Friday, March 30, 2012

Vancouver, Part two

At Granville Island

This time last week I was enjoying a visit with an old friend, and by old I mean that we graduated university together twelve years ago (yikes). She lives in Seattle and found some time to drive up to my dad's house on her way to Whistler for the weekend. I would love to share some photos from our visit, but between her children, mine, and my tiny sister, we had five kids four and under that afternoon. There were kids in every direction, chasing each other, crying, laughing, colouring, and begging for snacks at a constant rate. It is always good to spend time with a best friend, but we really do need to find a way to get together without The Children. Maybe just once.

My Sydney

I was grateful for the visit and it's one of the reasons I was willing to fly across the country with two young ones on my own. The other reasons included: spending time with my brother, Noah, and getting to know my sister, Sydney. Damn it, Canada, for being so vast and enormous. I don't begrudge them living all the way in Vancouver (it's an intoxicating place), but I do wish we were closer. A few other reasons to visit: spending time with Dad, watching bad TV in bed with Kate, being able to come home with two new pairs of shoes (thank, Dad, for working in the shoe business).

Impromptu nail painting part, Vancouver-style

How did Friday get here already? Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for its arrival. Matt has been working at a new (temporary) job and it's taking the entire family a little time to get used to the new schedule. He's working in Toronto, which means that he's leaving our house at six in the morning and coming home around seven at night. Since Shira has been sleeping in until six since we returned from our Pacific Standard Time trip (alert the media) Matt doesn't see Shira from Sunday night to Saturday morning. Alyce has been staying up late to see him at the end of the day, with a new bedtime of eight o'clock, but it makes for a long day. Without our second car I am a little stranded at home (and, yes, that is an open invitation to come visit us). I can still walk to a few places, but it's not like living in a big city where you can travel easily without a car. It's been a good week, but an adjustment. We are both mostly relieved for some income beyond my part-time job, but some days I miss my complete, all in the same room at the same time, family.

Oh, transitions. You do this to me every time.

So hello Friday. Glad to see you again. Matt will be home tonight for a late Shabbat dinner and I cannot wait to just spend some time with my best guy. We've barely seen each other since the drive home from the airport last weekend. And so here are my weekend plans: lounge on the couch with my entire family (see note above, re: all in the same room), and get some of my own work done while Matt and The Children have their own fun.

And you? What are your plans?
Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Food on Thursdays: Pies!

 Oh, Vancouver. We miss you already.

I've been thinking about this beach all day. We're in a cold spell again here and the chill has seeped into my bones. I'm trying to remember exactly how it felt to have the sun on my face last weekend, watching four little ones enjoy all that sand. I can tell you, in case it's been awhile for you, that warm sun on your cheeks feels pretty fantastic. 

Spring has certainly hit this part of Canada, despite today's colder temperatures, so I know there is much sun to come around here. But today was cold and we hid away inside. I thought of braving the day and walking with the girls to the library, but I've been sick since we got back and I wanted an extra day of hibernating. 

So instead we made pies.

I picked up leeks a few weeks ago and they've been haunting the fridge, starring me down every time I open the crisper. I chose them with a quiche in mind, but sometimes I put off making pie crust just because it seems hard. But really, it isn't. When I decided today that this quiche was finally going to happen, I reminded myself that I always dread the making of crust, but that each and every time I end up going on and on about how easy it was. (Like right now.) I stand behind Martha's pate brisee recipe and I suggest that you do, too. It calls for a lot of butter, but don't worry. It's delicious.

Since Shira was having a nap, I invited Alyce to help with the crust. The recipe makes enough for two pies, and since a quiche only requires one of those crusts, I was eager to make something else with my little one, who, obviously, was also eager to make something other than quiche (as she stated loudly). So in addition to the quiche, we decided to make two mini-pies, a raspberry tart for Alyce and an apple tart for me and everyone else. We didn't follow a recipe so much as we threw some fruit into the shells (and the raspberries came straight from the freezer) and topped them with butter and brown sugar (and some cinnamon for the apples). There was no measuring of any kind, unless you count the number of times I counted Alyce dipping her finger directly into the bag of brown sugar (you really don't want to know how many times).  We baked them for 45ish minutes at 350, though I should have had the oven at 375. The choice is yours. Either way you'll get a pie out of it.

