Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Too much for one day

I made my first ever rolls. They are soooo good. The recipe was from a cookbook my seester had. She was sweet enough to scan it in to her computer and send it to me.





Click on the recipe to see it larger.

Obviously I made rolls from the recipe instead of bread. I also used whole milk instead of soy milk and corn starch instead of potato starch and from what I can tell, had successful results!

I made my first ever cheesecake! It appears the results were successful, but my ass will be on the line tomorrow afternoon when it's time for dessert at our friends house!



I took that picture before I added the top layer of caramel to the cheesecake. Oh, pure heaven. It better have set properly or I just might die of sadness.

Today our dog, Heidi, celebrated her first birthday! I fully intended to really celebrate, but we had soooo much going on today. And you know, she's a dog, so she won't know if her presents and treats come a bit late this year.



Photo taken by Iris.

We adore Heidi. She is sweet and sassy and adorable and playful and all of the wonderful things a dog should be. We're looking forward to many, many more years with her!

It is also my brother-in-laws 40th! He got his present from us in the mail already so don't think he's playing second fiddle in our hearts on this extra-special birthday day! Happy Birthday Jon!

Our good friend Kyla spent the day with us, which was a blast. She spent a good chunk of her time here playing with the girls, which the girls loved and if I can believe what she said, Kyla loved, too. She is so awesome with kids and it gave me HUGE chunks of time to work on very labor-intensive baking in the kitchen. We went to lunch, took a walk and watched My Neighbor Totoro with her, too, so I didn't completely abandon her the whole time she was here! Her boyfriend came over after he got done with work and I made everyone some of my yummy pizzas (yep, more time with the stove!). After finally winding the girls down and getting them to bed we played a fun game Kyla brought called Killer Bunnies which was sooooo fun.



It is a little involved and has lots of cards, but it's pretty easy to learn and is unlike anything I've ever played before. We laughed alot!

Whew. It's after midnight and I need to get to bed. Tomorrow I make the hummus and the ginger-cranberry relish. Everything else I am doing gets done at our friend's house. We're spending the day with good friends. There will be six adults and six kids and lots of chaos and fun. And food. OH the food! YUM. I really should have been fasting all day today in preparation!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Resting easier

After feeling a bit of disappointment about last Thursday's meeting with Iris's teacher we had a much, much better one today. Today was our parent-teacher conference and although our intention was to talk about kindergarten, we mostly ended up talking about Iris and her interactions with these other two little girls at school. Actually, it DID play right in with kindergarten, as my absolute biggest worry is that Iris would go to kindergarten and not be able to handle conflict resolution. She would be hitting kids and hurling insults and get herself in a whole heap of trouble over it.

Today her teacher was explaining it can be a very subtle dynamic between Iris and the girls at school, one that often only the teacher understands. For instance, if the other girls are subtely excluding her, Iris has a monster reaction-- to the outsider it may look totally unprovoked and out of nowhere, but the teacher is seeing what is setting her off. Not that it makes Iris's reaction okay, but it does explain it. What worries me is if Iris goes to kindergarten and this type of thing happens it will look to people like Iris is being totally unruly, and will likely be disciplined accordingly. UNLESS she has a good teacher who understands this kind of dynamic and understands what is setting her off.

Iris's teacher was also explaining that Iris is very sensitive and that if someone hurts her feelings, all she can think to do is hurt them right back, and often times the things that hurt her feelings seem to be fairly minor. To an adult they feel minor, and maybe even to the other kids they feel minor, but not to her. In addition she explained that we could help Iris process her feelings about being excluded by doing things like writing letters, drawing pictures, playing with puppets/dolls and acting it out in imaginary play.

We also talked about kindergarten and how even though Iris does have a few things we're working on, that there are many qualities she has that show she is very ready for kindergarten. For instance, she can focus for long periods, she can follow directions, she is writing words and can write her name easily.

All in all we're much more confident about things regarding kingergarten and about how to handle Iris's hurt feelings and resulting anger. The teacher agreed that a school where Iris had the opportunity to do many creative things sounded like a good fit for her and so I'm even more excited about some of the schools we're looking in to. Now here's to hoping that the schools that look good on paper will actually end up being a good fit!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another weekend flying by too fast . . .

Lots packed in to our weekend, yet again. I wonder when we will have a weekend where we sit around staring at each other trying to figure out something to do?

