Monday, December 10, 2012

Hands down...

…the most wonderful thing anyone has ever said to me. Ever.

"Mama, I promise I will never, ever, ever not hug you. I will always give you a hug you if you ask."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

No. Sleep. 'Til Nighttime!

That's right folks. It's been a long, luxurious road these past 3 and 3/4 years, but on Sunday it came to a screeeeeeching halt.

No more naps.

At least not daily ones.

I know, I know. We've had it good. I have absolutely no right to attempt to garner any kind of sympathy at this stage. Most of our friend's kids dropped their naps before 3, some by 2 and 1/2. And yet we've coasted along, napping it up for a minimum of 90 minutes every day. Without fail, and without resistance. We all needed that naptime, and we were all grateful for it.

And now. Sigh. The jig is up.

No more collapsing on the couch at 2pm with a coffee and something chocolaty that I wait to eat while she's not around. No more catching up on laundry or dishes, or getting a jump on dinner without interruption. No more mid-afternoon naps or mom blog binges.

But also, no more splitting each day into distinct halves, factoring in travel time to and from home. No more stressing about late naps causing late bedtimes. No more remembering to bring home nap stuff, wash it, and return it to school on Monday morning.

As with everything, you take the good with the bad. I'm a little bummed about it, but also proud of my little muffin for graduating to a new phase of childhood. The non-napper. So far she's handled it without any meltdowns or fiascos of any kind. Just the odd "I'm tiiired", but that's nothing you don't hear from mom and dad ten times a day anyway, so we welcome her into our little chorus.

It'll make for some less peaceful car rides, I imagine, but on the upside Ralph can whine all he wants in the back seat without waking anyone up. Fantastic.

This is what I would call "sleeping hard".

Being a hooker just makes me feel good.

Yesterday I had a difficult day. It was a jumble of stressful events, schedule mix-ups, frantic emails and general SNAFUs. But the moment that stood out for me as the precise instant you realize you really should just go back to bed and try again tomorrow was the moment I was standing at the counter of the bake shop I've been wanting to try for over a year, a glistening sticky bun placed ever so tantalizingly before me, an unimpressed employee poised impatiently at the cash register, and my brand new motherfunking $8 Old Navy clearance purse would. not. open. The fabric was jammed real good into the zipper. Wouldn't budge. After an embarrassingly long attempt at wriggling it free, I finally had to apologize profusely and back out of there with my tail between my legs. And, as I was stuck waiting for a ride and the air had turned rather frigid and the snow started flying, I ducked into Bridgehead and sat at a table for about fifteen minutes, wriggling and pulling and trying not to scream profanities. When I did finally get it free, I ordered a cappuccino, which was delicious, and a scone, which sucked, and lamented that coffee shops really should have liquor licenses. 

Say it with me now: FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS much???

Sometimes I'm really ashamed at the stuff I complain about. Why, just earlier that morning I had chastised E for being so picky at breakfast time ("I don't know what I want, but I want to decide, but I don't know what I want, but I don't want that, no I don't want you to decide, no I don't want that either, but I want to decide, but I don't know…"), explaining that lots of kids have to go to school without any food at all, so perhaps she could spend a little more time on "thank you" and a little less time on "I don't want that". And you know, she totally got it. This was her response:

"I have an idea mom. What if I took some of my money and you took some of your money, and we gave it to a family who doesn't have any food so that they can buy groceries!"

These are the moments, along with the unsolicited snuggles, that really sell parenting as a solid lifestyle choice, am I right?

The absolute beauty of this whole situation is that the day before I had sent an email to a Rants from Mommyland, a mom blog that I'm sure I've mentioned my fondness for in the past, asking to be involved in their annual Gift Card Exchange (previously called the Grand Hooker Experiment, because fans of RFM are called Hookers for reasons I can't recall but very much enjoy). People who need help this Christmas email them with their names and addresses, and they get matched with people who can offer help. The helpers then buy gift cards to stores like Target and Walmart and ToysRUs in whatever denomination they can afford and send them to the address they've been matched with. Great idea, right? And I had asked to be matched with a family with a little girl if possible so that E could buy a gift card for a little girl like herself. 

And now, E has come up with the same idea! I really love this girl.

If you would like to get involved, check this out. I think there's still time to submit your name to either give or receive help. I promise, it'll make you feel better than you thought hooking ever could!

Monday, December 3, 2012

And the Grammy goes to...Dr. E!

I love kid brains. When  you can manage to turn off the go!go!go! mulitasking mom brain long enough to tune into them, they can provide endless entertainment. E asked me a very interesting question the other day. A simple question, but it just made me realize that they really are thrown into this world with no user's manual, no cheat sheet, and they can't even speak the language. They have to figure things out for themselves. Mind blowing.

We were driving along, E singing along to her favourite song, when she suddenly stopped and asked:

E: Mom, can people change what they do?
M: What do you mean?
E: Like, can they be doctors and then sing on the radio?
M: Of course. Mama and dada have had lots of jobs. Most people don't just do one thing.
E: Oh. Because I want to be a doctor first, and then I want to sing this song on the radio. Can I do that?
M: Sure. Or you could even write your own songs and sing them.
E: No, I want to sing Taylor's song. I like this one.
M: In that case, we could just call up the radio station and I bet they'll let you sing it on the air right now!
E: No, I'm not ready yet. I want to be a doctor first.

How cool would that be to be a doctor and a singer? Why didn't I think of that?

Which of course got me to wondering what kind of singer my daughter will be. It appears that we don't listen to enough music, because she doesn't really know all that many songs, and an unsettlingly large proportion of them are...fairly inappropriate. Well, let's go through the songs she knows.

First there are the basics:

Happy Birthday
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star get the idea

She's got a good hold of a few Christmas tunes:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Baby it's cold outside

From there we get into the Top 40 selections:

We are never, ever getting back together
We are young
Kiss you inside out
Blow my whistle

I'm sure there are others, and the vast majority of them make me cringe when I hear her sweet little voice delivering her unique interpretation from the back seat. Thank goodness for Taylor Swift. If it weren't for her, my precious three year old would still be reciting step-by-step instructions for performing fellatio. I think it's time to listen to a different radio station, and perhaps - oh, I don't know - remember to pop in one of the dozen or so children's cds we have around here somewhere once in a while. Because I don't mind a Taylor wannabe, but a mini-Britney I can do without.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

She's never heard of a SANTA CLAUS PARADE??! *shame*

While putting on a little girl's boots this morning…

"Mom, I don't want you to ever die. Because I just love you so much. You are the sweetest mom ever."

