Monday, April 28, 2008

Amazing Women

I am so far behind on my blogging (I need to finish Dema's birthday post, birthday party post, I have food I should share, etc.), but I will put it off a while longer to start an amazing women series because I just know so many amazing women and I feel the need to celebrate how fortunate I am to know them.I will start with Kris because she made the wonderful vegan firetruck cake for Dema's 4th birthday this weekend which I promise to post about soon (and for Parker's 8th birthday party earlier this year). There are many, many things which make Kris amazing in my book and starting with the cakes is a good place since they have brought such joy to our parties this year. She is a wonderful baked goods artist, but the fact that she does this while being a great mom to two small adorable boys and takes care of a friend's baby daughter a few times a week all while her husband works crazy hours at his job, and I could just go on and on, makes her creations even that much more amazing. She always seems so together and calm and always has some fresh fruits or veggies as snacks and is happy to share with my begging children. She is very talented, sweet, and giving and I am always inspired by her!Here is Kris and her two kids (one in the Mei Tai Baby on the back and holding the older one on the front). If you want to enjoy one of her creations at your next get together, let me know and I'll give you her contact info.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Big Brother

Parker to Dema after Dema slyly took Parker's "special art tools" and hid them in a secret place (he said this very quietly, almost sweetly as he carefully reclaimed his things and placed them on his desk): "Even when I'm not watching, I'll be watching."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Biofuels Everywhere, but Not a Drop to Eat

I try not to get too preachy on this blog (really and truly I do), but I was listening to one of my favorite local talk shows this morning while preparing for Dema's birthday party and Carl and his guest (an old high school friend of mine) Eric (the show's Research Director) were discussing biofuels, the environment, global food issues, etc. and I found myself talking to the radio which is very unproductive and makes my family look at me funny. So I dropped what I was supposed to be doing and now you all get to read this...

People are all up in arms about biofuels and how dare we burn in energy something we could eat. I am not disagreeing, but people fail to see quite often the original inefficient, unsustainable waste of edible food crops in the form of meat. Before we shake our fingers at the biofuel vehicles, maybe take a step back and see how eating more plant based foods would benefit the planet. For those living in Illinois, look around at all the corn and soybean fields and you are not looking at corn on the table or tempeh in the tummy, you are looking at "feed" for animals which are fattened up to slaughter for humans to eat. Let us deal with this issue and not be so quick to point the finger at biofuels and maybe take a look again at our own backyard and see some of the local research going into the use of miscanthus and other plants, which are not food crops and grow without the use of chemicals, which can be used for energy. I'm not saying there is only one answer to the environmental issues we are facing or that there aren't real issues with some of the "alternative" fuels out there, but I find it ironic when people get so upset about the biofuels while continuing to eat their steaks. I believe eating a predominately plant-based diet is one of the easier and healthier steps each of us can make on a personal level which doesn't take any new technology, new laws, etc. But, Linda, I already eat a plant-based diet and I want to do more for the environment. Sure, ya do! I'm with you, I don't think helping the environment stops with our fork, but I think it is an important part of the puzzle which is often overlooked.

End of lecture and I will get back to making vegan pound cake.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


We are enjoying the weather too much to spend time on the computer doing anything I don't have to be be doing, but I promise to get some blogging done when it rains. We are even eating outside on the porch most meals since coming inside is harder and harder for the kids as the days get longer. We must enjoy the weather every second. If you want to go for a walk, meet at a park, or do anything else fun outside, let us know.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Free Rice

Since I was awake due to the earthquake (I swear there was one), I checked my email and my friend Jenny sent a message about this cool vocab site. Don't use the dictionary on your computer, it would take all the fun out of it! I was pretty impressed with how many I got right at 5:00am with only about an hour sleep tonight (stayed up late talking to my friend Alicia and then chatting with Rob). When the kids wake up, I'll have to spend time on the FreeRice site with them.


So locals, did anyone else feel an earthquake around 4:40am today? Very freaky. Tell me we didn't imagine this.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Okay, you have to hop on over to local blogger Little Blog on the Prairie and check out Manishewitzville (since I'm not Jewish I don't feel like I can post it here and I'm typing with one hand while nursing so I'm not sure I could accomplish it). Take note, since this is a vegan blog that near the end there is a picture of a Vegan Haggadah.

