Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baby Bug-gy

Saturday was a fantastic day. We started off with Daddy getting up super early to wait in line at Toys R Us to get some collectible Lego figures. Because waiting for 4 hours to get an iPhone on Thursday was SO much fun! He was there at 6:30. He was the ONLY one there until 8:30. Store opened at 9am. 5 or 6 other people showed up, but 2 of them were there for the new Hot Wheels. Ah well. At least he woke me up early for no reason.
Little Z and I got up 'early' (8:30) to go to the 10am showing of Toy Story 3 for the once monthly 'Sensory Friendly' showing at AMC. The Autism Society of America and AMC teamed up to have a special monthly showing at select theaters of a current-run children's film, which they call 'Sensory Friendly Films.' Last month it was Shrek 4. Even though Z doesn't have a sensory processing disorder, I like taking her to these showings because its a great environment for toddlers to get the theater experience, without ruining the show for everyone else.
  • They keep the lights at trailer level, so it isn't so dark and scary. (Last summer, Z was scared of the pitch-black theater for Regal's $1 summer movies, and spent most of her time running around in the lighted emergency exit hallway.) 
  • They lower the sound, so your chairs aren't vibrating, and your ears aren't hurting whenever a character shouts, or whatever.
  • The 'Silence is Golden' rule isn't enforced, so when Z announces to the whole theater that "Daddy eated alla his poptorn," I'm not completely mortified. The down side, of course, is that OTHER people's kids are talking (or moaning uncontrollably,) but Z doesn't seemed bothered by it, and we go in expecting it.
  • And last but not least: You can bring your own (gluten- and casein-free) snacks. They don't check what you bring, so really you could bring regular snacks, but to support them, I bring healthy snacks for her, and buy popcorn and Icees for me :)
It was great. Although I did not appreciate the punching/fighting in the opening cartoon short, Z seemed to find it amusing, and did not immediately jump up and start punching us, like the kids did when I first saw Disney's Beauty and the Beast's Gaston in the bar scene at the theater. I loved to hear my baby laugh during the movie. I love her sense of humor. And I love any screen-time where she reacts at all to the show. Often she just stares zombie-like at the screen. About 3/4ths of the way through, she crawled onto me, and spent the rest of the movie shifting around in my lap, but making me hold her so that she could still see. I preferred Shrek, where she danced around on the floor around the same time in the movie, then climbed onto DADDY.

After the show, we were staring aimlessly around, deciding whether to go home or eat at Kent Station, when we noticed the Farmer's Market that happens every Saturday during the summer. So we took our free-refilled large Icees and popcorn back to the car, loaded Z in the stroller, and headed toward the market. Then, while waiting at the light to cross the street, Z squawked for her sunglasses, which were in the car. Ughhhhh. So Daddy went back while Z and I stopped at a flower merchant on the corner. Z loves flowers, so I told her she could look with her eyes, but not with her hands. I found some discarded blossoms and petals on the ground and gathered them up for her to touch. She was so reverent, and clearly enjoyed the flowers so much, that the flower lady made her a bouquet for free (which was good, as I had no cash on me.)

We meandered down the streets, and Daddy found a grass-fed/free-range butcher booth, and got some $10/lb Rib-Eyes (which were apparently mighty tasty, for only a few dollars more than the cruddy ones we've been getting. I'm not a meat connoisseur, so I'm a lousy judge of good versus bad meat. It all has nasty chunks of gristle and fat that I hate.) We got some cherries ($4/lb,) and a bundle of asparagus ($2, which we had with the steaks on Sunday night. It was the first time I didn't hate asparagus. Normally it has a bitter dirt taste to me.) I got a $2 fancy cupcake (meh. It was okay,) and they kindly sliced it for me so I could share with the princess. 
For lunch, they got a kosher hot dog from a salsa dog stand (specialty: cream cheese bun w/dog and salsa) and I was heading back to get pizza from a booth we had passed. On our way, we noticed that the music we had been faintly hearing in the background was actually part of an International Festival happening at the little park that the farmer's market street ran past. So we snagged a table, and I went for Thai food instead. After eating, Z ran around and danced to the music on a grassy knoll, then refused to fall asleep on the drive home.

After an attempt at nap, we went outside while Daddy did yardwork. I had just recently found a little bug box thing at the Dollar Tree, so when I found a creepy bug on a leaf, we put it inside so maybe it would get less squished than her earlier attempts at befriending nature. Then we found a pillbug, and while dancing on the porch and defying gravity and sanity, she did her balance beam walk on the porch railing, she found 3 more of the little creepy bugs. They all went into the box.

Then she got distracted helping Daddy rake the lawn, and we set them free. In return, she demanded a green plum from our plum tree, which I had denied her earlier, as I hadn't wanted her trying to eat it. Daddy is such a sucker. In fact, I found the first creepy bug on the plum tree. I'm not a bug person, but I don't want to train her to hate or fear the things that scare me, so I encourage her to interact respectfully, but I'm not touching bugs for her. I don't know if I love her enough. Maybe if there was a black widow on her, I would brush it off. Probably. But I was unable to grab the front door handle to pull it open the other day because there was a big brown bug above it. I thought it was a huge-mongous spider at first, but when I called Unka See-see and made him come out and let us in, he brushed it off the handle and it was some creepy angular beetle. *Shudder*

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Cheese Stands Alone

Yesterday was one of those days where doing nothing feels like a fun and fulfilling day! I mean that in a good way. I decided not to do any of the activities on offer with my moms clubs, and we just lounged around the house. Normally on my 'rest' days, I sit at the computer Facebooking and doing emails and such, and Little Z stares like a zombie at her 'shows' on Daddy's computer. Well, in all honesty, we did some of that too. But we also had quality play time together.

We opened the day with me showing her the Dora The Explorer application I put on my 'new' iPhone (my husband's old one - see previous post.) That ate up a bunch of time, until she got too frustrated with it. It's really meant for slightly older kids, and we just did the touch-to-color portion of the app. So then I showed her the Itsy Bitsy Spider app, by Duck Duck Moose, who did the Wheels On The Bus app she loves so much on my husband's phone. It just plays the song in the background while you sift through pages where touching/sliding certain objects makes them move. It's a great tool for teaching her how the touch-screen works. She tends to hold the phone with her thumb over the Menu button, so I frequently hear a wail of "I NEEDA ITTABITTA PIE-DAH GAYM!" from the bedroom, where she's still playing with the phone!
So I show her ONE TIME how to turn the phone on, slide the touch-button to unlock, and slide the app icon pages until she sees her 'spider square.' Not long after, when I went in to change her diaper amidst protests, she snaked the turned-off phone from me, and had it turned on and unlocked before I had grabbed a diaper out of the basket at the foot of the bed! She has mastered the on and unlock features! She still gets stumped if she doesn't see the icon, but I moved her apps to the front page for easy access. She has little sausage fingers, and lack of fine motor skills, so she often jabs at the wrong icon and is typing up text messages before she realizes her game isn't on, but I taught her to press the menu button ONE TIME ONLY until she saw the page with the spider game. She could do it all by herself by lunchtime.

