Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Mom! Emergency downstairs!"

I've been working on independence with Talia (Well, I call it "working in independence" but it's really "working on letting Mommy sleep in"). I'm willing to put up with a little mess in exchange for the extra sleep. Talia has successfully gotten herself breakfast a few times recently and also does a pretty good job of taking care of Alex on weekend mornings. I suppose keeping the cereal on the absolute highest shelf in the closet (I can hardly reach it) isn't exactly the best place for it. Over the summer I tried keeping a low shelf with foods that the kids are allowed to take on their own but somehow I fell out of that habit. This is the emergency situation I was called to at 7:45 this morning. Someone owes me about $3 and an hour of extra sleep. I'll just put it on the kids' tab.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

My own Tiger Mom moment

I want to Talia to love reading as much as I do. I was an early reader, so it killed me that Talia was not reading books by kindergarten. I tried not to push her. I believe intellectually that play-based learning is superior to book learning in preschool and kindergarten but in my heart I still wonder. I tried sitting down with her and making reading fun. I gave no judgement and just tried to make it special time with mommy. I offered tons of praise. I bought pretty bookmarks and a book timer. I took her to the bookstore and let her pick out her own books. Every week I go to the library and take about 60 kids' books. We read tons to the kids each night (which they love love love), we fill our home with books, we model reading ourselves and talk about the joy of it. And, eventually, she got it. By the beginning of first grade she was reading reliably and now, in the middle of first grade she can read almost anything with little or no help.

BUT. She doesn't really want to.

And why would she? We have TV, DVD, Netflix on Demand, iPod, iPad, computer, and art closet that rivals any preschool, ballet, swimming, skiing, gymnastics, playing with friends, a million toys and a billion other entertainments and distractions. If it wasn't something I could do in my bed I wonder how much I would be reading too.

Talia doesn't mind reading if it's only for a little while. She will sometimes read eagerly but not for very long. And she likes to read books that she can finish in one sitting. We have tons of easy readers and picture books. I might have to twist her arm a little bit to get started but she's definitely gotten into the habit of reading at least one book for pleasure each night. The problem is... I want her to WANT to read. I want her to see it as an answer to her own question, "What can I DO???" I want her to WANT to snuggle in her bed and open a book and get lost in it. I want her to read chapter books so that she CAN get lost in them.

So finally, I made her. This was my Tiger Mom moment. I am the ever-praising, super-patient, non-pushy, non-disciplining, "find your own path sweetheart" kind of parent that everyone refers to. This time I just put my foot down and told her she had to read one chapter with me every day. "But I don't WANT to!" "But you can't MAKE me!" "Why do I HAVE to?" Because I said so. And because you will not watch tv, play with an iPad, or have a playdate until you do. In the amount of time that you have been arguing with me about this you could be done already. There was crying and kicking and fighting. I did my part in choosing a book that would be really fun for her (Something about a first grade group of girls who decide to have a princess club in school). I also made sure that it was time for us together. Just the two of us. I let her snuggle up all over me and gave her my full attention.

The first day she scowled the whole time and didn't sit with me and read to herself. The second day we went through the whole fight again. "But you can't actually MAKE a person do ANYTHING!" Actually I can, and I will. But she sat with me on the couch and read to herself and I kissed her head and was very very affectionate. The third day she said, "We can go read my book now, if you want..." and she read aloud to me. Then she told me that she kind of likes the book and maybe wants to start the next chapter. Then yesterday she told me she read a chapter to Alex in her bed in the morning. Last night we couldn't find the book and she was quite disappointed. This morning we found it and she jumped for joy and settled herself on the steps and started reading. She brought it to school and asked her teacher if she could read it during reading time in class. I KNEW that if she just TRIED it, she would like it.

Mission accomplished.
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sometimes I knit.

I started this hat for Talia in 2009, while I was pregnant with Shayna. I made Shayna a little newborn one and promised Talia I would make a matching one for her. It took me over a year but I finally returned to the project last week and voila! a bunny hat! Now I've started one for Alex in gray with pink stripes. Sometimes I forget how pleasurable knitting is. It can get a little boring so I try to stick with small projects. For Alex's I put in a rib at the bottom instead of a roll, just to change it up a little and make it more interesting. I just finished the rib and am starting the first pink stripe. Now Ron wants one and Shanya needs a new one so I may be busy with that for a while.

