Friday, May 29, 2009

An awesome article

My aunt emailed this article to me a couple of days ago. It was published on Mother's Day, but I think it's applicable all year! I'm trying today to pick myself up off the ground (that's right--4:44p.m., and I've still done hardly a thing.), quit being lazy and remember my priorities, and this article just makes me smile. Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sunday, 10 May 2009, (Mother's Day) Daily Herald Article

Congrats, mothers -- you're doing it all wrong
Lenore Skenazy - Special to The Washington Post

Happy Mother's Day, you moron, Love, your pals in the baby business.

If you're a mother, you might recognize that sentiment -- sweet wishes
from the passive-aggressive baby industry that wants you to feel so
completely, even dangerously unprepared for the challenges (they're
always "challenges") of parenthood that you will run out and read its
magazines, buy its products and take its advice. Ka-ching!

Here's a tip from a little article on flying a kite with your kid:
"Choose a sunny day when there's no chance of lightning."

You mean, don't fly kites when there's a funnel cloud headed for the
driveway? Got it.

Or how about this pointer from Parenting magazine on how to delight your
baby: "Lean in close and kiss her nose." Kissing my baby. Why didn't I
think of that?

And here's my favorite recommendation from a book of "Baby Must-Haves"
(yes, a 200-plus-page volume on items you simply must buy unless you
want your baby to be seriously deprived): "You'll get more bang for your
buck with a toy that can be played with in more than one way -- for
instance, a push toy that can also be pulled."

Now, you've got to feel sorry for the poor writer who had to come up
with something -- anything -- to say about a pull toy. But can you think
of a push toy that can't be pulled? Can you think of /any/ toy that
can't be pulled, besides a cranky daddy trying to watch SportsCenter?

These tips treat parents as if we were the 2-year-olds, so wet behind
the ears that we need an expert to tell us which games to play, which
toys to buy, what to say to our kids and what to feed them. This talking
down to parents is big business; the "mom market" has reached $1.7
trillion in annual revenue, according to the book "Parenting, Inc.,"
with $700 million spent on zero-to-age-2 toys alone. That's a lot of
pull toys.

Excuse me. Push and pull toys.

The whole gestalt is enough to convince us moms that today's children --
unlike all those who came before them -- do not have their trajectory
pretty well mapped out simply by being born human: cry, crawl, toddle,
walk, grow up, breed and cry some more. No, this generation won't make
it without a whole lot of help from specialists, safety gear and
Internet searches. But why? Are our children more vulnerable -- and we
less competent -- than any previous generation in history?

Of course not. But that's the message we're getting. We're living in a
time when parents worry about their offspring's safety and development
and health and you name it (OK, I will: SAT scores, emotional IQ, body
image, rattle skills, pacifier addiction, iPod addiction, self-esteem,
potential abduction, Facebook friends, cookie intake) more than ever,
thanks to a parenting industry that relies on turning us into nervous

It begins even before the baby's born. There are books and books about
what to eat during pregnancy, as if the average expectant woman couldn't
figure out whether she should choose the kale or the Krispy Kreme. (And
by the way, even that doesn't matter as much as the books make you
think. As my doctor told me: Just eat like you normally would, only a
little more -- and add some folic acid. I toasted her with a Yoo-hoo.)

That kind of counsel is too reasonable for the parenting-industrial
complex. Taking a chipper-but-chiding approach that sets the tone for a
whole generation of parenting advice, the "What to Expect When You're
Expecting" pregnancy guide goes so far as to remind moms-to-be that
"each bite" is a chance to give their babies the perfect start. Which
must mean that not making "each bite" nutritionally stellar risks
ruining your kid forever. There's no rest for the weary parent in this
high-alert world, especially after the little bundle arrives. Take, for
instance, the baby bath thermometer, an item so popular that there are
several competing brands on the market. The cheapest one looks like a
rubber duck. Place it in the tub and if the bathwater is too hot, these
words magically appear on its tummy: "TOO HOT."

You'd have to be convinced that you're incapable of testing the water
temperature with your own hand before you'd buy this gadget. But that's
what that crafty duck is out to do: undermine your confidence in your
own childrearing capabilities. (Never mind that the instructions on the
back of the package remind adults to "ALWAYS" check the temperature with
their hands first!)

