Shake It Off

Not the Taylor Swift tune, although it’s one of my faves, but I’m talking about shaking off the much too serious posts I’ve been writing about wetiko, death, and the dark night of the soul!

While I haven’t done a whole lot of retail therapy shopping lately unless it’s toys or clothes for a growing Angel Boy 2.0,  I’ll tell you about a heartbreakingly exquisite moment that he and I shared on a recent visit.

Picture this: he lives between Puget Sound and some MAJOR railroad tracks. The good thing is the neverending entertainment of watching boats and sunsets and moonrises and the tiny little beach that’s across the street and the less good thing is the long and loud freight trains that heavily traverse the tracks all day and all night.

However, to a little boy, choo choos are AWESOME and AMAZING ALL THE TIME, exactly like his daddy thought at that age. We often drove to the train museum at Balboa Park and rode the little train there, too.

The day I was leaving, as I was packing my suitcase, Theo came in my room and grabbed my hand. I said, “What’s up, Mr. T? I’m packing up to go home, do you want to help?”

He looked at me intently still holding my hand and pulled me to my feet. In a sweet, small voice, he whispered excitedly, “Amma, choo choo!” and raised his arms so I could pick him up. We stood at the window and he patted my back and leaned into me as I read to him all the names on the cars and we counted them until the train passed. I counted 56 cars and never wanted to put him down. I wish there had been 10,556 more.

Time stopped for those few minutes.

Nothing else mattered.

A boy, his grandma, a shared love of trains, and the beauty of a little human whose spirit shines so brightly even at eighteen months that he already knows the meaning of life and of happiness, being fully invested in the moment, the mindfullness of joyful living that some of us seem to lose as we transition into adults.

My little buddy. Beyond adorable…THEO-dorable!

This is the Balboa Park train. Can’t wait to take 2.0 !!!

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Gratitude + Joy

I don’t often post pictures of Angel Boy 2.0 because we are all protective of his image but every single time I look at this photo, it sets my world right again, so I thought I’d share it with my friends.

With hurricanes and floods and fires and murders and other toxic disasters that seem to engulf our consciousness lately, there’s the opposite and equally powerful tug of LOVE at our hearts and minds and souls and spirits.

He’s the reason why my sun rises every single day.

Pure in his magnificence, my heart softens and melts. And heals.

Just a boy and his Peppa the Pig plate full of a lentil burger, broccoli, hummus, and tomatoes.

Pure love. We all need a big dose it right about now.

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Synchronicity

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Like autumn leaves turning color, falling to expose naked branches,  I see the green, golden, and red leafy reminders of the same word everywhere I turn.

When I was with Angel Boy 2.0, we stood in the forest and I picked up handfuls of maple leaves, tossed them high into the air and we laughed as they gently floated down around us.

“More! More!” he squealed. “AmmaAmma, MORE!” And so I did. And the moment was even more precious as he raced away clutching one of them to keep for the walk home.

The word I see and hear everywhere is FORGIVEness.

On social media, in emails, songs I hear over and over again, in a seemingly random manner or maybe not so random, right?

And this old song, “Heart of the Matter”…is it time to pay attention, to really LISTEN to that inner voice?

Just like those maple leaves, let it go.

‘Nuff said…

 

#takeaknee I’m an intermittent rebel, but I think I was first: I didn’t stand up for the national anthem at a Major League Baseball game and I almost got attacked

At the time, my reasons for not standing were different than the initial reasons why football players knelt during the national anthem, but these silent protests have become the subject of national attention — this time, because Trump has launched a days-long tirade at players who have joined the movement.

A year ago, it was Colin Kaepernick’s act of kneeling to protest police treatment of African Americans that captured the most attention, in 2017, it appears to be Trump’s unconventional response to the act.

It’s all about freedom: of speech and of thought.

My story:

It was in the early 1990s. I’m not a huge fan of baseball, but somebody had given me a couple of tickets to a Padres game and I thought it would be something my then thirteen-year-old son would enjoy.

After all this time, I can’t remember what team we were playing, but since my son was an avid collector of baseball cards and knew everyone’s stats by heart, it was a big deal to him.

I’m an intermittent rebel. Most of the time I comply with socially accepted behavior norms but sometimes I don’t, and there is really no rhyme or reason why I’ll do something one minute and turn into Pussy Riot the next.

Mercurial is a good word to describe me.

Or batshit crazy. Your choice. Whatever.

