Don't Know Where To Start: Here's A Picture

So much weird stuff, good stuff, busy stuff, I don't even know where to begin. 

My monkeys.

Until the dust settles, and I can put it all into some sort of cohesive order for your reading pleasure, here's a picture of those two humans I created. This was an evening out to celebrate Peanut's academic achievements for the year and the boyfriend's birthday. Bug was trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to frown. 

My Son Is Quite Able: Riding BART

When my son was in fifth grade he was asked to leave his private school because of his disabilities. In the middle of a school day. With no warning. With no plan. Some of you will find this deplorable. Some of you will think they had a right to ask him to leave because they were a private school.

After an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether or not the school violated my son's civil rights under Title III of the American's with Disabilities Act, the case was closed without a finding.

What I do know is that today, on his first day at a school he selected, my fifteen-year-old son, is a better person for having been asked to leave that school.

Why?

That day was a turning point for our family. From the day the school sent my son home he started homeschooling.

We didn't know if it would be a temporary situation or not, but we knew it was the right thing to do for him at that time. It turned out to be the best thing we could have done to lessen the stress he was experiencing there—stress we didn't fully appreciate until he was outside the situation.

Toward the end of the lengthy and often ugly legal process with the school, before the ruling came from the DOJ, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Since we were homeschooling, my son had the gift of spending my husband's final year of life at home with him. We had no way of knowing that was how life was going to play out, but it worked out that way, and it was a blessing. I am thankful every day that somebody perceived my son's disabilities the way they did or he would have missed that time with his father. And I am so glad his father got that time to see his son happy.

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Making the choice to defend our son's rights was a process that brought us closer together as a family. We regularly checked in with each other and with our son to make sure we wanted to continue the legal process. As soon as one person wanted to stop, we agreed we were done. Fortunately, the DOJ took over the case, and it was out of our hands. We never intended to pursue a civil case. Our goal was to make things right for other children for the future. We didn't see a civil case achieving that goal. Our daughter was an amazing witness when the DOJ came to our home to interview us. She was fiercely protective of the truth and her brother, which hasn't always been the case in their relationship—having a sibling with special needs can be stressful sometimes, but she wanted to make sure it was clear to the attorney just what had and had not happened since she was actually present in his classroom.

And today, on his first day of school, my son rode BART by himself. He also packed his own lunch, got himself dressed in the clothes that he washed, and ready for school on time. He attended his brand new school for seven and a half hours. He was calm. He was confident. He had a great day at school, and he can't wait to go back tomorrow.

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If you didn't know he had Tourette's, you'd be hard-pressed to tell. In fact, even the people who live with him have trouble spotting his very rare tics. As for the Asperger's, well, I just think of that as who he is. I don't even know that I'd be able to separate him from the things that would define his position on the spectrum, nor would I want to. After fifteen years of him being him, I am so accustomed to who he is and how he works, that I rather like his wiring. Our world needs him. Somebody else's oversight of his awesomeness on that day in October of his tenth year was so very clearly a lucky day for the rest of us. They missed out on having the opportunity to watch him grow and learn these past five years. We didn't.

Guess what, world: he is able! Very, very able. Don't let that slip past you this time or y'all might miss out on another five years of watching him in action.

 

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I love you, Bug. I wish Daddy were here to see this. He'd be so incredibly proud of you.

Bunnies And Birthdays And Such

We had a rather action-packed Spring Break. I forgot to tell y'all what we did, so I've decided to show you, instead.

Have eggs. Let's hunt. #easter

Eggs were hidden

Happy Easter #bettertogether

by sly Easter bunnies.

Another birthday. Another cake. Finishing touches not yet applied. #birthday #cake #butterfly

A birthday girl celebrated her birthday with a specially requested butterfly cake.

Pale Moon #nofilter

And as we returned to our work week, we enjoyed a quiet moment together,

Water—Rockridge

then a lunch of crispy chicken tacos at Cactus (still not a taco truck at the dump, but hey, it's hard to compete with that kind of ambience).

 

 

Teetering Or Tottering

It's getting closer. The day. I don't like that there's A Day. The Day. I don't like that there's a day that Bob died.

I don't like that it looms large on the horizon. I don't like that it carries a weight or significance greater than other days, and I can't decide if I have the power to undo that or if I should.

