Tag Archives: Food

KID COUNTDOWN: DAY 7

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I’m filling up the sink with hot water to do some dishes when Quinn says, “Let’s go swing, Dad!  C’mon!  Let’s go swiiiiing!” and I say, “Quinnie, I really need to do these dishes,” and the final word hasn’t even left my mouth before I realize the utter absurdity of this statement.  Dishes?  Dishes?!  I have to do the dishes instead of swinging with you?

Gimme a break.

“Well…” I say sheepishly.  “Maybe for just a bit.”

Outside in the back yard, Quinn hops onto the swing and Rory jumps onto the wooden horse and I push each of them in turn until they’re both pelting back and forth at heights and speeds that are beyond reasonably safe.  Quinn shouts, “Higher!  Faster!” and so I do, her head now going totally level with the top of the swing.

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I give her one final shove and she pushes away from me, reaches the precipice and the swing seems to pop and comes down with a jerk that throws her a little off balance.  It reaches its back most position, rises, rises, peaks and drops and she jolts again.  As she passes the lowest point, her feet drag on the ground and she begins to say something that sounds part “Help,” and part scream.  About three quarters of the way up, she lets go of the chains and rockets off the swing and into the air while I stand helpless.  It’s all happening so fast.

She maneuvers through the air like a clown shot from a canon and comes down hard, landing on her butt.  She shouts, “MY BUUUTTTT!!!” and I quickly pick her up and brush her off and, trying to downplay the event, I say, “Are you okay?  Sometimes that happens.  No big deal.  Can you walk?”  She says, “Yeah…” and then crawls onto the horse with Rory.

I give them a round of pushes before Rory says, “SLIDE!  SLIDE!  LET’S GO DOWN THE SLIDE!  C’MON, GUYS!”  And this is how he is at parks with strangers.  “C’mon, guys!  Follow me!  Let’s go down the slide!  C’mon!”

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ABOVE: THE KIDS PLAYING WITH ONE OF THEIR FRIENDS ON THE HORSE… THE HEADLESS HORSE… THE HEADLESS HORSE WITH NO FEET…

So I run up the slide, into the tree house and Quinn and Rory both follow suit.  Inside, Quinn spreads her hands wide open and says, “Welcome to my Little House,” and I look around and say, “I just love what you’ve done with the place,” and she says, “You want some food?” and I say, “Sure.  What have you got?”  She says, “Watermelon,” and sticks her hand into an imaginary box, pulls some out and hands it to me.  “It’s delicious!  What else have you got?” and Rory says, “MALT-O-MEAL!” and I say, “You have Malt-O-Meal up here?” and he says, “Yeah!”

So I ask for a bowl… and how about some sugar?  And some butter?  And some milk?  May I have a spoon to stir it?  Thank you very much.  And then I blow on it and taste it and it is just like my imaginary mother used to make.  I ask Rory if he wants a bite and he says, “Yes, please,” and so I tell him it’s hot and to blow on it first.  He does and eats off the invisible spoon and says, “Mmmmm…”

I ask Quinn if she wants a bite and she says, “Yes, please,” blows on the spoon and then bites my thumb.  “OW! YOU BIT ME!” and she smiles.

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ABOVE: ONCE YOU SEE THE LURKING CREEPER, YOU’LL NEVER NOT SEE HIM.

Rory asks if I want to go down the slide and I tell him we should put the Malt-O-Meal in the fridge and clean up first (the irony being that I’m more concerned about cleaning up imaginary food before play instead of actual, real life dirty dishes).  He says, “Okay,” and takes it from me and, while he’s storing it, says, “It’s gonna be cold.”  When he turns around, he seems to have forgotten about the slide and says, “I’m still hungry.  You want a jelly sandwich?” and I say, “Sure, if you’ve got jelly,” and he says, “Yeah!  I do!”

He hands me bread and he hands me jelly, which I have him open, and then he hands me a knife and I slather the bread good and then cut it into three individual pieces so we can share.  I hand one to Rory and he goes to eat it but I say, “Wait!” and he freezes.  I hand one to Quinn and she cups it in two hands, staring at it.  Finally, I pick up my own slice, so thin it’s nearly invisible, and say, “Let’s clink them.”  This exercise essentially amounts to “Cheers,” or the clinking of glasses.  I taught them the cup thing a few weeks ago and now they like to clink everything from celery to chicken.  We’ve had to instill a rule at the dinner table that there’s only one clink per meal because two clinks is considered bad luck.

I say, “Ready, set–” and we all three say, “CLINK!” and knock our sandwiches together and eat.

“That was fantastic,” I say, “But not very filling.  Do you guys want to go inside and make some mac and cheese?” and they both scream, “YEEEAAHHH!” and we all disappear down the slide, Rory first and then Quinn sitting on my lap.

