Writing again to share…

Hello sisters,

This blog has been on a long hiatus. I don’t know how much I’ll be writing here in the future, now that I’m expecting another baby, but I know I enjoy looking back at these posts. A lot of big moments have been written about here (and little ones too, which is just as nice), but I thought I’d add another big one.

Kevin and I are moving again, to Fort Collins, Colorado. Now, some of you may be wondering, wait…Colorado is farther away from family and friends, and you’d be right! Kevin and I had been hoping to get back to the East Coast eventually. Being within driving distance of many of our loved ones would be lovely, but at the same time, permanent jobs in the field of ecology are also lovely!

Winter in Fort Collins
I think I may have to learn how to ski…

As Kevin’s post doc started winding down (and federal funding became less of a certainty…), he started applying to permanent jobs. There were lots of fish in the water, but the one that took his bait was Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service in Fort Collins, CO where he will be a spatial ecologist! It’s another big move, farther west. Kevin joked that in 10 years we’ll be in Japan at this rate. Continue reading “Writing again to share…”

Chasing my summer baby

Dear sisters,

It feels strange and wonderful to be chasing (walking and sometimes running) after my baby. At the library I work at our storytimes for 9-23 month olds is called “Little Movers,” which describes Calvin perfectly.

Black and White

He is still my baby: still wants to be cuddled and nursed back to sleep in the middle of the night. When he wants me, he wants me RIGHT NOW, and has taken to hugging my legs, crying out, then biting my legs when I don’t pick him up fast enough. I’m teaching myself to think of him as my little toddler, not my baby, and encouraging his moments of independence. His happiest times are spent outside, walking/trotting around. People remark on how happy he is all the time; he smiles and chatters and laughs a lot. They’re getting to see him when he’s getting his way, enjoying the outdoors or exploring some place new. When he starts feeling cooped up in the house he becomes a little tyrant, wanting me or Kevin to always play, biting or whining til we cave. It’s not hard to give in to him, though it makes activities like preparing meals, writing emails (or blog posts..cough cough), doing the dishes or packing up for the day difficult.

Continue reading “Chasing my summer baby”

Life lately

Hi sisters,

I wrote this post 2 weeks ago, so it feels a bit dated. Calvin is changing at such a quick pace, learning more expressions and saying words more clearly. But here is a bit of an update about our lives lately.

In May we enjoyed a visit from Mom and Dad over the week o13227595_10204553149748292_2012715915268047601_of my final Chamber Chorale concert for the season, so it was a wonderful time for them to be here!

I got to wear a “My Fair Lady” costume for our fundraising dinner/silent auction featuring songs from Lerner & Loewe. I got to sing “Without You” from My Fair Lady and it was a blast! Kevin got a lot of alone time with Calvin as Mom, Dad and I went to rehearsals and showed a family friend around town, which was sweet for him. Mom and Dad got to spend one entire afternoon watching Calvin while I went to work and I know they had a great time. It is so wonderful having family around. We’re looking forward to having some more visitors this summer! It makes us melancholy as we realize how far everyone is travelling. Where is the magical device we’ve all been waiting for that can transport us across countries? Continue reading “Life lately”

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.

Calvin’s first year for posterity

Dear sisters,

Kevin and I have never been huge celebrators of things. Birthdays and anniversaries go by with smiles and sweet thoughts, sometimes a present or special meal, but usually we just celebrate the little things throughout the year. Moments when we have extra in our budget and can go get flowers for the yard, or when we’ve saved up enough to get a new laptop and can pull the trigger, or when we’re not too tired and seem to be working extra well together and everything clicks. Every once in awhile something comes along that feels extraordinary, worth celebrating to the max. Calvin turning one fit the bill. Continue reading “Calvin’s first year for posterity”

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

 

Throwback Thursday: Cooking inspirations

Dear sisters,

I feel like I’ve finally hit that comfort zone with cooking where I can “create” and execute a recipe all by myself, without relying too much on a recipe from the internet. I think I’ve read SO MANY COOKING BLOGS that I’ve absorbed some of the trends and flavor profiles that appeal to me and am now confident enough to go forth and create good meals.

I’m the best at coming up with good tacos. It’s hard to go wrong with tacos. Recently I’ve loved sweet potatoes in tacos, which was inspired by those amazing sweet potato tostadas that Rachel and Krestia made for us a long time ago on our family vacation in Maine.

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This isn’t the actual meal, but a reminder of that little table we crowded around to eat at!

I loved the texture and flavor of those grated sweet potatoes. They were amazing on deep fried tortillas with salsas and cheese. At the time it was a new and amazing way to have tacos! Nowadays I grate sweet potatoes and toss them in some olive oil in a pan, add a sprinkling of cumin, chili powder, oregano and a dash of cinnamon, let them cook for awhile and add salt, pepper and lime juice at the end. When I’m feeling lazy I just dice the sweet potatoes and toss them in olive oil and the spices and in the oven they go!

IMG_4380

The other part of my favorite tacos is a rice/quinoa pilaf with beans, peppers and onions (corn too if you feel like it). Sometimes I add tomatoes, sometimes lots of lime juice, zest and garlic. It depends on my mood.

IMG_4382

The toppings make the taco: homemade guacamole (this time I added corn), queso fresco and spinach. You don’t need much when the fillings are so good! These were so delicious.

Thanks for the recipe inspiration all the way back in 2011 Rach :-). I like that we share our meals virtually every once in awhile. Recently we also had this oven roasted chicken shawarma that Rachel mentioned and it was OH SO GOOD in pitas with cucumbers, spinach, feta and hummus. YUM. Martha recently mentioned a mango curry that I’m dying to try. Sisters and friends, tell me your favorite dinners recently so I can get more inspiration!

Love,
Jewel