Tuesday, September 1, 2015

VIRGINIA BEACH AQUARIUM




I've been trying to write this post for DAYS now and here's hoping that today is the day I finally get 'er done. We got back home Sunday night from the beach and we are a little pooped, reeling from a great time in Virginia Beach, frustrated by our first floor still not being back to normal, and trying to get back in the swing of things nevertheless. 

And besides, I have pictures to share! Things to say! Declarations to make! So let's get to it. One of the things we did last week was visit Virginia Beach's aquarium. Sloane and I had been watching Planet Earth earlier this summer, and had hopes that we would be able to see some of the animals we learned about, so it was thrilling to walk up to the building and immediately see these beautiful seals swimming by us in a tank and jumping out to get fed. 


And then we walked inside and saw....dinosaurs?!  They were having a dinosaur exhibit with these huge robot-like dinosaurs that moved and made rawr-ing noises, which even I had to admit was a little scary. Sloane recently had shown interest in dinosaurs and had picked out a T-Rex toy at Target the other day, so she was really excited...until she realized she was actually scared, and then she was not so excited.


On the way out of the dinosaur exhibit, she spotted this sticker of a smaller dinosaur (Velociraptor?*) and exclaimed that it was probably a friendly dinosaur because it was smaller and similar in size to her T-Rex toy dinosaur. Here she is having them meet each other.

*As we were walking through the exhibit, I pointed out each dinosaur and to my surprise each of their names came to me all of a sudden, as if out of the ether. I haven't said the word, "Stegosaurus" in who knows how many years but there it came, out of my mouth.  I didn't know what this one was called, so I had to look it up, but I do remember these from the movie, Jurassic Park. When I think about,  probably the only reason why I know the names of dinosaurs is because of that movie, and also The Land Before Time, which I remember to be really good. I don't remember what happens in that one anymore, but I remember watching it a whole bunch of times, and I can't wait to watch it someday with Sloane.


Note: T-Rex nibbling on my mother-in-law 's neck.  It's a friendly dinosaur, but it still gets hungry now and then.


There were people swimming around in the big tank and Sloane was primarily concerned with why on earth there was a person in there.


That's her telling me that if you touch the sting rays they might sting you. 


And this is her explaining to grandma that if you touch the sting rays, they might sting you. The way she explains things to you as if she is telling you the most important thing ever, using her hands, and her eyes big and round, is so excellent. 









And these sea turtles were probably our favorite thing there. They were huge, majestic and beautiful. And as Sloane pointed out, "They're flying!!!"


We did it! We love you! Goodbye! 




Thursday, August 27, 2015

SLOANE AND LOGAN




I would probably be saying this about boys if I had sons, but I have two stinkin' cute daughters so I gotta say, I love having daughters.

There was a time when I was pregnant with Sloane that I thought I was having a boy and was a little disappointed when we found out we were having a girl (I wanted a boy first, and then a girl), but that lasted for all of two minutes and now it's hard to imagine it any other way.

I like shopping in the girl's section, I like doing Sloane's hair, I love teaching her about the kind of beauty that is found in strength and intelligence. I feel lucky to be able to share my experiences - joys and struggles - as a woman with my daughters. 

And for me, one of the best things about being a girl was the relationship that I was able to have with my sisters. I don't know who I'd be without my sisters; I'm of the opinion that a lot of what is good about me came from the sisterhood I grew up with. 

So when we found out we were having another girl, I was thrilled to be able to give Sloane a sister.

I can't determine what kind of relationship they'll have, but I pray for them the kind of sisterhood and bond that will encourage and raise each other up, that they will be a refuge for each other, and that they will learn how to appreciate being women, together.


And it has to be said -  what will help immensely in how these girls learn to love themselves and each other is this awesome dad of theirs, who loves their mom so well and treasures each of them with all his heart.  


Currently:

My heartbeat around the infant is:
Protect, nurse, nurture, feed, inhale, enjoy, kiss, smooch, squeeze, inhale some more... 

My pulse around the toddler is:
Regard, converse, be amazed, inhale, caress, trace, hold, discipline, embrace, encourage...

With both of them I'm trying to memorize their little bodies, movements, expression, sounds and words. Together and separately, they are my little miracles.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

VISITING MOCA



As a new mother of two, I've been learning some important things.

Such as, backpacks are the best thing to use as a 'diaper' bag. With Sloane, I didn't even do a diaper bag, I just threw a few diapers and wipes in my purse. But now with a toddler and infant, I feel the need to be extra prepared. My bag now includes the usual diapers and wipes, but also an extra change (or two) of clothes for both kids, plastic bags, snacks, water, sunblock, bug spray, both my and Sloane's sunglasses, and then my wallet, keys and phone. I have found the perfect bag for this is the Everlane backpack - it is my favorite thing to carry these days.

Also, preferably always have an extra set of hands helping you, but if that isn't available, go out anyways. The baby loves sleeping on the go and the toddler loves adventure.

Also, having a pad and pencil or crayons on hand at any given moment is good way to kill time, distract and inspire. 

Also, take photos. They really help contribute to the sense of accomplishment from a day that flies by filled with activities and to-do lists. 

Coffee, is of course, an absolute must. 


So we went to go visit Museum of Contemporary Art here the other day....and walked in to learn that their exhibits were closed...womp womp. We made the most of it and whipped out the sketch pads and crayons I had packed up in my preparedness backpack and went in search of inspiration. They had this Chihuly glass sculpture up, so we plopped ourselves down in front of it and went to work. 


That face! And note the "cell phone" that is never too far away - she talks on it to friends and family and also imaginary friends. She also looks at pretend photos on it...



After we did several interpretations of what we saw in the glass sculpture, we went off to explore some more. There were a couple of smaller exhibits to the side that we wandered through, and I got so excited to contemplate art with her: "Look Sloane! Ooh Sloane, look at that! Hey do you see that there?"

After a while, Sloane looked at me and said, "Moom, you don't have to tell me to look every time. I can look by myself!"

Sloane, the teenager. 

We ended our trip by settling ourselves in the lobby area where they had trees growing inside pots, which were lined up in rows and covered in little lights. Sloane did several renditions of these trees on her sketchpad with my mother in law while I nursed Logan...that's a major perk of museums, there are plenty of benches to settle down on and even nursing feels easy because there aren't usually a ton of people. I think it's safe to say we left inspired and I can't wait to take her to some more art museums now that she can "look by herself"..!












Thursday, August 20, 2015

OUR MORNING AT THE BEACH



There is this thing happening with our floors at home and it's become a giant ordeal and pain in the behind and there isn't a single thing I can do about it except wait, and try not to be dramatic about all the delays, and try to focus on the positives even though I have been driven out of my home with two kids and I haven't seen Ken all week, and I miss my bed and I've had to put all my nesting instincts on hold, blah blah blah. 

Because there are these positives, like being Virginia beach during the weekday is kind of nice (we had a snow cone on a Monday night!) and all the extra time we get to spend with my in-laws (thank God Ken's family is wonderful)...and each time Ken's grandma comes over to coo and talk to Logan in Chinese and Logan smiles and coos back at her, it's kind of amazing. 

Plus, we didn't think we were going to make it to the beach this year, especially with the newborn, but with all the extra time down here and the extra hands, we thought, why not? Ken came down last weekend and we made it happen. I was a little nervous about being out there with the baby being so little but we rolled the stroller out on the beach, rented some shade, and kept our stay to a couple of hours and it was fine.

Ken and I kept high-fiving each other - "we're doing it!" ...."we made it!"....."we did it!" You could say we were pleasantly surprised. Logan got a nursing session on the beach ( I did it!), Ken caught some waves and Sloane got to play with her bucket and shovel - she had been talking about it for weeks - so we were all pretty proud of ourselves. Beach trip as a family of four, check!

















Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MY COLLECTION THESE DAYS



We're in Virginia Beach this week but here are a few photos from a few weeks ago....of early mornings, bed time snuggles, tutus and pandas, hugs and kisses, grandparents, selfies, weekends, card games, family walks and solo walks. 

Once in a while I like to throw these photos all up here so that there is a single place where these all go. I resolve several times a year that I'll get around to organizing all my photos and printing books out of them one of these days....but until then. 

Here's something that I've learned recently: I'm really never going to have luxurious, ample, uninterrupted time to write.  That's a fantasy that I've given up on long ago, and in a way, maybe that's ok. Maybe I write better in little bits and pieces, in bursts here and there, on scraps of paper and on my Notes app on the iPhone. Anyway, that's how I can write these days, and that's how I will write.  Here I am, doing it.  

I'm (finally) reading the book, "Steal Like an Artist" and there is a page in it that describes how artists are collectors: "The artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there's a difference. hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively. They only collect things that they really love...Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by."  

And then this quote, by Jim Jarmusch, "Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic."  

This really resonates with me. That's what I'm doing, as I hungrily sniff out things in this life - through reading, conversing, walking, traveling, pinning, exploring, looking, listening....and on and on.  I'm collecting, partly for the sake of collecting, but mostly in the hopes of creating.

And here is one of the types of collecting I do, I snap photos of a moment in the day, and I try to write some words down in this blog thing of mine.  I'm collecting moments, moments that speak to me, and images that I find moving.  It's documentation, and it's material and inspiration for more.  



I now see why tulle was invented.  It is for little girls who dream of ballerinas, and there is no better use or place for it than on twirling three year olds. 




At each stage of Sloane's life, as I encounter my strengths and weaknesses as a parent, I see my own parents in a new light. It's enlightening.


I hope I never get over the thrill of referring to them as "my girls".



I'm giddy every time I pick up this newborn. I'm floored every time Sloane acts like a much older kid than I think she is. I pinch myself about how lucky I am to have a husband like mine.


I'm working up a sweat with my walks, but I'm counting the days when I can get in the gym again.  This body has been good to me, I'm trying to be good back.


Monday, August 17, 2015

WHAT I'M READING V. 7 (POST PARTUM EDITION 2)





The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

My sister recommended this book and I loved it. The whole thing has a darkly witty, almost snarky, yet smart and charming tone to it that I found very enjoyable. Once you realize how much the author trusts you as the reader to play out the stories in the theater of your mind, you are in for a ride. It was a delicious read.

Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

I found this one mostly interesting in regards to the historical piece of how orphans used to be sent west on trains to be given to families, basically for labor, which apparently really happened. I wasn't crazy about how this one wrapped up, but it was a fun and quick read in the meanwhile. 

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

I had never read Nora Ephron before (enjoyed her movies, but hadn't encountered her books) - but decided to pick up this memoir because I always heard her name brought up when smart memoirs by women are discussed. I was all in, after reading the first essay. Her voice is clear and she is instantly relatable. I get now how and why she was influential and it makes me want to read everything else she's ever written.

Night Waking, by Sarah Moss

I'm reading this with a few other frirends , and at first, I had a hard time getting into it. The narrator is sleep deprived and it was stressful to read about the difficulty of balancing motherhood and work in real time from what appeared to be an unreliable narrator. But I stuck with it and several threads appeared - elements of history, mystery and child psychology - which kept me interested and I think it makes it a good book to discuss. I'm a chapter away from the end and I'm glad I pressed on.




Friday, August 14, 2015

PINNED RECIPES


It's been a crazy week over here- Ken went back to work, our hardwood floors need to be replaced due to flooding, and Sloane, Logan and I are being evacuated for a week to avoid the demolition work that's going to be happening on our first floor. We'll be staying with my MIL for the time being and I'm hoping to think of it as a vacation...with a toddler, and a 5 week old....wish me luck!

In the meanwhile this here is going to be a brief recipes-I-pinned update. Like this Baked Eggs with Mushrooms and Parmesan - Sloane loves mushrooms and I've been sautéing them with some soy sauce for her to gobble up, but I'm going to try this version with baked eggs for variation.


I tried making this crispy potato and garlic cake the other day and it wasn't anything special, but maybe it's because I didn't use the duck fat, which seems like it might turn the whole thing around. I'm gonna give it one more go when I get my hands on some duck fat.



Another baked egg atop some vegetables, because it makes a simple meal and it makes me happy: Baked Eggs with Spinach, Ricotta, Leek and Chargrilled Pepper


My favorite homemade Popsicle is vanilla yogurt with grapes so I made thesehoney yogurt covered frozen grapes and we happily snacked on them. I've also forayed into the world of homemade protein/energy bars and want to try making these banana protein bars next.


I love pine, I like whiskey, I feel like this Mountain Pine Whiskey Cooler could be a winner....As soon as this house debacle is over, I'm going to make one to celebrate.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

RICHMOND ZOO




We went to the zoo!

The build up and hype for this zoo trip was tremendous. Ken and I talked about it all the time in the days leading up to the event, and we had an easy and willing audience because Sloane loves animals. We're all benefiting from this love; turns out, it's a chance for us to appreciate them all over again.  In the week before, we watched planet earth episodes, talked about the upcoming outing at least a couple of times a day and even studied the zoo map to get ourselves acquainted with the animals we would get to see. 

Ken and I, we love getting excited for things together, and now that we can include Sloane in our adventures, it just compounds the joy and anticipation leading up to things (and us annoyingly asking her over and over again, "are you excited??" somehow doesn't get old, and she readily responds with a "yes!" each time). In that regard, we were all excited for the zoo, and we were not disappointed. 

I felt like a kid myself walking through the zoo; we were all, "Wow look at that!" "Come here, look there!" There is something about animals that are magical, especially ones that we don't usually get to see, and during this trip it was even more amazing because all of us saw them through Sloane's eyes. 




Sloane studying the zoo map.





We were able to get so close to the giraffes, it was amazing.
















It was so darn special to have this experience with all these family members - my parents, Ken's mom and sister and Ken's cousin that we hadn't seen ken a while.


After the zoo, we came back to our house, sang Sloane a rousing rendition of happy birthday and opened presents together with the family. She seemed overwhelmed by all the attention but look at that face!


And look...the four of us!