Thursday, December 30, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday - Byoo-duh-fuh Nunch For Baby!

The other night, as I was loading her baby dolls and accessories into the new (used) Cinderella toy chest Unka Kee-ile and Auntie Nizzie gave her for Kimmens, she decided she had to play with one of her babies right now. She chose "brown baby" (her name for it, not mine. I just call them all "baby." The others are "pacifier baby" who came with a pacifier tied on; "bottle baby" who came with a bottle tied to the wrist, although now I think she calls it "feeding baby" since it makes sucking sounds when you use the bottle it came with. There's a "pink baby" too, with a pink body/outfit (they ALL came with pink clothes!) but that may be Tually's. Oh, no wait. They each have a "pink baby." Slightly different ones though.)

Brown Baby is the second baby doll I ever got for her, and it was on super clearance at Target for $3! (First baby doll was Pink Baby. Then Brown Baby, Pacifier Baby and Feeding Baby.) She came with a hat, cloth diaper, and footie pajamas. When you press her tummy, she cycles through "Mama," "Papa," giggling and crying. When we first got her, Little Z would burst into tears whenever the baby made the crying sound, after I told her that the baby was crying because she was sad. Oops. I was just trying to teach vocabulary and emotion identification! I told her that feeding the baby made her happy again, but it didn't work. So we had to turn Brown Baby off for a while.

The reason behind the name, I'm ashamed to say, is because of the doll's skin color. This doll was intended to be Hispanic (hence the "Papa" instead of the more standard "Dada.") I don't care about what race/color her toys are, and it was super cheap, so I bought it. I have *never* called the doll 'brown.' I *have* shown her that her skin is a different color from that doll's (and any other toy with different coloring,) in an attempt to teach diversity acceptance in a safe setting where I won't offend anyone by pointing out their differences! But I also point out that *my* coloring is different from hers (I have brown hair and eyes, she has blond hair and blue eyes) and I talk about how everyone is different and looks different and can do different things, and everyone is special. I've started playing "I Spy" games with her when we eat out, as a way to get her to see differences without saying "look at the kid in the wheelchair." I'll say something like "I spy someone with brown hair" or "I spy someone with a hat." "I spy something that rolls." "I spy someone wearing purple" etc.


She finds the feeding spoon I got for her with a set of baby doll crap accessories and decides she must feed Brown Baby. Since I refuse to open the dolly sippy cup of old stale Goldfish crackers that was in with her baby stuff, she gets out the muffin tin from the Melissa and Doug Cupcake Decorating set and starts putting cupcake liners in each cup.
When I ask her what she's doing, she says she's making a "byoo-duh-fuh nunch" for her baby. Awwwwwwww! Too cute! A Muffin Tin Meal just like Mommy makes!
She puts a wooden cupcake in one liner, the cuppie with stale goldfish in another, and starts spooning out imaginary food to feed the baby from an empty cup.

Her very first Muffin Tin Meal!
FYI: Preemie clothes fit great on the littler baby dolls, and you can often find them super cheap on clearance racks, thrift stores or consignment stores! Cheaper than buying doll clothes! I like to shop Carter's outlet store's clearance racks, but sometime Fred Meyers has some too. Many other brands, like Osh Kosh B'Gosh, Children's Place and Gymboree don't make Preemie sizes. Gerber probably does. Babies R Us might carry some, but I've never seen any on the clearance racks. Newborn size (not 0-3 months. NB specifically) fits medium to larger baby dolls okay too. Brown Baby is wearing a NB-sized outfit I got for $.50 at a garage sale. Many moms clubs have community garage sales, so search Craigslist for club, group or multi-family garage sales! The moms club ones tend to have a great selection of baby stuff!
I usually have a 20% off $40+ purchase coupon for Carter's, so if I'm buying other stuff, I tack on some clearance Preemie clothes for her dolls. Off a 70% off rack I found a set of 2 onesies and a pants for $3, 3 pairs of Preemie booties for $2, and a 2-pack of PJs for $3. Plus the 20% off! So $6.40 plus tax for it all! Most toy store doll outfits you only get one shirt and pants, or one dress, plus maybe shoes or socks or a hat for that price or more!

