the summer of my (almost) content

Hello dear sisters.

It is August 10th and I have a rare day at home because I’ve been afflicted with a summer cold. Miriam is at her grandparents’ for the week, Eve is at daycare, and instead of being at work, here I am in my pajamas on the couch, blowing my nose and coughing. It’s strange to be sick in the summer–really, it shouldn’t be allowed–but at least I have some down time to write to you all, finally.

We are in the last few weeks of summer already, how did that happen? Of course it goes by too fast every year. Summer is a tough time of year for me. I’m still adjusting to working right through it without a break. Having been raised by two college professors gave me the skewed idea that summer means months of free time! For some, it does. For most of the parents I know, it doesn’t. Homer Simpson summed it up so perfectly:

Continue reading “the summer of my (almost) content”

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ordinary days

Hi sisters.

This space has been pretty quiet as of late. I know I have been trying a little to scale back on my online socializing, in favor of face-to-face interaction. Still, I miss sharing bits of my everyday life with you all, and since we do not live close enough to hang out, I’m returning to this shared space.  Recently I took a few quick pictures on my phone and thought, hm, these aren’t anything special but I think together they give a little glimpse of what everyday life is like for my little family. Want to see?

Miriam doesn’t let me do her hair much but a few weeks ago I managed to do pigtails for her and Eve! I had to take a picture to commemorate the rare occasion.

My hairdresser

Eve continues to ask to do my hair, and I find it so adorable.

Nutella toast face

Speaking of adorable. My kids always want Nutella on their breakfast toast. I’m not a huge fan of this since it’s basically candy on bread. I have succeeded in only letting them have it on half of their bread, so…progress. Anyway, this is Eve’s face every morning, after finishing her Nutella toast.

President's Day

I had President’s Day off, and Miriam was at a day camp for the day, so I took Eve to a nearby playground for an hour or so in the morning. It’s nice to be with just one kid!

she asked to vacuum!

This! Look at my big kid, vacuuming! She asked to try it and quickly proclaimed that it was fun. Hooray for children doing housework! May it continue.

wearing dad's sweater

Eve asked to put on Krestia’s sweater and walked around the house for a bit, wearing it like a dress.

They grow so fast. Life goes slowly and fast all at the same time. What is it they say? The days are long but the years are short. Someday I will miss having these kids around. Right now, though, I’m trying to type this with Eve on my lap, and I’m going to step away from this screen to attend to them. Miss you all.

Love,

Rachel

 

food, glorious food

Hi sisters.

I have felt my creative cooking energy returning with the influx of fresh produce with the start of summer. I thought I’d share with you what’s been happening in our kitchen recently.

My love affair with rhubarb continues. I’m so intrigued by it. It’s used mostly in desserts but it’s sour. I love that! I’ve been playing around with having it as the centerpiece of a dessert rather than always pairing it with something else. Recently I made this galette which turned out great, so I made it again. Caution: use less sugar than what is listed, if you want the nice sour flavor to come through. I used maybe 1/3 a cup the first time I made it and it was great. The second time I followed the recipe more closely (I probably added 1/2 cup, maybe more?) and it was a bit too sweet.

I also like to make rhubarb simple syrup for cocktails. It’s such a pretty light pink color and it adds a unique flavor to drinks. We made this cocktail with the simple syrup and enjoyed it (note: use less sugar for the syrup–you definitely don’t need a full cup!). You’ll notice that the cocktail and the galette both pair rhubarb with ginger–it’s a great combination.

All the rhubarb in all the things! Cocktails and galette.
All the rhubarb in all the things! Cocktails and galette.

Continue reading “food, glorious food”

we’ll make our garden grow

Dear sisters,

I’ve had the satisfaction of finally getting to some “adult” goals in my life this past year. Owning a home, having my own piano, and finally…planting a garden! It’s true, if I really had wanted to, I could have started a garden at some of the rental homes we’ve lived in, but the motivation just wasn’t there. Finally, in our own home with a nice backyard, and with the help of Mom and Dad and Janna, we managed to start a garden this spring.

garden in infancy
garden in infancy

Mom and Dad brought us some local larch from Eddy’s lumber yard to build the beds. Dad and Krestia built them together on a very hot day a few weeks ago. Seriously, I think it was 90 that day! We decided to try one shallow bed (6 inches) and one deeper bed (12 inches). Our backyard tends to be wet so I’m thinking the deeper one will be better for drainage. We shall see. So much of the garden this year is experimental. Next year we can make improvements!

