Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Must-Check-Out Blog

I just came across this blog today:

The author is a Montessori teacher, founder of a Montessori school, and the parent of a preschooler.

It looks like she does not post often. But if you look through the older posts, you will find many posts addressing common parenting/teaching questions.


A few weeks back I came across a quinoa chocolate cake recipe. I tried it and we really liked the cake. This made me very curious. What other dishes can I make with quinoa that my family might eat?

I will go ahead and admit that I had never eaten quinoa. I knew nothing about it. I had heard the name and I knew it was a whole grain. Sounds terrible, I know! What can I say? Us Puertoricans, typically, are not fans of whole grains. In fact, my relatives are often leery of trying anything I cook because they know I tend to cook with a twist, one they are not fund of!

The other day I cooked some quinoa, the way you cook white rice. No go. Ari tried it and didn’t like it. Geeky Entrepreneur is willing to try again. I am willing to keep trying until I get it right. They don’t like brown rice. Geeky Entrepreneur won’t do whole wheat pasta too often. So I feel the need to keep trying whole grain recipes until I find something that everyone loves.

I just made some quinoa kheer! Kheer is an Indian rice pudding dessert.

I found two other quinoa pudding recipes today. I will be trying them another time.

Do you have any quinoa recipes you love? Please share!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On screwing up and apologizing to my child

Sunday afternoon Amor Chiquito began telling us that her ears were hurting. By Sunday evening she was in a lot of pain. Monday morning we found out that she was experiencing her first ear infection, a “double ear infection,” in fact.

All I have to say is yay for Ibuprofen and antibiotics!

We tried some home remedies, like warm compresses and drops of olive oil in her ears, but neither of those worked for Amor Chiquito.

The ear infection had us up four times (I think) the first night, before we got the antibiotic. The second and third nights, Amor Chiquito was only getting up once or twice, but, each and every time we gave her ibuprofen she could not sleep for a good two hours. She tried and tried, but it just wasn’t happening. She kept telling me that she wanted to “watch one Dora and then sleep.” Perhaps she was onto something. Maybe I should have listened, in retrospect.

Amor Chiquito and I got bad colds and we are just getting over the cold, after at least ten days.

So, to say that this mama has been tired is an understatement.

Last night was night three of the madness, the multiple night wakings, sometimes for hours. Let’s just say that mommy was tired, extremely tired, and, in my case, an extremely tired mommy at 4:30 am can easily lead to a snappy mommy. I told Amor Chiquito that I was feeling angry, that I was very, very tired, and that I was going to sleep. I angrily rolled over.

So, what do you think my child did? She hugged me and gave me kisses.

Her actions helped me snap out of it and helped me realize that she was not intentionally being difficult and that I needed help. I needed Daddy to take a turn. I had been at it for two hours. I had gotten about three hours of sleep.

This morning, after I had gotten enough sleep, it all came back to me. I felt like such a snappy B!

My thoughts after the fact:

If someone can help you/take a turn, reach out and let him/her take a turn with the little one. It is ok. We are human beings. We get tired. You are not less of a parent for reaching out for help.

If you are home with a sick child, nap when the child naps.

We make mistakes. Forgive and be gentle with yourself.

Children are very forgiving.

Do right by your child. Apologize. It is the right thing to do. It will ensure that the special bond you and your child have is left intact. Also, you are modeling something positive, something you want your child to be able to do when she screws up.

I decided I was going to do just that, apologize to my baby. So, when she came home from preschool (her first day back), I got down on my knees, so I could be at eye level with her, and we had a little talk.

Me: I want to talk to you about something. You know how we were awake for a long time in the middle of the night and we could not sleep?

Ari: Yes.

Me: I got very cranky. I am sorry. I was not nice.

Ari: Why you were like that, mommy?

Me: I was very tired. I needed some sleep.

Ari: O.

Me: I just wanted to tell you that I am sorry I was cranky. I will try not to do that. I love you. I want to give you a hug.

We hugged and it was over. Later on, she told her Daddy that I said I was sorry I was cranky and she asked him why I was cranky. He explained that when people are very, very tired, sometimes they get cranky.

Long post..Oops!

Moral of the story: when you screw up, apologize to your kid, forgive yourself and move on.

