Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reach For The Sky

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Temperamentally Yours

Following H's four-year check-up yesterday where I had a tearful moment after H spent the better half of the time I was trying to converse with the doctor enamoured with the crinkling sound of the exam table paper, I dusted off my copy of Temperament Tools: Working With Your Child's Inborn Traits.

Yes, I cried at the doctor's office. I cried because I'm tired of looking like she who cannot control her offspring. I cried because I'm terrified that my kid who couldn't sit still for three seconds during the appointment will be labeled as ADHD, ODD, ADD or whatever other thing I don't think he is. Lastly, I cried because laughing just didn't fit the bill. (see intensity of emotions below, maybe that's why we butt heads) Never fear, H didn't even notice because he was too busy with his symphony o' scratchy noises on the exam table.


I'm not saying I broke down, but the voice got quivery and my eyes welled with tears. I love our pediatrician, and he was very reassuring that he wasn't seeing anything that was concerning; H was behaving like a four-year old boy in a new situation and I was correcting him appropriately. Given that H is adapting so well to preschool and listening well there, that is a more important indicator than how they act in a 30 minute appointment. A fact that my rational self knows, but my perfect parenting self does not. He asked at that point why I was being so hard on myself. I explained then what has been dawning on me more and more; I don't have anything to 'show' for my 'work' anymore except how my kids turn out. He said "Well, then you're getting an A! H is great He's fine."


Emotional crisis averted, I asked him to check H's foreskin because I didn't think it had retracted yet, and it's not exactly easy to check at home. Yes, I'm going there, and you'll see why. Sure enough, still stubbornly in place. He said that he wasn't concerned, but that if it wasn't retracted by the time he was around 8, but definintely by puberty, that I could go see a urologist. I dumbly asked "And what will they do?" Yep, you guessed it, a circumcision.


I just let my head drop back. "Awesome, we chose not to do it when he was an infant because we didn't want to do something that would cause unnecessary pain, and now he might have to do it when he's eight?!" Doctor: "There you go being hard on yourself again! You made a good decision when he was born, and it's most likely that this will resolve itself. It's not medically necessary at birth."


Sweet. If you want your son to stop liking you, I've got an idea, make a decision for him at birth that causes him to have penis surgery when he's about to enter puberty! Here I thought baptizing our infants into the Catholic faith would cause controversy later. Oh no, no, we'll go ahead and one up that with pain in the here and now. But enough about that.


Back to Temperament Tools. Tired of constantly going to bed at night thinking of what I should have done better, questioning why I said that and promising that tomorrow would be a better day where I didn't let my four year-old wind me up only to repeat said routine, I realized that this just wasn't a battle of the wills I was winning.


So I got a pen this time, instead of just trying to mentally picture my scores as I went and I began marking the x's where both H and Charlie fall on the temperament traits of Activity, Adaptability, Approach to New Things, Frustration Reaction, Intensity of Emotions, Mood, Regularity and Sensitivity.


When I reached the end, I read the brief descriptions of the behaviors that go with certain 'temperament clusters' and was having a hard time finding which of the last three to pick. Then I saw "This high-energy child has many of the behaviors of the previous three. If you are therefore having trouble deciding which chapter to pick, turn first to page 117." Okay...turning pages, turning pages...then (because all the temperament examples are named after animals) 'The Bear Cub Combo";


Imagine the darting speed of a bird combined with the intesity of a prowling tiger and the powerful determination of a whale. When the temperaments of BeiLing Bluebird, Tiganda Tiger and Walocka Whale all combine in one small body, the result is the Olympic Challenge of Parenting.


You don't say!


The book then moves on to talk about learning styles, parenting tips and common behavioral issues. I have to say, as I was reading the three chapters of the animals that combine to make the temperament most like H's, the more disturbing or truly hard characteristics did not describe him. It's amazing how arming yourself with more information can suddenly turn "What the hell?! How am I this horrible a parent, and where did this ferral child come from?!" into "Oh, H isn't anywhere near that bad!" It's all relative, folks.


