Monthly Archives: March 2012

Updates and links

How was your week?  Mine was… altered.  On Sunday night, I usually sit down and plan out my week.  I factor in chores, appointments, even when our library books are due and then plan my meals and our fun activities that take us out of the house.  So Monday morning came and I hadn’t slept thanks to a sweet little girl and I was just overwhelmed.  It took until Wednesday to get it together and by then, we’d already eaten random sandwiches and Taco Bell because I just didn’t have it in me to cook a real meal.  Wednesday, the contractors showed up bright and very early to start the installation of our new furnace, new wiring in part of the basement and the installation of a vent to the outside of our home for the dryer.  Wednesday was a very loud day.

But somehow, after that (and a decent night’s rest) I managed to wake myself back up and get in the kitchen.  I’ve been trying recipes for a few straight days and I’m getting excited about cooking again!  Last night, we grilled plain old burgers and I made roasted beet chips as our side.  They were ok; Matt and Sylvia ate them, Liam helped me make them and then told me he thought they were “yucky” and I ate far too many.  They weren’t anything special, but didn’t really have a root vegetable flavor like the parsnip fries did, so I guess they were a win in the long run, but I’m still looking for recipes.  I think I’m going to try this method next time beets call to me from the produce department.

Today, I finally got around to roasting the chickpeas I soaked and cooked yesterday.   I was skeptical at first, but these Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas are yummy.  It took almost an hour for me to cook them to the right crispness, but it was worth it in the end.  I’m excited to have them as a post-workout snack.  Do you find yourself starving after a long work out?  I do.  And if there’s nothing already lined up for me to eat, I tend to just go nuts in the kitchen grabbing everything I lay eyes on and then, I’m fairly certain that all those gloriously expended calories were for naught.  I’m hoping to come up with a few flavors and really, just a few chickpeas and my hungry was satisfied!

Also, 2 weeks from today, Sylvia will turn 1 and I have a menu to plan, cupcakes to test and things to organize.  The party room at the Children’s museum was just finished and although it’s sponsored by McDonald’s (ARGH… seriously?!), it’s sufficient and we will be apart from the rest of the play spaces so it hopefully won’t be complete chaos.  I hope.  For her birthday gifts, we ordered her a stainless steel grocery cart and some handmade felt veggies.  I’m actually really, really excited about this.  Admittedly, I’m also hoping that someday, she’ll love those same veggies that we pretend to grocery shop for as we wander the farmer’s market together!

 

 

More quinoa love

I’ve been having a rough time coming up with a good lunch plan for me and the kids.  Liam is on a peanut butter and jelly only diet and I’m not quite ok letting Sylvi eat that day in and day out.  And me?  Well, I’m keeping an eye on my caloric intake.  Not in the sense that I’m cutting hundreds of calories, but in the sense that I want what I eat to count.  I hate eating a healthy meal and then being hungry 30 minutes later.  That being said, I’ve spent a great deal of time scouring Pinterest looking for inspiration.

I happened upon a recipe that I thought would be excellent but when I tried it out, it was awful.  So I scrapped it and started it again.  This result was amazing.  Sylvi and I ate it right up, but Liam turned up his nose.  There wasn’t any jelly involved so I let it go.  I can’t say that this recipe is the quickest to put together, but the time was worth it.  This recipe makes enough to serve 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side.  I would omit the chicken if I were to make this as a side dish.  But that’s just me.  I’d also eat this straight out of the pan…

Creamy quinoa and vegetables

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 crown broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 small zuchinni, shredded
Rinse the quinoa and then add it to a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water.  (I add 1/2 tsp. sea salt to the quinoa and then don’t add any later since the base ingredient is already seasoned.)  Bring the quinoa to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer.  While the quinoa cooks, heat a skillet over a medium burner and add the olive oil.  Place all the vegetables and garlic in the skillet and cook until the broccoli is a crisp tender and still brightly colored.  Stir frequently.  Add the yogurt, chives and a few cracks of pepper and mix well.  Finally add in the broth and the cooked quinoa and stir so that the vegetables are spread evenly throughout the quinoa.  If you are using chicken, add it now.  As an added bit of flavor when you serve, grate some Parmesan over the top.

 

Community

Living in Ohio, I know first hand how a less urban community can be apathetic about environmental concerns. Moving back to Richland county after college, I was so discouraged to feel that I was the only one who cared. I’ve struggled with this discouragement for years, but eventaully found community through the internet and was content with the way things were. When I discovered Moms Clean Air Force last year, I was thrilled to have another resource for not only information, but support. When I realized that there was actually a physical office in Columbus, I felt bolstered in the hope that together we could bring change.

You see, I feel it’s incredibly important to keep ourselves involved with the world around us. It would be so easy for me to close the doors of my home and think that I’m not going to feel or see any of the effects of air pollution. I could look at my healthy children and say that there’s no reason for me to get involved since, clearly, it doesn’t apply to my life. But I can’t do that. I keep my environment too much to close my heart to say it doesn’t matter. So I soldier on, writing letters to senators and educating myself as best as I can.

Friday, I met with a small group of people in Mansfield. We talked Clean Air, Solar Power, Community Gardening, Fracking and Cooperation. I got to meet people who work for the Audubon society. I met leaders of the North End Community Improvement Collaborative. I learned about neuroscience. I heard from an involved member of my town on how to keep educating people about the pollutive effects of hydraulic fracturing. And I learned, I’m not alone.

The importance of the on the ground Moms Clean Air Force groups is that the involved mothers are really, truly not alone in their fight for clean air. I can pick up my phone and call Jenny anytime I need some ideas or encouragement when I’m trying to get a meetup together so we can introduce the Force to mother mothers. I can drive down to Columbus to sit in on any number of meetups that are discussing the issues at hand that Moms Clean Air Force is working to help us conquer. Getting involved and seeing the impact we can have on our Senator’s votes is so encouraging! It tells me that maybe the letters I wrote years ago didn’t necessarily reap the harvest, but maybe, just maybe they planted a seed.

If you’re like me, wishing and hoping for a connection to other mothers in Ohio who want the same clean, pure air for our children, get involved. Email us. We want to meet with you and help you educate your community. We are excited to help you write a letter of your own. We want to involve you in the work that we are passionate about. Contact Moms Clean Air Force Ohio and let us be part of your community today!

Only make promises you can keep

 

Welcome to the March 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With Special Needs

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how we parent despite and because of challenges thrown our way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


 

This month’s carnival is on the topic of  special needs.  I have the blessing of a healthy home.  My kids have no major health issues and I’m thankful to only have the minor inconvenience of teething symptoms or colds here and there.   To be completely honest, I’m more grateful than most for the health of my family because I had the unique experience of growing up in a home with a chronically ill parent.  My home was a natural home and so life was lived with the goal of not only controling, but healing my mother’s condition with raw juicing, supplements, trips to the naturopath and the absence of wheat, dairy, sugar and meat in our diet.

My mother was diagnosed with Lupus as a young adult.  Her journals from that time period have detailed records of what she ate and how she felt as a result.  It seemed that every little stress in her life impacted her health and I find it amazing that in the early months of her marriage to my father, her symptoms were much abated.  In light of that, I do truly believe in the power of true joy and peace.  She had a rather uneventful pregnancy and delivery with me, but was unable to produce milk.  Considering the medications she was taking at the time, I’m ok with her “giving up” and feeding me formula at 2 months.  I’ve had my own struggles to produce enough milk, so her journal entries are heartbreaking for me to read knowing how painful it can be to feel as though you aren’t caring for your child.

A few years later, my mother had a seizure and went into premature labor with my brother.  He was born 10 weeks early and due to their complications, both my mother and baby brother spent many weeks in the hospital.  Lupus is an autoimmune disease.  As with any chronic illness, there will be periods of time when the patient is healthy and gets to live life normally, and then there are the inevitable periods of time when the patient cannot escape from the reality of how ill they are.  In my mother’s case, when she was healthy, she was healthy and we got to live like every other family out there.  But when she was ill, she was very, very ill.

As a result of her illness and me being the oldest child, I had an early education in housekeeping.  My mother taught me at a young age how to do the laundry, clean the house and make simple meals.  My grandmothers would come to help out and drive us to our activities while Mom was sick or in the hospital, but I do remember feeling a little more in control of life since I knew how to care for our home before I was even old enough to stay home alone.  When I was a freshman in high school, my mother became ill enough that she needed to be on dialysis 3 times a week.   In the next few years, my mother was hospitalized on a regular basis and spent countless hours getting treatments or at doctor’s offices.  My senior year in high school, the adoption of my youngest brother was finalized and we added another member to the family.  With the addition of my youngest brother, I got to watch my parents go back through the parenting journey with a toddler and learned a great deal about not only my parents, but how illness changes your perspective on what’s really important.

Exactly 2 months after my wedding day, I was called to the hospital at 5 o’clock in the morning only to arrive moments before they declared Mom dead.  It will be 6 years this May and as I raise my own children, I often wish I could talk to Mom.  She kept a journal detailing our life and the excitement of raising two small children while struggling with her health, but she never wrote down what the solution to a toddler problem was.  My son has the same temperment as I do and often behaves just like Mom wrote that I did… but I have no idea what she did to help diffuse situations.

Even though I am in excellent health and I take specific precautions to make sure my health doesn’t slide, I always have in the back of my mind the possibility of not being around to see my children grow up.  I realize it’s a bit morbid, but it’s been my reality.  In the event that I am not around, I  have very detailed journals, baby books, photo albums and blog entries that are dedicated to my children’s lives.  I never want there to be a question that could have been answered if only I had thought to write it down.  My husband and I have a will and provisional instructions written.  I never want my daughter to have to choose songs for my funeral or wonder if  I would have rathered a scripture from Psalms instead of Romans in my eulogy.  Most of all, growing up in a home with the special circumstances has made me a very purposeful parent.  I make a great effort to create special traditions and rituals.   We make a big deal out of birthdays because I celebrate the chance to have my children and husband in my life for yet another year.  I say “I love you” dozens of times a day.  On the rare occasion that I leave my children in the care of others, I am prompt when picking them up again.  I know what it is like to wait in fear for a parent wondering if something is wrong or if they’re just late.  And I never make a promise I cannot keep.  I know, on a very raw level that I am not in control of how life will play out.  As much as I want to promise I’ll be here in the morning, I never do.  I promise to always love my babies and right now, while they are so little, keeping things in the now is the best thing for them and for me.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 13 with all the carnival links.)

Monday… already?!

The name of the game last week was to simply survive.  It did not go very well.  By Friday, Matt was sick and Sylvia had a scary cough.  We ate fast food this weekend and Matt had to take today off work since he is still barely functioning.  Sylvia has her 3rd ear infection, double ear infection at that in the last 2 months and I’m waaaaayyyy behind on lanndry.

This week holds some fun things for us, while I dig myself out of the mountain of disorganization: Wednesday, I’ll be posting over at the Green Phone Booth on the topic of Spring Cleaning!  Thursday night, Moms Clean Air Force Ohio will be hosting a meetup here in town!  And also on Thursday, Sylvia will officially be 11 months old, therefore bringing to the end of my ability to say that I have “an infant and a toddler”.  Next month, we’ll be celebrating her first birthday and I’ll be the mother of 2 toddlers.  Yikes.

This week, I’m going to try some more gluten free recipes on our weekly menu.  I tried a few last week, and I liked them, so I’m encouraged to keep testing!  Hopefully, I’ll get my act together and start sharing some new recipes soon.  My goals for this week are: finishing up 2 posts for different websites, clean up my crafting area, make felt strawberries for Sylvia’s birthday gift, and finalize the plans for Sylvia’s birthday party (thank goodness for Pinterest!).  I still have a busy week, but at least I have some excitement on the horizon!  Tomorrow the Carnival of Natural Parenting goes live with the topic of Special Needs and I am really excited to read everyone’s posts.

 

Help in case of a special need

On Tuesday, the Carnival of Natural Parenting will go live for the month of March and the topic is Special Needs.  We were instructed to write about a special need in our parenting: a child with a chronic illness, a premature baby, perhaps the parent’s own health struggles.   I’ve written about my experiences as a child of a parent with a chronic illness in my post and it got me to thinking about ways to help a family in need.  The opportunity presented itself this week for me to take a basket to a family and while I was putting it together, I thought I’d turn it into a post.  We don’t live in a society that is very conscious of caring for other families like we used to.  Perhaps it’s because we are so busy now or perhaps it’s because we just don’t know what to do.  I know, better than most, what a blessing it can be to have someone show up in the midst of a family crisis to ease the burden.

I’ve been taking meals to families since I got out of college and moved home.  Our church has a committee of women (I assume it’s all women, anyway) that take meals to people as needed due to a new baby, surgery, death in the family, illness, etc.  Over the years, I’ve worked out the best recipes to take and figured out the best ways for me to help a family.  In the instance of death or illness, I think it’s best to take comfort food.  There’s a reason why it’s called comfort food: it fills you with warmth and eases the emotional pain.  New baby necessitaties food that can be eaten with one hand or requires little effort to get on the table for the rest of the family.  And in some cases, taking a meal that is already frozen and can be pulled out whenever the family needs it the most is the best thing to do.

If I have the time and the gumption, I do like to prepare a meal that is freezer-ready for future use and a meal that can be eaten right away.  Meals like Greek Pasta Casserole and Chicken Stir Fry are perfect for this need.  I usually keep a pan of the Greek casserole in my freezer to be pulled out in the event someone needs it.  These meals pack well into foil pans and travel well.  Just make sure you label the top with reheating instructions and identify the meal.  If you know the meal is going to go in the freezer, you might want to add the date you prepared it.  Breakfast crumb bars are a perfect dessert because they not only pack well, but they aren’t overly sweet.

Packing the meal is just as important as what you put in it.  If at all possible, use containers that don’t have to be returned.  Sadly, this often leads to gratuitous use of plastic in my case, but I suppose it goes to show you that I’m just as human as the next despite my desire to rid my home of plastic.  The boxes that Ball canning jars come in are actually perfect for transporting a meal!  I like to prep a salad and toppings for a meal that is going to be eaten right away.  Grilled chicken, chopped vegetables, seeds/croutons/dried cranberries or cherries, cheese, dressing and greens.  OR, a chicken cobb salad.  OR roast beef, spinach, feta and vinaigrette.  Keeping the elements of the salad separate is essential regardless of the type of salad you choose to make.  Nothing gets wilty or bruised.

If these options don’t speak to you, breakfast is a great idea!  A quiche, muffins and fruit is perfect!  Homemade bagels are also a wonderful treat that pack well.  For a new mom, having breakfast taken care of already is a wonderful relief.  When Liam was born, a friend brought us a basket with granola bars, trail mix and other snacks that were easily eaten while I was nursing.   And finally, even ordering supper from a place that offers home delivery is just as much of a blessing as spending time in the kitchen!

Whether it be a new baby or a surgery, families often run into times of need.  Being part of a community offers you the unique ability to reach out and fill that need.  Even if you don’t attend a church with a meal planning committee, or belong to a moms club, there are always opportunities to reach out to people around you and be a blessing; just look for the special needs in the lives of the families you know!

 

Just because the label is green…

A few weeks ago, I was wandering the Home Depot and found a bin filled with water sample kits.  I’ve been interested in finding out what our water quality is for a while.  First of all, I’ve always thought it tasted a bit funky and but then, while reading through the Non Toxic Avenger, I put it on the list of things to do.  I grabbed up one of the packets, filled it with water, filled out the paperwork and popped it in the mail.  Based on the information included, I was excited to know what was in my water and had a whole blog post planned on the results.

