June in New Jersey

It has been a while since I’ve posted, most directly as a result of my new site The Two R’s.  Here you’ll find my take on reading and writing (not so much the ‘rithmetic).  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and with Amos’s help in setting up the site, I was finally able to make it happen.

But in the meantime, we have of course still been having lots of fun here in NJ on the weekends!  Recently we visited the Central Park Zoo in NYC, walked the galleries and used book shops in Lambertville, NJ, saw the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, played sprinklers and water sensory boxes in our swimsuits in the yard, and of course visited the awesome local farmer’s market every Sunday.  The girls and I like summer life, and we especially love it when it’s not 100+ degrees every day for six months out of the year.  I can take the recent heat wave that seems to be affecting almost the entire United States as long as that mess fades before Christmas.

For your viewing pleasure, and since I still have a folder marked “Edit These” with about 300 photos lingering on my desktop, here is Hazel singing a Parliament song (“I know what you can do / let me lay some funk on you”) and another of my big girl Julia walking like a boss at the park.


My semester is over, and so school work happens at a much slower pace.  During the couple of hours everyday that Julia naps, I totally embrace the summer like I’m a 20-year-old coed, which means a lot of string cheese snacks and naps on the couch.  I think the last semester was extra trying on my rusty 29-year-old brain.  Seriously, can you believe that?  I’m 29 – TWENTY NINE YEARS OLD.  I’m officially at the age that I thought was, like, superly totally OLD when I was 15.  And maybe it’s the superly total oldness, or maybe the full-time parenting with two insanely energetic kids, combined with the brain aerobics I was working all semester, but I’m just fried.  I can barely make a sentence right now.  Type hard it be.

Just for fun – McGrumpfacerton

But if I’m going to make the next 50 years of my oldness less dusty and worth living, a girl’s gotta have goals.  So I’ve been working on a paper on the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca (1938) and the Hitchcock adaptation of the same title (1940), and early this morning at about 1 AM I submitted the final draft to an academic journal that focuses on work with a feminist perspective.  I’m so nervous and excited – I’ve finally started that long, damning slide into rejection after rejection that is academic publishing!

So all I’ve really done since my break is rewrite that paper, chop about 800 words from it, write a biography (it felt very pretentious – have you ever had to boild yourself down into about 100 words, in 3rd person?  tres weirdo), and discover Spotify.  You can just look up anything you’ve ever heard and play it.  It’s kind of amazing, and I’ve been in a Tears for Fears and Lisa Loeb 90’s coma all day.  I have an unironic, deep-seated love of the Tears for Fears jam “Head Over Heels,” and now Hazel does too.  Raising kids is all about nurturing those seeds, y’all.

So I’ll be back regularly now, although honestly we’re being very boring.  Hazel requested full-time preschool, so she’s gone everyday, and Julia sleeps almost more than her Uncle Nick, which is just barely possible.  It’s amazing and strange.  Mostly, then, I do work when I’m not staring at the wall in a post-graduate haze, and who really wants to hear me drone on about Hamlet and Donne and Moby Dick?

Of course you do.

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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!

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!!!

The Beginning of the Summer

This was the best picture I could get in the blazing sun

With the temperature steadily in the 90s, I feel like summer has truly begun down here.  The fruit and veg I’m seeing at the market is starting to get truly exciting again, the sprinkler has been out several times already, and I have herbs exploding all over my back patio.  I might sweat like a trucker, but I do love what the crazy summer heat does to our little herbs out there.  Plus I LOVE how summer smells…mint, citrus, grass, coconut, suntan lotion, mojitos, BBQ, yeeeeeeeesssss.

Daddy and Julia

To kickstart our summer, we visited Nana and Papaw’s pool twice in one weekend!  Even Julia joined in on the fun.  Though she’s making a kind of old lady sourpuss in this picture, she really enjoyed the water, not complaining at all about the relative coolness of the water.  It’s so fun to go through all these firsts again!  Hazel’s only 2 1/2, but it feels like her first experiences are slowing down.  The absolute wonder and discovery of a child’s life is one of the coolest things about being a parent; you not only get to watch them find out all these things about life, but you get to introduce them to it!  And they think you’re some kind of magician!!  So fun.

Now that I feel like I’m coming out of the pregnancy/newborn haze, I’m hoping that Hazel, Julia, and I can have some fun adventures this summer.  There are all kinds of crafts I want to do with Hazel, and I think she may be old enough and have enough cognizance to do more than just color and do simple play.  Father’s Day is approaching, and while Amos may not be too interested in celebrating any holiday, I hope to make something with Hazel for him that he will enjoy.  Oh, and we are TOTALLY doing an antipasto dinner that night!  Any excuse to buy fancy cheese, anchovies, and wine is an excuse I’m taking!

