Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Booty

I hope that your holiday was as festive as ours. Sophia and I celebrated our first Christmas at home, in our pj's, with George. She will, one day, forgive us for not decorating but I'm sure it will only be after forking over a few paychecks to a lovely therapist some time in the distant future.

Geo and I were up early on Christmas morning and were blessed with some time to chat over warm breakfasty goodness while our dearest angel lay sleeping in the room above us. Just having him home and healthy (mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually) is something I'll forever be grateful for. It humbles me to think that other families that we have grown to know and care for spent this holiday without their loved one to help assemble toys, disagree on directions, or to share the spirit of family with.

When Soph finally realized that it was morning she slid out of bed and ran out to the balcony. We thought that we might be able to shuffle her past the living room and into the kitchen for some breakfast first but she was on to bigger and better things. Who needs food when you have toys that have yet to be licked??

After enjoying the better part of the morning playing we convinced her to come into the kitchen and have some eggs (Do you know that the girl eats 3-4 scrambled eggs each morning?....she out eats both Geo and I regularly!).

She wasn't coming, however, without bringing along some of her new toys. She settled on the heaviest of them all and toted her new dollhouse into the kitchen for some more playtime. She seems to especially enjoy trying to stuff the Dad into the crib-sized bed and tossing Jose' the Firefighter through the front door.

She is a blast to watch.

After breakfast we decided to venture out on a family walk. The weather was especially beautiful and Soph held her demands to be carried off for several miles.

Our usual landmarks include a covered bridge (we bypassed it for this trunkated walk due to the Mommer's enlarging belly and sore back), a creek, a large turkey, a very large pig, a few goats, and a house with a Beware of Cat sign.

The owners of the goats invite the community to step into their yard and greet the pets (as to not become a splatter of roadkill along the beautiful country road). Soph really, really enjoys this part of the walk. The bigger goats generally drop whatever they're doing and mosey on over to the fence to sniff the Peaster, lick her and try to nibble on anything possible. I haven't always had postive experiences with goats, but these are very kind, gentle and less smelly than your average goat.

We fishished the walk, took a nap and played for the remainder of the day.

Overall I'd say that our holiday was perfect.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing you and those you love a safe and joyous holiday season.

May the new year bring a renewed sense of peace, serenity and a new level of inspiration to your life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Birth At Home

Here is the link to a NY times slideshow that depicts that beauty and strength of homebirthing families in New York.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Wonders of Play Clay!

I was invited by the one of the owners of Earth Mart to do a series of lectures on Sustainable Family Living at the store. The series was not well marketed and attendance has been.....well....less than ideal. In any event, I've had time to shop around the store. During my last trip I picked up some Play Clay in the Cherry Berry scent. I was assured that it didn't taste good despite the delicious fruity scents.

The next night right before I attempted to cook dinner (always a challenging hour in our household) I pulled the Learning Tower over to the end of the counter top, threw on our trusty smock and let Soph explore with the clay. She played for over an hour and a half with the miracle toy. She, of course, started with a little taste and then decided that it was more fun to smoosh it between her fingers. It has been a lot of fun.

A small warning. The smell can be a bit overpowering. It is far more pleasant than the traditional PlayDough, but on a day when I had a headache the scent of the Cherry Berry Clay exaserbated my brain pain. If you have family members that are sensitive to scent or susceptable to headache or nausea, I'd stick with the home made stuff.

Here is a recipe:

Kid Friendly Play Dough
  • 1 cup flour (not self-rising)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Mix in saucepan over low heat. It does not have to heat very long.

Dough is ready when it rolls into a ball.

Keep dough fresh in an airtight container.

If you need to make different colors, add food coloring while mixing over heat.

I haven't tried it, but I suspect that you could add a few drops of essential oils to the mixture in place of a few drops of the vegetable oil if you were interested in having scented dough.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another "Tired, Crazy, Official Mom" Angered over Motrin Ad

Yes, I'm another "Tired, Crazy, Official Mom" that was terribly offended by the Motrin ad that was supposed to target the community of babywearing, Attachment Parenting parents (yep, that's Geo and I).

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at the advertising meetings. The whole table must have thought this ad was a good idea.

