On Bad Parenting, Trying Harder, and Good Eats

There was scrimmaging at soccer this weekend. The kids were 3 on 3 and the very opposite of aggressive. In fact, I’ve never seen a more polite competition. They all very patiently waited for their turn to kick the ball and no one even came close to stealing from the other team. The coach last week was right, it was hilarious – we were glad we brought our cameras.

At one point, Lily kicked the ball too far to the left of the goal and after trying to kick it back into place, just picked it up and put it directly in front of the goal before she scored. No hands, no schmands.

But did I yell at her? No. Did I berate her in front of all the other kids and parents?? Of course not!

How did the poor boy whose father yelled at him disappointed the whole “game” not get what he was doing? Lily just stared at him as he went on and on that his child should be trying harder, paying more attention, not being such a 3 year old loser. The only thing stopping me from walking up to him and giving him some gentle words of advice was that my terribly polite husband was there and we girls must be careful who we pick fights with lest our husbands be forced to turn on the chivalrous. I settled for mentioning it to the coach after practice. But I really felt sad for that sweet boy. He will never love soccer.


So, I’m probably the last to know this but I’m officially not too cool to read self help books anymore. And I wish someone had been able to convince me sooner that not only was I not as cool as I thought, but I could actually learn a thing or two from old Stephen Covey. Yet, somehow I’m still sort of embarrassed to admit it.

Anyhow, I’ve managed to convince David to read about the 7 habits with me and I for one, can already feel the positive effects on my relationships, behavior and general outlook on life. Habit 2, for instance, is all about beginning each day with the end in mind. And since I’ve been to the end and back, this concept speaks to me.

My behavior towards Lily (and David and everyone else I care about) does not accurately reflect how deeply I love her (and them). See. I’m a yeller. We don’t spank but we yell all day long. My frustration responds far more often than my patience and understanding and I make myself sick with worry later that my behavior will haunt me down the road when she rebels fueled with years of her own frustration. I’m trying to win too many insignificant, little battles, not the war.

As a side note, I’m not sure if my yelling has become more frequent since Olivia died or if I just feel guiltier now. Either way, I’m energized to change. I love that girl with all my heart. I didn’t know my heart had the capacity to love someone as much as I love her. Yet I use my size and my authority to bully her into doing what I want her to do instead of teaching her to want the right things. I’m smarter than that. I’ve just been lazy as far as she goes lately and that is what is changing.


And finally, I’ve gotten the old recipes back in order and I’m a’cookin’. This weekend I made rum glazed pecans, a breakfast fritatta, pasta with roasted cauliflower and garlic, and tortilla soup. I’m going through a cooking phase again which is definitely a good sign that makes everyone happy. I’ve been getting a subscription to Cooks Illustrated for the past couple years and finally put together a homemade cookbook of our favorites. For those of you who like to cook, here’s the Tortilla Soup recipe. In the future, this is how I want to be loved when I’m sick. I’ll have this instead of chicken noodle soup any day. Seriously, if you love summer time comfort foods, this is amazingly fresh and full of flavor. We love, love, love it.

Tortilla Soup

 Makes about 9 cups, serving 6.   Published March 1, 2005.  

Despite its somewhat lengthy ingredient list, this recipe is very easy to prepare. If you desire a soup with mild spiciness, trim the ribs and seeds from the jalapeño (or omit the jalapeño altogether) and use the minimum amount of chipotle in adobo sauce (1 teaspoon, pureed with the tomatoes in step 3). Our preferred brand of low-sodium chicken broth is Swanson’s Natural Goodness. If advance preparation suits you, the soup can be completed short of adding the shredded chicken to the pot at the end of step 3. Return the soup to a simmer over medium-high heat before proceeding. The tortilla strips and the garnishes are best prepared the day of serving.


Tortilla Strips
8 corn tortillas (6-inch), cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  Table salt
2 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) or 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds), skin removed and well trimmed of excess fat (I used the chicken thighs)
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I didn’t get enough chicken broth, so I used 4 cups of broth, 2 cups of water and a cup of olive brine)
1 very large white onion (about 1 pound), trimmed of root end, quartered, and peeled
4 medium cloves garlic , peeled
2 sprigs epazote , fresh, or 8 to 10 sprigs fresh cilantro plus 1 sprig fresh oregano (I used thyme, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper. I don’t even know what epazote is.)
  Table salt
2 medium tomatoes , cored and quartered
1/2 medium jalapeño chile (omitted – Lily would never eat it, “too spicy!”)
1 chipotle chile en adobo , plus up to 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (thyme, cumin, garlic salt and pepper)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lime , cut into wedges
1 Hass avocado , diced fine
8 ounces cotija cheese , crumbled, or Monterey Jack cheese, diced fine (used Monterey Jack)
  fresh cilantro leaves (used fresh from the backyard!)
  minced jalapeno pepper (nope)
  Mexican crema or sour cream (unfortunately couldn’t find Mexican crema)


  1. FOR THE TORTILLA STRIPS: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread tortilla strips on rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with oil and toss until evenly coated. Bake until strips are deep golden brown and crisped, about 14 minutes, rotating pan and shaking strips (to redistribute) halfway through baking time. Season strips lightly with salt; transfer to plate lined with several layers paper towels.
  2. FOR THE SOUP: While tortilla strips bake, bring chicken, broth, 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, epazote, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil over medium-high heat in large saucepan; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large plate. Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer; discard solids in strainer. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; discard bones.
  3. Puree tomatoes, 2 remaining onion quarters, 2 remaining garlic cloves, jalapeño, chipotle chile, and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce in food processor until smooth. Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering; add tomato/onion
    puree and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has darkened in color, about 10 minutes. Stir strained broth into tomato mixture, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, about 15 minutes. Taste soup; if desired, add up to 2 teaspoons additional adobo sauce. Add shredded chicken and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. To serve, place portions of tortilla strips in bottom of individual bowls and ladle soup into bowls; pass garnishes separately.

Per Serving: Cal 250; Fat 7 g; Sat fat 1 g; Chol 45 mg; Carb 26 g; Protein 21 g; Fiber 4 g; Sodium 460 mg

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