Summer Traveling

After being away from Alabama too long, we have been doing some extensive traveling this summer!  My latest trip was the first one I've taken with Hazel alone.  She and I went down to Chelsea to spend the night with our best friends Amy and Lola.  Amy and I have been friends for about 15 years now, and our daughters, at about 18 months apart, are destined to be BFFs too.  This was my first chance to see Amy's new house, also.  Hazel and I had an awesome time – pizza, spaghetti (I think we taught Lola to say "pasta" instead!  lol), lots of playing, and even some TV-watching.  It was blistering outside, so we couldn't get the girls out much, but they didn't seem to mind.  My tired pregnant butt didn't mind it either!  It was about 105 the entire time we were down!  We could only stay for one night, but we had a super blast.


While I was down that way I also went shopping for maternity clothes at Old Navy.  That store got me through my first pregnancy, and I was super bummed to learn that no Old Navy up here offers maternity.  Luckily this store was about 15 minutes from Amy's house, so I combined the trips!  I came away with some really nice things, too.  Bonus:  nothing was full price AND I had to buy smaller sizes than my last pregnancy!!!  
All right, enough jibber-jabber.  I am off to make some veggie steamed dumplings for this week's family get-together.  The theme this week is finger foods, so after wracking my brain for a bit, I came up with the idea for this dumplings.  I always try to bring something delicious and heavy on the veggies, since I have some family members who – ahem – aren't the most interested in vegetables.  This recipe will, I think, win them over!

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More Hazel

One of her recently, although from her outfit you might think this was taken in the 70's.
And this was earlier this summer, in St. Louis.  Her grandparents spoil her 😉
And this was taken just today.  Hazel took the casual Friday dress code at her Daddy's workplace maybe a little too seriously.

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Yesterday we initiated Hazel into an awesome summer tradition:  backyard sprinkler fun!!  Once she got the idea, she was hilarious!

PlayingPlaying in the Sprinkler

In fact, it looked so fun that Amos jumped in as well!

She had a great time and stayed until she was almost shivering, which is no mean feat for late June in Alabama.  And, as a bonus, here's a video of Hazel singing her ABC song in the middle of her breakfast.  She always sings a different version, and I suppose this would be the abridged one.  When we sing it together she gets quite a few parts of it right!  

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Playing Ball

Vacation Weekend: Take One

This past week Hazel and I settled more into our routine.  I went through the house like a maniac on Thursday, unpacking and hanging up wall art, until almost everything is in its new, proper place.  While doing so we were rocking out to some jams, some of which Hazel particularly liked:
By the way, can the still image for that video be any more goofy-looking??  LOL
After all this we began to prepare for our trip to St. Louis.  Every year the women on my mother-in-law's side get together for a tea party, a tradition that is sweet and fun and Hazel & I wanted to attend!  So we're getting all packed up, and literally 10 minutes before we walk out of the door, Amos (finally) calls his mom to touch base before the trip, and she tells us that the tea party is NEXT WEEKEND.  She wasn't expecting us whatsoever, and here we were, ready to put the rubber to the road!  After a quick meeting we all decided that we should just come up anyway.  After all, we're only 7 or so hours away instead of 22, so we can handle two weekends in a row!  Thus we have a two-part vacation with some normal work stuff tossed in the middle 🙂
Saturday, since Jim and Nancy had a scheduled band job, we decided to take Hazel to The Magic House.  This is the biggest and best children's museum I have ever been to!  It's been a St. Louis staple for the past thirty years, so while Amos has memories of visiting as a child, there has been so much more added and updated that it was new even to him.  Hazel had the BEST TIME.  She was running and jumping and playing like a crazed woman.  
This is Hazel playing on the musical chairs, which was the first thing we saw inside.  Her expression clearly shows the "holy moly I can do whatever I want in here" revelation that's running through her brain at that moment.  
Magic HouseMagic HouseMagic HouseMagic House

Obviously we'll be taking her there again.  She didn't even go outside of the little kids area; we still have a good 3/4 of the place to see, I would guess.  After a couple of hours here, which included a trip to the gift shop for some fun toys that I'm putting aside for her birthday, we headed back for a very long nap.
The rest of our trip was low-key, which was perfect.  We spent time out in Nancy and Jim's spectacular garden; we even headed home with some uprooted day lilies ready for replanting in our yard.  Next weekend we will be attending both a graduation party and the ladies' tea, so it will a whole 'nother kind of trip!  We are some lucky ducks, living fairly close to St. Louis again.
Is she smiling there?  Maybe?  LOL

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