There’s Always Time for Apple Pie

Life Lessons from a Two Year-old, Motherhood, Uncategorized, Yummyness
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The ugliest, most perfect pie ever

There’s Always Time for Apple Pie

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I love to bake. Like really, really love to bake.

I’ve made stunning 4-tier wedding cakes, perfectly iced in homemade buttercream; cakes which took days to bake, ice, assemble and decorate.

It was nothing for me to crank out 4 loaves of bread from scratch on any old Saturday morning, or whip up a few dozen cinnamon twists to send to work with my hubs for his crew.

I LIVED for brioche, trying every recipe I could find until I finally made the perfect, airy loaf. (I’m pretty sure this is the exact brioche Marie Antoinette was talking about.)

I used to be one hell of a baker.

Until I had a baby, that is.

These days, I feel good when I get a box cake made on time for a birthday in our household, and even better if I actually remember the candles!

So when my sister stopped by with a dozen gorgeous red apples, fresh off their tree a few days ago, I was inspired. I just HAD to bake something. Something GOOD.

“Hank!” I said. “Let’s bake a pie!”

Now, friends, this is NOT what a perfect apple pie is supposed to look like. Not even close.

What it does look like, is exactly what it is: a pie a toddler baked.

Old Me would never have stood for it. Old Me would have thrown out the torn-up, over-worked pastry that sat in our fridge two days longer than it should have, and made fresh. She would have rolled it and lined that pie plate smoothly and evenly, then pinched perfectly-even flutes all around the edges to seal the top.

Today though, for the first time ever, I had a helper. And Hank wanted to do it ALL. He wanted to roll the crust out with the big huge rolling pin. And mix the ingredients. And peel the apples with that fun old crank peeler his great-grandma gave us. He wanted to do all of it.

All. By. Himself.

So, you know what I did?

I let him!

I’m NOT that perfect baker I used to be–I just can’t be. I’m way too busy being mom. (And that’s even better.)

When that sweet two-year-old woke up early from his nap today, we spent that extra hour making the ugliest apple pie I have ever made.

It may be the ugliest pie I’ve made, but it is the pie I’m proudest of.

(And it tasted far sweeter than any of the pretty ones ever did.)

***

My Parenting Style? It’s Not What You Might Think

Hank Humor, Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood

Two words have been bouncing around in my brain a lot over the past year, as my barely-walking 1 year-old baby rounded the corner on toddlerhood and headed towards that looming milestone of horror–the Terrible Twos.

The two words I am referring to are: Parenting Style. While taking Advanced Human Development, I studied the three main types, so I thought I had it all figured out. I was prepared to be an effective parent someday. It was as simple as this:

Be too strict: you’re authoritarian and they’ll resent you. Be too lax: you’re permissive, and they’ll run all over you. Be perfectly balanced–authoritative–and your kids will turn out respectful and responsible. How hard can it be to achieve a balance of being both demanding and responsive? Not that hard, right?

It can’t be! 

I mean–we don’t want to raise complete hooligans, but we don’t necessarily want silent little soldiers, either!

Seriously, how hard can this be?

Well. . . I’ll tell you. Here I sit, a month away from the TERRIBLE TWOS where all hell promises to break loose, and I am pondering just how well my “Parenting Style” is actually fitting in with the above logic. Am I doing a great job of being the perfect Authoritative Parent?

Honest to goodness–I couldn’t even tell you. While I shoot for authoritative, I like to call my current parenting style “A Wing and a Prayer.”

Here’s why!

Parenting, it turns out, is WAY HARDER than I thought it would be when that little plus sign miraculously appeared on the pregnancy test.

I have found, that as hard as you try to do all the mom things just so and devote enough time to all the age-appropriate brain-stimulating activities, life happens. Things get real. Houses get dirty. You still have to figure out how to pay all your (steadily increasing) bills.

And then; just when you think you have finally gotten a handle on the whole baby thing, they turn into toddlers. (I’m convinced toddler must translate into tornado in some language, somewhere!)

All the things I promised myself I’d do or not do, suddenly went out the window. To avoid complete insanity, I evolved into practicing a new Parenting Style centered around one premise: what works. (Hence the wing and DEFINITELY the prayer.)

Here is what that looks like in my house on any given day.

“Ok, so let me get this straight–you absolutely must wear your glow-in-the-dark pajama shirt all day today instead of getting fully dressed?”

“The only way you will let mom take a shower is if you get to watch Bob the Builder on the iPad?”

“You suddenly hate everything I just cut up for you for lunch–which I should point out, are all things you loved yesterday?”

And–“You WILL NOT go to bed unless ALL your diggers are IN your crib with you?”

