Friday, July 31, 2009

Dance Moves

Liam loves to dance. This is apparently fairly typical in toddlers; as a group of humans, they mostly love to move. Some of his best latest dance moves are: shake your leg like a kicking mule, put your head on the floor next to your feet like you're going to do a somersault but don't roll over, and spin, spin, spin.

He likes it especially if you dance with him. We're holding steady at non-100 degree temperatures around here and it is so nice and pleasant it's almost too good to say.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Relief in sight

Today at 6:58 the outside temperature fell to almost a degree below the inside temperature (85 degrees) and that was my signal to run around and open all the windows and put the screens in and move the fans. We've been having quite the heat wave out here in the Pacific NW and, well, for the most part no one I know likes it. I sure don't. It was 104 degrees or more in our town for 3 days running, I heard it was 111 south of here, and over 100 in Seattle too. Like pretty much everyone else we don't have air conditioning, so we just had to make it through as best we could. You know, close up the house tight around 8 AM. Shades drawn all day. White towels and blankets hung in all the south and west facing windows. You get the picture. . .and it's not pretty. It was hardest on Will, for sure, first because of his lungs and his overall fragile health and second because I had to travel for work (Hotel! With air conditioning!) so I was gone and Liam was at my parents (also air conditioned) for the worst of it.

Last night was almost unbearable, Liam was up until at least 10:00 and his room still was probably 85 degrees when he went to sleep, despite the fans and bowls of ice I set up when I got home from my work trip at around 8:00. Tonight is much better. Not only is it cooler, but there is a reliable breeze. Liam went down pretty easily and is so much more comfortable. It's positively pleasant and, honestly, after traveling for work which always means staying up late working and being out with clients, and then last night when no one slept well, I can't wait to trundle off to bed myself.

But, before I do, I thought I'd try to post this video of Liam singing, well, just for fun. This is his version of Row, Row the Boat, which my mother has been teaching him. "Ack" is Liam's word for boat. (It was one of his first "words" and like all those strange first words we can't get him to give it up even though he would surly able to say "boat" properly now if he wanted to. Same with "grandma;" I fear she'll be "Eh" until Liam is in high school.) "Merrily" sounds suspiciously like "mommy" except Liam never calls me that, only "mama." Please know that we do clean him up fairly often, the food on his face is left over from the dessert he had just been eating (raspberries).

Hope all visitors to this space are enjoying warm days and cool breezes, or at least have some in the future!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Symphony in the Park

I guess it's getting to be an annual thing. This year was too hot: mid 90s. In the Pacific NW we are not used to this kind of thing and most of us don't particularly care for it. Liam did okay -- he was less interested in the music, maybe because it was sort of hard to hear, but very interested in the other people, friendly, and reasonably well behaved. Thanks to grandpa DM and grandma KM for bringing snacks and to grandpa for carrying Liam all around.

Another year on, we're all still here. Still basically healthy. Compared to last year, Liam can now: walk and run and jump reliably on his own; feed himself (when he wants to); dance at least as well as his mama; go up and down stairs; name most of his colors; and use at least 10 words that anyone would understand and 10-15 that we all know. A big year, and more on the way, I'm sure. Hope everyone has a little music in their life this week.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Liam's Room

A quick peak at Liam's new curtains. I still like the fabric and realize that it is very much like a set of sheets that I had as a toddler (I remember them from shortly after my sister was born, so, I was around 4-5) which had pink hippos, orange lions, etc. and dots, very much in this color range and busy-busy style. Liam likes them too and will sometimes run up to them and say "mama!" which is my cue to say "yes, mama sewed them for you." Very sweet. (The baby pictures on the wall are of Will and me. I must have seen this somewhere and I like very much the idea of baby pictures of the parents in a baby's room. Liam didn't notice them much at first but these days he's really interested in the idea that mommy and daddy were once babies.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Our Pretty-Much GF Dinner

Seems to be a lot about food around here lately. No wonder my pants don't fit quite right any more. Yesterday's dinner with aunts, cousins and grandparents was mostly gluten free, because one of the aunts eats GF. So, in addition to the salmon with (GF) soy sauce and maple syrup we ate: cheese and rice crackers, tabbouleh salad made with quinoea, green bean salad which my mother made and which was fantastic, succotash which I had never heard of until I was 37 years old and learned to make it from Will's sister who just busted it out with no fuss one night when we were visiting and which is pretty much the very best use of seasonal corn as far as I'm concerned, and then (GF) ice cream, apricots, raspberries and pralines for dessert.

