Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Declining the Beauty Invitation

What is beauty?

I was raised to understand that beauty was internal - the light that shines from your eyes and the personality that draws others to you. Of course, that didn't stop me from, at one time or another, believing I wanted to be a model when I grew up - so glamorous - such an exciting lifestyle.

Years later, I have a much more mature outlook on beauty. Yes, there are times I wish I had been 'blessed' more, but I understand now that beauty is, first and foremost, subjective. What I find physically beautiful does not always register with what others believe to be physically beautiful. And what I deem beautiful in personality, in maturity, in mien does not always correlate to others' definition of beauty. And heaven forbid we forget just how much those magazine covers are touched-up before they go to print.

It has taken me a long time to understand and accept that, not only will certain things about myself, physically, never change to what the 'accepted' norm for beauty in our society is, but also that there is no real 'accepted' definition of beauty because it is, in fact, all subjective. And the stronger my voice is for acknowledging this absence of a steadfast norm, the more accepting of myself am I, as well as a good lesson and model for my students.

So, why the blog post on beauty?

Lately, on social media, there seems to have been a ridiculous surge in beauty products that 'will help me feel beautiful and reach the standard of beauty for which I've been striving' (my quotes are more sarcasm than any advertising). And it hasn't been just one or two independent sales reps who have been trying to make money on the side - I get that. I'm a public school teacher. There have been times I've considered becoming a consultant for one thing or another in order to make money, especially during the summer months.

But I've been included in, without permission requested, two groups for various wraps, groups for various beauty products, groups for exercise regimens, etc. I followed a woman on Instagram because we seemed to have the same interests. She has two young sons near the age of my son. She is active in her life and offers tips for the working Mom. It made sense that, considering all we had in common, I make that connection. But then she started pushing her private business more than posting her daily life. It began to feel like I was scanning through an online infomercial rather than seeing her life as a mother of boys. So, I unfollowed her. Why should I deliberately accost myself with her advertisements when I have the power to eliminate them?

I went on a 'cleaning spree' at that moment, and unfollowed another mother who was doing the same thing. And then I went to Facebook and disengaged myself from the various groups who had drafted me without my acknowledgment. Within 5 minutes, one of those groups added me back in, again without asking if I wanted to be part of it.

Here's the deal - I don't want to be part of it.

I am, by MY standards, not gorgeous. I am, however, beautiful. I am loving and accepting and loyal. I take care of myself as best I can with what I have and am determined not to live outside my means to suit what is currently in style just to fit in with society or to make myself more beautiful. I have a delightfully precocious and entertaining son, a loving husband, a job that keeps me on my toes and an active life that involves all of these aspects. I do not have extra time or money, or energy for that matter, to dedicate to wraps and creams and peels and anything else that makes me feel unworthy.

So, I'm fighting back. I am enough.

I applaud anyone who wishes to participate in any of these endeavors. But only if you're doing this for yourself and not because of peer pressure or guilt or generally feeling unworthy. Because you're not.

You're not unworthy. You're beautiful. It takes all kinds to make this world the glorious mix that it is. I felt that we were moving in the correct direction recently - that the airbrushing was being made known, and that body image issues were coming to light. And then this surge hit. And I want everyone to know that it matters not what you think is wrong, because you are right. You are beautiful.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Endometriosis Diet - Gluten-Free Spinach Quiche Casserole

I grew up with my mother making a quiche recipe that is very comforting - it was made often enough to reside in my memory and remind me of home, but not so often that it seemed overdone or too common for a weekly meal repertoire. I've made this often over the years for my girlfriends when they come over to talk over a pot of tea, and I've made it to take to school for pot luck lunches. And then I had a child, my endometriosis grew worse, and I wanted to determine a way to made the quiche gluten-free, after learning just how badly gluten affects my health.

