Eating Like A Hobbit

It’s my favorite day of the week! School has started up again and although Cookie Monster is super sad, I am relieved. It is hard to keep them entertained for a full day (Clearly we had too much fun this weekend because he thinks we are having loads of fun without him. We are, but we are having fun because he is at school. Mean? Yes. Truth? Also, yes.)

Anyhow, off to the updates. That’s what you’re really here for, right? The pics of food and children. (I understand. Both are incredibly mouth watering.)

1) I am surprised by how many churches there are in Taipei (at least in the Da An district where we live and frequent). There are like twenty just in the block by our apartment and on the short bus ride to school.

2) I love how there are so many living walls in the city. It helps with air pollution and is lovely to look at. I will try to get a pic before I leave.

3) I decided to take the kids to eat beef noodle soup and shaved ice and wonders of wonders – my kids actually loved it! Cookie Monster kept saying it was delicious and super yummy. We went to 老張牛肉麵 (Lao Zhang Beef Noodles) and Smoothie House. Here are pics for proof!

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4) People in Taiwan constantly stare at and approach Fleur and I and ask if the kids are ours. I think I would’ve gotten stares anyway if I were with my three, but together? Fleur and I are like a walking cult.

Also, I am slightly jealous that Fleur gets approached so much because of Omi and Gnome (I mean, have you seen them? They are gorgeous.) On the other hand, Fleur is always questioned whether or not the children are hers. Really? That would piss me off.

Taiwanese people love mixed race babies and since all our kids are multi-ethnic, we are constantly approached. On Saturday, two ladies chased us down to ask if all six kids were ours and if they were mixed. This morning, a lady gave me her business card and asked if Glow Worm was mixed. She wanted him to be a model for their maternity and kids’ clothing line. Unfortunately, they need him at the end of August and we will be back in the US by then.

I am constantly tempted to say wildly inappropriate things. But I realize there are far fewer multi-ethnic kids here so people are really curious. Plus, the Taiwanese birth rate is even lower than Japan’s and I think it is uncommon to see families with so many children (let alone a swarm of SIX).

5) Our good friend Tiger Woo suggested we go to the Lucky Art Crayon Factory to see crayons being made, but it is really far. It’s one hour by car and 5+ hours by public transportation. Fleur and I were going a little crazy last night while texting Tiger Woo and Fleur discovered it is 18 hours and 41 minutes if we want to walk there. Double if Omi has to walk. The thought of poor little Omi and her short little legs walking had Fleur and I giggling furiously in the kitchen as we texted side by side into our phones. Hmmm. Perhaps this is only funny if you were actually there. Sorry about the botched telling.

6) Fleur and I might actually be losing weight and/or inches despite our eating like Hobbits and spending almost every waking moment shoving food and shaved ice into our mouths. I think it’s because we have to walk so much and carry everything. Plus, it is so hot we barely need to pee because we excrete all our liquids via sweat. All you have to do is see how we have to haul our children to see why. Here’s Fleur after a long day. (She’s basically Super Mom.)

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7) Glow Worm has had a fever these past few days. I think he is teething. Poor little man. He hasn’t been sleeping well and also refuses to nurse. I suppose he isn’t going to starve – particularly since I swear he has gotten so much heavier since the trip started. So either I am getting weaker or he is gaining weight. I constantly think my backpack is too heavy (even when empty) and only when I shift it in an attempt to lessen the weight that I remember it is fatty Glow Worm that is causing my shoulders to ache. But seeing as he is the only child of mine to so joyously eat food, I don’t mind.

This morning, I wasn’t feeding him 蔥油餅(green onion pancake) fast enough and he started uttering guttural noises and pounding both hands flat against my chest as if to say, “Hey Lady! I am displeased with the caliber of your service. Let’s get a move on!”

7) We went to Kidsburgh, Da An Park, and Wen Zhou park again this weekend. Everyone except Cookie Monster was wiped out. What does it take to tire this kid out? Apparently only extreme heat saps his energy. And even then, his recovery time is super quick. shakes fist at sky Here are some pics of Kidsburgh, the bus ride home, and the park. In case you can’t tell, the kids are melting.

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Alright, I think I broke WordPress’s App. See you soon!

Why Do I Always Ruin Things?

Before I get started, I just want to say that I know I am a horrible, ungrateful person. With that caveat out of the way, here we go.

