Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tell me you're kidding, Sprout

So it's April Fool's Day, right? How many two-year old Sprout watchers understand that? There's certainly one who does not, and she lives in my house. See, Sprout thought it'd be cute to "scramble" their line-up for April Fool's Day--which apparently is now called April Fun Day, who knew? That's fine if you're an adult, or I suppose if you have prior notice and can get the DVR programmed; but, when you're two and you depend on your nightly fix of Caillou to get through your nightly routine, it's not so cute. I'll admit, I'm not so sure whether I want to curse Sprout or thank them for changing the line-up. While Emily depends on her Caillou fix, I'd sleep much better without it. She watches less than a half hour of TV per day while she gets a breathing treatment, and it has to be this. Caillou's time slot tonight? Pingu. Quite possibly the only show even worse than whiny Caillou. Who wants to watch clamation penguins waddle around talking like Beaker? I can't believe I'm actually looking forward to bringing back Caillou tomorrow night, although since we broke the Caillou cycle tonight maybe we can replace it tomorrow with something altogether tolerable.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tea for twos, and twos for tea

Our much-anticipated tea party was this afternoon. I had wanted to have a Christmas tea, but Christmas came and went, so we had a mother-daughter tea and egg hunt instead. I had found these great (and cheap) demitasse cups at the Crate and Barrel outlet that were perfect for little "tea" drinkers. We had apple juice for the girls and real tea for the moms along with some tea cakes and other munchies. After getting the girls all "sugared" up, we headed to the front yard to hunt for eggs. Fortunately, after drizzling nearly all weekend it was beautiful outside. The girls ran around the yard collecting eggs, blew some bubbles, and drew some chalk art on the driveway. Emily preferred to sit on the stoop assessing her take from the egg hunt and managed to find and eat all the candy.

My new favorite cookie recipe is this old family tea cake recipe. It makes the cutest little round cookies that taste a lot like the frosted ones from the grocery store bakery:

Tea Cakes

mix together:

2 eggs

2/3 cup oil

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

then add:

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Roll into 1 inch balls. Smoosh with a buttered glass dipped in colored sugar or sprinkles.

Bake at 375 for 8 minutes, makes about 3 dozen.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rollin', rollin', rollin'

Well, despite my best efforts we were unable to secure e-tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll (or "eggroll tickets" as they've become known in our house). I won't dwell on the fact that on-line tickets seemed like a good idea, how it beats getting up before dawn to stand in the rain for hours, or how it seems like we as a society should have figured out how to run an effective ticketing website that doesn't crash repeatedly. Maybe next year.

So, we headed out to Great Country Farms after soccer today for their Marshmallow Harvest and Easter Egg Hunt. I thought the marshmallow harvest idea seemed kind of hokey until I roasted a freshly "picked" marshmallow, bringing back memories of ooey gooey tasty goodness. Emily seemed to enjoy "harvesting" the peeps growing on nearby bushes and "cooking" them over the campfire. She was especially thrilled to eat what she called "candy" before lunch.

After lunch, we met the Easter Bunny and "hunted" for eggs. Ah, preschool egg hunts--more like egg pick-ups. I think the parents were more interested in filling the baskets than the kids were. We probably all have something to learn from these kids, stopping at each egg to examine its color and give it a shake before putting it in the basket. No one even seemed to notice it had been raining all day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring sprang

Thank goodness spring is finally here. Well, ok, so I know we'll have at least one more cold snap before Easter, but at least the grass is green and some of those hundred-some bulbs I sank in the front yard last fall have begun to bloom. We got a little yard work done this morning and a little housework done this evening. In between we had a great afternoon at one of our favorite kidspots -- Frying Pan Farm Park.

