Posts Tagged ‘picky eater’

I am feeling very low lately. It’s not like there’s any reason at all – my life is full of gifts and blessings. On top of the lowness, I find myself feeling frustrated at myself because I shouldn’t be feeling this way. And yet, here we are. 

One small thing I can do to move forward is to post about this week’s dinners. Maybe not the most scintillating of topics, to read or to write, but it’s better than staring at an empty screen and/or dumping my very inconsequential whines onto the page. 

We are about to embark on another period of extra busy-ness, as Carla enrolls in a new sports team. We will be back to having extracurriculars that run up against dinnertime nearly every day. This means that we need to focus on quick and easy. Probably a lot of the time, I will end up eating black bean tacos or salad, and my husband will end up eating ham sandwiches. In fact, “ham sandwich” has become code for “eat something easy of your choosing” in our household, even if the resulting meal includes neither ham nor sandwich. 

Oh – that reminds me. There’s been a Disturbing Development: Carla was eating chicken nuggets the other day for dinner. She had eaten three and wanted something else, and I suggested that if she was still hungry, she should eat the fourth. And she said, “I think I’m tired of chicken nuggets. I don’t think I like them anymore.” 

This is it. This is the horrible endpoint I’ve been anticipating and fearing for years, because she eats them so frequently. And I’m not even going to apologize for it, because there is protein in chicken nuggets and, more importantly, she EATS THEM. Or did eat them. I do TRY to shake up her meals – I do. But there are so few things she eats, and I hate mealtimes that morph into me coaxing/wheedling/demanding that she eat the thing on her plate. Plus, chicken nuggets are EASY, which is important too, and ready in under 10 minutes if I use the air fryer. 

What am I going to do if she stops eating chicken nuggets? 

(Carla’s suggestion, by the way, was that she would eat tacos every day. And, yes, fine, tacos are great and I am happy to make a big batch of meat at the start of the week so she can eat them as often as she likes. But she gets tired of those too, plus sometimes it seems like “eating tacos” is an excuse for eating multiple crispy corn taco shells and copious amounts of cheese. I get it, and crispy taco shells and cheese have their time and place. But I don’t think, in our situation of plentiful options, that they should be my kid’s MAIN source of calories, you know?) 

Carla’s meals are never part of my Dinners This Week posts anyway, since she rarely eats what my husband and I do. But I am still fretting over how to get appropriate quantities and varieties of food into her. (She eats scrambled eggs and salmon and steak and – sometimes – pork tenderloin or teriyaki chicken or hamburger. She will not starve.)

Ugh. We also have HOLIDAYS this week. Well. I cannot get up enough energy to think about making anything special. Fortunately, we have been invited to a Passover Seder with friends, so I don’t even have to think about that. We can dye Easter eggs on Saturday. And maybe that will have to be that. My mother always used to make a ham for Easter dinner, but I don’t like ham enough to make a whole one. Although… maybe it would produce plenty of leftovers for my husband… and Carla sometimes eats ham (although usually in Lunchable form). I don’t know. 

Despite having a wonderful list of reliably delicious dinners to pad out the meal plan each week, I still find myself wanting to try New Things, so I’ve got two oldies and two newbies on the list. Here’s what I am tentatively planning to make this week, keeping in mind that we might chuck it all and eat nothing but ham sandwich. 

Dinners for the Week of April 3-April 9

  • Ginger Chicken Asparagus Stir Fry: This is a new-to-me recipe, but asparagus is plentiful these days and this is a way of preparing it that haven’t tried before.
  • Baked Gnocchi and Vegetables: On a whim the other day, I picked up a bag of cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s. I don’t particularly like gnocchi, and I’m deeply suspicious of cauliflower masquerading as foods that it clearly is not. But I own a bag now, and I need to do something with it. Maybe this is the solution?
  • Chili-Honey Chicken and Sweet Potatoes: I have only had this once, so far, but it was so incredibly delicious. I’ve been thinking about it nonstop lately. Maybe it’s time to make it again. I am a little fearful that I loved it so much initially because a) it was novel and b) I thought I’d burned the sweet potatoes beyond recognition but they turned out to be deliciously charred. I doubt I could recreate the same conditions of uncertain anticipation and relief, you know?
  • Lemon Garlic Pasta with Fresh Veggies: Pasta is one of my go-to comfort foods, and I loved this dish the last time I made it. It sounds springy and filling. 
  • Baked Ham? With what? The more I think about this, the less appealing it is. But my mom made ALL holidays special, and I feel like such a failure for not trying to make them special for Carla. I KNOW THIS IS DUMB. Knowing that it is dumb doesn’t make the feeling evaporate.


What are you eating this week? Any plans for the holidays, eating or otherwise?

Read Full Post »

Friday already, and looking down the barrel of another long weekend! So here are five topics I’ve been thinking about, beginning with MORE CAKE TALK!

A No-Cake Defense (TL/DR: This Is a Me Issue): I loved everyone’s comments on yesterday’s post about choosing my birthday dessert. One thing I additionally loved was how some readers took issue with my husband’s anti-cake stance. I just want to say: I love you. Thank you for defending my cakely honor. You are a treasure and a joy and I feel so cozy and loved. 

While not knowing his exact reasons for not wanting to bake a cake, I can speculate. And so I do want to defend my husband a teeny bit. You do not have to accept these reasons! You can still glare in his general direction! 

If I am understanding correctly, his first objection is the time. He fears it will take all day to bake a cake, and he doesn’t want to waste a big chunk of my birthday in the kitchen, when we could be doing something else. While perhaps baking a cake should not take several hours, it does always seem to work out that way. At least, it does for me. But then again, I always end up making some silly mistake that requires me remaking some aspect of the recipe.

Also, and this may be projecting, but he might be a little nervous about making a cake. He is not the cake baker in the family; I am. And I am in no way a good role model for The Ease of Cake Baking, in large part because I am always doing something that makes the whole process more difficult (cough cough leopard spots, cough cough rainbow layers). But my husband has never made a cake. I have no doubt he COULD make a cake (he is generally a better direction follower than I am), but for your first cake to be the Replacement Cake for your wife’s birthday, after her previous birthday cake was such a disappointing experience… well. That seems like a recipe (see what I did there) for failure.

However, these perfectly reasonable reasons aside, after I read the umpteenth comment suggesting that maybe my husband should just suck it up and make me the cake I want (I am paraphrasing; everyone reading this is much more tactful), I started to agree. If he has volunteered to make me a birthday dessert, why shouldn’t I ask for the dessert I really want? And I am sure that if I said, “honey, this is what I REALLY want,” he might grumble a bit, but he would make it for me.

So I spent some time looking online for The Perfect Cake Recipe to send him.  But the process looking for a recipe to send him made me realize that there is a secret third reason he may be unwilling to make me a cake.

As you may already know, from reading all my food and cake related posts, lo these many years, I am one of those annoying people who doesn’t necessarily stick to a recipe. I might pair a cake from one recipe with a frosting from another recipe. Or I might make a smaller cake than the recipe recommended. Or I might take a cupcake recipe and turn it into a cake. Or I might choose a recipe that calls for poppy seeds in the icing, but I would exclude the poppy seeds. I am comfortable with this, both because I now have some experience in messing around with recipes and because I am comfortable with the idea that it might not turn out. My husband is NOT comfortable with either of these things. He doesn’t have the cake baking experience to draw on, for one thing. But he is also a Supreme Instruction Follower and would find it blasphemous to deviate from a recipe’s explicit directions. 

