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Friday, November 21, 2014

{Playing Catch-Up}: Ree at Four Months

Memories of Miss Marie at four months old have been taunting me from their various locations: a scrap of paper, a note on my iPhone, a blog draft left unfinished.  Time to remedy that and get caught up on chronicling this girl's growth!

Around three months, this baby girl was taking a nice long nap at least once a day, in addition to a few shorter ones.  Nicely and predictably.  I'm talking 3-4 hours long.  Yesssss.

And then around four months, she wasn't anymore.   Just shorter ones.  Not quite so good in terms of me getting things done.  But we kept loving her anyway.

She was rolling from her tummy to her back lots.

And she finally started taking a pacifier.

Pacifiers!  I go back and forth on whether I think they're awesome or a crutch that will become a difficulty in the long run, but with my work schedule picking up again in September, I figured babysitters and Daddy needed some options at their disposal.  So, enter the pacifier.  Previously disregarded by Ree, she decided it was actually a reasonably nice thing to have.


the swaddle
the ring sling
being held, specifically, facing outwards


being left alone for even a moment


The usual nicknames continue (Ree, Ree-Ree, Riesling, Baby Ree)

And then there's "Murray," which is how Marie comes out when your two-year-old says it continually with the emphasis on the wrong syllable.  So sometimes I like to go with that one.

her personal cheer:

"Ba-by Ree! Ba-by Ree!"  It gets chanted around here a lot - particularly by the enthusiastic and doting big sister - and is always met with a big grin from the recipient.

* * *

And that was our finger-chewing, drool-dribbling, coo-emitting Ree girl at four months of age, more or less.

{I probably wrote down somewhere how much she weighed at her four month checkup, but I don't remember and I can't find it.  Maybe my friend Cara, who remembers such things -- yes, even about other people's kids -- will comment and tell me.  I think it was 14ish pounds!}

{P.S. Previously: Nell at four months}

Friday, November 14, 2014

a little girl and her first violin

Nell has been watching me play and teach the violin since she was a newborn.  As a baby, she sometimes sat in her swing while I taught lessons, until she was old enough {i.e. mobile and / or noisy!} that she really needed to be with a sitter during those times.  Nowadays she often wanders into the music room when I'm teaching, first waiting at the doorway for an approving nod from me that she can come in.  She knows she must sit quietly if she wants to be with me, and she sometimes chooses to do that for a bit before returning to her play with her sitter.

I have a little pencil sharpener shaped like a violin, and for several months now, she has frequently asked to hold it.  She happily exclaims, "wee-wee-wahn!" (violin!), and tucks that tiny little thing under her chin.

So, when I was placing an order of sheet music and teaching supplies and the like from Johnson String Instrument earlier this week, I decided to add on one of their little cardboard violins with bow.  For $10.95, I thought she would get some enjoyment out of it and it would be well worth it.

The package arrived yesterday afternoon, as Nell was just coming out of two days of a high fever and cough.  Poor girlie.  I eagerly opened the box, thinking that little violin might bring her some happiness.  It was easy to assemble, and I presented it to her, explaining, "I got you a special pretend violin to play!"

She was so excited.  She asked me to help her tuck it under her chin, and she quickly moved the wooden bow across the ink-printed "strings."  Her enthusiasm vanished as quickly as it had come, and she gave me the saddest look, and carefully set the "violin" down on the floor.  Silently, she walked into our TV room and climbed into Nathan's recliner, dejected.  I followed her in there and said, "Nell, you don't have to play with the violin if you don't like it.  It's okay."

She looked up at me, and her eyes filled with tears, and she said, "Not workin'!"

Oh my goodness, my heart just about broke.

I guess I should have put a little more emphasis on the "pretend" and a little less on the "violin" when I presented it to her.

We talked about it, and I explained how it was just for pretending, and she could imagine the music or sing it while she held the violin if she wanted to.  In a few minutes, she was ready to give the cardboard violin a second chance -- and this time around, she loved it.  She loved it so much she wanted to wrap it in a blanket with her while we read her bedtime story.

And today, it occupied her for more than an hour!  She played it by herself, then "played" along with me on over a dozen songs, turning pages of sheet music on the music stand in between songs and instructing me "This one, Mama," while pointing with her little bow.  She cried when I told her she couldn't take the violin into her bed for her nap because it might get squashed.  And later in the afternoon, when I ran out to the grocery store, she "played" along with Nathan as he played songs on the piano for her.  And she played it again while I made dinner.  I think she is loving getting to participate in her own small way in the music-making that is so often going on around here.

At one point this afternoon, she started looking down at her right elbow as she played, lifting it a bit higher, and saying, "Elbow up, elbow up."  I guess she's observing more than I realize when she sits in on those violin lessons... I do indeed have a few students with perpetually sagging bow elbows who receive frequent reminders about it!

I caught a few moments of her playing her "violin" on video.  I couldn't help myself.

{She could probably learn to pronounce the word "violin" correctly now, but I still love hearing her say "wee-wee-wahn" the way she has for so long.  I can't quite bring myself to correct her on it just yet.}

Oh, how we love that girl.

P.S. -- Disclaimer for those violinists out there.  Yes, I am aware that she isn't holding either part of the equation properly.  No, I am not yet attempting to teach my 2.5 year old at this time... just letting her have fun with her own version of her mother's much-coveted musical instrument.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nell-isms vol. 2

Last time I did a post {my first one} of Nell-isms, it was really all about the language development.  But as that keeps growing by leaps and bounds, I'm realizing her wit and humor and personality are shining through more and more now, too.

Nell has an affinity for following me into the bathroom, where she offers commentary and encouragement as {not}needed.  Fun fun.  Recently, I sat down without realizing that her toddler potty seat was still lowered.

