Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Enthusiastic Eater

Ben really enjoyed his lasagna tonight. As did his hair, apparently.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Bad S Word and The Bad D Word

Rachel had gotten in the habit of calling things "stupid" and "dumb" when she didn't like them. Brushing her teeth, being asked not to stand on a chair, not being able to watch TV until her responsibilities are done - the things that fall into the category are legion.

We let her know that it was okay to talk about things that bothered her, but that we didn't want her to use those words. So now what does she do? "This a bad S word!" "That's a bad D word!"

Big improvement.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Suspicious Minds and Other Things

Rachel heard the beginning of "Suspicious Minds," where it says:

I'm caught in a trap, I can't get out

and sang "because a king locked me in the trap, and I can't get out and I want to rescue the princess."

The floodgate seems to have opened, and Ben is chattering away. We're still not hearing too many actual words, but he's imitating so many words and sounds now. He also will say things that seem to be very important and consist of 7 or 8 syllables delivered in an urgent manner with a look of intense focus as he says them to you. He had a good time on Sunday evening when Rachel spent the night at my mom's. I think he finally felt like he could get a word in edgewise! We got some good video, which I'll try to upload soon.

James arrived home as I was dishing up our meal. Rachel said "Daddy, you're just in time! Mommy's plating dinner." Can you tell she's been watching Food Network with me?

Rachel is becoming quite the Artiste. She asked today if she could paint the frame of her easel. I started to say no, then thought "Why not?" Here's the result of her artistic vision:

Red on the left, peacock blue on the right. The picture is of her swingset in the backyard.

The back pieces were pink and brown.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Nice, But a Firm Grasp of the Subject Matter

An exchange between my 5-year-old and I tonight and she fought going to bed.

"When I'm a teenager, I'm going to knock all these down," she declared, pointing to all the picture frames on the wall outside her room, tracing lines in the glass with her finger to indicate the glass being broken.

"If you do that, I'll just use money from your bank account to replace them all," I suggested.

"If you do that, I'm going to take all your money," she quickly threw back.

"Um.. uh... you can't.  It's not here..." I stammered, wondering if she'd believe me and trying to think quickly about whether it was a good point for a lesson on how money's not real and how it's just numbers coming into and going out of our bank account. 

Apparently I paused for too long because without missing a beat she angrily said "I knowI'm going to do it online.  And I'm going to take all your money."   And just like that, I was on the losing end of the argument again.

"You can't do that," I responded, thinking passwords and the complexity of online banking and wondering how we'd separate her account off from ours (and when) to prevent us from getting at our money, thinking that maybe I'd missed the chance to calm the conversation down.

"I'm going to get your password and I'm going to make it mine.  I'm going to watch you every time you use the computer and I'm going to get your password.  And then I'm going to take all your money."

I've always said that I would make an excellent criminal if not for the whole moral compass pointing the other way owed to my strong believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and I'm not willing to gamble my eternal future on what would otherwise be an interesting, dangerous and fun career.  While I'm pretty sure she'll come down on that side of things when her logic and moral compass catch up with her intelligence, if she goes the other way, I hope she'll put her ol' mom and dad in a nice downtown condo with great views of the Sound.

(Don't get mad, Adrea, the last part is pure humor.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I Think We Have a Budding Writer

Rachel has started to write her own stories. Her first story, "The Big Pig," is still being edited and completed. She is literally coming up with a storyline, and going back through and making changes, before James helps her put the words down along with the illustrations she's already done. It's supposed to be a surprise for me, but she started working on in a while back and was telling me a little about it before she decided it was a surprise. So shhh, don't say anything to me about it.

Her second book was written last week and is "Barbie & The Dog & The Three Puppys." I think that one may already be complete - apparently she had a burst of inspiration.

Today she told me about a third book she'd just started, "The Rainbow Bird." Although the title she'd written herself was "The Rnbw Brd." She's really getting consonants down but still needs some work on vowels :)

I've heard a number of authors talk about how they've always written stories, even as children. Perhaps we have a little J.K. Rowling on our hands. Her creativity is inspiring, and I love that she just decided to start writing stories down. She's much better at using her imagination than I am, and I hope she never loses that.

She's starting to pick up on a lot of words all of a sudden, and it's exciting to see and hear her learning so much. I'm excited for her to be able to start reading more books and discovering some of them on her own, although it's also fun to read them with her. I hope that she loves reading as much as I did as a child, and still do.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Short Con

So you know how you're walking along and a piece of clothing catches on something?  Like the pocket of a pair of shorts on a door handle (how I destroyed a cabinet door during the tile project) or a pull cord from a hoodie gets caught in something.  (Yes, I said hoodie.  Please, try to get past it quickly.  It's an easy description of something that can get caught.)

