Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Trees with Toddlers

We are just about to embark on that annual tradition (for some anyway) of finding and decorating our Christmas tree!  I am completely in love with this activity because of all the good memories I have from childhood.  My mom always made us wait until after her birthday (in early December) to get our tree because I think we were begging for one the moment Halloween was over.  It has to be a real tree, it has to be full-sized (as big as your room will allow) and it has to be a fir.  Now as a big, old grown-up I still get such a thrill from seeing the tree go up in the living room and slowly turn into a sparkling confection. 

This year, however, we have a toddler.  All my thrill is turned to trepidation.  What might she do?  Will she try to climb it?  Pull it over?  Shake the branches off?  Steal all the ornaments?  Do we have to anchor it to the wall?  Should we put it up on a table, hid it behind couches, or maybe tie it to the ceiling?  I just don't know what to expect.  I know it may seem like I'm over-reacting, but I've heard some horror stories of trees that came crashing down, so I want to be careful.  I'll have to do some research.  Any advice from parents of older children would certainly be welcome. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

No Napping but Fun with Trains

Well we are back from our big trip to visit the Oregon family.  We had a wonderful time visiting with everyone and enjoying the charms of small towns.  The one tough spot was napping.  In five hours down and six hours back (we hit traffic on the way home) the baby did not sleep one skinny wink.  Several times we saw her start to nod and rub her eyes, and then she would actually begin pinching and slapping herself to stay awake!  I absolutely could not believe my eyes!  I guess she really, really did not want to miss one single moment.

Nevertheless, she was a superb travelling companion in every other way.  She really seemed to enjoy seeing everybody, and all the new places were clearly very interesting.  Perhaps her favorite part was being able to see the train station out the tenth floor window of our hotel.  She watched the "choo-choos" with great enthusiasm and would run to pull the curtains back whenever she heard the whistle blow. I even heard her falling asleep one night saying "choo choo choo choo" in the tiniest, sleepiest, limpest little voice imaginable.  Luckily we found a wooden train engine at the holiday market to help commemorate our trip.   

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

"There's lots to eat on Thanksgiving Day: stuffing, greenbeans, yam souffle.  And even though it's    sort of quirky we don't believe in eating turkey."  (Sloane Tanen)

I couldn't agree more!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Changes (and not the diaper kind)

The big news out of our house, aside from Delphinium's ever-increasing cuteness, is that M has himself a brand new job!  His old one was still good (not a lay-off or anything like that) but he wanted to try out something new.  He's been with Goliath Corp. for more than a decade, and it sounded interesting to try a whole different company entirely.  I'm excited that he's excited by the new challenge. 

The only down-side to all this newness is that his future job will be a chunk further away from home than the one he has now.  He will be experimenting with different routes, departure times, and modes of transportation until he finds the best combination.  Even so, we may have to move to facilitate a more manageable commute.  This too is exciting because it means we will get to explore a new area and possibly be closer to lots of the people and activities that we enjoy. 

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that we are all in a state of upheaval.  Everything seems exhilarating, daunting, fresh, and also uncertain.  Time will answer many of our questions about what our new life might look like.  However, I suspect that there are many things about which we will actively need to make choices.  A small (and wimpy) part of me says "but it was just so comfy the way it was!"  Then again, who wants to live in the same house, have the same job, and go the same places for their entire adult life?  Not me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Flab

Cue ominous music.  It's coming.  You know it's coming and there's nothing you can do to stop it.  Holiday eating!  Plates of cream puffs and cookies are wending their way to your house.  There may even be a few peppermint martinis out there as well.  Who can resist Grandma's turkey or a pile of rich chocolate coins?  You can't hide, and your rear end is going to pay the price.

According to several sources, the average person gains one to two pounds between Halloween and New Year.  For many people this is the only extra weight they gain all year.  It doesn't sound like much, but if you never get that weight off, and you gain a little more every year, it really adds up.  Might this be the real source of the dreaded "middle-aged spread?"

We can and should try to limit our indulgences, but it can be REALLY tough to say "no" to a meal or a cookie made by loved ones.  Heck it can be hard to say "no" to a sleeve of bad grocery store cookies at this time of year!  Thus we must plan to push the exercise to help make up for the extra calories.  Two pounds is 7000 calories.  We must make it our firm goal to burn at least this much extra during the months of November and December.

Half an hour of brisk (or better yet, uphill) walking burns about 130-160 calories (on average of course).   This means we need about fifty walks to burn our extra load.  That may sound like a lot, but when you consider that there are sixty-one days in this season, it's really not so hard.  Of course you can replace some daily walks with gym workouts or hikes, but the point is to (roughly at least) count it out. 

Some would laugh and/or groan at this level of calorie counting, but I think it makes us mindful of what we are actually consuming.  Instead of mindlessly eating mashed potatoes all day, we can stop to think of how much time in the gym they equal.  Moderation in all things leads to happy holidays and skinnier waistlines!  That's my plan anyway, so please help me stick to it.  Hike anyone?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ode to Bad Cranberry Sauce

Har! Har! I love this article from Chow. I have always enjoyed the nasty canned cranberry sauce of my childhood, and no amount of persuading from my foodie husband can dislodge me from this position. I KNOW it's awful red goo, but it conjurs some great memories.  Besides, it's got those fabulous can ridges for perfect cutting!  This author does a wonderful job of outlining "our" position.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Library Books on Your Kindle

You read that correctly!  The largest downside to the Kindle, high prices on books, has now been eliminated!  Anyone can now go online, borrow ebooks from the library, and then download them to their personal device without ever leaving the house or paying a cent.  That is pretty much the best news since "it's a healthy girl" in my book. 

