Sunday, January 27, 2008


::Spiced pancakes with pineapple on top :: Playing the violin :: Drawing the violin :: Turning the living room into a boat :: Dancing in the bathtub ::

Saturday, January 26, 2008


guitar, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
I think he looks a bit Beatlesque. John reminds me of his sister lately. He loves to dress up and dance or play an instrument. He loves harmony and Gregorian chanting, and of course speed banjo. Ella's school went to see the Cassatt String Quartet on friday morning, and he has been playing the violin--one finger playing the four opposite fingers.
He talks up a storm,well, for him it is a storm, even requesting his peanut butter and jelly sandwich "whole" at lunch today. Yesterday we were reading some Sesame Street board books, and I realized that he has Ernie and Bert confused. And Bert's name is Burp.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

girl power

We got back our amnio results this morning, and Miss Ruby is chromosomally perfect and 100% girl. To celebrate we went out for Mexican food and the big reveal. Ella was happy and surprised. She was perhaps most thrilled with the fact that it is a girl, and that there will be three girls and two boys in the family. Her first question was, "When are Granny and Grandmarie coming?"

Monday, January 21, 2008

miso salad dressing

1/2 cup roughly chopped yellow onions
1/2 pound extra firm tofu
1/4 cup miso
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cup chopped parsley
1 cup water

process until smooth. keeps five days in the fridge. addictive. eat on salads, steamed vegetables, potatoes, or grilled fish.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

john's first sentence

Can you guess it? "I am Bob" (the Builder) He used a slighly incredulous tone thate made it especially hilarious. He has been gaining new words practically every day since the start of the holidays.

New Years Resolution Number Two

Number Two kind of expands on number one, but we are giving up conventional fruits and vegetables on the dirty dozen list. I better finish my New Years resolutions by the time January is over. When is spring? I want to eat a salad grown by someone I know.

Highest Pesticide Residues
Bell Peppers
Imported Grapes

*highest residues among the samples

Lowest Pesticide Residues

Sweet corn
Sweet peas

Saturday, January 19, 2008


self, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I was pregnant at the beach so many months ago, and seeing this old photograph made me think of taking some pictures of my expanding belly. And now we have made it to nineteen weeks today.

The belly is a bit beyond looking like I had a few too many Christmas cookies, but I can still fit into some regular clothes. The morning sickness is gone for the most part. The children's back to back stomach bugs were a challenge. Yesterday John went through about twenty diapers full of yellow stinking foam, but that was better than Ella's six days of random projectile vomiting. Those are truly the trenches of motherhood.

I was at Target the other day and allowed myself to walk down the baby aisle for the first time. I bought a package of white onsies with rose patterns and a pale pink and brown striped boppy cover. Liz has me excited about cloth diapers and making my own diaper covers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


snowman, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

snow day

Ella has her long johns on under her jeans, and there is a surprise Flexible Flyer in the car. A friend of ours back in Portland gave Ella a pair of size 2 pink Sorel snow boots that she found at the thrift store. Five years and five moves later she is finally wearing them today.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

cleaned the paint right off the wall

In my first attempt to get the house together ..i.e.sanitary since Thanksgiving I decided to bleach some mildew from the ceiling above the bathtub. If bleach touches paint it will have to be painted. Hooray.

I scrubbed all the floors and toilets. I haven't mentioned that Ella threw up about six times this week. I'm not sure if I'm disgusted or have the beginnings of some sort of nesting. My attempts at organizing the children's art supplies today made me downright pissed off. We have more stuff than I even imagined. Our basement playroom looks like a toystore exploded in there. I'm going to work on it again tomorrow. It just feels out of control.

She doesn't need a crayon, pencil, or pen until college.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


ruby, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


It is a girl!

I had a fetal echocardiogram today because of John's heart problems, and the cardiologist got some good pictures and pronounced her "normal". I also had the level II ultrasound this afternoon and everything looked normal. I had an amnio as well. I am forty one and would like to spend the next five months enjoying my pregnancy instead of worrying. I often wish I was one of those women who have no tests and give birth in their vegetable garden, but for me a bit of science is reassuring.

I've asked little John a few times if the baby is a boy or a girl, and he has always said, "Gael". He is so smitten with Tess and Phoebe that I think girl will fit into our family nicely. Two years ago when Ella found out she was having a brother she was a bit devastated, so hopefully this will be the girl she was hoping for.

Monday, January 07, 2008

mind spinning

So, my ob/gyn is a very quiet inobtrusive middle aged man with three children. When I was pregnant the last time he used to do ballet positions with three year old Ella during my exams and teach her knock knock jokes. To be honest he is the only doctor I've had as an adult who actually seems to make a genuine human connection with people. The other day when I was there we were talking about my level II ultrasound on thursday. There was a med student there from the osteopathic college,and the doctor comes over and gives me a hug and says, "We will be praying for you."

How strange is that?

ligurian farro, bean, and chickpea stew

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, 1 crushed, 1 minced
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 cup farro or wheatberries, 4oz soaked overnight
1 1/2 cup chickpeas (1/2 pound soaked overnight)
1 dried red chile
1 1/2 cup cranberry beans (soaked overnight and drained)
salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly grated pecorino romano cheese

In a large pan heat 1/4 cup olive oil, add garlic and onion and cook for five minutes.
Drain farro and chickpeas and add to saucepan with chile, add water to cover generously. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook over low heat until chickpeas are almost tender, 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and continue simmering until completely tender, 20 minutes.

While this cooks, in a separate pan cook the cranberry beans until tender, 2 hours. Transfer 2 cups of the cooked beans to a bowl and mash to a coarse puree and return to the saucepan.

Drain chickpeas and farro. Discard chile. Return to one large saucepan. Add cranberry beans with their liquid and minced garlic and simmer. Simmer with salt and pepper, stir well. Add a bit of smoked paprika. Serve in hot bowls passing olive oil and grated cheese.

So, this soup is nothing but beans, wheat, water, and some seasonings. It is so rich and wholesome and earthy, and I've got to make it again this weekend.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

resolution number one--organic strawberries

January moves forward and I haven't really contemplated the traditional New Year's resolutions beyond those involving having a healthy baby. Topping the list though is strawberries and berries in general. No more conventionally grown fruits. I don't buy them at home, but I have often turned a blind eye in restaurants or other people's homes. The levels of pesticide found in these fruits has got to far outweigh the benefits of eating the fruit, and because the berries sprayed at different times in their development the poisons aren't rinsed off with a quick spray in the sink.

Peggy Mars of Earthbound Farms says," Although those conventional strawberries may look as lovely, there are definite differences. A typical grower of conventional strawberries may use methyl bromide, chloropicrin, Captan, malathion, Diprom, Vendex, Kelthane, and Avermectin to bring a crop of strawberries to market (371 pesticides are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on strawberries). Any of these may show up in your strawberry basket in the form of legally allowable pesticide residues. On occasion, residues are found to exceed even current legally allowable tolerances, the safety of which has been called into question by Consumers Union and other reputable groups, especially for children. "

There is a balancing game in this as well. I can just hear big girl saying, "I don't eat poisonous strawberries." She has a school friend who is not allowed to eat cake or snacks at birthday parties and I always feel a bit sorry for him to be so obviously excluded from blue cupcakes or sprinkles. Of course, my teeth feel like they are melting when I see my own children biting into those colorful swirls of processed and sugared fat. The mama I am thinking of tells her son and others that he is "allergic" to so many things that she has to bring "special", ie, organic, food for him. I'm wondering if there is a middle ground; I'll be offering to bring a platter of fruit to every party. I do like making those carved watermelon baskets.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we'll be able to buy a CSA fruit share this summer to go along with our weekly vegetables. Until then, there are lots of organic choices at the local supermarket. They do cost a little more, but isn't it worth it?

Friday, January 04, 2008

ob appointment

I had my first post pneumonia ob appointment today--very reassuring. All measuring well and with a galloping little heartbeat.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

having a big time

Hope yall have been keeping up with Hillbilly Savants lately. I love this post about a local song played during this time of year. I was thinking about it today as I was trying to clear the house of wrapping paper and cardboard boxes.

Hooray Jake, hooray John
Breakin’ up Christmas all night long
Santa Claus come, done and gone
Breaking up Christmas right straight along
Don’t you remember a long time ago
The old folks danced the doesey-doe

I cooked my pot of blackeyed peas today and made some stewed tomatoes, Scott Peacock's recipe with the buttered toast on top from this month's Gourmet.

i'm going in

im going in, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Christmas, yes there was Christmas. Ella isn't in too many of these pictures because apparently she couldn't keep her nightgown down in the unwrapping frenzy. She was there, I promise.

Santa brought Ella the fairy treehouse that she had actually prayed for, but she was quite nonchalant about it. She says, "Oh, there is that treehouse that you love, mama". John got a wooden workbench and all sorts of wooden tools and a toolbelt. His word for it all, "BOB". Ella was thrilled to get a Quadrilla marble run and architectural castle blocks. I'm still wondering where it is all going to go.