Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas, Santa Claus and non-Christians.

I don't believe that there's a god, let alone a god who had a son born in a manger to a virgin, but I really hate to influence children (including my own) by stating that aloud.  So far, I don't think that any of my children are Christian, although that could change and I wouldn't care at all if it did.  Belief systems, in my opinion, are personal.  I don't want to sway you from yours and I sure don't want you to sway me from mine.

Christmas and the gift-giving tradition born out of it, however, presents a dilemma for non-believers who don't want to engage in the hypocrisy associated with so many Christians.   Children are too new to the world to deal with belief/non-belief systems out of the norm, and as No. 1 has reminded me too many times to count as I asked her how she always seemed to end up with Christian boyfriends, "The US is 85% Christian". 

So, when my kids were little way back in the day, I pretended that there was a Santa Claus.  BIG MISTAKE!  No. 1 would say things like, "Why would Santa think I would want something like this?"

As the years went by, I think the kids just enjoyed getting gifts and the fun associated with opening the gifts even if the gifts weren't what they wanted.

Somewhere along the line, I stopped pretending.  The kids were grown and aware of my non-belief, Em's a non-believer as well, and there were/are other venues for everyone.  Then came Astrid.

I fancy myself  her teacher in these early preschool years, although No. 1 and husband are doing an excellent job at ensuring appropriate development, as well.   It's my intent to teach her bible stories along with Aesop's fables and Greek/Roman mythologies.  She's a bit young for that now, IMO, but is totally smitten with Frosty the Snowman.  We watch a 3-minute Frosty video every visit THREE times.  So far, she's not asked about Santa (who appears at the end of the video with Frosty), but I suspect I'll suggest to her that Santa is "the spirit of Christmas" if (and ONLY if) it comes up. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cooking With Small Children.

Astrid LOVES to cook (unlike her mother).  She'll pretend to cook if I don't have a cooking exercise planned for her.  She won't be 2 years old until Feb 7, 2012, so I'm still leary of her impetuousness when it comes to the stovetop.  I read today (on the internet) that anyone with a brain would realize that small children shouldn't be allowed to use the stovetop.  I'm more of the opinion that small children should be taught how to use a stovetop safely, so (for now) she's still watching me flip the pancake while she wears the oven mitts, but I expect her to be safely flipping the pancake under my supervision within say a year if I still have the pleasure of watching her three times/week after her family moves. 

No. 1's inlaws want to buy them a house in their neighborhood before the new baby is born.  This would mean a nice house in a nice neighborhood with a good public school.  It would also mean a longer drive to bring Astrid here. 

So far, we've made cookies, pudding, and pancakes (from mixes).  We've also made play dough (from koolaid) and we'll make jello this week.  We haven't yet made anything from scratch and we haven't yet made anything that requires electricity to mix.   She came early yesterday so No. 1 could make a prenatal appointment, so I figured she wouldn't be so hungry that she couldn't help make her own pancake. 

What are your thoughts on cooking with young children?  If you have children, how old were they before you allowed them to use the stovetop?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Occupy Dallas - October, 2011

Another Occupy sympathizer and I went to downtown Dallas October 5th for a march from Pike's Park to the Federal Reserve Bank building. It was a few hours of effort on our part. That last pic is the sign I made to carry.

We weren't the only old people there by any means, but the crowd was mainly young people. Unlike the last protest marches in which I engaged (probably in the early 1970s), the emphasis here was on respect. We were told by the organizers, "You WILL be nice. You WILL respect the police." Just in case, we were given the number of an attorney to get us out of jail, but the crowd was quite respectful and I don't think there were any arrests that day. Since that day, Occupy set up permanent digs, the police got tired of them and ran them off. Last I heard, folks were working in two-hour shifts to maintain a presence around the clock every day. Dallas has never been a "feel free to use our bathrooms" town, so two hours is pretty standard fare with the getting to and getting home adding to bathroom-free time.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

No. 2 is coming this weekend,

so I figured it's about time I posted the pics from No. 2's October visit. Jetblue has been having some airline flight sales that were just too cheap to ignore.

I broke my camera the night I took the above pics and just this week got a replacement working. I'm thinking that before No. 2 arrives on Saturday I'll post some pics from Occupy Dallas. I support Occupy as much as I support breastfeeding in public, but I don't tend to post much on my politics (outside of the sidebar).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

FINALLY blogging again ... I THINK.

Since having Astrid three times/week for several hours my time has become more limited. There's the time spent before she comes looking around to see if I've left anything dangerous,poisonous,breakable and of sentimental value, or (depending on my energy level) too much work if she got into it. Because I don't have to do the laundry, cleaning, etc. like moms do, I didn't do childproofing beyond plugging the electrical outlets. I'm always with her (except when I'm not).

She'll be 2 years old at the beginning of February and is already long past the "put everything into the mouth" stage. She also seems to understand and heed things like, "This is the only cabinet you can go into." The others are off-limits (due to aforementioned dangerous, poisonous, etc.).

There's the time spent researching and preparing materials for activities and the time spent cleaning up after activities. THIS one was particularly messy and Who Knew food coloring stained skin and nails?