My house has a giant tub of Legos (many of which are Star Wars sets) that I got used on craigslist. I have a hard enough time keeping track of those pieces so we don’t pull them out much. Besides, Cookie Monster is barely four. He plays just fine with the Duplos.

Well, I just pissed off my mom because she bought Cookie Monster this huge plane Lego set for $100+ and we already have a ton. Now Cookie Monster wants to build it and Hapa Papa has to cuz I sure as fuck don’t want to.

None of us want to.

And I’m annoyed because now I have to find room for this shit and she didn’t buy Gamera a birthday present but she bought Cookie Monster one!!! Good thing Gamera thinks it’s her Lego set too. (The benefits of me forcing them to share everything. My house is Communist central.)

My mom said I could return it. REALLY? How can I return it after she has shown the thing to him?!? She says I take all the fun out of giving gifts. Blargh. I know I’m an ass but wtf. Boo.

Then let’s say he actually builds the damn thing. There is no way he’ll let me take it apart. So wtf am I supposed to do with it?! I fucking hate Lego sets.

I am a horrible, ungrateful person.

She did this I bet because she feels jealous that Hapa Papa’s mom buys them crap every time she visits. She tried to justify it by saying Cookie Monster’s love languages are presents and time.

Really? So we have to give him even more stuff now? (Rants the person who has like a million toys stuffed away for the kids to share for Christmas.)

To top it off, Cookie Monster’s birthday party is this weekend and despite me saying “No Gifts,” about a third will bring gifts anyway. Which he will rip through with Gamera with great delight (as well as remember who gave him what with startling clarity).

All this to say I may have the kids give some of their Christmas presents to Toys for Tots before I give them anything. Thin the present pile out a little.

I know. My heart is apparently two sizes too small.

Wait, so am I the only person who hates Lego sets? I’d much rather they just play whatever and make their own designs. Or am I missing something? (Besides a soul.)

So, now that I’ve shot off my mouth ill-advisedly, I feel awful. I ALWAYS do this to my mother and my MIL when they get presents for my kids. I get annoyed and mad and instead of just SHUTTING MY GORRAM MOUTH AND SAYING, “THANK YOU.” I am a jerk and then feel bad. Then, I try to soften my criticisms with belated gratefulness, but really, that’s just like taking a fat shit on a cake and then complimenting the cake and trying to eat it but all the while, THERE IS SHIT ON THE CAKE. I’ve ruined the present and the giving and nothing I can do will fix what I’ve spoiled.

I am utterly selfish.

If someone else other than my mother or my MIL gave my kids these presents, I’d be over the moon to their face. Effusive in thanks and excitement. But instead, I rob my family of the joy of giving.

Even before I open my mouth, I feel a minor struggle about whether or not to say anything but before my common sense can intervene and help me be a good person, I barf out meanness. *sigh* Because I am a mean person, people.

Just by saying this, people may comment and say, “No, you’re not mean!” and perhaps cite all sorts of evidence. But truthfully, I am nice to people who are not my immediate family. They can choose to not be your friend in an instant and I want people to like me. But my mom or MIL? They’re stuck with me for LIFE, suckers! So, I don’t bother being kind at all. I am an ass of monumental proportions. A selfish, cruel ass.

*SIGH*

Sin is hard on a person’s ego.

My Lazy Veggie Ways

I’m taking a break from the Money Series for the moment. Never fear (or my apologies) – it’ll come back later this month. I’m just feeling a little burnt out on writing about money matters (not to mention a little bored) and no one wants to read a post that sounds forced and obligated. That makes a potentially boring topic even MORE stultifyingly dull.

Anyhow, today’s post is about vegetables. That’s infinitely more interesting than saving for retirement, amiright? And not just vegetables – it’s about hiding vegetables in smoothies. The sexiness in this post is unreal. Prepare to have your mind blown!

Disclaimer: As usual, links to products are my Amazon affiliate links. 

My kids, especially Cookie Monster, are somewhat picky eaters. (They’re not extreme picky eaters, but enough so that it annoys the crap out of me and affects my enjoyment of meal times. I am working on this and will report the results in a later post.) It’s a trial to get them to eat their vegetables so I cheat. I hide them in smoothies (I know, not a novel idea).

