Lateness and Effort in Writing

I’m a bit late on this, but lateness seems to be one of my main characteristics recently.

I am late for lunches out, late to appointments, late in getting my children to bed. I’m just late.

I am also late in my own personal deadlines for this book I’m working on.

I am writing a book. A fiction novel about a woman who loses her sense of who she is when her husband dies and has to go back to her hometown in order to finally find out who she was meant to be.

I meant to get my first draft done by December 31st. However it is now January 14th and I have at least a solid week of writing left to go.

I could have had it done by December 31st, but my own entire sense of self slid off the map and I was completely overwhelmed by what it would mean to finish this book. Because finishing the first draft is so not the end of writing a book. Even finishing the last draft is not the end. Nor does it end with finding and agent or getting the book really and actually published. And that is overwhelming because I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just a woman with a story that has been bouncing around in my head for a few years and I finally took the time to sit down and try and get it out.

And it has poured out of me. I have over 95,000 words right now and I’m still not done.

Oh, I know that there will be some major rewriting happening. And I know for sure that a whole section is going to be cut and buried in the boneyard. That is daunting, too.

People think that writing a book is a piece of cake. I know that as a reader I devour books in just days. Sometimes even as little as 1 day. So far this book as taken me 375 days to write. And I’m not done yet. I feel close to finishing my first draft – like I said, I think I can be done in a week, but then there are the second, third, and fourth drafts, too.

I hope one day you will be able to read this book in 2019. And then the others that come after this first effort. Because I have more stories that are begging to be told.

Summer Writing

This summer has sucked for writing. Absolutely sucked.

I have gotten nothing done. I wanted to have a draft of my book finished by the end of this month, but I am miles away from that now.

I’m trying to write today, but am finding it impossible. Why?

The kids. The house. The garden.

I have discovered that I need to be alone and away from people in order to write fiction. Writing fiction requires that I disconnect from the world around me and complete immerse myself into the world that I have created. This is impossible with the kids around.

They aren’t even necessarily coming to me directly with questions or requests. They are in their own worlds – and they are incredibly noisy about it. I was attempting to write a romance/romantic tension scene the other day and the 9 year old started doing armpit farts in the other room. Do you know how hard it is to write about gentle caresses and toe-curling kisses with armpit farts going off in the other room?

Plus they have their own schedules for which I need to play taxi. Not to mention the dreaded summer homework where I am required to provide interpretation and assistance. Weekly I am ferrying them to the library to pick up books for their reading lists.

Then there is the garden. A huuuuuge work in progress of two enclosed gardens where we can plant vegetables and have a perennial fruit bed without accidentally establishing a salad bar for the local deer. And that isn’t even mentioning the flower beds that ring the house and produce mind-blowing amounts of weeds.

And the house. With 2 children and 2 cats the house always needs to be cleaned. And the populace fed. Which requires trips to the grocery store. And before you say “you can always order your groceries” I know. I pioneered that in Switzerland. I have run into stumbling blocks with bugs in the computer system that I need to devote some unknown quantity of time into conquering.

Not that I really mind any of that. I love going to the library. I love reading. I love cooking. I love my children. I tolerate weeding.

But any notion that I had of a summer free from work obligations to “just write” was a fantasy, at best.

I really did have the best of intentions. I brought notebooks with me on vacation. I set up daily word count charts. I cleared my calendar and put my two other part-time jobs on hold. It turns out that parenting duties ballooned up to fill the void.

While the balloon was filling I was stuck. I was spinning my wheels, not accomplishing anything. The garden is full of weeds. The house is, well, it’s clean, but I have boxes of stuff to go to charity and no pictures on my walls yet. The only thing that was getting done was the boys’ stuff and that’s because all the kid-stuff is like a raging river sucking you downstream with it. It was easier to just go with the flow.

It is a hard and stinging lesson, but if I want to finish this book I’m going to have to be (a) really disciplined about my schedule, (b) very firm about my needs, and (c) learn to say “no” and “I need help.”