This will be the second trip around the sun without him. It was a different trip this time around. It was different for me. It was different for the kids. Some parts were easier. Some parts were deeper, heavier, and not what I expected. Every part was new and will always be new, I guess. It will be new because I have never done this before. I have never been a widow in Year 2, going on Year 3. Shit, I hope it will always be new. I don't want to be a young widow again. Once has been plenty. I'll settle for one version of that t-shirt.

So, I'm still trying to figure out how I want this Day to be for me and for the kids. I know I can't define it for them. I don't want to do that for them. I want it to be what they need it to be. I also want it to be what I need it to be. Hopefully, those two things will mesh together into something similar. Hopefully, I can be present enough for them and not overwhelmed by my own grief. Thankfully, I have a partner who loves us all in a way that gives us room to grieve when we need to and how we need to. We are truly blessed. He is incredibly selfless when it comes to his family, and we are his family.

Until the 18th, I'll be riding the roller coaster of not knowing, which is okay. I'm going to let my intuition guide me on this one. I have definitely learned that grieving isn't about doing what somebody else thinks we're supposed to do. And it's not about stages. If anything, it's fluid. So, I'll ride the wave and see where I end up. Maybe it will be a peaceful day; maybe I'll end up fetal on the shower floor. Whatever happens, it will be how it's supposed to be, and that's okay.

(Not OSHA Approved) #casabesttogether

Life: It's not OSHA approved.

 

Do We Expect Or Allow Too Little?

The Wall Street Journal published a provocative piece this week on the state of middle-class children in the U.S. It was prompted by research done by UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families. I urge you to read the article. Shirley Wang does an excellent job of summarizing the research and bringing up some key concerns about what the research might indicate for our children.

For me personally, with kids who had an academic start in Montessori and then moved to unschooling, I have serious concerns about the dumbing-down of our children. As parents, we are have been conditioned to be so quick to do for our children that I wonder if we are raising them to become incapable of doing for themselves.

Is it unreasonable to teach a preschooler how to make toast? Or fold laundry? Maria Montessori didn't think so. Neither do I.

Is there any reason why a child can't use a proper glass or silverware when eating rather than cartoonish plastic dishes? Our children do, and they manage just fine. In fact, we've found glass drinkware is more stable than the plastic cups. They're also learning to clear their dishes, load the dishwasher, and put away their clean clothes. The older kids learned to do their own laundry around the second grade. They each got a laundry basket and instructions on how to do laundry. Why? It's a life skill. Just like learning to read, do math, and all of those other important subjects we focus on in school, why do we then assume our children are incapable of such basic life skills in the home?

As they've gotten older, I've involved them in other life skills as they've become physically and mentally capable. I want children who can make decisions and understand natural consequences long before they leave my home. If I helicopter overhead, that will never happen.

When my daughter decided to start public school for the first time in her life this year, I supported her decision. I do not ask her to do her homework. Ever. She does it because she choses to. She gets it done. She gets an A average in school. Why? Because she wants to get those grades. She earns them, not me. All of the pride associated with that achievement is hers to own. I can be proud because she is a responsible person who makes good choices, and I feel like I helped foster that within her.

There's not only a sense of pride when children are responsible for taking care of their family and their environment, but also a realization that things don't just magically happen. Clean clothes don't magically appear (so, you might not want to toss every little thing into the hamper). Food tastes better when you participate in cooking it. It takes a family—all of us, working together, to make a household run well. We are each important members who have something special to offer, each with unique strengths, complementary skills, and working together, we can be successful.

Lorax—Snorlax

We took the kids to see the Lorax in 3-D today. We were seriously disappointed. It felt far longer than an hour and twenty-five minutes. They lost the Seuss of it all, if that makes sense. And there was very little offered to keep the adults or, hell, anyone engaged after the first twenty minutes.

I am the choir this story preaches to, and I felt preached to in a college-lecture-hall kind of way. Had I not ingested half of an over-sized, -priced iced-tea, I surely would have nodded off. That said, the kids in tow (preschool-elementary age) enjoyed it, but I should qualify this is only the third movie they've seen in a theater—the novelty of moviegoing still holds their attention almost as much as the movie.

It seems to be the way when Hollywood tries to get a feature-length film out of a children's storybook. Sometimes it's best left on the pages of the book for us to enjoy at bedtime or in the classroom. Dr. Seuss has so much to offer early readers, and his messages don't need to be forced onto the big screen to make them enjoyable.

I'M BOOOOOOORRRRRRED

Got a bored kid? Tired of hearing "I'M BOOOORRRRRREEEEDDDDDD."

"What can I doooooooo???????"

