Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Stringham Diet

Michelle has referenced "The Stringham Diet" a couple of times on her blog.  Food is sometimes optional.  There is no secret that we operate in a "Food as Fuel" paradigm.  It just takes way too long and there is way too much mess to make something fancy.  Although we do sometimes eat real meals, (we made fajitas for dinner just tonight), often times we eat cereal.  But that sounds so simple.  I have found that you can make a meal out of cereal alone.  But lets just say you need to be a little "crazy" and think out side the "cereal box."  

It could be genetic, my grandfather "Papa Homer" would create a vast concoction of mingled cereal.  When we lived with them Melissa thought he was nuts (insight into the rest of the Stringhams).  He had a huge container that he would put about 15 different cereals in, shake it up and add fruit.  It was awesome.  You could call it the Stringham Secret Cereal Recipe.  It is a full fledged health tonic.  Homer and Phoebe both lived till they were 94 and 95 respectively.  Mixing cereal the entire way.  By the way, Melissa can no longer eat just one cereal, it is so passe.  

Really there are a lot more cereal options than Papa and Deedee could have ever imagined.  I no longer "pre-mix."  Every meal is an adventure.  A Stringham Adventure.  So if you are looking for the fountain of youth, here is my contribution.  Michelle, you may want this for your recipe book.

Stringham Cereal

Implements needed:  Sizeable cereal bowl, large spoon

Stringham Cereal requires at least 3 layers: Base, Middler, Topper

Base:  Like any structure, the foundation is key.  The wise man did not build his house upon the sand or his cereal on Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Hands down the best Base is Quaker Oatmeal Squares.   Seriously, you can build a cereal mansion with this stuff, holds its crunch and lowers your cholesterol.  That's win-win.  Don't buy it anywhere other than Wal-Mart.  Really, this is the only reason I let Melissa shop at the Global Evil, $2.49 a box, compared to $4.99 at Alberstons.  Anyway, something not too sweet and it has to hold together.  Melissa thinks that Frosted Mini-Wheats are a base.  They are not.  She is just confused.

Middler:  The middler is often where you find the essence of the cereal.  I like flakes, chex, stuff with clusters.  As you progress you can add "sub-middlers."  Not for the faint of heart, I have been known to layer up to 5 middlers.  That is like super-hero status.  You need a big bowl.  The best middler hands down is Golden Grahams.  Low in fat, high in taste.  Love them.  Wheaties also make a great Middler of Champions.  

Topper:  Oh... the sweet stuff.  Kind of like dessert in a bowl.  This is the visual stimulus that makes you feel like a kid again.  Anything you shouldn't eat a whole bowl of counts as a topper.  Trix, Lucky Charms, any thing with sugar in the first three ingredients.  The best topper... Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Truly lovely. Go easy on the topper, too much throws off the balance.  

Fruit:  Every bowl of cereal deserves to be accessorized with the best seasonal fruit available.  Fruit of the Gods = Blueberries.  Strawberries a close second.  Together, a real 1-2 punch.  Love it. 

Fill to just below rim with 2% milk, whole, if you are feeling "saucy".  Enjoy. 

Beware, once you try the Stringham Secret Cereal Recipe, you can never go back.  Start with the basics:  Base: Oatmeal Squares.  Middler: Golden Grahams.  Topper:  Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Fruit:  Blueberries & Strawberries.  Milk.  Oh Yeah!
Let me know if you find any other great combinations.  As you advance, you will find the right combinations for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  The palate calls for different flavors at different times.  But that is for another time.   

