Thursday, February 26, 2015

Teeth.

I've been editing.
 
Images from this year. Images from last year. Trying to keep up, maintain, get ahead. There are so many pictures. I often feel superior because at least I am taking the pictures. But there is so very much to be done after that. It gets overwhelming, it gets backed up, it piles high and gets ignored.
 
But I'm into the thick of it now, and uncovering gems.
 
Smiles are changing here. Last week both kids lost a tooth! Both!
 
This is Fisher last year, April, when he lost his first tooth, a bottom one, you can hardly see it here. Smile hardly changed.
 

This is Fisher last month with the first top tooth out.
 
Then he goes and loses the other top one a month later. Secretly I'm kind of glad. I was hoping for that big window on him, since Alla had one growing in before the other came out. It's once in a lifetime you know? Well, we hope. I mean the kid comes in with a bloody lip every other day having slid on the ice or gotten kneed or taking a ball to the mouth. Boys.
 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

(I know, it's Wednesday morning. Shhh.)

1. If you have not yet partaken in the Starbucks Flat White, I urge you to get one, stat. From what I've read, the Flat White is not a new Starbucks thing, but an Aussie/New Zealand thing of old, that perhaps Starbucks is even messing up. If that's the case, I would surely like to try a "good" Flat White, because these things are coffee heaven.

2. Snow! We got about three inches yesterday! Never thought we'd be so happy for three measly inches, but in a dry, dry winter, you take what you can get. It's all fluffy white sparkly everywhere again, as winter should be. We're still in the market for a good dumping, though, several feet if Mother Nature can manage it.

3. My dear book-loving friend Elizabeth sent me the most exciting news yesterday! Brian Selznick will publish a new book in September! This news must be completely forgotten, because September is a very long time from now, and these are not the months I wish to live quickly, what with birthdays and warm days and baseball and playing outside to do. Still, I will put September 15 on the calendar as a day to spend with that book as soon as it arrives on my doorstep. So I can beat the kids to it.

(I'm afraid I should have saved that bit for last, as I'm really not as excited about the next seven points.)

4. Finally watched the Parenthood series finale, and feel, as with all series finales, Why? It was (was!) such a wonderful show.

5. At least House of Cards returns at the end of the month, and there will likely be a season of The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy tucked into a Netflix envelope at some point as well, but zombies and biker criminals aren't really a good replacement for a terrific family drama.

6. Alla went to her knitting class last night and learned to knit in a circle, which means she can teach me!

7. How often do you run out of produce? It's about 3-4 days here.

8. I ran 48.9 miles in January. Me and the single digits are tight. But also, the warmer days (in the 30s), thank you.

9. On Monday before school, the children and I watched the live webcast of the book awards. You can see a list of all the winners here. I highly recommend I'll Give You the Sun, Rain Reign, and El Deafo.

10. I am slowing getting edited and uploaded bits and pieces of my Project 365, my first-ever (and only) photo-a-day-for-a-whole-entire-very-long-365-day-year. You can see these very few bits and pieces over on the photography blog. I can't lie, the sharing of them is going to be sporadic. I think I committed myself to the photo taking and didn't necessarily consider what all comes after that for three hundred and sixty five photos, but I'm getting to it in chunks here and there, so come back and check in. I'm excited to see the changes of a year, in photographs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. New England is digging out from 3 feet of snow, yet here in Minnesota, in January, we barely have a dusting. More grass than snow. The whole entire point of winter is snow, so if it's not going to do that, it might as well be spring.

2. Fisher is having a visitor from Children's come to his class tomorrow to speak about Type 1 Diabetes. He is so excited about it being 'his day.'

3. While I was looking through photos to send to the representative from Children's, I thought I'd send along the link to the blog post where I wrote about his diagnosis. I had completely forgotten that there was a short video at the end of it, and oh my gosh my heartstrings. You can read the post here, and the video is at the end of it.

4. The weather here is downright balmy, which is contributing to the epic snowmelt. 30s and 40s are quickly becoming normal, instead of how we'd usually describe those temperatures in January: "hot."

5. Dinner tonight was the last quarter of our Christmas Eve meatloaf that we carefully freeze and save til we can no longer stand not eating it. Sad to see it go.

6. Alla was thankful, yes, for the delicious meatloaf, but even more for the mashed potatoes that so perfectly went with it.

7. That girl had her winter orchestra festival last night, and played lovely. I am hoping that she sticks with the violin.

8. Fisher is looking forward to his first chess club this Sunday at the library, and Alla is looking forward to her Advanced Knitting Class for the next two Tuesdays. Again, at the library. I love our library. There are always like fifteen things waiting for us.

9. I'm just going to say one more time that we would love a big storm. A real good dumping, crippling dumping of snow. We will stock up and stay put, and make fires and play outside. We live in Minnesota, so I feel like we deserve it.

10. So, Super Bowl this Sunday. I do not love football, like at all, but my family loves nachos. Nacho Sunday, then!

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2014.


In 2014 I read 58 books, and these are my 5-star picks. I am very happy that I get to sit down with my children at bedtime (Ron and I alternate reading nights, and each have our own book we're reading with them), because this allows me to read more books and push my own reading agenda.

Of the 58 books, 12 were books I read aloud to them.

43 were either middle grade or young adult, but most of those 43 were definitely middle grade. I love middle grade children's literature.

In my 5-star Top Ten here, all but two are either middle grade or young adult, five were read aloud to the kiddos, and two (Flora & Ulysses and The False Prince) were books I re-read from previous years.

Notes about some:

I'll Give You the Sun Goodness those chapters were long, which is not my preferred style of book, as it is harder to feel accomplished if you're endlessly in the middle of the chapter, but it was so worth seeing those two perspectives come together by the end.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and A Man Called Ove tied for my favorite books of the year, though I'll Give You the Sun was close behind.

It is really too hard to pick a favorite middle grade book, so I'll single out Rain Reign, simply because it is the only middle grade of the bunch that I read on my own, versus to the kids.

For read aloud, though, you really cannot go wrong with anything by Jonathan Auxier, and I have a feeling we'll be in withdrawal a bit this year without one of his splendid adventures.

I've now perused the Best of lists from all.the.places. and have made quite a ginormous list to read in 2015. It's quite laughable, however, when I compare the "official" to-read list with what I actually end up reading. Invariably, a kiddo will thrust something surely spectacular in my hands, or something new will show up on my radar, and every December I am left wondering why I didn't stick to my list? Why did I ever make the list?

Because for a reader, half the fun is in the discovery of new books, especially, with the goodness of Goodreads, as they appeal to others.

May 2015 be a happy reading year!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

(dusting off keyboard)

It's been too long, but there is something to be said for a break. Also Life proceeded whilst I was away from the keyboard, which means there's loads of back material there. Maybe that's the ticket. Just step away for awhile, live life, take pictures, come back and play catch up. I'll think it over, and in the meantime we'll just start 2015 nice and easy with a traditional Ten on Tuesday.

1. It's cold here. Thankfully Ron got me the perfect Christmas gift (from Etsy!), my very own Snock. Don't laugh, I'm toasty.

2. Due to the arctic temperatures, my skin is dry as a desert. Currently on the lookout for a new moisturizer that will make me look less like a crocodile. I wonder when companies formulate moisturizers for 'dry skin' if they really know what dry skin in a Minnesota winter looks like.

3. Over the Christmas break we watched season 1 of the wonderfully British Happy Valley. Highly recommend.

4. I also read two wonderful books, A Man Called Ove and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Both highly recommend.

5. I believe my holiday photos are still on my camera, due mostly to #3 and #4.

6. Over the two-week break from school, I was rarely asleep before eleven (see #4), and rarely awake before eight. Consequently yesterday morning was quite a shock.

7. We saw two movies, Annie and Into the Woods. Rent the former, GO SEE THE LATTER. Soon.

8. Appetizers in front of a movie (Elf) on Christmas Eve works out very well.

9. One thing I love about December is the onslaught of Best of booklists. One thing I love about January is the forthcoming Newbery and other medals, so I can add even more books to my list for this year, which reminds me that my own Best Books list is forthcoming.

10. As I type this the temperature sits at three above and the windchill hovers at seventeen below, and I am hoping that our school district will close tomorrow and we can have a day at home to do, oh, all the random wonderful stuff we did for the last two weeks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No shortage of books.


Tonight my lovely daughter told me, after learning that I had picked up new books at the library today, that If there were ever one thing we were short on, it would NOT be books.


Very, very true. We take books seriously here. We probably won't ever have enough bookshelves and baskets for them all. I spent a good chunk of my day at the very least thinking about what I'm reading or going to read next or when I can read again. I hope we are passing this on to our children.


They just finished these books: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (Fisher), and Magic in the Mix (Alla). Both recommended!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Whew! We made it to California and back successfully!

2. We went from flip flops and sweating while out for short walks, to Uggs and temps in the 30s when we landed at home two days later, to snow boots and gloves and back-breaking shoveling the next day.

3. The reunion itself was AMAZING. Can't say that enough, to be around people who you don't get to see regularly, and others you haven't seen since graduation, it was just so fun to catch up. If you happen to be in charge of planning your high school reunion, take some notes from the classy ladies that put on ours: a wine bar. Super casual (well I still had to wear heels, ugh!), lots of mingling, a slideshow (!!) of during and after high school, even gift bags. Seriously, girls, you OUTDID yourselves.

4. So, our flight was delayed coming home and we spent 3+ hours in LAX. In. Instead of out, where the sunshine was. Thanks a lot United. Speaking of which, I still have to go and claim my lame gift to try and make up for making me late picking up my children.

5. And getting groceries. No time for that Sunday night, it was 9:00 when they got to bed as it was. So we ate frozen peas on Monday. But today I shopped! The lady in line behind me at Target, as well as the cashier, both commented on the amount of produce I was buying. I admitted to them I really was starting at zero.

6. Spent 3 hours at the Honda dealer this morning having that airbag recall done.

7. Good thing I had a book: Orange Is the New Black.

8. Now that we're getting down to the end of the year, I've had to narrow down my to-read list, which means prioritizing what I can actually read before December 31, which means the following: Station Eleven, A Man Called Ove, and Rain Reign. I'd also really like to read Unbroken before the movie comes out, but let's face it, I'm going to see that on Netflix, so I have some time.

9. When you've just returned from a short trip, had a snowstorm that impedes driving, spent 3 hours at a car dealer, and then finally done the weekly grocery shopping, you need an easy meal: Crockpot Chicken Tacos, which assumes only that you have some defrosted chicken and a few taco-ish ingredients on hand.

       Brown salt and peppered chicken in a little butter and olive oil for a few minutes on each side. Place in crockpot. Add some chicken broth to the pan to deglaze. (I know it's an easy meal but this step isn't hard, so don't skip it or else you're leaving all those flavorful browned bits out of your taco dinner.) Add in some green or red salsa, stir into the broth and browned bits. Pour over your chicken in crockpot, add a little more salsa and mix around in the crock. Turn on high and leave for 3-4 hours. Serve, obviously, with your favorite taco fixins, which for us  are: cheese, guac, sour cream, red pepper slices, and SLAW. The slaw always makes the taco.

10. Lastly, thank you military service people, who are too many to list, but specifically my husband, my brothers, and my father in law.