Friday, December 14, 2007

Cara Figlia - The World of Categories

Cara figlia,

The book The Wonder Weeks says you are entering The World of Categories. In the last phase, you discovered The World of Relationships, and now you are using your understanding of relationships to categorize things. There are apparently many ways in which you could be doing this, but I've been watching you and I think you are discovering How Things Feel and How Things Move (Note: I've made these up to describe you--they were not part of the book). You are also discovering How Things Taste, but I suspect all babies do this, especially when teething.

You love to touch everything, pick stuff up, feel it in your hands, turn it over, squish it, rub it, manipulate whatever it is in your hands to figure out How Stuff Feels. If you are anything like your mom (me) or your 12-year-old niece, you will continue to do this with things as you grow up. I still love the feel of soft, furry and silky things, and when I shop, I often touch the fabrics around me. If I don't like the feel of something, I won't buy it. You, however, seem to love feeling rough, scratchy materials. When we look at your touch-and-feel books (which you LOVE, especially the That's Not My Lion), you won't even bother to feel the furry ears of the lion but you never pass up the lion's rough paws! This surprises me, and delights me to see you exploring how everything feels, not just the things I think feel good.

I'm also delighted by how you watch and move everything to see How Stuff Moves. You are fascinated by how the spinning circle rolls down the busy cube, and when it gets to the bottom, you lay your head on the ground and watch it finish spinning, turning your head from side to side. You push things, drop things, throw things and shake things, all in your efforts to see how they move. If you hold up a sweater and shake it around, you are watching the bottom of it to see how it moves. You flip through pages of my books to see how they move.

And most of all, I think you are trying to figure out How The Baby Moves. You are crawling EVERYWHERE! Under chairs, on top of stools (balancing carefully all by yourself), into boxes, around chairs. We had so much fun the other day playing hide-and-seek and chase around the chair in the living room, especially when we went from you chasing me to me chasing (and getting) you! You are standing all the time, trying to figure out just what you are capable of, and often surprising all of us. And your steps while holding our hands are become more and more sure.

This World of Categories is an amazing place to be. I love that you are learning all this, and I can't wait to see what you learn next!

Ti amo con tutti mio cuore,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

That's Amore!

When the moon hits your eye, like a big pecan pie... Okay, so it's supposed to be pizza pie, but I've got pecan pies on the mind! I provide pies/desserts for my family's holiday dinners, and my niece and I get together before Christmas and do holiday baking! Because not only do I love to eat desserts, but I love to make them.

This weekend, my niece (who is almost 13!!! OMG!!!) will come over to my house and we'll use my new Kitchen Aid mixer to bake sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, chocolate truffles, lemon pound cake and I'm thinking of trying caramel popcorn. We package up the goodies and give them to our extended family as Christmas gifts. Everyone seems to like them, this gives me special time with my niece, and she and I get to eat yummy treats! It's a win-win-win!

Londo has generously offered to take the Pumpkin to the mall with him on a busy Saturday afternoon while he does his Christmas shopping. Not only does he hate shopping, but he hates the mall, and he REALLY hates the crowds in the mall around the holidays (his is a crotchety young man, after all). So he is wonderful to go at a time that he'd rather not be there and to take the baby, which means not a quick in-and-out trip. Thank you, sweetheart!

But back to pies... I have such trouble with rolling out pie crusts! It always sticks to the rolling pin or counter, no matter how much flour I use, and I can't seem to roll it evenly. This summer, I bought a ceramic rolling pin which is supposed to help because you put it in the fridge for 20 minutes before you start rolling so the dough won't stick. We'll see if that helps.

Two years ago, I discovered the book I Love Pies and Tarts, by Nancy Kershner, that has the best recipe for a No-Roll Pie Dough. It has been wonderful! I halve the recipe and use it for the bottom crust of my pecan pie. I'm not sure how you would use do a top crust from it, but it works great on the bottom. I highly recommend the book in general, too!

The recipe basically says to mix 2 and 1/4 cups of flour, 2 TBSP sugar, and 2 TSP salt directly in the pie tin, then add 3/4 cup oil and 3 TBSP milk to the mix, and press it into the edges and up the sides of the pie tin. You can bake it first at 425 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes, or just add your filling and bake however long the pie recipe says. And then, enjoy tasty, tasty pie!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Hanukkah and Child Care

First, I feel so remise that I haven't wished the world a Happy Hanukkah through my blog! I have sent email and told people in person, but here is to the world at large: Happy Hannukah! May your oil always burn longer than it should.

Now, on to my current crisis. The Pumpkin goes to my mom's house everyday while I'm at work. My mom watches her and my niece, who is a year older than the Pumpkin, until 1:00 when the nanny/babysitter comes over to watch them in the afternoon. My mom is a music teacher and teaches out of the home in the afternoons. In addition, my 93-year-old grandma has been staying with my mom since October, although she will be going to stay with my uncle for a few months after Christmas.

