Friday, March 15, 2013

Sitting Shiva

Or in my barrio we say "sitting Chivas". Olé!

This friday evening, can we just take a moment of silence to mourn the fact that this still exists:

But this does not:


Monday, March 11, 2013

In my continued effort to dress myself down for being a human being...Family Dinner

I'm not alone in wanting more family dinners with my kids right? I mean, I'm not alone in being guilty of making separate meals for them and allowing them to eat them at the coffee table in the living room while watching a movie, so that we can eat like civilized people at 8 after they've gone to bed. It's not like they want what we're having anyway. And it's not like these bills, laundry, school lunches, emails, and stinky bathrooms are going to take care of themselves. We DO sit down for family dinner several nights a week, but I find that it requires so much effort on my part, that most nights, though I know the benefits, and enjoy it immensely in the moment, it just doesn't happen.

Family dinner requires thinking ahead so that there are the proper ingredients to make a meal that your whole family will eat. A meal that your whole family will eat. I've already lost myself, and I'm guessing a lot of you.

In our house, we have me, who likes:
 tacos, indian food, pizza, thai noodles sushi, cheese plates, pancakes, nuts in everything, and wine

Nipper Knapp who likes:
sushi, salmon, cheeseburgers, indian food, pizza, pancakes, is allergic to nuts, and IPA

Jack who likes:
quesadillas, toast, fruit, pizza, chicken nuggets, pancakes, and goldfish crackers

Charlie who likes:
Oatmeal, turkey meatballs, scrambled eggs, pancakes, pizza, and all fruit.

Please note neither of my children will eat pasta or soup or vegetables. LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH. If someone comments and tells me to melt cheese on broccoli, I can't promise I won't wreck the place.

The boys and I out for pancakes last week. Out for pancakes because our kitchen had no bacon. 

You see where this is going right? If we could all live on pizza and pancakes we would. Actually some weeks we do. Thank god for Nipper and his green smoothies (me=hypocrite I KNOW) or none of us would ever poop ever.

Yesterday at Trader Joes, I found myself with a shopping cart filled with snacks and wine. No real ingredients for meals. $176 of NOT food. It's not all junk, I count fruit and yogurt, and the stuff for smoothies as a snack, but still, nothing to make a meal. A friend told me she grocery shops once a week. ONCE. Huh? One of us goes almost every day. I was freaking out about this the other day, and Nipper Knapp said "meh, it's very French to shop every day". Uhm, yeah, if I was riding my bicyclette to the boulangerie maybe. But I'm driving le prius to Trader Joes every day for stuff like apple crushers and ouefs. Merde.

I can't lie, I was never a foodie. I didn't scour the local farmers market looking for escarole (which I still not sure is a fish or a lettuce). I was never able to whip together gourmet meals from what was in the kitchen. But I did enjoy food of all kinds, and I enjoyed trying new recipes. I miss Thai food. I miss curry. I miss tapas night with garlic, and stinky cheese. There used to be some variety in our diet, and there used to be some adventure. There used to be time, and mental space for thinking about food. I don't want to blame the kids. It's not their fault. It's mine, right? I could have forced them to eat the things I love. I could have left the bowl of Phat see ew in front of them at every meal until they learned to like it, but I'm not that mom. So now they eat kid food and I'm afraid they always will.

I'm always envious of people who are amazing cooks. People who's kitchens are the true center of their homes, and whose kids bok choy. I have been thinking about having a breakfast nook built in our kitchen. Kitchen renovation will solve all my problems! (that was the sound of Nipper fainting) It would give us extra kitchen storage, and a cozy place to sit, do homework, nosh. I have this fantasy of my boys sitting there reading books and coloring while I make some Barefoot Contessa style feast that they both love. We sit and we eat, and the boys say the darndest things. We laugh and carefully note them, remembering to write them in their baby books, so we can all laugh about them later. When I confessed this daydream to another mom recently, she replied laughingly "oh I know, it's all so Leave it to Beaver!"

But is it? Is it an absurd and outdated notion that I want to enjoy food with my family, to teach them to enjoy each others company? Is it really all just going to be meals on the go, and faces in screens? I know, I'm starting to sound like such a MOM, and one of those whoowhoo people that want to touch your chakras, but dudes. My boys are still so little and it's only going to go faster. Soon they'll want to have dinner at a friends house, or in their room, or none at all because they have after-school activities, or are fasting for political prisoners somewhere (I have high hopes for their evolution). So I've got to get to it now.
one sausage, one veg, and one everything for us! 

Last week I had to make 2 pans of lasagna for the teachers at Jack's school. Only because I had volunteered for this, did I make one for us as well. I knew the kids wouldn't eat it, but if I was going to be in the kitchen, why not cook for us as well. This is part of the bad thinking that gets me into trouble. Why am I willing to cook for guests, but not for myself and my kids? Nipper Knapp and I got three dinners out of that lasagna, and even though they ate something else, 2 out of those 3 were attended by both kids. We laughed, told stories, played a round of "what is Charlie doing" wherein we all do exactly what Charlie is doing. It was mom heaven. And it doesn't happen enough.

I must find a way to make our brains think 7 days out, and force myself to cook a meal, and have them help, when what we want to do is anything but, because we are exhausted. I have to force myself to not be paralyzed by lack of will, fear of ingredients (is this the thing that will be on the list of things that will kill us all this week, and if so should I just feed everyone more goldfish, which will obviously kill us all), and the inevitable bad dinner, where it doesn't go over, and everyone is cranky, and no one sits for more than a minute.

And I have to remember that there's nothing wrong with all of this failing from time to time. Because frankly sometimes Mama wants to eat a bag of goldfish with a glass of wine in front of the tv instead of the organic quinoa and brussels sprouts feast that I sprang on them last week.

Is anyone out there feeling my pain? Or do the rest of you have a live in chef? You do. I knew it. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

mix mix mix

Every night Nipper Knapp makes a smoothie. Every night. Am I opposed to this? No. Do I have a problem with kale, or berries, or the intermingling of soy milk, and frozen peaches? NO. I don't. Don't I want him to be healthy? Don't I want him to live FOREVER?! YES! YES I DO!

But something happened. I dunno when. I can't pinpoint the day. Don't know the last time I was able to tune out the once gentle whir of the blender. The last time, I didn't mind pausing The Daily Show, not once but 3-4 times, so the smoothie would be just right. The day it felt personal. One day, I realized that every time he said "you want a smoothie?" I started silently planning ways to destroy him. At first it was just a chin tuck and an eye roll from the other room. "No thank you". But at some point I became openly hostile. It was volcanic. Not explosive, just the rushing hot magma of marital contempt. "Smoothies?" he would text innocently from Jack's room after he heard me leave Charlie's bedroom to go downstairs. "I'm having wine" I'd write back, but I might as well have said "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO CRUSH MY SOUL, AND WHY CAN'T WE JUST RUN FREE LIKE WILD PALOMINOS?!" And then imagine me on the stairs doing an elaborate full body, arms raised, "why god why" move. Nipper Knapp would call this a spastic seizure. I call it a tiny fissure.

I don't know much. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there's a chronic leak in the portion of my brain that once held important facts. Stuff like, the inner workings of a bicameral legislature, and how to fix my hair like I did the summer after college. But here's the thing about marriage. It's a marathon, blah blah blah. If you are a trained runner, someone who wants to be in the race, it's not the distance that kills you, it's the tiny blister left untended, or the unusually high temperature with not enough water, or some other banal detail, that can be your undoing. "We could have kept going, but for those fucking smoothies". Right.

One day, after much sighing (me) and much apologizing, and I'm sure eye rolling (Nipper Knapp), we both realized it is a stupid problem, and said it out loud. "You hate my smoothies." he laughed. "I hate the sound." And we came up with a solution. And this my friends is how two people grow old and completely the same kind of crazy together.

Poor Nipper Knapp, look at this face. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Twinkle Mouth

Our dear friends, and old neighbors are in a band. It's an 80's band, and it's awesome. If they ever come to your town, I demand you put on your Frankie Goes to Hollywood tee and go see them. Great show. When we were in SF over the holidays visiting them, they had just gotten these cards printed, so I took one to put on our fridge at home. 

Tonight Jack took the card off the fridge and wrote a practice note to Santa inside. He says we have to send it to him with 2 quarters inside. I told him we don't bribe Santa, but he insisted. He drew a picture of a cookie, then a tiny pic of Santa's face.

He said "Look mom, a cookie" and then "there's Santa, twinkle mouth, sad eyes". 

"What? What does that mean"

"wait, let me draw it on the back, bigger." 

He does, and then, pointing "See? Twinkle mouth, sad eyes", and then gave me a look, like, "you get it now?" and walked away. 

Yeah yeah kid, that's right, red coat, white, beard, twinkle mouth and sad eyes. That's how Santa has been described since always.