For the past year, I’ve been happy to act as my local bread baking phone-a-friend. I was the Butterball hotline of beginner bread baking tips and questions. It was great to see so many people take the quarantine time to dive into bread baking and discover it’s not all that difficult, in fact, it’s quite easy and quite rewarding, to baking a beautiful loaf of homemade bread that easily beats any soft, rubbery disc you might find at the food store.
These are the beginner bread baking tips, advice, and questions I answered the most in the past year. Do these simple, basic things right and you’re well on your way to being a successful home bread baker.
By far the hardest thing about working and parenting and schooling from home has been the explosion of glitter usage and the wildly age-inappropriate craft kits. If I have to get off a call and finish weaving and tying one more intricate bracelet pattern… I just don’t have nimble fingers.
But after that, it’s been the lack of separation between home and work and the multitude of times I have to say ‘No’ each day. It’s draining and by the afternoon I feel like a tyrant.
Just like there is a day when you will pick them up one last time. They are only going to ask you so many times to listen to their horrible jokes, or judge their ‘talent’ show, or help with their homework. If I keep saying ‘No’ at some point they’re going to stop asking.
Dad is too busy. Dad isn’t any fun anymore. Dad is too judge-y. Dad doesn’t get it. Okay, they already say that last one about Disney shows, craft glue, and Jojo Siwa.
They are both going back to school full-time in a few weeks and most of me is overjoyed but there’s another part that doesn’t want to waste these last chances for a hug or an aggressively illogical riddle at 11 a.m.
Except for the fairy dust glitter. Happy to waste that. It sticks to everything is not a feature, it’s a warning.
Fall is my favorite season and apples might be my favorite fruit. Like many people, I’ve come to really like the Honeycrisp. Slightly tart, mildly sweet, and very juicy, it was like a strange cross between a watermelon, a Macoun, and a Golden Delicious. When they are in season, I will drive miles out my way to search them out. While they dull in flavor through the winter, they still keep remarkably well and much better than other varieties.
I’m signed up for a duathlon in six weeks. I’m excited to have an actual live race to look forward to and structure some training. My self-motivation has been flagging in the last month. Too much dark basement. Too much treadmill.
One aspect of training that I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve gotten older, is mental toughness. Youth is fast but weak, I now tell myself.
I was listening to a conversation with performance psychologist Jim Loeher on the trainer this week. I was hoping for insight into how to get my legs to stop complaining and run better after a long bike ride. I did not expect parenting advice.
There is a divide in our house and it revolves around when bananas are actually ripe. Maybe that’s not quite right. The divide is around when bananas are good to eat.
Michelle says almost never (she carries long-lasting scars from childhood medicine that was banana-flavored). My kids both only like them when are still tinged with green and “taste more like an apple.” Um, okay.
I like them spotted but still firm. No one likes them when they are brown and resemble plantains. That is the time for banana bread.
As we near the one-year anniversary of parenting in a pandemic, I keep coming back to the idea of good enough parenting as a touchstone to stay calm and confident and less anxious about the long-term effects of all this on the girls.
Good enough parents do not strive to be perfect parents and do not expect perfection from their children. Good enough parents respect their children and try to understand them for who they are. Good enough parents are more concerned for the child’s experience of childhood than with the child’s future as an adult. Good enough parents provide the help that their children need and want, but not more than they need or want.
Now if only my kids would consider the concept of being good enough children when I’m on a work Zoom…
The whole point of this year-long exercise is to improve and get better at making pies so failure is to be expected, even encouraged. A brief guide to improvement: lots of research, lots of attempts with a focus on refining and trying different things, and lots of repetition once you find a good method.
So the process has multiple failures baked in. It does not however make the sting of belly-flopping on your face feel any better.