Monday, February 28, 2011

I Didn't Make the Cut

It's no secret that I'm not much of a singer--and for the record, I have never claimed to be one.

In my youth I never signed up for choirs, took voice lessons, or tried out for musical theater productions. I don't even sing in the shower.

I do, however, enjoy singing. I just limit my vocal exercise to singing as part of the congregation in church and, of course, singing at home or in the car with my kids.

Or, at least, I used to.

Lately my girls have made it clear that I am NOT TO SING. NOT EVER.

For example, in the car we have a Disney Princess sing-along CD that has a song with words, followed by an instrumental version of the same song. The CD continues like this for 10 different songs.

This provides the perfect opportunity to . . . well, sing along, right?

Not for mom. Janae used to say, "MOM, STOP SINGING!!!!" But being the stellar parent I am, I have taught her to say, "Mom, could you just listen this time? I would like to sing this one alone." Janae now says this every time I open my mouth.


But what about when I am home alone with Alaina? Surely I could sing then.

Apparently not.

Yesterday I stayed home from church with Alaina because she had a fever and was throwing up. She was pale, sad, and limp, sitting on my knee. Then she mentioned a song that she really liked, a Christmas song called "The Friendly Beasts."

I will just have to back up a little to explain this one. Around Christmas time, Alaina became obsessed with a porcelain baby Jesus that was part of a nativity set. When we put the Christmas decorations away, she was looking all over for the baby Jesus, walking into rooms and saying, "Jesus?" with her little hands raised up in a questioning pose.

I remembered we had a little book about the nativity that we hadn't packed away--it had pictures of the baby Jesus in a manger, which seemed to satisfy Alaina. She carried the book around everywhere and had me read it all the time, until we somehow lost it.

The words of the book were from the old song "The Friendly Beasts," which I happened to know from a kids' CD we had once owned but had also mysteriously lost.

It goes like this:

Jesus our brother kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable rude,
And the friendly beasts around him stood
Jesus our brother kind and good.

It then tells a story from the point of view of each animal in the stable. For example:

"I," said the donkey shaggy and brown
"I carried his mother uphill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town."
"I," said the donkey shaggy and brown.

It has similar verses for a cow, sheep, rooster, dove, and even camel.

Anyway, I started singing this for Alaina yesterday, then thought, "I wonder if I could find that CD."

Since I was trapped at home with a sick baby and nothing else to do, I started looking. Unable to find it, though, I thought of Youtube.

I looked up "Friendly Beasts," and it was there, along with a little puppet show that made those old Teletubbies videos look like Oscar-level performances. It even added a cat with glowing eyes to the song and had the entire manger swaying back and forth!

Alaina wanted to watch the video--which she called "Jesus bro-der tind and dood"--over and over again.

When the rest of the family came home I had them watch it--and they, of course, wanted to see it over and over again, too.


Jason, though, thought it was a little creepy. He said that the elderly woman singing the song sounded as though she would "keel over and die at any moment," which was true (although not very nice).

Anyway, later in the evening, Alaina continued to ask for the song, crying "Jesus! Jesus!"

Since we'd already turned off the computer, I thought she might be satisfied by her mother singing the song--as I had done for her until that morning.

As I held Alaina in the rocking chair and started to sing, she shouted, "NO! NO SINGING!" Then she cried again for the song.


I was more than a little offended that she thought the woman on the Youtube video sounded better than I did.

I guess we know who's going to be doing the singing around our house from now on!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chocolate Chip Waffles, Anyone?

One of my favorite things to do is bake. I love to look up recipes and try new ones. Unfortunately, my children are among the pickiest of picky eaters and they HATE trying new things. Even things that I know they would like and that look like they’d be good—if they’re not familiar, it is unlikely any of my little ones will try them.


But chocolate chip waffles, I thought, would be different.


A few weeks ago we were reading a story where a little boy was able to choose whatever he wanted for breakfast, and he chose chocolate chip waffles.

I thought that sounded good, although obviously devoid of nutritional value.

I’d never had chocolate chip waffles or pancakes before and—if the truth be told—had kind of wondered about moms who served that kind of stuff for breakfast.

Still, Valentine’s Day was coming, and I thought it might be fun to have something kind of different and chocolatey (see how desperate I am to exercise some cooking creativity?).


I decided to make the waffles Sunday afternoon, since getting up extra early on a Monday is not really in my realm of possibility (being the mother of a toddler who still gets up 3-5 times a night).

I looked up some recipes, shopped for the ingredients (mini chocolate chips, sugar, whipping cream . . . ), and became slightly obsessed with my upcoming project.

I opted to make a double recipe so we could have the leftover waffles for breakfast on Valentine’s Day. Chocolate for breakfast . . . surely that would be a hit.

But I guess I wouldn’t be writing about it if it was, would I?

All three of my children turned up their noses at the waffles—the chocolate chip waffle perfection, all golden brown and smelling like the waffle cones in an ice cream shop.

I topped them with whipped cream and sprinkled on a few more chocolate chips, but still they were refused.

Benjamin—who hates to disappoint his mama—finally agreed to try one, but before he was finished a single waffle he said he had a stomach ache and asked to leave the table.

I could honestly not understand it. My children love chocolate chips, they love waffles, they even love whipped cream. So why would they not eat this?

Fortunately I have a husband who also loves chocolate and who doesn’t mind trying new things as long as chocolate is involved. But unfortunately Jason has been trying to eat healthier lately and was only able to eat two waffles without feeling he’d compromised his new dietary principles.

So . . . I have almost finished eating a double batch of chocolate chip waffles, and I must say I am not enjoying them as much as I did when I started eating them.

Still, I have to admit I have tucked away the recipe and may even try it again.

After all, Easter is coming, and what would be better for breakfast on Easter morning than a stack of chocolate chip waffles, topped with whipped cream?

Just maybe not a double batch. . . .

And I trust that although my children do not appreciate my efforts in the kitchen they will be fully supportive of my new exercise program :)


Friday, February 11, 2011

No Need to Worry about Janae . . .


I know I painted a pretty bleak picture for Janae in my last post--what with her apparent use of a tooth blackening kit and all--but after a little conversation I had with my daughter today, I don't think there is any need to worry about how the tooth is affecting her self-image.

Janae and I were reading Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and we got to the part where the wicked queen hears the mirror say Snow White is fairer than she is. The queen, of course, orders that a huntsman destroy Snow White.

At this point, Janae stopped me to ask, "Why did the queen want to destroy Snow White?"

I answered, "Because she wanted to be the most beautiful, and she could only be the most beautiful if Snow White was gone."

Then Janae said, "But what about ME? I'm beautiful!!"

Of course, I assured Janae that Snow White's stepmother lived a long time ago . . . and she didn't know about Janae.

Janae thought about this and then said, "But if she did know about me, she would have to destroy me, too!"

I think she is pretty secure in her beauty. I guess teeth aren't everything :)


Monday, February 7, 2011

Curse of the Black Tooth

Teeth. I didn't know the kind of trouble they could cause until I became a parent.

First it's the teething, then the battles over tooth brushing, then the visits to the dentist, then the sedation recommended for children's fillings.

There's always something to keep moms up at night worrying.

With my kids, though, there seems to be a disturbing trend that goes right along with our "Swashbuckling Sea Songs."

It started one morning walking Ben home from preschool. You might remember he was climbing on a gate, did an unexpected somersault, and landed on his front teeth.


I took him to the emergency room, the doctor (twice), and the dentist, only to discover that our best case scenario was that the tooth would remain a dismal shade of dark gray, rather than turning completely black before it fell out in a year or two.

We could have sprung for a baby root canal and some internal bleaching, which might have lightened the gray a little, but there was no guarantee.

After seeking several opinions, engaging in much debate, shedding many tears, and recovering from the recurring nightmares, I thought, "It will be okay. Ben is a boy. He wants to be a pirate. He can live with a slightly gray tooth for a few more months."

Of course, the tooth fell out at the beginning of kindergarten, and I could finally relax.

The next day my two-and-a-half-year-old Janae fell down the cement stairs outside the door to the kindergarten room at Ben's school.

After the swelling went down, Janae seemed okay. No lasting damage seemed to have been done!

Several months later, though, I noticed one of Janae's front teeth seemed darker than it should be. Within a week it was definitely gray.


I made an emergency dentist appointment with every intention of scheduling a baby root canal, internal bleaching, external bleaching, plastic surgery . . . whatever it would take. I had my Visa and my Mastercard ready.

Only to hear that there was nothing we could do but wait until the tooth came out on its own.

Janae was only THREE. The tooth would not come out for literally YEARS.

I expressed my concern to the dentist. (You know dentists, right? They WANT our money!)

She calmly assured me the tooth was healthy, the gums were fine, the x-rays showed no damage.

Finally I broke down and asked the burning question, "What can I say to people who wonder why she has a black tooth?"

Dr. Tsang simply said, "Tell them she fell down."


My other burning question: "What about all the people who DON'T ask and just assume Janae has a negligent mother who feeds her candy all the time and doesn't brush her teeth?" That's what I was really wondering.


Putting my own reputation and self-interest aside, though, I really worried, and still worry, about how the dark gray tooth will affect Janae's self-esteem.

While Benjamin is a boy who likes to play pirates, Janae is a girl who likes to play pirates only occasionally. Her real dream is to be a beautiful princess, or a ballerina.

But every time I look at her tooth, it seems darker.

It is like a family curse. The curse of the black tooth.

Now you might think I am getting ahead of myself. What about Alaina, you might ask. She doesn't have a black tooth. She has a beautiful smile.

Trust me, it is only a matter of time.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We've Got Pigtails!

Well, it's taken almost 17 months, but we finally got all that fluffy white hair into a set of pigtails!



Unfortunately, Alaina thought her sister should have some pigtails, too . . .

I got the impression Janae felt she'd already put in her time with that hairstyle :)