Monday, January 30, 2012

Adorable Giraffe Cupcakes

This past weekend was Kennedy's first birthday.  Kennedy is the daughter of my best friend Melissa, and I wrote about her here when she was first born.  Okay first of all, how the hell has it been a year already?!  Second of all...well there really isn't a second of all, just why does time go by so fast lately?  Anyway, I had promised Melissa a while ago, that I would make Kennedy's birthday cake.  I've made all my girls' birthday cakes using Wilton cake pans and made them character cakes, like Tinkerbell, Elmo, Mickey, Minnie or Spider Man.  They're time consuming, but I really like doing it.  It's fun to see the end result of all the work you just did and I've always loved baking anyway.  It's my inner Martha Stewart.  So at one point I promised I would make Kennedy's cake using the same type of Wilton cake pans.  Partially, because I love doing it and Melissa is my best friend, but mostly because she doesn't really have an inner Martha Stewart.  I  didn't want Kennedy to have a store bought cake for her first birthday!  The HORROR!  The question was, what kind of cake did she want?

Melissa's favorite animal is a giraffe, so as of right now, Kennedy has a bunch of giraffe toys, clothes, bedding, towels, etc in her life.  So the obvious choice for the cake was a giraffe, but the pan that Wilton has for a giraffe wasn't really what Melissa wanted.  She had decided on a little jungle animal theme for Kennedy's party and I found a pan that Wilton made of a monkey and he was super cute, so she decided to go with that instead.  He did, indeed, turn out super cute:

I made a vanilla cake, and the icing was mostly chocolate.  He wasn't too difficult to decorate either.  Other cakes I've done have been more of a project (I'm looking at YOU Spider Man!)  

I decided earlier in the week, that I was going to make some cupcakes to go along with Mr. Monkey and I really wanted to satisfy Melissa's love for giraffes by turning the cupcakes into little giraffes.  I researched giraffe cupcakes on line and found a bunch, but none that I was crazy about.  Half of them were made using Fondant (yuck-no offense to anyone who likes it, but yuck) and the other half I just didn't think were that cute.  So I decided to tap into that part of my creative genes I got from my mom.  She teaches first grade and always has a creative solution to an idea like this.  I wanted to try and figure it out for myself first, before I decided if I needed help.

I took a trip to Target and found a few things I thought would work to form the giraffe's features and here is what I ended up with:


Yes he IS totally adorable!! Thank you!  For those of you who would like to try and make these guys, here are my step by step instructions.  

What you need:

tootsie rolls
banana chips
Wilton eyes
butter cream frosting
chocolate frosting
Golden Yellow Wilton color
Black Wilton color
Wilton icing bags
tip #3
chocolate chips and a black gel icing pen

First you need to make cupcake, of course, chocolate or vanilla, whichever you prefer.  I made chocolate since the cake was already vanilla.  Then I made some butter cream frosting, using butter and powdered sugar.  No, I do NOT use shortening.  That just makes it gross.  I also do not do store bought icing, but if you're short on time, I won't fault you for it.  Then I colored the icing using Wilton coloring, Golden Yellow.  I frosted all the cupcakes for the base of the giraffe.  

Next I cut the end 1/4 off the tootsie roll and then cut the larger part of the tootsie roll in half.  The two halves I molded with my fingers into the antenna for the giraffe:

The little eyes I found in Target in the baking section.  Wilton makes them and you can use them for any kind of face cupcake you're making.  They're candy, so they're edible.  After I placed the eyes where I wanted, I took the leftover piece of tootsie roll and flattened it out for the mouth area.  In earlier versions of the cupcake I used chocolate icing for the mouth area, but I found this looked cleaner.

Next, I stuck the banana chips on the sides for the ears.  I tried to find some that were on the smaller side, but the ones with larger chips (ears) came out looking really cute too.  It was fun because they were all different.

I had made chocolate icing to decorate the monkey cake, so I dyed some of that black to make the mouth and the nostrils, using Wilton tip #3.  However, if you don't have chocolate frosting, one of those black gel icing pens you can find in the baking section of the grocery store would work.  

