Monday, January 29, 2007

joys of the day

Hells bells, but I need chocolate. I think someone cosmic looked at my calendar and decided that it was laughably laid back, so today was a compilation of three, perhaps four days. Certainly enough happened today to have been happily spread out over a number of days...cetainly I'll spend that long catching my breath.

Two days ago, the Man turned to me and said, 'It sounds silly, but I'm a little worried. The Toddles used to have a 'da-da' sound months ago, and he isn't making one now.' I laughed, and told him to be patient.

Yesterday, the Toddles pointed to a photo of a baby and said, 'bay-bie!' I agreed. He pointed to his father and said, 'Da-die!' I agreed. His poleaxed father was too overwhelmed with love to appreciate the comic timing.

Since then, the little one has been pointing and naming, repeating words, producing them at a furious pace. Finally, we've begun serious language acquisition and use! This is almost as much fun as the parrot phase, except that sentences are now looming in the Toddles' be followed nearly immediately by his first verbalized argument. He is, of course, fully capable of arguing with us now, irrespective of his linguistic skills. Natch.

Which takes us to today. Today, which the Toddles spent combining his new words or word variants in interesting ways, which skill we decided to take out on the town by taking Mary Jr to the clinic, for which we were amply rewarded by having the Toddles admired by any number of slightly infectious undergraduates. Whoops.

Still, the little guy had fun. Life is good in his world right now, with the Eldest learning ways to play with him successfully (games that have the Eldest shouting, 'no!' and bodily hauling the kid from place to place do NOT count). This, of course, makes things rosier in my world, making me more relaxed, flexible - I even got a hug when I picked up the (typically recalcitrant) Eldest from preschool today. Damn.

And tonight we invented By George Pizza, offspring of the By George, I Think We've Got it Bread. The Toddles declined this offering, but the Eldest nearly ate the whole pizza. Mouth full, he talked excitedly about other incarnations for this 'za (more olives, less basil, more sauce), and wistfully about being able to eat it at school. You got it, kid.

Balance, of course, is necessary. So, the universe served up a dose of new allergy mom, a woman I know to be sane from the hemophilia e-lists, who was shocked to see the number of her son's diagnoses double. And after a mild anaphylactic reaction, no less. I resisted the urge to list, pettily, my kids' allergies, because I remember this: she's at sea, shocked and worried. It really doesn't matter whose list is bigger or smaller at this point, what really matters is the throwing of the life preserver. Irrespective of how fine she is going to be or how pissy I'm feeling, it's only fair to let her be shocked and appalled and frightened for her child, without undercutting that process by minimizing the source of her fears.

Which is why I did not mention that today I had a meeting in which the Eldest's nursery-preschool told me that they cannot have the Toddles in their school next year. The class he'd've been in has the highest ratio of teachers per student, all loving, experienced folks. One teacher, grandmother to an allergic child, queen of the school kitchen, and the person who made sure that there were two kinds of milk in the Eldest's class - dairy and soy - finally looked at me and said, 'if it were my child, I'd be scared to send him. The little ones are unpredictable and fast. There's no way we could keep him from getting someone else's lunch in the face.'

Having seen the little buggers move (my little bugger included), I had to agree. We decided that while this was true of the tinies (15 mo - 2yr9mo) the same did not hold true for the following class (2 yr 9mo - 4 yr). Which means that there will be no school for the Toddles next year. the Man and I have said, over and over, that if any school could do it, this one could. They are so child-centered, fall so easily in love with their children, and have performed feats of organization and adaptation for the Eldest - all of which pale in comparison to what would need to be done for the Toddles.

Which cannot, as it turns out, be done at all. Which means that my dissertation will struggle haplessly for another year, which means that once again, allergies will dictate our family life - and mine, above all. Drop into the mix my mother, panicking over an upcoming visit, apparently paralyzed to do anything without me and still, still unable to remember whether anyone is allergic to tree nuts (the Eldest - he's anaphylactic), and I'm so glad I kept my mouth in lock-step with my brain while talking to this new mum, while my psyche was frothing at the mouth and shrieking unprintables.

She'll be fine. And eventually, so will I. But first, I intend to kick some pillows and rant a bit. (No, this didn't count as ranting. See 'unprintable' comment.) Some days, balance sucks. But pizza's always good...


By George Pizza
makes one cookie tray-full of pizza, roughly enough for three hungry people.

2 cups gluten-free flour mix (this is the same mix from the By George Bread, so make extra and use it for either. Keep extra in fridge in airtight container/ziploc. 2 parts white rice flour, 2/3rds part potato starch flour, 1/3rd part tapioca flour)
2 Tb sugar
2 tsp guar gum/xanthan gum (note: xanthan gum can have traces of corn)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1 cup milk/soy milk. Warm 1.5 minutes in microwave.
2 Tb veg oil
2 flaxgel subs (2 Tb flaxmeal/ground flaxseed + just under 1/2 cup water, zapped in microwave 1 min 30 seconds, more or less, let cool a bit) or 2 eggs
1 tsp rice vinegar or other mild vinegar

Assemble dry ingredients. Mix. Turn oven on to 350 F.
Make up egg subs in microwave, warm milk. Add those and other wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
Using a cake mixer, mix. Then, beat on high for 2 minutes. Turn oven off.
Pour dough into a greased container, put into oven for 30 minutes.

Pull the risen dough out of the oven. Spray with cooking spray a cookie sheet and a rolling pin. (I prefer a nonstick, resuable baking sheet that I lay right down on the tray, and don't have to grease. Use the greased rolling pin to gently spread the dough out. Since I'm a klutz, I roll it directly onto the tray. Turn oven on to 450.

Bake at 450F for 15-20 minutes. It will go golden brown, a bit darker around the edges. Pull out, add toppings, bake some more - I was in a hurry tonight, so I zapped it under the broiler for about 8 minutes, on the lower rack. The goal is to bake the crust with the first baking (pre-sauce, since gluten free breads are notorious for going soggy), then to heat the sauce and toppings with the second baking.

Enjoy, but don't linger too long in the kitchen after you put this on the table - the Man was working late tonight, and came home to a paltry pair of slices remaining...Heh.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

demented rabbits and contented toddlers

Well, more bleeding and more cautery. This time, with the Eldest watching curiously. So, when the ENT asked me, worriedly, 'Are you okay?' The correct answer was a cheery, 'yup!' Ignoring, of course, the feeling like the inside of my nose was on fire.