This is the moment I choose to remember when questions like this crop up from the back seat:

"Mom, what's a Santa Claus Parade?"

I'm a good mom…I'm a good mom…I'm the sweetest mom ever… 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Perfect Mondays?

It's true. Mondays can be perfect. Especially if you have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. And especially if you get to hang out with a small child who wants to do exactly what you want to do. Baking and colouring? Yes, please!

First up, chocolate chip pumpkin bread:

One of two people I to whom I will relinquish my spatula rights. 
Mom is the other one. 

Followed by volcanoes extraordinaire:

Whose is whose? 
E claims that hers is "rainbowier" than mine.

Nine times out of ten, when I suggest something fun, E decides that she definitely wants to do something else. Today was a glorious exception, which makes those other nine days of pretending that she's hatching out of an egg 86 times in a row much more bearable.

p.s. Here's some advice for her dad, who wasn't able to dine with us, on how best to enjoy his freshly baked treats:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Maybe it's Thanksgiving somewhere

Canadian Thanksgiving was last month. American Thanksgiving is next week. Does anyone else celebrate Thanksgiving? England doesn't. Grenada doesn't. And that's about the extent of my experience on the matter. But I'm going on the assumption that someone, somewhere is celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend and if I'm wrong, well I'm just celebrating on my own, which I can't imagine is a bad thing.

Today I am thankful for the ability to feed my child. Every single day, at every single mealtime and at any moment in between, I can provide my child with the food that she needs to grow and thrive. I don't ever have to hear her little tummy rumble, knowing that I cannot fill it. I have the luxury of hearing her whine about not enjoying dinner, knowing that she will never get hungry enough to have no choice but to eat it. I have the privilege of offering her choices and variety and more nutritious options than I can ever hope to convince her to ingest. All of the food issues that cause us to butt heads are, without question, first world problems.

It absolutely breaks my heart when I think about hungry children. I get a panicky feeling in my chest when I think about what parents must go through who can't provide the basic necessities of life for their own families. The one thing I would do if I was omnipotent for the day, the wish I would wish for if a genie popped out of a lamp and said I could have just one, the cause I will continue to support for as long as I live, is hunger. Especially hungry children. And I am so, so thankful that I'm on this side of the problem.

I've been thinking for a long time about how I can make a difference locally by cooking big batches of something or other and bringing it to where it's needed. I'm thinking about it again today as my stew simmers on the stove and I wish I could feed the entire world with it. I think it's time to move from the thinking stages to the planning stages, because the problem is not going to go away just by thinking about it. In the meantime, why don't we all commit to dropping a box or two in the donation box the next time we go grocery shopping? Every little bit helps to feed a hungry world.

That's all for today.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Devil Wears Tutus

Picking out clothes one morning:

E: I want to wear a pink dress.
M: How about this one?
E: That's not all pink. It has white in it. I want ALL pink.
M: This one?
E: That's a skirt. I want a dress.
M: This one is pretty.
E: Does that look pink to you? No. It's purple. And it doesn't twirl.
M: How about a tutu?
E: No - pause for reconsideration - Okay, sure! A tutu.
M: This one is perfect. It's all pink and it twirls.
E: I want the orange one.

While reading Mr. Grumpy:

E: Do you think Mr. Grumpy would like it if maybe I gave him some of my clothes?
M: You mean to make him less grumpy?
E: Yeah, like do you think a pink or orange tutu would help?
M: Absolutely.
E: Or…maybe some ballet clothes, some tights and something like that? Even ballet shoes?
M: I can't see how he could possibly be grumpy wearing tights and a tutu.
E: Yeah.

After I found matching tights and socks for the dress she picked out:

E: How convenient! Oh, I'm going to look sooo conveeeenient! As convenient as can be!!!

Where it all began.

Reasons to smile

Yesterday I found so many reasons to smile.

I had the wonderful fortune of spending the morning with my mother-in-law and her mother-in-law, two ladies who excel at being lovely, strolling through the National Art Gallery and the Notre Dame Cathedral. We saw snowflakes dancing in the wind and sunlight dappling the rooftops through a soaring glass facade. We saw stunning ivory carvings, whimsical blue ducks and a mosaic of fabrics in the most brilliant shade of red. We saw far more penises than I think was necessary, but that's neither here nor there. We saw portraits almost one hundred years old that could have been taken yesterday, as well as paintings by accomplished artists that might easily be reproduced by my three year old. It was the first art gallery I've been to in a long time, and it was refreshing beyond words. Smile-inducing, to say the least.

We sat here:

We went to lunch, the ladies and I, joined by my father-in-law who was just in time to watch us eat a most luxurious sticky toffee pudding before ducking into the kitchen shop next door to dream about a kitchen filled with every gadget for every culinary adventure I might ever take - with one in every colour, of course.

I found myself alone, wandering cheerfully along streets that before today had been previously undiscovered, at least by me, letting the sunlight soak into my pores and making a mental note to do this much more often. Wandering, exploring, dilly dallying. Enjoying the quiet in my mind amid the bustle of the city.

I drove slowly, appreciating that there was no need to rush to the next destination, enjoying the luxury of having a vehicle that could take me where I needed to go. I let people around me do the hurrying while I turned up the music and eased off the gas.

E and I ran around the park, chasing, climbing, balancing and swinging. We smiled, happy to be together.

I watched my daughter in her swim class, the one with her hand perpetually in the air to be the first to attempt whatever feat the instructor might dream up. I watched the instructor react with surprise and amusement every time E was able to do something that the bigger kids had trouble with. I watched my daughter float on her stomach with her face in the water for five full seconds while my entire body swelled with pride and my smile engulfed my entire face.

I stole a spoonful of chocolate chip cookie dough from the freezer.

J and I went to bed, for the second night in a row, before 10pm and chatted sleepily in the darkness.

Sometimes all you need is a Tuesday and a smile.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

None of us perfect, but some of us funny.

Wife asks husband to pick up 3 items from the grocery store on the way home. The following string of phone conversations ensues:

Call #1
Where is the closest grocery store and how do I get there?

