Thursday, January 31, 2013


When I am still, I am usually sleeping. During the few quiet waking moments you will find me reading or playing on my iPhone or laptop. Life these days doesn’t include much of watching TV.  But when I do, my favorite shows are Modern Family, any reality singing show and the Ellen show—always viewed on DVR.  Most of my time during the day is spent in motion. 

I spend too much time on my iPhone, watching a whole lot of nothing.  I’m working on this, as I feel like I miss a lot of life going on right in front of me.  When I am present in the moment I watch people, mostly my kids.

I watch Ava and Carson interact, Ava teaching her little brother about life.  Sometimes she is directing more than teaching but she is sharing with Carson how things work.

I watch Ava and realize how much more she knows than I thought. 

I watch her calibrate her voice and place in this world. A myriad of emotion and expression as she chooses the few moments when she will hold back.   

I watch her defiantly do things differently than I would, as she carves out the space around her that is intended to separate us. 

I watch her intentionally align herself, trying to be just like me (which can sometimes be frightening).

I watch her eyes and many expressions as they tell everything.

I watch her doubt and question the grey realities of life I can’t explain.

Sometimes, when I catch her dancing or making faces in the mirror—I watch her gaining confidence.

I watch her navigate her acute sense of empathy when she recognizes someone needs it.

I watch her lose complete control when she is filled to the brim with excitement (a favorite of mine).

With each new discovery, I watch her search for a place where each piece of the puzzle will fit.

I watched her sleep for a bit the other night.  Six years later she looks just as she did on the amazing 3-D ultra sound when she was inside me--her eyes, closed and quiet, her button nose and those tiny lips.  In sixteen years, when I look at her, somehow I believe this is still what I will see.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I read boxes, I read labels, and I dissect recipes, to make them Ava friendly.  Then I worry about whether it’s going to taste good.  My relationship with food and cooking dramatically changed after I discovered Ava’s life threatening food allergies.  Cooking went from this potential place of expressive creativity to very analytical and scientific as I struggled to understand every component of each ingredient.  No dairy, no egg, no nuts.  Fear joined us like an unwanted guest at mealtime; cooking became an even greater nuisance. This isn’t how it has always been.

With all the exposure to cooking, it’s a wonder how I’ve escaped an innate love for it.  My mom and Va (grandma in Portuguese) are amazing in the kitchen; they are on the center stage of every big holiday meal production.  They are why I love to eat.  I have many memories of overconsumption, especially during the holidays.  Tradition is to cook and cook for days in preparation of a feast large enough to feed a small village. Our holidays include the faces of friends or new acquaintances-- this is what I love about my family--if you need a place to celebrate, you are welcome at our table and there will always be more than enough.

I’ll take dessert over dinner any day of the week, eating is still one of my favorite things to do.  I’ve learned to cook vegan, without nuts, and enjoy the precision of vegan baking over cooking.  Cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and bread—the vegan recipes are delicious and nearly indistinguishable from the real deal—(and saving me from robbing my kids of memories around baking together).  For now, Isa Chandra Moskowitz inspires me; she’s an amazing vegan cook.

I like to keep it safe and predictable so the grocery store isn’t very exciting for me, however, Eugene is the perfect place to live for enjoying the flavors of fresh, local, organic produce and I am grateful for all that is available to us. 

I will buy more vegan cookbooks and experiment with new recipes in search of inspiration.   As I continue to cook more out of obligation than personal enjoyment, I’m not the only one in our house hoping this is just a phase.