The lidocaine, it seems, had not quite worked. Quite.

Again, with an eye towards snuggling platelets, the ENT shoved a bit of something up my nose. Placed somewhat differently than the first bit of platelet snuggling, this bit of whateveritis itches. I find myself twitching my nose, and looking a bit like a demented rabbit. Yay, me. I had dinner tonight with a superb listener, who not only let me rattle on for hours, but didn't laugh at my ridiculous nose-dance. A lady with a certain amount of aplomb, that one.

My Samantha-esque twitching gives me a slightly vague, distracted look that contrasts nicely with the Toddles' latest behavior patterns: from a vague, guess-what's-irking-the-child, we know have the Definitive Communicator. He is clear as to his wishes, tidies up after himself, and brooks no fluthering about by his parents. (This is the place where people remind me that the second one is easier. This is also the place where I laugh at them. What is this 'easy' to be -er of?)

Tonight, for example, he woke up and wailed at about 11.30pm. Mind you, he didn't even open his eyes - typically, he sits up and wails, eyes still closed, certain that the grownup of choice will appear. The Man went in and soothed him back to sleep - tried, anyway - but the Toddles shoved the soothing hand away and pointed, clearly, forcefully, down the hall, where I was working. The Man tried again, but again found the paternal hand shoved away as the Toddles began crawling off the bed to go and fetch me.

Accepting defeat, he called me. I went in to the room, lay down and nursed the wee tyrant. Once he was done nursing on one side, he tidily pulled my shirt down, patted me, and pointed. Other side, Mum. I popped him over, he nursed on the other side, and again covered me up when he was done. Tidy little soul, that one. Clear in his needs, focussed, but tidy when done.

I can live with that.

The Eldest had his interview at the school of choice, and looking him with an eye to what a stranger would see, I could see just how far he's regressed, post-bleed. He hid behind me, thumb so far into his mouth that it tickled his tonsils. When invited to go into the kindergarten classroom, he declined, but agreed to peek in through the door. (sound familiar? Yup.)

When asked questions, he declined to respond - insofar as I could see, while I was still in the room. Now, as my friend the rabbi says, is where I start to over-interpret. What did the Director of Admissions see? In his focus on the Lego, to the extent that he didn't respond to her, did she see a child avoiding social interaction? Or does she see a child with tremendous powers of concentration? At one point, she asked him to write his name. I couldn't stop myself - here was a child who can log the date and the names of the veins that are used for his infusions. I jumped in and told her so, and then worried that I seemed like I was bragging.

I was. But what did she see? Did she see the hiding child, or the external view? Can she sift through the anxious child behaviors to see him? I have to trust that she did. I hate having to do that. In fact, i'm thinking of ruthlessly using the medical pow-wow to do a little PR, a little spin...I just can't stop myself.

But still, how many kids can draw you a picture of a fibrin net? Or name the veins in their arm and hand? Or backseat poke? The kid likes to give advice to people doing the vein poke, it's hilarious. (I think you are to the left of the vein. Did you advance the needle? try wiggling it a bit. Maybe it's positional?) The kid's just that cool, and I think the Director of Admissions should know that. Hell, I think there should be billboards on the Mass Pike letting folks know that, but that might be one of those maternal bias things I keep hearing about.


Finally, I got to meet one of my favorite authors, Guy Gavriel Kay, tonight at the Vericon. I never go to fantasy/scifi conventions (or 'cons,' as they are apparently called), but magid wisely hauled me to this one. Magid found the listing for the talk, bought my badge, acquired the as-yet not released book by Kay, and managed to maneuver all three (badge, book and me) to Harvard campus. She even showed up Saturday afternoon, before the talk, to make sure I wasn't trying to hide in my burrow.

And I didn't. Kay talked about the role of fantasy, as he sees it, and it was clear that he's a bit of a crusader. Disturbed by the lack of awareness that we have of our own history, Kay uses history as a base for his fantasy. Through the lens of fantasy, historical moments are universalized, he points out, making them more accessible to we modern, era-centric types. And thereby more easily used as a tool to analyze the present.

This smacks strongly of an argument that I've made to my own students, when teaching medieval literature. I tell them to treat it like a kind of fantasy, to picture an era that's different from ours, different enough that we create our own fantasies trying to imagine it, because we can't possibly get it exactly right. Can you imagine believing that an old fingerbone in a cathedral could cure you? Or, if you were a cynic, knowing that the majority of people believed that? I can tell them that there was an amazing paucity of objects, by our modern standards, but they don't understand it, they merely accept the words as something to parrot back on essays and exams. Invite them to imagine a room without the easy clutter of a machine-made material culture, with one cup per person, and they start to get it. Imagination, and specifically fantasy is a wonderful tool to get a person to accept difference, to loosen up and look calmly outside of their network, or pattern of known definitions and understandings. And my vague invitation to my students, trying to shake up their faith in academic teachings, their ethnocentricity, pales in comparison to Kay's precise, detail-careful narrative.

Fun, above all, to actually meet the man! And I am looking forward to settling down with Ysabel, his latest book, and a good cup of tea. Until 3 a.m., of course...

The SIL has issued a challenge: can I come up with a good birthday cake for the Niece's party? Here's my first attempt, an adaptation of an adaptation. I just hope the Niece likes blueberries! (Note to self: test the recipe sans fruit)

A Girl's Gotta Have...Cake
serves 6-8 happy cake eaters

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
4 eggs or 4 Tb ground flaxseed (flaxmeal) + 1/2 c water, zapped in microwave and let cool. should be thick, plus 1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder (gluten free folks, check for corn!)
1 cup white rice flour
2/3 cup sour cream or 2/3 cup Tofutti cream cheese (contains corn) or 2/3 cup plain soy yogurt (some contain corn, be careful - currently, Silk yogurt seems not to trouble either of my boys). If you use the dairy free options, add 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
4 TB lemon juice (in a pinch, it's okay to mix lemon and orange juice)
zest of 1 lemon. Oranges work fine, too
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup blueberries (frozen are fine)

Blend margarine/butter and sugar. Add eggs/egg sub.s, and blend. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Whip with cake mixer for 2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or spray with cooking spray a 8 by 8 baking pan. Note: this recipe might also work with a bundt pan, I simply have bad luck with those - my cakes crumble when I try to remove them, proving that I am more cook than baker. Also, beware! This cake will rise, unlike lots of gluten free baked goods. It'll fall a bit, too, but make sure the pan can hold it while it rises.

