Stirring the dry ingredients

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!  I have so many things to be thankful for, starting with my wonderful family.  We are all happy and healthy, and that really is a lot to be thankful for.  I’m thankful for our cozy home, our two ridiculous dogs, and the love and support of our extended family, both blood relations and the chosen relations. I’m thankful for the small things too: the last crop of raspberries from our back yard; the fun creative outlet that is making jewellery; and, those deliciously quiet moments where everyone else is napping.

I originally wanted to do something exciting today with the family, since hubby and I are both enjoying the long weekend.  I thought of going out somewhere, but couldn’t decide on anything that A would really enjoy.  So, we stayed in and have been playing and enjoying time together at home.  It wasn’t all playing with the Little People farm and banging on A’s drum – I took a look through the pantry and found all the ingredients we needed to make some banana bread!  I got A to help by pouring ingredients into her bowl and stirring the dry ingredients, which she did with much care.  I brought her little table into the kitchen so it would be at the right height, and she loved helping out almost as much as she enjoyed tasting the finished product! Those who know me know I’m not much of a baker, but if it helps get A enthusiastic about the kitchen and preparing food, I’m willing to learn.

Stirring the dry ingredients

Stirring the dry ingredients, most of which stayed in the bowl.

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Girls, strength, and the beauty ideal: A beach conversation

lovelaughlaundry:

My daughter is just 20 months old right now, and I find myself thinking about how to help her, in the future, focus on all the cool things she can do, and not just how she thinks she looks in the eyes of others. She’s so full of self-confidence and curiousity and tenacity that I want to do everything I can to protect and nuture it. This question is something I’ll put in my back pocket and save for when it’s needed.

Originally posted on Rebecca Hains:

My five-year-old son befriended an eleven-year-old girl at the beach last week. As they worked together to create a sand castle, her dad and I chatted about my work as a media studies professor and his work as a high school art teacher.

“So, you said your research is about body image?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s something I’m really passionate about.”

“You know, my passion is figure drawing,” he said, “but it’s difficult to teach to high school students today. They just don’t have realistic ideas about the female body.”

“Oh, in what way?” I asked.

“Teenagers don’t know what real bodies look like any more,” he lamented. “They have a preconceived idea in their heads—a bias that they can’t see past. I can see in their drawings that they’re not seeing. So they complain: ‘Hey, Mr. Richards, how come all your women have muscles? They look like men. That’s gross.’”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Your students think…

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Dear A: 19 months old and completely awesome.

Hello, my dear! I haven’t written anything in a while and that’s a shame, since so much has been happening.

Any time there’s good weather your daycare provider takes you out to the park for an hour or so. You enjoy the swings and the slides, but your favourite is digging in the sand. You love to make sand castles and dig and put handfuls of sand on the play structure. You even say “sand castle” when you see your park toys.

You’ve been having a great time at gymnastics. The trampoline is still your favourite area, and you can jump with both your feet and keep your balance like a pro. This week you walked along a short balance beam, holding my fingers for reassurance more than support. You get along well with your only classmate, Max. You love to hand him a ball you are playing with, and say his name. A few weeks ago, as we were getting ready to go, he leaned in with puckered lips and so you did the same. We never expected you’d have your first kiss so young! It was absolutely adorable.

You seem to have overcome your fear of strange adults. You are still shy at first, but if Daddy or I interact with them, you will eventually warm up to them too. You love other children, and have been getting to meet the kids of Daddy’s and my friends. You remember their names, and can pick out who they are in photos, too. I’m pretty impressed by your memory.

You can also remember a ton of words. You’re stringing together 3 or 4 words now, and still continue to use the signs with spoken words. You’ve got a huge vocabulary, and pick up new words pretty effortlessly.  You love to repeat what Daddy and I say, too, and you’ve picked up some expressions, like “Awesome!”  It’s a treat hearing you testing out your new words.

Meals are still a bit challenging, though we’ve figured out some strategies to get you to try what’s on your plate. You’ll try almost anything once, but will have nothing to do with tomatoes. You’ve also decided that, instead of eating only green vegetables, you would rather eat veggies of any other colour instead. You have also realized that your sippy cup straw makes a great pea catapult. Our dog Phoebe loves this discovery as much as you do.

You’re growing, too, and you are getting to be such a big girl. We’re lucky that you’re starting to wear a new size of clothes right at the edge of a new season.  You are still quite petite for your age, but you’re so healthy and strong and agile and clever that Daddy and I have stopped worrying about your size and embrace the fact that you must just be meant to be small.  You are fabulous just as you are.

Building Sandcastles

Building Sandcastles

Kids Say the Darndest Things: Snack Time Edition

Hubby and A have a new routine: when they get home after he picks her up from daycare, they share a muffin. It’s an easy snack food, she likes muffins, and any time we can get her to eat, it’s a win. Hubby takes special pleasure from sharing meals with A, so it’s a nice way for them to share some time together before I get home.

Yesterday, as usual, Hubby went to A’s daycare to pick her up. Like usual, he chats with the caregiver about how the day went, what she did, if she napped well, and so on. After a couple minutes, A turns to the front door and says, “Bye bye. Muffin.”  All this talk was keeping her from muffin time with Daddy, and we can’t have that. :)

Hubby and A

Dear A: 18 months old already!

It has been ages since I wrote, and so much has happened in the past few months.
You’re a very confident walker now and love to wander around the neighborhood, pointing out cars and flowers, and picking up handfuls of sand to let run through your fingers. Speaking of sand, you love going to the park with us and with your daycare. You like the swings and slides, but your favourite thing is to dig in the sand. You dig with a little shovel, or put handfuls on the shovel and then dump it over. You sometimes grab handfuls of sand and dump them on the bottom of the slide, and then swipe it off again.  Watching you play is fascinating, and Daddy and I love seeing you discover the world around you.
You started gymnastics class, and I think it’s the perfect activity for you.  The first day you were a bit shy, taking the measure of your instructor and the other little boy in the class.  This weekend, for your second class, you were ready to jump in and you had a great time.  Your favourite part was the trampoline area, and you love throwing a ball around and chasing it while jumping around.  You’re remarkably coordinated for your age, and can jump with both feet at the same time.  I’m so happy that you are enjoying it so much.
We don’t spend much time watching TV, but you do have one show that you ask for by name: Yo Gabba Gabba.  It’s fun and full of energetic music that you like to dance to.  You know all the characters’ names, and like to list them off at random times through the day.  The episodes have some good messages, and it’s nice when you snuggle into my lap and we watch together.  You’re not a snuggler, so it’s nice that for a few minutes, you’ll cuddle in, even if it’s just to watch a show.
You talk a lot now, and most of the time you like to announce what you see, or are doing, or are playing with.  You love to make animal sounds, and we go through your list of animal sounds in the car when the ride starts getting boring.  I love being able to communicate with you, and you still like to sign, although now you sometimes do the sign and say the word at the same time.  Daddy and I counted around 160 words that you know, which astounded us a bit.  You’re an extremely clever little girl!
You’re still a bit of a picky eater, and you still eat like a bird, but you’re able to handle bigger pieces of things, and you love to pick up a half a slice of toast in both hands and take a big bite out of it.  We have to work hard at getting enough protein into you, but you love fruit and bread and sometimes you’ll even dig into your vegetables with gusto.  You have your favourite foods, but singing the “Try it, you’ll like it” song from your favourite show will sometimes get you to try something new.
There’s so much more, but this is getting quite long.  I love you bunches and bunches, my little bean.  I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Love,
Mommy
Digging in the sand

Digging in the sand

Recipe review: Sesame and Panko-Crusted Chicken

Like a lot of families, it’s easy to fall into a rut with dinners.  Hubby gets home with A about a half-hour before she starts getting hungry, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for cooking or being creative in the kitchen.

I hunted around online for some toddler-friendly recipes and came across this one on Red Tricycle, which ended up being a huge hit.  It was easy and quick to put together.  Since it’s baked, it’s way healthier than traditional breaded and fried chicken.  The chicken came out moist inside, and the breading was nice and crunchy.  I had to make two substitutions: I only had about a half cup of panko crumbs so I made up the difference with regular bread crumbs; and, I used skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips.  It was delicious, and I look forward to trying it again with just the panko crumbs.  It would also be tasty with some dipping sauce, perhaps some plum sauce.  Click the link in the recipe title to go to the original page.

“Crunchy-Crunchy” Sesame & Panko-Crusted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 pounds) chicken wings or drumsticks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh or panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds

Optional:
Thai sweet chilli sauce
Cajun seasoning

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Wash chick and pat dry. Rub all over with a little salt.
  • Place the beaten egg in a shallow dish. On another plate, mix the breadcrumbs with the sesame seeds and some salt and pepper to taste.
  • Dip each piece of chicken into the egg, drain off excess, and coat it well with the breadcrumb mixture. Press the breadcrumbs firmly onto chicken so that they adhere properly. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  • Arrange the chicken on the baking tray and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, turning halfway while cooking, until chicken is golden brown and cooked. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy while hot and crunchy!

Optional:
When the chicken is cooked, brush some sweet chilli sauce all over the chicken and bake again for 2-3 minutes until caramelized.

For a spicy twist, omit the salt in the breadcrumb mixture and substitute with 1 tbsp cajun seasoning instead, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for extra heat.

Banana

Over the past few weeks, A has not only been using her baby sign language but has also started using verbal words a lot more.  One of the things we’ve focussed on is food words, to give her the ability to voice preferences.

I took A to the grocery store this morning to pick up a few things, and when we came home, she toddled around the kitchen as I put things away.  Then this conversaton happened:

A: (picks up a bunch of bananas) Mama.
Me: Bananas.  Those are bananas.
A: Mana.  Mana!
Me: Very good, they’re bananas.  Ba-na-na.
A: (waving the bananas at me) Nana!
Me: Ba-na-na.
A: (Points at the bunch, looking at me sternly) This!