Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Celeste wasn't too keen on the Thanksgiving festivities at my cousin's this afternoon. Soon after we arrived, she was sulking around my legs and saying she wanted to go home. Eventually she warmed up to some of her second cousins' toys and a big block of stilton.

A bit later, however, she ran over crying about a noise. It might have been a passing plane or something on the street or ... we're not sure what. No one else heard it, but it upset Celeste. After a little talking she calmed down and went back to playing. (Quinn throughout all of this was very busy with various toys and meeting people.)

We made it through dinner — Quinn had a good meal; Celeste mostly ate cranberry sauce, cornbread, and butter — and when ice cream popped up for dessert, Celeste said "Maybe that noise was my stomach. Maybe it was hungry for ice cream."

Friday, October 19, 2007

It Wasn't Me

When I saw "Overheard in D.C." today, I had to stop and wonder if I'd ever ridden on a Circulator Bus with Celeste:
Last friday on the DC Circulator Bus, around Washington Circle/Pennsylvania Avenue:
A 3 or 4 year old girl is sitting with her father, commenting on what she sees out of the window. All of a sudden, apropos of nothing, she suddenly announces in a loud voice: "I just want to go CRAZY today, and buy new puppy clothes!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Science Without a Nap

This afternoon, Celeste and Quinn both took turns participating in an infant study at the University of Maryland, but it probably would have gone better had they had naps.

Backing things up a little bit, around 2:45 a.m. this morning, I half-awoke to a crying Quinn. Next to me was an exhausted Evelin. I'd thought Evelin was just going to finish up some work and then come to bed, but it turns out she'd been up to about 2:00 a.m. with Quinn. (When I fell asleep, the Sox were still up 2–1, and I was enjoying my new little Sony Walkman SRF-M37V, which manages to pull in WTIC(AM) and thus the Sawx-side commentary for games ... why didn't I have this for the first part of the season?)

I got up and took Quinn downstairs, where she slept fitfully on me until around 4:30 a.m., at which point I transitioned her back into her bed, and decided that I'd try to work from home as much as possible today so that we could try to get her to the doctor.

She's had a little cough for two weeks or so now, and her nose has been really runny. When I checked on Tuesday, she wasn't running a fever, but it has made sleeping pretty uncomfortable for her. Before Maine, she spend a night or two sleeping in her carseat, to have in a more upright position, and she's napped in that most of today (as scattered and short as her naps have been). Evelin took her in to the doctor's and he said her ears and throat look clear and that it's probably teething; we can give her a little Benadryl to try and dry her out to help her sleep, and we'll probably try that tonight.

So, since I was taking the day off, I started in on my e-mail and other work after I came back downstairs. I had about an hour before Celeste woke up, and then Quinn was up not too later than that. I managed to get some breakfast and playtime in before Evelin woke up and came down.

Since Evelin was taking Quinn to the doctor, I took Celeste to playgroup around 9:30 a.m. It's a lot busier this session compared to back in April, which was the last time I'd gone. There must have been ten or more kids there, some that I knew, a few I'd seen around, and a couple who were strangers. Celeste did have fun, however, both in playgroup and then later on the playground.

Once we got home, it was lunchtime followed by an attempt at napping ... which went really poorly and ended up with both girls awake and downstairs by 2:00 p.m. At this point, Evelin was hiding in the bedroom trying to get some work done and I was trying to get things together for the 3:30 p.m. appointment at the Language Development Laboratory. With neither girl having napped, I guess it's no surprise that they both nodded off in the car on the way to College Park.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Now She Is Three

Today is Celeste's third birthday, marking the beginning of some seriously undelayed lifechanges that continue to build day after day after day. It was a bit of a double-whammy for her today: She turned three and she had her first day of nursery school.

Both went pretty well. Evelin made her some cupcakes (the requested orange sponge cake recipe with royal icing) and this evening she received several dog-themed presents.

When Evelin dropped her off at school this morning, Celeste pretty much headed straight for the Play-Doh and never looked back. (That she arrived at the same time as T---, one of her friends, probably helped even if she didn't directly play with him.) When I picked her up in the afternoon, she was excited and talking a lot about what she'd done that day. The downside was that she had two accidents, so we have to bring more than the standard number of changes of clothes for her tomorrow.

[ASIDE: There's a ton of stuff I haven't blogged over the past year or so that makes writing this a bit disjointed, but in the interest of getting this tale on paper pixels here's one from a month or three ago: Celeste and I were talking about the upcoming school year, and Celeste said she was going to take two classes. I asked her what she was planning to study, and she said, "Maybe I'll draw a dog."]

On the way to pick her up, I asked Quinn if she'd missed not having Celeste around this morning. There was a HUGE grin and a fairly loud "No! No!"

Flower Puppy

(From a few days ago when Celeste was a flower girl (or as she insisted flower puppy) at the as-of-yet-unblogged (at least by me) wedding of my brother-in-law.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Have You Seen This Mascot?

Louie greets some fans.
Originally uploaded by Throwingbull
If so, don't tell Celeste. This afternoon, we caught part of the second game in a double header between the Erie SeaWolves and the Bowie Baysox. It was Quinn's first ballgame, and Celeste's first since she was about 9 months old. Originally, the game was scheduled as a single game, but last night's game was suspended on account of rain in the third which meant the 2:00 p.m. start was shifted to 12:30 p.m. and, unfortunately, the "Bark in the Park" dog parade was a lot earlier than originally scheduled.

Still, there were many dogs for Celeste to pet and Quinn had fun. They both ate a lot of popcorn and the girls almost got to see a grand slam (we were petting some greyhounds at the time and missed it).

As we were leaving (in the bottom of the sixth inning), we paused to visit with some other dogs and Celeste caught sight of Louie, the Baysox's mascot. At first I thought she was excited (not that she has any idea of who Louie is or anything) because she was making a little "Oh!" noise. But then she put her hand up in front of the mouth and I realized she was shaking. Louie was waving to kids as he walked past and into a backstage area, and as soon as the door shut, Celeste grabbed me around the neck and burst into tears. She didn't look up until we were out in the parking lot.

We talked to her a little about mascots and Louie, but Celeste wanted nothing to do with it. After dinner we took a walk around the block and ran into some of Celeste's favorite neighborhood dogs. While talking with their owner, I mentioned the ballpark and Celeste said she didn't have fun and when she was asked why, she started crying again. Later, during her bath, Evelin mentioned going to a game next summer and Celeste was quick to nix the idea.

