Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Life is Short. Eat the Lasagna.

Back in the day, way back when I met The Scientist, he was a vegan. For those who aren't sure, vegan is a diet that restricts any animal products of any kind. None of the no-brainers, like chicken, beef, fish, pork or seafood of any kind. No dairy at all, including milk, eggs and caseine, which, as I discovered, is found in dang near everything. No honey. The list continues.

Since my mother prefers to eat mostly vegetarian, I had some tricks up my sleeve and quickly fixed the problem that was his 130 lb. frame. I combed recipe books and health food stores for vegan recipes and products that would allow me to adapt recipes to be vegan. He quickly stopped looking like a refugee, was introduced to tofu, and stopped considering french fries and Biggie Cokes two of the basic food groups. I cooked "normal" meals but adapted some of the dish for him. Leave out the cheese, do a mushroom burger instead of a hamburger, etc. I got very used to it.

To jump ahead about 6 years, it turns out that if you eat this way for enough years and pay absolutely no attention to taking a daily vitamin, you can (will?) develop some vitamin deficiencies. Like B-12. Apparently, not having enough of it makes you feel like crap. Enter weekly B-12 injections and hello scrambled eggs. I didn't know what to do with myself once I didn't have to cook one meal and then modify it for him. I would have done it forever because I respected his reasons for eating this way, but boy howdy was I happy when he stopped.

During the time that he WAS vegan, my sister and I had many discussions about how...unique (for lack of a better term) most vegan recipes were. We started compiling recipes we'd created ourselves that resembled "real" food. We dreamed of publishing a cookbook of vegan comfort foods that were different from the other books out there. In other words, a book filled with recipes that didn't mostly taste like crap. We would sometimes pour over vegan cookbooks with the express purpose of howling with laughter at some of the recipe titles. Who the heck would possibly eat that?! Certainly not my vegan (who is actually a meat-and-potatoes sort of boy at heart).

Recently, and in an effort to introduce some new and healthier dishes into our now completely non-vegan diet (although he still doesn't eat the Big Three - pork, chicken and beef), I checked out a vegan cookbook from the library. It was sort of for old-times sake. It ended up being comic relief.

Here are some of the recipe titles:

Ginger-Lime Tofu "Cream" (really? I think any recipe that has to put the word "cream" in quotation marks is something I want no part of)

Tofu Tamale Pie (I couldn't make that up, could I?)

Curried Chickpea Tart with Fennel-Cauliflower Sauce

Shepherd's Pie (Just like the classic, except with zucchini substituted for the usual yummo seasoned meat. So, it's just like the original, except... not.)

Tofu-Leek Tart with Pine Nut Crust (what is it with messing up the tarts?)

Hijiki "Caviar" (you're confused. I can tell. Turns out that hijiki is a "thin, black twiglike sea vegetable." You are supposed to mix it with sake, shoyu (who knows what the heck that is), sesame oil and garlic and presto-chango, you've got a great substitute for Beluga on your hands. Riiiiiiggghhhht...)

Summer Lasagna with Tofu, Capers and Walnuts (Clemsongirl's Coach would consider this heresy)

Hominy, Tomatillo and Squash Stew

I'm returning the book and checking out the Paula Dean cookbook instead. Life is too short to eat fake lasagna.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Conversation tonight with Two Fish:

TF: Ew. Are we having THAT for dinner. I don't like red beans and rice!

Me: Well...sorry.

TF: Do I have to eat it? Daddy doesn't like it either!

Me: Well, he's not here and I'm not making anything else. Besides, your daddy was born in SC. He doesn't have to like red beans and rice, only shrimp and grits and Frogmore stew. You were born in MS, so you do. If they hear you say you don't like red beans and rice, they're likely to revoke your birth certificate. So, you just watch it mister...

Me? I scarf them both down. Especially if I'm not the one who originally made them. Which I did not tonight. So, d-lish-us.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I have blogged before about young women's body image issues and how those changed for me as I got older. But, during a discussion with a friend the other day, we agreed that we didn't know a single solitary woman who didn't have some sort of issue with her body. Either in the form of food "issues" or body image "issues" or some sort of obsessive combo of both. We didn't know a single one.

We agreed that our issues had changed as we got older and mine have certainly lessened. Due in no small part, I'm sure, to having a husband who loves every inch of this somewhat...ummm..."softer" version of the woman he married and to having three children who were born from this body and seem to have turned out pretty spectacularly for it. But, really? Do you know a single woman who has not a care in the world when it comes to food or her body? We also discussed how hard we try to emphasize strength and inner beauty to our daughters. I have never referred to myself as "fat" or "big" when there is any chance of my children hearing it. When they ask me why I exercise or make a particularly healthy food choice, I always say that it is because I want to be stronger. Or less tired. Or have more energy. Never that I want to lose weight. I have a daughter who is influenced by her peers and is involved in competitive gymnastics. The last thing we need to start around here is an emphasis on body weight or size.

For my Mother's Day Sunday School lesson, I had the children make cards for their mother and fill in blanks to finish sentences. My mom makes the best______. I love it when my mom________. Some of them were hilarious! My mom has the prettiest_______. One little girl wrote "children." I love it when my mom wears _______. One little boy wrote "pajamas." Another little boy wrote that his mom "has the" He has obviously been trained well.

But the best one for me was One Fish's for "My mom has the prettiest..." She wrote, "body."

I got all teary. I choked up. I reported it to all my friends.

I haven't worked up the courage to ask her what she meant yet, and I probably won't. Because she might say that she meant that she loves my...arms. Or the way my rings look on my fingers. Or how I look in high heels (which she loves me to wear and which I hate). I am choosing to believe that she meant that I am her mom and because of that, she loves how I look and that she thinks it's just perfect. Soft size 12 and all.

And since I am convinced that she is one of the three most fascinating, brilliant, beautiful, impressive people to ever walk the earth, perhaps it would behoove me to sit up and pay attention when she passes judgement on something that she might actually know something about.

And I will start paying attention. And trying to see myself more as she does than how I do. I figure I only have about four or five more years before even my little toenail offends her, so I should probably start now. Or maybe right after bathing suit season...

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's On... Like Donkey Kong

Let's see. What have I done today?

Went to Sams, made food for supper swap, did 12,000 loads of laundry, vacuumed the garden, returned a few phone calls...

What's that? You don't know what vacuuming the garden is?

This, dear readers, is what one does when one slaves and obsesses over tomato plants, only to have all Roma fruits and an increasing number of grape tomato fruits "rot" and look all soft and gross before they completely ripen. After one finds out that this is because of a stink bug infestation, one usually does the required research to discover that the methods of dealing with these demons of the insect world are: 1) Sevin dust 2) hand picking off and then squishing by hand and 3) vacuuming off the plants.

There are also some organic products out there, which, according to online reviews, work about as well as spritzing them with water. Sevin dust would certainly get rid of them, but we might all die in the process. Seems a little extreme for some tomatoes. And I am all about killing these things, but squishing them between my organic fingers seems a little...earthy...for me. So, vroom, freakin' vroom. The wet/dry vac has been parked outside by my plot all day. I periodically go outside and do a little shake down (literally) and up they go. I'll leave the fun of emptying the cannister to The Scientist. No sense leaving him completely out of the extermination fun.

I will win this. I may secure my place as the neighborhood crazy lady. But, I will win.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

James Bond Would Be So Proud

Yesterday was an exhausting day for the boys. We had multiple playdates over here, which involved lots of racing through the house shouting things like, "Go to the front yard! I'll meet you in your laboratory by the tree!" and, "Quick! Here she comes! Go to the Super Secret Spy Hideout!" Red Fish was busy all afternoon just toddling after them and being entertained by big boy antics. Which can be exhausting. I should know.

This morning, both boys slept waaay late. Which meant that they slept past 6:30. At 7, I had to take One Fish and a neighbor child to school. Never one to wake a sleeping child, I did what any of you would do and went next door to ask the visiting aunt of said neighbor child if she would pretty, pretty please, come over and sit in my living room for five minutes. The school is literally around the corner. Bless her heart, she did. Red PJ pants, untied tennies and all, she hustled right over and camped out in my chair for the 6 minutes it took me to run them over and run back. I timed it.

When I returned, she said that "one of them" had woken up and poked his head out the door, but popped right back into his room again when he saw her. Given that Red Fish sleeps in a crib and his room wasn't visible from her chair, the "awake one" had to be Two Fish. After saying goodbye to her and thanking her for the pinch hit, I mosied on in to the bedroom to find...

Two Fish all tucked in, under his covers but fully dressed in polo shirt, shorts and shoes.


The story that comes out is this:
He poked his head out, saw that an unknown person was in his house and so ducked back into his room. The fact that she was relaxing in our living room and playing with our dogs in no way stifled his concern. He ever so quietly got himself dressed. He then opened the window in his room (we taught them to do this during fire safety week), climbed out into the backyard (the windows are very low) and ran the length of the house to the fence by our driveway. He scaled the 6 foot privacy fence and determined that my van was not in the driveway. So, as he put it, he knew "that I was gone but wouldn't do anything bad to him." He ran back to his bedroom (while unsuspecting neighbor aunt lady innocently played with my puppies a few yards away). He climbed back in the window, shut it quietly and slid back under his covers, determined to wait in silence until I returned or something else definitive happened to let him know what was going on. His room door was slightly cracked the whole time.

I returned moments later.

Does the CIA have an early admission program?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Livin' On The Edge

Here's what I did today.

Got up and got One Fish out the door and then got about the business of getting myself ready to take Two Fish to school and Red Fish and myself to a PTO breakfast dealy. With The Scientist out of town (does he exist in any other state of being?), morning child-care is scarce (read: nonexistent). This required a shower and something other than running pants and a t-shirt. It required grown-up clothes. The kind that, when put together, look like "an outfit." Preferably with accessories and cute shoes.

Once the shower was completed, the hair dried, and make-up on (these were easy parts), it dawned on me that I had the perfect pair of pants (white cotton capris from Banana Republic, hereafter referred to as BR). Love them. Notsomuch the shirt. Exibit A was a multicolored striped v-neck sleeveless sweater that I think used to have a cardigan to go with it. Exibit B was a patterned sleeveless v-neck shirt from Target. A little, uhhh, low-cut. Exibit C was a turtleneck (you did read that correctly) seagreen sleeveless sweater, again from BR.

After trying each one on, I discovered/realized that: Exibit A was purchased 7 years ago when I was still teaching and was a good 20 lbs. lighter. Which would explain why it didn't look nearly as cute as I remembered. Exibit B was indeed the shirt that The Scientist has reminded me repeatedly (and I seem to forget) introduces everyone I meet to...uh...The Twins any time I bend at the waist. Exibit C...well, Exibit C is a turtleneck sleeveless sweater and that's probably all that needs to be said about that, considering that it was purchased when my sister still lived in NYC, which was three jobs, a marriage and two children ago. I stopped shopping for myself when Two Fish was born. Before that, I had a job and a career and a daycare to watch One Fish if I wanted to stop at the mall on my way home. That all ended with our decision for me to stay at home and anything dry-clean only got shoved to the back of the closet and eventually out the door. Now, I purchase on the fly without trying on and don't do it nearly often enough.

Solution: Throw on the only new thing in my closet in the past umpteen months, Exibit D, a pink and white striped baby doll shirt, some flip flops (they were cute at least), and some silver accessories. Cut out of the PTO dealy ASAP. Mentally cancel the scheduled cleaning day at The Fish Tank (time enough for that tomorrow after I no longer look like a homeless person from 1998). Get to the outlet mall just after opening (I am nothing if not a woman of action) and resolved not to leave until this unfortunate fashion situation that I seemed to have gotten myself into was resolved.

Three hours and trips to Ann Taylor, BR, Gap, and J.Crew later, I seemed to have things much more under control. I will publish no dollar signs and I looked at no pricetags. We'll just suffice it to say that we live on an outlet mall budget (if not the Walmart clothing aisle at times), but I am lucky to have a husband who breathes a sigh of relief when I purchase something for myself. A sad state of affairs, to be sure, when your husband begs you to get some new things.

Collect all Fishies after school. Head to gymnastics for what felt like 17 hours. Mentally cancel the scheduled dinner at The Fish Tank. Take the children out to eat for the second night in a row and in doing, break a cardinal Absent Scientist house rule. I don't dine out with them when I'm solo. Except today. And yesterday.

The poor Scientist is going to come home to a woman he doesn't recognize. I'm living on the edge...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Who Could Have Guessed?

For inquiring minds, I didn't win squat at the party yesterday. Although the horse I picked probably had as good a shot going in as Mine That Bird. I picked Advice. The others in my family all picked other names and One Fish and The Scientist even looked at the odds before placing their bets. Wusses.

None of us won a single solitary thing. But, I did have a few bourbon slushes and got to hang out with friends while The Scientist drank beer kept a loose watch over the Fishies. Satisfaction all around.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bourbon for my Horses (but only the ones with the cool names)

Activities in the fish tank today include, some mild straightening, a nap for me (can I get an "Amen?"), and a Derby party. The last part is fun because it required a wardrobe purchase (straw hat) and just saying that we are headed for a Derby party makes me feel as though I have a glamorous life. Who cares how much evidence is to the contrary...

I'm headed out now to get some cash and go shoe shopping with One Fish (can I get another "Amen!"). Needing the cash because I am assuming there will be activities requiring cash and gambling at this shindig. I will pick horses the same way I pick wine: based solely on who has the coolest name. Amen.