Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Real Food? Really, Mom!

I've pondered this question for a while, usually while I'm walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store, trying to find things that I feel good about feeding my family.

And the truth is, there's very little that I actually buy in the stores that leaves me with a warm, nurturing feeling.  I read labels...looking for words like "natural" and "organic."  Or labels telling me what that food does NOT contain, the latest catch phrase being "no high fructose corn syrup."

When my kids were born, I believed in breastfeeding.  It worked for two of them, and was a complete flop with one.  I won't tell you which of my children was on formula from day one and which one would still be nursing if I allowed it, but I will say that the sickest child with the most ear infections never had a drop of formula, and the formula baby has been one little healthy whiz kid!  Like everything else under the parenting heading, I would never impose my beliefs on anyone else or judge anyone's decisions....what works for one mom doesn't work for another.   But I believed in breastfeeding because it just seemed so...natural.  It was real food.  The original organic milk!

Then when my babies moved on to "real food"...that's exactly what I wanted to give them.  Real food. I remember looking at a jar of bananas, reading all the ingredients and thinking to myself....hmmm....shouldn't bananas only have ONE ingredient?  Like, I don't know, maybe....BANANAS!  So from that point on when I wanted to feed them bananas, I grabbed one out of the basket, broke it into a bowl, mashed it with a fork, mixed it with a little milk if it wasn't mushy enough, and fed it to them.  Voila.  Bananas!  For other foods, I simply cooked (steamed actually) any vegetables, fruit or meats that I wanted them to have, tossed it into the Vita-Mix (don't even get me started on how much I love my Vita-Mix.  Don't even.) and served up some tasty, fresh and real food. And it wasn't that hard!  In fact, I would cook most of it on the weekends (because I was still working) and freeze it for the week.

But then the kids got a little older and discovered new foods.  Some that I bought.  Some they tasted elsewhere.  But fast forward a few years to the present and it seems that the bulk of their diets is coming from something in a box.  Or a package.   Recently, as I watched my son eat a "pop tart" (not the real deal but one that I begrudgingly bought only because it was "organic"...and, while I'm here let me just say that organic is NOT always synonymous with healthy!) I had this conversation with him:

Him:  I loooooooove pop tarts.  They're the BEST.

Me:  They're gross.  They are full of sugar and who knows what else.  They aren't even real food.  You know they'd probably stay good as new on that pantry shelf until you leave for college.

Him:  Well, then, I'll take them with me because they're really good.

I've tried to tell myself that I ate pop tarts as a kid and I'm fine, so I hate to deprive my kids because...well let's be honest here....they are good!  And I love a big handful of Doritos as much as the next gal.  And sometimes I honestly crave coca-cola (especially with a little 'somepin 'somepin in it).

But something deep within me is completely troubled every time I bring that stuff into my home and feed it to my family.  For me, it just doesn't feel right.  Aside from the fact that I easily drop $100+ at the store each time to fill my cabinets with fake food,  I just feel rotten when we eat it.  On the other hand, I can go to the farmer's market and walk away with a tremendous amount of food for a fraction of the cost, and feel great about it.  I love looking at it....preparing it...eating it....and I love watching my family eat it.  Because I know where it came from.  I know how it was made.  And I know what's in it.

So here's where I am now.  I don't want to be wasteful and throw away everything in my cabinets.  But when it's gone, it's gone.  Those pop tarts' days are numbered.


My plan:  If I can't buy it at the farmer's market, or at a neighboring farm, we probably don't need it.  I'm going to make as much on my own that I can.  Obviously I'll need to buy some things at the store....for instance, I  have a bread machine and love making my own bread, but I don't see me grinding my own wheat.  I also have a yogurt maker and have been making my own yogurt for a couple of years now.  Now if I could only come up with some cute, fun little tubes to put it in so the kids would get excited about eating it.  If not, they can eat it from a bowl like we did in the olden days.  They can pretend they live on a prairie.

"They" say that you should shop around the perimeter of the store when you shop because there's isn't much on the aisles you should buy.  I think a better philosophy is to stay out of the store as long as possible, but when you do go, buy real food with ingredients you recognize.  And like Michael Pollan says, buy only foods that your great-grandmother would recognize as food.  For me that would include - just to name a few- coffee, sugar, flour, oil and coca-cola (once in a blue moon).  'Cause maybe I have 'somepin to go in it.

Just keeping it real.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Camp Crazy

So I just returned from a week in the North Georgia mountains.  In a cabin.  A mile up a mountain.  With four little ones ages 3, 4, 5, and 6.  The older three (my two and their cousin) went to a week long day camp at Lake Burton.  Sort of a looksey camp to check things out before they are old enough to be pushed out of the car door at 5 mph as we deposit them for a child free week  to experience the joy of overnight camp life starting next summer.

They're really cute.  See?

This picture was taken outside of the cabin the first morning of camp.  My brother (which would be my nephew's father...just making sure you're still with me) and I drove them to the camp this first morning.  All the kids could talk about on the 1/2 hour drive was how much fun they were going to have and that they couldn't wait to do archery and riflery, neither activity of which I would want to be the counselor in charge of 5 and 6 year olds.  With guns.  And pointy sharp sticks.  But thankfully that wasn't my problem that week.  In fact, I anticipated that my only problem with these three darlings would be getting them fed fast enough before their heads collapsed into their mashed potatoes.

My brother and I spent the 1/2 hour return trip talking about what we were going to do with all our free time that night after the kids fell asleep.  All we could talk about was how "dead" they would be....we used a lot of words like "exhausted"...."passed out".....and "comatose."  We figured we'd be scooping them up from the dinner table, pulling off shoes and depositing them into beds at around 7pm.  Which should leave us adults plenty of time to enjoy a nice dinner, drink some wine, listen to some music, maybe watch a cards....whatever.

And I planned to run Stuart to death all day so he'd be just as tired and join the rest of them for the long sleep.

It was a beautiful plan.

Then we picked them up.

And they came walking out with Coca Cola's and M&M's.


I don't think my kids have ever tasted Coca Cola.  But they proclaimed a deep love and undying affection for the stuff the moment they got in the car and William told me he didn't know how he'd ever lived without it.

After the M&M's and before we even made it back to the cabin, they were sharing Airheads, lollipops and circus peanuts.  All compliments of Camp.

We spent the next four hours trying to peel them off of the ceilings and walls.

By the time we finally rounded them up, fed them a decent dinner, put them in the bathtub and threatened to beat them asked them nicely to please go to sleep, it was nearly time to get up and do it all again the next morning.  And that was just the first day.

There were four more just like it.

By Friday morning I simply bypassed the cup and injected the coffee directly into my arm.  Kidding!  And did the same thing at night with the wine.  Kidding again!  (maybe).

I have more pictures to post, but I'm still curled up in the fetal position in the corner of my bedroom after the six hour road trip through rural Georgia Friday afternoon with the kids, all by myself.

If you haven't heard from me in a couple of days, go ahead and call the men in white coats.

It's really inevitable, y'all.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Three....Four....What's the Difference?

I've always heard people say (people who have at least four children) that four is really no harder than three.  Of course those people lied to me who told me that three was no harder than two because I'm about to let you in on a little secret...

IT IS!!!

Much, much harder.  You're outnumbered, outwitted, they can all run faster than you and you'll never eat a hot meal again.  But I digress.

Over the weekend my five-year-old nephew was in town, so we had four children under one roof, ages 3, 4, 5, and 6.

And it was seriously O.K.


It was like Lionel Ritchie, "All Night Long"....but it was Ok!

So for any of my blogging partners readers out there considering number four, I say go for it!  I cute is this?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The One Where I Took All the Kids To the Doctor....

and then to Wal-mart.

Because it wasn't punishing enough (for me) to stop after the Doctor's visit.  I just had to go to Wal-mart.

Just had to.

Wal-mart.  With all of them.  After two of them had gotten shots.

I mean, on a perfect day when everyone is well rested, in great moods, smothering one another in brotherly love and we have little blue birds flying around our heads because it's such a zippidee-do-dah beautiful day, Wal-mart with my three is just shy of a full blown nightmare.

At one point they had all climbed into the buggy, which left just enough room for me to put some dental floss and one banana in the cart.  So I had to pull at least one of them out.  The one I really needed to stay in there was the very one who decided he no longer wanted to be a for the rest of the shopping trip he ran circles around the cart, singing very loudly, "I'm running...I'm running....I'm running all around."    I felt much like BP....all efforts to contain this massive spill of three-year-old energy failed.

Then of course they want everything....ev-er-y-thing....they see.  Our rule is that if they ask for something and I tell them no, they say "yes m'am."  They don't argue with me, whine about it, or ask a second time.  And for the most part, they follow that rule.  But MERCY it gets old when they ask for everything from popsicles to tampons (yes that has happened) and everything in between.  It gets to the point that I just issue a pre-emptive "no" with every breath.  I think I'll make a sign and just wear it around my neck next time.

If there is a next time.

Invariably, after each Wal-mart trip, once I've recovered from the post traumatic stress disorder, I suffer a severe case of amnesia because  for some inexplicable reason I bring myself to do it again.

And again.

We were home by noon today and everyone down for naps by 12:10.  Quittin' time can't come soon enough.