Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bringing Up Bebe-- my thoughts

Just finished the book Bringing Up Bebe on the recommendation of Scarlet Lily, and I must say, I found it pretty eye-opening. It's not that I think One Best Way exists to raise a child; it seems foolhardy to think that way. However, I do agree that we as Americans have adopted a rather stifling way of over-parenting, being there at every turn, cushioning every surface, holding the kid's hand literally and figuratively for way, way too long. As a former teacher I saw it all the time, and I hear more and more stories of parents calling up college professors and job interviewers demanding to know why certain decisions were made and defending their children's actions. As new parents, we know we make mistakes, but we try to present a united front and not get too caught up in developmental milestones and what J "should be" doing, although, as I wrote before, we're a bit concerned about the lack of speech at his age. But we're getting him checked out and we'll see where that goes, so we feel much more even-keeled.

This book made me focus more on a few points, particularly the idea of having a few hard-and-fast, core rules but freedom within those rules. I also like the idea of using a very firm tone of voice instead of yelling--if you say something with conviction and zero doubt, the kid will learn that you mean business. She points out that in France, the magic words include "hello" and "good-bye", not simply "thank you" and "please", because simply saying that to a person acknowledges that person's humanity. I truly like the idea of that, that we recognize each other no matter whether it's the waitress at the greasy spoon or an adult walking into the room for the first time. Those small gestures go a long way.

Most interesting for me was the chapter on food and eating. According to Druckerman, the French encourage their babies to eat vegetables first instead of bland rice cereal, and they keep feeding those veggies and mix them up with other food. I took from it that children are encouraged to develop their palates with fresh and varied food. Feed the child what you eat, as long as it's applicable. If a kid won't eat a vegetable, try it again later in a different form or add it to something else. Eventually, he'll learn to like it (or at least eat it). I've tried to start this even before I read the book; I realized I had begun to take on the role of short-order cook for J and, while I do give him the Kosher all-beef hot dogs, they're still hot dogs. That's part of what T and I want to accomplish with this Transitions eating plan--we want to create a house where J gets good, unprocessed food as often as possible with not a ton of sweets; eat the latter at a party or a special occasion. Sure, he's going to get his fair share of junk, but not at our house and not with us whenever possible. I don't know if I'll start turning out four-course meals that the French regularly do, but hey, if the first course is vegetables that I give him while I prep the rest, and then some fruit or cheese for dessert, doesn't that sound reasonable? It does to me (as does the idea of an afternoon snack of crusty bread with good, dark chocolate).

I think I enjoyed this book because it put a lot of my nebulous ideas of parenting in a form that made sense to me. None of us is perfect as a parent, nor is any system. And, really, as long as we stay consistent, let J explore and fall sometimes (in the literal and metaphorical sense), give him lots of love and reasonable boundaries, and don't overburden him with activities or expectations, I think we'll all turn out fine.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

OK, round two. Last weekend we went to a pumpkin farm with my sister M, her husband C, and their darling daughter, C. We took them for the two main reasons you take toddlers to a pumpkin farm: 1) to buy pumpkins, and 2) to take tons of pictures because, really, who could resist?

                                                  Answer? Nobody. 
That's not distorted perspective: the place had gigantic pumpkins the size of small car tires. We loved seeing the kids examine them.
C adores J and won't stop hugging him. As you can see, he's not quite as enamored. Perhaps it has to do with her rather aggressive hugs, which still knock him over.
This picture may seem a bit unfair to J, but it's only because we know that one day he'll either hug back or finally get bigger and defend himself against her loving embrace.
The farm had white pumpkins called "ghost pumpkins"--I'd never seen that before. Very nice contrast to the bright orange of the others.
I just love the haphazard shapes and varied colors of little gourds. 

Happy fall family!

In other news, we're finally getting J tested for his speech, or lack thereof. He's a bit behind as compared to others his age, and he doesn't point very much, which I've found out also correlates to talking because it's a form of communication. After speaking to Feather Nester (she has expertise in this area) about it, we decided to get Early Intervention involved. Either they'll tell us to relax and see where he is at 18 months or they'll suggest something more to do, either one of which works for T and me. We just need some guidance. If it turns out we've made a First-Time Parenting Freak-out Move, that's fine, too. We just want to make sure J can communicate with us and others. He seems to understand quite a bit, so that makes us wonder if it's that he can talk but won't, for whatever reason. Mercifully, because we live in the school district, everything is free and they're very accommodating. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, he seems to be settling in to day care, slowly but surely, and he's getting molars and growing and just a happy guy, which is all we want.

