Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Open Letter

An Open Letter to Teacher Donna or Any Other Seasoned Moms in Blogland:

I need some good advice and I don't know where else to turn.

I'm having trouble with limit-setting. I know that it's vitally important for Katie's self-esteem and general emotional growth, but I am really struggling. I'm not talking about small limits, like "no, you can't have a cookie before dinner." We handle those just fine, and if she cries and screams, we either distract her or just let her vent her feelings, or sometimes a combination of both.

I'm talking about some normal daily activities that have recently turned into an enormous power struggle: diaper changes, nap time, and bedtime.

Katie has recently decided that she would rather not have a diaper on; at least, not when I'd like to put one on her. She has no problem wearing diapers, as long as it's her idea. Sometimes she even comes up to me with a clean diaper and cheerfully says, "New one!" Other times (much more often) she will kick, thrash, and scream like a crazy person if I try to put a diaper on her. She is very energetic and very strong, and if I do succeed in wrestling the diaper onto her, she will jump up like a ninja and rip it right off, screaming all the while. I'd like to follow her lead on this, and I often do, but the fact is that sometimes we need to put on diapers in order to get dressed and leave the house.

How can I put diapers on Katie without the power struggle? I feel that if I let her be in charge, I'm failing as a parent. I want to set limits. I am very comfortable with the "kind but firm" school of thought.  It seems to me that letting Katie decide when to put her diapers on is not nearly firm enough, and that not being firm is an unkindness to her. So either way, I lose - I either wrestle her to the ground and put her diaper on against her will while she screams like a banshee (very unkind) or I let her decide whether she wants a diaper on (permissive and therefore not healthy for her emotional development.)
Side note: I've also tried introducing "big girl" undies, but she doesn't want any part of them at any time, even if she's being cooperative about diapers at the moment. 

Nap times and bedtime are another power struggle. For nearly a year, we've had a rock-solid routine, recommended to us by a sleep trainer/child psychologist. In essence, it's bath, pajamas, bottle, books, lights out, lullaby and put her down. We were so amazed by how well this routine was working. She went from having to be rocked and fed to sleep (before sleep training) to cheerfully falling asleep on her own every single night.

For the past few weeks, she's been finding ways to stall. First she won't let me put on her diaper (as discussed above.) If I try to put the diaper on, she screams "POTTY!" So we go to the potty and she sits there, usually not going. Maybe 10% of the time she pees a little. Then she says "all done" and we get down and try the diaper again. Again, "POTTY!" I've given up saying, "But you just went!" because that does no good. We go again and do this over and over until she's bored of it. Sometimes I'm able to break the cycle by telling her about the books we're going to read, and other times we break the cycle by giving her a bottle. Then, while she's occupied with drinking it, I quickly diaper and dress her. Usually this works, but not always. Sometimes she screams "POTTY!" again and drinks her entire bottle while sitting on the potty. Eventually she lets us diaper her. Then we begin the second act of the drama: sleep sack. Katie likes the pink one, the one she uses for naps during the day. It's thin cotton and not warm enough for overnight. So sometimes she starts to scream about that too. By this time it's usually past her bedtime and we've had enough. If we've already given her the bottle in order to diaper her, then we're pretty much out of options. I try to distract her with books, but the past couple of nights Anthony's had to go refill her bottle so we can get the sleep sack on. Onto Act 3: books. We used to read two, the same two every night. Now Katie wants "extra book!" but she doesn't understand the meaning of "Just ONE extra book!" or "You already had your extra book, it's time for bed." She keeps getting extra books and more extra books until we've either read them all or she's tired enough not to wiggle off my lap and run for the bookshelf when I start reading the original two. Once those two have been read, she's almost always compliant with the rest of the routine. Occasionally she will spot a toy on the floor and insist on putting it away. (I worried briefly that she has OCD, but she's totally fine leaving things out of place during the day. It's just another stalling tactic.) 

So, what used to be a 10 or 15 minute routine is now stretching 45 minutes to an hour. We're exhausted and exasperated, plus we are frustrated because we want to be more firm with Katie. The only thing I can think of to do is read her the original two books (NO extras, because she can't count yet) and put her in the crib screaming. I nearly did that today for her nap, but it just seems heavy-handed. Katie is a strong willed child; she would very likely scream for an hour, fall asleep for half an hour, and then resume screaming. Half an hour isn't enough sleep for her during the day. Plus, she's also been known to throw up if screaming doesn't get results. Not that it's the end of the world, but it certainly isn't pleasant and we would prefer to avoid it.

Any suggestions?

(I have to note that I love Katie's strong will. I wouldn't want her to be any other way. I just wish there was a way to solve these power struggles so we can all have some peace.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where did my weekend go?

Seriously, how is it Monday already? When I woke up this morning (at 5:30, for no good reason, with the beginning of a migraine) I couldn't believe it. What happened to that nice, relaxing weekend I'd been longing for?

I guess it's a testament to how difficult last week was. I guess my reservoir of patience and energy was so depleted, that two weekend days weren't enough to fill it back up.

I really, really wanted to blog about something lighthearted and funny, but right now I haven't got much of that. I'm working on it, I promise! :)

Last week was filled to the brim with tantrums. I really don't know what's going on with Katie, aside from the fact that she is 2. She doesn't seem to be teething. I keep blaming it on that, and then catching glimpses inside her mouth and finding that there are no new teeth in there. Hmm.

Tuesday's Trader Joe's fiasco was the pinnacle. I didn't have much to buy, so I finished shopping pretty quickly, but before I was finished Katie had had enough of riding in the cart. She managed to stand straight up on the seat and refused to sit back down, making me wonder why I'd bothered putting that little cart seat belt on her. So I took her out of the cart and let her push it along with me. She did OK as long as she was actively pushing the cart. If I stopped to look at something, she started pulling things off the shelves. I decided to quit shopping and head for the checkout line. On our way there, Katie managed to knock over some fragile-looking gift boxes of cookies from an end cap. That was the end of my tolerance for Katie on the loose. I picked her up, and she started to thrash and scream as if I were torturing her. People in line turned to stare. So did the cashiers. Thank goodness there weren't many people there on a Tuesday morning, but there certainly were enough to make me feel really embarrassed. I abandoned my cart and walked Katie up and down the wine section for a minute, then realized that she was warming up into a full-scale screamfest and that no amount of walking was going to calm her down.

She continued to scream as we made our way back to the cart. Seriously, there has to be a stronger, more descriptive word than "scream" - it just doesn't illustrate what I was dealing with. The checkout guy, who looked too young to have kids but was sympathetic anyway, checked and bagged our groceries with lightening speed, then helped us out to our car. Once I got Katie into the car, still screaming loudly enough to make my ears bleed, I thought I had things under control. I offered her a bottle, which usually works like nothing else to calm her down. Not this time! She wanted to get out and see the choo-choo train that runs near Trader Joe's. So I opened the door and let her out, but she refused to let me hold her hand in the parking lot. By this point I'd really had enough. I scooped her up and tried to get her into the car seat. My little girl weighs less than 25 pounds but has the strength of a bucking bronco! It took several tries before I was able to get her buckled in, and of course now she was screaming more than ever, plus kicking and thrashing. I quickly got into the driver's seat, shaking, and started home.

About 2 miles later, I looked in the rearview and noticed that Katie was STANDING UP in her car seat! She had wiggled her arms out of the straps and then stood up, just like in the cart at TJ's! Needless to say, I freaked out and started screaming "SIT DOWN! SIT DOWN RIGHT NOW!" as I searched for a place to pull over. (So much for all that positive parenting crap.) I found a red zone (labeled "No parking, stopping or standing at any time" - perfect) and stopped. I got out and got into the back seat, and tried to wrestle her back into her seat. Bucking bronco again. So I sat there for several minutes, saying nothing, hoping she would just calm down now that we were away from TJ's and the choo-choo. I tried to stay calm, but I was really starting to lose it. I kept thinking, what if I can't get her back in the car seat? After about 10 minutes, I did manage to get her back in. She hadn't stopped her tantrum for even a minute. I drove home as fast as I could, while keeping an anxious eye on her. She wiggled her arms out again, but stayed seated with the lap part of the seatbelt fastened, so I decided to keep driving instead of pulling over again.

About a half mile from our house, she quieted down. It actually looked like she was starting to fall asleep, which never happens in the car. We made it home, and when I went to get her out of the carseat, it was as if the meltdown had never happened. I burst into tears and told her I was so sorry I'd yelled, that I was so scared that she would get hurt by being out of her car seat. I don't know if she understood, but I think on some level she did. We went inside and life went on. Except that I'm now a lot grayer!

I've been replaying this scene over and over in my head, and I honestly don't know what I could have done differently. I really feel like I failed this particular test. I mean, I got both of us home in one piece, but I totally lost my head in the process. I don't yell and scream often - in fact, I can't even remember the last time I yelled that loudly - and I didn't like the way it sounded to my own ears. I also have to note that it had absolutely ZERO impact on Katie's behavior. It didn't change anything, except to help me let off steam. It certainly didn't make her sit down. It didn't make her stop crying. (Duh!) My only consolation is that it didn't seem to make things worse, either, but it certainly could have. I am so lucky that Katie has forgotten all about it!

The rest of last week wasn't as bad, in comparison, but it wasn't great either. The weekend was OK, and so far today has been fine, so maybe we're over the hump? I sure hope so! I love my little Katie so much, and I really would like more harmony in our lives. I try so hard to be a good parent - to be kind and attentive and loving as well as firm when necessary. I hate feeling like I'm doing a bad job. :( More on this later - I hear her waking up from her nap!

And I promise to try to find something funny to blog about next time! Crazier Grandma is coming to town; that should be all kinds of amusing. Happy Holidays to all!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Help! Christmas Crunch!

It's December 12 and I'm starting to get desperate. I have no ideas for Anthony for Christmas, aside from the squeegee I thought of a while back. Clearly I need something else, but I'm running up against some steep odds here. Here's what I'm dealing with:

He doesn't wear ties. So no ties, no tie tacks, no tie bars, no battery operated revolving tie racks.

He doesn't wear shirts with French cuffs. So no cufflinks, even ones shaped like lightsabers or the Tardis.

He rarely wears a watch, so no handsome leather watch cases. And no watches, even ones shaped like the Tardis.

He's not super into beer, so no beer-of-the-month club, no beer cozies, no beer holsters, no DIY brewing kits.

He's not into wine, so no wine openers, no wine aerators, no instant wine chillers, or anything made of wine corks.

He hates golf, so no personalized golf balls, no golf club links, no portable coolers, no personalized tees

He is into gadgets, but he already has every Apple gizmo known to man, even if work owns them. He also has cases, chargers and speakers for said gizmos.

Can't get him slippers, even though I'd like to, because the ones he has used to belong to his dad, who passed away several years ago.

He is into bourbon, sorta. Neither of us drink much, which is why our liquor cabinet is overflowing. Anthony keeps getting gifts of bottles of assorted bourbons. He tastes each one and then sticks it in the cupboard and forgets about it. I thought about getting him those "whiskey stones", which chill your drink without diluting it, but it turns out he likes the ice to melt a little in his bourbon! So that's out. He already has a couple of hip flasks that he got as groomsmen's gifts. I really can't think of anything else to give him that's related to bourbon.

He is into the Giants, but as previously discussed, I feel nauseated at the thought of buying him anything Giants-related. Besides, he's gotten Giants stuff for every gift-giving event for the past 3 years, so his closet is bursting with orange and black. YUCK!

He is into the 49ers, but again, he has 3 sweatshirts, multiple shirts, and assorted beanies, hats, can cozies, etc. I will browse the 49ers store again, but I doubt I'm going to find anything he'd actually use.

A sad thing that's happened to us since Katie was born is that we've both given up a lot of our hobbies. I used to bake, knit, read and go swing dancing every Tuesday. Anthony used to play guitar and build airplane models in the garage, and we both used to play video games. Now we lie on the couch and watch TV, because we're too tired to do anything else. Our lives revolve around Katie and sleep. I don't like this and neither does Anthony, but that's where we are right now out of desperation. Oh, by the way, I've also given Anthony several sleep-related gifts: earplugs, a special eye mask, a white noise machine, and even a strange device that keeps your pillow cool at night. (He uses it on his feet instead; there are never enough cold spots in the bed!) Sleep is the gift he truly wants, and if I could find a way to give it to him, I would.

I broke down and asked him what he wants, and he said "I dunno. Um, clothes?" So I am definitely going to throw down some cash at Banana Republic. But wow, for a guy who could care less what he's wearing as long as it's clean, BORING!

What do you say, folks? Any fun ideas to share?

Friday, December 7, 2012

More crunchiness

It's official, folks: I've crossed over to the Dark Side of crunchiness. And not by choice, either. In fact, I'm fairly disgusted by what I've had to resort to doing lately. Any guesses?

I'm giving my kid almond milk.

Every crunchy hippie in the free world will bore you silly with unsubstantiated claims about how bad cow's milk is for you, and I just don't believe any of it. As long as you're not lactose intolerant (which we are not), I think milk is perfectly fine. And as we've discussed before, Katie can't get enough milk. She loves the stuff.

But, ever since our bout with the stomach flu, things have been, er, not quite right in Katie's tummy. I don't want to gross you out with details, so let's just say I called the advice nurse to see what we could do about, um, firming things up a bit. The first thing she suggested was bananas. No dice, Katie has zero interest in bananas. Pasta, we've been doing. Ditto rice. Then the nurse asked about how much dairy Katie is having daily. OMG. Stop, she said! I told her I can't, I've been trying to get her to give it up for a while now but she's really attached to it. So the nurse suggested rice, soy or almond milk.

Despite my general loathing of these ersatz milks, you could probably hear my tires screeching as I made a U-turn and headed back toward Trader Joe's. I'll try anything to get these tummy woes to stop! But I had very little hope that Katie would accept anything less than her lovely organic whole cow's milk. I bought a box of "Rice Drink" (ew!), a carton of almond milk, and, as a backup, a small carton of nonfat milk in case the other two failed. The nurse said it's probably the fat in the milk that makes the diarrhea worse, so nonfat might be slightly better than whole.

And, unbelievably, Katie slurped down the first un-milk I tried: almond! She didn't say a single peep of complaint. She didn't even seem to notice the difference. (But she must have noticed; it's vanilla flavored!) She drank some on the drive home from TJ's, more that night before bed, more this morning when she woke up, and even more to and from our trip to Target. I keep waiting for her to declare it "Yucky!" like she does when we try to sneak Tylenol into her normal milk. Usually there's no fooling this little girl!

So we're coming up on 24 hours without cow's milk, and I sincerely hope it makes a difference. Enough with the tummy woes!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Football commentary

Despite my vow not to bore you anymore with tales of the gazillion viruses we're picking up from school and Gymboree, I've got a doozie for you this time, folks! Something I haven't had in years: stomach flu!! <crowd cheering> I'll spare you the details and just say that it wasn't pretty. Katie had a slow-building version that lasted three days, but I managed to pack all of my fun into about 18 hours, with most of the intensity between 12am and 7am. Fun Stuff.

So yesterday, I was pretty much useless around the house. And my amazingly awesome trouper of a husband stepped neatly in and picked up the slack. He is truly my hero. He not only entertained Katie, but loaded, ran and unloaded the dishwasher, made me tons of powdered Gatorade, cooked and fed Katie dinner, and - get this - even sterilized Katie's bottles! Which, being the lazy busy mom that I am, I  probably haven't done in 6 months or more. Wow!

After the nausea subsided around noon, I was able to lie on the couch for a little bit. Anthony and I had previously agreed that now that Katie is 2, we're OK with letting her watch TV once in a while if the need arises. And boy, that need arose spectacularly yesterday! So the three of us spent a crazy lot of time on the couch yesterday, just vegging out and watching TV. It was a total sloth day, and you know what? It was fantastic!

We found out that Katie is an amazing color commentator. She's not quite ready to do play-by-play yet, but she chimes in with the cutest things at the funniest moments! When someone is running up the field with the ball, she says "Go go go!" When there's a sack or a big tackle, she exclaims "Hugs!!" She says "Frow" when the quarterback throws the ball, and "Kick" when the kicker kicks. Sometimes she says "Owie!" if it looks like someone fell down. She says "Hat off!" when someone's helmet goes flying. She says "Tap tap!" when players hit each others' helmets in the end zone. Oh, and my favorite: For some reason Katie kept saying "Turkey gobble gobble!" It took me a while, but I finally figured out that a huge NBC peacock logo kept flashing across the screen after replays. LOL!

In short, it was the most fun I've had watching football in a long time. Katie was sprawled out between us on the couch with her snack catcher on her lap, just munching away and watching football, like everyone else in America, I imagine. Good times! (Except for the 49ers losing in overtime. GAH!)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Random thoughts

Really, probably all of my posts should be titled, "Random Thoughts." Oh well. :)

Poor Katie's lip is much, much better today. The little sores inside her mouth are getting smaller and smaller, and I think in a couple more days they'll be completely gone. Thank goodness she's a fast healer!

I may have mentioned that Katie has woken up once or twice during nearly every nap for the past two weeks. Yesterday I went in and comforted her for the first wakeup, but decided to let her cry for 5 minutes for the second one. She was back asleep within 3. Hmm. So today I tried it again, and she settled down long before the 5 minutes were up. So we're back to sleep training. Thank goodness this wakeful habit hasn't carried over to the nighttime. I'm having enough trouble sleeping as it is!

Oh, I wanted to report that I have really fallen off the wagon when it comes to having a Spotless Kitchen! So much for the 28 days theory. I kept the kitchen spotless for more than 60 days, and then frankly I just got too tired. I'm still keeping on top of bottles, and keeping the sink more or less clear of dishes, and cleaning off the island more often. But folks, cleaning the kitchen is So Much Work! Especially with my "helper," Katie. She really loves to help, which is so cute, but of course everything takes 100 times as long and I have to go and redo it when she's out of sight (which is almost never!)

Then there was the adventure of "Wash-Empty-Bottles-Katie-Self." Katie loves to talk about the empty bottles that are always waiting to be washed. Yes, she's over 2 years old and I still give her bottles. Please don't judge. For me, a bottle is part peacekeeper and part safety net. Katie likes to have a bottle when she wakes up in the morning and after her nap. She also likes one before bed. When I say "likes," I mean "screams bloody murder if you don't give her one." And, long ago, I discovered that the only way to keep her from screaming like a banshee in the car is - you guessed it - a bottle. I give her one when we get in the car, and I bring another in a little soft-sided lunch bag with an ice pack inside. Most days we go out in the car, usually in the midmorning. So Katie is still drinking 5 bottles a day. If she's sick, or something is wrong (teething, crazy bloody mouth injury, etc) then she gets more. It calms her down and gets much-needed calories into her, so that's why I think of it as a safety net.

