Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Breakfast Challenge

Pop Tarts.

My kids love Pop Tarts.  And, I admit, I have spent many mornings leaning on the Pop Tarts crutch.  But seriously...  Pop Tarts are GROSS.  I buy the added fiber variety because it makes me feel like I am at least feeding my children productive junk.  But the key word here is...  Well, "junk".  There are certainly worse things I could feed them, but still.

I grew up very anti-breakfast.  My grandma was in charge most mornings (mom worked, dad wasn't in the picture) and she'd feed my brother and I whatever we'd accept just to get some food in us.  I grew up thinking that a "soup and sandwich" meal (my brother's favorite AM combination) was a reasonable breakfast.  Personally, I just never felt hungry in the mornings, so I preferred to eat nothing at all...  Which drove grandma crazy!  My grandma loves feeding people.  She's the best.

A wakes up many mornings and her first request is rice.  Now, grandma TRIED to get us to eat "real" breakfast foods, she just wasn't always successful.  Of course, now any time I visit her I am dying for one of her delicious fried egg sandwiches.  You live and learn.  Anyways, I had occasionally eaten white rice with milk and sugar for breakfast, so I figured surely A would accept that.  No.  She just wants rice.

Rice, all by itself...  is not a breakfast food!  I don't care who disagrees!  It isn't.  So, in my frustration at this, we always reverted to the old stand-by.  The Pop Tart.

Goodbye, Pop Tarts.  We're not friends any more.  This week, I have started a new trend in this house.  I had a realization:  The only time you ever see a family enjoying a breakfast of Pop Tarts on TV is on Pop Tarts commercials.  And even Pop Tarts commercials usually feature an unruly teenager rushing off to school and grabbing the the thing as it flies out of the toaster on his way out the door.  Seriously, that just isn't real.  I'm not saying that sitcoms or movies or OTHER commercials are necessarily real, either, but I'm just saying...  Well, that Pop Tarts are gross.  And messy.  And unacceptable!

I have been cooking my children REAL breakfast foods for the past several days, and quite frankly I've really enjoyed it.  I made them green pancakes with bananas, strawberries and sprinkles yesterday and after eating half of her serving (which was pretty huge), A told me she was done.  On the way out the door to take her to Yochien, she asked me for a Pop Tart.  I about cried.

No more Pop Tarts!  I have one foil baggy wrapped pair of pop tarts left in our pantry and I will keep them there till they expire (November 14!) and then I'm tossing them and not looking back.  My kids definitely deserve better than a crumbly couple sheets of cardboard with a thin layer of strawberry jam in the middle.  Gross.  Plus, I kind of don't have a good excuse for such laziness.  It's not like I am doing anything else!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Today, A had taco rice in her lunch box...  With a taste of Halloween.

In the top tier, she's got a little piece of fudge, a snowball (She made them yesterday), a couple of strawberries with boogly icing eyes, some broccoli and some Jack-o-Lantern carrots (decorated with nori)...  The bottom tier has taco rice with Jack-o-Lantern and heart cheddar cheese cut-outs.

Top tier

Taco rice tier

A's really enjoying her bentos.  Most mornings she wakes up and asks me if I am cooking her lunch (Since we only do bento twice a week I'm usually just making breakfast which is a big disappointment for her - like me, she's not the biggest breakfast fan in the world).  Most of the time on bento days I've already put her lunch together and it's already in her backpack by the time she is out of bed, so I just show her the photos on the computer.  This morning she was dying to show the photos to C as soon as she was out of bed.

I'm enjoying making them, too.  Though having the fresh ingredients on hand for bento Tuesday is usually a pain because our commissary is closed on Mondays!  This week, we lucked out pretty well - over the weekend the commissary was closed on Saturday due to a base power outage, so they were open on Monday.

Last night, I baked these AMAZING Creamy Cinnamon Squares...  I found "Gourmet Mom on-the-Go" yesterday morning and was engrossed till nearly noon.  The Cinnamon Squares, though...  They were like a taste of heaven.  I cheated and tasted them before they were completely cooled down since I was heading to bed and man-oh-man, brushing my teeth made me about want to cry - I didn't want to make the taste go away!  Definitely highly recommend that recipe.

Speaking of recipes, for non-Okinawa-familiar people, taco rice is a local favorite!  It was invented here on island to merge the servicemembers' love for Mexican food and the traditional Japanese cuisine.  It's absolutely DELICIOUS and super easy to make.

Taco Rice:

Short or medium grain white rice (I use calrose)
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 packet taco seasoning
Shredded cheese
Assorted taco toppings - shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, hot sauce etc.
  1. Cook the rice according to the directions on the package.
  2. While your rice is simmering, brown your ground meat in a frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat.  Add in taco seasoning and water as directed on the seasoning packet and follow those directions to make taco meat.
  3. Serve layered in bowls with rice on the bottom, topped with meat and cheese and the taco toppings of your choice.
  4. Mix it up and enjoy a delicious taste of Okinawa, anywhere in the world!

