Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A moth wakes up!

The first moth emerged after several weeks of going "night night" in the dirt.

This is obviously not a blog quality picture but really.  So cute.

Henry is telling all about how the caterpillar went night night in the dirt and that he finally woke up as a moth.  He was VERY proud and excited of his moth's achievement.

We went outside and admired our ugly brown moth.
The moth was surprisingly large, probably larger than my thumb.
He might be ugly but he is ours!

Henry's excitement quickly turned to devastation when he realized the moth was going to fly away.

After several patient minutes of explaining that the moth had to leave the flowerpot in order to find his mama so that he could make babies, he was finally okay with the prospect of his moth flying away.  

And let me tell you, his excitement was just as large two mornings later when a second moth emerged.
And, he didn't even cry when it was time for the moth to fly away!

Note to my fabulous readers: 
** Henry does own and wear other clothes even though I'm pretty sure this is the only outfit that has been pictured in the last few posts.  It just looks so comfy that I put him back in it as soon as it is washed and clean.

** I did not let Henry bite his baby sister just so I could get a picture for my blog.  I honestly did not even realize that I got the perfect picture of The Bite until 3 days later when I was looking through the pictures in my camera, well after I wrote my post about brain research and dealing with toddlers.  Seriously.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Leading up to the latest bite.

Watch the unfolding of THE bite that inspired my blog post Brain Research and Changing Attitudes.

Just hanging out and playing on the front porch.  The college girls next door had a raging party at 3 in the afternoon so we were just chilling to the sounds of a horde of sorority girls drinking beer and singing along to dirty booty rap, i.e. a normal day in the 'hood.

Taylor brought home the book Castle  about the design and construction of a medieval castle.  So Henry was very happily playing with his very own castle.  

Liza was busy eating sidewalk chalk.

Just looking super cute checking out some junk in the corner of the porch.

I mean, really.  How cute is this girl?
Especially wearing her ridiculously cute fleece skirty Mandi had made for her 1st birthday.

Uh oh.
Cute girl is perilously close to Henry's toys....

Swiper, no swiping!
Just kidding.  We don't do Dora.

But, she swiped.

And, according to my camera, exactly 3 seconds later.......

He bites.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Brain research and changing attitudes

Scenario 1:  Henry is playing with "his" toy.  Liza, of course, decides it should be "her" toy. A few months ago, Henry would have pushed her down so hard I worried about brain damage but these days he starts with a "no, Lulu" and then attempts to create a physical barrier with his body to protect the toy.  All very good and respectful to baby sissy......until, he sees that she is well on her way to claiming victory over the toy.  At this point, she is flailing her little arms with her new trick of hitting her way to a successful toy take-over....and that little flailing arm waves in Henry's face.  And, he bites.  Hard.

Scenario 2:  Henry and Liza are playing very nicely, albeit always very roughly.  Henry is happily hollering in his loud little way and then..... I hear screams.  Screams of pain coming from Liza.  I ask what is wrong.  She waves her injured hand in my face and he says, "I bit Lulu."  This scenario took me a few times to unravel but I finally saw it in action and realized that as he is hollering for fun, she sticks her fat little 12 month old finger squarely in his mouth.  And, he bites.  Hard.

My reaction:  Scoop up Liza and tell Henry to go to to his room.  He calmly walks in his room and plays with his toys while I nurse Liza until she is calm.  We play one-on-one a bit.  I start cleaning and, um, usually forget about Henry playing in his room until he starts yelling that he is ready to get out.  I yell back that he needs to wait until I come and get him.  I have him tell me what he did wrong - "I bit Lulu" - and then he gives his sissy a hug and life continues.

Is this a timeout?  No.  We've tried all sorts of timeouts and they don't work.  He gets upset.  I get upset because he won't stay where he is supposed to stay.  And, then it becomes a battle of wills.  And, we are both strong-willed.  It was always very ugly and I didn't like it.

Truth be told, it's more of a timeout for me.  I have quiet time to calm down Liza and quiet time to reflect about what just happened.  And, I'm very thankful that something in his brain has clicked and given him the ability to finally go into his room and play for a few minutes on his own.

