On Keeping A Relationship Fresh.

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Sometimes you can live with someone your whole life and still not really know them. You might think you have them pegged – especially if they share DNA – and know exactly what decisions they’ll make in each scenario. But then some random recessive gene will pop up and shock your socks off.

Such has been mine and Noah’s relationship of late.

I have logical children. Degreed as an Engineer and an Accountant, Chris and I have a significant amount of organized, calm, orderly genes in our pool. No, we don’t allow belly flops or dunking.

So when I was changing light bulbs and asked Noah to come take the old one out of my hand, it didn’t occur to me to say “CAREFULLY throw this away.” I mean sure he’s a six year old boy but he’s my six year old boy. And even more extreme, he’s Chris’ six year old boy.

So I just said “Take this and throw it away.”

After which I heard the crash and shatter and skittering pieces of glass in the kitchen.

“What happened??”

“You SAID to throw it!!”

“What?!? You know what ‘throw it away’ means – why would you THROW a lightbulb?”

I shooed both the children out of the kitchen and began angry sweeping.

(Thankfully these were old-fashioned bulbs – no immediately-life-ending poison in these babies.)

After carefully sweeping and then linting my floor (y’all keep dryer lint around to pick up tiny glass fragments too, right?), I followed up with Noah, who was feeling the weight of his sins in the living room. I think my angry sweeping was rightfully emanating throughout the house.

“Why did you throw it?”

“Well, actually I didn’t throw it. I slammed it against the counter to break it before I threw it away.”

“Wait. WHAT?!”

I angry-ran back in the kitchen, Noah leading the way then pointing out shiny objects. Sure enough, the counter was also covered in glass shards.

I spent the day marveling at his ability to surprise me. But then I remembered a couple of weeks ago when I did the same to him…

He and Ali were playing Hide and Seek. He ran into my room, quietly shutting the door behind him. Breathlessly, he said “Don’t tell Ali I’m in here.”

I was busy at work on my computer and nodded busily.

Ali finished counting and eventually popped her head in my door.

“Is Noah in here?”

I didn’t look up and answered as if I was giving her 1% of my attention. “Nope.”

“Okay, thanks.”

She ran downstairs.

Noah slowly rose up from the other side of my bed, starry eyed. With a lot of awe and a tiny bit of fear in his voice, he said,

“Well that…..is amazing. You can lie to kids.”

And he’ll never, ever know how good I am at it.

When Children Are Like Salt in a Wound.

Ali lost her fourth tooth in a month on Thursday night.

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Okay, “lost” doesn’t accurately portray the traitorous and forceful separation of tooth and child that had to take place.

Unlike the three previous teeth, this one wasn’t eager to turn loose, and I didn’t exactly achieve stellar parental ranking by a) insisting on removing it from her gums, and b) requiring two takes to actually get it out.

But it needed to be set free – it was DIS-GUSTING. Her gums around it had turned a deathly shade of purple, the tooth was being propelled from her being by an adult tooth underneath and therefore it was sticking half a tooth above the rest, and when she bent the tooth over, the cavernous, half-detached underside mooned whomever happened to be watching.

So I ripped it out of her mouth right before bed, and of course it had to be a bleeder.

(More like a spurter.)

Which did not help her lack of endearment toward me.

But she dried up, quickly scrawled a note to the tooth fairy, and went to bed.

As always, instead of doing the responsible thing, which would include finding the needed fundage and writing my response right after I put her to bed, I didn’t remember until 11:45pm.

I stumbled downstairs, hurriedly typed out a sad excuse for a note, and began looking for five dollars in cash. But keeping cash around is not exactly listed in the strengths column on my résumé.

I did not have a five, nor did I own five ones. I had a twenty, but I wasn’t feeling that guilty about my aforementioned medical-treatment-without-consent.

So I hitched up my conscience and I stole $5 out of Ali’s bank. In order to give it back to her as a farcical creature that she is surely going to be upset about when she finds out that it was all A Lie.

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And I kinda intended to pay her back? But also assumed I’d forget. After all, I’m not good with cash.

I went to bed and slept like a baby. Because bent morals and Mommy-Guilt are feelings I’m used to combatting by now.

The next morning, Ali walked into my bedroom brightly, holding the note and cash. She silently handed me the note to read, then tenderly placed the five dollar bill in my hand.

“Am I allowed to give you my five dollars from the Tooth Fairy?”

“That’s sweet, honey! But don’t you want to put it in your bank?”

“I have lots of money from the Tooth Fairy in my bank. And I know you haven’t felt good this week. So I’d really like for you to have it.”

Children are tiny, often toothless, superior moral creatures.

And I. Am hideous.

(But I did sneak that money back in her bank.)

(So we’re even.)

(Except that she’s a better human than me.)

Pinterest and The Potato Substitute.

