Friday, March 29, 2013

Pinterest prejudice

I have a love/hate relationship with pinterest. 

We all do, right?  We love it for the cool ideas and inspiration.  But we hate it for all the cool ideas and inspiration.

Nobody has time for that, come on!

It started out as love at first sight.  Funny pictures and quotes, neat ideas, cool links to check out.  I pinned a billion things and tried about four.  And then I got overwhelmed by it, and it started annoying me.  Those birthday parties looked more pulled together than my wedding.  Seriously.  Actually, seriously more pulled together than my wedding.  And don't even get me started on the sheer number of wedding/burlap/mason jars pins I saw.  I wasn't looking for them, they just could not be avoided.

And all those hands-on activities for toddlers.  I'd read through them and feel a temporary euphoria.  I'm going to make sensory bins and educational activity centers!  I'm going to arrange my boys' meals into fun and appetizing pictures!  I'm going to transform their room into a comfy learning space!

But then I'd just give them sandwiches and play cars and dinosaurs with them and put them to bed in their same, old room.

Suddenly, I was over Pinterest.  What's more, I was above it.  I don't need to prove myself to anybody, I told myself.  I'm not supermom and I'm not pretending to be.  I no longer felt the urge to take a quick peek at Pinterest every time I picked up my phone.  I didn't even want to use it on an as-needed basis to look for a particular idea or recipe.  It was a clean break.

But then, every once in a while I'd think of something I'd seen earlier on Pinterest.  And I'd want to do it, but not want to give in to the temptation and let Pinterest win.  For whatever reason I was digging in my heels.  I'm genuine, I'd tell myself.  Just be me.  The me I was for my whole life before Pinterest came along.

But it's kind of weird to be yourself by not doing something that appeals to you.  Hmm....

The thing is, before Pinterest, I liked to try cool things I heard about.  So the love is back.

I'm sure I saw this idea on Pinterest somehwere.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

S/W/M seeking C/T/W/S for R/M

S/W/M seeking C/T/W/S for R/M.  As in:

Seriously worried Mom seeking cool teen with seizures for role model.

I just spent the last hour googling things like "seizure+role model" and "support+kids+seizures" and "cool+teen+epilepsy" and "help me my son cries every time he has a seizure and wets his pants".

I don't even know what I'm looking for.  A video of a cool, confident-looking kid talking about how he has seizures and wets his pants and how it's ok?  An educational cartoon showing a kid having a seizure and everyone treating him like it's not a big deal?  Anything! I just need something to convince L that it's ok and he's not alone.

He's not an anxious child in general.  And he's not the self-pity type (after all he's not even three yet- self-pity is kind of advanced.)  But yesterday he had a seizure and afterward he just cried and cried.  He was just sad and it sucked.

I want him to have someone to look up to, who can make him see that it's a bummer, but it's not really so bad.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Nana's Easter treats

Easter is just around the corner. I know I already mentioned the amazing easter package that my mom sent, but I'm not done thinking about it yet.

When you do something like put your kids on a 'weird' diet, people aren't always supportive. 

Lots of people we love don't understand and still offer our kids junk food -it's fine, they know how to say no.  Some people say we're denying our kids a part of their childhoods.  Other people say that it's a part of the world we live in and there's no sense fighting it. Some hopefully well-meaning people have even said that the only reason the boys react to junk food is because they never get it.  If we would just let them eat like normal people, they'd get used to it.   Everyone has an opinion, but they aren't the ones that live with the effects after the 'harmless' holiday treats.

My mom has been supportive from day one.  She listens, encourages me, rejoices with me in the positive changes we've seen over the last year, and never doubts that I'm doing the very best for my kids that I can.  And some time last month, instead of arguing that it's only once a year and that a Nana has a right to spoil her grandkids with treats, she went out and thoughtfully chose things that would make my kids squeal with delight, without including a single thing they couldn't eat.  And she shipped it halfway across the world and got it here before Easter.

It's not really any harder or more expensive to make an easter basket without any junk food at all, it just takes a little time and thoughtfulness. I can't say that my mom has any more time than anyone else, but she sure has thoughtfulness down.

She included: two adorable easter plates, a charming Peter Rabbit book, rabbit window clings, a card, and two egg decorating kits that use paper stick-ons to decorate the eggs, instead of dye.  The boys were thrilled, and didn't even think to ask about candy.  They've used those plates for at least 2 meals a day since the box arrived, and will be just as excited to use them again next Easter. No bag of jelly beans or box of peeps could have that kind of staying power.

