Tuesday, August 24, 2010

15 months

Allie is 15 months and just as cute as ever.  She's kind of a ragamuffin always getting into things and making messes.  She is learning new words every day.  Recently she started saying "Seenuh" for Selena.  When she can't find her she'll start yelling "Seenuh, Seenuh" and then ask us, "ud seenuh go" (where'd Selena go).  She has also added "thank you", "belly button", "super why" and "one, two, three" to her repertoire.  She really likes belly buttons and noses.  She is always showing us hers and finding ours.  Shoes are also very cool, and we have lots of conversations about shoes, and where'd they go.  She is always taking her shoes on and off and losing them so we have to find them about 3 times every time we go somewhere.

She likes to take her diaper off and run around the house.  She likes to run away and be chased.  She's become adept at moving the furniture around so she can climb up and get things.

She is still abusive.  Selena's started calling her Abusive Allie.  She doesn't seem to be mad, most of the time.  She just smacks you and gouges out your face.  She thinks it is funny.  It is getting old.

She is still a great berry picker.  She homes in on the huckleberries and she enthusiastically went after the blackberries even though they scratched up her belly.

We've gone swimming a couple times and she enjoys that.  Just as long as she can do what Selena is doing she is happy.

We went out and got Allie her own baby doll since she and Selena were fighting over Selena's.  They still fight over Selena's.  Allie just gathers up hers, Selena's and another baby doll we had and tries to carry them all around.  She brought them all over to me and said, "uuh, two, tee."  :)  She likes to undress and attempt to dress the babies with their dresses and diapers.

She enjoys dancing, especially to the Super Why songs.  One night her and Selena were dancing out on the deck in the dark to their own singing.  It was incredibly cute.

She's gone back to going to bed fairly easy.  We moved her to a mattress on the floor next to our bed so now I at least start the night with no kids in the bed.  However 99% of the time by the morning they are both snuggled up to me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wild Berries in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon Grape and Indian Mock Strawberry)

This is a continuation on my posts of wild berries.

Indian Mock Strawberry

Edited:  Due to a comment from a wonderful reader I have re-identified this from wild strawberry to Indian Mock Strawberry. 

I was so excited when I found these at my uncle's cabin on the Washougal River.  The berry books rave about the taste of wild strawberry.  Unfortunately I was sorely disappointed.   These had no taste whatsoever.  Completely bland.  So far it seems that overall berries that get a lot of sun and heat are sweeter than those in the shade and these were completely in the shade.  I did also find a small patch along one of the nature trails near my house.  Those too were tasteless.  The strawberries are tiny.  About the size of a small raspberry or blackberry.

Oregon Grape

Oregon grape is found all over the place.  I mostly see it as native landscaping along the sides of the road. The leaves are prickly and look like holly but Oregon Grape has blue berries instead of red.  (Holly has red berries that are poisonous so do not eat the berries from holly.)  The berries are really easy to pick and there are a lot of them.  However they taste really, really, sour.  Not palatable at all really.  But if you squeeze the juice from the berries and add a lot of sugar you can make jam, or wine if you are so inclined.  I did attempt to make some jam by squeezing the juice out of the berries through a mesh bag (I recommend wearing gloves as my hands are still stained a couple days later) adding sugar (3/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of juice) and boiling.  My "jelly" ended up more like syrup.  I added some chia seeds to get some more gelling but that didn't really help either.  Selena did eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with it, but  I'll probably pour it over some pancakes or ice cream.  The jelly did taste pretty good though, but how can it not when its almost all sugar?

Next up are blackberries.  They are just starting to get ripe.  I am so excited!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Things I've been reading

Here are some interesting posts I've read in the last couple weeks:

Using Computers to Teach Children With No Teachers - I read lots of stuff on educational theory, early childhood development, etc. and I've been drawn to self directed learning, multi-age peer learning, and unschooling as a more ideal way to teach kids.  This article is an example of these methods working really well.  Amazing.

Irrigationless Irrigation - Really cool invention that would allow massive amounts of trees to be planted in the desert.  Can we reclaim the Sahara?

Breast milk Kills Cancer - Breast milk is magic and the answer to world peace and all civilizations problems.  Maybe, maybe not, but I've finally found some update on the research being done on breast milk killing cancer cells.  I think the Susan G Komen institute should start funding some more research on this.  Wouldn't it be cool if the answer to breast cancer could be made from the breast?  I am curious to know if inducing lactation could curb/stop or kill the growth of some breast cancers.  I need to read the whole article sometime and attempt to understand it.

Kermit Alphabet Song - I love this youtube video.  It is my favorite version of the ABC's.

Down with HFCS - Cancer apparently feeds on it.  Love how they need to create a drug to make it not feed on fructose.  Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper to just stop eating it?  It's all about the money.

Seahawks got screwed in the Super Bowl in 2006 - I'm still very upset about this, but I love that the ref admits he made mistakes.  Makes me feel a bit better.

History of Science - This is a neat site that has articles on the history of technology and information on various artifacts.  The database goes from 2,500,000 BCE to 2010.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

3 years and 5 months old

We've been having a fun summer so far.  Selena has been begging to go camping for a couple months now so when we went on our annual trip to my uncle's cabin on the Washougal River we brought our tent and decided to sleep in there instead of in the bunk house.  It was good.  Both girls fell asleep sitting around the campfire, so I didn't have to miss any socializing putting them to bed.  They even managed to sleep in a bit.  We'll try a real camping trip (cooking our own food) in two weeks.

In addition to that excitement we made a few trips to the "beach" at Silver Lake.  Selena loved swimming in the lake and made us go two days in a row to get all her swimming in.  The beach is nice because she can adjust the deepness.  We did go in the pool at my brother's condo earlier this summer, but it started out at 3 feet deep so she had to be held the whole time.

We've still been doing a lot of berry picking.  One day Selena commented, "I didn't know we were going to turn into berry pickers when we moved to our new house."  We've gone and picked strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries at various local farms and we often go out among the nature trails around our house to pick wild berries.  I'm looking forward to the blackberries getting ripe.  My parents do an annual trip to Whidbey Island to pick blackberries, but we haven't gone in a long time because we lived so far away, but we will get to do it this year.

In theory I am against television for young children for a few reasons, but I have succumbed to the convenience of it giving me a few short breaks during the day and by the fact that Selena asks for it.  The habit started when I was pregnant, still working part time from home and needed a nap and Sesame Street could give me it.  So she watches a few shows a day, but no more than one at a time and we use the DVR so there aren't many commercials.  But in the last couple weeks Selena seems to have entered a new level of comprehension when it comes to watching television.  She used to watch the same episode about 5 or 6 times on our DVR before getting bored with it, and sometimes you would ask her about the show and she couldn't tell you what happened (research has shown that young children's learning is very inefficient through the television ie they have to watch something on the TV 4-6 times before they learn it, but if they are taught it in person it only takes 1 or 2 times of repetition).  She did learn a lot of things from the shows, but she did have to watch them over and over.  Now she only wants to watch a show once, and she participates in the interactive portions of the show.  So it is kind of an interesting developmental milestone.

She has been writing a lot lately.  She can now write most of her letters without me creating dots for her to trace.  It is neat because we don't work on writing or reading.  We just include it with things she does.  Like we write letters to family members or make cards for people's birthdays.  It is fun to see her progress.  It also answers my question if she knows her letters, because I'll tell her how a word is spelled and she writes it only occasionally asking me how the letter is made.

She has also been drawing a lot.  My favorite has been her series of pictures of her cousin Issac.  She's drawn Baby Issac playing golf, wearing a tutu, with an afro, in a blanket.
We still are struggling with frequent accidents, both at night and during the day.  She was dry at night for a while, but then she started having a lot of accidents so I put her back in diapers.  She kept them dry, so I put her in underwear and she wet the bed.  I really think she doesn't like peeing in a disposable diaper, but it doesn't bother her when she does it in her underwear.  She also will have accidents often when she is playing in the backyard.  I think then it is mostly laziness because she figures she is outside and it doesn't matter.  Other times she'll have them in the bathroom or on her way to the bathroom because she gets distracted and doesn't get there in time.  It is really annoying.

She is definitely in a climbing stage.  Everything is a jungle gym, and when we are in a store, and she's using the shopping cart to climb on.  It is pretty annoying.  However when we are at the playground it is pretty impressive.  She's small for her age so I'm sure other parents think she is younger than she is and thus I've gotten many parents hovering around her at the park when she is fine.  In general I don't like to hover because I've noticed that if I hover she is more likely to give up and have me do it for her, than if I am not nearby.  If she asks for help I will help her, but I try to let her assess her own abilities to figure out what she can do and what she can't.  There is a big rope spider web at Willis Tucker Park and she is determined to climb to the top.  She's gotten almost there, but she is a little too short to get up the last two rungs.

She is also in a question phase.  Of course the inevitable "Why?" to anything and everything.  But also some more thoughtful ones.  Today we got into a discussion on how the dinosaurs died and where humans came from.  When she doesn't understand she keeps asking, "What did you say?"  Obviously my explanations were confusing and she eventually said, "Mom, I am so confused."

She still has her invisible friends Do, Re, Mi, Fa and So and the other night we were out, in the dark, with our flashlights looking for their house so she could go over there for a slumber party.  When we couldn't find their house she was very upset.  I kind of pointed out that Do, Re, Mi were pretend so they didn't really have a house, and she got very upset about that.  So I quickly covered and said I didn't mean it, and I was confused, and that they must have gotten confused and really wanted to have a slumber party at our house.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Minimally Sweetened, Fresh Mint, Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

I've been trying to cut back on sweeteners.  It is recommended that you get no more than 25g of extra sugar (so not counting fruit) a day.  25g is pretty much one bowl of ice cream.  I have been doing pretty good overall.  There is a little bit of sugar (about 3-4g) in the piece of toast I have each morning (Dave's Killer Bread) and then my bowl of ice cream in the evening.  However I'd like to do better.  So I decided to make a minimally sweetened ice cream.  I figured strawberries would be good for it because you can macerate the strawberries in a bit of sugar to bring out their natural sweetness.  I also thought some fresh mint would be yummy.  I like to mix strawberry ice cream and mint ice cream in the same bowl so I figured making an ice cream with them together would be good too.  The ice cream turned out yummy. It probably would have been even better with more sugar, but overall it was a success.  Here is the recipe:

Minimally Sweetened Fresh Mint Strawberry Ice Cream
* Start this in the morning if you want the ice cream in the evening
* This makes about 5-6 generous servings which is about 12-14.5 grams of sugar per serving

1 lb of strawberries
1/2 cup of evaporated cane juice (3/4 cup if you want fully sweetened)
fist full of mint leaves
1 cup whole milk
2 cups of cream
  • Warm the milk and 1 cup of cream on the stove.  Remove from heat, put the mint leaves in and cover. Let them seep for a couple hours
  • Hull and chop the strawberries and put them in a bowl.  Mix the evaporated cane juice in and let them sit for a couple hours.
  • Pull out the mint leaves and press them through a strainer back into the milk to squeeze out all their mintiness.
  • Put the strawberries, minty milk, and cream in a blender and blend.  It is up to you how much you want to chop up the strawberries.
  • Put the mixture in the fridge for a few hours. 
  • Pour it into your ice cream maker following your machine's directions.
  • Eat it!  
For more ice cream making tips see my previous post.