Friday, October 31, 2008

The Infamous Picture

Here it is, as promised. Anthony put his costume on for us this evening. There's one of him and Davan and just one of him. Enjoy!


Here's another recipe and I even took a picture to go with it. :)

I'll call it unstuffed acorn squash. I adjust this recipe according to what's on hand at the time, but here is what it was today:

1 acorn squash
1 large or 2 small bell peppers, diced
12 oz bella mushrooms, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
3 green tomatoes, diced
3 red tomatoes, diced
~4 TBS tomato paste
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 TBS chili powder
1 can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the halves cut side down in a baking dish, add about 1/2 cup water. Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for about an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Saute the onion over medium heat in a pan sprayed with a little oil. When the onions are translucent - about 4 minutes, add the green tomatoes, bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic. Saute for another 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms release their juices.

Add the chili powder and stir. Mix the tomato paste with the water and add it to the pan along with the quinoa. Cover and simmer for about a half an hour. Toward the end of the cooking, add the red tomatoes. You can uncover and stir a time or two. Add water, if necessary. You'll know the quinoa is cooked when the outer circle separates and curls.

Mix with the black eyed peas.

When the squash is done - you can tell because the skin will be easily pierced with a fork - remove from the oven and use an oven mitt to hold the squash while you scoop out the insides with a spoon. Placed the squash innards in a bowl (or on a plate) and scoop the veggie mixture on top.

Today we only ate about half of it, but on non-candy days, Davan will easily eat half of it herself (although she is a remarkably big eater) and I will if I've skipped breakfast, as well, although I usually pair it with salad, which I skipped today, as well.

I always make this for lunch because Anthony doesn't eat the majority of the ingredients. Of course, it worked out that I made it today, when he's home from work, but oh well! He had to make due with leftovers today.

Black beans are also good instead of the black eyed peas. If I have left over marinara sauce from another meal, I use it instead of the water and tomato paste or at least for part of it. I also vary the amount of mushrooms, depending on how many are on hand. Also, if I'm using beans I've cooked myself, rather than canned, I add Braggs for a little salt taste.

Another thing you can do for a nice presentation is stuff the acorn with the veggie mixture, top with some tomato sauce and then bake for about a half an hour. I like it like this and it's very pretty, but Davan doesn't like scraping it out, so I do it unstuffed. When we're eating on the go, I must say that I like it unstuffed, as well.

Weather update - The rain had stopped and things were looking hopeful, but we just had another good downpour. I still have high hopes for trick or treating!


Halloween is a designated feast day for us. We're doing the total sugar overload thing here at our house. I did insist that everyone ate breakfast before beginning. Then we cut loose on the candy.

We'd each picked out a favorite to share and hand out. We ended up with Midnight Milky Ways, Twixes, and a Reese's assortment. Additionally, Anthony won a costume contest at work yesterday. Sadly, I don't have a picture of his costume yet, as he never put the whole thing on at home, but one is supposed to be coming. Stay tuned. Anyway, the prize was candy plus a few Halloween decorations, adding Snickers (which I almost chose myself), Hersey's minis and Smarties to the mix.

We all ate wildly for a few minutes after breakfast, then all decided to leave off until after lunch. I must admit that, while I really enjoyed the tasting feast, my tummy isn't in the best shape ever.

We're also having take and bake pizza for dinner tonight. My parents will be joining us. Davan, my mom and I will be having veggie pizza with no cheese, so not too bad health-wise. The boys will be having something with a lot of meat and cheese. I might have a small slice of the boys' pizza, though. And my step dad may wander over into veggie land. Every one else will probably stay true to their chosen pizza.

There will be two sessions of trick or treating - one in downtown Gresham at the stores in the afternoon and the other around the neighborhood after dinner. Davan is very excited. Gymnastics was canceled for Halloween, which she is okay with. If they'd offered it, though, she'd have gone until break, then come home for dinner and trick or treating.

Of course, this is all assuming I make it until afternoon. I may be crashed out on the couch. I was up reading late last night, then still took a while to fall asleep. I slept like the dead until about 5am, giving me a whole 5, 5 1/2 hours of sleep. I could not fall back asleep and finally gave up at 5:45.

I made good use of my time, going for a run (yes, a run, you heard right, even though I posted this not too long ago), and then doing an hour of yoga. I also got started on the chores before Anthony came stumbling out saying, "How did you get here? I thought you were still in bed!" He'd gotten up quietly and tried not to disturb my sleep. He does usually get up earlier, but geez, I'm not that thin.

This was my second morning of running. Basically, I decided that I needed more aerobic exercise. Walking and yoga aren't intense aerobic work. Swimming is a lot of the time, but sometimes we're working on strokes or whatever and then we don't do sustained aerobic exercise. I mulled over my options and decided to try running again.

When I've run in the past, it's been frustrating for several reasons, okay, really two - knee pain, not being able to sustain a jog even. Well, my knees have felt much healthier the last couple of years. Yeah, they have their issues, but they are doing pretty well. I attribute it to good diet (today aside!) and keeping them moving, particularly through yoga and other stretches. As for the second. Well, doing it more means being in better shape, no?

So, I'm giving it a go. It's going well! I have a little knee pain on my left knee that I think will work itself out. It sometimes hurts when I ride a bike, too, and I keep doing that. (So, why don't I ride for aerobic exercise you might ask? I don't know. I've tried that in the past and can't seem to stick with it. I like riding for transportation, but I'm not good at doing it for exercise. Go figure. I don't use it as transportation enough that I get regular aerobic workouts from it, either.) My legs are a little sore, which I think is great! I've run about 2 miles each day and been able to jog the whole time and I'm getting a runner's high already! It's good stuff.

Davan went with me yesterday (she was still asleep this morning when I went) and very much outpaced me, which was fine once she just broke free. At first she was trying to stay with me, but going slower than she wanted while I was feeling pressured to go faster than I wanted. We went around the park by our house and just met up to come back home.

It's pouring rain this morning here. It's supposed to let up for trick or treating this afternoon/evening. I've got my fingers crossed. Meanwhile, though, it's a lovely morning for just hanging out in the house. Anthony is reading, Davan is playing with some magnet guys while waiting for her turn on the computer and, of course, I'm on the computer. My book is calling to me, though, so that'll be next. Or maybe playing the keyboard a bit...

Have a great Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

One More Tooth - Gone

Davan lost a tooth at gymnastics this evening. She put it in the flip top of her water bottle to keep it safe for bringing home.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

After dinner tonight, we carved our pumpkins. Davan picked out a nice, smooth, round pumpkin, but I picked two with character for Anthony and I.

Davan put out the newspaper while Anthony washed the dirt off the pumpkins. Until I picked up the camera, I'd been making a pumpkin pudding with different pumpkins - pie pumpkins - I'd cooked earlier. The pudding had pumpkin, frozen banana, dates and pumpkin seasoning. It turned out okay except that I'd gotten a bit carried away with the cinnamon and Anthony passed it up as being too banana-y. We ate it post carving, after it cooled.

