Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chicago Saga, The Final Chapter: Old Friends

With our friend Mercy

On a whim, I decided I just had to stop at Whole Foods before leaving Chicago and driving home. Of course, I was really just procrastinating because I was already tired, and the thought of driving 3 hours and getting all of the sleeping kids into their beds by myself was a little overwhelming. On our way into the parking lot, I noticed short woman and a tall teenager walking along. I quickly recognized the woman as an old friend... Mercy.

I met Mercy when I was desperately trying to find a home daycare provider for my first baby so that I could go back to my teaching job. I almost never went to the interview with her because she did not speak English and had to find her daughter to translate for her on the telephone. However, when we went to the interview, we immediately knew that she was the perfect caretaker for our baby. I went on to recommend her to friends and acquaintances, and to occasionally translate for her with some of the other parents. We enjoyed each other's company and we even invited each other to our respective weddings (although she got in a car accident and didn't make it to ours). Anyway, Mercy watched our son until he was 3 years old, at which point I stopped teaching for 6 months after the birth of our second child. Our family then moved away from Chicago. At the time, Mercy was moving to a new house. We totally loss touch and have not seen each other for almost 5 years.

I quickly realized that the tall teenager was her son, who was a cute little 10 year-old last time we saw him. I wasn't sure if she would recognize me, since I've lost a lot of weight and my hair was waist-length last time she saw me. Mercy, on the other hand, looked exactly the same. I took a chance and hailed her. She immediately remembered us and was very excited. We talked for some time and she INSISTED that we come to her house and spend the night. She owns a two-flat, with a garden apartment and has 2 floors devoted just to daycare. She had several extra bedrooms. I resisted at first, but accepted her invitation. So, my husband took off to hang out with his friends and the kids and I went to Mercy's house.

What a gorgeous place! Mercy is a talented businesswoman. She has two assistants and a beautiful well-outfitted daycare. We got a wonderful tour and caught up on our lives. Mercy shared with me her health struggles with a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia. She insisted on knowing how my husband and I had lost all of our weight and looked so healthy. She was excited about the ideas I shared with her. In fact, she told me a story about how she cured her own breast cancer with herbal medicine 20 years ago. I wish my Spanish was better so that we could have conversed more in depth. I also wish I had some 80-10-10 resources in Spanish I could have shared with her. Mercy told me that she had just that day been praying to God to send her the help she needed to lose weight and take care of her health. She hugged me with tears in her eyes. I was a bit overwhelmed.

After a comfortable night in a lovely room, we shared a breakfast of watermelon with her and she gave the children lots of little gifts. We took some pictures and promised to keep in touch. I think of her often and hope that she is eating fruit and loving life.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Chicago Saga: Part 3, Garfield Conservatory and Lincoln Park Zoo

Check out those Dromendaries!

After our binge at Cousin's, we headed to Lincoln Park. The children had specially requested a visit to the zoo. Because of the high cost of parking, we chose free street-parking on campus at our alma mater, DePaul University. We stopped to visit a few friends who were working on campus and then walked toward the zoo.

The walk was a bit agonizing since we were all weighed down by our huge lunch. I personally felt like I had a boulder in my stomach, and the kids complained a bit. But the weather was cool and breezy.

We stopped to take a pic on Shakespeare's lap and then to admire the gorgeous formal gardens in front of the Garfield Park Conservatory. I especially admired the use of edible landscaping. There was colorful City Lights chard in the borders and in the center bed, which had a black and white theme, there was a huge quantity of Black Pearl Peppers. I have a couple of these in my own garden--not sure why, since the peppers are actually just pearl-sized and are hotter than anything.

The kids enjoyed the beautiful fountain at the center of the garden, but the running water signalled the need for a bathroom break. This gave me the excuse I needed to drag everyone into the Conservatory. They were reluctant at first, but once they were inside, they were mesmorized! Gorgeous, lush, unusual, exotic... this place should be a DO NOT MISS for anyone coming to Chicago. And, they've got all kinds of producing fruit trees, something I don't remember from my visits years ago. We spied bananas, oranges, limes, soursop, guavas, and what I'm pretty sure were dates. Big signs are posted everywhere admonishing people NOT to pick the fruit.

There were also a couple of strange conceptual art projects to gape at (and listen to). The enormous ball made from lawn chair skeletons and driveway reflectors was a bit much, as was the composition playing in the fern room, a piece entitled something like "If the Ferns Turn Metallic and Start Vibrating, Turn the Sound Down..." in which the composer intentionally simulated the sound of cicadas. However, I absolutely loved Niki de Saint Phaelle's whimsical Nanas!

After a tour of the Conservatory, we wandered around the Lincoln Park Zoo. There is much there that was new to us. We loved the Africa exhibit and the children's space with the huge climbing area. The kids insisted on running through the fountains in their bathing suits, even though the temperature was in the high '60s. They didn't last long.

Let's face it, though, zoos are depressing. Despite all their focus on conservation and education, a zoo is just a place with animals in confined spaces. It was saddening to watch the Spectacled Andean Bear, whose natural diet was listed as fruits, leaves, and roots, munch on some sort of dried pellet. Many of the displays were empty and contained signs that the animals were inside due to the heat.

After all of that activity, the kids barely made the walk back to the car. We played 20 questions games about animals as a distraction from our fatigue. Our intent was to first drop my husband off to play with his friends and head for the highway for home. My husband would stay over with a friend and take the bus back later the next evening. However, at the last minute, I decided I just HAD to make a pitstop at Whole Foods. This led us to a chance meeting with an old friend and the extension of our trip, as I'll describe in Part 4 of our saga. Stay tuned!

p.s. I REALLY wanted to put a slideshow on this post, but I cannot get BubbleShare to work for me. It gets to 99% downloaded and it just won't go any further.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chicago Saga, Part 2 Cousin's Incredible Vitality

I'm on the outside looking in

Thursday started auspiciously in Chicago. We woke to a lovely cool morning in our friend's cozy Uptown apartment. My daughters wanted to find some dates and so we headed out on a little walk on Devon Street, reknown for its cultural hodgepodge of ethnic markets and restaurants, many of them from the region of the world known for growing dates.

