Sh*t the Hubby Says: Our Child and TV Edition

A popular parenting argument these days is over whether or not to allow your child to watch TV, or how much TV-watching is acceptable. The American Academy of Pediatrics has condemned TV for the under-two set as the Great Satan. Clearly none those people have ever tried to go to the bathroom while a small human tries to climb in their lap and / or unravel the entire toilet paper roll.

My husband and I don’t argue over whether TV is okay or not. We’re on board with TV. We agree that excessive TV is bad. But we also realize that an occasional marathon won’t cause brain damage, so we are pretty liberal about letting Alex watch TV as long as it’s educational. We stick with Nick Jr.

We also read her about 100 books a day and she gets outside for daily exercise. She’s well rounded. We’re not worried.

Our disagreement is about whether standing too close to the TV will hurt your eyes. Or at least that’s the initial argument Steve presented, but I think it’s an old wives tale. Regardless, Steve really doesn’t like to see Alex watching TV like this:

She tends to hang off the credenza and stare upwards at the screen. Steve would rather Alex watch TV like civilized folks: from a respectable distance and sitting on the couch. So I’m not sure that this qualifies as a “sh*t the hubby says” but I’m the opposition and this is my forum, so there.

My feeling is that if she’s going to get a little exercise in front of the tube by building her “hanging off things” muscles, and getting her calves a workout as she strains on her tiptoes to get as close as humanly possible to the screen, then I think she’s better off than if she were sedentary while she watched.

Did you know there is something called sedentary death syndrome (SeDS)? SeDS is the result of physical inactivity. According to theNIH:

“SeDS is a major public health burden due to its causing multiple chronic diseases and millions of premature deaths each year.”

In essence, I am adding years to our daughter’s life by allowing her to watch TV while she stands right in front of the set. Am I right? Eh? Eh? Oh wait, don’t answer that.

Hello Insomnia, Old Friend. Tonight I Took Advantage of You.

iced coffeePhoto by Kenny Louie / Creative Commons

I’m excited. There are good things brewing in my life, not limited to the tasty iced coffee sitting beside my laptop.

When I woke up at 2AM this morning, I thought, “NO problem. This is just that whole ‘People are not meant to sleep 8 hours at a stretch‘ phenomenon showing itself.” The upshot of a BBC News article is that, historically and biologically speaking, it’s normal to split your overnight sleep into two chunks. If you wake in the night, then take advantage of that time to meditate, plot your great ideas, or just otherwise relax and repose until you fall back to sleep. Don’t stress out about insomnia and getting back to sleep; instead, enjoy the nighttime intermission.

In the dark while comfy in bed, I got to thinking about this project that’s been percolating on the back burner for a few months now. I decided to get up and take some notes and allow myself to think through a vision I had while lying there.

I hopped back in bed at 3AM fully expecting to finish out my night’s sleep without incident. But I was hungry. Ravenously hungry. I’m hosting a commercial video shoot in early May (tentatively, hopefully, fingers crossed)…wanting to look my best for that, buttoned-up eating combined with military-tough workouts were coming back to bite me.

I’m not a middle-of-the-night eater, though, so when I thought about actually putting food in my mouth, I felt turned off. Yet there was the hunger, gnawing at my guts, making me completely incapable of sleep. I thought some more about my project, and got a few of those jolts of insight that make you feel super-excited about a creative endeavor.

At 4AM, I knew sleep was off the table for the night, so I began my day in earnest. Hence the iced coffee. I wrote a post for Parentables. I made a second cup of coffee, and then I wrote up a shot list for my pet project.

As my daughter says when she rushes up to a crowd of people she doesn’t know, “Hi hi hi hi hi!” She’s friendly like that, and I can take a page out of her book. I decided it was high time I check in here and say, “Howdy.” Sometimes people email me and say “hi” back, and that feels AWESOME. So I want to extend that warm feeling to you. I’m holding your face in my hands and saying, “Hi hi hi hi hi!”

Sh*t the Baby Does: Poking my Bruise Edition

One day, I was in need of a bath. Trying to bathe oneself with a baby in tow is always a fun trip. I’ve heard other moms say, “No problem, just bring the baby in the tub or shower with you!”  Sounds great in theory, but I cannot reconcile the idea of sharing my dirty bathwater with a pure little creature.

Plus, I wanted to shave my legs using some coconut oil, and mother’s intuition informs me that the combination of “slippery and sharp” makes for terrible safe-baby conditions.

My solution? Tandem bathing. I filled my bathtub with piping hot water because I like first degree burns — oh yeah, another reason to avoid bathing with a baby — and then I adjusted the temperature to “normal” before directing the hand-held shower head to fill her inflatable tub on the floor next to the big tub.

We get in our respective tubs. I begin bathing and shaving. The baby begins doing the following:

  • Standing on the edge of her inflatable tub in an attempt to climb into the dirty, burn-y, slippery, razor-filled tub. Let me repeat — standing on the edge of an inflatable tub. This is not safe.
  • Throwing her tub toys into my tub. Over. And over. And over… I was beginning to feel like this was all an elaborate game of fetch, and I was the dog.
  • Pulling everything she could get her hands on into her tub. This included her clothes, my clothes and a bath towel. She pulled each item under water, got them all good and soaked, and then threw the waterlogged items into a sopping heap on the bathroom rug. Over. And over. And over…

She began crying in frustration when the bath towel was too heavy with water to pull back into her tub. Note to physicists: it’s easier to heave a wet item out of water than it is to drag it back over land into the water again.

After my relaxing, spa-like bathing experience, I put the baby down on the king-size bed so I could dress her. She flipped over onto her belly and with the lightening-fast speed of a 15-month-old who refuses to walk because she’s mastered crawling like a dessert asp has mastered sand, she took off.

Commence the slow-motion scene of my adrenaline panic as she begins her sprint to the other side of the bed. Let me pause here to explain that when she reaches the far edge of the bed, she will keep going and fall the three-foot drop onto her adorable little blonde noggin. At least that’s my prediction. All previous experiments of letting her get to the point of launching herself before catching her bear this out.

My action-hero self yelled, “NOOOoooooo!” (in slow-mo, remember?) as I raced around the bed to save my baby from certain dome bonkage. Only, as I reached the other side of the bed, I was confronted by the evil drawer of The Hubby’s dresser, the drawer that insists on hanging open at all times.

I was wounded when my thigh crashed at max-speed into the evil drawer’s knob. I saved the baby, but my bruised leg paid the price. I scooped up the baby, who was laughing hysterically of course, and stood in front of the mirror to confront the angry bruise forming at ground zero.

That was about a week ago. Early this morning, I cuddled my sweet baby while our brains shrugged off the fog of slumber. She poked her index finger into the purple spot of flesh and asked, “Thish?”

“That’s a bruise,” I explained. “A round bruise. Like a circle.”

“Circle,” she repeated. She continued to prod and asked, “Color?”

“It’s purple. It’s a purple circle.”

The moral of the story: Always take the opportunity to teach your baby their shapes and colors, even if it means giving yourself a contusion.

Recipe FAIL Leads to Tasty Thai Curried Peanut Soup Redemption

It’s a darn good thing I started dinner early yesterday and The Hubby got home late from work, because I needed a LOT of time to sort through the rubble of that peanut-buttery mess I was trying to cook.

Everything seemed like it was going according to plan. I followed my recipe, and like I’ve been taught by the chefs, I tasted the end result to make sure it didn’t need anything else added — usually small tweaks with the seasoning.

So what did it taste like? Peanut butter. This recipe had all kinds of reviews swearing up and down that it didn’t taste like peanut butter. Nothing but a pack of vicious lies!

However, one thing that may have skewed my results is that my sense of smell and taste never came back down to earth after pregnancy. It’s entirely possible that my superpower sense of taste influenced my opinion of the recipe. But regardless, BLECCHHH! I like peanut butter, but come on. Just gross.

Anyway.

I had to pull out the big guns and make BIG changes. First I added a can of coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of curry powder and simmered for another 40 minutes. Definite improvement, but my vat of soup still needed a kick in the pants, so I added a 1/4 cup of rice vinegar. Much better!

I was afraid to say “good” because my taste buds were frightened after their ordeal. But when The Hubby arrived home, he assured me that it was indeed more than good. Delicious even. He is not one to blow smoke up kiesters, so I believed him. Then he had a second bowl, which slayed any lingering doubts.

Below is the new recipe. The Hubby and I are both hot sauce fanatics, so after serving we both added some salt and hot sauce for a little upward notch-kicking.

Thai Curried Peanut Soup Redemption
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: Who the hell knows after what I went through.
Servings: 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. chopped chicken pieces
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups mixed veggies (I used a bag of frozen veg)
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar

METHOD:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil. Brown the chicken. Add the celery, onion, carrots, garlic, salt & pepper and sauté until soft.
  2. Add the broth. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetables. Simmer for about 8 minutes.
  4. Add peanut butter, salt, and pepper; stir until peanut butter is fully blended. Simmer for 3 minutes longer.
  5. Decide that you cannot possibly eat this swill. Debate giving your trash compactor a workout.
  6. Whisk 2 tablespoons of curry powder into a bowl of coconut milk and add to the soup. [This would be an unnecessary step if you would have added the curry powder in step one, right before you added the broth. In step 2, I would have added the coconut milk along with the broth.]
  7. Simmer for 40 minutes.
  8. Add ¼ cup rice vinegar and stir well.
  9. Serve. Allow guests to add more salt and some hot sauce if desired.

All’s well that ends well.

Diary of a Chef’s Assistant: Knife Skills

I volunteer at a cooking school, assisting the chefs while they teach classes. I share what I learn in this diary.

Photo by: The Italian Voice / Creative Commons

Today in knife skills class, I learned how to debone a chicken. It’s a bit sad that it took me until my 30s to learn such a basic task, but it never seemed to affect me in the least that I didn’t know how. I was always happy to pay more for trimmed, packaged chicken breasts — and to purchase chicken stock rather than make my own — thus sacrificing flavor along with money.

I thought it was worth it to save time. If I ever wanted to cook using that “whole chicken” flavor, I would roast a chicken and then use the leftovers to make a recipe more interesting. Now that I’m in the know, I’d rather buy a whole chicken, debone it raw and save the carcass for stock. Never mind that I haven’t even made stock. Yet.

So today I bought a bird with plans to debone it and use it in a stew that I’m making for dinner tomorrow. Although the recipe looks strange, I was only convinced to try it because I’m told it doesn’t actually taste like peanut butter. I’ll report back to you with my findings on that claim.

I made some changes to the recipe, reflected in my version below. For one thing, I’ll sauté the mirepoix (rather than following the original recipe and throwing the celery, carrots and onion into the broth without cooking first.)  Here’s the recipe I plan to make:

Peanut Butter Vegetable Chicken Stew
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 50 Minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. chopped chicken pieces
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups mixed veggies
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup peanut butter

METHOD:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil. Brown the chicken. Add the celery, onion, carrots, garlic, salt & pepper and sauté until soft.
  2. Add the broth. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetables. Simmer for about 8 minutes.
  4. Add peanut butter, salt, and pepper; stir until peanut butter is fully blended. Simmer for 3 minutes longer.

I would say “Bon appetit!” but I feel that “Wish me luck!” is a more appropriate expression.

I’ve Been Slaving Over a Hot Keyboard for You: Enjoy These Links to Lots of Stories

Photo by Erik Abderhalden / Creative Commons

Your Kid’s Dentist Could Ask to Pull Wisdom Teeth for No Real Reason: Prepare Yourself

My favorite story is of the guy whose greatest injury post-extraction wasn’t in his mouth; it was his bruised breastbone. Your dentist doesn’t always know best when it comes to wisdom teeth. Read this so you can school the tooth expert.

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Photo by Kelly Skalsky

3 Reasons Putting Yourself First Will Make Your Kids Happier

Parents are judged as being selfish for doing anything for themselves in today’s world.

After you read this article, you can tell Judgey McJudge-Pants where to stick it.

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Photo by Anthony Majanlahti / Creative Commons

4 Scientifically-Proven Ways to Reduce Your Appetite and Lose Weight

These tips will not only help keep you slim for life, but they’re a lot more fun than weeping into an empty container of Ben & Jerry’s and wailing, “WHYYYYYY?!!” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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How to Be a Role Model for Your Daughter: 3 Secrets to Boost Self Esteem

An earnest yet actionable post to keep our girls’ chins up. Bonus – boost your own self esteem in the process.

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Photo by Yours Truly

How to Take More Pleasure in Parenthood: 4 Tips for a Calmer, Happier Existence

You with the small kids — the next time you find yourself pining for the days you could use the bathroom without an audience, read this.

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Photo by Roger Wollstadt / Creative Commons

 

20 Ways Becoming a Parent Can Change Your Personality and the Way You Think

Having a child is a little bit like having a lobotomy. I mean that in the best way possible.

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Photo by Kelly Skalsky

 

How You Can Look Younger and Fight Mommy Brain

New studies are showing that light exercise can facilitate cognitive function as we age. Thank god there’s something to be done about this case of brain rot I’ve got going on.

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Photo byTurtlemom4bacon / Creative Commons

Teach Your Child to Eat (and Like!) Vegetables

My girl is finally eating her veggies rather than throwing them violently to the floor.

Well, sometimes. You can’t win ‘em all.

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Photo by Yours Truly

Protein Packed Recipe for Teething Toddlers: Egg Pancake

This one is really about why we should all eat an egg every day.

Remember when they said that thing about dietary cholesterol raising our blood cholesterol?

Yeah. Forget about that. It’s all lies.

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Photo by Sean MacEntee / Creative Commons

How I Survived Leaving My One-Year-Old for the First Time

Tips for traveling when you miss your shmoopy-kins.

 

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Photo by Yours Truly

3 Uses for Baby Powder That Have Nothing to Do With Babies

Do you have ants, greasy hair or heat rash? Neither do I.

You’re not actually supposed to use baby powder on babies. This article tells you why.