The Greatest Show on Earth

I think this might be record timing to get a post up. Especially these days. Because, yes, we went to the circus this morning and, yes, I am writing a post about it this afternoon. Probably wise not to get used to this sort of turnaround. The boys are sleeping off the excitement, and I, shockingly, have no desire to nap.

Today was one humongous DO-OVER with a heaping side of awesome. Remember last week, how Graham puked in the car on the way to the circus? Well, it turns out that I’d booked our circus event for the first of two weekends the circus was going to be in town. Thanks to Andy’s see-to-it-iveness and his office location in handy-dandy downtown Dallas (never thought I’d say that… also read: very, very close to the event center’s box office), he was able to exchange our tickets for last Saturday to this Sunday. Yes, it required a trip to the PHYSICAL box office to exchange. That’s getting rather unheard of in this day and age.

Anyhoo, we booked these tickets for the morning show and decided to make a day of it.  We started out in the Bishop Arts District at a restaurant called Oddfellows. It’s a Boho-style brunch place with incredible food. I’m seriously not overselling the food. Neither Andy or I could pick off the menu. I had pancetta, egg and mozzarella breakfast tacos with a side of red velvet pancake, and Andy had the brisket hash. Incredible.

Thankfully, they were all ready for Graham too!

Graham had a hard time choosing between “pancakes & fruit” and “eggs & bacon”. He kept asking us for “pancakes & eggs”. He finally settled on pancakes and fruit as his choice for this morning, and thus began a child’s interminable wait between when they decide what they want to eat and when the food is actually placed in front of them.

Andy distracted G by having him fix Andy a cup of coffee.

I swear that kid’s going to be a barista someday.

Eventually (and, mind you, not very much time had passed), the waitress came and took our order. I told her that Graham wanted pancakes and fruit. He heard me give his order, and he cocked his head down to his shoulder, looked way up at the waitress and said, “I looove fruit…” What a ham.

What did he think of his meal?

It was a consensus all the way around the table. Amazing place. Highly recommended. Go early – it fills up quickly!

45 minutes and three full bellies later, we were headed to the circus. Graham totally got it. He was wiggling and squiggling in the backseat the whole way from Oddfellows to where we ultimately parked the car. He said, “Graham goin’ ta circus!” “Elephants!!!!!!” and “I’m SO ‘cited!” Such a great age.

We’d been warned by Brian and Michelle at the high prices of the circus swag. $12 cotton candy, $10 sno-cones, you name it. Thankfully for them Charlie was content to see all the stuff and not have it for his own. Graham… Graham was not content just to see it. I swear we almost had to leave the place with a $30 stuffed elephant. He was infatuated with the elephants. We were able to distract him for the most part, but a kid behind us had this awesome sno-cone, and Graham was not about to go the entire circus with that awesomeness not in his possession.

(Does this remind anyone else of a certain scene in the Temple of Doom? Tell me I’m not the only one.)

Then the show started. Graham couldn’t decide if he wanted to eat his sno-cone, watch the show, sit in his seat, stand or sit in one of our laps. He basically had no idea what to do with himself. It was loud and fantastic and rather overwhelming. Eventually, he got in the swing of things and settled on viewing the show from his seat (for the most part) while we shoved sno-cone into his mouth every so often.

At some point, utter awe overtook him. Once in awhile, he’d reach up to hold my hand or quietly say, “Wow – look Mommy!” Mostly, though, he was in a stupor.

He loved the acrobats running around in giant revolving wheels.

We loved the circus too, truth be told. I think my favorite part was the elephants’ act. Hard to say what it was for Graham. :)

This one was cool too:

Crazy, right? With the giant cross-bow by us, we knew someone was getting shot across the room. But at one point, Andy blurted out “Holy s!#&, they’re going to light him on fire!”

We stayed the whole show and enjoyed every minute. Graham was exhausted by the end, but I hope he had as much fun as we did.

Oh, and we stopped by Andy’s office for a pit stop before hitting the road back to home. Graham was poking through Andy’s office and found a can of compressed air. He had just let us leave the circus without a stuffed elephant, but that kid would NOT back down over leaving Andy’s office without that compressed air.

And so, we have a picture proving just how lame his parents really are.

The end.

Oh, Hi!

Well, then! The Virus Seriousness and Annoyance Factor has dropped significantly. The sun is shining and birds are singing – hallelujah, amen!

You may have been wondering what you’ve been missing from us in the past week. Rest assured – not much. But there are a smattering of things that snuck in before my entire respiratory system went kablooie.

First: The BBQ class.  (Alternate title: Why? What do you do at work?)

The chefs at work decided they were tired of some of us equating KC Masterpiece with ALL BBQ and everything else with WHY DOES THAT BBQ TASTE WEIRD? so they gave a few of us an opportunity to learn and further appreciate American Barbecue and all its regional intricacies.

It’s been awhile since I took that culinary course, but this made me miss it. I don’t miss the long nights, mind you, but there’s a certain, I don’t know… order to a professional kitchen that is thrilling and comforting all at once. And by “order” I mean how the people operate. Blunt, but respectful. Vulgar [sometimes] but congenial. An interesting dichotomy, to be sure.

We learned rubs, mops & sauces. Ribs, brisket, sausage & pulled pork. Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, North & South Carolinas.

After an entire afternoon of preparing and inhaling the most delicious aromas you could possibly imagine, we feasted:

Oh yes, we feasted.

Then, the second thing: Baby got a new set of tools.

Graham had some Easter money to spend, so he went to Toys R Us and picked out a set of tools to rival his daddy’s. And, oh my gosh, this kid is unstoppable. Whenever we ask him if he wants to go play, his face lights up and he said, “TOOLS?!” He’s constantly fixing things around the house, and sometimes puts a screwdriver or pliers in our hands so we can help him.

It’s so freaking cute, you guys.

That’s really the only thing significant going on at our house. Like I said – it isn’t much. Looking forward to healthier (and thus happier) times ahead!!

 

Baby Food

I’ve had baby food on the brain for a little while now, because Graham just started eating his veggies two weeks ago. This is my topic of choice today, because I’ve found myself – on more than one occasion – having to defend my choice to feed Graham *gasp* Gerber baby food. I know, I know… I’m a terrible mother.

No, I’m serious. You may or may not know, but making baby food has become an increasingly popular endeavor. I think it’s awesome. Had I the time, I’d consider it. And – as of now, at least – I fully plan on supplementing jarred baby food with some mashed up or pureed foods that aren’t easily processable (can’t/won’t be found in jars) but are, at the same time, amazingly yummy. Avocado, for instance.

But what surprises the ever-living pants off of me is this perception that I’m doing my son a disservice by feeding him this monster brand of baby food. I’d love to know why, and I have yet to find an individual that can give me a well thought out answer except “ya know” or “preservatives.” Thank GOODNESS I am armed with actual knowledge of the food industry and data that backs up my choice, but what of mothers who don’t have access to such information? These poor saps who actually trust that foods found on the store shelves are safe and will nourish their babies. Woe be to them, because they find themselves shunned and feeling ashamed for being so naive.

And yet… when you check the ingredient statement on a jar of squash, you find two words: ‘squash’ and ‘water.’ I’ll take an aside a second and tell you that the food industry doesn’t have to label “water” in the ingredient statement, because all food contains water. You add it in, you take it out, but it’s always in there. To label it is redundant. So, the company’s already labeling more than it needs to to communicate that they’ve thinned the native food to create the consistency you find in the jar.

As for the rest – baby food contains no salt, sugar, preservatives or other additives. You can’t just add stuff into a food and not label it. Period. “So how is it preserved?” my trainer asked me last week. Easy. Through heat and pressure processing and aseptic packaging. Pretty cut and dry.

Ah, but what of pesticides and organics? This is a tough one, because it’s really tough to prove that if you ingest this particular substance among a varied mixture of other substances, throw in varied environmental factors and pull the ginormous wild card called ‘genetics’ that you absolutely, positively will get cancer, autism or any of the other multitude of diseases and syndromes we’re afraid of. There’s no data to tell you that pesticides will make a difference. There’s no data to tell you that they won’t. I’m gonna stop here and say: I fully respect any person’s decision to make their own choices.

That said, working in the food industry I’ll tell you one absolute truth. Any food that you buy from a huge company is going to be made with ingredients that are infinitely more regulated, controlled and scrutinized than what you’ll buy in the produce section or from a mom and pop label. These companies get their picks first. Then the smaller companies. Then the rest comes to the grocery store.

So, mommas who don’t have time or inclination to make their own baby food and/or worry about which brand to feed: You won’t find anything that’s more sacred in the entire food industry than the foods that babies eat. I know all the “industry secrets.” A lot of people have made a LOT of money capitalizing on the fears of the general public. “Big Bad Food Industry” sure does sell a lot of books and DVDs. I suppose you can take my word with a grain of salt, considering where my paycheck comes from, but if you know me – you know it doesn’t make one hoot of difference. All I know is: I’ve been behind the scenes and have seen where and how it’s made, and I still trust these companies far more than what I could ever do myself.

I Was Kinda Right

The University of Illinois alumni population in R&D is quite small. In a division of about 400 people, I was the fifth to join from the blessed U of I. Every so often, if we see Illinois in the news, we email around to each other to brag on our esteemed university. This one just came across my desk. [Click on pic for full article, but if you don’t want to read, I’ll summarize below.]

 

Seems like the scientists over at the U of I have designed an honest-to-God electronic tongue that can distinguish even the subtlest of differences among different sweetners in a variety of different food applications. They’re actually looking to expand this into the medical community by calibrating it to detect blood glucose levels. Go Illini!

The electronic tongue is not a new idea. The article below references not-so-successful past attempts to develop an electronic tongue. This disconcerting robot is a perfect example.

Cute, isn’t he? Apparently you can stick a food in his mouth and he’ll tell you what it is! I suppose if you got tired of, you know, LOOKING at your food to identify it, you could invest in a robot, which I can only imagine would be upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe it’s a backup plan for when we’re all driven into bomb shelters to seek refuge from nuclear winter and are forced to eat pureed food for the rest of our lives. This guy would come in handy.

Or would he? Apparently, and you’ll get the details if you actually click on the above article, when a reporter stuck his hand in the robot, the robot identified him as bacon. Any researcher will tell you that results are only reliable if you have multiple measurements, so the cameraman stuck his hand in the robot next. His result? Prosciutto.

As much as I want to laugh at the absurdity of this, I have always told Andy that I thought prosciutto tasted like feet.

::shrug::

I was kinda right.

I Won

When I was in Wal-Mart last weekend, Pop-Tarts called out to me. Being without my chaperone [Andy], I grabbed a box of the blueberry flavor. I don’t actually like blueberry all that much, it’s not bad, but Blueberry Pop-Tarts have multi-colored sprinkles on top, and, yes, that makes them better.

Every day now I have to make the grueling choice between Blueberry Pop-Tarts or Raisin Bran for breakfast. Today the battle was hard, but I won. I’ve actually won every morning, but I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out…