Sushi Party!

Yesterday was my birthday, and we had a family sushi party.  We made maki-sushi (rolled sushi with nori, or seaweed), and spring rolls (sushi that’s rolled with spring roll wrappers, which are made from rice, as opposed to seaweed).  I got the spring roll wraps because I was worried The Wizard wouldn’t like nori, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  In fact, he kept a piece of nori that he just ripped pieces off of to munch on, and The Squid loved it as well.  I’m so lucky with my gorgeous kids who love chlorophil!

I was amazed by how easy it was.  The Wizard had a blast, and it was so QUICK.  That’s the best part.  You can eat each roll as soon as it’s ready, and the longest part is the prep work, and as most of the vegetables can be grated, how long does that really take?  You can keep things prepped and in the fridge, even put together in a little “sushi kit” of rice, grated veggies, and desirable seafoods (I’m personally anxious about feeding raw fish to my kids, so we used shrimp and imitation crab).

It’s fun, fast and easy, and it’s something the whole family can do together, collectively.  For the littlest family members, who may choke on an assembled roll, everything is already in pieces, ready to enjoy.

So, I didn’t manage to get any pictures last night, but here’s basically how to assemble a spring roll, which is what I had for lunch today.

okay, so here’s my spring-roll station, all set to go.  fried tofu, spinach, grated carrots and cucumber, and the spring roll wrap.  I also added some crumbled gorgonzola that’s not in the picture but made them awesome.  the bowl of water is for softening the wrap.

1: put the spring roll wrap in warm water just until it’s pliable and you can work with it.  don’t leave it in there too long, or it gets floppy and then it’s a pain in the ass.  careful to lay it flat, or else it sticks to itself.

2: arrange your filling on your wrapper.  think of a soft taco, with everything more or less in the center.

3: fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling, as snug as you can to make for easy rolling.

 

4: fold up the ends so nothing falls out while you’re rolling.  just like swaddlin’ a baby.

 

5:  roll it on up!  the snugger the better, but don’t worry if your kids roll ’em loose.  they’re still definitely edible, and still definitely tasty.  just somewhat messier.  you might have to get this started for little kids, but rolling is totally the fun part.  and VOILA!  there’s your springroll.

The awesome thing (other than pure easiness) is you can individualize these so much for each family member.  you can make them with rice, noodles or just straight up veggies.  they can be vegetarian, vegan or omnivore.

a note on tofu:  if you want to replicate my spring roll, make sure to get extra firm tofu, and I fry mine with a little olive oil, rice vinegar, pepper and garlic powder.  make sure to drain it when you’re done.  spring rolls should only be greasy if they’re deep-fried.

Just to add some cuteness to this post, here’s The Squid, signing “eat”, ready to dig in to her tofu and grated veggies.

-Domestic Anarchist

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Walking with Children

now that the weather is beginning to warm up a bit, we’ve started making a regular habit of walking with the kids.  The Squid and I often go for walks during the day, with her either in her sling or mei tai, either napping or observing.  she loves being outside.

The Wizard, on the other hand, is becoming less interested in just walking for the sake of walking, and now for him it’s all about exploring and challenging himself.  any hills or bolders we encounter he must conquer before we can move on.  and he always looks for the most complicated way to do so.

this is doing more than just getting out of the house and getting exercise.  as humans in our culture, we’ve become so accustomed to being in houses, places we seldom leave except for set activities, such as shopping or soccer games, and then we travel in a car.  we’re disconnected from the reality of the world.  we don’t think of it as a huge interconnected organism, we think of it as a number of places, conveniently attached together by roads.

getting out in the wild, exploring the world around us, gives children a sense of not just the earth, but themselves and their place in it.  that place should be a connected, living space.  a space where they’re aware that while we’re part of a much bigger picture, we contribute to it.  we’re part of it.  finding frogs and climbing trees and splashing our way through rivers and creeks, picking up contributions from beavers, we find ourselves reconnecting to the truth of what we are and what’s around us.  in lands that have no ownership, we have the same right to be there as every bird, deer or bug that crosses our path.  we are all equal and we all belong.  our heads lift, our breath becomes deeper.  when at last our bodies begin to tire and we push through, we learn of our own strength, the hidden strength within us and the power we can draw from the universe around us.

