Monday, November 15, 2010

It's time for a photo update. Some of these are already a month old...

A great-grandparental visit:

A grandparental visit:


The other week NS and I got to go for a hike with sister and bro-in-law C&D on a local trail.  It was our first time there; I was pleased as punch with the discovery.  About halfway through, NS surprised me by asking to get out of the backpack and hiking on her own two feet the rest of the time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oh, Happy Day!

Monday:  Oh, happy day!  The diapers are finally packed away!

Tuesday: An unexpected autumn joy: fresh salad! The lettuce re-seeded in a thick springy carpet of baby greens. I yanked some and savored it with garden tomatoes, radishes, peppers, and even bits of late green beans.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Tonight as CP prepared dinner, the nasal melancholy of Willie Nelson's "The Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning" wafted up the stairs, "...The alarm clock rang two hours late...And this morning at breakfast/I spilled all the coffee," etc.  From the bathroom I heard NS exclaim with a laugh, "Mom! That music is sorta funny!"

Earlier this week, NS demonstrated her comprehension of the danger of going near the road.  I asked her to walk with me to take a letter to Dad and Mom's mailbox, which is on the other side of a busy rural thoroughfare.  As we left the house, hand in hand, she slowed and said seriously, "I don't want to go on the road because a car might bump me. Then I would be dead and we wouldn't have any girl."

Familial Influence and the Slippery Slope of Confection

Way back in March, my sister-in-law documented on her infamous blog the perfection of whoopie pie filling.  Last summer, as a honeymoon send-off treat for my newlywed sister and brother-in-law, Mom and I whipped up a batch of whoopie pies.  I suggested we try out the new filling recipe that boasts no egg whites and loads of butter.  We searched out the online recipe, copied amounts and multiplied them meticulously.

Much to our chagrin, we overlooked the instruction to mix in the butter and sugar "when the milk has cooled to room temperature" and ended up with a triple (or quadruple?) batch of rich, runny icing that undoubtedly would not have stayed between its chocolate layers. Mom sent me home with a large container of the botched batch, which sat in my freezer for several months.

Several weeks ago, at an annual gathering of my husband's female relatives and honorary relatives, my mother-in-law was singing the praises of pretty layered cakes like the ones they made for her parents' anniversary bash some years back.  Fancy, frosted layer cakes may be worth gold at the corner bakery these days, but they're common fare in my mother-in-law's kitchen. When I got home and spied the glass cake plate she'd given me, I was inspired.

With visions of a whoopie pie cake daintily perched on its crystal stage, I went to work, making the simplest chocolate crazy cake in my repertoire and unearthing the runny icing from the deep freeze.

The results, though tasty, were precarious at best...

...and soon resembled an earthquake zone.

 I scrambled to move it to a more stable location...

...before the top layer's demise was complete.
Thanks, sis-in-law J, mom, and mom-in-law for your respective roles in teaching me that layer cakes are not my forte! 

Miscellaneous Fun

Auntie A played wheel barrow with NS last week when she and Uncle D came for supper.

Last week NS announced, "Mom, I'm going to paint my toenails blue."  And she did, aided only by a blue marker (fortunately, not permanent).

Then she proceeded to "paint" her fingernails, too.

She and I had a grand time at her Grandpa and Grandma's place this week.  She got her first quilting lesson!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our Red Letter Week

It started out ordinarily enough: grumpily canning tomato sauce together on CP's last day of vacation, waving him off on his back-to-school bike, juggling babysitting, peach jam, and class prep, trying to keep the rain-starved fall garden alive on hose rations.

On my return from teaching Wednesday night, Christopher showed me a stainless steel bowl on the kitchen counter with tufts of gold curls lying limply at the bottom:  NS' first-ever haircut.  She'd accomplished it on the sly with illicitly acquired child scissors, more than six weeks after watching me get a professional haircut.  Fortunately, the instrument was dull enough that the damage is virtually invisible to the untrained eye. 

That same day my sister-in-law had told me about puppies "(sooo cute") for sale at the orchard where she buys fruit. CP had been trying to persuade me for--well, he'd probably say years---that we need to own a dog. After realizing that this could be a seriously sore spot in our relationship, I decided that, of the two apparent options, a good dog and peace in the family would be better than no dog and and incessant arguing about dog ownership. (Isn't there a proverb about that?)  So I took the matter into my own hands, called the farm, and quickly researched the puppies' pedigree. I presented the information to my husband; the ball was then in his court.

We agreed to drive out to the farm the next day, after CP got home from work, following a hurried and inconclusive dialog about shots, spaying, and cost analysis.  The tricky part was not committing in our daughter's mind before making up our own minds.  We swung by to pick up a borrowed pet carrier, then told NS we were going to pet some puppies. Much to my chagrin, we spent probably half an hour lingering by the dog pen, petting and observing the roly poly, gingery pups, while CP wet his cold feet in the waters of responsibility and consequences that I'd been wading in all along.  I had been counting on his gut to make a snappy decision for all of us. Apparently, he'd been banking on NS' instantaneous infatuation to sweep away all our doubts. They both let us down.

