It’s Not All Mary Poppins

These things are relative…

I sit at the dining table, reading, and munching on some illicit almonds. Illicit, because almonds are not something the children can eat, meaning, I can’t share. Meaning, such eating had really best be done under cover of darkness. Far, far from the children.

However, the only child up at the moment is Gwynn. The littles are all sleeping. I made sure that Gwynn was utterly engrossed in her blocks over there in the living room before I quietly sat down here, in the dining room, so I’d say that I’m —

“What you eating, Mary?”

Damn. Busted.

There is no point in lying about it. She can see me chewing. She can hear me crunching. I wonder if the crunching is what drew her attention, in this quiet house? From the other room? Over the clink and clunk of her blocks? With her back to me??? (Seriously. How do they know?)

(More to the point: why do I ever think I can get away with it? After all these years, it borders on delusional.)

But I’m not sharing. First, she’s had her snack, before the littles started their nap. Second, almonds are not safe for a two-year-old. Technically, they shouldn’t be getting whole nuts until they’re four, because of the risk of choking. (In fact, when I was a young mother, my pediatrician said five was the magic number.) I did not wait that long with my own kids. I took into consideration their teeth: obviously, kids without molars don’t get little crunchy esophagus-blocking morsels. I took into consideration their eating styles. Kids who madly cram food in did not get nuts (I had at least one of those). Kids who take little bites and chew slowly (I had at least one of those!) got nuts. So I honestly don’t remember how old they were when they first got nuts, but I do know it wasn’t the five years old my doctor was suggesting.

However. That was my own kids. With other people’s kids, I am much more careful. Gwynn only turned two a couple of months ago. Not even close.

“I am eating almonds, sweetie.” I show her the nuts in my hand. “But you can’t have almonds, my dear, because you could choke on them. They are dangerous for you. You can’t have almonds until you are five years old.” I pause to let that sink in. She pauses, to see if I’m about to change my mind. “How old are you, Gwynnie?”

She grows still as she considers. Her brilliant, pale blue eyes widen, her face is framed by wisps of white-blond hair. She speaks in careful, sincere, measured tones. She knows she just has one shot at this, and she’d better make it good. Her voice rings with conviction and sincerity as she assure me,

“I am old, Mary!”

She didn’t get any nuts.

She did get a giant, laughter-filled hug before being sent on her way, though.

“Old!”

 

November 4, 2014 Posted by | food, Gwynn, health and safety, the things they say! | , | 3 Comments

Menu Monday

Monday:
First course: broccoli and dip
Main Course: enchilada bake
Dessert: muffins

Tuesday:
First course: roasted red pepper strips
Main Course: vegetarian lasagna
Dessert: bananas

Wednesday:
First course: zucchini sticks and dip
Main Course: lentil soup and  naan
Dessert: papaya

Thursday:
First course: corn
Main Course: butter chicken and rice
Dessert: muffins

Friday:
First course: garden salad
Main Course: peanut butter sandwiches
Dessert: cantaloupe

November 3, 2014 Posted by | food | , , | Leave a comment

Monday:
first course: cooked carrots
Main course: chicken and rice
dessert: bananas

Tuesday:
first course: garden salad
Main course: quiche (with mushrooms, grated zucchini, onion, cheddar, feta)
dessert: cantaloupe

Wednesday:
first course: corn
Main course: beef stew, biscuits
dessert: bananas

Thursday:
first course: braised collard greens
Main course: black bean enchilada bake
dessert: papaya

Friday:
first course: grilled zucchini
Main course: tortilla soup
dessert: cantaloupe

October 27, 2014 Posted by | food | , | Leave a comment

Menu Monday

It’s been a while, so I’ll explain our eating patterns again. At Mary’s house, children between 12 and 20 or so months get a morning snack, lunch, and an afternoon snack. Older children skip the morning snack. We eat morning snack at 9:30-ish, lunch at 11:30, and afternoon snack at about 3:00.

Lunch is a substantive meal, with three courses. The first course is always a vegetable of some sort. The main is a protein, more vegetables and, usually, a starch. Dessert is usually fruit.

Here’s this week’s menu!

Monday:
First course: corn (niblets, not on the cob)
Main Course: Spinach Pie
Dessert: banana

Tuesday:
First course: collard greens (braised for an hour in water with a sploosh of lemon juice)
Main Course: pasta with pinto beans, swiss chard and cheese
Dessert: grapes

Wednesday:
First course: roasted cauliflower (with optional dip)
Main Course: chicken tikka masala, naan
Dessert: apple slices

Thursday:
First course: ratatouille
Main Course: mushroom-cheese quiche
Dessert: bananas

Friday:
First course: guacamole
Main Course: fish tacos (The link is to my inspiring recipe, but we’ll be making ours with mashed avocados on the taco itself to act as glue for the filling of grilled, chunked (or crumbled) fish, swiss chard, and grated carrots)
Dessert: caramel apples (a decadent treat because we’re having our Halloween party this afternoon!)

