Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Sacred Act of Eating...or...Pumpkin Guts Are Gross and Fun

Fall.  My favorite time of year.  There is something delicious about cold mornings, longer evenings and the smell of firewood in the air.  The hot tea tastes cozier, the fuzzy socks feel softer.  The nostalgic yearning for dad’s chili, homemade applesauce and pumpkin flavored latte’s warms the tummy AND the heart.  It’s funny how food can do that.

Food isn’t just something to stop hunger is it?  When you stay home and make chili from scratch, from the recipe that’s been handed down to us from our mom or dad or aunt Constance…it just seems to fill a spiritual need too.  A sense of connection.  We eat at least three times a day, and that’s three times a day we can stop and think about what we’re putting in our bodies.  Nope, this isn’t an appeal to go vegetarian or even to stop eating so much processed foods.

I just think eating isn’t just eating.  It’s also the way we communicate culture, and heritage, when it’s done by someone for someone, it’s an act of love.  Of service.  

When you create a meal for your family, you’re not just making a meatloaf, you’re creating memories, and security.  Some of my favorite memories are doing homework at the kitchen table while dad cooked.  The steam from the boiling water on the window, the smell of sautéed onions, of tomato sauce simmering.  It was cold and dark outside but inside it was warm and cozy, and it smelled delicious.

Sometimes I forget that in the everyday rush.  That’s why writing this blog is so good for me - it makes me step back and look at the bigger picture, to remind me to hold sacred the small things.  The ability and resources to offer comfort in the form of food, in the form of family traditions, to serve them a love-history along with the chili, the home-made chicken soup.

Last week Ellie and I went to a pumpkin patch and picked out a pumpkin.  The lumpiest, weirdest looking one I could find.  Last night we carved it up.  She’s pretty good with a butcher knife!  (ha, ha).

Ellie ‘painted’ one side with a blue marker and I carved the other side.  As I was scooping out pumpkin guts I couldn’t help but think…ew.  This is really gross.  Which is at least 60% of the fun and probably why I look forward to it every year. 

When I imagined having kids, it was these times I thought of, sharing with them the fun and grossness of Halloween.  Letting Ellie mash her little fingers all through the shredded orange goo while we watch Curious George Boo Fest.

And, of course, cooking us a warm dinner on a cool fall night.  Bringing in the cozy when it’s cold outside.  That is the essence of being a parent for me.  Creating a safe and sacred space where we can relax, be cozy, and for a little while, forget the world outside.

That's a lot of pressure to put on a plate of chili isn't it?  Well, good.  Because it matters. Even when we forget how special it is.  Even if we never get thanked for it.  

It's creating a sense of home and family that binds young souls together in harmony.  So, just think of that next time you're crying over your onions.  You're not just making spaghetti. You're building family memories that will last a lifetime.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Perfect Moments and Why I'm Adding Bee Spit to my Green Tea

So what happened this week?  Everyone in my house has the plague but ME!  So exciting.  I mean, not that everyone is sick that sucks.  But they’ve both had their flu shots, Benji is still nursing and Ellie is already on the mend.

And I’m not sick!!  Wiping noses, cleaning snotty fingers, closing my eyes against volcanic eruption-sized sneezes that fly out of their noses totally unchecked.  (Cover your mouth Ellie!  At least not right in my EYES Benji!).  

What can you do?

The only thing I’m doing different is adding a few drops of propolis to my tea in the morning.  That’s Bee Pollen.  Sort of.  Its like a mixture of tree sap and bee spit.  Yummy.  They use it help coat their hives.  

Why am I adding Bee spit to my tea you may ask? They’ve got compounds in them called flavonoids - the same things that are supposed to work with antioxidants in green tea, fruits and vegetables and red wine.  

Even the most skeptical scientific studies have shown that it provides protection from ‘some’ bacteria, viruses and fungi.  Makes sense right?  It’s what they use the keep the hive healthy too.  Anyway like everything weird I stumble on that ‘may’ help, once it passes my ‘nope can’t hurt even if it doesn’t help’ criteria, I add it and see.

Since I have never, ever, not once NOT gotten sick when Ellie got sick in her three years of existence, I think this is pretty monumental.  I’ve been taking it since the end of August and we’ve all been sick at least twice, this is the kids third cold since then.  Seems like a lot doesn’t it?  I basically have nasal sprays and humidifiers and jars of baby Vic's out from September to November.

Anyway, like most ‘natural’ remedies they’re best taken as preventative and long term.  They need time to build up in the system to be effective.  Will I be adding Bee spit to my tea forever?  I don't know.  But for now there doesn't seem to be a down side and I have to say I am quite enjoying this good health!

Full disclosure, I am getting more sleep now than before.  Benji is finally, FINALLY sleeping in 4-5 hour stretches more nights than not.  Thank you, thank you Benji!  So it may be a combination of both.  I can't over state the benefits of a good night sleep.  It is better than chocolate, better than...well, it's just better when you can sleep at night.

Anyway, that’s all the new news this week.  That and we got our family pictures done - thank you Jennifer Robertson!  (Free plug for Jenn!)  Like any good photographer she captured us at our best, and now we’ve got this beautiful, perfect moment frozen in time.  It reminds me how lucky we are to be together, to be healthy and safe.  

These pictures are something we will have forever, even when the kids are off saving the world (or causing a ruckus) and we’re left with nothing to do but remember the ‘good old days’ and plan our next RV trip to the Grand Canyon.  (Or camping trip back home in PEI)

"Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is." Ansel Adams

Sunday, October 15, 2017

This Too Shall Pass, Eh?

I was checking out at Target yesterday and the cashier stopped to smile at the onsie pajamas I had in the cart for Ben.  Clearly pregnant, I asked if it was her first.  She said yes.  Dreamily, happily, lovingly.  Oh, honey.  I thought.

And then I thought…don’t I have an obligation to tell her what she’s in for?  The months and sometimes years of sleepless nights, the poop that flies out of the diaper when they rollick around in protest of being changed, the hours spent in a doctors office to tell you they’re fine, the tantrums, the yelling, the screaming, the bodily death-match that occurs EVERY TIME I TRY TO GET THIS KID IN HIS CAR SEAT?

The gobs of applesauce on…everything.  At least, you hope it’s applesauce.  The hours spent soothing, clearing, cleaning, being vigilant because anything, ANYTHING could kill your baby right now.  

I left Benji with Bill for TEN minutes while I cleaned my room just now (sometimes I clean!) and when I checked on him he was covered in granola crumbs (yes with nuts inside which he has never been exposed to) and be still my stampeding heart when he began to choke and gag.  

I watched helplessly, waiting for his face to turn red, then blue, and racing around to find the phone to call 911.  But he didn’t turn red or blue.  He did continue to gag.  Looking inside his mouth I found a quarter sized piece of green cellophane granola-bar wrapper.  After several tries I finally removed it.

Am I angry at Bill?  Yes and no.  He doesn’t spend all day every-day on constant death-watch.  He didn’t know how quickly he can get himself in trouble.  Now he knows.  Lesson learned for everyone with, hopefully no ill consequences.

Anyway, back to Target, after tallying up what I owed I gave her my credit-card, took my receipt and said…”Good luck.”  

What, I’m going to scare her now?

I do think I helpfully saved another young girl from getting pregnant too soon.  I met her at the mall while buying ice-cream.  After totally melting at the sight of my babies she admitted her and her boyfriend are trying.  (she looked like...14 but she may have been 19).  “I just want a baby so bad!  They’re so cute!”  She said.

My response?

“Lady I haven’t slept more than 3 hours straight in 11 months.  My advice?  Sleep now.  And wait until you don’t need sleep to have kids.  Or money.”  She was a little taken aback.  

Well, good.  I don’t know why we aren’t more honest with each other.  Having a baby is HUGE.  And it’s hard.  And just when your patience has run out and you’re out of energy and you’re on your very last nerve, they both melt down and scream and cry and you do too.  Because you’re tired.  And you haven’t been away from the precious bundles for more than 3 hours in their whole lives.

Of course it’s worth it.  

But pretending the hard stuff isn’t so hard is a disservice to those young moms who have no idea what they’re about to plunge into.  Loving is hard.  The love you have for your kids takes your whole being, mind, body, and soul.  And then asks for more.  And you give it.  Because you’d do anything for your kids, even run yourself totally empty until you’re a mommie-zombie.

Luckily re-charging ins’t too hard if it’s done daily.  Some cat videos on Youtube, chocolate, a glass of wine after they go to bed, a funny book.  It’s all good.  Because tomorrow you will do it all again and one sticky-fingered hug puts enough love back in that it shoots out the top of your head and falls out all around you.  

To finish off, here are some things Ellie has said recently that totally cracked me up:

Ellie:  (While eating) Is my tummy growing so big and strong so I can use hammers?
Me: Ah…yes?

Nana: What do you want for Christmas Ellie?
Ellie: Rainbows!

Me (About an hour later): What do you want for Christmas Ellie?
Ellie: A string ball!
Me:  OK, what’s a string ball?
Ellie:  I don’t know!  (She says happily, throwing her hands in the air).  Got that Santa?

