Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Fun: zoo trip

Everything is more fun with friends. Especially the zoo!
Today we headed over the hills to the Oakland Zoo for a fun morning with the animals, wild (tigers) and domesticated (Eakins, Holbrooks, Larsons and Joyces). We topped it off with a picnic lunch and a couple of fun rides.

Nicoley Lion with her ferocious roar

Sam on a frog

Sliding together!

The gang's all here!

The two Ts: best buds

Wyatt and Kate comin' round the bend

how precious is that face?!

First time on a carousel


Thanks friends for a great day at the zoo!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Fun: swimsuit days

nail painting fun

playing in a friend's back yard fun

slipping and

sliding and

slip 'n' slide fun
(notice I didn't run to help him up but kept snapping photos)

waiting your turn fun

sliding down the slide fun

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Maddie: 41 Months

Dear Maddie,

Somehow I missed last month's post, so Happy 40 and 41 months, big girl! You are nearly three and a half and it's so hard to believe. Time flies when you're having fun and you had a lot of fun this past month.

In May we headed up to Oregon to visit Grammy, Papa and the rest of the Painter clan. You had a fabulous time visiting Grammy and Papa at work (seen above, sitting in a big Caterpillar tractor). You enjoyed hanging out on the farm. But most of all, you loved playing with your cousins. You absolutely adore older girls, and if they are sweet and inclusive like your wonderful Grace and Lizzie, all the better. You are constantly seeking out older girls, drawn to them by some imaginary feminine force, walking right up to join in conversation or play a game. You are incredibly social and brave, and I hope you never lose your self-confidence that is so obvious when you approach a group of people to introduce yourself and launch into conversation.

The other day we passed some rodent traps behind our house. Today you were asking your Daddy lots of questions and when the topic of the rat traps came up you were so concerned why someone would want to harm "one of God's creatures." We acknowledged your great perspective and smiled to ourselves. You are kind and gentle with creatures of all types, like the lizard we found in Hanalei's water bowl one morning. You got him a warm, soft place in the sun to warm up and once he was back on his feet, so to speak, you chased him across the yard to his safe spot beneath the planter.

Your brain is always going, your thinking cap always on, as you take in the world around you and offer your Maddie-isms. The endless stream of questions feed an insatiable desire for knowledge, facts, and you absorb it all like an industrial-sized sponge. You will listen to the same song over and over and over, analyzing each word, inflection, and tone until you can repeat it perfectly. You ask the same questions again and again until you can repeat back the correct information. I feel like you should go to college right now, with the way your brain is always looking to grow. It is incredible yet also exhausting.

Earlier this week Boppa asked your opinion on what tie to wear to work. You picked the bolder one, a red tie, instead of a plainer blue. Boppa had a presentation that day and opted to wear the latter, but took along the red because he knew the ramifications of being caught in the act. Later when you visited with your Auntie Jennie, you immediately noticed the tie faux pas, pointed it out with a concerned look and tone, but then laughed when you saw the red tie tucked away in Boppa's desk drawer, the backup plan gone wrong. You don't forget a detail, Miss Maddie, not a single one.

You are full of energy, creative, gentle and thoughtful. You are always willing to share your toys, food, and even special treats with Sam, offering him bites of even the yummiest of desserts that his own parents would neglect to share. You are fiercely independent and get frustrated when we don't understand what you want us to do. If we don't listen closely, your Maddie sense picks up on our inattention and you quickly make your frustration known. You've taken to screaming in anger, sighing with a loud "Arrrrgh," or even pulling a, "Forget it. I'm done!" (Yeah, that would be straight from my lips. Oops.)

Our first week of Summer vacation (no school, no dance) was sort of difficult. For many reasons, some known, some unknown, you were unhappy and quite unlike your normal Maddie self. To quote a favorite story of ours, you sulked and stormed around the house. Mad was way too plain for how you felt. You seemed off-balance, spinning wildly like a top at the end of its balanced rotations, and all I could do was to run along behind and try to set you back up. Every once in a while we go through a stage like this, where nothing I do seems to be just right, and the world is always frustrating, angering or upsetting you. It is exhausting but also just so hard to not be able to make things right. I watch you from afar and hardly recognize my sweet, amiable girl behind the screeching, shoving, hitting, kicking, tear-streaked wild banshee.

But you are there. I know you are. And I just wait patiently (as possible) until you find your center and come back into my waiting arms.

Now that I'm running three days a week, you have your own little training routine during my five minute cool down. You take off sprinting, head down, arms tucked in, down the path in front of me. The flailing arms and awkward feet of toddlerhood are gone. You run like a big kid, efficient, fast and focused. It fills me with delight and awe to watch you morphing into this long-legged, athletic girl.

Your body is capable of doing so many great things. You love to climb, swing (and pump!), run, jump, roll, hide, glide, bike, and gallop. You are constantly in motion and happiest outside where you can run free and fast.

Life just isn't as fun without your questions, your zest, your curiosity, your jokes, and most of all, your affection. You are such a lovey, sweet, firey girl who has captured our hearts and the hearts of many who meet you. As one new Maddie fan remarked to his bride after spending a few hours with you, "I want one of those."

So glad you're ours, sweet girl.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Cooking: Pesto!

One of our all-time favorite things to eat in the Summer is pesto. Basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, salt and olive oil; simple yet so delicious. Here's what we do:

Gather 2 cups of basil, preferably from your own plant in the backyard. Hooray for home-grown herbs!

Toast three tablespoons of pine nuts in a pan over medium heat until golden brown. (You can also buy pine nuts already toasted from Trader Joe's, a great time saver. Plus, there is basically no recipe that calls for raw pine nuts. Toasted are always preferable because it brings out the nutty aromas and does away with any bite).

When finished, add one minced garlic clove and a healthy swish of olive oil in same pan over medium heat until garlic is sizzling and golden. (no picture, sorry).

You'll need a half cup of parmesan. If you happen to be out, as I was, you can always sub in some of this stuff from Trader Giotto's fine Italian delicatessen.

In a food processor, combine basil and a pinch of salt and puree. Add in sauteed garlic, plus another raw, minced clove, pine nuts and cheese. With processor running, pour in about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of olive oil in and process until smooth, green, creamy and dreamy.

We love our pesto over whole wheat penne with grilled zucchini, red onion, and chicken. You can also have it relaxed and easy, solamente pesto y pasta. Tonight for dinner I sauteed zucchini (from Susan's garden) and a red bell pepper until tender, added chopped tomato and pasta (a combo of ww penne and cheese tortellini), and threw in some pesto until all was coated. Added some S & P, and yummo! The kiddos love it!

Homemade Pesto
(adapted from Pasta: A Passion by Hensley, Hensley & Lowe)
2 cups basil
2 garlic cloves, minced, separated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons pine nuts
olive oil

Process 2 cups basil and pinch of salt in food processor until pureed. Toast pine nuts in skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Set aside. Add one clove garlic and a swish of olive oil to pan, cook until sizzling and golden (watch closely; don't let it burn!)

Add cooked garlic, raw garlic, cheese and pine nuts to food processor. Blend it up. With blade running, pour in 3/4-1 cup olive oil until well blended.

Cheese Tortellini with Zucchini, Tomato and Bell Pepper
(adapted from Cooking Light)
18 oz cheese tortellini
4 cups zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups tomato, chopped
4 TBS homemade pesto

Bring tortellini to a boil in large pot according to directions, omitting salt and fat. When finished, drain.

While pasta cooks, heat skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Cook zucchini and red bell pepper until tender, about five minutes.

Combine cooked pasta, zucchini and pepper mixture, tomato, and pesto in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss, taste and serve!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

10 on 10

as the noonday's very first 10 on 10!

Thanks Mel for the inspiration!

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes from small group last night
(make these. make these now.)

flowers in the backyard

more flowers

close up with early morning sprinkling

"Top o' the morning to ya, miss!"

trying out a new melon from TJs

somebody got a new toy

somebody else got a new dress
(great sale! woo hoo!)

on our way to a playdate, mr. crumbyface cutiepie

out to dinner, watching the birds

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

help for the Congo

A few months ago, I decided to start training for a 10K. For some reason, the reality of turning 32 this year, coupled with my on-again, off-again health issues with colitis, plus a desire to live long and be healthy not only for myself, but my children, encouraged me to start running again. I've always had a love-hate relationship with running; love the results, hate the pain. Yet I enjoy running more and more as I get better. I love exercising outside, I love listening to praise music or podcasts, and I love the endorphin rush.