Article: Breastfeeding Information for the First Few Weeks of Life

Excellent advice for a new breastfeeding family:

I would add one thing. If you are experiencing pain, meet with a lactation consultant or a La Leche League leader as soon as possible and ask that person to find out if your little one is tongue-tied. I don't know how often this happens, but Amor Chiquito was tongue-tied and that hurt like heck. That is an understatement, in fact!

If your child is, indeed, tongue-tied, the procedure to resolve this takes a minute. For us, it did not impact the way she nursed. As a matter of fact, she nursed about three minutes after the procedure and she was fine. My life changed on that day. Soon after I thought breastfeeding was a piece of cake!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Parent Teacher Conference Update

Parent teacher conferences take place in November and in March. We met with Amor Chiquito’s teachers last Thursday. Here is what we learned, in no particular order:

At the beginning of the school year, Amor Chiquito mostly worked individually. Now she is exploring new areas and working in small groups with the handful of kids she enjoys hanging out with. This means that she is doing less of the reporting she was famous for and more exploring and trying new things. For example, she is not as drawn to numbers as she is to letters, but she does do some math activities because she likes to spend time with the infamous R, a very sweet 4-year-old boy!

Speaking of the kids she spends time with, the teachers say that she makes more eye contact and is more involved in conversations with the teachers and with her peers

It used to be that when it was circle time and it was time for the kids to participate, she often repeated the same story, something about her grandma and her cousin. She no longer does that. She actually talks about whatever they are discussing. For example, they are learning about bears, manatees, and other animals at the moment.

One of the teachers said he feels like she looks taller, her face looks different, she looks more like a little kid and not a baby and that it is easier to understand her.

We talked about her language delay. They said language delays are common among kids growing up in bilingual homes.

We talked about how the L is finally emerging! She used to say I ‘yite’ and now she says I ‘lite.’ We are still working on the K, but the L is coming along nicely!

Daddy and I were wondering what helped the L emerge. Is it that she was simply ready? Is it something we did? Something the teachers did? It turns out that each week they focus on one letter. Two weeks ago, they worked on the L and this week they were reviewing it. They learn how to write it, what it sounds like, where the sounds come from, etc. Two weeks ago is when I heard the L for the first time! It sounds like the Montessori teachers made more progress than I have following the early intervention suggestions! Or, perhaps, it was just the right time for her.

As for the activities that Amor Chiquito is drawn to, she does lots of art work. She loves cutting and gluing. One of the teachers said she kicked Ari out of the art station today because Ari would spend all day there if they let her!

Amor Chiquito loves to write and she is very interested in learning how to write her name. She often said she couldn’t do it. She felt frustrated and sad. The teachers kept reinforcing that she is learning and that writing an A can be her signature because she is the only one with an A name in the classroom. Apparently their tactic has worked. She now excitedly says “I can do that! I can write an A for Arianna!”

She spends a fair bit of time at the practical life table. Some of the activities in that area include washing, pealing and cutting a carrot, using a hand drill, using tweezers, poring fluids, mixing fluids, among others.

Amor Chiquito likes to play family with her friends. She also likes to play the “store game.” They pretend they sell things, usually ice cream! That’s my kid!

Speaking of playing the family game, I feel very happy that my child sees different family types as “normal,” for lack of a better word. If one of the kids is a boy, then they have a dad, a mom and a baby. If they are all girls, they have two mommies and a baby. My child doesn’t even think twice about that. That is how it should be! I am glad we are finally catching up!

The teachers said that she is very engaged, very happy, very easy going and that she has internalized all the classroom rules. Speaking of internalizing classroom rules, when she did more observing, she would tell the teachers when someone was “not using her walking feet”! One of the teachers described her as “the eyes of the classroom”!

Geeky Entrepreneur and I were, once again, very impressed with her teachers, all three of them. They know so much about child development and they teach in ways that are very different than anything we have ever experienced, but that are very intuitive at the same time. You can tell how much they love their job. They had notes on Ari, but they also remember tons of things about her, despite the fact that they have 24 kids ranging in ages from three to five. I love and respect teachers like my daughter’s. Teachers out there, you really do change lives! As for my daughter’s teachers, I feel very blessed and very grateful to the three people that spend 25% of the day, five days a week, teaching my daughter and treating her like she is a person who matters, not one more little kid.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

All about Amor Chiquito: stories, funny statements and games

Lots of funny Ari stories, statements and games this week. Here they are, in no particular order:

One of our favorite restaurants, Bertucci’s, an Italian restaurant, is very child-friendly. Ari always gets paper, three crayons, and a piece of dough. We keep the crayons in the car for days when Ari needs/wants something to keep her entertained. The other day she was using her crayons and she said, “The crayons live in Bertucci’s.” I think she was talking about where they came from. Funny how she knows many verbs, but does not use all of them properly.

