Thursday, April 28, 2011

DiscoMom Finds: Cool Butter Keeper

How do you keep your butter? Some, in the fridge. It keeps it fresh, but way too hard to spread. Others, in a butter dish on the table. When it warms up it gets yucky melty, and even when it's covered, still can go bad. Why can't all butter be in a perpetually fresh-but-spreadable state like in those individual packets you get at restaurants?

Well, it can. And mine is. I got this genius little butter keeper for my birthday and I just love it.
You put a little cool water in the crock part, slightly softened butter in the lid/cup (it holds exactly 1/2 cup or 1 stick), then when you close it, the water forms an airtight seal on the butter, keeping it both fresh and cool while also soft and spreadable. Come on over and have some bread & buttah.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


On March 31, 2011, Ginger lost her first tooth. Here's the story.

One day in May 2008 I took Hazel and Ginger to the park across the street from our apartment building in Brooklyn, NY. It was late in the afternoon, the Friday before Memorial Day. Ginger was 16 months old and a steady but still new walker. She needed help with a few things at the park, but liked to climb and explore independently, so I stayed to the side but kept an eye out.

At one point, she toddled over to a metal ladder and I moved towards her to help her climb up it. But before I could reach her, she tripped, fell forward, and hit her face on the bottom rung. The rest of the memory is held in tunnel vision.

There was a lot of blood in her mouth, which I frantically tried to swab and wipe with my shirt. Which is when I saw that her two front teeth were gone. Totally gone, no sign of them. She was screaming. I leaned over, scouring the ground for two pearly whites, but none were there. I hadn't brought wipes, water, diaper bag, stroller - nothing, since we were just across the street. Across the street and down a massive flight of stairs, which I was now running up at top speed thanks to adrenaline and a kind park dad who had grabbed Hazel for me.

We got home, sweating, freaking out. I cleaned her mouth and gave her a cold drink. I called the pediatrician on call (the office was closed), and he told me to go to the hospital, hoping we could get an x-ray and antibiotics at the very least. I could barely breathe. I called Ed and arranged to pick him up at a subway station near the hospital.

Skipping unnecessary details, the wait was long at the hospital, it being a holiday weekend, and by the time she was seen, anyone with dental experience had gone home, including the only person who could give us a dental x-ray. Which meant we had to wait a very long three days to find out Ginger's dental fate. Three days of maternal guilt and torment so horrific I never even mentioned it on the blog, much less took a picture of the injured orifice. But early the next week we got an x-ray and the good news: her teeth had just been pushed up - all the way up - but they would come back down in a week or two. Two warnings: her adult teeth might have small marks, and she might lose her baby teeth early.
Which is why it wasn't that surprising when she reported a loose tooth about two months ago. We monitored it closely, but it seemed stable at slightly-loose. Then it started to turn a little dark, and hang a little crooked. On March 30, when she brushed her teeth for bed, it started to bleed and truly seemed to be hanging by a thread. I would have pulled it out right then except that school pictures were the very next day, so instead I coached her on holding it in place with her tongue while posing the perfect smile. But, as with the first part of the story, Murphy's Law prevailed. It fell out as she brushed her morning teeth, and she had a big old gap to flash at the camera.

We put it in a baggie to take for show-and-tell. How many other 3-to-4 year-olds have a tooth to show? Here's me, Hazel and Poppy inspecting the tooth, as taken by Ginger.
I asked her what she thought the tooth fairy might bring, and took my cue from that - two quarters and a Hershey's Kiss. And. Just a few days earlier Hazel had received the book Silverlicious, about a girl losing her tooth and writing notes back and forth with the Tooth Fairy, trying to get the right reward. It has a surprisingly charming end.

