Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Winter (Spring) Walk

It sure feels like spring is here. We had a lovely Valentine's weekend, with lots of backyard play, cupcakes, cards, flowers (handfuls of quince lovingly picked with tiny hands), raspberry lambic, linguine and meatballs, and an impromptu day trip to the beach with perfect weather.

One of my favorite unintentional benefits of blogging is being able to go back and see what I was photographing and/or writing about 1-3 years ago. As I was loading in these photos I found these photos below of Gianna patting the broccoli growing in our front yard, taken three years ago when Gianna was not yet two. How is it that she will be five in about six weeks and will be starting kindergarten next fall?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bright Points

My sweet boy somehow came down with two different viruses simultaneously (which means he has two types of rashes at the same time) plus a runny nose and a fever of 103 which may or may not be related. Sleeping is hard. Frankly, the non-sleeping hours are hard too. It's amazing the things I can accomplish while carrying a 32 lb toddler that is acting like a wet noodle. So as not to dwell on negative things, here's a list of things that are making this week a bit better:

-this morning's sunrise
-the quince (one of my favorites!) blooming in our backyard
-my pressure cooker helping me go from dried chickpeas to hummus in about an hour
-Daniel Tiger
-homemade muffins
-the weather forecast promising temperatures in the low sixties tomorrow
-this peanut sauce recipe, although next time I'm going to try adding some cornstarch to thicken it
-those curls

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Mealtime Magic

The view from my sewing studio. Can you see the kids through the branches?




Sleeve beginnings

Well, the rain has returned but happily the outdoor play has remained. As I try to get my studio organized I discovered that I can see the kids playing in the backyard through the window. I'm crossing my fingers that this summer they'll spend more than 30 minutes outside and I'll be able to actually get some sewing done while they are playing. I'm not holding my breath though...

After having many battles over mealtimes and snacks I sought out the wisdom of Ellyn Satter. Her book has eliminated many of the struggles we've been having. It's common sense advice, but apparently I didn't have that common sense. Now instead of waiting for the kids to come into the kitchen, rummaging for a snack, I put out a plate of food and announce snack time midway between lunch and dinner. She recommends putting out a variety of food and then letting the children serve themselves. You get to choose what you serve and they get to choose what they eat and how much they eat. When I put out the snack pictured above I was amazed to see that the pineapple was devoured first, then a few bites of cookie, some snap peas (Gianna insists that they are to be eaten like shelling peas, despite them being snap peas), and then finished off their cookies. And then, much to my amazement, they left the extra cookies on the plate! Since I wasn't the gatekeeper of the cookies it didn't turn into a power struggle. I firmly believe Gianna would have asked for, and eaten, a second cookie if she hadn't had the freedom to choose another for herself or not. Since it wasn't about control, she opted not to eat it. It was SO EASY! I take the same approach at mealtime. I put everything out on the table, let them serve themselves, and don't talk about the food at all. I have been shocked at how much more peaceful dinner is when I'm not continually suggesting eating another bite of broccoli or whatever, and they mostly eat a lot of good food. True, last night neither of them ate the braised baby bok choi, but it was a bit slimy and bland so who could blame them. This approach has really changed our days for the better. Hooray!

I've finished the body section of the Fimma and have just begun the sleeves. Knitting all of that blue was tedious. I'm so happy to be moving on the something else!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Almost February

It has been unseasonably warm here for the last week or so. Almost everyday after school we have returned home to polish off the last few bits of the peppermint ice cream I made for Christmas on our very sunny front porch. Usually this spring tease comes in February and we call it the February Fake Out. I've heard others referring to this as June-uary, but usually June-uary is when it feels like January in June, which sadly isn't unusual around here.

Knitting in the sun while the kids forage for bugs, buds and other things has been such a rare treat. After buying the yarn for this sweater months ago I'm so happy to have finally begun my first fair isle sweater, the fimma. I was nervous, but it turned out to be really easy! It's just stockinette with various yarns. Another half inch of blue to knit and then I get to start on the sleeves. This one is for Gianna and then I'll start one in a darker blue for Dean.

Spring is dropping hints all over our yard. Despite wanting to plant a bunch of bulbs and change all sorts of things, we decided to do nothing now and see what spring has in store for us. It's always exciting to see what a new yard reveals with each season. We have at least four camellias here. I was so delighted to discover that one has striped flowers! In fact so far only one striped flower has bloomed. All of these other pink flowers are from the neighbor's yard. Our other camellias haven't blossomed yet, but we're having fun pulling apart their buds, trying to discover what shades of pink their flowers will be. As for the bulbs coming up, I think we have some variety of lily, daffodils, and spanish bluebells. The quince, one of my favorites, is budding, and the magnolias are getting ready too.

I've been reading and listening to a few books. I read American Savage (I love Dan Savage!) and am currently reading Neil Patrick Harris' autobiography. I finished listening to The Goldfinch a couple of weeks ago. It was so consuming. I still miss those characters. Today I finished listening to Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming, also really interesting. I love how it is an autobiography but also a mystery. His voice is so lilting I'm considering downloading other books he has read just to hear his voice some more. I've just started listening to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I'm only an hour or so into it and I'm already inspired. I love how she challenges her reader (listener) to figure out what kind of life they want to live. It's good to have a goal in mind. I'm glad we've already gotten rid of a lot of our stuff before listening to this book. Hopefully now this book won't feel too insurmountable. I've just finished watching the first eight episodes of Outlander and have gone back to read some of the first book again. I read that book when Gianna was just 18 months old (a lifetime ago!), so it's nice to have a bit of a refresher.

Monday, January 26, 2015

December recap

December went by in a blur. Here it is almost February and I'm just getting around to December... We started off the month with a certain little boy turning 2! It was a birthday we'll never forget. Ten minutes before his party began the power went out and stayed off for the next 17 hours. There was a windstorm blowing outside. A neighbor's tree came down and knocked a power line out as it fell. It was kind of magical to have a candlelit party, but by bedtime the magic was wearing off and the cold was setting in.

Christmas is one of our favorite times of the year, and this year didn't disappoint. We started off our first holiday season in our new house by chopping down a tree from our backyard. It was quite a Charlie Brown tree, but it was perfect. A small house needs a small tree. We baked peppermint cookies, and I even managed to make a buche de noel and peppermint ice cream for Christmas Day. While the marzipan mushrooms were really easy to make, I think I'll go back to the meringue next year. They're just so much prettier!