scene on a somewhat regular basis. I've been going through our house the last couple weeks trying to keep only things I really "love", but it is slow going. I don't want to throw out everything because it mostly stuff other people could use so I have boxes of things which are on their way out. I've done a garage sale already this year and I really want to give it away if I can. Wish me luck and let me know if you need anything.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Taste of Our Weekend

We had the "Taste of Our Special Little Town" this weekend and I have an eight year old who can not pass up an event at the park. He counts down the days to said event so this was his weekend. Of course, the other two enjoy a party, but we could have gotten by with not telling them...nothing slips past Parker.
Friday evening we had the added surprise and fun of our friend Derek stopping by with two of his kids so we all walked/biked downtown. We walked around for a bit and saw the booths, played in the park, talked to friends and neighbors, and then hit up a local cafe for some grub (vegan food is hard to come by at the Taste, but I can say that this year they were much better about having more actual local restaurants instead of national chains!). We had a nice time eating and chatting in the outside seating area (beautiful weather!). As we left, we had the added bonus of apparently annoying our town's mayor with the craziness that is five children getting fruit popsicles to eat on the way home. The walk/bike home was fun with Rob taking three kids and a bike on his Xtracycle. I tried to get a picture as he went past (I was pushing Parker and Josie in the Chariot), but it didn't come out well. Trust me, the Xtracycle is an amazing thing!

Saturday evening we had the Taste take Two with our neighbors and their two boys, oh and their friend, "Uncle Pete". The adults walked as Dema and E biked and Uncle Pete saved the day by keeping up with the crazy fast boys. This time we splurged on the blow up play thingys...quite the rip off, but the boys all enjoyed it. I have to remind myself next year that Parker actually enjoyed the entertainment much more than the jump houses and skip the tickets next year and just go for the shows. It was a nice time and it reminds me again why I love the area of town in which we live. I love walking and looking at all the old houses, waving to neighbors who are sitting on their porches, chatting to people about the improvements they've made, etc.Today, I decided to get back to talking about food. This is going to be the "week of kale" or so Rob tells me. We bought a ton of kale at the Farmer's Market this weekend and who doesn't love kale? I got to thinking after Friday night when Derek ordered a quesadilla at the cafe:
1. I don't think I've ever eaten a quesadilla before...even in pre-vegan days.
2. I bet it would be easy to make a vegan quesadilla and the kids would like it.
I searched some blogs and decided, heck yes, and talked to Rob about it. He decided to cook this one so he made very yummy vegan quesadillas with roasted red peppers, carrots, kalamata olives, Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack Vegan Cheese (which I bought from the co-op a couple weeks back when it was on sale), and of course, kale. I dubbed them Rainbow Quesadillas because they were very colorful. Rob used whole wheat tortillas because that is what we had on hand and everyone ate them up (two servings in fact). I had a helping of garlicy kale on the side which I shared with Josie. I think I would like to experiment with a homemade vegan cheese sauce or avocados instead of the FYH cheese...just to see how it works.
With Josie getting into more and more things...she is standing unassisted for a few seconds and trying to take a step lately and although she still crawls on her belly in the house (on all fours in the grass) she is super fast and did I mention she goes up and down the stairs (slowly) so nothing is safe...I will be doing simple, quick foods all summer.

Our weekend was topped off with an unexpected visit from Stef at the park! It was so nice to see her and I'm super happy for her, but we miss her too. I've been trying to find the words to post about this for quite a while now. We know so many wonderful people and living in a college town many of these people end up moving on. We are saying goodbye soon to yet another friend, Katie and her family and her business (I can still shop with her online). Even if people aren't tied to the university, they often move for jobs (like Mike, Alison, and Percy *snif* and Matthew, Sandra, and all their furry "kids" *sigh*). It is understandable, but sad. Luckily, many people just move up to The City, but getting up there isn't as easy as it once was. I am happy for everyone...truly I am, but I'm sad too. I miss them and I know we could move on (we fully intended to only live here a year and then back to the east coast) as well...there is something (my family? many friends? great community?) which makes us stay. Even when I get fed up with small town living or the lack of vegan restaurants or I just miss city living for what city living is, I can't seem to make the argument to move. Maybe I'm too lazy or tired, but we are sort of settled here right now for good or bad. I feel like an old married couple who watch the "young couples" take the risks and have the fun, but I'm okay with that. I do wish we were able to see everyone more often and we will make more of a point of getting to see our friends (we'll have to plan a trip to Portland, OR as well), but for better or worse, this is home (for now).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Green Legos?

I decided to see how bad the plastic in Legos really is and if they do indeed use recycled plastic. Here is some info and a petition to ask Lego to use recycled content.

