Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Before the government shut down, Mason and I ventured to the Museum of Natural History's Butterfly Pavilion, a fee-based, interactive experience with live butterflies. Now you all know that I detest paying admission fees in a city where myriad free activities abound, so we went on a Tuesday, when admission is free.

And let me tell you, for a free outing, it was totally worth it! But I'm glad we didn't pay for it. The pavilion was much smaller than I expected and we didn't stay long as the big, colorful butterflies swarming around our heads (and even landing on some people) slightly freaked Mason out. This is the closest he would get to a butterfly:

The range of beautiful plants was impressive and some of the butterflies were huge! I couldn't believe how friendly they were. I will go back again, as long as it's on a Tuesday!

Have you been to this exhibit? What did you think?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

little friends

Mason's been calling several of his friends by name for a few months now, but it's only been in the last month or so that he's started saying the word "friend", quickly followed by the word "fun".

I love seeing him with his little friends and watching them discover the world and each other. This love is quickly turning me into the type of mom who hosts her child's friends a good bit. I don't mind the mess or the chaos. I like getting to know the people my boy asks to spend time with.

Mason's in a new weekly play group with four other children whose birthdays all fall within two months of his. The group meets one morning a week and the hosting duties rotate among the five members' mommies. That means that one morning every five weeks I will host five two-year-olds in my house, but on the other four weeks, I have three hours of freedom! What on earth will I do with myself?

Last year's play group was probably more fun for me than Mason, as I enjoyed the regular weekly time hanging out with women I might not otherwise would have. But these kids are growing up. They don't need all the mommies at play group anymore. And a portion of a morning "off" a week will be a treat, although I'll probably spend it getting groceries. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

deep wa-wa

A month after swimming pool season has officially ended, and Mason still asks to "go deep wa-wa" nearly every day. I need to find a good indoor pool nearby to keep him pacified and interested in the water. I don't want to lose the comfort he's developed in the water this summer!

As a former lifeguard who's given plenty of swimming lessons, I am trying to get Mason as comfortable in the water as early in his life as possible. I remember several parents faithfully paying me each week when their children were too scared to even dip a toe in the water let alone get their faces wet. These kids were obviously not ready for lessons.

Brad and I began taking Mason underwater last July, when he was about nine months old. We made it a ritual to submerge ourselves as a family at least once during every visit to the pool. Initially shocked, Mason never coughed or cried. This past summer, we maintained the ritual, also believing it important that Mason see his parents go underwater regularly. This summer's been fun as I've pulled out some of my old pool tricks to keep Mason entertained (hand stands, flips under water, front dives, back dives, etc.) while also demonstrating that I am not afraid of the water. I can certainly tell that it's been 20 years since I used to do these (and other) tricks regularly!

In addition to dunking Mason, this summer we also tried to teach him to blow bubbles. He hasn't mastered bubble blowing, but near the end of the summer, he would put his face in the water when asked. (We'd say, "Mommy's turn, Daddy's turn, May's turn!") Daily pool exposure during our week at the beach was a real turning point. He began the week jumping into the water only if holding tightly to our fingers. By the end of the week, he was running, jumping, and plummeting underwater all on own.

I'm determined to do as much as I can to help Mason learn to swim before I pay someone else to do it. When did your child begin swimming lessons/learn to swim? What's been your experience?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

hip kitchen

My kitchen has a new addition.

Mason's birthday present of a play kitchen with (faux) stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and cherry wood cabinets looks more hip than anything in my kitchen!

On a side note, this lovely little kitchen took Brad and me nearly five hours to put together---it had over 150 parts. We were up until midnight the night before his birthday scrambling to finish it. Thankfully, we succeeded and were rewarded with Mason's joyful face the next morning when he saw it. Lesson learned, though--don't wait until the last minute to put together toys!

