Update on My Life/Take Your Kids to Museums

It’s been a while since my last post. Not that long, but long enough for WordPress to nudge me into writing something. What have I been up to you, you ask? Well, I’ve been living la vida parental. You all know, or you should if you’ve read my bio, that my kids and school are my life. Well, I’ve been busy with school, working out, and my kids so here is a brief update: snowstorm, snowstorm, and then weather that made me feel that spring is near. I went out to the club for the first time in over a year, and I had a blast with my friends, but then towards the end of the night, I felt empty and lonely so I cried and couldn’t wait until I got home to my kids.

I’m going to be extremely open and honest, something I only do with my diary, and admit it: I’m super lonely. I try to be this super strong woman with an I-don’t-need-anyone-I-can-do-it-all attitude, but it gets really lonely being me. I’m sure everyone feels this way at times, but it just hit me at 4:30am that day.

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Any-who, besides the nightclub, there have been two snowstorms—see images below—and I got even more cabin fever locked up in my house. So, when the weather outside stopped being frightful, my kids and I set out to do something delightful: GO MUSEUM-HOPPING IN NYC!

My Car after the first of two snowstorms

I love museums and I love NYC. I think it’s very important to expose children to art and culture at a very early age while you can still make them do things against their will. My first visit to anywhere other than family’s house was during my second year of college. Mind you, NYC is a fifteen minute drive from where I’ve lived my whole life, so I was kind of angry that my mom never took us anywhere—anger that quickly subsided when I remembered she was busy working multiple jobs and raising three daughters.  Ironically, I’m going to be taking my mom to museums when she comes to visit from Dominican Republic next week.

Well, last Saturday, I parked in Union City, put on my LilleBaby carrier, took the bus into Port Authority, and set off on an adventure. My daughter, who is 4 months old, loved being on a bus and the subway trains for the first time. I loved explaining everything to her and watching her eyes flit excitedly from one new object to another.

On Saturdays, the Guggenheim is Pay as You Wish from 5:45pm -&:45pm. So I decided to go there, along with everyone in NYC, apparently. The line wrapped around Fifth Avenue to Madison Avenue. See the picture below.

My son inf front of The Guggenheim last Saturday

So, we went to The Met instead. I love The Met, and I want my kids to love it, too. My son, who objected the first time I ever took him to the museum, really enjoyed our visit. He expressed a lot of interest in the Egyptian Art, The American Wing, and Modern Art. He would read the descriptions and ask more questions about the pieces he really liked. “Ooh, Ma, take a picture of me here!” I loved hearing those words. One exhibit, one question, lead to so many more questions and he really learned a lot (thankfully, I know a thing or two about history). I showed him my favorite artist, Camille Pissarro, and explained why I liked him, and we had great casual conversations about works we liked and why.

That being written, I think it’s very important to expose children to art outside of the classroom. After all, life isn’t all about TV and games. I took my first art class in college, and, before that, I had no sense about what was considered good art. I’ve always just known what good literature was, but never good art.  When I did discover art, I really enjoyed it because it helped me explore myself and what I felt when I encountered piece. I found that I really responded to Greek and Roman art because I loved their history and philosophy. I loved French Impressionists because I’m fascinated by 19th Century French History and because they actually stir something inside of me when I see works that depict everyday life, especially during times of industrialization. Etc. Etc. My point is that I want my kids to relate to experience what I experienced but earlier in their lives. Who knows, maybe one of my kids will become an artist.

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Us getting ready to hit NYC

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Scarlett’s first time on a bus!

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After The Met, we took the shuttle to 42nd Street and walked around Times Square and my son had his caricature drawn. I explained to him what a caricature was and we laughed at how the artist accentuated his big ol’ ears. Take a look, it’s uncanny. All in all, it was so much fun and my kids had great fun too.

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This concludes my update on what’s been going on for the past few weeks. Stay tuned for your next slice of genius.

Authoritarian Parenting: Don’t Rule With an Iron fist, but Rule Nonetheless

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This is my son, Jayden.

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This is my daughter, Scarlett.

My son and I have been going to family therapy. He has Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD, disorders I’m pretty sure didn’t exist when I was a child. Well, the way I see it, I should enforce rules all the more since my child wants to defy authority, right? Well, sometimes, I catch our therapist giving me a look like something is wrong with me, and I’m like, “Whose side are you on?”

Yes, I would classify myself as a strict parent, and I am not ashamed. I’m Mom and Dad to a child with behavioral problems, and I refuse to let boys be boys. I’m grooming my boy into a man, an upright man who goes out into the world and takes responsibility for his actions. I’m an authoritarian parent. Rules are in place and they are to be followed, or there will be consequences. It’s the law of physics: every action has an equal and opposite reaction, i.e. my punishment will fit the crime. Law and order is not just a great show; they are two essential principles for civilization to succeed. My home is a model of the “adult world,” I can’t let my son think that he’s going to grow up and be allowed to skip out on work because he’s bored or call his coworkers names without consequences. Does he resent me for being the enforcer? Yes, but I’ve never had qualms with playing the villain, and in a one-parent household, there are not many other members to cast for that role.

My son claims I love my rules more than I love him, but I explain, “If I didn’t love you, there wouldn’t be any rules.” I’m still waiting for the day when he asks me to love him less. So just as an example of my rules, which are not that easy to follow:

  • Behave in school
  • Do your homework
  • Clean your room
  • No fighting
  • Don’t insult people

Not so hard considering he is a nine-year-old boy with no job or family to support. Oh, and read for at least ten minutes (forgot one). He knows that if I get a call or email from school reporting misbehavior, he does not get to play on his computer or go to his basketball game just so he doesn’t take privileges for granted. If we are late to therapy because he is dilly-dallying, then he misses his basketball game, which is directly after our session. If he would rather throw a half-hour tantrum about reading for 10-15 minutes, then he can lament his attitude problem in his room with no entertainment until bed time. I think the greatest issue he has with my parenting is that I am a strict enforcer.

