Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Daddy and Iz (and Micah too)

There are many great things about Kurt's job, but the one that we have enjoyed most recently is the two weeks of paid paternity leave.  Micah was born at the tail end of Elijah's spring break, so most of those two weeks were school days, and that meant that the mornings could best be described as the Daddy and Isabel show.  Kurt is a doer, so each day meant a new adventure for the two of them.  The pictures in this post were taken at the Franciscan Monastery, a much-overlooked DC treasure.  It is beautiful there this time of year, what with all the flowers in bloom, and judging from the pictures, Isabel had to stop and smell each and every one.

Kurt is back to work this week, but I am pretty sure that their two weeks together has secured his place in Isabel's mind as Best Dad Ever.  Of course, I already knew that was his other job title.

And me?  Well, I got to spend lots of time with this face, right here:

Looks like life is pretty good all around.

I don't have any good pics of Elijah on hand at the moment, but just so he's not completely left out, here's a little anecdote.

Today at breakfast, Elijah was elucidating his House Rules, most of which involved cleaning up your own messes.  I guess my pleas have not fallen on totally deaf ears.  Rule #1 was the exception.  According to Elijah, what's the top rule around here?  "Elijah is the number one kid in charge." Big brother, indeed.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Three is a Magic Number

Micah Romero Runge
Born April 16, 2015 at 10:05 am
8 lbs, 4 oz., 20.5 inches 

He's a week old today, and we couldn't be happier to have him here.  Isabel's two favorite sentences right now are, "I want to pet him," and "I want to kiss him." Elijah helpfully makes crying sounds whenever Micah does.  And it only took me 12 hours to write this post.  Life with three kids, I tell ya.  Crazy fun.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Good thing Easter is six weeks long...

...because it means I am not technically delinquent in posting these photos.  Enjoy!

More to come.  Computer working slow and kids demanding needs be met.  Etc.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Who me?

I was going to save this post for Friday because I know that there are at least 7 things I could write about, but today really seems like the right day.  Maybe because Elijah cried for half an hour because Isabel got a tin pitcher from her atrium teacher and he "doesn't have ANY golden things" that are only his.  Oh my.

So, let's see, where to begin...

  • My children watch TV every day.  Every single one, plus sometimes twice on Saturdays.
  • While they are watching TV, I try to clean the house, but sometimes I just read funny blogs instead.
  • Two weeks ago, I vacuumed Isabel's room and left the vacuum in the hallway so I could finish the rest of the top floor.  After stubbing my toe on the vacuum for the fifth time or so yesterday, I just put the d--n thing away.  Other three rooms: still not vacuumed.
  • I am not the most diligent when it comes to bathing my children, and last week Isabel's hair was so greasy that I knew things had gotten out of hand.  Then, we went out in the rain, and I actually had the thought, Hmm, maybe this will help.  
  • With the dinner swap, I sometimes only actually cook food twice a week, and the other days, I just make everyone eat what is already in the fridge.  It reminds me of the quotation from Calvin Trillin: "“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” 
  • Elijah has eaten basically the same lunch every single day of this school year.  Meanwhile, his classmates who get school lunch are eating things like Ethiopian lentils and adobo chicken burritos.  
I am sure there is lots more I could say. (Unfolded laundry? Is that you calling me?  Sorry, I am unavailable at the moment.  Try back later.)   I'll save those thoughts for another night, though.  After all, there are dishes to be ignored in favor of more interesting pursuits

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Weekend Away


Thanks to a sweet Groupon deal, the four and 8/9ths of us headed out to Williamsburg, VA for the weekend.  I won't call it a babymoon because we brought the whole crew, and it was thusly not quite exactly as relaxing as relaxing can be, but it was a lot of fun.

 We strolled around Colonial Williamsburg, checked out the local Chik-Fil-A play area, and ate an obscene amount at a breakfast buffet.  Thanks to Elijah, four-year-olds will likely no longer be free at that particular restaurant.

