Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Are You There God? It's Me, Beth."

The things I miss most about my pre-teen years? Pudding pops, Judy Blume books, and really bad 80s music. I always thought I was lucky to bypass the acne and braces, until now. Nope, didn't get a mid-life version of acne. I got lovely braces (Invisilign) yesterday, and I now feel like I'm twelve and karma has caught up with me. I feel like I should be eating pop rocks and listening to my old Rick Springfield album. Oh well, I always was a late bloomer. Regardless, now I know why some pre-teens are in such bad moods. Other than the raging hormones, those that wear braces have to deal with a day or two of mouth pain, which sucks.

I wish they still sold pudding pops.....sigh....that would feel so good right now.......

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ode to Austin Grill

I've been going to this restaurant since I moved here in 1992 and have been trying to perfect its salsa recipe since then. By 1996, I think I finally did it, so here's the recipe:

Beth's "Austin Grill - like" Salsa

2 cans of whole tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
juice from 1 lime
one shallot
1 clove of garlic
1 jalapeno (large or small - depending on how hot you like it)
Stick everything in a food processor and blend together. Add salt to taste.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm Just that OCD

I've been dreaming of the day when I have everything organized and all I have to do is click a button and all my digital photos are available online. Well, that day has finally arrived! Click on the link to see what's been going on.

Next project - recipe organization!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.

This weekend was spent at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia, where Chris grew up. He took me here when we were first dating to see Gilbert & Sullivan's "Iolanthe" in the outdoor theater. The place is so beautiful - it's almost like walking into a dream from which you don't want to wake. Check out the website at

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Next Anna Pavlova...Or Not...

Saturday marked another milestone in Kate's life - her first ballet recital! I honestly didn't think that she would pull it off - the dress rehearsal was less than stellar. I talked it up all week with her - "aren't you so excited? You'll get to dance with your friends on the stage! If you're a good girl, we'll go for ice cream afterwards," etc. Yesterday, it was 100 degrees here, and Kate had to wear a brown, velvet leotard with a brown tutu and thick pink tights. The elements were all there for a massive tantrum and I braced myself. I made Chris sit out in the audience, because if he were sitting with Kate, me and the rest of the students, she would've never gone on stage. Things got even more tense when Kate kept saying (loudly) backstage "Turn the lights on!" and proceeded to collapse on the floor before she and her group went on. Fortunately, Miss Sarah (her teacher), picked Kate up and held her during the first 2 minutes of the routine, then set her down on the floor where she started to spin. And spin. And spin. Jump. And spin. Bow.

I can see how this was nerve-wracking for my mother when Allyson & I were growing up and had to go through so many recitals (piano and dance). Hopefully, this won't be the last one......but I certainly can wait for the next.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

Other than my wedding and the occasional funeral, I've never really cried in church - until now. My choir director Paul is Ukrainian, so we're use to singing Rachmaninoff, Gretchaninoff, and other Russian/Eastern European heavies. Although it sounds beautiful, it's like we're in a constant season of Lent. Today, that all changed. Paul chose a piece by Paul Halley, a British composer, who took the words from Song of Solomon and arranged it with a gospel twist. The words were beautiful and I've never heard Karen, our soprano soloist sing like that:

The Rain is Over and Gone

The rain is over and gone,
And the winter is passing by,
The time for singing has come,
And the clouds have parted from the sky.

Arise, my love, and come away,
For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone,
Over and gone, my love,
Come away, my fair one, come away.

We will rise and go to the city,
The city without any walls,
Where we can live in freedom,
To the new Jerusalem we're called.

Arise my love, my fair one,
For lo! the winter is gone,
The flowers appear on the earth again,
And the time for singing has come.

Sing of life and love and laughter,
Sing of freedom to live in peace,
And there shall be no more crying,
Only joy that will never cease.

I think half of the congregation was crying after we finished singing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ya'll asked for it - Here it is......

For the fans of my latest dessert, here is the recipe. My mom has to get the credit here - she's made this for our family for as long as I can remember

German Chocolate Pies
2 uncooked pie crusts
11/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter or margerine
2 TBSP flour
1 bar German Chocolate bar
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup angel flake coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream sugar and butter. Melt chocolate over low heat. Add eggs to first mixture and mix well. Gradually add milk. Stir in remaining ingredients. Divide mixture into 2 uncooked pastry shells. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325. Bake 20 minutes longer. Let cool.
Great with vanilla ice cream or cool whip.