And the thing is, when I search for My Perfect Cake… I can’t find it. It doesn’t exist. Okay, it DOES exist, and Kate found it (thank you!) but it is too large and too expensive for just the three of us. BUT, it’s very nice to know it’s there, if I need it! What I’m saying is the recipe for My Perfect Cake doesn’t exist. There is this perfectly lovely sounding cake, but it calls for lemon extract and I am a lemon purist. But I can’t ask my husband to just… exclude the extract. I mean, you probably can’t just DO that anyway, you’d need to track down other lemon cake recipes and compare various amounts of lemon juice and lemon zest and choose an amount that seems appropriately lemony for this specific cake. I can imagine how overwhelming it would feel if I suggested my husband do that. Even if I did the research, and wrote on top of the recipe, “omit lemon extract; use X tbsp of lemon juice,” he would feel worried that it wouldn’t turn out, and that if it didn’t, it would be HIS fault. 

This recipe looks very close to my ideal… but there are so few reviews, and of the reviewers who seem to have actually tried the recipe, it sounds like the cake comes out too dense for what I would prefer. 

I do love Sally’s Baking Addiction, and this recipe sounds similar to what I’m looking for and I trust her recipes, although sometimes the cake is a bit more dense than I prefer. But… there’s no lemon curd in this recipe. I want lemon curd. But I don’t think I could just say, “spread some lemon curd in between the layers” to my husband without him feeling like he needed additional, very specific directions to follow. (I actually used this recipe to make my daughter’s seventh birthday cake, and did put lemon curd between the layers.)

Are you beginning to understand that this is not really a problem with my husband trying to deny me the cake of my heart? That it is, instead, an issue of me being too picky?

Like I said, feel free to continue to feel irritated with my husband. But perhaps you can also spare some irritation for me, as well. I am hard to please. 

***UPDATE***: I wrote all of the above last night, before my husband got home from work. After sending him the link to Kate’s cake, and deciding that it was really too expensive, and explaining to him that I have been thinking about this particular cake for more than a year, I thought we finally settled on him making me cupcakes. That would be great! Lemon curd filled cupcakes. I explained how to do the filling part, and my husband listened attentively and asked if I would object to him putting pink food coloring in the frosting which strikes me as very adorable. And then thirty or so minutes later, cake clearly on the brain, my husband asked me, “Should I just make you the cake you want?” and I said, “but I thought making a cake was too much?” and he said, “but if I’m going to make cupcakes, I might as well make a cake,” and I said, “yes, please.” And then there was some discussion about my favorite cream cheese frosting and whether I would be amenable to him adding some lemon zest to the frosting (yes) and whether I need homemade curd (no). So I think it is happening????? If there is cake in the offing, I will certainly share all the details with you. (Although cupcakes would also be excellent.)

Surely This Is Not Right: I went to the dentist and noticed this poster hanging prominently on the wall. I do not object to the sentiment, which is lovely. But it raises the question: how do you pronounce “hygienist”? 

After spending far too much time listening to online pronunciations of the word, I believe that in British English, the pronunciation is “hy-JEEN-ist.” But in American English, it’s “hy-JEN-ist,” is it not? 

In no way is the first syllable “hahy.” Not that I would even know how to pronounce “hahy.” Hah-hee? Hah-high? (My husband thinks this is a way of representing the diphthong of “hy,” but I think there are better ways to represent it than “hahy.”

I suppose this could be one of those words that you have only ever experienced in print and have not yet heard aloud, and when you do finally hear it spoken, the pronunciation is a shock. (Do you have a word like this? Mine is ravine.) But I don’t think that this is one of those cases. 

Okay, I still apparently have more to say about this. If you were the person buying wall art for a dental office, a dental office in the United States specifically, wouldn’t you be uniquely aware of the correct pronunciation of dental terms? And wouldn’t you find this EXTREMELY ODD?

Freelance Does Not Mean Free: One of the most… shall we say interesting aspects of freelancing is the money aspect. Some clients are very on top of it, saying things from the get go like, “This is our budget,” or “We typically pay this for this type of project.” Other clients seemingly would never raise the topic if I didn’t broach it first. When it comes to invoicing, some clients are very clear to say, “This looks good, send me your invoice” while others drag out projects for months and would probably never even consider that I should be paid for work completed until I finally say something like, “Great, I’ve included an invoice.” (And I realize that I have a unique privilege of allowing projects to sometimes drag on without pay – and do so only with clients I have had for years and whom I know will pay eventually; it’s not something I would advocate when you are just starting out. And also, for big projects, it is important to ask for a portion [I do half] up front before you begin.) It’s just so fascinating to me that some clients seem completely oblivious to the fact that the work a freelancer does has a price tag.

Aspirations Mini-Update: I have been working toward all my aspirations. Well maybe not all, but many. (I have made progress on all but one of my Personal/Self Improvement aspirations, for instance.) One thing I did was start a very simplistic Excel spreadsheet where I could track the things I wanted to do regularly, if not necessarily daily. Playing the piano and writing and exercising and walking outside. That kind of thing. And what I have noticed is that I cannot do every single thing I want to do daily in a single day. There are just not enough hours in the day. I mean, I suppose I could break up my day in such a way that I could get to everything… but that seems overly rigid and also, to be honest, exhausting. There needs to be some flexibility. For one thing, if I walk outside for 30 minutes then it seems like overkill to also walk on the treadmill. For another thing, if I am really on a roll with, say, writing, I don’t want to STOP just because it’s time to play the piano for fifteen minutes, you know? So I am still trying to feel my way through what is a reasonable way to achieve these goals without achieving them simply for the sake of putting a check mark in my spreadsheet. Perhaps I do need to find a way to create some sort of a schedule, though. 

Unusual Snack Foods: One of my all-time favorite snacks is a half a green bell pepper filled with cottage cheese and sprinkled with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. (We called it “carrot salt” when I was growing up, probably because my mother also sprinkled it on carrots.) (Carrots are also delicious dipped in carrot-salted cottage cheese.) 

Neither my husband nor my daughter would touch this snack with a ten-foot pole, but it is delicious and crunchy and full of protein and SO GOOD. I cannot be the only person in the universe (besides my mother) who enjoys it. Have you ever tried this amazing combo? If not, would you be willing to try it? (You won’t hurt my feelings if you say no; I am still very iffy on the chicken thighs situation, so I fully understand New Food Resistance.)

Are there unusual combinations of foods that you like to snack on? 

That’s all I have for you today, Internet! I hope you have a fabulous weekend full of cake and weird snacks and reasonable pronunciations!

Read Full Post »

After posting yesterday, I was fretting (mildly, very mildly) about what we would eat for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I like to have a plan, especially when it comes to food. Plus, the grocery store situation will get iffier as we get closer to the holiday – busier and then closed; that’s what I mean by “iffier.” I had to dash over to the grocery store yesterday afternoon, to find something to feed the babysitter.

(Did I already fret about this to you? I feel like I did, but I can’t find it in yesterday’s post. Oh well, if you have already endured this fret, perhaps skim down a bit or come back another day. Here, I will put in sub-headings to make it easier to skim.)

Feeding-the-Babysitter Fret

What do YOU feed the babysitter? Why is this something that I fret about so much? We rarely have a sitter, but when we do I almost always get a frozen pizza. My thought process around frozen pizza is a) easy and b) most people like pizza and c) Carla eats it. (She does not eat macaroni and cheese for instance. Or most other things.) But when I fretted out loud to my husband and daughter, a) my husband said “You ALWAYS get a pizza” and b) Carla said “I’m tired of pizza. I’d rather have chicken nuggets.” Oooh, two multiple choice lists in one paragraph. Wild.

These were highly interesting comments. First, yes, as I already told you, I do tend to ALWAYS get pizza. But we have had a babysitter, what, twice in the past three weeks? Is pizza two times in three weeks really that egregious? But more importantly, the babysitter last night was a different babysitter than the one we had last time. So she hadn’t eaten pizza three weeks ago.

