16 November 2014

Adventure Bible for Toddlers by Catherine DeVries

There should be no question as to why I picked Catherine DeVieres' "Adventure Bible for Toddlers" for this round of free review books from Booklook Bloggers: I have a toddler, and we like to read the Bible. Our go-to is "The Jesus Storybook Bible" which remains our favorite. It is a little over Isaac's head sometimes, so then we just talk about the pictures. I had hoped this would be a good prequel for that. 

It's ok. I give it three of five stars. This tot Bible is 10 stories that span the Old and New Testaments. The pictures are great; the theology is sound. I especially liked its handling of Daniel---Daniel prayed and TRUSTED GOD NO MATTER WHAT, and God delivered him from the lions. I threw away a different book that said God delivered Daniel because he prayed. Huh? No. I pray for lots of stuff; that doesn't obligate God to grant my wishes. 

Anyway, so I DO like this book. The reason I give it three instead of four or five stars is because there's no coverage of the crucifixion at all. Helloooooo, isn't the whole reason we're reading the Bible to our kid? To teach him about our need for a Savior and Christ's sacrifice for us? What's the point of a BIBLE without that?! This book finished with a story about Christ's return and coming kingdom, but skips the main point. 

So as a cute way to teach kids basic Bible stories: Win. 

But for coverage of the basics of Christian doctrine: Fail. 

Someone looking for a Bible for kids would find "The Jesus Storybook Bible" a better pick. 

Isaac was delighted when this book arrived in the mail, but when I tried to read it to him at nap time we had this conversation: 

"Isaac, want to read your new Bible?" 
"No! I don't like it God!" 
"I can't read it! I don't like it God! I don't like it Bible!" 
"Fine, I'll tell you the truth: I don't like Curious George!" 

We ended up reading the whole thing at naptime anyway. 

11 November 2014

Happy Veterans Day!

If a ship were to say, "hey, sorry we planned this exercise to have you all at sea over the long weekend. How about we pull into port for Vererans Day at least before we go do more stuff?" then, naturally, my favorite sailor would have watch on that one day. Naturally. But fortunately, he got to dash home last night to hold the baby, wrastle the boy, and provide a warm lap for the resident meower. 

We stopped at the store on our way home from dropping Hannah and kids at the airport. YEAH we grabbed the veteran spot! Since that's the entirety of our Veterans Day celebration this year! We don't even feel sheepish. Ok maybe a little. 

Bye again, Chris! Nice to see you for a few hours! Thanks for your service and all that! See you for tortellini night! Hopefully! 

04 November 2014

Shituation Central

Here are a couple of plumbers drilling holes in my kitchen ceiling to make sure no more sewage will come leaking out. They also had to remove the toilet from our one full bathroom and cut out a three-inch section of pipe in the basement. 

Once that was all finished, we had an unusable couple of bathrooms and kitchen for over three hours until a cleaning crew could come sanitize things. 
"I am not at all surprised the downstairs heat wouldn't work as the inside temperature hovers around 60 degrees," says Eloise. "Tots and babies love eating in a frozen tundra." 

Ok so 60 degrees Sunday and Monday isn't a frozen tundra, but it's really unpleasant when outside is in the 30s at night. So of course Monday we had more strangers tromping through the dirty basement and clomping around the house. 

"So is the heat working now?" I asked the repair guy. 
"It should work for now," he said. "I have some recommendations to make to the property manager."
"Oh great, like what?" I asked. 
"That's for me to discuss with the property manager," he snipped. "We don't give tenants a lot of information." 
"Oooooooookaaaaaay," I said. "But the heat should work?" 
"It should work for now." 

What the heck does that mean? 
So by Monday night our house was finally warm and we had working utilities and facilities. But for some reason, between one kid or another, someone was fussing pretty much nonstop most of last night. Isaac, who somehow slept through all the howling, joined in by waking up and barfing everywhere all morning. 

"I want Mommy," has become code for, "I'm about to barf all over the bed again so set the baby down and grab a bucket." 

We knew that having Chris ship out and leave me with a newborn, stitches and a tot would make for a challenging week. Hannah, did you even conceive it could be this challenging?? I didn't! 
FORTUNATELY we had a gorgeous morning of sunshine and health to enjoy about 45 minutes at the zoo yesterday when it was too cold to stay inside. Everyone LOVED the zoo train! No surprises there! 

And please, no more unpleasant surprises at home!! At least not until next week! 

30 October 2014

ELOISE: The Ultimate Edition

From the Publisher: Eloise is a little girl who lives in Norfolk. She is not yet pretty but she is already a Person. Henry James would want to study her. Queen Victoria would recognize her as an Equal. The Norfolk Admirals would want to have her on their side. Lewis Carroll would love her (once he got over the initial shock). She knows everything about The Nursery. She is interested in people when they are not boring. She has Inner Resources. If you take her home with you, you will always be glad you did. 
From the Mom: She IS, in fact, already pretty, and if you take her home with you, you will only be happy until I find you. 
Mermaid quilt from Grandma! 

26 October 2014

Trick or Treat!

One exclamation point is all the enthusiasm I can muster. I guess it's fitting for Halloween, because I'm starting to feel like I will be a zombie for the rest of time. 
Treat: Eloise is three weeks old. Trick: Chris went to sea. Trick: I strained my stitches putting the baby car seat into the car ("nothing can be done. Your uterus will just form scar tissue to heal itself," said the doctor. Awesome.) Treat: my favorite little sis and her kiddos arrived in Norfolk to help! 
Treat: We trick or treated. Treat: We ate candy. Treat: We left a plastic pumpkin of candy out for trick or treaters. Trick: some hooligan took not only all the candy of course, but the plastic pumpkin, too!  Rude! 
But the biggest trick of all soon became evident: a full sewage backup in the walls!! Two not-working toilets and foul-smelling water dripping inside the walls and out the kitchen ceiling. All over the counters, appliances, floor. Did I mention (treat) I hired a maid for the first time in my entire life two days ago? So we should have seen this trick coming. Treat: Hannah took the tots to mcdonalds for breakfast and on to the mall for play time while the plumbers saw through pipes in the basement and discuss hacking through the kitchen ceiling to stop the leak. 
Happy Halloween! I guess. I'm glad it's November. 

13 October 2014

Pumpkin Heads

Twice now it's been late summer, I had a baby, and by the time I got home from the hospital the season had shifted to fall. 
Eloise and I have hardly seen Isaac this week. He's been partying hard with Grandma and Pa and Dad. But before naps and bedtime he always tells me, "I want to talk about your day!" and we discuss the day's happenings and what we'll do next. These conversations have mostly revolved around PUMPKINS since his preschool grew a pumpkin patch overnight. We had to head over once it opened, of course! 
Other than this 20 minute foray into public, we have stayed home. No idiotic long walks, shopping, trips to church, or early adventures this time. Ta-da, we are learning from past mistakes. 
Isaac spotted a bandaid on me shortly before Eloise was born. "What happened, Mommy?" he asked, then gasped. "Baby come out?!" Now that the answer is yes, baby came out, he seems unconcerned. Once in a while he'll glance over at her or ask why she's crying, or even tell us (from a safe distance) that he loves her. So far so good, I guess. 
Anyway, happy fall! I will enjoy fall this year by watching the leaves change from Eloise's nursery window and doing not much else. At least until it's safe to do things like laugh, walk and cough again without feeling like my guts are ripping out. 

Here is our littlest pumpkin head in her dress blues. Adorable! 

07 October 2014

It's me, ELOISE

It's hard being a newborn
Oh my word 
You have to wiggle and skitter about and sometimes sklathe your arms out to the side and just yawn and say 
Hello everyone! It's me, ELOISE. 
Eloise Annette
8 lbs 9 oz and 20"
Isaac is delighted. Clearly. 
Proud grandparents! 

28 September 2014

Pumpkin Seeds for Brains

We went to the store to get milk and came home with a bucket of fried chicken and no milk. I also got pumpkins and cookies though, so there's that. Pumpkin seeds for brains. HELP US ALL. 

27 September 2014


I'm not good at not whining about being pregnant. I'm practicing, but it's hard. After Isaac was born, even not sleeping, moving internationally with a fresh c section scar, I remember repeatedly thinking, "At least I'm not pregnant!" Well whatever, the big day will come a week from Monday, if not sooner. 

Anyway, I can't blog if it just devolves into whining. No one wants to read that crap! Especially not me later. And most of my best mid-afternoon blogging time is spent passed out cold next to Isaac and his adorable squeaky toddler snores. Hee hee. 
So Chris is at sea somewhere. We especially miss Chris on weekends, of course, but I think underway weekends are so much better with a tot around to keep the house lively. Today we actually explored somewhere new. Sometimes I secretly judge people who won't go somewhere just because they haven't been there before. Well that's been me the past two months, and I was starting to judge myself. 

So we met a friend at the Farmers Fare East Beach farmers market and bought an absurdly---ABSURDLY---expensive gallon of Virginia maple syrup from the country's southernmost maple farm. With all the guests we'll have coming to care for us the next couple of months, I want to be prepared with local offerings! We had lunch at a tasty sandwich shop around the corner by the marina, then Isaac and I headed to the lovely bayside beach a couple streets north. In typical toddler fashion, Isaac wanted to go to the beach, threw a tantrum because we were going to the beach, then threw a tantrum when we left. I think that means we had a good time. 
The best part of living here is all the playmates. Isaac has more social time than he ever has, which means I do, too! Easiest moving transition ever. I've never moved somewhere and known MORE people than I did where I left---fantastic! See, so many great things about living here, I just have to cut off the blog posts before I get whiney. 
I hate belly pictures. But here is one: 38+ weeks. Since we lost the baby I was pregnant with right before this one, it feels like I've been pregnant much, MUCH longer than 38 weeks...because I have been. COME OUT, BABY! Isaac has finally started saying on his own, "I want a baby sister." What else is she waiting for?! The leaves are changing, the weather is gorgeous, her older brother is on board, heck---Dad will probably make it to the hospital in time; this is as good as it gets, kiddo! Fly the coop! 

25 August 2014

Virginia Farm Table

Photo and styling by Mary Fox
It's been six weeks since we moved into a 99-year-old house here in Norfolk. Some things have been an adjustment, like the swarms of mosquitoes and having four levels. Other things have us elbowing each other and grinning like we won the lottery: an easy two mile walk along the Lafayette River each evening, many good friends living nearby (even walking distance!), biking to the zoo, weather in the 70s while Florida is in the 100s, and fresh produce delivered TO MY FRONT DOOR. What?!

My friend Nicole recommended "The Dirty Life," by Kristin Kimball a few months ago. The author falls in love with a farmer and they start a farm where people buy in, then get nearly everything they need from the farm, fresh and in season. Readable, and an interesting idea.
Sample Garden Box! YUM. 
Swai (white fish) with roasted red onion (from the box),
 pine nuts, and fennel bulb
So when my friend Mary mentioned she signed up for a similar local farm group that DELIVERS, I paid attention! The Farm Table works with Virginia farms to get produce "48 Hours Dirt-to-Doorstep." Joining costs $35-50 and each box costs $28.50-32. The group emails members each Friday about what they can expect in the following Thursday delivery, along with recipe suggestions. Sign me up!

My sample Garden Box had eggplants, tomatoes, nectarines, lettuce, red onions, squash, early apples and bell peppers. I weighed everything and priced it out for comparison. These are all fruits and veggies I buy fairly regularly (except maybe the eggplant), so I tried to use the cheapest price I could remember seeing recently. Even compared against that conservative estimate, my Garden Box came out competitively priced, and that's without even throwing in delivery. And having produce delivered while I have two young-uns and Chris is out to sea? OH YEAH, BABY! It will be extra worth it then! This week I'm expecting a Breakfast Box with fresh eggs and breakfast produce (fruit, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions). Mary gets the Chef Box, which has more prep produce like kale and tomatillos. Plus there are add-ons like shiitake mushrooms, artisan bread, extra veggies, local honey, etc.
Torpedoing jellyfish in the Lafayette River on our evening walk! Kid's got good aim! 
I always like the idea of going to the farmers market, but realistically we're not going to do that every week. And I never have enough cash. There will probably be more posts about the bounty at our front door. Thanks for the tip, Mary! If nothing else, I know that after I have this second baby and Chris is sailing the deep blue sea, we probably won't starve to death on Thursdays because someone will bring us eggs and fruit. And charge it, please!
We love moving; we hate moving. This is the Unpack two days after we moved in. Looks better now! 

Hello, Atlantic!

Sometime back in August we revisited the Virginia Beach boardwalk for the first time while living here. Isaac loved the playground in the sand and his inaugural splashing in the Atlantic. We had an ok dinner at a questionable hotel restaurant on the beach, then had some awesome fudge and ok saltwater taffy a block over. 
That's how I feel at the beach, too, kiddo. Although, to be honest, around this point I was feeling more like a whale. 

Anyway, lots of people said the beach was not beautiful, but we are easy to please---we loved it! Another win in Norfolk's "all that is nautical and charming" category. I'm not sure why they were uploaded three months before getting posted. Oh well, pumpkin seeds for brains these days. Chris is still at sea, in case these out-of-order photos confuse anyone. 

See You Later, Alligator (Tacos)! or: How to Cook Alligator

See You Later, Alligator Tacos
My mom makes OUTSTANDING fish tacos. When she and my dad were helping us clean up to move out last month, we planned on making her tasty recipe together. One night we were tossing old/weird pantry and freezer items when we came across something I bought at Joe Patti's Seafood Market a while ago: ALLIGATOR! I asked Chris if he wanted alligator tacos as one of our 'Farewell Florida' meals. He said no.

So while he wasn't looking, I fried up a pound of alligator meat in butter. It was SMOKEY. Meanwhile, my mom chopped up a yummy salsa topping of tomatoes, red onion, avocado and mango. Then we stirred up some plain yogurt sauce with cumin, lime, maybe some garlic. Isaac LOVES tortillas. I don't know if he had anything else. The rest of us stuffed our tortillas with alligator, salsa, sauce and cheese. YUM!
On family vacation years and years ago my parents took us to some dive in the Deep South where alligator was on the menu. We thought this was hilarious and ordered a plate as an apetiser. Hannah refused to eat anything but plain hamburgers and chicken nuggets at that time, so we slipped an alligator nugget in with her chicken. "That piece was too fatty," she said. "That's because it was ALLIGATOR!" crowed her siblings triumphantly. Grade-school Hannah was all upset and we probably got in trouble for rubbing it in. I would feel bad about it except a few months later I heard her bragging to friends, "Oh yeah? Well I've eaten ALLIGATOR!" Success all around! Anyway, so after a dinner of alligator tacos I asked Chris if he liked it. He said yes. "IT WAS ALLIGATOR!" I flourished (no jazz hands---I have self control). Chris was non-plussed. I guess alligator doesn't rank very high on the weirdometer when compared with raw octopus tentacles etc. Well, I tried. For the record, I probably would NOT buy alligator meat again. It was expensive and rubbery, like swordfish!
Farewell, Florida! See you later, alligator!