Monday, April 21, 2014

Chi-Chi Cocktail Hour

Remember South Park? The cartoon with the foul mouthed kids. Well the hubby and I still watch it. It's not on the DVR, but when we see it's on we watch it.  Recently the hubby watched an episode he really wanted me to see because there was a drink on there he wanted us to try.

I finally caught it and as usual it cracked me up. In this episode Butters returns to his "native"  land Hawaii. All the "natives" drink a special drink called a chi-chi in a coconut. The drink is made from coconut milk, pineapple juice and Vodka.

The hubby couldn't stop talking about how tasty it sounded and how much he wanted to try it. Being the good wife I am. I went out and bought all the ingredients including fresh coconuts to pour our drinks into.

Saturday night after Animal went to bed, I googled chi-chi recipe and found several recipes along with some fun facts. Like the chi-chi was once a popular cocktail and has recently started to see a comeback (because of South Park? I wondered). Also if you happen to have piƱa colada mix, all you need is to add some vodka for an instant chi-chi! Lastly most recipes call for coconut cream, not coconut milk.

Here's the recipe I made:

1 measure vodka
4 measures pineapple juice
1 measure coconut milk
Blend with ice, then pour into your coconut and add a straw. Enjoy!

This cocktail is great! It's creamy, sweet and the perfect amount of liquor. You know, not so sweet you wonder if someone forgot to add the spirit, and not so strong you wonder why you bothered getting a drink instead of a shot. Even my dad drank one. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but he rarely drinks, so this was a big deal to me. Added fun, when your done you can scoop out the tender coconut meat and eat. Double yum!

This drink was so good in fact, we're cooking up a plan for a chi-chi night. The hubby wants to BBQ pig, and I'm wondering if I should find a Tiki bar. This is an excellent drink to make a pitcher (or 2) and just refill the guest coconuts. Very low maintenance summer night drink.

I can't wait to host now that I have a back yard. With potential to be lovely backyard.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Do It Too

You know what really chaps me hide?

When a kid is crying and a well meaning adult says, "You don't need to cry about that". Or some variant sentence that means shut it down. It bothers me so much.

The worst part is I do it too.

Children cry for so many reasons. Sadness, confusion, feeling misunderstood, left out, scared, exhaustion, to release pent up energy. Why do we devalue their feelings? Why for our own comfort or sanity do we ask them to bottle up their too big emotions? Sure sometimes the little buggers are just trying to manipulate us into giving them their way. Of course we should not give in to the tears, but why not just let them cry? What's the real harm? Is there real harm?

I know it grates on your nerves, as it does mine, when your little person is crying cuz it's nap time/diaper changing time/ time to turn off the God forsaken Bubble Guppies, but can't we just send them to cry in their room/a chair/or some other area when we can't tune them out?

Could our need to stop their tears come from our desire to spare them pain?

OR...

Do you hate cry babies too?

I really hate whining. I don't want my kid to be a whiner and I don't want him to cry over every little thing. Sometimes life is disappointing. Sometimes people are assholes. Sometimes you gotta just get on with your life and not care about every little thing.

Plus there are better ways to deal with things than sitting and crying. Better ways to ask for what you want.

The thing is don't you need to cry, to learn that doesn't solve the problem? Or to see tears don't make people do what you want. They (our children) are just learning by trial and error.

Just like we understand we'll be changing many, many, many soiled diapers, then washing many wet (please only wet) underwear, pants and floors before finally graduating to, in the toilet every time.

Lest you think this analogy doesn't apply, I'm not saying that you'll listen to all this whining and crying till your child finally learns to control their emotions and then it's over. Home free. No. I'm not saying that, I'm saying just like with potty training, it gets better. There will still be surprises and hiccups, maybe even lifelong ones.

Just like with potty training, I need to have some patience and I would wager I'm not the only one.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Buying Children's Books Cheap

Acquiring an assortment of books for your child(ren) can get very, very expensive quickly. In order to do so on a budget will require some thought and planning on your part, but can certainly be done. Here are a few helpful tips on building a library for your home.

1. Buy (or get) used. Garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, craigslist, freecycle, friends, family (because fellow book lovers hate to get rid of books, but love to pass them on to a new home) and even your local library. They are all great places to find gently loved books. Kids don't mind a few scribbles or a bent corner. They only care about the chance to read a new story with you.

2. Check out the bargain section at your local big box store. You can often get some great hardcovers for as much as 90% off retail price.

