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wisdom from cuz

Well, it’s happening. Cuz, who has lived with us for about a year, is leaving. Off to architecture school. We will miss her. Cuz is hard to describe, but imagine a 5’5″ ball of sass rolled in black eyeliner, leather, and Haribo wrappers.

Tom will miss his TV and sugar buddy. Cuz’s appetite for television is almost equal to Tom’s. He complains that since she moved in, all the TVs in the house are always set to Bravo. I don’t watch, but I can’t imagine the actual episodes of Married to Medicine being any more entertaining than her verbal recaps.

I will miss watching Cuz and Tom’s epic sugar battles. Like when Cuz brought home a half-gallon of Cake Batter ice cream, which she doesn’t even like, just because she knew it was the one flavor Tom wouldn’t eat. I witnessed the shitstorm that ensued when Cuz discovered that Tom had eaten the entire container anyway, after a late-night Game of Thrones bender.

I will miss Tom’s confusion over Cuz’s grooming habits. “What is she DOING in there??,” he will hiss at me, when Cuz has been in the bathroom for a long while. As if I would know. I assume it’s her skincare regimen.

I’ll miss Tom and Cuz’s ragtag laundry assembly line, in which Cuz will wash ten consecutive loads of laundry, Tom will fold all of it, and then neither of them will put any of it away, resulting in this log jam in my bedroom, which stresses me out not at all.

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Tate will miss Cuz’s skills at inserting tiny little weapons into the hands of tiny little lego figures. He will miss her shrimp fried rice.

But of all of us, I suspect it’s Finn who will miss her the most. They’ve had some epic battles, Finn and Cuz. From the start, Finn has been confused by Cuz’s status in the hierarchy of our household, a confusion that has been aided by the fact that Cuz has a baby face and is not that much taller than Finn.

But Finn and Cuz—they talk. They talk about stuff that Finn doesn’t talk about with me, or his dad. I usually only hear about it secondhand, after the fact. Like on our way to the dentist, when Finn sat in the back of the car wringing his hands like Lady Macbeth and muttering to himself about cavities. “How does he even KNOW about cavities?,” I whispered to Cuz, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. “Oh, because of me,” she answered, blithely. “I told him I had cavities when I was a kid and that they hurt really, really bad.”

I wouldn’t have delivered the message in quite that way. But Finn now wants to brush his teeth. Like, all the time. Such is the power of Cuz.

Best of all are Cuz’s lessons on more abstract topics. Like the rigors of fame.

Finn: “I want to be a good soccer player so I can be famous like Lionel Messi.”

Cuz: “You know, Finn, fame isn’t all that great.”

Finn: “What do you mean?”

Cuz: “Well, when you’re famous, people hate you. Like Robin Van Persie. Remember when he played for Arsenal and everyone loved him? Well now he plays for Manchester United and everyone in London hates him. You wouldn’t want everyone to hate you, right?”

Finn: (confused stare).

I couldn’t have eviscerated the glamour of fame any more efficiently. And she did it using terms Finn understands.

It will be hard to replace that kind of wisdom.

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master of the cleanse

It’s January and Tom’s cleansing, which means the whole family is suffering. The last time we did a cleanse, I participated but only made it six days, while Tom lost a ton of weight after three weeks of eating like a hamster. This year, I tried to cleanse but either my heart’s not in it or my willpower has declined even further than last year, because here’s how my first three days went:

Day 1: green smoothie for breakfast, green smoothie for lunch, half of large pizza and twelve pieces of toffee for dinner

Day 2: green smoothie for breakfast, green smoothie for lunch, Korean BBQ for second lunch (I’m conditioned to eat when my mom cooks), penne with vodka sauce for dinner

Day 3: green smoothie for breakfast, green smoothie for lunch, Chipotle salad for dinner (Yes!! I had a salad for dinner!!), pot of rice and two fried eggs for second dinner

I don’t weigh myself anymore, but my pants aren’t fitting any looser, which tells me that my body prefers to have its calories spread more equitably over three meals, instead of in one huge gut bomb at dinner. The problem is that when I eat the one solid meal that I’m allowed at lunchtime, I become such a ravenous bitch in the evening that no one in my family wants to talk to me, or even look in my direction. That’s if I even make it home. Because when you’re that hungry and the only thing waiting for you at home is your kids and your manorexic husband and a cold, liquid dinner—honestly, why go home?

When you have a smoothie for dinner, you become keenly aware of how many hours there are between dinner and bedtime. Last time around, I’d have my dinner smoothie, watch a little TV and drool at all the Taco Bell commercials—for the record, I had the idea to make taco shells out of Doritos like 15 years ago—then go to bed at 7:50 to prevent myself from eating two packages of ramen noodles, raw.

Before you say that a cleanse isn’t about losing weight, here’s how I feel about that: anyone who says they aren’t doing a cleanse at least partly for weight loss is either an idiot or a liar. I mean, cleaning your digestive tract is nice and all, but you can’t see clean bowels from the outside. Why suffer that kind of deprivation if you aren’t going to see some discernable change? The reality is that no one wants to say they want to lose weight, because then people start thinking that you think you’re fat, which makes them start thinking that you might be fat. Anyway, I think it would be super refreshing if someone answered “because I want my belly spooge to stay tucked into my pants” when asked why they are cleansing.

Tom is a huge optimist, which means that it only takes about three days of cleanse before he starts feeling and acting like Deepak Chopra. Seven days of cleanse and he starts walking around the house without a shirt on. After a couple weeks, he ascends to a higher plane where he treats food as if it completely optional to his existence. He’ll sit at the table nursing a mug of hot lemon water and observe you eating your meal as if you are a giant pig rooting around in a trough of table scraps. If you’re cleansing, don’t do this to others, because it’s highly annoying and makes them feel like punching your smug, emaciated little face.