Pour batter into prepared pan. bake 50-60 minutes. Middle will fall, don't worry about it. Test carefully with toothpick, baking times will vary depending on oven.

Options: these would probably work beautifully as muffins, with about a 20 minute bake time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

oh, jeez. I have to drink that?

Did I say 'end game?' why do I ever say things like 'end game?' It's like the idiot in the horror movies who says, 'I'll be right back.' Oy.

Woke up this morning. Tried to ignore the chaos downstairs and go back to sleep. Failed. Sat up. Tried to fall asleep again (note to self: teach the Toddles to sleep. My bed, his bed, I really don't care at this point). Failed. Pried eyes open, stretched *pop* reached for a tissue and held pressure on the bloody (yes, I intend that pun) nose. Same spot, same side that the ENT cauterized.

Bloody, bloody hell.

An hour and a half later, it stopped. This time, I attached my phone number to the irritated email to the hematologist. She called back and told me not to worry about the platelets and advised Amicar, a secondary medicine that we give the Eldest to control bleeds in the mouth and nose. It is justly famous in the bleeding disorders community for tasting foul, foul, foul. It even has a finish, to borrow the term from the wine snobs, that is equally foul if not worse. Aaaaagh. But it's working. Whaddaya know?

I spent the day feeling vaguely out of place in my own skin. Why are the doctors talking to me about me? Why am I being dosed for bleeding? And - yes, I know there's no segue here, but I'm in a hurry - why oh why am I not surprised that the Eldest is too freaked out by the idea of gymnastics to even want to go? He made it into the room, but sat on the side with the director, too overwhelmed by the running, bouncing little people to participate. I'll take it - my crowd-shy, visually overloading kid made it into the room. Not bad for the boy who won't go to his own birthday party. Next time, maybe he'll join his group of kids on the mat. Maybe.

And on the subject of nothing especially relevant: a refua shlaima (complete recovery) for the MIL! Hoping you are right back to yourself tonight...

Note to self: vegan mayo tastes foul. Should've seen that coming, it's like the difference between butter and margarine, to the nth power. When n is higher than 67. No recipe posting tonight, sorry! But we're still enjoying the By George bread, which is apparently good the next day - a rarity in the vegan, gluten-free world.

Huzzah! The half-cloth diapering is working beautifully. For the past two days, I've collected wet cloth inserts in a nice little bag, hung discreetly in the pantry. Oddly enough, the poop was caught entirely by the flushable inserts, making tonight a real test of our system.

new to the blog? We're cloth/flushable diapering because many standard disposable diapers contain corn. My children are wholly responsible for my ecological virtue, thansk to their allergies. Daily, the Man flees the house for the office, where he eats a PB&J sandwich on wheat bread, and breathes a sigh of relief. It's a wonder that he ever comes home to our gluten/dairy/nut/peanut/sesame/egg/gourd/legume-free home at all.

I had just washed all the cloth and stuffed a diaper cover with fresh cloth inserts - which were promptly pooped on. Now, the point of the little waterproof bag is that one does not have to endure the smell of an unwashed poopy dipe, nor do I have the mental icks from it sitting in the rest of my laundry. No, indeedy, one tosses the poopy object into the little bag, to be joined by other, similarly soiled objects.

but how does it smell, over the pair of days between entry into the bag and removal for washing? To stack the deck in my favor, I dripped a little tea tree oil onto a rag and dropped it in. Tea tree has some antibacterial properties, but mostly is a nice, pleasing (and strong!) scent. Let the poop and the tea tree battle it out - I'm curious as to the results.

Three days later: no stink, and I have enough diapers wet/dirty to wash. Hurrah! The system works. I could use about six more cloth inserts so as to be able to go longer between loads of laundry, but all in all, we have a functioning system.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

one, two, three, zap!

After a morning of doctorish stuff with the Eldest, I found myself managing the end game of a surprising situation: me.

On Friday, I had the poor taste to sneeze. My nose, instantly offended, popped a wee vessel, beginning a bleed/clot/bleed cycle that escalated, turned into a bleed/ooze/bleed cycle on Sunday, and ended in an irritated email from me to the hematologists on Monday.

Finally, I found out why I have been politely managed (but not quite dismissed) by my hematologist: she was being patient with me because, according to the computer, she had a clotting level for me of 55% factor VIII, the protein missing in the Eldest. (Normal levels for factor VIII range from 50-150%) Equally polite, I reminded her that this was a level taken after a dose of medicine intended to boost my levels. She chewed this over and wrote back that now she was concerned, and gosh, that was a rather paltry response to the boosting med (DDAVP, for those who care). Ya think? A stomach full of blood from the bleeding dripping down my throat, and that was happening how, with those 'normal' levels? But at least she came around - and gracefully.

I ended up today in the office of an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doc recommended by my beloved primary care doc. He was a sweet, funny guy who really, truly listened, and didn't laugh at me for whining about a silly nosebleed. Okay, nosebleeds. And let me tell ya, anyone who is going to use the word 'cautery' had better have a few jokes handy, because the very concept brings to mind hot pokers and the smell of, well, you know.

On the other hand, maybe if you spend your days looking up people's noses, you need a few jokes. Wonder what the gastroenterologists' chatter is like?

Well, the guy took a look up me nose and said, 'Oh, the right side is the bleeder, is it?' Nope, I said, it's the left that's causing the trouble. He poked his little metal thing in there and whistled. 'I'd have laid money on the right. Wow.' He scratched his head. 'Well, let's pick our battles. We'll work on the left today, but the right side, I don't know, it has granular tissue - proud flesh - and may not respond to cautery. May need surgery. But let's start with cautery.' I blinked. Cautery? Proud flesh? Sounds a little fire and brimstone-ish. He patted my shoulder, reassurringly. 'One step at a time,' he said. I blinked again and agreed.

One mercifully lidocained procedure later, he shoved a bit of something up my nose. 'It's a matrix for the platelets to snuggle up to,' he told me. 'Helps build the clot.' Ah. I'm all for platelets, I told him. He thought this over. Deadpan, he said, 'I'm all for snuggling.'

