Friday, April 28, 2017

Let's Talk About Picky Eaters

Most nights in our house when I make supper, we have at least one kid who isn't thrilled with what's being offered.  Every once in a while someone's feeling particularly spicy and chooses to sit there, letting their food cool and become way worse than it would have been had they just eaten it when fresh.  We don't usually have that problem, though; they can choke down most of their entree, even if it's not their favorite, or they can starve.  We're still working on how to properly express themselves when the food does not cause their tiny palates to salivate.  "What is this?" is not allowed, neither is "Did you have to put so many green peppers in it?" nor "Ew.  Onions."

Now, listen, I remember being a bit of a picky eater as a kid.  My sister still seems to carry a little nugget of hate in her heart toward me because I didn't like chicken pot pie and that meant mom didn't make it as often as chicken pot pie-loving Kelli would have preferred. This seems to be repeating in our own children: Adelaide doesn't like my chicken enchiladas, so I don't make them as often as I would otherwise.  Atticus has expressed his bitterness toward this state of affairs a number of times.  I could just change my recipe to exclude salsa verde, which is the part that our daughter seems to find so offensive, but it's easy and fast and everyone else likes it just fine, so... whatever, Adelaide.

You know what?  I think chicken pot pie may be the key to all this.  I enjoy chicken pot pie now, but I had to make it for myself first.  Peas are not scary on their own, nor are carrots, nor chicken, nor delicious flaky pie crust.  It's when they're presented to you already all clumped together, and it's a mystery as to how they got in there or just what else might be lurking under that top crust that it becomes scary.  I'm still not likely to order chicken pot pie from a restaurant with a kitchen I don't trust implicitly, because chicken pot pie can still go so egregiously wrong.  Or as the ten year old lurking in the corners of my brain whispers, "What is in that thing?"

At this point the problem is that while I know I used to be a picky eater, I'm starting to forget what that feels like, so I have less and less patience with picky people in general.  This all came to a head recently over eggs.  You know- as things do.

See these?
Those are eggs.

See this?
That is the inside of one of those eggs.  Yolk?  Check.  White?  Check.  

Came from a chicken?  Well, no.  You see, these are duck eggs.

That is where, as turns out, people start freaking out.  And I start rolling my eyes.

A friend of mine at work lives in a bit of a menagerie- all kinds of animals, including ducks.  Because she also has chickens and sells those eggs, it is natural for her to gather the eggs from the ducks and sell those, too.

Or attempt to sell them, anyway.  But as it turns out, people don't want duck eggs.  They are afraid of duck eggs.  She's having trouble giving these things away.

Are duck eggs different from chicken eggs?  A little.  They're a bit bigger, and the shell is tougher to crack.  But they cook up just like chicken eggs.  I've been using them interchangeably with chicken eggs for the past few months, careful not to let the family known exactly what's going on in the kitchen, because I am not an idiot.  This woman refers to them as being a little richer than chicken eggs, like you've added cream to a chicken egg.  I use them mostly in cooking and baking, and can't tell a lick of difference.  

I don't understand how people can balk at duck eggs when even chicken eggs are a food you don't want to give too much thought to prior to shoveling it in your mouth.  Where do these things come from?  What is an egg, exactly?  What is its biological function? Ick.

Honestly, though, I probably don't have any room to talk on this subject, as I won't touch a recipe where even a chicken egg isn't completely cooked through:  Over easy, Eggs Benedict, whatever; I need my eggs thoroughly cooked, no runniness, do you hear?  Probably because I have asked myself those questions:  Where do these things come from?  What is an egg, exactly?  What is its biological function?


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Things I Learned on Our Son's Field Trip

Despite the fact that we have had at least one child in public school for nearly six full years, prior to this spring I had somehow managed to escape chaperoning a field trip.

This was 99% because we always had a younger child at home, one young enough they could not tag along on the various school-sponsored excursions.  The other 1% was pure self-preservation on my part.

But now, this year?  All our children are in school.  And I work at a place that gives me a ridiculously flexible schedule- great for dentist appointments, but at the same time siphoning away any excuses I have not to go on these field trips.

A few months ago, then, when Atticus came to me, brandishing papers from school declaiming the details of not one but two upcoming outings, I knew I was sunk.  My draft number had been drawn. It was all over.  And any other overly dramatic hyperbole you can think of.