It's hard to feel secure about being a good mom now that every decision
is so fraught with consequences. My friend Lainie Gutterman, who is just
entering her second trimester, says that her head is spinning. "I don't
know what's right, what's wrong, and for everyone who swears by
something," she says, "there's someone who hates that product and thinks
it's overpriced."

Usually that someone is me. And not just because it's a waste of money.
It's because I want the old days back.

For my friends and me -- gals raising elementary and junior-high-age
kids and even some who are just having babies -- things have changed
dramatically in a single generation. The worries that make us
hyperventilate didn't even faze our moms -- and not because they were
lazy or bad. It's just that in the past, people didn't see every tiny
parenting decision as such a big deal. Our moms could feed us formula
and not worry about whether they were subtracting IQ points. They could
let us bike around the block without thinking about last night's Nancy
Grace. They could hang a mobile above the crib and not worry too much

- Whether it was developmentally appropriate (including colors and music).

- Whether the attachments were facing the right way. (Really! I just
read an article that said they should face down, toward the baby, or all
bets are off.) And ...

- Whether we were going to strangle ourselves if we somehow managed to
pull the mobile down, play with the pull chain and accidentally wrap it
around our necks.

They didn't sweat the way we do because they were reading Dr. Spock, the
child-care guru of the 1950s and '60s, who famously began his book "Baby
and Child Care" with the words, "Trust yourself. You know more than you
think you do." Not, "Freak out! Your baby is at a super-important stage
and you must devote every fiber of your being to helping him ace it."

Deprived of this kind of "help," our parents let us stay outdoors till
the streetlights came on, and maybe even fly a kite on days that weren't
perfectly sunny.

Today is a day to thank those moms for all that they did. But it is also
a day to thank the current crop of moms, stuck trying to do their best
in the face of a whole parenting culture that's insisting, "You're not
doing it right!"

Yes we are. Or at least we're doing it right enough, thank you, and the
odds are very much on our side. Happy Mother's Day to us.

Lenore Skenazy is the author of Free-Range Kids: Giving Our
Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry.

Genuine griping & gratitude

I thought it might be interesting (note--interesting, not necessarily beneficial or fun) to record some current circumstances. Don't worry. All whining will be followed by hopeful affirmations and resolve, or something like that..

This very moment:
I have several ugly pimples on my face. The kind that are noticeable and refuse to hide with makeup. The kind that don't pick one spot to reside, but choose instead to form a sort of dot-to-dot around my face. The kind that make me feel like yelling when I look in the mirror. My face feels sorry for itself. So do I, a little.

This one time, I cut eight inches off my long, long hair after growing it out for over a year. (As in....about a month ago.) I'm still really, really mad at myself and haven't yet relocated my hair mojo. Hair mojo, where are you?

In preparation to buckle down and start training for the marathon next week, I have taken the opportunity to simply relax the last two weeks. My abdominal muscles are relaxed, too. And my bottom is simply SAGGING with relief. My body is yelling at me, and I'm yelling back, "I don't want to! Leave me alone!"

.....okay. Actually what happened is that I didn't work out very regularly week before last, and decided to continue being lazy, all the way up The "relaxing in preparation for the marathon" is the phrase I feed myself along with that third cupcake. Tastes good.

The house isn't a disaster, but it's definitely not clean. The kids keep playing in the red dust in the backyard (INSTEAD OF CHOOSING THE BEAUTIFUL GREEN GRASS) and walking into the house trailing clouds of dust. I'm trying to be laid-back about it. I'm not laid-back about it. I'm annoyed. And I don't want to clean until I'm ready to clean the whole house. I'm not ready. Yet. (There's that all-or-nothing stuff again.)

I suspect an army of hormones is at least partially to blame for this self-pity/OCD fest I'm having at the moment. That doesn't make me feel any less sorry for myself or any less controlling about red dust and similar things that are not really meant to be vigorously controlled.

Should I eat worms? :)

Ready for the happy stuff?

Last night, I got to do an awesome bridal shoot. As well as the night before that. The light was melty and buttery near sunset, and the bride, a friend of mine, was adventurous and beautiful. (Makes for good photos.) Last night, I had bride, groom, and their four children together in a field of rye. Note. If you choose to lay down in a field of rye, be forewarned. I drove home from Cedar to St.George (about 45 minutes, but more like 70 with the construction) with one very watering, red, itchy, swollen eye. It made driving rather....adventurous? Like the bride, only not safe. I sang stupid songs at the top of my lungs to stay focused and un-nervous. It worked. Thank you, Ms.Spears.
After some allergy medicine last night, guaranteed for 24-hour relief, I pretty much passed out for the night. I woke up with still-red, tiny eyes, but they don't itch! And I'm not sneezing! This is encouraging.
All of that was worth it. That field was beautiful. That family is beautiful. Hopefully the photos will turn out beautifully, too.

Savanna is walking around the house with a red-dusted-diaper butt, no other clothes, and ponytail-holders-removed hair. She is wiping off the coffee table with a wet washcloth. (She's a better housekeeper than I am.) She's ridiculously cute and smiles at me every time I look at her. I might have accepted the fact that she will be 2 on Sunday.

Ouch. Or not.

Phill is doing a scout campout tonight. I'll miss him for the night, but it was fun to watch him prepare. He packed a huge Army backpack full of supplies. Combat Life-Saving badge. Light that attaches to his head. (They'll be spelunking. Did I spell that right?) Underwear. Various other items to ensure a safe and relatively comfortable adventure. I think I will watch a girly movie tonight. Should go well with hormones, sweet chocolate, and salty tears.

The boys are in the front yard searching for lizards under the big shaded rock. Reed is dedicated in the art of Finding Lizards. He prefers to go out in the morning, when he says there is an abundance of the creatures hiding under the rock.

The kids have been following each other around all morning, with pretty minimal fighting. One of my favorite things is to see Reed dart down the hallway, followed closely by Jaxon, and Savvy speeding after them. And sometimes they make Savvy laugh so hard she almost falls over.

Best cure for self-pity? Laughter and activity. They have it in spades, and I'm going to let some of it seep into me today.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Remember all the high school groups? The ways we divided and defined ourselves?

You might say I didn't really fit into any one group. Relocating every two years or so gave me a tendency to become a chameleon. The defense mechanism of blending in was very useful. I would adjust my conversations, my clothing, my hair....all to feel comfortable wherever I went.

But at home, I knew exactly who I was. I wore exactly what I wanted, did exactly what I wanted, and laughed as loudly as I liked, even if it did sometimes produce a not-so-cute snort at the end of the aforementioned laugh. (And, heaven help me, it still happens now and then.)

I had one friend in high school with whom I was comfortable enough to be my absolute most-authentic self. I may be outgoing, but it is only born of necessity. I'm actually shy and private by nature; I still get shaky in the sight of any confrontation--be it friendly or unfortunate. So you might say that I found myself helplessly re-shaped by my surroundings, in a very much unconscious way.

What I wanted most, and what I think most everyone (especially in high school) wants, is to be able to safely be my authentic self, and be appreciated for it. But I don't think I even knew who that "self" was until I decided to jump out into the wild unknown and see what I was made of.

Let me tell you a little about my high school. Although I was homeschooled for the last two years of high school, my 9th and 10th grade years were spent at an American (but internationally diverse) high school in Belgium. (Some time I will create a little time-line of all the places we've lived, complete with dates and details.) In this high school, I think there existed more of an equal-opportunity standard than you would expect for any typical high school.

With all of that being said, I noticed after a while that the most talked-about, most-noticed, best-liked people were those who did something. Artistic people. Smart people. Athletic people. Funny people. If you were in drama, sports, extracurricular groups--then you had a good chance of being respected.

The lazy ones, or the shy ones, simply faded into the background. I had always been comfortable in the invisible position, but I secretly admired those who were involved. I decided to be brave. At first, I chose something I knew I'd enjoy--drama. I participated in a hilarious play, as a character whose four lines bemoaned the state of the casserole on the table, and fainted at the sight of a ridiculously good-looking celebrity. (How dynamic.) I know I grew a bit braver from that experience.

