Friday, November 05, 2010

Food dancing

Giving up control over my kids' food choices was a long, hard road. Floating, taunting GMO, pesticide, dye and corn syrup monsters would swirl around my head, laughing at my inability to protect my kids, every time they ate anything that wasn't organic or was too processed. I didn't always say something, but said enough to make a big issue out of food. This resulted in Gillen sneaking sugary foods into his room and in him biking to the store to find the choices that were denied him at home.

We have come through this difficult time. I backed off a few years ago and have learned that the kids do make good choices on their own. They love vegetables and eat them all the time. They eat them raw at the farm and they happily eat things like kale salad, vegetable soups or sauteed Bok Choi. They also like sugar, a lot, but prefer the natural sodas and homemade baked stuff to the nerds and airheads, for the most part.

I realized, a few months ago, that Gillen may have the gluten-intolerance that my father and sister and I have. He was having some of the same symptoms. In order to find out, Nicolas, Jesse, Gillen and I did an elimination diet/cleanse, for a week. We ate no corn, gluten, sugar, caffeine, meat, beans, potatoes or dairy. We ate a lot of fruit smoothies, brown rice, quinoa tabouli, stir fries, soup, fish, vegetables and good oils. The first few days were very difficult for Gillen, but he hung on for the whole seven days. The coloring in his face changed, he slimmed down and he had more energy. He told us that he felt great. The rest of us got a lot out of it as well. This was right before Halloween and the candy just didn't taste like we wanted it to. Our taste buds had changed.

Gillen is still going to eat gluten and sugar. When he reintroduced gluten, he didn't notice any huge difference in his body. He is eating less of it. If he does has a gluten-intolerance, he will deal with it when he is ready. Now that he has a reference in his body for what it feels like to only eat lots of non-processed pure food, he appreciates eating it even more.

At the beginning of the cleanse, Gillen happened to discover Anthony Bourdain, food adventurer, on netflix instant view. Over the last few weeks, we have traveled with Bourdain to eat in Vietnam, China, France (that one was during the cleanse - ridiculous that we kept cleansing instead of eating French cheeses!), Sicily, New Jersey..., last night - Polynesia. It is a fantastic show, besides the fact that it makes us all want to move immediately to each location - well, maybe not the one in Finland that was filmed in winter. It's making me want to eat cool fish and coconut milk concoctions for breakfast, like they did in Polynesia, and to consider eating parts of animals and fish that I would never have considered even looking at before (not that the kids have the same reaction). Food and its preparation is so diverse and gives us such a tangible link to a location that we may not get to see in person.

I'm ready to eat even more meals with all locally-produced ingredients. The cleanse reminded us of just how much we can do with our vegetables. But I can't imagine eating this way to the exclusion of unagi (smoked eel in sushi) or Asian meals that call for imported spices, or cheeses and chocolate that come from Europe (although more and more raw, aged cheeses are being produced in America). We can't afford a whole lot of these which makes them that much more special when we do get them.

I'm glad to have let go of the protective health fanatic persona that used to try to run the show. Now, food is a dance between following our senses, our associations, our opportunities for something new and different and following our knowledge. Hopefully, we have left behind the fear.

Willie, the new puppy, frequently follows her nose to the compost pile. The other day we saw her black blur running by under a big orange pumpkin.
Turns out that pumpkin is not a good choice for puppies. It was a stinky afternoon.
I love that Nicolas volunteered to help make thumbprint cookies with Jesse the other night, late.

The next night, my turn, we made old fashioned custard. Not exactly exotic, but oh so good.

All this food rambling is here to remind me to trust. It's always been easier for me in other areas than in this one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stitch and Witch

Last month, we spent the weekend with six other GA unschooling families at Fort Mountain State Park in north Georgia. We hiked, paddle-boated, swam at twilight in our clothes (the youngest and most intrepid of us), played putt-putt golf, ate lots of food and played games such as flashlight tag and "Pretty Pretty Princess" (both popular among the younger boys : ) But we never got around to the knitting or crocheting or stitching. This was a great excuse for me to throw a Halloween stitch and witch party with the same group of people (minus one family with a sick mom who was very missed.)

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Somehow, some southern Christians have manipulated things such that we have to trick-or-treat on Saturday whenever Halloween falls on a Sunday around here (apparently we shouldn't worship Satan on a Sunday - I never suspected that Satan had anything to do with Halloween, still don't.) This makes me mad and ranting could now hijack my blog post...I'll chew on some pumpkin seeds. Back to our Stitch and Witch party.

We lined the hall with larger than life fake webs, but the resident spiders helped us out as well.
Gillen always gets this expression when he is focused. I wish I'd caught the dimple and the tongue.Lately, he's been focused on hunting - hours and hours of completely silent waiting (no deer hit by him yet) from 5am-11, and then again for hours at night. He's also focused on guitar and on playing with a group of neighborhood boys, and girl, who ride bikes and play football with him once they're out of school. I miss him.

But for the last few days, we had the younger, more homebody side of Gillen at thirteen. He wanted to plan the preparations and help with the cooking. It was mostly younger kids coming to the party so he ended up leaving towards the end of the party to play football with his friends, but he was committed to helping make it happen.

There was a moment, during our crazed last minute preparations, when he wanted to drop everything to go shoot a squirrel in the backyard. The idea of having to brine a squirrel carcass right then, with so much else to do, had me screaming liking a banshee (aren't banshees more related to Hallween than satan?)

I am working on being a moment-to-moment, mostly-conscious mama. I'm definitely not there yet, especially when I've taken on way too many projects, supposedly for my kids.
The ugly moment passed quickly. The forgiveness I received was as sweet as chocolate (I'd say sweeter than but we all just did a week-long cleanse and right now chocolate is seriously sweet).

