31 October 2011
I promised myself to blog every (week) day for a while and so far, so good. It's taken a surprising amount of discipline to do it, in part because the days seem to go on until about 9:30 or so, then cleaning up and then blog? Oh my.
But it's been good. It's been very good. It's been a wonderful way to reflect on my life. It's given me a reason to get the camera out more often, to notice my life, to look for the positive, to see what is unique about our family and our life. There will be more...
For now, I'm home solo with two little ones while Papa braves the snow at a conference in DC. Pumpkin is sick. She has the absolute most pathetic little scratchy voice cry. She wants badly to be by mama all the time. Peanut is helping a lot. He set the table for breakfast today. When we were done, he cleared it, without being asked. It was so neat.
I'm reading Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, which was recommended by Meg at Sew Liberated. It's having a big impact on the way I talk to Peanut and a positive effect on his behavior. Thank goodness. All the biting, hitting, pushing over (I call it three-year-old tourettes) was driving me nuts. Or I should say, I felt angry when he hit, bit, pushed. It's happening less. We're getting through. There's hope.
Otherwise, we are just having slow days, staying home, eating out of the freezer, and looking forward to Papa coming home!
28 October 2011
26 October 2011
We're surrounded by boxes. In fact, another 32 arrived today. We have one book case and about 30 book boxes. Sometimes it feels like the only thing we're making around here is the biggest pile of packing paper ever – to re-use... because we'll do this all again before too long.
In the meantime, I'm using this little space as my cabinet of wonders. Wonderful things to use. Wonderful ideas to contemplate. Wonderful hours coming up to tide us through what will certianly be a long, grey, wet winter. Taking a moment in my day to peek in here reminds me that the boxes are temporary. We are in-between. We are getting there – and don't forget to enjoy the journey!
Go see more creative spaces!
25 October 2011
I've long admired Montessori-inspired activities that appear to challenge all my ideas about what kids can manage, what they should be allowed to play with. The old “sure – give a 3 year old a knife” attitude is one I've had to cultivate. After a visit with new neighbors who have a whole box of adventurous “toys” including a hammer, it was time. A quick trip to the thrift store turned up three spice jars and we were off!
It's a small baking sheet, three jars, a coffee measure, a wooden spoon, a teaspoon and a whole lot of beans from the kitchen. My initial fear was beans everywhere. Beans on the floor, beans under the carpet, beans in clothes, beans, beans, beans. It happened, of course, a couple of times, but pouring into jars, pouring from jars onto tray, pouring from jar to jar, scooping with different tools – it was all much more fun than picking up individual beans from the ground. I think it helped to stay calm about the beans everywhere. I stopped him and started picking up beans. He saw and eventually helped as well. The tray is really helpful – it gives him boundaries.
All in all, it was a fun undertaking. Peanut was fully occupied for half an hour or so. This seems to be the right kind of activity for right now. With winter and lots of Dutch rain on its way, I'm hoping to develop a catalog of similar activities – and find the time to put them together, too. Another idea I have is to cut shapes out of sandpaper that can be used as rubbings. It occurs to me that if we make them together, it might actually get done. Or we could unpack. Hrm.... Any suggestions for more activities we could add to our repertoire?
23 October 2011
Sunday was Papa's birthday. In our house, you get to decide on the menu for the day. We had pancakes for breakfast and pork chops, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and roasted pumpkin for dinner. We also baked two cakes for Papa to take to work on Monday, a German cheesecake and a marbled poundcake. My special helper cleaned the mixer for me.
Dinner was a huge success. Apparently, I need to make a lot more macaroni and cheese in the future. Peanut sat at the table until the dishes were done, eating beans and pumpkin in exchange for macaroni – both of which he would eat anyway. Macaroni just so delicious he wanted heaps.
The pumpkin and green beans came from the weekly market in Nijmegen. It's around the corner, so we've been going every Saturday. We buy fruit and vegetables, eggs, and cheese. We've also picked up lunch the past couple weeks – herring and lekkerbek, which is breaded, fried, seasoned fish. Also known as the “brown fish.” Didn't get enough this time around – who would have thought a three year old would like herring, with onions?
The birthday, the market, it's all part of building our family traditions. They are events and moments that I look forward to a little bit more every time. And how nice is life if you get to look forward to every Saturday – the mandatory grocery shopping part? It's exciting to watch our rhythm evolve as we settle into life here.
21 October 2011
20 October 2011
Here's Peanut's perfect-for-now art supply caddy. About a year and a half ago, I bought a set of Lyra Ferby colored pencils for him. It was a difficult but invaluable purchase. They have been one of our best kid buys ever. We received Stockmar Beeswax Coloring Blocks and Crayon Rocks as gifts. Having good materials has made coloring and drawing a lot of fun for Peanut. When he draws, he can become thoroughly absorbed in the task. It is a joy to watch.
We added some Koh-i-noor Mondeluz watercolor pencils to his selection this spring and he really likes them. I wasn't ready to do a big investment, in part because I was unfamiliar with the medium. Instead of getting a box, we only got five pencils; red, blue, yellow, black, and white. I think he likes the feel of a thinner pencil as well as the rich color. He doesn't have much use for the watercolor aspect, though. He doesn't ask for water often and if he uses it, it's to brush over lines as opposed to blocks of color. It's always interesting to see what he draws.
The Playful Learning blog inspired me to try arranging more purpose oriented spaces or stations in our home. This box contains different colored pencils and crayons, notebooks, stencils, and a few postcards for inspiration. What do you like to work with? Has the type of materials available influenced your or your children's creativity? Which camp are you in, “earn the materials” or “quality materials first”?
Go see more creative spaces!
19 October 2011
I saw some delicious looking savory rolls at the market and decided to try my own version. The dough is half of a batch of Tassajara bread made with 50/50 whole wheat and white flour and no milk (powdered or otherwise). Rolled out the dough, filled, and then rolled and sliced like cinnamon rolls. The filling is pesto, aged cheese (belegen), and walnuts. The result is delicious. One playgroup later, there were only three rolls left for a late night, poorly lit picture.
The other half of the dough became a cinnamon sugar loaf. The Tassajara bread recipe is excellent. It's the most consistently successful of all the bread I've tried over the past year or so. The trick is the sponge method, don't even think about skipping it. Yeast, sweetener, all the liquid, and half the flour beaten 100 times before anything else happens. Using the same method also dramatically improved my pizza crust. I'm thinking these rolls might go into a weekly rotation. A batch a week would make a great option for a quick lunch or snack. Any filling suggestions?
18 October 2011
17 October 2011
14 October 2011
12 October 2011
What's in your bag? What are your essentials?
Go see more creative spaces!
Monday: why we chose to plan a home birth. Yesterday: the birth story.
11 October 2011
Yesterday: why we chose to plan a home birth.
10 October 2011
37 weeks pregnant and looking for a midwife – that was me this spring. This is the story of how we ended up having a planned home birth in Chicago. A home birth was never part of the master plan. My prenatal care was at a university hospital with a fine OB/GYN. We lived close by (perhaps even laboring walking distance). Insurance would cover a hospital birth. But it gradually became clear that a hospital birth wasn't going to work for me.
07 October 2011
06 October 2011
Go see more creative spaces!
05 October 2011
We came to this place by pure chance. After weeks of research on-line, days of planning visits with various realtors, and visits to three possible homes, it came down to 45 minutes one evening and a lucky internet search. We walked my in-laws' house at 4:15 on a Thursday afternoon and hoped to make one appointment for the next day. It worked. A huge sigh of relief.
We had to arrange parking permits for the movers. One of our movers. We had things in storage at my in-laws, our car in transit from Chicago, and our goods in transit as well. Figuring out where we could park and what permits were available took a few phone calls and emails. Only by chance did we find out that the day that our goods from Chicago were scheduled to be delivered was the beginning of a city fair (kermis). The next possible date for a parking permit? Two weeks later. And we went for another round of last minute phone calls. We'll be waiting another week or so for that.
Now our excitement is internet. For reasons I may never fully understand, these things take weeks in the Netherlands. We ordered our internet/phone service about two weeks ago. They sent a modem last week. They were supposed to turn on our service today (we requested it for last Monday). No service yet. Lucky for us the library is next door. I don't anticipate this working out well, at least not in the near term. Grumble grumble grumble.
On the upside, though – mobile phones were a cinch and we have reasonably priced packages. We celebrated Peanut's third (THIRD!!!) birthday last week and he loved it, especially the singing. Apparently we can skip gifts as long as we sing “Happy Birthday” repeatedly. My kind of kid! Our neighbors have a little boy the same age as Peanut with almost the same name. They came by to drop of a sweet gift and stayed for coffee and are nice! For those of you not familiar with the Netherlands – this kind of paying attention to neighbors is almost shocking, it's too friendly. We're delighted. We have guests already scheduled to come and plenty of space for them, too. All in all – life shaping up just fine.
Do you see those chairs? There's a good story there, too.
04 October 2011
03 October 2011
- Paul Cohelo, The Alchemist
- Heleen van Royeen, De gelukkige huisvrouw
- Harry Mulisch, De Zaak 40/61: een reportage