Bento Lunch

OH - and regarding the infamous baby cheek, yesterday A apologized for not eating it and said, "Maybe we can try it again."  She's too funny.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cheek Verdict

The chick egg came home largely untouched.  It's nest was gone.  Pear slice was in-tact, as predicted.  Chick was missing it's eyes and beak.

Daddy asked A why she didn't eat her egg and she said, "It broke my heart."

Note to self:  Try not to break A's heart with her lunch.

Baby Cheek in a Nest

A's lunch today was her request.  A couple of days ago, I was perusing Weelicious and came across this recipe, and the photo made me burst out laughing.  She came over to see what was so funny and was in awe.  She immediately asked me to "put that baby cheek" in her lunch box.

This morning, I obliged.  Mine isn't as perfect as the original, but I don't really function all that well at 6AM.  And I made A's "baby cheek" a nest to hang out in, which is actually really delicious - chuka soba, ham ribbons and enoki all pan fried together...  I have the leftovers here and I was pretty surprised at how yummy it turned out.

There's also a pear slice underneath the carrot leaves.  I doubt she'll eat it, but at least I tried.

We made fudge yesterday and I forgot about it last night so she didn't get to have any beyond licking the spoon after I had scraped the pan clean.  I debated putting a chunk in her bento but decided it'll just be a fun after school Friday treat instead.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


My issue is that I never feel adequate.  I want to be a good mother to my kids but I don't know if I'm doing it right.  My mom worked full-time while I was a kid and I spent my days at school and with my grandma.  I definitely do not have her patience.  I can't remember grandma ever yelling at me till I was an unruly teenager.

And then I read blogs.  I am a blog junky.  Places like these:
A Bit Of This and a Bit Of That
Fowl Single File
creative jewish mom
Mothering Corner
Muffin Tin Mom
O'Bento Lunch 4 Kidz
and pretty much every blog that has ever been featured on The Crafty Crow
...Remind me of all the things I am not.

I don't homeschool.  I don't craft daily (or even weekly, really).  I am not hopelessly devoted to my daughter's lunch box.  I seldom allow my children to help me in the kitchen.  We don't frequently take "field trips" to go do fun things - only on the occasional weekend do we go to really great places.  My house is a mess about 75% of the time, and I yell when I'm upset.  All I ever see on those blogs are photos of happy children living magical lives full of arts and crafts and delicious foods.  And I feel guilty because I am obviously not doing enough.  And then I vow that I'll do better - be better - for my kids.  And we have a couple of days where I ponder letting them turn the contents of my recycle bin into something really cool...  and then I opt to just bake cookies instead.  And that's good for a while, but the guilt seeps back in when I don't do something awesome the next day and my kitchen counters are still speckled with the flour from yesterday's cookies.

Clearly, I am failing my children.  A goes to school and loves it, but when she's home she loves movies and playing Godzilla in the toy room (at least, I think that's what she must be doing in there - that's certainly what it looks like she was doing when I go in afterwards and get completely flabbergasted by the disaster zone that it has transformed into...) and snacking.  C is too little for a lot of things, still, but she really enjoys singing.  I enjoy hearing it.  She has music in her little soul.  She also enjoys snacking.  And tagging along with pretty much everything that A does.

Maybe by blogging about this complex of mine, I am making progress towards being a better parent, less focused on what I SHOULD be and do and more focused on what I AM and how I can be there for my kids.

Anyways, surely those other bloggers have their own less-than-perfect moments too, right?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I dabble, really.

Googling through some of the incredible Bento moms, I am always impressed at the skill and care and CUTE that goes into their childrens' lunch boxes.  A attends Yochien - Japanese preschool/kindergarten - and I am required to send her with a packed bento twice a week - Tuesdays are full bento days and on Fridays I am supposed to send her with something to accompany the school-provided bread and milk.

My bentos are not super kawaii or anything, but I definitely am trying (and learning!) and A really enjoys it, too.  It's something fun that I hope to continue even after we've left Japan.  (Which means that much to my husband's dismay, I have already begun stocking up on tools and supplies...)

At the urging of my friend Kristin, I have decided I'll post the photos of A's (and eventually C's, too) bento lunches here - only when cute enough to display though!  Hopefully at some point I'll be blogging here regularly.  (Read:  Hopefully at some point I'll have something interesting enough to blog about here regularly!)

Friday:  Hot dog "kids" with flower carrots and diced peaches

Tuesday:  Octo-dogs, steamed rice, edamame, carrot stars and grapes

Friday:  Leftover pasta, bear shaped ham with nori faces, fruit twist, celery with peanut butter, edamame and strawberry gel.
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