Friday, May 30, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 30)
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The picture above comes from an event so amazing, so noteworthy, that really, it deserves its own post.  But since 7QT is the only sure thing around here, I figured I had better share while I have the chance.  Earlier this week, Elijah and Isabel played together for twenty minutes.  Elijah passed Isabel stickers and she stuck them on paper.  It was glorious.  Echoes of things to come?  I hope so.

Elijah has one week of school left.  This year has really flown by.  We had such a great experience at St. Jerome's that I am truly sad to see this year wrap up.  I won't miss all the driving, but I feel blessed that Elijah's first year of school was so wonderful.

In addition to the families, teachers, etc, what I will miss most about Elijah going to St. Jerome's is Isabel and my weekly trips to Shortcake Bakery.  We have become quite the regulars, and I have even done some of the signage for the various baked goods.  We might not be there as often next year, but I am sure we will find a way to work it into our schedule.

This year, I am judging the young adult category for the annual Kindle Book Review contest.  I have to read 20 books in three months, which is quite a lot, but I am still honored to take this project on.  I started yesterday, and so far, so good.  Just 19.25 books to go.

 One obstacle to reading all those books is that there are always lots of other books I want to read, too.  For book club, I just finished Out of My Mind, a middle grade book that I highly recommend, and an author whose books I have reviewed favorably in the past just sent me a copy of his new book.  I will never get a tattoo, but if I did, it might be this one:

Image source

When I was googling around to find the picture above, I also found this:

So true.

Kurt is putting Elijah to bed right now, and I have already done (most of) the dishes, which means I should not be writing this.  I should be using these precious free moments to wrap up book 1 of 20.  See you next week!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Three things

Inspired, as I am quite often, by SouleMama, today I bring you three things that I am thankful for right now:

One delicious-smelling sausage and red bean stew simmering away for dinner.
Two children sleeping at the same time for a whole hour (and looking downright angelic doing it).
. . .

Two children who slept at the same time for a whole hour (and looked downright angelic doing it).
. . .

Three good books (real, paper books!) on the night stand.  If you count Let's Go!, which Isabel would insist that I do, were she not napping at the moment.
. .
Okay, I guess that was technically five things.  What can I say? Gratitude abounds. Feel free to leave your own list of three (or five) things you are thankful for today in the comments.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Strawberry sweetness

Here's something to know about me:  I am not so great with family traditions.  I like them, and if they are executed by someone else I will gladly partake.  If it's left to me, though, well, um...

However, there is one exception: strawberry picking.  Every year since Elijah was but a wee lad of one-half years (that's six months in normal-speak), I have shlepped the family out to Shlagel Farms for our annual strawberry eating, picking and wearing extravaganza.  And by doing this one thing annually, I have seen my children grow and change before my very eyes.   Last year, I even documented our trip on this very blog.

This was, for example, the first year that Elijah actually helped pick strawberries in a way that contributed to the family take-home.  He ate his fair share, but he picked two quarts that did not immediately enter his mouth.  Isabel, content last year to sit and bask in the the light of the summer sun, was impatient to walk up and down the aisles hand-in-hand.  (That was two weeks ago, and now she's happy to toddle all on her own.)

After the picking, we picnicked at the Shlagel Farms playground, full of strawberries and sun.  This time last year, Elijah was more or less indifferent to the Iz.  This year, the flavor of their relationship is more of a love mixed with antagonism (but the love generally wins out). 

Strawberry picking may be one of the few family traditions that I have thus far managed to reliably pull off, but goodness, it sure is a sweet one.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 27)
Saturday Edition
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In the garden last summer

Yes, I know, it is Saturday, so this should not be called 7 Quick Takes Friday, but you know what?  This is my blog, so too bad.  The main reason I did not post yesterday is that we were fortunate to have our dear West Virgina friends in town, so we spent the day with them out in Woodbridge, Virginia.  Also, last night I watched Parks and Recreation instead of blogging.  So funny.  Sorry blog.

So, as I mentioned in (1), we spent yesterday in Woodbridge, Virginia.  It is only 45 minutes from our house, but I could not shake the feeling that I was Very Far Away from Washington, DC.  When it was time to go home, our car may as well have been a spaceship because I felt like we were traversing a great distance from suburbs to city.  Huh.

