baby #2

we had our ultrasound yesterday and are happy to report that

James Edward Paul III

is on his way, sometime around October 25:)

baby james looks healthy and strong. (well, about as strong as an 11 ounce munchkin can be!) the only concern was that they saw something that can be an indicator of high blood pressure in me, which is sometime i dealt with toward the end of my pregnancy with dylan.

i asked my midwife if there was anything i should do or eat to keep that in check, and she said no. that sounded kind of ridiculous, so i plan to do a little research...

...along with some baby boy shopping:)


it's the little things

dylan is a verbal kid who is pretty clear about telling us what she wants. today, for instance, in the coffee shop, dylan wanted a "snack." since we'd just come from the bakery where dylan got her own cookie, i vetoed that and promised lunch wasn't too far away.

she was in my arms, since the shop stocks breakables right at toddler height, and as i was paying for my italian soda, dylan reached out and five-fingered a scone that was plated at the register, un-cased and un-wrapped.

so i paid for an italian soda and a "snack." awesome.

it's been our little project for months now to get our eager talker to tell us when she needs a diaper change, but that has basically been the least of her priorities.

dylan can say stinky, poop, wet, (y)uck, pants, dirty, and diaper, yet she prefers to keep her soiled drawers a secret. it drives me up a wall.

and then today, she finally used those words. dylan stopped playing, pointed to her pants, and said: "bum."

that's my girl:)


so it begins

we hosted our 5th annual (has it really been that long?) memorial day cookout yesterday afternoon, and it was lovely. when we first started it, a lot of old pittsburgh friends made the trip out, and a few stalwarts came this year, too, but we've finally made some good friends here to pack out the yard.

the weather was warm and beautiful, and sixty-some people staked out spots all over the lawn to eat, and talk and play. we had a good crew of people from church, as well as folks from camp, and i was so happy that several women from MOPS came, along with their families.

dylan wore a sweet little sun dress and sun hat and loved interacting with all the people and kids, and perhaps most of all, the horses who arrived right before the party. she asked to go to the barn all day and is completely smitten. she also finally learned the word "horse," although more often than not, she calls them by her preferred name, "neigh."

i made this easy, unusual salad that was summery and delicious:
lots of cubed watermelon
crumbled feta cheese
a handful of halved kalamata olives
a modest amount of arugula, chopped small, as a garnish
the juice of one lemon
a drizzle of olive oil
a few grinds of black pepper

you could certainly serve it over lettuce, spinach, or a good amount of arugula, but i liked it as an un-green salad.

this weekend i also got to spend one wonderful day with my college friends who met up in west virginia for a bachelorette weekend. jim got off work and had a great time with dylan, and i had my first night away since she was born!

eleven of us rented a cute mountain house, and we cooked, caught up, razzed liz, and had a relaxing, fun time. this is the only picture i got, and it's only of a few us us, but here's ee, saya, lizzo the bride-to-be, and me and my baby belly:)

before i left for wva, i made this year's first trek to the farmers' market and got the season's first fresh strawberries and arugula, along with a pie, a giant bundle of green onions, and the not-to-be-missed pierogies grilled hot on site. mmmm!

today, jim's staff is arriving. summer is here.


one and a half

my super-big girl on her half-birthday. cheeks a-flush and shirt and hat pretty much soaked from a sweet-awesome time frolicking in our make-shift sprinkler, (AKA the busted hose nozzle that sprays all on its own.) fun was had, and i loved that she wasn't afraid of the water. dylan giggled and shrieked, and it was pretty much the best thing ever.

it was the perfect way to cool off after the walk in which we spotted a fat, fluffy groundhog running from us for its dear life. well, i thought it was a groundhog; dylan is pretty sure it was a "meow." it might have been, baby. i won't argue with the (half) birthday girl.


good food, good friends

even though we're rapidly approaching our fifth summer here in ligonier, it's taken a while to feel rooted. i'm not even sure i feel that way yet, but it's been a good year. more often than not, it's just the three of us hanging out (or just dylan and me during the day), which is why it was kind of crazy (and lovely) to have such a full weekend.

friday night leeanne came for dinner, along with a young couple who just moved here to do some organic gardening in conjunction with a retirement community (or something...clearly that doesn't sound like the entire story!) it was a warm, beautiful day, and we ate on the deck. jim grilled venison medallions and made a chimichurri sauce, i made a spinach salad, leeanne brought homemade bread which we spread with brie and had with wine. so nice:)

afterward, we headed up the hill to celebrate the first birthday our our friends' daughter. they had lots of cousins visiting, which provided dylan with lots of kid-table plates from which to filch cake;)

the next night, we hosted two families for jim's homemade pizza. the last time we all got together was a few months ago when dylan was still new at walking. this time, she held her own, playing happily with the 2-4 year-olds. she's grown so much in the past few months. every week is different, since she learns three or four new words each day. she is a little talker!

dylan also apparently feels a special kinship with our dog, syndey. for months now, i've been wrestling dog food out of her mouth on a daily basis. she knows to stay away from sydney's food and water; she'll point to them, telling us "NO! NO! NO!", proving she gets it, but nevertheless, every single day i find her with a mouth full of kibble. it's almost more than this queasy pregnant mama can take!

now she's also taken to climbing into sydney's kennel. again, ew! she clearly does not share her mama's animal aversions. no, she loves all God's creatures, from the littlest mouse to the tallest "neigh."

last weekend my parents visited, and we had a great time together. they brought their old patio dining room furniture, which they lovingly scrubbed.  it nicely fills our long-empty back porch, and i look forward to spending time out there this summer.

we are also starting work on our first garden. i was envisioning a simple plot of land, but jim built four beds, a fence and a gate, and laid beautiful stone paths.  we're planning on herbs, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, beans, onions, garlic, and lettuce.

our friend dan, the mushroom man, stopped by this week with a bag full of spinach from his garden, asparagus, and a tree limb plugged to grow mushrooms, with instructions to put it somewhere shady that will get rain. how cool is that? he promised to return with some heirloom tomato plants.  our very own santa claus.

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book circle: april

last month's book was In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by michael pollan. it was fascinating.

really, you ask, a book about diet and nutrition?

really. i promise. it was so interesting.

i admit it's a little depressing, too, because exposes how industrial agri-business produces meat, dairy and produce that are nutritionally deficient and how a western diet based on refined sugars, oils, and grains is to blame for health problems ranging from obesity to diabetes, cancer, and tooth decay. somehow pollan manages to make the whole story interesting and even hopeful if you take home the message that supporting local farmers who grass-feed livestock and whose growing practices enrich the soil leads to better eating and that the health benefits of a changed diet can be measured in as little as a few weeks.

here is the gist of his book, and he lays it out right there on the cover: "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

by food, pollan means whole foods--things not sold in wrappers, boxes, or packages. he convincingly argues that whole foods are more than the sum of their parts and that simply adding "good" nutrients like vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, or fiber to snacks, cereals, breads, pastas, and yogurts does not make them healthy--especially when they are also "fortified" with high fructose corn syrup, soy-based oils, and unpronounceable mystery ingredients.

but it doesn't come across as preachy. instead, pollan manages to weave an compelling story from topics as varied as grain milling, history of food culture, best practices in agriculture, nutritional trends and fads, science, medicine, law, and pseudoscience.

i feel like i learned a lot, and it made me want to know more. i'm especially eager for the farmers' market to open in a few weeks, because until then there aren't a lot of local alternatives in food shopping (although friends we know do purchase milk and eggs from a nearby farm, and other friends buy a locally-raised pig.) thankfully, with jim's hunting, we don't buy much factory farm-raised meat (although eating out is another story...)

it made me want to learn to bake bread, although now that i know more about how nutritionally bankrupt white flour is, i wonder where i can purchase stone-ground wheat flour? i also want to try my hand at making condiments like ketchup. i know, it's anathema for a pittsburgh girl to turn her back on heinz, but i'd like to do without the high fructose corn syrup.

it was probably the book that lead me to spend friday afternoon picking dandelion greens from my yard and cooking them up for dinner. admittedly, they were less than delicious, but a least i know that the bitterness (which is bred out of most industrially-farmed produce) comes from its ability to defend itself from predators and is indicative of high nutrient content.

i'm pretty sure knowing that led me to by kale this week as well. i made this recipe for dinner, and it was a huge hit--dylan and jim both gobbled the tofu, if you can believe it! delish:)

so i liked yet another book circle choice. that's three for three:) penny is the circle's hostess, and she'll soon have other people's reactions posted as well.
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