Sunday, December 28, 2008

Unplugged - Wrapping Paper

This is my first Unplugged Project since sometime in October. My thoughts and actions of the last few months have been dominated by my sister's battle with cancer, and her subsequent passing on November 19th. I am also participating in a second blog to help family and friends share memories of my sister's incredible life...

But here we are back again, and it was an appropriate theme to welcome us back. My husband and I are reuse nuts, and let's just say that there's no shortage of used wrapping paper in the house...any time of year. With E being just 2, some of the more elaborate ideas I had fell by the wayside and we settled on a wrapping paper "quilt". In one of her alphabet books she is a bit obsessed with "Q is for quilt," so I figured she would be all in.

I used a ruler to cut an 8x8 square of white paper and to trace a grid of 2 inch squares on it. Then I cut out a bunch of 2 inch squares of different types of wrapping paper, and I further cut a few of them into triangles. After some searching, I found the glue sticks (right where they belonged, btw) and we were off.E thought it was a great idea, and followed my directions well. Her biggest challenge was fitting together the triangles, but I was impressed that she kept asking for "triangles, not squares, Mommy." In retrospect, I should have found some solid colors to break up the craziness, but it really is quite pretty. The next morning E found the finished product on the kitchen table and told me that she was going to "fix it." Luckily I intercepted the destruction and managed to hang it high on the fridge for safe keeping.
Then I decided to have some Unplugged Fun of my own, and I made some little presents for E's Playmobil Santa. She seems to love the tiny boxes that came with the set...so I printed out a box template and shrunk it on the copier (using scrap paper). Then I glued some wrapping paper to the back of the template and cut out both layers of paper. A few folds and some glue later, and voila, tiny box.When the kids get older, or when I have some time to try it myself, I will attempt the pretty wrapping paper stars on the Family Fun Magazine site. But for now, we are concentrating on projects that take 15 minutes or less. Thanks for the inspiration, Unplugged Momma!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Never Expected

Christmas is full of surprises. M and I were agonizing about when to open presents, because the morning church service was at 9am. That meant that we wouldn't really have time to tear through the loot before heading out the door, so the plan was to make E wait until after church. Uh, I did not hold out much hope for that one.

The first thing she said when she woke up was, "Are there presents under the tree?" I told her that we would have to go look. Out she went to the living room in her footie pajamas, where she found a pile of stuff from Santa. She actually jumped up and down...just like the commercials. She also found an empty cup ("Santa drank all the milk!") and a half eaten cookie ("He took a little nibble!") She started grabbing presents, but I told her that we would have to wait...we softened the blow by showing her that there were gifts in her stocking that we could open immediately.

M and I got our coffee in hand and went over to the couch to watch E paw through the little things in her stocking. Her favorites were the lip gloss and a pink fuzzy pen...ever the girlie. Baby m did say "Oooh" a few times as he looked through his stocking stuffers, but he really just wanted to hold E's fuzzy pen.

We got out the door for church without incident, and the service was very nice. We decided not to shake hands during the peace, after E rocked the church with a really gnarly cough. As it was, I'm sure those pews are still covered in toddler germs. Sorry, parishioners. Silent Night and Joy to the World were played beautifully by the organist, and we drove home in some very Christmassy weather.

I was really proud of the patience E showed in waiting for her gifts...but there may be another explanation. Later in the day she looked a little lethargic, and her temp turned out to be over 101. So maybe what looked like patience was actually the inability to put up any kind of fight!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Smarty McSmart

My girlie has her own language. You may remember that she mistook my words, "grumpy mood" for "grumpy nude." Ever since, she has been using that as a phrase to describe anybody who's not happy. But today, I heard her use the apparent opposite. She said, "Mommy? I am a happy nude to see my Daddy!" I guess you have to give her credit for using it in the right context.

Later, at lunch, she asked me to put some icebergs in her lemonade.

But my favorite (and the latest) strange word of hers is "pangy." This is pronounced pain-gee, with a hard g sound. She uses it to mean just about anything. Like if you ask, "What do you want for breakfast?" She'll say, "Pangy." "What is that you're drawing?" "Pangy pangy." I even heard her singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" using only the word "pangy." What does it mean? I have no idea. But she thinks it's hysterical...and I'm sure it's a sign of brilliance.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Like Mother...

So my mother loves to tell people that I had imaginary friends when I was a little kid. I hear it's a sign of intelligence to talk to little invisible beings...mine were named Chatti and LaLa. Mom's favorite story about them is when I left them in a store and made her go back and get them. Apparently I was quite emotional, and persuasive enough to get her to turn around and save my poor little friends from being abandoned in the women's section of Rudolph's. I'm guessing that the sales people thought my Mom was a bit unbalanced, holding my hand on one side and and Chatti's on the other as we walked back out the door.

Who would have thought that 30 years later, my little girl would follow in my tiny footsteps? This weekend I sat on the couch and E screamed. "Oh, Mommy! You sat on my babies!" Huh? I moved over to the next cushion and looked at the spot where I had just been sitting...nothing there. "Mommy, you smushed them." I had to apologize, but when I tried to feed them an imaginary bottle, I was shut down. "No, Mommy. Don't do that. They're sad."

I know that I need to encourage this play, and I hate being the enemy...so I asked in a friendly voice, "What are their names?" She thought for a minute, and came up with "Callie, Shallie, and Kashi." So when she went to bed, we tucked the three babies under E's blankets so they would be warm. I don't mind interacting with babies I can't see in the privacy of our own house, but I wonder what I'll do if E ever leaves them in a department store. When push comes to shove, will I risk being judged insane for the sake of my toddler's feelings? I'm betting we'll find out soon enough. That Shallie is a little stinker, just like Chatti.

Friday, December 12, 2008

6 More Years

Warning - This is not a happy post.

I have struggled with writing here lately, because I didn't want to write about the sad events that had been dominating my thoughts. But today I feel the need to throw some emotion out to the world, so here goes.

Today at lunch, I read an article about a man (a young father) who had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. The article took a very positive spin, pointing out that this guy was strong, "healthy", and had a great attitude. But as I read on, I found myself analyzing the state of the man's acceptance of his disease...one of the comments he made was, "I think I can control this outcome." I understand fighting...I understand positive thinking. But at the risk of sounding cruel, I wanted to say, "You have very little control here. Your life has changed...you need to get used to that fact."

In the face of a very serious diagnosis, there are so many different ways of getting yourself out of bed in the morning. I would never want to take away some one's coping mechanism, but is it really valuable to say and/or believe things that fly in the face of medical reason? Did my sister succumb to cancer because she didn't try hard enough to beat it? His wife says, "I don't necessarily find some of those stories about living six years very comforting right now." Well, we went through that too. When P was diagnosed, I looked up the odds of survival. Five percent probability of five more years. Even the best case scenario sounded awful. Right now, eight months later, we would give anything for just one or two more years...even one more Christmas would be nice.

So, I will try to live each day with the knowledge that there are no guarantees. My daily decisions are only a part of my life journey...most of the facets of this universe are out of my control. I couldn't save my sister, but I am still here. I'm going to wrap my Christmas presents, eat lots of holiday treats, and kiss my husband at midnight on New Year's Eve, thankful that I've been given the time on earth to do it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Walky Walker

Yes, we now have two, count 'em, two toddlers in the house. Mr. Walky Walker is now officially on the move, on two feet, off and running. Last week we SAID he was walking, but really he was holding on to one piece of furniture and then thrusting himself towards the nearest warm body...while moving his legs somewhat. Now, oh, now...

This little guy can not only walk while drinking his bottle, he can pull himself up without holding on to anything! I even saw him bend down to pick up his chuchi and stand back up! He is so darned proud of himself, too. He gets this s**t-eating grin from ear to ear every time you look at him, and he will even wave lambie-kins at you like a little flag.

We have video of E walking at 11 months, but everybody said "Girls walk sooner", "You never know with your second," stuff like that. Yet here he is, almost the exact time-table of his sister. If his verbal skills develop anything like hers, he'll be talking in sentences any day! Of course, those sentences will be along the lines of, "I wish my sister would stop hitting me with a toy golf club."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just to Prove Me Right...