So yesterday, the baby gate was leaning against a wall because Ben was taking a nap.  Otherwise it would be across the hall at the foot of the stairs.  I'm upstairs in our bedroom and Rachel's down on the main floor.  All of the sudden I hear "Oh no!"  I poke my head out of our room and ask Rachel what's wrong.  I see her standing by the gate, and a tie from her shirt (it ties in back) was hooked on part of the baby gate.  "I'm stuck," she told me, sounding really concerned.  I encouraged her to get unstuck herself, telling her it's probably not very stuck and that she's really smart and can figure it out, adding that if she's really stuck, I'll be down in a second to help her.  She fusses with it and protests that she's still stuck.  So I repeat that I'll be down in a second. 

All of the sudden, her demeanor changes.   The concern is gone from her face, her posture, her voice.  She lifts the string off of the gate, smiles, looks at me and announces that she was just kidding.

Are you kidding me?  My daughter, at the age of 5, planned out a con, all the way from looping the shirt to the gate to calling out in anguish and concern.


The Rainbow Cake

A while back, I saw a post on my friend Adrea's blog about a rainbow cake made with boxed cake mix and gel food color. I clicked on the link she had included and made my way to the Omnomicon blog (as in "om nom nom"), where they had detailed instructions and some beautiful photos.

I just so happen to know a little girl who's really into girlie things and rainbows and such, and I thought "That doesn't look so hard. I should make that for her birthday." So I showed her the pictures and asked if she'd like a cake like that this year, and she jumped on it.

Basically, you make the cake mixes as directed, then divide them up evenly into 6 bowls. Into each bowl, you put a color of the rainbow, and stir it to get the color mixed evenly. Then you layer the colors into 2 round or 9x13 cake pans and bake. (Check the Omnomicon post for detailed instructions.)

It wasn't that difficult, really, but it took some time to get a few of the colors really deep and saturated. The red in particular took quite a bit of color to get it looking truly red and not just pink, and the purple took a healthy amount of gel paste, too. I think that mixing some of the colors a lot more than others made the cake rise unevenly, since the pans came out with off-center humps. So I think my goal would be to stir the cake mix just until evenly dampened, then try to stir the bowls a roughly equal amount when mixing in the colors.

I forgot to take any photos while the batter was still in bowls, which is a bummer, because it looked cool. But here are the layers in the pans, ready to go into the oven:

Close-up of the red/orange/yellow layer:

Close-up of the purple/blue/green layer:

The baked layers:
And here's a slice of the finished product:
The outside of the cake is another fun story, for another day. I actually do think making this cake was worth the effort, because it wasn't that hard, just a little time-consuming. Rachel loved it, and it got a big response from others, too. And it just flat looked cool.

Ho! Parry! Ha!

Ben has taken to picking up the stick from the sliding glass door (the one that stays in the track and is supposed to provide a little more security when the door is shut and locked) and carrying it around like a quarterstaff. I just keep thinking of the cartoon with Daffy Duck when I see him walking around with it. Go to about 1:15 to see what I'm talking about.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Not For the Faint of Heart

But then neither is parenting. Still, if you're particularly squeamish, you may not want to read this entry.

Last week, I walked into the living room to find Ben standing there, stark naked. It was hot, so he'd just been running around wearing a diaper. Apparently the weight of its wetness combined with a lack of stretchy sides on the Target diaper he was wearing caused it to fall clean off of him. He was so cute standing there, and I figured it was either just one of those things that happens once in a blue moon, or that I need to start buying the more expensive stretchy-side Huggies or Pampers if he's got the power to cause them to fall off just by peeing in them.

An hour ago, he was standing in the kitchen with a little shirt and his diaper on, and I noticed the diaper was loose on one side. I figured I'd better grab it and get it back on him before it completely fell off and we had an unplanned fountain. So I step forward and grab the diaper, just as it falls off of him. I decide I'd better just go put a new diaper on him, when all of a sudden, I realize there's a strange on my toe. I look down, and there's poop sitting on it.

Apparently when I stepped next to him and grabbed the falling diaper, it was precisely timed with the release of a bowel movement, which handily fell on my toe. Disgusting, and yet part of me was just glad it didn't splat onto the kitchen floor.

This is why parenting is not for wimps.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Before & After

Ben had his third haircut today. I posted pictures from his first haircut, which was just a little trim to clean his hair up. The second cut gave him more of a little boy haircut, but the one he had today is shorter on top and makes him looks SO OLD. I swear he looks 2, except for the fact that he still only has 7 teeth.

Here's a picture from a few days ago:

And one from today:
I actually prefer his hair with a little more length on top, but we went to a different hairstylist today because I'd waited too long to make appointments and the one we usually use was all booked up. The nice thing is that, even though it's an Aveda salon, the kids only cost $5.50 plus $1 for every year of their age. So Ben was $6.50 and Rachel was $10.50, plus tip. You can't even get their hair cut that cheaply at Great Clips, and they get to go to a nice salon and have the same stylist (usually) cutting their hair, so it's someone familiar to them who knows how Ben's hair should look.

It's a bit more for mine, but after years of Super Cuts and Great Clips, James thought I deserved to go someplace a little more upscale and have my own regular person. And I agreed.