Secondly, yes, Carla ate pizza three weeks ago with the other babysitter… and I think we made pizza last week or the week before as well, so that’s twice. In the meantime, aside from two nights of steak and maybe a night or two of salmon and maybe one night of tacos, I think she’s had chicken nuggets for every other dinner. (I am refraining hard from making a self-deprecating “I am such a shitty mother for feeding my child nuggets daily lol” comment because she EATS them which is better than not-eating other things and they are easy and they have protein and sometimes I get the ones that also have veggies in them and this is a very long-lived phase but it is just a phase that won’t last forever and I make up for my lack of meal creativity in other good and valuable ways.) 

Being a mom slash babysitter-food-decision-maker is so fun. So, so fun. 

Now, I don’t personally care to eat chicken nuggets. (I have never typed “chicken nuggets” so many times in my life.) But I think many people are fine with them, so I decided that I would just let the sitter make some nuggets for herself and Carla. But I still managed to fret about it. The dear wise friend to whom I fretted via text suggested I get pizza and chicken nuggets so that there were options. This was genius, so that’s why I went to the store. Plus, I figured I would come up with some wonderful idea for NYE / NYD food in the moment. The store was very busy. 

(By the way, I have been masking again in the grocery store, these past few weeks. Around Christmas, I noticed that quite a few more people than usual had joined me… but I went yesterday afternoon and I think there was only one other person in a mask.)


While I was there, I did indeed experience a lightning strike of inspiration. For our extra special New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day meals, we are going to have SNACKS!

(By the way, when Carla was very small she pronounced the word “snacks” with kind of a swallowed H/N combo instead of the initial S. Like “HNacks.” So that’s still how my husband and I refer to them.)

We have not yet made the cranberry salsa for which I bought ingredients last week, so we will have that with pita chips. I picked up a small bag of Lay’s Potato Chips and some Southwest Ranch Dip, and I have plenty of vegetables to cut up for extra dipping. 

(Since this post is rife – RIFE – with parentheticals and asides, what’s one more? I first became acquainted with Southwest Ranch Dip when I was pregnant. My mother-in-law served it at her apartment one day – this was when my in-laws had an apartment in our city – and I loved it. Pretty much everything made me nauseated in those days, but crunchy greasy Lay’s chips dipped in that dip were HEAVEN.) 

(I am getting such a silly kick out of posting these photos, as though you don’t know what a bag of Lay’s looks like. I mean, maybe you don’t, but it seems unlikely.) (Images above and below from lays.com, marzetti.com, Instacart.com for some reason, and traderjoes.com)

In addition to chips and dip, I grabbed some mini pretzel dogs that I’m hoping my husband and child will eat (I eat one hot dog a year and it is normal sized and in a BUN not a pretzel; I do not care for pretzels) (are you beginning to get a clearer picture of why my child is so picky), and some feta and caramelized onion pastry bites. I also got a garlic and cheese flatbread, which sounds good but not terribly different from garlic bread; we’ll see. We have some cheese and crackers and some olives already. This is all way too much food already, but I have arranged a family outing to Trader Joe’s later today to see if we can find any other treats to add to the selection. Trader Joe’s is usually pretty great about having fun frozen treats.

Do you have favorite snacks to recommend? I would be willing to go to another location in addition to Trader Joe’s if there is something I NEED to try. I am serious about snacking.

As far as sweets are concerned, we have PLENTY. So many sweets. I ended up throwing out a bunch of leftover (and now stale) Christmas cookies, which was both sad and cathartic (the ratio of cookie plates for neighbors to cookies made was waaaayyyy off; lesson learned), but we have many other cookies and candies that kind family and friends sent. Most of it is chocolate, which I don’t like except in very specific situations. But as I prefer savory to sweet anyway, I will be perfectly happy with my Lay’s and dip. 

Old-Fashioned Blogroll

(I am feeling very smug about my choice to put subheads into this post, because there is no good segue between Lay’s and blog reading.)

Lately, my Feedly has been acting up. Either that or user error but PROBABLY it’s Feedly yes that makes the most sense. The problem is that I keep missing posts. I’ll think, “Oh, so-and-so hasn’t posted in a while!” and then I’ll go to her blog and she posted sixteen days ago and I missed it. I’m not opposed to leaving comments on old posts, not at all, but I like to know what’s being posted AS it is happening, not after the fact.

I was remembering how, in Days of Yore, I had a list of blogs I read on the side of my homepage. And every morning when I had a tea break from work, I would click through the list to read everyone’s posts. When I got back to regular blogging in 2016, my blogroll was so depressing; so few of the people on the list were blogging anymore! Some of the links went to defunct pages or spam sites!  So I deleted the whole thing.

But now… maybe it’s time to create a new blogroll. This wonderful blogging community I am so fortunate to be part of is robust, and I don’t want to miss anyone’s posts because of user a Feedly error.

Of course, the very idea of creating a blogroll raises frets like “what if I accidentally leave someone out?” So I need you to promise that if you have a blog, and for some reason it does NOT appear on this hazy future blogroll should I ever get it together enough to make one, that you would TELL ME because it was clearly I don’t think we can blame this on Feedly user error and not a deliberate decision to exclude.

Read Full Post »

We had our first snowfall of the season over the weekend! It started with some big, fat, gently falling snowflakes on Saturday and then by Sunday it was wet, heavy, drenching snow. While I miss the beauty of the fall — especially the gorgeous yellow tree in my backyard neighbor’s yard that leans over our hedges into our yard — the trees had long since lost their leaves anyway, so I am pretty pleased with this introduction to winter.

Since I am not doing Dinners This Week, this week (I did a double last week), I thought I would post some updates about random things.