Last week, I got a phone call from the company asking to set up a more detailed test at my home.  It was specificed that it was a testing session and that I’d have a printout of the results to go over.  I could hardly wait.  And then, the man arrived and I knew I had just been spoofed.  For the next hour and a half, I watched the man run tests on my water and talk about his company’s product.  I was annoyed that instead of testing, it was a hard sales call and I was going to be wasting my time.

Now, I know the water here isn’t the greatest, but I don’t want a biased company to come in and tell me that.  I was under the impression that this was an independent testing company.  I like independent.  I like unbiased.  And I don’t want someone to go on and on about how amazing his company’s product is… while not really being an expert on water content.  It’s not that I got spoofed into signing up for this testing, it’s that when I asked the man who was taking up most of my kitchen with his equipment the specifics on the filtering, he couldn’t answer them.  And what was worse, when I told him point blank in the middle of his blabbering about the “tests” that I used to be a Biologist and that I work for an off shoot of the EDF, so he didn’t need to keep assuring me of the importance of all he was doing he completely changed his tune.

From then on, I was annoyed.  Angry even.  Everything the man said was “green” in nature.  He deliberately tried to appeal to me from that angle and even when I told him I wasn’t interested (I hadn’t planned on spending $4000 that night and wasn’t about to jump into something without a second opinion.) he started in on the perks of the offer.  He offered me a special deal with “organic” cleaning products.  After the fact, I told Matt that I’ve been “green” for years and I’d never seen those products listed on any of the reputable lists.  None of them were sulfate free.  None of them were actually certified… they were “natural”.  And natural doesn’t actually mean yuck free.

At the end of his time, the salesman left in a big huff.  I was polite, but I told him I wasn’t convinced by the “green” factor of his company.  He threw a hissy fit and told me he didn’t understand why someone who was “so concerned about health and keeping toxins of her home” wasn’t convinced of the need to clean up my water.  The thing is, if you want to sell me something, don’t treat me like an idiot and try to scare me into believing in your products with stats that are almost 5 years old.  Telling me that you are an environmentally friendly company is fine, but I want proof.  It’s frustrated me for years that “green” is often more trendy than it is real and honestly, trying to paint something green as the grass isn’t going to make me pull out my check book any faster.

I’m back to the drawing board with the plans to get things in this house tested for toxins.  I have to do some research and find someone to do the testing.  And I’d like to get my own body tested for toxins.  However, the next time, I won’t fall for a bin of tests at a hardware store.

Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one

The Speck

Dr. Seuss’ birthday was last Friday.  I was super excited.  I was so excited that I purchased ham to eat alongside my green eggs.  I planned a few fun activities for Liam and got several books from the library.  It’s been great fun to introduce Liam and Sylvia to the likes of  Hop on Pop, Horton Hears a Who!, and Green Eggs and Ham.  I planned a whole afternoon of fun, crafts, books and invited my aunt to participate.  She used to teach elementary school  and I thought it would be fun for her.

In the end, I think everyone had fun.  Liam loves the movie Horton Hears a Who! so I let him watch that while I dyed the eggs and roasted cauliflower.  I will be the first to admit that when I say “planned”, I mean while I was up nursing Sylvi in the night, the thought popped into my head that this would be fun.  So I didn’t get to make this meal the way I plan to next year.  That being said, I only used 3 drops of conventional food coloring to do 8 egg yolks.  They were a little pale, but considering that Sylvi was eyeballing them, I figured it was ok.  Next year, I am going to try one of these methods.

No! I do not like green eggs and ham!

The ham.  I don’t like ham.  I never eat it and I was a little worried about how I was going to eat our sandwiches.  But then!  I thinly sliced apples and onions and sauteed them in some olive oil until they were tender.  I put a scoop in each sandwich before grilling and the result was perfect.  As a matter of fact, I’d eat it again without question.

In conclusion, “I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-am!”