Stitching with Annie Hall and Zombie Woman/Scar Face:Dead Man Walking by:
All of the kids on the trampoline, watching each other do skits:Nicolas knows the right days to come home for lunch:

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Playing a great new board game that we bought a few weeks ago, Settlers of Catan We have played most every day since:We are so lucky. We have three very local (I'm talking out-here-in-the-boondocks-with-us local) families who unschool. The kids are very close. The kind of close that they can have three people together for a slumber party and no one ever gets left out. The kind of close where they respect each others' differences, with no fear of being judged or dropped. I love hearing, "That's your favorite movie (lego set, yu gi oh deck, book, drink)? Really? Not me." Great debates ensue with no one thinking they are going to change anyone's mind, they just love the debate.

I learned a theory from my brother, years ago, who learned it from a consulting whiz, that people learn best when in groups of seven. Interesting. A lot of learning happens with these kids as a result of just hanging out together, sharing their passions, free to experiment, fail and then learn from their mistakes, uninhibited by adult control. It's hard sometimes, not interfering, just waiting for them to ask for help. Especially when directing or art are involved (for me personally). I've learned (I keep relearning this!) that my unsolicited advice just stops their flow, frustrates them, keeps them from that brazen confidence that allows them to take the risks that forge new paths. Risks that I, who mostly learned from books and in classes, am hesitant to take.

I'm grateful for all of our friends, near and far.

And, we're incredibly grateful that our eleven year old dog, Tuki, has a young, new friend:
Four-month old Willie (named for my great-grandmother) showed up on our porch about a month ago. Tuki has a new lease on life. She's learning and teaching a lot lately.

"Follow me Willie, here's how to dig up the chipmunk we buried several days ago":
That is Leonard next to Willie, lying down exhausted from all the wrestling. Leonard used to be one of the boys favorite beings and is now Willie's favorite chew toy.

Willie has been going to work with Nicolas at the farm. Tuki gets a much needed break from the constant Willie love-fest. Time alone is good too. But after a while, we all miss our friends.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A few moments,

from the past several months:

In the spring, we noticed the local school kids at our public park having their end of year Field Day. Remember that awesome day when you get to ditch the routine for egg tosses and three legged races? Jesse decided that we should have a Field Day too. So we had a few friends come to the same field, a few weeks later, for kick ball, water balloon tosses, egg tosses and three legged races. They even made Field Day shirts. Next year, we'll have to make it bigger!

Another highlight was going to visit my sister, and friends, in Montana.

Hiking in Yellowstone National Park:

Skipping stones on one of the beautiful rivers in Bozeman:
In my sister's back yard creek:
Planning how to launch the homemade raft (we'd been reading Huckleberry Finn together):
Making the raft:Our intrepid host, Matt, not quite acclimated to summer water temperatures there yet.

Gillen was in ecstasy there. Fly fishing:

We even went to a ranch for a few days, where we got to ride horses several times in the mountains near Yellowstone and Gillen did some more fishing. He would like to be a cowboy one day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Learning something new

Since December, I've rarely been on the internet, except to google a few things and to buy some others. I have checked email once or twice a day, though sometimes I've even forgotten to do that. I didn't plan to stop checking blogs or writing here. It was the result of learning something new. It started with meditating. Consistently. Every day. That was new. And then I wanted to learn how to paint. Last week, it was collages.

In addition, waiting for Gillen to come out of his guitar class one day, I bought a keyboard. I've been reteaching myself piano (it's been thirty years). Crazy, eh? I'm lovin' it.

Of course, when you are surrounded by kids who have the freedom to follow every new passion and whim where it may lead, you tend to want to follow suit. Especially when they are old enough that there is room in the day to do so.

And it was Zoe. My friend Zoe left this world in early January after a long battle with breast cancer. She was so intense in her commitment to her kids and to her other passions; I think I have felt inspired to live fully committed to every moment, since I am still here and I can. Zoe means life. I feel imbued with life right now.

Though it may only happen once a month, I do want to stay connected to family and friends through this blog, and by reading others' wonderful blogs. Facebook - hmmm. That's a bit harder to take on part-time, but it feels better than quitting it completely, for now.

Today, several inches of snow had the boys building forts in the backyard and I picked up my camera - for the first time in months.

Again, after getting snow here just last March, a winter wonderland, here in Georgia:
Life is good.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sweet moment

In the midst of the usual sibling wrestling and screaming, there was this - an inspired moment of giving. Gillen got up before Jesse did and decided to make him breakfast and bring it to him in his room.
For a moment, Jesse said, he thought it must be Christmas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What they chose to do today

Jesse started a screenplay that is already five pages, printed out and cast, ready for its first day of shooting tomorrow with Eli, Alexander and Gillen. There will be more actors added on Friday. Right now, props and masks are being created.
In his spare time he cracked many pecans from the farm for the pie. We're all still cracking now, while watching SYTYCD and we are only half way there.
Earlier, we realized that we needed more nuts, the squash and the herbs for the next stage of the slow cooking marathon. Gillen brought his newest duct tape creation (intended originally to carry nerf bullets in the next ARGH nerf war) to the farm in order to easily collect the pecans.
It makes quite a cool man bag.
And, he came home wanting to make dinner! Man. My gratitude is overflowing. Salad filled with chopped root vegetables, mashed potatoes, and Romanesco cauliflower (newest thing Nicolas is growing - looks like light green broccoli and is delicious).
I am so grateful to have ended up with these two amazing boys in my life. Now I have to stop writing about them so that I can help them with the cracking.