Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deck the Halls

We broke five ornaments; one was fixable, only one of the remaining four had sentimental value.  It was a good day of tree trimming.  (For the record, two of the shatterings were mine)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ADHD Holiday Help

My friend Lisamarie is attending graduate school at a university that holds regular seminars to help people with AD/HD manage everyday challenges; they have talked about varying issues, such as studying, sleeping issues, and most recently coping with the holidays. She sent me this link to a website that hosts a number of articles about coping with AD/HD during the holidays. If you have a little person or a grown person in your life who suffers from difficulties with attention, add these articles to your holiday "to do" list. I devoured them and found them very useful.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hope for a Greener Planet

Duncan:  "Mama, can you pack one of our napkins in my lunch?"

Me:  "Why?"

Duncan:  "Because at school we only have paper napkins, and they are wrecking the planet."

Bless him.  I love these tiny pieces of proof that the way we are living our life is having a meaningful effect on my child.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Secret Agent Man

Recently, I read somewhere that children with active imaginations tend to be very bright. This is good news as I was informed this morning that my son is a secret agent, and he parks his ghost car under our basement.

Friday, December 3, 2010

You Get What You Get: A Parable in Three Acts

Act I:
When Duncan was three, I picked him up from daycare on his last day before summer vacation. It was unseasonably warm, and the teachers were herding the children outside with a cache of popsicles. Since Duncan was obviously excited, I sat down so he could stay and enjoy his popsicle. As the children lined up to receive their icy treats, one of the teachers reminded them "You get what you get so don't get upset." I've since figured out that this might be a common mantra among those who deal with the under 5 set, but I had never heard it before. Over the next several weeks, it came up a few times in our house. Sometimes, Duncan whined about something, and I replied "You get what you get so don't get upset." Sometimes, an adult harmlessly complained, and Duncan chimed in with his reminder. For a few nights, it was a fun bath game. We took turns:  one of us stated our disappointment while the other reminded us to be thankful for what we had. "Aw. I wanted chocolate ice cream, but I got this broccoli."  "You get what you get so don't get upset."
Act II:
Last Christmas, I worked extra hard to be Martha Stewart. Well, I would never really want to BE Martha, but you know. Everywhere you look, television, magazines, and movies tell you that that's what you should be, what you should want. I was racing around trying to finish shopping, wrapping, baking, and decorating while simultaneously trying to provide memorable holiday experiences for my child. We cut down a tree, went to a tree festival, baked cookies together, and wrote a letter to Santa. Sometimes, it was fun, and sometimes it was disappointing. I had ideas of what constituted a memorable Christmas, but they didn't necessarily match Duncan's definition of a good time. On Christmas Eve, we let him open a few gifts from us so that he wouldn't be too overwhelmed on Christmas morning. My little bookworm opened his first package, a book by one of his favorite authors, and exclaimed with obvious disappointment, "A BOOK?!!!," while he tossed the gift across the floor. It was an uncomfortable moment, but we all pulled it together and enjoyed the rest of Christmas eve and Christmas morning.
(It is a good time to mention that Duncan is usually charming and well mannered but had a bad case of the terrible 3's. In addition, he was on his way to being expelled from preschool. As it turns out, he is well on his way to an AD/HD diagnosis, having missed the pediatrician's criteria by one question on the parent surveys. He is easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli and has an attention span of approximately one nanosecond.)
The next day we went to my parents' house for Christmas. With two children and six adults and a crowded living room full of gifts, Duncan wasn't interested opening anything. He shut down. He opened a few gifts and then glazed over. We tried to engage him in his gifts, but he would have none of it. Finally, Jamie took Duncan into the next room, where it was quieter, and they played with various construction toys while everyone else opened presents. Slowly, over the course of the day (and maybe into the next day if I remember correctly), Duncan opened the rest of his gifts, with no audience and little fanfare. I was heartbroken. I didn't know what was wrong with my child, but all I wanted was for him to have a happy Christmas. I felt like a terrible mother because my child was so distraught about Christmas and a terrible daughter because I couldn't give my parents the enjoyment of watching their grandchild open Christmas presents. It was a difficult couple of days. 
As we were driving home, it hit me, like the proverbial ton of bricks. You get what you get so don't get upset. I didn't have the picture perfect Christmas, but we had some good times. I couldn't make it work for the grandparents, but Duncan was not unhappy. Once he was removed from the noise, and the people, and the "stuff" that left him feeling so overwhelmed, he actually played happily. He had a good time, and isn't that what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown? It was Christmas, and he was happy. That was more than enough.
Act III:
The tendency to Martha-ize Christmas is strong in me. I LIKE the baking and the projects and the shopping and making crafts with Duncan and watching his eyes light up when he watches a video from Santa. I continue to build expectations of what the holiday SHOULD be, but I am working hard to fight them. I realize that I can't craft the perfect holiday moment any more than I can make a 4 year old sit still when there is ice cream in the room. As we pitch ourselves forward, full throttle, into the holiday season, I need to live in the moment. When the good ones happen, like today when we watched Duncan's personalized video from Santa, I have to burn them into my memory. When he's not excited about something I expected him to enjoy, I have to let it go and move on. The holiday is not about my expectations. It's about enjoying family time. Duncan is who he is, and we love him. You get what you get so don't get upset; all that matters is for me to hold him, and love him, and thank the world for bringing this perfect comet of energy into my life.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Similes for Four

