Saturday, March 31, 2012

Baking Bread

I swear, we're not stalking these people, she's just a huge fan.

Kiwano

You know all that weird stuff in the produce section that nobody actually buys? We bought one!

After reading this blog post about kiwanos or horned melons, I showed one to Peeper at the grocery, and since it wasn't too expensive, we bought one to check out.

Basically, I'd say that I agree with everything in that post. Poky on the outside, slimy on the inside, tastes like the love-child of a cucumber and a banana.

Tons and tons of seeds, each of which is surrounded by this sort of green gelatinous stuff. I won't tell you what it most resembles, but I'm sure you can figure it out yourself.

I scooped out the innards and froze them to put in smoothies, because it tasted good, but I wasn't sure how the hell else to eat it.





Can I take your picture?

No! You don't!

Oh, okay. I won't then.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Appropriate Attire

Peeper had to put this on to watch a Cat in the Hat video.


Bunny Art

Our craft at this evening's library story time was a jellybean bunny. She was supposed to use icing to stick the jellybeans to the paper, along the outline of the bunny but, as usual, she sort of went her own direction with it.






Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Forty-One Months

Dear Peeper:
You are forty-one months old today. That means that in one month, you will officially be three-and-a-half, although I've been calling you that, more or less, for a few weeks now.

It's been a pretty rough month for us here.

Of course, the worst part, for all of us, was saying goodbye to your Grandma S. You seem to have understood that about as well as one could expect, and whenever we talk about her, or about Pappy, you tell us "When somebody dies, you love them." And then we're all sad for a while.

A couple of times, Mommy's stopped by to see Pappy on her way to work, and dropped off some leftovers from our lunch. The other day we'd just sent him some lunch when you and I baked bread. You suggested, completely on your own, that we should send him some bread.

I think that's a great idea, but we'll have to bake more, because we ate that whole loaf the next day!

We've also been at least sorta-sick for the past month, with a cold that lingered, a throw-uppy (for you and other stuff for me) thing, coughing and congestion that hasn't let up, even with antibiotics, the cold revving back up for me in the past week or so and now you've thrown up again this evening.

Then there was the whole Mother's Day Out fiasco. On Honey, Mommy and I are so sorry about that. We got carried away, and went way too fast for you, and if we could turn back time and do it differently, we certainly would.

And, for a while there, I wasn't being such a great Mama for you. I was being very impatient, and getting frustrated and angry way too quickly and way too much. I realized that I was expecting too much of you, and after adjusting the way I was looking at things, I think I'm doing a better job now, and I think we're all a lot happier.

But it's not been all bad. In fact, when you were feeling okay, and not sad for one reason or another and not being yelled at by your crazy Mama, you have been - as usual - quite a delight to be with.

You have fallen even more deeply in love with your fairy tales, of all sorts, and have spent hours and hours reenacting them and creating endless variations on the different stories.

Your favorites are ballets The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Firebird (which you saw on stage, once) and fairy tales, Rapunzel, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, Jack and the Beanstalk, and most recently, you've discovered The Elves and The Shoemaker, although that one hasn't yet entered your play. And, of course, there is still Sesame Street.

Your imagination is just amazing these days. You constantly have some sort of fantasy-play going on. If you're not specifically acting out a fairy tale, or Sesame Street sketch, or other story, you are pretending to be a character or animal.

I swear, I never know who you "are" from one moment to another.

And, Heaven forfend, I call you the wrong thing.

"Hey Honey. . . ?"

"No. I'm Baby Bear!"

(Or a kitty, or a puppy, or Rapunzel, or Prince Sigpweed, or . . . . )

The upside to this (other than how fun it is to watch, of course) is that you will do just about anything, as long as I phrase it in terms of whomever you're pretending to be at the moment.

One of your newest things, which I first noticed back in January when we were in Texas, but you've been doing a whole lot more lately, is that when you talk, you often echo the final sound of your sentence a few times under your breath. It's hard to explain but it's something like this:

"Let's read some books . . . ks . . . ks . . . ks."

(The ks (or x) sound is probably the one that you are most likely to echo, but you do it with other ending sounds, too.)

To be honest, it sort of freaked me out a bit at first, because you seemed to be doing it unconsciously, and it seemed rather tic-like.


So, I asked Mrs. T about it, because she's a developmental therapist and therefore, an expert on little kiddos and weird language thingies.

She said that you're just "playing with the sounds" and learning to isolate the ending sounds of words, which I already knew (from my time with Learning Center, and testing beginning readers) is a very important step in phonemic awareness.

