"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Sunday, July 31, 2011

give the baby what the baby wants

Well, it's official. I can now record in Baby #3's Baby Book what I Officially Craved during my pregnancy: Soup and Bagels. Yup, hot soup. In 100-degree July, the only thing this baby wants is hot soup. And bagels....topped with anything....cream cheese and cukes being the current favorite, mostly due to a plethora of home-grown cucumbers pouring out of our garden.....or left plain and dipped in some hot soup.

I picked up two take-home containers of Panera soup today (along with a dozen bagels, of course). Ate the broccoli cheddar right away (my head convinced my stomach to leave the creamy tomato in the fridge for tomorrow's fix), but that wasn't enough. So I made some more soup for dinner.

I first had this vegetarian "chili" at the beach. My mom had made a ton of it...and I ate just about all of it. Since the beach, I have made it twice, each time tweaking it to fit what I had on hand. That's the best part about this soup....it's a dump all the veggies you have in the house/garden sort of soup.

So here's the recipe:
(And even if you're not pregnant, it's really quite delicious on a summer evening....because it's meatless, it's not at all heavy. And it's super-fast to throw together.....just be sure to throw it together an hour or so before you plan to eat it).

one onion
one each green, yellow, red bell pepper (if you like that many peppers, if not, cut it back)
2-3 yellow or zucchini squash, or both
carrots (baby or chopped conventional)
peas, corn, spinach, whatever you like
2-3 cans of beans (drained and rinsed)....our favorite, because Max is a Garbanzo Boy, is two cans of black beans and one can of chickpeas....kidney beans make it more "chili" chili
3-4 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes (start with three and if you've chopped up too many veggies, add another)

Chop the veggies and let them soften in a big pot in some olive oil. Add the beans and tomatoes and stir it up. Sprinkle some chili spices....I don't really measure here, so bear with me....I add some cumin (a couple of teaspoons?), yellow curry (less than a teaspoon?), a few shakes of crushed red pepper, I add some coriander, too, but I don't think that's a typical chili spice. I just like it. Stir in the spices and cover the pot. Let simmer for about an hour.

Sprinkle with cheese. Serve with your favorite crusty bread. (Or bagel.)

Lesson Learned:
Mmmmmmmmm.......summertime soup.

Friday, July 29, 2011

walking water

I saw this experiment on an Australian preschool blog I've been reading called Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning. I knew I had to try it with the boys. And I'm also now considering moving to Australia in time to enroll my kids for preschool. Seriously. Not really. But the bloggers are creating an online database of preschools and they are all A-MAY-ZING. They travel the country interviewing teachers and directors, observing students playing and learning, and photographing the centers and the activities at each. The programs are creative, rich, and engaging and furthermore, I want my kids to have Australian accents.

Back to Walking Water.

So you'll need two glasses and something to elevate one of them. Fill the top glass with colored water. Tell your little one that you can make the water WALK from the top cup into the bottom cup. They will be astonished. Or if he's Evan, he'll say, "Okay." So you may have to help build some excitement.

So you'll brainstorm some ways to get the water to move ("You could just pour it.") and then, eventually, you'll reach the conclusion to build a bridge! Use a strip of paper towel, just long enough to reach from the bottom of the top cup into the bottom cup (doesn't have to touch the bottom).

And then...watch the water walk across the bridge!

We left it up all day...by dinner time, all of the water had completed the journey.

Lesson Learned:
Another quick and easy science lesson. It really was cool to watch. Next up...food-colored carnations and daisies? Yup, I think so.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


We recently attached a hummingbird feeder to our back sliding glass door. 

It's right next to our kitchen table and has provided The Best Mealtime Entertainment since Max learned how to dance on his chair (which, though adorable, we're trying to discourage).

Evan loves trying to spot familiar hummingbirds and new visitors to the feeder. So far, we've identified a "red-neck one," a "brownish little one," a "shiny green wing one," and "that one with the stripes on his neck." Those are their scientific names, by the way.

Max loves naming each one as Mommy, Daddy, Big Brother, or Baby. (He's got another thing coming in February when there's a new Baby in town.) And then, inevitably, "humma buhd FLY 'way."

Lesson Learned:
Hovering near my head as I work in my garden, they seem like huge, disgusting bugs. But seen through a window, they're really quite beautiful. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

don't judge

Once upon a time, when my only child was just 20-months old or so, I was strolling the aisles of Target. My sweet little shopping buddy sat happily in the cart looking at what I pointed out, smiling at the toys I held up for him to explore, and munching on his snack while I browsed the clothing and home decor sections at my leisure.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed--because it was impossible not to--the most frazzled, harried-looking woman I had ever seen. She was practically yelling, "No running! Jackson, stop! Come back to Mommy!" as she, get this: CHASED HER TODDLER DOWN AN AISLE.

"Tsk. Tsk." I thought smugly....naively...judgementally. "Who would allow their child to act like that in a store?"

