Thursday, May 28, 2015

shit my kids say, vol. 3

When my kids are not causing me to curl up in the fetal position on a corner of the kitchen floor, they're cracking my shit up. Here's the most recent installment of mild to moderate hilarity from Jack ("four and free quarters") and Colby ("just plain free").

Jack: Refried beans = "Mexican hummus."

Colby: "Mac & cheese makes my heart happy." And she wanted to put butter on her cheese. Because, who wouldn't want to double up on two of the lord's most perfect creations. It's like the Beyonce and Jay-Z of dairy products. A match made in heaven.

Oh and they refer to Sriracha as "Awesome Sauce."
Jack likes a little kick, but Colby is not a big fan of "Picey Stuff."
C: "Twust me, I do NOT LIKE Awesome Sauce. It will burn up my frope [throat] and give me tummy twubbles!"
The kids have been into wrestling and whatnot lately. My sister and I never really did that and my brother is 11 years younger than me, so I am just making up the rules as we go along. The other night they were playing "American Ninja Princess Warrior" and there was a loud thunk and then tears. I yelled from the kitchen, "Keep your hands to yourselves, guys." J: "We ARE keeping our hands to ourselves! Just smashing bodies and heads!" Oh. Well then, Carry on.

And here's Colby's assessment of American Ninja Princess Warrior: "We both fight, but he falls down."

We still talk about Blue, my best old puppy dog who died at the age of 13 last August. Colby asked "How did Blue get to Heavens?" J: "Pwobly Heaven's Ambulance." That's definitely going to be the name of my death metal band.

C: "We miss you, Blue. You're welcome home. But you're dead." Hopefully tact is something that develops with age?

We also talk about our new dog, Feta, and her physiological challenges:

C: "Feta can't open pwesents cuz she doesn't has fumbs [thumbs]." And "I can't sit in Feta's lap cuz dogs don't has laps." Keen observation, child.

I had to take J to dog training class with me. He said "I pwomise I will be as peaceful as a wock."

Speaking of peaceful, the other day we were reading this book, "What peace means to me." I was asking the kids what peace meant to them, and Jack said "Peace means being helpful and respectful and being responsible. And peace means when there are only two pieces of pizza left and you want them both but your sister wants one, so you share with her." He added, " Then, I use my big boy voice and ask nicely for you and Daddy to buy me another pizza." Sounds about right ;)

C playing with a mermaid doll: "What's dis fwapping ting?"
Me: "Her mermaid tail."
C: "To kick bawls?"
Me: "If necessary." ;)

Oh and when we were planning Colby's third birthday celebrations she said "I want to have my birfday with Grandma and Grandpa. We can bwing my birfday to Delaware! But don't get my birfday dirty!"

And am I the only one whose kids are kind of morbid little weirdos?

J: "If you run a red light then the police officer will give you a ticket and then shoot you."

J: "Bad guys go in the 'shreddah' (I take it this is like a human-sized Ninja blender?) and get shredded and turned into a smoothie that monsters can drink through a straw." WTF?

C singing along to Frosty the Snowman: "Froooostyyyy da snowman, was alive and den was dead..."

But sometimes they're just cute and funny and strange.

DM to C: "Do you know you're the cutest daughter that I have?"
C: "Yep. Sometimes I'm bad, but I'm still willy cute, even when I'm bad."
Truth. And therein lies the problem. I swear it must be an evolutionary thing.

J: "Colby, dat is NOT appwopwiate for kids to say."

I don't know why but this made me laugh:

J: "Can we have bowtie pasta sometime? Aidan has it in his lunch."
Me: "Would you like it in your lunch?"
J: "No. I don't like cold pasta, mama. I've told you that maybe like 10 times or so."
Me: "I know, but you might change your mind. I love cold pasta."
J: "I will never change my mind."
Me: "You never know. Anything's possible."
J: "Mama, did you always like cold pasta?"
Me: "I think so."
J: "Well. Someday you might change your mind and not like it anymore. Anything's possible."
Me: "Anything's possible."

J: "Can you do such-and-such thing for me?"
Me: "I can't right now, bud. I'll do it in a few minutes."
J: "I need you to do it right now or else I'll turn into a statue."
Me: "Buddy, you have to be patient. I'm doing a million things at once here."
J: "Not really a million. Maybe like seven."
Me: "Okay. Seven. That's still a lot. Now can you get out of the kitchen? Please? I've asked you guys twenty times already."
J: "You haven't exactly asked twenty times. Only two or three."