Shira eventually woke up and joined us in the kitchen. Here Alyce is slipping her handfuls of edamame beans leftover from lunch. Alyce loves to feed Shira as much healthy, growing food as possible so that she can keep all the sugary pies for herself.

Eventually I made quiche, with no help at all from my helper. I use Tamra Davis' quiche recipe as my base because it only calls for three eggs and a cup of milk. Martha's quiche calls for a dozen eggs and I just couldn't commit to that. As for what went in the quiche, I sauteed the leeks (finally!) with some mushrooms, and of course, added a large handful of white cheddar. Next time I hope I won't let a silly crust stand in the way of a good quiche.

P.S. Did you Thursday treat you well? Did you eat anything delicious today? Would you like to share?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vancouver, Part one

Since I took approximately 1,000 photos in Vancouver (and I'm not even exaggerating), I'll share only a few each day this week so as not to overwhelm you. I'm always thinking of you. Today is brought to you by Instagram, one of my favourite obsessions (you can follow me @mostdaysiwin). Here is a glimpse at our week, like this first photo of my sister, Sydney, collapsing in disappointment at a Snakes and Ladders roll that didn't go her way.  

Shira and Alyce experienced many firsts over the week. Shira enjoyed her first big kid swing, an accomplishment she's still going on about. She also fell in love with my dad's chocolate lab, so now that makes two of us. Abby, or Abigail von Labrador as she is sometimes known, put up with a lot of unwanted attention from our dear Shira. For an old dog she showed incredible patience. Or, maybe she was just too tired to protest. Either way.

Alyce learned how much fun it is to have a best friend her size, who was (usually) willing to share all of her clothes. I loved sharing clothes with my friends so I understood why she was over the moon with excitement about the whole thing. In ninety-percent of my photos she is wearing Sydney's dresses. Poor Syd, she had no idea that Alyce descending on her house for a week meant that her closet was up for grabs. But it made Alyce feel like a princess, so I hope that helped to cushion the blow a bit.

Shira coped with all the change by nursing all the time. When I mean all the time, I mean dawn, morning, noon, dusk, evening, and overnight. I will be sharing some of these details with you later (you're welcome) and will be looking for some suggestions as to how I can gently suggest to my littlest one that she need not nurse every twenty minutes. Because I think I'm the only mother of an almost two-year old who needed to buy more nipple cream last week.

And there was painting. Lots of painting! I don't have much to say about that, except to say that there was also a lot of colouring. Markers, crayons, you name it. Alyce even painted a picture with her mouth, because why not.

While the weather was cold most of the week, Spring had definitely arrived in Vancouver. We enjoyed the new flowers, grass, and colonies of mushrooms in my dad's backyard with our mittens on. We even braved the cold to visit Granville Island, one of my absolute favourite places in the world. It's an enormous market filled with good food, musicians, magicians, pottery stores (my weakness), and flowers everywhere. It also reminds me of my first visits to Vancouver when my dad moved there eighteen years ago. In those early years he and Kate lived in English Bay right across from the Island. I would take a teeny tiny ferry across the way and spend the entire day at the market. I hadn't really experienced anything like that in Ontario and I'm sure my days spent at Granville Island influenced my later obsession with markets. It was also just glorious to spend the days by myself, wandering around for hours and only stopping because I needed to eat more. This trip I was surrounded by Alyce, Shira, and Noah (Sydney was at daycare that day), and though it was a much different experience, it was just as good. They chased birds for hours and Alyce graced the island with an impromptu dance while a busker sang "All you need is love." A crowd gathered around her and she danced her heart out. And then I grinned because I knew that I was the one who got to take her home with me.

