I can name three foods that my kids unanimously adore: spaghetti, avocados, and chickpeas. Occasionally chicken will find its way onto the short list, although lately we’ve had poultry battles reminiscent of The Cold War. I finally had to ask what was going on because everyone was silently pushing their chicken around their plates. Apparently I make it too often.
I have a love/hate relationship with spaghetti. On the one hand, I’m Italian and feeding my kids noodles for dinner is part of my job description. On the other, it’s a starch with little dietary value. Not the end of the world, an “absence of” is still better than foods that are “full of” [trans fats, preservatives, artificial colors, etc]. But I’d prefer to give them something that packs more nutritional heat.
Chickpeas are my hero food because although they look deceptively simple, they’re still full of the good stuff, namely protein and fiber.
I’m making my kids sound pickier than they are – they do love many healthy foods. They like their tomatoes raw, their broccoli salted and their corn on the cob. Lauren starts most days with a slice of toast, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Carrots are a favorite snack. Runny eggs are religion.
It’s likely that I’m snorkeling off the shore of some Caribbean island right now. So to stave off any jealousy or daggers thrown in my general direction, let’s pretend that we’re still in New York contending with Month 5 of sleet and snow.
Though the temps may have been lower than hoped this spring, it hasn’t stopped us from getting out and exploring the city on foot.
Emma was off on Spring Break last week, a full week earlier than the other kids. And since we’re traveling this week, she gets to skip a full week of school. Translation: that is SO NOT fair MOM.
I told Lauren that it wasn’t fair that she was born first and had my complete attention for the first two years of her life. And that she’ll get her driver’s license first. AKA zip it.
So back to last week. Emma knows not to broadcast what actually took place since it was nothing short of incredible.
Monday took this form: lunch–chocolate store–Sephora–nails.
We took a breather on Tuesday, just enough rest to recharge the batteries and prepare our feet for another day of walking.
On Wednesday we spent the day on the Lower East Side doing the following:
As if Monday’s visit to Lilac Chocolates didn’t provide us with enough sweets, we were determined to visit Economy Candy.
We headed off on Rivington and quickly realized that we were heading in the wrong direction. But in one of those fortuitous twists of fate, we ended up at the tip of the alley that leads down to Freemans Restaurant.
I looked down at the counter and saw the mound of granulated sugar that I’d just pulled out of the food processor, which did in fact look like 3 lbs of cocaine.
“Syrup – like the cola.”
And that was the extent of the conversation about my kitchen laboratory. Had another day been available for my cutting board delivery, I clearly would have chosen it. A day, perhaps, when it didn’t look like a citrus grove had exploded in my kitchen and when I might not have been confused with the neighborhood drug dealer.
But as was the case, Pete, a furniture craftsman from Brooklyn who’d been working on my cutting board for the past few weeks, was going to be in the area.
If you’ve read previous posts about important days in the year – Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc, you’ll know that my strategy in approaching these events is something along the lines of “oh cr&p, it’s [insert holiday]”. Often it’s “oh cr&p it’s [insert someone’s] birthday.
Now before I unintentionally paint myself as the world’s most insensitive mother, please know that this doesn’t relate to children’s birthdays, which are usually SWAT team-planned the day before. And generally follow the creative bake-a-cake-and-make-your-favorite-meal variety. Elaborate birthday parties, with the exception of this one aren’t my strength.
You can impute thusly that preparation for national holidays isn’t my strength to the power of infinity. Taking that one step further, it wouldn’t be so shocking to learn that I was duly unprepared for Easter this year.
But Easter hasn’t happened! [yells the reader before throwing her shoe at the screen]
Hold on…I’m getting to the punchline.
According to the Gregorian calendar, it has yet to happen. But in our family, Easter will be spent in the coach section of United Airlines flight ABC123, hauling three kids and corresponding bag tonnage to a Caribbean island far far away. So, based on a technicality, Easter actually happened last Sunday. In the form of a neighborhood egg hunt planned by others, and open, mercifully, to all.
Yoga: A 5,000-year-old practice, beloved by millions the world throughout. Beloved, possibly, by everyone but me. Or so was the case until a few months ago.
My gripe with yoga had nothing to do with the practice itself; my fundamental lack of skill was to blame.
Yogis everywhere are shaking their heads right now. I understand that it’s called “practice” for a reason. It’s not called “yoga perfect”, there are no yoga champions; people don’t travel across the US to participate in timed yoga trials. Slap each other on the back after sweating it out through a particularly grueling yoga marathon. Yoga is not a competitive thing.
However, I recognized the purported health benefits and felt that I should give it some time. I tried my hand at Hatha, breathed my way through Vinyasa. I learned to salute the sun, mimic a warrior, pose like a tree, a frog, and a fish. I even experimented with Bikram (hot yoga) before realizing that any athletic activity that requires a mid-afternoon nap isn’t sustainable.
But I couldn’t get past one issue: I have the natural flexibility of a yardstick, and I just felt so completely incompetent.
So I dropped the practice, gave away my yoga mat, burned my pre-Lululemon bootcut stretch pants. I figured that I’d still have tennis for my later years. Maybe join a bowling league. But yoga wouldn’t factor, that I knew.
Fast-track 10 years and I was at the dentist, complaining of some jaw pain. A recent experience with a glazed donut suggested that my mouth would no longer open more than a crack without pain. I expected the worst: root canal, immediate tooth extraction, perhaps some invasive laser head surgery.
The diagnosis surprised me: TMJ.
“Have you been under a lot of stress lately?”
Er, I’m living out my dream of working with food and getting to spend time with my three lovely children…So I suppose that my answer would be no? How stress-derived TMJ was the culprit is still beyond me. But it was there. And it needed attention. Hiring a personal masseuse, however dreamlike, wouldn’t fit my budget. And talk about not getting to the root of the problem.
I was reading a biography at the time where the subject – at one time hooked on drugs and married to a dysfunctional Hollywood actor – found her salvation through yoga and meditation. And I realized that my old friend yoga might have the answer for me as well.
This time….things could be different. After all, I’m more mature, with a slew of folding elbow wrinkles to match. Being the least flexible person in the room wouldn’t be the worst of my problems.
I searched for yoga studios in my neighborhood that would emphasize the meditative aspect of the practice. I wanted to relax, focus less on strength, channel my energy towards mindfulness and inner peace.