Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Today I have the blahs.
They seem to have crept up on me.
I think it has to do with Ben's being gone all weekend and my being all hands on deck without ceasing since last Monday (he gets home today -!!)
But I can't motivate to do anything. Literally.
I'm helping throw a Halloween party today and I have all these great ideas like making orange jello in clear plastic cocktail cups with a black gummy spider at the bottom, blowing up water grenade balloons and with kleenex and string making a ghost craft with the kids -- but I haven't done any of it. And can't. I literally could not move myself from the living room this morning.
So we sat there.
But I cannot.
I cannot get out of the living room.
I cannot take the kids even outside the front door to race around.
I cannot go to the grocery store.
I have told Silas, probably a dozen times, that I need "a quaker meeting" (silence) and can field no more questions.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What to do?

Our dilemma of the day: how to get the antibiotics INto Eden's body.

Yesterday she loved them.
Today she refuses to swallow them. Refuses. Fills her mouth and them lets the medicine dribble out. Or spits it.

I tried to hide it in orange juice. She didn't drink it.
I gave her a straw. She put her mouth on it but wouldn't suck.

We have 9 more days of antibiotics, 3 times a day ahead of us (or maybe only 8 days since at least two doses were spat about the kitchen). What do I do?
I'm at a loss. Any suggestions?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Killer Bunny Follow Up

When driving around this morning, Silas asked, Why did that bunny bite Eden?...
Did the police come and take it right away?

Despite all of my explaining, he still was unclear about why the police wouldn't have come to help with traps galore.

Tonight we visited Beth's apartment where we met Georgie Fruit the cat AND Johnson the bunny. After staring for a minute, Eden walked over to the rabbit cage and stuck her left pointer finger (the bitten one) right in. She, at least, seems not to be remotely traumatized by last night's events.

This morning I did end up taking her to urgent care because her cuts looked redder -- which the doctor said was from the bacteria in the animal's mouth -- and she is taking antibiotics.
So, that's that for now (and hopefully ever).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Catching up from our 10 Days in DC

Our first day in DC, Silas and I went for a walk and gathered along the way. His finds made me realize that though we have Fall here in California and the leaves of the Liquid Amber Maples behind my house gradually (and thankfully) turn cranberry red, we do miss some of Fall treasures
and brilliance

We played at the pumpkin patch (my favorite where I used to go as a kid)

and spent some time with Ben after being apart for a week.

One of my favorite moments was when Eden first saw the dollhouse in my parents' basement: she began chanting "hass hass" (house), and then immediately climbed in (and got stuck)!

An Eventful Night.........

This afternoon, Silas dressed up as Lightning McQueen and Eden as a puffy ladybug, and we headed to a Fall Carnival.

I was expecting a bean bag toss and mob of people, but instead the crowd was thin, and we were greeted by a Ferris wheel, moon bounces, candy apples, climbing walls, little carnival rides (and as you may know, I am particularly partial to fair-like events), and a petting zoo! Silas jumped and climbed; we ate ribs for dinner -- well, Eden and I ate ribs and Silas ate two bites of fried chicken, a pickle slice, cheetos, 3 jolly ranchers, and a tootsie roll -- and visited the animals.

The petting zoo was a tiny pen with friendly goats, an impossibly tiny black pig (I WISH I had a picture of him, actually, I wish I had him), bunnies, a couple of ducks, and chickens -- perfectly manageable. Eden was thrilled.
As we stood next to the fluffiest goat with our hands buried in his coat, I marveled at these animals who moved around the pen so calmly as tiny hands plunged toward them.
The bunnies, being bunnies, darted by here and there, but surprisingly paused to let us pat them. One even let Eden stroke its ears. I was taking this picture of Eden with the sweet bunny when Eden started SCREAMING.
Have you ever seen a bunny eating a carrot, the way it bites in a series of fast definitive chomps? (all the while wiggling its nose so it looks cute?) Well, this carrot was Eden's finger. She couldn't get it out of the rabbits mouth, and I couldn't move fast enough. When I finally (finally -- it was probably all of 2 seconds) pulled her finger out, there were 4 clean bites down her pointer finger and one between her pointer finger and thumb. She, of course, was hysterical. And I didn't know what to do. So I stood there, in the middle of the petting pen, holding my screaming ladybug, vaguely nodding at people who asked if an animal bit her, wanting to tell them to evacuate the pen and to put the rabbit down immediately.