When it was time for my shower, I set her up in front of Dora, with a bowl of Cheerios mixed with organic fruity-O's of some kind (Cascade Farms, I believe.) I confiscated the iPhone due to a lack of desire to get milk on it. Then we played for a while in the living room before I realized we had hit nap time and hadn't had any lunch! Since I was in a hurry, she had a hot dog (she doesn't like them cooked, since she hates waiting, but I read that even though they are pre-cooked, there's still a chance they have listeria, so I nuked it for 30 seconds first.) I cut it up into little chunks, even though she doesn't need me to. I know hot dogs are a choking hazard, but she's been very good about taking small bites and chewing thoroughly. From 13-months-old she's had no problems eating dogs, and I never leave her with one unsupervised. But in this case, I didn't have any cheese except for string cheese and the last little bit of 'cheese of 1000 hands' which is what I call the cheese we used in my cooking class where the kids got to grate it for their quesadillas. It's kinda grubby. I saved it for cooked-food purposes only. So I thought it might be cute to slice up the string cheese and hot dog into little bits. Add a blob of ketchup (she loves 'dip,' and it cools down the food enough she's not screaming that it's too hot when it's really only luke-warm.) She ate it all and asked for seconds! And she ate at least 2/3rds of that too! I had some leftover tuna/mayo mix on Saltines (and her discards.)

After nap, we played in the living room with a new toy I had ordered over a month ago from Totsy.com (a discounted daily-deal site.) It was an Alex Toys' Moody Monsters 3-game-set. We played with the Memory game and the Mix N Match game. I tried to get her to find the matching faces, but she would pair them up using toddler logic. "Dis wun sad, needs his mommy! Happy wun! There! He wit his mommy nao!" And she just liked building long snaking many-armed-and-feeted monsters with the mix n match parts! And then started adding on shapes-shaped play foods (like a rectangle 'chocolate bar.')

Then we touched-up her pedicure by adding new colors and painting them on the parts of the nail that the previous color had washed off of. She loved her 'rainbow nails' and I loved that the polish was non-toxic!

On a trip outside to get the mail, Z decided she wanted to play in the little pebble patch next to our driveway. We found a ginormous ant - big enough she could pick it up in her pincer grasp! She loved it. It was dropped and retrieved several times, and, quite frankly, I'm amazed it survived intact! When I finally made her set it free (it needed to go home to it's mommy) she cried and said she missed it.

As some roving missionaries took advantage of my inability to escape inside with my kid fast enough, Z decided to bring out her tub of chalk, which we keep in an old kitty litter bucket on the porch (to prevent having to go inside and look for her outdoor stuff each time she wants to do something. We just keep her chalk and bubble stuff in there.) While drawing her 'fire breath' masterpiece (from DragonTales - they all breathe fire,) she saw a teeeeny tiny ant walking across the poor attempt at a Cassie face that she had me draw. (A Dragon Tales character.) She picked it up (and by 'picked,' I mean 'squished) and proceeded to show it around and talk about how much she loved it and would take good care of it.When I suggested that she may have squished it, I was informed that she had not. When she decided to set him free to go home to his mommy, she decided he was, in fact, squished. "Dis wun too skishy. I needa FESH WUN!"

For dinner we had toasted cheese sandwiches. Since she kept reaching for where the sharp knife was cutting the cheese, I set her up with her child-safe knife (really it's just a pumpkin carving knife, but works for sawing and hacking away at softer foods) and the 'cheese of 1000 hands' to cut on 'her' cutting board. She had great fun. She even helped to slice her sandwich, and enjoyed her crookedy bits.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Rainforest Blasé; I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for iPhone!

Sorry for the radio silence! I had a lot of fun stuff to type about but never enough time to do it!
For Monday we had plans to do a tour at the Rainforest Cafe! I had been looking forward to this for over a month! My one worry was that we'd be late (which wouldn't have been a problem, as it turns out.) Well, Little Z took care of THAT! She woke up at 5:30 that morning and wouldn't go back to sleep. I HATE getting up early. Oh well. At least we weren't late! The tour wasn't until 10:10, so by then she'd been up so long, she was ready for a nap, which she started on the drive to the Mall! She slept through being removed from the car. She slept through being hauled into the mall. She slept through at least 15 minutes of standing around waiting, and being told that bringing my stroller in wouldn't be a problem. She slept through being schlepped back to the car to get stroller. She woke up when I unlocked the wrong side of the car and said "Oh, nuts!" I hear a tiny, sleepy, "Nuts." So I was able to set her down to wrassle the stroller out of the car and get it set up. Hooray.

The tour had finally started when we got back, with the guy talking about the animatronic animals out front, with too many graphic references, in my opinion. ("If you didn't have skin, all your blood and guts would fall out!" when talking about crocodile's skin.) Little Z was still dazed from just waking up, and was not interested in the man's 'story.' I got her excited about the animal figures, and the crocodile 'robot.' She liked the huge elephant head concierge desk, and gave it a hug. She liked the jumbo snake hanging from the ceiling, wriggling and opening and closing its jaws. She was more interested in the gift shop toys than the fish tanks, so we lagged behind for a bit. When I got her to finally move to where the rest of the group had gone, she wanted to see the fountain with a big gold statue in it. I decided to stop fighting it and just do what she wanted, since the tour guy hadn't impressed me with his blood-talk ("Maple syrup is like trees' blood. That makes us like tree vampires!") and references to jokes and stories over their heads.

She decided to be scared of the animatronics and statues after that, since I had mentioned to another mom how someone else's son had been scared of the crocodile. She likes to be scared of stuff that other people are scared of. She's like an anthropologist, trying to 'experience' a native culture. She's like that with her pacifier too, which she never liked, and only just recently found since we were packing them away. She's seen how it's used, but doesn't understand the mechanics. She doesn't suck on them. She just stands there with it in her mouth, looking around. Sometimes it's upside-down, sometimes sideways. She holds it in with her teeth. It makes her look like a kid pathetically trying to fit in with the rest of the crowd but not being able to pull it off.
Since she was "too scared" to look at the gorillas or elephants, I sat down with some of the other moms at a table and waited for the tour to end.