But then I decided to do something that really scared me: cross-country. I had visions of beating school records and astounding the masses with my speed and endurance.

Except for a couple problems--I was not speedy or enduring. The girls on our team were divided into two groups, titled neutrally: Team A and Team B. I was on Team B. Guess who was slower? Just guess. It's a huge surprise. No really! You'll be shocked.

Team B.

(Pardon my seemingly-bitter sarcasm. It gets happier soon, I promise.)

If you want to be politically correct about it, we were simply differently-paced. Speed-challenged. Endurance-limited.

In running with Team B during practice, at least for longer runs, I developed a massive chip on my shoulder. In my typical I'm-so-persecuted 15-year-old way, I just knew we weren't as important. In my self-pity, I missed absolutely kind remarks such as, "Hey! You guys finished your long run at the same time as us!" and "You have the best quads!" and "You look so cute in your running shorts." What I heard was: "Hey! We must have gone really slow to finish at the same time as Team B!" and "Oh my gosh your legs are big and it's weird" and "I don't know if you should wear those shorts."

How? How did I take totally well-meaning compliments and turn them into inner poison? The answer is simple and it only took me a few years to get it: Comparisons. The constant refrain in my head was "I'm not as cute as...." or "I'm not as fast as....." and "I'm good at this, but she's better...."

Over time, that kind of thing really skews the way you see the world around you. I look back and feel as if I wasted so much time in high school feeling sorry for myself, certain that nobody-likes-me-everybody-hates-me-and-I-deserve-to-eat-worms.

Enter sanity.

The first time we had to do six miles, I had a bit of a panic attack. (Note: Self-pity and abject fear drive coaches crazy.) I was "assigned" a senior girl to accompany me, lest I should die on my run. Translate: Coach has no idea how to handle my panic and is annoyed by it. Go run six miles now. With sympathetic senior. Stop crying.

As this girl eased us into the run, I relaxed and listened to her comforting advice. She said many, many things that comforted me, and actually didn't stay on the team because of conflicting senior activities. But I remember one thing most particularly. As we hit mile four and I realized how long it was taking me to finish, I began to panic, then cry, as I said that I felt ridiculous for needing to go at such a slow pace. She slowed down, I slowed down, and finally we walked while she told me: Stop worrying about speed. Just pace yourself. Just be steady. Just finish. Speed will come later.

We completed our six miles. I don't remember the finishing time; she wouldn't let me see. (Smart girl.) I was somber for the rest of that week, thinking about what she had said.

My coach, although he wasn't necessarily the most sympathetic to whiners like me, was definitely smart. He gifted me the title of informal "leader" of Team B, which mostly comprised of eighth graders and freshmen. I felt first embarrassed, but the capable, when he would say, "Rachel, just do a nice easy 6 today."

Because someone had been compassionate enough to take me under their wing and help me erase my self-pity, I was able to show compassion to those girls. When I saw them feeling exactly how I had felt, I would encourage them to make it just to the next tree, the next lamp-post, the next crack in the sidewalk...."Make it there and you can walk for a second! Just keep going! Don't stop....stay steady." Eventually, five minutes without stopping turned into ten, thirty, sixty. We progressed from our appallingly slow fifteen-minute-mile pace to a comfortable 9- or 10-minute mile pace on those long runs. We learned to be steady. We learned to stop feeling sorry for ourselves by helping each other.

Somewhere along the line, I learned to hear compliments the way they were delivered, and stopped thinking of myself on some lower plane than everyone else. I came to appreciate the muscles in my body, rather than being frustrated by the appearance of my body.

In my slow, steady way, I made progress and I made friends. I conquered my fearful self.

Now, with the marathon only short months away, I'm making my way through similar obstacles. I feel frustrated by my lack of speed, my lessened endurance, my many inadequacies. I have little mini-nightmares about being too late to the race to be allowed to do it, or not being able to complete it, or completing it hours after everyone else has gone home.

