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Posts from the ‘health’ Category

giving up the ghost

This post is about dreams, and letting them go. I spent most of 2013 feeling strongly that I was meant, nay DESTINED, to have three children. I hounded Tom daily for my unborn third child, prompting much consternation and dry-gulping of Advil.

Leaving aside the problem of an unwilling sperm donor, I sensed unease from those closest to me. There were comments that I took as judgmental warnings. “Wouldn’t that mean you have to change your life a lot?” “Don’t you think that would be hard on Tate?” “But things are finally getting so easy!” “WHY do you want to have three children?”

WHY did I want to have three children? Because my first two are fucking awesome and I had a vision of a third awesome kid, poking his head up from the empty back row of my SUV. And maybe this time, the kid would actually look like me. An awesome new kid that looked like me. Was that so much to ask?

Although he did not want another child, Tom still wanted to have regular sexual congress, which seemed a bold and uncompromising position to take, given the circumstances. And that’s where we come to the letting go of Tom’s dreams. The dream of remaining a man in full. The dream of leaving his man tubes uncut and un-cauterized.

The dream of having regular sex while at the same time not having a vasectomy.

Anyway. He’s had the consult. The procedure is scheduled. I know it’s scheduled because Tom sent me an Outlook calendar invite for that entire weekend, the description for which reads “Resting at Home.” The invite was followed by a verbal clarification from Tom. “The doctor said I can’t move around AT ALL because the gravity on the weight in my balls might mess up the healing. Like, I can’t STAND. Or MOVE. So I am just going to be in the TV room that weekend, HEALING.”

The easy joke here is that I already have a third child, and that his name is Tom. The tougher joke is that I’ll spend that weekend solo-parenting my two amazing kids, putting to bed my dreams of a third.

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lice, you ain’t nice

Every time I see an email about lice from my kids’ school, I read it with a shudder of revulsion and then try to figure out which kid in the class has the lice. Then I try to prevent my kids from coming in contact with the perp, all without actually mentioning the word “lice.” It’s tricky.

Me: “Hey Finn. So how about those Blazers, huh. Say, anyone at school get a haircut recently?”

Finn: “What?”

Me: “You know. A haircut. Like anyone cut their hair super short? Or…I don’t know. Any of your friends get a new hat?”

Finn: “Like what kind of hat?”

Me: “You know. A hat. Like, a baseball hat. Any kind of hat.”

Finn: (Long pause). “No.”

Me: “Ok, that’s cool.” (Pause). “Hey, maybe don’t do any reading today in the reading corner.”

Finn: “Why not?”

Me: (Pause). “Well, you can read. Just don’t, you know, touch any of the pillows. Don’t do any lounging. And maybe, you know, don’t touch any of your friends today.”

Finn: “Why not?”

Me: “Because.”

Finn: “Because why?”

Me: “Because I said so, ok?”

Finn: “But why?”

Me: “BECAUSE THERE MIGHT BE BUGS ON THE PILLOWS OK?? Now eat your breakfast.”

The thing about lice is that centuries of human familiarity with lice hasn’t robbed it of its power. It’s like leprosy. I haven’t heard of anyone having leprosy in a really long time. But anyone who has seen Ben-Hur knows that leprosy is no joke. Your skin falls off, and then your fingers fall off. I don’t want leprosy, and I don’t want lice. Lice isn’t a sexy old-timey disease like consumption, which makes you think of Chopin coughing delicately into an embroidered handkerchief and seems kind of romantic. Yes I know that consumption is technically tuberculosis. But do YOU know that lice is BUGS? In your HAIR??

Feel free to start screaming. I did, when we got the call. I buzz my kids’ hair on a regular basis and we’d avoided five rounds of lice at my kids’ school, so I thought we were home free. Nope. Tate had a bug near his ear, and needed to be picked up. The school checked Finn as a precaution and said he was clean, but my older son was leaving for outdoor school the next day, and I wasn’t taking any chances. My car screeched into the school parking lot and I left the engine running while I ran in to grab Finn. Tate had already been picked up by Tom and with any luck, was at home being fumigated. Inside the school, Finn sensed my distress and reacted accordingly.

Finn, digging in his heels: “Wait, why are we going home early?”

Me: “Ha ha, happy to see you too, sport. Hey Chandra!” (Waving to another parent). “I just, you know, felt like picking you up early because…I missed you.”

Finn: “But I want to play soccer!”

Me: (Leaning close, grabbing shirt, and hissing). “Listen, buddy. Your brother has BUGS, ok?? IN HIS HAIR. We need to leave. RIGHT. NOW.”

With Finn in the car, I sped off for Lice Knowing You. The only nice thing about lice in the modern age is that there are places like Lice Knowing You. Lice Knowing You is a real place that actually exists. It is a salon, just like any other salon, except that this salon isn’t marked from the outside and the only service they offer is the removal of bugs from your person. The school had told me that Finn was clean, but, no offense to the school, I needed a professional opinion. I screeched into the parking lot and dragged Finn into the salon, where I tried to be really chill about not touching any of the surfaces. There, a lady sprayed conditioner in Finn’s hair and then gave Finn the first combing of his life. No lice.

