Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Few Scenes From Our Spring

 Our sweet greyhound rescue (love American Greyhound!) snuggled up on her couch. She learned early on what couch was hers and what couches belong to the humans. She easily figures out the rules.
 On party nights (this one was for Rob's 51st birthday) when the adults (and kids) stay up too long rules can get blurry. Our little friend, Norah, fell asleep on Gracie's couch so Gracie hopped up there and fell asleep on her. 
 Josie's spring soccer team. Josie is the one standing behind the male coach (fourth from the left).
 Parker was Prince Eric in the CPD show, The Little Mermaid Jr., this spring. Here he is after the matinee performance with his sister and brother.
 Our awesome young teen neighbor gave Josie one of her old homemade Halloween outfits...a mermaid! This made Josie so happy! With all The Little Mermaid shows for Parker it was great to have Josie join in the fun at home.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Splurging on Gardein

Once in a while you just have to reach in the freezer and make something easy. Especially, when it is almost 90 degrees in the house (100+year old house and no central air and some rooms without grounded electrical outlets so we can't even use window units) and humidity is through the roof. That is where Gardein comes in.
Gardein Marinara Crispy Chick'n Filet over whole wheat fettuccine. Simple, quick and everyone liked it. I prefer my homemade marinara sauce though. The kids are kind of anti pasta lately (unless it is rice pasta for pad thai) so I have to do something to jazz it up.
Gardein BBQ Riblets on a whole wheat bun with whole wheat gobetti pasta and cheeze with broccoli and carrots.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wrap it Up!

I will put absolutely anything and everything in a whole wheat tortilla and call it a wrap (and breakfast or lunch, heck, even dinner). 
 Leftover lentil soup? 
I can wrap that.

Sometimes I add hot sauce or more veggies, perhaps some Vegenaise or hummus to leftovers when I wrap them. When you wrap soup and curries, you have to be careful about not using to much liquid. Wraps are a great way to put a re-energize leftovers and who doesn't like eating with their hands? It has become a family joke that I'll put everything in a wrap and reminds me of Porlandia's pickle it episode.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sh*t is About to Get Real

Why do people blog? Do we all need to have our stories heard so much that we want to put them out for the world to see? Are we seeking attention? Closet writer wannabes? Why not just keep a personal journal?

Food bloggers are a particular breed of bloggers.

I'm obviously not a photographer nor am I a chef or someone who is expert at plating. I am just someone on a journey like everyone else out there. Why share that journey with the entire world (or the few people who bother to read it)?

I started blogging because I read a vegan food blog that made me laugh, possibly shocked me from time to time, and kept me reading. The blogger primarily wrote about food, but in a real way and with enough personal antidotes to make me appreciate the being behind the beans. The blogger inspired me to write again. I used to love writing.

Then I lost my nerve.

I decided to be safe instead of edgy. I'm not sure if I'm an edgy person anyway.

I live in a small college town. Sometimes suffocatingly small. People over the years have come up to me because they read my blog. While that can be fun, it can also be stifling.

Now I feel after months of a blogging break that I can make this space something just for me. A place that may not always be pretty and I'm not just talking about the food photos.

Do I want people to read it? Sure. I think. I am putting it out there.

I'm okay if no one reads these words too.

While I am still snapping pictures of food and fun. I will also write about the tough things. The things that keep me up at night.

It is almost 3am and yes, I consumed almost a full Chemex* of coffee post kids' bedtime. Thus I have more than my unrelenting all-consuming thoughts keeping me up.

Let's talk about OCD.**

The lovely twisted thing about being a parent of a child with OCD is getting all "ocd" about said child. He never leaves my thoughts and I refuse to stop trying to figure it out and I will never stop beating myself up for all the times I don't handle it well. At the same time, I know obsessing about my child's anxiety is totally f-ed up. Yep, my life, like so many lives out there, is a crazy roller coaster ride and sometimes I just want to get off.***

This mom is human and I have some very bad parenting days.

Today was not one of my bad days, but Dema's OCD over the last several months has been "louder". Some days I almost forget about it. The hand washing changes to something less obvious like only going to the park through two imaginary "gateways" and things are my all seems to chill and "normal". Other days, like the last several months, I feel like it is a struggle just to get through the morning and I'm drowning in the sea of OCD.

