Saturday, November 29, 2014

good night routines

Every night, both Sebastian and Liesl need to have hugs and kisses from both me and Steve. It doesn't count if you say goodnight while they're in the bath, or brushing teeth, or even reading stories. They have to be tucked in with lights off.  So since their bedrooms are upstairs and downstairs, we parents go up and down, passing each other on the stairs, to give the final goodnights.

Sebastian always laments the ending of the day, wishing it wasn't already over. And then he says "good night, I love you, see you in the morning, you're the best mommy/daddy in the world! I love you, good night!" And I say "I love you, good night, you're my best boy/my favorite boy."  He and I say this even on days when I have categorically not been the best mommy in the world, and on days when we are upset with each other.  The first time he said it I was astonished and a little bit choked up - usually, now, it's just part of the routine and I don't notice much, but every once in awhile I am newly touched by the sweetness of his little boyness - his trusting, his love.

Liesl says, to both of us, "I love you. Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite, I'll see you in the morning. I'll make you a present in the morning!"  She never makes us a present in the morning, and I'm not even sure why she says it and what she means, but it's a sweet thought to end the day.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving season...

Fall is the season for celebrations in the Avery/Raab household. We have back to school, birthday season, with Halloween thrown in for extra good measure, and then Thanksgiving season.  So we have been busier than usual - especially when we decided to host birthday parties here for both kids, and then Thanksgiving too. But it's been terrific. I feel like an actual grownup living here, with a real house that can handle parties and dinners - in Westchester, we lived in small apartments and were surrounded by friends in big houses - it was awkward. But I feel comfortable here and I love having people over to our house for special occasions.

For Thanksgiving we invited three families to join us - Mary, Patrick, and Rowan Delloway, Adrienne, Jeff, and Angelo Ceccacci, and Anne, Cuong, and Camille Hoang. We started out thinking it would just be us, and then I kept inviting more. :)  The more the merrier!

In true Portland fashion, however, one of our guest families is mostly paleo (no grains) and one is mostly vegetarian. There were nut allergies, and fish allergies, and gluten intolerances. :)  It was complicated. But there was so much food, no one could possibly have been left hungry.

We had a 14-lb turkey from Champoeg Farms, a local-organic-pastured-heritage farm. Steve did all the work of researching brines (we went with just a dry salt scrub), cooking times (315F for 4.5 hours), and carving techniques. I made mashed sweet potatoes, apple-kale stuffing, radicchio salad, cranberry bread, and apple crisp. Steve bought a marionberry pie and a squash-chevre quiche.  Mary brought ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie. Adrienne brought cranberry sauce, pumpkin cake roll, and tapenade. Anne brought brussels sprouts and drinks. There was obviously an enormous surplus of food. The table groaned. :)  We ate at 1:30, went over to the field to play soccer and walk briefly in the forest, and then returned for dessert and coffee. It was a delightful day.

We had a grown-up table and a kids' table, both properly set by Sebastian. I drew him a diagram of how the runners, napkins, silverware, and glasses should be placed and he did a lovely job. The kids table had paper turkeys and crayons; the grownup table had glass vases with whole cranberries and walnuts. (As a side note, Sebastian has become genuinely helpful in the last few months in terms of chores - he can vacuum, sort and fold laundry, set the table, take out the big garbage cans, make beds, and clean up rooms - it's amazing - economic viability!)

Before the meal began, Seb read a Thanksgiving poem. He did a wonderful job, reading it clearly and fluently - afterwards he confessed that he'd been embarrassed, so I was proud of him. 

Today, Friday, was a very relaxed, perfect post-party day. We ate leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. ("More turkey?", said Sebastian at dinner.)  We watched some movies - Winnie the Pooh, the musical numbers of Mary Poppins, Top Chef Kids. We played soccer at the field and got soaking wet in the sudden downpour.  We read books, played board and card games, and cleaned up the extra tables, chairs, and dishes.  Pie and hot chocolate was enjoyed by everyone.

And now on to Christmas!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sebastian's birthday party

On Sunday we hosted a birthday party for Sebastian: a soccer party with just a few close friends, Frances, Ethan, and Nathan. They arrived, played soccer at the field, devoured kid food and cake, and opened presents. It was great. Sebastian was super happy with his party and his friends, and sad when it all ended and he knew that there wouldn't be another party for another whole year.

Kid food: hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, apple slices, ants-on-a-log, popcorn and pretzels, cheddar cheese, grapes, and apple cider.
Sebastian's cake: chocolate with whipped cream, decorated as a chocolate-chip soccer ball.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

more stories from the Liesl life

On our drive into work and preschool last week, Liesl was telling me a story about a witch - there was a bad witch, taking people's things and their special powers, and she was chasing our car, and we had to get away - and then I got distracted by traffic and the news for a bit, and when I started listening again, suddenly she was a good witch.  She was friendly, and in our car, giving out apple slices and taking care of people. I floated the idea that she was just pretending, and that we should be wary of her because it's a trap. At which point Liesl tells me "No, because a lawyer paid her to be good."

me: "Liesl, don't you want to go outside and play with Sebastian and Nadine?"
Liesl: "No. Let me tell you what I'm going to do.
Number 1. I'm going to eat this mango.
Then number 2. I'm going to put on my tights.
3. I'll put on my shoes and my hoodie.
4. I'll play outside.
5. I'll come in and eat dinner.
6. I'll take a bath, put on my pajamas, brush my teeth, read stories, and go to bed."
I love it. She's such a listmaker and planner. (Wonder where she got that from!)

Mama, how do babies get into the mama's belly? How do the eggs know when to start growing into babies?

Liesl: "What does an ogre do to you?"
me: "I don't know, because they're magical creatures and I've never seen one."
Seb: "No one has ever seen one."
Liesl: "Not even in Boston?"

And finally, some pictures of Liesl playing at the Westmoreland playground a few weeks back, with our Friday playgroup friends.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"snow" day

They predicted 6 inches of snow, but instead we got icy freezing rain... so much less fun for the kids. Regardless, school was cancelled and they played outside with neighborhood friends for hours - they tried to sled down an icy hill, they tried to make a snowman, and then they all (three friends included) piled into our house for some hot chocolate, crazy pyramid building, and board games. Everyone was super cozy. :)
Not coming through in the photographs: the icy freezing rain and brisk wind that was pelting us. Hardy folks.
 Oscar sliding down the hill.
 Anna, Nadine, and our Liesl.

In the afternoon I baked two loaves of a yeasty oatmeal bread with currants and made a braised lamb stew with roasted vegetables - it was delicious.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy 7th birthday to Sebastian!

Seven! Seven? Seven! Wow. Our boy.
Breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon.
 The amazingly cool new Westmoreland Nature Park.
 The future civil engineer.
 Or possibly architect.
climbing big trees!
Piles of yellow maple leaves, perfect for jumping!
Our boy and his books. This is my favorite part of the the transition from six to seven.
Present time: fun books!
And the annual birthday dinner of pasta, chicken, bacon, and peas, followed by the birthday dessert of strawberry shortcake.