There's the time spent day-dreaming about how I can help her "become all that she can be", the time spent reading reviews on books and materials important to childhood, the time spent ordering them, unpacking them, listening to Em complain, "What did you buy NOW?". Have I mentioned that No. 1 will be having her No. 2 in May of 2012?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, No. 2!

It's the big THREE OH, folks.

As my dad used to say, "It's getting harder and harder to maintain my 39 status."

Anyway, happiest to ya, darlin', as you go to your voice lesson and work at Frankie's.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Baking With Young Children, AKA It's Okay To Eat the Dough.

Yesterday, Astrid and I made cookies from one of those packaged cookie mixes. We'll get around to "from scratch" eventually, but I wanted her first experience to be fast and easy. She's had the Paula Deen Child's Baking Kit for a while now and loves to "play" stir, mix, etc. She's 17 months old now.

No. 1 doesn't garden or bake, so Astrid's experiences in these things come on my watch, which is still M-W-F from (roughly) 11-2. Her swimming experience is mostly while she's here, too, simply because our housing development has a pool, but No. 1 joins us for that. She's quite good at swimming now with the exception of remembering to keep her mouth shut, as she loves to laugh at the fun of it all.

I got all the baking stuff laid out before she came, set out an egg and a stick of butter to warm up, and pulled over to the island the two stools that typically stand at the counter between the kitchen and living room. I removed their "hats" to provide more friction.

We had fun. She was very interested in the process, using her Paula Deen utensils to beat the egg and mix the butter, egg and batter. Of course everything got tasted individually first and she finished up the mixing with her hands (which I do myself on occasion).

She's one of those bakers who likes to eat the dough as much as the cookies. I was a little worried about that (as well as the raw egg), but it turns out that both are myths unless the egg is "bad", which we'd probably notice.






Since it's WAY too hot to bake, I used the convection oven's bake feature and small pans. I was afraid to let Astrid near the hot pans, so laid out the cookies on cooling racks where she could test each for proper temperature by giving them a lick.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Gardener in Training.

Planting petunia seeds in window boxes.

Step 1: Wash the window boxes. Astrid LOVES any activity that involves washing (or water).


She got them "squeaky" clean.


Step 2: Add soil.


Step 3: Add seeds.


Step 4: Water.


Saturday, April 02, 2011

Garden 2011 has begun.

Actually, I'm hoping to complete it tomorrow morning.

Local stores didn't get seed starter in time to do peppers and tomatoes this year, so I chose to order transplants from Seed Savers Exchange.

I ordered 12 tomatoes and 6 peppers. My very first planting this morning was a Mexico Midget tomato ... which BROKE while transplanting. Quite the send-off to the day. I left the plant in the ground and left room for it to continue to grow as though garden fairies would bless my intent.

I ordered 6 tomatoes I thought I wanted and ordered a surprise 6 as well. Oddly enough, I didn't get any duplicates ... meaning I broke my ONLY Mexico Midget. For peppers, I ordered a surprise 6, too.
I have one raised bed this year and space around the fences for gardening purposes. I hired Ken to help me clean up last year's mess and dig in the raised bed. Em helped me amend the soil along the fences.

I bought some heirloom seeds which included round carrots, long red carrots, patty-pan squash, AKA early white bush scallop squash and a few other things. The garden will only have patty-pan squash this year in the squash family. I'm just not into the squash bug problems and these things don't seem to suffer from them.

Spent some $$ on red tomato towers from Gardener's Supply Company and also bought some red recycled rubber edging for everything so Em doesn't have to trim and can just mow the grass in the yard. These things should last as long as I last.

STILL using some seeds that Diane sent me through the years, too. Thanks, Diane!

Pictures will be coming in future gardening posts. I have high hopes for this year.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

End of Astrid's First Year. BIRTHDAY!

Astrid's 1st year birthday was held here yesterday. Fortunately, it was the ONE day where milder weather allowed folks to get around easily outside. We'd had ice storms followed by snow the past week. We're even scheduled to have more snow today and even more this week. This is NOT normal weather for Texas. Her birthday is tomorrow, but Em says her birthday will always be Superbowl Day (as it was when she was born).

She started off by showing Grandpa Blue "her" room.


No. 1 was looking exceptionally cute, I thought.


She helped open the birthday gifts while daddy took pictures. The popper was my gift to Astrid. Em made it clear that it was to go home with her, but that was the plan all along.


We had lunch before dessert and most everyone wore silly hats. As expected, Astrid didn't like the feel of the hat.


Ba Ba Blue (her other grandmother) made a lovely centerpiece that was also fun to play with.


Took me two days to get the cupcakes right (never trust a recipe!), but they came out tasty and even pretty good looking after some research. With healthier eating/less sugar in mind, I made whole wheat carrot cupcakes with a whipped cream/cream cheese frosting. Ba Ba Blue brought ice cream which Astrid thought much too cold to eat. She thought the cupcake was fun, though, and even good enough to eat.


We did a little reading of one of the new books, but there was SO MUCH TO DO and so little time.



Grandpa Blue helped out with new puzzles and other toys.


She's a lucky girl with two sets of grandparents who love her and regularly spend time with her.


Never thought I was the type, but I'm really enjoying this gig as Mormor.