Category Archives: Food

How ‘Bout Them Bapples? and Other Assorted Toddler Rebellions

It’s been interesting to check out the kind of advertising they’ve been running on my site lately. Expecting something more along the lines of Legos or diaper deals, I’ve been shocked by all the ads for MBA degrees and thousand-dollar Polyvore skirts.

(Was this because I made fun of Gwyneth Paltrow a while back? I’ll just assume their

paltrow
Says the woman with a pizza-stove in her backyard

algorithm can’t detect sarcasm.)

Or maybe it has more to do with my audience; in which case, you guys are classy folks.

In other news, Bridget, my 3-year-old, has been eating one bite of every apple we own.

Or strawberries, or bananas, or chips, or what-have-you: any grouping of like food substances in a bowl has been vulnerable. It’s the toddler equivalent of grownups who take a small chunk out of every chocolate in the box until they finally find a filling they deem acceptable.

Except in this case, they’re all the same. So why, toddlers, why? Are you trying to find the best one? Are you claiming all the apples for later use? Is it just because you’re not supposed to do it?

She loves to beg for “bapples” then scream “DONE!” after taking one taste. Or burritos, or tacos, or whatever else she catches anyone eating and therefore wants. It’s baffling.

But this toddler phenomenon is hardly news to other parents. A more compelling development has been her 5-year-old sister Brontë becoming the house’s new Apple Sheriff.

After observing the drama enough times, she decided to climb onboard my ongoing Bridget projects by coaching her on everything from potty-training to putting dirty clothes in the hamper to not finishing apples. What’s more, I just figured out that she’s been taping these coaching sessions on the iPad her grandparents bought her, which is hilarious:

 

Of course, Brontë never accounted for how much more fun eating one bite of an apple would become after Bridget realized how much it would torture her big sister. It’s like Brontë just handed her a big, red, sister-freakout button and then begged her not press it.

I do appreciate Brontë’s efforts, though 🙂

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My Kids Advance to Higher Level Tantrums

Generally speaking, Brontë and Bridget are much easier to manage now that they’re five and three. Gone are the days of three-hour fits and grocery store tantrums. Consistent refusal to reward bad behavior slowly winnowed them out.

Or of Brontë’s poop-mural experiments, which went on for months. Making her clean them up, by the way, was what finally did the trick.

Or of Bridget ruthlessly tackling the cat. We let the cat sort that one out himself.

We’ve finally moved on to more advanced kid skills, like not constantly interrupting people and getting through meals like civilized people. Occasionally, they’ll try snotty attitudes on for size, experimenting with the social ramifications, or check to see how much leverage they’ll get from being tragic.

Like the other day, when Bridget fell into some gravel and scraped her knee.  Viking that she is, she handled it by punching everything around her, including the air, which made her fall over and over again, growing ever angrier.

I raced over to help her with her bloody leg and she responded by boxing my legs like a violent leprechaun. This didn’t go over very well, because mommy is not a punching-bag. Even if you’re sick or injured.

Which pretty much set off a cascade of bad behavior for the next few hours, during which time her sister Brontë was the perfect, model child: holding mommy’s hand, cheerfully doing everything she was supposed to, and giving heart-melting monologues about how much she loves her family.

Because I don’t know if this is typical, but my kids like to take turns acting out. I think that one of them acting like a hooligan gives the other the perfect opportunity to look angelic by comparison, and they relish the opportunity to rub their good behavior and all of its associated privileges in their sister’s face.

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This smiling cherub would NEVER act like that. 

But, growing bored with their good cop/bad cop routine, they changed places yesterday. While Bridget was snuggling mommy and bringing her flowers, Brontë was accidentally spilling huge glasses of chocolate milk and then later wouldn’t shut up about the “giant turd she’d been wrestling” during lunch because Brontë has picked up that mommy’s weakness is finding your bad behavior hilarious.

Yesterday was the day when Brontë forgot how to put on shoes, after years of doing it correctly, and suddenly found the request outrageous. She wouldn’t quit pushing around her sister either, grabbing toys out of her hands on account of her possessing such a “stinky butt,” which probably made sense to her wound-up toddler brain.

At any rate, it all culminated in last night’s dinner episode. Bridget was quietly eating her taco while Brontë somehow hovered in a blur about the air pockets around her seat as my husband and I desperately tried to have a conversation:

John: So then I went to the manager meeting, and

Brontë: I’M THE QUEEN OF JELLYFISH.

John: I went to the managers’ meeting where they were talking about…

Brontë: I HAVE A BURRITO. MY EYES ARE BLUE. I WANT TO GO IN THE POOL.

Me: Stop interrupting, Brontë. Wait until your dad finishes what he’s saying.

Brontë keeps jabbering on for the next few minutes while John and I try ignoring her until it stops. Bridget keeps eating her taco, watching the whole thing play out. Finally, John looks over…

John: Okay, Brontë. What were you saying?

Brontë: I WANT TO GO SWIMMING AT MIDNIGHT WITH THE POOL LIGHT ON.

John: Not tonight, because you’re going to bed on time. Maybe this weekend we can go swimming when it’s dark outside.

Brontë (stomping away): I’m EXCUSED!

John: Come BACK here and sit down. We didn’t excuse you.

Brontë (making a face): HMPH!

John: Go to your room.

Brontë screams down the hallway before slamming the door. The room gets quiet. Bridget takes another bite of taco, her tiny legs swinging under her chair.

Bridget: Psh… Brontë childish.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways I Like To Pretend I’m Filthy Rich

“Gratitude is riches” -Doris Day

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re browsing your Facebook feed when you come across a bunch of photos of your friend Alex deep-sea diving in New Zealand. Why look, the whole family is there… all bronzed and smiling.

vacationYou’re happy for Alex. Really. Because Alex is your buddy and you think it’s awesome to go to New Zealand, just like it was awesome when he went to Copenhagen a few months back.

Not that you’d know, having never been to either place yourself. (You start counting the years since you’ve been on vacation…)

And then, before checking your bank account to make sure the Netflix charges cleared, you read about how Gwyneth Paltrow believes in steaming her hoo-ha before  advertising $900 casual slip-dresses made for 5’9” models with 32” chests on her website Goop, like these would be reasonable options for any normal person to consider.

Does it bug you? Does it bug you that it bugs you?

Well, don’t worry, because it’s completely normal. You see, researchers have found that money doesn’t buy happiness after all… unless we have more of it than our friends and colleagues do. We care most about how we’re doing compared to everyone else around us.

Which makes sense. I mean, if everyone in the village has two goats and your family has FOUR, then you’re probably feeling pretty successful and respect-worthy until someone in the village builds a skyscraper.

But that skyscraper family needs love too. Look,  I’m not trying to be intimidating, but I’ve  got some pretty impressive resources myself. I have assets that have only been available to an elite percentage of lucky people…

That is, as long as you’re counting all the people who have ever lived since the beginning of time. Which I am.

Laugh at my adorably child-like imagination if you must, but comparing myself to people who lived hundreds of years ago makes me feel a whole lot better than reading about the Kardashian sisters’ weekly armpit-bleaching (I may have made that last part up, but you get my drift).

Plus, it means feeling filthy rich every time that I:

1. Eat Oranges

My darling mother-in-law from North Carolina recently visited, seeing our new house for the very first time.

She was most gracious about it, but what seemed to truly impress her most was the orange tree we have in our backyard. Imagine seeing an orange tree through your bathroom window, she sighed wistfully.

Now, growing up near towns with names like “Citrus Heights” has left me somewhat oblivious to my backyard citrus privileges, but seeing her perspective helped me realize how unusual it actually is… Oh yeah, people used to receive oranges in Christmas stockings, back when they were an enormous deal because non-local goods were really expensive. 

In fact, Marie Antoinette, who’s the very symbol of whimsical decadence if anyone is, had orange trees from Spain and Portugal wheeled into the gardens of Versailles in planter boxes every morning from their warming rooms, as a statement of her fabulous access to luxury goods.

And here I am, staring at oranges from my bathroom window. Like a BOSS.

2.  Drink Hot Chocolate

History-of-chocolate-franceThe-Family-of-the-Duke-of-Penthièvre-tasse-du-chocolat-jean-paul-charpentierI like to start my day with a nice cup of hot chocolate, like it’s no big deal at all.

But this habit would’ve once pegged me as a pampered aristocrat.

 

Because chocolate used to be unbelievably expensive. The Aztecs believed it was a divine gift and used it for currency.

It first appeared at the French court of Versailles in 1666, during the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. Versailles, of course, was world-renowned for ridiculous self-indulgences and nearly pornographic levels of luxury at the time.

And even THEY were impressed by chocolate. After Louis XIV’s married Marie Thérèse of Spain, who loved the stuff, the king granted the first chocolate manufacturer in France, David Chaillou, a monopoly, which kept chocolate unbelievably expensive for a very long time.

Yet here I am, starting each day with a heaping cup of chocolate, the 17th century equivalent of breakfasting on Beluga caviar sprinkled in gold dust while setting hundred dollar bills on fire.

3.  Pepper My Food

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is the dried spice everyone keeps in half of their salt and pepper shakers. Nowadays, it’s the bare minimum of any spice collection, something found on every table at any truck stop in any random backwater town.

But it used to be something only insanely wealthy people could afford to use.

