Tuesday, February 26, 2013

dip it stick it

Last post from Esther's birthday party... and no picture to go with it, sorry!

To go with the monkeys & drums theme, I made drumsticks.

Living in the south, I've had lots of good advice on how to fry things, but I baked these.
Here's the method:

1. Dip in milk
2. Dip in flour
3. Dip in egg
4. Dip in breading.

The milk helps the flour stick, the flour allows the egg to stick, and the egg makes the breading stick.

I set it up like an assembly line with a bunch of mixing bowls.

As for the breading, this can vary depending on what you're cooking. For the drumsticks, I used breadcrumbs and added lots of spices (not quite 11 herbs and spices, but still good!):
     garlic powder
     chili powder
Then I baked it till it sizzled and the chicken was thoroughly cooked inside.

When I've made fried green tomatoes, I used corn meal for the breading (plus salt & pepper but that's about it... I think next time, I'll use some red chili powder for some kick). Then I fried them in about 1/2 an inch of oil in a skillet.

One more thing-- This totally makes a mess. You end up breading your fingers repeatedly, leaving you with drumsticks of gook on your thumb and at least two of your fingers.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spirituality of DFTBA 3: So is Everybody Else, continued

For Lent this year, I'm trying to make DFTBA (Don't Forget To Be Awesome) my spiritual discipline. Inspired by the Vlogbrothers and Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, I'm considering what DFTBA looks like for me and for my two-year-old daughter, Esther.

So far my Lenten discipline has included:
1. Remember you're awesome.
2. So is everybody else.

Spirituality of DFTBA 3: So is Everybody Else, continued

Knowing that everybody else is awesome has lots of implications, some of which I discussed the other day. I mostly talked about people with whom we interact, like family, friends, and even casual acquaintances.

But what about everybody else? I mean, the people who live far far away and with whom you could never interact. I mean, the people nearby with whom you can't interact because they can't afford to go to the same coffee shop/ bookstore/ grocery store/ movie theater/ bar/ concert venue... that you do.

Knowing that EVERYBODY is awesome means thinking about the rest of the world. It especially means thinking about the people who aren't generally thought of as awesome. If we truly believe that God created all of these people supremely good, then even the people the rest of the world shuns, are awesome. Poor people, gay people, people of different races and religions, they are all awesome.

There are lots of ways to learn about everyone's awesome. I personally love a novel or memoir to learn about other cultures and experiences. (Reading Three Cups of Tea and Reading Lolita in Tehran gave me a new perspective on Middle East politics.) Documentaries are another option.  And of course there's the web. You have a question about Islam/ LDS/ Presbyterianism/ Buddhism/ Hindu/ Catholicism? Look it up.

If all people are awesome, then all people should have the same basic rights and opportunities. Jesus said this when he said, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." If we would fight for our own rights and opportunities when they've been denied, we should fight for those rights and opportunities for our awesome neighbors.

The Vlogbrothers call this decreasing world suck. In other words, if the world sucks, it's because someone isn't being treated as awesomely as they deserve. There are lots of ways to decrease world suck, and they're all pretty awesome.  Nerdfighters, the online community created by the Vlogbrothers, have created all kinds of opportunities to decrease world suck, even creating a foundation for that very purpose.

Recently Esther and I went into Philly to participate in One Billion Rising, a demonstration protesting violence against women. It was a small step in acknowledging the awesomeness of everyone, in this case, the one billion women in the world who are victims of violence.

DFTBA 3: Concrete tasks

  • Read a memoir written by someone from another culture.
  • Watch a documentary on poverty.
  • Consider a right or opportunity you have or had, that others don't. Give thanks.
  • Consider a right or opportunity you have or had about which you feel passionate. Google organizations that help provide that right or opportunity for others.

Creator who made us all awesome, clear our minds of misgivings about others and help us to see your face in all people, that we may decrease world suck. Amen.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A sweater for Esther

I had three different colors of this cotton-ish yarn that I bought on sale from a local yarn shop a few months ago, and I've been wanting to make something with them for Esther.  I was worried about how long they were, so I added just a bit of the leftover pink from Esther's birthday sweater.

