All posts by marlenedotterer

Science Fiction and Fantasy writer

You’re the Parent. Start Acting Like One

Here’s a good article on training our children. I think this is a very important concept that has been lost among today’s busy young families.

It’s interesting  – I am a big believer of things like on-demand breastfeeding and attachment parenting. I think we can’t love our kids too much and we can’t hold them too much. I think newborns NEED bodies and arms and breasts and voices and faces in order to thrive. They are sponges, soaking up every sensation that comes their way, and their busy little brains are categorizing and applying it all like crazy.

I think babies know instinctually how much to eat, and how much sucking they need to do, and how much holding and communication they need. I think they need warm bodies with them at night. I think we should watch them for signs of being ready for solid food (sitting up well, watching you eat, reaching for your food), and let them have some input into when to wean.

So how and when does this “baby-led or baby-centered” philosophy give way to setting the  rules and teaching the kids that they have to fit into OUR world?

Well… let’s think about it. It starts almost immediately when the nurses and doctors want to exam and poke baby after birth. When you go home from the hospital. That car seat is mandatory. When mom goes back to work and baby is taken from bed, put into the car seat and dropped off at day care. When it’s bath time and bed time.

All of these things teach the baby that he’s on your schedule, even if you’re squeezing on-demand feeding into the picture.

Just build on that as baby grows. Day care means your baby has to learn social skills and parents must teach them to treat others right. How to take turns. How to share. It’s important to know that kids must grow into these skills. A six month baby is not capable of sharing, but a two-year-old is. Learn about child development, then watch YOUR child to know when he’s ready to learn the skill. Appropriate ages for skills are going  to vary from child to child, but most kids will follow the general age.

And remember – the baby who never had to wait an hour to eat because of some arbitrary schedule – that baby may easily learn to treat others with respect. It’s the baby who had to scream and fight for basic needs who might turn into the bully.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day

My hat is off to the Irish, who personify the “We shall overcome” spirit. They’re tough, friendly, and generous. Not perfect, but I expect they’ll keep at it until they are!

We had our Irish dinner last night.  Not the chicken I had planned – we switched that out for a long walk. But we had the soda bread I made, along with some Irish cheese and a lovely green broccoli soup.



Cooking Post: St. Patrick’s Day and the Author is Amiss

Spring is here, it only awaits the official moment of the equinox in a few days. With the lengthening and warming days comes the happy celebration of the Irish. Long-time readers of this blog will know I hold no esteem for St. Patrick himself, but I love the Irish from deep in my soul. There is no way I can ignore the day (tomorrow) when everybody in the world claims the bit of Irish blood coursing in their veins or imaginations.

My own claim is somewhere around half, with that part of me sharing a small mixture with Scots, English, and um, Cherokee. Very sparse, that last one.

Like any special day, my celebratory bent is toward food and drink. Decorations are nice, but mostly beyond my ability. So I set the table with my Irish lace tablecloth (we bought it on our first trip to Ireland in 2003) and the shamrock napkins leftover from some party many years ago. Then I concentrate on food.

The happy day itself is tomorrow, but we have non-Irish plans previously made, which is okay, it just means I must celebrate early. And twice, since I can still wear my Irish socks and earrings tomorrow. It’s the little things.

So today I’m cooking, and that’s where I made a disconcerting discovery. I somehow misplaced the recipe for my very favorite Irish Soda Bread. I discovered this late last night and simply could not go to bed until I’d found it. How could I lose it? My mind was blank. I couldn’t even remember where the recipe originated. I was pretty sure it wasn’t one of my cookbooks, although I did look through my Irish Food and Cooking and Celtic Folklore Cooking. Of course, I got caught up in all the great recipes in those books, so it took me a while to escape them.

Was it in my file cabinet of recipes from my chef days? That felt right, but when I looked in the Bread file, it was empty, due to a frustrated purge of paper I engaged in a year or so ago. Seriously, if you saw this place you’d understand.

Well, I couldn’t believe that under any circumstances that I would have thrown away that recipe. It was here somewhere. Or on my computer, which was my next attack.

Nope, not on Evernote. Well surely, I blogged about it at some point. But a search of my blog did not yield anything for terms of soda bread. How could that be? I’ve been blogging for over ten years and I don’t have a single post on Irish soda bread?

Yes, this is why I’m posting now. How dare I fail to do that?

But… not on my blog. Did I get the recipe from Bob’s Red Mill? Cooking Light?

Cooking Light was a possibility – I had a vague impression of holding a torn-out page from a magazine. But that page would have been in my Bread file. Sadly, Cooking Light’s website is a nightmare to navigate due to all the ads, and I didn’t feel strong enough to tackle it last night.

But THEN I remembered! The bread recipe was part of a St. Patrick’s appetizer page along with a salmon topping. As such, it wouldn’t have been in my Bread file – it would be under Appetizers. So back to the file cabinet and YES – there it was! Whew!

It is indeed a Cooking Light recipe and you can find it here, although they may demand that you join up or sign your life away or something. Truly awful website. The bread’s True Name is Brown Soda Bread, and it’s made with whole wheat flour, steel-cut oats and a bit of brown sugar. It’s AWESOME bread and it makes great toast, too.

So that will be my Irish treat today, along with a simple braised chicken more-or-less taken from Irish Food and Cooking. This will not be a Vegan day. After dinner libations will be an Irish Flag Shooter.


Oh, and now I have soda bread, and the LINK to my favorite soda bread recipe, right here on my website. I will now be able to find it, always. But since I don’t trust Cooking Light to always let me access this particular recipe since I no longer subscribe to their magazine, I’m scanning said recipe into my computer. It will be on Evernote. I’m also adding it to my Yummly account.

And I’m keeping the torn-out page in my file forever.

Happy Spring, and may your souls always be Irish!


Food Politics by Marion Nestle » PAHO issues nutrition standards for ultraprocessed foods. Beverage Associations object.

Behold the following scenario:

The International Council of Beverages Associations:  It will not be useful if families find that nearly 80% of the foods and beverages in their grocery carts are unacceptable.

Me *waves hand wildly to get attention*

ICBA *sigh*: Yes?

Me: Seems like finding nearly 80% of the foods in their carts is unacceptable is kind of the point. People are making themselves sick, and they’re dying years earlier than they have to, because of their food choices. How can they change that if they don’t learn how bad the situation is? Families need that information. You just don’t want to shut down 80% of your production line and figure out how to give people Real Food.

Source: Food Politics by Marion Nestle » PAHO issues nutrition standards for ultraprocessed foods. Beverage Associations object.