The finished products from the front:

and from the back:

Anthony's is the one with the sad face. He felt his pumpkin spoke to him and was done by far first. His was also very thin and easy to carve. You can tell it's thin because the light kind of glows through the whole thing.

Mine was supposed to be two bats looking at each other, but Anthony says it looks to him like they are cats. Then, because I'd cut the bottom out of my pumpkin, rather than the top, I added ventilation on the back - the moon and stars, which I think goes much better with bats than cats...

Davan's is a rat with a pumpkin and her rat's name "ARI" carved into the top. She'd done a rat last year, as well. I like the addition of the pumpkin for the Halloween theme this year, but it was more clearly a rat last year, with "RAT" having been carved across the top (far left).

Rice and Beans

A friend of mine, who had the opportunity to smell this dish last night, as Davan had it at gymnastics, asked for my rice and beans recipe. She's also, like most of us, I suspect, looking for ways to tame the food budget. I sent it to her, but I thought I'd share here, too. It's one of those recipes that I just kind of throw together, so I don't know exact measurements.

First of all, I cook the rice and beans separately. The rice cooks in the rice cooker and I use the crock pot for the beans.

I use dried beans, which does make it pretty cheap. I vary the beans I use from week to week, but yesterday it was pinto beans, which are a favorite 'cause they're so mild. I don't presoak them, I just put them in the crock pot on high and add boiling water until they are more than well covered. I'd guess I used about 2-3 cups of dried beans and 7 or so cups of boiling water. They take a couple of hours to cook. If I'm around, I keep an eye on the water, adding if necessary. Sometime after those couple of hours, or, at least toward the end - it varies depending on what our schedule is for the day - and with at least a couple of hours of time until dinner, I add stuff. This varies. Again, though, I'll tell you what I added yesterday:

2 onions
a whole head of garlic (peeled and all, of course)
3 semi-hot peppers
2 tomatoes
Bragg's to taste
1 tsp of liquid smoke
about a tablespoon of chili powder

I put it all in the Vitamix blender and make a sauce out of it that I add to the beans. Those ones turned out more soupy that I usually aim for, but I did manage to reduce the soupy-ness by leaving the lid off the crock pot for a couple of hours and stirring occasionally over the course of the afternoon.

That's about it. I usually taste it a few times as the cooking is coming to an end and sometimes add more Bragg's or a dash of this or that. I make it about once a week and, as I don't do it the same every time, how much we like it tends to vary.

Mixing It Up

Davan and I had a yummy, nutritious, cheap meal this morning for breakfast. It's a bit different than we usually do, but something similar to a breakfast I used to make for Max in the morning.

I made cinnamon apples, like I make to stuff into pita pockets, but then I mixed them with oatmeal instead. There were definitely more apples than oats in the dish, which is how we like it. As with the pita pockets, I added walnuts to mine. Davan doesn't like nuts in her apples, but I wanted to boost the fat in hers (out of the whole family, skinny, growing, super active Davan can use fat the most), so I mixed peanut butter into hers. It was yummy. We each had two bowls.

To make it even cheaper, I used apples off our tree in the front yard. I was lazy this year and let the apples go too long. We lost a lot of them to birds and worms and neighborhood kids. However, I salvaged what was left for our very large, filling breakfast this morning.

I hadn't done this for Davan and I in the mornings for a couple of reasons. One is that, although Davan loved oatmeal when she was younger, she has professed a dislike for it for the last several years. I like oatmeal sometimes, but not all the time. Also, I don't always like to do a starch with breakfast, preferring to concentrate on fruit. However, done this way, with the apple to oat ratio there was, we both liked it and got a lot of fruit in. Besides, we'd been doing the apples in pita pockets often lately and the pita pockets are both more expensive and a more refined grain (being made with flour, all be it whole grain flour) than oatmeal.

I give it a thumbs up and we'll do it again, especially as we're trying to lower our food costs.

In other news, I'm reading a book that is very interesting, if a little technical, called "Spark - The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain." It's all about, as you can glean from the title, I'm sure, how exercise effects the brain. So far, as a summary, exercise makes learning easier and keeps stress in check. There are lots of sound scientific reasons for this, which you'll learn if you read the book. :) I'm only about a 1/3 of the way through, so there is more information to come.

Poor Davan has been having trouble sleeping lately. She tends to go through cycles with sleep troubles. You'd think with all the exercise she does, she'd sleep soundly. However, every few months or so, she goes through a stretch of 2-7 days (although shorter stretches lately, I've noticed) of having a hard time falling asleep. My theory is that it happens one night and then she obsesses about if she'll be able to sleep the next night, causing it to happen again. Sigh. She's still sniffing from the cold she started last week, so I'm sure that's not helping. Last night was night two. I have high hopes that she'll sleep well tonight. Of course, that's tempered with a good dash of pessimism on my part, as that's just how I am.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Got Sucked in This Morning

Lately, my morning routine has gone something like this: wake up to the radio, lay in bed and listen for a bit (10 - 15 minutes usually), get up, dress in what I want to do yoga in, layer warm stuff over that until I get started, come into the kitchen/dinning room area, do chores, do yoga, make and eat breakfast, move on with my day.

Davan has been sleeping in lately. I don't mind her getting the sleep she needs, but it does mean that often I'm doing the majority of the chores because she doesn't get up until I'm partway through them these days. She has made up for this in the past by doing them all herself for stretches of time. In fact, until a few weeks ago, I was getting up and doing yoga right away. She'd wake up while I was doing yoga and get started on the chores, often finishing before I was done.

She asked if I'd switch it around so she could join me for yoga and I was willing. But now she's sleeping in and if I wait until she's up to do chores, there isn't time for chores and yoga before we need to do out of the house stuff usually.

How much yoga I do depends on the day. I have a couple of yoga videos from the library. I have a couple that are technically my mom's, but have been living here for a long time now. My mom's are both very short and very easy - 20 minutes, no sweating. I try not to do them often, but last week, I felt like I didn't want to do anything one day because I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I did the AM Yoga with Rodney Yee. At least I did something.

From the library, I have a Shiva Rea Flow video that has workouts from 25 minutes up to and hour and a half. Some are mostly meditation and others will most definitely get you breathing. There is also a matrix option, where you choose which bits you want to do and it plays them one after another for you. Davan loves this video and would always choose it. I find it a little out there, but okay and a good workout if you choose the right workout.

Also from the library is Power Yoga, which I like a lot. There are three workouts roughly beginning, intermediate and advanced. I've tried all three, but the advanced has a lot of stuff I can't do, so it turns out to not be a good workout for me. I like both of the others, though, and it can make me sore. Each workout is about 50 minutes.

I had another Rodney Yee one from the library - 25 minutes of beginning power yoga - but it had to be returned. I didn't use it often, but it was useful for the "there isn't much time, but I want to do something" mornings or the "I'm feeling lazy but not so lazy as to do the super easy AM Yoga one." I used it about once a week.

I've also tried Rodney Yee's Burn, which was okay. It was doing everything in slow motion and I was okay with that, but it didn't burn. And Davan was bored out of her mind on that one. It was an hour long.

I've asked for some yoga videos on my wish list for birthday/Christmas so I don't have to worry about returning them and being without when I want one.

