Sunday, September 28, 2014

Breakfast Bites

I am encouraging a consistent morning routine for Belle.  Breakfast is the hardest by far.  Belle only likes to eat cold cereal, some bread, pasta, cheese, yogurt and fruit.  She refuses meat and vegetables.  It’s easier to give her dry cereal and raisins while she is strapped in the pushchair than it is to serve breakfast at our table.  We had four hours before we ran Thursday’s errand and I didn’t even have a chance to boil water for tea, let alone prepare breakfast.  What to do?

Baby Signs

I have started teaching Belle more baby signs, as inspired by a mom in our play group.  Belle now knows “cat,” “help” and “hot.”  At first she turned her head or knocked the baby sign book off the bed in defiance.  Now she happily opens the book and hands it to me.  Belle is learning language in all its forms.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hearty whole grains

I tossed the last of the buckwheat pasta with ghee, mascarpone cheese, spices and sugar.  Belle really liked that.  She even ate some roasted baby carrots with the pasta that were coated in the same spice.  She drank plenty of my fresh squeezed orange juice and ate all the grapes from our CSA box.  That’s an improvement! 

I found more brands and varieties of pasta made with hidden vegetables at the market.  I didn’t buy any since I already have two boxes of Hidden Veggie pasta on hand.  Belle seems to enjoy pasta now.  We started with quick cooking ramen and have since graduated.  I will continue offering these hearty whole grains.

Friday, September 26, 2014


I want Belle to attend a particular preschool.  I am steadily reading to her and taking her to playgrounds and play groups in the meantime.  Unfortunately, Belle doesn’t speak out in groups yet.  She observes before she jumps into free play.  A skill assessment taken by the doctor this summer ruled out delay or disability.  When Belle didn’t answer a female acquaintance, the woman suggested federally funded preschool, if only for the sake of early intervention.  I guess she assumed Belle is mute because she hasn’t seen otherwise. 

I don’t see any issue here with Belle’s development.  I heard Belle say “okay” many times on Thursday.  She beckoned me up the stairs to the slide by saying “come.”  She slapped my bum and encouraged me to “go” down the slide.  She asked for “milk” by saying and signing it.  She counted to three in the kitchen.  She could already say “hot,’ but now she signs it too.  Belle is learning signs and words from her two favorite books.  She is certainly a fast learner.

The Lottery

Temperatures reached eighty degrees at home on Wednesday evening, forcing us into party clothes and back out for this month’s mixer.  A smaller group and a “no host” bar meant endless wine for me and plenty of food to take home.  Belle found a children’s area full of electronic learning toys and quickly cooled off.  I made a few connections, including the sister of an old friend.  We came home after dark, but still full of energy.  Belle asked to play in the community park and had fun sliding by street lamp. 

I woke up dehydrated at one AM Thursday morning from drinking too much Zinfandel at the mixer.  I ate chilled red grapes and drank cold water to hydrate myself.  Then I let Krishna back inside (Polly stayed out in the rain.) along with some cool, fresh air.  I stayed up listening to KQED and playing computer solitaire.  Belle woke up just after four AM, in time to see the cards slide down the monitor after I won my first game.  We just stayed up, listening to public radio and the light rain until we left for our usual Thursday food run.

We went the shorter route to McDonald’s so I could grab a coffee.  I didn’t buy Belle a yogurt tube because I’d filled her food tray with leftover grapes.  I trusted my senses to get us to our destination via a shortcut I had only imagined.  I felt accomplished, caffeinated and good when we arrived.  I soon realized others in the crowd weren’t nearly as happy.  We walked right into a fight, in fact, between the director and a client.  Someone ushered me into an unruly line to get a number for our grocery order.  I suddenly held number one and would be first in line for groceries.