The food was served soon after. The one in charge of booking this event for us had the brilliant idea for us moms to order our food at the beginning of the tour, so it was all ready when the kids' food came out! The kids were served hamburgers, fries, dinosaur chicken nuggets and pizza, family-style. I could have saved $25 (*GASP* I hadn't looked at the price when I was glancing quickly at the menu since my online menu pre-pick wasn't available at this location) and just eaten the kids' food. There was PLENTY! Don't get me wrong. My coconut shrimp, shrimp scampi and filet mignon (with mashed potatoes and veggies) were tasty, but I did not need to spend that much on a lunch! PLUS $7 for hers. Luckily my server kept trying to bring me water instead of the Sprite I had ordered, so I only got charged for a water (even though I drank the Sprite!)
My leftovers were a pleasant surprise to Unka See-see (who lives downstairs,) who was just beginning to get peckish and thinking about lunch when we got home.

Each of us was given a coupon for 15% off in the gift shop for that day, plus a free kids meal and drink on a future visit! So Little Z got to pick out 8 little animal character 'action figures' ($1.99 each or 8/$10, so already 'saving' $6, plus another 15% off = 8/$8.50!) Her favorite was the one I almost didn't buy out of the 9 available to choose from. It was their little tree frog mascot in safari gear with binoculars in one hand, and the other hand curved to fit around it if you brought both hands up to his eyes.

After lunch, we wheeled off to the Godiva store. I had joined their Rewards Club last month, which gets you a free chocolate every month. One from the case, not just the daily freebie sample they offer anybody. And if you spend $10 in a single transaction, you get a bonus the following month. Currently, you get 2 MORE free chocolates, for a total of 3 the following month! So I got myself a 'cone' of dark-chocolate covered strawberries for $9 (much better deal than the singles for $5/7/9 depending on size. I got 4 decent-sized berries) and 2 of their foil-wrapped $27/lb loose candies - enough to hit the $10 for next month's bonus! Since I hadn't spent $10 last month (she didn't have any strawberries made up, and I didn't want to schlepp back down there after lunch. I was beat!) I only got 1 free chocolate. Since Little Z was happy with her pink-foil-wrapped loose truffle ('Choklik ball') I got to choose one for myself this time! (Last time they had truffles on mini cones, like ice cream, and Z HAD to have one!) I decided to be wild and crazy, and tried the pistachio truffle, rather than my usual dark-chocolate caramel chew. It was pretty tasty.

Little Z fell asleep for her 2nd nap on the way home. When she woke up, I left her with Unka See-see and earned $25 doing a secret shop, which I promptly spent at Claire's Boutique on 10/$10 clearance items!

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday with a friend who needed us. I was in such a hurry to get everything packed for our overnight stay that I forgot to feed us breakfast on Tuesday, so we stopped at McD's. I had an old sour cream cup (washed) that I keep in the car, which is perfect for holding the dip container, a nugget or 2 and some fries, so she can eat in the car without all the mess. Because I discovered, after driving away, that I had not received the Ranch dip, and she was asking for "kepotch dip" which I had deflected with promises of 'white dip,' I made them go into the lobby and fill one of their little ketchup cups with ketchup for me, so she got both!

Wednesday evening, I lost track of time, and we raced back to try and get to her first Little Gym class of the semester at 6pm. Daddy was still trapped on the bus in downtown Seattle that he had caught there an hour before, so we were on our own. Since I had to stop for gas, we were almost 20 minutes late, instead of just 10. Some day I'll make it in time to learn the other kids' names! Amidst protests of "I don't WANNA go Niddo Jhim!" I dragged her inside, stripped off shoes and socks, and had to peel her off the door so I could get it open to let us into class! It was worth it! They had the climbing wall out, which we've only ever seen once before, when she was far too uncoordinated and short to use it successfully. She climbed it all by herself! And tried to pitch off the other side as well!
After Gym, we met Daddy and Unka See-see at a great Japanese buffet restaurant in Federal Way (Main's.) They love it because the food is good, and I love it because my child eats so many strange thing there. She loves the roe off of the sushi rolls. She loves the deep fried whole "shimps" (I call them 'crunchy shrimp' because of the sound it makes when she eats the legs and tail.) She likes the Salt-and-Pepper Squid. Edamame "beansh". Tempura zucchini. Spring rolls. She'll eat crab legs too, if Daddy shells the meat for her. She eats almost as much as I do, which makes paying for my meal less of a waste of money! She'll try most anything there, and loves having her own 'dip' dish. (For soy sauce.)

Today (Thursday) was new-iPhone-release-day, so Daddy stayed home from work. He gave Little Z "Chokkit Puffsh" (Cocoa Puffs) for breakfast, without a sneaky 'healthy' cereal base like I do (Corn Flakes, Cheerios or Rice Krispies.) Then, by the time I was ready, in the car, halfway there, noticing I didn't have my ID on me, which we'd need since the cellular account is in my name, turning around and getting it, then getting to the mall, it was around noon. There was a loooooong line of people who had reserved one. And if you reserved one and didn't pick it up today, you lost your reservation.

So we got in line. I stood there with Z while Daddy did a pre-emptive potty run, then Z and I went to the kiddie play area. We got waylaid by an escalator (she likes going on them) and at the top was a Claire's boutique, so I went in to check out their clearance section. This location didn't have the 10/$10, just 50-70% off, so we just got a baby Snow White doll in a beach themed outfit for $4.50. Then she clutched it on our way back down the escalator and to the play area, where I opened it and let her fight with other toddlers who wanted to touch it. The Southcenter play area is kind of lame, in my opinion, except for the activities along the wall (a 'rainmaker' wheel that makes the little balls inside rattle around like rain as you turn the wheel) and an animal sounds electronic button one. After another fight at the rainmaker wheel "NoOoOO It's MY toourn!" and getting shoved a little, she was ready for lunch. We went back to Daddy, since he wasn't answering his phone to get his lunch order, and trekked up to the food court.

Since I had mentioned that she liked the clam strips at Ivar's for the brief 5 seconds that she wanted Daddy to go to lunch with her, she started clamoring [pun unintended, but left in anyway] for 'clam shimps.' I had her clarify whether she wanted clam or shrimp, and she chose shrimp. Ugh. I've learned from past lunches that a clam and chips Kids Meal is enough for the 2 of us, but I didn't want shrimp. Luckily, they had some 'Ultimate Feast' or something with a fish strip and clam and shrimp. Hooray. Little Z ate fry after fry after fry until I threatened to take them away unless she ate a shrimp too, so she happily gobbled down a shrimp, then more fries. I ate the fish and clams. When she was done, there were shrimp left over, so we saved them for Daddy. For lunch, he had said, "Just get me a few pretzels and I should be fine" so I fished around in my pocket for my Auntie Anne's Pretzels coupon stash, and found one for a free pretzel dog with purchase of a pretzel and drink. So I got a dog for him, a pretzel for them to share, and a pretzel for me. There was very little sharing. I had thought she was full, but she packed away another 2 shrimp while Daddy was eating them, and 3/4ths of the pretzel!

