The Microwave Should Always Be Safe

Why do they make bowls and mugs that are NOT microwave safe? Who are these people out there who use mugs and bowls but never put them in the microwave as a way of making the stuff inside them warm? And, if there really are people like that, why do they get all of the good looking bowls? And, since I know I am not such a stove-using fancypants as that, WHY DO I BUY BOWLS THAT DO NOT GO IN THE MICROWAVE? Just because they are pretty and I forget to read the sticker on the bottom?

No more.

I just removed my lunch from the microwave using my shirt as a hot pad. It is a delicious, overly heated bowl of leftover rice with leftover chicken and leftover broccoli and leftover peas, pulled together with freshly-ground pink salt because that shit makes everything amazing. You can’t make delicacies like that on the stove. That is a microwave feast, my friend. And I need to bowls to go with it so I can take my warmed-up leftovers out of the oven barehanded with my shirt all the way on, like a classy woman.

NO MORE BOWLS THAT DON’T GO IN THE MICROWAVE, universe. I am looking at you, Target. Don’t do it. I am not buying them anymore and when I finally finish breaking all of the ones I have in a few more years, I expect some seriously good-looking bowls that I can nuke forever.

The Evolution of Normal, a Story of Smoothies

James and I have a smoothie for breakfast pretty much every morning. It is a great protein/fruit/veggie option for us and it is relatively fast, so you can’t beat it. Unless someone is making french toast, but pretty much no one ever is.

This school year, James is the main smoothie maker. I get the girls dressed and presentable looking (while they are cute kids, this is seriously the hardest job of the day. At least besides homework and dinner and bedtime. Why, why do I have to give explicit step-by-step instructions for getting dressed every #%$#^*@ morning?! “Take off your pajamas. No, they don’t go on the floor. Now put on your shirt. That is backwards. Now get your pants. No! You cannot lay back down. Socks! You must wear socks.” EVERY DAY. While I tackle this nearly impossible task, James makes breakfast (peacefully alone downstairs, reading the paper and humming to himself.)

And so he makes the smoothies. I don’t even know what is in them anymore, really. I know that when he took over, there was a cost calculation of the value of fresh vs. frozen spinach and he updated my shopping list (frozen now, which doubles its value by never rotting into a pile of slime in the back of the fridge or making me feel like I should make a salad when I don’t want one.)

When we first started, we made Jamba Juice-style smoothies. Raspberries and orange juice and sunshine. They were bright red and sweet and delicious. The girls even loved them and would drink them in the car on the way to daycare (note, if your kid ever spills a smoothie into the seat during the summer, clean it up right away or that shit bakes in.)

They start out as a pretty rainbow…

Then we started adding protein powder to make them more filling. And then some spinach for veggie power. Once I switched over to kale, though, we lost our child smoothie fans and I had to buy a nicer blender so that no chewing was required to consume them. But we pressed on, adding carrots and extra fiber and swapping juice for milk for water. Once I tried adding broccoli stems, but James told me I’d taken it a step too far.

This year, we switched to pea- and rice-based protein powder instead of whey (As I age, my body has begun not-so-politely declining dairy.) When we first started using it, I noticed that it tasted like… peas? But worse? This website says, politely: “With a distinct taste, pea protein can sometimes be a tough ingredient for any smoothie.”

But the blending ruins the rainbow.

Combine that taste with the fact that we use red and blue and orange fruit, and green spinach, and brown protein powder and it comes out a brackish green-brown.   Not the cheery, commericalizable red of years past, or the clear, healthy-looking green of smoothies in health cookbooks. The color of your local pond after rain.

But I love it.  I drink it happily every day.  I am drinking one right now. Even though it looks like poison and I am not sure if it objectively tastes good.

And that is how I know you can get used to anything.

Except, maybe, getting my kids ready for school.


