It’s fitting that I’ve been asked to write a post on squabbling sibs.  That’s how this whole thing started, after all – my children were fighting with each other, so I turned to my personal heroes, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, and pulled out their book, Siblings Without Rivalry, and made a cocky joke to a group of friends that soon put me in my humble place.  And now, forced to put my money where my mouth is, I have to write on the very subject I turned to help for in the first place.  Ha, Universe.  Ha, ha!

I think that’s an important thing for parents to know, though.  No one else, not even the parenting gurus who give all the answers (you know, like me… evidently), actually has all the answers.  But you, knowing your family the way you do, ultimately, you do.  Sometimes you just need help…

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Anti-Supernanny’s thoughts on spirited 5 year old girls


Q: I need some gentle parenting advice from you, lady: My five-year-old daughter is willful, needs to test boundaries and be snotty. How do I react to bad behaviour (i.e. snotty faces, mean words, lashing out at sissy or folks) and create consequences? I react, get mad, doesn’t work.  I am working on “Rewind. What’s a better choice right here?” This is having modestly better results. Oh, Anti-SuperNanny, what is another path I could take here???
Yours Truly,
Lady Mama With a Temper.

A:  This is a fascinating subject for me!  I’ve heard, so many times, that five-year-old girls are among the most challenging children to be around.  It seems that around the age of 5, they find their voices, but lack a filter, tact, and decorum!  I’ve often wondered why people don’t make similar observations about boys at any age.  Is it because girls are perceived to be…

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Today is the greatest

Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known. Can’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow’s much too long. “Today”, by Smashing Pumpkins

I open my eyes every morning, amazed at the newness of it all. So fresh and clean, pregnant with potential – the world is mine to do with what I will. Today is no different.

I could choose to focus on petty disappointments, not to see the beauty I’m wrapped up in. That seems wasteful abuse of abundant gifts, however, so I opt out of disappointment.

I woke a full hour-point-five before I intended to. I tried to go back to sleep, but the house had already begun to stir: the Missus home from work armed with breakfast and two kinds of coffee, sat at my side and regaled me with her night. Just as she informed me that the kids were trying to sleep in, but JJ was feeling sick and “hot-and-cold” again, who should come slumping into our room looking for snuggles but JJ herself? Of course we obliged. How can I say no to cuddling my girls first thing? A short while later, Missus and I went outside. The crisp morning air, smelling of fresh earth and newness, did more for me than those two cups of coffee ever could. Missus stretched out her arm gesturing across the yard to our left at a cute baby cardinal. A cute, round, hoppy baby cardinal that I nearly missed because I had made a discovery of my own: a hummingbird. And where there is one….

One of the most fabulous things about hummingbirds and cardinals alike: they’re creatures of habit. Year after year, they come back to the same place, the fly the same path. They’re good neighbors. I like to think they remember all the kindnesses we do for them, and that’s why they stick around.

Both birds also hold a special piece of my heart. My late grandfather was fond of birds in general, and especially cardinals and hummingbirds. Cardinals remind me of Papa, but hummingbirds – there are times when I feel they must be his messengers. A hummingbird kissed my daughter when she was 4 months old. Those things don’t just happen.

I think its important to remember people who’ve been special to us at every opportunity. I think when we carry on with our lives passionately – as though we live for them, also – and put to use the lessons they’ve taught us, we pay the ultimate tribute. When we tell their stories and speak their names every day, we honor their memories.

I think when we set aside a special day for remembering those who’ve passed, especially in tragic events such as 9/11, we run the risk of being lazy. We will never forget – one day of the year. We also take the chance that our once-positive intent to honor and remember will get lost in the tumult of everyone else’s honoring and remembering. We cry longer and louder, we set up bigger and flashier events, we turn to political discussions and arguments – and we forget the people.

Ten years ago today, I couldn’t stop thinking about the people. I walked into my classroom, and my coworker asked if I had heard. He gestured to the television in time for me to see the second crash happen. I spent the day and night wondering how much pain a soul has to be in to hijack and crash a jet, what the terror must have been like for the passengers on those flights, how much confusion and fear must have been felt in those towers. And the children. The children there, the ones who’d lost family, and the ones in my classroom. How could anybody wver explain to them what was happening?

