Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer fun

This morning Judah and I went for a short little walk in the courtyard while Charlie slept and Paul got ready for work. While we were out I noticed that the sprinklers were on and thought what fun the kids would have if they were able to run around in them. So we put on their swim suits and headed outside to the courtyard. Charlie had so much fun in the sprinklers, but the big puddle in the breezeway was much more Judah's speed. Here is a glimpse:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


On this longest day of the year, I thought I'd share a few thoughts about mothering. Today I took the kids to the center of Old Town to splash in the fountain in market square. I was surprised to find no other kids there with their moms (maybe they're all at Stonehenge?), but we were delighted to take off our shoes and jump in. Pretty much all that Judah wanted to do was pick up the wishing pennies and throw them, but he had so much fun doing so. Then he decided to sit down in the water and needed a new change of clothes by the time we left to get ice cream.
After the ice cream we needed to walk by the fountain to get to the car, and I wasn't really in that much of a hurry, so we headed into the water again for a few minutes. I had every intention of making sure Judah stayed somewhat dry this time, but of course, even the best intentions can't keep an almost-two-year-old boy neat and tidy.
At this point, there just wasn't anything I could do but jump in the fountain and splash with my kids. Judah was already soaked, so I thought let's just have some fun. So we did. And what fun we had! It was such a fun way to pass the time with my little ones.
As we were cleaning up and packing up the car, a passerby made a comment like "I sure don't miss the stroller days." I made an I-hear-ya kind of face and then he said something that I don't think I'll forget: "Just remember, the days go slow, but the years go fast." It's just so strikingly true. And so fitting a day to hear such wise words. It was a reminder to me to make the best of every moment. And while the days seem so long, they're so fleeting.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stickin' it to the Man

I recently "ran into" (via Facebook) an old college friend who was pretty surprised to hear that I'm a work-at-home mom who sews and cans her own strawberry jam, etc. I wondered where he figured I'd end up, since my way of life is just second nature to me. So I've been thinking about this idea quite a lot lately. If you're wondering what in the world this has to do with pictures of homemade pickles, hang on--I'll get there.
I've mentioned in the past that if you'd known me back in college or the few years just afterward, you'd likely be as surprised by my present-day lifestyle. I was not exactly the model Bible college student. I always meant well, but, let's just say that there were certainly things about me that were never tamed. Needless to say, learning to sew my daughter dresses and baking bread don't exactly match up to the girl who was constantly in the Dean of Women's office having to explain this offense or that. 
I certainly have changed quite a bit since then, but I'll also add that a lot of my choices of late are sort of born out of that spirit of rebellion, as opposed to being in spite of it. I'm doing a lot of things that are unconventional--natural childbirth, cloth diapers, alternative and holistic medicine, and the list goes on. Certainly my food choices are going to be no exception.
For example, today Charlie and I made homemade pickles from this recipe. While I was prepping, Paul asked why in the world I felt the need to make my own pickles when I can just as easily buy a jar of them. I laughed and replied that I'm "sticking it to the man," or something like that. I hope that by now you know that I'm half kidding, but only half. I don't mean to be melodramatic about it, but canning my own pickles, simple as it is, is one of my many little protests that I display against the machine that is the conventional American way of eating. Instead of buying yet another prepared food off the supermarket shelf and having no idea where these things that are called pickles come from (did you know that pickles actually start out as cucumbers???), I'm buying vegetables directly from a farmer and turning them into food for my family. A very tasty food, if I do say so myself.
A friend recently showed us this video that was so well done for a variety of reasons, and it so artistically and hilariously describes this battle between Supermarket and Farmers' Market. Please check it out if you have 5 or 6 minutes (if you're a Star Wars fan, you definitely do not want to miss it): "Grocery Store Wars."
Today it just so happens that a brand new farmers' market opened up just around the corner. Another small victory for the rebellion! I'm so happy that this way of shopping for food is becoming even more popular these days. People are shopping more wisely and supporting our local farms, and it is paying off. We're gaining momentum, and we need to keep heading this direction in order to make our voices heard. So keep frequenting your farmers' markets, growing your own edibles, and joining your CSAs.

8 small pickling cucumbers, unpeeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Combine cucumbers, onion, vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, dry mustard, turmeric, and celery seeds; heat to boiling over high heat, stirring occasionally.

Boil 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Pour cucumber mixture into a large bowl; cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Cover and chill overnight before serving.

From sliced cucumbers:

To Bread and Butter Pickles


Last weekend we were blessed with a visit from my parents, my sister Stephanie, and my niece Chloe. We decided to brave the intense heat and take a road trip to Colonial Williamsburg. (Unfortunately, my sister became ill while we were there and couldn't leave the hotel room, so the rest of us had to go on without her.)
Colonial Williamsburg is a really interesting and beautiful place. It's also a great place to take kids. There are so many things to see and so many activities for kids. We highly recommend taking a weekend to spend with just the family.

Here are Charlie and Chloe checking out the inside of one of the buildings on a farm just outside the town. This farm has been recently constructed to show exactly how a farm would be run during colonial times. It's quite fascinating and shows how much we can take for granted today.

Here is one of the vegetable gardens on the farm:

Here are my sweet parents having a little rest while we wait for our next attraction.

Here Charlie is being handcuffed at the town jail:

Here is a picture of Chloe helping to take care of Judah. She's a sweet little cousin!

Judah became very attached to his Pap Pap.