The difference is that I realize who my opponent is this time. I could compare myself to any runner out there, but ultimately, I'll only feel good if I can conquer myself. In whom am I disappointed when I come home from a three-mile run in which only 30% was actual running? And who am I really up against, as I run? The competition is with myself; I compete with my fears, my not-ideal strength, my desire to stop. These mornings where I confront what makes me feel most inadequate, what drives my neuroses, and tame it into submission by dedicated efforts--these mornings, I am most myself. I laugh as loud as I like, I feel comfortable in my clothes, and I see the truth--which is that we're all "important". We're all necessary. Team A, Team B. It's all the same.

Progress is gradual. It happens a little at a time. Become obsessed with shortcomings and it cripples you like a chronic illness. Tackle one issue at a time, and over the grand scheme of things, progress is inevitable.

I just have to remember that soothing advice:
Stop worrying about speed.
Just pace yourself.
Just be steady.
Just finish.
Speed will come later.

.....stop worrying about perfection.
Just do what you can.
Just be consistent.
Just finish.
Progress will come over time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

You must love me....(again, name that musical)

Aside from the happiness of having Phill home again, he brought back some things from Germany that made me make a face akin to this: I think he might love me.....look at this loot! My love language is chocolate.

And there were even several Kinder Eggs for the kids. Of all the things I miss about Germany, chocolate and certain foods (Raja Imbiss is calling my name; those gyros and fries cannot be outdone or replicated....) tend to make me feel most nostalgic. I'm horribly jealous that Phill got to explore Heidelberg without me, amongst other places.

I'm thinking a second honeymoon there would be nice. Epic. Incredible. The adventure of a lifetime.

*sigh*.....oh, man. I'm so glad he's home. Now I don't have to fight back waves of emerald-green jealousy. :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Food, glorious food! (Name that musical....)

What to do when usual babysitters are busy, husband will be home in less than two days, and the grocery supply needs to be replenished TODAY?

Why, take the kids with you, of course.


I admit I'm really spoiled by Phill. Our usual setup is that I go grocery shopping while he stays home, or we go together with the kids. Today, I had no such option. So I put some snacks in my purse, made my list as clear and succinct as possible, and called my sister for support. (That's right. I'm spoiled, and I call my sister to motivate and inspire me before I do something that's difficult.) She cheerfully told me I could do it, and that I wouldn't fall over and die when it was over. (I think the last time I've had to do the two-weeks-worth grocery shopping thing with the kids was.....two months ago? I'm rusty.)

First we stopped at Costco, which was relatively easy because I had two of the three strapped into the cart. Let me pause to say:

Dear Wal-mart,

Please make your shopping carts as big as Costco's, and your aisles as wide as Costco's, even if your food and supplies are not near as exciting as Costco's.

Thank you.

Tired Mom


When we got to Wal-mart, I tried to be speedy and efficient, which was not easy at all. Do you know my boys? Let me tell you something: They want to examine everything. Weigh everything. Sometimes taste-test things.....they are tactile explorers, which means that this refrain is heard as we make our way throughout the store:

"Put that down, please. No, we're not buying that. I said no. We have treats at home. You don't need shoes. Please follow me. Please stay close to me. Please stay close to me. PLEASE STAY CLOSE TO ME. No, not next to the cart, next to Me."

It's no wonder they stop listening--I get sick of hearing myself, too! I become this anxious, wild-eyed, frizzy-haired, sweaty version of myself. And I get weird looks from cantankerous old men who can't understand why I would bring my three young children with me to the store. Which makes my mental snarkiness really shine....."What? What's your problem? Stare at me some more!" Obviously, this is not a time when I'm at my best.

But today, I didn't want to feel sorry for myself, and so I said a prayer before I left and decided to note the things that went well. Here's what went well:

-Savvy had just woken up from a nap before we left. Cheery, quiet Savvy. Angel.
-The boys were just rambunctious--not screaming, not crying, and not making things fall off the shelves.
-I found a parking spot close to the front door.
-I found what I needed quickly, both at Wal-mart and Costco. Relatively no puzzled searching.
-I stayed within my food budget!
-The kids were quiet in the car on the way home, and gratefully accepted a McDonald's dinner. (Odd, you might say, that I buy fast food on the way home from just buying tons of-what?-FOOD. But in this case, it's a necessity. By the time I get home and get everything put away, it's 7:30. Hungry kids wailing in the kitchen while I try to simultaneously make dinner and put everything away? I don't think so. Oh--and although I could go earlier, it just didn't happen today. Between a grandma visit and a baby nap, I was impressed we got out the door at 4:30.)
-The confused stares and even annoyed glares were nonexistant today. Two moms were even sweetly sympathetic as our circus walked by.
-The kids are full-bellied and soundly in bed. And I am not dead.

I also have to say that for some reason today, I was overcome as I walked through the store, looking at all the food. Mostly the produce. I think it's an incredible blessing that my fridge has colorful produce and fresh cheese and protein-filled meat in it right now; a blessing to live in a country where food is available in such abundance and for a relatively reasonable price. It just struck me--for no apparent reason--that it is amazing to be able to walk into a store and have so many choices, and walk out with two weeks' worth of food.

Instead of feeling despondent and exhausted, I'm tiredly grateful.

Now if that isn't a miracle.....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Delicious Deception: A foray into puree

Our ward's cooking group recently had an activity I was lucky to attend. We covered the basics of Deceptively Delicious, which involves sneaking vegetables (and fruits) into your meals so that picky kids will still get all the goodness of vitamins, antioxidants, and probably loads of fiber. (Evidence suggests.)

I like the concept just because I think it's clever, provident, and advisable to up the nutritional value of our foods, no matter what our kids' (or our) tastes are. My kids do like vegetables, actually--most of the time. But I like the concept of using purees, because it's more cost-effective for me. I can't store salad in my fridge for longer than five days without it going bad, so I often feel like we eat great produce for the first few days after I go grocery shopping, and then our menu goes down a notch because everything has gone bad or run out. With the purees, you freeze them. So they can last for quite a while and be quickly thawed to include in a meal.

I actually bought the Deceptively Delicious book when it first came out. I was feeling ambitious, totally excited, and ready to make our meals a bit better. I read the first section. I looked through the recipes. I became overwhelmed. I gave the cookbook to my little sister.

Well, the cooking group was useful in that it showed how easy it really is to do this kind of thing. My main concern was that I'd have to use the D.D. recipes for each of my meals. I had this vision of having to throw out every favorite meal we had, and using only hers for the rest of our lives. Not very fun, right? But I've learned that the whole concept is really quite flexible! Many of the purees are interchangeable, and many of the things I make could use a puree that hides easily.

So I thought I'd share what I've discovered!

The kids and I often eat ravioli for lunch. We buy frozen ravioli--the Western Family or Great Value brand in the freezer section. I usually put Great Value (Wal-mart's generic brand, in case you need reminding) traditional-flavor spaghetti sauce on the ravioli, and a sprinkling of parmesan or mozzarella. (It's yummy.)

I discovered: You can hide 1/2 C carrot puree in 1/2-whole bottle of the sauce. It actually takes away some of the acidity of the tomato, which I think is nice. I think it actually tastes better with the carrot.

Using this discovery, I made a sort of twist on chicken parmigiana. ('A twist' means I looked at the recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook and decided I was too lazy to follow it.)

Lazy Rae's Health-Conscious Chicken Parmigiana

In a half-size casserole dish (I guess full works, too), combine 1/2 to 1 bottle Great Value traditional spaghetti sauce, a can of diced tomatoes, and 1/2 C carrot puree.

Dip four tenderized chicken breasts in Italian-style bread crumbs. (I didn't dip them in egg white first; I figured they were already wet.) Lay the breasts in the dish, all cozy and squished next to each other. (It's really okay if they touch.) Spread about 1/2 C parmesan on top.

Bake in the oven at 350 for 55 minutes. Then turn the breasts over and cook for 10-15 more minutes. Test for done-ness--mine would have still been pink if I had taken them out only 5 minutes earlier, so just bake them to your desired consistency. Ours were incredibly tender.

It makes a sweet, tomatoey, cheesy chicken that is soooo good. We sprinkled a bit of mozzarella on top, and served a salad with it. We were actually perfectly sated!