Cloth Diaper Revolution!

The Squid sportin' a Flip cover and Econobum prefold.

The Squid sportin' a Flip cover and Econobum prefold.

last thursday, I got my May/June issue of Mothering.  as always, it had some awesome articles, and really great encouragement for alternative parenting.  but what I was most excited about was the article about cloth diapering.  now, we’ve been toeing around with cloth diapering since before The Squid was born.  the first couple months of her life, we weren’t able to do much, as we had just moved and didn’t yet have a washer and dryer.  once we did, we started switching back and forth from the few fitted cloth diapers we had, and a few Gdiapers, which we’d gotten at our baby shower, as well as the occasional disposable.

now, it’s been primarily, “well, we still have Gdiapers left…” and “oh, we can’t really afford to get a bunch of cloth diapers right now…” but after reading the Mothering article, which made a few points about Gdiapers that I hadn’t known about (A. they still contain SAPs, which are toxic, petroleum based, and one of my issues with disposables in the first place, and B. while they claim “compostable” they shouldn’t be used on vegetable beds, due to the SAPs, which never completely break down.  however, they are making cloth inserts now, good for them, check ’em out at www.gdiaper.com), so, I ran to the compost bucket, pulled out the inserts, which were by then covered in coffee grounds and veggie scraps, and threw them in the trash.  then I sat down and had a talk with The Husband, about our diapering options.  which went fairly well, til I mentioned ‘carcinogens’ which he’s been teasing me about since the first few months we were together, when I spoke of them so frequently.  every time he asked me “why don’t you use…” the answer was usually “carcinogens!”, now he breaks into song, listing off various things and following them with “carcinogens!”, as in: “deoderant, carcinogens!  sunscreen, carcinogens!  diapers, carcinogens!  william shatner, carcinogens!”

eventually, though, we agreed it was time to switch over, and I went to do some research and try to track down some semi-affordable cloth diapers online.  all we’d encountered up til that point was fitted cloth diapers, which are wicked expensive, and the random store-bought prefolds pinned together and covered with plastic pants, which wasn’t really the route we wanted to go either.  so, during my internet search, I discovered a diaper store in Olympia!  Simple Cloth.

my friend Danielle had mentioned it to me before, but we had no money to spare at the time, and so I promptly forgot.  this time, however, I was going to Olympia with my mom the following day, and so we stopped by.  we had a limited time frame, since the Wizard gets home from school at about 3:30, and we were at the store at about 2:20, and it’s more than a half-hour drive away.

Store Review: Simple Cloth gets 5 out of 5 for Badassedness!

in the short amount of time I had there, they were incredible.  the woman who helped me make my selections was thorough, friendly and demonstrated everything to make sure I would know exactly what I was doing.  also, now that I know they’re there, I’ll be in more frequently, because they offer, not just a huge selection of diapers, baby carriers and cool natural toys, but also nursing areas, changing areas and a play area, which are available for use whether or not you’re doing diaper shopping that day.  how cool are they?  they also have an online store, so even if you’re nowhere near Olympia, WA, you can experience their awesomeness for yourself!

Diaper Review: Econobum gets 4 out of 5 for badassedness!

and a huge vote of badassedness to Bumgenius, who started their new line of diapers, Econobum!  they’re prefolds and covers, made with the bare-minimums, not trying to be fancy or shmancy, with plain white adjustable covers and prefolds that fold two ways to guarantee they grow with your kid.  and, you can buy a diaper and cover together for just $10, or a box with a dozen diapers and 3 covers for $50.  I was a little nervous about going the prefold route, especially after she warned me that the Econobums, aren’t quite as easy to use as some of the others (most of the other covers have pockets on either side to hold the prefolds in, while the Econobum covers just have elastic), but I haven’t had any kind of issue with them, or with putting them together.  obviously they’re not as easy as the fitted diapers, but the covers fit just fine over the fitted diapers as well, which is great.  I did get two Flip diaper covers as well, which work with the Econobum prefolds and our fitted diapers, and they do have the flaps, so they’re a little easier to use, and still have the adjustable snaps.  …they’re also wicked cute.