What's the most complicated toy you have put together? How long did it take you?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

choo choo cake

Once upon a time in my former professional life, I did a substantial amount of programming for college students. Everything from invitations to t-shirts to food to favors matched the theme. I both delighted in and obsessed over every detail, often challenging myself to trump my level of creativity from the previous year. At that time, there was no doubt in my mind that my future child would have the cutest and best planned birthday parties ever.

Maybe those years burned me out on party planning. For each of Mason's birthdays, I've tried to get into throwing a humdinger of a themed, matchy matchy party, but I've been surprised at and even discouraged by my reluctance. I admire other children's cutesy parties, but I usually leave them longing to err on the side of simplicity for my boy. Why is that?

For Mason's first birthday, I put substantial work into creating a monthly picture banner, which I've saved and we will treasure forever. For both birthdays, I've made and decorated his cake, a tradition I hope to continue. His cake last year was nothing fancy--just a little smash cake. But this year, I let him choose between two of his obsessions: trains and airplanes. Here is what we came up with:

This choo choo cake recipe was amazingly easy, even for a non-baker and non-decorator like me. And it was a huge hit with the birthday boy. A win on all counts!

(Mason entertained his guests by shouting, "Hurray, choo choo cake!" over and over when I snapped the picture above.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

10th and 3rd

While at the National Book Festival on Saturday, I realized that this is my 10th consecutive year of attendance, and Mason's 3rd. How many two-year-olds can say that they've been to three National Book Festivals? I'd bet my savings account that he was the youngest person in attendance on Saturday who has been to all three festivals of his life, unless there's a child who was born between September 18-23, 2011 (after Mason was born but before the book festival began in 2011) who can boast the same attendance.

I love fun facts like that.

And I love that Mason has attended this event every year of his life thus far.

Unlike last year, my boy was unafraid of the characters and marched right up to them to say hello.

Brad, Mason, and I spent the morning visiting characters and playing games in the PBS KIDS tent, and then the boys went home to nap and watch football while I relived book festival life pre-Mason and bounced among the pavilions, soaking up authors' stories, comments, and wisdom for the rest of the day. It's been three years since I've spent all day at this event, and boy was I wiped out on Saturday night. But it was a good kind of tired. Waiting around all afternoon to hear Veronica Roth at 4 PM was worth it, although her presentation was probably the most crowded I've ever seen--the pouring down rain failed to deter her fans. Roth just turned 25 years old, but I'd swear she's going on 40. As expected, she was tight-lipped about what's to come in the third and final installment of her Divergent series, but I did learn that the point of view of this novel switches back and forth between the two main characters. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I'm trying to keep an open mind.

Did you attend the National Book Festival? What were your highlights?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

National Book Festival

With this year's National Book Festival occurring only four days after Mason's birthday, I've barely had time to think about which authors I'd love to see this year other than Veronica Roth at 4 PM on Saturday. But let's face it--with my two-year-old in tow, how many authors could I possibly see anyway? Instead, I'll be standing in line with Mason to visit with characters from shows on PBS KIDS. And Mason's pure joy at meeting Curious George or Super Why will make me love every minute of it.

Here's the schedule. Which authors are you most excited about?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

a secret to creamy hummus

Hummus is one of those snacks that I most enjoy when it's homemade, but my secret to creamy hummus adds a good 20 minutes to an easy five-minute recipe. I dislike doing it, but I peel the garbanzo beans. And peeling an entire can of them, with no interruptions, usually takes me 20 minutes.

Last year I taught my three- and four-year-old Cooking Thyme students how to peel garbanzo beans, so I am hopeful that in another year or so, I'll put another little person I know to work when it's hummus-making time.

What's your secret to creamy hummus?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

choo choos

A few weeks ago, we discovered a gem only a few blocks from our home--an easily accessible gargantuan platform behind a nondescript office building that overlooks the train yard at Union Station. We come and go as the trains come and go. Even in between rush hours, there's still plenty of activity to keep a little train lover entertained.

