Wednesday, March 20, 2019

SLOANE AND LOGAN THESE DAYS



Happy Spring! We've been waiting and waiting. After daylight savings, there has been that extra hour of daylight when we get home that has felt like magic, and we are all tingly for sunshine and fresh air.

I always include in these notes the cute and lovely things about the girls  that I want to remember, but I should also include here that I want to remember that this was also the time when Logan had a really hard time falling asleep (resulting in many a frustrating evening and exhausted and rushed morning), when the girls kept begging for more time before bedtime to play, and that sometimes the result of the girls getting so deep in play is that I have to repeat myself several times before they hear me.  But this was also the time when Logan wasn't waking up crying in the middle of the night anymore, she just always comes into our bed at some point so she can snuggle with me (which I love), and when the deep play of the girls always fills me with wonder and awe at their imagination and commitment.


Here are some things that Logan has said recently that made me laugh:

"Logan, you have to go sleep. Getting enough sleep will help your body grow."
"But, mom, I don’t want to grow up!"
"Why not?"
"Because I don’t know how to drive!!"

On the way home, I turned down a street that we don't usually go down.
"Mom, where are we?!....Africa??"

"Hey mom, can you hear of my body stretching? Can you hear it doing a long long stretch?"

"Mom, where is God?"
"He's everywhere."
"Is he under things?"

I asked her if she thought she looked like me or Ken (she said she looks like Ken and Sloane looks
like me). 

And then I asked "What about Rusty? Do you think Rusty looks like me or daddy?"
She gets an incredulous look on her face and says, “Moom, Rusty’s ears are not here (pointing to
the side of her head where her ears are), they are on top of his head!!"

Counting: “...7..8..9...hm but why does 9 come after 8?”

And her new thing now that she says when she doesn't want to do something is to loudly declare,
"I'M NEVER!"




Here are some gems from Sloane: 

The other day, the song "Faded" came on (by Alan Walker, the Tiesto remix) and I heard Sloane say
wistfully, "Oh, this reminds me of summer when I was little." (She's referring to two years ago when
we made a video using this song for our summer kick off video). 


Sloane is still winning all the awards for being the such a good big sister. I still marvel at how mature
and calm and reasonable she can be when trying to help Logan or talk her down from a near meltdown.
There was this one time we were playing "the song game", where I start playing a song and they have to
take turns guessing the name of the song, and I can't remember why but Logan started to get upset
about something, and I took a deep breath about to tell her to simmer down, and then Sloane came in
and started soothingly explaining the situation to Logan and providing a solution - all in a way that
was even better than I would have handled it. I was VERY impressed, and Logan was totally reassured
and calmed down. 


Similarly, I cut up peaches for the girls the other day and Logan got very upset that the peaches
had darker parts of the peach center (not the pit, but the parts around it) still attached to some of the
peach slices and started wailing about it. I said "too bad, go ahead and just eat it", she kept
refusing and I ignored her. A few minutes later I came back and she was eating it, because Sloane had

taken each one of her slices and bitten the darker parts off of it.

Sloane has a best friend at school, and the other day, she described a conflict to me and
how they worked it out.  I was proud of her for working it out, but also for opening up to me,
describing it to me so well and allowing me to ask her all the questions.  It felt like she was so much

older than six.
Sloane's favorite sandwich these days is cucumber slices, ham or turkey and some sort of mayo
(or better yet, jajik!). She likes it so much that we call it a "Sloanie sandwich"! 


I had such a good time reading L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" with her a few weeks
ago.  Diving into a story like that together with her is my favorite. 


I heard Sloane "playing" the ukelele and singing a made-up song and I went to go check it out. She
had set up a little chair with some baskets around her, and was telling Logan she could put money in
the basket while she played. She then said that she was poor so Logan should probably take her out
to dinner. 


This morning Ken was trying to wake her up (yes, we have to wake them up every morning,
and they are so sleepy when we do...it's very sad) and said, "Come on Koala bear, get up!"
And she said, "You know koala bears sleep for a long time, right? .....so you can just let me sleep!"



These series of photos was their idea. This is them being "serious". 


This is their "happy". 


This is their "fancy". 


And this is their "silly". 





Where did she get poses like this?? 

Friday, March 15, 2019

FRIDAY LINKS



Happy almost-spring Friday! It's been a while since I've done one of these post full of links, but I have some good stuff I want to share, so here they are:

1. I want to make this maple syrup pie this weekend because 1) it looks delicious, and 2) I have all the ingredients I need for this already at home. It reminds me of Four and Twenty Blackbird's Salty Honey Pie, which I love and have made several times. I'm dubious about how there is no cornstarch or cornmeal in the filling to hold it all together, so I might take a note from this recipe and add some in.

