Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fruitless Parenting

Those of you with food-allergic kids understand how hard it is to figure out safe foods, especially when eating out.  Those of you with children period will understand how hard it is to get your child to eat healthy foods at all.

Mini will never, not ever, eat fruit.
Just to make life more interesting, mini is one of those picky eaters.  If she could eat pizza for every meal, she would, except for the meals where there may be a tasty mac and cheese or occasional french fry.  Unfortunately, while we try and find her something to eat when going out, in addition to avoiding anything that may have come into contact with egg, nuts or sesame seeds/oil, her pickiness has created yet another class of foods that must be avoided at all costs:


While mini will eat her broccoli, she can never be coaxed into eating fruit.  This weekend, in fact, yours truly was sent away from the kitchen table as she could not stand being in such close contact with a watermelon.  Poker Chick was forced to wash her hands after her snack before being allowed to continue to rousing game of war they were playing.  Then she was sent back again, this time to use soap.

You're probably thinking this is common, right?  Think again.  By "fruit" we mean anything that resembles fruit, is made from fruit, or contains some ingredient or flavoring that once resembled some sort of fruit at some point in its life.  No luck.  We tried the typical parent trick of hiding fruit in yogurt or muffins or pancakes but all that ensued was a subsequent refusal to ever eat yogurt or muffins, thus making her food repertoire even smaller.  Pancakes, peeps!

After trying pretty much every fruit there is out there, her desperate parents moved on to what we call "Phase 2: the "soft" fruits".  Phase 2 involved pureed fruits such as applesauce, all kinds of fruit juice, dried fruit (raisins) and "fruit" cups.

Phase 3 came soon after.  Phase 3 included things like apple butter, jam, jelly, and "it almost counts" type drinks such as lemonade.  Even the processed pink stuff next to the orange juice.  When that failed, we tried to focus our efforts in the dessert category.  Strawberry ice cream.  Key lime pie.  Ice pops.  Apple pie.  None of it worked.

Out of desperation, we moved on to Phase 4, which counted "fruit" flavored items such as "fruit" leather, lemon lollipops, froot loops, and starburst.  Hell at this point, toothpaste and vitamins counted if they were fruit flavored.

After several years of this, and an outstanding $100 reward to any adult, parent, teacher who could get the child to chew and swallow more than one damned piece of fruit, we succeeded in only the following:

1) Prune juice.  Duh.  What kid doesn't like prune juice?
2) Applesauce.  This one was quite useful, as it allowed her parents to crush and sneak in vitamins daily.
3) Ketchup (tomatoes are a fruit, you know).

Pretty sad, huh?  So after all this it came as a surprise even to Poker chick to learn that there was one category of fruit she hadn't tried.  You've been thinking of it all along, haven't you?

Yes, the ever popular, deep fried and salted fruit.

Sunday, mini went to a restaurant and ate fried plantains.  Unbelievably, she kept on eating them, even after we told her that she was really eating a green banana.

Plantains, as mini ate them
Plantains, as obvious fruit

There's only one logical conclusion after all of this.  We must get thee to a casino, pass go, collect our $100 and put it all on black, pronto.

Oh, mini.  Your mama is so proud.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Allergic Reactions from Blood Transfusions?

Doctors in the Netherlands recently reported that a 6-year-old boy with an allergy to peanuts went into anaphylactic shock after receiving a blood transfusion from donors who had been snacking on them. 

Apparently 3 of 5 donors had had peanuts the night before donating blood.  This is not paranoia, it's legit, and just appeared in the NEJM.

Non-nerdy peeps will prefer the quick, layperson's read, found here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Food Allergy Policies in Schools

Great article about how to manage food allergies in schools.  If you've read anything about the horrible situation in Florida a couple of months back, this is a fantastic example of schools that actually know what they are doing.  Unfortunately, it took the death of a teenager to initiate the advocacy required to get these policies into place.

Wouldn't it be great if we could institute these in our country before tragedy occurs?  Sadly, New York has a long way to go with this issue.


