Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Power of Persuasion

My parenting battle these days is sleep.  Actually... if I stop and think about it, sleep has been an ongoing issue for about 7 years...  So, let me rephrase that - I think Silas is starting to give up his afternoon nap and I'm fighting it.  Tooth and nail.

I was chatting with some girlfriends a little while ago about some of our parenting habits that we aren't proud of (i.e. soothers and bottles to help our kids sleep).  And I admitted that I let my 3-year-old son take a Disney Princess sippy-cup with milk to bed every nap-time.  If the princess cup is dirty, I will wash it.  And if he asks for a refill, I will get him one.  And when he screams that he needs to be tucked in for the 3rd time, I go in and quietly do it.  Why?  Because I want him to sleep.  I NEED him to sleep. It is the only time I can do my transcription work uninterrupted.  Or update my blog.  Or just sit and read a book.  It is the key to my sanity.  And I will even stoop to bad parenting strategies to make it happen.

But at night I'm firm that he can't have milk in bed because his teeth are brushed (and I want to make sure he can fall asleep without it) so then I sometimes need other ways to convince him that sleep is what needs to happen next on the agenda.  Since the 3 kids are sharing a room for the foreseeable future, bedtime can be chaotic and I feel like I have to be creative to get them settled - Silas especially.  So I've learned that the power of a good story can work wonders - especially with a 3 year old.  My classic go-to trick is to find the nearest stuffed animal or toy and pretend that it's whispering a secret into my ear.  A secret which I then relay onto Silas.  Usually it goes something like this: "Mr. Froggy is so tired but he's having a hard time falling asleep.  He needs someone to help him, but who??"  This usually brings a smile out of Silas - probably in part because he knows I'm full of it, but also in part because he really likes the idea of helping out his little froggy friend.  Or I might say something like, "Elmo has never slept in your bed before and he's feeling a little nervous.  Could you hold him extra tight?"  And after Elmo is thoroughly tucked in and kissed goodnight I can remind Silas to whisper so that we don't wake Elmo up.

I'm telling you, this has saved many a bedtime and nap in our house.

This tactic can be brought to the dinner table as well (but I have to give credit to an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba that gave me the initial idea - haha).  Giving food a personality is surprisingly effective; "Silas, that first carrot you ate is having a big party in your tummy right now but the other one on your plate is sad because he wants to go to the party too!"  Silas is usually pretty pumped to help carrot #2 get to the tummy party.  Perhaps some might say I'm instilling a sense of guilt into my preschooler if he makes his vegetables sad.  But, in the big scheme of things?  I just want him to eat.

My honest desire is to be the parent that does everything "right"; the parent that disciplines my children appropriately even when it's inconvenient for me; the parent that wouldn't resort to bribery and princess-cups full of milk to get the desired results.  I'd like to be that parent.  And I think I'm working towards that.  But I think most of us agree that sometimes you just have to do what works.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pass the Platz

With the summer (a.k.a. fruit-bearing season) approaching, we've been mindful to finish using up last summer's pickings that are still living in our freezer.  I still had a big bag full of purple plums from our backyard tree and all I could think about was making them into plum platz (a.k.a. fruit coffee cake - Mennonite style).  I've never made platz before and I expected it to be a complicated recipe for some reason.  But when I found the recipe on Mennonite Girls Can Cook, it was surprisingly easy...

I made a batch for our care group and it was such a hit that they even gave me a round of applause.
Yeah, our care group is cool like that.

And since the recipe was so successful, I decided to make another batch the very next day.

So, if you've got any ripe or frozen fruit around, here's a great way to use it up!


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Grease a 9x13 pan

In the food processer (or with a pastry blender) combine:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup butter

(The food processer worked brilliant - way better than using a pastry blender!)

Mix until the mixture is crumbly and then add:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla

Spread into the prepared pan.

Top with chopped fresh or frozen fruit of your choice.  

I was running low on plums for my second batch so I added in some blueberries.  
(It was good but the pure plum one was better in my opinion :)

Crumb Topping:

- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup of butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups sugar

Combine to make crumbs and sprinkle over fruit.

(Yeah, there's a reason this stuff is so good... 
butter + sugar = true love 4-ever)


Bake in the top 1/3 of your oven for about 30 minutes - until golden brown.

Then amaze your family and friends with a little slice of heaven...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Garden Party

Saturday marked our first annual garden planting day at the farm.

We started with brunch together outside, at which point the day was promising to be beautiful.

Then it was time to get to work.  Erik and the boys took on the task of potato planting.

And Grandma got the girls started with some smaller seeds.

Keziah got right to work putting peas in the dirt.

And Emerson got right to work un-planting many of those peas.

We were able to rescue most, but time will tell how many seeds escaped their rows when things start popping up.

Emerson had a great time anyway, and managed to get herself good and dirty by the end of the morning.

You gotta appreciate the Toews-style carpentry that went into this garden project.  While we planted, Doug was in the shop cutting some pretty solid-looking garden stakes, which Elissa then labeled for all of our rows.

Keziah was pretty proud of her row of sweet corn.  Mmmm.  I can almost taste it already.

And this next picture is mostly for my mom who wanted to know where we ended up planting the garden.  It's just to the south of our shop and double car-port.

I found this picture from a similar vantage point that was taken back in October.  You might remember this post about the old pig barn that used to live here and how we had this area cleared out.

Now the fun part starts as we watch and wait for our little green plants to poke out of the ground!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Morning Stroll

Today was the end of a really busy week.  Busy with plenty of good things - like an out-of-town guest, hosting our care group, attending a baby shower, and helping out friends...  But busy, nonetheless.

Today the sky was clear and the sun was warm, so it was necessary to leave the house work and other tasks calling me from inside and head outdoors.

Silas and I started out with some Moses cuddles.

And then a visit with the calves.  We learned, by the way, that our youngest calf Buttercup is actually a he instead of a she.  So, it turns out that we have 3 males.  

The kids are suggesting that we change Buttercup's name to Kevin.

Then it was time for a little ride down our street.  Silas does circles around me on his Strider bike already.

We made the mandatory stop to throw a few rocks in the creek.

And then we went to visit our horse friends.  They come to the fence when they see us now because they know we'll feed them nice big handfuls of long grass.

The grass is always greener on the other side, apparently.

And we saw our neighborhood kitty friend on the way back.  He was quick to jump off his perch to say hello.

Amidst the busy-ness of the week it's nice to simply stop and smell the flowers...

...even if those flowers are just dandelions :)

Happy weekend!