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October 28, 2014

I had a birthday last week.  Not a ‘big’ one or anything, just another year in the books.

The four of us had a small cake on the day itself, and the extended family came over on Friday for a larger dinner and cake.

Saturday night Larry and I went out to dinner – ALONE.  We were trying to remember the last time we had a date NIGHT, not a date afternoon…no clue.  Maybe last anniversary?

Anyway, it was lovely.

Then on Sunday we got down to business in the kitchen; we’re beginning a renovation.

It’s been nine years plus, so we have a good idea of what we want.  New cabinets, counters, and floor, definitely.  Changing the pantry into a combination laundry closet-pantry, yes please.  And adding a half-bathroom is an absolute must, although that requires moving the back door.

We picked out the cabinets and counters a week ago, and will place the official order tomorrow.  The contractor just left, measurements for doors and windows in-hand.  He tells me it will happen in phases, with Phase 1 being the back section of the kitchen.

So for the first time in nine years plus, we cleared everything off the pantry shelves, and then cleared out the pantry shelves.


Then we cleared out all the cubbies in the back hall, future site of the downstairs bathroom.



In its current location the back door opens to a landing on the side of the house, with one set of steps leading to the street and the other leading to the backyard; it is inefficient at best.  The new back door will open directly into the yard, in a wall between these two sections of back kitchen that until recently was the home of our microwave cart.


(that wallpaper was only exposed today; it was covered by panelling until about 3 this afternoon).

So, you can expect to see renovation photos over the next several weeks.  I’m hoping this will all be finished by Christmas.  But we’ll see…


October 21, 2014

Larson turned four on Thursday.

We did one present and a small cake for him with just the four of us.  Oh, and we switched him out of a car seat and into a booster seat.




On Saturday we had the extended family over for a party.  Theme:  Sonic the Hedgehog







Then on Sunday, we went to Boo at the Zoo.



Alistair is a Land Shark, and Larson is Dash from the Incredibles.




In an update to a previous post, Larson is mostly settled in to school now; there are no more tears at drop-off.

This weekend he had his first school project – make a sharing board about his family.  He brought it today.


October 14, 2014

I guess I’ve let things slide on the blog a bit.  Sorry!

Larson started preschool earlier in October.  I wish I could say that he was all smiles from the first day, but it isn’t true.

He his mood started to darken in the car on the way over.


But he was okay walking through the parking lot and up to the door.


But we were a little early, and I guess he had time to digest what was about to happen.



Real tears.  Ugh.

The second week was more of the same – I tried lingering in the classroom, then leaving immediately.  My dad dropped him off instead of me, and he also tried lingering vs leaving right away.  All to no avail.  Tears, sobbing, clinging, the whole separation misery routine.  Ugh.

The teachers have been champions.  They say that he calms down within a few minutes of my departure, and that he is a dream for the rest of the day.  He is unfailingly all smiles by the time I pick him up.  The teachers say this is routine, and that he’ll get the hang of it in another week or two.  And I do believe that.  It’s just – the guilt, the horrible mommy guilt.  Leaving a building and hearing your child crying for you as you leave him behind is one of the worst feelings.  Ugh.

Today I let him bring his Mario and Luigi plushies in his backpack, and he was finished crying before I left the room.  Progress!  I’ll take it.


Speaking of progress…may I present the first completed Christmas knitting of 2014.


It’s for Larry.  I have three more hats and then seven ornaments to go.  The ornaments have to be done by Thanksgiving, but I’m not too worried.  Yet.  I’ve even started a non-Christmas project.  For myself.


This yarn has been in my stash since approximately 2007.  It was originally part of a kit for a stole, but at this point I can’t even guess where the printout is.  It will become a cowl.

Lastly, I wanted to tell you that Alistair’s art classes have resumed for the fall.  He brought home this still life last week, and I love it so much I framed it and hung it at my desk at work.



September 29, 2014

We’ve had a great September so far – this past weekend was in the 80’s.

Nonetheless, we Smiths are ready for autumn.  We went apple picking on Saturday.  In shorts.









September 23, 2014

Sunday was Medford Community Day.

There were pony rides, an assortment of vehicles for Touch a Truck (including the original Batmobile!), food vendors and many, many community group tables.  I manned Alistair’s school’s table for a bit.

But the biggest attraction of the day was the Parade of Flags.  They got nine giant flags, and enough volunteers to hold them.  Well, almost enough volunteers – at the last minute they were scrambling, so we stepped in and helped with Flag #8.




Being involved in the spectacle means you don’t really get to see the spectacle – I had to wait til this photo was published yesterday (courtesy of


It was pretty impressive.

Plus we got free tee shirts, woohoo!!



September 16, 2014

We are slowly slowly getting into the groove of our routine.  Mornings are beginning to go a little more smoothly, there are less arguments over homework and reading time, and things are generally just regular, in the best possible way.

Of course it won’t last.  But allow me to bask in the glory of ‘easy’ for the time being; Larson starts preschool next Thursday and we’ll have to start all over.



September 10, 2014

Here we are in September.  My kids say the first day of school is really the end of summer, but it’s just not true.  The sun is still strong and high, and Alistair has worn shorts to school every day so far.

Still, there’s a certain crispness to the morning air, and while I’m not ready for pumpkin spice anything*, I am willing to begin considering the comfort foods of autumn.

Yesterday I made pasta e fagioli (it’s my all-time favorite meal) and posted a photo of my dinner on Facebook, and a few people asked for the recipe.  Which means that it probably should be posted here too.  So here you go.

Pasta e Fagioli

4 tablespoons olive oil
diced pancetta – four slices if you have slices, or one package of the diced stuff they sell in the imported meats section of the grocery store
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, or a few shakes of dried rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme, or a few shakes of the dried stuff
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, or a few good scoops of the minced stuff in the jar
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (or great northern beans if that’s all you can find), drained
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 box ditalini pasta
salt and pepper

(Optional, but awesome:  the heel of a piece of salty cheese – Parmesan, Romano, or Pecorino.  You only need an inch or so, but it makes all the difference)

for the table:
grated Parmesan, Romano, or Pecorino cheese
Italian or Scali bread

1.  In a big pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the pancetta.
2.  Once the pancetta is brown and your kitchen smells like heaven, add the the herbs, vegetables and garlic.  Add salt and pepper, and let it go for a few minutes, until the onions start to soften up.
3.  Add the beans and the stock, and turn the heat up to high.  (If you have the heel of cheese, put it in now.)
4.  Once the soup is at a rapid boil, add the pasta.  Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium, and let it go until the pasta is cooked – about 8 minutes or so.  If you have used fresh herbs, pull the stems out (all the leaves have fallen off).  If you had the cheese, pull that out now too.
5.  Turn the heat off and let the pot sit for a few minutes before lading into bowls.

Boom – done.


* I am not a fan of the (artificial) flavor of pumpkin spice.  Not in beer, not in coffee, not in muffins.  I like pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup, and that’s about it.


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