Friday, February 27, 2009

Bento Blog...

Since the Bentos were sort of taking over this blog, I found a new home for them over at Bento-riffic. You can feel free to follow Ellie's lunch adventures over there, and I'll get back to what I was supposed to be doing over here. =D

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cleaning up after oneself...

It's hard to instill in a child the ability and desire to clean up after oneself, especially if you don't possess that yourself.


And right now there are duplos all over my living room, a mess of papers in my bedroom, playdough toys (that she's not allowed to play with until the duplos are picked up) on the floor, and dress up clothes ALL OVER her room.

And I have people coming over in an hour and a half.

I want her to learn to clean up after herself, but I am lousy at doing it myself. I am NOT a good model in this area. And I tend not to see the mess until it's all over the place.


So I think I'm going to take Ellie by the hand and we are going to go clean up the house together right now. I didn't do such a good job at instilling the "play with one thing at a time and put it away before you get another toy out" rule today, but I can at least help her see that we need to clean up our toys when we're done playing with them. Right?

Just because we didn't nip it in the bud doesn't mean we can't still prune the tree... (or sproutling as the case may be, because she's not yet full grown tree yet... she's still only two and I have a lot more modeling to learn to do!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

I buy bento! =D

A while back I discovered this website from another bento blog. Cheap, cute bento things. When I went to the website, it looked like perhaps they had some cute cheap bento things, but they were sold out of everything I wanted. Sigh. Well, today Jaime emailed me and said she found this website. So I clicked through and drooled and fell in love and then realized that this is the new and improved website I'd checked out before. So guess what?

I bought bento!!!

I'm so excited. It'll take about 10 days for my order to get here, and when it does I'm going to play! Bento boxes for me and Ellie, rice molds, egg molds, sauce containers, food separaters, food picks.... ah, it will be glorious!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let the cute food continue!

We've been in full on Valentine's mode for about a month now, thanks to letting Ellie watch an episode of Caillou in which they celebrated Valentine's day. I guess I should be happy they weren't celebrating the 4th of July or we'd be in red, white, and blue for months!

So because of the recent heart obsession and Ellie's daily desire to "make heart cookies for my friends, Mommy!" we made other heart shaped food instead. Like toast and eggs!

Heart and Arrow Egg Toast

Heart and Arrow Egg Toast

It took longer to make, perhaps, than regular eggs and toast, but again with my firm belief in cute food. ;D And really, it isn't difficult to do and has a kind of cool effect once it is finished. Ideally, the eggs would be cooked sunny side up so you could dip your toast cut out into the yolk, but I only used white for mine and Ellie's yolk got scrambled, so it didn't really work out that way for us. So here's what you do...

1. Toast a slice of bread. Really, though, you could just butter both sides of the bread and flop it into a pan. When the first side is toasted, flip the bread over and proceed to step two...

2. Spray a metal cookie cutter with oil and cut a shape out of the center of your toast. Remove the bread cut out and let the undone side finish toasting in the pan.

3. Replace the metal cookie cutter in the shaped hole in the toast and crack your egg into the cookie cutter. This will keep the egg contained as it cooks. Because you sprayed the cutter with oil, the egg shouldn't stick to it.

Star Egg Toast

4. When the egg is thoroughly cooked, remove the cookie cutter from the toast, carefully separating it from the egg. The egg should be cooked into the toast at the bottom, so the egg will stay put. If you want to, you can flip the toast and egg over at this point to brown the egg slightly in the pan. Because they're cooked together, the egg won't fall out of the bread.

5. If you want more butter, now is a good time to re-butter the bread, let it melt, and enjoy!!

Star Egg Toast

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Crack Down Mode

It never fails... Every time Eliana starts acting up and being disobedient I look back at my own parenting for the last couple weeks and find that I've been slacking. Do you think I'll ever learn??

So starting a couple days ago, we are back in crack down mode. Every offense has a consequence, which is administered calmly and consistently. Every time. No "don't do that again or you'll go to time out" warnings or empty threats. She knows the rules and she knows the consequences, and if I don't dole them out when they're due all I'm doing is teaching her that I approve of her bad behavior.

I think the key to discipline being effective for Eliana is being calm. She would much rather stand in timeout than have you "yell" at her. And her definition of "yelling" is reprimanding her with a stern voice. That seems to cut her deeply and she will start crying as though she has been deeply wounded and say, "Don't yell at me, Mommy!" Which, in turn, breaks my heart, because I didn't yell at her, I just corrected her sternly. But there was probably an exasperated tone in my voice which she picked up on, too, which makes me feel awful. And yes, she chose to whine, she chose to refuse what I asked her to do, she chose to disobey, but I am in control of my own response. And, sadly, sometimes my own response is laziness. I don't send her to timeout for infractions which consequent a time out because I just don't want to fight that battle. And *bam!* I have just taught her that sometimes it is okay to behave inappropriately. *sigh*

So we're back to crack down mode. Crack down usually consists of two days of tantrums and struggles and lots of discipline to counteract the lots of disobedience that has become a recent partern. And then something magic happens on the third day where she doesn't fight the consequences as much and she not nearly so disobedient. It is beautiful! That was yesterday. It's not that she didn't need any discipline, but that she only needed time out twice and a spanking once as opposed to some form of discipline a dozen or more times a day. And this is where the discipline becomes REALLY important. I need to stick with it, and not lessen up just because she's being so good overall. Children with a sweet disposition can still be disobedient and need to be disciplined. And yes, it might mean that the sweet disposition disappears for a while as the child whines and complains and kicks and screams in the face of that discipline. But how you react and respond when she doesn't give you the response you want to see teaches her how to respond when she doesn't get what she wants. If I get frustrated and raise my voice, she learns that yelling is the way to get what you want. If I whine and say, "Ellie, will you please go to timeout? Why do you insist on making this so hard? The sooner you go to timeout, the sooner you can get back to playing." I am teaching her her that whining is how you get what you want. If I get frustrated and give her an undeserved swat on the bottom as I carry her to timeout and force her to stand there, she learns that physical assertion is the way to get what you want. But if I am calm, and discuss with her why she is going to timeout, what she has done, what the consequence is for that action, and I keep a calm disposition while disciplining her, she is less likely to get distracted by my response and have a better chance of learning that the consequence/discpiline is a result of her action, not a result of the mood I'm in. Consistency is key because she needs to see that her actions have consequences every time. Calmness is key because she needs to see that those consequences are not determined by my mood.

I should add, as an end note, that I've just been talking about the negative consequences of actions. There is a positive side of discipline, too, and it's important to praise kids for what they are doing well, especially if they respond to praise. And we do praise Eliana often, especially when she obeys right away or chooses not to throw a fit when she has been struggling with fits. I don't want you to think that I'm suggesting keeping your kid in timeout all day long! But this is the stage we're at right now, and what's on my mind this week, so I figured I'd record some thoughts on it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My BENTO Wishlist....

At the very top of my bento wishlist is...

... I want a Daiso Japan store in Bozeman, MT!! I don't really think that will happen since the only two states that have them are Washington and California, but it's still at the top of my wishlist. ;D On the plus side, I learned that there's a Daiso in Bellingham, WA and that's right near my friend Tam, so maybe it is time for a trip out that way again after all! =D She hasn't met Ellie yet and we haven't met her kids, so it would be fun to go and hang out with them again! And if I get my bento fix in the same trip... that would be even better!

... but on to what I would want if we had a Daiso locally...

Bento boxes! (A couple "real" bento boxes would be nice =D)

Food dividers! (both the traditional AND the cute. =D)

Rice molds!

Rice boxes! (though rice molds would suffice if I could only have one of the two...)

Food picks! (the cuter the better!)

and last but not least.... sauce containers!!! (aren't these the cutest things you've ever seen???)

Sigh... I really wish we had a Daiso nearby.... This could SO be my new craft.

My first foray into Charaben!

Rocket and June Bento

I am a firm believer in food presentation. I believe that food should be cute. =D And so, I love bento. I follow two bento blogs, and have been inspired by them both. Wendolonia makes preschool bentos for her son, which is where I first got the idea for making bentos for Eliana. Healthy variety, cute color... What's not to love for a wee one, right? The other bento blog I've been following is Anna the Red. I've posted one of her bentos here before. She makes beautiful, amazing bentos, and really does charaben quite well. Charaben is the art of making the food in your bento look like characters.

Well, this morning I was reading Anna the Red and Ellie came over to the computer and said, "Oooh! Bento!" when she saw the picture. This particular one was a Calvin and Hobbes charaben and it just warmed my heart to know that Ellie responded so warmly to bento. Strange, I know. But it did, so I decided that we would make a Little Einsteins charaben this morning, just for her.

Now, most of the charaben I have seen is made with traditional rice and seaweed. But one thing I have learned from Wendy of Wendolonia is that you neeed to fill kids' bentos with foods they will eat. Not necessarily unhealthy foods, but foods that they like. Otherwise your bento, no matter how cute, will not get eaten. So today's bento base is macaroni and cheese (with hot dog chunks, chopped up from what was leftover after I made June's body). There is a celery and broccoli tree, and Rocket is made from an apple, with a soy cheese headlight. June's body is cut from a hot dog, and her face is made of ham. Her hair, shoes, and dress are cut from fruit leather, as are her pupils and earings. Her mouth is ketchup, and the whites of her eyes are mayonnaise. I realized after Ellie had already started eating it that I'd forgotten June's headband, and I think that would have made her look a little more like, well, June. But it's too late now, I guess, and I'm not altogether unhappy with how it turned out. After all, it IS only my first foray into charaben!