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Parenting Styles

I had an excellent opportunity to get a good look at my siblings parenting styles over Thanksgiving and I'm certain that I'll get another taste during the Christmas and New Year's holidays. I'm one to resist spewing parenting advice to others for the simple reason that no matter what the kids do at home, there is really no way of knowing what they will do when they are in public.

Long story short, Thursday night I broke my own rule of not becoming involved. No, one of the cousins did not whack one of my girls on the head or try to sneak peanuts to my baby with a severe peanut allergy. The little darling disrespected my mom's home.

I didn't lose control and even managed not to criticize my sister's severely relaxed parenting style but I just could not keep my mouth shut. She was raised in the same house as I was with the same values and to see her let her child get away with a level of destructive behavior that we never would have been caught dead practicing under the darkest cover of darkness or under a cloak of anonymity, much less in the middle of a family gathering in full daylight was just too much.

To give you some background, mom has had the same living room furniture all my life. On her birthday we pooled our resources and bought her a new set of end tables and a coffee table challenging dad to buy a sofa, chair and loveseat which he did. Thursday was her day to show the completed room off and you could tell that she was so very proud.

I reminded my girls to mind their manners and keep food at the table and to play outside as did all of my brothers and sisters EXCEPT for the one who believes in a loose and indulgent style of parenting. Things started out alright and then her little boy got rowdy and thought it was a good idea to stand on the coffee table, jump on the new sofa and break a lamp. After each incident, the expected admonishment never arrived.

Finally, after the lamp crashed to the floor. I took matters into my own hands and told the little boy to get outside with the other children and pulled my sister aside to give her a piece of my mind. She proceeded to give me a rundown of her preferred style of child-rearing and how she wanted her child to have freedom to make his own choices to build his self-esteem. Parenting styles and self esteem be hanged, that was my mother's house and I shared a piece of my mind and shared a little unappreciated advice with her on how to discipline her son.

Was I wrong in the way I handled the situation? I would appreciate it if those of you who visit Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues would give me a little advice before the family Christmas get-together.


Thanksgiving Time Savers

One of the best Thanksgiving time savers that I put to work yesterday (and the day before) would make my great-grandmother's head spin backwards. Yeah, I was raised to believe that it was a sin or at the very least something to be embarrassed about if the can opener came into play at any time during the preparation of the holiday feast.

The rest of the year, the dancing glove was the enemy but on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter canned goods were left in the cabinet or better yet, the grocery store. The exception was, of course, something that you had canned yourself in a Mason jar.

This year, with all of the stress and extra workload in keeping the house disinfected so that everybody won't get MRSA that doesn't already have it, I bit the bullet and took a few shortcuts. And I have to tell you that of all the heretofore forbidden Thanksgiving time savers, canned chicken broth was the absolute BEST!

Led to believe that the taste of canned broth was easily detected when compared to homemade, I had never experimented with it. Under the gun this year, I forgot to buy a hen and simmer it to have my broth ready to make the dressing and gravy. After a quick and surreptitious dash to the grocery before lunch, six cans of Sweet Sue saved the day. The empty cans were bagged, hidden and buried in the dumpster and NOBODY said a thing about any of the recipes having a slightly "off" flavor.

Not having to make room in the refrigerator to store the homemade broth alone probably saved me an hour! That may not sound like much but on a busy holiday, every hour counts.

I would be curious to know if you discovered any Thanksgiving time savers that you might want to share. As for me, you can bet that I've got six more cans of this stuff on my grocery list to have on hand for Christmas. Am I proud that I jumped in and did what I had to do to make Thanksgiving dinner a success? You bet I am! Am I going to tell my grandmother what I did? Well, no. In fact, the canned broth is written in code on my grocery list and I plan to hide the cans in the trunk of the car. Will I be found out? You will have to return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to see more Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday time savers and to see if anybody outs me.



Digging through my recipe box, what I have in my hands is a box of family traditions. Some of the cards are so stained that I can hardly read them but because the instructions and ingredients are in my grandmother’s handwriting, the thought that someday I will have no choice but to discard them breaks my heart. Each creased and dog-eared rectangle is soaked in memories.

And with each passing day, I appreciate more and more the importance of family traditions. It gives me pause to think what part of our lives that my girls are storing away in their minds that will be remembered in their adult lives. Somehow I know that what might strike them as memorable and important may not be the things that I regard as profound. I can already tell that from talking to my niece who is slightly older than my oldest daughter. I will ask her if she remembers this or that day that is crystal clear in my mind’s eye only to find that she has no recollection of the events whatsoever.