It's great to see that Fairfax County still funds this farm with all the farm animals a toddler could dream about. Sheep, goats, pigs, cows, horses, ducks, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, and peacocks make their homes at the park's Kidwell Farm. Free admission and inexpensive wagon rides make it an even more special treat. This time we even took Bailey with us. She was very interested in these strange creatures the likes of which she'd not seen before. Emily enjoyed climbing aboard several antique tractors and "driving" the stationary machinery across her imaginery hay fields.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Make-ahead Monday

I'm back on the wagon with Make-ahead Monday this week. Tonight I made chicken enchiladas for dinner and baked macaroni and cheese for tomorrow night. Done at the same time; no dishes to wash tomorrow.

This very simple mac and cheese recipe is my mother-in-law's:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups uncooked macaroni (I use elbows)
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
2 cups milk
salt, pepper, paprika to taste

Butter casserole dish. Layer cooked macaroni, cheese, salt and pepper, finishing with cheese. Sprinkle top with paprika. Pour milk over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until cheese is bubbly on top and dish has firmed.

Rainy Day Fun

For a rainy weekend, we actually got a lot done. Saturday was Emily's first soccer "class" so we had a first class breakfast on the way there -- drive thru McDonald's eaten at Chick-fil-a. (How's that for compromise?) We picked up a few plants for the yard, and Emily fell asleep on the way home. During her nap I picked up all the sticks in the front yard and planted the new flowers on the stoop. I soon began to rain, and didn't really stop for the rest of the weekend, but after nap we headed back out to pick up dry cleaning, drop off library books, and hit the grocery store. (Pretty much summarizing most weekends around here.)

I had planned to spend today at home--cleaning. Where's the fun in that? I did manage to get three toilets, two sinks, a shower, and the kitchen floor scrubbed. Caught up on dishes, and Andy finished the laundry and vacuumed.

So, Emily and I had a lunch date at the mall. What ever did we do before mall play areas? She had a blast sliding down the tree trunk and climbing on giant alphabet blocks. Then we went to see the fish at LL Bean. She loves to point out the catfish; the others are "goldfish," though they aren't gold and I'm pretty sure they're some kind of bass. We had a lovely "lady's" luncheon at Nordstrom Cafe where all the kids' food groups are represented on the menu: mac and cheese, pizza, chicken fingers, fruit and cheese plate.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


my little cubist!

Literacy Thursday, Goldilocks

This week I decided to review a favorite classic, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This version by Caralyn and Mark Buehner tells the tale with a bit of a modern twist, but not so much that its identity is lost. They add a little mischievous character to Goldilocks as she's skipping along with her jump rope. The bears are also expressive as they encounter Goldilocks in their home. "It's an alien," Little Wee Bear whispered excitedly. The illustrations are wonderful, as they tell the story fully. Emily loves to pick up just about any book and begin, "once upon a time." This is one she can "read" just by following the pictures.

Doggy Do



We still don't know what kind of dog she is, but at least she's less hairy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Literacy Thursday, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is quickly becoming one of my favorite children's books. I had never heard of the book until I noticed that day after day Emily's sheet from school said they had read it in class, so I bought a copy for home. I didn't realize until I looked up the book for my blog that one of the authors, Bill Martin Jr., paired with Eric Carle to write Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (another household favorite).
I chose this book for Literacy Thursday this week because it reminds me of Dr. Seuss' style. "A told B and B told C, 'I'll beat you to the top of the coconut tree. . . '" The rhythm of the book makes it fun to read outloud. Like Seuss' work, it also has great nonsense phrases like, "Skit skat skoodle doot. Flip. Flop. Flee." that you just can't help but read with enthusiasm.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Snowy Day

We weren't home because there were between 4 and 12 inches of snow outside (according to our "accu-"weather forecasters). We were home because Emily barfed yesterday and had to be well for 24 hours before returning to school. Since she had probably suffered from a case of bad fruit and not a virus, judging from the fact that no one else in our household has gotten the bug yet, she was her usual chipper self all day. Trapped. In the house. All day. We tried to go out to build a snowman but there were two problems: 1) It was just too freaking cold, with blowing snow, and a snowsuit safe and sound at school 2) The snow was too powdery to stick together to make said snowman or anything else for that matter. So, we brought the snow inside!