…11 minutes later...

Call #2 
The store doesn't open until 12:30. 
M: It's 12:28.
I know. 

…10 minutes later...

Call #3
Is homogenized milk the same as whole milk?
Why are there so many brands? What's the difference?!
Wait, I'm going to get this one because the expiry date is December. It's more expensive, but the other one is Nov 19.
M: Babe, I'm using it all today.
I know, but it's only $1.25 more expensive, and it's fresher!

…6 minutes later...

Call #4
Someone said aisle 8, but I can't find it. Any suggestions?

…9 minutes later...

Call #5
I did it! I got it all! Oh, man I got so lucky. The guy who told me aisle 8 when I asked (you know, because I did the smart thing and asked instead of walking around randomly) ended up remembering that they had moved it and tracked me down to give it to me!
M: You're my hero.

So before you go and crucify me for belittling my poor husband after he so clearly came through for me in a pinch, let me just say this. What is life if we cannot laugh at ourselves, and those with whom we have chosen to spend the rest of our lives?

Also, if you refer to the highlighted section in Call #5, you will note that My Wonderful, Helpful, Selfless Husband, out of nowhere, decided to seize an opportunity to sucker punch me, his wonderfully attractive and appreciative wife who just fielded all 5 calls with grace and patience, about the fact that when I go into a store I assume that the employees have no idea where anything is (which is almost always the case in a grocery store), and instead apply an educated guessing system for locating items. Out of nowhere he hits me with this. That's ballsy. And after humming and hawing over whether to post this exchange on the internet, that's what sealed the deal in your favour.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I swear I'm not getting paid to gush like this.

I also promise to talk about my daughter again one of these days. But for now just allow me my honeymoon phase for a post or two longer.

The first recipe I actually made from the cookbook I've been talking about non-stop for six days was a kale salad earlier today. But not just any kale salad - think goat cheese, walnuts, cranberries and a delectable honey-dijon dressing. The key is to let it all marinate together for awhile - as long as possible, really. J and I had it for lunch, and then again at dinner, along with some grilled sausages. It was even better the second time. But don't take it from me. Take it from J, who in the grand scheme of things comes down on the anti-kale side of the fence:

"This is good. I'm actually surprised by how good it is. I would eat this even if I wasn't on a diet, like, as regular food."

I'd post a picture, but it's long gone.

Is THAT what poppy seeds smell like???

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman, page 12, plum poppy seed muffins.

I'm supposed to be heading outside to rake leaves with the hour I have before it's time to retrieve the girl from school, but you people need to know what just happened - what is still happening - in my kitchen. You. Need. To.  Know.

I don't know why this particular recipe jumped out at me more than any other as the first recipe that I wanted to tackle out of this cookbook's exceedingly generous devotion to breakfast. Perhaps it was the intriguing anecdote surrounding peeling poppy seeds out of lemon's grasp, perhaps it was the adorable photo of her little baboushka biting into a plum, perhaps it was the idea of eating a muffin containing brown butter, flour and yogurt after two weeks of ridding my body of said delicacies. Whatever the case, this is what I settled on today.

First, I browned the butter until it smelled rich and nutty. Then, while that cooled, I went about the business of preparing the rest of the batter. Everything went according to the usual plan of muffin making, until I added the butter. The butter gets added to a mixture of eggs, sugar and sour cream/yogurt while it's still a bit warm. As I poured it in and began to stir…WHAM!!! My olfactory neurons were slam-banged with the aroma of I have no idea what but oh my god I want to smell this smell for the rest of my life. The combination of brown butter and sugar and yogurt becomes this other-worldly experience that I could have gone my entire life missing had it not been for this cookbook, and this recipe.

And then. After spending a few moments with my nose in the bowl, inhaling deeply, it was time to add the dry ingredients. And, if you can believe it, one stir in I was walloped by a smell even more divine than the last! Poppy seeds? Could it be??? I never considered them to have a discernable flavour of their own, merely a delightful crunch and an embarrassing tendency to linger between my teeth. But oh my word I'm going bake these muffins every day for the rest of my life.

Please, go out and buy this cookbook, or borrow it from a friend. But not from me, I'm not letting go of this baby for a while yet. Of course, you're more than welcome to come over and bake them in my kitchen. Every single day. Forever.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sugar Baby

E: Mom, did the price of gas go up?
M: Umm, well I think it's a bit higher since we filled up last.
E: Okay, welI I can give you some of my money so you can buy more gas.
M: Oh, that's okay honey, we have enough money to buy gas.
E: Oh, well, do you need money to buy more things? Because I can give you some if you need it.
M: That's very sweet, thank you baby, but we have enough money.
E: Well, if I give you my money, then you won't have to save any! So you just let me know if you need some money. Maybe after dinner I'll give you a little.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Good Intentions and Bad Judgement

It's sort of my signature. It describes my particular brand of je ne sais quoi. Which explains how I ended up making this for E last night:

A cookie as big as her head. A reward for getting at least 10 magnets on her responsibility chart for the week. Seemed like a good idea, you know, before we were sitting at the dinner table at 7pm watching her eyes glaze over 1/3 of the way through her victory spoils.

Thank goodness she didn't put up a fight about saving half for today. At least someone in this family has common sense…albeit accompanied by a notable deficit in table manners:

Next week, if she gets 15 magnets she gets a bowl of ice cream. Kid sized…not kid's head sized.


Did I forget to tell you that I got this beauty for my birthday?

Her name is Billie Jean, and she's my new best friend. She's my first bike in 20 years, and my first time on a bike in about 11 years. I asked for a bike for my birthday, which coincided serendipitously with reading about one of my favourite mom bloggers and her joy ride through Target that culminated in the purchase of her very own bike that would accompany her when she needed to experience a little freedom. Very inspiring.

Now that I've regaled you with tales of coincidence twice in a row, I'm starting to doubt whether it's so much coincidence as perhaps a case of reading way too many mom blogs…but that's a discussion for another time, like never.


I considered having my husband film the inaugural ride for possible submission to America's Funniest Home Videos, but my enthusiasm/potential mortification took over and I snuck out for a spin on my own on a brilliant fall afternoon that simply wouldn't take no for an answer.