Learning about temperament is important to me, because I feel like the one thing I'm always so concerned about is smothering his spirit. Providing examples of effective discipline for each temperament-style, it's certainly not a book that just wants parents to let their children be free as a bird, but instead to incorporate all personalities and temperaments into a harmonious family, and not letting the intensity of one child, or your fear of their reaction to something rule the roost.


J had commented a couple times how H and I just wind each other up. Sure enough (in the Tiganda Tiger example); Intensity fuels intensity. When Mom yells, "Stop that!" or, "Be quiet!" or spanks Tiganda for hitting another child, Tiganda's intensity rises even higher. Which makes the kiddo less flexible, which makes mama mad, and the circle of strife continues.


Aparrently remaining calm will allow you to take control of the situation more effectively than flapping your arms around as you direct, demand and shout in loud tones. Oh, and probably having a non-neurotic parent helps out as well. Who knew?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Food For Thought

When J and I made the decision that I'd stay at home with the kids, well it was just H when we made that decision, for the duration of his residency I had delusions of lazy days, 1950's home-maker skills that I thought may have just been laying dormant and a craft each afternoon. It didn't take long for my Betty Crocker bubble to burst, but it also didn't take long for H and I to find a rhythm to our days that allowed me to start enjoying the room in the home that had long been foreign to me...the kitchen.

Prior to our move East, J did most of the cooking because he enjoyed it, and I just really didn't have the desire to make a meal at the end of the day. My job was emotionally exhausting and often required many, many hours of overtime in order to get a decent night's rest, knowing you'd done what you could to ensure safety that day....it didn't leave room for much more than a vacant stare at the wall for about 20 minutes when I first got home.


There were days that I'd get off at 6pm, J was still on a rotation somewhere, and since the daycare was just across the street I'd wait until 6:30 (which was the latest I could pick H up) so that I'd have that half-hour to just be before I had to be mama and wife.


Flash forward to now when I get excited about the new recipes I'm going to try, bread I've just baked and jam I made and we've come a long way, baby. Add in an overall increased awareness of health-conscious meals and my impact on my kids' future eating habits, and I've already started planning my dream kitchen.


One thing I've noticed is that I have to be doubly careful in my planning now that I've started buying more organic produce, especially those on the Dirty Dozen list. For us, cost is absolutely a factor in our grocery shopping, so we won't be going to Whole Paycheck anytime soon; I could get lost in there for hours and spend, well, our whole paycheck. There are a lot of things for the budget-minded that don't need to be organic; bananas, avocados, onions and corn to name a few as they don't contain pesticide residue, generally. But an example of a group we've chosen to shell out for is wild caught fish and sea-food (think salmon that is a natural shade of pink ;)).


However, to get back on point, the produce that is organic I've found to be ready to go within the first few days of purchase. So plan your work and work your plan, or you've doubly 'wasted' money when you have to throw out the bad produce that you spent your hard-earned schuckles on.


That said, I've found so many farmer's markets in our area as well as a local grocery chain that carries a lot of locally grown produce. While I try to do a big shop for staples at BJ's or Price Chopper, I do make a weekly run for produce to Roche Bros, because they just have beautiful produce and generally have great prices. Shopping the exterior of the store, in general is what you should aim for. Aside from flour and baking staples, the exterior rim of the store is where you'll find that you should be spending the bulk of your grocery dollars; dairy, meat, seafood, limited bakery and produce. The aisles are full of processed foods and general traps that are so easy to fall in, especially if you've got a sweet tooth like me, or are hungry when you shop.


A lot of farmer's markets are now accepting food stamps and EBT cards, which I think is just fabulous. The Central Community Branch YMCA in Worcester holds a weekly market on Saturdays from June to October and they DOUBLE food stamp values.