But, back to what I started posting about, which is that I got sucked into the computer this morning. I've been good about not doing that, but today, I walked by, went, "Oh, there aren't that many emails" and one thing led to another and here I am, writing a long 'ol entry rather than doing chores and yoga. It might be tight to get it all in before we have to leave for Davan's art class.

On the up side, though, Davan is up, so I won't be doing chores alone.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


With Davan being out of the house so much these days - Do Jump, art class, 12 hours of gymnastics a week, reading to preschoolers, swimming, book group, play dates - we've been searching for balance. It seems like when we're all home together, we are striving to "do something" together. That's a good idea in part, but, it also is creating some friction.

When Davan gets home from gymnastics, there is about 45 minutes before bedtime. During that time, she usually needs a snack (or, sometimes, practically a whole meal) and she also gets ready for bed - brushing teeth, filling her water bottle that she keeps by her bed, putting on pjs. The pressure to also "do something" together...well, often I think we should because she's been away and Anthony hasn't seen her all day. However, the flip side is that there is some stress about figuring out what to do and stress on Davan's part if she whiles away time eating her snack and flipping through a magazine, only realizing too late that there isn't time to "do something" together.

Flipping through the magazine should be a valid choice, as well. And she does get read to for 20 minutes at bedtime. We make sure it's Anthony reading on the nights he hasn't seen her all day. But, back to the other side, that's a lot less time than we're used to spending together as a family.

We talked to Davan about pushing her bedtime back an hour. We'd also push back Anthony's and mine, causing him to go into work an hour later and getting home an hour later. Davan didn't want to. She's very much attached to her bed time and her routine. She doesn't like it disturbed. As Anthony likes the hours he works and wasn't excited about changing, we just left well enough alone.

Even on weekends, it sometimes feels like we should be all "do something" together. However, we each have our own interests, as well. Yeah, we can pursue those interests to a good extent during the week. Davan and I do have some time during the day, usually, in amongst all of our activities. Anthony has time in the evening when Davan is at Do Jump or gymnastics...except that he and I have been spending some of that gymnastics time watching Buffy.

Watching Buffy means that he's not messing around on the computer, checking Craig's List and EBay for deals (a favorite pass time, even though he doesn't buy much), or out in the garage, working on his bike or current woodworking/metal/automotive project.

Watching Buffy means that I'm not on the computer (although I do feel like I often spend too much time here anyway), or going for a walk (which I've been pretty good about fitting in after dropping Davan off and before Anthony gets home) or playing the keyboard (I'm really enjoying working through Davan's lesson books) or reading.

Buffy is fun, too, and constitutes an interest, but I have to say that I'm kind of glad we don't have the next season yet and are doing other things. I guess even in doing things separately or in smaller family groups, there is balance to be achieved.

The thick and thin of it is that we need to find the balance between doing stuff together and exploring our own interests (not to mention balance between the easy lure of TV/computer and other things). We need to find a new balance point with the new activities. It may take some tipping back and forth to find our comfort areas. It'll happen, though.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Parents, I Though Davan Was Busy and Other Thoughts

We've had a nice day so far today. We skipped chores and had breakfast in the car on the way downtown to watch a Northwest Children's Theater production of Hansel and Gretel. We enjoyed the show. Davan particularly liked it. She's been singing the songs that she liked from the show. Yes, it was a musical.

One of the girls in the production who is probably about 11 does theater, gymnastics, dance, cheerleading, voice lessons and...that might have been it, although she did also go to school... My gosh, though, all expensive and mostly time consuming things. Davan, who has expressed an interest in theater before commented today that she didn't think it would be that fun to play the same part over and over in the same day. Okay, then. Not that I was going to spring for drama classes on top of gymnastics, but it's good to know that her dream isn't getting crushed.

I called my parents just before the show started to ask if they had time to meet us for lunch today. I'd have planned it in advance, but I guess I'm not used to them being in town these days. We were half way to their house when we saw Hansel and Gretel.

They did have time and treated Davan and I to lunch at the Paradox Cafe, which we all enjoy and has healthy (even to me) options. I enjoy spending time with them. Even if we don't eat out, I enjoy seeing them, but not cooking and being treated out is quite nice, too. :)

Our breakfast in the car this morning is one of our favorite to-go breakfasts and pretty cheap, as well, compared to our other morning standard of blueberry smoothies. It's pita pockets with cinnamon apples. I chop the apples (usually 3 apples for two people, depending on size) up fairly small, put them in a microwavable bowl with a little water, a couple of tablespoons of flax meal and a generous dose of cinnamon. The apples take about 6 minutes in the microwave to get to the level of done-ness I prefer. I warm the pita pockets (2 halves each) to make them easier to work with and load the apples in. I add walnut pieces to mine, but Davan prefers them just as they are. When Anthony joins us, he likes raisins in his.

I realize that, as I've been talking about food, I haven't mentioned what Anthony does at work. He takes leftovers from dinner for lunch. If there aren't any available, sometimes he takes pitas with peanut butter and sometimes we'll cook up a batch of rice the night before in the rice cooker and he'll take rice with a canned bean soup for lunch. For snacks, he takes apples and other fruits if they're available and he thinks of it, like berries or oranges or grapes. If I do it for him or he is in a grove with it, he'll take a couple of carrots made into carrot sticks, as well. He also likes edamame to snack on.

Anthony also eats breakfast at work, sitting at his desk, and his typical breakfast is steel cut oatmeal that he prepares the night before (or sometimes I do, but it's mostly him). He takes 1/3 cup of steel cut oats, some raisins, some flax meal, some hemp protein, some cinnamon, some raw cacao powder (sometimes) and a cup of water and combines them in a to go container that he puts in the fridge overnight. In the morning, at work, he puts it in the microwave for a couple of minutes (I've tried to convince him to take a bowl to work rather than use plastic in the microwave, but so far, that's to no avail) and adds some almond milk.

He keeps a container of almond milk and a jar of peanut butter at work to supplement his meals and snacks.

It's an hour until we leave to get Davan to gymnastics and I still have dinner to make, so I'd better get on that. Tonight it's brown rice pasta and veggies (broccoli and carrots today) with peanut sauce. I just sent the peanut sauce recipe to a friend, so I'll post it here, too:

4 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 cup water
2 tablespoons Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon coriander
2/3 cup smooth all-natural peanut butter
1 scant tablespoon pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Asian chile sauce (depending on my chile sauce, I often only use 1 teaspoon so it's not too spicy for Davan)

In a small saucepan, saute the garlic and ginger in about 2 tablespoons of water over medium heat until the garlic and ginger are fragrant and slightly soft. Add the water, Bragg's and coriander and bring to a boil. Add the peanut butter and turn the heat to low. Whisk well until the peanut butter and sauce are combined. Mix in the maple syrup, vinegar and chile sauce. Remove from heat.

We also use this for a dip for fresh veggies and as a sauce for lettuce wraps. It's a favorite around here, although it's probably not the healthiest favorite we have with all the peanut butter and the maple syrup, but it's a fairly small indulgence.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's a Big Job

Cooking, that is. When you don't do processed food, when you don't eat out, when you eat a lot of fresh produce, cooking becomes a full time job. My mom commented that I'm more like the housewife of old, cooking all three meals a day. That's time consuming business. It would be difficult to fit in a job, too.

