Sunday, November 30

Christmasy-iest Place on Earth

To cap off our holiday weekend with a bang we went to Disneyland today complements of Adam & Alwyn. When we first moved to Southern California I remember feeling like Disneyland was one of the only places that felt Christmasy to me, just due to the sheer volume of decorations. I think I have adjusted slightly over the years and can now manage to get into the holiday spirit regardless of the 70 degree weather. Still, it was a good way to kick us into December and high gear for the Christmas season.  As expected, M had a great time. Despite the huge crowds we actually all managed to have fun, somehow avoiding the long lines and hitting lots of rides and attractions with little waiting. 

Matilda clutches her gingerbread man as we pose by the enormous tree. 
I think M would be content to just ride the carousel all day. 

In all our visits, Tim and I had always missed the Dumbo ride so it was a first for the whole family. Great shot Adam!

Saturday, November 29

Pre-Dinner Cocktail

Tonight as I did my wifely duty (i.e. made Tim an Old Fashioned), Matilda was insistent that she needed a cocktail too. I made her a "kids cocktail" complete with maraschino cherry, orange slice, sparkling water and pomegranate-blueberry juice. M was quite pleased and the two of them sat at "the bar" and kept me company while I got dinner going. After interrogating me about the contents of each drink M claimed I made Tim's whiskey with a whisk - which sent Tim & I into hysterics. Because she got such a good response she then spent the next half hour telling us about the whiskey and the whisk. 

Friday, November 28

Let it Begin

Matilda started her theater going-career today, with her first movie outing. We have been wanting to take her to the theater for a while now but could never decide on what film was right as her FIRST film. Nothing seemed significant enough so we finally gave up and just tried Bolt today. Matilda got a little freaked by one of the LOUD action scenes in the beginning and we thought we might have to leave, but she hung in there and watched the whole thing. She didn't appear to enjoy the film too much during the movie, but has talked fondly of it the remainder of today. When we asked her what her favorite part was her first response was seeing Mike & Sully (from Monster, Inc. - which she has never seen - during the trailers). Hopefully she'll warm up to movie going more because I thought it was great fun to go to a movie as a family. 

Eagerly awaiting her popcorn. 
M & Daddy wait for the show to start. 

Thursday, November 27

Thanksgiving Epilogue

Anthony & Elissa pulled together a spectacular feast and everything was amazing. I think my favorite dish of the night might have been the Baked Brie with Apple Compote that Anthony made, if forced to choose. The walnut-blue cheese-cranberry tart turned out really yummy, although not so pretty. Somehow the tart sides were not tall enough so the custard filling covered the top edges. I think I will have to spread the pastry thinner next time across the bottom for taller sides, and I might add a bit more cranberries too.  

To finish off a perfect Thanksgiving day, we counted in Turkey (not Turkish) to blow out the lights tonight at bedtime. And instead of saying "Good night, Mama" Matilda said "Gobble, Gobble Mama!"

Happy Thanksgiving



To get into the spirit this week we did lots of turkey-day related crafts.

Pine cone turkey:

Turkey cards, I forgot to take pictures after I wrote "gobble gobble" on them:

Turkey with pilgrim hat:

Turkey with Indian headdress:

Wednesday, November 26

Rainy Day Entertainment

Matilda's rain boots are finally seeing some action here in dry So Cal. M was more than pleased to go out in search of puddles this morning. 

As far as my rainy day entertainment goes, I recorded every "language" request for Matilda's chomps at lunch time. You know, just for my own amusement, and possibly yours. Generally the "1-2-3-chomp" game is rather infrequent during any given meal. However, with the new discovery of animal languages Matilda asked me to count down for most of her bites at lunch. 

