Scenes from a truffle party (and item from the Sabot auction) led by Holly Timberline and hosted by Kathryn Gammino in her beautiful home. We worked in teams of two, creating a flavored ganache, using different combinations of chocolates and various liquors and concentrates like espresso, raspberry liqueur, and hazelnut liqueur. After the chocolate cooled, we rolled our ganache in various toppings like chopped pistachio or cocoa powder. Each woman brought home a dozen assorted truffles. YUM.
Holly instructs us on proper technique for preparing the ganache emulsion.
Kathryn and kids heating cream; Christy and Erin inspecting their emulsion.
Shannon and Kathryn's mother-in-law (whose name I have forgotten, shamefully) look on while Zoe spreads flavored ganache in a pan to cool; Sarah hams it up while stirring our perfect emulsion (go team!).
Christy and Erin consider whether their flavoring is quite potent enough; every one enjoys wine and a spring evening while waiting for the ganache to cool.
Truffle-making gets messy...
Chopping candied orange peel and feeling elated as we finish the job.
This is a triops, and it's awesome, and we had some in our house in April, and I eventually killed them via neglect, and you can read about them here and here and here on Spark but I doubly killed them via neglect by never finishing their sad yet beautiful tale. Someday I'll finish posting the photos and link to the videos I made (teaser: molting dance set to Saint-Saens' "fossils". I know, I'm brilliant.) and tell my tale of woe as a caution to those who might forget to feed their triops.
Oh, and I can tell you after dealing with triops and watching the Allen-Shorts raise sea monkeys that if you are choosing between one and the other, the triops are bigger and more playful, but you cannot kill the sea monkeys. Ever. I think they even tried to kill them and it only made them stronger.
We had two swallowtail chrysalises that were formed in the fall and overwintered on our porch. I thought they were dead, but it turned out that one wasn't. Which is definitely a nice way for things to turn out.
Hmm, and it turns out that I really didn't take many pictures at the end of April, and those I did were noted on Spark, and I have to wonder if there's much use any more for a private space. Except that I know sometimes there is. So I'll keep it.
Onward we go, digging out May next.
It should come as no surprise to you that the boys' "baby books" are actually three blank albums and a whole lotta notes.
There are several historic homes south of Cary Street, just a few minutes from where we live. Wilton House, a colonial plantation home on the river, hosted a holiday open house today; Griff and Xander and I went to check it out. Ok, really, we didn't go for the house, we went for the puppet show. I was hoping to get a peek at the house, too, but that will have to wait for another day. The boys loved Barefoot Puppets' "Little Red and the Gingerbread Man", a mashup of two familiar tales. (Yes, I've been watching Glee too much, I use the word "mashup" no less than three times per day. You wanna make something of it?) The audience, which consisted mostly of preschoolers and their mothers, went wild for the silly show. We had run into Amy and her daughter Afton (pictured above) there, and I think you can tell how captivated Afton was.
Griff and Xander and I enjoyed making holiday crafts after the show.
Between GardenFest and the open house, I think the 2009 Holiday Season is officially open! The advent calendar goes up on Tuesday. :o)
When it comes to cutesy kid classes, we're notorious non-joiners - while other toddlers are happily sitting still or going through the Music-Together or Gymboree paces, mine are all "f*ck that sh*t, I'm outta here." I did a brief and underwhelming mother/son swimming class with Griff when he was 2, and a futile stab at library storytime with him and again later with Reese. I ended up deciding that you know what, I can read books any time at home. We can sing and clap hands and all that stuff on our own. Checking out the interesting corrugated drain pipe and the geese in the pond outside the window and exploring the stacks is far more important and cannot be done at home. Forget this organized storytime stuff. Who expects two-year-olds to sit quietly? Did any of these librarians read a developmental text, ever? 305.23, folks.
Well, anyway, Xander the uber-social, go-with-the-flow, follow-the-leader child seems like maybe he'd actually be interested in those sorts of things, so I've occasionally considered going back to the library or taking some other kind of class with him. Problem is scheduling it around his big brothers' schedules. Then Luke and Sarah invited Xander and me to join them for a Yoga Tykes class on Tuesday mornings while the big kids are in school. The selling point: these folks understand the abilities and limitations of babies/toddlers, so while the hope is to enjoy a yogalicious good time with them, the expectation is that they might just watch, or run around shrieking, or pitch a fit, or all of the above. Sounds perfect, sign us up.
