Archive | May, 2012

Meeting the Farmers

31 May

I have always been a fan of farmer’s markets. I mean, how wonderful to actually meet some of the people who grow your food? But I have a confession to make. I don’t often attend them.

Here’s where life with two kids under 3 starts to interfere with your wants and desires (and no, I don’t mean those wants and desires, get your head out of the gutter, geez). I would love to be that parent who happily straps their kids in the bike trailer and sprints away to pick out their fresh veggies and fruits but frankly at this point I would rather walk over hot lava. Coordinating it all seems so damn daunting. Inevitably, one of my bike tires is always flat or someone needs snacks or has shit his pants all of which adds minutes to departure time. Time is crucial is outings like these has we usually only have about a 2 hour window before someone needs a nap or a meal. Plus the actual timing of the markets never seem to work out. Weekend markets are almost entirely off the map because we are usually out of town and weekday markets tend to be right smack in the middle of nap times or the dreaded meltdown hour so dragging two cranky kids across town just isn’t high on my list of “to do’s.”

So that is my laundry list of excuses. Still think I am lazy no good mother who can’t buck up and get her kids to experience the joys of food foraging? Me too. But this all may change now that we experienced Colinwood Farm carrots this past weekend. After almost a week of traveling across country for me and many long child-hours logged in for my husband, we decided to forgo the annual camping trip we make with a large group of friends and kick it in the city for the long holiday weekend. Our neighborhood farmer’s market is quite famous and usually just teeming with people which is another reason I have a habit of avoiding it with two young kids. But with partly cloudy skies and most of the city out of town, we decided to succumb and head down. Boy oh boy was it worth it!

My daughter picked out the first container of strawberries I have seen (grown locally, not the steroid ones in the grocery stores) and some exquisite carrots. Now, the girl is good at picking out the veggies but only so-so in the eating part. But, let me tell you, after a little sauteing in some coconut oil with a dash of honey, even my daughter who has never ever met a carrot she liked (even as an infant she would spit out the pureed kind), gobbled them up in an instant. They were sweet and had so much flavor. A trek through the throngs of people may be in order for another bunch or two of these tasty little guys.


Blooming Garden…Spring Has Sprung

30 May

I know in some parts of the country Spring sprung many many weeks ago but here in Seattle Spring can be very indecisive. Snow in April is not unheard of but either is 70 degrees in early May. She usually brings plenty of rain and little dabs of sun but this year we have seen more sun with just the perfect amount of the wet stuff. My garden is in full swing. If little fingers can resist picking green berries and hard figs, I think we will have plenty of goodness to gobble up later this summer.

Kale and a random assortment of lettuces, spinach and anything else my daughter decided to throw in the mix

Strawberries…cannot wait for these

itty bitty basil

string bean and snap pea teepees

cilantro. for a great tip at making your cilantro last look here.

As summer brings us our bounty I will give you more of a tour of our yard…we had to sadly cut down a 60 year old cedar tree a few weeks ago (it was dangerously leaning and we were told by the professionals that it was indeed a hazard tree meaning it has to come down now before it falls on your neighbors house) so portions of our yard are still under general construction. We don’t have a very large yard but we have managed to pack in plenty of veggies and fruits thanks to some permaculture design help from my sister. All in all we are growing: pears, plums, hardy kiwis, blueberries, a wide assortment of herbs, strawberries, a variety of greens, snap peas, string beans, carrots, fennel, grapes, tomatoes, figs, and raspberries. We like to get our money’s worth.

The Confidence Game

30 May

The Huffington Post is a great resource for well-written pieces about parenthood. They recently asked mothers to share some stories and insights about why you are a GOOD mother. Here is mine:

One of the good things I do as a mother is often the one that I get the most raised eyebrows for and the most sideway glances. You see, I let my kids get dirty.

Now let me be precise. I am not talking a little water on your shoe from splashing in a puddle or some remnants of blueberries left on your face. No, I am talking about letting my kid stand under a fountain in the water park across from the library wearing all of his clothes. He looked like he got dunked in the ocean. I got plenty of looks for that one – more so from the library patrons who were undoubtedly hoping we were not planning on browsing books that day. Or rolling around in the dusty paths at the lake wearing only underwear and sandals– you could barely make out my daughter’s true skin color.