If you’re cleansing, good luck. I envy you your willpower and spotless intestines.

reposting an early post about thanksgiving and gifts

yoonanimous

This Thanksgiving and every other, I’m grateful for my husband, who makes me laugh every day.

Three months after I met my husband, he gave me a diamond necklace. When Tom wants something, he wants it bad, and at that particular moment in time, he wanted me. I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m telling you this at the outset to give you some background, and also because Tom demanded that I write something to mitigate the implication that runs throughout the remainder of this post, which is 1) that he is cheap, and 2) that he has terrible taste. Neither of these is true, but you’d never know it from some of the gifts he’s gotten me over the years.

Guys, I humbly suggest that you at least skim the rest of this post before you hit the mall for your lady’s gift this holiday season. Ladies…

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happy birthday to this blog

Tate had his third birthday party about a month ago and he’s having a real hard time letting go. He keeps asking if we can go to his birthday party again, and greets random people by crinkling his brow and saying, “you wuz at my birthday party, riiiight?” I thought he was finally forgetting about birthdays until we brought Omar, his classroom pet, home for the weekend. When Omar was settled, Tate plucked two votives from their holders, set them down in front of the terrified guinea pig, and crooned “happy birthday.” Not to Omar. To himself.

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Well I’m not much for birthdays, given that I just continue to get older and increasingly have to buy my own presents if I want anything good. But yesterday was the one year anniversary of yoonanimous. And as loathe as I am to celebrate aging of any kind, I permitted myself to feel a moment of happiness at the thought that I’ve been blogging for a year.

Blogging sure looks easy, doesn’t it? It can be easy, and fun. But sometimes, when you’re tired and cranky and premenstrual, blogging can feel an awful lot like a job. My goal is to post twice a week, but sometimes, nothing happens that’s worth writing about. And then, there’s Tom. I’d write about him every single time, because the material is SO GOOD. I mean, you have no idea how ridiculous my husband is in real life. There’s a post about his grooming habits that I’ve been tempted to publish at least ten times in spite of his threats to divorce me. I’ve argued that he’s infringing on my First Amendment rights. He says I should go ahead and sue because he likes his odds. Anyway, when Tom starts talking about “boundaries,” my marriage vows require that I at least pretend like I’m listening.

This post is a celebration, yo. I celebrate this blog, because I now have a journal of sorts, a record of many of the highs and lows that I experienced with my dudes at this particular moment in our lives. Stuff I wouldn’t have written down without the excuse of this blog. And I celebrate you—for reading, for writing really good comments, and for supporting this little non-profit operation I’ve got going.

THANK YOU.

pesto for all

I feel like my kids are turning a corner with food, as my friends promised me they would. Finn ate the celery or carrots in his lunchbox, five days in a row. At dinner on Tuesday he only dry-heaved twice while eating a green bean. On Thursday, Tate ate two fistfuls of broccoli when I looked past my fear of celebrity chefs to try Jessica Seinfeld’s admittedly delicious recipe for Beef with Broccoli.

I can hardly breathe for the excitement. But I’ve gotten excited at my kids’ minor dietary improvements in the past, scared them by going overboard (see, spinach-garbonzo bean fritters), and ended up worse off than before. This time, I’m pacing myself.

So, pesto. My friends Patrick and Mollyanne brought some pesto for the kids when we went on vacation. Patrick is a chef, so I’m constantly watching his kids eat stuff that makes me want to flip a table over, in rage and jealousy. But Tate, who I suspect would be an adventurous eater if he didn’t see his big brother reject foods on a daily basis, ate up Mollyanne’s pesto, quick as a wink. Finn, that wretch, refused to try it. But Finn’s recent forays into new foods had me hopeful. So yesterday, I made my own batch of spinach-basil pesto, heavy on the spinach.

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Look at the color!! A bright and sexy jade green. Almost unidentifiable as a food object, in the best possible way.

Unfortunately, Finn’s not impressed with the color green, especially as it relates to food. When I brought the pasta to the table, he actually cried. I’m accustomed to it now, but still, there’s no crappier feeling than cooking something that reduces someone to tears.  I made a five-pound turkey meatloaf once that had Tom crying for a week.  I know it’s not right, but when it happens, my first impulse is to dump the food on the head of the person who is crying, or to smash their face into their plate.

In any event, this isn’t my first ride on the merry-go-round. At this point, the crying has to be pretty intense to faze me–like, there have to be hiccups.  I ignored Finn’s tears and put three pieces of green pasta on his plate, and told him he was to try it. After his second bite, his grimace relaxed into a confused expression. And then, the clouds parted. “I like pesto, Mama.” He ate two bowls for dinner, and a cucumber from the salad (dry heave: 1). All told, he probably had a single serving of vegetables. But still, better than nothing.

That’s not even the clincher. When I tucked him into bed later that night, Finn requested pesto in his lunchbox the next day.

I may have cried a bit myself when he said that. Tears of motherlovin’ joy.

No Tears Spinach-Basil Pesto

1 cup packed spinach leaves (more or less won’t hurt)

1 cup packed basil leaves (ditto)

2 T pine nuts

1-2 cloves garlic

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1. Combine ingredients in a food processor. Whir until blended into a rough paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or refrigerate with plastic wrap touching the top of the pesto, to retain the color. Store up to three days.

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