altarflame: (deluge)
After a long stall in my weight loss, during which my hernia grew and my back pain increased and my eagerness to get in the freaking OR started to actually exist... I somehow felt incapable of (and/or uninterested in) putting any limitations on my eating. Too anxious about school, too sleep deprived to deal with any form of diet, too many roadtrips and whole days out of the house and too many priorities all around to make this tired issue another one.

The point is, I realized it sounded doable out of all the options, so I've went flour-free again. This is day 6, I believe, and the process has followed the same pattern I've experienced before - I get really depressed around day 3, less so on day 4, and then that part is mostly over. I feel way less bloated and experience less of the constant stomach discomfort I generally experience otherwise. I am hungry more often, and eat more overall. And, I lose at least half a pound every day, regardless of how I glut myself on meats, dairy, sugar, etc (in addition to produce, I mean, but nobody would expect produce to inhibit weight loss). I tend to feel way more flexible and comfortable when I haven't had glutinous things in awhile, and then I realize how used to feeling sluggish and hurting in ways that make me more sedentary I often am. It's also not hard at all, to just not eat the stuff. Considering how difficult most dietary restrictions are for me, that's pretty significant. Usually between 10-15 pounds down the effortless weight loss stops and I have to try in other ways, for that, though it is easier than it would be since floury shit is a lot of weight watchers points and I don't mind exercising as much when I'm not bloated all the time.

I was trying to figure out why I went back to eating flour last time, after about 5-6 months off that left me thinner and more energetic, and then I remembered - I was on vacation with Grant, just the two of us. We discovered a fabulous local farmer's market near our hotel, with fresh loaves of french bread, fresh mozzarella from some small farm, fresh organic herbs, heirloom tomatoes, artisinal salami, and great wine. It all seemed so wholesome and natural and irresistable, and it was a special occasion, so we bought it all and had it for lunch in the park, and then as a picnic dinner in the hotel room later.

And then, legit, it was NOT ROMANTIC AT ALL when I was in terrible pain and could barely button my pants, for the next 3 days. Also not romantic spending way too long in the bathroom over and over. But I had already messed up my system, so when we went to my friend Kristin's house up there and she started cooking me homemade pies and putting eggs and avocado on toast I went with it. By the time I got home from that trip, I was already getting used to my old-normal level of gastric discomfort, using the bathroom way less regularly, and regaining weight.

Then, in my quest to figure out pernicious anemia, my gastro tested me for celiac and I didn't have it, and some scientific articles came out that said the gluten free craze was a placebo-esque fad and I basically said, "oh, fuck it. Hand me a brownie."

Well. Whatever. This is very clearly a real and significant improvement, and if it's just a leap in the nutrient density of everything I eat and a reduction in empty carbs, so be it. If gluten really is an inflammatory substance that contributes to the horror show that is my leaky gut, well, I've got my bases covered.

Anyway, food related: I've been making frittatas 3-5 times per week, lately. I wilt a bunch of baby kale and spinach in irish butter, get it out of the pan, spray the pan (I don't have anything nonstick so this is necessary), put in a mix of 10 beaten eggs, almond milk, salt, fresh basil leaves, and tons of good shaved parmesan. Dump/spread all the wilted greens back in. Put more basil and parm on top. Move to the preheated oven til it's cooked through. Cut and serve with a pizza cutter. SO good. Ananda, Aaron, and Jake love it and tear it up every time. Isaac will eat a piece in a pinch. I tend to set it out for everyone with a lot of cut and salted tomatoes and avocados, knowing that is the only part Elise is ever interested in. Along with a huge freezer bag of belgium waffles from the last time we intentionally made way too much so they could be toasted as needed, greek yogurt, leftovers from whatever we most recently had for dinner, and a neverending stream of clementines and blueberries, this is what my kids subsist on until dinner every day.

Dinner tonight was Grant's creamy potato leek soup, which is really fucking good, but as he made some jazzed up cheesy herb bread for everyone else and I'm not eating bread I browned mushrooms and steamed/buttered broccoli, to throw in my bowl(s). Yum. I also ate a bunch of riesen while they had milano cookies. I'm telling you, this is really not hard ;)

My day was great!
-Last night I met Kathy and her kids at Laura's, and we all had dinner/talked/generally hung out until late, when I returned home and watched shows and ate things with Annie until way too late, and it was all without consequence becaaaaause...
-Grant took Elise to Girl Scout Camp this morning so I could sleep in. She loves it there and does great stuff like swim, hike, craft, and sing songs all day, so I don't feel guilty at all watching Stats lecture videos, washing dishes, and watering/pruning plants for most of the afternoon after sleeping the morning away. She is the needy, energetic, more chronically bored child when home, who feels like she's really suffered if 10 minutes have passed entertaining herself, and the three little kids just bicker a lot when they're all here without structure and then tell on each other constantly. Her being at camp has made the days seem SO simple. Jake and Isaac just read their latest library books, play Minecraft, and build with Legos the whole day. They also took a walk and got some starfruit from one of our neighbors that is always giving us excess fruit off of his trees. I think Isaac + Elise is the killer combo, because usually Jake can get along fine with either of them for extended periods. And, picking her up is fun because she's exuberant and bouncy and full of stories about how amazing and wonderful camp was.
-I took the time to notice how pampered and generally blessed I am that I can do things like decide on a whim to go browse around one of my favorite stores for awhile, and swing by somewhere to pick up a few groceries on the way home from grabbing Elise. I also generally enjoy it a lot when Grant's working from home and I can take the car wherever I have to go, because it has air conditioning (moment of respect; this is serious - AIR. CONDITIONING.) and I'm just so over the van.
-SEX. Finally. So much better.
-Reading to the littles was fun at bedtime. I read Elise The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman, which I'd actually never read before even though we've had it here for years. She was almost absurdly into it. I should take video of her some time, she is truly hilarious. Jake and I are to the Department of Mysteries in The Order of the Phoenix, which means Shit Is Getting Real but also that's just a fascinating chapter as they move between all the rooms full of bizarre experimental magic. Isaac and I have started The Magician's Nephew, aka Narnia #1, and he is talking me into extra pages every time because (BWAHAHAHA) despite his concerns that they were going to be "kind of boring and dumb" he's been totally sucked in from the first night.
-I sat down with the big wall calendar and wrote all over it, and there is just something cathartic about putting it all down where everyone can see and feeling like I've got something under control.
-Jake finally agreed that I could trim his bangs, so he has eyes again.

