Monday, December 17, 2012

Oddess Bites: Fake Ums and Tater Crowns

Occasionally I shall post bits about cooking.  Mostly it will be tips and tricks on horrible foods.  I would love to say that I always serve my family organic so and so's & farm fresh meats, dairy and eggs.  Not so much my reality folks.  Sometimes it's not gelivery, it's GiDorno Pizza.

In this quick installment, I shall instruct you on how to make fake-um sandwiches without fully clogging your arteries.  Just partially.  I will also let you in on the secret of why mommy's tater crowns are so much better than daddy's.

So, fake-ums.  No brand names here, my friend.  Grab the frozen steak wafers of your choice and cook them.  Then, to make them slightly less gross (because let's face it; they are yummy but they didn't exactly present you with fine dining grade carpaccio in that cardboard box) flip the pan full of fake steak into a screen drainer like this:
Mash meat product with spatula several times to de-grease it.  Chuck it back in the pan and stick it back on the still hot-but off burner.  Add your whiz or provolone and mash once more with a spatula.  Stick on bun and enjoy.

Now onto my tater crown trick.  It's really quite simple but makes a huge difference.  Spray baking sheet with olive oil spray.  Chuck tater product on the tray as directed.  Then spray tops of taters with oil.  Bake for 2 minutes longer than the suggested time.  Salt as soon as you pull the pan out.  Voila!  They're as crispy as Zonic tots.  You know the fast food place, Zonic?  That's right kids, there will be no litigation on the Oddess.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Toeing the Line

It all started with mommy's pure laziness.  I was sporting some old toenail polish that I hadn't removed.  Alex noticed it and said "Uh oh mommy!  Your red toenails fell off!"  I assured him that it was just old polish and let him know that mommy would get rid of it and just have plain toenails for a while.  That would not do for my creative and awesome son.  You see, he's a huge fan of Zurg from the Toy Story movies.  And Zurg is primarily Purple.  Thus, Alex's favorite color is purple.  "Mommy, you're toenails need to be purple."  Only he pronounces it "puh puh" which makes me want to squeeze him with hugs every single time he says it.  "Alright Alex, next time we go to the store, you can pick out some purple polish for mommy's toes."  Boy did he hold me to that.  "Polish mommy!" he shouts from his perch on the end of the shopping cart.   He jumps down and peruses the colors.  I direct him to the Sally Hansen (I do have standards even if I'm lazy about them) and pull down 3 different purples.  He picks one and chucks it none too delicately into the cart.

Fast forward to a week or so later.  Ethan is down for a nap and we have 20 minutes until Alex is due for his.  "Alex," I say, "would you like mommy to paint her toenails purple now?"  "Yes mommy!"  I wasn't surprised at the reaction, he'd been mentioning the purple polish daily since it's purchase.  I grabbed some paper towels and sat on the floor with him.  I knew the next question was probably coming, but I didn't want to lead him toward OR away from it.  "Mommy, can I have purple toes too?" I tell him of course he can.  Then I say "Alex, some people think it's silly for boys to have toenail polish.  Does that bother you or do you not care?"  "I not care, mommy."  Alrighty then.  Just as long as he is aware of the outside world and can make decisions on his own, I'm happy.  So we got down to it and the results turned out great, I'd say.  Please note that this purple-toenail-havin' boy is also sporting camo pants.  I'd say he's pretty eclectic in his fashion sense.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Let Sleeping Babies Lie

There are so many differences in the raising of a second child.  I will agree with most that parents, myself included, are a bit more relaxed with the second child.  With Alex and Ethan being pretty close together, I'm hyper aware of when I may be too tough on the big guy and too easy on the baby.  That being said, personality plays a big role in how I'm raising them.  Alex is a tough nut.  He has a very strong personality:  He seems to have always known who he is and what he wants.  He's pretty driven for a 2.75 year old.  Ethan on the other hand, is a seriously laid back dude.  He'll wander into his and Alex's room and play blocks by himself.  If I wasn't a frequent checker, I'd be paranoid that he'd climbed out of the window and was halfway to California.  He DOES have a wicked temper though.  It takes a while to fire, but if he gets too frustrated at something his scream can shatter glass.  With the two disperate personalities I have to take two approaches.  Alex requires a good bit of nudging to keep him on a non destructive path, whereas Ethan just needs a single course correction and he's of in the suggested direction.

