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Baking With Babies Recipe Rhymes Series: Basic Bread

31 Jan

I made up this recipe rhyme a while ago, and just recently dug it up again.  Caterpillar and I had a grand time baking today, and it was really nice to be able to recite this and reference where we were in the process.  She was a lot more patient through the whole thing knowing which step we were at and what would come next.  I’m kind of inspired to come up with more of them, so stay tuned if you like things like this.

(You are welcome to print this off and use it with your kids, but if you like this enough to share it with others, please give credit and link back to here,  thanks!)

 

How To Bake Bread:

One cup of water, warm to the touch.

Two cups of flour, but not too much!

A big pinch of yeast to help it rise,

Another of salt, just the same size.

A spoonful of oil, and then use your brawn

To stir it together ‘til the lumps are all gone!

Cover it up and let it start to rise,

Then leave it alone ‘til it’s doubled in size.

Shape your loaf however you make it.

Let it double again, and then you can bake it!

When the crust is light brown, carefully take out your treat,

Let it cool for a bit, then it’s ready to eat!

If you do use this with your kid(s), make sure to have something for them to do while the bread is raising.  A half hour show is about the right length of time, or read books or play games together, but have something to keep impatience from becoming too much of a problem.

Also, this is basically a scaled down version of The All-Purpose Bread Recipe found here, and the details of what you can do with the dough can be found at that link.  It could turn into anything from a loaf of bread to cinnamon rolls, pizza, or even pitas if you wanted.  If you want to make an even smaller batch, you could give your kids half-cup measuring cups to use (I do this if Caterpillar is making her batch of bread alongside my bigger batch for the family).  Try to let your kids do as much of the work as they can get away with, but grown-ups will obviously have to do any oven work.

Don’t worry about being too precise with the measurements – let the pinches and the spoonfuls be just that.  The ingredients all have a fairly decent margin of error, and most kids aren’t worried about getting a “perfect” loaf – they just want to have fun and end up with something they can eat at the end.

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Toddler Tautologies

28 Aug

Caterpillar has been talking a lot, as she is prone to do, and she is very good at stating the obvious.  Examples:

“This water is too wet!”

“Panties are called panties.”

“Yummy water is yummy.”

“Daddy is my daddy.”

“Mommy, you are my mother.”

. . . and others, too.  These are just what I can think of off the top of my head.

Baking with Babies

2 Apr

 

 

For anyone who wants to try this with your toddler:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • a biggish pinch of yeast
  • a biggish pinch of salt
  • a small splash of oil
  • 1 cup of flour (+more for dusting)

Mix ingredients together in order listed, letting your toddler do as much of the measuring/dumping/stirring as she can handle.  The dough will probably be sticky at the end; stir in a little more flour if you need to, but you should be able to mix in everything by spoon – no kneading is necessary, though you can let your child squish the dough for a few minutes if they like that sort of thing.

Let raise about 20-30 minutes; set a timer and go play games or turn on a show about the right length of time to keep occupied while the dough sets.  While the dough raises, you can grease and flour your loaf pans or line a baking sheet with parchment.

After the show is done or the timer goes “ding,” dust your hands and the dough with extra flour and shape the bread.  You can make one loaf or several smaller ones (about the size of dinner rolls).  Turn the oven on to 400 degrees, set the loaves on top of the stove to catch the warmth, and raise about 30 minutes, again setting the timer or watching a show about the right length of time.

After the bread has risen, brush it with melted butter or olive oil.  Have your child step back and watch while you put the bread in the oven.  If your oven has a window, turn the light on so your child can watch the bread bake.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until it is golden brown on top.   Let it cool for a few minutes, then enjoy!

Note: I did this at the same time as I was baking other bread; I’ve owed Sushi some bread for a while, but I’ve been sickly lately, and the Caterpillar really needed some Mommy interaction, so we did this as a side project while I had the oven going and I was feeling slightly better.

Speaking and Signing

14 Jul

Caterpillar made leaps and bounds in her linguistic development this last week – very well timed because we were on the road a lot, and it gave her something to do while in the car.  She spent a lot of time looking out the window or at books and talking/signing about what she was seeing.  For the record, any vehicle (car, truck, or airplane) is a spoken “guck,” but she will sign like she is driving for “car” and make the ASL sign for “train” when she sees a semi.  After this trip, I’ve got some new thoughts and observations on using sign language with an infant:

Speaking is tough; a person has to have the specific muscles in one’s mouth and throat held exactly the right way to make the specific noise one wants to produce.  Once a child starts to understand the meanings of specific words, she may not physically be able to duplicate the sound of the words in order to use them.  She will try her best, but it can be difficult for listeners to discern what is meant.  To use examples from the Caterpillar: “purse,” “nurse,” “flowers,” and any number of other words come out as “urs;” “doggie” and “ducky” sound identical; “rock,” “truck,” and “frog” are hard to tell apart.