Jamie (at dinner):  "Why are you giving Mama the mad eye?"

Duncan:  "Because she just keeps talking and talking."

Theresa:  "Is that why you're cranky?  Was there too much talking at school today?"

Duncan:  "It was like the Bronx Zoo!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bag Lady

Many CSA (i.e., Community Supported Agriculture) farms package their shareholders' weekly harvests nicely in bags and boxes. Our CSA is not among them. I love our farm, but it has a very limited staff, and members are expected to bag their own weekly shares according to posted signs that specify the quantity of each item. I don't really mind that they ask me to bring my own bags. Reusing bags is the environmentally friendly thing to do. Last year, I bought those plastic grocery bags available at the store that are supposed to increase the life of your produce, but this year, I couldn't bring myself to pay for plastic bags. I have yet to find a fabric grocery bag that I like. Furthermore, if you're already an environmentally friendly person who takes her own reusable bags to the grocery store, you don't even have a good stash of plastic grocery store bags to use. What's a green feelin', bag reusin', CSA belongin' member to do?

I had to have something. Some items, like a head of cabbage or a bunch of beets, can go without bags, but two pounds of carrots, one and a half pounds of salad greens, and two pounds of carrots need to be contained.  One week, out of sheer desperation, I saved our bread bag. The next thing I knew, I was saving the bread bags, used Ziploc bags, the zip top miniature carrot bags from the grocery store, the produce bags from the store, the miniature bagel bags, and those little net bags the cherry tomatoes come in. I felt a little batty, just a little bit like I should be a single mother to 57 cats. On the other hand, I also felt a little giddy.  FREE BAGS!  FREE BAGS THAT WERE GETTING A NEW LIFE BEFORE GOING TO THE LANDFILL!  FREE BAGS THAT WERE BEING FILLED WITH ORGANIC, LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE AND REUSED A COUPLE OF TIMES BEFORE BEING RETIRED! Guess what? I don't care if I'm a little quirky; you all thought I was nuts when I gave up paper towels. You can admit it. But I cut out paper towels, napkins, and paper plates and improved my paper recycling habits, and I'm pretty sure I've saved a tree by now.  I rinse out those plastic bags, dry them on the paper towel rack, and the stuff them into a grocery bag to take to the farm next summer.

If you think I'm a little loony, walk into your kitchen and count all the things that are packaged in potentially reusable plastic bags. Then picture a big pile of those trash bags in your front lawn. It's ugly, isn't it. Don't you either want to get rid of them altogether or at least breathe a little extra life into them? If I use each of those bags twice, I reduce the pile of plastic in my virtual front yard. Think about it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes

From Duncan about our upcoming visit from Paul: "After he's gone can we start messing up the house again?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I have read a lot about the importance of building rituals into the lives of children, and of course I give it a lot of thought in my down time and think about how we might do it in our house, but I never act on any of my thoughts.