On Thursday, I went to Politics and Prose to listen to a panel of readings from the editors of the literary journal N+1, which included Chad Harbach, author of one of my very favorite books.  It is a very weird feeling, sitting just ten feet from someone and thinking things like, "You are an amazing writer," and "When I grow up, I want to be you." I thought about going up to talk to him afterwards, but I chickened out.  Maybe next time. 

Speaking of favorite books, last June I wrote about a bunch of mine, but of course there are many more, including my most favoritest book ever, that I did not get to.  So, next month, which is also June (oh how the time flies) I am going to do that again.  Something for you all to look forward to, no doubt.

As I was walking from Politics and Prose to the metro on Thursday night, I realized something.  I love living in the gritty part of the city for many reasons, but there is one thing that the posh side of town has on us, for sure: the smell.  If I closed my eyes during my stroll through Tenlytown, I might as well have been in a forest.  So green and flowery.  Here in Eckington, we are more diesel fuel, cigarette and other, less legal smokables.  Oh well.  Not like I have a spare million lying around to move me over there, and even if I did, I'm not sure if I would.  But I might.  For the smell.

I am sure by now, you have heard of Dangerdust, right?  So fun.  They sell prints of their work on Etsy, and I am thinking that one might be just the thing to hang over Isabel's crib, but its so hard to choose.  Thoughts?

It is 70 degrees and sunny here, so its about time I stopped sitting in front of this computer and headed outside.  We have decided to extend our gardening adventures into the local community garden this summer, so some planting is certainly in order.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

If a weekend goes unphotographed, did it even really happen?

This picture was not taken in the last five days

Kurt and Elijah took the camera with them on their big trip, and my phone takes grainy, blurred shots that cannot be downloaded, so I have no evidence of Isabel and my adventures this weekend.  Believe me, though, they happened.  I know because I was there.

Tomorrow(ish) I will post some pics from the boys' weekend away, but until then, here is a list of what you missed around here:
  • Isabel hung out with, at various times, her friends Tommy, Abby, Sarah, Charlotte, Theo, Ethan and Max.
  • I reorganized the kids' closets.  (Actually, I'm pretty proud of that one, so I will probably post an "after" picture for you all to admire).
  • Isabel ate her own weight in guacamole and beans at Chipotle.
  • I read Where's Mazie? at least a hundred times.  Then ending continues to catch me by surprise every time.  Really, she's in the house?  Not the pig pen?  Odd.
  • And, a bunch of other stuff, because, let me tell you, when you go from two kids to one, the time just seems to multiply, to the point where a two mile walk to Trader Joe's seems like a lovely way to kill a few hours.  
Hopefully your weekend was equally full to the brim!

Friday, May 16, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 26)
(Girls' Weekend Edition)
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I miss this face.  And it's only been two days. 

I had some really great intentions centering around writing a blog post every day this week.  Heh heh.  But, given that it's just me and Iz around these parts and my little lady took a nap for ONE WHOLE HOUR today, it's a small miracle that I am even writing this post while it is still Friday.  So, you're welcome.

Yes, it is just Isabel and me this weekend because the boys took off yesterday for Peoria/St. Louis and will not return until Monday night.  In addition to non-napping, Isabel has been enjoying this together time by not letting go of my hand all day long.  It's been fun(ish).  To give my fingers a break from her tiny clutches, we took a very long walk to Trader Joe's.  Mr. Google tells me it is 2.2 miles each way.  I believe him.
We went strawberry picking this week, which deserves its own post that includes pictures from years past.  However, Kurt took the camera with him on the trip, and I unwisely did not upload the pictures before that happened, so y'all are just going to have to wait till next week to experience the joy that was Isabel smearing her entire body in strawberries.

I continue to make my way through Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norill.  I am currently in the midst of Vol. 2 (of 3), with only 600 or so pages to go.  It's quite good, but not a page turner, so I estimate I will finish sometime in 2014.  Beyond that, no promises.

I am currently under the spell of a sorceress by the name of Erica.  Okay, she's just my ordinary human friend, but she has inspired me to attempt to eat crazy-health for the next two weeks.  Today was day two, and it has been going surprisingly well.  Mercifully, dark chocolate is on the approved foods list, and with that to look forward to each evening, I think I might just be able to make this work.

