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Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

I’ve lost my spine. I was the girl who used to jump off 50 foot cliffs, ride roller coasters for the adrenaline rush and surf in the washing machine waves off the coast of Santa Cruz. Now I am just a middle-aged mommy wuss. While on vacation I took Lennon body surfing. He loved it. I thought it was pretty great too until a wave ground my body into the unforgiving shore and left sand imprints and bruises all over me. While I churned in the waves, the thought of my seven-year-old getting just as pounded forced my heart to drop a couple of feet into my knees. He was fine and loved the rough action of the waves. I got all motherly, gave a quick lecture on waves, rip tides, never turning your back on the ocean, blah, blah, safety, boring mother rambling on about something (insert the sounds of Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice here) and then suggested we hang out in the pool for a bit. He promptly declined my offer.

I had hoped my spine hadn’t completely turned to mush, but I know it began going soft a couple years ago when I rode California Screamin’ with Scott and his cousin Ami at Disney California Adventure. She’s my age and single with no kids. She was thrilled by the rush of the roller coaster, five gazillion loops and those horrible stomach lurching death drops into a hellish abyss. I was not. I prayed out loud, a lot, and cursed, a lot. I remember tearing up with relief when the ride finally ended. I crawled out of the car with sweaty palms, feet and my stomach trying to decide what exactly to do with my lunch. The guy I spoke with afterward who gave me a medical understanding of what the brain experiences on a roller coaster didn’t help my recovery either.

When I was younger, I swore I would never lose my spine for all things exhilarating. I would jump off cliffs just to mess with the head of my boyfriend who was afraid of heights but still felt compelled to jump if I did. I am sure he would enjoy knowing I was getting my karmic justice now. I blame motherhood. I never expected having kids would turn me into a bowl of mealy oatmeal.

I wish I could say I was carefree and relaxed about parenting and exposing my kids to adventurous situations, but I struggle with the idea of letting them experience life on their own. I battle my over-protective demons every single day, try to keep my mouth shut about the little dangers and save the lectures for the big ones. Lennon is getting to the age where he is going to start filtering my warnings, so I need to pick my freak outs carefully. Do I warn him about the slippery, muddy trail that he insists on running down? Sure, but I will try to limit my comments to just once in the beginning of the hike because when he lands hard on his bottom, the mud and bruises aren’t going to kill him. The fall may even teach him to be careful more than my yelps down the trail at him to “slow down!” Do I give him the “respect the ocean” speech and go swimming with him in the waves so his tiny 48 pound body doesn’t get pulled out to sea? Absolutely.

I couldn't have kept up with him on the trails, and yes, I tried.

He wore his mud stains well and with pride.

I know that just because I can’t seem to stomach the adrenaline rush anymore doesn’t mean I should encourage my children to live bland lives. Though the thought of my children jumping into crashing waves off a cliff into the ocean and getting sucked down and disappearing into a cauldron like we witnessed a few local boys do last week makes my whole body quease up–the part where we wouldn’t be able to save those boys should a rogue wave knock them out was particularly painful to watch. Adventure is good, but pushing the limits of life and death, not so much. I need to help my kids discern which is which and then trust that as they get older, they will make the RIGHT, I mean, mindful choices.

After a great deal of prodding from Lennon and some pointed looks from Scott, I toughened up and went back out into the waves and by the end of the trip, I was able to enjoy the ocean with my kid instead of constantly fearing his demise. I realized that the presence of the boogie boards we rented on the last day functioned a bit like an ocean security blanket for me. My reacquainting with the ocean and Lennon’s three days of experience navigating the waves definitely helped. Plus, we weren’t by ourselves on a remote lava shelf jumping into a churning cauldron of death. If something had happened, my chances of saving Lennon or finding someone who could were pretty great. Ironically, watching those boys jumping off that cliff helped me put body surfing on a relatively mild beach in front of a hotel into perspective.

As our kids get older, we will introduce more adventure into their lives. I am looking forward to 10 years from now when we can take them on the Napali Coast Kayak trip, and in the meantime, I will work at using those adventures as exercises to build up the muscles surrounding my soft spine. Perhaps some smaller adventures will keep it from atrophying altogether.

In the spirit of mush, I am re-posting a recipe for oatmeal but with some new toppings. My kids eat oatmeal all year long and since we recently visited Hawaii and already miss the tropical fruit, I suggest throwing in some fresh banana, brown sugar and topping it with chopped pineapple and toasted coconut. See, even oatmeal can be adventurous sometimes.

