May 28, 2014

Down Time

We have been sneaking in some down time at grandma's. A little lounging on the grass, picking flowers, skipping stones in the river, and hunting for mushrooms seems just what we all needed to usher in the start of our summer. Splendid laziness!

May 21, 2014



This week he: was super helpful in the garden and planted his very own butterfly seeds / insisted on including his dandelion in the school picture and pouted whenever the photographer requested it leave the frame / loved wading in the stream and collecting sticks and rocks / started occasionally talking in a high and squeaky voice that is driving us all nuts / had this conversation with me before bed tonight: him: mama, I like you me: oh thank you buggy him: mama, do you like me? me: of course I like you, I love you silly him: why? me: because you are my favorite silly boy, why do you like me? him: because you're really beautiful (killing me with the sweetness lately, I mean he may be shallow, but I'm so sold!).

This week she: ate lots of dirt and mulch and sticks / started trying more to pull up on things (I'm realizing how little we have to pull up on here, not so much as a regular chair!) / had her first taste of chocolate and corn on the cob / became very vocal, she can clear a room with her squawks / had her 9 month doctor's appointment and measured 27.5" and 17.5lbs 

May 20, 2014

Another Brownie

The weather has been so intoxicating that I haven't been doing as much baking lately. Through all of those chilly and dark by 4PM days, whipping up some muffins or bread was a favorite way to pass the time. Little Smith is so good at helping in the kitchen, and especially loves measuring, weighing, mixing, and sampling. When he woke up requesting we bake a cake, I redirected his craving towards brownies, as I had the perfect recipe on deck to test out.

My food and baking mentor Linda (if you don't have a real life food mentor, I highly suggest you find one!), forwarded me this recipe claiming these brownies were both delicious and super easy. They succeeded on both counts, and made a generous batch to boot, so I wanted to share them here. 

Now you may remember that I once posted Thomas Keller's delectable brownie recipe (*in my early blogging days and before I realized it might not be good form to type out a whole recipe without any substantial changes- sorry Thomas, but I am certain anyone who actually tried that recipe ran to get the book because who could resist!). Those Keller brownies still take the cake for maximum indulgence, but these are much less fussy to prepare and a perfectly fudgey alternative. I think they may even be more kid friendly, at least if my kid is judging.

I followed Nick's Supernatural Brownie Recipe, which basically consists of melting together butter and chocolate, beating eggs with sugar, and then mixing it all together with a cup of flour thrown in. It was easy and fast enough to hold Little Smith's attention, and licking a spatula with melted chocolate was definitely a highlight. I actually skipped the parchment paper and just buttered my dish generously, and I was still able to scoop my servings with ease. 

There's nothing like a warm brownie for an after dinner treat. I only wish we were expecting company this week so that I wasn't faced with a giant platter of chocolate goodness calling my name. I am eternally powerless against chocolate.

And as luck would have it, I actually caught baby Roo's first accidental chocolaty bite on 'film'. She's very attentive with those crumbs and wasted no time helping herself. It seems she will fit right in with this family of chocolate lovers.

 * I hope to share more original recipes soon, but currently my creative energy seems to be channeled elsewhere. When we venture beyond roasted veggies and hard boiled eggs, I will be sure to document the moment!

May 19, 2014

Community Garden: Late Spring

Somewhere during the months of endless winter, we decided that this was the year our garden was really going to sing. Last summer I was preoccupied with growing, and then caring for, our new baby. James did a great job keeping up (and was very creative with a few of his plantings!), but now we are determined to eat lots of home grown veggies and involve the whole family. Of course the weeks of April and much of May have already ticked by, and despite our best intentions, we are running behind. We did make a good stab this weekend though, and I'm feeling like our garden may just be back on track.

It's certainly more difficult to get substantial work done with a nine month old baby and a three and a half year old boy pitching in. James often votes for splitting up and not bringing both kids along, but I love having them involved in the whole process (and I think after today he might actually agree). 

Baby Roo set up camp on her blanket and ate sticks, wood chips, and most likely one very large ant... I am sure there are many parents who wouldn't have been impressed by our level of monitoring, but she's a tough cookie. Little Smith has actually become very helpful, the kid does real work! It's kind of amazing. He added compost, sifted out rocks, and kept a watchful eye over his sister's stick consumption.

His favorite part was, as always, the watering. He just loves getting wet.

