Archive | August, 2014

Dear Coco, on your 4th birthday

28 Aug

My dear Coco,

Hugging her pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.

Hugging your pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.

You have taught me a lot this year – I learned that I have great patience for messes, but not for puzzles; that there is always time for one more hug; and that a snuggle can cure any wrongs, especially when the snuggle is with someone as loving as you.

Jumping in the leaves!

Jumping in the leaves!

Somewhere in the course of this year you became a little girl, full of little girl opinions (princesses are the best), best friends, and favorites of all kinds (chocolate, princesses, and, like most other girls, anything Frozen). I am continually in awe of your imagination, which has only grown with each passing year. Every day you concoct some grand make believe game that we are all required to participate in, whether we want to or not. You have also discovered card games and board games, which gives us a chance to slow down and play something where the rules don’t change every few seconds.

Sassy girl

Sassy girl

Biscuit is your biggest fan. He adores you so much – he always wants to play with you, and you are generally really good about including him in some way or another. Whenever we go to the park I usually see him tagging along after you, and I can hear you calling for him to “come this way!” or to “follow me!” And, like all siblings, there are times when you just don’t see eye to eye, but I get it. I have a brother too.

Brrr, it was a cold winter!

Brrr, it was a cold winter!

In September we started you back to preschool 2 days a week. It was a rough transition – you had been home with me and your brother everyday for over a year, and you were not happy to be away from us. It took a long time, but you made some wonderful friends who made school fun for you. The switch to your new school after our most recent move went pretty well, and you’ve got a new best friend that you look forward to seeing. We have definitely noticed that preschool has been wonderful for you. Your social skills have greatly improved, you have really learned how to play by yourself, and you are very interested in learning how to read. It is also becoming apparent that you are a natural leader.

The height of fashion

The height of fashion

These improved social skills are apparent at home, too. We have real conversations about how our day went, what you like and want to do, and how things are made/work/fit together. You have a pretty extensive vocabulary, which gets put to great use between all the questions and conversations. Best of all, your sense of humor has gotten bigger as you have learned to pick up on some really important things, like sarcasm. Occasionally you decide to tell us a joke, but they usually don’t make a whole lot of sense.

Before the haircut

Before the haircut

 

After the haircut!

After the haircut!

So let’s see what things played a big role in your life this year:

Books – the Disney Princess Collections and your big book of fairy tales.

Flower child

Flower child

Food – Mac and cheese, jambalaya, pasta carbonara – you still aren’t picky about most foods, except that you just aren’t a fan of fruit. But you’ll eat almost any vegetable.

This is what happens when we let you pick your own outfit.

This is what happens when we let you pick your own outfit.

 Movies/TV – Frozen (We watched this so much that you actually managed to get tired of it for awhile. We don’t watch it so much anymore, but you still insist on being called Elsa much of the time), Tangled, and Cinderella. Not surprisingly, you really enjoy the show Sophia the First (about a princess), but also Daniel Tiger, Paw Patrol, and Wallykazam.

Fun at the beach!

Fun at the beach!

At the Monarch butterfly farm

At the Monarch butterfly farm

Toys – Douglas, of course, continues to claim the biggest part of your heart. But also dolls! You have all these Disney princess dolls that you adore and play with each and every quiet time. They’re always naked (what is it with little girls and taking off doll clothes?). Any puppy toy is immediately cherished, and lately Andre has become your snuggling companion during quiet time.

Activities – drawing and painting, playing with Play-doh, swimming, playing with the water table, any sort of pretend play. Recently we have started taking you on Daddy/Coco or Mama/Coco dates, to do things like see a movie or get some ice cream. We all really cherish these times together.

You still love painting

You still love painting

And you still love donuts.

And you still love donuts.

Having you around has made the last 4 years terrific, and we look forward to all the years we have ahead. You are a wonderful and special girl, and I love every little part of you!

Love always,

Mama

P.S. Please forgive how late this letter was. I actually wrote it right before your birthday, but the pictures were on your Daddy’s computer, and he really needed it to study for his board exams. I’m sure you’ll understand.

