Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Good-bye New York

On Saturday, when we should have been packing boxes for our move next weekend, we decided to venture into the City.




We visited our favorite Manhattan museum--The American Museum of Natural History. We'll miss the Halls of Saurischian and Ornithischian Dinosaurs...







We'll miss the Dimetrodon too...




After the museum, we said good-bye to Central Park and walked around the City a bit before meeting friends for dinner and heading home...







We also stopped by the Dakota Building and paid our respects to Mr. Lennon...







Good-bye NYC, and may it be a good long while before we visit again.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sweet T

Happy 34th birthday to our dear, sweet T!







We are so lucky to have you as a father...







and as a husband.







Hope your day is filled with lots of love and laughter (and a long game of Old Maid tonight when you get home from work).



Love, L, S, & V

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy 5 Months!





I'm a little more with it this time and actually posting Vivian's monthly update right on schedule. Five months is such a fun age. Vivian's personality is really shining through with lots of smiling and babbling and an insatiable curiosity. This month Vivian is into everything, and no one's eyeglasses are safe. She's attached to my hip most of the day, and I've had to start putting her down to eat and drink because before I know it she'll attack my food and spill my water. Because of this, she's earned a new nickname from S: the Grabber.







She won't have a pediatrician appointment until next month; so I don't have accurate weight and height measurements this month, but if I stand on our home scale with her, it looks like she weighs about 18 pounds. She seems big for her age to me with a long body and rolly-polly legs.



She reached a big milestone this month and learned to sit unassisted.







She's also trying in earnest to crawl and to sit up from a lying down position.



She's still nursing every two-three hours, but she's stopped sleeping through the night. She wakes at 4 o'clock on the dot every morning to nurse and then promptly falls asleep on her side. In fact, she's gone from a back sleeper to a side sleeper. This worries me a little, but there's no keeping her on her back any more.



You can't see it in the pictures, but this month Vivian's hair started coming in a little thicker, and the new hair is golden blond. Her roots are blond and her tips are brown. Perhaps she'll be a cotton top like her papa was when he was little.







This month has also brought loads of laughs and smiles directed at big brother. These two are growing closer every day and will be in cahoots before we know it.







For awhile now, I've thought Vivian looked exactly like T, but lately I've been seeing my side of the family in her face as well. In the picture below, I can see echoes of my brother and my aunt Becky, and sometimes she smiles a certain way and looks just like my cousin Lucy.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stuff We've Made Lately

Tomato sauce...

Back when I was pregnant and still working, I had a conversation with a co-worker about homemade tomato sauce and how easy it is to make. I'd never made it before, and so while on maternity leave I decided it was about time. I've been making homemade tomato sauce for a few months now, and it really is as easy as everyone says. I like to make mine in the slow-cooker; this way I can smell it simmering all day. Here is a terrific basic sauce recipe. I've taught S to make it as well and we do so every other week. The batch is big enough to use in three completely different meals. It's great in a traditional pasta dish of course, but it's also wonderful in a lentil loaf, as the base for a vegetarian chili and as sauce for homemade pizza.



Molasses Graham crackers...

I used the recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and substituted molasses for honey. This made a rich and tender graham that was also full of iron.



All sorts of cookies...





Homemade pop-sickles...

These are equal parts frozen strawberries and pineapple juice. Here's a whole bunch of other pop-sickle recipes.



Sunbonnet...

T sewed the sunbonnet that I was supposed to make for Vivian. Every time he tries to teach me to sew, I end up cutting out the fabric while he sews the entire project.



Shoelaces with a lucet...




Bread...


We make a lot of bread in this family, and since our bread machine broke a few years ago, we do it all by hand. I've been teaching S the basics with a multi-grain sandwich bread and whole wheat pizza dough.



Homemade hair balm...





When I had long hair I never used product in it, but now that it's short it needs something to give it texture and keep it in place. However, I didn't want to use a store-bought pomade with a list of ingredients a mile long. So, I scoured the internet and my herb books and came up with this recipe:



Hair Balm

1/2 Cup Castor Oil or Hazelnut Oil (Hazaelnut Oil is a sebum-balancing oil; so it's great for your hair and your face.)
1/8 to 1/2 Cup Beeswax depending on how hard you want the balm to be. 1/2 cup will yield a solid block of balm, and you'll have to use your fingernails or a spoon to dig it out.
5 drops Rosemary Essential Oil (Rosemary EO is great for hair)
5 drops Rose Geranium Essential Oil (This is optional. I just added it for fragrance.)



Vegan, gluten-free chocolate truffles with hazelnuts instead of walnuts...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Moving

I’ve had a little homesteading dream for a few years now, one in which I’m able to stay home with my children until they’re both in school, and one in which our family strives to be as self-sustaining as possible. Over the years T and I have put our energy into learning to make many of the things we purchase, knowing that if I were ever to stay home with the kids we’d need to save money in every way possible.

Now that I’m home and my maternity leave nears an end, that time has come. Earlier this month I resigned from my library job in the City, ironically it was the same day the board of trustees granted my tenure. It could be that I’m completely crazy for leaving a tenured job with a nice salary and full health insurance for the entire family, but it would feel even crazier returning to said job and putting both of my kids into daycare 11 hours a day, five days a week, just so I could spend a huge portion of my day commuting to and from the City. I lived that life for three years, and it took its toll. I was sick of being a weekend mama.

