Up North

A few things I love from our time in the Traverse City area earlier this month. In the summer in Michigan everyone talks about going “up north” for vacation, even if it’s just a 30 minute or so drive north. I love possibilities in that phrase. Traverse City is a quick flight from Detroit, so it’s really quite easy for us to fly in from Boston. My parents have rented the same house for 17 years, so though it doesn’t feel like home, it does feel nostalgic and comfortable. I’m taking the girls back next week for just a little bit more vacation, lucky us!

gl1glen_havengltacosRoadside tacos, recommended by this fanatstic guide to the area on Megan Gilger’s blog.glboat_museumglpineconePine trees grow through the center of this ice cream spot.glevening

When Lux was four weeks old, we flew to Michigan as usual for my family’s vacation. There was some weird complication with my c-section healing up and the doctors told me I couldn’t swim to avoid further infection. Immediately it was the only thing I wanted to do. I could imagine the cold water enclosing around me as I dove down, my feet flipping halfway out of the water like dolphin fins. Being denied that freedom just that one time has made me so grateful for the opportunity to jump in ever since.

glen lakeglchocolatemy mom’s chocolate sauce on the stovetop in the eveningsglcake glcolorsglmorningsearly mornings with Joan, vastly improved by good coffeeglmixedMy brother and I went to see Chef at the Traverse City’s State Theatre on Free Popcorn Wednesdays. A cute foodie movie in a beautiful theatre, lovingly restored and volunteer-run!glpizzagldrinksThere are wonderfully casual wineries in the area to visit and more vineyards are being planted all the time (somewhat replacing the cherry tree orchards).glcherriesMy dad is obsessed with the ‘pizza bread’ from this market.glthefourth

 

 

the play mat

play_mat

Here’s an easy Montessori hack, no purchase necessary: the play mat. I’d read about this idea–a small rug or mat that the child knows is their go-to space for all toys and projects. It supposedly can inspire ownership of space, tidiness, and project completion. But with just the three of us kicking around, it seemed a bit restrictive to demand Lux use a mat constantly, and ultimately an unnecessary extra purchase.

Enter, troubled waters: Even though Lux stopped napping around 2.5 years, I quickly realized that we still needed an hour break in the afternoon. She was often refreshed after the hour, most of which she spent talking to herself and play acting. We pressed on with “quiet time” with some difficulty. Joan naps in the girls’ room which leaves our room for Lux, and I could tell she felt like a misfit in the space there. (I asked for ideas here, and you all gave some great ones!) Despite my enticing books-on-tapes and quiet-time-only library books, she resisted it and we quickly found ourselves arguing over it every day.

Enter, a solution: a crisp blanket like this quilt, freshly laid out in front of a table papered and set with colored pencils. This has been successfully designated as Lux’s “work station.” The official labeling and the act of setting it up every afternoon has helped ease her into quiet time! hoorah. I make a point to clean it up directly afterwards, and at other times in the day she will ask for “her work space.” So I think we’ll try rolling this thing out on demand next. Any of you using this technique?

wafers and things

wafers

+ I’m very refreshed from my vacation. I didn’t make dinner for two weeks! Thank you, Mom. And I hired a babysitter for three hours a week.

+I keep listening to this coffee song by Sylvan Esso. Reminds me of the first time I ever heard Feist, way back when.

+ I’m experiencing a Necco revival. Oddly satisfying with their dusty minty flavor.

+ Conde Nast Traveler has gotten so good since Pilar Guzman took over the editorship. I love paging through it each month. Totally worth the $12 subscription fee. Though opt-out of that crappy travel bag that comes with a subscription, if you can!

+ While on vacation in Michigan I was able to do some freelance copywriting. I’m going to spend most of that money on a case of interesting white wines to savor and enjoy in this muggy heat. One hobby supporting another hobby is my ideal scenario!

+ I used an amazon affiliate link for the first time when I wrote about that water pitcher we like so much. And I gotta say, it was very satisfying to see that 31 people bought it. Influence! People like my advice! Water pitchers in every kitchen across the nation!

 

 

Longest Shortest Time, continues

radio

I gave money to the kickstarter of the  Longest Shortest Time podcast awhile back, but I did not expect her forthcoming episodes to be so, so good. Rewriting your birth story? So important, so powerful. The one about a late term, stillborn birth? Possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard over headphones. I was weeping, obviously, but I’ve thought of that episode every time someone has mentioned a death to me since. It changed the way I thought about mourning. The one about how to talk to other moms without boasting? Kindly discusses a difficulty I brush up against every time I hang out with other moms. INTERVIEWS INA MAE AND COMPLAINS?? Amazing. Did not know that was possible in this life.

This is very cool stuff happening over there, in 30 minute increments. Well worth your time.

the water pitcher

water_pitcher_1

I’ve been experimenting with some Montessori things around the house. When I say Montessori, I mean keeping items that let Lux care for herself without asking for help. I have long practiced the belief that child-appropriate-things will just materialize in my life at the necessary time, and I’ve often leaned away from buying things outright. However, three years into this, I’ve finally realized that some useful things must be sought out and purchased. And if you can manage to get them immediately after you conclude that your child would enjoy them, they turn out to be the most satisfying for both of you.

Some of these Montessori-type things have really been a hit and some have just been so-so, and I’ll try to document them as we try them out. Anything I post here would be familiar to someone in the Montessori world; I don’t mean to pretend that I’ve discovered any of these nice ideas!

water_pitcher_2

First up: a hit. A 16oz glass pitcher, of satisfying weight, with a tight-fitting plastic top. I ordered one, and one day later, we concluded we needed two. One to sit on the table filled with water, waiting for a thirsty customer. Another filled with milk, sitting on an accessible shelf in the fridge, waiting for a starving toddler in the morning who has cereal and a bowl, but no milk.

The first night the pitcher arrived, I put it on the table with some glasses and Lux spent most of the meal asking us if we would like some more water and then solemnly pouring us half-glasses full. Joe and I were tossing water back just to keep up with our eager waiter. I felt she was 2x as engaged as usual and I had the aha moment-–time at the table for Lux is often an endless succession of requesting things and then waiting for her request to be filled. It was a treat to have her focused on what was happening and reversing the constant “I need” refrain.