Her hand was red and puffy. Ben was out of town. Silas was still in line for a balloon-filled moon bounce he'd been so patiently waiting for. Staff people were talking into walkie-talkies looking for first aid. And my new friend Alison was looking firmly into my face telling me it was OK.

I'm often amazed by what we can do -- what we do do -- when we have to. I am operating on a major sleep-deficit, which means that I feel like I could drool at any moment or burst into tears. All I wanted to do was to collapse in a heap with Eden -- who, every time she rediscovered her cuts, held up her hand, crying "BUNNY! BUNNY!" -- and sob my eyes out.

But instead, I went with first aid, I scrubbed little E's hand, I smiled at her and sang, I called my pediatrician, I decided to go to urgent care, I extracted Silas from the carnival (though he became hysterical because I wouldn't let him have a candy apple -- see tantrums), I walked all the way down the hill and through the crowds carrying heavy Eden to our car, I somehow LOST my phone on the way, I retraced my steps praying, I somehow FOUND my phone by a curb!, I buckled everyone in, I came home, I re-scrubbed Eden's hand, I decided not to go to urgent care, I put Eden to bed, I read Silas books, I brushed his teeth and tucked him into bed. I made it.

I often feel like a small miracle of life is that I make it through a day. Despite myself. Despite so many things. Despite fumbling. Despite being impatient. Despite Eden's feeding her finger to a rabbit. We make it. And then we sleep. And then we wake to a new morning.

Tantrums Galore

As I was hefting Eden into the car this morning -- her body as stiff as a board, one shoe on her foot (the eruption sparked by which shoes to wear), her red face screaming at the top of her lungs -- and pinning her into her car seat with all my strength, while speaking to her in soothing tones in hopes of countering any trauma I may have been causing by use of physical force, I felt weary.

Tantrum management is exhausting.

Eden, at 16 months, has arrived at tantrums years before Silas did, particularly when it comes to pens, shoes, or diaper changing. And Silas, at 3 1/2 dissolves into tantrums all day long; 3 1/2, it turns out, is as hard as they say.

Today in my "Conscious Mothering Group"* (based on the book Parenting from the Inside Out, by Daniel Siegel), we talked about understanding emotions and tantrums. Though when I left I still had a zillion questions of how exactly (and yes, I want to know exactly) to respond constructively to Silas's meltdowns, I did leave with some insight to sit with:

-When there is a tantrum, look to see what is under the tantrum. Aletha Solter talks about “the broken cookie phenomenon” – when child falls apart over something that seems minor (like his cookie is broken -- or, as the case was with Silas yesterday, his beans were mixed with his rice, or the day before, his hard boiled egg was cracked) but is really using the minor thing as an outlet to express emotions/tension/stress that he has no tools/language to communicate. The key here is for the parent to remember that the child's feelings aren't really about the cookie but about something else. And the challenge is to be an available supportive presence for the child as he expresses his big out of control feelings -- rather than shutting them down, ignoring them, or shaming/punishing the child for having them. I am amazed by how difficult this is! and how quickly I react rather than receive.

-Children use their whole bodies (stomping, punching, yelling, gesturing, making faces) to try to make sense of what they are feeling because their bodies are their primary tool. I find that by mid-morning I am intolerant of much of the physical -- the "bad guy" fists flying through the air, the frowning scowl, the little shooting finger he instantly points away from me when I look up, the smashing of Eden into the rug, the random outbursts of NO WAY JOSE!, and all day long I hear myself say things like "No, Silas." "Keep your hands to yourself." "We don't speak like that." "You need to say sorry." "Eden is not a bad or mean baby." "We do not shoot at people without asking if they want to play" etc. UGH! Could that make anyone thrive?? (certainly not me). Each time I hear myself I think there must be a more creative approach. Today we talked about how it's important to try to understand the emotions and emotional context of what a child is expressing -- tune in to the child, address him, redirect him, give some one-on-one attention to him -- before you move in with discipline (and all the no's). This makes a lot of sense.

A couple short (yet profound) points to chew on:

-Tantrums are a golden opportunity to start teaching children how to handle huge feelings.

