Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spin Cycle: I'm sure I'm missing stuff...

Do you know that I haven't watched any of the Olympics yet?

I'm not really into "sports" per say. But I used to enjoy watching ice dancing. Somehow though, I just haven't turned on the Olympics. I'm sure it is because, except for the commercials on Super Bowl Sunday, I have not watched any TV for months, which makes it real easy to let the apathy take over (Should I hang out on the couch for a while? Eh.). But I do feel like I shouldn't be missing out on this no doubt historical event.

When people at work are gathered in little groups discussing Lindsay something-or-another and her successes and failures at whatever events she's entered in, I just nod and smile and try to look appropriately delighted or distressed as the conversation calls for. But I don't have a clue what is going on.

I could go out to the living room and watch something right now, but I still appear to be sitting in this chair. The lure of the warm blue glow of the television is apparently not enough to tear me away from the cold white glare of my computer screen.

However, it requires no effort at all to head over to Sprite's Keeper and check out this week's Spin Cycle entries. That's where I'm going. The topic this week was "Confessions", and I'm expecting there to be some juicy stuff!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bear Hunt

At Elizabeth's dance class they sometime act out the motions to a song called "Going on a Bear Hunt." She is scared, delighted and intrigued by this song, all at the same time. And she's had bears on the brain lately.

So when I got home from work yesterday and she showed me this:

I was not surprised.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I have decided that anyone with a headache as bad as this one, even a re-committed blogger, is allowed to take a pass on posting anything of substance.

Especially when they are also supposed to be creating a birthday DVD for their almost 96 year old grandfather, planning for some fund-raising they're doing, and have a house that looks like a hurricane went through it, and won't be taking care of any of that either.

The only thing I really have to report is that I bought a new hot glue gun this afternoon, and I am delighted with it. Even though I won't be using it tonight after all.

Maybe tomorrow I'll show you the bear picture that Elizabeth drew today, in hopes that will make up for my neglect.

It depends on if I still have this headache.

Or my head. I'm tempted to start banging my head on the wall to see if that has more of an effect than the ibuprofen I have been unsuccessfully popping. I bet I could do it some damage.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Well, we tried...

My girls and I have done many a project in our few short years together. So when we tried to make petit fours tonight, after reading about them in a My Little Pony book, I wasn't nervous about taking them on. The directions we had were simply to frost pieces of pound cake that you cut into whatever shapes you want. What could be difficult about that?

I did the cutting, although I had hovering helpers. We stuck with squares and rectangles and triangles. I was tempted to break out the cookie cutters so the girls could help me, but decided against it, since we did this right after I got home from work, and I still needed to make dinner.

Right away I realized that if we tried to frost the these little babies the way we frost cupcakes that it was going to be a huge mess. Since these were supposed to be child sized tea cakes, I had cut them pretty small. My girls are pretty good with these things, but I couldn't see them holding tiny cakes and frosting them at the same time, and if you tried to frost them on the cookie rack they were small enough to stick to the knife and not stay put.

So I went with the alternate plan I had considered, which was to melt the icing enough that we could spoon it over the cakes. Of course we tried to do it before I tested the icing consistency. The girls kept at it, but you can see that the icing was not cooperating.

Back into the microwave the icing went, and results were much more successful so we repeated it with the vanilla and chocolate icing. Then we got to into it, and I forgot to document the process, but we ended up with some cute little cakes:


Of course, these wouldn't win any beauty contests, but they are delicious, and many were eaten at all stages of the process.
If you want to make them yourself, here are some tips:
If you use a frozen pound cake like I did, it worked just fine to slice it up while still frozen. In fact, I think I got sharper edges because I did that, so the cookie cutters would have worked well.
If you heat up your icing, do it slowly so it doesn't separate.
Put any sprinkles on right away so they stick, and
Refrigerate these little guys so the icing sets up quicker.
My girls are into icing on their treats these days, and almost always leave the cake or cupcake behind, but they ate their weight in these things (well, more or less, we only used one small pound cake), and I sent them to bed high on sugar.
So, yes. They didn't turn out so beautiful to look at, but they were pretty beautiful to eat, and doing projects with my girls is the most beautiful thing of all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Apparently it doesn't take much for me to feel a sense of accomplishment...