Here's what you need:

  • paper
  • crayons/pens/colored pencils/some kind of drawing implement or magazine pics or some such way to create pictures on the paper
  • container to put the pictures in (we used a coffee can from Trader Joe's)
  • stickers to decorate the container (totes optional)
  • bored kid or kids

Procedure:

  1. Have kid draw pictures of things s/he likes to do when not bored.
  2. Label each picture with the name of the activity so siblings don't look at the picture and go WTF? is this?
  3. Fold each picture so it fits into the container.

Outcome:

Bored child has now been inadvertently (yeah, right!) entertained for a good amount of time AND created entertainment for future I'M BORRRREDDDDD moments!

Next time a kid is bored, hand 'em the can, have 'em pick out an idea and get to it. Oh, she doesn't like the idea she chose? Get to drawing! Make some new ideas!

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To My Son: As You Approach Your Fifteenth Birthday

Serious face

This Sunday you will turn fifteen.

It will be the anniversary of your birth.

It will also be the twenty-month anniversary of your father's death.

I hate that those two things have a shared date.

I hate more that you have no father. I hate that you don't have YOUR father.

I have given you his razor so you can shave, a milestone he missed.

I have given you his cell phone, his clothes, his wallet, and all of the love I have within me, and it still isn't enough to give you back your father.

Yet, somehow, you are okay.

A-OK

You are kind.

You are loving.

You are happy.

You laugh.

You bring us joy.

You make sure the people you love are okay in the world.

You make sure the people Daddy loved are okay, too.

You continue to learn and grow and drink all of the milk in a 25-mile radius of our house and, for that, I am truly thankful if not slightly poorer monetarily.

Your dance moves rival those of the late Michael Jackson, but with more Chris Farley overtones circa the Patrick Swayze SNL Chippendale sketch.

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Your modeling poses are less Blue Steel and more Lavender Aluminum, but you'll get there.

And keep doing that thing you do in the kitchen, because I think you've got real talent there. You can cook, my boy. You have a flair for the flavors. Your sauces are coming along nicely. The béchamel is a great place for any teenager to start.

I love you,

Mom

P.S. Don't forget to research getting that learner's permit. We need to get you behind the wheel as soon as is legally possible, sir. That minivan you're destined to inherit isn't going to pilot itself.

Day 22: Operation Eleanor - Pie Time

It would be so much easier to buy a pie. It would be so much easier to buy a pre-made crust. It would be so much easier to use canned pumpkin.

Fear would be NOT making a pie, probably. See, my fond memories with my maternal grandmother were learning to make pies. However, I stepped up the pie making a notch in college when I decided to start cooking my pumpkins from scratch.

pumpkin

 

I have it down to a bit a science now, and today was step 1. It would also be easier to do all of this by myself, but what's the fun in that? My grandmother didn't do this alone. She taught me. She made sure I knew my ingredients needed to be cold. She is the reason I use ice water in my pie crust.

cold butter

So, I made my pie crusts last night with my daughter by my side. I taught her how to cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, making sure she kept the butter cold so the crusts will be flaky.

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We talked about why we add vinegar to the egg mixture before adding it to the flour. (In case you're wondering, the vinegar, is used in your pie crust recipe because the acid, along with the shortening, keeps the gluten strands from getting too long—making a more tender, flaky product.)

Today, we'll make the pies.

Holidays are hard when you're grieving, but forcing ourselves to do some of the things that we remember fondly can help us work through that pain. Trying to get back on that horse a little bit this year. At least step into the saddle. I have a houseful of little people anxious to help with the pie making, so I'm on the hook to get to it. Sometimes I think the next generation was created to make sure we don't stop living when we suffer a loss. They are so very, very good at making sure we stay in motion.

 

I Survived

Something about the exposure of the abuse at Penn State has moved me to come forward. Something. Or maybe it's that my own daughter is moving into a world of beginning to explore the idea of dating. Either way, it's time. It is time to talk about it. It is time to talk about what went wrong.

In the early 1980s the concept of date rape didn't exist. The concept of somebody forcibly shoving his cock down your throat against your will while you were drunk or less-than-willing? That did exist. And it happened. More than once. To me. So did the rape. I said no. He didn't stop. Years later, in a college town, with a boyfriend who would have killed that guy if I'd ever told him what he looked like, I would leave bars suddenly upon spotting him. Him. The 6' 4+ guy who raped me in high school. One night while out with my sorority sisters, I said we needed to leave the bar we were in after I spotted him. I didn't want a confrontation. I just wanted to go. One of my sisters wanted to know why. When I told her what had happened in high school, an entire state away, she said, "Wow, he did that with another girl I know."