Lauren and James’s bog smoothie

  • 1 cup of water per person.
  • Protein. We like Orgain plant-based protein in chocolate from Costco. Follow serving size suggestions from the brand.
  • Extra fiber, like wheat bran or psyllium husk. I found a nice, inexpensive one at Trader Joe’s (always Trader Joe’s <3).
  • Chia seeds. They are the hotness.  Add to everything.
  • Handful of greens like spinach or kale. Never romaine lettuce or arugula. 😉
  • Carrot if you’re feeling super veg. Probably not broccoli, though.
  • Banana, fresh or frozen.
  • Frozen fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries (my personal, though most expensive favorite.) Some of the multi-berry blends are great.

Put it all in your blender, liquid first, then blend.

Tip: If you don’t have much frozen stuff, add some ice to keep it cold. Warm smoothies are the worst.

Enjoy. And if you don’t enjoy, keep making it and drinking it anyways. You’ll come around eventually.

I like me.

Evie got a new helmet for her bike. It has a dry erase surface and comes with cool neon markers so you can make your own design, over and over again. Evie is 5, so this is the perfect helmet because she knows–of course–that she can make much better helmet designs than any store. Much, much cooler. So, where I would choose something pre-designed, she was all about DIY. Even for an extra $5.

She rode to school today rocking her first design. She made it last night but I had not seen the totality of the masterpiece until this morning. Her name, hearts, squiggly lines. And then at the stop light she turned her head towards the other side of the street and I saw what she had written across the right side of her new headwear: “I like me.”

I caught my breath. What an amazing thing to want to put out there for the world. Evie did not ask me how to spell any of these words as she designed, so she came up with that slogan–and spelled it correctly!–herself.

I pondered it all the way to school. I like me. I like me. Evie likes Evie.

Does she know about self-love? Did someone teach her about liking herself the way she was and it sunk in, or did she just feel that way without any teaching? Sometimes she’s so hard on herself–did she like herself just last night, or does she like herself in a deep, long-term, sweeping way? Would other kids think she was stuck up? Was she stuck up? Could she be convinced to never erase that part?

By the time I was back home, I was thinking about whether Lauren likes Lauren. She does, mostly. But she would not put it on her helmet. She might just think it very quietly after working out, or making great dinner, or drinking kombucha on the porch. She has worked hard to like herself, and there have been times of serious non-like. And some days and hours of non-like still. Remembering to like is still sometimes trained, rather than spontaneous, and quiet, rather than racing across the street in neon with training wheels.

Maybe we all start out liking ourselves, and then so many things in life happen that shake that like. And the goal is to come back to where we started.


Having two girls changed my self-like for the better (crazy since having kids changed my body and my sleep and my time…). Two amazing, powerful, fragile, brilliant, crazy people in my care, growing and learning and messing up everything every day. They have already faced some of their own “things in life that happen”–their own five-year-old and nine-year-old hardships. It is so hard to watch as a loving (rather awesome) momma. Often they just have to go through those parts of life, finding their way and waiting for a new day to try again.

But sometimes, I get to help or offer advice. Then I get to practice advising someone I dearly love how to be safe and well and happy. It’s a daunting task and I learned, as I tried to complete it over and again, that I often doled out suggestions of what I thought could bring happiness that I was not myself following.

For example, I used to be bulimic. It was long ago and I am better now (I thought you’d wonder; thanks for mentally asking), but even after recovery I used to struggle sometimes with the desire to purge after eating too much of something unhealthy. It seemed like an easy, relatively harmless shortcut to feeling in control again, and I took that shortcut every now and again, without feeling I was “unhealthy” overall.

And then one day, as I was contemplating the toilet after two donuts, or something ridiculous like that, I thought of my kids. Evie, in specific. What if she sometimes freaks out about what she eats? What if she opened up to me about her insecurity and asked what she should do if she ate too much and felt guilty?

“Go to the most remote restroom you can find. Wait until you’re alone, and gag yourself until you vomit. It is worth it to cancel out a donut. I mean, you don’t want to have eaten a donut, DO YOU?”

AHHH. I mean, I would never in a million years say that. Only a super villain in a very avant-garde Disney movie (with an oddly wide range of plot points) would say something like that to a child.

But, that was what I told myself. That was what my inner voice was saying to me. It doesn’t get much farther from “I like me” than that. I was my own super villain. And I decided it was not okay.

So I started giving myself advice as if it was something I’d say to my kids. If it sounded like something I wanted for them, it was good to do. If it sounded like I was Maleficent, well, that was a no.

“You ate two donuts? Probably they were awesome donuts, and everyone indulges sometimes. Go for a walk. Eat oatmeal tomorrow. You are okay and life is short and some days have donuts and don’t fret.”*


While my practice is not perfect, I have come so far in the last several years. I am so much kinder to myself. So much happier. Maybe some future day, I will have come so far that I will want a blank helmet, and I will make it say “I like me.” Just like my daughter.

My greatest accomplishment today was that I raise the girl under the “I like me” helmet. My goal is that she, and her sister, and their mom, and everyone else out there, can say that–and mean it–forever. <3

*I ate 5 maple leaf cookies while I wrote this post. They were so delicious. Maybe I’ll have oatmeal for breakfast. But maybe not.

I think I am going to write a book

People keep suggesting it when I write something funny on Facebook, so there must be something to it, right?  Facebook never lies. Aaaaaand I my kids are back in school, so I have a bit more time during the day, if I ignore the mopping like I usually do.  I have been toying around with the idea for years and I even have a “Greatest Courses” DVD set on writing a novel.  Or something like that–I need to watch that.

If I write a book, what do you want to hear about?  A memoir? My kids’ hilarious sayings? Some sort of fiction? I have lots of ideas swirling in my head and I would love your input.

I might start posting some of what I put together here and see what you think.  This blog has been dormant, so that might be a slow process, but perhaps it will wake back up. Keep me accountable, and I will try to keep coming back online.

Happy Tuesday!

Lauren

Not thankful: Snow days

Never thought I would say that. If we could travel back in time to fourth grade Lauren, who lives in Colorado and remembers having school cancelled for snow like two times because either we were much, much tougher then or I just don’t remember things very well, and told her that she’d now be home for the FOURTH CONSECUTIVE DAY with her own kids after it snowed just 2 inches (which is rounding up generously), well, I think she’d be baffled. But grateful. Because who doesn’t love a snow day?

Grown-up Lauren, that’s who. No more snow days. I just came out to write this after having locked myself in the bathroom this morning for a good peaceful time out. I made a nice cup of tea and grabbed a book and locked the door. It was great for about 15 minutes until there was yelling and barking and people trying to pull down the “broken” door. (Note to self: I should lock it more often so they are less confused.) It reminded me of yesterday, when I was caught doing downward dog in the closet, trying to find some inner peace and quiet.

At first we played games and make cookies and watched Netflix. But now we’ve played everything and eaten everything and watched everything and I just want to be alone. ALONE. School, please take them back. And can the dog come, too?

I wish there had at least been a proper amount of powder snow to justify it all. Make snowmen. Sled. Etc. But there is less than two inches. I can see the top of the grass, for crying out loud. OPEN THE SCHOOLS! I will drive everything there. I can probably swing the buses. I will start now for tomorrow morning.

Open everything. Take these children back!! I can’t take it. I need my old job again.

AHHHH.

Sorry about that. I am headed to the closet. Text if you need me, but I don’t get good service in there.

Thanks, Sherlock.

I love you, Sherlock. You are such an awesome, witty, well-acted show and I am so glad your new season is finally out.  I love all the characters: John, Sherlock, Molly, Mary, Ms. Hudson.  Seriously, all great.  And Sherlock’s powers of observation are so great, so awesome to watch, that I convince myself that I, too, and getting smarter by observing. I fancy myself a bit of a detective as well.

For example, who ate all of the biscuits today? James. Who needs a nap? Always Evie. Why don’t I have room to roll over in the bed?  Dog, youngest child, husband, all smooshing me from every side.  What happened to all the popcorn?  I ate it.

I am a big fan. So, I have no idea why I keep falling asleep during the new episodes.  I promise I am excited to watch.  I will catch up, search for clues about why I am so tired, and be ready for next week.

Thanks, boom chicka pop.

You are the most addictively delicious snack food that I can pretend is sorta healthy in the whole world. I love everything about you. I love your big purple bag. I love how you taste sweet and salty. I guess that’s pretty much all. You are just bagged popcorn, after all.

Thanks for making this afternoon delicious.  And for being Evie’s snack so that I didn’t have to make Nutella bread (again). Also, thanks for being on sale at Costco. $2 off. I am going to put that towards something special in your honor. In the mean time, tell James how I only bought one bag of you (instead of 3, like I originally planned. SAVING MONEY!) and make me sounds as awesome as I have you.

 

Thanks, snow.

You are so magical. It makes sense that you come in the winter, when the trees are bare and the world is way less good looking, so that you can cover up all the boring, lifeless gray and make it look picture-perfect.  I don’t know how add lots of white can make everything look vibrant, but it sure does.  You nailed it.

Your arrival today was particularly great, even if you came with way less gusto than originally hoped and predicted. We were supposed to go to dance: cancelled!  I was supposed to go on a long run in 25 degree temperatures: cancelled. We were supposed to run errands and probably do chores and have a regular weekend day: cancelled.  Instead, everyone slept in, stayed in pajamas, watched lots of TV and largely left each other alone, making for a delightful day of free time, vegging, and good food.  Normally that much laziness makes me feel guilty, but there you were, making it seem like the only thing I *could* reasonably do was stay inside by the fire.

Also: I’m Sorry that Evie cried and said that she hated you in the afternoon.  She was overtired and she tells me at least once a day, at some point, that it is the worst day ever.  So don’t take it personally.  Please come back.

We don’t have a shovel yet, though, so give me a few weeks.  Also, the people here in NC seem so far to be terrible snow drivers (sniff of Colorado-born superiority) so stay off the roads.

Thank you, naptime.

I mean, how to even start an appropriately grateful thank you note to you?  I. love. you. I love when you visit my kids.  I love when you visit me. You make the days better: shorter, happier, more full of energy. Sunday–the best when we have you. The longest when we don’t. You should feel proud, knowing what a tangible difference you make in soooo many lives.

For example, right now, Evie is laying down, sleeping on the floor by the fire and the dog and that is how I am even able to write this note.  *Naptime.*  She has naps more afternoons than not and I think it is a big reason I like her so much.  Abigail stopped napping a long time ago and it was why we had to send her to school.  Just sayin, I think people are better with naps, don’t you?  (Of course you do.) After I finish writing this, I am going to go and “read” on the couch. I think you know what I mean… 😉

You’re welcome anytime.  Unless the kids are being crazy on a snowy weekend day, like they’re predicting for tomorrow, and you only hang out with James.  Annoying–please avoid.

Seriously, though.  Mad love.  Forever.

Thanks, socks.

I grew up in Colorado, so I know about cold.  Winter is supposed to be cold.  I used to think I liked cold.  I still miss snow all the time.

But I realized a few years ago that I was more grouchy than I should be in the winter. Seasonal affect disorder, maybe?  I made less good decisions, felt less social, didn’t like to leave the house, had a harder time falling asleep.

I tried several different things until I found my Oprah ‘ah-ha’ moment: warm socks. All that trouble because I had, quite literally, cold feet.  Now, so long as I remember my socks, I can handle most anything.

Most anything … except when kid bedtime extends past 10 p.m., people spell things incorrectly on purpose (especially with “x” or “z”), the New England Patriots, waiting in one-way construction traffic on Green Level West Road in the morning on the way to school, when James makes eggs for breakfast way before I am ready so that by the time I get to the kitchen they are lukewarm and the texture makes me gag but I feel like I should eat them any way, when … I have a torrent of ideas here, actually, and just realized that it might be because I am barefoot.  Off to remedy my attitude with the fuzzy socks I got from Santa.)