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Evie and the Grand Conspiracy

The jig is up everybody. Evie knows. I mean she knows. She’s now a part of the Grand Conspiracy, if you catch my drift. Ah, that wonderful, magical moment as a child where you find out that everything your parents ever told you is a lie.

Being that Evie is a rather bright girl, I always thought she’d catch on a little sooner. But Evie’s kind of funny like that. She seems to want to hold on to her childhood with both hands, and goes out of her way to stay naive about things (I endorse this attitude wholeheartedly!). So I think she’s maybe had an inkling for a long time, but intentionally didn’t think about it. I mean, this is Evie here: this wasn’t exactly beyond her reasoning skills.

Now, this is kind of a strange time of year for this sort of revelation to come about. However, you’ll recall that Evie recently participated in a summer rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I think it’s somewhat impossible to get a bunch of first grade-age kids together and have them contemplate Santa without *someone* spilling the beans. From what Evie said, it sounds like one of the student teachers even confirmed it for them. EVEN STILL she held on to the magic for a couple more weeks, just as long as she could.

She has also been losing teeth like it’s going out of style, and we could tell she was testing us. We’d say something like, “Well, if your tooth falls out while you are at Grandma’s, the Tooth Fairy might not be able to find you,” and she’d give us this piercing, calculating look (all the better, we thought, when that dollar we slipped Grandma shows up under her pillow!).

Finally she broke down and asked us, and I have to say, it broke my heart to tell her. She’s just such an imaginative girl, and *so sure* that magic and fairies and Santa are a real thing that can really happen. How badly I want her to stay that way forever! I was just worried that this news would break her, and it’d be all cigarettes, haunted eyes, and jaded ennui from here on out.

She took the whole thing pretty well. For days, you could just see her little mind churning on the subject, walking through the implications. As each new aspect struck her, she kept coming back to us and asking for further clarifications. (“So you wrap all the presents?”,”So you eat the cookies and milk?”,”What about the Easter bunny?”, “That’s why you want us to go to sleep!”) She seemed to have a burning need to let everybody know that she was in on the secret.

She especially felt the burning need to let her little brother know the secret. We tried to explain to her about the Grand Conspiracy, and how most everyone in the country helps keep this secret from little kids (which is actually really weird when you think about it). We told her that she’s part of the Grand Conspiracy now, and it’s her duty to make sure that Ollie believes. It was touch and go for a bit (there was a lot of exaggerated, “I’m going to try to stay up to see the Tooth Fairy tonight, amiright Oliver???”), but she seems to have settled into it a little bit now.

She also seemed to think that, having been so initiated, she would immediately get to participate. (“Do I get to stay up and put the presents under the tree?”, “So, should I just give you the tooth and you give me the money?”, “Do I get to hide the eggs this year?”,”Do I get to eat the cookie this year?”) To each question we would reply, “Nothing changes. Everything stays the same.” That only seemed to sink in until the next question.

At least she has a good four months to come to grips with everything. I have a feeling she’ll eventually break and spill the beans to Ollie — I doubt little brothers ever make it quite so long as older sisters — but for now she seems to be feeling quite grown up about the whole thing, and enjoying being in the “know”.

Quote Monday is a sweetheart

Sara: “Ollie, would you like to take any classes, besides ballet?”
Ollie: “I would like to take a reading class.”

Awww! That boy just melts my heart.

Ollie: “Mama, I like the way you smell. Under your neck smells like milk.”

Awww! That boy…no actually, that’s kind of unappealing.

Sara: “Ollie, can we try to spell some more things? How about ‘Gus’? What goes Guh-Guh-Guh?”
Ollie: “T-H-E”

Who said he needs a reading class?

Me: “And what sound does a horse make?”
Ollie: “Giddyup?”

Future Capitolist

We just taught Evie how to play Monopoly.

Words cannot describe how badly she crushed Sara and I. Rout does not even begin to describe it.

Gus

Ollie’s classroom has a rabbit named Gus, and for two weeks over the summer, Gus came to live with us.

feeding rabbit

I had a rabbit as a pet when I was a kid. He was named Thumper, as all rabbits were in those days, and I remember him vaguely fondly. However, Thumper was an outside rabbit, and thus of limited ability to interact with. Gus, on the other hand, is an inside rabbit.black rabbit

Did you know rabbits can be potty trained?

It turns out that Gus is litter trained, making him a pretty easy going pet. He goes in his cage at night, and in the morning you just open it up and let him hop around. He kind of does whatever he wants, which is mostly hop up and down the hallway and hide behind the couch. When he’s hungry or has to go to the bathroom, he goes and does his thing. No need to walk him or groom him or feed him dead mice, or whatever else you do with your pets.

We were a little worried at first about him chewing on cords, since we had heard from some of the other parents that he liked to do that. However, after a few days we kind of just let him have free run of the house, and he didn’t cause any trouble. Maybe it’s because Gus is very old, or maybe it’s because Gus is used to dealing with a classroom full of 3 year olds, or maybe it’s just because rabbits are awesome, but Gus never caused any trouble at all.