In fact, the Dutch still use the expression “peperduur,” which means “pepper expensive,” to refer to outrageously costly things. It’s a holdover from earlier times, when pepper was literally more valuable than gold. It’s rumored that Alaric I, King of the Visigoths, and Attila, who ruled the Huns, both demanded ransoms of black pepper in exchange for stopping their attacks on Rome during the 5th century.

4.  Salt My Food

What-Salt-Bae-MemeThe word “salary” is actually derived from the word salt, coming from the Latin “salarium,” or “money to buy salt with.” Apparently, people used to picture incomes in terms of how much salt they could buy.

Salt is vital. It preserves food and makes it taste good. People care about it so much that salt taxes lead to revolutions… like how the French Gabelle led to the French Revolution, or how Gandhi’s defiance of the salt tax led to Indian independence from Britain.

Salt is sacred. Greek, Jewish, Catholics, Buddhists, Tibetans,followers of Shinto, Southwest Native Americans, and other religious groups historically involved salt in holy rituals.

And yet, I can boast an embarrassing wealth of saltiness. I have table salt, Kosher salt, and two kinds of sea salt at my disposal… I can throw salt into my baths, as well as on my food. I can buy a HUGE amount of salt, more salt than I could use in years, and I don’t even run around bragging about it.

5.  Flip On the Air-Conditioning

For most of human history, we’ve had to live in the elements the best that we could.

If it was snowing, we could build shelters, sew thick clothing, wrap ourselves in furs, or build a fire.

But if it was blisteringly hot, there wasn’t much we could do, except not wear a bunch of clothes (I’m talking to you, Victorian England).

Or we could buy ice.

Thing is, ice harvesting used to be extremely dangerous–huge blocks of ice could accidentally slide onto the workers and crush them–yet incredibly profitable. Ice merchants got rich during the 19th century, reaching peak competition in the 1860’s when the industry pulled in $28 million ($660 million in today’s terms).

Before that, there wasn’t much people could do to deal with the heat, apart from jumping in the lake or making someone wave a fan at you.

So whenever I flip on the air-conditioning, it’s basically the new world equivalent of filling the room with expensive ice cubes or having a team of servants waving a bunch of ostrich feathers in my face.

I should probably be reclining on a couch and eating grapes whenever I do it.

Don’t Hate

These are just a few of the ways I like to pretend I’m a powerful empress in the ancient world. Just think about how impressed medieval people would be if they travelled forward in time to behold the splendor of my lifestyle.

But don’t be jealous. You’re probably an aristocrat too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squirrel Power!

The house we moved into a couple of months ago has a big, beautiful orange tree in the backyard.

I know the oranges weren’t ripe when we first moved in because my daughter Bridget would compulsively pick them before running over to me–screaming “ORANGE PLEASE” like she was warning me about an impending Viking attack–until I peeled them.

After trying a wedge, I’d shudder from its sourness and so did Bridget, but she seemed to still enjoy it and would polish off the rest of the orange (between shivers) before demanding yet another one.

Well, it’s a couple of months later now and the oranges seem ripe. They’ve been dropping off the tree all over the place, hard enough to crack the peels.

Or so I thought. One day I noticed tiny pieces of orange peel all over the yard. Weird. Was Bridget peeling them when I wasn’t looking? Did she know how to peel oranges all along?

No. The mystery was solved the very next morning while I was taking a shower. Looking out the window after a bright flash caught my side-eye, I saw a squirrel sprint along one of our trees while carrying a massive orange in her arms.

When she found the perfect spot on a branch, her tiny squirrel hands frantically tore a hole into the orange. I swear she looked me dead in the eye as she was chewing on the orange and then I smiled at her, like that would mean something to a squirrel.

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The shower and tree where it all went down

I wish I could’ve taken a picture, but it all happened very fast and I was in the shower at the time, so…

I’d seen that squirrel around before. I’ve decided to call her “Alice” and maybe she did end up recognizing my smile as a friendly gesture after all, because she stopped taking pains to cover up all her orange heists.

In fact, I caught her hosting an Orange Party the very next day.  Four squirrels were munching oranges on our porch swing, throwing their peels on the ground. I swear they were even swinging a little, back and forth, while chowing down on a bunch of giant citrus balls, which is probably an awesomely good time in the squirrel world.

Or maybe not. Maybe the monotonous hours of counter-wiping and Lego patrol involved in watching kids all day has gotten to me… to the point where I’m having to invent social dramas about backyard wildlife.

But it works for me, so I was carefully crouching down and readying my phone to snap a picture of the orange-eating squirrels partying on our porch swing when my daughter Brontë walks up and says, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, MOMMA?”

Aaaaaaaand, the squirrels all ran away.

But on the bright side, when I told her I was trying to take pictures of the Squirrel Orange Party taking place in our yard, it made perfect sense to her. Because four-year-olds think that crouching to snap paparazzi photos of squirrel galas is a reasonable objective, so she fell all over herself apologizing for being so loud and promised not to compromise my mission in the future.