Actually, my sense of direction was a bit off, and we walked for some time on a street that was NOT Devon. I didn't even have the sense to look at a street sign and know that I was lost. However, after we had walked over half a mile without finding anything but a few Mexican tiendas with no dates, we decided to turn back. The girls were getting restless and irritable. They peed in the bushes outside a Chicago Public School. I snickered a bit about the symbolism.

Then magically, after cutting over one block and walking only 2 blocks back, we ended up on Devon, right in front of the Devon Market where they not only had dates, but they had mangos, 4 for $1, a young coconut for $2, sweet corn 8 for $1, figs both fresh and dried, and lots of other fun stuff to look at. The dashing young owner stood in the front, gently nodding to the grandmotherly lady who was attempting to explain something in Polish (or some other tongue) . He understood without having to understand the words--another magical moment. It was like taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque and ending up in heaven.

We got a rather handsome load for under $25. Plus, our little shortcut landed us only 2 blocks from our friend's apartment. Good thing, since we had so much to carry.

We loaded up our car and drove some distance to go to a Persian grocery store I knew about in Boys Town. It was unchanged, but they had little to tempt a raw vegan. I bought some Iraqui date syrup and some halvah as gifts for a friend. Then, we headed to one of only two raw restaurants in Chicago, Cousins Incredible Vitality, for lunch.

When we lived in Chicago years ago, we had visited Cousin's Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Restaurant and enjoyed it immensely. Of course, that was a time in our life when we enjoyed the Epicurean lifestyle of eating and drinking ourselves into a stupor (and bankruptcy). LOL!

Anyway, we were immensely drawn to Chef Mehmet's story about transforming his life after converting to a raw lifestyle. And of course, we are always drawn to a food adventure.

One look at the menu online and I was sure that this wasn't exactly paradise for the 80-10-10er. The opening page lists the "Cousins IV Pyramid" as consisting of 50% greens, 25% nuts and seeds, and 25% fruit. I'm sure they're referring to volume, not calories, which would make this your typical 50-75% fat diet that gets so many raw fooders in trouble. Oddly, there is no mention of oils, yet they figured prominently in virtually every dish we sampled.

Though I was skeptical, my husband and children were eager. They salivated over the idea of a raw pizza and chocolate smoothies. I was sure I could get some fruit and greens on the salad bar (and admittedly, I was secretly a bit excited to try something a little exotic like a recipe or a little rich like some nut pate or guacamole).

We were the only customers for most of our lunch time. Maybe Thursday is a slow day? Or maybe raw foods is a totally foreign concept in the Midwest? We got to sit in a lovely window seat on beautiful cushions on the floor.

The wait staff was attentive and just enthralled that our entire family would eat raw food. Our waitress proclaimed that we were only the second raw family she'd ever met and that most people told her that their children would never try this kind of food. I felt the need to gently explain that we were really "80-10-10ers" and didn't eat this way all the time. She had never heard of 80-10-10. She seemed confused. "So you don't eat many greens?" No dear, we don't eat so much fat!

We were disappointed to learn that there was no child price for the all-you-can-eat buffet. We also had to patiently wait for them to finish readying it, although we came in half an hour after it's scheduled start time. Also, the smoothie menu was significantly shorter than the one online, and unfortunately, virtually every smoothie offered contained cacao.

We were offered flax crackers while we waited, which my husband and children gobbled greedily, voicing their hearty approval. They tasted like salty cardboard to me.

Despite the shaky start, we were thrilled by the beauty of the dishes as they were brought out to the buffet carts. There were stuffed marinated mushrooms, stuffed peppers, guacamole with tomatoes, a festive corn salad, two "pasta" dishes, one with marinara, one with pesto, several green salads (all with dressings and dried fruits and other vegetables), a "curried rice" dish made from cauliflower, a "falafel" made from nut balls wrapped in collard greens, a dish that had wild rice in it (is that REALLY raw?), a sweet carrot salad, a papaya custard, and a dish of whole pears and apples. No plain greens and no sweet fruit, I noticed. Hmmmm.

In addition, we ordered a raw pizza appetizer, a chocolate banana smoothie, and a smoothie with durian and cacao. I ordered this one against my better judgement because I so badly wanted to try SOMETHING with durian. That and perhaps I was trying to compensate for the sinking feeling I was getting as my husband and kids got more and more excited about this food that I know is just not optimal.

The first bites, for me, were painful. The food literally burned my tongue it was so saturated with spices and salt. The guacamole was intensely garlicky. The cabbage salad was downright HOT with pepper flakes, the curry in the "curried rice" dish tasted like dirt mixed with a caustic chemical. The durian smoothie was possibly the worst thing I've every tasted. Even the papaya custard had some mix of spices so that the taste of the fruit was completely covered over. I felt immediately depressed. My husband, noting my discomfort, said, "Now why couldn't we enjoy a meal like this just once in awhile?" He and my children began eating large quantities rapidly. My son was particularly excited as he consumed mushroom after mushroom.

A sad, lonely feeling came over me as I watched them. What IS wrong with entertaining oneself with food? With consuming toxins in order to get an artificial high feeling? With eating things that make one feel physical discomfort or even pain? I felt miserable, but pretended I didn't and started filling my stomach with a large quantity of food. As a result, I felt ill for many hours afterward, and it cast a pall over all of the fun we had later in the day. I felt highly guilty as I charged $78 to my credit card. And ALL OF IT was my choice. What I ate, how I felt... It was a good experience for me, because now I never have to feel attracted to the idea of a fancy restaurant meal. I enjoy my simple meals of fruit and greens and I enjoy feeling light and happy and healthy.

Lest you think me cruel, I will say that if you are accustomed to eating "recipes", raw or cooked, this would be some of the most delicious food you've ever tasted. It was beautifully presented, very fresh. The ingredients were of high quality. The pizza actually tasted pretty much like pizza. If you are a cooked foodie who wants to try a "healthier" meal or a raw fooder who eats recipes, dehydrated foods, salt, spices, etc., you might LOVE this restaurant. But, if you're an 80-10-10er, skip it and head to the Devon Fruit Market.

Next up, Part 3 of our adventure, where we go to the zoo and find possibly the only producing tropical fruit trees in Chicago. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Too tired to write another Saga

Yummy veggies in the Community Garden

Sorry everyone, the second installment of my Chicago saga will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm wiped out!

I had a full day of errands, dumpster diving (pineapples and cantaloupes--woohooooo!), harvesting in the Community Garden (the girls helped me pick beans and cut chard), and working in my own garden. Whew. And tomorrow promises to be more of the same.

I can't tell you how excited I am now that I have beans and tomatoes to pick. I am growing some wonderful unusual beans--Dragon Langerie and Yellow French Filet are the two that I've started picking so far. Others will be ready later.

Today's Raw Food

10:30 a.m. Smoothie with 6 bananas
2:30 p.m. 2 cups pineapple, 2 cups grapes
3:30-5 p.m. Snacking while harvesting--some beans, some shell peas and sugar snaps, a few tomatoes
6:30 A salad with romaine lettuce, fresh cucumber and yellow zucchini from my garden, and a dressing made from blended red pepper, grape tomatoes, celery, and sunflower seeds (I didn't really like it)
10 p.m. A medium cantaloupe

1470 calories, C-P-F 81-7-11

I am getting in a bad habit of not eating enough fruit calories (for my activity level) early in the day, and then feeling hunger right before bed. Normally, I will just go to bed hungry. But tonight, when I had fleeting thoughts of Oreos and potpies, I decided to just eat, darn it. I never even liked Oreos. LOL!


30 minutes low-impact aerobics
30 minutes upper body strength training

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chicago Saga: Part 1

Cover Art for the The Decemberists' latest album The Crane Wife

Our driving force behind our visit to Chicago was to hear The Decemberists give a free concert at Millenium Park with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The Decemberists are cool, Millenium Park is cool, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is cool. Put them together, for free? And you get way too many cool people in one place. LOL!

It helps if you get there more than 10 minutes before the concert starts. We got there 10 minutes before the concert started. The seats were filled, the lawns were packed, the sidewalks were body-to-body with people on their cell phones frantically trying to locate their friends who just MUST have magical lawn seating, not that you could get to said seating without teleporting. We were also supposed to locate our friends with magical lawn seating. My husband got out his cell phone and tried calling. When he reached voice mail, he immediately went into a panic, accelerated by the fact that a large storm began to gather overhead. Sigh. I started having fun, however. The band took the stage and they sounded GREAT.

People were smiling at our children, who were remarkably blithe about being pressed body to body with crowds of hipsters. Eventually we found our friends. Their lawn seating wasn't so magical--it was on the outer lawn and the sound out there was good, rather than excellent, as it is on the inner lawn. But still, it was seating and we could hear. We ate some grapes and celery and nectarines and enjoyed the show. The Decemberists played The Tain, a rambling 25 minute song which lent itself well to the presence of the orchestra, but which also happens to be my husband's least favorite song in their catalogue. However, they redeemed themselves with a rousing version of The Mariner's Revenge. Nature joined in with several dramatic cracks of thunder and lightening. But the heavy rain held off until we were safely deposited on the train to our friend Rob's house.

If you would like to see photos and a review of the concert, check out the Chicagoist.

Next up, the family visits a cool neighborhood fruit market and tries Cousin's Incredible Vitality, a raw restaurant in Chicago.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back from Chicago

Photo courtesy of The Art of Seeing

Actually, today's Sunday and I've been back since Friday. But this has been my first opportunity to post. Did you miss me? I missed you!

We had a truly lovely trip to Chicago and there are so many exciting things to tell you about that it is going to take me multiple messages to write about them all.

So, for this message, let me just recap today for you.

Today, I spent a little over 3 hours helping a disabled man (a friend of a friend) move from his apartment to a new house. Lots of fast-paced carrying heavy things up and down stairs. Actually, I had fun. And it was a beautiful sunny day. (Lest you think me overly altruistic, I will get paid for the work. :)

Then, I took the kids out to pick those Transparent Apples mentioned in my last entry. It was my friend Ann's birthday, so it was fun to bring her a card and a few little gifts, including a cabbage from my garden, and some halvah from Pars Persian grocery store in Chicago. Actually, I feel a little guilty about that one. But I have fond memories of halvah, and since she eats sweets anyway... She was excited, as she's never tried it.

Her granddaughter was there spending this week with her, and my kids had a grand time playing hide-and-go-seek with her and feeding the horses apples. Ann's husband Mike spent hours with me picking apples with his antique apple-picker. Basically, an apple-picker is a small wire basket with hooks on it at the end of a long pole. Well, shoot, just check out the picture above and you'll get a pretty good idea of how it works. What fun!

Today's Raw Food

10 a.m. Smoothie with 6 bananas and 2 cups romaine lettuce
1:30 p.m. 2 cups cherries
2:30 p.m. An ear of corn
3:30 p.m.? A couple of Transparent apples
5:45 p.m. Another ear of corn
6:30 p.m. A green smoothie with 5 bananas and 4 cups romaine lettuce
8:30 p.m. 2 large fresh cucumbers

1785 calories, C-P-F 89-6-5

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Garden Party with Transparent Apples

This morning's Firing of the Grid was celebrated by a nice thunder shower. I did not do anything formal but lay there and enjoy the sounds of Mother Nature beside my dear husband and my darling baby girl. For her sake, I hope that the healing of the planet has indeed begun.

