Monday, June 28, 2010

More about the pediatrician, or at least more about answers

In thinking about it more -- in the case of feverish children, pediatricians certainly do have appeal, but for me right now, they reflect my hunger for answers.

(Aside: just last week I found out my doctor screwed up Silas's immunization record and gave him an unnecessary shot -- !!!!!! -- I was (am) livid. Big flaw).

I guess the thing about parenting -- both the most terrifying and utterly cozy thing -- is that we do it alone. Even when we have amazing friends, family, support, within the walls of our house, when we look our child in the eye, no one sees us. No one hears us. We are on our own.

The past two weeks, with jet lag, fatigue, adjustment between DC and here, I've found myself a little lost on my own and in want of answers. Clear lines drawn for how to parent well. Silas is four and throws major tantrums. How to respond (at all) constructively? Eden screams and kicks and flails when Ben tries to change her diaper and only wants me. How to counter her rejecting? Question after question...

And perhaps the answer is there is no answer. We often hear that we're terrorized by all the information at our fingertips, that too much of a good thing is, indeed, bad. Are we becoming more enlightened as we learn or more obsessive? Probably a bit of both. Either way, it sure is easy to lose touch with our guts and own quiet wisdom and let impatience rule. Especially when we're tired. Which I am. And this week, even as we've embraced summer at the museum, pancake house, zoo, swimming pool, easel, and kitchen table, I've been struck by how quickly I can lose sight of Silas and Eden, themselves -- their needs, humor, and delights-- and see only the busyness and duties that come with them.

I realize it again and again, how brief this time is when they saturate us -- our minds, muscles, hours, and energy. As I sit here stuck in this rut, maybe rather than hunting for answers, I should start trying to see the small people in front of me.

The Pediatrician

Eden had a sore throat last week, which meant we were up all night for a couple of nights, until -- alleluia -- I remembered benadryl existed. As I left the pediatrician's with a diagnosis of "a non-contagious virus that needs to run its course," I was struck by how quickly I want to fix sick.

It used to be that if a child was sick, she was sick. She stayed in bed. Soup arrived on a tray. She took lukewarm baths and held cool wash clothes on her forehead. She felt sick. Generally, when my kids are sick, I give them tylenol and usher them out the door. Or schlep them to the pediatrician for antibiotics. I like to say I use antibiotics sparingly, but in truth, we more often than not end up with them, and they always seem to work...

Today, Silas is complaining of a sore throat. (the non-contagious sore throat??? that we just invited friends over to play with???) My impulse, immediately, is to take him to the doctor. In fact I already called and scheduled an appointment. Watching myself, I am amazed by how hesitant I am to sit with the sick, even a viral sore throat that I *know* will run its course because Eden's just did. But the questions: what if it was strep? What if Eden's sore throat disappeared only to lodge in her ear as an underground infection? What if --

I think as well as not wanting a sleepless, whiny, sad sick child (and tired parent), I may also have an addiction to the pediatrician, which, after thinking about it, is rooted in answers. In parenting, I constantly swim through uncertainty -- have I damaged him forever because ___? Was ____the right way to respond to tantrum #6 of the morning? Should I let her decide ____? How can I be more patient??? So settling in next to a pediatrician who can peek into the depths, even the physical ones, of my children and give me a definitive answer feels like a gift. And a relief. A quick bright flash in the dark as I feel my way along.


Last night I made a watermelon mojito, which I thought was going to be the best recipe of the summer. But it wasn't (though it was all right).

Today I made this sandwich from Food Network Magazine (cover recipe, May 2010 issue), and it turned out to be the best sandwich I have ever made. I used sharp cheddar instead of Taleggio.


Ham-Taleggio Grilled Cheese from Food Network Magazine

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 thin slices white bread
  • 10 ounces taleggio cheese, rind removed, sliced
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced ham
  • 1 green apple, thinly sliced


Melt 1 tablespoon butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. (For a shortcut, use onion marmalade in place of the caramelized onions.)

Lay out 4 slices of bread. Top with half the cheese, then half the ham. Layer the caramelized onions, apple slices and the remaining ham and cheese on top, then the remaining bread slices.

Wipe out the skillet; melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat. Add 2 sandwiches and cook, pressing gently with a spatula, until the bottom is golden and the cheese begins to melt, about 4 minutes.