Man cannot live on imaginary bread alone.

I go inside and, wouldn’t you know it, the dishes I need are dirty.

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KID COUNTDOWN: DAY 9

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I open the fridge and Rory squeezes between myself and the food, points and shouts, “Eggs!  I want eggs!  Dad, I want eggs for breakfast!” in such a frenzy that I wonder if his mother has been feeding him.  “Uh, yeah.  Eggs sound great.”  I pull out the eggs, the cheese, the jelly, the butter and some frozen meat that I throw in a bowl with warm water to try and thaw out.

Behind me, Quinn walks into the room dragging a doll in one hand and a medical briefcase filled with toy hospital supplies in the other.  She shouts “Baby’s hungry!” and I assume that she is talking about her cabbage patch and not herself in third person… but one never can tell…

I ask her if she wants eggs and she suggests cookies and I say, “How about eggs?” and she says, “Noooooo!  SEEER-EEEE-AAALL!  I want cereal, Daaaaaad!” and I say, “….you want…..eggs then?” and she goes to the cabinet and pulls out some generic brand chocolate cereal.  I stare at the bag and wonder why I’m fine giving her this but battle the cookie.  I make a mental note to purchase something made strictly of bran next time I’m at the store… something with less flavor.

Jade gets down a bowl, pours the cereal, pours the milk and Rory says, “I want cereal!” and I say, “You want eggs,” and he says, “NO!  Cereal!” and I say, “Should I make enough for both of us?  Are you going to eat cereal and eggs?” and he gets really sad, like I’m calling him fat and just stares at the table.  I say, “Rory… you can have both, I just need to know how much to make.  Do you want cereal and eggs?” and he says, “Yes.  I want cereal-” and then he stands up and shouts, “-AND EGGS!”

In a moment of pure inspiration, I fold a piece of bread in half, bite out the center, butter the edges, drop it in the pan and crack an egg into the hole; ah yes, a One Eyed Joe.  I chop up the meat, fry an onion, toss some cheese on the Joe, make some coffee, flop it all onto a plate, jelly the toast / egg concoction, do it a second time and then sit down next to Rory, who’s just finishing his cereal.

“Bone Ape-tit,” I say and chuckle, remembering the popular SNL Jeopardy sketch.  I hand him a fork and ask if he wants me to cut it up but he says, “No,” very adamantly.  I say, “Okay,” and wait for him to change his mind.  He stares at the jellied bread, pokes it once with his fork and says, “I don’t want the egg.  Take the egg out,” and I say, “Too late, pal.  The egg is hiding inside and it is (take a bite) delicious.”

He shoves the fork at me and says, “Cut it, please,” and I do.

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ABOVE: “And this alleged “missing cookie” was what color, you say?”

As Quinn nears the end of her cereal – she’s a considerably slower eater because she stops every few bites to dance (whether there is music playing or not) – I begin feeding her bites of fried onion and sausage until my plate is scraped clean.  “Dad,” she says, “Dad… I want more.  I want more eggs.  I want… One Eye Joke,” and I laugh at her mispronunciation and say, “It’s all gone.  Daddy ate it all… but you could ask Rory for some of his.”

Quinn stares at Rory, realizing her fate rests in the hands of The Monster with Many Mouths and says, “Roar…” and he sticks a chunk of food in his mouth.  “Roar, will you share?” and he sticks another chunk of food in his already full mouth.  I say, “Rory, do you want to give Quinn a bite?” and, instead of responding, he just slams his fork into a chunk of toast covered in egg, picks it up, exams it, places it back on the plate and rubs it around in jelly, having decided that it wasn’t quite up to his standards and then he lifts the fork and……. hands it to Quinn.  With a full mouth, crumbs and debris falling from his slavering maw he says, “Hee yu oh, Quee,” and she takes a big bite and says, “Tank, Roy.”

I give Rory a squeeze and I kiss his ear and I whisper, “That’s such a good boy!  Thanks for sharing!  You’re such a good sharer!  Where’d you learn to do that?  You’re so good!” and then he shoves another glob into his mouth and says, “Roy eaddin goo,” and I translate this as, “Rory eating good,” something else that we regularly applaud them for.  “That’s right!  That’s right!  You are eating good!  Eating good and sharing!  You’re a good boy!  You’re a good brother!” and then he sticks his fork back into the toast and gives Quinn another bite, back and forth, back and forth until the plate is empty and then they both go outside and play while I do dishes.

Mr. Mom.

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ABOVE: ME TRYING TO CONVINCE RORY THAT BEETS CAN’T BE BEAT!

At lunch my wife leaves to visit a friend in Burbank for the afternoon, which means I’m on kid duty solo; a daunting task for someone less experienced but I find that if I just put some frozen peanut butter in the dog’s Kong shell and toss it out in the dirt, they pretty much entertain themselves for an hour or two.

