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Words I Just Finished Reading

The Kitchen House
The Atomic Weight of Love
We're All Damaged
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Wishful Drinking
News of the World
The Forgotten Garden
Out of My Mind
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love
My Not So Perfect Life
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency
The Lost Wife
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Anna and the French Kiss
Little Bee

Julie's favorite books »


Feed Me, Seymour.

Today is the day of the presidential inauguration, so I have an important, timely question. 

Friends, are you like me?  Do you have to feed your children?  Do you find that they are constantly in need of food?  Because of this never-ending drain on your time/money/energy, do you slay breakfast and fail at dinner?  If your husband travels, you may find that, like me, you are utterly depleted by the witching hour.  All the words, and the homeworking, and the talking and listening and telling people to STOP DOING WHAT THEY ARE DOING may have run you down by dinnertime.  And there may have been that one time that you made tomato sauce from scratch and you fed it to the ungrateful masses; they told you they “didn’t like it” and you had a sink full of dishes and no backup and you thought, “That’s it.  I’m feeding them macaroni forever and ever, Amen.” 

But then the Ghost of Christmas Future came to bring you a portentous vision: your children, as adults, eating nothing but macaroni.  Or maybe the Ghost didn’t visit, but you ate In-N-Out on two occasions (okay, three) last week.  You read that article about how the lack of a regular, idyllic family dinner was the gateway to juvenile delinquency.  You were forced to disregard, momentarily, the fact that nearly every family dinner is a not a delightful family tableau, but a hellhole of manners correction (CHEW WITH YOUR MOUTH CLOSED) and semi-interesting conversation (oh, yes, please tell me more about your Minecraft dream because I just find it to be so compelling).

Impetus aside: there was room for improvement on the meal front.  Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step, right?  And Mom Guilt was hovering nearby, eager to point out some of your weaknesses.  She whispered “they don’t eat enough vegetables” and “feeding them should be joyful and meaningful” and “those people you follow on Instagram are killing it and you suck.” 

So, because we’re friends, we will forge ahead together.  I have prepared this handy guide for your afternoon, so that you know how to get started on your new Feed Your Children Insanely Healthy, Pure, Sugar-Free, and Maybe Gluten-Free Love Journey.

1:15pm  The kids are at school and the kingdom is quiet.  Spend some time feeling sentimental about these fleeting years, thinking fondly about your children (it is far easier to think fondly about one’s children when one’s children are in absentia).  Finish reading that article about the importance of nutrition; turns out we’re ingesting poison about five thousand times a day, bless our foolish little hearts.  Polish off your bag of M&Ms.

1:28pm  Make a resolution: you will transform your family’s dinners.  Congratulations!

1:30pm  Troll the internet for your new family-friendly recipes; be sure to find at least three that look promising.  Look for obscure ingredients that will promise extra nutritional value and – bonus! – ensure that your children grow up with sophisticated palettes (you’ll receive extra points if the ingredients are expensive: think saffron).  Print out the recipes so you don’t forget which ones you’ve chosen, because this was more of a time investment than you’d admit.  You don’t have time to go to the store now, but you’ll make these next week (like, totally, for sure).  Feel smug.          

2:53pm  The spawn return from school.  Good feelings diminished by half.   

4:10pm  You may not be able to complete those new recipes tonight, but you can make a grown-up, nutritious side-dish, can’t you?  YES, you can.  High-five yourself for the adult decision you just made. 

4:12pm  Stare into pantry for six minutes, aimlessly moving items around.  Discover half-full bag of quinoa in the back of the pantry.  Feel buoyed: quinoa!

4:18pm  Spend ten minutes looking up cooking tips for quinoa.  You know you’ve made it, but can’t quite recall the specifics.

4:26pm  Settle on a simple recipe with red peppers (the kids like red peppers, so this should be a slam dunk).  You have almost all the ingredients.  Congratulations, again!

4:30pm  Chop, heat, sizzle.  Oops!  You burned the garlic!  It’s fine.  Just wipe it out of the pan and forge ahead.  Real chefs are trailblazers and you, my friend, are obviously a real chef.  When you’re telling someone this story later you’ll say, breezily, “Oh, I decided to leave out the garlic.  Perhaps I’ll toss it in next time.”  This will make you sound very fancy and skilled, so save this part of the anecdote for someone that you want to impress, but in a casual, I-so-don’t-intend-to-humble-brag sort of way.    

4:45pm  Quinoa is in and cooking in the chicken broth.  Child at the counter may say “Um, what is THAT?”  Tell him it’s his healthy side dish and he is going to EAT IT.  Watch him jump down and run into his brother’s room to raise the alarm: “Dude, she’s on one.”

5:00pm  Done!  My goodness!  Who knew you were skilled and efficient?  Serve the side dish with the tater tots and chicken strips (they’re organic and you cooked them in the oven instead of the microwave).  Serve yourself extra of the quinoa because you, my friend, are a genius.  Bon appétit!

5:01pm  Bad news: it tastes like dirt and soap, with a finish of burned garlic.  Pretend like you don’t notice this, because bees and dogs and children can smell fear.

5:02pm  Watch the kids take a bite.  The jig is up.  They know it’s gross. 

5:02:30pm  Tell them to eat three bites. 

5:03pm  Okay, one bite.

5:04pm  Admit defeat after watching them choke down the smallest bites of quinoa in recent history (naked to the human eye, really). 

5:04pm  Put the rest of the barf-worthy dish in a Tupperware and feed it to your husband when he gets home from his work trip.  That’ll be funny.

8:00pm  Tuck in your angel babies, thank God for food to eat and the healthy children who eat it, and remind yourself: you’re really good at making breakfast. 

And you can’t be good at everything. 

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