Today, I am grateful for Ramona’s ponytails.
Here’s Ramona (and Zuzu) on her birthday, playing with her excellent new trolley bus toy that my mom got for her at the Clark. She also has a new yellow bunny from Susan and the best, softest, cutest doggie ever from Rope Swing Studio.
And what better way to celebrate a dog-loving girl’s birthday than with a dog-shaped cake? Thanks to Martha Stewart for the recipe (cake here and frosting here) and templates and to Adriane for the extra-large pastry tip.
In retrospect, this cake was a bit much. It took the better part of the day to make and, as you can see, is the size of an actual dog. Still, it was kind of fun. And yummy.
And how old are you, Ramona?
Annoying thing that toddlers and preschoolers do:
“We are playing house,” says Zuzu. I won’t even get into what this means for how they think I do my housekeeping.
There is something so, so cute to me about pre-verbal toddler nods and head shakes. They’re so excited, so happy: “I can tell you what I mean! I can say yes to milk, and no to socks!”
I wanted to get a video of a Ramona nod before the opportunity passed me by and she was suddenly 15. I’m still subtitling Zuzu, but she’s way more understandable than she was in January.
Magical words spoken by the allergist this week: “You know, I don’t think she’s actually allergic to any of these foods. I’m not even going to give her a skin test. I think it was just eczema. You can feed her whatever you want to.” Hurray! Let’s make peanut butter cookies! Um, after we finish of those two tubs of cookies from Trader Joe’s, I mean.
What is Ramona doing these days? What, I ask you? There is something going on, something that is causing me to think in italics and causing her to give up sleeping, pretty much. Why, why was she awake from 9:30 p.m until 1:00 a.m., I ask you? Clapping. She spent the whole time laughing and clapping. And then only napped for an hour, and then didn’t go to sleep until 10:30 the next night? She is thinking about standing, and thinking about talking, and thinking about food, food, food. But are these reasons to stop sleeping? Not for me, they aren’t.
So here I am, exhausted. And here she is, exhausted, clearly. You’ll be happy to know that I managed to get her from this position into her crib for another paltry hour-long nap.
Wow, that was fast. All of a sudden, Ramona is 1. She has graduated from rolling to full-on crawling, and just this VERY second, just crawled up one step from the back porch into the kitchen. In the past few weeks she is adopting more kid mannerisms and is much less babylike.
She’s very excited to be able to move with purpose and go where she wants to go.
Make sure you notice the bunny in Ramona’s hand in the beginning of that video. It was made for us by Susan, and it’s Ramona’s most favorite thing ever. She needs to sleep with it, and I often find her giving it big hugs.
What else? Zuzu has been asking for “cherry stuff” for her birthday since January (her birthday is in June). I’m having some trouble figuring out what this means.
I’m kind of into FlyLady right now, but I’m only halfway through the “beginner steps.” I think you’re supposed to get through the beginner steps in a month; I’ve been working on them since March. But still, it’s made a huge difference in what the house looks like. I’m excited to some day get through all the beginner steps and get into the real stuff.
I am very much looking forward to the end of school. While it means my free time goes from 60 seconds a week to 2 seconds, everyone seems much happier when we’re all home. Yes, there’s a lot of bickering, sure, but the day-long “let’s pretend we’re in these six books all mixed together” sessions can begin.
My 60 seconds are up. Posting this before someone lights something on fire.
You know, you leave an empty chair around here, and before you know it, there are babies sprouting up all over the place.
So I’m still doing a restricted diet here due to Ramona’s potential allergies to wheat, dairy, egg, and peanut. We did take her to an allergist in December, who did a skin test, which did say she’s allergic to those things. Now, I don’t want to dismiss food allergies, especially when it’s my own kid, but I gave up those things between the blood test and the allergist, and she still had bad eczema (which was the reason they thought she might have allergies). The allergist recommended a different lotion — I had been using Aquaphor, which didn’t do anything except make us all greasy, but the allergist recommended CeraVe. Switching moisturizers made a bigger difference than any dietary changes, and all but eliminated her eczema. So I don’t know what to think. I’m still avoiding those foods, and she has another allergist appointment in May, where they may do a “food challenge” (when they give her a tiny bit of the potential allergen) with wheat. Meanwhile, she did her own personal mini food challenge the other day by stealing a Cheerio from Zuzu (nothing happened).
I would really love to go back to eating wheat.
I haven’t really gone fully into any kind of wheat-free baking or anything. I make cookies with the kids and just don’t eat any. I know there are all kinds of wheat-free baking mixes, and allergen-free baking methods, but honestly I still think that she’s going to outgrow these allergies (at least the ones that affect baking — wheat, dairy, and egg), and I don’t really need to go too crazy with alternative flours in the meantime.
And as you can see, she’s hardly wasting away, and doesn’t worry about food at all, but instead works hard at being adorable. (By the way, that finger she has going into her mouth in the photo — her right index finger — is the one she sucks on. Very cute.)
