Monthly Archives: January 2013

Thoughts on the Role of Parenthood

So I went to a baby-shower and then was a bit bored at work and made this list. I was thinking what it means to be a good parent. Obviously, we can’t control what our kids will turn out like (and I don’t have kids so I’m rather uneducated in parenting) but I guess we should have a goal in mind. So I have a “parenting objective” and then ways to get there. Just ideas, and they may change. In the end it doesn’t really matter what the steps/sub-bullets are exactly, as long as they are things that get you closer to achieving the objective.

Parenting Objective: Put your child on the path to become their best self and become an independent responsible adult.

Steps:
Teach good morals/religion
        -Have “Family Home Evenings” weekly – teach a moral lesson
        -Serve as a family & serve the members of the family
        -When you watch movies, discuss the morals
        -Attend church as a family
        -Family prayer and scripture study daily

Teach them how to be healthy
        – Establish healthy habits as a family.
        -Explain why things are healthy/unhealthy.
        -As they get older give them more responsibility for their health (ie how much Halloween candy/dessert they can eat at once etc.)

Teach them how to manage money so their money doesn’t manage them
        -Give them an allowance or pay them for chores and have them be responsible for buying certain things (ie entertainment, clothes, car insurance, etc.) Give them more responsibility as they get older.
        -Teach them how much it costs to run a household.
        -Teach them basic finances as a teenager  (ie credit cards, buying a house, insurance, retirement, etc)

Instill the love of learning
        -Read with them. Help them find interesting books
        -Do exciting science projects with them.
        -Be involved in their education. They won’t love learning if they are behind in school.
        -Limit screen time, so they will get more involved in reading and other activities. As they get older give them more control over their schedule (screen time).
        -Reward good grades – the reward could be verbal praise, money, daddy/mommy dates, etc

Help them find their passions
        -Similar as instilling the love of learning
        -Encourage activities like music, drama, art, science, math, sports, etc. Perhaps sign them up for a club/sports team/music class outside of school.

Help them develop their talents
        -Encourage and support whatever their talents may be – sports, cooking, choir, math, etc.

Teach them the value of time
       
Teach social & emotional skills
-How to resolve conflict, how to forgive, how to express emotions, … need more thought on this one.

 

Tres Leches Cake

My friend Marisa made this Tres Leches cake for a baby-shower and it was AmAzinG! The original recipe can be found here and is copied below:

INGREDIENTS:
Cake:
Make-ahead Yellow Cake Mix or other preferred cake mix or homemade yellow cake recipe

Milk Syrup:
1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Garnishes:
2 medium-size ripe bananas
Sweetened cream (see instructions below)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted (spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake it at 350 degrees until golden brown, 7 minutes, or toast it in a skillet over medium-low heat on the stovetop)

DIRECTIONS:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set the baking dish aside. Place the make-ahead cake mix, 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 large room-temperature eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes (if using another cake mix or recipe, bake according to box or recipe instructions). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and is slightly pulling away from the edges, 30-34 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely, 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the milk syrup: in a blender, combine the cream of coconut, evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla and process until smooth.

Pierce the cooled cake all over the top with the tines of a fork or a thin wooden skewer. We are talking all over! The more pokes, the more the syrup will soak into the cake. Using a large spoon or ladle, spoon some of the milk syrup over the cake. Let the syrup soak into the cake, then continue spooning the syrup on top until all of it has been used up. When you have finished, not all of the syrup will be completely absorbed and might be pooling on the top but that’s ok because it will absorb as it refrigerates. Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until all of the syrup is absorbed, 2 hours. Cut the bananas, if using crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Slice the cake and serve it with sliced bananas, sweetened cream and toasted coconut, if desired.

Sweetened Cream:
Pour 1 cup heavy whipping cream into a large (preferably chilled) glass bowl and beat it on high speed until thickened 1 ½ minutes. Stop the machine and add ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Makes 2 cups. (Store-bought whipped cream also works :).

*Note: the recipe calls for Cream of Coconut. This is different than canned coconut milk. I found Cream of Coconut easily in the Asian foods aisle at a large grocery store (but couldn’t find it at some smaller stores nor at Walmart) near the other cans of coconut milk. Several commenters have indicated it is a pretty easy find if you look in the alcoholic drinks/mixes section.

*Serves 12-16

Thoughts on Guns

Ben’s brother, Matt, wrote an interesting post on the “gun conversation” and I liked it so I thought I would share it along with a couple of thoughts of my own.