OK, so the rule is, if I give a recipe, you need to leave one. I'll take anything - sweets, savories, etc. Just no broccoli!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Birthday Boy Meets the Girls from Ipanema

I've eaten so much, I can barely type. Chris' birthday dinner combined with Mother's Day Brunch makes me think I'll be eating salad for the rest of the week. For Chris' birthday, he chose Rasika in Penn Quarter. I wasn't a fan of Indian food - until now. WOW! For Mother's Day, we went with our dear friends Kristin, Jamie, and Aida (who Kate loves) to a Brazilian BBQ place called Fogo de Chao downtown. I actually went to the one that's in Sao Paulo, Brazil back in 1999, and it still hasn't lost its appeal. Kate did amazingly well and managed to stay seated for most of the meal. Given the fact that we don't take her out to many restaurants (with the exception of Los Tios, Generous Georges') she did very well with impulse control, etc. I think it may be because of the fact that we bribed her with promises of cookies afterwards, or it could be that she wanted to be sweet as a Mother's Day gift.

Nah, it was the cookies.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How Does Our Garden Grow?

The best part of our house? Hands down - the garden. We moved here in February 2006, and there was nothing in it except for dead-looking roots, stumps, and a weary blue spruce in the corner. I was prepared to implement a scorched earth policy and burn the whole thing down and start over. Thanks to my friend Anne, and Alexandria City (who forbids you from burning your backyard down) I found out that the garden was just "sleeping" - that nestled just below the ground were hibernating flowers. From March - September, something blooms every week, whether it's daffodils, lilacs, irises, azaleas roses, peonies, hydrangeas, black-eyed susans, rosemary, lemonbalm, etc. I was inspired by the butterfly farm Chris & I went to in St. Martin, so I'm starting my own butterfly garden with butterfly bush and milkweek. Additionally, our resident mourning dove, Maisie, has come back to have her babies in our hanging basket beneath the rose trellis. She recently gave birth to Johnny and June and they're just learning how to fly.

My neighbor Paul once told me that his garden is his therapy. I totally agree with him, although, as a therapist, I may lose money with that attitude. Maybe in my second career I'll own a greenhouse/butterfly farm....:)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Have You Ever.....

Wished that a day would never end? For me, that was yesterday. I was sitting on a blanket in the front yard with my friend Kristin watching our girls (Kate & Aida) chasing bubbles around the yard. It was the time of day when the planets were perfectly aligned - the girls were playing nicely, Chris & Mr. Jamie were swapping sports/lawyer stories, and everything in the garden (lilacs, azaleas, roses, etc.) smelled heavenly. As we were sitting on the blanket outside, Kristin & I noticed that cars were lining up around a particular house in our neighborhood, along with a stretch SUV. We noticed girls piling out of cars in their finery - dressed to kill for the biggest night of their high school lives - PROM NIGHT! The girls looked so glamorous - quite a change from the huge crinolines of the 80's that I wore. Then I thought - that will be Kate & Aida one day - SOONER THAN I'D LIKE. Since Kate celebrated her 3rd birthday this week, I've been lamenting over how time is flying for her. I could've gotten depressed about this, but I kept reverting back to Kate & Aida - chasing bubbles. That moment is frozen in time for me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Birthday My Brown-Eyed Girl!

Yes, I know her birthday is technically on the 23rd, but in this house, we celebrate someone's birthday all week. Kate turns three on Wednesday, and it's amazing how time has flown. April 22, 2005 seemed just yesterday when I went into labor at 10:22 p.m. and FINALLY gave birth (thankfully without a c-section) at 4:28 p.m. the next day. She's still her father's daughter - big brown eyes, chestnut-colored hair. Some of her favorite things these days:

1) Favorite person - Grandmommy in NC - Mom's been a part of Kate's life since week 1 when she came to help out two clueless, tired parents. Nicknamed "The Wolf" (from "Pulp Fiction"), Mom's been the biggest supporter of Kate's development and the biggest help to us.

2) Favorite food - big cookies from Cake Love bakery. Chris takes Kate there when I'm in Church on Sunday. Yeah, yeah, I know - lots of sugar - but hey, she loves it, and as my friend Kristin famously says, "don't judge me." I'm just grateful she doesn't have any food allergies like a lot of the kids around here.

3) Favorite TV show - "Bill Maher" - no just kidding, although I wouldn't mind. It's actually Sesame Street and "Pingu" videos.

4) Favorite Book - Right now (and this changes hourly) - "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein.