Poor Charlie is squinting because of the sun, but here she is showing off her new doll that she bought with her own money:

Here we are on our way out:

I wish I had taken more pictures of the buildings to show you. The town is really quite beautiful, even when it is 90 degrees. I hear that Christmastime is also a great time to visit. Maybe we'll return and take some better photos then!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dancing Queen

Little Charlie had her second ballet recital on Saturday. We are so glad that she is enjoying ballet and wants to continue her classes. I think it's giving my little girl confidence and physical strength and all those benefits that come from learning something new. She was so precious dancing with her little friends. I made a video of her recital, but for some reason I can't attach it here on the blog. I've posted some photos instead.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saturday morning

Every Saturday morning the Callahan family enjoy the sunshine and shop at the best farmers' market in the area. This past weekend I finally remembered to bring the camera, and I just wanted to share a few photos of our beauties. Enjoy!

These cherries are packaged in one of my homemade produce bags

The Del Ray Farmers' Market

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fun in the City

I can't believe I forgot the camera! Aaargh! Since today was the first Monday that I've had off (and by "off," I mean only my two kids) in a while, we decided to make the most of city life and head to a museum. We left the house early and drove Paul to his office (free parking!), stopping at Cosi for a simple bagel breakfast with coffee (I sound so citified, don't I?), and then to the National Air and Space Museum.

Since we parked at Paul's office, this trip also involved a trip on the Metro, which is no easy feat with two kids and a stroller. Got to find all the elevators and push the stroller with one hand while holding tightly with the other hand to Charlie's little hand and all that. And try to find a seat and make sure the stroller isn't in the way of all the people exiting the train, etc. Some of these maneuvers make me feel like a professional mom but also kind of like a tourist in my own town. I wanted to explain to all these people that I used to ride the train every day and could have done it walking backwards with my eyes closed and had the Metro map memorized in a former life. "I'm not a tourist! Honest!"

But the Metro ride did not disappoint the kids. Good call, Mom--scored points there. The museum was a different story. Oh, we had fun, but a lot of it was the mom-invented sort of fun, like finding a mostly deserted exhibit area and letting the boy out of the stroller to chase him and his sister around a little. They did most certainly enjoy looking at the suspended airplanes and spacecraft, but not much else. I think this museum is maybe a little too advanced for my small kids.

I used to feel like we had to spend a certain amount of time at a place to sort of "get our money's worth." Not that we spent anything--the Smithsonians are free--but you know what I mean. Get my effort's worth, I guess. But I'm realizing that we only need to spend as much time as proves enjoyable. If I push my luck beyond that, I'm totally asking for a public meltdown (call that foreshadowing).

After we'd seen enough, I towed the children into the museum shop to see if we could find a trinket or a book or something that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg or break in five minutes. As soon as Judah spotted the bin of 4-inch plastic airplanes, it was all over. So I picked up a couple and happily realized they weren't quite as cheap as I'd expected and purchased those along with a book on the history of flight (for my dad for Father's Day--he's a pilot and will hopefully enjoy this book and I really hope he doesn't check my blog before he gets his gift). Meltdown avoided postponed.

Since it was nearing lunchtime and I knew that these two were absolutely not going to survive the long trek back to Capitol Hill (was not going to attempt the train again) and then the ride home without something to eat, we decided to have a light lunch at the museum's food court. Okay, if I'm going to be completely honest, I'm going to have to admit that secretly I really wanted to do lunch at the food court. The Air and Space Museum's food court happens to serve Donato's Pizza, which is a chain that was started in Paul's hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and it happens to be a real treat for the Callahan family. One of his sisters in particular practically foams at the mouth over the thought of Donato's and is quite jealous that we have such access, since it is not available in her current city. Anyway, so we split our little Donato's pizza (for $10 bucks with a bottle of water!), and then it happened. I made the mistake of buying a vanilla cone to share.

Maybe all you-know-what broke loose because he was tired, or maybe it was the sugar intake (albeit, very small sugar intake due to the ridiculously cute way he licks ice cream with just the teeniest tip of his tongue), or maybe because I'd ordered ONE cone for all three of us to share, but OH MY GOODNESS. Seriously. The food court was absolutely filled with tourists, school kids, and who knows who else, and you could hear MY child above it all. He wanted to hold the cone. So I let him. Then I had to keep taking it away--scream after scream after scream--so that Charlie and I could actually eat it so that we could get the heck out of there.  The only exit is through the museum, and you can't take food in there. I wasn't about to throw it away and then deal with the inevitable simultaneous meltdowns. By this point, I was sweating and wishing I hadn't taken on this whole day. What was I thinking? This morning I was whistling, "I'm going to take my lovely children on an outing to the city. We're going to a MUSEUM! Oh, what a lovely day we will have. I'm such a good mom." By now my feet were killing me, I was so stressed out, and I still had the walk back to the car.

To end the suspense, we survived. The walk to the car was actually quite enjoyable. Judah ended up falling asleep (ah!), we stopped in to see Paul again, and he walked us down to the garage to see us off. Then Judah slept for another hour when we got home, and I actually napped for a bit, too! And Charlie didn't complain, because I let her watch a few cartoons on the computer while I dozed. Score.

I did actually really enjoy my day. And I know the kids did, too. I know that I just need to chill and go with the flow, which is what I'm trying to do. Later this afternoon, after my few very short moments of quiet, I threw the kids outside to burn off the last of their energy while I cooked dinner. I was actually skyping with my mom and sister and asked mom, "When does a mom get to relax? When will this get easier?" Her reply: "I'm still waiting."