If we continue to have healthful options that stretch food dollars that are already scarce, we could be making the small steps it will take to curb child-hood obesity. Now, if I could just get H to see that Hot Dogs and Chicken Nuggets are not an actual food group...and Ketchup does not count as his veggie for the day.
*The photo is of Spicy Sweet Potato Soup using a dollop of plain non-fat yogurt in the place of sour cream...such a great fall recipe! Thanks Portlandia>

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Go Nuts! Or Not.

Today was H's first day of pre-school. Yep, after much back and forth, a particularly rough week was followed by the fortuitous placement of a poster advertising openings at the YMCA pre-school.

The fact that uber-frugal J didn't bat an eyelash when I told him about it, and that I'd like to send H asap means that everyone had begun to notice my mounting frustration with my lack of ability to sufficiently entertain/busy the kiddos; even though I felt like I was running myself ragged from Farmland to Seashore and back again to do so.


After visiting the school and paying the insanely low registration fee of $25, my next stop was at the pediatrician's office to sweet talk the receptionist into giving me written proof, on the spot, that H doesn't have rabies, and won't give them to any of the other kids.


As I went through the packet from the school, I realized that some of H's staples were nixed from the list of foods that could be sent with his lunches, foremost being peanut butter and peanut products. Some of the others surprised me...no raw carrots, even if they're cut up. No grapes that haven't been quartered. Really? He's been eating whole grapes for over two years now.


No popcorn...there goes the snack bag of Smartfood that would be a treat for him. Hmmm...the list was getting shorter. I know! Pretzels! Whenever he sees other kids that have pretzels, he always mooches some...nope, guess that one's a no-no as well according to new federal regulations regarding choking hazard food items in schools.


About to face defeat, I remembered that my friend who has a child with multiple allergies talked about sunbutter (made from sunflower seeds and actually quite tasty), so I put it on my list. Did you know that most grocery stores charge around ten dollars for a jar of sun or almond butter? Thank God for Trader Joe's, where it can be yours for the low, low price of $3.99 (which I snapped up before picking him up today, because why would I plan ahead and buy it before school started?)


So, after I felt like I had all the rules, regulations and expectations down pat, I packed H's lunch last night. As J was drifting off last night, I casually mentioned that I was buying sun butter and he was not to eat it, because it was just for school lunches. "What's sun butter?" was the response. I explained the peanut-free facility concept and his eyes snapped open. I could feel the snide remarks coming...welcome to parenting in the Third Millennium, J.*


*I know, I know...we'd feel a whole lot differently about this if our children weren't hearty German/Swedish kids who don't seem to be negatively affected by any food groups other than too many blueberries (a whole other post).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

PSA: Child Safety Seats

Please read this post over at Literal Dan re: National Seat Check Saturday. I've seen a lot of jacked up carseat installations, and an improperly installed carseat can be just as dangerous sometimes as no carseat at all.

Like Mike

In honor of MJ's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame

Kate...all by herself...

Your morning dose of humor...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Like a Horse and Carriage...Sort of...

Since my jam session turned out so well, I've decided I'll do two more canning projects; applesauce and diced tomatoes...two things we go through pretty consistently here. Like the potato masher I realized I was lacking when it came time to gather supplies for jam, I realized I don't have that little serrated thing-y that removes the tops from tomatoes (aparrently it's called a shark?) So I went to amazon, because it's my go-to site with all the giftcards I have and found the perfect tool. Now I'll also be able to create those hollowed out watermelons that look like a basket! (Kidding, I won't ever actually do that.) But, imagine my surprise when Amazon prompted me to purchase the additional 'frequently paired' item:

"Frequently Bought Together: Customers buy this item with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Widescreen Edition) DVD ~ Daniel Radcliffe

+

Price For Both: $18.48 "


Really? Are Harry Potter sales doing that poorly now? Or are HP fans also crazy melon baller/tomato sharkers?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy


I hope that if you didn't get to see the speech, you'll take the time to watch it; either here, on youTube, or the multitude of other places it's bound to wind up. The only thing I cut out was the applause at the beginning.

