Monthly Archives: May 2013

Starting the move to Stavanger

The time has come that we have fewer days left in Oslo that I think I can deal with. Like, instead of months, or even weeks, I feel like we have days. Just days. Like, 9 days for sure, and a few more that might happen if we need to or want to or can manage.


Are you kidding me?

When did this happen?

I feel NOT good about this. In fact, I feel sick about this. Yesterday, I flew with Kiddo and Hubby drove with Poodle to Stavanger, from Oslo. We are getting keys to the temporary apartment, and we have fishing rights on the river nearby early next week, and we were going to rent out our Oslo apartment through airbnb but had to cancel, so the plan is that we will be here until next Monday, which is about 10 days. Then we go back to Oslo for 9 days, and spend the next essentially 6 weeks at the summer cabin, and then a week in Italy with my parents, and then…Stavanger?

Because of all these feelings that arose when I realized how few days we have left in Oslo, I was bitter and surly to Hubby yesterday. I didn’t want to go to Stavanger, but I didn’t want to stay in Oslo alone with Kiddo and no backup (I have a health issue that I will probably write about soon that makes that scary). I knew I was upsetting him, but I couldn’t help myself. I was trying to be kind to myself, to honor the feeling, to be honest with him, but at the base of all that, I was just pissed off. 

Let´s spend just a moment on that. Why, when this has been coming for so long – I mean really since I met Hubby I knew we would probably end up in Stavanger so he could work with the family business – why do I feel so upset about this?

This is what I come up with:

  • Change is stressful.
  • Oslo is so nice this time of year.
  • My friend just had a baby and I want to see her a lot.
  • Friends in general.
  • Barbeques and beer and stuff in the park?!
  • Our apartment is amazing and we have been keeping it cleaner and I love being back in one place after so much traveling.

But Stavanger will be undeniably great on paper.

In Stavanger, I will have access to a place that is my own. In half a year I will have a house with a garden, something I have dreamed about for a long time! But I will be trading in my real city life of walking absolutely everywhere for a life where you can walk, but will probably drive. I hope we will bike more often, though.

I can make friends – this I know! But it is undeniably stressful. (Of course, it is also beautiful when you connect with someone for the first time!) It is hard, as an introvert, to put myself out there. I feel too different. I feel like a crazy person, like who could possibly jive with me?  When I moved to Oslo I fell into some amazing friendships literally within days. But I was younger then; I had lots of time. Specifically, I didn’t have a child who is age appropriately dependent on me and who I parent in a way that is respectful to that. Also, I feel like being a stay at home mom in socialist Norway makes me some sort of pariah, or at least a veritable freak.

Also, I am the kind of person who wants a handful of people that are really close. I don’t want hoards. I don’t want to befriend the entire English speaking population of Stavanger (let alone the whole Norwegian population, jeez!). I want a few great chums. I don’t look forward to the part when you weed through people whom you might get along with but might not.

Anyway, this is why I am apprehensive and irritated about the move. 

I guess it is normal? Unless you thrive on change and love meeting new people, you probably dislike moving, and even if you are those things maybe the other aspects of moving are unappealing. I think it is not a natural human thing – to move so many miles from one place to another (says the person who has done four major moves in my life already!).

I am making some deals with myself to ease the move and motivate myself to get out there:

  • Sign up for a class – anything! Guitar or painting or drawing or I don’t care, just: something. (I had Norwegian class in Oslo that put me in touch with the first and best friendships I have!)
  • Find fun places to work out – a park, a running route, something where I can get my blood flowing and maybe run into other people who are out doing the same things.
  • Connect on Facebook and social media to people with similar interests – I am already doing this with an international moms group and a group that is interested in traditional foods.
  • As much as I don’t like them, try out all the playgroups I can find.
  • Also, try out all the åpen barnehager or open daycares that I can find.
  • Find a book club.
  • Get a library card and join stuff at the library.
  • But: don’t overload myself all at once or I will just burn out and feel horrible. If I don’t feel like doing anything that day – don’t!
  • Spent lots of time with my in-laws, because they are family and can help out and know the town and love me for me.
  • Spent lots of time with Hubby, because haven’t we always said that at the very basic core, we just need each other?
  • Remember to breathe! Life is for living, not for stressing about!