Dema doesn't get that break though. Inside that wonderful intelligent compassionate brain of his, things are always chaotic. He doesn't get the luxury of living in the moment. Oh how we all struggle with that, but for him it is so much more. His struggle goes to 11, it is one louder.****

It gets tedious for those of us who love and know him. I can't possible understand how tiring it gets for my sweet little nine year old boy. Imagine never being able to turn "it" off. It being all the anxieties we all have, but with the weight of the world added on. Every single disease we have ever heard of, each tragedy we can imagine, such intense emotions...all of them...talking at once. A cacophony of anxiety and intensity inside while on the outside we are supposed to follow all the society's unspoken rules.

Someone opens the door for Dema and he has to walk through under their arm. This arm, in Dema's world, puts him in another dimension so he has to have it pass over him the other way to be "okay". He can politely walk in the door that is so nicely being held for him, but then possibly be lost forever in this different place he imagines himself transported to or decline the open door and look rude and ungrateful.*****

At some point, I can't even remember when, Dema started asking what number he should brush his teeth to...not really knowing what he meant, I started giving him a number. It was immediately clear that the number had to be and increment of 10. Rob would try to say 25 and Dema would get so fussy. I still don't completely comprehend this ritual, but is also includes him counting by twos and is not to be taken lightly. We talk about his OCD openly, partly because I think it is good for people to understand it and partly so people don't loose their patience. I used the tooth brushing routine the other day as an example when I try to explain OCD (because people throw this term around like it is nothing and most people don't have a clue, which I totally get because I never had a clue either until Dema came into my life). So I used this example and Dema was all like, "Is that part of my OCD? Hmm, I didn't realize that." He thinks everyone does it. Just like it is hard to comprehend what OCD is like when we don't have it, Dema has trouble wrapping his head around what it is like for people who don't live with constant anxiety.

I want to understand my son. I try so hard to put myself in his shoes. We started a new approach with him and we call OCD his super power. Because it is, in a way, a gift. People with OCD are sometimes able to do repetitive motions that would bore other people which can make them talented at athletics or even in academic endeavors. He isn't "broken" and in need of "fixing". He has something inside of him that can give him strength and power. Allow him to reach goals that others would find daunting. Yet, when the anxiety part of OCD makes him sad, angry, and keeps him from being a happy care-free kid, my heart breaks over and over again.

It is almost unbearable.

I just want to turn back time and take all of this away. Whatever triggers caused his pain...the car wreck? the motorcyclist hitting him while he was riding his bike? being pushed from a rock when he was three and ending up in the ER? the birth of his baby sister? or was something completely benign to me that was Earth shattering and life changing for him?

I want to hold him and make everything better. I want him to trust that people around him aren't aliens and that his dad and I will always be there for him. I want him to slow down. I want for his mind to give him a break. I want the drone of apprehension to be silenced.

I wonder if it is like having a pot of coffee in his mind, but not just for a self-inflicted night of buzzing on caffeine. All. The. Time.

*I bought Rob a Chemex last winter solstice. We both love it. We usually only drink coffee together on the weekends so it is a treat. After years of trying to convince Rob to kick his caffeine habit, I finally joined him a bit. Now in an ironic twist of fate, Rob has completely cut down his coffee consumption. He has moderately high blood pressure and has since before we met, but he started taking it seriously after turning 50. He recently started charting his blood pressure at home and he noticed without coffee his blood pressure is completely normal. He is now joining me in my obsession with tea, but we do still make coffee from time to time.

**You should hear the tune of the Salt N Pepa song, Let's Talk About Sex.

***Not in a suicidal way, but in a "I'd love for life to be even keel for a bit and everything to work  out all neat and tidy like the American sitcoms teach us" way.

****Spinal Tap

*****This is a true story that used to be one of his issues a couple years ago. Fortunately, at seven years old he was in touch enough with what was going on inside himself to finally explain this to me (after much frustration since passing under things happens quite a bit when you are seven and surrounded by people taller than you).

Common Ground Pizza and Sandwiches

Our local co-op is fantastic and feels like a second home to our kids. They know many of the people who work there and love to chat with them, but what they like best is eating vegan food from the deli. Around Parker's 13th birthday, the co-op started offering their own pizza. It was an awesome birthday present. Since we live in a small college town, we don't have many options for vegan pizza and no options anymore (now that One World is gone) for pizza with vegan cheese.
 The dough is New York style and so good. This picture shows the Tofu and Mandarin Orange (Josie's favorite) on the left and I think the Very Vegan Veggie on the right. Since early this year, they have gone from just offering pizza by the slice to making them to order and selling entire pizzas. Common Ground is now hands down our favorite pizza place we're ever tried, not just favorite local.
They don't just serve excellent pizza, they now have made to order sandwiches too. This one is the seasonal Butternut Squash and Pesto. It has us looking forward to fall. So delicious and a combination I never would have thought of on my own! There will be many more pictures of Common Ground food in the future, the pics are being held prisoner on my Samsung phone which does not play nice with my IMac computer.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

For the Love of Pad Thai

 Pad Thai is one of my favorite things to make. It is so versatile and forgiving. It goes along with my advice to anyone wanting to add more plant foods into their diet..sauce. Play around with sauces. Find some you like. A good peanut sauce goes a long way to putting dinner on the table. Some ingredients I usually put in my pad thai sauce: garlic, peanut butter (when I talk about peanut butter on my blog, I mean natural peanut butter - just roasted organic peanuts, nothing else), tamari, tamarind, hot peppers of some sort or red curry paste, tomatoes and/or tomato paste, pitted dates or dried figs for sweetener, and lime juice. I have been known to add all sorts of other ingredients too, but that gets me started.
My pad thai is never the same twice. Sometimes I mix it up and don't use peanuts at all and use other nut butters. I make it tangy or spicy depending on my audience. There are are so many different rice noodles to choose from now too. I usually use brown rice noodles, but I also use red rice noodles and very rarely white rice noodles. I've seen corn rice combo noodles. They are all good. I like to make my pad thai pretty veggie heavy. The top dish has roasted white sweet potatoes and peas, the bottom one has broccoli different and colored carrots (the kids love a mixture of colors so we try to keep the local purple, yellow, and red carrots in our produce drawer when they are in season). I add tofu or tempeh (sometimes both) most of the time, but sometimes I also add chickpeas and/or seitan. Often I garnish with nuts, cashews and pistachios are my go to nuts, but if I have peanuts on hand I will use them too.

Last week we ended up having 7-9 adults (people kept dropping by, which I love!) and 9 kids for dinner. Veggie pad thai, salad (provided by one of our lovely neighbors who came for dinner), and fresh strawberries (also provided by one of the sweet diners) fed everyone easily. We used three packages of pad thai noodles, loads of veggies, and tofu. One of the kids we had over is gluten-free and pad thai is an easy to make gluten free meal.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Back to (Home)School Lunches - PlanetBox

Back to school time is just around the corner so many parenting friends are discussing the best way for their kiddos to transport food to school. I have a huge backlog of lunch photos from the second semester of our weekly Joy in Learning homeschooling group. I thought it might be a good time to share them. This post features PlanetBox. The age of the kids when these lunches were eaten; Parker 12/13, Dema 8/9, Josie 5.
 Josie's Rover PlanetBox: orange slices, frozen mangoes (when they thaw, they get really juicy and this will spill if the box is turned in its side, but we keep them flat at our homeschooling group so not a real issue for us), coconut macaroons, pb and j on Rudi's whole wheat sandwich flatz.
 Parker's Launch PlanetBox: orange slices, chocolate coconut macaroons, veggie burger on sandwich flatz, and kale chips.
 Dema's Launch PlanetBox: orange slices, apple slices, frozen mangoes, veggie burger on sandwich flatz, and a chocolate and vanilla macaroon.
 Josie's Rover: Country Choice Duplex sandwich cookies, baked tofu, carrot sticks, almond yogurt with frozen raspberries and ground flax seeds.
 Boys' Launches: Country Choice Duplex sandwich cookies, hummus with artichokes, carrot sticks, almond yogurt with frozen raspberries and ground flax seeds.
 Parker's Launch: Baked tofu sandwich on One Degree veganic bread, peanut butter and fruit spread on in the upper half, leftover Indian curry with chickpeas, sweet peas, and potatoes.
 Josie's Rover: chickpeas, mix of cashews/chocolate chunks, and dried apricots, peanut butter and fruit spread sandwich, brown rice and tofu stir fry, and leftover Indian curry wrap.
Boys' Launches: Indian curry wrap, tofu sandwich on One Degree bread, chickpeas with nutritional yeast.
 Boys' Launches: Chickpea salad wrap, stuffed grape leaves, carrot sticks, and fig bars.
 Josie's Rover: Chickpea salad wrap, fig bars, celery and carrot sticks, Back to Nature crackers with homemade cheese sauce.
 Josie's Rover: dried mango, veggie booty, cashews/dried cherries/pumpkin seed mix, kumquat, and Annie Chun potstickers.
 Dema's Launch: kale chips, chia bar, baked tofu wrap, and Gardein chick'n slider.
Parker's Launch: Launch: kale chips, Blue Diamond nut thins, chia bar, baked tofu wrap, and Gardein chick'n slider.