High maintenance? Why not?

I have thought a lot about what it may mean to raise a boy. While I was not completely set on having a girl, I knew that if I had one I would make sure she was a badass. Knowing that I am having a boy, I often think — how do I make sure he is strong while also gentle and sensitive? What happens in a boy’s life that makes them want to kill everything they see, or punch everything? Is it nurture or nature? I guess I will find out soon enough.

I grew up with a dad that would remind us that we were to “be seen and not heard.” I have the smallest of bladders and would always have to go to the bathroom (and still do) and my dad always made me feel horrible about it. As though it was my fault that I had to go to the bathroom 30 minutes later. Thank you to my wonderful, patient husband who might sometimes think: “Seriously? You just went.” but still makes sure we can find a bathroom. (That was the case pre-pregnancy too).

In any case, a line from the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown reminded me of my childhood:

“In my family, being high maintenance was a huge shame trigger, especially for girls. Be easy, fun, and flexible. Need a bathroom break on a road trip? We’ll pull over when we don’t have to cross the highway to get to the gas station. Don’t like what we’re having for dinner? Don’t eat. Carsick? It’s all in your head. Unfortunately, being low maintenance also meant not asking for what you needed and never inconveniencing anyone.” Page 100

I cannot tell you how many times I was told by my dad that it was all in my head. I remember one summer we were told we needed to shuck about 6 dozen ears of corn. We would buy a large quantity when it was the end of the season, shuck them and then freeze them for the rest of the year. Supposedly it still tasted just the same (but corn was just corn to me). I vividly remember sitting on the front porch step, making a mess of all the remnants when I felt a sharp pain in my thumb. I look down and my thumb is covered in blood. Now, I have a very high pain tolerance, but I have NO tolerance for seeing blood (mine or anyone else’s). I yell for my dad and we go inside. As he is rinsing it off we realize there is a piece of glass in my thumb. It must have been in the soil and grown in with the corn husk. We get it out and I literally pass out from all the blood. When I am back and normal again my dad basically tells me it is all in my head and that I am a wuss. Seriously.

That and many other situations throughout my childhood made me not ask for help, and honestly it is hard for me to do so today. I did what I could to not be high maintenance, to figure it out on my own, and not be in the way. It was easier that way. However, I do not plan to raise my son that way. I want him to use his words, and speak up — whether he is high maintenance or not. I want him to be just who he is without being squashed by the judgements of others. Is that too much to ask for?

Random recipe: Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

I never used to enjoy eating my vegetables. They were always so gross to me. My mom usually purchased frozen or canned vegetables and then I truly think she pulverized them. Overcooked, often with added vinegar (um gross), and if lettuce at all it was usually iceberg. I do not blame her, maybe it was all she knew. I was that girl in college that basically ate cereal at every meal, or anything white (mashed potatoes, corn, pasta) — you get the point.

Until Chris.

Yes, Chris changed my vegetable consuming life. Let me just say we rarely have frozen vegetables, and other than canned tomatoes for a potential recipe, I do not think we ever have canned vegetables. Fresh. Always fresh. We live in the perfect state to enjoy local farmers and their tasty bounty. I now crave vegetables, and make sure to have them during each meal of the day.

For at least the last five years I have consumed a green smoothie for breakfast. Usually it is this fruit version, or this chocolate yummy goodness. Lately though we’ve wanted to try new options to put in the rotation. Every version we have must contain spinach or kale. I think of it like having a salad for breakfast without having to masticate every piece. You do not even know you are drinking all the greenness. I found the original recipe on Averie Cooks, but have adapted it to my liking. The pomegranate juice adds a bit of tart in with the sweet blueberries. Oh, and for those of you that are grossed out by adding spinach, you cannot taste the spinach, but you get all the nutrients.

12 ounces frozen blueberries
Large handful of spinach
1 med/large ripe banana
3/4 cup  pomegranate juice (can also try blueberry, grape, cherry)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine all ingredients in an amazing blender (my personal favorite is my trusty Vita-Mix and blend until smooth and creamy.
2. Serve immediately.

Underwear, Fresh Veggies, and Schools

Have you heard the song: “There is more than corn in Indiana?” They were wrong. Growing up in Indiana, the only vegetable I remember having fresh was corn. It took me to the age of 25 to truly adopt vegetables into my diet. Looking back, if I had the experience of truly understanding in a hands on way how our food is grown, and then had the opportunity to bite into that tomato knowing how much work it took to grow it, well my food consuming days might have been different.

I am passionate about the issue of childhood obesity in our country. Last week, I wrote about a show on Our America (on OWN) that airs this week. The episode is called “Generation XXL” and is about health for youths. One of the ways that we can begin to have an impact on childhood obesity is in our local communities. A friend of mine lives in Ojai, CA and is partnering with PACT (an underwear company) and Whole Kids Foundation to raise money for an urban garden at Topa Topa Elementary School. You can watch a bit more about this initiative here:

Hooked? I am! It makes me want to see if there are schools doing this initiative in my area. If you want to start by helping Topa Topa Elementary School with their urban garden you can donate on Indiegogo. Just like the kids in the video say, you can donate $200, or $500, or if more people get involved then $10. We need to start in our schools and teach kids where their food comes from, what it takes to create it, what it tastes like when it is real and natural, and to care what they put in their bodies.

Are you in?

You are not a Wuss…

As a child, when I fell down or hurt myself my dad always told me to get up and buck up, that I was strong, and to brush it off.

I remember one time that I will never forget (and yes this story might sound strange). We were shucking dozens and dozens of ears of corn. I grew up in Indiana and yes the vegetable of Indiana is corn. Lots of it, everywhere. So the one fresh vegetable we always had in abundance was corn. We had a freezer in the garage that housed frozen corn and Icee pops (remember those)! Corn was at the time my favorite vegetable, considering that I disliked all vegetables with a vengeance. Now, things have changed and I rarely eat corn. I kind of think it just goes through you and does not do much for nutritional value. I like the darker, green, leafy vegetables at this stage in my life.

I digress. My sister and I were sitting on the front porch shucking corn ears. We had been through dozens of ears, when I felt a sharp pain in my thumb. There was a piece of glass in the ear of corn. How it got in the corn under the husk, I will never know or understand. I ran inside to put my bleeding thumb under the kitchen sink to clean it. I then passed out and was on the floor of the kitchen.

My dad comes into the kitchen where my sister has let him know I have passed out. When I came to I was completely freaking out about my thumb. It hurt a lot and was still bleeding and there was still a piece of glass in it. Once my dad gets the glass out, he sort of yells at me to stop being a baby. I think I always felt like he was yelling at me, and maybe he was, but now I wonder if he just wanted me to be strong. Compared to his capacity for pain as a contractor (nails in fingers, fiberglass, etc) this was nothing. To me it was such a big deal. To this day I dislike shucking corn.

So dad, while I did not appreciate it then, I appreciate your constant urging to be strong and to not cry over spilled milk or some blood. Although still to this day I pass out if I see too much blood. Some things never change, but some things do make us stronger.

me and my dad at my high school graduation