January 30, 2013

Details B1.03

garden planning family breakfast laundry boat the boss second blooms biggest 13 week belly in history snow morning stroll

*I wanted to thank all of you for your sweet congratulations. It was so wonderful to read each of your comments and feel the warmth of this community, a real treat!*

I realize that posts here have been sparse, adjusting to teaching at night again and trying to find my equilibrium has me generally sliding behind. It's important to me to document and share this time in our lives though, so I will be better! Starting next week... I hope :)

Today is unseasonably warm, it's almost 50 degrees (imagine!). Of course it's also raining on top of snow, and then it's all supposed to freeze.  You just have to love New England. I decided to spend the morning taking a long walk with Little Smith before the rain hit, and it was perfection to feel the fresh air in my lungs without the frigid bite. 

My favorite part of winter is usually snow boarding... but my midwife has prohibited me from going this season. I guess the worry is that someone could slam into me or I could catch an edge and have a big tumble. It's a small sacrifice to make and I do it happily, but it does make this winter less thrilling than most. Even the year I gave birth to Little Smith I was on the mountain seven weeks later... it's strange to sit a season out. Spring? Want to come sometime soon? I'm a wee bit bored.

Little Smith is trying to keep me entertained. His latest obsession is sitting in our laundry basket and pretending it's a boat. I played along for a while, paddling along, pointing out fish and ducks that we passed on our journey down the imaginary river... and it was so much fun that now it's almost impossible to get him out. Seriously. This afternoon he spent an hour in there by himself while I cooked lunch. An hour! He was happy as a clam and refused to leave, but I started to wonder at what point this could be considered neglect. 

Also, I'm already looking way too pregnant for thirteen weeks. It's kind of exciting to have physical evidence that we are adding this new person to our family (sometimes it seems like a dream), but I still haven't told many people and I'm starting to feel self conscious. With my last pregnancy, I was barely showing even at 5 months, what's going on?! Hopefully it's not just all the bagels I've been eating.

This week-end we are going to my mom's. It's going to be freezing there, but we're in desperate need of a date night out. I've been living in my pajamas and even if I'm still queasy, I'd like to feel pretty for an evening. Happy Friday!... oh wait... it's only Wednesday, oh well, I am prematurely declaring this week over :)

January 28, 2013

Project Little SmithS

slowing way down attempts at stomach settling craving citrus by the barrels

So here we are, after months of saying how 'sick' I am and not really wanting to say why, I am ready to share our good news... I'm pregnant! Of course we are thrilled and excited. Without taking away an ounce of that joy, I will say it has been a tough couple months. I've been sicker than sick, something I never experienced the first time around, and it's been a crazy challenge just to go about our daily life. I am nearing thirteen weeks and I had been pinning a lot of hope on turning a corner at twelve, that did not happen so now I've got my mind set on fourteen. Please, please feel better by fourteen weeks!

The hardest part of not feeling well has been trying desperately to still be a decent mama to Little Smith. I always knew that I wanted more than one child, but the last few years of growing a deep one-on-one connection with this little person has been the most fulfilling experience of my life. James and I talked a lot about the trade offs of expanding our family, and we do feel that giving Little Smith a partner in crime will be an incredible gift in the long run. Still, it was a big and emotional leap to decide to share my time, attention, and love... and I expected to have about nine months to adjust to the idea. Getting so sick so early has meant lots of compromises already that I wasn't really prepared for; more TV, ready-made meals, lots of disposable diapers, less activities and library sing-a-longs and playdates. It's really hard to feel like you can't be the parent that you want to each day or even do the most basic things that typically bring you joy (cooking... how I miss you!). 

BUT, all that said I am truly so very grateful and happy, we both are. Little Smith has no idea what we're talking about yet, but he's happy too in his own way. James has been great, cleaning and doing laundry until all hours of the night after long work days, and I am finally starting to get back to some of my old routines. I'm not completely sure if I'm feeling a bit better or just getting used to being sick, but hopefully it's a sign of less queasy days ahead. It's exciting to be pregnant again, and even more exciting to imagine meeting this new person in the heat of late summer!

January 27, 2013


a portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2013

My serious boy. He certainly has his silly moments, but when anyone attempts a big-goofy-kid-friendly hello, they are met with this look. Don't even try to make me laugh... although I just might... any minute now.

January 24, 2013

Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I do realize that this recipe flies in the face of many who have made New Year's resolutions to eat cleaner diets. I make an effort to eat nourishing and healthy food as much as possible, but as you may have noticed, when it comes to dessert, I'm an unabashed traditionalist. White flour, white sugar, chocolate? Check, check, and check. Oh yeah and plenty of butter too for good measure.

My philosophy is generally that if I make it myself and there's no fillers or additives, then just go for it. And since I don't eat meat and can't partake in so many of the traditional recipes that my grandmother perfected, baking is one place where I can replicate those recipes and share in that tradition.

