Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Comfort--Food and Books

After the recent peanut butter contamination and mercury in high fructose corn syrup reports, as well as this story, I decided I would try to get M to take cold lunch to school. Since he started Kindergarten, I’ve let him choose which days to buy hot lunch and which to buy cold, and once we ironed out the initial bumps—like him buying hot lunch every day, even if it was something I knew he would never eat and him not knowing how to buy just milk when he had cold lunch (really they could do a bit more hand-holding with kindergarteners)—it has worked out well. I tried to get over my horror over the menu, where some type of fried chicken product is served at least once a week if not more often, and he tried new foods he would not have eaten if I served them, and has in general expanded his palate greatly. I also liked giving him the choice—a little bit of control in his own life.

But now I feel like I want to extend my commitment to healthy, natural, unprocessed, local foods into his lunch menu. I have always had a hard time making lunches that he would actually eat, but last week I tried pint-sized portions in bite-sized pieces: half a (hopefully salmonella-free) peanut butter and (local) honey sandwich, cut in half again; carrot chunks (apparently easier to eat while chatting and goofing around than carrot sticks); and a dish of frozen berries (rotating straw, blue and black). So far (we’re on day four) this has worked, and while he hasn’t agreed to eating cold lunch all February, he has circled fewer hot lunch days on his calendar.

To make up for missing hot dog on a bun Friday, I bought a package of organic uncured turkey hot dogs at the health food store last week (I find it ironic that a food intended to use up scraps from processing—C calls it “lips, lids and a**holes—and thus be a cheap product, costs over $7 a package when you try to make it healthy). This turned out to be a good move. C had to suddenly fly to Florida for a funeral, and everyone was out-of-sorts with his absence and needed comfort food. Hot dogs for dinner Saturday and lunch Sunday (btw organic uncured turkey hot dogs smell like cat food—ew!); French toast with blueberry sauce and whipped cream for dinner Sunday. By last night I was out of comforting ideas and just made spaghetti (eaten by two out of four diners). I have no idea what to make tonight (but something straight out of a box sounds tempting).

I had also thought we could try to go the whole weekend without TV. I notice in the spring and summer, our kid TV-viewing dwindles down to less than once a week, but this fall and winter, with the darkening days combined with regular trips to the library where E and Z pick out DVDs, added to my pre-Christmas drive to get things done, their TV viewing has skyrocketed to an hour or more Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that at daycare too TV viewing goes way up this time of year.

I staved off the begging for movies all through Saturday, but by Sunday afternoon I caved to M’s constant begging to watch Star Wars. Z came down with a fever Sunday morning. At first I thought he was just tired, then maybe hot from the fire I was trying to get going, but when he sat curled in the same chair for more than an hour I realized something was up (i.e. his temperature: 100.9 armpit). Without being able to go outside for an hour or two of sledding, the afternoon began to drag on long and let M put in Return of the Jedi. I only had one dose of children’s ibuprofen left. I found a bottle of very expired and grainy-looking infant Tylenol and a bottle of only slightly expired infant Motrin, guessing at the dose for a three-year-old.

Z was low energy all day again yesterday, which was actually kind of nice. We spent a lot of time reading on the couch and built a couple of puzzles. I pulled them both in the sled to pick up M from the bus, but Z got out and played in the snow with his brothers for some time. I managed to get them all into bed at 7:45 (I was shooting for 7:30) after reading stories. M has been reading Little House in the Big Woods to me, having put The Wonderful Wizard of Oz oh hold till C gets back (another division of labor--C gets to read the big-boy books; I read Trouble With Trolls over and over and over to the little ones). I had been afraid the Little House books would be too girly, but so far it’s been mostly about hunting and butchering animals. There’s an entire chapter about Pa cleaning his gun and making bullets. M begged to read a second chapter last night. I only read a few of the series when I was a kid, for some reason. I remember reading On the Banks of Plum Creek several times, so I don’t know why I didn’t read all of them. I picked up Little Town on the Prairie to read while we were stuck in our dark cold barn apartment during the big ice storm of 1997—comfort reading.

I can’t believe I used to drop off the kids at daycare, pick them up and make dinner when M was little, right up to about six or nine months after going back to work when E and Z were babies, when I finally melted down and begged C to take on one end of the day—I don’t even know how I could manage to work eight hours if I had to do this every day again now (as it is I’m leaving early to get groceries, gas and ibuprofen). Plus I'm trying to keep the house warm with my decidely not BoyScout-esque fire building skills (our heating system is having issues) and hoping it won't snow enough to need plowing out. Only one morning and two nights to go.

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