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I packed Finn into the car and we peeled off for home. I arrived to find Tom and Cuz stripping all the beds. Tate was running around the house stark naked. I waved to Tate from a safe distance and turned to Tom. “So, did you do the lice treatment?”

Tom looked up from spraying a mattress with an expression that suggested that he had been dealing with lice and spraying the mattress for approximately seven years, instead of the 45 minutes that had elapsed since he’d left the school with Tate. “I didn’t find anything,” he said.

What did he MEAN he didn’t find anything? Tom wasn’t like Finn, who often asks where his glasses are, when they are on his face. Tom is a FINDER. Tom’s ability to find things is like number 4 on the top ten things that I love about my husband. If Tom didn’t find lice, there were no lice. But still. The school wouldn’t have sent Tate home on a TUESDAY unless they had found some serious lice. Would they?

“What do you mean you didn’t find anything?,” I asked. “Do you even know what lice look like? They look like little white grains of rice, Tom. Like little white eggs. Did you even look at any pictures??!!!” I could feel myself sounding and looking like a howler monkey and was powerless to stop it. Tom stopped spraying and pulled his body up to full height. “Yoona. I know what lice looks like. I know what nits look like. I looked at the pamphlet in the kit. He didn’t have any lice.”

Well. He didn’t have to get all hysterical about it. I gave him a look and hauled both my boys to the bathroom, where I clipped on my trusty Number 1 guide and buzzed them clean.

Try clinging onto that fuzz, you nasty lice. And you nasty nits, too. ‘Til next time.

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dad soccer

I really look forward to Wednesdays. Wednesdays are when Tom goes to play futsal with his team, which is made up of dads from my kids’ school. And I submit that hearing the recaps of those games is better than any entertainment you might pay to experience.

But let’s back up. If you don’t live in Portland or some other hipster town (or South America), you might not even know what futsal is. Futsal is indoor soccer, but with different rules, none of which I know. My only real knowledge about futsal is that every adult I’ve met who has suffered bodily injury during adulthood has done it playing futsal. There’s Keil, who broke his toe. There’s Matt, who tore his ACL. There’s Eden, who broke her elbow PRACTICING futsal in her driveway. Tom is not particularly prone to injury, but neither would I describe him as particularly body-aware. So I had real anxiety about Tom playing on a futsal team.

My anxiety ratcheted up to a fever pitch when I found out that Tom’s first game would be played at 10:20 PM. I mean, by 10:20 PM I’ve been in bed for an hour and twenty minutes, if I’ve played my evening right. As for Tom, the only thing I can envision him doing well and with intention at 10:20 PM is watching HBO. Maybe brushing his teeth. MAYBE folding laundry, but only if it’s all towels. But that’s it. Futsal at 10:20 PM!! No wonder people dropped like flies playing the sport.

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Tom wasn’t having any of my doubt. Dressing for the first game, he pulled on his shin guards, which seemed to cover alarmingly small acreage on his long white shins, and a pair of striped knee socks. Then he pulled out a pair of sports glasses. I didn’t realize he HAD sports glasses, and told him so. “Remember,” he told me, rolling his eyes. “I got them for squash.” Tom has played squash exactly twice. Which puts the use-per-wear on his sports glasses, I’m guessing, at approximately $150. More critically, he hasn’t played squash in about three years, so we were working with an old prescription and impaired vision. Jesus! Why didn’t he just stay home and let me break his legs with a hammer? It would be faster and I wouldn’t have to wait up.

Tom left for the game, and I waited at home, anxiously. I looked back at the text I’d gotten from our friend Ethan, who plays in a Monday night league, and had lost his first game only two days before. The text was a photo of his skinned arm, and a message: “They made me bleed my own blood.” I kept waiting for Tom, until about 9:30, when I fell asleep. Around midnight, I was woken up by Tom, who was scarily alert and high off adrenaline. “We won,” he crowed. I dug deeper, and learned that the other team, ManChestHair United—while comprised of younger, more able-bodied men—had had no subs during the game. Meawhile, Tom’s team, with a deep, enthusiastic bench, had subbed players every 90 seconds. No matter. Tom was SO HAPPY. So I was happy.

This week’s game was a different story. The excitement of the first game having worn off, Jeremy, the team leader, was having difficulty fielding a full five-man team for the game. Tom showed me the potential line-up. Tom was listed as a “Yes (but likely drunk),” because he was going to the game straight from a dinner out. Patrick was listed as “Yes (with weird fluid).” Most of the other players were listed as “No” or “???”

“Look at this!,” Tom complained, thrusting his phone in my face. “Just look at it! I mean, I have ass stitches and I’m playing.” Tom had gotten stitches on his ass while skiing the weekend prior, and now he apparently intended to lord those ass stitches over achier, more exhausted teammates. I asked him about Patrick’s weird fluids–what kind of fluids? Were they from last week’s game? And how could fluids last seven days? I mean, I practiced yoga with Patrick. How could a dude that bendy have been wrecked by a single futsal game? Another teammate, Todd, could apparently barely walk. My old doubts started to come back. Maybe these guys WERE too old to play futsal.

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patrick. warmups.

But they’d won their first game, hadn’t they? I watched Tom leave for his second game (start time, 11:00 PM), and tried to put my fears to rest.

