Thursday, January 28, 2016


As soon as I heard that we might get snowed in, I asked Ken to pick up some blueberries. I love any chance to bake with Sloane and I had a feeling being snowed in would provide ample time...and would also increase the need to stuff ourselves with cake. 

This cake is soft, moist and not too sweet, which I really liked. It's good with coffee, it's good for breakfast, it's good eaten cold off the plate using your hand standing in front of the fridge. I might try to make this cake with apples and then do an apple syrup on top. Huzzah! 

Sloane was a huge help with stirring the blueberry syrup. Making syrup is one of those things where you have to stir frequently as you summer and an extra (albeit small) set of eager hands come in really HANDY (he he he he he) !   

She's getting something from the imaginary shelf, I forget what!

Ken took these photos of us in action. He's getting good at taking photos, don't you think? 

She was soooo into it.


We used this recipe, with some alterations, and a blueberry syrup instead of a huckleberry glaze.

This is what we did for the cake:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (add more if you like your cake on the sweet side!)
2 eggs
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh blueberries, lightly coated in flour 

1. Combine flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and mix together.
2. Combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk until light, fluffy, and creamy.
3. Combine dry ingredients with wet in three parts, alternating a third of a cup of milk between each dry addition. Mix well, then add your blueberries lightly coated in flour. 
4. Pour batter into a greased 9" cake pan and bake at 325 degrees F for 60-70 minutes.

For the syrup:

2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of cornstarch

1. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and set aside.
2, In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water and blueberries to a boil, stirring occasionally.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring.
4. Add cornstarch and water mixture until blended and take off the heat.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


I was in a bit of a funk this last week and what helped wash that funk off was sitting down at Sloane's table and coloring with her. No rules, no reasons, no worrying about what other people would think, just free coloring and murmuring to each other things like, 'May I use that color after you' and 'oh that color is beautiful'. A half hour of this and I found myself much more relaxed.

That was on a Thursday evening and we went to bed that night wondering if it was really going to snow as much as they were telling us to expect. Sloane has been excited for snow all winter, so she asked about building a snowman several times before she settled in for the night.

And here we are, on a Friday morning, waiting for snow. It started coming down around 10 am, and it was beautiful. It looked like a snow globe!

Once it started, we knew it would pile up quick and we decided we needed to get our bellies full of hot soup and noodles before we holed up for the weekend. It felt perilous to be on the road when it was snowing so hard, and I wanted to turn back several times (I absolutely detest driving in the snow), but Ken was our trusty captain and he navigated us to a bowl of pho and back.

While it was still snowing we let Sloane play outside and Ken came up with the brilliant idea of using a laundry basket as a sled. It was the perfect size for her!

This here is Sloane coming back into the garage - where I had hunkered down to watch the snow with Logan - to regroup: we had to replace her frozen hat.

Logan seemed fascinated with the snow; I was fascinated by how cute and chunky she is.

Saturday morning looked like this. I made them wear their hats because it felt so cold when we came downstairs.

I got to spend a lot of time staring at these little baby toes.

As the snow piled up higher and higher, it felt incredibly cozy to be indoors. I don't much like the snow but I really enjoyed being snowed in.

And we made a blueberry cake! more on this later.

 Sunday morning it had finally stopped snowing and I plunked Sloane down into the snow on our deck to see how high the snow had piled up, like a good mother should.

Since building a snow man was high on her agenda, we went to work. Unfortunately for all of us, I don't have proper snow gear and the snow was so powdery that it was hard to get a ball going.  We ended up with the smallest snow person I have ever seen.

This man shoveled our whole driveway out to the road! Standing ovation, hugs and gratitude for this man. 

And this is how Sloane showed her gratitude. Don't worry, Ken got her back. 

Friday, January 22, 2016


A few days ago Sloane told me a story about what happened at school and ended her story with, "...and that was inappropriate." It took a whole bunch of restraint not to dissolve into giggles at this, and I nodded along seriously. My life feels a little more complete, now that I have heard a three year old pronounce the word, "inappropriate".

Sloane these days is constantly playing pretend.

When I go to pick her up after school, she is a kitty cat, and she meow meow's her hello.  When we get home, she tells me that not only is she a giraffe, but I am a giraffe too, and so is Logan and dad, too. Then she suggests different scenarios that we should act out.

Last Saturday, as soon as she woke up, she did some dancing and singing and then told me the following things: "Hi, what's your name? I am Sloane Lu. I have no parents (sad face), I have no mom and dad! I'm an orphan. And I have no house, I have no bed and no toys. All I have is a sofa....I'm going to get married to a boy. And look! Now I have a baby growing in my stomach. It's a baby boy, and he's kicking."

Then she declared that we will play Snow White - she was Snow White, and i was the evil queen, and after I offered her the poison apple, she fell down with such dramatics that Ken and I were impressed. After her teddy bear (who was her friend and also a doctor) woke her up, she announced that we would now play little mermaid. A pretend play of the little mermaid turned into Ariel (Sloane) and prince Eric (me) going on a picnic and then realizing that they needed to go grocery shopping. And on and on...

It's really fun, but also it can get tiring because her playing pretend all the time means that she wants us to be playing pretend all the time which is hard to do when you're also trying to get things done or when you want your daughter to stop being a zebra and turn back into a human so she can put her toys away. I'm learning so many things- I'm learning how to be be patient, how to communicate instructions and be firm when I need to. And I'm learning how to get down on the ground and play my heart out.

Sloane is three and a half and Logan is six months old, so they are almost exactly three years apart. I would have thought Logan too young to play with Sloane but Sloane has facilitated play with her over the past few months in a way that totally surprises me.

Sloane pretends Logan's foot is a flute or a trumpet and sings into it.
Sloane reads Logan her books - not the actual words of the book, but her own interpretation of it. 
Sloane introduces all of her animals and tells Logan about each of their tendencies.
Sloane feeds Logan pretend food 
Sloane helps give her a bath
Sloane hands Logan a rattle and when Logan bangs it against the table, Sloane bangs along in unison.

It's awesome!

What else is awesome is how Sloane gets really into a song and wants to listen to it a hundred times to learn it and then wants to sing it all the time thereafter. Recently, it has been "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" coming out of the Christmas season. I got some video of her singing it - she actually does know all the words to the song but apparently I caught her in a moment of extra vulnerability. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


A few months ago, I wrote up a list of ways to stay ahead of myself and I am revisiting them now and posting them here as a sort of rallying cry. It has gotten freezing cold the past few weeks, and the plummeting temperatures mean my spirits and resolve take a nosedive as well.  As I read through this list I'm remembering that I wrote this up to remind myself that it's important not just survive but to THRIVE!! Practicing these habits each week help me really relish the day to day.

One of the most helpful things for me these days has been to sit down at the beginning of the week and visualize the days ahead. I look at my calendar and bullet journal to mentally prepare myself for what is coming up and make task lists for each thing. I usually do this on Monday mornings which 1) makes Monday a little less dreadful, and 2) gets me ready and excited for the week. 

Here are some of the other things that I've been practicing, in the spirit of relishing: 

1. Prepare all of our meals for the week: We take Sunday afternoons to do this and have made it a family event with Sloane helping where she can. This is a lifesaver for me during the weekdays, and gives me a few extra minutes to spend with the girls instead of preparing dinner when I get home from work. 

2. Prioritize bedtime: This means valuing bedtime routines and the quality time it allows us to have with the girls, but it also means making sure that we ourselves go to sleep at a reasonable time. 

3. Wake up early: Prioritizing bed time is important to me because I want to wake up early! I've said this before but morning times have become so precious to me - for meditating, for mentally preparing for the day, for writing, for appreciating my family - and I want to maximize it as much as I can. 

4. Come up with a system for doing everyday chores: there are household things that need to get done every day, like washing pump parts, packing our lunches, washing dishes, tidying up, etc. and I have found that the most painless thing to do is to do them them the night before.