Now I have my own kids, and I still haven’t figured it out. How do you tell kids that scary things like that happen, but monsters aren’t really real?

I am all for remembering and honoring, and I intend to do just that today – same as every day. I will leave the sackcloth and ashes to my ancestors, because today is the greatest day, and tomorrow is much too long. I have a hummingbird garden to put in, and a sick girl to cuddle.

I will live my life for those who can’t.

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JuanaBee Takes on the Machine!

Oh, how I’ve missed this! When I last posted, I was in the process of moving and transitioning into a different sort of domestic existence. Now I’m all settled in, and thanks to my daily routine, I don’t spend much time on the computer at all.this has been amazing for my soul, and it’s also inspired me to think about ways to restructure this blog. Expect some changes, dear readers!

Today, I made a discovery so simple, and yet so astounding, I wanted to shout from the mountaintops. See, I’ve been trying like the dickens to figure out why, no matter WHAT I do, my towels consistently smell like mildew. All my usual mildew-busters – vinegar, baking soda, heat, etc. – have really been letting me down. A quick google search this morning showed me why: I have been treating my laundry, assuming the culprit was somewhere therein; it is not my towels alone harboring the musty-smelling stuff, it’s the machine. Our washer came with our new house, which had been left uninhabited for a period of time before we moved in. When I did our first load of laundry, I was prepared for rusty pipes, and ran an empty cycle accordingly. I never stopped to think about mold or mildew in the machine!

I now have a plan of attack. Today, I am running another empty cycle, with 2 cups of vinegar, a substantial amount of baking soda, and a bit of bleach. I will also continue with my baking soda and vinegar laundry treatment. I WILL HAVE NICE_SMELLING TOWELS AGAIN, DAMN IT!

Next time we talk, remind me to tell you of my battles with brambles, and the tree of heaven.

UPDATE: It is now 9:23 p.m., and I have washed two loads of laundry since treating my washer. It appears (knock on wood) that I have been successful! Imagine that!

Happy cleaning!

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Quick Question for the Yarn Enthusiasts

Not much time for a post, but I’m on a quest, a mission. The Missus has been after me to make her a blanket for some time (months, really), and I thought, “Ok, I’ll make her a really awesome one, all inspiration, no pattern….” And now, here we are, in the summer, 6 months after she initially asked, and there’s not more than 4 rows stitched.


So we went to The Dusty Bookshelf, which is THE coolest bookstore in Lawrence, complete with stacks of books and cats and a kids’ room, and I picked out a book with some patterns she liked. I’m hoping that working from a pattern will help me stick to the project a little better.

Alas, there’s a caveat. I had her pick out what kind of yarn and the colors last night. She has really sensitive skin and things make her itch, and, well, who doesn’t want to be wrapped in silk at night? She definitely does. I need about 3,700 yards of yarn in baby/worsted weight, and two different colors (approx 3k yds color A, and 700 yds color B). I’m adapting a pattern, at that, so this is a little bit of guesswork. I’m estimating, and I’m estimating on the end of more yarn. On the high end, it’s looking like I’m going to have to spend about $400 on the silk-bamboo yarn it’s going to take to make this beautiful blanket. I’m going to need roughly about 21 skeins of 220 yds each. Ish.

I told her this was going to be my wedding present to her. That once I get started on this, she’s really, truly stuck with me for life, and when it’s done, I’m holding it hostage until we head out for the honeymoon. Holy hell. $400?!

I love her, I’ll do it (I don’t know how), I’ll sell kidneys to make it happen – but first – I have to know: Is there an easier way?!

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J.J.’s Big Idea

J.J. has been busy. She’s crazy about packing boxes and dusting everything in sight, and in her downtime, she’s sitting her mother down to make flash cards so she can learn to read.

