Thursday, April 26, 2012

I do not like...

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...mangoes.  I don't like the way they taste; I don't like the way they smell. I don't like the way they feel in my hand.  I really, REALLY don't like cutting them up, what with their pesky seeds and all.

Yep, I can honestly say that I dislike everything about mangoes.

That is all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


How is it possibly Wednesday already? Between hanging out with a super-cool two-year-old, and working hard at a job I love, the days just seem to fly by!

Here's a quick glimpse into some of the fun we've been having over the past few weeks:

The monkey bars
The sliding board
Learning to drive
The Philly Science Festival
The Please Touch Museum

(Not to mention riding the train, making letters out of Play Doh, visiting the zoo, putting puzzles together, reading lots of picture books, cooking and baking, blowing bubbles, feeding ducks, eating in restaurants, and visiting my grandfather in the hospital every night - which Trey thinks is the MOST FUN EVER).

What have you been up to, lately?

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Son, the Sugar Fiend

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Yesterday afternoon, Donnie came home from work carrying a few pieces of leftover birthday cake.  The kind that comes from a grocery store bakery, piled high with colorful, sugary frosting.  The kind that contains every artificial flavor, color, and chemical known to humanity.  The kind that turns my son into a stark-raving mad sugar junkie.

"Cake!" Trey screamed, the moment he saw his father.  "Cake, cake, CAKE!"  He ran to the dining room table, pushed aside his Play Doh cans with a single, violent swoop of his arms, and started making grabby motions with his hands, all while chanting, "Cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, MOM, PLEASE!"

So we gave him some cake - a sliver that couldn't have been more than an inch long, and half an inch wide, surgically extracted from the artificial-color-free center of the least-decorated piece.  Truth be told, by the time I was done with it, that cake didn't look even one bit exciting.

But my son and his sweet tooth gobbled that tiny slice up like it was the most delectable food on the planet.  "Mmmmmmm," he exclaimed.  "Yummy.  Cake.  More?"

And, amazingly enough, when I told him "No," that he'd already had his cake, and now he was all done, Trey actually took it pretty well.  Sure, he sighed, and gave me a dirty look.  But within a matter of moments, he'd moved on to playing with his farm animals.  Apparently, his sugar demon had been sated.

I suppose it's sometimes best to put aside the strict nutritional guidelines we impose on our kids, and let them have their sweets.  Not a ton, of course, but just enough to remind them that no food is a forbidden fruit.  They'll have their fun, and get over it soon enough.  By their next meal, they'll be back to organic raisin cookies or banana flax seed smoothies or whatever other wholesome, healthy food we crunchy moms come up with.

Now if only I could tame the guilt-monster that eats away at my soul, every single time Trey consumes some sugar-lade monstrosity.  But I don't think that's going to happen any time soon.

Do you let your kids indulge their sugar demons?  How often?  How much?  How long does the guilt eat away at you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Calling for a Cease-Fire in the Mommy Wars

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Guess what? Sometimes terrible people have kids. Some of them draw a paycheck and some of them don’t. But among the wisest and best women I know are a stay-at-home mother of four and an overextended working mom who is one of the top three professionals in the country at what she does. And I know that both of them are raising loving, healthy, awesome kids for whom they would do anything.
If ya'll are as tired as I am of blog posts about the "mommy wars," you'll love this piece from Mary Elizabeth Williams.  Seriously, now, don't we all have more important things to do than fight over individual parents' lifestyle choices?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gentle Weaning

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Over the past few months, I’ve realized it’s time for me to start weaning Trey. It’s not that I don’t love nursing; I do. I believe it’s the healthiest, most natural way for a mom to feed her baby. However, after two years of serving as my son's personal, portable all-you-can-eat buffet, I am physically and emotionally exhausted.

And so I’ve begun a process I like to think of as “gentle weaning." I never, ever refuse to nurse Trey. But I do make things a bit more difficult for him - just enough to discourage him from breastfeeding out of boredom, or as a default every time he looks at me.

My approach is a fairly simple one: when Trey asks to breastfeed, I tell him, “Sure, but we have to go lie down in bed. Or, if you'd prefer, we can skip breastfeeding, stay here, and keep playing/baking/watching Blue’s Clues/etc. If you’re thirsty, I’ll pour you some water. If you’re hungry, I’d be happy to make you a snack.”

Unsurprisingly, Trey almost always chooses to keep playing.  And he’s gotten so used to the process, that he often goes days without asking to nurse at all (aside from our “regularly scheduled” sleep-related sessions, of course).

I imagine it will be quite some time before Trey falls asleep without nursing – and that’s fine.  I don’t want to rush him into anything.   I’m just happy he’s learning to enjoy his day – and my company – without having to breastfeed every time he’s grouchy, or thirsty, or bored.

