Saturday, December 20, 2008

I've definitely been a delinquent blogger of late, I would like to blame this on many factors

  1. Being the "Mrs. Reverend Ashcroft" (weird) seems to have one or two demands around the holidays
  2. I've been doing a ton of baking
  3. I've been doing some Christmas present making
  4. Esme's been teething and thus not sleeping, thus not allowing mom any baby free time
  5. I've not felt like I've had much to say
So...here's what I have to share:
The other day I made these great peppermint sandwich cookies, another foray into the wild world cooking. I think they came out pretty good for the most part the two big things my insane days of baking taught me are double check for all the ingredients before you begin and roll the dough thinner than you think you need to. I think the second would have made these cookies even better...here's a pictoral of my adventures in peppermint sandwich cookies...


Bake the cookies (sugar cookies)


melt chocolate chips and add peppermint extract






sandwich the chocolate between two cookies




crush the candy canes (definitely a good stress reliever)



Ta-Da



My other big project, that I can share right now is that I decorated my house, I'm quite proud becuase I made the wreaths myself which is definitely a big accomplishment. My sister directed me to Martha Stewarts website for an idea of how to hang them on my front door. This was my favorite part as she says something along the lines of "use your u clips to..." then "nail three holes in the door..."
Not only do I have no clue what a u clip is I'm thinking my landlord would not be a fan of three holes nailed in my front door...needless to say mine is not quite as pretty as Martha Stewart's but I think I still did a pretty damn good job!






No blog post would be complete without a few pictures of Esme...here she is adoring and kissing the animals at the churches creche' fifty monopoly bucks if you can guess who dressed Esme this morning :)





Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Please Touch Museum

On Monday we went on a field trip to the Please Touch Museum.
It's been a fixture here in Philadelphia for a long time and just this year they relocated to a much bigger space in an old mansion.


Monday was Grandma's last day here so we wanted to end her visit with a bang and I think this was a great way to do it!

Esme was terrified of the mooing Cow in one area of the Museum



(I'm not sure why the eggs were under the cow...maybe that's why she was afraid?)
I mean really, what kind of cow lays eggs? Run away, run away!


Also not a huge fan of the slide...we may need to visit more parks


Her very favorite thing was the mirror area of the Alice in Wonderland section...she had to kiss the cute baby in every mirror and we kept having to chase her back to that section and retrieve her. :)



It must be really tough to be so cute that you can't leave yourself alone




Esme's other favorite things were...




The Carousel (she got two rides, one with mommy and daddy)




Driving the cars


We had a great time and I look forward to going back often as Esme gets older and can interact more with all the exhibits.



There were many wonderful things about Grandma's visit but one of my personal favorites is that she babysat one Friday so that Andrew and I could go out to dinner for my birthday, here we are looking like adults rather than parents:


Monday, November 24, 2008

All in a Weekend

We had a big weekend...well maybe just a big day Sunday that spilled out into the weekend.

Andrew was ordained as a priest on Sunday...I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about that, it's exciting and big and it's taken 8 years of discernment and three seminaries in three states and time as a carpenter...and...and...and. Mostly I just feel like it's about time and I know its the right job/calling/ thing for him to be doing. I feel good about his being a priest...there is this sense though, that there's something else I'm supposed to be feeling about it. But I don't so...there we go.

After the huge almost 2 hour ordination service there was a big reception at church and then, since the majority of our nearest and dearest were in town we decided to celebrate Esme's first birthday a week early. That was truly the fun part of the day.

I got up early to make Ice Cream Cupcakes...i know they don't look like much but they were a big hit.

Our friends Julie & Daron were here from New York with their son Isaac who was born just 5 days after Esme on my birthday, Andrew's mom helped me make birthday crowns for Esme and Isaac...we sang happy birthday to both of them and they each got a special strawberry ice cream cupcake. Esme was much less shy about pushing her face right into hers but we figured this was just the practice run for Isaac anyway!
There are some more pictures coming...they are what I've been waiting for, but I can't wait any longer (Emily :)) You can see Isaac's crown in this picture. Andrew's mom made these great crowns for the kids (I'm much better at the vision than the execution so thank goodness she was here) Anyway, Esme hated hers but Isaac actually left his on so at least you can see one.

