I’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show. As a result, I’ve been in a bit of a baking craze and made these cinnamon buns and now the carrot cupcakes with maple cream cheese buttercream. I had great helpers.
Both Eliza and Sophia were great pipers much to my surprise. I like baking with the girls as it provides a welcome reprieve from their typical play. They get to be creative and we learn about science (e.g., what does baking soda do in a batter and what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder). Besides that, we visited Bartram’s Garden which was just lovely. The weather was beautiful and the girls enjoyed exploring. It is difficult to believe that such peace and solitude can be found in the city.
There is an article in the newspaper discussing why America’s parents are among the least happiest in the world (at least among the first world countries) and that the issue is of most import to everyone, not just fellow parents. Moreover, the best help is always support that combats stressors (childcare, household chores). Our own household has been rocked recently due to the sudden and drastic unavailability of childcare due to a family emergency. Thankfully, my mom was able to step in and play Baba The Great Caregiver for a week. Her helping hands were entirely welcome and so, so appreciated. She topped off her week with us in the most lovely of ways — with a trip the Please Touch Museum on a torrentially rainy Friday. The girls, of course, loved their time and more surprisingly, to me, so did Baba. Experiences just like this one highlight that, deep inside, we’re all kids.
The weekend couldn’t come fast enough and, with it, it brought a slew of spring cleaning and household organization activities. We finally started to organizes our little patios and make them spaces where we could spend time in the glorious spring weather. I am pleased with the progress and excited albeit nervous about getting some greenery and planters to further spruce up the space. For anyone who knows me, I am the antithesis of a gardner having successfully failed at keeping plants alive for well over a decade. Alas, for the good of the patios and aesthetically pleasing spaces, I am diving in once more into gardening or patio gardening. And this one picture? Just a papa decorating bracelets with some stick-on jewels. Spark-tacular.
This past Saturday Sophia “dressed“ in her work clothes, put her car keys into her purse, and packed her lunch bag. She declared that she’s getting her cardigan and going to work. I noted that Sophia accessorized for the occasion with her purple Cinderella necklace. It was very sweet and I was surprised to see how much detail she had committed about our weekday life.
Evan and I took her out to dinner on Friday in South Philly to a place of her choosing. It was a real treat for her and us alike. For us, it is the beginning of the phase where dinner out does not include toys, figures, dolls, or crayons. For her, dinner out means an opportunity to dress up a little bit, choose her own meal, partake in conversation, and participate in all the other rituals of dining out.
Individual attention, I feel, is crucial. It is often difficult to devote time and listening ears to everyone especially if they’re trying to talk at the same time. Whether it is with Eliza or Sophia, those rare occasions when my attention to them is undivided, are the absolute best and lead to happier, more emotionally-sated children. Friday evening, after dinner, as she was getting ready for bed, Sophia says “Mama, do you think that the sky is a big blue puzzle and that the night comes after all the puzzle pieces fall down?” Moments like this remind me that their innocence and openness to all possibilities is electrifying.
Mere minutes until bath and bed time and these two are hard at work on a new coloring book. They had both decided that the fish on the left is Dory and insisted on looking up the picture of the promo poster so that they could color it just so. That was Saturday and followed a busy morning where we made dough for Punitions and attended The Little Red Riding hood.
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Baba and Dedushka invited the girls over on Sunday as they do most every weekend and who, pray tell, would turn down an invitation from the grandparents for a day of fun? Both Eliza and Sophia told me they didn’t want to leave and this is all good news come summer and a temporary relief from school before the start of camp season. I would say the last weekend of Winter 2017 was well-spent.
An ice cream sundae isn’t particularly difficult to pull off if you’re not churning your own. We start churning our own once strawberries hit the farmer’s market. As such, this is store bought vanilla and chocolate with homemade hot fudge and whip cream, and a cherry on top. iSi canisters are the bomb! The kids (big and small) loved decorating their bowl with what seemed like endless whipped cream.
Sunday suppers with friends and family is something we feel we finally accomplish more or less gracefully. We hosted our very first one this Sunday and everyone helped; Sophia and Eliza assisted in capturing the menu on brown paper really enjoying drawing the pictures for every dish. I cooked the main, and Evan cooked the sides. The dinner menu was Mexican-themed complete with a tangy salad, guacamole, enchiladas verdes and, of course, arroz con pollo. I tend to gravitate toward dishes that have a lot of vegetables and color. They always look so appetizing esp. when presented on white serving ware.
