Sunday, February 19, 2012

Naps, Etc

Let's talk naps for a moment here. I know many a parent that is staunchly in the pro-nap camp. I used to be one of those parents. Naptime was sacrosanct, and if M. and I didn't get those two hours to ourselves every (weekend) day, cranky tempers abounded. It was the only time we had during the day to get anything done around the house, the only time we had to ourselves. I swore up and down that Finn would nap as long as possible - until Kindergarten! We made it a point to be home by 11:30 am for a nice, early nap (because everyone knows that the earlier they go down, the better/longer they sleep...).

Well, things have changed. I'm sure my sisters, who are both still firmly pro-nap (and whose kids both nap AND sleep 12 hours a night, a feat my kids have never, ever managed), think I'm crazy. But I actually can't wait for Lucy to give up her nap. Now, I find that naptime is restrictive, particularly since the kids sleep a little later than they used to. Yes, when Finn would rise at 5:30 in the morning, it was easy to do a LOT and still be home by 11:30 for a nap. But we try to roll out of bed as long after 7:00 am as we can get away with. And now that TV rules have been relaxed, wake up time is followed by lounging and coffee-drinking while the kids entertain themselves with mind-numbing TV. It's a challenge for us to get everyone out of the house earlier than 9 or 10, a far cry from the early days of parenthood.

We could, of course, get our act together and get out of the house earlier, and make napping more of a priority. But we already have one kid that doesn't nap. Finn stilled napped when Lucy was born - he was only two and a half then, and still pretty good about going down. By the time we got Lucy on to a semi-regular nap schedule, though, Finn was already fighting the nap, and fighting it HARD. By 3, I gave up the war. Finn still napped at school, but not at home. I can count on one hand the number of times we got both kids to nap at the same time on the weekends.

So, we're already up with one kid anyway. We might as well have them both awake so we can go out and DO stuff, too. We are getting closer to that new reality. Lucy still naps at school (though her naps have always been shorter at school than at home), but weekend naps are intermittent at best. Not because she fights the nap - she doesn't. She usually falls asleep for us pretty quickly, and sleeps for over two hours. Yet this weekend, I didn't put Lucy down at all. She didn't melt down into a ball of hot toddler mess, she was fine.

And the best part? She goes to sleep INSTANTLY at night. Tonight I put Lucy down, went in to tuck Finn in, and grabbed each kid a cup of water from the kitchen. By the time I went in to Lucy's room to give her the water, she was out. Despite the fact that I heard her calling out to me no more than 3 minutes before then. The silence was music to my ears, because on the days she naps, we often have an hour or more of shenanigans coming at us over the monitor, and more than one trip back up to her room.

Yes, I am firmly in the anti-nap camp now, proud to be a member.

Unless we're talking about grown up naps, of course. I strongly, strongly support the naps that I take.

How about you? Are you wedded to the nap? If your kids don't nap anymore, at what age did they give it up? Do YOU nap? :-)

The kids and I had a pretty good day together - the snow stayed away, Finn went to his last swim class of the current session, we ate lunch out where the kids were shockingly well-behaved, and we watched two old school Disney movies - The Aristocats and The Sword and the Stone. The kids are bathed, both are asleep, and I have only 12 more hours left as a solo parent. Yes, we relied heavily on the television to get us through the day. Yes, that was in part due to the fact that I am trying my darnedest to finish reading Game of Thrones. I am totally sucked in, and yet no matter how much I read, I only seem to be able to move a percentage or two on the Kindle. It is apparently a freakishly long book. There may have been a little benign neglect from all the reading. Just a little, though.

Some pictures from the goofing around that occurred today:

Same profile!

Greasy face from Movie Night pizza (he ate three pieces! This kid LOVES pizza!)

Finn's report card from swin class - he can do all the required skills, and he got two A+'s. It's entirely possible this will be the best report card of his life (you never know...), so I'm saving this one for posterity!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Humming Along

This conversation happens a lot:

Me: Lucy, do you remember what his name is?

Lucy: Yes.

Me: What is his name?

Lucy: I don't know.

Note that the initial question can be substituted with just about anything (Do you know what this is? Do you remember what I told you yesterday? Do you remember what I told you 5 minutes ago? etc). Also, the final response isn't always "I don't know," sometimes it's just a sly smile. God forbid toddlers actually admit they don't know something.


