Spending almost all of yesterday out of the house. Most of the time we don't mind being home but after being shut in by extreme heat (I didn't want to be going in and out of severe heat then severe air conditioning too much, as it's so hard on little ones) we were more than ready to be anywhere else. OMSI for playtime the whole afternoon, and then IKEA for dinner and wandering and a few things for Birdie's newly painted room and, of course, ice cream cones. Cause they're $1.
Neighbors out watering and weeding gardens again, after almost a week of hiding indoors and far away to stay cool. The tut-tut-teeeee of sprinklers, the sound of birds happy to find water, the broken water-over-pebble sounds of happy, neighborly conversation rising up through the window screens...
Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, and Gillian Welch, the background and underneath sounds of today. The sort of happiness that has tears leaking underneath. I know this. I like this.
Pea sleeping late two mornings in a row. It's mostly because she has a raging summer cold not helped AT ALL by the high pollen counts and smog of this ridiculous heat wave (see Twitter for my constant complaing about) but she is trying really hard, all on her own, to be cheerful and it's sort of heartbreaking and sweet.
Not feeling guilty about not working out for almost a week. It's been too bloody hot. I'm starting to feel a bit chubby again, but that's probably all the ice cream I've eaten in this heat. It was a matter of survival, you know.
Monday morning Penelope and I went berry picking. The morning the sickening heat rolled in. We managed to fill 1 bucket each with beautiful blueberries and marionberries and bought a flat of the most fragrantly sweet raspberries that had been picked that morning before the sunshine actually became oppressive and Pea demanded water and more permanent shade.
Actually, she was standing at the end of one of the rows of blueberry bushes, trying to flag down the farmer's son and his antique tractor with the beautiful wagon, begging in her best Oliver Twist voice for a ride and that she was done, DONE.
So it wasn't the ideal, completely happy experience I'd envisioned, but once we were home she pronounced it a good time and in the end that's really all that matters.
The peach trees looked positively loaded and between them and the heavy blueberry bushes I really want to go back soon.
Next year there will be jam and preserving and freezing. This year we finished off $38 of berries in a week. But it was so abnormally hot (108! In the Pacific NW!) that all we felt like eating this week was cold food. So they were consumed plain, on yogurt, on salads, blended into smoothies with juicy nectarines, frozen into homemade popsicles (with bananas, nectarines, and pitted fresh cherries), and the mushiest, juiciest ones were poured over frosty vanilla ice-cream.
Posted by Annagrace at 11:41 AM
Birdie's birthday party was beautiful. And the best part was almost everyone stayed late.
Another amazing cake from Auntie Tiffany. This one to match almost exactly the invitation. And Birdie is very different from Pea at age one year, in that she LOVES cake, loves, loves, loves it. She can spot baked goods from across a store or coffee shop and immediately starts smacking her lips and reaching her dimply little fingers out. On Pea's first birthday we finally got her to touch her cute Curious George cake from Auntie and a big, full-body shiver went through her. And she gagged.
A party full of people we love. People who love little Adeleine. People (mostly) who have been a significant part of her life. Realizing, for real, that my girls have so many beautiful and outspoken Aunties and several handsome and safe uncles. How lucky we are, they are...
The end of a difficult year. Who knows what this next span of August to July holds, but it will be different. And that sounds really, really good. Yes, I no longer have a tiny baby... But this baby was not easy. And though Jeffrey and I are almost daily in a better, more connected, safer place, the path here is one I never wish to repeat. Do I keep talking about this? Perhaps. But it's so much of my reality at present...
A beautiful, perfect summer evening right before the oppressive heat set in. How lucky to be born in summer, I think--to always connect the day you were born to sunshine, blue skies, barbecues, ice-cream cones, vacation.