PS. The petition is "closed", but the info is still interesting.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Leggo My Lego

I am a believer. When contemplating opening our house to evil plastic in the name of "play", I was skeptical. I don't like plastic anything. I have avoided plastic as much as possible for many years and when it creeps into our lives, I try to rid us of this hideous stuff. I put my leftovers in glass containers, we drink out of glass or stainless steel containers, I got rid of our rice steamer a few years ago because of the plastic and make rice in the pressure cooker instead. I bought cool wooden toys for many years and life was good. Knowing that kids need to be able to create and build, I bought wooden blocks with velcro (very cool!) to hold off the Legos.Then the begging for Legos began and I started to rethink my stance. I remembered reading "Listening to Whales" by Alexandra Morton years ago and how her young son grew up on their small boat with only a box of Legos to pass the time while his parents studied whales. Then I talked to many, many grown men and found out that they all have very fond memories of building with Legos as a kid. It seemed like a universal (if you can call an American middle class upbringing universal) phenomenon. "Let the kids have some brightly colored little plastic pieces which are choking hazards for goodness sakes!" the world seemed to be shouting at me. "Okay", I responded, "But, what about the endless sets and the push for consumerism and the lack of free open ended play and..." Well, I have an eight year old who really likes to look at instructions and put things together. He loves it and is very good at it. He has already built several amazing things which I'm pretty sure would have taken me a week. He is telling me all sorts of things about balance and how to hook up motors (yes, this set has the added "bonus" of needing batteries just to show you how low I have stooped). Dema has no desire to follow any rules so he is happy to do free open ended play with his Legos. Here is his first truck, but since the picture he has added (local bloggers will like this) snakes to his truck. They are nice snakes and their both named "Reggie" (for you Indiana Jones fans). For the most part, this is a nice thing for the boys to do together and the only issue is keeping all the little pieces out of Josie's mouth and her "tornado baby" (as the boys have started calling her) hands from breaking everything apart. Dad, we need you to come over and help build a Lego table!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Netflix or Nothing

Pretty laid back day today with the usual playing, boys biking and playing with friends, Josie learning something new every two seconds and giggling, I don't have much I have to do so I relax (more than I should), I made eggless salad last night so lunch is easy and didn't take up much room since the Legos have now taken over our dining room table, I resisted any possible fight of wills with my second-born, beautiful weather. Not too bad of a day...

I am looking casually around the house for the movie Sandlot which Rob rented for the kids a couple days ago from That's Rentertainment (our favorite movie store). Incidentally, I am going insane. The boys came home saying they had "The Sandlot" and I turned to Rob and said, "The STEPHEN KING one?!!" He looked at me very perplexed (he was never a Stephen King fan...I had a boyfriend, D, in high school who got me hooked on King's books) and says very slowly, "I don't think so...". It wasn't (now this is the insane part...I searched for Stephen King and Sandlot and apparently he didn't write a book by that name so what was I remembering??), but it did have a scary "beast" dog in it which Parker found waaayyy too scary and so did Dema (thus, he watched that part over and over and over...what shall we do with him?). Not the best pick and I was not happy to have to explain the boy faking his own drowning in order to kiss the female lifeguard...why isn't Rob ever home for these things? It isn't as if I'm a prude, but they just did not GET IT. They are learning to swim themselves and it was just not computing why a kid would jump of the diving board when he couldn't swim. I explained it over and over to no avail.

Time passes, I pay bills and do other things and sort of look for the movie as I go about my day. Then, it starts getting later and I need to run some errands...

Nope, I still haven't found the movie. The darn movie that is now causing me more grief because it is due back today and I can't find usual! We love being TV-free, but in order to watch movies, we have a portable DVD player and this means that movies are taken in and out in all sorts of places in our house so movies can be anywhere. I have this renewed sense of life and the need to not sweat the small stuff, but it is starting to wear off a bit as I search and search for this silly movie.

I call Rob twice at work and IM him once because I'm pretty sure he knows where it is, but doesn't think it is important so he is keeping the information from me. I try to say as sweetly as possible to the kids that we really need to find the movie because I'm not paying late fees or driving to the video store twice to take back movies. If we can't keep track of movies then we can't rent movies anymore. (Sadly, they have heard all this before and somehow they still pay attention to it and Parker actually helps me look...he is more often than not the one who finds said movie and it is usually not him who places it in the hiding place...Dema looks like his dad and searches the ceiling or plays with his toys waiting for it to jump up and say "here I am".)

Okay, I am tired and I hate losing things and I need to get to the UPS Store with a shipment to a customer and where oh where is the %$@#@* movie? I am still outwardly keeping my cool and being quite sweet which reminds me of the McBloggy's glass post (yes, I've read to many blogs today which is a big part of the problem) and I think about how I probably need to work on cleaning the inside of my glass, but for my children's sake the best I can do right now is keep the outside looking good. I think of everything I've ever read by Scott Noelle and how I know the kids can see through the clean glass to my stress inside. I let go. It is what it is and I will just do my errands and the movie will turn up and although money is quite tight these days a late fee will not break us. I love my life, I love my husband, I love my kids....ahhh!

I run the errands (in the car which starts to stress me out again because I hate the car and I know I should have walked, but it would have been a very long hot sweaty walk and here I am making is what it is and I have four people in the car so I was HOV, but AM580 was disturbingly down so I turned on music and Dema kept saying he wanted "the music with drums" which I apparently was not finding although they all sounded like they had drums to me.) and arrive home, calm and happy with three (count 'em, three!) sleeping children. I sit down with Josie, after lugging my eight year old who is way to heavy and long to lug these days, and Dema in from the car and settling them down to remain asleep (there is a God!), and think about all the things I will get done with this extra and unexpected time I have on my hands.

My phone rings...

Rob: I know where "The Sandlot" is.
Me: Really? (expecting it to be in his work laptop, but wait that doesn't make sense...)
Rob: Yep, it is at That's Rentertainment!
Me: What?
Rob: In "The Assassination of Jesse James" cover.
Me: Oh no...
Rob: Yes, they won't check it in until they have the right cover so we'll be late on both movies.
Me: *Groan* But, that means I have to go all the way back to the movie store and all the kids are asleep... *whine*
Rob: By the way, Jesse James is in your computer. (I can hear his smile over the phone.)

