Thursday, October 30, 2008

Better than Flipping a Coin

I just asked Samantha who I should vote for, McCain or Obama.  She said Obama.

Knowing her penchant for repeating the last word I say, I went back a minute later and asked her who I should vote for, Obama or McCain.  She said Obama.

To a 2 year old, the dude just has a cool sounding name, and that's about the most fundamental distinction I can find between the two of them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Why is it that my husband is willing to dust, does a great job at it, and even does it without me nagging him, but is completely incapable of returning the duster to its place in the cabinet?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Her Dad Has Been Dreading this Moment

The other day at her daycare, Samantha was dancing with her friend, Robert:

Her other friend, Ignacio, didn't like that one bit:

A fight ensued:

Robert won:

As we were leaving day care today, we stopped in the lobby to put on Sam's coat and hat.  Both Robert and Ignacio were in the lobby with their teacher.  Ignacio brought Sam a package of crackers.  Robert came over and tried to take it away from her. 

Then, as we walked out the door Sam said, "Bye bye Nachie.  Bye bye Wobie."  That was the first time she really used other kids' names properly.  Lord help us!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Manipulation or Sense of Humor?

Tonight I asked Samantha if she wanted water or milk to drink with dinner.  She said "WATER, MILK." (Pronounced, WAA-EE-MICK.)  I asked again.  She said something unintelligible but used sign language to say, "WATER."  I said, "OK, water," and turned back to the kitchen.  As soon as I was out of sight she called out, "MILK!"  I went back - "Milk?"  "YES," she said.  I went around the corner.  She called, "WATER!"  I went back to the table - "You want water?"  She said, "WATER."  I said, "Are you sure?"  She said yes and she got me again as soon as I left the room: "MILK!"  I came back and said, "Are you working me?" 

She giggled.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Little Thing

I don't know which I love more: the way Samantha pronounces "animal," AM-MEE-YO or the fact that I understand her.

The Terrible Twos Are Here

Samantha did this today.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Forgive me, Internet, for I have sinned.  It has been 185 days since my last confession. 

I watch too much TV.

From Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I learned to use wet toilet paper to wipe up the dusty hairy gunk from the bathroom counter before using a cleaning product.

From The Newleywed Game, I learned to use pubic hair to lather up soap in the shower.

From the The Man Show, I learned to throw dry garments in the dryer with a wet towel to steam out the wrinkles.

At least you can say that you learned these handy tips from a blog.  I, however, am off to say 5 Hail Hiro's and 4 Our Father Who Art in Prison's.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Little Thing

My daughter's first true romp through the fallen leaves of autumn.

Guide Your Child

The one thing that has most helped me to become a better mom is the parenting course I took with Cornelia Lockitch about 9 months ago.  I know I have quite a few readers out there with young children, and many of you share my basic parenting philosophy.  Some of you may have even heard of Cornelia and her work.  If you just needed a little nudge to take a closer look, here it is.  If you've never heard of Cornelia or never considered taking a class in parenting, I hope I can convince you that a little professional help can go a long way, if you find the right professional.

Cornelia is a Montessori-trained teacher and the founder of Guide Your Child Parenting Resources.  She applies Montessori principles to home life with toddlers and preschoolers to help parents "delight in their child's early years by giving them a practical framework for understanding, talking to, and guiding their young child."  At her website, you can sign up for her free e-newsletter and download a 20+ page report called, "The 3 Simple Child-Management Secrets Montessori Teachers Know...and No Parent Should Be Without."  These freebies are great, but the real value comes with talking to her one-on-one about how you can challenge your child while nurturing his or her natural independence and curiosity.

At the abstract level, Cornelia explained to me Montessori's 4 sensitive periods: movement, language, order, and sensorial exploration.  She taught me how to look for signs that Samantha was immersed in one or more of these periods.  As a result, I take a few minutes each week to ask myself, "What is Sam in to now," and I use the framework Cornelia taught me to help decipher Sam's behavior and plan activities for the week.

We discussed different views of the parental role, and how both the "buddy" and the "disciplinarian" models fail the child.  I can't tell you how many times I catch myself falling into one of those roles and recall Cornelia's simple and elegant view.  Go read her website and newsletter and you'll get the flavor of it.

Cornelia gave me 6 concrete ways to apply the principle of advance preparation, 7 specific ways that I could encourage language development, at least 30 age-appropriate activities that I could try with Sam, and probably over 20 tips for setting up our home so as to foster Sam's independence in day-to-day life.  All of this advice was customized to Sam's age, development level, and to our family situation.  Cornelia even took into account the fact that we were living in a tiny 800 square foot rental house at the time. 

I visited 2 Montessori preschools this past week and used the advice that Cornelia gave me about how to assess the quality of a Montessori school.  I'll write more about that as my hunt for the right school for Sam continues.

