Teaching about taste, enjoyment, and pleasure

by Fred MacMurray

How French Kids Learn Such Great Taste

Totebaggers: what do you think?

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165 thoughts on “Teaching about taste, enjoyment, and pleasure

  1. One of the most surprising things that French mothers shared with me in my research was their belief that stimulating children’s appetites for a wide variety of life’s pleasures can actually deter them from becoming addicted to drugs!

    In the HBO show on the Cape Cod Heroin Crisis many of the young people said they got into drugs because they were so bored. Maybe there is something to that French mother’s theory. Perhaps, if people had more stimulation in their lives, it might, at least at the margins, reduce their need for drugs?

  2. OK, they totally had me until this:

    “The French idea of education of taste has much in common with the notion of mindfulness.”

    Yeah, no. Way to take something as hedonistic and joyful as enjoying great food and turn it into a moral stricture to observe/process instead of just feel/experience.

    Otherwise, ITA. We imbue food with such moral qualities, from healthfulness to financial issues to environmental concerns to “how can I get calories in stomachs in the time available.” And yet the pure pleasure of “things that taste good” just doesn’t seem to be part of the equation. Or if it does, it’s as an added bonus once you achieve the other higher-priorities on the list. There’s a reason DH and I frequent our favorite restaurant, despite the expense: the chef can put together flavors and textures in a way I never could, with access to awesome ingredients that I don’t have. It’s pure, unadulterated pleasure, plain and simple.

    This is also a large part of why the more Atkins-type diets tend to be the only ones that work for me longer-term: because they allow me to eat more of the foods that I really enjoy, which at least offsets to a degree all of the necessary vegetables (plus, by taking so much sugar out of my diet, regular fruit tastes WAY better and becomes a treat in and of itself).

  3. I read that book, “French Kids Eat Everything” a few years ago and I did adopt some of the recommendations (nice meals, one afternoon snack, etc.). I do think the French way of eating is the proper one and my kids (well 2 out of 3) eat pretty well. My oldest has a new friend this year who moved here last year from Paris and she is totally enthralled with the food served at her house. She slept over there last weekend and she was telling me how amazing the green beans were and the crepes for breakfast, etc. I want to eat there!

    I’m on Day 20 of the Whole 30 which has been at times awful (like serving the kids pizza and ice cream while I’m eating my Whole 30 meal) and is now amazing. I wouldn’t eat this way all of the time but it’s been a nice reminder that just eating real food has a great effect on your body and mind.

    Rhett – how was that documentary? I don’t have HBO and so didn’t watch it but do want to. I am just floored at what has happened on the Cape with heroin (but it is a really boring place 9 months out of the year and not sure you could really make it exciting, it just shuts down from Oct. to May).

  4. While their dad “thinks” our children are picky eaters, they are not compared to many of their peers. Our “variety” of foods may not be as broad or as “organic, minimally processed, grass-fed” as some of the most totebaggy families, but exposure to different foods and how you respond when they are put in front of you are very important. Our kids have tried a lot of things, some of which they like and others they never want to put in their mouths again. Once they could physically eat the same food we do, we did not change the way we made food to just make it child friendly.

    Our day care served family meals and had a policy of “no thank you” helpings. This meant you had to try one small spoonful each time it was presented and then could say “no thank you” to that food for the rest of the month. They had them try it monthly and my daughter came home saying it was because you have “taste bugs” in your mouth and you get knew ones every month, so the new “bugs” might like the food the old ones didn’t.

    Most weeks we each 5 dinner meals together, but certain times of the year that is harder than others. Some weekends we eat breakfast and dinner together. Lunch, unless we are all out together, is an “on your own” meal both during the week and on weekends.

  5. There is a strong Puritan/Calvinist component to the way we think about food in this country – asceticism, self-denial, etc. I think that contributes to the labeling of food as “good” and “bad” etc. We try very hard never to use those labels with our kids – but the article is spot-on re: how we talk about foods that are helpful for our bodies’ growth etc. etc., vs. how French parents would talk about it.

  6. I recently read a book called Intuitive Eating in an attempt to develop a healthier relationship with food. It’s been a weird experience, trying to teach myself not to feel guilty for eating, or for eating the “wrong things”, but overall really good. So, I’m all for starting kids off on the right foot!

  7. “There is a strong Puritan/Calvinist component to the way we think about food in this country – asceticism, self-denial, etc”

    And it’s strongest among this very group!

  8. Interesting ideas – I have one kid who will try anything, and another who is almost phobic about some foods, so I thought it was much more of a personal issue than training. Maybe I’ll take another stab at things.

  9. Hmmm. We are adventurous when it comes to eating vegetables (meat not so much) and do try a variety. I made zucchini fritters the other day with a ton of chopped kale in it. I think the Kale made it somewhat bitter and my 3 ye old refused to eat more than a couple. Hope I don’t jinx myself but we have a kid who has been eating a wide range of food, especially veggies and fruits the last year. Also, the kid eats more salmon than I do, so there is that. Good so far! I am also slowly working on increasing the spice level in the food.

  10. In our house the issue we face with multiple generations who have spent parts of their lives in other places, is what style of cooking should be used. Should we make fried shrimp or curried shrimp, brussel sprouts plainly steamed or spicier, the list goes on. Of us all DH is the pickiest, some of that I suspect is due to exposure to nice restaurant meals which are hard to replicate at home.

  11. With my kids, I take the approach of (this is someone else’s idea, I just stole it) – It’s my job to provide you the food options, it’s your job to determine which and how much you want to eat.

    Last night we had salad, pork tenderloin and green beans. I put all 3 on my child’s plate, and he opted to only eat the pork (although he did taste the salad and seemed to like it). NO PROBLEM dude.

  12. At my kid’s school when the youngest was in first grade, the speaker said (as Providence said) Kids decide whether and how much, parents decide what and when. So kid doesn’t want to eat what’s on the plate for dinner, fine, but the next meal is breakfast 10 hours away. We do tend to push the try a bite and then how much after that is your choice.

    Although we do make accommodations after everyone has tried it. I’m the only one who likes brussel sprouts, so I make them just for me. At a certain point, it is no longer about did they try something, but after multiple tries, they just don’t like it. I have to keep pointing out to my partner when he complains about this of his distaste for cooked spinach and brussel sprouts and to give the kids a break!