all together, I got the Econobum pack, 2 Flip covers and a little hemp pad to go over the diaper at night to increase absorbancy.  which came out to almost $90.  it sounds like a lot, until you think about the fact that we could probably get by without having to buy diapers again.  (that’s a lot of laundry though, so I’m thinking I’ll probably get another Econobum pack when we have some extra money.)

now to commence the rant.  most kids go through about 6-7 diapers a day (roughly evened out.  more when teenie, less when a bit bigger), until they’re at least two and a half (The Wizard decided he was thoroughly potty-educated on his 3rd birthday, and never looked back).  so, that’s… 2,520 diapers a year, for 2-3 years, which is between 5,040 and 7,560 diapers.  holy shit.  so, disposable diapers are about 25 cents apiece.  that works out at… $630 a year?  and up to $1,890 before your kid is going to be using the toilet regularly.  (unless you opt for Elimination Communication, which sounds brilliant and I’m going to try to implement part-time.  upcoming blog, probably.  for now check out www.diaperfreebaby.com)  all of a sudden throwing down $100 for cloth diapers doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  a family with just one child in disposable diapers throws down over $50 a month anyway.

plus, not only are you paying money for these things, these toxic, plastic things that you’re strapping on to your childs most vulnerable places, each and every one of those 7,560 diapers ends up in a landfill.  a baby in disposable (what a stupid word.  we don’t “dispose” of anything.  we just bury this toxic SHIT in our already overloaded earth, and then try not to think about it.) diapers has an ENORMOUS carbon footprint.  diapers are petroleum based, made with 7 billion gallons of oil each year.

they’re a non-renewable resource, that we’re taking from the earth, and the closest anyone can figure to how long it’s going to take these things to actually break down is HUNDREDS of years.   the children who’re wearing these diapers aren’t going to last as long as they do.  why the HELL are we making a “disposable” product with a longer lifespan than it’s consumer?  just for the purpose of catching shit?!  god.  check out the video at www.gdiapers.com to see just how well disposable diapers break down.

we live in a disposable culture.  there is so much we throw away.  if we want to be revolutionaries, if we want to dream of a future, any future at all, we need to man up and stop throwing stuff away simply for our own convenience.  the biggest reasons that people give for not using cloth diapers are: “it’s gross.” and “it’s too much work.”

come on, people.  this is our kids we’re talking about, and our planet.  honestly, it’s NOT that big of a deal.  it’s not that gross and it’s not that much extra work.  diapers are small.  throwing them in with the laundry you’re already washing is not that terrible of a hassle.  what’s REALLY gross is letting our non-biodegradable shit-catchers pile up for hundreds of years.  once you throw a disposable diaper in the garbage, you can’t take it back again.

ever.

-Domestic Anarchist

morning ease? yes, please!

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed, minutes before 7, hauled my ass into the kitchen, started the coffee, started pre-heating a frying pan and grabbed my pre-mixed crepe batter out of the refrigerator.  in under 15 minutes, both The Husband and The Wizard were tucking in, the harsh edge of early-morning taken off by the tastiness of a simple breakfast.  and it took minutes!  minutes!

now, I am not a morning person.  to be perfectly honest, my usual modus operandi is to crawl my ass right back into bed once The Wizard and The Husband are off to school.  in my early gropings for coffee pots, I have ran into walls, and had all kinds of coffee making mishaps (IE: forgetting to put the filter in, forgetting to grind beans… I think the weirdest one was when I got confused after we’d been drinking instant coffee, and poured boiling water into the coffee pot), but getting a bowl of batter out of the fridge is just within the range of possibility for me.  and while I may have burned the butter (and smoked up my kitchen a bit) I did not burn a single crepe.  which is proof that this breakfast is idiot-proof.  therefor, I provide you with:

MY FOOL-PROOF GO-TO CREPE RECIPE!