So when Little Smith asked for banana and chocolate cake (inspired by the monkey's in his Babar book), it didn't take too much arm twisting for me to oblige, and I knew just the recipe. This cake is easy... and so good it's worthy of a little slip on those resolutions!

Banana Cake: from the classic recipe from 'The Joy of Cooking' (a family favorite, I've made this for many 1 year birthdays with just a dusting of powdered sugar or cream cheese frosting. always a hit!)
  • 2-3 ripe bananas (I usually use three because we have no shortage of over-ripe bananas)
  • 2 tbs plain yogurt (or sour cream in the original recipe)
  • 2 large eggs
  • grated lemon zest from one lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c flour
  • 3/4 c plus 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbs butter (room temperature)
Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

In a large food processor, pulse the bananas and yogurt just until smooth. Add the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla and process until well combined.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and beat for a few seconds. Add half of the banana mixture along with the butter and beat at a low speed to combine. Increase speed and beat for 90 seconds. Gradually add the remaining banana mixture, beating a few seconds after each addition and scraping down sides. 

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Let cool a few minutes in pan, then release and cool on a baking rack.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: from Instant Fudge Frosting from 'Smitten Kitchen'
  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 1/4 c confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (room temperature)
  • 3 tbs whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Blend the sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla in a food processor until well combined. If you want to decorate or write on the cake with white, set aside some of the frosting now. Add the melted chocolate and combine, scraping the sides as necessary. That's it! Frost and decorate the cake to your wishes.

I may have indulged in so much frosting that I'm still too full to thoroughly enjoy my cake (patience is a virtue, but not one of mine), but from the few bites I did try, it's just as moist and delicious as ever. 

I'm sure it comes as no surprise, but Little Smith was pleased as could be.

He even let me take his picture without protest which is rare these days, so you know he was happy. Of course when I told him he couldn't have a second piece the smile faded. There's nothing quite like cake, or the delicious combination of bananas and chocolate on a cold winter's day!

January 23, 2013

Getting Out

We've spent a lot of time cooped up inside lately, which is very unusual for us. We love the outdoors, even in the chill of winter, but being sick is making me a little bit of a germ freak / hermit. It seems like everywhere I go people are hacking, kid's have runny noses and inflamed cheeks... I know, I sound like a nut. So last Sunday, when it reached a balmy 45 degrees, we decided to make the most of the nice day and head to the very public and germ filled zoo. 

In general I have a complicated set of feelings about the zoo and animals, but Little Smith was so so amazed and delighted. I think the gorillas were his favorite and it was crazy to watch them, they are so human! I even let Little Smith press his palms against the filthy glass, fully embracing being out in the big wide world.

He has been studying the zoo map ever since and today when we went to the farmer's market he kept asking for the 'aminals'. I told him the market wasn't like the zoo and he said 'mama I go zoo!'. We've created an animal monster. 

I've been trying to keep up the momentum and make a point of getting out of the house each day this week. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 10 degrees, so we may just make it to the mailbox and back... I think that counts!

*please excuse my worse-than-just-rolled-out-of-bed hair here. i've been sick and lazy and... i'm working on it (mentally at least!).

January 22, 2013


amaryllis bloom / january 21, 2013

My mother gives me an amaryllis nearly every year and it's always such an exciting treat when it opens up. I try to get them to last and re-bloom, but usually they just send up leaves. Once I did get a slightly deformed squatty flower in the middle of the summer, I was so pleased with it.

We are mostly healthy in this house after a restful week-end and hoping to stay that way! Sadly Big Smith didn't get Martin Luther King day off, I could have used the extra day. I wanted to do something to recognize the holiday for Little Smith, but he seemed to young to understand any of the suggestions that I read on line. I think next year he will be old enough to 'get it'. Do any of you have good suggestions for observing MLK day with little one's?

January 19, 2013


a portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2013

On the mend; you can tell by the hair that he had a good night's sleep and is starting to feel a bit better. I am going to be so sad if I ever do decide to cut this crazy hair. It gets more insane by the day and I absolutely love it. I also love to see this smile come back after a few sick days. He's reading The Rainbow Goblins here. One of my favorite childhood books and a new favorite for him too!

January 18, 2013


Whenever I need a little pick-me-up in these dark winter months, I adopt a plant. Sadly, my track record with plants is uneven at best. I have a habit of withholding water, I'm not sure why, testing their survival skills maybe. Still, we have a few that are tough enough to overcome my neglect, and they put a smile on my face when I most need it. This little jade is our most recent addition. So far so good, I think she needs some pals.

Speaking of green, we're sick... again. I should say I am sick again since I'm the only repeat offender. Now poor Little Smith, who rarely gets sick, has a small fever and hasn't eaten in two days. It's the worst, but I'm just so sick of being sick that there isn't much to say. Things will improve around here soon, and I promise we've got some happier and more exciting adventures in store... 

