Red_cabbage

Don’t get me started on red cabbage.  I’m a little obsessed.  Come summertime it’s all about cabbage slaw (recipe soon to come) with all kinds of mix-ins from mango to fennel to green apple.  It’s like an ice cream bar but healthier.  To my shock and surprise, the kids all loved it.  Maybe because it looks so cool with its vivid purple and white coloring. 

LAUREN: “It looks like a snake.  A purple snake.  It looks like a rope and a snake.”

SAM: “It looks like a squiggly line.” (aka “a thquiggwy wine”)

What color is it?

LAUREN: “Purple!  And White!”

What does it smell like?

EMMA: “Pizza.”

LAUREN: “Like beautiful flowers.”

SAM: “It smells like a monster.”

LAUREN: “I think it has a really fresh smell. Like a river with flowers in a valley.”

ME: “I think that’s the best description I’ve ever heard.”

What does it feel like?

LAUREN: “Like leather.”

SAM: “It feels like a monster.”

What does it taste like?

LAUREN: “I love it.”

ME: “I know you love it but what does it taste like.”

SAM: “It tastes like a monster.”

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LoxLet me preface this by saying that I should not spa.  When I do get a massage, I prefer the budget-friendly hole in the wall down the street, where your $60 buys you an hour-long spot on a table in a public room.  It gets the kinks out with minimal fanfare, and off I go.

But last week was my birthday and I decided to treat myself to something a little more special.  A real spa experience where I could lounge around after my massage, drink a chamomile tea, and read trashy magazines.  I mean the Harvard Business Review. 

Spas are like a trip to the Caribbean with kids.  You anticipate how relaxing it will be.  But the reality is that you spend 7 days smearing sunscreen on squirming little faces, cleaning sandy bums, and helping navigate menu options like a tired and grumpy waiter.  By the end of it all, you’re more exhausted than when you arrived, and are somewhat anxious to get back home.

Same thing with spas.  I go there with the best intentions, but often leave more stressed than when I came.  All those women walking around naked.  It’s like a perpetual car accident– you want to look away but my God there are naked people everywhere and it’s kind of hard not to look.

And those nondescript hallways with minimal signage…I always worry I’ll open the wrong door and end up in the lobby wearing nothing but my robe and a bungee key.  And let’s not forget the age-old question about underwear – to wear or not to wear.  Will my masseuse think I’m a pervert if I go commando? Am I showing how unrefined I am by wearing them?

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PickyEatersLong ago, before my kids entered the picture, I read an article on picky eating written by an editor at one of the prominent food magazines. He admitted that he struggled to feed his kids healthy foods despite his own love for food.  

I wondered how he could have let that happen. I assumed that my kids would fall into line with my own style of eating.  That they’d grow up in a wondrous and accepting food environment where they’d eat a broad range home-cooked meals.

I was wrong. I highly underestimated the degree to which my children would develop their own picky eating tendencies; how they’d turn their heads when I presented them with homemade spaghetti and meatballs and vegetarian lasagna.  In the early months they’d eat pretty much anything I’d put in front of them, but by age 18 months, they had developed minds of their own.  In an act of salvation, I turned to the nugget.

It was like crack.  The kids loved; immediately it became their most requested food. Nuggets and fruit. Nuggets and fruit. Nuggets and fruit. 

So began my painstaking efforts to offer multiple options at every meal. Like a cheap watch salesman on Canal Street, I’d open my worn briefcase and hawk my wares. “What d’ya want, you want broccoli? You want rice? Noodles? Dear God please say yes to noodles.”  Of course the answer was always “no”.  At last, so that they wouldn’t starve: “nuggets”?

“Yes!”

And so it went, for months on end.  They had total control. They were schooling me, not the other way around.  My son at one point had become so picky that he barely wanted to eat anything at all.  

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Cake-top

I’ve been a member of various BabyCenter birth boards since March of 2007, when I found out I was pregnant for the first time.  It’s always been my go-to site for tips on how to introduce solids, or how get my wailing baby to sleep through the night.  And perhaps most important – how to throw an over-the-top 1st birthday party.

Unbeknownst to me, all babies expect lavish 1st birthday parties complete with themes, printed invitations, goody bags, and of course, the centerpiece – a beautifully decorated cake with its own side kick – the smash cake.  The latter being the cake that baby gets to smash with her clenched little fists and then smear all over her face like someone who just played a mean joke on herself.

Let’s just say I wasn’t that organized that first year.  Not even close.  Not that I aspire to be the kind of mom who throws lavish parties every year for my children, but even having my across-the-hall neighbor swing by for leftovers would have been a nice compromise.

Cake-oven

Feeling a wee bit guilty, the plan to bake a cake for Lauren’s 1st birthday happened on the day of her birthday…at 5PM when I got home from work.  And this wouldn’t be any old birthday cake.  It was going to be a butterscotch layer cake, towering and impressive for my audience of 1.  Those smash cake moms had clearly camped out on my eardrum and were gently bouncing up and down, telling me to do something historic or nothing at all.

As you can imagine, by 7:30PM, I was covered in flour and caramel, racing to get my layers iced.  Lauren was perched on the counter in her bouncy chair, staring daggers at me because it was past her bedtime and she wasn’t pleased with this last-ditch effort to bake her a cake that she didn’t even want. 

But at long last, the cake was done.  Rodney and I stuck a candle in it, turned the lights down, sang happy birthday in a sing-songy whisper, and presented her with her beautiful cake.

She took a bite and gummed it around for a minute, frowning.  And then vomited.  On-the-cake. This apparently happens in real life, not just in bad sitcoms.  Like watching a fake wipeout on TV, viewers would be shaking their fists at me, yelling “I hate this show.  That would NEVER happen!”

Cake-Lauren

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KiwiberriesKiwis are great, but the annoying part is that you have to peel off all of that fuzzy skin with a tiny little knife.  Like lamb chops, it always seems like a lot of work, despite the deliciousness that lies within.  It would be so great if someone figured out how to make a kiwi where you don’t have to peel the skin.  Oh wait – they do – and they’re called kiwi berries.  How brilliant!

ME: “OK guys, here we go, these are called kiwi berries.”

LAUREN: “Oooh, I want to try.”

ME: “They look like kiwis on the inside but you can eat the whole skin.”

LAUREN: “Is the skin easy to peel off?”

What does it look like?”

LAUREN: “It looks like a green apple, but it’s smaller than a green apple.”

What about the inside?

SAM: “Seeds.”

LAUREN: “It looks like the apple seeds with the big center in the middle.”

What does it smell like?

SAM: “It smells like bananas.”

ME: “That’s probably because you just ate a banana.”

LAUREN: “Do we need to take the seeds out?”

What does it taste like?

LAUREN: “You don’t even taste the seeds.”

LAUREN: “Too sweet.”

ME: “Too sweet?  Impossible.”

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