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Being Average

May 31, 2018

Being Average

By Angie Sutton, www.momsapronstrings.com


Parenting is a privilege albeit a daunting one. I recall my mom occasionally referring to “when she was growing up.” It was usually when we were dining on fried chicken and she recalled in great detail the process of having fried chicken on the farm where she grew up. It always started with, “us kids were sent out to chase a chicken down.” She and my father worked hard to provide my sister and I with just a little more than they had when they were growing up. I am darn sure thankful I didn’t have to chase down my dinner.

If I had to guess, their parents did the same for them and also with each generation before that.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t grow up with just about everything I needed. I didn’t have the name brand portable cassette player or the Atari. We had the knock-off less expensive versions. I wasn’t a straight-A student but was a steady achiever of a B+. As an adult I can think back to certain times when I’m sure it was a struggle for my parents to figure out how to drive me all over the country to participate in Junior Olympic track meets. The ones I didn’t win and nearly always got third place at. My parents were there cheering me on no matter the outcome.

Then along came parenting for people my age. We want a little more than we had growing up for our children. We are the ones that created participation ribbons and bumper stickers lauding our children’s achievements. With social media so readily at our disposal we immediately share just about everything. My kids often let me know when I overshare, in their opinion.

I just finished reading a book by Michael Anderson and Dr. Timothy Johanson titled, “GIST: The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids.” The authors raise a number of questions and make great points for readers to consider. While the book in its entirety is deeply thought provoking, my surface level take-away is worth sharing.

From a statistical standpoint, only about two or three percent of kids are gifted or exceptional at any one particular thing. My generation really wants to gravitate toward thinking our child is gifted and talented. What the authors refer to as “the epidemic of exceptionality.” Is our culture one that raising an exception child becomes expected and being normal is defective?

I had a conversation with some colleagues a few days ago. We were talking about our kids and the struggle to get them to clip their toenails and fingernails. The conversation went on and at one point I said, “I’m so glad we are having this chat because I feel so normal now!”

Teaching our children there is joy in being normal is okay. Teaching them resilience is to be celebrated. Resilience keeps their failures from becoming a defeat. It is one of the top life skills that our kids need to learn from our generation. When they do something outstanding, applaud it. When they experience failure, be there alongside them.

Help them learn to understand and appreciate the journey, not any prizes that may or more likely may not be waiting. Teach them how to be a lifelong learner. And show them the value of teamwork and one of the best skills a person can use: listening.


Jeff’s Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Hands down the results of this recipe are one of the best I’ve had. The red bean mixture freezes well and can make a quick meal with a batch of minute-style rice.


1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

3 stocks celery, diced

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 lb. dry red kidney beans

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. hot sauce

1 tsp. fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

7 c. tap water

1 lb. pork Andouille sausage, cut into coins

Prepared rice


1. To the instant pot add all ingredients except sausage and rice. Lock the lid on and set it to manual high pressure for 28 minutes.

2. Use the quick release method. Once depressurized, remove the lid and add the sausage. Lock the lid on and use manual high pressure for 15 minutes.

3. Use the natural release method. Once depressurized, remove the lid and allow the contents to rest for 10 minutes. Serve over prepared white rice.

Apron Strings Notes: Do not soak the beans in advance. Factoring in the time for the instant pot to pressurize two times and the final natural release, this recipe takes about an hour and a half. Rinse the lid with cool water after adding the sausage and before locking it back on to quicken the pressurization process.




Bill Spiegel, Editor

When I was a kid, our neighbor Louise made these cookies. She and her husband, Howard, did not have children. So, when my four sisters and I visited Howard and Louise, she let us dip our hand in the cookie jar. I loved these cookies, enough that Louise once brought a dozen to me when I was a bachelor living on the farm! Louise passed away before she could share this beloved recipe with me.

            Fast forward 20 years, and I found this recipe in a King Arthur Flour recipe book. It has since become a favorite with my own young boys, and a great way for me to continue the legacy of my dear neighbor and friend Louise!


Gumdrop Cookies

Easily swap out gumdrops for orange slices. Other additions to change the flavor include adding a cup of sweetened coconut or 1 cup chopped pecans.


1 c. unsalted butter

1 c. granulated sugar

1 c. light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 c. rolled oats

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. gumdrops, sliced


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper liners or lightly spray with cooking spray.

2. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, salt and vanilla and continue to mix until combined.

3. Stir in the oatmeal.

4. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir in the gumdrops.

5. Slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, stirring to combine.

6. Drop by the spoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet. Top with a few decorative pieces of gumdrop. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Bill’s Notes: Cut the gumdrops with a pair of clean kitchen shears. Be generous with the gumdrops so as to not disappoint by serving a cookie with just one tiny bit of gumdrop. Also, buy an extra bag of gumdrops if it will be awhile before you make them. Sometimes, one bag has a way of disappearing, particularly if you have young children or a spouse with a sweet tooth!

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