Friday, February 29, 2008

Sloppy Josie Jos

Okay, really this is Snobby Joes from Veganomicon, but around here they will be Sloppy Josie Jos which is the name Dema gave them since I call the baby Josie Jo all the time in an absolutely annoying "baby talk" voice, but I can't help myself. Whole wheat bun with avocado (the kids eat avocado on everything) and peas on the side, quick and easy and pretty darn tasty. I ran out of maple syrup which I buy locally from a friend and she just took another order so I can't wait for it to come in, but I know these things take time and the trees have to be tapped and the syrup canned, yadda, yadda, yadda, but I want my maple syrup! Anyway, this recipe calls for maple syrup, but I used molasses which adds some iron and it grounded the flavor (that doesn't sound good, but it made the flavor deeper which is nice...just trust me). I used about half the amount of molasses than I would have maple syrup. Next time I would put more onion and green pepper in it and double the recipe so we can have more leftovers. Everyone ate two sandwiches except for Dema because he eats to the beat of a different drummer and he devoured his peas and ate the bun dipped in the sloppy Josie filling on the side. I loooovvveee him. He is so me as a little kid except I wouldn't have touched the peas...I hated peas, but don't tell the kids 'cause I love them now. But, the point is he doesn't want to eat like everyone else and I didn't either so more power to him. He eats a much, much wider variety of foods than I did as a kid, but he does it on his terms.

Who you callin' sloppy?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Josie's First Quinoa

I'm trying to blog about our everyday food more because I enjoy seeing what others are eating on a daily basis. Usually, I will hit a couple vegan blogs before making dinner hoping for some inspiration or sometimes it just gets me in the mood to cook. Okay, really I decided I should take pictures of lunches to cover my butt because Rob comes home from work and there are usually dishes in the sink and now I can prove they aren't the same dishes from dinner. I did actually wash some, but then we just dirty them again.

Lunch Today:
Quinoa Puttanesca
Cheezy Smashed Potatoes
Fried Tofu
Pinto Beans
Apple slices dipped in almond butter (not shown)

Lunch is usually like this...a mishmash of leftovers. I made my usual Puttanesca sauce (except I added some carrots) last night over whole wheat pasta and there was just the right amount of sauce left over to cook up some quinoa and turn it into Quinoa Puttanesca. I had some potatoes waiting to be turned into Potatoes Boats, but I made Dema's "smashed potatoes" instead. Peel potatoes and cube, boil in water for 20 minutes, save cooking liquid (used 2 cups of it to cook the quinoa) to pour in while mashing (Dema loves to use the old fashioned hand "smasher") until desired consistency, add nutritional yeast for "cheezy" flavor, sea salt, and ground pepper (maybe some olive oil or Earth Balance). We don't usually have tofu two days in a row, but I had two packages of tofu in the refrigerator without an expiration date and that always makes me nervous so I decided to use it up (it smelled fine). Today I fried some of the tofu in Bragg's Amino Acids, minced garlic, nutritional yeast, and a tad of canola oil. I also baked half of it for Rob's lunch tomorrow and Dema had some plain (crazy kid). The pinto beans we soaked this weekend and cooked and I've been using them up all week.

This was Josie's first taste of quinoa and she really liked it. She ate a bunch of pinto beans and some potatoes, but the quinoa was her favorite today. The boys liked it all, but I almost lost my appetite since they were going over the things they learned from this year's Insect Fear Film Festival (they go for the displays and to touch the bugs and not so much for the films). Parker asked how spider's eat stinging insects without getting stung and Dema went into a pretty graphic rendition of how the spider could take out the stinger with its mouth...I'll spare you the details.

We had VeganYumYum's Easy Weekend Pancakes for breakfast because I noticed the recipe didn't have sugar or oil which is nice. I made it this morning in a bowl not a blender since I don't find it any easier to make it the night before, but I may have messed things up. I thought they were a funny consistency (almost rubbery), but the kids ate them and said they were good. I didn't get any since I didn't double the recipe. I used almond flavor where the recipe called for 1 tsp of extract and for some crazy reason we have like four containers of almond...see I'm trying to use it up Rob! I think next time we make pancakes I'll go back to the Joy of Vegan Baking recipe we love and maybe add some almond flavor. Off to search for vegan recipes with lots of almond flavoring.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Where Do YOU Get Your Protein?