All throughout the day, I took time to notice the birds and animals and trees and sky and just appreciate them.

Tonight, I went to my garden club's annual picnic at my lovely friend Ann's house in the country. She has 3 acres and 2 horses and a nice pool. The evening was cool and fortunately for our little gathering, it did not rain. I got to see her husband's vegetable patch and their apple trees for the first time. I've been to their place several times, but never had an excuse to visit that corner of the property. The sunset was so lovely with the pinks playing off the thunderclouds in the distance.

And, they have what they think is a White Transparent apple tree. Ann's husband Mike gave me an apple and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Now, I am not much of an apple eater. And normally, I need a very firm, crisp apple with no hint of softness about the flesh. But this was a soft, sweet flesh, yet not mushy at all. I could have eaten a bushel if I thought there was any hope of politely doing so. I managed to procure an invitation to come pick apples on Sunday. I am so excited! I will have to bring Ann and Mike something lovely from our trip to Chicago.

As for the garden club I always feel a little silly belonging to this club, as I don't really know the first thing about gardening (decorative gardening, that is). Furthermore, I feel always conscious that despite my education, I am out of my social class. I am the only young person in a mostly elderly club, and as such, I get a lot of attention, which I like, of course. I actually joined the club, in part, because they have been so generous in their support of the community garden. And, it gives me a social gathering to go to without my family, which is a rare event for me. All of these factors taken together, however, lead me to feel just a touch of guilt after my meeting, as if I'd been caught with my hand in the cookie jar or something.

In addition, tonight was a bit uncomfortable because it was a food-centered event. I brought cut-up watermelon and a pasta salad (I was nervous that I didn't have enough watermelon for both me and the crowd). Making the pasta dish was a big deal for me. I felt a bit guilty about preparing something like that. I put fresh veggies and basil from my garden in it, and actually begged the pasta, oil, and salt from a friend in exchange for a favor I did for her. I did the prep work after everyone was in bed, and carefully hid the dish in the fridge so the kids wouldn't get into it. Then, after all that, almost no one even tried it. (There was so much other food, and I think the lack of a creamy sauce or meat made it a hard sell in this crowd.) I had a huge dish of pasta salad that I palmed off on Ann at the end of the night with the excuse that I was going to be out of town. On the other hand, the watermelon was quite popular. Go figure.

Actually, there was literally nothing other than watermelon for me to eat. But the melon was so good, it was hard to restrain myself from eating and leave some for the rest of the crowd. It's so freeing not to miss all of the other foods! But I feel so self-conscious when 20 people ask me if that's all I'm eating, WHY that's all I'm eating, etc. I haven't worked up to honestly telling many people what I'm doing. Of course, my manner probably attracts more of the unwanted attention than if I just directly, simply and confidently explained "I eat only raw fruit, vegetables, and nuts."

Anyway, dear readers, I want to alert you that I will be out of town for the next couple of days. Look for all the thrilling details of my family's trip to Chicago this weekend!

Today's Raw Food

10:30 a.m. 14 cups watermelon
2:30 p.m. Smoothie with 4 medium bananas, about 2 1/2 cups thawed mango, and 2 cups endive
6:00 p.m. 6 cups watermelon
9:30 p.m. 2 large nectarines, 1 cup iceberg lettuce, 1 stalk celery, 1 large cucumber with skin

Approximately 1850 calories, 85-6-9

The Tooth Fairy

My daughter shows off her first gap. Of course, her baby sister can't be left out of the fun.

So, I hit bottom, bounced, and kept on moving upward. Gotta love it! I had an epiphany... I can't digest cashews. And I used to eat pounds of 'em. It feels good that my body is finally cleaning up to the point that it can send me clear signals... "Hey, idiot, feed me some fruit!"

The highlight of today was that my daughter lost her first tooth. She was highly excited, and is a complete believer in the magic of the tooth fairy. I can't believe this milestone snuck up (on me) so fast. My little baby is growing up.

I would love to share with you all of the other exciting things going on here, but it is 1:30 a.m. and I can't stay up another minute. Tomorrow morning, I plan to get up early to help FIRE THE GRID!

Today's Raw Food

10 a.m. 12 C. watermelon
2:30 p.m. 3 C. bing cherries
4:30 p.m. 1/2 medium cantaloupe
5:00 p.m. A lot of edible-podded peas off the vine
6:30 p.m. 3 ears of sweet corn, a large salad made with iceberg, curly endive, red pepper, cucumber, celery, and 1 oz. sunflower seeds
1 a.m. 4 C. watermelon

1550 calories, C-P-F 75-10-15


1 mile walk, slow (with kids)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cleansing continues

Felt "ill" today. Actually, I didn't feel any strong symptoms; I just felt like I couldn't move for any reason. I slept pretty much all day and got up about 4 p.m. It is so fortunate that my husband is here to be with the children. He also harvested some cabbage and kale for me to sell tomorrow at market.

I should have probably fasted to allow for more healing to take place, but I ate anyway. At about 7 p.m., I had a very large hard ball of a bowel movement. Hmmmm, maybe that's what my body was working on cleansing.

I am battling feelings of helplessness and depression. Can I conquer my flaws? (Or is that a fundamentally flawed way of viewing myself?)

Today's Raw Food

About 5 p.m. 3 C. honeydew melon, 3 C. watermelon
About 7 p.m. About 12 C. watermelon, 2 cups raw peas
About 10:30 p.m. 6 Medjool dates, 1 oz. raw cashews

About 1550 calories, C-P-F 80-7-13

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Work in Progress

Health Update

On April 27th, 2007, I went raw and haven't looked back. My journey has taken me places I never imagined. I am learning to experience my emotions without food. I am following my dreams, sometimes to challenging places. I am recycling weight and transforming my body.