A few weeks ago, Duncan asked me what was for dinner, and I answered "Grilled cheese and soup."  "YES!" he exclaimed.  I asked him why grilled cheese and soup were so exciting. We all have our favorite meals, but no one had ever discussed this one. "That means tomorrow is pizza day, and then it's the weekend."

Several years ago, probably before Duncan was born, we used to have grilled cheese and soup on Thursdays because I had a meeting and got home late from work. It was a meal we could throw on the table quickly and not have to think much about. I resurrected it recently as a staple; even though I don't currently have any late meetings, we're all pretty wiped out by Thursday, and this meal fits the bill. I didn't really think much about it. I felt like it was a cop out to put it on the menu each week, actually, but it was working. Now, when I put grilled cheese on the menu, I realize it has become an important ritual for all of us that helps bridge the time between Wednesday and the weekend, and helps Duncan process the path of days through the week. Without any of us thinking it, grilled cheese became a ritual.

And so I head off home to heat up the carrot soup (that he still doesn't know has carrots in it - "I don't LIKE cooked carrots!", toast some cheese, and ponder the wisdom of my 4 year old.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bring Your Favorite Book Day

Since before Duncan was born, we have filled his life and our house with books. When I was pregnant, we read to him every night; we started buying children's books, and we even visited a book signing so that Mo Willems could sign our copy of Knuffle Bunny. We have scarcely missed a night of bedtime stories, and I doubt a day has gone by that he hasn't had at least one story read to him. Duncan's collection includes beautifully illustrated books, like Kitten's First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes, Jamie's copy of Where the Wild Things Are, and a copy of Goodnight Moon that Jamie bought for me before we were married. There are alphabet books, counting books, and award winners. More recently, we have been collecting chapter books, such as The Magic Treehouse and Junie B. Jones and my childhood copy of The House at Pooh Corner. Duncan has a love of books that would make any parent proud, and he delights (and also often frustrates) us be saying "Now read THIS book to me" as soon as we have finished the previous one. It is clear that we value the art of books and the act of reading.

So imagine my pride when Duncan chose Scooby-Doo and the Thanksgiving Terror to take to school today for Bring Your Favorite Book Day.

Like many other aspects of parenting, I am learning to validate his interests and realize that while he appreciates all the quality literature we have brought into his life, he also needs to develop his own unique identity. I'm sure that Scooby-Doo will be long gone when Duncan passes Knuffle Bunny Too on to his own children. At least I can hope.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Like Giving Birth

This is what I've been doing for the last two weeks.

It may not look like much to you except a group of insane women who are about to go over the edge, but this is our latest Associate level Orton-Gillingham training class and the three trainers.  Training teachers is not my favorite thing to do. If you know anything about Orton-Gilllingham, it is sort of a sacrilege for me to say this. I achieved the level of Fellow in the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, ostensibly, so I would be qualified to train teachers; the truth is, I would rather be teaching students. I'm an introvert, I don't like speaking in front of groups, and the whole thing leaves me in a constant state of anxiety. Now that I'm on the other end of it though (the course ended today), it's actually pretty great.

These women came into the course knowing little about dyslexia and about as much about the English as an average English speaker (i.e., not really enough to teach it in a logical, sequential way to a person who has a language-based learning disability). During the first few days, everything was new, from the structure of the brain and a working definition of dyslexia to the vowel and consonant sounds, six main kinds of syllables, and three rules of syllable division. And then just about when they worked their way through those challenges and had one nice day where we worked on lesson planning and no new content...we slammed them with everything they need to know to teach writing and advanced aspects of the language. By the time they were good and crazy (see photo above from Tuesday), we taught them about psychological assessment, gave them a fictitious student to plan for, and made them teach a lesson in front of us.  Mwah ha ha.  And then we gave them a test...and now they're gone.

