Tag Archives: parenting

Dear Fathers

One Year of Parenthood by Jeremy Caney.

When I go shopping for a Father’s Day card for my dad, I never go for the mush, long lovey-dovey stuff. But, glancing at all the variety of cards prompts me to think about what my Father means to me. My parents divorced before I could even remember having my Dad home to wake me up or tuck me into bed at night. Even though I saw him regularly growing up, I don’t remember any tucking in or cuddling. When I asked my Mom about it, she tells me he was very attentive and she thinks he’s done a good job. I do too. But, I think I didn’t really understand the depth of relationship a daughter can have with her father until we had our own daughter. My husband’s relationship with our 3-year-old girl really tugs at my heart.

I am grateful that my father has chosen to be in my life. That he has chosen to show up and be a part of my life is sadly unusual for divorced families. I’ve seen closely the ache absent father’s leave in their child’s hearts. So, Dear Fathers, those of you who choose to show up and be an active part of your child’s life have my utmost respect. I think that a Father is uniquely qualified for the job even if he doesn’t have a four-year-degree or hasn’t taken parenting classes.

Around our neighborhood playgrounds, I’ve met several Stay At Home Dads, and they always fascinate me. I want to thank all active Fathers – you are filling a role no one else can.

Iris Kissing Daddy

The very best compliment I have ever been given was by a Father named Keith. We met during a 10 day Mission Trip to Honduras. We built houses for Refugees of Hurricane Mitch in 2000. It was a grueling, heart wrenching experience. During our goodbyes to the native team members and each other, Keith shed not one tear. He shook hands with folks instead of embracing everyone in hugs. He was a calm, steady guy who came on the trip with his wife and two teen age boys. After I hugged his wife good-bye, I looked at him and tried to decided if I should hug him or not. He gave me a short quick hug and said, “If I had a daughter, I would want her to be just like you.” To this day, his compliment makes my eyes get all teared up.

Thank you, Fathers everywhere, for filling your integral role in raising future generations.

Show and Tell: I finished a Bunk Bed, failed a new muffin recipe and witnessed a case of stage fright.

I had a busy week. Instead of neatly showing off each thing, post by post and laying out the process or delving into the details I found to be most amusing or baffling, I’m trying something new today. A photo-journal of sorts…

I built bunk beds!

Finished Project: Bunk Beds

After a month of working on bunk beds, they are finished! My neighbor and friend, Amanda, had the tools, space and skills to teach me how to do it myself. It was my first ever wood-working project. I could not, would not have attempted to do this on my own.

Amanda literally guided me through Home Depot, showed me how to pick out wood that wasn’t warped, and proceeded to let me use her power tools (after showing me how and explaining safety precautions). She was a patient, helpful teacher. I really looked forward to our scattered work sessions (lasting only about 2-3 hours) as our schedules allowed. And, she did help along the way – where it seemed like I needed it. My husband even pitched in a sanding session to get these done on the one sick day I needed to stay home and rest. Honestly, it was easier than I had expected. It has wet my appetite to make other things for our home, but not enough for me to want to do it for a living.

We made the bunk beds from an Ana White plan– she’s got so many great ideas and plans for everything from an entertainment center to simple book shelf (and they’re free!). Amanda introduced me to her site, and has recently completed a head board. She’s a crafty DIY blogger herself: uffdaprojects.blogspot.com

Recipe Experiment: from muffins to granola!

Muffin Mistake

I make mistakes. All the time. The recipes I share are ones I’ve perfected and have tested on unassuming family and friends. Last week I was trying to create a new muffin recipe using some pre-soaked and roasted Walnuts (because I read that they are easier to digest). Well using pre-roasted nuts turned into burnt nuts. They were black! I didn’t notice until my taste-tester-son starting crumbling up his muffin and picking out the nuts. So, facing my defeat and frustration for  wasting all the ingredients, I suddenly realized I could follow my son’s lead. I tore them all apart, picked out the nuts, and decided to make granola. I laid out the bits onto a cookie sheet, added Ghee and Honey and baked it on low for about 2 hours. My husband ate it up, but did add some dried Cranberries and Almonds. So now, I want to try making granola from the start!

Stage fright: a first recital.

Saturday was the big day. Our daughter, Iris, is a spontaneous dancer – ever since she could stand, she’s danced anywhere, anytime when the mood strikes her.

