Monday, December 31, 2012

Biscotti 2.0

Every year, we have grand plans when it comes to making Christmas treats, and every year, we never quite realize those plans.  This year, we quickly reached cookie/candy making fatigue after a few batches of biscotti, some chocolate covered peanut butter balls, and one huge batch of (hard) caramels.  The biscotti was my doing, and it took two tries to get it looking good enough for the neighbors.  The frosting didn't actually make it onto the cookies until December 25 was in the rearview mirror, but they do look pretty, don't you think?

For my revised recipe, and a the "before"picture, click on over to Endless Simm and enjoy some biscotti love.

PS On an unrelated note, here's link to a helpful article that arrived in my inbox today, just in time for our second trek through the mind field that is baby sleep habits.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Word of the day: Symbiotic

Symbiotic: Adj. Having a mutually beneficial or interdependent relationship
Ex. Isabel and I have a symbiotic relationship.

Maria Montessori called the first eight weeks of life "the symbiotic period"I have found this name particularly apt this time around, because as much as Isabel clearly needs me at the very basic level (food), and at many other levels (diapers, snuggles, moving from place to place), I feel deep within myself how much I need her, too.  She and Elijah have given my life a new and greater purpose, surely.  On a more mundane level, though, when it comes to the day to day frustrations of life, there is nothing quite so soothing to my soul as a snuggle with my darling girl.

Thursday, December 27, 2012




Now We Are Six

By A.A. Milne
When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six
now and forever.

Happy Birthday (tomorrow) to my darling girls.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snow! (Just kidding)

I went to the bathroom this morning, and when I came back, Elijah was peering out the bedroom window.  "Look, Mommy, leaves are falling!"  Not a bad guess, based on his limited life experience, but what Elijah thought were leaves were actually snowflakes (or so we thought).  We moved downstairs to get a better look out the front window.  Of course, the next thing we had to do was go outside and see if this snow was for real.  

Well, it turns out that what looked like snow falling from the sky was more like little pellets of ice.  Undeterred, Elijah took his shovel and scooped the stuff off his sandbox, along with a healthy dose of sand.  He put it in a bowl and called it eggs.  I imagine that he could have gone on like this for awhile, but I was really not into having ice shards poke me repeatedly in the face.  I sheepishly admit to you here that I lured him inside with the promise of a cookie.  

As I write this, the weather has warmed a few degrees and the ice has turned to rain, melting what little accumulation we had.  I am looking forward to a day in the near future, perhaps, when we can play in some actual snow.  Until then, I think Isabel has the right idea.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, Papa

I know that all of you out there in blogland certainly love watching videos of Elijah (who wouldn't?), but I am pretty sure that my Dad is Elijah's number one fan in that department, so this goes out to him in particular.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

Matthew 2:10

May you all have blessed and merry Christmas season.



Friday, December 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.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Window washing, Montessori-style

As Elijah continues to grow out of babyhood and into preschooler land, I have found myself reflecting more on the best way to for us to spend our days.  As I have looked into different philosophies of education, one that seems to fit with my own ideas is the Montessori Method.

(A disclaimer: my own experience with Montessori education has thus far been purely second-hand, through reading and talking with others.  I am not a Montessori teacher, and make no guarantees that I am doing things the "right" way.  For that matter, I make no such guarantees about my parenting.  Moving on...)

Since I don't have a lot personal experience with Montessori education, but I find it intriguing, I started by reading Moneessori at Home!, recommended on this blog. I found this book to be full of great much, in fact, that I had to keep myself from becoming overwhelmed.  I decided to focus on Practical Life activities as a start.  Elijah loves helping me around the house, from "washing" the dishes to putting the laundry in the dryer to sweeping, so it seemed like the right place to start. 

One important point in Montessori seems to be that children need to be given real tools to work with, whether they are cooking, writing or cleaning.  With this in mind, I found a small spray bottle and some rags, filled the bottle with a vinegar and water solution, and showed Elijah how to spray the bottle once or twice on a surface you want to clean, then wipe the water away with the rag.  The front storm door seemed like a good place to start, as it is always kind of smudgy, plus he can watch cars go by as he cleans.

Perhaps it is just my inexperience with Montessori, but there were a few things about this whole experience that really impressed me.  First, I was surprised at Elijah's ingenuity.  When he first tried to the activity, he couldn't use the spray bottle himself because he was trying to operate it with one hand, as I had showed him.  For the first few times that we did the activity, I sprayed the water and he wiped it off.  Yesterday, though, he tried the activity again, and, using two hands, he was able to work the spray bottle himself.  (This caused much delight on both our parts.)

