Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First I get to claim a famous brother...

...and now a famous Mother!

It's true, my brother of In the Nick of Time Music was awarded one of Parents Magazines 10 best Children's CDs of 2011. (And my boys' silly faces got a little "face" time in the mag, too!).

(You're welcome for finishing off your children's stocking stuffers.)

And now my mother got quoted on CCFC's site for their TOADY Award of 2011.

Acronym time:

CCFC: Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood
TOADY: Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children

I re-quoteth:

"Capturing 43% of the vote, the Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet has won the 2011 TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) Award for Worst Toy of the Year. The first “iPad” for babies beat out rivals the I Am T-Pain Mic (32%), Monster High Ghoul Spirit Fearleading Doll 3-Pack (16%), WWE Colossal Crashdown Arena (5%), and Monopoly - Coca Cola 125th Anniversary Collector's Edition (4%).


The push to convince parents that screen time is educational for babies is what propelled Vinci to outpace its formidable competition. “While all the choices were horrifying, the Vinci seems the most insidious to me,” said CCFC member Anne M. Deyser of Westborough, Massachusetts. “It’s likely to convince parents that they are doing something positive for their babies when that couldn't be farther from the truth.” Added Peggy Sissel-Phelan, Ed.D., of Little Rock, “People don’t know that without human attention, babies won't develop normally, much less optimally. They will, however, learn how to push the buttons to make the screen react. Rats can do that!”

Go Mahna!

I gotta say...I really dig having a baby and child advocate for my kids' "Mahna."

I guess this means the boys aren't getting Toddler tablets for x-mas from the grandparents.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vanity

I *hate* pictures of myself. 

I MAY OR MAY NOT INTENTIONALLY CROP MYSELF OUT OF MOST PICTURES

Jay Leno chin
Forced smile
Resemblance to Michael Stipe (thanks, Bro)

But we just got back the full set of images from our first holiday mini session with Kate T. Parker, and for the first time since my wedding pictures, I said, "Wow! That's a good picture of me!"

Full post on Kate and her mad "skillz" forthcoming...

Thanks for humoring one of my deadly sins; it's been a long day full of  appointments tending to the defunct middle ear canals and crooked neck of one of my youngin's. Praise jeebus for health insurance and FSA...and Kate T. Parker.

Quiet Jar

Our family's version of "time out" is a hybrid of the Love & Logic "uh-oh...bad decision" technique, confining to a quiet chair for the amount of time a child is old, and then having the offender apologize to the victim if applicable. Simple redirecting is a thing of the past now that Felix has a much more solid understanding of cause/effect and what is inappropriate behavior.

I won't say that we never use the quiet chair because my kids are angels, but we also don't use it willy nilly at every moment of misbehavior.

And I won't say that it works all of the time, but I convince myself that being consistent is what is most important...something I do struggle with.

The biggest trouble we have with the quiet chair is that no one is ever quiet on it. I think it needs to be renamed to "1-3 minutes in torture" chair. The boys usually scream. And luckily Miles thinks we have an imaginary tether when we put him in it (much like his bed in the morning), but Felix likes to flip the chair over and test our limits with getting up, all the while screaming like Daryl Hannah in "Splash" when she broke the TV screens while she was revealing her real mermaid name.

So when I stumbled upon the idea of a "thinking jar" on Pinterest, I decided to expand my arsenal of parenting techniques. I ended up linking to a great post on Meditating with Children and a recipe for a "mind jar" with an explanation as follows: "The goal is that when they are feeling out of control, they shake the jar, then sit and watch the glitter settle in the water. It is like our minds when we are angry, frustrated, things feel impossible--our minds and emotions are all shook up."

Quiet chair + Quiet jar = slightly less Darryl Hannah!

Here is our jar--shaken and settled:



I adjusted the recipe in that I made it with Miles and Felix who have a heavy hand when it comes to adding ingredients, which resulted in a sort of bloody-looking jar...

Felix filled the jar with warm water 3/4 way full. Then we each put in 1 big dollop of red glitter glue (I told you--really exact!). And then we Miles mistakenly put in an entire tub of silver loose glitter when we wanted just to put in a few shakes. I should have left the water clear, but Miles really wanted to put in food coloring, and I've been looking for ways to use our artificial/cheap food coloring up so I can replace with more natural dye for when we cook. Miles totally helped me on my mission and put in about 15-20 drops.  We also put in a jar of glycerin. Shook it all up, and voila! It doesn't take 5 minutes to settle, but about 3 minutes to completely settle.