Just Watch It

Last night I went upstairs with the little ones (Dema and Josie) to put them to bed while the big ones (Rob and Parker) stayed downstairs to create amazing Lego lands and clean up after dinner. Dinner in the summer is started around dusk since we all have to be outdoors to use the precious sunlight as long as possible. So dinner was quick and easy (as easy as dinner can be with three children) tempeh ruebens, Potato Squashers, and local pesticide-free cherries.

I always have big plans for after the kids go to bed, but more often than not, I fall asleep with them. Last night was one of those lovely nights where I fell asleep nursing Josie and talking about life with Dema. Some time later I was woken up by Rob and Parker coming upstairs at some insanely late hour. I heard them get ready for bed and put a movie into the portable DVD player. I got up a few minutes later to turn off the bathroom light and I checked on them...asleep already (so incredibly sweet with the same exact half smile on their faces and in the same exact position) with the movie still going. I picked up the DVD player and was about to put it away when I noticed it was a French film. I thought, I might as well start to watch it or I will think of the 10,000 things I need to do right now and not get back to sleep.

Well, friends I didn't get back to sleep...not for a long, long, long time. I watched the best movie I think I've seen in...well, possibly ever. I didn't know anything about the movie going in. Rob rented it a couple days ago and I had no expectations. Now that I am not half-asleep, I think I remember hearing about the movie perhaps on NPR or something, but last night it was completely fresh. After I watched (read, really, since it is in French) the movie, I went through all the "special features", watched parts with the commentary on, and finally put it away when I realized it was over and there was nothing more to watch. I stayed up watching Dema and Josie sleep and I thought and thought and thought. I thought about my life and things I wish I had done differently, things I am grateful for, things which get in the way of living, things which bother me and don't mean a thing, dying, my mother's death, my grandmother's death, my grandfather's death, fear of dying, fear of living, my children, life. I thought for a very long time and I am suffering from lack of sleep so I don't know if I'm making much sense, but it was worth it. The movie is based on a book which I will have to read now and I'm sure it is amazing itself, but the movie was pure genius (and I don't say that often) the way it was filmed...just perfect. When I review movies I try not to read anything the critics or others have said about the film so it doesn't taint my view. This is especially true of this film. I have no idea how it was received or if it is true to the book, it doesn't matter to me. It is what it is, in its own right.

The Diving Bell and the it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Movie Review

I didn't actually see any movies this weekend because Rob was out of town and was up late with Parker and up early with Dema so no time to myself. Here are some movies I watched last weekend and didn't get a chance to mention.

Movie Review:

Amazing Grace
I think this is a good family movie for kids who are old enough to understand slavery and politics. I like movies which will provoke discussion with the kids afterwards. It is a true story (with, as always, some creative embellishments) about the British abolition movement. I thought the acting was quite good, as was the message. It also made me want to read more about the British side of the slave trade which isn't really talked about in school in the US. I was a little disappointed how almost the entire film is from a "white" perspective, but that seems to be the part of the story which is being told. It was interesting to see the legislative battle for such an important topic.

I really like Klimt's work and we have the book "Klimt and His Cat" by Berenice Capatti which Parker enjoys and he likes movies about artists so I ordered this one from Netflix. Parker was out in seconds (thankfully) and although I watched the entire movie I had that feeling of time slipping away which I will never get back. I knew with John Malkovich playing Klimt that the movie would be, well, different, but it was just a little too much for my taste. I suppose the guys (Rob was completely uninterested and didn't watch it) might enjoy the movie for the nudity (which could be described as artistic), but overall the movie was a little to "artsy" for me. Maybe I'll have to read more about Klimt and watch the movie again.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Rob was visiting our friends in Chicago this weekend and I decided the rest of us would stay home, as much as I wanted to spend the weekend in the city. I tried to get things done around the house with three kids. I decided for Father's Day we should surprise Rob and walk down to the train station to pick him up and then have lunch. The train was to arrive around noon or so and it was a beautiful day. Then, I decided a surprise was not the best thing to do when you have three kids walking a mile in the hot sun so I arranged it with Rob, but it was still fun.

Dema was going to ride his bike, but his darn pedal fell off AGAIN (keeps happening, but it is a secondhand bike so I shouldn't complain). It took me a second to figure out why he was riding so slow (he stopped to pick up the pedal and kept going, albeit not his usual speed demon self) and luckily we were close to home. Rob had warned me that he was laden with gifts (he spent the weekend at Todd's and although his wife, Katherine, was out of town she still hooked up the kids with some cool toys...gotta love a generous toy store owner!) so I brought the Chariot. Parker and Dema rode in the Chariot and Josie was on my back in the Didymos wrap on the walk to the train station.
Rob was not joking about the gifts. There was barely room for Dema to ride and he reminded me of scene in ET where he blends in with all the stuffed animals.