I can imagine raising children without cribs, exersaucers, bouncy chairs, pack-n-plays and all the other things that new parents are basically forced to believe that their children won't survive without, but I couldn't have done it without the slings! Wearing Sophia kept her close to my heart, gave me two hands to cook, clean and knit with, ensured that she maintained a safe body temperature, kept strange people from touching her, and most importantly it kept her happy. While sharing space, energy, and basically, mom's body, the parent-child pair learn each others cues and parents can more quickly respond to a baby's needs. Only good things come of wearing your child.

There are so many challenges to raising your children. I survived Geo's deployment with the help of a very long piece of cotton and I tied my beautiful daughter to my torso everyday and night. It practically became another article of clothing. It made single parenting manageable.

And I never took a pain reliever. The sling took a load off of my shoulders by evenly distributing the Pea's weight, and a load off of my heart because she was healthy and happy right next to me.

Edit: I'm adding a link to an interesting NYTimes piece.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holiday Cards for Wounded/Recovering Soliders

As the holiday seasons nears I start receiving email about the community's effort to support wounded or recovering soldiers. Before the heightened need for domestic security, families could address extra holiday cards to "Any Wounded Soldier" or "Any Recovering Soldier" and mail them off to Walter Reed and other military facilities, this is no longer an option.

Cards sent to "A Recovering American soldier" or similar will not be accepted by Walter Reed Army Medical Center and no soldiers will receive them.

There are, however, programs where cards can be sent. The American Red Cross has stepped in and started a Holiday Mail for Hero's program. Please reference the article below. It also includes a link to the Walter Reed website (where the article was published) and the correct address to mail your holiday cards to.


The American Red Cross is sponsoring a national "Holiday Mail for Heroes" campaign to receive and distribute holiday cards to servicemembers and veterans both in the United States and abroad.

Holiday Mail for Heroes, which began Tuesday, Veterans Day, is a follow-up to the 2007 effort that resulted in the collection and distribution of more than 600,000 cards to hospitalized servicemembers. This year's program will expand its reach to not only wounded servicemembers but also veterans and their families. The goal is to collect and distribute 1 million pieces of holiday mail.

"As we enter this holiday season-a time to celebrate with family and friends-it's important to remember the thousands of men and women who serve our nation in harm's way and those who are recovering in military and veterans hospitals," said Army Col. Norvell V. Coots, commander, Walter Reed Health Care System. "The Holiday Mail for Heroes program is a wonderful outreach effort and a great way to acknowledge the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform."

Holiday cards should be mailed to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD. 20791-5456

All cards must be postmarked no later than Dec. 10. Cards should not be mailed or delivered to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

For more information, visit or for Holiday Mail for Heroes program guidelines.Walter Reed is not accepting mail addressed to "A Recovering American Soldier."

Click for the original article, found on Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Website

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sometime The Little Things Seem So Big

The pure joy on Soph's face when she escapes the grasp of one of her chasing parents.

This picture kills me. She has been putting my shoes on and walking around the house. Something about this simple act made me realize how much she has already grown. Little teeny, tiny feets kicking against my internal organs :) Feeling your developing baby play in the warmth and comfort of your body is like a private blessing. Too small for the outside world to see or feel, it is an intimate bonding experience between Mom and Babe.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We're Seeing Pink

We decided to have a 21 week ultrasound. The testing provided us with a look at every lovely bone and perfectly shaped organ in our lil' Bean. Growth and development are right on target and everything look gorgeous (other than the little bugger looking like a sea monkey!).

We kindly decline most prenatal testing because we're healthy, low risk and many of today's tests are not medically necessary (this could be the subject of a doctoral thesis and is a point of contention between the medical system and those trained to provide assistance to low-risk birthing, lets save it for another post.) In any event, we had this ultrasound during both pregnancies in order to ensure that all was well inside "the bubble" and to decrease the possibility of a surprise immediately following the Bean's birth (in our spare room).

Sophia had a play date with several friends and we had our appointment while she floated around in a fairy costume for most of the morning. The ultrasound tech was very detailed and she noted each area of the Bean's body as Geo and I started at the screen with anticipation and amazement. As with most things, the output was much easier to read with some experience. After capturing photos of each organ and all important bones the tech asked if we were interested in knowing the gender of our little one and we both said "YES!" There was no question that we were interested. She bounced around my belly trying to get a good angle and showed us how our little angel ways positioned face down with his or her knees pinched shut. She tried for several minutes to convince Baby Schwartz to open up and let us peek.