... For now I am hoping to at least be back this week-end with my weekly portrait. I'm hoping Little Smith will be feeling brighter tomorrow so that I can snap a shot of his rosy cheeks. Stay healthy, cozy, and cuddly this week-end.

*oh, and look at this tiny guy helping me out with some ferns last year.

January 16, 2013

This Boy

This boy is truly a boy now, no more baby. He is talking up a storm, although often I am the only one who can understand his jabbering. His favorite subjects are animals and bugs and he still assigns everything a role by size; big dada, mama, or baby. It's not just a turtle, it's a 'big dada tootle', a 'mama beetle', a 'baby camool'. It's heart melting sweetness.

With more words also has come more frustration, whining, and tantrums. When I don't understand him or just refuse his demands he channels a campy horror film and lets out a crazy raspy 'nooo' before erupting into tears. I'm waiting for the day when his head spins around and hoping he learns to use his words and express himself more calmly.

'No' still tops his list of favorite words, and if you ask him any question you will be met with a little 'no'. Unfortunately it's tough not to smile and giggle because it's so darn cute... which means this could last longer than I'd like.

Frustrations and fits aside, he is generally such a patient and curious little guy. He can sit with a small collection of toys, rocks, or pine cones, studying them and finding new ways to entertain himself. He is far more focused and calm than the average toddler and I feel very lucky when I realize that we've just spent a half hour silently enjoying our own tasks.

He loves to help out in the kitchen, has a great respect for anything I label as 'hot' or 'sharp', and shares my enthusiasm for watching baked goods rise through that little oven window. It's better than TV.

He eats all kinds of foods, although he is still struggling with utensils and tackles even the messiest dishes with his hands. Fruit is his absolute favorite and if he even hears the word he'll reject whatever is in front of him and hold out for the good stuff. He is also a fan of tofu (toe-doo), broccoli (bocoli tees), and raisins which he calls 'nut' since his first exposure was with some nutty trail mix. 

After two years of a banana every morning he has decided he is completely done with them. Don't even let him see one. Maybe he figured out that they're not local and is voicing his opposition, but strawberries in January are awesome, thank you.

Although still cautious, he has been getting a bit bolder and suffering more bumps and bruises. Every injury, no matter how small, demands a kiss from mama. He will come running towards me with his hand on his tooshy or pointing to his toe, waiting for the magic kiss to make it all better. It's so cute and I know it won't last forever, so I'm really soaking it in.

He loves his stuffed animals and seems to find another one to add to his crib each day. Every morning when I go to lift him out, he scrambles around, hoarding all of the animals in a big ball between his arms so that they get freed from crib prison as well. His favorites are still the monkeys.

It's pure delight to see him able to communicate more each day, to share his own thoughts and ideas and to get to know the little person he is becoming. When I first held him as a tiny baby, I couldn't imagine ever loving anyone more, but the mystery of parenthood has already taught me that the love just grows and grows. I am so proud to call this little boy my own.

January 15, 2013


a warm and foggy winter's day, new york / january 13, 2013

We are freshly back from our trip to New York. We had a great time catching up with my cousin and her baby who were in town from Chicago, and we ended up staying longer so that I didn't have to brave week-end traffic, and just because we could. I took almost no pictures, went for lots of long walks in the fog, tried to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather without worrying that winter will be a thing of the past in a few generations, and indulged in having a TV in my room and an en suite bathroom all to myself. Of course Little Smith was crazy excited to see his dad when we got home (and I was pretty excited too!), but we had fun on our mini solo adventure. 

I am a little disoriented and feel like it should be Friday, but it's only Tuesday. Being a single parent through the week-end always tuckers me out for the next week and reminds me of how lucky I am to typically get that two day break from being responsible for every diaper, every meal, every whine and complaint. I'm also once again behind on all responsibilities, so much for catching up!

January 11, 2013

Details B1.02

unfurling breakfast table sweet snack miracle of shadows light toddler lunch mama style the ittiest of bittiest bathrooms an unusually toasty morning

This week was jammed full of me trying to get back to a normal schedule and stay on top of everything, and falling just a bit short. Things are still feeling sort of off pace, but at least I've been cooking again after a break and (thanks to James) our laundry is all squared away.

I am thinking it may take a few more weeks to really get back into my groove. 2013 can just start in February, which actually is my favorite month of the winter (and I'm already thinking about Valentine's Day because I really love it. I know that makes me a huge dork but it's just my favorite holiday and I don't care!). 

Tomorrow Little Smith and I set off on our very own mini road trip, just to my family in New York, but anytime I'm behind the wheel for over an hour it's a momentous occasion. I didn't get my licence until I was 25 and to say I am not a fantastic driver may be an understatement. I have improved a lot in the last couple of years, but my sense of direction is abysmal. In fact I've just returned from a little gathering with my former coworkers that took place less than a mile from my house, and I managed to get hopelessly lost on the way home, ending up two towns over. I don't know how I do it, but I'm crossing my fingers that Little Smith naps and I stay on course. 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!