2. If you didn't know, Ken and I have a podcast called Living with the Moons. You can go to the website to see our topics, our guests, and even listen to the episode through the website. You can also find us on iTunes and Spotify as well!

3. I've started Toni Morrison's "The Source of Self-Regard" and it is so good, delicious and nutritious, I'm savoring it as such.  This review in the NYTimes about the book is also lovely.

4. Speaking of books, I was thinking to myself the other day that a great idea for a book would be a compilation of good books from each country or culture, and then I did some googling and found this amazing list.

5. I've been wearing down my work pants, and while I will probably go hunting for some more at my local thrift stores, I am also eyeballing one of these to try.

6. And if I were the type of person to wear a watch, I might wear something like this.

7. I'm subscribed to receive Mark Bittman's newsletters via email and I have been really enjoying them. Lots of good recipes, ideas and articles about food and cooking, like this one about how to get good at cooking. (Basically, just keep doing it!)

8.  The girls and I (well, just mostly Sloane and I, while Logan came in and out) read  L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book together last week to get ready for watching the play this weekend (!) and it was so good. I had never read it before (I had only watched the Judy Garland movie version) and so I got to experience it for the first time as well.  It was especially sweet to read the version that was illustrated by Robert Ingpen. I was gifted the version of "The Wind in the Willow" that was illustrated by him as well and we all love the pictures in that one.  I went to his website and saw that he did a bunch of other ones, that I can't wait to check out.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

WHAT I'M READING V. 45





1. The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

I vaguely remember reading this one a while ago but as I started to read, it felt new (should I be concerned with how I often can't remember books I've read? Thus, the logging of books here on this blog...). Regardless, there are so many good nuggets in there, that it's one that needs to be re-read on a regular basis, even if it's just to remember how limited we are by the word "love" in the English language in its everyday uses.  He goes through the different types of love: storge (affection), philia (friendship), eros (sexual), and agape (God's love), which was very helpful, especially because I was pointed in this direction from reading the chapter on love in Karen Swallow Prior's "On Reading Well".

2. The Million-Dollar Dime by R. Scot Rodin 

This is a book that I got from work - one of our partners gave a copy to everyone - and it's a short "novelette" that tells a story to illustrate the freedom that can be found in really believing that everything we have belongs to God. This book dovetails with the North Point messages that we have been watching on the series called "Money Talks", which has caused me to think hard about the way I approach money, and have led to some important discussions between me and Ken.

3.  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I was delighted when I learned this was last month's book club pick because I used to love reading Agatha Christie, and it had been a long time since I had read one of her books. As soon as I began the book, I remembered why I love her books - the writing is so precise and delicious, and this one in particular was so funny. And then of course the mystery. However, when I finished reading this one I threw down the book in frustration because I didn't like what she did with the ending at all! I don't want to spoil the ending for you, but if you've read it or end up reading it, let me know what you think. 

4. And Then There Were None 

I asked on IG about people's favorite Agatha Christie, and when this one was offered up, I went in search of it, found that the audiobook was available and consumed it in one big gulp. It's a marvelous piece of mystery writing, with a full cast of characters that get killed off one by one trapped on an island, and keeps you guessing the entire time. It is truly creepy and held me in suspense and I couldn't wait to find out how she was going to wrap this one up.  The possibilities were many, and the ending was as satisfying as it could have been for such a plot. (Afterwards, I speculated about how I might have spinned it in different ways!)


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

HELLO GUEST ROOM: GOODBYE PLAYROOM


A house-related update! The plan was to go through and do posts for all the rooms in the house, but it's been a very gradual process so they come when they come. So far, I've posted about the kitchen, master bedroom, bar room, girl's bedroom (although I need to do an update on this one too) and the playroom...which is what has been transformed here. We loved the playroom, but more and more I found the girls would play in their bedroom and then we needed the extra guest space, thus, the update. 

As a reminder, this is what it looked like before when it was the playroom:


I posted about it here, which was the first iteration of the room, and then we made some additions and alterations that I didn't document, but here is an additional photo of one of the corners with a craigslist drawer and baby Lola!

                             

And now.....



So different! It's not quite done because I would like to eventually add curtains and change out the light fixture here, but it's almost there and it is super cozy.  We've already housed many a guest here, and I really like how it turned out as a guest room, especially since this is actually a really small room.