We were asked to wait for the doctor, but she was guessing that it was a girl since she didn't see anything "poking out." After the longest 7 minutes of the day the doctor came in. He reviewed the findings and proceeded to scan around. At the end of his examination he was able to determine that our little sea monkey was a girl.

George is SO out numbered! (even the cat is a girl!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pictures for the Crowd

It has been a month since my last post and I have started to receive harassing emails. I've been neglecting my photo posting obligations. So here are a few photos of our Peaster enjoying the warmer fall days.

Even on the colder days she stands at the door and begs for one of us to take her outside. She is our nature girl, that 's for sure. She loves walking the neighborhood searching for new and interesting bugs, playing with the dogs across the street and splashing around in any available water.
She has a beautiful way of connecting with the world. Her innocent pleasure makes me appreciate some of the things that a busy life has hurried me past. She sees and hears things that adult ears have long tuned out and it isn't until she points to the sky and signs "airplane" that we actually hear the passing jet. There are so many things that she brings to our awareness. Everyday with Soph is like a lesson in living.

We're forever blessed by you, love.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Yes We Can :)

This post is dedicated to Mr. Kevin Powers.

We enjoyed visiting with you and the wonderful Donnice. Time between visits passes so quickly, we'll have to be more vigilant about scheduling time to get our families together and talk about politics and apricots.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This Face Could Sell Anything!

This is Sophia's commercial for Tofutti brand "cream cheese."

She can't have bread without something one it anymore...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

WARNING: Political Video...You may actually feel inspired

Since this is a family blog, I should mention that George is completely opposed to this type of campaigning.

I, on the other hand, and just energized by the ability of a political candidate to engage parts of the American public that have felt like their voice hasn't mattered in a long, long time. I'm inspired that people are actually excited about voting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Settling in

The lazy days of summer may have passed us by but Molly is making herself comfortable in her new home. In between being carried upside down from room to room, playing hide and seek behind the curtains and gleefully chasing Sophia and her red shoelace she finds some quiet time to rest and settle in.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Wet , Wet Saturday

The puddles were full this weekend thanks to the Tropical Storm blowing its way through the north. Sophia had no complaints though. She enjoyed slurping and swimming in the giant puddles.

This is our newest addition. It isn't the orange tabby named Patton that we planned on giving a happy home. The family that we were going to adopt Patton from changed their minds and we found this kitty at the SPCA in West Chester. She and a few other cats and kittens had been surrendered by an owner that couldn't take care of everyone. After a few days with the new kitty we've decided to name her Molly.

Patton was going to be named after General George S. Patton and there just aren't any tanker women in history to name a female cat after. We played around with a few girly names and decided to stick with the historical reference and call her Molly as a nod to Mary Hayes McCauly (better knows as Molly Pitcher). An artillery wife is as close as we could get.

Her first weekend at the Schwartz family was great. She made herself comfortable with Soph and the Mommer. Geo was drilling so she didn't meet the Dadder until Sunday evening. (I'm adding this as an edit to the original post...for those of you scratching your heads about the date). By bedtime it was conclusive:

George is allergic to Molly.

Oh the drama....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We're Growing....By Six Feet

We're spilling the beans.
The Schwartz family is growing.

In September we're growing by 4 feet.
(Or paws.)
We're welcoming Patton, a beautiful orange kitten.


In March 2009 we're growing by 2 teeny tiny feet.
We've hired our midwives and heard the Thump, Thump of another beautiful heart.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Vacation. Vacation. Sweet Vacation.

We were blessed with the good fortune to travel to Fort Fisher AP Recreation Area in Kure Beach, North Carolina this past week on vacation. We received a bit of rainfall thanks to Ms. Fay blowing north, but overall the week was beautiful. We spend lots of time enjoying the sun and sand on the beach.
Sophia enjoyed the surf this trip (as opposed to the screaming and tear filled moments in Florida earlier this year). She really enjoyed eating Veggie Booty and sand while lounging on the beach. The wind blowing softly against her bald head while she used all 10 of her teeth to grind down the sand to a find dust. The combination seemed to speed up the teething process as while we were there she cut two molars!!
During the week we visited my sister and her husband, who live just a few miles North near Wilmington. Amy runs a fancy, fancy boutique in the Historic Downtown District. Elixir (the fancy, fancy part of the description applies here. The jeans can cost as much as a car payment!) and Return Passage (where you can find some great bags and jewelry at consignment store prices!) If you're ever in the area Downtown Wilmington is a nice place to jaunt around for a while. I guess if you like history (and your wife will allow you, unlike Geo's lovely wife) you could spend endless hours looking at "old stuff."

