Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Reflection on "Normal"

Sometimes I forget that I’m living abroad. I don’t mean that I think I am still living in America, I just mean that it doesn’t feel like there is anything “different” about our lives anymore. So many of the things that were once strange and new have become so natural that I forget that there was a time I had to get used to it. I have grown accustomed to handing my credit card to the cashier with two hands, taking taxis everywhere, knowing that I will have to order in a restaurant using pointing and hand signals; it is all just my life now. It is funny how you adjust.

I was thinking how interesting it will be for our girls growing up with this life as “normal”. Calling grandparents means using the computer and a calculator to calculate the time difference, a break from school is usually equated with needing a passport, and a really special dinner means TGI Fridays. I suppose it is true from every generation to the next, but our girls are going to have a very different childhood than what I had.

Just before we let out for Christmas, I asked my freshmen what they were doing for Christmas. As they each went around saying what they were doing and where they were going, I reflected on how different life is for expats. Everyone going “home” or to a warmer place for a few weeks is expected, someone staying in the country is the exception. One student explained that he was going to Cambodia. He couldn’t remember which city but knew it wasn’t the big city. Another student chimed in, “Phnom Penh?”  The class erupted in insults saying, “Phnom Penh is the big city, duh!”

These kids are freshmen in high school and not only do they know the capital of Cambodia but many of them have been there and can tell you the currency and the exchange rate against the US dollar and the Euro. Crazy. I’m pretty sure I didn’t find out that Cambodia existed until I was at least a junior. I don’t think I could have pointed it out on a map until I moved to Taiwan. But, at the same time, there are so many things that are “normal” to my childhood that are totally foreign to expat kids. Most of them never went to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap, they have never driven around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights, and many of them have never known what a real Christmas tree in your living room smells like.  

No matter where I live, I will always have a strong tie to American culture and traditions. Even though I may experience reverse culture shock every summer as I ogle grocery store aisles, the US will always be my home culture. It will forever be the measure against which I compare everything I experience. So, I often wonder, what will my girls use? What will their measure be? I think being abroad helps them to be adaptable, accepting, and gives them a knowledge of their world; but does it also rob them of a sense of consistency? Is there any way that they can know the capital of Sri Lanka but still have fun building forts with their Stateside cousins?  In short, I guess I really just want what every parent wants anywhere in the world. I don’t want my kids to be weirdos. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Am I doing this right?


So first off, let me apologize profusely for my two month blogging hiatus. I fully intended to write a blog every couple of weeks or, at the very least, once a month. Yet, here I find myself nearly eight weeks from the last post. If there is anyone left reading this blog, I apologize and promise to do better.

One of the excuses that I am going to give you about why I have taken such a long break is that the Simpson clan has been quite under the weather for the last week. Being sick sucks. There, I said it. There is nothing fun about it. Historically, I haven’t been one to get sick too often but when I do, I am reminded of how much I adore my immune system and can’t wait for it to do its thing and get me back to normal. You know what is worse than you being sick? Your kid being sick. When I’m sick, I know what hurts and how much it hurts. I can take a stab at what is wrong and what I need to do about it. A little girl just under two can’t tell you that. And so there is not a lot I can do about it. This is where our story begins.

The great thing about living on campus with all of the teachers and their families is that we get to see each other all the time and our kids have plenty of playmates. Unfortunately, however, this also means that when one kid gets sick, they all get sick. So, our two girls with a cough that sounded woefully similar to their friends’, we took them to the doctor and received the diagnosis we were expecting: bronchitis. Ten days of antibiotics it was. Not surprised, we headed home ready to serve our time on the medicine spoon chain-gang. The hospital had other plans, however.

The giving of the medicine turned out to be a more difficult task than I had anticipated. Lily must have been poisoned in a former life because she did everything in her 10 kg. power she could possibly do to not swallow the medicine we offered. If you have ever tried to get a toddler to do something they don’t want to do, you have some sort of idea how much her tiny little self writhed and squirmed so that the two tiny drops that did actually enter her mouth could easily be spat out. There has to be an easier way, I thought. There is no way I’m doing this right.

Poor Lucy really tried to cooperate with the medicine. For her, it was her stomach that refused it and promptly ejected it so as to not allow any of the antibiotic properties to do their job in her system. So then, what do I do? I’m her mother; I’m supposed to take care of her and make her better. Do I force her to take medicine that will most likely make her throw up and cause her to lose the day’s nutrients along with the medicine? Or, do I stop halfway through an antibiotic to let her keep lunch down for once but cause her (and her bronchitis) to build up an immunity to the antibiotic? Both decisions felt like the wrong one. Sitting in the ER at midnight one night confirmed that there is no way I was doing this right.

