January 30, 2014



This week he: had a few setbacks with his new bed and napped once in the old crib, working through it though / talked constantly about trains and built lots of new tracks / had more tantrums than usual, but also more sweet and silly moments (a week of extremes) / did lots of painting, everything is a train or a track with lots of smoke 

This week she: had a special brunch date with mama while her big brother was at preschool, her smiles make everyone swoon / started crying more about being 'left' or out of sight, even if we're just behind her back / loved being in the middle of her brothers train constructions and watching him orbit / stopped napping in longer stretches, even when held... 15 minutes and she's back up, yikes!

*I'm so relieved that our colds are (mostly) all gone this week, everyone is sleeping better, Little Smith is back in preschool (I had thought that two mornings of 9-12 was so short it didn't make much difference, but a week of being home sick made me realize I need those two mornings!). I have been trying to take better advantage of the fact that we live in a city, grabbing lunch out with the kids, enjoying the trains, checking out museums. None of this is very helpful for the budget, but it feels crazy good. We are all so much happier when we can spend most of those daylight hours on the move. I must hear, 'you've got your hands full' half a dozen times a day, but as I generally tell people, it's far easier than it looks. Most of the time!

January 27, 2014

Wood Block Train

The love affair with trains is in full bloom here. Entire days have been consumed with nothing but chugging choo choos and track constructions, Little Smith barely consenting to be torn away for a snack. Initially I tried to push back for some broader interests (it seems to be bordering on obsession), but hey... it's bitterly cold out there and at least the kid has a passion. 

A few weeks ago a small wooden hand painted train showed up at Little Smith's preschool. He wasted no time claiming it for his own and hoarding it all morning long. I knew we'd need to make a few trains of our own. I tried to enlist his help with the painting, but this kid wanted his trains to look more legit than his little fingers could execute. He knows what he wants that one! Still, this would be a great activity to do with your child and get them to tackle the painting, if they are willing. At least he chose the colors.

It's an easy little project, simply cut a 45 degree angle on any piece of scrap wood. We used a scrap of a redwood stair baluster, 5/4 (1-1/4" square) cut down to 8" lengths. Sand the blocks thoroughly, knocking of any sharp corners. Then get going with some paint, we used basic acrylics. 

If you want the details (windows and stripes) to be more precise, masking off with tape would make for some nice straight lines. James gave me a hard time for my wobbly work here. I was going for that hand worked 'primitive' thing, totally deliberate. Totally.

Little Smith is nuts for these things. I appreciate that they are so open ended that it actually does promote multiple uses, he stacks them and balances them like blocks in addition to the expected chugging (anything to move that brain away from trains for even a few minutes!). There's a pending request for an extra long commuter rail... if these wicked temperatures don't ease up, we'll have a small fleet before the thaw. Chugga Chugga Choo Choo!

January 21, 2014

2/52 + 3/52


This week he: moved into his big boy bed! totally seamless transition, he was ready / came down with a cold and was very very grumpy / ate his first marshmallow, and reacted with 'huh...' / sat on the dreaded potty for a bit (that's an improvement over throwing it) / loved seeing his footprints in the snow

This week she: fell asleep on daddy more times than in the previous five months combined / leaned to push off a bit in her jumper / came down with a cold and struggled to sleep, but was still a sweetheart / started making these funny gurgles and sputters that sound very content


Last week he: painted two trains in preschool / discovered 'thomas the tank engine' (i tried to avoid turning trains commercial, but this is a serious love affair) / carried a sprig of white pine home from the park and asked to put it in water / didn't get upset when i left to teach before bedtime (and let daddy put him night-nights for the first time in over 5 months)

Last week she: wanted to be held and carried at all times / started sitting more confidently in her little chair (still needs to be supported otherwise) / started getting up early and spending a half hour with daddy most mornings / grabbed a spider plant off the window sill and brought it right down on her head (ouch!)

*I know I said I was going to depart from the literal portrait, but I guess old habits...in other news we are all a little sniffly this week, and some of us are handling it with more grace than others (I won't name any names!). We are loading up on black elderberry syrup and trying to stay busy indoors without completely surrendering to couch potato status. My fingers are crossed for some clear noses tomorrow.

January 16, 2014

Carrot Ginger Pancakes

Pancakes are our standing week-end ritual. If we aren't traveling, at some point we are going to sit down to a late pancake breakfast. James is generally the chef which means I get to sleep in, so it's hard to know whether my affection is tied more to the extra rest than the tasty meal. Either way, I love me some pancakes. This version happily resides somewhere between sweet and savory, and is delicious (as most pancakes are!).

Carrot Ginger Pancakes: serves about 4
  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (plus) milk
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 c pureed carrot (about 2 large carrots)
  • 1 tbs minced candied ginger
  • butter or oil for cooking
Prepare the carrot puree {peel and chop the carrots into 1/2 inch chunks. steam until tender, 20-30 minutes. blend in a food processor or pass through a food mill.} Mince the candied ginger. Mix minced ginger into carrot puree. Set aside.

Heat a frying pan or skillet over medium heat.

Sift together in a medium bowl flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the milk, sugar, and carrot ginger puree. Mix thoroughly. If the mixture seems dry, add more milk as needed.

Add the flour mixture, in two parts, and stir until moistened.

Coat skillet with butter and adjust the heat as required. Use a ladle or measuring cup to spoon batter onto the skillet, I like to use about a 3/4 of a cup per pancake. When bubbles start to form on the surface of the batter, it's generally time to flip. Cook on each side until golden brown. Repeat, adding butter and adjusting heat as required.