We had a great party and I can hardly believe that just a year ago I hadn't even met this little girl that has become my whole world!!






Saturday, November 15, 2008

So today Esme and I were getting ready to leave the house to go run errands.

I went to the closet to get my coat and when I came back Esme was standing at the door with her new strawberry hat on inside out.
The whole image was so hilarious...that she knew we were leaving...that she thought to get her hat and that she put it on herself, something she's never done.
I ran for the camera and was able to sort of catch it.


Thanks Grandma for the first hat Esme likes!!

I also had to take a picture of her outfit today...I think it's cute. Someone gave us this little outfit, it's a fur collared, leopard print lined vest and the jeans have leopard print on the bottom too. I do admit that I think the jeans are a bit over the top and she'll probably never wear them again.

But overall I thought it was too cute with her little esme star onesie that jess made her.
Andrew hates it but maybe that just makes me think it's even cuter :)



So here are the promised pictures of the goat...the step up is a little high which is why Esme ends up on her knees...the next platform actually holding the goat statue is also at an angle which makes walking while touching the goat a dangerous (and nearly irresistable) proposal...


Last but not least here's how Esme helps with dinner at the end of the day:







Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall walk

Yesterday Esme, Francis, Clare and I went for a long walk.


It was such a beautiful CRISP fall day and the dogs needed some exercise so i couldn't resist. We walked down to the river and followed this great path the city made next to the railroad tracks.
As a sleeping Esme can be rather quiet company I spent a lot of the walk imagining Francis and Clare's inner monologues. I think the first thing you need to know are what Francis and Clare's voices sound like, this has already been decided in our household of long ago.
Francis sounds like that really stupid wrestler you knew in high school...the one who was trying to take as many shop and gym classes as possible every year. This is particularly appropriate as Francis' neck is bigger than his head so he sort of looks like a wrestler as well.
Clare I think would sound like Glinda the good witch from the Wizard of Oz. A bit high and breathy but not totally annoying, just sort of distracted or otherworldly. I also imagine that she almost always talks in full sentences...except when she's acting puppyish inside with Francis, then I think she forgets...but otherwise very proper full sentences all the way.
So the middle portion of our walk, where we were near the grass, river and foliage I think went something like this:

Clare (upon almost finding a perfect place to poop, and believe me this is a production): Oh this is a lovely spot (sniff, sniff, sniff) with the water so close and such soft green grass, I could relieve myself here, I'll just slowly lower mysel..ah excuse me! who else has been here? I smell something...let me just follow that and oh the clanging (as she notices something above clanging on the flag pole) Why this will not do at all, just won't do, how can a girl get comfortable in these surroundings, and now there are probably people watching! carry on, carry on!

Francis (as we carry on): A squirrel...a squirrel I smell a squirrel...oh wait a bird I like birds, almost like a squirrel...I'll chase it mom I'll chase it...just let me go I think I can catch this one -- abirdasquirrelabird...I'll get itI'll get it!

Clare (as I drag Francis away from the bird): ah such a lovely smelling friend to urinate here, I must invite them over for rawhide...truly lovely. I must meet all of these dogs, so little time!

Francis (a bit later): Asquirrelasquirrela...leaf? fun a leaf, I'll pretend it's a squirrel, it runs just like a squirrel, come on let's go...get the leafaleafasquirrel, I mean a leaf!!!!

Esme's inner monologue I imagine to be even simpler as we walk:
"ah...mommy makes the best pillow"

After exhausting the dogs, Esme and I went back out to the goat. The man who plays his guitar in the park invited Esme to strum the strings and then to play the back like a drum. It was too cute, you could see she really wanted to, but just wasn't sure. She would sort of hit at it and back away quickly.
Today was also her first time wearing mittens which was hillarious. A little boy shared his matchbox cars and she could not figure out how to hold on to them wearing the mittens, dexterity I think will take some practice!
When we got home I had to put in a load of laundry and in my haste to get it started I left the gate at the bottom of the stairs open...I came out of kitchen and minute later (literally) and could not see Esme anywhere...after a panicked moment I ran up the stairs to find her playing with her upstairs toys in the hallway.
Andrew took a video of her at work today to show just how that happened:
(and yes...that is a pretzel in her hand, you never know when you need a quick snack while climbing)

video

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Recipe

Melissa asked me to post the recipe for the Shephards Pie I made...which is such a compliment.
And I figured I would do it...on one condition.
Please please please...anyone who reads this, comment on the post with your favorite recipe.
I really am trying to learn to cook for my family and the hardest part is to think of what to cook.
Please just give me your easiest...most used...favorite...whatever recipe.
Then they'll all be here for anyone who wants to grab one!