For the record:
  • Squirrel
  • Parakeet (This was confusing since I initially thought she said pancake and was afraid we were venturing into the territory of made up language for inanimate objects. As though that is worse than made up squirrel language.) 
  • Dog
  • Spanish
  • Dog
  • Dog (Murphy specifically)
  • Dog (Cassidy specifically)
  • Dog (Ricky specifically)
  • French twice in a row
  • Parrot (Oakie specifically)
  • Squirrel
  • French
  • Squirrel
  • Spanish
  • German twice in a row
  • French

Tuesday, November 25

C-3PO

Matilda has been increasingly interested in languages lately and has really stepped up her game with learning Spanish words. Everyday she is adding new words and phrases. For a solid week now the Spanish dictionary has been sitting out on our kitchen table because each time I try to shelve it she comes up with another word query that requires research. Besides being so generally exciting  and amazing to witness, it is a bit intimidating since I feel my Spanish skills can't keep up with her pace for long. 

On a related note, we have long played the "1-2-3-Chomp!" game in order to get Matilda re-interested in eating a meal when distracted. Lately she's expanded the game and wants us to count in other languages leading up to her bites. We started with Spanish, and then eventually branched out to German and French, but last night Tim was feeling crazy and decided to count in "Squirrel." Matilda was immediately smitten and now only wants us to count in Squirrel, "chitter chitter, chat, chitter." It is funny for sure, but I am quite sure that being bilingual in English and Squirrel will not land admission to any of the top preschools. 

Monday, November 24

Tim's Christmas List

Tim has sent me several emails recently featuring videos of his new favorite animal, the chicken. I think this bird might have replaced a bulldog as his fantasy pet. He's even been reading up on raising backyard chickens in suburbia. I am sure our apartment building manager wouldn't mind some fresh eggs in exchange for the occasional chicken scrabble in the back patio. Looks like Tim's stocking might be peeping this year!



Sunday, November 23

Onesies


We had a huge batch of new babies born to friends around here in September-October so I started cranking out these customized onesies. I found the idea, along with instructions, a long time ago on a crafting website and bookmarked it for whenever I finally got around to attempting for myself. They were super easy to make and very satisfying. You can even see Nina here modeling hers, and cousin Joshua here. As I was making them I got all inspired for lots of future projects: custom shirts for T, modifying generic cheapie clothes for M, etc. I think once I wade through the Christmas sewing I might get back to these rewarding quickie projects. 

Saturday, November 22

M's Grocery List

Tonight I sat down to make our menu for the week and grocery list in preparation for our last farmers market visit before Thanksgiving. Matilda wanted to make her own list so I set her up with a pen and paper to sit beside me. As she doodled on the sheet, M dictated to me the things she was writing on her list:
  • artichokes
  • tortellini soup (with more artichokes)
  • sparkling water
  • greens (meaning sauteed swiss chard, collards or kale)
  • beets
Sounds like Matilda plans to eat all right this week. As far as Thanksgiving goes, we somehow got out of cooking for the fifth year straight. While I actually really like to cook Thanksgiving with all the delicious sides, I am not complaining at all. We wrangled an invitation to Anthony & Elissa's for dinner and I convinced them I should bring cranberry sauce, a walnut-cranberry-blue cheese tart, and roasted brussel sprouts so I can get my fill of holiday cooking in. 

Friday, November 21

Ladybug

This morning Matilda wanted to wear her ladybug shirt. At the moment I had completely forgotten this ladybug shirt, and convinced her that she didn't have one. Instead we came up with this outfit:
All through lunch she claimed to be eating aphids and has only channelled the grouchy ladybug once or twice today. 

Thursday, November 20

Old McDonald's

Last night we took Uncle Gordie (back in town briefly for a conference) to the oldest operating McDonald's in the world. We had eaten dinner elsewhere, so it was just a dessert trip and Matilda was inexplicably wound up, even before the treats. M hadn't really been to a McDonald's before (only eaten a breakfast sandwich or two in airports over the years). She 's been talking about it today, calling it Old MacDonald's, a bit mixed up with the familiar barnyard song. I can understand her confusion, though, seeing as how it was an old McDonald's.

