Thursday, August 29, 2013

Awesome and Counting

When she's not a total monster, she's actually pretty cute.

One, Two, Five, and then I don't know what she's saying

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

But I WANT It!

Have I mentioned that Natalie has become a complete terror?

She must have everything she wants. And she must have it right now. Or else she will cry about it for 3.2 hours.

Which is why she wore 7 shirts and no pants down to breakfast the other day.

Then, if she does get what she wants and it doesn't meet her expectations, she will also dissolve into a tantrum. On this occasion when she wanted to fit her head between two pillars in our stairs and, finally, was able to, she remained angry long after I helped wedge her out.

Unfortunately, she has been so cantankerous, we've had to put potty training on hold. She was eliminating inappropriately to get a rise out of us. At first, I tried ignoring it. But when she stood on her highchair at breakfast one morning and peed onto the table, I had a acknowledge that this wasn't working. So I put her in diapers, which she is quite unhappy about. The first day, she just rolled around all day grabbing her diaper and shouting. It's terribly frustrating because she exhibited such physical readiness, but her emotional maturity is lacking. She still uses the potty about half the time. Sometimes when I make the mistake of leaving her unattended, I come back to a scene like this.

I can't hardly take a shower without her taking off her diaper and peeing on something. Once in a while, it will be her potty, but the result is just the same, as she picks it up and sloshes the contents all over. 

She's been making a few strides lately, though. In her Highlights Hello magazines, there is a little find it puzzle that she was doing well with, so we got her an I Spy board book yesterday and she does surprisingly well picking out some of the objects. Also, she randomly started counting yesterday. For weeks, if not months, she has been repeating, "one, one, one" and I have been trying to get her to just say two or three. Then when Micah was home yesterday, she randomly counted to five, then threw in a seven, and later added eight, nine and ten. Wow!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

More Than You Needed to Know About Gluten.

I've had a fun time this week baking. On Sunday, I made a lovely rosemary olive oil bread. Then I got serious,.making whole wheat flour banana bread on Monday and whole wheat blueberry muffins on Wednesday. Right now I have the mixer working on my first 100% whole wheat sandwich bread. We'll see how it turns out. I'm nervous, since I don't have any gluten to add. I want to learn to make things without any weird ingredients like gluten or flax seed.

On the Characteristics and Purpose of Gluten
"But why, oh, why," inquires the Sarah of 5 months ago, "would you need to add gluten to bread? Doesn't it already have gluten? What is Gltuen anyway?" Before I began my bread-making quest, I had no idea what gluten was. I only knew that it was something in grain that celiac people were allergic to. After reading a ton of articles, I feel like I understand everything about bread-making so much more now that I understand gluten. Whole wheat berries have a shell (called bran) and a little, meaty reproductive part (called the germ) and the rest is what I think of as the meat- it's the starchy, center part. Technically called the endosperm, but since I can't say the word sperm without giggling, it I shall be referring to it as the meat. Gluten is a protein that is found in the meat. All purpose flour is made by removing the bran and germ and grinding down the meat. Whole wheat flour is made using all three parts of the wheat and therefore has a slightly lower amount of gluten by volume. But that's only half of the problem. When bread rises, the yeast is giving off gas (it's quite a flatulent organism) that becomes trapped by chains of gluten (that link together during the kneading process). The husky bran tends to stay sharp and tough. It's what gives whole wheat flour its added fiber bump as well as its brown color. So, the bran particles are in there pushed in between layers of gluten chains and as the gas moves them ever so microscopically, they are like, "Shwack! Shing! Take that, sucka!" slicing up the chains of gluten. The air then escapes and the bread doesn't rise as much and you get a dense loaf of bread.

So right now, I am trying recipes that just take advantage of the gluten content available in whole wheat flour but, let's be honest, my freshly ground wheat probably has pretty sharp bran in it, so I may have to cave and start buying gluten to add to my breads.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What Happened?!

Once, we had this little girl who, aside from being frequently grumpy and difficult to soothe, was really rather sweet.