But here's why it's a bit like giving birth. We have all already forgotten all the crazy stuff that happened in the middle. I have that warm and fuzzy feeling inside like I have helped to create something magical that I will now get to nurture as these people take on students, and we mentor them from afar. When we hugged good-bye and promised to keep in touch, and people talked of returning to take the next course, they were proud of everything they were able to learn in two weeks. I forgot all about the anxiety-ridden nightmares, sleepless nights, and early wake-ups of the last two weeks (do you doubt I have anxiety?), and all the juggling of course content, daily quizzes, the constant barrage of questions, books, materials, snacks, videos, tuition receipts...but I digress. The point is, I let go of all that and caught myself thinking "THIS is pretty cool." These people came together with a common purpose, bonded during the time they spent together, and are going out into the world to further the mission of teaching people with dyslexia. They will pay it forward in ways I can't begin to imagine.

I'm sort of glad that I won't have to organize this course again until next June, but I think I will suffer a little bit of postpartum depression. Good-bye Debbie, Alison, Nonette, Margaret, Melisca, and Chere. Thanks for coming and being a part of the magic we make at Kildonan. I hope you will love teaching dyslexic children as much as I do.

P.S.  My hair looks insane.  Don't know what that's about.

Eye Candy

In the time since I wrote last, I developed a little writer's block. Although there is plenty to write about, the second half of the summer seems too broad to tackle. It's not as if we really did THAT much, but sitting here on August 27 and looking back feels like standing at the bottom of a very tall hill and looking up. Each time I think about writing, I give up before I begin. But, as I tell my students, you have to start somewhere. Just write. So I'll begin my return with this lovely picture of the summer dishes in the drainer.

I didn't need new Fiesta Ware; I had at least 8 place settings, but somehow, they were all dark, wintry colors. Serving the summer's bounty on cobalt blue and persimmon seemed wrong somehow. I bought a few dinner plates from eBay in lovely summer colors, and I was really happy when I saw them lined up in the drainer. Even if I can't be eating corn-on-the-cob on the picnic table under the oak tree, looking at the pink, yellow, and turquoise plates makes me giggle a little, like sunshine.  They feel like bare feet in the summer grass, and I will enjoy them until snow is on the ground!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Birthday America

Thank goodness, America keeps having birthdays. I may complain about the governance from time to time, but I'm really glad to be able to live in this fine country. This year, we returned to the Clermont Historic Site for our Fourth of July celebration. It was hot as blazes, and we were all a bit droopy, but we spent a nice afternoon in some historic pursuits. Duncan was again transfixed by the fife and drum band.

We watched some children's games, like the three legged race and a cherry spitting contest, and Duncan tried out some historic games. We watched a rifle demonstration on the bank of the river, and luckily no one set the very dry grass ablaze.

Duncan and I decorated fans at the craft table, and they came in handy in the heat. After we all ate Italian ice, we enjoyed free ice cream provided by Stewarts. Hey, it was the only way to keep cool. 

We enjoyed some more music and storytelling with Tom Hanford.

When it was dinner time, Duncan insisted on leading us off to the perfect picnic spot he had picked out. We were afraid it was a wild goose chase, but we got to enjoy this view with dinner. (It did have the added attraction of the train tracks below. We watched several trains rumble by while we were eating.)

And this guy watched over us while we ate:

It was a nice, summer afternoon. I do think we've worn out the entertainment value of Clermont's Fourth of July so we should start thinking about what to do next year, but it was a beautiful backdrop to celebrate our country's independence.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Unless you're the kind of "sneak vegetables into your loved ones" freak that I am, it may have escaped you that there's a pumpkin shortage going on. Seriously. When I embarked on my project of baking random sweets full of vegetables (in an effort to combat the effect of Duncan's poor attention span on his nutritional intake), I researched a lot of recipes. I've accumulated recipes for zucchini, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and who knows what else. I was sort of saving pumpkin for a desperate moment. Since I buy it in cans still, it's always there. But I went through this phase last fall when I loved pumpkin and gorged on pumpkin beer, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin muffins. At the beginning of June I went looking for a new muffin to try for Duncan and thought I'd break out the sweet potato muffin recipe, which calls for canned pumpkin. I thought, why not? I was excited because I had kind of missed the pumpkin. Easy peasy.

