Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ice cream machine

When I was younger, our family always got together on July 4 at someone's house that had a large yard and we would often make ice cream with an old-school ice cream maker with ice and a hand crank. It was always yummy but often runny (because we were too impatient to churn it enough or to put it in the freezer after it was done).
Now we are in Seattle where the weather is fair and they don't seem to take ice cream as seriously. Whereas in Minneapolis we had the choice of two different Dairy Queens to walk to on a hot summer day, we have to actually DRIVE to Dairy Queen (and pay a toll!) if we want some in Seattle. You can imagine our delight when a great ice cream place opened in our very neighborhood, called Molly Moon's. Despite being mediocre ice cream, they became wildly popular because they had the right combination of yuppy flavors (like salted caramel and blackberry sage), organic ingredients and locally-sourced food items. Eventually, they modified their recipes until their ice cream became pretty decent. Over time it became one of our top favorites, although we would never dare compare it to one of the wonderful midwest creameries.

Last year, Molly Moon's ice cream published a recipe book which inspired the appearance of one of the new-generation ice cream makers - made by Cuisinart - under our Christmas tree. For the first flavor we chose cinnamon. It's a surprisingly simple recipe; milk, sugar, cream, cinnamon.You cook it, cool it, stick it in the machine (which cools it some more and churns it for you - no hand crank!), and then voila! Ice cream!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas in Seattle

Highlights of our holiday (spent in Seattle):

- Layla in either her princess dress or her swimsuit (sometimes with butterfly wings)
- Santa dropping off an unexpected supply of chocolate and candy canes, and gobbling up some cookies
- An ice cream maker, for making pink and purple ice cream (and a recipe book)
- A large amount of pee on someone's living room floor
- Skyping, all morning
- Lots of holiday cheer and a few holiday tears (particularly at nap time)

All in all, we survived - I'm kind of glad we stayed in Seattle, at least this year. It was all kind of overwhelming for Layla and this way we could take it at our own pace (e.g. it took almost all day to get about half the presents open). We got together with some good friends on Christmas Eve, which sort of made up for the lack of family. We also spent most of the afternoon watching TV (including Sleeping Beauty, a gift from Grandpa K), and reading all her new and recent library books.

I hope everyone had a nice holiday!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

All ready for Christmas!

Our tree is up, stockings are out, cards have been sent, egg nog is bought, and... Amazon has delivered. Seriously, we have almost 20 empty Amazon boxes in our living room waiting to be broken down. Is this how every family does Christmas now? This year, I made an effort to buy some presents at local shops... but then I ended up sending them all out in Amazon boxes.

When you have Amazon boxes coming in with presents from relatives, your spouse, yourself for your spouse, and both your spouse and yourself for your kid, and all of them have your spouse's name on them (because you forgot to be clever when you ordered the stuff), you start getting a little confused about who should open what. At first, when there was only one package a day, we made educated guesses that were mostly correct. But this past week we were getting too many to keep track of. To make things worse, we get lots of other stuff through Amazon too so in the middle of the Large Pile Of Boxes were diapers and other things we actually wanted to use. Fortunately we finally got through it all this afternoon and everything is now wrapped - and correctly tagged - and under the tree. Hopefully there aren't a any present mishaps this year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Layla's Santa

Layla's beginning to get the idea of Santa. She tells us she wants him to bring her 'pink and purple ice cream, rosemary, and lavender' and she hopes he brings the Studly Hubby and I toothbrushes in our favorite colors. Tonight she wrote him a 'letter' where she said, "dear Santa, thank you for the presents, I love you" (she yelled it afterwards like maybe he could hear her).

The funny thing is, she's actually leaving the presents alone that we've put under the tree - we are amazed. Although she did throw a few of them across the room while she was pitching a fit the other day. Please, those of you who may be sending presents, be sure they are well-padded.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Potty training and other adventures

We are in full-throttle potty training mode these days. We have extra motivation because Layla is moving up to the 'pre-school' room next month where most of the other kids are potty trained. She hates being wet and learned right away how to hold her pee all day so she didn't wet herself... but didn't get the idea of actually peeing in the potty at all. For two months now she's been requesting a diaper whenever she has to go pee. We've tried explaining, reasoning, bribing, scheduling, and even hiding the diapers to get her to pee on the potty and none of it worked (the daycare recommended we back off so we don't create a bigger fight). Finally she started peeing so much in her diapers that they've been leaking and that seems to be motivating her (like I said she hates being wet). Tonight she finally peed in the potty, and we're hopeful we're on the right track.

In other news for the past four months we've dealt with a variety of other troublesome toddler behaviors. In August and September there were excessive night time wakings (I'm talking 6-10 times per night), which really fried both of us. Then in October and November it transformed into frequent and very long, loud crazy tantrums. We think she resumed sleeping because of some sleep training we did (the toddler version, a bit more painful than the first time around but equally effective). We learned how to divert many of the tantrums but still had at least one a day for a while, and several really outrageous public disasters including one at the airport. Now, finally, she is both sleeping and the tantrums have ebbed. We are hopeful things are getting better. We're still dealing with some little problems like she will only wear a swimsuit and it takes us forever (like almost 2 hrs) to get out the door in the mornings but these seem manageable compared to the other problems. Now I finally get why some parents don't seem to care about some things.

We've started finding and reading books on how to manage 'spirited' children which has been really insightful. My mom gave me one book in particular about what spirited children turn into - 'highly sensitive people' - it's a wonderfully positive take on how this can be a really good quality. I can really see what they mean and hope it's true!

Freshening up the blog

After about 5 years of changing nothing on my blog, including the links, I finally freshened up the layout and links a little today while I was procrastinating doing a bunch of other stuff. I'm not sure what inspired it, except that I keep finding other blogs that are so much better looking than mine and I decided to finally do something about it.

I'm really a big fan of the whole blog idea and hope that it never dies. Thanks to those of you who are still reading despite my infrequent posts!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Holiday lists

(for anyone who is interested - I'm not trying to get my friends to buy me stuff, I'm just trying to put a list in a convenient place for those who need it)

For Layla:
- art supplies including stamps, paper cutters, kid-friendly scissors, washable paints (finger paints are good!), watercolors, papers
- anything disney princess or Backyardigans
- puzzles, activity books, sticker books
- toy kitchen stuff (play food, play cooking supplies)
- 3-yr age appropriate lego sets or another building set
- miniature sets (e.g. tiny play kitchen or dollhouse type stuff)
-pink and purple nail polish (non-toxic please)
- size 3-4T tops and bottoms, in particular sweaters, elastic waist pants, size 8 shoes

For me:
- lavender/almond/vanilla/honey/oatmeal scented soap, bath or body oil, bath salts, bubble bath (if the Soap Opera is still open they always have good stuff, otherwise I like California Baby products)
- socks from Gap or similar place
- fancy hair clips
- any recommended books on ornery toddlers
- Aveda Stress-fix body lotion or soaking salts, rosemary mint collection shampoo, conditioner, soap
- running shirt (long-sleeve or short, size medium)
- Clinique 'whole lotta color' or 'kisses' collection
-any Theo chocolate product

For Derek:
-Star Wars thumb drive
-Amazon gift card (for photography stuff)
-socks (running socks and regular socks)
-running shirt, size medium
-picture frames, 5x7 or any size
- Justin Bieber CD

Going to the LIBRARY!!

We've started going to the library. When I was little, I was an avid fan of the library, going on a very regular basis to both the public and school libraries. I would rip through as many books as I could and even revel in just hanging out there and reading.

Now, I see Layla doing the same thing. She LOVES the library (although she's still getting the hang of being quiet there, sometimes we have to cut our visit short). Nowadays I get online, pick out some stuff, then it gets delivered to our branch library which is almost next door. We go over there, wander around a bit, then pick up the stack of books I requested and head home. She spends the whole week fascinated with her books, then just as she gets sick of them... we go back. I've taken this as an opportunity to get some books for myself as well, and have been devouring them at a dizzying speed. Here are some of the things we've fallen in love with.

Books I have recently loved:

Where did you go, Bernadette? Written by a Seattleite who used to live in LA, it's about... a Seattleite who used to live in LA, who gets a little crazy and then disappears. It's absolutely hysterical, especially if you have lived in Seattle or LA. The author, Maria Semple, is my new favorite. She used to write for TV shows like "Mad About You" and "Arrested Development." I like her so much I've 'liked' her on FB.

The Books of Pellinor. This epic adventure - laid out in four books, the first of which is called "The Naming" - was sort of published and forgotten about a decade ago. My mom found them at a garage sale and our whole family has devoured them. It is like Lord of the Rings except with a female hero and a more modern language. The author pretends like it is a historical manuscript, recently found and translated, but deep on her website I found admittance that this is not true (she made a pretty big effort so it seemed like it could be true!).

Other books I've read recently: Hunger Games (as good as they say), the Host by Stephanie Meyer (of Twilight, I thought it was pretty good), 50 Shades of Grey (as raunchy as they say), and several books on how to manage ornery toddlers.

Books Layla has loved:

Anything by Laura Numeroff ("If you give a mouse a cookie"), Lucy Cousins (the "Maisy" books), Eric Carle, SHARK VS. TRAIN by Chris Barton (a random find and excellent book) and all Disney princess books.

The holidays

For the holidays, Layla decided to wear her swimsuit.

She puts it on the minute she gets up (we somehow convince her to change into clothes for daycare), and the minute she gets home. She wears it to breakfast, lunch and dinner. She would wear it EVERYWHERE, except we like to consider ourselves somewhat competent parents and so far we've held off letting her go outside in it, in December, when it's almost freezing out, because that seems like something somewhat competent parents wouldn't do.

Our attitude is, a swimsuit is better than being naked, which would be her next favorite choice. It's only slightly worse than her pajamas, which was her favorite choice last month. And it's definitely better than the princess dress she wore most of the time we were visiting family in Iowa over Thanksgiving vacation.

What we decided we really ought to do is just let her wear it, and maybe even take her swimming. That seems like something somewhat competent parents would do.