Some days we needed to do a lot of driving to get to the places we were going, but it was always worth it. The ocean is always worth it. When my dad asked Alyce if she was enjoying her afternoon at the beach, she replied, "there is no better place to be!" I'll second that. The afternoon was glorious, with warm sun to fight against the cold temperatures. I was having a bit of a rough time at the end of our trip, but the wind coming off the ocean made me feel human again.

Back tomorrow with more!

P.S. Who else is with me? Vancouver might just be the greatest.

Monday, March 26, 2012


So we're back from Vancouver and it is time to regroup. The news last week sent my world spinning a little bit, but I'm back. We're back. It's now time to slowly piece together a new plan for the next year or two. There are times when I stubbornly, in true tantrum fashion, refuse to make another plan. We have been doing nothing but making plans for a very long time now! But then I think, maybe all this practice will finally make perfect, right? So now that my tantrum is over, I will use my experience in planning for the good. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

For now, for Monday, we are settling in back home. With some extra sleep for this morning (hello time change!), Alyce is back at school after missing last week for our visit out west. My heart felt lighter this morning after watching her kindergarten class welcome her back like a rock star returning from a world tour, or an astronaut returning from the first trip to Jupiter. Alyce was greeted by enormous hugs and loud cheers from her class. She gave me the widest grin and I know she felt special. And she is special.

Shira and I are spending the day at home. We're making muffins (again), catching up on Smash, and slowly unpacking. As she naps this afternoon I'm reintroducing myself to some work that was waiting for me, something I'm enjoying very much. It's good for my brain to focus on my teaching for now.

I'll be posting some (many) photos from our trip later today, so I'll thank you in advance for indulging me. For now, I wish you the very best of Mondays!

P.S. Thank you so much for all the kind messages you've sent me over the past few days. It means everything.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A letter

This morning Alyce waved a wand over my head and proclaimed that she had magically turned me into a midwife.

An hour later I received a letter informing me that I had not been accepted into midwifery school. I had not even been granted an interview.

I wasn't expecting that news. From this side of the rejection letter, clearly I should have prepared myself better. But never really occurred to me that I wouldn't have an interview. Sure, I might not get an offer of admission, but surely I'd make it through the first round. The rejection letter stated that my personal essay did not receive a high enough score to move to forward.

You might be thinking that I should never have been so confident in the first place, but hear me out: have you ever wanted something so badly that you feel as though you already have it? Have you spent so much time thinking so much about a possibility that it becomes a reality, even if only in your head? I talked myself out of applying to midwifery twelve years ago, and I felt as though returning to this path again and again meant that it was my path. Like it was just waiting for me all along, patiently sitting around, growing stronger, eager to welcome me on my journey to becoming a midwife.

It seems that I was wrong.

Today isn't the day for making plans for the future. Of course I will probably apply again next year (it is on my list, after all), but I need to move forward with something else in the meantime. So much of our decision to move back here revolved around me starting midwifery school this fall, and this letter today sort of took my breath away. I have a lot of thinking to do. But today isn't for thinking. Today is for disappointment. No matter what wonderful opportunities will develop in the coming year, and I truly believe that they will, today is the day for feeling sad, for sitting with all of these unpleasant feelings.

It was a crappy day.

Friday, March 16, 2012

And a good Friday morning to you

Around our house, sometimes we just like to eat our oatmeal in bed. My mum's bed, to be exact. While watching cartoons. I can tell you that the experience of having a bed picnic with two small children is worth the extra bit of clean-up.

So, what are you doing today? Are you counting the hours until a weekend of spring weather? Will you find a farmer's market to wander through? If I weren't flying to Vancouver this weekend, that's exactly what I'd be doing. But I am flying to Vancouver in one more sleep, as Alyce declared upon waking this morning, so I have a busy day of preparations. It's a long, long list:

  • Finish lesson notes for my online course. I believe the deadline was last week. Oops. 
  • Stop by the dollar store for delightful pieces of plastic that might entertain two kids on a plane for five hours. Also, stickers.
  • Pick up a new dolly for a certain four-year-old sister of mine
  • Pack our bags!
  • Make snacks and lunches for our trip.
  • Stress about airport security with two small children, one of whom has a habit of running away.
  • Eat some homemade pizza with Matt and enjoy at least a little bit of March Madness with him.
  • Sleep twenty hours.
  • Come to terms with that last one not happening, but still get to bed before nine. 
I hope your own Friday moves along quickly and gets you to the weekend!

