Tuesday, March 27, 2012

planting season

There is nothing better than a visit from a friend.  
Last week my friend Lori came to visit and as we cooked dinner in the kitchen and listened to Rosie Thomas, it seemed as though this is how we've spent every Friday night.  It's the sign of a true friend - one who knows you without words and one who can pick up though time has brought us in many different directions.  She came a year and a half ago for her "regathering" tour.  While she was here we did little more than enjoy every moment of taking some time together.  Lori brought Julia a great big bag full of planting supplies.  On Saturday we had a morning agenda, but sometimes 2-year old don't follow an agenda (wow, amazing concept!), which was fine for Lori and I.  We decided to plant the seeds.  As we helpled Julia discover each of the supplies she needed in the planting process, I couldn't help but think of the words from the last time Lori was here: 
GATHER. Defined:- to bring together and take in from scattered places or sources.
This time.  
PLANT - to grow something from the ground. 
We have come a long way in our friendship. Though life is always evolving and we will be gathering pieces of ourselves throughout our life, there comes a time to gather what you have and plant it firm in the ground. 

I can just imagine that next up will be the HARVEST - the process or period of gathering in.   
There are so many amazing things about spring.  The promises of newness are all around and in early bloom this year.  As new buds bloom, it is a refreshing glimpse of growth in our own lives.
Thank you Lori for the planting season - the one that involves seeds and little sprouts and the bigger one of life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Telling a story

I am not good at telling stories.  Just ask my husband.
I can start the best of them, but midway through I often get side tracked and I'm not really sure of the point anymore.  It drives most people crazy, but it's pretty consistent with my personality.  At this point in my life I am learning to embrace this quality of mine.  If a story needs to be told, I just have my husband tell it.  Apparently, Julia has inherited this same non-storytelling gene.  She has a lot to say, but the point is often lost as she becomes absorbed in her next adventure.  Sometimes I can catch her at those precious moments when everything flows and her words create this beautiful masterpiece on her view of her world, but those times are few and far between.  Most of the time I am wondering how we go from discussion of worms to "when will I ever get to go to the beach again?".  
The other day I caught her talking to herself as she was coloring at her table.  She was engaged in a very frank discussion about the specific colors that Mimi likes and how much fun they have together.  I didn't want to interrupt her, but I had this great idea...so often Julia says the greatest things about the people that she loves, but as soon as I get them on the phone, she won't talk.  I figured if I could capture her words as she drew, then we could create a cute little project together.  
This "project" was inspired by my first grade teacher - she used to take our words and create a story. She did such a good job of it that I remember feeling like I was an author.  I loved knowing that my words could create meaning to something.  So as Julia drew a picture (for whoever she chose), we decided to talk about the ways that she loves that person, what is special about them, and what reminds her of that person.  I found that we could only do a few because then it lost some of the excitement, but the ones that we did were quite cute!  
Here is one that she made for my sister:

We did a few others, but I put them in an envelope to send off before I remembered to take a picture.  The others involved crayons and some paint, but she was very specific that she wanted to tell a story with pictures/stickers for Aunt Kirstan (or Aunt Cookie as Julia calls her).
Here is what you need to replicate this on your own:
1) the ability to catch your child at a great moment (sometimes the stars have to align for this to occur)
2) paper, crayons, stickers - whatever a child needs to feel inspired
3) your undivided attention to ask some questions and/or capture their words while they draw

How easy is that?  Happy storytelling.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

digging roots

Last weekend we took a trip to Pennsylvania to visit family and friends.  I used to make this drive every other weekend when Charles and I were dating long distance.  What was once a non-stop route that used to be made in record time is now measured in Finding Nemo played through from start to finish three times, one or two stops that make me feel like sleuth mom as I change diapers, feed a child and fuel up and a meltdown or two as we make our final approach.  No matter how difficult the drive, the feeling as we pull in the driveway makes it all worthwhile.  
This trip was different.  It was a new start in many ways.  We met baby Henry and celebrated the upcoming arrival of baby Gessler.  We also have a new destination: my parent's new home.  Yup, they are finally in.  Their journey to this new home began right around Julia's birth as they headed back to the East coast from Sedona.  The last two years have been a test of patience, a gift of valuable time with family, and an amazing story of God's faithfulness.  While my parents didn't know their final destination, they had a vision in their hearts.  It was almost as if we could envision this place well before anyone stepped foot on these grounds.  As I watched Julia run up and down the hill and feed the horses with Papa, I couldn't help but smile.  I've had this picture in my mind for such a long time and now it is real.  
It's good to have a place to dig your roots deep again.  A place that my children will always know as a warm and inviting getaway.  A retreat for all of us, a place to shriek at the skunks in the "bamboo forest", collect carrots for the horses, take long walks in the surrounding fields, a place to watch the sunrise while gripping a cup of coffee, and to dance to Norah Jones as we make breakfast. 
Although this is not my home, it sure feels like we we belong here and every moment of this weekend was well worth the wait!

Welcome HOME Mimi and Papa!  
Welcome home!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

For the love of pancakes.

Another fun guest post on Plant.Eat.Create - those ladies never cease to inspire me!  This one focuses on our latest endeavor...introducing foods.  While none of the recipes highlighted in that post are appropriate for Charlie (they are more toddler focused), I realize how close we are to the good stuff.  And speaking of the "good stuff", Charlie wants nothing to do with baby food despite my homemade efforts.  He wants what is on our plates.  This little guy has skipped a few steps, but I think he's on the right track.  
Here is a new staple recipe that we've adopted - and as of this morning, Charlie has too!  Welcome to the world of pancakes Charlie!  Your preference for pancakes over baby food must have something to do with our weekly pumpkin pancake breakfast at Coughlins for the nine months you were cooking. 
 Pumpkin Ricotta Pancakes (a great protein packed breakfast!)

1 ¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 hefty pinch of nutmeg
1 pinch cardamom
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk (or regular milk plus some heavy cream)
½ cup fresh ricotta
¾ cup canned pumpkin puree
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Whisk the dry ingredients in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick). Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter in 2 additions. Grease a large non-stick skillet and place over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, greasing the skillet between batches.

To make the night before - prep all ingredients, leaving out the egg whites.  Fold in the egg whites in the morning and cook 'em up!
The pancake queen.  Or princess of all things "cake".