Thursday, April 18, 2013

Really Expensive Yogurt and Eggplant Dirty Rice

Spring has sprung and allergy season has exploded all over my domicile. There are daffodils and benedryls as far as the eye can see.

P, unused to the terrible zombification that pollen allergies mean to most of the rest of the world, is convinced that he has a collapsed lung or at least leprosy and has confined himself to the downstairs guest room as far away from me and the babies as possible so as not to get us sick and also so he can catch up on some much needed rest. This has left me -1 after the babies are in bed for the evening.

Weird feeling, it is.

What have I been doing with my time? Well, two nights ago I cautiously overcame our ferocious pile of unmatched socks by speaking softly and using a Netflix movie as a way of avoiding direct eye contact. I was even daring enough to throw away a bunch of old worn out socks, which, if you know me even a little, you know that throwing away things of any value at all gives me physical pain. So let that tell you just how worn out those socks were.

While I matched them I watched "Forks Before Knives," a documentary recommended by a friend, about links between diet and health. Specifically, it discusses The China Study, which is an incredible study of thousands of Chinese people and their regional diets, and how those diets are connected to disease. The links between high levels of animal proteins and cancers of various types is stunning.

The next night, I watched a much lower-quality and almost endearingly simple documentary called "Veganucation" or something like that. It tracked three New Yorkers who decided to try being vegan for six weeks while they learned about the reasons for being vegan: health, environment and animal welfare.

I'm tempted to go read the China Study on my own, but right I've already gotten a fairly succinct summary of its high points. It is very compelling, especially in combination from what I learned reading "The Omnivore's Delimma" a few years ago (back when reading books was a real possibility in my daily routine).

Now, I'm not going vegan or vegetarian and likely never will.

For one thing, I don't have the time to suddenly jump into a new way of shopping and cooking for my family. For another, P would never go along with it. Thirdly, I don't have a thorough understanding of how to be a healthy vegetarian and I'm 100% responsible for the nutrition of my children, a responsibility that I already take very seriously. Also, I like meat and cheese (especially cheese!) and I'm just not in the frame of mind right now to commit to that kind of sacrifice.

That said, I have had a change at attitude toward certain things. I no longer think it is funny to hear people joke about how they don't care about how the animals are treated, as long as the bacon tastes good. Good bacon is one of God's most delicious gifts to Western Man, and so is fried chicken and filet mignon and leg of lamb or a good blue cheese, but factory farms are not where it's at.

So here's what I can do: I can make better choices. I'm surrounded by farms up here. Actual farms, where happy children collect eggs on summer afternoons and dairy cows wander around in green fields, hardly even noticing the occasional car going past beyond the white wooden fence. It is expensive, yes, and a little more inconvenient than the supermarket. But I have to remind myself that good treatment of animals is valuable, and anyway, animal protein is harmful in excess. So, I'll pay more for the meat and cheese and possibly eat a little less of it. Surely I can handle this.

Tonight I ate dinner alone(ish) because P took HC on a college visiting roadtrip leaving me and the babies back. I've been making my own babyfood for K ever since she started eating it because it is more economical and I know exactly what's in it. This batch is strawberry/raspberry/banana with whole milk yogurt. I got a big container of the yogurt from the dairy across the street from me...and it costs me almost twice the price of normal yogurt.

It was painful.

 Seriously, I almost had to close my eyes and tear the container across the scanner to check out, like it was a band-aid removal.

Don't look at the receipt, don't look at the receipt, don't look at the receipt...

But now that I've frozen all my little containers of fruit and yogurt puree in neatly labeled stacks, I'm pretty proud of how healthy it is -- for K and for the cows.

For my meal I made vegan eggplant dirty rice, which was surprisingly delicious. I could easily choose this dirty rice over the usual beef kind.

I know with me that these waves of consciousness come and go, their tides determined by what and how many other things I have to think about at any given time. But each time the wave returns I learn something new.

Plus, I never have to start from zero; my feet were already wet from before.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Love is Blind

I've never been one to care much one way or the other about gender specific toys or games, and I've always just bought my girls' toys based on a combination of quality, price and personal fancy. On the way to Turkey when F was tiny, I was surprised when my sister said she was happy to see I bought F some "boys" toys (a race car, I think? whatever it was, it's probably still in Istanbul) to play with on the plane.

Honestly, I hadn't even thought about it.

Fast forward to now, and F's absolute favorite toy is a hard plastic dinosaur we picked up in Target a few weeks ago. She was being very well behaved and I gave her the option of a Hello Kitty figurine or a dinosaur. "That one." she said without hesitation, and then announced his name was Yukub (she didn't clarify the spelling so I'm going with phonetics here).

Yukub goes everywhere F goes these days. Aye is F's stuffed otter, and he will always be the king of her heart, but he is really too dignified to traipse around the sand box. He has soft fur and fluffy insides, and really needs to save up all his energy for the critical bedtime routine that is his unique responsibility.

F and Yukub, at a tea party in the rain.
So in comes Yukub, and he's quite a busy guy. Tonight alone he got his hair washed, teeth brushed, booboos tended to, even got to take his turn at Pat The Bunny (after baby K, since it was her bedtime book, but before F). Who knew that "Paul can put his finger through Mummy's ring. Can YOU put your finger through Mummy's ring?" applied to short yellow dinosaur arms? Well, now you do.

F and Yukub birdwatching.

So I'm left wondering: does the fact that F's two favorite toys are male, and one of them is the opposite of cute a cuddly, imply something about some kind of gender preference she has? Or should I read more into the fact that she has established herself as the dutiful, loving and devoted female in the relationship?

Well, I don't know, but I sure don't hear Yukub complaining.

Friday, April 5, 2013

First Day That Feels Like Spring

For the first time in a long time, today was a beautiful day. I didn't even have to wear a sweater, and I spent most of the day outside.


1. Vegetable garden that was abandoned all last year because I was pregnant and afraid of commitment to bending over, cleaned out.
2. Courtyard garden that was totally reorganized with a bluestone hardscape last fall, cleaned out.
3. Compost pile turned over
4. Compost distributed to vegetable and herb gardens.

Tomorrow, I'm starting tomato plants. They never work (no matter what I do, my seedlings always frizzle up as soon as they sense the real sun) but I have a few seeds left from previous years so I'm going to give it a shot before I just break down and buy some seedlings.

It was so sweet having F play around me while I worked. She talked the ENTIRE time, mostly about random stuff that I couldn't even understand.

Her favorite toy right now is a plastic dinosaur that she named Yakub, and the two of them are inseperable. She has to take very close care of him because he is very demanding and curious.

After she and I were outside for a while, Yakub told her he wanted to watch a movie, but F said no, it was time to play outside. He insisted.

This is the part that amazes me.

F put Yakub on the edge of the herb garden where he could see her shadows on the stone patio, and then acted out "movies" for him with her shadows. There was a cooking movie and a painting movie, and then she had to "rewind" them (yeah, we rock the VHS) and play them again because he liked them so much.

I don't care what you say, that's genius right there.