....E ate the following for Thanksgiving dinner:

One bite of her cousin C's turkey leg.
One bite of asparagus...though she mostly just sucked on it.
One apple.

Then for dessert, she insisted on putting everything on her plate, but ate nothing. Oh, well. I didn't make it a battle until she asked for a cookie shaped like a shell, after she didn't eat the first one that was shaped like a horseshoe. I said no, no more dessert, because she still had shards of each offering uneaten on her plate. She threw a tantrum and I sent her out of the room. I found her ten minutes later on the couch, wrapped in her banklets. I asked her if everything was okay, and she said, "You don't make me feel much good when you say no."

That pretty much sums up the life of a toddler, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Official...

...the boy will eat anything. Today, Baby m had spinach tomato quiche for breakfast, and fried calamari for dinner. Yesterday he had grilled swordfish. So far he has not refused one single thing I've put on his plate.

Compare that to his big sis, E, who finally had her first full meal of the week tonight, and it consisted of one giant piece of pizza. The entire time that she was eating, she had a huge grin, and she was absolutely glowing. She was even singing a little pizza song. The only downside of her dinner was when a piece of calamari ended up on her plate. I told her she didn't have to eat it, but she could not throw it on the floor. She screamed a little bit, but did finally accept it being in her vicinity. Just think what she would have done if I had told her it was squid!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Sister

Yesterday I lost my big sister, after a brave, but too short fight with cancer. Not much I can say now, but I will be forever grateful that I got to spend her last moments in her beautiful presence. This is a little "family statement" that we're working on for the paper...I think it sums it up for me, for now at least.

"Pam had a kind and generous soul. When she entered a room, you could feel a spirit of beauty and an absolute love of life. Throughout her life, she gave her heart and soul to the people and animals around her. Her mission was to take care of her family and friends, and it seemed like that circle grew a little bit every day. Her co-workers, the friends of her children, people on line at the grocery store…she treated everyone she met with respect and compassion. Pam will be missed by those she left behind, and our hearts ache for those who never had the honor of knowing her. "

I love you, Pammie.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Getting Harder

Play dough used to be easy...the old standby. I could just sit and make snakes for a half hour. I would hand each one to E and she would look at it lovingly and then "smush" it. Once in a while she would ask for something different, like a person or a cookie. Now, play dough time is a challenge.

Tonight after Baby m went to bed, E and I went down to the playroom for some Mommy-Daughter time. We sat at the little table and created food for the "restaurant"...she ordered candy corn, a lollipop, and pizza. Then I made her a pretty good looking egg, solid white and perfectly ovoid. She asked, "What's inside, Mommy?" "Just more play dough, honey." Good answer, right? Wrong. "Ohhhh," she said, with a cutesy face. "A teeny little play dough chicky?" Uh. So Good Mommy hollowed out the egg, made a little chicky and stuck it inside. And guess what! She didn't smush it...she gave it a kiss and put it away in the container. Who ever said this parenting thing was hard?

Hidey Holes

E has developed this strange habit of hiding behind the furniture. Generally we just let her hang out in any number of places, unless there are cords or breakable nick-nacks within arm's reach. Her most consistant hide-out is behind the easel in her room, and I would often find crayons or stickers stashed back there...presumably she was trying to keep these away from her brother. She also likes the little cubby created by the ottoman, couch, and shelving unit, though we do have to be sure she doesn't get hurt climbing in and out. She seems to enjoy lounging in there with her "banklets" and pretend candy, quietly singing to herself.

The latest hidey hole is perhaps the strangest. She has taken to sitting behind/under the fake tree in the living room. There is barely enough room back there for her to sit, but I just walked by and see that she has pilfered the fall decorations yet again...her little space is decorated with the corn husk doll, some dried up chestnuts, and an ear of Indian corn. I guess I understand her need for a little privacy, but I wonder if she's hoarding, or just decorating!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarcasm and my Toddler

Yes, I'm a proud parent. Not only does my Baby m ALMOST say "mama", but E has such sophisticated conversations that I sometimes forget I'm talking to a toddler. I have to be very careful about using sarcasm with her, because she takes everything at face value...yes, I know, she's two and a half, but I really do forget. Here's a conversation from last night's dinner table...

E: Mommy? What are you going to be for Halloween?
Me: I'm going dressed as a mommy.
E: (pause) What?
Me: I'm going to dress up as your mommy. That's what I'm going to be for Halloween.
E: But where's your costume?
Me: This is it (pointing to my tee-shirt and jeans). Do you like it?
E: (long pause) Yes.

Now that I think about it, perhaps she was being sarcastic right back at me!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Unplugged Project - Wax

There is one good thing about keeping EVERYTHING. When it's time for Unplugged with Wax, you're bound to have a crayon maker, a bag full of broken crayons, an entire box of candle making supplies in the basement. So project number one was reclaimed crayons. We spent just a few minutes peeling and breaking the crayon fragments, thirty seconds putting the crayons into the little metal tray, and twenty minutes watching Dora while the wax melted. So much for "unplugged." And the "swirly" effect that was promised by the picture on the box did not appear. Here's a bit of advice...use dark colors sparingly. A few little shards of blue turned the whole crayon blue. The results were underwhelming.
Then I broke out the old crock pot. Perfect for melting down those old candles. I had a fantasy about sharing candle dipping with E, but when I saw the vat of molten wax I panicked. I could think of at least 5 different ways the project could have ended in disaster...so instead, I poured the lava into a Christmas candle mold and called it good. The project took on a life of its own when E saw me removing the mold from the fridge..."Can we light that birthday candle, Mommy?" Well, fire is also dangerous, but I could probably keep it at arm's length. So we sat at the kitchen table in the dark, staring at the flame. E posed for pictures, and then wanted to see them on the camera. It was very sweet, and a really lovely unplugged moment.
Then, serendipity. On Saturday we went out to the Apple Butter Festival, and what did they offer for 5o cents a pop? A vat of molten wax and a wick...so with mommy guiding and daddy taking pictures, E dipped her first candle. Thankfully there were no tantrums and no mis-steps. The only minor crisis was when E tried dipping her yellow candle into the red wax. Her little candle is bloppy and riddled with red splotches...in other words, it's perfect.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

R U Texting?

Then stop. Tomorrow, I will be writing a little essay for my students as to why they are not allowed to text in class. Today there were at least 3 individuals who were texting during lecture. I will write them a nice, diplomatic explanation of my rules, but here is what I really want to say to them...

Hey, Texter. Yeah, you...I KNOW that you're texting! Do you think I can't tell what you're doing with your hands in your sweatshirt pockets? Really...you're not fooling anybody. Your pockets stop jiggling as soon as I look your way. I have held off asking you questions while you text, because I hesitate to use embarrassment as a form of punishment. But I'm THIS close to kicking you out of lecture altogether. There are 20 other students who turned off their electronics or left them at home so that they can engage in a meaningful learning experience...I know, not every minute is riveting, but that's life...and yours won't end if you are disconnected from your friends for a few hours once a week.

Now, I know that it can be hard to get through a long class on a nice fall afternoon, but gimme a break. YOU PAID TO BE HERE. You showed up. Why are you wasting your time in this class, when you would obviously rather be somewhere else? Just GO. LEAVE. It is impossible to both text AND pay attention...so just get out of my classroom and typity-type somewhere else. Or, here's an idea...go BE in the world. Talk. Experience. Live. Oh, and next week? Stay home.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Here's the Mail, it Never Fails

We got a package today from Cousin S. It was addressed to E and me, so I waited for a quiet moment to present it for opening. I showed E the return address (De-be-vwaaaaa) and she immediately knew who had sent it! "What's in there, mommy?" We opened it carefully, too slowly for E, of course. The first little present was a duck for E's little nest (made during an Unplugged Project). She placed the ducky in its new home very carefully and gave me the little cutesy face, head tilted to the side, lips closed, and eyes sort of sad. I LOVE that face.

