Happy Halloween, 2016

Baguette has never been that into trick-or-treating. From her perspective, Halloween is when you knock on your neighbor’s door, and they answer it–but then they don’t let you in. What’s the point of that?

It’s always been a struggle. Not because it particularly matters to us whether she wants to, but because we want her to understand what it is, and see if she can find a way to make it fun for herself. There would be a parade at her day care that she had to be wrangled through–the teachers made those costumes–and then in the evening we’d try to get her out into the neighborhood.

Each year, it was harder than you’d think. There was the time she refused to wear layers (shirt and tights were fine, but not the elephant part of the costume). After many tears, she decided to wear all of her Elmo clothing. It worked. The next year, she rejected the costume we’d bought her AND the one from day care, finally settling on my shirt worn backward. The year after that, we laid out every costume and clothing item we could think of, and she chose soccer ball fleece PJs–although once she was done with her abbreviated neighborhood circuit, she added Anna’s ball gown from Frozen.

This year, we looked at the restrictions required by the school and settled on gray leggings, gray t-shirt, and elephant headgear (we bought two headbands with ears and a hat). But yesterday I pointed out that she’d spent the week saying “I am a fire fighter” and “I am a doctor,” following a LOT of viewings of Elmo’s World DVDs. And I remembered that at some point, someone had given her a doctor costume. So I unwrapped it, and she instantly fell in love with the idea. She wore it all afternoon, and tried to sleep in it, and put it back on enthusiastically for this morning’s parade at school.

Small girl in scrubs costume running
Paging Dr. Baguette

She was still wearing it when Mr. Sandwich picked her up, and didn’t take it off until they were in the store looking at fire fighter costumes. They brought one home, but its velcro fasteners proved unacceptable. Out of all of the costumes we’d spread across the couch, which one did she pick?

The elephant-ear headband.

So we headed out with our elephant for trick-or-treating, but it turned out that Baguette had no interest in that–she just wanted to go for a walk around the block.

The whole point is to have fun, and for the first time, Halloween was really fun for her.

I couldn’t be happier.


Remember when I talked about how routine is important, but disrupting the routine is, too?


That’s okay. Here’s a link. But you don’t necessarily need to read that, because I’ve got more examples from this weekend.

  • Mr. Sandwich read one of her “Touchy Feely” books using the adjective written on the page, but not the one Baguette prefers. She didn’t get upset, and she didn’t repeat the original phrase. Instead she corrected him, saying, “They are prickly.”
  • We were in the car, and she started to get a little fussy. She asked for her book (she has a sequence in which she reads the Touchy-Feely books, which are firmly in rotation. I asked, “Do you want Mommy to read That’s Not My Dragon?” And she answered, “I want Baguette That’s Not My Dragon.”
  • She’s been playing with the apps for The Monster at the End of This Book and Another Monster at the End of this Book. On Saturday she made up her own chant based on phrases from the apps: “Grover is furry, Grover is furry, YOU! Elmo is cute, Elmo is cute, YOU!”
  • As usual, we went to the zoo. Elephants are her favorite animal, and the demonstration enclosure is always one of our first stops at the L.A. Zoo. But the male elephant sometimes trumpets loudly and scares her. Yesterday the females were doing the demonstration, and she sat on my lap. Almost immediately, she said, “Time to say bye-bye elephants.” I said, “Are you sure? Don’t you want to watch them eat carrots?” She looked at me and said, “I want to go see giraffes please.”
  • When we reached the carousel, toward the end of our visit, I asked if she wanted to ride on one of the animals (she never does–we only ride on the bench seat). She answered with “I want to ride peacock, please.”
  • Last night, she handed Mr. Sandwich one of her stuffed animals and unilaterally changed one of her common Baguette-focused phrases (“I want Daddy take elephant”) to a straightforward instruction: “Daddy, take elephant.”
  • “Frozen” is also back in rotation, and she’s memorized even more of the dialogue. She’s also tailoring it to her own preferences, as in last night’s pronouncement: “It was an accident. She was scared. She didn’t mean it. She didn’t mean any of this. Tonight was my fault–I should be the one to go after her. Bring me my elephant.”

She’s been in school for three days. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t always felt good. But it is good.

