Thursday, October 02, 2014

Tips for Parents Dealing With Picky Eaters or How to Get Your Kid to Eat...Something.

1. Speak french all the time. Play "La Vie en Rose" on a loop and wear jaunty neck scarves whenever you are around your child. Prepare elaborate, cream-sodden, multi-course meals each night and drink as much red wine as possible. At the very least, after this much effort you should be able to get your kid to at least take a bite of a chocolate croissant and at least you get wine. If all else fails, you could just move to France because everyone over there is perfect and immediately upon arrival on french soil your jeune fille will be eating aubergine and betterave and channeling her inner Amelie.

2. Plant a large, organic vegetable garden with your little one. Children enjoy digging in the dirt and seeing where vegetables come from. After hours of backbreaking labor, a fortune spent on seeds, compost and god knows what else, this method is guaranteed to get your child to eat...dirt. While gardening your kid will definitely eat some dirt. And possibly a snail he found while playing in the mud while you attempt to prune your zucchini, but that's great because ESCARGOT! See #1 again. Escargot are french.

3. Do not engage in power struggles with your child over food. Mainly because you will lose. Every. Single. Time. You are powerless over mac and cheese from a box, frozen waffles and gummi anything.

4. Leave your children at someone else's house for a brief time. They may shriek with terror and act like you are trying to poison them if you so much as offer a single green pea but for your sister? They'll gladly eat marrow braised broccolini with sea urchin beurre blanc. They do this to screw with your head. They think it's hysterical when your sister says: "I don't know why you think they're so picky. They ALWAYS eat for me."

5. Take your pre-schooler for a ride in the car. Guaranteed he or she will find an entire meal of stale, half-crushed goldfish, old Cheerios and lint-covered fruit snacks in the crevices of the car seat and chow down. 

6. Let your child help you prepare a meal. Children love to assist in the kitchen and after you spend a whole night in the ER (relax, she only got 3 stitches from the paring knife, could've been worse) you'll both be starving and you can stop at the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru on the way home. Your kid will exclaim with glee "Mommy! Can we cook together more often? Stitches were totally worth getting to have chicken nuggets and waffle fries!"

7. Never use dessert as a reward. Serve them dessert at the same time as their meal and let your young one moderate his or her own food choices. This method really works if you want your kid to eat. He or she will definitely eat. The dessert. The kale will remain untouched but the vanilla pound cake with strawberry frosting will be gone in less than thirty seconds. Remember that old Bill Cosby routine about chocolate cake being healthy because it has grain, milk and eggs? Yeah. Go with that. Bill Cosby is a wise man.

8. Small children love dips. Customizing their food gives them a sense of control! It also ensures that at some point you will utter the phrases: "Ranch dressing isn't a beverage!!" and "That hummus is NOT hand lotion!!" But ranch is kind of nutritious, right?

9. Make a tasty nibbler tray! Spend an hour carving several healthy vegetables and fruits into fun shapes and adorable cut outs. Arrange them beautifully in an ice cube tray (does anyone have those anymore??) and set it out where your youngster can graze as he plays. On crayons, sticker paper and pretty much everything in the general vicinity of the tasty nibbler tray EXCEPT what is in the tasty nibbler tray.

10. Get a cat or a dog. Pets are great for children and playing with a beloved animal will help them work up an appetite. Kids simply can't resist a nice bowl of cat or dog crunchies, especially if they've been sitting out for several hours and have lots of dog slobber and pet hair stuck to them. Kibble is even better when dipped in the pet's water dish. Fear not, have you seen the ingredients in pet food these days? Salmon? Brown Rice? Kale? Omega 3s? Shoot, they even make GLUTEN FREE cat food now.

11. Don't give up. Keep presenting unwanted vegetables to your children and eventually they will become familiar treats. Of course by then your kids will be 19 and away in college and said vegetables will be offered by Hare Krishnas at their free vegetarian dinners, but whatever. Hare Rama. Your son and daughter finally ate some broccoli and cabbage. They're vegans now too and so what if they're wearing bindis and smell like Nag Champa and are threatening to follow a jam band around the country? You've done your job, Mom. Just look at them tearing up those veggie burritos.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Stop Being An Asshole on The Internet

I guess it's safe to say that last week I had a post go viral and while I have experienced some small degree of Internet success before, this was like nothing that had ever previously happened.