What are your plans? 

P.S. A very useful post from Oh Happy Day! on flying with young kids.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Today I learned that my four-year-old can open the back gate

Alyce (four) and Shira (almost two) play together in the backyard a lot. Now that the winter is behind us for the most part, they are outside throughout the day, usually bickering about who gets to push the plastic grocery cart. I don't always stay outside with them, but since the patio doors are off the kitchen, I can see and hear them while I putter around. This afternoon, a few moments after my stepfather came home from work, the front doorbell rang. I was halfway wondering who could be at the door when I realized. I mean, I really realized. In a matter of a millisecond I peeked in the backyard, found no children, and ran to the front of the house. I found Alyce on the front porch and Shira ON THE ROAD.


I ran to the street and scooped her up. She was fine. Thank God. I turned to Alyce and saw that look on her face, the one where I can see that she's embarrassed, upset, worried, and all with a smile on her face. After the second time I asked she admitted that she had opened the back gate and walked Shira out to the front yard. She explained that she had tried to hold her hand, but that Shira was too fast and ran down to the street.

Of course Alyce thought she was big enough to look after Shira. She knows that she isn't allowed to leave the backyard, but she's also four years old and spends most of her time trying to impress me with how awesome she is. She thought she could handle it. I get that.

I didn't get angry with her. I told her that under no circumstance was she ever to let herself or Shira out of the backyard again. And then I gave her the biggest hug I've ever given and thanked her for knowing when to get help. If she hadn't acted quickly and rang the doorbell to get my attention, Shira might have been hurt. I was so proud of her and I told her so. And then I nursed Shira and held her for approximately eleven hours.

I wanted to share this tonight because I obviously could have used a reminder that Alyce is growing up and can do things like unlatch an enormous gate. My eyes were off them for minutes, that's it, but it was long enough. Parents can't watch their kids every single second, it's just impossible. But I won't be taking my eyeballs from them for a long while.

Next thing on my to do list? Buy a lock.

Food on Thursdays: Macaroni and Cheese

We made more leftover morning oatmeal muffins again. We're addicted, it seems. Also, you'll notice our sad parsley plant growing in the pot next to the muffins. Last year at this time our parsley was thriving in preparation for Passover. This year, not so much.

Do you know who leaves for Vancouver is TWO DAYS? We do (sorry, Matt, not you). Alyce has been counting her sleeps all week long, I've been thinking about packing, but then not packing, and Shira has no idea whatsoever what an airplane is. But that's ok. Over the next couple of days we will get our things together, give kisses to Matt, and enjoy eight days with some good people and some good ocean. I can't wait to show Alyce the Pacific!

We are, it turns out, still a sick house. Shira is doing well but now Alyce has a terrible cough and is now using an inhaler for the next couple of weeks. She had problems with wheezing once before, so fingers crossed that this doesn't become a thing. In case you were wondering, her energy levels have not been affected. I repeat, she still has energy. But I didn't want to stray too far from home today regardless, so we spent another morning baking and cooking. Oh, baking and cooking, how I love you.

I might have a problem.

We made another batch of the leftover oatmeal muffins (this time with apples instead of chocolate chips, because I am a beacon of willpower) before turning our attention to our favourite household meal: macaroni and cheese. Now before you feel antsy about the butter and the cheese and the carbohydrates, just take a moment to remember that macaroni and cheese, if made not from a box*, is real food. Actual, delicious, tangible food that is good for you. Yes, it is high in milk fat, but let's not worry about that. Think instead about the fact that you can make this from a few ingredients in your pantry, your children will probably dream about it (mine do), and it's just really good.