Emily had a blast playing with a kitchen sink full of snow. She shoveled and scooped and "dug for buried treasure." We even fashioned our own snowman, complete with chocolate chip eyes and a sun-dried tomato nose.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Make-Ahead Monday

Ok, so my Make-Ahead Mondays have been pretty lame (or non-existent) lately. The secret is that we've been eating a lot from our Let's Dish stash. (Though tonight Andy made a Chicago-style pizza for this week's Make-Ahead Monday.) We discovered Let's Dish shortly after Emily was born and now we go about quarterly to restock our deep freeze. These meal preparation places seem to be popping up everywhere. It's basically a shop where you pay to assemble meals that you take home and freeze for later. Everything that needs to be pre-cooked is cooked, all the chopping is done. We've enjoyed the ability to control what's in our frozen meals -- since by and large you start with whole foods and can add a little here or take a little out there. We've brought home meals we never would have tried on our own, and we've adapted some of their recipes at home.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's my potty, I can cry if I want to

I'm a believer in letting little kids choose their own adventure, so to speak, when it comes to things that won't hurt them. Markers (washable) instead of crayons, ok fine. Read a book or play with playdough. Mismatched clothes. Fine. (None of this is consistent with my control-freak nature, but I get by.) Anyway, this kid-in-charge attitude has extended to sleep training and breastfeeding, and now to potty training. (I guess it's my take on attachment parenting.)

Unfortunately, we started potty training about ten months ago and sometimes I think we've gone nowhere. I got the potty out when Emily started doing her business in the bathtub at about 18 months. Fortunately, she knew right away what she was supposed to do on the potty. The only catch is that she only uses the potty when the mood strikes her. The more I mention it, the less likely she is to go. I let her choose between pull-ups, training pants, and underwear but her behavior seems the same regardless of what kind of underpants she is wearing. She's not concerned about "keeping Dora (or Tinkerbelle or Elmo) clean" and all the stickers in the world wouldn't tear her away from her toys when she needs to "go." Today she refused to put on a pull-up and also refused to go to the bathroom before we left the house; several hours later, we were pulling over to change wet pants. We've gone through several day stretches without pee accidents, but she nearly always poops in her pants. I think she's just got more important things to do than stop what she's doing to go potty. I keep hoping that one day she'll wake up and say, "ya know, I'm tired of messing up my pants." I just hope that happens before I run out of patience.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Last Lecture

I spent a few days at my grad school alma mater last week, so I decided to pick up a faculty-related book to read during my downtime in the airport and such. Little did I know The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch would be so touching. The story is of a college professor who is dying, leaving behind three small children and a beautiful, young wife. He gives his last lecture in honor of his children, who are most likely too young to remember the depth of his love. The lecture wasn't about dying, it was about living. It really made me stop and think about the legacy I'm leaving Emily.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekend with -eppercorn

So Emily's class pet Peppercorn ("-eppercorn" to her) came home with us this weekend. He comes with a journal and a monogrammed bag, and we are to entertain him until Monday when his adventures will be discussed in class. Oh, the pressure to entertain! His journal records his past weekend adventures for all future parents to judge. Last week he went to the Great Wolf Lodge, where he went on waterslides in the winter! He picked out Christmas trees with at least three families this winter and has gone on countless trips to Grandma's house.

Well, this weekend is restaurant week. Andy and I have planned not just one, but two date nights as a belated Valentine's Day. Andy notes we don't actually have to tell the truth in the journal, though many parents include some photos to document their adventures. We'll see what we come up with; I hope our furry houseguest doesn't think we are bad hosts.