Okay, I have to blog on this because, well because being veg*n you hear this question over and over through the years. I am always amazed when I hear it because I'm in a sweet little bubble (so Rob likes to think and lately I've realized he is right) of "alternative" thinking people and forget that some people really don't know where they would get their protein if they didn't eat meat.

Well, this is what we ate for lunch:
brown rice with pinto beans and baked tofu (with nutritional yeast in the marinade sauce)
whole wheat pita with chickpea hummus
refried black beans (it was left over filling for the tamales)
gigantes (gigantes beans in a tomato based sauce)
Dema also had a pear and Parker had an apple.

The other issue that comes up is that protein sources for vegans are so expensive (you know the meat analogs like the veggie burgers, etc. you find in the store). Since all the beans in the lunch mentioned above were organic, but dried and bought in bulk the entire lunch probably cost the amount one veggie burger in the store.

We're covered on the protein about you?

It's in the Vault

Maybe it is my farming roots, but seed saving has always been interesting to me. My friends Kit and Emily had a seed business which we would help out with once in a while and it really opened my eyes to these little wonder houses of life which we take for granted. Now the Arctic Seed Vault has seeds in the media. It is an definitely an interesting project.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Parker's 8th Birthday Party

Well we finally had Parker's 8th birthday party. Josie is over the chicken pox so no worries there. It was completely easy-peasy as far as illnesses go. What was difficult was keeping Josie away from people when I was trying to get ready for a birthday party and Rob was working late (some nights until midnight). We had so much planned, but had to let go of some of it. Parker wanted us to make the chocolate raspberry cake we made for his fifth birthday, stuffed grape leaves, black bean tamales, vadas with sambar, scallion pancakes, and mangoes w/sticky rice. There were a couple more things, but you get the idea. It is all about the food and presentation for him. Presents or no presents...fine, but he wants people and he wants a party (decorations and a spread).

Since we put everything off to the last minute (including inviting people...I wanted to make sure Josie was going to be past the contagious time in the pox), Rob and I had to divide and conquer. Rob did all the cooking (50 black bean tamales for starters...what a guy!!) and I did the menu and cleaning the house (not an easy task after all the time the kids have been cooped up in the house this month). I missed doing the cooking or at least cooking with him since we haven't had much time together lately, but it was good since it all came together somehow. It takes a village.

Our friend Kris made this beautiful vegan train cake for my train lover. Dema was in love with it as well. Parker was very impressed, although he thought it would be bigger...don't know how big he was was perfect size if you ask me. I like to bake, but I could never even attempt something this artistic. Kris is very talented and didn't blink an eye about making it vegan. Since we weren't sure how many people we would end up with, I asked her to bring some cupcakes too which were also very pretty.

Our friend Stef made a super cool CD for the kids the other day so music was provided by her. I have to say my life is better having a CD with Mahna Mahna. I drive Rob nuts going around the house singing it now. How can you be in a bad mood with this song. Unfortunately, the din was so loud with 25 children in the house that we really didn't hear much of it.

My dad saved the day by running out and buying some balloons (biodegradable ones...go dad!) and crepe paper for the decorations. Our neighbor Vicky heard Parker was a little disappointed I didn't get a banner made and you just do not say things like that lightly around Vicky because five minutes later she was back with a birthday box with banners and more cool balloons which blow up into different shapes and had stickers to decorate them with...a big hit! See our little friend Sam with one of the heart-shaped balloons. Vicky is one of those people who is completely organized and together (think Martha Stewart, but without the stint in jail so perfect). I feel like a completely lame mom compared to her, but her kids are adults now and she always says I am doing what I should be doing spending time with my kids and not worrying about the other stuff. Her husband Greg took a bunch of pictures at the party and brought them over on a CD for us two minutes after they left. I tell you they are on the ball.

