Wednesday, August 26, 2015

One Perfect Day in Yosemite (with kids)

We went to Yosemite this month with my BFF Whitney and her family. What was conceived as an entire week camping with friends eventually became just a day trip for us, but that narrative is part of a much larger theme for 2015, which is, “make travel plans, and then cancel them a few months later.” I’m glad we didn’t cancel this trip because it was a day I’ll remember forever and (I hope) the beginning of a freaking sweet family tradition.

The itinerary was pretty light, but it was great for three kids under four.
4:00 a.m. Leave home
7:30 Arrive, eat breakfast donuts, explore Yosemite Village
9:00 Walk to Lower Yosemite Falls
11:30 Eat lunch at Ahwahee Hotel
1:00 Hike to Mirror Lake and play in the water
3:30 Drive to Tunnel View
4:30 Set up campsite, roast s'mores, take pictures
6:00 Drive home
(The Royals camped there for a couple more days)

On the way home, I held this polaroid in my hands and thought about how perfect the little picture was. I love the way Jack stares at these little Royal faces, their matching t shirts, how we can see Chris standing to the side, the trees, the mountains. I felt stupid for setting up the shot in such terrible lighting, but after a while I reminded myself what I love the most about polaroids: this picture is the only one like it in the world, and it’s mine.

I feel the same way about our itinerary. Sure, we could have made some logistical changes I guess, but at the end of the day, this whirlwind adventure was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us. That was the only day like that we’ll ever have, and that’s what made it so perfect.

b perry

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Perry Picture Books: Board Books

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Jack has a very simple decision tree. "Can I frantically lunge after it? THEN YES! I'LL PUT IT IN MY MOUTH!" This behavior is adorable when it's tiny pieces of food. It's terrifying when it's nickels or plastic bags or garbage off the streets.

Actual question: when does the IN MY MOUTH phase end? In a year? In two years? The point is, I assume we will be reading board books together until Jack is willing to negotiate through a more sophisticated decision model. In the meantime, he deeply believes books are delicious.

b perry

Jack's Favorites
because they're very hands-on

Baby Animals (Touch and Feel)
This is his favorite right now. He loves to pet the bunny, open the cover, pet the bunny, close the cover, pet the bunny... Unlike many other feely books, the fur hasn't shed even a little, which is lucky because otherwise this bunny would be bald.

Hidden Treasures by Val Chadwick Bagley
This has flaps on every page that he loves to open and close. Plus, you know, scripture study for babies.

In My Meadow by Sara Gillingham
There is a whole series of these books, but Jack's favorite is the bunny. He loves to help the puppet bunny eat strawberries and take a sip from the stream.

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Charles Reasoner 
Does this book fit into my design sensibilities? No. But the layered edges help Jack turn the pages, and he chooses this one first almost every time. I would happily pick up a few more from this series because he is always entertained.

Tails by Matthew Van Fleet
Sure, he’s ripped out both of the foxes’ tails, but he Laugh Out Loud LOVES this one. I think it would be fun to get Van Fleet's Heads book and then keep Heads and Tails together on the shelf. 

That’s Not My Duck by Fiona Watt
I don’t know what it was about this book, because it's so simple but Jack was always so calm when we read this one, so for his first six months this was easily the most read book in our house.

Wiggle! March! by Kaaren Pixton
Not technically a board book, but we can read this one together without fear, and he thinks animal noises are hilarious.

Classics in Board Form
We also have a small collection of classics we read a lot because they're MY favorites. I like having these because they are loved-precious but not delicate-precious.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Goodnight Moon
Are You My Mother?
Moo, Baa, La La La

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Perry Picture Books: First Year Favorites

Reading together over the last year has been the best. It’s cuddly, it’s giggly, and I just can’t get enough of it. We've had to switch to board books exclusively because homeboy loves to turn the pages by ripping them apart, but we put considerable mileage on the picture books up until a few weeks ago.

When I moved our picture books onto a safer shelf I got a little wistful, and wanted to write up a list of my favorite, most frequent reads. I'm not saying any of these are hidden gems (although Chris had never heard of Corduroy. Corduroy!), I'm just saying I loved them. Jack doesn't proffer his stances on the quality of the plots or nature of the illustrations, so let's be honest, this is a list of the books that I loved reading again and again.

He actually does have opinions about board books though, so I'll post a quick list of our board books tomorrow. But today, it's my favorite picture books from Jack's first year.

b perry

Corduroy by Don Freeman
The first time I read this to Jack I couldn’t make it through the last page because I was crying. “I like you just the way you are, but you’ll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap fastened.” Childhood. Friendship. Emotions.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems
This is Chris’ favorite. We also have The Pigeon Needs A Bath, and some of the Pigeons’ dialogue hits a little too close to home. Poor Brittney, never wants to sleep, never wants to shower.

Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) by Josh Schneider
Jack always cracks up when we say, “But not Fred.” Plus there is an illustration where one of the pigs has a “Chris” tattoo, so obviously we had to buy it.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett 
I loved Jon Klassen's illustrations and I love the message of serving others. Bonus book: I also love Klassens illustrations in Lemony Snicket’s The Dark.

