Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Give them the whole damn cookie…

November 18, 2013

UPDATE: Day 18 National Novel Writing Month. I’m 28,217 words into my YA novel. Can’t wait to find out what happens next in the story. Sure, I’m making it up, but if I already know everything my characters will say and do, plus every plot twist, there’d be zero fun in writing, thus I would not bother. It’s what I discover each day (about this fictional universe and myself), that keeps me drunk at the well.

Some semblance of the following was first posted in late 2009. Miraculously, the muffins are still fresh.

The Whole is Greater

Does this really need a caption?

Just pulled a batch of pumpkin muffins from the oven. Don’t know how they got in there, but I’m grateful as all get out. Golden, aromatic orbs of cosmic wholeness.

When Fayette was 3, David and I took her to Lake Tahoe with another couple and their two boys. IMPORTANT NOTE: Unless you know and like people really well, or you’re actually investigating ways to end a friendship, do not go on vacation with another family.

En route we hit a bakery. I let Fayette choose whatever she wanted from the display case. She picked a giant cookie carpeted in rainbow sprinkles and held it tenderly, incredulous that such a thing of beauty belonged to her. But before she got a nibble, Other Mom (the one we were traveling with, not my evil alter-ego) grabbed the cookie. “That’s too big for you to eat by yourself. Let’s share it.” Snapping it in two, Other Mom handed half to her son and the other half back to my shell-shocked girl who erupted in tears.

Other Mom shot me a “Woah, your kid’s a spoiled brat” look. I nearly slugged her for turning Fayette’s perfect treasure into a crumbly mess.

For the record, Fayette was never a brat. She sparkles with resilience and a sunny disposition, for which I can take no credit. She also has an outstanding mom. But I digress.

It’s been years since the unfortunate incident in the bakery and we’ve (mostly) forgiven Other Mom’s misguided attempt to teach the joys of sharing. No seriously, we don’t blame her any more. Okay.. well, maybe a tad.

When something that ought to be whole is less than, our wiring triggers a loss. Compound those disappointments and we lose our confidence and trust in the people around us. Obviously we adults can’t control what others give to us, but when it comes giving to our kids, we ought to deliver the whole. That means:

a) Our complete attention when our child wants to show us something, even when we’ve got a million other things to do.

b) Our completely open mind when our daughter needs to talk about what’s worrying her, even if it makes no rational sense to us.

c) Our completely open heart when our son confesses to messing up (again).

Our kids are quickly growing up and away. Give them the whole damn cookie while they’re still living with us. That’s what we signed up for. That’s what they need.

PS Got a pumpkin loitering about? Put it to use and have some fun in the kitchen with the kids:

Pumpkin Raisin Muffins (Thank you, Betty Crocker)

1 and 1/2 cups flour 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
(Gotta cook it first. You knew that, right?)
2 tsps baking powder 1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp salt 1 egg
1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400. Grease muffin tin. Mix all ingredients just until flour is moistened. Fill muffin cups. Bake 18-20 min. Pop ‘em out of the pan. Cool. Devour.

UPDATE 2013: A year ago David and I went to Tahoe and searched for the same bakery. Alas, it was gone. But we found a nearby bakery, bought a large rainbow sprinkle cookie and presented it to a delighted Fayette when we returned to the Bay Area. She was touched, her eyes sparkle and we apologized for not doing more during the original Cookie Mishap. Of course she forgave us and happily ate the whole perfect cookie.


Filed under: Happiness,Holidays,Parenting — Tags: , , — Annie @ 12:44 pm

For Parents: When life gives you lemons

December 15, 2008

Lemon bars for everyone!

Lemon bars for everyone!

Last spring I extolled the virtues of my lemon tree… particularly its knack for living out all the chapters of its life simultaneously. Can you imagine having to deal with the mishigas of your own childhood, adolescence, sexual prime, pregnancy, middle age, decline and death all at once?! And yet, when it’s April in Lemon Land, it’s all happening and it’s all good.

But now it’s December. Different story. Here in planting Zone 8b, the entire tree is synched up to its “Pick me NOW!!” mode.

I love living off the land. Like most backyard gardeners, there are times we eat our homegrown tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We praise Demeter and offer tomato-scented incense in her name. And at the end of the summer we’re grateful to swim in peaches and apples too. But keeping pace with a bumper crop of lemons is just not that easy.

It’s true that lemons have tons of non-eating uses like: bringing out your hair’s blond highlights, polishing chrome, keeping guacomole green, and providing your garbage disposal with a refreshing chaser after you’ve stuffed it with moldy onions. But let’s face it, lemons are food. And when it comes to stuff that I’ve grown, I really hate wasting it.

So, yesterday, when we got word that David’s band concert was rained out, Ezra and Sarah, Mr. Trombone and I decided to have some fun while seriously reducing our lemon footprint. Because we’re foodies, we agreed that it was perfect baking weather. An online visit to Food Network yielded this recipe for lemon bars. Not only has it received an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars from 110 people, it calls for a whole cup of lemon juice! In case you’re wondering, we had to sacrifice 13 large lemons to the cause. The worms in my bin got the peels and if they turn into blonds, I’ll know why.

So there we were, cozy in the kitchen, happily grating, measuring, pouring, scraping and rolling. We also cooperated, speculated, communicated, brain-stormed, problem-solved, and laughed. And yes, later on we ate.

This recipe gets a solid 5 stars for taste. 5 stars for an excellent use of lots of otherwise purposeless lemons. And (most important) 5 stars for providing us with a blueprint for a fun time together.

So what did we learn? Couple of things, actually. When you’re faced with a thick-skinned problem, instead of complaining, minimizing, wishing it would just go away or pretending that it is so not a problem for you, just get in that sucker’s face. Peel it down to its essence. Squeeze the life out of it. Then add a bunch of sugar and enjoy.

Pretty sweet stuff!

Clearly, the Lemon Law applies to anything you may view as a problem, present time or upcoming. Take the upcoming Winter Break. This one is longer than most as school doesn’t resume until January 5th. Maybe you’re starting to think of those days upon days of family time as a problem… or is it? Here’s a free suggestion, meaning that you’re free to ignore it: Have a family meeting in advance of the holidays. Turn off cell phones and open the floor to suggestions of how the family might spend some of that free time. Stay at the table until you’ve all agreed on at least two fun things to do together during the holidays – maybe one traditional activity that everyone enjoys plus one off-the-wall new idea.

Having more unstructured stress-free time together is good for families. It’s also what we wish we had more of during the school year, right? Well, now’s your chance to orchestrate some fun.

Good luck and let me know how it went.


Filed under: Holidays,Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 5:17 pm
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