Yesterday I got to sleep in suuuuuper late. Ah. Of course, I like to think Matt might have owed me for waking me up mulitple times the night before with his snoring from another room. Mad skillz, I tell ya! When I finally dragged my lazy butt out of bed I found a yummy breakfast waiting for me as well as Matt working on Christmas list's with the girls. It was so cute!

I bought a desk off of craigslist yesterday, too, which I am trying not to have buyer's remorse over. I have it over pretty much everything, but it's even harder knowing I can't return it if I want to. It's a decent desk. Not quite as sturdy as I would like, but once Iris started drawing on it with permanent marker I realized why it might be a good idea for us to have less than perfect furniture at this time in our lives! Plus, well, I love sitting at it. I feel so official. Official in what, I have no idea.

Today we had plans to pt up our Christmas tree and other decorations. We usually do this the day after Thanksgiving but this year we plan to be in Yakima then, so instead of setting it up late, we decided to do it early. The whole process was going swimmingly until the lights that worked when initially plugged in failed to work once strung on the tree. Ugh. We decided some family errands were in order since we had hit a road block with tree trimming. Off to Easy Street Records to spend a wedding gift certificate while they were having a big sale. Eloise was walking around grabbing anything she could saying she wanted it. At one point she got a Putamayo Sesame Street CD and I was like you know, we can get that! She seemed pleased enough. After we picked out a few more we were off to lunch. Then on to Bed, Bath and Beyond, which, incidentally, does not sell strings of lights for trees. I was super annoyed, but found a few other things to buy, of course! Like, a cheesecake pan to make this recipe for Thanksgiving. Yum, right?

Then back home, where we eventually finished trimming the tree and cleaning up the gigantic mess that whole process makes of our apartment. The tree looks lovely, don't you think?



Okay, obviously you can't see much of the tree. I haven't figured out a good way to get a picture of a Christmas tree. If the flash goes off you can't see the twinkling lights. If the flash doesn't go off your tree is a fuzzy blob of green. Tips?

I'm excited for a short work week for Matt this week, though. And for Thanksgiving! And travelling! Oh my!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The school meeting

So I mentioned in my last post, there was a meeting at Iris's school on Thursday afternoon to talk about the issues she and two other little girls were having with each other. To recap, as I understand it, the situation was that the other two girls mostly preferred to play together and exclude Iris and in turn Iris got pissed, hurled insults and fists at the other girls.

I didn't know what to expect. I ended up being late getting to Iris's school that day (stuck at a damn train in SODO). When I got there the three little girls and their teacher were in the bathroom talking. Yes, the bathroom. The school is minuscule and only one room, so with the working parent trying to clean up, it was really the only place to go while it was raining outside. I get there and the other moms are standing around, so I stand around, too. After a while they come out of the bathroom and the teacher shares with the moms the agreements that the girls have come up with for playing together. Both things they CAN do (ie hug, kiss, offer friends to play) and things they CAN'T do (ie tell secrets, call names, say other kids can't play with them). The girls all seem amenable to the agreements, we stand around a bit outside and we all say yeah, sounds good, blah blah.

Afterwards I felt let-down. I didn't feel like the issue of Iris's very hurt feelings was addressed, nor was the cause for the other girl's excluding her. We have a parent-teacher conference on Tuesday so I will ask the teacher about it then.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Breaking my heart

I have known for a while that there were some issues between Iris and a couple of other girls at school. The issues are, mainly, that two is great but three is a crowd. From what I gather, Iris is constantly trying to fit in with the other girls and gets very angry when she can't and is pushing/hitting/calling names when things don't go her way and she is feeling excluded.

Last week the teacher mentioned that she would like the three girls and their parents to get together to work out a solution, or hopefully facilitate a conversation that will help the girls work our their own solution. Today when I picked up Iris from school the teacher asked if we could have that meeting on Thursday, so we're looking forward to that.

On the way home from school today Iris talked to me about how said she was that she was being left out, how much it hurt her feelings. I felt my heart breaking in to a bazillion pieces as she spoke. She asked me if that had ever happened to me when I was little and I answered as honestly as I could and said "all of the time, sweetie". For me, the hardest part is knowing full well how painful it is when you're feeling excluded. When other children, whom you adore, look at you and say you can't play, or they don't like you, they don't want to be your friend. It makes you really sad and angry and causes you to respond to them in a way that certainly doesn't foster friendly relations, so the cycle gets even worse. My sweet, beautiful, amazing little four year old girl is having her feelings hurt at school. What can I do? What can I possibly do or say to make her feel better about that? It's hard for her at this age, too, because largely her friends depend on me being friends with the child's parents, and frankly, it's super hard for me to make friends. While all of the other parents are frantically planning play dates with each other, Iris and I head home day after day with nary a play date planned. She would die for a play date, so what's my issue? I'm 31 years old and still don't really know how to make friends, I suppose.

So anyways, I'm looking forward to the meeting later this week. Iris's teacher is amazing and I know we will come away from it having worked things out. Unfortunately for us, this is the last year Iris's feelings will be this closely tended to by her teacher. Iris attends a school with nine total families and eight children in the class on any given day. Her teacher is amazing, saint-worthy, really, but next year, come kindergarten, my poor girl is on her own. She will be excluded on the play ground and an adult won't be there to help her process her hurt feelings. I know this is part of growing up, but holy crap, will someone hold my hand through this please?

Another fantastic no-nap day!

I know many of you mama's out there are probably wondering what particular brand of crack I'm smoking, but really, I'm truly excited that Eloise is starting to drop her nap. It has made our afternoons MUCH more fun! Usually when Eloise naps I am crazy overcome with exhaustion and end up somewhat passed out on the couch while Iris watches tv. With Eloise not napping we actually do stuff in the afternoon and although I still get a little tired, it's not the all-consuming tired I used to feel.

Today, for instance, while Eloise wasn't napping I organized/cleaned a bunch of stuff in the kitchen and the girl's played restaurant (Iris made finger sandwiches!). Then they wanted to paint so we got all set up for that, made a huge mess, then I threw the girls in the tub while I cleaned up. Now it's now, I've decided to sit on the couch for a bit and check out the happenings online. The girls have watched a bit of a video but mostly snacked and putzed around. Now they've both gone to the table and are coloring while the video still plays. Why? Why can't I turn the damn thing off? It's an illness. A tv illness. But, I digress.

Although I have always known I am good at not being a pack-rat, I still lack skill in organizing what we have. Being in a small apartment (well, small for a family of four!) has helped us pare down, but it also still means a constant lack of space. We have plenty of stuff without actual homes. Stuff that just sort of floats around. Stuff that lives in weird places like on top of the fridge. I wish I could figure out a better organization system. One thing I really need is a desk where I can organize all of my papers, like bills and such. Right now my system is to stack everything by the computer and then randomly go through them every once in a while and deal with them. It's seriously a wonder I never pay a bill late!

It's hard to know exactly what to do for organization right now, as (fingers crossed!) we'll be moving before too long. I don't want to invest in anything for our current home that won't be needed and/or work in our new home. So I'll just be shuffling everything around until then! Maybe relocating and packing/unpacking will help everything to find it's specific place. Here's to hoping!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Today I . . .

Did a monster-load of dishes. Twice.

Exercised the dog. Twice.

Drank a quart of (lite!) egg nog.

Requested four days a week for Eloise to be in preschool next year.

Found myself giddy and a little freaked out at the idea of both of my children being in school at the same time four mornings a week next year.

Researched homes for sale in Columbia City.

Subsequently drooled over some of the ones in our price range. Yay!

Smashed myself in the face with the car door and broke off a piece of my glasses.

Didn't threaten either of my daughters even ONCE. I'm working on this, falling short more days than others, but I'm working.

Found myself amazed that we are finally, finally getting ahead in our lives in every possible way even while the economy is crumbling around us.

Was longing for something, anything, that I can do with myself that is creative and uses my brain.

Smiled at the thought of my nephews on Christmas Day opening the hippity hops that we sent them!

Smiled at the thought of my daughters opening theirs, too.

Wondered if I should send hippity hops to my nieces, as well.

Contacted an Etsy seller about getting a set of tutus and fairy wings made for my daughters for Christmas.

Watched WAY too much HGTV.

Showered alone.

Laughed with my daughters more than I yelled.

The Sunday Slump

We started noticing a while ago that Sunday's were a particularily hard day for Iris. She acted out more than usual, was more teary than usual, just all around kind of difficult to deal with. I wish I could figure out what it was. I mean, for me, I know it's Sunday, I am not a fan of Sunday because it means the end of the weekend. Although Iris can't really read a calendar yet, does she still just know it's the end of the weekend? Is she reacting to that? We don't really do anything differently on Sunday than we do on Saturday and she's fine on Saturday.

Does this happen to anyone else's children? Any thoughts on what might be going on?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Moving along!

We got some great news this morning about the state of our process towards becoming home owners! We are so close. SO close! It's really very exciting. It turns out it was a blessing in disguise that we had to go through this process for a few months because while we waited, and waited, and waited, the home prices just continued to fall, and fall, and fall. We're barely within the range to be able to buy a home in a neighborhood we really want to live in, as well, which is pretty thrilling! Honestly, although it has been annoying repairing credit and all of that, our timing is ending up being impeccable. Home prices in Seattle were rising a bit and now they are just falling so much. I don't think there has been a better time for us to buy between the amount of income we have to put towards a mortgage and the current home prices.

I've also come to two realizations about kindergarten. One is that I won't do a co-op with Iris. I just can't. I am already doing one with Eloise and there is no way I can do two at the same time. So, that eliminates that. The other is that we're not going to look in to private schools right now. Even with substantial financial aid we couldn't really afford private school, especially with two children! So those are currently off the list. If we end up not finding a public school we like, then we will look in to private, but there are several public schools I am very interested in. I think we'll find something we really like.

It's all coming together!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oh Kindergarten.

Tonight at our parent meeting at the girl's school we talked about kindergarten. All of the children in Iris's class are turning five and moving on to kindergarten next year and we had some alumni come in and talk about their children's transition past preschool.

I swear this process will be the death of me. One on hand I am like "Woo hoo! All day free Kindergarten! Sign me up, get her out of the house!" and then on the other hand I am more like "OMG, my sweet, emotionally under-developed little bunny. The world is full of wolves and she can never leave my side!" So where's the middle ground? I have no idea.

I worry soooo much about Iris. She has a June birthday, first of all, which makes her the youngest in her preschool class, and likely one of the very youngest in any future classes. I haven't really thought too much about holding her back a year to start school, but honestly, when I see her with other children who are already turning five, she seems worlds different to me. She clearly is not as mature and struggles in things like conflict resolution. She's even starting to have problems at school with hitting kids and screaming "I hate you! You're stupid!" at kids who aren't doing what she wants them to. I worry that she won't have moved THAT far past this stage come next September. I worry about her being a "troublemaker" in class and having a teacher who is juggling 20 other children and not having the time to work with her on helping her to learn these skills. I worry about her getting in trouble more, about her behavior actually getting worse because she doesn't have the guidance she needs when navigating the world of kindergarten.

Of course, so much can change between now and then, but how can I hinge her school on what might be? On my hopes for how much she will grow? Is that what people do?


Anyways, my head is spinning. I just don't know.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Oh my, oh my

I've had a pretty rough week health wise. On Sunday, during breakfast, I came down with something. Not sure what exactly to call it until my dog trainer said alot of people she was working with had "The Black Plague". Oh yes, that was IT! That must be what I have. Going on, what, day five? Six? Ready to be done. I got alot of rest this afternoon and that helped immensely. I'm on the wellness track! Anyone else have these vague flu-like symptoms that are hanging on for dear life? My doctor said she's seeing alot of this right now. If you don't have it, I wouldn't wish it on you!

We got some amazingly fantastic news on Tuesday morning, however, which has greatly over-shadowed my annoyance at being so sick. Matt recently received yet another promotion (go babe!) and got a hefty raise to go with it. We were sort of waiting around to hear what his raise would be, but weren't too excited because he just recently gotten a raise for a prior promotion. Needless to say, we were very suprised and delighted by this news. It feels like we're just soooo close to being home owners I can just taste it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope wins.

Not only was I glad to be an American last night, but I was also glad to live in the Northwest-- Obama's win was announced at about 8:00 PST so we had plenty of time to watch the speeches and soak up the enormity of the day and still get to bed at a decent hour :)

I was really loving the spontaneous celebrations that were popping up all over Seattle last night. Electricity was in the air. Joy, no-- exuberance!, abounded as people cheered, sang, played instruments, waved flags, hugged and cried. It was so moving to watch the footage online this morning. That many people that excited about the future, it's beyond words. I can only imagine the world looking to us with pride that we finally did the right thing.

The propositions on my ballot were fairly benign, but I was pleased never-the-less that the issues I cared about were supported. My eyes were on California and Prop 8 last night, hoping beyond hope that this disgusting hate measure would NOT be passed. I am terrified that it did, but you know, I do believe our country is making progress. We are going in the right direction slowly but surely. It WILL happen. Equality will happen. Not today, but it will. Hopefully in my lifetime, but I feel strongly that it will in my daughter's lifetime. To think that people used family values as a reason to support Prop 8 makes me beyond irate. Certainly not MY family's values. My family supports love and equality, PERIOD. Ugh. Yes, disgusted beyond words, but the change will come, some day. Some day.

But for now, I won't focus on that. I can't. Instead, I choose elation. I choose to soak in this historical moment and feel beyond proud that this is something I got to see. That my children will know as the NORM. In the first election in Eloise's, and the second in Iris's, lifetime a black man was elected President. I can't even believe that they have the honor of knowing nothing different. Mind boggling.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Christmas ideas

I have been having a really hard time figuring out the right gifts for the girls for Christmas. At first it was going to be this:



It seemed like such a great gift for them to share and then we could just get a couple of other little things for them in addition. However, the more I thought about it, I wasn't sure a joint gift was the best idea this year, considering the daily cage matches we have going on in these parts.

I came up with a ton of great ideas for Iris's solo gift, a new, bigger, bike or a three-wheeled scooter both being high on the list. However I was stumped for Eloise. Matt said something that she can be active with would be best and I very much agreed. But we live in an apartment. On the second floor. With no yard. So what could she be active with in our tiny, yardless, needing to be relatively quiet space? I had it!



A hippity hop! They could SO be used indoors! Then I realized, well, Miss Iris would be none-to-thrilled if only her sister got one, so we might have to get one for each.

Then as I thought a little more, the idea of some dress up clothes came to mind. Not just any dress up clothes, more specifically:



and



Um, hello?!?!?! How much would they love THOSE?! And as they hopped on their hippity hops!

The first image I pulled from the Hearthsong catalog, the second from Etsy. I intend to purchase both of these things from Etsy if that is what we want to get them, I just haven't done very much looking, yet.

Of course, there will have to be a few other things for the girls, too. Like this, for Eloise:



Seriously, she's going to go apeshit over this.

Maybe this movie for Iris?



Or this Wii game for Iris?



I would also love to add to their art supplies collection, via THIS website. Iris's teacher gets alot of their stuff from Discount School Supply so I'm all over it, as I am trying my hardest to follow their Reggio Emilia classroom stylings.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I SO want this!



From The Onion store

Eating at Pete's


Eating at Pete's
Originally uploaded by mama_milkers

We had a really fun breakfast at Pete's Eggnest this morning. My plate of food was so gigantic that I brought over half of it home!

Blogroll

I finally update my blogroll last night, so please give it a look! I cleaned it up, taking out blogs that no longer operate, updating names and links, and likely most importantly, added all of the blogs I have been following for quite some time on Bloglines.

If/When I have the energy I will seperate them all on to categories such as food blogs, family blogs, craft blogs, funny blogs, etc, but for now, they will all remain jumbled up.

Please have a look! And feel free to tell me of any other blogs I should be following!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pizza Night

For the last several weeks we've had a weekly pizza night. Saturday night, to be specific. It's been a huge amount of fun! The first few weeks it was just the four of us but then we decided pizza night was a great way to have people over for dinner, so we've had several rounds of friends come to enjoy it with us. I have really gotten good at making dough from scratch and baking it on our pizza stone. I was just telling Matt tonight that we should get another one because then I could cook two at a time instead of four in succession.

Tonight was our first round of guests from Iris and Eloise's school. It was a family we like but haven't had a chance to spend much time with. They have children the ages of both of ours, so that is nice for the kids to be able to play. We ate yummy pizza, drank wine, did our best to keep Eloise from smashing on the other children too terribly much and did lots of chatting.

All of us are really enjoying our special nights! Our Saturdays are getting booked up nicely with all sorts of friends old and new, coming by.

I need some new pizza ideas, though! Mostly I make typical pies-- pepperoni, vegetarian, greek, a spicy one with jalapenos for Matt. I need some good ideas for fun toppings!