Secondly, I have been struck by how much Elijah loves doing this.  Now that he has gotten the hang of the spray bottle, he will spray and wipe, spray and wipe, for 20 minutes at a time.  He moved from the storm door to the regular door, and then wanted to clean the wall.  He even recruited his stuffed puppy as an assistant. 
Because this first practical life activity has gone so well, I am tempted to jump in an add a few more, but I think I will wait for now.  As far as I can tell, repetition is an essential component to Montessori education as well.  So, for the the moment, I will sit back, keep refilling the spray bottle, and hang out with this girl:

What can I say?  My life is full of goodness.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Apple cake that's easy as pie

When it comes to fruit, my motto is, "seasonal is better" (unless, of course, I'm in the mood for pineapple.  No pineapple season here in DC.)  Now it is winter, and apples are where it's at, and apples are what I am eating.  Elijah, however, is not a big apple fan, unless you count taking just one bite out of every apple on the shelf.  Even if raw apples aren't his thing, though, he loves that apple cake you see above, and really, he is on to something. 

The most interesting thing about this cake is that it is made in a cast iron skillet, which lends it it a particularly interesting texture.  Read all about it over at Endless Simmer, then be sure to make some for yourself.

Friday, December 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, December 13, 2012

To my son, on his 2.25th birthday

Dearest Elijah-boy,

Tomorrow you will be two years and three months old.  I meant to write this letter for your birthday, but these days, time seems to slip through my fingers like sand and it is all I can do to watch it fall.  It is said that the days are long but the years are short, but sometimes I feel like the days are short, too.  Each day brings new adventures for us to share, and for that I feel infinitely blessed.

This past year was a big one for you, as you decided that it was finally time to walk.  You are still a bit unsteady, and ever so cautious, but you are also brave.  It was not many months ago that you would fall down, then lay on your back yelling, "Mommy, help!", but now you fall and get right back up, always telling me, "Mommy, I okay."

You are my sweet boy, always wanting "snuggle time" when you wake up in the morning or from nap.  I have to stop myself from feeling a sort of pre-nostalgia for these moments of tenderness that I know will be gone before I am ready.  You are already an amazing big brother after only two months on the job.  I can see that "Izzy-izzy" a star in your little universe and I can't wait to see how you two will be once she can actually play with you instead of just being a resting place for your toys.

You are becoming so independent, wanting to do everything yourself.   Just today you insisted upon pulling your chair up to the counter and helping me cut the sweet potatoes.  You love telling guests, Ï have my own broom."  As soon as we get home, you always take your jacket off and then tell me, "I take my jacket myself." Now if I could just get you to hang it up...

You are my music man.  You love to sing "Amazing Grace" and "Alleluia" all day long, with some very loud percussion accompaniment.  Sometimes I wouldn't mind a little peace and quiet, but mostly I just enjoy your enthusiasm.

These days, you are certainly testing your limits, and when we tell you something you don't like, your favorite line is, "No!  Don't talk!".  You can throw a tantrum with the best of them, and once you get past the throwing, screaming part, you always want to take a break with your binkies and lay on Mommy and Daddy's bed.  You break my little heart when you are in time-out and you say, "Sorry, Mama.  Mama feels sad." I know you are trying hard to learn how to handle your big and tumultuous  emotions, and I pray every day that I can find the best way to help you do that. 

You, Elijah, are my beloved son, my firstborn, with whom I am always well-pleased.  I look forward to each day that we get to spend together.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Oh, Crayola, why you gotta be like that?

I am a lifelong Crayola lover.  Their crayons are clearly the high bar that every other crayon must meet, and there was nothing quite like opening a sixty-four pack at the start of the school year and seeing that tiny rainbow of perfect points staring back. One of my most fun gifts that I have received in my life was a Crayola crayon maker.  I was eighteen years old at the time.

In my quest to foster a love of art in my son, I set out in search of some other art supplies besides crayons to pique his interest.  Watercolor paints seemed like a logical choice, as they require little in the way of set up and clean up.  My immediate thought, based on my previous life experience, was to try the Crayola version.  And the paints did not disappoint.  Affordable, varied in color and easy to use, I have to give them a thumbs up.

The Crayola watercolor paper was a different story, however.  It is basically just a big sheet of printer paper, which if you've ever spilled coffee on, you know is not at all absorbent.  And when Elijah "paints", he mostly uses water, which turns the entire situation into a sloppy, gloppy mess.  I have the table stains to prove it. 