I had also planned to make and eat socca. Socca is what I imagine to be the perfect GF food. It is basically a flat bread made with chickpea flour. I've eaten a lot of it in France and Italy. Sometimes with onions and herbs; more often just plain. Sometimes you eat a little soft cheese, like Farmer's cheese with it. But it's great just plain. So, I was really excited about it. I bought the chick-pea flour, mixed up the batter in the AM, and put it in a hot, hot oven about 30 minutes before I planned to serve it. Looked great. . .bubbled away and browned nicely, but when I went to turn it out and cut it, it wasn't cooked all way. It was still corn-flour mush with (delicious!) crispy, brown edges. Second one worked slightly better, Will thinks because I left it in the (turned off) oven all through dinner. I think I may have mentioned that our oven sucks; this may have something to do with it. I'm definitely going to keep working on the socca thing. In the meantime, for the good of the order, here is Mark Bittman's recipe for socca, embedded in this also very useful recipe for regular flat bread, which I think can be made with GF flour. (Kate, check out Bittman's FB page or whatever the hell it is called for info on that in the comments.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Cousins!

Lovely dinner with two aunts and three cousins, plus grandpa DM and grandma KM. Two cousins are Liam's age(ish); my cousins kids. They are so well behaved, it is amazing. And, they played well with Liam and Liam warmed right up to them and played well too; although he is still learning about the idea of sharing. It was the best kind of dinner since other people (my mother) brought a lot of the food. Salmon my favorite way: marinated in equal parts maple syrup and soy sauce, cooked on the grill. It is the best and easiest thing ever. Likely someone will send me pictures and I'll try to post some. I was running around and didn't take any.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Writer's Almanac & Smitten Kitchen

Are you ever listening to the radio when this comes on? I love it. A year or so ago I subscribed to it as some kind of email feed so gets delivered to my in box about this time of night every day. It's great. Today's poem is wonderful. Yesterday's also. A few weeks ago, or some time, there was a poem by John Updike. I always forget he wrote poetry and, of course, it's amazing. Anyway: this is a small thing, but think how nice it might be to have a new poem every morning to read while you drink your coffee. Even when I don't like the poem, it's still nice.

The other thing on the Internet that I love these days: Smitten Kitchen. I guess everyone in the whole wide entire Internet knew about this before me, but, still, whatever. The food is all so good. And, someday I'll have time to read the food photography tips, which has the potential to end much annoyance and frustration.

Eating and Drumming at 2 Years Old

Will's sister is very nice and today we were emailing and she said what a great eater Liam is. That's so sweet but, really, I think he's pretty typical. Lately the main problem is he has a lot of trouble making up his mind. First he really wants dinner, and then in the very next second he goes nuts and has a total screaming and crying and "no-no-no-ing" meltdown at the mere mention of getting into his highchair.

So, tonight was pretty typical. What we planned and served: stir fried pork and tofu with rice and carrots and pea pods. (It was delicious.) All foods that Liam likes and has eaten before, numbers of time. What he actually ate: raspberries and Greek yogurt and milk. And we had to lure him into the highchair by letting him get the raspberries out of the refrigerator and carry them to the table (with help). He likes to put the raspberries on his fingers like little hats and eat them that way. He thinks that's hilarious.

After "dinner" he did a little drumming on the table with Will. He thinks that is really fun.

Have I mentioned lately that he just adores his Daddy? Really, it's something.

We are looking forward to a visit from two of my father's sisters tomorrow, and a cousin.