It got so crazy that a friend actually messaged me and said she was worried about me. I reassured her that I was fine.

"But the comments!" she said.

"I ignore them," I told her.

Because I do. And so should you. And you and you too.

Trust me, I get that this can be extremely difficult. For like the first fifteen minutes of my article being viral I was truly tempted to read and respond to comments but then my better sense took hold and I went and played with my daughter and convinced myself that none of it existed. Because honestly? It doesn't.

Comments on the Internet aren't real. They don't matter. They rarely (if ever) make any actual difference in our lives unless, of course, we let them. They are like the noise of a traffic jam. Picture yourself trapped on a giant, crowded parking lot of a freeway in Los Angeles during rush hour in a rainstorm where everyone has road rage and PMS and probably caffeine withdrawal too all at once. Imagine the sounds of the honking horns, the yelling, the skidding and braking, tires squealing. But also imagine yourself safe inside your car, ignoring the noise, turning up some NPR and waiting it out. That's what you have to do with comments on the Internet, be they on facebook, in a forum or a Facebook group, the comments section of a blog post or any other form of online communication. 

The opinions of total strangers are inconsequential. They are to be taken in stride. A lot of them are seriously bat shit crazy. Case in point: someone managed to somehow, God help them, make my back to school post about the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. I kid you not. That takes some skill. This person was like an advanced level Internet troll to make a leap like that. I was sort of impressed.

Last week my article ended up on the Huffington Post and I was so excited. Having a piece on there has been a long term career goal of mine and I was prepared. My friends started calling me up and asking me if I had seen the comments on there and oh my God people were calling me names!!!

I never read a single one of them. I don't really care if people were calling me names because first of all these people are strangers, their behavior reflects more poorly on them than it ever could on me and I just don't care.

The first rule of fight club, I mean writing for Huffington or any other big online publication is "NEVER READ THE COMMENTS."

You know those jail scenes in movies where someone has to walk through a corridor of cells and the prisoners inside are all going totally ape shit yelling and screaming, spitting, throwing poop and hurling insults? That's Huffington's comment section and you've got to walk through there unscathed, pretending none of it exists. Don't dare engage with the rioters or someone's going to reach out through the bars and wipe his jizz on you. Do not make eye contact with the prisoners under any circumstances.

That's how I maintain my sanity most of the time, but although I have a pretty much iron will about this sort of thing, it can still be hard, and my experience last week has me thinking.

We all need to stop being such assholes on the Internet.

But, duh. That's kind of obvious, right? I think we all know this already as it applies to others, but not to ourselves. So I decided to make a handy guide.

Are You Being An Asshole on the Internet?

1. Are you arguing with a total stranger?

2. Are you mad because someone on the Internet is wrong?

3. Did you read something that pissed you off on the Internet and decide that you needed to respond to it immediately? Like NOW.

4. Were you personally offended by something someone else said or did on the Internet?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions you need to get off of the computer immediately, get a popsicle and go outside and no, you can't bring your phone. You need a break. You are most likely being an asshole on the Internet. If you look up you might see the underside of a bridge because you could very well be a troll.

If you have determined (as hard as it is to admit) that you are at risk for being an asshole on the Internet, please read the following words of advice.

How to Stop Being an Asshole on the Internet

1. Take a deep breath. Step away from the computer or phone or whatever freaking device you are using to be an asshole on the Internet.

2. Gain some perspective. There are many many people in the world who have different opinions than you and that is okay. There are people with different aesthetic preferences, different ideas of what is funny, different thresholds for finding things offensive and different backgrounds that all contributed to their differing worldviews. And we are all going to be okay in spite of this. 

3. You aren't going to change anyone's mind by arguing with them on Facebook or in a comments section. I know this is a hard truth to bear, but suck it up and face the facts. Arguing never convinces anyone. It just makes them more mad and more defensive.

4. Pointing out that someone else is wrong doesn't automatically make you right.

5. If you really want to change people's minds and opinions, don't worry about them at all. Live your own best life and be a role model. For example, if you are a vegan animal rights activist, instead of shaming meat eaters and arguing and calling them all murderers, how about let them taste your yummy vegan food? Let them see how healthy your glow is and how great you feel. Then when they ask your secret, tell them it's because you don't eat animal products and leave it at that. If they ask about it, answer their questions. And if they don't ever ask and keep eating steaks? Who cares? Keep doing the thing you love and feel is best for you.