I kid you not when I tell you that I make this almost once a week. Alyce does not eat much food, and while we don't cater our meals to her four-year-old preferences, I make this on a regular basis because I know that it gives her so many good things: whole wheat pasta, real cheese, real milk. And butter. I would wager that Alyce is probably made of 75% macaroni and cheese.

You can do a lot with this recipe. I make it a lot for friends (it is my usual meal to bring to a family with a new baby, or to someone who just needs it for their own medicinal purposes. I have tried adding vegetables, but that didn't work for us (not even cauliflower). I usually serve this with a big salad, with some oil and lemon (as per the Broccoli Rule). Other times we just fill up the whole plate with more mac and cheese. It freezes well, and so I usually portion out a few servings in the freezer.

*Boxed macaroni and cheese, I still love you. You just can't be the only macaroni and cheese in my life.

Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

1 lb whole wheat macaroni
8 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp flour
1 tbsp grainy mustard
4 cups milk (whole milk is best, but I use skim all the time)
few sprigs fresh thyme (optional, but worth it)
bay leaf
3 cups old cheddar, or a mix of whatever cheese you like
Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Boil a pot of water, add a little salt and macaroni.

While that's cooking, melt butter over medium heat (I use my dutch oven for this so that once the whole thing is done I can just throw it right in the oven to bake). After the butter has melted and is starting to bubble, add a little salt (a pinch or two), and the flour. Stir the butter and flour together with a wooden spoon, and as soon as it's mixed, add the mustard. Keep mixing.

As soon as everything is combined, switch to a whisk and add the first cup of milk. You'll want to make sure that the flour mixture has dissolved before you add the rest of the milk, a little at a time. Once the milk is in you can lower the heat, add the bay leaf, and if you are using, the sprigs of thyme. Let this simmer together for 15 minutes, stirring every so often to make sure the sauce doesn't stick.

After 15 minutes, remove the bay and thyme (if you are using). Add the cheese and slowly mix together. Add the Worcestershire sauce (maybe two shakes-worth), a little pepper, stir, and then turn off the heat. Leaving the the heat on after the cheese has melted into to the sauce makes for a rubbery sauce. Martha taught me that. Thanks, Martha.

Once the macaroni is cooked, strain it and throw it in the cheese sauce. This is why I like my dutch oven--because then you just throw it all in the oven. If you're using a regular pot on the stove, then you'll need to oil an oven-safe dish and transfer the mac and cheese. Either way, cook for 20 minutes and you're done!

For those of you with kids who will (gasp) eat breadcrumbs, throw some fresh breadcrumbs on top before baking. And maybe some parmesan, too. I think it usually needs a bit more salt, but since I'm always cooking for little ones, I tend to just salt my own after it's been plated.

Go enjoy it. You deserve it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ten reasons I should write for Babble

Babble is looking for a new blogger to contribute to their blog for parents of kids four and older. I thought I should let them know that I have a four year old, and I like to write about her. And me. And our adventures. Here are ten things the editors at Babble might be interested to know:

1. Every week my tutorial on how to remove a foreign object from a child's nose helps people all around the world. Or at least a few people. But those people seem very grateful when that bead or jelly bean or dried cranberry comes flying out of that nostril. I like to help.

2. On account of Alyce's extraordinary skills and abilities, making it so that she doesn't need to breathe all day long and can instead talk for twelve hours straight, I am never wanting for material. Ever.

3. For example, this morning she watched me getting dressed after my shower and gleefully observed that I am, for lack of a better word, a bit lopsided. Isn't she observant? I could write about the impact of that observation all day long.

4. I am equal part calm, patient parent and part prone to anxiety, am I doing it right, oh my god I'm breaking the children parent. I think this balance is both fruitful and ridiculous. And Alyce is equal part absolutely in love with me and part already rolling her eyes at me. We're a good team

5. Alyce is also an older sister. Since I was raised as an only child I have absolutely no idea what to do with siblings. When they argue over barbie dolls, I find myself standing in the next room curled up in a ball in the corner. I'm a slow learner.

