Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rules Are For Parents Too!

Sometimes on a rainy day I take my son to the indoor play area at the mall. He loves it! This particular one is actually in a store space so it is a pretty good size. Immediately when you walk in, there is a convenient area for you to park your stroller and on both sides of the room there is a list of rules. On the list are such requests as, remove your shoes, no running, no children above a certain age/height, and no food or drinks. Now, in general, I'm a rule follower. But, getting small children not to run can be a challenge. There is just too much energy and excitement in those little bodies that needs to come out. I'm happy to remind my little one to "slow down" but I can see how this would be a difficult rule to follow.

The other rules should be more than easy for any adult to follow though. As I look around, I'm one of only two parents in the room that has removed her child's shoes. As I've said in the past, I'm not much of a germaphobe so it doesn't bother me that much that people have not removed their child's shoes. You better believe I would have been pretty annoyed had my child been stepped on and hurt as a result of said un-removed shoes, but I wasn't really too worried about that happening. One thing that did irk me  is the parent drinking a coffee and feeding her child Gogurts in the middle of the play area. I have issue with this for numerous reasons. #1 There is a list of rules posted in two places that clearly states, no food or drinks. As a result I left my coffee on my stroller in the designated stroller area, and simply stared at it longingly while my son played. In addition to the list of rules there are two MORE signs that say, no food or drinks in large print. That makes FOUR places that state that there should be no food or drinks in this area. #2 Do you know how catastrophically messy Gogurt can be? Nine years on lunch duty as a classroom teacher has taught me that an overly vigorous squeeze can send yogurt flying into places there is no way you can reach to clean. #3 It is posted in FOUR places that you should not be eating in there! It's a rule. Maybe its a rule you don't care for or think is necessary, but it's a rule, in a children's play area. If anything, can't you see that this is an excellent opportunity to be teaching your child to follow directions, respect authority, and perhaps even practice a little patience where he might have to *gasp* WAIT to get something that he wants? Did I mention that she also did not have her stroller in the designated area, but it was sitting right in the middle of the play area? Look, I'm not trying to say I've never broken a rule. I'm sure I've even eaten in a place I wasn't supposed to. It just seems to me that as parents when we are given opportunities to teach our children about following rules we should take those moments, no matter how trivial they may seem. Otherwise, little by little those small rules we said are ok to break become bigger and bigger. Now I'm not trying to say that if you break a rule and let your child eat in a child's play area when the sign clearly says not to that later in life your child will become a burglar or an arsonist, but shouldn't we at least try to cover all our bases?

I think that mostly this situation bothered me because it brought back memories of all the students I had over the years that were disrespectful to others or who did not follow directions. As if it's not hard enough to be a teacher and try to cram the entire curriculum into nine months of school all while addressing different learning styles and disabilities, but then we also have to teach the students the manners that they really should've learned at home. Again, it's not the fact that someone was eating where they shouldn't have been that bothered me, it's that some adults think that rules don't apply to them and then they send that message to the children that that is ok.

The goal here is for me to learn something in the everyday, so what did I learn here, other than that I can be easily annoyed? I learned that I want to try hard to follow rules, especially in parenting situations where I may be showing right/wrong to a child. I learned that as hard as I might try it's impossible not to be slightly judgmental of other parents, so that's something for me to work on. And I will also remember that we are ALL a work in progress so hopefully that parent realized that maybe she didn't make the best choice and will do things differently next time....hopefully.

Friday, October 21, 2011

When Life Gives You Apples, Make Apple-Cheddar-Squash Soup

It's Fall, it's raining, and I have a few more apples to use's time to make soup! I found this delicious recipe on We loved it, and then loved it again the next day for lunch.

The Apple Deadline is Approaching

 So many apples, so little time. Literally we were about to leave to go out of town and I needed to use up these apples! Two batches of applesauce barely made a dent. Time to get baking! I found a recipe for apple muffins on I decided to try. They were pretty delicious, especially warmed up in a pan with a little butter.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How 'Bout Them Apples?

It's fall in New England. Time to pick apples! The apple orchard we visited was perfect for young families. Not only was there easy picking, but there was also a bouncy house, mini tractors to ride, and a tiny maze made of barrels of hay. While I was distracted with picking which activity J would do first, my husband convinced me to
purchase the large bag for picking apples. Approximately 50 apples later we were faced with the inevitable question, what are we going to do with all these apples? We made one of my favorite sandwiches, grilled cheese with apples! There are lots of ways you can make this sandwich, butI like to use raisin bread, thinly sliced apples, a little bit of American cheese and a little bit of brie. YUM! Still had 49 apples left though so it was time to get cooking! Applesauce seemed like a good place to start. While I already know the gist of making applesauce, I decided to find a recipe that might give me a little inspiration on spice to add in. I didn't find much.The recipe I made added cinnamon and about 1/2 cup brown sugar. The end result was more of an apple pie filling than an applesauce. My husband and I made little apple pies by putting the warm filling into a mini graham cracker crust and topping with vanilla ice cream. Delicious! Not quite the healthy snack I wanted to feed my one year old though. I decided to try again. This time I skipped the sugar entirely. Here is the recipe I used:

3 lbs apples, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 slices of lemon
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 cup of water

Put all the ingredients in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir often while it's cooking. When the time is up, remove the lemon pieces. You can use an immersion blender or food processor if you want a smooth apple sauce but I prefer a chunky applesauce so I use a potato masher to smash the apples. I decided to freeze some to use later by pouring the applesauce
into ice cube trays. When they are frozen I remove them and store in freezer bags. Still about 30 apples left. Time to find some more cooking inspiration.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Stop Avoiding The Sandbox

I'm not a neat freak, though some days I wish I were. Before my son could eat solid food I swore that I would not allow him to eat in the car. I didn't want to have one of those cars. You know, the car that has two different types of strollers in it, half empty drinks in every cup holder, and cheerios dust spread across the backseat like glitter on a -well let's keep this PG and just say on a 2nd grader's art project. Who was I kidding? I had one of those cars before I even had a kid. At least I'm aware of my mess. I can admit that it exists and that I would indeed like to do something about it. As a result, I often avoid taking my son to playgrounds that have sand. It just gets EVERYWHERE. But what kind of mom would I be if I didn't let my little boy get dirty and dig in the sand? Children need to explore. They need to feel sand to know that the wet stuff is better for building castles. They need to eat a bit to learn that sand does not taste as good as it looks. And they need to rub their face with sand all over their hands to learn that maybe they shouldn't do that next time because it doesn't feel so good. Then what? I still would like to avoid bringing the sandbox into my car or my house. If you've ever tried to brush the sand off you know that is just doesn't work. I recently learned that baby powder is the answer. Apparently the baby powder absorbs the moisture, as it promises to do, and the sand just falls off. Now the real challenge in all of this remembering to pack baby powder in my bag before we leave for the park. As for the cleanliness of the actual sandbox, that's a whole other topic.