Saturday, June 30, 2007

Eat your heart out.

Dieting talk amongst friends has got me sitting here thinking of my own profound relationship with food over the course of my lifetime. I can say that from the time I was a child to now, I have experienced so many complex phases related to food and life that it really boggles my mind to fathom it all.
From sustenance to happiness, and pleasure brought from eating, to self-induced deprivation and control and discipline, it's as though an entire "secret" language has been expressed through my eating habits. There have been times in my life when I didn't think about food, didn't care about it; and other times when food was all I could think of. As a child, I happily ran around and meals were on the periphery of my focus. As a teen, I struggled throughout my formative years to be heard, and have my ideas and intellect taken seriously, rather than garnering attention for my figure -- always the breasts! So I didn't eat for a while. Adulthood and more confidence came, and then the years saw me bouncing back and forth, discovering food, needing to lose weight to fit into a dress or combat weekends of indulgence in Napa Valley and a thousand other places in the foodie heaven that is California. Yet I still remember feeling genuinely panicky a couple times when I lost enough weight to feel tiny, and physically insignificant. That is indeed a crazy, mixed-up predicament.
Panic and fear have, at times, been palpably driven home as I dieted and then would suddenly think back to two people I loved who wasted away from cancer. Their bodies failed them. My step-dad, a Greek-American so full of life, reduced to a skinny man having Ensure poured into his stomach through a tube. Not being able to taste wine because his tastebuds had been radiated off. It was a tragedy to behold. Our friend, Debbi was always a big girl. Overweight. Then she started working out, and lost about 50 lbs., and she looked great! But then she kept losing weight, and discovered she had cancer. Eventually, she could only manage to eat tiny mouthfuls of food, and when she died she was little more than a skeleton.
That connection of food to life and death feels like it's imprinted upon my cells. It's no secret to those who know me that death has been a major preoccupation to me for years, and so why should it be any surprise that I might feel like banking pounds as insurance against some possible future catastrophe? And yet, ironically, you bank too much weight, and you're risking your life! Especially with my family history of heart disease and diabetes.
I never had glamorous pregnancies, and the weight gained has stuck to me like glue. I have absolutely no regrets about the way my body has changed from having children. I have not worked hard to become Skinny Mom, the fashionable thing to do, but rather, have tried to focus upon nourishing myself. And that is what food is about to me now: nourishing my body and soul. If that means eating for comfort sometimes, I accept that. I'm slowly working towards being able to strike that elusive balance, and feel more understanding of myself.
Be kind to yourselves, and good luck to us all, towards health and feeling good despite the reading on the scale.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

His is red. But it's so much more.

There's a mystery I've been trying to uncover for most of my life: what is it with dogs and their collars??

Nothing makes Lucky spaz out as much as someone messing with his collar. The act of taking off his collar, or putting it back on him, makes him crazy. You can barely get it fastened because he is trying to grab it, and he jumps up and down, and to the side, like Muhammad Ali in the ring. If you give it to him, he will prance and run around like a super-charged flying reindeer, snorting and throwing his head up and around.
Is it because it's the one thing he feels belongs exclusively to him?
Does a collar make a dog feel secure?
Or is it the association with going places?
Is it because they like jewelry?
The Great Sphinx of Giza, Atlantis, Stonehenge, and Dogs' Collars. We may never really know.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Scary Fairy

Last night as the boys and I talked at bedtime, lights out, nestled up in down comforters, they asked me about some of the German fairytales I grew up hearing.
The scary ones.
Even more frightening than the Grimm Brothers' tales, were the stories I read from a big yellow book I had that contained graphic illustrations of children who were not mindful...oh, what became of them!
There was the story of the boy who wouldn't eat his supper and so he danced and dwindled away to nothing, and died. His bowl of food was placed upon his grave.
There was a story about the little thumbsucker whose mother left him for the afternoon, and warned him, before she left, not to suck his thumb -- or else a man with giant scissors would come and cut off his thumbs. As soon as the mother walked out the front door, the little boy stuck his thumb in his mouth, and OUT jumped a man with enormous scissors, and he did cut off the boy's thumbs!
One boy was always looking up at the sky when he walked and so he fell into a canal and drowned.
Yikes! These tales were a not-so-subtle means of scaring us into submission to pay attention, eat our food, keep up with our grooming, and watch where we were going!
So when the boys asked me if I knew of any other scary stories, I really couldn't think of any more, and I made one up.
There is a big monster who comes into children's rooms at night, and he will chase you into a corner and sniff you, and he can detect whether or not you've eaten any fruit or vegetables that day. He hates fruit and vegetables, and so if he sniffs you and you've eaten them, he will pass on by, but if you have not eaten any, he gobbles you up, and crunches your bones.
This monster proved to be the most terrifying of the night, as my children eat fewer vegetables than they should, but none of them are thumbsuckers.
I don't mean to scare them, or maybe I do. There is a part of me that knows my German ancestors would approve, if not some parenting agencies. No doubt the boys will be eating some fruit and vegetables today, especially before bedtime.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fly zone!

There's a man in a flying machine around these parts!