Here’s what I do. I pile in a bunch of veggies and fruit into my VitaMix and blend on high. Sometimes, I will add plain yogurt and/or milk. Because the VitaMix pulverizes everything, it’s very thick and can almost replace a meal! To make a more juice-like drink, I just add more water or milk. I usually serve this in a cup as a smoothie with a cool reusable lid and reusable straw. (I got sick of my kids spilling as well as “wasting” the smoothie with a smoothie mustache that they would wipe off onto a napkin. The straw is also a lot softer so they don’t cut their lips/gums on a plastic straw. Yes, it’s happened. My kids are talented.)

If I have extra, which I usually do, I will pour into reusable squeeze pouches that Cookie Monster LOVES. In fact, he loves them so much that even after downing a pint glass of the smoothie, he’ll demand to eat a squeeze pouch of the same thing he just drank. It’s ridiculous and makes his poo AWESOME the next day. (It does help with constipation, though!) I chose these pouches because from the reviews, they don’t explode or leak. I haven’t had a problem thus far. Like all reusable pouches though, it’s hard to get the edges clean so I’ve used either a butter knife or chopstick to scrape at the food gunk. I hand wash even though they are dishwasher top-rack safe.

I also freeze them in popsicle molds to make popsicles. I first started with standard popsicle sized molds by Tovolo, but my kids can’t finish them. Cookie Monster finds them too cold and will only eat a few bites. The good thing with these molds is that I can shove a partially-eaten popsicle back into the mold and store in the freezer until he finishes it. The bad thing is I think it’s taken a year for him to eat just ONE. These are popular with play dates, though. (I don’t serve the ones he’s gnawed on already, obviously.) Tovolo also makes really fun-shaped molds like rocket ships and ice cream cone shapes.

When I switched to the small NUK popsicle molds, I had much better luck. I really like them because Cookie Monster and even Gamera can finish it in one sitting. Their handles are super-easy to hold and catch a lot of drips. Plus, they’re fun colors. You can even break apart the molds so you can shove them in any random corner of the freezer.

It’s so silly but even though it’s basically the same smoothie, my kids like them in different formats. Go figure. I’m down with whatever puts veggies and fruits in their goldfish cracker filled bodies.

If I have enough popsicles/pouches, I will fill a re-usable tumbler for Hapa Papa to take to work as breakfast. I’m still working on remembering to do this.

In addition to the smoothies, I will also occasionally make veggie breads (from this carrot cake recipe). My mom juices and she will freeze the leftover fiber/pulp. I will either put these into the smoothies or use them in my veggie bread. I pretty much use this recipe except I also add the vegetable pulp, one or two smashed bananas, and a cup of chocolate chips. I also don’t include the walnuts (I’ve used finely chopped pistachios) and use regular unbleached organic flour instead of pastry flour. I would give you measurements, but I don’t have any. I just dump at will. 😀 It usually makes two bread pans worth of Veggie Bread. With two cups of organic sugar in it, it’s hard to mess up. I would freeze the leftovers if there were any. I usually consume an entire loaf by myself.

To give you some ideas of what to put in the smoothies, I’ve included a bunch of the fruits and veggies I use. I often just buy bags of frozen organic fruits from Costco. (Especially for berries since it’s just too expensive to juice fresh ones.) I often also wash grapes or fruits that I will forget to use in time and freeze them in small baggies.

Just remember to have a good ratio between sweet fruits and the sometimes bitter veggies. You can also add honey if you think it’s not sweet enough. Remember, too, that I have a VitaMix so it liquefies seeds and tough fibers. If your blender isn’t quite as powerful, of course, adjust accordingly. Again, I don’t do measurements. I just shove as much stuff in the blender as possible without it exploding. Obviously, these are not all-inclusive. 😀

Fruits

– Globe grapes (with seeds)
– Bananas
– Apples
– Mangoes
– Avocado
– Pineapples
– Watermelon (especially the rind without the green peel)
– Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.)

Vegetables

– Carrots
– Celery
– Spinach
– Mixed salad greens
– Kale
– Beets (including tops) (turns the smoothie an awesome magenta color)
– Chard

Anyhow, hope this is helpful! Gamera tends not to drink as much of the smoothie unless it’s thinned out with more water. She doesn’t care for the fruit pouches but will devour the popsicles. So if your kids don’t go for the smoothie, perhaps they prefer its other incarnations.

I’d love to hear your ideas, too! Let me know in the comments what has or hasn’t worked for you. Thanks in advance!