June 30, 2007

More fun at the carousel

Right next to the carousel is a playground with Lara's favorite seesaw. Quick question - what exactly happened to the old-school seesaws we all grew up with and loved? The ones that you could use to smash the entire spinal colummn of your fellow seesawer by kicking off the ground with your feet really fast? I feel like my youth is betrayed by the new safe (read: lame) seesaws that no longer pose any kind of threat to life and limb. Anyway, Lara loves this one:

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Also, Lara loves to snack. She used to like to have both hands full of food and then to ask for us to put more right in her mouth - you know, so that she would always have a reserve in case the snack situation took a downturn. We were trying to combat this by saying, "eat what's in your hand first, then you'll get more" but in response to that Lara started just cramming everything in her tiny fists into her mouth at once and yelling "mah! mah" (more!) at us through her mouth full of food. Now we started to just give her the whole bag.

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You might not be able to tell from this little face, but Lara has become quite the tiny tyrant around here. For a while she took to imperiously pointing with her finger at a chair and yelling "mama! mama!" insistently until mama came and sat in her appointed place. This was actually pretty amusing, but I'm afraid that our reaction has only made her napoleonic tendencies more prominent. Yesterday, Misha was playing with her in her room, and I came in to hang out with them also. Lara proceeded to bodily push me out of the room all the way through the door while saying "no no no no," then laughed, turned around and ran back to daddy. Today, she climbed up on our bed and when Misha lay down next to her, she pushed him off, pointing to the floor and saying "dada! dah'n!"

I guess it's true what they say about absolute power...

June 29, 2007

Drawing Portfolio

This is going to be a present for someone in the near future - a take-along drawing case with some colored pencils and a sketch pad that fastens with snaps at the corners. The outside fabric is from baby gifts Lara never actually wore.

Drawing folder with pencils and paper (outside)

The inside is yet another swath of those wonderful knockabout pants that have been remade into so many projects already.

Drawing case with pencils and paper (inside)

The covers are padded with felt to make them a little stiffer. I guess normally one would use interfacing for this purpose, but since one of my crafting tenets has been "no new materials," I made do with what I had around the house. Worked out nicely, if I do say so myself.

Speaking of no new materials - I am very excited that almost immediately after joining Freecycle, I will be the proud receiver of some unused fabric that a nearby woman does not want. I have no idea what it looks like; her post just said that she had a variety of things. I'm really sort of unreasonably excited about it, I have to say - I mean, for all I know it's going to be hideous. But honestly, it's like a birthday present in the middle of year for some reason. I'm a silly person. Anyway, I'm picking it up tomorrow - I wonder what I will get!

June 26, 2007

More culinary adventures

The farmers' markets are amazing here over the summer - just the most gorgeous fruits, vegetables, flowers, breads, cheeses; we've even found someone who brings handmade fudge that is irresistible (literally - we've so far been unable to resist each time we've seen her). We've basically stopped shopping even at Trader Joe's, since this stuff is not just organic but also local, not to mention super-delicious. Anyway, last Saturday I saw one of the stands had sour cherries! I haven't seen sour cherries for about twenty years now. It's one of those redolent tastes of childhood that I still remember, but have so far not been able to replicate. Why don't they sell sour cherries in stores in this country? Anyway, I bought two pounds and made preserves.

Don't you love that color? Here they are after being pitted.

Pitted sour cherries about to made into preserves

And here is the delicious preserve served over chocolate ice cream.

Sour cherry preserves over chocolate ice cream

Nothing could be simpler:

Two pounds of pitted sour cherries in pot
Cover with water
Stir sugar in slowly, to taste but at least 1/2 cup (we're a sweet tooth household so I added a whole cup... hmm... perhaps I've said too much)
Boil some more
Add 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
Boil, boil, boil (probably a total of 45 minutes of boiling, stirring occasionally)
Chill and serve

June 25, 2007

Dragon Rider

And so it seems that the prophesy which had been foretold by the forgotten gods has indeed come to pass. Though the people have despaired of a champion for hundreds of barren, desolate years, they have not allowed new generations to forget the legend - and now, the land once more bears the fruit of ancient kings.

Undaunted by her destiny, the lion-hearted one trains daily for her upcoming battle against the forces of darkness.

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Wearing out one trainer after the other with her tireless quest for perfection in mounted combat, she searches stable after stable for a steed worthy of her talent.

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At last, ready for her ultimate test, she becomes what she was always fated to be - a dragon rider.

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June 24, 2007

Tiny Dancer (Part 2)

Here is the second part.


We had a wonderful time yesterday when our dear friends Lauren and Alex, and Flora and her tiny cutie Juliet came to visit. What a happy day!

