Friday, July 29, 2011

Dino Pops

If it has the word "dino" in it, it must be good according to my two dinosaur crazed little girls, and if it's green, then it must be related to dinos, right? My favorite parenting trick of the moment: Trader Joe's "Green Plant Juice" which has fruit juice mixed with things like broccoli powder and spinach powder, frozen into popsicles. Although be warned, it's a bit messy.

Which is why it's best either enjoyed while running around the yard in a sprinkler, or in the bath tub. A very wise mom once taught me about the magic of "popsicles and a tub" and I have remembered it ever since. Not only is it the solution to even the most grumpy day, but it takes care of cleanup all by itself! Brilliant.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday at the Little Table

They're always eating at our big table, so it seems only fair that once in a while we dine down at their level. So on Wednesdays, we eat our dinner entirely at the little table.

Since we're their guests, it seems only proper that they set the table, don't you think? (I adore Zosia's getup in this shot: shawl, purse, and only one braid in her hair)

But since it's their dinner, they get to plan the menu, which means something more kiddish than the usual around here. Last night the menu was chicken fingers, mac and cheese, peas and popsicles for dessert. Quite the dinner party with two very gracious hosts, I must say.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Merely a Flesh Wound

My children have developed a love of "ice skating." Ice skating in July, the cousin of Christmas in July, I guess. And what this means is they put socks on and run full speed in the hallway of the house (which has wood floors) "ice skating" from one room to the other. There tends to be a lot of laughing, shrieking, holding hands, and that sort of thing. Think hybrid of pairs skating and roller derby.

Yesterday I heard a huge thud followed by a proclamation of "Chin hurt." No tears, no crying, just a statement. And then the running resumed. I only noticed something had happened when I discovered some blood on a pillow (and on Lily's arm). Aha. Her chin had busted open, and this tough girl wasn't even going to pretend she was hurt.

A call to Ben, a trip to the ER, and three stitches later, she is just fine, and quite proud of her stitches and hospital bracelet. She didn't even cry when they were giving her stitches. Merely a flesh wound, I guess?

My Own Self

We have exited the land of an uber-attached 2-year old and entered the world of "my own self," where every task, no matter how monumental, must be attempted "by my own self."

Now I must admit, there have been many times that we have tried to suppress this urge towards independence. With three little kids in tow, there are times that we can't let sweet little Lily buckle her seatbelt by her own self because, quite simply, it would result in a full family meltdown to wait for fifteen minutes while she does so.

But slowly but surely we have learned to try to structure our lives around this little one's yearning for independence. This means that we allot more than twice as much time for simple activities just so that she can do it her own self.

And the ultimate treat for her is to surprise her with an activity that she can do by her own self that she might not even expect. Lily gave us a big huge smile when she puttered out of her bedroom to realize that her breakfast had been laid out with a little pitcher just for her to pour her milk by her own self.

I absolutely adore the look of complete concentration on her little face. This girl realized this was a big task and undertook it with nothing short of her utmost attention.

And yes, there were a few tiny spills, but nothing that a quick swipe with a washcloth didn't remedy.

We're not there always, but we're moving in the right direction. "By my own self!"? Sure, darling.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bookshelf 2.0

We've been trying to make a small selection of books regularly accessible to the girls. Of course we've always had books around, but usually on a conventional bookshelf (spines facing out). While this works well for an adult who knows what he/she wants, it can be difficult for a little one to even know what is available without seeing the cover. Our first attempt looked something like this:

a simple beam mounted to the wall. It worked as far as making the books engaging and accessible, but was far from kid friendly: Lily would get so frustrated trying to place the books back on the shelf just so so that they wouldn't fall over. So really, it defeated the purpose.

The week after we mounted this shelf, I saw this post, spied the bookshelf in one of the pictures, and thought: aha, that's perfect! So with my sweetest expression on my face, I approached Ben and asked if he would make me a shelf like that, pretty please. And just about all the women in this family know that as long as you say pretty please you will usually get what you want from Ben.

So here it is, the kid friendly bookshelf! I must say, as someone who is not very handy with tools, I continue to be impressed by my husband! And the girls were both quite tickled to wake up to find the bookshelf all hung up, ready to use.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Out to Dry

There is one thing I've been wishing for during these hot summer days: days when the thermometer creeps up to 100 degrees (!) and we do all that we can to stay cool both inside and out. We have been grilling out instead of cooking inside, staying in the shade wherever we go, and little Hugo has been temporarily removed from the pack to relax on a blanket under a tree, because boy can he generate some body heat when pressed up against me.
As a family with three little kids, one of whom is in cloth diapers, we tend to do a good bit of laundry. I would say at least a load a day, sometimes two. And all of that drying in the machine generates a good bit of heat! This morning Ben put up a clothes line in the yard, and it might as well have been Christmas morning, I was so happy!

Then imagine my elation when I discovered that Zosia apparently has a hidden passion for hanging clothes out to dry. She ran outside to help, she was so excited.