The squirrels left a huge pile of half-eaten oranges and peel dust behind. Many people would be really annoyed by this, but I’m a bit strange, sentimental, and probably a Druid deep down.

I started wondering if I could be friends with Alice. Maybe I could leave a trail of cashews along a little half-wall in our yard, slowly earning her trust with regular food offerings until she took them straight from my hand. Better than just wiping down more counters, right?

img_4735
Moments before Alice makes her escape

So I set up my lure and was happy to find Alice hanging out on the half-wall the next day. I snapped a photo, but wasn’t quick enough to capture what was going to happen next…

See, while I thought it would be cool to make friends with the squirrels in our yard, my lunatic dog Douglas was DEFINITELY not on board. He took one look at Alice shamelessly hanging out on our half-wall like the Whore of Babylon IN HIS FACE and tore off after her, barking doggy threats that I shudder to imagine.

She raced across the wall and gracefully leapt up to the high fence as he continued to promise grievous bodily harm the second he could reach her. She stood up on her hind legs and held a giant orange against her chest.

And then… I saw something amazing.

Alice pushed the orange away from her chest and spent a few moments aiming it just so before dropping it on the dog’s head.

She NAILED him. She made her escape as Douglas wobbled around, compulsively sneezing.
It was AWESOME. I had NO IDEA that squirrels could throw grenades. Sure, it happens in Open Season, but you don’t expect animals to measure up to their cartoon counterparts. They never wear clothes and have long discussions in real life.

But she did it and it WORKED. I was genuinely thrilled until I came back inside and found out my daughter Bridget had spent the last five unsupervised minutes opening up every banana in the house.

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And she’s super proud of herself 

I hope we’ll be seeing Alice again, that she has enough grenade-lobbing pluck to show her face around this joint on the regular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster Attacks as a Teaching Tool

Some parents bribe their kids when faced with an avalanche of tantrums and whining. There are entire discussion threads devoted to the most effective toddler bribes.

Other parents resort to scare tactics. A friend of mine once warned her daughter not to scream in grocery stores because monsters would hear her. Many people, especially those who place honesty at the top of our ethics pyramid, would consider such tactics underhanded.

You should NEVER lie to a child, they would say.

And I roughly agree with them, though separating lies from creative fantasy can be a gray area. The Puritans thought novels and theater were straight from the Devil’s playbook, for example, since they involved people spinning yarns that weren’t true or pretending to be people that they weren’t… a SIN.

Well… thus far, I’ve tried to wield honesty as a weapon when appropriate, but enforcing social norms by definition involves some amount of lying.

My two-year-old daughter Bridget really doesn’t want to sit at the table to eat her food, preferring to run around eating it as she plays or explores, which means dropping food all over countless crevices in the house.

I tell her that we can only eat food at the table, which is technically a lie, because people can definitely eat food without sitting down at a table. She’s able to bust that myth every time she eats standing up, so why take me seriously?

I supervise her whenever I’m around, but human beings with opposable thumbs are surprisingly tricky. She uses step stools to dig into kitchen cabinets in the middle of the night, leaving unholy crumb trails all over the house… occasionally, even decaying bananas or apples under her bed which aren’t found until their funky stench prompts investigation.

Morning after morning, I wake up to find graham cracker bits all over the carpet, tables, and furniture. Demanding that Bridget clean them up kicks off predictable routines involving defiance, time-outs, and repeated lectures.

Even her four-year-old sister Brontë is getting frustrated, and she doesn’t struggle nearly as much as I do with ethical training methods. Four-year-old kids are  a paradoxical mixture of wild fantasy and pragmatism, as evidenced by the following recent exchange:

wolfMe (upon finding Graham cracker ground into the carpet again): Bridget, don’t throw food on the floor! It STINKS and we’ll get ants all over the house!

Brontë: YEAH. Ants and WOLVES!

Bridget looks alarmed.

Brontë: Right, mom? Ants and wolves will come?

Me: It’s possible.

Bridget trots over to the garbage can and chucks in a handful of cracker.

By God, it worked.

Bridget stopped dumping sugary crumbs once she learned that violent wolves might tear into our sanctuary after smelling them.

Apparently, my four-year-old had already thought of bringing monster threats to the table… and I just let them slide.

How NOT to Boil an Egg

eggmemescomp2thisisfunnybecauseitcombines_a98ccd_5487988I love boiled eggs. They’re the perfect, portable, high-quality protein snack whose reputation has been quietly redeemed in the past few years… I love them so much, I don’t even need to salt them when they’re cooked right.

