Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Situation swap

I don't know what to call it exactly. But just last night, Maylin decided to pretend home was school. So, now I'm her teacher, Ms. W. I'm quite excited by it all because this means she will be more willing for me to teach her. She's usually very stubborn and resistant to my teaching her (correcting her), but last night, while she "read" to me, "This is the House that Jack Built," she didn't get upset when I tried to help. Very good-natured about it all. So...last night, I decided I was going to take advantage of this and drew up a daily schedule, hopefully similar to what she has at school. With specified outdoor time (nasty weather today, though), music time, art time, snack time, homework time, meal time, etc. The most important is choice time which I'm going to work on today. Choice time at her real school starts off with a wall-hanging with pockets that can carry cards representing each of her five choices (may vary from day to day, e.g. Playdoh, drawing, toys, etc.) When she selects an activity, she puts her name card in the pocket next to the activity. She can choose 1-5 activities within the hour time-frame.

I really should incorporate a "science time" also -- it doesn't come naturally to me like everything else, but this will be a good stretch for me. Hard to believe I was actually a pre-med in college for a year. But our newly-discovered millipede should be a good source for a lesson. These things are pretty big -- about the thickness of a pencil and over 2 inches long! I found it under a big pile of warm, moist clothes and towels in the laundry room. Must have been pretty cozy under there. The internet is an excellent place to look for educational resources.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Best big sister in the world

Stefan couldn't ask for a better sister. More later. I'm pooped! I've been doing laundry for about three hours straight.

Handsome baby


Handsome baby
Originally uploaded by Caroline in Paris.
Stefan at 3 months. Still a most wonderful baby. Eats well, sleeps well. The happiest disposition. Wakes up happy. Will even smile and laugh despite hunger and a dirty diaper. Starting to reach for toys -- my hair is his favorite. He likes Maylin's, too, and he can hang on really tight!

My first fruit tart


My first fruit tart
Originally uploaded by Caroline in Paris.
Maylin helped with the fruit positioning. Thanks, Peggy, for the most delicious recipe!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

French chocolate cake recipe (gateau chocolat) - revised 9.6.11

This is my no-fail chocolate cake that I serve all the time. And it's super-easy! Always gets rave reviews and requests for the recipe. Looks like a flourless chocolate cake. Lots of chocolate flavor, but tastes nice and light. This recipe has been adapted from the back of a Nestle Dessert Chocolat Noir (dark baking chocolate from France) package. (Thank you, Julie P, for introducing me to this marvelous cake.) This cake is still great the next day so if you have a big party to plan, you could make this cake a day in advance and perhaps reheat individual pieces in the microwave for 10-20 seconds before serving with vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 sticks of butter cut up into pieces (14 T), plus extra for greasing pan (<1 T)
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour (plus extra for prepping pan)
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
high quality vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan (I prefer a springform pan). Melt chocolate chips and butter in a saucepan over medium heat, mixing periodically. Immediately take pan off heat when chocolate and butter is melted. Mix gently by hand until no lumps. In a separate larger bowl, with an electric mixer, mix eggs and sugar until homogeneous. Add flour. Mix until homogeneous. Add chocolate mixture. Mix until homogeneous. (Do you hear an echo in here?) Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes or just until the center of the cake no longer wiggles when you jiggle it. Or if you like your cake a little runny in the middle, then take it out when it wiggles just a little below the surface. Let cool in pan. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving if desired. Best to serve warm with a scoop of high quality vanilla ice cream (I prefer softened Haagen-Dazs). Enjoy the luxuriousness of this simple, yet elegant, cake.

[Note: If your oven gets too hot in areas (for example, towards the back), it may result in big bubbles at the surface of the cake. Turning your cake 180 degrees halfway through may alleviate the problem. Or, if your oven is too hot in general, you may want to put your cake in before the oven says it's actually at 350 degrees.]

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

More to life than diapers and homework

I try to do at least one thing for myself each day to keep me a happy mommy. Yesterday, it was playing the violin. Today, I hope to do some painting. I think it's good for Maylin to see that I do do non-Mommy activities and that I derive a lot of pleasure out of my hobbies.

[Added at 11:15 am:

I noticed that John had the internet browser open to a New York Times article that articulates exactly my thoughts. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/jobs/02career.html]

Happy Stefan

Stefan is three months old today! And we already know his personality, which I think is more like John's than mine. Stefan is happy, happy, happy! Lots of smiles, cooing, joyful screaming (not very loud), and in his sleep, laughing, too. He's very easy-going and can still smile despite sitting in a dirty diaper and starving at the same time. Right now, he's sitting in his stroller and squirming with delight as I look at him. I am drinking in all these wonderful moments -- so precious.

He has begun to hold his hands together, which is so cute, and will occasionally suck on them. He can roll from his back onto his side...when he's trying to work some gas out of his system. Stefan nurses every 3-4 hours generally and is sleeping an average of 4-5 hours straight through the night.

A much easier baby than Maylin was. Maylin was demanding (I had to be with her ALL the time), serious (smiles were hard to come by), difficult to please. Everyone sees me happy and smiling, but I'm just like her -- that serious stuff is just on the inside.

The Case of the Missing Gummi Bear Vitamins

Over a month ago, I discovered a pile of half-eaten gummi bear vitamins on the floor of our bathroom, in a dark corner under a cabinet. Hmmm...how did those get there? I always thought Maylin liked her vitamins, but obviously she doesn't like them anymore. When I asked Maylin about it, she said they had just dropped on the floor. I did not reprimand her -- just pretended that I believed her and had her just promise to always eat her vitamins (she takes one before she brushes her teeth every morning and night -- lately, behind a closed door). Now I realize I can't let her close the door behind her when she goes in to brush. Because yesterday, I looked inside the extra wastebasket that I keep in the cabinet underneath the bathroom sink, and found a new pile of half-eaten gummi bear vitamins. Sad, squishy things.

I think Maylin inherited this "hiding instinct" from me. When I was in third grade, I knew I had to hide my less than perfect homework assignments from my parents who only expected A's from me. But, I was found out after a parent-teacher conference when my mother asked my teacher why I didn't get straight A's in science and social science. She had never seen anything lower than an A on my papers. Ah ha. I had to reveal to my parents my stash of papers lacking the smiley-faces. Inside my desk, the bottom drawer. Oops, a few C's here and there. I remember bawling afterwards -- not from my punishment (which I don't remember but am sure was inflicted), but from the humiliation and the revelation to my parents that I wasn't absolutely brilliant. I was a perfectionist and still am. Maylin is, too, which means I can't be too tough on her because she's already tough on herself.