Quinn, I think, was more disturbed by the greyhound wearing a Baysox hat than by Louie, but I don't think she got a good view of the green guy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Natural Born Journalist

Celeste has a bit of the journalist in her: She is really good at recounting things that have gone on during the day (albeit sometimes confusing something that happened one afternoon vs. another or maybe confusing reality with something from a story she's read) and she loves finding out who people are and what they're doing. She often will point at someone — across the park, in line behind us at the grocery store, passing on the street — and ask "What his/her name?"

Often, we don't know the person she's referring to, so we've been encouraging Celeste to introduce herself and to ask the person she's interested in's name. Celeste has been very in to this game, although she often poises the question from 20 feet away and/or in some other manner that is sure to not get her an answer.

The thing is, however, lately she's not been running up to people and saying "Hi. My name is Celeste. What's your name?" ... no, instead she's been saying "Hi. My name is Zippity. What's your name?" (Except when we met Alejandro while on an "expotition" around the block last week, when, with a bit of prompting, I got her to say "Me llamo Celeste. ¿Como se llama?")

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dogs for the Arts

Can I pet your dog? Photo by Ashby Henderson, Hyattsville Life & Times A few weeks ago, the local park had it's annual "Dogs for the Arts" day. They had a dog-and-owner look-alike contest, paw painting, and a few other events ... and a lot of dogs. Given that Celeste has decided a while ago that we are all dogs — if you refer to her as a little girl, she corrects you, "little puppy!"; or if you ask her to wash her hands, she responds, "no, paws!"; and everyone has or puppy appended to their name, for instance I am now "Daddy Dog" — there was no way we were missing this event.

Celeste did not disappoint, running around gleefully asking if she could pet all the dogs and often ending up giving them hugs. Last week, the local monthly city newspaper arrived and there was Celeste in an uncaptioned picture poised to strike [PDF of the full article].

The other thing about Celeste being a dog is that her name is now Zippity. A little while back, Evelin checked out Some Dog from the library. Pretty soon thereafter, Celeste identified herself with the little dog Zippity. She also started insisting that Quinn be called George, after the big dog in the story. Worryingly, as one friend noted, "George" is a nickname that could stick.

This matches up with Celeste insisting that she's a little sister, and generally resisting being identified as being "big." For a while, she would insist she couldn't be big because she couldn't touch the ceiling. Also, in her mind, big/little seemed to be a sex-linked trait: Pretty much all males were "big" and all females were "little." That's changed somewhat, and now Evelin is considered "mid-sized" by Celeste. I have no idea what any of this means, but it's pretty funny to be in one room talking to Quinn and telling her what a big girl she is, and then starting to correct myself to say "little girl" but before I can do so Celeste calls out from the other room "No! George is a little puppy."

Friday, July 13, 2007

What Book Is This?

Tonight, after the girls were in bed, Evelin had a mission for me: Retrieve a bookcase from a porch two towns over. Apparently, it was something off Freecycle that hadn't been claimed and Evelin thought it would help our book "problem." (I use scare quotes on the word because I don't think it qualifies as a problem, it's just a lot of books, falling off shelves and forming piles around the house — kind of like a library ... without the shhhh'ing, stacks, card catalogue, or defensible acquisition policy.)

After it was in place, Evelin started moving around other bits of furniture and rearranging the placement of books throughout the house. This is where the tale gets odd.

Among the things that have gone unblogged over the past few months is Celeste's reading. She loves books, all sorts of books: board books, books, "page books" (the term she came up with for paperbacks and hardbacks without pictures), etc. Those page books have very few clues as to the contents when you can't really read, but Celeste doesn't let that stop her ... especially when it come to mass-market size paperbacks. She's appropriated several of them, given them new titles, and she's totally consistent about it.

When Evelin was rearranging the books, she paused for a moment when shelving a copy of Wide Sargasso Sea (this edition), which Celeste has dubbed "Ripley* Howls at the Moon."

Next, Evelin paused over a copy of Animal Farm. I asked, "Hey, what's Animal Farm?" and Evelin looked at me with a look of surprise, initially thinking I'd never heard of George Orwell or something. Not five minutes later, when she asked, "Hey, what's Field Guide to the Slug?" ... and I responded with a short discourse about gastropod mollusks ...

*Ripley is Celeste's Flapjacks Dog, which Evelin's mother bought for Quinn, but Celeste appropriated as soon as it entered the house ... and thus began the end of her friendship with Dee Dee Bear.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Is This Thing On?

Hey, long time no blog. I'm still alive. The girls are all well. I've just between work and family gotten out of the habit of blogging, which is a shame because Quinn is growing rapidly and learning so many things and Celeste is coming up with a million cute, quotable lines every day.

Two examples:
  1. Quinn: Last weekend, she signed BIRD pointed at a tree, said "bird" clearly, pointed again, and then Evelin had to duck a robin that flew out at them.
  2. Celeste: On 3 July, I was tucking her in to bed and told her that the next day was a holiday and asked if she knew what that meant; she said, with much emotion and glee, "I think I get cake!"
This afternoon, I managed to get something on film (okay, a solid-state memory card, but that isn't very imagetic) that was too cute.

Last week, I dropped the very full dehumidifier bucket in the basement, spilling a lot of water and cracking the plastic. This afternoon, the new bucket I ordered on Friday arrived wrapped in about 5-feet of bubble wrap. When I spread it out on the floor and jumped on it, Celeste and Quinn were startled, but they quickly figured out what they were supposed to do.

Yes, sadly, that is "Who Let the Dogs Out" (Kidz Party Songs version) in the background. Celeste got stung by a bee and it took a fudgesicle and her favorite song — set on repeat for nigh an hour — to cheer her up.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Conversations With Celeste

There's a ton I need to blog — Vegas, New England, first child vs. second child, usw. — but I've been too swamped to blog it all. Still, there are a few things Celeste has been saying that I don't want to lose:

First, a few weeks ago she had a little cut on her hand, so I put some hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) on it. She fairly quickly recoiled and started crying, "It stings like mad!"

Second, a fairly common statement from Celeste these days: "I'm looking all over Maryland." This is usually said when she can't find Ripley or a book or something else ... and usually when she's just staring at one corner of the room.

Third, this afternoon on the way back to the car from the library, Celeste parked herself behind one of the columns that supports the canopy over the sidewalk to the parking lot and refused to move. I tried encouraging her to keep walking with me and Quinn and she said, "Uhm, no. I'm just standing here for no good reason."