In an age when information is at our fingertips, it's always a little alarming to see how many people choose to comment on, and get riled up about, something that they've not yet seen or heard from the horse's mouth so to speak. As a student of history I remember my lessons well; I value primary sources as the go-to, then I move on to secondary sources to get perspective (i.e. the political pundits and newcasters, bloggers like myself and the guys you blab with at the coffee shop who saw it for themselves).

An informed public is what, as J reminded me, makes a democracy successful. Arm yourselves with knowledge and then, if you still feel the same way you did, argue to your heart's delight.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jam Session

All supplies were finally gathered, and this girl made three batches of jam, leaving my heaving freezer finally relieved of it's burden o' berries.

The first was last night with my friend Alex, who narrowly escaped arrest on the way to my house. I am not exaggerating. Aparrently she and her husband made the minor oversight of neglecting to renew the registration on their car...for three months...which, in the Commonwealth, generally comes with an automatic trip to the pokey and an impounded car. Seeing as how she has an impeccable record and her big night out was to make jam; a fact which the officer duly noted, she was let go with the understanding that he would be alerting every officer in our town that if she were seen driving again prior to renewal...To the Moom, Alice!

So following a detour back home to get her husband's car, she arrived in one piece and we got smashed. Or the berries did anyhow. So crisis, and several hundred dollars in fines, averted, we commenced.

Here's all you need to make some really good berries into even better jam:

A large saucepan, two bowls/platters; one to measure your sugar into and one to smash the berries in, potato masher or blender (on CHOP not puree...I far prefer the potato masher), Jelly Jars with lids and rings, Wide mouth funnel, jar lifter, large pot with rack to keep jars from the bottom (I got mine from a hardware store...it's a boiling water bath canner), wooden spoons or spatulas, berries, SureJell (I used low-sugar for two batches and regular for one; the bowl o' sugar is the full-force one...and it also uses less fruit, sadly) tiny amount of butter or margerine (to help reduce foam) and a s*&$load of sugar. For the full sugar version, I actually had to switch over to my big soup pot or it would have boiled over.









If it's handy, you can also use your child's muscles to smash the berries...I employed this method on the second batch this morning.








Jars in the boiling water bath...process for about 10 minutes



Lined up like Pretty Maids All In a Row

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How Do You Like Them Cookies?

I keep putting off this post, not because I don't want to write it, but because I keep having 'just one more thing' to add. The first time I saw a cookie from Wicked Good, it was when my friend Michele won a photography contest and part of the prize was her picture made into photo cookies by Wicked Good Cookies. It was leaning against her counter and I thought it was a tile because it was so precise and clean. She was so happy with the results that she took the stamped image for her daughter's birthday invitation and they printed it onto cookies that she used for party favors.


That was the best idea! No more bags of kitschy crap for the parents to toss when they get home, just delicious sugar cookies. Oh, did I mention that they not only look good, but they taste good as well? I don't know about you, but I really like sugar cookies and am usually disappointed when I bite into one to find that they're either hard, stale, or just don't taste good. I guess they didn't name themselves Wicked Good for naught.

I told another friend about the party favor, and she thought it was grand as well, and did it for her son's birthday party. (Really, it's just a ploy by me to score more sugar cookies but no harm, no foul, right?!)

That was at the beginning of the summer, and before I knew it, it was August and H's fourth birthday party was looming. I was going to be supermom and do it all myself. I had planned to make several different shapes of sugar cookies, frost them, and put them in cute decorative bags for the favors. This was in addition to making cupcakes and arranging and frosting them into the shape of a cow since we were having the party at Davis Farmland. Are you laughing yet? Have you seen the counter space that I have? There is NO WAY that I'd be able to leave the cookies overnight to let the icing harden enough to package them. It would have been a sad mess of unrecognizable sugar blobs in a plastic bag. I can just see the frozen smiles on the parent's faces; Thanks! Thanks for the great party favor! So glad we could make it!


Then providence shone upon me. Boston Mamas was smack in the middle of celebrating their third birthday and had a giveaway for two dozen photo cookies from Wicked Good and I won! I never win, so this was a huge coup!


Oh, did I mention this was two days from H's party that I won? The message from Boston Mamas clearly said that the folks at Wicked Good would contact me, but of course I contacted them first. Because I'm cool like that. I half-joking (not really) asked if they'd be able to whip those cookies out in a couple days in time to use them as party favors.


You know what? They contacted me back the same day graciously saying no problemo, and they were even going to ship them to me! Since Wicked Good is conveniently located between my house and Davis Farmland on Route 140 in Boylston, I asked if I could pick them up on the way...I wanted to lessen the chance that they'd get smashed, eaten or otherwise ruined before the party.


It was the easiest party I've ever done. I loaded up the cupcakes (in the carrier, not in the shape of a cow), picked up the pizzas from Monti's in Northboro then headed up 140 to Wicked Good. The cookies looked fabulous! They were wrapped and tied with ribbon; all I had to do was hand them out! They are reasonably priced, and the customer service is excellent.

I was all ready to do a post, but then I remembered that they have a cookie clubhouse where you can bring the kids in to decorate and bake their own creations. I mentioned it to one of my mama friends and she said "Duh! We're going in just a couple weeks!" Sure enough, it was on my calendar...so I knew I had to wait to post.

Ridiculously reasonably priced at $12.95/batch (or slab o' dough), the sugar-me-silly option allows kids to roll-out dough, cut out their own cookies with tons of cookie cutter options, and then go to town with colored sugar (exponentially less messy than frosting). While you're waiting for the cookies to bake, they each get to decorate their own bakery boxes. (The photo shown is about half the number of cookies he was able to make.)






The staff was really friendly, and each detail is well thought out, so that there isn't a lot of lag time for shenanigans with silly chillins. They kept about twenty kids entertained and busy for almost 2 hours...enough said.


Right now, they're running a great back to school special, where you get a free dozen gourmet cookies with any Back-to-School Gift purchase (use code BTS). What a fun way to ring in the new school year! I highly encourage you to drop in a decorate some cookies, or buy them pre-made for your next event. They have a huge range of designs or you can use a photo of your own. Perhaps most importantly, in a time of economic turmoil that is hard on small businesses, you're supporting a family-run local business...that's Wicked Good of you.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty!

J and I are headed to a wedding in Vermont tomorrow and, thanks to the generous offer of friends, the kids are stayin' behind!

It struck me a couple of days ago that I really haven't dressed up for a formal occasion since we moved here. Wait...didn't I give away a bunch of my dresses? And donate the rest?


Awesome. For a lot of women, having an excuse to go to the mall to buy a new outfit is music to their ears. I know it used to make me feel all warm and fuzzy...about 60 pounds ago it did, anyhow.


I have always been able to put really great outfits together, but (and I know I've expressed this on here before) it's long been a frustration to me that I get it on my plus-sized figure and it just... does not look how it did on my cute size 4 friend (you know who you are, beyotch!)


So, to have only two days to either find the perfect cardigan or wrap that would go with one of my two remaining (strapless) dresses or a new dress that would fit the criteria of outdoor, formal, early fall wedding...I was feeling like it may be a lost cause and I'd have to look a little frumptastic, bare shoulders and all.


I walked into Lane Bryant after H promised he'd behave so that he'd earn his chocolate milk at Starbucks, and immediately saw a cute fall silk dress. Okay...my coiled stomach started to unravel as I realized I'd have selection.


I ruefully confessed to the saleswoman that I had a wedding to attend and hadn't dressed up since prior to the birth of Charlie. When I said that I stopped for a second...that can't be right. I haven't had a formal event to which I've worn a dress for over a year? Longer, actually, because I would have been in maternity just prior to that. Wow, that's a little pathetic!


She pulled several dresses, and I (along with my entourage) went into a fitting room. I explained to H that he could not mess with the door handle as I'd be naked, and it would be embarrassing to me if he opened the door. He asked why I wanted a dress, and I said because I wanted to be pretty.


I slipped on the first dress, and as the fabric fell over my head and pooled around my body I opened my eyes slowly in order to soften the blow that always is; my body with all it's flaws highlighted by the nasty lighting of the dressing room. H exclaimed, "You look pretty!" Nothing like a four year-old's enthusiasm to make you look at yourself in a new light.


With each dress I tried on, and each accompanying proclamation of "You look pretty!" I felt a little more confident. Finally, the last dress I tried was it. It was fun, semi-fancy, and I'd even feel a little trendy in it. I already had shoes that would 'go' perfectly; all I needed were some chandelier earrings and I'd be set.


I glanced at the price tag as it's always my luck to like the most expensive one, but it was marked down to $29, while all the others were almost $70...as I pulled out my card to pay, it got even better because it was further reduced to just $17. A great dress, a successful shopping trip with your fan club, self-esteem boosted and money leftover for coffee? I guess you can have it all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Continental Divide

I just read this post on LiteralDan, and had to share it because it's good to have reminders of the everyday ways that our country is full of a*&holes who don't care about the fate of our southern neighbors.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Earn Your Daily Bread


H loves to help me in the kitchen and I've been trying to let him help in more ways. Today, it was baking bread. The first step in my mom's Honey Whole-Wheat bread recipe is to mix 5 cups of hot tap water with 7 cups of whole wheat flour...at first I was filling the measuring cup and giving it to him to dump in, then I thought 'What am I doing?' I poured the water from the mixer into the sink and showed him the line on the cup, asking him to count each one as he poured it in, up to five. Sure enough, he was fully capable. The flour, I measured out, but let him put in and then showed him how to add 1T honey to the yeast and water mix in order to allow the yeast to 'work' better.




We had a great time together in the kitchen, and he was able to enjoy the fruits of his labor after the two risings; the first of which had initially been left out of my mother's translation of her recipe to me, so I ended up with an entire year of bread baking feeling like a complete failure since they were loaves of brick. I only found my mistake when reading Late Nite Kitchen and then called my mom "um, do you let the dough rise in the mixer first and then in the pans?" "Yeah, why?" "Sweet, you totally missed that part when reading me the recipe over the phone last year." Yet another reason it will be nice to be within driving distance of my parents; I can steal her written recipes from her house when she's not looking.

I felt like H had a fun time, and he definitely liked the bread, though he takes after his Grandma P and Papa in that he kept dunking the bread in the milk. I've never liked soggy bread, just thinking of the idea of milk toast makes me shudder. I kept telling him to stop that! That's disgusting! when he finally turned to me and said "I like to dip my bread in milk, it makes it taste better." Right. I keep forgetting that I'm supposed to be, like, allowing him to develop his own tastes and interests.

One step, however, that he will continue to miss out on that my mother did, unless I turn into uber freakshow mom when we get a house, is that my mother had an electric wheat mill and so ground her own flour for each baking session. Yeeeeeeah, we'll just stick with the triumph of baking our own bread for now.

H and Charlie had a lovely dinner last night of cinnamon toast made from homemade bread, applesauce and milk. They went to bed fat and happy, and my house still smells good this morning.

Granny's Honey-Whole-Wheat Bread

1. Mix 5 cups hot water and 7 cups of flour with paddle in the electric mixer.

2. While the above are mixing, sprinkle 2 tsp. yeast into very hot water, adding 1T honey or sugar to work yeast more effectively. Allow to sit until bubbly

3. Add 2T salt, 2/3 c oil, 2/3 c honey, yeast mixture and 1 cup more flour and mix.
4. Add 3-4 more cups flour, 1 cup at a time, dough will be sticky in the end. If it's still super wet, add a little more flour. Knead with dough hook attachment for 10 minutes and allow to raise in bowl for about 2 hours (I put my bowl covered with dishcloth on the pre-heated oven so it was warm...since my ac'd apartment is not warm right now)
5. Transfer to four loaf pans and let rise again until 1/3 larger, then bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. Voila! You have bread!
I think I may try to use a little white flour next time, because this bread does end up being pretty dense. It's REALLY good for french toast, though two pieces will be plenty filling!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Great Expectations

Yesterday I took H to his first Tae Kwon Do lesson. He was so excited to don the dobok, although I needed them to show me how to tie the belt, and we were off.