This block-long, often deserted platform is Mason's happy place. He wakes up asking to see the choo choos and goes to sleep at night talking about them. He's probably been there 10 times over the last three weeks. Now we just need to ride a train! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

a relentless coach

Thanks to the generosity of five sweet friends, I have the most awesome jogging stroller, yet I haven't taken Mason out for a run in well over a year. (We use the stroller nearly every day, though, for walks and getting around our neighborhood.) One morning recently when Brad left early, I decided that my big boy was ready for a run. I got Mason up, changed his diaper, threw his pajama-clad bottom and some breakfast into the stroller, and off we went.

Yes, I was pushing more weight, but the run was so much more fun now that Mason's talking. He narrated our 30-minute excursion:
"Mommy, I see moon!"
"Two doggies!"
"Big trucks!"
"Two trucks!"
"Two busses!"
"Excuse me, car."
"Excuse me, doggie."
"More milk."
"Bless you, May!" (after he sneezed)

And my personal favorite, from my unsympathetic, relentless coach when we would stop for traffic or slow down the slightest bit:
"Go Mommy!"
"Run Mommy! Run Mommy! Run Mommy!" (chanting)

Mason's chattering was entertaining and his badgering kept me going. Maybe I need to take him on runs with me more often.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

topsail island

I love beach vacations, but I also appreciate variety in my beaches, so we checked out a new place this year: Topsail Island.

How I love North Carolina beaches! The dunes. The lack of commercialism. The raw beauty of undeveloped land. Houses and condos face the ocean, not boardwalks or touristy shops.

Finding lodging for only three people is always a bit of a challenge. We don't need the space or expense of a large beach house. Condos that meet my requirements (right on the ocean with a good view and a swimming pool) aren't plentiful. But I found a fantastic two-bedroom condo on the top floor of the St. Regis complex on the north end of the island. It was perfect--nicer than where we stayed last summer in Duck, and cheaper!

Others warned me that Topsail Island, especially the northern part where we stayed, is very, very remote. And they weren't kidding! No grocery store, coffee shop, or restaurants were anywhere near us. The St. Regis had a bar that served typical bar food and pizza, which we enjoyed on the night we arrived and the night before we departed. Thankfully, we had the best weather we've ever had on any beach trip and had little desire to leave the ocean and pool. We cooked dinners on the charcoal grills that were provided on three nights, and drove about twenty minutes to Surf City three times (once for lunch and twice for dinner) to eat at some of the island's most notorious restaurants: Daddy Mac's, The Bistro at Just Baked, and Island Delights. The latter was a 1950s diner with old school rides for $.25, like the boat below.

We left our house at 5 AM and made the drive in 6.5 hours.

I hate that Mason's growing up so fast, but it was SO HELPFUL that he could walk himself to the beach this year! And he climbed every step and made each trek himself--I don't think we carried him once. (How could we? Our arms were full of beach stuff! How did we ever get to the beach last year with a baby in our arms?!)

We missed the quaintness of Duck, and especially Duck Donuts, but overall Topsail Island was a hit and we would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


We went to Larriland Farm last Saturday on opening day of apple season specifically to pick my favorite apples, Honeycrisp!

The Honeycrisp season doesn't last long, so don't delay if you're as crazy about these apples as I am.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

first year at home

The anniversary of my last day of full-time employment outside the home has passed. I can hardly believe I've been an official SAHM for a year. Here are several things I've learned this past year.

1. I am a more patient mother than I ever thought I'd be.
I still consider myself an impatient person with most aspects of life, but with Mason? The Lord showers me with patience every day. The whining, the pestering, the nagging, the disobedience, the tantrums, the hundreds of other little things toddlers do (or won't do) that can drive one mad, not to mention the general lack of productivity compared to my life before parenthood--well, I rarely lose my crap with any of this. Maybe I'm just used to it now so it doesn't bother me.

