MY KIDS’ COMFORT FOOD – 3 WAYS

I’m warning you, it’s gonna get messy. These recipes were created or re-created from my mind. (WTF: Wait – three flavors?!) All  recipes were adapted by and from many cultures. Now that my delicious disclaimers are done, let’s get cooking!

MY KID’S CRAB PASTA


Their dad first made this for my college roommate and me (first and last time he cooked for me). I modified the recipe and wing it every time but my kids want it weekly.

Need:
1 box pasta
1 packet artificial crab (or real)
Garlic, chopped or powdered
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)/Butter
Optional:
Seafood seasoning
Wine

Instructions:
Put pasta in salted water at a rolling boil. Lower heat.

Put enough Olive Oil/Butter to keep crab from sticking (I use both to keep either from burning). Over low heat add crab and garlic (and optional seafood seasoning). Warm it up. If it’s sticking, pour in a swig of wine (whatever is open) and cover it.

Cool, Kids, the crab turns purplish when red whine is used


Drain pasta and pour into pan with crab. If needed, drizzle more EVOO so pasta won’t stick (though I rarely do). Serve!
Variations: Use shrimp. Add red bell pepper.

BETTER WITH BACON PASTA


I ate this a lot when training for long-distance races because it’s loaded with carbs, some Lo-fat protein, and some higher-fat protein. This is the only dish I don’t add garlic to but feel free to. This was adapted from my Nana’s Hungarian cooking.

Need:
1 box pasta
1 small container cottage cheese
As much chopped bacon as you want without feeling guilty
Optional:
Fresh parsley

Instructions:
If you need to cook the bacon, follow packages instructions and set aside. Consider oven-cooking it – requires less attention

Put pasta in salted water at a rolling boil. Lower heat.

Drain pasta, add all cottage cheese and bacon.

This time I used up a bag of bacon bits left over from another recipe.


Stir! Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving.
Variations: Use non-fat cottage cheese and really crispy turkey bacon for healthier version. Add chopped poultry or replace bacon with cubed leftover ham.

KREATIVE KAPOSZTA PASTA

Love the flavor the next afternoon, reheated at work!


This one I made with my Hungarian grandmother though I was confused because it used American ingredients. This one can be vegetarian, or not, and is great for slipping veggies to your kids. Sometimes, presenting veggies in a different shape than they’ll see in the wild confuses kids into eating them.

Need:
One box pasta
1 container broccoli or cole slaw (no dressing)
Either red pepper oil or Sriracha
Garlic, chopped or powdered
EVOO


Instructions:
Swirl a few circles of oil in fry pan on medium high heat.
Add garlic and slaw. Swirl another circle or two of EVOO.
I add coarse pepper and Sriracha (not necessary if you used spicy pepper oil).
Sauté slaw, stirring frequently.


Between stirs, put pasta in yadda yadda rolling boil, yadda yadda, lower heat.
Drain pasta and pour into pan with slaw. Serve!
Variations: Add sausage (not breakfast links). If cooking cole slaw consider using egg noodles, they’re softer.

Let’s eat!

What are your quick and easy comfort foods?
With pasta or something better?
Have any ideas to make a fancier version of these recipes “for when company comes over”
Have any ideas of a main entree to go with these if you want to downsize it to a side dish?

#Sriracha #Pasta #Seafood #Bacon #Coleslaw #Recipes #EasyRecipes #WeeknightRecipes #ComfortFood #MarathonTraining #CarboLoad

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TEEN & TWEEN EASTER FUN!

For the first time, neither my family, nor my kids were with me Easter morning. While I enjoyed the rare slow morning, I appreciated the extra time to think up something eventful for my children’s older, wiser tween and teenage years.

The note in the egg read “Hoppy Easter! More eggs hidden in your room!”

 The Easter Egg hunt underwent an upgrade and personalization! I hid 21 eggs of various sizes in each of their rooms. I only hid eggs with candy, no hard-boiled, as I anticipate this hunt may continue all year – or, until we move out.

Some hidden in plain view, some hidden under piles!