The last thing I did was put on his spots.  I used chocolate icing for this as well (with Wilton tip #3) but, I also did an alternative.  Again, this way you don't technically need to make or buy chocolate icing.  I used chocolate chips instead of the icing.  Upon a second look, mini chocolate chips might work better.  As far as these two go,  I will say that I think the ones with the non-uniform icing spots looked a little better than the chocolate chips, but that's just me.  

chocolate chips

Here a few of them together.  You can see how they transformed as I got better ideas:

And here is how I like to roll while creating; wine and my soaps on the computer.  Do I know how to multitask or what?  

Yes, this is something I have to do well after the girls are in bed.  If I tried to do it during the day, they would have wanted to help and who knows what I would have ended up with.  Anyway-I wanted to share the way I  made the giraffe cupcakes in case anyone else out there in baking land is looking for some cuter/easier ideas than what is currently posted.  I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with these all on my own.  I knew I could follow directions to make something creative, like the cake, but who knew I could come up with something so cute all by myself!  Thanks mom for that Martha Stewart gene!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I don't know if I've ever mentioned on here before, but Lana is very into dressing girlie.  If I ever want her to wear any type of pants I have to bribe her. Usually in the form of chocolate or a trip to Disneyland.  She loves any kind of skirt or dress and bonus points if it's pink or sparkly.  So it was no surprise when she insisted she needed ANOTHER pair of sparkly shoes when we were in Payless yesterday.  Then she proceeded to have a major tantrum when I denied her those shoes, which by the way, looked almost exactly like the ONES SHE ALREADY HAD ON.

Tuesday mornings are "Lana and Mommy Day".  The other two are in school, so some Tuesdays I try to get  errands done in the morning before I pick up Georgia from school at noon.  It's usually easier to do running around with only one of them, except when they decide to flip out for some reason.  It had been a while for Lana since she had such a public display of badness, so it kind of caught me off guard.  We went to Payless because I had to get her and Georgia ballet slippers for the dance class they have been taking.  I was looking at ballet slippers when Lana wandered down the aisle and came across some shoes she apparently had to have.  They were princess pink and sparkly. She walked over to me with shoes in hand. 

"Mom, can I get dees, pleeeeaasee?" She asked me hopefully. "Day fit me!"

She had already taken the liberty of trying them on, which looking back now, was smart on her part.  I looked at the shoes in the box and I looked at the pink sparkly princess shoes she already had on her feet.  Then I said,

"Lana, they are just like the ones you have on.  You're not getting them."

"NO THEY'RE NOT!"  She insisted.  "See deese ones have jewels on dem," she said pointing to the toe of the shoe.  

She was right, they did indeed have jewels where her own did not, but I was not about to buy ANOTHER pair of pink sparkly shoes because of a couple pieces of jewel shaped plastic.  Not to mention the fact that she has a pair of silver sparkly shoes, which I bought for her at the beginning of the school year, and a pair of pink sparkly TOMS my friend Sooz gave her for Christmas.  (Sooz works for TOMS so all the girls got pink sparkly TOMS shoes.  They are so cute.  Thanks Sooz!).  So that makes THREE pairs of sparkly shoes,  two of them already being pink.  I was drawing the line.

"Lana," I said calmly, "you are not getting those shoes today."

She could tell this was one of those times I wasn't going to change my mind, so she started the whining, whimpering, and eventually, sobbing.  


Oh well, if you WANT them then....

"No, Lana.  Not today," I said again.  I tried to redirect her to some Hello Kitty socks that I was looking at for her.  She needed new socks, so I thought perhaps at least if she was getting something else she would be happy, but no.  They were not the shoes she wanted, so the tantrum continued.  

 The good thing was there was only one other person in the store and the clerk, so at least she wasn't making a spectacle in front of a ton of people.  Still, it's embarrassing in front of anyone.  She lied on the floor and sobbed about how she NEEDED the shoes.  How much she LOVED the shoes. How much she HAD TO HAVE THE SHOES!  I tried ignoring her at first, but I should know better because that never works with her.  So I finally got down on the floor next to her and spoke calmly.  

