Saturday, October 30, 2010

everyone's still growing up

LP is really a preschooler now and learns more things at school and tells me about it later, sometimes more coherently than others. Last week the teacher wrote a note on his paper that they had cut apples in half to see the star of seeds, then used them as stamps to make art. I had just gotten to his room and read this paper when he saw me, got really excited, and yelled "Mommy, in the core, there's a STAR!". He didn't think to mention apples first, of course . . . so without her little hints, I would've been totally lost, especially since it's anyone's guess whether he says 'core' and 'star' versus 'tore' and 'tar'.

ELP is a toddler and can almost run for real. I think she is helped by the fact that LP holds her hand to walk/run her around, so if she can't keep her feet moving, she gets dragged on the floor (which she thinks is funny anyway). Oddly, ELP seems to be learning individual words and full sentences at the same rate. She says "dog", "woof", "duck", "quack", "mine", "daddy" (which also means mommy), her version of LP's name, "down", "up", "more", "no" (which also sometimes means yes), "uh-oh", "milk", "bottle" (which is a sippy cup), and "ball" regularly, and has said several other specialty words a few times. But she can also say "I wanna push the button", despite probably not knowing what "push" and "button" mean separately, and some other phrases like that. I think she tries to memorize phrases that LP says. Also she seems to be able to put "I want" together with another word generally.

TE got a proposal funded and has been doing well at work. He has some responsibility over other people's proposals but doesn't feel prepared for that. I think he is learning fast, though.

Meanwhile, I am just finishing up my faculty application package. I think it looks good, but the proof is in the interview getting. Meanwhile I am trying to finish writing up my first postdoc paper, which will be really nice in a pretty high-impact place (if it gets accepted), but it is hard to start from scratch and write about something new, especially because I am trying very hard to keep every sentence as short and informative as possible.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Now that LP can talk so much, he says ridiculous and hilarious things all the time. One morning I told him "I like you" and he replied, "I just like daddy". Right now I'm trying to explain to him that if he holds someone down and puts stickers on their eyes, those stickers will be hers and he can't have them back. Just one of several reasons not to hold people down and put things on their eyes.

Meanwhile, ELP thinks his antics are fun. She is walking a lot and likes to say 'ba' a lot, and she says it for balloon, ball, and a few other things that she apparently thinks she is pronouncing in different ways. She got her first tooth finally, but still sucks on her middle two fingers. Something she thinks is funny is to drop food on the floor, and then shake her head 'no', because she knows that's what we're going to do. Of course, now we try not to shake our heads when we say no, but it's hard to remember.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

at least he can change himself

Well, potty training is still not going well, but yesterday I told LP to go change his diaper, and he went to the changing area, took off his shoes, shorts, and pull-up diaper, got a new diaper out, and came to me to help him get his feet through the holes. It was strange. He has new princess pull-ups with Belle on the front, which he is fairly excited about. He is really getting good at talking and climbing and understanding everything. The other day he was slurping loudly from a sippy cup, and TE said "is there a big wall of water coming towards us?" LP looked around for a big wall of water, and I said that daddy was only joking. LP sat for a moment, pointed, and said "there's a big wall of water coming!" Then he chucked, looked at me, and said "I was joking too".

ELP is moving forward too. She just started to act like a real interactive person, and points at stuff asking what it is all the time. She can say "mo" for more and "da" for dog. When she sees a dog she starts giggling and screaming because she really likes them. She is very balanced, and can stand up, squat, and stand up again, clapping and waving her arms, without needing to touch the wall or the floor. But she won't take a step yet!

I went to a conference 2 weeks ago, and my mom came to help TE care for the kids. I saved up milk for MONTHS beforehand, giving her 3.5 oz instead of 4 at daycare in the afternoons, giving her milk that had been left out a bit longer than it should have been, and mainly trying to pump a bit extra all the time, which is time consuming and doesn't always work. Then when I was gone, she went on a bottle strike hardly drank any milk, preferring water and juice in a cup! At least she saved me from buying dry ice and overnighting a bunch of milk across the country.

The next week we went on vacation and to TE's brother's wedding. It was awesome, but the vacation seemed really short. I want another one--I need to make the motor work on my bike, and finish writing some papers, and I don't have any time during the week, and hardly any on the weekend!

Friday, April 30, 2010

growing babies

ELP learned to crawl this week! Still no teeth, though. She can crawl to toys across the room, and two days ago found a guitar of LP's. It is shiny and red with multiple types of buttons to make noise or play songs--very much the catch for a baby. She started pressing buttons and bopping her head to the music. Little did she know that this noise was destined to attract LP, who suddenly realized he needed to play with the guitar. He started to take it, saying 'can I have that please' but not waiting for any sort of response, and I let him since it is his toy, but I reminded him of the rule: if you take something from ELP, you have to give her something else to play with. So he takes one of the most attractive toys in the house, with music and multiple things to poke at, and gives her a stick from a tinker toy set. Not even multiple connected pieces, just one of the sticks. She just looked at it--I think she knew it was a raw deal.