So anyway - one day Katie really wanted to wash those bottles just like Mama does every day. I thought, what's the harm? My parenting class said I should be giving her opportunities to do things herself. So I pulled up a chair from the kitchen table and let her stand there with the water running, and put soap on the bottle brush for her. She was in heaven! At least, until about 15 minutes later when she started to put the bottles upside down on the drying rack. That would have been OK, except the bottles were still full! Water everywhere - all over the hardwood floor. Side note - wood is a really dumb thing to have as a kitchen floor. So many times I've wished for linoleum! But no, we had to go with a "designer" look. Clearly we did our decorating before Katie was born! Anyway, Wash-Empty-Bottles-Katie-Self quickly became "Clean up, Clean up, everybody everywhere," which was a lot less interesting and earned me some particularly shrill screaming. Oh well.

Wouldn't it have been great if she could wash her own bottles? I guess if she's old enough to successfully wash them herself, she really shouldn't be using them anymore! LOL!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving adventures

Well, we're back to the grind after having Dada all to ourselves for an entire week. It was awesome. It was also exhausting, because it was Thanksgiving. And I didn't even cook! Nor did we battle any traffic or Black Friday crowds. Thanksgiving just takes a lot out of me. Sorry to gripe, but it's my least favorite holiday. I barely even got to eat any turkey, but I did get lots of stuffing and mashed potatoes, so all was well. No pie either, now that I think about it, but you know what? I'm perfectly happy to save my gorging for the Christmas season. Plenty of yumminess coming our way!

I wanted to boil down our Thanksgiving holiday to one fantastic thing and one horrible thing, but I'm having trouble coming up with just one fantastic thing. Having Anthony here was wonderful. I love to see him interact with Katie, and of course it gives me a break. He washed so many bottles, too! Love that man. He also put up our Christmas lights, yay! It feels unnaturally early to be doing that, but I'm glad because it's so much effort to put them up and take them down. Might as well get some good use out of them, right? We also had incredible - no, insane - weather for most of the week. Our friends were in town from Seattle, and we got to spend some time with them. I even had a girls' lunch out! WOW!

And...the horrible thing. Two horrible things, actually. One is that Katie woke up from every nap all week except one, screaming and crying and refusing to go back to sleep. She was really freaked out about something. A couple times we were able to get her back to bed after 15-20 minutes of screaming, but mostly she just refused to go back to sleep. So much for relaxing during her naps.

The second horrible thing happened on Saturday. We were across the street, sitting on a park bench playing with pine needles. Well, I was sitting - Katie doesn't really do that. She was climbing up, sliding down, rolling on her tummy, running to get more pine needles, going over to touch the trash can, you get the picture. She climbed up next to me, scooted around and dangled her legs over the back of the bench, slid down, and somehow managed to bump her chin. Problem was, she had her bottom lip between her teeth at the time, so she bit the dickens out of it. She screamed bloody murder, and to be honest, her mouth looked like bloody murder too. It bled so profusely that I thought she'd knocked out a tooth. (She hadn't.) I also thought she might have bitten right through her lip, since it was bleeding both inside and out. (She hadn't.) It just bled A LOT. And poor Katie wouldn't let us put pressure on it, or put ice on it, or hold her, or do anything at all. She just stood there screaming and crying and bleeding and trying to wipe the blood out of her mouth, which I imagine tasted very yucky. She refused the cool teething ring we keep in the fridge for boo-boos. She would swat us away screaming if we tried to touch her. It was terrible.

At one point, when we thought she'd bitten through her lip, we thought we might have to take her to the ER. But, Anthony made a bottle for her and after a few refusals, she calmed down enough to drink it. Then I read her every book in her book basket, and she ended up passing out on my lap. (Which never happens, by the way!) While she was asleep, we got to take a small peek inside her lip to see what had happened. Two tooth-shaped gouges were the cause of all the blood. They were pretty deep, but not bad enough to need stitches. The cut on the outside was pretty minor too. And now, two days later, the gouges have kind of filled themselves in, and there's just some weird blistering going on. Clearly it's healing well, thank goodness!

So those things, combined with the drama of Thanksgiving Day with the in-laws, actually make me a little bit glad to have things back to normal. We went to preschool today, and so far her nap seems to be fine, so WHEW! We get a month to recharge before the next round of drama begins. But the aforementioned holiday yumminess is going to help a lot!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Katie's birthday!

I can't believe it - this past Sunday, my little princess turned 2! Can't believe it's been 2 years since we brought our sweet little bundle home. Of course, Katie started the "Terrible Twos" at 17 months, so in a way I feel like I've been dealing with a 2 year old for quite some time. If she started 7 months early, she should end 7 months early too, right? So I only have 5 more months of Terrible Two-ness to go! What? That's not how it works? Aw, come on!!

We made it through Katie's 2nd birthday party. It was an entirely Hello Kitty-themed affair, with the notable exception of an Elmo-shaped birthday candle that she just can't get enough of. Every time we pass it in the grocery store, she goes crazy for it. Of course, you could say the same about every Hello Kitty thing under the sun - and by the way, is there anything under the sun that *doesn't* have Hello Kitty's face on it? Whenever we're out shopping, it's a constant stream of "Henno Kitty! Henno Kitty!"

Anyway, I digress. Katie's party started at 4, and we served Trader Joe's apps and Mountain Mike's pizza instead of cooking. Anthony mixed some grown-up drinks, and we had sparkling juice and sodas for our niece and nephew. All in all, the party wasn't too bad. We kept things flowing (food, present-opening, cupcake-eating) and were all wrapped up in time for Katie's bedtime. My favorite moment was when Crazy Grandma and company refused to take Katie's unsubtle hints that they'd overstayed their welcome: "BYE BYE EVERYONE!!!  BYE BYE!!! BYE BYE!!!" This went on for nearly 20 minutes! Sheesh.

For presents, Katie got some nice books and Legos from her aunt, uncle & cousins. In the wake of last year's pony fiasco, we gave Crazy Grandma a list to choose from. What's the pony fiasco, you ask? Last year, Crazy Grandma asked if Katie would like a rocking horse for her birthday. Anthony told her yes, as long as it's made of something durable like wood - you know, something simple, classic and non-gimmicky. So Crazy G showed up with a fluffy pink plush TALKING, SINGING pony. It says 4 phrases in a woman's voice when you squeeze its right ear, and then sings a creepy song in a man's voice when you squeeze its left ear. Oh, and ITS MOUTH MOVES. And the hard plastic base scratches our wood floor. Perfect - exactly what we wanted.

So I guess this year will be known as the Microwave Fiasco. Katie loves to imitate Mama, and she doubly loves anything that beeps, so of course she's rather obsessed with pushing the buttons on our microwave. This would be fine, except I have to hold her up to do it, which is tiring and doesn't really help me get dinner ready. We figured she would love a little toy microwave of her own, complete with beeps and lights, just her size and reachable whenever she feels like "cooking." Anthony told Crazy G not only the exact model of toy microwave we wanted, but the aisle on which it is located at our local Toys R Us. He even emailed her a picture of it. Crazy G told him she bought it. Anthony started dropping hints to Katie about what she might be getting for her birthday. I had a bad feeling about this, so I told him to stop.

And my hunch was justified. Crazy G showed up with an enormous box, bigger than Katie herself. Katie gleefully unwrapped it and...it was a Cupcake Kitchen, complete with an oven, a completely useless mini sink and a fake burner. I can't quite figure out why you'd need a burner to make cupcakes, but whatever. Katie likes it, but I don't love having another giant hunk of plastic in my house. C.G. also bought Katie some extra plastic cupcakes that are a different brand and aren't compatible with the kitchen, so that's grand. I'm sorry, I'm being ungrateful - it is a really nice gift. I hope Katie gets lots and lots of use out of it. Sigh.

Let's see...Mama and Dada got Katie an entirely age-inappropriate Hello Kitty mini umbrella, which (unbeknownst to me) has a very powerful spring-action opening mechanism. That thing opens with a bang, little eyes and fingers be damned! Yikes. We also got her some adorable and sturdy-looking gardening tools, so she can start wreaking havoc in the dirt outside. Yay, more laundry! We got her a small wooden train set from IKEA, which she totally digs. And we got her some more of IKEA's weird felt food. We love this stuff - it's so...Swedish. This set came with some parsley, lemon, and a whole salmon, from which you can peel bits of fish fillet. Super weird and super fun! We tried not to go overboard with the presents, but I think we kind of did. Oops. And Christmas is right around the corner. I am going to have to make good on my threat to go around and weed out some of the toys she's no longer interested in. We get so many hand-me-downs that we don't have enough places to put it all anymore!

Anyway, we had a nice long weekend with Dada, which is a far better treat than any present could ever be. Now it's back to the daily grind, at least until next week when Dada has the whole week off!! WOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!

Oh, I probably should post some pictures. Naturally, we took 43 with the "good" camera, 14 with camera phones, and a whole bunch of video, but only these 3 are worth posting. Sigh.

Happy birthday to me!!!

BLOONS! Oh man, she loved them.

No need for cake-smashing this time around! That's my girl!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Facebook envy

Once again, I have Facebook envy. Everyone (including myself) posted pictures of their kids, dressed up for Halloween. Why am I the only one whose child will not stand still and smile at the same time? I got about 3,000 dead-serious pictures, 4,500 action-blurred pictures, 150 costume-malfunction pictures, 67 nose-picking pictures and 2 pictures that were OK enough to post. Gaaaaah! I swear Katie looked cuter than the pics show.

This is the one that ended up on Facebook:
Something about this apple doesn't taste right...

And here are a couple of samples of what I'm dealing with:
Really? You waited until this photo shoot to start trying on the gardening gloves that Grammy gave you? And would it kill you to smile?