"Lana, I am not buying the shoes for you today," I started.  "I don't have enough money to get you the ballet slippers and the shoes."  I figured if I put it on me and take it off the fact that she doesn't NEED another pair of sparkly shoes, she would be more willing to accept it.  "Now, if you don't stop crying, I'm not going to buy you the ballet slippers or Hello Kitty socks either.   I need you to take a couple deep breaths and count to ten."

This is something I've been doing with her for a couple months now.  When she gets out of control with one of her tantrums, I work with her on focusing on her breathing and counting to ten to calm herself down.  I would say 80% of the time this works.  Luckily, this was one of those times.  She stood up, wiped her eyes and took two deep breaths.  Then she counted to ten.  Once she calmed down she said,

"Can I pick out some socks?"

"Of course," I answered.  "And good calming down Lana."

Then she looked at me and said, "When you get some more money, can we come back and get the shoes?"

That kid does not let things go.  

"We'll see," I said, trying to avoid another break down.

Once we were safely in the car, and out of earshot for anyone to hear another tantrum, I talked to her about her behavior in the store.  I told her I didn't like the tantrum she had, especially in front of other people, but I was proud of her for calming down.  She apologized and promised not to do it again, (yeah right!)  Then I explained  how she already had three pairs of sparkly shoes, and perhaps when she outgrew those three pairs, THEN we could come back and get her the ones in the store.  She understood, and because she was in a less emotional and more logical place at that point, agreed with me.  

I'd like to think she's going to forget all about this, but again, that child will not let something like this fall through the cracks.  So, who wants to bet that in six months, when all of those shoes she has now don't fit her feet anymore, I'm going to be begged to go back to Payless for those beloved, bejeweled, pink, sparkly princess shoes.  I mean, after all, they ARE different!

Monday, January 23, 2012

All She Wants For Christmas...

 I guess we're to late for that song, but look who lost ANOTHER tooth.  That makes six so far.  Losing those top two has made her look like such a grown up kid.  I know she's only going to look even older when those top permanent teeth make their awkward appearance.  They always look so big!  How the hell did she get to be at this stage of childhood already?  I swear it was just yesterday when I was squishing her with a swaddle and shushing in her ear, just to get her to stop screaming for five minutes.  I think I do enjoy this stage better though, despite all the eye rolling.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Unexplained Food Mysteries

Last night during dinner, Georgia dropped one of her tomatoes on the ground by accident.  When it happened she looked over at me not sure what to do and I said,

"Go on, get down and pick it up."

She climbed out of her booster seat, disappeared underneath the table for 30 seconds, then climbed back up into her seat.  After settling herself, she looked around her plate and said,

"Weaw my tomato go?"

"Isn't it on your place mat?" I asked.

She looked around, picked up her napkin.  Nothing.  We looked under her chair, I made her stand up at her seat, to look under her.  Still nothing.  

"Georgia, where did it go?  Did you eat it?"  I asked.

"NO!" She insisted, and I believed her.  Then she shrugged her shoulders and said to me,

"It must have wawked away."

"It did not walk away," I told her.  "What did you do with it?" I still wasn't positive that she didn't have it hidden somewhere.  Although that didn't make much sense, because she loves tomatoes and wanted one to replace the missing one.  

Then she said again, "It must have just wawked away!"

"Fine, Georgia, it walked away.  Finish your food," I told her.  

I let it go figuring I'd find it when I cleaned up later.  Turns out I didn't.  I honestly have no idea what the hell happened to it.  Now all I have is a picture in my head of a cherry tomato, with little feet, hightailing for my back door.  So maybe she was right and it did just "wawk" away.  Or maybe I will find a decomposed cherry tomato underneath my washing machine years from now.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Leaving the Last Bits of Babyhood

So yesterday my heart broke.  It happened.  I mentioned in this blog post that I would have a hard time when this happened and I did.  