On this particular day, I was feeling especially contemplative and introspective. Or pissy, or just contrary, or all of the above…

When it was time for the national anthem and everyone was asked to stand, I stayed seated. My newly teenaged-don’t-make-waves-and-certainly-for-heaven’s-sake-don’t-call-attention-to-the-fact-that-he’s-out-in-public-with-his MOM son stood when everyone else did and then sat back down.

He was confused.

He asked me why I was sitting. I replied that I didn’t like to be told what to do, that I was neither a sheep nor a lemming, that my love or respect for our country had nothing to do with standing simply because everyone seemed to expect it, and putting my hand over my heart was rather offensive to me and reminded me of similar blind devotion to Hitler.

As far back as elementary school, I decided not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance because I felt it personally offensive in ways I couldn’t comprehend nor verbalize at the time, but I had a strong feeling that it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Of course I got in trouble, sent to the principal’s office and all that; parents called, and my lawyer dad told the administration that it was my RIGHT and my decision whether I chose to participate in that activity and he supported me. I appreciate that he advocated for my free will even at that age.

The almost but not yet completely drunk people sitting behind us started yelling at me to stand up. That created enough ruckus so that others started paying attention to the situation. The crowd turned ugly. Everyone was yelling at us to stand and accusing me of being a bad mother. Someone threw popcorn.

I told my son that this was a perfect example of what I was explaining to him, that if he felt like he needed to go along with the peer pressure crowd mentality — that was his individual decision, but he should ask himself if he was standing because he wanted to honor his country or because he was being bullied into it?

What was his motivation? What was his intention?

He told me I was a troublemaker and I embarassed him.

With love, I told him I was sorry that I made him feel badly, but that I really wanted him to grow up to be someone that thought for himself and made his own life decisions based on his inner voice of that was right and wrong for HIM.

Did my NOT standing make me LESS of an patriotic American? IT DID NOT. I am not a fan of public displays of rote allegiance.

As soon as as the game started, everyone forgot about it and that’s how it ended, but for a brief moment, I thought things were going to escalate into some sort of overt hostility.

Intermittent or not, I am a proud social protester: when I fought to add wolves to the Endangered Species List, fought against abhorrent puppy mills, and when I stood proudly with my sisters and brothers to protest in support of women’s rights last January.

I’m proud that I stand up (or sit down) for what I believe in.

Not standing for the national anthem is a legal form of peaceful protest, which is a First Amendment right.

There is a method to my seeming madness…it’s a foundation of my belief system of mindful parenting

Mindful parenting means taking responsibility for as well as being present with our own feelings and actions to model this thoughtful insightfulness to our children. This creates a level of self-discovery and self-awareness and self-control over our moment-to-moment reactions. Instead of a negative, punitive connotation, discipline does not only refer to the guiding or teaching of a child, but begins with self and builds individuation.

Although this was my parenting philosophy that I pretty much put into practice instinctually with my son 36 years ago, you can now read about one progressive and loving approach here: Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®) https://www.rie.org/

To put it simply, I wanted my son to think for himself, to question authority, to use his brains and his heart to navigate through life, and I’m glad to see that he and DIL are raising my grandson with that same sort of loving mindfulness.

And finally…

This is how President Obama reacted (via Huffington Post):

Almost exactly a year ago, Obama offered a nuanced insight into Kaepernick’s protests.

“Well, as I’ve said before, I believe that us honoring our flag and our anthem is part of what binds us together as a nation,” Obama said during a CNN town hall in September 2016. “But I also always try to remind folks that part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion. We fight sometimes so that people can do things that we disagree with … As long as they’re doing it within the law, then we can voice our opinion objecting to it, but it’s also their right.”

″I think that it’s also important for us to recognize that sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other,” Obama continued. “I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing. But I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”

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A Little Name Change

Although I thought Princess Rosebud just about said it all; aspiration as well as inspiration, I’ve been renamed.

For most of my life, the most wonderful way to get my attention was to hear my son call out “MOM or Mommy!” and I’d immediately stop what I was doing and give my 100% laser-focused attention to Angel Boy.

I never thought I’d become an obnoxious grandmother; it’s a huge surprise to me, but I confess that I’m REALLY obnoxious. I show pics of Theo to friends at the gym and complete strangers. He’s the most amazing child in the world. HE IS, I promise you.

But now things are different. I still love to hear my son refer to me as Mom, but it doesn’t touch my heart the way it does when Theo, Angel Boy 2.0, wants his  “AmmahAmmah”.

