Monday, February 28, 2011

making progress

I'm going on 23 weeks already. That would seem like it was going much quicker if I could sleep! The hip pain has set in already and it's making for some long nights!

In other areas I've finally started making some progress too. Very, very slowly. It's there though. Laundry is almost caught up. House is passable for clean (just don't look too close!), I'm cooking regularly again and even picked up the knitting needles for the first time since before Christmas last night. I still haven't found this new rhythm, but it's getting there. I'll probably hit it just in time to have the baby and start all over!

One thing I need to get back into is picking up my camera. Last year I was finally in the habit of carrying it and documenting the everyday moments instead of just the big ones. And now? Yeah, no. I haven't taken a picture since Disney. So for at least this week (um, starting tomorrow?) I plan on taking at least ONE picture a day. I really enjoy when I'm doing that. I seem to notice and feel grateful for so much more. It does add an element of awareness and beauty to everyday. I'm no photographer, I just have a several year old point and shoot but the point isn't perfection.

So, my picture today will still be one of progress, just not from today! Progress in growing a baby, and maybe a little progress in raising a not always happy or affectionate soon to be teen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

planning spring.

The day we got back from our sunny vacation, I sat down and ordered our seeds for this year. Even though it's only something I've been doing for 2 seasons now, I love the thought of warmth and growth when we're nearing the end of a long, cold, dark winter.

This winter seems to have been especially cold. Not much snow for us, surprisingly. Seems like the rest of the country got what we are normally 'blessed' with. I've mentioned my pregnancy induced procrastination, fatigue, and lack of motivation. In some ways I guess it's good this hit me through the winter when I feel just a little less guilty hibernating and cozying at home. Yet I also feel I wasn't able to embrace the season as much. I've stopped counting the little things. I've barely taken any pictures. I haven't gone on my daily morning walk to watch the season unfold and change. As I type this I hear the birds beginning to chirp outside my window and it reminds me that last year, I heard the change and return of those birds during my walks through the winter woods and not through the glass separating me from that world.

 well, I did get out at least once!

But it is what it is. And as this winter starts winding towards the end of the season I am finding hope and comfort and joy in the thoughts of the upcoming Spring. I am feeling a burst of energy and excitement at the feel of sunshine and at working in the gardens and smelling the earth. I feel like I'm starting to wake up. And even though there are still several weeks of cold and wind and snow - I can see and hear and feel the change coming. It all begins with the planning of Spring..

Sunday, February 20, 2011

quote for the week

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
                                                                   ~ Walt Disney

We spent the last week at Disney. It's not someplace I thought we'd ever take the kids, but we did and they loved it. We all loved it - it was a wonderful winter reprieve from our NY snow and cold.

Now it's back to home and work and planning for the spring and for a baby!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A revolution rant.

If you've been following this rambling, sporadic blog of mine for any length of time - you know that self sustainability (or learning how to be!) and real food are pretty big passions of mine.

You know how I began on this journey. You know that I still have a lot further that I would like to go.

You know that I am not naive to the hardships that some people face when it comes to getting fresh, real food.

You know that I don't expect everyone to do it all. That I don't even do it all.

This is not a new topic, to me or to this blog. But it's still one that gets me going. I've recently been discussing in an online group these very things.

I made the assertion that most families don't need two incomes. I didn't say that was true of all families. I didn't say families don't want to two incomes. I didn't say that they don't think they need two incomes. Just that most families don't need two incomes.

Apparently that offends some people. I've been told that I don't know what it's like to live in poverty. That I am lucky that I am where I am. That people don't have time to do these things because they work 2 and 3 jobs. That my ideas are not realistic.

1) I do know what it's like to live in poverty. I've lived in it before. And while I'm currently living pretty well - I still earn below the poverty line.

2) It may be true that I am lucky I am where I am. I was born white in a middle class neighborhood. Though, I was born to parents who did grow up in poverty and for my first two years I lived with my single mother in an efficiency with no stove. I am lucky that I was afforded opportunities that other people weren't. I could keep my child when I got pregnant at 17 and still finish high school. My father bought my first car for me for 1000 dollars. My parents and my husbands parents are very generous with their time and assistance, so we've had a great support system.

So, have I been 'lucky'? Sure. But I've also worked very hard to get where I am. I struggled to put myself through college, raising a toddler and working a minimum wage job. When we had to cut costs and couldn't pull any more money from our bills - that's when I turned to food and cooking and eventually self sustainability. I had no one to look to. I learned on my own, through the internet, through the library.
It's been implied to me that self education a luxury that some people don't have. Maybe it's more that it's a luxury they don't realize they have.

3) Maybe the reason people don't have the time to do these things is because they are working 2-3 jobs. There is something very, very wrong with our society if you have to work 2-3 jobs and still can't pay your basic bills. And maybe part of what is wrong with our society is working to pay other people for everything that you do and own and eat.

4) I think my ideas are realistic. For myself, I want more. I want probably 75% self sustainability. I know we won't own cows or pigs (at least not for dozens of more years). But as I've outlined in other posts there are simple, easy ways to make changes. You don't have to go for full self sufficiency to make a difference in your life and in your pocket book.

I know I've used words like radical and revolution before - and to an extent that is all true. But why? Why is growing your own food seen as something that people simply can not do? That it's too hard. That it's too radical.

And why sit there and list excuse after excuse on why people simply can not make those changes - when there are already people out there doing it? And I don't just mean 'bored housewives' in middle class suburbs. I mean people like me. People that live in inner cities and work in community gardens or strive towards fresh food initiatives. People who window farm. College students who plant mini gardens outside their apartments, knowing they'll abandon them in early summer.

And why  is it so shocking and so offensive that I suggest those people choose to work more instead of do more? Are there some people who truly have no out - no resources - no other way to make a difference than to work 2 or 3 jobs? Absolutely. But there are just as many (more!) people who work those jobs to support a lifestyle they can't afford. They are either unwilling to give up the conveniences that money affords (whether those conveniences are a second car, a vacation home or simply buying your lettuce at the grocery store) or they are unsure of how to make the changes.

We live in a culture where this knowledge is not passed down from generation to generation anymore. I really believe some people just don't know there is a different way and if they do know maybe they don't know where to start.

So what is so wrong with stating that there are other choices, there are other ways? You may not want to live that way. You may not want to make those sacrifices, but it doesn't mean that that life is not a valid or available choice.

Why is it that going to work for 10 hours a day to earn the money to buy your food is seen as a viable and good life choice, but staying home to grow the food is seen as unrealistic or stupid or naive?

I just really don't understand the hostility towards those ideas. I don't understand the insistence that it can't be done, I don't understand how our culture has become one that has to rely on someone else for everything else - right down to what we eat.


Monday, February 7, 2011

A SAD return.

I'm currently reading Simple Food for Busy Families. I'm about half way through it. It's a pretty common sense book for anyone who has spent any sort of time already researching whole foods and diet and nutrition. Yet, I still like it. It breaks things down in a very simple, easy to understand way. And even though I already know much of the information, it's really been a fabulous refresher course.

And a SAD awakening. Although I've seen it happening, although I'm the one who's most in control of our diet and food purchases and preparations - and even though I sort of pride myself on eating a mostly whole foods diet - the truth is, we haven't been.

Slowly but surely over the last several months, we have become a typical family eating a Standard American Diet.

As I was reading the list of Imbalances Caused by the SAD Lifestyle - I found myself check off almost all of them for myself, and many of them for my children and husband. Well, crap.

Now I of course have a million reasons why. Pregnancy induced laziness (haha), pregnancy food aversions, exhaustion from working long days - now coupled with my husband student teaching and working just as long days, the winter blahs, lack of fresh foods. This list of all very good and very valid excuses could go on and on.

And if someone like me, who does usually strive for a whole, local, fresh foods approach can slip this badly - is it any surprise that so many busy American families end up reaching for a frozen or fast food meal for so much of their nourishment? The truth is that it's quick, easy, and as much as I hate to admit it - tastes darn good!

That list of excuses is not good enough. The reasons that I, along with so many other families, reach for processed foods is not good enough.

We deserve better. Our children deserve better. Now, more than before I need to be eating better as I am the sole source of nourishment for this fetus. I don't imagine babies thrive on a steady diet of soda and sour patch kids (my currant addictions).

So why in the world am I craving these foods when they have no nutritional value? When I haven't indulged in these foods in years? I don't know. I have no idea what my body could be needing that's leading me to crave french fries. Sodium? What I do know, is the more I indulge in these foods - the more I want them. And that's the tricky part of a SAD lifestyle. Breaking the cycle.

Making that especially difficult right now, is the fact that it's February in New York. Which means even at our local farmers market - the offerings are slim. Stored potatoes and apples pretty much sums up what is available in way of fruits and veggies. I have a few packages of frozen corn, peppers and zucchini left from last summer and quite a few berries hidden in the freezer.

My mind is already on April and asparagus. But, the rest of me is still here in the middle of winter. Realizing a few weeks ago that we were on a roller-coaster of bad diet choices - I bought some lettuce at the big grocery from who knows where. No one ate it. Who wants a salad in February? I know we should be having salad but there's a reason our bodies want heavier foods - soups, stews, casseroles.

I guess the answer here is to try and eat as naturally and seasonally as possible, even in the dead of winter. Use what is stored. Oats, grains, canned sauces and frozen fruits. I can still get fresh dairy and meat at the market.

There's no reason to turn to frozen store bought pizza and Doritos just because it's hard to get excited about food in the middle of winter.

By now everyone (at least in my family) is sick of heavy foods. Even though our big grocery offers anything you could want  ("fresh strawberries"?!) it doesn't mean that we should be eating them. And they're never as good as June strawberries - or even the ones pulled from the back of the deep freeze and added to some yogurt.

I guess the trick here is to keep plugging along. Stop making excuses to eat out. Stop coming up with the cash to let the kids buy lunch. Start listening to your body. Even if you're stuck in a sort of limbo between craving fresh vegetables and turning your nose up at bland grocery vegetables, realize this is the end - Spring is coming. So keep on moving on. Find new soups to make. Bake a fresh loaf of bread.

There are still so many nourishing foods we can eat, even in a cold New York winter. Stop fretting about your kids vegetable intake. Sometimes eating seasonally and locally means that your body doesn't get everything all the time. Do the best you can and trust that in a few short months you'll be stuffed to the brim with fresh, vibrant, full of life vegetables in fruits.

And stop buying sour patch kids!