Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dirty laundry

I finally have to admit that I am a grown-up. Not because I'm married. Not because I have four kids. Not because I pay my bills on time (most of the time). Nope. I know I'm a grown-up because I now get excited about my appliances. I didn't used to. When we moved into the house we now live in, we got a new refrigerator and dishwasher, and because we wanted the 'industrial kitchen' look, we got stainless. I really liked them. They looked nice and clean and new. I still like them. Love them, actually. They keep my food fresh and clean my dishes. Two very important things in my life. And the sanitize setting on the dishwasher meant I didn't have to boil bottles, nipples and pacifiers before my babies could use them, I could just throw them in the dishwasher and press "Sanitize." It's a beautiful thing. Still, I wasn't clap-my-hands and jump-up-and-down excited.

Today I am clap-my-hands and jump-up-and-down excited. Today our new washing machine and dryer are being delivered and I can't wait. Our old ones were here when we moved in and I think they were probably the original appliances put in the house, which is about 35 years old. Maybe it would be normal for me to be all excited about it if they were some of those fancy newfangled ones with the sexy curves and round windows that sit up on pedestal drawers, because who wouldn't be excited about those? (See the pictures? Exciting, no?) But no, those puppies are too darn expensive, and I'm just doing regular old laundry, none of those several thousand dollar red carpet numbers or anything. Nope, I'm excited about the regular old, plain jane, white Whirlpools that I picked out at Lowes.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about my coffee-maker.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Picky eating: is there a solution?

In a word, no. Last week, I read this post, which prompted me to think about all the various things I've tried to get nutritious foods into my picky eaters. My oldest was never picky, she'd try and eat pretty much everything. I'm not sure about the baby yet, but I am a bit worried, since she's almost 8 months old and I can't get her to eat any kind of solid food. But my middle two are horribly picky!

The 4-year-old will only eat cereal, crackers, muffins (without fruit or nuts), plain bagels, frozen waffles, wheat bread, chicken nuggets (only from a fast-food place, not made at home), apples (only red ones, no green), and red seedless grapes (no green or black ones), granola bars (no dried fruit in them), cookies, cake, milk, and almost any kind of juice. I can't make her a sandwich because she won't eat any kind of meat, peanut butter, cheese, or any condiments. She won't have anything on her bagel - no butter, no cream cheese. No yogurt, no ice cream, no hot dogs, no pizza, no burgers, no mac 'n' cheese, no eggs, nothing that is typically considered "kid-food." And of course, no veggies.

The 6-year-old will eat more than the 4-year-old, but not much. She'll eat most of what her little sister eats (with the exception of the apples and grapes and juice, what kind of kid doesn't drink juice?) plus french fries, mac 'n' cheese, cheese pizza, peanut butter, jelly, yogurt, hot dogs (no bun), butter, cream cheese, ketchup, ice cream, various kinds of cheese. So at least I can make her a sandwich, but not with lunchmeat. But no meat or eggs(other than the nuggets and hot dogs) and no fruits or veggies.

Now if you are the parent of a picky eater, you know that everyone has a solution. Yeah, right. Here are some that I've been told, tried, and failed miserably:
Advice: Offer a wide variety of healthy foods. Lots of colorful fruits and veggies.
Result: They ate only the things they like, i.e. the foods listed in the above paragraphs, and ignored the rest. When I tried only putting out fruits (except apples and grapes) and veggies, they didn't eat.

Advice: Give them the same dinner you are eating. If they don't eat it, don't give them anything else, and give them the same meal for breakfast. If they still don't eat it, give it to them for lunch. And so on, and so on... Eventually they will eat. Kids won't starve themselves. (I believe I heard this one on Dr. Phil, but I'm not sure.)
Result: Kids will starve themselves. Or at least make themselves sick. Dr. Phil underestimates the degree of stubbornness of my kids.

Advice: Make food fun. Call broccoli "trees," make "ants on a log" out of celery, raisins and peanut butter, cut sandwiches in fun shapes, make peanut butter toast or cheese toast and make a funny face on it with fruits and/or veggies, etc., etc.
Result: They don't care how "fun" it is; they won't eat it.

Advice: Take something they will eat, like bread, muffins, brownies, etc., and spike it with fruits or veggies.
Result: My freezer currently contains zucchini-carrot muffins, various breads with fruits and veggies baked in, brownies with spinach baked in. They wouldn't eat them.

Advice: Get the kids involved.
Result: We had a vegetable garden for a few years (not this year, because the new baby). The kids loved helping me with it, but they refused to eat anything out of it. I had them help me prepare meals. They loved doing it, but surprise, surprise, wouldn't try a bite.

Advice: Any and all combinations of the above.
Result: Nothing works.

So let me just say to all you people with solutions, like these people, "You are full of crap!"

Oh, and before you tell me to get them together with friends so they can be influenced, I've tried it. My kids are impervious to peer-pressure. They don't care one iota what their friends like. So I guess we'll just let them eat what they will eat and hope that at some point they will try things on their own. Unless you have another idea?