I couldn't find pumpkin anywhere in Stop and Shop. I thought, it's a big store, we're in a hurry, I'll get it next time. I popped into the local Freshtown to pick up a can. I KNOW where the pumpkin is in Freshtown, but there was none to be found. I looked in Stop and Shop again, to no avail. On my fourth attempt, I actually asked someone in the store to help me with the pumpkin. The nice boy walked me to where the pumpkin should be (the Jell-O and pie filling section, by the way), and the shelf was empty. He apologized profusely when he saw the sign, which read "This item is temporarily unavailable." Jokingly, I said to Jamie "Either there's some kind of pumpkin shortage going on, or everyone in the tri-state area is baking pumpkin pies for the summer."

On a whim, I typed "pumpkin shortage" into my web browser that night. Low and behold, there is a shortage of canned pumpkin. (I did read several articles from reputable news sources, but go ahead. Try it yourself). The growing conditions for the last two summers (overly wet and cool) resulted in lower pumpkin harvests and reduced production of canned pumpkin. In fact, people have even been selling cans of pumpkin on eBay. (It's true.  I looked. I did not, however buy. I'm not CRAZY. Just touched. Special, maybe. Crazy, no.) Mystery solved. I'm kind of sad because I really do enjoy pumpkin. I'm also disappointed that I didn't have the sense to roast my own pumpkin, like SOME people I know (Matt and Courtney...who probably still have last year's pumpkin in their freezer).  But there you have it. If you were thinking pumpkin pie, think again. And if you happen to live in an area lucky enough to still carry canned pumpkin, pick me up a can, would you?

Friday, July 9, 2010


June flew by. Really, I don't know where it went. I worked for a great deal of June so it didn't really feel like summer until July. I did have days off here and there so I can't pretend it was all work and no play.

The first week I was training tutors for summer camp, Jamie and Duncan set up GeoTrax world so they would have something to keep Duncan occupied. They kept pretty busy. The hit the library and the bookstore, did some crafts, played outside, and made chocolate ice cream.

We got our vegetable garden going. Oddly, I have no pictures, but I'll post some soon. It can't be going too badly. We have baby peppers, lima beans, cucumbers, and watermelons taunting us in the front yard.

Duncan had a Children's Day at his preschool, and Nana and Poppy came down for the day so they could see his school and meet some of his teachers and friends. He road a pony, played in the bounce house, played some great games, and won $216 in the 50/50 raffle.

We met up with Grandma and Grandpa and Don and Sue for a barbecue at Jason and Suzanne's house. Good food, family, good friends, and croquet. Who can ask for anything more?

For Fathers' Day, we took a trip to a AAA baseball game and watched the Tri-City Valley Cats get creamed. We didn't care. We were two rows behind the visitors' dugout, and Duncan had a great view. He asked a lot of good questions about the game and really seemed to enjoy himself. We ate too much junk food (isn't that what baseball is for?), and Jamie and Duncan got new baseball caps.

We had fun visiting John, Melissa, and Anna in Hopedale, MA. Anna and Duncan played in the  sprinkler, and we visited the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park.

We all wanted this for our yards:

This was Melissa's favorite.  I was kind of fond of it too:

Finally, at the tail end of June, Jamie, Duncan, and I took a trip to Hancock Shaker Village, where we marveled in some aspects of Shaker life, such as their devotion to God and connectedness to nature and their diligence and industriousness (they harnessed water from a nearby reservoir to run their sawmill and various other running water uses!)  On the other hand, we could only shake our heads at their belief that they could propagate a religion solely through converts. We were also a little curious at how fancy and sophisticated the Trustees House was, where Shaker elders met with visitors from the outside world. It's a beautiful museum, and it was nice to take a step back and think about a simpler way of life.