This probably deserves it's own post, too, but it is really weird going from two children down to one for the weekend.  If I had to choose one word to describe it, I would have to say...boring.  I know, I know, I should be enjoying the sweet reprieve from Elijah's constant noise-making, and believe me, I am.  But I think this weekend will also serve to make me appreciate the crazy-awesome of my usual life as well.

In the spirit of enjoying the quiet, I am off to watch Parenthood (the show) while eating popcorn and drinking root beer.  Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Smile! It's Monday

Just in case the beginning of the week is getting you down, I offer you a big of Isa-cheer.  The girl loves to walk - as long as someone is holding her hand (thanks, Grandma!)

And yes, this picture was taken in a cemetery.  I love urban living, but, well, green space can be hard to come by, and sometime you take what you can get.  But, back to the walking.  The thing is, she can, but she won't.  Unless, of course, she happens to be stomping her delicate feet across the spongy surface of the park.  Huh.  Stubborn like her mama, I guess.

Friday, May 9, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 25)
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I think we're going to need a bigger boat.
Right now, my house is overrun with ants.  Okay, overrun might be an exaggeration, but there are a lot of them, and if you know me, you know that bugs (and mice) are the one thing I just can't handle.  Cloth diapers?  Moldy, scary leftovers?  No problem.  But creepy crawlies, I just can't abide.  Yet I must, because the ants are willing.  They are just so numerous.  My nose is itching just writing this.  Let's move on.

On the recommendation of a friend, I am now reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrill.  I am enjoying it, and making good progress considering that it is 1000 pages long (literally).  The main thing impeding my progress is the sheer weight of the thing.  It is extremely unportable.  If ever there was a book to be read on the Kindle, this is it.  But I will persist.  And report back.

It is officially birthday party season.  Which is actually a weird thing to write, now that I see it typed out.  I mean, shouldn't children's birthdays be evenly spaced throughout the year?  And yet, we have three parties in the next two weekends.  Maybe it's just that Elijah is getting to the age where his friends have parties that he is invited to.  Either way, bring on the cake!

This week the city has taken on the admirable task of fixing the sidewalks around our house.  Not only will we now have a much smoother ride from our house to the park, there have been all kinds of construction vehicles visible from our front window this week.  The children are in heaven.  Isabel has added several new words to her vocab, most notably "big truck".

Speaking of the Iz, she continues to be stubborn in the area of walking, but has deigned to stand on her own for seconds at a time, particularly when she think no one is watching.  I almost caught her on video this morning, but alas, as soon as I turned the camera on, she decided she had some other, ahem, business to attend to.  Which, lucky for you, I did not film.  

Yesterday we got the exciting news of Elijah's acceptance at Mundo Verde PCS for next year.  Walking distance from the house and Spanish immersion?  ¡QuĂ© perfecto!

Of course, as the song says, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end," and we will be quite sad to say farewell to our friends at St. Jerome's come June.  The school has truly been a blessing to our family.  Somehow I imagine that we will still find ourselves in Hyattsville on a regular basis. 

Well, that's all she wrote.  Have a lovely week everyone!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Daddy time

I sat down to write my Blogging A to Z post (Letter P) today, and something strange happened, something that rarely happens to me: writer's block.  Fortunately, it has a known cause, at least this time.  For several nights now, the children have conspired to prevent any of the adults in this house from getting a good night's sleep, or even an okay night's sleep.  So, when I sat down to write today, my brain refused to cooperate with my fingers.  Here's to hoping that tonight is better.

HOWEVER.  You, blog reader, are in luck.  While I was blogging through the first half of the alphabet, several well-photographed events occurred that I have yet to share with you.  One of them was our first ever family boys weekend/girls weekend.  While Isabel and I jetted off to Chicago to visit my dear high school friend Emily and her darling new baby, Andrew, Elijah and Kurt lived it up here in DC. 

One thing you should know about Kurt and his family is that they are doers.  Vacations with them are both extremely fun and rather tiring.  So it is unsurprising that Elijah and Kurt did about 20 things in the four days we were gone. 

Although Elijah and Isabel love each other tremendously, there is such sweetness in getting to spend time one-on-one with Mom or Dad, isn't there?