Princess Leia’s Necklace

For Halloween (aka Nevada Day!) E is dressing up as Princess Leia from the medal scene at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope.  I managed to find some plastic beads that were square and silvery for her necklace (you can see the original here).  Having her string the beads onto some silver chain ended up being a good activity.  Aside from giving her ownership of her costume through all the stages I think there was some good fine motor skill use involved.

I took the photos with my cell phone camera but they get the idea across.  The chain, clasp, and rings were shared with us from E’s Auntie.  It really makes me appreciate what goes into making jewelry, I had to wrestle with the little pliers for a long time to get everything together and it still ended up needing a re-do when one of the chains slipped loose of a ring.

I will try to write more about her costume, I am proud of how it came together and I think the accessories helped.  A simple white tank top, white cotton skirt, ribbon belt, and organza cape completed with the look along with some silver shoes.  R has a Luke Skywalker costume that is super cute as well.  I am not super crafty but I love trying to make a vision come to reality.  My big goal with their costumes was wearability and playability so they could stay in the costume box for other days aside from Halloween.  We never really made a big deal of Halloween in my family but I am seeing how much fun it can be, ignoring the dangerous candies and chocolates that float around this time of year, of course.

(Shared at No Time For Flashcards’ Link & Learn for this week)

Harmony Park Photos

We biked to Harmony Park the other day and enjoyed a morning with the park mostly to ourselves.  Be forewarned, there are no bathroom facilities at the park but it is fenced in and nicely covered with play structures and swings that are in good repair.  So many parks don’t have classic basics like slides and swings lately so it is nice to have this park.  I have to say the ride felt long and not as interesting as the ride to Sunset Park but Sunset is under a lot of construction.  This park is in a residential area so another time we tried to visit in the afternoon it was simply too busy to even find a parking space (we went in the car because it was a tad warm).

The central seating is nice for watching the kids play, we also met up with friends another time at this park which is how we discovered it.  Las Vegas parks have a different feel from Henderson ones but it might be worthwhile to explore some close to home.  My husband and I used to walk at Paradise Park which we passed on the way to Harmony.


“The Little Children”

E is very concerned lately about all “the little children” that don’t have what we do.  I don’t want to make her fret about suffering in the world but we do look at pictures from my brother’s post in Afghanistan and we talk about the reconstruction efforts over there.  She sees little kids in the photos and really identifies with them.  When it came time to send my brother a packet of treats she wanted to draw a picture for “the little children” as she calls them, since “they don’t have any art on their walls.”  I think she extrapolated that from thinking about the things we have that others don’t since she also speculated that we should give our toilets to them because they might not have any.

I took a picture of her artwork and let her know as we packed it up to send away that maybe her uncle wouldn’t be able to give it to the children.  She still wanted to try.  I love her sweetness and compassion, it makes me think that children have to learn to be otherwise since it really feels like something that comes from within her versus something we’ve taught specifically.  I am thinking we’ll gather some toys for tots this winter as well as some materials for Shade Tree (a local shelter) to start to give her an idea of service.  Just sending money is not enough, I think, though she does like to look through the Save the Children catalog and ask about the different donations you can give.

Sort of related:  We went to see about a new tube for the bike trailer the other day and many of the boxes were empty.  My husband speculated that kids stole them for their BMX bikes and E really had trouble understanding the idea of stealing.  We talked about it for a while after we got home, she said that maybe little children didn’t have money but they wanted to ride bikes.  I said that may be true but it was not nice to take things without paying, they should save their money.  She suggested that maybe their mommies and daddies didn’t have money, but then agreed that it wasn’t okay to take without paying.  Her main question always is “why?” and in this case she wanted to know why people steal.  I generally answered that they were taught that way, hoping that it doesn’t seem like a rote response but hoping also that she understands that people are complex.  She tied the plight of children that didn’t have anything with the idea of children stealing things so she was worried for them.  Personally I have a huge problem with theft, just the idea of taking something knowing it isn’t yours really bothers me.

To end on a happier note, my brother loved the packet and appreciated the drawing E made just for him.  We can’t wait until he is back in the states so we can visit him.

Orange Spritz Cookie Photos

A cookie press is a bit of a uni-tasker. . .okay, it really does only one thing but it is a useful thing!  I made these for a Valentine’s party (using the heart shape you see pictured above, the wreath and umbrella don’t hold up well but most of the other shapes are pretty good) a few months back and the children loved them even though they are wheat and dairy free.  The best thing is that they freeze (my husband even prefers them a little frozen) so I baked up this batch before we went to San Diego to satisfy that vacation sweet tooth I am always prone to getting.  You know, when you’re in a hotel room and all you want are cookies?  Am I the only one?

This uses palm oil shortening, which I know may be an ethical issue for some but when there’s nothing else you can eat.  I read a fantastic post about calling oneself “vegetarian” and it especially resonated with me since we would still be vegetarian if it weren’t for E’s egg and milk allergies.  Oh, here’s the post: “Vegan or Vegetarian? Choosing a Label” (it is a quick read but well written).

I made 60 cookies from the recipe, all using the snowflake shape because it is the most stable.  The little bit of orange zest is so good I always put extra in.  The difference in these with guar gum versus corn free xanthan gum is more telling on the second day but you really can make it with either so that is nice.  Speaking of guar gum, I’ve stopped using it so I have a bunch still sealed in bags if anyone who knows me “in real life” would like it.  Just let me know!

Recipe from Cybele Pascal’s Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook (amazon affiliate link). 

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie Photos

Can you tell chocolate and I picked up where we left off?

Yum.  E was scraping cookie dough off of the mixing paddle, I really wish they made her firework shirt in my size by the way.

What I like about cocoa powder in gluten free baking is that it covers up a little of the taste of the rice flour.  Not a bad taste to begin with but it lets you forget you’re eating an alternate version of something.  These are really crumbly but so good.  The original version of the recipe calls for chopping up Enjoy Life Foods’ chocolate bars but there are some new pre-made chunks for cookies that I managed to snag at Whole Foods.  I may have eaten a few before I put them in the dough.

It is awesome to be able to lick the spoon when making something chocolate!  I still made stuff for my husband and E during the year of no chocolate for me but it took so much concentration not to steal little tastes.  Recipe from Cybele Pascal’s Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook (amazon affiliate link).  Chocolate chunks by Enjoy Life Foods.

Gluten Free Cinnamon Roll Photos

Learn from my mistakes!  I have made these before and they were great, so when it came time for father’s day I knew I wanted to make them for my husband.  I thought “why don’t I put them in a springform pan instead of the regular round pan?” and did, managing to not put the pan together correctly such that when the rolls rose in the hot water bath they were flooded.  Major fail.  Use the right pan, or at least check the seal on your springform, especially if your son loves to play with it whenever he is in the kitchen.

Do you ever do this?  The first time I make a recipe I follow the instructions like a scientist, methodically measuring and mixing exactly as told.  After a few times I get comfortable and start making stupid mistakes.  I need to always re-read the recipe and make sure I’m reading the right one.  I did take photos of my failed rolls but who wants to see those?  These photos are from the next time I made the rolls, many months later.  They survived rising and baking and frosting, hooray!  I just made them again while my sister in law was visiting.  They take some time (an hour of rising, 45 minutes of baking) but are oh so lovely and worth it.  I made them Christmas morning last year, actually.

Recipe from Cybele Pascal’s Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook (amazon affiliate link), of course.

Sing Your Life

We were in the car heading to “Mommy & Me Ballet” when I started setting the radio presets in the Pilot.  When a classical station came on, E yelled “stop!” so we left the music on to play awhile.  E’s voice reached me from the back of the car:

“Mommy, what woman write that song?”

“Boys can write songs, too, sweetie,” I cautioned.

“Daddy not know how to write songs,” she replied in a matter of fact tone.  I had to leave it at that, it seemed like it was very clear to her how things were.  If she sees someone working that is a man she’ll even ask when his mommy is coming to help him.

At any rate, the announcer came on and said it was a song by Mozart so I told E how Mozart wrote music as a little boy.  She told me she couldn’t pronounce Mozart and wanted to know his “real name.”  She didn’t think she could pronounce that either.

My favorite part of our talk was yet to come.  We traveled in silence, listening to another piece, a sonata I believe, when suddenly E said “that is a sad song.”  It caught me off guard because just from the melody she “got” the emotion of the piece.  My maternal grandfather was a concert violinist in Germany (here is a piece he performed as part of the Goebbels Trio) and I have a photo of him and his violin up in our home.  I think he and my grandmother would have liked to know E was truly listening to the music.

Max Kayser , violin 1955 Tchaikovsky: Serenade Melancolique

As we arrived at the community center an opera played as well.  E asked the name of the singer and followed with “what’s her Daddy’s name?”  I love our chats in the car, I had to retell this one to myself in my mind so I wouldn’t forget it.  Speaking of which, E recently proclaimed “I have a lotta stories in my mind.”  She’s also started making up songs, my favorites so far include one about the itsy bitsy spider moving herself and her babies to the desert to avoid the rain and one that begins something like this:

I want to fly to the moon
and bring it back
so I can share it with Mommy

Her Auntie (my older sister) has a fantastic voice so I am curious to see what my kids are drawn to musically.  I only know some piano.

R is enamored with anything musical, too.  He will dance to the shortest musical bits on toys.  At ballet that day he woke from napping in the stroller and came to the bar to dance like everyone else.  I love seeing him make connections like that.  I tried to re-enroll him in “Rock and Roll Kids” at the community center again for next session but it was full so we’ll do Gymcats instead starting next week.  E will do the same ballet class this rotation but I will put her in a ballet class on her own in January to continue to transition her to being without me a little bit.

(Anyone want to guess at the song reference in the post title?  No googling!)