Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm Just Trying to Keep My Head Above Water...

It's been a rough week. It always is when I return to work after staying home with Munch. It's hard getting up around 5 (7 AM would be so much nicer!), then slogging through the hour and half on the road to drop Munch at daycare, just barely making it before the bell and the kids walk in the classroom door. And of course it's report card time, meaning lots and lots of assessment and paper shuffling. And I finally got around to the blood work my doctor's been requesting. I've been avoiding it because I know I've been struggling with my blood sugars. And all of it just makes me stress so much that my emotions are a total roller coaster.
So, when my head started aching and my throat felt sore on Wednesday, I gave in and called for a sub. There wasn't much rest happening though, since the Munchkin was home. But later that evening, while she waited for AudioDad to help her get ready for bed, Munch climbed onto my bed for a quick snuggle. I asked her what she liked best about her day and she replied, "Staying home with you, Mommy" then she patted my head, took my face in her hands, and gave me a big kiss on the forehead. Just when I'm at my wit's end, she somehow makes it all better again.
PS- She and I are much better now, thank you (and thanks to lots of Sudafed and Tylenol!) And, AudioDad and I are headed off to see Wicked tomorrow!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Munch's Little Pal- Thank you Aunt Lynn!

Aunt Lynn and the Munchkin's Colorado cousins


Aunt Lynn is a regular reader (and commenter- yay!) on this blog. She's the oldest of AudioDad's six siblings (he's the youngest). And she regularly sends Munch mail, which she adores! So this Valentine's Day, a card arrived with a bit of cash for the Munchkin to go shopping for something fun. We happened to be headed to the Pacific East Mall again, which has a little "Hello Kitty" type shop, so I promised Munch I'd take her there to buy her special gift from Aunt Lynn. After a lunch of her favorite shrimp dumplings, Munch carefully put her money in her pocket and we headed off to shop. She looked through the bins and mulled over the umbrellas, dish sets, pencils, little notepads, hair accessories, and other cute gadgets. But once she hit the display of stuffed animals, she immediately zeroed in on a fat, gray penguin. Nothing else existed- she had to take him home.
The two of them have been inseparable ever since. He accompanied us to the doctor's yesterday, where we confirmed that Munch's developed an ear infection. Munch has announced to me that he lives in the South Pole. He helped water plants in the garden today. She even snuggles her little penguin at bedtime, which is a big deal because she never quite adopted a "lovey" as a baby. We originally named him Flippy, because of his flippers, but today (who knows where it came from) she embellished a little bit-
Introducing "Flippy Inguinos"-

Thank you Aunt Lynn- We love you!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Muffin "Tin" Meal

Between Munch's habit of stretching out mealtimes to intolerable lengths (she chews and chews and chews, but takes forever to swallow her food) and her recent lack of appetite because of her cold, I was desperate to change up the dinner table vibe. Last week, we had a picnic at her play table. Everyone used animal chopsticks and I put her campanelle pasta in a parfait glass.
This week I discovered Muffin Tin Meals on the blog, Her Cup Overfloweth. It's a cute idea- we know how kids love having their food in separate compartments. And I just finished reading Bento Box in the Heartland by Linda Furiya, whose columns I enjoyed in the food section of the SF Chronicle, so I'm already inspired by the whole bento idea- thank goodness we're headed to the Pacific East Mall again so I can find some cute mealtime accessories (particularly some safer food picks!). And, for her birthday, Munch received an adorable cupcake making set which just happens to have a mini-muffin pan- the perfect size for her lunch. It just was meant to be...
So without further ado, my first muffin tin meal-

I repeated several components just because the portions were so tiny. Basically it's matchstick-cut carrots, raspberry yogurt, cubed apples, green peas, and rolled turkey slices.

I'm pleased to say, the Munchkin loved it. It also helped that I filled several compartments with her beloved green peas-those were the first to get gobbled up, with requests for more! Gotta love that girl!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Croak!


Poor Munchkin! After schlepping her all over the bay (our fun day in the city, then off to the grandparents, then errands around the Napa Valley the day after that), she came down with a nighttime cough and slept terribly for a couple of days. During the day, the cough subsided a bit, but was replaced with a bit of laryngitis. It was actually a little bit funny- she kept chatting (and singing) away anyway and most times sounded a lot like Donald Duck. Most disappointing was that she had absolutely NO appetite (unless ice cream was involved, which it was) because we were surrounded by some really great food. I had been anticipating our Napa trip all weekend because I had decided we'd go to Oxbow Market for lunch.
I've been wanting to try Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, which sold amazing looking Venezuelan sandwiches, and Three Twins Organic Ice Cream ever since my first visit to the market. So while Munch nibbled bites of her lunch, I happily enjoyed my chicken salad filled arepa and my sister had one filled with slices of steak and plantain. The yucca fries with a black bean dip were amazing- even better than Taylor's sweet potato fries (which I love)! Munch had a Maize'wich- basically a grilled cheese made with a slightly sweet corn "bread"- the Monterey Jack was so melty and delicious!
It was much too cold and rainy, but during the summer I'd certainly order the frozen coconut lemonade that they let us sample- Munch loved it and wanted more, but I knew that there was ice cream in her future! Once lunch was done, off we went to Three Twins. Munch had a scoop of an amazing Madagascar Vanilla and I had one called "Lemon Cookie".
Next we headed to the cheese shop where we sampled several great cheeses (the Munchkin and I love cheese shops!) and picked up a few treats for supper. My favorite finds were a cheese called Robiola and a tiny jar of black truffle honey. Later that evening I fixed up a beet and orange salad for AudioDad and I and everyone enjoyed the cheese course-

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Two Valentines


We spent Valentine's Day playing tourist in San Francisco. The ferry is not too far from us and it's such a convenient way to get into the city. We took a high-speed commuter ferry and until we reached the harbor, it was a fairly quick and smooth ride in. The few rolling bumps we did get, Munch loved because they reminded her of a roller coaster.

We disembarked at Pier 39/Fishermans' Wharf. It's been ages since I was last in that area. The plan was to go to the aquarium on the wharf, but it was lunchtime and I happened to spot a Rainforest Cafe- we've never been, so how could I pass that up? It would certainly be a memorable lunch for Munch. She loved all the animals that we saw upon entering and there was a huge waterfall in the main dining room. AudioDad thought it reminded him of something you'd see in Vegas. The food turned out to be decent for a theme/chain restaurant- I actually really liked the lettuce wraps I ordered (they're on the appetizer menu). The only thing Viv didn't like was that the gorillas went a little crazy every fifteen minutes or so-


Next we headed over to see the famous sea lions that bask on the wharf. Munch and AudioDad have this thing where they make "ork, ork" noises at each other, but Munch has never really seen the real thing-

Next stop was the aquarium. Their main attraction is a series of underwater tunnels- the Munchkin kept asking where the whales were as she hopped back and forth between the parallel moving and regular walkways.

And we loved the touch tanks- most larger aquariums are always so crowded, Munch hardly gets a chance to explore. Here we were able to spend a good chunk of time, and Munch was able to see and touch the animals we've been reading about in one of her books about tidepools.

Since it was early and our return ferry wasn't for a couple of hours, we walked down the Embarcadero to the SF Ferry Building/Marketplace. It's home to a weekly farmers' market, several outposts of good restaurants, and other delicious food merchants. Munch and I were especially looking forward to some gelato from Ciao Bella. She got the Scharffenberger chocolate, AudioDad picked the cookies & cream, and I got a sampler of several flavors- zabaglione (my standard here), key lime with graham cracker bits (yum!), and an incredible pear sorbetto.

We did a little more wandering in the kitchenware and bookstore before boarding the ferry home-

Sunday, February 15, 2009

You're So Crafty!

Ever since Munch was little, she's liked doing projects. While play-doh and drawing are relatively new interests, she's been hooked on stickers and those adhesive foam shapes for a while. She loves gluing shapes I cut out and it's been interesting to see how she arranges things. Lately, I've been teaching her to cut with scissors and she's finally mastered writing her name.

All her artwork gets displayed on the wall next to our dining table.

But I recently picked up a great idea on Oprah where they suggested photographing the art and using an online photo printing service to bind it into a book. It's a great way to keep the art on our wall fresh, but still "keep" the older things. Here's a few of my favorites-
This is one of her first- Munch made it at a Gymboree art class when she was about 2. I like it because it reminds me of a field of flowers (or kites).

This is our crab picture. I love using paper plates for projects. We also tried out those Crayola Colorslicks- they're kind of like an oil pastel.

A piece from her "feather" phase! Also, she just got her first set of rubber stamps.

More paper plate art- but this time, we brought out the watercolors too!

This came home from preschool a couple of months ago. It's your basic apple print, but I find it funny because she took one look at those apple halves and assumed it was snacktime!

More food art- can you tell she's my kid? When we started working on cutting skills, she wanted to make a hot dog!

Newest of all- a portrait of us!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Have A Heart

I'm not one to go all out for Valentine's Day in general. Between the parties at school and being bombarded with ads during the weeks prior, I'm usually over it by the time I dismiss the kids. But having the Munchkin to share in the fun has renewed the holiday for me just a bit. Since today was a Staff Development Day, I was able to get home a little earlier and we made these yummy red velvet cupcakes-


The recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite blogs. These cupcakes had a great cocoa flavor. Although I find the overtly red versions pretty off-putting, I probably didn't put in enough food color in my batter because once they were baked, you really couldn't see even the slightest hint of red. We had a great time decorating them with heart shaped sprinkles and we even made a Valentine's Day craft for the grandparents-


I got the idea from one a student made me. The tissue paper squares are actually glued onto a piece of plastic film (I just set it against the purple background for contrast) and Munch got good use out of her new dot markers and her favorite sticky foam shapes. My initial impression with her careful use of paintbrush and glue (she would lightly dip, carefully brush a bit onto the tissue paper square, then add a dab onto the plastic before attaching the two) went out the window after I stepped a few feet away to get dinner going. She was happily working when I suddenly heard, "I'm stuck!" Turns out she decided to paint her face, hands, and arms with glue in squiggly and happy face designs!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You Can't Go Wrong With Chocolate...

The Munchkin has really been something else these last few days. She's just been so chatty, bubbly, and will not stop dancing and singing EVERYWHERE she goes. Truth be told, it's driving me a little bonkers. Her most recent performance took place in the produce department. So when she woke up this morning and insisted on a chocolate breakfast, I gave her the "you're really pushing it" look. But when she responded brightly with, "But mom, you can't go wrong with chocolate", what could I say? I mean, the girl IS right (even though I have no idea where she comes up with this stuff...) so, after I whisked up a batch of hot chocolate on the stove, I popped a batch of our favorite chocolate chip scones into the oven-


After a few sips and nibbles, she danced off to start her day-


Chocolate Chip Scones
2 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a bowl. Add the chocolate chips and toss to combine. Add the cream all at once and mix until you have a "shaggy" dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead gently a few turns until dough is smooth. Pat dough into a rectangle and cut into 12 pieces. Bake at 425 degrees for about 16 minutes until golden brown. Plan to enjoy these all the day they are baked- they get stale quickly.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More Birthday Fun!

With all of the excitement over the pony party, I forgot I'd taken these photos on Munch's actual birthday. She's been really into imaginative play with her dolls lately- especially playing preschool, so when I found this playset, I just couldn't resist! That, and I realized our plan to get her a new, "big kid", twin bed for her birthday left Munch with nothing to open on her special day!


Thank goodness I have a little girl, because these Calico Critters playsets are absolutely adorable! The teeny-tiny figures are just amazing- check out the miniature drum set- and those itty bitty drumsticks? They are separate from the drum, not attached!


At our house, the birthday celebrant gets their favorite meal for dinner. AudioDad always gets meatloaf and usually, an apple pie instead of cake. Munch chose mac and cheese with peas.


For dessert, I picked up an adorable little princess cake with pink marzipan instead of green-



if you're not familiar with the princess cake, it's basically a light cake layered with whipped cream and jam, covered in marzipan. It's light, sweet, and just delicious!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's Party Time!


After weeks of planning, preparation, and hearing Munch ask, "Is my pony party today?" I could finally tell her "Yes! Today's your pony party day!" We were blessed with gorgeous weather- warm sun and temps in the 60s-70s. I spent the morning getting all the snacks made- fruit salad, tiny "pigs in a blanket" made with Little Smokies, cream cheese and jam sandwiches cut into triangles with the crusts removed, and mini sweet potato biscuits spread with apple butter or mustard and stuffed with thinly sliced ham.
Once we got to the farm, we set up the table of snacks. We put out the goodie bags that Munch helped to stuff and decorate and we set out the sprinkles and icing for cookie-decorating. Munch was thrilled once the bounce house was inflated! The ponies arrived and the kids took turns getting a ride-



while they waited their turn, they went in the jumpy-



played on the play structure-



and decorated pony cookies-



After a snack, we headed to the petting zoo-



then opened presents



and had cake


It was a wonderful, happy day!
There was an error in this gadget