Oh hello, friends, do you know that I think of you often and have many things to tell you? But that, while in many ways adding a fourth kid hasn’t really added much in the work department, it has taken away much in the time department. Some days I honestly get about thirty seconds to myself. Plus there’s the problem of my computer, which has started to (literally) make a death rattle, and has generally adopted the speed of a top-of-the-line Radio Shack desktop circa 1987.
But first I want to tell you that Ramona is a total peach and generally just a happy little bubster. Though right now she’s going through some kind of five-month about-to-do-some-big-developmental-things Sleep Issue, wherein she wakes up all the time, and the last few nights has woken up at 11:00 or midnight and been AWAKE, and excited and wanting to play. Or maybe this is just a fourth kid thing, and she has already figured out that midnight is the only time when she can have her parents all to herself.
I will also tell you that she continues to have various skin issues, mainly major eczema — dry, red skin. We took her in for a blood test which came back with a possibility of allergies to (are you ready?) wheat, dairy, egg, and peanut. Which means I have had to give up those things (read: I have had to give up all the things I eat all the time). Mostly I eat rice cakes with almond butter, and salad. Her skin did get better right away, and it seemed like some great miracle, but then her skin got bad again. And then it got better, but I caved and had a piece of pizza, and it got worse again. So who knows. We have an appointment in December with an allergist, when they’ll do a skin test and determine what for real she’s allergic to, if anything. Until then I get to test out how strong my willpower really is. Ah, toast! Ah, butter! How I miss you!
There is not much Halloween candy you can eat if you’re not eating wheat, dairy, eggs, and peanuts.
And, speaking of food, I want to tell you that for years the citizens of the Portland metro area have been telling Trader Joe’s that they really should open a store here. For years Trader Joe’s said, “We have no plans to open a store in Maine.” Well! Finally! After all our rabble-rousing, we now have our own Trader Joe’s store, and it is THE LARGEST TRADER JOE’S IN THE COUNTRY. And the opening day, last Friday, was the largest opening of any store the company has ever had. The employee I talked to in the store said, “We will never doubt Maine again.” I feel foolish for being so excited about a grocery store, but it’s true, I am. What are your Trader Joe’s staples? What can’t I live without?
I want to tell you that I bought a bag of these bag clips, and I love them. Am I the only one who finds those little squarish bread-bag clips to be one-time-use items? I can never get them back on the bag in a satisfactory manner. Or the twist tie will get lost. I am very happy to have a bunch of reusable bag clips in my drawer.
I want to tell you that my camera died. Apparently it’s a common problem for my camera (a Canon PowerShot SD1200) to get this lens error that pretty much means death (or prohibitively expensive repair). I’ve only had it for a year and a half. I’m having trouble dealing with the thought of researching a new camera and actually ponying up the cash to get it. Sigh.
Besides the fact that sometimes I only turn on my computer every four days because the death rattle is so depressing.
I also want to tell you that I randomly bought a kitchen timer, and it has made such a huge difference with kid discipline. It’s like I’m suddenly able to foist the nagging off on this inanimate object. “Playroom needs to be clean in ten minutes! Timer is set!” and then I walk away. It’s also great for bedtime chapter book reading: we set the timer and when it goes off, it’s time for bed. I will say that I mistakenly bought a battery-operated timer, so it doesn’t just go “ding!” but beeps annoyingly for a minute and a half. And while, yes, it’s an incredibly irritating “time to get out of bed” kind of noise, it is helpful for proving to the children that yes, indeed, the timer really is going off. Sometimes when I time them using the microwave timer, they deny that it ever went off, since it only beeps once.
I also got this book called 365 Manners Kids Should Know by Sheryl Eberly, to try to make our kids not so much mannerless monkeys. It’s divided into sections, with a different manner for each day. A lot of them are fairly esoteric, but hey, you never know when your kid will be going to a formal dinner or to the symphony, and plus a lot of manners sort of fit into a general idea or frame of mind about how to act in public, so I think it’s all good to know. The book has a different manner for each day of the year, but we started in the table manners section and are going to skip around as we see fit. I like the one-manner-a-day format, because just learning one small thing (we read it at dinner, and discuss) seems just enough to let it sink in and not be overwhelming.
I want to tell you that Dave and my 12th wedding anniversary is this Sunday. We will most likely have a glass of wine and maybe some wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free delicacy after the kids go to sleep (because nothing says, “The first 12 years were fun; let’s do it for 112 more years” like almond butter on a rice cake). But if we do somehow decide to go out to eat, where should we go? I haven’t been to a restaurant in Portland (besides Silly’s) in years, and I know there are a bunch of new ones.
Though if you want a tasty allergy-friendly dessert (besides rice cakes), I tried this apple cranberry crisp and it was amazing. The only esoteric ingredient is coconut oil, which I happened to have.
I should end this, because my window of being able to blog has opened and closed many, many times since I started typing. Let me just show you this (blurry, taken-by-cell-phone, everyone-has-redeye) Halloween photo. Henry is Harry Potter, Eli is Buzz Lightyear, Ramona is a monkey. Zuzu couldn’t decide between all the various dress-ups in the dress-up bin, so she combined some and was a pirate crossing guard.