I needed a goal. Partway through my training, I decided to undertake a simple 5K to encourage me to keep running. I did some research and one run really stood out to me: Run for Congo Women.

I'm asking for help. It's not widely known that more than 5.4 million people have died in the conflict in Congo since 1998, and half of these deaths, 2.7 million, were children under the age of five. The situation is pure evil. There is no other way to best explain it. Evil runs rampant. I cannot even read the stories without gasping, sobbing, and wanting to turn away.

I will be running on June 26th in Portland to raise awareness about the Congo and funds for Women for Women Int'l programs there. This program provides women survivors of war with financial assistance, job skills training, awareness education and trauma counseling. In the Congo, more than 31,000 women have been helped by this organization.

If you feel so led, you are welcome to donate funds by visiting my fundraising page at

If you want to know more about this awesome opportunity, visit their page at

Sunday, June 06, 2010

happy birthday dear ones!

Happy Birthday Bonnie!
Thanks for being a great mom and mother-in-law and a fabulously fun Tutu!
We love you and wish you a very happy day!

Happy Birthday Kelly!
Thank you for being the best friend a girl could have! You are fun and wise and encouraging and caring and a joy to journey through life with.

Samuel: 15 Months

My Sweet Big-Baby Boy,

I say "Big-Baby" because you resemble more of a little boy than a baby these days, but I stubbornly refuse to let the baby days slip away. You are running and plotting and climbing and teasing and so much fun!

You are all boy, digging in dirt, climbing any vertical surface, growling, carrying big sticks, noticing anything with wheels, and obsessed with trucks, tractors, planes and the like. But you are also gentle, sweet, and deliciously affectionate. On Saturday morning at the Farmer's Market we glanced over to see you throwing yourself forward in your stroller into the arms of your sister, hugging and then kissing her, looking at her face and then starting the process all over again. When you break out into these spontaneous moments of love and affection, my heart swells and warms within me as though the very sun is rising in my chest.

Like your sister, you are happiest outside. Many times each day you walk toward one of the doors, break out that pointer finger, motion toward the door and grunt, "Mmm. Mmm. Mmmm." "Outside," I say, "You want to go outside?" And you turn back with fierce determination waiting for me to unlatch the door (we must keep all doors locked these days because you are now capable of releasing yourself into the great outdoors). You will spend hours in our back yard, playing in the fountain, digging in dirt, carrying buckets around, chasing your sister with a squirt bottle, climbing on the chairs, or just chilling in the grass.

Many times a day you disappear, and it is in my seeking that I know you are either: 1) in some serious trouble, such as splashing in a toilet (try as we might to keep such things inaccessible) or sitting in the sink, running the water over your thighs, or; 2) sitting in your rocking chair, rocking away, reading one of your truck/machine/train books. Basically, anytime I find you after some time has passed, I am cleaning up a big mess or sighing in complete contentment. You sure like to keep your Mama guessing.

While your big sister continues to remain the "talker extraordinaire" in our household, you are starting to show more and more language development in your own time. If we wait long enough, you do have something to say, like "Ooo Ooooo" every time you see a train, or "mooo" for the cows in your books. You also sign for doggy when Hanalei comes around and blow on your hot food. You notice planes and birds and are constantly pointing out things, gesturing wildly and grunting to get our attention. It's just a matter of time before you surprise us all by conversing back and forth with your sister.

Much like your sister, you are an adventurous eater and astonished us yesterday with your fondness for brussels sprouts. Erin at Sideboard can make just about anything taste absolutely wonderful! But nothing compared to the sweet whipped cream that you devoured off the chocolate pots de creme. I took a whole series of pictures of your worried face and furrowed brow that appeared each time Daddy scooped a bite of the whipped cream and took it to his own lips rather than your waiting, open mouth.

Most days you are easygoing, fun-loving, gentle, adventurous, curious, hilarious and a joy to be around. You hardly ever fuss, wake up each day with an enormous, joy-filled smile, and constantly make us laugh with your silly little antics. You love to dance, to spin around until you grow dizzy, to follow your sister all around, to do your own thing, and most of all, to be with your family.

We love you sweet boy.