My day was kind of awful!
-I'm really worried about Aaron. This is every day, as he's seemed chemically depressed for a long time, and before we figured out it was depression I thought he had some kind of chronic illness and was taking him from doctor to doctor because he gives himself tons of seemingly medical symptoms (periodic low grade fever, frequent swollen glands, stomach aches, headaches) with his misery. But every non-mental possibility has been ruled out. He is totally against therapy or medication and we've been skating a line that makes me feel obligated to force him against his will for a year or more, now. We talk about it increasingly often, even though I am normally dead against forcing anyone into talk therapy because that seems pointlessly ineffective. At 14, I also feel like he has a real say in the meds decision... He does everything you're "supposed" to do - go out in the sunshine, drag himself around to exercise, stick with things like dance and join roller derby even though he's sometimes loathing them because he knows exercise is important. He seeks social interaction and will sometimes just write everything he's thinking and feeling down, so that's good. He still likes talking with Grant and with me (about things other than his misery, which he never wants to talk about) and doing things with us. I struggle to get him to take every supplement ever shown to combat depression (probiotics, fish oil, folic acid). But...he cries randomly all the time, often at the drop of a hat, sometimes for long periods. Like there are never more than a few hours between his crying spells. He can't sleep at night. He feels and looks very, very, very sad almost all the time. The heaviness just radiates off of him in waves. Ananda has found ways to make fun of him for it that make him laugh in spite of himself, and Isaac and Jake tiptoe where they used to irritate him in little brother ways because they're actually worried about him. His girlfriend broke up with him and that set off this latest crescendo, but it's been over a month straight of this now, and he was also like this before that relationship (which really only existed via texting and only for like 2 months, not that 2 months of texting and a few hugs in the hallways don't matter when you're in 8th grade), too. Crying in classes at school. He's never mentioned anything suicidal but I really don't think he would, either. I waver constantly between thinking he'll be ok, he still has interests and hobbies and gets excited about some things, still smiles and laughs every day as well, he's a teenager...and thinking, fuck, should I like him checked in somewhere? I mean that's crazy and way too drastic, right? I've talked to my therapist about Aaron, and to Isaac's. They agree it's subjective and basically tell me stuff I already know (keep the lines of communication open, encourage him to blah blah blah, try framing x and y this way or that way). He's going to start dance intensives soon so he'll at least be having a better sleep schedule and more structure enforced, as I don't think this lounging and wandering sort of summer he's having is really doing him any favors.
-I have a deep crack on the outside of my left heel that's SO PAINFUL every time I step with that foot. I'm favoring it like crazy. I've ped-egg'd and buffed it down twice, and keep slathering it in lotion, but it's terrible. I toe walk on that side and limp around, when home. I grimace and walk normally out places. That foot is just a damn mess, I broke a toe last year and never went in for it and I think it healed badly. Ever since I have all sorts of stupid issues, a strange little new bump here and a really tender spot there. I suppose at some point I'm going to have to buckle down and go to a podiatrist but the thought of seeking out a new specialist and making more appointments for myself (I already get a b-12 shot and go to counseling every week, in addition to all the kid things I cart people to) is so unappealing that I'd honestly rather just limp and hope, for now at least.
-Also sat down with the budget today, after getting a bill from Isaac's psych and just...GAAAAH. So many extra things all piling up at once :/
-I'm basically ignoring texts from some of my favorite people because I just don't want to start a catch up conversation right now.

Ananda came to me out of nowhere and asked if she can be homeschooled again and start dual enrollment at the college this fall. There are so many pros and cons involved. We've had two talks now, and I've hashed it out a bit with Grant. She's not 100% sure that's what she wants, and I'm not 100% sure I'm willing to do it, but it's looking like a possibility. She has places she wants to volunteer, and has spent a lot of time this summer with homeschooled friends who did/are doing dual enrollment. It will be a massive logistical pain in the ass for me if it goes this way, as homeschooled high schoolers who want real diplomas have to have real transcripts detailing every credit they complete, and must earn traditional grades that get averaged - otherwise, you can basically take the GED whenever you want. Between that and my not really knowing all the ins and outs of dual enrollment (credit minimums and maximums, what you have to fill out for the financial vouchers, who at the county approves it all, etc) it's fairly tedious before we get into things like me NOT wanting to have it out with her about completing work for me again, as I've gotten spoiled on that being between her and other teachers - and she "performs" for her teachers and does well as though there's no other option, unlike the endless procrastination and whining it started to be with me towards the end. And, it would mean acquiring outside help teaching her higher maths, when she has a great math teacher at her school, and that we'll be adding extra variables to daily life in the form of places she must physically get to regularly that other people aren't already going to.

I try very hard not to let things like "what is more convenient for me" play in to our choices for them. I'm not sure this is best for her on a purely "about her" level either, though. She LOVES her art teacher at school and the things she learns in his class, for instance, and the week of sleep away camp they do, and has a whole squad there that energizes her. I keep wondering how much of this is about relatively dumb shit, in the grand scheme of things, like not wanting to start getting up really early every day again, or enjoying having her hair dyed crazy colors for a couple of months and not wanting to switch back. Mostly when we talk it seems to be about a desire to have a diploma and AA sooner than she otherwise could, which, you know, why? Slow down. Enjoy your damn youth. Except that, obviously, nobody can learn to do that without hindsight. We have to decide before it's time to buy all the back to school stuff.
altarflame: (deluge)
I spent way too much of today trying to sort out a logistical hassle with the school board re: somebody's missing evaluation from 2010-2011 (their error, which has somehow suddenly become a time sensitive emergency). Sooooo many emails (with our internet connection randomly crashing every 5 minutes) and phone calls. Ugh.

I woke up Jake and Elise with surprise Starbucks breakfasts: chocolate croissants and chai tea lattes. Very out of the ordinary and well received, on this cold cold (for us) day. We sat and talked for awhile, and then looked at some old pictures together, and then they were largely left to their own devices while I dealt with the school board crap for hours.

First, they bundled up and let the chickens out in the side yard to run around under their supervision. Elise has been inexplicably terrified of our chickens for the last year or two, and normally doesn't even want to be outside if they're out, but Jake somehow reassured and coaxed her into first being near, and then touching, and then HOLDING them (they're super sweet and docile). She was very proud of herself. They came and told me someone was near our yard, and when I saw it was a neighbor and talked to her about her missing dog, they were allowed to go follow her down the road and help get the dog back while I continued pacing the deck on the phone.

Then, they played a game that involved taking turns tying and gagging each other with copious amounts of scotch tape, and a ton of hopping around the library laughing uncontrollably. I mostly grimaced and turned a blind eye to this, continuing to write emails with the occasional raised eyebrow.

After that they decided they wanted to scrub a bathroom with before and after pictures. They actually worked hard for like an hour and made a real difference on the tub, mirrors and walls. I...honestly thought it was weirder than the kidnapping game.

When they got very very quiet, I went and found them playing Minecraft in the tv room - Jake was teaching her to build different things and when/how to dodge various creatures. I love their camaraderie. I have a feeling it will not become so painfully awkward and sad as A&A's did, in the coming years, since Jake is older - Ananda hitting puberty so much sooner, as a girl, really threw a huge wedge between her and Aaron for awhile.

I love the ways that they use their time. It's days like these that make me think that, while I'm not really comfortable with it, unschooling is really a great way to grow up.

Eventually they accompanied me to pick up Isaac, drive through the bank, pick up A&A, and go to the grocery store. Dishes, dinner, bedtime reading, I am.

Tonight's dinner - which was all demolished right away - included:
-8 cloves of garlic
-basically every leaf off of an entire basil plant
-8 big tomatoes, a couple of romas, and a handful of cherry ones
-two containers of baby bella mushrooms
-about 4 heaping handfuls of kale
-two whole boxes of Orzo pasta
-a whole wedge of parmesan cheese
-"extra" stuff; several tablespoons each of olive oil and butter, half a lemon, a couple of splashes of white wine, a chicken broth cube, and salt

I used to do this regularly, but it had been awhile.

I am trying not to completely panic about how tomorrow is Isaac's birthday and thus includes things like getting up early to cook a special breakfast, making trips to pick up various things throughout the day, and spending the evening out with him and Grant... aaaaand I have a TON of homework and a test due by midnight tomorrow night :/ These things aside from Jake and Elise being home, and cleaning being way backed up, and the cold I have.

I think the key is to NOT become paralyzed by all of it and just keep moving through tasks one minute at a time. Which would be simpler if the test and homework were not math.

This is a good thing for me right now:

I have an almost finished, MEGA picture post I've been gradually editing and uploading for days, chronicling an amazing trip we took last Friday-Monday. It was really great, and I think there are going to be about 80 pictures in the damn thing when I'm done.

For now...stretching and sleep.
altarflame: (deluge)
This makes about 12 filling bowls of soup that run about 9 Weight Watchers points apiece.


-about 6 tablespoons of really good butter - spring for Kerrygold, it's worth it!
-a leek/big yellow onion/shallot (whatever you've got)
-5ish cloves of garlic
-4-5 carrots
-5ish potatoes
-some kind of sausage - I used artichoke parmesan chicken sausage, italian would be good, whatever
-about 6 cups of raw kale (it wilts down SO MUCH it's barely present by the end)
-couple of diced roma tomatoes (or one big one)
-3ish cans of beans - I used cannellini and small red beans
-10 cups of chicken broth
-water, if you feel like it (see Method)
-about 1/2 cup of white wine
-cup of cream
-salt and pepper to taste


I put my leek, garlic and carrots in the butter to sautee until they started to caramelize. Then deglazed with the wine, added the potatoes, threw in enough of the broth for them to basically braise in covered for a few minutes. At this point I was cooking sausages on the George Foreman - they could also be pan fried or just cooked in the soup, but I was taking Annie's portion out before I added meat to the pot. Following the potatoes, kale went in, and once that was about half wilted, the rest of the broth and the beans. I ended up adding about 3 cups of water somewhere in here, which worked out well. I finished the soup (off the heat) with the tomatoes, cream, salt and pepper.