As always, if there’s a recipe you’d like to see, just ask!

October 19, 2014 Posted by | food, health and safety | , | 3 Comments

Garlic, mmmmm

I love garlic. Pungent and nutty and rich and savoury. Mmm, mmm, mmm. I love it in salads, in stir-fries, in dressings. I love it minced, raw. Sauteed. Roasted.

In fact, roasted garlic is something I discovered relatively recently. A pizza recipe I discovered has you roasting some cloves, then mashing them with a bit of Dijon mustard, and smearing the resultant paste on the naked dough, before adding the sauce and fixings. Oh, my! Yummy.

So when I came across not one, but two recipes for roasted garlic soup? Well, now! A garlic-loving, happy-in-the-kitchen woman just has to try them both! We had one batch last week, from a favourite website of mine, and we tried the second this week.

The verdict?

I like ’em both. The second one is a sweet and creamy-rich vegetable soup with lovely earthy underpinning of garlic. The first is primarily garlic, rich and creamy. So, what will I do?

Combine, of course! The next time I make this — I tell you, vampires will stay miles away from our home for the next whatever — I will use Alanna’s recipe as my base. Because, really? Four heads are better than two!! I loved the sweetness that the carrots provided, though, so I’m going to toss a couple in as well. I’m not sure if I’ll double the onions, as per the second recipe, though obviously they added sweetness as well. That’ll be for next week’s batch!!

Heehee. I love cooking.

And for the curious? Did the tots eat these soups? They did indeed! Some liked it and went for seconds, some merely tasted it, but they all ingested some. And next time it appears, some of the former dubious will be a little more enthusiastic. We draw them into adult eating in baby steps, but they get there!

April 17, 2014 Posted by | food | , , | 2 Comments

Breastfeeding Women: Brave New Mavericks or Just Another Mother?

On my post with the pro-breastfeeding video, Zoe commented that she’d “never seen anyone turn a hair” at the sight of a breastfeeding woman in the city of Norwich where she lives. (Or the city closest to where she lives? Where do you live, Zoe?)

I was struck by that, because you know that? I haven’t, either. Well, not when I was nursing my own children. This is even more striking, perhaps, when you understand that my eldest is 28. She was breastfed till she was over a year old. In all that time, as a stay-at-home mother, I took her wherever I went and nursed her when she needed. Restaurants, libraries, bus stops, church (and no, I didn’t necessarily go down to the nursery, which was often too full of distractions and noise), coffee shops, malls… Everywhere. I never once took her to a public toilet to nurse, either. Ick. My two younger children are almost-25 and 20. They, too, were nursed till they were a little over a year old. They, too, went everywhere with me, feeding as required.

And in all that time, I never had one negative remark. I did have a few positive ones.

— From a very elderly woman in the church I was attending at the time, when I slipped into a pew at the back of the sanctuary to nurse, a lovely frail lady who tottered back to keep me company. “It’s so nice to see young mothers feeding their own babies again! I always thought it was such a shame when those ridiculous doctors convinced all those poor women that those concoctions in bottles were better than what God had given us to feed our babies.” If she was 80-something then, and had fed her babies when she was in her twenties, she was talking about the 1920’s. History, right there in the pew beside me!

— From the woman in the seat beside me on a trans-Atlantic flight. My eldest was 9 months old, and I was nursing her during the ascent to assist with the popping of her teeny eardrums. “Oh, such a smart idea. She’ll be so much happier.” (Turns out she was a pediatric nurse at Sick Kids in Toronto, and her lovely husband an Anglican priest.)

For the most part, people ignored me when I fed my babies. Granted, that could have been the averted eyes of the squeamish … but I never got that impression. For the most part, I assumed people were just respecting my privacy.

Oh, wait! I’m wrong. I did have one negative response. When my son, Adam, my middle child, was five days old, we were visited in our home by good friends. When Adam cried, I made ready to nurse him. The husband of the couple made an exclamation of dismay. “You’re not going to do that here?!?”, he wailed.

I raised one eyebrow (I can do that) and nailed him with a steely glare. My tone was measured, but ironclad stern. “Byron. This is my home, and my baby is hungry. Yes, I’m going to ‘do that’ here. If you don’t like it, you can go out in the kitchen.”

Meantime, his wife, appalled, rolled her eyes at me as she smacked him in the arm. “BY-ron!!!” He glanced at my then-husband for male support, and found none. He was a great guy, Byron, and knew when to admit defeat. He grinned, heaved a giant mock-sigh. “Oh, all right. I guess I’m outnumbered.”