My train of thought:

  • Older Kids: My tall son and nearly-tall daughter stand out at Easter Egg hunts, though they could “help” either their younger niece or sister. This incorporated the fun of the hunt while allowing them privacy to enjoy it.
  • Late Start: With them not arriving from their Dad’s until evening, I wanted the fun to last – but not get interfere with usual Sunday homework routine. My daughter went to work immediately and found 10 before homework and 17 by bedtime. My son only located 2 by bedtime (partially thanks to his teen blindspots, partially his homework load).
  • Clean Room: I intentionally hid eggs underneath piles that remained untouched since we moved in. My son saw right through my plan and complimented me – (and, I quote): “Ingenious!”

He walked past 2 obvious ones and dug madly for any others!

Easter treats received an upgrade as well! PEEPS traditionally appear in their baskets, but with all the new flavors and fun stuff PEEPS offered, I wanted to improve upon their favorites. Thankfully the Peeps-a-licious* cookbook arrived to my door a few weeks ago with over 50 creative ideas! I wanted to challenge myself so I picked a recipe I knew the kids would love, PEEPS S’Mores Milkshake – thickening the milkshake with Peeps.

This very sweet shake tasted like a real S’More!

I also picked one I usually love – my favorite, PEEPS Crème brûlée. This required PEEPS cooked into and on top of the Crème brûlée. Plus I got to try using a flame thrower – I mean cooking torch.

WTF: Wow, Toasted Flavor!

Both recipes proved to be super simple to pull together and so decadent for PEEPS!

Although the holiday time reduced to fit within a few hours, the impact of the delicious flavors and hunt will be unique enough to remember ongoingly!

*I received a free copy of the Peeps-a-licious cookbook from the publisher but the opinions are my own. Here is the link to the Crème brûlée recipe on the creator’s website. The other recipe (and 48 more year-round recipes) can be found in Peeps-a-licious! #Peepsalicious #Quartoknows

SHIVERS, CHILLS & WILLIES

With an exceptionally warm winter in California, it’s immediately noticeable to me when I catch a chill.  In an effort to stay more present, to slow down and pay more attention to visceral cues, I considered the source of and reasons for said chills:

SHIVERS

Nails on a chalkboard – If I do it myself it doesn’t affect me, but when someone else does – instant shivers (and cringing). Runner up: Squeaky dry-erase board pens!

Surprises – Anticipating what’s in the surprise package at my door! Even things I ordered still give me shivers of joy.

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I’m excited for what’s inside, he wants to get inside.

Waking up too fast – When startled awake while my dream reel still plays, I shiver and covers seem ineffective.

CHILLS

Singing – Though music influences my mood and productivity, only pure powerful voices give me chills. This response helps make me the best arm-chair judge on THE VOICE.

Guerilla Marketing – Sucker for synergy – right here! When advertisers get creative and think outside the box, collaborating with other companies or groups – I get a tingle.  Which brings me to…

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Note the blood (orange) stained popsicle stick!

Popsicles – Popsicles and ice cream finish any meal on a sweet note.  My kids lit up when we got promotional artisan blood-orange popsicles for the upcoming BLEED film release!  It blew MY mind that these King of Pops popsicles melted less during their cross-country journey than had I driven a box from the local grocery store home.

WILLIES

Superstitions – Overall, my superstitions do not run the gamut, however knocking on wood and not trash talking during sports – for fear of jinxing the outcome – give me willies if I forget.  

Fish – Without beating a dead fish, just know I’m not comfortable with anything besides eating fish fillets.

Horror Films – I love every type of film except slasher films. I love psychological (Se7en) and some supernatural thrillers (Exorcist), but not those with some vengeful angry-as-hell escaped killer from another space-time continuum. BLEED looks like it contains all of the above so I’m postponing watching more than the trailer ’til tomorrow morning so as to recover by bedtime. 

Black Cats – While they don’t give me the willies, dry ice in water gives black cats willies.  

 

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No kitties were harmed, he sat back from sink.

Watch the BLEED trailer – what’d you feel: shivers, chills or willies?

