Friday, January 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 17)

 Elijah's first parent-teacher conference was yesterday.  It was great to get a better idea of what he does all morning, since the only information he likes to share is what was for snack and who was or was not there that day.  It is still crazy to me that my baby is in school, and apparently keeping quite busy while he is there.

I know I have asked this question before, but what is the deal with Elmo?  Elijah is a big Sesame Street fan, so Isabel has certainly seen her share, but E doesn't usually care to watch Elmo's World, so Isabel has seen all of the monsters more or else the same number of times.  Yet, lady loves Elmo.  We have a stuffed Elmo doll, and every time she sees it, she lights up and yells, "Eh-mo!"  You've got to feel sorry for all the other monsters.  No matter how awesome they are, they will clearly never be in the same league as their small red friend.

I recently read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and I am now almost done with The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.  I loved/am loving both of them, but I remember hating The Grapes of Wrath in high school.  I had to read it the summer before my sophomore year, and I am pretty sure it nearly ruined my summer.   I realize that if high school teachers and college professors don't assign these books, people might never read them, but I fear that their awesomeness is completely wasted on the young.  Thoughts?  Solutions? 
Elijah and Isabel are in serious disagreement about the relative merits of various food groups.  Whereas Elijah is part bat and could subsist solely on fruits (and red peppers), Isabel is squarely in the carb/dairy camp.  Thanks to an unfortunate run of nasty diapers recently, she is off the dairy train for the moment, but that doesn't stop her from sitting in front of the fridge repeating, "Cheese" over and over.
The other day, one of the Christmas cards we sent out was returned to us because it was incorrectly addressed.  Elijah opened it and exclaimed, "Look!  Someone sent us a picture of our whole family!"  
This week I read the best book that I have been sent for review yet.  It is called The Power of Two, and if you have a tween girl, or still are one at heart, you need to acquire it asap.  Typically, I just catalog my reviews under my Book Reviews tab (above), but I think this review will warrant a posting on the blog proper.  Seriously.  So good.  And it only costs $1.99.  Amazing.

Wednesday was the big launch event for the campaign that Kurt has been working on.  The goal of the campaign is to end chronic homelessness in DC.  What I saw of the event was great, although we did spent 80% or so out at the snack table.  Congrats to my honey on an event well planned!  You can help with the campaign by signing the pledge over here.

Happy weekend to all!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chilly park time

Not gonna around here has been hard lately.  Freaking freezing, school cancelled, sick children, Kurt working all the time.  And so, this blog is gathering a bit of dust.  I hope to get back to it in a bigger way sooner, but until then, here are a few pics to tide you over.  See you soon.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Down and Out

Around these parts, we pay attention to physical milestones.  We know from experience that actions that come easily to some people can take hours of practice, help, and hard work for others to master.  Thusly, it was quite exciting when Isabel started climbing in and out of her wagon all on her own.  Uncertain at first, she persevered until it became no big thing.  It's all the more amazing when you consider how itty-bitty she is.  What can I say?  I'm proud of my girl.

In other news, Isabel learned how to read.

Just kidding.

For now.

Monday, January 20, 2014

P.S.  Click here to help end chronic homelessness in Washington, DC.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My New Year's Reminders: 2 week check-up

It's been two weeks(ish) since I sat down to create my Ann-Voskamp-inspired word collage for 2014.  A few things have come to my attention since then, and today I will share them with you.

My 2014 word collage

1) As soon as I finished, I thought of a bunch more ideas to include.  While the urge for revision was there, though, I reminded my self that these reminders were for just one year, and there were lots of them, so I needed to calm the heck down.  Next January, I can reevaluate, add, subtract, etc.  For the next 12 months, this is it.  Done.

2) I did not anticipate the psychological benefit of calling them "reminders" instead of resolutions.  If I resolved to do all these things, or even only a few things, and then I failed, that would be a serious bummer.  Instead, when I fail, it just means I need another reminder tomorrow, when I can try again.  Kinda like how Elijah needs many, many reminders re: Isabel and yelling/squishing/yelling.  But we are both trying.  This is what matters.

3) It seemed a little crazy to include so many different things on my word collage, but I am glad that I did.  On any given day, one thing or another will stand out as something to pursue more vigorously.  Thus far, the one that I have come back to most often is "Finish. Then start." Not what I would have predicted, but I can give you one concrete example of how it has improved my life:
When I put the laundry away, there is often a stack of items that belong downstairs: dishrags, cloth napkins, etc.  In 2013, my way of handling this was to put that stack on my dresser, with the intention of taking it downstairs on my next trip.  But this rarely happened, as my brain is made of Swiss cheese, so the stack would sit there until one day I would wonder, Where are all the dish towels?  Ah yes, on my dresser from three weeks ago.  Now, because I keep reminding myself to "Finish. Then start," I take the time to actually finish putting the laundry away, including taking the dish clothes downstairs right then, before I forget.

 So, two weeks into 2014 and I am still feeling the word collage.  What about you?  How are your resolutions going?