Kinda like this post.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Style notes: Hazel's dress - H&M clearance rack about five years ago. It was impossible to imagine it would fit her someday but I loved it so much I bought it and saved it up. Ginger's dress - Baby Gap about three years ago. Orange sash is double-sided satin ribbon from Paper Mart and tacked on by yours truly. Poppy's dress - Carter's, this season. Hair accessories by the talented Rotifera. I would have liked to sit them right on the grass but it was dewy so we had to use the Neat Sheet.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

All Other Easter Stuff

After the baskets post, I realized I do not want to be posting Easter stuff after Easter! So I'm throwing it all in hodge-podge into one great post.

First of all, look at this. Family Style has posted their Top 10 Easter crafts. I admire, but am not likely to ever do, most of them. But the Paint Chip Easter Garland stopped me in my tracks and I can't get over its loveliness and simple genius. I have got to make one next year! Who's with me?

And do you know this book? We don't have a lot of Easter books but I'm glad we have this one - yes, it's about bunnies and eggs but with a Christian moral, and even a parallel to the Savior if you choose to find it. The author/illustrator, Jan Brett, has great coloring pages here. And if you're looking for an overtly religious Easter book, The Story of Easter by Aileen Fisher is my favorite. It describes Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, then moves on to explain the origins of other springtime rituals and their connection to the biblical traditions, which so often seem completely disconnected. Basic facts about the history of Easter, Passover, the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs, and other forms of religious and secular symbolism are conveyed.

"Grandma Marsha" (Ed's Mom) has been in town all week and one of her favorite things to do is dye eggs. I can't even remember if we colored eggs last year. I would have been 8 1/2 months pregnant so who knows? But this year we did it up proper, with scotch tape, crayons and stickers for effects. I've tried rubber bands and they just slip off. I've also tried oil to make it swirly but it just made them oily. Again, Family Style has some oh-so-chic dying techniques, but I like the basics and I'm sticking to them.
I forgot how much I love doing eggs until we sat down to do them! I don't have a deep artistic streak, but I love making designs with crayons, and partial-dipping different parts of one egg for a multi-color effect. I boiled a dozen but we finished them up in minutes so I did another dozen and put eggs on my shopping list.Thursday we met some friends at a park for a very informal egg hunt. It was just the right kind of park, set back from the road and a big field with trees & shrubs and fenced in on three sides. Everyone brought a dozen filled eggs and the moms hid them while the kids played. Then they hunted and played some more. Then everyone ate their own picnic lunches and went home. This is the perfect kind of Easter activity for me and my family - minimal, shared preparation, minimal effort/stress/commitment, and fun for all kids. Unless one has an eye infection and has to miss the actual hunt to be at a doctor's appointment, where they also discover she is one shot short on her immunes so they just stick it to her while she's there. Poor Ginger.

Yesterday we attended the annual Chik-Fil-A Egg Hunt at Fairfax High School. It was a cold day but well-organized. We arrived early to play on the free inflatables until it was the girls' age groups' time to hunt. "Hunt" is a loose term for this activity. They rope off a big section of the football field and spread out filled eggs. Then they count down and kids in the given age group (2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9) rush the field and grab as many as they can. I watched the 2-3 yr old "hunt" first to see how it works. Parents filled the field with their kids, either helping to gather or taking pictures, and it was a zoo. But for the next age groups the announcer said for parents to stay off the field and let the kids do the hunting.I thought that sounded great, so the kids would have more room and everyone could get some eggs. Ginger is a very, very, sensitive kid, and I saw disaster looming but no way to avoid it. I explained that there were going to be a lot of kids out there, so I hoped she could get at least 2 or 3 eggs, estimating that should be a safe goal. She scoffed and I knew it was going to be ugly.

"5-4-3-2-1..."It wasn't as bad as it could have been. But it could have been a lot better. I took this shot, then lost track of her in the hoards of PARENTS storming the field. They rushed in and quickly blocked out all the kids trying to make it toward the center of the field. I turned to the Mom next to me (we had been chatting - she had the yellow-slicker-clad triplets in the picture) and cried, "Why are parents on the field?!"