I have used the D.D. recipe for scrambled eggs--it uses cauliflower puree--and it is DIVINE. No joke. The best scrambled eggs I've ever had! I've also done them with yellow squash puree. Still good--not as good.

One thing we did in the cooking group was brownies. My favorite, after some experimentation, was to do this:

2 boxes Family Style (note--not Family SIZE--Family Style) Duncan Hines brownies
1/2 C oil
however many eggs are called for from each box (I added one more than it asked. Just seemed to need it.)
1/2 C spinach puree
1/2 C carrot puree
no water

Mix all together, then bake. I would suggest baking longer than the time asked for. Just watch and check.

I have used the D.D. recipe for tuna salad--cauliflower puree--and it was good, though a little more liquidy than I like my tuna salad to be. The taste was right on, though, and the consistency didn't bug me at all once it was between bread. I've also made tuna salad with yellow squash puree because I ran out of the cauli. I like them equally.

Today: I made D.D.'s recipe for sweet potato pancakes, though I used yams instead of sweet potatoes. (Couldn't find any at the store.) They were really good. Really moist, fluffy, and light. Really good flavor.

I used the D.D. recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese (cauli puree), and I think next time, I will just use my own recipe and add in the puree. Her recipe calls for cream cheese, along with the cheddar and cauli. It threw me off with the flavor. It was yummy--just not ideal. I'm anxious to try it again with my normal recipe. (We did eat some at the cooking group that was made with cauli puree, cheddar, and without cream cheese. It was VERY good.)

As a dividend of these renewed efforts at nutritious cooking, my kids' moods seem to be more even. No noticeable sugar crashes, and actually, they seem more hungry and more anxious to eat what I put in front of them. Oddly enough. :) Reed did ask me, because he overheard me hinting on the phone, "What did you put in these brownies, Mom? What is the secret ingredient?" I decided to be completely honest and said, "Spinach and carrots." It had the desired effect--he laughed and said with total disbelief, "No...." So then I said, "Vitamins." Now he's anxious to share the secret with anyone. "My mom put vitamins in these. That's why they're so good." (Makes me feel like strutting like a peacock when he brags about my food!)

In general, I just feel better. I'm excited that the transition has been nearly seamless--I did have quite the puree session, but other than that, I don't feel like this has turned our schedules topsy-turvy. So--so far, a success!

Monday, May 11, 2009

To clarify:

Have you been fooled by my rose-colored-glasses posts?

Phill has been in Germany (YES I AM JEALOUS) since the 2nd; he'll be back Saturday at midnight. (After which our van will turn into a pumpkin, and my flip-flop will mysteriously go missing.)

Secretly last week was really not so great. I was detached and dull and despondent and disorganized. (Grade for last week, D+) Today, though, on the other side of two weeks with only a few more days to go, I feel much better. Did dishes and laundry and didn't cry into a bowl of ice cream.

I just wanted to be....forthcoming about my human-ness? Provide a little clarification? I don't know. I just wonder if I pretend everything is okay when it's not? That can't be helpful. I'd like to be in inspiration, not an illusion. I guess I just don't figure you want to hear about those more human days.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

my work

When my grandma is proud of me, she'll say, "You're good at what you do." After she got to hold each of my newborn children, and hear the stories of their births, she always said, "Oh honey, you're good at what you do!" And she'll still do it, when I call her and tell her I'm tired and cranky and barely hanging by a thread. So today, I'm showing off. I'm displaying my motherly work with pride. :) Happy Mother's Day, all of you beautiful friends of mine!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

mama marks

As crazy as I get with nit-picking the things I want to change about my body, there are some things that I actually don't mind. It helps me, on days when I feel bound by body-image neuroses, to remember the small things I like.

I wish I didn't store any extra weight in my hips and thighs, and I wish that my body overall was more toned, more...uplifted, shall we say?

But I don't think I'm in a hurry to get rid of my stretch marks. Not that I love them--not that I'm raring to show them off. But they're meaningful to me, meaningful enough that I would feel strange and somehow lost without them.

One day, Reed saw my belly as I was buttoning my pants.
He asked, "Mom? What are those?"

I asked (just to be clear), "What are what?"