I'm also glad the end of our breastfeeding journey is filled with just as much warmth and love as the past two years have been. That's not to say my heart won't break a little bit, when we're eventually done. Saying good-bye is always hard. But it's a huge comfort to know we're weaning in a way that doesn't rush things, and also seems to work well for both of us.

How did you wean your breastfeeding babies?  Any and all advice would be more than welcome!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

3 Reasons to Hold the Lettuce

This lettuce, I would eat
Over the past few weeks, I've been served some pretty disgusting lettuce in restaurants.  That got me to thinking: Why, exactly, do I eat lettuce when I'm dining out, anyway?  Is there any benefit whatsoever, to my palate or my health?

In short, I've decided there isn't.  And so, from now on, I'm going to skip eating lettuce when I go out to eat.  Here's why:
It's dripping with pesticides.  Lettuce is on the "dirty dozen" list of foods you should buy organic.  If I wouldn't purchase conventionally grown lettuce at the supermarket, why would I eat it anywhere else?

It tastes bad.  Have you ever eaten a bite of non-organic lettuce, all by itself, with nothing else on your fork - no salad dressing, no tomato, just plain old lettuce?  The pesticides have a distinct, metallic flavor, which is completely revolting.

It's nutritionally worthless.  Let's face it - the average eatery isn't going to use green leaf lettuce, romaine, or another super-healthy variety.  Restaurant meals are usually served with plain old iceberg, which is a nutritionally empty food - in addition to being bland and flavorless.
So, restaurant lettuce and I are finished - unless, of course, I'm dining some place with organically grown greens.  What about you?  Do you eat lettuce when you go out to eat?

Friday, April 6, 2012

My Miracle

Eleven days ago, the doctors told my family that my grandfather wouldn't live through the night.  But by some improbable grace, he did.  And then he did it again.  And again.  For ten straight nights. 

His failing systems began to recover.  His vital signs stabilized.  A few days ago, he started responding to our voices. 

Yesterday, he breathed without a ventilator for close to twelve hours.  He squeezed our hands, and shook his head "yes" or "no" in response to our questions.  When we spoke, he moved his mouth in response.  He watched the Phillies' opening day. 

He just keeps getting better.  And what better time of year to do so, than in this season of miracles - of Passover blessings, and Easter joy, and the breathtaking beauty of spring?

On that happy note, I want to wish all of you who are remembering and celebrating your faith traditions a most blessed holiday season.  I know mine will be particularly joyful this year.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No Angel. So What?

No, he still doesn't deserve to be shot.
This article from Salon has me hopping mad.  I cannot even begin to understand what the right-wing media hopes to gain by smearing Trayvon Martin's character.

Are they claiming that because he made mistakes - because he engaged in stupid, typical teenage crap like truancy and graffiti and giving people the finger - he deserved to be gunned down on an empty street?  Are they trying to validate George Zimmerman's right to feel threatened by the mere existence of a young black male?

So Trayvon wasn't a perfect angel.  Who is?  Even more importantly, what bearing does his past behavior have on the facts of the case?  How does it change what happened on that terrible night?

The answer, of course, is that it doesn't.  Trayvon was murdered not because he posted obscenities on Twitter, but because he had the audacity to be young and black and male in the wrong place, at the wrong time (of course, in our society, I doubt there is ever a right place and time to be young and black and male). 

I only hope the good, decent, fair-minded people of this country - both liberal and conservative - won't allow their outrage to be tampered or clouded by all this ridiculous noise.  Trayvon deserves justice - no matter how many hate-mongers feel the need to dig up irrelevant mistakes from his past.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Oatmeal Coconut Craisin Cookies (with Chocolate Chips, too!)

I invented this cookie recipe yesterday morning.  I wanted to bake something for my mom and my grandmom - who have basically been living in my grandfather's hospital room - but didn't have enough oats to make oatmeal raisin cookies, enough coconut for macaroons, or enough morsels for chocolate chip cookies.

So, I did what I always do: crossed my fingers, mixed a pile of mismatched ingredients together, and said a little prayer that the results would be edible.  Thankfully, they were; in fact, these chewy, spicy confections are addictively delicious (though perhaps a tad rich for some tastes).

Note: for best results, be sure to follow the tips in my popular post, How to Make Perfect Cookies.

Oatmeal Coconut Craisin Cookies (with Chocolate Chips, too!)

1 lb unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 (heaping) teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 (heaping) teaspoon ground cloves
1 (heaping) teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
2 cups craisins
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large stand mixer, quickly cream together the butter, sugars, and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Do not overmix.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined, again being careful not to overmix.  Stir in the oats, coconut, craisins, and chocolate chips.

Drop one-inch, rounded spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes (cookies will still look raw in the middle).  Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 6 dozen
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