Well, they lost. Recapping the second game, Tom focused less on his team’s performance than the fact that two of the players on the other team were full-time soccer coaches. “Division 5! It’s total bullshit that those guys signed up for Division 5! I mean, I’m a lawyer!” Tom told Finn the score was 7-1 and mentioned that the other team had cheered when Tom’s team scored, so it didn’t sound TOO bad. I mean, the cheering from the other team sounded fun, if a little pathetic. But Patrick told me afterwards that they have to stop keeping score after a certain point and that the score was more like 20-1. Which makes me want to cry.

But it’s ok. Tom’s not injured (so far) and he’s having fun, and really, that’s all you can ask for when it comes to dad soccer.

the tattooed baby

When I was pregnant with Finn, the time would come at the end of my OB appointments where my doctor would ask if I had any questions about the pregnancy. I had lots of questions, but they were mostly about food. Not food for the baby. Food for me. Like, “The French drink wine while pregnant, so why can’t I,” “Can I eat oysters, and if so, how many;” and “What, exactly, is a ‘soft’ cheese?”

My OB is one of the more attractive older men I’ve met, and I’m already predisposed to developing crushes on men who are responsible for my physical well-being. This is why I developed a crush on the dentist who removed my wisdom teeth, and why I currently have a crush on my spinning instructor even though I hate his class. Anyway, with my OB, I developed a crush that was disturbing (to Tom) in its intensity. I liked my OB so much that I needed him to like me. This all seems irrelevant, but it’s not, so stay with me. This background explains why I couldn’t ask my OB the only question about my baby that I really wanted to ask, which was “Can you tell from an ultrasound whether the baby has a large birthmark on his face?”

Finn came out with no discernable birthmarks although he was so pale that he glowed. But Tate. I should have known from day 1 what I was getting into with Tate, because he came out with all sorts of marks. A lightning-bolt shaped mark on his forearm, a dark thumpbrint on his wrist, and best of all, huge Mongolian spots on his rear end that made his butt look blue. Most of the marks have since faded, but he must have been born with a taste for skin art. Because now he wants tats. And he wants ’em bad.

tattoo

I am sympathetic. Every few weeks I see a cool tattoo on some nubile 20-something in my yoga class and I’ll ask Tom if I should get a tattoo, and he answers as he always does, by staring stonily out the car window in long-suffering silence. If he’s in a lighthearted mood he might say something fun, like “I will divorce you if you get a tattoo. I really will.” But mostly he just stares out his window.

The worst is when Tom plays along and asks what kind of tattoo I’d get. That always gives me pause. The only thing I’ve ever considered is a tattoo for my dad, who is gone. And then I take an even longer pause while I consider that while we never talked about tattoos, I’m pretty sure my dad hated them. And what kind of homage would that be? It would be as if my kids decided to honor me after I’m gone by engraving my name on a pair of man sandals and wearing the sandals everywhere with tube socks. That would be terrible. I can’t do that to my dad.

So maybe a tattoo is not in my future. But something tells me we will be visiting this issue again, when Tate is old enough to beg. Last week he padded up the stairs and stood next to my bed, in the dark. Tate’s voice is at approximately the same pitch/frequency as a dog whistle, and sounds particularly shrill at 5:45 AM. “Grandma says we can go to the tattoo store and get real tattoos.” I poked Tom, who played dead.

When I asked Grandma about the tattoo date, she said that she felt really bad for Tate when she caught him soaking stickers in a plastic bag full of water, trying to make them into tattoos. I tabled the discussion, and Grandma, in turn, brought home some fake tattoos to tide Tate over. He flipped through the tattoo book and landed on the one he wanted. I placed it square in the middle his chest, as directed.

In the mornings, Tate picks out v-neck shirts that will show his tattoo off best. In the evenings, when I try to wash it off, he pushes my hand away, or screams.

I don’t know what I’m going to do when he’s 18.

Have a tattoo? Even better, have a kid who wants a tattoo and is coming of age? I’m all ears.

spinning to nowhere

Used to be, you couldn’t mention the word “bike” without prompting Tom to launch into his standard tirade about bike commuters. But listen. Tom’s white. He’s an attorney. And nearing middle age. You put those three things together in a Venn diagram and the overlappy bit in the middle will say “soccer” and “bikes.” So the bike thing was inevitable.

Tom started getting into bikes last summer, when he began riding his giraffe bike to and from Timbers games. We call Tom’s silver Globe the giraffe bike because if a normal-sized person stands next to it, it looks freakishly tall. It also weighs approximately what a giraffe weighs. I’ve seen people try to hold it up only to have it topple onto them.

“YOONA!! You don’t even know how awesome a Timbers game is until you’ve ridden home with the Timbers masses,” he told me. “Mmmm,” I’d respond, having tuned out everything after the word “Timbers.” He started to treat his buddy Ethan like he was a loser for driving a car to the stadium. “ETHAN! You HAVE to ride your bike to the game. Stop being so lazy.” Ethan, who rode his bike to and from his house way back in law school and once had the nerve to show up at my house in a bike unitard, would become visibly annoyed in the way that you get when a friend becomes newly and loudly obsessed with something that you discovered ten years ago.

giraffe bike

Next, Tom started spinning. I don’t regularly work out with Tom, but I’ve worked out next to him in hotel gyms, so I know what that intense regimen looks like. 15 minutes of a loping, horse-like canter on an elliptical trainer while paging through the New Yorker, followed by a couple sets of half-hearted chest presses with eyes glued to ESPN. Rinse, and repeat. I’d observe from a distance and wonder how he didn’t gain weight during his workouts.

