30 days

We have an exciting 30 days ahead of us. My parents, siblings, in-laws, and niece are headed to Greece to travel on a boat together and bicycle for eight days. Before we meet up with them, Joe and I have planned a far too brief four day trip to Rome with the girls.

My parents planned many family trips when I was a kid/young teen. Two extended motorhome trips with six kids, a Switzerland bike and train trip (with all seven kids and a buddy friend for my disenchanted teen brother), annual winter week-long vacations that centered exclusively around the beach and the pool with zero tourism goals unless you count leaving for the closest fish shack every night.

My dad’s company had reward trips that my parents often advocated to take us on as well. Months in advance, the company would send a guidebook to whatever location had been chosen. I would grab it off my mom’s desk and read through the whole thing–an early sign of my deeply held love of researching beforehand!

As a mom, I know now that travel is testing, expensive, and exhausting, yet manages to change your perspective on everything.

And all of my siblings travel what seems like constantly. The three in California go on stunning weekend road trips in that way that is so easy in California. Another two are “based” in Africa which really means they fly internationally almost every month, and the one in New York City has the flexibility to head off on festive jaunts throughout the year.

I’m really looking forward to this trip with them which has all the activity and adventure built in, but will allow for tons of together time as well.

Anyway, all this planning made me want to post these photos of magical Northern California from back in March!

I went with my mom, my mom’s sister Anne, my brother who lives in Los Angeles, my brother who lives in San Francisco and my sister Joanie. Joe watched the girls at home for three days. It flew by in a whirl of wine tasting, delicious food and absolutely stunning scenery.

The roads were edged with plants that I only see in greenhouses here, enormous versions of something I typically see in miniature. It felt like every square mile—even people’s front yards—were planted with vineyards. 

Along the road I noticed a little sign that said Our Moon Still Shines.

Even from Boston (especially if you follow the wonderful (Hither & Thither), one can easily establish that Scribe Winery has an amazing following and is a beautiful place to visit. Joanie knew that they had recently renovated an antique Hacienda on the property and now reserve it for seated tastings with food. The food is served family style in generous bowls, and the tables are far enough apart to allow for easy conversation.

The gardens, house and property glowed with winter desert color: silt, sand, clay, cobbles.

My sister planned the trip, riffing on trips she’d previously taken for ideas, though it sounded very difficult to decide where to go! So many beautiful places. She hired Peter as a driver for the six of us. Of course a driver is very wise to have when tasting wine, but it also makes for an entirely different experience. It was such a luxury to climb back in the car and stare out the window as we went place to place. As a mom I rarely get that tuned-out gazing-out backseat experience that childhood was full of. He was also able to riff on what we wanted, if we needed takeout, a grocery stop, or wanted to grab coffee, he could incorporate it easily on the fly for us.

After Scribe we drove back through the small town of Sonoma and stopped at the lovely wine tasting room of Kamen. We only had about a half an hour, so we split several tastings among ourselves. They were lovely to chat with and the wines were delicious.

Then we headed to Hamel Family Wines, where the tour began with a walk through their gorgeous fields. They have a stunning build-out, clearly one for future generations to enjoy.

On the way home we called ahead and picked up Mexican from El Molino Central.  Delicious seasonal tacos and mole with homemade tortillas, served out of a cheerful cafe on the side of the road in Sonoma. We brought our dinner back at the rental home, sharing a bottle we’d bought that day. The time change was finally catching up with me and I went to bed early!

The next morning, first up was Ashes & Diamonds. On a flat stretch of Napa, just off the main road highway 29, they’ve a styled tasting room and a fleet of wines to match. With their sumptuous green velvet, brilliant yellow paint, and an abundance of the Saarinen chairs, it felt like Hollywood flew in for a styling.

Perhaps my favorite trip photo: this yellow, this brother. ^^

At Ashes & Diamonds, we discussed how the land restrictions to qualify as a winery have changed over the years—from 100 acres, to 60, and now to only 10–which I found fascinating. I really enjoyed seeing this place and imagining the possibilities of a younger generation deciding to invest here.

There were many things that seemed repeat thematically no matter where we tasted, so much so that when I left they were still playing in my mind…

For one thing, everyone was using the Coravin method of opening bottles. It looked intense and gadget-y in the otherwise tranquil wine tasting space. It has thin medical grade needle that goes through the cork, allows you to remove a tiny amount of wine, and replaces the space in the bottle with argon gas. I had never seen it before in my life. But the pourers said it could preserve an open bottle of wine for up to a month. I love to have a glass of wine while cooking but am often reluctant to open a new bottle knowing I won’t be finishing it. However, the price tag is $250. 

Second, everyone was using Heath ceramics. These ceramic dishes seemed to have their own thermal mass that made the food look delicious, no matter what it was. 

Third, biodynamic. I was intrigued to hear many vineyards dropping this as a term as something they pursued. Biodynamic is a theory developed by the same person who came up with the Waldorf method of eduction: Rudolf Steiner. Isn’t that fascinating? Like many of his theories, it’s more of an overarching approach with a few oddly specific things—must have a goat, must let the clipped vines rot alongside the plants, let wild plants grow up among the vines. Funny to think how quirky yet persuasive ideas have staying power. 

I brought home bread from the amazing Costeaux bakery, local butter, grape sized dates from the farmer’s market and of course, wine.

mother’s day gift guide

an annual review with detailed notes about all the progress that’s been made

frozen lemonade concentrate for the freezer because she can’t seem to find it at the normal grocery store anymore

gratitude cardigan 

everyone’s nails trimmed

ticks eradicated from earth

wisdom earrings that whisper lucid answers to science questions

the assurance she will never forget the way their arms feel around her neck

a Taj Mahal of patience

Gandalf sense of where things are going

 

breakfast out

I’ve started getting one of the two older girls out for one-on-one breakfasts every other week. I whisper her awake and we sneak out in the morning before anyone else wakes up. Quietly close the door and head down the sidewalk to a chocolate chip pancake pillage (Lux), a modest plate of bacon (Joan).

The tenor is totally different and I can sense the girls soaking up the luxury of it. I can push Joan in the stroller if she doesn’t want to walk. I can let Lux set the pace on her scooter. We fit at a small table. They can order silly sugary drinks like chocolate milk. Our meals are quiet with spontaneous conversation that peters out and redirects easily.

She was soo good, the heady brunch crowd swilling mimosa pitchers cooed to Joan as we left. Joan looked baffled. It was a date, what was there to do but sit and talk?

My mom was really good about getting us kids out on one-on-one dining adventures, typically framed by errands. She adhered to a strict one child per week schedule. I could track the approach of my week four or five weeks out depending on how many siblings were in the circuit that year. I remember ordering an orange cream cooler, dominating the conversation and saying everything I wanted to say all at one time (my older brother remembers this as well).

In the summertime, there was a northern lake town with a bed and breakfast she would sneak us out to in the early morning. The woman who ran the place never printed a menu, instead she recited it as it was very simply whatever her husband wanted to make that morning. It was special for those one or two of us, and the others didn’t even notice we were missed. Perhaps they didn’t even realize we left at all, until it was their turn to be whispered awake.

 

 

“Yes but even 4 business men can’t poison God’s sunlight.” –ee cummings

This weekend I put the girls in the car after a full day of school and after-school mild weather frolicking (ice cream, winter grass). We were driving to Brooklyn, I had preloaded all of their ipads for the five hour drive, and packed a lot of hardboiled eggs and dried seaweed snacks. Joe had a weekend in New Hampshire planned and I was up for the adventure.

My recent favorite ipad discovery is that Youtube allows you to download any video for off-wifi viewing. Lux adores all of the TedEd videos so hers was full of those. I like to put a medley of Joan’s interests at age 4.5 on hers, so she had:

  1. Joseph’s Machines
  2. Giant Pandas 101
  3. My Mom is an Airplane
  4. Jonathan’s Blue World episodes
  5. A dog and woman dancing at a dog show
  6. Grace Lehane playing to the cattle in Kilmichael Cork

Alma has an ipad as well. At age 2, it is a close to useless as it gets, mostly frustrating her and making her grouchier than she would be if she were just looking out the window. I give her the oldest one we have anyway because I do nearly everything 3×3.

We went to see my brother and his girlfriend who live in Williamsburg and another brother of mine who is soon moving to Crown Heights with his family. We stayed together in an old brownstone that was gorgeously antique, if a bit oddly laid out. Because we stayed together, we could still enjoy vacation things like letting the girls sleep in while my sister-in-law and I talked quietly in the kitchen, or putting them to bed and sharing a bottle of wine in the middle room late into the evening. While in town the girls and I finished reading these kid-friendly biographies on two amazing women that I had brought along: Elizabeth Blackwell and Rachel Carson.

Walking around Prospect Heights and Crown Heights I was a little in awe. It was the first sunny day in a long time (I saw someone on Instagram call it the great thawing of Brooklyn) and there was liveliness everywhere. The sidewalks were so wide, the coffeeshops were so cute, the bagels were so chewy. There were artists painting murals around construction sites and the playgrounds were full of happy kids sharing swings. There was giant line outside the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (always nice to see an epic brunch line outside of a garden).

Despite all the things you already know about New York from the movies, the cliches, the postcards, it still strikes you, and you’re tempted to murmur to yourself the greatest city in the world. At the same time, I’m still stunned that my brother has made his life there for the past seven years, and that now another of my siblings will live there.

Traveling with the girls alongside my brother who doesn’t have children and my other brother who has a well mannered two year old, I was reminded of how kid-centric I allow our days to be in Boston. The girls were slightly affronted when the entire itinerary wasn’t about what they wanted, and downright shocked when I was clearly more interested in adult conversation than their insights about the sidewalk. Although it works well for us at home in general, I would like to be more candid with them about how many things in which they are simply along for the ride. My and their understanding of how this should look is certainly a work in progress.

On our way home on Sunday it was blustery and cold again, but we stopped for a house salad and pizza at Grace Farms anyway. It is such a beautiful and unique spot, I love to see it in all weather conditions.

 

April at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

A museum with a century-old tradition of cascading twenty-foot long trails of edible flowers to celebrate spring (and April birthdays) beckoned us out this morning. There were some claims from the children that “another museum would be no good” and was a terrible idea, but I believe even they were wooed in the end. The fact that the palazzo style building is labeled Palace in all the museum’s posted signage got their attention as well.

We stumbled into some sort of national college-kid-visit-a-museum day which resulted in crowds, and cookies in the greenhouse, delightful.

There are lots of old treasures in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum but shambling around the central courtyard to see the flowers from all directions was the treat for us today. The nasturtiums were eagerly reaching toward the sky, their petite circular leaves like lily pads, and the courtyard was filled with flowers of all sorts to match their cheer. The horticultural staff begins growing the flowers nine months earlier, and manage to cajole them into thinking it’s summer, for Boston’s great benefit.

The casual, lived-in way that art is displayed at the ISG make it one of the more un-child friendly museums in Boston–because museum staff clearly worry a lot about their relics getting touched, and make that known to parents frequently. Having once owned a few nice things myself, back in the day, I relate to their reaction.

Therefore, it’s not at the top of my list of places to for families to visit in Boston, but in the month of April, I think it is! And keep in mind if you are local, you can likely get a discounted pass through your library. The restaurant is delicious, be sure to put your name in as soon as you arrive.

Two by two

We knew upfront that Easter and April Fools would fall on the same day. I was secretly pleased that April Fools was so easily superseded by Easter. April is my birthday month, an elegant spring month that contains snow, rain, mud, and sunshine. It is a unique month, as months go, and beginning it with a Fools day belittles it.

So we knew those two were paired together, but I don’t know if we realized that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day would then also be the same day until a few weeks before when I asked our babysitter to come that evening so we could go to the service and dinner, how luxurious. A babysitter, an evening service sitting next to each other in the pew, then the train to Thai food. During our meal, where we were seated next to a bright aquarium of fish, there was a birthday song for one of the diners that night. For the song the restaurant dimmed the lights, flipped on hidden flashing disco lights all around the room, blasted a pop version of the song, and circled the table with clapping waiters. All of this happened within 30 seconds and then the lights returned to a dim romantic glow and I could just make out the finger smudge of ashes on Joe’s forehead.

And we couldn’t have known that the March for Our Lives would take place the day before Palm Sunday, a day that recalls a march-cum-parade that celebrated Jesus but  also eerily confirmed his death soon to come. As re-creators of this parade–at church we each hold slim palm branches and wander outside singing hymns–one experiences the enthusiasm of crowd spirit and the sickening feeling of the doom to come.

And a March to draw attention to the constant threat of gun violence, to the way a seven-year-old quietly told me the only things she was nervous about with her new school in a new state were “the shootings,” an ebullient morning of group zeitgeist that only happened because people died…well, the parallels were there.

In Boston, the March for Our Lives ended on a muddy hill. Though respectfully a movement of the young, many old people were at the March, even old enough to have canes and walkers, creeping slowly up the hill and standing on the edge of the mud with their signs like, It’s Harder to Adopt a Puppy.

