Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Focus - Books

As usual I have more than one book on my nightstand. This month it has been a mix of devotionals, non-fiction, and book club choices.  Since the first day of spring is cold and rainy, it gives me the perfect excuse to cuddle up with a pile of books and read (At least until the Bumper comes home from school).

1. Beside Still Waters is a monthly Bible devotional that I have been reading during Lent. It has the days readings on the top of the page and a short one page application story. This has helped me in taking that extra time out to spend with the Lord each day.

2. Falling Upwards: How we took to the Air by Richard Holmes charts the development of hot air balloons from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Since I generally like history I am enjoying this, but I am really interested in the technical aspect for my next novel.

3.Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty this was my book club's pick for the month of March. It starts out as telling the rather banal stories of upper middle class housewives, but turns into a riveting exploration of infidelity and domestic violence.

4.  Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure that Changed the World by Fiammetta Rocco. I had never before realized the importance of the tiny little pill we took as a matter of course in the Peace Corps. This is worth a read for both students of history and medicine.

Happy Reading and Happy Week End
Kim

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Quick Jaunt to the Seaside (Which sounds more adventureous than a "Drive to the Beach")

As is the way with March around here, Wednesday was glorious. Temperatures in the mid to upper sixty degrees Fahrenheit. The Bumper could hardly be kept indoors and I did not want to keep in. We found every excuse to be outside. Checking the mail, getting the morning paper, feeding the birds, prepping her raised bed (Nana helped the Bumper with that), I even opened up the windows and doors to let in fresh air. We could practically feel the warmth of spring on the breeze and we basked in it.

And then there was yesterday. Yesterday was cold and blustery enough to make Winnie the Pooh proud. It was rather a nasty shock, as it meant the Bumper and her friends had no playground time at school. Maybe it was the splendor of the day before which prompted her, but in the middle of all our grousing and complain about the shift in weather Nana suggested we go for a drive. Since being stuck for the rest of the afternoon with a grumpy, pent up four year old was not in the least appealing I readily agreed. The Bumper on the other hand, took some convincing. She wanted a firm destination; she wanted to go to a playground, but it was too cold.  So Nana told her we were going to listen to the frogs sing. This intrigued the Bumper enough to get in the car are we were off to find spring peepers.

I'm sure the cars behind us though we were crazy as Nana stopped the car every so often and the Bumper stuck her head out the window occasionally exclaiming "I hear them Nana! I hear them!"
I meanwhile ,bundled up in my coat, tried to crochet. I found it was better to pretend to concentrate on my work, than to let the Bumper think I was laughing at her enthusiasm. I wasn't really, I was very happy she was so excited y something as simple as springtime frogs. On and on we drove in this fashion until we finally arrived at Assateague Island National Seashore.

The wind coming off the ocean was far too bitter for us to go walking, but that did not stop us from spotting and taking pictures of the islands most famous inhabitants: the wild ponies.  Apparently the Bumper did not remember seeing them last year, she was enthralled and asked a whole bunch questions and even took some pictures all by herself.


All in all the drive did us good. We got out of the house, got the hear an evening chorus of frogs, watching the ever shifting blues of the ocean and even spotted a lone para sail! We return home in much better spirits than when we left.

I am eagerly awaiting for the warmer temperatures and longer days I know are coming, in the meantime I will make the best of what tempestuous March has to offer.

Kim

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WIP Wenesday

I wanted this to be a wordless Wednesday with nothing but the pictures of my finished craft projects, but as I did not finish any of them that is not going to happen. So what I have instead is a W.I.P. (Works In Progress)Wednesday. A jumble of all the things I current have on the needles/hook or in my notebooks.

First up is a plain knit dishcloth. I started this sometime last year with the idea that I needed to refresh my knitting skill and re-learn the essentials: cast on, cast off, knit and purl. I pick it up when I want to practice a stitch to improve my speed.

Next is a crochet doll blanket that I started when the Bumper was a year old. It was supposed to be a baby blanket for her, but it turns out she grew faster than I could crochet.

Then come the hats; the green is still on the hook, but I have finished two yellow ones.

For a lark I picked up a drop spindle kit at the Ocean City fiber festival, because why not learn how to spin while I am at it?

There is of course the ever present sock.

And because I have a terminal case of start-itis something new. Can you guess what?

Lest anyone think that my start-itis limits itself to the fiber arts rest assured it invades other parts of my life.  I carry around a spiral bound notebook crammed almost to capacity with the beginnings of short stories, poems, and novel ideas.

These are the things I am working on, I hope to finish all of them; in the meantime I am enjoying the creative process.

Kim

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Could it be that Spring is just around the corner?

First to Bloom
Mother Nature gave us  a break this week and we have had spring like temperatures the last few days and if you as me not a moment to soon. I am more than ready for spring, ready to be outside, ready for more daylight and walks in the park. I live in a place where the winter's don't typically get very cold for an extended period of time so we don't have the proper clothing to be outside for long. Knowing the Mid Atlantic region, however, I know better than to be lulled into a sense of complacency.
There are Buds on the Tree!

Today the Bumper and her friends finally after what seemed like forever, although was really only about a month, were able to have outside recess and because the Bumper had a good report from her teacher she went on the playground after school as well. It did my heart good to see her racing at breakneck speed to join her friends on the jungle gym and slide. Hearing her laugh and squeal with glee as she shot down the slide and swung ALL BY HERSELF on the swings made the rough patch of the last two days fade into memory like a bad dream. I let her play for over an hour whilst I chatted with some of the other mothers and it felt good for me to have adult conversation. We took a kite out for the first time over the weekend. The Bumper loved it, even if she felt a little disappointed the wind was not quite strong enough to bear the kite aloft for more than a few minutes at a time. Fortunately we live near the beach and Nana has promised this summer to take the Bumper kite flying near the ocean.
Nana and the Bumper Checking the Garden Hose

Now that the ground has started to thaw, Nana and the Bumper have started getting the garden ready for spring planting. In the next few weeks they will be prepping the vegetable garden and the flowerbeds. The bulbs we planted last autumn should be starting to push their way through to the surface and I can hardly wait for our walk way to be lined with daffodils. We did plan tulip bulbs last autumn as well, but have sneaking suspicion the moles have used them for a winter feast. One of the more unpleasant tasks has been ridding the greenhouse of our feline squatters. In fairness we did not want the cats to perish in the harsh storms, but enough is enough! Mint, parsley, and basil can survive many things, but the territorial markings of male cats are not one of them. Since warmer weather is once again upon us the cats must vacate.
They don't look like much now wait a few weeks!

Surprisingly one of the vegetables to survive were the carrots the Bumper planted last summer. They were not quite big enough to eat. This year they are ready and we have been pulling them and crunching on them as often as we can. I am not sure which pleases me more: eating the tasty carrots or the happiness in the Bumper's eyes when she declares: "Look what I grew Mom!" She is learning the pleasure of growing, preparing and eating fresh food. There is no price tag to be put on such a thing.
Third Hat

It is starting to resemble a sock.

I am in the slog of the sock. I am so very near the toe, but not quite there yet. I have almost finished a third baby hat; as soon as I have done up a fourth I will send them off.

Happy St. Patrick's Day
Today is St. Patrick's feast day. The Bumper's school celebrated yesterday so there is green glitter everywhere in the house. We don't typically celebrate the holiday very much, yes there is Irish in my ancestry, but it is kind of way back there. The Bumper has requested some green themed foods so I am whipping up an avocado mousse or maybe some green beans sauteed in garlic. I am also mindful of the Christians who are in parts of the world who are being persecuted. The Christianizing of Ireland came at price, and in spite of what the legends say it was not entirely peaceful. I wear green in both celebration and remembrance.

Kim

Monday, March 16, 2015

Meatless Monday - What's in a name

I finally did it. For months and months, ever since last August, Pumpkin "Cheese" Sauce has been smeared all over food blog territory, and last week I finally gave it a go. I had been reluctant to try this for two reasons. My Bumper does not like Macaroni and Cheese unless it is totally made from scratch. She can't stand "Kraft Dinner" (which in spite of being totally bad for you, I love), and prefers her pasta plain or with butter and secondly while I love things like pumpkin pie and the occasional pumpkin soup I was skeptical about it being something I would like.

Sure a rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but pumpkin as a substitute for cheese? I wasn't buying it. See the thing is if I hear cheese, my mouth immediately sets it self for the distinctive tang of dairy cheese; otherwise I am disappointed. In spite of my misgivings I tried it.  I used the recipe from "Oh She Glows" http://ohsheglows.com/2011/10/13/vegan-pumpkin-mac-n-cheeze-sauce/ .

Three things: It was good, so good in fact; I could not stop dipping my spoon in for 'just a taste', so good I am thinking of having more after I finish this post. Two I will definitely be making it again. Three it did not taste like cheese, no way no how-- at least to me.

Yes it was delicious, AS A PUMPKIN SAUCE.  As a spot on replacement of cheese? NOPE.

Here is to telling it like it is: I will make and enjoy this Pumpkin Sauce (though I may cut back on the mustard and nutritional yeast next time) over pasta or as a dip for nachos. As an aside neither the Bumper nor Nana liked this so it is a good thing I did because the recipe makes a lot.

Happy Eating

p.s. when I made Chocolate Covered Katie's "Cheese Cake" http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2014/06/26/raw-cheesecake-recipe/ I made sure I told the people at the gathering it was a Cashew Creme cake. I know a few people with severe nut allergies and I would not have wanted them to think it was made with dairy.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

One Worry Down


Real life has caught up with me once again. We had two weeks of really wintry weather. I took lots of pictures, including the Bumper sledding, making snow angles and just generally having fun, but we also had two weeks off of school. I love the Bumper, and she loves me, however two solid weeks with nobody but myself and Nana for company (Nana was gone last week dog sitting for my sister); we were starting to get on each others nerves. So by the time last Saturday rolled around we were more than ready for the diversion created by her cousin's birthday.

I stuffed the Bumper in the car, after giving her some medicine for motion sickness, and we drove the two hours to Baltimore. When we arrived the Bumper proudly announced that she made the whole trip without throwing up. I think I was more relived than she, because I have no idea how I would have managed that scenario. The Bumper had a rollicking good time, at her cousin's robot themed party. There were about twenty kids ages 6 to 2years there and the Bumper ran, climbed, jumped and  plastic sword fought with the best of the. The little boys, her cousin included, thought the was great; the little girls  couldn't understand why she did not want to play princess with them. I can explain that easily: after a two hour car ride the last thing the Bumper was interested in was sitting still and drinking pretend tea. The hardest part of the day came when it was time to leave, the Bumper and her cousin had grown quite attached to one another and did not want to part company. The struggle ended with her uncle carrying her to the front porch. In spite of all her vigorous protesting she fell asleep a mere fifteen minutes into the drive home.

We traveled back up in Baltimore this past Monday for the Bumper's second  appointment at Johns Hopkins hospital. The first time we went was back in January to see a pediatric hepatologist. I wanted to know if the Bumper had inherited or would develop the disease from which her Dad suffered. The first doctor told us he couldn't really tell us anything, he did ,however; order a urinalysis and referred us to the genetics department. It was disappointing to be sure, but not totally unexpected. On Monday we had our appointment with the genetics counselors and with the geneticist. After discussing our family medical history, meeting and examining the Bumper, and reviewing the lab results they gave us their conclusion: While they can not rule it out completely, the Bumper is at very low risk ( a 99.5% chances that she will NOT) for developing Wilson's disease. I did not entirely belive it until I watched the doctor's face as she was reading the lab results-- her face relaxed and she smiled.

My body relaxed with a release of tension I did not even realize until that moment I had been holding. The specter of Wilson's disease had haunted me from the moment of the Bumper's conception. Her dad and I even sought out a pediatrician in Northern VA who knew something of the disease. It was on that pediatrician's recommendation that I had been taking the Bumper to get her blood drawn and her copper levels tested yearly, but even he recommended the genetics counseling ha I was unable to follow through on until this year.  My prayers Monday night consisted of only three words: Thank you Lord.

The relief I feel is so profound, and all I can do is be very grateful.

Kim
p.s. I know the Bumper's dad would be grateful too.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Snow and Cold and Ice and a little Knitting


The Bumper has been delighted by the weather of the last few days. It snowed and it was a  decent enough amount to play in, and clean enough to scoop some out and pour maple syrup over. I was even able to introduce the Bumper to the joys of sledding. She loved it, and I am thrilled she did. I used to enjoyed the same thing when I was small, watching her I had a silly proud grin plastered all over my face. We made the afore mentioned syrup snow, and the Bumper declared it was her favorite part of being snowed in. The syrup snow is my attempt at maple syrup candy.  Neither the Bumper nor I are patient enough to boil the syrup before hand. The syrup doesn't get hard but it is still fun to make and eat.


 The birds decided a little snow would not keep them from the feeders and we were treated to an array of blackbirds, wrens, starlings, blue-jays, and cardinals. I am not sure who has had more fun bird watching the Bumper and I or the cat. Although I confess when we have grown tired of watching the birds it is quite funny to watch the cat watch the birds. Her tail twitches and she makes weird bleating meow noises.


The Bumper has an appointment with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in March. One of the tests they have requested of us is a 24hour urinalysis. Really? On a 4year old? I had been putting off this task, but I need not have worried. She thought it was great fun to go somewhere besides the potty and she wanted to watch me pour the contents into the collection jug. I think I have a budding scientist on my hands.

All this cold weather has meant we have spent a great deal of time indoors, much to the Bumper's dismay; I have made some more sock progress ,it is starting to resemble an actual sock, and another baby hat is almost off the hook.


We are busy keeping warm and enjoying the time off from school, except for the sledding and a swim lesson we have not ventured out. I am eagerly awaiting spring.

Kim