The Apple Store had free fruit juice popsicles, Mrs. Field's cookies, water and mini Jamba Juice cups they were wheeling along the lines throughout the day, so Z found room in her hollow leg for those as well. By the time we finally got his iPhone, we had been in that stupid line for over 4 hours. She fell asleep just before the end, and stayed asleep through her Daddy-to-carseat transfer. Nuts. Another late nap. (Leads to another late night!) Holy crap! It's 3am! I need some sleep! Maybe there will be some fun cooking or craft ideas to talk about soon!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

I was expecting an early version of the 'Terrible Twos' at around 18 months, as the books and magazine articles warned, so I was unprepared at 16 months when someone turned on her b!tch switch. Realistically, her 'terrible' mode is probably closer to most kids' 'normal' mode, but I wasn't used to it, so it was probably still as frustrating. Since I got used to it, we've been in a nice groove, with me using my 'Fast Food Rule' and 'Caveman talk' as advised by Dr. Karp in "Happiest Toddler On the Block." My sister may argue that its a waste of time, but it works on HER kid too, whenever I'm there. Based on developmental books and articles I've read, I was under the impression that the last 6 months out of each age-year are the worst parts. So I was looking forward to a nice 6 months, now that she's 2. But apparently she hasn't read these books. She's jumped right into her 2 1/2 'NO' phase.

"Are you hungry? Would you like some popcorn?"
I need some poptorn."

With her talking toys, she's super polite about it. She has a Leapfrog plush toy named My Pal Violet that we call Purple Puppy.
"My favorite animal is a zebra! Is that YOUR favorite too?"
"No, purple puppy. Dassnot my favrit"
"I like chicken nuggets! Do YOU?"
"No, purple puppy. I no nyk dem."
"Would you like to play a game?"
"No. Sorry purple puppy."
"Can you show me a happy face?"
"No sorry, I tan't."

All week long I've had a plethora of fun activities to choose between from my myriad moms groups. (More than I've listed, even. These are just the ones that most interested me.)

Monday Fun Plans: Kelsey Creek Farm or a park in Maple Valley 
ACTUAL Monday: Parks cancelled due to rain and my inability to get us both ready in time. I needed supplies for my cooking class the next day, so I decided we'd go shopping.
"Do you want to go to the store with me?"
"No. I no wantoo."
"Do you want to stay here with Unka See-see while I go to the store?"
"No. You no wantoo go to store."
"I need to go to the store. You can come with me or stay here."
"I come with you."

[At store] "Okay, do you want to ride in the cart or walk near me?"
"No. Holdjoo."
"I can't carry you and push the cart. You need to sit here in the cart or here in the basket or walk."
"You want to carry me please."
(Ugh. Fine.) [Carry to produce section.]
"I need to ride inna tart!"

Tuesday Fun Plans: My Toddler/Preschooler Cooking class.
ACTUAL Tuesday:
"Okay! Kids are coming over today! Let's get dressed to cook guacamole and play with the other kids!"
"I no WANNA took kakamoley! No kids! I dohn wanna play!"
"Okay. You don't have to cook or play. But I need to be in the kitchen with the kids to help them. You can play in your room or in the living room. Do you want to put any toys away that you don't want to share?"
"Do you want me to put your babies in my bedroom so the other kids can't play with them?"
"No. Mine."
"Right. They are YOUR babies. Do you want to share them with the other kids?"
"No kids. Share."
"... Okay. How nice that you want to share your babies. Let's get dressed."
[Diaper wrassling, outfit-choosing samba and Cocoa Puffs with Cheerios for breakfast. Kids arrive. Someone touches one of her babies.]
"Little D is playing with that right now. You can ask him for a turn, or you can wait until he is done to have a turn."
"NO! (weeping, whining, sniveling, sniffling) I need it my baby Dora... [2-3 minutes later]
Maybe I ask... Peash can I have it my baby Dora?" [Little D hands it over without a fuss.]
[Wash, rinse, repeat with each baby-doll-related item. You can read my previous post for more details on not wanting to 'took' the 'kakamoley' or 'kiss-ideass.']

As it was our 14th first date/5th wedding anniversary, we may have gone out to dinner somewhere, but I honestly can't recall. We did our big dinner-and-a-movie on Sunday.

Wednesday Fun Plans: Several park options, a secret shop, meet Daddy at work at 3:30 so he could take her while I got paid $75 to be in a focus group. Little Gym at 6. MOMS board meeting at 7.
ACTUAL Wednesday: Parks cancelled due to rain and lack of gumption on my part. Devastating phone call ate up the rest of my pre-nap time. Secret shop postponed to Thursday. Packed leftover butterfly and flower turkey and cheese plus berry medley as a snack and headed to Daddy's work for a nap-in-the-car ride.
"Let's go meet Daddy at work!"
"Do you want to go see Daddy?"
"No Daddy."
"...Do you want to stay here with Unka Sees.... nuts. He's off playing Dungeons and Dragons today. Time to get in the car! Do you want to walk or do you want me to carry you?"
"Carry me."
Dumped her off, went to focus group. It was interesting. Paid in cash! Ka-CHINGGG! Made it just in time for the last 10-15 minutes of her Little Gym's end-of-year 'Big Show.' MOMS board meeting for dinner (medium decaf white chocolate mocha. Forgot to order a pastry.)

Thursday Fun Plans: Bouncy Place or Pizza Playdate (we did pizza.) Then afternoon play with Unka See-see while I went out to do a secret shop. My cousin's High School graduation at 6:30.
ACTUAL Thursday: Read previous post
"Okay. I'm going to the sample store! Do you want to come with me?"
"Okay. You stay here with Unka See-see. Here's some water. Here's a snack. Here's the *Horse and Dinosaur flashlight movie! [Toy Story 2] See you soon! Have fun!"
[Do secret shop. Nosh on many samples. Buy olive oil. Return home. COMPLETELY forget cousin's graduation until about 15 minutes after it started. Doh!]