Well, apparently I was wrong - I appear to have mixed feelings about platelets. I got home and my primary doc called. Looking over a couple years of test results, she could see that my platelet levels are consistently low. Would I mind coming in for bloodwork? I tried not to laugh. This, I felt, is what comes of being taken seriously. A little too seriously for convenience, actually...

What I should have told the ENT is that the Toddles is stuffy and miserable with cold # 726. And what the Toddles has, the Mama catches. Poor poots, the Man said, eyeing me. You can just tell from looking at you that you really, really want to blow your nose. Oh, I do. And I ah-ahh-ahh-choooo. Damnit.

platelets or no platelets, proud or humbled flesh, we at least have bread.

By George, I Think We've Got it Bread (gluten-free, vegan)

adapted from an adaptation of Bette Hagman's rice bread. This has to be my best yet - I got a 'are you sure this isn't wheat' from my gluten-eating brother. And a 'That was the good bread!' then a couple of days later, 'Mum, I want more of the good bread. Can we make more?' from my highly tolerant Eldest.

2 cups flour mix (2 parts white rice flour, 2/3rds part potato starch flour, 1/3rd part tapioca flour - do these as cups/fractions of cups and bag the extra. Refrigerate extra flour mix in a sealed container.)
1/3rd cup white sugar
2 tsp guar gum or xanthan gum
1 cup milk or milk subsitute (soy milk works well), warmed in microwave. About a minute and a half will do fine
1 tsp salt
1 TB yeast
2 TB veg oil
2 eggs or 2 flaxgel egg substitutes (2 TB flaxmeal, just under 1/2 cup water. Zap in microwave until thickened. Let cool.)
1 tsp rice or white vinegar

Assemble dry ingredients. Mix. Turn oven to 250F. Add wet ingredients, mix briefly, then mix on high for 3 minutes - don't use a whisk/egg beater, a flat cake mixer or dough hook is best. Turn off oven. Pour dough into a greased bowl, and put into oven for 30 minutes.

Pull out of oven, and turn oven on to 375 F. Pour dough (okay, dump dough) into a greased tin/two greased loaf pans. The dough will look lumpy and unprofessional - ignore it. Cover it with a tea towel (a.k.a dishtowel for you Yanks) and put it in a warm spot for about 2o minutes.

Bake at 375 F for 45-50 minutes, or until the bread is browned on top. Enjoy!

Monday, January 22, 2007

of games and families

As some of you know, the Eldest loves games. Board games, card games, sports, puzzles. An especial favorite of his is Monopoly.

Some of you may also know that my family is Australian. We came to the US of A when I was a little tyke, leaving behind a small tribe - no, check that, a large, teeming horde - of family. The Eldest has been to visit this horde (it's a friendly horde) twice now, the Man only once.

These two bits of information fit together here: Hasbro is creating an Australian Monopoly, and is letting people vote for which state should be in the navy blue slots (Boardwalk, Park). Hint: my family is from, go vote!

On the subject of Australia, I'm enjoying a fellow Aussie's blog. Jason Graham-Nye is the co-founder, together with his wife, of gDiapers. I've added a link to his blog to my list of things I read. It's a nice mix of entrepeneurism, daddy blog, environmentalism and okay, possibly a wee bit of PR for his product. Which I'm unabashedly happy with. You should see the Toddles' tush in the hawaiian print!

The gDiapers are working out beautifully with us. At home, we switch off between g-flushable inserts and cloth ones, depending on how the laundry's going. Easy, peasy. And yes, when we're out and about we commit the eco-sin of disposable diapers, but what the hey. Taken all together, it works, and it works in style...literally! Happy, happy am I.

Today, we did some more NAET testing and treatment. The Eldest is not reactive to the egg mix, vit C, vit B or calcium mixes, but was reactive to the sugar mix. Huh. Well, the stuff does affect him, though I wouldn't call it an allergic reaction! Having been treated, NAET-style, for sugar sensitivity, he is now off sugar for 25 hours. So, no fruit, no honey, no sugars of any kind (there goes cereals), no sweetened soy milk (he won't touch the other kind), etc, etc, etc. Oy.

The Toddles sailed through the egg mixture, having already been treated for it, and was negative to the calcium and vit C mixes. He was, however, sensitive to the vitamin B mix - something that shows up in a lot of whole grains. So, no whole grains for him for 25 hours, no fruits, no veggies (except cauliflower), no dairy....oy. Again.

Given my rule of everybody eats one dinner, this was a challenge. So, then, here's what we had for dinner:

Pasta Alla Prima
serves 6

1 lb soybean/rice pasta
1 bunch spinach
4 large cloves garlic
olive oil
1 can tuna (avoiding those in vegetable broth, thanks to a tip from W)
Greek black olives
1/5 English cucumber, sliced.

3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
2 sprigs fresh dill
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Blend in food processor until frothy.

meanwhile, cook pasta in lots of water. Do not overcook! No matter what the package says, gluten free pastas are ruthless about their cooking times.

When pasta is done, saute garlic and tuna in pan with olive oil. When garlic is browned a bit, toss in spinach leaves, turn off heat and stir until spinach is just barely wilted and bright green. Immediately, toss all together (pasta, sauce, tuna mixture, olives, cucumber) and serve. Watch small people go back for enthusiastic thirds.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

a whole lot of five..and two days...or possibly three

I've been happily reading doulicia (hey, doulicia, I want a footbath, too!) only to look up and realize that four friends have produced their fourth children. Yowza. And welcome! to the new wee ones.

But, lest I neglect the young sprouts in my own home, let me fold a long-overdue Eldest birthday post into today's mumblings.
More to the point, however: The Eldest is five years old.

His birthday was on Sunday, which was a big family fest, complete with presents from everybody - hey, you - did you think I didn't notice? From everybody. The kid got loot, folks. And yes, I'm being extremely ungracious about this. Sigh. I had such hopes for this sort of thing, but I'm being defeated, year after year. I do so worry that he'll think that celebrations are defined by the stuff folks give you, rather than the folks themselves. It is very, very important to me that he value people for more than their gifting potential, that he see the significance of Grams and Gramps driving all the long long way from wherever to be there. The long drive (or, in the case of the j.i.c, the long flight with opinionated wee one) and the significance of that effort should not be overlooked for paper wrapped boxes. Oy. As I said, ungracious.