I had it with the same wine I used in the soup, which happened to be this one but, you know, it probably doesn't matter which you use beyond not pouring pure vinegar in.

Everybody loved it. We had a (somewhat sophisticated, foodie of a) teenage dinner guest, but everybody in my family tore it up. I think Jake actually had fourths, but he was using a pretty small bowl :)
altarflame: (deluge)
Our lentil soup recipe (this makes about half of a big stock pot):

Sautee in a small amount of water or olive oil, all diced up small,
-half a big yellow onion
-about 6 cloves of garlic
-4 large carrots
-4 celery ribs

Then to that, add,
-either a can of tomato juice or a couple of liquified tomatoes (we use the magic bullet)
-3 or 4 chicken broth cubes and 1 or 2 beef cubes. This is your call. I'm sure vegetable broth would be fine, and obviously actual broth as opposed to cubes would also work.
-24 oz of dried lentils, which I usually get as 2 12 ounce bags
-a lot of water - I fill the stock pot until it's about 2 inches from the top

Cook that on low-medium heat, stirring now and then, until it's reduced a couple of inches and is noticeably thickened.

Really, it's unbelievably delicious, REALLY cheap, and very good for you. We like to serve it with optional parmesan cheese on top, and a big bowl of salted diced tomato and avocado that can be eaten on crackers. I think white wine is a nice touch if you're into that.

Isaac has this horrible joke book Frank got him a couple of birthdays ago, and he reads it out loud to us at the dining table sometimes. Today over tacos, random guesses at answers seemed to provide bizarre and potentially unsettling insights into my children's minds :p

Isaac: What has holes but can hold water?
Elise: Bubbles!
Isaac: What gets bigger as you take from it?
Aaron: Reading?
Isaac: What gets taken before you get it?
Jake: Innocence!

*blink blink*

I took Annie tonight, and we watched The Fault in Our Stars. Before we headed north, we went through Checkers and got cheese fries. I ate WAY too many cheese fries when I was pregnant with her, and she is aware of that and it's totally a vice and a joke of both of ours. She says very right-on things whenever she has any (which is probably twice a year), like "These are way, way too good." Basically, we get extremely excited whenever one of us reminds the other that cheese fries exist and are out there, available. May we never remember more frequently.

It was interesting seeing what was left in the movie and taken out, vs the book. Overall they did a great job, and she and I were actually the only two people in our whole theater, which was really nice on a few occassions. Twice I said something that made us both laugh a lot. One, "You're only 14 and I'm pretty sure we've already surpassed your lifetime quota of 'how many sex scenes you're supposed to watch with your parents'," and two, "oh my gosh I'm just so relieved I don't have to deal with seeing him in that suit." *sigh*

While we were out, Grant posted this on facebook:

Isaac (10): Ahhh!!! A big palmetto bug! Elise, come get it!!
Elise (7): *sigh* Where is it?... There, OK... I got it! You can come out!
Issac: Phew!

Hmm, I'm trying to think of significant things from the past week or so.

I've gotten a lot of (Weight Watchers) Activity Points. I try to accrue but not actually eat the Activity Points. I did about an hour of walking Sunday, swam laps Wednesday morning, and did jogging intervals today.

I also fell for the first time in quite awhile today, outside the grocery store, but it felt like my standard clumsy semi-annual fall, rather than the scary B-12 deficient falls I was experiencing weekly for a few months there. Off the curb and onto the parking lot. I happily realized I hadn't fallen down since January, as I looked at my skinned knee and bruised hand. It was definitely a "lost my footing/can't walk straight" thing, rather than a "my legs stopped working" thing, so...hooray?

I scored some really cheap wardrobe staples from Forever 21 plus, via mail order. Great long-enough, flattering tank tops in good colors for $4.80 apiece, and leggings for $10, with free shipping and a discount code applied on top even. Also a jumper/pantsuit thing that looks HORRIBLE, though. Maybe in another 20 or 30 pounds it will be ok - we'll see.

Also got about $300 in science equipment totally free through another homeschooling family on our email list! SO MUCH STUFF. A dissection kit and manual that Elise is far more excited about than I am, and huge cases of everything from chemicals and reactants (carefully inventoried) to a compass, iron filings, magnets, scales, microscope slides, safety goggles, rubber gloves, sterno, a big 1 1/2 volt battery, alligator clips - just so so much. We're still going through it all and trying to make plans for it.

The same family also gave us a ridiculously gorgeous silver plated candelabra, the greatest hits of Tchaikovsky, and an illustrated children's dictionary, while we were there. Because homeschoolers ;)
altarflame: (deluge)
I baked this cake, yesterday, for Shaun's birthday. I multiplied the recipe by 1.5, because I was using 9" spring form pans and had a lot of people here. I only keep turbinado/raw sugar in the house, mainly because I way prefer the slightly more maple-y taste and like thinking it's less processed on some ephemeral, unscientific level, so that is what I'm always using in all baked goods I reference. I subbed almond milk for buttermilk, which is also pretty standard around here, and grass fed irish butter for vegetable oil because yum, but also because I've read enough about causes of inflammation to not ever buy vegetable oil again as long as I live. Re: various forums around the internet, I melted the butter before I put it in.

Overall it's a really easy recipe (put all the dry ingredients in the mixer, mix them, then add all the wet ingredients slowly as you mix, then bake). I just used my standard "wingin' it" chocolate frosting (powdered sugar, cocoa powder, soft butter, vanilla extract, added in what look like the right proportions until it's frosting). I typically have a really thin layer of frosting compared to what other people are into - I'm totally grossed out by bakery frosting layers. A really thin layer of buttercream was pretty perfect for this.

It was SO GOOD. Really really good. Grant is the kind of person who usually thinks most homemade cakes are too dense/heavy, and he loved it. A couple of my kids can think things are too chocolatey (I know, I know, I've failed them utterly), and they loved it. Ananda and I want everything to be INTENSELY, darkly chocolate, and as rich as possible, and we loved it. Laura's picky kids and Shaun's health conscious girlfriend loved it! Clearly, most importantly, Shaun loved it, and took home an awful lot. This is going to enter my rotation of go-to birthday cakes.
altarflame: (deluge)
I wearily added a bunch of greens (basically baby chards and spinach) to my normal smoothie* today, like a packed in handful of them. They made it unusually ugly once blended, and instead of drinking it, at first, I was scowling at it and wondering why I would want to make my life worse with such a thing. People have enough problems, don't they - why do this to themselves, too?

Surprise surprise, somehow this is delicious! I can't even taste a difference o_O I'm so relieved I'm chugging the thing.

*Normal smoothie:

-frozen pineapple/mango chunks
-half a banana, or some berries out of the fridge
-tablespoon-ish of virgin coconut oil, or a quarter of an avocado
-couple spoonfuls of flax seed meal
-couple of tablespoons of (really good) "smoothie" style fish oil (Barlean's)
-tsp of probiotic powder
-2 tbsp+ of coconut water kefir
-B vitamin mix powder
-water necessary to turn it into a drink (not much)

I do this in the magic bullet, so it takes all of 30 seconds for it to be transformed into a fairly tasty, relatively homogeneous something once I get it all in the cup.
altarflame: (deluge)
I was really going to do the New Years pics, but then I was thinking I never posted Christmas pics, and I've just made so many yummy things this week that it started me looking back at other yummy things...I'm sure you get the idea :)

Best of eatin' in late November, December and early January )
altarflame: (deluge)

In the last 48 hours I've made and eaten:

1.) Delicious Quinoa

-boil it in broth and lemon juice
-while it cooks, cut up some good fresh tomatoes, add a bunch of frozen peas, slather that all in olive oil, salt and pepper
-optional black olives on the side or sliced in are nice

I'm the only person in this house who likes quinoa, so I got to eat it for dinner, breakfast and lunch.

2.) Kale, potato and sausage soup

This was inspired by my browsing many similar recipes. What I came up with involved onions and garlic cooking in butter and olive oil, then adding lots of diced potatoes and some salt, stirring often. Next a huge lot of ripped up kale - I really put a ton of it, it filled the stock pot before wilting down. I ended up adding about 12 cups of chicken broth, about 1/2 cup of cream, a couple of (drained) cans of chickpeas (although I pulverized half of one of the cans into a thickening liquid first), and frying sausage on the side and adding it in after I took Annie's bowl out. Really yummy and very filling, everybody loved it and got seconds except for Isaac.

3.) Brussels sprout and mushroom hash with fried eggs on top.

Recipe here. I will be making this again, possibly tomorrow morning. Grant, Ananda, Jake and I liked it a lot, and I'm used to doing some supplementary fried potatoes and/or scrambled eggs for people who aren't into my more adventurous brunch concoctions.


This week, there are the things I like in the background for hours, at home, like:

-Turnabout Jazz Soul, like this particular "Godot - The Fragrance of Dark Coffee" track

-my "Classical Christmas" Pandora station, and you can see and hear samples of thumbs-up'd tracks here, how awesome is that:

And then there are things I keep going and seeking out to hear individually, especially when I'm driving, like:


and of course

We're just coming out of a big Les Mis soundtrack phase, around here, although Annie is trying to drag it out (she's also the one who started it). Last night I kept hitting play on this:


Nov. 28th, 2013 12:34 pm
altarflame: (deluge)
I realized last night that we were relatively light (for us) on savory options - apparently, I've basically been planning a booze and dessert menu for the past two weeks. Somehow, I doubt anyone would mind that.

Anyway I am throwing together a couple of last minute, additional savory things, since I realized, such as a mushroom and sage stuffing and roasting the Neville Squash we've had on the counter all week. I had actually NOT EVEN CONSIDERED stuffing?!

So now, dinner will be:

-turkey, brined and roasted a la Alton Brown, which is really the only way I make turkey
-garlic mashed potatoes
-gravy, also a la Alton, like this
-sweet potato casserole
-green bean casserole that I've made with actual Julia Child, from scratch cream of mushroom soup this year :)
-mushroom and sage stuffing
-roasted butternut squash (I do it with a lot of butter and salt and pepper, and a tiny bit of brown sugar)
-baked brie with cranberries, pecans and honey, served with gluten free crackers
-cranberry sauce (I have a vat of it, albeit not a full on cauldron like last year)
-rolls from Knaus Berry Farm
-and Gloria's bringing these amazing brussels sprouts I adore


-Ananda's iced tea
-sparkling grape juice galore
-various hard ciders
-4 different kinds of wine


-Clementine Cakes
-raspberry and coconut macaroons
-warm pumpkin puddings ^<--All 3 (gluten free!) recipes easy to find via Smitten Kitchen with fresh whipped cream
-Knaus cinnamon rolls, that Grant and the kids stood in line for 2.5 hours to get yesterday

My house is not as clean as I wanted it to be, but it is much cleaner than it was last week and I am just not gonna worry about it beyond that. My Dad got here last night, and we stayed up telling stories while I cooked things until about 5am. Luckily I was still the one waking up all the kids at 11 (they'd stayed up with us til about 2). My nocturnal father is still sleeping :) We're planning to actually eat at around 6, so obviously the big thing to do for now was BLOG ABOUT FOOD, because Mmmmmm. It's nice, the kids are outside playing and all the doors are open with lots of wind chime noise.

I am also trying to suspend my disbelief about eating some gluten, because, you know, I have to before I go get more tests done next week. *shrug*
altarflame: (deluge)
It's an ongoing source of angst that I am not "devoted" enough to any of my kids' various extracurricular activities, and thus get all kinds of complaints and tension. For instance, just today Aaron's solo rehearsal, which was scheduled from 3-4pm, ran AN HOUR over. I don't get an explanation or an apology - I get a side eye for questioning why I've been chilling in the parking lot for so long, since none of the other parents were questioning why all the solos were running late today (apparently they all had to be judged and rated, but it was completely impromptu - like how they schedule things THE NIGHT BEFORE via 11 pm email, and I'm supposed to just "make that work" the following afternoon regularly...but worse!). The full time "dance moms" who hang out in the lobby for hours on end do a kind of, "Oh, how typical, hahaha" chuckle and that's the end of it.

Similarly, Friday evening he had to go to his solo rehearsal with no knee pads, because he lost the ones I bought him. I explained that to his choreographer, along with reassuring her that he should have them by next time since I'm making him tear the house apart until he finds them. She seriously acted like I am negligent and she was speechless, or something. Like I should just get him new knee pads every day - not like, you know, he needs to keep track of his own things and learn responsibility (this is not a safety issue like it would be in derby, they are soft comfort knee pads for sliding on, and he's already wearing sweat pants...some of the dancers choose not to use knee pads ever, but she had said he should get them).

I understand and appreciate that every single one of these programs is only possible because one or more adults is really putting in some serious hours - I even make a point of telling them how much I appreciate it - but it's not possible for me to do that with all of them...or any, really. I can get people where they need to be, and pony up whatever money and supplies they need (neither of which are insignificant obligations...), but that is really about it. I read the emails and texts that flood in, too - but I don't want to be a part of any phone chains that are being set up, and I cannot volunteer. Whatever I can possibly do drops offs and pick ups for, without hanging around DURING things as they go on, I do. We're talking about:

Annie's roller derby team
Her orchestra ensemble
Her cello mentor and fellow mentee
Her Girl Scout troop
Aaron's dance studio (which includes tons of teachers, many hours per week, and carpooling)
Isaac's (school) teachers
and cheerleading squad (which was just in the Veteran's Day parade this morning)
and clarinet teacher
Jake's violin teacher
Elise's violin teacher
And her Girl Scout troop

This does not count A&A's social gatherings, which are usually every weekend, or Isaac and Jake's playdates, like they just had Sunday. Obviously it also doesn't include appointments, like how we've been to the dentist/ortho 10 times in the last 3 months.

My phone's calendar is absolutely ridiculous. I feel like I am bending over backwards to make these things possible. I can't stand it when people act like I'm half-assing because I don't sit and preside over the bake sale table, or reply to something quickly enough. It flat out drives me crazy when people try to enforce "mandatory parent meetings" - FOR WHAT? So we can spend an hour and a half repeating ourselves about something that is also on the flyers that get handed out at the very beginning of the meeting? I just won't do it, anymore. Like if it's really mandatory that I sit through hour and a half long meetings more than annually, we just can't do whatever that activity is. I'm committed to things like cooking us real food, and spending quiet unhurried time with them one at a time in the evenings, and I'm not letting those things go in the name of whether or not some jackets should have peoples' names embroidered on them or not.

Meanwhile, plenty of parents are walking around in $150 tracksuits with the dance studio name, the cheerleading squad logo, etc on them. And I am the asshole trying not to laugh at them.

I have to pick Isaac up 15-20 minutes late from cheerleading twice a week. There is no other way he can participate, because of other things I'm running around for. He knows and is ok with this. The school is still filled with adults at that time, with other activities full of people, the office staffed, and aftercare kids playing on the playground. I have explained this to his coach, so it can be expected. Still, this woman (coach) marches him out to me, and gives me a fucking lecture about how she doesn't have time to babysit him - and every time I tell her the same thing. FOR GOD'S SAKE DON'T BABYSIT HIM, GO HOME! I say it politely. I re-explain that it will always be this time. I reiterate how a-ok I am with him being "on his own" behind the locked gate with everyone else, and that if it isn't ok he can't be a cheerleader. She makes vague ultimatum-ish statements, then gets really sweet and says she'll talk to some other people about it to work something out... and then it repeats again a few days later.

Stupid. Like how the other parents actually ASKED ME who I was on the phone with, when I stood downstairs talking on the phone instead of sitting in on Jake's and Elise's violin class a couple of weeks ago. I told them, "My Dad - he called because it's my birthday," and rather than, you know, "Oh cool" or "Happy Birthday!" I got shit like, "Oh. We were wondering where you were." and (I AM SERIOUS), "My aunt called last week but I returned the call after we left since my phone was off for class." <--My phone rang in our car on the way there, fyi, mine is always off IN THE CLASS, too. Good fucking grief people are ridiculous. It's not OUR CLASS. I don't miss MY OWN CLASSES for phone calls. Just. )(#*$ODFJIOSD*()#&$)(*

The "arthritis smoothie" I make myself every single day:

-frozen pineapple chunks
-half a banana
-tablespoon-ish of virgin coconut oil
-couple spoonfuls of flax seed meal
-couple of tablespoons of (really good) "smoothie" style fish oil (Barlean's)
-tsp of probiotic powder
-tbsp+ of coconut water kefir
-B vitamin mix powder
-water necessary to turn it into a drink (not much)

I do this in the magic bullet, so it takes all of 30 seconds for it to be transformed into a fairly tasty, relatively homogeneous something once I get it all in the cup.

In other inflammation related news, I called my rheumatologist today to see if she had the results from my blood draw Friday morning, and got a recording of a voice I've never heard saying, "Unfortunately, Dr ______ ______'s office has closed. Fax ___-____ for your medical records." There was no option to leave a message or be transferred to the answering service, as would normally have been provided on a day they were regular-closed.

Uh. Right. I mean...what? Did she die suddenly and tragically over the weekend? My last appt was last Wednesday and this was not brought up O_o This could complicate my documentation for school, and I cannot imagine how completely unbelievable it'll sound to my professors if my specialist just suddenly closed. I mean, maybe, possibly this can be a mix-up since today is a holiday, and I've just misinterpreted?

Because time is of the essence on several levels, I've already sent the fax for my records, in case it is what is seems. With one of those fax-with-email programs, because who the hell has a fax machine.

12 Things I'm thankful for, for the first 12 days of November:

11/1. the lovely cooler weather
11/2. talking to Dama on fb today
11/3. texting with Kristin, all the time
11/4. Grant's magical hands
11/5. this job that he has, that has been such a boon in so many ways - #5 being money
11/6. and health insurance that allows me free unlimited therapy
11/7. and dental that means we can all get everything we need done reasonably
11/8. and frequent flier miles/hotel points that make trips possible
11/9. AND their no doubt epic Christmas party coming up again - this time, there will be belly dancers and it's at a greek place. Aaaaand I will NOT be near-carried out in a drunken stupor this year :x
11/9. being back in regular touch with Jean-Paul
11/10. Nexxus split end binding conditioner
11/11. all the way healthier stuff BJ's has started stocking
11/12. how funny a couple of the people in my group (for our theater class) can be
altarflame: (deluge)
It's really *gag* SUMMER, now. I have to keep all my windows and doors closed again, FOR MONTHS, and worry that our chickens will die if they don't have water in the afternoon, and avoid fun outdoor activities completely between 11-3 so nobody gets burnt to a crisp by accident just playing in the yard. There are flies and mosquitoes and gnats everywhere (although to be fair, also dragonflies, purple martins and lightning bugs at night). To make this bitter pill extra hard to choke down, our van AC is not working O_O E-freakin-gads. We have missed our chance, at livable camping! I took Jake and Elise with me to get Isaac from school this afternoon and all three of them arrived home red faced and collapsed with shocked looks on their faces. I went around to each of them in turn and made them drink big cups of water. It felt like keeping my plants from shrivelling away!

A tumblr post on wage disparity between the sexes had commentary below it about how women are PARTIALLY held back naturally, by their own choice to prioritize childrearing over climbing corporate ladders; I agree with this for the most part (and think women are free to choose whatever they want). I think, though, that the tiny tiny amount of female executives doesn't match up very well with the growing numbers of childless, educated women in the workforce. I keep wondering whether anyone is officially quantifying what I see anecdotally... because what I see is a greater prevalence of LARGE families, and a greater prevalence of childless and childfree people, but less and less of the "average" 2.whatever kids per household. Maybe this is just me?

I started mentally adding up all the women I know without kids, and realized it's a big number. It's definitely MOST women I know. Lots of women in my life (feel free to skim or skip the list), like...

-all the early 20s college students I met at my FIU orientation yesterday, and talked with about our lives
-the 20+ member adult roller derby team, -2 that have kids, all 25-35
-my friends Jenny, Angie and Courtney, from teen camps, who I keep in touch with (all early 30s) along with some faces I see on facebook in similar age ranges from camp who are friends of friends
-my good friend Jess from high school, along with at least a dozen nameable acquaintances from those days in school
-my x-step-aunt Joan (40something) and my actual Aunt Michelle (50)
-my former nanny turned friend (a nanny and doula), Gloria (3...6? I think?)
-literally every rotating NICU nurse we had at 3 different hospitals O_o I think this is a weird demographic thing
-my two favorite PATH Moms' sisters (both in their 50s) and my good friend Kristin's sister, Keegan (33)
-my first english professor; this 40+ woman who was a counselor when G and I were in school and is now a fb friend; one of his middle aged female coworkers; the waittress we had on our anniversary date; the trainer at the gym where my sister worked; Alex - this list could just go on for a very long time if I kept trying to include everyone, is the point.

When I think of families I know, online and IRL, I can think of a few examples with three kids, quite a lot with four, another fiver like us, and a handful in the "really big" category (6-12). Of the ones with three, one lost a child tragically and another couple are still aspiring to many many kids but just aren't there yet. Racking my brain for examples of two child families I come up with absolutely nobody, although I did remember that I know/know of at least half a dozen with singletons.

I now regrettfully inform you I am not getting to a point. Just thinking "out loud." Please forgive me :p

Pictures are exciting, right? Food! And, our anniversary! )
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Things That I (Somehow, Barely) Accomplished Today:

-sewed a (new, otherwise awesome) bra that was starting to come apart near the clasps

-made a huge pot of curried chickpeas with jasmine rice*

-mailed a package at the PO

-went and paid a bill

-forced Annie to submit school assignments and put away clean laundry

-bare minimum, bs schooling of other kids...put Elise on Starfall, set her and Jake in front of the Neil Gaiman episode of Arthur to see it for the first time, talked to everyone about all the sharks off the coast and showed them the aerial video (we were JUST at the beach...), printed coloring pages and helped Aaron set up a SoundCloud for his FL Studio music.

-grocery shopped, alone, in slow motion

-acquired Pollo Tropical for dinner

-made everyone brush their teeth, locked doors and set alarm

-read to Jake and Elise before bed

-resized, uploaded and started making an entry out of some pictures**

-made a to-do list for tomorrow


I also managed to call, skype and text my husband and call and text my sister about how weirdly terribly sad I feel, lounge around in my bed with the doors open listening to the wind chimes, wonder idly what the fuck is wrong with me, hit snooze like 5 times in a haze in the middle of the afternoon (from napping) with no idea what day or time of day it was for a minute every time I was re-roused, and help Ananda and Aaron finish the night off right by watching Vlogbrother videos with them while we passed salted caramel gelato back and forth for an hour.

Hopefully I am just really, really sleep deprived, and will feel better soon. Yesterday was pretty good! Maybe it's PMS, maybe it's diet changes, maybe it's whatever autoimmune problem I may or may not have, blah blah blah...

*these last couple of batches are incredible. I'm sauteeing diced onion, poblano pepper and garlic in butter, then adding tons of chickpeas, some chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, salt, lots of curry powder, coconut milk and lemon juice. They cook for about a half hour and I throw in more of the coconut milk, lemon juice and curry at the end, to taste.