This is a great difference from my mother’s parenting, which consisted of a grounding right now and forgetting about it five seconds later. The first time my mother told me I was grounded, no phone calls included, and followed it up with passing me the phone when my friend called an hour later, I thought it was a trap! An alarm went off in my head, telling me that there was something wrong there. I turned out just fine in the end, but I was scared my mother would smack me silly if I acted out, and I’ve always had a deep respect for authority figures. A child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder needs to learn to understand and respect rules.

Don’t get me wrong, I am authoritarian, but I nurture my children, and I encourage them to be independent and creative, so long as no rules are broken and no one is hurt in the process. I reward my son for excellent behavior – good gets praise but no rewards because good is how he is supposed to behave everyday – there are incentives for excellence like going to bed at 9:30pm instead of 8:30pm, a special treat, a toy, etc. I make sure he knows I love him everyday and that I’m preparing him to be a man of substance and consequence.
Kids thrive on routines and rules, and in the long run, my children will thank me.

Stay tuned for your next slice of genius.

My Weekly Meal Plan

My Weekly Meal Plan

So, in order to make my weight-loss journey more fun, I had to get creative with my eating habits. So here it is: Meatless Mondays, Tofu Tuesdays, Whatever Wednesdays, Turkey Thursdays, Fishy Fridays, Soup or Salad Saturdays, and Sinful Sundays (i will indulge in a meal of my choosing and not feel guilty).

Tofu Tuesday! Recipe: Breaded Tofu with Sweet Potato Fries

So, Tuesdays are Tofu Tuesday at my house. I recently became fond of tofu, so much so that I have dedicated every Tuesday to it. Yesterday, I made breaded tofu with sweet potato fries, and it was delicious! I got the recipe from http://ohsheglows.com/2012/01/18/easy-weeknight-dinner-crispy-breaded-tofu-strips-sweet-potato-fries/ and tweaked it just a smidge. Here it is:

My Ingredients

My Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 package firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Mrs. Dash all-purpose seasoning
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 large sweet potato + 1 tsp oil + 1/2 tsp cinnamon + pinch salt + 1/4 tsp cumin

1. Press tofu: Rinse the tofu with water and place a couple kitchen towels on the counter. Wrap the tofu with another towel, place another towel on top, and finally several heavy cookbooks on top. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to soak out the water.

2. Meanwhile, pour milk in a shallow dish. In another bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, salt, Mrs. Dash, and pepper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400F and grease 2 baking sheets with oil. Slice the potato into fries and then coat with 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp Mrs. Dash, garlic, and a couple pinches of salt. Lay out on greased baking sheet.

Cut Tofu into about 8 Pieces Flour is optional. I dip in flour before I dip in milk and breadcrumb mixture.

Flour, breadcrumb mixture, and almond milk. Flour is optional. I dip in flour before I dip in milk and breadcrumb mixture.

Slice the Sweet Potatoes and Season

Slice the Sweet Potatoes and Season

3. Slice tofu into 8-9 strips, lengthwise, depending on how thick you want it. Dip the tofu strip into the milk mixture and then into the breadcrumb mixture. Coat both sides entirely and then place on baking sheet. Repeat with the rest.

Cut Tofu into about 8 Pieces

Cut Tofu into about 8 Pieces

Align Tofu Strips in Greased Pan

Align Tofu Strips in Greased Pan

4. Bake tofu on middle rack and fries on bottom rack at 400F. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip the tofu and fries, and then bake for another 15-20 minutes until crispy. Remove tofu and broil the fries for a few minutes, watching carefully, until golden and charred in some spots.

So here is the finished project

So here is the finished project

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2012/01/18/easy-weeknight-dinner-crispy-breaded-tofu-strips-sweet-potato-fries/#ixzz2sQFQcrb8

Welcome Me to the Blogosphere!

Good evening! So, after much hesitation, I finally decided to start blogging! Before my first official post, let me tell you who I am and what to expect from “Slice of Genius”.

Who Am I?

I’m Jessica, Jess if you’re comfortable, and I am the 26 year old single mother of a 9 year old boy and an infant girl. I am a graduate student, majoring in English Literature, concentrating on 19th century British Literature. My ultimate goal, what I really, really, really want to be when I grow up (I kid, I’ve been a grown up for a decade) is a college professor and novelist.

What to Expect from My Blog

  • I love to cook! I’m a nurturer, and I believe that one of the best ways to love people is to feed them. I love to find new recipes and make them my own, so expect some of that.
  • I just had a baby three and a half months ago, so I’m really trying to get back to my pre-pregnancy body, I’m on a weight-loss journey, so prepare to ride shotgun!
  • My kids are my life, and being Mom and Dad to two children is amazingly chaotic. There will be parenting posts!
  • Books, books, books. There will be books in some way.
  • I love wine, and I try to explore wines from all over the world (Mostly Chile). I make a point of buying a wine I’ve never had every time I buy a wine I’ve had before.Stay tuned for that.
  • Crafts. Crochet, DIY, repurpose, etc.
  • NYC in the warm weather. I live in Northern NJ, and NYC is the best neighbor to have. I have the schedules to every museum, aquarium, garden, park, you name it, and there will be posts about the greatest city in this here U-S-of-A.
  • Anything else that comes up.

So, stay tuned for your next slice of genius.