5) Favorite girl friends - Aida and Hannah

6) Favorite time of day - snuggling up to Mommy reading books and singing songs before bed. This is my favorite time of day too.

Happy 3rd Birthday sweetheart - we love you to pieces!

Mama & Daddy

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Goodbye Ellis Family - We'll Miss Ya'll!

A little over a year ago, we met the Ellis family (Kristin, Abram, & Max) through our neighbors, Marianne & James. They've been such a joy to have in our neighborhood and our lives. Aviva (Vivi) was born in September, which finally added another little girl in the area!). Things we'll miss about the Ellis':

1) Kristin's cooking and love thereof - you're the only person I know who loves it as much as I do. You should have your own show or write your own cookbook with all the recipes you've handed down. Girlfriend got me to like asparagus with her blue-cheese vinagrette sauce recipe. Your empanada recipe still holds a place in our hearts.

2) Abram's smoker - and of course, you too, Abram! Chris has been coveting this thing since he met you. Now he's going to get his own. Thanks for expanding his culinary education!

3) The Annual 4th of July Parade around the pond. This was a classic - Kate STILL has her red, white & blue headband from that day. This tradition will continue with us - we can't let something that fun leave with you.

4) In a world of cynicism and doubt, ya'll have to be one of the most "true to your faith" couples we know. Thank you for being an example in "keeping the faith!"

We'll miss you Kristin, Abram, Max, and Vivi. Stay warm in Ann Arbor!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Object of Kate's Affection

Kate's fallen for an older man, according to Ms. Patty, her pre-school teacher. Ms. Patty brought her kids to school yesterday (Caroline, Maggie and Grant) and introduced them to the kids in her class. Kate took a liking to Grant and followed him around like a puppy. While on the playground, Grant walked away from her to help another child in the sensory garden. Kate climbed on top of the monkey bars and yelled "GWAAAAAANNNNNTTTT COME BAAAAAACK!!!" At the end of the school day, Grant walked Kate out to the car. What a gentleman! Kate was distraught at the thought of leaving him, and on the way home, she said "I miss Grant." Ahhhhhhh.....(really) young love......

Anyway, check out the slideshow taken of Kate on her holiday in NC with Mamama, Grandaddy, and her cousins Daphne, Iris and August. She obviously loves hats, flags, and slides!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Return of Ugly Naked Guy

It's been three days since we've returned from our holiday in St. Martin, and thankfully, I'm still relaxed. In fact, I'm probably TOO relaxed. Case in point - there are still dirty clothes lying on our bedroom floor begging to be washed, but somehow I found time to make a trip to the liqour store to get ingredients for our favorite new drink we discovered on the beach in SXM - the BBC (Baily's Caramel, Banana, Coconut + a splash of rum). I rarely drink anymore since grad. school, but this was fantastic.

As far as the title of this blog goes, here's the story: Chris & I were lounging at Friar's Beach, SXM, sipping our BBCs, and noticed a catamaran off-shore with a lot of semi-elderly people on board. The boat was one of those owned by companies that take people out on day cruises, and offer them lunch on the beach. I was watching the people on the boat and noticed that one of the men looked naked from the backside. I told Chris - "hey, I think the sun is affecting my eyes or something, but is that guy on the boat naked?" Before Chris could answer, Methuselah turns around and yes, it was full monty day on the old boat. I was thinking that these people can't be Americans - way too uninhibited. Then, a boatload came to shore for lunch - including Ugly Naked Guy (who was dressed by now) and a very burned, white-haired 70ish women in a thong. They blew their international image once they opened their mouths - they were indeed Americans. Oh well, it's not as if we had a stellar reputation abroad anyways.

Anyway, if you're going to SXM and Anguilla, here are some recommendations:

1) Favorite thing we did - hands down - daytrip to Anguilla. We took the ferry over, which runs every 1/2 hour out of the port of Marigot. We ended up at Cap Jaluca, a great resort, had lunch at George's on the beach, and had massages. Check out the website at:

2) It's a fine day to drive a Hyundai. If we weren't hanging out in Grand Case, we drove everywhere in the smallest car I've ever been in - a Hyundai Getz. There's no way an SUV can get through the streets, so this came in handy.