And Penelope (below on the left, playing in the trees with her sweet friend): I know I've talked recently about how hard it's been. But let me tell you about the other parts--about her suddenly having these long, long, brown arms and legs, long dark-blond hair, lean muscle everywhere. She's like a beautiful, wild filly. And I know that sounds almost too cheesy to put down for posterity, but I am completely serious. She's so thoughtful and precise and strong and fast and dances or runs everywhere. She is 100 emotions a day and so sure of herself, so anxious to fight any boundary put in her path and yet, after the anger and tears, quick to reach out emotionally and find a way back to safety. She's so connected to her thoughts and dreams... I can't believe I birthed someone so completely, so fearlessly female.
Actually, I birthed two of them. And in the process of their being and growing I am learning to own my own fearlessness, to hunger for wisdom and beauty together. In some ways motherhood has shocked me to life. What a beautiful, terrifying, astonishing life...
Posted by Annagrace at 10:28 AM
She is lovely and it's been a tough year. She is strong and I have faced my own weakness over and over. She is sensitive and loud and vocal and affectionate. She is clear-eyed and snuggly, tender-hearted and tough as nails.
She's my girl.
My Baby Birdie, my Adeleine. Flesh of my flesh and completely her own. I love her exactly the same as Pea and completely, utterly different.
I can't imagine life without her.
Posted by Annagrace at 12:06 AM
Today it's more like Grace Through Gritted Teeth.
I've spent most of today taking Pea by the hand and over to Naughty Chair. Again, and again, again, world without end, forever and ever and ever amen. And nothing calms the constant flood of tears, none of the good and fun things that have happened today (friends here, craft time, muffins, stories...) have kept at bay her new voice for me, petulant and angry. "MA-MAA!" She's taken toy after toy from her sister and friend, yelled at me for not giving her what she wants exactly the way she wants it, and thrown her whole body onto the floor in perfect imitation of her baby sister's tantrums. She has begged for more TV (she only watches a bit in the mornings while I shower), refused to eat at mealtime, cried from hunger at bedtime and then moped around all day because she didn't sleep and she's exhausted. And nothing in our world has changed.
I have been hard-pressed to see any of the sensitive, compassionate, funny, companionable person I know her to truly be. I have struggled almost every minute of today to believe, still, that goodness and grace is lodged deep in her heart, and mostly I have struggled to remember that, like all phases, this particularly heinous one will soon be over. Will it? Will it be over before I over-react demand to be in control? Will it be over before I learn the lesson in this, so I can take another stab at learning it when she's 13 and knows in every inch of her bones my failures as her mother?
Today I don't even want a do-over. I just want it to be tomorrow so it's no longer today.
So today I make this list to try and find a way out.
Rainier cherries from the farmer's market. Each a different combination of red, blush-pink, coral, and butter yellow.
Girls' Night tonight, with friends I haven't seen in ages. Not having to do a blessed thing but show up.
Good friends moving into our neighborhood. SO close, in fact, that our kids will be able to soon bicycle back and forth, but enough blocks between us that we should still (hopefully) enjoy every minute shared. I love these boys dearly and I am thrilled to think that Pea and Birdie will have such good friends so close as they grow...
Ceiling fans. Air moving quietly through the house.
Ian and Penelope pouring their bubble bottles out onto the deck and then sliding, shirtless, around and around in the slick soap and falling all over while laughing hysterically. This is why fancy toys are pointless.
Posted by Annagrace at 1:53 PM
Auntie Sharon's visit. The girls fell in love all over again and they are so very lucky to have someone like her in their lives: feisty and strong, wise and kind.
Laundry caught up at the beginning of the week.
Two silly, laughing, monkey-girls fresh from the bath and tucked into clean sheets and jammies.
My many emotions of today over a situation that cannot be easily righted involving people who don't exactly have a good history with truth-telling, being heard and understood. What a relief that always is.
Knowing that the only thing standing between me and a good night's sleep is a certain 3 year old. Knowing it's not her fault, really, she wants to sleep well too.
Posted by Annagrace at 3:18 PM
Cake. Banana cake filled with more bananas and cream. And yellow cake cupcakes with lemon cream-cheese frosting.
Water fountains and wee babes in bright swimsuits and streaky sunscreen.