Happily, the birthday party wasn't all about 'what did you bring me?' We had a present swap, which went well (though I did have to explain that, no, the kids shouldn't open their presents at the party, lest comparisons happen - and go badly).

The kids made masks, paperbag puppets, joy painted small wriggly faces, and we had a sweet show where one by one, the smalls popped out of a curtain, bowed (were applauded) and then popped back in. Then, all emerged, sang "Happy Birthday" (I was reasonably confident that this they all knew), and were again enthusiastically applauded. There was glitter everywhere, and we're still finding bits in odd places. But it was good. Chaotic, tiring, but good. The food was good, too.

My thanks to all who contributed, whether in presence or in effort. Although next year, perhaps we might do without the sparklers?
Here is the Eldest's take on being five:

[name removed] is my friend, even though he hits me. I still love him. pause. Next time he hits me, I'll take him over to a bench, and we'll sit down. I'll say, 'let's figure out what we need to do to stop the hitting.' If a teacher comes over and tries to fix it, I'll say, 'no thanks! We're all right - we're going to figure this one out on our own.' Because that's what five year olds do.

I love that kid. He's something else. And, when I was busy oohing and ahhing over the Toddles' ability to, say, drool, he's been growing.

Today, the Eldest started and finished a 300 piece puzzle with me (birthday loot, no less), working steadily for nearly two hours on the thing. It was a wisely chosen puzzle, one of the galaxy, and the Eldest kept breaking off work to shout, oh! That's [obscure astronomical object]! I'd nod and continue talking about matching colors and patterns.

We read - together - When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry, and he was recognizing words, sounding out new ones...finally showing the patience and curiosity needed to start reading.

Why am I surprised? This pattern analysis explains a lot about how he nailed me with this zinger, a week ago:
Mummy, I have to stop listening to you.
(me, breaking off, mid-enthuse) why?
Because you are talking too fast. (thoughtful pause) You also talk too fast when you are angry, and now my ears are tired of listening to you talk like that.
Hmm. I suppose I do talk quickly when I'm excited or when I'm angry. Thanks for pointing it out to me.
You're welcome. But now I have to turn my ears off.

and now, a wholly random thought:

MacDonald's has got something here: I want a site counter on my breasts, so that I can also say something like, 1 million meals served. Because I'm fairly certain they have been.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

one paycheck later

Well, I haven't lost my touch.

I got my first big paycheck for writing, and the Man and I locked eyes over it. Now, typically, every penny in our cashflow is accounted for even before it hits the bank. We even have a fund for funding the overrun costs on things. Yes, we're those people. But this? this was practically found money.

The Man and I stared at each other. Is it budgeted? no. Do we need it for something? of course (scornful glances) Could I maybe, possibly, play with it a little? (pause) sure.

So I did. One sixpack of cloth diapers, a set of baby legwarmers (here) and an iPod (yes, an iPod) later, I was feeling remarkably wasteful. And contemplating dozens of other purchases, all mildly frivolous. I have to stop now, while I still have a bit of cash left to fund the odd, unexpected pleasure. However, in the midst of my being sensible, I failed to realize that we had entered the Era of the Pod.

Until the iPod, we didn't have music in the house - the MIL/FIL had given us a boombox a while ago, and it had valiantly done duty until, long past it's natural life, it wheezed into silence. Along the way, it scratched a CD or two, to show us it was serious. We believed it.

Now, however, the house is full of music. After a fumbling start, I promptly filled the pod with nearly 2 gig of stuff the Man has on this computer. It didn't occur to me until after I hit 'shuffle' that our tastes in music do not quite overlap. Mostly. But the kids love it, and I'm remembering how nice it is to dance with my boys, to sing, and generally behave like an idiot. Ahhh.

And they're learning, too. At lunch today, the Toddles sand along with the Maine Steiners, to "I'll Be." The Eldest is practicing to be a human beat-box, and he's pretty good, too! "Jeff Fatcher taught me that one," he says when I express pleasure at a nice combination of sounds. Our boy Jeff is, of course, the sound machine behind Rockapella (the Man really, really likes his a capella, thus my pod is stiff with the stuff).

yay for random music. And for the wee speakers, courtesy of a Nome who never knew she had gifted so well.

In other news, the toddles is learning sounds.
A cow says?
moooooo (with emphasis)
A cat says?
moooooooooooo. (pause) miaow. (grin)

And the Eldest is back at school today, limping slightly but delighted. The homecare nurses have pretty much taken over his infusions of clotting protein as his veins get beat up from lots of needles. And today, even they had a rough time.

Three pokes later, the nurse got the meds in, but called me in a fit of guilt. Apparently, my relaxed, amused boy had lost his sense of humor and just wailed. He wailed for the Man, for me - but held still and cooperated nonetheless. The nurse explained that she was trying to let him choose the veins, since he firmly refused to let her use the ones she chose. His picks are, of course, already well-perforated, and thus fragile.

So the Eldest now has a book. In it, he's recording where he gets poked and when, with diagrams in the back to help him identify the veins. So today's entry was:
january 18
Right back hand. Left antecube. Right radial.

The hope is that he'll use this book to pick the least-used veins, a process he understands (I review his treatment log out loud before looking for a vein), but has not managed himself. Harrumph. If he insists on being empowered, the little so-and-so, we will show him how to use his power for good, hmm?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

promises, promises

The Eldest is walking. Limping, true, but walking nonetheless. It has taken 5,500 units of clotting protein to get him there, and to protect this recovery we will use about 2000 more. At just over $1 a unit. Oh, my. Now is the time to fish out one of those banal lines about not putting a pricetag on health, because otherwise some insurance person, some HR person is going to blanch and clutch at their chest. No, wait, our new health care plan indicates that they've already done so. Well, phooey to them. The kid walked upstairs and used the bathroom by himself today, for which feat we are all appropriately grateful. And slightly inappropriately grateful, but that aside. And, having been a holy terror yesterday - and a wonderful, delightful presence today (balance? strategy? what happened there?), we're ready for his return to school. Yes, "we."

