Sunday, September 28, 2008

Firsts! Big Firsts!

Due to my negligence on my poor, poor blog I failed to blurt last week that The Bug peed on the potty TWO times last weekend - first on Friday, then on Sunday. These are her first successes since the time when she was 18 months old, asked to sit on the training potty, accidentally peed, then got a very surprised, scared look on her face and stopped the stream until she had a diaper on. So HOORAY, this is real interest on her part - I am not doing even 20% of the "hey, wanna sit on the potty?" that I did for Sweet Pea when she was this age.

Then, this morning, during a very energetic and loud play session with her sister after their shower, The Bug ran to the bathroom doorway (I was inside still getting dressed), yanked off her diaper (that's all she'd been wearing) and said, "Mommy, I pee-peed in my diapah - I need a kween one." But instead of waiting for the clean diaper she walked to the potty, lifted the lid and asked to sit on it. I figured, "well, she already went, but what the hey, this is good, at least she's making the connection, even if it's after she's already gone."

However - she surprised us all and POOPED on the potty today! I'm not going to apologize for talking about poop here, because if you remember, this is exactly the subject I discussed in my very first entry on this blog. I talk about poop. Consider yourself warned (after the fact - heh - maybe The Bug gets her timing from me). We had a big ole party in the bathroom and The Bug was thrilled that all three of the rest of us were so excited for her. She beamed and dutifully went to the sink to have her hands washed.

As if that weren't enough, Sweet Pea mentioned to me a few minutes later that one of her teeth hurt. I looked, and yep, she's got her first loose tooth! I had to laugh at myself because I'm SO ready for The Bug to potty train that I couldn't have been happier about her recent successes on the potty, yet mere minutes later when Sweet Pea discovered her first loose tooth I thought, "wait! I'm not ready for this! She's growing up too fast!" My brain fast-forwarded to her turning into a pre-teen, getting attitude, not wanting so many hugs and snuggles - and besides that, I thought I had another year to make a special tooth receptacle for her to keep her teeth in for the tooth fairy! Well, maybe that's something we can do together this week.

Now Sweet Pea is walking around holding a little stacking cup under her mouth in case the tooth just falls out by itself. ha ha ha!

Well, there's the news! (There's more, but that's the big stuff.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe

Okay, technically this is only a half-wheat recipe. Except that all run-of-the-mill (literally, I think) flour is wheat unless specifically otherwise stated, so it's a half *whole* wheat recipe. By which I mean, there are two cups of flour in it, and only one of them is whole wheat flour. Still, YUM, and half of the flour being whole wheat has to get you *some* points on the health scale, I should think. I suppose you could always put two cups of whole wheat flour in, but I think the texture would be very different in the finished loaf.

Anyway... I shall stop philosophizing about flour now, and give you the recipe. I would give credit if I could, but this is a photocopied page (shh, don't tell the publishers of the original book!) in a binder of family recipes Mom put together for each of us several Christmases ago. The bottom of the page says, "Quick Breads," page 82.

Oh wait, one more thing. Karen, if you canuks (did I spell that right?) measure your ingredients metrically and talk about your cooking temperatures in Celsius, here's a pretty cool automatic online conversion site that I hope will help.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread (see previous post for photo)

1/2 cup (1/4lb.) butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 medium sized bananas (1 cup mashed - trust me, measure it. Too much = bad news)
1 cup regular all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup hot water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (see note at end)

Melt butter and blend with sugar. Mix in beaten eggs and mashed bananas, blending until smooth. Sift all-purpose flour again with salt and soda. Stir in whole wheat flour. Add dry ingredients alternately with hot water. Stir in chopped nut meats. Turn into greased, 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Bake in a moderately slow oven (325 degrees) for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Makes 1 loaf.

Violet's notes: Sweet Pea is currently in a boring-food stage so we're making this bread without nuts. HOWEVER - when I'm choosing, I usually substitute chopped up dried fruit for the nuts. If I'm feeling bad, I substitute chocolate chips instead.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ground Control to Major Tomcat

Catstronauts! (By Sweet Pea, of course.) Click on the pic to see it larger & notice the driver up front. ha ha! The little bump at the bottom of the picture is the Earth.
Wednesday's after-breakfast project: Whole Wheat Banana Bread. Sweet Pea & The Bug each made a loaf. I find that making each girl responsible for her own loaf not only eliminates fighting over who will pour in the flour, smash the bananas, etc. etc., it also gives the girls each a very satisfied feeling because she can see the result of HER work, plus - we get two loaves of banana bread! YUM! :oD

