I’ve been gone for a while, but all that hard work has paid off in the form of not very ripped-up papers and some hard-earned grades.  Now I’m feeling the 80 degree heat here in Jersey, and I’m looking forward to the summer.  These three monkeys are too!

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Turn the Light On

Julia has apparently learned a new trick!  I was lying on my bed, reading while she napped, and I heard these scritchy scratches on the wall.  I looked up and saw her light flickering through the crack under her door.  I was all THIS HOUSE IS HAUNTED for a minute before realizing it was probably her.

This morning I was talking to Hazel about my coming to her preschool to read a Dr. Seuss book in honor of Dr. Seuss Week.  She knows I work at home, or really go to school at home, but that’s about all she knows.  So, I said to her, “Did you know I’m a writer too?  That’s what I do right now – I read and write, and later I’ll teach other people how to do that.”

“Really?  You just write?  I want to be a writer when I grow up, just like you.”

Thinking how sweet it was to hear that, I said, “I can’t wait to read your books.”

“Hmmm, what do you write?  What kinds of books?”

“I write things about other books; I read them, then I write about them for other people.”

Laughing, she replied, “What?!  Who would read THAT?”

She’s a perceptive little genius, she is.  This little exchange made my day.

 

Right now I’m eating dinner, editing photos, watching the girls take a bath, and writing this post.  Busy isn’t even the right word; it carries no sense of imminent doom or driving impetus to finish work that more closely resembles the four horsemen of the apocalypse than it does motivation.  But look at this girl; I just had to share.

Little Girls

All Hallow’s Eve

Or whatever!

In the middle of all this goofy are we moving, okay when, okay we still don’t really know exactly, we don’t have a house there yet business, the holiday season began.  And yeah, I think Halloween marks the beginning of three super fun holidays (Thanksgiving gets points for being smooshed in between two cooler holidays), culminating in CHRISTMAS!  I love Christmas, people.  Anyway, I would have just skipped this holiday except I have a three-year-old and a new baby in need of a 1st Halloween costume, and so we did it up, Confer style.

Typical family portrait, and typical Confer costumes.  Hazel’s was particularly fun this year, I think.  Since she’s old enough to really express herself, I thought it would be fun to let her design her costume.  She came up with this idea, which is a pink monster with white polka dots and two sets of ears (one big girl, one mouse).  The bow, though, is because we’re growing her bangs out.

Julia was a muscle man!!  She kept eating and eating on that belt.  I thought she might find her little chest hairs, but nope – just the belt.  I took the girls trick or treating at the shops yesterday, then we picked up Amos from work.  Instead of going door-to-door after that, we opted to take Hazel to Glace for an ice cream treat and next door to the Apple store for a treat (a keychain) and to play on the ipad (her favorite thing).  I was hoping Hazel would choose flavors that are seasonal and kind of Halloweeny, but I don’t know why.  Sometimes I have these really domestic thoughts, like I’m going to switch out all our bathroom and bedroom decor for all matchy seasonal ones and everyone will take Christmas photos wearing matching red and white sweaters with deer knitted into them.  I don’t know where they come from – leftover HCGC reserves? – but I was having one MAJOR last night.  I was all, “what flavors do you want?  Roasted pumpkin, banana, maybe squash, even rum raisin?”  And she looked right at the server and said “I want that blue cheese one and the spicy chocolate.”  When she says stuff like that, it snaps me right out of those weird SkyMall fantasies and back into our real world, the one where she orders blue cheese and spicy chocolate and eats them together.

It’s Never Too Early

With our current living situation (ahem – tiny apartment covered in white gray carpet that only currently houses about 1/3 of our worldly possessions), sometimes things to do evade both Hazel and I.  I’m nervous about messing up the carpet and having to pay for it, and I hesitate to set up any permanent play stations for several reasons.  After a while, crayons and washable markers, even these window markers I bought, start to pale somewhat.  We are outside everyday, for at least a couple of hours, jumping and swinging and sliding at the playground nearby, but our inside activities needed a boost.  Since Hazel loves to read, I decided we should try our hand at making a book of our very own.

I tend to become more regimented, organized, and clean when I’m feeling stressed, and our current situation stresses me out quite a bit, so I think Hazel sees me only in that role.  I’m constantly cleaning up this apartment; it’s just too small for any mess to exist if we’re going to walk around without breaking our ankles.  She’s too young to see my creative side; my taking photos and knitting are just things Mama does to her, I’m sure, and I don’t know how old she’ll have to be before she can understand the creativity that goes into the work I do at school.  It worries me.  I don’t want her to feel constricted, and so I thought this activity would allow her space to stretch her imagination, draw, work on numbers and letters, and help to focus her attention for a longer time on one activity.