He made sure we all got a good soaking and screamed and laughed the way only a three year old can. I'm looking forward to a summer of dirt covered soggy little bodies, and lots of tasty veggies.

May 14, 2014



This week he:  had a mother's day picnic at school and rolled down the hill / helped daddy bake mama a giant birthday cake / waded in the stream and fell in. several times. / ate with chopsticks at the noodle place, we may just forget about forks / told mama almost daily that she looked bootiful (spring wardrobe is apparently a hit) / overcame a few fears and earned Percy the train for some toilet progress.

This week she: when do we call it crawling? she started doing something... but it defies description / discovered a love for egg yolks / got huge, she really seems gigantic suddenly / started sitting up in her crib at night and causing trouble / did her best to say 'cat', which sounds more like 'da'... but she means 'cat'. honest.

May 13, 2014

Through My Mind On A Monday

monday, 05.12.2014

I have a fear of large mammals in the water. I started to write that I used to have a fear of large mammals in the water, when I was a child, but I got so squeamish putting the words together that I realized it is still very much alive.

The summer after second grade, I went to an all girl's sleep-away camp for two months on a lake up in Maine. In the final week, we were treated to what was billed as the camp highlight, swimming on horseback. I think it was just a single horse and each of us waited and took turns, I know it was brief. I sat on the horse bareback while an instructor lead him into the water. I remember my legs getting wet as we moved deeper into the lake, and feeling slightly nervous but also delighted. Then came this moment, when the horse made the transition from walking in the water to actually swimming in it. His whole body shifted and grew long beneath me. His breathing became heavy and labored. It was only a few seconds, a quick loop and then suddenly he was walking again, but I was completely unnerved by the whole experience. Terrified actually is a more truthful description.

However ridiculous, nearly thirty years later, I am left with this fear. Almost every time I am swimming over my head, even in a clear blue pool, the image of a big horse or mammal coming up from below me is at least a passing thought. I don't really enjoy being over my head in water for this exact reason, although I typically don't confess to the root. Little Smith loves whales, and I have to push back my discomfort. I'm fine with the actual whale, because they don't have legs, but I've seen the skeletons in the museums with those long fingers inside the fins, and I've read about cows evolving from whales. It's just so horrifying to me. I'm freaking out even going into this much detail. Is it freaking you out too?! I know. It's just me.

I must have had dozens of passing childhood fears, but I barely remember most of them. Now as I watch my own children, I do wonder what causes some worries to become indelible, while others just fade away. At three and a half, Little Smith has turned that corner where linear memories are possible. I'm fairly certain that his passion for trains will not be sustained into adulthood, and I know he will outgrow his disdain for silverware, but each time a fear emerges, I wonder if it will stick.

After writing about our struggles with leaving behind diapers, I took a step back this week-end and tried to engage in a more casual conversation, hoping to understand where this hesitation might be coming from. Eventually we started talking about drains, and it all clicked for me. Little Smith has been nervous about the bathtub drain for some time. If I lift the plug while he is still bathing, he practically leaps out of the water with his arms full of tub toys. I have tried to explain that he is too big to be sucked down the drain, but I suspect that is his worry. He often inspects the pipes below the sink and is full of questions about where they are coming from and going to... and wouldn't you know, once I explained that his plastic potty chair didn't have a drain and was just a bucket, he agreed to sit on it. 

I have no idea how we will make the next leap towards something that is hooked up to legitimate plumbing. Maybe it is because he is my son, and I imprinted him with my own special brew of neuroses, but this anxiety actually makes perfect sense to me. I keep picturing scenes from the film Delicatessen and wondering what he imagines is happening inside all of those pipes. My instincts are split between minimizing the topic, hoping he just grows out of it, versus delving in further. I am tempted to get out some books on plumbing and go into detail about the technicalities of how it all works. He has the kind of mind that could very well be fascinated by all of that, and it might allay his fears... or it might just guarantee that this becomes his swimming horse.  

May 10, 2014

Happy Day

harvard square / 05.10.2014

If all goes as planned tomorrow... I will be sleeping in (to some indulgent hour like 7 or even 8), getting a few seeds sewn, strolling and enjoying everything in bloom, devouring more leftover birthday cake (James made such an awesome one this year, he's getting good!), and stealing as many kisses as possible from my husband and especially the two little people that gave me the glorious gift of motherhood. Happy Mother's Day!