I saw that one field trip was to the science center and immediately said no.  (Actually, I cackled for quite some time and then said, "No.")  We had a family membership to that place for a year, and while we all loved it, by the end of each visit I felt that I was barely escaping with the four things I had carried in the front doors with me- my sanity and all three children- so to help wrangle a few hundred children through there?  I'm good, thanks.

I did feel a little twinge, like maybe I should chaperone the trip to the science center- deserved to, even- when I remembered that I hadn't gone when Adelaide visited with her first grade class (small children at home, remember), and that this particular trip had just so happened to occur within the time that our daughter was deathly afraid of getting sucked into escalators.

The science center has an escalator.  Two of them, actually, since that's generally how escalators work.  And apparently the mother who chaperoned had a heck of a time with Adelaide and one of those nefarious, child-sucking escalators.  Is it terrible that I'm laughing hysterically recalling that story, but still refuse to chaperone a trip to the science center/escalatorland?  Or does it just make me smart?

Since the science center was out, it meant I was going to see a play with Atticus and the entirety of the second grade.  Hey, a play sounds fun, though, right?  And my goodness, it's Elephant and Piggie's We Are in a Play!  We love Elephant and Piggie, and the entirety of the Mo Willems canon, as a matter of fact!

It's sweet how naive I am sometimes, right?

Let me just say that the play was great.  Charming, entertaining, maybe one or two songs too long, as the vast auditorium full of children, who had previously been entranced with the goings-on on stage all began to squirm in concert when the second-to-last song began.  But cute, and a great celebration of the books and characters we love so much.  

The truly terrible part was the bus ride.

Why did I elect to ride on the School Bus of Horror?  Why didn't I drive myself?  (Oh, yeah- I'd never done this before.)  It's hard to describe what the ride there and back were like, except to say it was difficult to breathe.  It was an unseasonably warm day, and apparently there's still no air conditioning on school buses (?).  On the way there the kids were asking if they could put their windows down to get some air moving, but I was worried about the boys around me (I was surrounded by boys, most likely because I was sitting with our own boy) losing a limb as, being second grade boys, they inevitably waved it out the window.

By the time we'd gotten back on the bus to head home, I no longer cared whether or not I delivered those boys back to their mamas with all their limbs or not.  So down the windows went.

Also, an equation I don't remember learning in any science class ever but that would have served me well that day is HEAT + 8 YEAR OLD BOYS = A THICK MIASMA OF STENCH.

Oh, gosh.  It was so bad.  And the noise.  Another previously-unknown-to-me equation was BUS RIDE + 8 YEAR OLD BOYS = LOUD OBNOXIOUS SOUNDS COMPETITION.  

Atticus tried to warn me when we first settled in our seat at the beginning of our trip:  (whispering) "Mom?  Just so you know, that boy there and those two boys there are kind of wild.  Like, they're the wildest boys in our class."  "Wild" in our house doesn't so much mean Where the Wild Things Are but more "poorly behaved heathens who make you yearn for the days of corporal punishment." And when did second grade boys get so big?  It's hard to stink-eye a kid into submission when they're the same size as you.  Don't you worry, though, having two boys of our own and a brewing migraine, I managed just fine, thank you very much.  I probably don't have the reputation of Nicest Mom in our son's class, though.  This does not break my cold, icy heart.

A dear friend of mine and fellow introvert was similarly ensconced further back in the bus.  Toward the end of the trip we sent texts back and forth celebrating mile markers that meant we were that much closer to home and threatening to throw ourselves out the now-open windows into oncoming traffic.  I also sent Derek texts requesting he have water and ibuprofen waiting for me on my return.  You see, once Atticus and I returned, our family was immediately jumping into the car for a trip to Kansas, and I knew that if I allowed the field trip-induced headache to continue to grow, I would make everyone in the car miserable with my piss-poor attitude, plus possibly start puking.  Yay, field trips!

After all that, I am going on a field trip this upcoming Monday with Adelaide's class.  It's Pioneer Day at a park.  We have been instructed to bring bug spray and given specific instructions on what to pack in our tin cans so that even the lunch is period-appropriate.  What sedative would have been available to pioneer moms, I wonder?  The papers from school didn't say.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Books and Infuriating Books

Eight-ish months into my tenure at the library, things are good, things are comfortable but interesting, and I'm still learning new things every week, which I like.

This week, for instance, was the first time I had to suppress the urge to set a book gleefully on fire, and instead process it, as it is a new book that just came into the library and we need to do all the things necessary to get it ready to go on the shelf where it will hopefully NEVER BE CHECKED OUT.

I will not pass this opinion on to any patrons, though, because uuuuuggghhh integrity and ethics and garbage.

Still, though...

Dear Mr. O'Reilly,

I can't imagine what it's like to hold so much hatred within one body.  It must be exhausting!  I do hope you're hydrating.

Yours sincerely,
One of the many you disdain

In other, less incendiary news, I survived our second book sale, but this time I also helped box up all the books that didn't sell.  This proved to be dangerous.
 I mean, they were free, and they were about to be homeless, and I only meant to take one!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Three Things

  • Last weekend our little library hosted an Easter egg hunt.  The weather was beautiful, the Easter bunny creepy.

I was a little surprised when Atticus told me that yes, he did want his picture taken with the Easter bunny- but he waited until Caedmon was there to get in the picture, too.  No sense in getting that close to something so obviously inbred without the support of your brother, right?

  • When I want to impart a message to our children, I might say something like, "Come here, guys!" or "Children, I have some important information I wish to impart!" or "STOP TRYING TO KILL EACH OTHER AND GET IN HERE!"  When Derek has something to say, he will sometimes say, "Kids, take a knee."
Sports-inspired parenting

  • I've been looking for solutions to my current problem:  I don't have a whole lot of time to read right now.  Of course I can eek out a few minutes here and there, but when I'm trying to plow through a tome of a novel, I really prefer bigger chunks of time, for mental continuity and so I don't have to keep flipping back, repeatedly asking, "Now who is Sophie, again?"  
One solution:  Read young adult and juvenile fiction.  It's quick, yet you can still find just as many high-quality books as in the adult genres.

This book is a few years old now, but my gosh, is it good.  I recommend this one if:  Someone in your life has dyslexia, if you've ever felt different or left out or not good enough, if you have children, or if you yourself were once a child.  Click on the link for a proper synopsis.

I know I just recommended a slew of picture books in a recent post, but this one, this one you have to find.  It is clever.  It is hilarious.  The writing is so good, and the illustrations so perfect for the text, you'll read it over and over again, to a kid or maybe just to yourself.  

The end.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Books and Caedmons and the Barkley Marathon

Caedmon didn't have school on Friday.  This meant we got to spend the whole day together, which is thankfully still good news to our youngest.

We had very important things to do.

He coached me on the finer details of Pokemon.  Again.
This is his "explaining important Pokemon stuff" face.

We read a big pile of books together.  Again.
As a big old parenthetical, the above is one of my most recent favorite picture books, along with

It's so cute, and so strangely funny, and really I just love anything illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Also Pig the Pug
because again, hilarious illustrations, plus it's about sharing.  Maybe your kids are perfect, but ours could perhaps use a reinforcing message here and there on the benefits of sharing.

And finally, They All Saw a Cat.

This is one is so conceptually brilliant you'll want to buy it to own yourself.  Even if you're an adult.  Adults are allowed to buy children's books, you know.  A cat moves along, walking around, and each set of pages contains an illustration depicting how he is viewed by different creatures, giving you a depiction of the way a cat might be viewed from the perspective of a dog, a mouse, a bird, and so on.  Good, good stuff.

Parenthetical book thought over.

Caedmon also came to work with me for a couple hours on Friday, where he was so good one of my co-workers plied him with candy.  At one point, after returning home, I told our youngest I was going to do some yoga.  He asked if he could join me, and I responded that of course he could!  Yoga for everyone!
As it turns out, Caedmon's not real big on personal space during yoga, so I got to go through all my sequences with a small boy rightnexttome.  It's definitely a different experience to push back into downward dog and have a little face appear under you, asking, "Are we almost done?  Is this one hard for you?  Can I tell you about Charmander's abilities, now?  Do you know what my powerfullest Pokemon is?"  

Just about the time I want to say something like, "NO MORE POKEMON TALK.  EVER," he hands me this.

And then I'm stuck.  Three more hours of "I have four EX's, but Atticus has more; he has seven, but my charizard is jfo;awenvoaiwrb."   Nonsense letters at the end there because that is what all it sounds like to me:  a bunch of nonsense syllables.  Then we got to thumb through his Pokemon cards and look for something- I don't know what and I didn't care.  

That must be how Derek has felt all weekend when I've given him Barkley Marathon updates (#gogarygo):  "Yikes, the race started at 1:42 A.M.," "Loop 1 took them 9 1/2 hours!"  "They're on Loop 2, and have had trouble finding the books in the dense fog."  Lucky, lucky Derek.