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Tiaras and Trucks

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mixing Away Bad Moods

My galley kitchen wasn’t built for two small IKEA stools, a cobalt KitchenAid stand mixer, and a counter spilling over with ingredients.

But there we crammed, one of us wearing her Easter dress, one of us wearing his footed pajamas, and one of us wearing something that would soon be covered in aforementioned ingredients. Our agenda for the day hadn’t included homemade granola bars, but any mom can tell you that when your kids are cranky by eight in the morning, even Target doesn’t want you wandering their aisles.

Knowing that asking Abbey to help would elicit a contrary refusal, I had slowly smoothed out the recipe, a bit sticky with honey, and deliberately pulled out ingredients from the baking cupboard. She noticed and dragged over her chair without a word.

I helped her scoop both scoops of oats and spill more than half a cup of flour before Dylan threw down his plastic dinosaurs and pulled his own chair over to the counter.

With both kids jockeying for position at the mixing bowl, I had to relinquish my position between the two of them, leaving them with full access to push and grab at will.

Abbey helps all the time, her small hands dumping canola oil and ground flax seed as carefully as her coordination allows.

Dylan rarely shows interest, and soon grew tired of the practically empty tablespoons of cinnamon I was allowing him to add to our mix. Curious fingers reached towards the honey. Abbey pushed the plastic bear out of his reach, and I inwardly sighed, bracing myself for the whine of complaint.

“Here Dylan,” her kindest voice offered him a plastic mixing spoon. “Do this.”

Light shone through the small window, picking up the blonde glowing in their hair.

I gently straightened the bow of Abbey’s sash, my mood buoyed by her reaction.

And when Dylan managed to vigorously stir a not unsubstantial amount of our ingredients onto the counter, we were all ready to laugh, his chuckle the most gleeful of all, knowing he had somehow amused his big sister.

Extra cinnamon and pumpkin made our granola bars taste deliciously like fall, but what I really slid out of the oven that morning wasn’t on the ingredient list; we had subtly stirred newfound cooperation and smiles and better moods into the batter.

Calmly, I placed the recipe back in the cupboard, awaiting the next time their sour moods need a little something sweet.

Dry Ingredients
2 c. oats * 1 c. flour * 1/2 c. ground flax * 3/4 c. brown sugar * 3/4 tsp. cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. canola oil * 1 egg * 1/2 c. honey * 1/2 c. pumpkin * 2 tsp. vanilla

Easy-Peasy, Kid-Friendly Steps
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Dump all ingredients into mixer
Mix
Spread into greased 9 x 13 pan
Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees
Cool 5 minutes before cutting

This week's prompt was: What Fuels You?
And so much of that comes back to soaking in the lessons Abbey and Dylan wordlessly teach me.

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42 Comments:

  • At October 16, 2011 at 9:27 AM , Anonymous Alison@Mama Wants This said...

    I just love when our children give us unexpected moments of sunshine.

     
  • At October 16, 2011 at 4:41 PM , Anonymous Kristy Lorenzen said...

    What a fabulous activity and recipe for fall!  Love it.

     
  • At October 16, 2011 at 4:48 PM , Anonymous jentos23 said...

    Thank you for putting the recipe on here...I was thinking as I started reading, I hope she includes the recipe! 
    Glad their bad moods disappeared...it's funny how it's the little things sometimes :)

     
  • At October 16, 2011 at 6:47 PM , Anonymous Nichole said...

    These look amazing!
    I'm off to pin them for this week. :)

     
  • At October 16, 2011 at 9:17 PM , Anonymous Jennifer Bruno said...

    She's such a sweet big sister.  :-)  Dylan is lucky to have two women take such good care of him.  

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 12:44 AM , Anonymous sweetbutterbliss said...

    I could use this lesson. A lot of times I forget to play and just shoo them out of the kitchen. I think we'll make something fun this week. And messy of course.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 2:02 AM , Anonymous Jessica@Team Rasler said...

    Fabulous.  I was just making a list of things to chase away sour moods, and baking was on there.  When I'm crabby, I don't want a mess or boys in the kitchen, and yet it never fails to make us all smile!

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 2:34 AM , Anonymous Jessica said...

    What a great idea to get the kids out of the bad mood. I know mine love helping in the kitchen. 

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 4:55 AM , Anonymous dosweatthesmallstuff said...

    Aw, Abby was growing more mature and sweeter by the day!  So proud of her :))

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 6:50 AM , Anonymous Kpiccini said...

    I know for sure, that in the moments that my children are not whining or crabby that my mood lightens immediately. I think I might bake cupcakes this week...they love helping me do that. These looked amazing...and you're right how amazing that we did recipes together today. Xo

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 7:30 AM , Anonymous Galit Breen said...

    Love this, girl!

    Also? Your patience is admirable, if not -ahem- relatable! 

    (Thank you also for the recipe- yum!)

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 10:37 AM , Anonymous Stephanie @ Just Be Enough said...

    Wonderful. I am totally going to let my boy help me make this

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM , Anonymous Missy | Literal Mom said...