This is Parker's most "mainstream" birthday. He was quite amazed by all the gifts since we tell people not to worry about gifts and he truly means it, but it is nice to get gifts of those balance things. We did the traditional opening of the gifts which I am not sure about. On one hand, some people like to see the recipient open the gifts it also seems sort of like torture for the other children. You know, watch your friend open a cool gift which you can't touch. Parker is very into drawing and all sorts of art and he received the coolest handmade gifts. I was very impressed. He loves the drawings and cards made by his friends. Isabella even made Josie a "get well" card and her sister Ceccily made Dema a card...very sweet! The homemade play dough ("Parker's Party Dough") is already being used. I love that it is okay for Josie too. Kaila made this cute story called Parker and Diego. I like how her "Parker" does kind of look like him and it is a cute story about helping baby jaguar. I am always amazed by the creativity of all these kids.

He also received his first Legos. He plays with my old Legos at my dad's house once in a great while, but we have now entered the world of Legos in our house as well. It is probably about time. His friends Leo and Owen were so cute giving him the ins and outs of Lego-ownership. You know, only open one set at a time so you don't mix up the pieces...I really like that one! Parker said Leo warned him about sharing them with Dema, but he assured me that they will be fine and he has already made Dema a train and a helicopter. I hope Dema doesn't prove him wrong. I can tell the Legos will provide hours of enjoyment.

Parker can't wait to read all the books he received and I can't wait either. We love books! Stuart, my sister's boyfriend, put a note in "Alia's Mission Saving the Books of Iraq" by Mark Alan Stamaty which almost made me cry. Stuart wrote, "To Parker, age 8 May you always know what and whom you love and protect them." I feel for certain Parker will.

Parker is also psyched about using all the art supplies he received. He draws every day for hours a day and is fanatical about keeping all his art stuff nice and neat (not so easy with a little brother). He is in heaven with all the new sketch pad and pencils, etc. He also has a couple gift cards which makes him feel oh so grown up (for some reason cash doesn't do that for him) and he really enjoys going shopping and picking out that something special.

The menu ended up being very simple:
Black Bean Burritos from Vegan Lunchbox (simple, but 50 takes a while to make!)
Artichoke-Sunflower Spread from Vegan Planet (I've had this cookbook forever, but hadn't made this for some reason until a friend made it...thanks, Christie!)
Gigantes (Parker loves gigantes and I will post the recipe called Kuru Fasulye from our friend Susan soon)
Chickpea Hummus (no recipe, Rob just wings it and I add the finishing touches of olive oil, paprika, and kalamata olives)
Fruit Salad
Jerusalem organic whole wheat pita
Bearito tortilla chips
Spelt pretzels
a bunch of organic juice which in itself is a special treat and enough sugar to keep the boys hopped up (Parker went with Rob to pick it out and of course he comes up with the Pomegranate Acai juice...that's my boy!)
and of course the vegan vanilla train cake and vegan chocolate cupcakes

Many of our friends have succumbed to this terrible flu which has C-U in its grasp so we only had 25 kids and 15 or so adults (last year was over 30 kids and 20 adults) and we did not get everyone invited which we wanted to invite (we also sent several email invites which bounced without our notice) and Parker missed them all. He did have a wonderful time and it was deemed his best birthday "so far". Thanks to everyone for coming and making it a very special day! Parker is already helping Dema plan his menu and decorations for his birthday in April.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pox Take Two

Josie has the chicken pox. She doesn't care at this point. She isn't itchy and they seem to be mainly on her back and head. I hope it goes as easy as it did for the boys. Why is it that they couldn't all be sick at the same time? I just scheduled Parker's birthday party for this Sunday so she better be well by then.As you can tell she is very concerned about it.

The Bats and the Bees

First the bees and now the bats. Even if you don't like either one for their own unique attributes as sentient beings (how can people not like bees and bats?), they are amazingly important to crops. Bees in the pollination process and bats in the getting rid of harmful insects process.

Is anyone else out there worried?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Risotto, Lentil Soup, and Pot Stickers

Food, yes, food...I haven't blogged much about food we are eating lately. For the last four days we haven't eaten dinner at home and I didn't think to take pictures at our friends' houses. I should have though because it was yummy! Christie and Jimmy made Jerk Seitan and Coconut Rice from Vegan with a Vengeance along with a great Artichoke dip from Vegan Planet. Ricky and Catharine made two great Indian curries (I need the recipes) and pasta for the kids (Parker surprised us and went for the pasta instead of the curry and ate three plates of it). Joann ordered Chinese which we rarely have so it was a nice change. The boys asked who's house we were going to eat at tonight...I think they could get used to going over to someone else's house every night. We've been spoiled with everyone providing food for us, but we did manage to make lunch this weekend and have my dad over.