All of the sudden, it seems that aliens have replaced her with an equally adorable replica, except they have emptied her contents and filled her with straight, undiluted angst. She is flying off the handle at every little thing. I feel like we are constantly teetering on the brink of a full-out fit. She just plops down where ever we may be- a public bathroom, the middle of a party- and starts screaming and writhing. Our protocol is: Step 1.) figure out what she wants. This part is really tough sometimes, as the tantrum may be over something as small as wanting more lemonade to grander, more serious issues, like dissatisfaction with how her shoes are fastened.... even if she has been perfectly fine with how they have been fastened for the past 5 hours. Step 2.) Determine if her want can be feasibly met. Can she be trusted after spilling 3 consecutive glasses of lemonade? Do I want my child walking around Walmart barefoot? Sometimes the answer is no. Just, no. Which leads to Step 3:) Walk away from screaming, melting child, hoping that by refusing to offer attention, the fuel to the fire will be squelched and she will busy herself with following to keep up. If in public, ignore the judgmental glares from people who don't have kids or who delude themselves into believing that their kids never misbehaved and welcome the sympathetic glances from those kindred spirits who have been there, done that. 

The past couple of day have been a bit hard- a lot of traveling, seeing new people and eating waaaayyyyyyyyy too much sugar. 

Micah's grandpa passed away this week, so we attended the viewing on Friday and the burial on Saturday, followed by a family lunch. Charlotte asked me to bring cookies for 30 people. So, naturally, I ended up making 4 dozen cookies, a loaf of lemon poppy seed bread, chocolate chip cookie bars and some monkey bread. I get carried away and take my responsibilities way too seriously when I get food assignments. I did this all in 2 hours on Saturday morning while Micah took Natalie out to play at the park.

Micah watched Natalie one night this week while I went to pick out fabrics for a nursing cover for my sister. I picked the following combinations. Guess which ones she picked?

#3! Which was my favorite, too. But it was Micah's least favorite. He insisted that the 2 patterns don't go together at all. I tried to show him an Uli dress from project runway and he still didn't get it. I guess some things you just have to see the final product.

And finally, here's Natalie, making her mommy very proud, checking out the grocery store ad:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Field Report

We are on Week 4 Day 2 of Operation Potty Train.

And we've had some setbacks.

While Natalie has had some great days that seemed very promising, with only one or two accidents, her interest and will sometimes deteriorate suddenly. On Friday, she had only 2 accidents. On Saturday, 1. On Sunday, maybe 2 or 3. Then on Monday she had nearly a dozen accidents and seemed determined to exert her will by refusing to sit on the potty all day. Intent on avoiding a power struggle, I didn't press the issue and it seemed to work, with only 3 accidents yesterday. Today, she has already had 5 accidents by noon, including an incident in which she opened up the dishwasher and projectile-urinated into it. I was shocked. Somewhat because I was surprised that she would have the gall to do such a thing, but mostly because I couldn't believe how far such a little girl could project her pee.

I know that she gets it because when she wants to, she tells me when she has to go (usually this happens in front of other people when she wants to show off), then sits on the potty and pees, no problem. Plus, after the awesome FHE lesson on going potty that accompanied this illustration, I really don't see how there could be room for doubt or confusion:

I've still got some patience left, but I wish that things could be more consistent far the sake of the carpet. I've been using enzymatic cleaner that you soak the stain with, but at $10/half gallon it's pretty expensive. I borrowed a bissell carpet cleaner from a friend and had to go over the carpet a full 5 times over 2 days to dispel the repugnant odor of urine. I planned to hang onto the carpet cleaner for a few more weeks and spot clean as needed, but my friend's husband just came over unannounced and needed it back. My friend just had a baby in their apartment (not by plan) and apparently it made quite a mess.

It's cool that she had her baby today, since today is the exact day that I guessed at her baby shower. That adds credibility to my fortune-telling skills. I shall therefore publicly declare that Darlene's baby will be born on Thursday, September 5. We'll see if I can be 2/2.

And now on to more interesting things

I bought a grain mill and it finally arrived! After Natalie went to bed on Monday, we had real FHE. We tested out the new mill on our hard white wheat that we got at the LDS home storage center on Saturday. We made some nice flour, which I turned into a loaf of banana bread  and a loaf of rosemary olive oil bread. Both were fabulously delicious. After testing out the different levels of coarseness of the grinder, I cooked the less fine wheat into cereal and we gave it a try. As we sat across from each other eating our whole wheat cereal, Micah asked, "So, is this what it's going to be like during the apocalypse? You and me?" To which I responded, "Yeah, but without the milk, sugar and raisins in our wheat."

I've decided that buying whole wheat is AWESOME. I originally started researching it because I wanted a more economical way to buy flour, since I was picking up a 5 pound bag once or twice a month. Unfortunately, whole wheat flour has a high moisture content and doesn't last well unless it's in the fridge or freezer. So buying in larger bulk seemed impossible without an extra freezer. But the whole wheat grains (called berries) last much, much, much longer. The cans at the LDS home storage center come out to $.63/pound, slightly more than the $.55/pound price of whole wheat flour, but I can buy larger bulk bags for $.45/pound. The only problem is that the larger bags will need to be rotated through, since they only have a shelf-life of 3 years when open. Thought in an area so prone to bugs, my best bet would be packing it away in PETE containers (eg empty juice bottles) with oxygen absorbers. 

Ultimately, I may not save a lot. But, I could spend about the same amount on whole wheat as I would on flour while maintaining a lot more grain in our home as emergency food storage. Plus, for around the same price, whole wheat is much healthier. Once ground, a lot of its nutrients last only a couple of days. In a half cup, there are 6g fiber and 5g protein. And there's the versatility. Wheat can be sprouted, so in a Wall-E scenario, it can be planted to sustain future populations. After the walmart garbage is all cleaned up, that is. It can be made into flour, cereal, even steamed and used like rice or pasta or even as a meat stretcher with ground beef!

So, wheat is pretty awesome. And when I only need small amounts, I can make flour in a blender. How cool is that? Though I feel good about the mill we bought, since electricity won't last long after the zombies take over :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Naptime Craft

I made this nursing cover for a friend who is having a baby soon. It was awesome- not the easiest craft in the world, but fairly straightforward and I had it done in about 2 hours. I only wish I could have concentrated better in the fabric store. As it was, Natalie was running around pulling down notions and bolts and I had to choose from the entire store's selection within about 35 seconds. The red is polka dot and the flowers have red dots on the center, so they match better than this poor-quality picture shows. But still, not a "wow" pattern combination. This is no Uli nursing cover. But it's cool and pretty well made, if I do say so myself. I want to make more! The supplies are under $10 and I used mine so much. Maybe a certain sister of mine who will soon be exploding forth with child could use one....

Friday, August 2, 2013

Play: The Potty Training Pitfall

We are 12 days into the introduction of panties. For the last 3 days, we have had the number of accidents each day in the single digits. This represents progress. Slowly, but surely. I took her out two days ago to aerobics and yesterday to the park and store in panties and she was accident-free both times. Woohoo! Then today, she had 2 accidents at aerobics but then was accident-free at the store and while eating out at Mad Italian.

I have been diligently timing her pees and poops so that if a suspiciously long interval passes, I know that I need to watch her extra closely to avoid an accident. Or, more likely, wisk her onto the toilet mid-accident. Sometimes she stops mid-pee while i carry her to the potty and then pees the rest there. This means that she is definitely developing those "hold it" muscles, so I feel more confident that she is developmentally capable of being trained.

The biggest issue is getting her to stop playing to go to the bathroom. If we can catch her when she just begins to be interested in a toy or activity, it's easier to motivate her by saying, "First, we'll go potty. Then we'll watch Curious George/color/play outside/eat a snack/throw stuff at the wall/scream into the vaccuum attachment/remove all of the shoes in the shoe bin, etc." But when she's into a toy and it's been 45 minutes since her last potty visit and she starts grabbing at her undies, there is almost no chance of success. If I leave her to play, she will not stop voluntarily except to play with the new puddle of pee that will soon appear on the carpet. If I try to take her away from the toy, she will throw a huge fit, refuse to sit on the potty anyway, and probably pee while writhing in my arms to get back. So we've come up with 2 simple solutions:

1: Take the toy to the potty

 2: Take the potty to the toy

50% of  carpet incidents so far have occurred in front of this kitchen set

Potty training has been pretty consuming, so the other cool things we've done lately seem like another life!