Last week, we were walking around downtown, and she pointed at a sign (a little different from the typical), and said, “Mama, that says ‘Open.'” Since it wasn’t your standard “Open” sign and it wasn’t in a place we often frequented, I was fairly impressed. Last night, as we were reading Sandra Boynton’s “Blue Hat, Green Hat,” she was following the words with her fingers, and I could tell she was actually working on recognizing cues aside from just pictures. I commented to that effect, and she said, “I know! Let’s put the words from the book on flashcards! We’ll do it first thing in the morning!”

She was nice enough to let me have my coffee, first.

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By popular demand – recipes!

Some of my readers have been asking for recipes for a while, and I have not obliged them. I’m a terrible blogger.

Actually, I’m a terrible photographer and recipe-writer-downer. I’ve been waiting to post a recipe to a fantastic dish that I have created and photographed in all its arranged and well-lit glory. Children don’t seem to understand that…. they see the food all plated up and piping hot, and for some reason, they think it’s time to eat. ::shrugs::

I also don’t really follow recipes, so much as I use them as loose foundations to build upon. And I don’t write them down ever, which I should, because every now and then, I make something that’s a huge hit, and I can’t replicate it because, well… there’s no documentation. I can’t repeat my genius!

This morning was one such hit, BUT it was so simple and easy, I can still remember enough to write it down this afternoon, and share with my lovely readers.

They were gone before I could even think of pictures, though.

Cream-Cheese and Berry Filled Crepes
You will need:
cream cheese

1 1/2 c fruit
2T sugar

1 c flour (whole wheat all purpose)
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/2 c warm water
1/4 t salt

powdered sugar

peeled frozen banana (opt)
cinnamon (opt)

-Before you do anything, set your cream cheese out to soften, or nuke it for a minute.

Fruit Filling: (*see note below) You’ll want to start this before you cook your crepes because you want the fruit to cook down into a syrupy, sweet mess. I used berries, but apples, bananas, peaches, and pears work nicely too. Play around with it. Remember – the more water content in the fruit itself, the less cooking water you’ll need.

1 1/2 c fruit
water – enough to cover the bottom of the skillet
2 T of sugar

-Bring the fruit and water to a rolling boil on med-high heat.
-Add sugar
-Cook down til syrupy (about 20 min), stirring periodically.

Crepes While the fruit is cooking down, start your crepes.

1 c flour (whole wheat all purpose is what I used)
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/2 c warm water
2 T melted butter
1/4 t salt

-Heat skillet on med-high
-Beat eggs in a small bowl
-In medium mixing bowl, beat eggs and flour together
-Gradually add milk while mixing
-Add warm water, melted butter, and salt; blend thoroughly.
-Lightly oil the skillet as needed (mine dry out quick, so it was after every crepe)
-Pour about 1/4 c of crepe mix into skillet, tilting skillet so that crepe covers entire bottom of the pan.
-Watch for the edges of the crepe to start pulling away from the pan (just a couple of minutes). Use your spatula to GENTLY and patiently loosen the crepe from the bottom. Flip, and cook on the other side. Watch carefully, the second side doesn’t take as long as the first.

Lather, rinse, repeat until all your crepe mix is used up and you have a bunch of yummy crepes.

Crepe Assembly: By now you shoulda somehow realized what you got to do. I’m sorry, that wasn’t what I wanted to say. I meant that by now, your fruit should be good and cooked down. Go ahead and remove it from heat.

-Using your butterknife, spread some of that softened cream cheese from earlier across the inside of the crepe.
-Spoon about 1/4 c of fruit into the crepe.
-Wrap crepe, and sprinkle with powdered sugar

Optional: Frozen Banana Puree
If you happen to have a banana in the freezer (who doesn’t?), make sure that it is peeled and coarsely chopped, and toss it into the blender with about 1/2 T of milk. (Add a touch more if needed). Puree, spoon onto the plate next to the crepe, top with cinnamon, and enjoy. If you happen to be eating a blueberry crepe, the banana makes a nice foil.

Happy breakfasting!

*Note: I usually prefer fresh fruit, but I have a bunch of berries that were frozen some time ago that I need to use – this got a bunch of them out. Fresh fruit, I wouldn’t necessarily even bother cooking down (nor would I necessarily not), but frozen fruit, absolutely.

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