Happy Passover!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

4 Years Ago Today...

I had probably the most peaceful and intense three hours of my life. It is hard to explain how an event can be both intense and peaceful. I went to bed the night before thinking, I hope I don't go into labor tonight because I ate entirely too much of Rob's stir fry (tofu, seitan, broccoli, brown rice, etc. It was really good!). I was about 10 days before my official due date, but as my body likes to do things all three of my children have been born about 10 days prior to the date the silly wheels say I am due. I sat straight up in bed thinking something was happening at around 3am and immediately my water broke. I didn't want to wake Rob, but we did have the blow up pool to fill with water...I woke him up, but Parker stayed asleep. This is me in labor and my last picture pregnant with Dema.

I wanted an "unassisted" birth, but Rob was not sure about this so we had the lay midwives we used for prenatal appointments "on call". Rob called them to let them know I was in labor, but they didn't need to hurry. They live a couple hours away, but I really didn't want them at the house until I needed them. I was walking around the house and getting things ready and breathing through contractions...sometimes needing to hold the railing of our stairs, but it was fine. Then soon after I felt the need to throw up and went to the bathroom, but luckily did not throw up. This did not happen until transition during Parker's birth so I had the first inclination that this birth might be a tad quicker. I decided to call my friend J who doesn't have any children, but was interested in being at the birth. We had discussed it before and she said she wasn't sure if she would come or not and to let her know when I went into labor. I knew it was very early in the morning, but I wanted her to have the option of coming. I left a message on her answering machine which she later said I sounded so calm that it was like I was calling to ask her to tea. Rob called the midwives and told them we felt like it wasn't going to be a long labor so they could start out if they liked.

Once the pool was filled, I spent the rest of the time in the pool and it was beautiful. There was a window open with a nice breeze coming in at just the right moments. I thought a lot about my mom and really felt she was with me. Rob made some "recovery drink" which he used for cycling training rides. I got into a groove since the contractions were pretty much one after another of contraction, sip of recovery drink, contraction, sip of water. I wanted to stay hydrated and since the contractions were very intense I wanted to make sure I paced myself in case it was not a quick labor.

When my friend arrived, Rob was noticeably relieved. He was happy to have a woman in the house, even a woman who didn't know anything about birth. She is a wonderful, caring and naturally knew just knew exactly what to do. It was very peaceful and quiet when she let herself in and came upstairs. She just observed for a second (most of the labor I spent quietly with my eyes closed, on my knees in the pool, hanging over the side with my face to the open window) and whispered a question to Rob. I answered and we laughed because she was being so sweet to try not to disturb me. We chatted a little and she instinctively asked Rob to get some cold water and wash cloth. He was happy to have someone tell him what to do since after Parker's labor I had told him that the sound of his voice really annoyed me during labor so this time he was very quiet. He was wonderful and I feel for men and their role in the birthing process. The water in the pool was very hot (at one point, Rob boiled some water on the stove and poured it in the pool since our hot water heater wasn't up to the job) which was perfect with the cold water on my face. Peaceful and perfect.

As the birds were waking up and chirping, I felt the urge to start pushing. Soon after, another friend arrived who had actually been to many births and lived close by. She came in and I talked to her for a second and said that I could feel the head. She asked how many knuckles, meaning how many far in a finger would be to feel the head. I laughed and said, no the head is coming out. She was very surprised and quickly called the midwives to see where they were.

I pushed Dema's head out into my hands and I have to recommend this to any birthing mom. There is just something so magical and perfect about catching your own baby. It helps with knowing how hard to push and lets you have feedback which you don't have when a doctor, midwife, or partner catches the baby. It was perfect and beautiful. The cord was wrapped a couple times around Dema's neck so Rob helped me get into a position to bring him out of the water and unwrap the cord without pulling on it. Dema nursed very soon after being born and Parker came into the pool with us (he was sleeping naked and Rob brought him in as soon as he could). Parker was so happy to have a little brother. The midwives got to the house and we chatted for almost two hours with me still in the pool and no placenta coming out.

I decided to get out of the pool and they suggested I go to the bathroom to move the placenta along, but it didn't work. They said they had herbs to help it along, but I wouldn't probably like them so I tried one more time to push in the bathroom and the placenta came out onto the white ceramic tile floor. It was really the only mess of the whole birth. There was little to no blood when Dema was born. Four year old Parker was prepared for the birth by reading "A Child is Born" and he was a little afraid of the picture of the placenta so I wasn't sure how he would take it since I wanted him to cut the cord. He was fine and one of the midwives explained the placenta and where the baby had been to him and he was fascinated. He cut the cord like a champ after the midwife clamped it.

