Friday, July 30, 2010

The Times Between - Part 2: The Magic Oven

For her 2nd birthday, the Little Princess received many fun items. Dora dolls, baby doll accessories, Littlest Pet Shop choking hazards... I mean toys. Zhu Zhu pet. Clothes. Toy instruments. Whack-a-Mole game (gag.) Child-size cleaning kit (broom, mop, dustpan, etc. Trust me. She loved it.) And a Disney Princess Cool-Bake Magic Oven. Ughhhhh.

I was hesitant to open the box when she spotted it hiding on the kitchen counter a week after her birthday, as I know all the little kiddie baking sets get terrible reviews, and I wanted to be able to return it. But she was clamoring for her "mag-ic ubben" ['mag' like magnet,] so I went online to read the specific reviews. I became more and more determined to return it until I read one review saying to ditch the mixes and just use instant pudding.

3 tbsp milk, 1 tbsp instant pudding mix.

Well. That sounded easy, fun, and much tastier. And you can still decorate with sprinkles and frosting tubes, if desired! So I decided to crack it open. Since I didn't have any instant pudding, and she wanted to use it RIGHT NOW, we started with one of the included mixes. It uses ice to cook, since all the mixes are instant pudding-based, so it's safe even for the little kids who might burn themselves on the Easy Bake bulb. At first I was worried that it required ice cubes the size of the tray it came with, which were really tiny, since a snow-cone maker I got my nephew once only worked with its tiny cubes. Lame. I was prepared to use crushed ice from my freezer's icemaker, but my ice cubes were fine.
Our first attempt at 'cooking' came out terribly, as I didn't know NOT to use the spoon it came with to measure the water (use a real teaspoon. 3tsp = 1 tbsp if you prefer to try it that way.) Since I knew the mix would be nasty, I decided I didn't care how it came out, so I let her fill each spoonful from the tap and pour each one in without my hand steadying hers. She spilled so much water, I just had to wing it, so I think we used too much.

I also wasn't necessarily using the right temperature water. The manufacturer says to use hot water (125 degrees I think.) I just had the sink water turned to 'hot'' since I couldn't be bothered to take the temperature or boil it or whatever.
They also say to only give it 3 or 4 stirs, as it firms up pretty quickly. Well, try telling a toddler to stop with the fun part! Plus she started eating it as she mixed.

So I let her go nuts with it, and when she was done mixing/eating, we poured the rest into a 'pan' to 'cook' it. It needed a little more water, since she hadn't stirred it very well, and we were at the big dry clump in the center.

So I added a random amount of water and we waited for the recommended 15 minutes (it may have been 10. I don't remember anymore.)

She waited.

And waited.

And waited.

It was the longest 15 minutes of her little life. She had her nose to that little oven door the whole time. The 'cake' was still kind of runny after, so I didn't bother making the frosting, and she didn't care anyway. She gobbled it down. All I heard for the next 5 minutes was "MmmMMM! De-nish-ous!" after every spoonful.

So as long as you go into it knowing that the mixes are only tasty to undiscerning palates, and just use it to make instant pudding after the included mixes are used up, it's a worthwhile toy, for the younger crowd. Since then, she also uses it to play pretend. She has 'cooked' plastic corn, some toy spoons, a bracelet and a Littlest Pet Shop pet.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Times Between - Part 1: Funcakes & Lunches

Just a quickie post with some of the fun stuff we did before I started this blog, and some little stuff I missed in between other posts. There's even more in-between stuff, but it's late, so this is all you get.

5/29/10 - I started my journey with fun foods by attempting to make pancakes into shapes by pouring the batter into cookie cutters. Results: mixed. I should have greased the cookie cutters first, since I had a hard time getting it to come out to flip the pancakes over. But Little Z was thrilled and entranced by the idea of it, so I soldiered on. At the time, I had a limited number of metal cutters. A crown, a bee or something, a hippo, plus my mini Christmas ones. So I tried the larger three. Bee - failure. The wings broke off right away. Not that she cared. Down the hatch!
Hippo - turned out okayish. I hadn't thought to take pictures of these, so I have no visuals. But the crown... Well. I poured in too much batter, to start. It filled the entire cutter, up to the top after it puffed up! The lack of greasing made it very hard to get out. And it took forever to cook. While it was finishing, I decided I was done wrestling with the cutters and used a spoon to dribble out batter into crummier shapes. (I couldn't find the turkey baster I had bought for the specific purpose of making pancake shapes easily!) I started with a Mickey Mouse, since that was a favorite from my childhood when my dad would make them. And a paw, that may have been intended as something else originally, but became a paw either through an attempt to fix an error or else random luck.

