Friday, September 28, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Thank you to Amanda Soule of Soule Mama for the words and inspiration.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Authors I Love: Chris Van Dusen

Having been a kid, then a teacher, and now a parent, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable when it comes to the world of children's books.  Occasionally, though, I am pleasantly surprised by an author who has been around long enough to create a whole series, yet I have never heard of him or her. 

Such is the case with Chris Van Dusen, author and illustrator of the "Mr. Magee" books as well as a few others.  We were gifted with set of these books by Kurt's cousin around the time Elijah was born.  She has spent a lot of time in Maine with her family, and the author is from there, so perhaps this is how she knew about these books. 

The stories are told in rhyming couplets, with 50's style cartoonish illustrations to match.  Currently, Elijah's favorite is If I Built a Car, and the fact that I have been able to read it five or more times a day for the past week without totally losing my mind or "losing" the book is all the evidence you should need to know that these books are keepers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Playing favorites

I have never been big on favorites.  If pressed, I will name a favorite color, but really, my heart won't be in it because there are just so many shades and each of them has a purpose, so how can one really be expected to choose?  And don't get me started on foods.  When you love food as much as I do, it truly is impossible.  I don't think I can even choose my favorite salad green.  It depends, after all, on the dressing. 

One area where this is not a problem, however, is seasons.  I love fall.  Love love love.  The cool weather, the smells of leaves and apple cider, the cozy but not unwieldy clothing, the blessed relief from the oppressive DC humidity (why do I keep timing my pregnancies for maximum summertime?).  Most of all, the pervasive sense of nostalgia that fall triggers is almost too much to take, but just almost.  I can sit outside for an hour and just let the memories unspool, from Homecomings to Halloween to hayrides to...well..everything. 

I haven't been posing any questions here lately, and I know that there are plenty of lurkers out there who read this lovely blog and never comment.  So...this is your chance.  Make yourself known.

What is your favorite season?  Why?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The world's most nutritious play dough

In this house, we are generally good eaters.  I don't just mean that we, and especially Elijah, eat a lot, although that is true, too.  If you want to be able to eat all your own eggs, you best do it out of the little man's sight, lest he pester you for half of them.  No, what I mean is that we are pretty darn healthy when it comes to eating.  We eat meat maybe once or twice a month, embrace the chew-fest that is dark leafy greens, and try to stick to foods whose ingredients we can name.  Elijah is a big fan of tofu, which he lovingly calls "tofe" (rhymes with loaf).

But I have a confession to make.  I know in my head that whole grains are far superior to, um, not whole ones.  Elijah and I love oatmeal, and quinoa has been known to make a successful appearance at our table.  The problem, you see, is whole wheat (and brown rice, but that's not what this post is about, so I'll save that thought.)  For me, the big problem is whole wheat pasta.  I love pasta, and we eat it at least once a week.  But to me, whole wheat pasta takes the joy out of pasta eating.  No matter how I cook it, sauce it or top it, it tastes like cardboard.  No, I don't eat cardboard regularly, but I can imagine, seeing as I believe cardboard and ww pasta have the same fiber content.

For Kurt, the bigger problem is whole wheat flour.  Recently, several of our friends moved and bequeathed their heavier food items to us.  Call it pre-dumpster diving.  We ended up with 2 or 3 bags of whole wheat flour.  Ever frugal, I began incorporating it into a few regular family food items: pizza dough, banana bread, etc.  Let's just say, I didn't get away with it.  Even I will admit that the banana bread was more hockey puck than delicious breakfast food.

So, what to do with all this nutritious, fancy-pants whole wheat flour, you ask?  Why, make play dough, of course!  To color didn't take quite as well, but Elijah didn't seem to mind.  And didn't seem to make a noticeable impact on the flavor, either.  Victory, I say.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Insider's DC: National Building Museum

This weekend, particularly Saturday, we hit the ground running in full-on tourist mode.  The weather was gorgeous, and we took full advantage: the zoo, DC Veg Fest (mmm, fake meat) and the big event, The  Big Build: A Hands-on Family Festival of Tools, Trucks, and Building Arts at the National Building Museum.    The event was billed for ages 4-10. and I do think that Elijah will enjoy it even more next year, but we still had a rocking good time.

