Category Archives: Food

Mom is always right, even when she’s wrong

To my dearest, dearest children,

You two are the light of my life. I love you both so much. Which is why I’m writing this even though it’s…difficult. Very difficult, in fact. For me. Your mother. To admit this. But it’s important you know this so…

Sigh…

Listen up and listen hard because you will never hear this ever again.

I was wrong.

Long exhale…

BUT I AM RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE. AND ALL FUTURE THINGS. ALL OF THEM.

However, ok, yes, I was wrong about this ONE thing. You guys were actually wonderful on our recent vacation.

I spent all that time moaning and whining about how awful I expected you guys to be; the likely sleepless nights we’d share, the public tantrums you’d likely have, the running off and disappearing into the ocean you’d likely do, tarnishing my reputation as a mom forever.

And then…nothing. You guys behaved. Not only that, you were charming and sweet and loving. It was like living in one of those old black-and-white photos of the Kennedy family on the beach.

Now, in my defense, it’s easy to assume the worst when it comes to children. Because I’ve seen your worst. On multiple occasions. And I think we can all agree that when it’s bad, it’s BAD. So bad. All the bad. And neither of you is shy about proving it.

There’s the dual meltdowns in restaurants where I have to scream to the waitress over your screaming “AND THE KIDS WILL HAVE A GRILLED CHEESE AND I’LL HAVE AN ENTIRE BOTTLE OF JACK DANIELS, THANKS!” The waiting in line at the store where you’re hitting each other but not the normal little kid hitting. Oh no. The “reenacting scenes from ‘Atomic Blonde’” level of hitting (no more playing with the remotes anymore, by the way, kids). And, my personal favorite, the night-night time “I don’t want to brush my teeth!” freakouts that end with me screaming so loud I’m worried my neighbors now know what kind of mom I actually am.

But nope. None of that. This vacation was everything a vacation is supposed to be. Fun. Exciting. Even, believe it or not, a tad bit relaxing.

I mean, you slept. You both slept. Through the night. Every night. You slept so well, in fact, that I was worried you had maybe both been replaced by changelings. (Luckily a third glass of wine made me realize that I was totally ok with raising the changelings instead of you as long as they kept up these fantastic sleeping patterns.) 

You didn’t complain about the food. You even ate some of it. Which allowed me and your dad to eat. And eat we did. We ate everything. We ate whatever is the scientific amount of calories you can eat in one sitting without dying. And we did it three times a day. Every day.

You occupied yourselves. You played together. Without us. Which allowed us to sit back and drink the aforementioned wine from the big fancy box we had brought like the big fancy people we clearly are.

You were polite to every cashier, every waiter, every little old lady who stopped and gushed over your red hair for 15 minutes.

You were…simply wonderful.

Which leads me to the conclusion that, clearly, the key to an amazing vacation is to dread it. (And to put that dread into writing. And post it online. For all to see.)

And as such, I look forward to dreading many more vacations with you.

Love,

Momma

 

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Beggars can be choosers

Do you have pearls on right now? If so, prepare to clutch them…

I no longer care what my kids eat.

Oh yeah. I said it. And I mean it. This nose ring and these tattoos aren’t just for show. I’m a rebel mom. (slowly pulls off motorcycle helmet and shakes out hair)

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I. Don’t. Care. You hear me, world? I DON’T CARE.

OK, OK, I do care. Of course I care. I’m a mom. (sets down motorcycle helmet and puts on cardigan) I’ll care about what my kids eat until the day I die. In fact, my last words will likely be “are you eating enough vegetables, honey?”

However, I did have an epiphany recently that means I will no longer fight with my kids over what they eat at dinner. (takes off cardigan and puts on cardigan decorated with skulls!)

I was 35 the first time I tried cream cheese on a bagel. My whole life, up until that fateful day, I had dutifully been spreading butter on my bagels. Like an idiot.

I have two college degrees, am a voracious reader, spent years working as a journalist, and literally thought cream cheese on a bagel was icky for no other reason than I decided it was icky one day as a small child despite having never tried it. And I held onto that belief for multiple decades despite the whole world telling me it was one of the most delicious combos ever dreamed up by humans.

And when I finally did try it (AT THE AGE OF 35), it was so amazing I literally stole the other half of the bagel from my 3-year-old son.

Worst of all is that this is just the latest in a series of foods I finally tried as an adult that I spent my whole life thinking were icky.

I was 21 before I tried coffee (and 27 when I tried it black for the first time).

I was 25 before I tried hummus.

I was 28 when I first tried guacamole.

And the first half of my 30’s has been busy trying and falling in love with crab rangoon, artichoke hearts, falafel, spinach dip, reuben sandwiches and all the cheeses outside of the “colby” range.

So, I no longer care what my kids choose to eat off their plates. Because, honestly, how can I expect them to have a more reasonable attitude toward food than I do? A grown woman who still has never tasted a mushroom (AT THE AGE OF 36) because the word fungus makes me cringe?

“But, Aprill!” I hear you yelling at the screen as you clutch those pearls. “You don’t want your kids to end up like you, do you!? Isn’t that all the more reason to force them to try stuff?”

And yes, you’re right. I don’t want my kids to be 35 and just realizing that cream cheese is the delicious glue that holds our entire society together. However, my mom once forced me to eat a tomato when I was six and we had a three hour standoff over it and it became a core memory and one that I tell everyone about and I still, to this day, hate tomatoes and refuse to eat them. So, that method isn’t always foolproof either.

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More importantly, I’d much rather my kids have a sane mother, a mother who is not angry and frustrated at every meal, than for them to have a diverse palate. I no longer want to be the mom who hijacks dinner over a bite of corn. Because that is what every meal was starting to feel like. A hostage situation. With exhausting and tedious negotiations. It got to the point that everyone was starting to dread meal time.

Which is why I’m taking dinner back. I want to sit around and talk about our day and laugh and joke and relax. I want breakfast to be a bonding experience and not a waterboarding experience. I want to hand them their lunch plates and when they say “I don’t want to eat that,” I simply respond “OK, just eat the other stuff” and BOOM. We move onto other things.

It’s a gamble, sure. My kids will likely end up with scurvy. But then again, pretty much all of parenthood is one giant gamble, isn’t it?

In the end, having a bowl of peas on the table that everyone ignores is a pretty small price to pay for wonderful memories sitting around the kitchen table with the people you love.

And besides, peas are icky.

 

Dinner.

(Based on a true…and disgusting…story)

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The Great Grilled Cheese Meltdown of 2017

Maybe it was because my husband has been swamped with work lately. Or maybe it was because we couldn’t find a babysitter so I could join him at a company Christmas party for a few glorious kid-free hours. Or hell, maybe because it was Tuesday…I think it was Tuesday…but really it doesn’t matter if it WAS Tuesday because the demands of motherhood never, ever stop, making the very concept of time irrelevant. And the concept of death, for that matter, since I can guarantee the kids will only visit my tombstone to ask me to refill their sippy cups and can I help them find their Batman toy?

But regardless of the reason, I had a meltdown over a grilled cheese sandwich. A flip out over the flipping of a sandwich. An existential crisis over an extraordinarily mundane dinner.  

It was all the pan’s fault. That stupid non-stick sticky pan. I should have gotten rid of it ages ago. But who wants to go pan shopping? I get 45 seconds of free time every day. Like I’m going to use it to do something necessary and grown-up and boring. Pffft.

So, since I am selfish and immature and use my free time to do outlandish things like pee and write curse words on Facebook, the grilled cheese sandwich stuck to the pan. Which destroyed the flip. Which destroyed the sandwich. Because while “technically” it was still edible, I was making it for the world’s most discerning and acid-tongued food critic in the entire world…

A preschooler.

A preschooler, mind you, who considers potatoes too exotic and spicy.  

(And that is a direct quote).

The whole reason we were HAVING grilled cheese for dinner in the first place was because it was supposed to be easy. I was tired. I didn’t want to fight about how my meatloaf smells weird and the lasagna looks like dog food.

(Also direct quotes).

And then the kids started fighting in the living room and the dog started barking at the kids because he thinks the solution to every kid-related problem is to just be louder than them (which is also pretty much my parenting method) and it just seemed like too much effort to butter some more bread and throw cheese on it and so…

I lost it.

I dramatically threw the whole mess, ruined sandwich, stupid sticky pan, any semblance of remaining dignity, into the sink and dropped to my knees right there in the kitchen and let out a primal scream. And then I cried a little. Not really a real cry but one of those “I wish someone could see me so they could feel sorry for me” cries. But still, it did include real tears so if you HAD seen me, you’d probably feel a little sorry for me.

And then, as I knelt there on the floor and looked around, I realized, with the clarity that comes after the release of intense emotions, that the pan is just one of the thousand items in my house that have completely lost their usefulness and are skating along the thin ice of their former reputation. Because my whole life is out of control. Because children are tornadoes of pure love and pure chaos.

And that’s why there is a case of Stella Artois beer bottles sitting in an obscure corner of our kitchen that has been there so long I’m pretty sure it’s essential to the structural integrity of our house now. The beer that was bought because hey, let’s try something new. And the beer that was abandoned because, hey, it tastes like alcoholic boogers.

Or the tupperware full of used batteries that I can’t get rid of because I want to properly and responsibly dispose of them but I don’t know how to properly and responsibly dispose of them and also don’t want to bother looking up how to properly and responsibly dispose of them.

Or the ever growing pile of Swiffer sweepers in yet another corner, only one of which isn’t broken, which is also coincidentally the one I can never find.

I need to get rid of all this stuff. Gain control. Any control. And I try to. Especially every year at this time. Because while I can blissfully ignore it the rest of the year, the thought of Christmas coming up and all the shiny new things that will be lovingly piled on top of all our old crap makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a candy cane.

But Aprill, you might be thinking, couldn’t at least part of the solution to your problem be to just ask for a pan for Christmas? And, yes, you’re right. But no. Ew. Gross. Why should my Christmas be ruined with a practical gift when I can so easily just buy a new pan myself?

Which I will totally do.

Eventually.

Maybe after the Big Omelet Breakdown of 2018.

Or the Pancake Freakout of 2019.

Or the Even Greater Grilled Cheese Meltdown of 2025.

To be honest, I’m probably going to be buried with that stupid pan and that ancient case of Stella beer.

But hey, at least my ghostly essence will have something to refill my kids’ sippy cups with when they come visit the cemetery. I’ll even throw some used batteries at them for their stupid Batman toy.

 

Stupider things

Here is the thing they never tell you about being a parent (or at least not in an official pamphlet form): Once you get to a certain point, past the “oh god, I just really need both of us to survive this” stage, you will spend the majority of your parenting time arguing.

Arguing about very stupid things.

For example, say you buy your small child a sprinkled donut. Because he INSISTS he wants a sprinkled donut. But then he hands it back to you and wants you to take off all the sprinkles. All the sprinkles off the sprinkled donut that he REALLY TRULY wanted. Because he apparently only likes the ghostly essence of sprinkles on a sprinkled donut.

Because 3-year-old logic.

Now, as a parent, you have several options here.

You could flat-out refuse, because it’s a ridiculous request. Which will likely lead to a stupid argument and end in a tantrum (yours or his).

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You could try to reason with him. Which will likely lead to a stupid argument and end in a tantrum (again, yours or his or, let’s be honest, both).

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And lastly, you could just shut up and do it. Which means every time you get donuts now, he will ask for a sprinkled donut and ask you to take off all the sprinkles. Which means, six months from now, you will likely have a mental breakdown as you are scraping sprinkles off the 27th donut, and while you are busy rocking back and forth in the corner, sucking your thumb and sobbing, your small child will turn to his father and ask HIM to take off the sprinkles. Which Daddy will likely refuse to do (because he’s not an idiot). Which will lead to an argument and a tantrum as they are driving you to the nearest asylum.