These are obviously perfect for breakfast topped with your choice of apple butter, powdered sugar, honey, or syrup. They also make a nice lunch alongside a salad. We love to freeze pancakes between parchment paper and pop them in the toaster for a last minute snack (think frozen waffle!).

Our little pancake expert gobbled several servings for his after nap snack. He assured me these are every bit as good as daddy's, but let's keep that between us. I'm not willing to relinquish those extra twenty minutes of week-end sleep!

January 15, 2014

Details C1.01

dreaming of spring travels snow falling fresh bread and animal friends 'invisible new york' just us girls snow plow spotting second breakfast sunday reading together

It's been a long time since I assembled a collection of details. There are so many photos in my archives at this point that I am going to need to get very creative, or lose some sweet moments. I'll work it out somehow!

Our protracted holiday season has officially drawn to a close, and I finally have that light feeling of heading into a new year and fresh possibilities. I start teaching one night a week again tomorrow (I'm kinda sorta ready), and I'm taking a good look at those goals for 2014.

Although these days are short and the logistics of bundling up two kids are a drag, it really has  been a good winter so far. We've gotten Little Smith skiing, gone for a family toboggan ride, built a snowman (none of which was adequately documented). There's also been a lot of loafing around the house with the babes; much reading, choo choo training, baking, and even more eating. It seems Little Smith has taken to eating all day long. Accomplishing anything, or even feeding the baby, is becoming a challenge between the constant cries of 'I hungry mama!'. It's exhausting and expensive, but he's a tiny thing so I do feel obligated to keep the kitchen open on demand. 

I finally re-made a sourdough starter, having spoiled my previous one a few years ago now. I had forgotten how easy it is to turn out a loaf once you have that starter, and I'm newly addicted. The house may be a wreck and my emails may sit unopened, but there will be bread!

Sleep remains elusive; because of me, and because of them. I know I would feel and look so much better if I just forced myself to get into bed my 9PM one of these evenings. Maybe I could put in a little effort towards that goal for improved personal style... but it's 12:45AM right now and here I sit, prepared to be awakened at 3:30AM for a feeding, then start my day at 5:30AM when James gets up for work (he does try, but he is definitely not as quiet a a mouse. all three of us, meowing cat included, hear him loud and clear). Many days I do snuggle up for a nap, and that always feels sooo good. I will find a better schedule soon. It's time. There may have to be some rules laid down regarding my very loved iPhone, but somehow I am going to start taking better care of my body, sleep included. 

Good night!

*oh and sheesh is the bottom of that bouncer dusty! i'm off to swipe that sucker with a towel, some things are much clearer in a picture- i hope :)

January 9, 2014


a portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2014

This week he: didn't cry at preschool drop off / met a turtle and it crawled right towards him / kneaded bread dough all on his own / talked a blue streak / continued the love affair with trains / sang three songs over and over and over.

This week she: rolled more confidently (and maybe even off the couch, under her three year old brother's watch... shhhhh) / slept a little bit better / started cooing and blowing more bubbles / laughed at her brother a lot.


So, it's on! I'm doing this series again, although this time I am not restricting myself to focusing on the face. Hopefully that frees me up enough to keep things interesting. It's such fun to see the babes grow, and this project helps me edit down to a single photo for every week that might otherwise be lost in the sea of pictures (now that I am behind in blogging there are so so many that I wish I could share dating all the way back to the spring- maybe I will find a way). I'm excited for a fresh new year, and excited to see everyone else's new portraits as well. I don't always have time to comment these days, but I love to check them all out.

January 7, 2014


When you have baked yourself clean out of flour, puzzled through every puzzle, and worn your crayons to nubs... you have no choice but to bundle up your baby, take a deep breath, and say 'yes' when your three year old begs to go outside in sub-zero temperatures. And with frozen toes and stinging cheeks, you might be amazed by how beautiful your routine walk looks through a fresh coat of snow. Those curses and complaints you've been hurling at winter could start to soften, and recent fantasies of a more temperate place to call home may fade. Because no matter the cost or the hassle, a year without each season just wouldn't make sense. And when your kid plunges head first into a snow bank, coming up with a windburned smile, it might be a sign that he gets it too.

January 6, 2014

My Baby

Five months ago this giggling and drooling baby was a swell in my belly, an extension of my own body. Now I look into her eyes and there is a whole separate person, this tiny soul staring back at me. It's obvious, yet still surreal. I've done this before and knew exactly what to expect, but witnessing a child's first year of life is proving every bit as miraculous the second time around.

Soon she will sit, then eat, crawl and walk... I realize it's all coming, but my brain can't make the leap. I think forward to the summer garden and picture my perfect little peach in my arms, just as she is now. Of course the reality is that she'll be more independent, mobile, and getting into mischief. She will be completely different with every passing month. It's the cliche of parenthood that it goes too fast, but the love I feel for each new change leaves me both with full heart, and heartache.

Possibly because she is likely our last baby, or simply because I have the experience to know that it all ends before there is time for adequate appreciation, I am hopelessly grasping at every smile as though it could vanish. Tomorrow she might wake up transformed, older and different, and while history tells me that I will love every stage more than the last, I want more time with this little drooling mouth. 

It's an irrational thought, and I do look forward to watching her grow, to seeing the little girl  that will be waiting for me when the leaves drop next fall. I write this journal and take these pictures so that I can remember each crease and roll, and when they melt away, this will have to be enough. But right now, I get to hold this glorious baby, smell the top of her fuzzy head, feed her in the quiet black of night. I love her like crazy, and I'm so very grateful.