Good food, good folks, good fun

This past weekend I had a few friends over for a Fabulous Females Night--specifically my busy mom friends. I asked that they each send me a copy of their favorite easy, go-to, weeknight meal and bring some to share. The result was five of us around my little kitchen table eating and talking about cooking, kids, and just about everything else under the sun. We all remarked how great it was to eat something we might never think of ourselves and how nice it was to get out of the house and chat, just the ladies. Truly, that's exactly why I did it: I don't give myself time with other female friends--sans kid--often enough. T actually encourages me to do so more frequently. I too often fall into the Teri Hatcher mode of metaphorically "eating the burnt piece of toast", taking the bad for myself so others can have the good. She wrote a book of a similar name...who knew a former Desperate Housewife could hit certain aspects of motherhood on the head so well? But I do--I take the scraps to make sure everyone else has what they need. That puts me in danger of the martyr role, and I do not want to go down that road. Fortunately I have T, who will never let me do that, and, as I wrote, he reminds me to get out of the house and have my own fun. And why wouldn't I want to have more nights like the one I just did? Do any of you do that? How do you avoid it (or do you)?

Additionally, feel free to pass along any of your own go-to, quick-and-easy meals. I've posted mine below, which I got right off of Pinterest. By the way, have you heard of AllRecipes' Dinner Spinner? It's an app for a smartphone that lets you find a recipe by using a few categories (Type of meal, main food, and length of time). For example, the other night I had tilapia and no recipes, so I chose "main meal", "fish", and "20 minutes and under", and the site came up with numerous choices. I also read the comments on my chosen recipe selection for additions and suggestions, several of which enhanced the meal. Having started this new diet/way of eating with T, we've chosen to get creative, and we value each bite, so I want to truly enjoy what I eat...while sometimes whipping it together quickly. You understand.

Greek Turkey Burgers
(linked to the source for copyright and picture purposes;
my comments in italics)

2 cups extra lean turkey (99 Percent Fat Free)
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (we can't do grain/bread right now, so I used ground flax seed)
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped (if you use a jarred kind, make sure to get the type that is in water, NOT oil)
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped (Again, water, not oil. I used canned.)
1/4 cup Feta cheese
pinch of salt and pepper
4 low calorie whole wheat muffins (100-110 calories) (We didn't use the English muffins--no grain--but we didn't feel at all deprived)
4 T fat free sour cream

In a bowl, add the turkey, Panko, garlic, oregano, basil, 1/2 tsp salt, and egg. Using your hands, mix until combined. Split into four equal portions and form into patties. 

You’ll need  a skillet that has a lid. Place it over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Allow to get hot but not smoking. Cook the patties for about 3 minutes, or until browned. Turn over and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth to the pan, cover and allow to steam for about 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the patties reaches 165 degrees. Remove from pan and allow to drain on a stack of 3-4 paper towels. 
In a bowl, add the artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, feta, and a pinch of salt and pepper. 

Lightly toast the English muffins. Spread the English Muffins with 1/2 T fat-free sour cream on each side. Place the turkey patties on the English muffins, add the artichoke/red pepper mixture.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I just somehow lost an entire post. It had pictures, a little J update, that sort of stuff. I have no idea what random button I pushed to lose it, nor do I understand why it wasn't saving as I went along, which it USUALLY DOES.

So I'll re-post it soon. Now I'm just annoyed. Sorry for the delay. GRRRR.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The writing on the wall (or the paper)

I wrote about this to dear Yum, so I apologize for her having to read this twice. As I made a grocery list the other day, I had the funny thought pop into my head that I like the look of my handwriting. I like how I make my As and that my Ss have a slight upward line with the S at the end of a word, making that cursive loop. I thought about how handwriting marks a person almost as intimately as a fingerprint--one person's handwriting may look like another's, but it's individual to that person. Heck, people study handwriting to see others' tendencies and personality traits. Do your letters slant forward or backward? Do your Gs and Ys go straight down, or do they loop? Is the loop closed or open? Do you write in cursive, print, or a mixture of the two? How close together do you make your letters? You know what I mean. I had a third grade teacher who had the most perfect, round, exact hand-writing--Mrs. McGennis. T and I both had her as a teacher, and we attended her retirement party a few years ago. Within a week, a letter arrived in the mail; I didn't even have to look at the return address. She'd written us, thanking us for coming. We kept the letter, partially because of the sweet gesture, and partly because of that handwriting. Anyone who ever had her in 37 years of teaching would know it.

This is also why so many different fonts exist to try--we try to maintain that individuality somehow, hoping that we don't all have to conform to Times New Roman, Arial, or Verdana. Has anyone noticed the handwriting fonts out there, too? They have lots of cursive and ones that sort of look like similar, but it's still someone else's version of what's mine. And they don't always work with every site and every person, so the attempt at creativity in writing sometimes gets roadblocked, and we're forced to use what's available. I also wonder what will happen to our fine motor skills if we start typing everything. This veers dangerously into my rant on how we have too many screens in our lives--TV, laptop, smartphone, Kindle--but I just want to make sure that J learns how to write his name and wield a pen to make his mark, as it were. It goes to nostalgia, too--100 years from now, will my grandkids look at my e-mails? My blog posts? My writing says a lot about who I am and how I think, but I don't see it the same way as looking at actual writing--it seems far more personal. It just urges me to keep using that muscle at the bottom of my right index finger, nestled up next to my thumb joint. Keep my individuality a bit as the typeface tries to pigeonhole me.

P.S. Don't think I don't appreciate the irony that I typed this whole post. ;-) However, in its original form, I did hand-write it, so there.