Saturday, May 30, 2009

Play Ball

It is baseball season around here. When I am watering my garden or weeding, I am frequently chided for standing in the "baseball field."

Brendan hits the ball off the tee and rounds imaginary bases three or four times while shouting, "Mom, cheer for me!"

Dad is met at the door in the evening with the same daily plea: "Play baseball with us!" He gladly obliges.

We watch Cubs games together all squished on our couch. Both Ellie and Brendan have fascinating insights and commentary. Ellie proudly points out the pitcher, batter, catcher and "vampire." Brendan constantly asks when the tv is going to show the dugout and the "ballpin."

Both of our sluggers had their first t-ball practice today. Just to be extra cute, they hugged while they waited in line for their next at bat.

And it is still May. We're just getting going.

Feeding My Flock

My thoughts on food and family and rejected zucchini muffins are up on the Chicago Moms Blog this rainy Saturday morning.

If you have a love/hate relationship with the never-ending process of feeding your flock, have a read.

Friday, May 22, 2009

There's Loving . . .

. . . and then there is over-loving.

Colin gets a lot of the latter type of "affection."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Family of Finches

Although ours is a very urban life (looming skyscrapers, rumbling el trains, stinky alleys), we are lucky to have a healthy dose of the natural mixed in with our bus exhaust fumes.

The best example of this is the finch family living in our yard. Their nest went up about four weeks ago right outside the back door -- the back door that is always open -- with noisy children constantly in and out. Not exactly the most serene setting for bringing up baby finches. But our view has been spectacular. And the finches don't seem to mind the commotion.

After several days of constructing the nest, the mama and papa flitted about nervously. We waited to hear tell-tale chirp chirps. One morning, we found a dead baby still half in his egg on the ground. We talked about it and felt sad (especially Ellie who declared that she loved birds and never wanted to see anything bad happen to them). Dad cleaned it up.

A few days later, we saw two little yellow beaks poking up from the nest begging mama and papa for a bite to eat. Now, the two fledglings are about twelve days old. Mama and papa fly about tending to the needs of their two babes as we play or eat or garden. We watch them. They seem to be watching us.

The fledglings are looking eager. We anticipate a flying lesson this week.

(Updated: Twenty minutes after I posted this, we opened the back door to check out our feathered friends. We discovered that one of the fledglings was precariously perched on the edge of the nest. With wildly flapping wings, he dove out and despite my fears that he was going to crash head-first into our grill, slowly gained altitude and flew off. So kind of him to wait until we could all witness his first flight. )

Monday, May 18, 2009


Today I thought that I would talk a little bit about granola.

Sometime last year, I decided to try to make my own. I burned it and it went right in the trash. Fail.

I then became addicted to Kashi's Mountain Medley Granola and ate it almost daily while I was pregnant. Mountain Medley is an expensive habit. The smallish box costs $4.99 and I would say that each box averages about three servings (the box says seven, but I say more like three).

Which brings me to my next point -- I like granola but I would also like it to be good for me (otherwise why not just have blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast?). Well, if you eat a third of a box of Kashi's Mountain Medley Granola, you have put back over 500 calories worth of granola.

Then last week, I came across a website called and I thought that it was totally idiotic to pay other people to mix dried fruit with oats for you. However, it did inspire me to try my hand at making my own granola again.

So on Saturday Ellie and I whipped up a batch. I looked at Alma's recipe that I had bookmarked months ago and I also reviewed a recipe from Epicurious. And then, unable to use restraint, I added a bunch of other stuff.

We loved it. Here is generally what I did.

4 cups of oats
1/2 cup of pecan pieces
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/4 cup of sweetened coconut
2-3 Tbsp. of unsalted butter melted
2-3 Tbsp. of honey
2-3 Tbsp. of maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon
1/3 cup of unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 or more dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the melted butter, honey, maple syrup and cinnamon together. Add the oats, pecans, almonds, and coconut and stir to coat. Bake for about 30 or 40 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cool completely. Add in the sunflower seeds and dried cherries.

So obviously, you could make all sorts of changes to this general recipe. Any types of nuts or dried fruit would work. I think that the key is to have enough liquid to coat everything and get it to clump together a bit and to cook at a really low temperature. I am going to try to make my next bunch clumpier, but other than that, a success.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's Growing On


Strawberry pickin' in our own backyard


The most delightfully yellow lantana

Our pink-flowering miniature dogwood

Friday, May 15, 2009

What I've Been Up To

Life is busy. In my spare moments, I have been able to have a few (very, very few) coherent thoughts. Here they are:

Do you know where the best Chicago-area family-friendly beaches are? I do. Summer 2009 Going Places

I say why buy sugar-and-high-fructose-laden popsicles from the store with pictures of Dora on them when you can make your own (they will taste better and be better for you anyway). Also in Summer 2009 Going Places.

And finally, over at the Chicago Moms Blog, a mini-rant against those "natural parent" types (some, not all) who make you feel like they are better than you because they use cloth diapers and you don't.

Happy weekend.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

He's A Mom-Eater

When he isn't depositing buckets of drool on my shoulder or tasting a fistful of my hair, Colin is likely engaged in some other sort of messy oral exploration.

Like trying to stuff his entire hand in his mouth. Or devouring his stuffed giraffe or munching a corner of a throw pillow.

But mostly he is all over me -- sucking on my cheek, licking my neck, or trying to eat my nose.

This is full-contact lovin'.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's A Girl!

This little love bug is the newest member of our family. Her name is Saoirse (pronounced SEER-sha).

My brother and sister-in-law are now the proud parents of two boys and a girl.

And as the proud parent of two boys and a girl myself, I can say with certainty that they are lucky to have such a nice little group.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Apple Pie Sky

My apple tree is blooming.

It only produces fruit every other year and this is the first time I have been here to see it in the springtime.

I see apple sauce. And apple crisp. And apple strudel with dried cherries. Maybe baked apples with cinnamon and brown sugar.

I see a delicious fall.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What He Had to Say on His Third Birthday

His new birthday wheels.

My big man is three now. We were so busy fulsomely celebrating his birthday that I didn't have time to blog about it.

Here is his birthday interview. What he has to say is just as funny as the things on his sister's mind.


cereal- popcorn
vegetable- red pepper
drink- smoothie
toy- trucks
tv show- Calliou
game- Diego
book- Wheels on the bus and dig dig digging
dinner – chicken nuggets
lunch – chicken nuggets
holiday- Christmas
animal or doll – tigers
stuffed toy – bunny
color – orange
toy at school – go down the slide
sport – basketball

What do you want for your birthday? firetruck, Dalmatian and firemans

If you could change your name, what would you choose? Giles

What do you love about each person in our family?
Daddy – building a snowman with him
Mommy – playing with her
Ellie – playing with her too
Colin – play with him too

Where would you like to go on vacation this year? California

What are some of your wishes for this year? I wish for trout (we ended up eating halibut instead. . . I love this kid).

What makes you happy? Ellie

What makes you sad? Ellie too.

How old is your mom? May 2nd

How tall is your mom? big

What is her favorite thing to do? play

What does Dad do for a job? Make dinner.

What is your mom's favorite food? mushrooms

Dad’s favorite food? "chicken balk balk"

What does our family like to do together? Go to the museum.

What are you going to be when you grow up? A fireman and I going to have a Dalmatian that can hop in the truck with me and maybe Ellie can be a girl firefighter.

Who are you going to marry? Uncle Johno

Vote for my Mom!

My Mom is a really great lady. I entered her into a contest to win a day of spa treatments because I think that she deserves a little bit of extra pampering.

I need you to vote for her. You don't mind, do you? Click here to vote. Her name is Joanne Murray. She is #7.

Thanks so much.