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Biscuit’s Blanket

14 Aug

IMG_0172

I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath to see how this turned out. Truth be told, I kind of was too! My goal was to have it finished by his second birthday, and I cut it pretty close to the wire. As in, I wove in the last ends and trimmed them off the night before his birthday. So now he has a sweet blanket that he can’t use for several more months because we live in the South and it’s summer and there is absolutely no need for wool in the summer.

IMG_0174

 

At the start I had planned on knitting a bunch of mitered squares and then sewing them together when I had enough. Fortunately, Katie convinced me to just pick up and knit each square, which probably saved me time and helped me meet my goal. Each square was a pretty quick knit, but man, it was a boring project.

When I finally finished, I did a little finagling to get the edges all lined up, then did 2 rows of single crochet around the edges to make it really finished. During the process I was afraid it would turn out a bit too purple, but the colors blended really nicely and I am pleased with the finished result.

IMG_0173

 

 

The important thing is that Biscuit likes it! I couldn’t work on it in front of him, or he would insist on having it draped on him or wrapped around him. I took it on our trip to the beach, and didn’t get to work on it the entire car ride, because it was tucked around his little legs while he swung them happily and patted his belly, smiling about “my own blanket.” Hopefully he gets lots of use out of it this winter, either keeping him warm in bed or wrapped around him in the car for the trip to school on cold days.

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Started: September 20, 2013

Finished: July 11, 2014 (Hey! Less than a year!)

Yarn: Knit Picks Worsted Chroma, colorway Rainbow; Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted, colorway Cloud

 

Pie #6 Peach Pie

11 Aug

Let me tell you, this is possibly the ugliest pie I have made in a long time. It’s so bad it reminded me of the schoolyard chant: U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly! Seriously. So, here are some tips to make your pie less ugly than mine turned out:

Tip 1. Try not to bake a pie while your two children are running around the house like crazed lunatics and attempting to hit each other. This will only lead to rushed baking, which, when attempting a lattice top, will result in spectacular failure.

Tip 2. Use enough water in your crust. Don’t make it dry like me, then give up because your children are screaming like banshees and your nerves are so frayed that your have reached the defense mechanism of completely ignoring the noise and hoping for the best.

Tip 3. Have patience, and work slowly when rolling out your dough for the lattice. Don’t be distracted by the hoard of goblins tearing through the house and calling for immediate attention and incessantly tormenting you and each other.

Tip 4. Don’t just give up, decide to patch it all together badly and, in an act of complete cessation of caring, CRIMP THE EDGES WITH A FORK. Every southern pie baker alive or dead fainted when I brought that fork out. I just know it. I’m almost ashamed to show you pictures.

But I will – and to make it even uglier, I’ll use bad pictures from my iPhone. I’m pretty sure they’re even fuzzy. That’s how much I gave up.

Uneven lattice, CRIMPED edges. It's a mess. But a tasty mess.

Uneven lattice, CRIMPED edges. It’s a mess. But a tasty mess.

Fortunately, Ugly here decided to redeem herself by tasting glorious! If I could justify eating pie for breakfast today, I would. Maybe I can justify pie for a snack.

Possibly it looked better like this.

Possibly it looked better like this.

Okay, now that you have some handy dandy tips on how to make your crust prettier than mine, here is how to make a tasty filling for you crust.

Peach Pie

3 cups sliced, peeled peaches (about 5 or 6 peaches)
1/2 Cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs grated ginger (optional, but it’s a worthy addition)
2 Tbs cornstarch

At least it set up nicely and didn't turn into a wet mess of goo.

At least it set up nicely and didn’t turn into a wet mess of goo.

Here’s an actual helpful tip for peeling the peaches – Boil them whole in a huge vat of water for about 2 minutes, then dump them straight into an ice bath until they have cooled. The skins will then just peel off like wet paper, no need for a knife. Easy peasy.

Mix all the ingredients up in a bowl, then pour it into the pie crust. Add your lattice, or crumble top, or a solid crust top, whatever makes your little heart tick. Sprinkle a little extra sugar on the crust top.

Bake at 350F for 30 – 45 min or until the filling is bubbly and the top is a nice golden brown color.

It was so ashamed of it's ugliness that it refused to sit still for a picture.