So yeah.  I'm not upset and punishing him for the biting.  I  always remind him that biting is never the answer to a problem and I make sure he notices that biting Liza results in making her cry and hurting her feelings.  A few minutes later, we will casually discuss things he can do when he is upset instead of hurting and I tell him that I like when he tells me when Liza upsets him so I can be the mama and deal with the problem.

This is a BIG change from just a few months ago when I would get boilingly angry at Henry for hurting Liza.  It seemed so purposeful and hateful and cruel on his part.  I couldn't understand how he could be having so much fun with her in one moment and then push her down so hard that I would check to see if her eyes were crossed.

Then I started reading about positive parenting.  I really like the positive parenting concepts of always showing love and respect to your children but I simply couldn't comprehend not getting angry when Henry hurts Liza.  That is, until I began reading about toddler brain research and brain science and then it clicked.

At 3, Henry's frontal lobe is still very immature.  Brain research clearly states the frontal lobe is responsible for higher mental functions, including self control and impulse control.  He is physically incapable of controlling himself at all times.

Physically incapable.

And, that made all the difference for me.

After more reading, I learned that in order to properly wire his brain for the kind of loving and respectful self-control I so desperately ache to see in my house, he must consistently see loving and respsectful self-control modeled.

And, my former reaction of yelling, stomping my foot and pointing my finger and allowing my emotions to rule the moment is not the way I want my little boy to treat others.

It's hard but I'm trying.

And, I'm pretty sure Henry is too.

Interested in learning more:
Positive Parents
AHA Parenting
Teach Through Love

Yep.  I got it on camera.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Saucy Lentils My Way

This is my absolute favorite way to eat lentils.  And, even though you can easily substitute the stock for water, don't leave out the red wine!  

Braised Lentils My Way 
*adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian 

2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped,
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tblsp paprika
0.5 cup red wine 
2 cups vegetable stock or water (I usually use water and it's fine)
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
salt and pepper

1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot.
2. When hot, cook onion and carrot until the onion is soft.
3. Add garlic and paprika and cook for another minute.
4. Add wine, stock/water and lentils.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a low simmer so the mixture still gently bubbles.
6. Cover and stir occasionally until the lentils are tender (30-45 minutes).
7. Serve over brown rice or mix with rice to use as a stuffing for bell peppers/zucchinis, etc.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

loving my readers giveaway!

So.  My sister mentioned The Pioneer Woman today and I realized I haven't read my most favorite blog in entirely too long.  I've missed her.  And, I didn't even realize it.

Do you know The Pioneer Woman?  If not, you are missing out big time.  P-Dub (man, I need a reggae self-named nickname!) is like Ellen.  She makes you laugh just being herself.  Like, as in every time you read something on her blog you are guaranteed to laugh out loud.  LOL.  Seriously.  And, I pride myself in never typing LOL.  Or LMAO.

So.  I was catching up with P-Dub tonight, LMAO as usual, when I saw a link to her "Ten Most Important Things I've Learned About Blogging".  So I clicked.  And, I found yet another fact confirming my suspicion that TPW is my long lost older sister.  Her tips are the same as mine when asked about getting more traffic on a blog.  Except that she is funny.  Like Ellen.  And, try as I might, I am not funny like that.

Well.  She did include one tip that really opened my eyes:

10. Value every person who takes time out of their day to stop by your blog.
Tell ‘em you love ‘em. Regularly.

P-Dub made me realize I don't address *you*, my readers, often enough.  I need to give more love and ummail off those books from my last giveaway, to make sure everyone knows I appreciate every clickable effort you exert to get over to check on my messy messy life.  

And, trust me, I know clicking around the internet is a lot to keep up with and I LOVE that you choose to click over to me!

I'm feeling like this post should wrap up in a giveaway but I'm at a loss being as how it is 9pm (ergo, my brain is non-functioning past the 7 o'clock hour) and this giveaway thought just struck me.  

So.  A surprise giveaway it is!

Leave a comment.  Tell me something.  Anything.  I'll let you know you wins the giveaway as soon as I decide what to giveaway and when the giveaway is over.


pics of chicks!

A small introduction to our Rhode Island Reds...