That's all I needed to know. He was still the same guy. He still had the same m.o. Years later, nothing had changed.

Some people will read this and think I was a slutty girl. Some will read this and think I was asking for it. Some will get it. Some will know it wasn't my fault. It took me a LONG time to realize that. DECADES.

It wasn't until I met my then boyfriend, who eventually became my husband that I learned I had the right to say no. And I used it often, probably more often than he liked for a while there, but he respected that need. He was also the same guy who, as a frat boy, would find nefarious situations happening in the frat house, and stop them whether they were his brothers or not. Whether he was drunk or not. That's how he was raised. It was ingrained in him. He wasn't able to be anybody else. He could only see that a woman was being wronged. He had sisters. You would be far more likely to get knocked out than get your cock out if you were found to be violating a girl in that frat house. Yet, he never talked about these incidents. I only found out about them years later.

What I was able to learn with a partner who supported my rights to my body as my own was that I could decide when and who had access to me. What I lost with his death was that confidence. Finally, I have it back. It is unfortunate that I tied it to him and not to me, because I am absolutely worthy of that respect.

So are you.

Days 16 Thru 18: Operation Eleanor - Jump, Try, Speak

On Jumping - Day 16

I was a gymnast back in the day. WAY BACK IN THE DAY. Like, when wheels were still not quite round, but getting there. Anyway, I loved the trampoline. In college, I even took a class where we learned a technique used to teach astronauts how to orient your body in space called Bio-Flight and we practiced on the trampoline. It wasn't until that class that I was finally able to master a back with a full twist.

Well, we are now the proud owners of a trampoline, albeit one that is 12 ft. diameter, so I doubt you'll find me doing a lot of back flips on there any time soon. It HAS been fun teaching the kids games we used to play on there when I was a gymnast and watching them assemble it and enjoy it. Getting up there and letting loose wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it might be and only required a few hours of heat and ice to recover. Totes worth it.

Jump

On Trying - Day 17

We ventured to a new restaurant for date night, something we are fairly religious about, party because we understand the importance of couple-time, but also because we really dig each other. We've been trying more places outside of our usuals comfort zone, which has been fun. We're always up for exploring, even in our own neighborhood. I tried a great gin cocktail with fresh egg white (don't worry, I lived) and we had fun chatting with the owner as we ate appetizers from the bar menu. Might keep the name of the place a secret for a bit longer, though. With the Christmas Shopping Season upon us, I'm not sure I want to crowd downtown any more than is necessary. It's nice to have a corner that's still got a parking space!

Date night. #bettertogether

On Speaking - Day 18

If you see something happening that isn't right, speak up. Let somebody know who can get that child help. If the situation at Penn State has taught us nothing else, let it be this lesson. Children depend on adults to protect them. Make sure you are that kind of adult. Listen when children speak. Teach your children that they are entitled to say no. Teach them that you will get help for them or anybody else who needs it. Teach them that abusers do not look like monsters even though they behave like them. Teach them that concern for a friend is a valid concern. Listen. Listen. Listen. Understand that sometimes the help needed isn't for abuse, but other needs, and that you will still be the person they can come to. Listen. Listen. Listen. Teach them how to speak to a trusted adult (you, a teacher, a school counselor) and let them know it is not their job to shoulder a friend's needs when they require the intervention of a professional. Teach them how to get the right people involved. Be the right people. It is not the job of a child to determine whether a friend is telling the truth, nor is it our job, it IS our job to get that child help. It IS our job to make sure that child feels heard.

There have been two pieces written about the abuse case at Penn State which I feel compelled to share. It would behoove my readers to read them both, in my opinion, and since this is my virtual soapbox, that's what I offer here: my opinion. As somebody who lives with a Penn State alum, this has been a heavily discussed topic in our home.

The Brutal Truth About Penn State: The problem can't be solved by prayer or piety — and it's far more widespread than we think by Charles P. Pierce

The Cruel Lesson of Penn State: How what happened at Penn State forced me to confront my own abuse. by Mark P. McKenna

I have written about it elsewhere, but this is the first time I've discussed it here. If you have been dismissing this story in the news because you think it's about football, I challenge you to read these two pieces. Child abuse is not about football. It is relevant to our world. If you think the silencing of victims doesn't happen across the board in this culture, you are also wrong. Let's learn from what happened at Penn State. Let's make it matter in a positive way. And, if you haven't done so already, consider donating to an organization that helps in areas of prevention, education, and treatment: RAINN: Rape Abuse & Incest National Network. To date, the grassroots effort by Penn State alum has raised over $430,000 for RAINN in the wake of these events. Their goal is $500,000.