My sister and I are, despite having a near 10 year age difference, dessert twins. She didn’t skip a beat and read the menu from the bottom up wanting to know exactly how we plan to finish the meal. I asked everyone to hold culinary and hostess gifts since we prefer to keep things casual so the girls were showered with goodies instead. Aunt Anna is single-handedly ensuring that Eliza and Sophia’s library of books rivals this one. I haven’t met a book Anna bought for my girls that they didn’t like including this, this, and many, many others.
And after dinner, most kids (some bigger and older than others, ehem) retired to the living area for a few rounds of party games. Sunday supper was just perfect. We’ll be keeping this tradition.
I remember a long time ago when I was a first time nursing mom of a six month old someone told me they don’t understand how I can’t make time to hit the gym. Not only did I not have time to hit the gym, I also had no time to shop for necessities, cook dinner, or do much other than launder countless onesies and sustain a highly dependent six month old. Fast forward F-I-V-E years and I finally have time to hit the gym, shop, clean, cook, and most importantly spend leisure time with my girls.
That first year of parenthood was a huge shock and, at the time, I felt like it was the most difficult thing. Little did I know even bigger challenges would come our way but they too can be managed if not overcome. Evan and I had a lot of support from our families’. At first our families presence was a necessity helping with the everyday life and then, overtime, their presence has become a nice to have.
And so it is just lovely to visit with Baba and Deda complete with a walk to the park just because.
A long holiday weekend started with a major, MAJOR, M-A-J-O-R spring clean. By the early afternoon, the house sparkled and smelled of fresh lemon and pine. There must be something terribly wrong with me because I love to clean, do dishes, and fold laundry, too. I love a clean house even more. Showered and dolled up by 4 PM on Friday, I was ready and excited to meet up with friends. We visited the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for their open house where a friend of ours is a resident artist. We also saw a copper pour which was spectacular and reminded me that art can be physically demanding in addition to requiring incredible creativity.
The girls were back on Saturday and we resumed our family-oriented weekend visiting Smith Memorial Playground on a beautiful warm winter’s day. It is nice to see that Eliza is finally catching up to Sophia in her playground skills and our role as parents is less and less physically involved. The girls initially wanted to go to the zoo but our family was not the only with such aspirations and traffic was awful getting there which meant that the zoo grounds would be crowded. Everyone was very happy with the playground and a whole lot of fresh air.
Eliza and Sophia visited Baba and Deda where Sophia learned how to make varenyky (pierogies) and they both caught up with their cousin. This picture above is timeless and transcends many generations in my family; I have memories of the very same braids, wearing an apron with a little rolling pin in hand, ready to make something in the kitchen. And before me, my sister, and before her, my mom, and her mom before that. These three — there are no words only knowledge that this bond is solid and made for life.
Valentine’s Day is just about the only highlight of February and a subpar one at that. You won’t now be surprised to hear that Evan and I don’t celebrate the holiday. Don’t get me wrong — we used to but ceased probably the year after Evan made me a scrumptious late evening meal of bone marrow with parsley salad. Nothing screams poetic love like a giant beef bone charred to perfection and split half way to expose marrow.
Cheesy as it may be, Valentine’s Day is just the opportunity to break up the monotony of cold winter days. The Fleisher Art Memorial‘s Print Love-In provided just the respite from a weekend of Legos, arts and crafts, and more of the same old.
The girls, Evan, and I spent the most glorious 1.5 hours we had in quite some time learning and making. Screen printing, lithography, and many other printmaking methods made available for practice by novices young and old. Not only were the premises impressive but also the artists who served as most patient and willing teachers.
Watchin so many little hands reaching across the print screens excited to see how the picture turns out may have shaken the Valentine’s cynic out of me. And, Evan and I were pleased to observe Eliza and Sophia as most enthusiastic budding artists.
I once told Sophia that I would take her to Italy if she learns to eat pasta with all sorts of different sauces. Italy, after all, is one of the few places in the world where you could eat pasta at both lunch and dinner and chase your meal with gelato without too much guilt. Traveling isn’t just about eating though and museums provide a welcome respite from the heat, crowds, and the occasional gluttony. Visiting museums especially ones with the opposite mission from the Please Touch Museum (which believes immersion through interaction is important) is an acquired skill for children. Evan and I are keen on ensuring that Eliza and Sophia acquire said skill here in Philadelphia and at an early age, too.
For those not in the know, the first Sunday of every month is a “Pay What You Wish” at The Philadelphia Museum of Art. We took the girls just as it opened to visit the beautiful collections of which the Japanese Tea House and the transported Abbey proved among their favorites. Sophia’s absolute favorite work was Degas’ “The Little Dancer…” sculpture which she spent quite a bit of time taking in.
The beautiful day at the art museum capped off a fun-filled weekend which started with amazing fun with Grammie and Pop and all-the-awesome-and-new-to-them-toys-Grammie-always-has.