Quinn walks up to me and says, “I need a kiss, I’m going to work,” and I lean down and kiss her and say, “Gonna bring home some bacon?” and she says, “YEP!” and walks over to the jammed baby gate, blocking her from leaving the house and says, “Can you open the door for me, please?”

I laugh and suddenly my internal clock – which is typically wrong – starts telling me that 1pm (nap time) is approaching and I need to get on making lunch.  I grab my phone, flip it on and see that it’s already 1:30…. and I still have to feed them…. and make the food… and they’re not going to be in bed until 2…. oh, dear.

Ah, well!  It’s not everyday that…. I don’t know.  I try to make a reasonable excuse for how behind schedule I am but nothing comes to my mind.  Instead I just mumble something to myself about how play time is educational and then I watch as Rory tries running down the slide, trips, stumbles, falls, hits the grass and does a somersault.  He lays there for a moment before standing up and holding his head, checking for blood.

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I say, “Let’s eat!” and the kids come inside where I start making mac and cheese – that staple of youths and poor people the world over.

As we wait for the water to boil, I pull out my amplifier, plug in my guitar and let Rory strum on it for a bit but he keeps saying, “Too loud,” and turning the knob down, down, down, down, until it’s off and there’s just the natural acoustic noises resonating from the body.  I try to explain the point of the amplifier to him but he seems more intent on just strumming.  Quinn, meanwhile stands in the corner shouting, “Spider!  Spider!  Daddy!  A SPIDER!!” and I keep saying, “Don’t worry about it!” and then Rory has found a giant boot and is putting it on, presumably to smash it.  He stands by Quinn and she points and Rory doesn’t see anything so he gets down on his hands and knees and begins to investigate.

Fearing for them finding a black widow or brown recluse, I put down the guitar and kneel down beside them.  “Where?” and Rory says, “Under mom’s shoe!” and Quinn says, “Under the floor!” and I look around, turn up nothing and walk away.

The noodles are ready, the powdered and processed cheese is dropped in along with milk, butter, salt, pepper and love.  I pour one-third into a small plastic purple bowl for Quinn and one-third into a small plastic yellow bowl for Rory and, because I hate washing dishes, I just eat my portion out of the the pan.

I sit down next to Rory, who hammers through his lunch so fast that I have to wonder if he did hard time in his past life.  He turns to me and says, “MORE MAC AND CHEEEEESE, PLEEEEEZE!” and I say, “Listen… I appreciate you saying ‘please’… but there is no more mac and cheese,” and he drops his fork and wails and says, “NOOOOO!  I want more Mac. And. Cheese! and I say, “I’m sorry, but that’s all we made.  I’m going to clean up now,” and as I carry his bowl away from him, I see Quinn standing on the bench and swaying slowly to no music playing anywhere and say, “Hey, Rory… maybe you could ask Quinn to share a couple bites with you,” and I see her open her eyes, filled with panic, and I say, “… since you gave her all those yummy breakfast bites this morning.”

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This statement has a strange effect on Quinn.  She sighs and sits down and says, “Here, Roar!  You want some mac and cheese?!” and he walks over to her and she feeds him a bite and then another, and then another, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until their lunch is gone.

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Dinner Table Stock Exchange

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My wife, being 4 weeks away from dropping calf on our third child, has, surprisingly, not had any pregnancy cravings, strange or otherwise.  No pickled pig snouts.  No watermelon sushi.  No salmon au gratin.  Nothing.  She enjoys one small bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios every evening before bed, but, I believe, this is only to curb her cravings for red wine and hard liquor.

My sister, who recently had a baby, hates bacon… or rather, hated bacon… until she got pregnant.  In her entire life, she claims to have eaten only four or five slices, a statistic that, frankly, baffles me.  As a constant purveyor of turkey bacon, which is supposed to be healthier, even I enjoy some thick slices of pork candy from time to time.

During her second trimester she called to tell me that she couldn’t stop eating it.  She told me she was eating bacon every day, sometimes more than once a day.  She and her husband (but mostly just She) were going through packages and packages and packages of this product that, three months prior, she detested and couldn’t even stand the smell of.

Nevertheless, it was somewhere during this phone call wherein she told me that she’d just read an article about pregnancy cravings and that, truly, I should be properly warned.  “Cigarette butts,” she says, “Soap,” she says, “Dirt,” she says.  “Women are eating these things.”

In my mind I try to imagine being pregnant and sitting alone at some kitchen table, an ashtray in front of me with a few stale cigarettes resting inside of it.  I try to imagine what it would take to eat one.  Not just the taste.  Not just the texture.  What would it TAKE for you to overcome every human nature and instinct and pick up an old cigarette butt and eat it?  I imagine glancing suspiciously over my shoulders just to make sure no one is home.  I mean, I know no one is home but still… I’m feeling a little guilty about getting ready to eat this ashy wand.

