The Junk Food Tirade

I’ve gotten some flack lately for posting about baking and eating cookies with the girls.  Apparently I’m starting them out with an unhealthy food lifestyle.  I am beginning their addiction to sugar and empty carbs.  They should only be eating whole, organic, raw foods.  How dare I give my precious sweet, innocent babies those poison pucks so commonly known as cookies?!  At first I was highly amused by this.  (WooHoo! I have haters!)  Then it kind of pissed me off.  Because, really, you have no idea what I feed my kids the other 99% of the time.

cookie-monster

You have no idea that I’m a health food snob.  Because I don’t write about that.  Its boring.  No one wants to know about how the girls love fruit and nuts and organic, free-range, grass fed beef.  Should I write a post about the well balanced, mostly vegetarian meals I provide for them?  Yawn.  Sure, I’ll probably share some great healthy recipes with you at some point.  I just haven’t gotten around to it.  It’s the holidays.  We made cookies.  We ate cookies.  Deal with it.

This is what most of our meals look like, thankyouverymuch.

This is what most of our meals look like, thankyouverymuch.

If you want to complain about kids eating junk food, I can do that with the best of them.  I can bitch and moan about how our society feels the need to push sweets on our kids for every freaking “special” occasion they can think of.  And how I can’t stand that I get the stink eye when I tell people not to offer my kids junk food.  Like I’m the bad guy.  In fact, I can even break it down in numbers to show just how much junk our kids are getting once they hit elementary school.  And I will.

Say there are 30 kids in your kid’s class.  All of their parents bring in cupcakes for their respective birthdays.  That is one month of cupcakes over the course of the school year.  Add in the class’ holiday celebrations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (“winter”), Easter (“spring”), and possibly Valentines day and the end of the school year.  That is six more days of junk.  Now, suppose your kid is moderately popular and is invited to 10 birthday parties, where they will gorge on cake and ice cream.  We’re up to 46 days.  If your kid is in any activities, there are bound to be soccer celebrations, Girl Scout cookie parties, and Sunday school soirees.  Add in your “occasional” treats at home over a year’s time, which we’ll say is a conservative 11 times.  We have now hit 60 days of junk food.  That is TWO MONTHS of crap.  And we haven’t even talked about actual holiday celebrations.  We haven’t hit on family birthdays, Halloween candy that lasts a month, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, Christmas cookies for two weeks, Valentines day candy for a week, Easter candy for two weeks, and ice cream for Independence day.  It could easily total at three to four months worth of days where your kid is eating junk.  Or more.

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My girls?  They don’t get all of that.  They aren’t in grade school yet, and even when they are I intend to send them to a Waldorf-style charter school where I don’t have to worry about junk food being seen as a reward.  They aren’t in any activities yet.  When we do bake at home, we generally make healthy versions of whatever we are craving.  Ellie would rather eat crackers than cookies, so I’m more concerned with her salt intake than her sugar levels.  Laurel has a sweet tooth, but I know I can give her fruit and she’ll be content.

I don’t keep junk in the house.  I don’t buy it.  Because if I do buy it, I will eat it.  Oh God, will I eat it.  I’ll eat it in one sitting, hiding in the laundry room from the kids so I don’t have to share it.  I have no will power.  And I don’t want my kids to see that or inherit that, so I remove the temptation.

Except at Christmas time.  Because the holidays are a time to let your guard down a bit, to have some fun and make some memories with the kids.  The holidays are a time to eat some damn cookies.

Noms!

Noms!

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Painting Cookies!

They look good enough to eat...all in one sitting!

They look good enough to eat…all in one sitting!

Today Laurel and I made cut-out cookies.  I wanted to make up for making cookie-looking non-cookie ornaments the other day.  Because I’m all about fairness.  And baked goods.

The fates smiled upon our house today, and Laurel was on her best, most adorable behavior.  So after we put Ellie on the school bus we broke out the cookie dough we made yesterday.  Laurel picked out which cookie cutters to use, and helped to cut the dough.  The only fuss she made was when I wouldn’t let her roll the dough out herself.  (That’s a quick way for it to end up on the floor!)  She told me how many of each shape to make, and we had a great time.  Then it was off to the table to decorate them!

If you have ever made cut-out cookies with a young child, you have seen the way they apply sprinkles.  Usually it involves 1/2 an inch of colored sugar on top of each cookie, non of which actually melts, and it just gets everywhere.  So I wanted some kind of (less messy) alternative to sprinkles.  Enter…..Cookie Paint!

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Paint + Cookies = One happy Lil’ Bear!

I remembered seeing a post somewhere at some point about making cookie paint out of egg yolk and food coloring, so I decided we’d give that a shot.  And it worked great!  Laurel loves to paint more than anything in the world, so it was a natural fit.  I decided on a limited pallet of colors, and only made red, green, and blue.  The blue didn’t really want to come out blue because our egg yolks were very yellow.  So it was sort of greenish, but I didn’t really care that much.  If you want a truer blue, I’d try using the egg whites.  I’m not sure how that will turn out, though. It might make them extra crispy.  You’ll need to add a bit of water to the yolk/food color mixture as well, to thin it out a bit.  And you don’t need much of it.  I probably could have split the yolks up and used only half a yolk per color, instead of a whole one.  In any case, I love how they turned out.  The paint got really shiny and pretty.  We will definitely do this again!

Truly Scrumptious

Truly Scrumptious

Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour (I used King Arthur’s Multipurpose Flour)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum

– Cream the butter and sugar together.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Mix in the dry ingredients.
– Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge for at least an hour.
– Preheat the oven to 350 F.
– Roll a chunk of the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Remember to flour your rolling pin (or wine bottle or other rolling implement).
– Break out your favorite cookie cutters and have at it.  Remember to dip the cutters in flour if they start to stick.
– Put the cookies on a cookie sheet.  Use parchment paper if your heart desires it.  I don’t bother.
– Take the left over dough and squish it up with another chunk of the unused dough.  Repeat the rolling/cutting steps until your cookie sheets are full.
– PUT THE REST OF THE DOUGH BACK IN THE FRIDGE.  Otherwise, while you decorate the first batch, your dough will get too soft and sticky and you’ll never get it rolled out.  Trust me.
– Decorate your first batch of cookies however you want.
– Pop those cookies in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
– Cool on wire racks.
– Once you have a free cookies sheet, get the rest of the dough out of the fridge and start rolling/cutting.  You get the point.
– Devour.

 

Cookie Paint

1 egg yolk per color
1/4 teaspoon water per color
a few drops of food coloring

In small bowls, containers, or ramekins mix up a yolk, the water, and some food coloring.
Make sure you use CLEAN paintbrushes.  Not the ones your kids were using the other day that you just sort of half-assed rinsed out.  Either use new brushes or give the ones you have a proper cleaning with dish soap and hot water.  Use a different brush for each color; don’t try to rinse between colors. It will water down the paint too much.Again, if you use yolks that are a dark yellow, you may have problems with some of the colors.  I had to add a lot of red to make the paint red, not orange.  You can try the egg whites, but I haven’t tested that theory yet.
Paint the cookies!

Elfing Around

The Elf on the Shelf.  You’ve seen them in the stores, on Facebook, and all over Pinterest.  They are everywhere, and they are watching you.  Well, not you exactly, but they are watching your kids, taking mental notes on their behavior so they can report back to the big guy at the North Pole.  Because that’s what they do, in case you haven’t been sucked into EotS culture yet.  They are basically creepy little tattletales, sent to your house to spy on your kids for Santa Claus.  Every night they fly back to the North Pole to hang out with other elves and give their reports to Saint Nick, then they fly back to your house before morning.  Some elves just hang out on the same shelf every day.  Some hide, so the kids can find them.  Some get into all sort of mischief.  The only rule is that the kids can’t touch their elves, or they lose their magic and can’t fly to and from the North Pole.

So creepy its cute.

So creepy its cute.

Meet Fjord, our Elf on the Shelf.  He falls into the mischievous catagory.  He gets up to all sorts of hijinks.  The girls love him, and I have to admit I take great joy in coming up with stuff for him to do.  I can’t wait until they are old enough to really understand the no-touching rule, so I’ll have more options on where to put him.  But I think I do pretty well for having to keep him out of reach.

If you are looking for some ideas for what to do with your EotS, here is what Fjord did last year, when the girls were two.

Checking out the star lights on the ceiling fan, and adding one of his own.

Checking out the star lights on the ceiling fan, and adding one of his own.

Fjord decorated the Christmas tree in the girls' room with mini paper ornaments.

Fjord decorated the Christmas tree in the girls’ room with mini paper ornaments.

Just hanging out!

Just hanging out!

