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

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!

 

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.

Playtime: Zimmer Children’s Museum

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Zimmer Children’s Museum
6505 Wilshire Blvd., #100
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Some people are amazing aunts and uncles.  Even before they have their own children, they offer babysitting services, take your kids on fun outings, and give you a break (my sister and her husband are great examples).  We are not those people.  We were married 5 years before R came along, and in that time I can count on one hand how many times we babysat/took our nieces and nephew out for a day to give our siblings a break.  I know, we were big fat turds.  Big fat selfish turds to be exact.

Now that we’re parents we totally get how terrible we were.  Just one afternoon that R can spend with her Auntie and we can just be us is priceless. We decided it was time to change our ways and took one of our nieces out for a fun afternoon with R at the Zimmer.  (BTW-It is MUCH easier to manage a child when you are childless, so if you are not yet parents do that whole babysitting thing NOW!)

This place was perfect for both the 1 year old and 4 year old.  It is like a huge play space that is really centered around imaginative play.  Some of their favorite parts of the museum were the real life jet that they could pretend to fly, the water table games, the pretend grocery store, pretend home complete with fake fireplace, and the ball pit.  There was one room for itty babies to crawl around on gym mats and a snack room with tons of high chairs and a couple of vending machines.  We spent about 2 hours there and we had to convince the 4 year old to leave. It was definitely a fun time had by all, even the very exhausted adults.

A few tips for your trip to the Zimmer:

  • Take your wallet and phone with you and ditch the diaper bag in the snack room cubbies.  You’ll be chasing your child around and those bags are just too annoying to lug around.
  • The museum isn’t marked with a big sign you can see from the street, but is located in a Jewish foundation building on the north side of Wilshire Blvd.
  • There’s a free parking lot if you are visiting the museum.

Hope your trip to the Zimmer is as much fun as ours was!

 

 

 

Parenting Fail: Gel Window Clings

The teacher in me wants to decorate/celebrate every holiday with baby.  So when I found adorable Valentine’s day window gel clings (much like these) in the dollar section of Target, I had to get them.  I got two packs in fact.  Sure I saw the ages 3+ sign on the bottom of the package, but this mom was going to be watching her baby play with them with eagle eyes so I could disregard that label.  “Won’t it be so cute to see R playing with these gel clings? It’ll be a great way for her to practice her fine motor skills.  And, I can put them up high enough so she’ll have to stand up to get them!” (We all know how much she loves hanging around on her bum.)

And it was cute.  For a while…

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Especially that morning she woke up wearing heart pajamas.  For a split second, I thought, “Damn, what an awesome idea this was! She’s standing, she’s excited…She’s EATING THEM!?!” Well, not really, because I was watching her with an eagle eye–remember?

This is when she discovered the game, Let’s Pretend to Eat These So Mom Freaks Out. Here’s how you play: Baby gets up to grab a gel cling and then has to put it just far enough and slowly enough into her mouth that mom has a chance to grab them.  Then mom puts the gel clings higher so baby can’t reach them.  Finally, baby whines until mom moves them down again and the whole process repeats.  This game can bring joy to baby for hours if you have the stamina to play. Mom does not have the stamina to play.

“Where does the parenting fail come in?” you may be wondering at this point.  Well, it comes in a few days later when she wakes up and takes a gigantic poop after a night of really terrible sleep (like waking up every few hours crying kind of sleep).  I open her diaper to find something I think to be undigested bok choy.  I get a little freaked out and call Pop over.  Did she eat a succulent? Is this some kind of mutant poop? After a little more investigating, and rinsing, we find that her poop says “Hug me” and “Too Cute.” It is, in fact, not one, but TWO whole gel clings…

This is about the moment I feel like a failure.  When could this have happened? I try racking my brain to remember.  And then I do.  I’m washing dishes, “watching” her play with gel clings out of the corner of my eagle eye when I see her grab one and try to play our game.  I run over to take it from her but realize there’s actually nothing in her mouth.  “Hmmm…must have put it back on the window,” I think.  Wrong! So, so very wrong.

After a call to poison control and an email to Target, I find that I am lucky she didn’t choke on the clings (I mean she swallowed two at a time!) and that I’ll never know if the clings changing color from red/pink to green in her tummy was toxic or not (I’m guessing so).  Target never got back to me about that question, and poison control was mostly concerned with the asphyxiation potential and her behavior which was totally normal.

So I’m here to tell you, please mind the age labels.  Unless of course, you’re an actual eagle with eagle eyes.

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