I feel like we ushered in 2019 yesterday but somehow, it’s already mid-February! We are busier than ever with work, the girls, extracurricular activities and our efforts to raise money for Daisy’s school.
What We're Doing
In the first week in February, we traveled to Aruba for our first vacation out of the country as an expanded family – an incredibly generous Christmas gift from my mom. The timing couldn’t have been better after a rather grueling January punctuated by a visit to the ER for Daisy who fell down a flight of concrete steps at school and split her head open. Aruba is absolute paradise. Because of the island’s proximity to the equator, the climate this time of year is hot and sunny every day but the strong tradewinds keep a constant breeze flowing so it ever feels uncomfortable. We found the island to be clean, safe and perfect for a young family.
We spent most days on Palm Beach, building sand castles and “sand cakes” with lukewarm waves lapping at our feet. My mom was an irreplaceable help with the girls – a perfect third cog in our care wheel which helped us squeeze in an extra hour of quiet reading or floating in the water uninterrupted each day. My mom is the easiest and BEST travel partner always, but especially thanks to her bond with the girls. Daisy loved the sun and sand and ocean – as did Ella who loved being dipped in the water so much, she shrieked with glee every time her toes got wet. We made so many beautiful memories - gorgeous sunsets, incredible meals and captured lots of wonderful photos. I plan to write a longer post on Aruba as many friends have asked for more detail and whether we’d recommend it for other young families. The short answer, for now, is a resounding YES! We couldn’t have loved it more and can’t wait to return next year.
We continue to work at potty-training with Daisy. She has resisted all the methods we attempted after reading countless articles, watching hours of YouTube and attending seminars. As ever, Daisy marches to the beat of her own drum. With that said, she’s moving along nicely at her own pace – using the toilet at home and school a few times a day and even signaling to us she needs to use the bathroom when we are out and about in public!
As we expected, ballet has proven to be the perfect physical therapy for Daisy as she continues to heal from her hip surgeries. She is very socially-motivated and pushes herself every week to be a little better and to keep up with her classmates. Daisy’s range of motion and flexibility improve every day and her stiffness is slowly fading. When she began ballet, she was unable to run or jump and already she can skip and hop. We hope in a few weeks she’ll be able to leap, frog jump and bend her legs in the butterfly position.
Daisy’s language is absolutely exploding. She picks up what seems like 20 words a day now. Lately her favorite phrases are “that is not available”, “I am feeling happy!”, “I’m on it!” and “please calm down”. She is brimming with big questions about the world around her like “what is air?” and “why does night happen?” – I find myself googling the answers to her questions more than I’d like to admit 😊
What We’re Eating
Lately my weeknight meal plans are a bit less elaborate than I would like but work has been particularly chaotic and I’m spending 20+ hours/week fundraising for Daisy’s school which leaves little time for much else. I’m fighting hard to allocate every spare minute to being with my girls. My recent favorites are recipes that can be prepped piecemeal throughout the workday and/or yield lots of leftovers for lunch. Here are a few:
Sunday Meatballs from Half-Baked Harvest
What is better than a big pan of juicy meatballs in a delicious sauce that can be served alone or with crusty bread, fresh pasta or zoodles? I adore this particular sauce for its complexity – the pickled peppers and sundried tomatoes give it a depth that traditional tomato sauce only achieves after hours of braising. Best of all? These are even better as leftovers! This is a great cookbook - I've also been loving the Quinoa Tomato Bake which has all the best elements of lasagna with none of the guilt & comes together super quick!
Kimchi-Fried Farro from Lindsay Maitland’s Healthyish
As faithful readers know, I love a good grain bowl. I also LOVE anything pickled and kimchi (which is a slightly spicy fermented cabbage popular in Korean cooking) has amazing probiotic qualities that help clear the gut. This is like a healthy version of fried rice. I’ve made it once a week for the last few months because it’s so easy and quite delicious. I do find the recipe as written is a bit dry so I double the kimchi and add a bit of soy sauce or even water sometimes to keep it moist.
I also continue my love affair with the food scene’s hottest new personality, the genius recipe-writer Alison Roman. Her book, Dining In, is chock-full of gorgeous and totally attainable recipes and I can’t recommend it enough. Recent favorites include Skillet Chicken with Sumac and Olives and her Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric (which nearly broke the internet & is now searchable as simply “The Stew”).
What We’re Watching
We’re not watching much TV lately but did squeeze in the ten episodes of Sex Education on Netflix which I highly recommend if you can handle a few minutes of discomfort per show. The casting is perfection, the setting is gorgeous and I challenge you not to fall in love with every single character. Can’t wait for Season Two! And of course, I remain a (fully ashamed) consumer of garbage reality television whenever I have a spare second. The Bachelor and Real Housewives never fail to give me a wee fix of laughable drama.
What We've Been Reading
So far this year I’ve read The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer, Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday, two books of poetry by the recently-deceased poet Mary Oliver and Becoming by Michelle Obama.
At the moment, I am devouring every beautiful, poignant and stirring word of I am Yours, a memoir written by my Skidmore College classmate Reema Zaman. I got to know Reema when she and I were chosen as tutors for the College's renowned first-year liberal studies program and I have never forgotten her face, her brilliant mind or her careful, articulate voice. When I learned she was publishing a memoir (which was already met with rave reviews from the New York Times Book Review), I pre-ordered as fast as I could. Reading Becoming and I am Yours in rapid succession was accidental but turned out to be the most perfect juxtaposition. These are books that have left a lasting mark on my soul - the kind you hesitate to pass on to others because you want to hold onto them forever. It seems there is a common theme to my reading thus far this year: strong female characters breaking molds and fighting social constructs to find and use their powerful voices for good. Every night as I close my book, I go to sleep feeling inspired and full of hope. Women are rising, together, and I feel blessed to witness and be a part of what is happening in the world around me.
It seems we are reading 10 books a day with Daisy. Her favorite to read during breakfast is Welcome to Our World: A Celebration of Children Everywhere!. This book explores the different ways people live around the world - in a way that is simple, beautifully-illustrated and easily relateable for young kids. I am working hard on helping Daisy understand letters and sounds so we can lay the groundwork for reading and I Spy Animals is a great book for recognizing letters, making sounds and identifying names of animals that start with certain sounds. Daisy's latest favorite bedtime read is The Night Parade - it's full of imaginative images and is the perfect length for a weary parent looking for more than a board book and less than a chapter book for an eager listener at the end of a long day.
What are you doing, cooking, watching and reading? Email me! I always love to hear your latest favorites - they often become mine! Hope your 2019 is off to a beautiful start ♥