That's a dish scrubber. I guess this qualifies as "Whistle While You Work"


This picture-taking gig is so frustrating. I have just enough expertise with my camera to make picture-taking really difficult. Sometimes I think I should just go back to shooting in "green rectangle" (i.e., uber-amateur) mode because I tend to get in my own way when playing around with aperture and shutter speed. I mean, how are you supposed to think about all those things while you chase your toddler around the kitchen? I've been trying to set a custom white balance too, which is darned near impossible because I'm never shooting in the same spot.

Anyway - photo-taking aside, we had a wonderful Halloween. Dada came home early from work, we all ate dinner early, and we bundled our little princess into her wagon for trick-or-treating. We only stopped at a few houses, but she had so much fun looking at all the kids in their costumes. She insisted on getting out and jumping on the gigantic inflatable slide that someone had rented. I love our neighborhood - a lot of families go all-out on Halloween. There were some really elaborate decorations! One house had their teenage son dress up like a scarecrow. He stood perfectly still in the garden, and every once in a while would shout "BOO!" and scare the bejeesus out of someone. Katie thought it was funny.

Another house thought Katie's costume was so precious, they wanted to take a picture. I said, "Sure, good luck! I've been trying to get a picture of her all day." Sure enough, as soon as they took out the camera, Katie was suddenly mesmerized by their enormous inflatable Frankenstein's Monster, and looking at the camera was out of the question. Sigh. I just remembered that nearly the same thing happened to us last year with her ladybug costume. Only one of the pictures was good enough to post, and she wasn't even looking at the camera! And that was before she could walk! Omg.

Anyway, we ended up with a little bit of leftover candy (score!) and lots of fun memories. That's what it's all about, right? Even if you don't have the pictures to back it up? LOL

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Katie updates

Before Katie was born, I promised myself that I would be diligent about writing down and recording her milestones and the cute things she would do. I kept a "baby diary" for a while, in which I wrote little notes to her while she was in the womb. It was mostly stuff about decorating her room and complaining about work. Then about 10 weeks postpartum, I started an ongoing email to myself called "Katie Notes," which was mostly complaining about lack of sleep.

Yesterday I resorted to writing "Katie stacked 6 blocks, 10/25/12" on a scrap of paper and sticking it in my baby book. That's right, MY baby book - I haven't actually started one for Katie. It's funny to see my mom's progress in my baby book. The first half is mostly filled out and the second half is entirely blank. The first half is also written in the same ink, and it's suspiciously neat. She says she consolidated a bunch of hastily written notes and that's why it's all done in one day, but I suspect she also threw some inventions in there. Such as, "Kimberly sleeps through the night, 8 weeks." My dad begs to differ  - apparently he was responsible for the 2am feeding! So I guess it would be more accurate to say that my *mom* slept through the night when I was 8 weeks old. LOL.

Anyway, I thought I'd jot down some cute things that Katie has been doing and saying lately. She surprises us every single day with the stuff she comes up with. This morning she sang a song, or part of one, with an unusual amount of accuracy: "Cookie Cookie C!!!" Apparently while I was at my parenting class Tuesday night, Anthony showed her a Youtube video of "C is for Cookie" and she's been thinking about it ever since. She's heard Cookie Monster sing it on the radio a million times, but somehow seeing it in person is 1000 times better. She cracks up when the chorus of other monsters appears behind Cookie Monster, I have no idea why.

One of Katie's new favorite pastimes (aside from playing with water, which is her main obsession) is a game she invented called "Coop-Dump." (aka Scoop-Dump.) She asks to get in her crib, then says "Cooooooop!" which is my cue to scoop up as large an armful of stuffed animals as I possibly can, and then "DUMP!" them over her head while she peals with laughter. It usually takes 2-3 scoops to get them all. (Wish our relatives would quit giving her stuffed animals!) Then she throws each animal out of the crib and we start again. Or, she asks to get out of her crib and says "Keen up, keen up!" and puts some of the animals away in their cabinet. Don't get excited, though - she's only cleaning them up for another round of "Coop!" This delightful (ahem) game is not only very tiring for Mama but completely open-ended. It's very hard to get the animals to stay in their cupboard when it's time for bed.

What surprised me about Coop-Dump is that Katie started referring to herself in the third person while playing it. She had already been saying things like "Lambie in" and putting Lambie in the crib, or "An-i-muzhh in" and putting animals in. But when she said "Katie in" it really blew my mind. That means a) she knows her name and b) she knows how to tell Mama about it! Pretty amazing.

The first instance of "Katie in" was about 2 weeks ago, and ever since she's been amusing me with the cute things she says about herself. She's had 2 colds back-to-back (maybe 3, since it still hasn't gone away and seems to be worse these past couple of days). She now has a pretty yucky-sounding cough, which probably freaks the crap out of people when I take her out in the world. Anthony and I have taken to saying "Poor Katie!" when she coughs like that. One night, she woke herself up coughing, and we heard her cry for a second, then say "Pooh Kay-dee!" and go back to sleep. AWWW!

Another relatively new game is to call people and objects with "Where are you?" Although for Katie it sounds more like "Yaa-youu?" I think the roots of this came from Gymboree - there's a part at the end where all the kids are asked to call, "Gymbo!!!" and after they call him enough times, the teacher gets out a Gymbo puppet. One day, in an attempt to lure Katie upstairs for her nap, I suggested we go find Lambie. She immediately called, "Maaaaaaaammie!" I started calling "Lambie, where are you?" Not only did Katie pick up on the "where are you," but she also started imitating the way I cupped my hand around my mouth to magnify the sound. Except she does it with her palm against her cheek. Last weekend Anthony and I were watching football, and the referee called a penalty for illegal hands to the face. I said, "Look! He's calling Mammie Yaa-youu!"

Let's see, what else? We dug ourselves into a hole recently when we discovered that Katie likes to pick her nose. The parenting books say to ignore it, that trying to make her stop only makes her more determined. That sounds like Katie to a T, so that's what we're doing. But Dada couldn't resist teasing her a little, and one night as we were putting her down, she was really going to town on her nose. Dada said, "Goodnight, Princess Pick!" and the name stuck instantly. Now "Princess" and "Pick" are inextricably linked. If you say "Princess", she starts to pick her nose. OMG. And of course, what did we decide she'd be for Halloween? A princess, of course! Double OMG. If I manage to get a picture of her picking in her princess dress, I'll definitely post it. Sigh!

That's all for now; Princess Pick has finally stopped playing and decided to nap. TGIF!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sigh...

Don'tcha just hate it when you forget stuff? I recently thought of a brilliant gift idea for Anthony this Christmas, and now I've clean forgotten it. Great gift ideas for Anthony are pretty rare, so I'm extra annoyed that I forgot. I'm reasonably sure it could be bought at Home Depot, but that's all I can remember. I'm sure it wasn't a drain augur (eww) or right angle drill bit attachment. It wasn't a toilet lever handle, because I already bought one of those recently. It wasn't a shovel. (I bought one of those yesterday at Target, despite our avowal not to dig up any more of the rose bushes.) It wasn't anything to do with the compressor for his airbrush. Pretty sure it wasn't an American flag, because that's a gift idea for Katie, not Anthony.

Was it something for his car? Doubt it.

A SQUEEGEE!!!!!!  That was it!! Like, a real professional one. Ok, I'm so glad I remembered, but now you're thinking, "Are you crazy? You'd get your husband a squeegee for Christmas? Does he buy you vacuum cleaners and ironing boards?"

No, he doesn't, and no, that won't be the only thing I get for him. But last weekend he decided that the back sliding glass door was filthy (which it was) and he went to find the only squeegee we own. It's cheap plastic and it did a terrible, streaky job. My man likes to have the tools to get a job done right, and who could blame him?

Ahh, thank you, memory, for coming up with this one. Even if I decide not to buy it for him, it would have driven me nuts trying to remember. :)

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? I've got a couple of ideas so far, but no gifts purchased yet. Can't believe it's right around the corner!

A squeegee? Are you joking, Mama?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Trouble with "No"

I've been reading a new book, prompted by Katie's first class at pre-preschool. I mentioned before that the parents alternate weeks being "observers" or "supervisors." When you're a supervisor, you stay at one station (art, sandbox, riding toys, music, etc) and try to keep the toddlers from getting into too much trouble. I noticed that they have some pretty strict guidelines about what you are and aren't allowed to say to the kids. They strongly discourage you from saying "NO, don't do that!" or "Stop throwing sand! or "Don't put paint on the other kids!" Instead, they invite you to say things like, "Nathan, the sand stays in the sandbox" or "Amelia, please keep the paintbrush on the paper."

I thought that was an interesting approach, and of course I immediately thought about all the things I've been saying to Katie lately. "No" and "Stop" and "Don't do that"? Um, yeah, I say those all the time! Don't we all? So I was pretty nervous about my first time being a supervisor. Luckily, I was assigned to be an observer for our first week. The first thing I observed was how much Katie enjoyed the sand table. She enjoyed it so much, she thought she'd throw some sand on her neighbor. The supervisor said kindly, "Katie, please keep the sand in the sand table." Katie looked at her, perplexed, and then threw another handful onto her neighbor. "Katie, Melissa might not like having sand all over her." Another handful. "Katie, would you like to try scooping some sand with a shovel?" Another handful. And then I couldn't take it anymore. I scooped her up and said, "Sweetie, how about we go and explore the musical instruments?"