My friend Monique came over with fresh fruit I had requested (I always like fresh fruit after giving birth) and her son who is about 10 months younger than Parker. The boys had a great time looking at the baby and running around. The midwives cleaned up the pool and left us to our new baby and everyone else left except for my friend J. We sat around eating fruit and chatting for a while. It was now mid-morning and I knew I wasn't going to sleep or anything. We have a little time to ourselves and then we had my dad, my sister, our friend Todd, and it seemed like a pretty steady stream of people there that afternoon....including a washer repair man who J called to take care of our washer (she is amazing!) since we would have towels and cloth diapers and all that to wash and it had just broken down. Our neighbor Joann did the laundry for us in her machine until ours was fixed.

Things didn't calm down until after dark that evening when I was alone with Dema (not yet named at this point...we took a few days to come up with Demetrius Sebastian) and rocking in the glider in our family room, nursing him (my milk was already in). He was such a great, happy, peaceful baby just like his birth.

He has always been a wonderful sleeper and no matter how traumatic his day has been, he seems to have a clear conscious and can sleep the sleep of inner peace.

Now I'm not sure peaceful is how most people would describe him these days. He is definitely intense and very loving. He is fierce and the kind of guy you would want on your side during a bar brawl (not that really happens much to little boy), but you get the picture. He loves his siblings very much and he will come to their aid no matter what.

Dema is four years old and he is this amazingly gregarious little risk seeker. He feels comfortable talking with anyone and everyone and especially likes meeting new people and talking on the phone. He is charming and tough at the same time. When he was born, I was worried that I might actually love someone more than Parker which I had not thought was possible. Now I realize you don't love one child more, but possibly in different ways. They are very different people. Maybe it is fitting that Dema is intense since the three hours of labor were certainly that way. I love him so much and he drives me insanely crazy at the same time. He makes me realize all the stuff in my own personality which I still need to work on. He is like a little dose of therapy in a cute little blue-eyed package. I am so lucky to have him in my life.

We had a very nice day today. Dema picked his favorite restaurant, Thara Thai because the food is good and the owners spoil him something awful. We took Rob with us for a birthday lunch. The dish is the Pad Lard Nar ala Parker. The owner noticed back when we first started going there that Parker would eat all the carrots, broccoli, potatoes, and tofu out of my dish. She came up with the special Pad Lard Nar with extra of all his favorite veggies and no fish sauce, of course. Then Dema would eat off of my plate as a baby and she was very much impressed we were starting our baby off with Thai food as one of his first solids. Now special Pad Lard Nar is Dema's dish and Parker has moved on to hotter things like yellow curry. The owner also can't help but give the boys some mango and other treats every time we go.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Linda, Linda, Fo Finda - Name Meme and Vegan Planet Janet

I loaned out Veganomicon so I'm giving some attention to my other loyal cookbooks which just sit there collecting dust these days. (I walk past the shelves and I hear a little collective sigh when I keep on walking.) They are all perfectly fine cookbooks with wonderful recipes hidden within, but I like to mix it up and make new things so I tend to give attention to the cookbook of the moment. Sad, but true. The boys are with me on my quest for newness and sometimes will say "Mom, you ALREADY made this!" when I repeat even their favorite meal. Rob, on the other-hand, would probably prefer I stick with a handful of favorites, but he married me for better or worse (actually neither of these words were uttered at our wedding...I'll have to post sometime about what we DID say). This weekend I decided to favor Vegan Planet. (Planet and Janet rhyme! Sorry, Dema is rubbing off one me.)

Food, yes, that is where I was going...

Indonesian Inspired Tempeh Stew (olive oil, tempeh, shallots, garlic, I subbed red pepper flakes for the fresh hot chile, fresh ginger, sweet potato, water, crushed tomatoes, tamari, coconut milk, fresh ground black pepper and I totally forgot the fresh cilantro and lime zest, but it worked fine without it). I decided to serve this over quinoa and added the rest of the can of coconut milk to the quinoa as it cooked which made this dish even better...I will totally make this again. Tofu Vindaloo (garlic, fresh ginger, cardamom, coriander, cumin, dry mustard, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric, olive oil, tofu, fresh ground pepper, onion, carrot, red bell pepper, diced tomatoes, green peas, water). I severed this over brown rice since I didn't have brown basmati rice. A little whole wheat naan bread on the side. This dish was also good and they were nice together. I could have gone for some leafy greens though.
I also made Anasazi Chili with Quinoa this weekend which was very good, but alas no picture. All three were from Vegan Planet.

Here is what you all were really waiting for...