Although I feel a little disproportionally proud of myself tonight.

Ever heard of Friendship bread? Some people call it Amish Friendship Bread. I'll leave it to you to Google, since there are a lot of varieties.

Basically, someone (purporting to be your friend) hands you a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of goo (the starter), with a sheet of directions, which you then must feed and nurture for the next week and a half or so, with the hopes of eventually turning it into something delicious.

It is a surprising amount of work.

Not the days when your only directive is "mush the bag", I'm not complaining about those days, I think I'm really just complaining about tonight. First I had to take my bag of goo and empty it into a large bowl. That was challenge enough, because after a long period of growing and digesting in it's plastic home, the starter wanted to cling to the bag. Then you add this and that to the bowl, mix it up well, and then have to measure out 4 one cup portions of goo to place into gallon sized Ziploc bags to sneakily hand over to your friends. Well, three of them anyway, you're supposed to keep one for yourself. I have not yet decided if I'm going to keep on this path. I've heard it can take over your life.

Anyway, all that was before I could even add any of the 15 or so ingredients that were going into my loaves. I have to say, I was a little suspicious. This whole recipe seemed like the one for Stone Soup. Like the starter was the stone, and all my added ingredients actually made the soup (bread). The batter smelled so good when it was mixed up that I was tempted to try it raw. Of course then I remembered that a good portion of it had been fermenting on my counter for almost two weeks, and I suddenly lost my appetite.

But not for long. It seems the bread varies depending on what kind of pudding you add to it, and as I used Pumpkin pudding I ended up with a delicious bread-shaped pumpkin cake thing with a Cinnamon sugar crust. It's darn tasty.

But did I mention the work? And that this work perpetuates itself? And that if I keep my bag of starter I will have to go through this again in 10 days and find 3 more friends to give bags of goo too? I swear, it is just like a chain letter. Only if I don't pass it on I will end up with exploding plastic bags and a home that smells like a brewery.

I should also mention that this is not the first time I have been given a bag of starter. It is just the first time that I haven't killed it. Or starved it, rather. Or whatever.

I also think that people should give you a copy of the starter's genealogy. Amy's starter begat Susan's starter, who begat Julie's starter, who begat Rachel's starter... I'd like to know just how old the bacteria I'm eating are.

So, I don't know what to do yet for sure, but I am very intrigued about trying coconut pudding in this stuff. Maybe adding in dried pineapple? I think this could be a lot of fun, although possibly also a second job.

Anyone local want some starter?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fastest year ever...

Every so often I notice that the girls look a little bit older, or they act older, or something happens that makes me realize how much they've grown.

Tonight at the dinner table the girls had a lengthy conversation with me about digestion of all things (in simple terms of course, we just talk about tubes and bags inside you, and what they're called, and what happens to the food in the different parts of the system). This was brought on due to Elizabeth's first experience with....hmmm, to keep things delicate...a need for Mylicon. She's never had this problem before, even as a tiny baby she never had a moment's trouble getting any sort of air out of her. So she was hurting and upset, but was willing to be distracted by talk of digestion while Daddy ran to CVS to get Mylicon and consult the pharmacist. since we have never used this miracle drug before. She and Lilli both watch Sid the Science Kid on PBS, and already knew a surprising amount of information about digestion, but we had a good discussion anyway. Which made me realize that not too long ago Lilli wouldn't have been able to follow along with the topic, much less participate and ask questions that showed she understood. And feeling all sentimental about the passage of time, I went into my photo folders to check out last February.

What a difference a year makes indeed.


It amazes me. Where does the time go?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Back when I only had one child, and didn't know many other babies, I naturally thought everything Elizabeth did was amazing, extremely advanced, and super smart.

Of course I did!

And of course it was! We just won't mention to the old me that there were a lot of other amazing babies in the world at the time.

