Monthly Archives: December 2010

Claiming the lead role with children

I’ve been really busy lately but I haven’t forgotten I have a blog!  Here’s a post I wrote a month ago but didn’t get around to putting up.  I think it’s an important message, and an example of how the little adjustments we make as parents can be very powerful. 

Tonight my ds4 came over to hug me when I was sitting at the computer.  As soon as I felt his arms start to go around my waist, I stopped what I was doing and gave him a huge hug.  And then gave him a few silly hugs and tickles with a lot of enthusiasm.

When a child comes looking for a parent’s time or affection, they’re telling you they need something.  When a child expresses the need for your love in whatever form, try to give it to them right then if you can.  It doesn’t have to take more than a minute or two, but try to make yourself available and be responsive when they approach you. 

However, there’s a way to maximize the love that a child feels when you respond to him.  Let’s say a child asks you for something to eat and you give it to him pleasantly.  (This is assuming that you feel that him eating something at that moment is a good idea.)  That’s nice, right?  But once he’s asking, he’s already initiated and you are only responding, which puts you in the passive role.  While it is much more powerful for your child when you are the one who initiates the love interaction, you can supercharge an interaction that your child has initiated by giving them more than what they are asking for.  This restores you to the position of leader in the interaction, which is important in building a child’s feeling of security with you. 

When the child feels like he’s getting more than he was asking for and you have claimed your power as a parent to lead, it leaves him feeling very loved and secure.  As a parent, you want to be the one constantly initiating the love interactions between you and your child.  A critical part of being the authority in your home is what I refer to in my classes as being the leader – learn to take the lead in your relationship with your children, even in interactions that your children initiate.


Sufganiyot -Filled Doughnuts

On Sunday I had a lovely visit from my sister, niece, and nephew!  We haven’t seen them for 4.5 years and it was really nice to catch up in person a little. 

Sufganiyot (filled doughnuts) are a Chanukah classic (along with latkes) in our home (and probably for most other families, too!).  Since we were planning to make doughnuts to serve later that evening when grandparents came by for menorah lighting and then dinner, dd14 made the doughnuts with her cousins and siblings.  It was a nice activity for them all and the doughnuts tasted amazing!  We adapted a recipe from A Taste of Challah to make it healthier.  This makes about 40 doughnuts.

Michal’s Sufganiyot

  • 7 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. sucanat
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 T. yeast
  • 3 – 4 T. orange juice
  • 1 c. warm water

Mix the dry ingredients.  Melt the coconut oil.  Add to the dry ingredients the eggs, melted (slightly cooled) coconut oil, and vanilla and knead for a couple of minutes.  Make a well in the center of this mixture and sprinkle in the yeast, juice, and warm water.  Cover bowl and let it sit for about ten minutes. 

Knead until dough is soft and pliable.  If the dough is too hard, add a very small amount of water and oil until you get it smooth.  If it’s too wet, add a little more flour.  Smear your hands with oil and pat the dough all over with your hands, over the bowl and let the dough rise for 30 minutes. 

Punch dough down, then roll out a section of dough so that it’s thin but not transparent.  Using a round cookie cutter or a round glass/jar, press down on the dough enough to make an indentation but not enough to cut through; do this on half of the dough until there’s no room left.  In the center of each circle outline, place the filling of your choice.  (We used homemade cherry filling.) 

Now, fold the other half of the dough over the filling and circles.  Take the glass or cookie cutter you used before and press it down firmly around each bump, and twist it while cutting it out.  This seals the filling into the center of each doughnut.  Repeat until all dough is used up.  Let doughnuts rise about 30 minutes on a piece of parchment paper.

Heat up the coconut oil for frying (saturated fats like coconut are the best for frying because they are stable at high heats), and add a piece of carrot into the oil.  This keeps the oil clear as you fry the doughnuts. 

Fry the doughnuts in the hot oil for 3 – 5 minuts until they’re golden brown.  Then flip them over and fry until the second side is also golden.  Remove with a slotted spoon and put on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb extra oil. 

This is definitely a labor intensive project – most filled cakes and cookies are – but it’s just once a year and they were so good that they were worth the effort.  And as I said, the kids had fun making them!

Happy Chanukah!


Baltimore dollar days this weekend

Okay, this isn’t going to be of much use to lots of my readers, but for those of you in the Baltimore area, this week is the annual $1 admission day to many area museums.  I personally haven’t yet taken advantage of this because: a) my husband works on Sundays so I don’t generally have use of our only vehicle; and b) being in very crowded areas decreases my enjoyment of the activity and since I can usually find ways to go to the places I want to go for very discounted prices as a school group without the crowd, that works well for me. 

BUT – it’s a great opportunity for those who want to avail themselves of Baltimore attractions and don’t mind if it’s a bit squishy.  Here’s a link to a list of participating museums.

If you live in other large cities, there’s a good likelihood that your city offers opportunities like this, so take a few minutes to do some online searching if it’s something you’re wishing you had closer to home!


Maintaining sanity on tough days

>>What do homeschooling parents do when their child or children drive them crazy alot of the time? I don’t want to send my son to school just to give myself a break–but I’m interested to hear suggestions of how other parents give themselves a break within an hsing framework.<<

Some of us have perfectly behaved children so we don’t have to deal with this issue – LOL!

Seriously, this question is one that I think lots of mothers can relate to, whether homeschooling or not.  For me this is an issue that has become much less of an issue over the years – maybe partially because I don’t have negative judgement of myself or my kids when some days are harder than others, and partially because we’re used to being around each other and enjoy each other for the most part.  If I see someone is having a hard time (and this includes me), I try to see where it’s coming from, and address the source. 

For example, an overtired child will be sent to take a nap, or go to sleep early, and I’ll remind myself that the behavior I’m seeing is because of exhaustion.  Sometimes I get busy with all that needs to be done and don’t take enough time to really connect with them at a heart level, and it shows up in what looks like misbehavior.  If our schedule is too busy and overscheduled, then it means pulling back and assessing what is adding value and what isn’t, and making appropriate changes.  It just depends on what is going on, and addressing the root issue vs the symptom is what has worked for me.

Since I now have older kids around, I can physically take a break if I need to, which  obviously won’t be a helpful suggestion for a mom with much younger kids.:)  I’ve shared several times here that I think that a daily rest time can be helpful, and this is something I did this until our oldest was 10 or so. They didn’t have to sleep, but they had to be quiet – reading, listening to a cassette, etc – and they had to stay in their room – for an hour.  This gave me a chance to have a breather, and this daily recharging kept me going even during the less pleasant days (and we all have them).  

When a mom is feeling positive and relaxed, she transmits that and the kids tend to be lots more enjoyable to be around in that case.  It’s usually when we’re tired, tense, burnt out, or overwhelmed in general that our kids seem to be the most challenging, and it’s not coincidental!  Our children are super attuned to our emotions and pick up on signals we sometimes don’t even realize we’re projecting!  For that reason, I feel that self-care is a critical part of being able to maintain your emotional equilibrium and be the kind of parent you want to be. 

Also, it was very helpful when I respected my needs as a parent and clarified for my children what acceptable standards of behavior in our home were. When I did this and consistently gave this same message, supporting my words with action, things became much more enjoyable as I didn’t feel myself getting tense about lots of annoying things – if it really bugged me, I dealt with it right away, and made it clear the actions were off limits, even if it wouldn’t bother other moms – and for the most part, the kids stopped doing it (after learning that there would be decisive action if they did).

Here are some starter questions you can ask yourself.  Do you expect too much of your child?  Do you expect too much of yourself?  Is this behavior normal for a child his/her age?  Are you dealing with a lot outside of the homeschooling arena that is affecting your energy?  Everyone will have different answers, but clarifying your answers will help you find the the best solution for you.