I didn't fall off, didn't hit anyone, and as far as I can tell did not make a spectacle of myself. I did, however, realize that getting a bike from Walmart will almost certainly mean that you will receive a product that has been poorly assembled by someone who doesn't possess the knowledge/inclination/compensation level to do it well, to which I credit the ability of my bike to change gears all by itself! Fortunately, I have in my arsenal a cyclist friend who generously offered to repair it, and who will receive in return an early birthday cake whose recipe has been lovingly plucked from the pages of my new favourite cookbook. Anyone else out there want to do me any favours? Because I literally can't find enough excuses to make all of this stuff quickly enough.

Am I talking about food again? Holy moly, the end of this cleanse cannot come soon enough.

So back to the point just in time to offer you my final thoughts - I am very excited about my new bike. She makes me feel younger, freer, and more fun than I did before I got her. Provided I do not become another in a fairly long list of cycling casualties in this city, I predict a long and happy relationship for the two of us. And I recommend to anyone who has spent the last decade or two sticking to four wheels for their preferred mode of transportation to take a stab at whittling it down to two. But not on a motorcycle. Those things are dangerous.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Timing is Everything

So, I got this in the mail yesterday:

I pre-ordered it in May, and have barely been able to contain my excitement since confirming my purchase on Amazon. Everything about this book is exciting, right down to the fact that I got it for 46% off of the cover price. I've been scouring it for the past 20 hours, loving every inch of it, planning what to make first, and then next. I know that I can't go wrong with one of Deb's recipes, only very, very right.

In other news, J has been studying like a madman (I just typed "madam" by mistake and really wanted to leave it that way…how does one study like a madam, and could it be done at the dining room table with children running about?) for an exam he has on Monday. He's on lockdown all weekend, and I'm not sure when the last time was that he was spotted without his bathrobe…or freshly showered for that matter.

And then there's my super-clean colon, which is currently chugging along on Day 13 of my cleanse. I'm wicked proud of making it through my first weekend, then Hallowe'en with only one skittle passing my lips, forced upon me by a terrifying devil, and on through the first 20 hours of ownership of that beautiful work of art up there. Tomorrow is my last day, mostly because I feel that two weeks is a reasonable amount of time for this sort of venture, somewhat because I seem to have dropped in weight to pre-adult parameters, which I can't say I'm thrilled about, and also because I'm afraid if I don't bring dairy back into the equation my bones might turn to sawdust.

So I can't help but feel that the universe has smiled on me, what with J's imminent release from the shackles of studying, my imminent release from the shackles of deprivation and the arrival on my doorstep of the answer to all of my culinary prayers over the last two weeks. A celebration is due, and I now have the resources and the inspiration to welcome all of us back to the land of the living with some decadent, home-cooked, love-laden feastery. I just made up that word. I'm not sure how no one could have thought of it before. Oh, wait:

Feastery - A members-only gourmet concierge
Feastery is an exclusive, members-only website that offers unique experiences and preferred pricing at great restaurants. We're like a gourmet concierge.

Damnit. Well, I like your style, San Francisco. If I needed another reason to visit you one day, I just found it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Putting the HAPPY in Happy Hallowe'en! A Public Service Announcement

I've always liked Hallowe'en. I mean, who doesn't like Hallowe'en?

Oh, right - this guy:

You know what I say to him? Lame. I mean, seriously. There is ALWAYS that person who needs to fight the power, who needs to get all political, or dramatic, or controversial, or contrary…all synonyms, by the way, for LAME. Sure, Hallowe'en is commercialized. Sure, it probably has little to no resemblance to its origins. But here's a question: WHO CARES? Do kids love it? Is it a fun and relatively harmless way to squeeze a little joy out of a dreary fall evening? Does not celebrating Halloween really cure childhood obesity or put Hershey's out of business? And as for having children "mooch" off of their neighbours, give me a break. Aren't we really just trading candy? You bought some, I bought some, we pass it around and now we have lots of different kinds! Diversity! Yay!

I personally feel that one of the best parts of Hallowe'en is the sense of community we get from it. No joke. This year, for the first time ever, we were "ghosted". I first heard of this tradition last year, and got to experience it a few nights ago. Made my whole week. I opened the door to find a bag of candy along with a ghost-shaped note saying that I'd been ghosted by a neighbour and it was now up to me to put together 5 ghost bags and deliver them to other neighbours. Once you've been ghosted, you put your ghost-note on your front door to let people know that you've already been hit.  E and I had so much fun knocking on doors and running away, giggling. If you look around our neighbourhood, they're everywhere. It's awesome.

Also, the parents on our block decided that we would take our kids out to a few houses, and then get together on our porches to drink grown-up punch and give out candy. Sounds to me like a lovely evening. Last year, our first in Ottawa, we met some of our neighbours for the first time while trick-or-treating. And for the love of god, it's FUN!

So as I said, I like Hallowe'en. But I've never gone all out hog wild with it. The last time I dressed up was in my early twenties, and aside from a jack-o-lantern or two, I don't do much in the way decorations. I sure eat the heck out of some candy though. Now, however, having a munchkin with whom to celebrate changes things. I have seen a steady increase in my Hallowe'en involvement in the last 4 years.

This year is definitely my best work. She's a devil, and we had a dry run with the costume at a party on the weekend, complete with face paint by mama. Not bad, right?

Also on the weekend we put up decorations and each carved our own jack-o-lantern, although mine was kiboshed as a result of rottage, and squirrels took care of the other two within a couple of hours. Today, I sent E to school with this for lunch:

And tonight we'll be feasting on this before heading out for candy:

It's fun fun fun, and while I totally get not having the time/energy/inclination to spend hours crafting in the kitchen, I think deciding not to celebrate Hallowe'en in order to support some lofty principle or other is a missed opportunity to relive some of the excitement of childhood and, stop me if I've said this, just plain lame. So, if you haven't already, suck it up, get out there and buy a box of candy and put a smile on some kids' faces tonight. Because I'll tell you what - if there's one thing you can never have too much of, it's smiles. And if you're biggest problem is having an extra box of miniature kit-kats lying around, then count your blessings and quit your bitching.

Happy Hallowe'en!!!!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cleansing breaths

Day 6. I've been cleansing for six days now, and I'm pretty proud of myself. I've attempted many cleanses in the past, and the best I've done has been around four days. This time is different in a lot of ways though, and I think I owe my success to the differences.