One of the things I liked to do back then (besides photograph practically her every breath) was to take pictures of Elizabeth "reading". I loved to watch her intently study her books.

She has always loved to pore over picture books, loves to be read to, and has a very good memory for any story that she hears or sees. She didn't stop any of these things, but after Lilli was born I had less time to take pictures of moments of contemplation, and was always trying to catch the interactions between the girls or with other people. I hadn't realized that that the above picture was the most recent photo I have taken of Elizabeth holding a book until I went looking for one tonight for this post. I have tons of pictures of people reading to her, but I took them to capture the moment of togetherness with the other person, not with the book.
So, why did I need a picture?
David and I both learned to read at 4. I'm pretty sure his mother taught him how, and possibly considered him a "late reader" at 4, since his older sister had learned to read at a young 3, and quickly went up in reading levels (Her son also learned to read at 3, although it was a late 3). I had a favorite book called "Whose Mouse are You?" that I loved dearly and had memorized. From listening to my mother read it (following the bouncing finger), I knew that the scribbly things stood for each word that she was saying. One day I noticed that the words that sounded the same looked the same. And then I started seeing those words other places. Presumably I knew my alphabet at this time, so I'm sure that helped, although I don't remember anything about that, only about making the connection. I went on from there pretty quickly, and was a voracious reader from early on.
I've always hoped that my children would love books. I don't care if they like fiction or biographies or Manga, but I want them to know the joy of getting lost in a good book. I never cared whether they read early or late, fast or slow, with great comprehension or haltingly, I just wanted them to learn.
When Elizabeth knew the alphabet out of context (meaning she could tell you what letters were in any word she saw, as long as they were capitals, and had the spelling of several words memorized) before she turned 2, I (besides briefly thinking I had a baby genius on my hand, not true, Lilli did the same thing at the same age) thought we were off to a good start with reading. But she didn't suddenly pick up a book and start reading it like I kind of sort of had started to hope that she would. Instead, over the last two years she gotten closer and closer. First she learned to recognize the lower case letters, then she started to haltingly practice writing letters, and then she and David started working on her memorizing what sounds the letters make (we also have one of those magnet things. "A says A and A says 'Ah'"). Slowly she has started to make the connections, to learn the sight words, to recognize words that she sees all the time without sounding them out. She has memorized how to spell even more words, writes letters with much more confidence, even typed me an e-mail with Grandpa's help on the words she didn't know how to spell, and is Getting There.
She's still not a Reader, or rather, is such a new reader, that she won't be getting lost in the Little House books any time soon, but she will be there before we know it. We really value literacy in our home, we read as much as we can, and we treat our books well, and I'm happy to see her excited about reading, and to have not lost her interest in books even though we're making practically all her current experiences with books learning ones, and sometimes you can see that her brain is tired out.
Tonight she read two separate sentences by herself:
"Dear Elizabeth, I love you! Love, Mama"
"We have a cat, her name is Abby."
It may not look like much, but she did not need any help, and that is a milestone.
We went out for ice cream.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spin Cycle: I'll give you some love...

It just isn't the kind you probably had in mind...

My girls Heart Disney.
For other kinds of love, head over to the Spin Cycle hosted by Sprite's Keeper!
P.S. Don't worry, I love husband and my sweet girls more than I am able to express, and I'm firmly in the "Every Day should be Valentine's Day camp". Happy early Valentine's Day to them!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fascinating Fairies

It fascinates me that a child who has never seen Peter Pan could be so in love with Tinkerbell.

Elizabeth knew who Tinkerbell was long before she ever saw either of the Tinkerbell movies. But now that she has seen the movies (and owns one! Thanks Jen!) she wants as much Pixie Hollow paraphernalia as she can get her hands on. She pretty much only has books and some clothing items, but she does have a few well loved Tink figurines (not the ones recently recalled for excessive lead).