Gone fishing

Gone fishing

Baking cookies

Baking cookies

Fjord turned our refrigerator into a snowman!

Fjord turned our refrigerator into a snowman!

Chillin' in the freezer because he was homesick.

Chillin’ in the freezer because he was homesick.

Playing dreidel on the first day of Hanukkah

Playing dreidel on the first day of Hanukkah

Even elves need a spa day every now and then

Even elves need a spa day every now and then

Pretending to be a reindeer

Pretending to be a reindeer

Uh-oh!  Someone touched Fjord and now he's sick.

Uh-oh! Someone touched Fjord and now he’s sick.

He made it snow!

He made it snow!

Wrapping presents for all his friends

Wrapping presents for all his friends

Zip-lining across the dining room!

Zip-lining across the dining room!

Fjord feels pretty, oh so pretty!

Fjord feels pretty, oh so pretty!

Little bugger got into my sewing box

Little bugger got into my sewing box

He wanted to go with us to the Christmas party

He wanted to go with us to the Christmas party

Even little elves know the reason for the season!

Even little elves know the reason for the season!

There you go.  Consider yourself inspired. Now go buy an elf and have at it.  Start making memories while terrifying your children into good behavior.  You can even buy snugly elves for the kids to play with, if they just can’t keep their hands off of you EotS.  And changes of clothing, if you are so inclined.  But don’t buy the movie.  Seriously.  We paid $15 for “An Elf Story,” thinking it was a real movie.  It’s not.  It is a 30 minute made for TV special.  That’s right.  $15 for 30 minutes.  Waste. Of. Money.  Not to mention that it is complete drivel.  Spend the $15 on something else.  Or just mail it to me.  At least I won’t insult your intelligence for half and hour.  Unless you want me to.  Your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love the holidays.  I really do think it’s the most wonderful time of the year.  And the girls are just making it better.  Every year they understand it a little more, and this year the magic is definitely blooming in their hearts.  But I still have some things to bitch about when it comes to the holidays.  And, being the generous person that I am, I thought I’d share them with you.

1.  Here comes Santa Claus……and there go my kids
There is a common occurrence among young children; they want to see Santa, oh god they want to see Santa, until they actually see Santa. Then, holy crap, Santa is the scariest man in the world.  Ask Laurel.  Last year she could not wait to see Santa.  We were the first in line to sit in his lap at Chev’s company Christmas party.  Then we got up there and this happened:

Ho Ho Holy Shit this is funny

Ho Ho Holy Shit this is funny

Laurel is crying, I’m laughing, Ellie is all “who the hell is this guy?”, and the elf is just hamming it up.  I’m guessing this year will be more of the same, but times two.  However obsessed Ellie is with the man in red, she had finally developed a healthy fear of strangers. So please, mother of a perfectly behaved 7 year old who has obviously forgotten what toddlers are like, cut us some damn slack.  Thanks.

2.  Silver Bells and Sensory Overload

Bright lights, shiny colored presents, loud music, people everywhere, lots of food….its all a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?  Even as adults we can get exhausted from the whirlwind of the holidays.  Triple that for little kids.  Laurel doesn’t deal well with loud sounds or lots of noises at once.  She says they “scare-a mines ears.”  Add in her normal three year old fear of strangers and holidays can be pretty rough on her.  And yes, uncle she only sees three times a year, you count as a stranger.  And no, she will NOT willingly sit on your lap.  Please stop trying to make her do so before she has a complete meltdown.  Now multiply that by one hundred for Ellie.  While she likes people, she doesn’t particularly like being pinched, hugged, or patted thirty thousand times in one day.  Add in all of the sights, sounds, and smells that can go along with a large gathering and there is a very good chance that I will be carrying her around all day because she has suddenly become a Velcro baby.  I’m her safe space, her home base.  If you see her clinging to me like a baby opossum, its because she is done.  Just done.  So leave her alone.

3. Cakes and Cookies and…..all the other stuff we can’t eat.

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Sorry, kid, not for you.