The girls riding in the Radio Flyer, eating fresh blueberries out of a Ziploc bag and sleepy from sun and water.
Managing to work out 3 days in a row.
How peaceful our home feels at the end of a day... Babies in bed, lights low, quiet streets outside, talking and working deep into the night with J. I'm glad I chose him, all those years ago. I'm glad we keep choosing each other.
Posted by Annagrace at 4:29 PM
Sunday alone time. Sitting in the far corner with writing things and discreetly staring at the people lining up with sleepy eyes and hair at the counter.
Neko Case on the coffee shop radio. Damp, humid air lightening out between the clammy branches of nearby trees. Coffee that tastes like caramel and tobacco.
Penelope counting to 30. Like this:"...twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-thirty."
The way Birdie runs. Have I mentioned it before? Well, it deserves another mention: chest out, arms up (or better yet, loaded with stolen shoes and someone's purse), eyes fixed upon the goal. As Jordan said, her body gets there before her feet do. It's hilarious and wonderful.
Strange, mid-summer rain that feels like...fall. The barbecue tonight made the whole empty, glistening street smell like bonfires at the beach...marshmallows and foil. Sand in my hair.
Posted by Annagrace at 10:17 PM
Blueberries, juicy and sweet and icy cold from the fridge.
Celebrating the birthday of someone kind and very much loved. Someone who makes us family.
Perfecting the family enchilada recipe. For once I did not photograph the food.
Going out for gelato with the girls to celebrate. Pistachio, strawberry, tiramisu, and kiwi sorbetto were the flavors of the evening. As you can see from the pictures, they didn't enjoy it at all.
Reading British murder mysteries in the quiet, and strangely cool summer nights. The only thing the peaceful darkening air is missing is fireflies.
Posted by Annagrace at 4:41 PM
I really need to do this today. Because the dark cloud found me again this afternoon and for a minute there I thought I was going to dismantle something small. Like an exterior wall.
Somehow managing to completely blow out of the water my new goals for both book reading and blogging. Goal A is Finish a Book a Month for the Rest of My Life. Since making that goal in May I've read 7. Goal B is Blog Weekly for a Year. I'm on it.
Eating Birdie's leftover noodles. In a robin's egg blue bowl. With wine.
Managing to stay at this first weight goal for longer than a minute. Even though the past few weeks everything continues to conspire against my being able to exercise more than 3 days a week. I'm so close to seeing a huge breakthrough that this is endless FRUSTRATING. I wanted to be down another size by the middle of summer and into another set of my old clothes, winking at me daily from the closet. But the children care nothing for my goals. Also, nothing for my sanity.
(This is taking a turn from the gracious... Let's see if I can get back on track...)
Time with friends today. At their house, so I didn't even have to mop! Coffee, snacks, lunch, a craft for the older three, lots of heart-talk. (Such a good morning that I just don't know where the sadness came from this time...)
Plans beginning to sprout in my head for Pea's schooling. We're still a year or so off from really needing to do anything, but I'm convinced of the importance of honoring a child's natural hunger to know. And she is chock-full of questions all of a sudden.
Posted by Annagrace at 6:24 PM
Pea still calling them "handburgers". Birdie saying shoes (shhhh)and ball (bah) and being obsessed with both.
Tall, clinkety glasses of iced tea, with lemon balm from the garden.
Playtime with friends today--sack lunch packed early this morning and lots of time to talk around the four kids playing.
Leftover muffins from last night. They SHOULD be good, with that much butter, and so so easy that I've filed the recipe away to make again and again. I might be starting to like this baking thing after all.
The sound of chickens from up the hill behind us, the sound of sprinklers from across the street, the calling of birds from every tree on every side. Breeze through the wide-flung windows. Leaf patterns on the shady street.
Posted by Annagrace at 11:04 PM
3 days at the beach.
Escaping the heat of the city for two nights of cool, salt-rimy air and enormous stretchings of sky.