A non-Celeste comment from the library. Quinn was stalking one of the librarians, walking over to her, pointing to her, asking her to pick her up, etc. D---, the librarian, has always liked Quinn and every time we see her there, she looks for a smile from Quinn. D--- made a comment to be about how friendly Quinn is, and I agreed saying she's quite the social butterfly ... which is quite different from her sister. D--- agreed, saying that she's tried to talk to Celeste a few times, but it's like talking to a wall.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

1:30 a.m. PDT (Las Vegas)

I'm finishing up another convention newspaper project here in Las Vegas and had an odd incident very early this morning. Things are going better this year than the last time I worked this show two years ago, and we're getting back from the printer at much "better" times, which is good because I've been running a fever and generally ill since getting to Nevada.

After L--- dropped me off at The Aladdin*, I stopped at the gift shop for a bottle of water and then headed to the elevators. Along the way, I passed a woman who suddenly stopped in front of me and said: "Wow."

I have a moment of panic: Is this someone I should know from the show, or someone I went to college or high school with?

"It's Abraham Lincoln," she said. Pointing to my beard. "Yes. Yes, it is," I said. As I continued on to the elevators, she said, "You have to excuse me, I'm really drunk."

*Officially, it becomes Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino the morning after I check out, but there's so much PHRC branding that I was worried the cabby had dropped me off at the wrong place when I went to check in.

Funnily enough, my youngest cousin labeled me "Abraham Lincoln with a ponytail and earring" during one of my trips home from college.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Celebrating A Year of Quinn

Actually, it's 14 pics for 12 months, but some of them were just too cute to not use ...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Reading Things

For a while now, Celeste has been good at recognizing letters. She's perfect with uppercase letters and decent, but not perfect, with lowercase; she also seems to get the concept of letters representing words which represent ideas and things.

When asked, she can spell dog and bus and a few other words — both vocally and using her blocks or foam letters. (For some reason, the almost always spells train T-R-N-A-I. This is interesting to me and makes me wonder about language acquisition and languages that don't write out vowels. I also wonder if the /eɪ/ diphthong is the issue. Or if it's just that Celeste is a two-year-old.) She can also read off letters from book covers, food labels, etc.

Yesterday, I took Celeste and Quinn to the thrift store to pick up some books; 40¢ for paperbacks that are likely to be chewed is a very good thing. Among the titles I grabbed was Dan Yaccarino's So Big!. I didn't say anything about the book to either of the girls; it just caught my eye and I added it to the pile. I did notice Celeste flipping through it in the cart however.

Later that afternoon, Celeste was having me read some of the books when she pointed at So Big! and said, "Daddy, read So Big!" Again, I had never told her the title of the book. I asked her if she knew the title because of the words on the book and she nodded and asked me to read it. I asked her to read me the letters on the cover and she did so perfectly, only stumbling over the exclamation point. "S-O-B-I-G ... I don't remember."

Totally Unrelated

During a final proof for one of our magazines today, there was a two-deck headline on a column that read: "Where's the Fugawi / We're Here Now". Everyone was a little flummoxed by "fugawi," although there were the requisite namechecks of Fugazi. The term didn't appear in the column, and none of us at the table recognized. I asked the features editor if she'd googled it, and she said she hadn't. As I walked back to my desk to see if anything popped up, I thought of fugedaboudit and started playing with that /fʌːg/ sound in my mind and realized that fugawi corresponded all to well to "fuck are we."

It turns out, it's also the name of a brand of GPS software, which worked well with the headline, explaining the presence of the verb 's. At the same time, the Urban Dictionary's definition for the word matches up with the other meaning pretty well. The headline ended up being rewritten.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Go Red Sox!

This afternoon, Celeste, Quinn and I listened to the Sawx's home opener. Considering how Beckett was pitching and how most everyone who was not a Mariner was hitting, there was a lot of clapping and cheering and happy dancing ... and quizzical looks from Celeste and Quinn.

Celeste, however, is starting to get it. She joined in the "Go Red Sox!" cheers several times and didn't argue when I insisted we replace "home team" with "Red Sox" while singing "Take Me out to the Ball Game"*.

When Evelin got home, I asked Celeste: "What did we say a lot this afternoon?" She looked at me confused, so I prompted her: "What did we say this afternoon when Beckett was striking out イチロー and 'Tek doubled?"

Celeste said "Go Red Sox!" [MP3]

She then turned and asked Evelin: "Mumma, do you know those words?"

*The Hold Steady's version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (free MP3 download via Spinner) is quite nice ... if only they weren't Twins fans ...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Newest Member of Our Family ...

I don't think it will help Celeste get over her fear of vacuum cleaners, but our new Roomba Scheduler arrived yesterday and got its first test spin this morning. The battery wasn't fully seated in the unit, and it didn't get the full 16-hour refresh charge it needed, so it only ran for about a half-hour, but it was pretty cool. (And we've been telling Celeste it's a dog cleaning robot — if we give her a dog-related frame of reference for things, she's less likely to object to them, ergo, when Evelin added green beans to Celeste's soup last night initially she didn't want them, but when she was told they were poodle tails, she ate them all up.)

Celeste was okay with Roomba so long as she was watching it from the couch. Quinn kept a very close eye on it, doing a little shadowing and pointing, but she didn't want to get too close.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tea Party!

Celeste, Stripy Pink, Ripley, and Sid have a tea party, which Quinn crashes ...
Tea Party!Party Crasher
Benefits of Drinking Teateh cut3!

Talking to Toys

This morning, we did a little rearranging of furniture and ended up putting a bookcase and a bunch of books back into Celeste's room. Last year, we had to move the bookcase out of her room because the books were too big of a distraction for her at naptime/bedtime. We're giving it another go now that she's about 90% stopped napping — if nothing else, having a steady supply of books in her room may make quiet time more palatable even if she doesn't nap.

Of course, more than just books are ending up on the bookcase. Celeste was referring to it as Poodle's house and having one of her stuffed dogs play on it, and she had her pink purse, which is full of Little People dogs, on it.

After reading to Celeste, I went to try to get Quinn to sleep. While rocking her, I heard a loud scream from Celeste's room. I put Quinn down (much crying on Quinn's part at this point) to make sure Celeste was all right. It turns out her favorite stuffed animal, Ripley, wanted to play with pink purse ... and when she opened it a sea lion was in with all the dogs. Thus the scream. When I got into her room, most of the Little People dogs were in the bed with Celeste and her stuffed dogs, but the sea lion had been thrown to the floor.