We walked to Aroma for lunch. We were going to sit outside in the back area in the shade of an umbrella since the Chariot won't fit in the door and it was full of cargo to have a nice bite to eat outside away from the multitude of people working on their laptops and drinking their coffee, but no...this B-yatch was sitting reading a book by herself taking up on entire table for four (or five) with (get this) her feet on the table...yes, you heard me right. The woman was sitting at a restaurant with her freakin' feet on the table, not eating, but annoying the heck out of this tired and hot family. She didn't move or even take her feet off the table even after I sat down right next to her (the only shade) to nurse my baby and take this opportunity to explain to my eight year old when he looked at the obvious faux pas that this is exactly why I ask him not to stand on the picnic tables at the park because at some point someone is going to want to eat at the table and that is just rude. Yes, she could hear me, no she did not take her feet off the table. Rob was inside ordering and I told the kids to go ahead and eat inside out of the sun and that I would just sit there until they were done so I could watch the Chariot. Nothing, nada from little "Miss I Own the Damn World and I'm not even spending money at this place, but I will take up more than my share of space because that is who I am".

Rob decided we could just move everything to the front and get a table close to the window and all would be well. The funny thing is that I hate to go inside there because it is mostly people sitting along trying to concentrate and I don't like to bug them with our family of five. It also means we have to move tables together and I would like to leave the A/C to the people who are used to it/need it. I was trying to be respectful of others. So, we sit and we eat and have a nice time and then little "Feet on the Table girl" comes in to check on her boyfriend who is sitting a table away from us. Her boyfriend was there...would it have killed her to move and sit inside with him? I said a few choice words which I'm pretty sure she could hear and promised Rob I would take a picture next time (leaving out the face when I posted in my blog) if this type of thing happens again. Rob is one of those live and let live kind of people and doesn't get his dander up, but this chick bugged him just as much as she bugged me. He guesses she is a "suburb girl" (sorry to all of you from the Chicago 'burbs). Grrr.

The lunch was nice anyhow and we trekked home with Parker on his Razor, Dema amongst the loot in the Chariot, and Josie on my front in the Didymos wrap. I got to hear about Rob's weekend with Todd and his dinner with Mike and Alison. He got to hear about the craziness which is our children. A block or so from our house, I spotted a snake skin. Dema got out to inspect it and he picked it up to take it home (and we thought for a second about taking it as a gift for Cynthia...just joking!), but he decided it was best to leave it where he found it...if it was an actual snake it would have been harder to for him to make that decision.

The boys have now entered the Land of Lego (against my better judgment) and we could barely drag them away from building to go swimming at Vicky and Greg's pool. It was so nice to cool off in the pool until the thunder and then we were back inside building away.

Rob said he wanted to make dinner so he made tomato risotto with some kale we had leftover and kalamata olives. Everyone loved it! What is not to love about risotto, kale, and olives? (Believe it me it was much more appetizing than this silly picture from my phone.) I did the dishes...have I mentioned we still don't have a dishwasher. All weekend I've been trying to do dishes with one hand while holding Josie in the other or sneaking in some dishes while she sleeps.

I wish I'd had a chance to have my own dad over today, but all in all I think it was a nice Father's Day for Rob. Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Book Review

Lazy Summer Saturday Morning Book Review:

Dragon Rider by Cornelia FunkeParker received this book for his 8th birthday from Sammy and Izzy (well, from Ricky and Catharine). Rob started reading this book aloud at night to the kids soon after we received it and the whole family was hooked. It is really our first fantasy book since the kids so far had preferred non-fiction or books which "could" have happened. A lot of fantasy books are too scary for Parker, but he really loved this one. It was suspenseful, but not too much so and very little real violence for a fantasy book. Everyone in the family gives it a thumbs up.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
We liked Dragon Rider so much, Parker decided we should look for other books by the same author at our local library. We decided on The Thief Lord. It is very different from Dragon Rider, but it didn't disappoint. I read this one aloud and Parker and I would continue to read it long after Rob and Dema had fallen asleep. I like how both books have strong female characters and boys and girls working together. The kids were very interested in Venice after reading this book so if anyone has suggestions on books about Venice or just set in Venice which kids would enjoy, let me know. I'm so out of it, I didn't realize there was a Thief Lord movie. I don't know if I want to check it out or not. I almost always prefer the book.

The Secret History of Tom Trueheart by Ian Beck
We went back to the library looking for another Cornelia Funke book, but the titles available seemed a little too "dark" for my kids. Thomas Trueheart was displayed in several places so we picked it up. (Yes, marketing at work.) It was enjoyable, but more Dema's level and type of story than Parker's, but it was nice light reading. I thought the premise of the book was cute, but it was a little lost on the kids because it assumes a knowledge of the "traditional" fairy tales which they don't really know. I would read another Ian Beck book to Dema, but Parker's not super interested in reading more about Tom Trueheart.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
This is an old favorite which we've read aloud and listened to on tape during car trips. Parker adores this story about a little girl, her stray dog, and the community she builds in a new town. It is a truly charming and sweet story. Although we don't live in the South, the kids can relate to the setting. I like the way animals are portrayed and love how the little girl brings so many people together. This book is perfect summer reading. Again, I haven't seen the movie.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Health and Healing

Dema had his stitches removed Wednesday. He was great about it, of course, and is healing well.