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Sigh. In case it wasn’t already clear, there are no winners in these kinds of scenarios. Only survivors.

And yes, I know. Hey, man, with kids, you have to pick your battles. But that’s the thing. I already am picking my battles. Which is how he won the stupid pizza argument.

What’s the stupid pizza argument? So glad you asked. The stupid pizza argument began because my 3-year-old claims to LOVE pizza. But what he really means is he loves pizza crust. And only the crust. If there is even the tiniest remnant of cheese or sauce or anything that actually makes a pizza a pizza, on that pizza crust, he will hand it back and ask you to remove it. It doesn’t matter if your big ‘ol dumb adult eyes can’t see this alleged speck of sauce. You are to remove it. All of it. And he will hand it back to you over and over again until not even one of those nerds on one of those CSI shows could find trace elements of sauce.

I know, I know. Ha! Ha! Kids, huh? They’re so funny with their weird quirks. But wait! There’s more! Because once the pizza crust has been professionally picked clean, he will then proceed to dip it into a small bowl of pizza sauce.

PIZZA. SAUCE.

No matter how much I explain the irony, my son doesn’t get it. So, do we go through this whole ritual every single time we have pizza? You bet your happy ass we do.

Because you have to pick your battles.

But you can’t always give in either. Because then they know that they own you, which, sure, doesn’t seem that bad now. But wait until they’re 17 and you’re having the stupid “being a dj is not a career” argument and they won’t listen to you because you decided when they were three that it was just easier to pick the sprinkles off the goddamn donut.

Which is why you simply can’t give in during the stupid “stop saying shut up” argument even though you know how stupid it is and even though everyone is staring at you because you are the crazy person yelling at your son to shut up about saying shut up because only grown ups can say shut up so knock it off and shut up because I am gradually going insane and so many brain cells are committing suicide right now.

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And so, in conclusion, alcohol is terrific.

Cheers.

 

Giving thanks for this dumpster fire of a year

I don’t know about you guys but, for me, this has been one doozy of a year. Trying to juggle two small children and marriage and jobs and deadlines and ever-rising bills and the tattered remains of my social life, all while being chronically sleep deprived and all while the outside world appears to be crumbling around us, has taken its toll.

I’m tired, ya’ll.

And disillusioned.

And anxious and overwhelmed and whatever emotion that googly-eyed emoji face is supposed to portray.

And yet, at the same time, I’m also blissfully happy in those in-between moments, when I turn off the TV and my phone, and remember to actually live my life and look my family in the face and kiss my husband and squeeze my little squishies until they giggle so hard they fart.

Welcome to 2017.

But that’s the great thing about Thanksgiving. No matter what kind of year you’ve had, you can always find something to be grateful for, even if it’s just the little things in those in-between moments.

Like tiny, little, giggle-induced, baby farts.

And with that I present what I am thankful for this year:

 

  1. That I have two beautiful, healthy children…who are napping right now.
  2. That I have a smoking hot husband…who is napping right now.
  3. That because everyone is napping right now, I can get the good, expensive chocolate out from its secret hiding place and eat it in the open.
  4. That my smoking hot husband will take care of our two beautiful, healthy and unreasonably energetic children while I drink wine in the kitchen cook the Thanksgiving dinner.
  5. That the chances are high I can convince that same husband to stick his hand up the giant turkey’s butt and take out the gross innards so I don’t have to.
  6. That we already bought all the food we need for Thursday and don’t have to get in a slap fight with an old lady at the grocery store over the last of the cream cheese.
  7. That no one in my family likes sweet potatoes so I don’t have to bother making sweet potatoes because sweet potatoes are garbage.
  8. That even though we can’t have a big Thanksgiving with all our family, since both mine and his live far away, this in turn means we can wear sweatpants to dinner.
  9. That I am healthy. Except for this weird rash on my neck. And that other weird bump on my wrist. And that thing where my legs randomly go numb. I’m sure it’s fine.
  10. On a related note, I’m grateful that we can still afford health insurance for the time being.
  11. On another related note, that I have never taken health or life advice from Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop.
  12. That even though we are living in the darkest of all possible timelines, coffee still exists.
  13. As does wine.
  14. And rum.
  15. That my son’s fall soccer league finally ended and I no longer have to pretend that soccer is awesome or fun.
  16. That my husband bought bathtub crayons for our kids, which we adults use to write dirty messages to each other in the shower.
  17. That I have wonderful, amazing friends. Who I rarely see. Or talk to. But when I do, also love to curse an obscene amount.
  18. That the season of letting my kids just wear footie pajamas all day is finally upon us.
  19. That now that I’m a grown-up I can just have mozzarella sticks for dinner but insist my children eat all of their green beans.
  20. That through it all, I’m still here, chugging along, still writing and still trying to find the humor where I can.

How to get your kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner

I have mentioned many times in this particular column of mine that I love Thanksgiving. The holiday that asks nothing of you besides gluttony and drunkenness. I don’t even mind that I’m now the one in charge of the cooking, because in the end it all leads to the gluttony and drunkenness. Plus, I found a recipe for deep-fried stuffing balls that has completely changed the entire Thanksgiving game, if not my entire life.

What I don’t love, however, is being the parent of small children at Thanksgiving. Because after spending eight hours cooking, the last thing I want to do is spend another eight hours negotiating with tiny picky dictators about trying the food I just lovingly poured my heart and soul into. Not even eating the food, mind you. Just trying one microscopic bite. A bite so small that technically it shouldn’t exist according to current laws of physics.

But no matter how delicious everything is, no matter how much it has been bathed in practically pornographic amounts of butter and lard, no matter how kid-friendly I attempt to make everything, my children will take one look at their plate and immediately start howling about the disgusting mush of dog poop and gravel I apparently just set in front of them.

True story. This is the conversation I had with my not quite 3-year-old last year:

“I can’t eat this, Mommy. It’s gross.”

“Which part is gross, baby?”

“All of it.”

Ah, music to an exhausted and slightly drunk Thanksgiving cook’s ears.

He doesn’t even like mashed potatoes, which I didn’t even know was humanly possible.  

And this year, his younger sister just learned how to shriek “No!” so it should be a beautiful dinnertime duet of denial this time around.

But I decided that after last year, which ended with a tantrum (and my toddler was crying too) and an exclamation of “oh, just eat a stupid roll,” that I would do things differently this year. I would come prepared this year. I would WIN this year.

Which is why since March I have been brainstorming ideas on how I can get my kids to eat my Thanksgiving food without tears and fighting and threats (or at the very least, only minimal threats). And I am here to share my wisdom. Because, according to my research, it’s not impossible to get even the pickiest of kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner; it just takes a little ingenuity.

So, here are your Aunty Aprill’s tips for tricking getting your kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner:

Mold the mashed potatoes into an elaborate statue of a Mickey Mouse.

Tell them sweet potatoes are potatoes made with candy.

This one is rather labor intensive, but if you can, puree some turkey and stuffing and then, using a syringe, stuff some M&M’s with the puree.

Hire a playground bully to stand menacingly in the corner and glare at them until they take three BIG bites of the three bean salad.

Tell them Christmas won’t come unless they eat everything on their plate.

Instead of a turkey, mold some mac and cheese into the shape of a turkey (but the GOOD kind from a box, none of that fancy, homemade, gourmet cheese sauce crap).

Don’t feed them for three days beforehand. Who’s brussel sprouts sauteed with butter and bacon are icky now, starving peasant child?

A less severe version of the above tip: Only feed them peas and water three days beforehand.

Tell them that Elmo made the cranberry sauce.

Pour melted chocolate over their entire plate.

Use sibling rivalry to your advantage. Whoever eats the most turkey gets the most Christmas presents.

Only serve rolls with butter. Or, if they’re really picky, only serve butter.

And, if all else fails, just drink wine until you don’t care what anyone eats.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!