Monday, March 26, 2007

Peaceful Children

She just got on the sofa and fell asleep. I didn't know that she could do that.

I love when I can get a non-blurry close up of Fiona. It got really hard to do after she was about 2 1/2 years old.


We've painted empty egg shells hanging from strings, which we'll hang on the apple tree outside. The snow is finally melting and the crocus is blooming. Daffodils are coming up and the deer are coming closer to the house (as evidenced by their prints--some are big!--and their poop. Hooray.) We have new birds at our feeders, too! It's very exciting.

I think the wasps are really gone, thanks to Orkin man. I hope they suffered.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tear-Water Tea

I love Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad series. So does Fiona. I rediscovered Owl at Home at a playgroup recently, but the big hit right now is Mouse Soup from the library. Fiona loves to read this out loud to anyone who happens to be walking by. I'd forgotten how much I loved these books and I think I probably read them until my parents had memorized them.

Freedom at War with Fear

Enemy, thy name is WASP!

I am so SICK of these damned vile creatures. I have referred to these stinging spawn of Satan here and here, but I may have even more prior posts about them.

Suffice it to say, they are no longer dropping out of the ceiling in the study (where we used to keep the computer, but we fled the study and now it's a storage room). Now they are in the BEDROOM. Where we ALL sleep. Where the kids take naps! It's not as bad as the study, but one is bad enough. Sometimes I see them in the upstairs hallway. Once in the upstairs bathroom.

Last night, Doug got stung while sleeping! No one has been stung before. I am so thankful that it wasn't one of the girls. Obviously, we're going to have to sleep somewhere else now. What kind of wasp is walking around at night anyway? I thought they slept.

I called the exterminator this morning. First of all, it seems really odd they are bothering us in March. Usually we stop seeing them in December or so, I believe.

I thought I could just have the ceiling fixed in the study, but obviously something more drastic needs to be done (and more expensive, I'm sure). At least replacing the windows in the attic. Hopefully, the exterminator can fix things and tell us what we need to do to prevent these wicked creatures from ever coming in the house again.

One almost misses the fire ants. Oh, our wasps don't actually look like this. They are darker. I have no idea what kind of wasp they are.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bacon is Good. Pork Chops are Good.

After Family Fun Day yesterday, we ventured into the tiny Coffee Corner for a spot of lunch. Lunch was pretty much Meat all around. Doug and I had blue cheese hamburgers, Fiona had a hamburger, and Sophia had chicken fingers. So we're chowing down (oh yes, there were the requisite french fries, too) and Fiona announces that she thinks killing animals is wrong. Now, we've discussed this before, "this" meaning what meat is and what it used to be. So Doug says, do you want to stop eating meat then? He asks this very sincerely. It's okay to not want to eat meat (and okay to want to eat it, in my humble opinion). She looks at her hamburger a minute. She then resumes eating it.

After grocery stopping today, I made the impulse decision to get doughnuts to have after lunch. It is Sunday, after all. I buy doughnuts maybe twice a year, if that--not counting those cute tiny fresh doughnuts we get when we pick apples and at the fair. Oh, and I make them sometimes. So apart from all that. I got 6 doughnuts because 12 was just ridiculous (right?). I reported on what flavors I got (3 chocolate glazed--for Doug and the kids, 2 jelly filled---for whomever, and 1 Boston creme--that's mine). I said I just wanted one doughnut. Fiona proclaimed, "Not me! I want all I can get!" I worry a little.

Yesterday, on a whim, we journeyed to the Vermont Flower Show. Wow! It was like walking into a magical--rather dark--forest. Lots of bulbs in bloom, moss, bushes, trees, and even lilacs! The smell was heavenly. There was lots of stuff for sale (and "homemade apple pie!" as Fiona nice to be able to read, isn't it?) and even a children's section. The model train layout was a big favorite with the girls and the Vermont Institute of Natural Science had a beautiful owl there that Fiona loved to gaze at.

We're having a Totoro revival around here. Totoro used to be a huge favorite of Fiona's at about age 2. Fiona still loves Totoro, but he's sort of an old well-worn love now. Sophia now adores Totoro. She will burst into the main Totoro song. Now we have technology in our car and we can listen to the whole soundtrack of Totoro at a touch. Fortunately, I like it, too.

No, Fiona's main love is either Cody (from The Rescuers Down Under) or unicorns. At Family Fun Day (Okay, is that not such a cheesy name? It hurts to write it out for some reason. But what else would one call it?) we managed to make our way into the face painting line (Fiona nearly changed her mind about it after we waited a while and it was finally nearly her turn, but I helped her out by saying she didn't have to get a--whatever she originally wanted...a rainbow perhaps?--but she could get a unicorn, and that completely changed things around). Fiona did indeed get a unicorn and Sophia sat still for a rainbow (she said "COLORS!" while making the sign for it). Sophia has been quite the canvas this weekend, because at playgroup the day before they inexplicably had face painting (not the usual play date offering) and she asked for a sun and a heart. Fiona and her unicorn and Sophia and her rainbow were gawked at by kids in the street and by kids at the flower show (who I overheard pestering their parents for a face painting, which I did not see at the show, uh, sorry about that!). Face painting seems to be very popular with kids. Normally we don't get one because whenever we go to places with such offerings, the line is incredibly long.

We don't really celebrate St. Patrick's day around here, but we seem to have both Irish Cream and Guinness in the house after our grocery trip. March is a good time of year for both. There are lots of great ways to cook with Guinness...Guinness is wonderful for sauces and baking and, of course, stew. I invarably drink it before I make it that far, though.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I Hate Daylight Savings

It's 3 weeks early this year, so Sunday morning we get to "spring ahead" one hour.

Hooray, more dark mornings! Losing an extra hour of sleep! What's not to like?

I think it's such a bother.

Restaurant Phoebe

My friend Alice and I had a lovely dinner, kvetching about the choice of schooling here, the dark cold winter, traveling with kids, the lot. We shared an appetizer of bruschetta: one eggplant with goat cheese, one oyster mushroom, and one tomato (You can probably tell I wasn't really paying attention, but they were all quite good). Alice had a pasta dish, something they were calling "panscotti"---a triangle ravioli filled with vegetables (I can't remember what, I didn't bring home a menu, and I didn't eat it). I had seared scallops with a potato leek cake and sauteed cabbage with this velvety vanilla sauce. We shared two desserts--something called "chocolate mousse creme brulee", which seemed to be a layer of vanilla custard, a layer of chocolate custard, and the really nicely done "brulee" crust. The other one was this disappointing apple crostata. The apple filling was nice, but the dough made up most of it and it was quite sandy and raw tasting. I couldn't even finish my portion of that. Oh well. I would go back, but I might go somewhere else for dessert. The service was warm and attentive...but not too attentive!

Today we're taking the kids to something in Montpelier called "Family Fun Day". Hopefully, it's not too chaotic.

There is a concern about flooding in Montpelier because of ice dams in the river (the Winooski) that runs through the city. There was a flood in 1992 that took everyone by surprise. The temperature is supposed to go up quite a bit this weekend (well, 40F) and there is a lot of snow.

One of the favorite play time activities lately is to play restaurant. Fiona asks me what I would like and she brings it out to me on a tray from the play kitchen. Sophia just starts bringing me random food items, but she will ask what I want to drink: "Juice?" (I say yes and drink it) "Water?" (repeat) "Juice?" She believes one should be well hydrated. Fiona will follow me around until I sign the check. She is the Chef and owner of the restaurant, and I am still her mother, but I don't live in the same state she does. Last time it was just that I was in Vermont and she was in New Hampshire. That's better than her being in Australia--she told me that I couldn't live there with her "because Australia is too scary".

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Sweet...Elusive...Taste of Liberty

Tonight I'm going with a friend to Restaurant Phoebe. I am so looking forward to it. Doug is graciously going to watch the girls, feed them, put them to bed (I know, he's the DAD, so of course he would, but it's a lot for one person to do. Trust me.)

I don't know if that is the actual menu on the web page, or only a sample. I suspect that isn't the exact menu. I will report back later on what we actually eat, of course.

Ellen Aim blogged about this heavenly sounding ice cream. She has eaten this, if you read her post. She lives in Texas. I live in VERMONT, home of Ben and Jerry's. So why can I not find this freaking ice cream? Every time I go to Shaw's, our regular main grocery store, which otherwise I find quite satisfactory--although it is no Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and definitely not a Central Market --I check the frozen food isle, only to be thwarted again and again! I have actually bought way more ice cream than I usually do this way. I suspect a conspiracy. After my date tonight, I am going to try a different (smaller) grocery store in my quest for the Colbert pint.

If we had broadcast TV--well, I suppose we'd have to have cable, too--I would be a dedicated viewer of the Colbert report and the Daily Show.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I Ask for So Little. Just Fear Me, Love Me, Do as I Say and I Will be Your Slave.

Doug got me this cookbook, which was sort of an impulse buy on my part. I had seen it earlier and pawed it affectionately. Later, I said, "If you ever wanted to buy book for me, buy me this". Being nice and subtle keeps our marriage strong.

Anyway, it's cute nifty little book. It does use rather a lot of half and half and cream and milk chocolate is definitely not a low fat book (although there are a couple of token soy milk recipes in there...which I have less than zero interest in). There is one simple recipe in there (well, not that any of them are *difficult* recipes, but this one is nice and elegant) of just milk chocolate and darjeeling tea. That's it. Okay, you can add milk or sugar, but I can't see how you would taste anything with more milk or more sugar. If you know me at all, you know I drink tea like (more than) water. It honestly never occured to me to add my eating chocolate to it. I forsee Earl Grey with orange dark chocolate in my future. I don't really drink a lot of hot chocolate, but I do love it, especially after being outside in the snow.

Which leads me to snowshoes! We took advantage of a big sale and bought the kids snowshoes. I would have done it much earlier this year but there was... no snow. Fiona took to it quickly (she told me she had some practice at school on a friend's) and Sophia even took a few steps in them. We had a nice little walk, but for most of it Fiona whined and whined about how tired she was and how long the trail was. I think we spent maybe half an hour outside. It was on the warm side that day as well. I am not sure if this means we don't go outside enough or what.

So addition to the copious ever-present whining on the 5 year old end, we have mounting tantrums that only seem to be increasing with intensity on the Sophia (2 years old) end. If she isn't screaming, Fiona is whining. If this were summer, we'd just go outside and run and swim it off. It is a lot harder right now because it's cold and there is frankly too much snow to go in the backyard. We sometimes go on the porch or driveway, but it's not quite the same. And nobody listens! Honestly, in a moment of exasperation with Sophia, I lamented, "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" (Do you speak German?--probably misspelled). For some reason, that got a laugh. Sometimes neither of them seems to understand English. Maybe I am drinking too much wine. Or Godiva liqueur.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Doug and I have been watching movies in the evening after the kids go to bed. Lately, we've been watching Full Metal Alchemist, a nice little bit of anime. We (I) like to watch the movie (and they are speaking English) with subtitles. I like to do this because it's pretty quiet and I want to make sure I hear all the words (it's quiet because we don't want to wake up the girls). With this show, what the characters are saying and what the subtitles say aren't always exactly the same. Usually, it's pretty much the same thing, said a different way, or close enough.

Last night, we saw one episode where this one woman character walks into this room full of tough guys. One guy says to her, "who the hell are you?" She says "I'm pissed!". The subtitle, however, says, "I'm a housewife!"

I have this friend, who is also a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), who never refers to herself as a "housewife": she says she did not marry a house. This is true.

I never know what to write as my occupation on the tax returns. I think I have been mostly writing "Mother". I really want to come up with some sort of smart ass job title, but I am never creative enough.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

In My Day,

We had ONE week-long school vacation after the Christmas holiday and it was spring break. These kids--these crazy New England kids--have a "winter break" to go along with the spring one with an additional two days off the following week to accommodate "town meeting" day. Winter break is this week. That is why we've been busy bees all morning long all week long. I, as their personal secretary, tried to assemble playdates throughout the vacation. Today's play date is a bust as we all got snowed in.

I should be outside now with them with those colored ice cubes I mentioned, but, well, um, it's cold out there! I'm cold sitting here in front of the computer! I am totally weak. I also made peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies yesterday, so mock me all you want as I sit here eating them (I did share with them and they are also watching Totoro, so not only are they not getting some healthy outdoor time, they are eating cookies filled with sugar and chocolate.). Good times.

Fiona has been reading (yes, reading out loud!) to Sophia more and more and I finally got a picture of that happening. Fiona has also been leaving several notes, letters and postcards for Sophia and I that say either: "I love you Mom. Love, Fiona" or "I love Sophia. Love, Fiona" with a picture of two people holding hands (one is big, one is small).

That Thing You Do

That white stuff is back. The birdhouse we had hanging from the apple tree fell a while back and was sitting nicely on the snow, which had a hard icy surface at the time. Now it is lost. There isn't even a mound to show where it was.

My goal today is to try to keep the kitchen table clean. Ok, the kitchen table right now is this round catering-type table we got a while ago when Doug was making Chinese food feasts for the Chinese New Year. Now it's our dining room table, except it's in the kitchen because our dining room is now a play room. I have totally lost count how many times I have cleaned this thing today and it's only 12:20 PM. First there was the initial cleaning, because I didn't make the kitchen spic and span the night before. Bite me. Then there was the post-breakfast clean-up (cereal and yogurt-and-granola). Then the post-second breakfast clean-up. Then the cookie clean up (we made snickerdoodles!). Then the birdhouse painting clean-up. Then the lunch clean-up (first lunch, yogurt-and-granola...the second will be pizza). Right now, the table is covered in playdough. Itty bitty tiny pieces of bright pink playdough are everywhere. Sophia keeps trying it, but actually spits it out. It's quite salty, you know?

Right, so the snow is back and the snow cave is long gone and buried. I guess it's time to make a new one. I made lots of colored ice thingys in different plastic containers so they can play with them outside (I did this a few weeks ago, actually, ahem). Maybe we'll do that this afternoon, b/c I can't do arts and crafts all day. I can happily read for an hour this afternoon and then...

And now I must inform you all that Henry, our 1994 blue Honda gone. All 200 million miles and rust. He had a cracked windshield and a back-out light out and...just a lot of freaking miles. I think we could have gotten a year or two more out of him, actually, but. We bought that car soon after we got engaged. Now Doug is the proud owner and driver of Harold, a blue 2007 Honda other words, the same car I have, but in blue. Henry has been through so much with us. It's sort of odd that he's just gone now. I know, it's a car, but what a great car he was. He drove from Texas to Florida, from Florida to North Carolina, from NC to Vermont...and then from Vermont to Texas and back again! Plus all those working communter miles (we only had one car between us until we moved into the current purple house). I used to think nothing of driving an hour to work (nor Doug for that matter). He even got bumped off a Texas highway by a moving company truck (Mayflower)---minimal damage to him and none to us. Thank you, Henry!