One Saucy Girl

Little H is a vulture.  If she’s awake and I’m eating, we’re both eating.  So I may as well make an extra helping because Mama loves her pasta.

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Jax doesn’t care for red sauce and Em prefers mac ‘n cheese to actual pasta.  But this girl is happy with all three–preferably, at the same time, and in large quantities.  Baby girl can eat!

And no, she doesn’t share nicely.  Pretty ironic since half of her food comes off my plate!

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A growing girl needs her nutrition, especially since she’s the only kid I have who doesn’t whine about what I put in front of her, so I don’t begrudge her a little begging.  But I think a few table manners might be nice. Good thing she’s cute!

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Mangia!

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Cooking Up Family Fun

Year four of our family tradition of making Christmas cookies with Nana, Papa, and Auntie Jenny (see past years herehere, and here). This year was the biggest yet, since we knew that Uncle Tom, Auntie Molly, Tommy and Stella would be here soon to celebrate and that there needed to be plenty of sweets to go around.  The cookies were delicious and no one was disappointed!  In fact, they were so good, I was so busy eating them that I forgot to take a photo!  How did that happen?  We had four cookie sheets full!

We got together the Sunday before Christmas to decorate.  It was a lot of fun, even if we paid the price later for two kids on serious sugar highs and then the inevitable crash that followed!

 Looking at those pictures I can’t believe how big they are, especially Em.  I tried to make time to really make the season special, and I think it definitely paid off.  The kids were so aware and eager to celebrate every element of Christmas; it made me smile to share in their wonder, especially the sugar-coated moments!

I didn’t take as many pictures as usual because the kids were needier and actually required supervision–aka we had to make sure they didn’t eat every single cookie in sight or dump the contents of the all the trimmings onto their plates–but I did capture a bit of the fun!    Em was sitting across from me so I got more shots of her, but I promise Jax was there and was enjoying himself as much as the rest of us!

Love having family nearby, especially at the holidays!  More holiday photos to come!