This sort of thing happened a couple more times during our class - at the water table, mostly. And I wasn't always there to intervene, because the observing parents were having our class discussion. So I hope Katie wasn't too out of line. By the end of the class, I was convinced that the not-saying-no approach was malarkey. But I decided to download the book it's based on, because I was so curious about how they could even think such an approach could work with an active toddler like Katie. (It's called Positive Discipline: The First Three Years.)

As it turns out, it's a fantastic book! It's not malarkey at all. In fact, without even knowing it, I'd done exactly the right thing when I intervened and took Katie away from the sand table. It's called distraction and redirection, and it works wonders for a toddler like Katie. The positive talk, like "food is for eating," may work well on other toddlers, but for the most part, distraction is essential for Katie. We have had one success with positive talk, and that's the word "Nice!" Katie now knows, through endless repetition, to touch things gently when we say "Nice!" We can say "Nice doggy!" and she will pet the dog gently. Or, at times, "Nice mommy!" and she will stop hitting or scratching and pat my face gently instead.

I really feel like we dodged a bullet with the hitting and scratching thing. Katie started doing it a couple of months ago, as most toddlers do, and at first we tried saying "No!" We tried giving her stern looks. We tried shaking our heads "no." We tried holding her hands down. It was clear from the very first time that she immediately thought this was a cool new game. She was fascinated with how she could get a rise out of us! You could tell by the way she would hit, and then step back and watch our faces so intently. By some miracle, I figured out that acknowledging the hitting was making it worse, so I decided to ignore it and distract her instead. It was the only thing I could think of to keep it from escalating. Turns out, that's what this book says you're supposed to do! (Woohoo!) And I can really see how well it works.

Saying "No" to a toddler Katie's age (under 3, I believe) is next to useless. They just don't have the capacity to understand "No" the way we do. They understand that Mommy is angry, probably, but they are unable to grasp cause and effect at this age. So all Katie was really getting from my "No's" was the brunt of my anger and frustration. She certainly wasn't learning not to hit.

This book has transformed my relationship with Katie already, and it's only been a week and I'm only about halfway through! I'm saying "No" a lot less, but I don't feel like I'm being overly permissive. In fact, the book is very clear about not being permissive. It would be a recipe for disaster if I just let Katie do whatever she wanted. But instead of arguing with her or telling her why she can't play with water in the living room, or hold the knife I've been using to slice bread, I just distract her. All those words were going right over her head anyway. I even successfully used this book's methods to get her into her bath. She was kicking and screaming and saying "No!" Before, we would have either tried to force her into the bath and hope that she'd calm down once she felt the water, or just skip bath altogether (hello, permissive!) But instead, I asked if she'd like to test the water with one finger. "Is it hot? Is it cold?" Would she like to put her toe in? Would she like to splash with her foot? And the rest was easy.

I'm off to read the rest! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Decisions, decisions

As impossible as it seems, my little princess is going to be 2 next month. I don't know what to do for Katie's second birthday. I don't really want a repeat of last year, but I'm not really sure what else to do.

Last year we threw a very small dinner party with the in-laws. That was probably my first mistake. Dinner - really? Anthony cooked chicken on the grill and I was in charge of sides and cupcakes, but even that was WAY too much effort. Plus, Anthony was so distracted because of having guests that he overcooked the chicken. I was really stressed throughout the whole thing. The most vivid memory I have is of Katie's first birthday cupcake. Katie was eating it quite daintily for a 1-year-old, sticking her finger in the frosting and tasting it, and Crazy Grandma came up and smashed the whole thing in her face, just so she could "get a cute picture." WTF! Naturally, Katie screamed, and the party was pretty much over at that point.

So you can see why I'm looking for something somewhat less anxiety-producing this year. I know that 2 year olds don't really understand the birthday concept, so I'm not worried about Katie having a good time. She's a happy kid; she'll have a good time even without a party. But I would like to do something to mark the occasion. Even if Katie doesn't remember, we will - and I don't want her birthday to just slip by uncelebrated.

In my fantasy world, we'd have 2 or 3 other toddlers and their parents, who of course would be super hip and cool. We'd serve some yummy snacks and light appetizers, and the grown ups would sip wine and chit chat while the little ones played outside in Katie's play house. There would be no fighting or hitting (hey, it's a fantasy, right?), and everyone would have a fantastic time. It would be relaxed and enjoyable for everyone, including the hosts.

In the real world, we really don't know any other families with toddlers well enough to invite them (except our friends in L.A., but that would be a pretty big drive for them.) So it's probably going to end up being the same guest list as last year. At least this time I won't be foolish enough to serve dinner! Maybe we'll have the party in the morning. Is that weird? Katie has a 2 hour window between 9:30 and 11:30 when she's nice and cheerful and playful. Hmm, morning party. Yeah, it seems pretty weird. But our only alternative is afternoon, and with Katie's erratic napping, it could mean the party starts at 4pm. Which means it will run into...dinnertime!!! No thanks!

I never thought I'd be the kind of parent who'd say this, but I'm kind of looking forward to having her birthday someplace like Pump it Up, where someone else can do all the work! LOL.

On with the party planning!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cha-ching!

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I just spent $30 on a Halloween costume for Katie. That's right, something she will wear for just a few hours, and then outgrow before you can say "Dress up!" Something I could have made myself if I had either the time or the sewing prowess. (OK, I am a little ashamed.)

But she's going to look so CUUUUUTE! I won't say what she's going to be yet, but I will say that it's Disney and I'm not ashamed of that either. Sure, the feminist in me thinks the whole princess thing is not appropriate to be teaching my daughter, but...did I mention the cuteness? Or that the kid in me still wants to be a princess myself?

The only thing I can't figure out is how I'm going to do her hair. I'm not talking about being indecisive about the style. I'm talking about logistics. Lately Katie says "Owie!" when I even go near her hair with a hairbrush or comb, so this could be tricky. Not to mention that she needs a haircut in the worst way. Poor girl, she looks so scruffy! (So does Mommy, for that matter - must make a hair appointment soon!)

But enough about appearances. We'll think of something, I'm sure, otherwise we'll say that our princess was out running through some scary dark woods, and that's why her hair is so messy. (Did I just give it away? Or do all the princesses do that at some point?)

I'm starting to get kind of excited about Halloween! I pulled my door decorations out of the closet, so now it's just a matter of finding some energy to put them up during Katie's nap time. I think I better get rid of this horrible cold first. Ugh. I'm cooking up some interesting projects in my head, involving red LEDs and black felt. Stay tuned - if they turn out good, I'll post pics.

What are you going to be for Halloween? :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Serenity now!!!


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Just for the record, I'm not in AA. And I'm not really the praying type, either. But the older I get, the truer the Serenity Prayer becomes for me. There's an ebb and flow to which of those three virtues I need at a given time. At times, the "serenity" part speaks to me. At other times, the "wisdom" part seems the most pertinent. And of course, there have been times when the "courage" part seemed most necessary.

Right now, I need a little serenity. The backstory:

Katie and I visited a co-operative, parent-run preschool this week. It was awesome. There were 15-20 toddlers, each with a friendly parent. There were more than a dozen different play activity areas: music, dress-up, wheeled toys, painting, train table, sandbox, climbing slide, play house, gravel pit, and - the pièce de résistance - a really large and fun water table! As soon as I put her down, Katie made a beeline for the kids at the water table, and all the adults gawked at how easily she fit in. Like a duck to water! Of course, for a 22-month-old, "fitting in" just means being comfortable playing with toys. I don't think any of them care who the other kids at the table are, as long as nobody is touching their toys! 

Each activity station had one parent as a supervisor. Each week, they split the parents into two groups: supervisors and observers. The supervisors each take a station and basically make sure the kids aren't playing too rough or getting hurt. The observers are kind of off-duty; they watch what their child is up to that day, and fill out a thoughtful questionnaire about their child's development and activites. After snack time, the observing parents get to go into a separate room with the teacher, and have a lecture and open discussion about parenting! How cool is that?

The entire school was set up with toddlers in mind. Everything was at toddler level, there were tons of well-made, sturdy, safe toys, and I just got the sense that Katie could run wild and have an amazing time exploring, and not hurt herself in the process. Not that I generally worry about her hurting herself - she's the toughest kid I've ever met - but it's nice to have peace of mind anyway. 

We were so impressed, we decided to sign up. The 20 hours of required work didn't seem too bad once they explained what it's all about. Neither did the 3-hour yearly maintenance duty. I'm absolutely thrilled - we start on Monday!

So why the serenity?

Because Katie caught a cold during our visit. She is now a sniffling, sneezing, fountain of snot. Poor girl! I've never seen anyone sneeze this much. Plus she just threw up ALL OVER ME.

Sigh. 

I know I have to accept viruses if Katie is going to be with other toddlers in a school setting. And I think the school will be great for her social development, as well as my development as a parent. So I'm just going to have to bite the bullet. SERENITY NOW!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Salted caramel mocha vs. willpower

Guess who won that battle? Dang, I should not have had that mocha! It was like a zillion calories. The barista offered to make it nonfat, but I said no. In for a penny, in for a pound. Yikes, except it probably really will be a pound (on the scale, that is). But it was YUMMMMMY!

Once again I have nothing special to blog about, which is weird because I woke up at 2:30 am and couldn't go back to sleep for all the blogging I was doing in my head. As a result, I am on the grumpy side today from lack of sleep. I'm holding it together, though.

So let's get this blog thing going. How about some updates?