Again, click on the picture to see it larger. Sweet Pea has been counting out loud to 150 and higher for months, and now she's getting better at learning what the two-digit numbers look like and how to write them. She sometimes still transposes digits (notice how she wrote 20, 30 and 40) but over all she's doing really well with this. On the subject of recognizing two-digit numbers; I was really really impressed with Sweet Pea's comprehension when we went to see the eye doctor a couple weeks ago. She read out all the numbers in the "bubble book" - the one they use to test for color blindness. I could tell she was just figuring some of them out in her mind as she read them. At first she said, "I'm not sure what the number is, but I can see it." Then she said, tentatively, "twenty...nine?" and she was right. So it was a breeze for her to read the rest of the double digit numbers out loud. It was so neat to watch her figure it out.

The girls were very gleeful about wearing their new nearly-matching Fall outfits today. I thought they looked so cute I wanted to take some pictures before they got their dresses all dirty. None of the posed ones with them standing next to each other came out very well, but this is more their style anyway. ha ha! The grass you see in this picture is pretty much our entire front yard. Needless to say, we play more in the back.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you have a great weekend!
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Monday, September 15, 2008


Sweet Pea is training The Bug to have a critical eye. The Bug is catching on quickly.

Lois hasn't allowed Clark to be this close to her for two years - normally she hisses if he so much as walks into the room she's occupying. The good will only lasted about half a day.
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Friday, September 05, 2008

Loving School / Seeing Red (and Green)

Sweet Pea's second week of school was only three days long. Monday was a holiday and Friday all four of us spent the afternoon at the optometrist's getting our eyes checked. Here's more of Sweet Pea's art. All these pictures were drawn at school.

As you can see, this is "Ball Cat." 'Cause that's what she wrote at the top. And it's got a ball on its tail. What looks like "OOF" after "Ball Cat" is supposed to be 100, which she says is the number of balls that the cat has. The circles lining the top of the picture are lights, and I'm not totally certain but I think her border around the cat was inspired by the Tinker Toys she played with last weekend at the grandparents' house.

This is Sweet Pea's new signature on her pictures. She draws it on the back of the paper from the main picture, and it is, as you can see, a very happy cat. In its paws it holds a stuffed animal cat. hee hee!

On Thursday Sweet Pea started an after school activity: A "book club" that one of her teachers runs. It is for kids ages 3.5 - 6 and is held after school one day per week for 9 weeks. In each session the teacher reads a book to the kids and then they do multiple activities based on the story which use most, if not all, of the five senses. Last week's book was called "The Little Band." After listening to the story the kids made flower crowns (so yeah, those are flower petals, it's not a jester's hat) - they all looked different - very cute - and then they got to play with musical instruments and they formed their own band and did a little parade in the hallway outside the classroom. ha ha! Sometimes after reading a story they will cook something together, paint, etc. etc. - depends on what the story is about.

I offered Sweet Pea the opportunity to join the book club toward the end of last school year but she wasn't up for it. This year, however, she is so much more at ease at school that she was all over it (her teacher being the book club person helps too; she probably still wouldn't do it this year if it were run by a teacher she didn't know) and REALLY enjoyed the first session. She can't wait for next week's book club experience.
This picture blew me away. It is a cat in space (thus the bubble around the head). You can see the stars outside the interestingly shaped space ship, but what I thought was really cool was the food. Each food envelope says "cat" on it, because, you know, it's cat food, of course. The left-most envelope is a drink and has a drop of liquid coming out into the zero G interior of the space ship. The three purple circles on the right are drops which have already been squeezed out by the catstronaut and which will necessarily be consumed in midair. This is the kind of thing that lets me know what sticks in Sweet Pea's brain. Months ago we watched and rewatched footage of the first HD broadcast the astronauts did from the space station. They did the "bubble" of liquid trick, showed us how far astronaut food has come from the early days of freeze-dried everything (they had fresh fajitas!), and showed us around most of the space station. Apparently all of that made a big impact on Sweet Pea. I really love seeing stuff like this come out of her brain, and the creatively cute and funny ways she integrates cats into *everything.* ha ha ha!

As for our trip to the optometrist: We decided to get The Bug's eyes checked this year because we didn't get Sweet Pea's eyes checked until they were crossing, and after that experience we figured it would be smarter to start earlier with the wee one just to be sure we catch any changes like that before they become such a big problem. (How was that for a run-on sentence?) Last year the eye doctor told us they can check kids' eyes as young as 6 months old!