(Hits theatres and itunes 3/25/16)

#BLEEDTheMovie

BRAINSTORMING TO BECOME A BIG-TIME BLOGGER (OVER BREAKFAST)

While trying a new recipe, hoping for our first Pinterest Proven Project, an idea hit me about changes to make to become a Big-Time Blogger!  When I say “idea,” I mean tupperware, jammed into my highest shelf leaped at my forehead and splashed into the crockpot – soaking before cleaning.

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My creative closet of “ideas”!

My first thought wasn’t home organization, remodeling or brighter home lighting.  I realized the rarity that I’d been afforded uninterrupted brainstorming on a weekend morning with my kids at home. More time means more assembly and prep time for recipes, and blog posts! What granted me this luxury to make Breakfast Crack Casserole?

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Bottom of skillet – Roll of biscuits

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One trick: Butter in skillet while heating oven means nothing stuck!  

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BEFORE: Dump it all in skillet – EASY!

1) MORE SLEEPOVERS

One naturally assumes that 2 kids + any friends = CHAOS.  Ironically, it works the opposite! When friends occupy my kids, my mind doesn’t constantly flip through the Masterful Mom rolodex of ideas to entertain, mitigate, or heal them. Without whining and bickering streaming from their mouths, creativity floods my brain’s bandwidth. Plus, with more tasting buds around, the “proven” rank increases in value.

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2)  FULL TRANSPARENCY

For the steady flow of friends, waivers, disclaimers and photo releases must reiterate to parents that when I’m suddenly free to blog, their child could appear in a post!  Parents must clarify – real/nick/no names, full/no face shots? One must disclose potential food allergies and sign extra forms for high-action posts.

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3) PROHIBIT PRIVACY PIRACY

When creating or writing, part of the joy comes from finding your boundaries and bounding through them. However, my kids show me I’m pushing it, hence the wacky or straight face photos.  Though they’re down for repeat adventures, they get fed up when I can’t get the photo right the first time. Obviously certain rooms provide rewarding respite.

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OK, really SNL Kristen Wiig, a great influencer of fun faces.

4) GRATEFUL GOALS

Some of my goals include: More social media followers than followees; Pushing positivity; Invitation to getaway; Writing my future. Yet, I’m grateful anytime I get a new idea, don’t burn a new meal, or share a great experience with my kids. Don’t forget to celebrate each little accomplishment and when I say “celebrate,” I mean dance in the endzone!

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AFTER – Where’s my sriracha?!

With Breakfast Crack casserole fueling the kids, they’re off and running! I try to keep up big time!

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WTF: Warm, though furry! Safe to come out now?!

Best Dinner in the Universe

If you put your desires out into the universe, sometimes the universe answers.  Turns out, I put out a beacon into the Yelp Universe – just a simple truth, “Honestly, I’d love a gift card from [Bristol Farms] sometime because there are so many fun distracting foods and things I would try.” Their amazing webmaster Nicole heard, made my year and sent me a gift card!!  

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Feeling like a kid in a candy store, I jumped onto their website. Immediately, “New! Blue Bottle Coffee…” [Click!] grabbed my attention. Scooping 5-day old news about the “best iced-coffee drinks in America” now being sold at Bristol Farms revved up the mommy blogger wanna-be in me!

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Something for them for dinner, something for me for cooking!

Until my disastrous kids’ lunch offering brought me back to reality and guilt drove me to do dinner better.  

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Mommy got distracted by Facebook.

Frantically, I reviewed their online recipes!  While I love the idea of cooking complex meals on weekends, I decided on dinner that would taste elaborate, but was simple: Grilled Teriyaki Albacore with Wasabi Butter. Facing my fears directly, the butcher de-skinned the fish fillets (the gal before me did the same, not just me).

Their home brand teriyaki marinade streamlined preparations.

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A domestic goddess took over my body making chive and wasabi butter, briefly wishing for a butter mold.

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Then the wasabi burnt a hole through to my senses returning me to my kitchen.

While the flavors set for an hour, I fed my inner goddess enjoying the (strange) pairing of poke and Blue Bottle Coffee.  

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Half Salmon, Half Spicy Tuna –         All delicious!

George Foreman relieved the outdoor grill (El Niño warning). It felt devilishly rebellious scooping the flavored butter onto the fillets.

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Keeping it simple, I served the fish with rice from last night’s Chinese Dinner and frozen organic kid-friendly peas.  

Dinner’s served! 

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“WTF: Wait THAT fish…I thought you said fish sticks.”

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“I don’t like albacore!”

Turns out, my son loved it.  He even got seconds of the fish (usually he fills up on carbs).  My daughter completely surprised herself by surviving eating that much “chicken.”  (Auntie P, next time we’re down if she asks about albacore chickens – play along.) Best part?!  Inhale… No stinky fish smell!

To cap off the evening – fun hazelnut-filled mini beignets! Too fun to pass up!

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Mini beignets! Dangerously easy to pop in your mouth!

Thank you Nicole! What a deliciously fun close to our holiday season!

Tell me when the universe responded to you!

 

RED STARBUCKS CUP (inspired by Toby Keith)

red

RED STARBUCKS CUP

Inspired by Toby Keith’s

“Red Solo Cup”

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Now Red Starbucks cup is the best receptacle

To fuel me through work-days, ball games and festivals

And their coffee is strong but some say they lack testicles

To Decorate Merry Christmas

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Hey Red Starbucks cup is trash, inexpensive

In all my years, ain’t seen folks so offended

And unlike most gripes it’s something NOT printed

Folks seein’ red ‘bout missing holidays

.

CHORUS:

Red Starbucks cup, I fill you up

Order a grande, why not a venti?!

I love you Red Starbucks cup, I lift you up

Why’re they so whiney? Had too much caffeine!

.

Now I’m cracking up how you’re taking a stand

But I don’t relate, these’re First world problems, man

Cause you’re pouring your passion into the wrong plan

Am I wrong, it’s just a cup

.

But the “Merry Christmas” name campaign ain’t that hard-hittin’

All’s lost anyway when barista fouls the name written

On you with a Sharpie when they get real busy

Take a sip, steamed milk hit… relax

.

Chorus

.

Now I’ve seen you in white and I’ve seen you in green

But only you, Red, will do for this coffee queen

Cause you are the palette on which I scribble scenes

To bring the real warmth of the holiday

.

Red Starbucks cup, your season won’t last, it’s

More than a color, you’re contents – fantastic!

And believe me that I’m not the least bit sarcastic

When I look at you and pray:

“Red Starbucks cup, you’re not just Winter (No, no, God no)

Stay all year, yea (Year-long)

Thank you for bringing me cheer”

.

Chorus

.

[repeat]

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I couldn’t help it, I had this rolling around in my head since the issue started simmering in the press.  Now it’s hit a boiling point with politicians chiming in and competitors taking the chance to do it better.  Without pointing out the obvious – if this is ruining your hoilday, the cup ain’t the problem.  Ellen said it best with a hand-crafted dose of holiday humor.

For real holiday cheer, buy someone who’s not expecting it a warm Starbucks drink and see how THAT makes you feel! Warmer than a Quad Latte in winter!

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YOU’RE HOT THEN YOU’RE COLD

With school starting up again soon, we’re desperately holding onto the summer with every part of our being. From days at the beach, to back-to-back play dates that stretch after dinner we’re maximizing every minute.  I don’t vary my menu much from season-to-season but if I don’t have at least one big pot of Gazpacho to help me sweat to cool off in the summer, it’s as though summer was never here at all.

Gazpacho comes from Spain – I sell it to my son as salsa soup, although it’s crisper and heartier than that. American’s don’t do a lot of cold soups that I’m aware of, but when you’re glistening in the summer sun, this brings relief.

There are many varieties, but this recipe is our sentimental favorite. With any great recipe passed down, I improvise and adjust things to my liking.  I’ll give you the basics, but in the photo captions, I’ll tell you where I experiment.