6. Speaking of the younger sister, Shira is almost two. On most days she is so attached to me that I fear she will climb back in the womb when I'm not looking. We haven't made any decisions yet, but both my husband and I want more children. I don't know how we'll make it work, but our family isn't done growing. Alyce has ordered a baby brother and Shira, you can imagine, is in complete denial.

7. Lately I find myself standing in the middle of a lot of change. As I try to navigate my next move, determining what is best for both myself and my family, I'm taking a moment to rest in the eye of the storm. I'm watching my children learn the ups and downs of new surroundings, watching my husband take his own first steps on a new path, and listening to myself, trying to figure out what I want. There are times when the all the unknowns feel overwhelming, but at the same time it is also a bit magical. I'm spending time at home with my girls and dreaming up new possibilities. I know I'll look back on this time in our lives with a quiet fondness, but for the time being I am filled with more of a range of emotions, from complete panic to nervous excitement.

8. Did I mention that we're living with my mother and stepfather? Exactly.

9. I think and write a lot about what it means to raise daughters. I worry about how they will come to understand themselves in a world of princesses, warped body images, mean girls, and generally annoying expectations about what they are, or ought to be, like because they are biologically and socially girls. I wrote a Master's thesis about gender, so both my heart and brain are programed to think about this. I also spend time not worrying about them, and instead just enjoy all the rainbows, princesses, sparkles, acrobatics, and stories that fill their worlds. (And because I spend a lot of time thinking about raising girls, I then start thinking about what it's like to raise boys, because people, gender does not exist in a vacuum. Girls and boys, they both need us.)

10. I like to write. And I like to read what other people write. I was destined to overshare.

Five things I really like

 A little Toopy and Binou before breakfast.

1. Watching cartoons in the morning.

2. Picking Shira up out of her crib after her nap and bringing her into our bed, under the duvet, for some post-nap nursing. I want to bottle that feeling.

3. Watching Matt trying to get a single word in while Alyce, Shira, and I are talking, talking, talking.

4. Listening to Alyce hum while she eats.

5. Baking muffins with Alyce, hearing her tell me that I need to the half cup measure, not the full cup, and that we don't need baking powder but baking soda. And watching her delight as I sneak a few extra chocolate chips in her hand before adding them to the mix.

P.S. And in case you're wondering, the muffins we made yesterday were from SouleMama and the recipe calls for leftover oatmeal from breakfast. Since we always have leftover oatmeal, I feel as though this recipe speaks to me on a higher level. Also, the muffins were tasty. Today we added chocolate chips. The next time we'll add apples. There's no stopping us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A sick day and a dress

Shira's stomach flu has dug its heels into our house. Shira is on the mend, but still run down, not too hungry, and in general suspicious of the world. She's now passed the bug along to me, and while I'm not feeling my best, I'm not completely knocked over by it. Let's just cross fingers that Alyce is immune. (Can you hear the universe laughing? I sure can.) We are set to leave for Vancouver this weekend (four more sleeps, if you ask Alyce), and I would like everyone to have a clean bill of health before we ago. Because of course I'm envisioning projectile vomiting during the five-hour plane ride. 

So the three of us settled in for another day at home. But what a day at home it was! I didn't check the temperature all day, but I can tell you that it was officially warm. I put a hat on Shira more out of habit than anything else. Can you see the bottom of her dress peeking out from her coat? It was Alyce's dress, and she wore it on the day I went into labour with Shira. I remember that Matt, Alyce and I went together to see our midwife that morning, where we were warned about all the potential labour-inducing tactics we might face over the next few days since I was forty-one weeks. My midwife performed my third (yes, third) stretch and sweep of the old membranes, and I was feeling a bit uncomfortable by the time we left. We did some errands together, went to another appointment, and later that night I was sure that she was finally ready.

