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Parenting FAIL Friday: Too many cooks in the kitchen.

I love to cook. Usually. It gets old with minions whining about the little green things (herbs) or how the pasta tastes funny (because it isn’t elbow macaroni), but I generally like cooking. I love being adventurous. And not to brag or anything, but I’ve gotten pretty good over the years. This year’s culinary adventure was into the world of Asian food, and I’m now obsessed with Thai coconut curry.

That is irrelevant to this post, I just super love curry. Anyway. Yesterday was like New England summer (read: 50 degrees) so the girls felt that riding bikes in sun dresses and flip-flops was appropriate. Though I made them wear actual clothes, I DID wholeheartedly shoo them out the door. This left me with a rare window to prepare dinner without chaos. No one shoving me into the hot stove because it’s their turn to stir. No one sliding their finger  under my chef’s knife to steal a piece of pepper. Because that’s happened. Just uninterrupted cooking. Glorious.

The whole house was clean, and I REALLY didn’t want to make a mess, so the Nerd offered to help me in the kitchen because he loves me. This could be fun, I thought.

Side note: The night before, Make-A-Wish volunteers delivered our wish package, along with pizza for dinner. You’ll see why that’s important in a bit.

We started prepping the ingredients. I asked him to chop the garlic. I use LOTS of garlic. I pulled out other things, only to look over and see that he was individually peeling each clove – with his fingers. I do the smack down – literally. I smack the garlic with the flat side of my chef’s knife, and the peel virtually falls off. It’s fast. I need everything to be fast at dinner time. But he didn’t want to try that technique, so I let it go and let him peel.

Next was the onion. I showed him how to dice an onion while I prepped a pot of water on the other burner for the pasta. He did pretty well, for a first timer. Thinking he had the onions under control, I turned on the oven to pre-heat and got out the rest of the ingredients from the fridge. A few minutes later, I realize he hasn’t stirred the onions. I give them a toss just in time – caramelized, but not burned. Thank heaven. He’s now asking about slicing green onions. I give him instructions. Smush walks in and asks what’s burning.

Wait, what? Cue this scene:

Smush: Uh, what’s burning?

Nerd: Nothing.

Smush: Yes it is. I see smoke.

Me: Oh my gosh. There is smoke. Where is it coming from?

Nerd: What?

Me: The oven! The oven is on fire!

Nerd: But there’s nothing in there yet!

Me: I know! Oh God, wait. I left the pizza box in there. The pizza box is on fire! *rapidly turns off oven*

Nerd: Okay, I’m gonna open the door to let it cool off.

Me: NO!! You’ll feed it by giving the flames oxygen. It’s better to let the flames die out first, THEN open the door.

Nerd: Oh, right. Okay.

Me: *grabs fire extinguisher*

Nerd: What are you doing?

Me: Getting ready.

Nerd: Don’t use that. You won’t be able to use the oven if you spray that stuff in there.

Me: Okay, fine. But I’m ready. Just in case.

Nerd: *cracks oven door open when flames die out*

FUN FACT: The amount of smoke produced by a burning pizza box is UNREAL. Instantly the kitchen is full of smoke, and it is spreading through other rooms. The girls ran in to see the commotion.

Nerd and I: *coughing* Get out of the room! The fire is out but the smoke is dangerous! Get out of the room!

*Girls exit*

Nerd and I: *frantically opening every door and window we can find. Running around blindly because my eyes feel like someone poured acid on them and my lungs are crying.*

Nerd: I can’t see!

Me: Me either!

Nerd: Okay, I’m gonna grab the box and get it out of here. Clear a path.

Me: *moves things out of the way* Done!

Me: Thank God.

Both of us are still rubbing our eyes. I’m still coughing sporadically. We get outside to deeply inhale some fresh air. The house begins to clear up. Fans are on, windows are open, and most importantly, nothing is on fire.

Me: Where are the girls?

Nerd: Outside?

