Frustration doesn’t have to mean failure

 

Kids mess up all the time. Really!

All. The. Time.

As a fellow parent, I’m sure you know this. As a fellow parent, I am sure you *also* know that parents mess up all the time. It’s just that there’s no one really around who can tell – especially as a single parent. The kids don’t know when I don’t succeed: “Oh yes – trio, this is a smokey-char-grilled roast. It’s supposed to be like this. Let’s dig in!”

It’s doubtful that I am adept at hiding my failures, so if trio can tell I haven’t succeeded at something, it’s usually because they have witnessed my mounting frustration. There is no one around me who can really help when I’m frustrated. Trio try to support or help, and try to talk to me about what’s going wrong. And I try not to snap at them (parenting is SO MUCH easier when things are going well!!). But – it’s only me. I am the only one who can chill myself out and remain the adult.*

As the adult, it’s very easy for me to step in and help when they’re feeling frustrated. I can see solutions to problems -only when I’m not emotionally invested!- and I don’t want their fragile little egos to take a hit and then lose self-esteem.

sccccratch! 

Huh?
What happens when I get frustrated?
I try harder.
I try something else.
I leave it for a few days and then revisit the problem.
I research the issue.
I ask for help.

Why are they any different? What message am I sending to trio if I swoop in and try to erase their frustrations? How capable and confident will they feel? Am I actually undermining their self-esteem and egos? Am I inadvertently creating fragile egos?

This isn’t a new concept for me (read more here) but one which needs repeated attempts for me to understand. Frustration is an opportunity – we can feel our edges, see the edges in others, and then possibly push past them into a new territory. As a parent it’s not my role to encourage kiddo back into the known, tucked safely back into the edges. It’s how I can help kiddo meet the unknown with confidence.

Eldest kiddo and I have been working on a project. It’s a small project – replacing the gate latch on the backyard gate to keep pup-po safe. One of the first sunny day of the season had eldest and I out there armed with drills, bits, screws, and a pencil perched cool-ly on our ears. We were ready.

Broken drill bits If you look carefully, you can see the little broken drill bits still embedded in the wood.

Small, right? Yet, it is *impossible* for a person with my particular skill set to remove a broken drill bit from the wall. In fact, it turned out it was impossible for me to remove a drill bit that still had it’s shank, once said shank was no longer in the drill.

Oh boy, you wanna talk frustration. This was the epitome of frustrating. Not once, not twice, but THREE times. Argh!

 

And my sweet tween is standing stoically beside me, trying to figure out how to help, how to make it right, even as the light was fading and it was steadily growing colder, and dinner remained in it’s un-cooked form… Frustration didn’t lead to failure, though. We chatted about what happened (after I had a moment. Ok. And a glass of wine.) and why this might have happened. Turns out, we think it was just too darned cold.

 

Impossible gate latch

A warmer day this weekend meant another chance to try.

Success! Yay!

If someone had stepped in and did it for me (seriously. I was so ready for that.) I wouldn’t have learned anything. I would have stayed in my safe enclosure and not pushed into the unknown. And my tween wouldn’t have either.

 

Yay!

 

 

Same day, another story, and a different result.

 

garbage holder fail

I really want an under-the-sink garbage holder in my en-suite. I bought one a long time ago, and buoyed by my gate-latch success, I marched upstairs and measured and drilled and installed it. Twice. And then uninstalled it. And then wanted to throw it down the stairs.

Turns out, all my measuring didn’t factor in the swing angle (I think I just made up that concept). My cabinet is too small/narrow for the container – it juts out further than the cabinet door is wide. Frustration! Oh man.

 

Sometimes try-try-again doesn’t lead to success. Sometimes it just leads to a series of holes in cheap particle board.

But! We do need to learn this! We need to model this for our kids, and give them opportunities to leave holes in the walls/fences/cabinets. And then give them opportunities to fill those holes.

It also helps to give them opportunities where there is lower risk of frustration. Let them feel instant success sometimes too. These moments help bolster us that success is within reach.

banana bread

My tween had an easy go of making this delicious banana bread.

It really really IS easy. Let me know if you want the recipe for your kiddo … or maybe a successful task is just what the doctor ordered for you!

 

 

 

 

Take care,

xoMto3

 

 

*Yay mindfulness and meditation! Seriously. It’s amazing what it does for me. And, of course, the kids by extension.

Sweeties for my sweeties

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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These are the best cinnamon buns I’ve ever made (which isn’t saying a lot, my only other successful bun attempt was this past Christmas).

I ran out of granulated sugar at some point recently, and I think this is a great opportunity to switch it out for another choice (coconut sugar? Something else? Opinions anyone?)

So this recipe exclusively uses brown sugar and then icing sugar in the icing. Aaaand I used my bread machine, and let it slowly proof in my cool kitchen during the night.

Here’s the recipe!

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So for my white sugarless house, I subbed in slightly less brown sugar into the dough. And it has a deeper, mellower flavour. Given the 1.5c of icing sugar in the icing, I think it could have even less. And the cream cheese in the icing (instead of butter) really cuts down the sweetness too.

Fluffy and delicious! Oh, wait- I’ll have another taste and make sure…

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Yep! Still good.

(I forget, though, that my body doesn’t use the calories as fast as trio’s bodies do! I’ll just vicariously enjoy these, and revel in the pleasure of a successful bake!)

x Mto3

Lazy kidless Saturdays… just baking up doggy treats

Trio are with their dad (read about my intentions here) and for this visit I wrote out some ideas of what I could do while they’re away.

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Lofty, to say the least

Well, I have about 30 hours until I’m trio-ed up again and, I’m sure you savvy readers have noticed, there is nothing yet crossed off.

However! I have done other stuff. And I contemplated writing these items on the list, just for the satisfaction of being able to record and remove list items (oh come on, we all do it.) but did not.

One of the things I have done:

This morning Pup-po and I made him some doggy bikkies. I thought of you, and wondered whether you’d like this perfect time-killer to fill up the edges of time in your world when you’re looking to ignore more productive things-you-should-be-doing. It’s easy enough so you think “Oh, that’s a small thing and it will make doggy so happy!” and yet active enough so you’re not ruminating or dwelling or listlessly (ha!) staring at the wall [hm, i’m sure there’s a better joke in there for a better joker. LMK if you see it and can articulate it]

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Easy ingredients, right? If your dog tolerates wheat better than mine, please use that. My lil dude seems to have an sensitivity to it. I swirled up 1/3 cup of rolled oats to become more flour-like.

We need a cup of something – I just used a trifecta of binding agents that I had on hand: 1/3 cup of ground up oats, 1/3 cup of whole oats, 1/3 cup quinoa flour – you can use whatever you like. I wanted to channel my Tasty capabilities, so I used the smaller glass dish and poured that trifecta into said dish.

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Next is some baby food, or that amount of pureed anything. I had peas and bananas on hand, so I figured a peas-and-carrots bikkie might be nice for him. I grated in a 1/3 cup of raw carrot (it was half-a-carrot, but my carrot was kinda small).

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I am a *HUGE* cinnamon lover. Everything gets a dash. I was a little worried how it might taste with the peas and carrots, but then I realized that this is a dog cookie. He’s not going to care! I added cinnamon, but only after I accidentally used nutmeg (a total fail) because I put the nutmeg canister where the cinnamon usually lives. Sigh. I carefully scraped out the nutmeg and sprinkled in about 1/2 teaspoon.

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It came together ok. I let it sit, thinking that the oats could absorb some of the baby food. But it never really got much drier. I probably should have used more flour (but srsly. Quinoa flour is super expensive) but did not use any more, and it’s FINE!

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I even bought a cute little bone cookie cutter just for him. Bake it in a 350 deg oven (or if yours runs hot like mine, 325, otherwise they get brown and crispy at the edges, and chewy in the centre. Unless you think your friend will like them that way. I feel as though an all-the-way crispy bikkie would be good, and that way I can just leave them in a paper bag on the counter) for about 20 – 30 minutes.

Let me know what combinations you used! I think I might try peanut and banana next.

 

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Poor dude just wanted his cookie, and I chased him down saying “Wait! Wait! Sit! ah-ah! Sit!” just for the photo!

He’s such a trooper “D’oh, ok mom. Fine.”

 

Children, Gingerbread Zombies, and The Simpsons

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 11

I grew up in a family predominantly female: sisters, mother, grandma, aunts, and “auntie” friends of my mum. It was also the 70s and 80s and little girls were still somewhat expected to follow the gender stereotypes of dolls, pigtails, and dresses. I was woefully out of touch with anything but this type of childhood.

And, given that I grew up with The Simpsons (thank you Tracey Ullman!) I believe that everything can relate to an episode.

So – the connection between the two above, combined with the Christmas season, can be summed up in the following clip:

bloody spearheads for bart

Don’t know it? Marge thoughtfully baked Christmas trees for the girls, and bloody spearheads for Bart. When I first saw this episode, I thought it was funny, but it became much more real to me when I had kids of my own. Thankfully… still funny!

gingerbread zombie

Whaaaat! Zombies… as a cookie…?!

bloody santa

Santa! What have you been doing??

macabre bunnies

Oh those poor bunnies. (Um, who’s idea was it to have Christmas bunnies, anyhow? We’re more familiar around here with the Dust variety…)

It really was because of this Christmas episode from The Simpsons that I felt (more) comfortable relaxing into this idea of decorating, because traditionally my gingerbread people looked similar to this one, designed by Li’l Miss:

happy gingerbread person

And, y’know what – it was sorta fun, doing something different and not taking things too too seriously.

Being open and not tethered to my preconceived traditions encourages me and trio to be in the moment, even if it is very different from what I feel it should look like. Because, really, we’re still together, decorating cookies. We’re laughing and sharing, listening to Christmas carols. I would love to keep trio at my table for as long as I can: decorating, chatting, soaking them in, making memories just. like. this.

However, trio’s great-grandma may prefer the Christmas trees, and snowflakes, and ornaments! We’ll include those more Christmassy cookies on our dessert plate. Mmm!

gingerbread cookies

 

…I didn’t put meat in the mincemeat

Baking is one of my favourite things to do. This is something that could possibly occupy all of my time – *especially* if I had a sous-chef, chopping ahead of me, and cleaning up behind me. heaven.

Alas! None of trio are interested in this position, yet will reluctantly participate when pressed. They want Chef status; or at the very least to spice, stir, and sample. And that’s it.

On my 2015 Christmas Baking list (because of course I have one) is mincemeat. I remember not liking it [at all] when I was a kid, but I feel I’d like it as an adult – maybe not from the jars at the grocery store. Not that I am a snob about using pre-packaged food stuffs (…powdered chicken gravy is my not-so-secret shortcut), it’s just that I think I could find a recipe to tailor to my taste.

It’s my first time making this. ever. Being guided only by the vague smushy, sour, deep flavour from my childhood, I began combing through online recipes to find one that I might be able to gently modify to my imagination.

Before I even found a recipe, my imagination was telling me that I wanted a mincemeat that *wasn’t* strictly raisins and currants; one that included dates (that I already bought because I was sure they were going in), prunes (as above), cranberries, maybe some dried pineapple, and more other delicious stuff.

Mincemeat in the pot

Joy of baking’s HomemadeMincemeat is the recipe I followed, and gently modified to include the dried pineapple. I substituted prunes for the figs (darn! I wasn’t going back shopping, but this would be so gooood), and dates for the currants, and accidently added the zest and juice of a lemon and an orange. I probably also reduced the sugar amount – but only because more sugar was erroneously added through the candied peel I added.

So! Part of the reason that Mincemeat stayed on my list so long, was because I didn’t like the look of the candied peel in those little plastic containers in the grocery’s baking aisle. I wanted to try my hand at that too.

Sugary candied peel

This recipe at  The hungry mouse is amazing! I used 2 medium oranges, a lime, a lemon, and a grapefruit.

For my future self (or for those of you who are interested in following in The Hungry Mouse and Joy’s footsteps) I wouldn’t sugar coat the peel prior to adding it to the mincemeat recipe.

And in terms of time frames: I chopped all the fruit (oh ya, I also added in some chopped, toasted almonds) this morning (about 20 nonconsecutive minutes in and among helping trio get ready for school), and then threw it in the pot to simmer while I took them to school. The candied peel took some focused effort (maybe because it was my first time) but it was easy! The thinner the peel, the quicker it will cook, so I would stagger peel entries – starting with the grapefruit.

I am very grateful today for the experience of other bakers!

I will post photos of the mincemeat pie nearer to Christmas!

If you have a favourite mincemeat recipe, please let me know!