Imogene’s Antlers by David Small
I grew up reading this book about acceptance, and it’s even cuter now than it was twenty years ago, and Jack always laughs when Imogene's mother faints away.

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
Teaching compassion through cupcakes? Yeah. This one’s a winner.

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt 
We renewed this one from the library so many times we just bought it because, “Britt. You are scaredy squirrel. This is you.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Weekends in SF

They say you should be a tourist in your hometown, and if you live in Battle Mountain, Nevada, the worst city in America, then you’re out of luck. Literally any other city is fair game. Luckily it's easy to be tourists here since San Francisco is an actual travel destination. For us this means taking little day trips to explore new places together.

Historically, Chris and I have not spent much time in San Francisco because with the traffic, the parking, the being-around-other-people, it doesn’t feature prominently at the top of our list. But one July day, we walked into our muggy house and Chris said, “That’s it, we’re going to the coldest place in the Bay.” We got into the car and drove straight to Twin Peaks. It was cool and blustery, and Jack was entertained for the entire afternoon. That was the beginning of a family tradition that has revolutionized our weekends.

Twin Peaks
We had never actually walked up these peaks before. We've driven there a dozen times but never left the lookout point. The hike was quick, easy, and most importantly, cold.

Fort Funston

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Food of Love

tomatoes from farmer brown's garden

Last year, cherry tomatoes sprouted next to our house. We didn’t plant them, we didn’t put up tomato cages, we barely watered them, but there they were like the blessed Garden of Eden. I ate scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and tomatoes for breakfast every single day all summer. My gestational diabetes nurse tried to convince me I could diversify my breakfast menu, but she was wrong, and that’s why Jack was born one-third tomato.

That summer, every morning Chris walked to that little patch, picked a handful, and washed them. Then they waited on our kitchen counter until I eventually woke up to eat. Shakespeare opens Twelfth Night with a theory about music being the food of love, and I hate to contradict the Bard, but food is the food of love. And more specifically, every morning when I walked into the kitchen, I knew the food of love was cherry tomatoes.

This year we’ve had cherry tomatoes on chicken pesto sandwiches like a billion times. Obviously this sandwich is best with summer tomatoes, but no one likes to run the oven when it’s too toasty outside. So. Know thyself, etc. So these are some chicken pesto sandwiches that are NBD to make if you already have pesto on hand.

Eat on,

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Club Snacks

In my experience, book club is basically an excuse to throw a low-maintenance themed girls night. The women in my group are impressive and kind and always thoughtfully read the book whatever the selection, so I don’t feel a ton of pressure to choose the perfect book. No, for me the real secret to book club is coming up with clever and delicious snacks. I’m pretty sure that’s the secret to any club. So I made a list of a dozen of my favorite book/snack combinations below!

b perry

Books and food pairings I actually used when it was my turn for a book selection
  • Dandelion Wine: In this book dandelion wine is one of the rites of summer. So I choose Gravenstein apple cider since that is one of my rites of fall.
  • Dad is Fat: Jim Gaffigan has this bit about kids snacks that are healthy in no way, but they’re “organic” so we somehow feel better. I went to Trader Joe’s and bought four kinds of organic kids crackers and cookies. 
  • The Trouble With Poetry: Ideally, you’d serve coffee for this poetry reading, but since we don’t drink coffee I brought a bunch of other drinks you could get at a coffee shop 
  • Upstairs at the White House: a small snacking spread including fruit gushers, since this book was written by the White House chief usher. 
  • As You Wish OR The Princess Bride (which Chris and I read together and then had a date night in where we ate these snacks and watched The Princess Bride) Chips of insanity, mutton lettuce tomato sandwiches, bottle of wits (IBC root beer) chocolate cake balls shaped like a Miracle Max pill, and peanut (Princess) buttercups.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Grandma's House

Please note: not a single picture of our mothers in this photo batch. I don’t know how I let that one slide… but there is a picture of Great Grandma Stokes, so that’s something.

Cinnamon raisin toast smells like my Grandma Horman. Well, not her exactly, but that smell transports me to some quiet early morning in the deep 1990’s, when it was just me and my Grandma having breakfast at her big kitchen table. My Grandma Stokes, on the other side, smells like browning butter. Whenever I’m making a roux at home, if I close my eyes I can see her standing by the oven in her slippers making pancakes or toffee or caramel (butter is the glorious beginning to most of her signature treats). 

We’ve taken Jack to the motherland before, but on this particular trip I was extra aware of the tastes and sounds and smells that will become his childhood memories at Grandma’s. I don’t know what will remind him of his grandmothers, but he’ll have a lot of great options. It may be the taste of chocolate chip cookies, the way the desert smells when it rains, or the sound of the grand pianos. And I know it’s a silly thing to wonder about, but just the thought of it makes life feel fresh and sweet to me. 

b perry