All the Feels

While eating her dinner, watching me make lunches for the next day, Baylor asked

“could you please cut my cheese into a heart shape?”.

WTF? My first response was an incredulous “whose MOTHER is cutting their cheese into heart shapes in your class??”.  Because clearly someone is making all the other moms look bad. It’s not enough that I A. remembered to pack a lunch B. it was something you liked and C. it was reasonably healthy…now I have to cut shit into hearts too?? Gah! I can’t keep up. Why is just making a nice meal not enough? Why does it have to have fireworks and hearts too?

When I found out who the culprit was, I was knocked back down a bit. I actually really like this mom. So if she was taking the time to cut hearts, I could too. And it turns out, I’m pretty good at free handing hearts in dairy substances with a butter knife.

The next day when I picked up Auggie from class, the first thing his teachers said was “he loved that cheese heart so much!”. All smiles, he ran up for a hug. It was a good reminder – the little things count. They get noticed and they are important. Yes, healthy delicious meals are important too, but that little extra thing makes a big difference.

I got all inspired and found a three pack of cutters that were made for sandwich. Dolphins, dinosaurs and of course, hearts. I surprised the kids with dinosaur shaped grilled cheese that night for dinner. Baylor was thrilled. Auggie, not so much. It turns out he’s not such a big fan of eating dinosaur heads. Or dolphin tails for that matter. So back we go to free handed heart shaped cheese. And peanut butter cups. Nothing says love like a peanut butter cup.

Ladybug Ladybug, Welcome Home

This growing season has been a tough one for my lettuce table. Normally by Christmas we are out cutting fresh leaves for salad every day. This year the hot – cold – hot temperatures in the fall made for some rough growing. I finally got the right combination of morning sun, umbrella shade in the afternoon and a weekly hit of a 20-20-20 fertilizer and boom! Lettuce for days. Weeks. Months!

As I was cutting the first good crop, I noticed black bugs on the leaves. Like a lot of black bugs. aphids to be exact. It dawned on me later that we’ve always had a praying mantis in the garden. He (she?) reappeared sometime in the fall and apparently she (he?) was working to keep the aphid population in check. But this year he/she didn’t come back so when the mantis is away, the aphids will play.

And play those little bastards did.

I want the lettuce table to be organic so I didn’t want to spray any pesticides.  I used an insecticidal soap which is safe for humans, but allegedly the aphids don’t like it and they should leave when you spray it. I swear to God, those little assholes laughed when I sprayed it on the leaves. I saw one pretending to take a shower with the soap while he laughed with his friends. All the while eating my plants.

When I gave my mom a big bag of lettuce, I told her to make sure to wash it well to get the bugs off. “Don’t worry.” she said. ” I just serve the salad with poppy seed dressing so in case I missed any bugs, you can’t tell.”

It’s amazing I came out as normal as I did.

Anyway. I decided I couldn’t take it any more and after several phone calls to local nurseries and Google searches, I found a retailer that would ship me some ladybugs asap. Ladybugs are natural predators of aphids and they won’t hurt my lettuce. Not to mention they are adorable. Yesterday when the little ventilated box arrived, it was like Christmas. No one should get this excited about a box of bugs…and yet there I was, sprinkling ladybugs onto the leaves of the lettuce saying go! eat, my pretties! eat them all!!! while laughing manaicly.

The kids were entranced by the hard work the ladybugs were doing – within an hour of being on the leaves, they were eating to their hearts content. Gone were the sounds of those little jerks laughing. Now all we could hear was the nom nom nom sounds of the ladybug lunch.

Muuuahhhaaahhhhaahhaa!!!

So delicious. Until you notice the bugs…

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Workin’ hard!

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Parental Punt

Some days, there just isn’t enough time for it all.

Normally, I can schedule my work time around the kid’s school hours and or nap time. In a perfect world, I pack it all in and I’m able to leave my desk and desk top sorted and to do list checked off ad the first sound of a waking child.

For the last 6 weeks, that has not been the case. In addition to a larger than usual work load, there are about 9 other plates spinning above my head perched precariously on little sticks. I look like a circus side show desperately trying to keep all the plates spinning in the air. And when one of the plates is not spinning fast enough – or at all – the mom guilt kicks in. Big time.