It’s the most beautiful sound in all the land, along with the song of the coyote and the howl of a wolf.

Theo first named me “Gammma” and it’s morphed into “AmmhaAmmah”, which sounds cool and hip and a for sure guarantee that he will forever and ever get every single toy that he will ever want.

ammatheoThose eyes, that hair, oh yes, he’s my heart of hearts.

What do your grandkids call you?

 

Walking away…The bittersweetness of it.

Nothing stays the same.

Children grow.

No matter how much you want them to remain babies that simply smile, sleep, poop, and eat, children don’t stay that way forever.

As soon as they begin to move, to crawl, to walk; the rest of their life seems to be dedicated to moving AWAY from us.

I visited sweet Angel Boy 2.0 recently and my overall observation was of his back, moving TOWARD what caught his eye, what intrigued him, and what was the next obstacle to surmount.

No longer a baby, AB 2.0 walks and runs everywhere; his autonomy and confidence is a magnificent thing to behold, albeit a bit scary, too.

He’s fearless, this amazing boy of my boy.

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Contemplating a sea of possibilities

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His confident and empowered stride

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The world is endlessly fascinating

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A boy and his balloon

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The magic of salmon

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My two boys, Angel 1.0 and 2.0

Super Moist #Vegan Chocolate Cake With Amaretto Coffee Frosting

Since I now focus most of my baking to please Angel Boy 2.0 (the new and improved version), this was the winner of all the chocolate cakes I ever created, so I thought I’d share it again for those of you who do still currently turn on the oven and combine ingredients to conjure up lovely confections (not confessions).

At 15 months, AB 2.0 can’t have chocolate; for now he’ll have to be happy with sugarless teething biscuits and kale smoothies. 


No eggs and no dairy, yet this cake is super moist, fluffy, and fudge-tastic — with a hint of French roast coffee and almond-y Amaretto.

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I was inspired by a recipe I found in my mom’s old cookbook — as always, I transformed it into my own version.

I know I use Amaretto a lot, but I ran out of vanilla and it’s a great flavor enhancer with chocolate and coffee.

Moist #Vegan Chocolate Cake With Amaretto Coffee Frosting

  • 1/2 tsp.  salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or Amaretto or Grand Marnier)
  • 5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold coffee or water (coffee is better with chocolate) or you could always use soy/almond/cashew/coconut milk.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Mix the first five dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Make three shallow depressions in the dry ingredients.
3. Pour vinegar in one, vanilla/amaretto in the other, and vegetable oil in the third.
4. Pour coffee/water over all.
5. Mix well until smooth.

Grease a nine-inch pan. Bake on middle rack of oven for approximately twenty-five to thirty-five minutes.  Check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean. Don’t over bake or it’ll dry out. Cool and frost.vegancake4

Amaretto Coffee Frosting
Three tablespoons softened vegan butter substitute (I use Earth Balance)
Three or four tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Amaretto or Grand Marnier or vanilla
Cold coffee

In a medium bowl, sift sugar and cocoa. Blend with vegan butter. Add 2 teaspoons Amaretto or other flavoring, and 3 tablespoons cold coffee, Blend until desired consistency. If too dry, add more coffee or Amaretto. If too wet, add more powdered sugar.
Frost cake and dust with sifted cocoa.

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A Practical Guide to Weaning Fast

Let me first say that the one and only time I weaned my one and only child was in 1982, so what am I doing writing about weaning, you might ask?

My thirty-six year old son weaned himself on his first birthday with no warning, and my poor body suffered while he loved the autonomy of his burgeoning independent nature.

This is a guest post written by my DIL, who is now the mother of my one and only amazing and brilliant grandson.
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My son turned one at the beginning of March.

I had been toying with the idea of weaning him for a couple of months.

Initially, I had tried the “only when he asks” approach, but babies are creatures of habit, so he continued to ask and I continued to feed on demand.

As soon as my son had his twelve-month wellness check and his pediatrician said he was physically and emotionally ready, I was eager to start the process of weaning.

The thought of dragging this out for six-plus weeks was too much for me, but the risks of going cold turkey are very real (infection, blocked duct, emotional trauma) so I proceeded with caution. If you do need to wean quickly for whatever reason, or your baby just suddenly rejects the breast, here are some tips to get through it more quickly.

As a disclaimer, my son was already eating three meals a day plus snacks, so it wasn’t like I was still producing a massive amount of milk. He was clearly obtaining his nutrition from other sources.

