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Monday, November 28, 2005

T.V. and Turkey

Well, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and you aren't too sick of turkey salad yet! The smallest turkey I could find was 18 pounds -- and that was for 4 people! We made turkey stock from the carcass and have been eating turkey salad on rolls, bread and wraps for the past 4 days now. We also made some delicious applesauce and froze some apple pie filling from the remaining apples on our tree.

The applesauce recipe is easy: just cut 2 quarts of apples, add 1 to 2 cups of water, 3/4 cup of sugar (1 cup if you like it very sweet) and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and cook until soft. Feel free to add some pears for extra potassium or rosehips for even more vitamin C.

The apple pie filling recipe is a great way to use up your leftover apples and prepare for an easy dessert for the winter doldrums in the process:
cut 18 cups of apples
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Mix together and let set for 1/2 hour. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Simmer a few minutes, until it thickens. Cool and freeze in 4 cup freezer bags. Use as filling for apple crisp or apple pies. 4 cups = 1 small pie

Andrew's mom came up to visit and we had lots of fun playing the CashFlow game (on the board and in real life). Now I know where Andrew gets his fondness for real estate from. I didn't stand a chance at winning the game!

We went house shopping on Saturday and put in lots of low offers. I was pleased that some of our lowball offers weren't completely scorned -- I love a good bargain!

I found a short and sweet article, see link above, on the correlation between watching television and lower reading comprehension and memory skills. I was astounded that the AVERAGE three year old watches over three hours a day!

Now, I don't believe in being totally black and white about anything (well, anything LEGAL, that is), because I think that a rigid attitude isn't healthy and can actually do more harm than good. Arianna can watch one 1/2 hour t.v. show (Caillou) 2 or 3 times a week, if she wants, while I take a shower. The interesting thing is, she doesn't like to watch TV alone. She likes it when I sit with her and talk about what's going on. I am glad she doesn't consider it a spectator sport and that she doesn't spend hours in front of the TV each day. I love to watch her pretend play become more sophisticated and watch those creative juices flow.

When we got our pictures taken, the photographer said she didn't know what she would do without TV to entertain her two year old. I was thinking, "Have you ever TRIED anything else?"

TV is such an easy out and many of the programs aimed at toddlers and preschoolers claim to be educational, so we can relieve some of our guilt about abandoning our children to the clutches of mass marketing and media. Okay, enough ranting for now -- go play with your kids, instead!

Rebecca Wolf

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Captured snippets

Well, it's time to get our family holiday photo taken and we were looking a little bit like the Grizzly Adams family. So, Arianna got her first big girl haircut in the salon.
Here's a picture of her and daddy getting their locks snipped:

She was crying until the hairdresser offered her a lollipop, then she stopped fussing. Three lollipops later, she was finished!

Then she got some shoes from the shoe store with daddy while I got some groceries. She wears a size 9 now! Apparently she was a little wild in the store and daddy had to calm her down. When he called her over to look at some boots, she reportedly said, "I am NOT Arianna; I transformed into a MOUSE!" Egads, I think her vocabulary is larger than some adults'.

Speaking of clever sayings, I was trying to convince Arianna to eat her bread instead of just licking the butter during dinner a few nights ago. Well, perhaps ordering her would be more accurate: "Don't lick the butter. Eat it. No, take a BITE. Stop licking it. You have to eat THE BREAD!"

Arianna put the bread down and yelled, "Stop treating me like a prisoner!"

I couldn't stop laughing.

So, just in case you might be under the false impression that I am a good parent, you now have evidence to the contrary -- straight from the horse's mouth.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

My Unfair Advantage

Thank you, Lina, for sharing your insights about your nephew's pretend play -- it's so fascinating to watch kids and try to figure out what's going on in those little brains!

You actually reminded me of an important topic I wanted to post on: play. Pretend play is like the child's laboratory. They feel safe to experiment there. It's like when you're playing tag and you can't get caught because you're touching "homebase". Playing is how children mimic the behavior of others and eventually internalize it as their own. However, I have been seriously abusing this knowledge with my daughter (hopefully, in a good way).

There are MANY different ways that you can use play to enhance your child's development (perhaps I'll mention those in future posts), but I have been using pretend play as a way to avoid Arianna's meltdowns. It works SO much better than having to discipline her AFTER she loses her cool.

Whenever her temper starts to flair or I see her about to cry from some frustrated attempt, I purposefully switch into pretend play mode. Lately, she's been very angry about me interrupting her activity to change her diaper and has been fussy on the changing table. Yesterday, I grabbed a puppet and pretended that the puppet wanted to change her diaper. She thought it was hysterically funny and my crying mess of a girl instantly turned into a giggly, happy toddler again and the change went smoothly.

If I don't have a puppet, I pretend to be someone else. She really enjoys role playing and it always brings her out of a snit. Reading a book with her will also do the trick -- it's a lot like stepping into another world -- although this technique is time-consuming because she won't settle for just ONE book. I say she likes to "tie one on" because one book always becomes THREE.

If I'm desperate and can't think of anything else, I resort to a game of chase. Sometimes we just need to deal directly with the cause of the frustration, like if she just needs help tying her shoes (I know, it can't be fun and games ALL of the time).

Perhaps I am lucky that Arianna has such an excellent sense of humor and can appreciate these tactics. Or perhaps pretend play can become any parent's unfair advantage. Try it. I'd love to hear what your experience is with it!


P.S. I will warn you: if you become emotionally embroiled in the child's meltdown, you won't be thinking about creative alternatives and a tantrum will quickly ensue. This ONLY works in situations where you are emotionally calm and aren't taking your child's behavior personally. (I try to use I-messages when I am upset, such as: I am feeling . . . very angry that you just dropped your raisins all over the floor. Would you please . . . help me pick them up?)

P.P.S. Arianna hasn't named her panda bear; she is simply Panda. She is from the Build-A-Bear store (yes, you "build" your own bear right on the premises!) and has the name Pamela Panda on her birth certificate. I didn't choose the name and tried to suggest the name Penny, instead, which Arianna quickly nixed. She has just been Panda Bear ever since. I have noticed her playing with names, though. Like she knows the name Tommy and will make up the name Bommy or she'll just come up with something really weird, like Talkie Kitty. I think language play like that is wonderful!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Yes, I'm still here!

Just in case you were starting to wonder! I know, it's been weeks since my last post -- I'm a baaad girl. Make that a busy girl. In the past 3 weeks I have celebrated another personal new year, attended a 2-day real estate seminar, closed on our first investment property, learned how to become a property manager, ran an Open House to attract some good tenants, screened said tenants and found some winners (and some real losers, too), am in the process of closing on our second property, and am recuperating from my second cold!

I miss chatting with people, as part of my reading specialist duties, and have enjoyed my new role as property manager. It seems like everyone I talk to has an interesting real estate angle or lead for me to follow up on -- "Do you have any one bedrooms available?" "Do you want to buy my duplex? I'm sick of it" "I have a house for sale in Irondequoit" "I have a couple of rental houses and I love it." EVERYONE has a story to tell, whether it's a tenant applicant who has been displaced by the hurricane, a burned out landlord willing to sell me his property for a song, or a fellow investor who wants to mastermind with me. It's very invigorating but it does cut into my family time.

Arianna doesn't seem any the worse for wear. She continues to grow by leaps and bounds and amaze me. We went grocery shopping a few days ago and an employee was giving out free samples of a new kind of apple. Arianna had just commented that she wanted an apple, so I grabbed a toothpick-speared piece and invited her to take a nibble.

She was suddenly very shy and backed away, so I did a little modeling. I took a bite and told her it tasted sweet and yummy. I started talking to the man and she soon grabbed the apple and ate it. The man suggested that perhaps her panda bear would like a taste of apple, too.

Arianna replied, "She's only a PRETEND bear." Like, duh, of course she can't really EAT anything! The gentleman thought she was quite a hoot.

So do I.