1. I'm eating. Normally cleanses involve drastic calorie reduction, almost by necessity. Some eschew solids altogether, and with those my success rate hasn't broken the 24-hr mark. I'm not that guy. Others allow more reasonable amounts of food, but are so specific in their ingredients and timing that make sticking to it completely is unrealistic. And you know what that means. "Oh, I didn't get home in time to have my 2 tbsp of almonds…guess I'm going to have to settle for this chocolate croissant. Can't be helped." With this I'm eating whenever I'm hungry, I'm just making sure that I'm selecting from a narrow range of foods. Whatever fruits and vegetables I want, fish, chicken, tofu, chick peas, nuts and seeds. That's pretty much it. So sure, my insides might not be clean enough to eat off of when I'm done, but that's pretty gross goal to have.

2. I'm winging it. I usually start these things after hearing about some great new program that all the cool people are doing. I read all about it, I make all kinds of lists, and hop on the bandwagon with great enthusiasm. But again, the second I find a piece of the pie that doesn't fit (Why can't I find white miso? Is juicing really necessary? Really, NO caffeine?!), then it's only a matter of time before I abandon ship. This time, there's no menu, no required ingredients. I have a smoothies with the produce I have, I make some kind of vegetable soup every couple of days, I eat poached chicken and fish with salads or steamed vegetables, and handfuls of nuts here and there, along with lots of herbal tea after my one precious coffee of the day. Easy peasy! Did you know that peas are good in smoothies? Fact.

3. I'm prepared. What generally happens after the reading and the list making, is the going off half-cocked before even making it to the grocery store. I decide that I'll start right…NOW!…without much in the way of planning or preparation. So I get about 12 hours into it on adrenaline, and if I can get to the grocery store within 24 hours I might last another day or two. But then #1 and #2 catch up to me and once again I'm eating a loaf of bread slathered with butter with an ice cream chaser. This time, I went shopping BEFORE I started. Genius, right? And when I woke up on Day 1, a fridge full of cleanse-friendly food winked at me conspiratorially. Like a wise woman once said, it's about setting yourself up for success instead of failure*.

*Now, it's quite a clever coincidence that this quote was referring to marriage, and how partners should treat one another. It should be noted that my husband, though not one to hop on board with all of my hare-brained schemes or even smother me with praise, is kind of relatively supportive in a "this idea of yours is crazy", "better you than me" kind of way. But he's not an outright saboteur. Which is why I'm having such a difficult time understanding why he would see fit to buy me a cookie on Day 1, bring me home another cookie from work on Day 2, followed by an entire large pizza on Day 4. Not to mention eating ice cream from the carton beside me on the couch. ICE CREAM. I'm not sure where his head is at, but he had better pull it out of its hiding place quick-ish to avoid having it permanently embedded, if you know what I mean. But I digress.

How am I feeling?

Pretty good, thanks. Mostly proud of myself and a little dull around the edges. Surprisingly, the first two days were the easiest, owing I'm sure to the massive amounts of surplus calories leftover from the weekend. Day 3 had me pitted against an unopened box of Girl Guide cookies in my purse and a tantrum-throwing daughter making us late for dinner. I prevailed. Day 5 was the first day that I was away from home all day and had to prepare breakfast, lunch and snacks in advance. No problem. And this is the first weekend. Weekends are harder, mostly because everybody gets that hey, it's a special day - let's eat like farm animals mentality. But I'm pressing on. I'm going to be really happy with myself when I'm through with one week, and I'm thinking of trying to make it to two weeks.

The real challenge will come when the "cleanse" is done and the "maintenance" begins. I want to continue to eat all the fruits and vegetables that I'm eating now. I want to drastically limit starchy/bready things, and keep sweets/desserty things down to perhaps one batch of homemade something on the weekends (that doesn't get consumed in one sitting). I'm hoping that by the end of the cleanse I will feel so fantastic that it will serve as my motivation to continue. Right now I feel sleepy. So I'm going to take it one day at a time. And when that's too much, we'll go with one meal at a time. And as much lying on the couch and sighing as my family will allow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stopping to take the pictures

Sometimes things just fall into place. 

I wanted to get some pictures of E in the fall leaves before it was too late. I tried on Sunday, but E explained that she had plans to spend the whole day playing an elaborate game of Peter Pan with me instead. Looking at me apologetically, stroking my cheek she said "I'm sorry, mama. I'm really, really sorry, but we just can't today. Maybe tomorrow." No, I'm not kidding. This girl is a real piece of work.

So I forced a promise out of her that we could do it after school on Monday. But then J wanted to go to the bank, and then he got off early and had to be picked up at picture time, and it looked like it just wasn't going to work out. Again. But on a whim I decided to go for it and pulled into a park that always looks gorgeous in the fall. No wardrobe changes (tutus to school are a current obsession), no primping, no plan. I told E to just run around and have fun and we would follow her. 

Hands down, the best decision I've made all week, maybe all month. 

And in case you thought my baby was still a baby, hold on to your hearts for these two...

I love this kid all the way to the moon and back, one million times. 

Have you ever met a Beautiful Man?

I have a friend. He's beautiful. He once wrote about how men aren't generally described as beautiful, and how he was quite certain that he would never be described in those terms, but I couldn't disagree more. Read his blog, and you'll almost instantly see what I mean.

It is beautiful to read what he writes about his wife and his daughters. What jumps out at you is how utterly immersed they are in each other, and how utterly content they are to be that way. It is beautiful to read what he writes about his job. He finds lost children and helps to bring them home, both metaphorically and literally. It is beautiful to read what he writes about himself. What he describes as awkward comes across as sincere and unashamedly honest.

Some days I can't wait to read his next entry. And some days I can't bring myself to read it at all. His blog has become a barometer I use for myself, to gauge how I'm feeling about myself as a person, as a mother and as a wife. It makes me want to be better. And I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way. This is a man who, from the moment he wakes in the morning until he goes to bed at night, profoundly influences his world.

My husband accuses me of idealizing people that I like. This is one of the most accurate statements I've ever heard about myself. His family, I love and idealize the heck out of them. But that's not the case with Brian, for one reason. He does not give us the chance to idealize him, because he lays it all out, the good and the bad. And the sum total of all of that good and bad, from my perspective, is one beautiful example of a man.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lean, Mean, Green Machine

Speaking of food…I'm making some changes.