This will get us started
Shephards Pie:
Here is how to make Shepherds Pie for 8.

2lbs ground beef
1lb. Ground Lamb (Fresh not frozen, if you can find it).
Beef or Chicken Stock
5-6 lbs potatoes (Russets or Yukon Gold).
Two large sweet Yellow onion peeled and chopped
5 cloves Garlic
5-6 good shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
1-2 cups of Red Wine (a relatively heavy red- Cabernet or some blend)
1 small can Tomato Paste
Italian seasoning

Directions:
Mix together the beef and lamb and then brown it (by adding two tablespoons of olive oil to pan, heating over medium heat until oil is hot then putting beef/lamb mixture in. You might need to do this in several lots depending on the size of pan-if you “crowd” the meat it will tend to steam rather then brown nicely). Stir regularly as it browns so all of meat gets brown and then use a colander or a mesh filter to get rid of all the fat.
Start water boiling to cook potatoes
Clean out pan and add another two tablespoons of oil, heat as before using medium heat and when hot add the chopped onion. Cook with stirring until onion is soft and transparent but not brown. Then add 5-6 cloves of pealed garlic which you have chopped quite fine. Cook for another two minutes then add filtered, browned beef/lamb mixture back into pan with onions and garlic.
Add one and a half cups of wine, one cup of beef or chicken stock, two tablespoon of Tomato paste and a few good shakes of Italian Seasoning or other spices that you fancy oregano, thyme, sage etc.
Cook for about 15 mins adding more wine or water if it seems to be getting dry. You can let it simmer for as long as you need (for me this part was like 45 min. while I got the potatoes ready and cooked)
Season meat to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile peel the potatoes and slice into slices about a quarter of an inch thick. Put into large sauce pan, (if you haven't already, fill pan with water add a good big pinch of salt and bring to boil.)
Let simmer for about 25 mins until potatoes are nice and soft. Filter off water using colander, return potatoes to pan and mash. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, mix in then add some warmed milk, mixing until potatoes are smooth and moist. add salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble Put cooked beef mixture in bottom of oven proof casserole dish. Spoon mashed potatoes on top and using back of a fork cover evenly the whole dish with the potato mixture.

Cook at 350 in oven for 20-30 mins then take out and sprinkle very sharp, white grated cheddar cheese on top. Return to oven; adjust shelf so top of shepherds pie is about an inch and a half from element. Broil until cheese is melted, bubbly and nicely browned.
After this step I added tomatos on top before serving...another variation is to add carrots and or peas in with the beef mixtures as it's simmering.

Take out, serve immediately or let cool and then cover with foil and keep in fridge overnight. Take out from fridge one and a half hours before wanting to serve it. Heat oven to 350 put shepherds pie in and reheat until hot all the way through (about 50 minutes).

We ate this for over a week and it still tasted great!!!
Thanks Ernie for such a great recipe!

Don't forget to add your own favorite recipe by using the comment button below...thanks!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A day in the life

I had to post this video because I think it's hilarious.
Ever since I changed computers I've had a bunch of video problems. I'm sorry it's sideways but I can't figure out how to turn it. I thought it was so funny that I had to post it anyway.
The first funny thing is that the video is taken at the area of the park closest to us where all the parents and kids congregate. Everyone says things like I'll meet you at "the goat" it is called that becuase it is a bronze statue of a goat...there is seriously almost nothing kid friendly about the location. I'll have to take a picture of it for a future post. It is actually probably kid hazardous more than anything...
So this is Esme playing at the goat and I think the video pretty clearly illustrates a number of the joys of a "hardened city childhood" ;) enjoy!


video

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One more proud moment

I forgot to mention that last Friday night I made dinner for some guests we were having over.