Women in the crowd objected to me being called first.  I handed over my ticket, clearly marked with a number one, to the lovely and patient woman at check in.  Another mom, left disabled from being injured while giving birth, threw an adult tantrum in front of her preteen daughter about me being first.  I narrowly escaped being first in line for free groceries with my life, and yet I still hold compassion for this disabled woman.  Other “friends” who couldn’t believe I’d been called first called me dirty names to my face. 

We got apples, baked goods, bananas, celery, cheese, golden flesh sweet potatoes, hummus, naan, nectarines, onion, oranges, pears, potatoes, rainbow trout and zucchini.  Someone made a big show of handing Belle a juice and a couple of yogurt pouches.  Unfortunately, no one noticed those yogurt pouches had expired in July.  Belle took a couple sips before handing it back to me.  We had already gone back home by then and couldn’t do anything to change it.  We didn’t need to be any closer to that angry, ugly crowd.  I guess the weak weather system only fueled the fire.

I made orange juice (I had over twenty oranges saved up.) and buckwheat pasta inspired by something one of the moms brought to Tuesday’s potluck.  I simmered buckwheat pasta with the frozen zucchini slices and drained off the water.  I softened onion and peppers in a fry pan and browned ground chicken in the same pan.  I drained off the oil and added a can of tomato sauce and seasonings.  I poured the meat sauce over the cooked pasta and zucchini and stirred in mascarpone cheese.  It came out nice!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hidden Veggies

On Tuesday Belle and I attended a potluck at the home of one of the moms we met at last Thursday’s beach picnic.  I made sautéed eggplant in marinara sauce (Everyone ate some!) and a homemade apple and pear sauce (No one ate any because another mom had made the most delicious chocolate cake!).  Belle seemed to like the penne pasta made with “hidden veggies” made by the hostess.  I wound up buying two boxes of Golden Grain Hidden Veggie Small Penne pasta later on, currently on sale at my nearest market. 

It’s nice to know people in Alameda who want to be here.  I am making friends with other moms who seem genuinely excited about their new lives on the island.  I wish I could have made friends like this when I moved here in 2007.  Maybe I would have mailed out those beautiful beach theme cards I had printed up with the address of my new home.  Maybe I would have had the housewarming I never had.  Maybe I would have felt supported enough to thrive.  I am sure I would have had Belle under better circumstances had I just felt connected.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mmm. Food.

We had an exciting food filled weekend.  We were walking home on Saturday when a man driving a utility vehicle asked if we could use an eggplant.  He said he worked on a farm nearby and had a surplus.  Good thing I always carry a bag with me because he gave us lots of apples, two eggplants, green beans, hot peppers and tiny tomatoes.  I snacked on tomatoes on the mile and a half walk home.  Belle fell asleep eating an apple, which I happily finished. 

We were on our way to McDonald’s on Sunday, with only nineteen minutes to spare for the free coffee, when I spotted the box across the street.  I always stop and grab the box, no matter what it holds.  Someone living nearby periodically puts their extra “first five” or food bank food in a cardboard box by a street lamp across the street.  I swiftly pushed Belle across the street, grabbed the cardboard box full of canned food and walked it back home without looking through it.  We still managed to make it for coffee five minutes before breakfast ended. 

Belle seemed extra clingy at McDonald’s, especially when our friend Ellen joined us.  I couldn’t enjoy conversation with another adult because Belle wouldn’t play with the other children.  This neediness, combined with Belle’s inability to sleep through the previous night, made me wonder if we should skip a party happening the same afternoon.  I also noticed a mystery stain on my dress that I couldn’t remove with my limited time and resources in McDonald’s restroom.  We attended the party anyway (No one noticed the stain!), and Belle finally loosened up.