“Pfft. That is basic! Everyone knows that!” you say.

That is true. Everyone does know that. On a hypothetical or theoretical level. But it’s not until you have sat there looking down at a word count chart that is virtually empty that you really learn the lesson. Failure is the best teacher, you know.

Tonight I am going out to write. I am taking myself to a little cafe for dinner, then I’m going to pull out my laptop and write until my fingers cramp. Or as my friend Diana says it “WRITE ALL THE WORDS!!!!”

Until then, I am going to be with my children, my house, and my garden.

 

Dave Grohl Saved My Marriage

I was watching a re-run of the Foo Fighters singing on Carpool Karaoke and I started to get all nostalgic. Not because of the Nirvana connection.

You see, Dave Grohl saved my marriage.

It was eons ago. Probably 2BC. BC = Before Children. We didn’t have kids, but I wanted them.

I wanted it badly. I wanted to be pregnant the way a 10 year old wants a pony. With a longing passion that could not be quenched. When I was 10 I also wanted a pony. I would leave the horse section of the want-ads open and strategically placed with likely horsey candidates circled in various ink colors. Every day I would do this to my parents. I would constantly cite horse facts. I went to horse camp. I played a game called “horses” with my best friend at school so much the nuns eventually called us in to discuss other games we could/should play.

And that was for only a horse.

This was a baby.

I was relentless.

I started reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I joined a Trying To Conceive online group. I bought Taking Control of Your Fertility and left it on my bedside table. I would mention interesting baby names I’d heard or read about.

After months of a not-so-subtle and completely unsuccessful baby campaign I decided I needed to take the bull by the horns and finally talk to my husband. I told him flat-out that my biological clock was a-ticking and I would like to have a baby or two before I turned the big 3-0.

“Well, that’s just not going to happen,” said my husband. “I’m not ready. And if you keep bringing up babies I’m not going to be ready any time soon.”

I was crushed. “I can’t mention it at all?”

“No.”

“Not even the cute nursery idea I read about online?”

“Nope.”

“Nothing?”

“Nothing. I need to come to this decision myself.”

I crawled into bed absolutely bereft. This was going to be hard. I had nothing but babies on the brain and wasn’t sure how our dinner conversations were going to go for the next few months. I think I cried a little and then I went to sleep.

That night I had the most amazing dream. And when I woke up I had to tell Mark all about it.

“There’s a part in this you aren’t going to like, but just wait until the end,” I cautioned.

I was back in my childhood home and we were sitting around the orange-topped Formica table that had been in that kitchen for my entire life. All of us were there. Me, Mark, Mom, Dad, my brother, and my sister-in-law. I was about 8 months pregnant and no one was happy about it. I wasn’t. Mark wasn’t. My dad had this disappointed look on his face and, if this had been another kind of dream, my mom’s eyes would have shot laser beams out of them. We just sat there looking at the bologna sandwiches sitting on our plates, ignoring my incredibly ripe belly, and not talking. Or eating.

Except Dave Grohl.

He was at the table, a bologna sandwich in each hand, wolfing them down. He looked around at us and our long faces and said, mouth full, “I don’t know what all you are so upset about. I think this is great! Life is a beautiful thing!” Then he grabbed the sandwich off my dad’s plate and started eating that, too.

When I told Mark we had the best laugh. A deep, connecting and cleansing laugh that tells you everything is going to be okay and nothing will ever come between us.

So, thanks, Dave Grohl. You saved my marriage.

Hands Off, Yet Supportive

Okay. Today I’m trying to be hands off, yet supportive with my kids. It’s easier with one than the other and that has to do with how much confidence I have in their competence. And that is my fault.

Backing up, I went to an incredible talk by Jessica Lahey, the amazing author of The Gift of Failure: how the best parents learn to let go so their children can succeed. And I came home inspired.

