Monday, November 8, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The kindergarten journey has begun in our house.

BB has been so excited to start kindergarten that it was, quite frankly, hard for me to feel incredibly sad about it. But then--gulp--when he hopped on that big yellow school bus in his brand new Star Wars shoes and didn't look back at me and then I saw his little tiny half of a blonde head barely visible in that front seat window, I did lose it in a big old sob as the bus rounded the bend. Yes, he's my firstborn, and ours are so close together, that sometimes I treat him and think of him like my teenager instead of a five-year old. And then to see him on the bus like that--I mean, he was TINY. There was no oldest, wisest anything. He was just Little.

But I went about my day and continued to look at his schedule that I had posted on the refrigerator, "now he's in math", "now in literacy", "now he's eating lunch", etc. I think the hardest thing for me--and I admit this with a touch of embarrassment--is the relinquishing of so much control over his time--to this point, I have had almost sole control over what he ate and whether it was a "healthy choice" and what he watched on television and what other kids he played with and what tone he used with his sisters and whether he was polite with adults, etc. It is hard to recognize that here on out, there are so many other influences on him than mine.

This is the beginning of his journey away from me.

I don't totally lament that, as I recognize functioning without us is a sign of a job well done, blah, blah, but still it is worth Marking the time. This is the beginning.

So then, when the designated time came, the girls and I crossed the street to meet the afternoon bus. He was the last of our neighbor kids to get off and he was looking down at his feet as he stepped down, taking care, I suppose, with those enormous school bus steps. And then he scanned the small crowd of parents and his eyes finally landed on mine and the smile that lit up his face upon seeing me there waiting for him was worth a thousand midnight wakings, a thousand dirty diapers, a thousand Lego meltdowns and a thousand missed foreign travel excursions.

I can't wait to hear about his day. Again. And again.

Ciao a tutti.

PS. My friend Stacy ("anymommy") is one of the best writers I have encountered on the web. She somehow seems to capture the human experience--MY experience--in such a profound and funny way that most days when I read her latest entry, I have a lump in my throat for one reason or another and want to just link to my blog and say, "What she said. That is what I'm feeling. What she just said." The link below (if I have linked correctly--I have never done it before) is where she writes about her children's kindergarten experience and it is lovely. I could so relate to the Being Left Behind instead of Doing the Leaving part, which resulted in another of those aforementioned lumps in the throat. Enjoy--particularly you former world traveler kindred spirits who are now keeping the home fires burning.

To Clancy

When we got our lab, Jackson, seven years ago, my dad got Clancy at the same time. They are not related, but are both yellow labs and coincidentally share an August 15th birthday. At the time, I wasn't sure it was a good decision for Dad to get a dog to take care of, but in retrospect, I am so glad he did. Clancy was his constant companion and not to sound trite, but he really was his best friend. He was with him when he actually died, and for that, I am inexplicably grateful. Truly, profoundly, grateful that he was not alone.

When we were cleaning out dad's apartment and carrying out the last few loads, a youngish fellow passed by in his car, slowed down and yelled out to us, "Hey--what happened to the old man who lived there?" (I gulped at the "old man" part--I haven't yet made the transition into thinking that my parents are old.) Anyway, Husband explained that he had passed away and I was his daughter, etc. The guy paused for a second, looked out the front window and then looked me squarely in the eyes and said, "he was a good man. told good stories. and he had a killer dog." And then he took off. And I took a deep breath.

So Clancy the Killer Dog came to live with us for a month or so until we could find him a home. I would have really liked to have kept him, but as I mentioned, we had our own 100 pound hunk of hairy love and our delightfully Not So Big House--nor our Dyson vaccuum cleaner-- could handle two Big Yellow Dogs. Our almost-4 year old got really attached to Clancy though and i don't know if it had to do with her transference of emotion about Dad's death or if she just really loved the daggum dog, but telling her when we found him another home was excruciating. Her little lip quivered and she tried so hard to hold back her tears before they flowed freely down her sweet cheeks, and wow, that is hard for a mother to watch. We talked alot about the confusing emotion of feeling "happy and sad at the same time"--happy that Clancy has a wonderful new home and sad that we will miss him so much in ours. The "happy/sad" thing seemed to resonate with her and she has mentioned it countless times since then.