April 28th, 2007 135.4 lbs., 34% body fat
July 12th, 2007 116.8 lbs., 24.4% body fat

Other health changes

My constipation and irritable bowel issues are gone. I notice digestive discomfort in response to eating improper food combinations or eating dehydrated foods, onions, or herbs. Before, these symptoms were so common for me that I ignored them.

I am not bloated or achey in the mornings any more. My weight doesn't fluctuate 5 or 6 pounds from morning to night. Both of these are related to the elimination of salt from my diet.

I have more energy and stamina when I am exercising. I don't feel out of breath or lethargic.

I tan more easily, although I still have to be very careful, especially with areas of my body that haven't seen much sun in my life.

My skin is clearer and my scalp is less flakey. However, if I eat a lot of fat, such as avocados, for a few days in a row, I notice minor breakouts or dandruff. I no longer use soap or shampoo or personal products of any kind. I don't stink, unless I eat onions.

I no longer use toothpaste and my teeth remain their typical clean selves (brushing with water 2 times per day). However, I still wake up with a dry mouth and whitish foul-tasting coated tongue. I hope to eventually lose that symptom along the way.

My sense of smell is quite sharp. This is sometimes an inconvenience.

My periods have spaced out from approximately 30 days apart to 40. They are very light and short.

Overall, I feel extremely proud and happy about how far I've come. But I'm a work in progress for sure!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Do I Know How to Feel Joy?

Photo by Mike at absolutelydelightful.com

I had a satisfying morning today cleaning. I have been spending so much time in the garden and out of my house, that sometimes it's nice to just reconnect with my living space. I did dishes by hand, something I normally don't take the time to do. The girls did some gorgeous paintings, while my son worked with his dad to do some house (or should I say garage) painting.

My husband and I have been working on our vision for homeschooling our children. This has been a great experience, although uncomfortable at times, for us to work on our communication. We have been getting some wonderful help from Elchanan and Seena through the Path of Health's mentor program.

One thing that arose in our session with Elchanan and Seena tonight was that although our vision is detailed, it lacks feeling behind it. In other words, all of the "pieces" might be there, but where is the enthusiasm and joy in our approach? How can the children be excited about doing something that we are not excited about? I realized that I am almost never joyful about any part of parenting, because I am always feeling either anxious about being a good parent, or I am distracted. As a matter of fact, I am rarely joyful about much in life. Hmmmm. Stay tuned.

Today's Food
11 a.m. 1 quart strawberries with tops blended with one stalk of fennel
2 p.m. 1 1/2 medium cantaloupe

About 1/2 hour after finishing the cantaloupe, I had a bad stomachache. It was like nausea, but lower in the belly. The worst of it lasted about half an hour, but I had a dull ache for a few more hours. I didn't feel hungry for dinner. I took a small taste of the date sauce I prepared for the kids banana ice cream in the evening meal, but it didn't even tempt me, so I did not eat anything more. At about 10:30, I felt hungry, but I think I'll just head to bed. Eating late interrupts my sleep.

Approx. 560 calories, C-P-F 85-8-7

Monday, July 9, 2007

Plant a Row

Plant a Row for the Hungry is a program that encourages gardeners to help fight hunger in their own communities. Our Farmer's Market vendors are proud participants in the Plant a Row program. This week alone, our vendors donated 75 pounds of fresh vegetables to our local food pantry. The demand for these items is enormous, as the clients would only get nonperishable canned and boxed items otherwise.

Think it's too late to plant? You can often find seedlings at your local nurseries, grocery and big box stores at a deep discount during early July. I personally planted 8 pepper plants today. Depending on your climate and growing season, you still have plenty of time to plant short season crops such as snap beans. And of course, there are crops to plant that like cool weather, such as lettuce. Depending on your season, you can plant these as late as August or September.

Today's Food--finally back on track! I actually experienced TRUE HUNGER today (I think?)

11 a.m. Smoothie with 5 bananas and 2 cups curly endive
3 p.m. 1/2 large cucumber, 3 Romas, 1/2 cup Chinese cabbage sprouts, juice of 1 lime
5 p.m. A handful of sugar snap peas in the garden
7:15 p.m A large salad with romaine, Chinese cabbage sprouts, and Romas, a dressing made from 1/4 avocado and a bit of lime juice, smoothie with 4 bananas and mint, a couple tablespoons of raisins as garnish

About 1370 calories, C-P-F 85-7-8

Today's exercise

30 minute Body by Victoria video, aerobics and circuit training with weights

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Bartimaeas Rocks!

Suddenly, my cat is eating whole raw meat. He still requires a smear of canned food before he will consider it, but nevertheless, he's crunching those rabbit bones and tearing into chicken hearts with relish. Now why did I rush into investing in ground meat? Let that be a lesson!

I have spoken to some friends who promise me free fish heads and low cost locally-raised chicken. I will continue to explore local options for responsibly-raised or wild meats, preferably for free or cheap!

Today's Food

11 a.m. 8 apricots, 5 bananas blended with about 2 cups curly endive (all the kids liked this mixture, too)
1 p.m. About 1 cup of my friend's fresh raspberries
5 p.m. 5 cups iceberg, blended dressing made with avocado, celery, cucumber, and cilantro, then more avocado mashed with lime juice
8 p.m. (in the garden), about 1 cup of snow peas
9:30 p.m. 5 partially-frozen bananas in a smoothie
About 1850 calories, C-P-F 74-6-21


10 minutes Pilates, 20 minutes aerobics (so many interruptions!)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

What happened to Friday?