I found the pattern HERE.

It's a quick and easy knit because it uses fairly big needles.  The pattern's author did some color-work in the torso, but I just stuck with the stripes. Again, I was worried about how much yarn I had, and using two strands at once would use it up too quickly.

I ended up with mere inches of each color when I was done, so my caution paid off!

The left shoulder has a split in it. It allows room for it to slip over a kid's head. I added the blue button and made a loop out of a tiny crocheted chain from the pink yarn.

So far, I haven't been able to snap a picture of Esther wearing it.  She has vehemently protested putting it on.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spirituality of DFTBA 2: So is Everybody Else

For Lent this year, I'm trying to make DFTBA (Don't Forget To Be Awesome) my spiritual discipline. Inspired by the Vlogbrothers and Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, I'm considering what DFTBA looks like for me and for my two-year-old daughter, Esther.

In the Spirituality of DFTBA 1, I talked about how God (or a miraculously minute statistical probability of existence) makes you awesome. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are created in God's image, you are supremely good. Don't forget-- you ARE awesome!

Here's the catch: so is everybody else.

I know, I know, if everyone is awesome, doesn't that mean that nobody's awesome? No. Because awesome means "awe-inspiring." It doesn't just mean "cool." And let's be honest, everyone is not cool. Thank God. But everyone is that statistical improbability, everyone is designed uniquely in the image of the divine, and everyone's existence should inspire our awe. Everyone is awesome.

This belief, if we truly internalize it, has far-reaching consequences. On one level, it could easily influence our immediate relationships. There's a good chance we already think the people we love and adore are pretty awesome. It's part of why we adore them. But we often take them for granted and forget their awesomeness. I'm thinking especially of family and sig-oths. Living with someone and spending time with them day-in and day-out sometimes allows us to overlook the awesome and focus on the annoying. What if we remembered their awesomeness more often? What if we told them about their awesomeness on a regular basis?

Right now, I live with Esther and my mom. I am still stunned and amazed by Esther's awesome on a regular basis-- when I remember she used to be just a blob in my uterus, and now she's speaking in (short) sentences and and asking me to snuggle... I tell Esther on a regular basis how amazing I think she is. My hope is that she'll grow up and believe it. But I don't say much to my mom. I tell her "thank you" for the stuff she does to help me (which is a lot, by the way), and I am grateful for her presence and influence in my life. But I often forget to think of her as awesome. She is awesome, of course-- she's smart and funny and creative and one in a bazillion, and she loves me and Esther fiercely. Unfortunately, I think I take that for granted as we live together. I'm sorry, Mom! You are awesome!

Other relationships like co-workers or friends could also be improved by an attitude of DFTBA. I had a co-worker who was so chatty that I was afraid to step into her office if I was in any kind of a hurry. Her story-telling used to drive me nuts until I realized she wanted to over-inform for fear of under-informing me. It changed my perspective, helping me to realize she was being awesome by going above and beyond in trying to help me. I still had to carefully time my visits, but I also knew to say, "that's just what I needed," as a way to end the conversation and thank her for her help. Reminding ourselves of our co-worker's (sister's/friend's/teacher's) awesome won't make his or her annoying go away, but it changes our attitudes toward him or her.

Even the people we encounter in a nominal way on a daily basis are awesome. The cashier at Target, the librarian, the next door neighbor, the bus driver... they're all created awesome in the image of the divine. This is India Arie's description of seeing everyone as awesome.

The next entry will be about even-farther-reaching possibilities that come from remembering that everyone is awesome.

Concrete tasks for remembering everyone is awesome:
  • Give someone a genuine compliment every day. It will make you come up with a reason you think they're awesome, but it will also pass on the awesome.
  • When you pray, give thanks for someone.
  • Listen to the India Arie song above while you're on your commute. Look at the people around you and remember that they're awesome.

God, thank you for making me awesome. And thank you for the awe-inspiring people in my life. Thank you for ___________________, who showed me awesomeness today. Help me to see you in the faces of your people with whom I interact. Amen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Trip to Philly

Esther and I went into Philly last week for V-Day.  One Billion Rising was V-Day/The Vagina Monologues' huge worldwide movement. One of my best friends helped plan OBR, so I just HAD to go.