Here is to trying, forgiving myself, loving everybody, and living in the moment. I will need a lot of all of that in the weeks to come!


Why I don’t love the summer cabin and what I am going to do about it


The sun sets over the little island – this picture was taken around 11:30pm in July.

(Warning: I am aware that I probably am going to come off so spoiled in this post, but I am trying to be honest!)

Every year this happens.

We come down to the summer house that my in-laws own for the first long weekend of the year, Kristi himmelfartsdag or Ascension, which usually is in May. And the weather is terrible.

Hubby´s family literally shakes with giddiness about the prospect of spending the weekend cleaning up from the winter, planting potatoes and herbs, eating extravagant dinners at 10pm, lighting fires in the fireplace, fishing, taking the boat out, rain or shine, being outside in rain suits and fisherman hats for the better part of the day, having to go outside to get from one room to another (including the bathrooms) and generally doing things that Norwegians like to do at their cabins or “hytta”. 

Many Norwegians have a hytte. Usually it is a kind of small shack at the mountain or by the sea. My Norwegian family has one of each. But they are not shacks; they are proper cabins with heating, dishwashers, toilets, and even a washing machine. So, I could have a lot more to come to terms with. 

And what do I have to come to terms with, exactly?

Tradition. Hubby and his family have a very traditional kind of Norwegian holiday at their cabin, which is not at all what I am used to.

When my family went on holiday as a kid, it was either to visit my dad´s family in Los Angeles or to a summer resort called Inn at the Seventh Mountain in Central Oregon. Or to the Oregon Coast. A handful of times we did other things, like rent a motorhome and drive until it broke down one state away, totally not making it to our final destination, visit my dad´s sick friend in New Mexico, and take other road trips within several hours drive, like to Victoria, BC, or Ashland. We also took a cruise to Alaska one year and went to Hawaii another year. When I was older, my vacations always involved water polo tournaments.

What do 99% of these have in common? Hotel rooms. Cars. Outside time confined to heated pools and pickle ball courts. Maybe horseback riding. Possibly Disneyland. Or in bad weather, a short walk on the rainy beach before coming inside and watching TV or curling up with a book afterwards until it was time to sleep. Warmth. Comfort. Whole days for reading.

So, it is hard for me to picture a weekend on an isolated coastal island as restful in the same way. I love making food, so that part is fun, but I don’t get to plan the menus. If I am lucky, I will plan a couple of meals throughout the weekend.

Otherwise, my idea of an ideal day on vacation would be something like this: wake up, make and eat a super healthy breakfast, possibly work out before Kiddo wakes up, read the paper, or go out to a place where we could buy and read the paper, do something that the Kiddo wants to do (beach, playground, loud crazy sweaty indoor gym, walking around picking up rocks, whatever works), eat a super healthy lunch, possibly a picnic, read a book while she naps, spend the afternoon either outside again, maybe going for a hike or doing something cozy inside like reading books, drawing, painting, playing with playdough or something messy, making and eating dinner, and curling up and watching a movie together. That sounds amazing.

Here, we have some of those elements but I have no freedom of movement as this is an island and I don’t drive a boat. I am not actually interested in boats, but I am planning on getting my boating license just so I can actually feel comfortable getting myself somewhere. I would be happy if I never had to use boats, or maybe this is more accurate: I would not notice it if I was never on a boat again. I just am totally apathetic towards them. So I resent the fact that the summer cabin life revolves around boats, boat cleaning, boat parking, knots and all that stuff.