The Bug went first, sitting on my lap. She did GREAT. The eye exam took longer and was more involved than I expected for a two year old, but I think the optometrist may have just kept going with her because he *could* because she was being so cooperative. He did comment on how easy it was to do her exam because she was so interested and put her chin where he told her and held still, etc. She is very slightly far sighted but nothing like Sweet Pea and doesn't have any vision problems at all - checks out 20/20. For kids as young as her they have a picture chart rather than a letter chart, and she got every one of them with no problem, even on the smallest line.

Sweet Pea went next. Her eyes are doing very well since she got her glasses last year. She still needs them (last year the doc said she may grow out of this far sightedness that was causing her significant problems until she got the glasses) and will be getting a slightly stronger prescription this year, but the doctor said her vision hasn't changed significantly. The optometrist and nurses (? techs? I don't know what they're called) all felt that Sweet Pea really needed an entire new set of glasses so that she can use her current ones as a backup pair in case something happens to the newer ones (I actually worried a little all last year about her not having a backup pair, since she really needs them to see well) and they tried to no avail to talk her into choosing a different pair of frames. I knew they wouldn't get anywhere with her but I let them try. But last night she said, "Mom, can I keep my frames, even if I need new lenses?" So the outcome was that she will get new frames identical to her current ones, with new lenses. So if she breaks or loses her new glasses, she'll still have her current ones as backup, which look exactly the same. ha ha!

My vision has changed very slightly from last year. The doc said I could choose whether or not I wanted new lenses because the difference is so small. I chose to get them, because I could see the difference quite clearly, and our insurance covers new lenses for me this year. Yay!

Slipshod had the most interesting experience at the eye doctor's today. His vision is still nearly 20/20 and he doesn't need glasses, which is great. But when they show him the "bubble book," as I call it, the one that checks for color blindness, he can't see the numbers in the circles. However, if you talk to him about colors you can tell that he is not red/green colorblind. He can see most of the colors, but every now and then he says something that stops me in my tracks because the color he is seeing is VERY different from what I'm seeing. But it hardly ever happens.

Anyway - he said to the doctor, "since I'm here, is there any way you can test to figure out what kind of color blindness I have?" They had already done the bubble book and our eye doctor is colorblind (yes, really) so they were laughing together about it being a "book of lies."

So the doctor gave Slipshod a box and sixteen cap-shaped chips which were black with a different color in the middle of each. One cap was fixed in a box and Slipshod was supposed to choose the next color that looked the most like the fixed color and continue from there, sorting in order as it made sense to his eyes. After the test they put a lid on the box, turned it over, took off the bottom of the box, and then they could see the numbers inside each cap/chip. And Slipshod had sorted the colors perfectly. According to that particular test, he is not colorblind. BUT he can't see the numbers in the bubble tests. Our optometrist said he's never seen someone pass the cap test without being able to see the numbers in the bubbles.
--Insert Twilight Zone music here...-- ha ha!

So it was good that we all got our annual eye checkup, but Sweet Pea was really bummed to miss school. Which is something I love to hear. :o)
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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Great Party!

Okay, not really. Clark got beat up again last Friday. I didn't notice that anything was wrong when he came back into the house in the afternoon. It wasn't until nearly 6pm that I noticed he was walking slowly and low to the ground with his tail between his legs and was trying to hide in my closet. When I tried to pick him up he yelled like it hurt, so I packed him into the cat carrier, located & printed directions to an emergency vet, and then Slipshod had to take him as soon as he got home because I needed to feed the girls and get them to bed.

So, the diagnosis was that yes, he was beat up - mildly, actually. They shaved the poor guy (so undignified!) in four places so they could see the bites and scratches and clean them up, and obviously he's now been sporting a reverse lampshade collar since Friday night. He's on antibiotics twice per day for six more days... it is not fun to give him his medicine so I can't wait until that part of his care is over with. When Slipshod got him to the emergency vet, Clark also had a mild fever that they thought was coming on due to infection from the bites.

After we moved here and decided (months later) to let our cats outside (they were inside-only for the first two years of their lives) Clark stayed out one night - we couldn't find him - and the next morning he was out back looking like he felt horrible. He could barely walk, was shaky, didn't want to eat or drink, and all those lovely things. We took him to the vet and the result was like what just happened but it had been longer since he lost the fight so he was worse off - his temperature was 105.

SO, now that this has happened twice, and both of our cats have been coming home with scratches on their heads for the past few weeks, we've decided to make them inside only cats again. Lois is PISSED OFF. Clark is still kinda depressed and recovering, though, so he's often upstairs when we open the doors, which is a relief. Lois is trying to make a break for it and outright demanding to be let out.

This afternoon the girls and I will be taking Clark to our regular vet for a post-emergency-vet-visit checkup. I really hope they let us take the stupid collar off him.
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