I have the kids tested for lead yearly since we moved into the old house. We've had a complete (garage and soil too) lead assessment of our house and we know where potential problem spots are (not really an issue until we start on remodeling projects). I just have them tested as a precaution. Since they are drawing blood anyway, I always have them do a B12 test and a CBC (complete blood count) as well. So Dema and Josie both had blood taken Wednesday since we were at the doctor anyway. Dema is amazing. He watched the needle go in and is fascinated by the blood coming out. I am much worse than he is...last year they had to give me water and I couldn't stand up right away after watching Parker's blood draw. I used to be awful about having my own blood taken, but I got over that during my pregnancy with Parker. I still am not a blood donor like Rob though. Josie wasn't too happy about the prick, but did great as well. She forgave me quickly when she was able to eat her first sucker. We received the results already and everyone is fine and healthy as expected. I didn't need the numbers to tell me that, but I like to know.

We are hoping for a nice quiet weekend. The weather is supposed to be beautiful here. I hope you all have wonderful weather and a Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Birthday Brunch

Sunday we had a birthday brunch for my sister, but she forgot about it until a couple hours after she was supposed to be here. Luckily, we know Karen and went ahead and ate. She did come by after she realized she was supposed to be at our house to play with the kids (she helped them advertise for the neighborhood bakery), receive her birthday drawing from Parker, and eat some cake. Rob's dad, Mike, was in town all weekend from North Carolina and my dad made it for brunch.Tofu Florentine from Veganomicon. We like to live on the edge and we topped it with fresh raw tomatoes (hydroponic so we thought they would be safe). I used whole wheat English muffins for the base as I did the Tofu Benedict last weekend. Rob really enjoyed it and I was a little distracted with my worry about Karen so I didn't notice any other reaction, but Parker said later that he really liked it. Organic grapes from the co-op. Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusel from Veganomicon. Organic strawberries from the farmer's market and organic blueberries from the store. Rob roasted asparagus from the farmer's market (not in the picture).
I made the Coconut-Lemon Bundt Cake (from Veganomincon) and the Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusel around midnight for a couple reasons (everyone was in bed), but the main reason was the heat. It was hot and humid this weekend and we can only open one window on the first floor (I'll remind ya again that we don't have A/C). Baking didn't even sound tolerable until after 11pm. I really like to bake at night anyway. It reminds me of my mother and it is nice time to think about things and it almost meditation...until Josie wakes up screaming because I'm not right next to her and decides to nurse for the rest of the baking. Anyway, the point is I modified the recipes a bit due to running out of ingredients and the time of day/night. I didn't use lemon zest (and I feel the bundt cake suffered a bit for it) and used lemon extract instead, but not was still good, just not lemony. I ran out of cinnamon while making the crumb cake so I winged it with allspice and nutmeg with fine results. I used walnuts instead of pecans for the topping and I would do that again.

I used leftover English muffins, broiled tofu, and avocado for lunch the next day. We were at our friend, Jenny's and the broiled tofu was a hit for her boys. I used the sauce (added some flax seed oil) for whole wheat macaroni and "cheese" dinner (with leftover beans, kale, and brown rice from Saturday when Rob made burritos).Sunday afternoon we took a dip in our neighbor's pool and it was so nice to get cool we didn't want to leave. It was a perfect way to deal wtih the heat. Just for the record, that is Rob's hairy leg behind Josie, not mine. The funny look is because she is looking into the sun. She had a blast at the pool!
For dinner Sunday night we walked (I pushed Parker and Josie in the Chariot) and biked (Rob rode Mike on the back of his Xtracycle...wish I had snapped a picture of that!! and Dema rode his bike) downtown to the Esquire for black bean burgers. We ran into Cynthia's gang which was a nice surprise. They were leaving as we were coming in. Dema fell asleep at the table (long hot day!) so Parker rode Dema's bike home and I pushed Dema and Josie in the Chariot.
We had a nice visit with Mike, but he left for North Carolina just as the weather turned tolerable and today it is downright beautiful!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"Alternative" Medicine

Since becoming a mother, I have thought more about health care than I ever did previously in my life. As a mother I have experienced caring for my own mother as she died, caring for a child with a congenital heart defect, watching two of my grandparents and two of my husband's grandparents the common cuts, scrapes and bruises of the last couple days. I always find what Peter has to say interesting and thought-provoking. This latest post was something I wanted to share.

Awesome Aunt and Nine Months Old

Josie is nine months old today (my sister's birthday!). She (Josie, not my sister) is pulling up and "cruising" furniture, waving hi and bye, saying some words which sound like "Parker, brother, hello, bye, mama, dada, ball" (you know, the usual, but it could be just babbling). I have to say my sister, Karen, is an awesome aunt. She came over to help me out one day and took the kids to the park. I went out to check on them and she had Josie asleep! No one can get Josie asleep these days except for me and not only did she have Josie asleep, but she was able to lay her down on the ground and keep her asleep. Josie is no Dema and will usually wake up if I put her down. Karen is amazing!
Josie spends a lot of time riding around in my various carriers (here she is in my organic Ergo), usually on my back (sometimes she rides in a carrier on Parker). She loves to go for walks, especially downtown.
Josie is very sure of herself and what she wants and makes those wants/needs known. She likes the water (has been in our neighbor's Vicky and Greg's pool...we'll get pictures next time), but doesn't like to get splashed. She loves baths with her brothers so I'm guessing she'll get used to splashing. Quite often, I feel like she is much smarter than the rest of us and she is just trying to figure out why we aren't up to speed with her yet.Josie still loves (although she is not slowing down any on the nursing front) to eat and I can tell she'll be like her brothers and like to cook too. So far, we haven't found a food she doesn't like.Josie likes the new Champaign Public Library better than I do and has taught me to get used to new things and to see the bright spots even if I don't like the entire picture. Dema is enjoying the Legos (surprise, surprise) in the background.People are always saying Josie and Dema look a lot alike so here is proof that they are in fact two different people. Have I mentioned she loves to take her clothes in and out of her drawer now. Her favorite thing remains watching her big brothers and they are both so much help with her. Rob's dad, Mike, is in town from North Carolina this weekend, but unfortunately Josie is going through that nine month phase where she won't go to most people who aren't mom and dad. Again, Karen is amazing and will keep her happy for a bit. I'm hoping before Mike leaves we'll be able to snap a picture of him with Josie.
Josie still only has one tooth, but is fascinated with brushing teeth and loves to "help" us out with dental hygiene.
She has taken up "reading" instead of chewing on books. She still loves the outdoors (especially in the hot muggy weather we've had of late...have I mentioned we don't have air conditioning?) just as the boys do so we often end up at the park enjoying the shade with books and a blanket (and maybe a snack or two).