J: "When I'm 18 I'll technically be an adult."

J: "What's da' big idea, woman?!"

C & DM having a lively conversation about the sounds poop makes when it hits the toilet. (Gross.)
C: "Don't make that face!"
DM: "Okay, sorry."
C: "I said don't make that face!"
DM: "That was a different face!"
C: "I don't want any of your faces right now!"
Sister, I know how you feel ;)

C: "Let's get ourselves situated." Let's :)

C: "I'm in jail because of my fwend."
J: "And he is pwobly no longer your fwend." Ha!

For Mother's Day weekend, we had a little "staycation" at a local hotel. We got a sitter while DM took me out to brunch Saturday, then he dropped me at the hotel to lounge while he ran the kids and the dog, and brought the kids and dinner around 5:30 or 6. At bedtime we're all saying our goodnights.
C: "Goodnight. I love you. I hope you sleep well. I had a wonderful day."
Me: "Aww, I had a wonderful day too!"
C: "What da HECK are you talking bout?! You're weren't even dare for any of it!"
Ouch! Knife to the heart. Ha. Well. I never said I had a wonderful day with you, punky brewster! :p

Lately Colby has been saying things like, "Send Daddy and email to 'wemind him' to bwing my blankie" (like, when he's in the other room). And she recently asked me to send a text message to Santa. A real 21st Century child!

I had knee surgery last week, and Colby's theory on my injury is as follows: "Mama ate too many tacos, and broke her knee."
Me: "Hey! The doctor said I was a perfectly healthy weight! This is not a taco-induced injury!"
J: "The doctah was wrooooong."

Me, playing Memory with Colby: "You have an excellent memory. I'm impressed."
C: "Because I have a good heart!"
Me: "You do have a good heart! Also a big brain."
C: "And I'm stylish." *Raising eyebrows up and down behind sunglasses.*

Colby noticed a three-day-old injury in the bath today. It was like experiencing the pain and trauma all over again. She needed a moment. Then she said "I tink dis is da worst ting dat ever happened to me."
J: "No it isn't. You could've been shot in the head. Or stabbed with electricity. Sensei wouldn't cry 'bout an elbow."
Welcome to Real Talk with Jackson Jay.

C: "I made this necklace for you because you're my special curly girl."
Me: "Oh my gosh, thank you so much!"
Two minutes later -
C: "You have to share it because I also made it for Jack. Take it off now."

Me: "Colbs, will you snuggle me for a minute?"
C: "I'll snuggle you forevah and evah." *Patting me.* "I'll always take care of you, Mama."
Me: Awww. *Heart melting.*
C: *Scrunching up her face.* "What's dat smell???"
Me: "What smell?"
C: "P-U! Dat's your stinky coffee bweff! You need to go bwush yo' teef, Mama. Den you can come back and snuggle. Go ahead. I'll save your spot."

Oh man, and this killed me:

[Heard while swimming]
C: "Daddy, don't let go of me until I'm ready."
DM: "Baby, I won't let go of you until long after you're ready." <3

(For a retrospective of sh*t my kids say, see volumes I and II. Also, sh*t my husband says. And volume IV is coming soon. My kids are just SO HILARIOUS I couldn't fit it all in one post ;))

If you liked this, you'll love my essay in I Still Just Want To Pee Alone. Buy it HERE!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

if i were in witness protection, i'd be dead

Sorry I've been MIA. The other day DM said "Why haven't there been any new posts from my favorite blogger?!" I know I've been slacking when that guy notices my absence ;) 

I was briefly considering going into retirement. I mean, I've got to think I Still Just Want To Pee Alone is the highlight of my career, and I want to go out while I'm still on top, you know? Don't want to be like Michael Jordan coming back 13 times to several different sports and making a fool of myself. You gotta know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, right?

But I can't stay away. 

Plus I never told you guys about the fancy book signings. What good is experiencing the zenith of your writing career if you don't tell the tale?!

DM texted the night I was leaving (I was still at work) and said "Somebody loves you." Spoiler alert: It wasn't him. I mean he DOES love me but he did not leave me this Good Luck Goodie Basket. That was all my little sis. Not pictured: Antiperspirant and Immodium AD. Just kidding ;)
So. Book signings. Calabasas. It's so pretty there, by the way. And they definitely did not get the memo about the whole biblical drought situation in California. It's like living in a luscious green golf course. Also, hotel. By myself. Enough said. 