Thanks to Elizabeth for writing this piece.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Help! Holidays Have Overtaken Regular Days!

Did you know there's a big day coming up?  That's right, better start those diets now because National Donut Day is coming up soon - June 3rd.  We know this because the Entenmann's box at the store told us so.  It seems as if there's a day for everything these days, doesn't it?

A few years ago, Poker Chick wrote about International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  Since then, it seems days are popping up everywhere.  Now, since one of our favorite pastimes is food (we like it so much, we eat it every day!), we thought we'd explore the year through food holidays.

Let's talk about fresh meat, shall we?
May is National BBQ Month.  It is also National Hamburger Month.  This has us asking the obvious question: if you broil your burgers instead of grilling them, are you a heathen or something?  If the months overlap are you committed to always cooking your burgers a certain way or else they don't count as the right kind of burgers?

Of course, this makes perfect sense.  Having marketed hot dogs for several years, Poker Chick can tell you that May is also the [un]official kickoff to National Hot Dog Season.  This is not good news for hamburger manufacturers, who lose money to hot dogs.  So when people started breaking out their hot dogs to grill for national barbeque month, they must have all gotten together in some secret meat meeting to conspire against the hot dog makers.  The result?  National Hamburger Month.

One bizarre piece of the puzzle doesn't fit though.  National Hamburger Day is December 21st.  Good luck figuring that one out.

Now to you hot dog lovers, fear not!  You can enjoy as much of the processed mystery meat as you like on National Pigs in a Blanket Day, April 24th.  Apparently people like to spend their tax refunds on hors d'oevres.  Who knew?

There are also other kinds of meat.  If you're a chicken person you can enjoy the bird throughout the month of September, which is National Chicken Month.  You can eat chicken boiled, baked, breaded, stewed, fricasseed, but make sure not to eat it fried.  National Fried Chicken day doesn't take place until July 6th.

Turkeys have their own month, which is of course, you guessed it, Nov......er......June.  Because that makes sense.  Clearly part of the turkey growers' conspiracy to convince people it's not just for Thanksgiving.  For progressive peeps who can't bear to discriminate against the two birds, you'll want to look into National Poultry Day, March 19th, which of course falls right in the middle of National Noodle Month.  After all, having it fall during chicken or turkey months (or any other meat for that matter) would just be really discriminatory.  Ergo the neutral noodle. 

Now, if traif pig is more your style, you have a couple of options in swine consumption.  On March 7th there's National Crown Roast of Pork Day.  Whatever that is.  We'll give peeps the benefit of the doubt and assume it's more complicated than sticking a tiara on a pig while you roast it.  But if that's too much you can enjoy regular good old fashioned suckling pig on National Roast Suckling Pig Day, December 18th. 

Don't cook me! Please!
What we'll be celebrating
In case you can't read in between the lines, we think this National blah-blah day has gotten just a little out of hand.  We've covered half the calendar above and we haven't even gotten out of the meat section!! Think of all the other foods! Now think of diseases, memorials, secular holidays, costumes, teachers, assistants, family members, pirates, and other random nonsense.  (Yes, we intentionally put pirates next to family members).  

Having said that, there are a few days we will be celebrating.  Pay close attention and you'll notice a theme.  First reader to guess the theme wins a shoutout in the next post.

June 3rd: The aforementioned National Donut Day
April 12th (or thereabouts): National Free Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Cone Day
October: National Dessert Month 
(We pretty much celebrate this all year long, just to make sure we're doing it right).
September 12th: National Chocolate Milkshake Day

Finally, we saved the best for last.  Can you believe there's a "National Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day"?  Yep, falls on this chick's birthday.  How 'bout that.

Stay tuned for our announcement of National Useless Holiday Day*.  In the meantime, here's wishing you a happy National Nylon Stockings Day.  Or, as you may call it: Sunday.