But once Tom got a taste of spinning, he became an animal. Not having broken a sweat during a workout in years, he viewed all the new-fangled wicking fabrics with the skepticism that the rest of us would reserve for, say, a muscle tank made of mesh. “Now, Dri-Fit–do you think that’s trying too hard??,” he’d ask. I didn’t have the heart to point out that the only other guys at the gym still wearing cotton t-shirts were all 80 years old.

Tom started making his own spinning playlists, which I only learned about when I received an email receipt for my Amazon account with a bunch of song purchases. I took a quick look at the email and concluded that my account had been hacked. I forwarded the email to Tom and Cuz, both of whom have access to my Prime account, before I called Amazon’s fraud alert line. I got an immediate response. “That’s for my spinning playlist,” emailed Tom. Spinning playlist? I took a closer look.

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Ah. This explained why he’d been turning up “Royals” whenever it came on in my car, eyes rolling back into his head. “I LOVE this song,” he’d moan. Tom habitually discovers a pop smash three to six months after it first becomes popular. A month ago he turned up “Get Lucky” and gave me a knowing look. “You’ve heard this, right? It’s awesome.” I expect he’ll discover “Blurred Lines” sometime in early December.

I looked again at his spinning playlist. Eminem, ok. As a white guy from the wrong side of Detroit (Ann Arbor), Tom has long identified with Eminem. Ke$ha is like, workout gold, so I respected that. But Bryan Ferry, for SPINNING? The Smiths? What kind of depressing workout was this? And what about Gordon Lightfoot? Who plays Gordon fucking Lightfoot during a workout?

Anyway. The bike thing’s not going away. On his trip to Ann Arbor last month, Tom mailed back to Portland his dad’s Schwinn Le Tour III. Once it arrived, he texted our friend Dieter, who gave him advice about how to (pay to) convert the bike into a single-speed. I observed it all with amusement. But when he brought it home from Velo Cult, I got it. It was orange, a very good color. For a 35-year old bike, it seemed rather elegant. Best of all, it was a connection to Tom’s dad, who I never got to meet. A man who was responsible for raising my irrepressible, inimitable Tom.

So welcome to the family, Mr. Schwinn. And do watch out for the giraffe bike in the garage.

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killer tofu

Everywhere you turn, someone is telling you that something you’re feeding your kids is bad for them. Which is fine if your kids are good eaters and you have a host of food options from which to choose. My kids? Left to their own devices, they each eat like twelve foods. Maybe more like six, if you take away the fruit.

One of the things they will both eat, however, is tofu. They will eat every variety of tofu, from silken to pressed. They will eat it in soup, baked, pan fried, steamed, whatever. And that’s good because tofu has nutritious stuff in it, like vegetable protein.

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Anyway, about the tofu. The latest word on tofu is that if you have boy children and they eat too much of it, they will grow breasts. Or something like that. Feel free to Google it—I haven’t, because, okay, I admit it, I’m scared of where “tofu man breasts” will lead me on Google Images. I’ve been afraid of Google Images ever since I Googled “genital warts.” Not that you believe me, but I don’t have genital warts and neither does Tom. I was just curious.

Besides, I have my own thoughts on the latest fear-mongering over tofu, and those thoughts are similar to my thoughts on MSG. Let me just point out that the Chinese have been around for a really long time. And I don’t know any Chinese people who complain about MSG headaches. I also don’t know any Chinese men with breasts.

Well, wait a minute. I know a few Chinese men with breasts, but they’re fat all the way around, and I’m sorry, if you’re a fat man you’re likely to have breasts regardless of your race or how much tofu you ingest. If you need further scientific evidence that it’s ok to eat tofu, I ate a shit ton of tofu growing up and I’m flat as a goddamned board.

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I guess what I’m really railing against is food hysteria in general. We all want to eat healthy. I try to make good choices, and make good choices for my children. But for me, food is not just about sustenance. Food is about taste, memory, pleasure, warmth, happiness. I enjoy nothing more than this loaf of bread with a crock of good butter. Eating bread reminds me of when I was a kid, tucked into my window seat on a rainy day, reading about Heidi and her grandpa and their goats and their tasty milk and cheese.

Nowadays, I feel guilty when I eat bread. And that guilt drives me to eat my croissants in the car like I’m some perv, or worse, to forgo the croissant entirely in favor of “healthy” pap like gummy, reconstituted granola. I dunno. I’m going to die of something, and I sort of doubt it’ll be the bread.**

So about that tofu. I like stir-fries because your kid can help with the washing and chopping. This delicious little stir-fry (you can sub shrimp if tofu is not your thing) makes my family happy. It’s a little spicy but even Tate will eat it, and shamefully, he thinks black pepper is spicy. Also, you might as well prepare your kids’ palates for the global Chinese domination that is coming.

Thanks to the sauce in this stir-fry, my kids will (accidentally) eat the mushrooms, water chestnuts, and green onions in the recipe. Shiitakes, not the benign kind of mushroom. Hot damn! I guess I’m ok risking two tiny sets of man boobs for that.

**I’m aware that certain people, like those with Celiac Disease, can actually die of bread consumption. I’m not making light of bread eating, except as it applies to me.

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MA PO TOFU

Adapted from “Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking”

Ingredients:

3 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms (if dried, soak in warm water for 20 minutes), de-stemmed and chopped

6 oz. ground pork

1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon hot bean paste, black bean sauce, bean chili sauce, or chili garlic sauce (one of these should be available in the “ethnic foods” aisle—we’re getting ethnic, people!—of your grocery store. If you have a choice, go for the bean chili sauce)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/3 cup chopped water chestnuts

1 14-oz. package soft (or silken, or Japanese style) tofu, drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch lengths

2 teaspoons cornstarch (dry)

2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

1. Marinate the pork: stir the ground pork, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce together, let stand 10 minutes.

2. Make the sauce: stir 2 tablespoons soy sauce in a bowl with the sesame oil and one cup water. Set aside.

3. Chop the water chestnuts, mushrooms, green onions, throw them all in bowl and set aside. Get your chopped garlic ready. Make sure your tofu is cut and drained. You want everything chopped before you start a stir-fry, because the actual cooking takes like 4 minutes.

4. Heat a wok, skillet, or cast-iron pan over high heat until hot. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and stir fry until fragrant, mybe 20 seconds. Add the pork, whatever bean/chili paste or sauce you are using, and stir fry until the pork is crumbly, 2-3 minutes.

5. Pour the sauce into the pan along with the cut vegetables (water chestnuts, mushrooms, green onions). Slide in your tofu, stir gently or swirl the pan to get the tofu coated with the sauce. Let simmer until heated through, 2-3 minutes. Don’t freak out if your soft tofu starts to break apart. Just be as gentle as you can.

6. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook gently, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens, about 1 minute. If you don’t care if your sauce is runny, you can omit this step.

7. Take off heat. Serve over hot brown rice!

yoonanimous reviews: water bottles

My family has approximately 200 water bottles, and most of them blow. If you’re in the market for one, I’m here to help you narrow the field.

I’ve had a lifelong struggle with water consumption. I know I need 8 cups a day. But I hate drinking liquids. My friend Ryan says that he prefers to drink his calories, in the form of beer. Not me. I prefer to eat my calories, in the form of bratwurst.

While I hate drinking water, I am an eternal optimist when it comes to water consumption. So I have a water tank in my house and fresh water delivered bi-weekly. And in hopes that setting the stage for water consumption will lead to the eventual drinking of water, I buy water bottles. Lots of water bottles.

My ratings are broken down into three categories, and go from a scale of 1-5. Drinkability refers to your ability to actually access the water in the water bottle. Portability refers to the water bottle’s take-it-and-go factor. The Kid Factor measures the bottle’s ability to withstand children, which in my case often depends on the hardiness of the nozzle. My kids are aggressive masticators. Like beavers.

1. The Camelback

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Judging by the selection at REI, the Camelback is the water bottle of choice here in Portland. The Camelback Eddy is hardy and indestructible. It is also large, heavy, and unwieldy, so much so that I feel nervous carrying it by its handle. The bite valves might as well be Haribo gummy bears as far as my kids are concerned. They have chewed through two 3-piece replacement packs with feverish intensity.

But let’s get right down to the nitty gritty about the Camelback, which is that you have to suck so hard on the nozzle to get the water out that it makes water-drinking both difficult and lewd. Tom once wiggled his eyebrows at me while watching me suck on the Camelback. I submit that if your water drinking can put your spouse in a romantic mood, you need a new water bottle.

Drinkability: 1; Portability: 2; Kid Factor: 1. Total: 4/15

2. The Sigg

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I must enjoy the Sigg because I’ve had one since law school. It has a pleasing shape and the seal on that cap is airtight. The lip has a nice curved shape and the flow of water is neither too fast nor too slow. It’s a bit large but it seems much lighter than the Camelback.

The problem with the Sigg and all other stainless bottles is the mystery about what’s inside. I guess it doesn’t matter because you’re just putting water in it. But if I start to think about it, I am uncomfortable with how dirty the innards of my Sigg might be. So I try not to think about it.

Drinkability: 4; Portability: 4; Kid Factor: 3. Total: 11/15

3. The Lululemon POS

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I think this bottle is a knock-off of the Lifefactory bottles that were ubiquitous for a while. It’s made of glass, which feels clean and virtuous, and the glass is encased in a rubber cover so that if you drop it, the bottle, in theory, won’t break. I say “in theory” because I’ve dropped a Lifefactory bottle and it shattered, just like every other glass item I have ever dropped.

I guess if I had to choose one thing that I like about this water bottle, I’d have to say the color. Sigh. I have tried hard to love this water bottle, because my kid gave it to me for Mother’s Day.