Darcy Perdu of So Then Stories orchestrated our book signing double-header, and let me tell you, that woman knows how to get. shit. done. We were supposed to meet at her house before the lunch-time signing at the Calabasas Library. She lives in this nice neighborhood and there's a gate with a guard and whatnot. Now, beforehand, we had talked about my whole pseudonym situation. Darcy herself writes under a nom de plume, and Foxy Wine Pocket did until recently as well. Jen Mann also kept it incognito for a while so everyone was super understanding of my privacy. They said they'll just know me as Mackenzie and that would be that. 

Here's the deal though. I can't, looking back, even tell you what possessed me to pick the name Mackenzie Cheeseman. I mean, there's the obvious mac-n-cheese reference of course. But if I had any idea that I might have actual non-obligatory readers, or be published, or sign books with that name, or introduce myself with a straight face, I probably would've given it a little more thought. I had the choice when the book was being published to go with my real name, but for multiple reasons, my continued employment being the foremost among them, and creepy chinless pervs driving windowless vans being a close second, I decided to stick with Mackenzie. I even got a cheese stamp for book signings. I'm what we call pot-committed at this point. 

Anyway, here I am driving up to the guard house. The guard asks for my name and I.D. 

Me: Ummmm, wellll.... here's the thing. I'm on "the list" as Mackenzie Cheeseman, but that's not my real name. 
Guard: ...
Me: See, I'm here for a book signing. Cuz I'm in a book? And I used a fake name because I don't want to get fired and also I'm terrified some chester molester will adult-nap me and turn me into human sushi so... Mackenzie Cheeseman is the fake name. But that's not on my driver's license. Obviously. 
Guard: I'm going to call [Ms. Perdu]. 'Hello, Ma'am, I have a [REAL NAME] here at the gate? 
[Judging by the guard's face, I can only guess Darcy said something along the lines of, "I've never heard of "REAL NAME" before in my life. Send that psycho stalker far far away, back to where she belongs, the land of crispy grass and TJ Maxx." (I kid I kid ;))]
Me: Tell her it's Mackenzie Cheeseman. 
Guard: 'She says she's Mackenzie... Cheese... man...?'  *Beat.* Then he hangs up, hands me my ID, and allows me to pass. But it becomes clear that I should probably not leave or attempt to re-enter the property alone ever again or else I will be locked up in the Calabasas Clink (which is probably quite comfortable, actually. I'm imagining Ethan Allen and 600 thread count Egyptian cotton linens). My crime: Impersonating a funny person ;) 

So. I show up on Darcy's doorstep even sweatier and nervous-er than I already would have been. Darcy, Kathryn, Tracy and Jen are already there, just chillin'. Still, I walk and like I'm under interrogation at Guantanamo, I completely spill the beans. "I can't do this. I can't. I can't live a lie. Just call me REAL NAME." Then I proceeded to give them my social security number, my bank accounts, and my high school locker combination in short order. It (I) continued to be weird for the rest of the day, because I had unburdened myself with the ladies, but still introduced myself during the readings and signings as Mackenzie, and was generally a spaz throughout. I was mostly referred to as "Mackenzie or whatever your name is" for the duration. 

The library signing was good. It wasn't empty, so that was a plus. Two good friends of mine came. People laughed some but then vanished into thin air the second we were done. My one friend had dutifully purchased her book beforehand, and I strong-armed my other buddy into buying one (after he had already graciously driven all the way to the valley, with an iced latte to boot) but that may have been the only one we sold there. (Actually that's not true. We ran into Ken Fink, author of Brass Knuckles, on our way out, and didn't even have to gently persuade him to buy one, he was totally game!) Anyway, my buddy was really funny about the whole thing, he said he told his guy friends "Oh yeah my friend is a published author, I'm headed to her book signing." Guys: "Cool, what's the name of the book?" Friend: "Uhh, I forgot. Gotta go!" Ha. What's wrong dude? If you forget the name, you can always use the giant toilet on the cover to jog your memory ;) But there were cupcakes and it was a good dry run for the evening affair. 

