October 30, 2013

Trick or Treat

happy halloween 2013

We might be attempting trick-or-treating for the very first time, or we might just be passing out candy. A certain shy little fox hasn't yet decided what he's up for, but he's very very excited all the same!

*and somehow it's already thursday. this week just slipped away from me... oops!

October 26, 2013

Pressed Leaves

Last week I took my baby daughter out for a walk, just the two of us. We did the usual loop, checking in with all of my favorite houses and collecting brilliant fall leaves along the way. We paused in the cemetery, where the giant maple trees glowed orange in the sinking sunlight. I listened in peace; the baby breathing against my chest, blue jays crying, traffic in the distance... perfect.

'Maamaa!', the familiar call interrupted the silence as my boys rushed through the cemetery gates to find us. They jabbered loudly about squirrels and acorns, chased each other along the paths, and added curled brown leaves to our collection... perfect.

All summer, I wondered what it would be like with a second baby. I worried that all of those quiet snugly moments I had enjoyed the first time around would be impossible with the wild energy of a toddler. And I was right, those moments are few. Becoming a mother again is completely different, and so much better than I ever could have known.

October 25, 2013


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

He has been waking up so early, we've had a full day before the sun rises. I had been confused about the time change and just realized that 5:30am is about to be 4:30am. Yikes!

Oh those tricky ways of baby sleep. She looks so peaceful as though she's settled in for a big nap, and then it lasts about three minutes. Luckily she wakes up with the most ecstatic smile every single time.

*part of Jodi's 52 series

October 21, 2013

Details B10.01

making birthday cakes for daddy morning tea (wondering if it's time to find love for coffee) red leaf and red wall driveway sleeping in his beloved pumpkin building the daily 'train' baby hat in the works evening walk happy birthday to james

We went to the library last week and when they told me our books were due in November I was startled. We've had perfect weather this fall and I'm thankful, but also nowhere near prepared for the short winter days ahead. I won't let my thoughts drift to the snow and clanging radiators just yet, for now I will look forward to carving pumpkins, a few more cider doughnuts, and seeing what Little Smith thinks of the spectacle of Halloween. Sadly no hand made costumes this year. I've been trying hard to pick my battles these days, and pulling an all-nighter to sew felt just didn't seem worth it. Next year!

James turned 35 this week and we celebrated by making him a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. Little Smith picked out his very own gift for pop, a Matchbox Jeep (wasn't that thoughtful?). He was so excited to give it to him that he was nearly trembling by the end of the day.

He has been loving preschool (twice a week), loving the changing leaves, and also driving me completely nuts almost every day. I know that three is supposed to be rough and we're seeing the signs of a challenging year already. He is so smart and funny and charms me to pieces, but boy can he scream and throw a tantrum when he doesn't get his way or is just plain tired. I'm hoping some of this is short lived... ready for an easy cycle here. He is adorable with his sister and so far hasn't directed any of his frustrations towards her, which is a relief.

Our baby girl is such a dream. I'm always hesitant to say what a pleasure she is because I don't want to jinx it, but truly she is full of smiles, sleeps well, rarely cries... the kind of baby that makes people want to have babies. She spits up constantly (Little Smith never spit up once), so lots of laundry is my one and only complaint. We are so crazy lucky! 

I am still feeling a little run down, a little behind on everything, and a little chubby in all my clothes... but so very content and grateful to be exactly where I am right now. 


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

Getting him to wear a hat is such a struggle... then he loves them once he finally gives in. I'm pretty sure he did the bulk of this walk with his eyes completely covered.

She is so full of light and happiness. Nothing is better than watching her smile. And sporting a onesie here that was sweetly sent to us from Cortnie who inherited it from Lauren... isn't this community fantastic?!

*part of Jodi's 52 project

October 18, 2013

Harvest Festivities

berkshire harvest festival / october 5, 2013

It just wouldn't be fall without our annual trip to the harvest festival in my home town. We don't have many family rituals, but this is certainly becoming one. Little Smith and I were excited about this trip for weeks, talking about getting pumpkins and prizes from the pocket lady, eating doughnuts and riding a pony horse 'all by himself'. He's reached an age where he is actually able to enjoy activities geared to kids, and it was fun to watch.

The petting zoo was a favorite, we had to return (and pay for) several visits. Little Smith is so gentle and sweet with animals. I'm grateful that he has a soft touch. I did see a lot of poking and pulling from well meaning kids, ouch! In fact at one point the baby goat made a break for it and was running free throughout the festival grounds. I didn't blame him, poor little guy.

I had some anxiety about our baby girl handling such a long day on the go. She loves to stretch out and is still a tiny thing. She hung in there though, and we gave her a break from the carrier on the garden bench while we ate giant plates of Greek food. I rewarded her for her patience by buying a little pair of wool booties- I'm fairly certain few things are cuter than baby booties.

And of course there was the pony ride. Little Smith told me he was going to be up for it, and honestly both James and I doubted him. He often gets nervous in the moment, especially when it involves a stranger picking him up and loading him onto an animal. He proved us wrong though, marching up the steps with complete determination and hopping right on. He's clearly having an amazing time. Can't you tell? That's my kid, sometimes he just won't smile even when he's thrilled. He was so proud of himself and talked about it for days, although recently he woke from a nap to let me know that next time he would prefer to ride a cow.

This happened too... our balloon lover was so happy to get that shiny red prize. Then dad tied it to his wrist and he totally freaked out. We still aren't exactly sure why, but he wanted it off and in a hurry. We then learned an important lesson, that James does not know how to tie a slip knot. The thing was totally stuck around his wrist and we were both sweating and trying to pick apart the knot while Little Smith wailed 'get it off!'. I'm thinking a book of knots may make its way into somebody's stocking this Christmas.

There you have it, another good festival. See last year here, and one shot from the year before here. Crazy how that time does fly.

October 17, 2013


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

Her first time in a dress. She immediately lifted it over her head... that's my girl!

This is the look of a nearly three year old turned loose at an airport. He thought the planes were giant toys, and I guess he was sort of right.

October 14, 2013

The Apple Tree

High winds last month sent one giant limb of the old apple tree in my mother's yard crashing to the ground. I gasped when I first saw the tree transformed. The shady spot beneath the canopy, where I spent countless summer afternoons laying down blankets to host tea parties for my china dolls, now completely swallowed in a web of branches. There was no repair possible, just tragic. 

Little Smith headed to the tree as soon as he was turned loose. He grabbed the small pail that my mother had set by the wood pile, instinctively knowing it was intended for him. Following the trail of apples scattered across the grass, he made his way to the tree and ducked beneath the cave of fruit studded branches. I could barely see him hidden in the leaves, but I heard the apples hit the bucket as the fallen limb wiggled and shook. A fort of low lying snacks, the tree's injury supplied days of toddler delight.

Change. The challenges and blessings that accompany change have been a repeating theme for me this year. It seems I'm constantly learning, resisting, accepting, and growing, even in the safety of my own backyard.

October 9, 2013


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

Her mesmerizing stare. Oh baby girl, I could just eat you up!

Wild man. Covered in dirt and apple-sap stickiness and half naked, despite the chill of October. His favorite way to be.

October 8, 2013

Miso Wild Rice with Winter Squash and Tofu

We are eating lots of simple meals these days, making the most of what's left in the garden and adding a little protein. I like to roast a big batch of vegetables when there's a spare hour and store them in the fridge to add to our dishes throughout the week. I also cook rice or quinoa ahead of time. It makes for a nourishing lunch with scrambled eggs or salad, and cuts down on dinner prep, when I generally seem to be running behind.

These flavors are made mild enough to be enjoyed by our increasingly picky toddler. I can't be bothered to cook separate versions of dishes, so we're all just getting used to more subtle seasonings. After decades of worshiping extra spice, I'm actually coming around to it. Of course any rice will work here, but wild rice is a nutty and wonderful treat. If it wasn't so pricey I would eat it constantly... yum!

Miso Wild Rice with Winter Squash, Tofu, and Kale: serves two hungry adults and a toddler :)

for the tofu:
  • one 14 oz container extra firm tofu, drained, excess water pressed out, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbs olive oil
for the rice and veggies:
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice (can be prepared in advance)
  • half of one medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • one small bunch kale, stems removed and chopped into 1/2 inch ribbons
  • few tbs olive oil for roasting squash
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbs light miso
  • 3 tsp nutritional yeast (or soy sauce)
  • 1 1/2 tbs water
  • 1 tsp brown rice vinegar
  • roasted pumpkin seeds to top
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rice and set aside covered. 

Cut the squash, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat and roast in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes (tossing half way through) until tender and beginning to brown. (I generally roast the whole squash this way and save the leftovers for other meals). Set aside.

Drain, press, and slice the tofu. Heat sesame and olive oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat and add the minced garlic and grated ginger. Stir for just a minute until the garlic is softened. Add the tofu and cook for 5 to 10 minutes as desired, gently tossing and taking care not to break up the cubes. (I have been enjoying my tofu less cooked these days, but many prefer to get it more browned. If you do want a more 'cooked' tofu, make sure to really press out the water by wrapping the cake in towels and leaving weighted between two boards before slicing it). Remove cooked tofu from wok and set aside.

Wipe the wok clean and chop the kale. Heat the sesame oil in the wok or frying pan on medium. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the greens are tender.

Meanwhile, whisk together the miso, nutritional yeast, and water until smooth.

Remove the wok from heat and add the cooked rice to the kale. Pour the miso mixture and brown rice vinegar over the rice and kale and toss to coat.

Plate the rice and top with tofu, squash, and a dusting of toasted pumpkin seeds for a little extra crunch.

We all love this basic fall meal so much that there's rarely leftovers. Cubed veggies and tofu always seem to work well with toddlers, and kale is not only James's favorite, but also the one leafy green that Little Smith enjoys (I credit this wonderful book). 

And if you're a sucker for baked goods like me, you can finish your healthy dinner by splurging with apple brownies for dessert. I have to stop myself from making them several times a week now- dangerously good!

*edited for a little more of the miso mixture at james's request. i did say it was mild!