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.

The disappointing reality of a sick day

D2 likes school; she has great friends and loves her teacher and the dress-ups and housekeeping and sitting on her spot on the rug during circle time. But she’s also figured out how great it is NOT to go to school.  Enough that she has pretended to be sick a few times in recent weeks–her first feigned illness to avoid the realities of day-to-day life.  Ahh, she’s growing up–so proud.bueller fake sick

I get it, though. Staying home when you’re supposed to be at work or school is amazing. Ferris Bueller got it right: sick days smack of way more possibility than Saturday, somehow. Baseball games and parades and fancy lunch… all squeezed into one day. Everything seems possible.

So when I woke up this morning with a cold, bad enough that I knew I shouldn’t go in to the office, my brain started to buzz a bit with the excitement of a sick day. I’d rest a bit, sure, but then–bueller dying

Well, I could go to yoga. Or another cool gym class I’d never tried before. And it wouldn’t even be crowded like in the evenings. I could go out to lunch. By myself to someplace fancy because I’ve always thought that I should be ok with going out to eat by myself but I have never actually tried it. Or I could make a great new friend and we could go out together.  Probably for Mexican food, because my new friend will obviously love it, too.

Totally I should get a pedicure. Never mind that I don’t really do pedicures and would much rather paint them myself and spend $30 on pizza. Today, I would pamper myself, plus a pedicure probably would help me heal. Oh, or, for pampering, I will finally use that gift certificate to the Elizabeth Arden Red Door spa. I have had it a year and I don’t go because all of the things sound so fancy and I can’t choose and I hate parking in that area.

I could get everything done.  All of the errands and things on the to do list, so that the rest of the week is breezy and relaxing. All of the retail returns, boom.  Plus a bit of “while I am here…” bonus shopping.  I am going to need new work shoes soon and how responsible is that, to plan ahead for being professional, even when you’re under the weather. After that, I will rest, and while laying down, I will finish reading my book (first I will start a book).  Or, if my head still hurts a bit, I can binge watch something on Netflix that MI wouldn’t enjoy.  So many new original series.  Make cookies!  Better yet, make a cake from scratch–like that lemon blueberry one that I made a long time ago and was great but I never repeated. Today I could make that cake, while watching TV and running all of my errands and going to the spa to promote relaxation and healing.

And then, the pressure in my head started to constraint my planning, my dream scheduling. I laid down and must have fallen asleep immediately. I slept for four hours, woke up briefly to give another mom from my neighborhood some baby socks (apparently her kid has big feet. Interesting.) and make a sandwich. Now I am going back to bed. I even forced fluid and voluntarily took medicine.

Real sick days as an adult are the worst. No fun at all…sick 

bueller parade

Why Am I Always Tired?

I often find myself on the verge of falling asleep of late. Like, could-drift-off-at-any-time tired. I accidentally fell asleep while trying to perform child bedtime multiple times this week. I think I was asleep before the girls were; I cannot confirm what happened with them because I was asleep.

It seems notably bad when I am driving to work in the morning. I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this, not only for obvious safety reasons, but also because they seem to really be patrolling that corridor by the Pentagon lately. Plus, MI has heightened sensitivity about the new car’s paint since the time–now more than several days ago–that (probably) me (unknowingly) scraped the front on something (maybe) while he was out-of-town.

  • At first I thought it was my body’s passive aggressive protest against the unnecessary traffic buildup on Rt. 27–caused by selfish people forcing a late merge from the right lane that we all know has to exit.
  • Then I wondered if it was my subconscious’ way of trying to avoid going to work during a dry administrative patch that was, in itself, rather sleep inducing. Shouldn’t one fall asleep in the morning on her own terms?
  • I worried that maybe waking up really early to run a few times a week with my workout buddy was the elephant-culprit in the room (though people who run when it is cold and early and dark and COLD should never have bad things happen to them. That and cheese are the main reasons I do it.)
  • One day I realized that even though I was only just driving in to work to “start the day,” I had–in fact–been awake for four hours. I’d run (see above), dressed three people (D2 can do it herself…), made breakfasts and lunches (cutting the crusts off of at least six pieces of bread), done laundry (which now must be done every day?), washed dishes, and braided D2’s hair like Elsa (often requiring two attempts, since I struggle to get it “long enough,” owing in large part to D2’s short hair). That sounds like a rather full morning and well deserving of a nap.
  • I mostly stopped drinking tea. All winter I found it soothing and warming and peacefully ritualistic. And kind of grownup. And easy hedging in case it really does perform anti-green tea cupinflammatory/weight-loss/brain-cell-development miracles.* So I started drinking green tea. And it was so fun to be warm and grown-up and maybe developing my brain that I started drinking more. And more. Until my doctor suggested that 10 cups a day of green tea might be why I have to go to the bathroom so incredibly often, and I should cut back. I replaced it with dark chocolate, which has similar health benefits without the peeing side effect, but still feel a bit short on caffeine.
  • The morning commute is D2’s turn to pick the music and she likes a relatively small number
    princess_cadence_evil
    Evil Princess Cadence: my alter ego and assigned part in the song.

    of songs. Songs like Let it Go from Frozen and This Day from My Little Pony and Roll Up the Map from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And we listen to them over and over. And they’re all completely awesome songs–she has great taste across the board–so I have to keep singing them really loud. The whole way. It can get *exhausting.*

  • The only time I have to myself or to talk to MI or to get anything done is after the children go to bed, so if I am not falling asleep at 8:15 while “reading,” I am up until midnight. You’re welcome, Instagram friends, for the sacrifices I make to heart the pictures of your kids and restaurant dinners. Plus, online shopping is more interesting after I take out my contacts.

With so many options of what might be making me sleepy, I need an aggressive, methodological approach. So tonight, with the whole evening to myself, I read all of the catalogs I received this week in the mail, looked at RunnersWorld while half-heartedly watching Ellen, checked out some old photos of acquaintances on Facebook, and then binge-watched several episodes of a new show on Netflix. Nothing has come to me yet, but I am going to keep trying to figure it out.

My working hypothesis is that I am always tired because Germany (<–click link for best TV commercial ever).

SONY DSC

Off to bed.  I’ll be back on the case tomorrow.  😉


*Check out an article on the 10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea. It is “proven” that it “may” help. It also “may” start managing all of your bills, scrubbing down the shower, and taking you out to pizza every other weekend. Results vary by individual.