-An aggressive child is a frightened child. (frightened can mean frustrated, it can mean fearing separation (i.e. having to stay with a babysitter and not see you, sleep in another room or share you with a sibling) etc).

-Redirect aggression with physical tasks: cleaning windows, running bases, hammering, throwing balls at paper plate targets etc. I need to do more of this.

-Check yourself when you are coping with a mid-tantrum child -- are you trying to shut down the (unpleasant) feelings or trying to soothe them?

*the Conscious Mothering Group is led by Dr. Jenna Flowers and Dr. Nola Casserly -- it's excellent

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Growing up, we ate doughnuts on Sundays -- raised sugar doughnuts after church. It wasn't until one fall during college that I had a warm apple cider doughnut at a farm on the side of a road.

Though it doesn't fully feel like fall here, we just got back from 10 days in DC where we bundled in scarves and coats, ran through cold rain, photographed brilliant sugar maples, visited the pumpkin patch where I used to go as a kid, and made apple cider doughnuts.

They were easier to make than I would have guessed. We made the dough the night before and cut the doughnuts in the morning. Cinnamon and nutmeg add depth to the cake so that they don't need the glaze (I found it a little too apple-y and sweet) -- just roll the hot doughnuts in cinnamon sugar and eat them warm (that part is key) with a cup of coffee.


  • 2 red apples, such as Cortland or McIntosh
  • 2 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


Core and coarsely chop the apples (do not peel). Combine with 1 1/2 cups cider in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the apples are tender and the cider is almost completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Measure the sauce; you should have 1 cup. (Boil to reduce further, if necessary.) Let cool slightly.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

Beat 2/3 cup granulated sugar and the shortening in another bowl with a mixer on medium speed until sandy. Beat in the egg and yolk, then gradually mix in the applesauce, scraping the bowl. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix to make a sticky dough; do not over mix.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and pat into a 7-by-11-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Simmer the remaining 1 cup cider in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar until smooth and glossy, then set aside. Mix the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl; set aside for the topping.

Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cut the chilled dough into 12 rounds, using a floured 2 1/2- or 3-inch biscuit cutter, then cut out the middles with a 1-inch cutter (or use a doughnut cutter). Slip 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.

Dip one side of each doughnut in the cider glaze, letting the excess drip off; dip just the glazed side in the cinnamon-sugar or roll all over in cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Serve warm.

*recipe from food network magazine

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Similes (my little poet)

The other night we were driving home at sunset. Rather than colors ricocheting off clouds, the sky hung a flat, stained backdrop behind the silhouetted trees. Silas craned his neck to see it each time we passed a cross street, telling me to look. After a few minutes of quiet and tracking the sky, Silas finally said, "The sky is like grapefruit." Pause. "Like the inside of grapefruit."
That is exactly what it looked like.

Then on Wednesday morning, Ben took the morning off and we went to Disneyland. Silas has reached the 40" mark, which according to his Disneyland map (which he keeps in his treasure box) means that he's tall enough for Thunder Mountain Railroad -- a roller coaster. Some of us thought that 40" didn't necessarily indicate readiness. Some of us thought he had his whole life to ride roller coasters and that waiting might not be bad. Some of us were outnumbered. SO, we got in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We decided that I would take him -- perhaps a happy compromise -- I, a little more cautious but fueled by Ben's enthusiasm. So we waited in line, Silas's eyes as big as moons as he leaned to watch the train wheel around a bend with butterflies in his stomach. But YES, he still wanted to go. Reluctantly, I climbed into a train car with him and wrapped my arm around his little body. Immediately, the train entered a tunnel and began climbing. First, I forgot how LOUD roller coasters are. Then, the tunnel became pitch black and there were RED EYES -- if there is anything Silas fears, it is red eyes, and Lord help us, there they were in the first tunnel. Well, it all went downhill from there. Literally too. The ride was fast. Silas was practically lying down in our seat, both arms around my waist, making sounds that I couldn't decipher (not positive). We rattled, roared, shot through dark tunnels, shook, raced around curves, dodged growling, falling rocks -- and finally pulled into the station.

Ben looked at me expectantly, and I shook my head. We both looked at Silas (who, I might add, looked quite composed), looked back at each other, and raised our eyebrows -- What do we do?? I know that children process through story and that people heal from Post Traumatic Stress by talking through traumatic experiences, so I figured our best bet was to keep talking about it. So we did. The red eyes. The tunnels. The shaking, rumbling, roaring, racing. Ben even apologized for sending him. About an hour later, I brought it up again: "Remember when you went on that roller coaster, Silas? What was that like?"
He paused. "It was like being in the mouth of a big scary monster."
... And once again, it was, it was exactly like that.

[The follow up is that we kept talking and talking about it, explaining the eyes were bats that couldn't move, lights on the wall etc etc. And the next thing I knew, Silas was begging to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad the next time we go. We won't.]

Sunday, October 04, 2009

More on Cloth: Second Impressions

First I have to confess that we are not hardcore cloth users. In fact, Ben is not a cloth diaper user at all, so if he's solo, Eden's wearing disposables. And as I said, she wears disposables at night and occasionally during nap time. And when babysitters are here (usually, except when I forget -- sorry Jaclyn!) AND when I realize I should have done the laundry hours and hours earlier because Eden's wearing the last clean cloth diaper and all of the others are still damp and strewn about the back deck (where there really is only a teeny bit of sun, so all of the natural bleaching doesn't exactly happen).

All of that said, we are using many fewer disposables than we were before. And many more cloth. The toting diapers and wet bags really isn't that bad (though, for example, at church this morning, Eden took me by surprise by burning through the two cloths I'd brought so we had to use a disposable from the church stash).

I do have to say,that there is a SMELL. The clean cloth diapers never really smell CLEAN, even when they don't smell bad. And though the wet bags (where you store used ones) are pretty effective, some smell escapes (though mine are well-used so that could be part of it), which I guess is the same with storing any dirty diapers. The killer, though, is when I open a full bag of wet/dirty ones to wash them and the ammonia smell that pours out is so strong that it makes my eyes water and throat burn. Whew! So the faster I can stuff all the diapers into the machine and slam the door, the better!

All of that said, I am a fan. Eden's awful chronic diaper rashes have essentially disappeared (even though you can't use diaper cream with cloth!) And I love her wearing fabric against her skin. They are cute in their bright colors. And she wore her jeans on top of one yesterday without a problem (they weren't too thick).

Also, Silas, Eden and I had an especially enjoyable week together. I was trying to figure out why since the week before I'd said NO! so many times I thought I'd pull my hair out. What I realized is that we were home a lot this week. We played with Mirabelle and Polly the Mermaid dolls, read books, climbed up and down from the play loft, built with blocks -- played together, something I realize we've been lacking. I'm thinking the cloth diapers account for some of this: I am doing more laundry, hanging it to dry, stuffing diapers (you have to put the liners inside) -- which, by the way, all sound horrible but somehow aren't yet -- and perhaps am home a little more, slowing our pace and being more available. I'll let you know whether this proves true or whether it was just a cloth diaper honeymoon -- or coincidence.

My order of diapers did finally come this week, and of course, along with it, some compelling literature from diapershops.com. Check this out:

Health Concerns:

*In 1955, before modern disposable diapers were sold and consumed, it was estimated that 7% of babies and toddlers had diaper rash. In 1991, long after plastic disposable diapers dominated the market, the number jumped to 78%

*Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. In small quantities, dioxin causes birth defects, immune system suppression, skin and liver diseases, and genetic damage in lab animals. It is banned in most countries but not in the U.S.

*Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.

*Disposable diapers contain Sodium Polyacrylate, a type of super absorbant polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. This chemical can cause skin irritations and sever allergic reactions including vomiting, staph infections, and fever.

Environmental Concerns:

*Disposable diapers generate sixty times more solid waste than cloth.

*Disposable diapers use twenty times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp

*No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years under optimal circumstances...

*Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste. In a house with a child in diapers, disposable make up 50% of household waste.

*Over 92% of all single-use diapers end up in a landfill.

*Throwaway diapers use twice as much water as cotton diapers, mostly in the manufacturing process.

(that last point is the only one I take issue with -- it may be true but washing the diapers seems to use a l o t of water)

*Over 27 billion disposable diapers are sold and then put into landfills in the U.S.

*Disposable diapers contain traces of dioxin, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals.

*Americans spend about 7 billion dollars on disposable diapers every year If every one of those families switched to simple home-laundered cloth diapers, they would save more than $6 billion, enough to feed about 2.5 million American children for an entire year.