Love With Food

My precious, kindred-spirit college friend came for brunch this morning. 

Brunch Punch

By “came for brunch” I obviously mean that she brought brunch.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me:  Wow, what is all of this?

Aliesha: Well, these are homemade blueberry scones.  *Lifts out three more containers.*  And a quiche with red peppers and onions, zucchini muffins, and fresh berries.

Me: Is this bacon?

Aliesha: Yes. And it’s glazed with brown sugar and cayenne pepper.

Me: Is that cranberry and orange juice?

Aliesha: Mmhmm, and pineapple. It just needs…

*pours in a bottle of San Pellegrino.*

Me: This iced coffee is delicious. What’s in it?

Aliesha: Sweetened condensed milk.

I should mention that she is sixteen weeks pregnant and was also (inexplicably) wearing both makeup and clothes that had buttons and matched.

The longer I live, the more I come to understand why, in every culture, from the beginning of time, people demonstrate love with food.  Food for peace offerings. Food for “welcome!” Food for “thank you.” Food for grieving families. Food for new babies. Food for celebrations. Food for getting-to-know-you. Food for community, literal breaking of bread.

Good things happen around the table. This morning, I am so thankful for friends that give love with food. 

The Neti Pot

This is a story about the night I tried a Neti Pot for the first time.  

I have a cold, and I don't play with colds.

Earlier this week I stopped by Walgreens, stuck my arm out rigidly, and  marched down the cold & flu aisle, knocking one of everything into my basket, basically. I arrived at the counter with $37 worth of meds, and a Neti Pot.

Now, I have written before that I am not a Neti Pot user. Because KNOW THYSELF. Neti Pot zealots, save your breath. I understand why Neti Pots work. I believe in Neti Pots. I think that they are a wonderful concept. Great, in theory. Like kale. 

But desperate times call for Neti Pots, or something like that.

I got home, set the Neti Pot on the counter, and opened the instruction manual. The first thing of note was the SHOCKING LACK of direction included. I expected pages of warnings, red-lettered cautions, and medical diagrams of sinus cavities. 

Nada. It says, 

Tilt your head so that your right nostril is directly above your left nostril. Your forehead should be higher than your chin.

THAT'S IT.  Who signed off on this instructional booklet? What senior copywriter sat in a board room and shrugged his shoulders like, "Just tell 'em to pour the water up their noses? What could go wrong?

And apparently you can't use tap water to rinse your sinuses. Something about amoebas in the brain. I did not have distilled water, because I am a commoner, so I had to boil a pot. 

Then I had to cool the water back down to body temperature. There was nothing in the instructions about not pouring boiling water up your nose, BUT I FIGURED IT OUT. 

(If you ask me, the Neti-Pot people could learn a thing or two from the Pop-Tart people, whose boxes include detailed instructions on how to remove a Pop-Tart from its solar-blanket sleeve.) 

So there I stood: leaning over the kitchen sink, head cocked at a 90* angle, wishing I had a level with which to verify that my forehead was in fact higher than my chin. Then I had this moment. There was this moment when I thought, 

"Okay, I'm going to do it now.
No, now.


Okay, 1....2....3....
Wait, I need to collect myself."

It's like the moment after you've spread hot wax on your face and you're gripping the cloth strip, thinking, "Okay, I'm going to tear it off, now...aaaannnyyy minute now."

Because there is a survival mechanism inside of you saying, "DO NOT RIP THAT STRIP FULL OF HOT WAX OFF OF YOUR FACE. IT WILL HURT."

In order to wax your face, you have to momentarily suppress your will to live. The same is true of Neti Pot use. 

There is something inside of you saying, "Do not pour that teapot full of water up your nose. That is a bad idea." 

I stood frozen for a few minutes, 29 years of swimming experience working against me. They were saying "Do the OPPOSITE OF THIS. Whatever happens, do NOT dump 8 oz. of water directly into your sinus cavity."

