Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011

Where to start? Basically, we had a simple, enjoyable Christmas. I kept reminding myself that what matters is spending time with family. Presents and attempting to create the picture perfect holiday can be a lot of fun but can also be incredibly stressful. When I am stressed out, frankly, it’s easy to become the bitchy wife/mama. So, for us, simple is better. Here are the highlights, in no particular order:

Grandma and I put up a 4’ Christmas tree for Ari. She has really looked forward to it the past two years.

Ari helped me with gift wrapping. In other words, I did all the cutting and wrapping and she was in charge of the tape and of placing wrapped presents under the tree. It took quite a while. I’m slow at these things, poor eye sight and all, and adding a cute little one to the process made it take even longer. But it was nice quality time and it was a lot easier than last year. This time I can sincerely say she was helpful.

I decided to try something different this year and went for silly when it came time to give our relatives presents. Examples: my sister got a mango in a tiny gift bag. My mother’s boyfriend, who is always grabbing my fruit, got a fruit basket wrapped in snowmen wrapping paper!

We had dinner with my family on Christmas Eve. The kids got to open presents. Many photos were taken. I was picked on incessantly for my new haircut. We’re long hair people and so me having chin-length hair is just weird for the girls in my family. I told them to go give theirs to Wigs for Kids too and to shut the hell up, because, really, it was getting old!

My mother gave Ari a cardboard castle, among other things, which Ari absolutely loves. She now eats and will even watch TV from her castle. Silly kid! She is enjoying painting her castle. I am wondering how long the castle will be around for!

On Christmas day, we drove down to see my in-laws. Ari got to exchange presents with her grandparents, and, most fun of all, she got to decorate ginger bread cookies with Nana.

Another highlight for Ari was staying at a hotel. We stayed at a hotel with an indoor swimming pool this time. Nana joined us for a morning swim on the 26th. Nana and Ari had a blast and daddy and I enjoy a pool every now and then. It’s relaxing.

Hotel funny: as we walk in, Ari is incredibly tired, resting her head on Daddy’s shoulder. Once we walk into the room, suddenly, she is wide awake, super excited, jumping from bed to bed for a good half an hour. The area between the two beds was the muddy mud pit, she reported. Silly child!

We got to see Daddy’s 82-year-old grandma on the 26th. She made his favorite Italian cookies, some Sinnamon thingies. No idea what they’re called. She also made a bunch other different types of cookies and Ari was in heaven. As if that wasn’t enough, Ari was sent home with another dozen cookies! Sadly, Ari is down to one cookie per day. Mean mom and dad!

Here are links to what we got Ari for Christmas.


The cool thing about magna-tyles is that the three of us love them! I’m talking we never get bored when she wants to build with us! Talk about an ideal present!

The GreenStart Under the Sea floor puzzle:

And the Green Start Number Hunt floor puzzle:

Oh and then there is that tiny, cheap present that, originally, was Daddy’s, but we all know it’s Ari’s and Daddy’s now: the iPad II. Actually, we’re calling it a family present. I don’t use it, but it buys me some time when I need it most. Ari plays educational games on it, watches Netflix, takes pictures of whatever she builds with the Magna-tyles, and she Skypes with Nana. We’re finding that the iPad is a great thing to have when we’re traveling or when we’re incredibly exhausted but she isn’t. And Daddy gets to do all sorts of grownup stuff on it, of course.

I hope your holidays were enjoyable and as low stress as possible!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

All about healthy carbs!

We're big fans of carbs over here! We love white flour, breads, cakes, pasta, you name it. But I am aware that less is better and that whole grains are the way to go, of course. So, here I am, trying new grains on all of us, seeing what we like, what our sometimes picky taste buds tolerate!

Here is what I have tried during the past few months:

We (as in Ari and I) have been eating whole wheat pasta for a long time now.

Ari and Daddy don't care for brown rice, so I don't make it often.

whole wheat and coconut flour buttermilk pancakes

oatmeal chocolate chip muffins (oats and whole wheat flour)

waffles (half of the flour whole wheat and half white flour)

zucchini bread (2/3 whole wheat flour, 1/3 white flour)

carrot cake (half whole wheat flour, half white flour)

chocolate cake (quinoa, no flour whatsoever)

What I've learned thus far:
We don't care for the taste of whole wheat flour. So I add extra vanilla/sugar to make it tolerable.

I am experimenting with coconut flour, but that is a whole other learning process. You can't use too much of it in a recipe. It absorbs a lot of fluid. You must add additional fluids. Let's just say that you can ruin a recipe very easily!

This has and continues to be quite the learning process. But I keep on trying because it is totally worth it. Next? Will probably try almond flour. Will continue to research/try different whole grain flours in the hopes that we can stay away from the yucky whole wheat flour taste! If you have any tips, please feel free to share!

Dentist Appointments and Dental X-rays

I debated when the right timing for the first dentist appointment would be. I waited until it seemed like Ari would feel comfortable. So many people get incredibly anxious about seeing a dentist. I figured let's try to have positive experiences so that when she is a grownup, hopefully, she will feel at ease and will take care of her health. We brush, floss, etc. and her teeth seemed fine, so I opted not to rush it.

Ari's first appointment was in June. At that appointment, she learned about brushing properly and she learned about some of the tools dentists use. The hygienist and the dentist took a peak at her teeth. She got to pick a toy at the end. That was it.

Six months later, last week, was Ari's first official dentist appointment. Her teeth were cleaned, polished, flossed, etc. The dentist did the 3-minute exam. Crunchy Mama, i.e., me, turned down the x-ray.

My after thoughts:

Ari was very comfortable throughout the entire appointment both times. She was very excited to go to the dentist, particularly the second time, as a matter of fact.

I'll insert a funny here. Daddy had to wake Ari up so we would get to the appointment ontime. It was a slow process. Once he reminded her about the dentist, she got up instantly and talked about how she would be getting a new tooth brush. Whatever works, kid! You'd think we never buy her new tooth brushes!

Back to timing, I like to think that us preparing her for it, talking about it in a casual manner the day before was helpful. Also, there is a DVD where Elmo goes to his pediatrician that Ari loves to watch every now and then. I remember the first time she watched it. It made her remember her ear infection last March. It raised some questions about her upcoming (at the time) 4-year-old checkup and vaccines. All in all, Elmo's trip to the pediatrician was a very positive addition to our family!

Going back to the dentist appointments, I think the way the first appointment was run, with very low expectations, was very crafty. I think the appointments ought to be closer together, as opposed to the six months they recommended. Little kids remember a lot of things. But, Ari didn't remember too much about it. If I was to do it again, I may request that the appointments are only a month apart or so.

My last thought has to do with x-rays. The dentist and the hygienist recommended an x-ray. It felt like the dentist was pushing it a fair bit. I asked about their reasoning for it. Their response was that the x-ray would let them see how her adult teeth are developing, if they're all there, etc. My thought: ok, then what? What are the odds that a tooth is not developing well or that a tooth is missing? Why expose my child? If a tooth was, indeed, not developing properly or missing, what could we or would we do about it now? I didn't get a convincing answer, so I said we would discuss it again next June.

What do you think? Have you been offered this x-ray for your children? Have you learned anything about these x-rays that made you think you really ought to consent to doing them? Any websites or articles you would like to share? I will be researching this, but, seeing as how the appointment is not until June, it's just not high priority right now. Ari is home and so computer time is limitted until next week!