The National Building Museum is sometimes overlooked by tourists, likely because it is not a Smithsonian museum, and they do charge admission.  However, they have lots of cool events like this one that are offered for free.  Plus, according to the website, access to the Great Hall is always free, and it is basically a huge open area that is often used for fancy events in the evenings, and would make a great place to run around on a rainy day. 

The event that we attended this weekend was awesome.  Elijah is still talking about (and wearing) his little plastic construction hat, which he decorated with stickers.

A switch plate also got the full Elijah (and Kurt) decoration experience. 

There was tons of other stuff to do and explore, from bricklaying to wiring an air conditioning system to spreading joint compound on a wall.

I thought one of the best activities was the pipes and joints that the kids (and grown-ups) could assemble to make sculptures that looked straight out of Dr. Seuss.  I tried to get Elijah to talk to me through a crazy phone that I made, but he was more interested in doing his own thing.

This was a great find (thanks, neighborhood listserv!), and I am already marking my calendar in hopes that we can go back next year.

Friday, September 21, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Thank you to Amanda Soule of Soule Mama for the words and inspiration.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This table

We have a great dining room table.  It came to us free, I am pretty sure from God, via an old coworker of Kurt's.  I remember a time shortly after we first acquired it, when the twins were about two or perhaps a little younger, Brittany was banging on the new table with a fork.  I noticed that the tines of the fork were leaving little chips in the varnish, and pointed this out to Kurt, who got just a little bit upset.  After all, this was our nice, new table, and already it was damaged.

Fast forward four years, and you would be hard-pressed to located those tiny tine marks amid all the other scrapes, bumps and stains that have befallen our poor table.  Besides our new bunk beds, it is our only piece of real furniture, and it is, as a truly good table must be, where life happens.  Eating, painting, sewing, crosswording, working, playing games: this table has seen it all. 

Each night I clear it off, and each day, hour by hour, it gets un-cleared, re-cleared, and un-cleared again. 

When we move, there are several items I hope to leave behind: the kitchen island (a million pounds of awesome that perhaps? our landlord would like to buy), a bed that was never ours, a free couch from Craigslist with a hole in the arm.  The table, though, well, that's coming with us.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mid-week video

My post from yesterday somehow disappeared, and today was a bit crazy, mainly because Elijah did not sleep so well last night, and consequently, neither did anyone else. I thought he might make up for it with a long nap, but that. did. not. happen. Which is all to say that I didn't actually get around to writing anything today until just now. So, instead of some lovely, insightful story, you get this lovely stream of consciousness followed by an overly long video that few people besides my parents will likely truly enjoy. It's all I can muster at this hour of the evening. You're welcome.

Note: Feel free to comment on the cuteness of Elijah's overalls, because today was the first time he wore them, yet they are too small already. Sometimes the seasons and the clothing sizes just don't match up.

Monday, September 17, 2012

How much birthday?

I have been meaning to write a nice, sappy, sentimental birthday post for Elijah.  It is going to happen soon, but this is not it.  Instead, I will write about his birthday party, which I will oh-so-modestly say that I consider to have been a success. 

The theme was Piggie and Elephant, characters who have lived atop the family booklist for going on six months now, at least.  The theme manifested itself in the crazy puppet show, a sign for the door, and some sweet cupcakes (see below).  And they really were sweet- gummy worms and airheads will do that to you.

My goals for this party were as follows:
  • Make sure Elijah has a good time
  • Make sure Kurt and I have a good time
  • Make sure the guests have good time
Seems simple enough, but having these goals in mind helped me decide, amongst my many ideas, which to actually carry out.  You see, I have been to quite a few kiddie birthday parties, both as a child and as an adult, and it is amazing to me how many ways things can go.   I have definitely been to parties where I have thought, This is just too much.  I know one family that got a petting zoo for their son's second birthday.  Which is fine, if that's what you're into, but seeing as Elijah can spend 20 minutes banging a pot with a spatula, I didn't see that as a necessary component to his good-time-having.  And it certainly would not help me meet the goal of my own enjoyment of the party. 

