Friday, February 27, 2015

fifteen months

dear Sweetpea,

some days i don't know whether you're fifteen months or fifteen years old. you've perfected this coy little smile that you give us when you know you're being cute (or, sometimes, for no apparent reason at all).  you eat with silverware most of the time. you sit on the piano bench and play, and sometimes sing. you cradle Daddy's cell phone between your ear and your shoulder and babble away, accentuating your dramatic tales by shaking your finger or putting your hand on your hip. (for posterity's sake, i will clarify that this cell phone is an ancient Nokia, not a smart-phone, and it will live forever and ever to spite me by proving Daddy's eternal point that Old Things Are Better.)

and, miracle of miracles, you're walking. you took your first steps exactly as expected around your first birthday, but after that, you were content to crawl around the house or be carried when we were outside. sometimes i'd catch you taking up to six or seven steps in a row when you thought i wasn't looking, but as soon as we'd try to get you to do it again, you'd plop down to all fours and triumphantly crawl away. 

this month, though, you graduated to the Walker-Transition room at daycare, and behold! peer pressure in action! with the encouragement of your new teachers and the example of your new friends, you figured it out. you're still working on your balance, and you still crawl sometimes, especially when you're tired. watching you walk around with your sippy cup tucked in the crook of your arm, i'm continually amazed at how much can change in a year!

we marked another big milestone with your very first haircut at Sharkey's Cuts for Kids in Robinson. you just needed a little trim to keep your hair out of your eyes, and your stylist Alysha did a great job keeping most of the length. you really didn't like wearing the cape, since it covered up your arms and hands. but you made it through, and we celebrated with lunch at Buca di Beppo afterwards! 

you celebrated Valentine's Day with Nana this year, who graciously drove out here (right before a snowstorm hit!) to keep you while we went to our church's Valentine's dinner and dance. as per usual, she spoiled you with new clothes, a stuffed kitten, coloring books, new crayons ... and a quart of creamy whole milk from Ritchey's Dairy. unfortunately, you spiked a 104 degree temp that morning and we ended up taking you to the Children's Expresscare, where the doc diagnosed you with an early double ear infection. as soon as we knew what was going on, you perked right up -- which was good, but bizarre. i truly think that you had picked up on my concern (my crazy PA-mom brain was thinking about lumbar punctures and febrile seizures), and once we knew it was a garden variety ear infection, you acted just as relieved as i felt. 

speaking of emotions, we discovered that Amazon Prime Instant Video offers free streaming of the original Mr. Rogers shows. as in, the first few episodes are in black and white. you love the songs, but after a few minutes of watching, you'll go back to playing with your toys until something else piques your interest. Daddy and i, however, are smitten. it's so refreshing to have emotional validation without being patronized. and i love the fact that Mr. Rogers will mention being frustrated or disappointed about something, and then will just sit with that for a little bit -- no moralizing, no lecture on how to see things from the other person's perspective, just simple acknowledgement of feelings and moving on. you do love the trolley and Henrietta Pussy-cat, and as you get older, i'm sure you'll love the show as much as we do.

new words this month include "bee-bee-bee" for "ABCs" and "no!". you used to say pronounce "meow" as "ow!", but now you say "mwah!" in a ridiculously cute mash-up of "meow" with a kissing sound. you can point to your head, nose, ears, tummy, knees, and toes. and you are absolutely obsessed with coloring. you're pretty good about not writing on the furniture. you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that "crayons stay on paper",  so sometimes you look at me with a huge grin before tapping the crayon on the table, which inevitably leads to me reminding you of the rule, you tapping it on the table again, and me confiscating the crayon for several minutes. you protest for a few seconds, and then cheerfully find something else to play with -- my silly girl! 

we love you, Sweetpea! you are our sunshine, every day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

beef wellington. ba dum, CHHHH.

there was a point of no return, sometime around the era that our summer CSA produce baskets began, when we became mildly obsessed with cooking shows. Iron Chef America, Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen, MasterChef, Chopped, Food Network Star, etc. etc. etc. and one fateful evening, we were watching the show most guaranteed to make you feel like an inept loser (MasterChef Junior, where the ten-year-olds make better sushi than I can), when the bar was set for our next culinary challenge.  the kids made Beef Wellington. 

photo credit

since that time, we've honed our cooking chops, and essentially everyone except me has been slowly transforming into homesteaders with homemade mozzarella and ricotta cheese, ginger bug, beer, bourbon vanilla, kefir, hot sauce, and various pickled vegetables. (i've been a little more focused on babies.) and finally, a few weeks ago, we decided it was time to attempt the holy grail. armed with an amalgam of recipes from Alton Brown and Gordon Ramsay, we gave it our best shot. 

fresh from the oven ... at 10:30 PM ... and worth the wait. 

we rounded out our gustatory masterpiece with roasted veggies and red velvet cupcakes with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. and probably should have washed it all down with 80 mg of Lipitor and an insulin drip. it's definitely a special occasion dish... or, as we decided, a dish that warrants its own occasion. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

top ten board books

before every nap, and at bedtime, and usually a few times throughout the day, Greta and i snuggle up to read together. i remember reading to her for the very first time when she was a week old, and choking back tears because i couldn't believe i was actually reading to my daughter like i'd been dreaming about for years (see also: postpartum hormones). now there is certainly no shortage of books in our house, but i'm a little picky when it comes to the ones we read aloud day in and day out. the text has to be colorful (and if it rhymes, the rhythm has to flow easily); the illustrations should be captivating. and of course, Greta has to love it too. the following board books fit the bill! 

1. Little Blue Truck, by Alice Schertle / illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Such a fun read-aloud, with lots of animal (and truck!) sounds. The cheerful plot emphasizes community, but avoids veering into annoying Moral-of-the-Story territory. (Thank you to the Hoynes!) 

2. Time for Bed, by Mem Fox / illustrated by Jane Dyer
The illustrations are deceptively simple at first glance, but every time we read the book, I notice new and beautiful details. Each page features a mother and baby animal pair, and the text reads like a lullaby. (Thank you to Sweetpea's godmother, Steph!)

3. I Am A Bunny, by Ole Risom / illustrated by Richard Scarry
This one's a classic, for a reason! The four seasons come to life with the vibrant illustrations. (Thank you to Nana and Pappy!)

4. Barnyard Dance, by Sandra Boynton
Pure fun to read aloud, with words you don't often encounter in the board book genre: "skitter", "promenade", "prance", and "do-si-do". Greta loves to put her hand through the cut-out window in the front cover and point to the animals (particularly the cow, who has a rollicking time throughout the book). 

5. Hello World! It's Me, Greta!, by Jennifer Dewing / illustrated by Holli Conger
This sweet book is personalized with your baby's name, date of birth, birth weight and length, city of birth, and a photo. Greta loves pointing out "the baby", and it's such a fun way to commemorate the details of her birth! (Thank you to Cousin Ryan & Kelley!)

6. Giraffes Can't Dance, by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
The lilting text begs to be read aloud, and the whimsical illustrations keep us both laughing. Our version of this book also has tabs on the side, for easier page-turning.

7. I Love You, Stinky Face, by Lisa McCourt / illustrated by Cyd Moore
A supremely silly take on the "Runaway Bunny" storyline of a mother's unconditional love. This is another book that lends itself well to dramatic reading, and always makes Greta smile! 

8. Ten Little Ladybugs, by Melanie Geith / illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
Greta has loved this book ever since it arrived (as a birthday gift from Grammy Kim!). She especially likes to "pet" the ladybugs and poke her fingers through the holes in the front cover of the book. 

9. The Napping House, by Audrey Wood / illustrated by Don Wood
The natural rhythm of this sweet story builds through repetition, and then cascades pellmell to a lighthearted finish. (Thank you to the Hoynes!)

10. Jane Eyre: A Counting Primer, by Jennifer Adams / illustrated by Alison Oliver
Words can't express my love for this book. I'm fairly sure there's never been a classier (or nerdier) way to count to ten! (Thank you Amelia!)