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Archive for the ‘cake’ Category

About every few months or so, the kids go through a mental growth spurt. The precursor is atrocious temper tantrums and attitude issues that make my insides shiver and speeds up the graying of my hair over the thought of the teen years. One would think that after 5+ years of these changes, Scott and I would have a grasp on how to handle the outbursts and boundary pushing. Silly naive me, thinking that because we figured out how to handle the last round of episodes that we would be ahead of the game for future rounds. But like most parents, we forget that children are mutating creatures with no owner’s manual.

I think other people also forget that it is much easier to have the answers to why our kids are acting out and how us parents should be responding. Especially when they don’t have to live, manage, handle and enforce the boundaries day after day after day. Even I forget what is like to manage a child hell bent on ignoring me when I see other parents reacting to angrily to their own child’s crappy behavior. I think, “Yelling won’t help,” or “Wow, her kid is out of control, and she isn’t doing anything.” And then I stop myself, because I don’t have the back story. I don’t know how many times that kid pitched a fit before 7 am, or whether or not that parent just got off a full day of work dealing with adult-aged preschoolers only to have to come home to a fresh bout of tantrums.

People often comment to us about how great our kids are. And they truly are (pat, pat, pat). They don’t always realize that our kids are good because we set rules, teach manners, and provide guidance on how to behave. My children may be young, but they are old enough to learn how to become respectful members of society. As responsible parents, it is our job to teach them what it means to be respectful. Our children are well behaved because we taught them to be that way. This society has way too many self-entitled, disrespectful people walking around, and I won’t ease up on teaching my children how not to become one. Some may think we are being strict, I call it taking my job seriously. Sure, we can yell less. Us parents are human, and we sometimes forget that the best way to get our children to listen isn’t by speaking louder. It is important for us to remember our own boundaries.

My little petunia called me into her bedroom the other night for the umpteenth time to delay her inevitable sleep. Her excuses to put off going to bed can get lengthy and cliche. Most nights, her requests for water, potty trips and favorite stuffed animals are a prelude to me taking a tedious, cement-footed trip down the hall. But more often than not, her requests are random, creative and remind me to relish her sweet, precocious personality. Calla called out her usual, “Mommy, I need you.” When I arrived at her bedside, she said, “Can we go to the zoo right now?” I told her no, a night trek to the zoo was not in her near future but that we could go soon. Easily placated by fun to come, she said, “Okay. And when we go, can you pack lollipops and apple snacks and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?”

Tonight both kids caught a terminal case of the sillies. Lennon, the dancing comedian, got out of his bed five or six times just so he could stand in the door to make me and his sister laugh. His enthusiasm at watching us giggle radiated through his smile. Sure it was way past their bedtime, but the laughter was infectious, and the memory-making opportunities were prolific. Sure they needed their sleep but tonight’s fun trumped protocol. There is a time and a place for lifting boundaries.

I don’t have a recipe that involves lollipops and apple snacks, but I do have one for a lovely and moist apple cake handed down to me by my mom, who received it from a kind woman named Mrs. Vlamis–who I am sure taught her kids the importance of respect…and maybe yelled once or twice in her lifetime.

Mrs. Vlamis’s Greek Apple Cake
(this is a “prepare the night before for the next day” kind of cake.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dice and peel 3 1/2 cups of apples (any kind will do) and set aside.

Combine in a bowl and then set aside:
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I usually use canola)
juice of half a lemon
2 tsp vanilla
3 tsp egg replacer whisked together with 6 TSP water

At this point, the mixture will be thick. Then add:
3 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Fold in:
the diced apples
3/4 cup of golden raisins (regular raisins work nicely too.)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Bake in a greased and floured 9×13″ pan for one hour. When it is ready, an inserted toothpick should come out clean.

When the cake is almost done baking, mix together:
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soymilk
1 stick of Earth Balance margarine
2 tsp vanilla (I like to substitute in brandy here)

Mix in a pan and stir continuously while the mixture boils for two and a half minutes.
Pour the mixture over the top of the hot, baked cake and let it stand overnight.

Try hard not to eat it for breakfast the next morning.

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