  13. This is making me feel guilty that I am not baking banana bread for DS, who only knowingly consumes fruit in the form of juice.

    He did eat the chocolate chip cookie pie made out of garbanzo beans :)

  14. Louise: I will be traveling with work colleagues to your city in a few weeks. Any restaurant recommendations?

  15. Austin mom – you described it better than I. And like you, I’m somewhat flexible. My kid also doesn’t like brussels sprouts, so sometimes his side dish is a banana or some cheese.

  16. Thanks Providence – he is very much as you describe yourself, with a concrete plan and no particular interest in the college experience. I really appreciate your input.

  17. I am concerned for all of you in the path of the blizzard (and my NoVA DD) over the next few days. Rhode – are there significant coastal issues expected down your way? The most recent map for my zipcode shows ZERO expected snow, but we will be perfectly content with 0 to 6 in (no disruption to routine for a weekend storm).

  18. @Lark – the nicer restuarnts are: Baku – a Japanese steak house or Zebra in the South Park area, not far from uptown. If you want to remain uptown – there is Bernadin’s, Luce, Halycon. Otherwise there are a bunch or restaurants/bars at the Epicenter you can go to.

  19. We’ll be fine, Meme. Not planning on going anywhere. My older two are signed up for a Saturday enrichment program, but that will be canceled/postponed, I’m sure.

  20. “The French idea of education of taste has much in common with the notion of mindfulness.”

    This did not bother me, I thought it was in line with saying take time to enjoy your food and be in the moment instead of mindless eating in front of the TV

  21. Milo,

    Have you ever used the generator in anger? Or will this possibly me it’s first time out?

  22. I’m embracing the snow this weekend in hopes that it keeps it away next weekend, when I’m trying to navigate a 15 foot Uhaul down my narrow street. :0

  23. I’ve used it a couple times, Rhett. Maybe four hours at the max. However, I hadn’t fully considered this scenario where I might not be able to drive to a gas station. So if the sh1t hits the fan, we might just use it on a cycling basis: warm the house to 80 degrees, cool the fridge, fill the bathtub, flush the toilets, bake something, charge the iPad, then shut it down. Repeat every 8 hours.

  24. Meme – Snow in the Providence area will be about 1-5 inches total; south coast likely 5-8 inches. Given the nature of the storm, the coast will see high winds, but the wind direction leads me to believe we won’t see major storm surge.

    OT – we try to keep family dinner (though that’s hard when you get home right as your kid wants to eat), but even if DS eats before us, we all sit at the table. I like to believe DS will try anything, and right now he seems to like everything we put in his mouth. But I know that will change… I like the idea behind this article – enjoying and savoring food. Time to move away from the Puritans.

  25. Milo, during Sandy some of the neighbors were siphoning gas out of their cars to power their generators.

    No idea how safe that is.

  26. DS has a gym-style class on Saturday, but it sounds like it will be before the major storm hits, so we’ll go. I plan on watching TV, cooking, and just relaxing all weekend. Hopefully the power will stay on… if not, I’ll have to do all my cooking on the stove, not in the crock pot.

    Providence – not sure where in RI you are going, but the auto show is next weekend… might cause some traffic delays near the convention center. Good luck with the U-Haul. For times like that, I dial 1-800-FIL-HELP and prepare to pay with a bottle of scotch and some bananas.

  27. Sky – There are many old ones that look absolutely dreadful. A guy at work who has three boats has told me about 303 Protectant that you spray on the seats to preserve them from sun damage.

    Mine’s the Manitou Aurora 23 RF VP in black. Manitou is the brand. Aurora is the entry-level trim model. RF means two rear-facing benches in the back rather than a wraparound. VP indicates the center pontoon to support a bigger engine and allow semi-planing and sharper turns.

    You can spend well north of $60k in the higher trim levels, adding things like sinks and refrigerators and teak flooring and extra plush seating and LED lighting everywhere. And, of course, a 250 hp engine if you’re so inclined.

  28. The book Bringing up Bebe is about an American author raising her kids in Paris. The French parents she talked to placed a great deal of importance on food – kids sitting to eat multicourse meals, minimal snacking, wide variety of foods, etc. It was an interesting book.

  29. “and right now he seems to like everything we put in his mouth”

    DS used to be like this, now his diet consists of the usual 4 year old stuff: hot dogs, mac & cheese, french fries (sigh)

    there is still some healthy stuff he loves, broccoli for example

  30. “The French idea of education of taste has much in common with the notion of mindfulness.”

    My understanding of mindfulness is to focus fully on what you are doing/enjoying/experiencing, so I agree with winemama that it seems very similar to the French idea.

  31. Wow, Milo, your boat looks inviting. Will it hold a few dozen totebaggers? Seriously, I can see some very good times ahead for you and your family.

  32. @Meme — ditto Milo. We have no plans to go anywhere and plenty of food, video games, movies, etc — even the original Jiffy Pop. And we have a gas stove, so even if the power goes out, we have food and a heat source. My biggest issue is that the freezer is down to hamburgers and hotdogs, and that when I bought the Velveeta and Ro-Tel tomatoes, I forgot I am out of chips. #Firstworldproblems. I’m just glad that neither of us has a job that requires us to venture forth.

    @Milo — looks awesome! Looking forward to the stories come summer.

  33. “Milo – have you named it?”

    Surely *we* should get to name Milo’s boat, since I’m certain we were instrumental in convincing him to give the plan a green light.

    I’ll go: given its large carrying capacity, and with a nod to, well, us: Totes-A-Lot

  34. On the topic, we are probably a little more toward the French end of the scale than the average American parent, but way more toward the American side than the average French parent.

    I used to have to adjust spice/heat downward when kids were young but they’re fine with it now. They’re reasonably adventurous eaters, with the big caveat that allergy boy still has to watch out for his allergies.

  35. We have a German exchange student who arrived here just over a week ago. She started school on Tuesday with a two hour delay. School was cancelled today and will be tomrrow as well. Wednesday was the only full day that she has gone this week. She is loving how we shut down at just the hint of bad weather.
    Rhett-thanks for the link about obstetrical dilemma. Very interesting, and I certainly learned something new. All this time I was giving credit to my sheep for being tougher than we are.
    Concerning the post the other day about speech and dialect. In my neck of the woods, a lot of old timers say chimbley instead of chimney. I had never heard the word pronounced that way before moving here. Do people in other parts of the country say it that way or it is just a western Virginia thing?

