I am on day five of the cabbage soup diet. If you have ever been silly enough to try this borderline eating disorder food plan you will understand when I say STEAK DAY.
The cabbage soup diet goes like this:
Day one - Eat soup and all the fruit you want. No bananas. No sugar. No alcohol. Limit liquids to tea, water or unsweetened fruit juice.
Day two - Soup plus high-fiber, no starch vegetables. Think broccoli, spinach, carrots... no corn, peas or beans. That night you get to treat yourself to a baked potato with butter and it is pretty much the most delicious thing ever.
Day three - Soup plus fruit AND vegetables. Score.
Day four - Soup plus skim milk and up to eight bananas. I mixed the milk and bananas with a couple of ice cubes and some cinnamon and pretended it was a shake. It tasted pretty good.
Day five - STEAK DAY. Up to 20 ounces of beef (or chicken or fish. plain, no skin) plus up to six tomatoes and the soup. Drink lots of water. I marinated flank steak in soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest and a little water and grilled it. It is now the new most delicious thing ever.
Day six - Beef plus soup plus vegetables.
Day seven - Brown rice and soup.
Now, doesn't that sound ridiculous?
A week before we left for vacation last summer I realized that none of my nicer summer things fit properly and I decided that I needed to either buy new clothes (not happening) or lose about five pounds, preferably in my hindquarters. So I asked google if there was a way to lose five pounds in seven days and google suggested that a healthy lifestyle which balances a reasonable diet with moderate exercise is the best way to reach and maintain an appropriate body weight. I told google not to be an ass and it grudgingly brought me to the cabbage soup diet pointing out that it was monstrously unhealthy and the sodium levels in the soup recipe were insane and living on nothing but soup for days was liable to cause otherwise doting mothers to fling their children out into the snow for talking about waffles.
I said uh-huh but does it work?
And google said, well, yeah, I guess but...
So I tried it and by the end of the week I had lost eleven pounds and none of my nicer summer things fit properly because they were sliding off my emaciated frame. I spent the first half of our week in Vermont hoiking up my trousers with my thumbs until regularly administered doses of ice cream and red wine brought me back to normal again. It was an interesting exercise in the luge run of asceticism ending in the snow pile of gluttony. I loved it. I loved it so much that I made a mental note that I am capable of becoming semi-addicted to anything including self-denial and I should probably steer clear of such things in the future.
But after Christmas I was feeling like someone who had spent two weeks consuming vast quantities of alcohol and whipping cream (not together. but not not together either) and I remembered how great I had felt the last time I starved myself (apart from the dreams about french bread) so I decided to try the diet again. Not so much for the weight loss as for the exhilaration I felt when I was sloshing with soup and smug.
(Although now that I think about it Patrick and I are going to Arizona next week - my stepmother has been quite ill and it's been much too long since we've seen them - and maybe a recessed part of my mind was wondering how 5000 snowflake shaped peppermint patties are going to look in capris.)
So that's what I've been doing all week. Eating soup. Oh and I hope it goes without saying that I am in no way endorsing this - because it is bad for you. I'm merely telling you what I initially did to temporarily drop a couple sizes in seven days and what I am now doing because my fondness for Fat Tire beer (of all things) is causing me to inflate like a pool toy.
Thank you for all of your thoughts on the school question. You were extremely helpful, as always.
I had actually presented the problem to Patrick a few weeks ago as we drove to school.
His initial response was, "I am NOT changing schools again."
I sympathized but explained that the situation required that he would most definitely change schools again; the only question was when. And then I detailed the grade gap that he was facing between his current district and our home district and why we were talking about it now rather than just waiting a couple of years.
Patrick listened and then said that he should probably just skip sixth grade.
I said yeeeeeeeaaaaaaah, that's possible? And we might decide that skipping into seventh is the right decision at that time? And we will certainly keep it as an option? But the difference between a single year at that age can be enormous and I was worried that he might be uncomfortable if he were surrounded by bigger kids all day. I pointed out how much Edward and Caroline changed between the ages of one and two and said that sometimes the difference between 10 and 11 or 11 and 12 can feel almost that huge.
Then I pointed out that going to a closer school that was designed like his current one would mean he could sleep a little later in the morning and that he might be able to do after school playdates if he had school friends who lived closer to us.
He said, "So I would have even more friends?"
And I said, "Yes! I guarantee it!"
[What's he going to do? Sue me?]
He said, "I'm in" and then realized that he might have just committed himself so he hastily changed it to, "I mean, I'll think about it." I said we would go take a look at the options later in the winter and it might all be a moot point because the school that was closer to us is highly competitive and lots of kids wanted to take just a few spaces and I wasn't sure he could even get in. His eyes narrowed and he started to casually tell me about some piece of mathematical wizardry he had performed in class recently. I was secretly very pleased with myself. It's not often that Patrick falls into one of my psychological traps.
- speaking of mathematical wizardry (or complete lack thereof) I am baffled. Patrick's class was asked to memorize multiplication and division facts in anticipation of starting more complicated stuff this trimester. We made flashcards. He learned them. I mean, he's a little erratic on anything having to do with 24 (he seems to have an actual dislike of that number "Ah my old enemy 24," he said last night when he said 8 rather than 6) but apart from that and a little finger-wiggling as he brings up the numbers he's pretty solid at home. At home, I repeat, because he keeps bombing the timed review tests at school. I've asked him (nicely) what the hell and he has offered that the class is too distracting, that he just forgets, that he is afraid of success and therefore fails or that the sun was in his eyes. Meanwhile his teacher is sending increasingly larger notes to the effect that he must learn his math facts.
Any thoughts? Like I said I'm baffled. I'm going to ask his teacher at conferences in two weeks but if you have any ideas on the whys and the what nexts of selective memory I'm open. -
As for school next year we'll see. The closer school is having an open house in February and we'll all go see what we think of the place. Someone in the comments mentioned what a shame it is you cannot test drive a school by sitting in classes for a few days and I agreed wholeheartedly. It's hard to get a sense of how things actually function by studying the wall decorations and watching a powerpoint presentation. The charter school meeting we attended spoke at length about how they were able to tailor their curriculum to each child individually and the hoops through which they leapt to make sure that fast learners were given accelerated work while those who needed more help in certain areas were appropriately supported. This all sounded great but when they got to the Q&A the first question was from a parent (not me! I am NOT this parent) who asked, "What do you have in place for gifted children?" (emphasis hers)
The guy said, brightly, well, we meet the needs of every child and gave a couple of examples and then said, "Of course very rarely you get a kid who is so extreme that we have to talk about extra steps. I can only think of five that we've had - like the second grader who could do eighth grade math. I mean, what do you do with that? We tried to approach it like he had a disability." Steve and I looked at each other.
I do understand and even appreciate what the guy meant but it is not the place for Patrick.
Anyway, we'll see. I feel quite fortunate that we're in a good situation right now and only need to change it if we think it will be a better situation for all of us - short term and long term. It's not an awful problem to have.
Edward's teacher called in the middle of this post and said that he was coughing so hard they were worried about him. Poor Edward - everything always goes right to his lungs. I went to get them and it was obvious that his mild cold from this morning has morphed into a bad one.
They had their three year appointment last Friday, which is where I assume they picked up the virus. They both got vaccines (Caroline got the prevnar 13; we discovered that we had skipped two vaccines at Edward's two year appointment so he got those plus the new prevnar) and by dinnertime their eyes glassed over and Caroline just put her head on the table and moaned. The next day she had her highest fever ever and although I am hesitant to attach causality to something that may merely share temporality I have to say that I think her 104 temperature was caused by the vaccine.
They went into my bedroom and got pillows and then made themselves a foot-to-foot bed on the couch. It was pretty cute. Then they demanded television, juice and medicine. That was less cute.
Not much new from the three year appointment. Edward is 50th percentile for height, 50-75th for weight; Caroline is 25th percentile for both. She was in her element - there is nothing she likes better than a meeting convened expressly for the purpose of talking about her. So enough about me... what do YOU think about me?
She shook hands with the doctor when he came into the room and said, "It's nice to meet you again" before offering him his choice of treats: would he like to look in her eyes or see her balance on one foot? Would he care to hear her views on the lack of realism in the Noah's Ark poster on the wall ("Why aren't the tigers eating the sheeps?") She sang a few bars of a song of her own composition, the lyrics of which change every time but it generally includes something to the effect of "If I'm so happy why do I cry and cry and cryyyyyyyyyyy."
He pronounced her healthy, appropriately proportioned and very precocious. He said, "I think you're going to have trouble with this one" in that cheerful singsong of therebutforthegrace.
Which reminds me, I was talking to my mother this afternoon and somehow the subject of elaborate Spring trips for high school seniors came up. My mom said she only let my brother go to Rehobeth and I said, "And me!"
Then there was an awkward silence as I remembered that actually it was my junior year and she had forbidden me to go and I went anyway. By Greyhound. After saying I would be staying the night with a neighboring friend.
My mother clearly was thinking about the same thing because she gave an ominous cackle and said, "I cannot WAIT until Caroline is a teenager."
Neither can Caroline.
We were in Joann fabrics again last weekend so Patrick could buy a few yards of corduroy he had coveted but when he saw the fleece with cars all over it he chose that instead and said he wanted to make pants for Edward. Then he found a ladybug print that he thought Caroline would like and when we got home he went to work.
Two hours later he had two crazyadorable pairs of elastic-waisted wee trousers.
Caroline loves hers.
Edward took a little convincing
But eventually agreed.
He's a nice kid and damn is he able to do things with his hands.
I know I know... wrapping up.
Patrick and I have narrowed our next audiobook choice down to...
1. Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci series
2. The Charlie Bone books
3. The Bartimaeus Trilogy
Which one do you suggest?
For you: The Septimus Heap series is still our favorite and Patrick is reading the books now because we liked it so much on audio. Really smart, fun fantasy. I loved the Graveyard Book SO MUCH as read by Neil Gaiman - talk about an embarrassment of riches; how can someone who writes so well also be such a talented voice actor? And we are enjoying the Artemis Fowl books (narrated by Nathaniel Parker only. we wound up with one by the other guy and couldn't stand it) very very much.