I fed my baby. Byron did not run cowering to the kitchen, and discovered being in the room with a breastfeeding baby wasn’t as horrific as he’d feared. (Three or so years later, when Byron’s first child was born, he was the strongest supporter of breastfeeding his wife could have asked for. I take some credit in turning that around.) :D

Now, recall that all this was far closer to 30 years ago than 20. Three decades ago, pretty much, I nursed children in several cities in Ontario, with no backlash, no resistance, no negative comments whatsoever. Thirty years ago! Why, I wondered, this sudden flurry of defiantly pro-breastfeeding articles I’m seeing? As if women expect, as if they’ve actually been receiving, flack, push-back, disgust? I’m baffled.

The Canadian in me wants to suggests that it’s because breastfeeding is only just now being truly popularized in the (prudish) US, and so all these articles, posters, tweets and comments reflect American battles, battles largely won in Canada two and three decades ago. It could be that. Except that the video I posted was from Australia, of course. Hm. Is Australia equally prudish? I wouldn’t have thought so, but who knows?

Or was it that my experience wasn’t representative? I lived in urban Canada, in Ontario. Would I have experienced more revulsion had I been in rural Ontario? (Though that sweet little old pro-breastfeeding church lady? She was in Buffalo, New York, where I was living when my eldest was born.)

Or is it that there are pockets of prudery here and there, that people in those pockets post something on the internet, and the rest of us all read/watch what they’ve posted and come to believe it’s a bigger problem than it is? Because that happens. We know it does.

So, wanting to get to the bottom of it, I have a couple of questions. The first is for you currently (or recently) breastfeeding women.

1. How do most people respond to you? Positively? Negatively? Neutrally? (Not the outliers, now. The majority. I don’t want to hear about that one stinker every so often, and make him/her sound like they’re the norm. I’m interested in your everyday experience.) Though I admit I’m curious to know how frequently you encounter those stinkers, if you do.

2. How do you, breastfeeding or not, account for the sudden upsurge in defiant women demanding their right to … do something I thought was a non-issue 28 years ago?

I’m baffled. And curious.

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Canada, controversy, food, parenting | , , | 26 Comments

Menu Tuesday

Menu Tuesday. Yes, well. We did eat yesterday. Here you go:

Monday:
First course: roasted rutabaga (with ketchup for dipping, because, well, ketchup.)
Main course: Presidential chili
Dessert: bananas with chocolate and peanut butter chips (They push the pointed end of the chips into the banana.)

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Well, it was suggested they use the pointed end. Turns out they stick in the banana just fine if you use the other end!
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Nutrition, fine motor activity, and a craft, all at the same time!! Can I multi-task their educational environment, or what??

Tuesday:
First course: corn niblets
Main course: lentil-beet salad
Dessert: oranges

Wednesday:
First course: winter vegetable salad
Main course: meatloaf
Dessert: cantaloupe

Thursday:
First course: raw asparagus
Main course: lentil soup and biscuits
Dessert: muffins

Friday:
First course: cooked carrots
Main course: felafels in pita with yogurt sauce
Dessert: ??

January 14, 2014 Posted by | food | , , , , | Leave a comment

Menu Monday

Monday
First course: corn niblets
Main course: Spaghetti and veggie ‘meat’balls
Dessert: canary melon

Tuesday:
First course: salad
Main course: Veggie burgers
Dessert: apples

Wednesday
First course: carrot salad
Main course: basil coconut chicken
Dessert: clementines

Thursday:
First course: broccoli
Main course: tortilla chicken soup
Dessert: pineapple chunks

Friday:
First course: veggies and dip
Main course: peanut butter sandwiches
Dessert: peanut butter balls

As always, if you see a recipe you’re interested in, just ask!

December 16, 2013 Posted by | food | , , | 1 Comment

Menu Monday

Monday
First course: raw veggies and dip
Main course: Singapore noodles
Dessert: applesauce

Tuesday
First course: ratatouille
Main course: Fish provencale and rice
Dessert: cantaloupe

Wednesday
First course: Vegetables with peanut-butter sauce
Main course: Cheesy vegetable galette
Dessert: clementines

Thursday
First course: Vegetables with sesame sauce
Main course: lentil-rice cakes
Dessert: apples

Friday
First course: beet-carrot salad
Main course: stuffed green peppers
Dessert: peanut-butter balls

As always, if there are any recipes up there that interest you, just ask in the comments, and I’ll post them.

December 9, 2013 Posted by | food | , , | 1 Comment

Menu Monday

Monday
First Course: SW bean salad
Main Course: Spinach pie
Dessert: Muffins

Tuesday:
First Course: Vegetables and dip
Main Course: Black bean soup on pasta
Dessert: honeydew melon slices

Wednesday
First Course: lemon-braised kale
Main Course: Meatloaf (I make mine with a veggie layer, for added nutrition/fibre)
Dessert: clementines

Thursday
First Course: cucumber raita
Main Course: Tandoori chicken on rice
Dessert: muffins

Friday

First Course: red pepper slices
Main Course: Singapore noodles
Dessert: cookies

December 2, 2013 Posted by | food | , | 1 Comment

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