It is very hard for me to get motivated to work out here, which is bad because exercise really helps me feel positive and happy and all those good things. I would have to drive the boat to somewhere to go jogging, and in bad weather I am 100% not going to do that. I have gotten much better over the years at finding workouts that I can do here. Plyometrics, workout videos, maybe now yoga are all good candidates. But I really only can do them in good weather because there is nowhere I can stand to do them while it is raining (there is limited space inside and I don’t really like people to watch me while I do them!). Hubby loves to get his exercise from finding some random job to do in the yard, like shovel something or move rocks or something. I just can’t get into that, but I guess I could try.

A lot of time here is spent on upkeep. Sweeping, vacuuming, taking the trash off the island, hosing down the stone wharf, cleaning up after fishing excursions and so forth. There is always lots of shopping to be done since we are 6 adults now (My in-laws, their two grown children and each child´s partner) and there is only so much room in the fridge. We have gotten in a large dramatic argument in the past about how clean we keep the bathroom we are using, since it is the one people would use if they were visiting. This makes it stressful to do things like cook and live in a space where I feel my cleanliness is constantly being appraised.

This brings me to the last problem of this place: we are constantly with my in-laws. I really like them – they are super lovely people. But they are not my parents, and they are from a different generation, which means that the way we are raising Kiddo is not only strange, but possibly actively threatening to them. Our lack of a schedule, lack of a bedtime, lack of punishment, and lack of rules on most things parents have rules about are constantly in their faces when we are here, and it is hard for them not to comment on them. Add to that that I am still breastfeeding Kiddo at 2 years and 4 months…all this adds up to a situation where I feel very vulnerable as I carry out my daily parenting moments one after the other. This would be the same at any location, but it is extra strong here, since we are all in a 100m2 on a tiny island, all the time. There is no place to get away. For us, or for them. It is a challenge for all of us.

So, those are the reasons it is hard for me. This is not my ideal vacation (and for Hubby, it really is. It is like all those vacations I had as a kid rolled into one). The mismatch is hard because Hubby “just wants me to be happy”, and I don’t want to disappoint him or myself by being a recalcitrant sulker who cant wait for the next time I can sneak away to read my book. Plus, Kiddo loves it here. She told me she dreamed last night about playing in the sand here (FIL has a couple of manmade beaches with rough sand on the island). It made my heart melt. She has such a great time here! 

My promise to myself is that I am going to make this tradition a part of my own life. I won´t just be a tag along to someone else´s traditions and someone else´s idea of a good vacation.

That means that on the one hand it is okay that what I want to do most when I am on vacation is read books and cook food, but on the other hand I would benefit from trying my best to get involved in the activities of the day here. That means I need to learn out to drive a boat and get involving in the gardening here. I am actually interested in gardening and we are about to have our own, but I find it really intimidating, and when I first have some free time here, I am not inclined to read about gardening or dig through the seeds we ordered, but instead pick up one of the 20 books I brought 😉

Also, I need to remember that Hubby and I are on the same team. Some times I will have bad days where I want to swear at everybody and take Kiddo and drive back to Oslo (I couldn’t anyway – we are renting out our apartment through airbnb this week). That was yesterday. But I can talk to Hubby about it and try my best to be kind to myself and my husband and be compassionate to my in-laws, who also have a large challenge of having to parent their grown children while watching them parent their own children very differently. Hopefully they can all be compassionate with me in a real way while I continue to learn the ways of the Norwegian cabin holiday, which is not at all what I grew up with. 

What did I learn from the world?

My friend asked me this the other day.

“You have to have learned something important from being away. You can’t just be away for half a year and not learned anything.”

Of course! I believe people are always learning something, everyday, but I know that isn’t what she meant.

I have been ruminating about this for a while. Were we just sun seekers, or did we have revelations that made us better people? Did we come back having gained something intangible? Were we wiser?

To answer that, I am going to tell an anecdote about a similar experience I had. When I was 17/18, I did a month long Outward Bound trip backpacking and rafting through Colorado and Utah. I asked my parents to support this trip because I wanted to find myself before I went to college. When you start out hoping to change your life, it does put a bit of pressure on you, but the trip did not disappoint. What I learned from that trip was that I could start over – do something I never had done before, stretch myself, challenge myself to the point of physical and mental exhaustion, and survive AND enjoy it.

But what about that trip proved that to me? Was it hiking up a bluff when I was totally exhausted in hot weather, but watching that my legs managed just fine? Was it cooking cornbread in a lukewarm pan and eating the half raw dough, and laughing about it? Was it leading the group by compass and being so scared we were going to get horribly lost? Or was it just something in the detail of each day, being outside, doing something different, being away, getting your head out of the minutae of normal life for long enough to make a real change? I think it was the latter, actually. And I think it was the same for this trip.


12 Apostles rock formations along the Great Ocean Road in Australia

We saw so many cool things; it is hard to even relate to them. We saw Buddhist temples that have been around for centuries. We saw rock formations that were jaw dropping in their raw, physical beauty. We stood and looked at the view from one of the most beautiful vineyards in the world. We stood at the edge of an active volcano and watched it´s smoke drift out over the open ocean. Each one of these moments would have been enough to ruminate over for a year, but we packed them together like sardines in coach class. There was not a lot of time to process. 

But thinking back, those moments are stored in some deep place inside me now, to remember when I need to think about things bigger than the four outer walls of my apartment and the 1km radius in which most of my life takes place. And what´s more, it isn’t only those big moments. It is all the details of all the places we visited. The mundane.

  • The lion´s head on the manhole covers in Australia.
  • The fine mist in the morning in New Zealand.
  • That first view of the South Island from the ferry.
  • The chocolate aisle in Australian grocery stores and that amazing shortbread cookie in the supermarket in Cromwell.
  • The airbnb hosts in Kona and their friendly dog.
  • The loads of new people we met.
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • The wave of heat when leaving our hotel in Singapore.

Things that are different about waking up in a place with which you aren’t familiar.

What do they do to you? Do they change you? 

Yes and no.

Yes, because they remind you that you are one of billions of people living in one of millions of habitats. Because you realize how insignificant you are. And because of course – you experience things and people and sounds and smells and tastes that you haven’t experienced before. But that just widens your horizons. It doesn’t change you.

No, because you assimilate these new experiences into the core of you. I´ve been reading the Bhagavad Gita and to me it seems like this is the Atma – the real person you are, in my interpretation kind of like your soul. To put it another way, you don’t need to travel thousands of miles to find yourself, although sometimes it cant hurt to shake up your surroundings a little bit so you can get out of stale states of mind. Your self, your “real you” is there inside of you waiting for you to notice it.

Unfortunately, I am kind of stuck on figuring out how this applies to me. I think I need a little more distance. I have, however, seen an example of what I think I mean with my daughter.

Kiddo´s real self, as far as I can tell, was only made more apparent by the trip. The person I think she is – animal loving, music loving, mostly patient, very flexible, night owl/teenage sleeping, verbal, loving, goofy, curious – was not altered by this trip. She didn’t take in all these new stimuli and become some Australian ranger. She just added koalas and emus and kangaroos to her collection of favorite animals. She realized how much birds are exciting when they are all kinds of different colors. She realized she liked Hawaiian music as well as Psy. (Haha!) This kind of thing. No major changes. I think the only thing that we could only do on the trip, other than of course stay out all day in the sun and sand and water, was eat real Japanese food. Kiddo loves Japanese noodles. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she loves Japanese food, because the list of things she didn’t eat was longer than the list of foods she scarfed down, but she did love the flavors. 

Japan was the first time I have watched her eat soup broth. Usually she picks out the big bits, like, I used to cook her veggies in chicken stock, but she would never drink chicken stock from a spoon. In Japan, she did. It was a very fancy bowl of clear soup, and she loved it. She ate loads of noodles – soba, udon, fried chinese noodles (aka yakisoba) and maybe others. She ate edamame and ikura and loads of rice. But she didn’t touch raw fish, any kind of katsu, anything with Japanese BBQ sauce on it, anything with Japanese pickles touching it, and so forth. So…it isn’t exactly as if traveling to Japan awakened her palate completely.