Ice cream cones with the girls. Pea asking for "chehwy ice kweem in a cone!" and then dancing along the sidewalk, cone in hand, from sheer July holiday happiness. Birdie sank her teeth deep into my waffle cone again and again, sucking out huge mouthfuls of peaches and cream. (At least one of the girls missed the cold-sensitive genes.)
Small town parade. Antique fire trucks, antique cars, candy, flags, a terrifying Jonah and the Whale float spouting water and covered in commands to repent (yikes), grown men in coconut bikini tops, Cub Scouts, children dressed as the town's first schoolchildren, the mayor, the works. The town we go to is 100 years old this year.
Pea's face when she came back from seeing the over-the-water fireworks display with Jeffrey. Shining--absolutely shining out from her stripy fleece hat. She told me she'd seen purple shooting stars and that "now that I'm threeeee, I'm not afwaid of firewooks anyMORE!"
Posted by Annagrace at 9:53 PM
What to eat when it's hot? Something icy cold or something that can survive at room temperature for a bit, something requiring little effort or sweat. Even better if it also has some protein in it, making the preparation of anything else unnecessary. EVEN better if the leftovers taste especially good the next afternoon, eaten with a tall, frosty glass of minty-lemonade.
First off, my variation of a friend's recipe. I CANNOT leave things alone, which is why I shouldn't/don't bake much. But I fiddled with this 3 or 4 times and here's the final version.
Cook 1/2 lb. soba or spaghetti noodles to al dente, then drain. Be sure to err on the al dente side--a bit firm is better than mush!
1/3 c. toasted sesame oil
1 heaping tsp. crushed or minced garlic
juice of 1 fresh lime (get every last bit)
1/2 c. seasoned rice wine vinegar (be sure it's made with sugar, not corn syrup)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more, for more of a kick)
1/2 TBSP grated fresh ginger (or more, if you like)
1 heaping tsp. sugar
sea salt, to taste
Whisk this around a large mixing bowl until sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust flavor to your preferences. Then grate directly into the bowl:
2 carrots, peeled and ends removed
Whisk to incorporate, then add:
1 orange, yellow, or red bell pepper, seeded, cored, and chopped into half-matchsticks
1 big palm-full, ready-to-eat edamame (Trader Joe's, salad section)
Stir well, then add drained and cooled pasta. Top with cilantro or fresh mint, whichever you prefer.
This goes really well with firm tofu that's been pressed for a few hours (to lessen moisture content), sliced up and marinated in Soy Vay of some kind for another few hours and then seared in a lightly oiled pan. (Or wok. I do not know how to use a wok, but one day Jeffrey is going to show me.)
Greek Tortellini Salad
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add:
1 16 oz. pkg Trader Joe's (or other) dried tortellini pasta with pesto or mushroom filling.
Ignore their cooking directions!!! It will be al dente closer to the 9 minute mark--NOT 16 or 18 or whatever they're still printing on the back of the wrap.
Drain pasta and cool.
In big serving bowl, mix together the following:
1-2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
2-3 cups chopped and seeded tomatoes (seeding will keep the salad from getting soggy)
1 can black olives, halved OR 1 c. chopped and pitted Kalamata olives
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
If you don't like olives, throw in a jar of (drained) garlicky marinated mushrooms, marinated artichokes, or something else pickled or salty, as the olives are pretty much just adding salt and color.
Shake some good, flavorful balsamic or red-wine vinegar over veggies and cheese, crack some black pepper over it, and add the drained, cooled pasta.
That's it. You're done.
I guess you could add some fresh basil. Or some jarred roasted red peppers. But that's pretty much it. The salt from the olives and cheese and creaminess of the cheese and pasta mean that vinegar and pepper is really all it needs. And good luck trying to save it for later.
My other current favorite salad is from the amazing Smitten Kitchen: Pesto Potato Salad Need I say more? Well, here's a picture.
You know you want some--go get the recipe! Next week I'm going to try the red potato, pea, and mint salad a friend just made. YUM. Will post the results.