Dec 12, 2010

Mini Maple Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins

We made our Mini Maple Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins this morning. A simple, fun, warm delight that are portable and can be frozen for enjoyment later. Yum!

My darling sous-chef.



Her favorite thing to do is to crack the egg. She can do it now with no shell breakage. Milestone!



Ready for the oven....



Baked and ready to eat!



Now this is how to enjoy breakfast.


Mini Maple Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 24 cup mini muffin pan with non-stick spray.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Sift together with a wire whisk.
In another bowl, stir buttermilk, egg, maple syrup and melted butter until just combined.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until combined.
Stir in chocolate chips. Reserve a few chips to sprinkle on the tops.
Bake for 8-9 minutes.
Makes 24 mini pancake muffins

Oct 7, 2010

On apologies, gratitude, and other social norms...

I don't force (suggest, coerce, or tell) my kids to share, apologize, or say, "Thank you." I'm guessing that this might not be very popular, but it's something that feels right for them and me.

When Adeline is using a toy and Jack wants to play with it, I tell him, "Maybe she'll give you a turn." And I suggest he ask her if he can play with it when she's done (or better yet, see if they can enjoy it together). I don't force her to share ("OK, Adeline, it's Jack's turn now."). How am I to know when she's had her fill of joy from something? Why would I force an arbitrary limit on that? And if/when she does end up sharing, I draw her attention to how happy the other person is now and how her actions contributed to their joy. Do I give her friendly reminders that someone else would like to enjoy something? Sure. But I don't make anyone give something up.

When they hurt someone or mess up, I try my best to take a breath to connect with the situation. I point out how everyone is feeling. ("He seems very sad.") I comfort those who need comfort. (I welcome everyone to bring comfort to those seeking it.) And *I* can model an empathic apology. I don't tell anyone, "Say you're sorry!" What if (gasp) they're not sorry? Simply going through the motions and saying it doesn't create feelings of sorry. And what if their expressions show that they feel remorse, but they just don't say the words? Does that matter?

The same goes for "Thank you." You won't find a forced giving of thanks (much to the chagrin of some family and friends!). Really, if there is a smile, a glimmer, a simple (or extravagant!) expression of joy or curiosity, then I embrace that as gratitude. And even if there is no reaction, then a robotic and patronizing, "What do you say?" certainly feels disingenuous and contrived for both of us. I can appreciate that sometimes children (and adults!) may be distracted, shy, overwhelmed, bashful, introverted, preoccupied, or whatever. Either way, I don't give to get thanks. I trust people and assume the best.

All of this really boils down to the same thing for me. Empathy and prosocial acts must first occur spontaneously from a child. And for it to occur spontaneously (without force, coercion, bribes, or rewards), modeling is one of the most significant paths. Especially if we ever expect our children to have an intrinsic motivation to "do the right thing" (which, to me, means to connect, have empathy, and navigate their thought process). I apologize to my kids when I (often) flub up. I try to do so with my eyes, arms, and words. I spontaneously share things with them and invite them to share in my joy. I try to express my gratitude with passion and authenticity -- again with my words AND actions. I can show my children how their acts and words affect others around them. I hope they see the blessing and joy of empathy, understanding, and compassion for themselves and the people around them.

I also try not to forget my own humanity while journeying this path with my children. I'm not perfect, and neither are they. I hope I model grace for others and myself so they can expect and do the same.

The other day, my dad gave each of my kids a collector's coin. Jack really wanted the one that Adeline had. He spent a good hour deeply coveting her coin with his eyes, expressions, and comments:

"I don't have one like that." (sad, puppy eyes)
"I really like that one." (with longing and desire)
Then a final plea, "Adeline, do you want to trade?"

She said, "No," and went on playing with her coin. Jack looked defeated and disappointed. I resisted any urge to negotiate on his behalf or guilt Adeline into trading coins or passively comment on how she "wasn't being nice." I just gave Jack a hug and said, "You really like that coin, don't you?" He gave me a gloomy nod.

Ten minutes later, after Adeline was done playing, she walked over to Jack, put her coin in his hand, and simply said, "Here, Jack, we can trade now." Jack's face lit with excitement, he started jumping with joy, and he poured appreciation onto his sister, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" Adeline giggled at his jubilee and said, "Look how happy he is, Mom!" I could see in her face how truly happy she was with his joy.

It was another touching moment in my life as a mama. And, honestly, the journey with this family of mine is filled with expressions of genuineness and compassion like this. Do we always manage to pause for empathy? Nope, not always. Do we bicker and argue? Umm, yes, OF COURSE! But I continuously have confidence that our hearts will guide our way, and I truly trust our connection. My admiration for my children is immeasurable.

Sep 21, 2010

A Visit to Pretend City

I forgot to post pictures of our trip to Pretend City. The kids had a nice time, but I don't think it's a place worth visiting again. I think things are more relevant out in the "real" city. And, frankly, we all have more fun out in the real world. ;-)

























Sep 4, 2010

Bolsa Chica Wetlands

The kids were learning about wetlands this week. We read about wetland habitats, ecosystems, food chains, conservation, and wildlife. So, on Friday, we took a trip to our local wetlands for some real life learning.



Yes, natural learning is messy!













Aug 30, 2010

Homeschooling Days

Some people have asked me how I manage the three different ages when they're homeschooled and doing different activities (Jack is almost 7, Adeline is 4, and Ella is almost 2). I honestly don't think three is all that unmanageable (it's not as though I have ten kids like some homeschool families -- my hats off to them!).

In honor of everyone posting about the "first day of school," I thought I'd share a few shots of our afternoon.

If I'm not able (or in the mood -- lol) to supervise a "messier" activity with a toddler around, then Adeline knows to wait until Ella's nap time before she can do things like paint or glitter. Here Adeline is enoying some peaceful time painting outside while her younger sister snoozes.



Video of Adeline painting and impromptu singing:




Because she's a normal toddler, Ella likes to be involved in whatever a sibling is doing, so I often just put crayons, markers, and paper down for her next to someone.

Ella colors while Jack does some online activities (www.Time4Learning.com/).




Cheese! (I didn't even have to ask for this smile. What a cute ham!)




After this, Jack did some workbook activities, and Ella went with Adeline into her room and they put together some train tracks. We all had reading time today and played outside.

We were also watering the garden and Jack spotted a plump, hairy caterpillar. The kids were asking me all these questions about caterpillars that I didn't have the answers to, so we went inside and searched all about caterpillars on the computer and in our science books. Did you know caterpillars have 4,000 muscles (compared to our 650)? We also watched this fascinating video showing the life cycle of a monarch:

Aug 18, 2010

Snapshots of our summer

"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart."
Celia Thaxter























































video

May 10, 2010

Rocket Launch

A couple weekends ago, we took the kids to a bottle rocket launch. We made this 2-liter rocket and then had it shot in the air with pressurized air and water. Our parachute never deployed, but now we know better for next time to loosely put the nose cone on the top. We learned about aerodynamics and propulsion. The rocket blasted pretty high, though, and the kids had a fun afternoon.



A video of our launch!
video

May 4, 2010

Reading Craft

The kids are fans of the Magic Tree House (and Merlin Missions) books by Mary Pope Osborne. The books tell the adventures of siblings Jack and Annie and how their tree house transports them to different places in time. I saw something online a few weeks ago that gave me an idea for an activity.

I put down a piece of old fabric for each of them. Then they used markers to draw something from one of the stories. They each chose to draw whatever spoke to them from the stories. Jack drew the "sword of light." Adeline drew the "hairy eyeball" (yes, a hairy eyeball...I thought it would have been a cat or dolphin from the stories, but she chose the hairy eyeball -- gotta love her).




Then I sewed them, and we stuffed them to make a pillows.
(Thank you to Adeline for taking the below photo.)


The sword of light from Summer of the Sea Serpent
and the hairy eyeball from Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve.

 
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