Monday, October 25, 2010

"PC" Talk - Food for Thought

Yesterday I told The Blitz, "Be a better baby!  Be a better baby!"  I said it because I like the rhythm of alliteration.  Normally I say, "Make a wise choice!" or, "Be a good friend," or "Share with your sister, please."  This clear departure from the usual patter caught Pepper's attention.

She called me on it.  "Why did you say that mom?  Why didn't you just say, 'Be good!'"?

"I don't want to label him as good or bad.   I am asking for what I want.  I am being specific.  I am trying to raise a kid who thinks and not just one who tries to stay out of trouble.  We can't be 'good' but we can be 'better."   Sometimes we can make a 'wiser' choice but we can't always make a 'good' one.  I am trying to make it do-able."

She pondered this a minute.  "Well, I remember being little and you saying "Make a wise choice" and me thinking, 'She wants me to be good.'"

Hmmm. Perhaps there is such a thing as too "enlightened parenting."  I'm not sure.  I have to ponder it a bit.

Both Pepper and Sunshine are "good kids."  We say it all the time -- though not to them.

To them, we say, "You are thoughtful.  We trust you to make wise decisions.  Your schoolwork reflects your hard work.  You're responsible.  You're a hard worker.  You are beautiful inside and out -- and the insides are what count the most.  You're a good friend."

Yet, even though we tried to raise them differently, I'm not sure we did.   It's thinly veiled, at best.  It's clearly human nature to label things.  I see it in "the Littles" all the time.


They don't get all this from me (though I can imagine the fingers pointing!)  It is in them.  We have religiously avoided the label "bad" with all "our" kids -- and yet it is one of the first words each of these "Littles" have said.  A child who makes a "poor choice" is frequently chastised by one of the other two as "bad, bad."  No amount of ignoring or protesting on our part has changed this.  And even though they've not heard the word from us in 8 months, they still know it and use it!

I don't think this revelation will necessarily change my parenting style --but a dose of reality sweetly administered by a wiser-than-her-years 14 year old is certainly useful.  Food for thought.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


A couple of years ago, our visit to San Francisco produced a new interest in Rice-a-Roni.  When we realized that China Town and the Italian section were next door neighbors, the whole Italian/Asian fusion in that particular product just seemed so perfect.  At the grocery store recently, one of the girls begged me to buy Rice-A-Roni.  We usually eat brown rice and whole wheat pasta, but we all  know kids dig the simple carbs.    I did pick it up, but the list of chemicals is l-o-n-g.  So I put it down.  I said, "I wish we could make it at home."  Pepper said, "You can do it, Mom!

You gotta give the people what they want!

Herb and Butter Dreena-Roni

Serves 8 - 156 calories

1/4 lb. angel hair - broken into pieces of 1" or less
1-1/2 cups medium grain rice

1/4 cup butter - melt it in a LARGE skillet
  • gently brown the rice and angel hair in the skillet until lightly browned
1 tsp. Herbs d/ Provence
2 cloves garlic
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Mash all this together with a mortar and pestle or crush the herbs in your hands and stir together
5 cups chicken broth, warmed*. 
  • Add the herbs to the rice
  • Add chicken broth slowly, 1 cup at a time, bringing it to a boil each time
  • Stir gently as you add the broth
  • Once all the broth is in, put the lid on tightly, turn the heat all the way down and simmer 20 minutes.
*  If using homemade broth, you may need to water it down about 1/3
*  If you don't have chicken broth, you can crush 2 chicken bouillon cubes with the spices, but go easy on the salt.

For a full nutritional breakdown, I have recorded the recipe on SparkPeople.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Time In and Sick Kid

The moratorium on time-out continues.  Life is easier without it.  Time-out on time-outs had an unexpected side benefit:  It effectively took the "big" girls out of the discipline equation.  All along, I've asked them to let me do the disciplining, but I think wielding the power is pretty alluring.

For my part, the moratorium has caused a burst of creative thinking.  Some things kids do require a response -- when "The Captain" clocked his sister with a matchbox car (on the face by the way) I needed to respond.  I decided in the "natural consequences" world, if a car is a weapon, you therefore cannot have cars.  He lost his large collection for a day.  You have never seen a sadder boy.  I actually was starting to feel pretty guilty about it until the BRUISE showed up on her face a few hours later.

Most of the time however, a quiet word is all that's needed.  All in all, it seems to be working.

The Captain is sick.  I think he gets this stuff at school.  It's his second bad cold since school started.  Yikes.  I am trying not to imagine what is going to be like when cold and flu season starts.  Since I have never had a little kid in school before, I could use some disease prevention advice.  Should I just dip him in chlorine when he comes home? On the bright side, we did seem so stave off our inevitable "post doctor" illness in the little kids.  Maybe the diaper-wipe barrier plan actually worked!

The Blitz is continuing his hobby of emptying cabinets and drawers at lightning speed.  And Tink, having been revived by the lack of time-outs, has amped up her  hobby of stealing whatever anyone else wants to play with.  In response to several quiet talks about sharing, she now announces her intention with a loudly declared "My Turn!"

It's life as usual.  Come visit!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Paranoid Mommy Finds a Cure

I admit it, I hate taking "the Littles" to the doctor.  Don't get me wrong, I love Dr. Azuma.  She is the greatest.  It's just that every time we go, someone gets sick two days later.  I can set my watch by it -- or my calendar, anyway.

Today was "the Blitz" 18-month well check.   Our doctor has a "well-child" waiting area, which I appreciate, but then we all go into the same exam rooms.  Having burned through all our entertainment in the waiting room, I was hatching a new plan for fun when we got into the exam room.  My first thought was how I wished I could scrub the place down before the kids picked up any germs.  Oh, great idea!  I gave Tink and The Blitz two diaper wipes each and let them have at it.  Tink scrubbed the kids table and "her" chair, which was great since she wound up getting in and out of that chair 50 times.  The Blitz mostly held his to his nose and pretended to sneeze, but at least he was touching everything in the room.

Does that mean they won't get sick?  Who knows!  But at least I feel better, right?

PS -- The Blitz has officially overcome any preemie delays, is well and strong.  23 lbs, 25% of height, 30th of weight.  "Growing and developing robustly" is the official verdict.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Time Out on Time Outs

In what can probably only be called temporary insanity, I have placed a moratorium on time-outs.  With three aged 3 and under, someone is pretty much always crossing the line and I was starting to feel like a prison guard.

Don't get me wrong; I am a proponent of time out.  Pepper and Sunshine certainly did some "time" back in the day, and for them, it worked.  However, the amount of time I was spending monitoring this activity suggested that it is no longer working.

There is a difference in the trust level between a child you've had since birth (or nearly) versus a child who is relatively new in your home.  I think they are still trying to figure out if we love them.  What a heart-breaking thing to consider.

So I pulled the proverbial plug.  The final results are not in as this is only Day 2, but it actually seems to be working!  Yesterday, I just took the "offender" aside and spoke quietly  to them about how they had behaved and what was expected.  They apologized and went on their way. 

"The Captain," of course, then needed to discover the boundaries of this new prison-without-walls.  As a consequence, he has been sent away (temporarily, of course) from the table for 2 out of the 5 meals served since the moratorium.  He is usually hungry, so was happy to get his behavior under control so he could return.

The Blitz got physically removed from the kitchen this morning when he insisted on sitting right under my feet, but had a much shorter and less intense fit than usual.  There is apparently no point in having a giant fit if you aren't then going to time out to surreptitiously remove all the books from the nearby bookshelf.  He wailed a minute and then played with the blocks.  He also removed his diaper -- usually a time-out worthy decision -- and I just stuck it back on him with clothes that are harder to remove.  He wailed as I dressed him and even headed to where time-out used to be but when I didn't say anything he turned around and toddled back, looking as if he'd won the lottery.

And Tinker has completely dropped her hobby of taking toys from the boys when she is sure I am looking.  I had a sneaking suspicion she was only doing it to GET to time out and that may have been the case.  As a result, there is a lot less yelling and crying going on.

I've reassigned the little stools to other duty and the children are running amok.  Not really. I am employing "natural consequences" (like leaving the table) when all else fails, but we are all getting along quite well.  Who'd have thought less discipline was the way to go?