We brought home leftover fried fish and pork from the party.  Belle fell asleep holding a candy filled goody bag.  This nap allowed me to finally sort through the box:  beef ravioli, beef stew, black beans, cream of mushroom soup, green beans, mandarin oranges, mixed fruit, sweet peas, tomato sauce, tuna in water, vegetable beef soup and whole peeled tomatoes in various quantities.  None of this food is certified organic, but it is all good food to have on hand.  I believe in keeping a fully stocked pantry and steadily working through it.  Long live whoever puts out this box!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lotza free coffee and new friends

We had to leave McDonald’s Wednesday when Belle wouldn’t stop licking or touching the play structure with her mouth.  We’d gone early so I could get a free coffee and Belle could play.  She didn’t have any playmates as the older children were in school and I was busy on my computer.  Belle had no other outlet save exploring her world with her mouth. 

Belle laughed off my warnings against that disgusting behavior.  I buckled her back into the pushchair and let her squirm.  I let her out after several minutes, only to see her try it again.  I buckled Belle up for real and navigated toward the college.  Belle asked for food and pointed toward home instead.  We went home and stayed.

We went back for more free coffee on Thursday.  I didn’t care how hot or humid it was for eight thirty in the morning.  We had to either make a McDonald’s run or tear the kitchen apart.  This took time away from the usual Thursday morning time crunch.  Blazing hot and pressed for time, I walked forty minutes round trip for coffee (to go!) before walking the thirty minutes on our food run.

Belle napped in the pushchair long enough on our return trip home for me to put our food away and pack a picnic lunch.  We walked to the beach for lunch with a moms group.  Belle met another Belle (although I didn’t ask if she is called Belle too) at the beach.  The girls were born the same year, only a day apart.  My Belle rubbed her new friend’s back.  New friend Belle shared her banana chips and snack puffs. 

I felt so hot once we finally came home (It reached seventy-seven degrees upstairs.) that I filled the tub with cold water for a soak.  Belle wouldn’t join me for a dip because it felt “hot.”  Belle meant “cold” but she said “hot.”  I couldn’t enjoy a cold soak for long with Belle running around our hot house alone.  I eventually cooled off, and so did Belle.  She refused a nap and stayed up past ten.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Early, busy Tuesday

Belle woke me before sunrise Tuesday morning.  Krishna had jumped onto my bed, waking Belle up and forcing me bolt upright.  I cursed everyone in my house, grabbed a robe and begrudgingly started the day.  I fried eggs and turkey burger patties and warmed a bowl of leftover mashed gold and sweet potatoes.  Belle made the “yucky” face and shook her head at the food.  She stood colorful plastic popsicle sticks into half a cantaloupe rather than eat it.  She turned up her nose at a yogurt.  She ate a little whipped cream off a soup spoon and called it a morning.

We were up and out early enough to meet our church friends at McDonald’s.  Belle enjoyed lemonade and a yogurt tube.  I drank a large complimentary coffee. (McDonald’s is offering free coffee for breakfast as a special two week promotion.).   Belle wouldn’t leave my arms long enough for me to drink my coffee or maintain my online life.  I eventually gave up and joined her in the winding play structure, where I found dirty (obviously used, but not soiled) bandages.  I alerted an employee immediately.  Let’s hope they took care of it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Toddler diet

Saturday’s Target run yielded gluten free chicken nuggets and whole milk yogurt.  Belle has since eaten half a frozen nugget, a quarter of a baked nugget and about a teaspoon of yogurt.  We shared a Twix, a package of those sugar cookies you just pop on a cookie sheet and bake, a quesadilla and a bacon and spinach salad on Monday evening.  Belle liked all of that.  


I am completely spent after seven nights of spiritual cleansing work.  On Monday afternoon I found a bottle of wine with the same name as a symbol associated with protection.  I bought and drank the wine (cheaper and cleaner than the actual symbol and its usage) while documenting my final thoughts on the matter.  I spent Monday evening hydrating with lots of ice water.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Saturday’s food run proved more practical than romantic:  five pounds of white rice, four pounds of dried lentils, and four pounds of beef stew.  Belle got thirty ounces of raisins.  Coincidentally, I had opted against purchasing two boxes of organic raisins on Friday because raisins weren’t necessarily needed right then. 