The next morning we were a family of four. Ever since that day, whenever I look at that dress, my heart feels heavy with all those emotions I felt knowing that I was going to have to split my love between two little ones. All of those experiences I had only shared with Alyce, like breastfeeding, spending hours in bed counting toes, or days wandering around carrying her in my sling, just the two of us, were no longer just going to be ours. It took my breath away that day. And now, so does the dress. But I quickly caught that breath and chased Shira down the street a hundred different times as we walked, the three of us, around the block this morning.

For a sick day, it wasn't so bad. On our walk this morning we met some new friends who have invited us over later in the week. They have two girls, a four year old and a brand new baby. Do you think she heard my uterus ache as I caught a glimpse of her newborn tucked closely into her wrap? I hope not. I like to wait until at least the second new-friend date before my uterus starts making loud noises.

Later in the afternoon, after Shira took a glorious two hour nap, in which time Alyce and I made some paintings for friends and watched all the good parts of Beauty and the Beast (no need to waste time on Gaston, of course), we headed back outside to enjoy a perfect late afternoon sun. We quickly found ourselves collecting as many acorn hats as possible. And yes, that is the latest issue of Real Simple that arrived in the mail this morning. For a couple of girls with the flu, it wasn't so bad at all.

I include this last photo as an ode to my iphone. Just a little shout-out to my camera of choice.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The day started out well

Sunday. I enjoy Sundays. Even on the first morning of daylight savings time when most people are (rightly) complaining about that missing hour of sleep, I woke up in great spirits because the time change made it so that Shira slept in past seven! Even though I know it was *really* six, I let myself be fooled. I don't think I have ever seen that side of seven with Shira, and I'll take my victories where I can get them. We spent the rest of the morning getting busy outside in the backyard and enjoying another beautiful reminder that spring is around the corner. Both girls helped me collect about a million broken branches strewn across the backyard, and then they happily occupied themselves with a bit of croquet. All I can say is, they make their own rules.
After lunch we made cities out of blocks. And then the Shira Monster destroyed the defenseless cities. Next time we'll need to fortify the perimeter a bit, maybe with some miniature farm animals.

Later in the afternoon we escaped to the park and I think I grinned the entire time. Every year I get very excited for winter, but then every year I still lose my mind for spring. For me spring means parks, tulips, thoughts of fresh produce at the farmer's market, and not having to wear socks anymore. I can't stand wearing socks.

In our house it also means March Madness, but I'll let Matt tell you more about that another time. Don't bug him now, though, because it's March Madness.

The park was filled to the brim with happy families enjoying the warm weather, and Alyce and Shira had a great time. When it was time to leave, after strapping Shira into the stroller, she immediately began projectile vomiting. Everywhere. For what seemed like an eternity (it was probably about a minute). And so here we are now, quiet on a Sunday night, preparing for a March Break with the stomach flu. So far Shira can't keep anything in, not even breast milk. I'll be sleeping with her tonight since she's already shown that she can't be trusted not to vomit in her sleep (we learned that about an hour ago). I expect she'll be feeling better tomorrow, and I'll just have to cross my fingers that it won't spread to the entire house. Wish us luck.

What are your plans for March Break? We're not going anywhere tomorrow, so I'm thinking a lot of crafts. And baking. Always baking. Are you going away?  Do you have a week filled with projects, or are you just going to see what happens? Whatever your plans, I hope spring treats you kindly wherever you are.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

On International Women's Day

On International Women's Day, I offer you a glimpse at my two daughters. They are small now, but they are fierce. I want many things for them in this world. I want them to be generous, with themselves and with others. I want them to know, until their eyes roll out of their heads, that they have parents who love them, love them, love them. I want my daughters to fill their heads with dreams of princesses, stars, elephants, butterflies, stories, painting, dancing, far away places, the people they love, new opportunities, and things they can't even imagine yet. I want them to love themselves. I want them to love other people.

For me, International Women's Day is now all about my daughters. So I dedicate this day to my Alyce Mary and my Shira Clementine. Love you too much, Mama.

I would also like to dedicate this day to your daughters.

Happy International Women's Day!

P.S. With thanks to Tina Fey, a prayer for our daughters.