Photo credit: Stole it from those people above who are full of crap.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Reading challenge

I love to read, so I decided to join the "Something About Me" Reading Challenge. I don't usually join challenges; basically I am not a joiner. I don't like feeling pressured to do something in a certain amount of time, so I don't. I'm a bit passive-aggressive that way. Anyway, this one seems interesting and simple enough, so I'm trying it. Here's my list:
Beach Music by Pat Conroy
I chose this book because it is my favorite book of all time. I'm from the area in SC where it is set, and I feel that Conroy captures it perfectly. I love when you're reading a novel and can completely relate. I even recently wrote a post about it. Also check out another of my posts about the Cooper River Bridge. It's brief mention in the novel actually plays a large role throughout, because of what happened on it.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Okay, I haven't read this book since high school, but I chose it because strangely enough, I do think about it quite a bit. Mainly because, while I would NEVER consider committing a crime, I do often think about if I DID want to commit the perfect crime, how would I go about it. It wouldn't be easy considering all the advances in forensic science. Just a little mental exercise you may want to try as you're standing in line behind that person with a full grocery cart in the 15 items or less lane.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
I just recently re-discovered Dean Koontz. I didn't care much for his earlier work, where he is trying to channel Stephen King, because I don't usually like the supernatural intertwined into my murder mysteries, so I had given up on him. Then, a few months ago, I picked up something else by him, and while it still had a little supernatural stuff going on, it was a compelling read. So I gave him another chance, and I am now enjoying his newer stuff, particularly the Odd Thomas trilogy, of which this is the first novel. I chose it here because of the dry sense of humor interspersed with non sequiturs in the dialogue of the characters. It's my sense of humor exactly, which is why it is so difficult to find anyone who understands just exactly what the hell I am talking about.

The Redhead Handbook by Cort Cass
I selected this book because I am a redhead. I hated my hair as a kid. I can still remember when I was elementary school age, being out in my yard and having high school boys ride by on their bikes yelling, "I'd rather be dead than be red on the head." Nice boys, they were. And I actually was a redheaded step-child. Anyway, now I love it. It is unusual. Other people want it. Other people have to dye their hair to get it (and it doesn't always turn out so well). There are songs written about it, there are books written about it, there are entire photo anthologies devoted to it. Now, being a redhead is great. Except for the sunburn. That part sucks.

And finally...
Stick Kid by Peter Holwitz
Yes, it is a children's book. But hey, it'll only take you a few minutes to complete one of the other people's books you are supposed to read. It's like a college crip-course. Easy "A." All that aside, there is actually a good reason why I chose this book. This is a fantastic children's book. I have children. Four of them. All girls. The stick kid in this book is a boy, but the sentiment is the same. It made me cry. It will make you cry. Unless you are cold and heartless.

And there you have it. Five books that say something about me.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Beach Music

Being from SC, I have read all of Pat Conroy's books. Well, except The Boo, of which I could never find a copy. My mother finally got me one, and I started to read it, but it was his first book, and it lacked the style that he eventually developed. I enjoyed all of his others, and I think each book is better than the previous one.

The best is Beach Music. I would even venture to say that it is my favorite novel of all time, but my time isn't up yet (hopefully not for a while), so I won't discount the possibility of finding something I like better. But that won't be easy, because this book surpasses anything I've read in modern literature. No, I'm not a book critic, but I know what I like, and this is it.

The book takes place in SC and Italy. The characters are realistically flawed and eccentric in that southern way that will resonate with anyone from the south and intrigue and amuse those who aren't. If you grew up around the Charleston area as I did, you will recognize some of these people. They are your neighbors, grandparents, parent's friends, uncles and aunts, and yes, even your crazy relative. You know the one, every southern family has one, who can be mildly eccentric to outright nuts, but we all go about our business as if he/she were perfectly normal. (If you're not sure what I mean, then it's you.) There are rich family histories woven in, and we learn all about the family of the jewish girl who had visions of the Madonna and committed suicide as a young mother. And about the family of that girl's boyfriend-then-husband, who flees to Italy after his wife's death to raise his daughter.

Most especially, we learn about the tidal pull of the Lowcountry, why those who were raised there can never quite leave it. Why the feel of salty air and the smell of pluff mud at low tide are ingrained in our very DNA. All of us who grew up there had that incident in pluff mud, where you sink in up to your knees and your father had to come pull you out, and the suction of the mud as you pulled free sucked the shoes right off your feet. That incident describes perfectly those of us who were raised in the Lowcountry and have left. Our shoes are still there, stuck in the mud.

Now I rarely read a book more than once (on purpose, anyway), but I've read this one twice (it's been 4 years since the last time), and just writing this has made me want to read it again. It's that good. I gave a copy to my niece when she was 16, and she called me crying when she finished. Not because the ending was sad, but because there was no more of it left to read.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Al Gore's love child

I came across a site called "People Doing Stuff," which searches images on the web for a randomly generated name coupled with a randomly generated verb. You'd think you get images of people with the name doing whatever the verb is, but the few times I clicked the search button, I found that you generally don't. Anyway, a search with "Keith" + [a verb I can't remember] came up with an image of someone who could only be Al Gore's love child. I know you'll agree. Here is a picture of his alleged love child side-by-side with an image of Al Gore for comparison purposes:

Because the resemblance is so uncanny, I will point out that Gore is on the right side of the image and his "son" is on the left. Notice how Gore is even gazing lovingly at his illegitimate boy. And no, that is not an old black-and-white yearbook photo of Gore. This is a person whose name is Keith and he lives in Georgia. The photo was on his company's website. I won't give any more away; after all, he may not be aware that he is Gore's long-lost son and I wouldn't want to be responsible for the media hounding him.

Now, based on the fact that this guy graduated from college in 1991, that would mean he was probably born mid-70s. Since Al and Tipper were married in 1970, this will probably really piss off Tipper.