Tuesday, September 27, 2011


We made the decision not to enroll Big Boy in preschool. He starts kindergarten in one year and I am not worried about him being behind academically or not being able to adjust to being in the classroom, but I am starting to worry that he needs something more to do than staying home with me and going on playdates a few times a week.

He is where he needs to be academically. He is learning to write his name and identify letters. We read everyday. We are working on counting and we are always doing experiments and talking about the world around us, but sometimes he just seems hopelessly bored. Like he needs something more.

My gut reaction to him seeming bored is, "Good, kids today aren't allowed to be bored enough!" (grumble, grumble, grumble) But at the same time when he is bored he just pesters me endlessly. I like parenting and all that come with it, but I have no intention of sitting on the floor and playing with my kids all day long with no break. I need time to get other things done and to make sure I don't turn into a mombie ( )

So maybe I should send him to preschool one or two days a week. Maybe then when he is bored at home he won't spend the whole time pulling on my clothes, blowing in my face, wiping boogers on me and laughing, begging for snacks, and telling me he is afraid of the dark in the middle of the day. But at the same time I want him here with me. But maybe it would be better for both of us to get used to a little bit of separation before the big FIRST DAY of school in one year. I'll be tossing these thoughts around in my head for a few day, but will probably just stick with what I am doing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Locked Out

Big Boy ran out on the second story back patio this evening when he heard lightening. He likes to climb on the planters so I ran out after him to keep him from falling. I turn around just in time to see Little Man coming out behind us and closing the door before he yells, "I locked door!" The door was in fact locked and I was stuck outside with both the boys.

Luckily our new across the alley neighbors were sitting on their back patio eating dinner. I called for help and the neighbor came over. Every door to our house was locked, including our interior garage door which we rarely lock (unless you're a robber/rapist/murderer, then it is locked all the time and guarded by a vicious dog.) She was good enough to text hubs for me.

I was trembling because Princess B was inside alone. She was in her crib napping (thank goodness), but she was still alone. I also had a batch of cookies in the oven. Finally hubs rescued us from our balcony prison and I was relieved that Princess B wasn't screaming. Cookies were burnt to a crisp.

I am very thankful that our neighbors were outside and especially relieved that Princess B was in her crib napping and not inside crawling around. I was able to make friends with a nice new neighbor who was the lucky recipient of a plate of cookies. Funniest thing about it . . . . this is the second time this has happened. Blush.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Forced Apology

I had one of those run-ins today. You know the kind. Your kid does something you consider minor to another kid and the other parent loses their cool when you don't discipline your child. I didn't see the event in question here and neither did the other parent, but she demanded that I drag my kid out of a playplace and force him to apologize to her child for something he may or may not have done. I refused.

That's the short story, but it did get me thinking about apologies in general. Is the practice of forcing your child to apologize a good parenting move? I know that I have done it on occasion and I know many parents think it is their responsibility to make their child apologize for anything and everything, even minor misunderstandings or accidents.

I've only been a parent for four years so I am sure my opinions on these things will change as I become more experienced, but from my limited experience I think forcing kids to apologize is not productive.

For one thing, I don't want to teach my kids that they can do something mean and simply apologize and be done with it. Apologies are nice, but actions are better. Asking my kids what they could do to make the person they hurt feel better seems to be a more effective way to encourage them to analyze the effect of their actions on others and then remedy the situation. Sometimes it may be a heartfelt apology. Other times it might mean something different.

We need to admit that we don't always know what is going on in kid world. Maybe a child swatted another kid, but maybe two seconds earlier that kid had spit in his face. It would be very demeaning to force a child to apologize to someone that was actually the aggressor and I don't want to make that mistake with my kids. I want them to know that I will stand up for them if they are being falsely accused of something or if they were simply defending themselves. I will also withhold judgement if there is no proof that they were the responsible party.

This article sums it up nicely. 

When I am faced with these situations, I will always try to be on the side of common sense and fairness even if the other parent thinks I am a bad parent.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Melkam Addis Amet!

September 12th marked the beginning of the new year in Ethiopia. Little Man is Ethiopian and since bringing him home we have made an effort to celebrate this holiday to help him connect to his birth culture and this year we decided to have a little party for our friends.

The most important thing of any Ethiopian celebration, like most cultures, is food. Lots of food. Delicious food. The party was on a Monday and I started the cooking process Friday afternoon.

The base of many Ethiopian dishes is a type of spicy butter. It is really a necessity in ensuring that the dishes have an authentic taste. In order to make this butter, you must must melt butter and then simmer it in spices. The smell of this simmering butter set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Once it has simmered you remove the solid spices and pour the butter into a container. It is best to make a large batch so you can use it on more than one occasion.

On Saturday morning I began the cooking by baking several loaves of Yemarina Yewotet Dabo, a spiced honey bread. I am a novice bread baker at best, so I had some trouble getting a good rise out of the yeast, but the bread still turned out delicious. I suppose it is hard to go wrong when you add a cup of honey to something!

The most challenging dish I decided to prepare was Doro Wat, the Ethiopian national dish. This is a very spicy dish seasoned with berbere, a spice unique to Ethiopia. Ethiopian cooks and restaurants tend to develop their own versions of berbere because it is a mixture of many different spices. The berbere I used was purchased at a market in Addis Ababa. I won't go into great detail about the six hour process, but it did make for some beautiful cooking photos.

Most commonly known Ethiopian dishes are stews. The stews are eaten with injera bread which is a spongy sour dough flat bread used to pick up the food. I purchased my injera from a local Ethiopian woman because it is a long process and can require specialty equipment.

I also prepared two lentil dishes of varying degrees of spiciness. The doro wat was incredibly spicy even though I cut the berbere in half! I had to tone it down a little bit to be palatable to western preschoolers.

I spent about 15 hours cooking and preparing for our little party so it was very exciting for me to see everyone enjoying the food. We had three children attend who were adopted from Ethiopia along with many of their friends.

The children learned how to eat Ethiopian food and were also invited to construct the Ethiopian flag out of paper to celebrate the tradition of boys preparing pictures to sell. Below are some of the artistic recreations of the Ethiopian flag by 3 to 5 year olds.
We had a great time and my house still smells like Ethiopian spices and food. We have been enjoying the leftovers for several days and I was really pleased that Little Man had a great time!

Here is the website I used for my Ethiopian recipes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


My kids are too young to really show much interest in what happened on 9/11 so we definitely didn't sit them down and talk to them about it, but we have kept the tv off the channels showing the footage of the attacks. I know they hear us talking about it, but I think we will be waiting until they are school age before we sit down and discuss the finer details.

I have read many parenting blogs and articles about how to talk to your kids about 9/11. I think it will be different for each family, depending on how your family was personally impacted. In general, I agree with the vast majority of what the articles say, but I do part ways with many of the comments. It seems many parents see 9/11 anniversaries as an opportunity to illustrate to their children the great evil that humans are capable of bringing on each other. Many parents seem to think that it is okay to use this day as a day to make their children terrified of people who are different or who disagree with us.

I think this is the wrong lesson to take from 9/11. A few dozen people did something evil. But thousands, and one could argue millions, illustrated the human capacity for good. We shouldn't focus on the murderers, but on the firefighters who rushed in and saved people and on the civilians who stepped up on that day to help strangers.

My children aren't old enough to comprehend the pictures or stories of 9/11, but when they are I hope the lesson they take away is not that people are evil, but that during evil times people are capable of great good.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

*Warning* Not for the faint of heart

Every parent has an arsenal of stories about poop. The time the baby's poopy diaper exploded all over the car seat or those first few weeks of potty training when the underwear is smeared with poop. I think my experiences with feces could win awards. I'll keep these anecdotes vague so as to protect the identity of the specific culprits.

I had a baby diaper explode so bad that the poo was all the way up in the baby's hair and all the way down the legs to the toes. I once simply threw away an expensive baby outfit in a public park because it was too disgusting to even bother trying to wash. One of my babies had to be changed, clothes and all, ten times on one airplane trip (it was a really long flight, but still). Once when I was changing a diaper the baby pooped right as I pulled it off and it flew six feet away dirtying the carpet and getting all over a book shelf. One of my kids once ate the other one's poop. One child pooped on the wood floor and then spread it around with their fingers, closed the door to the room, and I didn't find it until it was dried to a nice, crisp crust. I once had to use a stick from the forest to push a giant poop from one of my children down a camper toilet. One time I had to pull a swallowed two foot long thread out of a baby's butt. I measured it.

I am sure most of the people reading this have their own poop stories to share. Please do if you are so inclined! Hope everyone enjoyed reading about the poop!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brown Like Me

A few days ago Little Man painted Princess B brown. Now if you know Little Man, you know he is a lovely shade of brown, while Princess B sports a pinkish tint. When I discovered the deed, I had a bit of a mind freak. In the course of a minute, I agonized over the mess, whether she ate any of the paint, and, of course, why did he choose brown? There were many other colors of paint to choose from and he picked brown.

Now I calmed down and immediately told myself not to make a big deal of it. He probably just grabbed the closest paint. He isn't trying to subconsciously tell us something. But what if he was?

When you adopt out side of your race, you face many challenges. Anyone that tries to deny this is being naive. It is a common assumption that families are supposed to match each other and people tend to get a bit judgemental when they don't. I think this is changing, but it hasn't completely. There are white and black people who do not think it is right for white people to adopt children of color. I know that I sometimes get distracted by being defensive about what other people think about our family. What I need to be doing is helping Little Man develop self confidence and pride in who he is and make sure he knows he is infinitely loved.

So that brings us to the point where he has painted his sister brown. Was he trying to make her look like him? Is this better than him trying to paint himself pink or white? Or did he just happen to choose the brown paint and next time he will try and paint her blue. I don't know the answer to these questions, but I know he goes to bed happy at night and I guess that is what matters the most at this age.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gems from the 4-Year Old

"Mommy, I think I will rub my nose instead of picking it."

"My brain forgot how to tell my legs how to move so I cannot walk to bed."

"I will eat my rice if I can have a quesadilla." Ten minutes later, "I tricked you. I'm not going to eat my rice!"

"If you don't stop at the stop sign a car will hit our car and then you will DIE!"

Mommy, I brought you a soda. Aren't I a helpful boy?"  Stares while I open it and take a drink. "Mommy, can I have a drink of your soda because I such a helpful boy?"

"Okay mommy. Okay. I have a deal. You will not wash my hair and I will put my face underwater."

Friday, September 2, 2011


You buy some outlandishly priced, individually packaged fruit snack pouches because your kids begged and there was a coupon so whatever. There are ten pouches in the box and you have two children who can eat the fruit snacks. If they are allowed one pouch a day the fruit snacks will last for five days. Easy right?

Do not make the following mistake. The following is my inner dialogue:

"It's late and I want something to eat because I am bored."

"Hmm, nothing in the fridge and I don't really want to pig out on ice cream. If only there were something that was sweet, but low calorie."

"Fruit snacks! Perfect. I will have one pouch of fruit snacks. Yummy."

That was two nights ago. Today I got to witness the "There is only one fruit snack left so you have to share it" meltdown of 2011. Two boys, one fruit snack pouch, no holds barred.