23 January 2011

I'll have some more, please! Snow on the Mountain, that is :)

It was quite an experience making this 'Snow'!

There were several steps (a bit time-consuming) as well as several times when I was thinking, "I don't know that this is going to be a hit." But I pressed on ...

First, the cake batter you begin with looks less like cake batter and more like homemade ice cream batter prior to freezing. But, I baked it for the 25 minutes the recipe recommends and then let it cool.

The second step is to cut up bananas and oranges into bite-size pieces - Aubry loved helping with this part. Using a sharp knife at age 7 carries significant steps up the ladder of maturity, you know ;)

Next, you are supposed to break the cooled cake into pieces. This was one of the junctures at which I encountered doubt. The reason being the cake was not completely done in the middle! Crazily so, because a toothpick inserted into the hot cake was clean. And now the cooled cake was a bit gooey?!?!?!?! But, again, I pressed on. Literally. I combined the cake goo/pieces with the fruit and pressed it the bottom-half of a bowl to chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

Post-chill, the cake is turned upside-down on a platter and looks like this:

Then, you whip heavy cream with confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract. Wha-lah: snow!

Two hours later, Hubby and I enjoyed a piece with a glass of wine. It is very tasty! Actually, I completely recommend you try it, especially if you are a fruit-lover!

To snow! The edible kind :)

20 January 2011

Filters & Gardens

One of things I teach my 2nd graders is to use "I-statements". They are developmentally ready to cognitively process the idea that "I-statements" are much stronger than "You ______________." I give them this visual: when we go around, speaking to others with the "You did ________ to me!" or "You always ______________ me!", it is like taking my finger and pointing it at them. I ask them to think of their friends as mirrors. We talk about how the entire function of a mirror is simply to reflect. And when my big "you-finger" is pointing into that mirror, it is really just pointing right back at me! Instead, we practice making I-statements such as "I feel sad when you cut me in line because that is rude." or "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings when I called you 'stupid'."

These two chapters were like mirrors. Mirrors that reflected there are times when I am most definitely using my you-finger rather than my I-statement. Nothing like eating my own words, eh?!

But I'm so grateful. I'm grateful because I have a chance to change my behaviors. More than that, it is my responsibility to do so. Here's a few thoughts about Chapters Two and Three:

Truth matters. Realizing that my interpretation of truth depends on my belief about what I can control is vital. I am inevitably going to have my mom and dad's voice in my head. I am always going to remember how it felt to be a child in their home. But my responsibility is take the initiative to control myself and thus create the environment I want my children to have, not just a reincarnation of what I experienced. "The ability to manage yourself and your children towards the goals that you have in being a parent rests in the ability to tell yourself what to do and do it no matter what they've done or are doing." (p. 80) I wrote in the margins of Chapter Two, "Knowing how I want to respond and doing it are two separate entities at times!". In other words, my filter better be working at all times. Sometimes I just need to zip it and think!

My children are my garden. I have 3 goals for them:
1) to have healthy relationships;
2) to be able to set healthy limits for themselves; and
3) to value a strong connection with their parents and siblings.

Thus, I have 3 goals don't I?!

1) I will act and react in a healthy way, despite their behavior and choices.
2) I will model healthy limits for self, as well as give them healthy choices and consequences from which to choose.
3) I will highly value my connection to them physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

The practical piece Silk recommends (and that I plan to begin to implement immediately!) is fall-back phrases; a few default responses I can use when they have hit my disrespect button or are demanding my attention by performing negatively. (And believe-you-me, I need these!) Nothings gets my blood pumping faster than disrespect.

I know.
I don't know.
Probably so.
Oh no!
No problem.
That could be.
Nice try.

I'm picturing these phrases as compost for my 'garden'. I am willing to take a risk on this fertilizer as a means for which my home will have even greater peace and joy and self-control and love. Gal 5:22, 23

Snow on the Mountain

We just had 9" of snow fall on us in Kansas City!

This makes it an ever-so appropriate time to choose my January recipe-of-the-month. My sister, my mom, and I are continuing our baking together concept of Fall 2010 with a twist: we choose a theme for the month, each choose a different recipe to make, and then share our thoughts about! January's theme: snow.

My pick? http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Snow-on-the-Mountain/Detail.aspx

It's a fruit-filled cake with whipped cream frosting! I'm excited to share how it turns out. Anyone is welcome to join us! Just let us know when you do and what you thought of your recipe :)

Also, stay-tuned for my next installment about "Loving Our Kids On Purpose" by Danny Silk. It's continuing to be a great read!

12 January 2011

"Loving Our Kids On Purpose" - Control v. Freedom

One of my goals for 2011 is to read 40+ books! My husband and I also make mutual goals each year. Coincidentally, we decided to read 3 books together, "Loving Our Kids On Purpose" by Danny Silk being one of them. Doubly worthy of blogging about, I'd say :) In processing and applying the tenants of the book, I thought it would be helpful to organize my thoughts in a way I could review them as often as needed (I'm pretty thick-headed at times!). I also am passionate about sharing my life experiences in order to impact others for good. What better way than to blog as I go?!

Chapter One thoughts:

The book has quite a lengthy introduction ("foreward", "preface", AND "introduction"!) and is followed by four chapters of approximately 30 pages each. I am intrigued by several points Mr. Silk had made so far.

Chapter One is entitled "The Heart of the Matter". It is truly reflective of the content. Early in the chapter he states, "Until our children can learn to deal with what is going on inside of them, they simply cannot learn to manage freedom." Freedom is truly the theme of this section. He gives a great example of something he and his wife employed as a parenting technique when their two boys were 6 and 4 years of age. They shared a room, and had begun a power struggle at bedtime, of course resisting the event. They decided to begin the "Room Time" concept in which they said, "It's room time. I don't want to see you or hear you until morning." The boys thought they had it made! After all, they didn't say they had to go to bed :) So they run off to their room and after only a couple minutes, they can hear them wrestling around. So Dad opens the door and says, "I can hear you!" The excuses start flying so he questions them: "Are you tired?" "Nah!" He proceeds to give them each a simple chore they must complete. This of course is completely deflating. After they struggle through a 2-min chore for 15 mins, he asks again, "Are you tired?" "Oh, yes. Yes, we're tired." Off to bed they go. Next night, same routine. When he asks this time, "Are you tired?" "Oh yes, yes we're tired!" Off to bed they went, learning already. Skip ahead about 10 years; older sister moves out and now the boys have their own room. As usual, room time is announced. Without Dad noticing, the boys head to the same room. After a few minutes, he hears them crashing around in the room. He yells from the couch, "Are you boys tired?" Within seconds, he hears two doors open and shut.

The subconscious is a powerful thing! And even more powerful: when children realize they have a choice. That they always have a choice: to exercise their own self-control - their freedom! - or to do something really dumb. Both have consequences. One is desirable. The other, not so much.

For me, this chapter reminded me that I have a huge responsibility as a parent to have my own inner house in order. That I need to process my own experiences as a child - what I experienced as 'parenting' - and be diligent about choosing what I want to carry forward and, even more so, what I don't want to bring forward into my parenting style. It also reminded that children want love. That love is the basic ingredient they want most. They want to be assured that they are loved no matter the mistakes they make or the disappointment they see in our eyes.

And I will wrestle with that. I know because I already have. My childhood memories of correction and discipline don't include the love message therefore when my children are disobedient or make disappointing decisions, I can be quick to correct rather than lovingly discipline them.

My take-away? Parenting is the biggest, most important job on the planet. Not an earth-shattering realization. But it is something I want to remember. Every day.

I'll leave you with this quote from the book:

"God has put a design and destiny within our children ... As parents, our goal is really to introduce our children to relationship with God by doing our best to relate to them like God does ... Honor brings power to relationships and the individuals in those relationships ... One of the primary ways we show honor to one another is by sharing power and control ... Loving on purpose means that we learn to let perfect love cast out all fear." -- Danny Silk

I encourage you: if this reflection got your attention on any level, go grab a copy of the book! Amazon has it for about $11 right now. You won't be disappointed.

Meanwhile, let me know your thoughts:

What have been your struggles/challenges with giving your child(ren) freedom?
(If you're not yet a parent, what do you imagine will be your struggle/challenge?)