Their sleeping patterns ended up wildly different as well.  Alex never learned to latch and was stuck to wires and IVs for the first week of his existence.  I think it had a major impact on his need for comfort at bedtime.  The driven part of his nature is in direct opposition of this however, and makes him fight sleep with full force.  The result has been a baby that HAD to have mama, but would headbutt me in the teeth at every opportunity in order to stay awake.  He would flip and he would flop and he would rear back with every ounce of strength to come back at me at full force.  Every single time I needed to get him back to sleep it would be a fight for a minium of 30 minutes, but more likely upwards of an hour.  My glider has a permanent bum mark from the many, many, manymanymany hours I rocked him.  When I finally hit breaking point, he was a year and half old and I was growing bigger with my pregnancy by the minute.  I reached out to a core group of fantastic mama friends to help me with sleep training.  I wanted to do it "gently" in my heart but knew that Alex would simply not respond.  He'd be sucking me back into the rocking routine in a hot minute.  I couldn't wait any longer.  My need for sleep and my shrinking lap simply weren't going to last another week.  So, following some sage advice from "the mom of A" I did the 5-10-15 method.  You put the baby in his bed and soothe him a bit, then let him know you are going and he needs to go to sleep.  Then after the inevitable 5 minutes of freaking out (yup, the mom and the kid) you go in, settle the baby back down and leave.  You cannot pick him up or it just won't work.  Then repeat 10 minutes later then 15 after that.  After the 15 minute mark you have to just let it go.  It's a tough road.  It's not for every parent and certainly not for every kid.  It really worked for Alex though.  It was 2 nights of Alex crying, mommy pacing the floor, and daddy blissfully working lates.  I HAD to do it when D wasn't home because the first time he looked at me while Alex was screaming would have cracked me.  He could look at me to ask me the time, but all of the self doubt and worry that I was irrevocably "breaking" my baby would have bubbled to the surface like Vesuvius on a bad day.  After the 2 bad nights, Alex went to bed with little to no fight and finally slept through the night until 6 am.  We've had small setbacks along the way, but all in all he's pretty good about bedtime.

Ethan has been a different story entirely.  Born a mere 2.5 hours from the onset of labor, you'd think he was the one with unstoppable drive.  But birth was the only thing that Ethan has been in hurry for thus far.  His bed was set up by mine in the hospital but he spent most if his time in mine.  He latched like a barracuda and loved snuggling, but was totally cool with being put in his bassinet when we arrived back home.  And in that bassinet he stayed until his legs had to be slightly bent to lay in it.  He was simply not interested in sleeping anywhere else and put up a little fuss at any alternative.  Finally, in an effort to pry him out of his bassinet-haven, I took the basket off it's stand (it was starting to feel a bit dangerous anyway!) and set it in the bottom of the pack and play.  The coup de grace to the bassinet was at the end of a nap when I heard him giggling to himself.  He had just learned to roll over the day before and had rolled himself out of the basket.  The basket had righted itself so he ended up laying on his tummy next to it.  To Ethan, it was the funniest darned thing that he'd ever done.  To me, it was a close call.  If he'd done that a mere 5 days earlier he'd have flipped his basket off the stand.  I put the "bassinet attachment" in the top of the pack and play so I wouldn't have to reach down 3 feet in the middle of the night to grab him.  That only lasted a month until he was too heavy, but he was pretty content with it.  I then had to make a big decision.  He'd been in our room longer than Alex ever had.  Do I move him into the spare room?  Do I risk putting him in the room he would ultimately share with Alex knowing that fussing may wake up my big guy?  Do I move the crib into our room?  I didn't want to alienate my husband by keeping the baby in the room, but when I mentioned it to D, he seemed pretty okay with the idea.  So I dismantled the crib (it was literally a half inch too big to go in and out of our door frames.  sigh.) and reassembled it in our room.  It even matched the furniture.  Alex got his "big boy bed" with Toy Story on it and hasn't looked back.

