If you live anywhere in the between Washington D.C., and New York you are most likely well aware of the great heat wave that has been sweeping our neck of the woods for the better part of the week. The heat and worse yet the humidity helped simplify the list of activities we could partake in down to two: the pool or play indoors. Having tried the latter on Saturday, Evan and I piled the kids into our car and braved the 1.25 hour ride to my in-laws so that we could all jump into the pool and try to keep cool. The girls enjoyed their time at Grammie and Pop’s house and so did we. Sophia and Eliza played with toys that are new to them and Evan and I got to unwind in the country.
In other news, we’ve recently gotten into a few new (to us) books, crafts, and activities and thought we’d share our fun finds here.
Life is keeping us quite busy lately. We are packing, unpacking, organizing, re-organizing, and looking forward to being finished with this latest move. I am looking forward to spring, to the end of winter coats, layers, bundling, colds, and all this rain.
The girls have found a way to really play together and it is a joy to watch. Eliza is learning to share and Sophia is coming to terms with the fact that Eliza is still learning. I accomplish more around the house while they play together—because they play together.
On a balmy winter’s day, we reaped the rewards of getting rid of our storage unit and unpacked the tricycle. This one has been around for ages—it was originally my nephew’s, then it was Sophia’s, and now it is just right for Eliza. Here she is on our Tour de France Old City this past Sunday. The tour included a trip to La Colombe where we indulged in a cup of steamed milk and a bit of conversation. I don’t think it is ever too early to have little dates with your kids. Dates, coffee, tricycles… what’s next?
Who doesn’t love getting mail? Not email, but snail mail. Letters in envelops personally addressed in beautiful cursive script? I know I do, and in this case, Sophia is a girl after my own heart. Actually, Evan’s Bubbie keeps a beautiful card and letter-writing tradition alive. Sophia has been fortunate enough to enjoy cards on many occasions from Bubbie and she treasures each one just so. Kids learn by example and Evan and I weren’t surprised when Sophia asked us to help her write a letter to her cousin Alex. Alex had just celebrated a birthday and was having a low-key celebration with his friends this weekend.
This letter is more than just a letter (in Evan’s hand)—it is direct evidence of the close and loving bond that she and Alex share. He isn’t just a nominal part of her life, but an integral player in her everyday. She thinks about him when they’re not together and if this is how their relationship is now, I can only imagine what it will be like when they are both adults.
I am ready for the weekend and it is too bad that I have to wait five days. Time seems to fly by during the weekends and especially when we are having fun. The weekend sort of started earlier than Friday afternoon but went by at warp speed. Firstly, there was my birthday which fell on Tuesday this year. The day of, I took as, what my job refers to, a floating holiday which is also, what my friends affectionately call, National Sass Day ;-). Among other things, there was a visit to Milk Bar. It was, needless to say, a busy day capped off by some Indian fare together with those truly responsible for the day—my parents. All that activity and it was just Tuesday.
The weekend approached and after a thankfully uneventful Friday evening spent at home, Evan and I headed on a date. This would be our second or third date night since Sophia’s birth (3.5 years ago). Needless to say we were very excited to get to spend an evening together in such gorgeous weather. So excited that I may have put on mascara andeven accessorized. A brief stop at a speakeasy and dinner were just what we needed to remind ourselves that after nearly seven years of marriage, we have not run out of things to talk about and, more importantly, still make each other laugh like we did when we first started dating in … 2002. This, of course, would not have been possible had my in-laws & sister not come into town to babysit. Truly grateful.
Speaking of marriage and because the wedding season is fast approaching, on Sunday, I joined Evan’s family in showering a special bride with attention and gifts. I admit that I like weddings but am not always a fan of bridal showers. Mediocre food, terrible yet mandatory games and endless hours of present opening can make for quite a long afternoon. I have been to great showers as well as quite poor ones and this one was one of the best.
Held at the Philmont Country Club, the shower was styled beautifully. Each table was accented with a gorgeous arrangement that would befit a wedding table scape in lovely greens and lavenders. The food and company were outstanding and even though I was joining Evan’s family for the event, I felt quite at home and part of the family. That got me thinking about families and marriage. I believe that you don’t just marry a person but that you also marry their family. In the case of Evan’s cousin who is marrying a beautiful girl (who also happens to be Russian), I can, with absolute certainty, say that she is marrying into a wonderful family.
Capping the weekend off was a beautiful Boston Cream Pie, Candy Land and various shenanigans from the tiniest of mischiefs that will melt your heart.
A dear friend of mine from graduate school recently welcomed a beautiful baby boy. She and her husband live far away in sunny California and even though we would love to have frequent play dates, we make do with emails, texts and the occasion calls. She recently asked for advice on toys to keep her little guy (a few days shy of 6 months) occupied and I was only glad to share what worked for our girls. I put together a small list of toys that have been the best bang for our buck and are most effective at keeping kids occupied and grow with your child.
The list tries to balance what I would call old-school toys such as blocks and books with new-fangled, battery operated ones. We prefer toys that evolve their functionality as the child grows. For example, the stackable (item 5) blocks can first aid a child in learning how to pull nested blocks out which practices fine motor skills, then children can practice cause and effect by crashing built-up towers, moving to learning words and objects, and finally learning how to stack the blocks themselves. Have other suggestions? Add them in your comments.
Mother nature continues to humble us with its might. The weather has been so, so very cold. The girls haven’t seen the outdoors in forever a week and the rest of us have resigned to a super brisk walk from the car to work and from work back to the car. We’re blessed with underground parking, you see. My sister went to university in Perm near the Ural Mountains. She tells me that the current weather would be considered a warm winter’s day. Perspective.
Housebound and running out of crafting materials, we have resigned to dancing and signing and cooking and searching for treasures around the house. Eliza has decided that sitting is for boring infants and walking with an adult’s help is much more her style. Once more, you will find Evan and me doubled over and escorting her as she takes her tiny little footsteps.
Delirious from some serious sleep deprivation we decided to capture the children as they are today.
More pictures of Eliza at 8 months, Sophia at 3 years and 4 months are here and here. Getting Sophia to agree to have her picture taken and even sit down for one has become more and more challenging. We’re not below bribery and offered her chocolate for her cooperation. Bittersweet or bitter is the only kind you’ll find at our house and as a result, Sophia has grown to love it.
Our support of local and sustainably produced applies to chocolate and we’ve been exploring what this region’s producers have to offer. Last year, we tried Mast Brothers Chocolate and this year, coincidentally also for Valentine’s day, Evan picked up a bar of this one and this one. I have to say that I preferred Tradestone’s Venezuela bar due to its rich flavor and a well-balanced acidity. Sophia is an equal opportunity chocolate enthusiast for now.