Monday, March 31, 2014

A Poem, a Recipe, and Little House on the Prairie

We have been having a fun week with friends and visitors coming through the house.  It certainly helps keep our spirits warm, even when there is still snow (!) on the ground outside.  There's my 9 month old niece Grace, who is such a cutie pie and does little stunts like, during her nap here at our house, climbing out of her carseat, over the baracade that her mama built up out of couch cushions, and into the bathroom, all by her little self.  An adventurer like her parents, that one, and sweet as can be.  And there's Irene holding Clara, or Dorothy: hard to tell from the picture, and I never remember!  I guess Dorothy?  I think I'm holding Clara above, though.

This week, Zosia and Lily have taken on the personas of Mary and Laura from Little House on the Prairie, which means that Ben and I have been Ma and Pa (Hugo is Jack the bulldog, Clara is baby Carrie, and Dorothy is baby Grace.  See, there's a character for everyone!).  I have found myself saying things like, "Oh, Charles!  These prairie hens are delicious!" and that sort of thing, and there was actually one dinner where we convinced the children that in olden times, children were not permitted to speak (or sing, chant, hum, quarrel, etc) at the table and they actually complied.  What a strange dinner that was.  I must admit I prefer the chatter of little children.

Since Ben does not play the fiddle, like Pa, I have been convinced to play my flute every evening after dinner for dancing purposes.  I have never selected my repertoire based on dance-ability, and I must say, I like it!  There's nothing like playing music with two lively little ballerinas twirling around.

Zosia wrote a little poem for March, and (with her permission!) I thought I would share it here in honor of the last day of this crazy month, because it is just so darling.  When I asked if it was okay for me to share it on my blog she said, "I want to have many poems and be famous on your blog."  Alright, then!  Famous on my blog it is.

And Melissa inquired about Black Bean Brownies, which are an old school family favorite.  I know, I know, they sound crazy and weird, but they are really tasty, especially with the addition of chocolate chips!  Lily's godmother Lauren, who is a nutritionist, taught us the recipe, and we have shared it with many friends since!  So here is the recipe for your enjoyment and experimentation.

Bean Brownies

1 cup black or Romano beans, pureed with liquid
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking powder (I add this)
1/2 cup canola oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
* ~1 cup chocolate chips (I add these)
Non-stick spray

Spray a 13X9 inch baking pan with non-stick spray. In a mixing bowl,
combine beans, sugar, flour, cocoa, salt (and baking powder). Add oil,
eggs, and vanilla. Beat on low speed or by hand, scraping down sides of
bowl until smooth. Stir in walnuts (and chocolate chips). Pour batter
into prepared pan, spread into corners and smooth top. Bake at 350
degrees F for 30 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out
clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 24 servings.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Roly Poly

Roly poly little things, those babies of ours.  Plump, yes, but also literally rolling around!  Front to back, back to front.  They have made the "big role" just once each (Dorothy, front to back, Clara, back to front).  But put them on a horizontal surface, and they will start to reach and turn and try so so hard to roll over.  Three months to the day tomorrow, blue eyes, and a fuzzy head of short, light hair (Clara's looks darker, as she lost less of her dark baby hair: it's a trick to telling them apart), they are such lovely little babies.  Very sweet and mild, and filled with the most varied conversational squeaks.  I feel like I've had the most satisfying intellectual interchange after a few minutes with their "oohs" and "ahs" and "eeee!"s.  Lily and Zosia are the masters of imagining what the babies might be trying to relate at any moment, and are content to sit next to them and chatter away, while Hugo prefers to try to hug and kiss as much as possible (which, much to his chagrin, is not nearly enough).

We've all been working our way through a cold the past couple of days, and the babies have still managed to be quite chipper.  Oh, except the other night.  I had pulled Clara into bed with us, and she was limp and asleep, nursing just the littlest bit.  The room was quiet.  These nighttime feedings, you resent them as a first time parent, but as a parent of many older children, there's something so beautiful and serene about them!  A totally quiet house, and one sweet little baby nursing.  Not a bad deal.   (I should add that over the past month, I have almost entirely been nursing the babies one at a time.  It's easier for me, they nurse very quickly, and they are mellow enough just to hang out while their sister is nursing).  Anyway, a totally quiet house, and just like that, Ben sneezes.  A single sneeze.  One sneeze, and before I can even say bless you, Clara opens her mouth and just starts screaming.  Not crying, screaming.  I had to nurse, hold, rock, and console her for almost a full hour for her to calm down.  Which was just so funny, because she really isn't too particular as far as babies go.  So do what you will, people, but seriously: no sneezing.  Got it?

