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June 16 2006

So much has happened, I do not even know where to begin!

On 06.06.06 Cage decided to walk. He took a few steps, clapped his hands, and walked all over. He is so proud of himself. Better than seeing him walk is to see him beam. Now he is mastering ‘running’ (more like trotting). Jake is so thrilled, he can’t wait for Cage to chase him. I still can’t believe he is walking! He can stand up without help, bend over to pick something up and stand back up on his own, and he has mastered the sit from stand too. Turning, direction, and eating while walking have all been accomplished. It was amazing, you could see the determination in his face. He decided to walk and he did just that. I forgot to mention he does stairs effortlessly too. No hesitation at all.

Cage is also full of incoming molars. The pain that he is going through is immense. I thought it was over, but then I saw only half of each molar had poked through, so we are going through this all over again. He really rejects every remedy I have given him, except for a hemp cloth soaked in chamomile tea and frozen. Unfortunately they do not last long. It is so tough to see him like this, but I know it is not forever. Soon he will have all his teeth and I will miss these days (or so at least I am told ;)

Jacob started summer camp and is having a great time. They are being very nice to us there and we appreciate it. They are very good about his diet too, which is rare in this area. I told them the quick ins and outs of a vegan diet and asked them to let me know if they do anything like an ice cream day, pizza day, or whatever. If I can know a day or so in advance then I can make sure Jake is eating the exact same as the other children, just vegan. We do ice cream cones all the time (Cage’s favorite is Strawberry), just with Tofutti or Soy Delicious. We also eat allot of pizza, some with no cheese and some with layers and layers of gooey soy cheese. Anyway, back on track.

Jake’s Grandfather passed away. This is something I have not talked about, for the sheer reason that I did not want to involve him in this blog, but Chris is not Jakes father. His Father and I split when Jake was very little. His Grandfather on his Dad’s side was a wonderful man. He had an accident that killed him. He and Jake were very close. Jake has taken this very well, over all. His Dad called me at 5am to tell me the news. After our brief conversation I knew I had to tell Jake what had happened, but I didn’t know how. How do you tell an almost six year old that his Grandfather had died? So I looked it up on line. There were some great article on the subject, my favorite was from a Buddhist website. They all had certain things in common, like never say the deceased is sleeping or went away. Jake has some experience with the subject already…we have had animals that have died and he had a friend from school last year that died in a house fire. He said he understood what it was to die and gave a very good explanation. That made my job easier, so to speak. I told him his Grandfather had an accident and he just lost it. I was very sad to see such a good man go, but to see Jake hurt like this brought me to my knees. I hugged him and told him it was okay to feel sad. He cried in my arms for awhile. Then I asked him if he thought his Grandfather wanted him to be sad, and he said no. I told him that G-Pa would only want to see him happy and that helped right away. He wasn’t happy, but he was stopped crying. We talked and I told him that G-Pa lived forever in his (Jakes) heart and they would never be apart again. He really liked the thought of that.

So we went to the funeral. It was very short and nice. Jacob stunned me with his behavior. He could not have behaved better in any way. I am so very proud of him. Everyone was talking about how well he did. I had a talk with him about how important it was to show everyone how strong he could be by being happy and helpful. He did just that. I reinsured him that it was okay to be sad, and if he felt like crying it was okay. He cried once while we were there. He blew me away. I am in disbelief at how well he has handled this. He does cry at home sometimes, usually at night. I hop into bed with him and we make shadow puppets, silly noises, and laugh until he feels better. We have a very open relationship and he knows at any time he can come and talk to me about anything. We have discussed his G-Pa’s life and Jake’s feelings. This will take allot of time to get over, but I know he is going to be alright.

We have a new baby in the house. He is a abandoned rabbit. OMG he is adorable! Some of his family had an accident involving a lawnmower, and that must have caused the mother to abandon him. I know, often it seems like baby bunnies are abandoned when they are not (because the Mother only comes at night, only once or twice. Otherwise she stays away.) but this little guy was truly left. I was very nervous when he came. Rabbits are very fragile when they are young. I called my wildlife vet and could not get him. I called a very radical rabbit woman I know and could not get her. I knew what I had to do, but I was looking for advice from a seasoned rabbit person. The wildlife contact for my area that I had said she refused to take rabbits, and the baby ones rarely ever make it. She did, however, give me a contact to a rabbit rehabber who was wonderful. She gave me tips and tricks and put my hopes back up to where they should be. She said she felt confident that he would be okay in my care and so far he is great. He is eating, pooping, and burrowing. He should be able to be released in a few weeks. I am sad knowing that he will be gone, but I am happy that he will have his life in the wild back. Every time wildlife leaves it is so sad, but a happy sad.