I figure that, on average, I spend about 4 hours a day in the kitchen, preparing food and cleaning up. Sometimes it's more and sometimes less, but I think that's a fair assessment. Sometimes Anthony and/or Davan help with kitchen stuff, but I'm thinking I still average about 4 hours a day.

Before breakfast even comes around, there are the dry, clean dishes from the previous day to put away. Often there is a dish or five that somehow didn't get taken care of the night before and need washing or loading in the dishwasher. Seems little, but it all adds up.

For breakfast during the week, I usually make either a smoothie or cinnamon apples in pita pockets. Neither seems like a big production, but for the smoothie, say our most common - blueberry - for both Davan and I it goes something like this:

2 frozen bananas, which means that sometime previously, I've peeled them, broken them in half and stuck them in the freezer in a ziplock freezer bag
2 -3 cups of spinach, which means I need to wash it
2 TBS flax meal, which means that at some point, I used the coffee grinder to make meal out of the seed we buy in bulk
1 TBS hemp protein
3 cups frozen blueberries
enough almond milk to mostly cover the other ingredients, which means I've soaked the almonds and then made almond milk at some point, although sometimes I do use bought almond milk and lately, I've started experimenting with oat milk

Then, of course, there's doing the dishes, as well. Today, in addition to the smoothie, I cut up an apple and a large plum because Davan had a friend over to play and she came before we got around to breakfast, so I wanted her to be able to munch on something, as well.

Next, usually, comes lunch. Lunch is sometimes leftovers, sometimes something new. Today I chopped veggies to dip in some peanut sauce I have leftover from yesterday and sauteed some mushrooms that needed using up. I packed those things up for after swimming, when Davan is starving.

I'd planned on giving the girls a snack of left over pancakes with peanut butter, but, when I went to get them, they were gone. I cut up another apple to get them started, then looked around for something else to give them for a snack. We don't keep crackers or eat out of the box type cereal around. We have bread, but it's sprouted and an acquired taste. I often give out whole wheat pita pockets with peanut butter for friend snacks, but this friend doesn't like pita bread. I was, I have to say, rather stymied. I threw together some quick pancakes with spelt flour, cinnamon, flax meal, baking powder, apple sauce, soy milk (I had some open for a recipe - we don't actually use very much soy milk) and a dash of vanilla. I made peanut butter sandwiches out of them and the girls scarfed them down. I was glad they didn't have to go to swimming hungry.

Meanwhile, around other things this morning, I got some red beans and some pinto beans going in the crock pot for a soup for dinner tonight. I just put them in the crock pot, add boiling water, turn the crock pot on high and the beans are done in a couple of hours. I don't presoak. Later in the morning, I chopped up an onion to add. Still later, I prepared some kale to add. I also added salsa and garlic. It's a Mexican bean soup I'm going for here.

When we got home from swimming, I adjusted the seasonings for the soup and unloaded left over food and empty containers from our after swimming snack (lunch for me) of veggies and mushrooms. Actually, Davan wasn't much into the veggies today and ate all of the mushrooms and just some of her veggies.

Still to do today in the kitchen:

-unload the dishwasher
-wash the snack containers and the items I used for the pancakes (usually I wash as I go, but we were in a hurry to get to swimming)
-add frozen corn to the soup and check seasonings again
-make a salad to go with the soup
-clean up from those things and dinner, as well

Those are for sure things. Additionally, we often want an evening snack, so that will be prepared and cleaned up after today, as well. I might have some bananas that are ready to prepare for the freezer, but they could wait a few more days if I don't get around to it before. The flax meal supply is pretty good, so I don't need to grind more.

This is a pretty typical day kitchen-wise. Of course, then also associated with food prep is meal planning and shopping, which adds more time. We get our food from 4 or 5 different places.

We belong to a CSA, which I think is a great idea, but it hasn't worked out that well for us. This is the second time we've joined one, each time a different farm. I like this one a lot better than our first, which had some odd food items and was much further away for pick up. However, we have to supplement heavily to have enough produce for us and we got a whole lot of one particular type of pole bean this year that we didn't much care for, just as an example. I think we'll give up trying. Although I really do think it's a great idea and it works well for some folks.

I shop at Winco, a bag your own groceries sort of place. We buy a lot of produce there, the vast majority of which is not organic. Ideally, I'd like our produce to be organic, but we've tried in the past and it really does break our budget. We used to belong to an organic produce delivery place because there aren't a lot of places to buy organic right near us. It was a nice service, but expensive. Also at Winco we get frozen cherries, frozen veggies, some canned beans, cooking spray, salsa, whole wheat pita bread, and bulk flax seeds.

We broke down and got a Costco membership. We used to be members back when we ate a lot of prepared food, so it's not like we've never been exposed to Costco before. It's where we've been buying our cat food for about a year, but my parents pick it up for us or friends do. We decided to bite the bullet and do it for ourselves. We've gone once and, other than the cat food, bought almost exclusively produce. I don't know that they're cheaper than Winco, but they are definitely cheaper than Safeway and the like.

We order food from Azure Standard once a month. My primary purchases from them are bulk beans, bulk flours (mostly spelt these days), bulk popcorn, almond milk (unsweetened - both plain and chocolate), bulk nuts, organic peanut butter, brown rice, dried unsweetened cherries and Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Sometimes things I've ordered don't come and then a stop at one or two other places is in order.

The health food section at Fred Meyer carries the almond milk we like. Bragg's can be found at Whole Foods. Trader Joe's is a good place to buy nuts and dried fruit and I like the 100% recycled toilet paper they carry at a decent price. (Yeah, I know, recycled toilet paper. The possible jokes are endless.)

I also spend a good deal of time and money at our local produce stand, especially in the summer. I buy all our berries (that we don't pick ourselves) there. Right now I can get large boxes of apples cheap.

In the summer, the farmer's market is a good place for produce, as well.

So, yeah. Feeding even our little family of three is a big production. It was much easier when I bought a lot of boxed mac and cheese or Lipton's noodles and sauce or even pasta and a packet to make pesto sauce with. When we ate store bought cookies. When having steamed broccoli with dinner a couple of nights a week felt virtuous. When we had boxed cereals on hand. When crackers and cheese and apple slices were lunch. When we bought cheese sticks. When we ate fast food.

Now, though, I feel pretty darn good about what is going into our bodies. We are all healthier. Two years ago we were struck by the flu and were really sick for about a month. Yeah. I month. And not just lingering, but sick. Now that we're eating this way, the small bought of stomach flu that Davan had a few weeks ago was probably the worst. We do get mild colds, but they aren't usually enough to slow us down. When Max was here, he got more sick (of course, he did all he could to not eat healthily) and I felt more than mildly sick a time or two (stress, I'm thinking). But, overall, we're healthy people. And that's good.

Now. If it were just cheaper rather than more expensive to eat this way, it'd all be good.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Halloween Party

Long before I got around to actually posting my last post, Davan was up and feeling "spry now that I'm moving around." So, we were off to our book group, which was a Halloween party today.

