Wednesday, July 25, 2012

[Read This / Eat That] Bringing Up Bebe & Yogurt Cake

Have you read or heard about this book? Just in case you haven't, here's the scoop...  Bringing up Bebe is about an American woman's experience bringing up children in Paris, France. While raising her first child, she begins to notice significant behavioral differences between her own daughter and the children of her French peers.  Most noticeably, the French children are better behaved, eat well-rounded meals (no snacking!), and are more independent and in command of themselves.

I won't go into a full book review (there are plenty of opinions), but here are some of the points that make a lot of sense to me.

  • Set firm boundaries and stick to them.  
  • Be involved without being obsessive. No need to sign up Junior or Missy for every single class or sport... and no need to feel guilty that you may be stunting a future Picasso or Einstein or Beckham. Let them have some time to just BE.
  • "Pause" or "Wait". Make them wait a bit before immediately responding. And definitely don't let them interrupt your conversations.  It will teach them patience for later in life when they won't always get what they want, when they want it.  I think we've all seen adults throwing tantrums... shudder. Not pretty.
  • When you say "no", mean it.
  • Teach Independence.  Give them age appropriate chores and tasks.  Heck, let them bake a simple cake!

So as an act of independence on their part, and a lot of tongue-biting and patience on mine... The kids baked a cake.
when Smarty Pants sucks in his cheeks it means some serious concentration is going on!
Happy Vee was very diligent about those seeds.  Not one seed made it into the cake.
Oh, and they dressed themselves.  They like to wear the same shirts. :)

Here's the recipe that we used-- Lemon Yogurt Cake by Ina Garten.  In my humble opinion, you can't go wrong with the Barefoot Contessa.

The boys did all the work except for the part involving dissolving the sugar and lemon juice on the stovetop.  And it's not included in the recipe, but we also poked holes in the cake with a skewer before pouring the lemon sauce on top. Not a drop was wasted.  Yum!

I have to admit that letting the kids into "my" domain wasn't easy. I easily get anxious when a preventable mess is being made-- the 2 cracked eggs that didn't quite make it into the bowl, the spilt lemon juice, the spots of cake mixture that I'm still finding on the floor... But that's okay, I made it a teachable moment and am learning to let it go.  At least a little bit...  The mess was easier to overlook when I saw how proud they were to have baked their own cake.  They truly enjoyed their exercise in independence.  

We're not baking cakes every day or even every week, but I'm trying to incorporate more independence into our daily routine. The boys are setting the table, cleaning up their dishes at the end of a meal, getting themselves ready without prompting (although 4 year old Happy Vee is still  a bit resistant) and I'm working on setting up a drink/cereal station so they can serve themselves their own breakfast and milk & water throughout the day. Among other things, we're also working on shoe tying (Smarty Pants) and putting shoes/socks on (Happy Vee). Some of this stuff is mundane (and a little aggravating when they resist) but, for me, it is easier if I think of it as small steps toward independence.

So right now, with a little assistance from me, Happy Vee is going to make a chocolate chip yogurt cake.  I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

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