Finally, CP stated, "I think I'll be glad we did it," then stammered, "NS, do you want to take a puppy home?"  We wrote the check and carried off our membership prize for the foolish dog owners club.

A note here for the detail-curious:  NS tried out several names, including Goldbug and Officer Flossie (of Richard Scarry fame), Clifford (the Big Red) and Rosy (friends' grandparents' dog). I suggested Carmela, a Spanish girl's name that evokes, in my English brain, the dog's caramel-colored coat.  However, Noemi pronounced it as Canela (cinnamon in Spanish, part of her kitchen vocab), which is what stuck.  As for pedigree, according to the original owners, the mother is a Shiba Inu and the father is "some type of hound." We're hoping for the best of both: mom's calm intelligence and cleanliness and dad's good looks, loyalty and hunting instincts, with an average of their sizes.

Saturday NS spent the morning with friends in town while CP and I had a morning gig with our band at the farmers market.  (They showed up for part of the performance, just as we were singing the song we wrote about NS when she was a baby.)  We sang for a full two and a half hours with no break. It was a record-breaker for our less-than-a-year-old band:  longest nonstop performance, largest audience, most tips so far ($73) and most promising leads (contacts from two downtown restaurants expressed interest in our performing there).  Records aside, it was a beautiful day, an enthusiastic reception, and a thrill to see people of all ages--friends, family, and strangers--listening, dancing, and singing along to our music.

NS skipped her nap that afternoon, after having woken up at least an hour earlier than usual.  She climbed right out of the crib. CP and I looked at each other. "It's time."

We spent the afternoon cleaning house and rearranging furniture to accommodate an upcoming renovation project, and incorporated the crib-to-toddler bed graduation.  The change generated much excitement on NS' part.  I anticipated that her sleep deprivation would precipitate a super-early bedtime despite the excitement of a new bed, but alas, the stoic pixie pulled a 14 1/2 hour day.  As you may imagine, bedtime was a frustrating and protracted endeavor.

The good news: after falling asleep, she didn't patter into our room until 5:10 am, when the putting-to-bed process all started over again.  The bad news: Canela woke us periodically throughout the night with her persistent, pathetic howls and yowls.

I'm glad this week is history.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reading? I can do it with my eyes closed!

The Latest Styles

Two and a half years and counting, and no scissors has yet touched her silken curls.  They're too much fun the way they are, I guess.

Recently NS set a record for leaving ponytails in (granted, most of the time consisted of a nap in the car).

And just a month or so ago she became the first of her generation to claim the Horatio Hair title (named after a messy-maned stuffed lion).  That's a challenge, you little bed-heads!

What We've Been Up To

The way I talk, you'd think I never lift my nose out of the garden or the canner.  However, our family has had some other fun this summer. Here's proof, in no particular order.

Sporting sunglasses

Picnicking with cousins

Visiting great-grandparents K

Roughhousing with cousins, aunties and uncles

Taking the stage with cousins

Jamming with uncle Z

Camping out with cousins

Taking Our Places

At a recent reunion, my Mom, her ten siblings, their children and their grandchildren formed a spiral, standing in order of appearance in the family.  Tall, short, gray, and towheaded, we took our places, centered around numbers 1 and 2, empty chairs representing my late Grandpa and Grandma. Mom was #30; I was #37, and my daughter numbered 114. The total number of family members is projected to reach 127 by the end of 2010.

A slide show of my great aunt's photographs with narration including excerpts from Grandma's diary gave us another peek into the past.  Mom and all her siblings posed in imitation of a photo of Grandma and Grandpa, aged 40 and 41, surrounded by their 11 children, ages 1-18.

Next, they all found nieces, nephews, grand nieces, or grand nephews nearest to the age that they were in the original photo, substituting themselves with the next generation.  Two of my cousins represented my grandparents.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wedding Celebration

My younger sister H got married a couple weekends ago. It was the second family wedding my parents hosted in six months--and, hopefully, the last for a long, long time.

On Friday night friends and family gathered around the groom's infamous giant sub sandwich.

During dinner there was a poignant reunion with my newest nephew and his family, who arrived from afar.
L-R: Mom, Dad, groom, bride

After months of hard work on groom M's part, the Cricket waited at the ready to whisk the couple away on a three-week honeymoon.

Groom M wowed the crowd with his ingenious pyrotechnics after dinner.

On Saturday, the most recently wed couple in the family helped us inject fun into family photo time by showing up en mass wearing bright green T-shirts to match the getaway car. After the prank snapshot, we shed them quickly, due to the intense heat. 

L-R: Nephew N, Mom, sister-in-law A, Dad, brother D

The pranksters (older sister C and husband D):
Yours truly with NS and CP:

Oldest sister G (who would start chemotherapy four days later), brother-in-law M, and trio of sweetness:

And of course, the couple of the hour, M and H:

The winsome wedding ceremony took place in a hilltop meadow before sundown.

Bride and Mom conferring at the reception:

Twins' salute: