Monday, February 21, 2011

The Sound of Laughter

I love the special relationship my girls have. This morning Elizabeth made Abigail laugh so hard that A was snorting.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Half Cake for a Half Birthday

My baby girl turned six months old today. How has the time flown by so quickly?

At six months old she can:
Sit unsupported and play with her toys
Smile, laugh and coo
Roll all over the place, in both directions
Push herself backwards with her arms, so we have to pull her out from under the furniture a lot
Giggle with her sister
Boing in her bouncy swing (often with sister jumping beside her)
Boing in her megasaucer (also often with sister jumping beside her)
Sit at the dinner table with us and play toys
Eat her own feet
Be worn by Mommy & Daddy
Sink her fingers into Nina's fur
Eat paper and straps
Smile at many people, especially if she's being worn by Mommy

And today she got her first two teeth!

We had a half cake tonight, to celebrate her half birthday. Well, Mom, Dad, & big sis did. Baby girl had some applesauce, which she found strange but interesting. Watching her explore her world is so much fun, and it's delightful watching the sister relationship develop. We love our girls so much.


It would have been easier to give medicine to the cats than to get my children out of the house on time yesterday, so we were late leaving and then the gas light came on, and I didn't have a cell number for the person we were supposed to meet. And I hate being late. I was never late to things before I had kids. Let's just say that there was an abundance of grouching in my car, most of it coming from me.

While sitting at (yet another) red light, I looked out my window and noticed two strangely familiar flags. And then I realized why they looked so familiar. I happened to be stopped right outside my old work, where for three years I had stared at those two flags out my office window while wishing and praying I could be with my children instead of at work. I really liked my job, but I missed Elizabeth so much.

It can be so easy to get caught up in the little stresses of life, and so easy to lose sight of the big picture. I am so thankful that I get to spend every day with my girls.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Outside in February

One of the wonderful things about Virginia is that we get these occasional warm days in the middle of winter, a chance to catch our collective breath between the slush and ice storms. It's 58 degrees today, warm enough to go outside for impromptu concerts, walks, and playing in the mud. Elizabeth found some wood scraps on the porch and made a "bench" of her own. An excellent afternoon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Day After Valentine's Day

Thank you to my husband for the lovely poem, and for the art on the dining room mirror. I am honored to be your Valentine.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Black Bean Soup

I came up with this the other night, when I wanted lean protein and lots of veggies for dinner. I also wanted to take advantage of a stretch of mid-afternoon quiet time to do the food prep, so I could focus more on the kids during the pre-dinner grouching hour. It's wheat-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.

Black Bean Soup

8 Servings

2 T olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

3 cans black beans (approx. 15.5 oz ea), drained and rinsed

2 c corn kernels

2 carrots, sliced into circles

2 stalks celery, diced

3 c chicken stock

¼ c lemon juice

½ white wine (I used Dr. Beckermann Auslese Rheinhessen)

1 t dried cilantro

salt & pepper to taste

tortilla chips for garnish

Over low heat, saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes.

Add beans, corn, chicken stock, carrots, celery, lemon juice, wine, and cilantro. Cover and increase heat to medium until soup simmers. Decrease heat to low and simmer 2 hours. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired.

Ladle into serving bowls and top with a scant handful of crushed tortilla chips.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Today I decided to make something warm and filled with blueberries. A special mid-week treat for my husband to say, "Thanks for working 6 days a week and only sleeping 4 hours a night or something crazy like that."

At lunch, Elizabeth and I perused cookbooks. Should we make a pie? A slump? A flummery!

We made the blueberry flummery in Keep Cooking the Maine Way by Marjorie Standish. It was delicious and I'd make it again, but the best part was that we had an excuse to say flummery as much as possible this afternoon.

One can substitute the word flummery in all songs containing the word "Figaro," by the way.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

To Spontaneous Playdates

Sometimes my friend says, "Hey, do you and the kids want to come over right now and have lunch? And I don't even know what we have to eat in the house, but the kids can make a fort with the couch cushions and run around in the basement." And sometimes that is just the perfect thing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making Valentines

Elizabeth and I have been very busy with construction paper and glue and markers and paint and stickers, making valentines for her class. The day may come all too soon when she wants the "perfect" store-bought kind, the ones with cartoon characters and a big one for the teacher. Heck, that day might come next week when she sees what her friends brought. So for now I will love that we make wonderful, messy, creative, perfectly charming valentines together.

This year they have heart-ladybugs on them with purple antennae and white eyes and many black spots.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Say What?

Our family is playing a game this week. If anyone catches me saying something negative, I owe them a quarter (and vice versa). We explained this to Elizabeth on the way to my brother's birthday lunch. So all throughout lunch (at which she was very well behaved, I might add), E kept leaning over and whispering, "I want to play the game," and I'd whisper back, "We are playing. As soon as someone says something negative, you call them on it and get a quarter. "

She waited and waited and waited, until she couldn't take it any more. She leaned over to whisper one more very important thing in my ear.




Sunday, February 6, 2011

Refreshed and Ready for the Next week

Tonight at our parenting-focused bible study, as we were sitting down to dinner, Matthew took both kids and told me to go to the other table and find some grown-ups to talk to. And I did. And it was great.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Joy of the Moment

At this moment we have:
Matthew making pancakes with Abigail on his back
Elizabeth and 3 cats zinging after a bouncy ball
And I got to shower all by myself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Taking Turns

There are plenty of days where I'd say my parenting is something of a disaster, with chaos and fussing from all parties involved. Happily, this afternoon was not like that at all.

We got to the "witching hour," that time around 4:00 when we all start to get cranky. Elizabeth wanted me to play squishy blocks with her, I needed to pick up the living room and start dinner, and Abigail wanted to roll around on the floor and look for things to put in her mouth. So I got out the kitchen timer.

We've done this before, and some days it works better than others. Today was one of the good days.

15 minutes of picking up led to:
A cleaned-up-enough living room for 15 minutes of me and E building castles with squishy blocks while A rolled around, which led to:
A consenting to go back in the carrier and E volunteering to help with dinner. We made the Chicken Tenderloin, Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew from The Washington Post.

I'm 34 years old and I still sometimes need to be reminded of the power of taking turns.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Essential Facts of Life

February themes at Elizabeth's preschool:

Groundhogs & Hibernation
Dental Health

Pretty much all one needs to be successful in love and life, right?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday, Elizabeth!

It's only fitting to begin this blog about joy by celebrating one of the greatest joys I have ever known. Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Four years ago today, when I first snuggled this sweet little baby against my cheek and fell instantly in love, I had no idea how deeply I had just been changed. Four years has gone by so quickly, and I'm thankful for each day I've shared with her.