And sweet Clancy has a wonderful new home with a dear friend and her mother and a new sister dog. So Clancy, you big goofy shedding, humping, huge-pawed hunk of love, I am happy/happy for you, happy that you have such a Purposeful life--first as friend and companion to my dad and now with a new family who may need you here in the second half of your life as much as dad did in the first. Go well. Go with purpose.

Ciao a tutti.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Gift

When people say that "Children are a gift from God," they are talking about This One.

A Week of Milestones

It has been quite a week in our house. BB has had three significant "firsts". I'm not usually one of those who wants to Freeze time because they "grow up too fast", but it might be worth a blog entry to at least Mark time. My first born. My baby boy.

Lost his first tooth.

Rode on his first rollercoaster.

Rode his bicycle without those pesky training wheels.

A Day Just Like Today. Or a Week Just Like This Week, I suppose.

Ciao a tutti.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Flower girly

In April, DS was a flower girl in Jeff's lovely niece's wedding. Apparently it was kind of Emily--the bride--to join us, since DS referred to it beforehand and in the two months since as "her" wedding, as in "Can you believe it, that Cousin Emily came to my wedding? And she wore a pretty white dress just like me? Can you just believe it?"

The flower petals were the most precisely and evenly spaced petals in the history of flower girling. When DS dropped each one, she would check the spacing from the previous petal and go back and rearrange it if necessary. Not a quick walk down the aisle, but that is okay, since she had asked Gran to have a glass of water awaiting her at the end of the aisle in case she got thirsty from the long walk.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Our first Loaf

My first homemade loaf of whole wheat bread! Okay, so I did use the bread machine (but so did Barbara Kingsolver?!). And it is ridiculously easier than I ever imagined. Even yummier hot with the homemade butter from the Bradford Store. . .

A Tale as Old as Time

Della Scott (c. 2010--3 1/2 years old)

Mamma Autumn (c. 1976-77--4ish years old)

DS went to ballet camp last week and I have seen her "Beauty and The Beast" dance at least 473 times since then. At her insistence (ah hem), I pulled out my ballet shoes that haven't been worn in 20 years. This is as close as I come to a stage mom.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Food and Grief

When I started this blog in January 2010, I envisioned that I would write once a week--on Sunday nights--and I would post witty things the kids had said that week and occasionally cute pictures of the backs of their heads with pithy comments about motherhood and our food revolution, and thus would chronicle in some way this magical and challenging journey that we are traveling together. I didn't know then what the next six months would bring, including a pretty devastating miscarriage and, now, this.

My father died unexpectedly on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010. Two weeks ago.

I say it was unexpected because he had a heart attack, although he has had numerous health issues over the past decade. I think I was "sort of" prepared for him to die in 2003 when I moved back home from D.C. when he was first diagnosed with cirrhosis and emphysema, but he seemed to stabilize himself, make better lifestyle choices, and he has been living on his own in an apartment community since then.

I am sure that I will have lots of Stuff to process and this might be a good forum for doing so in the next few weeks, if you readers will indulge me. My parents divorced when I was a toddler and my father and I had a complicated relationship. And since my brother died in college, I am his only issue which left me to make decisions about the funeral and burial and his apartment and dog and car and gun and VA benefits and cable cut-off and mail forwarding. I have said numerous times these two weeks that I keep looking around for the grownup who is in charge and everyone keeps looking back at me. When did that happen? One would think that having 3 kids and 2 houses and a dog (now 2 dogs) would make you feel like a grownup, but nope. Apparently, it doesn't actually happen until you lose a parent. And how does one actually grieve when you are on hold with the Social Security Office?

There is so much more I want to say. So much more. About my good memories of my 16th birthday and summers in Atlanta when Scott and and I were little. About Vietnam and the ghosts he carried with him all these years. About my confusion that he would make some of the choices he made and why. About my guilt at not having seen him in an entire year. About my gratefulness that our wonderful huge extended family showed up for his funeral to celebrate his life even as he isolated himself more and more these last few years. About my love for a man who was broken and limited, and yet had an enormous heart and sense of humor. About my unending love for my friends who came to the funeral, looked after my children, brought us food, sent cards and flowers and text messages, helped me clean out his apartment.