2. I am a more creative mother than I ever thought I'd be.
On the fly, I've come up with all kinds of tactics to help days with my little guy feel more peaceful. No, I'm not creative in the sense that I come up with tons of crafts or neat projects (see #3), but I believe I am creative in  how I engage Mason, especially when I'm trying to avoid triggering one of his tantrums or when I'm encouraging him to eat something he isn't crazy about.

3. I am a SAHM who is rarely at home.
I err on the side of taking Mason on adventures rather than staying home and playing or crafting. Perhaps this will change as he gets older and can sit still for longer to color or create something. But for now, we both enjoy tearing up the town and experiencing all that DC has to offer. I am incredibly thankful to live in a quaint, walkable city neighborhood with lots of parks and things to do. And you can't beat free swimming pools, museums, the zoo, and all the neat activities and exhibits that come through DC.

4. I still shower, get dressed (in something besides yoga pants), and put on make up each day.
I can count on one hand the number of days this past year that I haven't showered, put on make up, or gotten dressed, and most of those days were when someone was sick. Why, you ask? See #3. I see people (besides my son) every day. Plus, I just feel better about myself when wearing real pants and some make up.

5. Personal tasks have taken a back seat.
Until staying home with my toddler, I never realized how many personal tasks/errands I completed on my commute to/from work, over my lunch hour, or, to be honest, at work after I'd finished my real work for the day. I used to stay on top of Facebook and the hundred or so blogs in my feed reader each day. Now? HA! A couple times a week, I'll catch up on my favorite blogs, which are mostly those written by friends, but sadly, many of the rest are routinely checked "mark as read" just to clear them out of my reader. It takes incredible energy and persistence to post somewhat regularly here, but even this blog isn't what it used to be. I keep it up because I love writing and keeping track of what we're up to. But my content used to go much deeper. This blog has been a wonderful place for me to process all sorts of issues--family struggles, infertility, pregnancy losses, etc. I certainly still struggle in those ways and others--I just don't have time now to really reflect on let alone write about them coherently. Maybe one day I will. But for the foreseeable future, you'll still be reading about my gardening efforts and outings with Mason.:)

6. I truly savor these days, even the challenging ones.
My worst day at home with Mason still trumps my best day at work outside the home away from him. I love this season of focusing on my family and I do not regret for one minute any of the financial, career, and personal sacrifices it requires. I am beyond blessed, and so thankful for how God provides for our family.

Friday, August 23, 2013

epic freezer cooking day

I wish I had taken a picture of what went down in my kitchen this past Tuesday.

A couple weeks ago, my friend Sunshine suggested we get together for a freezer cooking day. We consulted the August traditional menu from Once a Month Meals and here's what happened:

  • We each selected three dinner recipes and were responsible for buying double the ingredients for each recipe (so we would each end up with six dinners).
  • We met at my house and cooked pretty much for five hours straight.
  • Keep in mind that we had four small children underfoot: a three-year-old, a nearly two-year-old, and eight-month-old twins!
  • The kids were, amazingly, troopers. The twins took two naps at my house and Mason got his nap in. 
  • Some of the recipes made such large portions that we each got more than one meal out of it. 
  • When all was said and done, we each ended up with about nine entrees. Most of mine went into my freezer and I can't wait to pull them out during busy weeks! Granted, I still have to throw together sides and/or a salad, but still--the entree is assembled and ready. Hallelujah!
Yes, my first freezer cooking day was chaotic, but what an enjoyable way to pass a day with a friend. Had I taken on this endeavor by myself, it really would have felt like work, but it honestly didn't feel that way with good company. Once my family eats these meals, I'm ready for another round!

Have you ever had an epic freezer cooking day? What did you think? Do you do it regularly? 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

wild about water

What is your preferred mealtime beverage, Gentle Readers? Iced tea or lemonade? Soft drinks or Kool-Aid? Except for an occasional alcoholic beverage with dinner, I drink Crystal Light. But that's only because Brad makes the Crystal Light and sets a glass in front of me. On nights when he's gone, I find myself sipping water from my trusty pink Nalgene bottle, which is never far from my side all day long.

