Friday, November 25, 2011

Potty update

Potty training is still going well. At first I was letting Julia run around at home half naked, which made getting to the potty easier. She seemed to have much more self-awareness while naked too. But children must wear clothes sometimes, so I started putting her in pants and underwear at home. There were a few accidents for a few days, but that soon ended and she hasn't had an accident in over a week. This has given me confidence to venture out in public. We've made 5 or so trips out and about and had no accidents so far. She's declined to use a public bathroom though. She'll let me sit her on the big potty, but no results so far. Still, her capacity for holding it seems to present no problems, and so we go potty when we get home. I've even backed off asking her every 20 minutes if she has to go potty since she seems fine with announcing "tee-tee" when she needs to go. I am mourning the change in profile. No more huge baby bubble butt from her cloth diapers. During the day, anyway. Still in diapers at night. This does mean that she can fit into jeans and other non-stretchy pants though! This has significantly changed the fit of Julia's pants wardrobe. She can now fit into the 24 month and 2T pants that were not going to get over the diaper. It seems most clothes now days are cut to fit the disposably-diapered baby.
And time for a little product promotion, Julia was caught coloring on the walls with pencil awhile ago, and try as I might to scrub it with cleanser and a rag, the graphite wasn't budging. Despairing that I'd have to re-paint the entire house before I left, I remembered the "Magic Eraser" sitting in the laundry room. I'd bought a pack because my sister Anna had asked me to send her one in China, and one was still in the box. Rather skeptically, I wet the sponge and scrubbed and rather like "magic" the graphite was gone!!!! I  applied the sponge to the dirt marks around the doorknob as well and I am forever sold on the wonders of the Magic Eraser. I did a little research and learned that one can buy melamine foam (which is the stuff of Magic Eraser and it's competitors) in quantities of 30 for $10 and 60 for $15 on Amazon so you need not pay $3 each for the thing at the grocery store. is a good technical explanation of the wonders of melamine foam.
In case you have not tried it, I suggest you get yourself one!

Thanksgiving week

Olaf has been busy re-assembling his pirate ship into one that is continually bigger and better. Soon I imagine it will self-destruct from it's own weight, but so far, so good.

We've had bits and blobs of snow, but nothing that has stuck around.

I've been sewing more little dinosaur baby toys. With crinkle paper in the necks.

And I sewed another pair of baby pants. I love the t-shirt pattern.

and out of the scraps, I sewed a few baby hats. I'm learning how to do the fun stitches on my sewing machine, so my hems suddenly got a great deal nicer looking.

Julia's decided that accessories are the key to life.

For Thanksgiving, we made Grandma Wahlberg's cranberry sauce.

In her old grinder we ground up 1 lb fresh cranberries, one orange with a little bit of the peel left on and one peeled apple. Then stir in up to a cup of sugar and let it sit for a day before serving. No cooking! I love a bowl of this with whipped cream.

Since we had the grinder out, we ground up the carrots and celery and apples and onions for the stuffing. Stuffing is what I live for at Thanksgiving.

and I made apple and pumpkin pie.

Julia's into play dough

and Olaf was too, making it into Octopuses attacking the ship.

the sun was out, the weather was mild. Granny came over and we feasted.  I was a tad distracted by all the food, so no photos. 

and later that night I finished another self-designed hat. I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cranberry Whip Recipe

Mom made this today, and since I'm a fan of unique recipes, here it is:
In a saucepan, boil over medium heat 3 cups cranberry juice. Slowly sprinkle in 6 Tbsp sugar and while stirring briskly add 1/2 cup uncooked cream of wheat cereal. reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, 6-8 minutes. When thick, move to a mixer bowl and beat on high speed 10-15 minutes until light and fluffy and pink! pour into individual serving bowls and serve within 2 hours at room temperature.
Instead of cranberry juice, apple, strawberry or raspberry juice can be used, but add a Tbsp of lemon juice as well.  You could also fold in fresh berries at the end!

While it's a tad unusual, I think this would make an awesome holiday dessert for a vegan or dairy intolerant person. You could make a custard-like pie by putting this in a graham cracker crust. I'll probably use this recipe in Alaska for a whipped cream substitute, as fresh dairy can be very hard to come by in the small villages.

25 ways to wear a scarf

I got led to this amazing video of 25 ways to tie a scarf in a awesome 4.5 minute video!


This definitely makes me think I need more scarves in my life.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spirit Stick Tutorial

Spirit Sticks are something I learned to make from my dad. He's been making them for various events for several years. They are super easy to make and infinite possibilities for themes lie in the ribbon colors. Holidays, parties, dress-up play, or a rainy day can all benefit from a spirit stick or two.

start with a dowel of pretty much any width and length. or find a nice stick and saw off one end. Sand or paint as desired.

get a small eyelet screw

screw it into one end. I find that this is easy enough to do by hand, but you can drill a small hole first if you like.

cut some lengths of ribbon. I prefer narrow but any will do, so long as the bundle will fit into your eyelet. Curling ribbon could be used as well for a fancy effect. A length of about 3/4 of your dowel is good. longer and tangling becomes an issue.

Melt the ends of the ribbon by holding near to a candle until the heat seals the end.  Do NOT burn yourself or let babies play with fire. Common sense please! This step can be skipped if a little ribbon unraveling won't bother you.

Thread ribbons through eyelet

and tie a double knot

voila, a spirit stick!

give to your kiddo and supervise for safe fun.

We made these for a friend's wedding a few summers ago. We all waved them for the wedding party's arrival, and again while processing in the ceremony. Very fun, but again, common sense caution! These have potential to turn into whips with the right sort of kid wielding the stick. And of course there is whacking potential when you give kids sticks. Shorter sticks reduce the danger, but supervision and limit setting is a really good idea. These are also nice made on a larger scale and inserted into a flag brace. They blow beautifully in the wind. This could be a party activity, if you let kids pick colors and screw eyelets into pre-drilled holes. This blog has her own tutorial for making ribbon wands, as she calls them, the main difference being that she adds a key ring before tying on the ribbons and adds a bell!

Getting the Photo

I got Julia's photo taken. This is a family tradition. At home, we have all our baby photos on the wall, taken around a year and a half in black and white. I love the photos because you don't find such looks now in photos taken digitally. You can take a million and pick out the perfect smile. Back in the "old days" you got a handful of proofs to choose from and that was it. Turns out my experience was somewhat like that. I opted to go to the evil empire Walmart's photography center since I could little afford the rates of the local independent photographers who all had minimum packages (of $100!) and offered 4 hour sessions with outfit changes and scenery changes and charged $40 per print. Well I wanted one specific pose, one print and no bells and whistles and it turns out that's hard to find. So Walmart it was, and the teenage employee couldn't get her camera to work for the 5 minutes that Julia was willing to smile. Minute 6, the camera worked but Julia was done cooperating and no longer amused by the puppet or my antics. She got some shots, and I was fairly pleased with the one I chose, but man, did she miss some good smiles. We declined all the offers for photo montages and faded effects and really declined to provide the e-mail addresses of 10 friends and family that would earn us a pile of freebies, paid our $20 and got out of there. Two months later our photo was finally ready!

my older brother Christopher Sun
Me, Mary Star

Caroline Crescent
Anna Meridian
Grace Dawn
Joseph Wind

Olaf Sky

and Julia North!
Finding the chair for her to sit on was no small task either. By good luck, a few days before I was scheduled for the shoot, I stopped in an antique store and found this wicker rocker for $10. I wanted a wood chair or bench of some sort as I knew Walmart would have things like giant plastic gumball machines but nothing like a simple wooden bench. (And right I was.) I'm rather glad it's over, and there are no more family photo traditions to uphold (on my side anyway, Dave might have other ideas...)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

videos of Julia in the snow

If you can't see these and are using Safari, try Firefox or another browser. 
Works for me for some reason.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

winter comes and we take a trip

Julia was impressed with the first snow fall. She quickly discovered the joy of eating snow.

Since snow was falling, I made caramels. We didn't have a candy thermometer, so I was relying on mom's expertise and the Joy of Cooking candy section. They turned out rather well!

After they cooled, I cut and wrapped them. Some were sprinkled with coarse salt and some with walnuts. 
wrapping took forever!

Olaf wanted to make rolled cookies, so we did that too. A full day of premature Christmas celebrating.

Julia's rocking chair is getting some holes in the wicker, so I sewed a little cushion to save it and Julia's backside. 

Olaf made his biggest lego ship yet. 
In a frenzy of last-minute planning, I decided to take the train to Seattle over Veteran's day weekend to visit a few friends and family. Julia did very well on the 12 hour train ride. I was worried about how we'd handle potty time, and ended up bringing part of the potty chair along. She used it several times on the train, but figured out quickly that she was in disposable diapers and that was the end of the potty. I was fairly nervous that this would mean she would forever refuse the potty, but upon returning home, she went right back to it! We spent a night and part of a day with my friend Erin, then met up with my sister Grace for a quick visit, then met up with Grandma Gini for a night, had a quick visit with my sister Caroline, then went over to Grandpa Dave's for our last night before taking the train back down to Klamath Falls. 
Some reason you have cigars hidden in your cupboard Caroline? 

I thought Caroline's Christmas apron made a lovely little dress for Julia. 

Auntie Gracie made kale!

Julia was rather pleased with it.

She seemed to remember the grandparents. She headed right over to the stash of toys and grandma Gini's

do we still look alike?

Grandma Gini made spritz
Auntie Caroline seemed to enjoy the coloring as much if not more than Julia. She told me about the unexpected  meeting of Grace's emo "boyfriend" the night before! I was shocked, as Grace had completely neglected to mention any such relationship in our 1 1/2 hours together.  Today Grace retorted with this via facebook:
"Contrary to what Caroline may have said, Michael is not emo. Not at all, she concludes this based on the fact that he has black hair. And was purely coincidentally wearing a black pants at the time."

oh, I do love my sisters!

At this point, I fell off the picture taking wagon and failed to get any at Grandpa Dave's or on the train home. Grandpa Dave had a little rocking chair for Julia, handed on from his cousin! Julia thought it was lovely and I felt my typical conundrum of stuff: 
The rocker was lovely and in better shape than the one in Klamath Falls, but I would have to carry it on the train and then carry it back up somewhere after Christmas. 
Take it to Alaska? 
Would I then leave it there when we move? 
Can I do that with a rocker handed down from family? 
Will the rocker even fit into a rubbermaid tote to mail? 
If I don't take it with us, will she outgrow it before she can use it?
Will I appear ungrateful by leaving it behind at Grandpa Dave's? (Which I did, for now.)
These questions and many more bother me constantly. What to take and what to leave. Such as the stroller? I use it daily and can't imagine what I'd do without it, but Julia's getting too tall for it, and will we have a deep snow winter rendering it useless in Alaska? If I leave it or sell it, will I go stir crazy trapped inside all winter? I could bring the baby backpack, but Julia's so heavy now that it gives me huge knots in my shoulders. I could buy a sled. Will Julia like taking walks in a sled? Maybe I should sell the stroller and try to buy one with more headroom? Maybe I could get one shipped to Alaska? But how would I know it would fit her well without seeing it first?
On and on the questions go. 

The train back was less fun since the novelty was worn off, but we managed fine. Julia was pretty thrilled to be back in her comfort zone, resumed using the potty and I resumed doing class work.