Oh, yeah.  And Dawn, Diana, and I trained some teachers for summer camp. 

I seem to remember complaining at the time about having to work so soon after graduation, but in retrospect, it does seem like we were able to pack in a good amount of summer. I'm sorry for my long absence, but there you have it.  June, in a nutshell. I hope yours was as good as ours was!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dear Chives,

Thanks for being there for me. Last fall, I ripped you out of the ground, rudely and unceremoniously, and tossed you into the compost. "If I want more chives next year, I'll buy them again," I declared. But I forgot. I didn't plant you again, and I forgot to buy you in the grocery store last week. I needed you for my all-time favorite coleslaw recipe (cabbage, chives, cilantro, and a simple oil/vinaigrette dressing), among other things. And guess where I found you? On the edge of the compost pile, growing four times as big as you were when I chucked you there. Thanks for hanging in there and being there when I needed you most. It's a lot for a girl to ask from an herb, but I surely do appreciate it. And I'm sorry...she said sheepishly.


The Careless Gardener

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Talk About Slow Food

We keep a small vegetable garden. This year, we have 18 square feet planted with lettuce, carrots, peas, beans, scarlet runner beans, peppers, basil, parsley, cucumbers, lima beans, small watermelon, and small cantaloupe. We also have seven or eight tomato plants in grow bags. The vegetable garden doesn't really produce much, at least it hasn't in the last three years, and with our CSA membership, it's kind of unnecessary. I guess I keep doing it because I want to keep us in the habit so that when we have our own house, I can grow a bigger and more productive garden. It's also kind of fun and helps keep Duncan connected to the earth in between our weekly visits to the farm. He's proud that the lima bean he started at school from a seed is growing like a weed, and he likes to eat lettuce right out of the ground. Even if we ate nothing, I would think it was a useful exercise.

One interesting and annoying feature of our house is its lack of outdoor spigots. I have to water everything by hand, with watering cans filled at the kitchen sink. Since we're in the middle of a heat wave, I have to water every day. It takes eight watering cans to water everything:  vegetable boxes, flowers in pots and barrels, hanging basket, shade garden. I am embracing the fact that it takes me 4 trips in and out of the house to water everything; I'm thinking of it as extra exercise. I wouldn't mind if if cooled down by 30 degrees and rained every fourth or fifth day, but in the meantime, as long as I keep up the watering can routine, the plants are loving the heat wave. I hope it's really worth it because that is some seriously slow food.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Down on the Farm

I've been reading a lot lately about how important it is for kids, especially kids with AD/HD, to connect with the earth. I support that belief wholeheartedly anyway and spend a lot of energy trying to make sure my child spends plenty of time outside, appreciates the environment, and knows where his food comes from. Our trip to the farm today really drove the point home, however. We got to pick sugar snap peas today, and Duncan couldn't have been happier to be out there among the vines, carrying his quart container, and filling it with beans. He giggled and laughed and ate quite a few raw. Whatever amount of money I spent on this CSA membership was worth it just for the experience of frolicking in the peas.

Mostly Palatable Mustard Greens and Pasta Pie

Surprisingly Inoffensive Swiss Chard

Monday, June 21, 2010

CSA Bibles

In addition to the infinite number of recipes available on the Internet, I have found Farmer John's Cookbook, by Farmer John Peterson and Angelic Organics, and From Asparagus to Zucchini, by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, to be my best tools in dealing with the new and unfamiliar vegetables pouring in from my CSA.  Below is the "magic" spinach recipe that made my family so happy (From A to Z).
Cheesy Spinach  
3 eggs 
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice 
1 cup brown rice, cooked 
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley 
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional) 
salt and pepper to taste  
Mix separately:  
1 large bunch of spinach, chopped and steamed 
1 cup cottage cheese 
1 cup grated cheddar cheese 
4 eggs
salt and pepper to taste 
pinch of cayenne  
Spread the ingredients from the first mixture in the bottom of a greased casserole.  Spread the spinach mixture over them.  Bake at 350 degrees until firm, 45 - 60 minutes.  Makes 10 - 12 servings.

Farm Follow Up

So, how did our first CSA week turn out?  We had mixed feelings about sauteed radishes. Jamie sort of liked them. I think the words he used may have been "didn't mind." I didn't mind the warm radishes; what I minded was the bed of sauteed arugula they were sitting on. Many people have told me they like sauteed arugula; those must be the same people who like swiss chard. It was sort of stringy and slimy; since I like it raw, the sharp contrast with its cooked self was hugely disappointing to me. The stir fried chicken with bok choy was pretty good. I'm not sure we got Duncan to try the bok choy, but I liked it. It was somewhat tainted by its side dish, dandelion greens with double garlic, which not only pissed me off but took way too long to prepare for something that tasted that nasty. What was that quote of Scarlett O'Hara's about "we will never go hungry again?" On that day, when there is post-apocalyptic armageddon and literally nothing else on the earth to eat, I will eat dandelion greens. Cilantro pesto with chicken was pretty popular. One of the highlights of our week was Wednesday's meal of linguine with arugula pesto, farm fresh salad, and home baked English muffin bread. I spent a good deal of Wednesday night being pleased with myself, my farm, my husband, and pretty much any human being who has ever grown anything. (That happiness was later challenged when I was tricked into eating dandelion greens...but we take each day as it comes). Another pleasant surprise was our cheesy spinach (to Matt and Courtney - recipe coming soon). We are not spinach people. Jamie and I like it raw, in a salad. Duncan does not recognize it as a foodstuff. No one likes it cooked. But that was some darned good spinach pie. We ALL liked it, and I couldn't get over my shock. I was still talking about it the next day at school. Spinach a shocking success.  Details at 11:00.

This week's harvest was mostly salad things so I don't anticipate too much culinary excitement, but here's what we have coming next week:  scallions, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, arugula, garlic scapes, bok choy, dandelions, spring cabbage, romaine, lemon balm or parsley, or cilantro. So if anyone has hidden recipes they want to share, pass them along. I may try Matt's scallion pancakes if I can hunt down the recipe. One thing is for sure: we're not even bringing home those dandelion greens.


One of the things I find tricky about parenting is that you never know how things will turn out. Some days I feel like a good parent; on other days, I don't bring my best game. I have to hope that the good days will outweigh the bad days in the end. I hope that all the lessons I want to teach my son will take root and that he will end up a happy, productive, and healthy person. In the meantime, regardless of whatever happened today, I still have to get up and do it again tomorrow. Sometimes that means brushing off the fact that I returned home from work impatient and rolled my eyes when I had to play Grand Central Station with GeoTrax. Sometimes it means leaving behind my frustration with begging and whining and hoping that my child will be replaced with a pleasant and compliant pod person. Sometimes it means collecting those moments where I made my child giggle or when he thanks me for a gesture so small that it breaks my heart a little. "This is really good bread Mama. Thank you for making it." Sometimes it means appreciating that a four year old is proud that he knows how to make grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza and help bake muffins.

Tonight was one of those moments. We were working on cajoling Duncan to finish his dinner. I bit my tongue as he pulled the carrots out of his salad and stacked them in a pile on his place mat. A million voices screamed inside my head:  "Don't play with your food!" Then he put all the carrots in his mouth at once. A million voices in my head lectured:  "You'll choke." (Only one adult actually said the words aloud, and it was not me)  I was biting back "Don't play with your food!" again when Duncan pulled all the vegetables he didn't like out of his salad bowl and piled them on his plate. And in the silence where I was actively working on NOT nagging my child, he said "I'm going to put these guys over here. This can be the compost pile."