What I am counting on is that as my baby girls get older and find themselves in difficult or upsetting circumstances that they will have comforting memories of a stable childhood to bring them comfort. What I’m doing to foster these memories is keeping variety to a minimum especially when it comes to the holidays. My basic Thanksgiving and Christmas menu will always include certain dishes with a few experimental dishes on the side because I believe that repetition is the key to family traditions.

My sister and I have a standing joke about how every year until we left home mom and dad decorated shoeboxes with aluminum foil to hold oranges, apples and nuts supposedly left by Santa. It worries me that my girls will remember this coming Christmas as the one when dad was so sick and mom was worn out and worried. This thought has put my wheels in motion to focus on building fun holiday family traditions that will overshadow their dad’s current health crisis.

Before the season get in full swing, I’m organizing my favorite family recipes and making a list of fun holiday traditions from my own childhood that I want my daughters to enjoy. I’m not going to put a lot of pressure on myself to decorate the house like I’m trying to win “Home of the Year” or buy tickets to every holiday production within a 100 mile radius but I am going to do my best to keep it fun and keep Christ in Christmas. And I am not going to repeat my mother’s mistake of forcing Christmas stuff on my girls. One funny memory I have is mom telling us to get ourselves dressed and get in the car before we completely ruined everything and that we were going to LOVE the Nutcracker whether we liked it or not!

Come back later to see my list of Fun Holiday Family Tradtions that I come up with and please feel free to leave some suggestions for me in case I come up short.



My family sweet potato pie recipe is soul food at its best. It's delicious, nutritious (so long as you don't mind sugar with your Vitamin A) and sitting down for a slice with your loved ones or even all by yourself with a good cup of coffee is definitely good for the soul.

Southern Sweet Potato Pie Video.

Just to let you know this is a truly SOUTHERN style recipe. It's not fluffy but firm. I use Pet evaporated milk not condensed milk and i am not sure why anybody would want to make it any other way. I'm sure there are other recipes that are delicious but if I tried to change a single ingredient or do something like add pecans or walnuts, I expect that I would have a redneck rebellion on my hands.

10 cups thinly sliced sweet potatos
1/2 stick of butter or Blue Bonnet Margarine
2/3 cup plain white flour
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 tsp of ground nutmeg
1 tsp of cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Pet Evaporated Milk (or however much it takes to make the mixture the same consistency as cake batter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 deep dish pie shells (unbaked)

Cover sliced sweet potatos with water in a large boiler. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook till potatos are soft which should take about 45 minutes give or take a few. Before you remove from the fire, take a test slice and mash to be sure it is "mashable" without leaving lumps. When soft and ready, drain well in a colander and return potatos to the large boiler.

Mash margarine and potatos together till margarine is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the Pet milk until blended. (if you were looking for condensed milk you are looking for something other than my family sweet potato pie recipe, my friend).

In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon mixing well. Pour this mixture on top of potato mixture and mix till well blended. Add one egg at a time mixing well after each. Last of all add the vanilla and stir.

Pour everything into 2 unbaked, deep dish pie shells.

Bake about 1 hour in a preheated 350 degree oven until the centers are firm.

To keep the entire sweet potato pie recipe from ending up on the bottom of a hot oven and ruining your day, I put the filled pie shells on baking sheets and not directly on the oven racks.

To keep the edges of the pie shell from getting burned, I put strips of aluminum foil around the edges before I load the pies in the oven.

This is an OLD SOUTHERN FAMILY sweet potato pie recipe. Before my great grandmother passed away I made her give me approximate measurements for the ingredients and instructions. I am still amazed at how consistent her pies were considering that she never used a recipe book and did all of her baking on a wood stove.

I'm going to share more soul food recipes that I'm thinking of including on my Thanksgiving dinner menu, so y'all come back now!

Wound Care

We are still making trips back and forth to the hospital for wound care for E's MRSA. Blood was drawn yesterday and the white blood count is too high still for the poor guy to be taken off the antibiotic drip. I'm not sure what the plan is at this point because according to the doctor he was hoping for a much better response by now. This is confusing to me because I had read a report that MRSA actually kills white blood cells so I'm making a note to ask the doctor about this.

The huge wounds left from the incisions that were made when the boils, carbuncles or abscesses (wound care nurses have called them all of the above, so I'm not sure which he had or if he had all three) were lanced are still very sore but are slowly closing.

The largest wound was 8 inches in length and 3 inches deep after surgery. This woun care for this one has been a nightmare. Keeping a dressing on it is a challenge and not surprisingly, it is extremely painful. Yesterday, as part of the treatment the nurser used a scalpel to cut the sides so that she could start to pull the sides of the incision together for it to heal. She then put steri-strips on it to pull it closed. Needless to say this was a very painful visit and E was exhausted and went straight to bed when we got him home.