Tagged by Cynthia for the Name Meme:

1. What is your name: Linda
2. A 4 letter word: late
3. A vehicle: Lemond (my favorite road bike, a hand-me-down from Rob's friend who owns a bike shop)
4. A city: LaPorte (Indiana)
5. A boy’s name: Lawrence (not that I would probably name a child this for whatever reason)
6. A girl’s name: Lavender (after reading this Rob will probably not be up for having another girl)
7. Beverage: lemonade (with was St. Martin and you do silly things on islands)
8. An occupation: lawyer (in honor of our friend Todd who is becoming one and Betsy who is one)
9. Something you wear: lipstick (or lanyard)
10. A celebrity: Lucy Lu (not even sure exactly who she is, but I like the way it sounds)
11. A food: lasagna (vegan, of course!)
12. Something found in a bathroom: lid (toilet lid which should always be down thank you very much)
13. Reason for being late: limping
14. Something you shout: Look! or Look out!
15: An animal: lemur
16. A body part: lobe (as in earlobe...cheating?)
17. Word(s) to describe yourself: lucky (likeable? loopy?)

I'll tag Four is Crazy since she claims to never get tagged in a really whiny, self-pitying sort of way. (Just jokin' A!)

Friday, April 11, 2008

One and None Rhyme

Or how to drive your almost four year old little boy crazy without even trying. We've had a crazy mostly fun day full of things to do mostly kid-friendly. Then I receive a big game shipment for the business that I've been expecting from Canada. Dema ADORES the co-operative games....LOVES them in a way I didn't think was possible. He helps me unpack the box and he is used to most of the things coming into our house not belonging to him. I usually just tell the kids it is for Tribal Life and they leave it alone or help me organize, but don't beg for things. This game shipment was just too much for little Dema. He stacks them all neatly and goes through each one and says he wants them all. I say he can pick one out and maybe he might get it for his birthday which is in a few days. I don't think much of it until I notice him carrying one of the stacks of games up the stairs saying he has picked one out. I said something along the lines of "one means one and if you can't find just one then it will be none". He instinctively says in his cute happy little voice "one and none rhyme!" and then immediately falls to complete pieces at the utter cruelty of my statement. Poor guy was just a tad over "done" today. (Rob used to say when Parker was little "put a fork in him, he's done" when we could tell Parker was nearing the end of what he could take as far as stimulation or time awake, etc.)

Dema and I had some one on one (Josie was there, but in the Hotsling sleeping so it didn't count) time today while Parker had his art class at our local nature center. Dema was enjoying the boardwalk path through the trees when a little Toto (not the technically name nor the dog's actual name) dog came out of no where and joined him. I figured someone who was taking care of the dog was on the path as well, but the farther we went the more it seemed the dog did not have a human companion. Dema and the dog ran into one of the nature center staff and she picked up the dog and went off to find its human after getting the entire story plus a very long story about what he imagined the dog was doing there from Dema. At this point, I looked across the street through the trees and we were right at the entrance for the cemetery my mom is buried at so I decided we'd take a detour. Dema is obsessed with death so he had a million and one questions on the way to the grave...almost to the point that I thought it might have been a bad idea, but it was all fine. We had a good talk about death and all sorts of different things and of course my mother which is a hard topic for him because he never met her and it really annoys him that life happened prior to his being born. It was nice to be with just Dema and I must plan more time with him without Parker around. I am the youngest and while I always wanted to be with my older brother/sister, it was nice not to be in their shadow all the time as well.

Parker had a wonderful time at art class, as usual and he is learning about water colors. Rob took Parker to our favorite local art store (The Art Coop on Green St. for you locals) last night and they had a marvelous time picking out are supplies. I swear Parker has something in him right now. Even when we go to Home Depot type places, he is drawn to the paints and home decor sections. Rob bought Parker his first drawing compass and already he has drawn some pretty cool things (I'll take a picture of the monster truck when he is done with it).

We went to Y Thai (Parker insisted since he didn't get a chance to go my mom's grave that we had to go have some vegan Pad Thai in her honor) and the construction on campus is insane! Josie has continued the tradition of loving the spicy pad thai with seitan and tofu to the amazement of the staff (all of your kids actually eat it?!). We had a really nice time and chatted with the owner for so long I was sure I would get a ticket. Josie sat there hanging on every word of our conversation and I found out that the owner was at our friend Jenny's wedding so it reminded me yet again what a small, small, small town we live in. After lunch, we went to my friend Katie's house to check out her moving sale. She has a home business too and the kids love to shop there. It was crazy, but fun and we bought a HABA container to put on Parker's desk to house his drawing compass, ruler, pencils, etc. I swear this kid is the biggest joy from the neat and sweet point of view.

