Thursday, July 31, 2008

Camera Kaput?

We've had beautiful weather the entire time we've been in NC. Sure, a quick rain here and there, but during the day beautiful. Then this evening we go out for a little family dip in the ocean while the rest of the clan was out eating seafood (Dema was sad about them eating fish, but he said he loved them and would miss them...I'm pretty sure he was talking about the relatives, but it works for the fish as well...I caught him hugging the Marc's family's eggs in the refrigerator earlier today and he said he wanted to take them back to the farm and give them back to the chickens so they could hatch). On the way in, I put down the camera to keep it from getting wet while the kids hosed off the sand. Then later this evening an impressive dark cloud rolled in and we went out to gaze at the sky. I still did not remember to bring in the camera. The rain came down and ended...and I finally remembered the camera! It is wet, but seems to be in working order. I hope it lasts until I download all the pictures from this trip!!P.S. This is a picture Rob took of me writing this blog entry. He was sure the camera was fine, but it was acting funky after getting soaked so I didn't use it the rest of the trip. I started to once and it flaked out on me. I just wanted to get it home and get the pictures I'd already taken off the memory card, but I should have taken more pictures. :-(

Birth Vibes Going Out

Right before we were leaving for our trip to North Carolina, at around 3am, I was checking out the blogs and local blogger Chicken and Cheese was the last one I read. I was reading this entry when Rob woke up and reminded me we needed to get going. Although I don't know her, I haven't been able to get her out of my head. I was hoping all was going well with her pregnancy and sending wonderful birthing vibes out to her.

Today, Stephanie (my sister-in-law) received news that her brother's wife is at the hospital in labor with their first child. We haven't heard any news of a birth yet. Birthing is very much on my mind and I'm hoping she had a great birth and they welcome their little boy into the world very soon!

I love being pregnant so much and love giving birth, I thought for a while about being a doula. The doula we had at Parker's birth has asked me more than once about training to be a doula. I've attended several friend's births, but in the end I think it is just too much pressure. Birth is such a unique and personal experience and there is just so much tied up in it all. I am a birth junkie and love to hear birth stories and love to be at births, but it would also be a juggling act with young children of my own. It is hard for me when I hear of things like Chicken and Cheese described to not get very angry with the way pregnancy and birth is treated in our society and wish I could be there as an advocate. It just doesn't have to be this way...there is another way.

I'm not naive and I don't think homebirth is the answer to all the issues and I don't think homebirth is for everyone, but I still hold my breath when I hear about someone going to the hospital to give birth in a way I don't when I hear of them starting labor at home. I just wish there was more respect given to pregnant/birthing women. I respect OBs and midwives of all flavors, but quite often I don't see the respect of the patient. There needs to be more respect in health care period. I'm sure there are many reasons and we can talk about insurance and all sorts of things which all go into the mix.

At the end of the discussion, I just know things can not and should continue as they currently are and things need to and will change.

I just hope everyone giving birth today or going into labor soon has the best experience possible.