Last night's attempt at a steak dinner went better than the previous two. I'd give it a solid B, maybe even a B+. I managed to cook them medium-rare, woohoo! This time, I heated up the pan, poured in a little oil, swirled it around until the bottom was covered, then went to the garbage disposal and poured all the excess out. Yes, Mom, I know you're not supposed to pour oil down the disposal. But I don't have time to root around under the sink for the yucky jar filled with oil and grease, not when Katie is hanging on my leg demanding "Up! SEE!!!"

Anyway, I think I was right about too much oil ruining the steak last time. So this time it didn't have that weird boiled meat taste, thank goodness. The only thing wrong was that I don't think the pan was quite hot enough initially. I heard a little hissing when I added the meat, but not the fantastic, smoke-inducing sound that I'd hoped for. Next time, higher flame. Otherwise, it was very tasty. Anthony, as always, was appreciative, and today he got a steak sandwich to take to work! Poor guy, deli meat gets so boring after a while.

In other news, while I was buying the steak at Costco, I bumped into an old friend from my Lindy Hop days. She's a bit older than me, and has two kids who are now at UC Davis. They're incredibly happy and well-adjusted kids, not to mention good students, so I know I can trust her parenting advice. She told me about a nearby co-op preschool called Little Hands. It's a nonprofit and it's run mostly by parents. I believe they have a couple of paid teachers and administrators, but all the other work is done by the parents. We are taking a tour on Monday and I'm really excited! It sounds miles better than Gymboree, but it also sounds like a lot of work. So we'll see. I would be so happy to meet some other parents of kids Katie's age. I love staying at home with Katie, but it can be a bit isolating. It would be so neat to have some play dates - both for Katie's sake and for mine. Since Katie's birth, we've had exactly two play dates. One was with a mom I really liked but who went back to work full-time, and the other was with the infamous mom who brought her sick kid over and gave Katie the worst virus she's had to date.

More news? Let's see...the wasp nests are now gone, thanks to Donovan's Pest Control. Unfortunately, my crunchiness got in the way, and I requested that they not use a "residual" pesticide to keep killing the wasps for months on end. I didn't want any poison that lingered around Katie's play space. I just had them remove the existing nests, and since it's getting close to winter, I hoped we'd be in the clear. Well, the wasps are back, and I can see that they're busy building new nests. I've decided to do nothing. They are paper wasps, and as wasps go, they are the friendliest, least-stingy species. They've never bothered us in the least, so we're just going to live and let live. Besides, they're said to eat lots of other pests in the garden.

So that's about it! We're looking forward to 48 hours with Dada (aka The Weekend). Gotta love Fridays! :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kitchen Inspiration

I may have mentioned before that we're close friends with the family that lives across the street from Anthony's mom. Anthony has known the Gonzalezes for roughly 25 years, and over the years we've spent a ton of time over at their house. The parents, Olga & Carlos, are older than us but not as old as our parents, which makes them extra fun. Their kids are close to our age, too, so we always have a good time over there. Plus, there's always a ton of food and it's always incredibly delicious!

When I visit their house, I'm always struck by what a meticulous housekeeper Olga is. Her house is staggeringly clean, no matter when we drop by - even unannounced! Recently, my friend Emily (who happens to be Olga's daughter-in-law) revealed her secret: Olga refuses to go to sleep at night until the house is immaculate. She will stay up after guests leave, even until 3 or 4 in the morning, cleaning up. (Their parties often last into the wee hours!) My mind still boggles at this revelation. When I had parties (pre-Katie), I was way too tired to clean up the same night!

But anyway, Olga has inspired me. For years I've been battling the kitchen clutter monster. I was totally guilty of letting stuff "soak" in the sink for days on end. My sink frequently housed some pretty gross dishes. "Eww, what is that?" was a commonly asked question. And then, the ants. You remember my post about our daily invasion of ants. I finally had my "Aha!" moment, and it was a combination of Olga's spotless kitchen, my disgusting morning ant-killing ritual, and the following advice from my mentor.

We've all heard that it takes 21-28 days to form a new habit. I've tried forming new habits before, but they've seldom stuck. I think I finally figured out what was wrong. My mentor explained that our brains form an identity that includes our personal habits, and when that identity is threatened, our brains rebel. That's why it is so hard to break an old habit - your brain says "Hey! Eating junk food is who you are!" or "Being a smoker is who you are!" or in my case, "Having a messy kitchen is who you are!" Your brain recognizes the old habit and pressures you to keep doing it. It takes 21-28 days for your brain to recognize a new pattern and quit pressuring you to stay in the old one. The "aha" part is that I used to put a time limit on my new habit. I thought since it takes 28 days, I just had to get through 28 days and then my new habit would be formed. I was forming the habit "This is who I am for 28 days" instead of "This is who I am."

So now, every night (and indeed, throughout the day) I remind myself that I am The Woman with the Spotless Kitchen. I'm not cleaning the kitchen for 28 days. I'm forming a new identity. I know this probably just sounds like semantics, but it's working! I'm on day 18 (I had to check the calendar, I'm not actually counting) and my kitchen looks amazing! Actually, there are a couple of Katie's bowls in the sink and I am itching to go and put them in the dishwasher. Why? Because I'm The Woman with the Spotless Kitchen and bowls in the sink bother me! LOL!! (Seriously, this is such a 180 from before, I just have to laugh!)

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?  ;)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More cooking adventures

Grr. I am super annoyed by how last night's dinner turned out. As you probably already know, I'm a reluctant cook. But, since I am the homemaker in this family, I've been dutifully trying new recipes, hoping to hit the jackpot. I thought Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Dinners might be the answer. I have never liked Sara's show on TV, but my friend Emily thinks she's great. I decided to give her cookbook a try. So far I'm 0 for 1 - not an impressive start.

We had some steaks in the freezer left over from Labor Day Weekend. I defrosted them for last night's dinner. (Which takes an eternity, by the way...we must have the world's coldest fridge.) I didn't feel confident enough to try using Anthony's grill, so I decided to pan-fry them. This is, apparently, the way the "real" chefs do it - and the results proved resoundingly that I am not a real chef.

I have a few bones to pick with Sara for her instructions. Firstly, she says to preheat the pan and then add oil, but to wait to add the meat until the oil is almost smoking. Hello? How on earth do I know when it's *almost* smoking? To my untrained eye, and the eyes of anyone who would need to read the section entitled "How to Cook Steak," it's either smoking or it isn't!

Secondly, she admonishes the reader not to turn the steak with a fork or precious juices will be lost. Okay, that's reasonable, but it would have been really nice if she had suggested what to use instead of a fork! Fortunately I've watched enough Food Network to know that tongs are a good idea here, but again, for someone who's inexperienced enough to need to read "How to Cook Steak," give us a break!

Finally, she instructs the reader to season the steak on both sides, put it in the "almost smoking" pan, and not to touch the steak again until a crust has formed underneath. How can I tell if there's a crust UNDERNEATH unless I pick the darned thing up and look? <wheeze wheeze>

The upshot is, I believe my steak steamed instead of searing, and I thought it tasted pretty awful. At least this time I didn't overcook it (remember the Father's Day Steak Fail?) Anthony, of course, ate it anyway and liked it. If there was ever a silver lining to this cooking debacle, it's having a husband with understanding taste buds.

I am not giving up on steak, though. I am itching to try again, but it upsets me to ruin those beautiful pieces of meat. Oh well, the only way to learn is to keep trying. Onward!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are you ready for some football?

OK, I admit it.

This post is just filler; the real reason I'm posting is to show the world this adorable picture of Katie and Dada, chillin' on the couch watching the 49ers. (And no, the skirt really isn't that short, it's just hiked up a little funny because she slid down the couch. It's a modest length.)



Anthony and I decided to start Katie's football education early. Part of the reason is the abundance of trance-inducingly adorable 49ers cheerleader outfits. They really are trance-inducing; that's the only way they can get you to pay their ridiculous prices. And it works - we're on our second outfit!

The other reason is that Anthony and I are very much at odds when it comes to baseball. When you think of baseball rivalries, you probably think of Red Sox/Yankees first. Well, here on the West Coast, we have a little rivalry of our own, known as Dodgers/Giants. It goes back probably 100 years, when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn and the Giants were in Manhattan. And it's ugly. And baseball is my favorite sport, and I grew up in L.A., steeped in Dodger Blue.

And I now live in the Bay Area, married to a Bay Area native. We knew before Katie was born that there was NO WAY either of us would let her root for the other one's team. So we decided she'd have to be a Mets fan. The Mets were an expansion team that took up some of the slack when the Dodgers and Giants moved west. Their colors are blue, for the Dodgers, and orange, for the Giants. It's perfect, except...the Mets haven't been good in quite a number of years. Poor Katie. Whenever we hear the scores from around the league, we invariably end up saying, "Sorry, sweetheart, your Mets lost!"

But football we agree on. I wasn't a football fan at all until college (Go Bears!), so I had no allegiance to either of the teams that were in L.A. when I was growing up. Now, of course, L.A. doesn't have a team at all, so that makes it a no-brainer. I'm a 49ers fan, and that means Katie can be too!

Although the first pre-season football game is a horribly depressing harbinger of the end of the baseball season, I'm happy to have a sport Anthony and I can agree on. And Katie too!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

bzzz!

Hooray, we have wasps! :(

Over Labor Day weekend, Anthony and I decided to transplant one of our rose bushes from the back yard to the front. Doesn't that sound like a nice, easy weekend project? Our back yard is tiny, and there isn't much room for Katie to play. The previous owner stuffed every square inch with rose bushes and tanbark. We have neither the time nor the expertise to tend roses, which is why they're all scraggly and overgrown and nearly bending over with the weight of all the rose hips we haven't pruned. I love roses, but really, twenty-one rose bushes is more than enough.