Ellie slipped and fell on the floor this weekend and hurt the underside of her chin.  Later, as we were eating lunch, she says:

Ellie: I fell on the ground.
Me: I know honey, does it hurt when you chew?
Ellie:  (Confused) No, it hurt when I fell on the ground.
Me: (Laughing so hard kraft dinner gets splattered all over the counter)

OK, that’s it, go hug your kids and remember sometimes it sucks, it just does.  And that’s ok.  My new (old) motto is ‘This Too Shall Pass”.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Five Surprising Ways to Raise A Healthy Eater!

It didn’t occur to me I was doing anything particularly amazing around eating until I started talking to other moms, who seemed to be a little amazed at how I’m feeding my 11 month old.

But first, a quick comment on What’s Happening In the World Right Now.

The world can be a horrible, cruel place and at the same time it can be wonderful and abundant.  These are both truths.  There is not a half-way point - there is only choosing which truth to put in your personal foreground.

Lee Ross.

There has been tragedy here in America recently, brought both by weather and by human malice.  I don’t know what to say except in both cases to focus my eyes on the every-day humble heroism of the average human being instead of the evil that went before it.

Thoughts and prayers, actions and results are what we need right now and I hope, really hope, it results in some real life-saving gun control legislation.  No one else’s daughter needs to grow up without a mom because of loose gun laws.  

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.  Ok, one more thing.  Puerto Rico doesn’t need to try to make Trump look bad, he does that all on his own.  

Ok and really lastly, leave Melania alone people.  She’s doing the best she can, and I think she’s doing a pretty good job.

Alight back to MY little life.  Raising two kids to be honest, kind, and honorable.  Also, good healthy eaters.

How am I doing this you ask?  I let them feed themselves.

Ba ba baaaa.

No, they're not slaving away over a hot stove making chicken pot pie's, I'm not THAT crazy.

But look people, this little guy will put ANYTHING in his mouth right now.  Dog food, fuzz from the dog blanket, fuzz from the dog’s butt, my shoes, Ellie’s shoes, my phone, the toilet, the toilet paper, the garbage bag, the garbage IN the bag…need I go on?

Do you think he’s going to stop and refuse to eat the carrots, potatoes, grapes, bananas, pea’s, celery and asparagus I’m cooking for him?


I’m kind of using nature in my favor here.  For awhile, he will literally put anything in his mouth I put on the highchair tray.  (I tried plates.  He just eats them.  Now everything goes directly ON the tray.)

I did this with Ellie too and she eats pretty much anything we give her.  Around two she started stating what she liked and didn’t like.  I did two things.  1) I didn’t pay attention to that and fed her whatever we were eating anyway but 2) if she really didn’t want to eat the broccoli, she had the choice to eat peas or carrots too.  That was HER choice.  Broccoli, peas, or carrots.  She always picked one.

To sum up:

1) GIVE IT TO THEM: starting around 9-10 months old they will want to start feeding themselves.  They will also put EVERYTHING in their mouth.  So use it.  Give them everything you’re eating.  (Ok, now start eating healthier!)  

2) GIVE IT TO THEM: their tastes will wax and wane.  Keep giving it to them (whatever you’re eating) and if they really fuss - no fights, just give them the ‘option’ of another vegetable or fruit if you're getting desperate.  

Point is to bend like a willow, or you'll crack like a nut.  

Toddlers LOVE making decisions.  They don’t know yet you’re stacking the board against them.

3) GIVE IT TO THEM: sometimes I make the weird mistake of not giving Ellie something I don’t like.  I try to remember to give her a range of options, especially at a restaurant.

4) GIVE iT TO THEM: people need to be exposed to something 12-14 times before they like it.  I tell that to Ellie when she doesn’t like something.  And then I tell her we’ll try the beans another time, and to eat her….carrots or peas or avocado or whatever healthy vegetable she’s into that week.

5) GIVE IT TO THEM:  sensing a theme here?  She eats what I eat.  If I’m eating chips, she wants chips.  If I’m eating grapes or watermelon, she wants that too.  

My only REAL rule at meal times is that if she doesn’t like something, she has to at least try it.  And if she really doesn’t want it, we substitute with something as healthy.  But she has to TRY.

Benji, of course, would eat dryer-lint covered mashed pickles and turmeric balls if I gave them to him right now.

Anyway, that’s what I’m doing and you might be doing this already.  If you are, high five!  If not, and you have a fussy eater, try it out!  What have you got to lose?

The Gift Of Nowhere To Go

Hiya my friends – look – I don’t know if anyone other than mom and some uncles and aunts back home read this but, in case you’re out ther...