Weekending: Family

I looked around the apartment yesterday confirming that we are still living with unpacked boxes (more than three months after moving into our current place). Our New Year’s tree is also still up. We are obviously procrastinating and for good reason—we are spending time with family.

SophiaAndGrammiePlaying

ElizaAndDeda2The last four years have been a hibernation of sorts and we are finally thawing out and enjoying what we value most. Our house has become a bit of a revolving door and we couldn’t be happier. Sophia routinely asks “who is coming over today?”.

As expected, family gatherings always involve good food and even the grey of winter cannot put a damper on bringing big, bold flavors into our home.

CarrotSoup1

That’s home-made carrot soup perfumed with ginger and garnished with cilantro, lime and almond gremolata (a radical twist on the traditional) with grilled cheese. Recipe here.

Good food, you see, demands good company. There is an old Russian saying that translates to your food is only as good as those for whom you make it. The soup was delicious and helped spread a gingery warmth throughout the entire house. It was enjoyed by everyone including little Eliza who we are trying to get accustomed to a little bit of spice even at her ripe age of 7 months.

 

 

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Books We Love

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. –Marcel Proust

Books, books. Our shelves are heavy with books and we don’t mind it one bit. I am not even talking about Evan’s and my books, which are in storage, but the kids’ books. Shelves upon shelves full of books ranging from the classics like Goodnight Moon to more rare books like Pancakes with Findus. I love most children’s books but there are some that stand out. Rosie Revere, Engineer, a gift from good friends of ours, is a recent addition has become a favorite at home. It is beautifully illustrated and tells a wonderful story about a girl who embraces her love of engineering. Besides teaching all children that trial and error are a necessity for big successes, that innovation is a natural byproduct of failure, it shows girls that engineering is a field they can participate in. That message in itself is important enough.

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Weekending: Reminiscing

My friend Amanda and I met in grade school and we became fast friends keeping in touch all through the years. We’ve stood by one another when we needed someone most and I know that I can be myself with her. What’s more is that she will always be honest with me even if what she has to say is not what I want to hear. Having moved to Maryland and having had kids had made getting together very difficult. But now that we’re back in Philadelphia, meeting up for a little girls’ get-together was much easier. And so on a very rainy and icy Sunday afternoon, two women popped into a neighborhood pub for a drink, some snacks and wonderful conversation. The magic that is long-lasting and meaningful friendship is that we picked up right where we left off the last time we saw each other just the two of us. And after catching up for a while and giggling like school girls, we were joined by Evan for a few minutes, too. It was just like the old times, it was wonderful.

In addition to spending time with a good friend, Evan and I also managed to capture some pictures of the girls to mark Eliza’s 7th month birthday.

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Sophia is 39 months going on thirteen now-a-days. She’s quite the sassy lady, too.

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Getting the two of them organized and taking these pictures is not an easy task, but it sure is enjoyable.

Topping off my weekend was a bit of time with one of my favorite pastimes—knitting.

KnittingI was young when my mom taught how to knit. She’s a master knitter, you know. I wasn’t particularly good at it then because it required patience and I was and still am, very impatient. I am getting better at knitting because I also work on my patience. Besides, the craft is incredibly relaxing and I love to see my work take shape.

Sunday night came too fast and I suppose it’s true that time flies when you’re having fun. As such, I don’t mind Monday because the weekend was so satisfying.

 

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Tiny Esoteric Tastes

I was browsing Netflix the other day to replenish some children’s offerings. I added “The Croods” to our queue for Sophia to see. Always striving to be helpful, Netflix started to suggest other cartoons including Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues. I recall seeing snippets of these and others while flipping through channels years ago but have not had to sit through any of them as a parent. We are not keen on sitting our kids in front of the TV though Sophia watches a bit while eating and we sometimes do a movie night with homemade popcorn. The making of popcorn is just an enjoyed as the product itself and is a science lesson in its own right.