I picked up the sea lion and got Celeste to put all the other dogs back in her pink purse, and I started to move pink purse from the room. Celeste insisted that Ripley wanted to play with pink purse, so I tried talking to Ripley: "Ripley, Celeste needs to get to sleep, so do you mind if I move pink purse and you can play with it later?"

Celeste is sitting in bed looking at me like I've lost my mind at this point. "Daddy, Ripley is a toy dog."

The First Camelia of 2007

The First Camellia of 2007
I took this pic last week, but only just now got the new camphone working to post it. Our camellia (Camellia japonica var. ????) finally started blooming!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Postcrossing: 304

With work as crazy as it's been of late, I've neglected a lot of things, most obviously my blogging, but also Postcrossing. This morning, I took a moment and requested and sent off four new postcards and then ran the math on things. I have sent ±304 cards thus far to 32 countries.

Most of them continue to come from/go to Finland. Here's the breakdown:
121 cards (39.80%) involve Finland; 42 (13.82%) involve Germany; 20 (9.87%) involve the Netherlands; and 19 (6.25%) involve the United Kingdom.

France and Portugal are tied with 10 cards (3.29%) each, as are New Zealand and Brazil with nine cards (2.96%) each. Eight cards (2.63%) involve Canada and five (1.64%) involve Spain.

Austria, the Czech Republic and Japan involve four cards (1.32%) each. Three cards (0.99%) have come from/gone to each Belgium and Russia. Two cards (0.66%) involve Australia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Singapore and Slovenia each.

I have gotten from or sent a card (0.33%) each of Croatia, Estonia, Iran, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Digging a Hole

Yesterday, while emptying the new dirt from our the compost bin and pile to fill in some of the garden beds, I remembered my brother's hole to China. When we were kids, he spent a bit of time working hole in the side yard with the aim of tunneling through to the other side of the world. It ended up being only two feet or so deep, but had he made it through to the other side, it would have been a bit of a surprise where he'd've ended up.

According to Zefrank's "If the Earth Were a Sandwich" tool, directly opposite our old sideyard is a spot in the Indian Ocean, about 1,500 miles due west of Cervantes, Western Australia. (Via Keywords)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Scene: This Evening

We were at the park a bit late and saw I--- and P--- with their kids, B--- and F---. B--- is crazy about pirates, so I told I--- and P--- about Piratz Tavern, which I'd only just heard of a few days ago (via DC Baby). They said to e-mail them the info and they would definitely check it out.

After they'd left, Evelin realized she was a bit peckish and suggested we give the tavern a try ourselves. It was late, but Quinn had had a good nap and Celeste seemed in fine spirits (and has seemed ready to push her bedtime back a half hour or so of late). So ... we bundled everyone back into the BOB and went home to drive to Silver Spring.

On the way there, everyone was happy. Celeste was very keen to get some macaroni and cheese (as a two-year-old, her food adventurism is on the decline). When we arrived, however, we were greeted with the dreaded: "Do you have reservations?" Since we dinnae, it was a 30–40 minute wait. Apparently, they don't usually accept reservations, but the maitre d' suggested that, in the future, we call ahead, especially with the little ones, to get on the waiting list before we arrived.

Instead of waiting, we tried to interest Celeste in Ethiopian or Indian, but she wasn't interested. We ended up at a so-so Mexican place further down Georgia Avenue. Both girls had a good time, and Quinn did a great job spooning up beans and rice and spinach from my enchilada to feed herself.

On the way home, Celeste kept insisting she wanted to go "somewhere else." (Not an uncommon plea when she doesn't want to go straight home.) But it was around 7:30 p.m. at that point, which is the outside edge of Celeste's bedtime and well past Quinn's. On the drive home, Quinn chattered and cried much of the way; Celeste was talking and playing and suddenly dropped off soundly to sleep.

Scene: Earlier This Afternoon

Evelin is upstairs napping. I am upstairs trying to get Quinn settled for a nap. Celeste is playing happily downstairs. Just as Quinn seems to tip over from resisting to giving in to sleep, a scream rises from downstairs. I pop Quinn in the crib (and crying commences), holler for Evelin to see if she can help Quinn, and then run down the stairs to find ...

... Celeste's butt and legs poking out from under the couch. (The proof that I am a good father is that I didn't even think of taking a picture until hours after she was extricated from the situation.) She was fine, just a bit scared and freaked out, but still worried about the Matchbox race car she'd crawled under there to get.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Water Cycle

The girls each have their bathtime water "thing."

Quinn gets herself into a splashing frenzy, slapping the water until her head is soaked and she's sputtering. Celeste things this is a riot. The first time it happened, Celeste pointed and said (with volume): "She making hot water!" And ever since then the Quinn splash-o-rama has been dubbed "hot water" ... and now it sounds like Quinn is trying to say "hot water" whenever she's about to start splashing.

Celeste, who usually gets to enjoy some solo bathtub time after Quinn gets out each night, has taken to lingering while the water drains out of the tub. One time she did this, I told her how the water flowed down the drain, through the pipes in our wall, out to the sewer under the street where it was carried to the water treatment facility and cleaned before being discharged back into the environment where it goes back into creeks and streams that make their way into rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay from where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. I also told her that all along the way, sun and wind act upon the water, causing evaporation, which makes water droplets go up into the sky where they condense into clouds and eventually cause rain and snow, which comes back to earth to recharge snowcaps and aquifers and fill rivers and lakes and reservoirs, which are eventually tapped by the water company to fill the pipe under our street that connects to the pipe in our house, which then fills Celeste's bathtub!

Now, pretty much every night, as the water drains, Celeste says: "Daddy, say those words again!" as she pulls the plug.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Daylight Savings Time

All in all, the girls seem to be adjusting to the early changeover to Daylight Savings Time fairly well. On Sunday, everyone was good and tired by 5:00 p.m. EDT, which made the normal 6:30–7:00 p.m. bedtime work out well. As the week's progressed, however, we have had a bit of slippage at least for Celeste.

Last night, I kept her up a little later than she should have been because she'd had a short nap and because I was hanging up the Iris roman blinds to replace the curtain that fell down in her room.

Once she'd been read to and tucked in, it wasn't long before she popped up, climbed on a chair and turned on her light. Over the monitor we hear: "Celeste woke up now!" So I go up and put her back in bed and move the chairs out of the room. After some protestations and crying, she fairly quickly ends up going to sleep.

