Friday, April 29, 2011

much anticipated / much dreaded birthday week

The much-anticipated-slash-much-dreaded birthday week is finally here.  I've been dreading this week for a long time, although Bella, who just turned 11, has been carefully planning this week since we cleaned out the cupboards and starting eating clean 10 months ago.

It was as she was crying over her precious "food" that was being carted away that I consoled her by saying, "On your birthday you can eat whatever you want."  Later, as she realized that her beloved foods couldn't fit into the space of one day, we compromised and agreed upon "birthday week."  For the past year she's been looking forward to one entire week devoted to processed, not-at-all-good-for-you, delightfully-tasting, highly-addicting, not-from-the-earth, chemical-laden, food.  Yum.

Bella created a menu for the week and then together we created a grocery list.  I gave the list to my husband who took the kids shopping.  I honestly couldn't bear to do it myself.  I have this thing now where I absolutely pride myself on the content of my grocery cart.  Sending my husband was nerve-wracking enough.  What would people think when they saw him with chips, candy bars, and all kinds of nasty stuff?  Sure enough he ran into two people that we knew.  Thankfully he mentioned to them that we don't always eat like this.  (I'm glad that junk in the cart embarrasses him too).  They came back with birthday week supplies.....3 packages of ramen noodles, 3 boxes of mac and cheese, 2 bags of chips, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 can of pineapple, 1 box of french toast sticks, and 1 box of fish crackers, and six candy bars for her birthday candy gram.

Are you still with me?  Are you sick yet?  Because I'm gagging a little bit as I write this.

Besides the menu for home, Birthday Girl also had two "restaurants" in mind that she wanted to eat at this week.  She chose Wendy's as her restaurant of choice on Tuesday.  Keep in mind I haven't eaten fast food since Sept 26 when it was my youngest daughter's birthday and we went to McDonald's (a bad experience for me since I was on the toilet afterwards).  So it'd been about 8 months since I've had any fast food at all.

I ordered the plain baked potato and a bowl of chili since I was so hungry.  Let's just say next year I'll only be ordering the plain baked potato.  One bite into the "chili" and I could taste the salt, the MSG, and the high fructose corn syrup.  Another bite in and I'm freaking out over the "meat" I just put into my mouth.  What is that stuff?   

The next evening....yep.....Chuck a Rama.  It's a Bella-birthday-tradition.  Our family used to love this place.  We ate there once or twice a month sometimes.  We liked going there because there was a big variety and it pleased each person in the family.  Mostly we'd go there because I didn't like to cook and I never knew what to make for dinner.  My  husband would come home from work, see no dinner on the table, pack us into the car, and be the Chuck a Rama hero.  We loved it!  I especially loved the salad bar, the fluffy white rolls, honey butter, mashed potatoes, pot roast, corn bread, and sticky buns. Mmmm.

We were all kinda excited to go since it was our chance to splurge.  I helped Roman with his plate, John helped Capri with hers, and Bella got her own.  I was interested to see what everyone would put on their plate.

Roman and I strolled around as he looked at his options.  He decided on fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, and those beastly french fries.  I hated putting all those things on his plate but whatdaya do?  A deal's a deal.

Bella loaded up on similar things....mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, and french fries.  I noticed she also put a little salad and corn on her plate.

Capri had lemonade and mac and cheese.  And ice cream.  Her stomach hurt so bad that's all she could eat.  Soon Roman's stomach was hurting too.  He didn't finish anything on his plate with no thoughts of getting up to get anything more.  Bella only had two plates when she normally would get four.  What's going on here?  We're usually up and down, up and down, going for more, another plate here, another plate there, loving every minute of it.

And what about me?  What did I get?  Since this was also my moment to splurge I didn't go for the salad bar.  But I didn't go for the meat either.  I made burrito with a white-floured tortilla, lime rice, refried beans, shredded cheese, and a little cilantro-lime dressing.  I've always had a thing for refried beans and the cilantro dressing had a nice kick.  My complaint was the white flour tortilla tasted so white-floury.  Bleh.  After I finished the burrito I wanted to have just a taste of some of the foods I used to eat there.  So I put a little bit of mashed potatoes and gravy on my plate.  "These don't even taste like potatoes," I said to my husband.  He looked at my like, "What did you expect?"  I was so disappointed.  Then I wanted to try the rolls I used to love.  I grabbed a wheat one since it's healthier and you know what, it wasn't even good.   Then I wanted to have a little dessert so I found the chocolate pudding and ew, that was gross too.  Didn't even eat more than one bite.  And I used to love chocolate pudding.  Then I tried the brownie.  Ew, that was gross too.  Soft and supple but I couldn't even figure out what it tasted like.  It had no taste.  Isn't that weird?  It wasn't chocolate, it was just, aw, I don't know....chemical sweeteners.  I still can't discern a taste on that brownie and it's kind of frustrating me right now.  I guess I'll settle for "chemical sweetener" as the official description, sure wish I could say chocolatey or something like that. 

I was tired of trying things and tired of being let-down.  I put down my fork and slouched down in the booth a bit.  I had to come to grips with the fact that my taste buds really had changed.   Eating at Chuck a Rama would never be the same again.  (I know some of you who hate Chuck a Rama are laughing right now.  But we used to love this experience and now it's no fun).

As we took our last sips of water, Roman said to John, "I want to go home and eat some healthy food."  Did he just say what I think he just said?  My old potato chip addict who recently told me his favorite food is red apples?  He's such a good boy, man I love that kid.  

As we put the kids to bed, Capri and Roman both complained of stomach aches.  It made it hard for them to fall asleep.  Something tells me they are both going to have problems with constipation for the next few days.  It's a good thing birthday week is over tomorrow.  I think we will all be glad to get back to healthy food.  I know I will.  


Gina said...

Even though I"m sure you felt bad that their stomachs hurt, I'm sure you couldn't help but be a little glad that they did. haha :)
That's awesome that he said he wanted to go home and eat healthy food. Cute!

Amanda said...

You're right on.