It's not that I dislike soft drinks or tea, but I haven't drank either one enough to get into them. I'm not a coffee drinker and too much orange juice in the morning gives me a stomach ache, so I usually avoid it altogether. I abhor milk. I don't crave Crystal Light, so why do I drink it when water's clearly the better choice?

This realization brought about a new experiment. As of this past Sunday, I am only drinking water with meals (with the exception of an occasional glass of wine) until I crave something else.  I am curious about whether I will eventually long for a beverage with more taste and if so, how long water will suffice. Brad thinks I'm weird for being content with water all day long and for every meal. I tell him I'm lucky--how often is one completely satisfied with the healthiest choice? I certainly don't prefer salad over pizza. (I wish I did!)

I am wild about water. Are you?

Monday, August 19, 2013

construction all around

Mason has been blessed with some free entertainment this summer, right from our front window. The elementary school across the street from us has undergone a complete renovation.

view of a cement mixer from our front window

The project supposedly ends tomorrow as school begins next week. These workers have literally been working around the clock to finish on time.

an endless parade of trucks

I will miss this construction project. It's provided endless fascination for my son. Surprisingly, we have not been at all inconvenienced by the equipment or noise. The school's facelift freshens up our block. And a school that feels "new" will be such a blessing to the students and staff, and perhaps one day to Mason if he attends there. Yes, this summer of watching this project unfold has been a win.

Although most days I could do without the hammering next door at Bea's house during Mason's nap time, that renovation will be worth our short term inconveniences. And the huge demolition that will soon occur to the DC government buildings right behind our home will surely provide some interesting equipment and activity for Mason to watch. We are surrounded by construction, but thankfully, at least one member of my household truly enjoys and appreciates it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

an unexpected vase

Remember my recent post about the different types of containers I use to provide meals to others? Here is my recent creation. Several weeks ago, I delivered a baby meal to a friend on her birthday. At the last minute, I included some of my knockout roses as an extra treat for her special day, but I didn't have a spare vase to pass along. So what did I use to hold the flowers?

An empty (and cleaned) applesauce jar!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I'm a sucker for any type of interesting outing, especially if it's free. I am not one of those stay-at-home moms who enjoys or excels in doing craft projects with my child, but my boy and I--we go places! I am a stay-at-home mom who is rarely home.

Luckily for us, this outing didn't require us to travel too far. We arrived home from vacation just in time to catch the last day of the Eco-Goats grazing at Congressional Cemetery.

I had never heard of this environmental approach before, but I love it! More than 50 goats grazed the perimeter of the cemetery 24 hours a day for six days, eliminating invasive species while fertilizing the ground. These goats eat anything--vines, poison ivy, ground cover, debris--and their presence supposedly eliminates the need for harmful herbicides.

There were big goats, small goats, and even goats that climb trees! We also learned that goats are generally friendly animals with unique personalities. The goat herder said that spending time with a herd of goats was like spending time in a high school--the goats have cliques and tiffs, just like people do!

Mason loved visiting the goats. And I loved my first visit to Congressional Cemetery.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Blue lives, for now

About six weeks ago, after I dug up and split Blue into three bushes, I thought I had failed. But alas, guess what I've spotted on all three bushes?


These small, bright green leaves are a promising sign, Gentle Readers. Blue is not completely dead. Not yet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

28-month wait

In April of 2011, when I was pregnant with Mason, I paid close to $1,000 in daycare wait list fees. The person in charge of most of the 8-10 places where we applied guessed there would be a 12, or possibly an 18, month wait before a position for him opened. There was no spot for him at any of these facilities when I returned to work in January of 2012, so we made do with another arrangement.