I've had my fun. Eating whatever I want, whenever I want. I believe that food is wonderful and it should be enjoyed. But I also believe that everything we put into our bodies is either helping or hurting, and I think I'd like to do more helping and less hurting.

I'm going to drink smoothies every day. Or at least most days. And every smoothie will have at least one vegetable in it. I'm not going to eat any more sweets…for now. Eventually, I'll come up with some kind of occasional game plan, but if there's one thing I've learned in these 36 years it's that I'm not very good with having "just a little". I'm going to drastically reduce my bread and dairy intake and see if I don't walk around like a bloated potato all the time as a result. I'm going to keep moving.

I hope to have more energy. I hope to feel lighter on my feet. I hope to ward off pesky diseases that can crop up out of a lifetime of feeding myself junk. I hope to be a role model for my daughter and my husband. And I really hope that if I really stick to this, those incessant sugar cravings will go away. I hear that they will. I'm skeptical, but hopeful.

Today I drank this:

And it was REALLY REALLY DELICIOUS, Y'ALL! And I won't even qualify it. It wasn't really delicious…for a smoothie, or …considering it had spinach in it, or …compared to eating sewage. It was just an awesome breakfast, period. And this is coming from someone who had this *also awesome* breakfast on the weekend:

With a side of this:

In case you want to play along with me, here's what was in it:

1 banana
1 cup of green grapes
6 oz of silken tofu (VERY hard to find, NOT in the refrigerated deli section with the other tofu, but in the health food section beside croutons…??)
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 apple

Oh, come on. Go for it. The first picture, not the last two. Cheater.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Out of the Darkness, and into the belly.

You may have noticed that there has been a significant decline in the number of food-related posts in recent months. There is a reason for that. My daughter, once an enthusiastic foodie with no limits to her culinary prowess, made an executive decision to embark on an elimination diet of sorts. One might argue that she was employing the preemptive tactic of identifying potential allergens in an attempt to prevent a surprise bout of anaphylaxis. I would wholeheartedly disagree before slapping one in the face.

Can I be blunt here?

She was being a jerk.

Yes, kids can be jerks. Yes, even mine. It takes one to know one, after all. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to her new and constantly shifting palate. Except that, without fail, every single thing I put in front of her for dinner - including things she had never before tried and things she would normally beg for - would be met with "I don't like it". She even turned down sausages. Repeatedly. I mean come on. Lunch and breakfast were marginally more successful, but even the snacks suffered. Whatever it was that I had brought for a snack was precisely the item she did not want any part of at that moment. If I brought three options, those were the three options that she didn't want.

Now. I'm not a pushover in general with the girl, and when it comes to food I can be quite Stalin-esque. You might not have picked that up, because I've never really had to flex my dictatorial muscles with this one. She's been so easy with food. But the minute she started to pull back, it was all I could do not to dig my heels in and bring down the iron curtain on the issue. But, as much as I've always said that I could not tolerate a picky eater, I absolutely do not want to create a war zone around food. It took every ounce of restraint I had to let her not eat, to let her claim to dislike foods that I knew she liked, to not give in to her whiny demands for different food, or send myself through the window after another round of the always exasperating "I'm full (take plate full of food away)…but I'm HUUUUNNNNNGRYYYYY" juggernaut. Yes, that's the word I meant to use.

So I think I've made it clear enough that E has been a pain in the ass in the eating department. The point of this exercise, you may be surprised to learn, is not to complain endlessly about the trials and tribulations of three year olds, but to offer you a shred of optimism among all of the wasted food.

On two wondrous, shiny occasions last week, we made progress!

First I made Pasta E Fagioli, an Italian pasta and bean soup, with absolutely no confidence that it would be well received. Now typically, the more preparation that goes into a dish, the less E will like it. So why, you ask, would I spend ages chopping and dicing when I know she's going to turn her nose up at it? Well, the truth is, sometimes I can be selfish. I love to cook, and I love to cook lots of different things. I love finding a new recipe. And as disheartening as it is to have my efforts repeatedly balked at, I simply cannot give in and open a box of KD. Besides, she doesn't like that either. So I made it, and figured she could pick out a noodle or two, maybe a chunk of tomato, and then fill up on crackers. I couldn't even be bothered to put them in a bowl, I just plunked the bag down in front of her. I've really been beaten down by this whole thing.

Anyhoo, would you believe that these words came out of her mouth?

"This is soooo delicious! Thank you for making me this delicious dinner mama! This is the best soup I've EVER TASTED!" 

I'm sorry. What was that?

She ate the entire thing. Quickly! (If there's another thing you should know about E, it's that she eats like  an old French dude tucked into the back booth of a Parisian bistro. She lingers.) And people, she didn't even TOUCH the crackers.

Round 2: Chicken. Since my finicky feline started her war on food, she has insisted that the only chicken that will pass her lips is "Foolish Chicken". Foolish Chicken is a restaurant down the street that serves BBQ chicken and ribs. Yes, it's delicious. But I will not be ordering a roast chicken from them every week just to satisfy my daughter's protein requirements. Essentially, after several attempts at home, she's looking for chicken thighs swimming in butter and bbq sauce. But, given her penchant for sausages and eating butter by the spoonful, I would really like to stick to white meat as much as possible.

So again, I walked into this next meal without a shred of conviction that I'd hear anything resembling appreciation from my little food critic. It was mexican night and, what with E being something of a deconstructionist, her meal was presented in small piles of ingredients, rather than assembled into wrap form. I used chicken breasts that had been poached in lemons and limes and cut into strips. Not even close to Foolish Chicken. And do you know what she did? She grabbed the strips and dipped them into the salsa and guacamole like they were breadsticks! She even went for seconds and thirds!

Once again I am reminded of the sage advice I received years ago while entrenched in the haze of sleep training:

"Everything is a phase. Maybe it's bad, maybe it's good. But it won't last forever."

So true, as evidenced by E's reaction to the Pasta E Fagioli leftovers this evening:

"I don't waaaaant soup. No thank you. Nooooo soooouuuuup!"

Out of curiosity, when does the "Let's cook for mom!" phase begin?

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Potty Lectures

Lecture A
Lecturer: E
Audience: Mom
Tone: Just the Facts

A long, long time ago, there were only corals on the beach. The whole beach was corals. Then they died and turned into shells. That's how it happened.

…2 minutes later...

Lecture B
Lecturer: E
Audience: Dad
Tone: Dramatic Flair

A very, verrrrry, long, looooong time ago….the beach had only corals on it. Then…one dayyyyy…sadly…(sigh)…they all died. It's true.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Day E Babysat her Uncle Timbo

E's Uncle Timbo is not really someone you would label as a "kid person". He doesn't have any, doesn't want any, and hasn't spent a lot of time hanging out with any. He doesn't dislike them…at least I'm pretty sure he doesn't…they just run in different circles.

Having said that, when I was pregnant with E, Uncle Timbo got pretty darn excited. So excited, in fact, that he even got in on the pregnancy photo shoot action, as witnessed below:

He asked us all kinds of questions and promised to babysit all the time. He gave us loads of baby name ideas. For a boy: Tim. And for a girl: Timella, Timeka, Timberbell…it was a pretty long list, actually.

But when E was born, I think reality was a bit of a sucker punch for him. The Excitement became The Fear. He would hold her if we made him, but mostly he would interact with her only while she was safely ensconced in someone else's arms, or strapped securely into a bouncy chair. Having little to no baby experience to draw on, he was very apprehensive about breaking his very small, very precious niece.

As she has grown, Uncle Timbo has come out of his shell a bit more. Fortunately for him, E is more active verbally than physically and, what with him being mind-bogglingly intelligent about a startling range of topics, they have had some truly entertaining discussions with each other. But still not much one-on-one time.

And then...

Last weekend the Cowfam went to Toronto, where we attended a wedding. A wedding to which our little one was unequivocally banned, as they sometimes are. Now typically this wouldn't be a problem as J's parents would have gladly stepped in, except for the small snag that involved them being in the middle of a three-week hiatus in the South of Spain and Morocco. Very rude, I know. That left but one option outside of actually paying a stranger to care for our child (do people actually do that?!?), and that option was Uncle Timbo.

When we first approached him, he seemed more than happy to oblige. Not much in the way of specifics were discussed, and everyone seemed pretty comfortable with the idea. Then came the emails. And the phone calls. Eventually, J asked me if I thought it would be better to drop E off in Kingston with my parents for the entire four-day Thanksgiving weekend instead. I said no. Uncle Timbo would be brilliant, even if he didn't know it yet.

And, guess what? Brilliant.

We elicited E's help by suggesting that she babysit her Uncle for the night, seeing as he had never babysat before. She was very fond of the idea, though she admitted to being a bit nervous. So we left them to their own devices, confident in the knowledge that they would take care of each other.

In the almost four years that I've been feeding my daughter meals, I have never once thought to make aliens and octopi out of weiners. J and I absolutely wither in the face of Timbo's story reading skills.  And though I might have preferred her entire lifespan to be devoid of Spongebob Squarepants, I bet every time she sees that obnoxious yellow blockhead, she will think fondly of her Uncle Timbo.

When we left the next day, E gave Uncle Timbo a hug that he described as "literally the best hug ever",  and there's a reason for that.  It's because he gave her the very best gift he could give her, and now they have memories that belong to just the two of them. And that's a big deal.

Nice work, Timbo. You're a natural.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Sounds of Silence

Overheard at dinner Chez Cowfam last evening…

E: Okay guys, we're going to play a game. It's called the Listening Game.

J: How about we play the Eating Game?

E: No. This is called the Listening Game, and I'll tell you how it works. So. You close your eyes - and you can put your hands over your eyes if you want, like this - and you have to be very quiet…

M: This game is awesome.

E: …quiet, mama…

M: Oh, sorry.

E: …and you listen.

J: Maybe you can eat while we're listening.

E: I can still hear talking...

M: Yeah, dada. Geez.

E: I can still hear talking…

silence…sweet, blessed Baby Jesus silence...

E: Goooooood, guys. Okay, open your eyes. Now. What sounds did you hear?

J: I could hear your chair moving -

E: Well, my chair wasn't moving.

J: Well, I could hear it. And -

E: No. You couldn't.

J: And I could hear the fish tank bubbling.

E: Yes! Good!

M: I could hear cars outside.

E: Yes! Good, mama!

M: What did you hear?

E: Oh, I wasn't listening.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gimme a J!

I haven't done a good ode to Dada in a while, and it just so happens that the last couple of days have produced quite a bit of material to his credit. He's a pretty awesome dude, as it happens.

It all started this morning, when instead of the usual creaking of the bedroom door to alert me that E was awake, I heard her little voice from her bed instead, just like the good old days. But, unlike the good old days, the voice was calling "Dada?" And then a sing-song "Daaaa-daaa!" Hm. Dada slept at the hospital last night, so he was not going to be answering her call. I went in, and she hid her disappointment fairly well. In any case, she wanted to see Dada, and the idea of waiting until after school seemed like FOREVER. It was sweet. She informed me that she REALLY wanted Dada to be there to pick her up from school so that she could show him the bugs in her classroom that I got to see yesterday. A couple of crickets and a really cool blue horn worm. I told her that we could arrange for Dada to pick her up, no problem. And that made her happy.

At dinner time, Dada showed us a card he had received from a patient today. It was an older gentleman who had been hospitalized last month for pneumonia. He is Vietnamese, and understands some English but doesn't speak much. Regardless, J did his best every day to spend time chatting with him so that he could understand what was happening, and to make sure that he was alright. His family would visit him often, and J would take the time to explain everything to them as well. When was the last time you wrote a thank-you note to a doctor? What if I told you that this is actually the second thank-you note he has received in his modest 14 month career? And that he's also received a note from an attending about how much the medical and nursing staff enjoyed having him rotate with them? I'm about as proud as he is special.

But the very best part of the day, maybe the week, and quite possibly the whole month, came when E began asking J about what he did to help the man who wrote the card. This developed into her asking what he did last night at work, and started probing for details about injection sites and bacterial infections and poorly-controlled diabetes. For every answer, she had another question, and for every question, Dr. Dada was only to happy to give a more detailed answer. It was, I think, the cutest thing I've ever seen

Parenting WIN!