  36. And, yeah, ok, I will admit that I am probably overreacting to “mindfulness,” at least as the term is commonly used.

    But, well, no. No. I can’t concede that. Why can’t we just say “sit around the table enjoying awesome food with friends/family”? Why do we have to invent words that imply effort instead of joy, intent instead of experience, thought instead of feeling? I can’t just be eating and being happy and having a good time — I have to be in head, pay attention to the fact that I am eating, be consciously aware that I am happy . . . Gah.

    The words we use to describe things matter. They show what we really think. “Mindfulness” here bugs me because it attempts to insert that same American approach of effort/intent into something that the rest of the world just treats as “fun.” Because, of course, “fun” isn’t good enough for us — it is frivolous, it has no deeper meaning, we won’t *learn* anything. How can we expect to self-improve if we’re just enjoying ourselves, without even thinking about how we’re enjoying ourselves and analyzing what aspect of our experience is bringing us joy?

    Gah.

  37. @Lark – My friends who frequent Louise’s city rave about Cowfish (@South Park Mall), but I have yet to join them on one of these outings.

    @Milo – I might have to start fishing for an invitation to meet the Milo family IRL at the lake this summer!

    I bought myself a snow shovel on my lunch break today and plenty of groceries earlier in the week. I’ll charge up the Kindle & laptop tonight. As long as the power and internet don’t go out, I’m all set. Actually, I probably have enough paper books to last a while too.

  38. LfB – I think the think about a practice of mindfulness is that once you’ve “got” it, you really don’t have to think about it. So, you’re just sitting with your family, enjoying the meal and the conversation. No great effort or intention required. :)

  39. “I’ll go: given its large carrying capacity, and with a nod to, well, us: Totes-A-Lot”

    How about: “The Whole Cookie”

    “Boat name proposal: The College Fund”

    My Dad used to call their kitchen addition, on which they broke ground my freshman year of college, “Little Bancroft.”

  40. @Risley — et tu, brute? ;-) But I believe you beg the question — “once you’ve got it” implies effort to get it!

    I LOVE “The Whole Cookie.”

  41. Milo now should be called a Boatbagger. We did take our family out on a rented pontoon boat on the lake a few summers ago and it was very comfortable. It can also go far faster than I thought.
    Here we are supposed to get freezing rain starting tonight and a little bit of snow tomorrow night. So we expect total shutdown.

  42. “and that when I bought the Velveeta and Ro-Tel tomatoes”

    DW found the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for “7-Can Soup.” It uses those two ingredients above, a can of meat chili, and a bunch of cans of different beans. It’s not half bad. I was still kind of surprised that she was calling for Velveeta cheese (or “cheese”) as that still seemed very 1970s Americana, even by my standards (and I recently made Chicken Divan with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom.) I wasn’t even sure where to find Velveeta at Walmart–was it in the refrigerated section? No! It’s shelf-stable. I don’t think I’d ever used Velveeta before.

  43. This is also a large part of why the more Atkins-type diets tend to be the only ones that work for me longer-term: because they allow me to eat more of the foods that I really enjoy, which at least offsets to a degree all of the necessary vegetables (plus, by taking so much sugar out of my diet, regular fruit tastes WAY better and becomes a treat in and of itself).

    That’s why weight watchers worked for me – it was the first “diet” that allowed me to eat enough junk food to not feel deprived.

  44. Did anyone watch French film Two Days, One Night ?

    the couple went for ice cream, I commented to DH, you can tell they are not in America, the servings were much smaller, which is something the “Why French Women Don’t Get Fat” author suggested was why they are thin, small indulgences

  45. she was telling me how amazing the green beans were

    Now I want to know how the green beans were prepared.

  46. However, I hadn’t fully considered this scenario where I might not be able to drive to a gas station.

    So why not go now and pick up a few extra cans?

  47. “it was very comfortable. It can also go far faster than I thought.”

    They’re the minivans of the boat world, Louise. Function over form, boxy, ungainly, and then people try them out and say “Wow, this is really comfortable and spacious.” And sometimes fast.

  48. Milo – Pioneer Woman loves Ro-Tel and uses it all the time. I have to say (further burnishing the half-cookie reputation) that much of her stuff is too sweet for me.

    HM – BTW I am listening to the Hamilton soundtrack right now and totally bopping along in my office. ;)

  49. “So why not go now and pick up a few extra cans?”

    I’ll get some more tonight. I don’t have a good feel for how quickly it burns through it.

  50. ““Why French Women Don’t Get Fat” author suggested was why they are thin, small indulgences”

    Yesterday I brought my chocolate orange from Christmas to work, the kind that you slam on the desk before eating the wedges. It was supposed to be four servings, but I ended up eating almost the entire thing. I finished the rest today.

    I’m better off if I bring two or three Ghiradelli squares.

  51. Either I’m incredibly healthy (chili from ground elk and canned/frozen ingredients last night, served with cornbread) or I’m just not interested, because food is a threshold variable for me. One shouldn’t subsist on Haagen Dazs, but as long as one maintains a healthy weight and doesn’t eat more than 20% junk food (by which I mean cookies, cupcakes, chips, etc.), isn’t food just fuel that your body turns into glucose for your cells, with urine and feces and as waste products?

    Food is just another threshold variable, where “chili in the crockpot that can be served before we leave for indoor soccer practice” is a means, not an end.

  52. I’m not very good with moderation on some things, Fritos, cookies, etc

    sometimes it is easier for me to avoid the food all together

    for work though, it is helpful to bring in daily what I want to eat, versus bringing a full bag/box of something

  53. “I was still kind of surprised that she was calling for Velveeta cheese (or “cheese”) as that still seemed very 1970s Americana”

    [Turns in Totebag card, hangs head in shame]

  54. HM — do you get help with cooking from your DH and kids? I sometimes like doing elaborate cooking, but I get depressed when I’m alone in the kitchen, and even more depressed when DH just sits down and eats it with no comment. I’d be much more inclined to cook Frenchly if I had help and an appreciative audience.

  55. “The slamming part is fun, but the chocolate is kind of gross.”

    No way! Orange-flavored chocolate is awesome! Ghiradelli has it as one of their square varieties in the wholesale club multi-pack.

  56. [Turns in Totebag card, hangs head in shame]

    No no no. The reason it was sitting in the fridge is that you needed it to pill the cat. She only takes her pill when it’s wrapped in Velveeta. C’mon, honey, what did they teach you at that SLAC you went to? Gotta learn to think on your feet.

  57. Winemama — It’s on Amazon Prime now meaning if you’re a Prime member you can add it to your music library for free.

    L — my kids have been singing “You’ll Be Back” a lot lately.

    RMS — Yes, my husband often does weeknight dinner when I’m doing an extra-curric pickup. He has about half a dozen go-to dishes. And he usually does a cooked breakfast Saturday mornings. The kids occasionally cook dinner with a lot of fuss and mess and can fend for themselves for weekend lunches and snacks and that sort of thing. And everyone is good about thanking the cook, with the notable exception of last week when the younger two had been overdosing on Masterchef Jr and decided it would be fun to play Gordon Ramsey.

    I am more likely to wish I was alone in the kitchen than to be alone in the kitchen. Kids want to come hang out and chat, and often it makes my youngest think of some big cooking project he’d like to do right then, or decide it’s the perfect time to check on how his homemade vinegar is coming along (he makes it from table grapes) right where I’m trying to chop vegetables.

  58. A friend who works for a beverage distributor just posted a pic of his pickup truck in the warehouse, fully loaded with cases of various beers, and the caption, “I’m ready for the snowstorm.”

  59. “I am more likely to wish I was alone in the kitchen than to be alone in the kitchen.“

    Your comment and previous ones made me think about mindfulness, and an example I remember reading about and practicing. “When you’re chopping carrots, chop the carrots—notice the color, shape, and texture.” In practical terms, with kids running around and other distractions, this doesn’t always happen. But it is sometimes nice and pleasurable to be able to simply focus on “chopping the carrots”.

  60. And speaking of weeknight dinners, once again I did not get the tongue in the crockpot so no tacos de lengua tonight. Oh well, it’s in the big freezer so it’s not going bad.

  61. “Gotta learn to think on your feet” — @Rocky, ah, but you forget, I’m in my recliner, not on my feet. Excuses are too much effort anyway. Velveeta and Ro-Tel tomatoes (the kind with the green chiles) in a crockpot is God’s gift to queso (at home, at least). I even bought some chorizo to make the fancy kind for the Superbowl.

    Focus on chopping the carrots? “Notice the color, shape, and texture”?? Are you effing kidding me??? I like a lazy afternoon cooking as much as the next guy, but it’s because it allows my mind to drift off to Planet Zuton — not because, whoa, those are some crisp, bright carrots. That just sounds like I’m high.

    I like to cook alone, no kids, no one else. Ideally with a football game on so I can watch when I want but drift away when I feel like it.

  62. French women don’t get fat because they don’t eat Velveeta with Rotel. Those of who have had it know the trade-off tone worth it. That reminds me that my husband has been asking for this a couple of weekends in a row, and I keep forgetting to buy Velveeta, because it’s not with the cheese.

  63. I clearly can’t type on my phone. You’ll just have to guess at what I was trying to say.

  64. “French women don’t get fat because they don’t eat Velveeta with Rotel.”

    No, it’s the nicotine.

    It might be fun to laugh at, but Velveeta and canned tomatoes aren’t any worse, nutritionally, than Roquefort and pears.

  65. “But I believe you beg the question — “once you’ve got it” implies effort to get it!”

    Yeah, but after THAT, you don’t have to make an effort, and then you can just enjoy your dinner! It’s like becoming a good skier — tons of work up front, but once you’ve mastered it, you just enjoy the nice runs and don’t think much about it.

  66. There’s nothing like chopping some crisp carrots into perfect cubes with a sharply honed knife, and then hearing a kid say: “Mommy, there’s blood all over me! I think it might be coming out of my face!”

    And then hearing another kid say, “I didn’t do it, it was Brother! Mom, it wasn’t me!”

    And then hearing the third kid say “I hiding, I hiding! Mommy, you can’t see me!”

    Someday, I swear I will cook alone in this kitchen.

  67. My planet Zuton involves hoping mobile Baby WCE doesn’t fall off the stairs because her brothers left the bottom gate open or she doesn’t pinch her fingers in a cupboard or… It’s a jolly good thing the canned food companies have good process control because if the tomatoes/beans/tomato sauce were spoiled, I’d probably not notice till it was in the crockpot. I deliberately chose the canned tomatoes with pop-tops this week to minimize my can opening time.

  68. “Focus on chopping the carrots? “Notice the color, shape, and texture”?? Are you effing kidding me??? I like a lazy afternoon cooking as much as the next guy, but it’s because it allows my mind to drift off to Planet Zuton — not because, whoa, those are some crisp, bright carrots. That just sounds like I’m high.”

    Okay LfB, never mind. I don’t think you and mindfulness are likely to be friends. :)

    Milo – re: The Whole Cookie – now, that’s perfect.

    Sky – that 2:25 post of yours is hilarious.

  69. Sky, I have to admit the vinegar obsession is an improvement over that. (Although the rabbit thing is not. Why would you come up behind someone wielding a sharp knife or a hot pan and want to push a fidgety rabbit into her face?)

  70. We have rabbits and sadly, it is an actual thing my kids do. And then get all hurt — “Don’t you want to say hi to her?”

  71. “what did they teach you at that SLAC you went to?”

    I though LfB went to some big flagship.

  72. “isn’t food just fuel that your body turns into glucose for your cells, with urine and feces and as waste products?”

    Even for kids?

  73. I kind of envy the people huddling up for the big storm. Nice excuse to stay in doors, eat, and watch TV. I hope everyone stays warm and safe.

    I enjoy Velveeta, but I’m the only one in my family that likes it, so I don’t use it very frequently.

    Regarding food, I don’t pay too much attention to it. We cook most days. I pack my kids lunches. We eat a mainly vegetarian diet. I hope that’s good enough to counter balance the Oreos, Diet Coke, and Kettle Chips.