Where to start…
Start with the easiest feeds. For me, those were the ones when he woke up. I first eliminated those after naps, then morning, then before day naps, before bed, and then the dreaded night feeds…

Tips for baby…
I have been a RIE (Resources for Infant Educarersmom since day one, otherwise known as respectful parenting. The philosophy centers around honest and authentic communication as soon as baby is hours old. Even though I was tempted to put band aids on my nipples and say “mommy is sick”, or apply garlic so it would taste gross, my son and I faced the challenge together.

 

Make it positive — I bought my little guy a special cup for homemade smoothies to replace the nursing experience from his wake up feeds. My son loves rabbits, so I got him the biggest rabbit cup I could find; since he has no problem with a straw, that’s what we use, but a sippy cup would be equally successful.

Do not place yourself in familiar nursing situations — I love to read books in bed with my son in the morning, but during weaning I would get up, shower and dress, so that as soon as he woke up I took him out of the bedroom for banana and almond milk smoothie in “Rab Rab”.

(Smoothie recipes below.)

Sport the high-necks — I wore three layers to minimize the odor of milk, as well as high neck shirts that he could not pull down.

Stay busy — As we eliminated the day feeds, I made those days extra busy. We were barely ever at home so as not to place ourselves in situations where he would even think to ask.

Mr. Mousie — I bought a special blanket that I sprayed with Chanel Mademoiselle (my familiar scent), which I use to cuddle him with during Rab Rab smoothie time. (Smoothie recipes below.) This was a blanket that I could also use to place in the crib for naptime. Extra cuddles and love during weaning will help to bridge the emotional loss of breast feeding.

Change of scenery — I chose to do it while visiting Grandma. There were so many exciting things for little one to do and experience, and I got the support I needed as my body and emotions went through the change and the challenge.

Watch out for hunger — As I worked on eliminating the night feeds, I needed to make sure that he was not waking up because he was hungry. Toddlers burn through so much energy! When they have been asleep from 6.30pm, it is reasonable that at 4:00 am it might be that they need a little something in their tummy. I was focused on eliminating the breast so my milk would fully dry up, and I decided to replace those feeds with a bottle of warm milk. Try what works for you; regular organic milk, almond milk, or coconut milk.

Boundless love — I got lots of advice to let Dad go in at night so he cannot ask for milk. As part of the RIE I mentioned earlier, I faced this head on. I went in and there were moments that were heart-breakingly sad. But in my heart I knew it was time, and so I told him — I know this is hard for you. I love you so much. And found lots of ways to be close, tight cuddles, cheek to cheek.

Success! After two weeks, my little guy is completely weaned, sleeping through the night, and started walking. What a great first year!

(If your little one is also teething, try the teething biscuit recipe below. My son LOVES them!)

Tips for mom…

Sage — 
I drank fresh sage tea and infused sage water pretty much constantly. I also included fresh mint and lemon balm, but sage was my primary fluid. I was advised that you should drink it every six hours, but I had a cuppa going all day.

Cabbage Leaves — These have been used for centuries and I can see why!! I was a little skeptical at first, but they work amazingly well. For the first few days, I used them continuously during waking hours. I kept them in the fridge so they were nice and cold, which feels wonderful if you start to feel engorged. Place the stems out, and change every 30–90 mins depending upon flow.

Antihistamine — This is also meant to dry up milk. I took a non-drowsy type every 24 hours.

Warm showers — The first day I took three warm showers. I would massage my breasts and hand express just enough to make sure the ducts still had an outlet, but not too much to stimulate production.

Heating pad — I read varying accounts of this, but I did use a heating pad at times when the engorgement made my breasts feel hard and lumpy.

Ice-pack — I used this in-between the heating pad to cool down swelling. I was also using cold cabbage leaves, so the icepack was used when I was taking a break from the cabbage leaves.

Topless Sunbathing — Luckily I was weaning at Grandma’s house in Southern California, so while my little one was napping, I could enjoy some au naturale topless sage tea!

Rocky Road ice-cream — It’s important to remember that if you’re eaning fast, you’ll go through a pretty big hormone crash. Be prepared and have supplies. Pamper yourself with whatever you need to do for self care to get through PMS — ice-cream, movies, cuddles. I kept laser focused on the end-game — no more night feeds, no more gross nursing bras, and no more sanitary pads in your BRA!!! (and all over the bathroom floor).

