Monday, April 30, 2012

Elijah Reviews More Books


Elijah here.  As you may recall from my previous book(s) review, when I like a book, I really like it.  I like it so much that I want to read it over and over and over.  And even if I can't see it, I still know it's around somewhere, so I will yell out my code name for it louder and louder until I get it.  But I pretty much do that for most things I want these days.  Anyway, after reading my favorite books four times in a row every night, my daddy started to get a little sick of them.  I don't understand it myself.  Must be a grown-up thing.  He told my mommy that it was time to go to the library and pick out some new books.  I was fine with this because I like to look at the gerbils, which I think look like cats. 

I helped Mommy pick out some new books, and we came home with a big bag full.  It didn't take me long to choose my favorites.  If Daddy gets his way, some of these will be going back to the library very soon, so I better tell you about them while they are still here.  Until they leave, I expect to read each one at least ten more times.  Daily.

1. Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee  This book is currently my extra-super-favorite.  The other day, when we were at this boring place called the DMV, Mommy read it to me 20 times in a row and I never got sick of it.  The baby kind of looks like my best friend Brittany, especially when Brittany's mommy washes her hair and it gets really big.  The baby in the book does a lot of things that I like to do, like eating sand and picking flower puffs.  And even though she drives her mommy crazy, her mommy still loves her, just like mine does, even when I am screaming in her face.

2. I Love Trucks by Philemon Sturges   As you can probably tell from the title, this book is all about trucks.  Like the boy in the book, I also love trucks.  I see a lot of them when I sit out on the porch or play in my water table.  I always make sure to point to them just in case Mommy is not paying attention.  My favorite trucks are fire trucks and ambulances because they say, "Wee-ooh, wee-ooh."   My daddy does not think this book is very good, but he is wrong.

3. Today I Will Fly! by Mo Willems  This is a story about two friends named Elephant and Piggie.  Elephant is a little grumpy, and Piggie likes to do fun things, like try to fly.  The characters remind me of myself and my friend, Olivia.  I feel cautious sometimes, like Elephant, which is why I don't want to walk. Olivia is very adventurous and does not seem to mind falling all the time, so I think she is more like Piggie.  At the end of the book, though, Elephant wants to try flying, too, because it looks fun.  Maybe there is a message in this for me.  There are more books in this series, which I hope to read in the future. 

So, that's it for now.  My mommy got a lot of other books at the library, but I have looked at them, and they are not as good.  I will be sure to let you know the next time I find some new favorites, when Daddy can't stand reading these ones anymore.

Friday, April 27, 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, April 26, 2012

Meet Me at the Condiment Club


Once in college, I was at the dining hall with a friend.  I sat down to what I thought would be a pleasant lunch, only to watch in horror as she consumed at least half a cup of ketchup with her grilled cheese sandwich.  Condiments have never been my thing, despite the fact that I married a certified mayonnaise enthusiast.  However, sometimes a dish needs just that little something extra.  Today at Endless Simmer, I challenge you to expand your definition of the humble condiment beyond those fridge door basics.  Follow me, and we'll rejoin the Condiment Club together.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just a pretty picture


It's all my sinuses will allow today.

An aside: Okay, springtime, you win this round.  I am hitting the Benedryl and going to bed.  This isn't over, though.  Mark my words.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mini Not-me


Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about how Elijah, at a mere six months, already bore a strong resemblance to his daddy.  Still, I was skeptical.  I mean, how can such a little baby really be said to look like anyone?  

A year later, though, I have come into some evidence that basically confirms that I indeed have a miniature Kurt on my hands.  They even have the same hairline.  Sigh.  Maybe the next one will look like me? 


Monday, April 23, 2012

This Weekend By The Numbers


Sunny Days: 1 (Yay for planting!)
Rainy Days: 1 (Yay for no watering!)

Percent of waking hours spent outside (Elijah -  Saturday): 90
Percent of waking hours spent outside (Elijah - Sunday): <1 (To and from car)

Vegetables planted: 5 (Lettuce, greens, arugula, carrots and cucumbers)
Vegetables still to plant: 2 (Tomatoes, peppers)

Movies watched: 2 (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Three stars; Another Earth - Four stars)
Episodes of 30 Rock watched: 2

Time remaining in weekend: Approx. 45 minutes (until bedtime)

Guess it's time to stop writing and enjoy a few last minutes of relaxation.  See you tomorrow!



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wow! Flowers! Plane!

My mom says that six days a week of Elijah is not enough (we webcam on Sundays), so I am going to try to start posting a little video every Saturday.  Here is the first one, taken at Hains Point last  Saturday.  The kid loves his flowers, especially the "puffs".