The other day we were in the car, driving to a yummy pizza restaurant. Ari said, “Mommy dolphin, I hungry!” She insists that she is a pink dolphin and that we are a dolphin family! I wonder what type of family we will be next.

Daddy told Amor Chiquito to go to him so they could brush teeth and get ready for bed. She was in the process of delivering my water bottle to me. She said “daddy, be patient.” We laughed for a while that time!

We were driving home and Ari was asking me repeatedly if she could play with our neighbor’s child, if the little girl was home, etc. Daddy has been thinking about using the “energy drain” concept that the Love and Logic series talks about. Basically, if the child is not listening/does not stop doing X, mom/dad loses energy and can’t play/do fun things. The child needs to restore Dad’s energy somehow. I have mixed feelings about this approach, but that is a post for another day. It seems to me that she does not get it yet. Maybe she is not ready. Maybe we can explain it better. I am not sure which one is true.

Back to the story, Daddy told Ari that if she kept repeating herself, I was going to lose a lot of energy and so I would not be able to call the neighbor to ask if her child could come over.

Two minutes later, Ari was asking again, but she was addressing Daddy this time.

Daddy: Oh, Ari, mommy is losing energy.

Ari: I not talking to her. I talking to you!

What? You didn’t know a 3-year-old could be a smart ass?! I have been starting to see a fair bit of that lately! Pretty funny stuff!

We have an area for shoes. Everyone’s shoes “live” there. Ari forgot/chose not to take her shoes off (I don’t know which it was). She was walking upstairs and Daddy stopped and asked about the shoes. Her response: Daddy, the shoes live upstairs sometimes!

Again, 3-year-old smart ass!

We have a new game. It is the train game. Ari is first, followed by Daddy, his hands on her shoulders. I am last. I put my hands on Daddy. We run at the same time, from the living room, through the dining room, to the kitchen, and back, over and over again. Ari loves it. It is uncomfortable for us grownups because we have to bend, seeing as how she is just over three feet tall and Daddy is almost six feet! But we can do it a few times and it makes her very happy!

Lastly, did you know that our car has the ability to sing? I knew Toyota Corollas are awesome, but I didn’t know they could sing! The other day our “car” sang the ABC song to us! It was Amor Chiquito, of course, singing in a very deep, silly voice!

Have I mentioned lately that I am thoroughly loving this age?! I really love to see her learning how to do new things, learning new words, exploring, figuring out what she loves to do, listening to her talk about how she would love to do such and such, but we can’t do it right now for whatever reason. I even love to see her challenging boundaries and working on conflict resolution because it gives me a glimpse of her true personality. So far, what I see is a little girl who is loving, compassionate, very persistent, but who can back off when it is necessary. I also see a little girl who is willing to compromise but who is also learning to say no. I am heavily biased, but, so far, it looks good!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Multiple Personalities of Amor Chiquito

I think I mentioned a while back that Amor Chiquito was an elephant for a while. Every few weeks she becomes something different, usually an animal. This has been going on for at least four months now.

She makes the animal sound occasionally.

She talks about how such and such animal may or may not eat whatever we are having for dinner.

She talks about how such and such animal does not wear clothes, but she is a dolphin that gets to wear clothes and mittens!

This is the list so far:
Elephant for most of December.
Kitty cat for most of January, I think.
Sister jaguar for over a month (Go Diego Go).
Fairy for about three weeks, after Nana brought her a fairy costume.
Pink dolphin as of last Monday.

I think I got them all. Oh, every now and then she says she is a mermaid when she is in the tub.

Funny, fascinating stuff!

I wonder how much of this is because it is developmentally appropriate, because she comes from a crazy family with puppets and talking monkeys, or because she is simply a very silly and creative kid!

Does your child do this every now and then? Tell me some funny stories!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Recipe: Quinoa Chocolate Cake

I came across this recipe about two weeks ago. It sounded strange to me, but I was very curious.

Does it sound weird? Yes, definitely!

Is it yummy? It is so, so yummy!