The above goals helped me pick the time (10 am, well before nap, appetizers instead of lunch) and the guest list (short, people I know and like).  It helped determine the number and order of activities (few, front-loaded).  Overall, I kept it simple while still indulging my desire for cuteness.  I figure that really, this was my year, because last year my efforts would not really have been appreciated by Elijah, and next year he will be ready for much more involvement in the party-planning process.

The hour and a half flew by, with things going more or less as planned (okay, so Brittany opened as many gifts as Elijah), and after most of the guests departed, the kids enjoy a quiet moment of painting, which may have been Elijah's favorite part of the whole deal.  I do think he liked the puppet show, though.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vidi-o the week

So...the highlight Elijah's birthday party was supposed to be the puppet show...and maybe it was, just not in the way we intended.  On the plus side, I guess all that physical therapy has paid off...

Friday, September 14, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Thank you to Amanda Soule of Soule Mama for the words and inspiration.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...

I am referring, of course, to Elijah and donuts (oh, and Leila dog, too).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bye Bye Baby, Hello Big Boy

Sometimes, as a mom, you just can help but turn into a cliche.  So it was yesterday when Elijah got his first haircut.  I had put it off and put it off, thinking that if I just "forgot" to bring it up, maybe those crazy curls could stick around a while longer.  But my boy is just a few days shy of two, and if I was honest, some of those curls were looking more "middle-aged comb over" than cute. 

I had planned to take a video to document the experience, but I should have known that my little fireball would require more of my attention than that.  As Daddy pulled out the scissors, he quickly made his dissatisfaction known, migrating from the high chair to my lap in no time.

A few snips later, it was all over, and in place of my little baby was a handsome boy that I kept looking at in near-disbelief.  If you ask Elijah what happened to his hair, he will tell you that it was "on the table".  I contemplated saving it, but decided that a picture would do just as well and then I would have random bag of hair lying around.  When he woke up this morning, I was still not quite used to the new look, but I know it was for the best.  It's just hair, after all.  Or so I keep telling myself.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Guerrilla Art

When it comes to traits that I hope to foster in my children, creativity is certainly in the top ten, probably near the top of even that list.  (Hmm, this top ten is something I should probably reflect on, write down, commit to, etc, but that is a post for another day.)  Anyway, this desire to raise creative children explains a lot about my parenting style, from the fact that many of Elijah's "toys" are common household items or things rescued from the recycling bin to the fact that en route to the park today, I let Elijah dig in a random dirt patch for half an hour. 

Given my attitude toward using any and all things as playthings, it should not have surprised me that I came downstairs one morning while the twins were staying here to the lovely surprise seen above.  It is a handmade ribbon just for me, with my name on it any everything.  Too bad it was made out of one of my crossword calendar pages, one that was yet to be completed. 

Oh well, it was just a Monday one, which tend to be too easy anyway, and who can really be mad about a gift that was made with so much love (and tape)?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another Sunday

I realized a few hours ago that today is Monday, which is why this blog post is so late in coming. It took that long because Kurt took today off in honor of his beginning a new job tomorrow (!), and despite the fact that Elijah and I still walked Brianna to school this morning, and the fact that I went to the dentist this afternoon, today never quite felt Monday-ish.  This feeling was exacerbated by the lovely trip that we took to the zoo this morning.  Elijah loves the zoo any day, but today we made the trip specifically to see the new North American trail.  At first, it was a little anti-climactic.  There were some ducks, a wolf that was almost too far away to see, a sleeping seal and an empty beaver dam.  But then...the sea lions!  Swimming underwater!  And if that wasn't enough, we were just in time for the feeding demonstration.  What did Elijah think, you may ask?  Well, I think his face said it all.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vidi-o the Week

A double feature this week!  Both are short, but amusing.  Kurt and Elijah like to ride on the bike to the zoo, and Elijah certainly seems to prefer the Small Mammal House.