5. Write everything down: I assess the upcoming week but I also look ahead and try to plan things weeks and months ahead. This helps me look forward to things and also helps evaluate whether too much is going on. I am also a great lover of lists so I make lists for everything - grocery, books I've read, books I want to read, ideas for events, ideas for trips, things that Sloane says, etc.

6. Reflect: In addition to the above, I have found that writing a blog has been such a great way to keep up the discipline of reflecting. And reflecting inevitably leads to appreciating, experiencing gratitude and feeling full. 

7. Enjoy the errands: There are certain errands that need to get done each week, the main one being grocery shopping, and I realized that a slight change in perspective can make a world of difference. Instead of thinking of it as a chore and a drag, we make it a family outing and it has been something that we all enjoy doing because we get to do it together. 

8. Get in the habit of looking forward to everything: Whenever I start to feel a sense of dread or anxiety about the future, I stop and readjust my focus on the small things. One of the best ways I have found to being content is to look forward to all of the small things that I know will happen each day. So instead of trying to breeze through the week to get to the weekend, only to then dread the next week, I think about how much I'm looking forward to seeing the girls first thing in the morning, to getting into bed with Ken each night, to the quiet of the workday, to that first cup of coffee, to the hot shower, etc. It makes me feel like I am the luckiest person in the world. 

....Now if I could only get a handle on our laundry each week..

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Amelie Mancini is a French artist and designer living in Brooklyn who does these beautiful prints on bags, pouches, cards and other home goods. I love the desert theme, and the hieroglyphics are awesome too. 

I have my eyes on the pouches because I've found that small or medium pouches are a great solution to losing things in the black hole that is your big bag. They are especially great for organizing all the various things that come with being a mom to a toddler and baby! 

Friday, January 15, 2016


While we were dating, Ken and I visited art museums together and through that I was led to believe that Ken really enjoyed going to the museum, and I like to think that it probably contributed to my assessment that Ken would be a good one to marry. Come to find out after marriage, Ken in fact does not enjoy museums as much as I thought. He likes to clarify that he actually loves museums, but that he is the least enthused about art museums, but to his credit he is usually a good sport about it, especially "since it's something to do", as he put it so romantically the other day. 

That day was a day back at the end of December when the day was so spectacularly warm and beautiful, and I felt absolutely like all the cells in my body were begging to be basked in the sun or inspired in some way. I remembered that the VMFA has a great outdoor space, as well as exhibits that I wanted to check out, so we headed over there with both of the girls. 

Let me explain, part of the reason why I like an art museum has nothing to do with the actual art there. Of course that is the main thing, but I also love it for the way it creates hallowed space to hold and display that art. I love the large scale that museums allow art to be, and the reverant way it is exhibited and framed, and how it allows you, asks of you, to stand there to behold it. I believe in art being everywhere, usually prefer it, but when a city has an art museum, you know that it values art enough to designate a physical space. 

As I walk into a museum like VMFA, I instantly feel like I am part of something bigger than myself. There is a hush, a calm, a quieting of all other distractions so that your soul can properly be inspired. You can't help by feel the ghosts of artists past, their passion, and I hear the whisper of, "this is important" rushing through all of the rooms. I feel inspired not just towards art, but towards all of my creative faculties. And then when you bring a kid, you also start feeling tingly with the prospect of showing her these amazing pieces and talking about them with her. I know Ken felt those tingles too.

It was kind of amazing beholding Sloane beholding these large scale pieces.

She said this one was her favorite... Because of how there was a dog and a child riding a small horse in it. 

This was an amazing painting (look at that dress!) but I was equally impressed with the frame. Wow.

Ken said this one was his favorite - I think it was a photo of a highway toll at night.

Side note: Sloane and I ran inside to use the bathroom at one point  and while we were walking past the mirrors in there, I had a flashback to a moment when I walked by those very same mirrors, not with Sloane skipping along next to me, but inside my belly.  I actually have a post about it here, when I describe walking around the VMFA very very pregnant.... how wild!