I pick it up in my hand and smell it, running it under my nose like a fine cigar or piece of garlic bread.  Yum.  I lift the cigarette to my lips and bite down on it.  It doesn’t crunch but rather just goes limp in the middle where my teeth hit.  I have to tear it in half like a piece of over cooked beef jerky.  The filter is in my mouth and I’m chewing like a yak and the door opens and my husband (because in my imagination, in this specific scenario, I am a woman) says to me, “What are you doing?” and I say, “I don’t know,” and then I weep and fall into his arms and he holds me and strokes my hair and caresses my cheek and — never mind.

The point is, we all have things we love to eat that may appear strange to others.  Personally, I like to take chocolate cake, put it in a bowl, pour milk over it, mash it up and eat it like a freaking gruel.  However, conversely, I can’t stand peas.  Overcooked, undercooked, raw, fresh, canned.  My wife asks what I don’t like about them and I say, “Taste and texture,” which pretty much covers every quality there is about a pea, what with them lacking proper personalities and all.

But, being the dad that I am, when my wife prepares dinners and she uses peas, I choke them down my tightened gullet, fighting every gag reflex inside of me just to be a good example to my children.  I figure that they’ll develop their own complexes soon enough and they don’t need me to help them along.  But today, at this lunch, something is different.  I just… can’t do it.  I’m staring at the macaroni and cheese with peas mixed in on my plate and it seems like the ratio is all screwed up.  It’s not a fair 80/20 split of noodles to peas, instead it seems closer to a 50/50 mix and… I close my eyes and take a bite.  I try to smile but imagine I look more like a rapist trying to pass as a human in Christmas photos.  My wife says, “What’s wrong?” And I open my eyes and she’s just staring at me.  She puts her fork down and says, “Why do you look like a rapist?” and I say, “Uh… the peas.  There’s just… so many,” and she says, “Well, I just want you to know that I wasn’t even going to make you lunch.  You… were an afterthought.”

Well!

I mumble something to myself about “…afterthought you and pillow over your face while you sleep,” and she says, “What?” and I say, “I shall try my best to feast upon these peas.  Long live the pea.  God Bless You!”  I ask my son if I can have a drink of his water and he says, “Nope.  This is my water,” and, while I don’t agree with that statement or his decision, I do respect it.  I encourage the children to share but don’t force them to.  I say, “But I’m really thirsty,” and Rory says, “That’s your coffee,” and he points and he’s correct.  Coffee with peas.  Gross.  I sound like a pregnant lady.

I take a bite and cringe again.  Bugs are popping in my mouth, little beetles exploding.  I gag and swallow and then begin to mechanically separate my food, peas from noodles, into two separate piles.  “Are you… are you kidding me?” my wife asks, like I would think this is a very clever joke.  I say, “No.”  She says, “You’re setting a bad example,” and I say, “I know… I know… but I just… I just can’t.  This,” and I wave my hand over my plate, “Is not happening.”

Jade turns to the kids and says, “You’re eating so good.  You’re eating your peas so good!” and I echo her and the kids echo both of us and then, like lightning, an evil plot hatches in my tiny brain.

I turn to Rory and I say, “Rory… Rory, would you like to have some of daddies peas?!” and his eyes get really big because he loves eating anything that comes from my plate.  “Do you want Daddy’s peas!?” and he says, “Yeah!  Peas!” and I start shoveling them into his bowl, ladle after ladle, load after load.  Jade raises her eyebrow to me, questioning my motives.

I say, “Good job, eat all those peas!” and he’s so excited to be getting all these little green gifts showered down upon him.  His lunch goes from a fair 50/50 split to mostly just a mound of peas with a few scattered noodles…  And then, like a snake in the grass, I slither in for the kill, “Daddy loves you so much!  Daddy loves you so much that he wants to share his delicious peas with you!  Daddy loves to share!  Sharing is so nice!” and Rory says, “Sharing is nice!  Daddy’s being a good boy!” and I say, “That’s right!” and my wife says, “Hmmmm….”

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I finish emptying all of the peas into his bowl and I gently say, “Rory… Daddy has given you all of his delicious peas,” and he says, “Thank you, Daddy,” and I say, “You’re welcome… And all I ask in return, all I ask, is for a drink of your water.”  And this boy that just moments before covetously gripped his cup to his chest in blatant refusal to commune with me, now eagerly grabs his chalice of life giving drink and thrusts it at me.

“I will share, Daddy!  Rory a good boy!”

“That’s right,” I say, “You are a good boy.”  And then I turn to Jade and I say, “And you were right as well.  I am setting an example for the children.”

She raises another eyebrow and sort of half smiles while I wash the disgusting taste from my mouth and finish my noodles.

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