Taking the Plunge

A few weeks back, our neighbors approached us about buying in on half of their boat.  We have always talked about owning a boat, but it hasn't ever reached the top of our priority list.  We went out on the boat, and talked to everyone we know who owns a boat.  In doing this we heard every time, without fail, that boating has been the best family time that any of these people have had.  (Also several warnings that it makes absolutely zero financial sense - which we heartily agree with.)  After taking a couple of boating trips with all the kids, we decided we had found an activity that everyone really enjoyed (a rare thing in and of itself.)  When Jonas first climbed in the boat after tubing, he yelled "that was totally awesome!"  On her first time out, Amelia literally didn't stop giggling the entire time and she begs daily to go out on the "big boat" again.  So, we decided that for a 10 year old boat, the price was just about right, and we took the plunge, so to speak.  We figured this was a good way to see if we truly are a boating family.  So far, so good.  We are having a great time!  An open invitation exists to anyone we know to come and join us on the lake.  Just call us and tell us when.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


On a recent trip to Walmart for diapers I (Melissa) discovered that all of the summer pool toys, bubbles, etc. had been removed and replaced with (gasp) school supplies!  It was still early July.  I just can't believe that the return to school is coming that quickly.  Oh I dread that day.  As busy as we are this summer, at least we're busy with fun stuff and not spelling lists and flash cards.  Here's to the rest of the summer (even if I can't get anymore pool toys)!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And Yet Another Fine Parenting Moment for the Stringhams

After an immense amount of frustration and annoyance with my inability to place pictures within my blog, I have decided to just skip over the many important events that have taken place in our lives (trips to the zoo, Red Butte Garden, the end of school, our Summer Solstice party, our trips to Bear Lake, swim meets, Megan's 2nd birthday, etc.., etc.), leave those posts undone, and give this blogging thing another try.  If this doesn't go well, I may have to quit the whole thing. ( It seems so sad that none of this is documented but at least I have some pictures.) 

So, now back to the topic at hand.  Partly due to the astronomical cost of filling the suburban with gas, and partly just to see if we could do it, Shawn and I made a decision to try to cut down on our car trips this summer.  And, we have been relatively successful.  Shawn has been commuting to work on his bike whenever possible, and our daily trips to the pool for swim team practice and lessons have been almost exclusively by bike.  I pull the 2 youngest girls in the trailer and the 2 older kids ride their own bikes.  (Now by some standards, we are already considered cruel parents for making our 9 year old and 7 year old ride their bikes 6 miles round trip and swim 1 1/2 to 2 hours in between.)  For some time (and by this I mean weeks)  Jonas has made the biking a bit unpleasant with all of his whining and complaining.  "It's too hard!"  "My legs are so tired!"  "My legs hurt!"  "I can't do it!"  (Of course this is all said in a rather unpleasant voice.)  We tolerated it for a short time and then became frustrated with him and stopped being so nice about it.  "What's the problem Jonas?"  "If you would just change your bad attitude, you would be fine!"  "Samantha and Robbie are doing fine - stop complaining!!!  (My nephew rides over with us too.)  And finally, on one particular day where I was completely fed up, I told Jonas (in a rather angry tone) to just turn around and go home so I wouldn't have to listen to him anymore.  (Hopefully, no one will report me to child services.)
Now on this bike ride, there is a place where Jonas seemed to have fun.  We ride past one of the signs that measures the speed of the passing cars (and bikes).  So, we always make it a point to see how fast we can go and watch the speed flash up on the screen.  This led to the thought that maybe if Jonas had a speedometer on his bike, he might be a little happier doing all of this bike riding.  So on Monday we got speedometers for the kids bikes.  As Shawn was attaching the speedometer to Jonas' bike, he discovered that his front brake was stuck on.  We checked this a couple of times, but yep, it definitely was on permanent braking.  We felt so bad!  The poor kid has been doing all of his riding with the brake on!  No wonder it was so hard and made his legs hurt, and made him so tired!  Oh, the guilt we felt!  The very next morning, (after Shawn fixed the problem) he rode great and kept up with no problem.  We have apologized for our cruelty and tried to make him feel better by telling him how much stronger he is for having to work so hard.  (He doesn't seem to be buying it.)  But we are somewhat relieved to know that, at least in this instance, it wasn't just his bad attitude that kept him from accomplishing what we knew he could do.  Although, it doesn't make us feel any better for being so mean about it.