Posts Tagged ‘raising children’

fiThis has been a busy few weeks at our house. At the beginning of this week I took a day off to visit my daughter, about an hour’s drive from here. Monday through Friday she runs a daycare. As the children in her care progress in age they march off to the various elementary schools in the area and are replaced by a new crop of diaper wearers. Just as I learn their names and various personalities, our time together is done and I wave goodbye. At the moment she is coping with four little ones in diapers plus two rambunctious toddlers. For me this would be about six too many. I adore children, before comments arrive. I have raised two and helped raise several stepchildren. Between Rick and I we have nine grandchildren and I love the lot. However, at this juncture in my life having the energy to chase around six youngsters is far beyond my bandwidth.

The diapers alone would have me running for the exit. Even with my own children diaper changing required a tightly screwed vise pinching my nostrils to get me by with stomach contents in tact. Once, my daughter removed her diaper during a nap.  She then used the contents to paint the wall behind her crib. Surveying the damage, I seriously considered calling a hazmat crew to repair the damage, or possibly moving. Ewwww. Although I salute our maker or makers (whatever your beliefs) and the incredible efficiency of our body with regard to recycling our food, the group in charge of aromas might have done a nicer job. I’m just sayin.

It’s a whole different ball game when it comes to dealing with infants these days. My generation propped a couple of pillows on the bed and nap time was handled. Now, a manual is required, OSHA is involved, and at least one government agency is called in to put a child to sleep. Feeding, I’m told, doesn’t occur until the advent of their first birthday. No wonder babies seem crankier. They’re probably hungry. I caught the nine month old girl sitting in the bouncer checking out my lunch on more than one occasion.

Certainly while you’re pregnant a glass of wine is out of the question. I find it amazing any of us born in earlier decades survived at all. Women in the 40’s and 50’s drank and smoked while pregnant. Who knew? I didn’t do either during my gestation period though the dangers were being identified by the time mine came along. I didn’t abstain because I exercised amazing restraint, but because I was nineteen and twenty when expecting and as it happened didn’t drink or smoke at that time in my life. Rest assured, I made up for this oversight in later years though never when pregnant.

The day care at my daughter’s house runs seamlessly. When the there is unrest in the ranks a time out occurs. She tells me this form of punishment, an addition to child raising techniques added to the book after I’d apparently already ruined my children, is now being reexamined. Time outs, according to some child experts, can create a feeling of isolation in children, and bring up abandonment issues. Really? When mine were little we sent them to their rooms. Undoubtedly this was totally mind altering. Also, someone better alert Supernanny because she wears out the time out chair during episodes of her show.

Then what is the discipline solution? Perhaps we should just hand our children the keys to the house on the day they are born and get a hotel room until they’re of age? There was a case in the news recently of a teen from wealthy Texas family provided such a luxury. Before he was of age he was given a house, a car, provided all the amenities a wealthy family can bestow and set loose on society. Shockingly, (I know), this led to the kid getting involved in drugs, alcohol, and whatever else he could get his pubescent hands on resulting in an accident taking four innocent lives around Fort Worth. His defense for driving under the influence was “affluenza”. The term is loosely based on having too much money, too little supervision or tutelage, basically leaving you not responsible for whatever reckless and unconscionable acts you choose to commit while under its influence. Interesting. I’m suffering from pnumoneya. Not a rare disease by any means in the present economy. I don’t believe there’s a cure, other than a transfusion of funds directly into the patients savings account. I believe if I tried to use this as a line of defense for robbing a bank I would still be found wearing orange coveralls. Sigh.

Animals in the wild don’t have books to read or videos to watch. Babies are born, protected, taught to survive, and sent out into the world. Perhaps we should watch the gorillas. They take a communal parenting approach with many adults watching over the children in the group. There is a lot of physical contact. Gorilla mom’s are rarely seen texting or taking a selfie. Babies Baby-snow-monkey-taking-a-selfie-in-Nagano-Japan-by-Jack-Reynolds.cling to their mother’s backs and chests and hang off them as they walk along. Grooming is also a big part of their bonding rituals. Most of us don’t have ticks or fleas to be tended to (I can’t speak for everyone), but we brush our children’s hair and bathe them much in the same way they do. When their kids misbehave a cuff might ensue or a gentle whack as a reminder of whose boss.

I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong. In my child rearing days Dr. Spock was in full bloom. By the time they realized what a disaster that was his self-indulgent brood had already been released on an unsuspecting world.

As each generation progresses old ways of parenting are sluffed off and new ones adopted. In the end lots of love with a balance of structure and guidance would seem to continue to make sense.

Thoughts for today.

Eggplant is always a bit time consuming, but in the end so well worth it. This is delicious, and certainly lends itself to whatever your favorite pasta might be.

Hope your Halloween is a real howl. Sorry. Anyhow, I’m off for a few days to the Bay Area. Rick and Boo, the Queen of Cats, will be manning the candy.

Eggplant and Rigatoni

2 small eggplants, sliced in 1/4″ slices
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
2 15 1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 lb. cooked rigatoni
1 Tbsp. butter
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 mins. Add wine and cook for 2 mins. Add remaining ingredients through tomatoes. Bring to boil. Lower heat and cover. Cook over low heat for 1 hr. stirring once or twice.

Slice eggplant and put in large deep dish (discard ends). Salt and cover with water. Allow to sit for 1/2 hour. Rinse well.

Line two cookie sheets with foil and spray well with cooking spray. Place eggplant in single layer on both sheets and brush with oil. Bake for 15 mins. or until tender and browned. Cut in quarters.

Add eggplant to skillet after it has been simmering for 1 hr. Cook an additional 30 mins.

Cook rigatoni according to package directions. Toss with 1 Tbsp. butter. Spoon sauce over top and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4

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On the best of days parenthood can be like walking a mine field in a pair of snow shoes. Odds are eventually something is going to blow up in your face. It starts right at inception. On becoming pregnant a woman ends up in an obstetricians office along with other women such as herself in various stages of the birth process. In the examining room your feet are placed in two stirrups and you get the first sense of what a humbling experience becoming a mother is going to be. Over the nine months each expectant mother’s experience varies. The less fortunate spend the first three months perched over the commode praying for release, living solely on soda crackers and 7-Up. Others, seemingly born to wear the suit of motherhood, breeze through one pregnancy after another virtually untouched by swollen ankles, rapid mood swings or midnight cravings for liver and apricot sandwiches. Each pregnancy is as unique as the children they produce.

Humans fare far differently in the parenting department than most of their animal counterparts. Lion cubs, for example, though dependent on their mothers at birth, are usually weaned and on their own some time in their second year. Humans, are likely to share space with their offspring well into early adulthood and with the economy such as it is now, perhaps even longer.

As your children grow, quite often the size of the problems associated with raising them increase accordingly. Certainly the expense of maintaining a pre-teen or teenager is generally much higher than when they were toddlers or in elementary school. Outside activities come into play (if you will) and suddenly bills are coming in for sports equipment, summer camps, clothing and electronic devices. Thirteen year olds without smart phones and tablets, so I’m told, are nearly social pariahs.

There are few jobs more important, yet nothing is given to you by way of instructions or direction when you sign up for it. It’s like putting you in a nuclear reactor and telling you to push a few buttons until you get the hang of it. At the hospital after surviving the delivery (another thing they don’t fill you in on in much detail) you are basically handed a baby and sent on your way. Unless you’ve had a caesarean section, you will most likely be released with your new child before the ink dries on your signature on the admission papers.

The first baby is the worst really. After that you at least have trial and error to guide you through the darkness. When your first born cries on endlessly after you’ve done everything humanly possible to provide comfort, you may or may not end up at the emergency room. Panic taking over on handing the baby over to the nurse, you find yourself secretly wishing she would keep him until he was old enough to drive. After a brief examination by the ER doctor you will probably be assured it is not as feared flesh eating bacteria, but rather a bout gas. $500 and a good dose of humiliation later, you will return home only to find ten minutes after you lay your tired head on your pillow the baby, gas and all, is now hungry. I highly recommend you do not keep any loaded weapons handy during this portion of your training.

Surviving the first year of your baby’s life, you will begin to breathe a little more easily. Sleep for most, at least more than two hours, has returned to your daily routine and life takes on a rhythm just short of steady chaos. It is set up this way, I believe, to give you a bit of a reprieve before your toddler turns two. Otherwise every street corner would contain a two-year old child with a sign around its neck reading, “take me”. Before your child can walk you spend a good deal of time encouraging him to do so. When he finally does you are ecstatic. When the baby is fully mobile you wonder why you were so excited about this prospect. Everything eye level becomes fair game. I knew people who had entire rooms decorated only at three feet and above until their children entered pre-school.

School seems like a time to at least for a brief period assume your life once again. Perhaps even go back to work. Women who choose to work often feel guilty because they are not at home. Personally I don’t think every woman can be completely fulfilled as a full-time mother. Aside from that in many households a second income isn’t a choice but rather a necessity. When I look back at my working parent days I amaze myself that I lived through it. Racing home from a busy job, gathering my kids, shopping if necessary, getting dinner, doing homework, throwing in a load of wash and throwing myself into bed just before the alarm went off. They say there aren’t enough female super heroes. I say they’re just not looking in the right places. All mother’s who dedicate themselves to keeping a home and raising children, whether working or not, deserve a big red “S” emblazoned on their chests. This could stand for super hero or survivor however you choose to look at it. In either case I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

So, I wish all of you who have signed on the dotted line and made a human or two a Happy Mother’s Day. You deserve it.

This soup is dinner in a bowl. Sooooo yummy.

Chicken Taco Soup

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup orange bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 can Ro-Tel tomatoes with juice
1 14 1/2 oz. cans diced fire roasted tomatoes with juice
1 6 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. taco seasoning mix
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
1/3 cup chunky salsa
Tortilla strips
Grated Mexican blend cheese
Sour cream
Ripe olives

Cover chicken with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 20 mins. or until thoroughly cooked. Shred with two forks.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add peppers and onions. Cook for 8 mins. until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 min. Place onion mixture, cooked chicken and all remaining ingredients through and including salsa in stockpot. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and continue cooking partly covered for 50 mins. stirring frequently.

Serve with sprinkled cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, and ripe olives.

Serves 6

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