Playing in Lara's room was so lovely after both girls napped. I loved watching them negotiate each other's company and communicating. They agreed that the song-playing keyboard was the best one to dance to (I can't believe I didn't take a video of the two of them getting down!), and that climbing on the cars was fun.

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But being outside on the playground was even more fun! There were doggies to pet, poses to strike, and shoulders to ride on.

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Perfect weather, perfect day, just perfect.

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June 21, 2007

Tiny Dancer (Part 1)

So I finally broke through to YouTube. What is with that site? You have to upload your video before six in the morning for it to work. Of course, after part 1 uploaded, it was already after six, so part 2 will have to wait.

Anyway, how cute is she?

June 20, 2007

Button Cardigan

This used to be a fairly well-fitting but dull sweater that I decided to refashion after it developed a large hole in the neck band. Thus, a new cardigan is born. I'm loving that ginormous button!

Sweater to cardigan wardrobe refashion

I made the binding from a piece of an old sheet; it was easy but quite tedious. The button closure is made from a piece of the old neck band, rolled up and sewn into a cord. I like how the stiffness of the binding curves the sweater out away from the body - it seems to make the lines of it more interesting.

June 18, 2007

Less than Twelve Parsecs

When I was trying to figure out what to get Misha for father's day, I started thinking about the small paradox of being a dad. Fatherhood brings with it the need to reject (or at least shelve) the worn, familiar joys of your own childhood to take on someone else's newly developing ones. It's different - more subtle - than discarding the kid inside and becoming a serious adult. It's more that the kid inside is no longer operated by you, but by your own outside kid.

Millenium Falcon notebook (front view)

I decided, among other things, to give Misha's inside kid his own toy, since he has had to shelve quite a few childish diversions of late. I assume most little boys love Star Wars, but do all of them watch it enough times to wear out the cassette tape?

Millenium Falcon notebook (back view)

June 16, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

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Watching Misha and Lara playing together gives me an amazing feeling of calm happiness, of everything being right in our world, of quiet and steady joy. He becomes so focused, wrapped in her movements and noises as they read together or she climbs around him lying on the floor.

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Often, on weekdays, after Misha has left for work, Lara tries to find him in the house, running from room to room yelling "Dada!" in surprise, as if expecting him to have been hiding in the next room all along waiting for her to find him. We keep the doors to the bathrooms closed, and frequently her search for daddy ends there, pointing at the closed door and asking me "Dada?" Many days after her nap we walk out to Penn's campus to meet Misha after work, and now Lara runs down the hallway to the elevator yelling "Dada!" and pointing the way forward.

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Happy Dada's day!

June 14, 2007

Lara Loves Carousels

Seriously. She's kind of obsessed.

We went to Franklin Square last Sunday, and ever since then Lara has been asking for the carousel non-stop. I didn't even know kids had memories like that! She was rewarded for her persistence today - we went back, and as soon as she saw the carousel out of the car window from two blocks away she started freaking out and neighing at the horses.

By the way, the up-and-down hand gesture for "carousel"? Lara made that up herself. She actually quite frequently uses her own made up sign language to indicate a word that she can't pronounce. Do all kids learn to speak like this? I know some parents teach sign language on purpose, but we never did (brutal truth - I was excited about this idea when pregnant, but flaked when I realized it would require so much effort). The signs are quite specific, consistent, and made up spontaneously.

It's amazing to me to watch language develop in our tiny home laboratory. Watching Lara learn to move around was not nearly as exciting as this is. Granted, some of this might be professional interest... Or would that be linguistics? Hmmm, no, I'm not going to mix my delicious little kiddo with yucky Chomsky... But, yes, shockingly, in the realm of language studies micro and macro alike, Lara is far more fun for me to observe than my ever further delayed dissertation.

June 10, 2007

Sidewalk Adventures

Lara is no longer content to travel just by stroller. After a few minutes, she tugs at her seatbelt and insistently chants "Dah! Dah! Dah! Dah!" (meaning "down") until we release her onto the sidewalk. Ah, our urban baby, for whom the cement pavement and graveled tree enclosures hold all the wonders of nature - for surely you didn't think that Lara actually walks to our destination when put on the ground? Why would she, when there are so many things to do in a five foot radius? The other day it took us forty-five minutes to get home from the playground (actual distance? one short city block).

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Things she loves with abandon:

- stomping and clomping around on gravel, which around here surrounds the trees planted in the sidewalk. There is almost no way to inveigle her to leave the tree pits; usually we have to actually lift her out of them and carry her away.

