Friday, May 29, 2009

May, Schmay

So the month of May kinda stunk around here. The weather hasn't been great - lots of cool, rainy weather with a few nice breaks. We did get some nice warm sunshine for 3 or 4 days in a row at some point, but for the most part, we've been dodging showers, covering our new plantings to avoid frost all the way until THE 18th (!!!), and enduring the windows open, the windows shut, the windows open, the windows shut. One night the boys wear summer pj's to bed, the next night they're wearing long pants and long-sleeved flannel. One night we're shivering under an extra blanket, the next night we need the ceiling fan. Makes no sense, and probably contributed to the fact that all 4 of us have been...well...under the weather. Jonathan has finally stopped coughing. It lasted 4.5 weeks. He's on Zyrtec now, doing better, but I'm still not at all convinced it was only allergies. Matthew had his for just over 3 weeks. I don't think his was allergies at all - I think he had a respiratory infection the whole time. Which I believe he gave to me, which I gave to Mark. I've had it for 2.5 weeks now, Mark for about 2 weeks. Last night, we were still up at midnight, coughing our lungs out and sucking down Ricola's. I think, think, THINK we're all about out of the woods at this point.

So that's been our May. The usually beautiful month of May, and this year, it just hasn't been the greatest! But things are looking up. Today, for instance, is Jonathan's last day of school. They're having a little song presentation at 10:30, followed by a picnic lunch (if it doesn't RAIN!) and then he's done. We're looking forward to summer - vacations, trips to Grandma's, soccer camp, swimming, playdates, walks on the trail, bicycle rides, picnics. Lots of things planned, and I'm sure summer will go by WAY too fast for all of us!

The only other redeeming quality of this bedraggled month? The Farmer's Market started yesterday! Anyone who reads my blog knows how much I love the Farmer's market. Right now, in my fridge, I have fresh asparagus, spinach, onions, strawberries and lettuce, right out of the ground. Most was picked yesterday. There is nothing in the world better than food made with fresh produce, and seasoned with herbs right out of my own backyard. Last night, we had chicken florentine pasta seasoned with my own home-grown rosemary and chives. I know I have a long weekend of cooking and washing produce ahead of me - but that's okay - it brings me true joy to be able to use this great stuff and it's so good for you!

So I leave you with the Chicken Florentine recipe - partially absconded from a few websites, but mostly my own creation:

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
olive oil
salt + pepper or garlic pepper salt

2-3 spring onions, scallions or 1/4 sliced yellow onion
handfull of fresh chives, snipped
nice sprig of fresh rosemary

1/2 c. white cooking wine
1/2 - 3/4 c. heavy whipping cream

a big colander full of washed, torn, fresh spinach
salt and pepper

pasta of your choice

Trim and cube the chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper or garlic pepper salt and saute in olive oil until cooked through - 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add a little more olive oil, add the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes until they begin to turn translucent. Increase heat to medium-high, and add the cooking wine. Bring to a boil, and let about half the liquid boil off. Then add the whipping cream, bring to a boil again, stir until thickened and reduce heat. Add the chicken back in, and the rosemary and chives. Keep over low heat.

Meanwhile, cook pasta. Use another pan to wilt the spinach - add some olive oil, throw in the spinach and bring up the heat. Toss and stir the spinach until it begins to wilt a bit, then cover and reduce heat. Allow it to reduce and wilt, but don't let it go to far, and don't let it lose that bright green color.

When the pasta is done and the spinach is done, strain both and add it all together in the pot with the chicken/sauce mixture. Serve hot with freshly grated pecorino romano cheese.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Potty Training, Take One

When Jonathan was almost 3, we decided it was time for him to lose the diapers. About 5 days later, he was fully trained, even overnight. Not sure how that happened, the only explanation I have is that he basically trained himself. We were there to make sure he had the physiological ability to "hold it" and to "know" when he had to go, and once we knew that, a little encouragement here and a little firmness there, and he was done.

Then there's Matthew. He's about the same age as Jonathan was when he trained. He'll be 3 next month. So yesterday, starting the long weekend, we decided to give it a go. Let's just say: no such luck on this one! He'll sit on the potty. He'll sit on the potty for an hour. He'll read books, he'll giggle, he'll play with his toes, he'll point to all his body parts. But eliminate waste from his body he will NOT. No, he'll save that until we get him up, put on his new Elmo underwear and send him out to the kitchen for lunch. Talk about floodgates!

Back to the drawing board. We'll be sitting on the potty everyday. Just for fun. Just to read. And to play with our toes. But just wait, Matthew. The one day that you let your guard down and something comes out of either nether region, wait until you see that celebration! You will want to go again and again and again....we hope.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Gift From a Little Boy

Last night we ate dinner outside on the patio. We love to do that when the weather's nice, but the one problem is keeping the boys in their seats long enough to finish. There are too many things for them to look at outside, and the toys they left behind to come to the table are sitting there in the yard and in the driveway, beckoning to them all through the meal.

Last night was no exception. I think it was Matthew who escaped the table first, followed shortly thereafter by Jonathan, who had at least FINISHED his meal. In a way, it's not so bad. Mark and I get to enjoy the rest of our meal getting our words in edgewise, and switching the conversation to topics that sometimes shouldn't be covered with the little guys present.

So there they were, playing at the edge of the wooded area. More or less behaving. All the sudden, Jonathan seemed to find something incredibly interesting. He picked it up, and started running back to the table, a look of high excitement on his face. I had no idea what was coming. A baby turtle? A feather? Some icky bug? No, it was a rock. In fact, it was a heart-shaped rock. Nothing more spectacular about it, except it was about the size of his palm, and it was indeed, a very distinct heart shape. He held it out, his eyes bright and shining, and brought it to me - "look Mommy, a heart-shaped rock!" I marveled, more at his fascination than the rock itself, until he said "it's for you, Mommy." Awwwwwww. Melt my heart, man. I added it to my collection of "very special things" on my bookshelf, and told him I would cherish it for life.

And I will.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Hike at the Park

One of the reasons we even considered moving to this part of Maryland was the easy access to outdoor opportunities the area provides. All one needs to do is hop in the car and in less than 20 minutes, you can be at some great places to commune with nature. There's hiking and camping, picnic grounds, fishing, canoeing, kayaks, you name it. So when all the stars aligned last weekend bringing us a great weather day, minimal chores to get done and the boys were in relatively good moods, we decided to throw together an impromptu hike and picnic last Saturday.

And what a great day it was! We packed some lunch and some snacks and drinks, jumped in the car and headed for Rocky Gap State Park - a gorgeous area of Mountain Maryland about 15 minutes from our house. Rocky Gap has it all, a nice lake, a lodge, campgrounds, a beach, a mountain or two, golf course, and the requisite hiking trails. That's were we were headed. We haven't explored much of the park yet - most of our exploration had been limited to the Lakeside Loop Trail - a relatively flat, well-traveled trail that circles the lake, goes through the campground and begins and ends at the parking lot. Great for little kids, and lots of great views of the lake. But this time we wanted to check out something different, so at the trail heads, we consulted the map and saw a different trail - the Evitts Mountain Trail that connected to Lakeside Loop and would bring us back to the parking lot within a decent time for lunch. So off we went.

Neither Mark nor I checked the difficulty on the Evitt's Mountain trail. I mean, why bother, right? Our 2 year old and 5 year old could handle it. Right. Actually, it wasn't TOO bad. There were some areas that if someone would've fallen, it would've been disastrous. But what a gorgeous hike it turned out to be. A few minutes through the woods and the trail started going down, down, down, and finally wound up in a gorge with a rushing river at the bottom - we got to cross a neat wooden bridge and then start the major uphill. There were some huge rocks, some cliff-like topography, lots of birds and blooming spring vegetation. Matthew needed to be carried a bit, especially up the slopes, but for the most part, the boys did great and we made it back to the car in time to dig into lunch - well-deserved after a hike made for champions!

I'm ready to go again. So are the boys - all three of them! Nicest part? What we came to Western Maryland for - close to home, didn't cost us a dime, no fighting mass humanity to get where you're going and when you get there, not a soul in sight. We passed nothing but wildlife on that trail, and only started running into a few folks as we got closer to the more well-traveled areas. Lots to explore around these parts - and with the boys getting bigger, looks like a lot of adventures in the coming years!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Oh where oh where have you gone, time? I look at my blog and just weeks have gone by. I'm afraid I'm going to have to resort to the deadly "bullet entries" just to get caught up....let's see....

- Three weeks. That's how long Jonathan's been coughing. And coughing. And coughing. Sometimes it's tight, sometimes it's loose (I know, TMI), sometimes it keeps him up half the night, other times he sleeps for 12 solid without a peep.

- Twice. That's how many times we've been to the doctor over this. No fever. No other symptoms. Doctors are thinking allergies.

- Two weeks. That's how long Matthew's been coughing. Did I mention the hoarseness? See above for the doctor schedule.

- Eye drops and Zyrtec. That's the solution for the moment. And riding out this horrible pollen wave this Spring. Maybe in a week or two, things will look better.

- Three days. That's how long I'VE been coughing. But unlike the kids - I have a bona fide cold. I think. Perhaps I'm in for three weeks of this myself. Sigh.

- 70's - 80's. No, not the era, the TEMPERATURE! Finally! Although it was in the 30's overnight two nights ago, it looks like we're finally over the hump, spring has sprung for good, bring on summer, we're ready!

- One brandy-new lawn mower to replace the one that....SOMEONE....broke.

- One very, very clean toolshed (thank you, Grammy and Grandpa for spending the weekend with us so we could get these chores done!) making room for said new lawn mower.

- Spring planting, courtesy of Mark? Getting there. Onions, tomatoes and squash are in the ground. Most perennials in. Annuals are getting there. Plans in the Fall to rip out a hillside or two for a large-scale terracing project that will become our NEW veggie garden next summer.

- Work, work, work. Thank, God, both jobs secure. Enough said.

- School? Jonathan only has 3 more days! Then, end of year picnic. Parent conferences (for pre-k?), kindergarten open-house, and then, in mid-June, soccer camp! If he likes it, he can join the local league in the Fall.

- Potty training? Commences this weekend in full glory. Have spent the last few months "getting to know the potty". Jonathan was so easy. Matthew seems a little...resistant. Wish us luck!

So that's about it right now, unless you want to hear about the "to-do" list. Trust me, you don't. Nice three-day weekend coming up with some nice weather...we're planning on sticking around to try and do this potty thing, so hopefully we'll get a lot of it done. And in between, throwing a large variety of food on the grill for three days in a row. VERY much looking forward to a nice weekend with the family! Happy Memorial Day!