Thursday, April 30, 2009


A big, warm, excited welcome to Iain's first cousin (in both senses): Audrey Marie. Born last night at the very reasonable hour of 9:46pm, she weighed 7 lbs, 3oz. As you can see, she's delicious.

Iain looks forward to meeting little Audrey, and to explaining everything he knows about drooling, diapers, and how to eat dog hair off the floor. There's so much to learn...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cherimoya Madness

I bought another one. Isn't it pretty? Ok, it's not that pretty. But inside...

Lots of seeds, it's true. But the flesh is juicy and sweet, tasting of banana and pineapple mixed together. I like it a lot, and Iain loves it. This week he tried noodles, and he learned an important skill: sucking the noodle in. He applied that knowledge to bits of cherimoya tonight. I put a spoonful on his lips (I was using a grown-up spoon so I didn't want to put it *in* his mouth as usual), and he sucked the piece in like a pro.

Yum, yum, yum. If you buy one, wait until it's quite soft before eating. I bought one 2 days ago, hard as a rock, and put it in the fruit bowl next to a bunch of bananas. Today it was deliciously ripe. You'll have to pick out (or eat around) the seeds, but that's not so bad. Above, you can see the discarded shell of the cherimoya's other half. Between us, Iain and I ate the whole thing. Yum, yum, yum.

Just a Suggestion

Over at Smitten Kitchen, a comment caught my eye. Someone complained that even though laying out all your ingredients in advance is great for cooking (and baking), it's hard if you don't have a million little bowls.

I tend to forget ingredients, so laying stuff out in advance is essential or else we end up with something like "It's apple cake except without nutmeg because I forgot and with 2 tablespoons of vanilla because I misread the recipe and also I dumped all the cinnamon sugar in the wrong batter because I was reading it wrong." Usually, it's ok. Sometimes it's gross.

Anyhoo, here's the solution if you need to lay out your stuff in advance (like me) but don't have a million little bowls (which I *do* have, but let's just say you don't):

1. Identify which plastic-packaged single-serving item you eat all the time. This might be yoghurt, or hummus, or cream cheese or lipton soup in little bowls.

2. Do not discard those little plastic bowls when you're done.

3. Wash and save, all the same item.

Within about a month, you'll have a little collection of lightweight, stackable, easily disposed of bowls. If one gets all gross, just recycle it. You have a renewable resource there. I use the little single-serving Greek yoghurt bowls, and I have about 10 of them. I can feed Iain out of them, measure out spices or butter or eggs or whatever. They can be washed on the top shelf of the dishwasher, and they were free.

Now, I must go wipe down the half bath. My asparagus is out of the oven, my dinner is half cooked and waiting only for The Dad, my son is abed, and I have much wiping of sinks and toilets to do.

Happily, there are no new emails from my seniors. My fingers are crossed that this means they are all done with their papers and enjoying a nice celebratory beverage. A milkshake, for example. That's what all the young folks drink in college, right? Right?

Mind if I Just Melt?

So far today:
Tidied the dining room (you'd be surprised how much Iain mucks it up in there)
Tidied the sunroom
Tidied the living room.
Collected items to be given away, drove to Goodwill and donated them.
Collected items going to the library, moved them to the back door for delivery this afternoon.
Took Iain to the grocery and obtained veggies for my side dish for tomorrow's picnic.
Wrote a letter to get a class changed so that it will help our majors more.
Created a scavenger hunt for my lower-division course (it's extra credit).
Counted proposals for a conference this fall and solicited more.
Answered a bazillion emails from seniors finishing their final papers.
Tidied the guest room.
Soaked "delicates" in Woolite.

Still to do:
Library donation.
Cook those veggies.
Make guest bed.
Make dinner.
Clean kitchen.
Clean bathroom.
Clean "delicates."
Clean other bathroom.

I think I'm going to get on that last one.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Isla's grandmother wants Iain to know that not only did Isla win the first round of the International Cheek-Off, she's poised to take the championship cup:

Closeup? Oh, sure. Here you go:

This competitive streak is really dangerous. Don't cross those Deetervills. Just look at her. She'll cut you with those cheeks.

Maddie, Part 2

Maddie's dad send this video, which purports to show how "crazy" she is. Ummmm....she seems pretty normal to me. Even rather delightfully energetic. Smiling, cooing, doing all that adorable baby girl type stuff.

It's true that in this video she fails to: eat an entire banana in less than 30 seconds, drool in long milky ropes, or respond to any query with "DadDadDad." But that just proves that she's not Iain.