Georgia and I were playing a game yesterday.  Her sisters were both at school and I don't usually give her a nap anymore, unless I really feel she needs it.  Or I need her to stay up late for some reason.  Otherwise, giving her a nap only means getting her to bed is next to impossible.  I decided to spend a little quality time with her, since it was just the two of us and she wanted to play this game called S'match.  It's similar to other matching games, but you have to match either color, number or category.  It was her turn and she was trying to match colors.  She turned one card over and it was green.  The other one was orange.  Orange is her favorite color, but she has always called it "orangin", adding the extra "n" on the end.  So I said to her,

"Do those match?"

"No," she correctly replied.

"Right, because what color is this?" I asked.

"Green," she said.

"Yup, and how 'bout this one?" I asked.

"Orange!" She CORRECTLY said.

"What?" I asked, not sure if I heard her right.

"Orange," she said a little more unsure this time.  She didn't understand why I was questioning her.  She knew the color was right.

I looked at her sadly.  Here it is was, the day the baby talk starts to completely go.  

"Mommy, what?!" she asked, looking at my sad face.

"Not orangin?" I asked.

"Yeah orangin, orangin!" She said trying to make me happy.

"No, it's okay G.  Orange is the right way to say it," I told her, but in my head I was saying, 


So sad.  Do they HAVE to grow up this fast?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dealing With Sadness In Her Own Way

Remember how I said Lana didn’t seem to care at all about when we put Jazz to sleep?  Well, I may have been wrong about that.  She seems to just be dealing with it differently than those of us who cried it out that day.  Her coping mechanism was to become attached to something else altogether.  A Christmas decoration, no less.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Years ago, CVS starting selling little stuffed animals from the animated Rudolph special that comes on CBS every year.  It has always been my favorite Christmas special. My best friend, Melissa who also loves Rudolph,  and I were so excited when they started selling those dolls.  We bought as many of them as we could.  At one point we lived together and had quite the menagerie at Christmas.  I have all the main characters from Rudolph, with maybe the exception of Clarice, Rudolph’s girlfriend.  I even have some Frosty the Snowman ones, which CVS also sold for a few years.  I don't think they have them anymore, but I know you can find the toys on ebay sometimes. 

Every year I put them out as part of our Christmas decorations.  Before I had the girls and when they were just babies, the toys were  there only to look at.  However, once they got to an age of knowing what they were, I couldn't keep them away from playing with them.  Good thing I'm not one of those crazy collectors who don't wan you to even breathe on their toys.  I didn't care if the girls played with them.  After all if you you've watched any of the Toy Story movies, those guys were dying to be played with.  However, in the past, the girls have always been fine with them leaving when it was time to put the decorations away.   
We put up most of Christmas decorations the weekend of Thanksgiving, before we put Jazzy to sleep.  The girls were playing with Rudolph and friends throughout the week, but I would always put the toys back where they belonged every night.  The next weekend was the sad one where Jazz left us.  I didn’t realize it at that point, but Lana started to hang on to Rudolph a little more.  
Soon he was going everywhere with us; the grocery store, gymnastics, Target, play dates, in the car before school, and Heaven forbid he wasn’t there waiting for her when she got out of school.  (She had a huge tantrum when I forgot one day). Every time we left the house, she asked if she could take him. Most of the time he got to just come along for the ride.  She slept with him and carried him all over the house.  If there was a moment she couldn’t find him, she would break down into sobs.  And I mean sobs.  Usually when Lana can’t find something, she just gets, angry, whiny and ornery, but this was different.  She cried like she lost her best friend and he was never coming back.  My heart broke for her every time.  
It all came to a head the week after Christmas. Andy and I were still in bed one morning and the girls were up and playing.  Side note: can I just say how awesome it is to have more self sufficient kids who will entertain themselves on a weekend morning?  Andy and I can BOTH sleep past 7am most weekends.   Something for you parents of babies to look forward to one day.  I swear you won’t be up at 6am forever.  Anyway-we were still in bed one morning and she came in and said to me,
“Mommy? Can you call Rudolph and Clarice, so they can come visit me?”
Huh??  Wait, what was she saying?  What was she talking about? I opened one eye and questioned her and she said it again,
“I want you to call Rudolph and Clarice so they can come here!”
Still half asleep, I couldn’t really figure out if she was playing a game or what, so I just said, 
“Lana, let’s talk about this when I get up in a bit, okay?”
“FINE!” She said begrudgingly and stalked out the room.
Fast forward a few hours later. She came to me again insisting I call Rudolph.  What she meant was she really wanted me to call Rudolph on the phone so he could come to our house and play.  A Reindeer play date!  Why not, right?  

Ummmmm....Oookkkaayyy...except that, you know, he doesn’t really exist, so that might be kinda difficult to get him to our house.  Well, I couldn’t very well tell her that so I tried,
“Lana, he can’t come here.  He lives in the North Pole with Santa, and he only comes to our house once a year.”
“Call him though!  Can’t you call him?” She questioned.
“Well, I.... don’t have his phone number,” I quickly said. “I can’t call him.”
Now she was getting frustrated, “OOOOOHHHH!!  PLEEEEEAASSEE!!”
“Lana, I can’t.  Rudolph doesn’t just go to anybody’s house at anytime.  It doesn’t work that way,” I said.  
She would not accept it, “But mommy!  I want RUUUDDOOLLPPHH!!”  

Then she started to cry.  And again, not her normal whiny I want my own way cry, but the sobbing, “my heart has been ripped out” cry.   
I sat there, hugging her while she cried for about twenty minutes saying over and over again, "Ruuuuddddoooolllppphhh!!!  Ruuuudddooolllpphhh!!"

In that time I had to talk myself out of trying to find a place to rent a deer and somehow make it’s nose red.  I had never really seen her this miserable.  I mean, we all know the child gets upset and cries, but this was different.  This was the same cry I comforted Sonya the day Jazz died.  Lana just took a little longer to get there and seemed to have displaced her sadness into another situation.  
After she finally calmed down, she was exhausted and decided to go to her bed where she napped for about two hours.  Something she rarely does anymore.  She seemed better when she woke up, clutching her Rudolph doll. 
She never again asked if we could call Rudolph but continued to drag the stuffed animal everywhere.  She kept questioning me about when we were going to put the decorations away and was Rudolph going to go too?   When we did put all the decorations away last week, I just couldn’t bring myself to take it from her.  He has become her companion and her best friend for the time being and let’s face it, it’s not hurting anyone.  Well, it may hurt my sense of Christmas decorations being out past their time, and he is getting a bit worn, but it something I can handle, especially if it helps her get past losing her pet.  I’m sure in a few months, she will find something else to become attached to, maybe even a new pet.   Then I can retire Rudolph  to the attic until December.  Although by then he may look a bit more worn than the rest of the cast.  Oh well, at least it's for a good reason.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Yakety Yak-Don't Talk Back

Last night I was trying to get Lana to eat her dinner, as usual.  We were even having something she usually likes.  I swear I think I could serve warm chocolate chip cookies for dinner and that child wouldn't eat them.  Lana just does not do dinner.  She finished her milk and asked for more.  I told her she was not getting more until she ate her dinner, because that's the other problem.  She would drink her calories for dinner if I let her.  (Insert like mother like daughter joke here.)  Anyway-after I told her she wasn't getting anymore milk until she ate, the whining started.  

"Mooommmmmyyy!!   I waaaannnt moorrrree MILK!!"

"Lana," I said through my gritted teeth, "do not even start with me."

She immediately retorted back, "I wouldn't start with you if you would just give me more MILK!"

Sometime in the fifteen seconds it took me to decide whether I was going to laugh at her or smack her, I regained my composure then calmly and firmly said,

"You do not talk to Mommy that way, Lana.  Eat your dinner or no more milk."

"Fine!" she agreed and proceeded to take a bite of her food.  She, of course, she did not finish her dinner.  Not even close.  So she did not get anymore milk.  I WIN!  

Well, sort of since she still didn't eat.  