I took the three dollars I saved by not buying raisins to Target and bought the cats a few cans of [ beef and chicken/turkey] pate.  I bought Belle gluten free chicken nuggets, whole milk yogurt and Halloween socks.  I didn’t buy anything for myself because I didn’t need anything.  I had some merlot on Friday, which was a good treat.

Client satisfaction

 I gave an intuitive tarot reading at home on Friday.  I priced the reading at half the price of what my mentor suggested.  My client paid five dollars above asking and brought along two bags of groceries for us, including meat and dairy.  I used some of the money I earned for canned fish, ghee and juice.  I took advantage of economy sizes and sales.  I didn’t buy Belle any biscuits because we’d gotten a large bag at Thursday’s food run.  I didn’t buy myself any coffee or tea for home brewing because I couldn’t choose from so many choices.  I just pray I gave a clear reading, with Belle climbing the table and spooning tea from cup to cup.  The key is client satisfaction.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Festival friends

Belle stayed up well past one am, which made our early Saturday morning food run insanely challenging.  She banged her head against the wall and screamed in protest.  I quickly zipped myself into a skirt that I paired with a designer top I’d kept since 2000, the year I turned twenty-four.  I felt scandalized later on when another mom said her eighteen and twenty-two year old daughters would love the top that I, nearing forty, had on.

Belle requested I read her children’s prayer book at nap time.  She asked me to read from her children’s Bible when we finished the prayer book.  I either fell asleep reading Belle the Bible or a collection of bedtime stories.  Who remembers?  I woke up to Belle sleeping upside down.  We eventually pulled it together and walked down to a local festival.  We spent all weekend at the festival.

This is the last year I can take Belle to a festival without spending money.  I really didn’t see anything to spend money on.  I wanted beer.  Belle wanted a pony ride.  We listened to my old friend’s band instead.  I caught whiffs of everyone else’s beer and wine.  I guess gone are the days when I am just handed drinks.  A friend offered Belle a bite of his pork rib, as is if he had a choice.  I had never seen Belle so excited about meat before.

Relax at Ronald's

We met a stressed out woman and a sweet little boy at McDonald’s the other day.  The woman looked like an older mom in sunglasses and faded black jeans.  The whole energy shifted once the woman entered the patio.  An older couple noted the energy shift immediately and didn’t linger long after finishing their meal.  I felt the tension but wouldn’t leave because the children were having fun playing. 

Belle overheard the woman and the child’s plan to walk to a nearby park after their lunch.  Belle realized her geography and asked, “Wee?” followed by sign language for “playing” and a finger pointed toward the park.  We walked over to the other park and joined them.  Right away I noticed the woman hovering over the child.  She would practically choreograph his play, scolding him for every misstep.

I listened as the woman made excuses for the child to his playmates and their mothers.  I watched as she broke up basic physical play.  She actually warned the child his new friends didn’t really want to play with him because they didn’t know him.  They weren’t his brothers.  He had to stay away.  I couldn’t believe the expectations and guidelines she had for a boy who had only recently turned four.

I asked the woman if she had other children.  I had heard her mention to another mother that the child missed his brothers.  That’s when the woman revealed herself to be the child’s paternal grandmother.  The child and his siblings had come from a troubled home.  She told me a story I could relate to in part.  I remembered my own early life and made a few suggestions to help the grandmother relax.

Will tarot for Tampax

I awoke Friday morning to a large box of personal care items left on our door mat.  The box included many tampons to replace those Belle destroyed.  I would have traded tarot readings for Tampax earlier in the week.  I had taken my chances at Dollar City (sixteen regular tampons for two dollars) when no one appeared to take me seriously.  Evidently, someone did.  I found a message from the tampon fairy later in the day that I felt called for tarot.

I juggled a hot coffee and a thirteen card tarot reading from my table inside Ronald’s office.  My cards attracted a curious Belle and her two new playmates, a five and a seven year old, brothers, in school uniforms.  The older boy assumed my tarot cards were playing cards and quickly organized a game.  I handed him my petite Lenormand deck instead.  All four of us were holding a handful of cards the boy dealt, even Belle.  The game had no rules. 