Now, I can't make a listicle with just five items, so here's five more ideas for additive-free easter basket treats: Easter stickers, a coloring book, small toys (toy cars and bouncy balls may not have anything to do with easter, but my sons wouldn't complain- you could even put them inside plastic eggs) hair clips, and if you're lucky enough to have some at your disposal: dye-free candy.

My boys are so fortunate to have such a thoughtful and generous Nana.  Thanks again, Mom.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Whim-sical photographer

Just one question: are these or are these not better than your engagement pictures?

We happened to run into one of my friends and her daughter after school today, and Whim snapped a few pictures of the kids (with his phone) on the spur of the moment. Obviously if it was planned I would not have let L wear those shoes.

Anyway, how come whenever I try to just casually snap a shot of the boys, I  always end up with photos like this?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

M's gift

Usually disclaimers go at the end, but this post is going to get pretty faith-y and it's only fair to warn you.  It doesn't come up often in my blog, my beliefs are important to me, and this day couldn't go undocumented.  I won't be offended if it isn't your cup of tea, today.  Next time it'll be back to your regularly scheduled silly stories and pictures of my sweet boys.
I was a perfect child.

At least, I thought so.

I mean, I might have fought with my sister sometimes or stretched the truth here or there, but I wouldn't do anything bad.  I was a good kid, a good person.

When I started seeking God in middle school, I'm not exactly sure what motivated me.  It definitely wasn't feelings of guilt or despair at my sin.  Don't get me wrong, I needed Him.  I just didn't know it, yet.  I was a good person, remember?  Actually, I think that was probably it.  I realized that the other "good" people, like my best friend Bryn, were going to church and reading Bibles and talking about God like he wasn't just a cloudy guy up in the sky.  If this was the good-people's club, it was where I belonged.

Eventually God got through to me, but not before years of treating grace and forgiveness as accessories to my already-good life.  I just didn't get it.  I was selfish and prideful and blind to my need to be saved from those very things.  It's nice that Jesus died for those thieves and criminals, was my take.  Good thing I'm not like them.

Thankfully, M will probably never have to go through those years of foolishness.  He is fundamentally different from me.  The wonderful silver lining to his sometimes-mischievous, often-wild, adventure-seeking personality is that this boy of mine, at four, knows that he isn't perfect.  He makes mistakes and then feels sorry.  He recognizes sin in his life and, what's more, knows that trying harder isn't the answer. How's an imperfect person supposed to be perfect, anyway?  Monday night, M prayed to give his heart to Christ.

I remember side-eyeing people when they'd tell me they accepted Christ at 4 or 5 years old.  It just didn't seem like they could really grasp it.  I can't speak for any other four-year-olds, but M is the most genuine person I know.  He doesn't know how to pretend.  His confession was honest and simple, and he understands, at four, what took me years to understand.  I spent my first years as a Christian confused, thinking that following God is about what we do.  It's not.  It's about what He did.   So those things I didn't think a four-year-old could grasp - how we're supposed to feel, act, and respond to God's gift of salvation - aren't important.  It's just taking a gift, and every four-year-old knows how to do that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The five stages of grief- Cadbury egg style

You're probably familiar with the five stages of grief.  So you will know just how I felt today.

Anger - once 39 grams, now a mere 34.  How can they do this to us?

Acceptance - That's ok.  Who cares?  It's my favorite holiday treat, and I love it no matter the size.

Denial - I won't even miss those five other grams.  This is so good.

Depression - It's almost gone.  Sad.

Bargaining - I probably need two. After all, they're only 34 grams each now.

Thank you again, Mom, for the Easter package!!  
I think it goes without saying that Cadbury eggs are not on my boys' diet - these were just for me!
I actually made delicious, homemade Cadbury eggs once.  They tasted 100% exactly like Cadbury eggs, but that was in the old days.  If I try them again, additive-free, and they're any good, I'll put the recipe up.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Whim is

On Friday night I poked fun at Whim with my very first someecard creation.

I was extremely proud of myself and entertained. Actually, I might feel an addiction coming on.

But of course Whim's good qualities far outweigh his annoying bathroom disappearing acts.Luckily for me, this week's Listicle gives me a reason to focus on his best traits, instead.