I know how silly this sounds but I made probably the most complicated thing I've ever cooked, Shepherds Pie (I swear it's harder than it sounds).

After a few hours in the kitchen...cutting, sauteeing, mashing and baking

forcing an exhausted Esme to cry herself to sleep

and about four phone calls to Andrew's dad

Dinner was finally served...I had to take a picture of the final result and I was so proud when everyone asked for seconds!!!


YEA!


Halloween and other fun

As usual time has flown by since my last post.
Not too many new happenings here. Here's a video of some recent talking:

video

Esme is becoming more and more social if that is possible. Anywhere we go she befriends total strangers, waving hi, sometimes even saying hi, grabbing hands, offering food, she is impossible to keep in even ten places during church on Sunday. She has become the unofficial greeter and the ushers have welcomed her into their ranks (some of them clearly begrudgingly as they almost trip over her every now and then).

I do have to give her lots of credit for her ability to survive through an hour and a half church service sometimes twice a week. She plays, walks around, sings with the choir, sometimes tries to talk (usually when her daddy is talking). Luckily she is rarely truly loud and does fairly appropriate things to entertain herself the whole time.

We made two great trips to the suburbs in the last two weeks. During the first someone told us about a church rummage sale!

I found a great little piano (just the kind of toy I didn't want to buy her) it's plasticy and plays songs in that funny kid sound...but she loves it...she could not leave it alone and since we got it she's been stretching her little fingers up to every real piano we come near, pounding on the keys and when she plays her piano at home she sings along and dances. The best part is that it was only five dollars so I really didn't feel like I was selling out too much.



Last week we went to a consignment store and I got a couple sweaters and a long sleeved shirt that actually fit me...a bonus as this weather drops below 50 and my clothes are all about two sizes too big. I also found Esme the cutest little yellow sweater that looks like it was knit by your grandma's grandma...it was two bucks, yeah consignment!!

We're kicking into high gear to prepare for Andrew's ordination on November 23rd...my favorite part is that Andrew will be going on retreat for three days the week before, anyone want a dog or two for a few days? I think his boss must think I'm superwoman or something...three days alone with two dogs (high energy dogs did I mention) and a baby (let me edit that as well...indefatigable toddler)?

I forgot to mention Esme was a flower fairy for Halloween...I've attached some pictures. Thanks to Grandma Mary Ellen for the flower hat and Auntie Melanie for the tutu and adorable onesie she got tons of compliments!






Tuesday, October 21, 2008

crafty


So I've always had all these friends and family who do amazing crafty things...Esme's Aunt Anna and Grandma Mary Ellen knit her beautiful amazing sweaters, Esme's Auntie Melanie made her these shoes that get more compliments than the rest of her wardrobe combined (and trust me that's saying a lot), My childhood friend Sara has alwas been an amazing artist, Jess makes supercute onesies...I'm surrounded.
I've always managed to not have time to be crafty myself...you know I've been "so busy with my career" :) I told myself when we moved here that I would find ways to bring some creativity to our house and I'm very proud of myself because I actually have.

Below you will find some pictures as proof of my newfound craftiness:

I created this wall of pictures in the living room...personally I think the crookedness is part of the charm plus

it's fun to finally feel surrounded by friends and family













Every move for us results in way too much time at Ikea...recently they had these simple wooden frames that you could stretch fabric over...
I made one for the bathroom and two for Esme's room

This last project has to be my favorite. I painted one wall between the kitchen and dining room with chalkboard paint and created a calendar, a to do list, a grocery list...esme can draw on the bottom and we're going to put a prayer on the top.

This one makes me proud!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

politics (a rare topic for me)

so I watched a half hour of the presidential debate last night. and I was struck by a few things.
I thought it was odd how much McCain was blinking...then Andrew pointed out that he looked nervous and I realized people do tend to blink a lot when their nervous. It seemed like he was trying hard to be on the offense and that seemed to keep him nervous (at least for the first half hour). Hopefully (for his sake) he got a little more relaxed as things went on.
That's one thing I always notice about Obama, he seems relaxed in any environment.