Little girl with a big stack of books

Baguette, of Late

The last six weeks have been pretty incredible. Toward the end of December, both Baguette’s day care and our workplace closed for the holidays. At the same time, her evening ABA therapist got married and took a few weeks off. We did schedule one session with the therapist who goes to her daycare, but for the most part it was a real break for all of us.

We’ve discovered that these breaks are very important. Routine lets Baguette learn new skills; the breaks are when she shows us what she can do. And when this break ended, she kept going. Here is a not even remotely exhaustive list of the new things we’re seeing from her.

  • She answered a question with a specific response: When Rockin’ Elmo said, “What do you want to do now?” she answered, “Run on the grass.”
  • She didn’t just quote, but imitated the “how do you wrap a present” segment from the Elmo’s World about birthdays.
  • On New Year’s Eve, she let Bestie watch videos with her on the iPad.
  • One day, after several viewings of a “Happy Halloween” Sesame Street compilation on YouTube, she came up behind us when we were in another room and said “Boo!”
  • One evening, she said, “Want carry you.” Then she jumped up into my arms and yelled, “Whee!”
  • Another evening, before bed, she sang first the first two lines of her favorite lullaby by herself.
  • She played with her Connect Four game and took turns with her stuffed lion.
  • When coloring, she enhanced a drawing of an elephant to show it spraying water with its trunk.
  • This morning, she used her Sesame Street-inspired gift-wrapping skills to help wrap Bestie’s birthday present.
  • At the zoo:
  • * “The elephant is eating the carrots”
    * “Look, an elephant”
    * “I see a lion”

  • After climbing and playing on the elephant statue at the zoo playground, she ran back, hugged it, and said “I love you. I love you.”

small girl sitting on statue of elephant

To a lot of people, these developments may not sound like much. But for Baguette, and for us, they’re huge.

She’s communicating in ways she never has before. She’s expressing a complexity of thought that is new. She’s interacting in ways that we haven’t seen.

Because not only will she let the lion take turns at Connect Four, but when she completed a task at day care and her teacher asked her if she wanted to pick a friend to jump with, she walked up to one of the little boys in her class and held out her hands to him.

It’s hard to know who was happiest about this–us, her teacher, or the little boy, who apparently was overjoyed that the girl who talks to no one had picked him out of the group. But probably the answer is that we were happiest. Because we know what it took her to get here.

Summer in Santa Barbara

I wish we could spend the whole summer in Santa Barbara, but I really can’t complain about having a week there. While Kauai is our top vacation spot, it’s a little out of our reach right now. Three plane tickets are expensive, and Mr. Sandwich and I agree that Baguette is not yet ready for the flight experience.

Fortunately, Santa Barbara is only about an hour and 15 minutes away by car (if traffic isn’t bad, which it often is). So for the last four summers, we’ve gone to Santa Barbara for our vacation. We prefer to rent a condo or other place to stay, and have had mixed success with that based on budget and timing (year 1–Motel 6; year 2–studio which I mistakenly thought had a kitchen; year 3–Homewood Suites in Oxnard, which was further away but a terrific place to stay; year 4–cottage behind the owner’s house, and dingdingding I think we have a winner).

As on prior visits, we went to the Santa Barbara Zoo (three times), destroyed sandcastles and splashed at Leadbetter Beach (twice), visited the ducks and the elaborate playscape at Alice Keck Park and the adjacent Alameda Plaza, and drove out to Ballard to see Sicilian donkeys at Seein’ Spots Farm.







Because we had a kitchen, we ate breakfast in the cottage most days. While I like to go out to breakfast, I don’t like to have to go out to breakfast. We did get pancakes once at Garret’s Old Fashion, which is becoming a must-do on our Santa Barbara trips, but most mornings I was really happy with my toast and sunflower seed butter accompanied by yogurt and berries.

We did tend to eat lunch and dinner out, although even then we brought home leftovers that covered a few more meals. The standout new-to-us place was Eureka! In addition to excellent burgers, they had an array of beers and whiskeys.

By the way, in the past we’ve looked for bookstores in Santa Barbara. Apparently my previous Google searches failed miserably, because it turns out that there’s been an amazing one in our go-to neighborhood the whole time. It’s an independent store, and it’s got a children’s section that is large enough to be a separate children’s bookstore. So if you’re ever in Santa Barbara, stop by Chaucer’s Bookstore. You won’t be sorry.

Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara

And of course, we also paid a visit to McConnell’s.


In the end, Baguette didn’t want to leave Santa Barbara–and, truth be told, neither did we.

Traditions: Easter Dinner

Last year was our first effort at a family Easter. This year there was no snowshoeing, but we did dye and hide eggs.

Easter Eggs

Baguette hunted them, with help from Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.


Then there were deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs

And Mr. Sandwich’s parents came over for a dinner of ham (my great-grandmother’s recipe),


roasted asparagus (shown here pre-roasting),


and beer bread (my grandmother’s recipe),

Beer Bread

as well as mashed potatoes and root vegetables and Lawry’s creamed corn.

I may have gone a little nuts.

Dessert–because I lacked time and energy to make a pound cake–was vanilla ice cream and lemon cookies, both from the store.

Verdict? The ham, asparagus, and creamed corn are definitely keepers–although we knew that going in, because I’ve made those before (a quick shout-out to Lawry’s for sharing their recipes, BTW). The beer bread was fine, but not at the top of the food priority list for us, and the mashed potatoes and root vegetables were tasty–but when Mr. Sandwich said, “I just really like your regular mashed potatoes,” well, let’s just say that it’s tough to embrace the experiment.

This post was not sponsored by Lawry’s. I just really like Lawry’s.

It’s Friday, Right?

I feel like this week has gone on for about a year.

Monday was a holiday, and so being us, we went snowshoeing. Baguette loves the snow, but we dramatically underestimated how quickly a not-quite-three-year-old can get wet and cold.

Tuesday we went back to work, and Baguette went back to school. Honestly, I don’t really remember Tuesday.

Wednesday we had Baguette’s in-network evaluation for speech therapy. More on that in another post; for this one, let’s just say that the appointment started late and ran longer than we expected; Baguette missed snack time and got very grouchy; she napped for a grand total of 25 minutes; and at the end of the day we had a conference with one of her teachers. More on that in another post, too.

Thursday was crazy busy, and also rainy. That meant that Baguette got to wear her raincoat and boots. It also meant that she wanted her umbrella, which I did not have time to find. In the evening she ate and ate and ate.

This morning I dropped her off at day care, narrowly avoiding an umbrella-related meltdown, and one of her teachers referred to “the breakfast she doesn’t eat any of.” Which explains the evening hunger. And then work was crazy busy again, with much soothing of ruffled feathers in some directions and prodding in others.

So now we’re home, and while a hat-stacking-related meltdown led Baguette to declare her interest in “go bed,” we are back up. There has been playing with “A-B-C Puzzle” and her new dump truck–it arrived today, and I realized that I order so many things from Amazon that everyday is Christmas. At the moment we’re winding down (I hope) with Sesame Street, and if we’re really lucky, she’ll actually go to sleep and let us watch a sitcom. Ha!

So I leave you with this:

elephant dinosaur robot toys
An elephant, a dinosaur, and a robot walk into a bar . . .

Happy Halloween! Or, Costume Drama

Weeks ago–right after Baguette broke her leg–we went to Costco and explored the Halloween costume options. Mr. Sandwich brought her an array of choices, and she picked the elephant.

It promptly became a stuffed animal.

So we weren’t sure whether she’d wear it. But we weren’t too worried, because we had been given a tiny UCLA cheerleader outfit, and we figured that would work if the elephant didn’t.

What we utterly failed to consider was that somehow she has determined that she will not wear layers unless one of them is a jacket or a sweater. So both the elephant costume and the cheerleader dress led to crying and screaming.

Elephant and UCLA cheerleader costumes
Each of these looks delightful but is wholly unacceptable.

Not anyone’s Dream Halloween.

After we read a few books and calmed down (all of us, frankly), Baguette decided that she would wear her “Elmo shirt.” We added red pants and “Elmo shoes,” and then she topped it off with three hats. Somehow we made it to several houses on our block, but she went back and forth on whether or not she wanted to take candy from relative strangers, which, when you think about it, is probably not a bad thing.

Now, some might say she was dressed as Elmo, and others as an Elmo Enthusiast. But if you are a loyal watcher of old Sesame Street episodes, you would realize that she was in fact dressed as an entire episode.

La la la la, la la la la, Elmo clothes