Lately Finn has introduced a new element to his whining, the "It's not FAIR!" rant. I have now said the phrases "Life's not fair" and "Who said life was fair?" more times than I can count, despite hating those responses when said to me as a child/teenager/sullen young adult.

His impressionable younger sister has taken up the mantra as well, along with another fun toddler phase that I distinctly remember Finn going through - the "You hurt my feelings!" phase. Oh, how I love that phase.

Me: Lucy, don't stab the table with your fork.

Lucy: Stabs table with fork.

Me: Fine, I'm taking your fork away.

Lucy (fork is now in my possession): You hurt my FEELINGS, Mommy!!!

Me: Sigh.


So I got through Day 3 of solo parenting - just another day and a half to go. My patience was perhaps a bit shorter today, but we managed to have some fun anyway. A 3-cup-of-coffee morning that was mostly relaxing, some shopping, and beautiful weather. I even managed to shower (while fending off advances from Lucy, who wanted to join me). I relied heavily on bribery to get through the day - each kid got a toy and 3 new books while we were out. And let's face it, no matter how easy a solo parenting gig is, any given day is infinitely more tolerable and interesting when it's spent with more than just persons who think it's an honor for you to watch them poop and who still require you to wipe their butts when the whole process is done.

I don't WANT to watch them poop.

When will I be done wiping butts?

On the plus side, I didn't end up having to drag out our big ladder to grab Lucy's Precious Purple Balloon. It was still sky-high when we woke up in the morning, but Lucy had thankfully temporarily forgotten about the Great Balloon Disaster. The afternoon sun worked some magic, and by the time we got home from our outing, the balloon was listing limply right around Lucy level. It now looks like this:

She is just happy to have it back, she apparently notices no difference in balloon functionality.


Highlights from today: The pumpernickel bagel I had for breakfast. A walk around the "lake" at the Washingtonian Center. Buying new underwear for myself (not an easy feat with two kids who are oh-so-curious about all those lacy bins at Target). Cuddling with the kids while they watched a couple of episodes of the Wild Kratts. The heart-shaped PB&J sandwhich I made Finn for dinner. Kids in bed by 7:56 p.m. The cold glass of Martin Codax Albarino sitting next to me. The spy glasses I bought Finn today:

The goodnight hug I got from this little girl (who refuses to look at my camera):


Word on the street is that it's going to snow tomorrow (you know, AFTER we've pretty much already gotten used to the idea of impending spring). This could be the kiss of death - we won't really be able to leave the house, and I'll have to fend off all kinds of demands to go outside and build snowmen, since the kids think that even the lightest dusting of snow makes for prime sledding and snowman-building conditions. This may be tough, they might turn on me. Send help if I don't answer my phone.

Friday, February 17, 2012

That Sound You Hear Is A Glass of Wine Calling My Name

I'm afraid my pickings are slim for a posting tonight. I was hoping to pop up some cute photos of the kids, but when the evening's activities consist of playground time and a birthday party at one of those "inflatable bouncy-things" places, it's hard to come by anything that isn't a blur of activity. I'm going to post some photos anyway, but they're not even remotely good enough to consider editing. We had the typical Friday excitement of Show and Tell (what is it about Show and Tell this is like crack to kids??), plus a school injury that left Finn with a nice goose egg on the back of his head, AND a birthday party starting at 6:30 at night. Also some last minute scrambling to wrap the gift for said birthday party, which I did in the parking lot of Target about 45 minutes before the party started. In my defense, the gift was purchased well in advance. But it wasn't until last night that I realized I had absolutely NO birthday-themed wrapping paper. In a way, the forced trip to Target was lucky, as I was also able to pick up an ice pack for Finn's head wound, which he managed to sustain about 2 minutes before I came to pick him up.

This might be one of those nights where M. is more relieved than jealous not to be home. The party was a fun distraction with some lovely people I don't get to see enough of, and the kids got appropriately sweaty, red-cheeked, and sugared up. But I didn't pour them in to bed until almost 9 o'clock, and that last 30 minutes have been pretty touch and go with all the whining and crying. Mostly because Lucy managed to let go of her helium-filled balloon as soon as we got in to the house, which subsequently floated to the top of our 15-foot living room ceiling. She can't stop crying about her puuuuuuuuuuuurple ballooooooooooon (sob). Despite the 346 reassurances I have given her that Mommy will rescue the balloon TOMORROW, FTLOG. Looks like I'll be climbing a ladder tomorrow. I am not the most coordinated of people. Send help if I don't answer my phone.

And a few bonus photos from last night:

What, don't your kids sit in the tub fully clothed and prepare for war with little green soldiers?

Here's hoping our late night leads to an equally late morning - a girl can dream, right?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Video Killed the Radio Star

M. is out of town for the next few days, living it up in Vancouver. If a work trip can be called "living it up," of course. Never mind that I might be a little jealous about the whole Vancouver thing (seriously, his job takes him to WAY cooler places than my job takes me), or that I'm parenting solo over a long weekend. I'm determined to have a fun with the kids, and make M. jealous of what he's missing. My goal is to try to post SOMETHING here every day over the next few days - a photo of the kids, a little blurb about our day, anything, really.

Tonight I give him (and all of you)... videos! And not just any videos - music videos!

First up is the warm-up practice, where Finn is practicing some old school la-la-la's to loosen up his vocal cords:

Then we have both kids singing Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain," the latest family fav. Finn takes a lead roll here:

And finally, I present... Lucy, the Angry Emo Singer:

She kills all of us every time she sings this song. She has this much anger and force EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It's like she's channeling all the break up rage straight from Adele. God, she's going to be a super fun teenager.

And just for fun and posterity's sake, a bonus video. Last week Finn's class at daycare focused on African American inventors as part of their unit on Black History Month. The kids were asked to "invent" something at home with the help of their parents, and bring their invention in that Friday for Show and Tell. We all struggled a bit with what, exactly, to invent. Five year olds don't have the clearest idea of what it means to "invent" something - for example, we had to gently explain to Finn that we couldn't invent a jet plane because, well, someone else already did (aside from other, slighly more practical reasons not to pursue it, like a jet plane's enormous size and complexity). What we settled on eventually was a "Marshmallow Catapult," a neat little machine to launch marshmallows directly into a cup of hot cocoa (totally novel, I'm sure). Here is a photo (hot cocoa not pictured, and indeed, not actually tested with said contraption, due to it's hot nature):

And here it is in action. You'll see at the end that the natives turn hostile and start firing on their poor, hapless camera-woman:

Alright, time for me to resume catching up on old Glee episodes and other such "only when M. is out of town" indulgences. I will probably be in a Pinterest coma by morning - send help if I don't answer my phone :-).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Two More Recipes My Kids Won't Eat, But YOU Might Like

I've been putting my food blog-reading and Pinning to good use lately, trying out several new recipes, with varying degrees of success. Here are two that fall in the "success" category - definitely good enough to make again!

First up is Spicy Sriracha Grilled Tofu, from Bon Appetit via The Bitten Word (love the title of that blog, BTW). M. and I are relatively new to the Sriracha team - we discovered it's deliciousness a few years ago at a local Noodles and Company, where the tables are graced with their own bottles of the stuff, and we learned to use it to garnish all sorts of asian and cream-based pasta dishes (with a firm, but not-too-heavy, hand!). We are converts, and have a bottle of our very own living in the fridge now. Mac 'n Cheese just isnt' the same without it now!

Spicy Sriracha Grilled Tofu

Serves 4


1 14-16 ounce container extra-firm tofu
3/4 cup Sriracha
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds plus more
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon white miso paste
3 chopped scallions plus more
2 garlic cloves


Cut tofu into 1" blocks. Drain well on paper towels.
- My variation on this is to place the block of tofu between several layers of paper towels, and top with something heavy to press the water out. Change towels once. When you think you've gotten all the water out, or you're just tired of waiting, then cut the tofu into 1" blocks. Make sure to cut the blocks big enough that they won't fall through your grill grate.

Put Sriracha, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, soy sauce, and white miso paste in a blender with 3 chopped scallions and garlic cloves. Blend with water until smooth. Reserve a cupful for dipping; marinate the tofu in the rest overnight.
- I didn't have any sesame seeds on hand when I prepped the marinade, so I added a dash of sesame oil instead. I think it worked very nicely - there was a yummy hint of sesame, but not overwhelming. Also, I found that the amounts made for A LOT of marinade - you could probably reduce the ingredients by 1/3 and still have plenty for the recipe. Looking at the pictures on The Bitten Word, though, I probably added more water during blending than the authors did. I don't really know how much water I added - maybe a cup? Possibly less? Whatever the amount, it worked well - the marinade was thin enough to coat the tofu nicely and to use for drizzling at the end, but not watery.

