Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's so cool...

to get glimpses of what Natty is learning at school and other places. Yesterday on a walk she said, "Look, mom, a hawk!" and sure enough, there wheeling above us was a hawk. Well spotted Natty! She goes to the Audubon once a week where they take walks and learn outdoorsy stuff (like: don't touch hairy vines! They're poison ivy). It's nice to have someone besides us spend time with her outdoors - reinforces her enjoyment of nature. I assume they identified hawks to her there - I mean, we do too! But I think it often is "just Mom and Dad talking" when we get all excited about, say, little birds chasing a hawk and stop to watch the drama unfold. However she's getting the information, it's great to see her enjoy using it.

Today we celebrated Marmee's birthday. We went to a lovely restaurant/winery then back to the house for one of Lindsey's amazing cakes. It was great fun - she was just expecting lunch with Murray and our family, but instead the whole family was there.

My Murray wrote a funny poem and we gave her a skydiving jump a la Bush Sr which got a good laugh. (it's a joke. Our real present hadn't arrived in the mail yet so we had to do something).

Oh! I'm helping to teach Sunday School. I feel very virtuous about it - surely it's no big deal for someone who actually likes children. But for me, a person who is overwhelmed by her own 2, it's a huge deal to willingly step into a room with many of the little critters. (Especially since I do so love sitting still and quiet in the church service. It's like a mini-spa, only for my heart, not my body. Hmmm, on second thought, it's even good for my body - almost an hour without picking someone up, getting jerked down to the floor or having someone climb (literally) me). And so far, so good. We're 2 weeks in - I've got another 3 weeks to go for this section. The children's program at our church is wonderful and I'm happy to contribute so that it can keep on doing it's good work.

That's all the news that fit to print.

By the way, if anyone reading this wants more of a particular topic in our lives, let me know. I'll (probably) be happy to oblige.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I did it

Have you heard about the amazing No-Knead Bread? I missed it when it first came out in the NYT way back in 2006. When I did read about it a few years later, I thought, "That's so great! I have to make it!" And proceed to do absolutely nothing (except bookmark the recipe in Chez Pim) until today.

Today was the day because Murray volunteered to make his famous sourdough pancakes for our church yesterday. He was totally jazzed up about it - if you know him, you know how he gets. On fire!  I could sell tickets. He even had me go buy a 5 gallon bucket to make the starter in.

The pancake feed went great - everyone loved them (of course). He had gotten a little carried away with the 5 gallon bucket of starter though and we had some left over. Not one to let good sourdough starter go to waste, I promised I'd make some sourdough bread, thinking of the No-Knead Bread recipe.

This morning I rolled up my sleeves and tackled the bread.

I've made a fair amount of bread in my day (most exotic: in a mud oven in Papua New Guinea, most recent: about 14 loaves of cinnamon swirl bread for Christmas gifts). My mom bakes a lot of bread, but strangely she wasn't the one who taught me how to make it. My Aunt Kathy taught me one summer up at their gold mine outside of Dawson City, Yukon Territory. She was pregnant with my cousin Mike that summer and still cooking for the crew. So someone (my mom? Jim? my Grandma?) had the idea that I go up and help out. I was 18 and happy to try something new, especially with Jim, Kathy and the kids who are great fun. I honestly don't know if I was any help to her at all. Kathy is quite competent. But I did learn how to make doughnuts and bread and, even more importantly, not to get too overwhelmed by cooking large amounts of food (which has stood me in good stead ever since)  - and I had a great time.

All that to say, I have some experience to judge bread dough. But this bread is not like that bread and I was curious how it would turn out. I had enough starter to get 3 loaves going, and 2 will be ready in the morning. (I did 3 slightly different methods to see what works best. I put the other 2 in our "cold room"  - in a house this big there are a few of those). The first one I kept in our coolish kitchen all day and baked it this evening, intending it for dinner. I could tell it was a little too wet, so I thought I might have a just messy lesson on my hands, but it exceeded my expectations. It smelled and looked so good that Murray and I tore into it before dinner - and it tasted as good as it hinted it might.

It's actually a real sourdough bread - which I don't think was the intention of the original recipe but which I'm thrilled about. And tomorrow we'll see how the other 2 loaves turn out!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy New Year

I'm thumbs up on 2010 so far.

We had a great time in Vermont - Lelia got to come with us and Natty wanted to stay there forever. Something about the cool big kids, hilarious games, cutting edge drama and fun friends made the weekend her version of heaven.  We skied, sledded, ice skated and built snow forts. Oh, and talked, ate, drank, watched movies and read. Here's some documentation:

Home after a fun day sledding

Watching The Play (a strong New Years tradition), put on by Sage, Sierra, Sara and Luke

 Ice skating!

Both children are sledding with me in this action shot -
 here's Sam....

One of my amazing friends is calling 2010 "The Year of Change" and while it's truly her YOC, I'm going to tap into a bit of that energy and enjoy what the new year has to offer.

There have already been some positive changes: I've partnered with a friend to swap babysitting/running a few days a week. This harkens back to Cordova days when my dear friend Julie, who is very organized and reliable, talked me into doing the same thing. Knowing that she was counting on me made me go to her house and run even when I really, really didn't feel like it. And it was always the right thing to do. Now I'm using her good influence to affect a similar positive situation.

Murray and I went out for dinner, just us, tonight. Cheaper and more fun than marriage counseling.

I found out that hot chocolate and Baileys knocks me out. Especially after working half the night. I don't know if this qualifies as "positive" or "a change" but it sure was funny! I was soooo tired the other day after a early (3 am) morning shift and, intending to use the fresh air to wake me up, rallied the kids to get outside for a walk with a bribe of hot chocolate when we came in . And, honestly, I don't like hot chocolate. Too sweet. But hot chocolate with Baileys? Worth a try. (It was 3 pm, after all).
Well, well, well - it was yummy enough that I drank it up. And immediately started falling asleep, standing up in the kitchen. I was able to turn on a movie for Natty and put Sam in his crib before I crawled into bed, fully dressed. Sam stood in his crib at the foot of our bed and whirred and chirped at me for about an hour until I woke up. (he's in the R2D2 phase of communication - it's cute if incomprehensible). Lesson learned.

I'm sure the new year will bring many more lessons - here's hoping your life lessons of 2010 are good ones.