  • The State of the Ceiling: The plaster expert is gone – after four days in my house instead of the originally-stated two – for good. (I am a little concerned for him, because he told me a lengthy story about how one of his other clients is sexually harassing him. It was a story that I listened to with a Very Serious face, and at the end, I told him, “I am so sorry you are being harassed.” at which point it became clear that he was telling the story in the hopes that I would think it was funny? “I guess I know what it’s like to be a woman now! Har har!” he said, and I nodded very seriously and said, “That must be an eye-opening perspective, although what an awful way to attain it.” He went back to work.) Despite his tendency to talk too much, and about subjects that made me slightly uncomfortable, he did a wonderful job on the ceiling. Here’s a little before and after for you. I’m sorry it isn’t more exciting.
Perhaps I could have made more of an effort to take these photos from the same angle.
  • Vaccines: My husband and Carla are now both boosted! (They each already got their flu shots several weeks ago.) Despite all plans to the contrary, I forgot Carla’s vaccine card at home. SIGH. What IS it with me doing that??? Her doctor gave me a little sticker to put on her card at home, so it worked out okay and I remain the only one in the universe in our family who has three vaccine cards. Carla had a very mild fever and some arm pain after her vaccine. My husband felt pretty crummy the day after his; the same thing I went through, with the skin sensitivity and the aching and the general yuckiness. No fever though. And now we are all boosted! (As are my parents, who are visiting us VERY SOON!!!! Hooray!)
  • The State of My Feet: I continue to struggle with plantar fasciitis. I got a third injection a few months ago that, like the other injections, did nothing. I continue to dabble with things that are supposed to help: wearing my brace, icing my feet, doing stretches, rolling a ball beneath my feet, trying to pick up a washcloth in the shower with my toes (they are incapable of doing this). I have purchased foot insoles and special socks. I bought a new pair of shoes. I have even tried just Powering Through, and walking even though my feet ache. Nothing is helping. No wonder; what I have trouble with is trying a variety of things that a variety of people have suggested, and doing it inconsistently and haphazardly. What I need is A Real Plan. I can follow A Plan! But I need a medical professional to tell me The Plan so I can initiate it. However, I don’t think I can go back to the podiatrist. He seems… overly invested in the injections. The person who referred me to him claims he is a miracle worker, and that he worked with her extensively to fix her own plantar fasciitis, but he hasn’t been quite as attentive to me. He just says, “Let’s try another shot.” I want him – or some other foot expert – to say, “This is what you do. Do these specific exercises in this order, daily for 15 minutes. Wear this brace every day for two hours. Buy this specific pair of shoes and wear this specific insert.” Not, “Oh, well, let’s check back in two weeks and maybe you need another injection.” Speaking of needles: a (different) friend who formerly had plantar fasciitis said that acupuncture had cured her, so I have an appointment with her acupuncturist later this month. My husband is being very supportive. I told him I am excited to try it, and he said he is excited for me. I said, “Do you think it will work?” and he said, “No.” Sigh. We’ll see.
  • Treadmill Desk: My husband bought me a treadmill desk for my birthday waaaaay back in February and I loved it. But then my plantar fasciitis kept getting worse and worse, and I stopped using it. I have every intention of getting back into the habit. Maybe when my feet are in less constant agony. (There will come a time when they are in less constant agony, yes?)
  • The State of My Skin: I read every single comment with great interest. So many great ideas, so much comforting commiseration. My best guess is that, as many readers suggested, the skin thing is a result of age and/or hormones. Which means I probably just need to tough it out. I have definitely had Skin Stuff before, usually precipitated by trying a new skincare product. But it didn’t seem to linger quite as lengthily as this most recent issue. Anyway, the action I took was to put all my faith in NGS’s comment. She said, “I have terrible eczema and I use Neutrogena wipes to clean my skin every night and don’t worry about the environmental cost because any time I’ve changed it, my skin has gone insane.” So I went back to my old, environmentally detrimental cleansing process. My skin has responded quite well. It is no longer unbearably itchy, and the only remaining problem area is a rough rectangular patch of redness between my eyebrows. This does not mean I am going to give up on trying to find a skincare routine that doesn’t involve disposable wipes. I am going to try again – looking to your comments for ideas. But for now, this has been helping to alleviate my misery.
  • Calcium: I still worry about Carla’s calcium intake, and the variety of foods she eats in general. Especially in this busy season of our lives, the majority of her diet seems to be chicken nuggets, peas, and rice, interspersed with tacos and the occasional filet of salmon. I know this isn’t the worst combination of foods, and she is still growing and thriving, but… I would like to expand her diet to include other things. She ate a bowl of snow for breakfast yesterday, but that’s not what I mean by “other things.” One of the issues, it seems, is that Carla doesn’t have a great grasp on which foods include which nutrients. Like… she’ll indicate that she thinks white rice has protein in it, or that eggs contain calcium. I’ve tried correcting her in the moment and talking to her more generally about which foods fit into which nutrient group (and I wrote some lists on our whiteboard of which foods, in which nutrient categories, would be good for breakfast), but it’s not sticking. It might be useful to find some book resources, but I’m having a hard time finding anything that doesn’t seem too young. I’ve ordered Are You What You Eat? from our library, and I might order Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell from Amazon. We’ll see if they are useful. 
Why is it that I can never take a photo with the proper proportions so that it looks straight?!?!?!

Are there any topics I’ve raised in the past that you are burning for me to revisit? (LOL.) If there’s something I brought up awhile ago and you’re curious about the resolution, let me know in the comments or on my Ask Me Anything form and I will post about it.

It seems as though I am doing NaBloPoMo this month, which is 30 blog posts in 30 days. (Will I make it??? Only time will tell.) Details at San’s blog here.

Read Full Post »

The other day, Carla had a very specific request for dinner: “May I please have a bowl of white [iceberg] lettuce and a separate bowl of [shredded] cheese and another bowl of tomatoes so that I can put them together and make a salad?” 

Sure, child. Why not. 

I mentioned a while back that we are trying to increase Carla’s calcium intake. And by “we” I mean “me” because my husband seems wholly unconcerned by the issue. Not in an “I’m a Physician and Am Unworried” way, but in a “this is not my problem” way ARGH. And a teeny bit in a Thwarting Efforts way. My father (ALSO a physician) suggested we simply give Carla some Tums (calcium carbonate) and so I suggested to my husband that he grab a roll of Tums next time he was at the grocery store. He said a) we already have Tums at home and when I brightened and said “Oh! We can give Carla those!” he said no, that those Tums were for acid reflux. Blink. Blink blink. 

All of this is to say that I am continually working on getting more calcium into Carla. 

Smoothies, as I think I mentioned before, seemed like the perfect vehicle. Especially considering that Carla likes smoothies, and dislikes most other things. 

But there have been two problems.

  1. She hasn’t been in the mood for smoothies. Almost every day I say, “You’re going to have a smoothie for breakfast!” and she says, “No.” And then I argue with her a little bit, and make pleading noises about calcium intake, and she remains firm, and I give up. Because I am not going to waste a smoothie on her when she is clearly going to Stand Firm. And I get it! I like… chili, but I don’t want to eat it every day. If you told me chili had specific life-extending properties, I would still have a hard time drumming up enough enthusiasm to eat it every day. So I get it. I do. But also: JUST DRINK A SMOOTHIE.
  2. Smoothies do not contain as much calcium as I think. I made one for her with 1/4 cup of yogurt, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup calcium-fortified orange juice, and 1 cup frozen mango chunks. That makes a LARGE cup of smoothie. And it contains about 40% of a person’s daily calcium. Sigh. It’s a big swoop forward on the calcium-intake-o-meter, but it’s not even halfway, and HOW do I get the rest of the way EVERY DAY?

I wonder if I could mix Carnation Instant Breakfast (200 mg calcium per packet) into her smoothies? 

I found a recipe for frozen yogurt treats that I might try. I broached the idea to Carla and she was a little suspicious, but it would be worth trying at least. Maybe I could mix some Carnation Instant Breakfast into some yogurt and pipe it onto cookie sheets and freeze it? I may give it a try.

I have been Googling like crazy, but the food sources of calcium seem to have so little (50 mg here, 125 mg there – and that’s for a FULL serving of foods she DOESN’T EAT), that it seems impossible to get them to add up to 1300 mg per day. And there is a lot of pooh-poohing of calcium supplements. I get it. I understand that most vitamins don’t have a whole lot of calcium anyway, and that you need to be taking Vitamin D as well so that you can properly absorb your calcium. But it would be really useful to just give Carla a chewable something and be done with it. There are Reasons that I don’t want to get the Viactiv chews (650 mg calcium per chew), but maybe I need to get past them. 

I know I tend to catastrophize. I know I do that. But I keep picturing Carla as an adult, with bones that shatter at the least provocation, and her wan little face asking the heavens, “Why, God, why did my mother not force me to get enough calcium when I was small? Why?” 

Now I understand why my parents were so adamant about me drinking a FULL GLASS of milk every day. (A cup of milk is only 300 mg!)

Read Full Post »

I woke up at 4:00 am with a splitting headache and then couldn’t fall back to sleep. So I am feeling a bit fretful and complainy this morning. 

I don’t want Carla to get Covid. I have been doing my very best at isolating, but it is slightly tricky with my husband being back at work and me, you know, having to feed and care for my child. I wear a mask any time I venture out of my bedroom. I spend as little time in the “main house” as possible. Carla cries at bedtime because I can’t hug and kiss her goodnight. We have a little stash of rapid tests and have been making good use of them, and Carla and I went to the pharmacy the other day to get PCR tests. (That was nerve-wracking – we both wore masks AND I kept all the car windows wide open the whole time.) (My husband calmly reminds me that we were all just in a car/hotel room together, windows closed and maskless, for fifteen days.) Carla’s PCR test was negative, mine was not. I don’t know how I could manage to be the only one to get Covid, but if that’s how it works out, I will be very glad. Carla did just get her booster before we left, so I’m hoping she was at Peak Immunity when she was exposed to me and my germs. 

Here’s what I want to know about isolating in a home you share with others. How does it WORK? My bedroom is not magically on some alternate air circulation system. Every time I open the door, surely germs are escaping into the rest of the house. My mask isn’t trapping 100% of all the little Covid particles. HOW can we avoid getting Carla sick? It seems impossible. And yet, some people manage? I think? 