If it is possible, she loves some of Tinkerbell's friends even more than she loves Tinkerbell. So she was extremely excited to meet the fairies at the Magic Kingdom. She completely bought into the back story that we were shrinking to fairy size as we walked down the entrance hallway, and that we grew back after exiting, and could hardly contain her glee in the (delightfully short, but still relatively long) line.

When her favorite fairy, Rosetta, greeted her at the door, she couldn't believe her eyes. I know she doesn't look particularly excited in the below picture, but that is due to my camera skills.

We had the best Tinkerbell. She was so funny and genuinely seemed to like the girls. We have way more pictures than necessary of her making faces with them, and the three of them laughing together like best buddies.

The girls were excited to meet Silvermist. They seem to consider her very exotic and mysterious, and they kept talking about how pretty she was after they met her.

We went back to see the fairies on our last day in the parks at Elizabeth's request, being fully prepared and happy to meet Rosetta and Silvermist again if that was who would be available. So when the first fairy they met was Fawn, the girls were surprised and delighted. They had a very cute conversation with Fawn, in which I learned that Elizabeth's favorite animal is an elephant, and Lilli's is lion. I would have said Polar Bear and Cat respectively. That shows how well I know my daughters.

We did meet Tinkerbell again, but the second Tinkerbell was not as charismatic, so we'll just leave her out of the pictoral lineup. She was very nice, and even took note of me telling the cast member that the girls were SO HAPPY TO MEET TINK AGAIN *WINK* *WINK*, she just didn't have the right grin.
And beyond Tink, the super highlight of the trip, the ultimate possible fairy was waiting to greet the girls- Terrence. Elizabeth has such a crush on Terrence. She's developed a thing for Tinkerbell's second movie, and LOVES Terrence's part in it. The phrase "Knick Knock Knicketty Knock" is said way too often around our house for my liking. When she and Lilli play Pixie Hollow, she almost always makes Lilli be Terrence. Fortunately Lilli is a good sport.

The other fairy that Lilli usually has to be (Elizabeth is Tinkerbell of course. She's the bossy older sister, so of course she gets to choose) is Vidia. Elizabeth is very intrigued by Vidia, who, if you are not familiar with Pixie Hollow, is sort of a rude and conceited fairy. She doesn't think any other fairy's talent is as good as her own, and tries at times to get Tink in trouble. Elizabeth finds this naughtiness fascinating, probably because she is generally a Very Good Little Girl herself. So I think if she had met Vidia at the Magic Kingdom, she would have been thrilled.
I wish I had had some sort of schedule that would have let me know when we could have collected the fairies we were missing, so to speak, but I think we got pretty lucky to have some variety, and the girls were so happy.
Can you guess which movies we have watched the most since we came home?
I bet you can!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

They look cute, but it's all a trap...

Here is Elizabeth's beautiful forehead as it is supposed to look:

We were at Animal Kingdom, way in the back, on one of the exploration trails. We were in the Meerkat exhibit, with what felt like half the population of guests at the park that day. It was a beautiful day, and also an Extra Magic Hours day for Disney Resort guests, so of course there were a lot of people there. I would like to pause here and say that of course this was relative. Crowded in February is not at all the same as crowded in June. But still, the Meerkat exhibit was hopping, and I would have moved us along, but the girls LOVE Meerkats. I had no idea they did until we found the exhibit at the Tampa Zoo and were unable to move past it for way too long.

So yes, the Meerkats lured us all in with their evil cuteness, and of course there were tons of people all looking at them the same time. So Elizabeth, who is not as pushy as Lilli (who had barreled her way to the front shoving people's knees aside with abandon), couldn't see. David picked her up and climbed up on a central platform that was about thigh high on an adult, and they watched for a while. Well, I was listening to the cast member talk about what all the various Meerkats were up to, when I, and everyone in the exhibit, heard a horrible THWACK. We all turned at once, but I had the unfortunate advantage of having a reeeeally good idea what that sound meant, and who had caused it, before I even turned around.