Green Pea and Lemon Risotto with Roasted Red Peppers from Veganomicon with steamed kale (I could eat kale everyday). Parker took this picture, he thinks it looks like a face. It was very good, perfect for a light summer meal. I know it is winter, but we'll make this again in the summer. Very lemony. Rob roasted red peppers, but you could also use the jarred ones if you want to skip that step. The red pepper definitely makes the dish so don't leave it out.

French Lentil Soup w/Tarragon and Thyme and Vegan Yum Yum's Pot Stickers, except we were in a hurry and couldn't find the wrappers for pot stickers so we did the same filling, but with spring roll wrappers. We didn't boil them, of course, but they were good enough to disappear at one sitting. Yes, we realize French Lentil Soup and Vegan Pot Stickers are an odd combination, but that is the way it goes sometimes and really pot stickers go with anything. We bought the ingredients several weeks ago for lentil soup because I've been craving the one our dear from Alison made from Bloodroot, but we made the one from Post Punk Kitchen instead and it was a keeper. I still thing the Bloodroot lentil soup is one of the best I've tasted, but it is good to have more than one lentil soup recipe to choose from.

Josie loved the French Lentil Soup...yes, she is eating quite a bit. I tried to go six months without her eating anything (she still nurses, of course, and if she is like the boys will go on nursing for a couple more years), but she just can't be stopped. She gets fussy if we don't give her some of what we are eating. So far her list of foods (cut in non-choking pieces, mashed, or pre-chewed by me): raisins, pumpkin seeds, grapes, rice, potatoes, apples, pears, olives (green and black), hummus (black bean and chickpea), lentil soup, avocado, pomelo, mango, blueberries (dried and frozen), and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I don't have a picture of her eating, but here she is in the adorable bear coat which her friend Oliver gave her (okay Oliver is only a few months older so he had some help from his parents). Josie also ate some applesauce thanks to Oliver since he was so sweet to bring some Trader Joe's Spiced Apple Chunks down from Chicago. Yum!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yet Another Reason to Be Vegan

All day today I've heard about the largest meat recall in American history. The kicker is most of the meat has already been school children according to the reports I heard on NPR. As Rob is fond of saying, yet another reason to be vegan.

To be fair, the safety of our food supply is a great concern...vegan or not. Check out food recalls here.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I was checking out Soy is the New Black and saw her Meat on the Pole entry.

I'm speechless.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

5 Months Old and Everyone Poops

Josie is five months old today! She is doing this inch worm type thing which is the precursor to crawling and oh so cute, but I'd love for her to slow down a bit. Once the real crawling starts, the fun begins and I'm not quite ready for that fun yet. She has taken up teething full time. She has little time for anything else, but still happily gives us kisses (which turns into chewing, but she doe it with love). She also does this cute, but possibly obsessive sucking thing with her lips. I can't do it justice by trying to explain so I will try to get a video of it soon. She laughs so much more now and she is wonderful about ECing, but I am getting lazy so we go through more diapers than I should. She is so intent on listening to people talk and will get upset if we are quiet for too long...she fits right in to a family with two growing boys. She hasn't come down with the Chickenpox...the power of breastmilk?! Or just luck? She is getting a tad harder to take to movies and meetings because she is pretty vocal and if she is awake will probably "chatter" happily. She loves the bath and shower so obviously related to Parker and Dema. At 17lbs she is getting a little too big for Parker to carry her around for long. I'll have to work with him using the baby carriers. He is getting over his hostility when people outside the family hold her. He is so protective. Keep it up Parker, we'll need that when she is a teenager.

So today, I am minding my own business and Dema comes up to me and in his sweet and sour (we have decided that describes his cute and sweet and naughty at the same time) voice says...
"Mom, did I eat poop?"
Coming from any other child, I would have thought it was an interesting question, but coming from Dema he immediately had my attention because, well, because there was that little, tiny, fleeting thought that yes, maybe my second born would try to eat poop.
Me: "Why do you ask?" I said very slowly looking into his big blue eyes, trying not to jump to conclusions.
Dema: "Because I eat and then I how does the poop get into my body if I didn't eat it?" Ah, well, he has a point. It isn't poop when he eats it, but what he eats does turn into poop. I explained the digestive process for a three year old and he walked away much relieved.

Later, Parker turns to me and says: "Mom, if bats hang upside down and guano (bat poop to those of us who didn't know what guano was) comes out...does it get all over the bat? I mean, how does a bat poop when it is upside down?"
Me: "I never really thought of it. I'll try to find out for you." (I looked online, but don't know for sure so I'll have to check with a book at the library.)

One of the many things I love about home schooling is being available all day for questions like these.

There Was Too Much Blood

I was going to venture out to the movies with my friend Christie, but she couldn't make it last minute and my hubby could so we had a rare date night (thanks to my sister for watching the pox boys). I love, love, love Daniel Day Lewis. He is an amazing actor and in my opinion, pretty darn dreamy. I wanted to like this movie and it was okay, but there was a bit too much blood in There Will Be Blood for my taste. I might have to read the book or something. I thought Daniel was superb, as usual and I like the reality of the toll we pay for oil. I don't know what put me off, but maybe I just wasn't in the mood for something quite so depressing.

I saw the ending through the theater doors because I took Josie out for a second. I'm not sure if it was better or worse to see the end without hearing the dialog. It may have tainted my view of the movie somewhat. Obviously, the acting was superb and I'm not saying don't go to the movie, but it was just a little disturbing for me.

Okay, and did anyone else get annoyed by the Lost-like music in the movie? I know now I'm being petty, but it bugged me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Pox on Our House

So for Parker's eighth birthday he got some wooden toys and a handmade pillow:

I started carrying D and Me wooden toys. Parker always gives me advice on what to stock for the store so this time I bought extras of some of his favorites so he could actually play with them. They are made by a small family business and it is like working with my grandparents. They are super sweet. He has the helicopter, tow truck, flatbed truck, and toolbox with tools. Both boys are enjoying the toys and I don't have to worry about Josie teething on them. My sister, Karen, made the Bob the Builder pillow and we stuffed it with rags. It is really cute with all these pockets all over for teeth (for the tooth fairy), toys, etc. Parker adores handmade gifts.

Strawberry Cupcakes:
These cupcakes from The Joy of Vegan Baking turned out more like muffins, but they were really good anyway (how can anything with a bag of frozen strawberries be bad?). Dema took one bite and said "Well done, Mom!" so they were gone quickly. I made them with whole wheat flour and date sugar so they turned out darker than I expected, but were very moist. The butter cream frosting has natural blue food coloring (made from blueberries which turned out pinkish purple, but fitting for strawberry cupcakes). We didn't have a party yet because of his third gift...


I was going to put a picture, but the pox don't show up very well.

Parker took this so wonderfully and so far it is a pretty mild case. He doesn't really itch much and I've been putting anti-viral salve on him so that seems to help. He is a trooper and he is happy to have a party at the end of the month after the pox has passed.

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Eight Years Ago...

Eight years ago today I was having breakfast with Rob at our kitchen island (the house in Savoy which we had just moved into a couple months before...we'd moved to Illinois from Maryland) when I had an odd feeling. I went to the bathroom and came back to let Rob know I was pretty sure my water had broken (yes, for those of you not into birth stories...this is one so go ahead and skip this entry).

We were excited and calm at the same time. We knew first time mom's tend to have long labors so we figured we had some time. We hung around the house and made some phone calls and repacked my bag for the next four hours.

I had wanted a home birth, but we found out at our "last ultrasound" (it turned out to be anything but the last) that our baby had "issues with his heart" by a doctor we had met only seconds before. When I asked if it could be a mistake, he turned the ultrasound monitor toward me and said, "Does this look like a healthy heart to you?" I don't know why I didn't start hating him at that moment, but I did feel like saying back that all the ultrasounds looked like little aliens and I didn't see how anyone could even tell it was a human from the pictures, but I didn't. The couple of months we had lived in Illinois was spent on this emotional roller-coaster ride with finding out this late in my pregnancy that my child would have a heart defect and having my lay-midwife respond with "You never talked to me. You don't know me." when telling her the news and asking if she thought a home birth could still possibly be an option. I had to go for regular "non-stress tests" which are really stressful for everyone involved. I went so often, I was able to hook myself up to the machine and the nurse left me alone.

I was told by our doctor (Mr. DoesThisLookLikeAHealthyHeart) that "they" would prefer I have the baby in Peoria, Illinois (where the pediatric heart surgeons are). He was very supportive of me having a natural labor (good for the baby), but wanted me to come in to the hospital in our town as soon as labor started and then get helicoptered to Peoria (my husband would have to drive in the car). When I told him I didn't think going for a helicopter ride during labor would be my preference, he told me "You'll get a cool t-shirt." He wasn't joking and really seemed to think this would convince me to go along with this plan. I told him I had a relative near Peoria I could stay with. They gave me a date I should go to her house and they wouldn't induce if I was living with her since I'd be close enough to the Peoria hospital for their comfort.

My water broke two days before I was to go live with my mom's cousin. I didn't go into the hospital in our town. I rode in my car with my husband to Peoria (about an hour and half drive). While Rob drove, I slept (with the notebook with contraction timing on my lap) since I was preparing myself for a long labor. We checked into a hotel near the hospital in Peoria to continue laboring there. While I sat in the car breathing through contractions, Rob was inside getting a room and a car hit our car...not hard, but hit us and the driver was going to keep going. I jumped out of the car, holding me contraction notebook in one hand and the other hand on my belly. I yelled at the driver and said what I thought about being in a hit and run and how could he not even stop to see if he had done any damage get the picture. He looked horrified, apologized, and after we both looked at the back of my car to make sure no damage was done, he drove slowly away. I don't think I told Rob about this until after the baby was born.

We went up to the room and we had called my doula and my sister (among other people). My mom's cousin kept calling us to see if we'd checked into the hospital yet...she was very worried. My sister didn't have a cell phone at this time, but still managed to track down what hotel we were in and she showed up after we'd ordered pizza. We ate vegan pizza and watched "Raising Arizona" on the TV until the contractions got serious enough for me to get annoyed that my husband and sister were laughing at "Raising Arizona" while I was sitting there having a baby. Soon after my insisting the TV get turned off, my doula showed up. She took one look at me and said we needed to get things going.

My doula said I was smiling too much to be far enough along (although now that I've had two more children...this is just what I do) and she asked if I'd like help getting things going. I said sure and she did some acupressure stuff with my feet and told me take a shower. While I was in the shower the contractions were strong enough to make me get on my knees or lean against the wall so my doula was happy. I labored for while longer (at this point, we were about twelve hours after my water broke) and my doula said if I really wanted to have the baby in the hospital I should probably go because I wouldn't be up for the two minute ride in the car if I waited much longer.

We were quite the site on the way to the car. During the contractions (which were very close together at this point), I would do this swaying dance thing with my doula and maybe a low moan. People were definitely wondering what was going on. When we got to the hospital it was late enough at night that the first entrance we tried was locked, but we found one and went up to Labor and Delivery. My mom's cousin had called hours before to say we should be on our way and we had called so they were expecting us.

We had preregistered, but that apparently mean nothing because "Sadistic Nurse" wanted me to fill out all this paperwork anyway. I have to admit the chronology of what was said is a little of a blur so I don't know what happened first, but I know that I told "Sadistic Nurse" that I was going to have a natural birth and I remember her laughing and saying extremely unsupportive things. She put a pen in my face during a particularly strong contraction when I asked for her to please wait a second until I was done with it. I took the pen from her claw...I mean hand and as she was saying all this stuff about signing a waiver...blah, blah, blah...more noise and looks from her so I threw the pen...possibly in her general direction. Okay, I might have thrown the pen at "Sadistic Nurse", but I don't think it hit her and she sort of deserved it or should have known better...let us just move on.

At some point, someone asked if I had eaten anything and about that time I went through transition and threw up all the vegan pizza from the hotel into the trash. Rob and/or my doula said something like "Well, it doesn't matter now since it is all out of her stomach now." Even though it was a very tidy may to puke my guts out, I still apologized and my doula and/or Rob handled it all. My sister was there for most of this and although she doesn't have any children, she has seen many dogs give birth (she used to work where they bred guide dogs for the blind). I never asked her how Parker's birth compared. It felt like there were quite a few people watching (I sort of remember "Nice Quiet Out of My Way Nurse" sitting in a chair just watching it all. I didn't care who was there. I was in my "zone" and in my own nightgown. This was really important to me. I love this is warm and snuggly and "they" (mainly Sadist Nurse) didn't want me to wear it, but my doula fought that battle for me and I'm grateful. Don't ask me why, but I am happy I have never had to birth in a hospital gown.