About my deep throbbing sadness. For what was. And what wasn't.

He was 63.

And if you ever wonder how we deserve the friends we have, we don't. I don't. But I am humbled and grateful and filled up by these folks--and many others--who came to the funeral on Friday

and to help me clean out his apartment a week later.

And so I write about food . . . and grief. I guess that is the very essence, no?

Ciao a tutti. Ciao papa'. Riposa in pace. Finalmente. Pace.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Bunch for Lunch

We picked up an extra couple of kiddos for lunch today and the lineup of plates amused me. Of course, my lunch is generally the crusts from the kids' bread. Oliver Twist and me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

New-new beginnings

Well, hello there loyal readers (all nine of you!). It seems I kept my "write it down" blogging resolution for a solid six weeks before taking a two month hiatus. I'm not sure that's a very good record. Alas. Easter is about new beginnings, correct? So here is a new-new beginning here on Easter's evening when my over-sugared children are tucked soundly into bed.

It has been a busy few months, I confess, and mostly busy with stuff that it's difficult for me--being a newbie--to write about publicly. A friend's sweet 2-year old (also in MK's preschool class) was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma cancer in early February, and it was a blow to our entire community. (He is now taking chemo and in need of your prayers and good thoughts) It's all I could think about for many many weeks, but I didn't know what to say about it in a blog, partly because it's not my story to tell, and partly because . . well, what in G-d's name do you say about a beautiful blonde two-year old boy with Stage 4 cancer? So I didn't write. And then we got pregnant--obviously having quietly decided about that 4th kid--and I was unable to stay awake in the evening past 8:30pm, which clearly cut into my computer time. So I didn't write. And then two weeks ago today, we had a miscarriage right at 11 weeks and then I REALLY didn't know what to say when I couldn't--and sort of still can't--see through the sadness. So I didn't write.

But there have been sweet moments of grace also. The day after the miscarriage, we went to the zoo. It was a simple day. Magical really. A Tuesday. If graceful giraffes and monkeys and one-legged pink flamingos can't cheer you up . . . The kids are the perfect age for the zoo and literally bounded from animal to animal in excitement. It wasn't Zim or SA, to be sure, but it did the trick for a Tuesday two hours from home.

We have also had a couple of beautiful days at the farmhouse with the big kids on the tire swing and Husband of Mine weeding the flower beds and MK slamming the screen door to hear the (bam!) noise over and over and over again (bam!). Those are good, cumulative memories in the making.

In March I had the opportunity to take my graduate students to DC for the national preservation Lobby Day and it was exhausting, but such a great experience for the students. I confess it made me beam with pride as the students gained confidence and poise as the day progressed and spoke passionately and professionally to our Congressional members and staffers about their communities and preservation issues. I hate to switch into professor mode, but I am lucky enough to be able to teach about something that I care about--community and places, basically--so I really do get--what's the word, my Jewish friends?--verklempt to see the students take off like that. Oh, and while we were there, I got to squeeze in some much needed laughter (i.e. girl time) with old friends from the old days.

We had an Uneventful March Madness as we had to swallow our pride and cheer (although cheer we did!) our favorite team in the Also-ran Tournament, the NIT. Thankfully the season is over and we can talk about "next year."

And of course, we have just had several days of Easter Egg Hunts and Egg dying and candy and more candy and more candy. Which I might add, is difficult to swallow (pun intended) after reading the 44 books and blogs on healthy food and chemicals and dyes, etc. this winter. I mean, really. Michael Pollan has more or less ruined colorful crappy candy for me. I stood in the Tar.get trying to decide what to buy for Easter baskets and I just couldn't bring myself to buy very much other than straight chocolate (which may have its own issues--if so, don't tell me. I've got nothing left.) And the fast food to which we treated ourselves on the way home from the zoo!? With every bite, I was thinking of petrochemical ingredients from Pollan's book and Jamie Oliver's massive pail of discarded chicken parts in the chicken nuggets. So needless to say, we are still cooking and with every week, I gain confidence in the kitchen. I say again that we're still not doing anything too crazy, but I am amazed at how easy some things are to make from scratch (salad dressings!) and I have made quinoa, which seven months ago, I had never heard of, and certainly couldn't pronounce correctly. You should have SEEN BB eat his broccoli today at lunch.

There are sweet moments of grace also.

And so I write.

Ciao a tutti.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Husband of mine is out of town for a few days so we are in full survival mode until the one-man cavalry returns late tomorrow night. In the meantime, my four and 1/2 year old has apparently decided that it's high time to grow up and all the sudden, he is saying these insightful things that would more appropriately come out of a 34-year old mouth.

At breakfast, I was growling because 21-mos old MK had spilled her bowl of cereal and there was milk all over the table and her clothes (requiring a re-dress for preschool), and BB looked up from his bowl and nonchalantly said, "She's only a baby, mommy, she doesn't know better."

Well, then.

Earlier in the morning, we were all three snuggling in my bed waiting for the magical 7:00a when everyone is allowed to request that the day begin and they can now start asking me for cereal and apples and Curious George and bedroom shoes and toothbrushes and school Show-and-Share items. So BB and his sister were already pestering each other (of the "he touched my foot, but she's on my side" variety) which always leaves me excruciatingly irritated. I finally yelled at them to stop "or else" and said rhetorically, "why, WHY can't you just be nice to each other?" To which BB replied, "Because I'm four and she's three."

Well then. Again.

When I say that I learn from my children as much as I teach them, this is what I mean.

Ciao a tutti.

A Note to Jonathan

My best friend since junior high school had a baby last week. If anyone is counting--or curious--that is 23 years of friendship. It seems like not long ago that I was 23 YEARS OLD. But I digress.

Jonathan gave the most eloquent, heartfelt, moving toast at my wedding, and I thought of doing the same at his wedding, but I knew I would ugly-cry in front of people I didn't know, so I mumbled something to the effect of "what he said" and sat down. Thus for a little over a week now I've been walking around--unsuccessfully--trying to write a letter in my head to him about becoming a father. (A parent at least--my knowledge of actual FATHERhood is pretty secondhand).

With children, our lives changed in about 1001 wonderful ways and about 4 really really cruddy ways.

On to the cruddy ways, Jonathan.

1) The sleep. If I could sum up the difficulties of new parenting--for me, it all comes down to sleep. Lack of sleep makes you irrational and cranky and sometimes downright mean. I don't have any good advice here, as we are still trying to figure it out 5 years and 3 kids later, but I at least now I get that 90% of that crazy emotionalism and crankies were due to just being daggum tired.

2) The fights. Any arguments between you and Jill that take place between the hours of 1am and 6am DO NOT COUNT. They are not about either one of you or what you are doing or not doing. They are because you are butt tired. See #1.

3) The plastic. I have been to your cute little historic house. I loved it. So grown up and well tended with books on the coffee table and pretty towels for guests. All that is about to go to hell. You are going to have plastic crap from one French door to another. As you know, I'm pretty environmentally savvy and am very conscious about plastic acquisitions, and yet I cannot turn around without tripping on the primary-colored stuff.

4) The time. And here it is--the big dirty secret. Your time is no longer your own. You are not in charge of it (at least for the time being). You cannot read a book when you feel like it. Or go to the bathroom. Or eat. Or read the NY Times. Or talk on the phone to friends you have known for 23 years. Rest assured, you get to do all these things a little later, but even still not necessarily on your time. And oddly enough you adjust to it.

And the good stuff? Oh my. The smiles. Say what you will, but you may secretly question the rationality of it all until after 6 weeks or so and you get that first baby smile. You will think that Anderson's smile is the most beautiful thing on God's green earth and secretly he is so much cuter than all your friends' babies. (He is.)

The brilliant things they say (see previous post). The giggles. The pride. The singing in the rear view mirror. The little bottoms in a bathing suit. The hugs and "I wuv you's". The soccer games (with or without the soccer ball). The snuggling and kisses. The miraculous writing of the letter "K". I could go on and on. Careful or I will.

Advice? Not really. Buy a good camera. Live near at least one set of your parents. Take a midnight feeding for yourself--you won't regret the quiet bonding in the middle of the night (notwithstanding #1). Call your friends who have done it before. Let Jill shower every day. Actually make her shower every day. (Everyone feels better.) Write it down.

Sleep when you can. And know that the bad stuff won't last forever. But the good stuff will.

Or so I'm told.

Ciao a tutti.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I don't know what to say about Haiti. It's horrifying. And heartbreaking. And whatever the word is beyond heartbreaking. I have watched any number of disasters unfold from afar, as you all have, I'm sure. . . the tsunami, the plane crash a decade ago with that whole little French class on it, Hurricane Katrina, every day of life in Zimbabwe, the events of September 11th. So many more that the sadness can quite literally make your heart heavy. I was even living in D.C. during September of 2001 and that had a profound impact on me that I will probably save for another post.

But something has been different about watching this Haitian crisis unfold.

The difference is now I am a mother.

I see visual after visual of small children bleeding, crying, hurting with blank hungry eyes. It is almost too much to bear. I worry for so many of those children and my thoughts almost immediately go to their mothers. How anguished all those mothers must be or have been during that first tremble of the earth when they instinctively knew something was dreadfully terribly wrong and they wouldn't be able to protect their cubs like it was their god-given nature to do.

I live in a small college town and our years as a community are marked by the arrivals and departures of college students with their backpacks, dorm refrigerators, posters, books, futons and bikes. They come every year with their life's belongings packed to the brim of a Honda or Jeep Cherokee. And every year I have seen them unpacking load after load of stuff and sometimes I have gotten nostalgic for my own college days--both real and imagined. I have been reminiscent and maybe slightly wistful to still be in those college students' shoes and to return to that place of being so carefree and full of the excitement of having every possibility ahead of you. And just to be so daggum young.

Something changed two years ago in the early fall. I remember distinctly that Husband of Mine and I were taking a walk with the kids in August during the college drop-off weekend before school began. And without realizing the subtlety, I saw those parents unloading cars and trying to be cheerful and hugging their kids for just a few seconds too long and I remember getting teary-eyed and thinking, how must that feel to let them go and send them away from you where you can't watch over and make sure they eat their vegetables and wear their seatbelts and you can't hear them laugh everyday or touch their hair.

Or protect them from earthquakes.

I think that was the day that I actually became a parent--two years after giving birth to two children. I saw those students come to campus that August and I related more to their parents than I did to the students themselves.

I see those children in Haiti and I think of their mothers and their fathers. I pray for them.

The difference is now I am a mother.

Viva la Haiti.

Ciao a tutti.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Food Revolution

Our family has undergone nothing less than a Food Revolution in the last six months. (And I don't use the word Revolution lightly.) Ours began with a trip to Montana that I took last September with a small group of law school girlfriends. The holiday was one of my best in many years for several reasons including a lot of really loud laughter with people who know you better than you know yourself. Anyway, I returned home with a long list (yes, a literal list) of "take aways" of books to read, movies to see, recipes to try, etc. One of the recommended books was called The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O'Brien and I inhaled the book like I inhaled a daily Mango Smoothie while pregnant with my 2nd child.

So many things I had never heard of before: genetically modified food, industrial farming, Mon.santo, high fructose corn syrup, etc. My husband and I both have had a fondness for Wendell Berry and have always connected with his "back to the farm" sentiments, but more from a land conservation perspective than one of actual food origination. Frankly, I am a little embarrassed now as to how ignorant I was about something so. . . . common. We are regular local farmer's market shoppers and last summer, we also joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in order to avail ourselves of fresh local vegetables delivered to us once a week. I wasn't reluctant to then participate in the CSA, per se, because we were already reasonably good vegetable eaters, and as I said, it made sense given our passions around land conservation and supporting local farmers. I will confess, however, that I was (am?) intimidated by how to cook, say, eggplant and there were legitimately one or two things in our CSA bucket during the summer/fall that I completely didn't recognize.