Uncle Gordie buys a shake, cookie & apple pie at the walk-up window. Matilda spins in anticipation. Checking out the memorabilia in the restaurant's museum. My favorite thing was the big wooden doors carved with the golden arches that originally were at the Hamburger University (I only have terrible pictures of them). Waiting around in front of the windows while Uncle Gordie ordered for us:


Matilda in high gear inside the museum:

Wednesday, November 19

Return of Wonder Woman

Matilda has had a renewed interest in her Halloween costume the past few days and has worn parts of it out for all our recent outings.

Headed to the library for story hour: 
Off to the post office: 
"Flying" on the swings at the playground this morning:

Tuesday, November 18

A Creative Exercise in Patience

Today we did some painting for a Thanksgiving craft project. Matilda will usually last 5 minutes painting with a brush before she has to plunge her hands into the paint. The rest of the painting session then consists of her repeatedly dipping her hands into the paint, rubbing them back and forth to fully experience the texture on her fingers, repeating the hand-in-paint-plunge, with the occasional handprint/smear made on her paper.

Dipping:
 Lathering:
And repeat: 
Usually I let M follow her creative process more while painting. Her handprint technique always results in smearing all the paint colors together in the center of the paper until it is a uniform color and the paper is about to rip from being so soaked with paint. I am not sure why I expected today to be any different, but I was trying to encourage her to fill up the paper with color since I wanted to then cut the painted pages up for another purpose. In the end, the final product came out really nice so I feel bad for being so frustrated with M the whole time we were painting. Next painting session, no over-direction, I promise, and endless smearing handprints are fine.  

Monday, November 17

Smoky Days

The smoky air was better today and we actually ventured outside a few times, but yesterday was the worst air day I can ever remember here. Sunday morning I sent Tim off to the farmers market by himself to avoid the outdoor time for M & I, instead we went to do the indoor grocery shopping. Tim came home verifying how awful it was being outdoors and reported that he saw lots of people at market wearing face masks! In order to stay entertained indoors for the rest of the day we decided to finally venture over to LACMA after years of not visiting. The museum has a great program that allows all kids under 18 in for free, along with one free accompanying adult per visit, and so we were long overdue to take M there. It was a fun visit and encouraged me to go back for more free visits on quiet weekdays (especially before the Vanity Fair portraits exhibit closes).Matilda and Tim look for some caterpillars and wasps in a still life. The bow in Matilda's hair is from a bag of caramels Aunt Lori got us. M has claimed it for her own and wants it in her hair daily now.  Matilda is obsessed with all things Wizard of Oz lately. We listen to the soundtrack many times daily and it is the only bedtime story she's requested for a week or two. The banner above us in this photo was repeated throughout the museum advertising specific exhibits. M claimed the woman with black lace on her face was the Wicked Witch of the West and the Portrait of a Woman looked like Glinda the Good Witch. 

Sunday, November 16

Snowman Milk

This morning at the grocery store I was shocked to find so many kinds of flavored eggnog. I am a huge eggnog fan and do not need extra flavor varieties to tempt me into one more carton. Usually I can hold out until after Thanksgiving before I crumble to the holiday pressure and buy a carton of eggnog. However, this morning I had many weak moments at the store and bought several of frivolous things. As I picked up a carton (regular flavor but the light version - as if it makes a difference with eggnog), Matilda declared "Snowman Milk!" We somehow got through today without drinking any but for sure tomorrow Matilda will have her first taste of this holiday nectar. 

Saturday, November 15

Aerobie Madness & Fires

We went with Sarah & Gaurav to the park yesterday for some aerobie fun & an attempt at kite flying. The kite portion didn't work out, partly because the winds that are so effectively fueling all our wildfires were not particularly strong at that moment, but mostly because Matilda has an irrational fear of kites. She almost started crying at the mention of the kite so Sarah quickly shoved the kite back into her bag and we abandoned that idea. The aerobie, however, was a whole other story. Matilda turned into some kind of aerobie fiend, had so much fun, and I've never seen her so out of breath. M ran around and around chasing the aerobie. Each time she would get possession she would either put it around her neck and fall over (as illustrated below), or take off with it tempting someone to chase her down. I am especially glad we got a good romp in now that we have retreated indoors to hide from all the smoky, stinky air that comes with "fire season." (There aren't any fires close to us, but LA is ringed by wildfires right now so that even inside our apartment you can detect the smell of smoke.) "Yay Sarah, yay!"
video

Friday, November 14

Nearly Halfway

I had high hopes of getting all my sewing related Christmas projects finished before December 1st but I can already see that is a hopeless cause. I am still batting around 2 or 3 ideas for most of the little kids I want to sew for and haven't even started my endless trips to the fabric store. Somehow each project I attempt generally requires at least 2 trips to a craft/fabric shop. For Matilda's Wonder Woman costume alone I went three times (maybe even four, I forget). So if I were to actually finish my Christmas sewing by the end of the month that means I need, on average, one trip daily to Jo-Ann Fabrics.

I also have to admit that the blogging everyday thing has been not-so-bad. I am sure that admitting this is only ammunition for Uncle Brian's continual harassment for more posts but I am kind of shocked by how easy it has been. Who knows how entertaining everyone else finds all these Matilda stories,  but Tim & I are blown away by how funny she is lately. It seems easy to fill blog posts with her funny language development, the new connections she is making and just plain goofy anecdotes from her life. Regardless of how riveting it all is, I am just glad that they are recorded somewhere. An actual paper baby book for M is one of the many goals we have on our to do list before the arrival of "Baby 2." At the rate I am going on the holiday sewing I am positive we will start on that list by late January.

Thursday, November 13

The Great ShakeOut

At 10 a.m. this morning about 5 million people in Southern California will participate in the largest public safety drill in history. The Great ShakeOut, as it has been called, is simulating a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Radio stations will play a soundtrack of rumbling and crashing, schools will have drop, cover and hold drills, many businesses and offices will participate as well. If you want to see how well you know your earthquake preparedness trivia, there is a game to play. There will even be a multi-player game called After Shock starting at 10:02 a.m. to see what happens after the big quake. 

Matilda & I already have plans to be at the playground at 10 a.m. so I figure I should pack some extra diapers, extra water, a first aid kit, and good shoes to walk home with. I mean, maybe, who knows what we really would need. And considering how overdue So Cal is for a major quake it is terrifying to really contemplate too much. I guess it just makes it an extra good day to refresh the earthquake kit and replenish that earthquake cash we are suppose to have on hand. 

Wednesday, November 12

Spoiled

Matilda started asking for treats before breakfast this morning & we reassured her that today is not a treat day. She tried to clarify with specific requested for chocolate chips, ice cream, and cookies but I reiterated that we would be having no treats today as a sort of sugar de-tox. We all got a bit spoiled (in the sugar sense of too many desserts & just the general sense of too much spoiling) around here by my Aunt Lori & Uncle Gordie who just left. It was a really fun visit with a good mix of lazing around time and go-go-action.

Uncle Gordie introduces M to the wonder of Cheetos. She is scowling here not because she doesn't like them, but rather she is in a panic to get more into her already orange fingers. Last cookies before G & L head home.
More evidence of spoiling: G & L came prepared with craft projects. Under their tutelage M produced a couple of Christmas ornaments and four different animal masks. Quite impressive.
Thanks again for all the fun, guys!

Tuesday, November 11

Photographer

Someone else in our house has started taking a severe interest in using the camera. I think a slightly sturdier camera is in her future as she's been running around a bit too recklessly with our good digital camera. Matilda somehow thinks you need to hold the camera one inch from your subject, although we are slowly getting her to pull back for some shots. Here are some of her recent photos (M seems to have picked up an interest in food photography.):
Documenting a delicious cheese plate at Anthony & Elissa's; Matilda is not a cheese fan but ate the entire brick of prickly pear paste that accompanied it. 
Uncle Gordie's hands at the Red Lion. 
Taking a picture so she won't forget the caramel corn Mom agreed to buy her at the end of a long day in the Disney park. 
Wild child, post popcorn in a sugar frenzy. It was not, for the record, her first visit. M just somehow managed to con a friendly employee out of this pin. 


Monday, November 10

That Garbage Can is Not Talking

Today Aunt Lori & Uncle Gordie, visiting from Arizona, took us to California Adventure and we all had a great time. While there we encountered this robotic, talking garbage can that would wander around and interact with kids. Matilda was understandably suspicious of it, but intrigued nonetheless. Right after I stopped filming this video the garbage can approached M, asking for a hug goodbye. I am very sad I did not catch her reaction of almost-terror on video. But almost as good, was that every garbage can we passed for the rest of the day she would say, "That garbage can is not talking."

Sunday, November 9

Matilda's Favorite Soup

This is a major staple in our household & was Matilda's birthday dinner when she turned two. It is super fast to throw together and we never seem to get sick of it.

Tortellini & Artichoke Soup

1 tsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 tsp basil, oregano or italian seasoning or some combination
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups spinach
1 cup water
15 oz can cannellini beans
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
15 oz can diced tomatoes
14 oz can artichoke hearts (I often substitute an entire bag of frozen artichoke hearts)
1 package cheese tortellini
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, bell pepper, seasonings and garlic. Saute 5 minutes or until tender. Add spinach and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Add tortellini and cook until heated thoroughly. Serve with cheese sprinkled on top. 

I am sure I have photos of this soup somewhere but for now all I can find is this one of M eating it. 

Saturday, November 8

Obama and the Food Supply

Over on Ethicurean, a great blog I follow about sustainable food, they have a look at how the Obama administration might address some issues of food policy. It is exciting stuff, with the reminder that we all need to get involved to advocate for changes in our food systems. One simple way to start is by choosing wisely how you spend your food dollars, for example on sustainable, organic, local, or ethically raised foods.

Friday, November 7

Asleep at the Wheel

Last night Matilda fell asleep in her highchair at dinner. I know I have heard of this plenty of times with other kids but never thought I would see the day Matilda (who has always fought off sleep) succumbed to such exhaustion. She had been busy all day running at the zoo and managed to skip her nap so by 6 p.m. when I almost had dinner on the table she was a mess. M ate all her mushrooms, discarding the green beans off her plate, and a few bites of chili before I found her like this with her fingers still in the bowl. (For the record, the huge band-aid on her chin is not as bad as it looks, just covering up a scrape that I  wanted to keep ointment on for a little while.) 

Ten Years?

So instead of an actual post today I am going to just cheat with a link to a post that Tim wrote, celebrating the fact that somehow ten years have passed since we moved to LA. Not sure how that happened but we have managed to pack the time full of fun. Maybe tomorrow I will try to actually write about said fun. 

Thursday, November 6

Our Baby

I haven't really posted about it here, but most of you who know me outside of the internet already know that Matilda will be a big sister sometime next spring. It has been interesting explaining to her about my pregnancy and hearing all the things she comes up with. 

She started adamantly saying "Mama has a baby in her belly!" weeks before we told her. For about 2 weeks she was content with my response that "Well, you used to be in my belly when you were tiny." Then she started insisting that "Mama has a baby in her belly NOW!" when I would try to feed her that line. We saw our pediatrician in the middle of this phase and she commiserated that it was uncanny and that she heard stories like this all the time. (Even that her own daughter had pulled a similar thing.) When we finally did admit to Matilda that there was a baby growing in my belly M claimed it was a baby girl (she is not budging on this stance) and stated that she wanted to sit on the couch and hold her. 

Tonight at bedtime we were all three laying in bed recounting the day, including the names of kids she had played with at the playground. Matilda then asked, "Our baby's name?" I thought it was such a sweet thing to hear since she seemed to have come up with the phrase herself; I don't recall referencing "our baby" and mostly say "the new baby" to her. M then went on to claim the baby had "crawled up in my belly" to grow more. M was also trying to kick the baby (i.e. my belly) because she thinks it is hysterical the baby kicks me sometimes.

Wednesday, November 5

Meatball magic

Albondigas is the Spanish word for meatballs, most commonly made around our house into albondigas soup. Last week while eating the soup Tim & I somehow started using the declaration "albondigas" like it was "abracadabra," pointing and turning each other into meatballs. Matilda was instantly smitten with the game, regardless of the fact that with arms thrown up around our heads in somewhat circular shape we looked nothing like meatballs. She now spends a few minutes of each meal yelling "Albondigas!" and trying to engage us in the meatball game. Hysterics ensue and we eventually have to shut down the game or no eating can get done.




Tuesday, November 4

Historic Day

With all the election talk around here recently Matilda was pretty excited to finally be voting today. She helped Tim with his ballot and even got to feed it into the machine. Tim had the day off so not only did we get a family voting experience, but we got to enjoy this whole exciting day together, as well.
As in this video, Matilda spent most of the afternoon yelling "Barack Obama wins!" She's clearly not shy about sharing her voting preferences.
video

Monday, November 3

Halloween Wrap Up

We took down all the decorations today and the candy pile is slowly being depleted. It seems Halloween is fading fast around here but Matilda is still talking about trick-or-treating everyday. M is especially reminiscent of trick-or-treating as she enjoys her daily allotment of candy. She has chosen M & M's as her treat of choice two days running now (although the Junior Mints were quite well received, too). 

Here she is starting out Halloween night before we hit any houses, a bit hesitant: 
After visiting many houses and eating several candies she is getting into it:
The neighborhood where we went trick-or-treating is on a hill, so most houses had quite a few steps. Matilda was a trooper and hiked all over the place, burning off whatever chocolate she consumed. She did much better than one family I heard walking by us; they were busy making a pact to only go to the houses without steps. That seems to be the epitome of American sloth when you won't walk up 15 steps for a free candy bar. 
High fives for a super hero team-up!
I took this picture the night before Halloween when I finished her costume. I was so excited how it turned out and couldn't wait for her to get up the next day. Now for a breakdown of its construction: the skirt she already had, I just added the stars. We bought the red shirt and I made a Wonder Woman applique for the front of it. I originally was going to make the belt and headband from the shiny fabric that the arm cuffs are done from, but it was so hard to work with I decided to go with the easier yellow cotton fabric. The belt (with detachable "lasso of truth") and the headband both turned out better than I hoped and she is getting a lot of mileage out of them as they have gone to music class and a birthday party already. Not pictured here were her red Baby Legs which I intended to look like Wonder Woman's red boots. After much research it was determined that knee high red boots are outrageously expensive (in toddler or adult sizes) so we had to compromise. 
The bag M decorated for trick or treating and her haul:

Sunday, November 2

Are we getting played?

Tim just yelled this question to me from the bathroom. Matilda has suddenly shown great interest in sitting on the potty, which traditionally has involved Tim or I sitting with her and reading books. We are now five books past toothbrushing/pajama time and we think she might have figured out a new stalling technique. 

In other news, we are 1 day into Nablopomo and I am already posting about potty training. Let's hope I can make it a bit more interesting blogging for the next 28 days straight. 

Saturday, November 1

Happy Halloween

Wonder Woman hopes you had a happy Halloween too!

Candy consumed today by Wonder Woman: 
  • 1/4 of 1 Twizzler at 10 am. She decided she is not such a fan.
  • 1 roll of Smarties (doled out over 2 hours this afternoon)
  • 1 each fun sized M & M's, Skittles, Snickers, Hershey's miniature, Milk Duds and 1 blue sour Twizzler all eaten while trick or treating.
M came home with quite the haul this year. Now, to deal with all the candy. I'm hoping she won't notice that the selection is rapidly shrinking as Mom & Dad "help" enjoy it.
This picture was taken first thing this morning as she put on her costume (sans skirt). She was so excited; it was fantastic to see her big smile as she discovered the costume all finished and laid out for her.