Thursday, November 13, 2014

a warm bowl on a cold day

so i'm taking that class on children's health which i've mentioned before – which has me on a bit of a kick. and in perfect timing, too: the sniffles have struck this house!

{before i dive right in, did you catch the free talk on fevers earlier this week? if you missed it but want to check it out, it's available until the 18th – go here. it was really good and totally worthwhile so if you're a mama who leans towards natural health, it will be time well spent.}

i always think about what the kids are consuming. and it might not always be the epitome of health perfection but it probably goes without saying that it's not just carte blanche around here. we go light on the dairy and even lighter on the sugar, no artificial colors and flavors, yes on the organic, in-season, pasture raised eggs and meat, blah blah blah. but, beyond really watching dairy (and sugar, always) when the kids are under the weather, i've never particularly categorized foods and their effect on the body: if it's healthy, it's healthy. but i'm now thinking about damp foods that create a damp environment in the body which is all too hospitable for germs to reside in – runny noses and mucus being a result. did you know bananas and avocados are culprits and should be avoided when germ bugs are afoot? i didn't. they're both so easy to get the kids to eat, healthy and readily available – i never considered them to be something to steer clear of when the littles are stuffy.

that's something i'm loving about the course – i'm learning about many things you can do to improve your child's immunity that don't require a long list of foreign ingredients or concepts. so often it's just about rethinking things, approaching them from another angle or just incorporating what you already have on hand in a fresh way.

and since it's that time of year, i decided to make congee – a rice porridge of sorts. it's one of those things that i've known about forever but never tried making and it's come up a time or two in the course so i figured now was the perfect time to make it. and, like i was saying, it doesn't require obscure ingredients. it's made up of staples – it's sort of comical that i haven't been making it routinely!

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here's how:
1/4 cup medium grain white rice (i use organic basmati)
4 cups of water (i use half chicken bone broth)
small knob of ginger, peeled and smashed (optional but so good)
2 organic, free-range chicken legs, skin off, flesh cut in towards the bone (to make it easier to cook)

1. in a lidded pot, bring the water, rice and chicken (and ginger if using) to a boil.
2. turn down heat to medium-low, partially cover pot leaving ajar so some steam can escape.
3. cook for about an hour and a half (or more) stirring occasionally, until the rice is a creamy porridge-y consistency and meat is falling off the bone.
4. remove any remaining chicken from the bone and return to porridge and stir to combine.

i serve a scoop in a bowl and drizzle it with a tiny amount of soy sauce and sesame oil – and down the hatch it goes. it might not win gold in the looks-department but who cares:
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it's such an easy, healthy meal. and one of those things that you can just think of as a base – it can be taken so many directions and flavored however you like. i think it would be so amazing with a pile of cooked veggies, fresh cilantro and a drizzle of miso sauce. now i'm hungry.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

findings and happenings

chirp chirp.

it's been quiet around here. life has been so busy and i'm just not finding (making?) the time to do some of the things that i love to do – like keep this little boat afloat, for one.

so here's a little recap about what's been going on around here. the latest findings and happenings:
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well, we had another fun halloween. bonz was a robot, mushy was a mousie. i freezer paper stenciled a hoodie, stitched on some dryer vent arms and suddenly he was transformed to bonz-o-bot. i knit him up a hat and attached a very sophisticated radar antenna. you know, silver pipe cleaners. then i knit mushy a mousey hat and freezer paper stenciled a shirt for her to seal the deal – a mousie tummy on the front and a mousie tail on back. our friends at 100 layer cakelet did a costume round up and we were quite flattered to be included again this year (last year's here) thanks, guys!
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but, my favorite memory of this halloween had nothing to do with costumes. we're in the midst of a serious drought here in santa barbara and the forecast called for rain on halloween night. mother nature held off until about 9 o'clock then absolutely drenched us. bonzo was just crawling into bed (it was a late night for him!) and fell asleep in my arms under the open window to the sound of pouring rain. it was heavenly.

i've also been wonderfully busy taking an online course on children's health. i have to tear myself away from the materials because it's so interesting – i keep wanting to eek out just a few more minutes listening and reading along. if you missed it, i talked more about the course a couple weeks ago – i would highly recommend signing up for their upcoming free talk about toddlers and fevers. you won't regret it. bonus: the free talk comes with a free gift. and it's great.

the calendar might say november but it was in the 80s today. i'm pretty sure that by the time it feels like fall, it'll be winter. but we've been trying to force some fall vibes regardless. our favorite after school snack is air popped popcorn drizzled with olive oil, nutritional yeast and sprinkled with herbamare. so good. then at night after the kids are asleep, i've been treating myself to hot cocoa. i heat up almond milk in a saucepan and add spoonful of maple syrup and unsweetened cocoa powder. then cozy up and watch the voice, which i'm obsessed with.
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then there's these two. there are plenty of squabbles, believe me. but there's so much more sweetness. they're such buddies and i love watching them pal around.

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so yeah. we've been busy but life's been good. it really does go by too fast, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

in bounds

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at a parents meeting at bonzo's rad school a couple weeks ago, his teacher led a discussion about boundaries – and how important they are.

it's a topic that i've written about a few (hundred) times around here but i felt so re-inspired and invigorated about the whole idea because of the way it was presented.

bonz's sweet teacher asked me to join her in the middle of a circle of parents-sitting-in-small-wooden-chairs. we faced each other and she put her hands up in front of her and asked me to push against them and i did. she asked me to do it a couple more times. easy: i lift my hands, place them squarely upon hers and push.

then she asked me to close my eyes and try again. but she moved her hands. and i was trying to find them so i could place my hands on hers and feel them there, supporting the weight of my push – only they weren't where i expected them to be. they weren't where they were the few times before.

i thought it was such a great exercise – even if a bit abstract – in the security that boundaries provide. how when boundaries are in place, predictable and reliable, there's ease. and in their absence – whether they're missing altogether or they're just shifting from what we knew – there's an unease, insecurity and confusion.

it can be easy to forget how important boundaries are for the grown-ups, too. yes, they're vitally important for us to provide for our children but sometimes i get so busy putting the focus on the kids that i don't think about how much i need them, too. boundaries for me might look different than boundaries for mushy and bonz but, without them, i'd feel pretty adrift.

the act of looking for hands with my eyes closed (in the middle of a circle of onlookers no less) made me feel vulnerable and a bit wobbly even though it was just an exercise – or a physical analogy – and  i could have guessed exactly how i would feel without having to actually do it. but the actual doing was just a nice way to re-frame the concept.

and it really made me think about how i know i need boundaries to feel secure as a thirty eight year old mama. i've never doubted for one minute how important they are for my kids but it gave me cause for pause: their lives without boundaries would feel crazy. so unpredictable, so uneasy. like a free fall. how could they ever feel comfortable?

i just love when something reinvigorates me and reconfirms what i know to be true.

on a side note, you know how i put these little visuals together for janet lansbury – quotes from her books over photos? two things: first, her newest book is out and it's a slam-dunk. if life could just slow down for a second, i could pour my heart out about it. soon. second, this quote (above) is just too appropriate not to post for this post. sometimes i have to stop and take inventory about how well boundaries work because they're just not being tested repeatedly. sure, new boundaries are being created and put to the test – it's never ending in the most expected and constructive of ways – but when i take a good look, i always see progress.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

in good health

wellness: pretty much priority number one around here, always at the top of the proverbial list. especially this time of year.

i prefer to not keep up on the scary statistics about outbreaks and epidemics because it does nothing but send me into a downward spiral of worry and anxiety – which i'm already wired for in the germ-department as i've mentioned before. i like to find the balance between knowing just enough so that i'm not living under a rock but not so much that i'm freaked out. and, for me, that balance tends to hover much closer to knowing less rather than more.

so i focus on what i can control and try not to get wrapped up in what i can't. which is much easier said than done sometimes.

health and nutrition have always been my jam. i'm endlessly interested in learning more, doing better and feeling more confident when it comes to battling what ails us naturally. it's nice to meet the challenge prepared and armed with trust, conviction and knowledge instead of uncertainty and worry. so that's what i can control.

i bookmarked an online course a while back because its title and description was so spot on. it's from an australian health and wellness center called red tent that supports pregnancy, birth, moms, babies and kids with nutrition, acupuncture and chinese medicine – the course is called "from anxiety to security – the A-Z of home remedies for children's health" so clearly it was made just for me. i read the course description and nodded along the whole time. hello, perfection.

well imagine the squeal my entire neighborhood heard when the sweet mamas from red tent generously gifted me the course! excitement overload. i'm embarking on the study-from-home course and it's amazing. it's filled with so much wisdom and wonderful, intuitive information. and it's presented from mamas for mamas which makes all the difference in the world. i can't wait to share more with you as i learn more and dive deeper into the materials.

there's nothing that makes me feel better – especially as we wade into the season of sicknesses – than to feel prepared. there's a confidence that comes with being a mama for over five years, and there's a confidence that comes from knowledge. so it feels rad to keep learning. i can't think of a better investment: my sanity and my family's health.

and something tells me that all this might just be right up your alley too.

my friends at red tent, rebecca and naomi, are doing a free online talk coming up soon. it's called "fevers and toddlers – how to successfully manage them at home". it's live on australian time (november 11 at noon) but if you can't listen in live, you can access it afterwards and have a listen when it's convenient for you. and if you sign up for the talk, you'll get a free gift from red tent: quick start food guide and meal planner for your toddler to improve their immunity. so as if the (free!) talk weren't great enough, you'll also get rad (free!) info about boosting your child's immunity with food. double score.

{side note: fevers. i can't even tell you how much more relaxed i am about them now than i was when bonz got his first. and it's not because i've been through them so many times, it's because i've learned so much more about them. i cannot remember the last time i reached for the tylenol. knowledge like this and trust in the process is so comforting and reassuring in the middle of the night with a hot baby, let me tell you. and yes, i will still listen in on the talk because: always learning.}

so yeah, the talk and its free gift promise to have you well on your way to a confident season. i can't recommend either highly enough. (also, if i were you, i'd sign up for the talk no matter what. free gift aside, you'll get the heads up on specials from red tent. like – ahem – maybe even a discount on the A-Z course which is an investment worth making. for real.)

let me know what you think. you know i'm always up to talk about this stuff so email me anytime if you want to chat.

and a little vintage bonz and mush for your viewing pleasure:
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full disclosure: as i mentioned above, the sweet girls from red tent have generously gifted me the course. the very course that was on my wish list long before i ever connected with them. all opinions are my very own. i'm just super passionate about health and think what red tent is doing pretty much rules.

Monday, October 6, 2014

a walk in the park

give kids some fresh air, swings and space to run free and you're guaranteed a good time. the simplest things make for the biggest smiles.
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