Ode to a Big Brother

My brother Scot and I are often polar opposites when it comes to our views.  For years now we have had hearty debates about almost every political, religious, and philosophical issue there is…he is impossible! But also so very rational, and the master in debating–he is always trying to get me to take the emotion out of my argument (still working on that…)  You must remember that this is my big brother…23 years older kind of big.  I can’t get over that he used to DESTROY ME in Monopoly–I was under 10 and he was over 30 and there he went putting hotels on Boardwalk and I didn’t even have a house on Mediterranean!! Through all our debates I think I was trying to finally win. It always seemed to me we never had much in common, as he truly is in a parental generation compared to me.  Perhaps this is changing now that I am a parent too? Or maybe I am less interested in finding our differences and trying to convince him to come to my side, instead I would rather find a common thread with my only brother.

I recently sent him an email with an interesting little video about changing the paradigms of education in the US.  Scot and his wife Phenny homeschool their two kids so I thought he would be interested and give some good perspective. Of course he did!  I was homeschooled, and I dream of homeschooling my own kids so I am interested in his POV. Anyways, this post isn’t about changing education paradigms, but somehow our email chain led to a discussion about the concept of “Too Much Love”.  He sent me an interesting meditation about being firm with your children and allowing them to struggle on their own at times, here is the final message of the meditation:

“Do you ever find yourself trying to help your children more than you should? Your children’s education can suffer if you don’t learn to balance the dual role you play as teacher and parent. Spelling out every answer will be detrimental to the development of their reasoning and thinking processes. Be careful. Don’t destroy the new life God is using you to shape. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

I responded with an example of how Brad and I were exploring this concept with Elsie as she learns to roll over.  She is readily able to roll from back to belly, but gets “stuck” on her belly.  Should we not help her turn over?  Below is Scot’s response.  Look how he takes the concept of an infant milestone and expands it into a much wider concept. HOW DOES HE DO THAT?! He is still totally my know-it-all-big-brother.  But this time I appreciate it.

There is a creative tension between the instinct to help and the instinct to withdraw. If you honor that tension, you can trust your instincts.

There is no harm in rolling her over…it gives her opportunity to practice an acquired skill to mastery. Unless she has a developmental problem, what you do will only marginally inhibit the natural progression of Elsie’s skill building. She benefits from any “barriers” you create by learning to overcome them through trial and error. On the other hand, what you do can greatly enhance here skill building. Here is an idea: make a game of it and wait a little longer each time before you roll her over. (Recite lines of poetry while you wait!)
Also, when you roll her over, instead of just using a tour de force, press her individual body parts (gently and patiently) through the natural physiological process required to do it herself. First one at a time, then progressively:
Extend the dominant arm forward across the body to shift the center of gravity and gain leverage…
Drop the dominant shoulder to lower the hurdle and shift the center of gravity..
Turn the head away from the dominant shoulder…
Swing the other arm with the head…
Swing the legs with the arms…
Press the dominant shoulder up with the dominant arm…
You’ll be amazed at how quickly she catches on! Front to back is “harder” because the arms naturally create leverage against the move, and because swinging the arm/leg backward is counter-intuitive (she swung them forward to succeed in the back to front move). Subtraction and division will be “harder” in math because she must first learn to abandon the successful strategies of addition and multiplication.

These four principles apply to any training exercise (physiological, mental, emotional, relational, spiritual):

1.Model new skills down to the minute details.

2.Withdraw assistance gradually and strategically.

3. Integrate mastery exercises with teaching exercises.

4. If you enjoy the process, they will too.
A helpful little ditty:
You enjoy watching me do it until you’re ready to help me.
You enjoy helping me do it until you’re ready to try it.
I’ll enjoy helping you do it until you’re ready do it.
I’ll enjoy watching you do it until you’re ready do more.
Kids learn by doing, but they learn best by doing WITH mom and dad!
Thanks Scot, you smartypants!

Crispy Mexican Spiced Chicken Thighs

We are back from vay-k! Sunny Florida was so refreshing, and I have returned renewed and ready to cook.

I had a craving for Mexican, but I am all tortilla’d out… so I thought I would try something new!  I had these chicken thighs in my freezer…I bought them a while back on sale, but they have been intimidating me from my freezer since.  I am not sure why chicken on the bone scares me, but tonight was the night I conquered the fear! This recipe came out great, super easy and the skin was crispy and the meat was moist and flavorful.

Mix the cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, and ground cloves.


Juice 2 limes.


Place the chicken thighs in a greased baking pan, skin side up. Sprinkle the thighs generously with the spice mix. Divide the butter into 8 pieces and put one on each thigh.  I think the butter is what makes the skin so yum. No I don’t think, I know! Butter is like bacon…part of a moderate lifestyle…don’t be afraid of butter!!


Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 45 minutes until meat is 160-165 degrees.


I served the chicken with a lime cilantro brown rice (make the rice per recipe, but add a couple teaspoons of lime juice to the rice water at the beginning, then when rice is finished add a couple more teaspoons of lime juice and about 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro) and guacamole (I have to say my guac is the bomb diggity. The key is to add a TON of cilantro and a little lime juice). The flavors were really great together…spicy yumilicious!


Crispy Mexican Spiced Chicken Thighs

8 chicken thighs
2 limes, to juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1  tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Lay out the chicken thighs skin-side up in the pan. Pour lime juice over chicken.

3.Mix spices together. Sprinkle over the meat.

4. Divide the butter up into 8  little clumps. Place 1 clump on top of each chicken thigh.

5. Bake for about 45 minutes.