And thus, the parental punt.

Yes they eat. They get baths. Their clothes are clean-ish. But they watch more cartoons than they should. Laundry sits longer than I’d like it to. We eat out too much or worse, there are way too many meals of quesadillas without a veggie in sight. I drop them off at the first minute they can be on campus per our tuition bracket and pick up at the last second. There is far too much wine consumed and too few hours slept.

But there is a light. I won’t always be the kicker. Soon there will be enough time, energy and daylight to run the ball in. At least, that’s what I tell myself to dissuade the mom guilt.  That and a few carrots on their plates should do the trick.

Oh The Irony

At the beginning of the school year, I cleaned out a bag full of books from the kid’s collection. Some duplicates, a few that we had out grown, some that we didn’t like, etc. I donated a bag of them to Auggie’s class. They love books and the board books are perfect for little hands to explore.

When I picked up Auggie from school after lunch one day, he was sitting on the little couch, totally engrossed in a book. I realized it was Goodnight, Gorilla  or as he calls it “Night Night Monkey”. His teacher told me that it’s his favorite and he gets it every day to look at.

As I pried it from his squishy little hands, I reassured him that we had the very same book at home. We never read it because you can’t read it. It’s essentially a picture book, there’s like 4 words in the whole thing. And because by the end of the day, my ability to cleverly narrate a picture book is lacking so we stick with the books that provide the story for me.

I scoured the shelves at home looking for Night Night Monkey while Augs recited the book, page by page from memory (“den monkey takes keys! den he let out gerrraffe!”). Slowly it dawned on me…the freaking book he was in love with at school was the one had given away to his class.

Augs then got to learn what it meant to same day deliver from Amazon Prime. Because when a kid loves a book, you buy it. Even if it’s the second time.

Goodnight Gorilla. Thank you for providing sweet, albeit ironic memories for us.

Mexican Mule

Peter fell in love with the cocktail called a Moscow Mule. To me, they just weren’t that amazing. I’m not a vodka drinker and something about the flavors just didn’t work for me.

BUT. I recently saw a version called a Mexican Mule made with tequila and a bit of simple syrup. I convinced PW to try it with me and verdict was that it was a hit. Light, refreshing and very delicious. It will be a regular come summer I’m sure.

1.5 Shot of Tequila

3/4 Shot fresh lime juice

1/4 Shot Simple Syrup (easy peasy to make – 2 parts sugar to 1 part hot water. Stir until dissolved)

Top with Ginger Beer. We tried two different brands and we liked Bundaberg

Now for serving it…we have one copper mug (for the Moscow version) so we used it and a regular glass. And as stupid as it sounds, the mug totally made a difference. It got colder and just tasted better! Any metal cup may work, but the copper is just so pretty. Amazon has them for good prices.

Serve with a lime wheel and enjoy!

Jump On the Bandwagon

Phew. It is rough to be a parent these days. It’s always been a tough job, but given the current climate of social media and an invisible force that urges you to define your parenting style  – helicopter mom, baby wearer, breast feeder, anti vaxer, free range parent – the list is endless and yet well defined.

And if I’m being honest, I think it’s amazing that so many moms are talking, sharing, posting. I constantly question my parenting method, look for new skills and sigh with relief when I read that I’m not alone. It’s all good.

Except when it’s not.

That’s right. I’m jumping on the bandwagon of posts about vaccinating your kids.

My bottom line is this: get educated. Ask questions. See more than one doctor. Read articles, posts, journals. Do whatever you have to do to reach the conclusion that vaccinating your healthy child is the right decision. And I emphasize healthy. Because those not healthy kids are the other reason we need to vaccinate our children. Herd immunity is meant to protect those that aren’t healthy enough for vaccinations, those that can’t be vaccinated for health reasons, and those too young. Choosing not to vaccinate your children out of a fear of the vaccination is not an excuse. Fear is not an excuse.

If you’re still conflicted, then think over this scenario in your head. I was sitting with Auggie in the emergency room a few months ago. He had a horrible case of croup and was in severe distress. His sweet little chest caved inward with each gasp for air because he was sucking in so hard. At some point my brain flipped into survival mode. Gone were the emotions and my only focus was to get this kid some help and fast. I realized after the storm had passed how awful it had been. How horrible it is to have the thought his oxygen levels are ok so if they have to, they could do a tracheotomy and then he could breathe.