Another adventure was visiting the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. I haven't gone to many aquariums in my life but this is my very favorite and a place that we'll return to on every Kure Beach vacation. The exhibits are magnificent. We especially enjoy the large tank at the beginning of the tour. The glass stands over 6 feet tall and you can smoosh your kiddy face against the glass to kiss the fish as long long as your are tall. During our last visit there was a scuba show in a breathtaking two story tall tank (pictured with the beautiful bride in front of it). The scuba guy, we'll call him Scuba Steve, came out to greet everyone in full gear. He swam with a magic note pad and communicated with the audience by writing notes and putting them up to the glass. The tank is filled with small sharks and other interesting sea creatures.!

Our trip home was longer than the one down. We decided to stay at a hotel in Virgina to make the trip a bit easier for Sophia. She didn't seem to appreciate the long drive down as evidenced by her staying up most of the night to "talk" with us about how disappointed she was in our decision to prepare her for bed and then pack her and the luggage into the car at 9pm and start our vacation travels early. The trip home was MUCH nicer.


Win a $250 Speesees organic cotton baby or toddler wardrobe from Nature's Child - Wholesome Goods for Mothers and Babies

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chief BerryFace

We met a friend and her little munchkins for folktales and Pick Your Own berries at Willow Creek Orchard today.

Oh did I learn a lot about toddlers and farms! We sat under a large tent and listened to folktales by David Joe Miller, a professional storyteller. He was entertaining for the older kids and adults but Soph was more excited about interacting with other kids her age.

After story time we ventured into the blackberry bush with baskets in tow. After about three feet Soph sat down with some Veggie Booty and decided that she preferred to have a picnic instead of picking berries. I was satisfied that she was engaged enough to allow for me to actually pick a few. After a few minutes she gave a shout that indicated that she was out of Booty and wanted to move on to something else......this is where I caught the first glimps of Chief BerryFace.

She HAD moved on to something else....the over ripe berries that had fallen from the vines onto the ground near her picnic spot. Ohhhhh...they felt soooo good being smoooshed between her fingers! She HAD to have MORE MORE MORE!(For the FULL effect click on the above photo and check out the red, blackberry stains that ran down her cheeks from rubbing her face......priceless)

We had so much fun. It was a great experience all around. Before weighing the berries I stripped her down and washed off the clumps in a small wash bin. She smiled and laughed the whole way home.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bursting with Blueberries

Soph and I are home alone this weekend while Geo is drilling. I was sure that I would get called to go to work, since it was possibly the least convenient weekend to find childcare and balance community commitments.....anyway, we got a great night of sleep following a fun filled day and to celebrate we made blueberry pancakes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce (Cooking Light, June 2007).
Oh was soooo good. I used some of the sauce in place of milk in the buttermilk pancake mix. The sauce made purple swirls and filled the pancakes with sweet blueberries.


I have enough sauce to share if you're interested....

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hanging Out On the Farm

Geo looks forward to the Kimberton Fair every year like kids look forward to waking up on Christmas morning to a living room full of carefully wrapped presents. Because he was off playing in Asia last year he missed the fair....but not this year!

I mean, what is there to NOT love? There is the huge 4H display with goats, several rabbits and cows. We spent most of out time in that tent playing with the baby goats. I think they'd make a lovely addition to our family! Don't you?

There is also plenty of fried foods to be had. Geo ate his body weight in french fries and I had some delicious fried veggies.

We also enjoyed the tractor display. George always points out the big Ford. " Ya know, hun, Pop drove one just like that up on the farm." But this year was especially special because there was a "Cubby" just like the beauty that my neighbor drive (and jump starts with is car battery) and it was proudly wearing a 1st place ribbon.

Mike, You're a winner in my book!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Enjoying the Summer

Hope you're enjoying all your picnic foods!

For me, one of the most exciting parts of the summer months are all the fresh foods available in my community. We're surrounded by healthy, organic farms that are treating the community, the Earth, their workers and their crops with love. It makes a huge difference in the outcome, if you ask me. The berries couldn't be sweeter and the vegetables are so ripe and juicy. I can't stop thinking about new ways to put the most amazing ingredients together in new and delicious ways.