 

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Proud: It's Not About The Grades

Peanut brought home her first letter-grade report card today. It's her first traditional report card, period. When she attended Montessori school, we had conferences and received written feedback from the teachers, and as the students got older, they participated in the process, as well. But, there were no traditional report cards. She got a 3.86 GPA. She is very proud. She did it all herself.

First grades. First report card. 8th grade.

As a child who unschooled for most of the last three years, you might think I was concerned about how she would handle the academics of her 8th-grade year of school. I wasn't. I don't think she was either. My children have never lost their love of learning. They had excellent teachers in their early years of education, enjoyed an environment where they were free to learn what they desired when the home schooled, and as she entered middle school, she did so with that same self-directed passion she's always had for gaining knowledge.

Now, that doesn't mean there aren't times where she asks for help with a writing assignment, wanting her mother to proofread what she's written or assist her in outlining a paper, but that's mostly died down to minimal assistance the further she's gotten into the school year. The same thing goes for math. She asks for help when she's stuck, but all of the initiative to get her work done comes from her. Nobody nags her. Nobody asks her if she's turned in her assignments. She owns her success 100%. That's why she's proud, and that's why I'm proud of her.

My Girl and Her Kitty Cat

There's more, though. Peanut doesn't just go to school and get good grades. She has found a great group of friends who "make good choices." She volunteers to help kids in our community, something she spearheaded on her own. She doesn't do it because she gets points at school. She doesn't do it because she has to or because it makes her popular. She just does it because she enjoys it.

Even though she leaves her laundry on her bathroom floor, her dishes in places they shouldn't be, and her dog needs a bath right now, she really is a good kid, and I am seriously proud of her.


Day 14: Operation Eleanor - Rebirthing Of The Word Bogart

bogart: transitive v. to use or consume without sharing

Today I bogarted the first few minutes of Peanut's therapy appointment. Although, truth be told, it wasn't so much for my personal use as it was for the benefit of our entire family. Yay for awesome therapists! We have a great one.

I can't recommend therapy enough for helping a family through the rough spots or even just as an ongoing resource for learning how to navigate the developmental stages kids go through. With kids who are grieving the loss of a parent, it's a must. As we move toward integrating two families together, it is also important that we have the support of a professional to help us navigate the bumps that we will surely encounter along the way. It's one thing to create a step-family with children of divorce; yet another altogether to create a step-family with children who have lost their parent(s). My kids don't just have a potential fear of their father being replaced because they see another parent here in the house, they might have that fear because their other parent will never return. It makes for a different kind of situation. It doesn't matter that nobody is looking to replace their dad. Amen for professional help along our journey.

So, even though I wasn't super excited about needing to go in for the first few minutes to discuss "issues," I did it. And you know what, I feel a LOT better. Isn't that how therapy usually goes?

Work Ahead

I found a wonderful book that I thought I'd share with those of you who might have grieving children. It's called Guiding Your Child Through Grief by James P. Emswiler and Mary Ann Emswiler. Here's what I like about it: the authors aren't just counselors. They met and married after James lost his 39-year-old wife of 18 years to an unexpected heart attack. He was a young widower of three children. Mary Ann was a single woman who took on raising his three children with him. Together, they founded the New England Center for Loss & Transition and The Cove, a program for grieving children, because there weren't any resources available as they navigated these uncharted waters back in the early 90s. They get it. And they break it down by the developmental stages of the kids, which I really appreciate, because teenagers are not the same as 10-year-olds when it comes to their grief needs. If you're looking for a book that will speak to you in the early days or even a year or more out, this is it. The chapter on step-parenting a grieving child is excellent and I found a lot of comfort in the opening chapter, Will My Child Be Okay?

 

Drunk Kitchens And Hebrew Hammers

Wrapped up a great Friday of doing not much and just enjoying the hell out of it. It was a day spent enjoying my favorite guy and having what might be described as entirely too much fun.

Slept late.

Bagels and coffee in bed as we listened to the rain.

Hot tub time just as the rain let up.

Lovin' and nappin'.

Silly pictures of teenagers being, well, teenagers.