After building the beds, Krestia worked on the fence and the gate. We also ordered some soil to be delivered to fill the beds. The kids loved this part! It reminds me, again, that simple joys are the best. In this case, a big pile of dirt. It had to be loaded into the wheelbarrow and taken to the beds in the backyard and the kids were so happy to help.

helper #1
helper #1
helper #2
helper #2. Yes, she is sticking out her tongue at me.

 

getting there
getting there

So, the beds are filling up with soil, and the fence and gate are taking shape. Now it’s time for planting! I managed to plant three rows with the kids “helping” before I got too frustrated. Eve kept pulling up the row markers and running away with them, and when she wasn’t doing that she was digging up all the seeds I had just planted. So, last Sunday I took the kids to a birthday party and Krestia stayed home to plant. Ahhh. It was a much better plan.

Finished!
Finished!

And here we are. A gate and a fence to keep away animals. Two filled beds. Seeds in the ground.  A few starts (tomatoes, Brussels sprouts). Our own garden, at last!

yes, two rows of arugula!
yes, two rows of arugula!

Now we wait for things to sprout, and water the beds occasionally. Mom found a little watering can for Eve which is pretty much the cutest thing ever.

little helper
she has to do it all by herself, of course
her aim is not very good yet
her aim is not very good yet

I’m so thankful to Mom and Dad and Janna for their help in getting us started on this project! I’m excited to be able to harvest veggies in our own backyard. Here’s to summer and fresh green salads and happy, dirty kids. I have so many good memories of gardening with Mom and Dad. My fondest one is of picking sugar snap peas right off the vine and eating them while standing barefoot in the garden. Yes. I’m hoping to do that in my own backyard soon. Come visit! I’ll save some peas for you.

Love,

Rachel

P.S. Anyone recognize the song reference in the title? I remember Mom conducting the AU Chorus when they sang this song. It’s a good one.

raising kids, Buckwalter style

Hi sisters.

I have been thinking about parenting styles a lot recently. It’s only in the past few months that I have felt like the chaos has subsided since adding Eve to our family. Parenthood for me has mostly been about survival. There hasn’t been a lot of time to stop and think about my parenting style, or contemplate the kind of life experiences I want my kids to have. Mostly the thoughts in my head tend towards the manic “laundry/bills/dishes/work/bedtime/someone is sick” in a never ending loop. Turns out, spending years of my life sleep deprived while working a full time job while parenting small children and moving multiple times doesn’t really help me have mental clarity to think about ideas, and worldviews, and how I want to be shaping my kids’ lives.

Mostly this doesn’t bother me too much. I think there is a tendency to over analyze parenting, and obsess about kids. I think back to our childhood, and I remember that Mom and Dad didn’t seem to worry too much about us (or maybe they did, and I didn’t know about it?). They simply provided lots of love and a good healthy environment for us to grow up in, and we flourished.

As my little family has been settling into our new home, we have taken a few steps towards the Buckwalter style of raising kids. I bet they are familiar ideas to all of you.

  1. Don’t have a TV. I mean, have something you can watch movies/shows on, but don’t make it the centerpiece of your living room. It’s interesting to me how many houses have their living rooms centered around a giant flat screen TV. As kids, we were always the strange family without a TV. Turns out, you become more creative when you don’t have a source of constant entertainment.  A TV makes you just turn off your brain. Granted, there’s times when that is needed. I definitely enjoy watching a little Netflix after the kids are in bed, but I don’t want them to be constantly staring at a screen. Here’s what we fill our living room with: books. A few creative toys, like a set of blocks. A piano. We recently got a piano and I’m so glad to have a musical instrument in the house that the kids can play. Create your own entertainment!
playing the piano together
playing the piano together
One of their favorite toys--a jump rope. Simple pleasures.
One of their favorite toys–a jump rope. Simple pleasures.

2. Make your kids work. We all remember the chores we had to do growing up. I resented them somewhat, but then I got used to them, and the time always passed quickly when we cleaned together. I think the lesson really got drilled into me to work before having fun. We just started a chore chart with Miriam and it is hard work, making kids get used to the idea of working. It takes much longer to teach her to do a task than to just do it myself. My time is so precious–I get a few hours a day at home with my kids, and it’s hard to spend a half hour of that time nagging Miriam to finish her chores. But I know it’s important. We keep reminding her that everyone in the house has to help with the work. It takes so much work to keep a household going! She’s starting to grasp the idea of contributing.

3. Teach your kids about money. Mom and Dad weren’t the kind of parents who just gave us whatever we wanted. We learned from a young age that money doesn’t grow on trees! I do remember getting an allowance and learning the value of money.  When we started the chore chart with Miriam, we also started giving her an allowance. But we are not paying her to do chores. We have told her that she has to do chores to contribute to the work that needs done everyday. After all, no one pays me to do the dishes or laundry! We are trying to convey to her that as she grows, she gains responsibility and is expected to help out more. Along with growing up, we are giving her a small amount of money weekly so she can start to learn how much things cost, and budget, and spend the money on things she wants. So far she has been really excited to buy books and a few small toys. We are going to start a savings jar and a giving jar too. So far I think it’s going well. Last week she wanted to buy a brand new book for $22 and only had $18. So we talked about what she would need to do to save up for it.

4. Spend a lot of time outside. We were lucky to have grown up at the Buckwalter homestead with so much room to roam! I remember spending so much time in the creek, in the treehouse, wandering in the woods, playing in the gravel pit “castle” up the road. Free time outside is so essential to childhood. I’ve started taking my kids outside when I get home from work now that the weather is nice. We play in the yard, kick a soccer ball around, maybe go for a walk in the nearby cemetery. When we have more time, we head out for a long walk on the nearby trails in the state forest.

On a recent hike by our house. She brings a notebook so she can take notes about what she sees in the woods.
On a recent hike by our house. She brings a notebook so she can take notes about what she sees in the woods.

 

5. Prioritize family dinners. We always ate a good home-cooked meal for dinner every night growing up, and it’s something I try pretty hard to continue for our kids now. Spending that time together is important. Right now, I spend a lot of family dinner time running around wiping up spills, getting napkins, watching Eve throw food on the floor and telling the kids that yes, they have to eat their vegetables, but I know that family meal time will get a bit less hectic as the kids get older.

6. Spend time with extended family. I also remember so many trips as a kid to see family and lots time spent with family. I’m so glad to be connected to extended family. I want my kids to know their grandparents and cousins! We try to make this happen as much as we can, but the distances involved make things hard. This is why you all need to move to upstate NY, ahem!

This is just a start to what could be a long list! What have I missed? Maybe I’ll get more brain space soon (will I ever get enough sleep? Will life ever slow down?) and I can think of more.

Sending love to you all and looking forward to some sister time soon with Martha! Next week! We’ll be hitting a lot of things on this list together.

Rachel

 

the state of our household

Hi sisters.

Life continues at its hectic pace around here. So much happens at home with my little family and I miss taking the time to sit down and write to you all about it. So, I thought I’d try and summarize a bit.

Miriam always requests icing cookies when we bake together
Miriam always requests icing cookies when we bake together

Continue reading “the state of our household”

sister love

Hi sisters.

I have a quick photo to share with you today, courtesy of Miriam.

Raising kids is a lot of work, and most of it feels like drudgery much of the time. So many dishes, so much laundry. Lots of cleaning. Ungrateful children who don’t eat the food you make for them and won’t help around the house. Lots of sleepless nights, doctor’s appointments, packing school lunches, etc. Every once in awhile, though, I get a little reward that keeps me going. Just last week I was putting Eve down for a nap and she was resisting (as she often does). Miriam came in the room with a painting she had been working on. And there it was, just a simple message but one that gave me hope for these kids I am raising:

letter to Eve

Isn’t that great? I’m happy that she feels that way. These two, they will always have each other just like we have each other.

Sending my love to you all,

Rachel