(Please oh please...keep my children weak enough not to figure out how to open that jar and dump it on the rug.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We are "Gangkful" for our Mommies and Daddies



Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are thankful for family, health, good friends, and lots and lots of toddler laughter. And last night, Miles informed me he is thankful for "God making sandwiches and God making water buffaloes."

video

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Programs and In-ee-uns"

I love the holidays...
Especially when you celebrate with "programs" and "in-ee-uns"





video

Scowl




My pointer fingers have these hard "pads" on the ends of them from months and months of knitting with size 3 needles. I am pretty sure that my fingerprints have been forever altered; I'm not sure, but I wonder why criminals haven't picked up on knitting--hello! changing fingerprints! (Perhaps all the criminals who may be reading my blog and pick up knitting will find a more therapeutic and productive way to use their time?)

I've been on the hunt to find a project where I could use larger needles and save some of my fingerprint integrity. Maybe not THIS big... 


...but something a little larger than size 3.

I recently got inspired from my craft icon and one of my grad school besties up in WI from a recent cowl project she made detailed over on Anthologie. She didn't mention it, but I'm pretty sure she used that 25th hour she pulls out of her hand sewn pocket to whip up this cozy gift for her sister. 

(I was given permission to post this amazingly cute picture of the cowl, hottie pa-tottie sister, and her most scrumdiddly little girl "Mags to Riches".  I cannot even stand how cute she is with the little pouty face...not sure if it is pathological, but sometimes, I think emotional pictures of kids like these touch the heart even more than the perfectly composed smiley ones! I highly recommend my friend's Anthologie blog...you'll immediately want to search ebay for a sewing machine and want to spend a night roaming her closet just to pick up trendy inspiration. And she's good about throwing up some amazing recipes on her blog, too.)

I am a huge scarf person. What I mean is that I have 2 scarves that I wear ALL of the time. They are meant to be worn for function and not fashion. But that doesn't stop me from strategically leaving them on with any and all outfits at work. I'm a trendy girl living in a Goodwill body, so cowls, although I like to put them on my boards on Pinterest, I know will just inspire things like quizzical stares from fellow friends and co-workers.

(Bee-tee-dubs...I just figured out how to give y'all a button to follow me on Pinterest! I cannot think of any advantages to doing so as I'm pretty vanilla in my pins, but if I can assure you that I'll contribute that big black hole that your nighttime hours go into when you find that 2 hours of your life have gone missing after what you feel like was a quick jaunt around Pinterest.)


Follow Me on Pinterest

Focus, Ali...right...I'm not a fashionista. Case in point, I wore boots OVER my jeans the other day, and my friend at work was like, "ALI! YOU ARE WEARING HEELS!" Truth is, I wear heels on a number of occasions, but I knew the undertones of her comment were: "You are one gutsy gal trying to pull off a rider boot over a skinny jean look. But the problem is, you are not wearing riding boots...and your jeans are bulging out of the top of the boot. Ah, but I'll make you feel better and comment on the heel aspect."

And guess what I paired that junior varsity attempt at trend: a homemade cowl.
Guess how many comments I got on it? Zero. Now, I wasn't even looking for any applause or "great neck rat!" But I figured going far out of my comfort zone would illicit some response.

I don't deal with the lack of response well, so the cowl may have to hang up on my coat rack for a bit longer. And actually, I'm calling it a scowl. Not because it makes me give a sour face, but because I am really just not trendy enough to say I own a cowl. So it's my scarf-cowl, or scowl.

It was a really easy pattern available for free on Ravelry that was developed after a knitter stalked the GAP and counted the stitches in their highly expensive cowl for sale. It uses larger circular needles and follows a beginner's seed stitch. Now, I am like varsity beginner knitter, so I was not worried about pattern intricacy, but rather, time. It took me about 4 days, and I did it while going into the knitting zone in front of TV. The problem with that is I would find myself forgetting to alternate stitches, and had a row with about 2-4 stitches going into cable. Ooops! It's hardly noticeable. And then I got eager the night before I tragically wore it to work, and snipped really fast all of the ends. What I failed to recognize is that I need to be as deliberate with finishing off and cutting big projects as I am with little ones. I snipped right into my pattern, and had to do some creative knitting and stitching to hide the holes. Finally, I used a heavier weight yarn than what was recommended, and had fewer yards, so I had to "guess" at how long it would be before I could finish my last row. I had BARELY enough yarn left for the last row, so I seed stitched that bad boy of 131 stitches TIGHT. Consequence? The 2 circumferences are not equal in tension. Ah well. The coat hanger doesn't mind...



When in doubt, pair your less than par creations with small children. Especially ones with boogies and pasta sauce caked on their faces.


It was really a fun project, and if I felt comfortable wearing cowls, I would make more. So if any of you want to go to Lucifer's Lair (yes, I linked that to Michael's craft store) and pick out and buy 2 skeins of appropriate yarn: I'll see what I can do about getting you your own scowl. (I call it, therapy through needles.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BFD recipe

We have "BFD" a lot at our house: breakfast for dinner.

Tonight (rather, last night since this will post tomorrow), I made some pretty stellar organic pumpkin pancakes for the boys. Tuesdays we have Mommy date night because every week Eric is gone through bedtime (and last night wasn't going to be home until close to 11pm) due to his adult running group obligations. Usually we do Annie's Mac n Cheese or toasted cheese, but last night I felt like eating pumpkin bread but didn't want to wait the bake time. So I made pumpkin pancakes from a regular pancake recipe we had. To.Die.For.

We also had what we call "banana discs", which are banana slices with dollops of organic PB. Yum!

I rarely if ever post recipes (unless it is nursing balls), but felt compelled to share. Between our farmer's market and Trader Joe's, I was able to make these with almost all organic ingredients, but certainly not necessary!

 1 1/2 cup organic skim milk (higher fat % would probably be better, but we didn't have any)
1 cup organic pumpkin puree (TJ's has cans of this. I don't love using cans because of the whole BPA thing, but there was no way I was going to roast my own sugar pumpkin...not that I had one!
2 organic large eggs
2 T canola oil
2 T vinegar
2 cups organic all purpose flour
3 T brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2-3 t pumpkin pie spice (or you can do ~teaspoon each of allspice, ground ginger, and cinnamon, but I prefer the lazy pumpkin pie spice option)
1/2 t salt

Mix together the milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, oil and vinegar in a bowl. Set aside and let the vinegar and milk fraternize and create some buttermilk qualities. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a separate bowl. Mix wet and dry ingredients just enough to get combine (ie, don't over mix!)


Cook pancakes however you do it at your home--griddle/pan, etc. We have a little griddle that we heat over medium heat.

A killer variation to this that I would have done but felt compelled to give my children more protein with the peanut butter discs, is pancake coated banana discs. Make the batter as directed above, and then slice bananas on the horizontal to create long, oblong-y kinda discs. Dip in the pumpkin pancake batter, and put on the griddle. We do this with regular pancakes and bananas, and they make a GREAT lunch option for the kids the following day!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Souvenir


Way back when I was pregnant with Felix I had a wonderful online community of other pregnant mothers on a mothering.com February due date board. I had an awesome due date buddy who also has a blog and a really cute son!. On Sundays, she does thematic posts about souvenirs; she posts a photo, an item, or even just a memory that is dear to her. She calls it Sunday Souvenir: Souvenir: Something that serves as a reminder of the past, from the French word for remembering.


Living so far from actually family, I don't really house very many relics from my childhood or from my family's history. After my grandfather and grandmother died recently, our family quickly learned what it meant to sift through a lifetime of memories and objects. Although my grandparents were fastidious about their house, over the course of 40+ years being in one house, they collected lots of stuff.
 
I have felt a real sense of sadness and almost confusion as my grandparents' "stuff" disappears or changes owners. I've had a hard time reconciling how in a matter of days, their house has been dismantled and a lifetime imprint in Kempton, PA is being removed. I have almost felt a sense of panic at times about the question "what happens to all of their 'things'?"

And then there are the "things" like the smell of their basement...or the sound of footsteps on the wooden stairs leading down to the basement...the smell of their garage that housed the fridge my grandfather got his mother after the war. The weight of the white door opening was not lost on me as I always found a way to get a mini glass bottle of ginger ale or coke from it when I visited. Did the white pitchers that contained milk for our cereal get brought to Goodwill? How about the table where I ate sticky buns each morning and stole stuffing out of the turkey? Oh, and the candy drawer that was right next to my grandfather's recliner. I wonder...who emptied that drawer? What did they do with that candy? And the biggest question: who will inhabit this house next? Will they even care about the memories that were created there?

I never thought of anything in particular that I wanted after my grandparents' passing (short of one last hug, or raucous round of haus and phefer--phonetically spelled--late at night with my grandparents, uncle, dad and brothers.)

As my mother, father, uncle, and aunt sifted through their items recently, they would call and ask me about acquiring certain items. Although I didn't have a deep desire to obtain lots of their stuff, I also didn't want any of it to disappear. It's conflicting. But when I thought for a bit longer about what material items they left behind, the one thing I was interested in having was my grandmother's wedding band. It was tiny and gold, and probably saw a lot of hard work, cooking, farming, and life in general. I knew she was only buried with a necklace with an "L" for Lila that my grandfather gave her, so I knew the band was still in the house. Interestingly, my mom and aunt identified she had 2 bands. My guess, not worth the gas to drive over to an appraiser. But the memories I have of my grandmother's hands with that band--the chicken "pecks" from getting eggs each day, baking sour cherry pie, doing dishes, quilting...priceless. I DO NOT wear gold, but the moment I got the rings, I immediately put them on my hand and have not and will not take them off unless I have to. 


I'm not sure if I have "felt" my grandparents' presence since they have died, but every day I twirl the two rings on my finger when I get up and talk to my grandmother. I tell her I love her and Grandpop, and will give the boys a hug for them. Something they never were able to do.

In addition to the bands, my mom sent me a number of other things, some of which included: 2 boxes of old cookie cutters, well loved aprons, some early 1900's silver dollars, old family pictures (ummm, is that me or Felix in the one I posted below?), and each of the grandchildren got one of my grandfather's military hats. Felix was the only one who wanted to serve as a model, unfortunately.



Miles may not have wanted to wear the hate, but he was very curious about its origins:

Miles: "Where did we get that hat?"
Ali: "It was my grandfather's."
Miles: "What he name?"
Ali: "You mean, what is his name? I call him Grandpop. But his name is Paul."
Miles: "Where does he live?"
Ali: (without pause) "In Pennsylvania."
Miles: "In Penn-see-vana?"
Ali: "Well, he did."
Miles: "Where does he live now?"
Ali: "In our heart Miles, in our heart..."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

RAK: November 2011 part deux

I had the last minute opportunity to do some knitting-based RAK. Okay--see if you can follow--the mother of a guy I went to school with through high school contacted me via Facebook asking if she could pay me to knit a sock monkey for her older son whose own son is about to turn one. I had to first claim that a) I don't have the skills to actually do a real sock monkey, b) my talents do not warrant anyone paying me for my creations, and c) none of my creations are really mine--I follow other people's patterns with only minor changes (ie, I simplify stitches I cannot do). Also, I just really wanted to send her a monkey without anything in return. I love knitting, and I had already been itching to try out this new yarn I got that actually kind of looks like sock monkey yarn.
I went into turbo knitting mode knowing I had a very tight deadline with C's birthday being in less than 2 weeks. I had to factor in a few days of knitting, and at least 3 days of shipping.


Yup. He's mine--he's got torticollis and a wonky ear! But I love him, and even though dropped all my other knitting projects and spent 3 late nights getting him done, I feel really attached to this little guy! I'm excited that I have more sock monkey yarn to give this little guy some identical siblings.

He may not be perfect, but I hope he makes a newly 1 year old smile.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11.11.11 at 11:11:11

Epic

It's 11.11.11
And if Blogger doesn't let me down, this will post at 11:11:11 (they cannot promise the seconds, so I am taking binary creative liberty)

If you know Eric and me, you know that the #11 is our good luck charm/favorite number.

So we have been waiting for this day since we found out we were both born on 1/11.

I won't go into the crazy amount of "11's" we have in our lives since I have done it many times before.

Instead, I'll post 11 random things about us.
  1. I'm obsessed with certain grammar rules: don't say nauseous, center around, a whole nother, or misuse "lay/lie" "me/I"  around me. (Yes, I was correct above saying "If you know Eric and me." Confused? Take out the other person and you'll figure out if you need to use "me" or "I"--"If you know ME...." I claim no proficiency with punctuation and spelling.)
  2. Eric does not give high fives. Ever. Like never, ever, ever. He'll turn it into a low five if you attempt.
  3. I have Raynaud's syndrome
  4. Eric has the same middle name as my brother. I have the same middle name as his sister.
  5. Eric is terrified of spiders
  6. If you asked me what NASCAR was before 2003, I would have no clue what you were talking about. (And now I just pretend I have no idea what you are talking about.)
  7. Eric talks in his sleep and keeps his eyes slightly open at all times.
  8. I always have to leave a "last bite" on my plate (8 1/2, I totally have OCD)
  9. Eric drools over Reese Witherspoon, Uma Thurman's character from "Kill Bill," and Brad Pitt's abs from "Fight Club"
  10. I was held up at gunpoint at a Cold Stone Creamery
  11. If I could, I'd create a medical degree program in lactation. There's either a hidden Broadway actress or lactation consultant hidden inside of me! If Eric could, he'd probably stay at his current job with teaching and coaching forever. (Must be nice...)
11.11.11
(if you go by the above abbreviated date, the last binary day for 98+ years!)

AND

Veterans Day

AND


Go.Celebrate.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Photo booth Phun

Hold your bladders peeps...because I've got some photo hilarity for you.

Photo above taken the day after Eric and I got married...is that Eric, or Doug?


I forgot about Apple's amazing Photo Booth feature until I was bored waiting for Eric to finish cooking tonight's caramelized wings. And by bored, I mean COMPLETELY AVOIDING HAVING TO PLAY WITH TRAINS. Have I mentioned that I am the worst Mom to boys sometimes? I really, really don't like trains...I mean, I think I played with Barbie until high school. (Slight exaggeration, but I do remember enacting quite serious scenes about things like infidelity, economic recession, and maybe even premarital pregnancy...okay, maybe more exaggeration...but my Barbies DID kiss.)

Anyway, back to the topic, I went on a train strike tonight and after puzzles, drawing, and an impromptu music parade, I knew I had to figure out some other activity to avoid any opportunity for the boys to think about trains. So I opened the computer and splurged $7.99 on an iTunes Wee Sing America album after my bestie Studs recommended it because she rocked out to the entire playlist at a Marine ball she recently went to claiming her ability to sing all of the songs played is linked directly to her childhood exposure to the Wee Sing songs. (My brother may disown me for this purchase, but Pick a Bale o' cotton is worth almost all $8.) I figured, we could have a sing-a-long!

And while I was trying to get my 3 and almost 2 year old jazzed about Battle Hymn, Felix body slammed the laptop keyboard and up popped our Mac's Photo Booth.


Eric and I were obsessed with it when we first got our computer. We were like 2 silly middle school kids laughing at fart jokes. (Now my mom is disowning me for using the "f" word, but that's what middle schoolers say...and somehow my 3 year old: "Miles, did you blow gas?" "No Mommy, I farted." Sweet. I think his new imaginary friend, Doughvey, taught him that one. Or maybe Dad...)

Anyway, there has been a lot of fun with photo booth over the years...and I've saved some of my favorites. I won't identify the people below (they are not me and Eric believe it or not), but they know who they are, and I HOPE they are laughing their tails off remembering these pictures from over 4 years ago...



Tonight I discovered there is a new element of fun when you use photo booth with young children. I laughed just as hard...maybe even harder. This was after the boys first kinda freaked out when they saw our faces go wonky. Actually, truth be told, Felix was pretty terrified the whole time and scurried off into the kitchen asking for "hand! hand! hand!"whenever I switched the photo booth effect.

Sometimes, I want to just divorce myself from technology, but other times like tonight, it has given me a great ab work out.

I hope you laugh...

It's Doug Jr!



Hands down, the one of Felix below is my favorite. He's like some freakish Elf...but still wicked cute.
Here I am trying to get all artsy clever and make it look like I was pulling Felix's eye.

Bahahaha!!!
Yeah, yeah...Felix has a square head, but WHO IS THAT FREAK ON THE BOTTOM RIGHT? I think it is Eric? But it's creeping me out like that little boy ghost (read: cardboard cutout of Ted Danson) behind the curtain in "Three Men and a Baby"




It looks like I am inhaling their faces.



People always ask me if I have twins...(is it me, or do I look like Michael Jackson?)


Now go laugh for an hour with someone you love...be silly...it'll make your day. Promise.