And yet, I cannot love this terrible bottle. First, while the cap is presumably airtight if properly sealed, I wouldn’t really know, because I have never properly sealed it, despite taking time out of my schedule one weekday morning to sit down and try to figure out where I was going wrong in my operation of the Lululemon POS.

To compound the problem, if the lid on this sucker isn’t on tight, you’re in for a world of pain, thanks to that wide opening. Which brings me to point number 2: it is impossible to drink water from this bottle without dousing your entire face and possibly your torso. Perhaps I have poor hand-eye coordination. But I have a hard time believing that, because I am very good at ping-pong. Instead, I choose to believe that the design of this bottle is inherently flawed. Also, the bottle is so tall and skinny that it tips over at the slightest hint of wind. Oh, and my kids never, ever choose this water bottle for themselves, because it weighs approximately five pounds. Don’t believe me? Watch.

Drinkability: 0; Portability: 0; Kid Factor: 1. Total: 1/15

4. The Bkr

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The Bkr, like the Lululemon POS, is made of glass encased in rubber. Also like the Lululemon POS, the Bkr is a classic example of form over function. For example, the spout is so small that when I drink from it, I can’t help but imagine that I am a tiny hummingbird using its tiny beak to draw (pollen? honey? dew?) from the stamen of a tiny, tiny flower. The tiny opening also makes it impossible to clean, or fill. If I’m trying to fill it from a water tank I actually have to crouch down and look up into the undercarriage of the water tank to ensure that I have placed the tiny opening of the water bottle directly under the spout, because if I don’t, the water just splashes all over. Drinking water is hard enough. I don’t need obstacles.

Drinkability: 1; Portability: 5; Kid Factor: 1. Total: 7/15

5. The Klean Kanteen

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The Klean Kanteen is a standby in my house and we have many of them. It’s made of light stainless steel, and has a wider opening than the Sigg, which provides a satisfying but non-threatening flow of water. The width of the opening also allows you to look inside and actually clean the bottle. The lid has a handy loop for your finger. The slim shape fits nicely into a bag but is not so skinny that it will tip over. My only complaint with this bottle is that the lid, not being attached to the bottle, tends to go missing. But that’s not the bottle’s fault.

Drinkability: 4; Portability: 5; Kid Factor: 4. Total: 13/15

6. The Crocodile Creek

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I’ve included my wine glass in all these pics to provide scale. As you can see, the Crocodile Creek, being designed for kids, is much smaller than the others. I’ve included it here because it is Tate’s favorite water bottle, and he asks for it by name (“my tiger one”). I think he likes the size of the spout, and that it is easy for him to handle. The small size makes it very portable. It’s very cute to look at. All that aside, if you are older than three, you might be frustrated by the pathetic flow of water, which is akin to what you might experience if someone were to wring a damp washcloth into your mouth. And while your toddler might love it, your older kid will shun it. Finn calls it a baby bottle and says it smells bad. But boy does Tate love it.

Drinkability: 3 (for kids); Portability: 4; Kid Factor: 5. Total: 12/15

7. The Contigo

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Ah, the Contigo. Linds has had one for a year, and she carries it everywhere. She drinks more water than anyone I know. I mean, so much water that it can feel alarming for a non-drinker to observe. Eventually I started wondering if it might be her water bottle. So I finally gave in and ordered one.

Now, my kids and I fight over the Contigo. Because it is an amazing water bottle. First, the size of it is like a slimmed-down version of the Camelback, with all the Camelback’s sturdiness. The nozzle is a hard plastic but it’s not gummy or chewy like the one on the Camelback. Instead, the Contigo nozzle facilitates your intake of the most satisying drink of water you’ve ever had. A steady, continuous stream of hydration. Linds described this water bottle best when she said that it actually makes water taste better.

But that’s not all folks. The nozzle, once locked, is leakproof. I have carried it inside my leather bag for a month with nary a drop spilled. The bottle is also entertaining, thanks to the white button that unlocks the nozzle and flings it into ready position. That’s the one complaint I have about the Contigo–when it unlocks, the nozzle flings a small spray of water in your face. But listen, with the Contigo, it’s all so good that even the spray feels intentional. Like it was designed to heighten your enjoyment of the water.

Drinkability: 5; Portability: 5; Kid Factor: 5. Total: 15/15

The Yoonanimous final rankings:

1. The Contigo (15/15)

2. The Klean Kanteen (13/15)

3. The Crocodile Creek (12/15)

4. The Sigg (11/15)

5. The Bkr (7/15)

6. The Camelback (4/15)

7. The Lululemon POS (1/15)

What have I missed? Do you have a water bottle that you love to hate, or one that beats my Contigo? I’m always on the hunt, and want to hear about it.

naked in a korean spa

When I was young, my mom would break out a little red mitt every few weeks and scrub my skin in the tub. The red mitt was like a sandpaper envelope that she stuck her hand into. She’d leave me soaking in the hot water, then pull out an arm, and then start scrubbing the shit out of it. And I’d watch as my dead skin would fall into the tub in gray rolls. Then I’d shower it all off, and feel reborn.

Ok, that’s a lie. When I was a kid, I didn’t feel reborn, I felt harassed—nay, tortured. But now, I crave that feeling. That feeling of being clean, stripped of all the dirt and grime and sweat that a body can accumulate, just from the business of being alive. There’s only one place you can get that feeling as an adult, and that’s at a Korean spa.