If you have not read it and you have kids you should definitely read this book. I came away from reading the book and from listening to Jessica speak energized and ready to face how I am rescuing my children from failure. (She is a dynamic speaker so if you have the chance to see her in person do it. Personally, I’m waiting for her TED Talk. Actually, here is the next best thing.)

It dawned on me that, even though I am a parenting consultant, author, and educator, I have totally been rescuing my kids from failure in some crucial areas of their lives.

I don’t take their homework to them. Or their lunch if they forgot it. They can deal with the consequences – which are pretty low-stakes consequences in 3rd and 6th grade. I also don’t wash their clothes or do their chores if they forget. They can wear (only slightly) dirty pants and the chores can (almost always) wait.

But I do constantly remind them of deadlines and other “crucial” things.

“Do you have your lunch?” (Which I, until last month, packed for them.)

“Did you brush your teeth, comb your hair, wash your face?”

“Do you have your homework?”

“Is everything you need in your backpack?”

“Take your coat!”

Now, it would be one thing if I was only saying this once. But it’s not just once. It’s constantly and throughout the morning. And even if I decide that this time I am NOT reminding them of anything! I find myself giving hints. “It’s 7:45!” (Implying that he’s got 5 minutes until he has to go.) “Do you have pants in your drawer?” (Hinting that if he doesn’t that he needs to do something about it.)

Well, not today. Today I am pulling off the training wheels.

No reminding. No hints. No sneaky implying.

This feels easier with my younger than my older. Partially because my younger is in 3rd grade and forgetting his homework at this age feels very low-stakes, and partially because he is a child who has always remembered the rules of the house and stuck with them. Does he make mistakes? Sure he does. In fact, he forgot his binder and homework today on the table because he was too into reading his new book.

But there is something about him and his personality that makes me feel more confident that he will (a) learn from failure and (b) he will bounce back.

My older child is a different story. He takes failure much more personally than his brother. In the trade we call that he is in the Fixed Mindset house. And we are working on getting him up the walkway to the Growth Mindset house. in middle school, which feels much more high-stakes in some way. He’s getting letter grades. He has multiple homework assignments that go to multiple teachers to juggle. And he has very little frontal lobe ability, right now.

See, the pre-frontal cortex, which controls things like executive function, organization, cause and effect, and personality, isn’t fully connected yet. It’s like kids’ brains have a dirt road connection to the pre-frontal cortex and are slooooowly upgrading to a super-highway.

The most frustrating thing about this is that the pre-frontal cortex can click on and off at a moment’s notice. One minute he is on top of his stuff. The next he is wandering around the house with one sock on and a shoe on his sock-less foot. And you never know when the cortex is on. There isn’t a light or a flag that signals “all systems go!” I just have to watch what happens and hope it isn’t a train wreck.

Like today. I have no idea what is going to happen as I see the clock ticking towards 7:50am – the latest he can leave and not be late for school. The closer the second hand gets to the 50 the more I can feel myself wanting to say something. Anything! He’s going to be late! It’s going to be a disaster! He’s not paying attention!!! There is no clock in the room where he is sitting!! Maybe I need to buy one??? GAAAHHHH!

And now it’s 7:50am. And I am not saying anything. I’m sitting here sipping my coffee and watching the clock tick on to 7:51. His lunch (that he packed) is on the counter. He has no water bottle inside it.

Then, suddenly, he is up and walking into the kitchen where he can see a clock and realizes it’s time to go. He goes to his backpack, checks it, comes back for his lunch (no water bottle), actually grabs his rain coat, and then zips his backpack up and heads out the door. It’s 7:54am.

It’s like a miracle has occurred. The amount of relief I feel is enormous. He actually did it. By himself. And there was no yelling or rushing or pushing and we were able to hug and I could say, “Have fun!” and mean it.

 

 

Need a Parenting Expert?? How about 20!

So, usually I only post links to my own articles. When I link to someone else it’s because I think their content is pretty darn excellent.

Today I’m linking to the 2018 Positive Parenting Conference. I’ve been working on the fringes of it so you’ll see my face if you scroll waaaaaaaayyyy down to the bottom of the link page.

Because I’ve been involved I’ve already seen the videos and they are FANTASTIC. I’ve already started to use some of the tips and trick I’ve learned and they are really, really working.

So, could your parenting toolkit use a free tuneup? (Yes! Really, really free!)

20 authors of popular books for parents with expertise in parenting, neuroscience, psychology, nutrition, personal finance and more are coming together to show you positive ways to raise happy, well-adjusted kids at the FREE online Positive Parenting Conference.

Watch every single talk online for FREE. May 1st – 10th 2018 only.

Reserve your free spot today.

 

Somethings really do need explanation

Let me recount a phone conversation I had the other day.

“Hello, ____ Vet Hospital, can I help you?”

“Yes. I need to make an appointment for our new kitten.”

“Great! Last name?”

“Carlson”

“And the pet’s name?”

“Lord Durin Thunderbolt Orc Slayer.”

“…..  Say again?”

“Lord. Durin. Thunderbolt. Orc. Slayer.”

“Lord? -”

“Durin Thunderbolt Orc Slayer. Tell you what. Let’s keep this simple. Let’s just go with Durin Orc Slayer.”

“Durin Pork Player?”

“No, Orc and Slayer. As in ‘you slay me’.”

“Ooooookaaaaayyy. I’m gonna write this down and if you need to change anything when you come in you just let the person at the front desk know.”

“No probs. We’ll see you Sunday.”

And here he is! Lord Durin Thunderbolt Orc Slayer Carlson! Our new family member!

When we got to the vet the front desk manager and the vet tech giggled and claimed to love his name; calling it “the best name I’ve heard in awhile.” The vet was completely unphased by the name, but right at the end of the visit he asked about it which means that, really, he’d been dying to know for the entire check-up.

Our home has been orc-free for 2 weeks now. He is constantly on patrol for orcs, pouncing on feet that might be orcs at 3am and racing around the house in order to guard the perimeter at all times. He is earning that high-quality kibble!

He joins our sons and our other kitten, the luxurious and succinctly named, Albus.

It’s Pi Day!!

March 14th! 3.14! It’s Pi Day!

I finally have it together enough to share a pie recipe on the actual Pi Day. This particular pie is a classic French apple tart decorated in an escargot pattern. This is not to be confused with a Tarte Tatin where you use puff pastry and assemble and bake the pie in a skillet and then flip it out when it comes out of the oven. This is a classic tart pie – baked in a fluted tart pan with a pate sucree, or sweet shortcrust pastry.

I got this recipe from Beth Le Manach over at Entertaining with Beth. Her recipe makes this pie SO EASY! I’ve linked to her recipe so if you want to try it click on over. I am sharing my thoughts below.

First – when making the pie dough do use a food processor if at all possible. The butter is super cold and the egg yolk is hard to blend in right without it. I started with my hands and ended up having to make the switch part way.

You end up with a lovely, soft dough that is really easy to work with, especially after you refrigerate it for 30 minutes, like Beth tells you to.

Second – Make the compote as she says. I used a stick blender to puree it and it ended up looking like apple sauce, but thicker. I would not use apple sauce for this recipe. The compote is really thick and really nice. Plus you can spice it as you wish and the lemon zest really adds a lovely bright flavor to the pie.

Now comes the hard part. Slicing the apples. They need to be sliced thin. Really thin. The recipe says 1/8″ thick, but I think that is the maximum it should be. They need to be bendy. Save back 4 or 5 of your thinnest ones for the middle of the pie where they really need to be pliable. And soak them in the lemon juice or you will end up with sad brown apple slices. I didn’t use the sugar she recommended because the Gala apples I used were already sweet.

