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four years and counting

Sweet E,

You proudly (and somewhat hesitantly at times, as you were determined that 3 1/2 was a good place to be) turned four this summer and it seems that quite all of a sudden we have a new boy on our hands. Oh there are glorious bits of your 3 1/2 year old self that remain: that big big smile that lights up your eyes, that laugh of yours that can make the world still for a moment in its perfection, your early morning cuddles… and yet this turning four business has added a few new elements to this boy that we love so much.

You have a new confidence that is still quiet, but much more firmly in place. We avoided all scheduled activities last year, and even this past summer. I wasn’t keen to drag you to things you were only mildly interested in doing, and throwing off our sleep schedule (the blessed sleep schedule) in the meantime. But now you’re ready. Even with school you’re taking swim lessons, gymnastics (“the nastics” you say) and of course trekking to our little library every week for story and craft time. And you want to do all of it. It’s shocking. You’ve mostly gotten out of that “I don’t ever want to leave the house I just want to stay here here here and play” phase and you’re happy to go to all your scheduled activities (which seem necessary now – days without school feel very friendless I think to you), which of course require leaving the house. It’s not always easy, good God what is in parenting, but it’s not always difficult, which is a huuuuuge improvement.

E with his first two sewing projects: a snake stuffie and a pillow

You often ask what something means, and perhaps my favourite this month was an explanation of friendship. You couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a boat in the story.

Your love of music is still very much present. You learn songs ridiculously quickly and whenever we’re in the car I always have a notebook handy to record your latest “put this on my next CD” request. I let you watch Ellen one day and you exclaimed “Hey that’s Phillip Phillips! He sings Home!” That’s my boy. You immediately got your music face on and swayed to the goodness. You said you loved your first “concert.” Your ability to sing a song from something I’ve said is fabulous. I eat it up.

Ah Ah is still a much-loved member of our family, though he’s housebound now and only gets love at night and on long road trips. He’s a rare daytime playmate now, and Poosha, Det, Bet and Het have all but disappeared. You surprise me when you mention them now. I suppose they’ve been pushed out by real friends. Sorry, by humans. They were always real friends. New neighbours have brought a new friend for you – so close! – and you’re beginning to understand and look forward to (that last bit there I wasn’t sure would ever really roll around) playing with others. Time with your cousins in Toronto is glorious – three beautiful boys laughing and playing and running and jumping. Bliss.

You started school and it was so easy. So. Easy. I cannot even begin to explain the impact this had on my life. It was like you were given wings and oh my. You’re flying. That very first day you were ready for the bus and your enthusiasm and excitement was contagious. I didn’t have room for worry – my whole body filled to the brim with happy for you. And when dad and I went to pick you up at the end of that first day (your second full day, ever, away from me all day)? You were mad. Mad that we were standing there, an obstacle to your getting on that bus! again. So we got back into the car and met you at home. Watched you skip off that bus with a grin the size of your backpack. Your favourite part of every day? The bus.

I’m sure we’ll have rough days, days when you don’t want to go to school, but it’s every other day this year and so far you look forward to it every time. You love learning and that teacher of yours got you holding your pencil properly after just two days. I knew I gave up for a reason.

I love watching you in classroom-like settings. You’re a rule follower, an eager to answer student, a kid ready to share a story or an anecdote (when the librarian asked if anyone had a dog at home you immediately informed her that yes, you do, the poky little puppy – a stuffed one, you neglected to mention). You lean forward and soak up every story read, and remember all the details long afterward. You sing and dance with abandon and your favourite sing + dance song is the banana song (the one where you pick, pick, pick bananas). You were the only one in your class who knew what an author was – I’m so in love with the fact that you love books and libraries. Sigh. They are home to me.

And so without further adieu, a list, of all your favourite things at this beginning of fall when you are perfectly four:
~ Playing bad guys and spy cars – I don’t know how this came about. It certainly wasn’t my influence but there it is. Every spare minute filled with spy cars.
~ Your favourite of your approximately 50 Hot Wheels cars? Yellow spy car. Always.
~ Stories about BooBoo Head. Our fish who lives despite the fact that we rarely think of feeding him. He is the star of our stories. I started this one day with a quick tale about BooBoo jumping out of his tank for an adventure and now it’s a thrice-daily request. Even though I sometimes don’t feel like coming up with yet another fish adventure, I do – how can I say no to a story? You’ve become quite the storyteller yourself – whenever I’m stuck for an idea I ask you what happens next and it’s always something totally unexpected, generally fabulous, and almost always involving bad guys or spies.
~ Saying, “You don’ know? You better ax somebody!”
~ Purple
~ Eggs. Round (hard boiled), scrambled (that you cook yourself), in an omelet, poached… always eaten. Eggs benedict at Alternate Grounds is a frequent request.
~ Candy. This goes without saying, but Kinder Surprise eggs are your hands-down fave.
~ Lego.