So...today was our fourth class, and I have to say, after initially finding it to be a tad too Barney-flavored for me, then thinking the shrieking-to-yoga ratio was unfavorable (I mean, there should be some yoga, right?), a week of Xander asking to do "run-around-yogi" and inspiring his brothers to beg for kitchen-floor pose demonstrations has convinced me that this class is a good fit for us. I saw a lot of actual baby yoga ("baby yogurt," according to Luke and Xander) happening in between kids stealing each other's wubbies and making bolsters into a train. Dare I say it? I might actually sign up for another session.
It was once paved with pieces of slate. I imagine it was quite pretty at some point. By the time we moved into the house, that point was more than a few years past. Roots from the maple had pushed the stone every which way, making it impossible to set a table and chairs anywhere near level on it. It was more of a broken toe waiting to happen than a peaceful retreat.
Then came the boys. Boys who love poking around and discovering bugs. And after that came a manic woman who shall remain nameless, who pulled up all the stone and stacked it on the walk along the side of the house. She planned to scuff up the dirt around the roots and re-settle the stones. Like, the next day or something. Nitwit.
Maybe it's a good thing the patio makeover hasn't happened yet, because when I got FED UP with the mess-making indoor shenanigans of two children during their brother's nap and sent them outside, I later found them quietly making mud in a hole out back. For a second I freaked internally over the mess and nearly yelled at them to get back inside but then thought, wait: the mess is already made. Ride this (totally fun and relatively harmles and ultimately clean-uppable childhood staple) pony for all it's worth! Out came the hose. And the baby brother. In the blink of an eye they all stripped down.
The fun was phenomenal, the mess was massive, and I hosed everybody down (literally) and got them into the tub before Dan got home because while he can deal with knowing that mess happened, I'm not sure he could have handled seeing the actual muck on the actual children.
This is truly the stuff that summer is made of, though...no?
Second week of Griff's and my round of Side by Side Saturdays. This week we were signed up for a fiber arts class to make a bag or pin...turned out we did the embroidery for a drawstring bag, and also did a little project for the Visual Arts Center. Each adult was given a shape like the one below on the left, and each kid was given one like the one below right, and we were asked to fill it in with something representing ourselves. Supposedly the shapes will be cut out and pieced together into a dress. I think I heard that right. A dress? Huh. Ok. Hopefully I'll remember to go check it out later, although I have no idea when it will be on view.
Ok, so then we got down to the embroidery. Have you ever transferred your own design to fabric? It's pretty cool. We sketched in pencil, then copied it onto tracing paper, then turned the tracing paper over and traced the mirror image with a transfer pen. Then we ironed it onto fabric. Nifty! Then started the real work - teaching a six-year-old how to do a backstitch. He has had a little bit of prior experience with a needle and thread, but the embroidery concept was new. We kept finding new challenges and new solutions, and in the end he had a finished design he was proud of: a piece of pizza, a macaroni noodle, and his name.
Our instructor, Tesni, took the finished pieces home to turn them into
bags, which we'll pick up next week. I wasn't done my painstakingly
tiny-stitched embroidered dinosaur (for a pouch for Reese) so I took it
home to finish on my own. I can whip up a bag, no problem, it's just
finding time for embroidery that's an issue.