Sigh.

*Admit defeat.*

Well, ok then! 

This is why my new Parenting Style is such a beautiful panacea for stressful parenting! I finally figured out that while it may feel like it, these are not mom fails. 

These are simply tornado survival tactics.

Did we still get out the door, fully clothed (in something) and get to grandma’s in time for me to get to work? Check.

Did mama get a shower without a screaming fit? Check. (And he’s learning technology skills, right?)

Did he still eat a healthy lunch? (Even if today’s first lunch all got packed back into tuppers for another attempt at dinner?) Check.

Did he still sleep through the night, (even though he may have rolled over onto a hard plastic toy a few times)? Check.

These days, I consider even a fair amount of cooperation from the little tornado a huge success. I may not be hitting the qualifications for perfect Authoritative Parenting, but you know what? That’s OK. I don’t have a perfectly-behaved soldier, but I also don’t have a complete hooligan. What I do have is a little boy who knows he is loved, loves us back, listens to us (most of the time) and most importantly–gets to love being a kid.

I call that a huge win!

Of course you can walk through the mud puddle, little boy

If you happen to be one of the elite Authoritative Wonder Parents out there, perfectly balancing your demanding with your responsive, I applaud you, and I envy you. (Can you let us in on how you do it?)
And to the rest of you out there, parenting littles the best you can. . .maybe even identifying somewhat with my ‘Wing and a Prayer’ Parenting Style–cheers to us! We may have a little lower bar, but you know what I call it? 

REALISTIC. I say survive first–tune up later. 

We’ve got this!

(I will pray for you if you pray for me!)

Monkey child

His Dig Dreams Are Big Dreams

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood

Most little boys go to bed with a teddy bear, a tattered blue blankey, or a lovey they have carried around for months. I have offered all of these options to our little man, but he simply isn’t interested.

I guess you could say that Hank has a “lovey”, but his lovey is no cuddly puppy or bear. Hank’s lovey is a digger. And no, not the nice soft stuffed excavator that goes along with his Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site book. Oh, no. Hank goes to sleep at night with a death-grip on a cold, metal skid-steer he affectionately calls “dig-dig.”

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Dig-dig and Tractor

You see, our little boy has a love–an obsession, really–for heavy equipment of all kinds. It runs in the family, and he gets to foster his love often; thanks to the good luck that landed him on a Montana farm. Hank bounced around in a dump truck when he was still bouncing around in my tummy; and his affinity for that big huge truck seemed to be born into him from day one.

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Digger and Dump Truck

There are days I’m convinced that Hank has hydraulic fluid running through his veins!

Hank’s grandpa owned and ran a heavy equipment dealership for many years before “retiring” as a farmer, and Hank’s daddy sold/rented heavy equipment as well. Both of them can run anything. (And run it well.)

Hank doesn’t just get his love for running equipment from the men in his family tree, though–he also gets a little of it from his mama.

I was lucky enough to grow up on that same Montana farm, with that equipment-loving father who figured both of his kids might as well learn how to run everything on the farm. My big brother and I ran skid steers as soon as we could reach the pedals, and before we could reach them we rode along with dad, seat-belted onto his lap, like Hank does now.

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Moving Dirt with Gramps

I’m willing to bet that one day, my little digger-man will end up in the construction industry running something, and I am already behind him on that 100%. I don’t feel the need to push him to shoot for an Ivy League school, or to encourage him to be a doctor or a lawyer. I see how happy that little boy is when he is digging dirt or hauling gravel, and that’s plenty good enough for me!

It helps that I also see how happy his grandpa is–digging dirt or hauling gravel–and I know that it may simply be in their programming. I will encourage Hank to follow his dreams, whether they include construction or not, but I will thoroughly enjoy the fact that they do, right now.

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Motor Grading with Daddy

I will let him bring dig-dig to every meal with him as he insists on doing, currently. I will let him scoop up peaches with the bucket of that darn toy, and even let him use it as a spoon now and again. (What little boy doesn’t want to scoop food into his mouth with a bobcat bucket?)

I will let him sit on my lap as we read Diggers Go three times in a row before every nap-time and bed-time, and I will do my best to make the right sounds. And I will let him wear his equipment PJs more than any of the others, because of course, they’re his favorites.

I will do my best to keep a mental note of where each piece of equipment gets left around the house throughout the day, because Hank can’t quite keep track of them all yet.

I will keep handing him off to dad or grandpa; whoever happens to be running something that day.

And most importantly; I will keep letting him go to bed with dig-dig. Because to some little boys, dreams of diggers are much more magical than dreams about anything else.

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Excavator Operator