And then I looked back down to my Evan, who was still sitting happily, and looking up at me with those Melt You big brown eyes with a look that said, "Who would ever act like that in a store?" And I felt totally confident in my parenting ability.

And then there was Max.

Holy. Cow. You guys--I was that mom in Target yesterday.

The trip started out pretty well....I, smartly, began with a stop at the concession counter and bought a lemonade bribe...I mean, treat. The boys sat strapped into that giant train-sized cart with the two seats attached to the back, happily sipping on their "moh-nade." But I needed about a dozen things, which, in my experience in Target, really means about thirty things. We were halfway through when we needed to breeze past the toy aisle. No problem. I can handle the toy aisle. Each kid gets to pick one aisle, we spend a minute or two in each, and we're back on our way.

He started to get pretty restless around the diaper aisle. "Mommy! I WALK! I ALL DONE with MOH-NADE!" I tried to distract him with the shows on the TVs in the DVD aisle across the way, but Charlie Brown was on and he was totally uninterested. I thought maybe I could keep him occupied by holding onto something from the cart. He threw the bag of pretzels on the floor. I'm not sure why, but I decided to then hand him the shampoo. He threw that, too, and it rolled down the aisle. So I left the cart and ran after it. Of course I did.

That's when I could feel the judgement coming. Not from other Moms....they, all smarter than the me from Once Upon A Time, weren't judging. They were all probably thinking, "I've been there," or "That could so be me someday," or maybe at the very least, "I have compassion for that woman who has her hands very full with that one." Nope, the judgement came, instead, from my first-born, who was giving me the look that said, "Sigh. She really doesn't have a handle on the situation, does she?" Meanwhile, Max is yelling louder, quite convinced that I am not comprehending his commands of "I get DOWN!" and "I WALK NOW, MOMMY!"

But I still needed facial moisturizer (because I buy all of my cosmetics at Target, what?), toothpaste, and dish soap. And I was getting desperate. He's now squirmed his arms out of his 5-point harness and is shimmying his leg up to his chest beneath the strap. Evan is shaking his head in disdain.

So that's when I made the wrong decision. Right decision? Leave the store. Forget the necessities. Go back out after Daddy gets home for some uninterrupted solo-shopping time. Buy a fancy (decaf) coffee on the way and bask in the luxury of Alone Time. Instead, I unstrap the beast. I try to hoist him onto my hip, which of course doesn't work. He flails his body head-first towards the floor while screaming, "I WALK! I WALK! I WALK!" I manage to catch him before impact and put him down right side up. By now I'm sweating. And yet I'm still heading towards the damn lotion aisle.

I am able to convince him to Give Evan a Ride! and he's "helping" me push the cart. I grab the first lotion I see that has the red sale tag below it and we're on to toothpaste. Evan is telling Max to "Push faster!" which is fine because, despite the increasing speed and volume of our party, the Little Beast is still, loosely, tethered to the cart. I don't even pause as I grab a toothpaste off the shelf and we have but one item on our list.

And that's when Max decides that he's Done Shopping. He made it quite clear. He let go of the cart, looked up at me defiantly as he said, "I all done." And then he took off. He may not be even two years old. He may be built more like a brick than a gazelle. But damn. That kid is fast.

And, suddenly, I was That Mom, chasing the child down the main aisle of Target, calling, "Max! Walk Max! Walking feet! Back to Mommy!" Holy embarrassment.

And all the while, Evan sat, happily strapped into the cart, sipping his lemonade and shaking his head at the spectacle of it all.

Lesson Learned:
Well, we headed straight from Target to the library and experienced even less Public Behavior Success, so, apparently, nothing yet.

Monday, July 25, 2011

harvest time!

So we may be well into (nearing the end of) July....but, we're okay with that. We're all about slow and steady progress around here. Over the last few weeks, we've been reaping what we...sowed? Sown? Had sown? Planted. We've been picking and eating what we planted.

(We've been picking basil and baby strawberries for longer...but they haven't been as exciting to photo-document.)

Have you ever seen a cucumber in the middle of growing? I hadn't. I would have imagined a tiny cucumber that gets bigger all over. But nope, it gets fat at one end before the other end has even really started to grow. Weird.

The sweetest cherry tomatoes I've ever tasted.

Evan likes how they smell, not taste. Max likes his dipped in ranch dressing.

Is this a country fair blue-ribbon winner or WHAT?!

The cucumber is pretty impressive, too.

Lesson Learned:
Best. Mother's. Day. Present. EVER.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

a new baby!

I'm pregnant! Yippee!!

But don't worry. This isn't going to turn into a Pregnancy Blog where I detail my experiences with morning sickness, insomnia, lower back discomfort, or Braxton Hicks contractions. I will, I'm sure, at some point after the birth of the baby, post in excruciating detail the Birth Story, but only because that's the best part of pregnancy--Having The Baby. And I promise to give a warning header in case you're squeamish about words like: dilation, effacement, or mucous plug. Oops. Sorry. Still with me?