First, Davan got ready to climb onto her toadstool later:

Then, she got Buni ready to join her:

And I (with some help and ideas from Davan), made this pumpkin to take along:

Then we were off to book group:

Davan made an addition to her costume. Buni is sitting on the gnome's lap, as a gnome doll.

Sore Throat

Little Miss Davan has a sore throat this morning. She actually mentioned it last night, too. I sent her back to bed and brought her some tea.

I'm sorry her throat is sore and I know that'll make gymnastics more tiring (she still wants to go), but as it all seems mild, I can't work up too much sympathy for her obvious suffering:

Monday, October 20, 2008


Lately I've been irritable with Davan. I don't know why, really. Overall, I'm a happy camper. I appreciate my family to no end. I think Davan is a great kid. There are so many things about her that I love and cherish. But. I'm annoyed with her. A lot.

Sometimes how she chews sets me off. Lately (the last half a year or so), there seems to be a lot of whine coming out of her. It's not necessarily the total all out whine, but more saying things with some complaint. Minor injuries (things I wouldn't even label as injuries, really) send her over the edge and give her ammunition for why I don't love her (apparently, I don't drop everything and run over quickly enough every time - yeah, well, I don't drop everything unless it seems to be more than the minor non-injury it usually is). Fake laughing really gets me. Tittering like a fool really, really gets me. Oh, and asking questions she already knows the answers to in a fake little girl voice. Oh, man. That's a biggie. That's probably about the complete list. Short, really. But, frequent.

Sometimes I wonder if she was like this when Max was still here and I just didn't notice over his overwhelming behaviors. I know she wasn't perfect when he was here and some things rubbed me wrong then, too. And yet. It seems worse now.

I wish I knew why I can't seem to overlook that stuff, which, really, is minor compared to all the really great things about her. So, I'm back to, it's just me. I must not be an accommodating person. I guess adoption wasn't the way for us to go. Or did I become like this after Max? Whichever. I'd like to be a better person now. Will that work? Just saying it? I'm guessing not.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I seem to be in a blogging slump. My life is just chugging along, going fine. Well, I am still stressed about our budget and today's trip to Costco, even though we only got food and almost exclusively fresh produce at that, didn't help. But, otherwise, all is well, but not so exceedingly well that it's blog worthy, ya know.

It was Anthony's Friday off today and the three of us spent the day together up until Davan had gymnastics. We had breakfast together, hung out together for a bit, went to Costco, ate lunch while watching the recorded Survivor episode from last night, played family rotational fun, and rode bikes to the gym to drop Davan off.

That's something I'm excited about, actually! All three days this week, I've taken Davan to gymnastics on the tandem. It's a little thing, but I love that I'm doing it. It's good for my health (there is a big hill on the way back) and, over time, the saved gas money is good, too. I also rode to the post office, the library and the produce stand this week.

We finished Davan's Halloween costume today, which was a relief and made Davan very happy.
We warned her to expect that people wouldn't know what she, in case you don't remember the post where I said what her costume was going to be and can't tell from the picture, she's a gnome on a toadstool. And a cute one at that.

My parents are back in town after almost two months. We get to see them tomorrow and we're all looking forward to it.

So. Yup. All is well. I'm happy, if a bit poor, and I'm off to enjoy more of my weekend. And possibly the season finale of Angel season 1, if Anthony feels like it...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lots of Being Busy

Anthony had his century bike ride on Sunday and quite enjoyed it. He was happy with his time and happy with the ride. He was a bit tired on Sunday and Monday, too, but nothing major and not even really sore or anything. What a stud.

Davan played with her friend, I, most of the day Sunday and had a great time, as well. She came home starving, as usual, having not found much there that she was willing to eat. I'm thinking of making her a card saying something like, "I'm mostly a vegan, so I don't eat dairy (especially cheese - some other very small amounts of dairy are okay) or meat, although I do sometimes eat seafood. I prefer whole grains. I don't eat anything with high fructose corn syrup, nor things with a lot of sugar, as a general rule. If you don't know what to feed me, it's okay. Just let me or my mom know and I can bring some food from home. I do like most fruits and vegetables!" Then we can just hand out the card when she is going to go over to someone's house for the first time. As it is, we hardly discuss it and then it's left looking like she's a very picky eater, which she is sort of, but mostly out of making healthy choices, as opposed to to traditional view of picky, where a child only eats peanut butter and jelly and mac and cheese.

I played Twilight Imperium most of the day, which was both fun and...well, overloaded with teenage boys....who are usually okay, but sometimes a little...well, teenage boyish. Lots of movie quotes and reenactments, lots of getting sidetracked.

Then we had our usual Monday on the run with art, swimming and Do Jump. Anthony took the day off from riding, so he met us at Do Jump. He and I spent our "date" time eating our packed dinner, going to Trader Joes and going for a walk.

Yesterday was not so busy, but still went by way too fast. I mailed off a few things that had been bought on EBay, riding my bike to the post office to do so. Davan had gymnastics in the evening - she got a rip last night, poor kid. My father in law also came over for dinner.

I filled my time with going over our budget. At times, we've stayed strictly on budget. That is, we've taken out cash for the month for various things - food, gas, fun spending - and, when it's gone, it's gone. And we have to make due until the next month. At other times, it's a loose guideline. We each have our allowance and we just keep in mind what our budget is. At other times, we are a little reckless, without letting ourselves get into debt, but letting things slide a bit so that our cash store gets depleted more than it should. The whole time Max was here, we were mostly between not strict and a little reckless.

The last time I looked at our budget was in the spring. Things looked okay and I maintained a relaxed feel about money after that. However, our financial picture has changed drastically. We did have a little income for having Max with us, which we lost, but, really, about covered our month to month spending on him, so until the summer camp spending, we were really about breaking even there. The main things are first the huge spike in spending just before he left, continuing on until after he left because of the camp not reimbursing us when we pulled him out of the camps that happened after he left, and Davan being on team.

The camp spending for the summer was rough on the savings account (not to mention his birthday party, which was more extravagant than we've done for birthdays in the past). Plus, just before and just after he left, we did a lot of spending on eating out and, generally, just had an attitude of, "Let's not worry about that right now," in regards to spending. Well, and I went and signed Davan up for Do Jump, thinking she was quiting gymnastics. But, then she didn't. All of that ate away at some money that we were hoping use for home improvement.

What is on-going is Davan's gymnastics. It's a hugely expensive sport. For the 12 hours of gymnastics instruction a week, we're paying $220/month. In addition to that, we have team fees, totaling $1250 for the competitive season, $196 for her competition leo and warm ups, $200 (maybe more - I don't know yet if we'll need hotels for other meets - that's just one) for a night at Great Wolf Lodge where she has a meet in January, and $56 to be a member of the United States Gymnastics Federation, without which, she can't compete. Whew. It's a lot. Like a dip into our savings to make it happen a lot. I don't want our savings to completely disappear.

