Archive for October, 2010

Trick or treat…? TREAT.

When my mom asked Ava what she wanted to be for Halloween this year, Ava immediately responded, “A CUPCAKE! A cupcake with frosting and a cherry on top.” I quickly added, “Could you make two, Mom?”

Mom delivered, and the girls headed out to trick-or-treat dressed as pretty sweet treats themselves.


Witches’ brew

Ava made wicked witch cupcakes for her kindergarten classmates on Friday. It seems as though she may have sampled the frosting in advance, don’t you think? Scary good!


65 hours, but who’s counting?

I took Ava and Olivia to the dentist on Tuesday. The last time I took Olivia was almost a year ago, and the dentist was only able to check out her teeth while she was actively screaming. (She did much better at her check-up with Bryan six months ago.)

This appointment was eventful, too, but for a different reason altogether.

As the hygienist cleaned Liv’s teeth, she said to me, “So…pacifier or thumb?”

I tried the “Whatever do you mean?” approach, but she responded (rather forcefully), “Does she use a pacifier, or does she suck her thumb?”

Eyes cast down, I said, pleadingly, “She uses a pacifier–but only at night.”

The five year old next to me added, “Well, at night, yes, but also in the morning, and on the way to Diane’s, and after Diane’s, and at home, and really, Mom, she uses a pacifier ALL THE TIME.”

That gave me the push I needed. As we left the dentist’s office, I told Olivia the pacifiers were all gone. She fussed a bit on the way to Diane’s, as Ava lectured us about the importance of telling the truth.

That night, she was downright angry for about two hours. Aside from that though, she’s handled it pretty well.

Of course, I stepped out for a couple of hours tonight, only to come home to find out she had located “pink.” (We’re relatively sure there are at least 18 hidden around the house.) Bryan discarded it, and Liv spent about 30 minutes protesting.

Still, though, it’s been almost three full days, and the world has yet to stop turning.

If she comes across “purple,” though, we’re toast.

Ava and Olivia Fix

I think this series of photos, in which I simply tried to obtain one decent shot of my girls in matching Husker outfits (thanks, Dad and Rose!), pretty much sums up the whole weekend.

But, in happier news, how ’bout those Huskers?

A fairy tale ending

Once upon a time, there was a sweet little princess who wore her crown EVERYWHERE she went.

She wore it during the day…

…and she wore it at night.

The princess wore her crown in good times…

And during periods of strife.

She even wore her crown in the royal bubble bath.

And of course, at high tea.

The princess LOVED her crown, and would banish anyone who attempted to remove it.

One day, though, the crown met its end. The princess was devastated, and the entire kingdom suffered dire consequences.

The townspeople tried everything to repair the princess’s crown. While wire, zip ties and rubber bands failed, hot glue was a success!

The kingdom rejoiced!

But it was not to be.

The princess refused sleep, tossing and turning, and demanding the crown be replaced into the wee hours of the morning.

When the exhausted royal family thought all hope was lost, the Queen suddenly remembered that she was of Bornemeier blood, and a solution became immediately apparent.

The duct tape worked perfectly, just as it had for the kings and queens before her.

The princess, with her crown once more, was radiant and happy.

A restful sleep fell over the entire kingdom…

…and they lived happily ever after.



Olivia, introducing herself to another child: “It’s me Owivia.”

Why living with a biochemist is awesome

I’ve been making my own laundry soap for several months now. I couldn’t be happier with the results, especially in the stain management category (extremely important when you have a toddler who delights in acquiring new and often inexplicable stains).

So, while mixing up a third batch this weekend, I took the leap and made dishwasher detergent, too. I mixed equal parts baking soda and Borax, and we used two tablespoons per load.

I think there are always trade offs in projects like this. Excess Borax in the ground water is not great, but many believe it’s better than the chemicals found in other detergents. Plus, we’re avoiding those bulky plastic containers altogether.

Because in this case the Borax would be coming in to contact with our dishes, I wanted to be absolutely sure it was safe. I read a number of papers and articles on the matter, then shared my findings with Bryan, a guy who won’t eat leftovers past the 24 hour mark for fear they’ll kill him. He signed off, assuring me Borax was not toxic. However, to ensure a super clean rinse, I added vinegar to the Jet Dry dispenser.