And I will save that one in my mental scrapbook to remind me that this child is really learning all the lessons I'm trying to teach him about the environment. He is learning that we don't use paper napkins so that we can save trees. He is learning that we don't buy individually packaged snacks so that we can use less plastic. He is genuinely learning that vegetables and eggs come from a farm and that farmer Dan works hard so we can have lettuce. The compost pile has become part of his everyday life. I see a glimpse that this child of mine will grow into a good steward of the earth, and it makes me hopeful; not just hopeful that he will turn out okay, but hopeful that he and his peers will make a difference on this planet. They will grow up learning how to put it right.

Talk about a leap of faith.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Don't know what the heck went on with the fonts there; I made everything the same size at least three times, but I'm not going to repost just because of a little OCD. I want to...but I won't.

CSA Week One - Think Aloud

This is sort of a think aloud.

Our CSA pickup starts this weekend, at long last. I'm looking forward to it because of the fresh organic vegetables, adventures in cooking, opportunities to pick some of our own food, and ready supply of local beef, goat cheese, maple syrup, and pork. I'm also a little nervous. I remember how it sometimes felt like the CSA ate up all our free time in the summer, between the pickups, the meal planning, and learning to cook new things. I remember how there were vegetables and dirt everywhere, and the tide of lettuce was unstoppable. This year, Karl shared a share with us again, but he'll be out for the count until August, recovering from back surgery and spending time with family so we'll not only bear the sole burden of food pickup but also have ALL the produce for the next month and a half. This year, I'm determined to try even more things (I conveniently neglected the dandelion greens and collards until they went bad last summer), to try preserve a bit more, and to do a better job of planning our grocery shopping around our farm haul.

With that in mind, I spent a good hour or two this week planning next week's menu.  This week's harvest:  radishes, komatsuna (a very leafy variety of bok choy), spinach, lettuce, arugula, dandelion greens. I combed my CSA cookbooks as well as a few online resources and planned menus that will (hopefully) use all the vegetables without me having to buy too many at the grocery store to complement them. 

Based on that research, here's what I'm doing with what we're getting as well as the week's menus. 

radishes - Sauteed Radishes with Radish Greens or Arugula - Farmer John’s Cookbook - p. 131
komatsuna (a very leafy variety of bok choy) - stir fried chicken with bok choy (Culinate How to Cook             Everything)
spinach - Cheesy Spinach (From Asparagus to Zucchini, p. 186) (easy but needs precooked brown rice/spinach steamed)
lettuce - salad
arugula - sauteed radishes and/or arugula pesto (Farmer John's cookbook)
dandelion greens - dandelion greens with double garlic (Culinate How to Cook Everythings)
Sunday - out
Monday - pork chops, sauteed radishes, cous cous
Tuesday - cheesy spinach, sausage, bread
Wednesday - pasta with arugula pesto, salad
Thursday - stir fried chicken with bok choy, rice, dandelion greens
Friday - pizza

And there you have it.  My plans for the first week's harvest are complete. I spared you the accompanying grocery list, but I'll try to remember to take pictures so I can show you how it comes out!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Up a Tree

The other day, I came home from work to find Duncan climbing the Japanese maple tree in our front yard. It was such a perfect little boy moment; he climbed up and down and in and out of the branches, with Jamie right there to catch him (though he was no more than 2 or 3 feet off the ground).  I asked him if he would stay there until I could get my camera so I could take a picture of him in the tree. He agreed, but when I returned with the camera he refused to pose for a serious picture. As a result, I don't have an awesome picture of Duncan in the tree, but I do have an amusing time lapse of faces he can make in a matter of minutes in an attempt to be stubborn.

The maple is perfect for a four year old to climb! He can get a few feet off the ground and back again by himself, and there are plenty of problem solving opportunities to entertain his rapidly connecting neurons.  I wish we had an indoor climbing wall at school because I think he would really enjoy it. Instead, we have to settle for "Hurry up, Mama. This branch is really hurting my penis," which is amusing in and of itself.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Long Time, No See

I just realized how long it has been since I posted any pictures of Duncan, and let's be real; you KNOW that's why you're here. I hadn't unloaded my camera in ages. Here are a few selections from the spring. Enjoy!

And this one's for you, Jay.  How much are you going to charge me per hour to train this monkey?