DIY Fruit by the foot

 And they are expected to what?  Be perfect? Put on a smile and ignore the violence.  Ignore the bullying.  Ignore the injustice. Play with a fidget spinner?  Come on!
— Vinessa Antoine

Raising our brooding teens without losing our goo...

When I was breastfeeding my babies and wiping dirty asses everyday, my girlfriends were still going out to the club and traveling with their boyfriends du jour.  When my boys started elementary school, my friends were ditching their latest boy toys and looking for a solid relationship.  When my boys started middle school, my girlfriends were getting married and watching their biological clock tick away.  By the time my eldest was starting high school, my girlfriends were complaining of exhaustion from lack of new born/new mommy sleep and asking how the hell I did it all alone!  Frankly, I really don't know.  A good glass of wine at night seemed to help the process.  I told them that it would get easier and to hang in there. A bold faced lie.  The truth is, I knew it wasn't going to get any easier and I wanted to warn them about the reality of the up coming years ahead.  I wanted to say, "Brace yourself honey!  The fun has only just begun!"  But how could I say that to a sleep deprived woman who was looking for a glimmer of hope?   Teens are no joke and the teens that we are blessed with today are not the teens that we were back then.  

As you may know I got married young and had my babies in my early twenties.  Unusual for today I guess.  I always felt like I had one foot in the old school and one foot in the new school of parenting.  The parents of my kids' friends were always much older than I was and I felt pretty alone in this motherhood journey.  I mean, I listen to the same damn music as my kids! I really do.  While I twisted in the wind trying to navigate this mom thing alone, those other parents seemed so much more grounded than I was.  More comfortable.  Better equipped. Financially and emotionally better equipped. They were settled.  Patient.  Older.  I was the frazzled, younger chick that nobody could possibly believe had kids in the first place.  Sunglasses on with audition scripts in one hand, Starbucks and keys in the other.  Always running from one thing to the next.  A hot mess. "You look like a teen yourself", they would say while laughing amongst themselves.  Them and their exclusive little parents club.  I laughed with them.  "Thanks!",  I said with a smile trying to fit in once again into a world that I knew nothing about.  How the heck do I raise teen boys when I feel like a kid myself?

On one hand I feel incredibly blessed that I seem to have one finger on the pulse of todays youth. I'm pretty aware of some of the things that kids are into these days.  I certainly feel like they relate to me better than most of the "older" parents anyway.  I've been labelled the "the cool mom" on many occasions and I'm grateful that I decided to join motherhood early.   On the other hand, I really don't understand half of what my boys are going through today.  Their pain.  Their struggle.  Their very mature and acute awareness of major issues going on today.  We didn't have access to all this information when I was a teenager!    But we need to start getting down to the reality of why are so many teens dealing with depression, anxiety, ADD, and bullying.  The pressure is real!  The struggle is real and I'm honestly sitting here writing this blog in awe of how they even get through the day.

 

 

 

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I recently hung out with a family that had young kids ranging from about pre-school to 4th grade.  The parents were about the same age as me.   Maybe a little older.  But while they were spending their days in group texts organizing playdates and snacking on Goldfish and juice boxes, I was dealing with a "brooding teen" going through ADD, depression, and anxiety so thick, it could peel the paint off of their perfect, little, innocent walls.   It was almost a complete shock to their system.  The non-bubbly and real behavior of my son shook them to their core.  He was just being himself.  Not so innocent anymore I guess.   "Oh boy", they said, "I hope this isn't what we have to look forward to!".  Um....maybe.  Maybe not.  Who knows?  Good luck though!  I know I'll be sitting pretty and still looking fabulous at the bar with both of my little men ordering our next round of wine by the time you have to deal with this shit.  Shout out to my MILF's and silver foxes out their doing their thing btw!  I digress.

Could you blame him though?  Between all of the disturbing and appalling issues on social media and the news, extreme pressure to be instagram perfect, throw in some bullying, gmo's in our food, mental illness, emotional and physical violence, a failing public school system,  and maybe some meds to deal with the lack of focus and attention...um...ya...we've got ourselves a nice recipe for depression and anxiety folks!  I guess if you sprinkle all of that with a nice dose of divorce, frazzled parenting, and a bunch of moving around you might find yourself with a not so bubbly, brooding teen.  It's no wonder teen suicide is at an all time high.  But we don't wanna talk about that right?   We don't want to talk about the toxic socialization process do we?  The socialization process where we are supposed to teach our kids to be great citizens of our societies.  How are they supposed to navigate their way in this world when all they have to do is open up an app on their phones and get a harsh reality of what is really going on out there?  And they are expected to what?  Be perfect? Put on a smile and ignore the violence.  Ignore the bullying.  Ignore the injustice. Play with a fidget spinner?  Come on!  Let's cut them some slack people!  They may not be in a great mood all of the time.  It's ok.  They are doing the best they can! 

 

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The best that I can do is hope that the foundation that I have built with him sticks while he navigates the labryrinth that is high school.  Keep him talking as best I can.  If only for a few minutes after school or at the dinner table.  Listening to him because these kids are speaking very loud and very clear these days.  We just have to be open and humbled enough to really hear what they are saying.  The Good.  The Bad. The socially uncomfortable ugly conversations.  It's time to wake up people.  

Today I kissed my son and gave him a squeeze for as long as he would allow.  I told him he his is a child of God and he is loved no matter what.  Then I sent him on his way to go and make great choices, have integrity in himself and his work, treat people with kindness, and hold your head high from the bullying and pressures that are waiting at high school.  And he was off...

When he came home, I managed to get a 3 minute conversation about his day with these fruit rollups.  They're simple.  They're organic.  They're all I got at this moment.  I press on.  Good luck out there folks. 

Here's what you'll need:

  • 16oz organic fresh strawberries 
  • 1 pint organic fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups organic frozen mangoes (thawed)
  • 4-5 Tablespoons organic honey
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Make it:

1. Wash and cut the strawberries.  Add them to your food processor or blender.

 

 

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2.  Add one teaspoon of lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons of honey.  I added 2 tablespoons as these strawberries were a little tart.

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3. Set aside.  Rinse out your blender or processor and do the same with the mangoes.

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4. Do the same with the blueberries.

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5. Set aside in separate bowls.

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6.  Pour each fruit puree on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spread with a spatula until about the same thickness and even all over the pan.  About 1/4 inch.  

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7. Bake at 175 F for about 3 hours.  You are essentially dehydrating the fruit.  Remove and allow to cool.  The fruit should be dry but still tacky to the touch.  Cut leather with parchment paper into 2 inch strips.  Roll them up and store in an airtight container on the counter for about 2-3 days.  They only last about a day or two in my house.  Easy way to get some fruit in your day.  Simple ingredients and simple to make.  

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Enjoy and share!

 

xo

Vinessa Antoine

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