Whim is:

1. An awesome stay-at-home Papa. Just being a stay-at-home Papa, at all, is awesome. Even if he did it grudgingly, I would appreciate it as a worthy sacrifice. But Whim loves his role, is proud to do it, and does an excellent job. Our boys are so lucky to have him in their lives.

2. Incredibly patient. I think I've said this before, but I am beyond unreasonable when I am hungry. I have cried in the car, on more than one occasion, because I was hungry when we were out somewhere but I waited too long and then couldn't think straight enough to ask for something to eat. And that's the point when I decide every food I've ever had in my life sounds unappealing/disgusting, and I'm not hungry, I just want to take a nap. Whim figures it out every time, gets me a snack and some milk, and then waits for me to transform back to my regular, not-crazy self. We've been married for almost seven years and he hasn't complained about it yet.

3. A talented musician. I'm the worst person to describe a musician, because I am too easy to please. To me, everything sounds nice. But much more critical, discerning ears have declared that Whim is an incredible guitarist. He's humble enough not to brag about it, but (since I'm not) he has stories of playing with many huge name artists, and is even one degree of separation from Bob Dylan and his own life-long idol, Eric Clapton.

4. Friendly. Whim makes friends whereever he goes. Probably everybody who knows Whim in even the least capacity considers him a friend. That was one of my Dad's finest qualities. Unfortunately, I got his bad teeth, instead. It's a good thing Whim is so friendly, or we might not have any friends at all.

5. Selfless. Whim helps everybody. Not in way that many of us do, over-committing because we can't say no. Whim likes helping people, and I'm proud of how many people can count on him.

6. Smart. I admit to being a recovering know-it-all. It used to shock me when Whim knew things I didn't (HORRIBLE, I KNOW! But at least I can use past-tense to talk about it). Now, I am just impressed. He is a wealth of knowledge, most especially about cars and music history.

7. Easygoing. For the most part, Whim is pretty much up for anything. If someone has a suggestion, he's in. Every time I read a new parenting book, he's willing to give it a try.  It takes a lot to ruffle his feathers, and he's pretty much the forgive and forget type.

8. Supportive.  Whim cares about my goals and does whatever he can do support me.  He does more about my (admittedly rare) girls nights out that I do.  And, like many moms, I tend to put my own needs last.  If it wasn't for Whim, I'd probably be wearing rags, because I never want to spend money on myself!

9.  Confident enough to ask for what he wants.  In Thai, they have a saying: "Shameless receives, meek misses out."  Whim lives this out every day.  I can't count the number of times he has had an amazing opportunity or experience just because he wasn't afraid to ask.

10.  Easy on the eyes. I know it's not everything, but look at this picture and tell me it isn't something...

I love you, Babe!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Interview with L

L had a little seizure this morning.  Not too bad, but once again, as it was starting, we could see he was more concerned about losing control of his bladder than the seizure itself.  And since fear and frustration are both triggers, I think his anxiety about wetting is actually triggering them now.  He cries about something or other, freaks out thinking he is going to pee, and then triggers the seizure.  I think that also might explain why he's had so many more recently.

We don't scold him about the incontinence (obviously) since it is not his fault.  Every time, we reassure him that it isn't his fault and change his clothes without making a big deal of things.  I'm also making the conscious effort not to use the word accidents.  He isn't having accidents, he's dealing with the effects of a seizure.  Maybe it's a silly distinction, but I think it may be important. At least to him.

Unfortunately, I am afraid he is picking up on my own stress about it- honestly it worries me more than the seizures, when I think of him going to school.  You'd have to be a low-life to make fun of someone for having a seizure- but wetting?  That's prime elementary school teasing material. 

Anyway, after he came around and was settling down, I asked him a few questions about what seizures are like.   It's nice that he's verbal enough to be able to explain things a little now.

Me: Does it hurt when you have a seizure?
L: Nope! (Huge smile!  I'm amazed how quickly he rebounds).
Me: What does a seizure feel like?
L: It's like <squinches up face and makes a pitiful, very puny-sounding baby cry sound>

Me: What feelings do to have when you have a seizure?
L: Sad.  And scared.

Me: Can you hear me talking to you when you're having a seizure?
L: It's <same face and puny sound as before.>  I can't.

Me:  If your friend had a seizure, what would you do?
L:  I'd say, "I'm here, I'm here," lots of times to her.

