”we can’t just say ‘I love your ingredients no matter what they are.’”

I’m silly excited about this, but we joined a crop share! At our beloved Nall’s! Which is bare this time of year but still beautiful to me.

I have been thinking about joining this crop share for the longest time, but wondered how I would meal plan around it. I’m still not sure how I’ll meal plan around it but we’ll figure it out.

We picked up lettuce, apples, brussels, pears, oranges, eggs, and milk in our first box. And I knew this before we picked up our box, but it was confirmed that it really does matter where your food comes from. Those apples are amazing!

We pick up every week from here on out. Penny pig was sleeping when we were there this past Saturday morning, but Madeline and I are looking forward to warmer weather when we can say hello to her. And the chickens and the geese.

And while I have you and while we are taking about quality ingredients, I really loved these words and thoughts about “unity” in the wake of Wednesday’s events. I titled this post after a favorite line. I also liked this:

“There are no ‘two sides of the aisle’
in the kitchen.
There is a table.
There are chairs.
There are human beings bound together
by a need for nourishment,
and in order for that to happen,
we have to bring our ingredients together
and work to create a feast
so that everyone
can be fed.”

I hope you’ll read it. The author, Morgan Harper Nichols, is an artist of many mediums. She also drew this:

What ingredients do you bring? And are you honest, intentional, and courageous? Are you brave? And are you a member of a local crop share? A lot to consider.

A merry little Christmas

Christmas was quiet, but we had a nice one. Did you? I have really loved quiet Christmas in the past, but it was harder this year. I could use some extra people in my life these days. How about you?

I think I’m over Christmas cookies. This might be unpopular but they can be so much work and I have a hard time figuring out which ones I really like. I do love a ginger/spiced cookie, which we have in the middle here. I might just buy all the Christmas peanut M&M’s and make a beautiful dessert the next time I’m in charge. We’ll see.

Sugar cookies for breakfast on Christmas Day while opening presents is my family’s tradition. An egg casserole on Christmas Day is Sean’s. So we moved Christmas cookies and hot chocolate to Christmas Eve breakfast and it was a yummy way to start the day.

Our church did an online service with a virtual pageant incorporated into it. We filmed our parts at home and then they were weaved together. It turned out so well! Madeline was an angel and Wes was a reluctant shepherd, although I think he ended up being really happy he had a part. They liked seeing themselves on the screen. I can’t wait for future in-person services and pageants, but this really turned out so well! Thank goodness for technology.

A true Christmas miracle occurred. They slept until 7!! I don’t know how it happened. It doesn’t happen on a normal basis! It was amazing!

It is very fun to have children on Christmas. The excitement is so sweet.

You know what, there was a second Christmas miracle. We had a flurry of snow! It didn’t stick at all but it flurried and Wes took the digger Santa gave him out back to clear some blockages in our stream and it was fun! Fun to be out in the chill and the snow on Christmas.

Then we Zoomed all our families and Sean made us a delicious Beef Wellington for dinner. The kids didn’t eat it but it was so good and at least there were more cookies to fill their tummies.

I’m so proud of Sean and me for putting real clothes on! For at least a portion of our merry little Christmas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

How was your Thanksgiving? Did it work out even if it didn’t look the way you had hoped? Ours looked different than expected, but we had a great holiday. Don’t get me wrong, we missed our family and we would have preferred to be all together. But considering what’s happening, this holiday worked out and it had a nice calm about it.

You guys, our children got tired of the Thanksgiving Day Parade and after realizing that I wasn’t going to change the channel to anything other than the parade they figured out other things to do with themselves! Like play with kinetic sand in the basement! And spend alone time in different rooms of the house from one another! This is new territory. I can already see how sad I will be when this becomes the norm, but for this year it was very welcomed.

I finished a puzzle! If you are looking for a puzzle you can finish on your own over a day or less, I recommend this one.

And Sean roasted a beautiful chicken. We don’t like roasted turkey. I haven’t recorded much of our adventures in Thanksgiving meals here, but we have attempted a capon (never again!) and a free range, organic turkey from our beloved Nall’s, and we just really love a roasted chicken! Especially prepared this way.

I did call Wes and Madeline back when the Sugar Plumb Fairy danced toward the end of the parade. Madeline danced along with her, of course.

After that we had our main meal at lunch. We made mashed potatoes because, for us, they can’t be skipped. We also had this salad. As soon as I saw that salad I knew it could be deconstructed into mostly familiar things for Wes and Madeline and that seemed perfect for this year. It is a great salad, by the way! Even with spinach, as we did.

This is not a great picture but I was trying to sneak it in without disrupting the conversation. We had a fun Zoom call with Sean’s family while we ate pie and wrapped up our night. So, again, it would have been better to be together but we are happy with the way Thanksgiving turned out given the year. Hope your’s was fun too!

Fancy dinner

Madeline’s sorta kinda in school too. We are doing a play based preschool at home. The program is from Busy Toddler and it takes about 30-45 minutes a day. For me, it’s less about teaching Madeline anything and more about having something organized and fun to do together while we are inside with Wes.

Weeks ago, before Halloween, we were learning about clothing and one of the books we read on the subject was Fancy Nancy. I was skeptical about this book at first. I’m all about ballet and pink and dresses, but get worried about anything overly princess or precious. But I didn’t hate this book. Nancy teaches her family how to be fancy and they are all such good sports about it. Then they show up at the pizza place for dinner like this:

Isn’t this entrance so amazing? Look how great this whole family is for supporting Nancy’s fancy ways! I just love this page so much.

Anyway, one of the preschool activities to go along with this book was to have a fancy dinner with your family. At first I thought we would just have a fancy snack time, but then I realized all the possibilities of a fancy dinner and so we did that.

Wes and Madeline didn’t fully understand what this would mean, even though we all read the book. I tried to give Madeline a necklace but she wasn’t into it. No problem. Wes came to fancy dinner in his Black Panther Halloween costume. That worked too! We had steak and potatoes and broccoli, but the bread and sparkling cider were really what made it for the kids.

You can’t tell but my dress is black sequins! Between that and Sean’s hat and tie we were the ones that got into this the most.

If I’m honest, there were a few moments during this dinner when I wondered why I bothered. Someone couldn’t sit well and someone complained about the contents on their plate. But overall it was fun to get really dressed up and light candles and get the real silver out.

Life Lately

How are you? I don’t know why I’m asking because it’s not my favorite question to be asked right now either. We’re doing our best. Some days our best looks better than others. We’re trying to practice gratitude and get outside and have things to look forward to. We’re putting our Christmas decorations up this weekend! I can’t wait! We’re usually a no Christmas decor before Thanksgiving family, but it feels right to do it soon this year. What about you? Are you putting up your holiday decor early too? Here’s few pictures of some of the things we’ve been up to lately.

You can almost certainly find one or both of my children in a tree or in our tree house. Wes prefers trees. Madeline would love to get in most trees like Wes but she settles for the tree house.

Wesley is a Cub Scout this year and we finally had an event the other weekend. Outdoor and masked the scouts helped with a food drive. Wes is such a helper. He was in his element bouncing between making new friends and making sure he helped get food from the cars that drove up.

Sean’s been working on a wine cellar for the last two years and he finally finished!! To be fair he took a break last summer to build a tree house. Sean loves a project. And don’t worry, he’s already got the next one. A 2020 Pinot Noir vintage. Grapes are being delivered next week.

Did you think that maybe I already covered this one? My kids in a tree? Our church has been hosting services outdoors and masked and it’s been so great. Virginia has recently reduced crowd sizes, so we’ll see how long this continues but it’s been so nice to be back in our church community. And discover a new tree spot that we overlooked because we never spent so much time in the parking lot!

It looks so sunny and nice reviewing these pictures. It’s nice to be reminded of the joy. There’s lots of tears and lack of patience and frustrations too though. Hope you’re doing okay. Consider hanging up a wreath with us this weekend!

Ballet Lesson

Madeline had her first ballet lesson! The other Tuesday we logged into my computer and she had her first lesson.

She was beside herself with excitement leading up to the moment. She jumped around everywhere and busted into Sean’s office to tell him about it after she got dressed.

It wasn’t quite to her expectations. “Where’s the Nutcracker?” she asked.

And she did need a lot of hugs in the middle. Learning from a computer is hard, even if it’s your favorite subject. When it was all over she said it was hard.

But she’s also asked when she gets to take ballet again. We’ll see how it goes. I intentionally picked a low commitment session. I hope we make it through the whole thing, but at least we made it through one for now!

A birthday party for Wes!

Wes will be 6 later this week! We celebrated early this past weekend with a Star Wars themed day. My parents, Maggie, and Evelyn came too, and that was the birthday party group this year.

I didn’t plan too much. Storm trooper balloons and light sabers to battle them. Light saber trail mix. A galaxy cake. This is the only celebration he’ll have. We have always kept his birthdays small (the same number of guests as his new age plus Madeline and Evelyn), but since he has had two bigger birthdays I worried he would be sad it wasn’t more this year. But he was so delighted and grateful the whole day. He was happy with everything and expressed it. “This is the best birthday party ever!” It was a good reminder that even though a lot of things aren’t going the way we want or hoped for, it can still be wonderful and fun and great the way it is.

Maggie got Wes a marble run and it was such a winning gift! The kids took it into the playroom right away and each worked really hard on creating their own runs. It really was such a fun day!

Happy birthday, Buddy Bear! I’m so glad you had the best birthday ever even this year!

A trip to the pumpkin patch

Technically, we went to a nearby market and not a pumpkin patch. We’ve been here before (can you believe Wes is about Madeline’s age in those pictures?). We go every year. It’s one of my favorite places. We buy flowers for our garden there. We’ve gotten Thanksgiving turkeys there, and some of the best jams and sweet treats. Before COVID, they had story times and special events. Right after things started to close, they would create Instagram stories of someone walking through the store to report on what was in stock. I was never going anywhere at the time, and I found the recording of a normal activity, shopping, very, very comforting. I watched them all of the time back in March.

It looks a little different this year, but it was great to still have the opportunity to go. Wes and Madeline were so excited to go. We went in the middle of the week during quiet time to avoid crowds. Wes picked out pumpkins for him and Madeline so quickly! And then they climbed pumpkin hill. I think playgrounds and climbing is one of the things they miss most.

I don’t think I’m smiling here! I think because I was so focused on getting all of our heads into the picture and I couldn’t see my mouth I completely forgot to smile!

And here’s what we came home with! Do you like our spiders? Last year Wes requested a spooky house. I think he’d like to have a giant blow-up Frankenstein or something similar, since he was a little disappointed when this is what I came up with last year. But I think we’ve all grown to like these. Do you decorate for Halloween? It’s my least favorite holiday, but I will admit that especially this year I was happy to have a project and a ritual and something to look forward to.

Madeline’s Official 3rd

Madeline is 3! Officially! 3 and a week. And a few days…

Madeline is an amazing girl. She keeps us on our toes. She makes us laugh. She is a fierce advocate for herself. She is tenacious and only playing by our rules just enough to get what she really wants. She is a delight and we are so grateful everyday to have her with us. As she is. Fierce advocacy and all.

She got lots of ballerina items on her birthday. While I did enjoy having a tea party with her and all her favorite dollies, my favorite part of the day was ballerina Madeline flying down the hill on her glide bike.

We can’t wait to see what this next year brings for you, Madeline! Happy birthday!

Apple Picking

We went apple picking this past weekend. The last time we did this Wes wasn’t even 2! Usually we sweat until the end of September here in Virginia, but we have had fall weather for the last few weeks. It’s so lovely.

Going apple picking was Wes’s idea. I started to see friends post pictures about it on Facebook, but wasn’t sure if we could make it work this year. We got there bright and early so we all felt comfortable, and I’m glad we did. It was really nice to have a reason to leave the house on a weekend.

They also had dig your own potatoes. It was our first time doing this. They were hard to find! But it was fun and we did find enough to mash up for our dinner. We had a good day. We go around and say what we are thankful for at dinner, and apple picking was on all of our lists.