For the sake of adventure, and also to avoid all the drama of parking in the city, Esther and I took the train. She's a fan of Thomas & Friends, so riding the choo-choo was very exciting.

Yeah... she looks excited, doesn't she?

OBR took place at Love Park, home of the famous LOVE statue.  It was the first time I'd seen the statue, and I have to tell you, it was smaller than I expected. Of course, we still took a picture!

It's in a historical and touristy part of town, right next to the Visitors' Center and City Hall. The City Hall has an archway underneath with four sculpted columns. Each column is decorated with a cluster of people holding up the ceiling at the top... they look like four stereotyped races of people. I can't decide if it looks more like historical racism or a symbol of inclusiveness, but I think it's some odd old-fashioned well-meant combination of the two. At the top of the arches between the columns were four animals, a bull, a lion, an elephant, and some other strange cat/wolf-like animal that Esther decided was a pig. She kept pointing at this thing, which truly looked like a werewolf, and saying, "Oink, oink!"

Across the street is the Mason's Temple. I kept thinking of Dan Brown and Nicholas Cage.

As we walked around the block, we came across Macy's. Macy's isn't so exciting, but it used to be Lord & Taylor, and before that, Wannamaker's. Wannamaker's was a huge department store, nine stories of retail in the middle of the city.

It's also where my great-grandmother Esther worked. She was a seamstress and dress-maker in the ladies' department. She took the train from Frazer, her family's farm, into Suburban Station. The art deco station is right around the corner, and the arrival point for many folks from the suburbs who came into Philly to work.

Esther and I went into Macy's to get a glimpse of the place where Grandmom Esther used to work. It was another place I'd never seen in Philly. It's famous, historic, and connected with my family... I'm not sure why I never went before!

Wannamaker's was in the movie Mannequin, a 1980s classic starring Kim Cattrall before she became Samantha Jones. It has this giant eagle sculpture which is also a landmark. There's an expression, "Meet me at the Eagle," which was a catchphrase in advertising in addition to being a useful way to find a friend when both are done shopping.

Mr. Wannamaker wanted his store to be in itself an adventure and a landmark and an experience. The pipe organ that Mr. Wannamaker built is the largest operational organ in existence.  It had a restaurant and fantastic tile and marble architectural features. He had President Taft dedicated the re-build, and there's a marker on the floor where he stood. Macy's has redone a lot of the walls (something about taxes and square-footage), but there are still some pretty cool historical features and fixtures. Macy's only uses three stories of Wannamaker's nine. The rest were sold as office space. It's likely that Grandmom's work space was on a higher story, and has been remodeled.

Some friends I hadn't seen in a long time met us in the city and we enjoyed a delicious dinner. Esther was a bit out of sorts after the long day, but calmed down a bit after one of those friends took her for a quick walk around the block in her stroller.

We caught the train from Suburban Station and headed home, where Esther passed out in the car just moments after pulling away.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Spirituality of DFTBA 1: You're Created Awesome

(First I want to say that I'm a Presbyterian minister, so I'm coming at this spirituality from a Christian perspective. That said, it's a pretty progressive Christian perspective, and I don't consider it THE answer to the spirituality of DFTBA, just A perspective, and for that matter, MY perspective. Feel free to argue or agree as you so choose, I don't believe you're going to hell b/c we disagree.)

The newest scholarly translation of scripture (the CEB) translates the creation story in the first chapter of Genesis to say that after God created humanity, God pronounced us "supremely good."

Also within that story, scripture tells us that humanity was created in God's image.

I believe that being made "supremely good," in the image of a divine being is pretty awesome.

Here's a more scientific understanding. What are the chances that all the atoms, all the molecules, all the cells and hormones and whatever else it took to get you conceived and then born, were in the right place at the right time to make YOU? Not good. You are one in a bazillion (see how scientific I am?). That is awesome.

So the first part of the spirituality of DFTBA is: You are AWESOME!

