Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chocolate Ball Ephiphany??

Given the state of our financial affairs this year it seemed most appropriate to bake goodies & make items ourselves to give as Christmas gifts for our friends and families since gift buying was not an option. I wanted to share a recipe for some chocolate balls Sammy and I made together b/c not only were they yummy BUT it turned out to be a PERFECT cognitive task for a toddler. =) He had fun helping AND he practiced sorting and focusing attention/inhibition a lot so next time you have a get together to attend, why not grab your kids and have them help you whip up a batch of these. MMM MMM GOOD!

I also had a moment of insight while Sammy and I were "cooking" these treats (there really is no cooking involved but shh.. don't tell Sammy that part). Sammy is quite the helper especially when it comes to cleaning and cooking. He absolutely loves to cook and, if I can be completely honest, what I once found endearing is now getting on my nerves. It seems like every time I am in the kitchen he runs in saying "Sammy help mommy, need stool" and he goes to the pantry, gets his little stool, and pops his head up to the counter to see what he can do. Yes this is my fault completely since I have encouraged his help with our household work since before he could even crawl. I take full responsibility and should not be whining at the moment. I always thought it would be so lovely to cook with him and just pure time saving to have him help with chores. Now that he is older and more eager to help though I am realizing it is anything BUT a time saver. In fact, everything takes at least twice as long to do with his "help". For example, I could simply take the clothes out of the washer and place them in the dryer in a little under a minute I am sure but with Sammy's help it takes a good five to seven min to get each article of clothing in the dryer and have him help turn the dial. I know what you're thinking.. not such a big deal right? Well if it was just that incident, no but when you factor in the course of a day ALL the many things he "helps" with and the extra time involved.. it is no wonder I can't keep up with things around here and feel like my days have been cut short! I am rambling about this so you can understand just where I am coming from when I say we had to stop and go wash hands during our making of these chocolate balls a good 4 times I am sure because the child just could not help himself from sticking his tiny pudgy little finger in and taking a lick. I kept reminding myself that the neurocircuitry of his frontal cortex is far from mature at the ripe old age of 25 mos thus resulting in a difficulty with inhibiting what he really wants to do but c'mom.. mamma was on a schedule!

It was in this moment of frustration that God spoke patience into my heart.. or lets get honest, knocked me upside my head with His wisdom. You see long before Sammy I was guilty of this exact feeling with Hannah, I tend to focus too much on the end result of whatever project we are working on and get a teensy bit annoyed when things move in unforeseen directions and we get off track. As I started to loose my patience with Sammy eating the oreos and having to wash his hands AGAIN to keep his germs from finding their way into our treats I realized that most important things kids need to learn and accomplish to build strong character really have very little to do with the project at hand but more so to do with the aspects of character that are built while they are busy. In other words, it is when we are involved in play and projects together that I try to instill patience, mercy, kindness, the focusing of his attention, inhibitory control, etc etc. into his little heart and mind. This was one of those "ah-ha" moments that just clicked with me. Sure I guess I have kinda known this all along but when I thought about it in relation to my own life and God, it was all put in perspective. I am His child just as Sammy is mine and He forgives my mistakes and cleans up my messes and directs my way, because I am still learning. He is building my character through those teachable moments just as I try to do with Sammy. I should be as gentle and patient with Sammy as my Jesus is with me. These very qualities will help to shape Sammy's perception of Jesus in the future. I am very thankful that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to be patient with me and cares enough about my life and my attitude to teach me little lessons I need to know to be a better mommy and to ultimately love Him and my little family better.

Thank you for allowing me to ramble... Now for the recipe!
Chocolate Balls
1 pkg Oreos (double stuff with extra cream if can find)
1 8-oz pkg of Philadelphia cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
1 pkg almond bark (I used chocolate but vanilla is good too) chocolate dipping squares

- Twist oreos and take them apart (good cognitive skill for toddler.. have them sort out the white from the dark into two plates)
-Scrape cream from cookies and put into large bowl (I had him use edge of spoon for his)
- Add cream cheese to cookie cream and stir
- put remainder of cookies into a ziplock bag and seal it up. Crush cookies into small pieces/powder (rolling pin works best) but use freezer bag so bag doesn't tear and get hole)- Great for little ones, they obviously love this part and helps if you ask them to find the big spots that need to be crushed

- Pour the crushed cookies into bowl with cream cheese/cookie cream mixture and mix with hands until well blended (this part is VERY messy)
- Roll into small balls and place on cookie sheet to chill in fridge for about an hour
- Melt almond bark in microwave at 20 second intervals (stir to avoid scorching)
- I just used spoon to dunk them in chocolate almond bark then spoon them back onto cookie sheet b/c took way less time but directions say to place toothpick in cookie ball and dip ball into almond bark. Place on wax paper covered cookie sheet and let stand until hardened. Enjoy!
- Store in fridge
-Makes 3 to 4 dozen

Mommy tip- Give incentive..if your child can help without eating cookies/putting finger in mix to taste then will get to eat BIG (whole) oreo cookies with milk afterwards, it worked for rest of time, wish I would have thought of at first!

Pulled 2 oreos aside for him to dunk in milk as his reward....Mmmm...mmmm....good!