Oh and I didn't mean to put this tag by Katherine off, but most of the books surrounding me these days are cookbooks or less than 123 pages, what has my world come to? Well here we are the closest book...

page 123, three sentences after the fifth sentence:

A horrible stink rose to his nostrils, washing over him like the dirty water in his dream just now. Outside the mouth of the cave, the leaves of the thornbush went limp and drooped. The dragon sat up, uneasily.

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke which was given to Parker by Sammy and Izzy on his birthday and we enjoyed reading all 523 pages out loud. We plan on checking out more of her work at the library next week. I am reading Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych, but I don't think it has 123 pages. My sister just loaned us her copy so I'm not far into it yet.

My Keyboard Sticks

I just want to say that my keyboard is sticky and my mind has been sticky as well so it makes for posts which are full of grammatical errors, typos, and lost words. I am sorry, but it will probably continue because I'm not sure how to fix my keyboard and my brain will not be back to normal for a few more years (unless we have another child and then all bets are off). It doesn't help that I've been trying to only use the computer when the kids are sleeping or not around so I don't model that life is sitting in front of a screen all day (wait, I know Rob makes his living doing that, but really that is not what life is all about).

Anyway, I will try to get better, but Rob noticed some things in my last few posts which make me shudder and I swear (which actually makes things worse) that I read through them before posting.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Can This Recipe Be Veganized? - Turkish Baked Noodles

One of my favorite magazines (back when I received magazines, now I catch it online or once in a while at the bookstore) Natural Home has these "Can This Home Be Greened" articles which I secretly dream will feature our house some time, but I never lift a finger for that to actually happen so it won't, except in my dreams. Anyway, I was reading a post on a local parenting email list with this recipe and thought, I bet I could veganize that! So, I will have a somewhat regular CTRBV post and if you have a recipe you would like me to try to veganize, let me know because it is more fun than I should admit.

Can This Recipe Be Veganized?

So here is my friend Susan's recipe...

Turkish Baked Noodles:

2 cups macaroni
2 eggs
Milk, a little less than 1 cup
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (Turkish white or feta is best)
1/2 cup sliced black olives (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp butter or 1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch parsley or dill
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup or more grated cheese (cheddar, Swiss, etc.)

1. Cook macaroni until done and rinse
2. Mix eggs and milk in a bowl and add feta, olives, oil, parsley, thyme, and pepper
3. Add macaroni to this mix and put them in a casserole
4. Put the grated cheese on top
5. Bake macaroni in preheated oven (375°F) until top is crisp and golden, and cheese melts

It's also fine to add any other spices you like or a few vegies.

Here is my recipe...

Veganized Turkish Baked Noodles:

3/4 12oz. bag of whole wheat pasta or roughly 3 cups since I thought 2 cups wasn't enough (I used Bella Terra Cavatappi pasta which works very well and fun to say and Bella Terra brand was on sale at Strawberry Fields an is my second fave whole wheat pasta)
3 ground flax seed "eggs"
a little over a cup soy milk
1 1/2 cups vegan feta (I used the recipe from The Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak, but the link takes you to a similar recipe)
a little over 1/2 cup sliced black olives (I used Kalamata, but you could use any)
1 1/2 tablespoons Earth Balance
I didn't have any fresh dill/parsley so I put in about 1 tsp of each dried heaping 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
heaping 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Grated FYH vegan cheese to lightly cover (I had a little of the cheddar style leftover from tempeh reubens which was one of the reasons I decided to try to veganize this recipe)
Sprinkle "Garlic Bread Topping" over all of it (optional...this is something I made up for our pasta dishes which has become addictive, but it also adds some nutrition so check it out)

1. Make the vegan feta** in the morning or the day before since it needs to marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator. It is fun and easy to make so don't sweat it.
2. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cook your pasta per package instructions and set it aside (you can do step 3 while you are waiting for it to cook).
3. Make the flax "eggs" and let them sit. Mix everything else (except the toppings and pasta) in a bowl with a whisk or fork then add the flax mixture and mix some more.
4. Add pasta to the mix and pour it in a 9 by 7 casserole (I oiled mine a tad, but I think you're fine either way)
5. Lightly cover with your favorite vegan cheese and/or Garlic Bread Topping.
6. Cook for 30 minutes or until "cheese" has "melted" (you could broil for a couple seconds if your vegan cheese doesn't melt, but not if you you've put the Garlic Bread Topping will probably burn)

**A word about vegan feta, I don't remember at all what regular feta tastes like and I don't remember ever making the vegan version before either, but this version was quite good. I used Wild Wood extra firm because it has become my new favorite and I find I can "cheat" and not press it in most recipes with good results. If I had an internet connection at the time I was making this, I might have tried this quicker recipe for vegan feta.