Lucy was still throwing up. I wasn’t doing this right. Lily was still coughing. I wasn’t doing this right. That is why having your kid sick is a million times worse than you being sick. More than anything in the world I wanted them to get better but there just isn’t a switch to flip or a button to push. Seeing my distress, other parents comforted me, “Don’t worry, they will get better.” Nonetheless, every time the clock struck “medicine time”, it seemed like the world was going to end.

But, it didn’t. My friends were right. The girls did get better. Though we are still making our way through the post-antibiotic haze, I am able to take a step back and get a little perspective. How blessed am I that the only illness I have had to deal with in their two years is a little bronchitis? And how amazing to live in a place that has antibiotic and IV hydration drips readily at my disposal. I really have very little to complain about. As far as the medicine administering, I still don’t know if I was doing it right or if I made the right decisions. I do know that I love them more than they will understand until they get to know the agony and the ecstasy of motherhood. All I can do is hope that I only give them enough dysfunction to have funny stories at dinner parties. Wish me luck! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Taste of Thailand

This past week, Koreans celebrated Chuseok, a holiday similar to our Thanksgiving. And, because we work in Korea, we got the week off (add another point to the teaching abroad column!). So, as we normally do when we have time off, we loaded everyone up and took off. Some good friends of ours used to live in Thailand so we took advantage of their tour guiding skills and hit the sunny beaches of Phuket. This week was extra special because we got to relish in the most treasured of words in any traveler’s vocabulary, “upgrade”. Our original hotel was undergoing some maintenance so we luxuriated all week long in private villas with our own swimming pool just a few steps from the beach. It’s a rough life. Here are some of the highlights:
 Everyone at the pool


Meeting the baby elephant 


Telling Dada all about the ocean waves 


Going for a walk with Mama 


Feeding the ducks every morning at breakfast 


I love this place! Don't you, sis?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Delight


I have to show you something. I’m sorry if we are facebook friends and so you have already seen it but in my very humble opinion, this video is quite possibly the cutest thing that has ever existed. Ever.

video


To me, it is cute on so many levels. It is cute that Lucy stops what she is doing and makes a b-line for the door all the while doing her best to communicate her joy in her own cute little language. It is cute that Lily becomes so overcome with joy that she just screams over and over. It is cute that they, at this tender young age, already have fashion preferences and favorite shoes. I think that the cute little shoes look great on their cute little feet. I just love this video.

It has occurred to me, however, that quite possibly one of the reasons that I love this video so much and find it so adorable is that the two main players just happen to be my offspring. In the days pre-children, people tried to explain to me how much a mother loves her kids. I used to smile and nod, throwing their comments into the same pile as “Your life is going to change!” and “Get sleep now!” not really knowing how to respond.

And then they came. I’m going to be honest. Those first few post-partum weeks were not necessarily filled with the “my children are my heart flitting about outside of my body” kind of moments I had dreamed about. However, slowly but surely, the little buggers started stealing my heart away. Smiles, giggles, learning new things, every day started getting more and more fun. And now, I can’t get enough of them. Every morning I look forward to seeing them. I miss them every night after I put them down (Okay, okay, so not right after I put them down. Maybe about an hour after…).

 In short, I really delight in my kids. Everything they do fascinates me. Every time they learn a new word, get excited about their shoes, or ask “please dance” when they actually want to hear me sing (that is true love right there), my heart is filled to overflowing. So something dawned on me this morning. Do you realize that that is how much God delights in us? The Bible calls us children of God for a reason. He is absolutely over the moon, crazy about us. How about that? The creator of the universe is as delighted in me as I am in my girls. More so, in fact. Just think about that for a second. Now, if that don’t light your fire, as my grandfather says, your wood is wet.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pressing the Unmute Button


Well, it has only taken me a little over two years but I have finally made the leap to join the land of the unmute. Monday marked the first of what I hope to be many Korean language classes. Being a language teacher myself, it was exciting to once again be on the “other side” of language learning. Our tutor’s goal was to speak only the target language (Korean) in class. Often having the same goal in my own classes, I well understood the purpose of this aim. Sitting at a desk instead of standing at the board, however, gave me a deeper understanding of the mystified and sometimes horrified expressions on my students’ faces as I babble on about the geographic layout of Spain. As we dove in to the lesson, I frantically searched for a pencil as I scribbled down what I thought I heard our tutor say with their supposed English translations.