Cage has started to become a picky eater. Not picky about the food (obviously) but about how it gets to his mouth. Sometimes he wants to feed himself and sometimes he insists you do it for him. He has discovered the joys of feeding the animals as well. He likes to take a bite, give the dogs a bite (they wait one at a time for this), take a bite. When he is discovered doing that he gives up and throws everything on the floor. He likes to see them go after what he throws (he has a great arm). So I thought isolating him from the dogs when we eat will help. He will then feed the cats. Take the cats away and he will pout as he throws food on the floor anyway. Don’t get me wrong, he eats as much as he throws.

Tonight I made pounds of pasta. I used a roasted garlic sauce I bought at the health food store and added a can of vegan redi-burger and a block of vegan gourmet cheese. Then I tossed it with a few pounds of buttered rotini. The pasta I make always seems to get better with age, so I always make enough for a small army. I will also freeze it in individual portions, for those night when I do not want to cook (have no time or too exhausted). Cage is a pasta maniac! He ate more than I did. It was so funny, he was red-orange from the sauce head to toe. His hair was stained. It was so cute.

Cage loves vegan gourmet cheeses! I cube them, Jake and he will eat an entire block at one setting. They are a great snack (the mozzarella style goes great with grapes and apples) and I feel good about letting them eat it. Snacking is a must around here. Two boys going through growth spurts at the same time is like needing to own your own grocery store. Graham crackers, carrots, apples, pineapple, strawberries, celery, spinach leaves, broccoli, avocado, bananas, pretty much anything from the produce section. I roasted Vidalia onions on the grill the other night to cook with and Cage and Jake attacked them. I had nothing left to use the next day, lol. Corn on the cob is a huge favorite, raw or cooked. Cage loves it, loves to bite it and gets so proud when he eats it. He can eat a cob and a half!

I have been making vegan French toast. I use tofu, powdered soymilk, vanilla, and water for the coating. Toasted or stale bread makes a very nice texture. I also put a little twist on it. I take three heaping spoonfuls of tofutti better than sour cream, half a container of Tofutti better than cream cheese (softened), and a dusting of powdered sugar and beat it ill it is well mixed. I slice strawberries, add a little sugar to make them juice, and put that combo in between layers of the vegan French toast. Top with real maple syrup. All I can say is WOW. We eat it all the time! See what a little creative boredom in the kitchen can do J

We also eat a ton of Banana Avocado pudding. It is quick and so easy. One ripe avocado, one ripe banana, a blender and you are done. Its raw and the texture is to die for!

Ohhh….I made peanut butter cookie cups. Take your recipe for peanut butter cookies (as long as the dough is thick) and prepare as directed. Then mold them into muffin cups in a muffin pan. Cook for however long the recipe says. Two min before they are done I put a few vegan chocolate chips in the bottom and put them back in the oven. When they come out I tae a spoon and gently spread the chips up the sides of the cookie cup and at the same time there is a nice layer of melted chocolate in the bottom (makes the cookies not poof out so much). After they cool completely I fill them with chocolate frosting or chocolate (soy) ice cream. If your frosting is not thick enough slowly beat in some flour a pinch at a time. You can do this with any cookie and it is so good. Screw Chicken noodle soup, this beats it in the comfort food group any day.

I have been opting for quicker meals lately, or meals that I can make a ton of and freeze for easy meals later. I just have not adjusted to a walking baby and a hyper 5 year old yet. We do lots of things like tacos (fantastic foods taco mix is so fast, easy, and good), fajitas (with lightlife chik strips), stir fry (lots of tofu), veggie burgers (my all time favorite is the sunshine burger, but we also use the vegan redi-burger from a can), hot dogs (lightlife vegan jumbo dogs), tofurkey sausages, sandwiches (have to admit, since I discovered veganaise the sandwich world has changed for me, for the better. I can’t seem to get enough of it!), open faced sandwiches (tofurkey slices, tofurkey or home made gravy, mashed potatoes, bread), and these types of things. Luckily everyone is happy with the menu. We always have veggies and fruit in abundance and soymilk (Eden extra original organic).

Speaking of soymilk if you make your own would you drop me a line? I am very interested in purchasing a soy milk machine, and have read all the reviews and guides. For me, it always works out for the best if I can hear directly from the people that use the machines themselves. I am weird like that I guess J

Until next time….

Sunday May 28, 2006

Well, the past month has been a rush! It seems no matter how hard I try someone has been up all night every night. Jake had a very nasty ear infection. Cage is getting more teeth in, which means fever, diarrhea, and a general grumpiness. There have been tons of strong thunderstorms, and tons of comforting to go with them. Jake is afraid of them as are the dogs. Roughly translated: everyone get under my covers and shake (almost like a vibrating bed, lol).

I have sat down and written this so many times. Every time we either lost power due to the weather or I proofed it in the morning and made no sense. Not that I really ever make sense, according to most that know me J

It was so cold here for this time of year. Temps in the 40’s and lower when they should have been in the 70’s. Then, all of a sudden, 85 degrees and HUMID. I am very grateful for the rain, but the after effect is horrid. Here in Indiana the humidity gets out of control. I can remember walking outside and the humidity was like walking into a brick wall. I have very frizzy hair and in the humidity you might as well call me Bozo. Well, make that a bad tempered clown….the rain brings many migraines for me.

We are potty training Cage. I bought him a little potty and he hates it. If you put him on it he screams, cries, shakes, etc. You can also take the little seat off and use the base as a stool. He is ok with that, but if he sees you open it he gets very upset. The little seat does go on to a regular toilet seat and he is alright with that. He wakes up every morning and goes potty in the toilet, right after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner, and if we see him grunt or push. He is doing really well. Jake was a snap to potty train, at 8 months old he was using the potty (except over night) and had total control by a year and a half. Cage is not catching on as fast, but he is doing very well. His favorite place in the house is the bathroom with the big bath tub, so that makes it easier. He gets so excited when he makes a ‘doodie’. He claps and chirps.

Jake’s school is having their end of the year festival this weekend. It is huge! Very similar to a county fair, but with one lovely exception…no live animals. No farm animals available for purchase, no rodeo, no pony rides, no live animals as prizes. I am very impressed. They are getting a huge letter of thanks from me and probably a big vegan goodie basket. Around here this is a huge step for the animals. People like to throw chickens and call it a flying contest. The 4-h rabbit club has a booth in front of their barn serving all rabbit dishes. You can win a hermit crab, iguana, fish, other little animal. The list goes on and on. Whenever I see a fair or festival go live animal free I go overboard, making an example out of them. They get free good press out of it and I get people interested in why it is cruel to have live animals at the fair.

Here is some *big news* Cage stopped nursing all on his own. He went down to once a day and then just didn’t want to nurse at all. I was/am devastated. He is very independent, and I think he wants his freedom. All my thoughts of nursing over a year are just that…thoughts. The Doctor says its no biggie, no one knows what his body needs like he does. I know he is healthy and happy but I can’t help being a little miffed about it. You’d think sense he quit nursing he would sleep all night, but I am not that lucky. He is up many times through the night. I change his diaper, comfort him, get him something to drink, etc. Nursing was so much easier! Less running around. Luckily, he cut down nursing gradually. No engorged breasts, no pain, no wet shirts. One good thing is I am comfortable not wearing a bra to sleep in. Every negative has a positive somewhere. Oh, and I went from a 42 F bra size to a 38 D. Let me debunk this rumor quickly: my breasts are not hanging to my knees, they are not flat and ugly, my nipples are the same as they ever were, etc. Nursing effects everyone differently, however please do not let what happens after the fact deter you from ever trying it. There is nothing wrong with my chest that I can’t blame on going braless in my late teens/early twenties. I would send a picture but Chris will not let me ;)

Cage is eating like a horse! His favorites right now include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, spaghetti with veggies and sauce, dehydrated veggies, broccoli (raw or lightly cooked), tofurkey sandwiches, raw carrot shreds, pancakes with lightlife vegan sausage, Vegan Gourmet cheese in mozzarella and Monterey jack style (if you have not had this brand try it. It is the best vegan cheese I have had and it is very versatile. It melts smooth, is a great soup base, is wonderful on vegan pizza, and excellent right out of the package.), avocados, and oranges. Cage seems almost primal when oranges are involved. He gets a mouthful and shakes his head back and forth, tearing the fruit from the rind. Separating him from an orange is a fate worse than death, and if it has to be done he holds a grudge for a long while.

Right now we are going through our freezer and cupboards using everything we have. We do this every so often, at Chris’s wish. I have to get really creative in my cooking. We had leftover tofurkey diced with potatoes and sweet onions today for lunch. It was bland, but very good. I have made dumplings and stew several times, out of leftover this and that. Stew and dumplings is always a hit. I make the stew base creamy by adding tofutti sour supreme. I have made loads of pasta. Pasta salad, baked pasta, lasagna, pasta and sauce, fried pasta patties, etc. Pizza, tofu scrambles, Tofurkey, Gardenburger vegan ribs (I bought 20 boxes when they were on sale, they make great sandwiches), bean sprouts (all my dried beans lol), casseroles, peanut butter and jelly, you name it I made it. The good thing about cleaning out the cupboards is when everything is gone I get to go get all new food staples.

We always buy ‘hot dogs’ and veggie burgers. I was reluctant, but I bought some vegan burgers in a can. They were on sale at the health food store and since we had never had them before I figured it was worth a try. I am so glad I did. They were wonderful! Redi-burger is the name I believe, I will be able to say for sure when I get back from the health food store. It was so easy to make, slice, fry, serve. The taste was great! Jake begged me to make extra so he could take one in his lunch the next day. Then after they were all gone he begged me to go get more. They were that good. Cage can eat a half a veggie burger, bun and all.

I did find Hormel Veggie chili again. I have been looking and looking. The first thing I did was make chili-cheese vegan dogs. OMG are they good. In the past month we have had them once a week. I do my chili-cheese v dogs different than most. I boil the ‘big franks’ and heat the chili on the stove. On plates I open the hot dog roll (I like hot dog rolls better than buns) and put slices of vegan gourmet cheese to cover the inside of the bun. Then I take the hot ‘big frank’ and slice it long-wise down the middle, putting a half on each side of the roll. Any condiments go on now (ketchup, mustard, whatever). Then I take the hot vegan chili and ladle it over the whole roll, so you see nothing but a heap of chili. Then onions on top. Voila! One plate of this feeds at least two people, but if everyone gets a plate then the leftovers are fantastic.

Another quick thing I do I chips and dip. I take tofutti better than cream cheese and spread it on the bottom of a deep plate. Then I take some fantastic foods (already prepared) taco mix and put that on top. Vegan gourmet cheese (I freeze it, then shred it. It is easier to shred when frozen.) blankets the taco mix. Microwaved for one minute at a time, until the whole thing bubbles. As soon as it is done I put a thick layer of tofutti sour supreme over the whole thing, then top with chopped tomatoes, green and red onions, black olives, and sometime shredded lettuce (if it is just Chris and I eating I like to add hot peppers). Chips or crackers scoop this up and it is wonderful.

I will say that I am opting for easy vegan meals now. When I get to restock my cupboards the majority of it will be quick and easy foods. I love to cook long elaborate meals, but with 11 kids (two human, 6 canine, 3 feline) underfoot I do not always have the time. Chris’s work schedule was changed for the third time in a month (when you are the low dog on the totem pole they can put you where ever they need you) and I am going to have a lot more time without him. Time without him equals quick and easy. If the rain stays gone I expect I will be cooking on the grill a lot. Tofurkey sweet Italian sausages with tomato and basil are a big hit always. I put them in foil with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers (not green bell peppers, for some reason I do not care for them), and margarine. Wrap it up tight and throw it on the grill. So tasty! The Gardenburger vegan ribs are awesome on the grill too. Grilling is great because everyone can play outdoors while I cook.

We have been doing a lot of activism lately. On the 20th was the Proctor and Gamble day of action, so we went to stores and stickered all of the P&G products we could find. We also put literature everywhere and in every hand that would take it. I really like using stickers. It is inside (for those nasty weather days) and gives consumers something to think about. After all, consumers are the key to bringing down big businesses. We write hundreds of letters (half are envelopes we make, good for people that work in offices that have to go through a mail room) and have a production line for making things. Jake is a great cutter and paster, however I do not let him do the explicit things. Jake is wonderful about approaching people and asking why they support cruelty. Cage hands out leaflets (ok, some of them get chewed on, drooled on, and crumpled). We write letters to newspapers, magazines, anyone and everyone who will listen. Jake has converted some of his friends to soymilk ( I love that!), and I will cook vegan for anyone that will try it. I have tried to get booths at local goings on, but for some reason I can’t seem to connect with the people. Around here people take their meat and milk very seriously. We wanted to get a booth at the local fair tabling for all animals causes, but we were unable to figure out a safe way to do it. So we will leaflet instead. The parking lot is a great way to get through to people, even if it is sticking flyers under their windshields. True, some people will just toss the flyers but I can usually reach a good sized group of people this way. One person reached tells me I am doing my job, anything over that is a bonus. I get large bonuses along with a little backlash. I don’t mind the backlash, I can always get new angles from it. We also do direct leafleting, giving directly to the people. We walk around and look for the most popular spot , get the leaflets ready and hand them out. A big gathering is not the only excuse to leaflet. I carry them in my car at all times. Bored? Go leaflet.

Well I am going to go try to get some sleep. I started this at 2am and now it is 5am. Cage is up off and on with teething pain, poor guy. I give him homeopathic teething medicine and gripe water. Both take care of the fever and help the pain, but there is nothing to help the diarrhea. The Doctor said to just let it run its course. As soon as the tooth pokes through the diarrhea stops, but in the mean time neither of us gets much sleep. The only thing I really hope for is that this entry makes sense and my spelling is not too off.