You Say Topsul, I Say Topsail

Sunday we checked into our beach house on Topsail Island. Rob grew up on the coast of North Carolina and my first visit to Topsail Island was back when Parker was about 17 months old. His father kept saying we were going to Topsul Island. I kept asking for Rob to repeat it and he spelled it for me and I said "Top Sail"? No "Topsul", just like the nautical term. Well, I believed him because everyone down here calls it Topsul, but I just looked up the term and it is pronounced topsail so I still don't get why the island is not. No matter, tomato tomato (doesn't work well typed out, but you know). It is a very nice, quiet island with a beautiful beach.Rob's brother kindly arranged for the rental of a house on the beach. Rob and I hardly went to beach when we lived on the East Coast, instead we went to the mountains every weekend we could. It was partly because of rock climbing, but I also assumed it was because Rob grew up on the ocean and didn't find it as interesting as I did growing up in land-locked Illinois. I love mountains too, don't get me wrong, but as soon as I was old enough to venture to the islands I was off to the Caribbean every year. This ended when Rob and I met. Then we moved back to Illinois and our friends from Maryland started the lovely tradition of getting together yearly (although due to this or that it ended up being more like every other year) at a beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This is the first year, however, that we've stayed in house with Rob's brother, Marc and his family, and Rob's dad. This is also the first year we've been right on the beach...I am now completely spoiled. It is very nice to be able to walk out your back door and be on the beach.
Rob's cousins also came down and stayed in a house close by. They ended up with six adults, seven children, and two dogs in their beach house. It is too bad we couldn't all stay together, but we were able to spend some time on the beach, eating pizza, roller skating, and chatting. I hope we make this a regular event. It is so much fun to see all the kids together. Out of 11 children, only 3 are boys (my two and Rob's cousin has 1 boy and 3 girls). Fredbunch's son, Bear, stayed a couple nights in our beach house with Parker and Dema. My boys were so happy to have him (Dema talks about Bear and Marc's daughter, Lillian, to anyone who will listen). Bear is the sweetest young man and I was tempted to take him back to Illinois with me. He is such a gentleman, great with younger kids, and adorably funny. Birdie (she turned 1 year old yesterday!) is only a little over a month older than Josie and it was so much fun to see them together. Josie is just a little too over affectionate and I'm sure Birdie was a tad sick of her grabbing her and kissing her, but it was still fun. Happy Birthday Birdie! All the kids are super sweet and great to be around. It was so neat to see all the girls together and I can't wait for Josie to join in when she is older.

Dema is smitten with Rob's cousin Jamie. She is wonderful with kids, although she doesn't have any of her own (just the furry four-legged kind), and I think Dema would bring her home if he could. Dema has a love/hate relationship with the beach. He loves it, but doesn't like the salt water in his eyes and mouth, yet he is in the water every chance he gets. Both the boys go much farther out in the ocean this year than they have in years past. It is probably due in part to our neighbor's Vicky and Greg and their pool. They are great swimming instructors and very generous with their pool so the boys are much more adventurous in the water. Marc and Rob helped the kids ride his surf board (no standing yet) and I swear Dema looks like he will eventually be a surfer. Rob and Marc grew up surfing so he has some good role models. Parker likes the Boogie Board Vicky sweetly sent with us more than the big surf board.Josie is a beach baby. She loves it! Josie is a little crazy and will crawl right into the waves until I pick her up after the hit her in the face and she just laughs and laughs. We better watch out for her next year. Our niece, Lillian, is a little (not so little...she is as tall as Parker now) fish and I love watching her in the water. The boys and Lillian also had great fun playing in the sand.I love just being by the ocean and listening to the waves crash. I've nursed all three children to sleep on the beach at different times over the years and nothing seems better than sleeping cuddled up in someone's arms on the beach. There is something primal and soothing about the ocean. I especially like a warm ocean that feels like nature's bath water....perfect. As a Midwesterner, I am totally in awe and in love with the water, is not entirely comfortable in the ocean. I love seeing Rob in his element. He is completely respectful of the ocean and what it can do, but also completely comfortable in a way I don't think I could ever be, but I think I appreciate it more since not living near an ocean makes it a little magical. The only thing I dislike is the sand. I like to play in the sand and I like the way it feels on my toes, but it is so hard to get rid of when you are done with it! I forget this every year, but the sand in everything would get old after a while. I have to remind myself about the sand or I'd buy some property by the ocean (oh, wait, I guess money might be a factor as well). I keep thinking global warming is going to put places like Topsail (no matter how ya say it) completely underwater some day, but I'm glad we can enjoy it now.