3) The Hotel Esplanade, where we stayed, was wonderful. We managed to get a one-bedroom suite that we hated to leave. Check out the hotel at

Now, back to the real world......ugh......where's my BBC?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Au Revoir et Tot Ziens

Well, we're off to St. Martin - tomorrow, which can't come soon enough. Since Easter Sunday, Kate & I have been existing in some allergy-induced haze brought on by the blooming (figuratively and cursedly) trees, flowers, etc. On Sunday afternoon, I went from an alto to a tenor in a matter of hours. For the past three days, it's been like waking up with cotton in my head, and not being properly caffeinated for the rest of the day. Thankfully, everything in St. Martin has bloomed. If anyone needs to reach us, here's the website with the information: Thank you Leigh & Yanni for taking care of our house and Nikki while we're gone!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Here Comes Peter Cottontail...

Happy Easter everyone! Today has been wonderful - had to sing for two services, but managed to get some great photos. I didn't have to spend any money on a Easter dress this year either. My friend, Tandy & I love vintage clothes (circa 1960s) and she GAVE me a suit that once belonged to her mother, which I wore today. On top of that, the grand finale of the service was the entire choir and congregation singing Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus." Kate loves Easter and has been excited about the Easter Bunny and receiving an Easter basket. Last night, Chris was playing a game with her - "Kate, which animals live in the water?" Kate cried, "EASTER BUNNY!" Chris said "Which animal meows?" Again, Kate said "EASTER BUNNY!" She also got to wear her Easter dress today, which she didn't take off (without a fight) until bedtime.

I've been using the Easter Bunny all week to ensure good behavior on Kate's part - "don't cry - the Easter Bunny's watching" - or "Easter Bunny likes it when you share." Now that Easter's over, I don't know who to use now. It's too early for Santa Claus, and Uncle Sam just doesn't have that same appeal.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ahhhhh......So That's Why We Act Like We Do.....

Chris & I have gotten absolutely hooked on HBO's "John Adams" - everything is great about this miniseries - particularly Paul Giamatti who plays Mr. Adams. Being a fan of "Sideways", I keep expecting our 2nd President to yell "No !@#$%^& merlot!", but that thankfully never happens. I have noticed that the delegates of the Continental Congress have very distinct personalities that have carried over to present day (ie. the North & South thing). The Southerners (Jefferson, Rutledge, Lee) may as well be back in England - pretty elaborately dressed, heavy emphasis on being a "gentleman", and so formal it's almost funny. The Yanks are plain-spoken and no-nonsense. After witnessing the exchanges between the delegates (and spending time with my awesome Aunt Donna from Maine), I have to say, I've grown quite fond of the New Englanders. Not that I'm dissing the South, but NC is a different animal when it comes to the rest of the South. My mother (a U.S. History teacher) once told me that North Carolina was (and maybe still is) a "mountain of humility between two hills of pretension (Virginia and SC)." We don't have the big family names (Lee, Calhoun, etc.), and life was not like "Gone With the Wind", but more like "Cold Mountain." But back to "John Adams" being a North Carolinian, I'm disappointed that the "good gentleman delegate" from NC has not been given ANY spotlight, except for the few occasional words. The producers probably wanted to show men with pink brocade jackets and silk stockings rather than ones with tar on their heels. Today, that would make a great drag show.

Regardless of the differences, the series really brings out the patriotism in you. For me, that quality has been seriously lacking during the past eight years. Watching this, you feel a surge of pride at everything these guys went through to give us what we have now. It's not perfect, but everything's a work in progress....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring!

My favorite season is upon us - cue Vivaldi's Primavera Suite! Our garden has so many buds just waiting to burst. The lilac tree will be blossoming within the month, the daffodils are here, etc. Chris & I are putting the fire pit together for smores roasting. Reasons to love Spring:
1) Everything's becoming green - whether it's St. Patrick's Day, Earth Day, whatever. This includes the bread in our pantry.
2) My wild girl was born in the Spring smack dab in the middle of Cherry Blossom Week - she's our very own Cherry Blossom Princess.
3) Chris' birthday is May 8. OK, being a Winter baby, I'm a little jealous of these two.
4) I can use my Spring allergies as an excuse to blubber during sad movies.
5) DC is GORGEOUS during the Spring.
6) Dining al fresco.
7) Lent is over - not that I gave up anything anyway. I'm done reflecting - time to start living.
8) Easter - my favorite holiday - which gives us an excuse to eat chocolate Easter eggs, bunnies, hot cross buns, etc. Thankfully, there are no diabetics in our household - that would be a real drag.
I can't think of anything else, so feel free to add on to this list!