So, given the fledgling state of peace, I celebrated tonight with Ian's green curry. Normalcy Chez Imperfect usually involves a happy Mama in the kitchen and mild indigestion from over-indulging. Making this a good moment to pause our medical drama to bring you this word from our tummies:

I've been promising to post these recipes, so with two sleeping boys (one on Benadryl but hey, nobody's...perfect....) and one extremely relieved mama, here we are:

for the local I'm-not-a-bride Canadian. Or possibly her mum.

Honey Yogurt Rolls
adapted from Bette Hagman's The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread. Makes 24 rolls.

1.5 c. brown rice flour
1.25 c tapioca starch
.75 c. sorhum flour
3 tsp guar gum
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer (note: newer boxes of the Egg Replacer are made on machinery that also makes products with nuts. Check for warning labels!)
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
optional: 2 tsp dried lemon peel
.5 c sugar

Mix together in a bowl. In another bowl, mix:
5 flaxgel eggs ( 5 Tb ground flaxmeal + 1 c water, mixed and heated in a shallow bowl until bubbling. Let cool - should have the viscousness of egg white), or 4 eggs and 2 egg whites
6 Tb veg oil
2 Tb honey
1 tsp vinegar (gluten free folks should avoid white vinegar - made from wheat!)
1.5 c soy yoghurt (many brands contain corn - we use Silk, which has a corn derivative that the Toddles tolerates well)
.66 c water, more or less

Mix wet ingredients, then add to dry. (Note: I often just dump the wet into the dry, but suspect that I'd get a lighter bread if I followed Bette's directions. You choose.) Beat on high with cake mixer for 3 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 F. Grease/spray with cooking spray two muffin trays. Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake 21-22 minutes, muffins will look slightly overdone but should be lovely.

These are good the next day, but need to be (briefly) zapped in the microwave after two days.


for me mum, whose husband foolishly said he liked it:

Chicken with Dried Fruit
adapted from Almost Vegetarian Entertaining, pg 163. Serves 4-5 happy eaters.

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed with flat of a knife, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tb ground cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground coriander
1 chicken, cut into 8ths
2 healthy slugs white wine (.5 c)
.5 cup water
fistful or so dried apricots (more can't hurt)
.5 cup prunes/dried plums (depending on the local PR for the product)
salt and black pepper to taste

In a pan, saute onion and garlic until onions crisp around the edges. Add remaining ingredients, excepting chicken. Stir briefly, deglazing pan, then set aside.

Clean chicken, removing excess fat. Set into casserole, pour spice and onion mixture over the top. Bake at 425 F for 45-60 minutes. Reheats nicely.

Go get him, Mum. Make him (heh) eat his words.


Gluten-Free Playdough
this is really nice and flexible - and quick to make! I'm very happy with it.

1.5 cups potato starch
.5 cup rice flour
2 cups water
1 cup salt
2.5 Tablespoons oil

mix all ingredients in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat. Stir until dough begins to solidify (about 3-5 minutes).
Place in a large plastic bowl to cool. When cool to the touch, divide into portions and put in a ziploc bag. Add food coloring and have children knead the bag until dough is evenly colored.
Store covered in the refrigerator for about a month. Best when used at room temperature.

inhale, exhale

The right leg is still over an inch bigger than the left, but the swelling is going down. By a full half-inch since last night.

What does this mean? It means that the Eldest is no longer bleeding into the muscle, that the clotting meds are (finally!) working, and that his body is starting to reabsorb the old blood that is sitting in the muscle. It means the start of a determined, fragile recovery. I ditched the hematology fellow ( fellow = specialist-in-training) and yanked the local hemophilia expert (a.k.a. hemophilia attending) onto the case. He immediately prescribed large, whopping doses of clotting meds through Thursday, rest and no school for most - if not all - of the week. And physical therapy. While my psyche cringes slightly at trying to keep the Eldest sitting down for another 2-3 days, it's a small price to pay. Oh, thank heavens. It's working. We're not going to be hospitalized, he's going to be fine.

I think I'm a little more sympathetic to my brother right now, who infuriated me beyond belief when he told me that his wife's third, easy conception and his two post-utero healthy children are signs of God's existence. (see here for my ire) And what about my not-easy conceptions, my healthy-by-my-definition children - they are evidence for what, exactly? And yet, with the Eldest's well being returning, I feel the urge to do something similar.

I want to point to the Shabbat, and say look! The day of rest truly was such for him, he recovered and regrouped on the shabbat. Aha! Thus the value of the shabbat is proven, via my personal lens.

I have long since been cured of the desire to point to God and say, oho! He gave the child a test that could be overcome, that He is just in the hurdles He places before us. Maybe She is, maybe he/thon/it isn't, but I know well how easy it is to make the divine into a scapegoat and triumphing hero in my personal dramas - and that this way lie problems when the path be not so smooth.

The divine, karma, the cosmic force du jour - these are explanations, excuses, and today I understand my brother's urge to turn and point to them as the givers of order. He's still a little snot, of course. Just a better understood one.

Not for me. I think I'll keep my focus on the human level right now: the resilience of the child, the patience of the parents, the care and curiosity of the sibling. And I'll tell you a story:

This bleed has been a tremendous opportunity for the Toddles. Typically knocked off his feet (literally) by his energetic, athletic sibling, the Toddles was finally able to keep pace with his big brother these past few days. It's wonderful. The Eldest, after some thought, turned the Toddles into his personal assistant, which role the little guy took on with enthusiasm. It reminded me strongly of the Sorceror's Apprentice in the movie Fantasia - like Mickey Mouse, the Eldest didn't know how to turn off his enchantment, either. So the Toddles would bring him book after book after book after book...but the Eldest found it in himself to smile and say, 'nothankyou,' and carefully put the book on a steadily growing stack. The little one would offer up his gap-toothed grin, and go off for another book while I giggled in the corners.

And on and on. And then.

Friday night, after two days of enforced, painful resting, we went to another family for Shabbat dinner. This was a thing of wonder for the Eldest, who'd been out of school since Tuesday at this point, and was feeling the lack of his peers' company. The family who invited us was prepped for our allergies (no peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, poppy, pumpkin, zucchini, beans, dairy, beef, wheat, oats, rye, spelt, barley, corn, egg) and had warned their kids that it was sitting-down games only. Their eldest was so excited that he'd shown his classmates all about his plans to play sitting down. These kids were, of course, also the Eldest's classmates - kids who've seen the Eldest get his clotting meds at school, marveled at their friend's lack of fear of small, sharp needles, but never really understood what it was all for. Right.