"Those marks. Stripes. On your stomach. What happened here?"

"Oh, these?" (And here I was stalling for time, trying to find the positive explanation for something I don't often feel that positive about.) "These are.....these are marks that show I'm a mom. They show that I had a baby in my belly, and they show that my belly grew when that baby grew. These are my mama marks."

He smiles and says, "Mama marks. Like me? Like when your belly grew with me in it? When I grew?"

And I smile and say, "Yes. Like that."

"Can I touch them?"


"....Soft. And shiny. Hey look! They change color."

"Like fish...."

and later
"Can I see your mama marks again?"

My little boy doesn't find them ugly at all. The colors of nature, the marks of motherhood, right there on my body, are not repulsive to him. Because they are evidence of my willingness to be his nourishment, his protection.

I can live with my stretch marks. I can even like them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The darnedest things.....

Today after Reed's end-of-year assessment, I received a few of his year-long projects. One was a journal which they wrote in/colored in often. Sifting through its contents briefly, I was highly amused. Reed is most definitely male.

"I am going po."

And on the last page, a confession:

"I like Mabison."

[authentic spelling included]

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Evolution of Rae

How I Learned To Cook Edible Food
an inspiring new poem from DeVault Publishing

Newly married, shining with glee
with two other roommates--living happily
I set out to make the easiest of meals
Kraft mac & cheese, a budget-friendly deal.

I got the water boiling, feeling oh-so domestic,
and thought to myself, "It will be majestic!"
I threw the noodles in and went to town.
I let them boil while I sat down.

Alas, when I went to add the butter, milk and cheese,
I looked in the pot with a feeling of unease.
The budget-friendly noodles, once hard in their dried state
were now a thick mush unworthy to grace a plate.

I added the other stuff: milk, cheese, butter
and said "Dinner's ready!" with a secret shudder.
My husband, so sweet, looked at the mess.
"Looks good!" he fibbed, trying not to distress.

The roommates and Phill took a bite, faces brave.
And, chewing slowly, became somewhat grave.
"It's alright..." Phill said, seeing my tears start to fall.
"Yeah, it's good!" Roommate said, as I began to ball.

Thankfully the box of mush-mac was swept
into the trash while I wept and wept.
"I have an idea!" said a roommate with a cackle,
"It's alright--we'll use it for spackle!"

Part II
A lack of confidence was the cause
of two or three years of faux pas.
I chose meals made to order, costly food fare
or just let Phill cook--now that's some talent there!

But some part of me still badly wanted
to be a domestic goddess, a brave cook undaunted.
And one day while watching my sister Abby,
I began to realize she was not too shabby.

I asked what the secret was, her key to good food
and she answered quite quickly, no need to brood:
"I think you just lack confidence, young cook.
I myself read most of my recipes from a book!"

I went home renewed, determined to try.
I pulled out the cookbook and didn't even cry.
I assembled the components with a measured hand,
praying that at least it wouldn't be spackle-bland.

When at last I pulled the dish out of the oven to sample,
loving praise from Phill and kids was more than ample.
From then on I decided to be confidently daring,
finding easy recipes worthy of sharing.

Part III
Although I still have some less creative days,
I like to think I'm far from my spackle-mac ways.
Whether it's cereal or Chicken Parmigiana for dinner,
my secret is to pretend I'm a Top Chef winner.

And now that I've wrestled those demons of dinner-dread,
I'm beginning to think I can assemble a good spread:
For the last three days, I have been full of delicious deceit....
my children don't know how many veggies I've made them eat!

Puree of cauliflower, carrots, and squash
(It's WORTH all the dishes I've had to wash),
my kids have consumed these, hidden in their food.
And they already seem to be a much happier brood.

Ravioli, scrambled eggs, tuna salad and brownies,
I've powered up our food with clandestine ease.
I am no longer bound by crippling insecurity;
perhaps my dinner menu has
finally reached full maturity!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I must be crazy?

I might throw up.

I just registered for the St. George Marathon. It was a planned move, trust me. Nevertheless, my stomach is in knots already, and I it isn't even until October.

Liz, I really REALLY hope you get to run it with me!