The next thing that struck me was how frustrated I was by being told that "The American Dream" is to own a home. There was only a brief period a few years ago where I really wanted to own a home and I quickly realized that given my lifestyle that will probably just not happen. I don't think I'm any less of an American for not owning a home and I don't feel my dreams are not being realized because of it.
I also feel frustrated that no one is placing any blame for this financial crisis on the every man. I understand where things started and the role that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the oil companies, etc...play in the crisis. BUT I really think most of us (and my bank account will tell a horrific tale) are at fault for overspending, misusing credit, not reading fine print, not being accountable.
I sat there thinking last night that I would happily vote for someone who would risk pissing off the American People by actually telling us that we do deserve some of the blame. And that we better shape up and get our affairs in order. Well they might need to stand for a few other things as well but I think that sort of truth telling would be a great start!`

I get nervous writing things like this because there is so much depth of emotion and thought and feeling that everyone puts into their beliefs and there's no way I could summarize everything I think in a simple blog post...these thoughts are definitely greatly simplified and just observations...I am curious about others observations from the debate if you watched, I'd love to know what others made of my observations or what your own were. Not to start our own debate or anything just to put some thoughts out there in a safe environment.

Monday, October 6, 2008

sadness

We've had a pretty devastating day here at our house.

Francis attacked a dog at the dog park this morning.
Any of you who know Francis know how far he's come since we've had him.
He is becoming such a good dog, he's calmed down a ton, he's accepted that Esme is not some small woodland creature we brought home to torture him.
We've been going for runs four mornings a week and while my sister was here we went to the dog park quite often.
Francis has not been above mania in the past but has never attempted to bite anyone dog or human, he'd even been playing happily with this puppy at the park today when out of nowhere he just attacked.
The dog was squealing and I think that sort of set Francis off (which does not justify or excuse the behavior in any way, Francis is completely at fault here). I was not strong enough to get Francis off the other dog and the really hard part was getting his jaws pried apart.
It felt like such a nightmare as it was happening and continues to feel like a bad dream as it's played out throughout the day.
Luckily the other dog is okay. He had ten puncture wounds and required 8 stitches. My hands and one arm are covered in bites and scratches, my knees are rubbed raw.
The worst part (well it's not really the worst part but you know...) is that I feel like I've failed Francis. We've tried so hard to give him a happy home and enough exercise and well you know everything...we've tried and it was finally starting to seem like it was paying off. I'm just not sure where I went wrong.
Maybe we will finally have to get more professional training for him...we can't just keep him inside forever but for the first time I'm afraid to take him outside.
Life around here is far too far from dull...please say a prayer for Francis...and us. I know there's a good dog somewhere in there.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

about time for an update



Esme decides that amazingly enough there may be something better than
Cheerios in the world...something anyone would surely climb inside the cupboard for!
Fruit Loops!!!





We are finally settled here in the city of brotherly love!
There's been a lot going on with our little family, so much that I hadn't realized it's been almost a month since my last posting, Wow!

I'm working at Starbucks four mornings a week which seems to be going really well. I like everyone I work with and I'm getting the hang of working behind the counter again. I think the team and the customers are surviving on the mornings I'm in charge and every shift gets a little bit better.

Esme visits mama's work

I get up before work to take the dogs for a run around the square which seems to help their energy level (and mine for the most part I think) We also have a dog park just seven blocks west and right at the end of our street we're trying to take them there 3-4 times a week since that seems to help as well.

I'm also working as a personal assistant to our landlord which is a job I can do while I have Esme with me...I think I'll be working about 10 hours a week for him, it's definitely interesting to be accomplishing things for someone else while feeling like your still not getting all your own things done. I keep telling myself that as soon as we get a routine we'll be okay.

My sister was here for the past two weeks and did a great job getting us settled into a routine...if only we could have kept her. She had Esme napping every morning, helped me get the last of our things settled in the house, helped exercise the dogs, walked miles and miles around the city with us!


While Mel was here we went up to our brother's house to celebrate our sister-in-laws birthday with a barbecue; the highlight of which was my brother burning the paint off his new grill! My brother, sister, Esme and I also took the dogs to the Carnivale of the Dogs in Rittenhouse Square where Francis actually proved to be better than Clare at the agility course (mostly due to his lack of fear rather than any actual skill). We also got caricatures of the dogs, they had artists there doing them for free and that was really fun!