But I digress… I have noticed that Sophia’s tastes in movies/shows/cartoons are esoteric ranging from the very typical Curious George to Nu Pogodi, to Misha Masha, Cheburashka, Snoopy, MotorWeek Trends, and even a YouTube channel of a hairdressing archeologist. Sophia has watched many Disney fairy tales and is, like every other little girl and some big kids too, in love with Frozen. She also loves Winnie the Pooh. And while fairy tales are essential to a childhood, I believe it is this very emergence of esoteric tastes that will undergird the development of her unique persona. I believe she will grow up to be someone who is fascinating. Meanwhile and because today is #TBT, here’s a photo of a 9 month old Sophia at our old pool club.

TBT

Just A Little Longer

Every parent dreams of the moment the kids are asleep when you can just kick back and take a moment for yourself. I caught myself wishing a tired and grumpy Eliza would just go to bed and let me have a few precious moments all to myself before my own bedtime. And then, as I cradled her softly humming a melody she enjoys, I started regretting my very own wish.

Her head resting on my shoulder, she drifted between sleep and wakefulness. Her little arms haphazardly piled atop my shoulders she felt and smelled divine. That young baby smell that seems to fade more with every month, with every new milestone. Her soft hair tickling my neck, I suddenly and finally relished it—her babyhood. Now that it is slipping away so quickly and knowing that it is my last chance to relish it—since our family is complete—I suddenly cannot get enough of it. Ironic, no?

The last six months flew by, each month faster than the last. It must have been like this with Sophia, but I don’t remember. Back then, I wanted to rush through her milestones because … because I was a different mother and in a different place. Because I knew then that I would have another chance. And while I can’t get enough of Eliza and her babyhood, I catch myself madly and utterly besotted with Sophia. True, no longer a baby, she is magical.

snoopyAnd then, there are moments like this one. She’s napping on her snoopy pillow, cradling her new snoopy stuffy no doubt dreaming of Charlie Brown which happens to be her very new favorite cartoon.

 

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Mommy’s Science Bootcamp: Applied Chemistry

Due to extremely unfortunate circumstances, our nanny was not able to take care of the girls the past three days. Since we’re an egalitarian household and both work full-time, we split the childcare responsibilities. I took Monday and admit that I was nervous about what I was going to do with Sophia and Eliza for a whole day. That’s eleven hours for those of you who are counting. Eleven.

Alas, I rose to the challenge, perspired and persevered ;-). There were the usual shenanigans including crafts, music and dancing for Sophia and then there was time in the bouncy chair and the interactive walker for Eliza and then there was a nap which was their nap but entirely for me. A standout activity of which I am proud was an applied chemistry lesson. I have previously blogged about our philosophy on involving Sophia in cooking and that has now translated itself to applied sciences. Sophia loves to play with pasta in the kitchen, so going with the kitchen activity theme, I suggested that we see what things in the kitchen can melt. We talked about candles and ice cream and then I asked her if salt would melt or dissolve in water. She didn’t know, so I set up a little station for her with kosher salt, water and a few containers and let her explore. It was the best idea to occupy her for 30 minutes and in the end, she learned a great deal, too. Considering Sophia is just three, I’d say that this Mommy’s science bootcamp was a success.

A Splendid Afternoon

Despite our most sincere efforts, it has unfortunately been well over a year since my sister and I have enjoyed an outing on our own. Actually, before last time which was to celebrate her milestone birthday, we hadn’t gone out since before I got married—six years ago! Like most people, I make new year’s resolutions and I promptly got to work on my most important one—to spend more time with my sister.

We both enjoy Downton Abbey and the Winterthur Museum was having a Downton Abbey costumes exhibit. I had also never been to Winterthur before despite spending my teenage years a mere 15 minutes away. Attending a fashion exhibit at a new (to me) mansion with my sister seemed like the perfect way to kick off the new year. Before we saw the costumes the actors wear during filming of the series, we toured the house made famous by its builders and occupants, the DuPont family. The house is beautiful and I was amazed how well the last owner of the house decorated and remodeled the house with antiques and previously used materials while still staying true to the style and aesthetic of the residence.

The house was decorated for Yuletide and the trees showcased in the many rooms were magnificent. One tree stood out in particular called the Dried Flower Tree which is a Christmas tree decorated entirely with dried flowers. A video (from a few years ago) of the process of decorating this tree is available here.

TreeWalking these magnificent rooms during this magical season made let me envision the life at this beautiful home as it was nearly a century ago. It was a splendid afternoon made truly amazing by my company.