  

Friday, April 20, 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, April 19, 2012

Do Not Read This Book:

Go, Dog. Go! By P.D. Eastman


I'll admit, I have pretty high standard when it comes to kids' books.  After all, there are so many good ones out there, why suffer through the merely mediocre?  I get most of Elijah's books from Value Village, where they cost 69 cents.  And even at that low, low price, I am quite selective.  After all, we only have so much shelf space.  Occasionally, though, I get fooled into purchasing a book that I think will be a grand addition to our collection, only to be bitterly disappointed.  Enter Go, Dog. Go!.  

Why was I fooled?  Three reasons.  1) Nostalgia.  For some reason, I remember reading this book a child and liking it.  Also, my mom still likes to say, "Do you like my hat?"  Too bad that's the only remotely remarkable part of the book.  2) Marketing.  The book is such a pleasing size and shape, being that it is part of the same early reader series as many Dr. Seuss books.  It even has a little Cat in the Hat icon on the back.  3) The author.  P.D. Eastman also wrote Are You My Mother?, a beloved tale around this house and many others.  I just love that the baby bird calls the crane a snort.  So cute.

And why was I so disappointed?  Well, there is no plot, for one.  Somewhere near the end the plot seems to revolve around finding out where all the dogs are going, but that doesn't happen until the end.  Lack of plot is not a deal breaker, though.  Look at One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  Not much in the way of plot there, but hey, it rhymes which makes it fun to read, and there are some little vignettes that are quite funny, like Ned and his little bed.  I think of that book as a sort of SNL for toddlers.  Go Dogs. Go! does not rhyme, and is not particularly humorous.  

Why is this book such a classic?  Beats me.  Maybe you should ask Elijah because he is the only one in the family who actually likes it.  Don't be fooled by the picture above, either.  He's making that face because he wants me to read the book, but I want to take a picture of him.  I think he mainly likes it because it features so many dogs.  Hopefully, he won't notice when it mysteriously disappears. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hurdy Gurdy, Kurt is 30!

That's right friends, today my dear husband embarks upon a new decade of his life.  I was going to post 30 pictures of him, but as with candles, I think that might be overkill.  Instead, enjoy a small timeline of our life together.

Spring break, 2004

July 5, 2008

September 14, 2010

March 12, 2012
Happy Birthday, my love.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Urban Parks Reprised: The Comeback Kid


Back when I wrote my series on urban parks, I called out a particular park located on First and Florida NW "truly terrible".  I stand by that statement.  It was dirty, rundown, close to the street and seemed to attract lots of dubious childless adults.  And then, as though The Man could hear my disdain all the way down at City Hall, the park was closed for renovation.  It reopened a month ago, and thankfully, I barely recognized it.  It is a block and a half from the twins' house, which is perfect since I cannot pack that many girls into our little Toyota Camry.  We have been there a lot lately, and not surprisingly, I have some thoughts.

The good:
  • Lots of swings for bigs and littles, all enclosed within the same area as the playground.
  • A nice miniature climbing structure for the toddler set.
  • Horseshoe pits, which make great sandboxes.
  •  Spongy rubber flooring, my favorite kind when it comes to playgrounds.
  • Fences with gates that latch, and only one access point, away from the street corner.  At the corner, a revolving gate makes for exiting but no entrance.  So far, everyone I have seen at the park  has been there with their children (or, in my case, someone else's children).
  • A random circle of astroturf, perfect for shadow plays (see below).

The could-be-better:
  • The toddler playground is nice, but the big kids have this strange web-like climbing thing.  Without slides, they come over to the toddler area, and not all kids are as Elijah-concious as the twins and company.
  • Not very many trash cans.  So far, there hasn't been too much trash, but time will tell if this will stay true.
  • Broken water fountain.  Since we started going right after the re-opening, only one of the water fountains has been working.  That is okay, but the fact that no one has fixed the broken one makes me wonder what will happen if the other one goes ka-put. 
All in all, this park certainly deserves the most improved player award in my book.  (Sorry, that sentence had a lot of cliches.)  The proximity factor looms large, and I have no doubt that we will be spending a lot of time at this park in the summer.

Oh, yes, Elijah also wanted me to tell you that he likes the bells.


PS Aren't Noelle's new glasses the cutest?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Juicy-Juiced


Back before I was a big-time (haha) paid food blogger, one of the perks of writing for Endless Simmer was that sometimes I got to sample various foods and drinks.  I think the best was when I came home to find a box of Korean dumplings sitting on my porch packed in dry ice.  Elijah enjoyed watching the ice evaporate in the sink as much as he enjoyed the dumplings.

Recently, I was fortunate to be able to try some fancy-pants sparkling juice from a company called Spindrift.  Unfortunately for them, a few weeks later I was also fortunate to sample some not-so-fancy-pants sparking juice from a brand you may have heard of, Juicy Juice.  I mean, sure, the Spindrift was probably a little better, but was it five (or more) times better, as the price would indicate?  I think not.  Kinda like the tea I sampled a while back.

