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Every now and then I pull out my black notebook to jot down bits and pieces of life with Ralph. I've never been good at keeping up with his baby book-- for some reason it overwhelms me. But I grab my black notebook almost nightly. It's full of lists, and ideas for things, and quickly scrawled recipes, and it's easier for me to jot down a thing or two about my boy there. I've come up with a small collection of things I want to remember-- one-liners and funny moments and sweet memories, but the things I seem to want to write down the most are the messes.

I want to remember the dry stickiness of all my doorknobs, as though someone with a spitty fist had just shoved a handful of graham cracker into his mouth, and then shut the door tight.

I want to remember the moment when he picked up a throw pillow, wiped his nose all the way across it, set it back down, and ran off to play.

I want to remember the way he follows his dad around outside, trampling plants and shoveling dirt where he shouldn't and driving Ryan crazy.

And the way he pulls a chair up to the counter when I'm working in the kitchen, rumpling the rug in front of the sink every.single.time. 

And how every day he insists on doing the dishes, guaranteeing a soaked outfit, and maybe a broken dish.

I want to remember the way sand and dirt falls out of the pockets and cuffs of his pants every time I take them off.

I want to remember the mess, because if there's one thing that drives me crazy, it's a dirty house. I cringe at the sight of all the crumbs on the floor, and sigh at the stains on my rug, and want to pull my hair out when I see even more paint chipped off the floor trim by a chubby hand and a toy hammer. Every day I clean it all up, only to watch the messes flutter back down to the floor like fuzzy, sticky pieces of confetti.

And yes, I want to remember the messes because I know they mean a wild, happy, thriving little boy lives here. But I also want to remember them for my sake. Because, every day, even on the hardest days, I love it. It's a weird thing, to spend your day doing things that drive you up the wall, that you also love. And yet, every day I am reminded: this is what I'm good at. This is what I was meant to do.

I know that Ralph is not much different than any other two year old. He's learning his colors and ABCs and how to spit when he brushes his teeth, just like the rest of them. I know that, besides a few quirks, he's nothing special-- except that he's mine. Mine! My little boy, with his dad's sense of humor and his grandpa's bright eyes and a really fantastic head of hair. Dropped into my lap from the heavens above one morning in October, quiet and sleepy and ready to mess up my life. All for the better.

. . .

PS: When it comes to neat freaks living with a bonkers toddler in the house, I think Erin said it best in this sweet interview: "A crazed monkey has snuck into my sterile little lab, and I am learning to like it."

PPS: Ralph's new favorite car shirt was so generously provided by the kind and friendly folks at Winter Water Factory. It's soft and cute, and we both love it. Thanks guys!


saturday pancakes

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Saturday morning breakfast is, hands down, my favorite meal of the week to make.

It's the slowness of it all, the ease of waking up with not much to do right away, except maybe make something delicious to eat. Ralph crows at the same time every day whether it's Saturday or not, but we're not much for sleeping in too late in this house anyway. We pull him up into our bed and let him rearrange the pillows till we're good and awake. Ryan has successfully taught the child how to fetch him his slippers. Truly.

We all tumble down the stairs after a few minutes and Ryan puts the coffee on the stove. We park it on the couch and Ralph hops from lap to lap to floor to stairs to kitchen to lap again. We watch our shows (Edible Feast and This Old House) and sip our coffee (milk and sugar) and then it's time to eat.

My big kitchen window faces east and the sun shines through my curtains just right. I always try to get the kitchen extra clean on Friday nights, just for that moment-- when I walk in, and everything is so bright it practically sparkles.

I turn on some music. I set the table with cloth napkins and juice glasses and small bowls for fruit because who cares, it's Saturday. I don't have a dishwasher, but I do have all day to ignore the mess of extra dishes if I want to. I pull out bowls from the cupboards and spoons from the drawers and by that time Ralph has come in and "helped" by measuring out a bowl-ful of useless flour that I'll dump back into the jar when he's not looking. I crack some eggs-- sometimes for fried egg sandwiches, sometimes for french toast (if I've happened to grab a loaf of challah at the store the day before) but most of the time, for our favorite pancakes.

Buttery, with a slight tang from the buttermilk. Not too dense and cakey, but not too light and fluffy either. Juuuuust right. Perfect for a long, sunny weekend, I'd say.

Buttermilk Pancakes | adapted from The Comfort Table by Katie Lee Joel

3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 large egg

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, and egg. Add the dry ingredients to the buttermilk mixture. Mix until just combined. The batter should be a bit lumpy.

Grease a nonstick skillet or griddle and heat to medium high. Pour about 1/3 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle. When small bubbles begin to form on the tops of the pancakes, they are ready to be flipped, 2-3 minutes on each side.

Makes enough pancakes for about 2 1/2 people (heh) but the recipe can easily be doubled.


dusting off the cobwebs

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Well, hello.

It's good to be back here in this homey little blog spot. I wasn't sure I'd quite remember how to do it, but I did. A few forgotten passwords needed changing along the way, but we made it.

I'd say sorry for the silence, but I don't think I'm too sorry. Sometimes it's nice to take a break. I could blame it on the long, cold winter, or the fact that much of my time away has been spent growing a new little baby (!) but the truth is that I just didn't feel like blogging for a bit. Inspiration never struck. When everything on the internet starts to look the same, and you're not sure you like the things you like because you like them, or because it's all you ever see every time you look anywhere-- well, then, it's time to peace out for a little while.

It turns out that a little time away was all I needed. I've been happy to discover that yes-- I do like the things I like because I like them. I like to cook and clean and be a mom and a wife and putter around my house, making sure it looks tip-top. I like to take a pretty picture when the light is just right. I like to make supper for my family every night. I like to love my baby. Those are my things. I'll do my things whether I blog about them or not.

And as long as I'm doing them, it's fine to blog about them. Right?

And if you happen to follow along, I hope you do so because it makes you glad. I'm not trying to impress. I only want to share some good things every now and then, in hopes that you feel a bit lighter while you're here. That's what a good blog is for, isn't it? If it's not for you, it's okay to move on. I'll understand. Not everyone cares about linen closets and fresh pizza dough recipes.

Although, if you're wondering, I happen to care deeply about linen closets and fresh pizza dough recipes.

I'll be back soon.