* Recently I was at Toys R Us and decided to find a kid-friendly flashlight, since she loves Daddy's Mag-light, but for her its basically a head trauma waiting to happen! We found a dollar store flashlight, which she loves, but if you shake it it turns off. Sometimes you have to unscrew it all and re-assemble it to get it to work again. And it has a glass faceplate, so not really kid-safe. The ones I found at first looked like smaller, more expensive, Disney-Princess-covered versions of the same, so I asked for help and they showed me some Toy Story 3 flashlights in the shapes of the Pig, Slinky dog, Dinosaur [Rex] and the Horse [Bullseye] characters. When you push the button under the tail, the mouth opens, light goes on, and fun character sound effects. Since I wasn't going to drag all 4 over to where she was zooming around on a scooter, I picked the dino and horse as the most likely to be favored. It took her about 15 minutes to decide on the Horsey one. About a week later, she started begging and crying for the dinosaur flashlight, only we didn't understand her words, or her context for ages. And I'm not shelling out for another one!

Friday Fun Plans: Father's Day craft or Park Play, but probably just slob around all day since Daddy will be out of town for the weekend. 
ACTUAL Friday: Forgot *I* had to take Daddy to airport. Got up early. Nyah. Skipped both mommy club options after and went to Rite Aid to pick up my prescriptions and a free mouse pad with her picture on it from the photo department. (One of the blogs I get emails from told me about a code to get it free, and free shipping if you pick up in-store!)
"Let's go to the prescription store!"
"No. I don wantoo."
"Well, I can't leave you in the car, and we didn't bring shoes, so I can carry you, or you can ride in the cart."
"No cart. Carry you." [She reverts back to saying 'you' when she means 'me' frequently when she's upset or tired.]
[At photo department to pick up mouse pad.]
Lady: "Here, let me open this so you can make sure it's right before you take it."
"No, it was free, so you don't have too... [too late. It's opened.]"
"IT'S ZJHEE! ITSA PITCHUR ZJHEE! That's for me. I need it for my dolls. Friend for Abby." (Abby Cadabby doll she brought inside with her.)
Cooing/singing: "Heeeeere Abby. Mat for yooooou. Take to bed witjooooo"
.... Okay. Daddy's out of town for Father's Day, so what do I care.

Saturday Fun Plans: Maple Valley Fire Department open house.
ACTUAL Saturday: 
"Okay! Time to get dressed! Do you want to go to the fire house today and see firemen?" [Brace for fight]
"YESH! I want fire house!"
...Okaaay. Let's change your diaper and get an outfit on to wear to see the fire trucks!"
"No diaper! Wear THIS OUTFIT! Gee-go Mah-nuhs!" (Giggle Monsters - a Carter's PJ set.)
[Oh phew. It's still my kid. Compromised with pajama top and regular pants. Relatively little fight over getting in the car, other than wanting to play with sidewalk chalk first.]
It was a pretty cool event. They gave her a goodie bag with a coloring book and crayons, and an activity checklist you could turn in for a prize after completed.
"Do you want to meet a fireman?"
"... Can you give him a high five?"
"No. I tan't."
"... Can you wave hello?"
"No. I TAN'T"
Fireman: "Here, let me initial your sheet..."
[Roaring] "NO! WAAAAH! IT'S MINE!"
Fireman: "Would you like a sticker?"
"N-..." [Nods head.]
"Oooh do you want to go sit in the fire truck?"
"Okay. You can stay in the stroller and we can look around. Ooh they're going to cut open a car. Let's watch them. Do you want a donut?" 
"No donut."
[Describing of tools, situation, explaining actions, all interesting to her until they finally get the doors off.]
"Are you hungry? Would you like a hot dog? A hamburger?"
"Hot. Dock."
[She ate two, and rejected offer of a cookie. We went into a little fire alarm house all scaled to little kids where they showed fire hazards and talked about good and bad fires, then had smoke, and alarm and a hot door so we had to climb down the ladder.]
"Okay! We need to climb down the ladder. That fireman withe the mustache is going to help you and I'll climb down too."
[She's good until she's low enough I won't be able to help her anymore and the fireman starts to grab her.]
[We go back inside and down the stairs and out the side door. Meet police, get card stamped, stand in line FOREVER to get use the fire hose. Stave off whining and nagging pleas for an ICEE (sno-cone.) Start fireman obstacle course. Get kicked off so Medevac Helicopter can land (a fun treat for the event, not an emergency.) Get sand-blasted in the face when it flies past us to land. Finally give in to ICEE requests. Get it in time to still watch helicopter land from within the firetruck garage through the windows on the closed doors. Make one last attempt to finish off our activity card.] 

"Do you want to sit in the fire truck?"
(Nom nom nom slurp.) "No."
"Are you sure? See? That girl is driving it! How fun!"
"No wantoo."
"Fine. Hi! Can we get our thing stamped? She's done." [Nice fireman stamps remaining 2 activities. We go to prize booth.]
"Do you want to turn this in for a prize?"
(Slurp. Nom nom.) "No. Mine."
"Tough. Do you want to spin the wheel? Like this?" [Spin wheel to show her.]
Lady at booth: "Yellow! You get a bracelet!"
(In my head: "Are you shitting me serious? You're not gonna let her do it? Whatever. Don't care. Outta here.")
"Ooo! A bracelet! You are so lucky!"
"Open it!"
"Do you want to wear it?"
(Nom nom slurp) "No."
"Hey. Are you cold? ["No." Shivering] I'm going to put this blanket on you. ["NO!" Blue lips] I won't cover your hands. You can still eat your ICEE."
[Back at car] "Your hands are freezing. Can I rub them or warm them up for you?"
"Are you done with your ICEE? You want to throw it out?"
"NO! Waaah!"
"Okay, okay! I'm not taking it, I'm just asking. Can I put it in a cup for you? Here. Let me dump out your water and put it in your Dora cup. Now you can drink it." 
"Waaah! Need STRAW!"
"But you won't be able to suck the ice through... fine. Are you hungry? Would you like to get some fries to warm you up?"
"No. No fries."
[Head home.]
"You want me to put some of my soda in it?"
"I can put in a little soda to help melt the ice so you can drink it."
"SODA! SODA! WAAAH! [Slurp slurp slorp] WAAAH! ALL DAWN AGAIN!"
(In my head: "It's okay. Breathe. She's tired. It's naptime. We're almost home.")
"Look! Llamas! Do you see them?"
[Repeat with cow, only she insists its an elephant, since she can only see its butt. "BYE-EE EH-NEH-FAN!"]
The only other 'Yes' today was when I asked if she wanted to watch Unka See-see cook dinner. She LOVES to watch him cook, and he's good about letting her 'help.'

I just hooked up my blog so I can link to Amazon, so you can see some of the stuff I talk about. If you like it, and happen to buy it through my link, I get a teeny tiny commission, which is a nice bonus for me, but don't let that be a factor! Once I figure out how to add pictures and links that aren't big long addresses, I'll be able to use visuals to help you see what I'm talking about! So far, this was the best I could do.
[6/29/10 - I've learned how to add pictures, so I've gone back through and added some!]


