April 15, 2014

How Not to Boil an Egg--My Messy Beautiful

My children won’t eat anything I prepare for them.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration.  But not by much.  Here is a list of things that I can be (fairly) certain they will eat:
  • goldfish crackers
  • potato chips
  • cheese pizza
  • ice cream (H only)
  • grilled  cheese
  • dill pickles
  • black olives (H only)
  • string cheese
  • pepperoni slices (L only)
They will sometimes eat (depending on the ambient temperature, moon phase and color of their socks):
  • apples, oranges, strawberries
  • chicken soup
  • Spaghetti O’s
  • chicken nuggets
  • hot dogs (but only if it’s an even numbered Saturday in Oct)
  • broccoli (H only)
  • french fries
  • macaroni and cheese (from a box)
  • cold cereal (no milk, no spoon)

And that’s it.  Every other thing I place in front of them at the dinner table is met with shrieks of protest.  The funny thing is I only present the dishes that have made it out of the kitchen successfully.  Believe me, you’d shriek too if you saw some of my many culinary “misses”.  I’m certain I am the only one who consistently produces inedible cookies from store-bought refrigerated dough.  I also make the worst tasting popcorn on the planet.  Popcorn.  You just get kernels and add heat; yet mine tastes like Styrofoam mixed with lighter fluid.   Oh, and you know those crescent rolls that come in a pressurized can?  I can’t work ‘em.  Not the can—I’ve mastered the press the spoon against the seam technique that I learned as a child at my mother’s knee.  I just can’t unroll and reroll those sticky triangles in order to create a dinner roll or hot dog wrap.  Seriously.  I just don’t have that kind of skill.
Now that Henry is in school, my inability in the kitchen is gaining more attention.  For example, last year his teacher sent home a note asking each child to bring a hard-boiled egg the next day.  Imagine my glee, when I found that we actually had a carton of eggs in our refrigerator and I didn't have to rush to the grocery store at 6 pm.  (After all it was dinnertime and the microwave was just about finished heating our leftover pizza slices.)  I dutifully boiled not one but two eggs for Henry to take to class.  As a teacher myself, I know that how important it is to have extra supplies on hand.  I was happy to help.
The next afternoon, I asked Henry what the class did with the eggs and if the teacher used both of his.  “No, she threw mine out.”
“She cracked them and they dripped all over her hands so she threw them away.”
And so it goes.  Again and again.   I’m one of the few moms at Henry’s school who is happy about the new “no homemade treats” rule.  Thank goodness for food allergies and tamper-evident packaging.  They make class parties much less embarrassing safer.

I've all but given up trying.  I've read the shiny, expensive cookbooks and tried all the gadgets; I’m done.  Those items are going in next month’s garage sale.  I’ll use the profits to buy more goldfish crackers.

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April 4, 2014

No Comment

Well, actually I have many I just can't post them on your blog.  If you've been posting to your blog lately, I've been typing comments.  However, for some strange reason, the comments disappear as soon as I click "enter".  Most frustratingly, it happens on Blogger and Wordpress.

There have been some wonderful stories, heartwarming tales, and sadly, heartbreaking news.  I've tried to respond to all of it.  I'm reading, following and appreciating all my fellow moms have to say.  Hope everyone has a relaxing weekend after a busy week!  Keep writing--I'll keep reading!

March 30, 2014

Sharing is Caring, Except When It's Not

Most (if not all) only children think the best thing ever is to have a sibling.  If only I had a brother or sister, my life would be so much better...goes the voice in our heads until well, maybe senior year in high school.  Then it doesn't really matter.  It doesn't come up much in the college years either.  The lack of a sibling seems to fade to insignificance as careers, homes and romantic relationships are forming in our twenties and thirties.  In fact, being an only child doesn't factor in much at all when you are an adult.  Except when you become a parent.  Then you realize that your child may not have a sibling--and it's easy to start reliving the longing again.  Never mind that a) your child is not you and b) giving your child everything you never had is not a guaranteed recipe for happiness (for either of you).

When I conceived my second child, siblings were created.  When I learned the baby would be a boy, brothers came to be.  I was certain they would be best friends and neither would spend an hour of loneliness during childhood.   Perfect.  All problems solved.  And then I brought the baby home.  I placed him on the sofa next to his toddler brother and wept with despair.  I was certain that I had ruined all of our lives.  There would be no private schools, no trips to Europe...nothing but diapers, laundry, dishes, pumped milk, clipping coupons and shopping clearance racks.

It took a few weeks for my postpartum mood altering hormones to settle down.  When Liam was about 3 weeks old, he looked into his big brother's eyes and intentionally held his gaze.   From that moment on I took second place--he was attached first and foremost to his big brother.  Of course he still smiled and cooed for me.  He still enjoyed 5,6,7 feeds in the rocking chair.  But when his brother was in the room, Liam wanted to interact with him and only him.  I marveled at the sibling bond as it developed.   This was a completely foreign, mysterious phenomenon unfolding before my eyes.

Many times in the past five years, I've been in awe over their relationship.  I'm so grateful for the blessing bestowed on our family.  A blessing of brothers.  Gone is the regret about backpacking across Europe with a ten year old or sending him to an elite academy.  Instead, at times, I'll catch myself imagining what Henry's life would be like as an only child.  Without his extroverted, risk taking little brother, seven year old Henry would be even more serious and adult-like.  Scheduling playdates and coming home to a quiet house with "nothing to do" would be the norm.  Would he fight early depression as I did?  I shiver at these "what ifs".  Never mind that someone once said, a) your child is not you and b) giving your child everything you never had is not a guaranteed recipe for happiness (for either of you).

So what does Liam get out of all this?  Hmmmm.  That is what I am starting to question.  Being an only child means I have no idea how to raise siblings.  Nice to figure that out five long years into the experiment, right?  There's been some real friction lately.  Some "go to bed now, Mommy is going to sit here with her head in her hands and hope you are asleep before she starts to cry tears of despair" evenings.  Some, "why did I think I could handle two?" moments.

It's become apparent that Liam needs more (or different) attention than he's been getting from me.  His behavior is quite distressing at times.  Right now I'm at the parenting point where I admit things are not going well and I need to do something different.  But what?  Yesterday, after a very trying evening that ended with us both in tears, I prayed for guidance.

This morning I chose to run my very necessary errands but to take Liam along.  Just Liam.  I gave him my full attention and as I did, it occurred to me that I rarely do that.  When I have both boys in the car or out and about or even here at home, Henry gets 80% of my attention and Liam gets scolded.  This is a really disturbing realization.  Can I explain it?  Sure.  Henry asks questions, really in depth questions all the time.  He wants to be shown things, given explanations.  He wants to know this, understand that.  Liam leaves his shoes in the middle of the kitchen or grabs candy off the high pantry shelf.  Liam stands on the sofa.  He pinches and sometimes bites.  He refuses to eat anything but pepperoni and Cheetos.  Of course he gets scolded.  But what if, just what if, Liam's incorrigible-ness was his way of adapting to having a big brother who gets most of Mom's attention?  What if the only way to get noticed is to do something I don't like?

The more Liam gets on my last nerve, the less I'm focused on his brother and the more I'm interacting with him.

Having time with Liam outside of Henry's presence does help, it seems.  But that's not practical as a solo parent.  Not on a daily or even weekly basis.  I need to find a way to connect to Liam even when we are not alone.  Easier said than done but I can't give up trying.  He's too precious to me.

March 24, 2014

Science Saturday

When it comes to world class museums, my boys are slightly less than impressed.  Except for the robots.  Robots are cool.  Robots that serve snacks are awesome!

Making connections
We had a fun (and expensive) day at the Museum of Science & Industry.  I'm not sure if we will venture out much more on our spring "break".  It's great that both the boys' and my school schedules match; however, Henry has come down with a virus and my checking account is empty.  It's ironic that after paying a year's tuition there's nothing left over to enjoy school break.  (And with private swim lessons paid for we can't afford a beach trip this summer.)  Oh well, I can't really complain.  I've just spent Monday morning building block structures with the best little scientists ever. That's priceless.
It's all about balance

Forces & Motion (little boy style)

Back home but still very busy