September 8, 2012

First Day of 1st Grade

Last year I thought the first day of kindergarten was tough.  But the first day of 1st grade was even more heart wrenching.  I have my theories as to why.  Perhaps it's because the school eases the kids (and parents) into kindergarten with lots of half days in the beginning where parents get to hang out for a while.  Perhaps it was the of knowledge of what school really was, combined with the uncertainty of what 1st grade would be like.  Perhaps it was because Isabella knew it was the beginning of a long, tough journey.  (After the first week of kindergarten she asked, "How many more days until I'm done?"  In February they had a big celebration when they reached "100 days of school".  Isabella was convinced that was the last day of school; and stuck to her conviction, "School should only be 100 days!" until school finally got out on June 28th.)

Whatever it was, it made her extremely nervous.  (During summer break she never talked about school.  And just shrugged her shoulders and avoided eye contact if anyone asked her about it.)

On Thursday morning, the first day of school, I was convinced she was, indeed, quite ill with a stomach bug.  Brian insisted it was nerves.  In the end, Brian was right.  The drop off in the classroom was painful.  Several kids were crying (so glad mine wasn't the only one!).  But, of course, Isabella's teacher is beyond amazing and had all the teary kids busily helping her as I quickly tried to pry Isabella off my body and exited the classroom.  At pick-up my brave little girl was all smiles.  Daddy had promised her a first day of school celebration of frozen yogurt at 16 Handles.

It ended up being the only food she ate all day, but it was an exceptional day.  My little, tender girl fought a good fight that morning.  She stared fear in the face and she conquered it!  She came out of the battle stronger and taller than before.  I am so proud of her!

Washington D.C.

Labor Day weekend we headed to Washington D.C. for some fun.  The first day was extremely hot.  The second day was also hot, but a little more bearable.  Even though we tried to take the same relaxed approach as we did in Boston we found we were all pretty cranky and grumpy, because of the heat.  In hindsight we should have planned this trip a little better ahead of time.  (The reality is the week before we went I planned on planning the trip, but Simon was incredibly sick, so I held a cranky baby all day and night instead of planning...such is life.)

Brian got off early Friday so we could beat the traffic out of the city on a holiday weekend.  Unfortunately he didn't get off early enough (2pm??) we sat in traffic in SoHo for about an hour before we were able to get through the Holland Tunnel.  The kids napped, but then they were awake the rest of the drive.  A drive that should have taken 4 hours actually took 7.  It was a tad grueling, to say the least, but the kids were amazing.

We look forward to going back and doing D.C. better.  Here's what I will do differently next time: go in the spring or fall (not summer!), map out a few favorite sites/museums each day (double check operating hours), and carry more food with us.
the white house
Oliver's silly song/dance in front of the Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial
Wide-eyed Isabella asked, "Was he really that big?!"
the Capitol
A highlight of the trip was the National Postal Museum (thanks for the tip, Heather!).  It's a fairly new Smithsonian Museum with lots of interactive stuff for the kids (and adults!) to do.  I really had no idea the history of the postal system could be so fun.

And for a healthy dose of reality, this is how Oliver saw the sites.
Lincoln Memorial
National Gallery of Art
National Building Museum

Blueberry Muffins

I found this post from two years ago still in draft form; never published.  But I still love this muffin recipe, so I thought I'd share.  Enjoy!


I LOVE blueberries. Growing up I didn't think much of them. All that we had in California were tiny, tasteless balls that were super expensive. Then Brian took me blueberry picking in Glastonbury, Connecticut--his hometown--a few weeks before we were married. WOW! It was absolutely amazing. Heavenly, really. Not only was the experience wonderful but the blueberries...WOW!...were fantastic. Handfuls of huge berries full of sweet, fragrant juice would fall off the bush as I went to grab just one. Brian took a some videos of us picking the summer I was pregnant with Isabella and very few of the berries actually went into the bucket. They were so tasty.

These muffins are good and pretty healthy. I think next time I'll cut back a bit (1/4 cup) on the sugar. I found the recipe Also next time I will only put in 1 cup of blueberries as suggested. Since I love blueberries I dumped a bunch in, but then the muffins were too moist. The berries I used were picked last summer and frozen.
Health Nut Blueberry Muffins

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 banana, mashed
1 cup buttermilk*
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin.

In a large bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and mix until just blended. Then gently fold the blueberries and walnuts into the mixture.

Bake for 15-18 minute or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly touched. (It took my muffins almost twice as long to cook. Probably because I used large, frozen blueberries.)

*I rarely have buttermilk, so I just put 1 teaspoon lemon juice in 1 cup of milk and it works well.


A few weeks ago we jumped on a last minute opportunity to go to Boston for a weekend.  It was right after the tornado hit and my in-laws were without electricity.  Boston became the best get-away from our get-away.

I don't think I give Brian enough credit for all of our amazing adventures.  He's really the catalyst for all the amazing stuff we do.  And I'm so grateful for his adventurous, fun loving personality.  It definitely keeps life exciting!

One of the best parts of this trip; the part that made it really enjoyable for me (and everyone, I think) was we had no concrete plans.  We didn't have an agenda or checklist.  We went slow, took one moment at a time and just enjoyed being together in a great city.  I'm not sure if that would work for every trip we take, but for this trip, at this season of life it was perfect.

Here's what we did on our spur of the moment trip to Boston:

Lots and lots of walking

Dined on super-duper creamy clam chowder and cannolis

I caught this little boy sneaking into this box several times.

Enjoyed the beautiful city way past bedtime 
(and did not regret it the next day)

Climbed aboard Old Iron Sides (USS Constitution

Hiked 300 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.

 And treated ourselves to the 
"Oliver Pizza" and "Isabelle Pizza" at Figs Restaurant
(Coincidentally, the owner of the restaurant, Todd English, has 3 children; named Isabelle, Oliver and Simon.  The Figs Table has been our favorite cookbook for years.)

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