Grace has been extremely reluctant to try new foods. Like, somehow simultaneously screaming her head off and clamping her mouth shut so nothing can pass her lips.

As a result, dessert following dinner as it does, she has not had any coffee cake. She has instead spent pretty much every waking moment begging me for coffee cake and failing to understand the natural consequence of not eating.

Sam has been splendid about trying new things. He ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich earlier. JELLY. (Actually jam.)

Tonight, I made sausage sandwiches for Will and Sam, a veggie burger for myself, and a grilled cheese for Grace because dear god I just need her to be able to eat some fucking coffee cake and there was no way she’d try a sausage sandwich.

Sam, who does not like his precious spicy Italian sausage to touch anything else (even pasta), shivered and shook and guzzled water and didn’t eat until I literally hand fed him about half of his sandwich. He complained the whole time, but happily ate a pickle.

Grace chowed down on her grilled cheese, reluctantly tried a bite of pickle, was inordinately proud of herself for trying it, and then FINISHED SAM’S SANDWICH.

Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Picky is as Picky does.

My mom recently gave me a book called French Kids Eat Everything (affiliate link). I started reading it rather apprehensively, because I just can’t take one more smug parenting book about how I am doing it wrong.

It is not one of those books.

Basically, it’s a memoir of a North American family who move from Vancouver to the author’s husband’s home country of France, where the author is expected to feed her children the way the French feed theirs, which is…very very very differently than she is used to. And, well, it works. Her children develop better eating habits and more diverse palettes. In the book she lays out ten rules that she followed to achieve her goals, and gives tips and recipes to help others follow them.

What the fuck. I am pretty desperate.


Today I informed the children that they will no longer be allowed to snack whenever they want to. One of the key principals in the book is that grazing on snacks all day leads to kids who aren’t hungry for meals. Seems legit.

I fed them (and myself) a good breakfast around 8-8:30. Baguette with butter (no butter for Sam–I will work on that aversion slowly), bacon for them, eggs scrambled with goat cheese for me, and a square of dark chocolate each. Coffee for me.

We went to the playground and then speech therapy. On the way to Pasadena, Grace started crying because she wanted one more turn on the swings. She demanded a food treat to make her feel better, and I informed her that we would no longer be using food to make ourselves feel better. I offered to read her books instead.

We came home and I made lunch: pasta and sausage, both favorites, but this time I mixed them together. It was on the table at about 1:00. Sam spent twenty minutes saying he just wasn’t sure he could eat them together. I ended up feeding him about half, then he had a bit more on his own. I let them be done when they felt full. I did not let them move onto the next course until they were both finished with the current one. After pasta (I had parmigiana on mine, which Sam shockingly tasted), I had a carrot salad. I insisted they each try one bite. Grace was the harder sell this time. Then we had a fruit course (apple and banana, Grace is not required to eat the banana because she is very averse to the texture), and then–and only then–they were allowed a popsicle.

It took an hour and a half and there were many tears.

Sam gets a video game on speech days. He ended up with only about 40 minutes because lunch took so long and I wanted the TV off for an hour before snack time. At 4:00 I gave them peanut butter pretzels and frozen strawberries (which they have never agreed to eat before, and which disappeared into Sam in five seconds flat).

I’ve insisted that they eat at the table, such as it is. (We are overhauling the apartment again, and our table is currently under a tarp on the porch. They ate at the coffee table.)

I’ve corrected their language about food fairly constantly. “No, thank you” is the only negative talk I will accept.

This is exhausting, and we still haven’t gotten to dinner.

Morning people

You know what’s fun (and for “fun,” you should substitute absolutely any other word)?

Having a kid who is as crabby as I am in the morning.

Grace takes after her father. They both have the uncanny ability to brain immediately after waking (shut up, “brain” is too a verb), a talent that eludes me. It seems that Sam has inherited my level of functionality. He does not (yet) tackle the problem with gallons of caffeine, as I do. On a good morning, he simply stays in bed until he feels capable of facing the day. On a bad day, though.

Today Grace decided, almost immediately on waking, to play with her Playmobil family. She’s been setting up her dollhouse for them.

“Mom, will you play with me?”

“After I drink my coffee,” I tell her, guilt eating at my stomach lining. (Okay, guilt and strong black coffee.)

So she plays by herself until Sam stumbles out of the bedroom, yawning (he’s been awake for at least 20 minutes at this point), and collapses into a chair.

“Sam!” Her bright eyes turn to him like he is her favorite person on earth–which he is. “Will you play with me?”

“Ugh, Gracie. I don’t want to play.”

And just like that, everyone’s morning goes to shit.

And because I recognize in him my own failing, I have to work extra hard to keep from exploding with anger at him. Why can’t he just be nice to her? I know the answer, but I want him to hold it together in the morning, the way I often cannot.


I was still in bed this morning when Sam brought me an orange balloon and asked me to blow it up for him, which I did.

Later, he was playing a game of Don’t Let The Balloon Touch The Floor and I told him he needed to stop because it was turning into a game of Hit The Balloon Into Mom’s Face.

Later still, when I’d had some coffee, he asked if he might play with his balloon again. I said yes, and he did, and he had a good long run of keeping it in the air before it landed on me.

“Oh, why am I not good at this?!” he cried in frustration. “I guess I will not be a balloon thrower, after all!”

Like Grapes on a Vine


Uva uvam vivendo varia fit.

Look, that isn’t a real Latin saying (it’s nonsense, basically), but it is a real quote from Larry Mcmurty’s Lonesome Dove. He claims that it means something to the effect of, “two grapes that grow together on the vine grow to be like each other.” Probably his description is more succinct? I bet he had more coffee than me.

Anyway, Will and I adopted it as our motto way back when. And it’s been more true than I’d ever have imagined. I mean, for heaven’s sake, look at that photo. We have the same damn hair. Mine is a little swoopier, maybe.

We don’t finish each other’s sentences so much as we say things in unison all the damn time. People must think we’re crazy.

To be fair, I think we probably are.

Love & Marriage & Food

Sixteen years ago today(ish), I went to check my mail at the campus mailroom and ran into my friend Hilary. She was talking to a man in a tie, who I assumed was a teacher until she introduced him as her friend Will. So, that was a pretty good day.


Yesterday was Will’s 39th birthday. Since he spent most of his Christmas money on practical stuff, we went to the toy store to spend his birthday money, and came home with a bunch of Western Playmobil. Then I made the pretzels you see above. I used this recipe and they were SO GOOD OMG. I used kosher salt because it’s what I had on hand but I think they would be even better with coarse sea salt. (I might buy some and find out. Like, today.)

For dinner I made the best mashed potatoes I have ever made (four large-ish yellow potatoes, skins on, boiled; mix with a little of the cooking liquid, half a cup of sour cream, half a stick of butter, and salt), caramelized Brussels sprouts with shallots (slice both thin, cook in olive oil with salt, pepper, and a pinch of brown sugar), macaroni and cheese (frozen from Trader Joe’s, shut up it is really good), and a steak for the birthday boy, pan fried and covered with mushrooms sauteed in butter with a splash of red wine. The children had macaroni (plain) and sausage, because they have unimaginative palates.

Will and I have reached the point in our marriage where the main thing we disagree about is whether the heat should be on. (YES. IT SHOULD. You are warm enough BECAUSE IT TURNS ON when the temperature goes below 64.) Wait, I shouldn’t have led with that.

What I mean to say is we like each other a lot. I am super-glad he was born.