Rabbits are kind of the perfect pet. They’re friendly, they play games (mostly just having you stand things up so he can knock them down repeatedly), you can pet them, they don’t make much of a mess, they kind of take care of themselves, they DON’T MEOW OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR AT 5 A.M., and they basically just eat your compost.

feeding rabbit carrots

We did buy him some things (it turns out rabbits really do love carrots), but we also just grabbed a little of whatever we found in the garden: parsley, basil, raspberry leaves, small tomatoes, and kale. Gus loves kale.

We weren’t exactly sure how Nala would handle Gus. From what we read online, rabbits usually terrorize cats, not the other way around. True to form, Gus basically couldn’t care less about Nala. He just ignored her and did what he did.

Nala on the other hand was NOT very happy about Gus being here. She basically kept him under constant surveillance. At first she would hiss and slap him whenever he came by, but eventually she (more or less) got over that. Still, she never quite got used to him. At night she usually goes into Ollie’s room to wait for us to come in and read the story, but with Gus in there she wouldn’t set foot in the room, even if Gus was in his cage.

Maybe it’s because she realized that a friendly rabbit is a vastly superior pet, leaving her days numbered.

Ollie in cage

1st day of school!

It’s finally that time of year again: back to school time!

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Is it me, or did he age about 5 years this summer?

With all of the summer camps and various scheduling house of cards we had going over the summer, I am so relieved to be getting back onto a regular schedule again. On one hand, it feels like we did nothing this summer; on the other hand it seems like we were constantly busy.

Oliver is in a “looping” class, which means he has the same teachers and class again this year. They pretty much picked right up where they left off, almost like the summer didn’t happen. Ollie was VERY happy to be back at school again. I think he didn’t realize how much he missed it until he didn’t have it anymore.

And can you believe, Evie is finally a first grader?

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Evie is essentially the opposite case of Oliver: new teacher and almost completely new children (with the exception of her two very best friends). I think she was as excited to start school as she is about Christmas morning. She could hardly sleep for days.

I haven’t had much of a chance to get to know her teacher or the other parents but, as usual, Evie thrives in these situations. She’s already making some new friends and she loves learning new routines. I’m sure she’s going to have another great year.

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Quote Monday (as usual) has disgusting bodily functions

Me: “Talking about eating boogies make me feel sick to my tummy.”
Ollie: “Did you ever eat a boogie and think it was yucky?”
Me: “Yes.”
Ollie: “Well, you should try the boogies from my nose.”

Ollie: “BUUUURP”
Ollie: “Now it smells like soup in here.”

Ollie: “I need a little pillow so I can lay my head on it while I’m eating.”

Amanda: “I never even noticed that Nathan was left handed, because he’s really nice about it.”

Sara: “…but you don’t need to buy anything to celebrate Halloween, or Thanksgiving, or Christmas.”
Evie: “Yeah, that’s right! All you need to celebrate Christmas is a chainsaw!”

O_o

 

Farmer’s Market Cherry Pie

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

We were just strolling through the farmer’s market, and this just kind of happened. We got almost all of the ingredients at the market; obviously the sweet cherries, but also the ice cream, and even the flour! It’s hard to beat pie, but it’s nearly impossible to beat homemade farmer’s market pie.

The Journey:

You know who makes a good cherry pitter? A 4 year old.

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Cherry pie used to be my all time favorite pie. Now I’d probably say apple, but cherry pie still ranks up there. And you don’t get it nearly as often as apple.

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I love our little farmer’s market. It’s not the biggest market, but it has everything you need (and it’s certainly the closest market). A couple of fruit and vegetable stands, chef demos, cheese, meat, eggs, bread, (flour!), crepes, and flowers. What more could you ask for? It’s so nice to see all the familiar faces, both the vendors who have been coming every week for years, and the neighbors you run into when you’re there.

We go every possible weekend that we can, and regret every weekend we can’t make.

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The Verdict:

I know it’s almost a cliched debate at this point, but for my money you CAN NOT BEAT warm pie with vanilla ice cream. Don’t give me any of that cake nonsense. I mean, sure, cake is delicious. But moist, delicious, fruity, warm pie, with ice cream melting in your mouth?

Heaven.

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The Recipe:

Whole Wheat Crust recipe from Whole Foods. I did get both a full bottom and top out of this recipe.

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons very cold butter
  1. Mix flour with salt in food processor.
  2. Add cold butter and pulse in food processor.
  3. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until dough forms into a ball. (It actually took me 3 1/2 tablespoons)
  4. Gather up and pat into a disc. Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes before rolling out.
  5. When ready to use, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 10-inch circle. (It was very crumbly at first; I had to work it with my hands for a bit until I could roll it.)
  6. Gently fold into quarters using a little flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place dough in pie plate and carefully unfold, fitting loosely and then pressing into place. Trim the edges and crimp for a decorative crust.

Pie filling recipe sort of derived from Food in Jars, but using directions from the Food Network.

  • 4 cups (1 quart) pitted sour cherries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place cherries in medium saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot cherries and mix well.
  4. Add the almond extract, if desired, and mix.
  5. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. (~10 minutes maybe?)
  6. Remove from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.
  7. Prepare your crust. Divide in half. Roll out each piece large enough to fit into an 8 to 9-inch pan. Pour cooled cherry mixture into the crust. Place top crust on and crimp edges with a fork. Make a slit in the middle of the crust for steam to escape.
  8. Sprinkle with sugar.
  9. Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
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