We also happen to have a big gap in the foliage in front of our house, which the HOA has left mysteriously unplanted since we moved in nearly three years ago. We thought, hey, let's stick one of the roses out there and see if they notice! Technically, we aren't allowed to make any changes to the landscaping out there, but I've adopted a "don't ask, just go ahead and do it" policy when it comes to dealing with the HOA. I called them once to ask if we could replace our chimney cap, and they told me it was $250 just to file the paperwork to ask that question. Needless to say, we said "Never mind!" but went ahead and did it anyway. Oooh, we are such rebels!!!!

So as soon as Katie went down for her nap on Sunday, we headed out to the front yard with shovels in hand. The big bare spot faces the street, so I was careful to act casual every time a car drove by. Anthony laughed at me for being ridiculous, but he's the one who suggested Labor Day weekend so that everyone would be out of town! I suppose for secrecy's sake, we should have dug the hole in the dead of night, but that would have looked a lot more suspicious!

We got the hole dug fairly quickly. Our instructions said to dig it twice as big as you think it needs to be. I told Anthony this when it was about a foot in diameter, and he said, "It's already twice as big as I think it needs to be!" But we persevered, and widened it to about 2 feet. That was the easy part. Then we went into the back yard, into the hot September sun, to dig up the rose.

The soil in the front yard was sandy and damp. The rose, on the other hand, seemed like it must have been planted in concrete. We tried a hoe, a spade, and finally a pickaxe. We'd been given instructions to preserve as many of the roots as possible, to keep everything damp while working, to wrap all the roots and dirt in burlap and to plant the whole thing immediately. We threw those instructions out the window, one by one, as we struggled and sweated to get this stupid rose out of the ground. I went and got the lopper and started lopping through roots so Anthony could get his pickaxe through the soil. It was a nightmare. Finally, the only way to get that rose dug up was to break up all the soil around the roots and yank it out of the ground. I'm sure stripping it down to its bare roots is not the best thing for a rose bush...but oh well, at least it's out of the back yard. As soon as we'd placed it in its new hole with some special plant food and lots of water, I started to hear Katie on the baby monitor. Anthony quickly filled both holes and we were done! Yay.

We were so sore the next day! (We still are today, actually.) But we both had a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Unfortunately, as we stood in our back yard, admiring the new space, we noticed a new wasp nest! Hoo-freakin-ray. Normally, I would leave them be, as they're supposed to be natural predators of other yucky things, but they're just too close to Katie's play area for my comfort. Sorry, wasps! Tomorrow we're getting an estimate from an exterminator, so your days are numbered.

Oh - and the other 9,999 rose bushes? We're going to hire someone to remove those suckers!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Diaper freedom! (sorta)

Today's blog post was kinda whiny, so I thought I'd make up for it with a little story that happened earlier today.

Katie and I went out to run errands this morning, and since she keeps asking to go to the library ("Book! Book! In in in in in!") I decided to indulge her. She had fun playing with some older girls in the wetlands exhibit, and then took off towards the children's area ("Book! Book! Book!") She climbed around in the pretend boat they have set up, pulled a whole lot of books off the shelves, and made sure I knew that the toddler computers were still "All gone!" And then, she said it: the word I hadn't even thought to worry about.

"Poo!"

Now, this may not sound like cause for alarm. But Katie poops on the potty, and guess who hadn't thought to bring the diaper bag with the folding potty seat? That's right, me. Guess who also remembered that said diaper bag (in the backseat of the car) is empty of clean diapers? Every time I get in the car, I think "Ahh, I have to remember to restock that bag!" And then I promptly forget. Awesome.

Anyway, here we are in the toddler area of the library, no diapers, no potty seat, and Katie saying "Poo!" I decided that getting the poo out of Katie was probably the #1 priority, so I took her into the bathroom and sat her on one side of the grown-up toilet seat. Needless to say, she didn't go. (As an aside, could someone please invent a potty seat that can be permanently installed on public toilets? Like, instead of a lid, there could be a little seat you flip up or down. Obviously this would only be for toilets in toddler-friendly areas. I nominate the children's section of the library!)

So now we have no poo, and no clean diaper. I actually think she's been saying "Poo!" when what she really means is, "Mama, I'm peeing right now!" Her diaper had indeed been newly peed, so I decided to be adventurous. I put her little skirt/panty combo back on her...sans diaper! And then I grabbed her and practically ran out of the library. I threw our stuff in the car and flew home, doing some very questionable stops at the 10,000 stop signs between the library and our house.

And...we made it! Woohoo! Katie's first diaper-free ride!


No more viruses, please!

Brace yourselves, folks, thar be a rant brewing!

Katie caught another cold, probably from Gymboree. I can't say for sure, but she doesn't have that many opportunities to catch colds outside of her weekly class. There were maybe 10 days of "healthy" between this cold and the last one, and since I caught both of the colds and Anthony caught one, it feels like our entire family has been sick for the past 6 weeks. No Good.

But I've already subjected you to a rant about Gymboree, so this one will have to be different. This time, I'm fed up with people telling me that it's a good thing to expose Katie to germs, that it will "exercise her immune system." This, folks, is pure and utter crap. Sure, I do believe that it's important for kids to not be raised in a plastic bubble. I believe that America's obsession with antibacterial cleansers is a really bad thing. I believe that over-sterilizing our houses might be responsible for the recent rise in asthma and allergies. (Whew, it's nice to know my lack of cleaning prowess has a silver lining!)

So yes, I'm all for exposing Katie to common household dirt. I let her play in the mud, no problem. I don't freak out if I notice she's drinking the water that's been outside in her play sink since yesterday. Eww, but go ahead, sweetheart. If you don't think it's "wucky" then I don't either. Hopefully she'll get exposed to whatever microorganisms the "Hygiene Hypothesis" says we actually need.

Unfortunately, people have started confusing the common rhinovirus with these other microorganisms. People, please stop. There is NO BENEFIT to Katie catching a series of cold viruses. She can't build up immunity to the common cold, because it mutates. That's why there's no cure for the common cold. Sure, she's now immune to the colds she's already had, but those viruses have long since mutated into other viruses, to which she will not be immune. Is this really news to anybody?

I betcha Dr. Oz has something to do with this. *shakes fist*


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Poor little sweetheart!

I'm grateful for so many things today.

Gratitude is a really good thing; I try to be grateful as often and as much as I can. But, here's the problem: it's hard to force yourself to be in a grateful mood when you're just not feeling it. So today, when I started feeling it in spite of all that's happened this morning, I gave a little cheer. Hooray for gratitude, showing up when least expected!

Today, I'm so grateful that we have a washer and dryer. I'm so grateful that they're right downstairs, and that it only takes a couple of hours to wash and dry a load. I'm grateful that we have electricity and gas to run them. I'm grateful that Katie didn't see me stealthily sneaking her Lambie into the washer. I'm grateful that we have toys and games and things to distract Katie while I sneak upstairs to vigorously scrub the carpet in her room with a soapy rag.

I'm eternally grateful that Katie is healthy and strong, and that she greeted me cheerfully with "Hi!" and "Morning!" when I went into her room this morning.

Last night, we put Katie down as usual. She still isn't over her little bout with separation anxiety, so she cried. She also has another cold, so she's snuffly and congested. She sounded just miserable. Her crying sounded so pitiful, we just couldn't bear doing nothing. We debated whether to go upstairs and sing her another round of lullabies. On one hand, going into Katie's room when she's crying usually makes her even madder when we leave. On the other hand, her crying sounded like her little heart was breaking. We caved - we went upstairs. We sang the songs. We rubbed her little back. We gave her lots of kisses. We put her back in her crib.

And the crying instantly became wailing. Wailing became screaming. Is there another word for screaming that's louder and more bloodcurdling than screaming? Well, it became that. We trudged downstairs, knowing we'd been incredibly stupid. We'd made it worse instead of better. We plopped down on the couch and waited for her to stop. She did stop, after about 25 minutes. 25 minutes was worse than we've had for a few nights, but certainly not the worst since separation anxiety started. We figured all was well, and went about our evening business of collapsing on the couch in front of the TV. (I was too tired to even eat ice cream.)

This morning, I knew something was wrong the second I opened the door. What's that smell? It didn't smell like stinky pee - I remembered I'd put Katie in a disposable diaper because I'm having some overnight stink issues with cloth diapers. So what could it be?

The answer was puke. Lots and lots of puke. It was on her sheet. It was on her sleep sack. It was on her Lambie. It was on her dust ruffle. It was on her carpet. It was on her onesie. It was on the rails of her crib. It was in her hair. It was freakin' everywhere, and she'd slept in it ALL NIGHT.

We feel like the worst parents EVER.

We immediately gave her a bath, including hair. (Which she hates.) We washed all of her bedding, including Lambie. Anthony had the unenviable task of getting the dried up mess out of the carpet.

Five hours later, after leaving the windows open with a fan on, it still smells barfy in her room. Everything has been washed, and everything still smells faintly of puke, including Katie herself. So, after her nap, everything is going to get a second wash. (Except Katie, she'll have to wait until this evening.)

So I am also grateful to live near Bed Bath & Beyond, where I picked up a Bissell Little Green steam cleaning machine this morning. We'll see if it works on puke - this may be another blog post in the making. I'm sure Katie's just going to LOVE the noise. She screams and says "ALL DONE!" when I bring out the Dyson, so I doubt she's going to be a fan of this. But it's got to be done.

Sigh.

I mean it, though, I really do feel grateful that we were able to get through this mess. I'm so grateful that Katie doesn't seem affected by her stinky night at all. She's as cheerful as ever, except for the fact that she has a pretty bad cold. Come to think of it, maybe she couldn't smell anything with her stuffy nose! That'd be an unexpected bonus.

Poor little angel!!!!!!!!!!!  :(  :(  :(

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dennis the Constitutional Peasant

                              King Arthur: "Old woman!"
                              Dennis: "Man!"
                              King Arthur: "Oh, sorry. Old man!"
                              Dennis: "I'm 37!"
                              King Arthur: "What?"
                              Dennis: "I'm 37, I'm not old!"

You guessed it: today I am 37. And although Dennis would disagree, I feel a bit old. I used to love my birthdays. That's probably because Anthony and I used to celebrate them at Disneyland. For the past two years, though, we've had other things (Katie) going on. It's a 6 hour drive or 1 hour flight to L.A., and neither of us feel up to doing either with Katie. Not to mention the park itself - 12+ hours of walking in the sun, carrying or strolling or walking with Katie, trying to keep her from getting trampled? I don't think so!  So birthdays these days are decidedly more low-key than they used to be.

One memorable summer, my birthday happened to coincide with an unofficial celebration at Disneyland: Bats Day in the Fun Park. It's basically a big Goth convention. Although it's not officially sanctioned by Disney, there's not a whole lot they can do about it if hundreds of Goths decide to show up on the same day. They were everywhere, wearing capes, parasols, corsets, knee-high lace-up boots, outrageous hair, piercings, and black, black, black from head to toe! It was awesome. However, they didn't really think it through: August is one of Anaheim's hottest months. It was in the 90's. Makes me kind of faint just thinking about it.

Another memorable visit was my 33rd birthday. Through sheer luck, my uncle happens to work with a guy who knows someone who's a member at Club 33, Disneyland's exclusive and posh "secret" club. It's not really a secret, I guess, but not many people know it's there. The entrance is right next to the Blue Bayou restaurant, and for years we wondered about the mysterious door with the discreet doorbell next to it. There is a 10-year waiting list to become a member, not to mention something like a $100,000 yearly membership fee, so to be able to go as a guest was an incredible opportunity. The food wasn't bad, either! But the real treat was being up on the balconies in New Orleans Square, where we'd never been before. So cool!

So this year, I'm feeling pretty apathetic about the big day. Maybe it's also because I'm now officially in my "late 30's." My thirties have been pretty spectacular so far, so I'm not thrilled about them being nearly over. But hey, they say 40 is the new 30, so that's good news.

Hopefully we'll be rested and energetic enough to take Katie to Disneyland soon!

33 at Club 33!



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sleep regression!

All is not well in the Cerna household.

On the upside, we are ecstatic to have our calm, peaceful house to ourselves again. Crazier Grandma - aka Grammy, aka Wammy - has gone back to Southern California. Whew. Katie has been asking for her, but so far no major tears or anything. Double whew. Mama is back to sleeping in a bed instead of on the couch. Triple whew. (It's a long story.)

But something has happened. The night before Wammy left, Katie went on a sleep regression bender. She was up from 2-5 am, and so was I. (This may or may not have been instrumental in convincing Wammy that it was indeed time to leave.) The next night she wailed for 45 minutes before falling asleep. Last night she cried for only 20 minutes when we put her down, but woke up screaming four times. Four! And the first waking, she screamed for 45 minutes before she finally went back down.

Anthony and I are frantic.

What on earth has happened? Her diet hasn't changed. She doesn't seem to be teething. She isn't sick. She seems totally fine during the day. But as soon as she cottons on that the naptime or bedtime routine is starting, she loses it. Does she suddenly hate her bed? Is there a monster in her closet? Does her lambie blanket need a wash? (Well, more than usual? That thing is gross.)

I know she'd rather be out playing. Today that was abundantly clear. I couldn't even get her to come in for lunch, but that was totally my fault. You see, Anthony and I just bought Katie the best toddler toy ever: the Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Water Park. She played with one at a friend's house, and it was obviously made for her. It has everything: water, balls, squirty fish, a ferris wheel, and a giant spirally funnel in which to throw the balls. Plus, Katie's extensive collection of giant bouncy balls fits perfectly through the spiral! Score.

I forgot all about the clock as I assembled this thing for her today. By the time I was finished, and Katie was dumping balls in at record-breaking pace, I realized it was already 12:20. Whoops, we were supposed to have lunch at 11:30! So I lured her inside with goldfish crackers (don't judge, I had to do something to tear her away from this fabulous toy!) She only picked at her lunch, which is typical these days, and then I took her straight to her room. She knew what was up by the time I'd reached the stairs. Somehow I managed to keep her calm through her diaper change, but once I got out the sleep sack it was all over. Scream city. She couldn't even hear me singing the bedtime song over the din.

I feel awful letting her cry. Awful! I hate sleep training. I hate everything about it except how well it works. Well, how well it USED to work, anyway. I don't know what to do. If I go in there and calm her like I did the first night, she will not let me put her back in the crib. It's terrible. I don't want to teach her that I'll go running in there every time she cries, but...it's so awful to listen and not be able to comfort her. She is crying right now.

Please, please, please, little girl, remember how to sleep again!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

I Dream of Blogging

Last night I dreamt that I came up with a great idea for a blog post while I was cleaning the kitchen. Wait, why am I dreaming about cleaning the kitchen? Oh, maybe because that's all I seem to do, day in and day out. Anyway, this blog post idea was so great, I was chuckling to myself in anticipation. I might have even been chuckling aloud in my sleep. I have no idea, I sleep with earplugs. In the dream, I used my phone to record a voice memo that was somehow linked to Blogger. The phone created a new post for me, complete with title, all ready for me to start typing.

Needless to say, when I woke up this morning, I found that my phone does not magically link to Blogger, and not only is there *not* a cleverly-titled blog post waiting to be written, I have zero idea what the post was supposed to be about. Maybe it was some funny spin on stressing about one's lack of blogging. Maybe it was some cutting insight about parenting a toddler. Maybe it was some gratuitous eye-rolling at the dazzlingly banal Olympic commentary I've been hearing the past few nights.

Probably, though, it was a whiny, complainy post about having houseguests. Does anyone really like houseguests? Martha Stewart, probably. But that's just so she can lord it over them what a nauseatingly good "home-keeper" she is. Me, I'm not going to win any home-keeping awards any time soon. On a given day, if I've figured out what's for dinner before 5pm, then I've done my home-keeping duties.

But I digress. Having houseguests is really not my favorite thing, particularly when it's my mom. Benjamin Franklin and I agree about fish and guests starting to smell after three days. Each day I find some new idiosyncrasy to marvel at. Or maybe, it's just that her idiosyncrasies and mine collide when she stays here. As you know, I'm crunchy and try to conserve water and energy, and minimize waste. My mom is the QUEEN of disposable everything. Where I use Tupperware, she uses layers and layers of plastic wrap, followed by another layer of aluminum foil. Where I use dishcloths, she uses gobs and gobs of paper towels. I can't remember the last time I even bought paper towels, that's how infrequently we use them, but since she's been here we've mysteriously run out! We've run out of tissues and toilet paper too. (Don't worry, I still use toilet paper. I'm not that crunchy!)

When my mom loads the dishwasher, she meticulously washes each and every dish before she puts it in. While she's doing that, she leaves the hot water running full blast. I'm surprised she hasn't run out of hot water yet - it's only a 50 gallon tank! And while I'm super grateful to have someone in the house who's willing to load the dishwasher, it's hard to sit back and watch her make one of the house's most useful appliances redundant. Sure, I get it, some stuff needs to be scraped off before it goes in the dishwasher. But not everything has to be hand washed first.

And then there's the subject of day-old bread. I recently got a bread machine, and have been baking fresh bread about every 2-3 days ever since. It's a mini bread machine that makes a teeny tiny loaf, but even so we usually have a hunk left over by the time the next loaf is baked. So I basically have a never-ending supply of stale bread. It's great - I can make homemade breadcrumbs or French toast. Well, I made French toast once. Not so much with breadcrumbs. But anyway, I was about to compost a particularly stale bit of bread when my mom threw a fit. She insisted that I keep it, despite my protestations that there was plenty more stale bread where that came from. She wrapped it in three layers of plastic wrap and some tinfoil, labeled it, and stuck it in my tiny fridge, where it sits today, 10 days later. I've baked 4 loaves since then, and we haven't finished a single one. I've had to sneak out to the compost bin when she wasn't looking.

I don't mean to suggest that I like to waste food - quite the opposite. But my mom's food-hoarding is a little over the top. She saves (in plastic wrap, of course) the weirdest, smallest bits of food imaginable, and she won't let me get rid of any leftovers. She stashes her hoard in my fridge, which is overflowing. I should post a pic but I'm too ashamed. In there right now is a partially-eaten hard boiled egg, some tiny wedges of baked potato from 2 weeks ago, and three separate batches of old, congealed spaghetti.  Even though I don't like to waste food, over the years I've come to the realization that it's still wasting food if you put it in your fridge for two weeks and then toss it out when it's moldy. So I like to cut out the mold middleman and only save what we will realistically eat.

So my fridge is overflowing, my TP and paper towel rolls are empty, but you know what? Katie is absolutely over the moon having Grammy here. She even asks for her in the morning. "Wammy! Wammy!" I've never seen anything like it. Today she tried appealing to Grammy for safe harbor when it was time for her nap. Nice try, little one! So even though it's trying, I'll put up with Grammy's shenanigans for Katie's sake. Now if only I could get her to stop hinting that I need to put on moisturizer...