Along with my fake-identity crisis, I also decided  I didn't have the wherewithal to do the hand-held avatar for photos so, here I am. A blogger friend asked if I was "out of the closet" with respect to my secret identity. I made the analogy that I am like a man who has sex with men but does not self-identify as gay. (I had this on my mind because I just read "A Little Life." Whoa. Intense.) Anyway, I took from her reaction that the analogy was not remotely apt or appropriate. So. A more socially acceptable explanation: Real face. Fake name. (Sometimes.) Awkward. (Always.)
And, the evening affair was amazing! It was at this gorgeous community center and we had a totally packed house and I think we sold a book for every person in attendance! And maybe people got their pre-game on because they were certainly a more forgiving, boisterous crowd. It was really fun. As I told the other lovely ladies, it was one of the least painful experiences of spending an entire day with strangers, ever! And I didn't faint or barf or pee my pants (which would have been really awful because I wasn't wearing pants), so all in all it was a win. (Also, Darcy "The Powerhouse" Perdu is seriously a champion at life. I need a Darcy. She was the most gracious organizer and host. And her kids are just... lovely. I normally cringe when people use that word in seriousness but there is no other way to describe them. They are teenagers but they were SO friendly and helpful and not at all assholes. I plan to send my own children to Camp Calabasas in a few years :))

Here's a funny thing though. Out of all the authors in the book, I am probably the least "popular" or well known. I think I had 99 Facebook "likes" when this started and I literally have 4 followers on Blogger. Tracy On The Rocks is not quite as green as me but we were definitely both the "newbies" amongst the seasoned professionals and she and I were kind of in awe the whole night, just hearing about everything that is involved in putting yourself out there and growing your readership and all of this. I was like, shit, should I be taking notes? I have A LOT to learn. And I will probably never have a social media following worth writing home about. That's mostly on me - it's not something I put much time or effort toward at this point. Mostly because I just can't believe people are actually listening to me! Every time someone I don't know "in real life" "likes" or "follows" or comments, I am always blown away. I don't think it will ever stop surprising me that strangers might actually want to hear what I have to say. I feel very "Aw shucks" about it all!

So, social media maven I am not. But I am so -so-so-so- thankful for what I do have. Real life, honest-to-goodness friends and family who are there to support me. I can't help but feel like I am putting people out, asking them to schlep an hour or more in LA traffic strapped to a portable breast pump (for example), just to listen to my strange fake-self awkwardly sweating and reading in front of a crowd. But they were like, "Duh, of course we're going to come!" As one of my girlfriends said, "I have a personal policy that when one of my dear friends is a published author, I will make it to her book signing, even when it is a pain in my ass." Nevermind that it's three little pages in an anthology. They are my number one fans all the way. (I keep worrying that people will think I wrote The Book. No no no. I am IN a book. For one hot minute. That reminds me though. One woman at the signing definitely thought it was MY book. She swore she saw me on Good Morning America or the Today Show or something. I was like, ha, I wish, but not quite ;)) Incidentally, for a funny/insightful and dead-on look at how women vs. men "sell" things (products, or in this case, themselves), watch this video. ("Do you want to buy my thing? You don't have to. It's not very good.... Maybe I should give you a discount.") 

That's all. I'm just thankful. And #blessed ;) I know, I know, gag me, but it's true.

Darcy Perdu, Mackenzie Cheeseman, Jen Mann, Tracy Sano, Foxy Wine Pocket
Purdy ;) 
Photo courtesy of Foxy Wine Pocket :)
I gotta say, I make a mean gift basket. It's one of my special skills. I call this "party in a box." (Kinda like d*ck in a box, but funner and cuter.) Or, "everything white and gold from Paper Source."
It was basically all worth it just to get this. Reusable totes are one of my weird obsessions, along with trial sizes. You could probably circle the Earth seven times with the number of reusable grocery bags strewn about my life (but never, ever in my possession in the check-out line).

Thursday, May 7, 2015

cheetos for breakfast

I'm in rehab. For judgyness. Now, I've held court on this subject before. And I still basically believe what I wrote then - that we all judge, it's human nature, and perhaps even an essential part of our social interaction. If you claim you never judge, I'm gonna call shenanigans on that shit. But it's how you react (or don't react) to that initial kernel of judgment that really matters. (Kernel of judgment? Seed of judgment? How about judge-nugget? That has a nice ring to it ;)) Lately, in light of my personal "mommitment" not take part in the "Mommy Wars," I've been making a concerted effort to curb my knee-jerk judgyness. We don't have to be BFFs or anything. But I pledge to give you the space and respect to do your thang.