Around 9:30 p.m., I'm on my way to bed and I peek in to check on her and Celeste is curled up, on top of her covers, sans pyjamas, and no diaper.

It was a little warm in the room (it got up to 81°F yesterday and it was humid), so I can understand the being out from under the covers, but I can only think of one or two times that she's taken off her own diaper like that. We managed to get a Pull-Ups on her without waking her and tucked a blanket or two around her.

This morning, Evelin said, she went in to the bathroom and pulled down the Pull-Ups to go to the potty without a second look. (Normally, she hates the Pull-Ups and the mere suggestion that she wear one for a nap or nighttime is greeted with scorn.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Given our location in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, I don't like to use chemicals on our lawn or sidewalks — in fairness, if we lived in the Death Valley Watershed, I'd feel the same way — so I use a light hand with fertilizer on the ogräs and I don't use salt or ice melt on the sidewalks. Instead when it snows I shovel and toss a bit of sand over things. It does help the sun melt things a little bit, but really the sand is beneficial for the added traction it provides.

That's why we have a bucket of sand on the front porch. A bucket that Monday Celeste discovered. And that yesterday Quinn discovered.
Sandbox!Sandbox, Shared

The second picture was quickly followed by an admonishment that Celeste found quite funny: "Quinn, don't put sand in your sister's ear ..."

ADDENDUM: Video from Thursday afternoon

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Little Existentialist

This afternoon, Celeste came over to me telling me all the noises that dogs can make. I complemented her on it and asked if she was going to grow up to be a puppy dog. Usually this sort of statement is responded to with a look that says "Daddy, you must be crazy" and the comment, "Celeste is a little girl." Today, however, Celeste responded with a head shake, no, and a slightly worried look.

I next asked her if she was going to be a veterinarian. She said no. And then I asked if she was going to be an astronaut, channeling a bit of Great Lake Swimmers's "See You on the Moon. She said no.

So I asked, "So kiddo, what do you think you want to be when you grow up?" Very earnestly, Celeste says, "Nothing."

In all seriousness, I told her, "No, you are going to grow up to be something." The pressure was too much for her, and Celeste just started bawling.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dog In My Throat ...

Celeste explains in a first-ever "Lifechanges ... Delayed" audio blog post (click on the button to play):

[direct link for MP3 file]

This evening, on her way to bed, Celeste paused and said, "Maybe daddy can go do the doctor to get the dog taken out of his throat!"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Apparently, a love of blueberries is a familial trait...

Celeste at about 50 weeks:
Blueberries With Dinner

Quinn at about 46 weeks:
Blueberry Girl

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Howling at the Moon

This morning, a little before 6:00 a.m., Evelin was feeding Quinn in our bed and I sat up thinking I heard something. Evelin said, "Celeste." It sounded like a little sleep whimper or maybe a cry, so I got up to check on her ... and there was Celeste sitting up in bed with two of her dogs — Ripley and Stripy Pink — on her lap howling at the full moon that was shining in through her window.

On Thursday night, we ended up having to take the curtain down off that window because of some structural failure of the plaster around where the curtain rod attached to the wall. We thought about tacking a blanket over the window or something but instead decided to just leave it open. (This morning I finished patching things, but instead of putting the curtain back up in the patched spot, we're going to find some other sort of covering for the window.)

Celeste was especially happy to see the moon this morning since it was too cloudy Saturday night to see the eclipse of the moon. We hadn't told her about the eclipse, so she wasn't bummed about missing it; she just likes going out to see the moon every night before bed.

Because of the repair work, I had to move around Celeste's crib and dresser, but that's not the only thing that's making her say "Everything looks different" when she walks in the room. Last weekend, we went to Ikea and picked up a new light for her ceiling: a Smila Sol. It gives everything a yellowish cast, but it's fun for her room. She wanted to also get Smila Måne and Smila Stjärna wall lamps, too, but Evelin and I stood behind our only-the-sun policy.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Come On, Come On!

Sometimes Celeste pops out with something that makes me wonder about my own language use — not interesting things like popping out with bits of Japanese or French or Cherokee or anything or even really bad things like dropping the F-bomb. Instead it's things like this:

Today was a good day potty-wise: No accidents means Celeste gets to go through three vignettes of Elmo's Potty Time or three letters of Me Can Only Eat ... with Cookie Monster. Tonight, after her bath, Celeste and I came downstairs to play Cookie Monster and when the screensaver cleared I saw a couple of work e-mails that piqued my curiosity.

Instead of going immediately to, I opened a few of the e-mails to try and figure out what the discussion meant for the issue that I am working on. Celeste got a little impatient after the third e-mail in the series: "No! Celeste want Cookie! Come on!"

"Come on!" was delivered with the perfect inflection of irritation. I burst out laughing (probably the wrong thing to do, but she smiled), and then asked her if she picked that phrase up from me or mumma or from one of the grand'rents. Evelin and I were both implicated as was one grandmother, but the other grandmother was cleared of any connection to that phrase.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

No Wonder I Take the Kids to Ikea So Often ...

Your Inner European is Swedish!

Relaxed and peaceful.
You like to kick back and enjoy life.

... although I'm sure Evelin would dispute the "relaxed" description. (via Transblawg)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

All By Myself ...

For the first time in a long time I'm all by myself, about a thousand miles away from Evelin and the girls — I'm in Orlando for my first tradeshow since Quinn was born. It's a very buttoned-down and conservative crowd here at the Orange County Convention Center ... except that the show I'm here isn't the only one this weekend. There's some tae kwan do (태권도/跆拳道) meet going on, a truckers' conference, and Megacon, which means there are a bunch of cosplay kids walking around intermixed with the suits.

My flight was at 6:35 a.m., so I ended up leaving the house around 3:15 a.m. to get to Dulles in time to park, catch the shuttle, and then queue. Of course, I had my usual no-fly "extra scrutiny," but I think I've figured out the best way to handle it: Make myself known as early as possible and carry my passport. I ended up getting my boarding pass in about the same amount of time as if I'd been a normal passenger in the normal line (based on when I saw the group of kids who'd been in line behind me getting up to the podium). The flight itself was pretty straightforward, and by 9:30 a.m., I was checking in to my motel and walking out to find something to eat.

This show, although mixed with some bursts of frenetic activity, is not as all-consuming as some, so hopefully I can use some of the downtime to dig some entries out of the backlog (backblog?) of things I haven't blogged of late ...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Listen Closely [From the backblog]

Last Saturday, as we were getting ready for B---'s third birthday party, Evelin had the idea that we should burn a CD of kids' tunes for him. Naturally, since B--- is German, most of the kids' music he has in German stuff; Evelin thought it might be fun to give him some English-language songs for him. Celeste was helping me pick songs, and she was insisting we put "the pig song" on the disc.