Monday, March 17, 2008

House of Consumption

Gosh - I feel like it's been such a long time since the last post. Lots happening in the past two weeks - all of us have been sick with a cold that's left us with a hacking cough. Kate was pitiful - her big brown eyes were like a veal calf's. Luckily that was the only rough spot. Kate's cousins Daphne and Iris and Aunt Allyson came to visit for a girl's weekend. Kate LOVES her cousins and followed them around all weekend. This past weekend, Kate & went to the Hillwood Museum in the city (home of Merriweather Post) to celebrate Russian Easter. We got to decorate our own "Faberge eggs", play games on the lawn and dance to Russian folk music! On Sunday, Mama got to play opera star with her choir and performed Rossini's "Le Petite Masse" as part of a program called "The Memoirs of Pilate," which commemorated Palm Sunday and profiled the infamous (yet human) Pontius Pilate. Our choir has done some pretty cool performances in the past (Bach's St. John's Passion, Mozart's Requiem, Vivaldi's Gloria), but I have to say, this was my least favorite - a bit too histrionic (but isn't most Italian opera?) Every piece except for one (which was mercifully soft), had thunderous piano accompaniment with even LOUDER voice participants. You leave with your nerves on edge. No wonder I fell asleep at 9:30 last night.

We've finally decided on a vacation spot - St. Martin FWI!!! We'll be there 3/28 - 4/4. Kate's staying with Grandmommy & Grandaddy in NC. I'm counting the days....:)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

All Clean!

Finally had my yearly mammogram yesterday and everything appears to be all clean - no black marks on the screen. I hate those appointments - the whole week is tense up until the time you get the results. Chris was a big help though - very reassuring. If you haven't had a mammogram yet, imagine wedging your breast between the tire of your car and the pavement, then having someone drive over it. Thanks to Jackie for taking care of Kate while I had my appointment. Jackie told me that while I was gone, Kate told her that "Mama has gone to the doctor to have her sick boobies checked out."

Cancer can do strange things to your life outlook - you may have had it completley erradicated from your body, but the memory of ever having it never goes away. It's always there in the back of your mind and makes even the smallest things seem precious. Today marks my 4th year being cancer-free - I had surgery on March 1, 2004. Next year, my five-year mark, there will be a big celebration - so mark your calendars!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Goodbye Rosie - We Hardly Knew Ya...

Yesterday we bid farewell to our lovable VW bug Rosie. Chris, who drove it to work everyday, was ready for a new car. I, being the sentimental old fool, LOVED that car - it was the perfect social worker car. We bought it on the day we found out I was pregnant with Kate as a form of rebellion. A lot of people, finding out they're pregnant would've been more practical and would've probably bought a minivan or SUV; but NO, we had to be different. Also, my parents had a blue one when I was born - it was the only car at the time that could fit my 6ft.-5 inch father (amazing headroom). Anyway, we now have a Japanese AND German car - so don't tell my grandmother (we didn't tell her about the bug for the same reason) - the Battle of Normandy may as well have been fought yesterday according to her.

OK, so we need to come up with a name for the new car - it's a navy BMW, so something masculine but not German (ie. no Adolf, Hermann, Josef, Goebbels, you get my drift). I was thinking Blue Man. Anyone have any suggestions?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Breakfast with George

Since it's President's Day weekend, Kate, Chris & I made the trek on Saturday morning to Mount Vernon on Saturday. Instead of doing the house tour, we strolled the grounds and got to meet George. Actually, Mama got to meet and get a picture taken with him. George, being well over 7 feet tall and regal in his uniform, was a little too imposing for Kate, so she stayed away from him. Mama loved the trees on the estate - especially the walnut tree that was planted in the early 1800s!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

OK - I'm an old sap - I LOVE Valentine's Day. I've never been cynical about it. I wear pink, red, and eat chocolate unapologetically. I think Kate has inherited this gene - she got so jazzed about making cards for her school friends and loved receiving them.