LP is also moving along--he is trying to learn to use the potty. The last couple of weeks, when I picked him up at daycare most days he told me that he used the potty twice, then the teacher would tell me he actually didn't use the potty. I finally realized, he's not lying to say he's used the potty _today_, but keeping a running lifetime total of how many times he's used the potty, and he just wants to keep reminding me of it! On Wednesday he developed a new potty strategy. Apparently his thinking went like this: people keep telling me not to pee in my diaper, but I don't want/know how to pee in the potty, and besides it interrupts my playtime . . . so I'll not pee at all!! He was very successful with this strategy during the day, but as those of you who are potty trained already know, it was doomed to failure. When he fell asleep he forgot about his plan, and I had to change his diaper 3 times during the night (they don't just hold an infinite amount of liquid!)

Here's a quick grouping of things to put together for dinner, though I don't think of it as a recipe as it involves already prepared things. One of my favorite mostly prepared things to buy at the store is spaghetti sauce. I think they do a good job with jarred spaghetti sauce, and I use it as-is on spaghetti sometimes. Anyway, this is a bit like a poor man's ravioli: Make some (half a box for 2 adults is how we measure here) medium size pasta such as shells or rotini, drain, and mix it with a container (the smaller container, 1 cup I think) of ricotta. Put spaghetti sauce on top. It's good!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

usually I don't crack up so much when LP is sad

This one was just too funny; LP was whining and generally being difficult, and then he asked for a cookie. (His way of asking is to say "I want one piece of cookie" because he knows we will say he can only get one cookie or one piece of candy, so he thinks stating this ahead of time will improve his odds.) TE said something like "we can't reward him for this", and I agreed, so I said no. He started crying and whining more. Eventually I tried to explain it this way: "But you're so sad right now--if I give you a cookie you won't really appreciate it anyway". LP's shoulders stopped heaving and he stopped crying. He tried to reduce the whine in his voice and slowly said, with his bottom lip still pouting, "Now I'm happy". I really just had to laugh--it was too much for me!

Here's one of our favorite ridiculously quick meals, which can be made from things which are always in my pantry and do not go bad: veggie chili
(if you don't like beans, you probably won't be making veggie chili, but I bet it would be good with TVP or tofu or a bunch of chopped bell peppers (which you would add with the onions) but it wouldn't be the same thing at all)

Put some oil in the bottom of a medium large pot, put the burner on medium high or so, and add maybe a third of a bag of frozen chopped onions. (if you have time, fresh onions are better) Add a couple of tablespoons of cumin powder, some coriander powder if you like it, and ground black pepper. If you will use unsalted canned goods, you could also add some salt. Once the onions are mostly cooked, add 2 small or 1 large can of diced tomatoes and 1 can of beans--I use black beans, great northern beans (for a double recipe a mix of both is great) or sometimes pinto beans.

Side note: I don't buy beans that have added things (except salt, water, and EDTA) such as sugar which kidney beans generally have. Perhaps it keeps them better somehow to add a bit of sugar, but it pisses me off. Also, I get pretty mad at the grocery looking for plain diced tomatoes--I won't detail all the various crap I've seen added to canned diced tomatoes at the grocery, much of which is great stuff, but I need to add it myself or else I'd have 10 different cans of diced tomatoes at home depending on what I was going to use them in, and more importantly I wouldn't be in charge of what gets added.

You can drain the beans if you want a slightly thicker chili or if you don't like the bean juice/water. I don't usually bother. Add some oregano--a teaspoon or two. Add a dried powdered garlic--maybe a couple teaspoons. Obviously if you have time, a couple cloves of fresh minced garlic is significantly better and I would add it once the onions have cooked a bit but before adding watery stuff. Finally, add some heat with ground chili powder (not premade "chili powder" to make chili with, which generally has far too much chili and salt in relation to cumin besides not being a real ingredient in my opinion since it's a mix of several ingredients) or you could use hot sauce. Stir that around (don't forget to taste and adjust spices) and wait for it to get really hot. You could keep simmering it for 10 or 20 minutes to distribute the flavors a bit, if you have time.

To make it a meal, serve with a ridiculous amount of shredded cheese and/or plain yogurt, which we use in our house instead of sour cream. Sometimes we make it with cornbread as well, but in that case you have to actually cook stuff instead of just putting some stuff in a big pot, so even though cornbread is easy, the preparation time goes way up.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

bike fixed!

I'm starting to feel like we live here for real. We're having friends over next weekend (planning to make Cooks Illustrated's Chicago-style pizza recipe for them--we tried it earlier and it is not perfect but pretty good, this time I might leave out the cornmeal). I just got my bike up and running--a few pieces were taken apart for moving. The derailleur is working better than it was before the move, and I didn't even adjust it! So that went well, and now it has tire sealant to hopefully avoid the terrain-specific flats people get here. I didn't have the proper tool to unscrew the valve core, so I used a cuticle scissors--just the right size to get in there, but not quite the right shape of course--luckily they weren't too tight! Later on TE's suggestion I found that a really little screwdriver could fit too, though it couldn't pinch down obviously, it worked a bit better.

I am going to start a series of quick recipes or things I mix together and then eat that aren't really "recipes" per se. My cooking philosophy is to do things really fast, but also to use only things I consider pure/real ingredients, which I define based on essentially no obvious metrics to include things like packaged mayo and mustard but not the canned diced tomatoes with basil or other things in them (the canned tomatoes in the pantry here contain only pure tomatoes and salt--except for the jarred pasta sauce, but using that isn't really cooking).
So here's the first in the series:
What to put on breaded fish if you don't have tartar sauce:
mix some mayo with lemon juice and dried dill (or you could use another dried herb)
it's good!

Friday, February 12, 2010

pink eye, ear infection, and strep throat

We seem to all have mostly gotten over a couple of weeks of recurring illness. I for one feel great. I mean, if I felt like this on a normal day, I would say I have a bit of a sore throat. But given the last week, I just feel like getting up and doing jumping jacks. I think I will.
My brother in law made me realize that I have an important similarity with hobbits--I need second breakfasts. When he said that, I was thinking, well, I just have snacks sometimes and an early lunch. But yesterday, when I was eating 2 pieces of leftover pizza just after 8 AM after having had breakfast at 5:30 or so, I realized maybe I do eat second breakfast. I mean, 8 AM is a bit early for early lunch after all. It's ELP's fault for taking all my food--although she hasn't been eating as well for a few days given that she's sick. Poor thing--I am really glad she is getting better fast because it was so sad to see her cry--you could just tell something was really wrong because she had that terrified look in her eyes. Given how happy/not freaked out she was compared to other sick babies, though, I think the doctor appeared pretty surprised to see such a raging infection in her ear. Sorry for the stream of consiousness type post again--it's all I have time for--I am picking up my mom at the airport soon!!! We are going to have a great weekend. We told LP last night that Nana was coming in today, and then I asked him who might he see today, and he said "NANA!!". So he will be excited when we go get him at daycare. I could've kept him home all day, but it was pajama day, so I didn't want him to miss that. Off to do some jumping jacks and then to the airport . . .

Sunday, January 31, 2010

LP antics

Now that he talks pretty well, LP says crazy stuff all the time. He seems not to recognize that usually what something is not is not as useful as what it is; for instance, sometimes out of nowhere he'll say "there's no people in there" about, say, the closet or a toy car, or "that's not an elephant". He likes to bug ELP, and I think he's her favorite person. Today ELP was practicing sitting on the bed, and he pushed her over and got a time out. Then he told her "I'm in trouble". TE told him that he didn't have to push her over to watch her fall down, he could just wait and she eventually falls over on her own. So he waited and he watched her fall over, and thought that was quite the great game. He is working on the one-to-one correspondence of counting. He knows the numbers in order to the mid teens, but when counting things he just says numbers and puts his finger down on the counted objects randomly and not in correspondence with the number he's saying. So the other day, I tried to explain that you touch each ladybug in the counting book and you say a number.
LP: [touches the first ladybug]
me: [whispering] say a number
LP: [whispering] number
me: no, like this [touching the ladybugs] one, two, three, four, five
LP: [touches the first ladybug] one
LP: [touches the second ladybug] two
[LP touches the third ladybug, at this point I get really excited that he's getting the picture]
LP: one [I'm thinking, well at least he's touching them, he touches the fourth one and I think maybe he'll get back in the game and say four next, or even two]
[I am now trying not to laugh, but hey, at least he's touching each of them]
LP: ALL DONE! [actually I'm not sure what he said]
me: Good job! [What else does one say about that? He's making progress, and he's cute!]

Saturday, January 23, 2010

news in place a

Well, it's been awhile since my last post, but I guess it really wasn't that long--ELP is still at the half-laughing stage, and can't really do a full belly laugh. Actually she can, but only if LP is prompting her--I am just not cool enough no matter how long I hide behind my hands or how excitedly I say "peekaboo!!!".
We are all settled in in Place A (or as settled as we'll be for now), and have already had our first visitors--my sister and brother in law. We had a great time showing them our new city last weekend.
Here's news for each of us: TE and I are both really enjoying our jobs. ELP can roll front to back sometimes, coo back and forth, transfer things between her hands, and is about to start eating solid food. LP likes his new daycare and knows all of his classmates' names. He is in a bit of an odd place right now, in that he's the oldest in his room but would be by far the youngest in the preschool room. Sometimes he goes to the preschool room if his room is getting a bit overfull, and he loves it, but he can't stay all the time since he's still in diapers (and not making much progress to get out of them, btw). He's somewhat behind the others in the preschool room, due to being so much younger--for example, they asked him at circle to name three things that are blue! He knows the number three, mostly, and might understand the direction to "name something", and definitely knows what blue things are, but putting that all together in his head is several levels of abstraction above where he's thinking right now, it seems. It's not a big deal, though, as he likes both rooms, so I'm happy.