I switched the rugs between this room and the girls' bedroom, we got this nifty bedframe from Amazon and then most of the other items here are thrifted from Craigslist or Goodwill.



I put the dresser in the closet space, along with a bar that holds empty hangers for guests to use.


Should I paint that chalkboard wall back to white? I'm thinking about it.  Although I still love it and we still use it occasionally.  Plus, I sort of like the look of the dark wall as contrast. Maybe I'll add some art to the top of this wall to give the room more texture and dimension? 


Chairs are SO expensive and finding a comfy reading chair has been top priority for months now. I found this one that fit all my criteria for $40, and I like to read it in sometimes.


I really love those prints of the ships that are above the bed. I found them at antique mall in Columbus, OH and they were the inspiration for the whole room. I also found that little desk on craigslist for $10 and it fit perfectly here to function as both a nightstand and desk. 


This was fun, I'm motivated to keep these going. I have posts about the sitting room and dining room coming up eventually! 


Monday, March 11, 2019

WHAT I'M READING V. 44




1. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

I think I saw this recommended by Sherry of Young House Love, when she said this is a book she has re-read several times over the years, and I was compelled by the subtitle, "using the extraordinary power of less to raise calmer, happier, and more secure kids" to read it immediately. It has great tips and suggestions, as well as reasons why to simplify, and while many of them I already knew of and try to practice already, it was wonderful to get that affirmation and gain further insight into why it is so important to parent (and live!) in this way.

2. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

This is another one that was recommended to me, and I had never heard of the title or author before.  The book is set in the 1930's during the height of the Mexican anti-clerical purge, and is indeed a parable of the dualities within us; full of the despair and worst parts of human nature, but also the redemption. The writing is remarkable, vivid, and the scenes roll out like a play. It reminded me in ways of Endo's "Silence" and has provided for many thoughts and conversation thereafter.

3. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 

This was a short "read" (which I listened to on audiobook) and found it fascinating, a little disconcerting and unique in tone.  It's about a woman who is very content working at a convenience store and does not understand why the societal pressures of progressing in career or getting married an having a family should apply to her.  The book seems like a commentary on social norms and conformist culture; while it doesn't necessarily declare a philosophy either way, it notes the peculiarities of it from the point of view from a rather detached narrator, who has a different set of values and norms.

4. Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

I listened to this one via Hoopla  - and found it to be such a delight. I didn't know what to expect, but it is basically an ode to Ginsburg, based on some history and interviews over time.  I only had a vague sense of who she was (one of the female justices of the Supreme court) and that she was more in the public eye recently (there were two movies made about her last year!) but didn't know much else, so I really enjoyed learning.  For one, I didn't know how instrumental she was in women's rights over the past 50 years, and found her determination, passion and strategies over her career to be so inspirational.  I found her story especially compelling as a working mom, who like all other working moms, had to figure out a balance and forge this path for herself as well as for her kids.  I really liked one of the appendices, that was titled, "How to be like RBG".  It attempted to summarize her philosophy in a list form, which is not the best format necessarily, but I found it helpful enough that I transcribed it and will include it here: 

How to be like RBG
1. Work hard for what you believe in. 
2. ....but pick your battles. (anger, resentment, envy - these are emotions that just zap your energy. they aren't productive and don't get you any place, so get over it.)
3. To be like RBG in dissent, save your public anger for when there's lots at stake and you've tried everything else. 
4. ....and don't burn your bridges. Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you. Paint the other side's arguments in the best light, avoiding personal insults. She is painstaking in presenting facts, on the theory that the truth is weapon enough. 
5. Don't be afraid to take charge. 
6. Think about what you want and then do the work! Do I want this or not? If I do, I'll do it. 
7. Enjoy what makes you happy. 
8. Bring along your crew. 
9. Have a sense of humor. A little goes a long way. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

BRAINLESS CROWD PLEASERS ("BCP")




 I'm always curious about what other families are eating on a day-to-day basis.  As someone who loves food, trying new things, but also as a parent who needs to put food on the table three times a day (I'm counting packed lunches here), wants to introduce my kids to good food and nutritional habits, AND also very interested in doing it all on a budget, this is a hot topic.  Another element to add to this is having people over for meals, which we have been doing a lot of, but I'll muse upon on that on a separate post.  For this one, I'm going to focus on the meals that we eat on a regular basis during the week and focus specifically on dinner because that's where most of my energy goes.  For breakfast, I do either one of two things: make a bulk sized version of a thing - egg muffins, shashkuotash, some sort of scramble - and we eat it for several days, or I am grabbing bits and pieces from the fridge to put on a plate and call it breakfast (cut-up fruit or vegetables, dollop of yogurt, cheese, hard-boiled or fried egg, piece of toast, a bit of ham or salami etc.). For lunch, we either pack leftovers from dinner, or I do a similar thing of charcuterie-esque eating, with an occasional sandwich (Sloane's favorite being: bread, hummus, mayo or jajik, ham or turkey, and sliced cucumbers).