In no time at all my two fellow classmates and I were practicing pneumonics and dancing around like kindergarten students as we rehearsed various sounds in the Korean language. We traded tips and tricks on how to pronounce things correctly and to make sure not to confuse with , or with.  I was able to ask the first of many burning questions about the Korean language and to properly order my coffee. As it turns out, 커피 (pronounced cuh-pi) is what I want as it means coffee. I do not want 코피(pronounced coh-pi) as that means a nosebleed. No thank you, I would not like a nosebleed with an extra shot of espresso. This little tidbit certainly explains a lot of giggles from local baristas.

And so begins the language learning journey. The steps are baby ones but at least it is progress.  My goal is for people to actually believe that I have been living in Korea for the last three years and not hiding under some bridge somewhere being anti-social. Or, at least to successfully walk away from Starbucks without a nosebleed. I like to set the bar high. So off I go into the wild frontier of a new language. Now all I need is a Korean to ask me my name or to borrow a pencil to put into practice my new fancy linguistic skills. Look out Seoul, here I come!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Redefining Dentistry


Don’t judge me but it may have taken me this long being in Seoul to get myself to the dentist. For whatever reason, finding a new medical care provider is intimidating to me. Especially when it comes to dentists, my anxiety increases each day as I move further and further away from the last time I was scolded for not flossing. A few weeks ago, however, I was able to muster the courage I needed to overcome my anxiety and I made appointments for Chris and me at a dental office that was recommended to us by some hygienically superior friends.  One of the things that I love about Korea is that appointments, be they at the hair salon or the hospital, rarely need to be made more than a day or two in advance. So, the next morning, Chris and I did a double brushing to make up for the past three years (please refer to the opening sentence about judging) and we headed out to the dentist.

On the way there, Chris and I were placing bets on how many cavities we had and just how severe our tongue lashing would be about our hygiene hiatus. We showed up at the office, filled out the necessary paperwork, and awaited the judgment. We were called back almost simultaneously and were led to different rooms. I was fitted with the familiar slobber bib as the dentist introduced himself and told me to lay back and open wide. This was it. The past three years of anxiety culminated in this one moment. I was prepared to face my sentencing. I had barely girded my gums when I heard the dentist announce, “Okay, no cavities.” And like that, he was gone. No poking, no prodding, and frankly, hardly even any looking. I could feel my brows knit with skepticism when I looked at the hygienist, “No cavities?” I have never before wanted to ask a dentist to come back for a second run-through. But, he was gone to check Chris’ teeth with his telepathic cavity searching powers.

But, this check-up was not over. We had also requested a cleaning. So, with her memorized English phrases, the hygienist instructed me, “When want to remove water, raise left hand.” I deduced that “remove water” was a euphemism for spitting and I settled in ready for anything, or so I thought. As I adjusted my head in the headrest, the hygienist put something over my face that felt terrifyingly like an execution mask. Maybe my oral sins were worse than I thought. Maybe there were no cavities but there were root canals to be performed or waterboarding to undergo. With only my mouth peeking out from underneath the mask, she pulled out what I like to call the water pick of doom. With it, she made up for all the poking and prodding that I was expecting from the dentist.  When it finally came time for a break from the water pick of doom to “remove water” I quickly glanced around the room for a mirror to check my gums for tattoos. When there was none to be found, I resigned to coming back to the chair to endure the rest of my punishment.
After it was over, Chris and I met up in the waiting room with a look that said, “Did you just go through what I went through?” We silently agreed to swap stories later and we paid the bill. With the promise to return in six months, we walked out to our car. Still worried that the telepathic dentist could read our thoughts, we waited until we got home to share our experiences. Hopefully his range isn’t this far…

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Oh yeah....


We are back! After another whirlwind summer, we are back in our apartment in Seoul as if we never left… except for a few of those pesky “American pounds” we picked up along the way. Once again we find ourselves in the position of readjusting to our current home. This process has to happen wherever we lay our heads, whether in Seoul, Taipei, Birmingham, or Denver. Each time we unpack our suitcases, we must take a deep breath, look at our surroundings, and remind ourselves what life is like in each of our homes. Happily, we are becoming more accustomed to making this adjustment and so it has turned from a sort of whiplash experience to more of a soft “oh yeah…” as in “oh yeah, THAT’S how they do that here.” reminder in the back of our heads. 