Homemade Oatmeal (Total cook time is 10-15 minutes.)
Directions:
-Add about a cup and a half of soymilk to a cast iron pan.
-Add in thick cut oats by the handful until they just begin to reach the top of the milk.
-Add a couple of dashes of cinnamon.
-Add a pinch or two of salt.
-Heat until the soymilk starts to boil around the edges, then drop to a medium simmer.
-Stir frequently as the milk begins to cook down and the oatmeal thickens. You want to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. My kids like their oatmeal slightly chewy so adjust the milk and simmer down to desired thickness.
-When the consistency is right (there really is no science to oatmeal), remove from heat and add chopped pineapple, shredded, toasted coconut, brown sugar, bananas and a touch more milk if you like.
-Serve with a side of toast and lilikoi jelly.

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I ate my weight in tropical fruits this week–apple bananas, strawberry papayas and pineapples. While other vacationers were planning their Kauai trip schedules around luaus, snorkeling excursions and weather forecasts, we were busy planning ours around the daily farmer’s market schedules. A day trip discussion between Scott and me sounded something like, “Let’s go to the North Shore on Tuesday. We can’t go on Wednesday because we won’t make it back in time for the Kapaa Farmer’s Market at 3 p.m.” A drive through town most often involved a shout out to pull the car over because the banana lady hadn’t packed up yet, and Monday brought the sinking realization that we had missed the Koloa market and would have to attend the smaller Lihue market instead. We’ve eaten so much tropical fruit I am amazed my gums and the inside of my mouth aren’t raw. Though if I hear myself say, “that was the best pineapple I have ever eaten!” one more time, my ears may start bleeding.

We wondered if the fruit we bought from the farmer's market on Wednesday would last us until Thursday.

We visited Kauai for the first time during our honeymoon 11 years ago and luckily, we stayed in a condo with a blender. On a whim, Scott froze two papayas in an ice cube tray to see what a papaya smoothie would taste like. What started as an experiment turned into a vacation breakfast addiction, I mean tradition. Now whenever we are on vacation in Hawaii, the first thing we ask the hotel is the status of the blender. Room with a view overlooking the ocean? Sure, that’s a nice bonus, but, does the room have a blender?

I love papaya smoothies. LOVE THEM. I dream about their lovely creamy orange sweetness in January when the gray blues are settling into the crevices of my brain. I tell my friends to make papaya smoothies every time I hear one of them is headed to Hawaii. They graciously nod their heads, make some mmm hmm sounds, say things like, “ooh, that sounds good,” and smile at me vaguely. Maybe I am being too pushy and gregarious about our smoothies. Perhaps I should suggest they add rum, or I could get all grandma-like and send around a print schedule of where to find the Farmer’s Markets on Kauai to make things easier. Honestly, it would be a lot more helpful if I could recreate for them on the mainland what I so adore on the islands, but I can’t. Strawberry papayas and apple bananas don’t travel, and to try and blend a similar concoction at home with sub par tropical fruits is not worth the money and disappointment.

But, should you happen to be in the lovely Hawaiian islands this summer, here is the recipe. Make sure you stay somewhere with a blender, and a beautiful lanai and bonus view of the ocean, of course. And remember, there is nothing wrong with scheduling your hiking, snorkeling and various island adventures around the harvesting and purchasing of good, local fruit.

Papaya Smoothie
Ingredients:
-2 ripe strawberry papayas (check with the concierge for a listing of Farmer’s Markets around the island, or careen off the side of the road at the sight of a fruit stand)
-2-3 apple bananas (where you discover papayas, so too you will find bananas)
-Some pineapple is optional but not necessary
-Enough soy milk to keep the crappy hotel blender from seizing on the frozen mass of fruit

Directions:
-In the evening, slice open the papayas and remove the seeds. Scoop the papaya out of the skin by the spoonfuls into an ice cube tray. Onto a plate works fine, too.
-The next morning, add the frozen papaya, soy milk and banana to the blender, pray the engine doesn’t die or overheat, and blend until you have a smoothie with the consistency and creaminess of a milkshake.
-Drink and repeat.
-Serve with fresh, local, mashed avocado on toast.

Like I said, a blender in the room is absolutely imperative.

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I broke my vegan vows and ate flaky, warm and fabulous cod while visiting Cape Cod. As I have always said, there is a time and place for breaking the rules, and well, when you are in Rome, eat the lasagna, when in Africa, eat what they give you, and when in Cape Cod, eat the fish and chips. When in Anaheim? Stick to being vegan.

Below is a link to a rerun of a post I wrote a couple of years back explaining why I choose to live a 95% vegan lifestyle. Yes, I am far from being a vegan saint, but I have never claimed to be.

http://fennelfiles.blogspot.com/2007/06/95-vegan.html

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