Name That Tune, Felix Wunderkind

We popped into Kris’ office this morning to deliver an important message. She was listening to, at that moment, the Stereo MC’s “Step It Up.”

After delivering our message, Felix asked sweetly, “Mama, are you listening to the dinosaur song?”

Huh?

He continued, “I like this Dinosaur Train song.”

Mamas running to catch up in 3…2…1…

Oh. Wh–?

How?!

Holy shit.

I invite you to compare:

What’s the german word for “the first time this happened, it was interesting, but now that it’s happened a second time, it’s even more shocking”?

Because it happened last year, too.

Sometime last year (since March), Kris was listening to Beethoven’s Ninth (the Ode to Joy one), doing chores. Felix ran over to his keyboard and pushed the button to play one of the demo songs. This one:

“See, Mama!”

If it sounded identical, it would make more sense to me.

What is this talent of his called, and how on earth can I feed it?

Happy Anonymous Donor Day

My children don’t have a father. They have two moms, and an anonymous-for-now  sperm donor.

(They also have amazing aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors. And I hope one day they’ll have some donor-siblings, but today I’m thinking specifically of their donor.)

The information we know about the donor is a strange mix of intimately detailed and hopelessly limited.

Some of things we know: some basic physiological characteristics and measurements, some resume fluff like education and career, some self-reported interests, a few generations of family health history. One small picture of him as a toddler. Some impressive sperm counts and morphology from a thawed sample.

What we don’t know could fill many a book. We don’t know if he has dimples, or if he needed braces as a teenager, or how much he likes to sing in the shower or dance in the kitchen. We don’t know if he was ever afraid of thunderstorms, or when he got his first passport. We don’t know if he ever thinks of the children that he helped create.

I don’t know how much it matters. The boys are so much their own people — arrived on the scene as completely their own little people — that maybe it doesn’t matter one whit about the meatbags and middlemen that mixed some body fluids to get them started.

I can surmise the donor is pretty smart. I mean, he figured out how to get paid to masturbate, and if that’s not a sliver of the Manly American Dream come true, I don’t know what is.

But half-kidding aside, I can also surmise that the donor is major-league generous. His contribution — however anonymous, or pleasant, or lucrative, or not — made us mothers, the kind of gift that nobody can put a bow on. Not even one of those Lexus-sized Christmas bows.

I can thank KK for making the leap with me, for all the once-in-a-lifetime-ness and the relentless daily grinding of it all. For being brave enough to let her heart burst open, so there’d be room to hold us all.

I can thank our friends and family for the support and patience and love they show us every day, that they show the boys every day.

Sometimes I get a little sad that I can’t thank the donor for his role in the gift, too, for helping me finally find my life’s work.

What I saw of the donor on insemination day - the bag from the lab that held the thawed sample

What I saw of the donor on insemination day – the bag from the lab that held the thawed sample

Cool Find: Toddler Sand Tools



I’m planning for the boys’ easter baskets to simply be some sand/water toys and tools. And a little chocolate, but mostly just a couple of toys.

The weather will be warm enough to finally play outside with the water table. And if the enthusiasm with which they’ve been going after the dog bowl is any indication, they absolutely cannot WAIT to get their hands wet.

What I’ve already found, though, is that most of the readily-available sand toys are too big for a young toddler to easily play with. At the sand space at the park last weekend, Felix picked up a shovel with a head bigger than his own. Frustration followed. No good.

Some alternatives I’d considered:

  • Kitchen utensils. Sure, I have some they could use, such as spoons and measuring cups, but I’d prefer dedicated play stuff so I can keep my dedicated kitchen stuff.
  • Bath toys. While they have some cups and such in the bath, I think they’d prefer that those remain available for every bath time.

Enter these great “Sand Tools” that I spotted (ok, more like boughted, amirite?) at Michael’s today.

They get a demerit for being plastic.

But they get credits for being only about 6 inches long and having really good proportions for little hands just developing fine motor skills.

Give them another credit for being “just” $4. Sure, I had a flash of panic in the store because $4 felt like a lot compared to the thrift prices I prefer. But cooler heads prevailed, and i rationalized that $4 for a 4-pack still clocks in around dollar store territory, making them reasonable enough. It is a holiday, after all, said Scrooge McMom.

Let’s add one more credit for being colored, packaged, and sold in a gender-neutral style, just because so damn few things are, and especially at the cheapest end of the spectrum.

I only bought one set for them to split, but if they work as well as I expect, I’ll be back in a month to find another so everybody can have plenty to choose from.

For others interested in tracking these down, I found them hanging on a lonely strip of impulse buys just before the checkouts, not part of any larger seasonal or thematic display.

As for you: seen any good buys lately? Bonus points for links and/or samples. 🙂

Squeaky wheels

It is currently my greatest hope and most fervent fantasy that once the boys get words, the toneless whining will stop.

I am clinging so tightly to this hope that my fingers are bleeding. At least now they match my ears.

Recipe: Toddler Muffins

All the whole-grain, none of the gluten OR the mess. Easy to make, easy to eat. We all need more easy in our lives!

Toddler Muffins

adapted from Oatmeal Banana Muffins at Eat Drink Pretty)muffins_edited
yields 48 mini muffins, which freeze and reheat beautifully

Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Lightly grease a mini muffin pan with cooking spray or use liners.

In the bowl of a large food processor, grind 2.5 cups old-fashioned oats until fine.

Add the following dry ingredients into the food processor and pulse a few times:

  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 0.5 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 0.5 cup sugar

Finally, add the following wet ingredients into the food processor and blend until thoroughly mixed:

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 cup plain Greek yogurt (regular yogurt works too, but I like the protein in Greek)
  • 0.25 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Use a small ladle or big spoon to fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full.
Bake 10-20* minutes, or until the tops turn a bit golden and spring back when touched.

*Point of contention: Original recipe recommended cooking them for “8-10 minutes.” But mine always take 20-22 minutes. I cook two 24-cup mini muffin pans at the same time. So if you’re baking in smaller or fewer pans, maybe it will take less time?

In any case, when your muffins are done, cool them for a few minutes in the pans, then remove and cool completely before freezing.. Store in airtight container on counter or in fridge.

Variations:

  • Use 0.5 cup less oatmeal (so only 2 cups) and add 0.5 cup fruit or vegetables (fresh, defrosted-frozen, or rehydrated-dried) such as blueberries, dates, raisins, or carrots.
  • You can substitute applesauce for the oil, but (1) kids need fat and (2) the bit of oil gives the muffins a better texture and easier release from the pan.
  • You can probably substitute most sweeteners for the sugar.

Backstory

About the time the boys turned a year old, they got really into self-feeding. Which is a nice way of saying that pretty much overnight, they began flatly, and loudly, refusing everything I offered them on a spoon.

And pretty much overnight, I got really REALLY sick of the mess created by their attempts to self-spoon their morning oatmeal.

Then, from somewhere in the foggy depths of my memory, I remembered the baked oatmeal that KK used to eat almost every day.

I could make something like that for the boys! No more oatmeal hairdos before 8am!

HALLELUJAH.

2014.09.15 Felix try muffins first time (1)

This is the recipe that has evolved over the last few mess-free months. We make a batch of muffins (48 minis) every week or so. They’ll each eat 3 or 4 muffins most mornings. The hardest part of making these is timing the ripening of the bananas, because the grocery stores seem to specialize in stocking only the greenest they can find.

I use two Kitchenaid 24-cup silicone mini muffin pans (thrifted), I can’t find the exact ones, but they look like this. The silicone makes it really easy to pop the muffins out, and there’s no need for paper liners. They’re also easy to clean, either by hand or in the dishwasher.

emerson eating muffins

 

Turn up the fun with BALZAC!

I came home after my infusion and cheer-me-up quick thrift session with a Balzac.

“What’s that?” KK asked. Another one of our odd-couple moments — her phd in comparative literature versus my wasted youth held dramatically different notions of what constituted a “Balzac” and what made it so great.

Put on your Hammer pants, tease those bangs, and go back in time with me to

The early 1990s!

The world just looked different then.

Balzac Earth balloon ball

Unwilling to wait a moment longer, I managed to blow it up — without passing out — and tossed it into the playroom.

Now, all I’ve heard for the last 30 minutes is galloping toddler feet and squeaks of joy.

As a kid, I thought a Balzac would be fun. But now, from a mom perspective, I think a Balzac is AMAZING.

For starters, for wearing toddlers out, it’s even better than the playground at the mall, with all its associated contagion.

It’s lighter than a beach ball, washable, and refillable.

It’s safer than a naked latex balloon, which at 15 months, the boys would bite, burst, and probably choke on.

And of course, it’s extra fun because I always wanted one of these and my parents wouldn’t get me one. “You have all kinds of balls already,” my mom would sneer. “Here’s some wrinkly leftover balloons from your sister’s birthday party.”

I never could make her understand that Balzac wasn’t a ball, or a ballon. It was a patented “magic action balloon ball — the newest, wildest, funniest, craziest ball on earth!” See?

Balzac user guide cover