NO! NO! NO!.... GIMME!

Yesterday one of my moms groups had a Pizza Playdate, where the kids (and mommies) got to make their own mini pizzas. I was looking forward to this very much, as Z loves to 'took' (cook) and has enjoyed the pizza-making tour at Flying Pie Pizzeria all 3 times we've gone. So I made sure we were going to get up and out the door in time.
"Okay! Let's get dressed! We're going to go make pizza!"
"I no wanna make pat-zuh!"
"Okay you can stay in the car with me when we get there then."
[Madcap chase through the house, capture and torture diaper-change of prisoner.]
"What outfit do you want to wear? This pink one or that orange one?"
"This one." [No hand or finger gestures to indicate which one]
"This pink one?"
"No! THAT outfit!"
"That orange one?"
[Several repeats before Mommy realizes she means the pajamas that she's wearing.]
"Oh. You want to wear your pajamas?"
".... Okay. Let's get some fresh pants to go with your pajama shirt then."
"Fresh pants! I. Need. Fresh. Pants."
"Okay, all good. Let's get in the car."
"I need to pa-ay!" (play)
"We'll play with the kids making pizza."
"I no wanna make pat-zuh!"
"We'll just go in and say hello then. You don't have to have any pizza."
"No say hello!"
"Okay. You don't have to say hello. You don't have to make pizza. You don't have to have any fun at all. I won't make you."
[Arrive at front door of Pizza Playdate house.]
"I need to go inside! I need to make pat-zuh! Ooo! Nookit! Toy-eez!"

The hostess had made homemade dough. It was crazy delicious! She also had a varied topping assortment available. Wasted on the pickiest eater on the planet. [Me, not Little Z. She'll eat most anything.] Z opted for olive oil in lieu of sauce, a mound of cheese (she chose mozzarella over colby-jack, which surprised me,) and olives. Lots and lots of olives. I finally had to take the bowl out of her reach in case anyone else wanted some. Hers was so tasty (I got the crusts) that I made my own with oil instead of sauce, and I tried a tomato slice on top. YUMMMMMMM-Y!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Whack-A-'Munk, Paint-aminophen

For her 2nd birthday recently, I registered at Amazon for a Whack-A-Mole board game by Mattel. She saw it at Target one time and I had to hold her up to the shelf to use their demo version until my arms fell off. I promised her we would put it on her birthday list. Now, I know she's 2 and wouldn't remember 5 minutes later, and would never know if I had actually put it on her list, but why start deceiving her on the little stuff, when there's loads of bigger issues that will come up where my lies would be better served. I even saw it later at Toys R Us on clearance for around $5! I was about to snap it up when I realized - I don't want this stupid thing in my home. Why would I do this to myself?

Well, Gramma Barp to the rescue! She won't let my baby down! She knows SHE won't be on the receiving end of Z's newly-created 'Whack-A-Mommy' game. SHE won't be the one kissing scratches after an aborted attempt at 'Whack-A-Kitty.' And SHE won't be the one without any working AA batteries in the house the day Z wants to open it, and can only find some questionably used ones that turn out not to work and make the game go 'Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh' endlessly in an annoying, loud, high-pitched mole-y voice. (Supposed to say 'Heeeere Moley moley moley!') The day after her party she demanded that the box be opened (I'm SO glad she was too overwhelmed with dollies at her party, since toddlers with bats is not my idea of a good time!) Much 'Its BROKEN! Lights broken mommy! Waaah!' ensues. I bust into my 'emergency' battery stash (removed from my neglected, dust-covered 'personal massager' in a drawer so unused that my pile of worldly goods cluttering the floor had to be cleared to even get it open.) That's right. I put skeevy batteries in my baby's toy! I'm THAT kind of mom!

So, now that it works, she takes out some toddler aggression on it. Periodically she rediscovers it and obnoxiousness ensues! Well, today, she gathers all of her Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 Happy Meal toys from her room and dumps them in my lap. They have annoying little chipmunk voices, and when you press their 'hair' they chirp some little saying from the movie. My little smart-ass stands them on her Whack-A-Mole board and uses her Whack-A-Mole bat to whack them. I'm ashamed to say this was a proud, proud Mommy moment for me. Until she remembered her old stand-by, Whack-A-Mommy.

When hitting me no longer paid off (I took her bat,) she climbed in my lap and grabbed the Infant Tylenol I had by my monitor from the recall when I went online to get a refund. Now we have a firm rule that medicine is NOT a toy, and don't let her handle the bottles in a casual manner, whether or not they are child-resistant. But as I opened my mouth, I realized that I was going to dump it down the sink anyway, she could have the empty bottle to give medicine to her dollies. Now, my husband and I disagree on this point, but I win, since he's not here. He argues that giving her a bottle to play with will reinforce her belief that medicine IS a toy. I argue that I emphasize that her empty BOTTLES are toys and NOT medicine anymore, but that she can pretend they have medicine for her dollies. We also decorate them, and I tell her we do this so we will know that they AREN'T medicine. She hasn't seemed any more confused than she is about the dolly's bottles and pacifiers.

So I invite her to help me wash out the bottle, which she enjoys. She paints and splatters the bathroom sink with lavender sludge. She uses the squirt dropper and shakes the bottle around (it has a drip-resist thing in the bottle neck, which makes pouring it out harder, but if you shake it sideways, its slings it out in a nice little arc across the sink.) She was very good about not reaching in to the sink to get any on her fingers. I didn't even have to tell her not to. I told her that this medicine had gone bad and was not good anymore so we were throwing it away. After her little APAP Pollock project, we got out her sticker collection and she chose Abby Cadabby stickers to decorate the bottle for her dollies. Big Pooh got a dose of his 'tummy meh-nen' then off to watch some Disney Sing-Along Pooh before crashing asleep in her chair 5 seconds after rejecting my suggestion that we go lie down for her nap. Nuts. I forgot to feed her lunch.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Berry Good Day

Today was not one of my crowning mommy moments in the meals department, but I was not an abysmal failure either. For breakfast, Little Z had Cocoa Puffs with Rice Krispies. (The Cocoa Puffs were on sale at Winco, and they have a free Shrek squirt toy inside, and Z recognized Shrek from the 'Gingerbread Man movie,' and I was worn down from the 3 other Shrek-covered cereals I had already turned down.) She wanted a cookie for breakfast, so we compromised. She also had blue-rasp-blackberries mixed, but mostly just blackberries. I had rejected blue-raspberries, with one lone blackberry she overlooked.

