Barefoot Kids

Barefoot Kids

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Little Happy Feet Make Me Smile

There's something amazing to me to watch little barefeet in action. Kids and their barefeet are just so free, uninhibited and strong. That being said, I hold a special place in my heart for Max (5yrs) and his barefoot running, his form is impeccable and he doesn't even have to think about it. He just kicks his heels up (literally) and speeds off like the Road Runner. I've seen the little dude run in shoes and poor guy trips all over his feet, but when the kid kicks off his shoes...his little legs turn into the quickest, strongest, most agile and happy little legs/feet I've ever seen and every.single.time. it makes me smile on the inside and out. Just sharing a little bit of that joy with you all. For your viewing pleasure

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mouth Watering Chickpea and Eggplant Stew

I was flipping through some magazines while waiting for Olivia at her Learning Rx session, and can't recall the magazine I found this recipe in but I jotted it down on a piece of scratch paper because it sounded delish. I had everything on had so I thought I'd give it a shot to use up some of the veggies in the fridge, and much to my surprise (not all of my 'try something new' recipes turn out they way I'd like) it was fantastic! The recipe is vegan though could easily be modified for the meat eaters in your family. Ian decided that I should skip the chickpeas (he's allergic to legumes and beans) and add stew meat instead, which didn't sound too bad. I'd rather stick to the recipe sans meat (it's easier, quicker and better nutritionally) HOWEVER I have to take into consideration who's eating my meals and if it's just me...well, then it's not very practical. So the recipe:
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, one or more varieties
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 large onion, diced in 1-inch cubes
1 large yellow or red bell or other sweet, thick-fleshed pepper, cut into triangles or strips
2 zucchini, cut into rounds 1-2 inches thick ( I cubed them)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used freshly pureed tomato flesh, with a bit of cider vinegar and salt)
1/2 cups or more chunks of tomato, peeled and seeded first, any juices reserved
1 15 ounce can chickpeas, preferably organic
8 sprigs cilantro, chopped


1. Cut the eggplant into hefty chunks, choosing a shape that works with the variety you have. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside for 30 minutes to release the juices. Rinse quickly and pat dry.
2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a wide skillet over high heat until hazy. Add the eggplant and stir quickly. Reduce heat to medium and cook, turning the pieces every few minutes, until golden, about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and set aside.
3. Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper pieces, and zucchini and cook until the onions are lightly browned around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Toward the end, add the paprika, turmeric, and garlic, taking care not to burn. Stir in the tomato paste, then moisten the pot with a few tablespoons water and scrape up the juices from the bottom. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, chickpeas, 1 1/2 cups water (or the liquid from home-cooked or organic chickpeas), and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Stir in the cilantro. Serve over steamed white rice. Absolutely fantastic recipe! Nyla enjoyed it, Max didn't try it (of course), neither did Ian (though will with meat instead of chickpeas), Olivia spent the night at Nana's so missed the chance at a new recipe night. So, 2-3 out of 5 isn't half bad. Verdict..will make again and again and again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Amazing Little Red Hibiscus, How you Make Me Smile

My fabulous mother in law, Aidna, has been so wonderful in giving me clippings of her flowers/plants to help me build my gardens. She has some of the most beautiful gardens and it's been such a pleasure working with her the last two years in building my own gardens. Some of my most favorite flowers that she's given me, are the Hibiscus flowers. We've got one on the west side of our garage, in front of our veggie garden and it LOVES it there; it's 6ft tall and blooms beautiful white and red flowers so vivaciously. Will update with pictures as soon as I get some, hopefully before the plant stops blooming. It was at it's peek last week. I also received a Red Hibiscus from her, which I planted on the south end of my "Island Lily Garden" in the front yard. The plant stood not even a foot tall when I got it and has been thriving beautifully (unlike many other flowers and plants....perennials I planted. Damn rabbits). It finally bloomed it's first gorgeous red flower last week. The flower, in diameter, was half the size of the entire plant. It was so amazing to see such a small, yet mighty, plant produce such a beautiful creation. The picture, was at the end of the day, so the petals had wilted a bit. The blooms of a Hibiscus only last a day, unfortunately, though have quite the impact the day they do.

Feeling "The Shift" and Loving it, While on a Run with Kids

Mandy (my Wiccan sister) asked me the other day if I'd felt "the shift yet" (this was 3 days ago when the heat was still stifling). I hadn't, but felt it coming. And today had an absolute thrill of a moment feeling that "the shift" has come. The air is different (yes, it's cooler) but it's crisper, and it smells different; like the end of summer, sweet and earthy. The kids and I enjoyed an afternoon run/ride to the park. O and Max rode bikes and Nyla in the jogger... we cranked out 5mi today, We were all barefoot btw :) Though Max old complained about the helmet. I have to draw the line on minimalism somewhere when there's true saftey at stake (esp in his case, sadly the poor kid was blessed with my grace...or lack there of) He ended up face planting into a ditch along the trail on our way back, and bonked his head (luckily had his helmet on, an opportunity in which I used as a "see, even though I know you are an outstanding bike rider, we still have to be safe and wear our helmets" lesson).

Anywho, compared to last week's 4mi tortuous 90 degree run together, feet burning, the aire feeling so thick with heat and humidity that I nearly felt like I was running through hot molasses, today's run was absolutely beautiful! I couldn't ask for more in a run with kids, though I do admit too, that I long for the pleasure of running a beautiful day sans all of the mindfullness. Stopping for water breaks, and pee breaks, and readustments in helmets and seat belts, taking shoes off because someone's too hot (Max started out in jeans, socks, shoes...the whole bit and quickly complained that he was too hot. The moment I removed his shoes, he let out a big sigh of relieve...was amazing to actually feel what he felt at that moment. We took off shoes and socks and cuffed up jeans and went along our merry way with nary a complaint after that.

So, this week's mid 70's run was near perfection. The air was crisp and fresh, the pavement was slightly heated, there was a breeze from the west to cool us off. It was wonderful, the sort of day when you can enjoy the heat of the sun AND actually cool off in the shade.

These days make running barefoot an absolute pleasure!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

3 Monarchs Flit Their Way Into the World

And update on our caterpillar friends, 3 out of the 4 chrysalis' we have turned black and burst open with beautiful black, orange and white monarch butterflies. It's amazing to see how they carefully make their way around the treehouse and hang in place exercising their wings. We give them a day or so to build their strength then let them fly free. We suspect it'll be another few days until the last of our caterpillar friends finds his wings and joins his winged buddies, in preparation for their journey south to Angangueo, Mexico. Our friends Ima and Chris are making their way that way and will be able to see the masses of beautiful, gracefu,l black, orange and white winged monarchs make home after thousands of miles of flight. I joked that we should put a tracking device on the ankles of our treehouse monarchs :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Will it matter a year from now?

Someone once asked (well, a lot of someone’s, who haven’t had the pleasure of having lived through the parenting experience..yet) “how do you do it? I couldn’t imagine toughing it out with kids for more than 5 minutes, and you do it all day long”. And to be honest, there are days when I can say…I have no clue really because it’s definitely NO walk in the park. Though parenting, esp being a stay at home parent and doing the parenting thing all day long, involves a multitude of different inherent, learned and fly off the seat of your pants skills. You have to venture to your creative side, allow yourself to be optimistic and curious about the world and it’s fascinations. To be patient even when it seems impossible, do LOTS of deep breathing, to have a sense of humor, to be able to step outside of your grown up shoes and remember what it was like to walk barefoot around the mud puddles of the world. It’s a tough job to be a kid; experiencing new, exciting and challenging situations that will eventually, given time and direction, teach you to become a resourceful, respectful, compassionate driven adult. It’s hard to be little, to constantly make mistakes (goodness knows I make my share of mistakes as an adult, often) and there’s always something to be learned from those mistakes which may or may not prevent you from making that same mistake a time or two again. It’s a tough realization and in a world of constant misfortunes, it’s hard to gain the confidence to venture out into the world and want to take chances, to step outside of your comfort zone and leap toward your dreams or for your cup of milk that always seems to end up spilled all over the sides of the breakfast bar, on the bar stools and the kitchen floor, on the blankie that needs to be washed again (much to your broken hearted dismay, to have to wait out that 1.5hrs until it’s finished and then to have it back NOT having that special drooled on, spilled on, peed on, dragged all over creation and back again, smell). So parenting and being parented is a companionship. There has to be understanding, in order for it to work harmoniously, you have to have the right amount of “kid” to the right amount of “parent”, metaphorically speaking. In order to grow as a parent, reaching toward a higher/wiser level of adulthood…you need to be able to see all sides and appreciate them for what they are worth . In a sense, revert back to your childhood and learn to remember that appreciation for the little things; to be able to take comfort in reaching outside of your comfort zone, with confidence and learning from your experiences. In a world of chaos and perpetual busy-ness, it’s crucial to take a look with open eyes at those situations that cause you stress and panic ( a child potty training frantically peeing on the floor, a 5yr old seeking independence pouring milk into his own bowl of cereal and spilling the entire gallon on the floor, a tantrum over a snickers bar in the checkout lane at the grocer, sibling quarrels over who gets the flower plate or the red cup). And as much as this will drive you up and down each wall of your house, and you’ll want to fight every one of these battles with your child, you have to stop and ask yourself…what ‘s the lesson? what’s to be learned? will this be significant in the history of my child’s life? detrimental to his/her (or someone elses) health/safety? Will it matter a year from now??? If not, chances are, you can take that deep breath (and teach your child a little about the importance of deep breathing), reassure your child (and yourself) that no panic is necessary, be creative in using the situation as a learning experience, a chance to teach your child a bit about the world and then move on.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Rendition of Nana's Infamous Pickle Sandwich

Nana, my beautiful wonderful Mother, makes one heck of a pickle sandwich. Something she craved and ate often while I was in utero, the white bread, smeared with Mayonaise (real Mayo, NOT Miracle Whip) and slices of pickles topped with a bit of salt (because you can never have too much salt:p). Why had I NOT had one of these delicacies until just recently (like a week ago recently, kids and I spent the day with Nana and had fried green tomatoes and pickle sandwiches for dinner). Since then, I'd craved one (no no babies in utero forcing this craving upon me, just the mouth watering thought of pickle. YUM). I decided to try the Pickle Sandwich toasted. I toasted two slices of wheat bread (sorry Mom, no white bread in the house). Then I put on a nice layer of reduced fat Mayo ( I know Mom...low fat is never as good, but this stuff wasn't bad) on one toasted slice then proceeded with a thick layer of pickle stackers and sandwiched it all with the other slice of toasted bread; Two Thumbs up to the Toasted Rendition of the Pickle Sandwich!

Our Caterpillar Friends Set up Camp in the Butterfly Treehouse

Early one morning last week, Sherri (our sweet next door neighbor) rings the doorbell at 7:30am excitedly, to give us a clipping of milkweed. Having just rolled out of bed not too much sooner than the bell rang, I just looked curiously at her standing there, wide smiled holding her milk weed. UNTIL it dawned on me that on a leaf of that milkweed munched ferociously, a very plump monarch caterpillar! He was beautiful, stripes and happily eating away at that leaf. The kids and I scrambled around for a home for him, then remembered that Olivia had gotten a butterfly treehouse for her birthday in Kindergarten. Perfect home for a growing caterpillar. Within a day, he'd chewed up a good majority of the leaves and left the LOTS of poop behind, bigger than I'd ever expect to come out of a caterpillar. Interesting observation, to Olivia's concern (how will we clean the poop out when they're done in there??....Very carefully). Upon clipping more milkweed for our caterpillar friend, we stumbled upon another, wait two more, THREE more caterpillars munching away over at the neighbors milkweed patch. We brought them in to the Butterfly Treehouse and made them cozy with their other caterpillar buddy (who was looking like he was getting much too big for his skin). Low and behold, not even a day later, we found him up at the top working hard at getting rid of that skin and caccooning himself up into his chyrsalis. Ian and I were both impressed at how fast he worked, it took him minutes ( I expected hours if not days) to get the job done. Not long after, the other plump caterpillars found their spot at the top of the Treehouse and did their thing, while the littlest caterpillar indulged himself wildly in the rest of the leaves left all to him and him alone. It didn't take long before he too, started to look like he was going to burst out of himself. I suspect he'll be a chrysalis within a day or two as well:) Now we sit and wait, and of course no yelling in the house as to NOT disturb them while they grow into butterflies. Darn it, now why can't I have them all year long?