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Lost In Translation

Something you may not know about me.  I hate trying new foods.
I have to take the time to write a separate post about our jaunt to Montreal this weekend, but until then, here is a little anecdote from our trip that will provide some insight into the psyche of your friend Becky: I hate trying new foods.  Those who know me and are reading this are nodding their head in agreement.  The other day, my girlfriend Katharine asked me, as she was taking the last helping, “You’re not going to eat any of this salad, right?”  Mostly out of politeness.  She knows I’m an Iceberg lettuce girl and that mescalin crap isn’t getting anywhere near me.  I am the kind of person who will find something I really like on a menu, and order it every single time I go to a restaurant without fail.  Even if I know there are other really good things on the menu, I am so nervous that I won’t like what I order as much as what I have already had that I take the safe route.  I order what I know I like.  That’s just me.
This has happened to me before.  JDubbs and I had the most amazing honeymoon of all time: we took a cruise of the Greek Isles with stops in Croatia, Turkey, and Italy.  But mostly Greece.  You will find it interesting that while I was in Greece, the most ethnic food I ate was a Greek salad (which you will not be surprised to learn, is just called “a salad” there).  I ate a lot of pizza.  I had pizza in Croatia.  We skipped lunch in Turkey and we went back to the ship and I ate pizza.  I did try delicious new plates in Italy because I love Italian food.  And by new I probably mean I tried a new salad dressing or a new sauce on my penne.  I know we drank two bottles of wine in Venice but I can’t remember what food we paired with them.  The cheese ravioli I had in Capri is still one of the most amazing meals of my life, mostly because I was in Capri and the view was to die for.  Here is a photo of our restaurant where we ate with our tour guide after stepping off our private boat:
A little slice of heaven.
The point is that I have been to now seven countries outside the USA, not counting my layover in Germany where I ate a Royale with cheese at the airport McDonald’s, and throughout these adventures my fond culinary memories are pizza and cheese ravioli.  Not exactly ground-breaking stuff.  So when JDubbs and I followed a friend’s advice and headed to a small, local brewery in Montreal for lunch on Saturday, we were expecting bar food.  Brewery = wings, potato skins, nachos, right?  Well, not in Montreal.  Bien sûr.
We walked into this brewery and loved it.  Loved the atmosphere, loved the people.  Exactly our kind of place.  Until we seated ourselves and realized that the menu is in French.  Well, duh, Américains.  Vous êtes au Québec.  We were in Quebec, where they speak, of course, French.  Having traveled a bit outside of the US, I knew this, but in those same experiences, I have done just fine with my English and decent Spanish because English makes the world go round and everyone wants my American dollar.  They’ll speak some English.
Well, yes, our waitress did indeed speak some English.  Enough to say things like “veal brains” and “snails” when deciphering the menu.  Pizza and ravioli, remember?  I won’t even eat veal main body parts, let alone veal brains, and I will never eat something that doesn’t have legs, so you can imagine my delight when we got to the final item of the menu.  Crêpes, like your pancakes, the waitress said.  Perfect!  Pancakes it is.  She went to put our order in and left us the menu.  The pancakes came with a side of yogourt (we could figure that one out) and pommes puréeAfter a second of consideration, we decided that pommes purée must be pureed potatoes, like hashbrowns, because we’ve eaten pommes frites before and they are french fries.  Pommes must mean potatoes.  Since we were in Canada, cell phones were off due to roaming charges so I couldn’t even use that handy Google Translate app sitting so nicely on my homescreen.  I was sure I would be fine.  You can’t mess up pancakes.
Well, apparently Canada can mess up pancakes because although the crêpes looked delightful and the syrup was pretty legit, even to a Vermonter who has been syrup tasting recently, it was that freakin pommes purée and yogourt mixed together, which was some kind of rancid apple/yogurt disaster.  First of all, I don’t even like yogurt–something about the fact that the microbes inside it are still alive and all–and the apples were gnarly!  And I really like apple!  Who ruins a perfectly good pancake by putting crap all over it?  Yes, I know, healthy crap, but crap nonetheless.  I am American and I like butter in an alarming shade of yellow, Denny’s-style, scooped out of its tub with an ice cream scoop so it’s plopped right on my plate, melting into an artery-clogging pool of happiness.  No yogurt!  No fruit!
In my defense, JDubbs found the pancakes to be equally disgusting and assured me they ruined it with  something strange like sweet potatoes or something.  In my outrage, I told my family that in Canada they put sweet potato puree on pancakes, to their shocks of disgust and horror.  This idiocy all made sense, let me assure you.  Up until five minutes ago, I still thought pommes meant potatoes, so sweet potatoes worked.  It wasn’t until just now when I looked it up that I learned that pommes means apples, and so no wonder JDubbs thought it was gross, too.  He hates fruit! 
(Yes, you French-speaking readers, have a good laugh at my expense.  Especially you, Tammy, you Canadian!  It’s all fun and games until somebody serves you fruit)
So what did I do with my crêpes?  Not eat them, of course.  I cut them, smushed them, mashed some into my napkin and tried to make it look like I had eaten some of it.  I drank my French cabernet/grenache/syrah blend (no, actually, it was nothing like a California cabernet, thank you, waitress!) and then, when I thought for sure I would be drunk off one glass of wine because I was still so hungry and was drinking on an empty stomach, I did what I should have done in the beginning.  I ordered American food.  Fries.  Not French fries, obviously.  Just fries.
Our waitress was completely confused as to why I would order just “chips,” and had to make a special request with the chef, but out came my board o’ fries and I was as happy as an American in Paris.  Hooray for food I recognized!  Hooray for good old potatoes, translated, annoyingly, pommes de terre.  Apples of the earth?  Whatever, French language.  You made me think I was getting potatoes and all you gave me was apples.  Not cool at all.  We Americans take our carbs very seriously.
And, so, now you know me a little better, although you may like me less because a) I’m crazy and b) I wasted your time making you read about my lunch in Montreal.  But I assure you, this describes me to a T.  And if you don’t believe me, let me bring you back to July 2007, when we were in Katakalon, Greece, day 3 of our honeymoon.  JDubbs had lamb and a local beer for lunch.  Here is mine.