I had a variety of pepper colors, but green is great too! My addiction, my family doesn’t touch these

I had a variety of pepper colors, but green is great too!
Serrano chile: my addiction, my family doesn’t go there*

Ingredients:

46 ounces of V8
1 green bell pepper 
1 small white onion 
1 small red onion 
1 cucumber
2 green chiles chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco or 1tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 small jar pimentos

I choose spicy V8 but first time you may want regular

I choose spicy V8 but first time you may want regular

Also, you need olive oil, red vinegar and black ground pepper.

Toss in, blend - repeat!

Toss in, blend – repeat!

I personally pre-cube the veggies to approximately golf ball size.  Then load the blender with equal parts of all veggies, a splash of V8, some pimentos, and Pulse Blend until like a really smooth salsa.  Pour into large pot and repeat.  Repeat until all ingredients are blended.

To the large pot I add 1T olive oil, 3T Red Vinegar, 1 ½ tsp Tabasco (original), pepper to taste (I like lots). I don’t use salt – V8 already has it.

2 Bowls a day - I love this soup!

WTF – Wow, the FLAVORS!

Stir it then stick it in the fridge.   So hard to wait, but this soup tastes better chilled and after it sits to let the flavors blend!

I grew up topping it with crusty bread or croutons, but now, I add artificial crab (real even better) and chopped avocado instead!  If I’m feeling spicy, I splash on Sriracha!

Practically zero calories - only whatever the garnishes have!

Practically zero calories – only what the garnishes have!

Share your favorite gazpacho recipes or adaptations of this recipe in comments so I may try them!

¡Salud!  

*Be careful when de-seeding and chopping these to not touch your eyes! Even later in the day, the oils stay on the skin – trust me!

LIFE LESSON – EMERGENCY ALERT TACTICS

I’m sitting here waiting for input on an assignment and to make sure I am in front of the computer when it arrives. Because it’s after midnight, I am implementing my emergency alert tactics!  Now I’m one of the most caffeinated people I know but even caffeine has its limits when confronted with PMS, Daylight Savings switches, or in this case – allergies.

So what’s a girl to do when she must remain alert (besides the obvious blogging)?

Fold loads of laundry while watching…

Back-to-back Bluth get-togethers!

Bag up all my daughter’s stuffed animals,
you don’t want to know why.
WTF? Where’re the Fuzzies?

Bake banana bread with chocolate chips
Trader Joes – Simple!

What emergency alert tactics do you implement? I could use a few more for tomorrow night because with each passing day, the ones you use lose their power so one must introduce new alert tactics!

 

 

 

SERVER DETECTED SPAM MUSUBI

I’m half-Korean. People don’t quite know where to place me. My skin is too dark to be white (You can’t spell Caucasian without Asian…), my green-ish eyes aren’t Asian, my Hungarian cooking scrambles their brains. Honestly, not being brought up Asian, and turned off by some stereotypes for Asian women, I identified with American Indians, because I used to fantasize about riding my horse all day in the sun over the open plains, or got a kick out of people who ask if I’m Hawaiian. Sure, I can go for that!

Today, I’m embracing my Hawaiian roots and in the effort of finding PB&J substitutes for the kids’ lunches, I’m attempting Spam Musubi!

ExSPAMple A: less messy, easier to eat in cut rolls
NOTE: I prefer thicker Spam – 8 slices/can.
The right one is 10 slices/can.

Simple as it sounds, it terrified me some. Most of the terror came from shopping for the ingredients.

Proof that I am way too Americanized and have passed that along to my kids.

To me, reading this stuff is about as easy as reading QR barcodes

Tough to decipher, simple to assemble.

I brainlessly cooked 2 cups of rice in the cooker – push one button!

One button – done!

I sliced the spam experimenting with width of the meat in the finished product.

Heated some Sesame Oil in the cast iron skillet,

Sesame Oil – LOVE IT to season anything.

added some teriyaki and browned it.

Spam became popular in WWII as a meat ration and became popular in Hawaii.

How brown you want it is up to you. Most of the color is from the cooking teriyaki sauce, not from burning.

The most complicated part is assembly, but thanks to my great friend, I have a sushi/musubi mold! Sometimes it’s all about the gear and then you feel like a pro musubi maker!