We arrived for dinner, and the family gave the Eldest a gold foil crown. You are the king, they told him. If you need something, just tell us, and we'll get it for you! He loved it. And he used his powers wisely. Mostly.

All evening, the child asked (often politely), and other children grinned, ran, fetched. The Toddles, by now wise in the ways of this business, ran and fetched as delightedly as any of the others, while the Eldest sat and glowed.

He saw himself loved. He saw himself valued - not for his athletic ability, for his charisma, for his imagination, for any of the bits that make up the boy, but for himself, for the whole child, abled or not. Following on that, he's been remarkably patient with his limitations, wonderfully accepting.

So, who do I thank? Do I thank God for the gift of community and caring? Or do I thank the family and friends who chose this moment to show the Eldest their affection and willingness to invest energy in him? I think I thank the people. But I thank them knowing that I believe in a divine who sets situations in motion, brings us to places where we can choose, and then lets us choose. Blessed be, then, the choice and those who shape it.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

in haste (with updates)

the sabbath is closing in, and oh, jeez, but I need a shower.

The Eldest has a muscle bleed, which leaped from minor to major. (new to the blog? The Eldest has hemophilia, and you can learn about that here or see another of our experiences with it here.) His right thigh is swelling like a balloon from internal bleeding, and looks wholly unlike the boy-shaped leg on the left. We should rename it Bernard or something, because I'm nearly persuaded that it's a separate entity. Surely the Eldest himself would not countenance such independant, deleterious behaviour - or would he?

A dose of clotting factor yesterday morning just disappeared into the ether, and instead of halting the bleed, the leg swelled steadily, until the child couldn't use it, and even being carried was painful.

This is old school hemophilia - hemo before preventative doses that kept bleeding from starting, before the precisely measured knowledge of how the child's metabolism uses the clotting protein, at each stage of a dose's lifespan. I do not like it one bit.

And nor does he. We've entered the pain control stage of this bleed, and having doubled the dose for today, I'm really really hoping that this will be sufficient to bring this thing to a screeching halt - preferably before the pressure increases to the point that we'll be dealing with nerve damage.

I want to wail. I want to howl. I want to stick my head in the sand and pretend that all is well. Above all, though, I want to trust: my son, his medical team and the Man and I that we will see him through this, that we will see him running and wreaking a boy-style chaos. A rgrim determination is ruling me right now, and I am embracing it. My child will be well. My child will be well. I will not have it any other way.

But not today, not tomorrow.

Update: 1/13/07.
Thank you all for the comments of support! here's a quick state o' the boy:
This morning, the Eldest's leg was still swelling from bleeding overnight, but we seem to have stopped the bleeding. Certainly, the leg's circumference (bleed, meet measuring tape) did not grow between this morning and this evening. So perhaps we've finally worked out the right dosage, and maybe all the ice is helping. Our homecare nurse is not, however, happy with either the progress or the Eldest's rate of improvement. My standards: today he is eating (pain stripped away his appetite Thursday and Friday), he's grumpy about not being able to walk around, and he was able to sleep better last night (less pain). I'll take it.

My biggest fears now are that the doc on call will decide not to give him more clotting factor tomorrow (she said she wouldn't, but that's only the opening salvo), and that without a cushioning level of factor in his system, he'll stress the fragile, healing muscle, and cause a re-bleed. And, most petty, I know that on Friday he has his interview at a school that is being honest about their concerns re:his medical issues. A happy, healthy Eldest will do wonders to set their minds at ease - a drawn, limping Eldest will confirm their worries. Oy.

A member of the bleeding disorder community passed away today. He was a young boy, who died of severe head trauma (bleeding inside the brain). Baruch dayan emet (blessed be the True Judge) - and if He has a moment, I'd like a word.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


This morning, the Toddles had a conversation with me.

To be fair, we've had conversations before, mostly consisting of this:
Oh, is this [food] for me?
*shakes head*
is it for you?
*opens mouth and leans forward*

We repeat this as necessary.

This time, however, it was more the Toddles, trying earnestly to communicate with me. And perhaps it was less of a conversation than a monologue with audience participation - you decide. Here's how it went:

[The Toddles enters the room, holding a book]
[holding up the book] Booh!
[pause, checking to be sure that I'm listening] Bah!
[cocks head] Nah!

Translation: the Toddles came into the room, holding a book. Book! he said. It's a Bartholomew book! He says 'nah!'

I had to agree. Bartholomew (also called 'Ba' in the book) is funny when he says 'nah.'
Later today, the Eldest took a bath. Sternly warned against splashing water, he was testing this boundary by creating big waves. Look, Mum, I'm an earthquake!
I thought it over. He is, you know. But extremely lovable, for all of that.

The past few days have been full of conversations: with the Eldest, about the on-going problem of rough play in the classroom (Mum, we push X and he laughs!), with the school we applied to, with my publisher over my latest column, and with various folks about the grant offered to our synagogue.

While I can see the morass of work that this grant offers, I am temporarily relishing the opportunity to spend some time with some lovely folks, having playdates while doing a quick bit of conferring about some of the hurdles. One such conversation sparked a desire to reinvent some of my wheat-based pasta recipes, only to discover that no such reinvention is needed. Here it is below! Time to dig out the rest of the book.

I must confess that all of this conversing has inspired nothing more than a desire to stay home. Quietly. I enjoy my social opportunities when I get them, but I feel somewhat overwhelmed by too many nights out working, meeting, writing. It's not stress, it's the overuse of a typically underused social muscle.

Just in time for the Eldest's birthday bash, which metamorphosed from 'you can invite one child per year, sweets,' into a big family affair. Yowza.

Hmm. Maybe I'll serve the pasta?
Cranberry Pasta
serves 6. Adapted slightly from James McNair's Cold Pasta.

1 bag pasta - if gluten free, use Tinkyada pasta. Be warned: the frilly shapes tend to fall apart with the slightest provocation. I recommend the sturdy shapes: penne, elbows, etc.

just under 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
4-5 Tb fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp cumin, ground
1 and 1/2 tsp tumeric
sea salt
fresh pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh, chopped mint OR 1 TB dried crumbled mint
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3-4 chopped scallions
optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, pine nuts (when feeding Imperfects, omit or use peanut-free sunflower seeds)

Cook pasta, then pour into a colander. Rinse briefly under water, then toss with sauce.

Note: this pasta looks very pretty, with the red cranberries, the green herbs and the yellow sauced pasta. Serve it for any occasion and watch guests ooh and ahh.

Monday, January 01, 2007

come, let us discuss them

o come let us discuss them
o come let us discuss them
the baby's butt.

Yup, we're back to diapers. Poop, pee and the disposal thereof. And apparently my brain is still playing Christmas music. Huh. But before we talk tushie, a little Torah.

Tonight we ate felafel. To be fair, it was tofu-based, rather than chickpea (those pesky legume allergies, dontcha know), but the Toddles had four. The Eldest ate five? six? The combined beautifully with a classic Israeli salad and curried celery soup. But more on that later.

We talked about felafel and Israel, and building your own felafel with the felafel, pita, lettuce, cubed cucumber and impossibly sweet tomatoes, pickles and french fries. And tehini. Oh, and amba, a sort of pickled mango sauce. Ahhh. Perfection.

Thinking of Israel reminded the Eldest that he wanted the Man to tell us the parshat ha-shavua, or weekly Torah portion. We obligingly thumped our fists on the table, chanting parsha, parsha, parsha (even the Toddles banged his little fist) until the Man got up and went to the prop box.

Stuffed animals in hand, he enacted for us this week's narrative: the death of Joseph. The Eldest listened politely, and then asked him for next week's parsha. The Man huffed and puffed a bit, but eventually went off and reconfigured himself for the next narrative: Moses in the basket.

An evil emperor penguin paced before us, thinking up ways to be nasty to those irritating Israelites. He was so evil, we were told, that he never took baths. (gasp) He commanded: all Jews must throw their baby boys in the river!

One mama tiger demurred. For this I had nine months of pregnancy and 27 hours of back labor? Not so very much. And so she laid the baby tiger in a basket. A tall doll with dreads and high heeled boots saw the baby tiger, and pulled him out of the basket. Oh, he's so sweet. I love him, I love him, I love him! But who will give him nai-nais (breastfeed him)? Hastily, a rather familiar tiger stepped forwards. I will, she offered.

High Heels looked down at the tiger. Way down. Hmm. She adjusted her dreads. There's an odd resemblance. Do you know this baby?

Oooh, no, the tiger promised. Never met him before in my life.

And they were off and running. And we were laughing so hard my sides hurt.
And now, the tushies.
With a little help from M.i.I., we've been tiptoeing into cloth diaper territory. The Man is not tremendously pleased by either the gDiaper ('it sits around until I flush it') or the cloth ('eeeww'), but as always, is patient with my latest madness.

Into the gDiaper pants, then, we've put: the flushable g-insert, hemp liners, Indian prefolds, and I'm eyeing this super absorbent item for the next experiment, but am worried that we'd wash them wrong and ruin them. Our track record on such things is fairly consistent, alas, as proven by the death of my fabulous unsoakable breast pads. We do not sort our laundry, beyond the simple color/whites. Our conclusions thus far:

the g-inserts are lovely. They do scrunch up a bit when saturated, so you need to change the kiddo somewhat regularly. But if they scrunch, you just rinse or toss the little liner into the wash.

the hemp are only so-so absorbent. To be fair, we're spoiled rotten by our disposables, which are good for 4+ daytime hours, plus a full night. Paired, the hemp work wonderfully, and I'm amused by the hot pink color they turned in the wash, courtesy of the Eldest's Red Shirt of Doom (the dye on the shirt reliably leaks a bit). I got our hemp inserts from Punkin Butt (great name!), but Jardine Diapers recommends these, instead. Apparently the combination of hemp and cotton makes a difference. Why?

the Indian prefolds are way big for the medium sized g-pants, so I've folded them over, creating a bit of extra fabric in the water-shooter area. I'm worried the g-pants won't fit well with the prefolds, but we shall see.
Okay, so they fit - but it's tight. Still, they absorb nicely and are really soft. A winner for me, though I think they'll force us into a bigger g-size sooner than we'd otherwise go, alas.

And now, food!

Curried Celery Soup
adapted from from Vegetarian, by Linda Fraser. Pg 32, serves 4-6
Note: not a huge celery fan, I was surprised by how mildly celery-like this soup is, and how popular it is around here. And I love the versatility!

2 Tb olive oil (less if you have a nonstick pot)
1 onion chopped
1 leek, washed! and chopped (or another large, chopped onion)
1.5 lb celery, chopped (can use celeriac, instead)
1 TB medium/mild curry powder, less if hot curry powder
8 oz potatoes, diced (can use sweet potatoes, or mix regular and sweet potatoes, or mix potatoes and white/soy beans, for extra protein)
3.75 cups vegetable stock, or water
salt, pepper
2 bay leaves
light sprinkling of thyme
2 TB chopped fresh herbs, such as dill (and the celery leaves)
Optional: a fistful of sausage, chopped to avoid choking hazards for little throats.

In a large saucepan, heat oil. Saute onion (and sausage, if using) until browning nicely, then add celery. Stirring occasionally, saute for 8-10 minutes.
Add curry powder and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add potatoes, stock, bay and thyme. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Let cool slightly, then puree soup. Add fresh herbs and reheat to serve.
Watch small children ask for thirds. Try not to look too astonished.
Ypoons' Tofu Felafel (slightly adapted)

12 oz firm tofu, drained (press briefly if you have the chance)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 pinch cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 TB finely chopped fresh parsley
2 TB flaxmeal

In a large bowl, have a young child squish the tofu until it's crumbled. Mis in all spices and flaxmeal, stirring well.

Shape into circles or ovals with approx a TB of mix, squeezing gently to remove excess fluid. Heat a griddle or heavy frying pan, with about 1/4 inch oil.

With medium-high heat, fry each felafel until crispy on each side. Should take approx 4 minutes per side. Let drain on paper towels.

Serves 3-4 happy eaters.

Note: the felafel are greasy, so balance them with something crisp and light. We combined this with an Israeli salad of cubed tomato, cucumber and mixed them with sliced green olives and a little lemon juice.