I had planned on going to Costco for lunch, but a disturbing phone call ate up all my pre-nap time, so we had hummus with assorted veggies, and she had strawberries and turkey flowers and butterflies, while I had multi-grain flatbread. Since I had planned on either a slightly earlier nap (foiled) or a nap-on-the-go on my way to drop her off with Daddy at work, I hastily threw together a snack for later. Cheese and turkey flowers and butterflies, and mixed berries. Those suckers get fuzzy pretty fast, so we have to snark them down pronto! A few of the blackberries were getting fuzzy the day I bought them, so I tossed the rest of them in the mix (after segregating the fuzzy ones for disposal.)

Since we were now eating into nap time, Princess Stall-tactics decided she needed to have some blackberries RIGHT NOW please and scarpered off to the computer room with them. After dropping them, demanding 'fresh ones' and refusing to consider washing them, she ate the secretly rinsed ones, and asked for more. Meanwhile, I was scrabbling around the house remembering various things I had promised to bring along to meet up with people later, since I wouldn't be coming home again until late. Finally we got Z, random items, 'Pacifier Baby' (her current doll du jour,) and Mommy into the car and on the road, where it took 3.2 seconds for Z to conk out. Hooray.

The reason we were meeting Daddy at work is that I had been offered $75 to be in a focus group, and the only time slots were 4, 6 or 8pm. Well, Z's end-of-year "Big Show" was that night at her 6pm Little Gym class, and my first MOMS club board meeting was at 7, so 4 was the only time I could make it. But I couldn't bring her with me. Well, for $75 to go into her savings account, Daddy could leave work a little early, right? Unfortunately, it meant I would most likely be late to Little Gym, since my panel lasted until 5:30, and I had at LEAST a 30 minute drive, if magically everyone disappeared from the freeway. They did not. I got there 15 minutes before it ended. But she was pleased to see me, so that was nice. Then I abandoned her to Daddy again, to meet up with my MOMS, which, conveniently, was on the way home from gym! Rumor has it she got a Costco hot dog, which had been my original lunch plan, so I'm glad my plan failed.

My dinner was... I think I had a Fiber One chocolate chip bar (YUM! Loads of fiber too!) before leaving the house at 1:30ish.... and some water at the discussion group.... and a medium (I can't be bothered with the fancy names they give 'em) decaf white chocolate mocha at the Starbucks my MOMS meet at for board meetings. All my food groups met, right there!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Project Lunch: Misión Imposible

Kiddie cooking class.... SUCCESS! And by success, I mean it's over! Little Z started off cranky and only got worse as she saw more and more kids playing with her toys. She wanted me to hold her the whole time. She was so upset she had a hard time finding words, which made her fussier, since I didn't know what she wanted, and many times could not accommodate. ("No, honey. We can't go outside right now. We need to cook with the kids." "I don't WANNA TOOK! NO KAKAMOLEY! No Kiss-ideas!")

I had fun, even though I didn't really have a plan, and the kids had so much fun playing with Z's toys and the ball pit. (We got an inflatable pool and 3 bags of ball pit balls from Toys R Us, and tossed in all her beach balls and random other lightweight balls.) Since I was hoping it would be popular, and I knew 6-8 kids was probably the most I could cram into my kitchen (including my own kiddo,) I decided to do sessions in 2 different time slots. I decided on 10am and 12pm, so that hopefully we could get Z down for her 1pm nap only a LITTLE late! :) Everyone was so nice. In my first group, one of the MOMS had read my Facebook post about forgetting to get juice and she brought some for me! Thanks NT! I was very nervous, as this was the first time anyone but RB had seen the inside of my house, and I was ashamed at the crustiness when she had visited last to drop off a surprise dinner on the day of my minor surgery. I am better at yardwork than housework... and I'm not really one for dirt and bugs and wild animals!

So. My first group had 7 kidlets, including mine, ages 2 to... 5? Maybe 6. (Not counting the infants.) 2 of them decided they'd rather play than cook. One showed his mom and Grandma (who came too) that maybe cooking is something he might like to try more of. He was the only one who stayed for the whole enchilada, as it were! NT's 2 kids, the oldest of the guacamole participants, liked making the guac and quesadillas, but then lost interest during the actual cooking process. Little D was a trooper, and waited for his quesadilla, and enjoyed dipping it in ketchup 'salsa.' Mine was a clingy, whiny, bawling monster. Oh well. I will gladly take a cranky day or two for all the wonderful, can-take-her-to-restaurants days I've had thus far! 1 of the 2 who weren't interested in guacamole came back for the cheese grating. I can't remember if anyone but the 2 Little D's ate any of their quesadillas though.

Round 2 began arriving, and Z was no closer to being happy about sharing her doll stroller, 'Sleeping Dora' doll or anything else, so I tossed her downstairs with Uncle See-See in the TV room. Ahhh. This crowd was all ages 3-6, with only 1 very old 2-year-old, so there was much more participation. Luckily, they were mostly able to do it all themselves, so we could cram all 7 of them into the kitchen. The first group didn't know they weren't supposed to like avocados yet, so they all tried it, but this group was more set in their picky preschooler ways! We cajoled both dissenters by asking them to be like real chefs and make it for someone else, like mommy or daddy. By the end, only 1 person didn't like her guacamole, and she hadn't even been one of the ones to refuse to make it! These kids had a blast grating the cheese, and since they were older and better able to do it on their own, it took a hundred times longer. I was dissappointed with the quesadillas, as they weren't browning or crisping on the edges, and was warned I would have to watch them closely for just a few minutes. They were safe being totally forgotten. Turns out I was supposed to set BOTH dials on 'Broil.' Doh! I was on 250 degrees and Broil. Ah well. At least no one had 'blackened-style' queso!
While I'm sure it was annoying for the moms to have their kids crying and whining that they didn't want to leave, I was pleased that at least my TOYS were fun, if nothing else! And no one found a mystery pile left by a kitty!

I WAAAAYYY overestimated the amount of food to have for the moms, and snacks for the kiddos. I have loads of berries left over (I had 2lbs sliced strawberries, and roughly 6oz each of blue-rasp-blackberries. Plus the 30 more ounces I had as extras that never even went out on the table!) No one touched the hummus trio or dipping bread. They did eat all the sweet potato chips I had in the bowl, but no one refilled from the bag next to it. I didn't leave out my meat or cheese flowers and butterflies for the first group, but the 2nd group ate all the ones I put out, still leaving me with loads. I'm glad I splurged on the blue tortilla chips. They were a novelty and a big hit with the kids. I didn't end up putting out the salsa, and I may have been the only one picking at the veggie tray. Well. I know what WE'LL be eating the next few days!

