OBSERVATIONS · pretend play · slice of life

The Reason I Decided to “Clean Up” My Daughter’s Playroom

I’m not big on cleaning up for Isabelle. I prefer to clean up with her, which is what I do 90% of the time. 10% 9.9% of the time it needs to get done for a reason, like someone coming over to work in her play room, and that’s when I do it myself. Tonight was the 0.1% of the time that I did it for another reason.

20131212-222154.jpgI walked into Isabelle’s play room and there were Little People scattered everywhere! (ICYMI: Click here to read the post I wrote on Monday about why we have all of these Little People* since Fisher Price isn’t exactly on my list of favorite toy companies these days.  Click here and here for two — of many — reasons why.)  The auction I won on Tuesday (on eBay) express shipped (For no extra charge, I might add!) the Little People to me.  They arrived today.  Isabelle was BEYOND elated.  However, there are Little People EVERYWHERE now.  In fact, not all of them are even pictured in the picture on the left!  There are two sitting outside her bedroom door and three more inside of a Little People School Bus.  (And I’m sure there are a few that are hidden under a couch cushion or something!)

Listen — she enjoys playing with them. Today, during speech, her speech therapist brought her an early birthday gift (the playground set pictured on the right). She LOVED it. There were so many great language moves she was able to work on with her during our session using the Little People as the “characters.” After she left, Isabelle continued to play with them, repeating some of the same phrases she learned in the session.  (For instance, she approximated, “Excuse me. May I have a turn please?” when one character wanted to go down the slide or swing on the swing. She had the other character answer “Sure!”)  However, they were everywhere.

So instead of going to bed at 10:00 p.m., like I do every night, I tiptoed into her play room to tackle the mess of Little People that I had been stepping over all day.  I rearranged the Little People and made a Little People City.  (Pathetic, I know!)  Part of me did it because I just wanted to go to bed in a tidier house.  But, truth be told, I thought she might like to wake up to a new arrangement of the Little People.  Usually she has all of their things scattered throughout her play room.  Seeing as her play is her work, I try not to interfere.  However, I couldn’t resist just this one time.

She’ll either love it or hate it in the morning.  The clock is counting down ’til 7:00 a.m.  I’ll know in 8.5 hours, won’t I?  And by 7:15 a.m., I will either be beaming with delight or wishing I had gone to bed at 10 p.m., like I normally do.


* = I successfully snuck out of all of Lynn’s stuff and gave it back to her in a box today!

OBSERVATIONS · pretend play · slice of life

ISO Fisher Price Little People from the 1990’s

My husband appeared at my office door a little after 9 p.m.  He looked in and paused.  He must’ve been waiting to see if I was writing, which is what I’m usually doing at nine o’clock at night.  But I wasn’t working on my writing.

“You don’t want to know what I’m doing!” I said.

He walked into my office and glanced at the computer screen, which didn’t have a Word document open.  He looked puzzled as he stared at the screen.

“That’s right, I’m shopping for Little People!” I said disdainfully.

He laughed, walked around my desk, set some envelopes down on my desk, grabbed our return address stamp and glanced at the screen before he began stamping.


“Yep, I’m shopping for Little People furniture, to be exact.”

“Why?” he said, as he pressed down the stamper to the first envelope.

“Because Lynn’s taking them with her when she finishes.”

Isabelle lined up her Little People (not sure where they’re going) this evening. She said, “Ni, ni, ittle pee-po,” when I took her upstairs for the night. How adorable is that?!!?

BACK “STORY”: Lynn is my daughter’s EI speech therapist who has been coming to the house since she’s 15 months old. She often brings toys that she incorporates into our therapy sessions.  Isabelle turns three soon, which means EI comes to an end. Therefore, I need to give all of Lynn’s toys back to her.  The only things that still remain in our house are the Little People since Isabelle has LOVED playing with them.  Knowing that Lynn was going to be leaving, I’ve been bidding on Little People from the 1990’s, which are the ones Isabelle likes, on eBay.  And it’s not easy, I might add.  Believe it or not, there is a huge market for Little People.  The vintage ones, which are from my days as a kid, are a choking hazard, so I have to be sure not to buy those.  She isn’t all that into the look and feel of the present-day ones.  Therefore, I am on a search for the Little People of the ’90’s that are used, but still in good condition.  I know.  It’s crazy that I’m sacrificing writing time for this.

“She’s going to go nuts when she takes those Little People out of here,” Marc said.

“No, she won’t.  I’ve been clandestinely sending her home with them every week.  I put them in bags and hand them to her when Isabelle isn’t looking.”

He looked at me quizzically.

“Though I accidentally gave Lynn the wrong baby and high chair,” I admitted.

“What?” he asked.

Ashamed to admit it, I told the truth, “I ordered a new Little People baby and high chair and I accidentally gave Lynn the new one instead of the old one, which belonged to her.”  (Trust me, I’m much more careful with my own child than with the Little People figurines!)

He chuckled at me.  “What are you buying now?”

“I need more furniture and figurines.  But it’s hard, ya know.  The furniture here is all vintage.  And I just lost an auction for figurines.”

“You probably bid too low,” he told me.  (Since when is my husband an expert in Little People auctions!)

I went into my account and showed him that I lost the auction by three bucks.

“Yeah, I guess that was too low.”

“Thanks honey,” I said.

“What can I do?” he asked.

“Milk please.”

My husband went off to the kitchen to get me a glass of milk.

“I should write about this!” I called after him.

“Go ahead!”

* * * * *

And here I am… I took a break from my Little People bidding to write this slice of life about the Little People.  Granted, I could just let them disappear from our lives, but Isabelle LOVES playing with them.  While they’re not my toy of choice for her, I love the way she’s developed play scenarios with them.  This afternoon she was very quiet while I was making her lunch.  I looked into her play room and saw that she had set up multiple tables for the Little People to sit at and was pretending to feed them lunch.  As I was preparing for dinner, I overheard her having the Little People have conversations with each other.  I have no idea what they were saying, but she was engaged and enjoying herself.

So, back to eBay I go!

I bought the dollhouse on eBay for her a few weeks ago. She LOVES it. The bus is Lynn’s, but I found one just like it on eBay. (Seriously.)
food · OBSERVATIONS · pretend play · slice of life

14-Hour Tomato Sauce

Some, not all, of the San Marzano tomatoes are pictured with the apron (once I threw it in).

9:00 a.m. I donned my apron while I glanced at the box of tomatoes and said, “let’s do this.” I removed two large pots and several bowls from the cabinet. I set out the cutting board and the knives. Everything was in place. Time to check on Isabelle before I begin.

I approached her play room where I saw her playing restaurant with her Little People. I was about to walk away when she looked up at me. She began to cry.

“What’s wrong?” I asked her.

“Pie (play),” she said through her tears.

“No honey, I’m going to make sauce now. You keep playing with your Little People.”

“No, pie!” she stated as she tugged on my apron.

“I’ll come and play with you after I start the sauce. Or you could come and help me.”

“Mama, sit!” she paused. “Pie!”

I inhaled. The sauce can wait. I can start in an hour once she gets bored of me. It’s raining outside. She’ll get bored of me soon. One day she’ll be 15 years-old and she won’t want me to sit down and play with her.

“Let me put my apron away,” I said as I untied it.

“Soon, Mama. Pie, Mommy,” she said watching me lift the apron over my head and walk towards the kitchen.

“Yes, Izzy. I’ll be right back and we’ll

11:00 a.m. Tractors, cars, boats. Little People. Mega Blocks. More books than I can count. A mini fort on the couch. We were going strong. The tomatoes remain on the counter — untouched by me. My husband was still at work. He’d be done soon.

“Do you want to go out for brunch with Daddy?” I asked.

“No!” she shouted. “Pie!”

Why did I ask if there was no choice? I’m falling down on the job! Hey, she doesn’t even know what brunch is.

When am I going to get to those tomatoes?

2:30 p.m. We returned from a lovely brunch. Marc got Isabelle out of her dress and ready for her nap while I changed into my cooking clothes (ratty t-shirt and old workout pants). I was going to make the shopping list for him to take to Wegman’s and then start the sauce.

3:45 p.m. Begin cutting x-es in the bottom of the tomatoes so the skins would peel off easily.

“This is a thankless job,” I declared to Marc as he got ready to go to the supermarket.

“You don’t have to do it,” he said.

“I’ve bought 15 lbs. of tomatoes. I’ve gotta do it!”

“I can buy sauce at the store,” he said.

“Then these will go to waste,” I reminded him.

* * * * *

I tired of cutting the x-es and decided to begin the blanching process only to find we barely had any ice. Marc turned on the ice maker, but it didn’t produce ice fast enough.

“I’ll buy some at the store,” he said.

“I’ll start with this and will ask Lori for more if I need more before you come back.”

* * * * *

I sent Lori a text. I needed more ice. She gave me enough to do half of the tomatoes since she, too, was making sauce.

6:30 p.m. Marc returned from Wegman’s with a bag of ice. I immediately got back to work blanching the other half of the tomatoes.

Of course, Isabelle wanted to play, again. This time with Mommy. Somehow I convinced her to watch me blanch the tomatoes kneeling on a chair on the kitchen. She helped me measure the salt and sugar and dump them both into the pot.

Marc helped me crush the blanched, cored, and seeded tomatoes, I put everything into the stock pot by 7:15 p.m.

8:30 p.m. The sauce needed to thicken more, as Lori said it might. Therefore, I kept it simmering on the stove for another 45 minutes.

9:30 p.m. I removed the pot from the stove and put it on the front stoop to cool since I wanted to go to bed by 10:00 p.m. Even though Lori told me to leave the lid off, I kept it cracked since I didn’t want any bugs flying in.

“Go out there and stir it every ten minutes or so,” she told me. “Otherwise, you’ll get a lot of condensation.”

9:40 p.m. I took a spoon outside and stirred. As I shut the door to head back inside, I heard liquid drip onto our front carpet. I put my hand underneath the spoon so nothing else would drip. That’s when I felt the sauce drip on to my skin. “OW!” I declared.

I quickened my pace and raced to the kitchen as the sauce dripped onto my hand, which I didn’t think to protect with an oven mitt.

“Ow! Ow! Ow!” I hustled around the island and then threw the spoon into the sink and flicked the sauce from my hand causing it to splatter who knows where. “OUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCH!” I yelped. (Some other choice words were probably said.)

I ran to the sink, turned on the cold water, and put it on full-force. My husband must’ve heard me scream from upstairs because I heard his footsteps pound down the steps as the water ran over my pink palm.  Note to self: Always put something under a spoon after it’s been in hot liquid!

When he arrived I recounted what happened.

“Would you bring the pot inside?”I finally asked. “I’ll wait up ’til it’s cool.”

“What time will that be ’til?” he asked.

“Probably 11. All I want to do is sit on the couch and do nothing.”

I proceeded to lay down on the couch with a ice pack on my hand and watch “The Newsroom” live. (I never do that since I’m always in bed. It was a treat to watch it live, if you don’t count the searing pain on my hand!)


11:00 p.m. I was spooning the sauce into a container I realized the purple basil chiffonade shouldn’t be seen. I forgot to use the immersion blender. Great. I’m never going to get to bed.

I removed it from the drawer, put it together, and stood back for fear it would splatter on me and do more harm. It blended quickly leaving purple confetti-like bits in its wake. I spooned it into a container for the week and into bags for the freezer. I threw the pot in the sink and went upstairs for the night — at 11:15 p.m.


11:20 p.m. I applied Vitamin E oil to my hand and went to sleep.

This morning, I woke up with less pain in my hand. While it doesn’t feel 100% normal to the touch, it doesn’t quake when water touches it. Further, the pinkness faded overnight. Oh, the power of Vitamin E oil!

Finally, even though it took me 14+ hours to finish the sauce that should’ve taken 2 – 3 hours to make (at most), I don’t, for a second, regret spending the morning playing with Isabelle.  After all, one day she’ll be 15 years-old.  And not only will she not want me to play with her, but she might not even want to help me make tomato sauce.

dress-up · OBSERVATIONS · picture books · pretend play

Giving Her Wings

20130621-151305.jpgSo the fear of things that buzz and fly is still going on. It’s been reduced since the first time I blogged about it in May, but it’s still present. I think the fear of bees is real. (For instance, we went strawberry picking earlier and she froze in the field when one buzzed around her. I dropped my basket, held her close for a moment, reassured her, and we moved on.) I’m not so sure the butterfly fear is real. Well, maybe it’s real, but I just don’t understand it because it seems irrational to me since butterflies cannot sting or bite. (Sigh!)

I asked Isabelle if she wanted to visit Hershey Gardens this past week. She said “yes.” When I asked her if she wanted to go into the Butterfly House, she said, “no.” I asked her if she was sure. She was. We didn’t go.

Therefore, I went to the next step of trying to work through this butterfly fear since this is more than literature and simple observations of butterflies can handle. I bought her wings. That’s right. Butterfly wings. With glitter. (A little piece of me felt like it was dying when I saw the glitter on the wings. It felt a little princess-ey to me. Considering Isabelle still doesn’t know who the Disney Princesses are, that kinda made me shudder.)

I strapped the butterfly wings on to her back last night and read her select poems from Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More: Poems for Two Voices by Carole Gerber and Bruce Yelchin. She was content to sit with the wings on for a few minutes, but didn’t want to fly around the house.

This morning, we tried the wings again, talking about butterflies. She enjoyed flitting around the house in them for about 15 minutes.

Perhaps a few more days of wing wearing and she’ll be ready to tackle the Butterfly House again.

podcast · pretend play · slice of life

My Daughter Meets a Cabbage Patch Kid.

There’s a new mommy in town for Ike Phil!


podcast · pretend play · slice of life

The Kitchen Within the Kitchen

My daughter often pretends to cook in her little kitchen while I make meals our family kitchen. Here’s a glimpse into one of our meal preparations.

Stirring the pumpkin carrot soup (one sock on and one sock off). BTW: Check out what’s left in the oven. Interesting!

picture books · pretend play · slice of life

Teddy Bear Story Time and Tea Time

Isabelle makes tea for Schlepp (left) and Allie (right).
Making the tea for Schlepp (left) and Allie (right).

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved bears.  My Dad sang “Teddy Bears Picnic” to me throughout my childhood.  To this day, if you give me a nonfiction text about bears and I devour it.  Show me a fiction book with bears as characters and I’ll most likely love it.  Tell me a story about bears and I’m all ears.  (Though I wasn’t so excited when I heard that the neighborhood bear showed up on my next-door neighbor’s patio this past summer, but that’s another story.)

I feel like I’m coming down with the flu (I got my flu shot in November, but apparently that doesn’t matter!) that seems to be going around our country.  However, my husband had to go into work for a couple hours this morning, therefore I had to take care of Isabelle.  Thankfully, she slept ’til 8:00 a.m.  However, I still had to get her dressed, feed her breakfast, and entertain her despite the way I felt.

After breakfast we settled into her play room.  After we played with three of her balls and her blocks, we turned our attention to her books.  I pulled out Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea since I think the story is incredibly cute. The stubbornness of both the little cub and the old bear remind me of the way a toddler and a grandparent often act.  I needed a chuckle and she needed a story.  Therefore the book worked for both of us.  Once I was finished reading Old Bear and His Cub aloud she wanted another book.  I needed to find a book that comforted me since I felt sick.  Therefore, I reached for another bear book I bought right before Isabelle was born.  When You Meet a Bear on Broadway by Amy Hest was the book I choose to read aloud next.  Isabelle beside me, looking at the pictures while I read aloud (but also playing with her blocks).  When I finished When You Meet a Bear on Broadway I got an idea: a tea part with her bears and her bear books!

Achy and tired, I questioned myself.  Did I really have the energy to pull this thing off?  Yes.  Yes, I did.  I could do it.  I announced my idea to Isabelle.  “Would you like to have a tea party with Allie and Schlepp?”

“(Ye)sss!” she replied with a big smile.

“Can we read teddy bear books too?” I asked.


“Okay, Mommy’s going to go upstairs and get ready. You stay here and play,” I told her.

I went over to her play kitchen and gathered up tea cups, the tea pot, and play food.  Next I walked around the house to all of the places where she has books and found every bear book I could find.  I put everything together and carried it up to her bedroom where her two favorite bears hang out.  I removed them from her crib and put them on the floor.  I set out all of the books, her bears, and the tea party supplies.  Then, I went back downtstairs and retrieved Isabelle.

“Ready!  Allie and Schlepp are waiting to start our tea party.  They have lots of bear books to read with you.  And, they said they’re ready for some snacks. Are you ready to go upstairs?”

“(Ye)sss!” she said, nodding her whole body enthusiastically.

We walked upstairs, hand-in-hand, and headed into her bedroom for our tea party with the teddy bears.

Once we got into her bedroom, she went right to the play food.  Therefore, I put on my best bear voices and pulled the bears closer to me.

“I’d like some tea please,” said Allie.  Isabelle poured some tea into the cup and served her.

“Me too!” said Schlepp.  She gave him a cup too.

This continued with the food too.

Finally, after everyone had some play food and faux tea, we delved into the books.  We read Bizzy Bear: Fun on the Farm by Benji Davies and Bears in Beds by Shirley Parenteau. While Isabelle was sitting in my lap reading Bears on Chairs, also by Parenteau, my husband came home (to save me and my sick self!).  He joined us for the end of the story and for some tea and faux blueberries.  After about two minutes of his presence, Isabelle decided she was done with the tea party.

I’d say we partied with the bears for 15 minutes.  I’d say that’s pretty successful for pretend play with a two year-old.  I’m hoping to feel better by tomorrow, but chances are I won’t.  😦  Therefore, another teddy bear story time and tea time might be in the cards.