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I’ve been to Korean spas in Seoul, LA, and NYC, but I forgot about them until my friend Kathryn mentioned that she’d heard of one near Seattle. Around the same time, my mom and her friends started taking day trips up to Federal Way and would return with pink, glowy skin and bags full of Korean groceries. That’s when I really started paying attention. You know a Korean spa is legit if a bunch of Korean moms will drive two hours to get to it.

Kathryn and I started planning, and made the spa the first stop of a girls’ weekend up in Seattle with Linds. Linds was working on Friday and couldn’t go to the spa anyway because she’s preggers, but it was clearly for the best, because the first thing to know about a Korean spa is that you have to be nude in order to partake. There are numerous hot and cold pools and steam rooms and showers and everyone moves between these things buck naked. I’m not 100% clear on the reasons WHY you have to be naked all the time, but rules are rules. Anyway, Linds would rather pull out her fingernails than be naked in front of other people.

For some reason, I only remembered the nakedness on the day before the spa. I’d be naked all day with Kathryn, whose standards for personal grooming generally seem a lot higher than mine. I texted Linds in a panic.

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Too preoccupied with my own panic, I forgot to mention the nakedness to Kathryn until the drive up to Federal Way. Kathryn is pretty game, but she refused to believe that she would be required to spend a spa day naked with someone she’d have to see again. “Wait,” Kathryn said, shaking her head while navigating I-5. “I’ve been to a Korean spa in Santa Monica and they gave us these pajama things.”

Santa Monica? I didn’t have the heart to tell K that no self-respecting Korean would go for a scrub in Santa Monica. I highly doubted the spa had even been Korean. More importantly, my authority on the matter was being questioned. I couldn’t believe that K had the nads to believe that she knew more about Korean spas than me, a real Korean. It was as if she’d offered me a recipe for kimchee.

“No, you have to be naked the whole time,” I said. “That’s what my Mom said.” I felt proud of myself for leaving off the “So there.” K still wasn’t buying it. “No, but not the ENTIRE time, right?” I stopped being annoyed, and started to be concerned. Because she sounded nervous and unsure. And she was about to be naked in that mind state, for four hours.

Once inside Palace Spa, we were each handed a pink shorty pajama set. “See!” Kathryn said, the relief palpable in her voice. We received a tour of the facilities, and peeked into the wet area. “No clothing allowed in this section,” our guide announced.

Whatever. I was fully on-board with the nudity by this point. None of the women walking around were exactly hard-bodied. Plus I’d noted at check-in that the shorty pajama set had an elastic waistband and a high v-neck. I knew what I’d look like in that outfit, and what I’d look like, wouldn’t be female. I’d happily be naked all day if it meant I could avoid that outfit.

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you’re not entirely naked. you also wear this hat

Kathryn and I spent the next hour getting our skin nice and wet for our scrubs and trying to avoid one another. I steamed in the steam room, sliding around like a trained seal on the wet tile benches. Kathryn alternated between cold and hot plunge pools, where I overheard another woman asking K if she was a triathlete. I felt happy for my friend. Getting asked if you’re a triathlete while you’re naked has to be the equivalent of winning the damn lotto. I wouldn’t know. No one asked me if I was a triathlete.

At 2:00 pm, we met up in the communal scrub room, which consisted of a long row of massage tables. Kathryn was already face down on her table, being pummeled by a short Korean woman wearing nothing but a black bra and panties. I barely had a chance to absorb the indignity of it all before I was told to lay down on my table, by another Korean woman wearing surprisingly saucy lingerie. Don’t get excited. The women have to dress that way because for the next hour, they will be scrubbing your skin with wet mitts and sloshing hot water on you with buckets. Wearing clothes while doing that work would be pointless.

How to describe the scrubbing? Let me just say that at one point, when the lady was working on my shinbone, I imagined my leg gleaming like fine alabaster in the midday sun, to divert myself from shrieking in pain. Worse was when she unceremoniously threw my legs open and got her scrubbing mitt uncomfortably close to my lady parts. She flopped me over and scrubbed my back before shoving her elbows into my neck for some light reflexology. Face down, I wiggled my fingers and felt my fingers graze something. My eyes opened to see what I’d grazed. Little pieces of black stuff all over the table.

My dead skin. Nasty!

No longer part of me! Glorious.

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scrub glow. much easier to attain than pregnancy glow

That night in Seattle, K kept asking me and Linds to feel her elbows. “You guys! Feel my elbows!!” I understood her excitement. Every part of me felt immeasurably softer, cleaner, glowier. Not even Kathryn’s alarming discovery that her spa lady had scrubbed freckles off her chest could kill my buzz.

And all for $99!! We are hooked. And we’ll be back.

the salad i can’t quit

When Cuz lived here, she endeared herself to me by eating our leftovers. I am really talented at creating leftovers. I am also good at packing leftovers, and storing them in the refrigerator. But I am bad at eating them.

That’s because I’m highly prone to food exhaustion. Tom, on the other hand, can eat the same thing every day. When I met him in NYC he was subsisting on sushi and the Route 66 burrito from Burritoville. One or the other. Every single day.