But as a woman who's done her share of waxing, I am adept at momentarily suppressing my will to live. 

I started breathing through my mouth, lifted the pot, and poured.

I am here to tell you that exactly one eternity passed between the moment the water entered my right nostril and the moment it started flowing out of my left. I was sure that water would soon be leaking out of my eye sockets, and that this was how it all ended for me. Slumped over the kitchen sink, Neti Pot in hand. 

But then it worked! I was pouring water into a hole in my face, and watching it flow out of a different hole in my face, and I thought, 


And that is the moral of this story.  That the human body is a freaking rock star, common colds and all.  

Yes Nights

Friday nights are my favorite, because Friday nights are yes-nights. 

One of my most deeply held parenting philosophies is to say "Yes" to every single thing I can. The number of times I shout "No!!!!" at my kids is in the hundreds of millions. I choose "Yes" so that their young lives aren't one big giant "No." 

Can you wear the cape to church? Yes.
Can you paint? Sure. Just whatever.

Weeknights, for us, are a marathon routine of dinner-bath-bed. There is no margin. During the week, the most loving thing I can do for my children is to make sure that their little bodies get enough sleep..

I love them by making sure they eat enough protein, so they don't get hangry and get disciplined for being poorly nourished.

I pack their lunches, I wash their clothes, I tuck them in. I say "No" a lot. That's how I love my kids during the week.

But Fridays.

Friday nights are YES-NIGHTS.

Can we color, Mommy? Yes.

Can we play Super Mario, Mommy? Yes.

Will you read us another book, Mommy? Yes.

Will you lay with me, Mommy? YES.

On Friday, there is no alarm clock waiting for us on the other end of the night. There are no lunches to pack. Bedtime is kind of ... eehhhhh. 

On weeknights, my love looks like boundaries to my children. It's the same love, but it looks like a bunch of rules. On weekends, my love delights them. 

I'm obsessed with Friday nights. Because on Friday nights, I get to go home and say "Yes."


The Things We Take Off At The Front Door.

My favorite chapter in Tina Fey's BossyPants is the chapter called "What Turning Forty Means to Me."  It says,

“I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn’t used to have to do that. But now I do.”

That's the whole chapter. 

This is great news because I already have to take my pants off as soon as I get home, so forty has nothing on me. I'm invincible to forty. 

But pants aren't the only things we take off at the front door, are they? We are always shucking things off there. I contend that we shed our very skins.  

In the summer we shed things that are wet and grassy: drippy bathing suits, damp towels, sweaty socks, grass stained shorts, shirts sticky with watermelon juice.

In the spring we shed things that are wet and muddy: rain jackets, sloppy boots, gardening gloves.

In the winter we shed things that are wet and snowy. We unzip and step out of our outer shells. We strip off layers of coats, hats, shirts, scarves, leggings, socks, and soggy mittens.  We peel them off like we're husking corn.

We don’t shed anything in the fall because fall is perfect.

When we get home from work we kick off the heels, peel off the pantyhose, unbutton the jeans. We take down our hair, cast aside the briefcase. We unclasp the bra, pull it out of a sleeve and toss it across the room.

And it's at the front door that we take off all of our defenses.  Home is where the masks come off.

We take off the “Everything is great!” mask.
The “I’m an organized parent!” mask. 
The “We’re so happily married!” mask.
We take off the "American-dream, I-can-do-it-all-myself-if-I-just-work-hard-enough" mask.

We peel off our skin, exhale, and become who we are.  Not what we do, or how our kids behave, or how we introduce ourselves at parties – who we ARE.


We always undress when we come home.  Pantyhose and pretense: they both come off at the front door.

I wasn't sure this post had a point. I thought that maybe it was just an observation. But after I thought about it for a minute it came to me. The application is this: please, please, please don't forget to strip. Take off the masks, take off the pretense. Take off the blame pantyhose. Because if, when you walk in your front door, you can't peel off the layers of defense and pretense, you'll never really be home.