But back to the books. So throughout the fall and winter thus far, I scarfed book after book about healthier eating, industrial food systems, etc. I believe that I counted at New Years that I had read 9 different food books since the Montana trip, including three by Michael Pollan, Animal Vegetable Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver, Bringing it to the Table by Wendell Berry, in addition to Food Inc (book and movie) and the Robyn O'Brien one mentioned above. Not to mention the countless blogs in my Google Reader about food issues. I made several mentions on Facebook about this or that food issue and was so intrigued by the responses from friends who clearly had already been down the path I am now traveling and were so encouraging to me.

So what has been so revolutionary about a bunch of books, blogs, and a CSA? Even without absolute causation links, there are just too many unanswered, unresearched and untested questions about the effects of chemical additives and GM food for me to feel comfortable putting them into those beautiful little bodies of my children. We also want to "put our money where our mouth is" in terms of supporting local farmers which, one hopes, leads to greater farmland preservation, not to mention a stronger local economy. We have made changes in our eating and living habits--some radical and some not so much.

1) While we usually bought organic milk and eggs already (really just because I thought I "should" without knowing exactly why), we now also buy these from a local store and local dairy. Less petrol miles to travel which is consistent with our environmental values as well.

2) We bought a composter for Christmas so we can begin composting. It is hilarious to see my husband gleefully check the compost jar on the counter to see what we've added that day, "Yeah! Coffee grounds!" "Wow! Look at all the egg shells and apple peels! MK, have another pear!"

3) I have now pretty much cleared out the high fructose corn syrup and the vast majority of the processed foods in our house. There were a few months of transition where we were sort of panicked about what CAN we eat if we can't eat the only stuff we know how to cook (frozen waffles, Hamburger Helper, frozen pizza, mac n cheese, etc.), but we are gradually moving into a different, less panicked sphere. Gradually, I say.

4) We have switched to organic for much of our food. I recognize that this may become more expensive and I am prepared to print out the last 6 months of our grocery outlays on Quickbooks to compare "before" and "after" expenditures in terms of buying organics. I think it helps though that instead of doing all of my grocery shopping at our one main grocery store in town, we now--believe it or not--shop at four or five different places: the, our local organic grocery, our splendid local "farm" store, as well as our Farmer's Market, depending on what we're buying. It takes more organization, for sure, but so far, we're managing. And at first, I still bought frozen pizza, but thought it better to switch to Organic Frozen Pizza, but now we've gone the next step and sort of eliminated (I add the "sort of" because I don't want to overcommit in case we need one in a babysitter pinch) even the organic frozen pizza, because it's still processed junk, even if it's slightly healthier, more organically grown junk, and surely we can make a pizza in the oven, a la Barbara Kingsolver's Friday night pizzas?!

5) We will again join our CSA this spring, and this time with far more confidence in how to cook the basics and how to build your meals around eating locally and eating seasonally. (My friend Katie gave me this Simply in Season cookbook that is seasonally divided and I have completely enjoyed it.) I really get into the idea of eating seasonally, even as I have had to stop buying "fresh" strawberries through the winter.

6) Husband of Mine is reading articles and looking at heirloom seed catalogues and swears he is going to start a small garden of our own this year. I am tentative about the bugs and the worms, but intrigued.

7) We have not been big eat-outers because we have three little kids and it's just easier to eat at home still. And we are blessed to live in a town that has no commercial fast food (No worries, it's not through exclusionary zoning. Our ordinance simply doesn't allow drive-thrus which discourages most fast food joints to locate here.) I'm still uncertain how to handle "eating out" particularly of the "Old McDonald" variety with processed food with no known origin and cheap plastic toys which the kids pitch fits for (and then promptly forget once we arrive home). Luckily, though, the fast food stuff is a bit "out of sight, out of mind" for them and they know what an enormous treat it is to eat there once a month or so if running errands in the neighboring town.

8) Above all, the books, the blogs, and the CSA have forced me into the kitchen to really learn how to cook. At age 37. Don't for a minute think I am "there" yet. I have so many culinary failures that I find myself wondering if "real" cooks fail this often. But I am cooking. From scratch. With ingredients I have never chopped before and with spices I have never used before. And ocassionally, it is pretty tasty. I am still afraid of yeast, so I haven't ventured into breads and am not reducing or blanching, when really I'm not even sure what those words mean yet. But we ARE figuring it out, and mostly keeping it simple. There are little tricks that help: making bran muffins on Sunday night for Monday and doubling the recipe to freeze half, putting honey on the real oatmeal for a better sell to the kids, a little tiny bit of sugar on the frozen raspberries, etc. and the children are totally buying into it. BB loves to smash garlic in the garlic press and DS is the best carrot peeler and parmesan grater you have ever met in the under-4 division. I have to say that the only major push-back that the children have given me was the substitution of real maple syrup instead of the other stuff on their pancakes. I decided to pick my battles and on that one thing, just switched to the Log Ca.bin which at least advertises to have no HFCS--even if it is still high in sugar. Oh and they did complain about giving up the Nemo "fruit" snacks, but I sort of made it into a joke and now they know that snack time usually involves real fruit or nuts or plain popcorn.

And no, I'm not flipping out when they eat a Pop.Ta.rt at a friend's house or a cupcake or Goldfish at preschool. I think Robyn O'Brien's 80-20 rule seems completely reasonable, i.e. try for the good stuff 80% of the time and then you have 20% of the time to eat the junk. And no, I haven't seen any real changes in behaviour as some folks said I might once we laid off the additives and food dyes, etc. However, I like the idea of the good stuff flowing through their little bodies. And I love to hear DS talk about the Farmer's Market or BB picking something up in the grocery store and asking, "Is this a healthy choice?" Note, however, that I do occasionally hear Jon Stewart in the back of my head in one of his monologues saying directly to the TV camera, "There was always the one kid who brought carrots in his lunchbox. Don't be that kid's mom."

More than anything, though, I feel empowered. I feel more in control of what we are eating and why we are eating it. I feel more connected to my husband as this was all a "project" that he has bought into equally as much as I have, and it has become a project to share and learn together. And if for a second you think there is an ounce of self-righteousness in my voice, remember that I spent 15 years in my teens and twenties eating low-fat heaven-knows-what processed food, complemented by, bagels and frozen yogurt. I think the Revolution was oddly harder on me than on anyone in the household because I actually had the worst eating habits--picky toddlers included. And to think that same girl made a (simple) butternut squash orzo and lemon herb chicken for dinner last night?! BB had a second helping. A Revolution indeed.

Ciao a tutti.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Twenty Ten

So. We have undecked the halls. We have flipped the kitchen calendar to 2010. We have made Resolutions. We have made To Do Lists. We have sent Dad back to work.

We have already been late for preschool. (Scratch that Resolution).

Actually, "we" means "I", but we get ahead of ourselves.

Christmas highlights:

--When decorating Christmas cookies with Gran, 19-month old MK was so eager to do the sprinkles with everyone else that she took the sprinkles bottle to bed and slept with it throughout her nap. Seriously, clutched the bottle in her hand while napping. Red dye #40 and all.

--Upon surveying his pile of Christmas morning gifts, 4-year old BB looked up and said incredulously, "Mommy, look at all that Santa Claus brought me! And I wasn't even that good!"

--Today, 3-year old DS asked, "Mommy, is coffee with sugar in it called coffee candy?" Well, DS, excellent question.

--MK said her first sentence last week while we were in the car on the way home from Georgia. She was looking out the window, happily kicking those pudgy legs at the end of her car seat, and said just as plain as day, "I see moon." That would include a subject, verb, and object. My beautiful brilliant baby girl.

It was a lovely Christmas. Truly.

I am not exactly sure what I want to accomplish in this blog. My personal goal is just to Write It Down, and of course, I could easily do that in a clothbound journal that is perfectly private and sits next to my bed. I decided on the blog route, however, for a number of reasons, mostly because I thought I would be a) less whiny and b) a little funnier. So bear with me, fair readers, as I figure this out. My two blog heroes--and as of now, my two readers--say anything I could say so much better, more cleverly and with such wit. But for whatever reason, I feel compelled to try.

Now, on to those NY Resolutions. For the sake of future accountability.

1. To continue on this healthy eating, less processed foods path.
2. To yell less.
3. To write it down.
4. And yes, to decide about that 4th kid.

Ciao a tutti.