**Shameless plug alert!**
If you know a kid totally into her doll, like an American Girl doll, for example, my sister makes awesome custom jewelry for the doll and/or child. She can do bracelets for both, necklaces for both, bracelet/necklace set for either/both, whatever! Personalized, if desired. Check her stuff out! You can contact her directly too!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Santas of Christmas Past

I should have done this before Christmas, but here's a Santa picture from each of Little Z's Christmases thus far!

2008 (6 months) - Lovin' It!

2009 (18 months) - Hmm... Not so sure about this...

2010 (2-1/2) - Can I go now?

WFLW - Bento Enough To Make A (Snow)Man

This week there's no gym class, so I made an at-home bento, just for fun!

Bento Enough To Make A (Snow)Man
Chex Mix enough to make a (Snow)Man, Sandwich Balls enough to make a (Snow)Man;
Cheese enough to make a (Snow)Man, Apples enough to make a (Snow)Man;
Carrots, olives, Ranch and green beans enough to make a (Snow)Man

Veggies Enough To Make a (Snow)Man: [play on a rhyme by Terry Pratchett]
Carrots enough to make a nose,
Branches [green beans] enough to let him hug,
Ranch enough to represent snow,
and coal [olives] for eyes and mouth, you know.

(Plus a pick from a pick/muffin liner set on clearance by Wilton for Target.)

Apples and Cheese Enough To Make a (Snow)Man: I used leftover McD Happy Meal apple slices plus a pick from a Dollar Tree store tic-tac-toe set. I got the rectangular silicone container from a set on eBay (A bunch of different shapes all forming a bento-box-sized oval.)
Monterey Jack cheese cut with my mini snowman cutter by Wilton (from a super deal for a 40-piece set at JoAnn's) and face applied with my red and green Wilton food writers.

Sandwich Enough To Make a (Snow)Man: I made the Sandwich-Man out of sandwich balls. They're really easy to make, but work best with solid fillings, like cheese and meat. I used PB and honey and got a lot of goo oozing out the backs! To make them you cut a circle out of your bread (I used biscuit cutters in 3 sizes to get descending-sized balls.) It may help if you roll your bread circle flat, but it may not. It should help to press the middle flatter before adding filling.

Then place the circle on a larger piece of cling wrap (cheapie sandwich baggies work well too!) on your palm, and slowly close your hand, wrapping the bread around the filling until the edges meet.

Once the sides meet, twist the cling wrap to tighten it into a ball. I had to let air out a few times because I was afraid it would pop, but only at the beginning of each ball. Mine got creases on the sides, but I didn't care enough to try and fix them.

I used a toothpick to hold them all together (but not really required in this case, since the PB oozing out the back stuck them in place fairly well, and we weren't packing this for travel.) Plus a hat cupcake pick from Bake It Pretty on top. I used my red and green food writers for the face.
Added some home-made Chex Mix to fill the compartment. My husband made a batch just for me, with just Corn and Rice Chex, Cheerios and pretzel sticks, since I don't love the nuts or Wheat Chex! What a sweetie!

Snow Princess loved it. She chose my new three-tier bento box (which has smaller containers, but is totally cute.)

She ate almost all the cereal in the mix, but surprisingly, not the pretzels. Those are usually what she picks out to eat!

She bit the top halves off all the snowmen-cheese, ate all the carrots (which was a shocker, since the ones she asked for after her breakfast just got gnawed on and left half-eaten) and olives (not a shocker.) I can't tell if she had any green beans. She opened the sandwich balls and scooped out most of the filling with the hat pick and took a few nibbles of the bread. She ate all the apples. Hooray! She hasn't been eating her apples lately.