I don’t necessarily believe we need more government or less government in most of these controversial topics, but that we do need smarter government & smarter regulation. I consider myself a moderate/pragmatic – I am registered as a Republican but have voted for both Democrats & Republicans at times, and wish people would try harder to come up with smart solutions instead of just bashing the other side, often without really understanding the other side.

As far as guns go, I understand that “people kill people not guns”, but guns make accidents too easy and make mass killings too easy. I believe it is true that if someone really wanted to murder their ex they will find a way with or without a gun. But in countries like the UK where guns are pretty much outlawed (even many police officers there do not carry a gun), they have very very few mass shootings – unlike the US. In China, where guns are banned, on the same day as the Sandy Hook shooting, there was a knife attack at an elementary school by a mentally ill man. About 22 people were injured but no one was killed. So yes people can still find weapons but they are less likely to kill 26 people before they are stopped. Also, like Matt said for every incident of someone with a gun stopping a crime there is an accident of someone being killed with a gun.

Now, I’m not for banning guns – I understand some Americans really like to own guns and it is a constitutional right, but we should find smarter ways to keep accidents from happening and keep the wrong people from easy access to guns. I like Matt’s ideas of requiring people to keep their guns in a safe when not used, and required background checks and a wait time before someone can purchase a gun. Ben also had an idea that I really like – fingerprint locks on guns. This way only the gun owner could shoot the gun – not their child or someone who steals it. A friend told me he thought handguns (more than assault rifles) should be highly regulated – because more crimes are committed by them, probably because they are easy to hide. I’m sure there are other good ideas out there  – do you have any?

Thoughts from Matt Munyan:
“I’m going to add my two cents to the gun conversation, which is this – gun owners as a group are not responsible enough right now and they as a group are refusing to take responsibility for their collective failure to use and store their guns correctly. I know many individuals do a fine job, but according to a RAND-UCLA study (that and lots more here: http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/guns.htm) 9% of homes with children and at least one gun keep a loaded gun in an unlocked place (the article has lots of other stats too and I’m not cherry-picking the worst). That is an accident waiting to happen in the most innocent sense, and in the worst case can be another Sandy Hook tragedy when those guns are accessible by people not meant to have them.

The further irresponsibility of gun-owners as a group to properly handle and store their guns accounts for about 600 accidental deaths every year (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/09/guns-traffic-deaths-rates/1784595/) which while decreasing is still almost 2 a day! And those are just the accidents. The overall intentional deaths from guns is much higher and on the rise. This article also talks about car accidents and I can already hear the argument there. Traffic deaths are decreasing though because of ongoing manufacturing safety innovations as well as increased regulations. Isn’t there room for a little more of both when talking about guns as well?

I firmly believe people have the right to protect themselves and that guns can be a wonderful tool in the right hands, that being said I do not believe everyone should be able to own a gun unregulated (and I’m curious if anyone actually does, since that would mean they think children and felons should be allowed to buy and own guns). To create some truly useful regulations though maybe responsible gun owners could actually propose some ideas that would help keep guns safe and in the right hands, rather than just assert that nobody can take their guns away.

I believe I could find an accidental discharge story caused by a negligent or moronic gun owner for every story about a crime being prevented by a brave and responsible gun-owner. Here is a start from a 10-second google news search where in the past month we have a young child’s death, an irresponsible owner “checking if it was loaded”, and a “responsible” concealed carrier accidentally shooting his wife while checking his pockets:
http://www.kirksvilledailyexpress.com/article/20121213/NEWS/121219325/-1/sports
http://www.blscourierherald.com/news/183801541.html
http://www.kansascity.com/2013/01/08/4000063/man-accidentally-shoots-wife-with.html

Legislating against stupidity may be impossible, but refusing to try to do anything about this is also stupid.”

Butterschotch Apple Dip

I got this recipe from my friend Heather Haskin and loved it! Unfortunately I have made it so much I didn’t eat it when I made this year, but it won the work Christmas dessert contest :D (there was only about 10 desserts ;).

Butterscotch Apple Dip:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup butterscotch chips
2 teaspoons vinegar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the sweetened condensed milk and butterscotch chips and heat (I microwave for about 3-4 minutes stirring every minute). Add the rest of the ingredients and heat for a couple more minutes.

PS Later I found the original recipe at the website below which says the dip is for 6 sliced apples and has the calorie info:

http://www.eaglebrand.com/recipes/details/?RecipeId=4159