 The highlight for the kids, though, and really, for all of us, was this amazing playground around the corner from our resort.  It had a pirate theme and was absolutely massive.  The weather was unbelievably gorgeous, and it made our trek out of the city worth it, even though we sat in traffic on the way back for a bonus two hours. 

Zip Line - Before picture

Zip line - After picture

Only a month to go until baby number three makes an appearance.  This trip, I would say, was a perfect last travel hurrah.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Funny kids

I'm in the midst of making a triple batch of black bean burgers, I have laundry to put away, and oh, yes, I would prefer just to go to bed.  So in lieu of a more substantive post, I give you this:

After dinner, Elijah cut up some cucumbers, then made himself a paper sandwich board to advertise his wares, complete with a drawing of him as a cucumber.  Needless to say, he sold out immediately. 

And a recent quote from Isabel:

Iz: I just farted in my teeth.

Me:  What?

Elijah: That means she burped.

Happy hump day!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Snow days in March

Last week, two snow days, 8 inches of snow, ice, ice, ice.  Today, 60 degrees and sunny.  

In like lion, indeed.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Toys I Love: Fischer Price Doctor Kit

One thing I love about Kurt's parents' house is that they still have all of the good ol' toys from Kurt's childhood.  Most of them are classic Fisher Price: the record player, the cash register, the Little People before they all became obese.

Fortunately for those whose parents/grandparents aren't the kind to hang on to things for 30+ years, Fisher Price has kept a few of the good toys around, basically unchanged, all these years later.  We've had the FP doctor kit at our house for awhile now, but it has suddenly been in heavy rotation, with lots of "check outs" happening daily.

The toys are plastic, true, but they don't make any noise, require batteries, or have a million tiny pieces.  I'm not big on pretend play myself, so it is nice to have some inspiration lying around.   Plus, it is always good to make sure all the stuffed animals are healthy on a daily basis.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, 8:47 pm

Kurt refuses to go to bed until 9.  An yet, does it really count if you just fall asleep on the couch instead?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This mom's favorite three-way (food swap, that is)

Dinner tonight: Celia's minestrone soup.  Buttery breadsticks not pictured.

Life with 2.75 small children is hard.  No doubt about it.  Wonderful, glorious, rewarding, love-filled and yes, hard.  So today I share with you one of my sanity saving secrets.  (See how I alliterated there?)  Once a week, I cook a giant quantity of food, split it three ways, and share with my friends Celia and Jill.  On a different day of the week, each of them does the same.  It's almost too crazy to work, but it does.  Last year I swapped with just one friend.  I think two is my limit, but who knows?  All I can say is that two nights off of cooking a week basically keeps me from losing my mind.  What's left of it, anyway.

For the curious, here's some of what we've made and shared this year:

Chicken curry
Taco lentil soup
Pollo verde con papas
Zucchini cheese pie
Mac and cheese
Tater tot casserole
Sesame chicken
Orange tofu
Pepperoni rolls
Tamale pie

And I am sure there's more, but no one took a nap today, so bedtime is nigh. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 Good Books That We Don't Own

Isabel "reading" with Elmo, post-bath
There are so many good kids' books out there.  There are probably almost as many terrible ones, but I'll let you find those on your own.  Or Elijah can help you find them because so many of them manage to make them into our library bag.  An easy reader based on Scooby-Doo movie?  Someone save me.

But back to the good stuff.  Ideally, we go to the library once a week, although Elijah's school schedule has definitely made this slightly more challenging.  We do own far too many books, which is why I have been trying to avoid buying more.  Instead, I've been replenishing our stash library-style.  The only bad part is that sometimes I forget which good books we've read after I return them.  Elijah has his own GoodReads page, which helps, but I thought I'd start recording some of the books for posterity here as well.  And I am sure Jenn will appreciate this post.  You're welcome, Jenn!

1. McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss - Continuing our trend of seeking out lesser-known Seuss, we came upon this book.   It's pretty long, which I appreciate more than Daddy, and the pictures of the various fish (the two-headed eel in particular) are very funny to Elijah.  A related warning - if you pick up a copy of Seuss's Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, beware of the ending.  Not what you might expect/hope for in a children's book 

2. I'm a Frog! by Mo Willems - For Elijah's second birthday, we had a Piggie and Elephant themed party, and bought him a complete set of the books.  Since then, a few more have been added, and we haven't kept up with his collection, so we got this new one from the library.  Isabel's preschool class has bit of an obsession with P & E, and this one is a particular favorite.

3. How Many Mice? by Michael Garland - I love math.  I haven't talked about that nearly enough on this blog.  It's true, though, and I have already begun plotting ways to get my children on board the math-loving train.  This books is perfect for that goal of mine, subtly introducing addition and subtraction with integers in the context of ten little mice and their search for food.  If you really want to math it up, read this book and use paper manipulatives to figure out the answers to the questions.

4. The Big Book of Slumber by Giovanna Zoboli - A perfect going-to-bed book, this gem has gorgeous illustrations and lovely rhymes.  It also includes lots and lots of animals, if you, like me have a child who is into that sort of thing (Isabel, I'm talking about you, ahem).  It is translated from Italian, and the translator certainly deserves some of the credit for its sweetness.

5. The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos - This cumulative story is written in Elijah's favorite language - Spanglish.  Pronunciations and translations are provided, but I suspect that this is a book that would be enjoyed most by those who, like me, fancy themselves a bit bilingual.  Kit, I am talking to you.

So, there's a peek into what's in the book basket this week.  Maybe I'll make this a regular feature.  Now, back to reading my own book until I can't stay awake any more.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Jumping with Joy

First off, sorry for the low quality of today's pictures.  The lighting was terrible, and I am sure there is a way to compensate for that, but we have new camera that I have no clue how to use.  Perhaps this Lenten blogging resolution will prompt me to learn to take better pictures.  Or I'll just keep making you, dear readers, suffer for my ineptitude.  Probably the latter.

Anyway, the past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind, mainly because nothing in the past 72 hours has gone according to plan.  Hideously loud fire alarm while at a restaurant with hungry children?  Check.  Baby shower nearly snowed out?  Check.  Poop and more poop, here there and everywhere?  Check.  (I'll spare you a more detailed explanation of that last one.  I did, however, have a lovely visit this past weekend from two of my favorite ladies, so that basically made up for all else that failed.

My point is, I had a lovely morning planned for Elijah and myself while Isabel was at school today...and then her school was cancelled.  We soldiered on with our planned trip to Joyful Jumps, with one unexpected Isabel in tow, and it actually worked out great because we were able to stay later than we would have otherwise.  The place was a little pricey, but really perfect for a cold and icy day, and Grandma Marty's Valentine's Day cash for the kids made it all possible. 

Tomorrow, supposedly Elijah has school and Isabel does not.  But I'm not banking on it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

{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, February 19, 2015

10 Things To Know About Me

My About Page could really use some updating.  And let's not even talk about my blog header.  I hardly recognize those tiny children.  But, for today, I will settle for sharing a few choice facts about yours truly.

1.  I really dislike bananas.  Elijah and I were reading D.W.'s Guide to Preschool, and apparently D.W.'s mom says that everyone can have one food they won't eat.  I choose bananas.  Ketchup is a close second, although I don't actually think it is food, so maybe I can have two things.  Do you have a least favorite food?

2.  If I had been a boy, my parents would have named me Daniel.  The same is true of my sister.

3. When I was a freshman in high school, I got frostbite from running barefoot in the snow on New Year's Eve.  This is still perhaps the dumbest thing that I have done, but at 31 years old, I think that's not too bad.