Amazing creativity

I am constantly amazed at the creative women I've stumbled upon in the blogosphere. Just this evening, I've found two novel ideas for generating blog traffic and creating enthusiasm among women bloggers. The Secret is in the Sauce is dedicated to supporting blogs through comments, In addition, they are hosting a fantastic bedroom bliss contest. Another fun blogging diversion I encountered on their site is Where's Wenda, a treasure hunt through comments on all sorts of blogs. In some ways this seems akin to journalists interviewing other journalists, but its a heckofalot more fun.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidents' Day at Smithsonian

Day four of another long weekend, so we headed downtown to the Smithsonian. I'm not sure why we thought we'd be able to drive right up and park by the back door of the Natural History museum, but my trusty backup Reagan Building wasn't too badly priced given the holiday. Emily loves the animals at the Natural History museum even though they don't move. (She provides her own soundtrack.) I think it makes a nice complement to the zoo because she can get so close to the animals at Natural History. I find it a bit creepy the way they have the animals grouped -- walrus, bats, and armadillos side-by-side but by and large the exhibits are very well done. She asked me to take a picture of this hammerhead shark in a jar.

After a visit to the ocean, mammals, and dinosaurs, we decided to head next door to the recently renovated American History museum for lunch and a quick visit. The last time we went to Natural History, we ate at the newly renovated Atrium Cafe. The food was good, but the prices were exhorbitant. American History's cafe was no different. We had barbecue that rivaled a "real" restaurant, but lunch for three at more than thirty dollars was a bit pricey considering Emily had a side dish and a small milk. Since the museums are free, perhaps admission for three at two museums plus lunch all for thirty dollars isn't so bad. It was well-worth seeing Emily get excited about the exhibits. We only had time for two exhibits at American History -- Invention at Play and the Hall of Transportation. The invention area looked like a great place for elementary school aged children to explore with a lot of hands on exhibits. The Hall of Transportation has been recently renovated into a room that flows from horse-drawn trailors and early trains to motorcycles and minivans. There's even a Chicago El train that visitors can climb aboard. Next time we'll have to start at American History so that we have time to see more before naptime.

Make-ahead Monday

This week's make-ahead Monday was made-ahead on Monday for Tuesday because of the Presidents' Day holiday. I made six miniature meatloaves using three different recipes in no time at all. I tried to involve Emily as best as I could, letting her count, pour, and stir. We made the Joy of Cooking traditional meatloaf, their Italian meatloaf variant, and the Dinner Doctor Italian-style mini loaves. I like to make my meatloaf in mini loaf pans for faster cooking and more manageable leftovers. For dinner, we cooked one of the Joy of Cooking loaves and one of the Dinner Doctor loaves, had three servings left over for tomorrow, and froze the other four mini-loaves.

Joy of Cooking Meatloaf
24 oz. ground meat (I used half beef, half pork)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2/3 cup fresh parsely (I use the food processor to mince the onion and parsely)
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp thyme
2/3 cup ketchup
salt and pepper to taste

For Italian style add to the above,
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp oregano

combine ingredients, do not overmix
bake mini loaf 45 minutes at 350 degrees

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Funny Valentine

Our family Valentine adventure started with chocolates at 8 am. (Andy and I both got each other Godiva truffles this year -- further proof that great minds think alike.) We then headed for McDonald's for breakfast on our way to the Metro. Our quick train ride down town was arguably Emily's favorite part of the day. Our destination? Disney on Ice. It was a perfect storm of sorts for Andy -- ice skating meets dance numbers meets cheesy script meets hordes of other people's children. He was a trooper, though, and Emily had a blast. We hadn't really taken her to a show before except for the short ones in Disney theme parks. She was well-behaved, getting restless only toward the end when Mickey Mouse wasn't coming out fast enough for her liking.

After the show, we headed to Nando's peri-peri chicken for lunch. Andy and I last ate there in London while I was pregnant with Emily. I had seen Nando's in three countries but there were none in the States at that point. Now there is one in Washington, DC. We had fond memories of their spicey chicken and very tasty spiced nuts. It did not disappoint. I dare say, though, I liked Emily's meal better than my own. Her barbecue chicken wings were sweet and smokey, her corn on the cob had just the right char. After lunch, it was back to the metro and home for a much-needed nap.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Literacy Thursday, Bunny Kisses

This week's Literacy Thursday pick is perfect for the littlest Valentine.
In the tradition of touch-and-feel books with Pat the Bunny, Bunny Kisses is an interactive board book with something to feel on each page and a button that makes kissing noises. It is a simple, sweet story about the bunny and his friends -- he plays hide-and-seek, tucks puppies into bed, pets the cat, and gives kisses to everyone, especially the reader.

Toddler Time

This week has been hard for me. I've had to compromise more than I am comfortable with because I was simply overbooked. I'm not good at saying, "no" even to myself and especially when it comes to doing all I can do for Emily while also working full-time. So, this week I skipped my monthly "book" club on Monday, didn't pick up Emily's Valentine photos as scheduled on Tuesday, and ordered take-out for dinner on Monday and Wednesday. I DID pick up a prescription on Monday night, bake cookies on Tuesday night, decorate cookies with Emily's class and make a sausage souffle for teachers on Wednesday. Something's got to give right?

So, today was a teacher work day, and Emily and I were home all day. Maybe because I was exhausted from the beginning of the week or maybe because I just hadn't thought too much about what we'd do today, we spent the day on Toddler Time instead of rushing frantically through the day. We slept in until nearly 9 (a full 3 hours extra) and then headed out for a breakfast date at Chick-fil-a (aka "the chicken place"). Emily loves their "tiny tator tots" and had a blast talking (albeit a bit loudly) about all the cows ("MOOOOOO") on the plastic placemat they gave her. We sauntered down the mall toward JC Penney to pick up the pictures I had neglected to retrieve on Tuesday. The mall wasn't quite open yet, so there was no reason to rush. I think it was the first time in a long time that I just let Emily walk at her own pace, pointing out things in shop windows and eyeing the dragon decorations up around the mall for the Chinese New Year. We wandered in a few childrens' shops to browse the sales racks. Emily said she didn't need a sweater because she has one already; I bought it anyway as it's for next year. We mosyed out to the car and cut her pictures apart so that we could put them in Valentine cards she made for grandparents. Her cards turned out really cute, I think -- I just had her stamp red hearts on some plain white cards and I wrote on them when she was done. They took on a modern flair with her wild stamping technique. Finally, we headed out to the post office to buy heart stamps and post her Valentines. She had a blast standing on the counter and putting the cards in the mail slot one-by-one. I don't think the lunch hour post office customers were so amused, but I was so relaxed from a morning on Toddler Time that I didn't care.
Sausage Souffle
1 lb bulk sausage
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
6 slices crustless bread, I used 4 slices with crusts, cubed
1 tsp salt
dash of oregano
1 tsp dry mustard
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
Brown sausage and drain well.
Combine other ingredients, add cheese, and sausage
Pour into casserole. The recipe calls for a 9x9, but I used a 8.5x11.2.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Best when refrigerated overnight before baking.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Free play

A birthday double-header spelled some much-needed mommie time for me this weekend. I took Emily to Lottie's party on Saturday, complete with rock-star-like Ms. Nancy, the school music teacher, singing tunes like "Pop, Pop, Pop, the Bubbles" and "Move Those Sticks." The kids had a blast sticking stickers, eating pizza, and "free play." It also meant that since I took Emily to Saturday's party, Andy took her to Sunday's party at the Little Gym and I got FREE PLAY!

So, I hit three discount stores, the ones with department store overstocks and odd gourmet candies, hoping to find a simple pair of black heels and some work clothes. I made it through two of them before getting sucked into the children's department. What is it about kids clothes that makes them irresistible? Emily scored two pair of shoes and an Easter dress out of my shopping trip. I treated myself to lunch and picked up a few things for my Valentine. Finally, I stopped in Nordstrom on the off-chance I could find some shoes to buy with a gift card from Christmas. Oh, the good life. It's not very often that I shop at a place with the calibre of service one finds at Nordstrom. Thelma, the most wonderful shoe sales lady ever, found not one, but three pairs of black heels for me. (I only bought one, and it was with a gift card, but it sure was fun!)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Literacy Thursday, More Parts

This week's book is one that I found hilarious but which I should have previewed before reading to Emily. The little boy in More Parts by Tedd Arnold is worried by common expressions he hears from grown-ups such as "broke your heart," "jump out of your skin," and "give him a hand." The boy in the story is afraid that he might run out of parts.
Since Emily really doesn't understand these expressions, she might have been more frightened than amused by the story (though she didn't say much either way.) The vivid story and illustrations are quite clever and the gross factor is likely to be appealing especially to little boys.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Make-ahead Monday

Ok, so tonight's dinner couldn't have been much easier. We had chili dogs! As with many dishes we cook around here, this one is our take on a favorite mom and pop restaurant. In this case, the chili dog reminds us of Ben's Chili Bowl, a DC landmark that I've not personally visited but whose food I have eaten at Nationals games (ok, so it was only one game, but the chili dog made that much of an impression). Anyway, I made the chili ahead on Saturday when we ate it in a bowl with cornbread and cheddar cheese. Tonight, all I had to do was heat up the leftovers, pile a top hot dogs grilled on a grill pan, and sprinkle with cheese. It's not one of my healthiest meals, but it sure was good. Emily ate a dog and a half, a pile of cheese, and two cups of applesauce.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Miracle babies

Faith, hope, and love, the greatest among these is love. Tonight I am reminded of a dear friend Susan's children and their family's work with the March of Dimes on behalf of babies everywhere. Now 6-years old, when Jake and Abby were born 92 days early they had only a 50-50 chance of survival. Jake weighed 1 lb. 15 oz., and Abby weighed 1 lb. 13 oz. That’s about the size of a beanie baby bear…or as one of their doctors put it, a good sized cheeseburger. They experienced a range of difficulties at birth, not the least of which was breathing on their own. Jake had three surgeries before ever leaving the hospital. Both kids had RSV, a life threatening and permanently damaging respiratory virus. Both of them also had severe brain hemorrhaging, causing permanent brain damage.

Abby has substantial hearing loss, and Jake has mild cerebral palsy as a result of the damage. But that certainly doesn’t stop them from doing anything! In fact, to know Jake and Abby, you would have NO IDEA that they were born so early. They are truly miracle babies.

No one is working harder than the March of Dimes to understand the causes of prematurity and birth defects. That's why Jake and Abby's family and friends are participating in the March for Babies as a Family Team. Family Teams are made up of friends and family who want to honor babies – babies born prematurely or with a birth defect, babies who didn’t survive, or healthy, full-term babies. Premature birth touches half a million babies and their families every year. Babies born too soon are more likely to die or have disabilities. Birth defects pose another serious threat – taking the lives of many babies and cause lifelong disabilities for thousands more. So it’s important for us to help the March of Dimes help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.

To find out more, visit or Susan's site at to join TEAM FONTANA or make a donation to support them. Walk for a special child in your life – a healthy baby, a premature baby, or a sick one. Walk for all babies.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Literacy Thursday, Itsy Bitsy Spider

I've finally gotten around to participating in Literacy Thursday by blogging about one of our favorite children's books. I'm always looking for creative things to read that are both educational and entertaining.

This modern twist on the classic, Itsy Bitsy Spider by Keith Chapman, brings together fun illustrations, rhyming, and alliteration into a short book that preschoolers love. The spider, "spinning silver silk webs high up in a barn," bounces from one farm animal to another and finally in the safety of his mom's web. This book is one of Emily's favorites -- I think the combination of animals, sounds, and a fun ending she can anticipate make it especially fun.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Make-ahead Mondays

In hopes of perpetuating this trend I've developed of making my Monday supper on Sunday night, I'm instituting "Make-ahead Mondays." Tonight's dish was a Chicago-style pizza.

Chicago-style pizza (the easy way)

refrigerated pizza crust--I like the fresh kind and would make my own in the bread machine if I could keep yeast "alive"
sliced mozzerella
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage, mild
can of crushed tomatoes
oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, garlic powder to taste
10" round cake pan.

Sunday night:
Spray cake pan, spread pizza dough across the bottom
lay cheese slices on dough
spread raw (yes, raw) sausage on the cheese, leaving about an inch of crust sticking out sides
cover with plastic wrap along the surface of the sausage and refrigerate

Monday night:
remove pizza from refrigerator to bring closer to room temperature
preheat oven to 425
spread crushed tomatoes, seasoned to taste, across sausage
bake 35-45 minutes until browned and bubbly.

Andy and I (wanna-be-foodies) enjoy eating our way through travels and trying to replicate local specialties when we get home. We rarely succeed completely, which keeps traveling interesting, but our copies are close enough to bring back fond memories of our travels. Tonight, we could smell Lou Malnati's without leaving home.

I'm on wheels!

I have no idea what she meant, but Emily was yelling, "I'm on wheels!" over and over again as she raced through the house in only her pull-up on Sunday night. She was in a particularly fiesty mood. She didn't want to do anything that might please me: eat dinner, sit on the potty, put on pajamas, move her toys back to the playroom, etc. We finally had to tell her that she was missing her favorite shows with all of her shenanigans--the longer it continued, the more TV time ticked away (it goes pretty quickly when you only see a half hour a day). I think the message finally sunk in when she was down to a single episode of Caillou. She was better tonight, but we've got to do something before we end up with a kid with an exaggerated sense of entitlement.

I've read that taking things away is not effective for toddlers -- the key is earning privileges rather than losing them. So, I'm thinking I've got to start some kind of reward chart. This led me to, which has a pretty cool downloadable chore chart. I'm debating whether to wrap potty training into the chart too or whether that'd just be too much for Emily to understand. Andy and I might start charts for ourselves too with stickers for working out, picking up, and washing dishes. I've been looking for some local art for my walls lately, maybe this is just the ticket!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

That's why they call it a long weekend

Four long days at home together, and we emerge victorious. (At least I hope we'll emerge, since we now all have colds.) I'm really not complaining about having four days to spend with my family, I'm just not sure I've got the stamina to make it fun for everyone.

Day 1, we headed to My Gym for Emily's weekly class. She had a blast sliding into the ball pit and jumping on the trampoline. Andy and I had a date of sorts in the afternoon and enjoyed lunch at Coastal Flats and a meal-prep session at Let's Dish. I feel slightly guilty about paying someone else to do the shopping and cut up the vegetables for me, but having quick, tasty meals on-hand is well-worth it. I like being able to alter the recipes--a little more cheese, a little less onion--unlike grocery-store prepared foods.

Day 2, we hosted a pizza-making playdate (complete with tickle-torture pictured here). The girls couldn't have cared less about eating the pizzas they created, but we had fun. Emily flips into "show-off mode" any time a friend comes by. The nice side effect to this is that she plays with toys she's ignored for months.

Day 3, we headed out for a special breakfast and then back to My Gym for a make-up class. Since we had been there a few days before, the class was the same more-or-less. Emily seemed to LOVE that, presumably because she could predict what was going to happen next. She has gotten really brazen lately, and was even telling the coaches what steps they had missed in the routine when they did things a little differently than the coaches from two days before. Everyone seemed to take it all in stride. That evening, I had a play date of my own and met a friend at the ice rink. It had been four years and a baby since I had been to the rink, eight years since I had skated nearly every day. It felt great to get back on the ice and discover that I could still do a spin or two (barely).

Day 4, just when we thought we had this stay-at-home thing under control, Emily managed to go through the house like a tornado, undoing all the cleaning we had done before the Day 2 playdate. And she talked. Non-stop. All day. She tends to provide color commentary for everything she does and repeats herself constantly: "Me-may changing Bertha, Bertha stinky, Me-may get diaper for Bertha, Me-may making lunch for babies, Me-may make lunch, Me-may changing Bertha . . . " Most of the time it is cute to see what is going through her head. Today it was simply too much. Maybe because we were trying to watch the inauguration coverage, maybe because we were feeling slightly trapped because of said inauguration's road closures, maybe because we were all a bit under the weather. I feel slightly guilty admitting that I'm ready for a quiet day at the office.