**4 out of 5 shown, at FIU for GMYS....

altarflame: (deluge)
For the past 48 hours or so, I've been totally out of butter and milk but had tons and tons of greek yogurt (like way too much). So, I've been doing research and experimentation. So far, I've made:

-scrambled eggs with tablespoons of greek yogurt stirred in after the first minute of cooking - they came out great (I put in some herby Mrs Dash and salt, too, when I beat the eggs)

-an Alton Brown carrot cake that calls for yogurt and oil (and I actually made cream cheese frosting without butter, too - just whipped the room temperature cream cheese with some vanilla extract and lots of powdered sugar, and threw in some shredded coconut I had in the fridge at the last moment). It isn't the best carrot cake we've ever had, but everyone likes it and it's definitely getting eaten

-cheese biscuits. There are easily google-able 3 ingredient yogurt biscuit recipes all over (though they're more like 6 ingredients for me because I had to mix up my own "self rising flour"). I just shredded some good cheddar into the dough, which is how I magically turn any biscuit recipe into a cheese biscuit recipe ;) Incidentally, those were to go along with this DRY ROASTED <--O_O chicken recipe that gets stellar reviews all over: I normally use almost a whole stick of butter to roast a chicken, between what I put under the skin and in the cavity and what I leave on top

Next: Nigella's lemon yoghurt cake, which I've made before and know we like :) I have it in her Domestic Goddess book but I'm sure it's all over the web. I think that will be for tea tomorrow.

For lunch, tomorrow, I'm making a variation on an old curried chickpea thing I've done a lot of times that adds in condensed cream soup and tomatoes. It's a little scary, but well reviewed, and I have gross canned leftovers from the holidays ;)

Before I started to see the weird surplus of things in our fridge and cabinets that we were allowing to equal "there's nothing to eat!" - when I was well stocked with that surface layer of food that gets eaten first after a trip to the store - I made Julia Child's french omelettes for the first time and THEY WERE EPIC. Omelette is, clearly, a french word, but basically a "french omelette" is just an omelette cooked briefly at high temperatures in a lot of butter, rather than for awhile at medium temperatures on, you know, PAM or something. I upped the ante by seasoning them with herbs and filling them with brie and mushrooms I'd pre-browned. Ananda, Jake and I each tore one up, and I used the same basic formula to make "french scrambled eggs" for Aaron and Isaac (Elise claims to hate eggs for the last few months).
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
This has been largely a day of recovering from a crazily busy and sleep-deprived week; Grant's spent most of the afternoon napping after handling some work emails this morning. I've got the remnants of an awful head cold/sinus infection/whatever it is I'm ready for it to be over, and aside from a half hour of budgeting I slept the whole morning away and spent the afternoon texting and reading fanfiction.

I'm really grateful for downtime when it comes. Ananda and Aaron are at Cybele's with a bunch of other friends from noon yesterday until noon tomorrow, and I periodically get emailed a water balloon fight video or picture of them over breakfast, laughing. Isaac, Jake and Elise have either been playing hilariously silly games a couple of rooms over or jumping on the trampoline, most of the day. So I can sniffle and rub my temples and eat a lot of sliced tomatoes on crackers in peace knowing everybody's doing well, while Grant snores softly in the background.

It's actually kinda great.

Aaaaanyway, the other night I realized I have a ton of pictures from this summer that I never posted. At least not here - a few of them may have ended up on tumblr or facebook. So, here they are all gonna be, behind a cut:

47 pictures from this Summer 2012 )
altarflame: (Default)
Today turned out not to be a total bust, despite my being a bleary eyed mess and then taking a necessary nap.

The little kids got to camp, breakfast eaten, lunches packed, wearing clean clothes, and with instruments and folders in tow.

I mailed belated birthday cards to my Nana and brother, and a postcard to my friend who is still waiting on the Epic-est Letter of all Time. This was all bleary eyed. Then nap.

Then Aaron and I had about an hour and a half of really good, continuing talk about ideas that just keep stringing together...the other night this began with a discussion on the Anais Nin quote, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are", along with the concept of curiosity before judgement. Today this somehow led into the placebo effect, and self fulfilling prophecies, and finally the evolution in how our culture handles dead bodies and the myriad options open to people for what they wish to be done with their own bodies (which Ananda joined us for).

This was also the 6th time in the last few months that I've made contact with Dr Geraldi re: Aaron's persistently swollen glands and constant low level sickness. We just talked today; there have been 3 office visits and other phone conversations. He's referring us out to infectious disease at Miami Children's Hospital - doc is thinking mono, which makes an awful lot of sense and could conceivably have been picked up during some kind of gross sharing of wind instruments (Aaron plays flute with GMYS).

Several emails later, the chair of math is going to be working out my Statistics grade at the beginning of the fall semester, so I signed up to take the class again just in case. He sounds like he'll have the situation worked out to where my grade is raised and I can drop the repeat class in the first week without penalty, but it will be there in case. My understanding is that my teacher is impossible to reach on vacation or something.

I need a different book for that repeat course, so I went and sold my old one back.

I also talked to someone at Florida Virtual Schools about the forms I have to turn in for Ananda and Aaron as homeschoolers, and to someone at the charter school about the uniforms Isaac and Elise need.

And I had a really fabulous lunch, involving french bread I browned in a pan of melted butter, bacon, avocado and tomato. Please feel free to peruse Ananda's and my fabulous dinner from last night, here (pictures are clickable, albeit camera phone quality), and the ridiculously fulfilling splendour that is my bathroom, here. It's the little things ;)

Grant is out of state for work and, as usual, I find my web activity expands without another adult about the place in the evenings.

Last night I did have a half hour talk in our front yard with our (very, very nice) plumber neighbor, about the small leak that persists despite all he's done...somewhere (based on the meter continuing to spin). He'll be back some evening this week to investigate further, which has given me the opportunity to clear a path through our laundry room to the water heater.

And, Ananda and I watched Julie and Julia last night, after everyone else was in bed, which was inspired in part by these drool-worthy and luscious tumblr posts:
Boef Bourgignon
Chocolate Mousse
French Onion Soup

Hence, our dinner.

I've already decided Julia's old PBS shows (along with Carl Sagan's Cosmos) are gonna be part of our homeschool year - AND DID YOU KNOW that Cosmos is coming back on the air, but will now be hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson??

This is getting disjointed, but it's cool to me to think of these Food Network kids seeing how it all started.

I will leave you now with two great videos from these wonderful little boys, who are growing and changing so much and are really not so "little" at all anymore.

Jake "cooking" last week - could use some editing, but I was impressed. It was one shot, no input from me, his idea. He's kind of a natural:

Isaac playing the recorder very well, albeit for just a short while, this afternoon:

He's getting ready for the performance at the end of their camp in a couple of days :)
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That soup was awesome! I've been eating it here and there for the last couple of days. To everyone who pointed it out or thought it, no, chicken broth is not vegan :p Use vegan broth and it'll be vegan, honestly people you know what I mean ;)

I've been thinking a lot lately about how mom's identify, or don't identify, or feel obligated to identify, primarily as moms. This is another area - like politics and religion and many other things - where I sort of fall through the cracks between most peoples' comfort zones, into a sort of no man's land all my own where nobody really agrees with me. I think? Maybe lots of you agree with me! Perhaps we'll see.

Because I think it's important to at least try to do what is ideal and not just ok for my kids whenever possible, I typically end up hanging out (online and IRL) with a lot of extremely dedicated mothers - attachment parents and homeschoolers, primarily: people who have made parenting a huge dominant part of their life. Most people would say I've made parenting a huge dominant part of my life, some just because I've got five kids. And it is big!

But I really can't imagine feeling like a mom is who I am. It's one of the things that I am, obviously, and it's a large part of what I do, but I know so many people who go around online as "SoAndSo'sMom" or "Mommyofxnumber" and I feel like I could never do that. I drive a minivan because it's practical and that doesn't bother me one bit, I thought people in booju years ago who said they would never put an Honor Roll type bumper sticker on their car were really immature because that's just to show your kids you're proud, it isn't about ruining your stupid IMAGE - but to self-identify as a parent, as your NAME, in contexts that often have nothing to do with the not something I would naturally do, personally. To me that sort of thing is stepping outside of benefiting the kids and into a vacuum where your own life is over since you attend to other peoples', now.

