Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Reed's good behavior and Sam's great swimming

It's about time I said something nice about Reed. He's been sleeping so well in his big-boy bed.

He's been peeing on the potty! I hadn't even considered potty training yet, so he surprised me. He's pretty excited about the whole thing.

He discovered a new way to sit in his high chair:

He sat perfectly still for his hair cut!


And he has been Daddy's most dedicated and excited swimming fan. Here he is watching Sam swim the 500 Free (live on the webcam at Harvard this weekend).

Which, by the way, he won for his age group with a time of 5:04 (SO FAST), and a 10 second drop from his seed time. Ridiculous.


Sam is having the meet of his life. We can't wait for him to get home tonight. He'll be so tired and so happy. He is swimming best times in everything he swims (15 events over 3 days). Other highlights, for those who are/were swimmers, 2:09 in the 200 IM and 55 seconds in the 100 fly. DAMN! We are currently waiting (the webcam window is open as I write) for his 200 backstroke. He should be getting in the water in about 15 minutes. This is his best event, so we're excited to see it. (love this webcam thing!)

The kids were so good, busy, and happy all weekend, so I was able to get a lot done. I made some home improvement decisions without Sam's input so we hope he's happy!.

I just got an update: Sam and 3 of his teammates from Maine Masters just broke the New England Record in the 400 Medley Relay (Sam swam fly) in 35+ age group and earlier today, the New England Record in the 800 Free Relay in the 25+ age group. That's a good day!

Lest she be forgotton

Skyler, my very funny and helpful girl, showing off one of her tiny little drawings she leaves in every corner of our house

Some good ones from the weekend:

Skyler, looking over Reed's shoulder while he scribbles on the Doodle-Pro:
"Wow, buddy. I really like your drawing. Are you working on an abstract?"

How Skyler has been answering me this weekend, unprompted. No idea where this came from:
"Yes, Your majesty?"

Skyler to Reed in the car:
"Do you want to work on a very very special project with me today?"
Me: "What are you thinking of, Skyler?"
Skyler: "It's a secret. Well actually, I don't know. I haven't come up with anything yet."

Skyler, on looking at Reed's totally rearranged room after his "nap time."
"Oh, What in tarnation!!!?" (Again, no idea where this came from)

Friday, March 27, 2009

See Sam Swim (quite literally)

Sam is currently swimming in the New England Masters Championship Meet at Harvard. This meet is the pinnacle of all of his training and mental energy. To say he was psyched up for this meet is like saying that water is wet. The meet runs all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And I have been watching him from here at school.

Unless you are his parents, his children, his sister or a dear friend, you may not care this much, but I am finding it very cool and fun to watch the live action. I just watched him swim the 50 Backstroke with a bunch of my students gathered around my computer. (It is Friday, after all)

Here's how to access the live webcam (sorry there is no direct link).
Lisa, this is mostly for you!

1. Go to:
2. Click on Schedule on the left.
3. Click on the New England Championships at Harvard (March 27-29), the 3rd meet listed.
4. Click on the link for the webcam.
5. Click LOAD webcam and LOAD scoreboard so you know when he is swimming and in what lane.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Found: advice from myself

Today is FOUND day. I found my missing employee badge, a missing Macbeth test, my school keys, (this is not like me, to lose things) and this:

I've been using an old journal from 2 years ago, and I found a half sheet of paper this morning sticking out of it. I only vaguely remember writing this, but it is definitely my handwriting. I asked my creative writing classes to list their mantras or creeds. These were mine. I like them. (There are thoughts on life, running, and teaching all mixed together).

I found these to be good reminders:
Be loving and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
Make deliberate choices in your day-to-day.
You’ll be surprised what you can actually do.
Laugh a lot.
to be smart, strong and happy.
Don’t waste time.
If you know what you have to do, do it.
Fill your diet with more vegetables than anything else.
Hills always look worse from the bottom looking up; once you are actually on the hill, it’s never as bad as it seemed.
Some kids need you to be tough and accept nothing but their best. Other kids just need some compassion and an adult to like them.
Go outside.
Keep writing.
Keep running.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Look{s} like the innocent flower, but {he's} the serpent under't"

Watching a video on the "puter"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

girls just want to have fun, i mean win

Playing soccer on Wednesday nights just keeps getting better and better. I'm getting my moves back from my younger soccer days, my kicking muscles aren't ridiculously sore the morning after anymore, and we've been on a winning streak.

We played two games last night in the "playoffs" (there are a whopping 4 teams total) and won them both. That basically means we won some beer money. And some glory. Obviously, I signed up to play for the next 8 week session.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Now will you believe me when I say my son is crazy? (PHOTO ADDED)

This is where Reed (well, his legs) made his magical appearance:

I'm pretty cute, right?

Here is Reed watching himself on video from a year ago,
back when he was innocent and easy.

I was asked by two friends if I stopped to take pictures of Reed during the climax of the following story. I have no pictures, and you'll see why.

We have a new trick to keep Reed in his room: latching the door shut. I rigged it so I can latch it while still being able to see into the room through a crack in the door. Perfect. He hasn't slept during nap time, but he does stay in his room at least, so I can get something done.

Last night, I put Reed to bed, latched him in, and sat down with Skyler in the family room. 10 minutes later, I heard a loud crack in the ceiling, looked up, and the heating grate had busted through and was hanging by one corner and Reed's legs were dangling through the hole. I jumped up and pushed his legs back up the hole as well as I could, said a prayer, and bolted up the stairs to pull him out of the hole. He was hanging there by his elbows. The scariest part? He wasn't really alarmed by this predicament. He giggled.

You see, there is a heating grate on his floor and he pulled it out and then put all his weight on the grate on the bottom which busted through. You see, I should have predicted he would have done that, knowing my son. There is now a very heavy (and low-to-the-floor) bookshelf atop the heating vent.

So, no, I don't have pictures of his legs dangling through the ceiling. But I will never forget the image.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I need to talk to you about these two desserts

I've been baking quite a lot lately, and these are two desserts that stand out and must be shared.

First, Lemony Lemon Cake {besides anything chocolaty or custardy, lemony is my favorite kind of dessert}

I find lemons very pretty, don't you? You'll need a lot of them for this recipe. And you'll spend a good bit of time zesting, but it's worth it for the 2 lemon cakes this recipe yields.

Beautiful, fluffy, lemony dough.

Finished cake:

Next, Individual Croissant Bread Puddings with Dried Cherries, Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Pecans.
I made these for Sam for Valentine's day and they were sooooooooo gooooooooood.
Like, we didn't speak the whole time we were eating them. We just hummed.
I'm really a fan of bread pudding, but when the "bread" is "croissants" it's just ridiculous.

The recipes:


source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
  2. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  5. For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Individual Croissant Bread Puddings with Dried Cherries, Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Pecans


  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • Canola oil for greasing
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean* (i just used vanilla extract)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 day-old croissants
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely grated bittersweet chocolate (from about 1 ounce)


Preheat to the oven to broil.

Put the cherries in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit for 20 minutes, then drain.

Spread the pecans out in a pie tin, place on the middle rack of the oven, and carefully watch for 1 to 2 minutes or until the nuts are golden. Cool, then chop.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two ovenproof bowls (with 4-inch diameters) with canola oil.

Add the heavy cream to a medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds from the pod into the liquid, then add the pod. Simmer over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove the vanilla bean pod.

Combine egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together. Slowly pour in the cream mixture while whisking.

Tear the croissants into 6 pieces each and place in a medium bowl, then cover with the remaining cream and egg mixture. Allow the croissants to absorb the liquid for about 10 minutes. Add the cherries.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared bowls and sprinkle the top of each bowl with the chocolate and toasted pecans. Place them in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until set, then serve.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Making the most of March

We are half way through March and I haven't had hateful or evil thoughts about Maine. To the contrary, things have been lovely and sunny and our attitudes have been quite spirited.

50 degree weather helps. And happy outside play is also a huge relief.

We could have even played at the playground today if it weren't for the 3 feet of compacted snow. But seriously! I'm not complaining! These kids find making buckets of snow-rock soup (yum) to be a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

The best part is that thawing/muddy/fresh air spring smell.

Overall, she runs and she loves me

Here is a survey I saw on facebook and gave to Skyler, age 4, about me, age 29 {wink, wink}

1. What is something Mom always says to you?
I love you.

2. What makes Mom happy?
cleaning up. {so true}

3. What makes Mom sad?
me being bad.

4. How does your Mom make you laugh?
by tickling me.

5. What was your Mom like as a child?

6. How old is your Mom?
29. {awesome}

7. How tall is your Mom?
gigantic I mean medium.

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
go running.

9. What does your Mom do when you're not around?
go to school.

10. If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
picking up toys. {can I get rich for this? Yes!}

11. What is your Mom really good at?

12. What is your Mom not very good at?
playing alphabet cards {because I asked if we could stop doing that to do this survey!}

13. What does your Mom do for her job?
She works! {duh}

14. What is your Mom's favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of your Mom?
when i was coming home from the store with daddy and we passed mommy running up that big hill.

16. If your Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Uniqua from Backyardigans {I don't know what this means.}

17. What do you and your Mom do together
have naps. {in WHAT universe is this the case?}

18. How are you and your Mom the same?
our lips are the same color.

19. How are you and your Mom different?
we have different clothes on.

20. How do you know your Mom loves you?
because she takes good care of me.

21. What does your Mom like most about your Dad?
talking to him.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
the gym. {okay! So I'm not very complex}

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Poetry can win you fame and travel!

Here is a link to a recent article about Will, my famous little poetry champion.

Bangor Daily News, Weekly Section

Will and I were also interviewed yesterday for an article that will be in the Style section in Monday's BDN.

And here's the really exciting part.

I'm going to Washington D.C with Will for Nationals! The National Endowment for the Arts pays for each winner and a chaperone to go to DC for the 4-day event at the end of April. Will's parents graciously urged me to go with Will (they are going too). The whole program is amazing. They fly us down there, and put us up in the downtown Marriott (I'm a teacher. I never stay in super-fancy hotels). As if that isn't enough, we also go to banquets, a congressional luncheon, and a tour of the White House (do you think a certain someone will be there?).

The Poetry Competition, Will versus representatives from the other 49 states, takes place on the GW campus and Garrison Keillor is one of the judges. The NEA will also make an audio recording of Will reciting his three poems at a recording studio for their audio archives. It's just all so damn cool.

I will be away from my babies for 3 nights. That will be my longest away, but I think I'll be so busy and excited that I'll be okay. Sam is most certainly up for the challenge of having them on his own. And we will (have to/get to) miss 3 days of school.

The Great Reedini

Yesterday, Sam installed a gate at Reed's door to contain him in his room during sleeping hours. We knew he is a good climber, so we put the gate about 6 inches off the ground to make it higher, and went to bed. I feared that when Reed realized he was trapped in his room, he was going to scream and yell.

Here's how it went down.

2:00 am. Sam wakes me up and says: "He's at the gate." (I felt like we were naturalists who had been waiting for some rare animal to approach our viewing station). Sam could see his door from where he was lying and gave me the play-by-play.

Reed rattled and looked curiously at the gate.
He stood quietly for about 20 seconds.
Then Sam said: "The blanket just came through the bottom of the gate. Here comes the pillow. Here comes his water. Here comes Reed's head. And he's out."

Reed happily climbed into bed with us and Sam and I were laughing so hard that Reed wasn't the slightest bit annoyed by the gate. Gate? No. Just a curious and ridiculous obstacle between him and his destination.

We put him back, and lowered the gate 2 inches.
2:30 am. Sam wakes me up again: "He's at the gate. Here comes the pillow. Here comes the blanket. Here comes his cup. Here comes his head. And he's out."

We put him back, and lowered the gate 2 more inches.
3:15 am. Sam says: "He's at the gate. He threw over his pillow. There's the blanket and the cup. He's trying to get under."
Reed calmly states: "stuck."
Reed pulls his head out and stands up and hops over the gate, grabs his stuff, and comes into our room. "Hi mommy! Hi Daddy!"

He then crawled between us, requesting each of us to hold one of his hands, and went soundly to sleep until we woke him up at 6:15.

Sam will be returning the gate to the store this afternoon. Now we really need to get creative.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Status quo

Skyler is still making us laugh with her one liners.

Showing me a "very beautiful" painting she did last night after dinner: "Are you jealous?"

Out of the blue, she said to me: "We NEVER go to the circus anymore."
(Um, we went once last year. She implies that we used to go every weekend and now the fun has stopped).

Reed still isn't sleeping in his crib.
Instead, we put him to bed, he stays for a minute, and then he packs up his pillow, blanket, book, and water and brings it all downstairs, looks all pleasantly surprised to see us there, and says in his friendliest voice: "HI Mommy! HI Daddy!"

Once we finally get him to stay in bed (which has lately been close to 8:00, thanks to Daylight Savings time... grrrr), he stays there until the middle of the night when he packs up his pillow, blanket, book, and water and brings them to our bed and climbs in between us. Which is adorable. But then he proceeds to thrash and twist and sit up fall back and crawl under me and rub my ear and none of us are sleeping well.

What do I do? It came to me in the night, that I have to put up a gate in his room and not let him out until dawn. Happy Times!

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's ironic, really

Sam is tied up for the next 4 days (can you guess doing what?) so I took the kids to the pool last night so I could have an easier evening.
After swimming, we all shower and get into pajamas, so all I have to do is feed them and off to bed, and my own dinner was in the oven when we left for the pool. Perfect!

Instead of a nice quiet evening, I ended up in the ER from 6-10 pm with Sam, Reed, and Reed's dislocated elbow. I tracked down Sam at his swim meet in a rather dramatic string of messages that ended up relayed to Sam as he got out of the water from a race as: "Get in touch with Emilie. It's Reed." (That's what he gets for refusing to have a cell phone). Needless to say, he called me in a total, utter panic, and then joined us at the hospital.

First I'm going to tell you Reed's version that he recounted for me this morning.

"Pool. Shower. Upside Down. Hurt. Arm. Mer Mer. Rozzle Dozzle. Kiss. Hospala. Hurt. Doctor. Fix it. Popsicle."

Which roughly translates to: "I went to the pool and after I took a shower, I hung on the handrail in the locker room and tried to flip upside down like Skyler was doing and I hurt my arm. After my mom realized something was really wrong, and I kept saying "HURT! ARM!" Mer Mer (Meredith) came over and Rozzle Dozzle (Rozzy) gave me a kiss while Mer Mer tied my arm in a home-made sling so it wouldn't move and then we went to the Hospala (hospital) where after waiting for 3 hours, the doctor fixed it by popping it back into place, while I screamed in agony. And then they gave me a popsicle."

This was finally the point when the evening got easier. The doctor gave Reed a popsicle to distract him, then asked for a high five, and Reed gave him one with his newly repaired arm.

And of course! We paused for some photos.
P.S. Meredith: the nurses were quite impressed with the t-shirt sling, and thanks for keeping Skyler safe and happy for us, and for being at my door step at the exact, precise moment that I needed a clear-thinking friend.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Super Nanny is here (updated)

Sam and I decided to initiate the super-nanny approach to keep Reed in his crib for bedtime and nap time. This means every time he gets out, we put him back without engaging him. When I did this with Skyler years ago, the first night she got up 45 times but then I won. It got easier from there.

Yesterday I was all psyched up for it because he was feeling better enough that I felt like I could lay down the law. I gave him my sternest-mommy face and said "NO GETTING OUT OF BED." I got all comfy in front of his door folding laundry prepared for battle.

And he went right to sleep. Foiled! (I mean, good job, Reed!)

But right now, as I write from the floor outside his door, he is doing his very best effort to win this nap-time battle. (But he won't win. I will win.)

We started at 12:30. It's 2:09. He climbs out. I put him back. He starts to climb out. I say from the door crack: "LIE DOWN. GO TO SLEEP." or, Suzanne's favorite, "REED GABRIEL!" (aren't I scary?) He climbs out, I put him back.

(But he's so cute and cuddly and his eyes are getting puffy! Super Nanny has to be so mean!)

Dear Reed, you are so sleepy! Please go to sleep so you don't have super-total-meltdowns all afternoon. And because I need to win. Love, Mommy.

Update: It's 3:05. He just fell asleep after screaming for the last 45 minutes. That sucked.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Overheard this weekend

Skyler: "Mom? This is not good. Reed just threw up on my leg."

Reed: "Uh-oh. More poopies."

Skyler: "Whatever you do, don't go in there. Lucy (her doll) just threw up again."