Henry loves them and he also loved the spaghetti we ate that night.
Can you tell?

This is Lil Chick.
 An apt title in reference to her comparatively diminutive size.
Not an apt title considering the fact that she is clearly at the top of the pecking order.
She definitely rules the roost!

We liked the idea of free-range chickens in our backyard.....
for about 3 days.  

Poop.  Poop. Poop. 

Taylor built a run connected to the chickens' sweet little chicken coop.

This has made enjoying the chickens much easier.

Henrietta is hanging out in the nesting box, i.e. our house's original sink.

Sister is pretty much obsessed with the chickens.  Approximately 412 times a day, she runs to the back door and says "gup".  

Gup is her general word for things she loves.

And, yes, we do love our chickens!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

our nature tray.

A nature table plays an important role in a Waldorf education....a place to gather seasonal objects and allow children to connect with nature by bringing it to eye and hand level.

I've been itching to get a nature table set up for Henry for quite a while but was stumped by the "table" concept.  

So I did what I do best; I improvised.  This ratty rattan tray was found in the trash across the street during one of our "college students throw away the best stuff" sessions of garbage grazing.  Ratty but perfect!  The tray makes it mobile which is a good thing because a three-year-old needs lots of options.  And few things make me happier than repurposing and reusing something that otherwise would have gone straight to the local landfill.

For a while, the nature tray only consisted of dead bugs.  Very nice dead bugs but Henry needed a little help understanding we could branch out of the dead bug business after he cried about needing a smushed dead roach for his nature tray.....

Today's nature tray consists of:  a small cicada, a large cicada, a bumblee, an iridescent beetle, a piece of coral, a shell, 2 rocks and a sand dollar.  Every item was lovingly added by Henry and constantly but tenderly rearranged by his sweet little hands.

Since the advent of our nature tray, Henry is definitely more in tune with "nature" and always on the lookout for new objects for his tray.

And, seriously, nothing is better than him yelling "Stop!" in the middle of book so he can run and bring me an object off his nature tray to show me how a picture in his book matches something on his nature tray.

Good things are at work in his little brain!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011 answers

1.  What is bravery?  Where do you draw the fine line between bravery and foolhardiness?

2.  What is a feminist?  Am I a feminist?  Does believing a woman's body should be used as designed during birth and lactation a feministic thought?

3.  Should Henry go back to Speech Therapy?  Can other people understand him?  Can other people understand any three-year-old?

4.  Why do I always build up the weekend in my mind and then get pissy by noon on Saturday when my great expectations are dashed?  Why do I not circumvent this pissiness by finding activities to get me out of the house?

5.  Would a 3rd baby push me even closer to whatever this edge I'm so carefully teetering?  When will the teetering stop?  Do other moms teeter on this edge?  Do other people use the word "teeter"?

**Update** We did, in fact, decide Henry needs more Speech Therapy.  He should start back soon and we are looking forward to helping him express himself better!

Pig Party #2!

The playdate birthday party:


My children are so loved!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Cake My Way

I've made this cake so many times I don't even need to look at the recipe to know the measurements.

It's that good.

I've used a bundt pan, a spring form pan for our pig cake, and made it into cupcakes.

Have I mentioned that it's really really good?

It's also the perfect recipe to not feel so bad about eating lots of chocolate cake because it has lots of zucchini and you can always justify cake with a garden fresh vegetable.

1/2 cup Earth Spread butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup almond milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini*
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Beat butter, oils and sugar in a mixer.
3. Beat eggs, vanilla and almond milk into sugar mixture.
4. Mix flour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl.
5. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
6. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.
7. Pour batter into a greased pan and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a inserted toothpick comes out clean.

* I've experimented with running the zucchini through the food processor rather than than taking the whole laborious 3 minutes of using a hand grater.  The texture of the cake is much better with the grated zucchini and you have one less dish to wash.  Always nice.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pig Party #1!

Wow.  Almost a whole week away from Our Messy Messy Life! 

 2 words:  Birthday Party.  