I think this is kind of an intensely powerful realization as well as a bit of a let down. Did we travel the world for nothing? I don’t really think that at all. In fact, if anything, this just reinforces what I am learning about Zen Buddhism (so maybe that is why I am having this revelation and not the opposite one!) – that the best way to live well is to be in awe of the world, to be rich from what you already have, to desire just enough to care for yourself and your family, and to practice compassion for all. Being in awe of the world can happen looking at a street lamp on your street, or looking at one on the other side of the world. We have many riches around us right now, where ever we are, and while of course there are tons more things to see in other places,  we don’t need them to feel better or different or fulfilled.

So, there you go, a really long post about how you don’t need to travel to have an awakening. : )

Quantum Cleanse Week Three Reflections

First I want to give some tips about what made this cleanse mostly doable for me. My top tip is to have easy snackable foods ready-made in your fridge. For me, that was at least one kind of healthful, filling spread for rice crackers or veggies available at all times. When you are hungry, instead of feeling like you have to get by on nuts (which are also super helpful!), you can have a mini meal that tastes delicious, has lots of nutrients, and fills you up. My favorites were homemade tapenade, which is high calorie but has that umami flavor that I craved a lot, plus a good amount of vitamins from the large amounts of parsley and basil I added. I also used a lot of hummus and a white bean and roasted red pepper “hummus” that was really delicious and a bit different.

Tip number 2 is protein shakes. I know Kathy Freston would disagree that I needed more protein, but I got so hungry, and just had a feeling like I was wasting away, which a quick little protein shake cured. I use a protein powder that has some fructose in it, which is like so totally bad for you, I know, but I did not want to buy something new. I am all about not wasting resources and money. Protein shakes were great for me as a mini meal, because these vegan and gluten free meals were filling at the time, but I would end up being hungry a couple of hours afterwards. I sometimes would make them for myself right before running out the door so I wouldn’t have to subsist on nuts while out and about.

Tip number 3 is use umami! Mmmmm, that savory flavor that the Japanese consider the fifth taste, after sweet, sour, salty and bitter is so necessary when you are cutting out the meatiness of animal products. I didn’t realize that beets are considered to have the umami flavor until the last week, so it was just coincidence that I happened to keep a stash of fresh steamed and cubed beets in the fridge that I added to everything from salads to sandwiches. Mushrooms are high on the umami list too, and although I didn’t find any specific reference to this, I believe olives are too. I ate a lot of olives! Other foods high in umami include tomatoes, wine, beer, fermented foods like sauerkraut, dried sea vegetables, and nutritional yeast. Roasting, caramelizing and grilling foods also brings out the umami flavors in foods.  

Tip four is drink homemade juice for breakfast! Homemade juice is still high in sugars, but it is also really high in nutrients, so it inevitably, for me, gets my day off to a good start. On the days where I was too rushed or lazy to make juice, I always felt a little less sparkle in my step. We have a fancy Angel Juicer and it was a great investment. We missed our morning juice a LOT when we were on the road.

Now, for the final reflections:

I liked this cleanse. But it is soooooo restrictive that I did hate it several times throughout the process. I was so angry at the limits I had put on myself as well as Kathy Freston´s tone in her book. OK, I was eating vegan without too much trouble. It wasn´t fair to not have gluten, either! And then a glass of wine was forbidden, TOO? REALLY?

I didn’t feel like that the whole time, just occasionally. And I did slip up. This last week especially, I have slid, dramatically, from the 1000% adherence the first week. I ate smoked salmon at a birthday party. I drank wine. I took cold medicine, which is probably off limits even though it doesn’t say so specifically. I drank hot lemonade sweetened with honey for my sore throat and cough. I used chicken bouillon in my soup because we were out of veggie and I was sick and didn’t feel like going to the store. Finally, I ate a veggie burger on normal bread that was probably not vegan. But I don’t feel I did these things in any sort of malicious way to the planet or to my body.