As for Chris, all this week has been a reminder of how much I love him. On Sunday, we went to his friend Reuben's engagement party. It was like 2000 all over again - Reuben and Roy were both there. If it hadn't been for these two guys, I may have never met my husband. I was thinking too of the top reasons I love him so much and here goes:

10)He's genuinely sweet - so many countless occurrences that I can't name them all.
9) He's tall, dark and handsome - yeah, this is such a cliche, but it's true.
8) He takes the "in sickness and in health" thing seriously. I don't think many people would've gone to their wife's radiation treatment with her every day at 7:30am for six weeks.
7)He's not a breast man or has any weird porn fetishes- good thing, with me having 1 1/2 breasts, he would've been sadly disappointed otherwise.
6)He's not now nor has ever been part of a cult. If you had known me from 1998-1999, you'd know what I'm talking about.
5)He listens to my a.m. descriptions of the weird dreams that I have and/or tells me of my sleepwalking escapades.
4) He's constantly singing - and he has a good voice (thankfully).
3) He's smart, without the elitist attitude, and can enjoy movies ranging from the obscure to the ridiculous (read: 40-year Old Virgin, Superbad)
2) He gave me Kate - the best present I've ever received. Totally worth the 18-hour labor.
1) OK, since this is the #1 reason, it has to be good. I have to go back to the Pablo Neruda sonnet read at our wedding to sum up everything:
Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
I love you honey - Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Politics & (Kate) Prose

Due to living in VA surrounded by political conservatives and name-dropping lobbyists and their wives (ok - thankfully not THAT many - it IS NORTHERN VA!) - I've been having nightmares that my daughter has turned into a female Alex P. Keaton (read: a Lily Pulitzer wearing brunette Ann Coulter). Luckily, Super Tuesday eased my fears. Kate & I went to the polls to vote for Super Tuesday, and she was with me when I cast my vote for Obama the Great. The best thing for her was that she got a "I voted" sticker. The best thing for me (which quelled my fears for now) is that on our way home, we were stopped by some Republican guy named Fillmore (Elmore? something like that), who wanted me to sign a petition to put him on the ballot for the upcoming congressional election. Kate absolutely put her foot down after he requested my signature shouting at him "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO - GO HOME and EAT!!!!!!!" So much for politeness in politics - poor guy doesn't stand a chance with this family. Now I can rest easy.....

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Potty Chronicles

Yesterday was a big day in the big potty-training scheme of things. I told Kate that we were going to Target and that she was going to pick out her first pair of "big girl pants." She was VERY excited - for a while now, she's been aware of the difference between wearing her diaper and me wearing "big girl pants." We get to Target, she gets into the cart, and we head over to the kids underwear aisle. Right away, eagle-eye Kate sees the knickers she wants - the ones with Dora and Boots on them - and they're on the bottom row. I stoop down to fish through the bottom rack to find her size. Kate is so excited that she kicks me in the face and I end up doubled over in the floor in Target.

This is going to be interesting.....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Woulda Shoulda Coulda

OK, I have an addendum to my 2008 New Years Resolution list - to get a freakin' flu shot. You'd think that having a two year old would've prompted me to do so as soon as they were available, but NO, this makes my fourth straight day laying on the couch feeling and looking like the living dead. Obviously, I've had a lot of time to think about this, and I think the shot tops the running shoes hands down. I haven't left my house since Friday am and I feel (and probably look) like a troll in a cave. Chris & Kate and my neighbor and friend Marianne have been great though - thanks so much for your help! It's bad when you can't even take care of your own kid, much less yourself. Now on to my big outing today - I think I've reserved enough strength to go to the grocery store. One good thing that did come out of this - I finished a truly wonderful book - "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nimorovsky. The author was actually deported to and died at Auschwitz and her manuscript for this book was found only a few years ago. The book is about the Nazi occupation of France and how people from different socio-economic groups live with their occupiers. Highly recommend it! Anyway, as you can tell, no pictures were allowed this week - at least until the circles under my eyes disappear.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Rach On!

What a great Church service yesterday - two little girls were baptized (one parent was Christian, the other Jewish - sound familiar?), my choir did an amazing Shaker hymn for the anthem that really fired people up (as much as Presbyterians can get fired up), and Paul, our Director of Music Ministries played on the new Steinway one of my favorite Rachmaninoff pieces "Elegie." Paul, if you're reading this, you have to tell me where I can get the best recording for this. I know this will sound morbid, but I've told Chris if I meet an untimely end, you have to play this at my funeral (after, of course, attending a wake that will raise the dead!)

And last but not least, the minister mentioned in his sermon one of my favorite theologians/philosophers - Dietrich Bonnhoffer, the German Protestant theologian who was implicated in a plot to kill Hitler and hanged. One of his quotes always sticks in my mind:

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Anyway.....another week begins....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grandma & Grandaddy Visit!

