Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween


Sabrina - Amelia Earhart, because Patrick and I wanted her 1st costume to be of an exceptional woman. Frog, because her favorite ASL sign was frog, sticking her tongue in and out very fast. Forest Fairy, because she proved to be a magical child. Bumble Bee, Sabrina's own choice, because she liked a book about bees.


Cassandra - Pumpkin, because she's a perfect baby and there's something perfect about a classic.

This morning, when I told Sabrina today was Halloween, she said, Really? She's right to be skeptical--it has pretty much been Halloween for two happy weeks of crafts, cookies, booing and ghosting, neighborhood and preschool parades, parties and dressing up. And it ended in a wonderful crisp evening of trick or treating, greeting neighbors and sneaking in one more candy before bedtime.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Inspires Me


Today I'll share things that are inspiring me...

...to spread the joy with random happy fortunes

...to practice good penmanship

...to embrace glass

...to listen

...to play and build

...to get organized

...to have a creative fall

...to make something

...to buy handmade

...to start the day right

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jake Sleeps Over

Jake the lizard is the class mascot in Sabrina's preschool class and the children take turns having the honor of taking him home for the weekend. Sabrina's turn finally came and she was beyond excited. She did everything with Jake. Drew pictures of him, slept with him, shared her food with him, and almost, almost gave him more attention than she did her beloved Bunny until she realized she was being insensitive and decided to include Bunny in the action. Bunny's going to be jealous, she said, maybe remembering her first traumatic weeks as an older sister. But Jake misses his mommy and needs hugs, she justified her attentions.

Seeing Sabrina be such a thoughtful loving hostess and caregiver to Jake made me realize how important her stuffed animals are to her. She calls them her friends, and they really truly are. We just haven't been celebrating them enough. So, I'm going to be a little more mindful of these little creatures that fill our home. I think they can teach me a thing or two about my own little creature.

On a side note, in case you're wondering why I'm blogging so late, it's because we're supposed to provide the teachers with photos and a description of Jake's weekend. So for the last two hours I've been putting together a little story about Sabrina and Jake's wonderful weekend. I couldn't send him back without the proper memento of his stay with us.

Friday, October 26, 2007

You've Been Booed

Just an hour ago I went over to two neighbors' homes, left little bags of treats at their doors, rang the doorbells and ran into the darkness before they could see me. I was booing them... something I had never heard about before a friend at work enlightened me. Here's the deal: you anonymously deliver goodies to two neighbors and include a little paper ghost and instructions on how to continue the game. By Halloween the whole neighborhood should be plastered in ghosts!

I live for little things like this that build community and are so much fun. Of course Sabrina loves the idea and now can't wait for us to be booed. She helped me prepare the bags filled with candy, some Halloween craft items and some votive candles for pumpkins.

Here are the instructions in case you want to do this too. In fact, consider yourself booed (sorry, no treats from me!)

You've Been Booed

The air is cool the season fall
Soon Halloween will come to all
The spooks are after things to do
In fact, a spook brought this to you
A shield from witching hour
Just hang it up and watch its power
We'll all have smiles upon our faces
No one will know who booed whose places
And don't forget a nifty treat
Like something cute or something sweet
Please join the fun, let's really hear it
And spread neighborly Halloween spirit.

**************************************************

You've been booed! Now it's your turn to boo two other homes in the neighborhood:
  • Hang the ghost on your front door so that everyone can see that you have been booed and will not boo you again. This also lets you know who you can boo.
  • Fill two bags with treats. Copy this letter and the ghost twice. Include treats, letter, and ghost in your bag for the two neighbors you choose.
  • After dark, and only with an adult, boo two of your neighbors. Don't' let them see you! Just place the bag on the doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run.
It will be fun to see how many ghosts appear in our neighborhood by Halloween. Keep it safe and enjoy!

Surprise Gift

And the giveaway winner is Itziar! Itziar, it's so cool that my little gift is going all the way to Spain, and to Valencia, no less, my father's hometown! Can you give me your address?

After Itziar has received her gift I'll post a picture of it... I wouldn't want to spoil her surprise.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

1/2


Six months ago Cassandra Cristina, aka CC, was born.

I'd like to write something profound and wonderful about this magical little girl's first six months in the world. But her sister said it best this morning: "She's still zero and we love her."

That's all the good + happy for today. It's plenty.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Happy Food

I never thought I'd be the kind of mom who made elaborate things (vehicles, people, animals...) out of food to coax her children into eating. My view is that fruits and vegetables are already beautiful in their natural state, so why mess with them? And making things out of meat is just weird.