Mostly I was proud of myself. And mostly I felt good about how I was eating and how I was feeling. I didn’t feel like the plan made me thousands of times more energetic or peaceful or clear skinned or some of the things she promised, although I did not follow her meditation schedule, but my own. My skin was quite clear until I started adding in an animal product or two, actually. I was sleeping well, but I have never had a problem with that, except when I was pregnant.

I guess the biggest benefit has been that my body feels lighter. I am lighter. I have lost 3kg, or over 6 pounds. But it feels more efficient or something. I like that. I want to find a way where I can eat out and with family and friends more easily but still maintain that feeling. Maybe it is impossible.

Update: I have introduced everything back in, and I think that dairy gives me eczema. I think that gluten makes me feel bloated, but I don’t want to cut out everything with gluten. I don’t want to eat anything from animals that have not been raised compassionately. I think I might try to be 90% vegetarian and 75% vegan or something like that. We will see how it goes.


Meals week 3



Breakfast: Mushroom and spinach skillet with roasted sweet potatoes.

Lunch: White bean stew and tapenade leftovers (recipes from Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook – WLNC)

Dinner: Brown rice, black beans, avocado and tali sauce (Recreation of the Whole Bowl from Portland)



Breakfast: Vegan gluten free cornbread leftovers with vegan spread; carrot, apple, beet, lemon, ginger and watermelon juice

Lunch: Rice milk smoothie with protein powder and banana; almonds; cashews

Dinner: Leftover black bean quick chili – beans, a can of tomatoes, garlic, onions, red peppers and spices with leftover cornbread

Snacks: Herbal tea, gluten free vegan bread with vegan butter



Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and cornbread leftovers

Lunch: Bouillon with carrots, celery, garlic and fresh thyme

Dinner: Lentil soup

Snacks: Banana, almonds, herbal tea, dried apricots



Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: leftover lentil soup and tapenade with crackers

Dinner: Whole meal salad with tofu, beets, carrots, spring onions, almonds, avocado and tahini lemon dressing

Snacks: Banana, almonds, rice crackers, herbal tea



Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, watermelon, ginger and apple juice and gluten free vegan bread with olive oil and sea salt

Lunch: Leftover lentil soup and cornbread and tapenade on vegan gluten free bread

Dinner: Veggie burger on a gluteny bun with parmesan cheese (meal out, not vegan, not gluten free, but I did not order a shake or fries, which I thought was a victory)

Snacks: Rice milk smoothie with banana and protein powder, Japanese rice crackers, almonds, olives, spinach salad with steamed beets, sunflower seeds, lemon juice and olive oil. Wine. (whoops!)



Breakfast: Gluten free bread with vegan butter

Lunch: Beans and rice

Dinner: Black beans and tali sauce

Snacks: Herbal tea, protein smoothie with banana and rice milk



Breakfast: Homemade juice and gluten free bread.

Lunch: Sandwiches – gluten free bread with organic peanut butter and banana

Dinner: Lentil soup with tomato salad for starter

Snacks:  Rice crackers, Almonds, herbal tea, banana

Quantum Cleanse Week Two Reflections

This week on the Quantum Cleanse was harder than I thought it was going to be. I started out really strong. I had refused a lot of tasty food while my in-laws were visiting, but it left a nasty feeling in me – like I had given up a lot so I deserved a treat. I hate that.

But soon I was running low on inspiration. Hubby was away three days and usually I get a little excited to be able to cook whatever I want (heavy on the soups, stews, and mushroom dishes, yay!), but I had a hard time getting anything done because Kiddo decided not to nap for three days in a row, and be extremely clingy, so I was not able to cook really. I managed to make a couple of decent meals, that made great leftovers, but I didn’t feel like heating up damn leftovers the next day, I wanted something new! And then Hubby came home and didn’t want to eat leftovers either. I had a breakdown and ate some cheese. I also got drunk. I also had coffee. (Not all at once ;)) 

But you know what?

The morning after I ate cheese, I inched forward in my weight loss – I went down another pound. Maybe I ate less other food because I was so satiated from cheese? Maybe it was a coincidence.

I don’t know. I like the idea of eating more vegan foods, but this week made me doubtful that I can maintain it long term, and all the time. I read a blog this week that hit home. Four writers had gone vegan for a month, and afterwards, they each were pleasantly surprised with the meals, the food, and the relative ease (although they are in the US, the vegan food selection in Norway is almost non existent), but none of them would continue full time. They would be sometimes-vegans. Strict vegans are squirming uncomfortably right now, and I totally get that, but also, I do think it would be a terrific revolution if more people could eat vegan some of the time. It there wasn’t a huge stigma to trying to add more vegan meals into our lives, but not the total commitment that turns a lot of people off. Food is related too much of our culture, for better or for worse. Birthday parties, religious holidays, Friday night pizza, family favorites, comfort food…it is so tied up in these things. I agree that just because it is a part of the culture doesn’t mean it is okay, but I think the world would be a much healthier place if people didn’t feel like they had to give up all of that, but they could just eat more consciously. They could sprinkle nutritional yeast on their popcorn instead of butter. They could grab a veggie burger instead of a beef burger. They could have bean and sweet potato burritos, no cheese needed. But they wouldn’t have to promise to always do that.


This was the gluten free, vegan pizza that broke the cleanse for Hubby. For me, it was proof that if you want pizza, you should eat pizza, and it you want vegan, gluten free pizza, you should probably eat something that is naturally vegan and gluten free….


Meals week 2



Breakfast: carrot, apple, beet, lemon, ginger and watermelon juice; vegan gluten free cornbread leftovers with vegan spread.

Lunch: Mushroom, tofu, green onion, spinach and rice stirfry

Dinner: Rice paper wraps with rice noodles, hummus, beets, napa cabbage, carrots and spinach.



Breakfast: Vegan gluten free cornbread leftovers with vegan spread; carrot, apple, beet, lemon, ginger and watermelon juice

Lunch: Homemade tapenade from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook (WLCB) on rice crackers; spinach salad with beets, avocado, chickpeas and lemon juice.

Dinner: Chickpea coconut curry over brown rice, from WLNC

Snacks: Herbal tea, rice crackers



Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and cornbread leftovers

Lunch: Rice cakes with beets, hummus, avocado and spinach

Dinner: Leftover chickpea coconut curry and brown rice

Snacks: Banana, almonds, herbal tea, dried apricots



Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: Homemade rice crackers with hummus and vegetable and almond pate from WLNC (weird, do not recommend!)

Dinner: White bean stew with homemade tapenade, both recipes from WLNC

Snacks: Banana, almonds, rice crackers, herbal tea



Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber and apple juice and leftover gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: Leftover Curry

Dinner: White bean stew with homemade tapenade, both recipes from WLNC

Snacks: Banana, dried apricots, rice crackers, almonds



Breakfast: Beet/carrot/apple/celery/lemon juice and apple grain free almond flour vegan muffins that I made mini for Kiddo

Lunch: Leftover bean stew and tapenade

Dinner: Vegan gluten free pizza (This was so….interesting that Hubby stopped doing the cleanse. He was so disgusted by it. I thought it was good for dinner, but NOT FOR BREAKFAST REHEATED!)

Snacks: Herbal tea, banana, mini muffins, tapenade on rice crackers



Breakfast: Leftover pizza

Lunch: Tapenade and white bean dip on homemade rice crackers; vegetable and almond pate.

Dinner: Caprese salad (with mozzarella WHOOPS) and asparagus. And wine.  

Snacks:  Rice crackers, banana, protein shake with homemade almond milk, banana, avocado and chocolate protein powder

On being home


My daughter and I hanging out after an appointment, watching some big machines do their work.

Suddenly we are home. We have no place we have to go during the day. No shops to check out, no museums we must see, no zoos to visit, no lunch to be found and no dinner either.

We are home, waking up, taking the dog, making breakfast, buying groceries and doing laundry. Today I washed sheets for the first time in a half a year. I feel a bit annoyed, like 5%, at having to clean up the kitchen several times a day, but not really. Really, I am happy that I can prepare healthy food that I choose, from a recipe, and try to find things that my family and I will like.

So that is nice.

With Kiddo, it is hard to tell how the big uprooting is affecting her. She has been having super big meltdowns. We had put the pause button on requiring much of her. She was being a great kid on the trip, but she was also watching a lot of videos, eating a lot of junk food, and otherwise having habits that I generally hope she wouldn’t do under normal conditions. Now, I think it has been an adjustment. She had a meltdown asking for chips the other day. Someone who stayed in our apartment through airbnb had bought them and left an unopened packet, and I made the mistake of offering them to her when I was trying to finish a phone call, and then she wanted them for the rest of the day. But she hasn’t asked for them since.

She wants to watch videos, but not as much as when we were on the trip. I am pretty radical about screen time in that I believe that if allowed unlimited access (or just about), it becomes one other toy in a whole world of toys, and not a limited and therefore attractive good. So I was a bit concerned that she became used to seeing a lot of videos and playing with a lot of apps since those were easy to have with us, and our small stash of toys was not constantly appealing. Now that we are home, she will go all day without asking for the iPad. She still can get a bit overloaded if she watches it for a long time, but then I try to talk to her about it and find other things to focus on, and she will then forget about it for hours and hours.

She still likes books! We only had one book with us. Well, we had a few more, but we sent them home from Hawaii because they were just taking up space and there were so many things we were doing in the day we were making up our own stories. Now, she goes looking for her books, and loves talking about the pictures and the stories. A lot of video time did not make her forget that books are their own kind of magical, too.

She is still a music loving, animal loving kid. We tried to give her access to these pursuits on our trip (mostly animals, but also listening to music in the car and in the hotel/motel rooms), but it is different when you are out in the world, with beaches and car trips and new birds and zoos and cool museums and things – and I think it can be hard to be sure if your passions are still there or if you are just a passive spectator to exhibits that look nice. To illustrate my point, which I am not sure I am making well at all, I have a story:

We were watching Enchanted, the movie, because I was tired of playing with blocks and the toy kitchen and I heard “Happy Working Song” on my run and thought it would be fun to watch it with her. When it started, I thought, “oh dear, what have you done? It is an over the top princess movie, with full on stereotyped ditzy princesses and knights in shining armor and what have I done?” Well, the thing she hasn’t stopped talking about was about rescuing the dragon, which was actually the evil queen, who gets killed by the valiant Patrick Dempsey. We went outside for a walk this morning to “rescue the dragon!” “with a plane!” “woohoooooo!”

Okay, so my daughter is still able to take a lot of stimuli and walk away with her passions intact – living creatures, big or small, imaginary or not. It was a fun lesson.

Speaking of coming out of a passive tourist state, I have been getting back into meditation. I went to a course on Saturday about the Buddhist concept of the art of loving kindness. It was interesting and it gave me an even deeper respect for Buddhists. I tried reading a book one time and I don’t think I would ever be a full on Buddhist, but I do like their teachings a lot. As I discussed with one of the participants at the course, Buddhism seems to be the only religion that doesn’t qualify their teachings on love with “but.” Like, “love thy neighbor, unless he is of another religion, and then convert him.” Or something.

Anyway, it is nice to be back and to be able to do other things than just looking around and seeing new and exciting things. It is nice to be able to lose myself in a book, to explore interested that came up or deepened while on the road, without feeling like I am taking time away from seeing a place I don’t know if I will ever see again. I have sewed a lot since we got back. I have cooked for more hours in the last three weeks than I have in the last maybe months before we left, even. We have just been outside to be outside, not to catch a bus and go across town and no something. And when we have had to go across town and do things (an amazingly long list of things pile up to do when you are gone half a year! – well baby visits, residence permits, vet appointments, and so on), we take our time. We pack a lunch and sit around, watching construction sites when we come upon them and collecting leaves or rocks at other times. It is pretty awesome.

Traveling the world was amazing, but so is coming home.