So, yay you!

Within the past week or so, you're doing this more and more, and it's seemed more intentional or conscious, or like you're waiting to see if we notice. So, I've said, "Yes, 'books' does end with a 'ks' sound, doesn't it. It's spelled b-o-o-k-s and the k-s sounds like 'ks.'"

You are also starting to identify rhymes and make rhymes and make what you call "rhymes" but are actually words that start with the same letter, or sound alike in some other way, and you're getting better and better at identifying a word that starts with a given letter.

I wish I could have a video camera on you 24/7, because you are just cracking me up all the time. When you're not impressing the hell out of me. And sometimes both at the same time.

One night, I'd just gotten you out of the tub, and we were being vewy quiet, so as to not wake up the shampoo bottle pump that you'd just tucked into his widdle bed. I had you snugged all up in a towel on my lap, and you whispered, "Mama, I fink I wuv you!"



At the grocery store one evening, I was eyeing the clearance Valentine's candy, when youpicked up a heart-shaped box of chocolate and said, "Shall we buy this?"

Since then, the word "shall" has become a regular part of your vocabulary, but I'm pretty sure you think it means "may," because it's always in the context of "Shall we (thing you want to do)."

I should probably work on correcting that, but it's just so cute that I can't bring myself to.



In fact, you say lots of things that it doesn't seem that you "should," mostly because you've picked them up from Sesame Street or your various books, which use words that aren't "three year old words."

You're quite fond of "Here, Mama. Here's a splendid ___ for you!"



Of course, sometimes you say things that have no explanation at all. For example, who would've thought that a 3-year-old meltdown could include the sentence (repeated multiple times, very loudly) "Mama's a better clicker than you are!"



Mama: Can I have a hug?
Peeper: I don't wanna hug. Maybe later.



Mama: Let's put on your butterfly jammies.
Peeper: No, you silly old goose, they're flower jammies!

Another night, you decided (on your own) that the nice way to correct me (I keep thinking they look like butterflies) is "Excuse me, but they're flower jammies."

Much better.



The other day, you were playing on the bathroom scale, asking "How tall is Peeper?" (Then you made us get on. Not funny.)

I explained that it was actually "How much does Peeper weigh?"

So, a little while later, you picked up the forehead-scanning thermometer and said "See how much my forehead weighs."



A few weeks ago, you told Mommy, out of the blue, "You go to Sheetz and get mint M&Ms for me, and coffee for my mama!"

That would be really funny, if it weren't for the tears, wailing and gnashing of baby teeth that followed, when we told you that wasn't going to happen.



You've watched Teletubbies on YouTube a few times, and before you learned the name of the show, you called them "Dose babies with some things wrapped around dey heads."



One evening, you asked me, "Could you get someone to climb up this beanstalk?"

I turned around and saw that you were holding a green plastic slinky, all stretched out vertically. Beanstalk, of course.



Hickory, dickory dock. The mouse ran up the clock. The sun came out and dried up Hickory-Dickory.

Mash-up, 3-year-old style.



A few nights ago, you were playing with a phone. I offered you something to eat, and you told me, "I can't talk right now, I'm on the telephone." Then you returned to your "conversation" and said, "Sorry about that. As I was saying . . . ."

Can't imagine where you've heard that before.

Then you tried to call Mommy, but "She's not answering, I have to call her back. I have to get her voicemail."



Yesterday, we bought you some $2.50 flipflops at Target. As soon as we got home, you put them on and went out to play in the yard right now. It was about 50' out with a wind alert.

Mommy told you "It's too cold to wear them outside," and you replied that, "It's my idea," very much in the sense of "I will take responsibility for being cold."

I assume you get that from us saying "Well, it was your idea . . . " when you complain about being cold without your jacket, or shoes, or pants.



All in all, you're just amazing, kiddo. And I can't believe that you're almost three-and-a-half!

We love you, little Roodely-Toot.


Love,
Mama

Panda Pics - 41 Months

Again, Peeper flipped out about going to dance class, which she LOVED before MDO started. I called her teacher and got the okay to sit in with her, and on that condition, she agreed to go.

My the time I got her on the phone, I'd already told Peeper that if she said I couldn't go in, then she didn't have to go, because she was soooo upset about it.

Once I told her that I was going in though, she was fine. From the time I told her until we actually walked into the room, she kept asking, "Mama, you're going in the dance room wif me?"