"Oh, it happens every year. They go in to help their kids get the most eggs." I wanted to go in and rip someone's head off. Another Mom nearby said, "I guess I understand if they have an autistic kid who needs help, but I have a hard time believing there are that many kids with special needs out there." Amen. I was TICKED, and even more so when a hunched and sobbing Ginger returned to me, four eggs in basket. Knowing nothing would help, I cheered anyway at her great success of getting even more than I expected. I got screamed at and hit on my shoulder for my trouble. So we sat on the ground and cried and hugged, and I wondered, like I do ten times a day, "How can I help this girl?" (But all that is another post.)

Hazel's hunt was a bit more successful. Fewer parents rushed in, and having watched two hunts, I gave her a strategy - skip the outliers, everyone goes for them, and run straight to the middle where the concentration is greatest and before others get there. She did it like a champ and came out with nine eggs and a grin.
Since it was cold outside, we finished the morning with lunch at the nearby Chik-Fil-A that also has a rockin' play area. Ginger fell asleep on the way home.

If you have a moment, I direct you to my cousin Katy's post about their Easter week preparations. I find their plans thoughtful, reverent, and meaningful, and while I missed the boat on meaningful traditions this year for us, it gives me food for thought for future years, and pause to remember the Savior Jesus Christ's glorious resurrection. I am especially taken with the powering down idea, both as a symbol and as a peaceful-family-bonding tool. Unfortunately we are such slaves to Ed's job...I don't know, I wonder if there's a way we could do it... (obviously not this year since I am blogging on Saturday!)

And finally, here's the view out of our second story window this month. This gorgeous magnolia tree brings us huge purple blossoms in spring and shades most of our back deck all summer. It makes me happy, especially with my neighbor's birdhouse.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Basket Fillings

It's Easter, it's Easter! Because it's so late this year I feel like an IDIOT saying it snuck up on me, but it did. Hazel has been on spring break for three weeks and I am behind on everything! And Poppy's birthday is TOMORROW! And I think I will just spend the whole month of May writing about April.

Each year, for my own record-keeping, I like to post what's in the kids' baskets. I admit, I went overboard this year. Don't care, not apologizing. I finally bought some big and proper Easter baskets (40% off at Michael's!) The kind that don't stack, are bulky, and a massive pain to store. But oh-so-pretty! And BIG! And kinda matchy although Hazel's liner is lavender, Ginger's is pale yellow and Poppy's is white with a little blue trim. And here's what I am putting in them:

  1. New hooded towels for each girl. Our old ones are getting ratty and I was sucked in by these at Costco. Hazel- flower, Ginger - ladybug, Poppy - strawberry.
  2. DVDs - second Tinkerbell movie for Ginger, Madeline on the Town for Hazel. (We got Madeline's Great Adventures a few months ago and the girls love it.)
  3. Socks, socks, socks. Always socks.
  4. Jumprope and Diddly Doodle (8-colors-in-1 clicky crayon thingy.)
  5. Butterfly spray bottle - we use spray bottles to death in the summer - lots of outside fun to be had!
  6. Three large "jewel" eggs - one with chocolate coins, one with Hershey kisses, one with jelly beans.
Not shown: band-aids, little bubble bath packets and Lindt chocolate carrot, our alternative to chocolate bunnies.

And just because I'm having fun in Picasa, here they are packed into Ginger's basket:

Those were for the older girls. Poppy doesn't get candy, jumpropes, or most of that other stuff. But she does get a hooded towel, a Karen Katz Easter board book, and a Crazy Cuddly Wolf Plush Musical Toy. Red Riding Hood winds up on the front and it plays a lullaby version of "Aquarius" from Hair. Because I simply couldn't help myself.
And what about Ed? I've been making him Easter baskets for eleven years even though he doesn't care, and the stuff often sits around unused, uneaten, for a year. I don't know why I can't give it up. I just feel he should get one even though he's not a kid anymore, and even though he never makes me one. So each year I try to think what he wants or needs, or what he will definitely use. Basically like the Christmas stocking, just a different holiday. I did well with shoe polish and travel-size toiletries last year. This year I went with more toiletries and some of his favorite snacks: razors, peanuts, Oreos, gum, favorite Trader Joe's licorice, deodorant, travel toothpaste and the chocolate carrot (which will sit around but I had a 4-pack so he gets one.)