In addition to Down syndrome, Ellie has Celiac disease.  We found out this summer, so this is our first gluten free holiday season.  And I’m already dreading it.  Nothing like telling your kid that she can’t eat ANY of the cookies at the party.  Or the crackers.  Or the cake.  Or the sandwiches.  Or the turkey, because it was roasted with cornbread stuffing inside of it and now the whole thing is contaminated, which doesn’t really matter, because I wouldn’t trust it anyway without reading the nutrition info label, because frozen turkeys are often injected with stuff that has gluten in it, so it might have been contaminated from the day it was killed.  Oh, and I’ll be needing a brand new stick of butter and clean knife to use to butter her gluten free bread that I brought from home, because there are gluteny crumbs in the butter and now the entire stick is contaminated and she can’t eat that or she’ll get explosive diarrhea for the next three days and I do NOT want to deal with that, so instead I’ll deal with your rolled eyes and snarky comments behind my back.  And NO she can NOT have just one cookie.  I know its a holiday and you think I’m just being mean, but unless you want to stay up all night with her while she cries because her little tummy hurts so much that she wants to die, just stfu and put the cookie down.  And for the love of god, do NOT give Laurel a cookie in front of Ellie.  Unless you want to unleash the Hulk and have Ellie lose her mind and smash everything she can get her cute little hands on.

4.  Great Expectations

My girls are three.  They like shiny things.  Especially if they are at eye level.  They like to pick them up and shake them and put them in their mouths and play with them and drop them.  They also like stairways to unknown lands and doorways to uncharted territory.  It is a child’s job to explore the world around them.  This is why you will find nothing breakable placed less than four feet from the floor in my house.  This is why we use plastic plates.  This is why we have a gate blocking off our kitchen and locks on our attic and basement doors.  Because children are meant to explore.  If we are invited to your house for the holidays, do not expect them to suppress their nature just because you didn’t want to child-proof your house.  It’s not going to happen.  Don’t expect them to listen to you if you tell them not to touch your grandmother’s antique snow globe which you place oh-so-conveniently on the coffee table.  Don’t expect them to listen to you if you tell them to stay out of the spare room which you left wide open.  It isn’t going to happen.  They aren’t being bad.  They are doing what they are suppose to do.  You are an adult.  Your job is to be smart enough to figure this out.

5.  Holiday Q&A

If your family is like mine, the holidays are the time you see relatives you don’t see the rest of the year, so it’s natural to want to catch up with them.  Its natural for them to ask questions about the your kids, and what they are doing these days.  I get that.  Please, ask me about Laurel’s love of painting and Ellie’s passion for music.  I will wax poetic about it for hours.  But there are some questions and comments that can really piss me off.  Like “Why isn’t Ellie talking yet?  That doesn’t seem normal.  I’ve never heard of downsy kids not being able to talk.”  Oh, really?  In your vast research of children with Down syndrome, you missed all of the information about low muscle tone and poor vocal planning that a large number of kids have to deal with?  Maybe you should do more research before implying that my kid isn’t normal right in front of her.  She may not be able to talk, but she understands everything you say.  And don’t use the term “downsy.”  People with Down syndrome hate that shit.  So do their parents.  Would you call a person who uses a wheelchair “wheelsy.”  I certainly hope not.  Ellie is a person first, thankyouverymuch.  Then there are the barely-veiled questions and comments that imply that you disapprove of my parenting style.  No, I’m not going to let them eat candy before dinner.  No, they are not potty trained yet.  Yes, I really am going to let Laurel run around with the boys instead of making her sit still on the couch like a little lady.  Yes, I really am going to read the ingredient labels of every single thing on the table before I put it on Ellie’s plate.  No, I’m not going to make Laurel hug or even talk to you.  So back off.

6.  Gifts Gifts Gifts

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Its beginning to look like consumerism!

Want to know what the girls are getting for Christmas?  Laurel is getting a doctor kit and Ellie is getting a little train set.  They are both getting four things in their stockings, and I’m going to make each of them a stuffed dinosaur.  That is it.  Seriously.  And no, it’s not because we are poor (which we are).  It is because they are three and don’t need anything else.  They don’t care about the newest, coolest toy on TV, because we don’t have cable.  They don’t a Doc McStuffins Princess Sophia Barbie Dream House because they don’t know that they exist.  And you know what?  They aren’t deprived in any way.  They are THREE.  They don’t need iPads or bounce houses or twenty new dolls.  We have enough stuff.  They don’t play with half the toys the already have.  Laurel would rather paint than play.  Ellie would rather dance than dress up dollies.  And you know what?  I’m just fine with that.

 

Again, I really do love the holidays.  It is my favorite time of the year.  I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, happy Hanukkah,  happy Yule, merry Christmas, happy Kwanza, and a wonderful New Year.

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