(Makes about 8)

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

dash of cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1.  Wisk together your flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, then whisk in egg.  Next, whisk in milk, about 1/4th at a time (otherwise it ends up lumpy, but the problem usually resolves itself overnight anyhow.), lastly, whisk in vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Then simply cover, and pop it in the fridge overnight.  (if you don’t want to do it the night before, because you’re one of those dreaded “morning people” or it’s the weekend… or you’re one of those homeschoolers that I’m increasingly more jealous of, you only have to refrigerate it for 30 minutes, but it seems to work a bit better if it’s overnight.)

2. next step- good morning!  get your coffee (or tea, whichever is your caffeinated weapon of choice) started, and then get out your batter.  Whisk 1/4 to 1/2 cup water into batter until it is a bit thinner than pancake batter (you’ll learn to eyeball this pretty quick).  grease a nonstick skillet (I only have one non-stick pan, and it’s reserved specifically for crepes and eggs.  it’s my breakfast pan!), and heat over medium-high heat.

3. pour 1/4 cup batter into your skillet, and then tilt the pan, sort of swirling the batter around the bottom til it coats your pan nice and thin.  cook a couple minutes, til the center no longer looks wet and the edges get slightly brown.  flip, and cook about 30 seconds more.

4.  slather them with whatever filling you choose, fold into quarters, and call ’em fancy!  (we usually opt for peanut butter or almond butter, to make for early-morning protein to prevent the mid-morning stupids).

5.  if you’re one of those returning-to-bed k1inda kids, your leftover batter can be re-chilled, but you’re going to use considerably less water, or else your batter will just run all over the pan and… yeah, it doesn’t work.

I have an odd feeling I’ve blogged this recipe in the past… oh well, it’s one of my favorites, one of the only things I actually use a recipe for, and cut me a break, folks, it’s morning!

and this isn’t going to be one of those back-to-bed mornings, as The Squid woke up right before The Wizard headed out the door, which meant that we got to sit and scarf crepes together (mine slathered with peanut butter and jelly, hers plain), and had an enjoyable breakfast giggling at eachother in early-morning stupidity, me grinning at her over my coffee, her grinning back over her diluted apple juice.  and NOW that I am two cups of coffee in, NOW she decides to go back to sleep.

gasp!  free time?!  how novel!  how bizarre!  what to do with it?  shall I wash the breakfast dishes?  shall I mop the floor which cries out desperately for it?  or shall I google bento boxes?

BENTOS WIN!

Obentos are my new obsession.  I need to get a bento box that’ll fit in The Wizards lunchbox (I know it’s redundant, but it’s a Super Mario Bros. lunchbox from ’83, and there’s no way he’d replace it with anything!), so I can start turning some out.  I love anything where I can combine creativity and housewifery, and what’s more “mom” than packing cute lunches?

my favorite Bento Blogs:

www.bentoanarchy.com/ Bento Anarchy (okay, yes, I originally looked at it due to the anarchy reference) is fabulous, because she’s a bento-ing mom with a toddler, and she’s a vegetarian.  I don’t necessarily agree with all of her food choices, but damn, are her kidster boxes adorable.

http://bentozen.wordpress.com/ you haven’t seen a cool bento til you scroll down and check out “Robot Love Bento”.  Her robots are blue potatoes, ham and carrots.  also veggie.  badass.  The Wizard would shit himself with joy.

http://lunchbucketbento.blogspot.com/ these are grown-up bentos.  not as cute, but no less well put-together, brilliant use of leftovers.  makes me want to start making school lunches for The Husband as well.  (he has a lunchbox too.  it’s Tranformers.  ’84.)

well, I guess I should get the breakfast dishes washed.  good morning!

-Domestic Anarchist

Farewell, Spring Break! OR, Helping Kids Build Emotional Tool Boxes

So, spring break is over.  …The first two days, really, I thought I was going to be relieved when it was over.  I had never heard the words “I’m bored” repeated so much in my life.