[Side note: we have a Bemis Elongated NextStep Slow Closing Potty Seat, which I highly recommend if you have little ones!  It's basically a small seat that folds down from up inside the lid of a regular seat, so everything is attached and all in one place - super convenient and easy to use.]

I laughed out loud and said to her, "I sat down on your little potty seat!  That was a surprise!  It's a seat made for little bums!"

She smiled at me sweetly and replied, "Yeah, Nell have little bum.  Baby Ree have teeny tiny bum.  Mommy have big bum."

Toddlers.  No one ever promised they were good for your self-esteem.

A few days ago I was running the garbage disposal, and Nell kept saying, "No-why.  No-why."

Sarah: I'm not sure what you're saying.  Try again?
Nell: No-why.  No-why.
Sarah: I can't understand you; I'm sure that must be frustrating!  One more time?
Nell: *pointing to garbage disposal area of sink, which was turned off by this point* Noiii!
Sarah: OH! Are you saying 'noise'?  Because of the garbage disposal making noise?
Nell: No, noi.  Just one.

And my mind was pretty much blown with that one, folks.  Because of course, the S makes the word plural!  And my two-and-a-half year old has that all figured out.

I've had a string of bad luck with my health recently, first an injury to my lower back, then sleeping on my neck funny resulted in several days of pretty severe pain, and then my left shoulder succumbed to what I finally diagnosed as "Mom Spine."  It comes from sleeping in strange positions and lugging children around and other such things.  

Anyway, I told Nell I couldn't lift her because my shoulder was hurting, and she said, "Oh I'm so sorry.  I'm so so sorry.  I'm going to bring you a toy to make you feel all dubbuh ("better").  Make you so happy!"

What a sweetie.

* * *

Nell: Bye bye, Mommy.
Sarah: Bye! Where are you going? I'll miss you!
Nell: I'm going to a restaurant with mine friends.
Sarah: ...
Nell: laughs hysterically as though she has made a great joke.

A few weeks ago I said I loved her, and then asked, suddenly curious, "Do you know what love is, Nell?" 

And she just looked clearly into my eyes and answered, "God."

Either she's somehow already aware that "God," "Jesus," and "The Bible" are always considered good answers in certain circles, or it was a coincidence, or... well, "a little child shall lead them."

* * *

She does want to talk about God a lot lately, and she's quite enamored with finding him in her picture books -- even though I've told her we don't have any pictures of God, since the Bible tells us no one has ever seen God, so no one knows what he looks like.  Still, she won't give up, and points to person after person: "That God, Mommy?"  "No, that's Joseph..."  "That God, Mommy?"  "That's Daniel..." etc.

* * *

And last night, after reading her a few sections from her Jesus Storybook Bible (such a wonderful book, and probably still a bit above her head, but she loves reading it with me and sometimes it makes me choke up, I love it that much), Nell said to me, "Mine Jesus book, Mommy.  Jesus loves me."

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Butternut Squash, Arugula, Caramelized Onion, & Feta Quiche

Shortly after Marie was born, a friend from church brought us a delicious meal including a spinach quiche.  Quiche!  Why don't I think to make quiches more often?  Our two-year-old loved the "egg pie" and devoured several pieces over the following days, spinach and all!

I've made quiche a couple of times since then, with a particular fondness for a zucchini and caramelized onion one I made in August.  I tend to approximate my ingredients, based loosely on Julia Child's quiche but with any ingredients I like instead of the bacon (um, I'm a vegetarian).  I also find that I need another egg or two (her recipe calls for just three) to fill up a pie plate!

Earlier this week I made two quiches: a bacon one for my meat-eating, vegetable-hating husband, and a vegetarian one for Nell and myself.  People, it was so good I was literally raving about it to an audience of one: myself.  Yes, it's probably pathetic to compliment one's own cooking, but when your toddler doesn't give you too many kudos and your husband can't quite comprehend why anyone would want to eat something with vegetables in it, sometimes you have to just give yourself a pat on the back.  This quiche required some serious back-patting.

Here's a recipe for you, sort of.  If you make it, tell me what you think!

Butternut Squash, Arugula, Caramelized Onion, & Feta Quiche

1 pie crust, either homemade or store-bought.  I used one from Trader Joe's, because I can't do it all on days when I work right up until dinnertime!

4-5 eggs (I honestly can't remember how many I used.  Ridiculous!  Just see what looks right.)
1 c. cream (or milk, if you want it to be less delicious)
2 c. cubed butternut squash (aim for bite-sized pieces)
1 sweet or yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 handfulls of fresh arugula, either whole or torn into pieces
Approximately 3-4 oz. of crumbled feta (I had a 6 oz. container and put about half in this quiche.  Oh, and I'm sure goat cheese would be delicious, too!)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
dash of nutmeg

First, par-bake your pie crust for 7 or 8 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  (Or make a crustless quiche if you prefer, and omit the crust altogether.)

Caramelize your onion in a bit of butter in a pot or saute pan.  Keep it cooking over low heat until it is nice and brown and the whole house smells lovely.  Set aside.

Cook your squash by sauteing over medium heat (or you could roast it in the oven with a little olive oil!) with a drizzle of olive oil until it is tender, about 10-12 minutes.  Set aside.

Whisk together your eggs, cream, salt, and pepper.  Add crumbled cheese and handfuls of arugula.  Finally, add your caramelized onions and cooked squash, after they have cooled slightly.  Poor mixture into pie crust.

Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes or until center is well set when tested with a knife.  Mine took a bit on the longer side, but I had two quiches in the oven, so your baking time may vary.

Cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

It's delicious as leftovers the next morning for breakfast, too!

And I promise -- it's way tastier than my poor iPhone photos can possibly convey.