They turned out well, and I noticed when I flipped it over that the initial blobs darkened differently based on when I placed them, so I got cocky and decided to try an Elmo. Newp. I didn't let the facial feature blobs cook long enough before adding the head. Oh well. The fish I tried was kind of weak too. Oh well.

At this point I was done. The Princess was thrilled, even if I was disappointed by my mediocre results. The crown ended up being around an inch thick, and was very spongy, like a less-sweet cake.
          (Eating Mickey)        (My crowning achievement! Har har.)

6/7/10 - Spent much time prepping for her birthday party the next day. Made a fun lunch with shaped cheese and turkey (and apples.) You can see a cheese bee, using the same cutter as I attempted with my pancakes.

That night, I scrambled to try and finish my custom crayons for the goodie bags. My sister had recently used silicone ice cube trays to make fun crayons using all the broken bits she's been saving, and I thought it would be fun. She neglected to tell me that it effectively ruins the tray. I used a flower-shaped tray for the girls' party favors, and fish for the boys' (I think both were from Ikea.) The flowers turned out well, but the fish were a disaster. Only 1 survivor out of 6 or 7 molds. All the rest broke at the tail. And now my tray is useless. Maybe if I use an oil spray it won't leave colored wax residue all over. Her tips were to keep the oven on low (around 250 degrees.) I forget how long you cook them for.. Maybe 10-15 minutes? But keep a close eye on them. If they cook too much, a layer of paraffin forms on the top. Once removed from the oven, place in an ice bath (I used a rectangular cake pan filled with ice and water.) The down side was all this sloshing around from oven to ice bath, and shifting the cubes around so it would lay flat, splattered wax all over the top. Bleah. What a mess! I tried running hot water over them while scrubbing, but with very little result. I ran them on the bottom drawer of the dishwasher, to be closer to the hot water jets, and got minimal results. Maybe if I wash them a bajillion more times... I didn't get enough crayons to give as party favors, so now I'm stuck with them. Yay.

Some fun random lunches:

7/6/10 - A GoGurt (they were on sale and I had a coupon so I thought we'd try them out. She LOVED the 'green' flavor (watermelon.) Puzzle shaped cheese rejects and scraps from the 4th of July attempt, mixed berries. and I discovered we had no bread when I went to make a sandwich, so I tried a 'sandwich roll-up' for the first time. It was a big hit. I had to make 3 tortillas' worth, since she ate most of the first one as I was cutting them. I think this one was PB and honey, since the honey isn't as bulky and globby as the grape jelly we had in the fridge. This lunch was whipped together because she woke up stupid early, like 5am, and so I had plenty of time to get ready for our 10am MOMS Club meeting. We even had time to walk there, and since I figured I'd be stopping at the park on the way home, I packed a lunch. As it turns out, a bunch of other MOMS came too, so it was a lot of fun. Lunch box is from EasyLunchboxes, which I am enjoying. It comes with 4 boxes and 4 lids for $14 plus shipping (but I went in with another mom to hit the $50 for free shipping,) and they have an insulated bag that fits at least 2 of the boxes at once for $8. 

7/12/10 - Trying an idea I read on Another Lunch's blog's comments, I used my brand new tiny star cutter to punch the seeds out of a cross-sliced apple. This one was cut vertically, but I had better results on a later attempt cutting horizontally (the star wasn't hitting where I had to cut out the stem and whatever the green stuff at the bottom is called.) I also read about using apple juice instead of lemon to reduce browning, if you are planning on saving cut apples for later. (They both have vitamin C, which is the acid that helps prevent browning.)

7/14/10 - Caspar Babypants concert in the park! The lead singer from The Presidents of the United States now does kindie rock." It was an awesome show. It was noon to 1, so we packed a lunch. Apples (from the McD Happy Meal baggie,) more leftover cheese and rejects from 4th of July, and pocket sandwiches , and smaller ones I call sandwich fingers, but Z calls 'sandich stickth', made with my Krustbuster. They were a big hit. I had to make an extra sandwich to bring, since she ate a whole one, one stick at a time, while I was making them.