I’d welcome any feedback or links to additional research on the topic. In the meantime, we’re all still upright, and we’re really happy with how well this works.  I’d strongly suggest avoiding the leftover chicken in the fridge, though, if you’d like to make it until the weekend.

New beginnings

A couple of years ago, we enrolled Ava in a small, in-home Montessori preschool. We fell in love with the curriculum and the instructor, and marveled at how well Ava responded to both.

Last spring, her instructor announced plans for an expansion that would include a new building with classrooms to accommodate more than 90 children from six months to six years. Shortly thereafter, we decided to enroll Ava in the school’s new kindergarten program.

After driving by the construction site nearly every day for many months, Ava finally entered for her first day of class today. Here she is, all ready for what felt like her first official day of Kindergarten.

The new school is about eight blocks down the street from our house.

At the previous school, there were only 10 children, and a very low-tech sign-in process. I was worried that with an exponential increase in size, we’d see less of the instructor, and have less engagement overall. I was pleased to see the sign-in sheets were still there—there were five instead of one. And, the instructor was smiling from the behind the front desk, greeting the parents and children as we entered.

Ava walked right in, and hung up her new backpack. The classroom assistant was organizing a morning yoga session, to be followed by breakfast. I thought I’d like to stick around myself.

We were able to see the school during a special open house for parents on Saturday. We took Olivia, who will join the classroom for three-year-olds in January.

This is Ava’s classroom, huge and bright and open. There will be 10 students in her class.

We also met Olivia’s teacher. Liv introduced her to “Eliza,” explaining that Eliza had a twin, although Mom made her leave her at home. Her teacher asked if the twin’s name happened to be “Doolittle.” Olivia, nonplussed, responded, “No, her name is Hazel.”

I am looking forward to having the girls in one place–at least for the spring and summer. Ava seems intent on growing up as quickly as possible, though, and I’m sure first grade at the public school will be here before we know it.

Guilty as charged

An article about toddlers and iPhones landed on the New York Times’ homepage this morning, and despite the adorable headline—“Hi, Grandma! (Pocket Zoo hold)“—I was reluctant to read it.

I already know Ava and Olivia spent way too much time with our iPhones, and Olivia is pretty sure Bryan purchased the iPad for her use exclusively. (Full disclosure: That one’s watching Dora on the iMac as I type.) The upshot is that calming a fussy preschooler (or a bored kindergartner) is so darn easy when you have a smart device. The downside? The ever present concern about too much screen time.

From the NYT:

THE bedroom door opened and a light went on, signaling an end to nap time. The toddler, tousle-haired and sleepy-eyed, clambered to a wobbly stand in his crib. He smiled, reached out to his father, and uttered what is fast becoming the cry of his generation: “iPhone!”

TAP, TAP Brady Hotz, now 2, has been playing with his parents’ iPhones since he was 6 months; his mother, Kellie Hotz, lends hers for the 15-minute commute to school.

The iPhone has revolutionized telecommunications. It has also become the most effective tool in human history to mollify a fussy toddler, much to the delight of parents reveling in their newfound freedom to have a conversation in a restaurant or roam the supermarket aisles in peace. But just as adults have a hard time putting down their iPhones, so the device is now the Toy of Choice — akin to a treasured stuffed animal — for many 1-, 2- and 3-year-olds. It’s a phenomenon that is attracting the attention and concern of some childhood development specialists.

It’s a good (and short) read, and while I continue to feel guilty about our reliance on smart devices as tools in parenting, at least I know I’m not alone.

So, fellow parents, what’s your take? Everything in moderation, or are the risks of too much screen time just too high?

Tis the season

Nothing says fall like highs in the 80s and steaming bowls of soup, right? Well, at least on one count, we’re enjoying the spoils of the season.

I used the last few potatoes Mom sent home from her garden to make Ina Garten’s Roasted Leek and Potato soup on Sunday. It was a good use for the bunch of arugula in our crop share this week, too.

I love the crispy shallots on the top, along with a bit of grated cheese.

Last night, Ava made this recipe for Sweet Potato Soup with Blue Corn Chips almost entirely by herself. We used leftover mashed sweet potatoes as the base, adding chicken stock, seasonings and a swirl of chopped chipotle peppers. The girls loved this dish, and the blue corn chips were a huge hit with them, too.

I’ve been using fat free Greek yogurt in place of creme fraiche and sour cream, and milk in place of cream for these soup recipes. Any other tricks or tips? What are your favorite fall soup recipes?