Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 341

Happy #36 Olin!!! This one is a milestone: 36 was JO's football number. He was a cornerback. He was a Carmel Ram. I'm a numbers person. So I recognize stuff like this. And let's not forget that this is a 36 celebration... and this is 366days of... 36. 

Last year, for JO's, we celebrated with a crazy cake made by a (then three-and-a-half-year-old) Jules. Funfetti (Jon's fave. No comment). Topped more candy than you could possibly imagine. So this year, I decided to take a half-day to repeat the situation/establish tradition and prep the lasagna for dinner with Chris and Ri. I picked up both boys at lunchtime. Julian announced that we had all of the candy we needed, at home in his loot bag. I was proud. And psyched. This might mean an easier way of navigating around rationing him out a piece of candy every day until Christmas.

Happy 36, Olin! Today. The now-traditional cake-by-Julian (and sort of Kai, who mostly subtracted icing and toppings) celebration was last night. 

At home, things got crazy. Kai wanted in on the action and I wanted to include him but supervising a a 4- and a 2-year-old cracking eggs (with salmonella potential) is beyond my scope of parenting skills. So I put on a video for Kai. And then Jules wanted to watch it. I let him. They wanted to watch another one. I felt annoyance creeping up my throat, started feeling itchy. Why did I leave work early? I had tons of stuff to finish. I tersely reminded them that I didn't pick up anyone early to watch videos. Then I realized that I sounded like a tightly-wound cliche and reminded myself that Kai is already a "big and strong big kid" who gets out of bed and walks downstairs in the morning. I went back to the kitchen to crack and mix myself. A few moments later, Julian joined me. Lesson learned. Chill out.

The real fun came with the decorating. Jules was a rockstar: unwrapping snack-size packs of licorice and Swedish fish and M&Ms, cutting fun-sized Nestle bars into small chunks with his safety scissors (not the most hygienic of cakes). I wrote a message in icing: "Happy Cake Day, Olin." (Jules wanted it to say Olin.) Kai did his part by swiping off the message with his shirt sleeve and then proceeding to "drink" a small container of orange Halloween sprinkles "all gone." Which I let happen. Because this was a special day. In the end, the cake was perfect. And the boys were overflowing with excitement - which make for much wrestling and climbing and running, eventually in superhero capes. 

I am grateful for this tradition. And grateful for Olin, who appreciates these small gestures and whose favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because it's all about family and friends and gratitude. November is a great time to focus on gratitude. And this year, November is also my vegan test run. I'm doing it: aiming to be vegan through Thanksgiving (just me, not the boys - but we eat a largely plant-based diet so it's easy to blend). Several peeps have asked me why, and I don't have a really awesome answer. The short one is this: I've aspired to eat "more vegan" for awhile. 

Maybe it's because Dempsey's eyes are human. Maybe I know that there are benefits to following healthful  plant-based diet, having written/edited a lot on this topic, including this book (which I edited) and this article (which I wrote). Maybe it's just because I love vegan cookbooks, especially this one. Or because I have several friends who follow vegan diets and keep bringing the most amazing dishes to girls' nights and book club gatherings. Whatever the reason, I'm trying a vegan diet till Thanksgiving. And I'd be grateful for any suggestions and favorite recipes. 

Last night was also the annual lasagna JO birthday dinner. I also served pasta with marinara, topped this vegan cheese alternative (nutritional yeast, mixed with ground toasted walnuts and salt). YUM. Thanks, Mindy!
Kai "likes juice." And I love oats. Katie sent me an amazing pumpkin steel-cut oat slowcooker recipe and I adapted slightly. To this:  5 1/2 cups of water + 1 1/2 water + 1 can of pumpkin + 3 TBSP maple syrup + cinnamon + nutmeg. Cook on low for 6 hours. Add raisins and toasted walnuts. 
New Moon latte. With soy. Sweeter than milk. More than acceptable substitute. 

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