    Great, great, great.  I'm so glad you were able to turn it around.  Sometimes it works the other way, you know?  Especially when everyone's cranky before 8am.  

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 12:03 PM , Anonymous Juliecgardner said...

    I'll bet you looked really cute in your Easter dress. 


    Or were you the one in the footed pajamas?

    Either way. 

    Nice job, mama.

    And big smiles to all three of you.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 2:28 PM , Anonymous shellthings said...

    What fun!

    I do love to cook with my kids... though I wish someone else would clean it up!

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 2:57 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Cleaning is the worst part.  I would do so much more in the kitchen if someone would clean for me!

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 2:58 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    There are days I wish I could spend in footed jammies, that's for sure ;)

    Or a swirly Easter dress.

    Either way.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 2:58 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh absolutely.  Sometimes cranky at 8:00 leads to major meltdowns by 10:00!

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 2:59 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh, they're so easy.  I like recipes where everything can go in at once.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 2:59 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    If you ignore the copious amounts of sugar?  They're healthy!

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 2:59 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Isn't that funny?  Have fun making the cupcakes!

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 3:00 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I am so proud of her, too.  She really is getting a lot kinder with him all the time, not just when she feels like it.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 3:00 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    It's one of the reasons I wish I had a bigger kitchen.  It is so very tight with them in there, and they're still so little :(

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 3:01 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Make these.  They're easy, I promise :)  A sure happy mood maker.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I do that sometimes, too.  I wish I didn't, but sometimes I do the "ok, play in the other room while I make dinner".

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Well, I think we're just lucky she didn't push him off the chair this time ;)

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 3:03 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    You can add anything to them.  Chocolate chips, dried cherries, applesauce instead of pumpkin, etc.  They're my staple granola bars and so good!

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 3:03 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I think you'll like them.  I hear you can reduce the sugar, but I have never tried that.  (Surprise!)

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 3:04 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    The best part is you can't really mess them up.  I've done them without the egg, for example, and they still work.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 3:04 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Me too.  It makes everything in the world seem a little brighter!

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 4:53 PM , Anonymous Lady Jennie said...

    Your writing is really rich Angela.  And this looks healthy!  If I can just find GF oats.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 6:42 PM , Anonymous Elena Sonnino said...

    This---this was magic.  Truly. Between your gift of knowing not to ask for Abbey's direct help, and the beautiful love between your children. Lovely. Truly.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 6:56 PM , Anonymous Wendy @ mama one to three said...

    can I come over?  :)  cheers, friend.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 9:20 PM , Anonymous Kelly @ Dancing with Chaos said...

    The one time my son is on his best behavior is when helping me bake. My daughter is just getting old enough she wants to join us, which is difficult, because he doesn't like to share, and she doesn't under "no double dipping, dumping ingredients, or adding things to the bowl and leaving them there".

    Soon.. I hope soon both will be able to be helpers - kept in line by the promise of beater, bowl, and spoon licking.

    I might have to gives these a go. You say you can add any ingredients you want. You don't need pumpkin but can do applesauce? You mean the pumpkin you use in pies?

    I lack the chef gene but I want to try to involve my son in dinner prep soon..

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 11:25 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes, you can use any "wet" ingredient in place of the pumpkin-applesauce, smashed up blueberries, thawed frozen berries, smased banana (delicious, espeically if you add chocolate chips!).  I've added nuts, any dried fruit (raisins, dried cherries, craisins).  It's really hard to mess them up.

    Oh, and I use the Libby's canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling but 100% pumpkin.  It's in the baking aisle, not the canned veggie aisle.

    You guys will like them :)

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 11:26 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Well, you could, but they're gone already :)

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 11:27 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    There are flashes of sibling love.  And of course flashes of annoyance and anger :(  But such is life, right?

    But still magical, because they are so amazing.

     
  • At October 17, 2011 at 11:28 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh thank you!  They are pretty healthy.  You could probably cut the sugar and/or the honey, but they're still not bad.

    Good luck finding something to sub for the oats :)

     
  • At October 19, 2011 at 1:18 AM , Anonymous Robin @ Farewell, Stranger said...

    You're braver than I. Baking with Connor gives me heart palpitations. Although... he is getting better, and it's a great way to entertain him. He LOVES baking and cooking. And this looks yummy! I'll have to try it with him. 

     
  • At October 19, 2011 at 3:11 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    This is easy!  You should do it, because it's tough to mess it up. 

     
  • At October 20, 2011 at 6:04 PM , Anonymous Kelly @ Dancing with Chaos said...

    My son approves.

    I used slightly less oats and added chopped almonds and cashews. I also substituted chia seeds (thanks to idea from Buried with Children) in lieu of flax seeds. 

    And added a dash of nutmeg, because it just seemed wrong to bake pumpkin without nutmeg.

    Anxiously awaiting to see if my daughter will eat them.

     
  • At October 22, 2011 at 10:33 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    They're so nice, because you can add anything, really.  Sometimes I do banana instead of pumpkin, with walnuts and (ooops) chocolate chips. 

     

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