When Baja Fresh opened in Portland ten years ago, Tom made me eat there all the time. And then one day, I stepped into a Baja Fresh and smelled that unmistakable Baja Fresh cilantro smell, and felt like I was going to throw up. I knew then that I could never eat at Baja Fresh again, no matter how many free jalapenos they offered at the salsa bar. The same thing happened to me at Chipotle, but I still have to go there for my kids. Actually now that I think about it, maybe it’s not food exhaustion, maybe it’s cilantro exhaustion.

Whatever. All I know is that I hate to eat the same meal twice in a row. Unless it is this salad, which I have eaten at least ten times since Mother’s Day, when I received “Super Natural Every Day,” the cookbook the salad can be found in, from my kids. I cannot stop making this salad. I cannot stop eating this salad. TOM cannot stop eating this salad, and he thinks of salads as punishment, or an evil to be borne. I brought the salad to a party last night and three friends asked for the recipe.

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mother’s day. photo by finn

It works for me because it’s a whole grain salad, and I dig whole grain salads. They seem healthy, but are substantial enough to be satisfying. And they pack well for lunch.

By the way, if you live in Portland, there is a lunch place downtown called the Picnic House that has the most insanely delicious brown rice salad. Take my word for it. I went to get one last week and they had just run out, and I started crying. Not SOBBING, but there was definitely moisture on my face. I mean, I’d had a shitty day up to that point so it wasn’t just the salad, but still. Go get one.

Or just cook this salad at home, which is different, but similar, in that feeling of nuttiness, chewiness, wholesomeness, deliciousness. This salad is interesting in that the flavors are Asian. My kids would eat their own shoes if they had soy sauce and sesame oil on them. If yours would too, they might like this. If you have leftover whole grains in your fridge, this can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

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Kale Salad with Coconut and Sesame Oil

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce, shoyu, or tamari

4 cups (lightly packed) kale, preferably lacinato/dinosaur/tuscan (about one large bunch) (large stems removed, torn or chopped)

1 cup large-flake unsweetened coconut

2 cups cooked whole grain (something firm–I like farro and brown rice for this, but bulgur, wheatberries, or barley would all work well)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Put two racks near top.

2. Put sesame oil, olive oil, and soy sauce into a jar or bowl. Whisk to blend, or just put the lid on the jar and shake the hell out of it.

3. Put kale and coconut in large bowl and toss with 2/3 of the dressing mixture to coat. This step works best if you use your hands to massage the dressing onto the kale leaves. Spread evenly over two baking sheets.

4. Bake for 12-18 minutes total, switching racks and flipping kale halfway through. You should end up with kale that is still green but toasted and brown at edges.

5. Combine kale/coconut with the whole grains. Toss to combine. Add as much of the leftover dressing as you like.

Serves 2-3 as meal, maybe 6 as appetizer.

Note: This is also really good with roasted butternut squash if you want more color and texture to the salad.

a chest so full

I don’t know a single woman who is fully content with her looks. But I know a lot of men who are. It’s an odd truth, but one I never really thought about until my six-year old son began going around shirtless.

In the universe of cute things, I find little-boy torsos to be right at the top. The big head, teetering on gawky, narrow shoulders. Skin so pale it’s translucent in spots. A mountain range of ribs. Tiny baby moles, some in the same spots as my own. Nothing makes me happier than sticking my nose into Finn’s neck and feeling his laugh vibrate. I can feel his life blood beating there, the humid warmth mixing with the almost powdery freshness of youth.

I love Finn’s bare torso, but that doesn’t mean I’m not alarmed when I see it out in public. First to go were the pajama tops. “Where’s your shirt?,” I’d ask, when he’d come down for breakfast in the chill. He’d shrug as Cheerios fell from his mouth to rest on his bony chest. Spring came, and the temps got into the high 50’s. And then Finn started taking his shirt off at every opportunity. He takes off his shirt to play outside. He takes off his shirt to eat dinner. He takes off his shirt to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He’s always fully dressed for winter on the bottom, which makes it even weirder.

I don’t fuss. If I’ve learned anything from my six years as a parent, it’s that odd behavior explodes exponentially the more you remark on it. A lesson I learned the hard way, with booger eating. Some things are better ignored.

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As with all things, Tate has started taking his big brother’s lead with the semi-nudity. But at least Finn has some meat on his bones. Tate’s 3-year old torso looks exactly like E.T.’s. That’s what you end up with when your favorite food is watermelon.

I don’t know if Finn associates bare torsos with athletes, which is a possibility. Or if he is taking a cue from Tom, who will start walking around shirtless after any two consecutive days of gym visits. “Do I look bigger??,” Tom will ask, while flexing his chest. Or, stretching luxuriously after a shower: “Do you want to touch my muscles?” I always try to nod yes. Because these are the kindnesses that life partners owe to one another.

I laugh at my guys, but I wish I had more of their confidence, their ease, their comfort with self. That extra five pounds? I’m fooling myself if I think anyone cares but me. Sometimes the constant struggle to be stronger, thinner, better—it just leaves me feeling hungry. And I want to feel full. Sated. Not by food, but by the knowledge that all the big and small pleasures in my life make me whole.

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