Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Pumping All Day

Not that I'm counting, but it's about one and a half months before Noah can start drinking Cow's Milk.

I'm spending longer and pumping more often at work, which means I'm roaming the halls in search of a vacant private office, working and answering the phone to the whir of the breast pump. I've also started pumping at night before I go to sleep. Pumping just got a lot slower and less effective around the nine-month mark. I'm also going to be away from Noah [one day in April] from very early to very late as I fly to Pittsburgh for the day, and figuring out the logistics of traveling, presenting at a conference, pumping and checking in breastmilk is a little daunting. Almost as daunting as being away from Noah for 16 hours.

Pumping has the growing potential to be something I'm grumpy and complain about. But that's not really what I want to do with this post. I think I complain about pumping because I want to lauded for doing this really great thing for Noah. And you can't really be praised for something that's not painful, right? mmmmm? hmmm.

But I'm actually really proud of having made it this far, and feeling like a martyr for a good part of the day just doesn't make mathematical or emotional sense. Which doesn't stop me from occasional whines of "wow, this is hard". But for the most part, pumping is just pumping, as much a part of my day as anything else. Which may sound kinda new agey, but I reckon for me it's core-Christian stuff, where we're present and with God as much as we can be, even during the mundane parts of our day.

It makes me think about commuting- where commuting often feels like in-between bits of life, but given that I'm in the car an hour every day, it's actually a big part of the substance of my life, like cooking or baking or cleaning house. So on the one hand, I'm inclined to try to shift my life in favor of less commuting time, more baby-time, less pumping time, at least for some future imaginary baby. But on the other, I'd like to be present in the commuting and the pumping for as long as those things last.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A South African traveler

In my ponderings over moneyless living, I came across this story of a South African woman traveling without money across South Africa. I find her story very beautiful, not because she's without money (in the end, she relies on the generosity of strangers and their money) because she doesn't mention the fear that's so pervasive at home: that we'll be killed, raped or robbed. And because of that, she seems able to experience the best of South African life.

Time-poverty seems to be one consequence of material wealth. Eug and I both have (small) careers, and time poverty creeps in unless we really guard ourselves. There's a particular stress involved in trying to start a business; a totally understandable but pretty deadly stress. This year, during lent, I'm praying for rest (even if sleep-deprived), and for the sense that we have more than enough time. After all, if someone can travel across South Africa with nothing, and stay safe and well, surely we have nothing to fear?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Going Moneyless

What do you think about moneyless living?

As you know, I love the idea of urban foraging. It's immoral that dumpster food is locked away for fear of lawsuits. I wanted to go beyond dumpster diving and freecycling, and explore this idea of moneyless living a little further. I invite you to join the conversation.

On the one hand, moneyless living is the essence of social responsibility- as it means little trash, it's the ultimate in frugality, and it requires one to really connect with back-to-basics skills. The challenge is social responsibility in context. If our context (or the way we're wired) doesn't point towards us making the leap towards absolutely no money, what then?

It seems to me Jesus was an original moneyless man, but not in a legalistic way, and not to make a statement or because he felt like money was necessarily evil. Just because money didn't have a hold on what he was doing and when, or how he related to other people. The issue wasn't tax or the poor or the system, it was our hearts and how we related to other people in the moment. Ok... I hope I didn't lose you by bringing Jesus in back there.

Sometimes it's important for me to make poverty and unfair economic systems the issue, because they provide me with a framework for relating in the moment. I don't otherwise relate in a spirit of love or generosity. But other times they're not very important, because they're so abstract in the midst of the activities of my day- wake up-go to work-pray-see people-be a parent/wife/family member/friend-eat-sleep.

So I guess my question is, how do we get away from dependence on money? I really don't have a clue. But, oh well, I'll try and muddle through: it seems to have something to do with mindset-- life is not about money--and something to do with lifestyle-- where one doesn't have more bills than money to pay them. I don't want to rely on money to give me security. And I don't want financial stresses to dictate how much I work or why I work. I want to be free from a constant striving, from complicity in destroying the earth or being involved in a system that hurts other people. For me, this ties back to Jesus, because I want to be secure in any circumstance. What do you think?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent and Media-Fasting

Lent tends to catch me surprise- this year more than usual. Growing up, we didn't really "do" anything for lent- the 40 days before Easter- but in recent years I've really enjoyed trying out different things to step into faith and into seeing God in our world.

This year, I'll try a partial media fast again. In a sudden twist, I'm not going to be completely legalistic: the hope is that it will include all media that make me less connected with my day or those around me. Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, this will include Facebook, google reader and all non-friend blogs (I can check friends blogs directly), NY Times and Boston.com.

I did this once before, and it went well until it stopped going well. I actually did it during the Haiti earthquake, and eventually I really wanted to know what was going on, although not really knowing what was going on yielded really good things-- for example, I spoke to (rather than checked the facebook page of) an old college friend, who is from Haiti, for the first time since we both graduated. Given the earthquake and subsequent Tsunami in Japan, I'm not sure how one stays personally connected while being disconnected from large media sources. But I'd like to try.

Any thoughts on media, escapism, and staying connected? Or, if you're into lent, want to share anything about what you do and why?

Whole Wheat Pizza Recipe, and Tips on Making it Great

Thanks to a bulk order of whole wheat flour, I've switched to making most bread and pizza with whole wheat flour. We eat pizza about once a week, so I'm really excited to have settled on a good recipe. Our pizza is still not perfect, but I figure by the time Noah's a teenager it will be pretty close. Pizza (and bread, for that matter) don't really require a lot of hands-on work, they just require time at home.

Some things we do that we think make our pizza better than it used to be
1) Whole wheat baking requires a longer rise time. Don't get too focused on the time, consider what you're trying to make the dough look and feel like; if your kitchen is cool, it will take longer for the yeast to work, if it's warm, it'll take less time.
2) You can get really quick, thin crust pizza if you increase the temperature of your oven to the maximum (ours is 550F).
3) We leave our cast-iron pan in the oven while it heats up. It's been very helpful in preventing the sauce from soaking in too much.
4) For a tomato-based sauce, we've found that crushed tomatoes from the can work best. We've tried whole, diced, and from stratch (all blended in our blender) and the consistency of the crushed tomatoes works for us. If you go with crushed tomatoes, look for cans where tomatoes are the only ingredient (or tomatoes and herbs). Otherwise there can be a lot of salt in the sauce. Trader Joe's doesn't use BPA in their cans, so that's also something to think about.
5) Try using less cheese, if you're trying to keep the cost down or keep the pizza healthy. Caramelized onions are my favorite topping.
6) Don't stop trying if your pizza doesn't taste like restaurant pizza. Their brick-oven is a big part of that.

Anyway, after that long preamble:
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3.5 cups whole wheat flour


In a large bowl, dissolve honey in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in three cups of whole wheat flour, one cup at a time until dough starts to come together. When you stir, focus on keeping the mixture in one piece; it'll help develop the strength and elasticity of the dough.
Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about one hour, until doubled.
Preheat the oven as hot as you like= anything 375 or higher will cook the pizza, but we think the hotter the better. Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings.
Bake until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's Takeout night in Allston!

Thursday is takeout (take away) night. Eating out once a week is going to sound like crazy talk to some of you, but I realized that if we didn't have a set takeout day, I was going to be craving restaurant food at 5pm every single day. Which would make cooking feel like work. I'm happy to report it's made me much more excited to cook the other days of the week. Friday and the weekend is easy, because Eug and I are able to take turns working and caring for Noah. And Monday through Wednesday becomes doable, because it's only three days.

As you've noticed from the lack of blogging, the new year has brought a lot of change for us. While my commute is shorter, we're still dealing with things like change of addresses, getting internet, remembering to get groceries, and so on. When we're in a routine, chores are just part of the routine, but when we're thrown off, every little thing takes a bit more energy. I've had to start working slightly longer days, in order to work a shorter day from home on Friday, which adds to this dynamic.

So tonight, we get to eat something we'd never cook. So far it's been crispy chicken Pad Thai (we've tried to cook that and it's been bad) and BBQ. We take turns paying out of our pocket money, which in our opinion doesn't affect our family finances.

We take along our reusable containers, which is fun for getting restaurants to remember us. They probably also remember us because we come before anyone else in Allston is even thinking of eating dinner.

I'd love to hear your take on eating out, particularly if you have a small child/children and you can't do the whole meal experience.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mom and Dad's Garden

Here in Boston, the time has come to start planting seedlings indoors! We have survived winter! Even if it feels really cold, where there's the possibility of new plant life, there must be the hope of spring.

My parent's garden really inspired me while we were in South Africa. My dad loves growing fruit trees and in a fairly thin strip by the side of the house, my dad has plum trees, apricot trees, peach trees, grape vines, corn, strawberries, zucchini, tomatoes, ground cherries, and more. Most days my dad is out there checking what the garden needs. I felt really inspired to try to make the most of whatever garden I have.

My mom is also hoping to get chickens, so if you want to add your voice to encourage her, please do. The main concern is the rooster waking up the neighbors, but I feel like every neighbor has their own quirks (ours quirk is that we have a noisy baby in an apartment complex), and so my mom's rooster could be theirs.

Brown bags that one gets from the chemist/pharmacy cover the grapes, as an alternative to spraying

In the background, you can see the bonsai my parents have been patiently caring for the past five years.  You can also see me stealing a strawberry, and my mom at the door.