3. Costco has an amazing assortment of books for all ages. Instead of buying those giant delicious (and alarmingly addicting) muffins pick up a new book for the kids. Also why not let them look through while you finish your shopping so you can get through your shopping list little faster (expert tip: if thumbing through the pictures doesn't keep their interest, don't buy it).

4. Add books to wish lists and registries. We added all our favorites (that I hadn't already purchased) to our baby registry. Not everyone can afford the crib bedding or stroller you're dying to get, and those bottles, pacifiers and bibs are snatched up quick, what can a well meaning acquaintance pick up? How about a hardcover of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. I love to gift books to all the children in my life and while I'm fortunate enough to work with young children and know what most preschoolers are into I have a harder time shopping for teeny boppers, so a tip from parents is especially helpful.

5. Lastly my favorite, Scholastic Book Clubs. Remember those awesome flyer's that you used to get sent home monthly when you were a kid, with all your favorite Judy Blume books? Or was I the only dork begging my parents to spend 50 bucks on all the books I couldn't live without! If your child is in school and brings these flyer's home, use them. They have incredible deals. Also they allow your child's teacher to build their class library like no other. Giving your child the most books for your hard earned buck. Every month they have at least 1 book for a dollar each. I snatch up these deals for stocking stuffers, party favors, student gifts and just because gifts. Also the variety of books, hard covers, books on cd, books for your tablet and boxed sets are great. I have several boxed sets waiting for the day when Animal starts reading to himself by lamp curled up under his blankets words blurring into each other, chin falling into his chest as the book drops out of his hand from exhaustion. I digress. Is your child not in school yet? Don't fret, you can get a scholastic parent account. Full disclosure, I don't know the details of buying straight from scholastic from a parent account, but I have been a teacher running a scholastic account for my class for 14 years and they blow me away. Every. Year.

I have been collecting books for my child since I was 18, so it's no wonder he has so many books available to him. I know however that it's never too early or too late to fill your child's life with words, stories, and imagination builders. As an early childhood educator believe me I know how pricey and beyond you it can feel to provide your child an assortment of books. So use these tips. Read with your child. I promise you will see it was money well spent.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Accordion Lessons

This weekend we spent  Sunday morning walking around our local flea market. As usual it was a morning full of fun.

We walked around for about 3 hrs and Animal only asked to be carried about a dozen times. We did pick him up a handful of times because there were giant puddles everywhere from Saturdays rain storms, but he walked 98% of the time so it was a successful trip in that sense.

Why not let him walk, run or jump in the puddles? Well you see, this weekend when I did some spring cleaning I pulled out his cool sandals so I wouldn't have to dig for them when the weather changes. He loves them and changed his trusty sneakers for the sandals all by himself. I made a small attempt to change the shoes back. He wasn't having it.

I could see the sunlight beaming in through the shutters and thought, why not?

As soon as we got there I saw exactly why not. It was too late. We were there. We avoided puddles as best we could, until eventually the toes of his socks were soaked. Luckily I had a spare in his backpack and we stopped to dry his toes and have a snack.

We let him ride the plethora of 50 cent kiddie rides and took a turn on the carousel.

Afterwards we found a cute pair of (new) shoes and the real fun began. He ran through puddles. He jumped in them. Splashing in as many as he could. Until a little boy, 4 or 5 years old walked by playing with a small child size accordion. Animal watched, and then turned his head this way and that trying to get a peak at the little musician.

Just a few aisles later we found ourselves in front of a vendor selling various children's instruments and so my husband bought Animal his first red accordion.

Animal carried the heavy (for a toddler) box around the rest of the morning until we headed home.

After nap time, we showed him how to hold the accordion and showed him how to push the buttons to make music play. He had a hard time at first, but soon he got the hang of it. Yelling, "look daddy, I did it".

Neither my hubby nor I play the accordion. Actually I know absolutely no one who does. So now I'm wondering, are there accordion lessons for kids?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Parenting Fail #98, #102, and #144

We have been dealing with this fail for a long time.

I can't really remember when it started only that Baby Centers emails reassured me, and other parents that this was a normal phase, and how to best deal with it.

We tried to follow the advise and tips. Then we went rogue and tried harsher tactics. It didn't work, and we reverted quickly back to the Baby Center tips. I thought we were finally past it, and we were on to the next. We were wrong.

My son is a biter.

We don't know why. He's got so many words and he's learning more and more to ask for things and to express himself with these words. We do not bite. We do not spank we don't even really swat. (That's what we tried by the way, hitting his mouth. It didn't work, and we decided after each trying it once that it would not work with our kid). We are not violent. We use words to fight with in our home. So why so much aggression? Why biting?

I was a biter, could that explain it? My dad bit me, and I stopped he says. I can't do it. Besides he has bitten himself (and left teeth marks) and it has not deterred him.

I am at my wits end. I feel embarrassed, stupid and incompetent. 

I believe as a professional I should be able to help him, or at least have the patience to deal with it. He's not the only two year old I know with this problem and God knows he wont be the last. In the mean time I have a fear of taking him anywhere or doing anything. I don't think I'm writing this as a cry for help. Feel free to leave me advice, I think I've heard it all, but I could be wrong. He's in school (where he will be shadowed in the near future as they try to help us get through this phase). We take him to the playground, we give time outs, and offer a ton of attention and love. What else? What else is there? 

I think I'm writing this post more as a confession. Asking to be absolved. I want other people to know I recognize the problem. We recognize the problem. We are working (have been working on it) for so long, and we wont give up. I'm sorry if my son bites you, or your child. I try to be close enough to stop it. We are consistent in not allowing it, of giving consequences for these actions. 

I have to believe that someday we'll get past it. Everyone does, right? I did. Animal will too.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What We Are Reading: Little Bea And The Snowy Day

Little Bea And The Snowy Day


Every Christmas I order a holiday book from Scholastic book clubs for each of the students in my class. I choose the holiday book that's on sale, usually a dollar maybe two each (because I'm a preschool teacher not an engineer). I sign the book with a Christmas wish and hope they will enjoy with their family for at least a few months. 

Sometimes (most times) the book is from a known book series, but sometimes it's  new book, as was the case this year. Little Bea And The Snowy Day by Daniel Roode  published 12/27/2011. It's a book about a busy bee, her friends and their fun day in the snow.

We live in sunny California and have not yet taken our first trip to the snow. I do NOT love this book. Honestly I don't even enjoy reading it. Maybe because I didn't grow up playing in snow, and I hate the cold. This year we had a two week dip into 29-33 degree nights and days that barely touched 50 degrees and I swore I would die. So you can see I am very biased. 

Animal on the other hand LOVES this book and weeks after Christmas, this is still requested at least once a week, and I must read a minimum of twice. He loves the pictures and he likes the simple words. That rhyme on some pages and don't on others (something that makes me a little crazy, as I find it harder to find a comfortable rhythm to read aloud with). He doesn't care. I try to focus on how much I enjoy snuggling my little guy.  

So what to do with a book you don't love to read? Try a little lesson planning. Focus on skills you're trying to build on. 

I like to ask Animal questions about what the little forest friends are doing. I ask him to point out colors or help me count. I also ask open ended questions, like what kind of snow friend would you build? Because we're still working on vocabulary and communication.


At some point in the story the furry friends dig in the snow and then show each other what they have found. If you don't want to go outside, or you would like a contained area, you can do the same activity with a bowl, or water table filled with snow, fake snow in my case and small toys. You can roll "snowballs" with mashed potatoes and have a little sensory fun.

Give them measuring cups and cups or bowls of different sizes. Ask them to guess how many scoops it will take to fill each. Which will take more? Yay for math fun. 

Or have a "snowball" fight with crumpled paper if you want P.E. I can think of so many activities to do with this book that I almost love it. If you're looking for ideas or want more in this area just leave in the comments section. 

See you next Thursday, until then I hope you and your little ones can snuggle together for a great story.





Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Health Scares

Pre Biopsy View


I've had a few health scares. 

Not many. I've always lucked out. Even as a kid. I never got too sick. Much to my mother's delight, I was (am) the biggest baby so it was especially horrid for my mommy when I did fall ill.

I don't get the flu shot and very, very rarely get the flu. I work with children and rarely get so much as a cold. It happens, and when it does I swear I'm dying. Still I rarely have to miss work, or even a run.

Even with my strong immune system, I've always had this suspicious feeling that when my time comes it will be to something terrible. Maybe because I feel guilty when someone awesome gets gravely ill. When I see a story about someone battling cancer, aids, leukemia, diabetes or anything of the like, I wonder, "Why not me?". 

Really, what makes me so lucky? There's no reason. Reality is these ailments can strike anyone, and they do. 

I myself have had 2 previous scares. One involving an ultrasound. The second involving a biopsy, then a decision about a simple office visit or a more aggressive outpatient surgery. I chose the more aggressive treatment. Now I face my second biopsy (unrelated to first), another bullet I'm hoping to dodge.

Why am I so worried? Is it a premonition? Is it that real illness has been like the scariest of Bogey men to me? Or is it that I'm a parent now? 

I'm unlikely to figure it out tonight. If I figure it out before I get a call, I'll let you know.