Now, I can’t believe it’s over, and I’m… honestly sad about it.  In comparison to having him home for the past week (which has flown by!) sending him back to school is depressing.

My favorite part of this week has been the mornings.  On the days The Husband had school, The Wizard climbed into bed with me and The Squid, and we watched movies, (though The Squid woke up part way through the movie each time, and I don’t think we saw the end of any of those movies, because each time we ended up we end up giggling and playing and distracted by super-cute baby attacks.

It made me dream of maybe a future where we could homeschool.  With our current custody situation, it’d be impossible, but still, it’s a fantasy.  In six years, The Squid will be six, the age when we’re going to have to start making the public school/homeschool/unschool decisions, and arguments.  (As The Husband apparently is of the opinion that homeschooling makes kids poorly socialized weirdos with no self control… which is awesome, since I was homeschooled.)   And The Wizard will be 12, the age when he gets to make his own decisions as far as custody goes.  so, we’ll see.

Our last day of spring break was awesome.  We packed a picnic lunch, and hiked down to the railroad tracks in the back woods.  While The Wizard ate his sandwich and The Squid attempted to eat rocks, I read from Prince Caspian (one of my best friends gave us the boxed set for The Chronicles of Narnia, and we’ve been working our way through them.  we’re now on to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.), and we watched for faeries.  When we got home The Husband joined us and we took The Wizards recently de-training wheeled bike out and he practiced until he started getting frustrated.  Then he went and played with The Princess for a while, and then, towards the evening, and the rapidly encroaching return to school, he began emotionally disolving.

We wrote up a list of “How To Feel Better”.

“1. Breathe Deeply.

2. Squeeze – Relax.

3. Think Happy.

4. Blow Bad Away.

5. Stretch.”

We stickered it and hung it on his wall, and he’s apparently been referring to it, because we haven’t had any major emotional crises this past week.  …which is amazing.  Maybe I should make one for myself.

Being there for our kids and supporting them emotionally is one of our most important jobs as parents.  However, if we are the EXTENT of their emotional support, we’re taking away their ability to learn how to handle their own emotions.  Not to mention, being another persons Emotional Coach becomes exhausting after a while.  Our real responsibility as parents is to teach our children how to function individually on their own.  By teaching our children what to do when they’re upset, we give them tools they’ll be able to use for the rest of their lives.

I’m looking for a toy tool box so The Wizard and I can work on building him a literal Emotional Tool Box.  the Emotional Tool Box is a technique that I learned when I partook in a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) group when my anxiety was getting seriously out of control a few years ago.  It’s a method of getting us in touch with what is called ‘One Mindfulness’ in DBT.  Getting us in touch with our senses, and back into our bodies, and focusing on something else, helps us get away from our emotional distress, and helps us accept the distressing event.  It uses the senses to reconnect us with the physical, and tool boxes often contain things that stimulate our senses in a calming way.  (For a kid: calming music, a picture book, lavender spray, play dough, and maybe something somewhat sweet to eat or drink, though that part you might want to keep in the kitchen as opposed to your kids room.  Sugar ants are the devil.)

Like the old addage, “Give a kid a fish or teach a kid to fish”, giving our kids the tools to deal with their own emotions is something that no one can ever take away from them.

-Domestic Anarchist

BLOG PARTY POST!

About the Party

You can learn all there is to know about the party to join the fun and over at 5 Minutes for Mom’s Ultimate Blog Party 2010 post . They’ll give all the details, buttons and banners. It’s a great way to meet new friends and check out new blogs. I hope you’ll participate!

Don’t forget to follow @5minutesformom and watch hashtag #ubp10 on Twitter

Hello Blog Party!  I’m The Domestic Anarchist and I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now.  I’m a stay-at-home mom and I have two children, The Wizard, who’ll be seven in June, and The Squid who just turned 7 months old.  We enjoy free thought, self-expression, family fun, healthy eating, good music, video games, art and crafts!  I like to think of parenting of a socio-political experiment, where we learn more every day about culture, humanity, our children and ourselves.

Today has been an amazing day, regardless of The Squid working on cutting her lateral incisors (apparently she’s trying to turn into a humbolt squid!).   The Wizard has spent most of the day outside with The Princess next door.  I helped them plant a secret garden, and we had an awesomely easy lunch of chips and guacamole, while we listened to Kimya Dawson.  All day I’ve been singing “A is for Apple, B is for Butt, C is for Cat-butt…” and while The Squid has napped and played, I’ve started knitting her a toy squid, and almost finished a scarf for The Wizards godmother, and somehow even fit in enough time to make a big pot of shitake mushroom soup for my mother, who is fighting breast cancer.  It’s amazing how some days are a such a struggle to get through, and others everything just falls right into place.  …Of course, it does come at a sacrifice.  I haven’t finished the dishes, and there’s a mountain of laundry on the couch.  And life goes on!  I think these easy days are partially luck, and partially me actually taking the time to breathe, relax, and accept that I can’t do everything every day, and as long as my kids are happy and healthy, living with logic and love, that’s what matters.   Whether or not I manage to fold their laundry isn’t going to make a difference in their day, so that’s one of the things I can just… let… go.

-Domestic Anarchist

The Husband and The Squid

Wizards and Heroes – an Analogy for Anarchy.

today has been an awesome day.  last night The Wizard had a friend (henceforth referred to as “The Hero”), over to spend the night.  it was a good evening, with video games, board games, building, battles and playing outside.  however, The Heroes parents have drastically different parenting methods from ours.  while we try to lean towards the “autonomous collective” household, theirs definitely follows the dictatorship model.

it’s easy to forget that the techniques I use with The Wizard (suggestions when possible, and discussion as to how his behavior is impacting the other members of the household, and letting his make his own decisions), will not work with The Hero.  with The Hero I have to get down at his level and state household rules and consequences very clearly.  if I suggest or discuss, he acknowledges, but then will repeat the exact same behavior, unless I draw that boundary.  he will hide things from me, and lie to me, and though he and The Wizard are good friends, they need a lot of mediation and interference when playing together.

now, this may sound like a deviation, but it’ll tie together.  his mom and I were good friends in highschool (has that really been a decade now?  good lord.), and we would frequently talk about anarchy.  I held anarchy as an ideal, and she thought of it as more of a negative, but inevitable occurence.  many debates ensued.

many people claim that anarchy is impossible due to “human nature”.  IE: without laws to control our behavior, we’d all destroy the world, steal each other blind, kill each other, overdose, and eventually the human race would cease to exist.

okay, so, our culture is a group of people used to being oppressed and suppressed, with laws to tell us what to do, and threats of the bad stuff that’ll happen to us if we break them.  most children are raised this way.  children who are raised this way don’t follow rules out of morality, understanding, or a decision to create a positive environment for all involved.  they do it out of fear, and break the rules when they know they can get away with it.   …which sounds a lot like many adults in the world.  most of the kids raised this way eventually get rebellious, and the attitude becomes, “I don’t care what you’ll do to me, I’ll do what I want.”  which sounds like many of the adults presently in prison.  it is not human nature that makes people this way, it’s their environment. 

see the parallel?  children live up to our expectations of them, and so do adults.  when we are told by Mother Culture we need laws and enforcement to “keep us in line.” , there is one of three reactions:

A. obey out of fear.

B. hide behavior and try to get away with it.

C. get angry and cease to care.

Now The Wizard is out playing with The Princess, a neighbor and good friend.  I don’t think her parents are anarchists, but she obviously has a lot more freedom in her life and choices than The Hero.  therefor, I can trust her, and at only 6 years old, she demonstrates an ability to be up front, self-controlled and a problem solver.  know how many times I’ve had to mediate their interactions?  only one.  …and that was not that either of them was upset, just I had to shut down the hose fight.  LOL.  which may have been more for my comfort than theirs…

-domestic anarchist