Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mom's Diner, Open 24-7

We're 11 days into summer vacation and the kids are eating us out of house and home. This month's food budget was gone by the 14th, so I figure we'll be running on fumes and cereal dust in about 3 days. No worries.

Now remember, I'm a Slacker Mom. I had 2 children in school full-time (eating hot breakfast and lunch at school) and 2 children in school part-time (eating hot lunch at school). Any good Slacker Mom knows that translates into 30 extra meals per week eaten at home in the summer. Lots more food consumption; lots more dishes & clean-up; lots more order-taking.

Summer lunch at our house is sandwiched between (hey! I made a restaurant pun!) swimming lessons and basketball camp and/or softball practice and/or summer school enrichment class and/or outdoor yard/painting/cleaning projects. So to keep my Slacker Mom status, I resort to leftovers and simple sandwiches at Mom's Diner. Here's a typical conversation overheard at Mom's Diner:

ME. "Welcome to Mom's Diner. May I take your order, please?"
SHAE. "I'll have a peanut butter samwich and milk please!!"
PAIGE. "Mo-om! (sing-songy whiny voice of twin chickens) I want Mi-illllllk!"
ME (going to pantry to retrieve peanut butter). "Ally? How about egg salad?"
ALLY (nodding). "Okay."
CY. "I want a bologna sandwich, Mom."
SHAE. "Mo-om!! Where's my milk???"
ME (grabbing milk , egg salad, and bologna out of fridge). "It's coming. I only have two hands. "
SHAE. "I don't want the chunky peanut butter!!"
ME. "It's the only kind we have left, Shae. Just pick the peanuts out of it."
ALLY. "How come you don't like chunky peanut butter, but you'll eat peanuts?"
ME. "Yeah! You love peanuts!"
WYNNE. "Pop! Pop!" (translation = popcorn, which in this case means peanuts because she can see the jar of peanuts in the pantry)
SHAE (shifting to high gear whine mode). "I don't LIKE PEANUTS IN MY PEANUT BUTTER SAMWICH!!"
ME. "Alright, alright, I'll scrape out just the peanut butter for you. (as I frantically spread peanut butter sans peanuts on a slice of bread) See???"
PAIGE. "MI-ILK PLEASE!!'" (fourth gear whine mode)
ME. "Ally, can you pour her some milk, please? You don't have to cry about it!" (Slacker Mom Bad Move #136: whining back at children, pointing out their faults.)
WYNNE. "Mom! Mom! Gunk!" (milk or juice, depending on what she sees in fridge)
ME (grabbing sippy cup and apples out of fridge). "Here you go, Woots." (taking apple corer/slicer out of drawer) "Anybody want apple slices? They're so good for you!" (Slacker Mom Bad Move #137: asking child for their preference; giving choices; not just telling)
PAIGE. "WYNNIE!!! Get out of my seat!!!" (Crying now as Wynne climbs up to share her stool. Note: Mom's Diner has 5 regular customers but only 4 stools. Youngest child prefers swivel stool to boring high chair--who wouldn't?)
ME. "Paige, just let her share with you, please honey?"
PAIGE. "Noooo!!" (pushes toddler off of stool, said toddler bumps her head and cries")
CY. "You stupid-" (hitting Paige in defense of baby sister, because eye-for-an-eye is the most logical choice of a 7-year-old boy)
PAIGE. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!" (2 children crying now)
MOM. "Cy!! You don't have to HIT her!" (Slacker Mom Bad Move #138: not issuing time-out or other punishment to son at this time--can't shift out of sandwich-making-mode into discipline mode. Walks around counter to pick up Wynne and hug/kiss Paige.) "I'm sorry." (to Paige:) "It would really be helpful if you would just share with Wynne today, or bring a chair over like Shae did yesterday. What do you want for lunch, sweetie?"
PAIGE (simmering down now-hey! another cooking pun!). "But I don't want to!"
MOM (bringing over another chair). "Ally, can you move to a chair please? You're the biggest anyway."
ALLY (glumly conceding). "Alright....(to Paige): You big baby!"
PAIGE (winding up to 5th gear again). "Mo---om!! She called me a BABY!!!!"
MOM (to Ally): "Ally, don't even look at her. Paige, you need to shut up or take a nap because you're whining ALL of the time! Now what do you want for lunch??" (Slacker Mom Bad Moves #139 and #140: saying "shut up" and confusing 2 issues- lunch and nap)
PAIGE (back down to 2nd gear). "I want a buttered bread."
MOM. "Honey, you know we don't just eat buttered bread for lunch. It's not that good for you. You need to eat a meat or peanut butter or egg to get muscles." (Slacker Mom Bad Move #141: explaining too much to a 5-year-old)
PAIGE (shifting to 4th gear). "I want BUTTERED BREAD!!"
MOM. "How about a slice of ham or bologna on that?" (Slacker Mom Good Move #1: ham is more nutritious than bologna.....right?)
PAIGE (back down to 3rd). "I want ham but I don't want it cold! And it has to be cut up!"
MOM. "What do you say?"
PAIGE (high grumble): "PLEASE!!"
MOM. "That's better. I'm not your slave here. Mommy has a lot of things to do and it would be nice if you guys could say 'please' and 'thank you' and not be so demanding." (Slacker Mom Bad Move #142: rambling. As if hungry children care.)
SHAE. "Thank you for the milk and peanut butter, Mom!"
CY. "Thanks Mom! Can I have another bologna, Mom?"
MOM. "Already??"
ALLY. "Mom? Can I have an egg salad sandwich, please?"
MOM. "Oh, I'm sorry honey! I didn't get you that yet, did I?........(sprayed by water)....Wynnie!! Get off of the counter!!!!!"