Laughing in Asheville

Rob is from North Carolina so we usually take a trip or two or three down there a year. We usually drive and try to arrange a stop in beautiful Asheville, NC. We love the downtown area to walk around, catch up on our window shopping, watch people climb, and, of course, enjoy some great food at the Laughing Seed Cafe.
We arrived in Asheville around 5pm local time and there was some sort of festival going on. We paid $5 to park in what looked to be someone's driveway and took the kids around looking at the sites. We were pretty hungry since our breakfast/lunch stop had been Louisville, KY's Whole Foods at 8am that morning so we quickly made our way to the Laughing Seed. Dema had the Crispy Asian Dumplings. Parker had the Tico Burrito. Rob had the Mercury Not Rising sandwich. I had the Reuben. We shared an E-lix-R tonic. I think my tempeh Reuben was the best, but it was all good, as usual.
After we ate, we went across Wall St. to the climbing store (they have an 3 or 4 story outdoor climbing wall and we watch the climbers while we eat). On Saturday they had a "slack rope" for people to try to walk across. It was fun for the guys to try it and fun to watch others. I thought Rob would have no problem since he was a pretty skilled climber when we met and has excellent balance, but it is much harder than it looks.We walked around the festival a bit, but Dema was in a hurry to get to our destination so we didn't stay as long as I would have liked. Dema's highlight of the evening was hugging the guy dressed up as the Pillsbury Dough Boy (I kept calling him the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man which dates me, but Dema started it by calling the guy the "vegan marshmallow man"). It seemed a little ironic, the vegan kid hugging the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

A couple hours later we were in Charlotte, NC at Rob's brother's house for a much needed good night's rest.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Yes, I grew up listening to Connie Francis (I'm not that old, but my mom liked her music so I would listen to her old records over and over).
We are on vacation and I don't have a way to download pictures right now. Suffice it say, we are having a great time. Where?
Hint 1: We are getting our yearly dose of vitamin D.
Hint 2: We left at 4am Saturday morning to arrive where we would spend the night at 7:30pm local time and still had to drive several hours the next day to reach our destination with a 10 month old babe who hates the car. (Okay, that was more of a vent than a hint.)
Hint 3: Elsinore's song, Carolina keeps going through my head.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What Are We Made Of?

Snips and snails,
And puppy dog tails?

Sugar and spice,
And everything nice?


Monday Movie Review

King Corn
This is a great documentary on what we eat and how we farm. Both Rob and I have grandparents who were farmers (mine in the Midwest and his in the South) and although we both grew up in town, we are still tied to our farming roots. Of course, farming effects us all and I am hopeful for our future since people seem to be more and more interested in where their food is coming from and what they are putting in their bodies. Two friends recently graduated from college decide to find out why statistically they will not live as long as their parents. In the beginning of the movie, the two young men have their hair tested and find out that their bodies are pretty much made of corn. Rob thinks we would have less corn in our hair than most people since we don't buy anything with high fructose corn syrup or eat fast food. We mostly eat whole organic foods made at home, but I still think we would have the same results in our hair. We both grew up on a SAD (standard American diet) and any time we eat out, we have less control over what is actually in the food. It would be fun (possibly alarming) to find out what our hair says about us. I highly suggest watching King Corn. I think food and food policy is extremely important and will become more and more important over the lifetime of our children.Speaking of food, here is Sunday breakfast. We were supposed to have our friends Ricky and Katharine and their kids over for brunch, but Ricky was busy doing a local talk on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Oh, I guess that is more important than eating brunch with us. *sigh* Seriously, Ricky is amazing labor activist and this is an important topic so we'll reschedule on a day when our house isn't a rain forest (hot and humid folks, hot and humid). Thankfully, Rob was eager to make breakfast after being in California for work all week and I was happy to let him. He made the pancakes from The Joy of Vegan Baking and added some of our fresh blueberries. Yum! We topped them with a little flax seed oil and localish maple syrup. I made a smoothie (which Dema wanted in a bowl instead of a glass) with more fresh blueberries, banana, cashews, mixed greens, frozen raspberries, frozen strawberries, and some soymilk (almost a meal in itself).