I had no idea what song she was talking about*, so I searched for "pig" on the hard disk that has all the music I've offloaded from CDs and/or acquired digitally.

Nothing promising popped up, but I was intrigued by the Gina Rocco and the Rockettes [ MySpace | label ] cut "Pigtails" from her album Sea Tulip, so I played it. Celeste was still on my lap, and at first I didn't notice how closely she was listening to the lyrics:
As she cut off her pigtails / Put them in a supermarket bag
Said, I don't care what you do with them / I just want to forget
Forget my hair / Forget that it was ever there
Forget, forget my hair

Then she walked past her shadow / Without even recognizing it
Said, There isn't anything to lose / And there's no where to hide
I cut my hair / Is there anyone under there?
Forget, forget my hair

As she cut off her pigtails / Put them in a supermarket bag
Said, I don't care what you do with them / I just want to forget
Forget my hair / Forget everything I was last year
Forget, forget my hair
Suddenly Celeste sort of quietly asked: "Why did she cut her hair?" Evelin's been talking to Celeste about getting a haircut on and off, so maybe that's why it stuck in her mind, but clearly she was listening to the lyrics quite closely.

This afternoon, I was playing her a cut from Gruff Rhys, "Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru" from the album Candylion. I told her to listen closely to the song, and she did, but it was obvious she was confused.

I explained to her that the song was in a language called Welsh, and reminded her how B--- and his family spoke German and how Ms. ხ--- spoke Georgian, and she nodded. I then tried to get her to focus on/isolate the word gyrru in the song (easy to do, since it's repeated quite often), and she nodded. I then told her that gyrru is the Welsh word for "driving" and that the song is all about buses and trains and transport. Upon hearing this, Celeste broke into a big smile and started liking the tune ...

*A week later, Evelin realized Celeste might have been thinking of "Pig Island" by Scott Bakula, from the Sandra Boyton CD Philadelphia Chickens.

Per an interview Gruff gave to BBC Wales: "There's a track called 'Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru,' which means 'Driving Driving Driving' — it's a road song. The lyrics are about transport, getting to A to B by rowing boat, or helicopter."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Why We Won't Go to the Skating Party

Each February, one of Evelin's uncles hosts a skating party, but we almost always cannot attend because of the Maryland–Massachusetts distance and February is a bad time of year work-wise for me. (I think the one and only one I've been to was when Evelin and I were dating and I was living in Northampton.) This year, however, Evelin had a new twist on our excuse for missing the party:
Wish we could come. However, it is much too far to drive, especially with children who won't wear hats, refuse to wear mittens, scoff at socks, just barely tolerate shoes, think that coats are for wussies, and cry because they are cold.
It's true: The girls hate coats.

Thinking of "hate" (the word, not the emotion), Celeste had been saying she hates things a lot lately and it really bugs me. It's usually in relation to food ("Celeste doesn't want [black beans/Veggie Burger/carrots/whatever]. Celeste hate it."), but sometimes she says it about people or toys or the park or whatever. When it first registered on me, I wondered where she picked up that word from — probably from a book, but Evelin and I both have caught ourselves saying we hate various things when, in truth, "hate" is a much stronger word than is warranted.

Initially, I tried to redirect her to a word like "loathe," in part because it's cute/funny to hear a toddler say she loathes something, but Evelin rightly noted that "loathe" is a pretty strong word when what Celeste really means is "dislike" (and often she doesn't even really mean that, she just doesn't want asparagus/jackfruit/apricots/whatever at the moment). So, we've been trying redirect her to "dislike."

It's been a week or two since the height of hating things, but I think we got the point to sink in. She still sometimes insists that she hates something, but more often she says she dislikes or doesn't want it. The really cute ones are when she catches herself about to say hate, pauses and then comes back with dislikes.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


This afternoon, we had a potty training breakthrough, or at least I hope we did. I was in the livingroom with Quinn, when Celeste came running in saying she needed to go potty. It was the first time she's directly asked to go to the bathroom without being prompted — and she wasn't joking she really did have to go.

Back when we started working on potty training, Celeste was content with stickers as a reward/inducement for going potty. Then it shifted to Hello Kitty stickers. And then, after a bad stretch of potty regression, she started getting chocolates — specifically, Hershey's Kissable. In a fit of disgust over the using food as a bribe, I tried to redirect her to stickers, including a bunch of dog stickers, with very little success. ("Celeste go peepee. Celeste want chocolate!)

And now the bathroom looks a bit like a booth at a carnival midway with high-value (to Celeste) Little People figurines, which are the reward for going number two entirely in the toilet. Celeste has a pretty strict hierarchy for her figures: the dogs, chickens and pigs ("Percy Piggy") are her favorites; they are granted access to her pink purse, to the "puppy house," can drive the bus, and Quinn isn't allowed to play with them. The rabbits ("Honey Bunny") are a close second tier — allowed everywhere, but don't have to always travel with everyone else. New additions are a cat and a bear; it remains to be seen where they end up, but right now they are both on at least the second tier.

At the very bottom are any and all human figurines. Just about the only person Celeste will bother with is Carlos the Bus Driver ... and that's usually just to give him to Quinn. The other animals vary between being loathed and being tolerated, but I have hopes that a few of the ones in the bathroom will prove intriguing, if nothing else.

I started building up our stock of Little People figures by scouring the local thrift stores. Even if only one of the guys in the bag is of value, it's worth the 60¢ to just toss the others in the toy chest. But that route is probably exhausted, at least in the short run.

Hopefully, Celeste will have the potty down within a few months (and that she buys my attempts to talk up the little dragon, kangaroo, stalk of corn, and other non-dog/pig/chicken figures), so I'm not having to spend too much time scouring eBay for lots like this one ...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bubbles in Baltimore

After dropping my mother-in-law off at the airport this morning, I asked Celeste if she wanted to go home. She'd been a little down that we were just dropping M--- off curbside instead of going in to the airport and doing some planewatching, so it's not surprising she wasn't ready to head straight home — "Go somewhere," she said.

So I called Evelin to see how she and Quinn were doing and if she had any plans for the afternoon. Nothing was on tap, so Celeste and I headed north on the Baltimore–Washington Parkway. Pretty quickly, we were at the Inner Harbor and I was pointing out Camden Yards and urging her to yell out "Go Sox!"

