What Gender are Unicorns?

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This is a serious question folks.  Everyone knows it’s NOT okay to have a gender specific theme for your child’s nursery.  If you do choose to live in the 50’s and paint your daughter’s bedroom pink, you’re basically saying, “hey, you’re a girl!” And there is something very wrong with that in our world.

I definitely fell into this gender neutral ideal of raising your baby.  If eliminating pink, dolls, and frills was going to make my daughter a stronger more empowered human being, I was in! We painted our nursery green, I wanted a mermaid theme but thought, “no, no, what kind of message would that send?” So we went for baby animals instead.  Gender neutral baby animals to be exact.  Is that a boy cub or a girl cub? No matter, cubs are equal in their abilities and potential, amirite?

The problem I found with this whole gender neutral approach is that it almost makes being a girl taboo.  Not that pink, dolls, and frills equal girl, but these are things generally associated with girl interests (doesn’t mean it is ALL that interests a girl though).  So in my quest for gender neutrality, I found boy things for girls were A-OK, boy things for boys were good too, but girl things for girls or boys…BAD!

I don’t think it really hit me until I saw this unicorn head at Target.  I really wanted to buy it for R’s room (not that it had any place in her baby animal theme).  Then I thought, “unicorns are definitely girly right? That means I can never buy it.  Why can’t I buy something girly? Why is it bad to be a girl? My daughter loves playing with dolls and strolling them  in carriages at other people’s houses, why am I denying her of imaginative play that interests her? She gets giddy when we take things out of shopping bags, do boys do this? Should I discourage it? …When did being a strong woman mean denying your womanhood?”

This $20 unicorn head  made me question everything! Which led me to this conclusion:

Screw Gender Neutral! Let your child be who they are.  Guess what? If you paint your girl’s room in trucks and race cars that’s for you, not her.  You may as well like what her nursery looks like before she changes it all up with her own opinions and preferences.  Cause your child WILL have her own opinions and preferences.

*I did not buy the unicorn

Stuff Your Face: Poppy + Rose

If I had two daughters I’d totally want to name one Poppy since I already have a Rose.  Floral themed offspring names, SO cute!  This may be one of the reasons we ventured to downtown to check out Poppy + Rose (not really).  The other, more important reason was the fried chicken (really).

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Poppy + Rose is aptly named since it is located in the middle of Los Angeles’ flower district, right next to the Flower Mart.  On Saturdays there’s a small farmer’s market out front which makes parking a little difficult.  The meters in the neighborhood are a whopping $4 per hour and 2 hour max.  The restaurant website says they validate structure parking, but I was not into trying to find where that particular lot was. We ended up parking on a nearby rooftop lot for $5 (beware: many lots advertise a $5 rate but add conditions like ‘not on Saturdays or for special events’).

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flowers everywhere

What we ordered:

Two Egg Breakfast Plate $9.50

Buttermilk Fried Chicken + Waffle $13

Plain Bagel + Cream Cheese $4

Two Coffees $5

Fresh Squeezed OJ $3.50

For about $40 we had a great meal.  Well, two of us did.  One of us just snacked on puffs and tried escaping her high chair the whole time.

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Couldn’t resist a close up of the super crispy batter.  How can you go wrong with fried chicken first thing in the morning? Added bonus: they make their own hot sauce that is delicious on these fried birds.

While the food wasn’t out of this world, and the location is a bit tricky for us Valley kids to get to, it was a nice place to spend a Saturday morning with our little family.  This place is no fuss, you order when you walk in and there’s plenty of seating + high chairs.  The service is great (we got a few refills on coffee without even having to ask), and the crowd is not pretentious hipster so you can definitely take your loud little ones without feeling like you’re intruding.

Because lord knows, the only moment of peace we got during breakfast was this photograph of flowers being still:

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Poppy + Rose
765 Wall St
Los Angeles, CA90014

(213) 995-7799

 

 

Parenting Fail: When Mealtimes Become Sensory Play and Mommy Loses It

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Parents of toddlers/older babies know what I’m talking about.  You sit down to a healthy balanced meal that you poured lots of thought and energy into making.  It smells delicious, it looks beautiful.  You go to give your child a taste and the dreaded locked mouth makes an appearance.  You decide maybe your toddler wants to feed herself, so you spoon some pieces onto the table for her.  She picks it up slowly.  She inches it toward her mouth.  You have hope that she will love your food.  But it never makes it into her mouth, for she’s already thrown it onto the floor.  I can normally roll with this, but after a full day week of this at EVERY mealtime, I’m all out of patience.