In April of 2012, when renewal fees for most of those wait lists were due, Brad and I had already made the decision for me to quit my full-time job, so we didn't pay them. Imagine my surprise when last Friday, a woman from the coveted Little Scholars Program at the Library of Congress emailed Brad and me saying that a spot for Mason had opened up: 28 months later and with two years of not paying the renewal fee for the application.

What a relief to say, "No, we no longer need the spot. No, we don't need any time to think about it, but thank you for offering to give us until Monday." And what a blessing to pass this spot on--I hope we made some other family's weekend.

Finding good childcare in this busy city is insane. For those of you on wait lists, have hope because it can work out eventually. But you might want to ask if those renewal fees are really necessary before you pay them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

blooming off season?

I found a surprise in one of my flower beds on Friday night.

My rhododendron is blooming! Look at that blossom.

Then I noticed my two other rhododendrons have buds . . . right in time for me to leave on vacation for a week and miss most of the bloom!

Aren't rhododendrons supposed to be spring bloomers?

Friday, August 2, 2013

beach bound

Photo credit: www.topsailbeach.com
We're spending the next week at a new beach this year. Topsail, here we come!

The week prior to vacation is the craziest of my summer. Making lists, doing laundry, cleaning the house, going to the library to check out books and DVDs, running to Target to stock up on necessities, and packing everything under the sun, all while trying to keep an active toddler engaged, entertained, and on his schedule--it's enough to make me question, "Is taking a vacation worth it?"

Yes, I believe it is. And the first glimpse of the blue waves and smell of the salty air will solidify my decision.

Topsail is supposedly even more remote than Duck, but I'd love to run into a Dr. Blondie reader like I did last year. I know the chances are slim, but let me know if you'll be at Topsail next week!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

my may

Mason has been saying his name for months, but he outright refuses to say the last syllable. He says plenty of multi-syllable words and even brief three or four word sentences and phrases. But when Wyatt of Super Why (Mason's only and favorite show) says, "Say your name" at the beginning of every episode, Mason turns to me with a beatific grin, points to himself, and exclaims, "May!" and no amount of coaxing can get him to add the "son".

I find this situation ironic. Before my ongoing trials of infertility and pregnancy losses, I always thought I'd have a May baby. I wanted a May baby, for no other reason than May is one of my favorite months. Well, years of heartache have taught me that I am not one of those women who can decide when her children will be born. Instead of giving me that May baby I always thought I'd have, the Lord gave me a September baby, who calls himself May.

The definition has changed, but in a sense, I still got my May baby.

Monday, July 29, 2013

berry picking

Is there a better seasonal activity for a toddler that benefits the whole family than berry picking?

We ventured to Butler's Orchard on Saturday to catch the end of blueberry season and pick blackberries. What fun! And Mason was actually super helpful! Although he ate his way through the blueberry patch, some of the berries he picked ended up in his bucket. We fared better with his help in the blackberry patch (although these berries were harder for him to pull from the bush, so he didn't get quite as many)--they were too tart for his taste, so we yielded nearly 100% in the bucket from his picking.

This was our first time at Butler's Orchard and it was fabulous. We rode on a trailer pulled by a tractor to the blueberry patch, much to Mason's delight. There were all kinds of free, fun activities for him, including these giant slides that we slid down using burlap sacks.

And the best part of all outings involving berry picking? The warm cobbler with vanilla ice cream that evening. As my friend, who engaged in a similar outing with her family recently, said, "I think all berry picking should end in cobbler. Yum."

I concur!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

creative container gardening

I walked past a home only a few blocks away from mine and saw the most adorable container garden in the front. The vintage wooden wine boxes sprouting herbs and vegetables carefully arranged on a wooden pallet caught my eye.

Then I noticed the tomato growing out of a cinder block!

And then, and perhaps my favorite container of all, I noticed that the gardener had split a globe into two pieces and used them to hold herbs. You can see one half of the globe on the right side of the photo below. The other half is behind the wooden pallet.