Actually, speaking of which.....a woman at the fourth of July parade told me, completely unaware that I'm pregnant, that she saw "The Most Disgusting Thing" at the gym....a woman...."get this"....nine months pregnant, swimming, IN A BIKINI. I just sort of looked at her, thinking back to my own trip to the beach, 7 months pregnant with Max, sunning my big, old, bare pregnant belly. And THEN, she said, "I mean, you're not supposed to be SWIMMING, with all the bacteria in a pool all up in your cervical area. You're not even supposed to take a bath when you're pregnant." I suppose I missed that memo from my OB. It was strange parade-small-talk with a complete stranger, to say the least.

So we're having another baby! And that baby is scheduled to arrive in February....which means that I just may have to start correctly pronouncing the name of this month....I'm a Feb-U-ary girl, I find Feb-RU-ary to be a bit cumbersome. For what it's worth, Feb-U-ary is a commonly accepted pronunciation in most dictionaries, so we'll see.

Evan is so excited....he's already kissing my belly and putting on his fake pout while saying, "I just wish the baby was here so I could be a big brother again." Not that things aren't cool with Max....but now that Max is Big, he has his own ideas and opinions and styles of play....and isn't always a willing participant in Evan's scenarios. But babies? They just lie there and smile and coo, right? Ooooohhhh, selective memories.

Max is excited, too, but more in the Everyone Else is Excited, So I'll Be Excited, Too sense. But he'll occasionally lift up his shirt and say in the sweetest little sing-song voice, "Baaaay-Beeeee!" So I think he's getting it. Maybe?

And now for the answers to some frequently asked questions:
Yup, I feel sick.

Yes, we're finding out if it's a boy or a girl. If you have to ask, you really don't know me.

And as for out-of-the-starting-gate gender predictions: Evan says Girl, Sam says Boy, Max says Baby, and I say, "Man, this pregnancy is SO DIFFERENT from my pregnancies with the boys, soooooooo....." But that's EXACTLY what I said when I was pregnant with Max, so I'm no help.

Yes, we'll share names once we have selected them.

Yes, I'm already "showing." Although that may be, in part, due to the fact that I am embracing and indulging my cravings, which seem to be sweets, carbs, and huge, heaping helpings of The Good Kind of Macaroni and Cheese. I've craved this during each of my pregnancies. Or maybe I just always crave it, but during pregnancy I can justify going out specifically to purchase some frozen Stouffers or the homemade kind from a local grocery store. I actually just whipped up my own homemade three-cheese version and may have found a winner...

And finally, no, we aren't "hoping for a girl"after two boys. We're hoping for a happy, healthy baby. And even if our baby is cranky or has some health concerns, we're just excited to meet him or her. And we're looking forward to  expanding our family and watching the dynamics in our family change for the better with this new addition.

Lesson Learned:
I love love love love being pregnant. I'm going to soak up these next 33 weeks and try to commit each little moment, craving, twinge, flutter, all of it to long term memory. Just like I did with my first two....because there's nothing in the world that can compare to pregnancy. Nothing. I'm grateful that I am able to experience this again, for the third time. And I don't want to take a bit of it for granted.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

more summer science fun...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If you're not reading The Artful Parent, you should be. I found out about this gem from the comments on one of her posts. EVEN THE COMMENTS ARE WORTH READING. I'd seen this experiment on Mr. Wizard, I think, in the 80s. I tried it, I'm sure, but then promptly forgot about just how cool it is. Thank goodness for blog-memory-joggers.

It takes no time at all to set up, uses materials you already have at home, and perfectly illustrates the very difficult-to-imagine scientific concept of change in matter.

So find an empty, plastic bottle, a balloon, and two large bowls. Place the balloon over the opening of the bottle. Fill one of the large bowls with warm water and the other with ice water. Put the bottle in the hot water...

...and watch the balloon inflate! (The science is that, when air is heated...it takes up more space.)

Then place the bottle in the ice water and watch the balloon return to it's deflated state.


Annnnnnnndddd.....REPEAT AGAIN!

And....again? Yup. This kid was happily occupied for more than 15 minutes. Which is about 5x longer than the activity took to set up. So....yes....a very successful spur-of-the-moment science lesson.

Max spent the majority of those 15 minutes stealing and eating ice cubes out of the cold bowl.

Lesson Learned:
I need to find a science experiments-for-kids book at our library. Too bad I can't find Mr. Wizard on syndication. Do you guys remember the one where he peeled a banana and revealed that it was already, MAGICALLY, sliced into rounds? When he explained the "magic," he showed how he took a threaded-needle and put it through the banana...with the thread still through the fruit, he wriggled it back and forth until the fruit was sliced through but the peel just had one little pin prick on either side of the fruit...he repeated this eight or so more times down the length of the banana until it was completely sliced....

Anyway....doing this balloon-bottle experiment reminded me of the banana trick and I TOTALLY want to surprise the kids with it one morning.