The next two bullets are Deeply Boring and yet I cannot bring myself to delete them.

I have been trying to do a little work from my bedroom. This means phone calls, my least favorite task of all. Do you recall the bank that charges us an annual “inactive” fee for an account whose sole purpose is sit there as collateral until we pay off a loan? (All the mind-numbing details are here.) After three years of arguing with people who cannot grasp simple concepts who work there, we sailed through 2020 AND 2021 without a late fee, and I was so delighted! They’d finally made a note on my account that there was no reason for me to make a deposit in an account that I cannot access, and had stopped charging me! You can sense what’s coming next, right? My husband alerted me this past May that we had now been charged a total of $12.00 in inactive fees. (Which means they DID charge us in 2021; we just didn’t notice.) Perhaps the bank had waived the fee in 2020 because of The State of Things. And apparently we simply did not notice when we began to lose $2.00 a month from the account. Whoops. As I have mentioned a billion times, normally I HATE making phone calls. But this one particular issue makes me practically giddy with wanting to tell someone how ASININE and RIDICULOUS it is. I was Let Me Talk to a Manager level irritated, after FIVE YEARS (minus the 2020 exception) of this nonsense. So back in May I called the bank and gave the lucky person who answered my spiel about how we should not be charged an inactive fee because the purpose of the account is to remain inactive. Unlike all the other brainless fools everyone else I’ve spoken to at the bank, she IMMEDIATELY understood that it was ridiculous to expect me to add even a single dollar to an account that I cannot touch. Not just ridiculous, but virtually impossible, considering that I don’t have checks or a debit card for that account, nor do I have digital access to the account, nor do I live within a 20 minutes’ drive of the bank. The account is under the control of the bank until we pay off the loan. The woman I spoke to Got It. Like, without my having to do anything but sketch out the basic issue, she said incredulously, “Well that’s ridiculous. Of course you wouldn’t want to add funds to an account you can’t touch! There’s no reason you should be paying an inactive fee on an account that’s meant to be inactive!” It took the bluster out of my Let Me Talk to a Manager sails, but it was SO mollifying to be understood. She said that she would talk with the bank supervisor and get the charge reversed AND she would have them make a note on our file. I was very pleased with the interaction. (Usually, the person I speak to says that ALL we have to do is deposit something in the account! It can be as little as a dollar! Once a year! And there are branches in X and Y and Z cities! Which, yes, I get that this sounds like a small amount of time and money and a very minimal hassle, but THE PRINCIPLE.) You know, perhaps, where this is heading. We came home to another statement which, alongside the credit of the $12, included a debit of $2 for a new inactive fee. ENDLESS SCREAMING.

Yes, I have a second bullet point about the banking thing. This morning, I called the bank and asked specifically to speak to the person I’d spoken to in May. Her name was similar to a fairly common name, but one syllable was different – like “Carlotte” instead of “Charlotte” or “Car-ree” instead of “Carrie” or “Samintha” instead of “Samantha.” I love her with my whole heart. She made things happen AND fully grasped why this situation is so stupid/frustrating. The person I spoke to put me on hold and then said that Samintha was not available but he would connect me to customer service. Sad, but okay. Customer Service means, as I discovered, the customer service line for the entire national banking system, when really I wanted to talk to someone (Samintha, sob!) in my local branch. Oh well. The customer service agent was very nice. His name was Tryin’ with a B. I explained to him that this is an annual problem, and gave him the quick and dirty details, and then he explained to me what was happening. “Oh, I think what the issue is, is that you have a LOAN, and this is a CHECKING ACCOUNT (it’s not, actually – it’s a money market account that we cannot access), and since you haven’t made any deposits or withdrawals, they are charging you an inactive fee.” Yes, thank you for repeating the exact same thing I just told you. And, nice as Tryin’ was, he couldn’t DO anything about it because the only person who can DO anything about it is the manager of my local branch. Tryin’ promised me he would call me back but I’m not holding my breath. I think I will see if I can get a hold of Samintha tomorrow.

I get canker sores about once a month and they are GOING WILD right now. I think this is a hormonal thing, but maybe it is a Covid thing? Who knows. Seems like EVERYTHING could be a Covid thing. And yes, canker sores are different from cold sores. They are basically little ulcers that occur inside the mouth, usually on the cheeks or under the tongue. Sometimes I get them on my gums, too. They are AWFUL. I have a massive one under my tongue and one on the very back part of my tongue right where my tongue brushes up against my bottom molars. 

The news is so enduringly turbulent. I just typed and erased a 634 word diatribe about one of the various Hot Button Issues that is driving me mad/making me worry that I have made a terrible mistake bringing a child into this fraught world. But I don’t like to write about Hot Button Issues on this blog, so I deleted it. (If I want to torment myself gnash my teeth and rend my garments over The State of Things catch up on world events, I will look at the news or go on Twitter.) Not that I have anything new or groundbreaking or interesting to say anyway; just vents/frets/threats of walking into the sea. There are SO MANY things going on and I have Feelings about many of them and yet I feel like it is utterly pointless to talk about them. The people I might discuss them with either disagree with me strenuously, which means voicing my own thoughts would lead to the type of confrontational encounter I HATE, and not to mention there’s no way I can convince anyone to feel differently from how they do; I don’t know enough of the background and facts, nor am I well-spoken enough to craft a convincing argument… or they already agree with me, and discussing things will just drive us each deeper into the pits of despair/rage we are already existing in.

I have eaten the last of the Reese’s peanut butter eggs.

My father (a physician for 40+ years) (I don’t know why I feel like I have to make sure you know he’s qualified to give advice) suggested that I make sure Carla is getting enough calcium. This is an ongoing concern, but one I haven’t properly fretted about recently, so I’m in Full Fret Mode right now. Apparently, she needs 1,300 mg of calcium per day – or four servings. She doesn’t get enough calcium. She refuses to drink milk – yes, even chocolate milk. She eats a bunch of cheese, and there is 200 mg of calcium per ounce of block cheddar or per 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar, so that helps, but it’s not enough. She only eats yogurt occasionally. She doesn’t even really like ice cream (and has never liked milkshakes) (she IS related to both me and my ice cream loving husband, I assure you). She eats cream cheese – it’s one of her non-pork camp foods this summer – but, despite having both “cream” and “cheese” right there in the name, there is only 26 mg of calcium per two tablespoons of cream cheese. (And NONE in the whipped cream cheese!) My mom and I walked through a whole list of foods that contain calcium and of that list Carla eats two things with moderate consistency: chickpeas and cheese. And sometimes yogurt. Very rarely, almonds. My mom was being really creative, too. What about calcium fortified orange juice? What about almond milk and almond butter? Carla does not drink juice and she will not touch almond milk with a ten-foot pole. I have no idea if I could get her to eat almond butter but my confidence level is low. Some people have suggested Ensure, but my guess is that if she refuses milk/juice/milkshakes, she will refuse Ensure as well. My current plan is try to coax her into drinking a smoothie every day. I can pack it with yogurt, almond milk, AND calcium fortified orange juice. She likes smoothies. We used to drink a mango smoothie together every week on the drive to ballet practice. But I am not sure if I can get her drink one every single day. My father thinks we should start giving her Tums. (We cannot do the Viactiv chocolate calcium chews.) Probably we will have to use a multi-pronged approach, with smoothies on one prong and roasted chickpeas and plenty of cheese on another prong and Tums on another prong. If you have any magical calcium ideas, I will prong them right up. 