7/21/10 - Roberto the Magnificent, a comedy/jugging act in the park. I brought more McD apple slices, but did a compartment of peanut butter to dip them in (yum!) broken up raw carrots, and Ranch dip (in a Tupperware Smidget - it has a lid, not shown. They were hostess gifts, and are now discontinued, but I found some on Amazon and at a booth at the Kent Cornucopia Days fair.) A GoGurt (I froze them, and put it into the cooler bag frozen. It's soft by the time we get to it, but on the chance it isn't, frozen yogurt is still yummy!) string cheese and more pocket/stick sandwiches. In the little rectangular box with a green lining around the top (from Citizen Pip,) I have hummus, as an alternate dip for the carrots, and I brought the last of my tortillas from the 6/15 kids cooking class (not shown.)


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Project Lunch: Shaping Up!

On Thursday (7/15/10) I did another toddler/preschooler cooking class for my MOMS club. Only this time, since I didn't want to have to scrub my house again, we did a no-cook event at a nearby park! My original plan with these cooking classes was to have them all be no-cook at parks, since my house is usually such a pig-sty. For my first one, my house was still cleanish from Z's birthday party, so I added quesadillas to the menu, to utilize my available oven. For this one, my plan was sandwiches, cheese and fruit, cut into shapes using the cookie cutters and sandwich punches I have.
Due to my lack of planning and time-management, I was out late the night before shopping at Safeway, rather than my preferred (and MUCH cheaper) store, Winco. I got watermelon, apples, whole wheat and whole wheat white bread, honey, creamy peanut butter (I actually had a whole jar still in the pantry, so used that,) Nutella, and squeezable strawberry and grape jellies. Oh, and Colby Jack cheese and plain cream cheese (if anyone wanted to try cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. No one did.)

I then stayed up extra late playing on Facebook instead of frantically slicing cheese and melon, so I got to get up extra early (on top of getting to bed extra late. Yay.) The melon was difficult, since my largest knife couldn't cut clear through the middle by itself. I had to hack it around as best I could and try not to make too many skinny half-flaps of melon. I was actually surprised at how well it turned out though. Some advice for melon slicing - if you shave off a slab of rind on whichever part of the melon is going to be the 'bottom,' it stays nice and flat for you! I sliced the apples crosswise from side to side (rather than top-to-bottom or into wedges) so that we could use tiny cutters to either punch out the seed 'star' in the middle, or else to punch out little shapes from the 'flesh' of the apple. I got some super cute tiny cutters made by Toysmith -the smallest ones are about as tall as a dime! In the first photo, the tiny shapes in the sandwich are from the star one.

Since apples tend to brown once peeled or sliced, I dipped them in an apple/lemon juice mix. I read somewhere that its the Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) that prevents browning, which is why the McDonald's Happy Meal apples and the pre-sliced ones at the grocery store have that as an ingredient, but they usually use lemon juice. But apple juice has Vitamin C too! And won't make them taste as funny! As a reward for all my hard work, I completely forgot to bring the apples, and they were brown when I checked them the next day. I also forgot to bring plates. Sigh.

Since we were at a park with a playground, the kids played for a while first, but I was surprised at how quickly they came back. The class at my house, they hardly wanted to stop playing in the ball pit! It was slow going at first. Little Z actually made a ducky shape cheese, by herself (I was too busy to help her for the most part) and she made many ducky-shaped lines in her cheese as well! Then she got bored and wandered off. The kids made cheese shapes and either ate them or didn't. They then either ate the scraps, or didn't. I brought my Krustbuster sandwich press to make 'puzzle cheese' sandwiches, since the little bits stay in better with the sides of the bread sealed, but none of the kids were interested. I was worried that they were going to think the whole thing was stupid, and hate me forever. Well, the little geeky kid in me was afraid of that.