I cannot remember when this started – if it was a conscious decision to let them be wild and free or if I just threw in the towel after pointless pleas for cleanliness. One thing I am certain about though is that getting grubby never ceases to bring a shrill of laughter from my children and that, my friends, lets me know I am doing a good job.

Beaming smiles always have a way of moving you to bend the rules a little bit and dirty smiles are no exception. In this respect, my children have taught me that true bliss may come from the simple act of total uninhibited mess making. I mean think about it, how awesome do you feel after baking up a storm in your kitchen or letting loose with the painting supplies? If you didn’t have the experience to know that messes mean hefty cleanup time, you would probably relish in it even longer. Luckily, ordering a bath or dunk in the pool is by no means seen as a drawback to the getting messy process – it may even be a part of its appeal.

The beauty behind this activity is that is requires very little in terms of forethought. You can wake up after a night of fitful sleep, drink little to no caffeine and still have that magic card to draw upon. Aside from bringing a change of clothes everywhere you go – you just never know when an opportunity for filthy exploration will pop up hence the very wet boy across from the library – all you need is a little water and a dusty corner and you just bought yourself at least twenty minutes of sheer delight from your little munchkins.

Joy, laughter and smiles are all I need to know that this mama is doing something right. So stare away my fellow park-goers – we have come to stomp in the pond guck, roll down the muddy hills and dig in the wooded peripheries. And we shall giggle all the way home.

A Home in the Country

28 May

Family Profiles: The Quilcene Home

Who lives in your home?
John, our daughter Mesa and me
Why did you choose to live in the country?

The air is clean, being close to so many trees makes me feel happy and healthy. I feels healthy to be away from the city, closer to fresh food. I wanted to try homesteading and there was a community here of other people my age doing the same thing.
We enjoy the small town friendliness that people often convey. We wanted to have enough space to grow our own food, have clean dirt for that, too. Maybe have some animals.

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For the Love of Community

4 May

Where did our sense of community go?

I check outside my window before grabbing my mail to make sure my next-door neighbor isn’t sitting in her car smoking for fear of getting sucked into a converstaion. How bad is that? I know only a handful of our neighbors (our favorite ones sadly moved to another part of the city) and for some reason, I don’t mind it. This is weird considering I loved growing up in a tight-knit community. We lived on an island where everyone knew everyone – you knew the lady at the grocery store, your best friend’s mom knew that Sally got her hair cut yesterday (ok, that part was a little annoying) and you always ran in to someone you knew on the ferry or in town. I really liked that sense of belonging to something greater than yourself.

Now I live in the city where, yes, I run into people I know quite frequently, but obviously there isn’t a sense of shared community like there was on the island. And I’m not certain that if I moved to the country I’d find that same oneness – times have changed. People seem to be more interested in their own self-interests more than ever. Being a stay at home mom has made this more obvious – it is a lonely profession. You really need to put yourself out there to make new friends and new connections. Just because you are a mom doesn’t assure your automatic inclusion into some mom club or what have you. You have to work for those connections lady.

In Judith Warner’s Perfect Madness, she touches on how our society has delved inwards and stepped away from the help of community. She went from raising her children in France, where the community took care of new moms to Washington DC, where you took care of yourself. She says, “I put my elder daughter in DC public school and watched the light in her eyes go dim. I did not have a pediatrician available for human contact in an emergency. I felt like all the responsibility for my daughter’s care, health, and education resided within our family. Often enough, it seemed to rest on my shoulders alone. I knew what had worked for me in France. It wasn’t just that I had access to a slew of government-run or -subsidized support services; it was also that I’d had a whole unofficial network of people to help and support me – materially and emotionally – as I navigated the new world of motherhood.”
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Monkey See, Monkey Do

3 May

My daughter has always had a knack for eavesdropping and repeating anything and everything she hears. Toddlers are good at eavesdropping. They are quite stealth actually – there they sit, minding their own business, deep in play but all the while listening for any new word or catch phase they can use as their own. You go along with your conversation, taking note that the kids are minding you no attention what-so-ever – so you may drop a few swear words to make your point clear or describe the “idiot” who didn’t help you one bit at work. Needless to say, my daughter has been heard saying “did Sebastien shit his diapers again?” or “damn it” while dropping something not just once but several times. These are not phrases I am proud of but they are phrases of life so be it. I don’t think they will offend anyone too terribly.