In the course of trial-and-error, I can tell you, very easily, that I've found corn noodles to hold up better for hearty meals - spaghetti, a casserole such as this recipe, etc. Use rice noodles for lighter meals - ones that will not be subjected to heating and cooling - pasta salad, etc. The corn pasta needs to cook a little longer to soften more, but be watchful of both corn and rice noodles, as once they soften, they reeealllly soften and can easily become mush.

First things first - set a full package of frozen spinach to thaw. After it is completely thawed (I set it out overnight), I poke holes in the bag and set a heavy pot on it to help squeeze out the extra liquid. Let this drain until you're ready for it.

Here, I cooked 3/4 of a package of corn macaroni. Salt the water very well. I would usually prepare all the other ingredients while these cooked and toss them together as soon as draining the noodles, but my son needed some help and distracted me - it happens! So, I drained these and tossed them in olive oil, which I think actually helped keep them moist as the casserole baked.
I chopped up about 1/2 cup of onion and two cloves of garlic - normally, in other meals, I would prefer to saute the onions and garlic in oil and then toss them with the other ingredients, but I actually really like the extra texture the crunch from the onions brings to the dish.
In order to keep with my endo diet, I used non-dairy cheese. The non-dairy cheese melts just like real cheese - if you're testing which foods affect you, slowly weed out triggers - red meat, gluten, and dairy impact the way I feel the most, so I try to severely limit my intake on those. I do indulge every once in a while, but it has to be negligent quantities or I will feel it much sooner. Here, I used my kitchen shears to cut up already-cooked bacon, the shredded cheese, and the onions and garlic.

I've also added chopped bell peppers, quinoa, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, etc. The leftovers in your refrigerator are a perfect way to make this yours! Or your imagination...
For a casserole this size, I use at least 6 eggs, but it honestly comes down to your preference for how moist you want your casserole to be. Whisk the eggs with about a cup of milk (I used rice milk, as my son has a nut allergy and I try to stay away from soy).

Add the drained spinach to the eggs and mix well. It is to this mixture that I also added some leftover brown rice. Make sure you salt and pepper the mixture well.
After mixing all the 'dry' ingredients together, and whisking all the wet ones, fold them together and pour over the noodles in a separate, large container. Mix well. Use nonstick spray on your baking dish, and spread the mixture evenly. Sprinkle more non-dairy cheese over the top.
Bake on 325* for about 30 minutes for this size of a pan. Keep an eye on it, though, as you don't want the noodles to dry out.
Doesn't it look delectable? Yum.
I've made this in a slow-cooker, too, so if you're thinking of a pot luck (I did last year just to make sure I had something I could eat at the luncheon), do not worry. Just watch the time and temperature it is cooking so you don't overdo it.

It is healthy. It is filling. And it keeps my blood sugar in check without exacerbating my endometriosis any worse. And I love the fact that I can toss in nearly any vegetables I currently have on hand with it.

Please let me know if you try this! I want to know how you liked it.

Gluten-Free Spinach Quiche Casserole

3/4 of a pound of corn noodles.
6 eggs
1 cup of milk (unsweetened soy, rice, cow's, or nut)
1 pound frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
2 cups of shredded cheese
1 package of already-cooked thick-cut bacon
1/2 a large onion
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the noodles (salt well) and drain
2. Whisk the eggs and milk together
3. Mix in the thawed and drained spinach (and any other vegetables you prefer)
4. Chop up the onion and garlic
5. Toss with 2 cups of cheese and chopped up package of bacon
6. Toss the 'dry' ingredients with the noodles in a large bowl
7. Add in the egg mixture and mix it all thoroughly
8. Use nonstick spray on your casserole dish
9. Spread the casserole mixture well, making the edges slightly thicker than the middle so it cooks evenly.
10. Bake at *325 for about 25-30 minutes.

Enjoy!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Endometriosis Diet - Coconut Rice

I love to cook. I believe that anyone who stumbles upon my blog and spends any amount of time on here would agree. I also love to read, and I love to experiment - so it is natural that the two would go hand-in-hand at some point, right?
As a life-long survivor of endometriosis, I am ever on a quest to find ways to make my quality of life not merely bearable, but also enjoyable. You can actually begin reading my story here. And since endo is so closely placed to the digestive tract, I can't help but think that what my endo-sisters and I choose to eat has a huge impact on our symptoms.
So, long story short? I am now completely gluten-free, as I've tested it out and gluten definitely exacerbates my endo flares. I am also completely red meat free, and very limited in dairy products. And that limit in dairy means that one comfort component of food for me - the creaminess that comes with using butter and heavy cream and cheese is limited or eliminated.
Yum.
*Sigh.

So imagine my delight when I was reading Love in the Time of Cholera, in which they referenced Coconut Rice several times over, and I immediately went to my Pinterest board titled "Food from Lit" to look for recipes of coconut rice. I tried it, was mostly pleased, and have tweaked the recipe several times over since then only to find that:

  1. I love coconut rice (my version) AND
  2. It helps my endometriosis AND
  3. It is SO CREAMY!!!!
This makes me downright giddy! To have flavorful, creamy rice with no dairy in it! How fabulous is that?

Here's your ingredients: I go for the highest fat content I can find in whatever brands the stores have - and I never knew there were so many brands of coconut milk in our area. The "official" recipe called for jasmine rice, but I've also done this with long-grain, etc. It works with any white rice, but the jasmine helps with the pearly, creaminess of it all. Don't forget your sea salt - adds flavor without sodium, and fresh garlic.

Open the can of coconut milk - if the fat is coagulated on the top, be careful as you begin to scoop it out or it will cave in suddenly and splash everywhere. You want to save as much fat as possible from the can. I put it in a recycled Kool-Aid container and use the lid to measure. I used two lid-fuls, which is approximately 2 cups of rice.
Add about 2 teaspoons of salt and chop up your garlic. I love garlic, so I must have it strong enough to easily taste - I use at least 2 large cloves, or, as in today's case, 4 small cloves. If you're not a garlic person, reduce that amount. Stir all the ingredients together.

Here's the beauty of my method of cooking rice. Or rather, the Filipino method of cooking rice. I lived with a Filipino family for a summer one year when I was in college. They taught me that, regardless of what any recipe book says, if you're making white rice, it doesn't matter what measurement of rice you've used - you simply add water until, when you insert your finger into the pot, and you barely rest your tip on the top layer of rice, the water comes to your first knuckle.
Really. And I've tried to follow the recipes. It doesn't matter if I use my microwave rice cooker, my electric rice cooker, or cook rice on the stove, this methods works better than any recipe you can follow. You will not have dried out white rice if you follow this method.
I will say this - after you add water (rinsing the rest of the fat out of the can and into the pot!) and put the pot on the stove, stir everything really well - the grains stick to the bottom faster with the coconut fat. You want to loosen everything so that the rice doesn't burn. Turn the burner on medium high to get the water warm, stir again and cover. Reduce the heat to low and set a timer for 25 minutes.

You will be greeted with creamy, garlicky deliciousness when the timer goes off. Turn off the burner, stir, perhaps adding a splash more water, and set the lid back on so all moisture can be soaked up by the rice.
I know that coconut macaroons can be helpful for those who suffer from IBS. And since endo symptoms are so closely related to IBS, I tend to think this is a similar reaction. Every time I've eaten coconut rice, even if I've gorged myself on it, I do not feel ill the next day. The book, Love in the Time of Cholera, called for fried fish with coconut rice. I haven't made the fried part, but I have made baked fish and fish sticks with it, and it does go together very nicely.

Let me know if you try this! Happy Cooking!!

Coconut Rice

2 cups of white rice
1 can of (high fat) coconut milk
2 teaspoons of sea salt
2-3 cloves of garlic (to taste)
Water as needed

1. Chop the garlic, and add the garlic, salt, can of coconut milk and rice to a pot.
2. Stir the pot, and add water until, while inserting your finger, the tip of your finger touches the rice and water reaches your first knuckle.
3. Stir well and begin to heat.
4. When the water starts getting hot, cover and turn the burner to low. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
5. When the timer goes off, stir well and add a splash of water. 
Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Return to Blogging, More Snow & Memories, And a King Cake Surprise

My goodness - I am rather embarrassed by the length of the break I took. It was, by no means, deliberate. I've been trying to handle a bit more this year and, though I've had quite a few posts that began in my head, they never quite made it to fruition on here. Please forgive me.

So, it was a year ago that we had our most recent snow day. A year ago on Valentine's that Syd and I baked a homemade heart shaped cake (one square and one round pan) and whipped up homemade buttercream frosting, dyed pink, for Daddy when he got home. A year ago that my then 4 year old discovered the joy that comes with playing in the clean snow, building forts, climbing piles and drifts, and throwing snowballs at Mommy as she shoveled.

And now, it is Fat Tuesday after Valentine weekend and we're home again, two days in a row (after shoveling, I am thinking it will be 3 - our roads still haven't been touched), thankful for Daddy and hoping he makes it home safely. He wasn't able to get the jeep this time, so I again went out to shovel as much of the driveway and street as possible so he could get in this evening. The biggest difference is that Syd has been ill with some weird virus - so, though I'm in better shape than I was last year, I'm a bit more worn out.

Regardless, a load of bed sheets and towels are now clean. And dishes are done. And shoveling is halfway finished. If we have another day off tomorrow, it will be completed then. It took me 2 days last year, too. And hopefully, one more day home will fully remedy Syd before we have to worry about school again.

So, what do you bake when the weather is/was nasty? Cookies? Brownies? We wanted something different, and since we've been home with a sick child and didn't make it to the grocery store this weekend, it needed to be something I could make with what I had. Enter, King Cake! It is, after all, Fat Tuesday! I found this recipe, which seemed easy enough. Aside from what the title says, though, it was not 'quick.'

Here, Syd is helping Mommy mix the dough. He's adding the eggs.

One of my favorite memories as a child was helping my mother knead the dough to her homemade wheat bread. Oh - so soft and warm. And I would always sneak a tiny piece. She let me have a tiny ball all to myself to knead, eat, bake - do with as I saw fit. I want Syd to have those feelings as he grows. and I want him to know some basics to cooking. Here, he's experiencing kneading for the first time. He loved getting flour everywhere and dusting off his hands like a master chef!
 My first attempt at a braid - I undid this, stretched the pieces out longer and tried to make a tighter braid. See below...
Leftover from Syd's Star Wars birthday (TRULY ashamed I didn't post any of those! I may do so retroactively...) I used blue edible glitter to help spruce up the King Cake - I don't know that I have enough powdered sugar to make the frosting, so I thought this would help. Here, the dough is rising for a second time.
Aaaand - baked. Now cooling on a rack. I can't wait to hide a little Lego guy inside and frost it, adding more sprinkles. I hope Steve is pleasantly surprised, and I hope he understands the true sentiments behind our little endeavor.
I put a movie on before heading out to shovel. I came in about an hour later and found this. Poor little guy. But, several hours later, he seems to be feeling much better, so let's hope that was the trick!
What have you gotten up to on your days off, if you were happily surprised by this storm (which was quite far reaching!)? How did you fill your days, or relax, or surprise family? Share below!

I hope you all stay safe and happy and warm as our Polar Vortex of 2015 continues. Happy Shoveling and Baking!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Comes to Another Close - New School Year Goals

I can't believe it is nearly time. This summer, more so than in the past, seems to have flown by. Syd is older and requires much more energy out of me, though, so that may be where my lapse in time enters. He also grew out of his naps a few weeks into summer, so I've been mourning the loss of my quiet "Mommy Time."

So, with only a few more items left on my "Things I Have to Get Done During Summer or They Won't Get Done" list, my mind is already distracted by looking to the future and the beginning of a new chapter. What do I need to do so my work week goes more smoothly? What do I need to accomplish so I don't feel a panic rise at the thought of the first day of school? How can I make mine, and my family's, lives better over the next few weeks in preparation for the next 9 months?
  1. I want to stockpile slow-cooker recipes and create "at-a-glance" grocery lists for items specific to these recipes that I may need. Starting last year, we utilized our slow-cooker much more frequently. It saved many a dinner. In fact, I want to obtain a smaller size for meals that require more than one component, or for desserts. I've become a fanatic on Pinterest, pinning slow-cooker recipes that I think my family would enjoy. I need to sort these and organize them in a way to ensure at least 2 meals a week via the slow-cooker. And stockpile the little baggies that make cleanup soooo much quicker.
  2. I also want to stock up my freezer with pre-made breakfasts. I've done that every fall, and it helps tremendously until we find our rhythm. Frozen homemade pancakes for Syd; egg cups w/ veggies for me - look through the recipes I've discussed on this blog and you'll find these hints for a healthy and easy start to the mornings. Just make sure you use parchment paper to separate the frozen pancakes or you'll spend more time trying to pry them apart!
  3. Syd is all set for school clothes, but I need a few fresh items. My wardrobe is tired. But I hate loathe despise detest clothes shopping. It takes all my energy. Regardless, I need to find a few new items to add to my closet before I have no time to get out and look around.
  4. One last thorough scrub of the house would be nice, but I'm not pushing it. I've had a mind to scrub the kitchen floor all summer. I'm not sure it would be worth it, though, since at one point or another, I've had to mop up something Syd spilled, so I'm sure the floor got wiped in its entirety anyway, right? I'm just thrilled I got to wipe down all cabinets and the ceiling fans. It doesn't hurt to hope, though, since I probably won't get to a full cleansing again until winter break. 
And now, for school goals...
  1. Last year, I did well with utilizing all my free time during the 1st semester. I stayed on top of assignments and I handed back papers quicker than I ever have in the past. I was very proud of myself. And burned out very quickly. I teach upper level students - which translates to a ton of short answer and essay grading - by winter break, I was exhausted and felt I'd ignored my own needs (and some of my family's needs) far too much. I need to continue to work on balance. This will be my 10th year as a high school teacher, and I STILL have no idea how to balance home life with school. It is very frustrating.
  2. I rearranged my room - my set-up needed a big change. It is far more inconvenient for me, but I'm hoping it will encourage me to monitor more closely the students as they work. I spent three days at a workshop with Anita Archer and, while I don't agree with everything she taught, found a great deal of her ideas to be the change I needed in my classroom. I'm hoping to be able to reach the students who flail more quickly to ensure their success - especially in our society's data-driven school system.
  3. I want to work to help our department stay tightly-knit. We're a very close department. But stress and duties and priorities can cause hairline fractures in any relationship. I know we're coming in after time off and that is the best medicine teachers can have, but I want to mend any rifts and make sure we're 'feeling the love.' I've got a special project in line for our first department meeting. And yes, it's a little cheesy, but I don't care - I'm a cheesy person. And proud of it. :-)
I love teaching. I know that keeping my list of expectations for myself small will help me succeed - and even though the list is small, the objectives are rather large. So, here's to new beginnings. Here's to a new chapter and, as a last note, Autumn, my favorite season, is nearly here! All will be right with the world. :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Little Boy's Dresser - Putting Dreams to Reality

Forgive me for my absence. I am quite ashamed at how much time has passed since I wrote a post. I have nothing to say except - this was a doozy of a school year. And I needed to distance myself from all that is scholastic for a time in order to feel the quickening that is necessary before I start to plan for next year.

In that distancing from all academia, I have discovered about myself that, as much as I love to bake, or write, or draw, or build out of blocks, or paint - I am a creative person - and as much as I find solace and enjoyment and relaxation in any of these while I am enmeshed in them, I would not be happy making  a career out of any one of them. I get giddy over putting together a lesson that I think is wonderful and interesting for my students. But I also find tremendous satisfaction in baking for my friends and family or making a healthy, satiating dinner for my family. I get butterflies when a poem bursts out of me with nary a distinct thought from my own head telling my hand what to write. I can take a deep breath and sigh with exhausted contentment when I battle, and defeat, a big mess or pile of laundry. And I had an unbelievable amount of fun conquering the mess that was this dresser, making it something my 4 year old is thrilled to have in his room. I need to flex my creative muscles in a wide variety of ways in order to feel whole. And this dresser put my muscles to the test in more ways than one.
I got it for free. I subscribe to freecycle.com - a website that is, essentially, a list where people send out emails stating they have something to give or need - all for free. It is a way of preventing the landfills from overflowing. Last winter, a very nice woman posted that she had an antique dresser to give away. It had water and termite damage. It was in very rough shape. It originally had four legs that stood it at least another 10 inches off the ground, but one leg was broken (eaten) off. Since I knew I would need another dresser for my son, soon, I accepted it. He's small. It made more sense to just cut off the three remaining legs and bring it down to his height.  
In the process of priming it (two coats of Kilz - water damage stains soaked through almost immediately), I realized the bottom drawer was not worth the effort to fix. So, I broke off the sides and bottom and kept the front panel. My husband sawed off the braces for the bottom drawer, and we now have a nook where my son can keep his shoes out of the way and in one place, freeing up some space in his toy room.
My son loves blue. It has been his favorite color since the day he could point out colors. He always wants to wear blue. He wants blue food. He wants blue toys. At a birthday party yesterday, he chose a cupcake to eat solely on the fact that it had a blue cocktail umbrella in it. So, it was an easy choice for me to pick colors. He picked out two blues that he liked (though his absolute favorite is the darker of the two). I painted the entire outside of the dresser in this darker color - two coats. The insert panels and the inside of the dresser are the lighter shade.
For my son's 5th birthday in September, we're having a Star Wars themed party. He adores Star Wars (episodes 4-6). They have become his new pick for sick days, for rainy afternoons, etc. I found these drawer pulls on Etsy - the characters are outlined in glow-in-the-dark paint. They are a big hit with the little one!
The drawers (and the third front panel) I painted in a color that is actually a twilight purple. It is very dark, but not black. I wanted them to stand out from the blues on the dresser. Then, I scoured the internet, poster sales, wall paper selections - you name it! - for solar systems, planets, stars. I wanted a celestial background for his Star Wars characters to stand against. I finally resorted to checking a book out of the library on galaxies and making color copies of them. Everything I found was either cartoonish or obvious paintings/drawings of stars and planets. I just envisioned real solar systems. This was the only way I could make my vision come to fruition.
Using the store brand of Mod Podge (I really wish someone had just told me that this was essentially nothing more than a huge tub of liquid glue), I decoupaged the pictures to the front of the drawers, adding two coats to the top of the pictures. In this one, above, you can still see the last solar system drying.
My son, and his little buddies, all made July 4th t-shirts during one of our play dates. I had plenty of white and glow-in-the-dark paint left over, so I added little drops to the board in random sizes and places. I outlined, dotting out the stars, the solar systems in the GITD paint. In this one, above, you can see a faint bit of the glowing. After I was satisfied with the number of stars and the GITD paint, I added two more layers of glue/decoupage over the top to seal everything in and, hopefully, keep the added stars and dots from getting rubbed off, broken off, etc.
Above, you can see the very wet GITD paint. It shows up yellowish-white, then fades to almost translucent after it dries.
Once all layers of paint and decoupage had dried and seasoned, somewhat, I added the Star Wars drawer pulls. Darth Vader looks like he is about to fight off this spiral solar system. 
 My finished product. I have no idea how old this dresser was to begin with, but the frame was solid. And the remaining wood, even if a bit water stained, is in good shape. And I believe this is the first time something I imagined came out almost exactly as I imagined it. 
Here, below, is the matching 3rd drawer-front. I finished the top and sides of this the same as I did the drawers. I painted the insides of the drawers to seal out dust and dirt and then added contact paper to the bottoms to keep his clothes from snagging on anything. To the 3rd drawer-front, I added the 4 remaining drawer pulls and drilled hangers on the back. This will be a place for him to keep his hats, jacket, etc.
Below, you can see his 3rd-drawer front hanging in his room. His bed faces it, so he'll be able to see his solar systems glowing.
Here's my little Snickerdoodle photo bombing the finished dresser.
 The finished dresser. This, too, faces his bed, so he'll be able to see the GITD solar systems and drawer pulls at night. He has also begun moving his shoes under the cubby the 3rd drawer made.
 My little escape the first few weeks of summer gave me a chance to truly stretch creative muscles I hadn't used in quite some time. And this was such fun. My son helped paint some of the blue, too, but even though the end product was for him, the process was for me. He always had input on how things were done, though. I know he'll outgrow this dresser at some point, but I'm hoping that doesn't happen for a long time. And after it does, I'm still keeping the drawer pulls. :-)