They did hook me up to some monitors which were just dangling since I was not in the bed most of the two hours I labored in the hospital. I was kind of all was a nice big room. I don't remember if we ever played the music I brought. The nurses (all nice by this time) said they would like to check to see how far along I was and were surprised to see the head. My doula suggested I feel the head while the nurse ran out of the room for the on-call OB.

I have to say feeling the head of my first baby for the first time was the most amazing feeling and I couldn't help buy smile (I may have even laughed). I still remember the wet hair and the head. It was like the moment when it really came home to me that I had a life, another life. I know I should have probably come to that realization in the previous nine months, but here it was...well, almost...I had to push and this is really the only regret I have. My doula suggested I push on my side and in my birth plan I had said I wanted to swat, but in the hospital the doctors like to be able to see what is going on...even if they aren't doing anything.

Parker came out with his hand balled up in a fist next to his head. Very cute, but this made his head a fist size bigger and it was my first and...well, I tore a bit. Knowing what I know now...well, it doesn't matter because what is done is done. After a very quiet 14 hours, I let out a little yelp when I tore and that was that because then I had my beautiful baby boy in my arms.

Of course, this is when all hell breaks loose when you have a child with a congenital "defect". His apgar was great, but they had to all look him over and they had warned me that I may not get to hold him at all, but I think I had a good 10 or 15 minutes before they had to take him to NICU. It seemed so crazy since Parker was so perfect looking. Not blue, no troubles breathing, nothing. They bent the rules and let Rob carry him to the NICU (a floor or two away). I was heartbroken to have Parker leave me, but at least Rob was with him.

I then had to push out the placenta and I remembered thinking...what? Now I have to push something else out? I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but I didn't...I have issues with the placenta as my birth story with Dema and Josie confirm. They said I had x number of minutes to push it out or I'd get pitocin...not gonna I did the placenta and they gave me a shot to sew (two stitches). The first shot didn't take and I shouldn't have said anything because the shot hurt more than the stitch, but whatever. I should have refused to be stitched at all, but all I could think about was Parker.

They got me settled into a room and the staff was so sweet at this point. One of the nurses said she was very impressed with my labor and she thought it was amazing. She brought me a fruit plate at midnight...I don't know her name or remember what she looked like, but I love her. The OB came up to my room to tell me how he was so touched by the delivery that he was going to have midwife in his practice and suggest every woman have a doula. He had never seen a natural labor before. Never. Several of the nurses said the same. This is why I had a hospital birth. It was all worth it for this. Even "Saddist Nurse" had softened. My sister stayed in the hotel room we'd rented since it was already paid for and she was doula turned down our offer for her to stay there too. I believe Karen told the hotel staff that I'd labored there...she couldn't help herself.

Rob and I never left Parker's side once they let me go to NICU (which seemed like forever, but it was about an hour after he was born). The nurses left me notes in my room to say I should check in with them at some point (they had blood pressure numbers to take or something like that). After a couple days of observation they decided Parker could nurse (I had pumped and another wonderful NICU nurse...most of them were great!...helped me get the hang of pumping and then nursing) since prior to that they were worried it would be too much stress on his heart. He didn't need immediate surgery and I fell in love with the pediatric cardiologist (he was young and married with kids of his own, but even my doula that he was dreamy). Rob was fine with my is hard not to be in love with someone who seemed to care so deeply for my new son and who had all this information we waited with baited breath to hear every day. He was also cute, had the softest hands, and did I mention he had my son's life in those soft hands...he moved so I can go on like this.

NICU was an eye-opening experience. We were amazed at how little we saw other parents. Most of the other babies were preemies and some were there for a long time and it is understandable that parents with other children and jobs (a NICU stay is not cheap) could not be by their child's side every second. We were lucky to be able to be there with him all the time. Sometimes I would fall asleep with Parker sucking my finger. My mom's cousin was so supportive and it was nice to have her so close. Her daughter brought us vegan Thai food (since the cardiologists told us we wouldn't be able to find anything vegan...other than some the cafeteria). We had other friends who brought us a care package of vegan snacks. The few pictures taken at Parker's birth were ruined (35 mm, not digital) when we had an issue with not rewinding the film or something....sad, very sad for me. When we took Parker home, we regretted the lack of sleep since there was snow on the ground and we really hadn't slept much, but we made it.

Now, it is eight years later and Parker is this amazing person. He is one of the sweetest, most empathic people I know and I am lucky to have him in my life. He had open heart surgery at 2 1/2 years old and may need more surgery in the future. He has regular check-ups with his pediatric cardiologist (still a great guy, but more of a grandfather type). We've been told our vegan lifestyle should be a great help to his heart and that we have no more chance for having another child with a heart defect than anyone else. The surgeon said he wanted us to forget that Parker has a heart defect when his back is to us (when we can't see the scar) and for the most part we do. Parker is a very strong person and he has never been on any meds or shown any symptoms because of his heart. Some day I will give the story of his surgery. Rob and I agree his birth in the hospital prepared us for dealing with his surgery. It is funny how things work out.

I love you Parker, happy birthday!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hot Ice and Wondrous Strange Snow

I love thunderstorms in the winter. The lightning and the snow make a combination which makes me look at nature with renewed awe and amazement. The snow from this weekend is quickly becoming slush and the entire day was so foggy it was hard to see across the street. Mother Nature is so mysterious and wondrous.

The sound of my children sleeping, the deep methodical breaths, blends so perfect with the raindrops hitting the house. As a child, I hated thunderstorms, but I have grown to like them (having a basement helps, I have to admit). I don't want to pass my fear of storms on to my children, but I do want them to understand the power of them. Rob's grandfather...his father's dad...was killed by lightning before Rob's dad was born. This story has always saddened and strangely fascinated me since I've never know anyone hurt by lightning before.

Safe inside the house, I find the winter storm poetic and comforting.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

If We Tell Our Friends and They Tell Theirs...

Parker: I am going to tell all my friends about Antarctica melting. Then if they tell their friends and their friends tell more friends then maybe, just maybe the entire world will know.
Me: Then what?
Parker: Then everyone will use less energy and the ocean won't rise twenty feet.
Me: Well, I don't think you need to worry so much about it.
Parker: I'm not worried, I'm sure everyone will listen to me and tell their friends.
Parker: If it does happen, I hope I'm already dead.
Sound of my heart breaking.

Saturday Sledding

The boys (including Rob) couldn't wait to hit the hill (as in one since we live in east central Illinois...prairie people) with their new sleds they received at Christmas. It was a beautiful sunny day and not too windy so I decided to join them with Josie and take pictures.

This is the same hill I went sledding on when I was a kid. It has eroded over the many years, I'm sure, but it still was plenty fun for the guys. They could have stayed all day, but hunger hit. They were back outside after lunch building snow people in the park. More power to them.

Josie is game for anything as long as she is snuggled up in the babywearing coat. She had a wonderful time watching all the kids sled, run, laugh, yell...she is so happy taking it all in. Our friends Jules and Zach with their two boys were also at the hill so I had someone to chat with and discuss how dangerous sledding can be. As the hill filled up with people, we saw more and more kids get wiped out by other sledders (sometimes adults!!). I don't think anyone ended up bloody or hospitalized while we were there, but not for lack of trying.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Snow Day!

Parker spent most of the snowy day today outside. Who's child is he? He loves to shovel the snow and was very disappointed no one wanted to play outside. Dema wanted to play outside, but he doesn't like to dress for the weather so his time was short-lived (just long enough to track a bunch of snow into the house). I just wanted to snuggle up with Josie, drink tea and maybe read a book. That is what cold snowy weather is for! I made some hemp hot cocoa which was so much better for us that the last hot cocoa and just as yummy. Vanilla hemp milk and Chocolate Nutiva® HempShake™. We used bananas for marshmallows again...excellent!

Parker was so happy that his friends didn't have school today, but then everyone wanted to play inside. He finally talked Leo and Owen into shoveling outside with him...they are so sweet!