Did it work??????
YES!!! Oh yes! Yummy, not the healthiest stuff in the world, but it was good and since we were going down the path, I went ALL the way. I could have sworn I saw a post on Vegan Dad about onions, peppers, and vegan sausage, but my internet was down while I was cooking so I winged it and now I can't find the post for the life of me so I guess it was another blog or I dreamed it. Either way, it was also quite yummy and similar to this recipe, but I added Italian seasoning and some olive oil and used Tofurky Beer Brats. Dema asked for peas and carrots (someone had to keep me on the up and up for the healthy side of things) so I served peas and carrots on the side, but they would have been great mixed into the dish.

Was it good enough for me to take some to Susan and have her try it? I don't know and it is all gone, but I would definitely make it for omnis.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Seven Months Old

Josie is seven months old today! I always think of seven being Josie's special number. She was born on September (which of course is our ninth month, but it was the seventh month in the Roman calendar and comes from the Latin word for seven) 7 of 2007. I know, I'm crazy, but for this reason, her seventh month seems special to me.
We took the bus to the library and boys checked out the book, Josie to the Rescue by Marilyn Singer in honor of her seven month-aversary. It is a cute book and the boys thought it was so much fun to have a book about "Josie". We walked around downtown Urbana for a while enjoying the weather and decided to eat a late lunch on our porch when we arrived home. Josie helped the boys eat their avocado sandwiches and zippy kale and tofu and watched the people and cars go by.
Josie still doesn't have any teeth yet, but she eats pretty much everything. I cook with her on my back in a carrier and most of the time she wants me to feed her some of what I'm cooking the entire time. She seems to like any food, bland or spicy, any texture. She still nurses a ton, of course, but she loves food as well. She couldn't get enough of the Curried Lentils with Carrots and Peas the other day.
Josie loves to be outside and would pretty much live outside if we could. She has fun swinging at the park. Dema is still trying to learn how fast he can push her in the swing, but he is pretty good most of the time. She adores the boys more and more and nothing makes her smile like they do. She is a very smiley baby. The photos don't always reflect that because she is still weirded out by the flash and the red eye thing on the camera. She'll smile and then look very concerned when she sees the lights on the camera. She smiles to everyone and it is contagious. A couple months ago I was at a park with Josie on my lap facing the other way. I noticed two men looking at me and smiling really big and I was wondering "Do I know them?" and they kept smiling and then waved a little and I was surprised, I mean we were all there with our kids and they seemed to be flirting, what the heck? I went over to say "hi" to the guys just in case they did know me and realized at that point they had been "flirting" with Josie, not me. Duh! I was sort of creeped out until then. I don't remember the boys being this smiley at strangers.I had a meeting to get to tonight and Rob arrived home late from work so I thought I'd stay with the theme and whip up some Sloppy Josie Jos on sprouted wheat buns. I added diced carrots to the sloppy jos this time, but we didn't have any avocado left and I think avocado just makes these. I decided to try the Cashew "Cheese" Sauce from the Saucy Vegetarian by Joanne Stepaniak for the whole wheat pasta. Rob prefers the Esme Sauce, but I thought it was a nice mild flavor and Parker ate three helpings. I meant to make some steamed broccoli, but forgot until it was too late and I had to eat and run.This picture is from a couple days ago. Parker said she looked like a "farmer" and I have to agree she did kinda look like my Granpa John. Most days she looks like a combination of Rob and my mother which is strange if you say it like that, but works well for her. She is pretty laid back and happy, but will escalate and let you know when she needs something or isn't thrilled about a situation. She adores Rob and I love to see her hug him while he holds her. She is definitely a "sucker" baby as Rob calls them...a baby which suckers you into having another baby. I'm super happy with three, but I don't have that feeling people talk about when they know they are "done" having children. I'm not there yet.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Everything is Coming Up Coconuts and Spring is in the Air

The weather was finally springy this weekend so we were outside every chance we got and I hope you were too. I've been cooking, but I always seem to forget to take a picture until we've already eaten. Here are a couple pics of food and fun from this weekend where coconut seems to be the theme.

Breakfast Saturday was Coconut Pancakes with Pineapple Sauce from Vegan with a Vengeance which I picked because I'm not so patiently waiting for the maple syrup we order every year from a friend to come in. These pancakes were so good, I would make them even when I had maple syrup. Dema ate a bunch eve without the topping. I think it would have been great with just crushed pineapples without the arrowroot, sugar, and vanilla extract. I subbed agave nectar (just a squirt) for the maple syrup in the pancake recipe since as I stated, I have no maple syrup and used whole wheat pastry flour for the unbleached all purpose because that was what was closest.