And in case you've been following the controversy surrounding Jessica Seinfeld's book, Deceptively Delicious, I'll tell you I stand on the side of not pureeing veggies into your waffle batter. Come on, people, it's not only about shoveling as much broccoli into your child as possible, is it? There's a place for just plain yummy food, isn't there?

But... if there's one thing I've learned as a mom is never say never. So I'll admit: I have found myself making the occasional smiley face with ketchup on Sabrina's eggs, and we've definitely had some fun pouring oatmeal into cookie cutters and letting it set. Then Sabrina came back from school with a train wagon made entirely out of raw veggies that she happily munched on for her afternoon snack. So now, this. Smiley zucchini. You see, Sabrina, usually a great eater, brings her school lunches back only half-eaten now that she doesn't have one, if not two adults entirely devoted to making sure she eats her mid-day meal. So, I carved happy faces on Sabrina's zucchini slices, certain she'd gobble them up. But no. They were still there, smiling right at me when I opened her lunch box in the afternoon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Well Hello Dolly

I'm not holding my breath, but I think Sabrina might finally be showing some interest in dolls. She's only liked stuffed animals so far, the cheaper the better. But just lately, she's been swaddling some of them and calling them her babies. She's also been a little nicer to the few dolls that sit in her room waiting for any sign of affection. I myself was very into dolls as a child, and with all the cuties out there, I'll be more than happy to help Sabrina find a new baby, friend, whatever. Here are some of my favorites... we'll see which one is the lucky chosen one.

Lullaboos. Everything from the name to the adorable clothes and cozy pods they sleep in is perfect.


I love those faces on Waldorf dolls, and Moonchild Studios has some of the nicest, and they are custom made for your child (or you!)


I've already admired little red caboose's Matryoshkas... and they are only getting more lovely with each new batch... but they also sell out almost immediately!


Love these little French dolls, each one-of-a-kind and with her own little story.

On our way home from finding out Sabrina was a girl, Patrick and I stopped at a toy store and got this Corolle doll for her. Too bad the poor baby lives at the bottom of the toy bin smothered by stuffed animals.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Family Happy Hour

Family by Tomtemama

Oh, I love when a great tradition is born out of the blue and you just know immediately that you'll be doing this again and again and it wasn't even something you planned. The weekend was following its usual course--a little bit of sleeping in, Patrick making stacks and stacks of pancakes while the the rest of us sat at the table waiting, some panic over CC not napping, a long list of to dos that had to be sorted through then ignored, some tidying up, a couple of art projects, a few peeks at my favorite blogs. Then it was 5 o'clock and we realized we had no Saturday evening plan: no guests, no parties, no place we planned to visit, no dinner either. So we cranked up the music, set the table with a bunch of snacks, poured some wine for the parents, juice for Sabrina and danced and snacked and sang until the girls' bedtime. Just in time for those shorter days, we now have a plan for Saturday nights.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Our World

Sisters by Ashley Goldberg

For many months since becoming a family of four we lived in two realities: the come on Mommy...do, do, do...activity after activity...pull every toy out...let's skip that nap...no hugs right now...I'm rough and sturdy...what are we doing today ?...where are we going?...world of three-year-old Sabrina and the sleepy...let's nurse for an hour...let's nurse again...three naps a day...I'm frail and tiny...what good are all these pretty rattles when I can suck on my own fingers?...all I want is to be held...world of CC.

At times it was enough to give me vertigo as I went back and forth delivering kisses on what seemed like Sabrina's huge head (when did it get so big?) and CC's tiny (like a baby bird's by comparison) one.

But the two realities are merging now as CC sleeps less and the girls interact more--Sabrina can make CC laugh like no one else, and CC's new tricks, from babbling (did she say, Hi?) to sticking her entire foot in her mouth, amuse Sabrina. And they agree on this: life is exciting. They are both so enthusiastic about new discoveries, so curious about the world, so interested in every little thing. Life is exciting, their wide eyes and grabbing hands say. Life is so exciting. Come to think of it, that's the reality for all four of us these days.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Crush on Harold

Read my little tribute to one of our favorite children's literary characters on Momformation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tissue Paper Comes Through Again

Another fabulous use for tissue paper: dressmaking. We made this little outfit in one of those moments of pure motherly inspiration that come from the terrifying realization that you've used up all your good ideas for the day and dinner is an hour away and your husband's arrival another two after that because he's in the middle of a work crisis and your child is still full of energy that reading books for an hour will do nothing to satisfy.

It's just three sheets of paper--one for the hat which is taped in the back and two for the dress which I taped at the shoulders and around the sides. Surprisingly, the costume survived until dinnertime. She kept it on while we ate, then ripped it off (literally) with a flourish before hopping into the bathtub.

According to Sabrina, she was "Green Miss Clavel" (the nun from Madeline). To me, she looks more like the High Priestess of Cutie Pies.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fall Makeover

I really wanted to spend part of my birthday doing something autumn-y even though it's still t-shirt weather here. To me, nothing says welcome to the cozy days of autumn like a front stoop featuring pansies, mums and pumpkins. So this afternoon we headed to the nearby pumpkin patch and loaded up on goodies. Sabrina helped me clean out the last sad spring flowers from our flower pots and boxes today, then we planted some lovely orange pansies and placed some big pumpkins just so. We also got a whole bag of little pumpkins that will serve as decorations and will be the center of a few craft ideas I've been thinking up and will share once we've executed. Now that we've set the stage maybe the crisp cool weather will come to stay?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Counting My [Good + Happy] Blessings


There are good + happy things going on in my life:

One
This is my 100th post to Good + Happy Day. When I started I wasn't sure where this little blog would lead and if I would even enjoy working on it. 100 good + happy ideas later I can safely say the blog and all the people I've come across since starting it have brought me enough moments of happiness, creativity, generosity, insight and inspiration for me to know for certain that blogging will for a long long time remain in my life.

Two
Today I will be inviting the people in my life who do not know about Good + Happy Day to come take a look. I wanted to be sure that this was a project I could commit to before having my friends and family bookmark the blog. For all of you visiting me for the first time today... welcome! And to those who have been coming already and showering me with support and encouragement in this endeavor... thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Three
Starting today I will also be blogging regularly about children's activities for babycenter. Most of you are probably familiar with the site--it's where you get those updates and cute pictures of your baby growing in the womb. I'll be joining a very talented group of bloggers who cover all sorts of parenting and child-related topics on babycenter's momformation blog.

Four
Tomorrow I turn 35... many wonderful things seem to be converging around my birthday this year, and I hope this means that the 12 months before me will be filled with good + happy days galore.

Five
In the spirit of sharing and generosity that is at the heart of blogging, I'm ready to jump in and do my first giveaway. Leave me a comment on this post by midnight this Friday and I'll have Sabrina pick a name at random to receive a surprise gift... here's a hint: it will be something you can use to spend a good + happy time with your children.

Want to Make a Change?


If you want to make a change, just tell your bossy 3-year-old what it is and why. Then see what happens. Sabrina loves to boss me around, which can be cute or obnoxious, depending on the moment. But one sure benefit is that she keeps me honest by reminding me constantly about the right thing to do... using the very the same words I use to remind her constantly about the right thing to do.

I bring this up is because we've been trying really hard to break some bad habits in our household, and Sabrina has been extra helpful in this respect.

Turn off the water Mommy when you brush my teeth or the fish will choke with no water.

Don't use the paper towel Mommy you don't want to kill a tree.

No, Mommy, no fresh paper. I will paint on the other side of my art so I cannot kill a tree.

That cleaner smells so bad, Mommy. Can you get rid of it? It's a bad for me smell.

Mommy, remember to bring your bags so you don't kill more bags at the grocery store.

And so it goes at our home, with our fearless leader pointing her little finger at us and getting us to walk the talk.

This is my contribution to blog action day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sabrina's Oatmeal Cookies


Here's the recipe for the oatmeal cookies Sabrina and I made for our friends and family. If you have any good recipes that, like this one, make lots of cookies quickly I'd love it if you shared.

Ingredients

3/4 cup of butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oats, uncooked
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter, sugars, egg, water, and vanilla until creamy. Add combined remaining ingredients, mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. For variety add chopped nuts, raisins, chocolate chips or coconut. Sabrina likes raisins most. Makes about five dozen cookies.

A Childhood in Spain


Today is Spain's national holiday, so in celebration let me list some of the childhood experiences that I wish to recreate in some form for my children. either during summer visits to Spain or at home in the U.S.

...the smell of paella made by my parents filling the house starting early in the morning ... staying up until midnight to play outdoors ... eating salted sunflower seeds and corn nuts by the fistful ... having siesta in my aunt and uncle's bed after a big family lunch ... the sounds of an outdoor rock concert keeping the whole family up late into the night ... eating roscon dipped in thick hot chocolate for Reyes ... biting into the coin baked in the roscon ...walking the brightly lit streets of Madrid at night after an evening of shopping with my mom ... soaking for hours in the warm Mediterranean Sea while chatting with my parents ... getting lost in my grandmother's orange groves ... collecting live snails for paella ... crushing chestnuts with a rock to get at the meat ... in summer watching TV on the balcony... bocadillos for dinner made by the moms and eaten outdoors with friends ... going to really nice traditional restaurants with my parents ... stopping at a real restaurant during the road trip from Madrid to the coast and having a three course lunch ... sleeping in very hot hotel rooms all over Spain ... no air conditioning ... eating condensed milk sandwiches ... salted dry cod, bacalao ... relatives' homes filled with stacks of magazines dating 10 years back ... Fiestas de Agosto ... Fanta Naranja ... reading Don Quijote de la Mancha at age 13 and laughing ... visiting the Prado all the time.

How lucky was I?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Beyond Dora

I'm always on the lookout for items that will support my efforts at raising bilingual children, and here are some cute things I've come across recently.


Adorable flash cards found via at: the nursery are fun and I like that unlike other cards they won't end up scattered all over the place.


This matching game is cute, too. I like the vintage images.

What a handsome doll! It speaks 26 phrases and comes in girl and boy versions.


Magnetic letters that include accents, tildes and the double r and double l make putting together Spanish words easy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How to Tell a Bedtime Story


How to tell a bedtime story:

1. Go to give one last goodnight kiss but instead snuggle into your daughter's warm bed.

2. Begin with "Once upon a time there was a little girl named Sabrina who was very smart and very nice and very funny and very beautiful..."

3. From there let the story follow whatever twist your or your daughter's imagination will take. Maybe the story is about Sabrina bringing treats to all her friends who missed school because they have colds. Or about Sabrina painting the house in different colors while everyone sleeps. Or about Sabrina going to the beach and befriending a family of starfish.

4. Make sure the story involves fantasy based on something your daughter loves in real life like giving people treats, painting, the beach, or starfish.

5. End the story with some kind of familiar coziness... the friends all get better and return to school, everyone wakes up and loves the new colors in the house and has breakfast in the new purple dining room, the starfish all return to the water and Sabrina returns to her home.

6. Be prepared to tell a second and third story and to continue to snuggle.

7. End with a long hug, many kisses and a promise to tell another story in the morning.

8. Know that even though this means you'll be staying up an hour longer to get things done, it is worth it because your daughter is drifting off to sleep in a world of marvels all of her own.

Image: Bed of Roses by Carabatack Design

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Giving


Our Yummy in my Tummy Tuesdays have been producing lots of goodies, and last week we decided on making oatmeal cookies with a recipe yielding five dozen treats so we could share the sweetness.

After the cookies had cooled we made pretty autumn packages of a dozen treats each, added tags made by Sabrina and paid quick visits to friends and family to deliver the goodies. From start to end this was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and nurture Sabrina's very generous spirit. She loves the act of giving and could not have been prouder of her gifts. We even had to wrap the ones we kept for ourselves so she could gift her Daddy with them.

From this...


To this!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Safer Cleaning, Cleaner Living


I admit that despite having children and all the information about green living out there, we still have a sink cabinet full of Mr. Clean, 409 and Lysol. But the other day I was wiping the kitchen counter with 409 while holding my breath and shooed Sabrina out so she wouldn't inhale the fumes. Hello? Something is not right here, I thought, and it doesn't take a Mom of the Year to figure out what.

So I've been looking into replacing all our cleaning products with safer ones and even thinking about taking it a step further to use household staples like vinegar and baking power to clean. I've found some great resources on the subject, and especially like The 5 Easy Steps, a program of the Healthy Child, Healthy World organization. Check out the website. It's frightening, but also inspiring and got me right into action. 5 Easy Steps recommends using these simple and safe ingredients to clean:

  1. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate:
    • neutralizes acid
    • deodorizes
    • extinguishes grease fires
    • cleans and polishes aluminum, chrome, jewelry, plastic, porcelain, silver, stainless steel and tin
    • softens fabrics
    • removes certain stains
    • effective as underarm deodorant and toothpaste.
  2. Lemon juice:
    • cleans glass
    • removes stains from aluminum, clothes and porcelain
    • lightens/ bleaches if used with sunlight.
  3. Washing soda (SAL soda, sodium carbonate decahydrate):
    • cuts stubborn grease on grills, broiler pans and ovens.
  4. Vinegar:
    • dissolves mineral deposits
    • removes grease, traces of soap or wax buildup
    • polishes some metals
    • deodorizes
  5. Borax:
    • deodorizes
    • inhibits mold growth
    • boosts the cleaning power of soap or detergent
    • removes stains
    • kills cockroaches when used with an attractant such as sugar

The program's information on plastics had me turning over every piece of plastic in my house to see what type it was. My husband and I love a good weeding of stuff, and I can feel another session coming... but this time we'll be going at it with less of an eye for being organized and following our aesthetic and more for keeping our family safe.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Swedish Stripes Addiction


Time to stock up on cozies, including some new sets of Hanna Andersson long johns. I used to buy all kinds of cute PJs from every kid clothes store at the mall. But after trying the classic green and red set I bought last Christmas more for the photo opp than anything else, Sabrina has refused all other sleepwear. I can't blame her. These are the softest, cutest, comfiest, most wearable and durable pyjamas out there. Never mind that they cost what a whole kid outfit should... Buy them a size bigger and they'll still look great a year from now. They also double as loungewear on lazy mornings and bring a new level of cool to hanging out in your PJs. You can see glimpses of Sabrina's stripes here and here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Mood Changers

Happy Girl by LaMaga


I just discovered Write, Mama, Write and have found so much inspiration there. I've spent all evening browsing through the great pictures, links and ideas this fellow mom shares. A favorite post is this list titled "Mood Changers for Toddler Days." It's a great list to have around for those blah times when nothing you do seems to be making for a good + happy day and everyone is just getting crankier and naughtier and more out of control. My favorites: #3 Draw a big bubble bath at an unexpected time of the day. #10 Use chalk to draw a huge train track or road system all around your house, leading to your front door and #40 Decorate the dinner table together to make an ordinary meal special.

I love lists and want to take some time soon to make our own list of activities guaranteed to lift our spirits. Here are a few that already come to mind:

*We play Simon Says but without the "trick" part. I can get Sabrina to do all kinds of goofy things!
*We make faces: happy, sad, surprised, angry, silly, laughing... and take a picture of each, then put together a slide show on the computer or print photos to make a "Faces and Feelings" book.
*I draw things on Sabrina's back and ask her to guess what they are... she usually can't but it feels nice and is relaxing!
*We pick a color and go on a treasure hunt around the house finding things in that color.

What are your favorite mood changers?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Funbooks

I am not a huge fan of coloring or workbooks, but they do seem to appeal to children. Luckily there are some beautifully designed ones out there to please us both!

I love Doodles and Scribbles by Taro Gomi, acclaimed author of Everyone Poops. These are so much more than coloring books and really encourage one's imagination to take off.

Kumon's workbooks are without a doubt the best as far as design and quality. I love the philosophy and skills the books develop and the fact that the beginner sets really encourage parent/child interaction.

These coloring books from rock scissors paper are sophisticated enough for me to want to pull out the crayons.

I like the unusual subject matter of these coloring books available at Budget Art Kids.

Many museum shops carry the Modern Patterns series by Mindware.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Preparing for Solids

Little CC has been staring at us longingly and smacking her lips when she sees us eating for a good month now, so we're gearing up to start her on solids. I am so excited for her! She's about to enter a whole new world of pleasures. We've managed to raise one very adventurous eater already, and I have high hopes that CC will be like her sister, eating broccoli and drumsticks like a pro and happy to try everything from olives to pate to mussels.

So in the next weeks I'll be figuring out menu plans to get CC from boring rice cereal to the more exciting sweet potatoes and apple sauce and eventually to ground chicken and beef. Feeding schedules and how to get to three meals a day is another one of those things I seem to have completely forgotten about, so it will be a little bit of a relearning. For now, I'll focus on the easy part... getting stuff. On my list: bibs, bowls, spoons... none of Sabrina's have survived so I have the pleasure of putting together a new collection of baby table and dishware.

I am always, always partial to dots and stripes.
Love these bunnies from tadpole creations.


Colby Lane Designs has the most unique and adorable patterns.


I love this classic Marimekko bib, a gift from my sister.


Quilt baby makes beautiful bibs featuring modern prints.


These spoons and bowl from Nova Naturals will make me feel like I'm feeding a little forest fairy.