It seems that Elizabeth had decided to try to Lilli her way to the front of the enclosure, and David had set her down on the central platform so she could climb down instead of putting her on the ground. Although she has been a little bit more clumsy than normal lately, due to her latest growth spurt, this is not a task that she normally would have found difficult. But this time, she slipped. Not only did she slip, she slipped so fast that she didn't even have time to try to catch herself. She fell flat on her face from almost 3 feet up in the air.

Of course she was sobbing. By the time I pried Lilli away from the Meerkats, because Lilli was probably the only person there who hadn't seen or heard the splat, it was obvious that some damage had been done. I didn't know if we had a concussion, a broken nose, or broken teeth to deal with, and the delay in removing Lilli had me a little upset at the world. I got directions to first aid, which was much farther away than necessary (that's how I felt at the moment, it's actually a lovely centrally located facility), and we hustled over there as fast as possible.

It was clear to the doctor on staff when we arrived what the nature of our visit was (obvious head bump and Elizabeth's first nose bleed), and we went straight into a room. The doctor was very nice and gently cleaned Elizabeth up. We ruled out a broken nose (it was probably protected by Elizabeth's giant forehead. Yay for giant foreheads!) or teeth. Then she started trying to determine if Elizabeth had a concussion. She asked Elizabeth several questions, and to each one, Elizabeth kept saying "I don't know! I can't tell you!" Of course, that freaked me out. I kept flashing back to this girl I knew in 3rd grade, who had been a really nice girl, and then after a basketball knocked her head into the playground blacktop and gave her a concussion, and she had to relearn how to walk and talk, she was never the same nice girl again. I asked Elizabeth, "Do you really not know? Or do you just not want to say?" She said "I just don't want to say!" The doctor said that she would step out for a minute so Elizabeth could calm down. And I told Elizabeth that we were trying to figure out if she needed to go to the hospital, and that she was going to have to answer my questions whether she liked it or not. So she cooperated, and we all felt much better because her ability to do that combined with the fact that she had not lost consciousness mostly ruled out a concussion. Interestingly, whenever Elizabeth hears me tell someone about this whole experience, she always says "Don't forget! She gave me some water!" I guess she feels that was a very significant part of her treatment.

The doctor hooked us up with antibiotic ointment, giant bandaids, materials for more ice packs, and literature on what to watch for in case Elizabeth actually did have a concussion, and turned us loose. We asked Elizabeth if she wanted to go back to the hotel and rest, and she said that she wanted to stay at Animal Kingdom. But she was hugging David at the time, and fell asleep:

The doctor had said it was ok if Elizabeth took a nap, so David hung out with her on a bench, and I took Lilli character hunting. We were very successful, and were met in an hour or so by a much restored Elizabeth. She'd had a good nap and a popsicle, and while still a little groggy, was in a good mood and ready to go on the Safari. She was even willing to pose with her big booboo.
I enjoyed that whenever she used her hands to demonstrate the size of her booboo to inquiring cast members during the rest of our stay, that the bandaid covered booboo grew with every telling, until it eventually had grown to a size bigger than her whole forehead.
Elizabeth's favorite part of visiting the doctor might have been the water, but the doctor also gave us a voucher for the girls to pick out a couple of trading pins (Elizabeth for bravery, Lilli for being a good sister and keeping Elizabeth company), and both girls really enjoyed picking them out. They took forever to do it, but were very happy with their choices. Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure for Elizabeth, Winnie the Pooh for Lilli. Yes, these pictures are poor quality.

I was just happy that Elizabeth was soon back to her old self, and that now, almost a week later, she's almost entirely healed.

I'm still a little bit angry at the Meerkats though.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Annnnnnd.....We're Back!

Back from the House of the Mouse, where we had a wonderful time.

Even during Tuesday and Friday's rain showers (which cleared out the parks beautifully) all I felt was sunshine.

Must have been all that magic in the air, but I only ever saw the golden castle, not the rain clouds behind it.

Lineup for the week: How a certain bunch of Meerkats tried to do in Elizabeth, Fairy Fascination, Then & Now, and other random trip topics of my choosing.

With pictures!

I renamed all 397 pictures yesterday so they would be in chronological order. Ouch.