6. Many of the bloodiest Internet arguments I've seen have been between parents with different views on how to best raise kids. Let me end this shit right now. First, kids are pretty resilient. The fact that I survived my childhood and grew up to write this post is testament to that. Second, there's a very wide margin of error in child raising. If children are loved, fed and sheltered they're pretty much going to be okay. If you are really worried about the well being of children then take your smug ass of the computer and save the kids who actually need it, you know, the ones who live in poverty and abuse in our inner-cities and impoverished rural areas. Help the kids who live in shelters, the kids whose mothers' boyfriends beat the crap out of them, the kids who have no access to fresh fruits and have to eat a bag of Cheetos for dinner. Stop bitching out some bedraggled, middle class mom with a blog who stopped breastfeeding after a week and switched to formula and channel your venom into fixing a world where children in the projects actually choke to death on cockroaches. How about that?

7. We are all on our own paths in life. We learn at our own pace through different experiences. Many people's belief systems, especially the ones you think are really messed up, were cemented at a young age. Many people believe the things they do because they were born into certain belief systems. Often, we inherit our opinions from our cultures, religions and families. Sometimes our beliefs are sealed by fear. Some people will be able to change their minds and others won't. That's just the way it goes and you and your online raving isn't going to make much of a dent, so have compassion and try to put yourself in someone else's position, imagining how or why they believe what they do and then leave it alone.

8. Go do something fun. Please. Get out of the house and engage in some real-life, face to face positive human interaction.

9. Make this your new mantra: Just because someone says something doesn't make it true. 

 10. In the event that you have posted something on the Internet which has inspired comments understand this: no matter what it is, 1/3 of people will love it, 1/3 will be indifferent and 1/3 will hate it. Out of the 1/3 that hate it, a significant portion is likely to
be insane. It's not personal. It's kind of a numbers game and you can't please everyone.

11. By next week the people you're arguing with are likely to have completely forgotten you anyway so who cares?

12. Your opinion, rant, diatribe, etc. ultimately doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. If you are passionate about a topic then go out and actually do something. Take action. You might think that commenting is taking action but it's not. It can be the start of action in the best possible scenario, but usually it isn't.

13. When you bitch someone out, call them names, wish ill will to the mothers of people you have never met and will never meet, you are, alas, only reflecting poorly upon yourself and not the other person. How you act and what you say is always only about you. 

14. Audrey Hepburn, the embodiment of grace and class would never have sat behind her keyboard for three hours calling a woman in Nebraska a stupid, twat-licking whore. I'm sorry, but it never would have happened. So before you type, take a moment to ask yourself "Would Audrey Hepburn have said this?" And if the answer is no, which it probably will be, then don't say it. Move on. Be elegant and eloquent like Audrey.

15. Have some ice cream (and yes, I am aware that by including this that someone somewhere is going to read it and blame me for furthering the obesity epidemic and I am fine with that.)

16. And for the love of God, if after all this you still feel you must insult someone or express your distaste for something someone has written, please proofread and check your spelling. Okay?
Friday, August 29, 2014

Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi by Brian Leaf: Book Review!

This post contains affiliate links and I was sent a free book in return for a review (except I was totally going to buy and review this book anyway).

Last summer I discovered, read and
absolutely loved Brian Leaf's first memoir Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness . You can imagine how excited I was when I found out that he had a new book coming out this year! I love when I don't have to wait forever in between the books of my favorite authors.

Turns out that Mr. Leaf and I have both written for and that we had a lot in common. He even accepted my friend request on Facebook, woohoo. So I was extra excited to receive a free copy of his new book Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi: Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting , which, yes, I was going to buy and review anyway.

In his first book, Brian Leaf writes about how debilitating stomach problems led him to discover yoga and Ayurveda. The book is hilarious, quirky and talks a lot about poop, all the things I love and the second memoir, about his take on mindful/ holistic parenting is equally great.

What really makes this book stand out is Leaf's humor, self-deprecating wit and his friendly, familiar writing voice. For me, a lot of the information in the book was probably "preaching to the choir" but I was fine with that. I most enjoyed Leaf's personal anecdotes and parenting disasters and reading about how much he adores and respects his wife is truly heartening. I love the advice he gives on playful and free-range parenting (two things I really support) and I can honestly say that I used some of the suggestions in this book when my daughter was acting like she needed an exorcist and they worked. Her head immediately stopped spinning. No joke.