The best endorsement I can give Cornelia, though, is the testimonial I wrote for her website:
Thanks to Cornelia, I am a much more confident parent.  Before I took her parenting coaching program, I was trying to follow some of the Montessori principles, but I was not always sure how to put them into practice-especially when my daughter was only sixteen months old and not walking yet!  Cornelia gave me so many practical ways to put my ideas into action.  She showed me that it wasn't too early to show my daughter how to put away her own shoes, help with diaper changes, and clean up after a meal.  Now I know how to challenge my daughter with interesting activities without overwhelming her, and she loves it!  We communicate better, and best of all, my confidence allows me to enjoy my time with my daughter without self-doubt and confusion.  Thank you, Cornelia! 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Little Thing

When I give Samantha a bite of whatever I am eating, she takes the biggest bite she possibly can.  I love the greed of a child.

I Need to Pay More Attention to Advertising

I was so proud of myself for getting Samantha to eat from a plate with 3 or 4 different foods on it, but it didn't last.  She's been fighting us at mealtime ever since, and she almost never eats her vegetables.  I caved and bought a couple of those plates with sections.  We tried one tonight and she ate some of everything.  She even ate spinach!  

It's not that she doesn't like her different foods touching each other - even on the regular plate there was plenty of room to keep the foods separated.  She loves to dip and mix things.  She dips fish sticks in milk and puts peas in her cereal, ok?  She just seems to like defined little areas for each thing.  It's like her mind goes into overdrive with all those things in one container.  PROCESSING....PROCESSING...TOO MUCH INPUT...DOES NOT COMPUTE.

I guess that's why those sectioned plates exist.  I never paid any attention to them.  I suppose I'll be buying a minivan soon too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Why is it that sidewalk chalk comes off the sidewalk with a light rain, but won't come out of clothes with soap and water?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Atlas Shrugged

When Samantha was born, on September 2, 2006, I thought there was something special about the date.  September 2.  September second.  9/2.  Sept. 2nd.  What was it that made that date so familiar?  Finally, I realized that it was the date in Atlas Shrugged that was often noted on the calendar hanging over the city.  Ayn Rand used the trick of characters noting that date to help readers mark the time as years pass in the story.  I always wondered if the date had any significance to her. 

I found out from The Ayn Rand Institute that September 2 was the date that Ayn Rand began writing the novel.  A day for great beginnings, indeed.

Today is the 51st anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged.   I suppose this is the book's real birthday, even though I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for September 2. 

Fifty-one years old and still going strong.  If you haven't read it lately, now is a great time.

Champagne Grapes

GrapesI'm still sick, so I'll continue with my recommendations to close out the week.  This is a true Little Thing: champagne grapes, aka Black Corinth grapes.  My supermarket carries them and I've been tempted to try them all summer, but only bought some last week.  They are tiny little packages of nectar.  So sweet and delicate.  Their tiny size enhances the experience of eating them because you don't chew them at all, you just kind of pop them open with your tongue and they explode with goodness.  They're like natural Pop Rocks.

Samantha loves grapes and before I trusted her chewing abilities, I spent many hours cutting and tearing up grapes into baby size pieces.  I'm pretty sure these champagne grapes would have been safe for her before she was a year old.  I wish I had known about them then.

It turns out that these are the grapes they use to make currants, the little tiny raisins.  Since regular raisins are also a choking hazard, I've been giving Sam currants instead.  We call them baby raisins and she loves them.  (I should have deduced that the existence of baby raisins meant there existed baby grapes too.)  The currants are great for salads and also in recipes that call for raisins when you want a finer distribution of the sweet.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Amazing Zucchini Pie

I subscribe to this awesome recipe service, The Six O'Clock Scramble.  They send me 5 recipes each week which I can customize.  Each meal is fast and easy and includes side dishes, which helps me to remember the veggies.  The best part is that I hit a button and I get an automatically generated shopping list with all the ingredients I need for the week.

This is such an easy way to cook healthy meals without spending a lot of time planning.  It also prompts me to try new things and maintain a good variety of foods in my diet.  If you struggle with cooking for your family, you really should try this service for a few months.  Here is one of my favorite recipes from the service, reprinted here with permission:

Amazing Zucchini Pie

 Many Scramble subscribers and friends of ours are crazy about this vegetable pie, originally suggested by Jackie Cohen.  It is mild and simple enough to appeal to the palates of many kids, as well.  Serve it with Garlic Cheese Bread and an Ambrosia Fruit Salad. 

  • 1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil

  • 2 zucchini, or use yellow squash, thinly sliced (4 - 5 cups)

  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil

  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

  • 1 prepared pie crust

  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the zucchini and onions until (about 10 minutes).  Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and oregano. 

Press the pie crust into a pie dish and spread the mustard evenly over the crust.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cheese and zucchini mixture.  Pour everything into the pie crust and spread it evenly.

Bake it for 30 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.  (Meanwhile, prepare the Garlic Cheese Bread and the fruit salad, if you are serving them.)  Allow it to cool for a few minutes and cut it into wedges to serve it (or refrigerate it for up to 24 hours or freeze it for up to 3 months.) 

Scramble Flavor Booster: Use Swiss, Gruyere, or another type of sharp cheese, rather than the mozzarella. 
SERVE WITH GARLIC CHEESE BREAD & AMBROSIA FRUIT SALADTo make Garlic Cheese Bread, preheat the broiler or set the toaster oven to broil.  Split 4 whole wheat pita pockets or sub rolls in half lengthwise.  Spread the tops (the uneven insides) with a light coating of butter or margarine, sprinkle them with garlic powder, and top them with a small handful of part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese.  Put them under the broiler until the cheese melts and bread turns golden, about 3 minutes.To make an Ambrosia Fruit Salad combine 2 Tbsp. plain nonfat or low fat yogurt or sour cream, 1/8 lemon, juice only (about 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice), and 1 Tbsp. honey in a medium bowl.  Add about 6 cups of cut fresh fruit, such as cantaloupe, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and/or grapes, and stir gently.  
Nutritional Information per serving (% based upon daily values)
Calories: 200; Total Fat: 12g, 18%; Saturated Fat: 5g, 23%; Cholesterol: 65mg, 22%; Sodium: 520mg, 22%; Total Carbohydrate: 11g, 4%; Dietary Fiber: 1g, 4%; Sugar: 1g; Protein: 11gNutritional Information per serving with sidedish (% based upon daily values) (with 1 slice garlic cheese bread (1/2 pita))
Calories: 449; Total Fat: 20g, 31%; Saturated Fat: 7g, 32%; Cholesterol: 73mg, 25%; Sodium: 776mg, 33%; Total Carbohydrate: 52g, 18%; Dietary Fiber: 5g, 19%; Sugar: 19g; Protein: 19g

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Overdoing It

I'm still sick with this cold I've had for 5 days and counting, so blogging will probably continue to be light for a few days.  Today I'll just make a long overdue addition to my product recommendations. 

OxiClean must be the best cleaning product ever.  I mostly use it to spot clean the carpet.  It takes out everything I've tried it on: wine, coffee, cat puke, blueberry.  It's great for laundry, too.

Somewhere in all the moves we made last year, I lost the squirt bottle I had always used for my OxiClean.  (I buy the powder and mix it with water or throw a scoop in the laundry.)   When we arrived at the house we're renting now, I didn't bother getting a new bottle and making any because I was just too overwhelmed to think about cleaning.  The carpet here is already old and stained and I just figured, why bother?

Well, new stains were still happening and the living room carpet was beginning to disturb me.  Yesterday I finally reached my limit and I made some OxiClean in a measuring cup.  I must have spot cleaned 20 stains.  It didn't matter how old they were, every single one came out.  And I didn't have to scrub or rinse.  All I did was put a bit of OxiClean on a paper towel, soak the stain, and then rub it a bit.  The difference in the carpet is amazing, and it's so easy.

I had also purchased a can of Resolve High Traffic cleaner.  It's one of those foams that you spray and then vacuum.  Before I tried the OxiClean I had tried the Resolve and it didn't take out a single stain.  It might have made the carpet a bit cleaner overall, but not in any way that I could discern.  Baking soda is cheaper and probably works just as well.

If you noticed, I did all this work while I was sick.  I had been stuck at home doing nothing for 4 days and Sam was finally back at day care and I felt a bit better.  I did what I always do when recovering from a cold: I overdid it.  Not only did I clean the carpet in two ways (including vacuuming 3 times), I rearranged the furniture.  I hauled a huge bamboo trunk up the stairs and carried a rocking chair down the stairs.  It just felt so good to be able to accomplish something and I couldn't stop myself.  I didn't feel too bad yesterday even after all the work, but today I am much worse.  

I'm sure someday I'll learn to remember that I need to take it easy after a cold, even if I feel better.  I mean, I'm finally wise enough to stop getting a sunburn at the beginning of every single summer before I remember how bad it is and start using sunscreen.  But I still do too many sit ups every time I start a new workout regime.  And I'm writing a much longer post than I had intended, since I really should be resting.  These seem like silly little things that many people do, but this is day-to-day long range thinking, and it's something I'm working on.

In the meantime, I'm going to go rest, eat some soup, drink some OJ (I can finally feel good about that acronym again!), and watch Sesame Street.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Sam Update - Twenty Five Months Old

Sit N Spin

As always, Sam is both the same and different than she was last month.

  • She still likes Little Bear, but now she also likes Elmo.

  • She still likes sausage, but now she also likes ham.

  • She still gets ear infections, but now she also gets ringworm.

  • She still likes a lullaby at night, but now she also sings along with us.

  • She still likes french fries, but now she also likes a Filet O' Fish.

  • She still says yellow, but now she also says blue, brown, purple, and green.

  • She still likes Cheerios, but now she also likes Rice Krispies.

We still love her, but now just a little bit more than we did last month.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What's Your Favorite Letter?

Sam is sick again so we're watching Sesame Street right now.  She's been very interested in the alphabet lately and has been pointing to and naming letters.  Sesame Street was doing an alphabet skit and Sam was saying a lot of the letters when they came up on the screen.  But after "H" she stopped and said, "Y." I told her, "that's K; that's L," but she just said "Y" a few more times and then waited for it to appear.  After it came and went, she said, "Bye bye Y. Bye bye Y.  Bye bye Y."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Little Thing

Sam pronounces vegetable, beg-a-bow, and will say it over and over just to see me giggle every time.