The Caricatures

My sister also spent lots of time teaching Esme new words and other fun things. Esme's vocabulary consists primarily of:

  • saying "Uh-Oh" anytime: anyone drops anything, she drops anything, she throws something, she feeds the dogs, the dogs do something bad.
  • Her other favorite word is "Doggy" she actually says it quite clearly and even identified a doggy in a commercial on tv the other day. Every walk we take she points out every doggy we see and at the dog park is quite proud to point out her doggies.
  • "Hi-i" is one of her new words. She is definitely selective about who she will actually say hi-i to but she greets us every morning with it and is very proud when she does say it to strangers.
  • she also sometimes says "dow" to mean I want off your lap or off the bed or out of the stroller.
  • The other thing we hear quite frequently is "Ah-Duh" this means all done and is invoked at the end of eating, at the end of a diaper change, when she's done playing with something, when she's thrown something and she knows this time I won't give it back.

Our frequent trips to Ikea as we were settling in here resulted in a new addition to our doggish household; Esme's favorite new friend "Go-Go" he is a golden lab (STUFFED) that she hugs fervently and loves to nap with. When she's doing something she shouldn't we tell her go find "Go-Go", she'll toddle over to wherever she left him, hug him and drag him by the paw wherever she goes next. Thank goodness he's much more compliant than Francis or Clare.

This brings me to the most important news. Esme has been walking for about two and half weeks now. She can walk from one end of the house to the other unassisted and is even teaching herself to climb stairs (which is of course discouraged by both her fearful parents). A favorite pastime is opening and closing anything; mostly doors but the dog gates, drawers, and the refrigerator will also do in a pinch.

This video is Esme and Go-Go on one of the first days she was walking!

video

I think that gets us pretty much caught up!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

She Sleeps

And I'm making the most of it!
This is a new thing in our household; Esme has been taking naps!!! One or two a day, it's true that miracles never cease. I've even gotten her to sleep 4 or 5 times in her swing.
Just when you think life can't get any better your daughter takes a nap and you can actually get an hour worth of boxes unpacked, without her helping by putting things back in the box as you take them out!

Life is good here.

So moving to Philly has been an adventure, we haven't done as much exploring as I would hope, although Esme and I did do some shopping for vegetables at the Reading Terminal Market and some food shopping at Trader Joe's last week, that was a fun day. We also explored Ikea where I dreamed about all the fun things I wished I could buy for Esme's room.
Today's assignment, and we do choose to accept it, is finding a couple rugs. My goal is to alleviate this fear I have that years from now some doctor is going to say "Yes, her learning disability is from hitting her head too many times on a hardwood floor. Does your home have hardwood floors?"

Mostly we've been in the house unpacking and working on navigating the treacherous boxes and moving dogs. It turns out that the dogs are the perfect height for a baby who is learning to walk, there is just one consistently unforeseen (by Esme) problem...they move, without any warning and often quickly. Unfortunately Esme has been toppled many a time by an excited mutt who heard something they couldn't resist investigating.

I was wishing I had some sort of "Go, go, gadget" built in camera yesterday. Andrew peeked his head in the door to grab the mailbox key and then went back out to retrieve the mail. The dogs, with Esme right behind, immediately rushed to the door. Francis layed down, nose practically touching the door every nerve alert. Clare stood at attention right next to him and Esme stood just behind them both, balancing on Clare, all of them quietly, miraculously, waiting for Andrew to come back. As cute as it was instead of grabbing the camera I had to break it up knowing the second Andrew opened that door pandemonium would break loose and Esme would be flat on her back in the midst of it. And again that doctors voice in my head...