One of the residents of PIGS, a Santuary

I had a busy day yesterday! I took the kids out to the garden in the morning. We saw our farmer friends' 2 new piggies. They're so cute. "Are they going to kill them, Mama?" asked my oldest daughter. She's such a sensitive sweetie.

They tried picking mulberries, but didn't get much. We found a warren of baby rabbits that drowned in the 2 inches of rain we got the other day. The kids were interested to see them and talk about death. They weren't upset, but they did think the maggots and ants eating them were kinda gross.

Then they went and swung on the tire swing.

On the way home, we did a dumpster run. We got a lot of good stuff, but 28 avocados! I was smart enough to give a bunch away. Still, I ended up eating 5 by the end of the day.

I brought the kids home and headed back to the garden to work off some debt to my farmer friend, Phil. At the beginning of the summer, he bought most of my seedlings (with his discount) and sold me his old seeder. I have owed him about $50 forever.

Phil and I weeded side-by-side for about 5 hours, so we had a fun time talking. He's 79 and has had an interesting life. He has been pestering me to "help him" lose 12 pounds--he's not overweight but he does have a spare tire he wants to lose. He has decided to give up sugary drinks like lemonade and sugared juices that his wife makes from plums and other fruit. Talking about food got him telling stories about his travels in the Navy during the Korean War. He was a meteorologist, so he had lots of free time to explore when the ship was docked. He told about the little pizza place with red checkered tablecloths in Hong Kong, and a fancy restaurant on a ship where you could pick your live shrimp out of baskets hung over the side in the ocean water. He said the best meal of his life was in a little hamlet in Hawaii where he got a big lobster dinner and lots of drinks for $2.

I worked hard in the garden until sundown and didn't get home until almost 10 p.m. I should have gone to bed, but instead, I started eating guacamole. Naughty me.

My food

10:30 a.m. 5 bananas, 3 cups romaine
1 p.m. 3 cups romaine, 1 avocado, a dressing made with avocado, grape tomatoes, orange pepper, celery, and a tiny bit of onion, more celery for dipping
6 p.m. 1/2 cup raspberries
9 p.m. About 2 cups sugar snap peas
10 p.m. 3 mashed avocados, lime juice, and a little onion powder with 3 large stalks of celery to dip

* A note: My 2 year-old dumped the last of our expensive unheated Utah red salt. So, we're off the salt (for good?!?).

2260 calories, C-P-F 44-6-50 (Yikes!)


1 plank, 1 set of tricep dips, 2 pushups

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Butterfly Farm

This morning, my children and I headed out to meet an acquaintance and her dog at Butterfly Farm, a restored prairie with walking paths about 15 miles north of us. This farmland was purchased by an eco-friendly couple of city transplants, Jerry and Esther Lott. They built the imitation barn home pictured above and restored the prairie themselves. After their recent deaths, both from cancer, they donated the land to a nonprofit that has an adjacent bike trail. Now it is open to the public, but no one really knows about it yet, so we had the whole beautiful place all to ourselves.
At first, the children all whined in concert. This was a bit irritating and embarrassing, as we were with this woman who is childless, and I didn't know what to expect of her reaction. She was quite laid back, thankfully, and we found our way into a wood along the edge of the property, where the children cooled off. The girls began to have fun.

We saw lots of fascinating insects and beautiful butterflies. The adults and the dog caught sight of a chipmunk, but the kids couldn't sight it among the underbrush. I am so enamored with foraging now that I was quite excited to see massive amounts of elderberries in bloom.
After walking over a mile and listening to my oldest whine nonstop, the woman finally found a way to distract my son. They began inventing ice cream sundaes. My son wanted to put tic-tacs and chocolate chips in his. The conversation went on and on, and I felt a bit of discomfort, but less than I felt when he was whining. And, it inspired me to make banana-mint "ice cream" when we got home with some of my grapefruit mint leaves from the backyard. It was a hit!

Today's Food

8:30 a.m. About 12 cups watermelon

11:30 a.m. Banana-mint ice-cream (about 4 frozen bananas and 6 mint leaves)

1 p.m. About 1/2 cup mulberries and 1 1/2 cups red raspberries while picking

5:30 p.m. 8 small dried figs, 2 Medjool dates, some shredded zucchini "pasta" with a sauce made from Roma tomatoes, an orange pepper, a little basil and onion powder, and a date for sweetening, about 1 cup iceberg lettuce

8 p.m. Some broccoli from my garden, 4 medium strawberries, more figs and 4 dates

9 p.m. About 2 cups watermelon

About 2350 calories, C-P-F 90-5-5

(This is day 6 of overeating emotionally. Come on, let's get it together!)

Today's Exercise

About 75 minutes of slow walking

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

July Food Expenses

Photo from the Greensboro News-Record

This month's goals are to reduce our spending on groceries and gasoline. We plan to take fewer trips to the grocery store and to limit 90% of our grocery spending to local foods and bananas.