Look at that meticulous technique! All I can say is that the standard of household chores is going way up when this girl is old enough to take the reigns. I believe that sheet she's working on ended up with nine clothespins, by the way. Bring on the wind, that thing is not coming down.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

On A Pedestal... Sink

I have permanently resolved the question of where to put the baby in our teeny weeny bathroom when I am getting ready for a bath with him. I think the pedestal sink (lined with a nice soft towel) just might be cool enough to hang out in any old time of day. Notice the towel placed just so for modesty reasons. I'm sure a few years down the line, Hugo will say "Thanks, Dad" for that one.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cosmetically Challenged

Hugo and I went to the Farmer's Market together this morning, just the two of us. Apparently, the Friday morning farmer's market is quite the place to go to attract attention for having a sweet tiny baby: not once, but twice I had to agree with a little old lady who proclaimed that Hugo is the cutest baby she has ever seen (this is the stuff a mother's dreams are made of, I tell you).

I have been buying local peaches and tomatoes by the bag full now that they're in season, and just as I was paying for my peaches, I noticed a big bag at the counter with a sign next to it that said "Cosmetically Challenged Peaches: $1/lb" I didn't' even bother looking through the bag before I said "I'll take it," because what is better than a peach pie made from some wonderfully over-ripe peaches? And who minds a little bruise or worm hole? Certainly not Lily and Zosia, who ate as many slices as I put in the pies. And of course I doubled the recipe, because I will take any excuse I can get to visit Ben's work, and who can say no to a peach pie?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Travel Blessing

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

The rain fall soft upon your fields, and,

Until we meet again,
May God Hold you in the palm of His hand.

Sending all of our love for a safe trip, Irene and Robbie! XOXO

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eating from the Bounty

We have been enjoying the fruits of the season around here. Above: Plum Tomato Goat cheese Pie and Blueberry Peach Delight, both from the much loved Simply in Season. One day soon we hope to have the first tomatoes from our garden, but in the meantime some beautiful tomatoes from the farmers market will have to stand in (topped with some homegrown basil). And you probably recognize those blueberries from our picking adventure last week. It is a miracle I guarded enough to make a pie.

The adults in the house loved both, but goat cheese is still a bit too complex for the littles. Perhaps one day if we have goats of our own they'll change their minds?

And of course I had to give you a peak at my garden helpers: Zosia in her lovely gardening hat, Lily "watering" the garden, and Aunt Irene leading the whole crew.

What have you been eating, and what's growing in your neck of the woods?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}, blueberry picking-style


A lovely lunch of freshly picked blueberries, cold peaches, peanut butter and local honey sandwiches on homemade bread, accompanied by cold water. Just a perfect summer lunch.


I think that might be the first glimmer of a smile captured in a picture: not too bad for a three week old little guy (this little one has a lot of joy to share).


Here's our sweaty little princess, taking a big bite out of the first of five peaches. Two she ate, and then the next three she secretly grabbed when unobserved, took a single bite, and then returned to the bag of peaches. Luckily, there were plenty of people happy to eat a juicy bitten out of peach.


Having just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I had high hopes of picking enough berries to freeze to get us through the winter. Or perhaps to jar, a la Blueberries for Sal. But alas, given the fact that at least two of our pickers (not even counting myself) have a habit of *ahem* skimming off the top, if you know what I mean, we ended up with three pints of blueberries all things told. Just enough for a pie, perhaps?

I've never linked in to a {pretty, funny, happy, real} before, but always love scrolling through to see what everyone else has posted, so here's my first time joining in! Like Mother, like Daughter is just adorable, you should check it out!

round button chicken

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

these are a few of my favorite things

::all of these people. they are just the best

::when my sister stays with us and all I can hear are little children running around yelling "Rene! Rene!" and I am tempted to join the chorus

::reading with a newborn asleep on my tummy

Let's see, what else...

:: baking bread with Lily, who helps by eating handfuls every now and then

::going for a walk with just my big girls

::a "date" to the midwife with no one but my two boys: I still can't quite believe we have two of them now

::collapsing into bed in the evening and realizing that every minute of my day was very well spent

Friday, July 1, 2011

These First Few Days

The past few weeks have been sort of amazing. My body is feeling healed and energetic, dear friends and family have been dropping by with helping hands, a warm meal, or just thoughtful encouraging words. It has truly been a babymoon, and that has been pure joy: there's nothing like having the chance to get to know and love a new little person, marveling at the wonder that is creation.

But just as after the honeymoon, the very real work of building a marriage has to begin, after the babymoon, the very real work of building a family must begin. Which means that after several days of pure joy and bliss, I am once again humbled to my knees about how very real and challenging the work of nurturing and caring for three little ones is. There are the purely physical needs, of which there are many: feeding nourishing foods, making sure bodies are dressed and clean, the work of changing diapers and putting a newborn baby to sleep, all the while keeping big girls happy and engaged in some activity. And then there are the emotional needs. And oh my, despite the fact that a whole day can be spent simply tending to the physical needs, the emotional needs are where the real work is. Taking care and time and energy to make each little person feel as loved and adored as they truly are: this is the most important work of parenting.

I am at once struck by my own potential for growth (to put it generously) and by the amazingness of all of the women who have come before me and done this work with such grace. And grace is really what it comes down to: Francis of Assisi once said that "Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self." And for the thousandth time I am realizing that I truly cannot do this alone, and that all that is asked of me is that I give generously of myself in each moment and be forgiving of myself when I fail, which I will. And even in those moments that I look tearfully to Ben and say that I really don't think I am quite cut out for this, there is grace to be had in those moments, too.

And then somewhere in the mix, in these whirlwind, sleepy days, there are glimmers of such unspeakable beauty that I realize the purpose of this work that we do, which is, at its heart, so good.