This garden is neat and tidy and perfectly arranged with a creative use of containers and stands. It brings me joy just to look at it!

What are the most creative garden containers you've used or seen? In my hometown (which is Small Town, USA), it is not at all unusual to see discarded toilets with flowers growing from the bowl and tank adorning front yards. (And then of course that yard gets selected as the "yard of the week" in the small town newspaper, with the toilet's picture right on the front page. I promise I am NOT kidding.) I think I prefer the globe and the cinder block.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

in bloom

Finally, the stinky plant at the U.S. Botanic Garden has bloomed!

Mason and I strolled to see the plant yesterday morning. But it didn't stink at all, which I found a little disappointing. (I overhead someone saying that the fumes are worst around midnight. And there were mobs of people there, so perhaps the plant's scent was overpowered by the crowds.)

Mason was bored. He kept signing "all done" and saying "Go!" He had no idea what a huge deal it is to see this plant in bloom!

However, one day, when Mason is older and he's fallen in love with this book, I'll pull out these pictures and tell him the story of how we waited for days and then went in search of the big stink, when he was almost two.

Monday, July 22, 2013

in the kitchen

I'm making and delivering meals this week for four families with new babies. Yes, four--two today and two on Thursday. Several friends delivered babies around the same time and well, they need to eat, so I'll spend a little extra time in the kitchen this week.

The two families today (plus me, Brad, and Mason) will enjoy my friend's scrumptious taco lasagna with all the fixings, salad, fruit, and dessert. Thursday's families (plus me, Brad, and Mason) will eat Once a Month Mom's chicken penne rustica (with some veggies mixed in), salad, bread, and dessert. Tripling each recipe must be easier than making an entirely different meal for each family, right?

I've learned a few things over the years about making and delivering meals for families who need them. I always provide food in containers that I don't need back. The last thing I want to do is give a busy new mom yet another task by washing my dishes and finding the time to return them to me (let alone remembering to do it). I used to spend a small fortune on Gladware, but then I realized that it's totally unnecessary! If I simply pay attention to what's around me, I have plenty of reusable/disposable containers from the food that Brad, Mason, and I consume.

Here are some of the containers I'm using for the two recipients of Monday's dinner.

  • Two foil pans for the taco lasagna (Yes, I bought these at some point, but these pans have been used several times for my own freezer cooking.)
  • Several take-out containers and lunch meat containers to hold salads and the chopped tomatoes and avacados for the taco lasagna
  • Two small glass jars (that formerly held sun-dried tomatoes) for the salad dressing
  • Yogurt containers to hold sliced, fresh fruit
I still need to find something to hold dessert, which will be, Lord willing, cheesecake, but I'm sure I can find something. I have a large plastic container that once held a rotisserie chicken from Costco--I think it's tall enough to hold 4-6 slices of cheesecake without squashing them.

I've found that yogurt containers are versatile and I can stuff all sorts of food in them: soup, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, rice, fruit. etc. I also save lids from big boxes of paper (or at least, I used to when I worked in an office). Box lids help to safely transport hot dishes (like taco lasagna) that I can't stuff into a bag. 

What are your tricks when providing meals for others? Which food containers are your favorite to reuse? 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

palisades park

I have a new favorite DC gem: Palisades Park, a combination play/spray ground, with a water slide!

Mason seriously had the time of his life on that water slide. I could barely pull him away to go home.

The playground has a Native American theme, with all sorts of structures to go in and climb on.

Of course, like EVERY playground we've been to, the equipment has some openings very high up that could be dangerous for toddlers. Mason understands not to go near the holes, but I worry that too many big kids will be rowdy up there around him and accidentally knock him down or worse, off!

This fenced in play area also includes swings, decent shade, and a parking lot--yes, easy parking in the city!

If I hadn't seen it myself, I would think that this park was too good to be true. But it's real, I promise!