She has been taking Pre-Ballet classes for 7 months and even enjoys the micro performance when parents get to see them demonstrate what they’ve learned.  Saturday was her first recital. She wasn’t keen on the idea of getting on a small stage for the rehearsal on Friday. But, she did like the idea of wearing her costume and lipstick and blush (we practiced applying it).  I made the mistake of assuming once she was surrounded by her class mates all would be well.

Photo by Aunt Jennifer.

I should have planned on asking my relatives to photograph and film the event – that’s what I thought as I sat back stage with Iris clinging to me in the sea of tutu’s and adorable little girls. There was a “Room Mom” for every class to keep order. But, Iris insisted that my lap was the only one she wanted. So, I grabbed my cell phone and recruited my multi-talented sister-in-law, Jennifer to be the photographer.

Thankfully, Iris’ class was not the first one up on stage. She enjoyed watching the big girls perform. But, when it came her turn, she wanted me to go on with her. Since I could not, she joined her class reluctantly, then part way through decided to exit the stage and join me. Poor thing. Really, I felt bad about it but I was glad she knew what to do about her feelings. That should could leave the stage. Everyone was really nice about it and some other Mom’s went out of their way to compliment how well Iris did. It was sweet and hopefully not too traumatic for Iris.

As soon as we got home, Iris requested music and danced her little heart out barefoot style.

The War on Vegetables

My son refuses to eat Broccoli one night, but asks for it the next.

 

It doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to say that there is a war against vegetables. Vegetables are still not popular or eagerly welcomed by our 4-year-old.  And let’s be honest, they are not cool. You can’t make billions from selling Carrots or Zucchini. You don’t see billboards of Movie Stars or Sports Heros smiling while holding a bunch of Collard Greens or looking sexy while taking a bite of a salad.

My little kids have just started to notice billboards. They ask me what they are about. Hmmm, that lady in a slinky red dress with a wine glass is selling wine. I answer with basic truth, and avoid describing what else I suspect is being sold like the sexy image or appeal.

But that is what got me thinking: peer pressure works just like advertising. Why aren’t we using it to fight childhood obesity or inspire everyone to eat better? Instead, I find myself censoring my kids from obnoxious cartoons or the networks that show them, because I don’t want them to beg me for every toy or new cereal or processed snack shown every two minutes.

During one of the first episodes of Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” TV show, you saw that the processed, prepackaged Public School lunches were cheaper that buying raw ingredients. We’re not talking Organic food here, just simple real foods that required more time to prepare than simply opening packages and using a microwave.

I know, I know that it’s true: eating real food that includes vegetables costs more time and sometimes money.  Yes, I also understand how marketing and economics works. That is why I am trying to train my kids to eat healthy and understand how important food is while they are young. Because the hard truth is that I cannot censor them from real life. A life full of clever advertising trying to tell you what you NEED. They need to learn to think critically for themselves in order to make smart choices.

If you are wondering how our little battle is going on at home, I have a report to share. We’re still using the same strategy I explained before. Our daughter just exclaimed the other day, “I love Kale, Mama.”  She likes it lightly steamed with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt. I wish I could say the same for her brother. His willingness to eat one of three vegetables changes from meal to meal. The other day we had a battle over broccoli.

I am working on a new plan of attack. His preschool has unused raised beds waiting for someone to use for gardening, and I am willing to make that happen. Hopefully peer excitement will ignite some willingness to try new vegetables. We’ve already spent the last two years gardening at a friend’s house and growing Kale, Peas, Broccoli and gleaning extra Collards, Red Peppers, Tomatoes and Strawberries. While my son has been willing to help harvest and enjoys digging in the dirt, he’s never wanted to eat any of it except the Strawberries.

And I’ve already got books on hold from the Library – full of how to teach your kids about nutrition – my hope is to learn something, but I don’t expect a perfect solution. As some really well educated folks have already pointed out, our national health crisis hasn’t been helped by education.

Maybe my battle will be helped by taking my son to see the movie: Mars Needs Moms, because supposedly it starts out with the Mom trying to get her son to eat vegetables. The truth is, I’m willing to experiment, but not beat myself up over this. One mom I know offered some comfort when she advised that it’s an age thing – here daughter magically started eating vegetables after turning 5.  I don’t know if anyone has the right answer for us, but I am willing to look for something that works.