There are lots of meal planning guides out there, but the one that most recently resonated and stuck with me is the idea of making a list of Brainless Crowd Pleasers ("BCP"), which I got from The Lazy Genius, a podcast that wants to "help you be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't." I think it was Lisa who told me about this podcast at first, and this post is inspired by Lisa's own list!

This is how Kendra (of The Lazy Genius podcast) describes BCPs:  "Brainless crowdpleasers are recipes that don’t require much brain power from you as the cook and generally please the crowd you’re feeding. This isn’t block party crowd or church small group crowd. It’s just you or you and your nuclear family, the people generally around your table. And crowdpleasing doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is throwing a party and it’s the most delicious thing ever. Everyone is just generally pleased. Small expectations. Little to no complaining. Don’t go for the gold every time. Your list of brainless crowdpleasers could be five things, and it could be 25. You might be surprised at how many you have actually! I listed some of mine in the last episode, but include convenience foods in your list like frozen pizza and Trader Joe’s mandarin chicken. Include recipes that feel like they’re not even worth writing down like spaghetti and hot dogs. Don’t necessarily assume that your list will look like everyone else’s. One meal that’s so easy if you know how to cook it is a quickly sautéed piece of salmon over rice and spinach. Delicious with a dash of sesame oil, and if you have rice made or already cooked in the freezer, you can have that meal in ten minutes. So brainless crowdpleasers don’t have to necessarily by all brown foods or all cheap foods or all foods you find on a restaurant kids menu. Those things belong, too, but keep an open mind." (You can listen to the whole episode by going to episode #76).



After hearing the episode, I immediately made my own list and 1) was surprised to find how many went on there, as Kendra predicted, and 2) found it to be a very useful resource to fall back on when I was trying to brainstorm meals for the weak.  Then I saw Lisa post about her BCP list, and thought I should share mine too! In case it spurs others to write and share their list, and also have another way to remind myself when I need a little jog. As you'll see, a lot of these are a variation on a theme, but somehow it is still so helpful to have them written out like this!
  1. Frittata or Omelet—usually at the end of the week with leftover veggies
  2. Fried Rice— with various veggies, egg, and any sort of protein added in. Recently I made a 'clean-out-the-fridge' fried rice that was supremely satisfying of sauteed ginger, garlic, onion, red cabbage, carrots, frozen mixed vegetables, ham with a very crispy rice, fried egg, and Korean sweet hot sauce drizzled on top (photo below). 
  3. Spaghetti with mushrooms or ground beef
  4. Dumplings– frozen ones from Costco or Trader Joe’s
  5. Rice Bowls (tofu, tuna, salmon + avocado, cucumber, edamame + pickled red onion)- one of my personal favorites. Topped with TJ’s soyaki sauce.
  6. Egg with fried rice, Korean hot sauce (an abbreviated version of the above)
  7. Charcuterie plate—crackers, cheese, cut up raw veggies and fruit, salami
  8. Roasted vegetable platter - a bunch of roasted vegetables with dipping sauce.  The sauces are key! My recent favorites are aioli and romesco
  9. Clean out the fridge and pantry meals - as long as there are a couple of fresh vegetables to roast, some canned sardines, tuna or beans in the pantry and maybe a few eggs that haven't been used up, we can make ourselves a feast this way. 
  10. Rice with a side of cubed tofu sautéed in soy sauce, side of green beans/ broccoli
  11. Avocado, tuna or sardine topped toast with pickled red onions
  12. Costco frozen cauliflower pizza
  13. Peppers (those colorful mini ones), red onions, and Trader Joe's frozen meatballs roasted in the oven, cook orzo while the oven is going, and toss it all together.  Add tomato sauce or pesto if available. 
  14. Chicken curry (jarred curry from Kroger or TJ) with rotisserie chicken 
  15. Roasted vegetables and egg—also another one of my favorites. I love roasting a bunch of cubed vegetables (whatever is in season) with tons of seasoning and boiling, frying or poaching an egg to go with it
  16. Any combo of salad (with arugula or romaine lettuce base) and lemon vinagrette dressing with boiled egg or deli ham/turkey (this dressing is my favorite!)
  17. Any combo of soup (this customizable guide from Mark Bittman is so helpful!)
  18. Kimbap (Korean sushi roll) - nori wrap stuffed with rice, veggie, protein combo
  19. French green beans with 7 minute egg
  20. Breakfast burrito 
  21. Sweet potato tacos 
  22. Sardines over garlic toast with good tomato and pickled red onions
  23. Ground beef/pork sauce over rice noodles
  24. Alison Roman's chickpea stew (I have made this SO many times, make it in large batches and freeze for later use). 
  25. Also, this is not a meal but it feels like it: red cabbage slaw.  Red cabbage, shredded carrots, julienned apples or peach, all tossed in a lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and salt mixture. It's so good and we've been eating this as an accompaniment to many a meal. 

What are you all eating these days?

Friday, February 15, 2019

WHAT I'M READING V. 43




1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

I saw this book popping up everywhere, and while I am usually not one to read autobiographies by political or politically related figures, I am very interested in the Obamas stories and particularly curious about Michelle Obama's point of view on what she went through.  It's a big book, and the first half of the book felt like a very standard growing up in the suburbs story, but it started to get really interesting midway when she started talking about the balance of working while being a mom, couples counseling, and what it mean to take care of herself and determine for herself what would make her happy.  Also, it gave a backstage look at what it was like to be a part of the campaigns and living in the White House during those 8 years and what it was like afterwards.  It was so interesting, and I even cried at some parts that described the campaign - all that hope.

2.  The Hidden Life of Trees

My cousin Lois lent me this book and by the first couple of chapters, my mind was blown. Wohlleben is a German forester who is passionate and knowledgeable about trees and makes the very convincing case that trees are like human families, caring for one another in a social network, and how much letting trees do their thing is beneficial to all of life on this earth. I read this one slowly, one small chapter at a time, and grew into a deeper appreciation for trees. I will never be able to see trees quite the same way again!

3. Creativity, Inc. 

I can't remember where I heard about this one, but the person recommending said that while it was about Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, and how he got the company to where it was, it also held principals that would be helpful for all creative endeavors.  He states at the very beginning that he is primarily concerned with creating a culture of sustainable creativity and problem-solving, and he demonstrates how Pixar accomplished that by going through its history and its practices. I took away a lot from this one!

4. Evicted by Matthew Desmond

This book was utterly heartbreaking, and I think that every American should read. MacArthur follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep housing. With these various stories, you get to see the very clear and unifying theme that when you are poor, you can only focus on one day at a time, and even the tiniest road bump could completely derail your life.  Planning is a luxury reserved for those that live above the poverty line.  It was well-written and spotlights a very pervasive and significant problem in this country. I especially liked the chapter at the end where he talks about the effect that doing this research had on him personally. 



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

MOM AND DAD'S VISIT





my parent's bi-annual visit wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, and looking through these photos make me appreciative all over again about how they get to come stay with us for a little while and weave themselves into the rhythms of our daily life. 



both my parents are so good at just plopping down on the floor and playing and reading with the kids. 


after church one sunday. 



ken took them to have his favorite latte at alchemy. 



random run to target, just us!



we had a bounty of fruit and vegetables sitting in the middle of the dining table while they were here.



i made this blood orange upside down cake while my parents were here and they liked it so much i ended up making it 3-4 more times (with regular orange and also with pear).



matching pajamas that my mom brought the girls from korea! korean pajamas are the best.


my dad safeguarding sloane's tiger for her. 



the girls often ended up in my parents' room at the beginning and end of each day; talking, playing and being read to. i love coming upon scenes like this.




a cozy scene from one of the weekends. 



on friday evening, we set aside time for an art session where we each worked on a piece of art (the girls made several pieces each, of course) and it was so much fun! especially because it was my dad's first time really drawing or painting like this, so it was special for all of us to do it together.







we visited the new Institute of Contemporary Art that opened up a few months ago, and got to listen to a wonderful performance by the First African Baptist Choir in this beautiful space at the top of the museum. 


this was the elevator! 


my very cute parents. 



my dad took this one of me. 


and then back to the train station to see them off to nyc so that they could visit my sister up there. sad to see them go and so happy to have time together!