I cannot just let my child subsist on crumbs here an there.  NO! I can’t let her wither away into skin and bones! Doesn’t she know that she needs food to grow and develop? The answer is no. No, she does not know.  So when she smashed her food all over her tray and made it rain salmon and peas all around her, I lost it.  And then I felt awful.  “NO WE DO NOT THROW OUR FOOD ALL OVER THE FLOOR!!!” I said it so loudly that I startled her.  It was the second time in two days that I did this.  Nothing I had been doing was working and I was at my wits end.  I’m sure you’re judging me right now, so I want to share with you all the things I tried before I lost it.

Things I’ve tried:

  1. Redirecting the food throwing. “R, will you put that pea in the bowl?  Good job!” This works if she’s merely throwing food, and not smashing it as well.
  2. Simultaneous feeding.  “Can you feed that to mommy? I’ll feed you this at the same time.” This used to work, but no longer.
  3. Giving her utensils to attempt to feed herself.  This does not work.  She becomes wrapped up in moving the food around the table with her fork/spoon that she never eats a bite.
  4. Giving her her favorite foods every time.  This works temporarily, until her favorite foods lose their luster.
  5. Taking the tray away when she starts throwing food. This just makes her mad
  6. Taking the food from her tray the moment she starts smashing it around and ending mealtime.  This makes her happy, but then stresses me out because she hasn’t eaten a DAMN thing.
  7. Raising my voice.  “STOP SMASHING FOOD!!!” This does NOT work, and only makes me cry tears of regret afterward.

This challenge has brought up an issue I think will be huge for us in the near future–discipline.  What does caring discipline look like? What does it look like at each age?  I fear that my teaching background has caused me to expect way too much from my 15 month old and need to take it down a notch.  My hope is that I haven’t somehow damaged her with inconsistency and loony behavior on my end.  Here’s to keeping calm and carrying on!

 

Coffee Klatch: Bonavita Coffee Maker

After 12 Valentine’s Days together, the usual jewelry and flowers kind of gets predictable.  So this year we opted for a mutual gift that we could both enjoy for years to come–a new coffee maker.  IMG_5288.JPG

You read that right.  We got each other a Bonavita coffee maker.  This is perfect for us since we are a) always tired and b) LOVE a good brew.  There was nothing wrong with our old one, we just wanted a bit of an upgrade.  It was definitely a treat yo’self type of purchase.  In my opinion, there’s no better way to give gifts.  Gifts are all about what you want, not what you need.

Because S is such a logical man, he created a taste test for us the first time we used it.  He brewed the exact same coffee in our old and new machine and poured them for me to decide which one I preferred.  Let me just say, that I could hardly tell the difference and when pushed to make a choice, I chose the old coffee maker.  (fail)  Obviously I’m not as sophisticated of a coffee drinker as I think I am.

While I love the new machine, there are a couple drawbacks that I’ll share with you if you’re considering a Bonavita for yourself. 1) the lid to the pot is really hard to assemble.  2) it’s difficult to get the last ounce or two out of the pot as it catches on the curve of the pot and doesn’t pour out easily.  Other than those two things, it looks great and pours a delicious cup of joe.

Next on our coffee crazed shopping list: an automatic burr grinder.

 

Finger Foods: Tuna Cheddar Bites

I never thought I’d have a go-to repertoire of finger food recipes, but I do.  These recipes aren’t for cocktail parties either, though I could use a cocktail while I serve them to my toddler.  Nope, ever since the Little decided she didn’t want to be spoon fed and started using utensils like drumsticks, I’ve resorted to finding as many healthy finger food recipes as I can.

Here’s one that is hit or miss for R, but I keep making them because I LOVE them! It’s a recipe I found at Simple Bites, and it’s SO yummy! These Tuna Cheddar Bites are simple to make and use some pantry essentials so you probably don’t have to go to the store to get ingredients. Here’s the last remaining Bite after mommy devoured the rest.

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Here’s the Recipe from Simple Bites:
Ingredients
1 170g can of tuna, drained
1/3 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
2 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Instructions
Preheat oven to 325F and lightly grease a 12-cup mini muffin tin.
Put the drained tuna into a bowl and use a wooden spoon to break it apart into very small flakes. Mix in the sour cream, tomato paste, sweet onion and parsley.
In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and the salt. Add them to the tuna mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the cheese and mix.
Divide the mixture between the mini muffin cups; I used a 1 1/2 Tablespoon ice cream scoop. Bake tuna cheddar bites for 15-17 minutes or until they are set.
Remove bites from oven and let stand in the tins for 5 minutes. Use a sharp knife or offset spatula to loosen around the edges of the bites and remove them from the tin. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
Notes
These bites reheat beautifully, which means you can double up on a batch and freeze half for quick lunch fixes. To reheat: bake from frozen at 350F for 12-15 minutes.

*I swapped Italian parsley for cilantro, and added greek yogurt instead of the sour cream.  And guess what? It was delicious.

Some days R can eat a few of these, and some days she’ll just take a nibble.  Toddlers are fickle about foods, so try these out and see what yours thinks.  If they don’t like it, you’ve got a delicious protein packed treat for yourself.

DIY: Fizzy Play for Toddlers

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Toddlers have an insatiable curiosity about the world.  This one does anyway.  She wants to open every drawer and cupboard to see what’s inside, eat every dust bunny to see what it tastes like, climb every surface to see what it’s like to be on top.  That’s why no matter how many toys she has, she will always be bored with them.  Right now she prefers activities that allow her to explore something new.   It’s not hard to do since almost everything is new to you if you’re 14 months old.  Just this morning I gave her a potato masher and that occupied her long enough for me to heat up her breakfast.

Sometimes though, just handing her a random kitchen utensil doesn’t quite do it.  That’s when you gotta get a little more creative.  Pinterest is an awesome resource when you just can’t think of something to do.  I had been wanting to do some exploration with R using baking soda and vinegar and saw many different ways to do this on different blogs.  Because I love easy clean up I decided to meld a few different approaches into one.  It was super easy to set up/clean up and kept R entertained for a good 10 minutes solo.

Here are the materials you need to set it up for yourself:

  • a sheet or towel to cover the floor
  • a big shallow tub to catch spills (there WILL be spills)
  • a few paper/plastic cups
  • Crayola color bath dropz
  • vinegar
  • baking soda
  • a spoon
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The essentials

*Most of these items you’ll find you already have, the only thing you may need to buy are the bath dropz.  I chose to use these because most other tutorials used food coloring which stains fingers for a while.  Since these bath dropz are intended for colored bath water, they only discolor fingers for a little while and wash clear quickly.  I told you, I hate messes.

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All you need to do for this activity is pour vinegar into paper cups and add a bath drop into each cup to change its color.  Then show your little one how to spoon vinegar into each cup to make it fizz different colors.  They’ll be engaged in the spooning for a while.  For us, it eventually turned into tipping all the cups over and making a rainbow water trough, but that’s fun too.

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This activity is great for the developing thinking and fine motor skills.  It helps them learn about cause and effect (fizzing action and color mixing), and helps their little fingers and hands master that pesky skill of spooning small things into containers (great practice for self feeding).  If you wanted to work on pincer grasp you could reverse the process by giving them a dropper of vinegar to add to cups filled with baking soda. So many different ways you can approach this super simple activity.  Get creative, and go find out what works for you!

More Blueberries, Please

Ever since Little Lady was born it’s been a challenge to feed her.  Whether from breast, bottle, spoon or fork, this has been our major struggle.  She is many wonderful things, but “good eater” is not one of them.  Because she’s inherited my lovely chubby cheeks, people think she’s just fine, but I completely disagree.

On the week that she turned 1, Little Lady realized that she was in control.  Gone were the days of mommy shoving a bottle into her mouth to try and get to that magic 16 ounce minimum of formula.  Gone were the days of tricking her into opening her mouth for an extra spoonful of oatmeal.  She could shake her head ‘no’ and purse her lips shut.  She decided that she didn’t want to drink anything for a week and there was nothing I could do to change her mind.

Since that week, it has been an on again off again struggle to get her to eat/drink what I’ve read to be the recommended amount of calories per day for a one year old.  In case you’re wondering, that number is 900.  I’m pretty sure Little Lady maxes out at 500.  But maybe I’m underestimating. You be the judge. Take a look at what she typically eats for breakfast, morning snack, and lunch.

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She pretty much just ate blueberries for the first 6 hours of her day.  Sigh…

Now here’s lunch:

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Now, I’ve read a few things stating that forcing a child to finish their food causes eating issues down the line.  So what’s a mama to do?  No, seriously…I have no idea.  I’m pretty much letting her dictate when she’s done eating, but that is not coinciding with the whole recommended calories thing.  Should I trust that she knows when she’s full? Or should I try to coax her into taking one more bite? For now, I’m just going to buy some more blueberries.