And here’s my short(ish) list of favourites:
~ The way you say hospital and world and school. Hostabill and weorld and dool.
~ How being silly almost always pulls all of us out of a cranky situation/mood. It’s almost always the right answer.
~ That little boy body of yours. Soon you’ll grow out of that belly and you’ll be self-conscious when naked and so we’re soaking up four, the age of naked is best.
~ The I love you game, and the fact that you request it. Trying to outdo how far we love each other (Australia and Antarctica are faves)? So good.
~ Watching you write. The concentration required for those fingers of yours to find the proper spot on the marker, concentrate to remember or look at the letter, and recreate it is astounding and reminds me of just how little you really are.

“Baby monkey” written by E. Sometimes his E’s get crazy. Below baby was his first attempt at “B.”

~ Your first item of clothing rejection. You’ve never really cared much what you wear – the only request I can recall was soft pants. I laughed when you rejected your sesame street shirt. Who told you Elmo was for babies? Hilarious.
~ Your suggestions to donate your old baby toys to your friends baby sister.
~ That you know the words to The Gambler and Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys and when you sing them I get to soak up you and the memory of my dad strummin’ away on his guitar.
~ That you also like to sing that Jamaican song – “Pass the dutchie ‘pon the lef han side” – hilarious that there’s a youtube video of it

Perhaps my favourite thing about you is that you’re your own person. You rarely play with others at school (by your own account, though I find you an unreliable narrator), and your teacher described you as a sweet boy who enjoys his own company. I like that about you. Do your own thing my sweet. Now, always.

Love mama

sunday morning

pinned pork

Another recipe I discovered via Pinterest and oooo it’s a good one. Maybe my favourite homemade meal so far?

So good.

Crock Pot Asian Pork with Mushrooms
Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 7

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb lean boneless pork sirloin roast (aka pork center rib roast, pork center loin roast) – I used 3 pork tenderloins, which worked perfectly as well
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Non-stick oil spray
  • 1 cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp agave (or sugar)
  • 1 tsp hot sesame oil (aji oil)  (or use sesame oil + pinch red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice (I used McCormick)
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger root
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
  • noodles (I used vermicelli)

For topping:

  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

Season pork on all side with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat, spray with a little oil and brown the pork on all sides for about 7 – 8 minutes.
In the crock pot, combine the broth, soy sauce (or Tamari), balsamic, agave, sesame oil, Chinese five spice, garlic and ginger; add the pork and set the slow cooker to 8 hours on low. (My 3 tenderloins took just less than 2 hours – I’d suggest using a meat thermometer or check them periodically)


Thirty minutes before the timer goes off, remove the pork and set aside to rest a few minutes; add the mushrooms to the crock pot, cover and cook on low for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, shred the pork using two forks.
When the mushrooms are tender, add the shredded pork to the crock pot and mix well. If adding baby spinach, add at the end and cover a few minutes until it wilts.

Cook up your noodles according to package directions, and top the whole fabulous thing off with cilantro and scallions.

YUM

This is so very delicious, and also? Pretty, which is an added bonus. The cilantro and scallions are absolutely necessary in my books – they perfected this dish.

This one’s on our permanent menu for sure.

watch this and smile

If you haven’t seen this it’s so worth your five minutes. I laughed, I cried (for real).

wednesday words

It has taken me most of my life to learn how to inhabit a place, and I learned it, finally, by walking – up the hill and around the back side of our farm, day in and day out… My journey home was not a whirlwind excursion but a geological process: my soul mingling with the soil, step by step, over time.

~ From The Way Home by Christie Aschwanden (full article from the June 2012 issue of Oprah)

me + him

My husband, with his classic dance face, displayed randomly this weekend:

(I don’t really know what the point of this picture was but I kind of love it)

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