What ways do you find to stretch yourself - either creatively or mentally? I'd love to hear your stories!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Because it is My Name - Thoughts on Raising a Well-Behaved Child


My son is 4.

He is a good boy. He is kind and compassionate. He shares his food with me whenever I ask. Sometimes, I ask just to see if he's willing, even if I "change my mind" after he says yes. And I am happy to say that he always does, though he sometimes hesitates at first. 

He is interested in many different walks of life and happy to chat with everyone we see. He is generally very helpful around the house. He says please and thank you and I'm sorry. He loves his friends and his family, and, though still a small child, is pretty good about sharing his toys.

But lately, he has been getting quite an attitude.

He has begun to sigh when I ask him to do something.

He has sassed back when I've corrected him or instructed him to do something.

I have caught him rolling his eyes at me when I do not give him what he wants immediately.

And tonight, he went too far. He not only sassed me when I told him to eat his dinner, he did so with the mimicky, high-pitched voice that warranted an immediate response from me.

I am frustrated with this increase in attitude. Steve and I do not spank, but we are very clear in our expectations and, I like to think, very consistent in our responses to misbehavior. We treat each other with respect and make it a habit to model the behavior we expect from our son. We certainly do not sass each other, nor do we perform the mimicky voice he pulled this evening. I have to presume he learned some of this from outside the home, and developed the rest on his own as he tests the limits.

We do not spank, but we do correct.

As I commanded his attention, directing him to look me in the eyes, I suddenly remembered this scene from The Crucible. I was surprised to discover that, by about mid-January, I missed my 11th grade curriculum. I have taught The Crucible for the past 8 years, and suddenly, quotes from it come floating to me at the most random moments.

PROCTOR, with a cry of his whole soul: [...] how may I teach [my son] to walk like [a man] in the world? [...]Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! [...] How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!

It is my name. My son has my name. Everything I do and for everything I strive - I must teach my son, guide my son - so he is worthy of my name, and so I am worthy of the title of 'Mommy.' 

There is a meme floating around cyberspace that says, if I remember correctly, "Leave a better planet for our kids? Why not leave better kids for our planet!" How can I ensure my son will be able to help in some capacity when he's older? 

I corrected him. Immediately and clearly, but calmly.

Will it happen again? Of course. He learned this somewhere, but he is also of the age where he is testing limits - seeing just how much he can get away with before he is called on his behavior. He will also forget. We all forget. The only thing I desperately hope he remembers the first time around is when safety is involved. The rest, I may be frustrated or disappointed, but I understand repetition and consistency are necessary.

I love my son - so much so that I insist on his being respectful to others. So much so, that I will not allow him to get away with sassing others. He is a good boy and I am proud of him, but I know there is still a lot of work ahead of us all.

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