What is your family getting this year?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

DiscoMom Finds: Japanese Baby Pants

I am completely nutso for Japanese baby pants, sometimes also called monkey pants. I first saw some on a toddler at the library in Brooklyn, NY. I asked her mom where on earth such cuteness could be found, and, you guessed it: Japan (they were from there.) I considered setting up a playdate so I could ingratiate myself enough to get hooked up on their next trip. This was about three years ago. I went home and Googled my heart out trying to find something like them, with one success: Sckoon.

Could you die? There is something beyond adorable about the cut and style of these soft, room-for-diapers pants. I got Ginger a red-and-white striped pair, and now Poppy is wearing them. I have always loved a good diaper butt, and these pants were made to accent them!

More recently, I came across some similar pants/leggings on a site called Olliebollen. Did I mention I cannot get over them? I've been drooling for a few months, trying to decide whether to drop the cash or not, splurging on the baby who has enough clothes for all practical purposes. There are the leggings. And then there are the shorts and the skeggings! How can a person resist such temptation?

So I broke down and got Poppy one thing. Or two. A kid needs birthday presents! And. The best part is I searched for "Japan baby pants" or similar on ebay, and would you believe there were a couple of sellers selling multiple styles and sizes of the same Dobutsu pants they have on Olliebollen. So I got one in the size I think she is (they say they run small) and one in the next size, for $6 each plus nominal shipping. I cannot wait to try them on!

Also. I don't have a boy but occasionally find myself buying for one. I am extremely picky about boy clothing but would definitely buy a pair of these pants (look at the website - they have good masculine ones) or anything from Sckoon. Especially this. And this.

*I have a long list of cool things I like or find that I want to post. I don't like the old series name I used to use, "The Good Stuff", but I am having a hard time coming up with the right series title - I thought perhaps "Gaga" but you know, there's Lady Gaga and she kinda changed the meaning. So for now it's "DiscoMom Finds" but I am open to suggestions.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The 6-Year-Old

Just as soon as Poppy turned 11 months, Hazel turned 6. I expect this will happen every year, and many times throughout the year, but I look at her, and am dumbfounded and in love. She is gorgeous. She is smart. She is creative. She is confident. She is curious. She is bold. She is gentle. She is loving. She is fun. She is tender-hearted. She is thoughtful. She is passionate. She is everything I want her to be, and more. She is my firstborn. She is amazing. Hazel loves loves loves to jump rope. That is her thing now, and she does it every spare moment she has. She takes her own rope to school so she doesn't have to wait a turn for the P.E. ropes at recess. She jumps running, or backwards, or on one foot, or eyes closed, or double time. She jumps inside, outside, on the way home from school. Ed and I love this obsession with a cheap, stationary, portable, adaptable form of exercise! If only we could be so inclined...

Hazel also loves school - the learning, the structure, the booming social scene. I have been sure to check with her teachers regarding her social behavior - is she kind to everyone, etc? They say she is. Here she is the morning of "Wacky Friday." It was really "Freaky Friday" on the flyer that came home but she insisted on "wacky" and we did not argue. Ginger was jealous of this occasion so decided to dress "wacky", too, for preschool.Hazel had a gymnastics party at the local gym. I'm going to write another post about our birthday parties this year, but I've got two words for you: body fluids. Luckily, all she remembers is that it was fun. A few weeks ago I chaperoned on the spring kindergarten field trip - "The Men on the Money." We visited the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, FDR Memorial and Jefferson Memorial. It was a gorgeous day, with lots of walking, and crazy flattering that she would rather sit next to me on the bus than her friends. I am cherishing these years of semi-adulation.Here's a picture of Hazel helping unload the dishwasher. Why? Because I want to show you the gosh-darn cutest shirt EVER MADE ON EARTH! You see what it is, right? A pug! My FAVORITE! And I don't know if you can tell but it has a purple tulle flower behind one ear, so you know it's a girl pug. I paid FULL PRICE at Gap Kids for this, something I NEVER do. But it was worth every penny to see Hazel in it. And then Ginger. And then Poppy.
...and grand daughters for generations...