Our friend, Jenny, took pity on us hot and humid people and invited us over while Rob helped a friend move and then Rob came to pick us up and stayed for a beer and some lunch. We could have, and almost did, stayed all day in her cool house eating her lovely farmer's market tomatoes and chili mac. I don't have a picture, but the sliced tomatoes alone were beautiful!
Dinner was Vegan Dad's Creamy Mac and Cheeze (quickly becoming Parker's favorite cheeze is great served over steamed broccoli) with peas, carrots, and broccoli with garlic bread topping, fried tofu (sprayed with Bragg's amino acids and covered with nutritional yeast). I like making fried tofu into sandwiches on a whole wheat bun with a little Vegenaise, pickles, and mixed greens. It is even better with avocado, but we didn't have any which were ripe. (What is up with this picture? The sandwich looks like some sort of monster trying to eat the Creamy Mac and Cheeze...I guess it is that good. I need to take more time with my photos.)

Friday, July 18, 2008


People like to ask vegans all sorts of ethical/moral questions about what they eat. I totally understand and usually I assume people are just trying to understand what it really means to be "vegan". For some vegans it is a diet, for some it is a moral/ethical way of living which includes what they wear, what they ingest, and pretty much every decision they make in their lives, for others it is something in between. So, the questions come up...

"If a hamburger (or whatever non-vegan "food" you want to come up with) fell off a truck and you didn't actually pay for it, thus you haven't added to the suffering of animals because it will just go to waste anyway, would you eat it?"

No, I wouldn't. I don't miss 99.9% (I can't think of anything I miss right now, but it is possible someone could come up with something) non-vegan "foods" so I don't feel like I'm deprived. On top of this, I don't believe that animal products are good for humans to consume.

"At the animal sanctuary, did you eat the eggs from the chickens?"

No, we didn't. Again, I felt no desire to eat something that "shoots right outta chicken's ass" (couldn't help but quote Fried Green Tomatoes there). When I was volunteering at an animal sanctuary in Maryland, we put the eggs out (away from where the chickens) to be eaten by wild animals. Yes, the chickens were treated very well, but I still had no interest in eating their eggs.

Oh so many questions. They usually degrade to the "What would you do if you were in a plane crash over Antarctica and there was nothing vegan to eat? Would you die of starvation before eating something non-vegan?" and the like.

But, this post is really about addressing a serious question vegans often hear...

"What about humanely raised animals? Would you eat meat, eggs, dairy, if the animals were treated well before they were killed, eggs were taken away, milked?" I think this is a harder one for a lot of people to understand than shunning all products from "factory farms" which I think the majority of people agree are not healthy for anyone. With the "humane" animal products becoming more popular (yeah! for people caring about where their food is coming from and how it was treated), it is harder for people to understand why someone wouldn't just buy "grass-fed beef" and eat "organic milk/eggs". I am glad I now have a place to send people who are interested in the topic. Check out this site for information on the myths behind "humane".

