Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bringing the Story to Life

Pin and Jade in the pond with the turtle and bull frog on the ends
The hag's cottage
The castle

For the past few weeks, Dave has been reading The Hobbit at night to the kiddos. Each evening at dinner they recount the tale to me and talk about what happened the night before. They enjoy this time with their Daddy even if it is peppered with jumping, interrupting and general wiggly behavior. He is adapting to the bedtime routine, but I miss sharing stories with the kiddos. We usually have an audiobook in the car, but I keep gathering interesting chapter books from the library. These piles of books have been sitting unshared. Eamon often reads them and tells me which I need to read aloud. One he overlooked recently was The Prince of the Pond.

I started this short chapter book one evening this week while Dave was busy at bedtime. The kiddos loved the story and didn't want me to stop. The next morning we continued the story. Aine began crafting her own pond, hag's cottage, well and castle. She brought out some animals and people to add to the story. With the help of Benton, they reenacted the story for most of the morning. They talked about the story and other possible endings. Benton decided he wanted to raise his own tadpoles, and Aine wanted to know the fate of the characters even after the book ended. Their individual interests led us to the library. Benton found books on frogs, tadpoles, and cicadas. He picked a few to bring home. Aine was more concerned about the characters and spoke at length with the librarian about the existence of other books in the tale. I really like when a book works so well for our family on such a variety of levels.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

He sits across from me, his breakfast finished. I know I should remind him not to read library books at the table, but then I would have to close mine. We sit there reading together enjoying the words and the food. Occasionally he interrupts my thoughts wanting to share a funny passage, "Mama, listen to this..." As I read I wonder what this boy of mine will be like as he makes his course through life. I reflect on my youth and things I can remember. Will he remember sitting her together with me? I will.

Monday, August 19, 2013


As soon as the kiddos woke up on Saturday, we set out on bikes. Earlier that morning I saw a quick post by a neighbor in our block that she had pears available to pick. Aine and Benton were up for the task. When we arrived our neighbor and her husband took time to talk about their small orchard and chickens. Aine and Benton quickly set about picking a small boxful of Asian pears. Another neighbor boy came by and chatted with us while we all picked. While talking, we discovered he knows a few of our friends; they attend his school. After getting our fill of pears and looking at an almond plucked right from the tree, our neighbor showed the kiddos pottery shards left on her homesite by a previous collector. She even shared a few with us and suggested we take them to the Heard Museum nearby. This sharing led to tales about her home and how it fit into the neighborhood. Built before Arizona was even a state, she told stories of a bar owner, a still in the basement and bootleg alcohol on the back porch. Most of those tales were for me, but the kiddos loved hearing about how the house was on the edge of town one time surrounded by nothing.

Back home, we shared the tales we learned from our neighbor and the yummy pears. She invited us back for more fruit picking later in the year, and I think we may just do that.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mail Bag

There have been a few little things in the mail lately to make me smile. Although most of my correspondence these days consists of email, I cherish a handwritten note. I tried sending a letter a week last year and made it to April. That exercise reminded me that a handwritten note is a delightful way to keep in touch. Monthly I try to send out postcards and letters to friends near and far. It happens more often when I think someone needs a little lift. Lately I have been receiving a few replies too.

A month or so ago, KC of Olive and Owl mentioned a postcard exchange on her blog. I received a delightful card from New Zealand and mailed one to Colorado as well as a stack to other friends. To my surprise I received a return note from the woman in Colorado. I think I have a new penpal. I am so glad KC did this project. I was a treat to connect with another person. 

The kiddos received a stack of postcards over two days. My mom recently traveled with a few of her childhood friends to Albuquerque. She usually sends the kiddos a little bit of mail when she travels alone or with my dad. This time she did not disappoint. The kiddos were quite enamored with their postcards. Benton especially loved his, which depicted a wall of cattle skulls.  We talked about incorporating the idea into the backyard somehow. He is ecstatic about the possibilities and the finding of the skulls.
The final piece of mail was a new bag. I happened upon the Wee Whimsicals blog a few weeks ago  and entered her contest. The prize was a bag of my choice. I snatched up this gorgeous blue one. It is perfect for a bit of knitting as well as my wallet, notebook, and phone.

I wonder with all the electronic correspondence of today what will remain for future generations to study. I have a few of the letters my grandmother wrote me as well as a bit of correspondence between my mother and grandmother. There are also letters from my paternal grandmother around my birth. She includes the mundane details of her day as well as neighborhood gossip. I really cherish these snippets from years ago. I hope I leave a bit of myself for my kiddos to have as well as this blog that captures a bit of the mundane as well as exciting.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Homage

I love soup. I unabashedly adore it. All kinds truly. My favorite used to be New England clam chowder. In college I would buy it by the can full; Progresso was my favorite (don't judge). These days I tend to eschew dairy aside from some grassfed, happy butter, so my favorite has shifted. Now a hearty vegetable floats my boat or even, on a really cold day, a beanless chili. Thankfully my kiddos also love soup. Recently they have been vocalizing the need for a good broth based dinner. Since it has been hot here for months, our meals have been more of the grilled variety supplemented with a lot of salads. I decided after making a whole chicken in the crockpot over the weekend, that I needed to make stock. This started the move toward fulfilling our overwhelming desire for soup.

