Thursday, September 30, 2010

Raising Children

Raising Children, by Anna Quindlen

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief.

I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast.Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon, and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages, dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, and finally what the women on the playground, and the well-meaning relations — well what they taught me was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything.

One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.

I remember 15 years ago pouring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made.They have all been enshrined in the “Remember-When-Mom-Did ” Hall of Fame.The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs.The times the baby fell off the bed.The times I arrived late for preschool pickup.The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp.The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, “What did you get wrong?” (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night.

I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top.

And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me awhile to figure out who the experts were.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A year older

I celebrated my 27th birthday last week and I'm just finding the time to post some pictures. My day started with a husband-made breakfast, a hour long massage at a spa in Old Town, lunch from Panera, a simple cake made by me and the babies, and dinner with the husband at Mt. Vernon.

Links I'm Loving

The Homebirth Advantage

Why cavemen were better parents than we are today

Make real food relevant to kids

What's wrong with our food system...according to an 11 year old

The song I can't get enough of right now

Teaching peace to small children

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Fall!

It's official, my favorite season is here! Here is how we are celebrating the change of weather.

We decorated the house...

The boy and I made granola yesterday to enjoy for breakfast this morning...

Raw Pumpkin Spice Granola
this makes a fairly small batch, will be doubling next time

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup buckwheat
1/4 rounded cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 rounded cup whole raw almonds
1/4 scant cup flax seeds

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 small chopped apple, optional

Put all of the dry ingredients into a food processor (you could use a hand chopper if you don't have a processor). Pulse a few times, until you reach desired chunkiness. Wisk wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and chopped apple, mix well. Lay granola out onto dehydrator trays lined with wax paper. Dehydrate for a couple hours, stir, dehydrate a couple more hours. Store in an airtight container.

I hate to brag, but this granola turned out amazing. It has won the title for the best granola I've ever had!

We made a perfect fall breakfast...

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Fall Oats

3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill 8 grain cereal
2 cups water
1 banana, sliced
1/4-1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
couple glugs of maple syrup
2 tbsp peanut butter, soft
pumpkin spice granola, recipe above

Combine oats, cereal, water and banana. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 5-7 minutes. Add pumpkin and let it heat through. Add maple syrup, stir. Put into bowls and garnish with peanut butter and granola.

We spent the afternoon outside cleaning up the garden...

We had a fun day cozying up the house, reading seasonal books, and playing outside in the gorgeous weather. The day ended with a simple, warming dinner....

Roasted red potatoes, carrots and brussels sprouts. Served alongside some quinoa cooked in fresh chicken broth.

Enjoy the colors, enjoy the weather, enjoy the smells, enjoy this fall season!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy International Day of Peace!

World peace begins at home

Rustic Raw Apple Pie

Rustic Raw Apple Pie
recipe adapted from Raw Food

1 1/4 cup almonds (I used a mixture of almonds and walnuts)
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
5 dates, pitted
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 large or 2 small apples, cored and skin on
1 banana
2 dates, pitted
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 or 3 apples, slices thin

1. Finely chop the nuts in a food processor.
2. Add the oil, dates, and spices. Mix
3. Add the honey, and mix to form a dough.
4. Spread the dough out in your pie dish.
5. Puree your filling ingredients in a blender. Pour into pie crust.
6. Top with apples and a pinch of nutmeg.
7. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for a couple hours, until it's warm and the apples soften. This is optional, but it makes the pie warm and cozy, just like it should be.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Using up the last of the summer veggies

Cook Once, Eat Three Times Ratatouille

1 large eggplant
1 large zucchini
1 large yellow summer squash
1/2 yellow onion
1 tsp Italian seasoning, optional
3 garlic cloves, minched
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes or 3 fresh tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil

Chop all veggies into bite-size chunks. Throw everything in the crockpot and mix it together. Cook on low for 5-7 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

Night 1: Serve ratatouille over brown rice pasta with a big side salad.

Night 2: Cook a chicken in the crockpot during the day. Serve next to the leftover ratatouille and pasta.

Night 3: Ratatouille pizza. Make your pizza crust (I use this one), top with pasta sauce, ratatouille and some cheese if you want. Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 375. Serve with salad.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I know this is a food blog, but I saw this and couldn't help but share. I'm just as passionate about homebirth as I am good food. This is one of the most wonderful birthing videos I've seen. It shows how beautiful and calm birth can be.

Click the link
Click on "our work"
Click on the video at in the top right corner

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Emotion of Eating

What else are you swallowing with your meal?

What do you think of when you see this picture? How does it make you feel? Who does it connect you to? Where did this food come from? Who has handled it? Was it made with love and thanksgiving?

With the rise of industrial food, we have become more and more disconnected from our meals. Other than loads of chemicals, fillers, toxins, altered fats, refined carbohydrates, and high fructose corn syrup, what else are we ingesting?


What about this picture? What kind of emotion does this provoke in you? For me it is warmth, connection, and healing.

Warmth - Homemade food is full of warmth and love. Food just tastes better when it's been made with loving hands.

Connection - By eating local and seasonal, you can connect with the earth in a very intimate way. You get a variety in taste and in nutrition. Just think of a crisp cucumber from the garden in August, and of a comforting pumpkin in November. How beautifully the earth produces foods that are perfect for our bodies in the different seasons. By eating at home and with local ingredients you can also connect with those that grow your food. You can know the land and the hands that your food has been in. I just can't say the same thing for McDonalds. Can you?

Healing - Everytime we sit down for a meal we are making a choice. One step closer to health, or one step away. Healthy, homemade food brings us healing in so many more ways than one. Food like that can bring families together after a long day to recconnect. It can comfort and uplift. Food is healing to the body and the soul.

Food is not just food. Food is celebration, beauty, joy, and health.

Sit down. Breath. Light a candle. Enjoy laughter and a warm meal with your family. Feed your body and your soul.

september 9