You know what? Maybe the diner/whatever's-in-the-fridge meal is not that easy, after all.

Except that the alternative is actually making something that they will all eat. Which is what I attempt to do for supper every evening, and why put myself through 2 root canals in one day? Because you see, my children are individuals with individual tastes. Slacker Moms have to know their Algebra. The Commutative Property of Food Tastes means that:

Child 1 likes most foods because she is older and has acquired the taste. (plus she was here for 2 years without sibling distractions and her parents weren't worn out yet)

Child 2 likes cereal with milk (3-4 bowls a day, any time of the day), pizza but NOT spaghetti, a few fruits, and no green vegetables.

Child 3 likes cereal without milk (milk on the side), anything bread/pasta group (mainly crackers), BUTTER (which in our case is low-transfat margarine), NO KETCHUP, cheese, pizza, most meats except for hamburger (dang it!), chicken, yogurt. Maybe an apple slice. (and this is IT!)

Child 4 likes cereal without milk (milk on the side), peanuts, peanut butter hold the peanuts, anything bread/pasta group, ( NO BUTTER, NO KETCHUP, sometimes apples, bacon, spaghetti but NOT pizza, cheese grilled!, and yogurt. (again, this is IT!)

Child 5 likes cereal, noodles, mac and cheese, any meat (thank God), eggs, carrots, dip, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, ranch, any condiment in the world basically, yogurt, cheese, carrots, but that's about it for fruits and vegetables. (notice I didn't list any fruits...what is up with that???) But note = Child 5 is two. So I'm hoping this improves.

Speaking of all this food, I have to show off our pantry:

Isn't it AWESOME? You have pantry envy now, don't you!
But this pantry is a double-edged sword.
I love love LOVE it for keeping things organized and out of the kitchen cabinets....but I hate hate HATE how the kids just open the door and walk into their all-access-all-food channel. (Note the empty cereal containers on the lower left shelf...everything but the healthy Special K is practically gone. I can't keep em out of the cereal.)
I know what you're thinking--just tell them "NO!" or Don't buy them sweetened cereal. In my lame defense, I buy only the "healthy" versions of sweetened cereal, the honey-nut oat cheerios (generic versions in large bags for large families of course) and frosted mini-wheats and sweetened wheat puffs (hey it's better than Choco Monsters or Cookie Crisp!). As far as the "no" thing, I can say it till I'm blue in the face (which I do). But what can you do when you're outside or in another part of the house working?
This is why I want to put a LOCK on the pantry door.
I am not kidding. (My husband thinks that is mean. Please give me your thoughts! Internet Poll Time!!)

See, I know the deal here. The Distributive Property of Open Pantry looks like this:
Constant pantry grazing (no potato chips, just pretzels, cereal, and crackers) = Bad appetites for meal time = Headaches for Slacker Mom.

So throw me a bone here. (Another food pun! My last one today. I promise.) Please tell me that locking the pantry will reduce the number of picky eaters in my house.

(6th gear whine mode:) PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!!!!


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