Pinterest has all of these freakin’ crazy ideas about food substitutions that will make you look just like the well-toned scantily-clad ab-crunching extremely photoshopped girls that are unfortunately plastered on way too many pins.

“Broccoli so good it tastes like steak!”

“Baked Zucchini sticks that are better than French fries!”

“Whipped Eggplant that you will swear is butter!”

“Tofu Smoothies that will make you think you’re drinking a fruity drink with an umbrella poolside in Aruba while weighing 95 pounds and in a string bikini next to your husband who looks like he just jumped off the GQ magazine! And wait – you two are going for a ride on dolphins immediately after finishing your Tofu Delight, and you still have two weeks of this vacation left and a million dollars of spending money!”

I often find Pinterest to be delusional to the point of needing a straight jacket, if they made one for websites.

But one dish that I will vouch for – with a few caveats – is Mashed Cauliflower.

Mashed Cauliflower: How to avoid the putrid pitfalls and {maybe} get your kids to eat it.

It really is [nearly] as good as mashed potatoes.

HOWEVER.

There are some very important rules that must be adhered to if you truly want this dish to make you smile rather than gag.

Rule Number One. When boiling the cauliflower, it will smell like an eighth grade boy’s gym bag after being trapped in his locker for an entire semester. If you don’t want to have your stomach turned before you even eat it, you must start boiling the cauliflower and think happy thoughts with a rose jammed up your nose. Or drive ten miles away.

The smell is so strong, in fact, that…

Chris was showering during my dinner prep the last time I made this dish. He was toweling off and caught a whiff. “Is my towel mildewed?” … he sat there for a minute and then caught another whiff. “I swear I just got this towel out of the closet! How can it have turned already??” … a few seconds later he caught a third whiff. “Oh I know what is going on! I bet Rachel’s boiling cauliflower downstairs.”

In its native form, the steam rising off of this vegetable could be used as a weapon in The Hunger Games.

Mashed Cauliflower: How to avoid the putrid pitfalls and {maybe} get your kids to eat it.

Rule Number Two. You must beat the smell back within an inch of its life by stripping the vegetable of its nutritional purity through the process of pelting it with butter, sour cream, and generous amounts of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Mashed Cauliflower: How to avoid the putrid pitfalls and {maybe} get your kids to eat it.

Because we all know that even whipped sewer water can taste good if properly buttered.

Rule Number Three. This dish must be eaten piping hot. The longer the mashed cauliflower has to sit, the more of its natural musk molecules defeat the Butter Overlords and take back control. So do not plate this dish until you have your spoon in your hand and blessings are prayed.

Rule Number Four. DO NOT, under any circumstances, allow your children to see that this dish was made with cauliflower or that it is associated in any way with the rotting garbage odors that they smelled a few minutes ago. THIS DISH IS TO BE CALLED MASHED POTATOES, nothing more, nothing less. If they’re not familiar with such, then tell them “It’s like the insides of French Fries!”, and that may be just the key you need.

Rule Number Five. Your children still may cry twice and gag three times upon the tasting of this meal. This is no reflection on your ability to turn a putrid-smelling vegetable into a southern tradition. This is only due to the fact that you’ve allowed your children to eat far too many boxed pancakes, chicken and fries, and Lunchables.

(On second thought, Rule Number Five may only apply to me. I’m sure the rest of you have your children trained to eat Spinach and Beet Soufflé three nights a week.)

(My children, on the other hand, find me unqualified to boil water. My three-year-old told me on Saturday, “Don’t forget to spray the pan when you make cinnamon rolls. Remember that time you almost forgot and I had to tell you? That was SO. FUNNY.”)

(I bet The Pioneer Woman never gets such cheekiness when she makes cinnamon rolls.)

Rule Number Six. The odor returns in a different form about an hour after this dish is consumed. Don’t eat this side if you plan on having the Queen of England over for dessert.

Rule Number Seven. If you have leftovers and plan on reheating this dish, simply unplug your microwave, take it to the farthest point of your driveway, run an extension cord, replug your microwave, and proceed to reheat your Mashed Cauliflower. You’ll lose neighbors over it, but at least you won’t singe the entire family’s nose hairs and foul the carpets.

I’m certain that you’re asking yourself by now, “is this a recipe post?” and the answer is that I’m not sure. But if, after all this, you still want to attempt Mashed Cauliflower (which I find absolutely delicious and just as good as mashed potatoes as long as the above seven steps are executed correctly,) here’s what I do:

1. Cut up one head of Cauliflower into large chunks. Cover in water, douse with large amounts of sea salt, and boil until soft – about 10 minutes.

2. Drain, put into food processor with 4 tbsp of Butter, about 1/3 c. of sour cream, and extreme amounts of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Blend until your kid’s ears bleed from the noise.

3. Keep sealed in the blender until you lop it onto your kid’s plates.

4. And never forget. It’s MASHED POTATOES.

What Pinterest Food Hacks have you found that are actually edible?