Friday, June 6, 2008

When it Rains it Pours or We Don't Eat Blood

It was one of those mornings yesterday where you know you are running late for something and should just stay home, but you don't and then you realize there was a reason you had that nagging feeling to just blow something off you normally enjoy.

We met up with the homeschooling art class at the Japan House today, but we pretty late. The guys did some drawings and water color and then we all went out to the open space to run around and eat some lunch. The boys were all excited to eat the tamales we brought, but the kids were playing around some before we all got our lunches out.

Too many boys on big rocks. Not long after the playing started, Parker scraped his knees on the rocks and came over in the shade for some sympathy and while I was checking him out I hear one of the other boys say "Dema is bleeding on his head!" Parker and I both look up to Dema crying and coming toward us with blood all the way down to his chin from his head. I put Josie down on the ground next to Parker and tried to access what was going on, but there seemed to be so much talking from the kids and the other moms that I just couldn't get a handle on how badly Dema was actually hurt. Of course, yesterday's incident with the car was fresh in my mind and I was sort of in a daze.

Stop the bleeding. I saw that the cut was very deep from the first glance at Dema, I was pretty sure the white I saw was bone or close to it. He wasn't bleeding buckets, but I wanted to stop the bleeding so I grabbed the cloth napkins for lunch from my bag and held his head. I was pretty sure we were talking a hospital visit, but I didn't want to drive there alone. I wanted to be able to hold him and keep the cloth on his forehead. I kept wondering about the blood in his eye and it was hard to tell if he was just bleeding from his head or his nose too. Dema mumbles something to me, "We don't eat blood." What?? "We are vegan, we don't eat blood. Get the blood out of my mouth." Oh good lord! He is worried about the blood in his mouth!

Let me explain this for a second. Parker from a very young age was fine and understood why we are vegan and why we don't eat animals. He saw his grandmother (my mom) die (he saw her die over a month time and then saw her dead body at the hospital as we dealt with things) when he was two and he's always been peaceful about death and understanding. Parker is much more at peace with death than I will ever be. Dema is fascinated by blood and death in a way that I will never understand. We joke that he may be a doctor some day because he always wants to understand more. He equates blood with death no matter how many times we explain things. Soooo...when we talk about how we don't believe in killing animals and eating them he equates that with eating their blood. Hard to explain, back to the story...

We wipe out his mouth and at some point, it is all a little hazy now, I call Rob, but I'm holding Dema so I give the phone to Parker. As you learned yesterday, Parker is not so great about relaying news in such a way as to not bring panic and fear (It is okay, he's not dead leaves a lot of stuff between okay and dead for a parent to imagine). Parker was doing a fine job, but Rob really wanted to hear from an adult what the situation with Dema was before he hopped on his bike to find us. Luckily, Lori took the phone and gave her assessment and explained where we were. Rob was on his way, on his bike, but it seemed like forever waiting for him and about this time I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. I asked Lori to hold the cloth on Dema's head while I got the other two kids in the car so we could go, but I really just needed to take a second so I didn't puke. The kids were in the car and I was in the passenger seat holding Dema when Rob arrived.

Rob took a look at Dema's head (bleeding had stopped) and agreed we should go the hospital (big thing for Mr. We Can Steristrip It Ourselves At Home Guy). I held Dema and Rob drove to the ER. We were hoping our neighbor, Greg (an ER doc), was working, but no such luck. Dema was fine with the doctor we FINALLY ended up seeing. The waiting was expected, but annoying just the same. I have going to the ER because it means hours of waiting and I feel like I'm dying a little bit in that waiting room watching those damn TVs with those silly daytime me! I had some if our picnic in my diaper back and no one had eaten lunch so Dema devoured the blueberries, Josie ate some figs, kumquats, and grape tomatoes. We had some looks, but I don't care.

In the examining room (it was a room they said they don't normally use so they must have been busy), waiting for the doctor we explained to Dema what was going to happen. Parker was really the one putting him at ease, showing him the scar from his heart surgery and explaining how it would all be fine. The doctor came in and after being bombarded with Parker's account (he didn't actually see anything since he was with me and I didn't see anything since I was taking care of Parker when Dema fell), Dema's account (he didn't remember much except the darn ant hill), and Josie crying...decided that he only wanted one parent in the room and no siblings...surprise! Dema really wanted Parker to stay, but knew it would take a while and Parker was hungry and I could get Josie to sleep if I took her outside to nurse so Rob stayed with Dema.

I HATE waiting while my child is being seen. I was going nuts. We went out to the car, Parker ate the tamales we had for lunch (leaving as many as he could for Dema). Parker was so incredibly sweet and supportive to Dema and they kept hugging each other all day. I put Josie in the Ergo and she went to sleep as we did laps around the outside of the hospital. I didn't want to get too far away in case I was needed and I couldn't find my cell phone, but I couldn't take the waiting room.

When we finally saw Dema again, he had a dozen stitches in his head and Rob says he did fine, even without Dr. Greg. He didn't get scared or upset once and was as still as he could be. By this point, though, he was bouncing off the walls and wanted to go home. Rob had asked the nurse (nice guy from NC) to come find me because there was a surgeon who looked at Dema's eye and said he wanted to do the procedure without a parent in the room. Now we understood wanting only one parent during the stitching and we didn't bat an eye about that, but we were not going to leave our kid alone. Rob stated this and asked to talk to the surgeon's boss and while he was gone had me come in. When the surgeon and his boss came back in they took a look and released talk AT ALL about something more needing to be done. It was odd. We took it though and left.

We dropped Rob back at the Japan House to pick up his bike (at this point, going back to work didn't make much sense, but he could pick up his computer and tie up loose ends). Dema was asleep by the time we arrived home. Poor little guy. I took him upstairs and watched him sleep for a very long time. I love that tough, sweet little person and I want him to take it easy for a while, but I know he won't. He is a jump right back on type of person and I can't keep him in a bubble. He plays on rocks all the time and this is the first time he's really been hurt. Maybe we need these experiences (so sad that we do) to realize how precious life is. We know it is precious and fleeting, but maybe life would be way too intense if we felt it all the time. One of the hardest things for me when I find out I'm having a child or think about having another is knowing they will get hurt and eventually die. Of course, that doesn't stop me from having them and loving them and unfortunately sometimes taking them for granted. I am so lucky to have this time with them and I wouldn't be who I am without them. I just wish I could keep them safe, but they also need to be able to live life and have this oh so short time where they think they are invincible...what a balance.

Off to hug my kids again.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's Okay He's Not Dead...

Dema has been begging to ride his bike all day and I had things I needed to do and couldn't be with him and the rule is he can't ride on his bike without one of us. So, when Rob got home this evening, the first thing Dema wanted to do was ride bikes. Rob rides his bike behind Dema to keep an eye on things and they only ride around the park and down one of the alleys. Those damn alleys.

I am inside with the windows open with Josie finally napping and Parker drawing. I hear Rob call "Linda" and I can't figure out what window he is at so Parker offers to go outside and see what is up. Parker comes back in, runs upstairs and says in an excited, but trying to calm me down tone:

"I found out what Rob wanted. You are not going to believe this...Dema was hit by a car, but it's okay, he's not dead." Stunned silence on my part, then "Watch the baby!" as I run past him down the stairs and out the door.

I run down the alley behind our house and see Rob and Dema both riding their bikes toward me. Then Dema stops and won't come to me (I don't have any shoes on and I'm walking on little rocks). He is worried I'm upset with him. Rob tells me Dema was going down the alley a little farther away (he loves it because it has a hill and he stays on the sidewalk until there is no sidewalk) and Rob was telling him to stop, but Dema had picked up enough speed he couldn't stop in time and he hits a car coming slowly (thank God!) around the corner. The guy in the car hear Rob yelling and had apparently stopped by the time Dema actually hit him. Rob says Dema flew off the bike and hit the guy's windshield.

I finally get Dema to come to me and get off his bike so I can hug him and tell him I love him. I ask him if he is okay and he said "I was going FAST!" I asked if it scared him to hit the car and he said "It hurt my stomach a little bit."

Rob is outside riding with Dema now and I can't stop shaking.

Eggless Salad and Three Bean Burgers

It is hot and I don't feel like cooking, but the family has to eat. Here is Eggless Salad on whole wheat tortillas, Three Bean Burgers on whole wheat buns with avocado and tomato, and a couple baked fries thrown in.
I basically followed Vegan Dad's recipe (link above), but added some fresh dill from the garden and more of all the ingredients except the tofu. It was quick, it was good. I threw together some burgers inspired by Vegan Family Favorites recipe, but I just put whatever I want until it sticks together. Also, our dried beans were still cooking (long story, my fault) so I opened a can of black, kidney, and aduki beans mashed them together with some oats, them put a ton of chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and enough vital wheat gluten to get it all to stick together. Most of the time I add other things like onions, salsa, nuts, bread crumbs, whatever I see around that looks good. Then I make patties and cook in a cast iron skillet. The kids love the homemade burgers better than any restaurant or store-bought ones and they are great warmed up in the toaster oven the next day. Sometimes the kids will eat three in one sitting.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

He Slept Through It

For you locals who are talking about last night's storms...

My second born slept through being carried downstairs from his bed while the tornado sirens when off (Josie woke up and Parker was still awake), being put on the floor in the hallway near our basement door while we assessed if this really warranted a trip to our actual basement (which by the way is a walk outside right now in the rain and lightening). Then he was picked up (carried outside, down our back porch, around our fence and back into the house, down more stairs) and put down on the basement floor (which is in the middle of being demolished by my sweet husband, but happened to have a sleeping bag in the middle of the chaos), continued to sleep on the hard, dirty basement floor (well actually a dirty little fleece emergency sleeping bag) as I nursed Josie in the Ergo and read a book to Parker and Rob wished he didn't have a wife who was so ignorant about the statistical probability of actually being hit by a tornado. Dema was then carried upstairs (trek outside again in the rain) and put back in bed and never once, not once, woke up.

I love that boy!

Love is...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Random Rambling for the Women

None of my bras fit. I hate that. I have lots of friends who prefer to go sans bra, but that is not my style and never has been. Call me uptight, call me a conformer, call me unnatural, call me what you will, but I like bras. I do not, however, like any of the bras I currently own. Pregnancy and nursing for over nine years straight can do a number on the mammalian body. All my bras are either too big, too small, or just not comfortable at any given moment during the day. I need to go shopping, but given the choice between a pelvic exam and bra shopping, I would have to think for a few minutes. It is just that fun.

While I have lost all my male readers, I will take a chance on people now coming to my blog while doing something entirely different on the computer than cooking vegan food and discuss one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate the word "boob"...stop me if I've told you before because I've blogged about this in my mind several times, but I really don't think I've ever put pen to paper about it. If I have, skip to the next post.

I guess we can add prude to the list of things to call me because I cringe, I mean I CRINGE each time someone calls their breasts (because it seems to be the women out there, maybe the guys I talk to are way too PC ) "boobs". I don't get it. Boob, to me, has a negative connotation which was created by men (just a feeling, I have no idea where the word started or why people started calling breasts by that name) and I don't know why women...not just any women, but many, many women whom I know and respect...continue the use of the word. Maybe it is Vagina Monologues type thing where they are "claiming" back the word. I don't care, it bugs me.

As a mother of boys, the term "boobs" bothered me because I will not tolerate my boys picking that term up. They can say "oh shit" (that is a story for another post), they can say a lot of things I won't go into here, but I will not have them call women's breasts, "boobs". Breast and nipple are words that get used more often than you would think by my boys, but I don't think they would even know what someone meant if they said "boobs". Now that I am the mother of a female, she will choose for herself since it is her body, but I am hoping "boobs" will not be part of her vocabulary.

Glad to get all this off my chest.

In case you haven't guessed, I don't like "hooters" any better.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Benedict Brunch and Bushes

We now have a "naked house" (for different reasons than we have in the past). We completely denuded our house by cutting out all the ugly bushes, but with nothing whatsoever in mind to replace them. Nothin', nada, and here our poor house sits with nothing to cover its lower half. I just couldn't take them anymore and although we have a million and one started or planned projects (remember that kitchen), I asked Rob to get rid of the eyesore which was our old bushes. He went at them with it the sawsall and now they are no more. Here is a picture of the carnage.So, my dad has a little hauler truck and we haven't had a family brunch for a few weeks now so it was time to call one and have my dad bring the pickup and haul some of the branches away. I called my sister (last minute because I just do no planning anymore) this morning and she came over too. I wanted to make a bunch of things, but ended up just doing two, but everyone was happily fed and I have Rob looking forward to the next brunch because he really wanted me to make the Tofu Florentine from Veganomicon.
Greek Tofu Benedict from Veganomicon (broiled tofu, dill-tahini sauce, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, and dried oregano for garnish over a whole-wheat English muffin) and Blueberry Coffee Cake fro Vegan with a Vengeance with fresh blueberries on top (I never get tired or making or eating this one). We also had some thawed organic peaches from the freezer and musk melon from our neighbor Vicky (Dema gave her those eyes yesterday after they swam in her pool and he scored some melon).After brunch, everyone went outside to cut up the bushes and load them in my dad's truck (much more than one load worth of bushes) to be taken to the landscape recycling center. Parke and one of the neighbor boys enjoyed sawing off the branches and Dema was ticked he didn't get to use the saw (maybe next time), but he was not in a responsible mood and we didn't want to take a trip to the ER. We spent much of the day outside and then I realized it was time for dinner and I needed to feed everyone before walking over to Stef's house to say goodbye (more about this in another post). I doubled the recipe for the Greek Tofu Benedict recipe so we had a little leftovers (Rob ate two before I even took a picture so I think if we hadn't run out of English muffins it would have all been gone except for the dill-tahini sauce which I would not double next time since it makes plenty) and I did the '70's mom thing and made a casserole. I just cooked up some whole-wheat Cavatappi pasta, cut up the broiled tofu and roasted red peppers into smaller pieces, cut up the rest of the kalamata olives, added some baby spinach, put it all in a casserole dish with the dill-tahini sauce mixed in and topped it with Garlic Bread Topping and baked it for a while...Greek Benedict Casserole! It was a little heavy on the dill for the kids (I asked my husband for some reason instead of going with my gut when I was putting the dill in the sauce and he said something like, "you can never have too much dill"), but it was good and quick. I think my husband would eat anything I serve with Garlic Bread Topping (there is just something about walnuts, pumpkin seeds, garlic, bread, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, and olive oil which makes anything taste good). We had the rest of the fresh blueberries on the side. Oh and I used the leftover peaches, added frozen organic raspberries, soy milk, orange juice, fresh baby spinach, and a banana to make loved it and finished off the Blueberry Coffee Cake too. Nothing but lots of dirty dishes left...did I mention we still don't have a dishwasher?