Also, just in case you were worried that I was undergoing a major personality change in regards to self-discipline (I can only hope), I did take a break from washing dishes today for an impromptu photo shoot (see top of post).  What can I say?  When pitted against Isabel's cuteness, no New Year's reminder stands a chance.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Christmas Pics (Post 3 of 3)

These are the last ones, I swear...but you know you love it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 16) - Music, Food for Thought and Thoughts on Food


Whenever I go "home" to my parents' house for Christmas (or shortly thereafter), my mom and I watch The Sing-Off via the DVR.  I seriously love that show.  Whereas I still haven't determined the difference between American Idol and karaoke, the people on The Sing-Off have serious skills.  In case you need proof, listen to this. But feel free to close your eyes if the Hunger Games-esque styling is too distracting.

I am mid-week through my post-holiday eating detox.  Partially spurred on by some persistent eczema, I have cut out dairy and ramped up the vegetation.  I am not following any particular diet, but I did find this article to be quite helpful. 

Also, I heard yesterday in The Diane Rehm Show about intermittent fasting.  Sounds interesting.  Has anyone tried it? Is it doable? Or did you start nibbling on your own arm by midday?

As a part of this healthy eating kick, I've been cooking from the Forks Over Knives cookbook.  I've liked the recipes so far, but my one gripe is that I wish the author wouldn't bother titling recipes --Macaroni and "Cheese"-- or similar.  The sauce would taste better if it wasn't being billed as cheese-like.  Because let''s be real:  there is no such thing as a good cheese substitute.  Call it tahini onion sauce or something, would ya?

I am still reviewing books for The Kindle Book Review at a rate of about one per week.  You can check out the reviews on my Book Reviews tab above.  Some of the books are pretty good, and some are just okay.  To ensure that I remember what good writing sounds like, I always reading something of quality at the same time as my KBR books.  I just finished Frankenstein and loved it.  It was my first time reading it, but I hear that lots of people read in in college or even high school.  If you read it way back and didn't like it, I implore you, try it again.

Since I am now done with Frankenstein and waiting to hear of the next book club pick, next up is The Grapes of Wrath.  I last read it the summer before my sophomore year of high school and thought it was quite boring, but now I am older and boring-er, so I have high hopes.

Out last book club pick was Searching for Zion by Emily Rabeteau.  It was the perfect book club book, in my opinion, because I never would have chosen it myself, but it was great.  I don't generally read much non-fiction, but I got really into it.  It is part memoir, part history, and all good.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christmas Pics, Part 1 (of 3)

I think the title of this post says it all.  So, here we go...

Tune in tomorrow for part deux...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Some thoughts for 2014

Warning: This post contains zero pictures of my children.  If that is why you stopped by (Sarah), then you are out of luck.  Try back tomorrow.  Onward...

Inspired by the amazing Ann Voskamp, I've decided that instead of just one resolution this year, I'd make twenty-five.  It sounds crazy at first, but hear me out.  First, how can I choose just one resolution when I am such multifaceted individual?  (By the way, so are you.)  Also, there is something about many reminders rather than One Big Resolution that seems less intimidating.  After all, I am bound to fail at something each day.  Such is the nature of humanity post-Eden.  However, with so many things to contemplate, I am bound to succeed as well.

I created my lovely little poster, Voskamp style, mainly for myself, which is why it contains lots of inside references.   That made creating it an exercise in itself because it made me reflect on the many areas where I have room to improve.  And sometimes just naming the problem takes some of it away, ya know? 

So this sweet work of art is hanging proudly on the side of the fridge where I can stare at it often as I cook and wash dishes, but since I spent so much time creating it (thanks picmonkey), I pretty much know it by heart anyway.  If, like me, you are inspired to create your own collage of new year encouragements for yourself, please share it in the comments.

Happy 2014!

I should probably explain a few of the more cryptic entries.

10-6= 8 - If I go to bed at 10 and get up at 6, I can get 8 hours of sleep.  Going to bed on time is not always my strong point, you see, so sometimes the math does not come out very well.

WWMMD? - What would Maria Montessori (who is my parenting role model) do?

Sister love - How can I show love for not just my bio sister, but all of the awesome women I know?

And lots more...but that's enough 'splaining for now.  Isabel is calling me to a picnic.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014


So much has happened since I last posted.  I even managed to take a few pictures over the holidays.  However, going through those many pictures and reliving all the fun seems like too much for me right now.  Instead, I offer you today.  We are at my parents' house, and Elijah is experiencing his first true snow fall.  There was a little snow on the ground in Peoria for Christmas, but it melted before we left.  Even though it was 10 degrees outside, Elijah and I suited up and went for a tromp through the back yard.  See the photographic evidence below.

Then, as I was working on this lovely collage, Elijah wandered over and was of course quite taken with all the pictures of himself.  We decided that he should create a collage of his own capturing today's memorable events.  I pointed and clicked, but the creative control was all his.  I can't decide if my favorite part is the caption or the random baby chick.