Yay! Kate's favorite person(s) came to visit this weekend - Grandma & Grandaddy Norris from NC! Mom came by train and the train was delayed for about 45 minutes, so Kate & I hung out at Alexandria's Union Station for a while. When Mom walked off the train and into the door, Kate ran across the room yelling "MAMAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!" Mom had a real ego boost and I'm sure the rest of the people inside the train station were glad that Mamama had finally arrived. That night, I wisked Mom away to choir practice where she got a free Rossini and Rachmaninoff concert, than back home for a much needed rest. The next day, Kate showed Mamama her school and introduced her to her teachers. That night, Mamama babysat while Mama and Daddy got to go out on a much-needed date at Carlyle Grand (what can I say - I'd been craving the lobster potstickers all day!). Another surprise came that night - Grandaddy! He brought Mama's XMAS present - a fire pit. Can't wait to roast smores on that this spring! We took Mamama and Grandaddy to "Busboys and Poets" in Shirlington for brunch the next day and were pleasantly surprised - very good food with no pseudo-elitist attitude. Kate cried inconsolably when my parents left, but hopefully they'll come back soon. Better yet, we COULD drop her off in NC when we go on vacation. Nothing beats a big back yard!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Morning of Kul-Cha

Somehow, whenever we want to see an exhibit at the National Gallery, the weather is either 100 or 30 degrees. Despite the cold, Chris, Kate & I made it to the gallery for the last day of the Edward Hopper showing. Kate preferred the cold outdoors to the stuffiness of the gallery (as any two-year old would), and hammed it up with Mama in the picture below.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

39 and Holding

What a great birthday it's been! I woke up this am with my Kate saying "Happy Birthday Mama." She's really gotten into birthdays lately because of a recent party she went to. I had a morning full of spa treatments at Elizabeth Arden, came home, and Kate was waiting for me at the door, saying "Mama, time for cake!" I usually don't eat dessert before lunch, but hey, it's my birthday. During cake time, she said, "Mama, open your present." She was so excited! She & Chris gave me a creme brulee torch and ramekins. The day was topped off with dinner at Oyamel where Chris & I stuffed ourselves silly. Beforehand, we had drinks at Rasika, a new Indian place. I'm not a big fan of Indian food, but I have to say, the place smelled fantastic. I'm thinking this may be the place for Valentine's Day. Well, it's 10pm, and this 39 year-old woman is dead tired and going to bed. Next year...big party....but until then....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kate's First Hospital Visit

The day started off like any other - breakfast, chased Kate around the room to get her ready for school, etc. I noticed during our cardio workout that she had something around her finger - one of those wooden magnetic refrigerator letters. After putting lotion on her finger, the letter still wasn't going anywhere, so I drove her to school thinking that maybe they would have a solution. After about 15 minutes of tugging and pulling, screaming and crying, Kate's finger was twice its size, so Nedra and Patty told me to take her to the hospital. We went to the hospital emergency room, where about 3-4 MDs and RNs tried to get the stupid letter off Kate's finger and they finally ended up cutting it off with some plier-like instrument. Xrays indicated that nothing was broken, so that's cool. Poor Kate - I think she was both scared, sore and relieved that it was over. During the whole thing, I managed to keep it together by singing many verses of "Wheels on the Bus." As we were leaving, I saw my associate pastor, Casey, in the lobby. She told me that Nedra had said we were there and thought we'd like some company. Her being there really convinced me of angels existing in human form on this earth. Thanks so much Casey!

As for Kate, she now won't let me take her hospital bracelet off. At least this will be something scissors can handle...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vacation Ideas

OK, Chris & I REALLY need a vacation.  The last real vacation we had was in June 2006 when we went to Seattle and Vancouver.  As much as we'd love to go to England and Scotland, the dollar is just too weak against the pound (sorry Rina!), making it too costly.  Maybe after the elections when the Dems. get back into office and turn this county around (ie. stronger economy, better international reputation), then Europe may be a possibility.  Since that may take a while, here are some other thoughts about vacation spots closer to home.  Keep in mind, we're looking for rest and relaxation.  Our next holiday will be adventurous.  The top places we had in mind are:

1)Turks & Caicos
2)Puerto Rico
3)St. Maarten
4)Big Sur
6)St. Kitts

For a future vacation (say Fall), London or Costa Rica.  If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears, as long as it involves sand, sun, water, and drinks with umbrellas. :)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Birthday Girls

I almost forgot - happy birthday to my two favorite nieces, Iris and Daphne.  They turned six today and from the day they were born, have continued to put our hearts crossways in us.  Aunt Beth loves ya'll to pieces!