Griff LOVED this project, and I love that he's so into learning different craft techniques! I also realized this week that 1.5 hours is just about his limit for sitting still. That's a LONG time for a six-year-old and speaks to his powers of concentration as well as how interesting the classes are. Still, it's funny that two weeks in a row he started *vibrating* right around the 1.5-hour mark and started using furniture in jungle-gymmy ways just before 2 hours. I think we'll wait until another year to do any of the 3-hour summer camp sessions. ;)
The weather turned a bit chilly but the skies were perfectly blue and the light had a quality to it that was like sun through honey. We supped at our place on Saturday with the Allen-Shorts and I attempted to get some pics of Ruby and Griffin while they bounced on Hop balls - no easy feat, as you can see. On Sunday the Hardy boys/man and I walked/biked/strollered the mile to Ellwood's for breakfast and a few groceries. The trip included not only pear blossoms galore, but also a sighting of a fun bus and an impromptu double diaper change that introduced us to the Ellwood's restrooms, complete with altered sign. We brought pastries back to eat on the side porch - the first time we've actually used that porch for more than bug hunting. That afternoon Griffin and Reese and I met up with Kyle, Johannah, and Brody at the Carillon tot lot. Sum for the weekend: no work, lots of play, and that's the way it sometimes should be!
Another snow day for Richmond Public Schools and Sabot. Nobody wanted to go outside today. Griff seemed to have gotten his fill of the snow yesterday and it was absolutely frigid outside, colder than yesterday. We examined our neighbors' icicles from our windows and the boys stayed in pajamas all day.
Griff has been keeping a diary of sorts on his calendar. Sunday shows snowfall. Monday shows a snowman (although, alas, the snow was too powdery to roll and one parent with three kids was not a good ratio for helping the 6 y/o to make a snow lump). Today shows snow falling off of a tree into a pile on the ground.
I remembered a project put away for a cooped-up day and brought down a bin of ancient fabric scraps, tons of ribbon, and a bag of little wooden peg people. I had been led to the peg people a long time ago by SouleMama, who inspires me every time I peek at her site. Griff and I pulled out craft glue and scissors and Sharpie markers. Behold our afternoon:
Aren't the little peg people so, so, SO cool? Everybody had fun playing in the scraps and Griff really got into decorating the people, cutting up scraps of denim to decorate them and even creating our family in effigy - right down to Xander in a clown costume for Halloween. (?!) Reese enjoyed mucking in the fabric and then took some alone time. He prefers art projects that involve paint, and we'll have to do that sometime soon.
Some of the scraps date back to my parents' early-married days and there are bits from the skirt I made for my 8th grade dinner dance, silk and velvet from my senior year prom dress, scraps from stuffed animals I made for my younger siblings. Griff was impressed with the fabric lore. The flower hats on two of the women are "treasure" collected by Griff from a craft store floor about three years ago and hoarded away by both of us.
Xander surprised me by really seeming to understand what the pegs were. He scooped handfuls of fabric scraps and wrapped them around the pegs like clothing. Later he begged me for a marker and decorated his own little guy. It's amazing how different a third child's exposure is - and also how cavalier the mom of the third child is about handing him a Sharpie marker and not caring when he gets it on his pants.
We went to The Cheesecake Factory for a late lunch on Mother's Day. The wait for a table was long but we spent it wandering the mall, so that was fine. The wait at the table for our food was another thing. Thank goodness for digital cameras. The kids are always eager to look at pictures. Three games we played to pass the time:
1. who is it? Zoom in on part of a photo stored on the camera. Ask child to guess who is in the photo. Zoom out one step at a time while they refine their guess until they can tell who it really is.
2. silly faces Not a new game for us by any stretch of the imagination. I've used this one while waiting for ages in the pediatrician's exam room. Simple game: make goofy face. Photograph it. Look at photos. Try to outdo each other.
3. where is it? Invented out of desperation.
Snap photos of items in the restaurant that you can see from you are seated. Show photo to child, ask them to find the item.
Griff loves I Spy and this was a big hit with him. Reese got into it as well.
(answer to #1: both the eye and the lips belong to Griffin)
Major development this year: Griff is suddenly much more thoughtful about the egg-dying process. He explored the relationship between length of time in the dye bath and intensity of color, and also experimented with several dip-dyed two-tone eggs.
Video below of dye prep. The smell of the vinegar was the source of much amusement.
Dan's at a sleep medicine conference Sunday - late Wednesday. Four days and four nights of mommy and the boys. Sunday we got off to a good start. Both boys wanted to learn about scanning drawings/pictures.
Reese's drawing is a "mahnamahna". He has talked about this creature for a couple of years. It does not appear to be the Muppet Show character, although the name is almost certainly inspired by that sketch. It might be a gryphon, as he frequently refers to a watercolor by Caitlin of a sleeping gryphon, given to Griff.
Griffin scanned a picture of a popsicle stick raft and printed a copy so that he could take it to school and figure out how to build it.
Other activities today: reading books in a "cozy nest" made up of mommy's bedding, and making banana muffins.
A wintery mix was predicted for this morning. As of preschool-departure time, it was just starting to fall and school had not been cancelled. Griff wanted to play in it, I did NOT want to have to pick him back up from school on bad roads if the snow got worse, so I declared a snow day.
Reese enjoyed watching from inside but didn't want to go out in snow pants. Xan-Man happily wore a hoodie and ogled toys dangling from the Gymini. Griff was psyched about wearing snow gear (a central VA boy doesn't get many opportunities) and from the back of the closet, I magically produced snow pants Grammy had bought two years ago. Perfect fit. Go, Grammy. I had to stay inside with the little boys so poor lonely Griff trudged around outside by himself, but seemed to enjoy it. He then decided to do me a favor by clearing the slush off the deck chairs. By this time the snow had turned to rain and things were getting gross. Soon the snow was gone. Glad we were home to enjoy it.
Later in the afternoon I invited G and R to bake peanut butter cookies with me. It turns out that PB cookies are the perfect activity for kids, what with the rolling balls, dipping in sugar, and squishing with forks. Griff is now a pro at criss-crossing the cookies and Reese is quickly catching on. Squish, not stab. Everybody is an expert at eating them, though!
So, on Sunday we went to a pumpkin patch run by Chesterfield Berry
Farm. I like their market stand and *needed* more pumpkin butter, so
going to their patch seemed like the right thing to do. I knew they had
some activities like a corn maze, but was totally unprepared for the
scope/magnitude. Holy capitalist venture, Batman! The
place is HUGE. Three separate enormous pumpkin fields, 7 acre corn
maze, corn cannon, duck races, farm animals, haunted house, corn pit
for playing, a Halloween/fall market (the market stand I visit is about
8 miles away), huge tent for people to eat food from their concession
stand, hay rides, moon bounce, and more. And all for $$$$$ of course. Well, we *had* to go in the corn maze, hefty ticket price or no. I
don't think I've ever been in one before, or if I have, it wasn't this
big. Here it is earlier in the year:
Can you see that it's a race car? After all, this is NASCAR country.
There were checkpoints at the front tire, door, roof, and hood with a
hole punch at each one, if you collect all 4 punches you get a prize.
Griff was enamored with "finding" corn and husking it. He kept wanting to stop and search for corn every few steps. At some
point I had to convince him that we didn't really need to *find* the
corn because really, we were completely surrounded with corn. Corn on
every stalk, corn all over the ground. It wasn't really lost or hidden. You can tell my logic worked
because I'm home now writing to you instead of husking our 9,395th ear
of corn, 10 yards into the maze.
Poor Reese was just melting down from the time we went into the maze,
and begging me "milks milks milks" so I finally gave in and plopped on
the ground. After that Dan took him and sang to him and he passed out
HARD, slept through most of the rest of the maze. Dan got the privilege
of carrying the 10-ton sleeping baby. Fortunately for him, it only took us about 1/2 hour to finish the maze because
Dan figured out that the main path is marked with orange twist ties, so
all we had to do was find the checkpoints using maps in the maze. And despite advice from several families we met in the maze, we did NOT take the cheater paths through the corn, we took the real paths. What fun is a maze if you're not actually going to do it right? Plus, people, I've got a 3-year-old to set an example for, ok?
Griff claimed his prize. My prize was trying to explain how to play a kazoo. It's harder than it sounds.
Reese perked up for the hayride, mostly because it had his favorite
thing in the world: truck truck truck truck truck truck truck. Tractor
is apparently pronounced "trucktruck". The tractor took us to his
second favorite thing in the world, pumpkins, pronounced "puppies!"
Now, some photos for you. I would have dispersed them throughout the narration but they look cool grouped together. Please notice that Dan is getting much better at taking unsolicited photos of me. Finally, proof that I exist!