Anyway, to read my full post, hop on over to Endless Simmer and check me out.  And, Mom, I bet the first paragraph will be your favorite.

Friday, April 13, 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, April 12, 2012

Horses, horses, horses, horses....


When I was considering what to write about today, I realized two things:
1) The pictures for my original intended post are terrible.
2) I have yet to really write about the high point of spring break (at least of from the perspective of B and B.)  

And so, without further ado, I bring you:  Horses!  Actually, it was mainly one very gracious horse named Pumpkin Pie who was the recipient of most of our attention (and carrots), but we enjoyed watching the other ones play in the field, too. 

(On a side note, for some reason Brianna says "hearse" instead of "horse", which was great when she told people that she was going to go ride a hearse during spring break.)


Brianna was terrified of the farm dog...

 ...but for some reason the much larger horse was just fine.  
Note her characteristic zen-like expression.
 
Elijah did not get to ride a horse, but there were plenty of other things to play with, like rocks and horse brushes.  Also bling.

 This is how Brittany felt waiting for her turn.

And this is her getting back on after falling off the horse.  Not metaphorically.

A big shout out to Patricia for taking lots of pictures and playing in the rock pile with Elijah while the twins rode around.  Thanks also to Becky Duncan, owner of Pumpkin Pie and endlessly patient riding instructor.

The next day, my allergies made me pay for my roll in the hay, but it's a week later and still B and B's number one topic of conversation, so I would definitely say that it was worth it, sneezes and all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Semi-professional


 As my longer-time readers know, I sometimes moonlight as a food blogger at Endless Simmer.  Up until last week, this had been a labor purely of love.  Ever since I answered a call for new writers on ES way back in October of 2009 (with this post), I have written about three stuffed pumpkins, confessed quite a few kitchen (ahem) screw-ups and had the chance to review some delicious goodies.  ES set me on the path to blogging, for which I will always be grateful.  Plus, their readership is WAY bigger than my personal one (though undoubtedly not nearly as good-looking), so it has been a way to get my writing out to a wider audience.

Then, last week, I got some very exciting news.  Because Endless Simmer's readership has continued to expand, all of of lovely contributors will now be getting paid (!) for our submissions.  It's not a lot, at least by, I don't know, most standards, but it is considerably more than nothing.   More than the amount, though, is the idea that somebody is actually paying me to write.  I have always considered myself a writer, particularly since I began blogging in earnest, but now I am, like, you know, a professional writer.  At least a little bit.
Sorry if this post is a little scattered.  I am, if you can't tell, quite excited about this whole prospect.  Also, it's late, and I spent way to much time trying to do something with pictures that never actually worked. In lieu of something cooler, enjoy a few pictures (to the left) from ES posts past.  You can find the actual posts here, here and here.  And, check out my very first paid post here. (Which, by the way, is a picture actually taken by Kurt.  I guess I should share some my exorbitant profits with him.)    Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Things I'll Miss About DC: Eastern Market


It is becoming increasingly clear that our days in DC our numbered.  What exactly that number may be has yet to be determined, but I know it won't be too long before I utter my first sentence beginning with, "When I lived in Washington, DC..."  With that in mind, I am trying to pay careful attention to what I love about my fair city, to make sure I take it all in with delight before it is time to move on.  

Certainly, on a list of my favorite DC places, the beloved Eastern Market would be near the top.  It is one of my mom's favorite places as well.  And why not?  It has everything you need for a lovely Saturday morning in April.  The local(ish) produce has started rolling in, beginning with strawberries (see above) and my favorite green, arugula.  I finally ate the last of my own, so I was happy to be able to replenish my supply. 

Kurt wanders around snapping pictures, while Elijah and I take advantage of the multitude of free samples.  In addition to produce galore, there are craft vendors peddling their unique wares.  We were all particularly partial to the flying pig.


And that's just the outdoor part.  Inside, stalls are jammed with mouthwatering goodness, from homemade ravioli to every part of the pig imaginable (sorry, flying friend) to some very tasty looking chickens.   Even though the only things we ever actually buy are hot dogs, it's fun to look.


As for Elijah, he is content to be strolled around, munching on apple slices and pointing to all of the "me-ohs".  (That's tomatoes, for those of you not fluent in Elijah-ese.)  And when he tires of that, there's always plenty of coffee-stirrer-drumming to be had.


Monday, April 9, 2012

He is risen!


Truly He is Risen!

And yes, because it was Easter, it was also time for our second annual family picture.  Here was last year:

Life (or at least picture taking) was much easier when Elijah was a year younger.  Sure, he isn't looking at the camera, but he is sitting still.  The top picture was one of the only successes from this morning.  Here are some of the outtakes:

Squirmy worm
What camera?

Are we done yet?  Cuz I am.