On March 27, we did Hazel's birthday interview. Rather than transcribe it this time, though, I am posting it. I didn't like the lighting where we started so after a few questions we paused and relocated. And I couldn't immediately derive how to put them together so there are two vids.

Please note - I find the answer to the difference between boys and girls possibly most telling of the cognitive differences between ages 4 and 6. Remember Ginger's answer was something about how boys' voices are deep and girls' are high. I love Hazel's answer (remember, we are trying to be frank and forthcoming about birds & bees questions.) I love all her answers. She was so excited about this interview, looking forward to it for months since Ginger's.

And. I didn't ask her about her favorite shows to watch but she is totally obsessed with "The Mysteries of Alfred Hedgehog." I know, random. But it's a pretty good mystery show, and it's like Diego for the next-up age group. She's picked up his catch phrase: "Serious mysterious!" and both girls sing the theme song, which is pretty catchy. Also she likes the Tinkerbell movie and Madeline.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Poppy is 11 Months

Man, oh man, I have been putting this off because there is so much to tell! But the kid's 1st birthday is in 3 weeks so if I'm gonna record 11 months, this is my chance.

So what is this age like? Darn cute, that's for sure. Also darn busy and darn smart! What she's not doing yet is walking or talking. What she is doing is just about everything else.

Poppy's favorite activities include:
  • helping me unload the dishwasher (she hands me one silverware at a time and I put it in the drawer)
  • playing with balls and balloons (either alone or with others)
  • drawing/writing/coloring (just like a big girl!)
  • cleaning! It's so cute - give her a paper towel or wash cloth and she will wipe whatever is near - high chair tray, counter, floor, or her own face or body. She knows just what to do.
  • feeding herself with a spoon (it's a disaster but the smile on her messy face is worth it!)...or a pie server, whichever the case may be
  • destroying piles of folded laundry
  • taking a bath, especially with her sisters
  • getting in the fridge
  • putting things in and taking things out (here's a favorite - we call it "Citrus Transfer")

  • playing chase with her sisters
  • climbing anything
  • shredding paper
  • eating crayons...or markers, if available
  • talking, talking, talking "on the phone" or anything small that could be a phone (remote, calculator, glasses case, etc.)
  • reading books! She kind of played with them before but she gets down to serious business now, turning pages and narrating with excellent intonation
  • ANYTHING her sisters are doing
  • Poppy's a great eater and currently loves: cheese, strawberries, pasta with sauce, spicy stuff out of my Chipotle burrito, steak and other meat, applesauce, yogurt, carrots, pretzels, Kix cereal, green beans (the real ones, not baby food), pancakes, pizza, bananas, and of course marshmallows. She did finally get around to rolling and uses it to sabotage herself going to sleep. Awesome. She cruises like crazy and the big new thing is climbing stairs. She is a stair-master, ho ho. Last two times we had babies this age we were in apartments with no stairs so this is new. I'm working on teaching her to go down backwards - the sooner that skill gets learned the better - but it's slow going and for now we do have to use gates and spotters. But wow, does she love to climb. Here's a video from a few weeks ago when the skill was brand new:

    She is MUCH faster now and, by the way, that was the only time she's ever gotten hurt, thank goodness. Impressive considering we have a lot of hard wood stairs!

    That is it for now though I think I forgot some things and will come back to add them in as I remember. She is a superstar and we love her more and more each day.
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