Archive for September, 2009

The Best Damn Sauce I’ve Ever Had

OK, I realize this isn’t a cooking blog, but it’s so rare for me to stumble upon a recipe that gets me excited to eat (because I am completely lost in the kitchen) that I feel compelled to post this.

We had a small party on Saturday and someone brought over some chicken strips with Creole Mustard Sauce.  The sauce was AMAZING.  The best part is that all of the ingredients are fairly straight-forward and easy to find in the store, something that my cooking-phobic little heart adores.  I have used the leftover sauce on chicken, salmon, burgers, celery, broccoli, and cucumbers.  It’s incredibly versatile. 

One substitution to recommend: instead of regular dijon mustard, the person who made the delicious batch that I’ve been enjoying over the past few days suggests Grey Poupon Country Dijon Mustard.  I am cutting and pasting from the recipe website; the link is below the recipe.  I did NOT try making the chicken that goes along with the recipe.  Anything that calls for combining Cap’n Crunch cereal and chicken freaks me out a bit.

Creole Mustard Sauce

http://www.recipezaar.com/Planet-Hollywood-Captain-Crunch-Chicken-18065

If anyone decides to make this, I would love to hear if you like it or not.  Feel free to criticize – I won’t be offended since I claim no ownership of the recipe (the credit goes to someone named Mysterygirl, as cited on the recipezaar.com website).

And To Think I Once Believed My Kids Were Smart

I had another reminder recently of just how stressful it is to be a parent and how the title “parent” really ought to be changed to “permanent guilt trip.”

The kids and I headed over to a local park for a play date with one of Ginger’s friends.  As the kids played, the other child’s mom and I were discussing the kids in general and as an airplane flew overhead and my kids went nuts over it, I casually commented that some of their current obsessions include airplanes and helicopters, as well as the moon.

Other Mom then said that her daughter asked her earlier that day if the moon was a planet.

Um, what?

This child understands the concept of planets enough to make the connection that the moon might be one?  And here I thought my kids were somewhat intelligent.  I guess it’s time to start looking into some “alternative” classes for Ginger given that I’ve never considered discussing the concept of planets with her.

Seriously, though, this is the brutal part of parenting.  Surely there are ideas or concepts that Ginger gets that her little friend, who is only one day younger, doesn’t get… I hope.  It doesn’t help that her mother told me recently that they sometimes pass the time by singing songs in English, French, Spanish, AND sign language.  Meanwhile, I’ve spent three years trying to teach Ginger some French and we’re still stuck on “bonjour.”

It’s easy to think that your child is a genius whenever they make some new connection, and it’s certainly fun to think that your child is ahead of the curve on something, anything.  But then things like this happen to bring you right back down to earth.  And really, does it matter that Ginger doesn’t understand the concept of a planet yet?  She is three! 

This is what I loathe about parenting these days.  Pick up any book or read any news article, and it’s all about the hyper-competitive nature of Gen X and Gen Y parents who will do anything to get their kids ahead of the curve.  I see this at our play groups.  One three-year-old goes to a Spanish immersion class and now knows more Spanish that I ever learned from my year of study in the 7th grade.  Another 3-year-old is obsessed with horses and apparently knows all about different breeds, how to care for them, the best diet, etc..

Meanwhile, I read to my kids, speak to them using adult words, and encourage as much creative play as possible, hoping that somehow this all creates some fertile ground for a intelligent adults.  I’m certainly not using flash cards or quizzing them on the fifty states or taking them to piano lessons… yet.

Parenting really can be madness and I struggle regularly with keeping my head about myself as to how we are doing as parents.  Finding out that Other Child is a genius really doesn’t help my cause.

Losing My Mind, One Cell At A Time

I’m fond of telling people that having children caused me brain damage.  And when I say “fond,” I mean that I’m forced to confess this to people after humiliating moments of raging stupidity brought about by having birthed said children.

To wit, recently I was at the park with the kids, talking to another mom.  I can’t recall precisely what we were discussing because, as I mentioned, I have brain damage, and I was trying to describe the part of the jungle gym that Ginger was going down… you know… the thing that angles down to the ground.

The other mom stared at me blankly.

“You know, that silver thing that kids sit on and then scoot down… from the top of the jungle gym to the ground… that thing.”

“Oh,” said the other mom.  “You mean the slide?”

“Yes, that’s it!” I said, at which point I promptly dropped to the ground and pretended to suffer from a sudden, severe ankle injury to distract her from my swiss cheese mind.

It’s amazing: I can remember random details from 30+ years ago but can’t recall what happened yesterday.  For example, thanks to a temporary childhood infatuation, to this day, I can still describe the technical differences in all the various figure skating jumps despite never having been a figure skater myself, but I couldn’t tell you who won the Super Bowl last year.  Given that I spent many years being a huge – HUGE – football fan, that makes this all the weirder (not to mention that my father, who took so much pride in my love of football, is so ashamed).

Another regularly occurring example: I can walk upstairs to do something and by the time I get there, forget what I’ve gone to do.  I can’t begin to count the number of times this has happened.  I used to think it was because I was sleep-deprived, but little Fred has been sleeping through the night for 15 months now so that’s no excuse.  Then I thought it was because I was malnourished, since every parent knows that having a newborn means you can barely find time to use the bathroom, let alone feed yourself.  But I have no problem finding time to feed myself these days.

Then I thought it might be because I let my brain go after leaving my job, and reveled in parenting magazines, learning the proper way to sanitize baby bottles, puree sweet potatoes, treat eczema, and soothe a screaming infant.  But I’ve since abandoned that mindset and now read about current events pretty fanatically (although I can still get through entire news articles without being certain of what I have just read.  This tends to happen when a small child wearing underwear on her head is banging on your arm and shouting your name while you are trying to read).

So perhaps you can see why I’ve concluded that I suffer from permanent brain damage.  I just hope that I never forget where my underwear should go.

Die!

Yesterday the kids and I went to a coffee klatch through our local moms’ group.  As the moms were chit-chatting, the kids were running around, playing.  Every now and then they would lie down on the floor and get very quiet.  We all thought this was lovely because it gave us the occasional few moments of peace and quiet.

Among the kids doing this were my one year-old son, another one-year-old, and several three- and four-year olds.  Spearheading the games were two girls, aged 5 and 6.

Toward the end of the gathering, the kids picked Ginger to be the “villain” and the two oldest girls were across the room, yelling “Na-na-na-na-na” at her.  This all happened in the course of about 5 seconds, and I was out of my seat as quickly as could be to address the situation.  Ginger’s face was red (although she was smiling) so I asked her if she was OK.  She said yes and I assumed the red face was from running around like a maniac.  Then another mom asked what game they were all playing, and the oldest girl yelled, “DIE!”

In other words, when they had been lying on the floor, they were pretending to be dead.  And they were picking “villains” to kill them all.

My kids don’t understand these concepts and needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled with any of this.  I also wasn’t pleased with the “na-nas” being directed toward my daughter, although it was fairly clear that it wasn’t intended to be malicious; the older girls were merely imitating something they had seen elsewhere.  Nevertheless, this whole escapade was an unwelcome wake-up call.  Right under my own nose, my kids were playing something highly age-inappropriate and my daughter was being marginalized, if temporarily, by her friends.

I made clear to everyone in the room that I didn’t like the game and that it was over.  Thankfully, the other moms agreed and chimed in after me.  But these things are going to happen and I have my tight feeling in my chest just recounting all of this.  I was bullied for one year in school as a child, and I am going to make damn sure that my children don’t have to deal with this.  They also don’t need to be pretending to die at the ripe ages of 1 and 3.

Going forward, this Mama Bear is going to be paying more attention to what her kids are doing when they play with others.