After breakfast, we finally planted the seeds in the hanging baskets the boys received for Easter. We talked about what vegetables we will plant in the backyard garden too. They are so excited about growing things this year. Dema and Parker are experts at watering so I'm hoping I won't kill the hanging plants. Dema checks them every couple of hours to see if anything has started growing yet. I had fun with the kids while Rob did the hard work of cleaning out the gutters and moved the extension ladder around the house by himself (crazy guy!). I was busy chatting with neighbors and enjoying the weather. It is so nice to see everyone out and I look forward to long walks and neighborhood gatherings. Several of us ended up in the park for lunch (everyone had the same idea) when Rob and Dema got back from the day's grocery shopping on the Xtracycle. They brought crusty bread, baba ganoush, and hummus and joined the picnic. Have I mentioned how much I love living here?

Parker put out his stepping stone he made with Karen on Easter and I noticed the abundance of leaves and raked some into piles which Dema promptly began jumping into. The boys also painted their Easter pots. Dema loves using every color and made quick work of it. Parker, as usual, was very intent on making a work of art and waited for one color to dry before doing another and went back to it throughout the day to add more touches. They played with the neighborhood boys for hours and I was able to watch them all play "CNN" and for the older boys to tell me their views on politics. It was interesting to hear what they had to say about Obama, Clinton, and McCain. I asked a few questions, but mostly they talked. I really think pollsters should question 11 to 14 year olds instead of adults to see who might win an election. Apparently, Obama wins if he runs against McCain, but McCain wins if he runs against Clinton. We will see.

We played "baseball" at the park down the street today and I'm pretty impressed with Parker. He hasn't played much baseball ever and we just bought the equipment last year, but he has a pretty good arm and was able to hit some balls. Later we went to watch Rob play soccer with his team from work. The boys had a great time playing with rocks, mud, and kicking the soccer ball around on the sidelines. It felt cooler today because of the wind and I'm surprised the boys lasted the entire soccer game...Rob did too and he will probably be sore tomorrow. Since we were outside most of the weekend, I didn't have time to soak beans and cook them so dinner tonight was Curried Lentils with Carrots and Peas from Vegan Planet. It has onions, garlic, ginger, olive oil, curry powder, cardamom, cinnamon, dry mustard, cayenne, allspice, turmeric, water, brown lentils, carrots, peas, salt, pepper, and coconut milk. I made brown rice since we didn't have any basmati and used the remaining coconut milk to make a mango sorbet (added banana and sprinkled shredded coconut on top). I love using my grandmother Sylvia's dishes for something. The kids love them and Parker thinks it is cool that she painted them herself. A side salad of mixed greens, raisins, and walnuts gave me the idea to add raisins to Dema's curry. He thought it was a little spicy so the raisins made it perfect for Dema to eat.

Not to leave Josie out, here is a picture of her enjoying the leaves and grass while the boys played ball. I tried to get her to chew on the Klean Kanteen instead of the twigs, but she really had her heart set on the everything dirty. Oh well, some extra B12. I look forward to more beautiful weather, but I have lived here long enough to know I can't count on it yet so we try to take advantage of the nice days while we can.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Third Time's a Charm

Josie is officially a person! We have a birth certificate and she is on her way to having a SSN. She is super happy about it or maybe she was just happy to have some daddy time at Public Health.

Garbage, Friday Book Review - Gardening Part 2, The Big Read, and Sweet Husbands

Before I start my regularly scheduled book review. I will review a few of our favorite garbage books in out of respect for a local blogger who's had quite the time with her garbage as of late. Warning, her blog entry is for adults only.

Garbage Collectors by Paulette Bourgeois
The boys like this story about garbage collectors (one of them is a woman) and how they help a woman retrieve her glasses before they get compacted. It is pretty informative about where the garbage goes after it leaves the can. I like for the kids to be aware of people who collect the garbage and that it doesn't magically disappear.

Garbage Can Cat by Joan Austin Geier
This book is from my childhood. I had a lot of books, but most of them are probably lost in the abyss of my parent's garage and I'm not sure how it came to be that this one is actually in my possession because it wasn't a particular favorite of mine. It is cute and the boys enjoy it about a cat who prefers to be free living among the garbage cans than in an apartment. I guess it is more about the cat than garbage, but we really don't have a lot of books about garbage around the house unless you want to count our recycling books. Hmm...