It was so ashamed of it’s ugliness that it refused to take a decent picture.

Eating it warm over vanilla ice cream is really the ideal way to enjoy peach pie, but it’s just as good at room temp or out of the fridge. And even if yours turns out as ugly as mine, it will still taste pretty dang good.

Dear Biscuit, on your second birthday

4 Aug

Dear Biscuit,

Somehow, another year has passed and you have moved from toddlerhood to little boyhood, and it is an exciting and occasionally alarming stage in our house. Although you are no longer a baby, you are still cuddly and loving; rarely do I get a chance to sit down without you (or your sister) climbing into my lap. I love it!

Never a dull moment!

This past year you have gone from walking to running and jumping, galloping, and attempting to do forward rolls. The last one still eludes you, but you have reached a high level of proficiency in the rest. In fact, the only times you are really still and quiet are when you are sleeping. Which, I might add, has improved leaps and bounds! At some point this year you finally started sleeping past 5 am! Now you reliably sleep to past 6, which is a miracle, and you wake up happy – no more standing in bed yelling for Mama to come get you immediately.

Yes, rocks need hugs too.

If you aren’t actively moving and running around the house, you are probably playing. Toys are still a big part of your life, but you also love playing with Coco and tend to chase her around the house. Whether this is something she enjoys or despises varies from day to day, but you always love to chase!

You like to “help” bake.

Not only are you active in body, but your little brain has been really developing this year. You can speak in full sentences (although it’s still a language that only we can understand), recite your ABCs (you tend to get hung up on K – H I J KKKKKKKKKK L M N….), identify a few colors, and count to 10 pretty reliably.

Playing in the leaves was a fall favorite.

 

Look at you go!

Pretend play and imagination is big right now, and you continually tell us that you are a superhero; your favorites are Superman, Captain America, and Mr. Incredible. Thanks to your daddy’s influence, you are also a budding fan of the Ninja Turtles, or the Ninna Tuddas, as you call them.

Deep in thought.

In January of this past year you started daycare a few days a week. I’m not sure who it was more rough on, me or you! After 18 months of hanging out with you everyday I was sad to not have you around! It took awhile, but we’ve both adjusted, and now you happily roll into class and are starting to make some friends at school. You are learning to share and not steal, and, although we are having a problem with pinching lately, you always tell us you are sorry when you do.

Snack time!

I don’t know who you get this from (yes I do, but it’s not nice to point fingers) but you are a flirt! You do this super adorable thing, mostly when around girls, where you cock your head to the side, smile a little closed-mouth smile, and batt your eyelashes. Once you’ve caught her attention, you either smile bigger and wave, saying “hewwo!” or you laugh and run away. You’ll be a heartbreaker, my boy.

See, more baking “help”

There are some definite favorite things in your life:
Books – The Three Little Pigs, Curious George – I am so tired of reading these books that I’m tempted to hide them

I have no idea what this was about.

Food – Pasta, mac and cheese, quesadillas, peanut butter sandwiches, chicken, pizza, and cheese. Lots of cheese. You aren’t picky in general, but veggies can be a challenge, and usually get left on the plate.

Somehow, you both still fit in there!

Movies – Frozen (your sister has a little influence in the movie choices, but you always, always, ask for Frozen first) and The Incredibles. You also enjoy some TV shows on occasion: Little Einsteins, Daniel Tiger, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

It’s a hard life for a little guy.

Toys – You never connected to a toy the way Coco has to Douglas, for which I am grateful. But you do love your Pirate Ship, Coco’s Anna doll (from Frozen), cars and trucks, and playing catch.

Recently you’ve gone through a shirt-hating phase.

Activities – Playing with the water table, swimming, blowing bubbles, drawing, and chasing everyone around the house, including the cat. You love to ask us to “be Marshmallow” (also from Frozen, do you see a theme?) and then we chase you around the house too. Basically, we do a lot of chasing.

Shoulders, Daddy, shoulders!

All in all, it has been a wonderful year, full of changes and fun. We all love you and adore you, and I hope that, as you grow, you never lose your sense of wonder or your love of cuddles.

Happy birthday, Little Man,

Love,

Mama

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