Here are a few of the “oh yeah…” moments I experienced as we transitioned Stateside and then back again:

1) America: The grocery store. Are you sure that every grocery store we go to in America is not remodeled while we are gone to become even bigger than last year? I swear, every time we go back to the States, I stand amazed as I enter a grocery store. They are HUGE! And the aisles are so wide! Not only that, but there are so many things to choose from when you go. I was doing a simple produce run to pick up some apples and I found myself paralyzed by the options. Do you know that this particular grocer was selling seven, seven, different kinds of apples? How are there seven different kinds of apples? And how do I know which one I want? Next to the milk there was an entire section of the refrigerator reserved for specialty coffee creamers. I don’t think even Starbucks has as many options to make your coffee taste like something other than coffee. And, let’s not even talk about the ENTIRE aisle devoted to breakfast cereal. 

2) Korea: Labeling. Somehow, it always seems to catch me off-guard. Perhaps it has to do with the jetlagged haze that clouds my brain for the first few days, or maybe I am just a hopeful amnesiac. Whatever the case, the first time I go to make the frozen chicken bites or mix the powdered lemonade, I check the label expecting it to give me some sort of a clue as to the oven temperature or powder to water ratio. I am sure that the label actually does provide sufficient information to allow consumers to enjoy their product without sending them to the hospital with either salmonella or diabetes. However, ignorant as I still am in the language, I am left to try my hand at trial and error. Wish my family luck that I don’t poison them.

3)America: Garbage. Korea, along with many other Asian countries, is quite specific about their trash. Recycling is obligatory. There is no optional green bin you can request from Waste Management or the hope of earning a few coins from a local aluminum depository. You recycle, period. Not only that, but we organize our recycling. We have paper, cardboard, plastics (which have sub-categories), metal, Styrofoam (yep!), and glass. Additionally, we have compost waste where we put all of our food trash. Anything that doesn’t fall into one of those categories (which isn’t that much) is put in the regular trash. This trash must be thrown out in a specialized city trash bag that must be purchased for a fee that supports our local rubbish services. Having to pay for trash bags encourages people to recycle as much as possible, as recycling is free. The system may sound complicated but we have grown accustomed to it. Coming back to America always throws me for a loop when I remember that everything: food, plastic, glass, goes into the same bin at the same time. And, you can use whatever you want as a trash bag! This practically cuts the cost of throwing out diapers in half. 

4) Korea: coffee shops. Tell me, when do you prefer to enjoy a cup of coffee? Is it with breakfast or with lunch? And what time do you like to have breakfast? Is it before or after you go to work for the day? Call me crazy, but I like to have coffee with breakfast and that usually means around 7:00. When we are up at 5:00 AM with jetlag, even 7:00 seems a little late to be enjoying the first cup of joe. However, the Koreans do not see eye to eye with us on the subject. Most coffee shops (Starbucks included) state clearly on their doors that business hours are 9:30 to 11:00. One blessed little shop opens its doors at 7:00 AM but I literally made one of the employees scream and almost jump out of her skin when she walked past me waiting for my order at 7:10. There is a delicious little waffle and coffee shop that is about a five minute walk from our apartment that we crave many a weekend morning. Our craving is left sadly unfulfilled most Saturdays, however, as it does not open until 11:00 and we usually can’t hold out for breakfast that long. So, cringe as you may at the thought of Waffle House at 6:00 AM, its greasy hashbrowns and stale coffee are nothing but a sweet memory to us as we try to trudge through the wee hours of jetlag.  

So, once again, we must learn the ways of our Korean home and remember the “normals” that we have put in place. It’s great to be home… in this home, that is.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Third Culture


Well, the time has come once again. Textbooks have been returned, chairs have been stacked, and bookshelves have been covered in anticipation of their six weeks of collecting dust. The end of the school year has come and summer is upon us! This time of year has become increasingly bittersweet. Sweet, of course, because we get to head back to the U.S. and see family and friends. Bitter, because the end of the year, especially in the transient environment of international schools, is synonymous with saying goodbye to favorite students and cherished colleagues and friends. And so, sad goodbyes are intermingled with excited conversations of attending weddings, meeting new babies, and of course eating Chick-fil-A. It is a strange emotional dance that we learn more and more about as we spend time overseas.

Frankly, I have been a bit in denial over the end of the school year this year but I’m not really sure why. Don’t get me wrong, I love my summers off just as much as the next teacher and not all of the tears I shed at graduation were sad “I’m going to miss you” tears.  Yet, there is something about doing away with my beloved weekly routine that has me a bit apprehensive. As I pondered this trepidation more deeply, I came to a very strange realization. This year, heading back to America, I am afraid… of the culture shock. Over the past few weeks, I have peppered our families with questions about what things we could find in America that have become so important to our lives here. Can you find dried seaweed? What about good tofu or sticky rice? Will we have to drive to the nearest playground?  Will we have to drive everywhere?

It is strange to have some of the same feelings I had a few years ago about Taiwan and Korea now toward the United States. I have to remind myself that this is my home country and I will figure things out. I will undoubtedly quickly fall back into a routine that includes Target, Publix, and Sonic. The girls will certainly develop new tastes for good watermelon and Cheerios. All four of us will become reacquainted to sitting in the car rather than using a stroller. I will be reminded how awesome it is to have a question in a store and actually be able to ask it and understand the answer. But, the fact remains that my “normal” isn’t what it used to be. I am beginning to settle in more to the “third culture”, not my home culture, not Korean culture, but that strange no-man’s land that lays somewhere in between. 

So, as we prepare to cross the Pacific once again (let’s not discuss that daunting task), I have a favor to ask. If we show up at your house and I have a freak-out about trying to strap in a car seat or the way the rice won’t stick together, be patient with me. I just may be experiencing culture shock. Just throw a Chick-fil-A biscuit my way and hopefully we can hedge off any... unpleasantness.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Eating Crow

I have a lot of opinions. Thanks to this blog and other social media, I have non-confrontational outlets so that I can express my opinions without causing too much of a stir. However, when I air my judgmental thoughts so publicly, I also have to admit to you when I find myself in a situation identical to those I so haughtily looked down upon. This past week I had to grin as I ate my words and put myself in a situation worthy of judgment.

Just a few weeks ago, I posted a blog all about how strange it is that Koreans like to stop and take pictures of my children. I scoffed at them and deemed them odd for this phenomenon. Mind you, this blog was a year in the making. It was not a one-time event that had me scratching my head but 15 months of our BOGOs’ lives where I passed judgment on our hosts for documenting the lives of children they had never met. I remarked in wonder why they would want those shots and how I wasn’t sure how one would present those photos to family and friends. And then, in a not-so-bizarre turn of events, I became guilty of the same peculiar attraction to strangers’ children.

Last week, the high school took a week break before finals to celebrate their annual “Discovery Week”. This is a week where student groups are sent to every corner of the globe to “discover” their world. Trips range from seeing theater in London, to scuba diving in Malaysia, to building schools in the Philippines. I was lucky enough to help lead a trip to Nepal that had us trekking through mountain villages (actually, they were just the “foothill villages” as anything below 15,000 feet  in the Himalayas doesn’t count as a mountain). Chris did awesome as he sponsored a local basketball camp and played Mr. Mom with the girls at home all week. 

Nepal was amazing. The landscape was breath-taking and the people were unbelievably hospitable. And, guess what? The Nepali children are cute. Really cute. Makes me want to take random photos of other people’s children cute. So, here I am trekking along when up comes a small child in tattered clothes and big, dark eyes. The first thing I wanted to do was whip out my camera and take a picture. But, the irony of this whole situation was not lost on me. I had just spent a year lamenting to anyone who would listen about the strangeness of other people photographing my kids and here I am wanting to do the same thing. At first, I tried to resist. I won’t be that tourist who comes back with stacks of pictures of random children whom I will never see again. My resolve didn’t last long, however. Barely 48 hours in Nepal and I was snapping away. You may be happy to hear that I did always ask permission first. I always appreciate when people ask.

So, I have come to you to ask forgiveness in my judgment of the Korean people. They aren’t strange. Or maybe, it is just that I am as strange as they are. I wondered how one would present pictures of foreign children to their friends and family and so, here I go. 

Do you want to see pictures of cute Nepali children? Yes? Okay, here are a few…







Monday, April 30, 2012

Making Others' Memories


I know, I’ll be the first to admit it. I have cute kids. Even when I try to look through the unbiased lens of someone who did not carry them around in her womb for nine months, I continually come to the conclusion that they are pretty stinking adorable. Exhibit A:


 

 A certain smile, a giggle, a new trick, or cuddles with her sister and I am over the moon once again, lost in their unbelievable adorability.  So, I am not surprised when other people stop to take a gander at our little beauties. I mean, come on, there are two of them, right? 

Here is what I don’t get. Why do swarms of people line up to take their picture or, better yet, have their own photo taken while holding the foreign baby? Wherever we go, iPhones come out and pictures are taken of the girls. If we are at a public park or other location where we are stationary for some period of time, crowds gather and queues form as if they were red carpet-bound starlets.   
Unless we are in a hurry to get somewhere or they make my baby cry, I honestly don’t mind it too much. (I do worry that our girls will grow up with pathologically inflated egos and severe narcissism but I suppose we can cross that bridge when we come to it.) I just don’t understand the desire to photograph other people’s children. I often see cute ankle-biters around wearing little tutus or overalls and I let out a contented sigh and an adoring smile. But I don’t stop to take their picture. I mean, how does that conversation happen?

Hey, honey, how was your day?
Oh not bad, but guess what I saw during my lunch break?
What, dear?
A foreign baby!
No, I don’t believe it!
Why yes! Here is the photographic evidence!
Wow, that baby sure is foreign!

Or maybe it goes a little something like this:
Hey, do you want to see my pictures from my vacation to beautiful South Korea?
Sure!
Okay, here we are at the palace, and here we are with the cherry blossoms. Here we are at Seoul tower. And HERE we are with foreign babies!
Oh wow, you saw foreign babies? Incredible! Now I want to go to Seoul!

I’m really not sure. I genuinely would like to hear how those photos are explained. To be honest, my goal when taking pictures is to have as few strangers in them as possible. We stand at certain angles, aim the camera in a certain direction and all of a sudden we transform a crowded park into a secluded family scene. That’s what I’m after but apparently we don’t see eye to eye on the subject. Maybe when we are in the States this summer and I come upon a cute Korean baby, I’ll have you take my picture holding him/her. Then I’ll show the picture to my family and friends and figure out just how to have that conversation. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

From Generation to Generation

Some things that you need to know about our family: Chris loves sports. I mean, really loves sports. Quite possibly the number one thing he misses about being in America is ESPN. When I was pregnant, the idea that our girls might pick up on my tragically un-athletic gene was a horror that was left unspoken for nine months. Happily, Lily and Lucy were able to put their old man’s mind at ease at their doljabi celebration where they each confirmed their propensity for sports by choosing soccer and basketball respectively. Coming from a family whose giftings are… elsewhere, shall we say, I sometimes chuckle about the high priority that sports hold in our daughters’ futures.

After a more thorough examination, however, I have to count myself guilty of a similar desire. It is entirely possible that I love food as much as Chris loves sports. I quite literally plan our vacations around countries known for their cuisine. We went to Vietnam a few years ago with the lone goal of drinking the coffee and eating the soup. And it was awesome. So in the same way that Chris wants our dear daughters to share in his love of athletics, I want them to love being in the kitchen and tantalizing their taste buds.

I shared earlier that this year was the one where I came into my own in the kitchen. I relearned my way around and started joyfully filling our bellies once again. Recently, I came to the conclusion that satisfying my and Chris’ culinary wanderlust wasn’t enough. I wanted my daughters to learn to appreciate new flavors and to eventually enjoy eating like I do. (Selfishly, I really just want someone to get as excited as I do when the local grocery store starts carrying nutmeg and then start scouring the internet for as many recipes as I can find that call for it.)

So, since the girls’ tiny palates are still in my hands, I decided to try some new recipes. A good friend of mine offered a toddler cookbook and I was off. Hummus, roasted red peppers, falafel, corn fritters, sautéed tofu, you name it and I was going to try it. I was amazed at how willing the girls were to try my new concoctions. Some recipes I put on the table fully expecting them to turn their noses up at (or projectile spit across the room). But, these little troopers have put their mouths to the task and have given most recipes a big BOGO thumbs up (or a “more” sign gesture, same thing pretty much).

So, for anyone who is interested, this is what we have discovered concerning the girls’ preferences so far:

Hummus: love it

Falafel: can’t get it in the mouth fast enough

Roasted red pepper pasta with tofu: hands down their favorite meal

Strawberries: won’t touch them

Olives: Lily, not so much; Lucy, loves them

Raw red pepper: Lily, definitely; Lucy, no

Kiwi: absolutely not

Sautéed tofu: usually the protein of choice

Salted seaweed (aka “kim” in Korean): by far their favorite snack

And so, there you have it. I never would have guessed that a small child would prefer seaweed to strawberries but I stand corrected. Wish us luck as we try to pass down our passions to our children and I wish you luck in the same endeavor. Here’s hoping our girls order something other than chicken fingers at restaurants and can actually learn to do a lay-up.