4.  I have an excellent visual memory.  I still remember exact details from books I read as a child, like when Ramona eats one bite of every apple in the house, and Beezus is angry but also secretly jealous, because everyone knows the first bite of the apple is the best.  On the other hand, my auditory memory is fairly terrible, so if I forget your name, I'm sorry.  It is your fault for not wearing a name tag.

5.  I did not lose my first grandparent until I was 23 years old.  I have a trove of memories of all of my grandparents, and I recognize what a precious gift that is.

6.  I hate grammatical errors.  I am sure that, because I am saying this, there will be at least one in this post.  It annoys me every time I see the sign on Isabel's  car seat that says, "Use headrest when car seat is forward facing, or when child's head reaches this line or weighes 22 pounds." If your child's head weighs 22 pounds, I sincerely doubt they need a convertible infant car seat.  You feel me?

7.  I may love grammar, but I am a terrible speller.  I like patterns, and if Words Their Way had been around when I was in school, I might be better.  Sometime during my adult life, someone pointed out that "definitely" is an adverb, and I haven't misspelled it since.  I still have to stop and think every time I write the word "tomorrow".

8.  I have 10 cousins, and none of us are the same age.

9. I am terrified of downhill skiing, and Kurt is not happy about this.  I love cross-country skiing, though, and it is basically the only reason I wish I lived in a snowier place.

10.  I am going to try to post on this blog every day during Lent.  My friend Kit is to blame for this overly ambitious goal.  I imagine I'll run out of post ideas fairly soon, so this may not be the last list of semi-interesting facts that I share in the coming weeks.  So watch out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Longest weekend ever

Parent-teacher conferences, President's Day and a bit of snow meant that Elijah had a five-day-weekend this past Friday-Tuesday.  Five days.  I should have taken the kids to Florida.  On Monday, we literally did five projects.  If not for Netflix, it would have been ten.  Kurt lovingly took the kids to Port Discovery for most of the day on Saturday, and yesterday the kids sledded on baking pan with their bestest buds, Nora, Bee, and Harriet.  This morning when I dropped Elijah off at school, the teachers looked quite well-rested.  The parents, not so much.  Today was a half-day, and there's no school again on Monday.  Anyone have five more projects we can do?

Saturday, Port Discovery lego land

Saturday, Port Discovery "bouncy sting" (Isabel)

Monday, robot hat

Monday, rolling jail for people and animals

Tuesday, pre-breakfast shovelfest

Saturday, February 14, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 41)
Hosted at ThisAin'

Yes, yes, it is Saturday.  But Elijah had no school yesterday and I was tired and, and, and, well, today is the day after Friday, so that's not so bad.  As for last week, it was barf city around here, so getting out of bed was hard enough, and sitting in front of the computer was nigh on impossible.  So.  Here I am.  

For book club this month we are reading An Unnecessary Woman, which is unlike most of what I have read before.  If I had to make a comparison, it would say it reminds me of the writing of Isabel Allende.  That is quite a feat, since she writes about her own life and this book is written by a man.  An Unnecessary Woman is the ficitonal autobiography of an elderly woman who has lived in Beirut her whole life.  It is not a page-turner, but that's okay because it is just so beautiful.  I do need to keep turning pages, though, if I hope to pass the book on to a fellow book club member with enough time for her to read it.

On the television front, Kurt and I are making our way through Sherlock and loving it.  At an hour and a half per episode, it is the perfect length for a weekend night.  Long enough to feel like a treat, but short enough to get us to bed at a reasonable hour.  Because, as we know, "sleeping in because it is the weekend" is a phrase unknown to children, or at least my children

In other personal literary news, I abandoned The Paying Guests halfway through with no plan to return.  This is a rare occurrence.  Usually I decide within the first few chapters if a book is worth my time, and once decided, I stick through to the end.  Not so this time around.  I don't generally like historical fiction to begin with, and at some point I realized that the book just wasn't getting any better.  I think I stuck with it so long because The Washington Post recommended it so highly.  Fools.

Today is Valentine's Day, and Kurt is expressing his love for me by whisking the children away to Baltimore for the day.  He knows the way to my heart.  I cleaned the house in his absence.  I know the way to his.  Soon we will all reunite for a family dinner.  Until then, I shall continue to enjoy the peace and quiet.

  “The cure for loneliness is solitude.”
—Marianne Moore 

"...followed by boisterous hugs from small children."
Lisa Runge 

For Christmas I got Kurt a spice subscription from Raw Spice Bar.  Tomorrow night, he and I are going out for dinner, so I think tonight it is time to try out the new spices using one of the enclosed recipes.  I'm thinking Punjabi Chicken Tikka Masala.

This has been very random.  I would apologize, but I'm just so darn proud of myself for posting something on this here blog that I won't.  Happy Weekend! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The mosquito (or something) that thwarted the quick takes

I had a good run.  What, was it two weeks in a row?  And then...

Elijah came home on Thursday with some innocent looking bug bites on his face.  By the time he woke up, his left eye was swollen shut.  Not only was I unsure of the exact cause, I also knew I couldn't send him to school looking so terrible.  So home he stayed.  And we had a lovely, unproductive day at home.  A freezing trip to the park, 52 readings of a terrible Scooby Doo book, and many snacks later, I fell into bed at an early hour.  I will try to do better this week.  Until then, here's a few pics to hold you over.

Friday, January 23, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 40)
Hosted at ThisAin'
I kept Elijah home from school on Wednesday.  He just seemed so gross and congested when he woke up.  Of course, by 9 am he was just fine, and decided that he NEEDED to make a cake for Daddy.  It was blue with cream cheese frosting and M & Ms, with a not-healthy helping of germy fingerprints.  Delicious.

Today Isabel's class went on a field trip to the fire station.  Fun was had by all, except maybe Henry who seemed unnerved by the actual up-close size of the fireman.  Hayes tried to talk his way into a turn sliding down the fire pole, unsuccessfully.  When Kurt asked Isabel what she did at the fire station, her reply was, "Eat".  Somehow, snacktime just tastes better when it is eaten in the firehouse kitchen.  

This week I started and finished Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult.  Jodi and I had been on a break for awhile after an intense relationship back in the early 2000s.  This book was one of the Washington Post's 100 Best Books of 2014, though, so I thought I'd see if the old spark was still there.  And wow.  You should read this book.  Trust me.  And after you do, call me, because I need to talk about it with someone.

Next on my list is The Paying Guests.  I have read two chapters so far.  I like it, but I am still awaiting the promised page-turning suspense.  So far, I mostly just know how must dust can accumulate in a house in the course of a week, as per the author's detailed description.  I strikes me that I should probably know this already, but I have a rather large blind spot where dust is concerned in my own home.

It seems that, at long last, I have officially caught the cold that has plagued my children and husband for the past two weeks.  I supposed it was inevitable when you consider how many germs are coughed directly in my face on a daily basis.  I am trying to drink as much water as possible, so that should up my nighttime trips to the bathroom into the triple digits. 

I have such a great love of children's books that I have contemplated turning this blog over to that topic entirely.  That would require actually blogging more than once a week, though, clearly it ain't gonna happen right now.  However, if I were to do that, I would totally have a series sharing lesser known books by well-known authors.  For example, right now Elijah and I have been enjoying  I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss.  In addition to the usually Seussian literary hijinx, there is a lesson to be learned: trying to avoid your problems will just lead to sore feet and a long trip on a makeshift boat with no toothpaste.  

