Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Loving the Park

I spend a considerable amount of time hanging out with my two little friends at Wicker Park. Sometimes we hit the swings and the slides. Other times we check out the dog park or just run around in the grass. We were thrilled to discover that the fountain was turned on last week -- which means that the Sunday morning farmer's market won't be far behind!

Check out my love letter to the park on the Chicago Moms Blog today.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

When was the last time you loved a book so much that you wanted to sneak a flashlight into bed so you could read just a few more pages when you were supposed to be asleep? This is how I felt about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover. The book follows Kingslover and her family though their year-long attempt to be "localvores" -- that is, only eat food that they either grew themselves on their Appalacian farm or purchased from nearby sources.

In the dark, cold depths of a Chicago winter, I curled up in my bed each night, read a few pages of Kingslover's odyssey and dreamed of my garden and farmer's markets. Although I loved reading about her family's day-to-day agricultural activities (i.e. harvesting asparagus, planting heirloom tomatoes, hunting truffles), I was mostly drawn to her approach to food and feeding her family.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle advocates for a connected approach to food and family. First, know your food. Buy local when you can -- it is good for you and your community. Be mindful of how your food has traveled from harvest to your home. Eat together. Enjoy your food and each other.

For me, food is totally wrapped up with family and love. I hope that the food I give to my little ones feeds them in all sorts of ways. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle has wonderful ideas about procuring and preparing food that I have already started to incorporate into our life.

And oh do I have big plans for the summer! We are all going berry picking in June and I am going to freeze the strawberries (real, small, sweet strawberries -- not the huge flavorless ones I have been buying from the grocery store all winter) picked at the peak of freshness to use in yogurt smoothies later on (same for blueberries). When my garden is overrun with ripe tomatoes in late August (hopefully), I am going to dry and can those we can't eat. And when my apple tree lets go of dozens of apples a day in late October, I am going to be up to my elbows in homemade applesauce to save and share.

This book was on my mind yesterday. In the morning, all four of us headed over to Ellie's school to work in the school garden and get some vegetables planted (lettuce and radishes for spring and pumpkins, squashes, and melons for when the children return in the fall). The children worked alongside the adults (when not happily running around and playing in the sandbox). It was happy and satisfying work. In the afternoon, Ellie and I made a stop at the nursery to choose some more plants for our own garden. Then Ellie, Brendan, and Daddy worked together to roll pizza dough and topped it with delicious toppings (the fontina, roasted shallot, and crispy pancetta was my favorite).

Delicious food and a happy family all wrapped up together.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

See, I Told You He Was Left-Handed

A boy and the dog he wanted to take home with him.

Nice catch Flint.

Our Waldorf Birthday Ring

Many of you find your way to my blog because you are looking for information about Waldorf birthday rings (at least that is what Sitemeter tells me). I thought I would follow up and write about the Waldorf birthday ring I ended up choosing for our family birthday celebrations.

Here it is (minus the candles so you can better see the individual pieces). I bought it from The Wooden Wagon. We used our ring to celebrate Ellie's birthday last week and we will use it again to fete Brendan in the coming week. I bought pieces that represent both of their experiences in the past year.

Our ring includes: the numbers four and two, a little house to represent our new house, a horse for Ellie's fondness for all things equine, a ballerina in honor of Ellie's dance exploits, daffodils to remind us of playing in our new backyard, a tree similar to our apple tree, a choo choo train in homage to Brendan's love of all things transportation-related, and a dolphin in honor of our happy times spent on Sanibel Island.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Oh Hi There

I'm still here. Life has left me with no time to blog in the past week or so -- probably a good thing, no?

Our family life has been very busy (both terribly and terrifically). Between more medical woes for Papa (not good), a lovely but exhausting backyard birthday party for Ellie and her friends (very good), and a four-day excursion to Western Pennsylvania to visit family and soak up the beautiful spring (also very good), my computer and I haven't had any time to get together.

And truthfully, my yard calls me outside to feel warm and dig in the dirt in preparation for planting our garden. My computer can wait. Be back tomorrow.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Filthy Feet

The filthy feet of a little girl who ran around outside all day in the
beautiful spring weather and had a wonderful time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dot Therapy

Today is a stressful day. But I am happy to report that we have discovered therapy in the form of dot painting. And we feel a little bit better (at least I do).

Monday, April 14, 2008


We went hunting for signs of spring today. We saw it here.

And here.

Over here too.

We concluded that spring had definitely arrived (despite the fact that the temperature was in the forties and we were wearing winter coats and hats).

Friday, April 11, 2008

Party Planning

The gigantic box of amusements that I ordered from the Oriental Trading Company for Ellie's birthday arrived yesterday. I am hoping that I have ordered enough fun to make it through the hour and a half party.

I also asked Ellie and Brendan what they wanted for their birthday presents. The answers were interesting. Read about it at the Chicago Moms Blog.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

She Has Lots of Good Ideas

The other day Ellie was playing with her collection of stuffed dogs of various sizes, colors and breeds. It is an impressive and unwieldy group -- at least fifteen pups in all. And she of course has them all arranged into families (which is how she groups everything from plastic dinosaurs to chicken fingers).

Ellie: "Mommy, these pups are going to do some 'breast milking' because they are all really, really hungry. But I am going to set it up so some 'breast milk' with the mama dog and some 'breast milk' with the daddy dog. Isn't that smart of me? So the daddy dog can be more of a helper with all of these babies."

Waaay smart of you, El.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Another Lefty

My husband and I have recently come to the conclusion that Brendan is left-handed.

I know. I know. The boy is almost two. Have we not been paying any attention to him for the past year and a half? I don't know how we hadn't noticed this. I have no explanation.

So anyway, he always holds utensils in his left hand (on the rare occasions that he isn't just using his fist to shovel food into his mouth). If you hand him a ball in his right hand, he switches it over to his left hand to throw it.

I am pretty excited about this development because I am left-handed myself. So is my Dad. And left-handed people are special (at least, that is what my Dad has always told me).

Friday, April 4, 2008


April's arrival means a few things at our house:

It's Birthday Time. Spring time is birthday time around here (spring being the perfect time to birth babies, if you ask me). Ellie will celebrate her fourth birthday in three weeks. And Brendan will be two shortly thereafter. On our "to do" list: invitations, Ellie's first "real" birthday party in the backyard with some friends, special cakes and cookies, a few presents, and finally getting to see what Ellie is talking about when she says you "walk around the sun" at school when it is your birthday.

Planning and Planting. Now it really is time to plan my garden. The daffodil and hyacinth bulbs I planted in the fall are popping their heads up. In springs past, I would walk around my neighborhood and see a beautiful plant or landscape design and think, "If I had a yard, I would definitely do something that like." And now I do have a yard. I can plant whatever I want. So thrilling. Now I just have to figure out what it is I want to do. I am reading. And reading. And growing. And thinking about what supplies I need and what plants should go where. My heart flutters a little just thinking about it.

First picnic I love a picnic -- always have. It is a right of spring at our house. Packing up a lunch and heading to the park for a leisurely morning. Stay-at-home Mom bliss. I am thinking about trying to make something along these lines to bring on our picnic excursions. Might be a little complicated for me, but I am adding the idea to my project list.

What else ? Oh yes . . . wedding showers, the return of wild salmon to our dinner plates, blowing bubbles and making art with our sidewalk chalk, a little gelato here and there, bike rides, eating outside by candlelight, a quick trip to Pittsburgh to visit Grandma and Grandpa and see how Auntie Bethany's baby is growing.

Gotta go -- so much to do!