I think I may have mentioned previously, Esme learned a while ago that just because we lay down at night does not mean you have to stay laying down. Her new thing when going to bed is to nurse for a few minutes then roll over and begin exploring everything she can find on the bed...the headboard...crawling over me and Andrew. Then she'll remember the nursing and crawl back toward me. Once she's moving though she doesn't want to give that up to lie back down and nurse. She tries to nurse while still on all fours. We've taken to calling this "drive thru". Esme has become such a fan that I've started telling her I am not a "McMama", this establishment is full service only.
The other new thing is that Esme has finally put to use some of the signs we've been working on for months. She just started using "all done" and a bit more reticently "milk" (she'd rather rock and pant/fuss to tell me she wants to nurse but we're working on that). There is only on problem with the use of the all done sign. For the last 3-4 days she will take 2-5 bites of any meal and then tell me "all done". Sometimes when I walk away she will start to fuss and I can tell she was just trying it out...but sometimes she does want to go play instead and then she wants to eat again in 10 or 15 minutes. I guess I'll have to start focusing more energy on the "eat" sign and getting her to tell me when she wants to eat so that I'm not interrupting something more interesting :) Ah the busy life of a 9 month old!
On to other things in our life, I think Andrew is enjoying his new job. He's working a ton; doing things I think he mostly enjoys. He preached his first sermon and got really good feedback; he even got scheduled to preach again this Sunday just two weeks after the first one which we all take as a good sign. He chants the gospel every Sunday but so far has done a great job with it, we are meeting lots of people ( I just wish I was better at remembering names). I'm supposed to be starting a Mom's group, I'll begin working on that soon. I also want to either start or join some sort of laid back book club. Something without kids there...I'm going to work on that as well! I can't remember the last time I read a book, definitely before Esme was born (that's not good I think).

Sorry for the lack of pictures this time. I'll get back on track with that, I'd been having all these thoughts and I wanted to make the most of my chance to get some of them down!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We're swimming through boxes in the Ashcroft household these days.
We've had a very exciting couple of weeks...
Two weekends ago Esme, Clare and I had a girls weekend out visiting Uncle Mike and Aunt Mary. Clare got to meet Ryan and Desiree's new puppy Rocco and they had a great time wrestling and running themselves ragged. Every now and then Rocco would mistake a crawling Esme for a new puppy friend, she definitely did not appreciate him throwing himself on her back in an invitation to play.an exhausted Rocco rests under the porch
Soon after we got home from Mike and Mary's my friend from high school, Chanda, came to visit with her sister Kayla and 2 year old daughter Lucy. Thursday night Andrew and I babysat Lucy so Chanda and Kayla could go see Spamalot. We are now sure we will be waiting a few years before adding to our family. Two kids less than two is at least one too many. Lucy has been very into babies lately, lucky for mom who is due to have their second daughter in October, so she was super excited to help with and hold Esme as often as possible, thankfully Esme is resilient and patient. We all had a great time and it was really fun to reconnect with old friends.

Lucy helps with Esme

This past weekend we went to church for our last Sunday at St. Mary's Times Square and then we walked up to Central Park and had a picnic with Aunt Veronica. After that we had a ton of fun at FAO Schwartz trying on hats and ended the day with a barbeque on campus with some new friends Greg, Katherine, their daughter Gracie and their son Andrew who was born just three days after Esme. Esme greeted him by crawling over and pushing him right onto his back. After that it took him about an hour to decide that Esme was okay to play with. His parents were amazed as they claimed Andrew was usually the little bully...way to go Esme, Isaac has taught you well! The best part of our day on Sunday was this push toy they had in the nursery at church, Esme got up behind it and just cruised all over the nursery without any help...there is video to come as soon as we work out the technical difficulties with my new computer.


Esme as bear & monkey at FAO Schwartz courtesy of Aunt Veronica's IPhone



Now we are settled into the business of serious packing. The dogs are nervous, Esme is into everything, including the boxes and despite ourselves we seem to be making progress. I think we are more than halfway done with almost every room...we're definitely at that chaos point and we're getting down to the little stuff that you have no idea where to pack. You know that point where you think you're almost there but really there's way more left than you're prepared to admit? That's where we're at...Thank goodness for our little helper Esme, she keeps us all on track!