I've been looking for that something that will magically transform little H from wild animal to doting student and I just knew that this would be the answer. He took his place among the other three little boys, all white belts as well, and started out putting forth his A game. He ran, kicked and punched when directed and demonstrated agility around the four plastic cones. My heart was singing as the look of exhileration and pure joy overtook his face.

This lasted for about twenty to twenty-five minutes of the class...and then the Nell version of H came out to play and it was kind of like watching three farmers chase a greased pig. After about three minutes of shenanigans during which I wanted to crawl under my seat in mortification (but also during which, they did not seek my assistance so were handling it just fine without me) the Grand Master entered the lesson.

In his booming, accented voice he instructed H to sit at the side of the mats. Look straight forward. Answer 'Yes, Sir!' to the questions he was asked. H tried to slink from his spot on the ground a couple of times, but the Grand Master turned his attention away from the other kids long enough to look directly at Henry and say Sit Down! Look Straight! But not aggressively, just authoritatively.

After the third time, he stopped to ask H how old he was, and just when I thought my heart would break for H and how embarassed he must be, the Grand Master broke into a smile and they applauded H for sitting there. He still had to sit out the rest of the class on the side of the mat, but it didn't feel demoralizing to me. It was exactly the kind of parenting I strive for, but always seem to miss.

At the end of class, H left the room and broke into tears as he saw me "I wasn't done yet!" The Grand Master called H over to his office and we sat down for what I thought would be a lecture, but what ended up as a pep talk. He told H that even he was probably the same way when he was four years old, but he listened to his Master and now look where he is! He encouraged H to come back, but if he wants to participate...he has to listen. We weren't able to leave with a sullen nod of the head, but instead he waited until H loudly answered "Yes, sir!"

As we left, I couldn't help myself. I told H that I was disappointed in how he acted, and wished he would have listened. I took away his bubble gum privelege and a tantrum ensued. Had I just kept my mouth shut, the talk in the office would most likely have been far more effective. My rant also served to erase the fun of the first twenty minutes when he fully participated and had a great time. I had J ask H about the lesson without me there so I could see what he'd say about it and sure enough his answer was "I was naughty." Although he did add, "I was playing tag and they didn't want to!"

Preschool for four year-olds here is not only not free...it's expensive. We're sending him this winter and everyone is holding the carrot out to me that he'll be so much better once he's in school, and that's when it hit me...I keep waiting for the thing that will make him "better" when what will make him that way is not going to be one Tae Kwon Do class or five months of pre-school. Sure, all of these things will help, but I realized that I've been going into all these situations; swim lessons, free play, museum adventures, with the idea that this will be it, instead of let's try this on for size and see how he likes it.

I have this kid who is so full of energy and enthusiasm, who loves life, and takes it on like a freight train. I love that about him. At the same time, I cringe at it. Mainly because of the way I feel like it reflects on me. As a stay-at-home mom, I've found that because I no longer have a career that defines or exemplifies my competence and achievement, I see H as my report card. Instead of encouraging him to be his very own person who needs to develop and learn his own lessons in his own way, I see every "it's just a phase" public display of willfulness as proof that I'm really shitty at my job.

I don't know how many times I've hear Miranda in my head saying "If we were dating, now is the time that we would break up!" That's certainly not how I want to feel about my child. The kiddo that my heart breaks for when his feelings get hurt because he's so sensitive, but so in-your-face, all-over-the-place that people take for granted that he's not. The one who can push my every last button and then say something that's so smart, and so funny, that I have to turn my head away to hide the laughter. How do you rectify the two?

We'll go back Monday and I'll swallow my preconceived notions of how it should be and just try to take it as it is.

Getting over yourself so that your kids can just be is so much easier in theory.