But cooking them right is trickier than it sounds. Too little, and your yolks come out gross and runny. Too much, and you get that overdone “egg-y” flavor assaulting you with its sulfur funk. You can’t tell, either, until you’ve already opened up the egg and ruined it.

After years of experimentation, I thought I’d finally found the perfect way to boil eggs. It goes like this:

  1. Put your eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to bring the waterline about an inch or so above the eggs
  2. Heat on high until the water starts a rolling boil
  3. Turn the water off, cover the pan, and let sit for 17 minutes
  4. Pour off the hot water, add some cold, and peel the eggs once they’re cool enough.

This method gave me fantastic boiled eggs: bright yellow yolks that were done without being overcooked in the slightest… well-cooked eggs with perfectly clean finishes.

It worked BEAUTIFULLY until I moved to a new house with a new stovetop that threw everything off. You’d think boiling=boiling, yet I kept ending up with an off-putting, jelly-like yolk consistency.

After getting thoroughly grossed out by my guinea pig eggs, I started boiled them for several more minutes, whereupon I was unable to peel them without taking out huge chunks of egg white. Essentially, everything but the yolk cemented to the peel.

So I began consulting Google, where I learned that adding a little baking soda to your water would make it easier to peel eggs after boiling but would also lend an aged, “egg-y” flavor, which hardly sounded like an improvement.

I also learned that there lots of experts on the internet who think they know the best ways of boiling and/or peeling eggs.

And I’m not one of those experts, though I can definitely tell you about one method you shouldn’t try:

Never, ever microwave an egg.

To explain why, let’s just start by pretending there was a hypothetical woman who really loved good hardboiled eggs…

Let’s just say she was in high-school when she once tried to hard-boil a couple of eggs on the stovetop, but miscalculated the time and ended up finding out her peeled eggs have gooey centers when she tries one.  Her eggs are almost done, but not quite.

Say her father then suggests she microwave the other egg to cook it just a tiny bit more. She asks him how much time he thinks would be sufficient and he suggests about thirty seconds.

mushroomcloudLet’s further say she microwaves her egg for thirty seconds and bites into it once it’s cool enough to handle. Half-closing her eyes in anticipation of a perfectly-cooked, hardboiled egg, she instead ends up peeing herself as an ear-shattering gunshot explodes in her face when a nuclear egg event blankets the 3-foot radius around her in white particles, because she’d apparently just split atoms by throwing eggs into the microwave and will later have some pretty embarrassing mouth blisters to explain at school.

So… don’t ever try microwaving whole eggs to hardboil them. Hypothetically speaking, it’s probably not a good idea.

But I am curious about trying this baking method, despite the authors talking about it leaving weird red spots all over your eggs’ insides. I’m not sure what would cause that and frankly, I’m a little scared to find out.

At any rate, does anyone have a tried-and-true method that works for them? What about the problems with peeling hard-boiled eggs without the egg whites sticking to the shell?

Clearly, I could use some help.

 

 

 

 

 

The 7 Deadly Holidays

Last week, a friend of mine wished everyone on Facebook a happy Thanksgiving by calling it the “eat whatever you want without feeling guilty” holiday.

She’s right, of course. Officially, Thanksgiving is about being grateful, but we all know the main focus is usually on making a ridiculous amount of food then trying to eat as much as possible.

It’s gluttony, really. One of the seven deadly sins.

Not that I’m against it. Giving into temptation every once in a while helps us build up enough willpower to truly deprive ourselves.

It’s an old idea. The Catholics have a long tradition of  letting loose during the Carnival festive season right before buckling down into all the self-denial of Lent.

Maybe they’re onto something… America may not have a Carnival festival per se, but we DO have 7 major holidays, which just happens to be the same number as the official deadly sins.

Coincidence?

1- Thanksgiving: Gluttony

ckthanksgicing.jpgOfficial purpose: Being grateful for what you already have

I already  covered this one… On Thanksgiving, we’re all supposed to prepare a massive feast involving turkey, cheese-covered green beans, and a variety of seasonal gourds.

We then invite our families over to collectively lay siege to this food pile, not stopping until everyone is sleepy and no one can buckle their pants.

That’s when we break out the pumpkin pie…

2- Halloween: Lust

halloween-socialismOfficial purpose: Making yourself look unappetizing

Traditionally, Halloween is about kids dressing up in scary costumes and going from house to house,collecting candy. So maybe, for kids,  Halloween is about gluttony. They weren’t all that jazzed about eating turkey, after all.

But for adults, it’s the holiday where good taste fashion rules fly out the window. Naughty nurses, naughty witches, and naughty tavern wenches are EVERYWHERE.

It’s the one time of year women feel free to channel their inner dominatrix, parading around in glorified bikinis, weapons, and heavy eyeliner. Ironically enough, this all happens when it’s super cold outside.