His contraption appears to be built of a giant fan -- like on the airboats you see cutting through the Everglades; a seat; and a parachute. He can adjust his altitude quickly and easily, and I can't see close enough, but would like to think he's wearing an old pilot's cap, like Snoopy when he flies his doghouse.
The man in his flying machine appears overhead every once in a while. You can hear the buzz of his motor from inside the house, and we all excitedly rush outside, squinting up at the sky to watch him whirring around! And then he slowly disappears, heading out over the water and becoming a tiny speck on the horizon...going wherever he goes...until next time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

No-fly zone

Today was an official Haz-Mat day chez moi. Beginning early in the morning with (newly potty-trained) Harry accidentally peeing the bed. Then, one of the cats threw up. Then, Harry was climbing a wall and fell off and bashed his head, so there was a bloody scene and we had to rush to get stitches.
Here's where I realized the benefits of Tabby's Fly-girl advice, where you're supposed to get dressed head-to-toe the minute you wake up. Because before we could get into the car to take Harry to the doctor, I had to:
-hold a towel to Harry's head and stabilize him.
-butterfly bandage his forehead.
-find pants for Harry.
-find shoes for Harry.
Meanwhile, I'm shouting at everyone to remain calm, a bit like Edina Monsoon. We were not in a 9-1-1 situation, so it was time to:
-find pants and a shirt for Cooper
-find pants for Griffin
-trade a shirt Griffin was wearing for one that matched his shorts, lest the doctor's office think I'm a disorganized mother.
-grab my wallet and car keys.
-find the car.
It was then that I realized Troy had taken the big car. I was left with the little car. That's okay, I could have made that work. If only I could have found the car key! I called Troy and he told me it was in "my drawer." I have one drawer in the kitchen that is supposed to be all mine, but it keeps getting corrupted. So the key was not in my drawer.
With no keys/car, I had to shuffle everyone over to the neighbor's. No one was home. So we shuffled over to the next neighbor. Mark works at home -- poor him -- so I asked to borrow his car and then hoisted Cooper over to him, since his car only had one car seat, and we set off.
Harry was so brave. He got five stitches -- and a frosted cookie for his trouble.
We returned Mark's car, went home and Cooper smiled and said he had "fun uh Mark!" He got to watch "Winnie the Pooh!"
Thirty minutes later, we were all settling down when suddenly the boys started screaming and running downstairs to announce that Cooper had barfed.
But he's fine. And we're all still dressed, so I think I'll sleep in my clothes in case I need to be organized tomorrow.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Starting summer

Most Americans kick off summer during the extended Memorial Day weekend. Boats are launched, summer houses opened (I hear), grills fired up, and you're allowed to wear white again after a dark fashion winter.
In Florida, it's easy to get lulled into a state of endless summer, because it rarely gets cold enough to wear a jacket, and so there's usually not such a delineation felt. Rather, everything changes in subtle shifts. However, with Emily visiting from a cold climate and being psyched about everything jump-starting her summer, this past week really has felt more like the launch of a season to me.
Lucky went to the groomer and got his summertime clip. Emily & I got pedicures.

[Emily defends her toe ring as her "one act of rebellion," which tells you a lot about her. She sometimes says, "Oh my goodness!" in situations that have me dropping the F-bomb. And she says, "H-E-double toothpicks."]

We all went to the beach, which has the softest, whitest sand you've ever seen. On Saturday it was all misty and windy due to the tropical storm, but on Sunday it was packed with happy people. There was a great range of people there -- babies, surfers, seniors, and everyone in between -- all cheerful and relaxed.

Back at home, Troy chopped down some basil for pesto, and we grilled lamb chops & ate ice cream. Very summery.

The lamb chops and potatoes were cooked on high heat & with a lot of olive oil. Next time I'll turn up the heat even more on the chops to get more of a char, Greek-stylee. We drizzled olive oil on them while they were on the grill to get the flames to shoot up. Everything got a spritz of lemon juice once it was moved to the platter.

I made a salted butter caramel sauce for the vanilla ice cream.

And here is a lemon cake made in a bundt mould Emily gave us. Perfect! One turret for each child. I did notice some marauders stormed the castle and attacked the base while I was out.

It's early June and the strawberries are perfect. We've been eating them by the bushel. I was going to top the turrets with a strawberry, but the boys could hardly wait for their plates, so I had to hurry up. Wyatt's turret resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Last but not least, we may finally have found some good tomatoes. They smell like tomatoes -- a small miracle!

The livin' is definitely going to be easy today because I have nothing planned except to catch up with friends & laundry. As Baz Luhrmann says: don't forget your sunscreen.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Chacun prépare sa propre mort

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Ti'Punch (or Créole Ti Punch) is a rum-based mixed drink that is especially popular in Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guyana, and other French-speaking Caribbean states. It is usually served as an apéritif before starting a meal, both as a matter of tradition and because the drink itself is strongly alcoholic. A popular tradition is that of chacun prépare sa propre mort (roughly, each prepares his own death), where instead of serving the mixed drink, the bartender or host will simply place out the ingredients, and everyone will prepare the drink according to his or her own taste. Opinions differ as to whether it should be served with or without ice, but most agree that the "real" ti'punch should be served without ice. However, adding a small amount of ice allows the flavours of the ingredients to blossom.

I'm going to end up rooming with Lindsay Lohan at Promises if I don't soon quit my job as guinea pig for Troy's rum experiments. As we've been discussing the finalists for the rum company name, Troy has also been doing all sorts of rum research, and recently spent an afternoon with a rum expert, a dude who lives on his sailboat and travels around the islands, sampling rum and writing about it. Said dude taught Troy how to make a proper Ti' Punch.
So Emily arrived yesterday for her weekend visit, and while we were all catching up, Troy was making us ti' punches. They ought to call this drink The Little Lobotomy, as I killed many brain cells. I have zero'd in on Pyrat rum as a favorite, and can vouch for its smoothness.

Today, June 1st, marks the official beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, and not only did it rain most of the day, but a tropical storm (Barry) has formed in the Gulf to mark the occasion.

Perfect conditions for soaking one's head, lounging, drinking restorative cups of strong tea, and staring blankly at falling raindrops.