The next prize-o was a set of animal hair pretties. E handed me the elephant and said, "Mommy, can you put it in my hair?" So I did. Then the rabbit, the hippo, the giraffe, the cat, and the teddy bear. Yes, all of them. Girl loves her hair pretties. She let me open the last little gift as she admired her hair in the mirror...and it was a winner. Yes, I love small food...and the last gift was a magnet that looked like a chicken leg in a plate of green rice. Yes, green rice. With peas. And carrots. It's perfect. :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Unplugged Project - Smooth

For the last theme, "White", one of my Unplugged pals made homemade vanilla ice cream. Mmmm. I thought to myself, "One of these days I'll get the ice cream maker out of the basement, and E and I will make some ice cream." Imagine my delight when I read the theme for this week..."Smooth." Yay! What's smoother than creamy, homemade chocolate ice cream?

Finding a recipe was a bit of a challenge...I had some criteria to meet. First of all, no raw eggs in the recipe. Just, yuck. It doesn't matter if they're frozen, crystallized, whatever. I can't stomach that. Also, no pre-cooking of the ingredients. I wanted the process to be toddler friendly from beginning to end. So after a bunch of web searching, I found a recipe for basic vanilla ice cream (no eggs) flavored with chocolate syrup. E enjoyed the pouring and mixing, but her favorite part was licking the chocolate out of the measuring cup.

I must admit...all these years I thought it was the mixing that made the ice cream freeze. So on the first batch we poured the ingredients into the frozen canister and mixed and mixed and mixed. Much to my dismay, the very smooth concoction never made it past the milkshake stage. So we drank some out of our bowls, and put the rest in the freezer to solidify. Upon reading the directions (duh) I found out that you only need to turn the handle a few times, then you wait a few minutes for some of the mixture to freeze to the sides of the container. Only then do you turn the handle again...so of course we had to try the new method the next morning, this time with strawberry! And guess what...it worked! Perfect strawberry ice cream, delish.

The verdict? I thought the strawberry was great, and the chocolate was so-so. It looks good in the pic, but it tasted like vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce mixed in...go figure. E, M, and Baby m liked them both equally as well, and we will be doing this again soon. It's amazingly easy, really, if you can get over the price of fresh cream!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Have Big Feet Too

Listen, I know how hard it is to find shoes that fit...I am a size 11 narrow. So I understand that if a giant primate with huge feet really does exist out there in the forests of the northern United States, he's probably pretty pissed off. That's why I'm locking my doors at night...I'm afraid of Sasquatch.

In my brain, I do not believe in Bigfoot. But gosh darn it, the books and sightings reports are downright CREEPY. I started reading about it because a student asked if Bigfoot could be considered a "new" (undiscovered) species. I went to a friend of M's for information, because I wanted to follow up with accurate information. D is a Bigfoot enthusiast, and he had lots of resources on hand to share with me. The other night I started reading a compilation of stories that had my heart pounding and my mind racing. At one point I heard the dishwasher start (it's on a timer) and I about jumped out of my skin.

I should probably share that I had an encounter myself as a kid...my friend's big brother faked some big footprints (I think...he never admitted it) deep in the woods where we used to play. My friend and I spent the better part of an afternoon trying to track the prints, sure that we would be famous for discovering Bigfoot in suburban New York. The thing is, if I really think about it, I can feel the adrenaline I felt that day...and if I'm not careful, I'll be petrified to turn the lights out at night. You see, suburban Michigan is not that different from suburban New York.

Random Feet

At some point in the past year, I started letting E carry the GPS unit when we geocached. She just loves having it around her neck, and looking at the computer display. It makes it hard to find the treasure, because I'm constantly looking over her shoulder and guiding her in the right direction...but it's fun to watch her exploring. The funniest thing is if you ask her how far to the treasure she always says the same thing..."A hundred and sixty feet." I have no idea where she got that particular number. I do call out the distances as we approach the geocache, but it's not like a hundred and sixty is anything special! Oh, and when you step on the scale, she will announce that you weigh, you guessed it, "A hundred and sixty pounds."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bad Medicine

I admit it...I give my children cold medicine. Even after it had been pulled off the shelves, I had some stashed away for emergencies. I believe that the children's decongestants DO work, and I never worried that I would give them too much...I'm careful with reading the labels and spacing out their dosages. But I had a little moment of panic the other night after giving E a teaspoon of "Little Colds"...

She was sitting on the couch watching Blue's Clues, and from the kitchen I heard her say, "I can't see." I shut off the sink and said, "What, honey?" "I can't see, Mommy." I tried to stay calm as I walked into the living room and looked her over. I turned her face towards mine and I stared in her eyes thinking, Ohmigod. Did I ignore some news bulletin about cold medicine causing toddlers to go blind? "E, are you okay? Can you see now?" "No, Mommy, look!" she replied, pointing at the blank TV screen. The satellite was out....

Phew...that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Unplugged Project - White

We decided to focus on white pine, Michigan's state tree, for our Unplugged Project this week. We have a nice white pine in our yard, so I collected some needles and brought them inside for us to work with. Guided by an artsy website, E and I put some needles into envelopes for crayon rubbings...I have to say that for a toddler, the envelope was a great idea! You could do this with fall leaves, too, and you don't have to worry about everything slipping all over the table. Also, you can shake the contents around and do rubbings of different colors. Of course, E wanted to put ALL of the needles I collected into her envelope, so her rubbing was a little messy!We also made a bird's nest by pouring some Elmer's glue onto a pile of needles, then pressing them between two small bowls. I used wax paper to keep the "nest" from sticking to the bowls. Once it dried, it really did look like a nest...now we just have to find some little fake bird to live in it. I knew E would like this one because she is obsessed with a tiny nest that G'ma has in her living room. But ask E what she remembers about the white pine theme, and I'm sure she'll say "Chocolate!" I melted some green candy and poured chow mein noodles into the bowl, then we tried some different ways of making pine trees. E just wanted to eat the tree trunks, but we did manage to form some trees! Both the flat free-form and Dixie cup varieties came out looking very tree-like, and they definitely passed the taste test!
To cap off the week, we took a side trip up north to Hartwick Pines State Park, one of the few areas of virgin white pine left in the state. It was a cold and damp day, but cousins and friends of the family all joined us for a walk through the visitor's center and a hike through the old forest. E was in her glory, running back and forth on the trail, laughing and chasing the older kids.

I don't know if E can recall the theme, but I'd have to say that the projects we did were fun and successful! Just look at that smile! (You can see Daddy's foot in the picture too...he was just out of reach, making sure that we didn't need any Unplugged First Aid!)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baby Got Lip

Here are some snippets of life in the last few days:

E: I don't like dat corn lady.
Me: But I made her for you! (It's my first try at a corn husk doll, admittedly, not beautiful.)
E: But I don't like her.
Me: Why?
E: Because she's naughty, and chuchily, and orgily. (Wow. Harsh critic.)

E: Mommy, can you get me some milk?
Me: Honey, I'm trying to get dinner ready, and I don't have enough hands right now.
E: Daddy, do you have enough hands to get me some milk?

E: Mommy, when are we going to start our project?
Me: As soon as I'm ready.
E: But I'm ready.
Me: But I'm not ready.
E: But I'm ready.
Me: Honey, I'm not ready.
E: But I'm ready. (I believe we would still be going back and forth if I hadn't just decided to stop answering her.)

Me: E, you need to go brush your teeth.
E: Mommy, dat hurts my feelings.
Me: Well, you still need to brush your teeth.
E: You need to be nice to me. You should say you're sorry.
Me: But I'm not sorry.
E: Dat REALLY makes me sad.

I'm asking you, how do you argue with such a child? Most of the time, I leave the conversation quite sure that she has won and I have lost...and there's only one cure for that. "E, go to your room." At least then I can falsely believe that I have some power left.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

100 Things About Me

Yippee! It's hard to believe, but is my 100th post. In the tradition of the blogosphere, here is a giant list about me. I have to be honest...after I got on a roll, I think it would have been pretty easy to continue on to about 2000. That reminds me of something I forgot to put on the list...I like to be the center of attention. :)

  1. I like very tiny things…especially tiny food.

  2. My favorite tiny thing is a set of carved ivory animals called “Noah’s Ark in a Seed.”

  3. Whenever I vote, I get teary eyed.

  4. I don’t mind peeing in the woods.

  5. Once when I was peeing in the woods I didn’t know how close I was to the road and a truck went by. I couldn’t stop, so I waved.