Shake off excess sauce and grill tofu, brushing with sauce. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and scallions.
- As noted in the original blog post, make sure you oil your grill well before starting. I used a heavy dose of cooking spray. M. (who did the actual grilling) reported that he still had some trouble with sticking, but no tofu chunks were sacrificed to the grill flames. We did not brush on more marinade during the grilling process, but I drizzled a little on after the cooking was done. Also, by this time I had successfully purchased sesame seeds (already toasted, FTW!), so I sprinkled them on (and the scallions) per the instructions. I heart sesame seeds.

The result was a) pretty; b) flavorful; c) SPICY!

We ate the dish with a glass of milk. M., who is not a tofu lover, ate all of his portion. There were no leftovers, and I've since made the dish again (with the leftover marinade from the first time), testaments to the success of the recipe. If you like spice, make this! You won't regret it. Unless your children are freakish, they won't eat it, of course - plan something simple and easy to serve them instead (PB&J, anyone?).

Next up is Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans, from Eating Well. I like this recipe because it is quick and simple to prepare (and also it tastes good, natch). You could fancy it up (and add a bunch of time to the prep process) by making your own gnocchi, of course, but I was more than happy to follow the recommendation to use shelf-stable gnocchi from the grocery store. I struck out at my usual grocery store, though, and had to go to another one to find them. But find them, I did!

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans
From EatingWell: January/February 2009
6 servings

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi, (see Tip)
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
6 cups chopped chard leaves, (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.

I followed the recipe exactly (with one exception), so I have no real tips to pass on. I've made the dish twice - the first time I used baby spinach because I couldn't find any chard (neither of the two grocery stores I went to had it! Chard Shortage! The panic!), and I added in some greek olives (the one change I made). The olives were nice, but not necessary, and I didn't add them the second time. The second time I managed to score myself some chard. I think I preferred the chard a little over the spinach, because it stays a little firmer on cooking, and doesn't clump together as much. Both versions were great, and M. has insisted this become a go-to meal. The kids wouldn't touch it - the first time I served it, Lucy and I had a stand-off over the tiniest, most miniscule piece of gnocchi, which she ABSOLUTELY refused to try. Even with the promise of dessert (cake!) if she just put the frackin' thing in her mouth. No deal. Finn ate a tiny nibble at my insistence (and to score dessert), but wouldn't touch more. The second time around I didn't even bother, I gave them leftovers. But unlike the tofu dish, this one might have a shot with other, slightly more adventurous kids - maybe even YOUR kids. After all, what's not to love about gnocchi? Potatoes and pasta, for the love of God! Winning combination.

Picture time. First up is the spinach version:

And here is the chard version:

They look remarkably similar, I realize. And perhaps not the prettiest dish, but tasty? Yes!

And since I'm on a roll with the food photos, you can see the labor of love (literally) I slaved over yesterday, in preparation for the kids' Valentine's Day parties on Tuesday:

This is one recipe I'm SURE the kids will eat!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Lucy is clearly in the "Why" phase of development. A constant barrage of that one little word that, no matter how clear and concise or detailed and wordy your answer is, is always followed immediately by yet another "why?". This is the phase of parenting that is usually accompanied by increased alcohol consumption.

I've decided that it's time for me to ask the questions around here. A few things I've been wondering lately:

Why do people make cake-like brownies, when everyone knows the gooey ones are better?

Why does it always feel like winter truly sets in AFTER Groundhog's Day, and it's tantalizing dream of Spring?

Why are those sinks that sit on top of the counter instead of under it all the rage?

Why do slow drivers in the left-hand lane no longer practice the courtesy of moving to the right when someone behind them clearly wants to drive faster?(rampant and seriously frustrating to those of us serial highway commuters!!)

Why did Blogger change their interface, making me very confused and apparently eliminating my ability to manage my blog from my work computer (which I never do, anyway, of course)?

And because I'm all for keeping it real around here,woman-style:

Why do panty liners always get crumpled up and moved away from the ONE SPOT where it would have been nice to have protection?

Why do tampons leak, even though upon removal of said tampon, it is clearly not saturated?

Unfortunately, Wikipedia doesn't have all the answers, damn it!