Flip and cook until golden, about 4 more minutes. Repeat with the remaining butter and sandwiches.

Friday, June 25, 2010

further evils

After finally getting our four boxes of cereal squared away (I did find one single box of regular rice krispies with a code inside), and entering the lightly printed codes from the inside of the boxes we still want to use, and, to Silas's delight, qualifying for the Hamm Piggy Bank, we found out that we can expect to see said bank in NINETY DAYS. Heavens.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Evils of Cereal

In our house, cereal is a perfect food. We eat cereal for breakfast, snack, dessert, even dinner some days.

Recently, Silas discovered that occasionally, boxes have a hidden prize (which has made the grocery store a war zone a few times). Right now, Kelloggs boxes have a Toy Story code inside of them -- a certain number of codes equals a prize: concession dollars, an alien light, a movie ticket etc. We are shooting for four codes -- the piggy bank.

We went to the grocery store yesterday, and who KNEW that only the sugary junky cereals have prizes!!! Not rice krispies, just chocolate or strawberry kirspies, not corn flakes, only frosted flakes -- COME ON. So we still only have two boxes. But June 30th is closing in fast and I did set a goal...


Last summer a friend gave me a pie recipe that called for mixing the crust dough right in the pie plate. It could not be easier and is delicious.

Blueberry Pie (or Early Summer Pie):
crust:In a 9" pie plate combine and mix
1 1/2 c flour
2 T sugar
1 t salt

in a separate bowl mix
1/2 c canola oil
2 T milk

Pour liquid over flour mixture in pie plate
Mix with fork
Pat out and shape in pie pan
Prick with fork
Bake at 400 until lightly golden (10-12 min)

filling:2 c crushed strawberries
1 1/4 c sugar (can use less if berries are v. sweet)
3 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt

Mix all in a pot
Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes
cook until clear-ish

Here comes the part you can adjust however you'd like:

*for early summer pie -
peel and cut apricots into hot strawberry mixture and let cool together
fill baked crust with a pint of fresh blueberries (tart ones work well) or blackberries
pour the cooked strawberry filling on top

*for a strawberry pie-
cut the tops off a pint of strawberries and arrange fresh berries at the bottom of pie shell, pour cooked filling over

Or for just blueberry pie,
I mixed
2 T cornstarch
1/4-1/2 c sugar (depending on sweetness of berries)
1/2 c water
1/4 t salt
1t lemon juice
2 c berries

Boiled 5 min, then folded in 2 more c raw berries
You get the idea -- you can use really any fruit -- peaches, other berries.
The idea is to mix the very sweet cooked filling with the fresh.

I read about a tomato galette not long ago and have been craving one ever since. For this pie, I also made a crust right in the plate (mixed the dough, let it sit for 10 minutes in a ball, then formed the crust) but used an olive-oil based, more savory dough. It was delish. I bet you could also chill and roll the dough out to make a rustic tart on a baking sheet, folding the edges of the dough up around the filling.
Tomato Galette adapted from Vegetarian TimesCrust (I halved this recipe for my 2 little tarts):
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup canola oil (I used olive oil instead, which was perfect with the tomatoes)
3 Tbs. cold water

Mix salt and flour in pie plate; make a well in center and pour in oil and water. Mix with fork -- mix as little as possible, just enough to bring dough together. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Press into pie plate.

Seed and half tomatoes and fill crust, then add what sounds good.
For one tart I mixed the tomatoes with basil, Parmesan, and salt, and
for the other I diced rosemary and garlic and sprinkled it over the tomatoes.

Ricotta, feta, caramelized onions, olives -- would all be delicious, too.Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake 15 more minutes.
(My cooking time was less because my tarts were the size of my hand -- adjust accordingly).
Cool 10 minutes and serve.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In the kitchen

I haven't cooked for weeks. Or maybe months. I've looked at summer fruits and vegetables and felt utterly uninspired. I haven't been interested in Saturday trips to the farmers' market. I've started to wonder if something in me broke or became disconnected, at least I was mildly wondering until I walked into the kitchen today and wanted to make a blueberry pie. And then wanted to make tomato galettes in tiny pie plates. Before the afternoon was over, I'd made brussel sprouts, corn on the cob, a roast chicken, a tomato galette with basil, a tomato galette with rosemary and garlic, granola and a blueberry pie.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Today is our first day of summer.

Last night I fell asleep before 8:00.
And this morning everything feels just a little bit off.

I am sitting at the table drinking tea with honey and lemon. Silas and Eden are watching Sesame Street (which Eden just called Cookame Street). The sky is overcast and the morning looks cool outside.

Last week, in a bust of energy, I made a curriculum for our whole summer. Each week is themed and involves trips to the library, field trips to LA museums, outings around town, various art projects, and journals for each of them.

This morning the plan looks awfully ambitious.
Today starts Music week.

Sesame Street has ended and the kids are hovering at my elbows, trying to push the computer keys and climb into my lap. The day calls -- it's time to decorate the covers of their journals. Wish me luck...

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Problem

The problem with children is that someone has to take care of them.

Since I've been home from DC, this task has felt a bit relentless, I'm sure partly because of the transition from being surrounded by family to being alone.

There is the constant picking up.
The constant organizing, sifting through, and cleaning out toys.
The constant washing of hands.
The constant making of food.
And, of course, the constant demand for time and attention. Constant.

I usually have 5 or 6 hours with a babysitter each week. Which is great, but isn't much. I have a laundry list of things I feel pressed to do -- submit to journals and contests, research presses, revise and write poems, read -- and so many things I'd like to do -- sit on the sand, go for walks, write in my journal, pray without distraction, talk to a friend without also answering 50 quickly-fired questions simultaneously etc.

But the problem is that someone has to take care of kids. And when I imagine doing life a different way -- teaching or writing full time, or living a life of leisure :) -- and having someone ELSE take care of my kids, that feels no better.

And so I am working to back off the urgency to have time and space to myself, and am praying for perspective about how brief this time is, these days when Eden calls me "the other Tink-uh-bell" and asks me to hold her as we fly together to "Nev-uh-wand."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Comic Relief

In the midst of the last weeks' sadness, fortunately, there were children:

"Chicken feet" at the hospital while visiting Ben's mom:

BB's lipstick:
A rain walk (Silas in blue):

Ship Bottom, New Jersey with cousins:

Silas covered in ballpoint pen tattoos, moustache, and sideburns
Eden's birthday (this, I think, is the 7th or 8th picture -- in all of the pictures before this one, she's looking past the bunny, her eyes fixed on the chocolate cupcakes).
Running on the trampoline eating a stick of chalk...
the boy cousins

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

a poem by Lucille Clifton

blessing the boats

(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The past week and a half.

Sometimes other people can articulate moments in our lives better than we can, ourselves. That happened to me on Friday -- my daughter's and sister's birthday, the day before Zephyr's memorial service. My friend Emily wrote the following.

I hate to quote a movie at a time like this; however, in Lars and the Real Girl he is sitting with the church people kind of confused about his sadness and while at the same time, there is going to be a baby born, and they say to him something along the lines of, "That's life Lars. Everything all at once."

That is much of what I thought about today with you celebrating Eden with her heart sandwiches and bunny cake; as you watch Cindy's changed body so frail and weak; as you sit staring at the white peonies on the table for the service tomorrow that mean something so different than their full and soft petals might mean on another day; as you're anticipating an insanely quick trip to the Jersey shore; all at your 10 year anniversary in the midst of all that has been unearthed through that milestone.

Yes, this is life: everything all at once.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Deep Sadness

My brother Max and sister-in-law Sara were supposed to give birth to their third child, Zephyr Max Moyer, this morning at 8 AM. But four days ago, they found out his heart had stopped beating because of a knot in the umbilical cord. Such shock and devastation -- that sacred baby and the journey his parents have begun.

The kids and I are in DC (Ben comes tomorrow) with nearly my whole family. What an anchor the sweetness of being together right now is. On Saturday morning, I stood in the kitchen scooping coffee into my parents' coffee maker. My dad was still upstairs sleeping (he picked us up at 1AM), my mom was at Max and Sara's, and the kids sat at the table. I was struck: I have come with my own children to stand near my grown siblings and weep for a child lost. A baby is gone who will mark us and change Max and Sara forever. This familiar house hasn't held us like this before.

We covet your prayers, especially for Max and Sara.