3- Christmas: Greed

christmas

Official purpose: Caring about everyone else

Sure, Christmas is about the birth of our savior, trees with pretty lights, traditional songs and family togetherness. It’s lovely.

But who are we kidding? For kids, it’s all about the presents. They dream up wish lists for months, write letters to Santa, and wake up at the crack of dawn on Christmas, hungry to tear into that sweet new pile of toys.

And we parents absolutely break ourselves to make that possible.

4-New Year’s Eve: Sloth

best-funny-new-years-resolutions-2015-memes-6Official purpose: Welcoming the challenges of a whole ‘nother year

NYE is basically a grownup’s holiday that mostly involves going somewhere to sit around and drink until the clock strikes midnight and everyone kisses each other.

I’m gonna argue NYE is all about sloth, because it’s not only the holiday that involves the least work (unless you’re throwing a giant party), but also the one where everyone expects to magically improve their lives.

Yeah, we just cheer for the brand new year, thinking this new year will automatically make great things happen without us having to do anything. Okay, maybe we throw out a New Year’s resolution or two, but we definitely won’t be starting them until tomorrow.

5- Valentine’s Day: Envy

its-valentines-day-batman.pngOfficial purpose: Being grateful for your significant other

This is the holiday where some lucky women receive enormous bouquets of roses at work, in front of all their jealous coworkers, while others wonder why their deadbeat boyfriends/husbands never send them roses at work. Because apparently that guy has gotten a little too comfortable and it’s probably just a matter of time before he stops even bothering to sniff the armpits of his shirts before getting dressed to go out.

This is the day when people in seasoned relationships get to envy the emotional rollercoaster of fresh new relationships, and people in new relationships get to be disappointed when a bunch of dramatic gestures don’t end up leading to an incredibly romantic proposal.

Even worse, single people have to sit around being single while the whole world celebrates being in love. Hearts, chocolates, and chocolates in heart-shaped boxes… it’s the schmoopiest, most in-your-face kind of romantic comedy love propaganda on the planet, designed to remind anyone single just how tragic it is to be alone.

Of course, all those bells and whistles put a lot of pressure on couples. What if you’re exhausted and all you really feel like doing is ordering in a pizza and watching Netflix? This wouldn’t be a problem if you were single. Single people have nothing to prove and can do whatever they want. Lucky bastards…

6- Independence Day: Wrath

4th-july-jokeOfficial purpose: Patriotism

It’s tempting to say the 4th of July is all about Pride, because we Americans are feeling pretty smug about how awesome our country is and how smart we were to hide behind rocks while the British Redcoats lined up with giant X’s on their chest.

But I’m going to go with Wrath instead.

Why? Because the one thing that distinguishes Independence Day is our collective need to watch fireworks.  (Maybe we set them off ourselves, or maybe we go watch a professional show… it depends on how your city ordinances deal with handling explosives).

And while fireworks are beautiful, their thundering noises, flashing lights, and thrilling potential danger have been commemorating the weapons of war since 1777.

That’s right, everyone casually eats watermelon and well-barbecued meats while fondly remembering how we really decimated the British with our musket fire and cannon balls. Cause that’s what we ‘Muricans do to folks who TAX US WITHOUT LETTING US REPRESENT.

You wanna TAX our tea?? Well, we’re gonna THROW IT INTO THE WATER and start DRINKING COFFEE INSTEAD.

You like them apples, England?  How about you guys waltz into your nearest Starbucks, sip some lattes and think about what you did…

7- Easter: Pride

easter.jpgOfficial purpose: Celebrating the resurrection

Admittedly, saying Easter is all about the deadly sin of pride may be a hard sell. But I’ve only got one holiday and one deadly sin left, so I plan to plan to rationalize that square peg into this round hole until my theory completely fits.

So… what about the fact we think we know what we’re doing, even though we’re all  celebrating Christ’s resurrection with a bunch of bunny rabbits and colorful eggs?

Does that seem reasonable to you? That a giant rabbit, who hides baskets of chocolate from children, should be a fitting symbol of our messiah’s return from the dead?

Of course. Because we all know what we’re doing here. Why shouldn’t we call this holiday “Easter,” which comes from the Teutonic fertility goddess “Eostre,” which we celebrate in the Spring with a bunch of fertility symbols, like eggs and rabbits?

Nothing weird about that.

And while we’re on the subject of pride, how about the way we celebrate the holiday by hiding baskets and eggs from little kids. Kids have trouble finding them even when we put them in really obvious places, which makes us feel pretty smart.

Easter, the day we get to feel like geniuses by outwitting a pack of tiny children.

So, am I completely off the mark here? Because I’m basically saying that while we set up these holidays to celebrate the greatest of human virtues, we kind of end up reveling in the worst.

Not that it’s a bad thing. Maybe we need these “safe,” official spaces to get out all our selfishness. Maybe it makes us better people for the rest of the year.

