Some Parenting Inspiration – On a Dreary Wednesday

It must have something to do with early onset second-birthday-syndrome. Maybe I’m in denial that this little creature, once so tiny and dependent, is growing leaps and bounds every day.

This all makes me even more grateful for all the hard-working parents before me, and the ideas they have so kindly left in their wake. Periodically, I thought I might highlight a few of the new insights I’ve picked up. Most of the things I take note of aren’t yet applicable in our own parenting adventures, but I jot down fun traditions, practical discipline tips, and everything in between as it crosses my path.

Here are a few things that have piqued my interest lately. These are completely random in nature, so bear that in mind as you read!

Sweeping Guide: Tape off a small kitchen tile with coloured/patterned tape, and have your child sweep dirt (or, if they’re younger, maybe something more exciting like toy blocks) in to that area.

Praise Report: Each evening at supper, go around the table and give a “praise report”, noting something positive you’ve noticed another sibling/parent do throughout the day.

Pirate Supper: Cover the table with newspaper, and make a “hands-only” supper (pizza, finger foods) – no plates, no cutlery. How COOL would that be for the kids and such an easy clean-up for the parents.

Practice Birthdays: On a random day, at breakfast, bring your child a mini-cupcake with a lit candle. Tell them it’s to help them hone their candle-blowing techniques before their real birthday.

Half-Birthdays: Along the same lines…celebrate half birthdays with half a cake and a half-used candle.

Memorizing Numbers: If you want your child to remember your phone number, make it the pass code on a smart-phone/tablet device. For addresses, take some index cards and write the number, street name, city, province/state, postal code, country etc., on different cards. Mix them up and have the children learn to put them in order.

Fair Doesn’t Mean Equal: While we don’t have any sibling rivalries to deal with yet, I remember complaining about “fairness” and “equality” lots when I was a little girl. One Mom used a simple object lesson to show that fairness doesn’t always mean “equal-ness”. She picked a favourite family recipe and had the children all add the same amount…of every ingredient. Same of sugar, flour…baking soda…salt. It’s a pretty powerful lesson that sometimes fair doesn’t mean equal, and being equal in all things (maybe having the same bedtime as an older sister) doesn’t always give a favorable result.

Indoor Campouts: No electricity, no TV, no microwaves, and everyone sleeps on air mattresses in the living room. I loved camping out in the backyard as a kid, but this option would work year-round!

Banana Sushi: A banana, covered in peanut butter, rolled in Rice Krispies. You could take this to a whole new level with melted chocolate for wasabi. Adorable.

Birthday Interview Book: Ask your child the same set of questions (there are templates ALL over the web) on their birthday from ages 3-18 (favourite colour, what they want to be when they grow up), and watch how they change!

I have a whole notebook full of more ideas, and I’ll post some more in the near future!

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Mom’s Banana Bread

banana bread

Let’s talk about Mom’s Banana Bread. My “Mom’s Banana Bread”…not, under any circumstances, to be confused with your mom’s banana bread (which I’m sure is good, but can’t be as great as my Mom’s). Honestly, I think this is a recipe inherited from my Grammie, so if you want to be technical, I suppose this is actually Mom’s Mom’s Banana Bread. Whoever made it, or invented it, or first served it – they have my undying allegiance. My entire childhood was punctuated by encounters with this stuff, which is about as addictive as re-runs of Amercia’s Funniest Home Videos (seriously, how can I still laugh every single time someone gets hit [you know where] by a kid swinging a baseball bat).

Of course, it’s not surprising this recipe is now a staple in our little household. Abby devours the stuff. Literally, it’s like she becomes a human vacuum any time a piece of banana bread is placed within a 2 km radius. She comes by it honestly; one of the last batches I whipped up – I ate THREE slices fresh out of the oven. Thick slices.

Great on it’s own, it goes to a whole new level when slathered in butter or, even better, peanut butter. Everything’s better with peanut butter. Just like everything’s better with bacon. And, peanut butter is to banana as…eggs are to bacon (now wouldn’t that make a great IQ question); great on their own, but dynamite together.

This is the simplest recipe I’ve ever found, and literally takes less than five minutes to prepare.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter (softened)
  • 1 cup white sugar (I use 1/2 cup)
  • 3 mashed, ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Mash bananas (side note: I HATE mashing bananas with a fork, and just toss them into the bowl and turn on the beaters for a few seconds and presto – mashed bananas).
  2. Cream butter, sugar (I use half of what the recipe calls for and it’s still plenty sweet), and egg together. Add bananas.
  3. Dissolve baking soda in warm water, stir, and add to other wet ingredients. Add flour and salt. Mix.
  4. Pour into greased loaf pan or muffin tins.
  5. Bake at 350°C for 35-40 minutes (less for muffins); check done-ness with a skewer.

Notes:

I have tried, with good success, to make a slightly healthier version. I find it easier to do this by doubling the recipe. In this case I use a single egg, and replace half the butter with applesauce. The texture changes slightly, but it’s still delicious. Usually, though, I just indulge in the full-fat recipe, and tell my thighs we’ll tack an extra 5 minutes on to our next run. Life’s too short for bad desserts.

For extra kicks, I’ll toss in a handful of chocolate chips.

muffins