Saturday, August 18, 2012

Little Words

My two year old niece, Beatrice Patrica (yes, she is often called by both names - she's a wily one) is ... verbal. At 18m if you asked her what she liked to eat, she'd tell you crudites. Seriously.

Bea speaks in a tiny quiet voice (her screams are a very different experience) so I find myself going very still to hear what she has to say ... it's always worth it. This week my sister was getting Bea ready for bed and telling her about a friend's "teeny tiny kittens".  Beatrice began to chat, "... and the little tiny kittens were playing, and the Auntie Kitten was knitting a sweater..."

I love you, Bee-ah :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rocking the freezer - single servings of chili

I have a picky kiddo that needs huge amounts of protein ... in small portions, many times throughout the day. Add in that I can't stand/cook for long periods of time or frequently during the day and that I can only shop about twice a month and it gets a bit challenging. Honestly, it's like a Parenting SAT question. Thankfully this kiddo loves homemade chili. A few months ago I stumbled on a great system for freezing perfect sized portions of chili so that I can just defrost enough for her.

Folks who know me understand that I'm very cautious about plastics and food storage. I tried freezing small portions in glass containers but I disliked the amount of freezer space they took for storage. They also were a bit awkward to defrost. So color me tickled when I stumbled on these in the plastic bag section of the market...

These are small, thin, plastic bags with no zipper. They are extremely economical, easy to remove food from and - my favorite - BPA-free.


I then added this to the equation ... my 2" cookie dough scoop. This handy little gadget is great for making large cookies but it's also fun for scooping rice or other foods. It holds about 1/4 cup so it's easy to gauge portion size if that matters to you.

So what did I do? I nestled the bottom of a bags into one cup of a muffin tin and then scooped two scoops into that cup and patted it down. I flattened the rest of the bag into the cup next to that one and   made another little chili muffin. I gently patted the bag down so it wasn't too full of air pockets, twisted the bag and clipped it closed. I used these fancy little doohickeys I found at Ikea but regular twist-ties will work as well. Repeat for all the chili you have and then freeze until solid. When frozen, pop all the bags out of the muffin tin and store them in your preferred large freezer storage product (glass, freezer bag etc).

Half cup portions are perfect for a mildly hungry Audrey and if she's really starving I can thaw two instead. And a well fed Audrey is a happy Audrey :)

**I am in no way connected or receive reimbursement/product/kickbacks/magic powers from any of the companies mentioned here. All products mentioned were purchased by me or by the fabulous chiquita who shared her pic, generally using standard shipping which I immediately regretted as it takes too flipping long.**

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Letters to my Daughters

Dear Audrey,
Ah my love, it is hard to be different. You are smart and colorful and so incredibly soft inside. I remember you coming home from first grade having been teased about loving the colors chartreuse, vermilion, magenta and aquamarine. You get that from me, love. I remember being called Webster because I loved reading the dictionary. I watch you do these same things, missing the same social cues I missed (and still miss...) and I see a very fancy target painted on your sweet little back.

I see you dealing with bullying in many forms. I see you not understanding how to fit into a group at the playground, feeling left out because you can't figure out how to join in. I hope and pray you find a way to be strong without holding power over someone smaller, more fragile than you.

I have hope.

Not that you will fit in or be any different than you are, or that you will fit in or be any less sparkly than you were born to be. I have hope that you will find other hedgehogs like you. Prickly on the outside, soft and unique underneath. I have hope that the work parents and educators are doing towards changing the face of bullying continues. I hope that no matter who you turn out to be, who you love, how you love, that you will feel strong and confident in your choices and yourself.

I have hope that someday you will talk to your children and try to help them understand how when you were little people were still told who they could love. And I hope it will be so freakishly foreign to them and to you that you have difficulty explaining it all.

Dear Maddie,
You are a such an amazing, vibrant little girl. I see how you walk into a room and instantly have friends, how you find people who are left out and gently ease them into the play. I see your bright mind and hysterical sense of humor and love watching you throw yourself hard into everything you try. I can't wait to see you enjoy work and school in ways I never could. I see you confused by your sister's difficulty joining in, hurt by her prickles, worried for her pain.

My hope for you is that you learn to understand how she feels, how those who are different, excluded, marginalized ... prickly ... that sometimes they are not choosing their path. How sometimes prickles are something they are born with. I hope you find happiness in your strength and not let those who would try, hurt your huge, squishy amazing heart.

We as adults are spending so much time reading, learning and teaching about bullying. And tonight while I should have been sleeping, I had a thought. If my future teenage Audrey was forced by stronger, more powerful, scary girls to give up a boyfriend she cared about ... that would be bullying. We are giving her tools now in her young life to protect her against those Mean Girls that would belittle her and degrade her choices.

But how is that different than a powerful, scary group of adults telling a person they can't marry their gay lover? How can we claim to teach our children not to bully others when adults still bully adults?

I still have hope. I have hope that small groups of people will make a small difference in small communities. And that small groups will become larger. I have hope that my children will watch freedom and the elimination of social bullying change over their lifetime. I have hope that adults who find their lives fitting easily into the norm, like my Maddie, will find compassion and strength to support those who are less strong and who need advocates.