  74. Finn, there is a possibly apocryphal story about a guy with a job at a bakery and a pig to feed. Of course, he fattened the pig on the bakery’s leftovers, especially doughnuts.

    When the pig was butchered, the bacon was too sweet to eat, or so the story goes.

    If that turns out to be true, DS would taste remarkably like McNuggets….

  75. “tons of work up front, but once you’ve mastered it, you just enjoy the nice runs and don’t think much about it.”

    And yet, I find myself perfectly — yea, even innately — capable of enjoying a lovely dinner without said “tons of work up front.” It just seems so very American to feel we have to learn to enjoy something.

    “I don’t think you and mindfulness are likely to be friends. :)” True dat.

    @Finn: both.

  76. And, in a fine example of Extreme Weenietude, Baltimore County has already canceled school for tomorrow. I think the current ETA of the first flake is an hour AFTER school gets out. . . .

  77. I think we are pretty mindful about food, at least at dinner time. Not in the experience every bite sense, but in the overall experience of sharing a meal together. We eat in the dining room, light candles, turn on music, use cloth napkins, etc. Children are required to wear shirts, but I never realized I had to enforce wearing pants and so those are hit or miss. Underwear does seem to usually be on. It is truly my favorite time of every day. Until the burping contests start, which they are (now) smart enough to begin after dessert has been doled out.

  78. “And, in a fine example of Extreme Weenietude, Baltimore County has already canceled school for tomorrow.”

    I’m wondering how many days they’ll be out next week, citing “there’s still some ice on residential side streets!”

  79. My kids have always been offered exactly the same foods in exactly the same ways. DS eats broadly — he will eat vegetables, spicy foods, ethnic foods, etc. DD, on the other hand, has been a bland-white-food-only girl for years. I have to think that my kids’ taste buds are just wired differently. They’re both healthy and growing well (knock on wood), so I refuse to stress too much about what they do and don’t eat.

    I’ve mentioned before that I was a really picky eater when I was young — I wasn’t trying to be difficult, or to get attention; it’s just that I couldn’t stand the taste of a lot of foods. When I was in my early to mid 20s, my taste buds went through some sort of huge growth spurt, and I started eating way more foods. I have no idea how or why this happened, but it did. That’s a lot of the reason I don’t worry too much about DD’s pickiness.

    Potential boat name for Milo: Still Middle Class. ;)

  80. ‘And yet, I find myself perfectly — yea, even innately — capable of enjoying a lovely dinner without said “tons of work up front.”’

    You’re naturally mindful, but some of us have to work at it! I do hope you all realize the “chopping the carrots” bit was mainly used as a metaphor . . .

  81. WCE – Baby WCE can join Baby Rhode in falling down stairs… I wish I could blame the missing gate thing on children. I can’t.

    Sky – I love you. You’re perfect. Please don’t change.

    MIlo – please name it “the Whole Cookie”… you can always blame it on your kids (if you are too embarrassed to blame the group of highly educated adults you have a weird online friendship with).

    Risley – never have I ever heard someone compare cooking/eating with skiing. I ski pretty well, i.e. I can make it down the mountain without looking like Goofy. I can’t say the same for cooking. I usually end up looking like Goofy…

  82. Even though DH is a restaurant-quality cook, all of our kids were incredibly picky eaters for years, which was mostly our fault for letting them be picky eaters. I didn’t want to die on that hill, and if they were happy eating PB, cereal, milk, and plain rice/noodles, that was fine with me. It made our life much easier in many ways, with the tiny exception of eating away from home, but we worked around that. We used to joke that, 20 years down the road, they would be telling a therapist “and dad made gourmet food but all we got was peanut butter.” They eat most anything now, so those of you with picky eaters need not despair. They can grow out of it.

    The problem is that once they decided to start eating Dad’s meals, they were spoiled for regular food prepared by regular people. College dining hall food, though light years better than it was back in the mystery meat days, was an enormous shock. No medium rare beef! Dry, tasteless grilled chicken! Pancakes made from a MIX! Faux maple syrup! Too much salt and not enough real butter! (On our rare ventures to Bob Evans, the boys would always ask “And could you bring us some real butter?”) They all lost weight. Not to mention that the only beer or wine at college parties tastes like swill.

    So be careful what you wish for.

  83. “Focus on chopping the carrots? “Notice the color, shape, and texture”?? Are you effing kidding me??? I like a lazy afternoon cooking as much as the next guy, but it’s because it allows my mind to drift off to Planet Zuton — not because, whoa, those are some crisp, bright carrots. That just sounds like I’m high.”

    LOL

  84. Milo – you could name it “My Brother’s House” to honor the quite interesting financing situation.

  85. “I have to think that my kids’ taste buds are just wired differently.”

    Same here. Two kids exposed to pretty much the same foods but with way different preferences. And I would say that extends to many other areas of life.

    “Potential boat name for Milo: Still Middle Class. ;)”

    My FAVORITE choice so far!

  86. “The Whole Cookie”

    I imagine putting this name on the boat would require Milo to explain it many times.

  87. There is a definite genetic component to what kids are willing to eat:

    – DD eats most food I serve and the less exotic Chinese food (chicken feet are good, jellyfish not),

    – DS1 eats only eight different foods after years of effort and OT, and

    – DS2 eats anything, and even tried the canned cat food (he didn’t like it, which was good because boy was the cat furious).

  88. Milo,

    Congratulations on the boat. I like the color scheme.

    “I have to think that my kids’ taste buds are just wired differently.”

    Not to mention that some people are just weird. My oldest doesn’t like crab and never has. My middle one prefers boiled brussels sprouts almost any other vegetable. Fortunately, we are beyond the phase of worrying about them getting enough to eat. At this point, I just make sure that there is something they want to eat. Sometimes just offering to make something else results in a comment of (that’s ok, i don’t dislike (whatever the offending food is) that much.

  89. – DS2 eats anything, and even tried the canned cat food (he didn’t like it, which was good because boy was the cat furious).

    LOL

  90. Potential boat name for Milo: Still Middle Class. ;)

    No, you’d need to put that on this:

  91. ““Potential boat name for Milo: Still Middle Class. ;)””

    Pontoon boats are middle class by definition. They’re for lakes, which are in cheaper areas than bays, sounds, and the ocean.