There are so many women whose facebook bios and blog "about me"s JUST say that they're a parent to whatever kids, with and without agenda (I'm a breastfeeding mama, I'm a natural parent). Some of that is the search for solidarity in a society that doesn't exactly validate those agendas, I get that - but I was disappointed early on by how infrequently things worked out when I sought out relationships with other "crunchy parents" primarily based on them also being crunchy parents. The moms I've stayed friends with are women I love for themselves, who incidentally happen to have or not have kids.

I'm not judging anyone, at least most of the time, but I do feel isolated at times within parenting circles. My friend Karen - who I love! - is really put out that 3 of her 4 (normally homeschooled) kids are gone for most of the day all summer at various activities, and makes a lot of half-serious jokes about crying into her tea alone about it. I hear her out, but I'm so happy for my kids having great things to do and am SO RELIEVED to not have it ALL on me for awhile. I'm "good at them," I didn't even really anticipate that relief - but it's there now, in a big way. It FEELS like summer vacation for me, too, even though I'm actually doing as much or more than usual. Pressure is off.

I do not relate to the terror that kids will one day move out, at all. I'm having a great time with my kids, but I think in my mind part of that might be contingent on how fleeting it all is. Things would feel very differently if they were eternal and kids were not growing and changing.

If I wanted a stranger to know things about me, I'd probably say, "I'm a writer, and a mother to a lot of kids, and a student" or something like that. Because I lived for 17 years before any of this motherhood business started, and I'll only be 43 when Elise is a legal adult. I have a lot of plans for those post-kid decades, and I'm not talking about grandchildren (though that is a really cool concept should it happen).

Anyway, yeah, first world problems for me and all that, but people really tend to either be at one end of this spectrum (making me almost uncomfortable with how UN-engaged they are as parents, talking about how burdened they are by very small kids right in earshot of the kids, doing the bare ass minimum at all times to keep a baby alive) or the other (sad and lonely when kids go on a sleepover, acting like every milestone is a tragedy).

Perhaps because I'm really, sincerely thrilled with how each of my individual kids is turning out, and just so damned proud of every one of them for where they're at right now, in such a giddy and amazed way - I do not think they grow up too fast*.

Isaac, Jake, Elise and I have been doing a lot of fun outings and having adventures while A&A are at camp. That will switch to adventures with A&A, when the littles are at their camp. I'll probably do a big update and pic post about this soon :)

For now, I've been up early on a rainy Saturday morning studying for a Statistics exam I'm about to go take for quite awhile, and I ain't even mad.

*I have felt like they grow up too fast as a postpartum mom with rapidly changing babies. And I have cried over old baby clothes several times in my life. Clearly I'm in a different phase of life now, so if you have infants just disregard this entry completely.
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I am working on a creamy mushroom soup that is ultra-healthy, vegan, etc. So far what I've put in the stock pot is:

-2 yellow onions
-red and orange bell peppers
-many cloves of garlic
-3 cans of chickpeas
-a can of black beans (both drained)

All pureed in the magic bullet with small amounts of water added to each run-through. I'm filling the pot up the rest of the way with chicken broth after all that boils for a few minutes and then simmers for a bit. Then I'm adding tons and tons of mushrooms and cooking it just a bit. Then I'm eating it.

I'll report back.


Feb. 7th, 2012 12:01 am
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So now that I've been at it for a bit and it's remaining something I feel good about, I'm "coming out" as a for health, for now, flexible-ish vegan. I don't like sabotaging myself by spreading the word about weight loss efforts that fail. This is a weight loss and digestive health and overall health effort...meat and dairy both make my whole entrapped hernia thing way more uncomfortable, dairy in general makes it like I have a cold and am itchy all over all the time. And both of those things (along with many other things) make me continually get fatter. So. This is my indefinite experiment.

So far it's working out really well and is almost shockingly easy (especially compared to the strict rigidity of Eat to Live). I have coconut ice cream in the freezer and coconut milk and creamer in the fridge, and dark chocolate is hidden in a closet. Neither coffee nor alcohol contain animal products of any kind ;) I will continue to consume honey, to eat animals at holidays and special occasions, and to not be hard to accommodate when I'm someone's guest.

The rest of the family is still eating whatever they want, though I feel this is only having a positive effect on what my kids eat.

Anyway, this has been about a week and a half now and I've already lost 5 pounds. I'm also "going to the bathroom" at least 5 times as much as I was before...frequency and quantity, good grief, I mean damn. It makes me feel SO MUCH LESS freaked about my hernia! Constant reassurance that I am nowhere near needing emergency surgery ;) Really, though.

And, I'm kind of shocked by how much LESS I'm eating. I mean I'm not putting any restrictions on myself at all as far as how often or much I eat, and I think it's still probably more than most people eat. And sometimes reactionary/not hunger's just ending up being a lot less. Because it's more filling stuff? Because it's more nutritionally dense so my body wants less? Maybe both? Or maybe there aren't as many rich things to entice me ;) Sort of irrelevant.

I'm posting all that because I want to write about my menu plans re: tonight's grocery shopping. I'm psyched! I've been eating a lot of standard fare of ours, like kale and bean soup, salads, fruit, chips and salsa, curried chickpeas with brown rice, lentils, carrots and peanut butter, and oatmeal. But I've decided to branch out based on some experiments I've done, recipes I've looked up and things I've had out places. Some of the things I'm planning to do include:

-quinoa with a bunch of little sauteed junk thrown in, i.e., corn, peas, diced red and green bell pepper, onions, garlic and black olives
-coconut curry of onions, carrots, celery, broccoli and who knows what else, with rice
-sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with green chile sauce on top
-cauliflower tacos

I'm also mixing salsa into hummus because I'm weird like that, and bringing back the old but good waheni and wild rice mix that's loaded with mushrooms and cooked in broth that I used to make all the time. And non-dairy risotto full of mushrooms and almond slivers.

I am soy-phobic in addition to having a legitimate nasty reaction to concentrated soy protein, and Elise is out and out allergic, so standard "vegan alternatives" and manufactured fake foods don't work (or appeal, honestly). I've been doing some (non-protein) Odwalla bars and toasted edamame here and there and things like that seem to agree with me ok, as does soy sauce as a condiment. Also taking B12 every day, and I use nutritional yeast which has it.

Very much kicking around making this a permanent change. A real lifestyle change is what I need, and if I am not in a position to really alter my trigger-y and emotional eating, I can at least make sure I'm eating way better stuff. It's green and factory farming is horrifically disgusting. I've gone through weird meat aversions before and not eaten dairy for months at a time since I know it messes with me - it seems doable in many ways and much less restrictive than stopping to add up every calorie on Weight Watchers or stick to some precise very difficult formula with ETL.

I am totally reserving my right to watch Earthlings if I start to slip up too often, because I've been avoiding that, knowing it will ruin meat and cheese for me, like, forever.

I also think I found the place I'd like to get my surgery done when the time comes. It's in freakin' NYC, but having spent a week there that seems a lot more doable than it did when New York was like the moon to me. If I can go to Boston for months to have a baby, I can spend a week in New York for a surgery, right? It's not like it's happening tomorrow. They cater to and specialize in hispanic women, meaning this body type and this skin type. The galleries are SO much more things I can relate to (and would desire) than typical plastic surgery before and after galleries, I mean, gah. So while I don't feel GOOD about it...I feel better than I have.

It's interesting, not living in denial about my body. I have the peace that comes from accepting that I'm a work in progress and the hope that comes from knowing I'm doing things differently. But those are mixed in with the soul killing sight of myself as I actually am, rather than my standard idealized version. Don't get me wrong, I think in many ways I still have more confidence in my looks than many women do...but it's a whole hell of a lot less than I typically would. Being present in my own skin to experience my back aches and foot pain and hip weirdness is as jarring as looking in the mirror honestly is.

Also - I realize I'm "supposed" to be against street harassment, but damned if it isn't exactly the boost I need sometimes when men are telling me I'm beautiful or asking if I'll stop and talk as I ride by on my bike.
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Yesterday I took Annie with me to class. Everyone assumed she was like 17, including the 16 year old there for dual enrollment. She sat behind me and continued with the book she's writing while I took my final, and then I took her and her duffle bag up to Cybele's where she staying for 4 days. She, Adrian and Sophia want to get their Future City project ready for submission later this month. I was like, did you remember your iPod and book (because she needs them when she can't sleep and everyone else is out)? And your deodorant (because she has serious BO now and doesn't always remember)? And x, y and z? She said, "I even accounted for the crazy weather Mom, I have a bathingsuit and a sweater." They're going to see the toned down, PG-13 live showing of Avenue Q on Tuesday, before meeting us at TLC.

As I left, her and Adrian were walking off down the street after their family dog that always escapes. Adrian is now taller than me, and she's like an inch shy of my height. And totally at ease, talking and laughing and gesturing.

Grant gave blood for the first time last weekend. I think about giving blood a lot because I received a life saving transfusion in 2007. I figure I should wait until Elise is weaned and make sure it's nowhere near my already-dangerous periods if I do. Apparently I'm also prohibited because I got a piercing in the past year, AND because of said transfusion. The guy said if I had a rare blood type they sometimes overlook transfusions due to need, but I'm AB+.

I don't get this. I really don't. 1. They test the damned blood. 2. There is a blood shortage. 3. The dude even told me they give HIV+ blood to HIV+ people, so there is a need for all blood. I mean...(re: the questionnaire) NO GAY MEN CAN EVER GIVE BLOOD?!?! I am straight up horrified by this. No pun intended :p Truly what is that even about? How can that stand? This is not 1985. I mean, why can women who have had sex with men who have been who knows where give blood, but not men? Peoples lives are at stake, here. This is gross. As a person who would have died without donated blood, it's just gross.

I was thinking about Ananda's various dyslexic "breakthroughs". Based on my reading and my observation of her, I think she is pretty severely dyslexic. She had the speech delays, the stuttering, selective mutism with trauma - words have just not naturally been a part of her thought process at all. And her extreme intelligence and artistic abilities - I think she's traditionally moved things around, mentally, for understanding A LOT. But there have been all these sudden, relatively spontaneous breakthroughs. When she could suddenly read (WELL) at 8. About a year and a half ago she quit writing numerals backwards, which was huge. About 6 months later, place values stopped being hard for her (that had seemed insurmountable for awhile!). For the past 6 months, she doesn't hate writing anymore. She writes A LOT - her creative writing assignments but also secret diary entries and stories she writes for herself and this book she's doing. It's crazy to behold...she writes with a very impressive vocabulary, clever phrasing, good ideas, and NO SPELLING ABILITY WHATSOEVER. A sample:

"She had ben wighting for a fish to come clos enof to cech for awal." (she had been waiting for a fish to come close enough to catch for awhile)

I don't do any correcting of her creative or independent writing (she does have grammar assignments that get corrected, and she understands that her spelling is crazy). I'm just astounded that she's doing it voluntarily. Sometimes pages and pages in a day. It's ridiculous when she's texting - "How do you spell 'was'? 'Will'? What about 'later'?" From the girl who's burned through The Hunger Games at about a book per day.

I feel very, very good about choosing to homeschool her and how she's doing.

Gloria and LJ came by last night. We threw together a pretty fucking awesome impromptu dinner for company - Grant tenderized and marinated skirt steak and chopped a giant bowl of pico de gallo while the grill heated up. He made a REALLY GOOD pitcher of sangria* for the grownups and I made a big jug of Arnold Palmer** for the kids.

I don't know if it's previously come out (haha...ha...ha) but Gloria is a lesbian and Lj is a born female who identifies as a male but doesn't like the trans label (I'm sorry if I totally blew that, Lj...). Anyway I'm mentioning it here because I responded to a freecycle ad for free books and when I went to get them there were, in addition to mysteries and classics and self help, DOZENS UPON DOZENS of gay/trans/genre erotica collections. Bags and bags of, like, "bears" and biker boys and, uh, I honestly didn't know steampunk porn existed? What? So yeah we passed on quite a lot of that :p

Today, I covered some posterboard in black felt I had lying around from a bee costume of some Halloween past (along with yellow for a star), and then cut out a Christmas tree from some green felt I bought for a caterpillar costume, and a bunch of ornaments from red that contributed to a ladybug. Now we have a big Christmas tree feltboard the kids can decorate :) Aaron came up with the idea to paint white stripes on red candy canes and I sewed some little black hooks onto the ball ornaments.

I've also been working on Annie's quilt top (since she's not here) and made some scones we had tea with outside.

*Almost a full bottle of red wine, with a few glugs of rum, half a small bottle of pomegranate juice, couple of splashes of oj, single serving bottle of Sierra Mist, and slices of lemon and oranges floating about.

**Juice of about 10 huge lemons, to which I added a kettle with 8 cups of hot water, 7 bags worth of steeped english breakfast tea, and almost 2 cups of sugar. Added water and ice til it was almost 2 gallons. Came out super yummy.

These two are months old, but I like them :)

Mostly because of Aaron peaking:

And because this is what happens to Elise most every day she gets home from preschool:

More recently - this is how people around here were dressed last week because it got down into the 70s. I'm not kidding, at all. It was 79 as a high, and no wind.

When I dropped Elise off at in shorts and a tshirt, her teacher (in a sweater, in the heated stuffy classroom) said "You guys must be snowbirds!!"

In the blood mobile.

He hates having his picture taken, lately.

So making this for Christmas.

Snuck and took this.

The guitars have been out a lot more lately. Ananda can suddenly read tab? And her and Aaron both want banjos, and they have jam sessions and play Nirvana songs they learned from Rock Band.

Terrible picture of Cybele, but her SHIRT!!

The seemingly brainless cat Elise's tortures daily, and Aaron's highlighter yellow cast.

After tea a few days ago, Elise fell asleep on Ananda's lap, out on the deck. Awhile later I came in for something, and then went back out to see if Annie needed help with her. They were gone. I found them in the library - Annie just carried her in and let her keep sleeping ♥
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This is how I spent about 4 hours last night:

Me knitting (Annie's sweater back) with my feet up.

Laura across from me, talking (or listening). That's her house with all the butterflies, and my purse with all the skulls on it ;) Seriously though I think I can see like 30 butterflies right in this shot, geez.

I suppose there were breaks to eat. It's so great that her (born, haha) children go to sleep early and stay there on their own now :)

Best conversation excerpt:

Me: Elise has been wanting to nurse 2-3 times per day for the first time in like a year and a half! It's like she's totally happy with and at school, but is compensating for all this independence by finding a way to cling and feel connected when she can.
Her: If Brian came home from preschool and asked for a titty, I'd punch him in the face.

Step by Step Cooking Photos for Kale and Bean Soup and Upside Down Mango Rum Cake )

Isaac's clay creations:

He harvested the little springs from a pen.

Jake drew these two - this one has the sun, start, earth (green and blue), Mars (red), the moon (?) and Saturn (with rings, of course).

"Someone about to go upstairs to bed".

One of these things is not like the other... Can you spot MY bike on the rack at school??? The big stupid beach cruiser handle bars won't fit through the openings on bike racks, I have to lay it down like that to lock it up. Aaron let me borrow his chain.

Last week, a bus mowed over a bus stop. Luckily nobody was there waiting for the bus, though that makes it even more bizarre that the bus would have been veering so (extremely) close to it. I was in the stopped traffic waiting as they towed the bus away o_O

Ananda and Aaron coming out of ArtSouth. That skull on his shirt is made of music notes, and it's his flute he's carrying.

The two of them have become annoyingly obsessed with the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and 50,000 plays later, Aaron can play "Concerning Hobbits" on the flute. It kind of bends my brain that listening to it on a piccolo, he had to figure out how to do it on the piano in order to learn it for flute. She's carring Xanth book #1, A Spell for Chameleon, which is great because Grant and I read Xanth in middle school and I remember that book! Piers Anthony is apparently working on the 35th and 36th now. (Reason #eleventybillion that I'm old)

I am apparently never going to have the time or ability to write more than this in one sitting, today. Four hours cleaning and scrubbing, one front porch conversation with a neighbor about an altercation between HIS KID AND BOB OMG BOB IS A FREAKING ADULT, and the random distractions of all my children later...this is the end of this entry!

May 2017

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