Acrylic box open on both ends with a press. May be called sushi or musubi maker. What’s your gadget fave?

It’s all a matter of layering:

Rice – fill the maker near ½ full

Press Hard – don’t want it to fall apart

Rice Seasoning – seaweed and sesame seeds (no fish flakes) – your preference how much you want to use. Doesn’t dominate flavor, it’s an accent flavor.

Try it on plain rice too!

Spam

Perfect fit! No additional cutting at all!

Rice Seasoning – next time, I’m going to try wasabi on this 2nd layer instead of double rice seasoning

WTF: Way to flavor!  It’s like glitter on food, seriously!

Rice – fill in the blanks and press hard!

Very Simple, Very Easy — Chef Tell

Wrapped up in a pretty seaweed wrapper. This brand was the perfect size for my musubi maker. Wet fingers with some water to “glue” the sheets together if the steam from the rice doesn’t seal it.

This Nori (dried seaweed) was so easy to work with!

It was so easy and turned out so beautiful thanks to the press that I almost felt like I cheated!

Almost like I try to cheat and get a local discount when visiting Hawaii, but the locals can see right through me and know I’m not Hawaiian. Maybe next time I’ll come armed with my Spam musubi and they’ll reconsider.

ExSPAMpleB – Less rice and seaweed, harder to eat.
Green Lightsaber chopsticks ensured I’d get 2 thumbs up from my kids who were too busy with friends to rate me.

NEURAL PRUNING MERIT BADGE

This past weekend we went camping with my son’s Boy Scout troop.

Doesn’t get any more peaceful than this…

It was one of the few family camping outings since most outings will be for Scouts alone – with adult supervision. We were split up as follows: 2 patrols with 4 new scouts each – my son led one; 2 senior patrol leaders – incredibly patient, straightforward yet humorous teenaged motivators.

Lauren has some motivational skills to sharpen before she could lead a patrol.

One adult oversaw the itinerary. We 10 parents plus 3 siblings made up a 3rd patrol. Each patrol had to operate independently. We could not help the boys, only intervening in case of a safety issue. They (and we) were responsible to set up tents,

Beautiful spot of real estate – we learned rocks are unavoidable and uncomfortable.

plan, buy and cook food,

They bought everything they needed and came in under budget!

clean up dishes,

Lauren compromised patrol boundaries to eagerly help the boys wash dishes.

plus leave the camp sight spotless. Boy Scouts Leave No Trace.

It was a great weekend to meet the other parents, too. One ex-military mom with “intelligence” and “corporate organization” words in her job title caught my attention when she’d step in to redirect the boys, “Don’t cook bacon on the grill without a pan” or “Dishes aren’t rinsed in the creek” then returned to the parent patrol motioning with her two curved fingers brushing past her skull – “Neural Pruning!”

I hear Nat’l Geographics Insight into the Teenage Mind provides great insight!
Image from Brain Brilliance.

Neural Pruning means that young kids collect an avalanche of information and form ridiculous numbers of neural connections to absorb and make sense of it. Eventually, we have to get rid of connections or we’d be wandering around in spirals with glazed-over expression, words flying through our mind without sticking – like my 11-year old (albeit smart) son does. Neural Pruning strengthens strong connections – gun safety,

The highlight, and the most neural pruning – forget what you learned in Modern Warfare…

multiplication tables, reading – and eliminates unnecessary connections – Barney songs, first time you hated broccoli, perhaps it’s even how women “forget” the ordeal of childbirth to eagerly have another one.

My Another One… My favorite girl enjoying her gourmet dessert – while camping!

It was amazing watching the boys alternate between skillful teamwork and not absorbing that there was a nearby fresh-water spigot. Now, our parental goal is continuously encouraging the boys to rise to the occasion and fighting the urge to do things for them.

As long as he had his pasta, he was comfy!

…and it turned out tasty! I want to create patrol boxes for every part of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why, then, can I still remember songs from Sesame Street 40 years ago knowing I don’t need them today – not even after raising 2 kids. What could I do with that valuable neural real estate?

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