Friday, April 22, 2011

Adriana's chocolate chip banana bread

Around the time she was two-and-a-half, I started involving Adriana more in cooking and baking projects. But lately she's lost interest in helping quite so much. For the most part that's fine. She plays pretty well by herself while I fix dinner or work on something on my own. It's nice, though, when she does want to help. We work well together in the kitchen. There are times lately when I wonder how on earth Adriana and I are going to survive the teen years when we already seem to clash so much. There's less clashing when we're cooking together.

Earlier this week when the baby went down for a nap, Adriana and I set out to make chocolate chip banana bread, and I discovered that now that she's four, she can do most of the work herself. She still needs me to reach things for her, to read the recipe, and to take things in and out of the oven, but even the hand mixer was fine for her to use (although I did remind her a few times to hold onto the bowl with her free hand.

She liked mashing the bananas,

knows how to grease the pan,

and measure out ingredients.

I knew she could use the standing mixer on her own, but didn't want to get it out. She assured me she would be fine with the hand mixer, and while I did hover quite a bit the first time she turned it on, I quickly figured out she really was fine with it.

She even recalled a valuable (and messy) lesson learned at Christmas time about what happens when you turn on a mixer at full speed just after adding the dry ingredients, and carefully mixed them in a bit with the spatula.

Mixing in the chocolate chips was hard as the batter was quite thick by then, but she did it all herself.

She did need me to hold the bowl while she moved the batter into the pan, and then she spent a lot of time making sure it was just right to make up for my assistance.

Then she set the timer for an hour

and went off to play while I did the dishes. (Wait. What?) She did a puzzle,

decorated some cupcakes,

and helped entertain the baby after her nap.

She was eager to pose with her bread when it came out of the oven.

And then she spent the next hour trying to convince me to cut it before it was cool. It smelled so good that I did have to give in.

We got out a picnic blanket, sang happy birthday and blew out the wooden candles on the wooden cupcakes, and then ate the banana bread. If you are the kind of kid who worries about getting messy, it's best to eat it with a fork.

But some kids don't mind a little chocolate on their hands and face.

So we don't clash nearly as much when we cook, but photography may still be an issue. Upon seeing these pictures, Adriana pointed out that I was supposed to be taking close-up pictures of the food, not pictures of her. I guess she's been paying attention to the recipes I use from Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen. I've promised next time to frame the photos properly and use the real camera, not my phone.

Friday, April 15, 2011

15 months

Aaaaaaand once again, this is more of an “and-a-half months” post. Because I am outnumbered.

This month we are all noticing how much fun Lyra is. If she doesn’t nap much, I’m not terribly disappointed because she’s fun to play with. Brian enjoys getting to spend time with her. And when I asked Adriana her favorite part of the day a couple of weeks ago she said, “Playing with Lyra at the park. Now she is not just a sister, she is my friend.” And then I died of the sweetness.

Part of the fun we’re having with her comes, I think, from her language development. Someone asked me recently if she had any new words, and I said every day. I’ve been surprised to find Lyra has more words than signs. Some words she only speaks; some words she only signs; much of the time she does both; and she seems to pair signs for animals with the sounds they make. Every day she mimics something new, and seems to understand it. The best thing is probably that, in addition to “mama” and “dad,” she now says “Ana,” and it’s sweet how pleased Adriana is to have the baby say her name. But everything she says seems adorable to me. When spring really arrived at the end of March, I put a sunhat on her, and she told me “no hat,” her first two word combination. She comes into the kitchen signing and saying “eat eat eat,” so I ask her what she wants and she exclaims “Peet-ya!” (At least one kid shares my deep true love of pizza.) She grabs onto her diaper and tells me “Poop!” and then runs away howling “Noooooooooo!” when I offer to change her. She even tries to say “thank you.” That started one evening as she was handing me books from a pile and saying “tank” each time, and I realized that she knows that we say “thank you” when someone gives us something. She was handing things to me, so I wasn’t sure if she was prompting me, or just wasn’t clear on who says what. Now she seems to understand that she should say it to us when we give her something, but when she gives one of us something, she’ll often stand there and prompt us to thank her until we do.

Since Lyra was about six months old, she’s been in love with Adriana’s baby doll--the doll that Adriana herself is very attached to. When it first started I bought Lyra her own doll, one that was safe for younger babies. Lyra poked at it some, but never became very attached. It had a plastic head like Adriana’s doll, but a fat, stuffed body. Finally a couple of weeks ago as Lyra was becoming more and more determined to get her hands on Adriana’s baby, I bought her a similar one. Lyra has become very attached to the doll. She carries it around, and it seems to be comforting for her when she’s upset. She picks it up in the morning with glee, and if I try to take it away from her when I go to feed her she wails “Baby! Baby!” and will not be comforted until she has that doll back. Also? She still tries to steal Adriana’s when she get the chance.

Lyra is attached to Brian in a way that Adriana wasn’t at this age. She recognizes when he’s leaving for work in the morning and runs to be picked up and hugged. When he comes in after work, she runs to greet him. She demands time on his lap, and sometimes even lets him rock her to sleep. When Brian’s parents were here for a weekend, she was particularly devoted to her Grandpa Andy. She constantly wanted him to hold her and read to her, and when he picked her up to hug her good-bye at the end of their stay, she clung to him and cried as he handed her back to me. Now she points to his picture and tries to say “Grandpa.” I am especially amused by this, because it just sounds like she’s saying “damn.”

She eats so much these days, it constantly surprises me. But then there are days she hardly eats a thing. I know that’s normal, and after Adriana I am less surprised by the days where she doesn’t want to eat much. Yesterday I realized with surprise that she had gone seven hours without nursing. She’d eaten plenty during that time, and then nursed a lot in the evening as if to make up for it, but I was definitely surprised by how long she’d gone without, even though I had offered a couple of times. Her sleep’s been mostly awful lately. I bring her into our bed when I go to sleep, and while I used to barely have to wake up to feed her, she now is doing a lot more crying and shifting around. We wonder if it’s teeth and keep sticking our fingers in her mouth to check. I start to think maybe it’s my caffeine, and am careful not to have any after 10 AM. I try to figure out if it’s something she ate, but since she eats everything and eats so differently from day to day, it’s hard to say. Perhaps our bed is too crowded, I think, but then when it’s just me and the baby, she’s still up every hour. I know she’ll outgrow it, whatever it is, but that’s hard to remember at three in the morning when I’m trying to calm a screaming baby who won’t nurse.

There have been some days full of crying, too, which always surprises me. Usually it’s solved by an extra nap, though, and for the most part she’s just the happiest little girl I know, smiling and shouting “hi” as she rides through the grocery store in our cart, running giggling down the sidewalk, and shrieking “wheeeeeee!” in the swing at the park.