So I pushed on to sandwiches, which went a little better. The moms let the kids pick whatever toppings they wanted, so one boy had a honey and jelly sandwich! Most of them chose Nutella. Many of them had never had it before, so I'm glad I brought it. I wanted to introduce a new or unusual food with each class, to get them to taste 'outside the box' as it were. I had wanted to try mangos, since they seemed pretty firm and might be good for making shapes, but I completely forgot when shopping. *I* had never had Nutella before, so it was a first for me too!
There was one little boy who is apparently a very picky eater. He refused to play with the cheese at all, and didn't want to try any spreads to make a sandwich. He did enjoy having his mom use dinosaur cutters and make shapes out of plain bread. He took them home in a baggie! (I think he did end up trying some cheese at the very end.)
One of the moms was pleasantly surprised to discover that her kids could make their own sandwiches! They put the spreads on themselves! She joked that she'd never have to make a sandwich again!
Another mom told me about her son, who had all but refused to even TRY some of the guacamole we had made at out first class last month, is now asking her to buy more avocados! I love it! This is why I wanted to do these classes! Food is MUCH tastier, and they are more willing to try something new if they either got to choose a new ingredient to try, or helped prepare it! (Or grew it in their garden, but that's too much work for me! Maybe next summer I'll do a garden class! Oooo! Good idea!)

The watermelon was a huge hit. During the sandwich portion of our show, many of the kids were eating as they went, so I didn't know if anyone would still have room in their bellies, and some kids were taking longer than others, and since I had forgotten the plates, I didn't want to be pushing sandwiches aside to fit melon on the mats too. Many of the kids had run off to play on the toys after eating their sandwich. Well. It didn't take long for the word on the street to get out about the melon! I had an army of little kids clamoring for watermelon! Even the picky eater had some! (And took a bunch of dino-melons home.... in a baggie!) It held up surprisingly well. The only faulty shape I saw was a hippo whose tummy fell out (a hole in his middle, so his frame was intact) and the girl thought that THAT was great fun! Whew!

I made this next picture extra large so you could see the little "Army of Duckness" this girl had going there! There's a whole bunch of duckiemelons lined up on the left side of the melon rind! (I named this picture "Army of Duckness" when I sent it out to the MOMS who attended before finding out that this girls' mom loves the Bruce Campbell "Evil Dead" movies! ("Army of Darkness" was one.) What a fun coincidence!)

Meanwhile, Little Z whined and cried and begged to be held, and wanted to play on the toys, but wanted me to go with her. She had eaten a little cheese, but was uninterested in a sandwich (I ate the 'puzzle cheese' sandwich pocket I had made to demonstrate it to the kids.) Once most of the kids were done, and the MOMS had gotten the hang of things, I went out to play with my little girl. I had found a jar in my car earlier, when she was whining for water when all I had brought was Capri Suns, and she found a patch of dirt and made mud pies. Hey. That counts as cooking, right?

When all the other kids had left and I was cleaning up, I saw I still had a few small slices of watermelon left, so I asked Z if she wanted any (she did) and I made flower shapes for her (and one hippo.) She would climb up onto the bench, snatch a flowermelon, then scarper off to the grass, sit and eat it, then rinse and repeat. It was hilarious.

Most of the products we used are linked below, except the puzzle Lunch Punch  (bright green cutter in the pictures.) and the Creative Cutters set from Pampered Chef. (I've pre-ordered the VrrrrM! and Sand*Wishes LunchPunch sets, and haven't bought the Critter Cutters set yet from Amazon. *sigh.*) 
The place mats and cutting mats we used were Sesame Street ones I got for $1 at Wal-Mart and Target, generic ones from a Dollar Store near me that's going out of business, and some from red/yellow/green sets of flexible cutting mats for keeping food surfaces separate (red for beef, green for veggies, yellow for chicken, but I use my yellows for cheese!)
If you happen to buy any of the products via these Amazon links, I get a tiny percentage, but don't let that influence whether you buy them! But if you were going to get something anyway, you may as well link from here before buying! :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cupcake Party Day... I Mean "Independence Day" *or* Toddlers With Sticks

I am a crappy friend. I am no good at instigating events to further a relationship. I coast along and wait for someone to invite me to something or make plans. So that's why I only see my good friend Jessica twice a year - for her adults-only Halloween party, and her family friendly 4th of July party. Technically I saw her an extra time the year Little Z was born, at my baby shower, and these last 2 years I've seen her an extra time because she was willing to schlepp the 30+ minute drive down to my house for Z's birthday parties. So 3 times a year, now that I've spawned. Ooo plus that awesome game night she had this year. Anyway. The moral of the story is, she has to feed me in order to maintain my crappy friendshipness. :)

That being said, I drop everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, to go to her parties. Last year I missed a glass-blowing class I REALLY wanted to go to with my MOMS, and a Night With Kevin Smith appearance in Seattle, so that I wouldn't miss her costume party. My nephew's 6th birthday party was going to be combined with a 4th of July BBQ this year, and I had to decline, because I'm not missing Jessica's party! She even lets us bring random strangers and family to her parties! My other sister, my mom, and my brother have all been coming to her 4th party for years now. Her 4th of July party is like the Borg on Star Trek: The Next Generation. "You will all be assimilated." Plus she has a piñata and goodie bags for the kids! And buttercream frosted cupcakes in ice cream cones for me... I mean the kids.

Since I've been doing so well making shapes out of meats and cheeses, and the lady at the deli accidentally cut roughly double the amount requested for the meat I made for Baby Mornan's party, I decided to bring some in fun shapes for the kids. I also wanted to do something with the blueberries and strawberries I had bought at Costco several days before, since they were on their last legs, and we can't ever eat them fast enough. So I took the veggie tray container I had saved from my snacks for the kids cooking class and made a 'Red, White and Blue' tray with sliced strawberries in 3 of the compartments, blueberries in 2, and Monterey Jack cheese (white... like mozarella, I guess) in star shapes in the last 2. It looked awesome, and was completely snarfed down before dessert came out. Yay. Since the stars had been somewhat annoying to make, and we were running late and I still had Colby Jack, turkey and ham to cut, I hunted around for easier shapes. I had just received my puzzle-piece shaped Lunch Punch set, which could cut 4 little puzzle pieces at a time, and I decided to use that to save time, even though the stars were better, thematically.

The Lunch Punch worked... technically. But it was more of a pain in the butt, and I had a 30% casualty rate with bits breaking off, and I was getting frustrated, since each member of my family was calling me at this time to see when I would be picking them up/arriving at the party/etc. I'd have to wipe food off my hands, fish in my pocket for my phone, grumble and clock-watch while I tuned them out, then wash my hands again to cut more food. So my husband took over, bless his heart. We decided to scrap the puzzle pieces and just do stars. He was a champ! I had an ancient (20-30 years old!) tupperware party platter tray with 6 compartments, so we did 2 with cheese, 2 with turkey, 1 with ham (I had less ham for some reason) and 1 for whole wheat Ritz crackers. It looked really good. I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures of my beautiful party trays. There were only a few turkey scraps left over by the end of the party, so it was a popular one too. Yay. I was worried, since they have so much good food that people bring, that no one would want my boring old cheese. But I figured the kids might like it, and they did! The other food was all so fancy, and most of the young ones didn't want stuff like macaroni salad (Z thought it was Mac N Cheese, so she wouldn't even LOOK at anything else) or pickled watermelon salad (crazy good. I loved it.)

A good time was had by all... for about 30 minutes, until Little Z got flattened when she ran in front of someone on the swings. Boot to the face, face in the dirt, dragged along the arc. It took at least a half hour to calm her down and nurse her to sleep, and she was still hiccoughing in her sleep for another half hour. You know... that little gasping/snuffling 'poor me' noise they make after crying. Since she had refused to nap on the drive up, this little nap was all she needed to become her normal, happy, lately whiny self. I decided to carry her back in from the car (where we were napping) while asleep, in case she wanted to wake up in time for the piñata, which she did. It was the first time for her and Tually (my sister Kayneen and Rop and the kids were also there, as was our mom) to get to hit the piñata, which they loved. Tually was so excited I had to drag her back out of the 'arc of danger' several times. (They had spray painted a white line to stay behind, to avoid using a kiddo's head for batting practice, since the younger ones weren't very skilled or accurate with the stick, and the older ones were blind-folded.)
Because a piñata is ultimately a dog-eat-dog scenario, Jessica makes goody bags for all the kids (even the infants!) so that no one goes home empty-handed because they weren't greedy and ruthless enough. But I was amazed at how much loot the little ones were able to snarf up. They even had time to pick and choose, instead of grab-and-go, grab-and-go. One little girl went straight for the middle and left behind a treasure-trove untouched under her skirt for the stragglers. Everyone seemed happy, and it took longer than the 3.7 seconds I was picturing, based on public Easter-egg hunts we've gone to.

I love Jessica's cupcakes so much, it's become a joke between us. When I had just given birth 2 years ago, we came with our little newborn and Jessica gave me a tub of leftover buttercream frosting to take home. I had frosted chocolate chip cookies for breakfast and lunch most days, as I was learning how to function with this new little 'no-sleep-for-you, booby-booby-nomnomnom' machine. That and Belly Bars, since the only stores I was getting to were Babies R Us and Motherhood Maternity!
She somehow bakes the cupcakes into ice cream cones, and even had her husband make custom racks to hold them. They are MOUNDED with frosting, and it's not uncommon to find de-frosted cones lying around the yard after the desserts come out.
Z was in love, as it combined 2 of her 3 favorite foods - ice cream (even though it didn't actually HAVE any ice cream. For her, the idea was enough) and cupcakes! The only thing missing was a Chapstick, and it would have been a Little Z trifecta!

There was an inconceivable amount of sparklers in little hands, with a surprisingly low number of injuries (none.) As dusk approached, Jessica's brother-in-law treated us to an awesome display of fountains, mortars, roman candles, and other shoot-into-the-sky BOOM CRACKLE Oooh! Aaaah! fireworks. The little monkey fell asleep on the drive home, so the day ended well.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Nugget Of Information... 4-Piece Meal. And a Chokkit Milk!

Monday 6/28 - Slept in too late to do planned activities, so we went to the new McDonald's with the awesome play area. It was busy, since we were there at the beginning of lunch, but we had a good time anyway. Unfortunately, we had so much McDs this week, that by Saturday, when asked what she wanted for lunch, Little Z was answering "Chikken nuggetss, fench fyess, anna chokkit milk!"

Tuesday 6/29 - Our first class at GymStarz gym. We've been going there for a year now for open play, but haven't ever made it to a class before. One of my mom clubs got us a reduced rate for a club-only class where they run small groups of kids, divided by age around the gym, each with their own teacher. At first I was worried, as I had assumed it was a parent/child class, as all of her other gyms have been until age 3.

Little Z doesn't like new adults, and freaks out if touched by one, even if they are trying to help her or prevent her from falling. Since we've only ever been there for open play, Z didn't want to listen to the teacher and do what her group was doing. Fortunately, Miss Rae said that I could stay with her, so even though Z refused to follow directions and participate with the group, she didn't get to run around at will, and had to sit on my lap if she didn't want to follow the group. So hopefully she'll learn that class time is different, and become more comfortable with the teacher.

At the end of our class, we got to go on the big trampoline, which we aren't supposed to play on during open gym, so she's only been on it once when we broke the rules with a friend and her kids. (I could hardly tell her we weren't allowed to play on it when her friends were!) She sat on the trampoline without me and listened to the teacher, and even let her touch occasionally to help. I knew she'd want to jump on the big trampoline, and  I was right. She wanted it soooo bad that she did a great job sitting still and watching and listening and waiting her turn.

After gym, we went to McD's again, since I hadn't packed a lunch and we were headed up to see my doctor, scheduled to coincide with her falling asleep on the drive up and us sitting in my car napping until my appointment. I managed to forage enough snacks and an emergency juice box from the stash in my car and diaper bag to last us until we got home after. Z loved getting to play with her 'friends' in the gift shop (a Gund Sesame Street plush display.) She had quite the collection of Abby Cadabbys snuggling on the floor before I made her put them away. Many hugs and tears and 'I wiwl miss you vewwy musch!'-es later, we got my appointment over with and went home.

After dinner, Z got her first fireworks experience, using sparklers. She gained a healthy respect for fire, and is now VERY good about listening and obeying us around fireworks. Unfortunately, she gained this maturity due to a little mishap when she refused to drop the spent sparkler stick, and tried to grab it at the top, which was still hot.

Wednesday 6/30 - Strawberry picking plans cancelled due to last-minute decision to meet up with my sister and nieces at KidsQuest Children's Museum in Bellevue. Since she was running late and had a long trip via ferry, I had time to make a nice lunch of cookie-cutter cheese, apples (leftover from McD Happy Meals) and berries. I had planned to make pocket sandwiches out of the cheese scraps, with my Pampered Chef tool, but was foiled due to lack of bread. So instead I made 'Peanut Butter Roll-Ups' with leftover tortillas, PB and honey. They were a hit! Z was snaking them out of the container (not pictured... I thought I had taken a pic...) as fast as I was able to cut them up into little sushi rolls. I made ferry boat (my choice - since they took a ferry to get to us) and duck shaped (Z's choice) cheese. Scraps were baggied and given to Tually to take home, since she LOVES my 'puzzle cheese.'

After letting the girls run wild at the children's museum, we stopped by Grammelena's house to see how she was doing, since she lives nearby, and had had eye surgery that morning. I'm sure she appreciated being kicked onto the couch so I could transfer my napping child to her bed! Hopefully having 3 toddlers running around didn't set back her recovery TOO much! We ate my cheese shapes, but my nieces weren't interested in my PB roll-ups. They don't like PB and won't eat sandwiches of any kind. Wierd! My sister loved them though, and scarfed them down! Most of the berries and apples were snarfed, with only a few once-bitten casualties left behind. My sister cooked up some home-made hot fudge sauce and we had ice cream sundaes before she had to go catch their ferry home.  I picked up McD's for dinner (my mom's request) and we ate with her, since my husband was out with some High School buddies for dinner that night. 

Thursday 7/1 - Had a late-morning appointment with a specialist in my doc's office, so we didn't do anything fun. I did have time to pack a lunch, which we didn't end up eating. Instead we ate at the hospital cafe. Z refused to nap on the ride home, so I tried to 'play-through' as we call it, and keep her up until an early bedtime, but she thwarted me when I was engrossed in watching Avatar for the first time and I found her sacked out on her little foam fold-out couch in front of her portable DVD player.

Friday 7/2 - I have no idea what we did. The camping-in-the-park playdate got cancelled due to rain, and I have no notes or pictures. I'm fairly certain we played in the front yard for a bit after nap. Other than that, the only thing I know we did was go to Main's Japanese Buffet for dinner, where Z ate calamari, colored roe (and some sushi that was under all that roe!) and [drumroll] FROG LEGS! We take her around the buffet and ask her if she wants each dish, even if we think she won't want it. But she surprised us by saying 'yes' to the frog leg. Ooookay. And she tried it, and said she liked it, but she has a hard time with meat on bones, and doesn't eat much meat anyway, so she only gnawed on it for a little bit. 

Saturday 7/3 - In the afternoon we had plans to go to our friends' daughter's 1st birthday party, so we went shopping for a haircut (for my husband) and a present (for the birthday girl.) Since there was a HairMasters (or some similar chain) in the same complex as our local Fred Meyer, we opted to shop there. After adopting each and every baby doll, cuddling it, singing to it, and then giving it a tearful goodbye, we managed to find a nice present for 'Beebee Mornan' (a talking tea set.) We almost escaped, until Z saw the drop-off playland. She will almost never go anywhere without me or Daddy, but I decided to let her try. She did pretty well. She did great until she saw me peeking through the glass (she hadn't been looking for me or anything, she was just looking around and I didn't duck fast enough) which ruined our social experiment. She refused to play anymore, but also refused to leave. 
We finally extracted her with promises of food (specifically, a 'dirt sundae with gummy worms' from Shari's.) But when asked at the car what her preference was, (Taco Bell? McDonald's? Pancakes?) she rattled off the contents of a Happy Meal. So we went to McD's. Again. Ugh. 4th time this week! I feel flabbier just thinking about it!

She refused to nap, and I had promised to make meat and cheese flowers and butterflies for the party (since my friend had loved the ones at Z's birthday party, and didn't have any cutters at home,) so I got to work! Z fell asleep on the way to the party, but that short nap was enough to last until bedtime. She loved the pop-its and streamer-shooter things that go BANG! ( I don't know what they're called) that they had for the older brother (age 9?) and other guests. She didn't do as well in accepting that the present we chose wasn't for her. She's been really good about presents for her cousins, understanding that they aren't for her, and not whining or throwing a fit about it. She did well at our 4-year-old neighbor's birthday. And her preschool friend's party (son of one of my MOMS club friends.) But this one...  She really liked it. She got a little plastic tea set and dishes for her birthday, and enjoys playing with them and 'feeding' her toys, so this 'magic' one that talked was enchanting to her.
"Open it for me." 
"No, that's for Baby Mornan, remember? For her birthday party."
"Open it Beebee Mornan's present!"
[Later, when wrapping...]
"Open my present for me please."
"No, that's Baby Mornan's present. She gets to open it. Do you want to help wrap it?"
"Okay. For Beebee Mornan. I wrap it wittjoo."
[After wrapped.]
"Open it! My present! Open it for me!"
"It's Baby Mornan's present. For her birthday."
"NoOoOooOo It's MINE!"
All previous times, I've only had to remind her once or twice that the toy was for someone else and she'd let it go. But once the deed was done, she was content poking at it and the other presents in their boxes after they had been unwrapped.