What was really unexpected was where she said to broil the pie. Yes, you actually turn to oven to broil for the last 1 to 2 minutes of baking to give it those brown highlights that make it look like a rose. The melted apricot jam really highlights the swirl design and gives it a lacquered shine that makes it bakery quality.

It was a delight to eat. The crust was light and flaky and the apples were so delicate. The whole thing just melted in the mouth. A real 5 out of 5!

Happy Pi Day!!

Too Busy with an Empty Fridge

Sorry for the long absence. Things have gotten really busy here!

First, I have a middle schooler. I’m still reeling.

Second, there is the house to deal with. We still have a few boxes to unpack and I just cannot get it together to finish this gallery wall I’m working on. (Hopefully before we host book club in April.)

Third, I have an additional job. I’m now the editor for AFineParent.com! That has kept me really hopping! I’m working with authors, formatting pieces for the site, working on a conference, and writing more pieces for the site. (I just got a book review done on Thursday.)

Fourth, I’m still the Director of Admission at Rock Creek Montessori and that means open houses, marketing the school, helping out in the classrooms when I’m needed, and – lately – designing t-shirts and such. And it’s working! We have loads of interested families!

Fifth, there is the garden. I actually hired a guy to come out with his people and clean up the garden beds.  I cannot fully explain to you the absolute joy that this brought me. It was like watching an actual miracle happen. The yard is 1/3 of an acre and last year not much more than mowing got done so the yard was in need of serious attention. And it’s done!! Now we can move on into clearing other beds and replanting and building two enclosed bed so that we don’t accidentally open a salad bar for the local deer population.

Five-point-two, planning the garden. I went on some kind of crazy seed buying frenzy the other day. I could not be stopped. And I can’t even plant any of it yet. I’m not going to start seeds inside (this week at least) and so buying them as of March 9th was a bit premature. Or perhaps I need spring to just get here more than I thought.

Sixth, I’m writing my own stuff. I am working on a project that I don’t quite want to put out there yet, but I have given myself a daily word count to hit and maybe one day I’ll get this book out!

Seventh, I’m finishing a family cookbook. I’ve got recipes from all the branches of my mom’s side of the family and I’m compiling it and some photos into a cookbook. That needs to get bumped up in priority, but then I risk not getting my word count for the day. Tricky.

Eighth, I still have to feed the children. And they are eating an ungodly amount of food. It’s indecent, frankly. The fridge is constantly empty. I’m at the grocery store so often now I see my checkers Marcos and Harold more often than I see Mark. H ate an entire fish last night. A big one! 2 fillets! E is currently in the middle of hoovering down the banana bread I made yesterday.

Ninth, Cats. We got two kittens in September. One of them, tragically, contracted a disease called FIP, which is fatal in all cases. And now we are on the hunt for another kitten to keep the first kitten company. Plus there is all the cleaning that comes along with owning a cat with long, luscious black hair.

Tenth, H’s violin duties. He’s in a Suzuki program which means that he needs to practice with a parent and the parent needs to attend all lessons and function. He and I are practicing in the mornings for 30 minutes since he doesn’t have to get to the bus until later in the morning. This means I pretty much have time to drink coffee and get dressed on top of pushing the boys out the door.

Eleventh, cleaning. Children are messy and they haven’t invented a self-cleaning house. I do have a Roomba, though, so that is something. Next I want a robot that scrubs the scum out of the shower. [FYI – the children do clean. They have chores they are responsible for on a weekly basis and then each of them gets a list of chores to do on Saturday while Mark and I do our own chores. It’s just hard to keep up.]

Twelfth, these chairs! I got them off Free-Cycle in a fit of insanity brought on by watching DIY trash-to-cash shows on Netflix. I have a vision for them. One of them is badly broken and might need professional help. Or I can pull it completely apart and fashion it into a bench with its chair-mate.

GBBO Bake – Millionaire Jaffa Shortbread

I am obsessed with the Great British Bake Off. Like, so obsessed I’ve probably watched each episode of EACH season about 12 times. And as a baker myself, I find what they create so inspiring.

A while ago my friend Barbara and her son made the Millionaire Jaffa Shortbread desserts that Sophie made on season 8. She didn’t make them as individual rounds like Sophie did (she needed them to be patissere window quality, while any normal person does not), but she did tell me that they were “something special.”

I found the recipe and converted the grams to ounces so that this American cook could attempt it. And then I let it sit. For ages.

Until yesterday. I just really needed to bake. I needed something that could be fussy and take my mind off of the enormous amount of stress that I’m dealing with right now and yet have a really delicious pay-off. I didn’t want to waste my time and then have more stress because one of my bakes failed (yet again. someday I will tell you all about the Yorkshire Pudding Incident. Actually that could be a great band name. Dibs!)

Anyway, I decided to make the actual fussy, individual, cylinder-shaped Millionaire Jaffa Shortbread.

I’d never heard of millionaire shortbread before this episode. It turns out it’s like a Twix candy bar. Shortbread base, caramel layer, and chocolate on top. Usually these are made in a pan and just sliced into squares and served. Twix is my favorite candy bar ever and so I was pretty excited to find out that I could actually make these in my home!

I’d also never heard of Jaffa Cakes before GBBO. (The J in Jaffa is capitalized because it refers to a particular type of orange.) It was a technical challenge in Season 4, episode 1. The base is a sort of a yellow cake and is topped by a small dish of orange jelly and covered with tempered chocolate.

This particular recipe combines the orange of the Jaffa cakes with the shortbread and caramel goodness of the millionaire shortbread.

It also calls for a tempered chocolate disk, but I skipped that part because I just decided not to do it.

Here we go…

Sophie’s Millionaire’s Jaffa Shortbread

For the Shortbread
3.5 oz cornstarch
3.5 oz powdered sugar
5.6 oz flour
7 oz butter, chilled and diced (but I found that I needed the full cup of butter because American butter doesn’t have as much fat as the European butter)
1 tsp vanilla
the finely grated zest of one orange

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a food processor, pulse together the cornstarch, powdered sugar, and flour to blend. Then add the butter, vanilla, and orange zest and turn the processor on until it all comes together in a sort of ball.

(I started with the 7 ounces of butter and forgot the zest, but the dough wouldn’t come together and it was a pale crumbly mass that fell apart like beach sand when I tried to get this crap to come together as a dough. In desperation I put it all back in my processor, added the last tablespoon of butter and then the zest and it came together like a dream. And the zest gave the dough a really lovely light orange color, too.)

Dump it out of the processor and onto a baking sheet covered with a Silpat or parchment paper. I suggest rolling it out from here. I think I rolled mine out way to thin. It should be twice that thickness so the layers are all equal. Live and learn. If you are NOT crazy like me and cutting these into individual rounds you can press this into an 8-inch square pan lined with parchment paper.

Dock with a fork so the dough doesn’t puff up and chill for 15 minutes. Then bake for 17 – 20 or until a pale golden color.

If you are cutting them out, use a cutter that is 6cm across and do it while they are warm. They will cut much more smoothly. Use a spatula or pancake turner to scoop them out and then place them on a clean cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Take some acetate sheets and cut them into strips of 22cm long by 4 cm wide. Wrap them tightly around the base of the shortbread and secure the edges of the acetate with tape. The tighter the better as the caramel will leak down, as you will see. Set them aside for later.  (You can do this set while you wait for the caramel to cool.)

Salted Caramel

4 oz (1 stick) butter
125 ml heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
7 oz sugar
50 ml water

In a small saucepan, slowly heat the butter, salt, and the cream together until it is almost boiling.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat the sugar and the water together on medium heat until the sugar is melted. Then increase the heat to med-high and bring the liquid to a boil. Boil it until it turns from clear to a lovely light brown sugar color. Careful not to let it get too brown or it will taste burnt!

Remove the pan from the heat and very carefully add the hot cream and butter – pouring in a steady stream.

Warning! This will bubble, foam, and spit! You will burn yourself if you are not careful!

Put the pan back onto the heat and bring the temperature up to 230F/110C on a sugar thermometer. Cool the caramel to between 95F to 105F (35-40C). This will take at least 20 minutes and the caramel will thicken and look a little greasy. Once it is cool measure out 2T for each shortbread round and pour into your acetate molds.

Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Orange Chocolate Ganache

300 ml orange juice (I used the juice of the orange I grated the zest off of and then used store bought juice to make up the rest. If you can’t find a Jaffa orange grown on the hillside of Jerusalem, watered by the Jordan River, and picked by the descendants of Egyptian pharaohs, store bought is fine.)
2.6 oz dark chocolate
2.6 oz milk chocolate
2.6 oz heavy cream

In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice to boiling and keep it boiling until it is reduced in volume to about 1/4 cup or 50ml. This will take about 20 minutes, but watch it because once you are near the end it can burn quite easily. (Ask me how I know!) Set it aside while you work on your ganache.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and combine them in a heat-proof bowl (I use metal or a Pyrex measuring cup). Heat the cream to the boiling point and then pour it over the chocolate. Let them sit together for 30 seconds and and then stir them together until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is very smooth.

Add the orange syrup you made and stir together well.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ganache over each layer of caramel.

Let this chill for about 20 minutes. At this point you can follow the directions from Sophie and temper some chocolate to make disks for the top, but I preferred to save my energy for the eating.

Right before you serve them, gently peel off the acetate from the rounds. The caramel, being caramel, will stick, so I had to use a very sharp parring knife to peel them away from the acetate. But here are the results!

They were gorgeous to eat! The orange in the ganache really packs a wallop of flavor. It’s almost overwhelming it’s so much orange. And the bitterness of the dark chocolate helps to cut the sweetness of the caramel really nicely. The shortbread has a nice subtle orange flavor and my oldest wanted to eat all my off-cuts. The ganache has a nice shine to it so you could get away with not having a chocolate disk on top.

You do want to keep these refrigerated as the caramel will start to loose it’s shape and bow out in the middle. But they would be lovely as a sweet treat at a small gathering with friends or as a special dessert for a larger party.

I had fun making them. I know I said they were fussy, but it was really just because of all the steps. If you have the time they are fun to make and even better to eat!

How to Make Resolutions that Stick

This is an article I published on Monday at AFineParent.com about How to Make Resolutions that Stick. These methods come from my organization development training on how to make lasting change. If you really want to make a change in your life then these are 6 way to help keep you on the resolution wagon. Especially for all those parenting resolutions…

How to Make Resolutions that Stick

making-resolutions-stick-main-image_91360163How did your 2017 parenting year go? Are you the same parent today as you were on January 1st of last year? Are you the parent you want to be yet?

I am certainly not the parent I was one year ago. And, yet, I am not quite the parent I want to be either.

Do I yell less? Yes, but still more than I’d like.

Do I use Active Listening all the time? Well…. I try….

Do my children know I love them? Absolutely.

(So, that’s one thing checked off the Become a Better Parent list.)

But why am I not a superstar parent yet? Why haven’t I accomplished all my parenting resolutions from last year? I started out with such energy and good intentions! What happened?

Like every single one of you out there, I mean well. I try. I do my best.

Yet I intend to do so much better.

So why do my accomplishments not keep up with my intentions? And what is it going to take for me to get there?

With one year having come to a close, and another one about to start, I think about these questions a lot.

I did good last year. But I want to do even better this year. And check a few more items off that Become a Better Parent list.

Here are a few things I have learned that we can do to give ourselves the best chance possible of keeping our parenting resolutions.  —>>>