T and I just signed a less on a cute little cabin in the country. It’s close to the Delaware Water Gap and on 20 acres of forest land. We have a waterfall and two ponds in our yard! I can’t tell you how happy this makes S, who's day dreaming of all the salamanders and snakes we’ll catch. We move in a couple weeks, and already we’ve been gathering up our field guides and hiking guides in preparation for all our new life.

I think I’m fully prepared for how poor we’ll be, but that part does worry me quite a bit. I’ll be working from home part-time teaching online composition courses to college students (basic Comp 101 and 102) and paying for insurance out-of-pocket. It will be a tremendous pay cut for us, and it’ll be hard, but I just know it’ll be worth it devoting my time to my sweet kiddos.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Yarn-Along

Joining Ginny at Small Things for another Yarn-Along...



On the Needles: I'm making the Kid Owlet Sweater as a belated birthday gift for a sweet two-year-old girl. Her mother saw the owlet I made S and wanted one in the same color for her daughter. It's a great pattern, super-fast and lots of fun (especially the owl part). This is the third time I've made it, and I'm sure it won't be the last.







Off the Bookshelf: I'm reading the new issue of Poets & Writers (Thanks Peggy!) and The Whole Foods Nutrition Cookbook. Our family has always had a fairly healthy diet (I'm a vegetarian and make most of our meals meat-free), but a couple of weeks ago T and I watched Forks Over Knives on Netflix and decided our diet could be healthier. T only eats meat one day a week now and tries to completely avoid dairy, and I never eat meat and have drastically cut dairy from my diet as well. This Whole Foods Cookbook has really been our crutch. It's full of delicious and super-healthy recipes. We've been following a whole foods diet for over two-weeks now, and I'm starting to notice big changes in my energy levels. Even S seems to be enjoying the new meals I've been making for dinner. Last night he devoured a plate of Quinoa, black beans and sweet potatoes with a generous side of fresh spinach.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy 4 1/2 Months!

I'd meant to have a Happy 4 Months post here, but with traveling and recovering from traveling and getting ready for a big move (more on this to come), time got away from me.
Month four has been a BIG month developmentally! Little Vivvers can now roll over from front to back and back to front with ease and will sometimes roll across the living room floor like a kid rolling down a hill. She can reach her feet now and chews on them all the time. She's also learned to pull off her socks. This month she figured out how to bounce herself in her bouncy seat by bouncing her left leg up and down. I've noticed she makes this same motion with her leg when she's not in her bouncy seat and she's tired.
But perhaps the biggest development this month has been her insatiable curiosity, which manifests itself with lots and lots of reaching and grabbing. No one's hair is safe (nor are their glasses, noses, mouths). I now have to be very careful while eating and holding her. Yesterday she nearly got a giant bite of my banana. Even in her Bumbo, she finds a way to grab something.

At 4 1/2 months, Vivian weighs 15 pounds and 9 ounces and is 24 inches long. She still has all her little stork bites and angel kisses (birth marks) from birth, and they're just now starting to fade (although she could have these for the next year or so). She drools buckets but still has no teeth. She nurses every two hours during the day, and she still sleeps most of the night. Although, lately she's been waking to nurse at 3:30 each morning.



The list of her nicknames continues to grow. She's mostly known as Viv or Vivvers, but S has also taken to calling her Little Duchess and Hutch.



However, the most notable characteristic about this little lady is her super sweet personality. She's the smiliest baby ever.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Home Again

While in Tennessee, we visited my childhood home of Cumberland Gap. The last time I was there was when T and I got married nearly eight years ago. My childhood was full of creeks and trees, ring snakes, box turtles, cow pastures and long hikes. For a long time my family rented a farm on top of a mountain, which was full of blackberry brambles and animal paths in the woods. We moved to another town in Tennessee when I was 13. This new town was lovely, but didn't hold nearly the magic that Cumberland Gap held. My father is a biology professor and works at a university near Cumberland Gap. So, when it we visited Tennessee, we decided to drive into work with my father one day. We figured it would be fun for S to see Grandpa's wildlife labs and we could get a little hiking in while we were there. I was also looking forward to seeing all those old, familiar places of my childhood again.
This is where T and I got married. Behind this old Spring House is a stone amphitheater; we were wed on the stage. We had my mom snap a picture of our family standing in the exact spot where T and I exchanged our vows.
T made S a bracelet from the weeping willow branches in front of the Spring House.
Then we went hiking. We followed an old park service trail on the campus where my father teaches. It was full of newly hatched crickets and grasshoppers that jumped with every step we took, making a noise a lot like rain on leaves.
S found some Old Man's Beard on a branch, and later he found a few fossilized shells.
It was Vivvers's first hike.
Before leaving town, we stopped by an old observation tower I used to play in as a child. This is also on the campus where my father teaches. I spent many days in here hiding treasures in the stone walls.
On the way out of town, we drove down the gravel road that lead to our old farmhouse. About half way up the mountain there's a no trespassing sign; so we couldn't see my childhood home.
This is probably just as well, since I've heard the house has been torn down and a new horse farm has taken its place. Still, if was nice and strange being back on that same road, riding along with the windows down and listening to the creek I used to fish in when I was six. We had a great time in Tennessee, but this was one of my favorite days by far.
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