No more questions after that last tear-jerker answer. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Two more

Two seizures yesterday. Thankfully he's already down for the night, so today's a no-seizure day.

One-hurt, slipped and fell in the bathroom
Two- looked around at the playground and didn't see Whim (he moved from the table to talk to another dad) and thought he had been left. Poor kid, that was a sad one.

I was reminded again last night of how different the boys are. We went to the movies (Oz, the Great and Powerful) and L charmed me beyond explanation. Any time something scary or loud or sudden would happen, he would turn around and bury his face in my shoulder, wrapping his chubby arms tightly around my neck, not looking back until I gave him the ok.
It was adorably cute, and entirely new. I'd never had that moment, even with M. I so often think of them as 'the boys' or 'M and L' that I forget to think of them as 'M' and 'L.'

And that Easter package! L has literally not been more than an arm's length from it since it arrived. He has carried that box up and down the stairs, lugged it from his room all over the house and back again. He's sentimental and single-minded.

Today when I got home from work and was coming up the stairs, he burst from him room shouting,"Mom's here!" only to circle back, grab the package, and come running out again without missing a beat.

So many of L's firsts are seconds. I love seeing the parts of his personality emerge that are different from his brother.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A letter in the mail

M has a new penpal.

Getting a letter from him was the highlight of his life.

Wouldn't that smile make you want to move heaven and earth to arrange for more letters?
Of course, he can only write a dozen words or so, but that doesn't stifle his excitement. He dictated the rest to me.

He is now officially in love with mail. We write mail every day. The carefully folded letters go in the pretend mailbox (the piano) and then we find them and excitedly read them, and write replies.

Given his complete obsession, I asked all my family if they would send him some letters, too, to make his mail fantasy come true. The first one arrived the other day.

M diligently wrote his greeting, carefully copying my aunt's name and instructing me to write several lines about bees and their stingy butts. Moments like this make me so wish I could somehow homeschool. I can't imagine the joy of seeing them inspired to learn and finding their passions and running with them.  Of course we can do that without homeschooling.  Maybe that's what we're doing now.

Anyway, in M' book, nothing beats a good old-fashioned letter in the mailbox.

Unless it's a package from Nana full of gorgeous, adorable Easter things! (And not junk food - except a special treat for me!)

Thank you, Nana!

That package was probably enough to keep him excited about the mail until we start seeing Christmas cards!

Monday, March 11, 2013


I read once that smells can trigger our memories better than anything else.   

I offer no explanation or excuse for loving number 10. Even if I don't eat it anymore, I can't deny how good it smells.

1. Line dried laundry - don't you just remember putting your face right in it and breathing deeply?  I still do, sometimes.
2. Babies - I don't know many moms who don't love to snuggle a freshly-washed baby.

3. A new book - I have always enjoyed a new book, and the smell is part of the sensory experience.
4. Lemongrass - It's no wonder that spas and massage parlors often use lemongrass... it's so relaxing!
You will have to take my word for it that this place smelled like lemongrass.
5. Peppermint - It makes me think of Christmas, my favorite time of the year.
6. Plumeria blossoms - Before I lived in Thailand, Plumeria made me think of Hawaii.  Now it's a reminder of my good fortune, living in a tropical paradise.
We have these trees surrounding our house on all sides, yet somehow this is the only picture I could find of them
7. The ocean - Like probably everyone else who listed the ocean as a favorite scent, to me the ocean represents the beauty of nature and peace, and that feeling of being so small in such an enormous world.
8. Bacon frying - Well, who doesn't like the smell of bacon frying?  It's just delicious!
9. A woodstove burning- This is reminder of my house growing up.  The smell of a woodstove is warm and comforting.
10. Movie theater popcorn- Like I said.  No explanation.  It just smells heavenly.

Why not write your own listicle and share your favorite scents? 

What smells do you love and what do they remind you of?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Secret weapons

M woke up crying this morning.

It looked like it was going to be that kind of a day.  It got precariously close to being that kind of day.   Sometimes, when M gets like that, I can supermom through it.  The meltdowns don't faze me, I'm empathetic and creative in finding ways to keep the boys calm and separated and happy.

But this morning I was tired.  And annoyed.  Supermom wasn't coming through for me.

It wasn't even 9 am, and I was beyond my last nerve when I remembered to get him a piece of magic chocolate.  Then Whim suggested our other secret weapon- the Nong Bon Watersport Center near our house.
It's an unkempt, secluded park.  One of just a few places in Bangkok that doesn't feel like a city.  
One of my favorite pictures I've ever been lucky enough to snap.
We discovered it when M was little, and I love it so much I sometimes don't mention it to people.    There are tons of other gorgeous, perfectly-manicured parks in the city where people meet to have playgroups and practice Tai Chi, but they all feel like parks in the city.

It's never crowded.
This park has dusty paths and patchy grass, and ants.  In fact, I think that is what keeps it safe. The entrance to the King's park, the most beautifully kept part in Bangkok, is on the very same block. 

These were taken the week L was born, and this is the ONLY one of me that I liked.
Our first outing after L was born was a picnic lunch there.  We took a lunch and a football and I relaxed with my new little sweetie while Whim and M ran, and explored, and found shells and breathed and took a vacation from city life.

Thankfully, it's still just as beautiful and secluded three years later.  We spent the morning there and and unwound.

Whim and the boys knocked fruit from the trees with long sticks, and opened them up to find them full of larvae.  When it comes to my boys, that is considered the height of entertainment.

We climbed trees and found treasures and breathed.

What is it about nature and a little bit of open space that calms us?
Heading home
By the time we packed up and headed home, the awful morning was long forgotten.  Even if he melts down again by bedtime, at least we had some lovely moments in between.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

best iPhone mom response

This beautiful post should be seen by every woman who has ever read a sanctimonious mommy blog post/open-letter-to-moms-gone-viral that made her feel guilty or question herself.

I read that other letter, but I won't link it here.  You've probably read it by now, or one just like it.   Come to think of it, you've probably seen this reply already, too, since it's already a day old which is like weeks old in blog-years.  Still.  Just in case.

Moms, read it and be refreshed.  Nobody loves your kids like you do.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


On Sunday, L fell during church and bumped his head.  I just got him in to the bathroom before the seizure started.  It's happened a million times, but for some reason I felt so alone, sitting on the concrete floor, holding him as he soaked my lap.

We haven't dealt with that many public ones, it's just still hard.

I am not ashamed of L's seizures.   I don't hide that he has them, or worry what anyone would think if they saw one. 

It's just that I don't want a bunch of people crowding around or trying to help.  The moment is stressful enough without having people shouting suggestions, or asking what is going on, or do we need an ambulance? Once he had one at a pool, and a crowd of kids gathered around laughing. So I try to take him away when I can.

But then, when it's over, I sometimes feel so burdened.  After a few minutes, he's alright again, but I feel so shaken.  And though I still don't want a crowd, I guess I do want a little support.  Someone to run to the car and get his change of clothes, or offer to keep an eye on M for a minute so I can pull myself together.  I'm too good at sneaking away.  I don't even think anyone noticed on Sunday. Our church is full of people who love us and would be happy to help.  It's just the sort of thing that is nice when you don't have to ask for it.

There's something else, too.  Today he hurt himself on the playground, and Whim, who was nearest to him, whisked him off to the bathroom as soon as it started to look like he was going to have one.  I know exactly what motivated him, but it was the first time I'd seen someone else do it, and it looked like he was trying to hide it.  What we do now sets the tone for how L will see his seizures in the future.  They are a part of him and I don't ever want him to think he should be afraid of having one in front of other people.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hello, goodbye

Goodbye gorgeous, gorgeous hair

Hello sweet, sweet face.

Ten things I'm proud of

This week's listicle challenge - Ten things I'm proud of.  At one point in my life, this would have been impossible.  Ten things I'm awful at - easy.  Ten things I tried and failed - no problem.  Even ten most embarrassing moments or ten things I wish I had done differently would be better.  Self-depreciating is so easy.

But ten things I'm proud of... that takes guts, and I haven't always been so brave.

Now, though, I can. 

1.  Learning a new language.  A hard one.  I learned to speak, read, and write Thai without lessons or language school.  In fairness, I really can't spell well, but who cares?  Neither can plenty of Thai people.

2.  Leaving my home and starting a life for myself in a new country, where I knew no-one.  It was exciting and scary, and I will be proud of it for as long as I live.

3.  Running two marathons.  I've heard a lot of jokes about how everyone wants to run a marathon to prove something, but you know what?  It did prove something.  It proved that I can set a goal and work hard at it, and not quit, even when it's hard, and push myself, and achieve something difficult.  What's so funny about that? 

4.  Graduating from college Summa Cum Laude.  That looks horribly stuck-up in writing.  But I'm leaving it, because I worked hard for it and I was proud when I earned that distinction, even if it does seem a little silly to talk about it now.  You'll just have to take my word for it that I'm not conceited. ;)

5. Exclusively breastfeeding my boys for six months, and continuing to breastfeed them for over a year, each.  This is no mommy-war veiled insult or jab to formula-feeding moms.  What you do with your boobs is your own business.  It was something I wanted to do, and I did it.  I credit is as one of the most difficult things I've ever done, and I could never leave it off this list.

6. Helping L memorize his Bible verse for Sunday school every week.  M is so sharp and loves to memorize, so I can't take any credit for that.  But L's only 2 and it takes a fair bit of work each day to have him ready for Sunday mornings.  I'm proud that I make it a priority.

7.  Never teaching a boring Chapel at school.  All the teachers have to teach Chapel once a year, and not to toot my own horn (too much) but mine is always fun.  We've all sat through some real clunkers, and I'm always proud when the kids tell me they loved mine.  (I'm due to teach in two weeks and my presentation is not ready yet.  This is a motivational speech to myself.)

8. Not taking Whim's number all those years ago... When we first met, he tried to give me his number under the guise of being helpful.  "If you ever need something, you could give me a call."  I almost took it out of manners, knowing that we had hit it off, but that I would never, ever call him and all would be lost.  Instead, I said no thanks, but offered him mine instead.  He called me the next day, and the rest is history.

9.   Finding ways to keep M and L healthy and happy, even if it means some sacrifices.  Sometimes people tell me they wouldn't be able to give up this-or-that, or they couldn't imagine trying to follow our diet, and it makes me proud that I can.  I actually like junk food, or used to anyway.  I never used to care about food coloring or MSG.  It would be way, way easier to just give them any old thing and not worry about it.  So I'm proud that I am able to put them first.

This is what used to happen to Miles' eyes, pre-diet.  And it's his actual eyes that are swollen, not the eyelids.

10. Writing a list of my accomplishments and publishing it with pride and only the slightest cringe.  Way to go, me.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My secret to healthful cooking

I recently wondered if people who read this blog ever mistakenly assume I spend hours cooking nutritious, additive-free food for my boys.

I never post about cooking or post recipes or anything, but since I talk about their diet all time, I guess people could assume that.

I mean, I would be so proud if I was that awesome.  At first I had written, "I would love to do that!" but that's not true, obviously, since I could be cooking fabulous things for them every day if I wanted to, and I don't.  I read some other blogs and I think it's amazing how moms cook homemade chicken soup and grind their own wheat flour and stuff.

But no.  I can cook basic meals.  I make a mean pot of rice, scramble a good egg.  But I work full time, and my awesome stay-at-home husband is a terrific cook.  He doesn't cook every day either, though.  He doesn't need to.

We have a market.
Just one peek at the colorful market near our home.
I love this market. 

We can show up anytime, unannounced, and delicious, healthful foods will appear before us for next to nothing.  We've had to alter our choices slightly, in the last year, as we've adopted our additive-free lifestyle, but there are always plenty of options for us.

I almost always order this:

Kanom jeen.  My favorite market dish.  I get it every time.

But sometimes I get this.

Just kidding, it's the same meal on a different day.  I told you I always get it.  It's noodles with fish curry.  I don't know how much it would cost to buy the ingredients, or how long it would take to make the curry, but I don't know why I would, when I can get it at the market for 75 cents, with free complements about my gorgeous children and no dishes to wash afterward.

We are also very gentle with ourselves when it comes to what constitutes a meal.  We don't count carbs or calories or grams of protein or servings of fruit or anything else.  Our one iron-clad requirement is that everything we feed the boys is additive-free.  And that means I am totally fine with giving them a jam sandwich and milk for dinner at home some days if that's what's there, knowing that there more meals tomorrow and that in the end, they'll get everything they need, even if that means they have hard boiled eggs, oranges, and a cucumber for breakfast.

Today we had saffron chicken and rice, and the boys both devoured theirs, along with ox tail soup with boiled tomatoes. And moments like that are what dissolve any guilt I ever have about not cooking much at home.  Because even if I did, there is no way on earth I would have ever made ox tail soup with boiled tomatoes.  My homecooking would actually deprive them...