Our refrigerator is unplugged and empty right now. This is something we’ve been planning to do, for awhile, and it’s not like I’m making big elaborate dinners at the moment, so it seems like a good time. We bought the fridge in 2011. It has some real advantages, like that it is beautiful and also it holds a TON of food. But it’s been plagued with issues almost from the beginning. To name a few: the door closing mechanism fails on a regular basis (I have learned how to source the replacement part and repair it myself), the ice maker broke and had to be repaired, the water dispenser pressure dropped off precipitously for no discernible (or fixable) reason, the bottom of the fridge fills with water that then turns to ice, the ice maker and dispenser chute are often coated with a slick black mold, the electronic panel frequently disconnects from the temperature readout and makes an incessant tinkling noise. ET CETERA. The most recent repairman I had in the house informed me that the ice problem was A Known Issue with this brand of fridge (GE/Samsung) and that it is unfixable. (He also said that if he’d known in advance this was the fridge we had, he wouldn’t have come out because he knows it is unfixable and wouldn’t want me to have to pay the service fee his company charges for sending someone to our house; he declined to charge me the service fee.) He suggested that best thing we can do is unplug it for three days, wait for the internal mechanisms to thaw, and then plug it back in and hope it works for about six months before we have to do it again. So that is what we are doing: we are thawing out the fridge in hopes that it will magically reset. We are lucky enough to have a second (though much smaller) fridge in the basement, so I have relocated the foods we cannot live without/cannot bear to toss. It is a jumbled mess down there, but at least it functions. However, now I have to run downstairs for every little thing and it’s a pain. (My husband keeps asking me, “Are you breathing heavily because you just went down two flights of stairs to the basement to get a plum and then walked back up two flights of stairs to the bedroom or because you have Covid?”) My father thinks, in a non-pressurey way, that we should just replace the damn fridge already. But I am one of those people who wants a key appliance to LOOK a certain way, and I have grown accustomed to how spacious it is. And have you SEEN how expensive refrigerators are?!?! I am not in the mood to spend one-, two- or three-THOUSAND dollars when a refrigerator should be a ONE-TIME purchase. Of course maybe we will plug the fridge back in and it will refuse to work and we will have to buy one anyway. Fun times! 

Speaking of fun times, summer feels like its coming to a close. I feel like there was so much anticipation about the summer, and our Road Trip!, and now the Road Trip! is over and Carla only has two weeks left of camp and then school will start before we know it and then it’s practically Thanksgiving, which might as well be Christmas and then a WHOLE YEAR will have passed.

A final Covid fret (for today, at least): My husband and Carla are following all the Covid protocols set forth by the CDC, my husband’s workplace, and Carla’s camp… but I am still fretting. I am being Very Strident about Carla wearing her mask, and her camp is mainly outdoors, and they only admitted children who were fully vaccinated, but ACK. I am fretting that Carla (despite having no symptoms and still testing negative on a rapid test) will somehow spread this stupid disease to others. (Also, I am very grateful for my little stockpile of rapid tests.) I hate being contagious. It is STUPID and I HATE IT. Well. As of tomorrow, according to the CDC, I am okay to leave isolation and rejoin the public, as long as I wear a mask. I haven’t taken a rapid test since the one that read positive, so I don’t know that I am negative yet, and that seems Kind Of Important, even though no one else (CDC, I am glaring in your direction) seems to agree. Anyway: I don’t have anywhere I plan to go, but the reasons that I COULD are positive: I have no fever (I don’t think I ever did) and my symptoms are improving. Except for the crankiness. That has, if anything, increased.

What are you fretting about? What’s making you cranky? Any complaints to share?

Read Full Post »

I have always dreamed extremely vivid – and usually super violent – dreams. But it’s been a long while since I’ve remembered any. 

This past week, I’ve had two that stuck with me after the fact. 

In one, I dreamed I was in an enclosure hiding from bears. The bears WERE going to attack, and if anyone wasn’t in the enclosure, they WOULD be mauled. There were other people who kept coming into my enclosure, but no one seemed to grasp the fact that BEARS CAN OPEN DOORS, and so they were leaving all the doors unlocked, so I had to keep going around and around to all the doors, locking them and shooting meaningful, grim looks to my fellow enclosees, none of whom seemed capable of grasping the fact that MAULING WAS IMMINENT. There were a LOT of doors, and the enclosure kept expanding. At one point, I went outside into a fenced-in area. The fences had barbed wire on top of them, but they were all only about two feet tall so that a really determined bear could simply step over them. 

I think we can all deduce what particular anxiety THAT dream is about.

The other dream is less memorable, and less perilous. But no less upsetting, for me. In the dream, I dropped Carla off at someone’s house for a playdate, and the mother invited me in to join everyone for a snack. The snack was bananas (which I do not eat), but Carla hissed at me, “You have to be polite.” So I ate a piece of a banana. And the host cut off another slice of banana, so I ate that too. And another. And another. Even though I haven’t eaten a banana since… preschool? I can still feel that mushy, sickly sweetness in my mouth. 

This dream, too, has a direct source. Our lovely neighbor has invited me and Carla over for lunch. The date is still pending, but oh my goodness I wish I could get out of it! 

Eating at other people’s homes has always been a HUGE source of anxiety for me. While I do eat a large variety of foods, I have a lot of super picky aversions. It’s not as easy as saying, “Oh, I have an allergy to X” and then the host just doesn’t cook with X. The list is so long I could not even hope to cover it all.

I remember, as a kid, DREADING going over to other people’s houses to eat. Just absolutely finding it awful. I have a vivid memory of sitting at a friend’s dining table with her whole family as they ate what was, I’m sure, a perfectly lovely meal, and I was just choked with anxiety because I did not want to eat any of it. And I tried to eat things here and there – the bread, maybe – and my friend’s mother was scolding me to clean my plate. It was awful. I don’t think I ever ate at that friend’s house again. In fact, unless someone was clearly and definitely serving pizza or tacos, I don’t think I ever ate at ANYONE’s house again.

I will never do the ”clean your plate” thing to Carla and I will never force one of her friends in my care to eat something she doesn’t want to. But that’s children. I am a grown adult. I should be able to go to someone’s house and eat the food. And yet. It is very anxiety producing, because I am equally afraid that a) I will have to eat something I dislike or b) I will offend the host by rejecting something I do not want to eat. 

I would say that my husband and I only rarely eat at other people’s houses. We have two sets of friends with whom we dine occasionally, and I feel like they are close enough friends that I can say, “No, I don’t eat lamb” when they ask, in advance of the dinner, if we eat lamb chops. (I say it regretfully, and embarrassedly, but with great relief.) But with the vast majority of people, you just show up! And eat the food they serve! I remember going to a new friend’s house and they served an absolutely beautiful meal of which the main course was chicken parmesan. Each breast was just smothered in tomatoes, which is probably my Number One Most Reviled Food. I cannot eat tomatoes; I have tried. I think I tried to be surreptitious in how I scraped them off the chicken, and then I helped wash the dishes, and I am SO hopeful that the host didn’t notice. (I am guessing the host noticed; I would notice. I would then, as host, fret that the food was bad or that I’d made something unpalatable to one of the guests.) Another time, we went to a friend’s house and she served chili with chunks of tomatoes in it. I ate around the tomatoes, but it’s so hard to do that in an unnoticeable way, and yet I cannot eat the tomatoes. I WISH I COULD. If I had access to a genie, and could only make selfish and self-serving wishes, I am pretty sure “make it so I love tomatoes” would be one of them.  

All this talk about tomatoes is making me queasy.

Along the same lines: Carla eats nothing. She is FAR more picky than I am and has not developed the techniques I have honed over the years for eating things she doesn’t like but can stand, or taking (as my mother-in-law calls it) a no-thank-you portion of something she doesn’t want, or trying something that doesn’t look appealing, or swiftly moving an item to her husband’s plate for him to eat instead.  

So now, this lovely, wonderful woman has extended this lovely invitation… to two people who eat NOTHING… and I not only have to somehow overcome my own anxieties about eating but also model good guest behavior to my child. Ugh ugh ugh. (What if she serves egg salad, a food I do not think I could force myself to eat??? Or some kind of lunch meat??? Or almost any normal lunch food????????)

Is there any way, after I have already said, “Oh that sounds lovely” to the neighbor, to now go back and say something like, “Carla and I have a bunch of really fussy food aversions – would it be possible to come have a glass of lemonade instead?” Is there any way?????? There isn’t, is there. I can almost picture her face falling as we reject her LOVELY invitation. Which is almost – but not quite – as bad as facing the Unknown Food. 

Read Full Post »

My hands are still shaking from a horrendously embarrassing experience, so I am trying to distract myself with some fun and fluff. 

Oh, you want to share in my humiliation first? Okay. 

I texted the owner of The Kitten to see if Carla could come visit him (“him” meaning the kitten; the owner is a woman). I had recently put her number in my phone, at Carla’s request. She’d (the kitten owner, not Carla) texted me so I would have her number, and I’d added her to my contacts. I tend to add people to my phone as “FirstName LastName,” and then never include any other identifying details… and you are well aware that I have a terrible memory… so there are multiple people in my phone who are now complete mysteries to me. One of these days I should really go through my phone and delete those people. 

I clicked on the kitten owner’s name – noting briefly that there was no prior text from her; I must have deleted it – and texted her: Hi, this is Carla’s mom. Is there a good time for Carla to come visit The Kitten?

A few minutes later I got back a series of question marks. 

As you may have intuited from my expert foreshadowing, I texted THE WRONG PERSON. Apparently, I have two people with the same first name in my phone. A fact which I have long since forgotten. The one whose name popped up when I started the text was the wrong one. 


Is this an old work contact? Is this someone for whom I’ve done freelance work? Is she a fellow parent from Carla’s school? Is she a board member I’ve interviewed for a writing project? Is she someone I went to grad school with? Is she a friend of a friend I’d connected with at some point? Is she some sort of service provider I have employed at some point? ZERO IDEA. 

I typed back, So sorry! I must have the wrong number!

But what I REALLY should have typed back was, So sorry! I must have typed the wrong FirstName!

Because if she is in my phone, there is a real likelihood that we know each other, and have interacted via phone before. Which means that there is a real possibility that she is sitting there wondering a) why I am contacting her about a kitten she doesn’t know and b) why I am pretending it was a wrong number and c) why I haven’t asked her how her work/family/life is. 

But I have no idea who this person is, or why she is a contact in my phone. I even googled her and I swear I have never seen her before in my life. But she was in my phone. So we must have known each other at some point! 

All I can do is hope that this person has as terrible a memory as I do, and has long since removed me from her phone, and isn’t feeling hurt/miffed/weirded out by my faux pas. 


I have some questions for you. 

Weigh In #1: What food do you hate, but wish you didn’t? While I am a very choosy eater, I don’t feel particularly bad about it most of the time. I eat enough of a variety of foods that I’m pretty confident I can go to any restaurant or any friend’s house and find something to eat. I’ve never once thought, “I wish I enjoyed lamb. Or beets.” But there are a few foods I hate that I really wish I didn’t. 

Tomatoes. I hate tomatoes so very, very much. But they are one of those wildly ubiquitous foods that show up all the time, in places expected and not. (I cannot tell you how frequently I have encountered tomatoes on a Caesar salad, when they have no place in a Caesar salad.) Life would be so much easier and more pleasant if I just liked tomatoes! Or could at least tolerate them! Even friends who kindly ask about food preferences before they invite us over sometimes have tomatoes in their offerings, and I am just so very weary of being that picky person who doesn’t like tomatoes. 

Oatmeal. I cannot bring myself to enjoy oatmeal. Outside of oatmeal cookies, which are the sole exception. But lots of people genuinely enjoy oatmeal, and it seems like such a hearty, healthful food. I really wish I liked it. 

Eggs. Outside of scrambled eggs – which, even then, I only like a specific way – I avidly dislike eggs in ALL FORMS. But they are versatile and easy and full of protein. I want to like them. 

Weigh In #2: What is the best seat on an airplane? I prefer the window, myself. I like being tucked in next to the wall, I like being able to look out during turbulence to reassure myself that we are not in fact falling out of the sky, I like being able to lean my head against a solid surface. But when I fly with my family, my husband is the one who gets the window (although sometimes he swaps with Carla) and I get the aisle. I do not care for the aisle, because it puts me in close proximity to people, and those people tend to be very oblivious to the boundary between their space in the aisle and my space in my actual seat. The only benefit to the aisle seat is easy access to bathroom breaks. But then again, you have to be the one to pop up and down while the middle- or window-seater squeezes past you to the bathroom. I still remember the time I flew and a woman in front of me refused to swap seats with her row-mate’s spouse, because the spouse was in a window seat. “I have a bum leg, and I prefer the aisle so I can stretch out my leg,” she said. But… you aren’t supposed to stretch your leg into the aisle, right??!?! Isn’t that a tripping hazard? Isn’t that begging for a new leg injury when the drinks cart slams into your shin? 

Weigh In #3: What is your worst time-wasting habit? I am already terrible about spending too much time on social media. But more recently, I have found new depths to my time wasting online, which is that I have gotten sucked into watching gender reveals on Instagram. There is literally nothing beneficial about this habit – except that I derive occasional joy from the rare parent that shows true, unbridled joy at the result. Okay, and usually only if that unbridled joy is coming from the male parent, and in response to a pink result. These videos are fascinating, though. There are a bunch that feature the same bearded guy, who must run some sort of company that offers and records these sorts of reveals. There are a bunch where the timing is off. There are a bunch where the couple have other children, some of whom seem very disaffected by the whole event. 

The worst – and most fascinating – ones are the ones where one parent is CLEARLY disappointed by the result. I am not faulting someone for being disappointed: when I was pregnant, I was SURE I was having a boy, and I pictured a tiny blond copy of my husband. I got very attached to this fantasy. When we found out that Carla was a girl, I was disappointed. I hope you know that not a single cell of my body is disappointed NOW, now that Carla is a real wonderful human and it has become clear to me that everything I love about her is completely unrelated to her sex. But I get the disappointment. What I find perplexing is recording that disappointment and then posting it for the world to see. Perplexing and fascinating.  

Anyway. That is how I have been wasting far too many minutes of my one wild and precious life lately. I blame spring break. 

Now it’s your turn. Please weigh in. 

Read Full Post »

Last week was a call week, which are just… awful. This one was particularly rough – really hard on my husband, who already finds call extra stressful, and hard on my kid, who still finds it strange and unsettling that her father is suddenly unavailable for a week. And, although it is the least hard on me, it is harder on me than normal because it is seven days of solo parenting and taking care of all of the day-to-day stuff my husband usually shares with me. On top of call week, today was a school holiday. So I just experienced three active, full, wonderful days with my daughter, and one of those days included a dental appointment (mine) and all three days required an hour-plus of driving, twice on the freeway which I loathe. I also made a phone call I have been putting off (please clap) and had to leave a message (argh). There is somehow copious amounts of dirty laundry in To Wash piles on my floor AND copious amounts of clean laundry on the guest bed waiting for me to fold it. (Don’t hold your breath.) (I did manage to wash everyone’s sheets and make the beds.) None of this sounds particularly trying, or worse than normal, but I am exhausted and ready to get back to our non-call week routine. 

Because it was a call week, we did a lot of on-the-fly meal decision making, and I did last-minute trips to the store to pick up pre-made foods a couple of times. We ordered pizza last night. We only made a few of the things on my meal plan last week. That’s fine. That’s how it goes. 

As I type this, Carla is watching TV (which I don’t usually allow on school nights) and eating a snack dinner. Snack dinner is one of my biggest parenting “hacks” (if you can call it a hack instead of “being lazy” which clearly I am choosing to do) because it allows me to put together a quick and easy no-cook meal in minutes, with things I have lying around. Pepperoni or ham, cheddar cheese or Babybel cheese, fruit, tomatoes, broccoli, sugar snap peas, mini bagels and cream cheese, capers, olives, guacamole, crackers or chips or toast. It’s not a long list, but we usually have most of those things lying around. Snack dinners also allow me to give Carla “just a taste” of things that she might not otherwise consider edible. For instance, we bought a watermelon radish at the store today because Carla was curious about it. Curiosity means opportunity to extend Carla’s list of acceptable foods, so I bought one. It can go in the salad I am making this week. 

Yes, that is a My Little Pony plate. Carla now prefers the regular china, but I still try to give her the cute kids’ plates when I can get away with it. I have asked her, and she is not ready for me to dispose of the cute kids’ plates. She just doesn’t want to use them all the time.

I also added mini cucumbers to her plate. She LOVES pickles (although we are no longer going through them a jar per week), so why does she not love cucumbers? This baffles me, even though I LOVE pickles and do not like cucumbers; I do, at least, keep forcing myself to buy and eat cucumbers because it makes no sense. They are THE SAME THING. Also in cucumber bafflement, why is it that you can either buy an enormous English cucumber that will feed you for a week, if you eat the cucumber every night of that week, or feed you for a meal or two and then slowly disintegrate into mush in your crisper… OR you can buy a package of teeny cucumbers that will definitely get soft and squishy before you can eat all of them… but you can buy a single “one-serving” zucchini, which looks identical to a cucumber but is not, no problem? WHY. I demand choose-your-portion cucumbers! I demand it!

As long as we are being devil-may-care with the rules, I am having a glass of wine, which has nothing whatsoever to do with my cucumber demands. Holidays/days when the kids are off of school still count as the weekend, right? Right. I am drinking Kirkland brand Prosecco rose from Costco and I love it. It is bubbly AND pink. Doubly fun. I have been avoiding going to Costco, even though we are rapidly running out of the things we buy exclusively there (kitchen garbage bags, dishwasher detergent, microwave bacon yes I know, butter), but perhaps I can use the promise of MORE Prosecco rose as a carrot to get me to go. I am annoyed that rose doesn’t have the appropriate accent but not annoyed enough to fix it.

Oh. Right. Dinners.

Dinners for the Week of February 21-27

  • Chicken Romano with Parmesan Roasted Broccoli: I am just OFF chicken. Urgh. I think I am off ground beef, too, which is unfortunate. Thank goodness there are so many fish in the sea, and on the grocery store counter! If I start being squicked out by fish… maybe I become a vegetarian? I like beans well enough, although they don’t particularly care for me. 
  • Asian Salad: Once again, I will be eating salmon. I bought my husband a pre-marinated teriyaki chicken breast. We will add mandarin oranges, sugar snap peas, red bell pepper, scallions, and the aforementioned watermelon radish.
  • Carnitas Tacos: This sounds yummy. (So far, pork and I are still friends.) And I could totally use a crockpot meal this week.
  • Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles: I have a hankering for shrimp scampi, but the last time I made it, it was a disaster. So this is NOT shrimp scampi. It is “garlic butter shrimp with zucchini noodles.” (Or, as I first typed it, shrim with noddles, and then I corrected that to shimp with nooooodles. I am tired.)
  • Takeout: This is the week of my birthday, so I am planning to order Mexican takeout and stuff myself with enchiladas and cake. (P.S. Colleen and I share the same birthday! If you are up to it, head on over to her blog and give her some birthday love.) 

The verdict on the watermelon radish is that it is TOO SPICY. (She ate the smallest possible sliver and spat it out. Sigh.) And I STILL don’t want to go to Costco.

Read Full Post »

Welcome to the first week of dinners for the new year. An entire year of meal planning and shopping for those meals and cooking those meals (or not cooking them, in favor of something that sounds better/easier in the moment) and eating those meals and cleaning up those meals stretches before us.

While that doesn’t sound particularly appealing, I am feeling a tiny burst of energy about it all. The transition from indulgent holiday food to lighter, more regular meals feels refreshing. I spent a bunch of time this weekend looking through recipe blogs for new possibilities; it sometimes helps to have something New and Exciting – or at least New – to keep me out of the meal planning doldrums. I am going to lean into it while I can, before the inevitable drudgery of making meals day after day after day until death settles over me like a weighted blanket.

We did not make sticky toffee pudding yesterday, so that is back on the list for this weekend. (We did get food from my favorite Indian restaurant for dinner, and it was especially delicious. I would rather have chicken vindaloo ten times over than sticky toffee pudding, so it was a win for me. Plus, leftovers for lunch!)

This week, with Carla doing remote school (and therefore getting to sleep in a little later each morning), I am going to make an effort to have us all eat together. Normally, Carla eats dinner by herself at about 5:30 or 6:00, and my husband and I eat dinner around 8:00 or 8:30. Yes, I hate it, thanks. In an ideal world, we would eat together more often, giving us more family time together… and also giving us opportunities to model things like table manners and conversational skills and “trying new things” to Carla. I’m hoping my husband will get home early enough (people are canceling appointments right and left, which is Not Great Bob) that we can all eat together. This doesn’t mean I will be able to make one dinner for us all, of course, because I want Carla to actually eat something. But I can at least make similar foods (chicken nuggets or fish sticks when we have a saucy chicken or fish dish; raw versions of the veggies we eat) that I know she will eat, and add small portions of whatever my husband and I are eating to her plate. It is very challenging to have a picky child, especially since I am a picky eater myself, and I know how upsetting it can be to try new things. Plus, I know that deciding what to eat and what to refuse is one of the few things that Carla has autonomy over, and I don’t want to rob her of the ability to say no for so many reasons. But I also want her to eat more things than chicken nuggets and frozen peas and plain white rice, FOR THE LOVE OF COD.

Parenting quandary detour over.

There are only five meals on the plan for this week, to give us some wiggle room for last-minute additions or cravings.

Dinners for the Week of January 3-9

Chicken and Zucchini Stir Fry: You know by now that this is one of my favorite dinners. Plus it has a lot of vegetables, which means it fits in nicely with my “more veg” aspiration. Plus my husband suggested it; whether as a peace offering for not making the sticky toffee pudding or because he genuinely is in the mood, I don’t care because I love it. (My spell checker thinks that “peace” is misspelled in the previous sentence… though not in this one. Why are you messing with me, spell checker? Underlining a word I KNOW how to spell is making me question everything I thought I knew.) (It’s definitely not “piece offering,” right? RIGHT?)

Steak, Pepper, & Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry: I guess I am in a stir fry mood today? This is a new-to-me recipe and sounds different and yummy and veggie packed. I will probably ignore the steak, but my husband will eat it, and we have a package in the freezer at this very moment. Carla likes steak and (raw) sugar snap peas… I wonder if I can persuade her to eat this? Unlikely but I will try.

Follow Up: I loved this — it was such a nice change from our usual stir fries. My husband said it was too salty, though, and I don’t know how to change that since the sauce contains soy sauce. Carla ate a piece of the steak and a piece of the pepper and voted them too spicy (there is sriracha in the sauce as well), but she tried them! (She also ate a slice of beef tenderloin, a pile of raw sugar snap peas, a few slices of raw red pepper, and a big heap of rice.)

Honey-Garlic Glazed Salmon with Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts: Another aspiration is to get my family to eat more fish. I love fish. Carla used to LOVE salmon. But now she and my husband turn up their noses. Well, perhaps if I slather it in a sweet glaze?

Oven Baked Pork Chops with Steamed Broccoli: We will probably have some couscous alongside this old standby, which, incidentally, is another Husband SuggestedTM Meal.

Baked Tilapia with Coconut Cilantro Sauce with Sautéed Green Beans: Listen, there is NO WAY that Carla will even try this. But it sounds amazing and I think my husband will like it. Especially if I can find cod instead of tilapia.

What are you eating this week?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »