Food and Exercise Edition, alternately titled Maybe I Will Feed Them Ratatouille

FOOD

One of the joys of motherhood (if you believe the parenting magazines, and you shouldn’t) is giving your children the opportunity to expand their palates by providing a varied diet, and encouraging them to try new foods.  My children are spooked by such exotic fare as rice and mashed potatoes (the horrors!), but they are getting old enough to eat like real people, and I am TIRED TO MY BONES of chicken nuggets.  (I believe I’ve mentioned the concept of eating anything in a form labelled “nugget” strikes me as vastly unappealing, but WHAT DO I KNOW.)  Anyway, I have been trying to occasionally vary our dinners, and let’s just say the concept is not a popular one.

Last night I decided to make Italian sausage with linguini in a red pepper cream sauce.  (Dear Safeway:  It’s fine that you charge six dollars a pound for organic bell peppers, it really is.  And it’s fine to stick stickers on them.  But is it too much to ask that the stickers actually PEEL OFF?  I had to throw away a chunk the size of a golf ball, which by the calculations I just randomly made up in my head cost roughly $1.72.  Not cool.)  The kids will eat spaghetti and meatballs, so how bad could it be?  I will tell you!  I got the reaction I would have expected had I presented them with RAW GOPHER SPLEENS.

Okay, that perhaps sounded extreme.  Here is a summation of what actually occurred. Gregory hid the “red things” in his napkin, and amazingly ate the noodles and “meatballs”(!)  Matthew decided starvation looked like a better option, and took off like a rocket.  Michael raged over how unfair his life is and offered to personally deliver his meal to a child in a third world country, but the lure of fruit snacks won out, so he DRAMATICALLY AND WITH GREAT DRAMA held his nose and shoveled pasta in (and I do mean shoveled, I’ve seen elephants with better manners.)  Andrew refused to even look at his food, and communicated his displeasure with our evening meal by wailing until the walls shook.

I’m thinking that approximates a 43% success rate.  WE’VE HAD WORSE.

(** Update!  Tonight I made a Thai Chicken Stir Fry.  It was actually really good.  Gregory said it smelled like nail polish.  Michael ate half of his, the other’s remained untouched.  I WILL WIN, I SWEAR IT.)

EXERCISE

There is an article in the March issue of Vogue that discusses how a short, high- intensity workout can be just as effective as a longer, lower-intensity one.  It ended up being a very interesting article.  I will [no doubt break lots of copyright laws and] share an excerpt:

“The research I’d read on high-intensity interval training (HIT) made it sound totally excellent- effective and efficient.  In the lab, rats that worked out hard (swimming with weights) for four and a half minutes, in 20-second intervals, reaped all the same physiological benefits as rats that slogged through six hours of swimming at lower intensity.”

I found this research to be extremely compelling.  Rats working out!  Who knew?!  With weights!  Little rat weights!  The article didn’t mention the little rat elliptical machines, or Beyonce squeaking out of little rat ipods, it went back to talking about “people”.  (Sheesh.)  And what are these benefits, exactly?  Little rat six packs?  Do the rats wax their tummies, like the guys of Jersey Shore?  (They must!  How else to see the six packs?)  (Rat packs!  Ha ha!)

And here all this time you probably thought Vogue was about “fashion”.  Luckily you have the benefit of my journalistic detection skills to bring you the BREAKING NEWS in animal science.  I do not take this responsibility lightly, fellow citizens.  Next up- SELF (“Beauty Special- The 2-Minute Trick To Looking Well Rested!”)  (Let me guess- a RAT NAP!  Ha ha!)

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February 25, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Natalis du Februarius (Don’t worry, I don’t know what it means either.)

As I am sure you’re aware, February contains some very important holidays.  In fact, the whole month is pretty much one big partay!  The Super Bowl, for instance!  Mardi Gras!  Groundhog Day is a lively one, because if you are not excited about a day devoted to celebrating a giant rodent then, well, I really don’t know what’s wrong with you.  President’s Day was big this year!  I noticed a lot of people getting flowers and candy around that time, and was impressed by the patriotism those gestures clearly exhibited.  But by far the most significant holiday was the birthday of my niece, aka Anna, aka My Favorite Person In The World!  She is two now, and disturbingly intelligent.  She knows the entire alphabet (Andrew and Gregory, who are five, can [with some wild guessing] name most of the letters), she knows all of her colors (including the difference between ochre and chartreuse), and she started Calculus II last week.  So what to give her?  

A doll, of course!  And naturally I couldn’t buy one, like a NORMAL  person.  (Ha!)  No, I had to make one!  This was my first time making a doll, and so being me I couldn’t use a pattern (like a NORMAL person would have) and instead floundered my way through it with dazzling ineptitude, which now that I think about it is pretty much my life’s own personal motto.  (“Floundering wildly with ineptitude, since 1978!”)

First I drew a doll-ish shape on some fabric.  So far, so good!  I began to cut it out, as Gregory began shrieking for Andrew to come at once, announcing with great relish that “she’s gonna kill the baby!”  This was VERY EXCITING NEWS, for as I’m sure you know, there is nothing more fun than some good old fashioned voodoo baby torture.  They watched with wide eyes as I attacked the baby with my scissors, then my sewing machine, before packing it full of stuffing.  And, for a thrilling climax, I stabbed it in its face with a needle, over and over again!  Once the violence was over they lost interest, which is good, because I started getting cranky.  Cranky because I was making the dress, and while doing so began to see a distinct advantage in purchasing lead-filled chemical-laden Made in China toys, namely a LACK OF HAND CRAMPS.  (The dress was small, and my fingers are not.)   I ended up crocheting a little sweater, because the thought of sewing sleeves made me want to weep.  (Of course she needed her arms covered, it is February, people!  That’s how you catch pneumonia!)

(No, I do not consider myself to be slightly nutty about my craft projects, why would you ask such a ridiculous question?!)

Her dress has cats on it, because Anna loves kitties, and letters, because when Anna is not watching Dora the Explorer she likes to translate Latin for fun.

She seemed to like her baby.  The first thing she did was to check for a little diaper, which was nice, in a satisfying sort of way.  Because if you have never sewed bits of velcro to a doll-sized felt diaper before, DON’T.  Unless you enjoy those hand cramps I mentioned.

OR unless it is for your Favorite Little Girl In The Whole Entire World, in which case it is totally worth it.  Happy birthday, Anna!  Let me know when you are finished with Vitruvius’s De Architectura, and we’ll snack out on some fishy crackers!

(In other holiday news, my dad is taking me out for a nice President’s Day dinner tomorrow evening.  I will have to buy him some Abraham Lincoln-shaped chocolates.)

February 16, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The more upset I am, the longer my sentences get (I find words comforting) (Yes, I’m odd, but we knew THAT already)

So!  The other day I wrote about a development in my personal life.  Although I made a conscious effort to go in to no detail of any sort on the matter, someone was offended.  In order to placate the offended party, I have temporarily removed the post until the legal proceedings currently underway are complete.  At first I was unsettled by the thought of having to censor my writing in what I consider to be my private space, especially since reading anything I write here is a personal decision the reader consciously makes, however after some thought on the matter I decided it is fair to write only about myself and exclude those that wish to be excluded.

I was slightly bewildered by the assertion I received in reference to the lighthearted manner in which I wrote about the above subject.  In my last post I talked about my uncle, who recently died.  Because of the funny, generous, amazing person he was, and the fact that cancer killed him in what should have been the prime of his life, (and I just miss him), his death caused a crushing sadness in me.  And yet how did I memorialize him here?  DONUTS AND A STICK SHIFT.  For a lot of people, humor is a way of coping with the difficulties of life.  Unfortunately, some people think the definition of “humor” is the amount of water vapor present in the air.  I might suggest that if you happen to be one of those people, you may be more comfortable reading something else.  Perhaps a weather forecast.  (Just a suggestion.)

One of several reasons why I wrote about that particular life development was to avoid that murky area where some people know something, some people know nothing, some might know something, some people start talking, other people start talking, and next thing you know it SNOWBALLS in to gossip and rumors and confusion.  I was hoping to keep it straightforward, just state the simple fact as it is, and hopefully avoid any drama.  HA!  “Avoid drama?”  Now THAT’S funny!  I would expand upon the many reasons why I find that incredibly amusing, but I am no longer able to document them here.  Instead you can guess!  Or just make some up!  And go tell people!  So that they can tell people!  Until everybody knows about the thing that some people knew but the others didn’t until they told them what they heard from the first people who knew what they thought they heard!  (Wow, that sounds like fun!  I hope someone tells me!)

February 10, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Kids are doing well, house hasn’t burnt down. Yet.

(Apparently my plan to write more frequently worked out really well.)

I played the violin when I was younger, and have held on to it ever since.  And since one of the most poignant privileges of parenting is living your dreams vicariously through your children (even if they are uninterested, because some things [like vegetables] are just good for their development, and I AM YOUR MOTHER AND I SAY SO) Michael was forced, that is, was happy to join the orchestra.  They just had their first concert.  (He was so cute!  He looked so grown up!)  (How can my child be doing this when I can remember doing this myself?!)  (That particular bow technique is called “Bored Fourth Grade Boy”.)  He did really well, in part because he actually enjoys playing the violin (see, moms DO know everything!)

Matthew just had his Cub Scout Pinewood Derby.  His car was pretty fast, which was rather surprising, seeing as I drew a random car shape on a block of wood, my dad cut it out and popped wheels on, and that was about the extent of our fancy car crafting methods.  Here he is, the little scampHere is a candid snapshot of some of the parents setting up for this event, the night before: Why yes, that IS me!  And yes, I DO own a hairbrush!  Although I apparently did not USE said hairbrush!  And no, I do NOT have any idea what I was doing with my hands!  Do not be fooled in to thinking we were standing around chatting, my odd arm positioning and messy hair CLEARLY point to us being hard at work.  Oh, and that is my friend Marisa in the green sweater.  We bonded a while ago over things like scouts, shoddy, I mean, relaxed mothering techniques, and a proclivity towards alcoholic beverages, and have been inseparable ever since.  (If “inseparable” means “I rummage in her pantry and consume vast quantities of her carbohydrates without asking first”.)  (On second thought, maybe that’s “comfortable”.  Or “rude”.  We’ll go with “comfortable”.)

This is George, my uncle (the kids call him Papageorgio.)  A hockey player practically since birth, he volunteered with an awesome program that taught children with autism and other disabilities how to play ice hockey.  I would go with him to the rink every Saturday, and that is where this picture is from.  Our favorite kid we called “Donut”, because he was obsessed with donuts.  By obsessed I mean that being autistic he could not speak, only make sounds, save for the word “donut”.  ONE WORD he could say, and it was “donut”.  CLEARLY he was our kind of people.

Anyway, George died from cancer a few weeks ago.  I miss him more than I can express in words (which is saying a lot, because we all know by now if I can’t find the right word for something I will just make up my own.)  We spent more time laughing together than is probably legal in some countries.  We shared a similar sense of humor, that we found hysterical, though it inspired much eye-rolling in people less, ah, special than ourselves.  He tried to teach me to drive a stick shift before he got too weak (an uncle-y thing to do, you know), but unfortunately I was a supremely incapable pupil.  I am pretty sure I heard his car weeping tears of sweet relief when that ended, because despite his encouraging words to the contrary, I am fairly sure that NO ENGINE SHOULD MAKE NOISES LIKE THAT.

(I love you George!)

In what seems to have developed in to a sketchy family update post, I saved the twins for last.  They have (occasionally) been really cute with the whole pretend play concept lately (sometimes) (for a couple of minutes) (until they start fighting.)  The other morning they were actually playing nicely (!) in their room, dumping every book they own in to a giant pile they called theirbonfire”.  Cute, right?!  It kept them busy for a while, which was a relief.  Until I walked in later to put away some laundry and noticed the portable heater they plugged in next to the pile of books and turned on high.  So help me Lord if those little bastards were not trying to make AN ACTUAL BONFIRE.  IN THEIR BEDROOM.  Not cool, guys, NOT COOL AT ALL.  No more playing nicely for you two.

February 3, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.