    Bass Trackers, Bayliners, and a party barge, strung together like a floatin’ trailer park, anchored out, gettin’ loud all summer long. Side by side there’s five [sic] houseboat front porches, Astroturf lawn chairs and Tiki torches, regular Joes rockin’ the boat that’s us!

  92. you could name it “My Brother’s House” to honor the quite interesting financing situation.

  93. “They’re for lakes, which are in cheaper areas than bays, sounds, and the ocean.”

    And it’s like my Mom says – What’s the difference between a swamp and a marsh?

    About $400,000.

  94. “Baltimore County”

    NOW I get it!!! Listening to the reporting on Freddie Graves, many Baltimore locals say “Baltimore City” and I started wondering why not just “Baltimore”. Well, obviously, to differentiate from Baltimore County.

    The locals don’t usually bother with those distinctions where I grew up (e.g. Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, Santa Clara, San Bernardino…there are others). One exception I can think of: Marin City is always called Marin City; when you say just Marin, that means Marin County. And San Francisco doesn’t count because it’s a city and a county all rolled into one.

  95. ” Children are required to wear shirts, but I never realized I had to enforce wearing pants and so those are hit or miss. ”

    HA! DS got into the habit over a very lazy Christmas break of wearing just his underwear all day when in the house. (yes – we are in the Midwest and it is very cold here in December & January – he doesn’t seem to care or feel cold) So, I was having these epic battles with him over getting dressed before dinner because DAMMIT we NEED to be wearing clothing at the dinner table. Finally, he wore me down, and I gave up because as he argued – what does it matter? I decided to embrace the trashiness of the whole scene. After all, I wasn’t getting dressed in work wear every day either.

    On the food issue, we decided early on that we were NOT, no-way, no-how going to make two dinners a night. So we’ve been serving DS the same thing as us since his 1st BD. We eat most dinners together, at the table, no TV/no electronics (but no candles or cloth napkins – wouldn’t fit with the underwear-clad boy!) even if one parent is missing. Like others who took this approach, we eat sometimes eats everything, and he sometimes only eats one thing. It evens out over time, so we try not to stress about it. Sometimes he eats as much as us, sometimes he picks at his food. No big deal – it also evens out over time. His tastes have changed over the years too – at one point he wouldn’t touch the meat & would eat any veggie you put in front of him. He went through a carboholic stage. And he went through a stage where he would eat any meat and almost nothing green. Now, he is pretty amiable to anything but soup/stew. But I’m sure that will change again at some point.

    Loving the boat name suggestions!

    Stay safe DC area Totebaggers.

  96. @Milo: 2 days next week. You want the over or the under?

    Interesting, the maps keep edging slightly in my direction — the most recent CWG map now has my house right on the edge between 16-24″ and 18-30″. But I hear S and W are going to be really bad in spots, so good luck to you, Sheep, SWVA, etc.

  97. “We eat most dinners together, at the table”

    That reminded me that when he was around 4-5, if the smell of what I cooked was strong (particularly with anything with barbecue sauce) my picky eater would pick up his plate and go sit at the dining room instead of the kitchen table with us. Then he’d call to us “if anyone wants to come in here and keep me company, you can – just don’t bring your food!”

  98. Houston, totally agree with you on the weather. Seeing all the headlines, I’m mentally preparing my book and movie list, and my trip to the grocery store for Velveeta

  99. Metro Atlanta is supposed to get a dusting to two inches of snow sometime tomorrow night, so of course everything is shutting down at noon tomorrow.:)

    My kids are hoping for snow, but worried that no one will be able to deliver pizza tomorrow night.

  100. At the grocery store the bread was low and the bananas gone. It was very busy with many folks expecting to be housebound by the ice on Fri & Sat. Kids school hasn’t announced closure.

  101. “Milo: 2 days next week. You want the over or the under?”

    Definitely over. They’ll go back Thursday at the earliest.

    Our neighborhood is still under the developer’s control. We have postal service and school buses, but the roads have not been turned over to the state. The developer is slowly building on his own family land that they’ve owned for a hundred years. To his credit, they keep HOA fees low. OTOH, he’s cheap. We just got an email that he expects his employee to be plowing for four to five days. DAYS!!!. Just one guy, with a 1/2 ton pickup and a plow.

    We’re stranded. It’s only a matter of time now.

  102. Milo, should we rename you Donner??

    And I think you should put the RV on the pontoon! Lol! Total swamp class! And, affordable according to your mom.

    LfB- when asked how much snow we will get, I always answer between 1 inch and 2 feet. My town exists on those lines separating manageable to snow-maggedon. This weekend, we are hovering in the half foot mark. I have an aerobed and couches for anyone who wants to come.

    Ivy- I like your son’s style. Like HM’s.

  103. “should we rename you Donner??”

    :)

    This lady being interviewed on WTOP (on the street, at the grocery store/whatever) said on the radio “Well, you just prepare for this storm like you’d prepare for any natural disaster…or Armageddon.”

    Okay.

  104. Milo, I knew guys in Iowa who funded their boat-hauling trucks by getting blades for them and doing snow removal. I smell opportunity in your development…

  105. Milo and others likely to lose power, if you get a chance, bathe all the kids in the morning unless your hot water heater works without any electricity.

    That’s on my list of lessons learned the hard way: I thought that the oil fired heater would still work.

    We boiled water in a lobster pot on the grill to bathe them after a few days, but that’s even less appealing when you have to clear two feet of snow off it first.

  106. I looked at weather.com and right around Leesburg is supposed to get 39″. Our nanny’s boyfriend is being ‘deployed’ to Delaware in case people there lose power (he works for a generator company).

  107. “Our nanny’s boyfriend is being ‘deployed’ to Delaware in case people there lose power (he works for a generator company).”

    This is not a joke. I can see myself working for an outfit like this as a more-fun second career. I like trucks and generators and equipment and things like that.

    WCE – That’s an idea! My kid’s teacher’s DH, a fed employee, does snow plowing on the side whenever the opportunity arises. We shovel our own driveway, for the exercise, I guess, and it’s infrequent, and we’ve got nothing else to do then, anyway.