Ode to Guatemala

It's amazing what music and babies can trigger - today's Church service brought back so many precious memories.  The processional hymn was Beethovan's "Ode to Joy" from his 8th Symphony, which is what I marched down the aisle to at our wedding.  My girlfriend Karen's son David was also christened today.  She adopted him from Guatemala after great difficulty, and he is just adorable.  She is such the proud mamacita!  What a great Sunday it's been so far.....:)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Favorite Restaurants

Chris & I were talking last night about what our favorite restaurants are - luckily we did this after we'd eaten, so there was no need to rush out to relieve our cravings!  So let me see, here goes the preliminary list:

1) Gary Danko - San Francisco
Chris took me to San Fran. as a 36th birthday present.  I was six months pregnant at the time, so I couldn't enjoy the wine or cheese course; but from what Chris says, both, along with the sommelier's suggestions were fantastic.  I think the website is:

2)Le Bec Fin - Philadelphia
I was eight months pregnant when Chris took me here.  He's always wanted to go here, and we really wanted to do it before Kate arrived.  Again, no wine or cheese for me, but the dessert cart made up for it considerably.  I joked with Chris that this was "The Last Supper" because from here on out, we'd be going to places like Fuddruckers until Kate was older.

3)Ten Penh - DC
Love the Asian fusion cuisine.  Definitely a favorite of Chris!

4)Valentino's - Alexandria's West End
Chris stumbled onto this place by accident.  I had ruined a pizza crust, which prompted Chris to go hunting for takeout.  He returned home with the most unbelievable chicken a la vodka pizza.  Turns out this new place is across the street from Total Beverage and has a statue of liberty on top of the building.  Armando, the guy who owns the place is from Queens.  Finally, a proper New York style Italian restaurant, complete with a cheesy New York skyline inside and Tony Bennett piping through the speakers.  

5)  Carlyle Grand - ribs, lobster potstickers, crabcakes, etc.  You cannot get a bad meal here.

6)  Eamon's - yes, we liked this better than Cathal Armstrong's other one, Restaurant Eve.  Reason being - one of Chris & my favorite memories from our honeymoon in Ireland was eating fish & chips out of a newspaper while sitting on a street corner in Dublin with my girlfriend Kieran and her family.  I haven't been able to find anything similar until Eamon's opened in Old Town.  Sandra, if you're reading this, you'd love it - they have excellent Mary Rose sauce.

7)  Rosa Mexicano - guacamole made tableside, crabmeat enchilladas, and potent pomegranite margaritas.  My birthday's is on the 19th, and you'll find Chris & me inhaling everything listed above.

This list is constantly changing, so if anyone has any suggestions, please leave us a recommendation on this blog!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

I think I mentioned in an New Year's email that one of my resolutions was to be a more faithful blogger - well here's my first entry of 2008.  This year has started off like the horses at the Kentucky Derby - fast & furious without the nervous jockeys.  Kate is back in school and seems to enjoy going - quite a change from when she started in October.  Back then, she clung to my legs, begging to be taken home.  Now, she just gives me a "high-five" and goes inside her classroom.  Chris has been racking up his air miles with trips to Miami, New York & Chicago for work, but still manages to be an amazing father to Kate.  

Christmas was awesome - we're definitely setting some new traditions around here.  For the first time, we actually stayed in Alexandria.  Kate got to spend XMAS at home and was mesmerized by the tree, lights, and presents.  Seeing her come down the stairs and the surprised look on her face was priceless.  I've noticed that when Kate was a baby, it was so easy to photograph her - she didn't move around so much, etc.  Now, it's almost impossible to get a good shot.  I was thinking that maybe I didn't have a good camera, so I asked Chris to get me one for XMAS.  I was thinking that a better digital camera would get better pictures of Kate.  I found that it makes no difference with a 2 year old.  You just have to take about 100 shots and maybe a couple of them will be worth posting!

As for Chris, I'm so happy to have found someone who gets excited about food (ok - sweets and seafood!) and music as much as I do.  Our cooking class is coming up soon, and I'm so excited.  The last class we took together was "Tastes of Spain" and was delicious, except that I couldn't drink the sangria because I was pregnant.  We're still talking about our Pre-Kate trips to Gary Danko in San Fran. and Le Bec Fin in Philly as if they happened yesterday.  Ahhhhhh.......we really have to go back!

I have managed to get some shots of Kate - on her new tricycle and at the park.  Check these out!