Ping Pong Soup

Today for dinner Ruby and I made Ping Pong Soup together. The recipe is really easy: each person alternates, choosing one ingredient to put into the pot. Any ingredient in the kitchen is fair game. Cook for a while, then enjoy! Here’s what we made:

First, I chose some leftover turkey and bones and put them in the water to simmer.

Then Ruby picked grapes. She cut each grape in half and put them in a bowl.

Next, I chose some left over fried rice. Then Ruby picked noodles — I got some penne out of the cupboard.

I chose celery, and put half in with the broth and diced the rest. Ruby took a look in the fridge and chose pickles, cutting each one in half with her knife.

Next up, I picked seasonings: a mix of salt, herbs and spices from the cupboard. Ruby’s final choice, after another look in the fridge, was eggs. She cracked two eggs into a bowl and mixed them up.

My final choice was some frozen mixed veggies from the freezer.

We took the turkey bones out of the pot, dumped in the rest of the ingredients, and let it simmer for twenty minutes while building giant bridges out of blocks in the basement. Then we enjoyed it with pumpkin biscuits we made together last weekend.

It was delicious!

A Toddler’s Take On Death

This morning Ruby and I were sitting in the bathroom together, as we occasionally do. I finished up my business and waited for her to finish hers. For no particular reason I started singing “Ring of Fire”. It’s one of Ruby’s favorite songs, and I’ve got a tendency to burst into random song at random times.”He’s dead,” Ruby said after I’d finished the chorus.”Who?” I asked.”Johnny Cash is dead,” Ruby said. I was impressed that she remembered who sang the song, and even more impressed that she knew he’d died.”Yes,” I said, “he died a few years ago. But he lived a long time, so that’s okay. Most people live a long time, and then they die.”I’m not one to shy away from the topic of death with Ruby. Death is a natural part of living, and one of my goals as a parent is to give her a holistic view of the world. I told Ruby that most people live a long time, but some people don’t. And I told her that everything dies: people, animals, trees, everything dies, because that’s an important part of life.”But Papa”, Ruby said, “who will be my parent if you die?”This was an unexpected question. Not just the transition from death of random people to the death of me, but the more insightful understanding that if I died, then I wouldn’t be around to take care of her. From the worried look in her eyes, I could see that Ruby has a good understanding of what death means.I told Ruby that if I died, then her Mama would take care of her. And if Mama died too, there would be a long line of people who would be there to take care of her: her Aunt Ni, Bebe and Pop, Nana and Grandpapa. She wouldn’t have to worry about that. And I also told her that I would probably be alive for a long time, so she wouldn’t have to worry.”Will you come back?” she asked.I told her that was a complicated question, and that some people think I will, but that I think I probably won’t.”You should come back,” she said.”Well, I’ll try, Ruby, and if I can, then I will.”She paused for a few moments, thinking about it.”You should come back,” she said again. Then after a few more moments, “I love you.””I love you too,” I told her, and that is a great way to end a conversation about death.

End Of Summer Action, Part II

After a summer of mediocre weather, the typical September hot spell arrived right on time. But last week, with the forecast calling for increasing clouds, we decided that I should take the day off work so we could enjoy the last sunny day of the summer at the Puyallup Fair.

We went to the fair to peruse the vendor stalls, see the animals, and do some rides. Ruby wasn’t so keen on the vendor stalls, and was only moderately intrigued by the animals. Even a camel and two zebras didn’t really grab her attention as much as I’d expected.

The rides, on the other hand, were a big hit. Although we had our eyes on the ferris wheel, Ruby was too short. In fact, Ruby was too short for a lot of the rides that we thought would be perfect for her.

So, we all went on the giant slide together (with Ruby riding between my legs). Kate won the race. Then we got in line for a kids’ roller coaster. I was a little nervous as to whether or not she’d like the ride — and if she didn’t, what the result would be? Would she get upset? Would she (horror!) try to get off? After waiting in line for a while, though, Ruby decided that she didn’t want to go on this ride (I think it was too noisy for her). Instead, she went on a fairly lame motorcycle ride.

After a bit of a break to explore more of the fair, we found a different kids’ roller coaster. This time, Ruby had no doubts about getting on the ride, and I was happy to see lap belts would keep the kids in place whether or not they wanted to be there. And Ruby loved it! She was smiling through the whole ride.

In fact, all she wanted to do after that was go on rides. So, we took the gondola ride across the fairgrounds. We tried to get Ruby onto another roller coaster but she was rejected for being too short. Instead, Ruby went on a swing ride with Kate, and then we all took a train ride together. And after that, we had to plead poverty and drag Ruby back to the car.

End Of Summer Action, Part I

Kate, Ruby, and I took advantage of some well-timed good weather to do two fun things: go swimming, and visit the Puyallup fair. Both of these were great opportunities to see Ruby try some new, fun things.