Holiday Fun For The Whole Family!

We had a lot of great pre-Christmas activities this month.
Kids Cooking Class Gingerbread cookies - cancelled due to me being lazy lack of attendance and Z having a cold.
Various winter/Christmas crafts, and cookie/gingerbread house decorating playdates (hosted by others) - I bailed at last minute or they were full up before I could RSVP.

12/4/10 - Popsicle Stick Frame ornament craft and impromptu party at Grammelena's house.

12/5/10 - Put up (fake) tree.

We keep all the ornaments we no longer care about, and the ones not easily broken, on the lower half of the tree. Last year I kept a box under the tree to toss ornaments into as we found them, but she's better at losing them playing with them this year. Her favorites are the Peek-A-Poohs I had bought in sets on eBay years ago. [Yes, before I had kids. So sue me!] I also had a bunch of Hallmark ornaments I'd buy on clearance after Christmas for super cheap (75% off or better) that I was willing to part with but that don't sell for anything worth my time on eBay, so I let her hang them. If they break, meh. If they don't, I can always donate them another year!
My special fairy ornaments are on the top third of the tree, and I'd let her hold (ie: play) with one if she sat on the potty, which was a huge incentive for her. Plus it prevented her from trying to climb up and get them when I wasn't looking. She knew she could just ask. And it has the added bonus of teaching her to treat delicate stuff with respect, and lets her know that I trust her and have faith in her ability to treat something well. Ultimately she is more important to me than an unbroken ornament, and accidents happen. So if I had some priceless heirloom, I'd just keep it packed away until she was old enough. But I don't.

12/11/10 - Holiday party at a friend's house.

12/14/10 - Light Garden. Totally worth going. We went on a free admission night. A local botanical garden did the whole place up with gorgeous light sculptures and displays. It was just amazing.

12/16/10 - Santa pictures. By myself. Without backup.
It was a tough call. Little Z is very... sensitive around adults, especially strangers. If an adult touches her, she often flips out, even if it's a fairly familiar family member. Even Unka Seesee, who she sees every day, gets her squirming and crying for mommy if he picks her up or tries to interact with her if she didn't initiate the contact.
So my plan for Santa was similar to last year. Go during the day on a weekday, so they wouldn't be busy. Take our sweet time. hanging around the Santa area, waving hello, eating our lunch, etc. Choose a toy from the store (so it wouldn't be Santa bribing her. I do not need to teach her that Mommy thinks it's okay to sit in some dude's lap, even if it makes you uncomfortable, as long as he gives you a toy or candy!) Change her into her fancy duds at the last minute, in case the dress or tights bother her in any way. (They did. But she trusted me when I told her we'd change out as soon as I got my picture.)
And I was sure to let her know that I knew she didn't want to sit by Santa (I'm never going to push for her to sit on his lap!) but that *I* wanted a picture of her with him, just like last year (which I showed her) and that I wanted her to do this for me. (Again, not making it about Santa, or about having to do uncomfortable things for people other than me!)
The down side, of course, was that I was doing it all by myself. She would have been even more uncomfortable had we gone with someone else, and Daddy had to work.
This was better than either of the ones with her on his bench.
No tears this year, which is always my goal, as I see no need to reinforce her feelings
of Santa being traumatizing and scary by making her cry.
Please note the little toy I bribed her with clutched in her paws.

12/17/10 - AM - MOMS Club cookie and picture frame decorating playdate - we arrived waaaaay late, but managed to bang out some cookies and a frame for Nana.

The hostess had the smashingly good idea of cutting disposable cups shorter so each kid could have their own blob of frosting, so there was no cross-contamination from the kids who licked their knives (what kind of thoughtless parents let their kids lick frosting knives at a cookie decorating party? I mean, reallyMy kid would never do such a thing!) 
She also had little Dixie cups for the sprinkles and toppings, so you didn't have just a few kids hogging all the sprinkle jars while the others had to wait.