While planning a birthday lunch for the family shouldn't be a week long effort in Normal Land, throwing a birthday party lunch for a one-year-old and a three-year-old implies the said one-year-old and the said three-year-old are underfoot during the planning, cooking and cleaning stages of the party.   And, since I shut down immediately after Liza's bedtime....the past week's days were filled following my children from room to room with my spray bottle of homemade cleaner to scrub toddler high surfaces and um, shove things that have no neat and tidy home into closets and random drawers.  Don't forget the cooking in short spurts during Liza's naptime and the endless trips to Kroger and the Evil Empire because you know, it's a tough assignment to make a comprehensive shopping list when you are distracted by your two children that at times seem like at least ten children living in your house.  And, I'm pretty sure the story of Henry's birthday shirt deserves a post of it's very own.  I'll just say, I don't sew and for some unknown reason, I chose to sew.....

But, as always, it came together in the end and we had a LOVELY time.  As lovely as it was to see extended family, enjoy a yummy lunch and watch my littles dive into their birthday thing was lacking:  pictures of Liza eating her cake, pictures of my children's precious pig outfits, pictures of the cousins playings, pictures of the kids opening their presents, and a family pictures for goodness sakes!   Good thing we are having a second birthday shindig for our playdate group on Wednesday.  I'm already prepping myself to participate in that party through the camera viewfinder and the needed pictures are in a neat and tidy list in my mind.  At least, one thing is neat and tidy around here.

Without further ado, the few pictures I did take......

The pig cake: 3 layers of the Sunday Baker's chocolate zucchini cake and pink icing dyed with beet juice;  no evil red 40 in this house.  While there might not be food dyes involved, there was plenty of leftover cake involved with this pig party.  Good thing our playdate friends won't mind eating half a pig cake on Wednesday.

The spread:  pork tenderloin with buns, bacon smothered green beans, pasta salad and fresh fruit.  Not pictured is the pork rinds which were a surprisingly popular dry crunchy with our guests.  I won't lie: I was a bit disappointed that not one person mentioned the pig theme's continuation into the lunch menu...

How sweet were my newborn babies? 
And yeah, I ran out of icing on those cupcakes.

A very excited Henry and a very sweet cousin.

The kid knows every word to the birthday song and was the loudest singer!
Although he did make sure I knew it wasn't his birthday "yet".

I suppose this will have to be our family photo.  That's Liza in the bottom corner.

Sad, right?

Like I said, lovely family party but sad sad sad on the photo ops.......

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Giveaway Winners!

Sarah and Lesley are the winners of my book giveaways!!!

  Drop me an email at lmd328(at)gmail(dot)com with your address and 
I'll get your books in the mail tomorrow...
or the next day...
or realistically, it might be the day after that but I promise you will get it soon :)

Because Sarah is expecting #2 and I know that Lesley is an Attached mama,  I judiciously decided to send Sarah the copy of Siblings Without Rivalry and Lesley can expect A Gift for Baby in her mailbox. .

Thanks for commenting, everyone!!! 

 This is a lovely way to celebrate my 600th post!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The day after One.

The day after One has been a busy one:

Busy with our new chickens!

Busy proving my true love to my children by killing a huge roach.

Busy trimming my husband's hair without the guard on the clippers.
He is busy getting used to a clooose shave.

Busy watching a caterpillar climb all the way to the top of a curtain...and fall to his demise.

Busy wondering how that caterpillar managed to escape.

And, busy just being cute and enjoying the year of One!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

1 year old!

As soon as the cake was out of the oven, Henry insisted he and Lulu wear their birthday hats from Meme.  He was sad when sister refused to wear hers but he perked back up once he decided it was his birthday too.  

It's not a first birthday without an almost burned finger.

The Sunday Baker's chocolate zucchini cake turned dairy free.  Mmm.

Teething....and still recovering from the panic of almost burning her finger.

 And, yes, she is the cutest thing in the world.

Henry was beckoned to help Liza blow our her candle.  
He loved it.  Can you tell?
Birthday party #1:  Success.  
This was the easy one.  Cake for dinner and a candle.  Easy.

#2 is this coming weekend for our families.
And, #3 is on Henry's birthday, August 17, for our playdate friends.
Let's just hope I can get a few picture that aren't blurry during the next two events.