Wednesday, March 30, 2011


*Please excuse the lack of paragraphing. I have tried to edit this six times, and every time I hit publish it reverts to this. Not sure what is going on.* It is the end of the month, and I'm really trying to keep myself to the cash budget. So pickin's are looking slim around here. Bean tostadas! Bean soup! Beans and rice! I did have about $6.50 left yesterday, so I went to the store and bought some coffee, four ears of corn, and one package of shredded cheese. The total wast $6.24. It is ridiculous how pleased I was with myself. Speaking of food, we are trying something new around here with dinnertime. We have generally approached dinner like this: I make something that all of us like eating, such as make your own burritos, or I serve enough healthy side dishes like brown rice and fruit and veggies that I don't feel bad if the kids won't eat the main dish (such as curry, which they won't touch.) A few times a week I will make them something different than what we are eating, like quick microwaved bean burritos or macaroni and cheese, if we are eating something they really can't stand. We don't force them to eat things, but we have forced them to try one bite of something, and we also make them eat all their veggies and whatever they are eating (brown rice) if they are to get dessert. And then we have some sort of dessert every night, which we have used for leverage to get them to eat the healthy stuff. It isn't a bad system, but I don't like a lot of things about it. I don't like that we set up the veggies vs. the dessert. I don't like that we force them to eat things to gain a reward, and I don't like that the reward is a sweet. I don't like that we have to serve dessert every night. So we have decided to have a treat in the afternoons instead (such as cookies and milk after school) and then follow this system for dinner. Basically, I will make whatever I want for the main dish. I will try to make something that the kids might like, but I might also make seafood stew or some other "disgusting" dish if that is what Craig and I want to eat. I will also make sure that there are enough healthy side dishes so that people can fill their bellies with whole grain bread, veggies, milk to drink, etc. I will serve it family style, and everyone will serve themselves as much or as little as they like. There will be no dessert, except for the rare surprise. They may not eat after dinner except for apple slices or carrot sticks at bedtime, which is the usual rule. We will try to model healthy eating and well balanced food choices, and that is it. We will talk a lot about "listening to our bellies." We have done this for one night so far. Luke ate a bunch of whole grain bread with butter and fruit. He is the pickiest and the one that is most likely to resist what he perceives as what his parents want. Henry ate bread, corn, fruit, and at the very end of dinner he decided to try a bite of bean soup. He liked it and then ate a small bowl. It was a very pleasant meal, and we just talked about the day, our plans for the evening and such. I'll report back on Luke again. I know he likes corn and bean soup, but he was obviously using his power of choice to the fullest.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Food around Here

I just made these chickpeas and they are really yummy. It is my first time using smoked paprika, and it is delicious. I thought I might have to go to Whole Foods, but I found the Kroger brand in a jar for around three dollars. I love Catherine Newman's recipes, and her writing about her kids and food, although I alternate between wanting to be her best friend and being insanely jealous of how wonderful her kids--and her life in general--seem to be. I make her bread recipe now, too, because I love how easy it is to keep the dough in the fridge and slice off a hunk whenever we want bread. It makes great pizza crust, too.

It is Lent now, and the orthodox rule is basically that we eat vegan. My husband and children are less than enthusiastic about this endeavor, so I just try to keep it vegetarian with some vegan meals. We eat a lot of beans, which is normal for us anyway.

I was craving soup for lunch today, so I whipped this up for myself and Silas. These measurements are approximate, since I didn't measure as I made it:

sautee one small onion and two cloves of garlic in coconut oil (any other oil would work, but coconut oil is slightly sweet and really delicious)

once these are soft, add one large, peeled and cubed sweet potato, and two sliced carrots

cover with water, add about a half teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger, half teaspoon of cumin, and a pinch of coriander. simmer until veggies are very soft

let cool a bit and puree in blender. Add some coconut milk (half a cup of the Silk refrigerated kind or 1/4 cup of the canned kind). Adjust seasoning. Thin with more water or coconut milk if necessary.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where am I? What day is it?

Um, I don't really know how a week has gone by. I have no great explanation for how I blinked and the last time I posted was a week ago. Craig was home from work, as it was spring break at the university where he teaches. I went to a lot of zumba classes in celebration of the fact that I could leave Silas at home sleeping. Speaking of Silas, he has a cold and is getting molars. He is perhaps the screamiest baby I have had yet, especially with the added discomfort of illness and teething. He basically wants me to sit on the floor with him all day, or to hold him while letting him climb onto the counter, play with the phone, and sit on the microwave all at once. Or he wants to watch elmo videos on youtube. If he doesn't get these things, he holds onto my legs and screams. While pushing his head through my legs. And sometims biting the backs of my thighs. Oh, it's good times around here.

Friday, March 04, 2011

I'm a Stylish Blogger, and I'm an Alaskan

I have done a really bad job of posting more often this week. Although I suppose that posting twice a week is still a lot more than I had been. In any case, one of my oldest friends in the world, Anna, gave me the stylish blogger award, which is very kind of her. I'm basically lazy and technologically inept, so the thought of trying to post the correct image and link to ten other blogs is daunting to me. So I'm not doing it. Sorry, Anna. I hope this isn't like breaking a chain letter.

A lot of readers might find Anna's blog a bit of a culture shock. She lives in Alaska, close to where we grew up, and she lives what I consider to be a fairly typical Alaskan life. Not that everyone raises chickens and goats and homeschools their six children, but she and her family kind of march to the beat of their own drummers, and they want the freedom to do that. I get that. While my viewpoints and politics have changed since I've left Alaska--and frankly, I was always more of the Alaskan hippie than the Alaskan libertarian (not that Anna is a libertarian)--I still understand that Alaskan mindset. It is where I come from.

One of my fondest memories of Anna is of watching Anne of Green Gables with her. We both loved the movie and watched it together many times. We had it all worked out--she was Diana and I was Anne. I tried my hardest to live up to my role as Anne, finding adventures for us wherever I could. One day we were running around on the 50 acres of forest that backed up to our church community. We called this area "cranberry cliffs," so named for the abundant cranberries that grow along the boggy lows and high cliffs in those woods. I suggested that we climb the face of one of those cliffs. Somehow, Anna got stuck, but with no adults anywhere nearby, I had to coach her down. I think of that day often when I'm trying to figure out ways to get my boys outdoors. I know they would be so much more willing to play outside if it involved a little more freedom and adventure. I think that day was, in some ways, the epitome of the Alaskan experience. And every time I read about Anna and her family figuring out how to milk goats or butcher chickens, I feel a little like I'm back in Alaska.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A New Month! New Money!

Aah, I survived another month on the cash budget. Yes, I did cash some checks for a bit of extra money last week--thanks for the day of swimming and the book fair treats, Grandma Jane!--but I tell you, we are really saving money. I have become very aware of the fact that I was recreationally and impulsively spending. I realize this now because there are days when I'm bored and I want to go to Target. I crave it. And since I don't have the cash, I don't go. Or I go but I will only take a small bit of cash with me.

Remember how I said that I wasn't buying vanilla? Something about that must have hit the sympathy chord right on the head--holy mixed metaphor, former English major!--because within one week I received two lovely bottles of vanilla in the mail and a check with "vanilla and spoiling the boys" written in the memo line. Thank you for the vanilla, Yellow Fever. Luke and Silas's godmother asked specifically to be referred to by her roller derby name in any mention of this gift. And thank you, Grandma Jane. I don't need the vanilla now, but spoiling the boys has been fun. The swimming was great. The books are fabulous. And they will really enjoy the milk that I can buy them now.

Joking. Please don't send us milk.