So, in order to keep the dipping into the savings to a dull roar, we're going to be on a pretty strict budget. I need to keep spending on food down more than I have been. We need to keep within our small family fun budget. We can do, on average, a couple of nights of tent camping a month - more if we free camp. If we want to camp over the winter (more than I've already planned for), which means yurts, we might have to make cuts elsewhere if we want to stay more than one night.

The budget doesn't even really cover special spending - such as our birthdays (we do have a small fund for miscellaneous expenditures, which includes birthday presents for cousins and such) and other holidays. It'll be difficult to afford to eat out on those days, frankly, and stay in budget. Anthony does get two "bonus" paydays a year because he gets paid on an every two week schedule. That works out to two pay days a month most months, but two months a year, there are three. Those extras paychecks will have to cover gymnastics related stuff that the monthly budget doesn't, birthdays and holidays, clothes, travel (we are going to Disney World in December, which we're only having to pay for our own tickets into the park and food, but that will be expensive enough), home improvement. That's a long way to stretch.

It's important to note that we're not destitute. The worst case scenario really is that we eat away at our savings, not that we don't eat, and that's if Davan continues with gymnastics. Without gymnastics, we're making ends meet well enough, although who doesn't want a little more? To think we could have just quit gymnastics and I actually encouraged her to stick with it.

Now that we're past the rough patch, though, it's clear that she really does love it. She talks about it all the time, loves getting and improving skills, and even had great things to say about last night, irregardless of her rip and the fact that she had a hard time eating the dinner I'd packed her (soup with no spoon). She's okay with me leaving and not watching practice. She's practicing at home. It's clear it's a passion. And I think valuable lessons were taught by getting through the difficult part. So, it's worth it. We'll just need to be more careful with money. Like everyone these days, I guess.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Weekend is Here

And we are not going camping, after all. We were supposed to camp at Champoeg State Park tonight, but, due to the freezing (literally) temperature forecast and the fact that we would be in our tent, we decided to chicken out. We were camping there so that we'd be on hand in the morning for Anthony to do the Harvest Century Bike Ride, which was a birthday gift from Davan and I. Anthony will still do the ride, but he'll drive down in the morning. It's not very far.

Davan and I are, therefore, headed over to open gym in a little while. Davan was talking this morning about how glad she is that she didn't quit gymnastics, how much fun she's having and how much she'd miss it if she had quit. That sure makes paying the exorbitant amounts of money for tuition and fees easier. Then she practiced her floor and beam routines for a while after breakfast.

This afternoon, we'll do a set of family rotational fun activities in lieu of the camping. And, tomorrow, I may get to go to a game of Twilight Imperium (yeah, I'm a game geek - I'll be the only player older than 21) which I had previously declined due to camping, if there is still room at the table. Davan will either go up with me and just read/hang out/play in their yard or have a play date. We're not sure which, yet, but it sure is nice of her to be willing to go, even though there won't really be anything for her to do.

Speaking of my daughter, she was telling me in the car on the way home from gymnastics last night that, because she always "stands like a gymnast" in like, her coach is always saying stuff like, "Look at Davan! Try to be more like that. And this is from the one who hasn't even competed at level 4." My daughter is the teacher's pet and will get beat up at lunch time. I'm thinking I should always be there for break. Only half joking.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Angel's Rest

Davan and I hiked up to Angel's Rest this morning. It's 2 1/4 miles with a 1400 ft elevation gain to get to the top. Davan thought the views were spectacular. I've done the hike a few times before, but it was Davan's first time on that one.

Who's the Adult Here?

I dropped Davan off for gymnastics last night. And promptly started feeling a little weepy. I seemed to have some free-flowing separation anxiety. I had dropped her off some this summer, but it was mostly only to walk and it just felt different. She hadn't been teary or upset herself and, while she would have liked me to stay, was okay with me going. It was me who had the problem. Sigh.

I got in a walk (during which it positively poured rain on me while only sprinkling at the most before and after all day), had dinner with Anthony, we watched a Buffy and then we went to watch the last hour of gymnastics. It was a little boring to watch, honestly.

I liked going on Tuesday for break better, so I think I might do that again more regularly. The only downside to that plan is that means three times of back and forth - once to drop off, once to go for break and once to pick up. It's only about 3 miles there, but still....that's 6 miles round trip, which means 18 miles each time she does gymnastics. So, I don't know. Maybe that won't be every time. Maybe I'll ride my bike to go for break. I guess we'll see. We'll get into a routine with it where it'll seem normal. Dropping her off for hours regularly. I guess that'll seem normal. I don't know how we'd do school.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm pleased to drop her off at friend's houses for hours at a time. I like the time to myself or with Anthony. I don't know for sure why this is different. It's so much more, I guess. And there were the issues over the summer at the old gym, which is probably adding to things.

Davan was telling us last night that she still doesn't like J's (coach that is helping out the main level 5 coach until a second level 5 coach can be found) style all that much. I want to think she's being overly sensitive, but I think she has a point. J told a girl that if she did her kip that turn on the bar, then everyone else would have to do 10 push ups. Davan said that it's not that she minds doing push ups herself, but some people do, so that isn't good motivation - making other people do stuff they don't like. I agree. Davan also said, though, that she thought J's intentions were good. I agree with that, too.

For now, I'm thinking Davan is okay for the year. She likes her main coach and is happy about going mostly so far. If she sticks with it, we may need to think about something else for next year, though. Already, I'm seeing things that concern me some at this gym. There is a lot of standing/sitting around on the gymnasts' parts. I'd like to see them things to work on and some accountability. When the optionals were doing floor last night, one girl did her routine something like 4 times. Another girl did hers once. None of the other 5 girls in the group did theirs at all. What's up with that? And, if they weren't just sitting around, they were doing round-offs, which is just play, rather than working skills.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

One Cool Kid

You know, Davan is a pretty cool kid. I'm really lucky. Gymnastics saga and oversensitivity aside, I really enjoy being around her quite a lot. Yeah, she has her quirks. Sometimes they annoy the Hades out of me. But, really, there is so much good and enjoyable there.

Davan has done her own reading about health - exercise and food and all - and come to her own conclusions. She helps me to remember what I want to accomplish. She does yoga with me, goes shopping without ever once asking for junk food and even helps unload at the end.

Probably because of her super-sensitivity, she really tries not to hurt people's feelings.

She loves being helpful and we've spent a lot of nice time working together on chores or in the kitchen. Time spent reading together, listening to each other learn piano, playing games, eating, reading across form each other (different than reading together) and going for walks are also very enjoyable.

I'm so lucky to have a person that lives with me that shares so many of my goals and interests. And, frankly, I'm lucky that she has her own interests, as well, because there is only so much time two people can spend in each other's immediate company.

Anthony, of course, is a great partner and my for life companion. I greatly value my time with him, as well. Davan will move on and Anthony will not. However, at this point in our lives, my time with Davan is more intense, as it has been sense she was born. We just have a lot more time with each other and, especially when she was a baby/toddler/preschooler, she had so much need of me. Thank goodness Anthony was there to support and distract at that time, too.

I'm so glad that Davan homeschools and we get our time together. With 12 hours a gymnastics a week and time with friends, if she were going to school, I'd hardly see her, it seems. And she would not be learning valuable lessons like how to entertain herself and how to get along with her crazy mom.

Davan has a friend, I, who goes to school, does gymnastics, does drama, takes voice lessons and takes piano lessons. She's really into drama, doing it many hours a week, like gymnastics. This is a bright and imaginative little girl. Over the summer, she and Davan played together regularly (once the series of drama camps ended) for hours on end and had a great time. I, though, now only has a few free hours a week.

Her mom tells me that at the end of summer, when drama was over and gymnastics was on break, I sort of wandered around the house at loose ends, not knowing what to do with herself. With all the structured activities, she's never learned how to entertain herself.

There was a study done once that said that a child who said, "I'm bored," more than his peers would be more likely to experiment with drugs. I can see that. But, I think that some parents take that to mean that they need to keep their child constantly scheduled so there isn't time to be bored. What I think it means is that a child needs to learn what to do with themselves when they aren't being entertained. And they need to do that when they are little, but not too little, rather than wait until their preteen/teen years when they might have access to drugs.

I believe that a lot of what happens is that kids get over scheduled when they are young, then they burn out on those activities and want to quit, usually around middle school. Now, they have time to be bored, but it's a bad time to be bored with drugs available. It's too easy to fall into the wrong crowd at this point rather than develop hobbies.

I expect Davan's hobbies to change over time, but now, I'd say that her personal (rather than group or structured activities) hobbies are drawing, reading, imaginative play, acrobatics and piano. She has lots of ways to fill unstructured time.

Boy, this post morphed over the length of it. Still, at the end, I'd say the point is the same. Davan is a cool kid. I think homeschooling has had a lot to do with that. Not that a kid can't be cool who goes to school, too, but I think it's more challenging to stay true to one's self in school.

So, go on Davan, with your imagination and keen intellect. Go on with doing what you think is right. Go on with your perpetual motion. Go on with your quirks and ultra sensitivity. I love you and think you're pretty awesome.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Book and Gymnastics Review

Whew. Gymnastics went well. Even though it went well last week, too, Davan was still feeling like maybe four hours was too long. Tonight, though, she said that she must have been starting to get sick already then because she had a great time and was raring to go for even more. She said she'd be delighted if she could go again tomorrow instead of waiting until Thursday. Whew. I mean, really. Whew. She also got her kip on the high bar once tonight. Wow! She's flying through new skills!

I read a book over the weekend called Waistland; The (R)Evolutionary Science behind Our Weight and Fitness Crisis by Deirdre Barrett. It was a very enjoyable and informative read. Deirdre Barrett is an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. She talks about how our instincts are suited for life in the African savanna and not for suburban (or really urban or farming) life. One of our faulty instincts is, for example, we see food, and it causes a signal telling us that it's time to eat. With food-a-plenty and advertising, it's a bad, bad combination. She has a lot to say about food, exercise and TV mostly. I really enjoyed it, sharing many points with my family as I came across them.

Weekend in Review - Busy Weekdays

We had a nice, mostly chillin' out sort of weekend. We got a good deal of stuff listed on Craig's List and on E-Bay that we're looking to sell. It takes a remarkably long time to take care of stuff like that - taking pictures, uploading, typing out the doesn't seem like much, but it's a time drain.

Other than that, we did family rotational fun for most of the day Saturday, watched a movie, I got in a couple of walks, and we just hung out. It was nice.

This week has been busy so far. Davan and I have been on the go from morning until bedtime. Monday we got up, did chores, did a yoga video - Yoga Burn with Rodney Lee, which I liked, but Davan found a little boring, ate breakfast and then were out the door with a packed lunch to get to Davan's art class.

While she was arting, I went to a music store and picked up the next of the series of piano lesson books. Davan and I are both nearly ready for it. I also picked up a beginner violin book because we're both going to try out violin, as well, with a violin a friend loaned me in need of repairs. It's done as of this morning, but I haven't had time to pick it up yet.

After the run to the music store, I ate most of my lunch while waiting for Davan to finish. We hoped in the car, where she ate her lunch (or most of it) on the way to swimming. It was so much fun! We were so glad swimming has started up again. I'd missed it. I loved swimming and I loved seeing everyone after the summer break.

We took a breather after swimming, finishing lunch and socializing with friends at the pool, but soon were off again to the grocery store. We got home with just enough time to unload, put away, make dinner and take off for Do Jump. Davan ate dinner in the car on the way there. While she was Jumping, I walked the couple of blocks to Fred Meyer to pick up almond milk (leaving with the almond milk, plus a new can opener), then I had dinner myself. I walked until class was over and then we came home. Whew. We had about an hour to spend with Anthony before Davan went to bed.

Today was similar, but we got to stay at home for one appointment. We did chores, did a different yoga video Source Power, which we both found a little weird and quite challenging. Challenging is good, but the weirdness is probably too much for us. After eating a quick breakfast, our book group leader came over to work with Davan on reading out loud to preschoolers. Davan is volunteering twice a month to read to a class of preschoolers. I worked on dinner prep while they talked, then we all had a nice visit.

After our friend left, we threw together lunch and I ran to the local produce stand to pick up some fruit. Then I finished with dinner, packed it for Davan and I, left Anthony's in the fridge and we were off to the library for a homeschool adventures class for Davan. In fact, she's still doing it and I'm using the library's computer. I sat in for a bit and learned some interesting things about cut paper illustrators, but when they started on the craft, I bowed out.

In a few minutes, Davan will be done and we'll be off to her gymnastic class. I'll stay for a bit, go for a walk, join her for her break, then leave again for a while. This evening, it'll be more like 45 minutes of time with Anthony before bed. Busy days!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Stuff and More Stuff

We did end up getting a lot of things listed on Craig's List yesterday to sell. Hopefully some of them will go! There are a few things we may try to sell on Ebay if they don't go, but we want to get this stuff gone, so there will be a Goodwill trip at some point in the not too distant future for leftovers.

Davan didn't go to gymnastics last night. Yeah, she'd thrown up in the middle of the night, so that seemed like an okay choice. It can take a while to recover from a bought of the stomach flu. However, I still don't have a feel for if she really wants to do gymnastics. I'm still looking for a little enthusiasm - a little, "I can go to gymnastics, Mom!" like she used to say even when she wasn't doing so well. It may well come back, but it makes me nervous. We're committing to over $1000 in team fees for the year no matter if she sticks with it or not.

So, we had another talk yesterday. It was miserable. I really want her to step up and make the decision. She really doesn't know what she wants. She wants to do gymnastics. She likes mastering the new skills. She likes the physical fitness aspect of it. She likes her new coach. She's worried, though. She's worried about being late to practice (it's never happened aside from one scheduled late coming, although we've been close), she's worried about competing and messing up on easy stuff at meets, she's worried she'll cry at gymnastics and she thinks that 4 hours is pretty long for practice. Which it is, but this is from the energizer child who told me she'd live in the gym if she could.