The most helpful packer

Monday, August 11, 2008

Today was the first day of my last week at work.
What a weird feeling. It really has been such a journey.
For anyone who doesn't know; I've worked for Starbucks for over 11 years. I started as a barista in college and before I knew it I had a career, I'd worked my way up to being a District Manager. I've always been very passionate about what I do and Starbucks was my life. I never imagined wanting to change anything but I'm sure you can all see what happens next.
My daughter was born and all of sudden work didn't seem so crucial. Spending 70 hours a week worrying about coffee just didn't have the importance it used to. (Okay, my job is a little more than that and I do love the people I work with and for but...work is work)
That's actually where the real journey began. I've spent the last eight months rather tortured about 'throwing away' all I'd worked so hard to acheive vs. how important I felt it was to not miss seeing and nuturing my daughter as she grows up.
Don't get me wrong...the last three months that she's been in daycare have been awesome. To come home and actually have an hour or even 20 minutes to get something accomplished before we pick her up is a Godsend, but...to look back a year from now and know I missed out on so much was more than I could bear.
As usual God managed to find an unexpected way to answer my prayer. We've been living in NYC where my husband is a student and we were all set to stay here for him to do one more year of graduate school. Then a church in Philadelphia came along and offered him the job we weren't looking for. Problem is, it seems like the perfect job for our family and means I can work part time and be at home almost full time with my daughter.
So now I'm at the beginning of the end of so much...
*my career
*life in the big city
*my identity as a 'working mother'
*my identity as a 'career woman'
It's been really eye opening to realize how tied I am to these identities, and trust me I think this is just the beginning.
I sometimes feel almost embarrassed to tell people I'm stepping down (way down) to work part time in a store and raise my daughter. I often feel sure they think I just couldn't cut it and am looking for an excuse for leaving my job.
Those are the moments I have to remind myself of the magnet on my refrigerator I bought just after my daughter was born "remember what's important".
And in the course of spending time on what's important there is so much new
*becoming a priest's wife
*being a full time mom
*focusing on how to contribute to and invite people into community
*figuring out who I am when my identity is not defined by my job
I know this last one is a little tricky now that my identity is "Esme's mom". I'm sure that will work itself out like most things do, at least it's a good sign I'm thinking about having my own identity.
So this is where we're at. The beginning of the next part.
I have these dreams of cooking (please don't laugh), gardening, taking long walks with Esme and the dogs, getting a bike and one of those baby seats that go between the handle bars and riding to the Farmer's Market, making soup every week for the soup kitchen, meeting other moms, having friends, taking swimming lessons with Esme, finding a baby gymboree sort of class for her, working toward my ultimate dream of opening a baby store.
Perhaps we'll do these one thing at a time.
But first the packing and the settling, I think I need a new magnet for this stage.
"This to shall pass!"

Monday, August 4, 2008

A new week which means new adventures here in our household.

This weeks feats of amazement are:
waving hello (i think)
crawling everywhere, for real
yesterday Esme used her own version of sign language to tell me she wanted more food at dinner
today I went in when Esme cried during her nap to find her sitting up straight in bed crying at me, this would not be a problem if Esme would sleep somewhere other than our (very high off the ground) bed.
It really is the beginning of the end.

This afternoon Andrew came home to a floor littered with dog and baby toys plus the books and photo albums Esme had pulled off the shelves. "Why are you letting the dogs chew on these things." He says.

I'm thinking life was easy when it was just the dogs pulling things off the shelves. And when it was the dogs chewing on things.

Andrew is in his last week of CPE this week. He was on call over the weekend and was paged 11 times. Luckily he only had to go in twice (both at about 10pm). First to help some people who wanted a prayer book and the second time to help some patients who had been waiting in the ER for 13 hours.
Thank God it's almost over!

I have two more weeks of work left, then it's pack,pack,pack...
video

Sunday, July 27, 2008

everyday life

Esme is almost 8 months today and very much in the throes of teething.
If we couldn't tell by the melodramatic meltdowns that happen at the drop of a hat the excessive drooling would definitely give her away.
This weeks favorite interests are pulling herself up onto everything that stays in one place long enough; and cruising all around the living from couch to ottoman to bookshelf etc...
Favorite noises this week are dadadada, mamamama and a new one fafafafa.
We've also had a lot of fun this week playing with Isaac, born 5 days after Esme but already head and shoulders taller and beginning to be louder as well!
I posted a video of them playing with Francis below.
This is the first time in months we've been home all weekend and Esme managed a nearly two hour nap today while Andrew and I began packing up the study.
Esme also got her first taste of chocolate pudding today, thanks to daddy. Boy was it fun to watch those legs kick, she could not get enough!
video video