Posted in Cooking, Diet and Nutrition, Life, Organization

New Attempts

More and more often lately, I’ve procrastinated, put off, avoided, and straight-up phoned in a number of daily housekeeping responsibilities I should have been taking care of regularly — because, y’all, burnout is REAL.

I’ve been working with/for a certain arts nonprofit in our community, which I won’t name right now but can probably be figured out if you a) know me IRL or b) have seen the name dropped in a previous post (I can’t remember if I did ever name it). I’m a volunteer with this organization in a number of ways, but my main role is that of secretary for the board of directors. I joined as a musician several times off-and-on over the years, but started back as a regular in 2015. From that, I became a representative of that musical ensemble to the board, then they elected me as a board member maybe a year later (the time kind of runs together). I do not remember whether I jumped from ensemble-rep to secretary without ever being a “normal” board member, and it really doesn’t matter that much in the long-term.

What does matter is that, for the last five years at least, we have been in some form of crisis mode, and I basically got my feet wet as a board executive by just jumping right into the deep end. 😆 Or being pushed. It’s hard to say this far into it…

I get to resign this coming June, and to say that I am looking forward to it is something of an understatement. It has been one of the biggest learning experiences of my life, professionally, and — to be fair — what I have gained probably outweighs the frustrations, and not by a small margin. I am definitely grateful for the friends I’ve made, the things I’ve learned, the growth I’ve experienced as a person, and the people skills I’ve developed — all of which are priceless (even if it would be nice to get paid for the work that I do).

But crisis after crisis can wear on a person, and I think I’ve had my fill by now.

BUT! That is not what I intended to write about in this post. It just sets the stage. 🙂

Because I’ve been so burnt-out and tired, my creativity for anything other than problem-solving and firefighting for this organization (and maintaining survival for my family) has been pretty much nil. I’ve written down story ideas here and there, but I haven’t squished any clay for months or done as much music-making as I’d like (there has been some, and it’s been great, but I’m getting rusty despite all that), and let’s just say cooking anything more complicated than toast, frozen pizza, pasta, and ground meat has been a big challenge.

But something feels like it’s shifting. Maybe out of necessity, because I’ve felt SO VERY crappy the last week or two — bloated, fat, painful insides, sore joints, etc. — and maybe also because I’m sort of reaching a point where I may be jaded enough that I’m becoming numb to the drama and don’t care as much as I used to. I’m also getting fed-up with the hoarder’s den I call a house. My energy levels have allowed me to at least get food made and dishes done every day, but there is precious little left over for purging and organizing the mountains of junk cluttering up my living space (which is a heavy (and sometimes embarrassing) albatross I can’t work up the energy to get rid of).

One thing at a time, then. Today I’m not exactly fasting, because I ate eggs for breakfast, but I am consciously — and deliberately — hydrating. I will probably fast through lunch, but I need to cook and eat dinner, because I started something I’ve been thinking of doing for some time: Subscription meal kits!

I have a friend who has been doing Hello Fresh for a long time, so she sent me a free box offer, with further discounts attached, and I took advantage of it. I’d occasionally bought Home Chef boxes from the grocery store (a brand that also has a subscription service), and they were delicious and introduced some new cooking skills that were fun, and not super-challenging (which is good, when I’m fed up with being challenged). I’ve wanted to try a subscription service for some time now, so I would cook at least twice a week but wouldn’t always have a fridge full of random extra ingredients left over from that one meal I wanted to try (I do not have a good rotation right now; I’m a terrible meal-planner). However, I couldn’t choose which company to go with. The free-box coupon and discount made the choice easy, and now I have a little variety in my week! (Also, there was some escaped rice from one of the kits, so I reported it on the website and they gave me a credit that will go on my next undiscounted box!)

In addition to meal kits, I’ve been trying to get more vegetables into our bodies that aren’t just celery or potatoes, so I occasionally will buy the little bagged salad kits at the grocery store and add some kind of protein to it — usually canned chicken, browned and seasoned in a pan. They’re just so yummy, even if they’re more expensive than making my own salad at home (again, I don’t need a whole head of lettuce in my fridge if I’m going to eat salad maybe once a week). I don’t think I’ve ever bought any at full-price, though; they’re usually on sale when I choose to get some.

The chop salads sometimes contain a lot of the harder-to-digest cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, etc), and as delicious as they are, I don’t really want the bloat and stomachache that follow. So the other day I decided on a whim to stir-fry the green stuff after browning the chicken, and it was sooooo goooooood. I still think I may have had some difficulty digesting it afterward, but it was SO much better than trying to make a stir-fry from frozen veg, or produce I don’t use all of at one time (or have to chop, myself!).

So here’s a little cooking hack that I’m going to play with, mainly to see if I can get it to a point where it’s more digestible (even if that means I just take an ACV pill beforehand and some activated charcoal after 😉 ), but which turned out delectable the other night, and was a meal all by itself:

INGREDIENTS:

  • Large fry pan or wok
  • Bagged salad kit containing non-lettuce, cruciferous or dark-leafy greens & veg (e.g. cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, chard, carrots)
  • Salad-kit contents (like sunflower seeds, dressing, etc)
  • Oil for stir-frying (I used avocado and coconut for a Thai-flavored salad)
  • Kirkland (or other trusted brand) canned chicken
  • Oil or butter for browning chicken
  • Seasoning of choice for chicken, even if only salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Drain the can of chicken and brown in a pan with oil or butter, seasoning midway (for the Thai-style salad, I used Sriracha and lime juice, which we keep stocked in the fridge, and some salt).
  • Put chicken aside in a large bowl and heat oil(s) in the pan. Add greens from salad kit and stir-fry until caramelized and/or soft.
  • Pour greens in the large bowl with the chicken.
  • Add salad-kit ingredients.
  • Stir to combine and serve!

See? Easy-peasy!

And it just occurred to me that this ended up being one of THOSE recipe posts that take you through a meandering example of life before actually getting to a recipe. 😆

Fortunately, it’s not much of a recipe. Also fortunately, this is not technically a recipe-blog post. 😉

But maybe I’ll start sharing some of my cooking adventures, because I’ve come up with a bunch of hacks and cheats that don’t entirely suck (though I have cooked some food for myself that is…subpar… “Dubious” if you play Breath of the Wild at all 😉 ), and it gives me a little more motivation to update this blog more often, if not become some great home cook.

I need to share some clay adventures, too, because I’ve put off being creative for too long… I miss making things!

I actually can’t wait to cook my first Hello Fresh meal tonight! But in the meantime, I have to do some housecleaning and keep up with my hydrating plan…

If anyone is still reading this blog, what are some of your favorite cooking/cleaning/productivity hacks that keep you from just giving up and phoning it in for the week?

(EDIT: 3:30pm and one liter of water down! Time to go refill and drink another…)

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Life, Mommyhood, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder

January 2017

Oh, look, it’s January! Time to make resolutions I probably won’t keep! Time to renew my commitment to a mental facility to do more writing, especially in my long-neglected blog!

This time, I have incentivized myself. I’ve purchased the domain “coffeeandlollipops.blog” AND made calling cards with that info, and the forwarding email “deltasierra47@coffeeandlollipops.blog”. (It’s clunky, but it’ll serve for now. Especially since I’ve already printed cards. But if you want to contact me, use that address!)

This is in anticipation of launching a big plan to, among other things, document my struggles, failures, and successes in helping my kids learn to eat. I’ve mentioned before that they have feeding issues, but it’s kind of long past “issues” now into “disorders”. As in, I feel safe diagnosing them both as having “SED” (Severe Eating Disorder), without the need of a medical professional to do it for me. Granted, SED is an umbrella term, but one that is becoming more widely known and accepted, as “SPD” (Sensory Processing Disorder) and “Autism Spectrum” have been.

Before anyone worries that I’m one of those WebMD parents who thinks they know better than doctors, I want to remind or inform you that my kids are not toddlers or speshul sneauxflaykes. They’re eight- and six-year-old boys who have been eating five foods or less since introducing solid foods, have been to a few years of OT and feeding therapy (with small progress), and who would rather starve themselves past the point of feeling hunger rather than try to learn to chew anything, including treats like Jell-O, ice-cream, or cookies.

If that doesn’t convince someone of the severity of this situation, nothing will.

They do love lollipops, though. I daresay it’s the only solid food my six-year-old eats. So there’s hope!

In addition to blogging here, I hope to start vlogging, as well, and might set up a separate blog the boys can contribute to in the far future, which will feature their own videos. I bought them an inexpensive action-camera set-up for Christmas so we can create cooking videos. I homeschool them, and realized that cooking classes would be a great way to learn all kinds of concepts, and my eight-year-old mentioned that it would be fun to put some of our cooking exploits up on a YouTube channel. (He’s been angling for a YouTube channel for months; this is one way I can cave to his request while also making it educational and limited in scope. If it were up to him, he would post videos of himself rambling on about everything and nothing, pacing back and forth in our cluttered living room, and I just can’t let him do that. I’m a mean mom for promoting meaningful web content. 😉 ) So watch this space for kitchen antics!

Before that can happen, though, I have to address another extremely severe issue in our house: Ridiculous Overabundance of Clutter (and dog hair). It has gotten so out of hand, I could ALMOST make it on the TLC “Hoarders” program. Yes, really. I am not exaggerating.

I’ve always been a messy person. I know now that it can likely be attributed to a level of ADD (and OCD, but not the clean kind) I’ve always had, but got out of hand after I had kids and lost my ability to keep up with it. Now, I fight fatigue and motivation every day, and can just manage to stay on top of most of my outside commitments, making the kids’ food (for home and travel), doing the dishes, and emptying the trash. This is compounded by the fact that my husband is on a nine-month deployment (Army, someplace that rhymes with “Little Beast”), and it’s winter, so depression and anxiety are at their highest, too. I admit I haven’t really done much school with the boys this year, even though it’s the first year I’ve had to declare to the school district that the eight-year-old is homeschooled.

I’m a hot mess, y’all.

Which is why I need to blog — or, rather, “document” — my journey back up the downward spiral I’ve been on for awhile. In about a week I’ll be leaving for the Feeding Matters Pediatric Feeding Conference, which I managed to talk myself into going to this year. I’m really looking forward to it, not only because it’s in Phoenix, AZ, in the middle of January. 😉 I’m hoping I’ll be able to network as well as learn some new things and gain more advocacy for our situation. I wasn’t happy with what I’ve had available to us in the past, but I’ll address that in a later post. For now, I need to go make lunch.

Here’s to a successful 2017! 🙂 Feel free to post your own resolutions, struggles, recommitments, etc., in the comments. Please refrain from advice at this point, however, though well-wishing is welcome. Soon I’m going to write a more comprehensive post about feeding disorders and the issues we’ve had to deal with, and why conventional advice for “picky” children just cannot work for us.

Thank you! See you again SOON!

Posted in Children, Diet and Nutrition, McDonald's, Mommyhood

Confessions

My kids don’t eat “food”. My oldest son has eaten oatmeal, with few variations, for every meal (for, not with) since he was a year old. He’s eight now. My youngest doesn’t chew; he drinks a nutrition shake for every meal. This presents all sorts of issues I will get into eventually, but that’s not what I’m actually going to post about this time, ’cause that’s just gonna get depressing.

No, what I’m confessing this time is my unabashed love of McDonald’s cheeseburgers and French fries. Apparently, I was a little picky as a toddler and went through a “crackers and French fries” phase, and I am still a very big fan of both. McDonald’s fries aren’t really all that special when compared to the flavor and cut of several other competing chains, but they’re always hot, extra-salty, and crispy — not to mention nostalgic and probably laced with crack, or something. The same goes for their cheeseburgers. They taste like childhood. And if that’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Seriously, my kids don’t know what they’re missing.

So, you’d think that having two children who do not eat McDonald’s fare and cannot be bribed with food would keep me from falling into the temptation of using the Golden Arches as a reward or incentive — but you’d be wrong. 🙂 When I bribe my children with McDonald’s, it’s not because I’m going to fill them with junk food and let them act like monkeys in the Playland while I play on my phone and ignore them for half an hour. It’s because I’m going to fill me with junk food and let them act like monkeys in the Playland while I play on my phone and ignore them for half an hour.

I will have paid less per person to have access to a covered, air-conditioned play environment, compared to the age-limited, expensive indoor playgrounds we have around here. And I’ll get food I didn’t have to cook for myself. What’s not to love?

More importantly, I’m not having to buy them each a Happy Meal or something else they are not going to eat, that I would only end up eating in addition to my own meal — because one does not simply waste delicious McDonald’s food. I watch the other moms and dads in the Playland, coercing their child into eating just one more chicken McNugget, or take another bite of their cheeseburger before they can go play. (For the record, I was that kid, too. Mom would tell me I had to eat my whole burger and at least half my fries before I could go outside — there were no covered play areas when I was a kid — but I liked to eat all my fries first. And then I had no room for my whole burger.)

Now that I’m an adult with aliens for children, I’ve realized there’s not much point in begging them to just tryyyy a French fry. I simply feed them at home, then buy the Happy Meal for me. I get to satisfy my junk-food craving with very small portions of the yummy food I love there. I mean, have you seen those cute little fry boxes? It’s, like, half a small fries off the adult menu. It’s probably less than they served in Happy Meals when I was a kid. Instead of a small soda, though, I get a juice box and apple slices with it. Boy 2 gets the juice box, Boy 1 gets an order of small orange juice, and I order a medium drink for me. If the Happy Meal contains a kind of toy I might want (like My Little Pony) the toy is MINE (what? I’m a fan; don’t judge). But if it’s something they like, I’ll just buy an extra toy. I have, in the past, ordered two Happy Meals to avoid questions from the cashier, but eating two Happy Meals while my kids play seems a little too indulgent, even for me. An extra toy costs less (in money and calories) than another Happy Meal, so it just makes more sense, overall.

After that, they go play in a covered, air-conditioned (albeit ridiculously loud and germ-ridden) Playland while I eat and don’t do the things I brought with me to do…because phone.

Win-win, right? 🙂 Tell me you’re not jealous. And if you’re not, turn your thermostat up until it’s 85°F in your house and tell me how much you look forward to cooking for yourself, and how much you don’t wish you could get into your air-conditioned car and go to an air-conditioned place where your crazy children can get their energy out and you can sip iced-tea and not sweat. Because that is what summer is like in our house, and it is miserable.

Honestly — why suffer? McDonald’s has more seating than any of the playgrounds in our area, and it’s fully covered so I don’t have to bake in 85° sunshine because the postage stamp-sized covered area is packed with a bunch of moms who want to socialize. I do not go to the playground to socialize (with the exception of the few times I’m meeting a friend so our kids can play together, but none of my friends down here homeschool). Often, I’m taking my energy vampires to the playground for a break (from them — so they can feed off someone else for an hour or so). But if it’s 85° in my house and 85° outside, the playground is not a break — it is torture. I wrote an entire post that didn’t end up getting posted (I don’t know why, and it was stupid-long and I’m kind of glad it’s too out-of-date to post now) about adventures at a playground, including no seating anywhere and having to wait for the porta-potties to be washed out before Boy 2 could go pee (with help, because I have nightmares about my tiny boy falling into one of those) — and sometimes that hassle is just not worth it.

Besides, I don’t feel like I can be as readily judged by other McDonald’s parents. We all know we’re there for the junk food and leisure time. High-five, McDonald’s Moms! Now leave me alone.

BONUS:

I’ve been itching to blog more. (Yes, again. I know, I say it every time. I really do mean it this time! Probably.) I have more content that isn’t stupid day-to-day stuff, and a lot of crap to work through, especially where it concerns my children’s eating habits. We’re also staring Real Homeschool in the face this year, and as much as I’ve been looking forward to it, I’m terrified. McD’s might very well become my office and the boys’ recess some days.

Therefore, I’m embracing my new tagline in the banner: “I am the very model of a major modern-mother fail.” Not that I think I’m a failure, but I’m a failure at modern mothering. I love my kids and they’re great, but sometimes I love them more when I don’t have to pay attention to them. Anyone who thinks that’s bad parenting doesn’t have kids. Search your heart; you know this to be true.

Meanwhile, I’ll be at McDonald’s, ignoring my kids. 🙂

Posted in Children, Diet and Nutrition, Mommyhood

My Son’s Oatmeal

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(Created using Sketchbook Pro on my Google Nexus 7)

I do love that this ended up sort of in the style of The Oatmeal, and is also about oatmeal. Kinda proud of that. 🙂

I’ve mentioned before that my five-year-old is what might be called . . . particular (a.k.a. “picky”, but about a jillion on a scale from one to infinity). He likes his oatmeal a certain way: With peanut butter, honey, flax meal, and HOOOOOT. He can tell with one sniff that it is missing some element (or that’s what he’d like us to believe), especially heat.

I make it with boiling water. Like, “the kettle must be at peak whistle” boiling. It mustn’t sit cooking for more than a minute, or it will drop below 285°F, thereby becoming unfit for consumption (who knew?!). For this reason, I am continually baffled about how he could possibly not like the taste of other foods, because surely he has burned off all his taste buds by now.

Kids are weird . . .

Posted in Cooking, Diet and Nutrition

Waffles on Wednesday!

We had waffles for dinner, but this post is more about coconut oil, because it’s awesome. 🙂 The post is kind of disjointed, too, because I’m experimenting with pictures in a post, using the WordPress app on my phone. Also, I was cooking and eating the waffles between sections.

The waffle iron needs to be “prepped” before cooking, which means brushing oil on the plates. I used to use a sandwich baggie over my hand to spread coconut oil (which is better for cooking at high heats than veggie or olive oil) between all the little ridges. We like the non-Belgian style of waffles, so there are a LOT of little ridges!

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I either read about this trick somewhere, or had a brain blast, and started using my silicone basting brush (which I rarely ever use for actual basting) to get between all the ridges. MUCH faster, and less mess! 🙂

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I also like to use coconut oil in the batter, instead of butter. This recipe calls for melted butter or oil, and since coconut oil is slightly more solid than butter at room temp, I have to melt it. But I don’t like to use the microwave for healthy food, so I put the oil in a glass cup and put that in a pan of boiling water, so it melts — and it will fairly quickly, because it has a low melting point.

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Yum!

I use Nutiva, which I get in a two-pack order every six months, or so, through Amazon.com “subscribe & save”.

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After I get it all over my hands while measuring it out for the glass cup, I rub it into my skin and wipe the excess off with a paper towel. My skin likes that, especially if I washed dishes earlier in the day (which I did today, and got alligator hands as a result).

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My skin is nice and smooth now, with no cracks or pain. 🙂

I didn’t take a picture of it, but when the coconut oil was done boiling, I just turned off the burner but left the pan of water there so I could put the plate of waffles on top of it to keep them warm while the others were cooking.

I spread a little cocoa powder into the batter after pouring it on the waffle iron. Turned out very nice!

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And tasty! I love waffles for dinner. 🙂

(If you’re looking for a recipe, find one anywhere — I just used the “crispy waffles” recipe from my orange, 1970s Betty Crocker cookbook that I cannot live without, and replaced the butter with oil. I was going to use honey instead of sugar, too, but I forgot.)