Now Ethan is approaching one and it's time to consider what to do to get him through the night and move him in with Alex.  A good friend, "mom of H" is currently sleep training her son very successfully with a gentle night weaning method.  I am considering this, but my little dude is already doing the work for me.  He's been breast fed his whole infancy and I'm starting to wean him under the care of our pediatrician.  Now that he's drinking cow's milk along with mama milk at night, he's sleeping longer and longer without interruptions.  In addition to that he's now a walker.  This new trick has exhausted him in an altogether different way which has consolidated his naps to one long snooze rather than two shorties.  He is the one leading this, because his personality allows for it.  He's not a "baby jerk" when he gets exhausted.  He just gets a bit fussy.  He also will not allow himself to be overtired.  He'll sit himself down or pull on your pant leg and rub his eyes.  When it's time to put him down, he doesn't want a bottle or breast in his mouth to fall asleep.  He'll drink, then push it away and snuggle in.  He does have occasions where he will fight sleep, but they are few and far between.  He just wants to lay on his side with me facing him and look at my face until his eyelids droop.  If he wakes slightly when I put him in his bed, he sees where he is, sighs, and fades back to sleep.  Who knows if I'll even have to intervene.

And after the work I've done with Alex to calm the inner monster at bedtime, he's very content with a bit of cuddling, a cup of milk and a good made-up story about himself, Ethan, and his neighbor buddy Shay.
(Alex sleeping with his Puppy on the cruise)


Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Mommy, I Got Raisins!" & Other Bath Time Fun

I consider myself very lucky that I don't have "bath-resistant" kids.  Both of my boys love to take baths.  It would save a ton of time if they would civilly take one together, but separate baths afford me some good one on one time with them.

Alex is a fan of our oversized tub.  While he doesn't mind taking a bath in his standard tub and will even take a shower occasionally (this is a great thing when you live near a beach), he loves when we fill the "big tub" up with water and bubbles.  We've accumulated some McDonalds toys from our occasional road trips and they make great bath toys.  You don't care if they get waterlogged or broken.  To a two year old the random movie characters are just people he can imagine with.  They aren't constrained by their movie characters, because my kid has never seen the movies they're from.  He puts them on the rim of the tub and has them act out all sorts of scenes of bad guys and good guys where a duck saves Metroman from the evil Jack Frost.  Or a dinosaur dunks a weird cat creature from some Ice Age spin off.  We have two aquamen that were given to us from family and two of the same charachter just blows his mind.  When the water starts to cool and I have to beg him to get out, we always check for raisin fingers.  It's something my mom did with me and it's fun to pass on the tradition.

Ethan is hysterical in the bath.  Ever since he could sit up well in the standard bathtub, he's been a splashing fool.  Now that he's even more comfortable with his balance, rolling, and general confidence, he loves to roll around in the tub.  He'll even lay on his back as I only put 2-3 inches of water in the tub.  He'll lay there and languish.  Just when you think it's safe to get close to him he kicks his legs with wild abandon to get you soaked.  The kid is funny.  And not just a little diabolical.  He also likes to get on his hands and knees and belly flop.  He bows his back, kicks his feet and has his hands over his head like an Olympic diver mid-air.  He'll play with all of Alex's toys in the tub but loves water in general the most.  In fact, even after he's all dried off and jammied up, if he hears the tub run for Alex's bath he hightails it into whichever bathroom we're in and tries to jump in.  Jammies and all!

I hope the love of all things bath continues and I don't have future fights for cleanliness.  I'm not counting on it; they ARE boys after all.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


A new blog name.

 An 11 month old Eboo.

A 2.75 year old Alex.

I shall refresh my blog and pray to the creative gods to keep me writing. I need this to keep my head straight. Also, it'll keep me off of Facebook. I've written about the great parts of FB before, but it's also a monumental time sucker. I'm not exactly being at my most creative when I'm posting about finishing my laundry "at last!" or reading another HuffPost about Katy Perry and her alien political leanings. As for the brand new shiny name, my life is divided a bit differently now than it was when I only had one peanut. With a pair of dudes, I have less time for beer dinners, much to my chagrin. I do have more time (not really, but it feels good to say so) for juggling and innovating in our home. Especially now that we are home owners and no longer renters. So prepare yourself for such THRILLING (read:mundane) subjects as "How To Hang Chair Rails Without Hanging Yourself." And "Oops, My Kids Just Spilled Milk On The Leather Couch. Watch As I Chase Them Around The House With A Rubber Spatula!!" Occasionally I may even share an innovative little tidbit. Like when I couldn't find an elastic puller while sewing shorts, so I super glued the end of the elastic to a Popsicle stick and ran the sucker through the casing with ease. Snip and go.

 Yup, my life is the exciting one. But I like it.