First off was a chicken vegetable-with noodles for those so inclined. It took two days, and a few visitors, but that big stockpot is gone. The kiddos ate soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Tonight we are dining on a hybrid albondigas soup. A dear friend of mine served it recently. Aine and I were hooked. With Aine as my sous chef, we set about making it. I used riced cauliflower in the meatballs and lots of cabbage, carrots and celery in the soup base. We have a masterpiece. Tomorrow will be a hearty butternut squash and then I am hoping our yearning for soup will be satisfied until the temperatures drop below 110 degrees.

Albondigas Mexican Meatball Soup (my way)

1 # ground beef
1 # ground pork 
3 cloves garlic 
1 cup riced cauliflower (use food processor with s-blade attachment to chop cauliflower until rice like consistency)
1 egg 
Oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to personal taste

3 quarts stock plus added water to fill stock pot
8 or so carrots, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
head of cabbage 
1 onion, diced
Fresh parsley (couple tablespoons)
2 tsp oregano
1-2 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 T (ish) tomato paste
Salt/pepper to taste

*I browned the meatballs with the oven broiler then added then to the simmering soup to cook for an hour or so.
**I am neither a food blogger nor a food photographer

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Cooler Weather

Yesterday I woke up and ran in 77 degree weather. This is not typical August weather for Arizona. Usually the lows hover in the mid to low 90s, so it was a welcome treat even if the humidity was in the same range. With such cool weather, the kiddos and I spent a lot of time outside. They set about washing the wheelbarrow, which led to much fun with the hose in the sprinkling rain. Bikes, scooters and roller blades were pulled out of the garage. Each kiddo did laps around the park while I mowed our little Arizona lawn with the push mower. I then sat for a bit to knit while they ran some more. I am working on my third project for Camp Loopy. I chose a sweater this time and am actually accepting my climate and making it out of cotton. We shall see how this works.

Rain and increasing temperatures moved us indoors after a bit. I soon closed up the windows, but it was such a nice time letting the cooler fresh air into the house.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Last weekend I spent a bit of time organizing and documenting my stash. I created a new plan, since I had accumulated a lot of yarn while my normal stash was in storage. It now seems like I have two big piles. Once combined the amount was quite large, so I have pledged to myself to refrain from yarn purchases at least until the end of the yarn and maybe into next.

While sorting through the pile, I noticed three little skeins of cotton yarn left over from the baby blanket I made my niece last year. After I photographed and entered them into ravelry, I set the yarn aside for a quick little project. I saw the Rachel Bag on Lori's blog and instantly loved it. Now that I had the yarn in my stash, I knew I wanted to make it and make it soon.

And that is exactly what I did. The little bag came together so quickly. A few hours for each side and another for the finishing. I dug through my fabric and found a bit of coordinating cotton for the lining. I love how it turned out. I initially thought the bag was for me, but I soon decided I needed to give it to a friend. It is not really her color. I think she favors more of the bright pinks and purples, but I hope she will like this one. She is such an inspiration. In the past year she has lost a significant amount of weight, after she was diagnosed with diabetes. Not wanting to take medication, she took control of her life and changed her outcome. Now most days she pedals like crazy at spin class each morning and eats sensibly. She also is caring for three children, one of which has epilepsy. She has handled her oldest child's illness with such grace. His seizures are more severe and happening with regularity, but she remains calm on the outside. After much testing and more to come, she supports him, her husband and her girls. I always knew she was a remarkable person and now I have a little something to give her.

Monday, August 05, 2013

A Return

It was a weekend of being home, full of games, reading, knitting, blog design, book groups, minecrafting and more. After the initial disappointment of not getting Minecon tickets, we rallied. Instead of a road trip to Florida with friends, Dave and I began the initial planning of a trip to visit Michigan in November. It has been years since we celebrated Thanksgiving with his family, so we decided this year was theirs. We mapped out our route, narrowed down the dates, and gathered input from the kiddos on what they want to do. 

With 100 or so days to departure I also relaunched my health plan. I have been very lax about my diet and as a result have felt sluggish. The heat has been too easy of an excuse not to go running in the morning or exercise at all. For the next 100 days, I am back on track. Back to our normal diet and a revamped exercise routine. Dave is headed back to the gym too. We know we will feel better after this return to healthy living and hopefully look better too!