Wednesday, October 1, 2014

day 1: candy corn & peanuts

I feel like I was late to this party in the fall of last year, but bear with me – it’s fabulous enough that I need to make sure nobody else remains in the dark.

Is this not gorgeous? Colorfully fall, sweet and chewy, the perfect little snackable ringing in the autumn season… yum. My nostalgia for candy corn goes way back. Some of my earliest memories are of visiting my great grandmother. I remember sitting on the ottoman in her house, playing among the abundant flowers in her garden… and the anticipation of opening her little candy jar, which of course was always offered to her visitors. I don’t think it ever held anything else.

In the years since, I have multiple times made myself sick on Too Much Candy Corn, and I admit I’ll probably make the same mistake again. But last fall, I was introduced to an elevated version of this quintessential autumn treat: sweet and salty, chewy and crunchy, junk food and protein…

Yes. Candy corn and peanuts, in an approximately equal ratio, blend into a sort of magically autumnal trail mix. Let’s do this, shall we?

gather these…
candy corn
peanuts, your favorite variety (I like dry roasted)

do this… 

  1. Mix, in a ratio of approximately 1:1.
  2. Set out cute glassfuls for party snacks… or just shake everything together in the candy corn bag and eat it by the handful. Nobody will judge your level of class on this particular dish.
  3. And if you’re feeling just a little bit crazy…

See what I did there?

Happy fall!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

a good day

These are the good days, friends. The days when your preschooler, who has gone from sweet and submissive to disrespectful and sneering, runs over to give you a hug and an out-of-the-blue "I love you."

We were long overdue for one of the good days. Every night recently, I've fallen into bed, exhausted, wondering why every moment with him seems like a fight. (I know the answer, of course: my 3-year-old is me.) Wondering what I'm doing wrong, why he insists on doing wrong, what happened to that lovely and loving little boy I raised...

We spent an exciting and full weekend away at the lake house, where Big E was spoiled baking cookies with Grandma and taking boat rides with Grandpa and playing to his heart's content. The next two mornings, we jumped right back into preschool and early mornings and structure and letting him have no real control over his own life. Today, I guarded carefully. We ran two quick errands totaling about an hour outside the house. Inside, I neglected most chores in lieu of a long, leisurely breakfast and playing catch and building Lego towers and corralling a crawler who is moving much too quickly.

Life -- and my preschooler -- has been so sweet today. I hugged him tightly before putting him down to nap, thanked him for using his nice words and being sweet to his baby brother. On a day like today, I don't even care that he isn't actually sleeping. He's singing softly, "Jesus loves the little children....."

There's no magic formula, I know, but the difference of this good day was unhurried quality time with mommy. It's so easy to get caught up in playdates and field trips and grocery shopping that I sometimes forget that my littles just need to BE. To show me who they are. To watch me delight in them.

Tomorrow may be hard, or the next day, or the next week, but today, I can savor the sweet moments and cling tight to the little things that make this a good day.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

a preschooler's first purchase

A couple of months ago, we started Financial Peace Junior with Big E.  He does chores (yes, at 3 years old!) and gets paid “commissions” for them.  Every Saturday, we sit down with his jar of money and help him allocate funds: Give, Save, Spend.  It’s taken some time to get into the habit of having him do his chores, so it was a few weeks before he collected enough in his Spend envelope to really buy anything.

Coincidentally, that occurred right around school supply time, and I wanted to pick up whatever supplies we could at Dollar Tree.  On our way, I explained that he could afford to buy ONE thing, and he could choose whatever he wanted.

Getting out of the car, Big E clutched that envelope in his hand: $1.85 in dimes and nickels, but right then, it was his whole world.

We had no sooner entered the store than Big E darted over to a display of solar lamps right up front, picked one up, and announced, “I want to buy THIS with my money!”  I knew I was in trouble.

“E,” I said, “what is that?”

“…what is it?”

And so went our shopping trip.  Up and down the aisles, as I selected glue sticks and ribbon and pencils for the preschool, Big E’s attention was caught by the most mundane of items.  Forget the coloring books, I want to buy a loofah!  I never told him he couldn’t buy something, but I gently informed him, many times, of the definitely-not-toddler-friendly purpose of each object.

Finally, the school supply shopping almost complete, I said, “E, I have to get one more thing.  It’s all the way in the back of the store, so let’s go, and you can choose which thing you saw that want to buy.”  We made our way toward the disinfectant wipes, and there, hanging on a shelf, he saw it: “THIS!  This is what I want to buy with my money!!”

His eyes were sparkling; he’d really found a winner this time.  And again, I asked, “E, what is that?”  He pointed to it excitedly and said, “It’s a necklace!”

And that is how I ended up explaining to my 3-year-old that wearing a steel wool scrubber around one’s neck would end up being pretty painful.

I had pretty much given up, thinking that he would have to shop at another store when he had a bit more money.  We headed back toward the front via the closest aisle, and there, on the bottom shelf, he saw a few lonely pieces of plastic fruit.  “THIS!!!  I will buy this pear!!!!!!”

There was really no valid argument this time.  Grandma had gotten him a little shopping cart with some play food for his birthday, and he quite enjoys his play kitchen.  Who cared that this particular plastic pear was intended for some sort of home d├ęcor?  Big E proudly carried it to checkout, cutting in front of two other customers in his excitement (don’t worry, we talked about that, too), and I helped him count out the coins from his envelope.  He did drop some on the floor in his excitement—more life lessons!—and I’m pretty sure the cashier looked at him like he was nuts.  In light of what other preschoolers might choose to purchase, she probably wasn’t out of line.

But Big E played with that pear non-stop for days, took it everywhere, told everyone he met about it.  He still cherishes it.  There is no doubt in my mind that he would not feel so strongly about a plastic piece of fruit had he not worked for it himself.

He does chores more willingly, too, when reminded that his work comes with benefits.  And who knows?  Maybe one day he will work hard enough to buy a set of solar lamps for his playground.