The speakers were young and we couldn’t make out their words from where we stood, but we could hear the screech of their voices, rising in anger and shout here and there, which made them seem all the younger. I realized I hadn’t heard from an inexperienced speaker in a long time. Vulnerable has been a feeling present from the beginning–vulnerable at school, vulnerable on Twitter and in responding to the verbal attacks of adults questioning their character and motives, vulnerable in their emotions and hopes.

I absentmindedly made a palm cross from the palms in church, folding the still fresh palm into corners, then folding them again. I handed the finished cross to one daughter, and another whispered please make me one while I’m at children’s sermon. I am not the fine handcrafter of the family; they don’t ask me to draw things for them or cut straight lines, though dirty dishes, dirty clothes, tattered books in need of a sling of tape are often left in my hand. I felt honored by the request.

a night away

A few photos from our cozy stay-away in February. The Lenox Hotel offered to host us for one night of vacation week. We had so much fun with it! In the winter it is so easy to get stuck inside and stare at your own walls a little too much.

I had never been to The Lenox, never had reason to stay before, but I felt that it was an ideal hotel for visiting the city. There was an intimate feeling to it, plentiful free coffee in the lobby in the morning, chocolate on the turned down beds in the evening (a lost art in hotels these days), excellent location, friendly staff and quite affordable.

The escapism of the night worked better than I imagined. I packed toothbrushes and pajamas in the bottom of the stroller and we took the train over. “I just love the green line,” Lux sighed as we walked. I do too.

The Lenox is neighbors to one of our favorite buildings in the city: The Copley Square location of the Boston Public Library. It is also several blocks away from the downtown Flour bakery, the Pru (which now has Anna’s Taqueria, Sweetgreen, and dig inn, not to mention Eately), the Apple store, and in the summer, the Copley Farmer’s Market. So it’s an ideal location for visitors to the city.

And directly next door is the Lindt chocolate shop which offers free samples to anyone who walks in, including your kids! Gourmet milk chocolate, as Joe refers to their delicious line up (though they carry amazing dark chocolate as well).

The girls dug into snacks and jumping on the bed, as one does. We requested one of their fireplace rooms, a novelty I just could not get over: a fireplace in a hotel! You do have to defer to a bellman to build the fire for you for safety reasons. They reassured us not to worry about rebuilding it. We called down several times for more wood, and it wasn’t an issue at all.

I had packed a folder of stationary to catch up on a few letters, including ones to the international buddies that we sponsor through Compassion (been meaning to post about these; a favorite way to expand global thinking with my kids and myself) and got to work on them. Selecting one task from my overflowing to-do drawer and bringing it with me always works well.

I had also packed a wine bottle opener for that evening and sandwiches so we could do an easy dinner in the hotel.

After Joe biked over from work we headed to the Pru for an after dinner Pinkberry snack. Once home, we brushed teeth, dimmed the lights, and Joe and I set up reading lights, wine, and pulled chairs around the fire. It was bliss!

Waking up without the immediate, “Mama, I neeed cereal!” which is Alma’s rooster crow, was a refreshing change. I ran across the street for Dunkin Donut breakfast sandwiches and bagels. After Joe headed to work on his bike, the girls and I packed up the stroller and headed to the Library for a couple hours and then headed home. Thanks Lenox, we so enjoyed!

the help you intended

We are on our third round of colds, and I’ve got two gardening books (an organic gardening classic and a friendly kid-project one) out from the library to plot for our tiny patio garden this summer. I want to have an edible flower basket, a line of sweet peas on trellis, and tub of new potatoes, and string beans. My next step is to sketch a floor plan and make a list of what I need to buy.

I also need to find a really, really, classy inflatable pool.

On Sunday Lux and I appeared at one of the occasional outreaches of our church. I’ve been meaning to go, but the weekend never seemed to work (on the gravestone for many of my hopeful participations: it just didn’t quite work).

As a matter of fact, outreach at an Episcopal church with an urban professional congregation can be hard to muster. The church services themselves take 6-10 people to run, relying on a heavy volunteer force. Then there are weekly Sunday coffee hours, with food provided by four parishioners for each of the two major services. There is also a loyal crew that prepares, serves, and cleans up after a weekly three course meal for the homeless. For the outreach needs that simply crop up in an urban parish–arguably the most important part–one is recruiting from an already over-committed and largely overworked (though ironically very successful) crowd. 

The program is a twenty-two-year-old weekly, rain snow or shine, outdoor church for the homeless, the “housed and unhoused.” They gather at an open plaza around a fountain in front of the capital building on Sunday mornings. They serve lunch beforehand, but they call it coffee hour so as not to place too much weight on the food element—simply letting the food nourish and then moving right along into the service.

The director reminded me of a New Hampshire hiker-turned-priest. She had a thermometer toggle on her backpack that jangled alongside her long braid. She pointed out that the mild cold of that Sunday was worse than the extreme cold of another day because it was a cold that crept up on you. She pointed out that waiting when you are traumatized can induce anxiety. She emphasized that we only set up the food a few minutes beforehand so not too much time is spent waiting in line. Those handing out food should be careful not to continue the paradigm of giver and receiver. Those handing out food should be greeting and smiling, nodding and saying certainly if someone wants more than one sandwich. Time would be left in between refills for those who wanted to approach the table without making human contact. 

I was thrilled to listen to these subtle directions mentioned with care. For a few moments it felt like training to be a valet at the Ritz. Lux listened to all of it with great attention and then whispered the order of the food to me as it should be set up: sandwiches, hot soup, popcorn, bananas.

She and I volunteered to cut and give out the sheet cake. Evaluating how many people came and how many sheet cakes we had, I cut really enormous square pieces. People asked for the pieces with yellow flowers, just like they do at birthday parties. Birthdays were an easy discussion topic. I’m turning 33 next month, one man announced. I am oldddd.

Me too! I said.

He frowned at me. You don’t look old.

You don’t look old either! I said.

As people in their thirties often say to each other.

Lux and I were really grateful to be part of this event, to step into it as participants and friendly faces. The delight of sharing this new experience together reminded me how difficult it is to find volunteer opportunities to do with your children. She didn’t want to leave my side, didn’t want to strike up her own conversations, but she was quietly observing how everyone interacted with each other, the physical disfigurements and disabilities that were taken in stride, the way an “uh huh” or “oh yes,” could smoothly breach an awkward conversation gap. It is both a hurdle and goal of mine to find more of these opportunities. 

I can’t get the UN write up of the visit to the United States out of my mind. You may read it and different painful elements may stand out to you. Infant and maternal mortality always stand out to me. Whenever I read that phrase, for a moment I have a flashback to waiting for a visiting nurse to come by my humid July apartment to check the infection on my c-section cut. It felt like a lot of work scheduling that nurse every couple days, whom my insurance paid for, being awake for it, answering the door, calling them back to find parking. This concept that somehow mothers make it through pregnancy, give birth and then die is baffling, infuriating, and yet totally imaginable. 

The slow debilitating effects of living with zero covered dental care stood out to me to me as well. If you read it, and then look at the Guardian’s photo essay accompaniment, you’ll see a man the same age as me whose teeth have completely rotted out.

“Poor oral hygiene and disfiguring dental profiles lead to unemployability in many jobs, being shunned in the community, and being unable to function effectively.”

I recall the period between getting married and being officially employed when Joe and I didn’t go to the dentist for several years. Naturally we both had cavities, many of them, when we finally went. It took $500, in addition to the insurance, to get us back into good shape. And we don’t drink soda. And we were in our 20s.

I don’t know, the whole thing left me feeling like it might be wiser to sponsor education and healthcare for children in the US rather than in Central America and Africa as I do. Reading the report, I realized later, brought on a horrifying I already knew this feeling. Nothing was really new to me, it was simply as bad as I had guessed it might be.

February break, here

winter_breakWe’re planning to stay in Boston for February break and I’m noting down the things to do with Lux at home and many other otherwise-weekly activities cancelled.

(I’ve also whiled away several hours looking at houses in Georgia O’Keeffe/Deborah Madison New Mexico. Coincidence?)

I foresee several luxuriously long library visits, at date night in, a hotel night out, a museum we would otherwise save for a weekend. A few of the things on my mind…

THE STAY SOMEWHERE ELSE AWAY

Downtown, the Lenox Hotel offers easy in-house activities for kids like Cookie & Paint night, movie night, or a crafting night. The Lenox is ideally located on the green line near the central Public Library, and a few stops from the MFA, both of which will also be offering special activities for the week. Interesting restaurants abound in this area, making it simple to stay indoors if the weather isn’t great. And do note they offer a few select rooms with working fireplaces! From $260 per night. The Lenox has offered us a free night stay in exchange for me sharing these facts, which we are totally taking advantage of. 

Boston public library copley

On Cape Cod, the Bayside resort schedules full days of activities for the whole week, including themed (free) breakfasts, scavenger hunts, bingo, movie nights, pizza nights and simultaneously scheduled parent’s happy hours. Plus, you’ll have the winter beaches to yourself. One night from $159 per night.

THE AMAZING OUTDOORS

The Highland Foundations sponsors totally free skating at the Boston Common Frog Pond.

New Hampshire Ice Castles: These are built new every year in New Hampshire from scratch and appear to be rather amazing. We’ve never been, but I’d love to take an afternoon to get up there. You can see photos here, and coordinate your visit with a fire show!

The Somerville Winter Market: every weekend on Saturdays, indoors, full of amazing food vendors!

MUSEUMS, YOUR FRIEND

The newly reopened Discovery Museum in Acton (about 40 minutes west of the city). This delightfully hands-on, low tech, and interactive museum could you keep your family busy all day.

**Giveaway now closed. The Museum is offering free admission for kids under 12 on March 3rd & 4th.

The Museum of Fine Arts places special kid-interactive crafting activities in galleries all around the museum. Often there are concerts and special guests as well. All of these activities are free with admission. Check their schedule posted online beforehand.

mfa dining

THE GREAT INDOORS, at home

Buy art supplies: I like to think of the money that would have been spent on the random dining out that happens on trips redirected to other things, like buying a new art supplies. Here are a few we love, and are currently out of; combine any of these with a leftover cereal box and I promise amazing things will come of it! Do-a-dots (two year olds love), pastels (particularly fun on black construction paper), shurtapegold leaf, twistable crayons. Gold leaf and pastels are both special supplies that require adults checking in every now and then. Always useful: this comprehensive list of the Eric Carle Museum Studio’s favorite kids art supplies.

winter_break

^^ This is a recycled chocolate wrapper, not gold leaf, but we’ve done similar activities with that fluttery gold multipurpose dazzle!

Handwriting hobby After a recent conversation with the first grade teachers, I realized significantly less time is made for handwriting practice in today’s school curriculum. Much more time is spent on writing and writing comprehension. This empowers them as writers (or it has, for Lux) but the actual technique gets left behind. So we are working on this habit at home! Paired with a yummy snack and cozy rug, it’s a great activity and all you need are some ruled papers, or order your own handwriting book.

Count the dice Another activity I’m borrowing from Lux’s classroom hints. The kids make charts with a column for each number from 1-12. Then you get two dice, roll them, and color in the box above the number you received, pass the dice to the next person. It’s the simplest thing, but it seems to be satisfying in those ways that adults love too–rolling dice, reading numbers, checking off boxes. It’s communal and fun to do around the table.

make your own

Making your own play dough has gotten a rap as trademark ultra-homemade-crowd, but really, it takes ten minutes and you get to pick the colors and end up with warm play dough. It lasts forever compared to the store bought stuff. I don’t use add spices but I do use the recipes that include coconut oil.

Pillow jump This is from the Waldorf crowd, best for toddlers up to age 3, but fun for all if you’re not worried about the downstairs neighbors. Take a step stool, put it in the middle of the floor. Surround with a big pile of pillows. Climb up, jump off. Repeat.

 My Holidays guide to Boston, some of these things still apply.

Anything special on your schedule for February?

notes from the snowstorm

Brought Alma downstairs by the light of 7am snowfall, found my family texting about crypto currencies. Stare in space wondering what could softly pop the bubble–bend the bubble?–so people like this gal could get their product out before everyone gets too jumpy. Alma hands me a book about water in which an octopus blows bubbles, hoses down the grass, and tears up–differing definitions of water.

The girls are still in vacation mode, entertaining themselves with their new legos sets–freed of instructions and loosed into bins–tromping outside for strictly ten minute periods before asking yet again to be loosed from the strictures of zippers and velcro, making hot coco much darker than mom would have, carefully clipping stickers and sorting them according to elaborate exchange rituals.

girls

Pulled out the last rounds of venison from the freezer because I underestimated our grocery needs, per usual (I was intrigued to hear about this venison cookbook because there is more coming to a freezer near me. I found it on Hoopla via the public library, hooray).

Put a pan of blondies in the oven, went for a walk by myself, a serious snow day perk. Skirted the roaring snowplows. Admired Joe’s work clearing the snow from our block. Stopped for an espresso at a shop that had opened, though left most of the lights off. Read by the dim light a nostalgic glossing speech of a retiring city councilor and the local rates for an overnight garage.

Peered at the bookshelf until I spotted Brother Andrew’s Practicing the Presence of God, put Alma in the bath and sat in the corner reading it. January for me is one of those months when I need monk thoughts from the 1600s.

pizza