Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Eating it up.

Jennifer Huffman
Napa Valley Register

February 7, 2011

I know it’s normal for kids to eat and drink a lot when they’re growing, but with the amount of food our girls are putting away, it’s like some engine has been cranked into high gear inside their little bodies. Either that or they’re hoarding food and secretly feeding a bunch of friends hidden in their bedroom closets.

It used to be that we could get by with one gallon of milk a week at home. As they got older, we inched up closer to two gallons. But last week one of the girls intercepted me when I was making the grocery list.

Can you buy three gallons so we don’t run out by Friday night?, she said.

Three gallons! Were they joking? For that amount of milk, it might be cheaper for us to buy our own cow and stash her in the backyard. I could make the girls get out there and milk her every morning. I don’t think the neighbors would mind, especially if I slipped them some fresh cream now and then.

The girls aren’t just devouring milk. They’re after the bread too. I usually buy the longest loaf I can find, but even that has been disappearing within three or four days around our house. When five people eat two pieces of toast each for breakfast, or make sandwiches for lunch, you get the picture. Frugal mom insists we eat the end pieces as well, although it seems like I’m the one who always ends up with the heel.

Then there’s butter. Now I know we all like a little butter on our toast or rolls, but these girls have turned into butter-aholics. We must go through a pound of butter a week. Butter on toast, butter on corn, butter on pasta, butter on pancakes. Another good reason to get that cow set up in the backyard. Each girl could take turns churning butter for the week after she gets her homework done. I’m sure we could incorporate our backyard dairy farming operation into some kind of extra credit at school.

It’s gotten to the point where if I buy something for a potluck at work or special recipe, I better put a note on that item (“MOM’S — DO NOT EAT”) or it very well could be gone by the time I need it. Certain Huffman girls who like eggs for breakfast have taken to writing their names on the eggs in the fridge, as if to “reserve” them or prevent another sister from eating “her” egg.

They eat so much, and so fast, that often times I’ll reach for a box of something in the pantry, only to find it empty, as if the person before me was so hungry that she barely had time to grab the last granola bar before passing out from starvation and couldn’t possibly take the time to throw away the empty box.

The constant consumption has reached other parts of the household as well, like shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. Seems like every week one is asking for more shampoo, or insists that her tube of toothpaste is used up. Sometimes I can squeeze another week’s worth of suds out of the product, but most of the time, it really is all gone. They only have three heads of hair, and they only take one shower each per day, how much shampoo and conditioner do they need?

On movie night, out comes the microwave popcorn. Whereas one or two bags of popcorn on a Friday night used to be the norm, these days we can pop up to five bags. By the time all that popping is done, I have to take out the trash, which is filled up with all those deflated popcorn bags.

And we definitely create more than a fair amount of trash each week. The other morning on the way to school on garbage day, I noticed our neighbors had rolled out the smallest size gray trashcan. I couldn’t help but admire it. So slim. So compact. So easy to wheel to the curb.

Not at our house. We have the big monster can. And it gets filled up, every week. Last week I forgot to take out our trash on garbage day and almost wept at the thought of squeezing another week’s worth of trash into the already full can. There’s no way.

I know I should count my blessings. We’re only talking about three average-sized girls. It could be a lot worse.

We could have three boys.

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