She did not disappoint!  Her story evolves a bit over time, but the words are hers.  She is so proud of her little missive,   but not possibly more than I am!  This is SO going in her keepsake box.  I look forward to the day I can whip this bad boy out…maybe at her Pulitzer Prize award celebration or something 😉

Happy Father’s Day

There are some holidays that I don’t get too worked up about; stuff like Labor Day just doesn’t really get me going.  Amos, though, takes holiday apathy to a-WHOLE-nother level.  That guy, if he had his way, would not celebrate anything from President’s Day to Christmas.  It particularly bothers him, he says, when presents are expected.  He’d rather give and receive gifts on the fly, not dictated by the day on the calendar.  I get it, I truly do, but now that we have kids, and especially one old enough to realize what all this stuff means, we’ve made sure to celebrate every birthday and holiday in some way.  With the small, notable exception of Mother’s Day.  He didn’t acknowledge that at all beyond saying, “Happy Mother’s Day” in the morning.  I get that’s his thing, but I was totally let down.  Plus, it turned out to be one of those awful parenting days where everyone is crying, running away in public, not napping, and just being irritable.

Neither girl could sit still!

Because Father’s Day comes after Mother’s Day, I thought briefly (ok, maybe for longer than I’d like to admit) about wreaking some kind of karmic vengeance for the screamy holiday I had.  But really, I thought I would use this as an opportunity to show Amos how we can exploit these kinds of holidays to do the fun stuff that we really like but don’t do that often.  Soooooo, I planned a fancy antipasto dinner for Amos (really for all of us).  As a gift, I bought him a natural foods cookbook (used, $5 with shipping, and totally rocking) and helped Hazel make him a shirt that reads, “Hazel Loves Daddy.”  She also made a tank top for herself and a onesie for Julia.

We had SUCH a lovely time!  This antipasto was one of the funnest meals we have ever had.  Because it was for our dinner rather than an appetizer, I made sure to have a couple choices for each of the basic antipasto elements.  Here’s a rundown of the menu –

Fruit:  heirloom tomatoes, cantaloupe, and cherries (all served at room temp, thankyouverymuch)

Meat:  speck, an aged soppressata, and anchovy fillets

Veg:  roasted cauliflower, asparagus, a roasted pepper salad, and artichoke hearts tossed with sundried tomatoes and fresh thyme

Cheese:  Shropshire blue, a young manchego, and a 2-year-old aged gouda

It was just lovely.  Nothing was really difficult to put together, either.  In fact, most of the food just needed to be basic prepped, like slicing the melon.  The veg I just roasted in the broiler with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and the roasted pepper salad that actually required a recipe was just mincing a bunch of delicious stuff up together.  We toasted with prosecco, which I thought was an excellent palate cleanser for this type of meal.  Hazel went nuts (check out this hilarious video of her, plus my first attempt at subtitles for her!), probably because she got to stay up a whole hour and a half past her normal bedtime.  It was one of the best nights we’ve had together as a family, and I just love that I got to be a part of it with those lovely people that make up my family.

Encouraging the Messy

Hold on to your seats, kids, but I have a confession:  I don’t like to be messy.  SHOCKING, right?  Um, yes, I do know that I have an unhealthy obsession with being neat.  It’s actually kind of a blessing, really; my house stays clean without my being all obsessive compulsive about it should it get dirty.  That’s how I try to see it, anyway!  But lately I’ve noticed that streak in Hazel, too.  I don’t know if I’m unconsciously training her to be this way or if it’s passed on in my genetic material, but I have started to worry just a smidge about it.  I want her to feel creative without restraint at times; we can always clean it up later, right?  So yesterday I pulled out the fingerpaints for the first time at our house, both in the spirit of being messy and to make Daddy a painting for Father’s Day.

But then he showed up, so we abandoned the Father’s Day bit and just focused on the messy!  Hazel had kind of a hard time with getting her hands dirty – at first.  She got more into it when Amos and I participated as well.  After one painting she was done, though I think it had more to do with wanting to get into the sprinkler than it did being worried about messiness.  I’m looking forward to trying out more projects with Hazel that foster development of right brain activities; I’m definitely a creative person, but I know I’m held back by wanting to be neat, in control, and logical.  I don’t want to put that on Hazel (or Julia), but really want to provide an environment where she can try out all kinds of different things to see what suits her best.  Maybe, though her experimentation, I can loosen up a bit myself!!!

Random Hazel

What a cutie pie, right?  She’s so willing to take pictures, and so when I needed a model for this quick hat for a friend, she was more than happy to oblige!

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