Grocery Receipts

7/1 Cub Foods, $5.52, 6 gallons reverse osmosis water, 1 12 oz. package cherries
7/2 Freeport Food Co-op (United Foods International), $63.99, 5 lbs. organic raw hulled sunflower seeds, 8 lbs. organic Medjool dates, 2 10 oz. bags organic frozen cherries, 4 rolls recycled toilet paper
7/3 Chana Outdoor Auction, $13, 2 huge watermelons and 1 large muskmelon
7/5 Aldi $6.06, 10 lbs. bananas, 2 lbs romaine hearts
7/6 Cub Foods, $6.42, 9 gallons reverse osmosis water, 1 1/2 lbs. Fuji apples, 1 bunch organic celery
7/6 320 Store (purchased by a friend), $5, Mission figs
7/6 Farmer's Market, $10.75, tomatoes, eggs (for the cat), Crispy Mint lettuce, cucumbers
7/7 Cub Foods, $3.52, 12 oz. frozen cherries
7/10 Cub Foods, $3, 9 gallons water
7/10 Aldi, $4.47, 5 lbs. bananas, 3 lbs. oranges
7/12 local chicken for the cat, $5
7/13 Woodman's Market, $71.08, 4 mangoes, 14 lbs. organic bananas, 6 lbs. organic apples, 3 12 oz. packages organic dates, 4 organic kiwis, 2 large honeydew melons, 3 seedless watermelon, 2 lbs. sunflower seeds, 2 lbs. raw cashews
7/13 Walgreens, $3, raisins
7/14 Cub Foods, $3, 6 gallons reverse osmosis water, 3 oz. cinnamon
7/14 Freeport Farmer's Market, $9, iceberg lettuce, raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes
7/16 Aldi, $23.93, 10 nectarines, 20 lbs. bananas, 9 lbs. Gala apples, 1 large pineapple, 1 cantaloupe
7/16 Sav-A-Lot,$9.48, 1 seedless watermelon, almost 1 lb. plums, almost 3 lbs. of ripe bananas, 3.5 lbs. peaches
7/16 Cub Foods, $30.75, 2 large seeded watermelon, 8 lbs. bing cherries, 1 cantaloupe, 1 honeydew, 2 bunches organic celery
7/16 Cub Foods (my husband), $8.97, 3 12 oz. bags frozen mango
7/18 Cub Foods, $5.56, 6 gallons reverse osmosis water, 3 lbs. Fuji apples
7/19 Devon Market, $22.17, 8 ears corn, 4 ripe mangos, 2 packages dried figs, 1 package fresh green figs, 1 package fresh Black Mission figs, 1 head baby bok choy, 1 young coconut, 1 large container Deglet Noor Dates
7/19 Pars Persian Store, $11.65, 2 lbs. Medjool dates, 1 package halvah (gift), 1 can Iraqi date syrup (gift)
7/19 Cousin's Incredible Vitality (raw restaurant), $73.38, 5 All-You-Can Eat "Salad" Bars, 1 flax pizza, 2 different smoothies (both with raw cacao), gratuity
7/19 Whole Foods, $3.27, fresh lychee
7/20 Whole Foods, $30.60, 6 Lara Bars, 2 Raw Revolution bars, 3 lbs. fresh lychee, 1 lb. Southern Rose apples
7/23 Huron Market (roadside stand), bicolor sweet corn, $4--seller claimed it was locally-grown, but others have raised doubts
7/23 Cub Foods, $3, 9 gallons reverse osmosis water
7/24 Aldi, $2.55, 5 lbs. bananas, 1 honeydew melon
7/25 CVS Pharmacy, $10.06, Roasted cashews, Honey-Roasted Peanuts, 2 Dove bars with Almonds (my husband was on a cheating spree--we ended giving the nuts away, but he ate the chocolate)
7/26 My farmer friend Phil, $5, 5 lbs. raw peanuts bought from a local feed elevator
7/27 Cub Foods, $13.36, 5 lbs. organic bananas, large Crenshaw melon, 6 oz. organic raisins, 2 organic nectarines
7/27 Roadside stand, $12, 13 ears corn, a quart of nectarines, a large muskmelon
7/28 Farmer's Market, $10, 24 ears corn, 2 lbs. sugar snap peas (purchased by my son with his own money)
7/28 Cub Foods, $2, 6 gallons reverse osmosis water
7/29 Sullivan's, $14.12, 4 muskmelons, 2 seedless watermelon (melons grown in Indiana)
7/31 Aldi Foods, $10.92, 6 lbs. Gala apples, 2 honeydew melons, 4 nectarines

Total: $432.75

Free Food

7/1 Aldi dumpster, 1 pineapple, 4 D 'Anjou pears, 1 orange pepper, 1 unripe mango, 5 limes, approx. $7.23, other food not counted because it was given away
7/2 Red and black raspberries from a friend's house, approx. $12
7/3 Black raspberries from the roadside, approx. $2
7/5 Red and black raspberries and mulberries from friends' houses, approx. $6
7/5 Gift of dumpstered food from a friend, 2 heads iceberg and 6 Roma tomatos, approx. $4
7/5 Aldi dumpster, 16 limes, 6 lbs. strawberries, approx. $12
7/6 Aldi dumpster, 4 D 'Anjou pears, 5 heads iceberg lettuce, 4 zucchini, 2 pints grape tomatoes, 16 avocadoes (got 27, but wisely gave some away), 8 lbs. Roma tomatoes, 8 lbs. oranges, 1 lime, approx. $46.62, other food not counted because it was given away
7/6 Gift of apricots, $5
7/7 Aldi dumpster, 50 lbs. very ripe bananas, approx. $16.50
7/7 Gifts of raspberries, sugar snap and shell peas, approx. $5
7/8 Gift of raspberries, approx. $2
7/9 Gift of dumpstered romaine lettuce, approx. $9.52
7/10 Aldi dumpster, 50 lbs. ripe bananas, 5 cantaloupes, 3 lbs. Granny Smith apples, 2 lbs. Red Delicious apples, 2 lbs. strawberries, approx. $35.61
7/11 Aldi dumpster, 3 lbs. Vidalia onions, 2 cantaloupe, $6.50, plus more given away
7/11 Gift of raspberries, $2
7/12 Aldi dumpster, 10 lbs. red grapes, $13.45
7/12 Mother-in-law's garden, cucumbers and sugar snap peas, $10
7/16 Mother-in-law's garden, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, $10
7/16 Aldi dumpster, 3 colored peppers, 1 lime, $3
7/16 Community garden, iceberg lettuce, basil, $3
7/20 Gift of dumpstered food, 6 bags prewashed salad greens, 2 cantaloupes, $14.38
7/20 Aldi dumpster, 3 colored peppers, $1.99, other food given away
7/22 Mother-in-law's garden, 4 large cucumbers, $1.56
7/22 Gift of apples, White transparent and red/green unknown variety, maybe 50 lbs.?, $75.00
7/23 Gift of cantaloupe, $1.19
7/24 Aldi dumpster, 6 pineapples, 6 lbs. green grapes, 8 cantaloupes, 5 packages celery, 5 colored peppers, 1 pint grape tomatoes, 8 heads iceberg lettuce, $48.21
7/26 Aldi dumpster, 4 D'Anjou pears, 2 quarts strawberries, 2 lbs. green grapes, $9.67
7/27 Aldi dumpster, 20 lbs. overripe bananas, 8 colored peppers, $12.12
7/27 Foraging, blackberries and chokecherries, $5
7/30 Aldi dumpster, 2 heads iceberg lettuce, 3 limes, $3
7/31 Aldi dumpster, 40 lbs. bananas, $14

Total: $361.55

Garden Produce (Charging ourselves value we would get at Farmer's Market)

7/3 Endive $0.50
7/4 Endive $1
7/7 Kale, snow peas $4
7/8 Endive, snow peas $3
7/9 Endive, snow peas, sugar snap peas, mint $5
7/10 Endive, purple pepper, snow peas, sugar snap peas, mint $4
7/11 Kale, snow peas, sugar snap peas, mint $3
7/12 Endive, snow peas, sugar snap peas, lettuce, mint $3
7/13 Purple peppers, sugar snap peas, shell peas, mint $3
7/16 Endive, purple peppers, $1
7/20 Snow peas, shell peas, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, $12
7/21 Snow peas, shell peas, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, yellow french filet beans, $15
7/23 Sugar snap peas, snap beans (various types), yellow zucchini, $12
7/24 Shell peas, tomatoes, snap beans (various types, given away as a gift), cucumber, $16
7/26 Sugar snap peas, yellow french filet beans, Dragon Langerie beans, green beans, tomatoes, 1 purple pepper $12
7/27 Sugar snap peas, yellow french filet beans, 1 yellow summer squash, 1 zucchini, 1 overly large cucumber, a few cherry tomatoes, $6
7/28 Sugar snap peas, $6
7/29 Sugar snap peas, purple pepper, green beans, summer squash, $6
7/31 Endive, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, yellow french filet beans, Dragon Langerie beans, summer squash, $12
Total: $115.50

Garden Expenses

7/16 Evergreen Y.H. Enterprises, various Oriental vegetable seeds for fall planting, $14.90
7/31 Fall plants--broccoli, cauliflower, bartered for work in Phil's garden
Total: $14.90

Farmer's Market Income

7/6 $5.00
7/9 $7.50 (sold to a local bakery)
7/14 $8.00
7/21 $6.00
7/28 $10.00
7/31 $7.50 (sold to a local bakery)

Total: $36.50

Let's All Emote Together... Hmmm. How will that Work?

Picture from istockphoto

The 80-10-10 Diet is actually more than a diet program. It is actually a holistic program that addresses every part of our health... Diet, rest, exercise, sunshine and "emotional poise" are all part of 80-10-10.

So, for me, the diet is going pretty well. I have been off the avocados for a few days now (ran out) and eating back in the range of 90-5-5 or so. Sunshine is also no problem. I am working on the exercise part, and it is improving. Generally, I am fairly active anyway because of my garden work. Rest is touch and go, but getting better. I am making a commitment to go to bed at a reasonable hour, 11 p.m. or earlier at least 5 nights per week. I am also working on taking a more leisurely pace in life, instead of relentlessly pushing through fatigue.

Now for the emotional part. Wow. In his book, Dr. Graham mentions that many of us have used food in the past to supress our ability to feel negative emotions. In particular, we use fat to do this, because digesting fat requires so much energy that it actually "numbs" our nerve energy, leaving us unable to feel strong emotions. He writes,

"As one lightens the digestive load by switching to [low fat] raw foods, the body suddenly has more nerve energy to conduct emotions, and emotions suppressed over the years begin to emerge. This unexpected challenge proves overwhelming for many people..." pg. 241 of The 80-10-10 Diet

Um, yeah. Now multiply that times five in our house. It is like a powder keg in here! I hope we get out of this alive.

Today's Food

9:30 a.m. About 10 cups watermelon
11:30 a.m. 8 Medjool dates
3 p.m. About 12 cups watermelon
6:30 p.m. 3 cups iceberg, 2 cups curly endive, 1/2 of a medium orange pepper, 1 C. sliced cucumber, and a dressing made of blended sunflower seeds, red pepper, taragon, and a sprinkle of salt
8:30 Shake with 3 frozen bananas, 1/4 cup black raspberries

About 2200 cal., C-P-F 81-7-12

Today's Exercise

1 hour walking with my son in the a.m. (slow pace)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Raw Emotions

This photo is over a year old, but it's relevant... There was a lot of this today.

Wow, I feel exhausted. Two sick cranky kids, one husband, and many major life decisions took a LOT of energy today. It feels good to be dealing with my emotions rather than suppressing them with candy bars. I will head to bed early tonight and recharge my batteries.

Someone posted this quote on a list that I am on and it hit me square in the head,

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

---Marianne Williamson, Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

Does know about the source of my fears liberate me from them? Stay tuned.

Today's Food

10 a.m. About 12 cups watermelon
1:30 p.m. Part of a cherry banana smoothie (interrupted by sick 2 year-old)
2:45 p.m. The rest of the cherry smoothie, some leftover bok choy and apple salad
7 p.m. Mango-Fennel Soup (recipe in The 80-10-10 Diet), more bok choy and apple salad, 1 2/3 avocado (I "had" to eat them, they were starting to go.)

About 2100 cal, C-P-F 73-6-21
20 minutes strength training
20 minutes aerobics
10 minutes stretching