Do I agree with everything in here? No, of course not. I'm not quite to the level of earthy crunchy as the Leaf family, but that's okay. We all parent differently and our children are all loved and cared for and that's what's nice about this book. You won't feel judged if you don't practice elimination communication or if you are not an "intactivist" who has had an orgasmic home birth (so not me). Leaf advocates for those things, but his total lack of smugness about them is really refreshing. This is the kind of book that no matter what your parenting philosophy happens to be, that you can still take away some excellent advice, new tips and a lot of laughs. 
Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to School: The 70s vs. Today, A Lot has Changed

Back to School in the 70s

1. Take the kids downtown to go shopping at Sears for back to school clothes the last week of August. Get everyone a new pair of corduroys and a striped tee shirt. Buy the boys a pair of dungarees and the girls a pair of culottes. No, Jennifer, you can't have that orange and red poncho. Promise you will crochet her a better one with much more fringe. Get the girls a package of that rainbow, fuzzy yarn they like in their hair. You are done. You have spent a total of $43.00. Now take everyone to the Woolworth's lunch counter for grilled cheeses and chocolate milk.

2. On the night before the first day of school (that would be the Sunday night after Labor Day, of course, you know, mid-September) throw the kids in the way back of the station wagon and drag them downtown to Eckerds, K-Mart, Ames, Dollar General, Drug Fair or the like and hurry them over to the back-to-school area to pick out a lunchbox. Make sure to tell them get a move on because you don't have all night for them to make a damn decision. They need to get in bed by eight and yes, they're going to miss the Wonderful World of Disney if they can't decide between The Fonz and Dukes of Hazzard. Good Lord, why is it so hard for them to pick? Tell Kimberly if she can't make up her mind between Holly Hobbie and The Bionic Woman then you're going to pick Pigs in Space and you don't want to hear another word about it until June. Grab a composition book for each of them and a pack of pencils too. That's all they need. Remember to save some grocery bags so they can cover their textbooks with them after the first day of school.

3. Buy yourself a pack of Virginia Slims on the way out and smoke three of them on the way home.

4. Get up in the morning and make yourself a cup of Sanka with Sweet 'n' Low. Line up all the lunchboxes on the formica counter top in your kitchen. Open up a bag of Wonder Bread and do this assembly line style.

5. Spread yellow mustard on bread. Slap baloney on bread. Unwrap American cheese slices and put on top of baloney. Put top on the sandwich and wrap sandwich in tin foil or wax paper. Put it in the lunchbox. Every kid gets the same exact lunch. Period.

6. Alternate sandwich choices could include: peanut butter and grape jelly, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, the end of last night's leftover roast beef or the ever popular with children tuna fish with large chunks of onions and celery and Miracle Whip.

7. Put some Planter's Cheese Balls into a baggie and close with a twist tie.

8. Take Twinkies out of the box. Put one in each child's lunch box.

9. Fill Thermoses with either Kool-Aid or whole milk.

10. Include a red delicious apple even though you know that damned apple is just going to come home uneaten again, which is fine because you can keep adding the same one until it practically rots.

11. Close the lunchboxes. You're done. Go put some Barry Manilow on the record player and celebrate that your kids are out of the house until dinner time. They'll grab them, along with a frosted, dutch apple Pop-Tart on the way out the door as they walk a half mile down the road to get to the bus stop.

Back to School 2014

1. Take five deep breaths and say a positive affirmation. School begins in two weeks. It is the middle of July. Don't worry, you still have time to order BPA-free bento boxes and authentic Indian tiffins made with special stainless steel that did not involve any child-labor, sweat shops or animal cruelty. Remember, you have Amazon Prime. You can get the free two day shipping and you will have plenty of time to read reviews and make this very important decision because your kids are in summer "camp" which is actually just another word for school in the summer because OH MY GOD you were so tired that day you had to have them home all day with you and you couldn't go to your restorative flow class at yoga. And that was also the day something went terribly wrong with the homemade glitter cloud dough recipe that was supposed to go in their sensory bin and the very same day that they were out of soy milk at Starbucks and you had to immediately email corporate to let them know that duh, they should actually be selling almond milk and/ or coconut milk. Get with it Starbucks. Soy is so 90s.  Ugh, but you digress. The tiffin. The bento boxes...

2. One Week Later: The bento boxes and tiffins have arrived. So has your childrens' school's annual list of school supplies that you must purchase and deliver. It is three and a half pages long.  It includes a ten pound bag of flour and several cleaning products and also requests a Costco-sized package of toilet paper.

3. Begin frantic online search for backpacks and school bags made from all natural materials yet still "cool." Have them monogrammed.

4. Take kids shopping at the mall for new school clothes. Buy them each a completely new wardrobe from Gymboree and Crew Cuts. Spend $2,387.07 on your credit card.

5. Take children to the child psychologist to prepare them mentally for the difficult transition to a new grade, new teacher and new classroom.

6. Intently study the allergy list the school has sent you which lists all the items that other children in your children's classes are allergic to and thus cannot be sent in your child's lunch either. This is extremely stressful because the last thing you (or anyone) wants to be responsible for is sending a second grader into anaphylactic shock. Make notes on your phone so you can remember what not to buy when you go to Whole Foods.

7.  Purchase school supplies for your children. Not to be confused with the 3 1/2 page list of classroom supplies you are also responsible for. They will need paper, pens, folders, notebooks, a calligraphy set, fifteen new apps for their tablets, a graphing calculator, a scalpel, an electron microscope and a centrifuge.

8. Go to Whole Foods to shop for school lunch items. This will take 4 hours and 15 minutes because you have to read every single label to make sure you are purchasing organic, locally sourced, non-GMO, gluten-free, allergy friendly products. You come home with tahini, bananas and a package of brown rice cakes. You somehow spent $76.19.

10. The night before the first day of school prepare the bento boxes. Fill containers with organic, local strawberries intricately cut into the shapes of  sea creatures. Include homemade, nut free granola made with certified gluten-free oats. Make a sandwich on vegan hemp bread out of tahini, kale and jicama. Form it into the shape of your child's favorite Disney character. Make flowers out of non-dairy cheese slices, olives and seaweed. Photograph the finished Bento Box and post it to Instagram.

 11. Write your child an encouraging note which includes an inspirational quote.

12. Include a sheet of stickers for good measure.

13. Fill a Siig bottle with filtered water and also include a box of chilled coconut water in the Bento Box because children can never be too hydrated. Ever.

14. Blog about this experience. Pray it goes viral and is picked up by HuffPo.

15. Get up at four in the morning on the first day of school. Make first day of school signs for each child to hold as you photograph them on the front step. Make a bunting to hang above the front door. Blow up balloons. Actually, go ahead and make a full on back to school photo booth.

16. Make pancakes in the shape of the letters of the alphabet.

17. Dress kids in coordinated outfits and spend 35 minutes posing and photographing them (with your phone).

18. Load everyone into the car to drive them to school.

19. When they are safely in their new classrooms, return to your car to cry for the next 20 minutes. But it's okay, really. You'll be back in six hours to pick them up and drive them to Synchronized Swimming, Cello and Urdu classes this afternoon. 
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Overheard at the Park - Mary Poppins, Where Are You Edition

It's been a long time since we've had a good "Overheard at the Park" and mostly that's because it's Florida in the summer, meaning that it feels like a wet furnace outside and indoor fun is far more desirable. Once October comes around maybe we'll be more inclined to venture outside more.

But still, the park exists and we still attempt to brave the heat and go and with the park in South Florida, assholes are inevitable.

Case in point:

Three Year Old: Mommy, Mommy! I need to go potty!!

Mother: Honey, please. Mommy is talking, sweetheart. Your nanny will be back from getting my Starbucks in two minutes. Can't you hold it until she gets here?

Three Year Old: But Mommy, I need to pee pee!!

Mother: Sweetie, I told you Nanny will be right back and she can take you.

Yes, folks. There you have it. A mother who cannot even take her own child to the bathroom at the park.

Don't you wish you lived here? And if anyone has the nerve to tell me I'm being judgmental, I'm going to come after you through this computer screen.
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sun Shower: Magic, Forgiveness and How I Learned to Bloom Where I Was Planted on Kindle!

I have big news!! Today is the day! My second memoir, the sequel to Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, is now out!

 Sun Shower: Magic, Forgiveness and How I Learned to Bloom Where I Was Planted is now available on Kindle!

Paperback, Nook and iBooks versions will be available soon as well.

This book picks up right where the last one left off and follows my (mis)adventures the next year.

I hope you love it!

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