Me: They ran all the way to the church parking lot. *giggle*

In the beginning of the school year, Goo did a packet on fire safety. Part of that packet was making a fire escape plan and practicing with the family. Our plan was to meet in the church parking lot next door if, for some reason, we got separated. So at the sight of smoke, Goo made everybody run to the parking lot. At least we know she’s got a clear head in the face of emergency.

The house almost went up in flames. Again. But dinner wasn’t ruined. And I found out my kids actually remember the fire escape plan. So, umm, yay for being prepared?

You know, minus leaving the cardboard pizza box in the oven.

 

 

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Parenting FAIL Friday: I blame myself.

A lot of people would say I’m a bit of a health nut when it comes to how I feed my kids. I cook almost everything from scratch. We buy as many organic foods as I can squeeze into the grocery budget, and my girls regularly devour things like kale chips and almond meal muffins.

That being said, I am no stranger to “the treat.” Birthday, holidays, mommy-daughter dates – we splurge. I once read a post from a mom who was crazy strict about eating only whole foods for the whole family. They were allowed ONE TREAT PER YEAR. As in, you can have a donut, and then nothing else until next year. I would lose my mind, because chocolate. Anyway, she found out one of her daughter’s lunch accounts had been depleted, and upon asking for an itemized purchase history, found that her little organic angel had been buying cheese puffs and ring dings at lunch time. She was livid. I laughed. Because of course she’s gonna sneak stuff if her big birthday treat is literally one, solitary donut.

My approach to parenting is generally about balance: 90 % of the time, this is the rule. The other 10 % is for totally ignoring the rules and loving the moment. It’s the same way with what we eat.

Except that I may have undone my years of healthy-foods training.

Remember how yesterday I mentioned that I am a secret eater of dark chocolate? I think Smush may have caught on. And I think she may have thought that deep within the darkest recesses of our bedrooms is where we eat treats.

IMG_20140220_140437

See that? Smush sleeps on the bottom bunk. Those are the slats that are over her head that support the top bunk. When I was making their beds, I felt something. Something soft, but lumpy, stuck in the covers between the bunk slats.

And there I found, stuffed inside, a cupcake wrapper. A cupcake wrapper that had gone missing and once held a vanilla cupcake with strawberry buttercream. I have no one to blame but myself.

Am I worried that she’s hiding sugary treats in her bed? No. Am I worried that something might start growing if said treats are left there too long? Not really.

Am I worried that she might know about my secret dark chocolate? Terrified is more like it.

Time to move my stash.

 

 

Real food, real budget: A happy update!

Having tackled the real food ambition for a couple of weeks, I have happy, happy news:

We’re actually spending LESS than before we started this process. More fruits and veggies, far less packaged foods, and nothing processed – and our food expenses have gone down! I already threw some tips out there on how we’ve been doing it, and as the week went on, I kept thinking of more ways to cut out the junk, and pad your wallet while doing it:

English: Template for Template:Food safety

Tip: If your packaged food has more than five ingredients, skip it! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. Make it yourself. Yes, this is more time-consuming. But for about 30 minutes total of prep and cooking time, I made whole-wheat “pop tarts” with organic raspberry filling. Ingredients: whole wheat flour, butter, salt, organic raspberry preserves. The end. The girls devoured them. And I spent less for a batch that gave our family two breakfasts than I would on one batch of store-bought, chemical-laden packaged toaster pastries. I know not everyone has an extra 30 min to prep breakfast the night before. Truthfully, even as an at home mom, I usually don’t stop the cooking/cleaning/prepping until 9 or 10 at night, because I usually squeeze my work-outs in before night-time prep. For me, it’s worth it to add a little extra time, and save a whole lot of money.
  2. Kiss deli meats good-bye. Deli meat is loaded with junk: nitrates, nitrites, MSG, and the list goes on. And in these parts you’ll spend about $7.00 per pound for that stuff, $9.00-$12 per pound for the less processed brands. Or you can do this: buy a whole chicken, rinse and pat dry, season with a little salt and pepper, and roast it. Tada! You have meat for sandwiches, soups, salads, wraps, etc, and I picked one up on sale at a local no-name food store for $0.80 per lb. Granted, we can’t always do organic chicken yet, but it’s still a vast improvement over the processed deli stuff.
  3. We have saved a LOT of money since making Saturday night, crock pot night. Sundays were our biggest pitfall for eating on the go because by the time we’re done with church, the kids are starving and exhausted, and nobody wants to wait for me to cook, myself included. On Saturday night, I throw something in the crock pot – chicken, enchiladas, chili – and Sunday morning I have lunch already made. No eating out, no processed foods, and a lot less money.

To reiterate: we aren’t full-on organic. And I wouldn’t be the Mediocre Mom if I didn’t do this with a little compromise. Example: we were invited out to dinner at a local chain restaurant, and we went. Punkin and I checked out the chain’s menu and nutrition info online, and picked the healthiest option ahead of time off the kid’s menu – a grilled chicken sandwich with orange segments on the side. I opted for fajitas, and skipped two of the three flour tortillas that came with the meal, opting to stack my plate with grilled chicken and veggies, pico de gallo, guacamole, and shredded lettuce and cheese. Which is still a bangin’ meal, if you ask me. And while I’m planning on doing my best at home to keep us eating real food, it’s still okay in my book to treat yourself now and again. So no, I’m not buying deli meats, but there’s no chance I’m turning down an offer to eat out with friends or family on occasion!

And my other happy update: I have  a few friends who are already making changes to the way they eat, and the way they feed their families! Yay for eating real food on real budgets!

Also, Goo helped me make whole wheat pizza the other night. She’s pretty much the best sous chef ever. I may even get her to eat spinach one day.

Switching to real food on a real budget, the mediocre way.

So I mentioned previously that we’ve been switching our diet a bit around here, and several people requested more info. I aim to please. I can’t promise all my rants will be helpful. Mostly they’ll still be about my kids finger painting things they shouldn’t and how Goo will one day rule the world. But I can throw you a bone here and there.

I studied the effects of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) in college a little bit, and mixed with my human bio and biochemistry studies, I started to realize that a lot of food in America isn’t really…food.

Side note: it’s about to get nerdy up in here. Bear with me.

The FDA and USDA allow additives (preservatives, flavorings, etc) that are, in some cases, illegal in other countries. Because theoretically, each product contains trace amounts, so you know, no biggie. It’s a just a *little* bit of carcinogen with your morning cereal. But what happens when almost all our packaged food has that? What happens when you add up the amounts in all the food items, consumed over periods of time? Carcinogensis (the process by which cancer cells rear their ugly heads) isn’t instantaneous. It takes multiple genetic mutations to cause loss of control of the cell cycle. And things that aid in those mutations are called carcinogens. And we eat lots of them. Yay! MSG and BHT and BHA, oh my! (That link is a link to an actual research publication. It’s all science speak. So if you’re not a scientist, it won’t make sense and it will bore you to tears. But I linked up to show you that I’m not just spouting opinion based on a meme from Facebook or something.)

Here’s another issue: hormones. I have three girls. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much doing everything in my power to delay the onset of puberty. Because I’m a fan of giggles and Hello Kitty. I can wait for the mood swings and crocodile tears. That, and the Nerd and I have this crazy idea that our little girls should be, you know, little girls. Now I’m not saying that there’s absolutely a direct correlation between rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone – the stuff they give cows to make them produce unnatural amounts of milk) and early puberty, but scientists have been scratching their heads as to why girls used to hit adolescence around 12, and now we have girls as young as 7 hitting puberty in full swing. Oh, and there’s the little matter of rBGH being banned in all of Europe and other developed nations. But they’re probably just paranoid.

So. I studied it while obtaining my B.S. in Biology. I continued reading the research on my own. I came to a conclusion: there’s a reason America has sky-high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, kids with serious hyperactivity, and early puberty – and we can’t blame it all on the fast food industry. Because all these things are found in the foods we would normally consider “healthy,” milk, meat, cheese, breads, cereals, etc.

Whole foods

Eat this. Photo credit: parislemon)

I can’t link up to every research article, but you get the idea. And no,not everyone agrees on the issues and risks of processed foods, but the number of people digging in to the truth behind the label is growing rapidly.

There’s just one glaring problem: cost.

It’s no secret that eating organic/local/fair trade isn’t exactly cost-effective. And even though I day-dream, literally, about unlimited grocery trips to Whole Foods, it’s just not possible for us. I’ve read a lot of tips on eating whole foods, or real foods, even tips on doing it on a budget, but none of them were ever even close to what we have for our grocery budget. So I started doing my own homework, my own planning, and my own grueling grocery tips involving three kids, lots of label reading, and checking out with half a box of organic fruit snacks missing to keep them reasonably quiet while I shopped. It’s all about compromise.

And after all that, I’m putting together some tips for shopping for real food on a real budget.

  1. It really is all about compromise. You can’t go 100% organic on what we have, so I did my research and chose a few things that were really important to me to eliminate from our diets. For us, it was avoiding all dairy with rBGH, avoiding red meat if at all possible (due to the hormone and processed, ammonia-treated particles issue) and trying to buy local produce whenever possible. Local produce supports the local economy, and often has much richer taste and nutrition because it hasn’t traveled 1,500 miles to get to the shelf.
  2. Know your labels. A lot of people avoid MSG, monosodium glutamate, because it’s widely known to have widespread negative health effects. But what they don’t know is that it’s perfectly legal to use MSG in other forms and not list it. Next time you’re shopping, read those bread/cracker/snack food/condensed soup/chicken broth labels and look for words like, “autolyzed yeast extract,” or “hydrolyzed corn (or soy) protein.” They’re all hidden sources of MSG. Another thing to look for: labels that say, “No MSG added*” with the little asterisk. This means that they didn’t add literal monosodium glutamate, but there’s a good chance that they added a source of it in another form. And the real heart breaker – some food companies are now using “organic” MSG, so even USDA certified organic labels don’t guarantee that it’s MSG-free. Read your labels.
  3. Avoid eating out. Period. I have yet to find a restaurant that doesn’t use trans fats, MSG, preservatives, and other additives. Even the “healthy” ones add things you’d be surprised to see, and some even refuse to provide ingredients lists. You can go to another great blog, Food Babe, to read tons about her investigations into big chain restaurants and their food quality.
  4. If you don’t cook with it at home, don’t buy it in the store. I picked up a package of pudding cups yesterday at the grocery store, and couldn’t pronounce half the ingredients. If I make it at home? Milk, eggs, cornstarch, sugar, vanilla, salt. If I don’t keep propylene glycol in my fridge or pantry, I’m not buying it at the store. Again, a lot of the chemical additives we’re choosing to avoid don’t have “concrete correlations to health risks in small quantities,” but I have yet to hear of someone getting sick because they didn’t eat enough high fructose corn syrup or BHT. So I’m assuming less is more in this case.

    English: An Entennmann's cake donut, bought fr...

    Not this. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you live on a food budget like ours, or even smaller (God bless you), even these changes may seem like lofty ambitions. So here’s how we do it: we spend a  little more when it counts, and spend a lot less when it doesn’t. I splurge for dairy products with the Cabot name because Cabot uses cows that aren’t treated with rBGH or antibiotics. It’s a few cents, maybe a dollar more, but it’s worth it to me to avoid the bad stuff. A lot of milk now comes without rBGH added, so it’s fairly easy to find that label even in the less expensive brands. But if it doesn’t state it clearly, I don’t buy it. In the meantime, I’ve found lots of ways to reduce cost in other areas so I can use the savings to go organic here and there. Here are my top money-saving tips for families on a mediocre budget:

  1. If you don’t eat it, always buy generic. I did my own personal experiment with cleaning solution and laundry detergent and found that there was NO NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE between pricey name brands and cheaper stuff. Some laundry detergents charge up $15 (FIFTEEN DOLLARS?!?) for a bottle of soap. I bought that kind and used it for a month, and saw absolutely no difference in the cleanliness of my clothes between that, and the $3 brand I usually buy (which, coincidentally, is free of dyes and perfumes). What does make a difference? Elbow grease. I use Fels-Naptha, an old-fashioned laundry bar soap, to scrub into stains that need pre-treating. Toss it in the washer with the cheap detergent, and voila – clean clothes.
  2. Cleaning products. A container of cleaning wipes costs up to $6. You must be out yo mind. I now make my own solution of vinegar, lemon juice, water, and scented oil. Not only does it clean as well, but vinegar is supreme at removing hard water stains. Cost per spray bottle of homemade all-purpose cleaner? About 20 cents. And there’s the little advantage of having no harsh chemicals, which I kind of love. My other new favorite? Fake-out Febreze. (Oh, that’s also a link to another great blog for saving money on household goods).
  3. If you do eat it, you might still be able to go generic. A lot of store brands now make their version of cereal/pasta/etc. with the same ingredients, at a much a lower cost. Be careful, because sometimes those cheaper brands add preservatives, but you can save a lot of money by doing your homework and reading the labels.
  4. Watch out for sales. Yes, usually a “sale” price is better. But sometimes a store’s sale price is still higher than a competitor’s. I peruse the grocery store ads before doing my shopping to compare prices.
  5. Juice boxes and soda are totally unnecessary. I send Punkin to school with a reusable water bottle we purchased for $15 four years ago. Four years’ worth of juice boxes? A lot more than $15. So even though the initial investment seems a little steep, it pays for itself really, really quickly. And getting your kids to drink water is never a bad thing.
  6. Plan your meals around what’s on sale and in season. We eat tons of tomatoes and corn in the summer. They’re local, super delicious, and cheap. I might be in the mood for homemade mac and cheese, but if I wait until cheese goes on sale, I can save a few dollars on just one meal. Multiply that times three meals a day, seven days a week, and your grocery budget is looking skinnier and skinnier.
  7. Remember how I mentioned not eating out? Holy moly, does that save money! I made a healthy, super yummy meal the other night for a total cost of about $2 per person. Show of hands for the last time you got a salad and dinner in a restaurant for $2, that didn’t come from a dollar menu? Anybody? No? Didn’t think so.
  8. Check out grocery store alternatives. We have an ALDI near us, and I love it! Around the corner is another discount marketplace that sources local produce, and I’m in grocery budget heaven. Big chains mark up the cost so they can have fancier stores and 237 types of shampoo. I’d rather have a grocery store with ugly floors, locally grown lettuce, and change leftover when I check out.

So there you go. No, we can’t go all organic. But yes, we can avoid a lot of the bad stuff by picking and choosing. And “Would you like more salad?” just sounds so much nicer than “Would you like more sodium caseinate?”

Mediocre changes for our family, tips for yours.

Hi. It’s been forever. Sorry about that. I’m still working on improving lots of things in my life all at once. Like…not sucking at everything.

I have decided that this whole blogging thing should really happen more regularly, if for no other reason than to have an easy, internet-ready way to embarrass my children in the future should the need arise. “Oh, you thought staying out past curfew was okay? Hmm. Well let me know what your friends think when they read the post about you finger painting your naked body in nail polish, mmkay?”

So in an attempt to not suck at everything, I’ve been making lots of little changes that have been having big impact. Here’s a list because I felt the need to spread the awesomeness:

  1. Goo is now my sous chef. She helps me cook as many meals as possible. Does that slow down my garlic chopping a bit? Sure. But it saved dinner time. I seriously cannot even believe the impact it had. Allow me to paint a picture for you: It’s dinner time. I put said dinner on the table. Goo has a tantrum. Now repeat that, every single night, for 3 years. To save you from a math headache, that’s over 1,000 dinner time tantrums. I came to hate cooking, something I had once really enjoyed and found a little relaxing. I resented cooking, I resented family meals, and to be totally transparent, I may have resented Goo a little bit for ruining it for us. But she’s a preschooler for crying out loud, and I needed to remember that. Keeping her iron-clad will and independence in mind, I asked her if she wanted to be my cooking helper.  She had gotten her own little set of cooking utensils last Christmas, so why not? This one small decision changed my world. Not only can I cook a meal without her whining at me the whole time, but she proudly announced recently that she has, as a “good cooker,” decided to try one new food a week. Since then she has willingly begun eating tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, and beans. *Happy dance* Bonus: I thoroughly enjoy cooking again. *Another happy dance*

    These. These can rock. your. world. (Photo credit: Amazon.com)

  2. I signed up for my very first 5K! Squee! This gives me a deadline to force my flabby tush into shape, and because I signed up with friends, we’ve begun working out together every week to help train. My record so far is running 2 miles straight, and for this non-exerciser, I’m pretty stoked about it. Bonus #2: if I know I have to go to the gym or run, I make better food choices. Because who wants to work that hard, and sweat that much, to work off half a dish of chocolate ice cream? Not this girl. And if you’ve been thinking about making some healthier choices, I enthusiastically recommend checking out this Facebook page: Losing Weight with Elizabeth. It’s done by a totally amazing lady who lost 93 lbs and, after her third attempt, kept it off for three years. She puts up tips, encouragement, and funny little moments to help me keep you on the right track. She also wrote a book. Buy it. Here’s the link to her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/losing-weight-with-elizabeth/473204615724
  3. We’re becoming a real-ish food family. You may recall that Goo has some food sensitivities that make her head explode. The more I began eliminating certain things from her diet, the more I wanted to do it for us. And the more research I’ve read, the more I’ve realized that the American food industry is, to put it bluntly, kind of toxic. If you’re not into science-speak and would rather read a cute blog than a science journal, I highly recommend this one: 100 Days of Real Food. The author started by making a pledge to only do “real food” (aka, no additives, preservatives, processed foods, fast food, etc.) for 100 days. Her family loved it so much that they stuck with it, and she has TONS of info in one place. We aren’t as strict as she is, and to once again be blunt: it’s largely because of money. Unfortunately, unprocessed and/or organic foods still cost a LOT more than the other stuff.
    Labeling for products that meet the USDA-NOP s...

    Maybe if I start selling my blood plasma.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    If I had the dinero, I would totally do organic all the way. But I shop around, and I’ve done my homework, so in the mean time, we have focused on more fruits and raw veggies, hormone-free dairy, more meat-free sources of protein, from-scratch foods (someone gave me a bread maker – LOVE) and no more eating out or deli meats. I’m hoping to do a post just on these changes in case you’re interested in how I got three kids to come on board with this. In the mean time, you should totally check out 100 Days of Real Food. I’m telling you, it’s worth it.

  4. Starting tomorrow (our first day of school in these parts), homeschooling Goo is back in full swing. I’m sad to see summer end, and it’s no secret that I kind of love having Punkin around all day. I like her. But she loves school, and Goo loves school, so I can’t complain. Much. Final bonus: I purchased a curriculum for $10 – TEN DOLLARS – from this lady. She’s been homeschooling her kids for years, and as a former teacher and someone who has seen the good, bad, and ugly side of preschool programs, I LOVE IT. And more importantly, Goo loves it. Hearts and smiles all around.

So that’s it. Some mediocre attempts at not sucking. They’re going well. Next on the list: blogging more than, you know, twice a year.

Does any of it actually make it in their mouths?

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Smush has had a rough winter. Numerous colds, stomach bugs, teeth forging their way through tender gums – it left her no less happy, but much less hungry. As in she dropped from the 75% in weight to the 10% in weight between her 6 month and 12 month check ups.

It is no secret that I’m a total science nerd educated in things related to the human body. Part of that is nutrition. I grew up on white bread, white pasta, canned soup, and – when Dad was in charge – peanut butter and potato chip sandwiches. And I survived. But with my kids, I’m all about making those calories count: whole grains, veggies in every color of the rainbow, healthy proteins, unsaturated fats. And preferably without hormones or antibiotics added, though I haven’t won the lotto yet so those usually don’t go in the cart. Plus a healthy dose of ice cream and chicken nuggets thrown in for good measure. And my sanity.

But I digress. Smush, who was born to eat, essentially stopped eating solid foods and lost a lot of weight. Come to find out, she was cutting some serious teeth AND had a urinary tract infection, so she was not a happy camper. But this left me no less concerned about her weight. And the fact that she was also anemic.

I spent the national deficit in Pediasure drinks and supplements, and started helping her pack on the pounds. And she’s been great. She’s right back to chowing down like it’s her job. Because at 12 months old, it kind of is her job.

She’s a regular tray clearer. If the food is on there, she eats it. And not with that wimpy pincer grasp babies are supposed to use. She shovels it in. Which makes me happy because I’m super paranoid about her gaining weight and getting adequate nutrition. Tonight was no exception. For dinner I made chicken and vegetable stir fry with whole grain rice. And her tray was practically licked clean. Which made me think, “Look how well she ate!”

And then I found this:

So glad I'm spending countless dollars and hours trying to give her the perfect balance of nutrition. Because those perfectly balanced meals are such a nice addition to her high chair seat.

Yeah. Sometimes I wonder if any of it actually makes it into her mouth. And then I remember that I also spend the national deficit in diapers and wipes. Clearly she’s eating something.

On MSG, grocery meltdowns, and night terrors.

You know what I love? Packing up three kids, going to the grocery store, surviving three meltdowns (thank you, Goo), getting everything on my list, loading it onto the checkout line and realizing…

I don’t have my debit card.

Then loading the kids back into the car, driving home, getting necessary funds, going back to the grocery store, and actually buying the groceries. Complete with another meltdown.

You know how I said Todzilla had returned? We’re beginning to think it’s more than just the terrible twos. Is there such a thing as the terrible ones, twos and threes?

 

She likes high fructose corn syrup, too.

 

A very dear friend of mine has children with food sensitivities. Largely to things like high fructose corn syrup, MSG, food coloring, and sulfites. Sensitivities to these items, itturns out, can cause nuclear meltdown behavioral problems and sleep disturbances, among other things. Did I mention that Goo has woken up in a screaming fit on numerous occasions in the middle of the night? Or that she had one such fit two nights ago, after she sneaked a forbidden piece of candy? Oh, and there’s the fact that she had several allergic reactions to sulfites last year.

We are now looking into an elimination diet, where all possible triggers are eliminated. This includes, but is not limited to, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), MSG (and all the other names food companies use so you don’t recognize it’s in there), food coloring, salicylate foods, and the list goes on. People who have never dealt with a child with food sensitivities think, “Well just give them fruits and veggies and avoid processed foods.” That’s great, if you also mean avoiding the vast majority of breads (they contain HFCS), certain types of sandwich meat and beef, any dairy product that isn’t refrigerated (like pudding), most salad dressings, many “low-fat” products, etc.

So now my already painful trips to the grocery store will take about 400 times longer because I have to read every. single. label. And it’s not just “don’t buy processed foods.” I rarely buy that stuff. My kids snack on whole grains, fruits and veggies, low-fat cheese, and trail mix. Okay okay. On a rare occasion, I buy candy to bribe reward good behavior. But even those whole grains probably contain HFCS. And low-fat dairy products can have enough MSG to trigger a reaction in someone with a sensitivity. So my grocery trips will be longer, and my grocery bill, significantly larger.

But the good news is, if this works, the days of 15 – 45 minute inconsolable tantrums may be coming to an end. Todzilla’s reign may be over, for the most part. And that’s worth a 3 hour trip to the grocery store.