In our neck of the woods, you just visit this part of the King County Library System and follow a few simple steps.  It took me a few tries before I was quick at the process, but it really is not very difficult to understand.  First you put the book in your digital "bag" go through "check out" and then log in to Amazon to push the book to your Kindle.  You get to keep it for three weeks which is more than enough time to read the average novel. 

As if that were not enough, you can actually check out up to twenty books at a time.  That may sound crazy, but if you are using your Kindle on a long trip, twenty might be a reasonable number.  Think about that; a whole stack of books will take up almost no space at all.  One last bit of icing on the cake is that there are children's picture books available too.  That way, when you aren't busy reading Proust or Huxley or The Naughty Duke, your child can enjoy some Go Dogs Go.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven

Today is 11/11/11.  I know last year contained a 10/10/10 and next year will have 12/12/12, but there is something extra special about today.  My baby brother, The Professor, always used to get all excited when 11:11 would appear on the clock.  He used to say that you had to stop, close your eyes, and make a wish.  This used to irritate me no end since it was nothing but superstitious nonsense. Now that I am so much older and wiser, I try to leave room for possibilities.  Today on 11/11/11 at 11:11 (both?) be sure to make an extra good (big?) wish.  If nothing else it will make you smile just to think of the object of your desire.  Good luck!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

I love The New York Times!  They always have interesting food articles (not to mention the current events, science, education, etc.) and I often find myself posting or forwarding something from them.  Today is no different.  I'm always excited to see any positive mention of vegetarians (instead of the usual nasty jokes) in a piece about Thanksgiving.  You know, some small mention of what a host might provide for their meatless guests other than mashed potatoes and dinner rolls.  The times devoted an entire article!  It veers fairly far from the traditional, but it does offer a fabulous array of choices, and a cook could you parts of the menu even if they weren't up to producing the whole.  I will certainly be giving some of these recipes a try before the big day.

Monday, November 07, 2011

First Sentences

Our kid is one of those little people (are they all this way?) who prefers to work on one single skill at a time.  When she was learning to walk, nearly all talking was put on hold.  Now that she has walking (and jumping and running and wiggling) down to a science, verbal skills are really ramping up.  New words are appearing at a rapid pace, and I'm doing my best to keep up and decipher all that talking.

The very first sign language sentence the baby put together was "more fruit."  This is not surprising given that "more" and "fruit" are two of her favorite concepts.  She's used these words, alone and together, for some time now.  Then, just a few days ago, she said her first sentence using words.  This time it was "more peas." She prefers them left frozen thank you very much.

In other language news, the words of the week are "apple" and "car" and "happy."  The first two are used in the most obvious way as in when she wants the first or sees the second.  The third one gets used like this happyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappy!      

Friday, November 04, 2011

Halloween 2011

Holidays have taken on a whole new cast since we had the baby.  It's just such a thrill to watch her experience things with fresh eyes.  Okay so she didn't love everything.  The costume was pretty much a bust since she would only wear the whole thing for about five minutes.  The base layer was a white onesie and purple dotted leggings, and that was all fine with her because it was normal clothing.  However, the green tulle tiara, green, purple, and blue tutu, and purple sparkly wings were just not something she wanted to endure.  For those five minutes though, she was adorable (thanks Grandma!).

We met up with our younger cousin (the elder is too grown up for this sort of thing) and her friend in the afternoon, and then we trick or treated at Daddy's work.  Who can resist warm, dry, indoor candy fest where each bowl of booty is mere feet from the next?  The magnitude of the haul was quite shocking, but that doesn't matter since the baby doesn't realize that any of it is actually edible.  Maybe it's wrong of me, but I've been keeping her in the dark on that score.  Nonetheless, she thoroughly enjoyed the "game" of gathering candy, saying thank you (she can't manage "trick or treat" quite yet) and dropping the goodies in her bucket.

Next we headed home, enjoyed Dad's homemade pumpkin soup, and went "real" trick or treating in the neighborhood.  There were lots of kids out in our area, and it really gave the whole experience a carnival kind of feel.  Many houses decorate in our area, so we kept coming across new and unusual scenes.  After about the first five minutes, our girl refused to be carried.  So what if it was late!  So what if she'd already walked all over the office building!  If the other people could walk than so could she!  I will never forget her tiny form, hand in hand with Daddy, swathed in purple fleece coat and purple sparkle wings (the only part of the costume she would still wear at that point) marching along the dark sidewalks.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Quotable Camus

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Baby Stays Awake

October 15th was the very first time in her whole life that Delphinium did not sleep during the day.  Not even five minutes.  She was teething, it's true, but she didn't seem uncomfortable at the time.  In fact, she didn't cry at all during her not nap.  Instead she sat up in her crib and read stories to herself and to her babies.  After about 90 minutes of this, I just couldn't stand it any more, and I had to go pick her up.  I don't want her to feel as if I've abandoned her in the corner, but usually when I leave her in the crib at naptime, she falls asleep!  Not this day. 

Oddly enough, she wasn't particularly difficult the rest of the day.  By evening she was certainly tired, but she did not become the tantrum monster or the whiner I thought we might encounter.  Luckily she went back to sleeping the next day.  This is a very good thing since I don't think either one of us is ready for the naps to end just yet.