Recently we tried the apricot tart from Everyday Foods (one of the most wonderful cooking magazines delivered to my door!). After a few minutes of nervous whisking over medium heat the corn starch did it's magic and I was left with a creamy custard (Whew!). I threw some organic blueberries on just because I saw them in the drawer.

The outcome was a big hit at dinner that night. I have to mention that I wasn't expecting the tart filling to be really custard-like. It tasted more like what you would find in a coconut cream pie. I was thinking more vanilla pudding. I think I'd prefer something a little bit lighter next time.

Sophia enjoyed licking the spoon....

I know that the warm summer months aren't typically spend baking bread but at my recent (childless!!!) trip to the local library I picked up "Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day" and have been baking bread daily ever since.

I can't rave loud or long enough about what an amazing book this is. It came highly recommended and I pass on the wisdom to you. There is even an informative website to accompany the book!! (Kate, don't rush out to buy it just yet!)

This was my very first loaf. Since then we've broken out Geo's baking stone and the loaves have become bigger and crustier and packed full of herbs.
And what goes with freshly baked bread? How about some delicious jam??

Monday, July 14, 2008

We're Doing A Happy Dance....So Should You

There is a Hi-Res version on the You Tube site that is much, much better.

The Schwartz Family

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Celebration of Freedom

George pointed out that I have been a blog slacker. No update since the last holiday....

Guilt is a great motivator.

(He swore that HE didn't mind the "vacation" but he was SURE that there would be relatives that were shaking their heads in disappointment the next time they pulled up the site and saw the same ol' same ol')...

I'll catch ya'll up...

Inspired by our Peaster, The Dadder and I have been quite the social butterflies this summer. We've visited several friends and have planned for several more visits.

"Schantzie" and his lovely, lovely family were the first. We partied on their back porch and chatted about their big move from Carlisle to Ft. Knox. They treated us to a delicious picnic dinner (including steak, chicken, beans with bacon(!!), corn and lots of bread).

It was here where Sophia first fell in love with the corn on the cob.

Next, we took a trip to New Jersey to visit with the Gartenberg family. They were still firmly planting their feet on the fertile US soil after several years of prancing around England (and I'm sure that Joel did it with one sock on). Dave's job took them from Washington to live among the proper several years ago. I hear that they're still recovering from the Bubble and Squeak.

On a more serious note...It was great to see, in living color, one of the most wonderfully supportive friends. Dave regularly wrote me emails during Geo's deployment, sending gems of parenting wisdom, humorous quips, and, even more wonderful words of support and encouragement.

On the very same day, Queen Crazy Herself invited several close friends over to the house for an afternoon of laughter, catch-up conversations, good foods and Sidecar drinks (you'll have to email Katie of Winter Foliage, for the specifics on her delicious version of this seriously adult beverage).

Next, we packed up our bags and grand plans and headed to "The River" for the Independence Day weekend. Geo and I have always excitedly planned out hiking and camping trips that dance across our summer calenders. We both love hiking, camping, breathing-in-the-fresh-morning-dew, coming home with the smoky smell of campfire.

Really. We dream about new places to explore. Break open crisp (and well loved, not-so-crisp) maps and plot our adventures.

Back to the story. We packed up and headed due north to The River. After a visit with my parents' we hit the road and the rain. After discussing what the night might look like if Sophia were wet or soggy we opted for the Holiday Inn Express for a dry night of sleep. In the morning we were shocked (while munching on the free cinnamon bun breakfast) that there was rain in the forecast until 10 July.

Our plans changed.
We spent the day playing at The River and visiting with my grandfather (who taught me to hunt for "Night crawlers" and fish for Bass during my childhood summers at The River). George enjoyed time with his face in some good reading and a stick poking around the fire. I, of course, knit the day away.

Sophia played hard and had a blast splashing around. So much so that she took an unheard of 3.5 hour nap during the afternoon.
It has been a lovely, albeit busy, summer thus far. I'm looking forward to some more baking and some jarring. We have already enjoyed some fresh baked pretzels (recipe from The Simpler Life Cookbook by Arrowhead Mills, published in the early 70's) and I'm dreaming about the smell of bread baking in the house while we sip fresh lemonade in the backyard.

Have a great week!

And get some rest!!