I'm so sick of this discussion and of the stress of to do it or not. We're going to go ahead and have her sign up, but if she doesn't want to go, then I won't be the cop on that one. If she gets kicked off team because she has chosen to miss too much, then we'll be out the team fees and that will suck. In April, if she's made it through, she can choose to go for another year or choose a different sport or whatever. If she hasn't, then in April she won't have the option of gymnastics, but she can still choose another sport.

I won't be paying for 7 months in advance - if we did, we'd only pay for 6 months and the 7th would be free - because I don't know if she'll still be there for sure. It's an expensive gamble with the team fees, but there it is. She'll have her chance. She'll have a chance to recover from the poor experience of this summer. It'll probably take, too.

As an aside, my neck is still causing me problems. It was still hurting, but livable and I could do most things, but on Thursday it really started hurting again. It's enough that it's interfering with sleep and I'm using hot packs, topical rubs and some ibuprofen here and there. Sigh. I'll be really glad when it doesn't hurt anymore. I'm also back to the super easy and gentle yoga, which isn't getting me a lot of exercise. I need to get out and walk, but the rain is deterring me. I'll get over that. I usually walk in all sorts of weather, but it's our first real stretch of gray and wet days and I've been feeling like hibernating, which can be fun, too.

And now, I'm off to help with the apple muffins we're having for breakfast this morning. So far, I've been sitting here, typing away while Anthony is chopping away, which is fine, but...well, it's nice to work together in the kitchen, too.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Wish Come True - Partially

Davan woke up in the middle of the night and had another vomiting session. But, it was in the toilet! Whew. Of course, it'd have been much better if she hadn't gotten sick again, but there is it.

She's feeling better today - no sulfur burps she says. The jury is still out about gymnastics tonight, though. We'll see how the day goes. We'd been thinking about going to a homeschool day at a local reenacted homestead, but we won't be doing that so that Davan can just have a down day.

We're going to do some work on house projects. Yay. My favorite. It feels like pulling teeth to get me started because there is just so much to do. First, though, we need to focus on clearing out stuff that we don't need. We've been working on this in a haphazard manner already, but we'll spend some focused time on that today. It'll be fine. Just that. We don't have to tackle the whole house and yard today.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


You know what one of my least favorite things in the world to do is? Clean up puke. I have a pretty easy gag reflex myself, so it's really not fun.

Today Davan woke up and said that her stomach didn't feel so great. I asked if we needed to cancel the day's activities and she said, that, no, she felt like she'd be okay. After breakfast, she said she felt better. However, off and on she still said she was feeling iffy.

Just before gymnastics, she was burping sulfur burps. She still wanted to go, though.

Once there, she did warm ups, then came and said that her stomach just hurt too much. Now, I'm thinking to myself, are we seeing gymnastics induced stress again? Should we really not do this? Plus, it was sort of bad timing. After all, she hasn't come across as the most confident child at the gym so far. My first thoughts were all about how this looked, not about her well being, I must admit. Not that it was without reason. She did have some pretty good exaggerations this summer.

However, the faking question was set to rest by her puking all over the back seat on the way home. Then, I got to clean it up while she got to lay down with her book. What a deal. Sometimes you've gotta ask yourself why you signed up for this mommy gig anyway.

The good news is that she's already eating and keeping stuff down, so it seems to be short lived. I just hope that if there is more puke, it goes in the toilet.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

After Dinner Activities

Tonight after dinner, we listened to the end of Circle of Magic; Tris's Book and started Circle of Magic; Daja's Book while we started work on Davan's Halloween costume. She's going to be a Gnome on a Toadstool.

Then we played a couple of games of Amazing Labyrinth. It's a favorite of ours, Anthony's in particular.

After wearing her hat for a while, Davan decided she was going to call herself an Elf on a Toadstool instead.

Also this evening, two of our cats were sharing a food dish. That's unusual around here where all of our cats seem to like to keep a healthy distance between themselves. Of course, these are our two boys and they are the most comfortable (if you can call it that) with each other. The girls tend to rule by force. Oscar, the gray one, is very much a whipped puppy if Licorice (the smallest by far of all our cats) is around.

Suddenly It's Very School-y Around Here

This morning Davan was doing more work on the states. Last night, after gymnastics, she made a chart of the states in the order in which they became states. This morning she started individual one page reports on each state, with a drawing of the state and an assortment of facts about that state. So far, she's only completed Delaware, but it's a through job and she's working on Pennsylvania, even though she was interrupted by the Juliette (independent Girl Scouts) meeting we went to this morning.

However, after only a short while of working post Juliettes, it was lunch time and, during lunch, her newest Odyssey magazine captured her attention. We really love the Cricket magazines around here. My parents are kind enough to give Davan 4 different subscriptions from them and she just devours them when they arrive. It was enough that the state work area has been temporarily abandoned.

This month's issue is about robots and Davan is into it. There are experiments to do and she is planning on doing them as soon as she's done reading.

What a lot of "school" work for the unschooler. It doesn't always look like this around here, but that's one of the great things about unschooling. You just go where your interest lay. If that's with doing hours upon hours of gymnastics and building a Mt Everest out of whatever is on hand in the living room to work with for tobogganing, great. If it's writing reports on states and reading and doing experiments with robots, also great. It means so much more if you want to do it.

October is Here

For the whole month of September, we did not eat out.

For the whole month of September, we did not buy any junk food at all.

For the whole month of September, we said, "No thank you," to any and all offers of junk food.

The "we" here being Anthony and I. Davan did have an ice cream cone when offered one at Oak's Park, which is fine. It's Anthony and I that have made a pact.

For our anniversary, which is at the beginning of September, we decided, rather than exchange gifts, we would exchange promises of health. We want to be healthy for each other and healthy examples to Davan.

Making it through September is great! However, we're going for a full year. So, we're 1/12 of the way there. In many ways this first month will have been the hardest, but I also know that December will be difficult.

We have a list of acceptable junk food days, which is as follows:

Birthdays of immediate family members
Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's
Mother's Day
Father's Day
Groundhog Day
Airplane Travel
Character Meal at Disneyworld
Company party for Anthony's work

And that's it. Yeah, I know Groundhog Day is a funny one, but we have friends who throw a big party that day every year and we'd be sad to try to be good at.

Now, it's important to note that each of those days are just those days. We don't get to make Christmas last for a week by buying way too much food and then eating leftovers, for example.

Even though December will be one of our biggest junk food months (flying to and from Disneyworld for a wedding, where we will also have a character meal, Davan's birthday and Christmas), it will also be challenging because there is so much junk offered that time of the year.

So far, so good, though. I'm pleased with our savings with not eating out. I'm pleased with how my clothes are fitting. And it's not like we're suffering for food. We can all eat as much as we like, but without the eating out or bringing in junk, I'm just naturally slimming up, even with big 'ol smoothies with peanut butter sometimes twice a day and snacking whenever.

Additionally, I've been doing a yoga or pillaties workout every weekday morning. When my neck was so sore at the beginning of the month, I did a very easy yoga workout, but when it got better (although it's still not totally recovered, much to my annoyance), I did a much harder power yoga workout most mornings. I feel good about that, but I haven't been walking much this month and I want to remedy that.

All-in-all, though, the overall health report is good with a good outlook for the rest of the year.