Two big pots of chicken soup (have you tried some with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top?  Delicious), one constructed play villiage, one epic wooden train track, and many books in bed later, I do think we're most of the way back to healthy.  We have some black bean brownies cooling off, and I think that this three month birthday deserves a little celebration.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Creeks, Cowboy Boots, Cousins

My big sister and her baby girl are visiting this week from Haiti.  On Friday, we piled the whole gang into the car, and headed out to my parent's house.  The grandparents' house is always a magical place: our very favorite out of town visitors, an excellent creek for playing in, a playground, and a lot of candy and tasty things to eat.  I am always left in the dark about the quantity of this candy when the kids go over for a visit, because, you know, mothers are really just obstacles between the love of grandparents and grandchildren.  I know this is true, but will probably only really understand it when I (oh please please please) one day get to be a grandmother.  Oh, and you can also have the best cup of coffee in Northern Virginia, prepared by none other than my dad.

After we walked in the cool air, stomped in the creek in our fancy cowboy boots, and napped the babies, we got to see cousin Grace (will you look at that sweet smile, above!) crawling all over the place.  Unbelievable what a few months in baby time will do!  To think that the twins will be crawling in a few months is just craziness.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nothing new here.  You know, another winter storm, a few minor holidays, the last of this winter's colds (knock on wood).  Do not let the presence of green in any of the above photographs mislead you into thinking that we celebrated Saint Patrick's Day.  There was nothing green.  No green food, no green clothing, as my children pointed out to me on this morning after Saint Patrick's Day.  Not that I have anything against the holiday, but it's just somehow never on my radar.  I was always that kid who forgot to wear green.  Besides, these days I'm too busy (unsuccessfully) willing spring into being.

The children have gotten really good at going out in the snow.  They get geared up and out the door without me having to do much more than zip up their coats, their mittened hands being too clumsy.  As long as they're well bundled, they stay outside for at least an hour, digging and eating snow and that sort of thing.  Popcorn and hot chocolate is the chosen snack of snow days, and I'm not naming any names, but I always find a few kernels of popcorn on the bottom of a certain small boy's cup of cocoa.

And speaking of cold things, we saw Frozen this weekend, and it was really good!  I haven't seen a Disney movie in ages, but I have had two little girls serenading me, one another, and any other sentient being with Frozen songs for many weeks now (they went to see the movie with our neighbors when the twins were teeny newborns).  After a full week of living my daily life to the soundtrack of Frozen, we moved the cd player into the girls' room so they could enjoy it in a more... quiet venue?  But seriously, it was a cute movie, and even my sensitive kiddos loved it.

I'm making guesses as to what type of shoe wear will be required for the next few days.  Snowboots, rain boots, and then please please please sandals by Saturday?  Yes?  Spring equinox, pleas work your magic.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This and That in Pictures

Did I ever show you guys the cardigans I knit for the girls?  I had hoped to make something for each family member before the babies came, and finished just in time.  Now, taking pictures, that's another story.  Two tiny tea leaves cardigans (one of my favorite patterns for little girls).

Windows are open, and curtains are dancing with the gusts of wind.

Hugo is my kitchen helper, entirely adept at peeling carrots or chopping vegetables.  Did you know that you can cut a cross in the base of a brussel sprout to make it cook more evenly?  They're one of my favorite vegetables.

A March nature study, gathered and labeled by Zosia.  Having her at home during the day is like being with a good friend.  She is such a calm and peaceful presence.

Some new cups on the cup shelf and a nursing friendly dress, courtesy of the thrift store, and what might possibly be the best blueberry cobbler I have ever made.  The problem with winging it in the kitchen is that it's nearly impossible to replicate something good!  

These babies are *so* lucky to have big siblings all around!  Above, Lily keeping Clara entertained during tummy time.  Nothing makes these babies smile like their big sisters.