Friday, April 6, 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, April 5, 2012

Spring Break Continues: Dyed Egg Ephemera


I was all set to do some painting with the twins and Patricia today, but then I realized, It's almost Easter!  Yes, the holiday has pretty much completely sneaked up on me this year.  The egg dyeing idea was specifically brought about by this post on The Artful Parent.  I had planned on trying out some sticker art, but the kids got carried away enough all on their own.  I did use Jeanne's proportions for the dye, 3/4 c. water to 2 T. white vinegar, plus a generous amount of food coloring.  


Before dyeing, the kids colored the eggs with regular crayons.  What I failed to realize until we started was that the eggs were still so hot that the crayons started melting on contact.  This was actually kind of cool, though, and made the crayons go on much more smoothly.

Even Elijah got in on the act.


After the coloring, we dipped the eggs in the dye using plain old tablespoons.  Surprisingly, we had only one major splashdown.  


Brianna made my favorite egg of the day, which had a lava-like appearance to it.  


An hour later, at lunchtime, the kids (Elijah included) proceeded to eat almost the entire dozen eggs.  

Thank goodness for pictures!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Night at the Circus

Image taken from erinmorgenstern.com

 
"Inside, the tent is dark-walled with an immense, iridescent white structure in the center.  Baily can think of nothing else to call it.  It takes up the entirety of the tent save for a raised path along the perimeter, a winding loop that begins at the tent entrance and circles around.  The floor beyond the path is covered with white spheres, thousands of them piled like soap bubbles...The tower itself is series of platforms swooping in odd, diaphanous shapes, quite similar to clouds.  They are layered, like a cake.  From what Baily can see, the space between layers varies from room enough to walk straight through to barely enough to crawl.  Here and there parts of it almost float away from the central tower, drifting off into space."- The Night Circus, pp. 200-201

Some books, like The Hunger Games, are a sprint to the finish, pages quickly turning to reach the thrilling conclusion, to know what happens next.  Others, like most everything by P.D. James, are a lovely stroll though the countryside.  The last one took me three whole weeks to read, which is a long time by my standards. 

Then, there is The Night Circus.  How can I describe it?  It is a delight to all of the senses, a kind of ramble through a Willy-Wonka-esque wonderland.  I'll admit that it took a few chapters to hook me in, as the shifting narration style was a bit off-putting at first.  Quickly though, I was torn between not wanting to put the book down and not wanting it to end.  

The plot was fine and held together despite requiring a small suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader.  But that was beside the point.  This book was truly magical.  I felt as though I was present at the circus, taking in every wonder and joy along with the patrons.  When attempting to describe to to my husband, the only comparable book I could think of was The Time Traveler's Wife, but even that comparison didn't feel quite right. 

I realized a few days later that a more accurate comparison would be to The Phantom Tollboth by Norman Juster, one of my all-time favorite books.  I am a highly visual reader, and both that book and The Night Circus have created indelible images in my memory.  There are so many books out there that I would like to read, yet I would read this one again.  From me, that is perhaps the ultimate compliment I can give.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break begins: The Pizza Parlor


When I asked Brittany what she wanted to do over Spring Break, her first answer was, "Go to the pizza parlor!"  I couldn't help laughing a little inside because aside from this one 5-year-old girl, I do not know anyone who regularly refers to a pizza-serving restaurant as a pizza parlor.  Probably because no one else has called it that since the 1970's.  


What can I say?  Brittany is just awesome like that.  Also, she makes great facial expressions while pretending to talk on the phone. 

Actually, she calls such a place a "pizza parlor" because of a particular book that they read at school called Trashy Town.  The title is suspect, I know, but if you ever read the book, I promise that you will spend the next week chanting the refrain under your breath.  "Dump it in.  Smash it down.  Drive around the trashy town."  Brittany and I still like to shout it for old times sake.  Here are a few more pics for your enjoyment: 

Brianna was all about the pepperoni pizza, eating as many slices as me.  I am not exaggerating.



Patricia enjoyed herself as well, despite her facial expression in this out-of-focus picture.

And of course, Elijah was his usual garbage-disposal self.  Brittany helped him accessorize in the car.

Tomorrow it's babysitting time, but Wednesday we'll be back to Spring Break fun.  I'm thinking maybe we'll do some painting.  

What do you think, have I completely lost my mind?

Monday, April 2, 2012

This Weekend By The Numbers


Movies viewed: 1 (Bridesmaids)
Books-that-will-certainly-be-made-into-movies read: 1 (The Night Circus)

Parks visited: 2 (Rock Creek Park and Park 4)
Flowers picked: Many

Bowls of soup eaten: 2
Pizza slices eaten: I stopped counting at 4.  What?

Pineapples dissected: 1
Unitaskers used: 0 (sad face)

Days till Spring Break: 0 - The chaos fun starts today, ready or not!