Which reminds me that I have already blogged about how you can recycle your used vibrator
(go down to the end of the post) just so we can come full circle again.

Now without further ado...

Friday Book Review (gardenin
g part 2):

Children's Books:

To bridge from garbage to the topic at hand, I'll say you should check out Garden's from Garbage.

Zinnia: How the Corn Was Saved by Patricia Hruby Powell
This is a Navajo story about how the crops failed and a boy is sent on a quest to find out how to save their crops. I like how the story is written in English and Navajo and the illustrations are great. The author lives in our fair town so that is an added bonus. We also enjoy her Frog Brings Rain book.

In the Garden (First Discovery Look and Learn Books)
We have several in this series and we like the lift the flap style (but not the lots of flaps in some books, it is just like a page which is longer and turned over). The kids love reading about the different flora and fauna found in a garden. The pictures are very realistic.

Good Morning, Garden by Barbara Brenner
Simple, but engaging book. We follow a child as she says hello to everything living in the garden (plants and animals).

Wildflower ABC by Diana Pomeroy
An alphabet book with potato prints of wildflowers. Fun for the kids to learn the names of the flowers, beautiful pictures, and more information about the wildflowers at the end.

Apples Here! by Will Hubbell
I bought this book at a local bookstore on campus while I was waiting for Rob to find something years ago and I noticed this on sale because it had been returned. The story follows the cycle of an apple from bud to blossom, to being eaten.

Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson
Follow the cycle of a pumpkin seed in this great book with wonderful pictures. This seems more like a fall book for me, but it is one of my favorite gardening books for kids. Both boys really enjoy this one and Dema in particular is very excited about growing pumpkins this year.

Pick, Pull, Snap! by Lola Schaefer
Another great book showing how things grow with pretty illustrations.

Speaking of books...

Locally, the town is abuzz with the The Big Read so Rob and are going to read Tolstoy to each other every night after Dema goes to bed. I really like Tolstoy and am enjoying learning more about him on local radio programs and other Big Read events.

Speaking of sweet husbands...

I was delighted to find a Billy Collins book at my door today, The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems, because my dear husband actually reads my blog. Awww! He is very sweet and thoughtful.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What's in a SSN?

Super busy day today with attempt number dos to get a birth certificate for Josie girl. For those of you who don't birth at home, this is the one big pain in buttoocus. I would birth a million babies at home if the man wasn't bringing me down on all the bureaucracy b*@%#! I mean puleeze! It isn't as if we haven't done this before, but the hoops they keep a changin' so what we needed almost four years ago for Dema is not what we need to do today for Josie. In fact, we tried to get this stuff taken care of in December. The person who handles this type of request (a birth cert. and then a SSN for someone born at home) was not in. We were told we needed a notarized letter from someone who knew me pregnant and after the baby (not the father of the baby). Last time and this time we have pictures of the actual baby being born, but no, no, no, no...don't show actual proof. Okay...

My sister wrote this nice little letter saying she saw me do the deed and all is well and true. We finally get the family down to Public Health again (we went a few days ago, but it was closed) with the notarized letter, but, no, no. We need this particular form to be filled out and notarized and no we don't have a notary on staff. Yes, the form says exactly what your letter says, but it still has to be on the form. For Dema, my dad just had to come down to Public Heath and sign something. Now we take the forms with us and Rob had to get back to work for a meeting so we'll be back at Public Health tomorrow to hopefully get this resolved.

I don't mind doing paperwork. I just wish it would be consistent and the people knew what was needed. This year there is some special instructions with the forms where they want all the names of the people who were at the birth (including midwives). Now, I chose to birth unassisted (without the aid of a midwife) so all is find and dandy, but in Illinois the laws are such that lay midwives can/have/do get in trouble from time to time for attending births. We are working to have this changed, but as it stands the added instructions for the form are slightly disturbing to me and feel a wee bit like a witch hunt.

It also states that you have to file for a birth cert. within one year of the baby being born. Well, this doesn't sound like a big deal, but my friend Alicia had five babies at home and had to go through a ton 'o s*%^# to get the birth cert. because she didn't get it within the year and the baby turned into a pumpkin. It all turned out well for Alicia, but it was an ordeal with judges and all.

Sooooo...our taxes will be a little late this year since you can't get the SSN without the birth cert. and you can't get the birth cert. without all this paperwork and you can't claim a child on your taxes without a SSN.

Taken with my cell phone at Public Heath. I thought the picture was appripo since we are completely at the mercy of the someone else's hands.
Some days I feel like we are all just a number.