Sleep — sleep when you can because you may need extra energy at night. If you’ve been used to nursing, dousing, and then crashing out, remember that getting a baby to sleep without popping them on the breast takes more energy and perseverance.

WAB WAB Smoothie I

Waking up in the morning and after nap

1/2 cup milk or almond milk

1 TBS organic almond butter

1/4 small banana

Sprinkle cinammon

Wab Wab Smoothie II

1/4 cup 100% organic fruit juice

½ cup purified water

Leftover kale, spinach, chard, or other leafy veg, well blended!

1/4 cup Organic whole milk Greek yogurt

Chopped/grated apple or pear or organic blueberries/strawberries

Blend all.

Teething Biscuits

1 cup almond milk or coconut water or a combination

Blend 1/2 cup dates and 1/2 cup raisins with the liquid until well chopped.

Pour into bowl

2 TBS organic agave

2–3 TBS vegetable or coconut oil

Add 1/2 cup flax meal

1 cup organic whole wheat flour (or any flour)

Oat flour is easy to make in a blender

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

Mix all. Add a little more flour and knead briefly to make dough pliable.

Roll into 12×14

Cut into 1inch x 6 inch slices

Roll into finger sized shapes, easy for little hands to grasp.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and then 300 degrees for another 15 minutes turn off oven and let them cool in oven.

March Full Worm Moon

Don’t forget to spring forward tonight!
I know that the weather is horrible in certain parts of the country, but I’m sorry/not sorry to report that here in SoCal, it’s like SUMMER! Windows are open, the sky is blue, and birds are singing.
The final full moon of winter 2017 will reach its crest at 10:54 a.m. EST tomorrow, March 12. This lunar event arrives a week before the spring equinox and represents nature’s inevitable rebirth after the dark winter months.
The Native American name for this full moon, the Worm Moon, alludes to the earthworms that emerge from the softening ground at this time of year.
Many sects of Paganism refer to this moon as the Storm Moon, which may have contributed to the old wives’ tale that March “comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.”
What comes in for me tonight is my son, DIL, and THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, Theo, AKA Angel Boy 2.0
I had no idea that I was going to fall head over heels in love with this jumbled up mass of DNA and genetic codes. The old me used to smirk at my friends who couldn’t stop extolling the virtues of their grandchildren–UNTIL IT HAPPENED TO ME.
Now I’m the pack leader with my Iphone, shoving it in everyone’s face to oooh and ahhh at the latest accomplishment of 2.0, his newest tooth, his gummy smile, his attempt to stand and walk…
Theo FEBHowever, my son (the original Angel Boy) and DIL won’t let me post pictures of Theo on my blog or social media so you’ll just have to take my word for it. But you can see by this pic that the curly apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree haha!
With this special moon, it’s a wonderful opportunity to manifest positive intentions for the future. I’m working on joy and happiness, abundance, and gratitude for myself, my family, and the world.
What are YOU manifesting?
(Once again, WP is screwing up the format, not allowing me to break between paragraphs–I’ve attempted to redo this five times and now I’m done. It is what it is!! The draft looks entirely different than the final published result. )

One Year on This Earth

1 year, 12 months, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,00 seconds, not counting the nine months before he took his first breath on March 8.

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That would be Theo–Theo-dorable–Angel Boy 2.0

The most amazing grandson in this or any other universe.

I never really thought I’d succumb to the stereotype and become THAT sort of obnoxious grandma, but I did!

I am THAT grandma.

Hee hee.

I don’t have a REAL name yet; Grandma is how I refer to myself when I talk with Theo–my son likes to call me Granny cos he’s snarky–and I figured I’d let Theo make the decision. I’m pretty cool with just about anything.

Angel Boy 1.0 (the original) was born on March 23, so we have two special days to celebrate this month.

And lucky me, they’ll all be here (DIL included) for a couple of weeks so I can be a part of this momentous event!

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Getting party ready at Casa de Enchanted Seashells!

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Some outdoor furniture.

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A vintage toy, a favorite of AB 1.0

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You can’t start them too early to think about animal rescue, am I right?

Oh, and happy birthday to my first and foremost Angel Boy, without whom there would be no AB 2.0, honestly and truly my very first love. There was never a more amazing child.

I wrote this poem for him a couple years ago in this post (click on the title):

The Boy Who Is My Heart.
So Much Depends On A Yellow Steamroller.

The Yellow Steamroller

So much depends
upon

a yellow
steamroller

buried
in the dirt
 
behind the shed