What?  I have a picture of Elijah this week but not Isabel?  Must reconcile this problem immediately.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, January 16, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 39)

Unscented shaving cream: Best $2 I've spent all month

This has been a weird week, weather-wise.  Or, should I say, school-cancellation wise.  School was delayed two hours on Monday on account of freezing rain that never actually froze.  As a result, Isabel's school was cancelled.  Then, school was delayed again on Wednesday, on account of snow that totaled approximately .25 inches (or less).  Which means Elijah's school day started at 10:30 and ended at 1, as they do on Wednesdays.  Fed up with the ridiculousness of it all, I un-cancelled Isabel's school for the day, took Elijah with me and shook my head ruefully at what passes for severe weather around these parts.  

Isabel has been super into playing pretend these days, particularly with dolls, action figures, tiny pieces of paper meant to represent animals, etc.  In fact, I am writing this right now while she is awake (!) because there is some intense drama unfolding in her dollhouse.  I believe Grover is involved.

A quote from Elijah this week: "Let's see who can get undressed the most." I feel like this could be the beginning of a Monty Python skit that ends with people peeling themselves down to the bones or something.  

We are having people over for dinner tonight and I am serving leftovers.  Terrible, I know, but in my defense, we currently have a chicken curry, mushroom polenta, and bean burritos in the fridge that need to be eating.  There's something for whatever ethnic food one might be craving.  Also, I am going to make fresh (not leftover) kale salad, and chocolate cookies with ice cream.  So there.  

I am joining a new book club, and the book for this month is Everything I Never Told You.  It is like Reconstructing Amelia meets Snow Falling on Cedars.  I liked it, but man oh man was it sad.  Anyone have a funny book to recommend for my next read?  

As I have been typing this, Isabel has moved from her dollhouse to her second favorite activity, peeling oranges.  But guess what?  Her third favorite activity is not eating oranges.  Not by a long shot.  As a result, I have been getting 1000% or so of my daily value of vitamin C by finishing peeled oranges that I find around the house.  

Texting with other moms has been a sanity saver on these cold winter days.
Two of my favorites from this week:
From Shaina - "Breaking news: I think I like goat cheese more than Brie now.  I'm going to find more ways to use this delicious cheese.  How are you?"
From Jill: "Fyi it's only 9:15 and I've already eaten my breakfast plus 1.5 burritos, an orange and a cookie."
Thanks for keeping me company, ladies!

Friday, January 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 38)

I told my sister I would try to post once a week in 2015.  So far, well, not so good.  But here I am.  What she really wants is pictures so I will have to get on that, too.  For now though, here's something, which, I hear, is better than nothing.

It has been so cold here this week.  While I know, intellectually, that somehow I survived much worse weather than this throughout my formative years, I really cannot fathom how I did it.  Fortunately, as you can see in the photo above, Elijah has figured out how to outfit himself for this cold snap.  I am still working out my own system, which involved multiple pairs of pants and sadly, no shoes on the hands.  Someone has to drive the car, I suppose.

After five months and four different library check-outs, I finally finished The Goldfinch.  Whew.  Would I recommend it?  Depends on who you are, and how many books you want to read in 2015.  If the answer is 1.5, then maybe.

As a reward/mind break after The Goldfinch, I read Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty.  Not a Pulitzer Prize winner, to be sure, but delicious nonetheless.  I read it in three days.

I suppose I should write about my children before I run out of quick takes.  Let's see...Isabel is obsessed with going to school, and particularly seeing her friend Isley (pronounced Eye-Lee).  There was no school today for her, just like every Friday, and she cried.  One of her current favorite items is a banana bread scented candle from my mom, and on Tuesday, another non-school day, she brought it to me as said, "Isley wants to smell it.  Let's go to Isley's house." Crafty, that one.

Elijah has fully embraced the winter weather.  He seems impervious to cold, as evidenced by his standing at the front storm door naked earlier this week.  My apologies to anyone who happened to be driving on Rhode Island Avenue around 7:30 on Tuesday morning. 

I'll end with one more picture, for Sarah's sake.  I will try to post again soon, or at least next Friday.  Happy weekending!