Does it taste super healthy? It does taste a bit crunchy, but this is a moist, delicious super chocolaty cake!

What makes me think it's yummy? Well, for one, my picky husband won't put it down! The man just can't get into whole grains and he loves this cake!

Try it! Tell me what you think!


1 cup white or golden quinoa
2 cups water
1/3 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups sucanat, rapadura, or sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)


1. Combine the water and the quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes. The water should be absorbed. Let cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two- 8" round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. (You can also make cupcakes with this recipe).

3. Combine milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or stand mixer. Blend or beat on low for one minute.

4. Measure out 2 cups of cooked quinoa and add to the blender or mixer. (You will probably have more than this so don’t just dump all the quinoa you made in).

5. Add the butter. Blend until smooth.
6. If using a blender, first whisk together the sucanat (or rapadura or sugar), cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. If using a stand mixer, just dump the remaining ingredients in and mix on medium until well blended.

7. Divide the batter between the two pans and bake on center rack of oven for 40-45 minutes (until a knife inserted comes out clean). If making cupcakes, fill cupcake tins ¾ of the way full and bake for 25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.)

8. Remove cakes from oven and cool completely in the pans before serving. You could make a two layer cake and frost it at this point. Or just serve each cake as is.

I have a plan! I would like to bake Ari's birthday cake myself. I will use this recipe. I will not reveal the ingredient list to my anti crunchy eating family until after they have fallen in love with this cake! I can't wait to see their faces when I tell them they just ate a whole lot of quinoa! The only thing is that Ari wants a Dora cake and decorating cakes is not one of my strengths, to say the least. We'll figure that out later. We have almost six months, after all!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Half birthday today.

Today is Amor Chiquito’s half birthday. I remember when she was about to turn one. It felt like a big deal. I can’t believe she is three and a half already! Wow! Before I know it, I’ll be planning her fourth birthday party.

At three and a half, Ari tells us stories, loves making up games, loves writing/drawing, cutting and gluing, loves doing things “as a family,” and loves making up songs! All the people that have told us that it gets better and better are absolutely right. I am loving this stage. It might be my favorite thus far.

Speaking of birthday parties, Ari is already telling me that she wants a Dora birthday. Why? Why me?! So be it. Her birthday, not mine. Sigh... :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Podcast: The Power of Poop

I don't even know where to start with this one!

There is a lot more to poop than the fact that it is stinky waste! Apparently, poop transfusions can help with some chronic illnesses. Here is the transcript to a podcast on transpoosions!

I have to say that I guess I have some hang ups and some growing up to do. I don't think I'm ready to sign up for this! That being said, I figured some of you might find it interesting, so there you have it! Go read about the power of poop!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Article: "Zee hormones of love are zee hormones of birth."

Interesting and uplifting read about birth. Check it out!

Now, if only more hospitals would get the hint!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Preschoolers throw the best birthday parties ever!

My birthday was yesterday. Geeky Entrepreneur is working on a huge, time-sensitive project so I had anticipated that Ari and I would be on our own for the day. It turns out that my brother needed a sitter for a few hours. Sounded good to me; Ari would get to play with her cousin!

This is how we celebrated my birthday!

The kids wanted to play with playdough. Ari chose pink and my nephew chose purple.

Next thing I know, they come over with playdough cakes, playdough candles, they are singing happy birthday, and they are cutting pieces of playdough cake for me to eat!

They did this a few times. They then chased each other for a while. We played hide and seek. We had pizza, grapes and orange juice for lunch. They thoroughly trashed my living room, but I had a great, unforgettable birthday! It was very cute, just priceless!

On Saturday, Geeky Entrepreneur wanted to celebrate my birthday. He wanted to get Ari involved. We went out for lunch and then Ari and Daddy went to get me a surprise. Ari came back with a huge smile, a big hug, a loud "surprise" and a piece of yummy chocolate espresso cake! What a cute and sweet family I have!

I think I will remember when I turned 28 for a while!

What celebrations have your children enjoyed recently? Ari is a big fan of Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and birthdays. She is already planning her Dora birthday party!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Article: Nursing Beyond One Year

This is a La Leche League article, with citations:

To those who can't wait until I wean Ari, I say there, now leave me alone!

She really is weaning herself, by the way. We are down to nursing four times a day and often she is nursing for a minute or so on each side. I am pretty certain that the before bed and morning feedings will be the last ones to go. Not sure which one will go first.