12/17/10 - afternoon - Gingerbread house decorating with Tually and Pilu at Grammelena's (while Auntie Kayneen cleaned up in preparation for the Christmas morning festivities.)
Pilu actually put a few candies on the house.
The rest went into her gob.
(That's Grammelena sitting waaay in the back)
Other than the occasional help squeezing
(and adding more frosting to reinforce,) she did it all herself!
Tually did most of her house solo too!
The finished product! Just kidding. This one was mine!
Z's house.
12/19/10 - Breakfast (she calls it "Brunch," but if I'm expected to be there by 9am, it's breakfast in my book!) with Gramma Barp and hubby's family (Great Gramma Donna, GGpa Vern, Grandpa Bruce; Auntie Keesee and Kelly with Tody, Ninnie and Taytay; Unka Chris, Auntie Kinzie, Santa Al and family friend Suzanne.)

12/19/10 - Evening - Up all night making Olive Penguins for MOMS Holiday Party.

12/20/10 - MOMS Holiday Party (with Santa Al. Thanks! Love you!) and the never-ending candy cane.

12/23/10 - Craft kits and Dollar Store craft at McDonald's with a play area (hosted by me.) I got an assortment of 6 dozen Christmas/Winter themed craft kits from Oriental Trading Company in the hopes of being able to do them with my mom groups and get reimbursed a little for my costs. After 4 attempts with only 1 yes RSVP total between 2 other groups, I gave up on them and just did it for my MOMS for free.

12/23/10 - later that evening - Frantic last-minute wrapping of all presents. Little Z wrapped her frame for Nana almost all by herself. I folded the paper and tore off tape from the dispenser, but she applied every piece of tape by herself, 'wrote' on the tag(s) and stuck them on herself as well. (Apparently Nana's present needed 3 tags.)

12/24/10 - Christmas Eve at Great-Grandma Donna's (and GGpa Vern's) house.
The big hits of the evening were playing with her cousin Tay, the My Little Pony book and figures (well, really mostly the figures) from Gramma Barp, and the gi-huge-mongus set of Littlest Pet Shop from Auntie Keesee. *I* loved the Betty Crocker food writer set and fancy cake decorating book from Auntie Sha... I mean Uncle Gordy. :) [We do gift exchanges now, where each person gets gifts for one other person, so we don't all go broke buying stuff for every adult. We still get stuff for all the kids.]

12/25/10 - The Big Shebang.
After making my sister (Auntie Kayra) cry and feel guilty for planning on arriving late (noonish) and leaving early (2ish) days earlier when discussing our family Christmas plans, we went and slept in and arrived after noon, while Kayra and family had come earlier, and they were all done opening gifts! D'oh!
But it was almost worth it, since sleeping in made my squirtle extra adorable and gracious. "Oh, THANK you! It's just what I always wanted!" as she hugged her still-wrapped present to her chest.
When we got up, she ran out to the living room, hopped on the couch and looked out the window to look for Santa. Ran right past the dollhouse castle sitting there in front of the tree! She then ran around the castle to grab the wrapped presents under the tree. Nutjob.
At first her favorite was a Learn-to-Dress Emma doll I... I mean Santa had got for her ("It looks just like me!") but that was quickly abandoned at Gramma's house.

Biggest hit at the family get-together was the Unicorn Pillow Pet from Grammelena. The VTech camera from Auntie Kayra and family will be a long-term favorite, and the books, custom necklace and (home-made) Snuggle Sack from Auntie Kayneen and family are already being requested again and again, but that unicorn is dragged around everywhere!
I got my mini Wilton alphabet and number cutters, flowers and butterflies cutter set (which doesn't match the picture, by the way,) a leaf cutter set, and a fun recipe book for kids food from Auntie Kayra.

In the evening we went to Nana's where she got magnetic fruit cut into segments with numbers on them to help with fractions, counting, etc, and Fisher Price Loving Family Mommy/daughter, Daddy/daughter and baby sets for her new dollhouse.