Signing has its’ challenges as well: little hands have limited dexterity.  While signs may be easier to make and use for basic communication earlier than spoken words, they can be confusing when more and more signs are added to the vocabulary.  Many ASL signs look very similar, especially when done by the still-learning hands of an 18-month old.  Caterpillar’s attempts at “shoes,” “socks,”  and “more,” can end up looking very much the same, as can “cup,” “help,” “cook” and “cookie,” or (the worst) “peas,” “knife,” “sit,” “swing,” “egg” and “train.”

The meaning of an attempt at either a spoken word or an ASL sign can usually be guessed at by context – if there is a dog around, then she’s probably not saying “ducky;” and if there are peas on her plate, she’s probably not signing about knives or swings.  That kind of guesswork is usually sufficient, but it only allows for communication about things that are present.   It limits the ability to use questions, to request an item that is not around, or to discuss something that is not in sight at the moment.

Caterpillar has been very interested in talking about things that she has done or seen, making a request for something not immediately present, and other similar kinds of conversations.  I’ve become very grateful that we chose to sign as well as speak with her – it allows for better clarity in communication, much better than we had expected at this age.

This morning she woke up and asked me to “ku gegg” while trying to sign “cook” and “egg”  and pointing out of the bedroom – she wanted me to make her some scrambled eggs for breakfast.  Without the spoken cues, I could have easily thought she was saying “help me swing” or “cups and knives are out there,” and without the sign cues I could have just brushed off her words as babble or thought she was saying “cookie,” but the signs and sounds gave each other more clarity.  I said, “You want me to cook an egg for you?  She nodded, pointed to the kitchen, and again made the signs and sounds to confirm that I had understood.  We then went off to cook some eggs for breakfast.

I can understand when she wants to go see the ducks or if she sees a dog outside, and can I know whether she’s asking for candy or talking about the cat she saw on the window sill earlier that week.  Her ability to communicate helps me be able to better respond to her as a parent, to teach her about her world, and to learn about the person she is.   I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity to mother this little one.

 

Nursing Stories

31 May

The Caterpillar is still nursing, but each day she does a little bit less and less.  I’m not sure if she will wean before 00BABY gets here or if I’m going to be tandem nursing a newborn and toddler, but it looks like it could go either way right now.  Whatever happens will be okay with me.

Nursing a toddler has been an interesting experience, and is very rewarding in many ways.  Nursing a newborn is awesome in a cuddly/sweet/I-love-you way, and nursing a toddler is all that plus actual feedback from the nursling.  It is also an incredibly useful comforting tool to have when other techniques don’t work if the Caterpillar is hurt, distraught, or overly tired.  When your baby can sign or speak or do a happy dance at the idea of nursing, you get an idea of how important it is to her.  I’ve also got a few nursing stories that I want to remember that give glimpses of what kind of personality traits the Caterpillar is developing:

Forthright Communication – Caterpillar is trying to say words in addition to signing them, but she can only make a certain number of sounds.  For a long time she’s been saying “Sssss, Sssss,” which can mean either “Please,” “Yes,” or Nurse.”  Sometimes it’s all three of them – she’ll come up to me with a big smile on her face, nodding her head “YES” very enthusiastically, and signing “Milk” (our sign for “Nurse”) and “Please.”  It’s a very big “YES, NURSE PLEASE!” statement that is incredibly endearing, and it is good to see her advocate for herself in a positive way.

Playfulness – At bedtime (and sometimes during the day), Caterpillar will give me one of her stuffed animals – usually the dog, the cat, or the bear – and ask me to nurse it.  I’ve tried a couple of times to encourage her to play-nurse them herself, but she usually laughs and gives me this look that basically says, “Silly, you’re the one with the milk!”  Asking me to nurse her animals is usually a precursor to asking to be nursed herself, and I like that she’s willing to share, so I don’t mind this little game too much.

Concern, Compassion, and Charity – When we were at the bookstore a week ago, another little girl about Caterpillar’s age fell down and hurt herself.  Caterpillar heard the crying and walked toward the family signing “Milk” – telling them to nurse the little girl to help her feel better.  She did a similar thing at a friend’s house yesterday: this three-year-old friend got injured in play and was being cuddled by her mom; Caterpillar walked up and signed at the mom that she should nurse her daughter so she would feel better.  We explained to the Caterpillar that her friend doesn’t nurse anymore, but it was sweet that she thought of it.  This same friend was over at our place a few days ago, and Caterpillar offered her my nursing services when she got hurt in play.  I didn’t, of course – nursing someone else’s three-year-old is quite a bit out of my comfort zone – but it’s situations like this that make me feel a lot more comfortable about the Caterpillar’s potential reactions to a new baby in the house.  If she’s willing to share me now, I don’t think there are likely to be hard feelings toward a new nursling.

First Ever Bouquet!

28 Mar

The Caterpillar picked some flowers for me today!

Growing Up

26 Feb

It’s kind of amazing watching my little one grow up.  She’s just over a year now, but she wants so much to be like the big people.  One the common phrases around her is “When did you learn how to do that!?”  A lot of it is imitation, and is very cute, but is very much a reminder of how quickly time passes.

Sushi and I are both avid readers, and we seem to have produced a bibliophile.  If we are sitting around reading a book or even just typing something on the  computer, she frequently goes and grabs a book and sits down in one of her little places.

She was incredibly pleased when we finally found a wooden chair that was just her size.  We found it at Goodwill, and she loves sitting in it.  It’s got to be frustrating to have all of the furniture be proportioned for people several times as large as you.

At mealtimes she insists on having flatware like everyone else, and has since before she started actually eating food.  When she was very little, we figured giving a spoon to the baby was a fine way to entertain her at dinner time while we ate our food.  She seems to be getting pretty competent with it, though.

She plays on the computer whenever she gets a chance – she is a champion chair climber, so if we don’t tuck in our chairs, she’s up on the table or the desk. 

In addition to all these, she’s starting to catch on to the idea of sign language.  This past week she’s started doing “dog,” “cat,” “please,” and “bear.”  She can also do “more,” “ball,” and “light.”  Granted, they aren’t perfect (please and more get mixed up, she touches her nose for cat rather than stroking her cheek next to her nose, and she calls horses cats) but she’s getting the idea.  All of us are happy with this breakthrough in communication; it is very nice to know exactly what she sees and wants to investigate, and it is incredibly nice to have her sign “please” when she wants something rather than point and grunt hoping we will get the idea (grunt is hard to interpret sometimes).

Belated Birthday

25 Feb

Birthday girl looking at the menu

Now more than a month after the fact, I figured we should get documentation from the Caterpillar’s birthday.

We went out for sushi for dinner.

 

They made her a plain rice & seaweed roll, then cut and arranged it like a flower.

 

 

We made little nigiris for her at the table with vegetables on plain rice.

 

 

Sticking with the roll theme, I guess, we had pumkin cake rolls for her birthday cake. The little one was made using bakeware she got for Christmas from Grandma Cherry-Cherry

 

Also, new birthday pajamas. The Caterpillar hates footie pajamas, so we were grateful for non-footed ones.

 

 

 

 

 

RAWR!

25 Feb

My daughter is special.

The Caterpillar in a fluffy, frilly pettiskirt

Not just any frilly dressed girl gets compared to a dinosaur.

Dilophosaurus

 

Baby in the Kitchen

17 Jan

Cooking with children is a well-established tradition in my family.  My mother thought it was much easier to have us occupied with what she was doing up on the counter than it was to have us grabbing at her legs and tripping her up while she tried to get dinner ready.  As a result, I and all of my siblings can cook fairly well and were doing at least basic cooking tasks at very young ages (apparently we could all crack eggs by the time we were one – in the bowl, sans shell).

I like to have my daughter in the kitchen with me, too.  Lacking the counter space that my parents were blessed with in their early kitchens, we’ve had to come up with other solutions than plopping the baby on the counter.  When the Caterpillar was really little, I would wear her on my back most of the time.  As she’s gotten older, she wants to be more and more involved in what I’m doing.  That’s not always safe, so we’ve gotten her a stool and come up with things for her to do.  Like this:

It pays to be friends with the managers of the apartment complex.  If they know you’ve been looking for extra storage furniture, they let you know when an apartment’s kitchen is getting remodeled, so you can have first dibs on any cabinetry you want to grab.  Like this, which we turned into the Caterpillar’s kitchen:

For Christmas, my mother put together a collection of cooking equipment so we could properly outfit her “kitchen.”  She now has pots & pans, a mixing bowl, a measuring cup, dish towels, hand towels, an apron, a rolling pin, bakeware, and various other cooking utensils that are just her size.  Now when she sees mommy doing something, she can do it down at her level.