A Coke and fries.  In Greece.  I know.  I’m insane.  But, you know what they say,
When in Rome…eat like an American!
Wait.  That isn’t what they say?  Well, they should.  Before our trip to Bermuda in September, I will brush up on my important food groups before I embark:  pizza, cheese ravioli, and fries.  They speak English in Bermuda?  Well, I will learn how to say these things in several languages, just to be safe.
The more you know.
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The State of Normal

So which is normal in your house?
Spoon or fingers?
Jax has improved to an approximately 80/20 finger-eater.  Normal?
Cereal certainly is a messy business!
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What I Know

This blog is not supposed to make me out to be anything more than what I am: imperfect and constantly learning.  Even with two kids I stumble upon or discover or hear from a friend new ideas, tricks, or trades that make my day a little easier.  I found such a trick, in the baby food aisle of Target (the nearest of which is over an hour from me here…sigh…), that taught my fine-motor-skills-challenged daughter how to hold food and feed herself.  And now I will share such a find with you.
Baby Mum-Mums.  Rice cake ovals that dissolve easily, are big enough to hold, don’t break into big chokey pieces, and don’t make a terrible mess.
Also, when I need a minute to get my act (and her dinner) together, BMM distracts her long enough to keep me from giving her something quick and not necessarily healthy.
And this is not a shameless plug, I get no money or anything from BMM.  I just love them and love sharing things I love and learn with you!
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Green Eggs and Ham

In case you didn’t know let me tell you that Jax has moved on from just regular old board books to the more interesting (and more expensive) picture books.  This is exciting because although I’m still reading those beloved board books to Em several times a day, Jax gives me some new material with an actual plot.  As a former English teacher, I am happy to be able to ask him questions about plot and character motivation (in a very simplistic manner, I assure you!) rather than boring myself silly with the mundane but necessary questions about color and labeling (Where is the doggy?  What color is the ball?).  Might seem simple to you, but we take all victories, however small, very seriously up in these parts.
With pictures books come old favorites, and having just attended a baby shower in Connecticut this weekend where my dear friend was inundated with books for her son’s first library, classics like
Make Way For Ducklings and I Love You Through and Through are fresh in my mind.  Even the ever-popular but slightly creepy Love You Forever made its appearance, and the timeless Dr. Seuss tales.  I don’t know if I have mentioned this, but Jax has a deep love for Theodore Geisel (that’s Dr. Seuss’s real name, you know.  Oh, you thought he was really a doctor and his last name was really Seuss?  Sorry to disillusion you).  He loves how the Cat in the Hat says, “So so so!” and how the dude from Green Eggs and Ham says, “Say!” when he learns something new.  He likes hearing me try my best to read Fox in Sox and has been obsessed with the Dr. S ABC’s book for a while.  If you think your kid is too young for these books, think again.  Their lyrical nature and funny phrasing make kids laugh even when they have no idea what’s going on.  And sometimes I don’t have any idea what’s happening either, to be honest.
Wow, this is turning out to be a post about books rather than a post about eggs.  No matter.  I’m going to start doing a weekly book review/suggestion post for your kiddos this week anyway–consider this an appetizer.  But let me get to the point anyhow.  Here’s what we do when our toddler monster, who happens to love Dr. Seuss, wakes up on the wrong side of the crib.  We make some green eggs and ham, and the day is suddenly looking up!
I think me and my new free-wheeling use of food coloring is going to get me in trouble very soon.  But for now, we just mop up the floor and blot out the rug before any serious staining occurs.
Nothing says good morning like a colorful breakfast that encourages baby boy to keep reading!
And to eat more than two bites of anything that isn’t dripping in syrup or covered in peanut butter.  That’s always a bonus, too!
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