If this is the back talk I'm getting at four, I can't even imagine what it's going to be like at fourteen.  Actually, I can and I don't want to.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One Last Piece of Christmas Cheer

I know, I know Christmas is over.  Although you wouldn't know it if you drove around my neighborhood and saw all the lights still up and on.  Even though we took everything down New Year's Day because I couldn't look at it anymore, I know some people like to leave theirs up for a bit longer.  I mean technically, Christmas isn't over until after tomorrow. The Feast of the Three Kings in the Catholic religion is January 6th, and the Armenians recognize that same day as their celebration of Christmas.  So keeping up your decorations until this weekend is allowable.  HOWEVER, by MLK Jr. day if I still see lights on, I'm knocking on some doors.  It's a pet peeve of mine when people leave their decorations up for to long.  Living in Southern California, some people think it's okay to leave their lights up ALL YEAR, even if they don't light them.  It is so NOT okay.  TAKE THEM DOWN PEOPLE!  Okay, I'm done with that rant now. 

My whole point of this post was to show you the video we made of the girls singing their Christmas songs from the shows they had this  year.  We recorded their actual shows, but the video on those is difficult to watch what with other people in and out of the camera view, so we made our own. It's cuter anyway, except Georgia keeps grabbing her crotch throughout and I'm not sure what that was all about, so I apologize for that up front. The first two videos are songs that Lana and Georgia learned at school and Sonya also learned when she was there. The last video is what Sonya did this year, which is the reason the younger two look a bit lost during part of it.    Anyway-without further ado, here are the girls singing their Christmas hearts out. Enjoy!

This concludes Christmas.  At least in our house. Don't make me come take the lights down at yours.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Twenty Questions

Happy New Year Friends!!  I hope you all had as great a break as we did.  Andy was off last week, so we got to spend some quality family time, and I got to go workout in the middle of the day!  It was awesome.  But now the decorations are all away and here we are back to the daily grind.  I was kind of ready for it anyway.  Sonya DEFINITELY was.  The school routine is essential  in her life.  Because we were trying to do things with the kids, I took some time off from writing and I hope you all took time off from what you normally do as well, to hang out with your family or just relax.  After the madness that happens BEFORE Christmas that is.  I did have a little story of something that happened well before Christmas that I just never got around to writing about.

Sonya is at an age where she likes to ask a thousand questions or maybe it's just her personality.  Perhaps a little of both.  Sometimes I don't have answers to all her questions and other times the questions just start to get a tad annoying.  Like the day we had this conversation before we took a shower;

Sonya- "I don't want to turn the fan on today when we take a shower."

Me-"Well, we have to."

Sonya- "Why?  Why does the fan HAVE to be on?"

Me- "Because it helps to get the steam out of the bathroom caused by the shower."

Sonya- "But why?  Is the steam bad?"

Me- "Ummm...It's not bad. We just don't want it to be steamy in there for so long and the fan helps that."

Sonya- "But what will happen if there is steam?  Is it bad for the bathroom?"

Me- Starting to get annoyed and just wanting to take a shower, "It's not really bad, but it's just better to not have it build up so much in there."

Sonya- "But what will happen if it does?  Will something bad happen?  Why do you not want the steam?"

Me- "YES!  YES Sonya!  Something bad will happen!  The bathroom will fall apart and we will all die if we don't get rid of the steam!!"

Okay, perhaps I went overboard, but I was all done with the conversation and she would just not LET IT GO!  These kind of conversations have become somewhat of a daily occurrence.  I like the fact that she's curious and she asks questions, but sometimes... SERIOUSLY?

Then a couple of weeks ago we were all sitting around having dinner, and she asked Andy and I a question about something I can't even recall right now.  There are always so many of them.  After answering her, she said,

"Yeah, that's what I thought."  She says that quite often after having a question answered, mind you.  Then ten seconds later she said to Andy and I,

"I know all the answers, but sometimes I just like to ask the questions."

Awesome, Sonya.  Nothing like finding out a way to irritate your parents at a young age!