  6. I had to have about 6 baby teeth and 3 adult teeth pulled when I was in elementary school.

  7. I’m afraid of the dentist.

  8. My dreams are vivid and in color.

  9. Sometimes I can change my dreams and do whatever I want. Once I flew into the clouds and ate asparagus…I could actually taste it.

  10. When I was very young I had a recurring dream about a cartoon boy chasing me around the house. Eventually he would explode and I would see the word “Pow!”

  11. I have run 4 marathons. They were so slow and so long ago that I think I’ve lost bragging rights.

  12. I panic in deep water. I imagine that something is going to grab me from below.

  13. I used to have 4 piercings in one of my ears. Now I wear no earrings at all.

  14. I hate watching TV shows or commercials with hidden cameras. I feel sorry for the people who are embarrassed.

  15. I don’t understand calculus.

  16. I love the song, “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow.

  17. Someday I would like to sit at the piano and play a song while someone else sings along with me.

  18. I get angry when people try to get on the elevator before they give me the chance to get off.

  19. I almost got fired from my internship at Seney Wildlife Refuge because a visitor brought my boss’s dog to the pound…it was running loose in the marsh chasing geese and it was so muddy I didn’t recognize it.

  20. I’ve hunted grouse, woodcock and rabbit, but I’ll probably never do it again.

  21. I was a vegetarian for about two years.

  22. I like to scoop up handfuls of coins and pour them out.

  23. I like to sort coins into little towers.

  24. My dad used to bring me grading books home from his job and I would play school.

  25. There was always a kid in my pretend class called “Missy” and she would always fail.

  26. A real girl named Missy lived down the road and she had a pet squirrel in the cage. If you tried to pet it, it would bite you.

  27. Growing up we had a guinea pig named John Boy. When we found out it was a girl, we renamed it John Girl.

  28. I love genealogy. I think if I could make a living at it, I would quit my job and research family trees for other people.

  29. Sometimes genealogy makes me sad because I think about all of the information I will never know.

  30. In Kenya, I laid awake for an entire night because a lion was roaring very close to our lodge. I was both petrified and in awe.

  31. I’m rarely late for anything.

  32. When I was about 8, I wiped out on a neighbor’s skateboard while trying to prove to my parents that I was responsible enough to own one.

  33. I take a shower every morning. I am not happy if I don’t shower.

  34. When I got married, I took my maiden name as a second middle name. That makes it hard to fill out forms, but it’s legal.

  35. I was born in Peekskill, New York.

  36. When I was young I liked to tell people that “The Facts of Life” was set in Peekskill…then I would tell them that in actuality the girls’ school didn’t exist.

  37. In 8th grade, I got a 100% on the algebra Regents Exam.

  38. When I wear turtlenecks, I feel like I’m choking.

  39. Once when I was teaching, the door to the classroom got stuck and we couldn’t get out. I had to calmly call the office and ask them to come let us out. Inside, I was panicked.

  40. I think I’m a little claustrophobic.

  41. With M, I managed to squeeze through a 14 inch space between two rocks as part of a guided hike. I consider this a huge accomplishment.

  42. I love reality shows…even the REALLY bad ones.

  43. I watch more television than I’d like to admit.

  44. I hate being tickled, even by my daughter.

  45. I was in many musicals in middle school and high school.

  46. I wanted to win “Most Dramatic” my senior year, but I didn’t.

  47. In high school, I attended an Episcopal Youth Event in San Antonio, Texas.

  48. Once I got to college, I stopped going to church.

  49. My least favorite foods are broccoli and mushrooms.

  50. When I was in high school, I went to a computer programming competition where I was the only girl. If I had known that beforehand, I wouldn’t have worn a dress.

  51. I do things in sets of 5 or 15.

  52. While walking, I either count, spell, or sing (in my head) along with each step I take. Always.

  53. When I’m trying to learn something, I try to place it in a “slot” in my brain.

  54. Until I took a learning style test in college, I thought everyone had slots.

  55. Driving to Michigan to start graduate school, I witnessed a rollover accident on the highway. I stopped my car and as I approached the scene, I was sure I would find fatalities. All four people in the minivan were fine and were able to walk away.

  56. I always wear my seat belt.

  57. After I graduated from MSU, I would wake up in a cold sweat every day, thinking that I had forgotten to study for my exams. That lasted for about 6 months.

  58. I’m not a team player.

  59. I’m not a good boss.

  60. I am, however, a pretty good teacher.

  61. I grew up believing in my heart that I could be anything I wanted to be.

  62. We had a dog named Puppy Wiggles…we called her that because the family couldn’t agree on a name. I wanted to call her Cinnamon.

  63. I clearly remember the day my parents had to put my first dog, Ginger, to sleep.

  64. Once I carved an “M” on a table in our playroom and blamed it on my sister.

  65. I let my daughter eat too much junk food.

  66. My wedding day was the happiest day of my life.

  67. There was a “hole” in the hedges between our neighbors’ house and ours. As a kid, I would stand at that spot and yell “Can I come over?” because my mom said I couldn’t go over unless I was invited.

  68. My first job was at Waldbaum’s as a supermarket clerk.

  69. At that job, a lady yelled at me for ringing up her rolls as $6 each instead of 6 for a dollar.

  70. I have worked at two different pet shops.

  71. I was promoted to assistant manager of a pet shop at age 18 because the manager didn’t want to stay at work late enough to lock up.

  72. I have worked at two different veterinarian’s offices.

  73. One time, a man asked me to come to his car because his dog was very sick and he needed help to carry it. When I got to the car, the dog was dead. I decided shortly after that that I could never be a vet.

  74. I cry when I hear “Amazing Grace”, “Ode to Joy”, and most Easter and Christmas Hymns.

  75. I cry at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Fifty First Dates”, and “Love Actually.”

  76. I consider myself a morning person.

  77. For an entire year, I lived almost exclusively on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Ramen Noodles.

  78. Sometimes I buy things for my daughter not because I think she will like them, but because I think I will like them.

  79. I hate having my picture taken.

  80. There are some people who really, really don’t like me…for good reason. That drives me crazy.

  81. When I was little there was a tame crow in my neighborhood named Amos. I liked to feed him from my hand.

  82. Computer glitches make me very, very stressed.

  83. Sometimes I fantasize about having a job at a coffee shop.

  84. I was in the Girl Scouts for 5 years.

  85. I got in trouble on a Girl Scout field trip when I flushed a bowl of cereal down the toilet.

  86. I’m not that responsible.

  87. But I love making lists…especially checklists.

  88. If there’s ice cream in the house, I will eat it.

  89. If there’s an open can of frosting in the house, I will eat it.

  90. I am the youngest child in my family by 11 years.

  91. I don’t wear a watch but I always need to know what time it is.

  92. I love to entertain. I want the kind of house where people just “stop over” and stay awhile.

  93. I don’t know how to put on make-up.

  94. I sometimes worry about who will teach my daughter the “girlie” things.

  95. In college I dropped my second major (computer programming) when it became “too hard.”

  96. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had dropped Zoology and kept Computer Programming.

  97. About 10 years ago, I earned a yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do.

  98. “I love the whole world, it’s such a brilliant place…boom-de-yada, boom-de-yada, boom-de-yada, boom-de-yada.”

  99. I think my family is a little crazy…I think they think I’m a little crazy.

  100. I consider myself a very lucky person.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Questionable Parenting

Days like today, I look back at my decisions and wonder how I ever got my license to parent. When I picked up E, she wanted to stay for a few minutes so that she could visit the Pre-K room. No problem. We walked down the hall and entered chaos...in retrospect, I should have known that she would be overwhelmed with the energy of a dozen four-year-olds. She really wanted to play with the harvest corn on the sensory table, but the 2-foot tall queen of the classroom stated, "No. Only two friends at a time." She then grabbed the corn out of E's hand, and threw a few kernels in her general direction. In my defense of my child, I took E aside and said (loud enough for the queen to hear), "That's okay, honey! We'll go to a farm on the way home and get you some corn all for yourself." I thought I saw the queen wince a little as we left the room.

