It’s always been one of my favorite months of the year. The weather is cooler, the sky is clear and impossibly blue. It’s a month of celebrations in our house: my youngest’s birthday, my birthday, Thanksgiving. Lots of opportunities to consume ridiculous quantities of delicious food. And cake. And pie. November is a good month.
For the last three years, though, November has also brought with it a little bit of worry and uncertainty. Just a little, but it’s still there. Every November, for the last three years, we’ve had a follow-up appointment with our oldest’s cardiologist. He’s a wonderful doctor, and our visits are always pleasant, but there’s always that little bit of fear in the backs of our minds when that appointment reminder comes in the mail.
When P was almost four, he underwent open heart surgery to repair a congenital defect in his heart. The surgery went beautifully, and he’s had no complications since, which is a blessing. I won’t get technical here, but there are a couple of areas that still require regular monitoring, just because they could become issues as his body grows and changes. So, while we’re thrilled with how well he’s done since the surgery, there’s always that tiny nagging worry that they’ll see something on the echo.
Today was this year’s appointment. The doctor listened and poked and prodded and listened some more. The sonographer did her job and took some beautifully eerie pictures of my boy’s heart. And P got to watch Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs and relax. The cardiologist assured us that everything looked fine, even in those areas of concern. We breathed a quiet sigh of relief. Another reason to celebrate this month.
We don’t have to go back for two years, which leaves me with mixed feelings. In a way, I’m glad that he’s doing so well that our doctor is confident that two years is a safe period of time to wait until our next visit. But there’s also a part of me that needs that yearly reassurance, as stressful as it might be. Next November will come and go without that appointment reminder. I’m sure I’ll still worry, though (I am his mother, after all – that’s what we do).
One of P’s (and my) favorite things in November is roasted pumpkin seeds. Every year he looks forward to taking the seeds from our Halloween jack-o-lanterns and roasting them the next day. He takes them in his lunchbox to school, and he eats them for snack when he comes home. If we’re not careful, he’ll have pumpkin vines growing out of his ears.
This year, he’s also become obsessed with pomegranate seeds, so we find ourselves in the afternoons alternating between a small bowl of each – our fingers tinged pink and slightly salty. I love that he loves these things.
The pomegranate seeds require nothing more than cutting open a pomegranate and carefully scraping the seeds from the membrane. The pumpkin seeds, while pretty simple, require a little bit more work than that. The combination of spices I used this year really made them irresistible, so we’ve pretty much finished off the batch I made a couple of days ago. I guess I need to buy a couple more pumpkins.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
prep time: 20 minutes
cook time: 30 minutes
yield: 4 cups of roasted pumpkin seeds
- 4 cups fresh pumpkin seeds, with most of the pumpkin flesh removed (mine came from two large carving pumpkins and one small pie pumpkin)
- 1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sucanat
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Line a baking sheet with foil
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly to coat seeds
- Pour on lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 30 minutes, stirring seeds occasionally to insure even browning
- Remove and let cool
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of day. After that, store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Enjoy (and happy November)!