12/26/10 - Finish opening presents. Melissa and Doug Cutting Food box, pretend Cupcake Decorator set, wooden puzzles, RC My Little Pony (which terrifies her and she refuses to play near it,) and her new Smart Trike with removable push-bar. Whew! Then a Boxing Day party with friends who have a little blondie right around Z's age.

12/27/10 - Troll Target for after-holiday clearance! Got a cupcake kit with 6 silicone tree-shaped liners and a brownie kit with 6 present-shaped liners for $5 each. Got a gingerbread cookie sandwich kit with a neat 2-sided tree cutter (cut out the trees on one side, then use the 'handle' to punch 'ornament' holes in the tree that will go on top of the frosting! Fun!) for $2.50. A bunch of fun snowman and gingerbread man paper liners and picks in regular and mini sizes for half off (made by Wilton for Target.) A metal snowman muffin tin (mini cake tin, they call it) for $5 (also by Wilton for Target.) A cookie press (I call them 'spritzers') for $5 (I've been wanting one, but could never justify getting it as I hate spritz cookies, and my mom always got so frustrated making them.) I'm going to try and use it for chilled frosting!

But the best part of the holiday season? An excuse to shop? Nope. (But close!) Oodles of presents? Nope. Seeing family? Nope. Joy in my child's eyes? Nope. It was watching two grown men have a cupcake decorating party while playing with Little Ponies and Pet Shops and 3"-tall dollies in the doll house with a girl one-third their size (closer to one-eighth if you go by weight!) bossing them around. "No. You hold her here. Like this. Now tell me how I feel. [She means for you to have the doll you're holding ask her doll how it feels.] No don't set her down. Hold her in your hand. Hello. Nice to meet you. I don't want to go to the doctor's office. But my mommy says I haff to. Would you like a cupcake? Here. Let me deck-a-rate it. Now comb her hair."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday - The Weakest Link

For this week's Muffin Tin Monday, there was no theme, but I had planned on squeezing in another Christmas themed one. I had hoped to do a Twelve Days of Christmas one, similar to one I saw last week, but was thwarted due to busy holiday preparations and lack of sleep time. So instead you get a boring Muffin Tin Meal I had banged out for breakfast per a special request that day that made us miss going to Chuck E Cheese with the other MOMS.

Ranch, Green Beans, Carrots, Buttered Toast Fingers, Cheese Scraps, Strawberries
Let's see if I can think up weak links to justify this as a holiday theme...
Ranch 'snow drift,' green bean 'pine needles,' 'Reindeer food' carrots, umm... lessee... toast fingers... makes crunchy sounds like walking on snow? Oooh or logs for the fireplace. Okay... cheese... 'icicles'? And red berries are a obvious winter theme, if technically the wrong kind of berry for the season!
And the heart muffin tin because it was clean and I had other plans for my holiday themed ones for love and family!

I made this because she had requested green beans and carrots for breakfast (That's right. You read that correctly.) Since she'd want Ranch to dip, this was an easy way to house it all, and allowed me to sneak in a balanced meal! She ate most of the beans, ate around the toast crusts, most of the cheese, all of the strawberries, and none of the carrots.

Just so you do't go thinking I should be nominated for Mom of the Year because of my child's healthy meals and food choices, she ate the whole thing while surfing YouTube. (Yeah. After I start her on Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, she surfs around watching other versions of it, Chicka Chicka 123 and then some songs to teach English but that I think are great for toddlers too!) She knows how to play the same one again, how to go into and out of full-screen mode, and can click on the picture for another video. One of her favorites she calls 'The angry X show' which is a version of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom that I don't particularly like, but the picture that it shows is a mad-looking letter X. :)
In my defense, I stay in the room with her, just in case she stumbles across something nasty. Plus she's learning hand-eye coordination and valuable mouse skills. :P

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth