24 July 2015

Christmas in July Tea Party!

A couple months ago, I got an email about Lupicia's Christmas Teas and went a little crazy. They arrived soon thereafter---glistening tea tins stacked in my closet like treasure. I couldn't get them out of my mind. Is there any possible way to justify breaking open Christmas teas in the summer? I mused. And just like that: CHRISTMAS IN JULY TEA PARTY!! 
Sara Michelle, Kristin, Megan and Marci---kids in tow---joined me the afternoon of the 24th (Christmas Eve!) to taste Carol and White Christmas teas, iced of course. Both are black teas. Carol has hints of strawberry, vanilla and rose; it paired nicely with raspberry macaroons and coconut-covered cashews. White Christmas smells like brown sugar and cookies; try it with the pistachio macaroons or sugar cookies. I brewed both teas with just a touch of sugar to bring out the flavors without overpowering them. White Christmas is best with a splash of milk. Both are nice with French Christmas carols jingling in the background. 
The kids were GREAT. Sometimes they all go nuts at tea time, which, honestly, is why we get together in the first place. It's too late and too early in the day to handle that on your own anymore. Today there was some typical pesky tattling and lack of sharing, but really spectacular fun overall! It's the spirit of Christmas! 
The kids devoured the cupcakes Megan brought, washed down with cups of "Snowman in July" [water]. I thought I was pretty funny putting a carrot and two blueberries in each pitcher. I also put slivers of carrot in each kid cup, which got classic horrified lip curls from Isaac and Madeline. 

Meanwhile, we enjoyed the caprese salad wreath Sara Michelle created. My star-shaped sugar cookies came out of the oven looking more like snowflakes, but they were delicious. And it was fun mixing the dough and cutting out shapes with Isaac earlier...until he inexplicably put his powdered sugar-covered hands in his hair and danced around. That was bizarre. I try not to ask Isaac things like, "Why would you do that?" because he's three---he rarely has any reason for doing anything other than, "I wanted to." But "STOP! WHY---?! WHAT---?! STOP!" slipped out anyway. Isaac blinked at me and rubbed his hands on his jammies instead. Sigh. 
Coincidentally, our Bible story tonight at bedtime was the angels appearing to the shepherds, and the shepherds running to see baby Jesus. We read a story out of the Jesus Storybook Bible each night, working our way through the Bible start to finish, and tonight's story just happened to fit into exactly what we'd been doing all day! I love that. The true meaning of Christmas...in July...! 

High Times in the Tidewater

Here's some other fun stuff we did this week! We went to the aquarium with Sara Michelle and Isla. 
We examined a Japanese woodblock print special exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art, followed by wraps from the Wisteria Cafe with Mary, Annika and Johanna. We are posing in front of places we've been. 
We jammed to the 80s cover band, the Delorians, at Zoo Grooves. Sara Michelle and I had the brilliant idea to walk over. Marci opted out, saying it was too dangerous. On our way back, a woman was shouting and trying to de-escalate a fist fight between drunk homeless men. So Marci was probably right. 
We went to the Portsmouth Childrens Museum one morning, and splashed at the botanical gardens one evening with Megan, Henry and Sylvia. We walked around the neighborhood at sunset. I bought Eloise a used dollhouse. I got a Costco membership. We watched some Baby Einstein. We bought books at the mall. Eloise woke us all up insanely early every day and is now displaying her sixth tooth! 

Thanks for reading this weekly round up post of our high times in the Tidewater region! 

23 July 2015

Farm Blah-x

Last week (above), we got a farm box bonanza: a breakfast box plus lots of extras. YUM. Breakfast and fruit box: my favorite! Rustic bread! Purple and cream peppers because that's interesting! Extra mixed variety squash! Yes! Yes! 

This week (below), heavy rains caused some last minute substitutions: STILL MORE POTATOES instead of broccoli, and travesty of travesties: corn instead of peaches. So this is the flip side of getting local, in-season produce I guess.

Imagine my surprise one day when I found out my friend Mary---who told me about farm boxes to begin with---no longer ordered one regularly. What?! "I plan my menus and the last minute substitutions were ruining it," she sensibly explained. "I don't have time right now." That made sense, but I don't really plan meals, so it didn't affect me as much. Until, week by week, my kitchen started looking like potatoe-palooza. 

I have lots of success feeding my kids peaches. I can eat broccoli. But I am at a loss for what to do with the stockpile of potatoes I'm aquiring. I can't eat four every week since February! Somebody help me! 

If this is my last entry, send somebody over to look for us squashed beneath a deadly pile of potatoes. They're everywhere....

21 July 2015

All Clear!

Over two hours at the hospital getting all sorts of annual EKGs and echocardiograms done on my little guy and the only time he freaked out was when they asked him to take his shoes off for height and weight. 

"You are doing a great job," I told Isaac between chats with multiple doctors toward the end. "You are having such a good attitude. I know this is boring, but you're doing a great job and I'm so proud of you." 
"Yeah but," Isaac said, unconvinced, "Yeah but, I wasn't having a good attitude at the beginning. I was freaking out a little bit." 
"Yeah, what was that about?" I asked. 
"I didn't want to take my shoes off," said the kid who didn't fuss at all about having to take his shirt off, get stick-ums stuck all over for the EKG, then get goo-ed up for the echo. 
"Well you don't have to take your shoes off anymore. We are almost done." 

The doctor came back in and Isaac told her all about his trains. 

I love my brave little guy!! Everything is looking good, and he's all set until next year's appointment! 


Chris was gone for our anniversary last month, but we celebrated early with dinner at Bubba's. Isaac saying 'Bubba's' is the cutest thing. Wait, maybe not cuter than Isaac pushing Eloise around in a tiny shopping cart. Isaac says a lot of cute things. Here are some examples: 
"Mom, your eyes are soooo pretty. Look at all those pretty flowers! You like these flowers? I pick them for you. I want to give you lots of flowers. I just love you." 
"Dad is a hero." 
"That's right. What makes Dad a hero?" 
"Dad is a hero because he goes on the boat and shoots missiles at bad guys and planes." 
"Uh, sure, if the planes are bad guys." 
"One time, when I was bigger, I went with Dad to shoot bad guys. We got the stomp rocket and shoot missiles and PPKKKRRRR! the bad guys." 
"That is a very good story. I'll tell dad." 
"Why doesn't Dad want to eat his clams?" (Isaac asked after seeing the top right photo here)

"I do love you, Mom." 
"Oh really? Because downstairs when you were mad at me you said you didn't." 
"...I love you NOW." 
"You like my pretty blue eyes? You like my freckles? I'm your big helper. I really strong a cuz I eat a lot of food."  

"Ready to go upstairs and read books?" 
"We can go upstairs and read books after our little date." (Eating blueberries at the table before bed). 

"You look sad! What's wrong?" 
"That song makes me sad and want to kiss you." 

19 July 2015

Kangaroos at the Zoo

I talk about the awesome Virginia Zoo a lot...because we come here a lot. We were here three out of four days last week. 

The Asia and Africa exhibits are really well done. But we often bypass the sad Australia exhibit. The path is fenced off like 10 feet back from the enclosure fence, with a row of crepe myrtles in between. The emus, kangaroos and wallabies were always on the far side of the area, so there wasn't a huge draw. UNTIL construction bagan on a pathway THROUGH THE EXHIBIT. 

"When will it open?" I've been asking whoever was around. For months. Finally, a date: it would open on the special evening opening for zoo members! 

I had flashbacks to our 2009 portcall to Perth, where Chris made friends with this guy: 
I didn't expect the kangaroos to be THAT friendly, of course (YET), but I put a bag of popcorn in my purse just in case. Wallabies hopped close to the path. Kangaroos lounged in the dirt. I forgot to look for the emus. The enclosure is now open (on weekends at least), rocketing the Australia exhibit into the lead of favorite sections of the zoo. Wait, after the TRAIN, our non-negotiable all time favorite. 
Evening at the zoo was fun. Usually it closes at 5pm, and the animals are fed. So that evening, the whole zoo reverberated with the lowing of the watusi cattle calling for their dinner. That alone changed the atmosphere quite a bit. 

Then the lions paced as close to the viewing bridge as I've ever seen them. The male started sniffing the female from behind, then caught up to her...if you catch my drift. "OOOOH," all the parents shoo-ed away the kids, but it was over as soon as it started. "That oughta make you feel better about me, eh?" said a guy to his wife. She walked off. Lots of entertainment at the zoo on member night! 
We love the zoo so much that we went back again the very next morning with NewPenn Compound. We fed the kids dippin dots for lunch. A zookeeper confirmed that the Virginia Zoo elephants have to be relocated because of some new law saying elephants need to be in larger herds. She tried to spin it as a positive thing, saying they're trading for a white rhino. SNORE. Huge loss. ...literally. (But not for at least a year, she said). 
Our third zoo visit in four days was with HANNAH! We were such buddies in college. It was over $1 margaritas one Monday that Hannah and I came up with a short list of suggestions for Chris to dress better. They I called him and asked him to join us. He loved the list. 

I think he still keeps it in his wallet, because he said he knew that meant I wanted to fall in love with him or something. It must have been true. The list was pretty basic: don't tuck t-shirts into jeans, let me help you buy a pair of jeans that actually fit (he'd worn a uniform for the past four years of college, so he just needed simple stuff). Shortly thereafter we went shopping together. "I think I just dressed the man of my dreams!" I said outside the fitting rooms. "I'LL TAKE IT ALL!" thought Chris. 

Anyway, Hannah drove the three hours down from Northern Virginia and stayed the night. It was so fun meeting her sweet boy (who, of course, liked the zoo train), seeing her adorable baby bump, and catching up on the past four years since her wedding. Weekends can be the worst, since everyone focuses on family time and we are left to our own devices. So Hannah's visit was especially well-timed and appreciated. Thanks for coming, Hannah! It was SO great to see you! 

17 July 2015

Butterfly House

With our crappy annual cardiology appointment behind us, the kids and I fluttered to the botanical gardens to tour the butterfly house! It's open from June until September, and is in the middle of the butterfly gardens. It's been HOT this summer, but last Thursday was cloudy and mild---perfect for strolling the winding pathways. 
Every time we come here I think, "we should come here more often." I bought an annual membership last August and I still have to go a few times to make it cost effective over just paying each time we come. I definately wanted to participate in the "Frame up" the garden is doing in conjunction with the Chrysler Museum of Art. Submitted photos get projected onto a screen at the museum: living art! My kids are totally works of art. 
We ate sandwiches, cheesesticks and applesauce, then continued on to the splash pad in the World of Wonders children's garden. THIS is exactly what I pictured last year when I bought the membership: Eloise sitting at a tiny jet; Isaac running around. Two other babies Eloise's age were similarly entranced nearby. This is a great place for babies! 

Other things on our radar to get the most out of our membership before it expires: Shakespeare in the Park (August 5) and bike nights (M/T/TR 4-7pm)! 

12 July 2015

Smack that Buoy

One weekend we're watching that nature movie, "Earth" and it's pouring down rain outside, and Chris is getting irritated that we have to pause it every five seconds because we have kids, and then we hear this shuffle-shuffle-WHOMP. A tree branch sliced our gate in half! Another branch fell while we were upstate---it was larger and would have landed square on top of my car. 

Thankfully this one landed right where it did, because another foot over and it could have really damaged our CANOE! Fortunately it was unscathed and we took it out again that Sunday evening. 

We brought rocks for Isaac to torpedo jellyfish. When the rocks were gone, we honed our navigation skills by paddling alongside ODU's rowing buoys and seeing if everyone could smack it. 

"Let's go SMACK THAT BUOY!" became Isaac's war cry. 

This time, Isaac had a great attitude. Eloise, therefore, was having none of it. But a shortened time on the water is still an evening on the water. They'll get used to it eventually! Canoeing is so fun. 

We walked to dinner Chris' last night before going to sea. A man stopped Chris to asked if we live in our neighborhood. We said yeeeees...? He said, "I've seen y'all three days in a row now and it was weird. First I saw y'all with a canoe, then you walked by my house with a stroller, and now at dinner." Maybe wheeling our canoe down to the Haven Creek Boat Ramp isn't as inconspicuous as we thought! 


Huge day in the K household: the kids' passports arrived!! I've been watching the mailbox for weeks, so I was pretty excited. The kids caught on to that, so they were excited too! 

We congratulated Eloise on her very first passport, and congratulated Isaac on his new big kid passport. He flipped through the pages and found A TRAIN! "This one is mine! It has a TRAIN!" Oh, the joy!

We had just gotten back from getting the menfolk haircuts at the Navy Exchange. Eloise and I did some shopping for baby hair clips. Every time I'm there, this Wanderlust Beauty Set stares me down. So far I'd resisted. But I am a sucker for wanderlust beauty, so I finally got it. After all, I have the perfect pouch to keep it in, and I figured at this stage of my life I needed a little imaginary wanderlust since there isn't a lot of actual wandering going on. At home I discovered the eyeshadows are called "mermaid aqua" and "treasure." PERFECT. Especially for our wandering in Norfolk, the mermaid city. And by wandering, of course I mean getting lost when I misinterpret Google directions. 

This is a cheesy confession: I used to feel like seeing the world was essential and unavoidable. After scratching that itch for awhile I was afraid travel was more of a selfish luxury, a juvenile escape from reality. 

Then, on the crazy NY Roadtrip with my parents, my dad said something enlightening. My mom has a dream of combining her many talents and opening a B&B. I asked my dad if he had a comparable dream. He said in high school, he envisioned having a job that would require traveling all over. I thought, "HEY! I don't just have this disembodied desire to see the world. It's hereditary!" It was flipping through my dad's colorful, over-stamped passport that first inspired me to go get stamps of my own. Wouldn't it be fun if my parents opened a B&B in Mexico or something? 

Anyway, jury's out on whether Isaac and Eloise will further inherit some wanderlust, but having their brand new passports is a good start! 

09 July 2015

Farm Box

Our best farm box yet from Farm Table could not have come at a better time. 

Here we are, quarantined and contagious with strep throat, when into our doldrums drops a box of blueberries (Eloise's favorite), corn (Isaac's favorite), tomatoes (my favorite), peaches (everyone's favorite), plus zucchini, potatoes, crisp lettuce, onions, carrots, and maybe some stuff I forgot. Like drinkable yogurt from a local creamery. 

Isaac has previously shown cursory interest in the box, but they often arrive shortly before or during naptime so I just deal with the contents as fast as I can. Which I think was a mistake, because this three year old today was delighted as he took out the carrots, held up each ear of corn, washed the tomatoes and potatoes for me, and generally played with our food. 

"Look! It's like trees!" he shook the lettuce. Last time our box had broccoli he disappeared with it. I later found it set up like foliage around his train tracks. 

We've gotten farm boxes delivered on Thursdays for about a year now. There was a break in the winter, and I skip weeks sometimes when Chris is gone. I admit I got a liiiiiiiiittle tired of radishes, kale and sweet potatoes in March and April. Sometimes I can't force myself to eat aaaaaaaall the greens before they go bad when it's cold outside. But these summertime boxes are the best, and it's all "dirt to doorstep in 48 hours," or whatever. Nice! 

I'm renewing my membership for the next year, and I'm especially interested to try their new Meal Box, which comes with the main ingredients to make three dinners for four people. I also really like the breakfast boxes that come with variably-sized brown eggs and omelette fixings. One of my favorite boxes was the week we participated in a lamb study with a nearby university. They delivered FREE ground lamb, and in exchange I agreed to make a recipe (lettuce wraps with a yogurt sauce and crispy onions---so yum!) and fill out a survey (you can just guess whether I'm good at filling out surveys). 

Also, the cardboard boxes hold a lot of bubbles, outside toys and sidewalk chalk, and fit nicely under our front porch bench. RECOMMEND. 

08 July 2015

Star Baby

Isaac declined to celebrate Tanabata with Eloise. 

July 7th is Tanabata in Japan. The Star Festival celebrates the love of a princess and cattleman who were forbidden to see each other. But once a year, a bridge spans the Milky Way and they can be together for a moment. You can celebrate by going to a festival and making a wish. I couldn't find a festival, so we celebrated at home. 

Eloise wore her favorite jinbei (thanks, Heather!) and wished for blueberries and another tooth. Both wishes were granted today, just two days later! Happy Star Festival! 

06 July 2015

Nine Months

Nine months of ELOISE! Chris, Isaac and I celebrated our baby girl with a trip to the ZOO. 

Eloise loves to eat as of about a month and a half ago. She started eating everything while we were in Texas and hasn't looked back. The only thing she doesn't like is squeezy-pack chicken stuff. Yuk. She loves BLUEBERRIES, Cheerios, pb&j sandwiches, waffles, fruity baby food, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, rotisserie chicken, mac n cheese, applesauce, and cheese sticks. And crackers. And peaches and watermelon rinds. 
Eloise's favorite person is ISAAC! She likes his voice, giggles, attention, tickles, whatever. Eloise likes to chew on Isaac's trains, snuggle her sheep and baby doll, rattle her noisemaker, ride around in the car and stroller, and take naps in transit. 

Eloise's eyes are still shifting gray-green-blue-golden. She has applied for her passport but has not received it. Eloise has been to Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, New York and New Jersey. And Canadian waters, if that counts. She has flown in a plane and sailed a boat. 
We finally acquired our very own CANOE and took the kids out on the Lafayette.   Eloise cruised around the bow a little bit, and took a nap sitting up in my lap while I was paddling. She can aaaaaalmost crawl, and can squirm around quite a bit to get toys/Isaac/mom. 

Eloise, your flirty eyes, spunky personality, and precious smile are such a blessing! I fall more in love with you every day. I love your aba-baba-baba song and the way you rest your head on my shoulder when you've had enough. I'm sorry you were so sick in March and April, but you are my strong little girl and I am so proud of you. I can't wait to see what you'll do next! 

05 July 2015

The Chesapeake Bay

Isaac hated the beach at nine months. Eloise thinks it's nice. We continued our Independence Day celebrations by skipping nap time after church today and proceeding to the beach at Cape Henry on the Fort Story base. 
Cape Henry is where some Englishmen from the Virginia Company erected a cross in 1607 or something here at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Today we watched modern commercial interests sail past, while an energetic pod of dozens of dolphins jumped and splashed not far offshore. They jumped the highest out of the water I've ever seen wild dolphins jump. It made me think about the SEVEN shark attacks in waist-deep water off the North Carolina coast in the past three weeks. ....

When I exclaimed over my continuous dolphin sightings, Chris said, "I see dolphins all the time on ship." BUT THERE HAS BEEN NO BLOG POST ABOUT IT SO IT DOESN'T COUNT, FLY BOY!  
Anywho, we returned home for Pizza and a Movie Night: Unbroken! My mom gave Chris the book when we were in Japan and we both read it practically without stopping. We lived like four train stops from Ofuna...the same Ofuna in the book?! I don't know. Our plan tonight was to let the kids watch the Olympic racing part of it, then put them to bed before the POW part. But our stupid internet kept cutting out. Like every 20 seconds. Like it does every time it rains. 

Because, the Verizon repair guy told me, these wire boxes are basically little squirrel condos. The squirrels get in and chew through all the wiring, then the humidity shorts out our internet connection, and occassionally puts a stop to our internet altogether for weeks. It is so frustrating. So the 2hr17min movie becomes A FIVE HOURS EXERCISE IN INTERNET FUTILITY. It's over now. I have no idea what happened. 

Maybe that's what we get for deviating from watching a Will Smith movie or Pirates of the Carribbean over July 4th!  

04 July 2015

Family Pic

It's not even 10pm and we are obviously in for the night. Today we mowed the lawn, BBQed with neighbors, ate burgers and pie, thanked God for our free nation and for our food, killed at least three dozen nasty flies, sang the national anthem, and listened to Isaac's made up national anthem. 

Chris, Isaac and I snuggled up on Isaac's bed to watch some neighborhood fireworks. Then a cloudburst sent celebrators inside long enough for Isaac to fall asleep. Happy Independence Day! 

This is a rare 4th of July where we are not 1. Moving, 2. Deployed, or 3. Overseas! Maybe next year the kids will even stay up late enough to see a real firework show. But I wouldn't count on it. 

Happy Independence Day!

And now we'll take a little break from our vacation coverage to bring you these two little cuties. 

Yesterday Chris and I took them swimming at the much-touted waterslide Gator pool and splash area at the Little Creek base. I didn't realize how much fun was had until both kids crashed for colossal naps. 

It's so great to be home WITH DAD!