I have many projects I'm working on right now-- a quilt for my nephew (I'm in the basting stage, ugh!), a top secret paper project that is a gift, and a loooooooong wish list of other projects. It's nice to have my creative energy back after a dry spell. But now I don't want to go to the gym as much. I really only have time for one or the other. Not both.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Miso-Glazed Cod

I made fish tonight! Ron hates fish and therefore didn't love it but he did eat it and I thought it was great! And easy! I used Ellie Krieger's recipe for Miso Glazed Cod and as well as her Miso Snap Peas recipe (although I jazzed it up by adding uncooked packaged broccoli slaw and a fresh red pepper- I mean, if you're going to go to all that trouble to COOK her dressing ON THE STOVE you may as well get a big hearty salad from it...). In retrospect, perhaps Ellie didn't leave the cod skin on but that was the best part by far. I never cook fish (because of Ron) or meat (because of me) so I was definitely a little anxious about it. I may have also set a little fire using my broiler for, I think, practically the first time ever (it was broken for three years) but the fish ended up perfectly cooked to all's well that ends well, right? I'm always amazed at how simple and easy cooking a protein for dinner is. I think my life would be a lot easier if I ate some meat or if Ron would eat some fish.

We've been watching a lot of cooking shows at my house. Alex and Shayna are sick and for some reason that means Alex wants to watch the Food Network all day. Maybe it's because he knows I'll watch it with him. We definitely bond over cooking shows. Hopefully I'll be inspired by another recipe tomorrow. I did see this shrimp one but Ron will NOT allow it...
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

I made a mermaid!

After avoiding my sewing machine for a few months, I'm back in there. I've been working on a quilt for my nephew Joel who is coming home from the NICU really really soon! I'm waiting for some more backing fabric to arrive in the mail so I can finish the quilt. I decided to work on an easy little project to stay in the creative mood. I used the Mermaiden pattern from the Wee Wonderfuls book. I'm not big on making stuffies but this one looked so easy. I used an old pair of cords for the hair and bits of fabric I had around the sewing room for the rest. She took me an hour and a half but the next one should be much much quicker. I certainly can't give it to Talia without promising Alex one too. There is a cute stuffed trolley in the book but I bet he's still going to want a mermaid. I could maybe change one into a mer-man. That might be satisfactory. Then again, if my boy really wants a mermaid, he'll get a mermaid!
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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Is it possible that my mom is a genius?

I've written before that my mom isn't the most "domestic" mom on the planet. She has no idea who gave me the "crafty" gene. And yet today, I'm wondering if my mom is maybe a crafty, problem-solving genius. See, I'm always complaining that my pants are falling down. Sadly it's not because I've lost tons and tons of weight (well, ok, a little!) but because I'm always buying jeans and pants with some stretch in them. I've become so used to comfy yoga pants that I can't bear to put on anything that actually fits. (Gee, I wonder why Talia will only wear leggings?!?) So I put on my jeans in morning, straight from the wash let's say, and I can hardly close them. By lunchtime they've stretched enough so that I can pull them down without even unbuttoning them! It's pretty frustrating and always leads me back to those yoga pants (oh how I love thee). Enter my mom who tells me she has been sewing (!) on a second button to all her pants for at least a year. Once the pants start to stretch she just moves them over to the second button. DUH! I bought a package of jeans buttons from Joann's-- you don't even have to sew them, just hammer them in! Now my pants aren't falling down (as much)! I think my mom might be a genius!
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Saturday, January 01, 2011

Have I solved our nutrition problem?!?!

I have three kids. Talia is a good eater. Recently she has become eager to try new foods. Shayna, so far, has not refused any foods at all. Whatever you give her, she will eat. Then there is Alex. He eats pretty much nothing with nutritive value. He subsists on yogurt, bread and chocolate. I read somewhere about a disorder found in little boys in which they slowly and systematically cut out more and more foods that they previously liked. I think he has that disorder. He used to eat peanut butter. Then he would only eat it on Uncrustables. Now he won't eat it at all. He used to eat cheese sticks. He doesn't like them anymore. As I said, it's only yogurt and bread. The bread shouldn't have crust and yogurt, for the love of God, should only be the "smooth" kind with no "freckles" in it.

The interesting thing is that Alex is my sous chef. He loves to cook. I bought him some kiddie knives and he helps me prep everything. He is the head salad dressing maker. He cuts the cucumbers. He won't try anything. I know I'm not supposed to make a big deal out the eating issues. I rarely mention it. We eat dinner together as a family about 99% of the time and I want it to be a pleasant experience where we talk about our day and enjoy each other's company. Ron, Talia and I model varied, healthful eating. We encourage and reward trying new foods and mostly ignore the rest of it. Maybe it's about control but Alex is so easygoing in every other area that it doesn't make sense.

Most of the time I just ignore it, as I said. I know people who ate nothing but pb&j their entire childhoods and they are fine (and more adventurous eaters) now. Every once in a while I panic about the whole thing. He's not underweight or anything, I just worry about him missing some essential nutrients.

Recently I bought a juicer as a gift for myself. Alex, ever my helper, happily pushed all the fruit and vegetables in. Miraculously-- he drank it! Through juicing he has now had his very first carrots! He had a pear! and a lime! and oranges! and apples! and blackberries! I'm going to try to move into juicing veggies a little bit more and see what I can get him to try! It's very exciting!
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