Monday, July 29, 2013

Breathing is Harder Then I Thought

Just Breathe.

That's what I tell my patients when they are going through a procedure or trying to process difficult information. I know it hurts, just breathe. I know it's a lot to take in, just breathe.

Oftentimes that rhythmic in and out is enough to slow their heart rate, calm their nerves and allow them space to handle just a little bit more. Because sometimes even when they are overwhelmed and obviously are at their breaking point, there is just a little bit more that has to be done and I am there to make sure they have the best chance. It's my hand they squeeze, my face they see, my ears they yell at, and my skills that need to be at their best in order to prevent unnecessary suffering. Whether it is a physical skill like placing an IV or an intellectual skill like explaining exactly what it means to be in left sided heart failure. It usually helps to breathe.

You might not have control over anything else, but you can control your breathing.

Your chest x-ray shows a left lower lobe consolidation. Your doctor is here to explain exactly what that means. Just breathe.

Your second set of cardiac enzymes came back positive. That means there was most likely cardiac muscle damage. Just breathe.

They need to place a central line in your neck and I am going to stay with you the whole time. Just hold my hand and breathe.

Just breathe.

I tell Knox and Pursy this when they are losing their little minds over the reality that they might not be able to ride the carousal one more time. I know it's hard and you REALLY wanted to ride the dolphin. We have to leave the zoo now. Just breathe.

When bath time ends way before Knox wanted it to and he is throwing his wet little body out of my arms as I carry him into his bedroom. Just breathe, buddy.

When Knox is having dessert in front of her because he ate all his dinner and she on the other hand refused to eat her tomatoes and rice. Pursy, I know it's hard but those are the consequences of not listening and you are out of chances. It's time for bed anyway, so when you are ready to stop screaming, just breathe and I will tell you that your animal crackers will still be there tomorrow. You can try again then.

Just breathe.

It is much easier to give this advice to other people. I haven't written much in the last few weeks because I have been busy just trying to breathe. It is harder then I thought.

Friday, July 19, 2013


My foodography includes seasons of vegan eating, convenience eating, ethnic eating, vegetarian eating, happily married eating, pregnant eating, Mama eating and now.... I just eat. Anything and everything that looks and smells delicious.

I have always loved eating food for its own sake and in its natural state. My Mom grew up in California and raised us on lots of whole foods. She cooked and baked too, but I remember meals of avocados, squash, artichokes, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage- just with a quick sautee' or steam and maybe some butter and salt. Grant still teases me that my ideal meal is often just a bunch of sides.

I think my Mom raised us that vegetables were not arm candy for the entrée. They weren't an afterthought or a filler- they were brilliant and should be left alone with their own goodness, with a little salt to bring out the flavor. Vegetarianism was an easy lifestyle for me and 13 years later, I still wasn't tired of veggie goodness. I wasn't that good at cooking other things however and didn't know much about experimenting with spices, heat or seasonal options.

Then, SWF vegetarian anthropologist meets SWM meat and potatoes economist and the food universe imploded into a black hole of food to consume while camping, traveling, moving, and drinking. Food as afterthought. Neither of us really liked to cook so we didn't really. We loved having dinner parties, but usually threw an assortment of things on the hibachi or tossed some sort of pasta with fresh vegetables. A few loaves of bread with olive oil, chips and salsa, crudité platter- a dinner for kings and queens. We met a guy who owned a wine store around the corner from our place in Denver- that was probably the first food-ish thing we did together. We sat around the wine shop in the evening and acted like we belonged there... worldly, experienced and would never drink any f***ing Merlot.

Our time in DC was different. We started making friends that had *kids* and actually stayed in and COOKED. I will never forget bowls of thick hot potato soup with no less than five ramekins of options for toppings at our first dinner with friends. Inbetween conversation about politics, music, and traveling our friends were blowing on plastic spoons before putting soup in the mouths of their hungry baby bird children. The babes weren't at a separate table, eating separate foods. They were noshing on bacon, sharp cheddar cheese and dark rye bread. That recipe for potato soup is still my go to recipe for feeding a crowd- it is my ultimate comfort food. And that idea of how to combine family and food was the beginning of something very important for me.

By the time we moved to State College, I had discovered that cooking was fun. I got subscriptions to Vegetarian Times, Food and Wine, and started scouring used bookstores for cook books. We decided to have "Soupy Saturdays" a fabulous idea that never materialized but in our heads was a full day with a farmers market trip for local ingredients, veggie prepping, hot stove stirring, amazing soup dinner that probably ended with sex on the kitchen floor. We never really had even one Saturday with no plans and I still have the thick green and blue stoneware soup bowls that I found at a kitchen store in Annapolis, never used. And every time I pack them up and move them to another home I remember the vision for our romantic soup dinners.

My pregnancy with Purslane was the end of my vegetarian season. I was so sick the first three months and by the time food was even something I could think about again I was willing to eat whatever would stay down. Also, the Bradley classes we were taking to prepare us for a natural birth encouraged as much protein intake as possible. I got many a stink eye/encouraging word from Carla about my measly protein numbers and decided to explore the world of meat to expand my food options.

I have never looked back. Meat is so good. Especially bacon.

Cooking has become a huge part of my life. Because I am late to the game, I am learning techniques and methods and philosophies about food that are blowing my mind. Did you know there was a magazine (and TV show!) called America's Test Kitchen where every recipe includes step by step instructions and explanations about how every flavor and sauce and coating and rub and temperature and mouth feel etc etc etc is CREATED??? In other words, it is a textbook for cooks like me. Who have a general idea of what they hope the end product will be, but are more prone to skip lengthy preparations and merge steps together assuming they know more than whoever wrote the recipe??

I also love having Pursy in the kitchen with me. The "why" phase she has solidly planted her three year old bottom in is actually super helpful when I am working through a new recipe.

Pursy, I don't know why we are supposed to spoon the bread flour into the measuring cup instead of scooping it like we do with the all-purpose flour. I just don't know why. But we will look it up on the ATK website and find out.

I plan to start a new regular post on my blog with recipes we are trying that week. For example, right now I am really into Asian noodle dishes. This week I am making a cold Soba noodle salad dish with cucumbers and ginger, another night will be vermicelli with carrots, bell pepper and chicken with a peanut sauce. Am stocking up on mangoes and plain yogurt for lots of ice cold lassis. If you follow me on Instagram and are already familiar with how much I love taking pictures of food, it is only going to get worse...

What are you cooking right now? Are you experienced, novice, curious, apathetic??

Sounds Like....

This morning as Grant was hunting around the house for his Kindle I told Pursy to go tell him that he was the worst looker in world history.

This might not be an exaggeration. If the object he is looking for does not actually jump into his hand and wave, it OBVIOUSLY fell out the car door while we were driving, worked its way out the hole in his jean pocket, was taken by house elves...whatever highly unlikely scenario makes far less sense then the fact he just can't find it.

Pursy yelled up the stairs "Daddy, you are the worst hooker in world mystery!"

Also would probably be true...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Road to Hana

Finally the good stuff. Jet lag is wearing off...Knox and Pursy are discovering birds on the back porch, a pool with a shallow end, ice cream every evening and lots of cousin love time.
On Tuesday we took the infamous Hana Highway, which both lived up to and exceeded its reputation. The 68 mile stretch contains 46 one lane bridges, 620 curves and runs through stunningly beautiful rainforest. We were in a 12 passenger van with a 20 month old eating machine, recently potty trained 3 year old, energetic 7 year old and bored 9 year old. And 6 adults who are all interested in doing/seeing different things. It was fabulous. Not simple or without tears, but the stuff that movies about family vacations are made of.

Pursy and Ba have a 5a breakfast. Notice the absence of daylight.
I have just returned from a morning run. Almost 6a...

This is where Grant wanted to spend his week.

The Pool

The Beach

Serious coloring face.

This is Knox in the morning. Takes after his Mama.

Aaand here's Pursy in the morning. Daddy's girl...

The babes take in a rainbow over the ocean.

Pursy and Knox kept feeding the birds. It was like a bird sanctuary on our porch by the last day of vacation.

Pursy helps Daddy with his back exercises.

Breakfast al fresco before hitting the road. In about 45 minutes I will be regretting every bite.

Always a little bit of flair.

Knox feeding himself and wiping the extra syrup on Aunt LeeAnn's shirt.

Pursy ignoring my encouragement to use the Portapotty before we get on the Hana Highway where there are no toilets for 68 miles.

Martsolf Ladies
Our first stop on the Hana Highway. Grant almost jumps out the window as we drive by.

Ribs and Fruit

Pork BBQ sandwich with mangoes over rice

Hungry travelers share the BBQ goodness.

Street Food. Or Side of the Road Food. Literally.

So proud of my adventurous eating babes.

Bird Sanctuary. Ducks a little close for comfort.

Pursy keeps talking about the "ducks with the red heads".

Lots of flora pictures ahead... the plants and flowers were just stunning.

So were the birds

Brady and Aly (my nephew and niece) making friends with the peacock.

Pursy is the only one that knows we are posing in front of a muddy puddle. Lame.

Martsolf Boys.

"Wookit this cool stick!"

One of many failed attempts at a selfie...

Small boy. Big tree.

Loved these rainbow eucalyptus trees.

Where there is beautiful nature you will find St Francis.

More little/big

My little blondie.

This looked like that lion flower from Alice in Wonderland

My urban daughter wearies of hiking and takes a break

Until she meets this beauty which she named "Zazu" (spelling?)

For some reason this sign made me laugh for a good minute. Snail on a leash...

Check out the curls on this beauty!

Pursy eats an entire bag of dried bananas. This will come back to haunt us later...

Four hours in the car and we hit the Halfway to Hana banana bread stand. We met a country singer from Ohio at the pool who said the bread from this place will "curl your toes". Grant accused him of having a stockpile of phrases like that on hand in order to write his songs. Hashtag Musicophile Husband

Black lava rock beach

Pursy was overwhelmed by the beauty

Knoxer man and Papa

A Boy and some Lava Rocks

Oh my heart.