I need to find a recipe for cooking up the rest of this kiddie-chef-fingered cheese block too! (Or "Cheese of 1000 hands.")


Today I am hosting a toddler/preschooler cooking class for my MOMS group. I'm terrified. More terrified than the day I was snack mom at preschool. [Maybe I'll post that story sometime!] These ladies have such nice, pristine houses. Everywhere I look I see some kitty grit or hair clumps, or mystery crunchies we missed. (In my house... not theirs!) I'm intimidated by them all... I feel like an impostor. Not through anything THEY do, it's just how I've always felt around adults. I'm older than many of these mommies, and I feel like I'm a kid going incognito amongst them. I know they're all going to be super nice and positive, and only note my crusty housekeeping politely behind my back, but I'm still terrified... I feel like I'm in elementary school again. What if the other kids don't LIKE me?

The plan is to make guacamole and cheese melted on tortillas. Quesadillas? I got sliced olives and turkey chili with beans to add on if they want. I made guacamole with Little Z recently and she enjoyed it, and will now eat avocados. I've read, and discovered to be true so far, that kids are more likely to try new foods if they help choose them at the store (either a 'Go find something interesting you'd like to try in the produce section' or 'We're getting kiwifruit. Help me find a good one') and/or if they help prepare the food. So I decided it might be fun to do toddler cooking classes this summer. Since my house is only ever halfway decent once a year, for my daughter's birthday party, I scheduled this class to be within the 'still clean-ish' zone. I had planned on no-cook only items, to do in a park, but decided this one we could try in my crusty kitchen. Plus, while the weather here is nice for April, it's supposed to be June, and most of the outdoor events this month have been cancelled due to rain!

Last night I got thick-cut turkey (not disgustingly thick, just double the deli's normal thickness - setting '2' she called it) and used a flower and butterfly cookie cutter to make shapes. I also sliced some cheese and did the same. I got a hummus variety tray, some whole-grain Flat-Out thing to dip in it, a veggie tray, sliced some strawberries, bought blackberries and raspberries (under $2 per 6oz container at Winco!! The best price I've seen them at before is 2/$5!) and we have some blueberries from a few days ago. I don't think I made enough cheese shapes though, but I wanted to keep a big chunk of the block for easier handling to grate it for the quesadillas. I forgot the crackers, but luckily I still had a box of Pepperidge Farm assortment crackers that were never opened for Z's birthday, plus more Ritz's than I remembered. I DID remember the tortillas for the quesadillas and chips for the guacamole (and the avocados!) so at least my head was halfway screwed on yesterday. I forgot the apple juice though. I remember picking it up off the shelf, comparing labels and sugar contents, checking prices per ounce, choosing the Langer's smaller bottle (cheaper per ounce than the store brand AND a larger size!) but apparently never put in the cart! Doh!

I should be tidying up or worrying that I didn't cut enough cheese flowers or something, but my brain is too terrified to focus anymore. Oops. Princess woke up. Show time!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Run, run, as fast as you can... Where the F is her stupid Gingerbread Man?!

As my toddler gets older and more useful, we've embarked on more crafting and food adventures. I read a blog by a woman who makes bento box lunches and cuts her kids' food into cute shapes, which appealed immensely to me. So I decided to give it a shot. The only mini cookie cutters I had on hand were a mini Christmas-themed set by Wilton. It was May. So I chose the gingerbread man, figuring it could be a little person, and the Xmas tree. I cut her colby-jack cheese into slices and then punched out little shapes. I saved the 'scraps' for myself. I also had a sandwich cutter I had bought randomly at the grocery store, that makes 2 little lizardy-dino shapes. So we had 'Dino sandwiches,' 'Cheese trees and people,' crackers and apple wedges when we ventured to a new park to meet with a new mommy group.

The 'men cheese' were a big hit (in hindsight, I should have named them 'cheese people' from the beginning, rather than letting her make a name for them.) They were such a big hit, in fact, that the trees were sorted out and discarded into the grass before I noticed and made her stop so *I* could eat them. She also loved the 'puzzle cheese' as the scraps were called. Other toddlers were interested, but she wasn't sharing!
Emboldened by this cheese men success, I had my husband get thick sliced turkey from the grocery deli and more cheese (with crackers) for our preschool end-of-year potluck. Since Z rejected the trees, I only made men this time. Unfortunately, my husband wasn't really looking when the deli lady asked if her slice was thick enough, so he said to double it. So the turkey he brought home was around 1/2-inch thick. Gross. It was like punching through turkey Jell-O. Some of them I was able to slice crosswise after shaping, but it was creepy. But the turkey and cheese men were big hits with the toddlers! Every kid wanted some! The mini-bagels and my little men were the most popular non-dessert item with the kids!

Since I had to make enough for around 18 kids plus parents, I had baggies full of scraps. My sister was having a party that weekend and told me to bring them, as she could make sandwiches or something with them. Her 3-year-old doesn't eat much. A flake of cereal for breakfast, some grains of rice for lunch... I'm exaggerating, but not by much. But my leftover cheese men and 'puzzle cheese' was such a big hit with her, I left the whole bag behind. She had a little baggie I kept refilling with puzzle cheese for her to carry around and munch. She requested puzzle cheese for days, and kept reminding her parents that 'Aunt Kenner' had left puzzle cheese special just for her.

In fact, Little Z was so pleased with her Gingerbread Man cheese, that when she saw the Shrek 4 toys at McDonalds, she went bonkers for the Gingy toy. "I needa Jinjabret Mann Toh-yee!" I told her I didn't know which toy they had, we'd have to ask the lady at the counter. "Lady! I needa Jinjabret Mann!" Luckily, it was the one they had. That night, there was a frantic search for her gingerbread man toy, and we almost made a late-night Happy Meal run to get a replacement. With a last-minute save as I found him in my jacket pocket when I was looking for my keys, we were able to get a back-up the next day, after to seeing Shrek 4 in the theater (Or, Gingerbread Man Movie, as she called it.) The Elmo Christmas Countdown DVD has a skit in it where Prairie Dawn yells 'Ginnnnngerbread Maaaaannnnnn!' in her high pitched voice several times throughout. We've quoted that a lot since she's gone on this Gingy kick.

Having had such fun with my Xmas cutter, and prompted by a 'Buy 3, Get 1 Free' sale on select kitchen products at Amazon, I spent my birthday gift card, plus another $50 on more cookie cutters. Easter. Easter mini. Barnyard Animals. Mini vehicles. Mini leaves. Dinosaurs. Graduated gingerbread men. Graduated hearts. Graduated Flowers. Sea animals. (Plus some silicone muffin pans in flower and heart shapes.) Oh, the joy.