a day at the park

Liam and I spent the morning at Parc Paradisio today. It’s the end of the school year, so there have been lots of young kids there every time we’ve gone so far. Young kids aren’t necessarily a problem, but when you have 20 kids per 1 adult, things can get a little out of control. In the past, Liam and I have been jostled through displays by groups of kids, frustrated in our attempts to simply get from point A to point B in a timely manner, and pushed aside on the playground. But today we went to the park with a plan. We arrived at 10AM, when the park first opened. There were plenty of school field trips there, but I’m getting to know their schedules. First they lead the kids through various displays; then, around 11:15 or 11:30, they head for the large playground to let them run amuck and be pushy little imps. So instead of getting tangled up with them, Liam and I made a beeline for the playground right away. I had intended to stay there for about half an hour and then see some other things, but Liam was so thrilled on the playground that we stayed until the throng appeared. For the most part, Liam and I had the playground all to ourselves for about an hour and a half.


On the way to the playground, Liam was patient enough to pose for this shot. There’s way too much light, but I assure you the flowers with the tower in the background is a beautiful sight. And doesn’t he look like such a good, long-suffering son?


First stop on the playground — the digger cage. Unfortunately, whatever coinage it takes, I didn’t have on hand. Or it was broke. Nevertheless, Liam enjoyed sitting there and working the controls. I’ll be sure to bring an array of coins next time.


The train was one of Liam’s favorites at the playground. He loved to be the driver and play “Polar Express.”


Although I thought this was a seal, Liam assures me that it is his “motorcycle.” He really loved rocking back and forth and back and forth and back and forth… see the wooden pyramid in the background? Once we explored it, that’s where we spent the rest of our time. I’m sure it’s the new favorite. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that in my “condition” I really wanted to climb all the way to the top and then come hurtling down the tube slide, so Jesse, you’re going to have to accompany us to the park one of these weekends!


This is on the wooden pyramid playground. There are lots of connecting bridges, slides, and, of course, the climb to the tube slide at the top. I kept cautioning Liam to hold on because the bridge moved, but he couldn’t have cared less.

We stayed until the playground got overrun. Then we meandered our way out of the park and over to the air base for pizza and a little shopping. We had a great time!

blast off!

Just thought I’d share a few shots of Liam enjoying his new favorite toy — a pneumatic missile launcher. This came in the mail last week from Grandma Bonnie, but we just got it out for him today.


Stomping on the bellows. You can see the missile straight up in the air.


Explaining to me how high it went.

It was difficult to get any good photos of the excitement on his face — I was too worried about getting beamed in the head. My later attempt to get at least one closeup wasn’t very successful, either. It’s difficult to get a nice, pleasant expression on a child gobbling up strawberries just as fast as he can.


But here’s a cheesy, fruit-filled grin to make you happy!

suggestions

I’ve been surprised lately at the number of people we suggested read “The China Study” who have actually read it, and then, even more surprised, at the number that have decided to make the same drastic change to their lifestyle that we have. I’ll be listing many more recipes, photos, and thoughts here, now that I know there are actually people out there reading this (although not commenting!!!!!!) and making the same choices we made just a short six months ago.

Here are a few things we found indispensable in the first few months, and things I still use almost daily months later:

1. a really good blender. We have a Vitamix, and I can’t imagine life without one now. You’ll find yourself making lots of soups, and blending half will give you a much more interesting overall texture. I have smoothies for breakfast nearly every day, and they are a pleasure with the Queen of my Kitchen. Since I am knife-challenged and most of my recipes involve cutting up copious amounts of vegeetables, I use the Vitamix to do this as well. Hummus, pesto, faux sour cream and mayonnaise…. I tell you, I use this thing every day.

2. a rice cooker. Now, I used to think this was only for the appliance collectors among us. But I’ve found it to be such a timesaver. No more standing around making sure the rice doesn’t stick or burn or boil over. Perfect rice, every time. I use it about once a week and make a huge batch, freezing the better half of it. We eat plenty of stir-fries, curries, etc., so we go through a lot of rice.

3. a few good vegan cookbooks. Unfortunately, unless you have access to a large library, you’ll probably end up buying some cookbooks you’ll never use. I have a few of those. But I also have a couple great books that I use a number of times a week. A few books I heartily recommend:

  • –“How it all Vegan!” by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer. There are actually a number of these cookbooks, but I only own the one. This cookbook has some good general ideas, but to be honest I rarely use their “meal”-type recipes. I turn here for the specialty recipes. They have instructions for making soy, rice, oatmeal, and almond milks (using a blender), ideas for making fake jerky out of tofu, chickpea snacks, and the like, and some great faux recipes — faux mayo, sour cream, whipped cream. Granted, the fact that I turn to this book for these kind of recipes is probably why Jesse and I haven’t seen a more significant weight loss, but they are great for the occasional treat.
  • –anything by Nava Atlas. Most of her cookbooks are vegetarian, not strictly vegan, but I find most of her recipes already have vegan alternatives listed, or would be easily adaptable. Probably my favorite, all-purpose cookbook. I also find her recipes to be quite kid-friendly.
  • –anything by Donna Klein. I have both her “Vegan Italiano” and “Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.” These are by far my favorite cookbooks. The recipes require a little more time and planning than some of the others, but the results are definitely worth the extra effort. I cook from this book at least a couple times a week. I think the thing I like best about Klein’s books is that they don’t rely heavily on tofu or TVP. She uses more beans and nuts and seeds, and the recipes seem more natural.

4. a huge cast iron skillet. As large as you can lift. Although eventually I’d like to get a really high-quality wok, for now this serves the purpose quite well. Great for making stir-fries, ratatouille, and a billion other dishes.

5. buy in bulk. We buy beans and soy milk in bulk. Since we have a huge amount of pantry space in our basement, we also keep heavily stocked in the few canned items we use — all sorts of canned tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, chickpeas, etc. Oh, also vegetarian broth! I know it’s probably healthier to make your own, but the simple truth is it’s easier to pop open a can.

There are probably a ton of other tips in the recesses of my brain, but that will have to wait for another day.

au naturale

On Thursday I met with Lucette, the midwife in a nearby town. Although she speaks no English, after having had an initial appointment together, we’ve decided that my French is good enough that we can work together. So it looks like Harry will be born in La Maison de Naissance (the house of birth) and will be home later that same day. Which is exactly what we want. If there were complications, unlikely though that is, the birth house in mere minutes from what is lauded to be the best of the local hospitals.

I’m quite relieved after having met with her to find that this will work and that we can give Harry the birth we want. You can bet I’ll be spending a lot of time over the next twelve weeks or so working on my French! I think I got about 90% of what Lucette was saying, but I’m sure she was dumbing down the conversation a lot for me.

On the very day I met with her, Liam went to the first sitter he’s had in nearly two years. I was quite worried about how that would go, but I needn’t have been concerned. He kissed me goodbye and then turned back to playing with “Anna,” his new best friend. He had a wonderful time and didn’t shed a tear. In fact, the only time he turned even a bit recalcitrant was when I showed up and said it was time to go. Then he told me, no, I should go back to my appointment and let him play some more. He spent the rest of the evening saying, “I’m sad. I want to go back and see Anna.”

He’ll get to go see his Anna at least once a week, so he’ll be a happy camper. I want to have him comfortable with someone in the unlikely event that Harry comes along before Grandma Bonnie flies over. I don’t want to just drop him for an entire day or so with someone he barely knows.

Anyway, that’s the brief update from here. I know you’re starving for pictures of Liam (sorry, no more of Harry until the big day now), and I’ll try to get some this weekend. It hasn’t been great weather as of late, and indoor pictures just never seem to work out.

Can’t think of a way to end this post… guess I’ll just trail off now…..