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(It might be hard to believe, but that goofy looking boy made a bechamel sauce for dinner after that ridiculous set of poses. And that girl, along with Peanut, made a delicious batch of brownies.)

Tasty sandwiches from Mr. Pickles. In bed. Because OMG everything is better in bed, especially while watching Ridiculousness and new episodes of Beavis and Butthead.

Taking teenagers to Best Buy. Okay, that part wasn't as much fun as the other parts, but it was pretty fun because we watched key episodes of My Drunk Kitchen during the process, a show which makes me want to cook, eat, and oddly enough, drink.

Started to watch Hebrew Hammer, but got too tired to finish it, so we'll do that another time.

Day 10 & Day 11 Operation Eleanor

I did a thing. I did not write about it in a timely fashion. Oops.

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Rock Band was our family game. Bob played drums. Bug played guitar. I sang. Peanut hovered, sometimes she sang, sometimes she'd play guitar, too. It was really our way to connect with Bug. I haven't played much since Bob died. Last night, I played. We played with Bug.

Today, new fears, new challenges. First, some coffee.

Day 9: Operation Eleanor - Sit With Me

As today was nearing the end, I thought maybe there just wasn't a fear I needed to face. I ran through a list I've been keeping of brainstormed ideas and nothing piqued my interest, much less pulled at me in the way fears do.

Then I curled up in bed and tears came streaming down my cheeks and I knew where I needed to go and what I needed to do. I climbed back out of bed and headed to the living room, curled up in Bob's La-Z-Boy chair and watched stand-up on Comedy Central with Bug. I needed to sit there, in Bob's chair. I needed to be in that space with my son. I needed to sit in the quiet of the night, just the two of us. As much as I would have rather stayed tucked into my bed, wrapped in my boyfriend's arms, crying, that wasn't going to get me over this hump. That wasn't going to rip off this bandaid. 

As I rocked, Bug played a computer game, and together we laughed as we watched Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain work their magic. That familiar leather against my skin wasn't as scary as I though it would be. In fact, I felt a sense of peace. Maybe that place that was always his can gradually become someplace I feel comfortable.

Tiny steps; sitting, one night at a time.

laughter heals

Tools To Get Help You Survive Fall With Kids

Schmoop: This site is an excellent resource for those nights when your thirteen-year-old comes to you after dinner, just before bedtime, and says she needs help with her thesis statement about Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. It's not going to do the work for her, but it WILL help you help her or help her help herself. Also a great resource for other subjects, test prep, and it's put together by smart people from well-respected higher institutes of learning and such.

Crayola Printables: For serious. This site will keep them busy for HOURS. They will have your house decorated for the holidays in no time and learn a few things in the process. There are decorations, games, puzzles, and best of all, it's all FREE. I love free. Free is my language. Oh, and they have more than just stuff for Thanksgiving. Hit them up for birthdays, other holidays, and the four seasons.

Glue Sticks: Buy them in bulk. You will never have enough. You will never be upset you have invested in a metric fuckton. Keep them somewhere accessible. You will need them.

If you can afford it, an iPad or iPhone/iPod touch. SO. MANY. EDUCATIONAL, yet entertaining apps exist. Our kids are entertained any time we give them the opportunity to use these tools. I'll save my favorites apps for another post.

 

 

Uniquely Them: Cooking On The Fly

Bug ate dinner after the rest of us tonight and wanted to cook it himself. He decided to make pasta and asked me for some advice on making the sauce. He was making spaghetti and wanted a cream sauce, maybe a cheese sauce to go with it. He wasn't sure how to start.

I gave him a few tips to get him going, led him to my great grandmother's cast iron pan, the olive oil and crushed garlic, and then watched him take over. He directed me to grab him some white wine, the parmesan cheese and heavy cream, and then I watched as he sniffed spices and herbs, deciding what he'd add and what he'd leave out.

His sister is just as comfortable in the kitchen, but Peanut prefers to cook the same way she prefers to learn. She likes to follow recipes. She likes to know where she's going when she starts her journey in the kitchen. She lays out all of her ingredients before she starts. She likes structure.

Bug doesn't work that way. He works more like me. He wings it. He likes to know the science and the reason why certain things are done, but then he wants to make his own decisions about how the flavors come together, and I have to say, he's typically spot on.

Tonight, he nailed it. A little garlic, a little onion salt and white pepper, some parmesan cheese and heavy cream with olive oil over a plate of spaghetti. Divine!

chef bug