No. No. That Just Ain't Right.

What caused the mess you see above? Chocolate pudding.

Here's how it went down: For Iain's birthday I made apple cake. Charles went out for apples (a little detail I'd forgotten) and picked up some heavy cream because we were low on ice cream. So I used half of it to whip and eat with the cake. But that left half a pint of heavy cream.

I've been buying eggs at the Farmer's Market, and now that Iain is one he can eat eggs. So with cream and eggs in the house...some kind of custard seemed obvious. Then Charles said, "You could make pudding." and I said, "Iain hasn't had chocolate yet." and Charles said, "What kind of mother are you?"

Finding a recipe proved annoying. So I just made it up. I heated the cream plus a cup and a half of whole milk. I whisked 3 egg yolks in a bowl. I added half a cup of sugar to the cream, and a plop of vanilla extract. Then I slowly whisked a ladle-full of hot dairy into the yolks, bringing them up to temp, and then added that back to the pot of hot creamy milkyness. Stir, stir, stir. When it started to get thick (after like 5 minutes), I added one chopped up bar of Very Dark Chocolate (Scharffenberger 60%). Stir, stir, stir. I decanted it into little cups for Iain and into two wine glasses for us.

Then came dinner. Iain was fussy. We later learned he had reason to be fussy (in his pants). Still, when I presented him with chocolate pudding, lovingly made (using every implement in the kitchen and resulting in the mess you see above) I did not expect this reaction: frown. Wait a second. Suddenly shake head as if something truly nasty and surprising has assaulted your taste buds. Turn away in disgust and push hands toward Mommy. "No more!" was the clear message. This head-shaking, frowning rejection occurred several times. After the second time, Iain started reaching into his mouth and taking the pudding out (sort of) and then wiping it on himself, the high-chair, and the dining room table.

He had to be stripped:
Then bathed. Then to bed. And Mommy sat there thinking, "Seriously?"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Think like a baby

"The immaturity of the baby brain comes with another advantage: utter absorption in the moment."

Stuff is Growing, Growing, Growing!

Charles's lime tree is totally out of control. Check out these blossoms:

Meanwhile, my favorite little tree, our pink dogwood, continues to delight:

At the Farmer's Market, I bought a little swiss chard seedling. It will go into my garden tomorrow evening.

And in other news:


AND: (!!)

Houston, we have raspberries. Or at least, we have growth from our raspberry bushes. It's all verra, verra ess-eye-tin'.

What I'll Be Doing This Afternoon

Easy, peasy, friends. And it's forecast to rain tomorrow!

Pretty, pretty

Several years ago, a friend (then of LA, now of Boston), introduced me to Etsy. It's a shopping mall online where people sell hand-made items. They sell everything from jewelry to cupcakes, and I've ordered many things there as gifts.

Two weeks ago, while shopping for Iain's birthday gift (a set of beautiful small photographs of birds in flight), I bought this for myself:

It's a pendant, about an inch and a half across, made by a ceramist in the Bronx. Not only did she send the pendant, but also this lovely thank-you card:

In other news,

Iain would like to tell you something.

This onesie used to be white. No, really. It turns out that for all its wonderful qualities, one thing the Moby wrap lacks is....colorfastness! Yes, it's true. Many things are now blue.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Maddie Gets Creative

Observe Maddie, not following the manufacturer's recommendation. Also, note the strategically-placed pillow, blocking Maddie's access to the electronics. This is obviously how her parents force her to listen to things like Vanilla Ice and Pat Boone.

Garden Update

Rain barrel: on 4 squares. Next step requires that I go buy some concrete blocks, so that will have to wait until tomorrow, probably.

Marigolds! Planted! Also, 2 small bags of local compost (from the Farmer's Market) distributed on top and moistened for extra delicious flavor.

Lettuce! Two more heads purchased at the Farmer's Market, and all the little ones from 2 weeks ago (still trucking) planted with them in one big pot. I put it under the back porch overhang, where it should get morning sun and afternoon shade. That, plus a cooling trend in the next week, will give me a bit longer to pick fresh lettuce-y goodness from the back porch. Part of my lunch today was composed of cuttings from this bunch. Tast-ee.

More Garden News to come...raspberries, dogwood, and leafy greens.

New Additions

Moooooom...what're you doing?

Well, for one thing I'm installing this new rainbarrel. It arrived Friday, and I figured out where to put it, reattached the internal overflow guard (detached in transit - thanks Fedex!), and dug out enough gravel to put down 2 cement pavers. I need to put down the other 2, then get a few cement blocks and boost the barrel a bit. It has to be higher than the garden bed or I won't be able to use it for irrigating.