Friday, September 7, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Thank you to Amanda Soule of Soule Mama for the words and inspiration.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A different drummer

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”


My dearest Brianna,


These past two weeks, I have immensely enjoyed walking you to school.  Your continual chatter about everything, from the cars, to the treats you have in your backpack, to weather or not we will see the same dried up worm on the sidewalk, warm my heart daily.  You are unique, and beautiful.


I am so happy that you love your new school and your new class, even though you and Brittany are as separated as you have ever been in your lives thus far.  I am not convinced that this particular special education class is just the right place for you, but I am cheered that you look forward to going to school each day, when last year that was certainly not the case.  My fear is that with this placement, too much attention will be paid to "fixing" you, with too much focus on the things about that are deemed in need of change, instead of celebrating all that makes you perfectly you. 


I cannot fix the school system, or anything else about your life, but I promise you this:  I will always be the one to make sure that all that is good and funny and sweet about you is not lost amid the chatter about what makes you "difficult".  I will be the one to tell the stories about how you acted out Little Red Riding Hood, with an alarm clock playing the part of the Big Bad Wolf or about how you always make sure that Elijah has sticks and leaves to hold in his stroller.  


In this world, and particularly in our schools, a desire for similarity can stifle beauty, and a need for compliance can trump creativity.  You , my dear, are beautiful and unique, and I promise to do my best to help you see that.






Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Night Out

For the past few weeks, Kurt and I have been alternating taking a "night off" each week, a practice we have so far enjoyed and hope to continue in the coming months.  Many of our friends have left the area recently, so we have decided that it is time to be proactive in pursuit of new companions, both individually and as a couple.  Also, each of us has hobbies that have gotten a bit neglected in the past few months, and are in danger of getting more so with the arrival of the newest family member next month (!). 

Last night, while Elijah and I chased each other around the house and ate farmer's market nectarines, Kurt hit the pavement on his bike in search of some DC photo opportunities.  I have included a sampling of the treasures that he unearthed.  I tease him that he could get a job making postcards, but seriously, the man really has an eye for the perfect moment.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A belated welcome to...

...Seamus Francis!

As of July 4th, 2012 (that's right, Uncle Sam), Eleanor is an only child no longer.  And just look at that hair!

I have to say, I was pretty proud of myself, in that I managed to send a handmade gift before the young man turned six months old (not usually the case). 

For the blanket, I used this pattern without the border.  The hat pattern came from the book The Happy Hooker (nice name, I know, but really, a great book if you are learning how to crochet).  I know that at this point I am supposed to tell you what yarn I used, which would be possible if I had saved the wrapper.  Alas.  It was some sort of soft acrylic/cotton blend from the sale bin at the yarn store. 

The hat, of course, was not for Seamus.  And, despite her facial expression in the picture below, I think that Eleanor liked it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Garden update: No cukes, but tomatoes in abundance

Our cucumber plants this year are, as you can see, well, just sad.  They grew, and they grew, and they grew and then we got exactly...three cucumbers.  Two of which were inedible.  Last year, we were picking 2-3 cucumbers a day.  I never kept an exact count of the total, so I thought that this year, I might hang a cucumber scoreboard in the house.  I am glad I never got around to it because it would only serve as a reminder of The Mystery of the Barren Cucumber Plant. 

However...I am still picking 30 or so cherry tomatoes a day, which suits Elijah just fine.  If you look closely, you can see that not only are his hands full, but his cheek is as well.
Fun fact: Elijah will only eat tomatoes if they have just been picked and he is sitting outside, usually on the front steps.  Helmet optional.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vidi-o the Week

Elijah gets down and (just a little bit) dirty with some orange paint.  I think that the finished product might be a train, but that could have just been an unrelated thought he had.