  108. After Sandy, the guys like your nanny’s boyfriend were heroes around here. People would go to their “camps” and give them food and other stuff. My friends still talk about crews from Alabama, Tenn etc. that helped them get back online after a week or even ten days.

  109. “My friends still talk about crews from Alabama, Tenn etc. that helped them get back online after a week or even ten days.”

    That would include me — an AL crew got our power up and running after several days with no power. We were on our front stoop watching them work on the transformer using a cherry picker using light from only a flashlight. It was very exciting for several reasons. Going back to our discussion about speech, my NY husband could not understand half of what the crew was saying. :)

  110. Milo – Your idea for that sort of work isn’t crazy, and a lot more fun than (IIRC) an idea you once floated of getting a CPA or enrolled tax agent’s license and doing returns. You’d make a lot more money. See last paragraph.

    We now have full house heat, although it is just the emergency electric backup on the air handler. The new compressor is on its pad and hopefully by tonight we will be fully operational, with installation of the new thermostat, whole house surge protector, further wrapping of duct work and sound proofing for Monday and Tuesday.

    The system is being installed by the owner and his son, who both ordinarily do supervision and office work. He told me that he has ads out for newly minted HVAC techs and electricians, 80K per year, and no takers. They both commented that successful members of skilled trades send their kids to college for (the early 20s son is a college grad with business training as well as his electrician’s license) and then they don’t want to follow in dad’s footsteps. So there is plenty of opportunity for you if you do it early enough to still wrangle heavy equipment. ( Dad, maybe 50, was huffin’ and puffin’ a bit). After an apprenticeship period, I bet you could just work seasonally during the winter and summer peak periods when emergency work peaks.

  111. “We’re stranded. It’s only a matter of time now.”

    Literally? What would happen in a medical emergency?

  112. Interesting, Meme. Thanks. I’m still surprised that they’re giving you a heat pump. I’m certainly no expert, but there used to be a geographic east-west line, maybe through PA, north of which you simply did not use heat pumps. But maybe the technology and efficiency has improved over the years to now bring that line north of Boston.

    “Literally? What would happen in a medical emergency?”

    They gave us a phone number to call and specified that it’s only for true medical emergencies, so he could plow enough of a path for an ambulance to get through.

    Otherwise, there’s a retired dentist in the next cul de sac.

  113. ““Literally? What would happen in a medical emergency?””

    A few years back, over Xmas, the NYC metro area got hit with about a foot of snow. I had to cancel plans with my best friend twice – once the night the storm hit, and once 3 days later because they STILL weren’t plowed out. The main roads were passable, but the condo board couldn’t/wouldn’t get the plow company in a reasonable amount of time. In her case, the EMTs would be huffing and puffing their way from the main road to her front door (about 200 yards). Firefighters? Forget it. They probably couldn’t even find the hydrants.

  114. Best of luck to all in the path of the storm! I hope your heaters stay on. The starter/ignition on ours (gas) failed on Monday and the guy was able to have it replaced within a couple of hours. I know that’s not how it’ll go in the mid-Atlantic this weekend.

    Here in the land of 100″+ of snow/year we are quite envious and the forecast is for nothing from this storm.

  115. “They probably couldn’t even find the hydrants.”

    Reminds me…in those places where 18″+ is likely + blowing and drifting…once the storm passes please dig out a path from the street to and around fire hydrants. Fires happen. You want the firefighters to be able to hook up the hoses without first having to find and then dig out a hydrant.

  116. “EMTs would be huffing and puffing their way from the main road to her front door (about 200 yards). Firefighters? Forget it. They probably couldn’t even find the hydrants.”

    yeah, I think we’re all a bit too urban-minded here. We take for granted this idea that the statistical reliability and availability of emergency services should have no variance, just a flat line approaching 100%.

  117. I feel strangely left out of the storm talk.

    MBT: It’s going to get down to 32 tonight. That’s gotta count for something. Right?

  118. schools closed this morning , even though the snow hadn’t started yet, just starting to snow a little here, office will probably (mostly) close down at lunch time

  119. “yeah, I think we’re all a bit too urban-minded here. We take for granted this idea that the statistical reliability and availability of emergency services should have no variance, just a flat line approaching 100%.”

    Not all of us….WCE and I tend to pipe up every now and again that the sort of reliability the urban types take for granted is just not reality for everyone.

  120. yeah, I was trying to use the non-judgmental, parental “we,” as in like “*We* need to do a better job of picking up our Legos”

  121. My complex was built about 30 years ago with heat pumps with two levels of electric – boost for very cold temps – only needed occasionally to prime the system since the homes are pretty well sealed and backup for actual failure. The units that are installed today are rated to zero degrees, so it is only the rare below zero night that gives us trouble . No gas lines and obviously no oil tanks here. They work fine for the townhouses. Since we have an end unit, our bills are a little bit higher than the interior units. In larger homes the heat pumps, especially with the modern wall units, often have a duel fuel component – oil or gas for supplemental heat. My son has installed all of those and the solar panels go in this spring for a net zero energy home (lots of tax credits, rebates and zero interest loans incentivize the process). My daughter in NoVA has an individual condo heat pump that sits on the roof of the retrofitted building. It does its heavy lifting in the summer, and her NE roots mean that even if it gets creaky in the increasingly cold weather you all get in your area she can manage with sweaters.

  122. ““Literally? What would happen in a medical emergency?””
    When I lived in Fred’s backyard there was a story of a woman in labor being taken to the hospital by an EMT on a snowmobile.

  123. I feel great being left out of the storm discussion. 50 and sunny today.

    Don’t worry, we’ll get ours eventually.

  124. We have wintry mix falling from the sky and are shut down. On Sunday the temperatures will be high enough to melt everything but we usually have a lot of icy spots remaining as the temps drop at night. The kids are out in the wet snow.
    My kids are attached to a fire engine at our local fire station. When there is an emergency they are comforted when Carolinas Engine 100 shows up.

  125. I have a friend who went into labor during the “Snowjam” down here in January of 2014. She was in the car trying to get herself to the hospital and was stuck in traffic, not moving, and labor was progressing so she called 911. The ambulance came and got her but then couldn’t get all of the way to the hospital so she had to walk the last half mile while in labor. I think she was about six inches dilated when they got her all checked in and was just thankful she wasn’t too late for the epidural and wasn’t the woman that did give birth on the highway that day.

    We have an electric heat pump system and we hate it! The house just never gets that warm. We’ve zoned the upstairs so it’s a bit more efficient but have put off doing the downstairs because we’re waiting until we renovate the kitchen/family room. Luckily we like to sleep in the cold and we just wear heavy sweaters the rest of the time.

  126. “We have an electric heat pump system and we hate it! The house just never gets that warm.”

    This is hard to reconcile. You set a temperature on the thermostat, and the system maintains that temperature. But I think the source of the complaints might be that heat pump systems blow air from the registers that is only slightly warmer than ambient, as opposed to a combustion furnace that blows sensibly warm air. This makes people think that it’s weak, or never going to work that well.

    When you’re in bed and the upstairs heat pump kicks on, it can feel like the register is blowing cold air on your face. What I like to do to counter this effect is run the ceiling fans in reverse on low. It pushes back against the draft from the register and dissipates it.

  127. “she was about six inches dilated”

    The metric system really hasn’t caught on in these parts.

  128. Good luck to all of you in the blizzard’s way. We only ever get 2 feet of snow when DH is out of town….

  129. So I have to confess to doing the stereotypical panic this morning — OMG, we’re out of onions! DH id doing Atkins and there’s no deli! DD is going to want to bake and we have almost no butter! Luckily, I was able to go to the local Italian market, which had all the meats I need plus enough basic produce (onions, potatoes, etc.) to get me what I need.

    All of which is weird, because I’ve never done that before and have plenty of actual food, including tons of veggies and salad greens (original plans for next day or two were The Lady’s chicken lemon soup and grilled steak salad). But somehow salad + blizzard just feels wrong, and the fact that I was Out Of Onions felt like a pending tragedy. So now tonight will be chicken barley soup with mushrooms, and tomorrow feels like a chili day, and the world is back on its axis.

    Meanwhile, I guess I need to stop mocking the schools for closing, as the storm is apparently coming earlier than expected, and both our local offices are closing at noon. Thus sucking a major joy out of my life. :-)

  130. ITA on Milo’s explanation of heat pumps. IIRC, there are three main ways to transfer heat, including convection and radiation, and some other thing. Heat pumps rely solely on convection and don’t provide the radiation, which means that you never get the really bone-warming feeling you get snuggling up next to a radiator.

    I just hate forced-air heating, even when it works, and I am still sad DH made us rip out the radiators. I always have a heater next to my chair to make me feel warm.

  131. “transfer heat, including convection and radiation, and some other thing”

    conduction.

    That’s a good point about radiation. I was thinking of that the other morning when it was 9 degrees outside and I was in the bathroom, the house was at a reasonable temperature, and it still just felt cold (pre-dawn). So maybe even if the air is at the correct temperature, when the walls are colder than usual fighting off the outside air, your body might still be losing more heat.

  132. Fred :) Typing while home with two little kids so a little distracted, because why bother going to work when you have to pick up your oldest at 11:00 a.m. (and it’s only raining).

  133. “it was 9 degrees outside and I was in the bathroom, the house was at a reasonable temperature, and it still just felt cold (pre-dawn).”

    Also why I love-love-love our radiant mat in the bathroom — it is in a formerly-enclosed porch off the back of the house and so is exposed on three sides. Now, all the structure has been rebuilt and properly insulated, and there are plenty of vents and airflow to keep the air temp stable. But it’s still way more comfortable when the mat is running in the AM vs. after it shuts off.

  134. I think also some houses/rooms just feel cold unless you really crank up the heat. We have gas forced air heating and the family room will simply never feel warm unless you turn the thermostat up to 78. It’s an 18 foot cathedral ceiling, the ducts for the room run through the foundation to outside walls so the heat that comes out isn’t all that warm. We had insulation pumped in the walls a few years ago when we had new siding put on, and we did an energy audit last year and had most of the draft points sealed up. But it’s on the north side of the house, and it’s just a cold room. So we just leave the thermostat at 68 and run a space heater. Every Hvac tech we’ve ever had in for various reasons has raved about how great our furnace is.

  135. Radiant bath mats, huh? What will they think of next? I just looked on Amazon; the only thing is I would need to plug it in somewhere, and that would mean running the cord up to the outlet by the sink. Sigh. We’ll just have to do without.

  136. My Mom used to keep a radiator space heater in her study when she was working at home, back when they were much more frugal about heating the rest of the house.

  137. LfB – I’ll remember that if we ever redo the master bath, although I don’t see that happening in the next 10 years (it’s builder-grade-fine). So remind me if we’re still here in a decade.

  138. “that would mean running the cord up to the outlet by the sink.”

    No outlet next to the toilet? I’m guessing Mémé has one.

    “I’ll remember that if we ever redo the master bath”

    Don’t forget the outlet next to the toilet for the washlet.

  139. I can’t believe the bathroom designer 7 years ago kept pushing full body sprays (suggestion rejected) and never suggested in floor heating. I didn’t even know that it existed back then. We have no heat source in the room, but there is only a small bit of outside wall with no window (condos don’t let you make exterior changes, and that wall was part of the bedroom originally), but it is triple insulated because there are now pipes in it. The adjacent rooms do a good enough job on the air, and the heated seat on the toilet plus strategically placed no skid rugs mean that our bare skin never touches cool porcelain. Yes, they added an outlet by the toilet. And another one behind a wall panel off the landing for the airbubble tub.

    I like a house at 66 in the winter and 77 in the summer, and tolerate 69/74 because DH wants exactly 72 year round. We will see whether the new system requires any supplementation – most likely we’ll want the fans in place to circulate upstairs air in the summer. The new air handler is a huge upgrade over the 30 year old original (Trane, but antiquated and failing gradually over the years). The new compressor is contemporary technology, but not a super premium unit.

  140. Finn – the toilet is in its own little room. I like that it helps preserve a certain level of romance in a marriage. :)

  141. I grew up in stifling NYC apartments, and i still have to wear sleeveless shirts when I visit my parents in the winter. My current home is the opposite and i HATE it. Forced air, and high ceilings. It is cold.

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