Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mommy's Mis-Adventures in the Kitchen-#2 - Baking 101

Last winter I took a baking class, really my first ever cooking class! I was very pregnant at the time so I think my domestic hormones were kicking in & I must have been channeling June Cleaver or something. I have to say I enjoyed it very much and learned quite a bit. The biggest take-away was that I have a lot to learn so this will probably not be my last class. But it's okay because it's something I want to do as opposed to something I have to do. I absolutely loved our chef teacher. She was kind and patient and funny! Or maybe she just thought my skills or lack there of, were pretty hilarious. Hmm.

Anyhow the girls have reaped some benefits of my baking experience and we made some Xmas cookies last year. Not to embarrass myself I only shared with my immediate family, the peanuts and J. Once I could please their taste buds I'd be ready to offer my goodies to the rest of the world.

How did I stumble upon this class?? I pass by Chef Central often on my way to the baby store. I have never ventured inside well because it does say "CHEF" and I'm not a chef by any definition. So I have no business in there. Except one day I was in search for a platter for Thanksgiving for my other adventure (my latte cheesecake) so I thought I might check it out. When I walked in I was amazed by all of the amazing chef STUFF they had! I must have looked like one of the Willy Wonka kids in the Chocolate Factory. I might as well have walked on to one of the sets of the Food Network! They had everything from exotic spices and ingredients to the latest tools and gadgets and lovely displays to show off delectable creations of skilled chefs. None of this really relates to me but nevertheless I walked around aisle after aisle wishing I knew how to use all of these magnificent little contraptions. By the time I reached the back of the store I found a cooking classroom and a wonderful person in one of those cool chef jackets, the object of my envy. They had a calendar display of all the great classes they offered and the level of each one. Level 1 would be novice. That would be me! I was excited that they offered some hope for poor hapless wanna-be-bakers like myself! It was a chance to learn how to make something not from a box or refrigerated tube.

These people really knew what they were doing with this class. They managed to teach someone like me how to create something like this!


J was totally impressed when I came home with these goodies!! I think he was under the delusion that I could pull this off on a regular basis on my own, neither of which was true.


These were the girls favorite, glass sugar cookies made with candy centers. Not too difficult and quite yummy!



These were my favorite, white chocolate cranberry cookies & chocolate macaroons. These were easy and required no artistic ability!


Rugelach cookies, these were a royal pain! I don't think I could repeat this at home, as it had way too many steps but they were tasty.


THESE were my pride and joy! They were what you would call my pièce de ré·sis·tance!!

These were great and I put in a lot of time in the decor and was so happy with the result that I didn't want anyone to eat them :) Eventually J convinced me that I should let the girls eat them, so I did.

This year I pulled out the recipes and decided the peanuts and I should practice our cookies for Santa's big arrival. They're older and I thought it would be fun to decorate some sugar cookies. Not sure what we'll try next but this is how this adventure turned out.

First lesson of Xmas cookies is that delicious cookies require work! Cati took it well...Val umm not so sure.

They suggested that we just bake them & eat them. But I persisted, and next it was some more work to make them look pretty. And just so you know that's home-made royal icing. I'm pretty impressed with myself.

VOILA!! Done!

I will not tell you which ones I did and which ones the girls did, for fear that I might receive some ego-bruising commentary lol! And finally it was time for us to enjoy the fruits (or cookies) of our labor!

I have no idea if the girls were looking to make something that they could be proud of but by the looks of it I think they were just looking for a reason to convince me to give them yet another sugary treat. I had a totally different agenda, to prove to myself that I could bake something edible and easy on the eyes! HA!

I also want to start some holiday traditions with the girls that they could look back on fondly. And I'm hoping that maybe just maybe they won't remember that mom was not the best baker but they could look back and remember that we had fun doing it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Drunken Years

....if I were writing a book about the girls and motherhood this would be the title of the current chapter in our lives.

Why? Well because for one, this is what it's like to parent 3 year old twins right now. I constantly feel like the AA sponsor of 2 drunks trying to rationalize, negotiate, and appease them every waking hour of their little lives. Secondly, the emotional roller coaster of three-year- old-twins can certainly lead to several drinks a day. Only alcohol could numb your mind enough to deal. Thankfully the latter doesn't happen too often because of school (thank you Lord), grandma (thanks again dear Lord), and daddy does eventually come home (Good Lord I am really blessed).

What really compelled me to post this today was reading this article and watching this video. Warning: If you have no children watch at your own risk. You may never want children after this.

The screams and yells resembled the same sounds that occur in my house times two! But what really got me was the reason that caused the tantrum of Noemi and David Doudna's daughter...and I quote,
"Their daughter Katrina once had a meltdown at dinnertime because she wanted to sit at one corner of the dining table. Problem was, the table didn't have any corners – it was round. When David Doudna asked Katrina where she wanted to sit, the tantrum only intensified. "

In my opinion the article should have been named, "What's Behind The Drunken State of Your Toddler." I'm not sure if it's scientific enough but it certainly captures the sometimes mind-boggling-reasons why your child gets upset.

This is a picture of their school's Halloween parade of 2010...notice they are not wearing the black pants of their costume. Why? Nobody knows, but the teacher told me that they explained to her that bumble bees don't wear black pants. Ummm ok. Again you can't rationalize with a drunk you just say okay and move on. So long as they agreed to walk in the Halloween parade the teacher couldn't spend too much time discussing the black legs of a bumble bee. And I agree.

In my experience this has been the difficult part of having twins, the tantrums. While at our local pool one day, Catalina decided she wasn't going to follow directions of her swim teacher. So I kept reminding her, very patiently I might add, that if she didn't listen we would NOT stay at the pool after class. After several reminders Cati had blatantly refused to do anything the poor young teacher asked. So as a result I had to stick to my threat and follow through. I braced myself for what lie ahead. Don't ask me who's more strong willed of my twins because I'll say the one that's giving me the hard time in the moment and that could change any day, any hour, any minute. Anyhow once she figured out we weren't staying the tantrum ensued she screamed, she cried, she smart mouthed me but I ignored it all because in the end a battle of words would get us nowhere. I can't say it was easy to hold it together. And I guess the look on my face was one of angst and worry. Worry that I would cave because I couldn't stand the embarrassment and the dread that all eyes were on me. And I wanted to explain this this tazmanian devil was really my child I was trying to drag out of the pool.

Suddenly I heard a voice from what seemed like a crowd of hundreds of other judging moms. The voice, because I couldn't possibly stop and look up to see who it was, said "Way to stick to your guns mom. You have to follow through otherwise it will only get worse." In that moment I felt a surge of strength and reassurance that came from the voice and I was suddenly confident that I had to be doing the right thing. And any fear I had that one day Cati would be telling this story opposite a therapist, completely dissipated. To the unknown mom who encouraged my disciplining that day....A heart felt Thank You. I really needed that.

The way I see it at two they're frustrated because they can't express what they want and you're frustrated because you wish you spoke babble. But at three the frustration is exponentially higher because they can talk fairly well now and they can say please and they can "use their words" and yet they still can't get what they want. When this happens the reaction is along the lines of...WHAT! Are you serious Mom?? In my case I guess this would be to the second power. And as a result sometimes I need TWO beers after a long day with the twins. If you throw in the infant in the middle of this madness and now I need a nice little alcoholic concoction that will knock me to bed in one gulp, like a Kamikaze Shot.

Since they've turned three I've had to up my negotiation tactics. They're smarter now. Now it's about creating the delicate balance of providing options that allow them to feel empowered and me to feel like I'm still in charge here. This is no easy task. So if you're out there thinking I can't possibly do this. I'm here to tell you that you're not alone. There are many days when I don't think I can do it either. You're not a failure you're just part of the masses.

Sometimes I think that because I have twins I'm much more willing to give in and just comply. After a day of heavy deliberations I am worn out. I can't hear myself think anymore never mind thinking straight so I just give in. Inside I'm pleading for mercy and screaming "UNCLE enough already!" When is Ashton Kutcher going to jump out of a car and say this is all a big joke on you! You just got PUNK'D!!

Every day it's about strategy, how do we get through whatever activity without an emotional breakdown. At this age they're thoughtful, albeit in a irrational sort of way, so I need to be careful not give some half-assed reason for why I need them to eat their meal, put their shoes on, or go to bed. If you think you can get away with some thoughtless response, then think again my friends. Get ready for a rebuttal. You do not want to get into direct, cross-examination, re-direct, re-cross, etc. That is what you want to avoid at all cost. That will eventually end with ...meltdown. You want to address the question and calmly agree to a settlement. Done.

For example:

Twin A: Mommy I want to wear my pretty brown sparkly shoes to school.
Me: You need to wear your big sneakers today because today is gym day at school and if you wear your brown sparkly shoes they might fall off your feet while you're playing races at gym today. And you can't stop to pick up your shoes while you're racing otherwise you'll lose the race.
Twin A: Oh okay mommy. Let's put on my big sneakers.

And this is the kind of quick-thinking I have to come up with early in the morning without even having my first cup of coffee.

Things to note in this example. First of you never say "no." I try to avoid this word like my tongue will spontaneously combust if I say it. "No" usually leads to automatic rebuttal it doesn't matter what you say after that word. There will almost always be a rebuttal and so begins the negotiation. I try to always begin with words like "I want, I need, You must, You need to, Please do, or Would you like"

I'm not sure if my kids get away with way too much or if I'm way to hard them. I probably won't know until much later in life, and will probably be too late to do much about it at that point. One comforting thought that lets me sleep at night is that I'm trying. In my heart my intention is not to scar my children for life or allow them to become degenerate burdens on society. I am doing the best that I can. I hope that one day they can look back at their childhood and see that we tried very hard to be good, positive, and fair parents. I hope they can look back and see that our intention was not to rob them of the pleasures of life but to protect them of the dangers that lurks in the world today. I hope that they can appreciate what we wanted to teach them about life and how to deal with the the success, the struggles, and the sometimes painful experiences that their life might bring them. I hope that one day when I'm long gone they can say with gratitude that we prepared them for their future.

And this is why it's so hard to deal with the little drunks. Because I want so much for them to understand why I make the choices I make and why I can't just let them roam the planet like little savages. I know that one day I won't be there for them to make that crucial decision and so I pray with all of my being that I have given them the tools necessary to do the right thing. And I hope that my little drunks grow up to be sober adults :)