Monday, July 13, 2009


This is the face of a child who has tasted a junior mint and wants more. More and more. Will gave him one, and then had to give him another and now I think we have to hid the package somewhere up really high and out of reach. Well, who doesn't like junior mints?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Small Transformations

Two small things that make a big difference. First, the sewing project. It was nothing hard, just the curtains for Liam's room. The fabric was a flat fold from Ikea and I didn't even cut it except for length. Just sewed a pocket on the top, lined it with blackout material, and hemmed the sides and bottom. I didn't get a photo taken today, but will. It's bright fabric with lots of animals on it. Top left in this (annoyingly lousy) catalog picture. Anyway, the new curtains, plus finally putting up a few of the photos and posters we've had ready for a long time and Liam's room seems transformed to me.

Second thing, and this will sound strange: oil pie crust instead of butter. We get our pies here, and they are seriously good. We love the pie lady so very much; we're in there once a month at least. And always at Art Walk because her friend Mimi Williams is there. Lovely. The other day I asked in what I thought was a rhetorical sense, "how do you get the bottom crust so crisp, mine are always a disappointment?" And she blurted out "oil; it's soybean oil so it's healthy for you!" And then she looked sort of sheepish, like she hadn't meant to share the secret. (Or maybe because it is hard to view pie as healthy soybean oil or not.)

Anyway, I didn't say anything else about it and off I went with my pies. Later, I looked it up on the Internet (what, what did we do without it), and this weekend oil pie crust was tried in two forms. Double crust cherry pie with canola oil and all white flour worked okay. It didn't taste oily; bottom crisped up great; top was brown, and my only real complaint is that the crimped edges got tough. Cheese quiche with olive oil and half whole wheat flour worked slightly better. You can taste the olive oil, but that was the idea. Again edges got tough.

For comparison I just ate a piece of lemon sour cream pie from the pie lady (it was to die for), and the edges were not tough. I think I'll bake at a lower temperature next time. We'll see. It's fast, there's no fussy cutting together of the flour and butter or, even worse, hauling out the Cuisinart. If any of you'd like to experiment here's the ratio I used: 2 and 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift first, so this is a scant 2 and 3/4 cup), generous pinch salt, 1/2 cup milk (I used whole), 1/2 cup oil. Mix it up. Form into a ball. Chill for 30 minutes or so, and roll out. If you're careful, you can just roll it out on a floured board. If you're worried about it, roll it out between two pieces of plastic wrap. Like any pie crust, don't over handle it. Bake according to whatever you're doing, except the next time I do it, I'm going to try to not get the over over 400 degrees. Let me know how it goes and if you have any tips. Neat!

Thunder and lightening

Scares the dog and makes her willing to accept petting even from Liam. Raining and 60 degrees here today, with thunder and lightening. Funny how summer rain seems so different from winter, so welcome. I smile every time I look out the window, glad I got the pumpkin starts in the ground yesterday and the lettuce seeds planted. Neighbors are out in their slickers pulling final weeds and taking the green-waste bins to the curb. Kids out for quick walks, and even Liam and I took the compost food out to the worms in between rain drops. We're working on being homebodies today. . .more later.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dancing Sippy

We changed the radio station in the kitchen away from the non-stop NPR talk to something that has more music. In this picture sippy is dancing to. . .I don't know what; it's the college station and I recognize almost nothing they play even though it all sounds pretty good to me.

This week Liam and I have spent almost every evening out in the yard weeding or planting something (blueberries, red huckleberries, bunch berry and today a fig tree that I've been waiting and waiting for). This has given Liam a new appreciation for where food comes from. Tuesday night he came running over pell-mell saying "ump-ah, ump-ah, ump-ah" which is his word for apple. He had just noticed all the apples in the tree and was convinced we should eat some right now. Because he knows his colors, we could talk about how we don't eat the apples until they turn red. What color are they now? "Green." Right. What color are they when we eat them? "Red. . .ump-ah, ump-ah, ump-ah." So he knows how to answer the question, but I'm not sure he's quite got the concept. We had the same discussion about green blueberries. But he still tried to eat one.

In a Will update; he is not feeling good. Congestion continues (or worsens? I'm not sure) and he just really hasn't been feeling well in his spirit or his body lately. We hope for a better day tomorrow. His next scheduled appointment isn't until the end of August, so we'll see if he wants to hold out until then.

Stay tuned, I'm in danger of finally finishing a sewing project in the next few days.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Liam was up at 5:30 today. He's been on a trend line towards earlier waking all week. I am a morning person and generally happy to be up at 6:00 but this 5:30 thing, I think, was really too much. Up at 5:30 and ready to go do something fun. The first thing he said to me (after "Daddy" which is almost always the very first thing he says) was: Beach. So, after a little snuggle, some time watching "e-o-e-o-e-o" (Liam's word for the video about animals that we let him watch sometimes, I bet you can guess the soundtrack), some waffles and blueberries (if I am up at 5:30 I think I deserve waffles, at least), we were finally off to the beach. Because I'm a very nice girl, I loaded Mollie in the car so she could come too. She loves to swim. Because they're very nice people, my parents called me back at 7:45AM and said, sure, bring them to the beach at our house. This meant I got coffee too and could let Mollie off the leash. Also we got to read stories at my parents house after, resulting in a rare picture of Liam and Mommy reading.

Other happenings: Liam had a hair cut today. Our neighbor cuts his hair (she cuts mine too). This is not quite as weird as it sounds. She used to cut hair at a fancy, expensive place but quit about 8 years ago to stay home with her three kids. As they got older, she started cutting hair from her house. It's homey. You get your hair washed in the kitchen sink, for example. And it's inexpensive in the extreme. She's great and she was nice about Liam crying and crying and clinging to me like a limpet. Also, 3 blueberry bushes were bought by me today at the farmers market, and as soon as I get peat moss (tomorrow) they will go in the ground. We're getting a big push of marine air (finally) and it promises to be 10-15 degrees cooler tomorrow and maybe even rain. What a relief.

Finally, I have done no work this weekend beyond open and read (but not respond to) a few emails. And most I haven't even opened. This is very unusual and feels quite nice as long as I don't actually think about it because when I do I get that queasy I am way far behind at work and am going to be in big trouble feeling. If tomorrow is very productive, I won't be totally sunk.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

A very special thing happened this morning for the 4th of July: Bunny the neighbor's kitty came to visit us at our house. Honestly, I don't think Liam could have been happier, well, at all. Bunny stayed all morning and then came into the house and jumped up onto one of the kitchen chairs. Bunny is a high-quality kitty. She went under the porch (Liam followed) and ate treats from Liam's hand and purred. That's right. I asked Bunny's people if it would be okay for us to give her treats and they said yes. We're sunk, I think.

Delightful cook out at Grandpa DH and GG's tonight, with both sets of grandparents in attendance. And we got to bring cupcakes home!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Just a boy and his broccoli

Liam enjoys harvesting and eating vegetables from the garden very much. He is amazed by the pea pods and strawberries. Thinks the carrots are a miracle. And, today, broccoli, one of his favorite vegetables. It's funny; he doesn't associate the broccoli plants with broccoli until he watches me harvest them. Once that happens he's all over it.

Unfortunately, broccoli doesn't come off the stalk very easily without a knife so Liam ended up with the whole plant. Which he ate all the broccoli florets off of, raw, while I followed him around hoping he wouldn't choke. And then when I had my back turned he picked the zucchini squash flowers.

Other randomness: we are enjoying our rearranged kitchen very much and I would like it even more if it weren't 90 degrees outside (and at least that hot inside). I washed and cut up an entire flat of strawberries today in preparation for making jam. More on that later. And, while at the Farmers Market to buy the strawberries we sat at the same table of a world war II veteran; we talked with him a little, and it turns out he was one of the first Americans into Japan after the armistice and went through Hiroshima on a truck only a week after the bomb was dropped. That is something for the 4th of July, I guess.