- climbing all steps (usually leading to other people's houses) and sitting down on all ledges (usually covered with the grime of decades)

- playing "slow/fast". Lara knows the difference, and so quickly foils our attempts to get to her go. "Can you go fast? Show how fast you can go," we say - and she does go fast for several steps only to slow down to a dramatic stop until we acknowledge that yes, now she is slow.

- standing on top of manhole covers and gas valve lids. Every single one. I never realized how many there are.

- going up on Misha's shoulders. This is a new one, and he still has to hold her with a vice grip - but the new vistas clearly appeal. Frequently, this is the only way to actually get her to a specific location in a reasonable amount of time.

Things she loves cautiously:

- all manner of insects, which Lara calls "bzzzz." It's actually quite extraordinary how good her eyesight is. She can from her full height see those tiny red bugs that come out in the summer (which I usually have to be six inches from to notice.) She watches them like a budding entomologist, but if they come too close (a distance defined differently from second to second), she roars and stomps her feet at them in a half-scared half-angry shuffle.

- all manner of birds, which get mostly the same treatment. The word for "bird" is the same squeal that means "little" - except that pidgeons get a "bbrrrr bbrrrr." Sometimes, when she is feeling brave she chases them around. Most of the time, she gets a little nervous when they start walking towards her, however far away they actually are. Because hey, who knows how fast those little buggers can walk?

June 9, 2007

Soup #2

Ok, that first vegetable soup has lead to bigger and better things. I am slowly learning how to recreate all the delicious, comforting food of my childhood, and can now check off borscht.

Borscht with sour cream

It's somewhat harder and more hands-on than the other soup - and I sort of chickened out and made the vegetable rather than the beef-based version - but oh my gosh, when I realized that the smell in the kitchen was the familiar sweet tang of beets, I was thrilled.

Here's a little story to tell you just how far I've come. A couple of years ago, Misha decided to get me a chocolate cake for my birthday. He works crazily, so he ended up having to get it four or five days before he was actually going to give it to me in order to be able to sneak it into the apartment undetected. But what to do with it? It's in a huge box, needs to be kept cold, but also needs to be a secret. Misha did the most logical thing - he put it front and center in our refrigerator. And he was right - I was utterly surprised five days later. Not once during that time had I actually opened the fridge. Yeah. I know.

June 8, 2007

Pearls and Agate

Still trying to keep with the all-homemade-presents promise to myself. This three strand pearl necklace with a yellow agate pendant is for an uncoming birthday (pearls are June's birthstone, so that works out neatly).

Three stand pearl necklace with agate pendant

June 7, 2007


It's been over a year and a half, and Lara still eggs up into a womb in her sleep. Can you imagine sleeping with your knees and arms under you? This is how we usually find her lying when we see her asleep:

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Not that we see her asleep all that frequently. Honestly, we've never gone in to check on her when she is napping (what are we checking for? that she's still there?). As soon as anyone comes in her room she immediately senses it and starts furiously and angrily sucking on her pacifier or thumb to maintain the sleepy. But if we insist, this is how she starts to wake up:

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Misha always says he wants to go into one of her stretches - they just seem so effective and comfy.

June 5, 2007

The Best Sound in the World...

...is of course Lara laughing. Usually this kind of thing happens when she is very very sleepy, but still - how cute is she?

June 4, 2007

Big and Little

Lara now knows the difference between big and little. In her rendition, big is deep basso "buh" while little is a high-pitched squeak (this may have something to do with our trying to onomonopeically depict the difference between the two...). This weekend we were at the playground and she leaned down to pick up a small stick, showed it to us, and said in a deep voice, "buh buh." "No, that's a little stick," Misha and I responded in unison, to which she dramatically opened her other fist, and squeaked, showing us a tiny piece of bark. Yet more confirmation that big and little really are relative - a fact Lara found out the hard way when we went to see the newborn twins of our very close friends. Suddenly these small people (dolls? what were they? Lara really couldn't figure it out) were getting all the attention, being called "cute" and "little" and all the things her parents usually said to her! And she couldn't even play with them. Needless to say, Lara threw a bit of fit after an hour of this treatment...

Also this weekend, a delightful visit from grandparents.

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Daddy always gets this face:

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While Peter gets the face on the left:

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Isn't the picture on the right funny? That composition is right out of some nineteenth century bourgeois family portrait, except there Peter would be a stern-faced painting in an ostentatious frame behind Misha and Lara rather than an actual stern-faced man.

June 1, 2007

Yellow Boots

I made these as a little welcome present for the tiny and perfect Michael and Benjamin, two new people who have just come into the world.

Stuffies with yellow boots

My own design, which I am proud to say takes into account the fact that toys for children should have narrow parts for them to be able to actually grab them. Made of and stuffed with jersey for softness. Each boot has a different kind of noisemaker in it (I recycled these from Lara's old toys).