Yesterday, walking to school, a car backed up from an intersection to give us room to cross the road. Before I had the chance to do it myself, E looks at the driver, throws her arm in the air in an exuberant wave and shouts "Thank you!"

I felt like Mom of the Year, and not in a sarcastic way.

Let it Grow

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.
It's not.
~ Dr. Seuss (The Lorax)

My backyard is about 70% weeds, the remaining being a mix of scattered dirt and grass, with the odd shrub and vine creeping over from the neighbour's yard in a valiant attempt to improve a rather dismal situation. As for the front yard, well, there are fewer weeds, and a lot less grass, giving it a distribution of about 70% dirt. A few chunks of groundcover, as well as a rather unfortunate (in that it had the misfortune of being transplanted into our yard) rose bush have succeeded in knocking the dirt percentage down about 10%.

It's quite the sight really, but not in a good way.

Every day, or almost every day, for the past several weeks, I've been trying to get this landscaping situation under control. I water the plants, I pull some weeds, I rake up debris. I water the plants, I pull some weeds, I rake up debris. Sometimes I chat with the plants, maybe sing a tune, doing my best to encourage them even though I possess no inherent gardening skills whatsoever. Or singing skills, for that matter. Chatting, though? If chatter were all they needed I'd have a rainforest on my hands. But, I digress.

Sometimes, while I'm filling bags with weeds or clearing fallen leaves away from my new groundcover, I feel really good about the progress I'm making. Every weed I pull is one less weed, every day I remember to water is one more day without killing something. I like that E sees me taking care of our home and gets interested in it herself. I like knowing that I've decided to do something productive with my time that will have lasting impact.

Other times, though, particularly when I take a look at the big picture, it starts to feel pretty futile. The front yard is still primarily dirt. The backyard is still primarily weeds. They both look pretty terrible, and it will be a long, long time, even with daily weeding and watering, before either of them will be something I'm not terribly embarrassed about.

And it occurs to me that my gardening is drawing great parallels with life.

And so I get back out there, and I weed. And I water. And one weekend, I bring my whole family and we work together and we put down grass seed. And we water. And we wait. And we feel good, not because it looks perfect or even good, but because it looks promising.

Why it's better to have a dumb kid

At dinner…

E: Can you imagine an elephant sitting on an egg?
M: Wouldn't that be crazy?
E: Anyways, it's just a book. It's not real.
M: I guess.
E: Like fairies. Fairies aren't real either. You told me that, right?
M: Um, yeah. I guess I did. *mental self-flagellation*
E: But wings are real, right?
M: Sure, it's just wings on people that aren't real. *STOP TALKING! STOP TALKING!! YOU'RE ROBBING HER OF THE MAGIC OF CHILDHOOD!!!*
E: Yeah. Why aren't fairies real mama?
M: Hey, want some ice cream???

Seriously though, the jig is up for Santa this year, isn't it? I just can't see her getting through the whole season with Santa and the elves and the flying reindeer and a bag big enough to carry every present for every kid in the world and the Grinch without popping the big question. You know the one. I can't even say it. And if I can't even say it, how the heck am I going to answer it? With a lie? Lying is bad. Even E knows that. That's why you're not supposed to have to have this conversation until their little brains are big enough to understand how sometimes it's cool for parents to lie to kids. Right? Oh man. I'm not ready.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FALLing behind

Note to self: The farther North you travel, the earlier autumn happens. I thought I had that sorted out after last year, but it went and caught me by surprise again last weekend. Friday was a gorgeous and sunny summer day. Saturday it rained for the entire 24 hours. And on Sunday morning when I woke up, it was Fall. Just like that. Which made for an outstanding day of apple picking at Mountain Orchards.

Once again we went picking with E's friends C & C and their new brother C. (Once you start a pattern, you can't very well break it for the third one without adding to the the list of how the third kid misses out.) This time there were more than 3 apples remaining, and we were able to fill our own bags instead of buying the pre-picked bags and feeling like we should have just gone to the grocery store. I gave E her own 10lb bag and took one for myself, which means that we walked out of there with 20lbs of apples for our little family of 3. Totally reasonable, right? You can't do that at the grocery store without looking ridiculous. What may be more ridiculous is plunking those apples down in the middle of the kitchen and simply walking around them for the first two days while trying to wrap my head around how I could process 20lbs of anything into something that we could consume in its entirety without running out of the house screaming frantically: NOOOO! MOOOOOORE! AAAAAAAAAPPLES!!!

When I did eventually address them, I started by cramming almost half of them into the produce drawer of the fridge, just to make the job more visually feasible. Then I tossed the other half into a giant colander for a little rinse,

and decided to tackle them a dozen at a time. Manageable chunks, that's what's important.

The first two dozen apples were peeled and chopped and piled in the slow cooker with some cinnamon and cloves. Let me tell you, as someone who has been making applesauce for a few years now by cooking a half dozen or so at a time for about 20 minutes on the stovetop, slow cooking them is where it's at. Depth of flavour people - it means something. Wow. 4 hours later my house smelled outrageously delicious and the applesauce was too.

Now normally, all the peels and cores go into the compost, but being that the peels are so good for you I always have trouble throwing them away. Usually I munch on them until my intestines start to cramp up, but this time I did a little googling and discovered that the peels are actually high in pectin, meaning that you can make jelly from the peels and cores without having to add pectin. What luck! I've never made jam or jellies before, but this seemed too good to be true…

…and it was. As convincing as that might look up there, we ended up with what I optimistically refer to as apple syrup. Wouldn't set. For all you jam and jelly novices looking to break into the practice, let me offer these words of advice: Make sure to use a thermometer you can trust. My thermometer was very expensive and worked very well for a while, until it didn't. And now that it doesn't, and I know it can't be trusted, I still cling to the hope that it will be good enough to prevent me from having to buy another one…which may be well and good for my yogurt making (not exactly an exact science), for candy and jam-making, it just won't cut the mustard. I'm going to give it one more go by adding some powdered pectin and reboiling, but I may just have to admit defeat on this one. Besides, I'm sure there are a myriad of uses for apple syrup, no?

So I was up to 2 dozen apples on that first day of processing, and once I had forced each of us to eat one (did you know they can be eaten raw?!) and threw a couple more into Nigella's apple bacon mashed potatoes, I decided that 29 apples in one day was enough for any girl.

To be continued...