*Wait! They already have one of those! Some peeps may know it by its more popular name.  Interested parties can read more here 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Mothers and Tzotchkes

Mother's Day used to be a political minefield around at casa Poker Chick.  After burying our own mother a week before this Hallmark holiday, we didn't particularly want to see the in-laws or any other mother for a while.  Celebrating another mother while our own was gone - the pain and unfairness of it all was more than we could handle.  Back then, "Mother's Day" necessitated a pint of Haagen-Dazs or a bottle of tequila, depending on which friend was on call that day.  This continued pretty much every year until mini came along.

Even then, until she was big enough to jump into her "Mama's" bed after determining she had let her sleep in long enough, throw her arms around her and yell "Happy Mother's Day!" while throwing the mandatory homemade card and probably banging her Mama in the face with some sort of head-butt pose, until then - it just didn't feel like a real Mother's day.

But year after year it got easier.  In preschool they made gifts like bookmarks, mugs, calendars.  All with the children's pictures on them, of course.  In fact, Poker Chick is happy to report that the rumors are true.  Your mother really does think all your crap is beautiful. 

Our community grew even more once she started school, and with it came more mothers to hang out with on a regular basis.  And the more people we know, the more people we bump into while out at the playground, bookstore, Pinkberry.  Walking around with a 6 year-old pulling on your arm while bumping into tons of people you know - all wishing you a happy Mother's Day - well, it's enough to flat out squash the urge to visit the cemetery that plagued us for so many years.

Today we had the pleasure of visiting an overwhelmed, exhausted, new mother who one week into motherhood has just now gone far enough past the initial joy to reach the "what-the-fuck-have-I-gotten-myself-into" phase.  (Yes, peeps, we just said the f-word.  Get over it).  Watching someone become a new mother, knowing what great things they have to look forward to once they get out of the "looks like an alien, poops like a large zoo animal" phase, well it was the best present ever.

So happy Mother's Day to our dear friend and her beautiful, tiny baby girl.  Happy Mother's Day to all our friends who sacrifice so much and haven't so much as peed alone for years.  Happy Mother's Day to Poker mom, who we still miss terribly.  And most of all, happy Mother's Day to mini, who made a horrible day worth celebrating again.

One last note: to her school - what's up with the lack of gift? Seriously, peeps, you're such a nice school.  After years of mugs and t-shirts you mean to tell us it just stops?  You decided to just stop making cheesy tzotchkes for their moms at school? We don't mean to complain but some of us were looking forward to those slobbered on scribble scrabble bookmarks. At least give us adults a little warning next time, will you?  Think of all the dads who were counting on it and spent the day in the doghouse.  Figuratively speaking, of course.  This is, after all, Manhattan.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How Quickly News Spreads

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

You're expecting one of those "where were you" posts, or a lecture about how "we shouldn't celebrate the death of any human being, no matter how vile", aren't you?

We were tempted.  We could go on on some long "where were you when you heard the news bit", but that would be rather boring.  Also, we wanted to spare friends the mental visual of Poker Chick watching the news in bed in her really old, faded, stretched out pajamas.  (Whoops, so much for that one).

If you haven't already heard, one of the side stories of this momentous event was the speed with which it was reported.  In a recent post, we discussed etiquette in social media.  Today, we're awed by the power of social media.

Marketers we work with are all buzzing about the speed with which the news broke.  Over 5,000 tweets a second.  Per second, peeps. "Live-tweeting" from bystanders gave us a detailed recount of what went down.  And social media provided opportunity for instant reactions from our leaders who were apparently up all night on Facebook. 

This was tweeted by a little-known IT consultant at 4:30 EST Sunday. 
He had 16,000 twitter followers the next morning.
A few hours later...

Boy did this guy not realize what he was getting into.  You can read the full twitter conversation here and the full article in Fast Company here.  It's really a fascinating read.  If anything, skim it just to see the Google trends chart on what people were searching for after it was announced.  Trends were set.  Records were broken.  History was made.

Also, it's an easy read.  With lots of pictures.