Since we'd only planned to be dropping M--- off at BWI, neither Celeste nor I were really dressed for the weather (upper 30°Fs and windy). Luckily, I at least found a pair of socks for her in the T.R.U.C.K., so it was only a cold couple of blocks from the parking garage to the National Aquarium.

Celeste With the Bubbles Once inside the aquarium, Celeste — and a lot of other kids about her size — was immediately enamored with the big tubes of bubbles. She kept running back and forth from one tube to another, watching the bubbles. Once we made it into the main area, Celeste was fascinated with the cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus), southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana), and the big green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Since the aquarium was fairly crowded, we had to check Celeste's stroller, which meant I was carrying her much of the time. It worked out pretty well since the higher position gave her a better view into most of the enclosures/tanks, but I was worried whenever she'd get excited that she might end up going for a swim. It didn't help that about halfway through she started talking about going swimming. (Friday morning, Evelin took her to an indoor pool and they had a great time.)

We gradually made our way up to the top floor where we found Celeste's favorite exhibit (at least up to that point) — the puffins (Fratercula arctica). Back in September, I picked up a copy of Night of the Pufflings at the estate sale in Maine, and it's one of the books that Celeste has been reading a lot lately. She was quite excited to see puffins up close, and we got to talk about lundi (Icelandic for puffin) a lot and we went back to see them several times.

We continued through the rainforest and then down through the main tank. Celeste would run down the ramps and then sit along the rails to watch the fish for the first few levels, but as we got deeper and down to the sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) and other sharks, I was carrying her again.
Celeste in the Big TankCeleste in the Big TankCeleste in the Big Tank

We hadn't bought tickets to the dolphin show, but we did get to see part of it, at least the underwater side of it. Seeing a dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) jump is cool, but it's even cooler to see one zoom through the water, disappear above the surface and then plunge back into the water with a curtain of bubbles. Celeste also thought it was neat to see the dolphin's bellybutton when she swam close to the tank window.

After the dolphins, we had a snack and then headed into the Australian river gorge exhibit, something I've been wanting to see for three years now. It was pretty crowded, and Celeste was flagging, so we didn't get to go though it animal by animal like I might have wanted to, but it still was an impressive exhibit. A little smaller than I expected, but lots of interesting animals, including a couple of grey-headed flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) hanging from the ceiling.

We made a quick pass through the gift shop and the bubbles before heading back down I-95 to home. I was pretty sure Celeste would take a nap on the ride home, but she spent most of the ride reading Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight, which she found on the sale table. (Funnily enough, the author, Jerry Pallotta, is Celeste's second cousin.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Conversation With Celeste

I'm way behind on blogging, but between work and the cold that will not die I just haven't had the will to get back into the blogging habit. Still somethings cannot be allowed to be forgotten, such as ...

I get home to find Celeste chewing on the foot of one of a toy rabbit. She explains to me, rather excitedly, "Celeste chewing on Honey Bunny's foot. Celeste doing a number on Honey Bunny's foot."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Unclear on the Concept

While we were in Louisiana for Christmas (and I really need to finish that recap), Celeste picked up a copy of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus at the library. Since we've been back, she's checked it out from our library several times and when she sees pigeons (Columba livia), she mentions them wanting to drive buses.

However, Celeste seems to miss the point of the book. By page 3, when the pigeon first says "Hey, can I drive the bus?" Celeste enthusiastically gives her consent. If the book played out from there, by page 6, there would be a horrible crash and burnt feathers amidst the carnage.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

8 Minutes on Tuesday

Celeste didn't nap, but Quinn slept well for nearly two hours. When she woke up, we decided to make a short film demonstrating Quinn's new consonants and her rapidly increasing scooting skillz. Celeste provides commentary, directorial suggestions, and a aside into the secret lives of buses. (YouTube limits uploads to 100 MB, so this one is hosted through Google Video.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Celeste Says —

Talking about a piece that had been forced into a puzzle: "That chicken uncomfortable."

Most nights when the light is turned off after her bedtime stories: "It dark."

One night when I say "It's dark" because she didn't: "Well, turn on the light."

When trying to make sense of something: "That feels right." or "That sounds right." or "That how that goes."

When she's not sure of the answer: "Uh-huh."

When I ask her what time it is: "Uh-huh. Eye. Eee." (The digital clock read 2:13 p.m.)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Date Night ...

Since Celeste was born, I think Evelin and I have managed to get out by ourselves maybe five or six times, usually when one or more of the grand'rents are around (or we're around them). Saturday, however, one of Evelin's friends said thank you for some help with her résumé by watching the girls.

We set it up so both of the girls would be in bed by the time we were to leave, and for the most part it worked. Celeste took her first nap in a week, but still went down a bit past 7:00 p.m. and konked out minutes before we were due to leave. Quinn woke up for some additional nursing as we were getting ready, but we still made it out about the time we'd hoped to.

We figured we had three or so hours before Quinn might wake again, so we weren't planning to run far away, but we did want to try something different. It was Restaurant Week, and we thought about looking for somewhere interesting, but I also checked Upromise to see if we could get a kick-in to the girls' college funds. Looking over the options, I'd suggested Tapatinis to Evelin and she was willing to give it a try.

I hope I wouldn't pick some place to eat just because of a promised 8% contribution to a 529 plan, but that was one of Tapatinis's selling points. Plus it is in Barracks Row, which outside of the usual parts of the region we frequent and it's supposed to be interesting and up-and-coming — <irony>all important to maintaining any shred of indie-hipster cred I might still have.</irony>

It was a little past 8:00 p.m. when we got to Southeast and ended up parking under I-395, near the Navy Yard, with no problems. Despite it being early, I thought it'd be more crowded, maybe not Adams Morgan crowded, but more than it was. Despite not having reservations, we were able to get a table at Tapatinis right away; the place was busy, but not packed ... although it might have been getting fuller as the night went on. It was a bit loud — a mix of old and new disco — but not so much so that we couldn't talk.

As the name implies, Tapatinis is tapas (albeit not really of the traditional sort) and martinis (traditional and otherwise). I had a "classic gin" martini and it was decent; Evelin had a margarita martini, which we're pretty sure was just a margarita mixed/chilled in a cocktail shaker and stirred up. The food was nice, for the most part. The hummos on the sampler platter was a little off (something the women at the table next to us commented on too — they were watching our expressions as we tried it), but the baba ganoush was good as was the pita. I liked the bruschetta caprese and Evelin enjoyed her peppered beef and asparagus. The olives in both my martini and the dishes, were basic canned olives — that was probably the most disappointing thing for me.

After dinner we walked up 8th Street toward Eastern Market and ended up getting coffee and doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts* before heading home to find that Quinn had woken up about 10 minutes earlier. She was quietly (and sleepily) trying to figure out who this person was who was holding her when we walked in the door.

*Evelin noted a while ago that the music for the "America Runs on Dunkin'" campaign sounded like They Might Be Giants and we finally googled it to find that, yep, she was right. "Lefty Loosey" [Google Video] is a really fun little tune.

Sunday, January 07, 2007



Quinn's chickenpox seems to be progressing well. She's not exactly happy, but not too irritable, and she doesn't mind when I call her Spot. On Saturday, it was 73°F and we went to the National Arboretum. We figured an out-of-doors location like that would help minimize the chance of Quinn spreading the pox to others, but it was quite crowded — especially for early January. We found ourselves having to warn away little kids and families on several occasions.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Pox on Your House

They don't give you fancy quarantine signs these days, but we do have an official diagnosis: Quinn has chickenpox. We noticed a little something on her chin last night and this morning Evelin took off Quinn's pyjamas to find a bunch of red spots with little blisters inside of them. Evelin and I both had this pox as kids; Celeste has had the vaccine; Quinn's just the lucky one ...

We're not sure where she got it; the doctor said it could have been from some random person on the airplane or in the airport or from someone while we were in Louisiana. But she wasn't contagious herself until this weekend ... and we have another week or two before she's in the clear.

And the fun part for Quinn, since she's still under 12 months, she'll still have to get the vaccine. This early of an exposure isn't considered effective in ensuring immunity into later life.

UPDATE: Evelin corrected me: We have preliminary diagnosis of chickenpox (Varicella simplex). If the pox spots continue to increase/spread for the next day or two — and as of this morning it looks like they are — then we get an official diagnosis.

Of course, even without an official diagnosis, I did get one humorous misunderstanding of what Quinn has. I e-mailed by French translator/proofreader about the issue we have in production and mentioned that I was out of the office that afternoon because one of my girls has chickenpox, putting the word la varicelle. This morning I got an e-mail from her: "I am glad you had a good diagnosis for your little daughter and I guess an adequate treatment for smallpox." La variole is close to la varicelle, but I imagine the doctor would have been more concerned ...

And thinking of the doctor, he told Evelin that because of the chickenpox vaccine most of the people currently in med school (and more than a few now in practice) would not recognize a case of chickenpox because they'd never seen an infection before. This Evelin and me to start wondering if we should contact some of the local medical schools to see if they'd like to help fund Quinn's college fund in return for letting her model the disease to students ...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Farewell to Ford

Back during the 1976 presidential campaign, I was the only kid in my 2nd Grade class who knew that Bob Dole was Jerry Ford's running mate. I kind of remember thinking that Dole was the guy responsible for the bananas. I also remember having a Ford–Dole badge, but I don't recall where I picked it up.

On Sunday, Evelin, the girls and I went down to The Mall and almost ended up in the line for the viewing of President Ford in the Capitol building. We were actually headed to the U.S. Botanic Garden, but it turned out to be closed, so we went to Air & Space instead. The line was only about an hour, and we toyed with the idea of paying our respects, but decided that we probably only had an hour before the girls would need snacks and to head home for a nap, so waiting in line would be a bad way to pass the time.

Today, on my way home to watch the girls for the afternoon, I ended up getting caught by a motorcade leaving Ford's funeral. I spent a half-hour or so stopped on the Southeast/Southwest Freeway waiting for the post-funeral motorcade to pass. Most of the time was just sitting there with no-one coming up from Maine Ave. with the occasional police car/motorcycle passing. Finally, "normal" traffic was flowing next to me, but my lanes stayed blocked for another five or ten minutes for some reason known only to the police who were holding us up.

Normally, I might have been more interested in who was passing, but I was making Evelin late for work, so I was getting quite annoyed. Of course, once the blockade ended and I was able to get on my way, I ended up getting caught by a train when I was just a mile or two away from home ...

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Traditions

Last night, Evelin and I toyed with the idea of doing another GMT New Year's Eve, but 7:00 p.m. EST was in the middle of bath and bedtime, so we ended up missing the celebration. Instead, we had a quiet night watching Cars (I fell asleep about halfway through), and we were in bed in time for Newfoundland Standard Time New Year. Quinn did wake Evelin for EST New Year, but it was a fairly tame celebration.

New Year's Day I spent most of the morning in the kitchen. Over the years, I've been looking for new ways to fix our mandatory black-eyed peas and greens for the day. This year, I decided to try a gumbo aux herbes.

My grandmother gave me a copy of Creole Cookery for Christmas and while flipping through it, I noticed the recipe for a gumbo consisting mostly of a mix of seven (or more) greens. On Christmas Day, I mentioned to my grandmother that I was thinking of making a gumbo aux herbes for New Year's, and she said that that was one of her mother's specialties — which pretty much cinched things for me: I had to give it a try.

Saturday, during naps, I ran out and bought the requisite cabbage, collards, spinach, parsley, scallions, mustard greens, lettuce, and kale. Most of the greens were pretty picked over, so I had a little trouble pulling together the three pounds I needed (I ended up using the recipe from The Picayune's Creole Cookbook). On Monday, I started cooking. It took a while to clean the greens (which barely fit in the pot until they started wilting) and then they had to boil for two hours. As it was cooking, Evelin and I both grew increasingly wary, but it actually turned out quite tasty ... with a lot of leftovers. (The black-eyed peas, however, didn't turn out too good; I think it was the bag of beans, not the way I prepped them.)

Gumbo aux Herbes
  • 3 pounds of mixed greens — collards, mustard, turnip, beets, kale, spinach, parsley, lettuce, cabbage, scallions, etc.
  • water or stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 toes garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 112 teaspoon ground allspice
  • salt, pepper, & Tabasco
Clean the greens, cover with water (I added a few bouillon cubes), and boil for two hours. Strain out the greens and reserve the boiling water. Chop the greens fine. Heat the fat and sauté the onion until they start to brown. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add the greens, three to four quarts of the boiling water, and the spices. Simmer for another hour. Season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Serve over rice.

I don't know if I'll be cooking this in 2008 or if I'll go back to my hoppin' johns recipe or try something else, but it was neat to be trying something my great-grandmother used to make.