I also planted a ton of marigolds. 6 six-packs makes 36 small marigolds, some red and yellow, some yellow, some orange. They help to keep away bugs (esp. beetles and aphids) and are pretty. In this photo the red ones are already in - try to use your imagination to put in some yellow/orange ones.

Also, you'll see that on the left and right are 2 tomatoes. I put those in on Friday.

So: getting ready to harvest some roof water for gardening. Got the first 2 tomatoes in (planning 2 more), got some pretty-pretties in for color and bug smacking...oh, and I laid down some preliminary drip irrigation. I still need to get those el-hugo staple thingies to hold it in place and re-arrange it so it's more rational. But this is a start.

Meanwhile, I arranged to have 2 cubic yards of soil brought in for the juniper beds (which are sad, friends), and will be planting ground cover there once it's in place. Compost is going well, and I need to source some more flat stone for paths and little boulders for borders. And plant some containers. But other than that, there's nothing to do.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Looking Forward

Last summer I made a mess of ice cream. I made blackberry sorbet, watermelon sorbet, peach tea ice cream, peach ice cream (peach obsession? Yes.), lemon verbena ice cream, chocolate ice cream (believe it or not, that one was awful)...I made a lot of ice cream and sorbet.

Our ice cream maker takes up about the same square footage as the state of New Jersey, so we take it out in summer, make ice cream, then put the thing away again when cold weather returns. Hence, I have begun to think of ice cream. Of course, this year's flavors will be restricted by the 6 weeks we're spending away from home, but that leaves all of August and half of June! Plenty of time for a few batches.

I'm planning to start with lemon ice cream. Because I love lemons. And because the whole point - for me - of making your own ice cream is to make flavors you can't buy. Why make vanilla? Take my word for it: the best vanilla you ever make will taste like Breyer's.

Anyway. Success is all about planning. Or so I like to believe. In keeping with that dictum, today I bought myself David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop.


I love my books. Any kind will do, including the Orvis catalog.

"See, Juno, it's about this dog/bear, see. And it's autumn, and he's enjoying the leaves and stuff. I dunno, it's a kid thing. You wouldn't understand."

Mmm...a color book with the page turned to Mom and Dad's favorite color - Black!

And if you take away Iain's books? Bad times:

[OK, really that was a bad day due to teething. He was cheerful, then screaming, then happy, then screaming. We're all better now, and that (second) new tooth is about ready to pop on out.]

Seen at the local library

Friday, April 24, 2009

Date Night!

It being the end of the semester, one is tried. Tired, I mean. Very, very tired. So here are some photos (taken with the cell phone because for the 842,637, 212th time, the camera remained at home) of tonight's epic romance between Callie and Iain:

They dined. Or, rather, Iain gorged while Callie watched with amusement and snacked on some pear and banana.

Like any huge meal, afterward Iain felt kind of sick.

Callie, on the other hand, remained insanely cute.

No, really. Check this out:

Dad tried to help by providing some exercise

But mostly Iain wanted to sit on Callie's Mom's lap.

Or hang out with "the guys" talking shop

Callie found refuge in the arms of a nearby prince

But eventually they reconciled, and (of course) had a bit to eat

The ladies watched, discussed, and provided chaperonage.

In non-fictional terms, we joined Callie's parents and grandparents, plus the Fabulous Next-Doors, for dinner. We started on the Next-Door patio, where drinks paired with veggies, cheese, crackers and a hot appetizer. Dinner took us back to Chez Callie for grilled salmon, mahi-mahi and shrimp with asparagus, spinach salad and couscous. Hot, freshly baked cookies with vanilla ice cream, strawberries and chocolate syrup topped us off and proved, incontrovertibly, that we are all more than ready for spring.

Then we solved the problems of the world while Callie and Iain dreamed.


A few days ago Charles and I were heading out (to be told that Iain is "a little off the chart"), and I noticed something white moving around in the breeze. Hmmm...

So when we got home, I did something I never do. I walked around the side of the house. No, really.

And what did I find? That's right, my little friends. A huge lilac bush. In bloom. With gorgeous, smelly, delicious, perfect lilacs all over it.

Our story ends here, because I must go bang my head against a wall for not noticing a LILAC bush in 3 years of living in this house.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hurricane Iain

I'll spare you having to see Iain's room after a day of play. Here is the sunroom, innocent of any wrongdoing, yet strewn with toys, towels, books and bottles. Nothing is safe.
You have been warned.

Dear Son

Here are some times of day you should not see again until you're 15: 12:51am. 4:29am.
Thank you.
The Mgmt.

P.S. My seeds germinated. Too bad I did this a month late. Still.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So Far...

Today, I've gone to the grocery, written and mailed thank-you notes, graded/edited four senior theses, baked an apple cake, made cookie dough, made dinner (at 2pm - it was a crockpot meal), made iced tea, read drafts via email, planted my herbs, thinned my sugar-snap peas, planted a ground crawler between some flagstones (and added a couple more stones), and performed various tasks related to Mr. Man.

I need to go wash my hands (garden dirt) so I can make the cookies. And I need to read/grade/edit about 6 more senior theses.

Then it will be time for bed.

I am soooooo ready for: warm weather, the end of the term, a winning lottery ticket. Not necessarily in that order.


Bye, Bye Chicklets! I has a new toof. It's on the top, on the right-hand side. No, you can't see it in this picture. This is just for illustration. Ie, "That's me!"

Anyway. It broke through on my birfday (first toof came on Christmas. It's all about holidays, man.), and another one next door is coming any day. So I've been clicking my teef together, which freaks out The Dad. I enjoy that.

Birthday checklist:
1. Carseat: check
2. Eggs: check
3. Toof!: check
4. Presents: check
5. Cake!: check
6. Moo Milk: check
7. Chocolate: hello? Hello?? No chocolate yet. Can I get some service over here?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Camping, Anyone?

Iain's final birthday present arrived on Monday. It's a tent, but really it's a portable crib.

You may recall that we borrowed a similar item from Benjamin's parents, and Iain slept in it while we visited Seattle. At first, the Little Man wasn't thrilled, but he got used to it and we loved it. Lightweight, portable, plop-downable anyplace, it's stable and comfy. You can zip up the side panels for ventilation or down for darkness. And it's got that fun outdoorsy vibe.

So we asked for one. Except I thought, "you know, Iain grows so fast. Let me see if they have a slightly bigger one." They did. It was about 5 inches longer, the website said.

As you can see, five inches of length on the base translated to a huge difference in volume. This thing feels twice as big as Benjamin's tent. I might have worried that it was too big, but UPS came just after we returned from seeing Dr. W.

So now, knowing that Iain is "Just a little bit bigger than Jupiter" and "just a little bit of a moose" and "just a little likely to be a linebacker" I don't feel bad at all. We needed all that extra room, because in a week or so Iain will be 5 feet tall.

Happy Birthday To You...HBTY...etc. etc.

Dear Aunt Miriam:

If you want, I'll share my trucks with you.

Happy Birthday, Kees Kees!

P.S. I don't think you'll fit in my new jammies, but you can try if you want. They have a turtle on them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Birthday Freakout 4: Presents!

As is traditional here, we reserved Iain's birthday gifts for after dinner. This is the way we do things. Unless by "we" you mean Mom, who likes to tear open her gifts the moment the UPS driver's fingers release them. If you want something saved for a holiday, send it to Charles.

Anyway. So Iain ate his dinner with presents all 'round. And, as you can see, he didn't care one bit. He was (as he always is) all, "what's to eat?" Now you see how he got to be approximately "A Little Off the Charts" tall.

Callie was more polite, though she enjoyed her hummus and Club crackers just as much, methinks.

The first present to be opened was a soft book. Then came a hard book. Iain loves his books, so he was pleased. Then there was a gift card disguised as a book. He liked that a lot, enough to wipe hummus all over it and then give it a taste.

Then he opened the first gift from Callie. Check it out:

In order to fully understand our delight, you need to know that one of Iain's grandfathers wears a blue polo shirt and tan shorts (note to our English friends: not khaki pants!) almost every single day. So Iain is his grandfather's grandson, for sure. Note the lobster detail - that's a little nod to Maine.

Once dinner was over, Iain retired to the den to commence the unwrapping in earnest. Here, he frolics among the discarded papers:

One of the next gifts opened came from the Colorado contingent. It was a toy that used to belong to Daddy. You can see part of it in Iain's hand above, but it was Callie who immediately glommed on to The Toy You Can Whack. Charles provided a tutorial, but Callie was a natural.

Mom was more excited about the jammies in the box, but Iain doesn't care about that. That's boring compared to a truck you can bang on. However, his next present was a huge hit. Huge. Of course, he only got to play with it the next morning, because Dad had to put it together. But that prolonged the fun of The Birthday, so it's all good.


And a closeup of Mr. HappyPants:

One more gift came today, photos to follow...