Yes, on the way home we did stop by a farm (it's practically on the way) and I bought a few ears with purple and orange kernels. At home, I put a cookie sheet on the kitchen table and E had a great time picking off one kernel at a time. So the question is, is she young enough that it's okay just to protect her and heal hurt feelings with corn? Or did this call for some sort of pep talk, encouraging words, empowerment, yada yada yada? Why did I feel proud that I had bullied the bully? Is this success, being snarkier than a four year old? Sadly, that's the most successful I've felt in a week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Unplugged - Fruit

This week's Unplugged Project theme was fruit. Thankfully I have never had a problem coaxing E to eat plenty of apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, you name it. So we raided the fridge for a "Fruit Face" snack.

I set out a plate of sliced fruit, raisins, peanut butter, and baby marshmallows and called E into the dining room for some unplugged fun. I had a design in mind, having read an online suggestion to use apples and marshmallows as a mouth. With Baby m safely out of reach in his high chair, I gave E a bare plate and we got started.
I used my plate as a model. First I took an apple slice and spread some peanut butter on it. I showed E how, but she wanted me to do hers for her. Then I placed the other apple on top, making a pair of lips. E followed my lead, and then we placed some marshmallow teeth in between. Then we used the bananas and raisins for eyes. All by herself, E came up with the idea to glue the eyes and nose to the plate using the peanut butter. The results on E's plate were pretty, um, hmm...what's the word...strange? But she was VERY proud.


She ate the apples, peanut butter and raisins, and Baby m ate the bananas. As expected, I had all of the marshmallows to myself. Then we went outside and played a game of "Guess the Fruit" with sidewalk chalk. She guessed all of the fruit correctly except for the grapes, which she called "Purple bubbles!" When it got to be her turn, she would only draw asparagus...little pink and purple lines. I decided not to distinguish between vegetables and fruit (or to say that I've never seen pink asparagus), since we were just having so much fun.

I'm glad that E is of the age where she can and wants to play in the kitchen. She wants to stir, mix, measure, and pour...so we're going to have to come up with a lot of ideas to get Unplugged in the Kitchen!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Existential Baby

This is an actual conversation, as close as I can remember it, between myself and E over dinner last night...

Me: We are going to K's house to have cake because it is her birthday.
E: It's my birthday today, too.
Me: No, it's K's birthday.
E: My birthday is March 14th.
Me: That's right.
E: But why isn't my birthday today?
Me: Because today isn't March 14th. Today is September 23rd.
E: Why?
Me: E, these questions are so hard for Mommy. Maybe you should ask God why today is September 23rd.
E: Where is he?
Me: (Gasp) Well, that's hard to say. Some people say he's everywhere. Some people look up in the sky when they talk to him, because that's where heaven seems to be.
E: Is he in the sky in church?
Me: Yes, God is in church, too. People go to church to feel closer to God...Father John says words that make people feel close to God.
E: Where is Father John?
Me: I think he is at home eating his dinner.
E: (Leaving the kitchen table with her piece of pizza) Can you go look for God in this house?
Me: (Silence)
E: (From the other room) Mommy? Where is he?
Me: I'm not sure honey. I guess he's everywhere. He's in your heart, and he's in the hugs and kisses we give each other.
E: (Returning to the table) Where is his kingdom come?
Me: Well, his kingdom is heaven, and his kingdom come is a wonderful day when we can all be together with God in Heaven.
E: Oh.
Me: (Phew)

Remember, she's not yet three, not yet potty trained, and still drinks from a sippy cup. I am in BIG TROUBLE.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Toast

Here's to Mr. O...I'm having a beer for you tonight. Thank you for the friendship that you gave to my father. You were a great friend to him, a great father, a great man. You will be missed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Unplugged - Hard

When I read this week's theme, I couldn't get past the meaning for "difficult." I kept coming up with ideas of doing something that was "difficult" for E...but I wasn't happy with any of them. So when all else fails, look to Google. Believe it or not, the very first search result was "hard-boiled eggs." Yippee! E had been asking me for months to color Easter eggs...ever since a well-meaning lady gave her a free egg decorating kit at a garage sale. Note for your next garage sale: The best way to get rid of the junk in your "FREE" box is to hand it to a 2 year old when her mother isn't watching.

I decided that we could color Halloween eggs. The night before our project I boiled 10 eggs, and selected the orange, yellow, green, and purple tablets out of the packet...we saved the other colors for the real deal next spring. Then while E was napping I set up the table with the vinegar, crayons, cups, and all and waited for her to discover it.
She was so excited to finally use her egg kit, that she actually shrieked with glee. We colored the eggs with crayons...I made a jack-o-lantern and a ghost and E made some nice scribbles. She measured the vinegar and dropped one tablet into each cup. The sizzle made her very happy...but her very favorite part was using the little dippy-doodle thingy to drop the eggs into the cup. She held onto it with a white knuckled grip and made sure each egg went in and out without harm.

Her coloring was not so careful, though, and she managed to break one egg with the crayon. That's when we discovered that the hard-boiled eggs were not HARD boiled. In fact, they were barely soft-boiled! What the heck? I've made eggs like this FOR EVER...bring them to a boil, take them off the heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. I even set the timer. I have no idea what happened, but I tried not to let on that I was pretty disappointed that our "hard" project was, well, not. When the eggs dried I gave E some gourds and a little pumpkin to arrange with the eggs in a bowl for a centerpiece. In true E fashion, she discarded all the pretty gourds and went with just one pumpkin and a pile of eggs. That's my girl.
In the end, I found out that I could scoop the runny egg innards into a bowl and microwave them to a passable scramble...but I'm the only one who's eating them, because I don't want my Unplugged Project to poison the family.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Not Baby Talk

E has a great vocabulary...it's pure pleasure to listen to her speak. Here are some of her winning words from this week, age 2 and a half.

Yesterday in the front yard, she saw a sunflower that had been bitten off at the stem. She asked me, "Who did that?" I asked her, "Who do you think?" She responded, "Maybe a reindeer. Or a bird, or an airplane."

This morning we told E that we were taking Baby m to the doctor for a check-up. She asked, "Mommy, does he have a beaver?" I thought she was talking about a little beaver toy that Baby m had been playing with. So I said, "It's in the kitchen." She looked confused and a minute later she said, "No, Mommy. A beaver on his head." That's when I realized she was asking if Baby m had a FEVER.

In the middle of playing with puzzles this afternoon, she paused and said, "Mommy, I'm a pot whacker."

Later, she found a big inflated Scooby Doo at a garage sale down the street. She picked it up and said, "This dog is enormous!"

Just an hour ago, when reading a favorite library book called Turnagain Ptarmigan, I asked her, "What's another name for the Northern Lights?" (We've been working on this one.) She answered, "Rory bory lalis." Close enough!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Living on the Edge

When I was in graduate school studying grouse, I lived in a cabin in the woods of northern Michigan for 8 months out of the year. It was shared housing, and you just never knew who would be bunking with you from night to night. We had foresters, hunters, deer researchers, and a few people who may or may not have just wandered in from the nearest two track. Mostly we all got along, and when we didn't, somebody would just camp out in the backyard until the other person left. It was a good deal either way...the backyard was the bank of the Pigeon River.

At one point during my second or third year, a woodsy kind of guy was calling the cabin home for a few weeks while he worked in the area. He was a nice enough fellow, but maybe just a little bit socially challenged. Returning from a hard day of trap setting, my crew and I entered the cabin to find the visitor with the heel of his foot resting in a cereal bowl. It seems he had some sort of injury or infection, and he felt the need to soak it in a little warm water. Now, I would say he had every right to soak any sore part of his body, except that it was a community kitchen, and that was a community bowl. He probably had to rinse some one's breakfast out of it to make room for his foot.

In the moment, none of us had the nerve to challenge him on his strange choice to use a bowl instead of say, a bucket from under the sink or the river out back. In hindsight we were probably too scared to find out what he had been doing with the spoons. So we just shot each other "Eeeewww!" looks and went about our business.

In the morning, the bowl of water was still resting on the table...but did we toss it in the trash, where it so clearly belonged? No. Somebody found a Sharpie, and somebody turned it over and wrote "Foot Bowl" in prominent letters. Our visitor never knew it, but he lived in infamy...each time we went in the cabinet, we would make sure we weren't putting our Ramen noodles or mac and cheese into the "Foot Bowl." We would howl in laughter if some unknowing soul (or better yet, one of us) made the mistake of using it. "Uhhh!" I can remember groaning as I discovered that in my sleep deprived, grouse trapping stupor I had grabbed the "Foot Bowl" by mistake and was eating out of it. What is a person to do? Dump out perfectly good Lucky Charms just because they might have foot cooties? When you think about it, perhaps we were all a bit socially challenged.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Better Bread

Of course this bread is better...it has beer in it, after all! I found a recipe online after a futile search for K's recipe...I know it's in the office somewhere. After Baby m went to bed, I told E that we were going to cook. She was excited, of course, and helped me gather the "igredents". No, I didn't send her to the fridge for a beer! But we named off all of the dry goods as we added them to the bowl, and she stirred her little heart out. Even when I left the table to answer the door, she just kept on mixing happily and humming some unknown tune. :)

I did remember that K said cheap beer works great, so when I returned I got a Miller Lite (sorry, M!) and poured it into the mixture while E attempted to keep stirring. I had to take over as the dough took form, but E was insistent that she could put it in the bread pan. So I tipped the bowl and she used the spoon to pry it out. Some melted butter over the top, and into the oven it went! We turned on the oven light and watched it bubble and rise. I think that watching through the window is E's favorite part of cooking. Before she went to bed, she asked, "Can I have my bread yet?" I told her she could try some in the morning. No, Miller Lite Loaf is not exactly a breakfast bread, but unlike the bread machine fiasco, at least it's edible.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Unplugged - Sand

We started this week's project with a call to my sis. When I told her the theme, the first thing she said was, "You can mix sand with Elmer's glue and then mold it into different shapes..." That sounded perfect for us! We have a sandbox full of sand, plenty of glue, and some really cool candy molds that look like shells. So I gave E the ingredients and she stirred away, until the goup was about the consistency of clay. Then she pressed clumps of it into the molds and we set them in the sun to dry. Some of them disintegrated because we didn't press them in tight enough, but the starfish came out pretty cool.

The next day, I glued some sandpaper to a piece of cardboard (the back of a cereal box) to represent the beach, and I collected some shells, sea glass, and "watery" looking things for a collage. Having learned from past projects, I only put out what I thought E would use...nothing extra, nothing that she couldn't do herself. She had a grand time gluing each treasure onto the sand, and she loved the waves I had cut out of shiny paper. The result was a very pretty 3-D collage, with only one rogue wave (bottom left corner).


As we worked, we talked about our beach vacations this summer, jumping in the ocean and visiting with family. We don't keep all of our craft projects, but I might have to find a shadow box for this one. It's a keeper.

Dead Bread

I pulled out the bread machine yesterday after M suggested we have "make your own" pizza for dinner. I've only tried the recipe once, but it passed the toddler test, so why not try again? While E was asleep, I put the ingredients in and an hour and a half later, perfect dough! Yippee. E seems to like "cooking" with me, so she was all into it when I put the dough and toppings on the table for her. She shmeared the sauce around, then placed the cheese carefully over every inch of the pizza. I was a bit surprised because usually she makes "anchilla mountain" out of any given medium...sprinkles, glitter, whatever. I expected to see the leaning tower of mozzarella, but instead I saw a perfect little pizza!

Dinner was delish, and I figured that since I had the bread machine out, why not try another something? So I pulled out the book and picked one that had applesauce and oats. What's not to love? E helped me dump the ingredients in, and just before bedtime the house smelled fantastic! Imagine my surprise when I peeked into the machine and found a hard, misshapen blob! Where did my beautiful bread go? I mean, this bread is UGLY. Okay, save your judgement for the taste test, I thought. Um, still a problem...this bread tastes as bad as it looks. Dry, tasteless, hard...even butter and cinnamon don't help.

Stupid book! It's obviously not my fault. Except that I think it is my fault...I did a Google search this morning, and found that one thing that can go wrong is that you can kill the yeast. But I knew that! I'm always so careful to use just lukewarm water. Never, ever hot. Oh...my...flashback to the point in the recipe that called for honey. My honey was solidified and I just put it in the microwave for a quick second to soften it up. When I pulled it out, it was so hot, I could barely hold onto the bottle. So what did I do? Quick like a bunny I dumped it into the bread machine...poor little fungi. They never had a chance.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ouch

Gotta love those calls..."No big deal, but E got a small bite on her hand today. We put ice on it, and she's fine." She was fine, just a tiny red mark on her knuckle. As far as I can tell, she wasn't really damaged by the experience...just a little confused. It was her friend N who bit her, and the teacher said it was "unprovoked." Hmmm...so it wasn't her fault? Good, because the last time she got bit it was because she was trying to steal the blankie off of a drowsy classmate. Yeah, she's lucky the kid just nipped her.

Provoked or not, I have to think that the parent of the biter is the one most traumatized. I mean, I get to be sympathetic, say "Awww, poor baby." The other Mommy has to sit at home and worry about the "unprovoked" attacker sitting the other room watching Blue's Clues. I know exactly how she feels, because I've been there. E never did bite her friends...thankfully her biting phase lasted only about a week and I was the only victim. But E did regularly hit, push, and generally instigate chaos in the toddler room at her last school. I would watch from the little window as she shouted in K's face every time she approached, and shoved her in the chest if K got in her personal space. E grew out of that, but at the time I was mortified. My little princess beautiful blonde girlie from heaven was acting like a little monster. It hurts a Mommy's heart.

Thank you, E, for leaving that behind. And to N's Mommy, don't worry. N is still your beautiful princess...she's just "tasting the world!"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Acorns of Knowledge

While surfing around my Unplugged friends sites, I came across a link to free printables for preschoolers. I found a counting activity with squirrels and acorns that I thought E would really like. I cut out three squirrels with numbers on their tails, and three matching acorns. There were actually fifteen squirrels, but I thought it would be good to start with something easy. It seemed like a "schoolish" activity and I wanted E to be successful. I'm afraid sometimes that I overwhelm her with information, and I don't want to scare her away.

I didn't tell her about the game, I just put it at her place at the table. When she found it she said, "Hey, Mommy! There's squirrels here! And acorns!" I asked her, "What's on the squirrels?" She said "Letters!" I told her that they were numbers, not letters, but I took her answer as a good sign. Until this point I had never even heard her talk about letters at all.

It took her all of thirty seconds to match up the squirrels with their respective acorns. I even tested her by trying to match up the number two squirrel with the number three acorn...yes, she corrected me. Before she went to bed, I promised her that there would be more squirrels in the morning. But what will I do when she matches all fifteen? I mean, even Doogie Howser didn't graduate from college until he was a teenager!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Unplugged - Soft

I guess this week's project is about as close to a failure as we've come while doing our Unplugged Projects. The theme was soft, and I immediately thought of the soft insect puppets I found at a Labor Day weekend garage sale up north. What a bonus...another unintentional "link-em" week, where I combine two themes in one (last week we did cylinder insects).

I've been intending to get E excited over her puppets...they're so much fun and just beg for "unplugged" time. So over the past few nights I've been writing my first puppet play, using a frog, a dragonfly, and a blue morpho butterfly. When E is a little older, I'll help her write a play too...I used to help my nieces and nephews write scripts and then video tape them acting them out. I am so proud of my play...it's cute, it's corny, it has props and involves throwing candy at the audience. This is the first time I've written actual lines instead of ad-libbing dialogue between E's many puppets. And tonight was to be the debut, until "the problem." While gathering the props and deciding on a venue (back of the couch, behind the kitchen table), I couldn't find the dang puppets. Further investigation revealed what I had feared...I left the puppets up North at the cottage. Oy.

I was ready to call it quits, but M was a trooper, and suggested that I substitute other animals, and go on with the show. Okay, well, the frog became a lion, the dragonfly became an elephant, and Seniorita Morpho became Seniorita Big Chicken. She was, after all, bigger than the elephant and lion combined.
My audience listened intently, M laughed at my corny jokes, and they appropriately surprised when I threw a Ziploc bag of M&M's at them during the pinata scene. After I was through, E said, "More puppet show, Mommy." I'll take that as a good sign. Apparently the plot made sense to her, Costa-Rican-beans-and-rice-eating chicken and all.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Me

I tend to think of myself as a nice person. Patient, understanding, and kind. But sometimes I'm none of those things. Sometimes I'm impatient, snotty, and obnoxious. Sometimes when I'm tired I just lose my composure completely and nothing but a good night sleep can get it back. Sometimes I'm downright mean.

I don't want to be that way. I want people to smile when I enter the room. I want to be a good friend, a good wife, and a good mommy. So I'm sorry, world. I'm working on it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Him Likes Him's Milk

Oh, Baby m sure has a mind of his own...you know, we've been trying to get this kid to take a bottle since he was just a few weeks old. Well, he started day care (3 days a week) when I started back to work and he has been refusing to take ANY liquid from his kind and patient teachers. As a result, when I come to pick him up, the little dehydrated prune gives me an instant boo-boo lip and makes a beeline for my chest. Yesterday he had to plow his way through piles of toys, throwing them aside in a panic to reach me, his milky machine. In my desperation I told the room leader, "Tomorrow, why don't you try feeding him the formula with a spoon?" It was worth a try...after all, he has taken water from a spoon on a hot day, and he assumes baby bird position if he sees an eating utensil within ten feet.

So today they did it, they fed him his formula on a spoon...and wouldn't you know it, the stubborn little critter took it. I have a cupboard full of expensive b**b shaped bottles but no...he wants a 50 cent plastic spoon. Now that we've discovered a delivery method that works, I can feel a little better about leaving. At least I know that he won't have to muscle past the other children to "get his milk on" at the end of the day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rated G?

At the moment, I'm a little peeved at children's book writers. It started back when I was looking for books for E about the beach. There was a lovely looking book called, "I Saw the Sea and the Sea Saw Me." I was reading it to E that night, and all was going well until the main character got stung by a jellyfish. I turned the page and the character started shouting, "Stupid Sea! Stupid Sand! Stupid Shells! Stupid Jellyfish!" Before I knew it, I was yelling, "Stupid stupid stupid!" right in front of E. Come on, authors. You've got to know that the mommas and daddies reading your books are sleep deprived and unaware of the words coming out of their mouths. Don't blindside us with words that most parents try desperately to keep out of their children's ears.

Then the other night, another pretty book about clouds turned ugly. In the beginning, the author asks what clouds are...are they pillows? Are they ice cream cones? Are they made by a little cloud machine? Then, out of nowhere, Are they monsters that eat your kite? Excuse me? And the picture on that page is of a cloud overhead with big pointy teeth and dead kites hanging out of its mouth. Really, please. Have the decency to call this book "Attack of the Killer Monster Cloud" and give me the opportunity to leave it at the library.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Unplugged - Insect

This theme was a natural for our family. E has little fear of creepy-crawlies, and you can often find her on hands and knees observing an ant or a spider VERY close up. I decided to keep the message simple...Insects (or "bugs" as we call them) have six legs and two antennae. She learned the six legs part quickly, though she teased me by saying "Twenty!" every time I asked. I knew she was being a smarty pants because when I sweetened the deal with chocolate she immediately changed her answer to "Six, Mommy! Six!" Yay, Pavlov.

The word "antenna" is proving harder...ask her what bugs have on their heads and she will either reply "Antlers" or "Invitations." Whatever...it's all for fun anyway, right? So I decided that my crafty girl and I should make some insects...we missed posting for the cylinder theme last week, so we combined them and made insects out of cylinders! For a while, I've had this idea to cut animals out of paper towel tubes, so we painted a few in buggy colors...red for a ladybug and green for a grasshopper.
Of course we also had to paint paper, both with brushes and with the tubes themselves. It was a beautiful day...the picture above was taken before I wised up and took her clothes off. I tried to describe that I would be cutting a bug out of the tube, and she kept looking inside it asking, "Are you gonna get the bug out of there yet?" After she went to bed that night, I started "carving" the tubes. I accented the grasshopper with a sharpy. I think they came out pretty cool, and E seems to like them.

I didn't really have a plan, I just removed everything that wasn't bug! :) Yeah, me and Michelangelo, we're two of a kind. I think I might work on some templates for other critters...incidentally, you can make little animals if you cut the other way too, with the curve instead of against it. Then you just bend neck, ears, tail, and legs and you've got critters! We also made candy bugs...well, I made them and E ate them. We used that melty junk (I think it's 90% dye) in a squeeze bottle, and I just shaped little bugs on a sandwich bag (they peel off really easily). Finally, we went to the library, and checked out The Very Quiet Cricket and The Very Clumsy Click Bug, both by Eric Carle. We read them tonight before bed, and were surprised with a special treat...at the end of each book, there's a little sound chip that makes bug noises. E and I looked at each other, confused as to where the clicking was coming from. I can't even describe the smile on her face when she realized the bug was clicking at her.

I think we'll keep on with this theme a little longer. We'll be up north this weekend, in the wood with lots of bugs. Maybe we'll catch some and count their invitations. :)

My Pink Phone

Uh, I hate to admit this...

I just found my "new" pink phone at the bottom of the washer...it's now dry and plugged in, but no life in it yet. I'm blaming E, because she put it in my back pocket as I walked down the hall. In my haste to get laundry done for the weekend, I flaked out and sent my beloved phone through a heavy duty, warm water cycle.

If it survives, Motorola is going to get one fantastic thank you letter...but it's not looking good. :(

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One Big Kid

We had a wonderful weekend, full of energy and laughter and smiles...including my birthday on Friday. :) When I walked in the door from work, I said to M, "Don't go to work today." Well, he counted up his days off and said, "Okay, I won't." Yay. I really needed that, and it meant a lot to me that he stayed, even though he was literally walking out the door, lunch packed, ready to go. We decided to make it a really special day, and brought the kids to the splash pad at Hawk Island, the sprinkler park that E tried out (and hated) at the start of the summer.

Thankfully she has gotten used to splashing water, and she really made the most of the hours we spent there. She just giggled the whole time, running in and out of the misty water, and making "E-prints" whenever she hit the dry concrete. It was fun watching her, but my favorite part was watching my husband. Besides being a splash buddy for E, he would smile and talk to any other kid who got close to him. There was not one other adult out there. Every other parent (including me) was watching from the shaded seats, waving once in a while to their wet and excited kid. When some little boys started shooting each other with giant water guns, M joined in a three way water fight. I swear, his smile showed the pure fun of being a "boy". Daddies and daughters have a special bond, but so do daddies and sons. I can't wait until Baby m is out there laughing and splashing with his dad. M will not be in the shade watching, that's for sure!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Party's Over

Who would think that eight months could fly by so fast? My extended leave is over, and today was my first day back to work. M brought the kiddos to school and I got a super big caramel coffee on my way in to my office. The first few hours were frustrating...some technical glitches got my blood pressure up. WAY up. But I managed to get some work done, and had a nice (free) lunch. That's the best part of kick-off week, BTW. Three, count em, three, free lunches.

Tomorrow will consist of more technical headaches in the morning and a science department meeting in the afternoon. Classes start on Thursday, and I have some serious hurdles to jump before then. I need to update my lectures and Wednesday morning is my only time to do it. Uh.

When we were on vacation, I had a massage on the beach. The massage therapist said, "You know, you would really benefit from a massage every week." I agree. I'll get right on that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Unplugged - Trees

What a great theme! There were a million ways I could go with this one, being a field biologist. But, figuring that E would eventually get plenty of science lessons, I went with another of my passions...genealogy. After brainstorming with my sis, I introduced E to a simple version of our family tree.

First I went though the vacation photos from this summer. Luckily we took trips with both sides of the family, and had plenty of pics on hand. Otherwise, this step could have taken a LONG time. I opened a PowerPoint document and pasted a small version of each photo onto the page, then printed it out. I looked for shots of two or more family members to make the job a little less daunting. I ended up with 18 pictures...then I cut out 18 apples from red construction paper and found 18 paper clips.
When E woke up from her nap, I told her it was "Project Time!" She was so excited to get started, until Baby m woke up. She started to cry and said, "Now we can't do a project." I assured her we could still do it, and handed her a glue stick. No problem. She took each picture, one at a time, and stuck it to an apple while I talked to her about family. She named each person, and even talked about what they were doing in the pictures. She started slowing down about halfway through, so I attached some of the paper clips to the apples and we went over to the "Family Tree" (a fake Ficus in the living room) to hang them. While Baby m crawled around pawing at our toes, E and I decorated the tree with people. Then back to gluing so she could hang "MORE!"
I knew the project was a hit when she dragged Grandma over to see it later that night, and asked me to pull off all the apples so she could hang them again. By the time she went to bed, 15 of the 18 apples were all jammed together, hanging on one branch. I guess that's where we belong, together after all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Boardwalk Baby

Just when you think you know your kid, you take her to the boardwalk. I was convinced that E would have a hard time with all the loud noises, the crowds, the toys and candy she couldn't have...I was sure that she would be overstimulated. Boy, was I wrong. From the first slice of pizza to the last game of Skee-ball, she loved every minute of it.

We started with dinner and a walk to the family's favorite pier, and we happened on the Cutest Baby Parade. After watching a few of the contestants, none of whom were cuter than Baby m, we moved on to the games and kiddie rides. First, we managed to win a giant Hello Kitty in the water squirting contest, which actually made E squeal with glee. Then we made our way to the merry-go-round, where E declared that she wanted a "brown horse." Okee dokee. I boosted her up and off we went, waving at Daddy and the rest of the clan as Mommy got dizzier and dizzier with every spin. From her perch on the brown horse E spotted "Sponge Bob," who was actually a guy dressed up as a giant crinkle cut French Fry. By the time we got off the ride he had disappeared into the night.

Then came the boat ride, where E rode by herself for the first time. She loved ringing the little bell, and I was thankful that she was wise enough not to CHEW on the rope like the kid in back of her...yuck. Then, into the arcade. She tossed the Skee-balls willy nilly, much to the dismay of our VERY competitive ball-rolling neighbors, but I didn't stop her. My girl was having fun. After a short chat with a baby drinking a bottle, she moved on to the slot machines. Oh, those blinking lights. E scored big time just by punching the buttons randomly, and did a victory dance in the 125 tickets that the machine spit at her. When it came time to cash in, she picked out some lolly-pops, a deck of cards, some plastic motorcycles, a Twizzler, and some stick-on earrings...she thought she was hot stuff, really.

Time for more rides, which made Mommy very nervous. She wanted to go on the plane. The plane that goes up in the air. More specifically, "the yellow one." Okay, who am I to say she can't? The carnival man was confident that the seat belt would hold us both in, and that the hydraulics could withstand my weight, so up we went. "Higher, Mommy!" she screamed, so I would lower the plane just to take it back up again. Yippee! It was great fun. Then a short drive in a red truck (she apparently loves steering wheels), ice cream with Daddy, and back home safely with hardly a tear. Ask her what she did at the boardwalk, and this is her reply..."A horse, a boat, a plane and a truck. And earrings. And I fro a ball. And I see Sponge Bob." Does it get any better than that?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Unplugged - Hot

We spent a lot of "hot" unplugged time this week...I didn't know the theme beforehand, but we were at the Jersey shore with my family. Despite the 12-hour car ride, it was a great vacation...both E and Baby m thought the sand was fantastic. E even made sand angels. If you don't believe we were hot, check out the picture of Baby m. It's become kind of a family tradition to sculpt strange things in the sand. We used to spend hours on large, elaborate (though very novice) designs, but now that we have two small kids, we go for small and fast. My "hot" cup of coffee fits the bill for this week's theme! Best that we kept it small, because as soon as we completed our "sand castle breakfast" E destroyed it using her best Swiper the Fox imitation. To quote her exactly, "You'll never fix your sand cup of coffee now! Heh, heh, heh." For the uninitiated, Swiper is the sneaky friend of Dora the Explorer...so much for "Unplugged"! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

E I E I O

Despite some little twinges of guilt, I drove through McDonald's on our way home from playgroup this morning. On the way, I told E that we would be getting some Apple Dippers, which really got her excited. "You drove past it, Mommy," she said from the back seat. "You have to turn around." She was remembering last week, when I accidentally drove past Pizza Hut on the way to get her free pizza...smart girl. "No, I didn't, honey. It's right here." I pulled in the parking lot, and she asked, "Where's the barn?" "E, this is Mc'Donald's. It's a restaurant." She thought about that for a minute and asked, "Old McDonald has a restaurant?" How do you answer that?

I ordered her a Happy Meal which came with a Polly Pocket...I'm saving that for the drive out east this weekend. When we got home, she dove right into the apples...not surprising since they come with caramel dipping sauce. She didn't touch the cheeseburger, fine. But she did want to try some of my fries. I handed over a few, and a squirt of ketchup. She spent the next 20 minutes trying out different combinations...fries dipped in caramel and milk, apples dipped in ketchup. Who am I to question the culinary genius of my daughter?

I think we're going to need to come up with a Fast Food Rule...once every 3 weeks or so? Once a month? As with most things, I struggle with how to moderate the "bad" stuff. I don't feel like forbidding it altogether, because I don't want her obsessed. But I also don't want a house full of junky plastic tchachkis or caramel fries every night for dinner. By the way, the second ingredient in the chocolate milk is high fructose corn syrup. I'll tell you what, Old McDonald may have a restaurant, but he doesn't have a conscience!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Seeing Red

For the first time, we are actively maintaining a hummingbird feeder in our backyard. E helps me make up the sugar water and we clean and refill it about twice a week. We started seeing a bird feeding there in early May (?) and we've seen one almost every day since.

Some mornings when Baby m will not sleep, I've seen a bird feeding there at 5:45am. And at the end of the day, when you can barely see a thing, there it is again. I've wondered all summer whether it was the same bird or many, and yesterday my question was answered (partly). I saw TWO hummingbirds at the feeder at one time! I got out the bird book and found that one was a male (very ruby throated), but my daily visitor is definitely a female (white throated). I've tried to get her picture, but she's very fast and I'm very slow.

I don't know when she will decide that the days are too short, and the weather is too cold, to stay in our neighborhood any longer. I'll hate to see her go. She is my tiny little buddy and I'll miss her. I hope we can coax her back next year.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Unplugged Project - Flat

I'll bet I'm not the only Mama to come up with a Flat Stanley project for this week's Unplugged Project theme! But I might win an award for the most prep time...I got a little obsessed.

I had heard of Flat Stanley before, but a quick web search gave me more information than I could even process! The original book published in 1964 is a short story about a kid who gets flattened by a falling bulletin board...it's not all bad, though. He can do fun things like slide under the door and get himself mailed around the world. Some very fun people came up with the idea of encouraging kids to make their own Flat Stanleys and mailing them around the world to promote literacy and friendship. We didn't have time to mail him around the world, but we did make our own Stanley from the template found here. I printed him, colored him, and (knowing my daughter) laminated him...then the fun began.

I introduced Stanley to E while she was doing a craft project, and she was mildly interested. She looked him over, got him involved in the craft, and it seemed to be going well. Then I thought we could pose him around the house and yard, and I would take pictures. That worked up to a point, but E seemed more interested in crumpling him up than setting him out for a photo shoot. We worked through it, and I knew she had warmed up to him when she turned to me and said, "Mama? Tell Flat Stanley I'm pooping."

After I had some good pics of Stanley, I showed them to E and asked her what he was doing in each one. She liked looking at the pics on my computer, but didn't seem to want to tell a story. She made a few comments which I wrote down, and then I used them to create a little book about Flat Stanley's visit. This was where the time involved got WAY out of control. Microsoft Word hates me. It always has...and so when I tried to do a "book fold" page layout, I could actually hear Bill Gates laughing. I could not get it to print right, and I REFUSED to just print it in pieces and cut and paste manually. For goodness sakes, if "book fold" doesn't work, then why is it an option, I ask you!?

In the end, I compromised. Turns out there's a bug in my program that many a user has tried to combat unsuccessfully. So I printed the book on half sheets of card stock and glued them together into a heavy (though not toddler proof!) book. This morning, Daddy read the book to E and she pretended to be interested. Note to self: Do not try to read E a book after a long conversation about candy. When Daddy got to the last page, E said, "More! I want more pum-rockas!" "What do you want, honey?" asked Daddy. "Pop Rocks," I answered. "She wants more Pop Rocks." Turns out that the adventures of a flat, laminated boy cannot compete with strawberry flavored, carbonated sugar.

 
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr