Friday, August 26, 2016

Ridiculous Sexist Nonsense

One of the strange things about ridiculous sexist nonsense is that, because there's so much of it around and there always has been, it so often escapes our notice.  We're used to things just being the way they are, until somebody brings it to our attention, and we recognize the nonsense for what it is.

Case in point: why do healthcare companies treat "women's healthcare" like it's some kind of add-on to "regular" healthcare?  Half of the people in the world are women, and healthcare that is necessary for half of the people in the world is just "healthcare."  It's not a specialty product: it's a basic human right.  Even if it involves our woman parts.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Lunchbox Mix and Match

If you troll pinterest for school lunchbox ideas, you will find lots of uber-cute suggestions, most of which require a ton of advance planning and/or preparation.  If you want a lunchbox full of "fruit sushi" or homemade fried chicken, you need to start cooking the night before.  Some people love to do that, and more power to them.  I hope they enjoy their successful blogs and book deals!  Some people (me) wish Jamie Oliver would parachute in and take over our school lunch program so we don't have to think about lunchboxes anymore.  Until that happens, however, our family does lunchbox mix-and-match.

Here's the basic idea: pick one protein, one starch, and two fruits or veggies.  When I've been strategic about pre-made foods (aka leftovers), it works instead for kids to have an entree that covers multiple categories, like soup or pasta with sauce, and to round that out with a side dish picked from the list.

In a pinterest-perfect world, the kids would spend 30 minutes helping you prep, bake, cut up veggies, and portion bulk items on Sunday afternoon, so that they can easily grab a tub of carrot sticks and a muffin all week long.  An alternative excellent plan would be to make lunchbox selections the night before so kids can help with any prep or portioning that can be done in advance at that time.  Even with the best planning, certain things will still need to be done in the morning, though.  For example, if they prefer their apples sliced, and you're a sucker for getting them to eat cheap and abundant produce.

A note on my organization: Things that require no prep beyond putting in a container are at the top of the list.  Things that require more extensive prep are at the bottom.  Many of the items that require more prep can be made ahead and frozen in individual portions.  I've got a few fresh fruits and veggies that I almost always have on hand listed individually, but I also have spaces on the list to write in whatever fresh or prepared fruits and veg are handy this week.  Also, it is clearly just fine to combine items from the list to make an "entree," should one desire.  For example, peanut butter can be combined with bread to make a sandwich.  Or, you know, this thing, if you prefer.

Lunchbox Mix and Match

Protein
Yogurt cup
Cheese slices or sticks
Cream cheese
Ricotta cheese
Cottage cheese
Lunch meat
Peanut butter, nut butter, or sunflower butter
Peanuts
Nuts: Cashews, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts
Sunflower seeds
Ricotta- or yogurt-based dip
Beans (baked, refried, plain, or seasoned)
Hummus
Bean dip
Hard boiled egg
Energy balls
Tuna salad
Egg salad
Chicken salad
Mini quiches
Meatballs
Pre-prepared meat (pulled pork, steak strips, diced chicken, etc)

Starch
Bread
Cereal
Corn tortilla
Wheat tortilla
English muffin
Chips or tortilla chips
Crackers
Popcorn
Frozen corn
Muffin or quick bread
Corn bread
Waffle
Sushi rice
Cooked grain: couscous, quinoa, wild rice, etc.
Grain-based salad
Pasta salad

Fruits and Veggies
Frozen peas
Pickled vegetables
Pickles
Saurkraut
Olives
Salsa
Tomato sauce
Frozen blueberries
Apple sauce
Canned fruit
Dates
Dried apriots
Prunes
Raisins
Banana
Apple
Carrots
Celery
Bell peppers
Coleslaw
Cooked vegetable

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Fresh fruit

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Fresh vegetable

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Liking Things

I was familiar with "basic" as an insult for both people and items before I really understood what it meant.  Uggs, scarves, and pumpkin spice lattes all get called out as basic, as do people, particularly women, who enjoy them.  For all intents and purposes, "basic" applied to an item means a lot of people like that thing, and applied to a person, it means they like things a lot of other people like.

That's correct: "basic" is an insult that means, "You like things that are popular."

Hipster is another word generally used as an insult.  Here's a joke by way of illustration: How did the hipster burn his mouth?  He drank his soup before it was cool.

Hipsters like things that few other people like; they like things that aren't popular.

Take away from this that regardless of what you like, lots of people out there are happy to judge you for liking it.  Popular things?  Obscure things?  If you like anything, there's an insult waiting for you.

There's more!  There are also ways to like things that are less acceptable to the world in general than other ways of liking things.  Take, for example, teenage girls enjoying music.  They're derided for just liking how cute the boys in the band are and not understanding "good" music.  They're mocked for screaming, making posters, and decorating their bedrooms as shrines.

In fact, the behaviors associated with teenage girls liking things are so universally disdained that anyone liking anything exuberantly is mocked as "being a fangirl."  In case it's not clear that fangirl is also an insult, go ahead and do a quick google search.  I'll wait.

The safest way to like things is ironically: people pretend to like things, or they pretend that they're pretending, or they pretend that they're pretending that they're pretending until even they aren't sure what they legitimately like anymore.

Here's the thing, though, if there's nothing that's safe to actually like, and liking anything too much isn't safe either, all that's left is cynicism and boredom.  I reject cynicism and boredom as a cultural aspirations.  I challenge the narrative that liking things is bad.  In fact, I choose to embrace Liking Things as inherently positive.

I am all for liking Uggs, scarves, and pumpkin spice lattes.  I commend liking DIY Frankenstein bicycles and indie rock bands.  If you like a book, I am glad you like it, be it Twilight, Moby Dick, or Guide to Computer Forensics and Investigations.  If you like a movie or movies in general; if you like making art or looking at it; if you like birding or fishing; if you like tatting, online video games, archery, or all three; if you like anything or things at all, good for you.  Liking things is wonderful, and I think we should all do more of it.

Enough irony.  Go out and enjoy some things.

Hey, what do you like right now?




Friday, August 12, 2016

In which I recieve a phone call

We're in the process of working with insurance to re-roof and re-side our house, so when someone left me a message this morning saying they were Tim from the underwriting department, I called back right away.  Then we had the following conversation:

Guy: This is Steve in underwriting.

Me: This is Tricia L, and I'm returning Tim's call.

Guy: Tim is my assistant, so I'd be happy to help you.  We're making capital improvement loans to small businesses.  Are you the business owner?

Me: Wait?  What?  No!  Go away.  I don't...

Guy: No, you go away!!

Guy hangs up the phone.



Thursday, August 4, 2016

On being constant

Gretchen Schmelzer writes over at Emotional Geographic.  Her recent blog post on the Sacredness of Constancy struck me, and I wanted to share it with you.

The little things we do day in and day out aren't glamorous, but they provide the stable foundation on which our children will stand for the rest of their lives.  It's not pinterest worthy, but it's beautiful.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

In which I am pranked by a 5 year-old

I was making lunch the other day, and looking through the fridge, I spotted two full cartons of eggs and one carton with three remaining hard boiled eggs from a previous meal.  I decided to make egg salad and cracked the first egg.  Splat.  Raw.

V looked up from the table where she was sitting eating grapes and laughed: "I pranked you!  I switched one of your hard boiled eggs for a raw egg!"

Ok.  It's funny.  Good joke.  But still, there's the task of finding the swapped egg.  I took both full cartons out of the fridge and started spinning the eggs on the counter.  Did you know that hard boiled eggs spin faster and longer than raw eggs?  Useful tip.

I, however, was having no luck.  All of the eggs seemed to be behaving the same way.  I finally chose one that seemed like maybe it was spinning longer than the others.  Splat.  Nope.

I had the other two eggs in the first carton, though.  Those I knew were hard boiled.  I gave them a spin just to confirm, and cracked the first open.  Splat.

I was confused and possibly a bit irritated, standing in the kitchen with a bowl full of surprisingly raw eggs, looking at the last egg in the carton.  I had been sure those three eggs were hard boiled.  V looked up from the table again: "I actually didn't do anything.  I didn't touch your eggs."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

In which I presume the police were called

We went biking with family friends Saturday morning and wound up at a fantastic farmers market here in the suburbs of Chicago.  The five kids and four parents present enjoyed doughnuts, pretzel bread, squeaky fresh cheese sticks, and peaches.



Just before it was time for us to get back on our bikes and head home, I walked V and L down to a booth selling pickles.  I said, "There are three kinds of pickles, you can pick two to sample."  Both kids happily ate their two samples, and then V tried to reach her hand into the bowl and grab the third kind of pickle.

I don't really like my kids to serve themselves.  There's just too much of an ick factor to germy little people putting their fingers in the serving dishes.  Also, while I'm totally fine with negotiation, I don't allow my kids to just defiantly do the opposite of what they've been instructed.  So I stopped V from grabbing pickles.

V proceeded to yell and thrash her arms.  I led her and L away from the booth, and instructed them to walk towards their dad.  L complied, and V launched into a full-out meltdown.  We were still in a pretty crowded place, and I didn't want V to hit or kick me or anyone else while she flailed, so I held on to her.  The whole time, I was saying, "When you're in control we can go back to the bikes" and "I can't let you throw your body around in this crowded place."  She, on the other hand, was screaming "Don't touch me!" and "Let me go!"

In a few minutes she demanded that I carry her away from the crowd so that she could have a tantrum without me holding her, so I picked my screaming daughter up and carried her just across the street.  At that point, a cop car came jetting down the street and parked directly in front of me.

The officer got out of the car and immediately came over to where V and I were starting to sit down.  He asked me, and I gave him the brief version of the events.  The officer then looked at V: "Would you rather come with me than stay with her?"

V stopped screaming and spun around to cling to my neck.  He asked V again: "Would you like to come for a ride in my car?  Or do you want to stay with her?"  V stared at him with owl eyes and then hid her face against my shoulder.

"How about you stop screaming, then?"

Later V related that she knows police officers don't arrest kids, so she wasn't sure why he was threatening to bring her in the police car.  I explained that he wasn't threatening; he was just offering, in case I really was abducting her or something.

And there is no moral to the story.  Thanks, strangers, for looking out for kids.  Mine was fine, though.  Really.