Or maybe we’re inventing new holidays to do it better. I mean, what the heck is Black Friday about, if not our willingness to trample our countrymen to get our hands on a bigger TV?

UPDATE: After reading this post, my blogging buddy Amanda at Just in Queso wrote a hilarious post where she assigned the 7 deadly sins to characters on the show Friends. You should check it out: Sins and Friends.

(And read her other stuff too. It’s really good!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonder Woman Goes Rogue In a World Of Evil Monkeys

It’s been one of those weeks with kids where, despite all our good intentions, we ended up eating way too many tacos and frozen pizzas.

You know how it is…. I kept meaning to make beef slow-cooker stew, but kept forgetting to pull steak out of our freezer because our two-year-old daughter, Bridget, has been waking up around 3:45 AM each morning to shriek inconsolably for a couple hours.

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Take THAT, evil monkeys!

I have no idea what’s going on and all I can get out of her is the word “mankeys,” said repeatedly in a panicked voice. I can only assume she’s having evil monkey nightmares which climax in her bloodcurdling screams.

They must be godawful scary monkeys, from what I can tell.

Hopefully, we’ll get to the bottom of it. But in the meantime, I decided everyone really needed a proper meal. Desperately needing a break, I asked John to take our four-year-old daughter, Brontë, to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients. Someone needed to stay home with Bridget, anyway, while she slept off yet another crazed monkey hangover.

So John took Brontë to the grocery store, where they had a good time. After finding her Wonder Woman tiara in the backseat of our car, Brontë put it on and talked about saving the day for the rest of the ride.

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Wonder Woman in the backseat

In the store, John told her she could “save the day” by grabbing food off our list and putting it into the cart. This method has been working well, by the way, for minimizing grocery store tantrums. Brontë seems less bored when she’s involved in the process.

And I heard she mostly did a great job, apart from when he asked her to to grab celery and she came back with some fruity Starbucks drink instead.

Well, everything was fine until they came back home, where John piled all the grocery bags on the kitchen table. In the middle of putting everything away, he reaches into one of the bags and pulls out a ginormous bag of gummy bears.

He drops it to the table with a THUD. We both stare at it.

gummy-bear

Brontë stops in her tracks, puts her hands on her hips and says, “Whoa! Look at that!”

“I wasn’t expecting that,” John said.

And Brontë, feigning shock, says, “Wow, yeah… that’s really weird.”

John bunches up his eyebrows. “So, that giant bag of gummy bears just happened to fall inside our cart?”

 

Finally, Brontë flings both her arms over her head:

“FINE. OKAY, I GRABBED THEM. You caught me, guys… IT WAS ME!” Then she ran to her room in a panic and slammed the door.

(She really caved under the slightest pressure, didn’t she?)

Maybe she’d been inspired by her baby sister’s attempted chocolate heist last week, but I’m not sure how she thought she could pull this off. First of all, she’s obsessed with gummy bears and everyone knows it. She sings the gummy bear song all the time. A better move leading up to this crime would’ve been faking gummy bear nonchalance.

I still can’t help being impressed that she managed to grab such a huge bag, slip it into the cart unnoticed, then play stupid while the checker was ringing it out. But she overlooked one critical element: she needed to pay attention to which grocery bag contained the contraband, so she could later create a distraction and then make off with the goods.

A fine effort, I have to say. she needed to iron out a few kinks.

 

 

 

The Great Chocolate Caper

The dining room chair shoved in front of the stove should’ve been my first clue. I kept staring at this inconsistency while sipping my coffee, but nothing else was amiss.

My kids had used this maneuver to pilfer the cabinets before, but they were always sloppy about it. Cabinets were left hanging open and food scattered everywhere, like raccoons had turned over the kitchen.

And the kids were still asleep, weren’t they?

Eh, whatever. I shrugged it off and went about my day until later that morning, when I plopped down on the couch and heard the faintest crunch.

What the?

I tugged back a cushion to see a flash of yellow. I jumped off the couch, grabbed the yellow thing and pulled it out–an empty, crinkled bag of Nestle’s Mini Chocolate Chips–and then, more yellow…

ANOTHER empty bag of Nestle’s Chocolate Chips. Baffling

I took a deep breath before peeling the cushions back all the way, which revealed TWO ENTIRE BAGS of Nestle’s Mini Chocolate Chips packed into the couch crevices.

WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON?

Who’s responsible for this? Think, woman, think… 

Maybe Brontë, our four-year-old, because she has two years on baby sister and therefore tends to better cover her tracks. Yet Bridget is the one super-motivated by food and has already demonstrated a growing aptitude for Ninja skills.

But I’m a Ninja too. That’s where she got it.

I tucked myself onto the stairs, where I could invisibly wait..

And after some time, Bridget wandered into the living room, sucking her thumb. She slowly backed up to the couch. After checking the perimeter, her tiny hand darted into the couch cushions, coming back with a wad of chips. She shoved the chocolate wad into her mouth, chewed it up, then used her shirt to remove the smears of evidence.

Gotcha.

I played it cool for a couple of hours while Bridget played the drooling toddler bit to absolute perfection, innocently wandering around with toys like she didn’t have six cups of chocolate chips stashed in nearby furniture. She never once succumbed to her chocolate cravings while I was in the room.

She was shoving Legos into random castles when out-of-nowhere, I hauled the H-vac in.

Flipping in on, I noticed her sudden panic at the sounds of whirling vacuum.  Grabbing her blankie, she raced over and pounced on the evidence couch.

She stretched out

oh

so

casually.

“I know you hid chocolate chips in the couch, Bridget. You need to move.”

“…okay.”

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I’m sitting on a gold mine…
She looked at the floor, got up, and backed away from the couch.

I almost felt bad about sucking away her chocolate stash. I couldn’t help being impressed by her multi-step plan.

I mean, she’s only two years old, but she thought to:

  • Get up either in the middle of the night or early that morning to pilfer the chocolate supply when no one was looking
  • Cover the evidence up, not only closing the cabinets but also tucking the chocolate chips evenly around all the cushions so no one could see them poking out
  • Tuck the empty bags into the couch too
  • Go back to bed before anyone was the wiser
  • Only grab handfuls of chocolate when she was by herself, and
  • Hold out to protect her chocolate stash until the gig was absolutely up.

It was almost the perfect chocolate heist. The only flaw in her devious plan was not realizing the chocolate would eventually melt and best-case scenario, she’d be left eating handfuls of melted chocolate with a bunch of lint balls and couch threads mixed in.

And her oversight led to the obliteration of our chocolate supply. Now it’s gone and mom will never store future chocolate in that cabinet again, a toddler miscalculation of potential risks and rewards.

I figure that’s punishment enough. She was this close to establishing a personal chocolate supply for days on end and I don’t think her big sister had any clue what was going down.

You’re a dark horse, Bridget, but I’m onto you. For now.

 

When Your Kids Are Obnoxious in Restaurants

Whoever came up with the idea of offering play structures at McDonalds and Chick-fil-a’s was a marketing genius, let me tell you. It’s an absolute godsend for parents of toddlers to finally eat a meal in peace.

Problem is, I don’t want to spend the next several years only eating at McDonalds every time we go out to dinner. Really seems like someone would’ve caught on  to the screaming market need for reasonably healthy restaurants with kid play structures by now…

Because every time my husband and I try to eat at a “normal” restaurant, it’s just a matter of time before our kids turn into drunken soccer hooligans. They kick, they squirm, they take turns melting under the table, and when our scrambling to control them finally frustrates them enough, they start screaming at the top of their lungs.

The  crayons restaurants give you are a great idea, but they only work on our kids for a few minutes (plus, Bridget eats them). Bringing toys hasn’t worked. Stern lectures in the bathroom haven’t worked. And since our society currently frowns on paddling the crap out of your kids, my husband and I can think up few solutions beyond one of us marching our kids outside, around the building, while the other one eats by themselves.

Threatening to leave is pointless, because kids DON’T CARE. They don’t understand what it means to work long hours to earn the money for a nice meal at a restaurant and they think leaving is a fine idea. Who wants to sit still?

Recently, my husband and I decided we HAVE GOT to put a stop to these shenanigans, because 1) we don’t want to live under house arrest for the next five years, and 2) we’ve been to Europe and seen little kids sitting patiently at dinner many times. So, we know it’s possible.

We just don’t understand how.

We’re assuming the best course is practicing proper mealtime behavior at home, which means teaching our kids to sit still in their chairs at the dinner table. We used to excuse them when they were finished eating, which usually meant they took two bites before running off to build Lego ships and make Barbies yell at each other.

Now, they’re supposed to sit still until EVERYONE is finished eating, which is going something like this:

Our kids are firmly convinced they’re suffering under an oppressive and torturous dictatorship. The new policy changes have prompted rioting and vocal dissent, as well as the constant flickering on-and-off of nearby light switches:

 

 

But to no avail. Their butts keep getting placed firmly back onto chairs and the timeouts just keep on coming.

The whole process has about shredded our every last nerve, but as time wears on, the tantrums are getting shorter and the sitting is getting longer. Dare we even say it?

We may,

One day,

Actually be able to take our time when eating at a normal restaurant.

(Whew, don’t jinx it!)

Any other parents have this problem? Did you manage to fix it, or did you end up hiding out for years until your kids came of age? We think we may be on the right track here, but only time will tell.