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lasagna and Little Ones

I haven't been cooking or blogging much as of late due to "she who will not be named" (hint: she likes to crawl around putting everything in her mouth, going up and down stairs, trying to stick her little fingers into old house outlets, all the while looking up at me with her cute little smile which melts my heart). On top of that, it is H-O-T and I will say it again...we have no A/C. I do have a picture of leftovers from this Sunday's lunch. My uncle, grandfather, sister and her S/O, and my dad came over for lunch so I made a bunch of easy, quick, but yummy food. Here is sundried tomato focaccia bread, whole-wheat fussili pasta with Esme Sauce peas and garlic bread topping, lasagna (more on that in a minute), and Qunioa Puttanesca. We also had mixed greens salad with walnuts and raisins, fruit salad, and garlic bread which are not in the picture. A little about the lasagna, we made Vegan Dad's Creamy Mac and Cheeze for the first time on the 4th of July and I thought immediately it would be good in lasagna. I haven't made lasagna for ages and I didn't have a lot of time to cook so I whipped up some VD's Cheeze sauce, used jarred sauce (I hate doing that, but it was Muir Glen Garden Vegetable which happened to be on sale at my local HF store, but still), threw together a tofu ricotta loosely based on a recipe in Nonna's Italian Kitchen (one of my favorite cookbooks), and sauted some BabyBella mushrooms and topped it with garlic bread topping. I was pretty pleased with the results (even with the jarred sauce) and will have to make it again when the temps finally fall back to reasonable levels. The lasagna was gone by the end of the day and rest of he Esme Sauce (I made a bunch since it goes quickly around here) with pasta and peas was devoured by the boys the next day.
Maybe we should have named her Ginger instead of Josie. I swear that girl loves all food! She ate quite a bit of the raw ginger before moving on to strawberries this morning.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Bastille Day! and Monday Movie Review

Hope everyone had a happy Bastille Day. I have to admit, I only know about Bastille Day because of my cyclist husband who taught me to like watching movies about bike races like the Tour de France (yes, they actually have them on DVD at That's Rentertainment for all of you to enjoy).

Speaking of movies, I highly recommend the BBC's Planet Earth Series. It is educational, entertaining, and beautifully filmed. We've only watched the first two discs, but we are all hooked. I would think about buying the series if it wasn't so easy to rent it from Netflix. The disc with the Cave episode is a favorite with the boys. The mountain of bat guano covered in cockroaches was enough for me to have nightmares, but it was fascinating for everyone else. They have a part where the camera crew go into what they went through to get some of the shots and it was nothing short of insane.

Monday, July 7, 2008

10 Months Old

Everyone says they look a lot alike, but I think Josie is growing into her own look and personality. She loves to play with the wooden kitchen and eat so I hope she ends up with the same love and interest in cooking as the boys have.
Josie at 10 months.
Dema at 10 months.

I wish I had digital pictures of Parker at 10 months.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

We live in the BEST neighborhood in the world. Really and truly. We went to our neighborhood 4 of July parade and it was lovely to be able to roll right out of bed (Yes, and don't I show it! In my defense it was a long night with Josie teething and nursing all night.) and walk a block, chat with neighbors, see the kids ride bikes in the parade and some of them were all decked out (we weren't, but we will know better next year). Here is part of the "gang" post-parade hanging out. They did a couple laps around the parade route just for fun after it was all done. We liked it so much, we even signed up to help with the event next year. It is just what we like about living in our neighborhood.

We thought about going to the "big parade" put on by our twin cities, but we blew it off. In past years we've been involved in one float or another and while it is fun, it is usually A LOT of waiting, hot, and tiring. Here are some pictures of the Homebirth is Healthy float few a couple years ago. My dad pulled the float the couple years we were involved (which was appropriate since he was born at home).I have a 14 mo. old Dema in the picture. You can't see it very well, but the float had a plastic play house and a birthing pool (with water!).
We decided to blow of the big parade and cook up some stuff for the cookout at Cynthia and Ernie's instead. Josie was teething and VERY needy all day so I asked Rob to cook the Vegan Dad's Creamy Mac and Cheeze (I was dying to try that recipe out) and the Red, White, and Blueberry Cobbler from Vegan Planet and whip up some hummus. We alway add peas and carrots to Mac and Cheeze for added nutrition and I think it tastes better that way. From his own admission, he gets a little flustered when I ask him to multi-task, especially in the kitchen. It took a while and nothing turned out as well as he had hoped, but it was all edible and the kitchen was trashed. I especially liked the Creamy Mac and Cheeze and would make it again in a second. I think it would make a great sauce for lasagna...note to self when it is cool enough to actually bake something in the oven again. I was disappointed with the cobbler, but it was still good...the dough just didn't work just right, but since I was on the sidelines taking care of Josie, I'm not sure what went wrong. The picture of the cobbler is before we put the Strawberry-Grand Marnier Sauce on. The kids loved it anyway and there was only one serving left when we went home so it was fine. We will have to make it again soon to figure out the dough. I loved the hummus, but Rob thought it was off...I will always eat hummus.

We had such a nice time at the cookout trying to convince C and E's friends to move into a house for sale close by, chatting with Leo about Lego (I love how his face lights up and the detail he goes into...there house is a Lego lovers dream), getting to know everyone (talking politics, religion, music, hiking on the east coast, etc.) and enjoying the atypically nice weather (not too hot, not too cool), and then the fireworks. Okay, there are no words to describe how cool it is to be able to walk a block, hang out with wonderful people, eating and chatting, and then watch an AMAZING fireworks display put on by neighbors a few blocks away. The fireworks were so impressive, especially for someone who just does them in the street in front of their house, and I just kept thinking to myself "we live in the best neighborhood on the planet". It was so fun to watch the kids play and enjoy the fireworks and then get all cranky and hungry since most of the kids (ours especially) had blown off all food and drink in preference for playing until the fireworks were about half way over and then they were all the sudden overtaken by thirst and hunger. Josie experienced her first fireworks...she had just gotten to sleep nursing in my arms when they began, but she really enjoyed them.

We didn't have to deal with traffic or crowds, we just walked home after a perfect day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happiness is Black Raspberries

Well, technically, happiness is having wonderful generous neighbors who invite you to come pick black raspberries in their backyard. The kids enjoyed their black raspberry breakfast this morning. Lovely!Because we were curious and people have asked:

What is the difference between black raspberries and blackberries?

The most obvious difference is that a black raspberry is hollow -- the core of the fruit stays on the plant when it is picked, while the core stays in a blackberry. Black raspberry fruit are also smaller, less shiny. and have a bluish waxy coating between the sections of the berry.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hobbit House and Homelessness

I love my house, I love my neighborhood. We are lucky, lucky, lucky to have such sweet neighbors and live next to a park and have a great old house with a great old porch. Still, as I try to downsize and simplify, I can't help but dream of things like this Hobbit House. Our friends Charity and Derek just sold their house (not too far from us which makes us very sad) and are planning on building something on their land about 30 minutes away. I am excited to see what they come up with and hopefully help them. Rob and I toured a yurt house a few years ago which belonged to a family in my local parenting group. It was quite the setup and even had a "basement". I am very interested in "alternative" housing, but I don't know if we could do it. I would have to rent a Hobbit House for a while first.

The boys like to say their aunt is "homeless" and they are right in a way, but not the traditional way people think of homeless people. My sister is a person of many talents and right now she is getting her PhD in Library and Information Science, is a local activist (peace and justice causes mainly), and she house/pet sits for people full-time. She is so busy with her house/pet sitting that she doesn't need to have a place of her own and hasn't for years. If she is in between jobs she can and does stay with us, our dad, or her boyfriend, but that is pretty rare. It is good work if you can get it (as Rob likes to say), but there is a price too. It would be hard to not have a home-base or a place to store your stuff, but this is where the positives come end up not having much stuff. She has a little car which gets great gas mileage and she can pretty much move from place to place with her little truck. There is definitely something to be said for this. She doesn't have to pay rent or a mortgage, she doesn't have to worry about painting the house, repairing the roof, redoing the kitchen. She lives in a small enough town that she still has community while hopping from house to house and being in a college town she ends up in the same houses quite often year after year, sometimes for months at a time. Still, I wonder how she does it. She doesn't have any children...this makes one lighter on their feet and the planet, but I still think it would be tough for me. We stayed at one of her regular houses the other day and took care of the plants and it was nice, but it is still nice to come home and be in our place with our stuff. It is something to think about as we try to get down to what is really important and needed as far as material things is concerned.

Sorry for my ramblings...just working through my stuff.