"Yes honey, I'm going in with you today."

She did great - and ZOMG TEH CUTEZ - and says that "Next week, I'll be okay for you to be in the waiting room."

I hope so.

In the meantime, once she was happy about it, I was even able to get her dressed in time to get some Tutu Tuesday Panda Pics!





Monday, March 26, 2012

Bear Sleep

Eggplant Guy!

While playing around at Target today, we found this cute cutting boards shaped like fruits and veggies. They had an apple, an orange, a lemon and an eggplant. Peeper was really bummed that we didn't buy any.

"I am eggplant guy!"




She also told us all about how to choose a fresh eggplant, which she learned from the eggplant chips video. (Push your finger into it a bit. If it pops back out, it's fresh.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Party Time

This afternoon, Peeper and I went to a birthday party for a little girl that's in MOMS Club and in her dance class. T and her girls were there, too.

They all thoroughly enjoyed the playground. And the cupcakes.





Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eggplant v. 2.0

The eggplant chips were way floppy after being in the fridge overnight, but still tasted good, so I cut them up teeny, and cooked them in olive oil with some onions, peppers and sausage (turkey “loop” sausage cut up) then mixed in some rice.

(In retrospect, I should have added some spinach.)

I didn’t even have to add any seasoning beyond what was already on the eggplant. It was amazing. I hope I can recreate it!

Little Baker

A while back, Peeper saw a video on Sesame Street about baking bread, and I promised her that we would do that someday.

Today was that day.









Friday, March 23, 2012

Eggplant Chips

When we went to the grocery last week, I got another eggplant, and this time, we managed to get to it before it turned on us.

We started with this basic recipe that Peeper has pretty much memorized from the video, but then I tweaked it a bit.


We tried something a little new, and I had Peeper stand on a chair beside me, rather than sitting on the counter. She liked it better, and could help better, but I'm not quite sure how to make it practical, because the workspace between the sink and stove is a corner, and it's hard for us both to fit in there, and still be able to reach the cabinets for ingredients. I'll figure something out, though.

First I put her in front of the sink and she helped me to wash the eggplant, then she helped me to cut it up. I put her hands on the eggplant and knife with my hands over them, and showed her what to do. Of course, I was in control of the knife the whole time, and reminded her that she can only use the Big Sharp Knife when I'm helping.

(I really, really, really want to get her these kid-friendly real knives. Easter Bunny?)

Then Peeper laid out all the slices on the three freakin' pans and painted them with olive oil, "Just like Hannah!"



Then we sprinkled them with salt ("Hannah has sea salt." "Yes, Honey, but Mama only has plain ol' salt. It'll be okay.") and put them in the oven.

After baking the first couple of pans for about ten minutes, I decided that they needed:

To be cut thinner. Some were really thin and that worked well. Others, not so much.
To bake a good bit longer and get more crispity.
To be on a more non-stick surface. I thought the olive oil would do it, but no.
To have more flavor

So, before we put the third pan in the oven, we sprinkled dredged them with a mixture of Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning (or "sneezening" as Peeper was calling it) and garlic (just a little bit, honey, I promise).

When I saw how those came out, I mixed up some more, dredged the not-so-done ones from the first couple of batches and put them back in.

Yum.

I am not really an eggplant eater, although I really don't have a good reason for it. I couldn't have told you what it tasted like, so I didn't really know if I liked it or not, I suppose.

(I have some memory of Anonymama making eggplant "French fries" when I was a kid, and we ate those.)

The just-salty ones were okay, but the Parmesan ones were really, really good, especially the thinner, crispier ones.

(Hmm, eggplant + Parmesan. Who would've thought?)

The coating, of course, was yummy, but the eggplant itself wasn't bad. I think it was actually sort of sweet.

Who knew?

Cat in the Hat


She's wearing her Cat in the Hat hat . . .


. . .  and "balancing on the ball" like he does in the book. 


That happens in the book, too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Flowers

Library story time this evening was all about gardens, and we painted some spring flowers, like this.


Peeper kind of did her own thing. As usual.




Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rainbow Volcanos

Baking soda.
Vinegar.
Food coloring.
Three year old.

Go.





Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We Quit.

On our way home from our medical and free ice adventures this afternoon, we mentioned to Peeper that it was about time to get ready for dance class, and she freaked out on us again.

She LOVES dance class, but suddenly, she'd refusing to go.

The only times she's had a problem were very early on, when she was barely awake from her car nap, and the class had already gone in without her. Both times, I handed her to the teacher, whimpering, and she sat with her for just a couple of minutes, then said, "I'm awake now. I'm ready to dance," and was fine.

Until last week, when she flipped out, wailed in the waiting room, and had to be brought out to me after about fifteen minutes. And today, when she told us, repeatedly, that she didn't want to go.

We told her that we would skip dance today (I was just as glad to not have to go, to be honest, because I'm feeling yucky.) and when we got home, Shrike and I had a talk about it.

I think it's pretty obvious that the sudden aversion to dance class is not about dance, it's about Mother's Day Out, and the fact that she was sad and missed us while she was there, so she doesn't want to go to dance, because she expects to be sad there, too. (Although she never has been.)

After a bit of discussion, we decided that there's no sense in continuing to stress us all out by making her go to MDO if she's not enjoying it, and she's not ready for it.

If we did keep pushing her, would she get okay with it after a few weeks? Maybe, but how many weeks would it take, out of the dozen or so that are left before summer break? Would she be miserable twice as many times as she's happy? And which would she remember when it's time to start back in the fall?

And what is the point in pushing it right now?

There's no real reason for her to be doing this right now. It was sort of a whim that got us thinking about it, and to be honest, it was mostly for us, to get a consistent Peeper-free day, for Dr T appointments or lunch dates.

Yes, we would love to have that us-time, but one of the main reasons that we were really feeling the lack of it is because Shrike's parents have been pretty much unavailable for babysitting since around Christmas, when her Grandma got really sick, because they've been helping to take care of her full time.

Of course, that's changed now.

They watched Peeper for a while yesterday, and said that they'd like to set up a regular day or two each week for her to come visit, so maybe we'll find ourselves with that us-time, after all.

Looking back on it, we see that, at the very least, we screwed up when we started her off with a four-hour day. We should have done no more than a couple of hours to start, and worked up from there. I had hoped that it would help to back off to two hours, but she's so hung up on "I missed you!" from the first day, I think it would take quite a while to get past it and get her happy with it.

I was feeling very ambivalent about it - on the one hand, I just wanted to grab her and run away last week, instead of leaving her there, but on the other hand, I know that we can't always just let her say "I don't wanna."

Shrike, on the other hand, was not ambivalent at all. Truth be told, if she'd been there for the drop-off last week, we never would have gotten out of the car. Hell, we might never have gotten in the car.

Even after we asked Peeper if she wanted to just stop for now, and maybe try again after summer time (she said yes, as you can imagine), I was fretting about whether or not we were making the right decision, but I think Shrike has convinced me that we are.

She pointed out that this is something that wasn't even on our radar until she brought it up a few months ago, in terms of a weekly childcare solution, and that it's not something that we've been planning to do or felt like she really "needed" to do.

(Actually, until we started talking about this in December, we weren't even really planning to send her to preschool in the fall, and not sure about the next year.)

She also said that if there's harm to be done by either decision, there's a lot more harm to be done by forcing her to do something she's not ready for, than by just backing off and waiting a little while.

She also reminded me that "There are people who would think that breastfeeding a three year old is crazy, but we don't listen to them, do we?" and that "everything about the way we've parented her" has been about following her lead, and letting her let us know when she's ready for things, and it's worked out pretty well for us so far.

This is true.

The summer that she was a baby, we tried a couple of times to leave her with Shrike's parents while we went to see Dr T, and she cried the whole time, until she fell asleep. Once might have been a fluke, but when it happened twice in a row, we knew she wasn't ready for that, and we didn't leave her again until she was almost fourteen months old. (I did leave her with Shrike a few times for a short while, but not for a couple of months.)

When we left her again (to buy a Christmas tree), she cried on drop-off and got happy pretty quickly. That happened the next few times, and now she barely even stops long enough to tell us good-bye as she heads upstairs to play.

She just was not ready the first time we tried, and later she was.

There are probably plenty of people who'd say that it was crazy to have a three year old in our bed (or even in diapers) but when she decided, right after her birthday, to move into her own bed and to ditch the dipes full-time, it went more smoothly than we could have imagined - because she was ready.

I'm still not certain that this is the right choice, because maybe she'd get used to it soon and love it, but as Shrike pointed out, what is the worst that will happen if we quit and try again later? She thinks she can always just cry and quit and will be a big wuss who will never, ever be willing to be away from us.

And the worst that will happen by continuing to make her go? She never gets okay with it, is sad for several hours a week, feels like we've abandoned her, and learns that school is a place where she's unhappy.

Which is more likely to actually happen? And which is worse?

She's three years old. As the website I referenced the other day puts it, repeatedly, "that's really, really little.

She's got all the time in the world to get used to being away from us, and to go out on her own adventures.

For now, we're going to concentrate on getting her back into dance class, for starters. I really hate that this school thing is negatively affecting what has, up until now, been a great experience for her.

I talked to her dance teacher (who is the owner of the studio) this evening, and explained that "She loves dance class!" to which the teacher said, "I know!" because she sees her in there every week, and it's obvious that she's loving it.

I told her that I was certain that it was about MDO, not about dance, and she said she totally understood, and to take whatever time she needs to "adjust to the new situation" (this was before we decided to quit MDO) and "let me know if there's anything I can do to help," and "tell her that I will miss her tonight, and I really hope she comes back next week."

I think I will give her a call back and let her know the revised plan, and ask if it would be okay if I went in with Peeper next week, if she's hesitant about going. I'm sure she'd be willing to go if she didn't have to leave me, and maybe that would give her a chance to remember how much fun it is, so she'd be willing to go in by herself the following week.

When dance is over for the year, we are going to try to put her in some other without-Mama-but-I'm-right-there activities during the summer. We're thinking about the "Sporties for Shorties" (basketball, soccer, tee ball) class at the rec center, with the same teachers she had for gym class, and swimming lessons, if she's physically able to keep herself upright with the float pack and has the attention span to hang on the side of the pool and wait her turn.

Maybe - maybe - we'll think about a few-day, couple of hours "camp" toward the end of summer, but we'll have to think long and hard about it.

In the meantime, unfortunately, all the preschools are filling up, so we need to make some sort of at least tentative decision about fall pretty much now.

We are leaning toward looking at some of the other local programs, and maybe going with a different one - if we decide to do it at all - because they are all more like two or three hours, and there wouldn't be the "I hated this place last time" stigma that I'm afraid she might have if we went back to the same one.

We need to do some visiting in the next week or so, and at least put down a deposit somewhere to hold a spot, even if we might change our minds before September rolls around.

For now though, we're just going to take it easy, and tomorrow, she's going to be going to art class with Mommy, and she's thrilled with that idea.

First Day of Spring

You know that that means. Free Rita's!



This morning, on the way to a MOMS Club activity, Peeper and I were talking about all the trees that are blooming around town (beautiful!) and I told her that it's because it's spring time.

She asked me something about "Why it's spring time? Why it's not Leprechaun Day?"

Then I was telling her that it's the first day of spring, and that it's called the Vernal Equinox. I reminder her what she learned about Winter Solstice in her book Lights of Winter: Winter Celebrations Around the World, and told her a bit more about the equinox.

This evening, she was playing in the backyard, throwing rocks around, saying "We're doing this for Solstice Day!"

Close enough.

On Our Meds

Peeper and I have been not-well for several weeks now. Mostly, we've felt more or less okay, but have had a lingering cough and congestion that just won't go away. It's gotten better, worse, better several times. Over the past couple of days, mine has revved back up and I've been feeling pretty crappy.

So, off to the doctors with us!

I saw mine yesterday, and Peeper went today. We're now both taking antibiotics and hoping that it they will help.

I'm a little worried that my current yuckiness is something new and viral on top of the old, low-grade bacterial (we hope) sinusitis, but maybe it's something that the antibiotics will fix.

Peeper's doctor said that his rule of thumb is to assume that something like this is viral at first, but if it's not better within a couple of weeks, go with antibiotics. According to my doc (actually, it was a PA who saw me), when you have a viral infection or allergic reaction or whatever, and your nasal passages are swollen and inflamed, you're more susceptible to infection from every bacteria that comes flying up your nose, so that's why a cold can "turn into" a bacterial infection.

Peeper's doc said that his concern after a couple of weeks would be "another infection settling in" like bronchitis, pneumonia or sinusitis.

Peeper's lungs are clear (her coughing is from post-nasal drip), so it's just sinusitis, in her case. Whew, because when he said "that's when I worry about pneumonia . . .  " I was like "What the fuck?!"

Peeper was, of course, a model patient for the entire exam. In fact, if my camera phone had been a little faster, I would have caught her smiling up at him adoringly while he listened to her lungs, and if it had turned out as cute as it was in real life, I seriously would have offered to let them use the photo for their advertising.

Alas, I just got this one, of her looking rather forlornly at me while he listened. Not at all what was actually going on.