So, for you, a short list of things I have, in the past, been judgy about, and my new and improved attitude on these matters:

* Feeding kids Cheetos for breakfast. Hey. At least you fed them breakfast. Bottom line: I got your back when it comes to orange cheese dust.

* Letting little tiny girls wear high heels. You know what? They're wearing two matching shoes which is more than I can say for my own progeny this morning. Mad props.

* Moms who look perfect all the time? Good on ya. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little envious, though. Please, show me the magic of your ways. Sprinkle some of that glittering unicorn juice on your less-fortunate, saggy-sweatpant-clad mommy brethren.

* In that same vein, moms who are dressed like they’re going clubbing at soccer practice at 9am on a Saturday morning. More power to you. If my gams looked like that in a mini skirt, I might just rock one too.

* Grannies who dress like they're going clubbing. In Tijuana. I'm just kidding. I never judged these people. I want to adopt them, until I'm old enough to be them. I cannot wait to be idontgiveafuck-years old.

* People who have botoxed the shit out of their face and thus look like Apathy Barbie at all times. Hey girlfriend. If YOU feel pretty, then more power to you. I myself have a couple strategically placed sacks of silicone and they don't look too shabby in a bikini, if I may say so myself. So I won't judge.

* Smoking pot while pregnant or breastfeeding. Better than crack, right? Crack is whack. And according to Bob Sagget, "Marijuana is not a drug." A couple people have even assured me their doctors told them to do it. I am curious about these "doctors," I wonder if their medical credentials are from the same university as my own (a.k.a. Google U). Still. We all have to do a careful balancing act between "the shoulds" and our sanity. And I'm not going to put my thumb on your scale.

* Speaking of sanity and "shoulds" - parents that let their kid have a pacifier until he's in, like, 6th grade. Listen. Whatever you need to do, my friend. I sucked my thumb (aka human pacifier) well beyond a socially acceptable age. My parents even sent me to some kooky "specialist" that taped my thumb into a splint, covered it in cayenne, and made paper cranes to watch over me at night (and peck me to death with their origami beaks if I caved? I don't know. No wonder I'm fucking terrified of birds). Anyway, I guarantee they're not going to go to college with it. Probably not even high school. Though I will warn you, what you save in drama now, you will repay in orthodontist fees tenfold.

* I used to assume that people with lots of children (and by lots I mean more than two), were Mormon, Catholic, and/or slightly insane. I would look and them and think, Um, pardon me, but, may I provide you with a quick tutorial on how babies are made? However, I have dear cousins and a best friend with passels of kids, and they're mostly normal ;) And anyway, why do I care??? It's not me birthing yet another baby through my already tattered vagina, enduring double the laundry, or paying four college tuitions! Lately, I think of it like this: you're doing your part to populate the Earth with wonderful little people to help counteract all the yuck in the world. How can that be a bad thing?! (I just hope someone figures out how to power cars with our husbands' farts and sanitize our urine into potable water before the Earth reaches its carrying capacity and spontaneously combusts. Yes. Concerns like this literally keep me up at night.)

* Those crafty bitches who treat a three year old birthday party with more pomp and circumstance than your wedding day, with themed and color-coordinated snacks, desserts, kid crafts, and those god. damn. goody bags. You perfect pinterest princesses are a pain in my… Oh.. wait… I’m one of those Bs. Nevermind ;)

* People who give their kids weird-ass names. Guilty as charged. Your kids are allowed to hate you. But I don't.

* I used to say (before I actually had children, of course) "I could never be one of those moms who gets a nanny and then goes out to get coffee and a mani/pedi." Well, obviously I was smokin' the whack-crack because you, madam, are a goddamn genius. Hook a sister up. My new goal in life is to find a sugar daddy. Or a sister wife. Preferably both.

* I remember thinking along the same lines when my mother-in-law said she was basically raised by her live-in-nanny, more of a governess really, and she and her sisters only saw their mother for a short while each day while they were on their best behavior. I was like, aw, that's so sad. Ummm, sad for WHOM? The kids? Possibly, but they seemed pretty stoked on their nanny (along with their cook, driver, laundress, gardener, and personal shopper). And they still loved their mom and knew her as such. Now I think Moms had the right idea. I would be SUCH a good mom if I only had to deal with the happy parts of parenting, and could skip over all the bullshit like laundry, cleaning, shopping, cooking, and getting them to eat, brush their teeth, and go the F to sleep.

* Women who pontificate on the pleasure of an at-home bathtub birth with nothing but patchouli and prayers to the Goddess of Unimaginable Physical Pain to get you through. And on the other end of the spectrum, women who schedule their C-sections between conference calls. Hey. You made a human being, right? And brought it into the world? And have managed thus far to keep it alive and fed and clothed and more or less happy by generally accepted industry standards? Then you, mama, deserve a fucking medal.

* People who take Segway tours around the city..... I’m trying really hard here. Just… just give me a minute. Okay. You're tourists, right? Cool. Sally forth on your Segways.

* People who "vape." I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that not knowingly giving yourself cancer trumps looking like a total toolbox. Go you.

* People who take selfies with iPads or Selfie Sticks. I admire, self confidence. Carry on.

* Same for people who run/workout with an iPad mini, er, I mean, an iPhone 6 XL, strapped to their bicep. Right on. Now, if you need to make an emergency spreadsheet or send a TPS report mid-workout, you've got that shit covered.

* People who drive minivans. Hey, they even come with extra-large climate-controlled cup-holders to hold your dignity. I kid. I kid. I'm not gonna lie. The idea still horrifies me. But really on the long list of shameful things you do for motherhood, minivans are a minor, as well as luxurious and convenient (headrest screens and automatic sliding doors whaaaat), offense.

* People who cannot park a car between the f*cking lines. I should be more sympathetic because I am an astoundingly bad parker. Honestly, I hit a parked car once twice. I am just the worst. But, dammit, I will do a 397-point turn rather than park like an A-hole. Still. I'll cut you a break. Just like I do when I'm on the freeway and someone is driving like a twat-waffle, I imagine that they're my grandma or grandpa, and then I just want to give them a big hug instead of going Monster Truck on their ass.

But, I will still give mad side-eye to the following:

- People who do not like children, yet work with children.

- People who are mean to wait staff and retail employees.

- People who do not know how to read traffic signals before they jaywalk.

- People who don't know the difference between "your" and "you're," and "their" and "they're" (and "there!")

- People who try to use religion as an excuse not to support equal rights. (I apologize for "going there," but I "can't even.")

Maybe acceptance of these categories is further down in my twelve-step-program. We shall see.
May I interest you in some fresh-picked, organic produce? Remember, baby eats what you eat. 
Bitch, please. Hand over the good stuff.

Monday, May 4, 2015

nutritional nugget therapy

I am not the best cook and my kids are not the best eaters and this is not a winning combination. This is probably my cosmic retribution for being a total know-it-all before I had kids. When he was a baby, my nephew suffered from a rare form of Epilepsy known as Infantile Spasms. I had never heard of it before, and honestly, when my sister first told me about it, I thought it was another one of her whimsical Web MD diagnoses (she is convinced I have Multiple Sclerosis, Aspergers, and several other rare diseases). But it was legit, and her alarmist tendencies were probably life-saving in this instance!

Anyway, because of his medical issues, my nephew was on this crazy ketogenic diet, and after that he became the world's pickiest eater. For a while, he subsisted on a diet of instant oatmeal and M&M's. I gave my sister flak but she swore that was all he would eat. I said "If he gets hungry enough, he'll eat real food." Ha. Well. This is (probably) true. But what I didn't know is that between the steps "Deny child food he wants" and "Child is finally hungry enough to eat the food you want him to," there are seventeen increasingly painful and tortuous levels of hangry hell.

Karma, you clever minx.

I have tried to get my own kids to eat a diverse and flavorful array of grown up foods because "They" say if you introduce foods enough times, kids will finally come to accept them. Well, I don't know what that magic number is, but I can tell you it is more than 4,733.

Eventually the pendulum swung in the other direction. "Fine!" I said. "Eat chicken nuggets and pasta with butter for the rest of your lives. Sure! Let's see how long you can survive on condiments alone!" It got to where I would make one meal for the kids, and make something different for us grown-ups. If anything's worse than making dinner, it's making two, separate dinners! But at least the kids actually ate. Until they didn't.

I finally realized that kids are going to eat, or not eat, at their whim. You can't MAKE them eat, and attempts to do so will drive you INSANE. But there are a few things you can do to make meal time slightly less stressful, sometimes, when the little gremlins are amenable.

First, let them "help" make dinner. And by help, I mean, make things three-to-five times slower and more difficult for you. Seriously though, they get a lot more excited about eating it when they were invested in the preparation process.

Second, always put something on their plate that you know they will eat. (For me, this is actually nearly impossible, because my kids will only eat chicken nuggets on alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays when Venus is in retrograde. Pizza will be consumed when heated exactly to 99.2 degrees, and covered by 2.7 pepperonis spaced at least one inch apart. Only organic quinoa fusilli or "wegular" spaghetti (NOT Angel Hair) with clarified Irish grass-fed butter will do. Baby carrots if they are perfectly symmetrical and don't "look weird." Persian cucumbers hand-delivered from Iran. Cheese of any kind except on major holidays and full moons. And, almost always, yogurt.)

Third, trick them into thinking they have some sort of say in what's for dinner. For example, let them choose between two meal options (Here's a tip: Let them take turns choosing on alternate days, or flip a coin, because it is physically impossible for two (or more) children to agree on anything, ever.) Let them serve themselves. Let them omit their least favorite side. Etc.

Fourth, don't stress too much. I've come to realize that the more worked up I get about my kids eating a perfectly balanced meal, the less likely they are to actually do so. Choose your battles. They probably aren't going to starve.

Fifth, try to make it fun. Now, I know what you're thinking. "MAKE IT FUN?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, MAKE IT FUN?! I actually MADE dinner, instead of ordering pizza or hitting the In-n-Out drive-thru, so I basically think I deserve a medal, and now you're telling me I have to make paper cranes with my kids napkins, flambe their fish sticks, and juggle their tangerines?! Yeah, no. Why don't you take your little dog and pony show to the circus, where it belongs." And I hear you. I do.

But. IF you have a little spare time and can afford to use a little cookie cutter on fruit and sandwiches, or even use fun little food picks and colorful serving trays, kids eat that stuff up (literally!)
Bento Picks
Silicone Baking Cups
To that end, (and because yogurt squeezies are one of the few things my children will reliably eat), I took the Chobani Kids challenge, which is all about encouraging a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition.

Here is a super easy craft that your kids will love, that makes eating one of their favorite snacks that much more fun. It will also negate the need to hand-feed them a yogurt tube like a baby lamb because it is TOO COLD TO HOLD.

Step 1: Buy some felt. (Or, conveniently have a giant pile in your erstwhile craft closet.)

Step 2: Cut felt to proper yogurt squeezy koozy dimensions. (I just folded it around a yogurt tube and eyeballed it, this isn't rocket science).

Step 3: Use special "felt glue" (also conveniently located in neglected craft closet) to glue the edges together. (If you are super crafty and have access to a sewing machine, that would probably be a quick and more durable way to do this, but I didn't/don't, so glue it is).

Step 4: While waiting for the glue to dry, cut a bunch of little strips/shapes for decorating the koozies.

Step 5: Realize that fancy felt glue doesn't work at all. (Which may or may not be because you didn't read the directions.) Resort to SuperGlue (or The Kragle, as my kids call it).


Step 6: Let kids go to town with felt strips, stickers, and adhesive bedazzlation. (Then, if you're anything like me, put the kids to bed and get down with some glitter glue and your bad self ;))

Step 7: Voila! Cute little yogurt koozies. The kids "super much" love their "beautifow yogut life savers." (In case you can't tell, we're into Star Wars around here ;))

Happy Nerf herding!

Sorry about the mess.

May the force be with you.

PS, Step 8: Realize, after looking at 4 different stores, the product you THOUGHT you were pimping may or may not even exist anymore. Find out that the product you're SUPPOSED to be pimping is these handy-dandy yogurt pouches. Take quick pictures with your phone as an afterthought, koozy-free, because Mama ain't got time for two rounds of craft wars in one week.

FYI, the kids were legitimately stoked on these Chobani Kids yogurt pouches, not least because Spiderman is on the front. They both requested them in their lunch boxes this morning. Which is in strict violation of the superhero stoppage at the preschool but oh well, I am NOT going to argue if my kids are requesting to eat something healthy!
This is what happens when I try to be a real blogger.

Lesson learned ;)