Meanwhile, I was still typing up a tarot reading with my other hand.  I couldn’t put the cards down on the table because all three children wanted them.  I had to remember each position while interpreting the cards and keeping track of the children and my petite Lenormand deck.  The younger boy typed nonsense into the chat window to keep it interesting.  I still managed to help a friend in need though.

Friday, September 5, 2014


No fresh squeezed orange juice this week because we only got six oranges at our usual Thursday food run.  We brought home many pears though.  We have a fridge full of pears.  I will make more apple and pear sauce perhaps.  That will go well with the sausage.  Belle also got green grapes.

I made a nice couscous dish for dinner:  warm vegetable oil, curry powder, onions, peppers, pumpkin, vegetable broth, corn, okra and couscous.  Belle ate apple and cheese Danish instead.  I threw the Danish away at night’s end after I caught Belle abusing the leftovers while seated on a potty.

Belle had several hours of outdoors play and didn’t protest sleep.  We’d followed a McDonald’s playmate and his grandmother to a nearby park.  The children spent five hours playing between both parks.  Our children attracted more children, which made it impossible for anyone to leave the park.  We had a fun day!

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Belle and I had already spent about ninety minutes at McDonald’s when I spotted an old friend in need of a tarot reading.  We agreed she would have the reading now and owe me actual money next week.  I consented to this since I know and see the woman and her husband often.  I asked for cookies for Belle and a hot fudge sundae for myself in the meantime.  Her husband threw in three overripe peaches he’d just bought at farmer’s market too.    

I let my friend release a fair deal of woes prior to the reading.  She even sang the praises of another reader she’s been faithfully visiting.  I learned from my friend that her reader wants hundreds of dollars from my friend to remove a supposed curse.  I suggested my friend either consult with one of the many trained root workers I know for a second opinion or book hypnotherapy sessions with me.  We’ve been discussing hypnotherapy for years, and she has never booked a session. 

My friend’s situation has not changed much in the five years we’ve known each other.  I sense she might be headed for change though.  She’s so enamored with her reader, and ready to spend good money to break a curse that may exist only in the mind of her reader, that she might be disappointed.  Meanwhile, I have scripts for many of the things she’s interested in changing.  She always has so much going on though.  She would need to narrow it down. 

Belle endured four hours at McDonald’s in all.  She played at the entrance of the play structure by day’s end.  It only took her five visits to warm up to playing there.  She made eyes at another mom and charmed the woman into giving her a new toy.  I think the toy is a cat.  She also charmed a boy in junior high into giving her a kiss through a window.  I looked up in time to see them kiss, their lips only separated by glass.  Alright!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sleepy head

Belle woke me up well before six this morning because she had to pee.  I reluctantly agreed to stay awake and upright despite repeated attempts at returning to bed after everyone had peed.  Belle kept pinching my face and other body parts whenever I would dare shut my eyes.  I eventually got up and made ramen noodles for breakfast.  Belle took a few forkfuls of food and fell right back to sleep at the bowl.  She remained asleep until mid morning, thereby jinxing our play date plans.  At least I got her bed before nine thirty last night!

Monday, September 1, 2014


Belle had a full day's play yesterday and still stayed awake past one this morning.  I thought I would die.  In fact, I longed for it.  I paced until I felt myself practically sleepwalking, and then I paced more.  I made a mug of cocoa (cocoa powder, sugar and vegetable oil dissolved in milk) to share.  Belle fell asleep after a few sips.

I made the best lentils today.  I poured an entire kettle of hot water over a cup of lentils and let them simmer with a couple chicken bullion cubes (without MSG).  Then I added a generous amount of frozen collard greens and left over savory brown rice (brown rice simmered in vegetable broth, corn kennels and cut okra).  I found this dish most divine and inspired.  If only Belle would eat some...