Alas, there is one phrase that has stuck that I am afraid will offend someone and indeed it already has. My husband is always calling the tigers at the zoo “stuffed” as they rarely ever move and seem to be in the same lounging position no matter what season or time of day you go to view them. Maya picked up on this quite quickly and recently came home to say that the stuffed tigers were sleeping…again. Apparently she mentioned this aloud while watching said sleeping tigers and made the boy next to her cry. He apparently knew what “stuffed” meant and didn’t seem to find the humor in my husband’s animal description.

But there are good things that come from paying attention to the words swirling around you – they pick up on the good ones too. You will hear my daughter say “please” and “thank you” appropriately and willingly which makes my heart burst every time. Having good manners and respecting other people is on the top of my “to teach my children” list and I am happy to say that it is a lot easier than I had anticipated. Monkey see, monkey do.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter

2 May

Peggy Orenstein, of Schoolgirls fame, recently wrote a thoroughly thought-provoking book about raising a daughter amid our grossly overly-pink girlie culture titled Cinderella Ate My Daughter. If you have a daughter, I would say that this is a must-read although reading it may make you more ter

rified than when you began it. You know from the onset of meeting your daughter that it may be a hard road ahead but this book really nails that idea on its head. The world is such a different place than the now-so-seemingly-innocent one that you and I grew up in (that statement alone should give you worry). She concludes, albeit a bit skeptically, that there is hope. You can raise an independent and lovable girl – it just takes some mindful choices in the beginning and following through to the bitter end (supposedly around 13 when they just stop listening to you).

Here is a oh-so brief summary (seriously, go get this book – at the store or at the library – it is worth your time):

Peggy is a journalist who has spent much of her career writing about issues that face adolescent girls so when she is expecting a child of her own she prays for the boy that wasn’t to be. Of course, she has a girl, how silly of her to think otherwise. So when her toddler girl becomes infatuated by princesses (despite never have read princess stories) she decides to dive head first in to this crazy pinkalicious world of baby/toddler/tween girls and what this could mean for her future.
“According to the American Psychological Association, the girlie-girl culture’s emphasis on beauty and play-sexiness can increase girls’ vulnerability to the pitfalls that most concern parents: depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, risky sexual behavior. Even brief exposures to the typical, idealized images of women that we all see every day has been shown to lower girls’ opinion of themselves, both physically and academically…The pursuit of physical perfection was recast as a source of young women’s “empowerment.” Even as new educational and profession opportunities unfurl before my daughter and her peers, so does the path that encourages them to equate identity with image, self-expression with appearance, femininity with performance, pleasure with pleasing, and sexuality with sexualization. I didn’t know whether Disney Princesses would be the first salvo in a Hundred Years’ War of dieting, plucking and painting. But for me they became a trigger for the larger question of how to help our daughters with the contradictions they will inevitably face as girls.”

Going Gluten-Free

1 May

So it came to my attention (thank you Dr. Sodhi) that my lack of energy and near constant stuffed-up-ness was not due to a combination of a lagging cold and sheer exhaustion from raising two toddlers…it was actually an intolerance to those oh-so-common food allergies. Say goodbye to wheat, dairy and others my friends. I have had these reactions in the past but for some reason (again, perhaps from the sheer exhaustion) I did not put two and two together. Thankfully, I finally drove by ass over the bridge to visit Dr. Sodhi who it seems may solve all of my life’s problems.

Just to test out the theory (ok, so I was still skeptical..maybe not skeptical but stubbornly hesitant to admit defeat) I decided to eat a very delicious cupcake 4 days after starting my new “diet”…and BAM BAM Thank You Ma’am, I was stuffed up and paying the price for it all night. I am actually STILL stuffed up from it. Damn wheat.

So hello garbonzo bean flour and arrowroot. Yuck, right? Well, again, thankfully I live in a city that is home to the BEST gluten-nut-free-vegan-organic bakery, The Flying Apron. In you are ever in Seattle, a stop here is a must even if you aren’t allergic. The goods are just that good.

To top it off, she wrote a cookbook – bless her heart! So now I can enjoy her marvelous creations from the comfort of my own home. If you are curious, here is one of my favorites:
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