In general, this has been working out. But every now and then, my mom has a tough day (like yesterday) or some issue comes up, and Londo and I end up re-evaluating whether or not we should move the Pumpkin into another situation. As you might have learned by now, my baby is rather high needs/intense, and she is going through this big 9-month fussy phase. My niece has been an easier child, but it's still hard juggling two (as many mothers know).

The other aspect is that (IMO) it is never easy to enter a financial agreement with family, and add to that the care of your child and it is even harder. I want my mom to be able to vent about tough times, because we all have them. But I know my mom, and she will not want to admit if it is just too much for her. She likes to believe she can do it all and never wants to admit when she can't (I get this from her!). Because of this, it's hard for me to know when she is just venting and when she really does need the situation to change. If I were just paying a person or daycare, I think we would have a different attitude, but it's my mother and my sister involved in this arrangement.

I talked to my mom about whether or not this is working for her, and she says that she is okay for now, especially because my in laws will be up soon and will take care of the Pumpkin for a while, and then my sister's MIL will be up doing the same with my niece, and then my mom will go out to her brothers and return without my grandma. So things will get easier for her soon.

So for now we aren't going to do anything. But we are looking into daycares and nannies. I don't know how we could possibly afford a nanny or even daycare in this area, but we are evaluating that. It's just that things keep coming up, and it is frustrating to deal with. So I guess we will look into other arrangements and try to evaluate if any other is feasible and would be good for my high-needs Pumpkin.

Any suggestions, advice or commiseration is welcome!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tough Job for a Working Mom

Every night when the Pumpkin wakes up after 2:00 (and she always does), I get her out of her crib and nurse her back to sleep lying down in the bed in her nursery. We continue to cosleep until my alarm goes off at 6:00.

Yesterday morning, the alarm woke me up from a very vivid and action-packed dream. This was after the Pumpkin had woken me around 3, and me not sleeping longer than an hour at one time until the alarm went off. After that, the baby was pretty fussy the rest of the morning until I dropped her off at my mom's and headed to work.

I called Londo on the way in to work and was telling him how exhausted I was. "Well, after leading a rebel unit against the Chinese take-over of our moon bases, I woke up and had to deal with a teething baby all morning. I feel like I haven't slept at all."

His response was, "It's tough being a working mother. And 'all your base are belong to us!'"

As a fellow geek, I found this very funny. I also started thinking about how I should write a story or book about a woman who is a key part of a rebellion on the moon, or better yet on Mars (I have a passion for Mars), but also has a baby that she has to take care of. I think it would be a really interesting story, but I'm not sure about how marketable it would be. It would appeal to a very niche market of sci-fi loving moms like me. Maybe some dads too. But probably not much money in it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Question of the Week - What's in a Name

If you could name/could have named your child anything you want, what would it be/have been?

And in this bubble world, you could be pick anything and everyone would love whatever you pick (including your partner, family, and strangers), it would go great with whatever last name you had, no one would tease your child, and it didn't have any weird/bad connotations.

For a girl, mine would probably be Lily, or some name that could be shortened to Lily (as in Lillian or maybe Delilah). My second choice would be Sienna, my third would actually be the Pumpkin's real name, and my fourth would be River or Star or something equally as hippie.

For a boy, mine would be Hunter. Other names at the top of my list are Connor, Dante, or Marcus.

How about you?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Show Us Your Teeth

As with so many other things, the Pumpkin did not get teeth the way the books said she would. This is another reason that I don't depend on the books to tell me what's going to happen or what should happen. Some books (like The Wonder Weeks) have been great at helping me figure out what is currently happening, but I don't try to predict anything with this child anymore. (This is also why I love Ask Moxie (and her community of readers)--because she doesn't say any one thing will happen or any one way will work for your child.)

The Pumpkin got her first two teeth on the bottom, in the middle. Not unusual, except that they came in early-ish (I think around 4.5 months). Then we went months without any teeth. Finally, around 8 months, the Pumpkin got her next tooth. It was on the top, but it was not either of the middle teeth. She got the one to the right of the middle teeth--the lateral incisor, not the central incisor. It was a surprise for us new parents, who thought surely the next two teeth in would be those two top, central incisors.

The fourth tooth in was the right central incisor. So she had the two bottom middle teeth (bottom central incisors) and the middle and next over tooth on the top right. Her smile was a little lopsided and very cute.

Then, the left lateral incisor came in! Finally, just two days ago, the left central incisor came through. Once it works its way down a bit, she'll look a little more even, with four teeth on top and two on bottom. I know she still needs to get the bottom lateral incisors and all four of the canine teeth, but hopefully there will be a little time before they start working their way through. And hopefully even more time before those molars start coming in.

We could use a little more sleep, a little less drool, a bit less biting and a lot less whining. :-)

The Beginnings of a Ski Buddy

After lunch, my daughter and I went back up the "magic carpets" to the top of the bunny slopes. She wanted to keep skiing! With me...