Another way to put it might be, "You are awesome." Much of advertising media out there is designed to make us think we're not awesome... we need to buy these products, look like these models, be athletic like these people, drive these cars, acquire these dollars, all to become awesome. Realizing we're already awesome, without the car or the cash or the crap, is freeing. Knowing we're already awesome allows us to focus on other things that are awesome instead of the stuff that we think could make us awesome. Because we know it can't. Because we already are.

It's hard to get this concept through our thick skulls sometimes, and that's understandable, because we've been told from the moment we could be told, that we're less than awesome. Sometimes the voices are the media's, sometimes they're from our parents and teachers, and sometimes they're even our own. So how to make ourselves believe it? I've heard this stuff about being made in God's image for years now, and it only makes a little dent in all the self-doubt that still pounds away at me. A few ideas...

  • Put something precious in your pocket. Maybe a piece of family jewelry, or a beautiful stone or shell that you found out in creation... maybe a note someone wrote that told you how great you are, maybe that scripture passage, whatever. Whenever you're feeling the non-awesome creep in, put one hand in your pocket, and let the other hand give a peace sign (Alanis) to the negativity.
  • Tell someone else they're awesome. it will make them feel good, and will make you feel better.
  • Do something awesome.  A small act of kindness will boost someone else, but it will boost you, too.
  • Mute the commercials. It's bad enough having to watch, but then they tell you why you're not that awesome. And commercials are too loud, anyway.

Part of this DFTBA practice during Lent is about helping my two-year-old daughter Esther know she is awesome, too. My plan for her:

  • Every night when I tuck her in, I tell her she is loved and I tell her she is awesome/amazing/beautiful, etc.
  • Every night when I re-tuck her in, when she is already asleep and I am going to bed, I tell her the same stuff in hopes she hears it subliminally.
  • I read her stories with awesome female characters. This is one way I can control the images from the media that she is seeing.
  • I sing songs about God and use "she" and "her" as the gender pronoun, along with "he" and "his."
  • Snuggle her, hug her, kiss her, and tell her she's awesome whenever I want. 
  • When we say grace at dinner, I thank God for her, in front of her.

A prayer:
God, thank you for making me awesome. Help me to believe it, live it, and not forget it.

People of other faith traditions, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Party: Cupcakes!

We had the Dum Ditty Drum cake at the party, but we needed some monkeys, too!
And, what flavor says monkeys like banana?

I used this recipe for the cupcakes, and this recipe for the Nutella icing.

Then I decorated the cupcakes to look like the monkeys who say, Dum Ditty Dum Ditty, Dum Dum Dum!

I used some Valentine's day M&Ms and sorted the whites and pinks. I used the pinks on the big cake and the whites for the eyes of the monkeys.
For the nose and mouth, I used a Nilla Wafer (yum!). I mixed a bit of milk with some gel food dye, and used a skinny paint brush to make the nostrils and a smile.
I read on one account of this (found on Pinterest of course), that the Nilla Wafers get soggy when applied to far in advance, so I waited till the morning of the party to apply them. They did get gross pretty quickly, but not so much soggy as stale.

Here's the finished product!
And here they all are, getting ready to be eaten!
We ended up with way more cupcakes than we needed, so we took them downstairs to the dining room of Nanna's nursing home. I tried to tell one woman what they were-- banana cupcakes with Nutella icing.  "Vanilla?" she said.
"No, Nutella. Um, it's a hazelnut spread. Chocolate and hazelnut."
"What did she say?" she asked the lady sitting next to her.
Generation gap, I guess.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

For Lent: DFTBA

My friend Hank and his brother John are famous. You may know them as the Vlogbrothers. This is their YouTube channel. One of their common themes is, "Don't Forget To Be Awesome," or DFTBA.

Also, here's a blog called Pigtail Pals, Ballcap Buddies. It's all about breaking down gender stereotypes for kids. Esther is 2, and even now, the bathing suits in her size are ruched to look like there are breasts. The toy options for kids are pink/purple or blue/black/red. This blog says that "colors are for everybody," and that kids are "full of awesome."

Finally, it's Lent. I'm a minister, albeit unemployed at the moment, and I have been struggling to come up with  some kind of Lenten discipline to take on. So when I saw this video, in which President Obama talks about his daughters and reminds John to tell his unborn child not to forget to be awesome, I thought, "Yes!" I will try to be full of awesome for Lent. I will try not to forget to be awesome as a spiritual discipline. And I will work on helping Esther know she is awesome, too.

Stay tuned for:
- the spirituality of DFTBA
- ways I can RTBA (remember to be awesome) on a regular basis
- ways I do/can help Esther know she is awesome now, and as she gets older
- the princess debate: are princesses awesome?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Another Grossness

E loves her some chapstick. She is fascinated watching me put it on and she calls it Mou. As in, mouth.
She found a stick the other day and got the cap off (darn it! When did she learn how to do that!?!) and started smearing all over her face. And her lips. And her tongue. Then, "Mommy, mou?" And I let her. And it was gross.

The Party: Wardrobe

I knitted a little sweater and sewed a little dress for E's big day.

The dress ended up too big, but short. Luckily I included lots of extra fabric in the hem, so I can let it out and the dress can grow with her a bit.

I found the fabric at JoAnn's, but didn't really have an idea for it till her birthday rolled around.

Here's the pattern. It claims to be "very easy," but I had to Google some words and look up some videos to make it happen. I used elastic for the first time, and made poufy sleeves for the first time. I'm kinda proud of it.

Here's the sweater.

And here's the preview post.

I used  this pattern, but modified it to be a cardigan.

My Uncle Paul, or as Esther calls him, Pau Pau, gave her and all the kids at the party Mylar balloons. Here she is, so excited to be playing with them back at the house. I love the excitement on her face!

The cap sleeves on the sweater were too small for the short sleeves on the dress, especially b/c the dress was too big. But it's still cute and she'll be able to wear it any time.

She saw me knitting it, and I told her I was making a jacket for her. So the day of the party, when it was finally finished, she kept saying, "Mommy, chackie!" It was almost like she was telling everybody I made it.  : )

A few shots of Esther "helping" me knit:

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Party: Cake

The most important part of any party is the food... at a birthday party, the cake is central!
I made a chocolate cake out of a box and made it in two nine inch round pans. I made golden butter icing and dyed half of it green. The white is between the two layers and on top, with the green on the outsides.

Pink M&Ms line the drum, with pretzel sticks as decoration, pretzel rods topped with marshmallows as the drumsticks. Totally from Pinterest.

Here's the cake in action!

Esther didn't exactly know how to blow out the candle.

So I helped.

And then she ate a drumstick.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

One Billion Rising

Today is the day!
Esther and I are taking the train into Philly so we can stand (or sit in a stroller, we'll see) against violence against women.  Check out their website for more information.

A lot of locations are doing flashmobs, but Philly is doing Zumba together. The dancing is an empowering way to channel the emotion around the topic, while displaying to the world that women are not going to take it any more.

If you're not attending an event (some locations do have events throughout the weekend), I encourage you to watch one of the many events worldwide on the website. There are live feeds there, and I assume lots of videos will be posted to YouTube later.

Another way to contribute to the cause: call you congress person and remind him or her to vote for VAWA. The Violence Against Women Act made it through the Senate, but we're waiting on Congress.  Here's some info here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

She likes it!

Esther found her party activities! "Dum Dummy," she said, and went over to the monkeys.

 We talked about "rings on fingers" and she played with it a bit.

 She suddenly started pointing out the monkeys and said, "Book?" She looked worried. I told her the book was ok, they were just pictures. She went back to playing.

Didn't take long for her attention to go to the rings...

I think she likes it!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

First real haircut

My BFF from high school cuts hair, so of course I go to her for myself and for Esther's hair. Tina is the best and we always have fun when I go in there.

Esther has been getting her bangs cut since she was nine months old, when her hair first started getting into her eyes a lot. Sometimes I have been the stylist, but Tina has been the primary trimmer.

E's hair has gotten kind of stringy and tangly, probably time for a trim. So I finally took her in to Salon DeSante for her first real haircut.

She looks so small in the chair!

Tina is trying to tell her how cool the cape is. Look! Bears! (Esther rejected the cape. After E's cut, I had a bit of a trim and wore the cape. When we got in the car, E tried to pull her blanket up over her shoulders like the cape.)

The amazing Tina hard at work on a very wiggly client!

Finished product!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I'm feeling lucky

I have Picasa, Google's photo-editing app. It's easy and as far as I can tell, it gets the job done.
There's one button on there that  basically does all the functions at once: color, contrast, lighting, etc. It uses Google's "I'm feeling lucky" and every once in a while, there's a picture that makes me say, "Yes, yes I am."

Today it was Esther's grin during her haircut.

She is totally cheesing for the camera.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Party Prep II

The other game... a cheesie poof toss through the mouth of a smiling monkey!

To make:
1. Scan image of choice.
2. Crop photo to face.
3. Check your printer's poster settings. I made mine three sheets by three sheets. Print. (I was apparently running out of yellow ink as this was printing.)
4. Mount the printed sheets onto cardboard.  (I used an old Ikea box and Elmer's spray glue.)
5. Using a utility knife, cut around the image and cut out the mouth.
6. Finally, use another cardboard box to make a kickstand.

I figure folks of all ages will have fun throwing cheesie poofs at each other... I mean, in the monkey's mouth.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Party Prep

Esther will be 2 on Monday. I can't even believe it. Her party will be this Saturday, and I've been doing all kinds of stuff to get ready. (Unemployment is good for something, anyway.)

I've tried two different recipes for banana cakes to make the monkey cupcakes. This one won.
I tried two flavors of icing: Nutella and chocolate/peanut-butter. Nutella won.

I've been working on a sweater for Esther. (A few more inches to go!)

And a dress. (Still need to finish the bottom hem, wash, and press. I'll show you in a few days.)

And today I finished the games. The first is a ring toss, inspired by "Rings on fingers. Rings on thumb."

I scanned the page from the book and added the text in the corner.  It's a decoration/sign to identify game.

I assembled and painted a "hand" from dowel rods and wooden ovals from A.C. Moore.

Then I made some rings. I used shower rings and tied some big shiny beads to them with wire.

It will be quite a feat for anyone to actually ring a finger with these, but I figure it will occupy the menfolk for a bit.

The other game posts tomorrow!

Grossness update

Last night, I was putting lotion (called, "shoshi") on her. Her eczema is pretty bad right now, so her lotion is a big tub of glorified Vaseline. She likes to dippy dip her fingers in the tub and rub it on her hands, belly, in her hair...
Well, last night she pulled out a big ole glob of it and stuck it straight in her mouth.  Gross.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Besides eating ketchup with a spoon, Esther has introduced me to levels of grossness I never knew possible. Last night she pooped in the tub and called me into the bathroom where I saw her holding a large piece of it, saying, "Mommy, poopy!!" Obviously poop is gross, I won't get into anymore of those details. But here are just a few of my surprise gross-outs:

Esther picks her nose and eats what she finds. (I didn't know kids really do this!)
Esther wipes her nose and spreads it wherever she finds (across her cheek, across my cheek).
Esther pulls stuff out of the trash. And eats it.
Esther rubs bananas in her hands like solid lotion. The she rubs it on her face, arms, me, you name it.
She tastes food, chewing it halfway before deciding she doesn't like it. Then she spits it out and hands it to me.
Yesterday I gave her a peanut butter sandwich. She opened it, placed it peanut butter-side down, pushed down on the bread like she was kneading dough, picked up the bread, and started licking the left-behind peanut butter off the table.

This is just the beginning. I am stunned daily.

Update: she pooped in the tub again tonight. This is not a habit I want her to develop.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ketchup (catsup?)

Esther loves ketchup. She really likes a wide variety of condiments, but I'm pretty sure ketchup is her favorite. She will eat anything if she can dip it in "dippy-dip."

We went out for Chinese the other night and I got her a child-size portion of sweet & sour chicken. The chicken (originally called "chi-chi," now called "chicky") was more like funnel cake, and Esther wasn't feeling it. But she loved the ketchup I gave her for her her "fize" (fries).
So she ate it with a spoon.

Today we had chicky nuggets with dippy-dip for lunch.  Dipping nuggets wasn't enough. Dipping her fingers and licking them clean wasn't enough. She asked for a napkin (nacky) and proceeded to finger paint.

I never realized ketchup was so versatile!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Swim Lessons

Esther and I have been taking Mommy-and-me swim lessons at the Y. She loves the water, and has fun, but trying to keep her doing what the instructor wants us to do is tricky! She wants to watch everybody else do the thing she is supposed to be doing. She's a people-person and an observer. When she is willing to relax and do whatever she's supposed to, she's a pretty good little kicker and scooper (make scoop hands and do a forward crawl-ish stroke). She just started blowing bubbles this week! It's kind of a big deal.

I would love to show you a pic of her in the pool, but I'm in the water with her and can't exactly let go to take a pic. There were some super-excited grandparents there the other day, taking pics of their 18-moth-old cutie and her mom in the water. I felt embarrassed-- hello, I'm in my bathing suit here, and I haven't lost all my baby weight (I know, I know, it's probably not baby weight any more if she's 2!). But I talked myself down-- it's not like they give a poop about anyone else in the water except their grandbaby, and they will probably crop me out.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

GREAT grandparents

One of the best things about moving back to my hometown is the opportunity for Esther to have lots of time with her grandparents, who are great. Yesterday was an especially fabulous grandparent day. After swim lessons, Gram took us to a local pond to feed the geese. Esther had a blast calling the "Quack-quacks" and "Honk-honks" and throwing "bed" (bread) at them.

Later we went over to Grandma and Grandpa's for dinner. This included lots of eating and lots of playing.

After dinner, we came home (Gram's house) and I ran out to yoga. So Esther got to stay up a bit late, enjoying ice cream and an impromptu photo session when Esther picked up a picture frame from one of Gram's art projects.

I am so thankful for great parents turned great grandparents.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Party preview

A hint as to Esther's wardrobe for the big day.

Another hint:

Separation Anxiety II

The Switching Hour: Kids of Divorce Say Good-bye Again
This was the book that I thought was going to help me with my separation anxiety during all of Esther's switches back and forth between my home and her dad's home. As it turns out, it is a reminder of all the ways the "shared custody lifestyle" affect kids with divorced parents. The author reminds parents about the anxieties of kids before the switch, during the switch, and just in general-- having a two-part life. She talks a little bit about the ways those anxieties manifest themselves in the kids' behavior, but she's not really talking about toddlers like Esther. For Esther, I know what it is: a hard time saying good-bye the first day back at school, a hard time saying good-night the first couple nights back with me. Her eating is still pretty good, and she still mostly sleeps through the night.

The author also includes some worst-case scenarios which increase my likelihood of not sleeping through the night: suicidal kids and abusive co-parents. Fortunately, I'm not actually worried about any of that right now.

While a lot of the book is guilt-inducing and depressing-- am I ruining my daughter's life here?-- I know that re-reading it every now and again as Esther grows up will be good for me. The reminders of what not to do: don't bug your kid about what the other parent is up to, don't ask your kid to play messenger between parents, don't talk bad about the other parent, etc., are wise. While my most rational self does a good job with these, it can be pretty easy for irrationality to step in with such emotional stuff as my ex and my baby.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Felt snowman

I made this for Esther. It's cut out of white felt (felt by the yard from Michael's) and decorated with black felt circles and an orange felt carrot.
The idea came from a Pin of a felt Christmas tree. I taped it to the back door with painters' tape, and cut out a bunch of felt decorations for it.  Just circles in primary colors. Esther had fun decorating her tree whenever she wanted, especially since she wasn't really excited about not being allowed to touch the real tree.
My mom and I figured, you can make anything with this idea. A snowman for the rest of winter, maybe an ocean scene come summer time...
The snowman, as you see, is not taped to the door. One of the advantages of having a mom who has been a teacher/director of a preschool for 25 years is that she >happens< to own a flannel board.

She's not really into it, unfortunately.  Maybe next year?