It is not a fun when the thought of having a hole cut into your child’s throat is comforting.

The one thought that popped into my head over and over was how I could have prevented him getting so sick. And while the answer for his condition was “nothing”, that would not be the case for whooping cough. I cannot imagine the guilt of watching my beautiful little boy not be able to breathe because of my decision not to vaccinate him.

Which is why we do vaccinate our kids. When Baylor was a baby, I talked extensively about vaccinations, vaccination schedules and risk with our pediatrician. And the bottom line for me was when she said “I totally understand your concern. I do constant research about vaccinations and as a mom and a doctor, I fully vaccinate my child and that’s why I require this schedule for my healthy patients”.

That was all I needed to hear to make the decision to prevent the preventable. There’s enough unknown with our kids. Being able to check life threatening illnesses off that list? I’m in.

 

 

 

Little Whispers

I’m so grateful for little whispers from Heaven. The little messages from Mamie that let me know she’s still here. Still sees her Baylor. And that knows we talk about her, pray for her, think of her, and say her name every day.

From the moment Baylor was born, Mame would tell Baylor when you are a little bigger, you can walk down to my house and we’ll make biscuits with butter and grape jelly. We’ll put chocolate milk in tea cups and we’ll have a party. 

When I got Baylor’s snack schedule for January, I nearly fell over my own feet reading it. Today is Baylor’s snack day and her assigned snack was biscuits, butter, grape jelly and milk. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh, cry or both.

Thanks Mamers. We miss you and love you too.

No. More. Mickey.

Have you read this post from TheUglyVolvo.com? I was dying reading it because of how familiar her rage over the minutia of her son’s well loved book.

Reading, watching or reciting the same things over and over and over and over again (and again) really give us time to dissect every inch of the thing to point of making ourselves crazy. Suddenly we are hyper aware of the message, the nuances and the context.

Take for instance Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

I don’t really want to admit how much of that stupid show my kids watch….so let’s just say if we collectively sat down together, we could probably recite Minnie’s Winter Bow Show from beginning to end. Hey, we were all sick with the flu. Cartoon binges are real people. Real necessary.

The issue is that the more I watched it, the more I noticed that Minnie Mouse is always looking to Mickey Mouse for help, approval, rescue and advice. ALWAYS. To the point that I wanted to shout at the TV you don’t need him Minnie!! What the f*ck does Mickey know about a small business? What business is he running these days that would give him such amazing insight into where and how you should display your bows?!?

And that’s when we switched over to Doc McStuffins. That’s a chick I can get behind. Poor Baylor. She’s going to have amazing things to talk about in therapy some day…

my mom would never just let me watch a cartoon! She was always saying “you know, you can do whatever you want in the world. You don’t need anyone’s approval or help, you’re perfectly capable all on your own. Minnie doesn’t need Mickey’s help – she may want it, but she doesn’t NEED it”. All I wanted to do was watch a cartoon without worrying about the message. But could she just let me enjoy? No! 

This post is probably a really good indication we need to be reading more books…

 

 

Avocado Pudding

Just trust me on this one…

I saw the incomparably Martha Stewart on the Today Show last week showing off recipes and dishes from her new clean eating cook book. The last recipe was for chocolate pudding made with avocados….yes you read that right. And judging by the reactions of the co hosts, it was pretty awesome.

I tried to make it this weekend in secret so that I could pass it off to the kids as real pudding. I knew as soon as they saw the green goodness of the avocado, they would run away in terror. But I swear they know the sound of the drawer where the Cuisinart is kept and as soon as they hear it, they come running to help push the buttons. I told Baylor that the only way she was allowed to help was if she agreed to eat the final product. She reluctantly said yes and we proceeded to mix and sample and mix and sample until we got just the right combination of ingredients. When she finally got to sit down with a bowl, her reaction was priceless; “this IS pretty good!”

And this guy? The proof is in the pudding, er, picture.

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The best part is that they get a guilt free dessert that is pretty close to a healthy food. Oh Martha, you’ve done it again!

Martha’s Avocado Chocolate Pudding recipe can be found here:

http://www.marthastewart.com/1050437/chocolate-pudding