Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Trip to the Movie Theater

I recently took the kids to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

I hadn't seen the first one before seeing the sequel, though I knew the general concept behind it. The girls were more than happy to fill me in on everything, since they had seen the first movie many, many times.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

One thing occurred to me when we were watching the previews. We noticed that Will Ferrell has a family-friendly movie out soon: Land of the Lost. My munchkins are already begging me to promise to take them when it comes out.

Now my first response to the thought of taking them to see a Will Ferrell movie would be: "No fucking way!" Ron Burgundy? Hello?!

But on second glance, it appears that, like Ben Stiller, Will is making the move from R-rated hysterically funny/smutty flicks to the even more lucrative kid-centered PG/PG-13 movies. A few years ago, I'd never have guessed that the same guy who'd gotten his privates caught in a zipper (There's Something About Mary) or who'd pumped up his privates (Dodgeball) would ever be in a movie I'd let my kids see.

Now I think I'm looking forward to Land of the Lost as much as the girls are, but my most-anticipated movie of the summer is Julia & Julia based on The Julie/Julia Project, which stars Amy Adams, lately of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

I like how things can come full-circle.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good Food for Healthy Kids

I've mentioned in previous posts how concerned I am with nutrition, both the kids' and mine. I've had a great week so far since I decided to switch to a vegan diet. I've given some thought to how I want to deal with my kids' nutrition since I've made a fairly radical change. I know that taking a dictatorial stance with the kids won't work, especially since this is a two-house household; I'm afraid that if they don't like the vegetarian food at Mommy's house, they'll go overboard with meat, dairy or other forbidden indulgences elsewhere. Even adults don't make good food choices when they're ravenous, you can hardly expect better from kids! I want to do right by my kids because the eating habits we have when we are kids set the stage for the rest of our lives.

Believe me, I am no food-saint. There have been plenty of times when I didn't feel like cooking anything elaborate and just whipped out a box of mac and cheese and threw some frozen green vegetables in it, added a cup of fruit salad as a side and called it a meal. I have also fallen prey to the Perdue dinosaur nuggets as a main course. No more. The best I can do is give them the most wholesome food that I can.

The other day Kid#2 came home from school early because her stomach was hurting. She told me that she didn't feel nauseous, but the nurse thought it best to send her home anyway. Now, this kid is more of a puker than her sister. She's a huge milk drinker and tends to be more of a grazer, eating small meals, but quite often. I decided to reduce the amount of milk she drinks to see if her stomach issues would improve. She really does not like water, and I don't want to give her a ton of juice, which is basically sugar. I thought about having her try my soy milk.

As with many things when attempting to introduce new things to kids, a lot of it is in the presentation. I asked her if she wanted to try my "vanilla milk."

"It tastes sort of like a milkshake," I told her, offering her a sip. She screwed up her face and shrunk away until finally, she sniffed. Then again. Next, a tentative sip. Her eyes flew open and she gulped it down.

"Mommy this. Is. SO. De-LI-cious!"

Score one for mom. Now both girls are glugging down Silk Very Vanilla soy milk.

Not to be outdone by her younger sister, Kid#1 has decided to give new things a try. The other day she asked me about my vegetarian diet, why I'm doing it and what I get to eat, especially since I don't eat cheese anymore (that was damned-near unfathomable to her). I mentioned that I'd had an awesome carrot salad for lunch. She perked up her ears at that and asked me what was in it. After I'd rattled off the ingredients, she thought for a second and said, "I think I want to try that. Can you make it for me?"

Color me shocked, but I'm not going to waste time over-analyzing it when this opportunity for my kid to eat better has presented itself.

Here is the kid-approved recipe. Enjoy!

Sweet and Spicy Carrot salad


  • 2 teaspoons ground flax seeds*
  • 2 tablespoons hot water*
  • juice of ½ lime
  • minced, fresh ginger
  • agave nectar**
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika***
  • dash of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • mandarin orange segments
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, whole or chopped****


  1. Put the ground flax seeds in a small bowl and add the hot water. Stir and allow to sit 10 minutes until thickened.
  2. Add lime juice, ginger, agave nectar, smoked paprika, cumin and s&p. Taste and adjust seasoning
  3. Put the grated carrots in a bowl.
  4. Add the dressing and mix well.
  5. Fold in the mandarin oranges and walnuts.
  6. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

* The flax seeds and water are optional. I first made this dressing without the flax as a thickener.

**You can use honey in place of the agave.

***To accommodate my kids' palates, I reduced the smoked paprika, since it's got some kick to it and my kids aren't as enamored with spicy food as I am. You can substitute sweet Hungarian paprika.

****Any nuts will do. Slivered almonds and sunflower seeds also go well with this.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

40 Year-old Vegan

22 years ago I became a Vegan briefly.

Since that time I have run the gamut of diets and eating philosophies: low-carb, high-protein, like South Beach; low-fat, high carb, like the Ornish plan; full-fledged, indiscriminate omnivore like most people, but I've always come back to thinking about Vegetarian/Veganism.

Recently I've been feeling fatigued and cold all the time, have had problems with hair breakage and unexplained weight gain. I thought for sure that it was my thyroid, I mean seriously, I had 12 of the 14 major symptoms listed for hypothyroidism, so I scheduled an appointment to see my doctor for my yearly physical. Many blood tests and one eye-popping step on the scale later, we found that my thyroid was not the culprit, but that my cholesterol and other results were really quite good.

The verdict: I'm a lazy-ass. Gee, no kidding!

I resolved to start exercising, perhaps to take up morning yoga again. I also thought that this might be a good chance to drop the meat and dairy from my diet. When I'd adopted a vegetarian diet way back when I was 18, I lost a ton of weight fairly quickly. Unfortunately, I had not read a lot about how to maintain a vegan diet in a healthy way, and was unable to sustain it.

I've read a lot more since then, and with the powerful search tool of the internet handy, finding new recipes to test and like-minded people for support is easier than it ever was. As always, I plan on blogging about it. I'll post the new recipes that I find that are particularly appealing, plus my adaptations of old favorites.

Here's to my journey. :)

40 Year-old Vegan

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dessert Pizza

At our house, we like all things pizza. We had a dinnertime play-date once with some friends and their two boys. On the menu, several homemade gourmet pizzas, including this kid-approved dessert pizza.

This is an easy, kid-friendly recipe, as much fun to make as it is to eat.

Dessert Pizza

  • sugar cookie dough, store-bought or made from scratch
  • whipped cream
  • fresh fruit
  • candy

  1. Spray a 10-inch round pizza pan lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Pat out the sugar cookie dough to fit the pan.
  3. Bake at 350° for 16 -20 minutes until slightly golden on the edges
  4. Take it out and let it cool in the pan for at least an hour.
  5. Top with whipped cream. If you make it yourself you can experiment flavoring it with different kinds of extracts. I like coconut extract.
  6. Let the kids then top it with pieces of candy or fruit. My kids like maraschino cherries, mandarin orange segments, slices of banana and shredded coconut
  7. Eat and enjoy! Refrigerate any leftovers there might be and enjoy them for breakfast the next day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cooking with Kids

How many of you have attempted this? As you may know from previous blog entries (More Homemade Takeout, and Toddler Nutrition, or How I Learned That Toddlers Can Survive for a Week on String Cheese and Grapes), I have begun to muzzle my kitchen control-freak and give the kids a chance at food preparation. So far, we've stuck to making personal pizzas on Friday night Pizza Night, pre-party mandu preparation, and letting Natalie make the occasional grilled cheese sandwich, although, trust me, I'm always hovering nearby with the fire extinguisher.

Last weekend I made two baguettes of French bread. I was in a hurry, so instead of kneading the dough by hand, I used my bread machine (a Zojirushi, the only one I will ever use again). It occurred to me that the next time I make bread when the girls are hanging around, I could let them have a whack at kneading the dough. As anger-management techniques go, you could do a lot worse. Plus, it's just plain fun!

In the meantime, I am thinking about something simpler, like making cookies with the girls soon. I mean, what kid (or mom) doesn't like cookies, right? I received The Cookie Book from my uncle for Christmas one year, and still refer to it for their butter cookies and snickerdoodles recipes. More importantly, it is written for kids, providing careful explanations of kitchen terms and items. It's out of print, but worth the trouble of searching used bookstores.

Another great book for bringing kids into the kitchen as active participants is Ready, Steady, Spaghetti. One reviewer writes:

"Ready, Steady Spaghetti is a charming and effervescent book, one that makes you want to bring a child into the kitchen and start cooking. Effervescence does not overwhelm usefulness, but adds to it, and the book will produce smiles when open to a recipe in the making, or when the recipe result is on the table. As the title indicates, the book is for kids in its selection of recipes that appeal to the younger set, and with kids in the clarity and simplicity of the written recipes. The book abounds in photographs that are so joyful that the adult will find that cooking with kids of any age is a form of entertainment, while youngsters will be inspired to copy dishes that are artistic in their presentation. Appealing to both the eye and the taste buds, a happy time in the kitchen is guaranteed. Not only a time for fun, coking together is also a time for bonding. If you don't have a young child at home, find one to borrow, and have a cooking party." - From

What a great review! Interested? Check out this blog for your chance to win a copy.

Now as for me, the cookies are calling, begging to be baked.

Lucy the Great

Attitude. Ah yes, 'tude raises its ugly head. You may think that I am speaking of my older daughter, and while it's true that she's beginning to display some "tweenishness," I'm actually referring to the younger daughter.

Not long ago, on a sick-day, we had a few memorable exchanges. I'd spent the morning running around fetching things for the poor invalid lying on the couch, when finally, after she'd delivered another imperious command for her drink, I asked her, "How old are you anyway?"

"6" she replied.

"Really?" I asked her, "Are you sure?"

"Yes," she said. "Now where's my drink?"

The little wretch did everything but snap her little fingers at me; I swear, the kid is a like a Catherine the Great in miniature. Just as she finished slurping her milk through three curly straws, she threw off the covers, stalked to the kitchen to put the empty glass in the sink, when she said, "Hungry! I'm hungry!"

She stood in the middle of the kitchen, arms crossed, tiny foot tapping, shimmying her shoulders slightly, giving me that, "Oh yeah, whatchoo-gonna-do-about-it, Lady" look. I stared her down with "the Look," known to moms and dads everywhere. She broke eye contact, giggled, and then with a sweeping gesture, pirouetted and frolicked. Yes, frolicked.

Amazed, I watched her dance around the kitchen before I snapped, "For a sick little girl, you sure aren't acting very sick! You are never staying home from school again!"

She stopped short, gave me a stricken look and promptly burst into tears before running back to the living room to hide under blankets on the couch. Way to go, Mommy.


I'm not sure I'll be able to stay sane once the two girls hit their teens. That remote convent in the Swiss Alps is looking better all the time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Drive Around the Block, Mommy!

That's what Kid #2 said to me on the way home from school today as we approached the driveway. "The Logical Song," that Supertramp golden-oldie had just come on the radio, and the kid was bouncing around in her booster seat. You know the song. Go ahead and click. I'll be waiting.

See? You know that song. So back to my story: I did what I often do, turned off the blinker, turned up the volume and cruised on through the light.

Thank God my kids have good taste* in music. No Jonas brothers for them; they are more likely to ask me to turn it up and drive around the block when something by Queen, AC/DC or The Cars comes on the radio.

Those 5-hour road trips to visit my parents can be fun listening to the tunes on the various classic rock stations within listening distance of I-90. I am limited to the radio because my car still has the standard tape deck-AM/FM radio - cheap speakers it did the day it was born at the Subaru factory way back when. I've just never gotten around to buying a cd player, and you can forget a dvd player with which to bribe lull the girls into behaving on long trips. They can read, listen to my music or play their Nintendos. If they insist on something else, they can play their own cds on their little personal cd players.

See? It works out perfectly for everyone. Thankfully, they still think that their mom has awesome taste in music.

*Good taste in music is subjective, I know, but I will never consider boy bands as good.

Through Our Kids' Eyes

This meme passed through my friends' Facebook pages not long ago. Amusing and heart-warming, it was fun for all three of us - the girls loved being interviewed. It's always interesting to hear what they think.

The Interview

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Lucy: "NO."

No hesitation there.

Natalie: "NOOOOO."


2. What makes mom happy?
Lucy: "Hugs, squeezes and kisses from your babies."

Aww, she's right!

Natalie: "When we hug and kiss you and you think of us as babies. and when we enjoy your food and when we sleep with you."

Actually the middle of the night "I have to sleep with Mommy because I saw a teeny spider" sessions are getting old. Otherwise she's right on.

3. What makes mom sad?
Lucy: "When we don't listen to her."

Yeah, "mad," "sad," sure. Just not "glad."

Natalie: "When she thinks of us when we're away."

True. I miss them when they're at their dad's even though it's just down the road. Literally.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Lucy "She does silly things and she makes silly jokes and she's silly."

I guess I'm silly.

Natalie: "By fooling around, like singing the "Bad Baby" song."

When Natalie was a baby I took the Bad Boys song from Cops and changed it to:

Bad Baby, Bad Baby, whatcha gonna dooooo, whatcha gonna do with a diaper full of poo.."
So I guess they both think I'm goofy.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Lucy: "She was good and nice and cute."

Not to hear my parents talk about me. They say I was a holy terror.

Natalie: "I don't know."

There ya go. No speculation.

6. How old is your mom?
Lucy: "44?"


Natalie: "40. She's turning 41. She's old."

Gee thanks, kid. She's right, of course.

7. How tall is your mom?
Lucy: "I don't know, um... all the way up here? Um 6'2"?"

WTH? I'm 5'2 1/2" lol

Natalie: "I'm guessing around 5'7".


8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Lucy: "Play on the computer and play games with her children and help them solve their problem."

Sure. I'll buy that, as long as the "problem" doesn't involve spiders.

Natalie: "Draw and spend time with us."


9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Lucy: "Read books, go on computer and takes a nap."

How'd she know?!

Natalie: "I don't really know."

She can be quite a literalist.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Lucy: "To paint."

Awww, thanks sweetie!

Natalie: "Your drawing and being the best mommy ever and having the biggest eyes ever."

It's nice that they like my art. :)

11. What is your mom really good at?
Lucy: "Painting."


Natalie: "Drawing and spending time with us."

I think that they are my biggest fans.

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Lucy: "Explaining things. like Indiana Jones."

I have no idea what she meant, but it was funny!Maybe she meant "exploring."

Natalie: "Being stupid."

What a glowing endorsement. :)

13. What does your mom do for a job?
Lucy:"Works on the computer."

It seems that way sometimes.

Natalie: "You don't have a job, but you used to."

The Literalist strikes again! Apparently neither of them see mothering as a job.

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
Lucy: "Chicken."

No, but that's ok.

Natalie: "Is it Mexican food? Mexican and Chinese."


15. What makes you proud of your mom?
Lucy: "Making dinner."

Hmmm, I guess she's hungry...

Natalie: "You being my Mommy."


16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Lucy: "Squidward!"


Natalie: "You wouldn't really be a cartoon character, because I don't know any that are like you."

Yeah, I guess I am one-of-a-kind.

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Lucy: "We paint together."

We need to do more of that. :)

Natalie: "Watch a movie, sometimes doing clay and sometimes drawing."


18. How are you and your mom the same?
Lucy: "We're both white."

True. We're also both multi-cellular, carbon-based life forms.

Natalie: "It's very obvious. Everything except the glasses. And the wrinkles."

It's true. She is my Mini-me. Oh, but I do NOT have wrinkles!

19. How are you and your mom different?
Lucy:"Because you have glasses on."


Natalie: "The glasses and the wrinkles and sometimes the personalities."


20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Lucy:"Because you always say that."

I do tell them that a lot.

Natalie: "Because you always say it and you're my mommy."


21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Lucy: "Alaska."

It's nice, sure.

Natalie: "Alaska!"

I guess they think I really like Alaska!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

“The Rule of Sibs: If your sibling gets something you want, you (1) try to take it; (2) break it; or (3) say it's no good”
-Patricia Fleming

I first wrote about sibling rivalry back in March, 1997:

"I can't understand how it is that a 4 year-old and an almost-8 year-old can have so much in common that their main form of communication is arguing over every last detail of what they're going to play, how they will do it, who will eat what, who drinks what etc." - "Sisterhood, Ain't it Grand?"

And lo, not much has changed in the intervening two years.

Just yesterday when I was chatting with my sister on the phone, she said pretty much exactly the same thing, wondering why, with the age difference being what it was, my two girls continue to fight like cats and dogs. They couldn't even call a truce for Mother's Day, for God's sake!

They fight over toys, who owns what, which identical toy horse is whose, and even who used to own what and who has primacy over an object. We've recycled toys, giving Natalie's baby and toddler toys to her little sister as she outgrew them and got Big-Girl toys, yet still pangs of possessiveness flare up.

"Hey, that's mine! I now I haven't played with Tickle-Me-Elmo in like 7 years, but still... that's mine!"

It's not even the bickering over stuff or the ever-popular, "Mom, she's looking at me!" "Yeah? Well, she's breathing near me!" that get to me, though they allot plenty of time for all of that, but it is the intentional pressing of each other's buttons that drives me nuts.

Both girls are guilty of this, but Natalie is just a bit more devoted to it than her sister is. She will do some tiny thing guaranteed to make her sister scream, howl or whine and then go off to her room, cackling about it. When ordered to apologize to her sister, she rattles off some lame "OhI'msosorryLucy" which just oozes insincerity.


I polled people informally about this just the other day and was assured that even though they used to fight with their sibs when they were younger, eventually they grew out of it and became friends.

I remain unconvinced for now.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Some Mother's Day Sweetness.

My older daughter made this for me.

Go grab some insulin, you may need it to counteract the pure sweetness.

"Mommy, you are the BEST Mommy ever!
Others are nice, but you'er the BEST!
Mommies are warmhearted,
Mommies are warmspirited as well,

I may actually be doing something right with these kids.

That is good to know.

Happy Mother's Day, and let's remember to appreciate all the Mommies out there.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's amazing the things you'll find when you're de-cluttering.

I've been on a de-cluttering and organizing kick lately. Just the other day, in fact, I loaded my copy of Quicken and spent a good two days entering in all the data from three years' worth of bank statements and checkbook register notes. Sometimes it pays off to be a pack-rat. Oh yes, it's been a little bit crazy here Chez Babs.

It all started last week when, for some reason, after I finished watching Slumdog Millionaire I leaped off the couch (literally, I actually did jump up) and marched over to my little studio downstairs which has been virtually unusable since in an effort to keep the living room habitable, I have just been tossing the kids' junk in there and slamming the doors shut. "Out of sight out of mind," right? But really, by doing that, I have basically been punishing myself because I couldn't even use my special studio space to make art whenever inspiration struck me.

So, I got up, dragged all the stuff out, sorted it into big piles of things to toss, things to recycle, and things to keep. I then did a mini-reorganization of the stuff in the studio so that my work table is usable. Now, just imagine, I have quick access to art supplies. Brilliant, I know.

In my de-cluttering frenzy, I found many, many pages of the girls' school assignments. These included, as always, a fine collection of paper-plate and brown paper bag art endemic to our education system (see right for the latest example from Lucy); the crowning glory was an old assignment of Natalie's from last fall in which she had to describe her family.

Natalie is a very funny kid. She's quick-witted, lively, and quite often, very silly. She is also right on the cusp of beginning to get sarcasm and irony. I have high hopes for her maintaining a sense of humor. I remember hearing her giggling when she'd been writing this assignment, and when she'd finished, I asked her what had been so funny. She ran over to me and gave it to me with that mischievous Natalie-gleam in her eye. I sat on the couch, read it aloud and started giggling myself. Soon, all three of us were laughing, and once we'd stopped, one or another of us would get going again.

That's a good memory.

About My Family

My dad is a guitarist and a sociologist. He's 43 years old.

My mom is america's best drawer! She's 40 years old.

My brother sadly he's dead. I think he's 7 years old.

I have a tabby cat named Cheetah. I think he's either 6 or 7.

I have a pesky little sister. She's 5.  She's truning 6 in December.

I'm 6th out of my family.

Heres good things about Natalie's family.

Its a good thing I have a pet.

Its a good thing I have a sister so if I'm in trouble I can blame  her.

Its a good thing I have parents because - well they do lots of stuff.

Its a good thing my dad is a sociologist because he makes money so we can by food.

Mommy is amaricas best browny baker!

I left the spelling and punctuation errors in for authenticity, although I am tempted to see if there's a version of Eats, Shoots and Leaves for kids.

Have a great day, everyone.