For Elijah's birthday, my sister sent some lovely fancy watercolor paper, but it only came with twelve sheets.  Fortunately, Target now carries a brand called Kid Made Modern, which makes some nice, thick, affordable watercolor paper. 

It is hard to admit that the Crayola of my childhood cannot meet all my needs, but my dining room table, for one, welcomes the change.  And, their paper may be no good, but these are still great.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mommy News Flash: You are not me

There's something you should know about me: I love, love the visual arts, and I love creating things, particularly of the artsy-craftsy variety.  I can happily spend an afternoon, or perhaps an entire day, wandering around an art gallery or lost in a crocheting/gluing/stitching project.  I even like modern art.  Oh, and another thing: I like quiet.  I am a very talkative person, it's true, but I am not a very loud person.  In fact, I am actually something of a mumbler.

How then, have I did I end up with a drum- banging, "guitar"-playing crazy man for a son?  As anyone who has spent some time with Elijah can tell you, once he gets past his bit of shyness, the kid is LOUD.  Like REALLY LOUD.  Like, "Elijah, I know you are screaming because you are excited, but it's hurting Mommy's ears," loud. 

It's not like I want a carbon copy of myself.  My parents set good examples in this respect, allowing my sister and I to pursue our own interests.  Neither of us ever learned to play bridge.  My mom is the craftiest person I know, and yet there is  an infamous picture of my sister working on her last craft project, which consisted of about eight stitches on a piece of fabric.  I think she was six at the time.  I embrace the diversity that exists within families.  And there is already no doubt that Elijah, even at the tender age of two, has a personality and interests that are uniquely his.

These days, I am ready to order noise cancelling headphones for the rest of the family, Isabel included, yet there are more upsides to Elijah's musical preoccupation than not.  It has caused me to recall my own musical ambitions of years past, when I spent many hours a day singing and practicing piano.  It has made me think that perhaps it is time to actually learn how to play that ten-year-old guitar of mine.  And, I suppose, the kid is only two, and he may not always be such a little drummer boy, or at least maybe we will have a garage by the time he is ready for an actual drum set.  And, you know, there's always Isabel.  I can see in her eyes that she cannot wait to learn how to crochet.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Not as hard as I thought...

I was just told by a man in a hard hat that Pepco's about to cut our power for an indeterminate amount of time, so before they do, I will quickly tell you that you should hop on over ES and read about how I overcame my fear of (making) baked goods and did up some pumpkin pie from scratch for Thanksgiving.  

I hope the food in the crock pot is already done...

Friday, December 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, December 6, 2012

The Many Faces of Isabel Joan

Okay, I admit it. Like most second-time parents, I haven't given my baby numero dos the full paparazzi treatment like I did the first time around.  Heck, we had to create a separate folder for each week of Elijah's first three months because we had so many photos of that guy.  In my defense, Isabel also sleeps a lot more than Elijah did at this age, or it least it feels that way, and if you've seen one picture of her sleeping, you've basically seen them all.

These days, though, she does seem to be spending more time awake (minutes at a time!), and so I have sought to rectify the dearth of Isabel photos around these here parts.  This morning, I manage to capture the full range of Isabel's emotions.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Word of the Day: Superfluous

Superfluous: Adj.  Unnecessary, especially through being more than enough
Ex.: Shoes for an infant are as superfluous as they are irresistible.

(A shout goes out to Mrs. Hatch for her excellent taste in footwear.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Living small

My life, right now, is small.  It is mainly populated with small people, short books and, let's face it, fitful sleep.  This morning, we didn't even make it out the front door.  (We did, however, cook up some mean "eggs" in a pot on the back porch using only dish soap and water.)  Growing up, my parents were good about encouraging us to dream big, and believe me, I do, I have and I will. 

For this moment, this day and this season, though, I delight in the smallness.  If the best thing that happened to me this morning is that I helped Elijah make his own hot chocolate, then it was truly a morning well spent. (Oh, and if you need evidence that this was an Elijah-driven project, just check out the table in the first picture.  No worries, though.  Cleaning up is half the fun.)

Now it's naptime, and I think I might finish up that cocoa.  I should probably put it in a new cup, though.  That one is a little sticky. 

Small, my friends, can be quite delicious.

And beautiful, too.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Turkey, turkey and more turkey

I'll admit it - I don't really like leftovers.  But I really, really don't like throwing food away.  This combo of feelings explains why every other post of mine on Endless Simmer deals with how to recapitulate the contents of your fridge in such a way that your (my) leftovers magically become appealing again.  Today, check out how I managed to eat turkey four (4!) days in a row without crying.  Day four is pictured above.  Looks yummy, right?