Two weeks ago we went to Mounger Pool (an outdoor pool in Magnolia) on its last open day of the season. The weather was sunny but a little chilly, and we were all fighting off colds, but we decided to brave the waters anyway. Ruby had been taking swimming lessons with me all summer, and Kate was excited to see firsthand the progress she’s made.

Ruby showed Kate all the new swimming skills she’s acquired over the summer: she can hang onto a water noodle (or other flotation device, probably) and swim around all by herself; she can jump from the pool deck into the arms of someone waiting in the pool; she can hang on the edge of the pool by herself; she can comfortably float on her back while I hold onto just the back of her head; and we can even let go of her for a few seconds and she’ll go underwater and open her eyes (she’s not strong enough to swim to the surface yet).

Mounger has a decent water slide. It has a single drop at the beginning leading into a 270-degree turn before the water. It’s small, but worth the extra dollar each for unlimited rides. We took Ruby on this slide — she sat between my legs (or Kate’s legs) and we’d slide down together. After a trip with each parent, though, she wanted to go down by herself!

Kate or I would go down first and wait for Ruby at the bottom of the slide. Then the other would put Ruby in the slide and gave her a little shove. She mostly stayed upright and pointed in the right direction, and loved the ride. She wanted to go again and again. I watched her from above as she slid down the last section before she hit the water, and the giant grin on her face was the highlight of my day.

“Friend” No More

Ruby and “Friend”

For Christmas, we gave Ruby a doll. We didn’t give the doll a name, but instead decided to wait and let Ruby choose the name.

Ruby didn’t quite understand what we were asking for when we said, “What’s your friend’s name?”. She’d usually say “hmm?” or “name-o” (as in “bingo was his”). So for the past few months her doll’s name has been “friend” or “your friend”. Every few weeks we’d ask again and we’d get the same response.

Last week while we were in Hawaii, the mother of one of our PEPS friends did some babysitting while Ruby and I went snorkeling. She took Ruby to see a fire station and later, when we were all driving home, she asked Ruby if she remembered the name of the station.

“Manoa!” was Ruby’s response. She seemed to enjoy the word and repeated it a few times.

Sensing an opportunity, I said, “Ruby, what’s your friend’s name?”

“Manoa!” she replied!

We’ve asked a few more times since then, and the name has stuck. I’m not sure why, but I get a little choked at the thought of her finally giving her friend her name.

Surprising things from Ruby

We often have idle and fun chitchat during dinner with Ruby. She tends to respond with one-word answers (if at all) when I ask her about her day so we often stick to silly topics and making faces at each other.

We sometimes play a game where we make happy, sad, angry, cold, or surprised faces at each other. Today, I asked her to show me “mystified” — a word she doesn’t know. Instead of staring blankly at me, she put on a big smile and cheerily said, “I’m mystified!” Kate laughed until tears streamed from her eyes.

Also, today I asked her what day it was and she said, “Tuesday!” Which it is. And we have no idea how she knows that.

Ruby’s Sense of Order

Some things can really upset Ruby’s sense of order. For example, she hates sledding — and not just when she does it, but when anybody does it. Check out this video from last month:

Sledding with Aunt Nicole from Kate on Vimeo.

She had the same reaction a few weeks later when we were watching complete strangers doing some sledding.

Last night, we had our first family video night and the three of us watched first half of Ratatouille together. There’s a scene where Remy (the rat protagonist) takes a harrowing water ride atop a cookbook, down a waterfall and into the sewers. This particular scene upset Ruby, and we had to pause the movie for a few minutes until she sorted herself out.

My parents told us a similar story from last year, when they took Ruby to see a dog show. They were up in the stands, far away from the action. One dog was supposed to jump a hurdle, but knocked over the bar instead. The dog then grabbed the bar and starting running around the ring with the bar in his mouth. This freaked Ruby out, she wouldn’t stop crying, and they had to leave the show.

I wonder what it is about these scenes that upsets Ruby? For what it’s worth, she has no problem with playground slides.


Ruby took my picture with her very own camera yesterday!

Her “very own camera” is a magnet, about 2″ x 3″, with a Canadian flag on the front. She points it at her subject and says, “smile!”. I guess the maple leaf could be the lens…

Pretending is awesome!

Carrots and Bunnies

Ruby likes to stand on a stool next to the counter and watch me cook, and I think that’s pretty awesome. Today I was making stir-fried vegetables, and I gave her a piece of raw carrot to eat. To my surprise, she ate it — she’s been fairly averse to raw vegetables all her short life.

This is good news, because her diet is generally pretty light on vegetables. It’s nice to have another option available to round out her nutrition.

Anyway, I gave her the carrot and said to her, “this is a carrot”.

She said, “bunnies”. Bunnies?

I checked with Kate, and she has not taught her any carrot-bunny associations. So who is teaching her that carrots and bunnies go together?

(note: I don’t have a problem with it, I’m just curious about where she picks these things up)