Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Random July Pictures and Yummy Yummy Goodness

I haven't been so good about posting, but rest assured - we've been busy (and I've actually remembered my camera for most of the outings!). The girls and I have been enjoying a down day today, so I will take the opportunity of having Emily asleep and Ava embroiled in a letter writing worksheet to post some random pictures from the past few weeks:

Ava and her friend Audrey feeding the ducks at Summerlake Park:
Emily and her birthday bear from Build-a-Bear:
Emily givng Ava a love:

Ava running around at Jameson Square:

Emily sunning herself:

And now onto the Yummy Yummy Goodness...

Summer Pasta

From Pasta Fresca by Viana La Place and Evan Kleinman


5 large tomatoes, seeded and diced small

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded

salt and pepper to taste

1-1 1/2 cups good quality extra virgin olive oil

1 pound spaghetti

6 ounces fresh mozarella, packed in water, diced


Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl, pour enough olive oil to cover. Let marinate at room temperature 1-3 hours. Cook and drain pasta, according to package directions. Add mozarella to bowl, quickly add pasta and stir to combine and to melt cheese. Devour.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Emily Grace!

Exactly one year ago at this very minute, Emily Grace came into our world and made it a brighter place.

Just seconds after a super easy labor and 2 pushes, Emily snuggled up to me, all warm and wriggly. I remember how she just stayed on my chest for a few minutes, memorizing my skin and smell, while I did the same. I counted her little fingers and her already chubby toes, and marvelled at her chubby cheeks.

She didn't let anyone hold her but me without screaming for the first 5 months, and after that, Daddy was only a sad substitute. She finally became more open to other people at 10 months, but still jumps out of their arms if she sees me. I can't complain...she'll probably start hating me in another 11 years, so I'll take it while I can get it!

Unlike her serious sister, Emily is all smiles. She is content to sit on a lap and cuddle while Ava goes about her day. She eats well, sleeps well, and is almost always cheerful.

Before Emily was born, Ava and I would nap together in the afternoons. Ava would pat my tummy and feel Emily kicking and moving, and I wondered if I had enough love to go between them. But when her tiny little body snuggled against mine for the first time, I fell instantly in love - a different kind of love than the one I have for Ava, for she is a different girl.

Today I look at my one year old and wonder who she will become - when she is three, when she is ten, when she is 25, 45, 65, and so on. I can't wait to get to know her better and to be a part of what I am sure will be a lovely life.

Birthday card courtesy of Denise Hopkins

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summertime and the livin' is easy...

Emily is going through some sort of growth spurt...the kid can't get enough to eat or enough sleep. Last night she went to bed around 8:30 and didn't wake up until almost 11 this morning! She also took a 3 hour nap this afternoon and since waking 2 hours ago, seems ready to go back to bed.

This has been so wonderful, especially since Ava has decided that this week she will try to not only be as difficult as possible during the day, but she will also wake up no less than 10 times a night for various reasons (potty, wanting to be tucked in, bug bites, night light needs batteries, just to say hello...you name it). I'm ready to go against all of my better judgement and get a gate for her door! She's just been a pill during the day, so this morning with Emily asleep for pretty much all of it, it was nice to just get to focus on Ava and try to figure out what her problem is (I think I've figured that out...she's THREE!). She and I took advantage of the cool weather this morning, and some overripe peaches to make these delicious cookies. They are sort of a cross between a scone and a shortbread biscuit with the peaches already mixed in. They came together in a flash and were absolutely delicious with my afternoon tea. I have been subscribing to the daily cookie email from Martha Stewart and saw these in my inbox this morning - yum!

Fresh Peach Drop Cookies
via Martha Stewart

Makes about 4 dozen.
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/3 cup peach jam or preserves
2 tablespoons fine sanding sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Add peaches and jam, and beat until just combined.
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing about 2 inches apart. (If not baking all of the cookies at once, refrigerate dough between batches; dough can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.) Combine sanding sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle each cookie with 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 11 to 13 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, and then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Ayelet's notes: I left out the peach preserves - my peaches were very sweet, so taste test yours first to see if the jam would make the batter too sweet. Also, I only needed to bake them 9-10 minutes.

After the cookies were cooled and Emily (finally) woke up, we went to pick raspberries. It's late in the season here, so I got them for $0.75/pound! There were tons of berries still on the bush, and Ava had a blast putting two in her bucket and then feeding two to Emily in the stroller. Needless to say, after 30 minutes of berry picking (where I had 2 pounds in my bucket and Ava had about 6 berries and a pink face), both girls were ready for a bath!

I'm thinking that the peach cookies would be lovely with raspberries substituted for the peaches...stay tuned for the review!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Gearing up for back to school and the nut free battle

Yes, I realize that it's only July, but given that Ava is starting a summer camp program next month (mainly to get both she and I into the routine of getting somewhere by 8 am two mornings a week!), I can't help but start to think about getting ready for school in September. I've got a to do list, including buying a bento-style lunch box (I'm tired of throwing away money on zipper top bags...not to mention wasting plastic!), getting her uniform pieces purchased (knee socks, saddle shoes, plaid skirt, matching headband...), and for summer camp - the biggie: contacting the facility and letting them know about her peanut and tree nut allergies. Ava will attend a program through Portland Parks and Recreation, and they were great about letting her have her EpiPen, and also making the program nut free (since she's not the only kid in her session with such allergies).

There have been quite a few articles on the internet in the past few months about the backlash from parents of kids without food allergies to the increasing popularity of nut free tables and nut free schools. It completely floors me that there are (many) parents out there who feel that it is their child's right to have a PB&J sandwich for lunch every day, and that kids with allergies are evil for depriving them of such rights. Most of these articles actually suggest that kids with food allergies be homeschooled, or worse, that parents ignore the nut free rules and encourage their children to spread peanut traces everywhere! My guess is that like most hateful reactions, these sprout from ignorance.

The word "allergy" when combined with "peanuts" makes the situation seem so harmless. Perhaps these parents think that if a child with a severe peanut allergy comes into contact with peanuts, that child will simply break out into a rash that can be cured with Benedryl. Most children that I know with a severe allergy will break out into a rash by being in the same room with peanuts, and will have a severe rash, and will experience anaphylaxis if peanuts get in or near their mouths. Luckily, there are some great articles out there from parents of allergy free kids in support of nut free tables and schools:

Fighting For Your Right to PB&J

Banned From Flying: My Son's Favorite Lunch

My wonderful obstetrician told me something when I was about 36 weeks preagnant with Ava and she put me on bedrest for mild pre-ecplampsia...she said that while we are pregnant, we worry that everything will be alright with our babies. When they are born, we worry that they will hit all of the developmental milestones on time. When they go to school, we worry that they will be safe and secure without us. We don't stop worrying until we are dead. I wonder if she knew that Ava's allergies would give me so much to worry about.