easter

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It took me awhile to get back to the photos from Easter weekend. As I’ve mentioned before, the holiday itself is a pretty emotional one for us still. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my niece, but everything is brought into sharper focus when we visit family for the weekend.

We did the regular Easter traditions – each girl decorated a dozen eggs, and then they collectively decorated another dozen for Erin. I love how our family includes these rituals and remembrances of her so naturally into the events of the day; that feels more comfortable to me in the moment – it’s much harder to look at photos after the fact and see how glaring the missing is.

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I still take the pictures, but I don’t enjoy it. I’m not sure if I ever will again. It feels a little too much like a dare. Can we get this same photo next year? The year after that?

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Maybe it will always feel like a documentation of loss. Still, I look at this photo below and it does make me smile in this way that twists my heart a bit. I want to write something here about the way those girls are holding onto one another, and what I see when I look at their eyes and their smiles, but I can hardly see the keys to type through my tear-filled eyes.

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I wish I could just get out of my head for a bit and let the photos just be Easter photos, not something so loaded and missing.

…..

On the Saturday of our trip our family went to visit Erin’s playground. It’s the first time I’ve seen it in person. It’s the first time I’ve been in that hospital, and I hate hospitals as much as I hate funeral homes and cemeteries and churches after funerals. I don’t really want to be in those places where she was because I feel powerless and helpless and overwhelmed with sadness. I have to push that all into the pit of my stomach and get over it. It’s a gorgeous spring day after a long winter, and I want to see this place with the people I love.

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When I think back to the piece I wrote in January where I tried to describe the idea of widening the backdrop of this life a bit – well, I feel it here, in this courtyard.  When I watch her parents and her sister walk through that hospital and out to the playground, I can hardly believe how strong and courageous they are. Tackling a project of this magnitude forced them to uncurl a tiny bit from their own overwhelming pain, demanded that they repeat their story again and again, even when they still didn’t want to believe that it was true, required them to show up countless times, around great groups of people celebrating the very girl that would have been the life of the party if luck had fallen the way it should have. We know how this should have ended. And when it didn’t, they rewrote their story in the bravest, most selfless way possible.2015-04-04_1428181023
I see the daily notes they receive from people with loved ones in hospital rooms that overlook this beautiful space. They thank Erin for her gift, and her family for their perseverance. I see the blood drives they organize, the donations they gather for the other cancer patients, the fundraisers they manage and attend, their willingness to sit on advisory boards to make hospital stays easier for future patients, the messages of encouragement and support that they send out daily to the network of other children embroiled in the same battle they were fighting, their dedication and commitment to widening the backdrop of their daughter’s life and smile. It’s a gift to us too, and I’m grateful for that.

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We miss you, sweet girl.

happy earth day

We did it – we made it to the garden this morning before school!

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It was a chilly morning, but the sun came out around seven and I’m so glad we went. On the way back to school, the two of us plotted out ways to make our garden mornings work – F wants to figure out a way to bring our oatmeal to the garden so she can walk around with a spoon in her hand and eat while she explores. I like her thinking.

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There are so many animals out when the place is empty. We tried to get some photos of all the birds we watched, particularly one saucy little cardinal in the Ottoman garden, but the only photo that turned out was the one of these sun-lazy ducks. We have two more chapters of The Secret Garden to read, and it’s like the story comes alive in this place.

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It was pretty exciting to watch more lantern pieces being unwrapped. Sort of hard to leave, but F has a Teaching Peace Parade at school later this morning to look forward to.

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What a beautiful world we live in, what a beautiful little corner of it we call home. Happy Earth Day to you.

let’s eat: on the menu

On the Menu
The week after Easter wasn’t really a stellar week in the kitchen. We got home from traveling so late on that Sunday night, and we never really recovered. We ate out and ordered in a lot. We vowed to do better the next week.

Sunday afternoon we divided up our errand running, and hit two grocery stores between us because we were out of everything. On Sundays I like to make something that I can’t necessarily pull off on a weeknight, and I also like to make something that will generate some leftovers to start the week because I love leftovers for lunch.

These Baked Chickpeas with Pita Chips and Yogurt were perfect. I soaked the chickpeas for a few hours, and then threw them in the oven for a long bake and did some other things.

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When they were nearly done, I made the rest of the components – toasted pita chips, cucumber-tomato-red onion relish, tahini yogurt, roasted pine nuts… it seems like a lot of dishes, but they were all very simple to put together.

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The results were well worth it. I highly recommend this recipe. (You can even use canned chickpeas if you want, although I loved using the dried ones.) The recipe makes a lot, which is great, because this is what I had for lunch all five days of the week. I never got tired of it.

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Last week also involved a lot of travel / meeting juggling, and Monday night the girls had dinner at the sitter’s while M was out of town and I had some late night meetings. Tuesday night we were all home together again and we had the Scrambled Egg Puff Pastries that we eat at least once a month.

Wednesday we had a Blue Apron box. I was really excited to have it this week because it does reduce the amount of planning and grocery shopping for the week. We had Spring Bucatini Pasta with Pea Tips, Asparagus and Mint.

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Thursday’s dinner was the standout dinner from Blue Apron – Oven Braised Tandoori Cauliflower with Garlic-Spinach Rice and Mint-Lime Sauce. If that sounds even remotely good to you, I’d check out the recipe. I knew the cauliflower was going to be delicious, but I didn’t expect for the dish to be as amazing as it was. The sauce on top was chopped cilantro and mint together, mixed with honey and lime juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Incredible. Especially on a regular Thursday night.

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Friday night M had a dinner for a volunteer event he does every April. The girls and I hit up Five Star Burgers for dinner, chocolate shakes for appetizers.

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Saturday night we made the last Blue Apron Meal – Miso Tofu Shirataki Noodles with Roasted Eggplant and Nasturtium Leaves. This dinner was decent, but I’m really the only one in the family that loves eggplant. I’m not sure everyone else was overly impressed. Still, I love the variety of the meals, and I really feel like I learn something new with each recipe. And I’ve never cooked with shirataki noodles or nasturtium leaves, although it was funny to see the leaves on top of dishes in our local food magazines. They must be very “in” this season.

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Back around to Sunday dinner.  I should probably wait and include this in next week’s roundup, since we menu planned and picked up new ingredients on Sunday afternoon. I wanted to make a cake that M and I have been eyeing for a few weeks, so I kept dinner fairly simple. I decided to make a choice of toasts with a loaf of country bread from Whole Foods (my new favorite toasting bread). I made the Avocado and Six-Minute Eggs (again, I know), and I also made the Roasted Grape and Olive Crostini from Smitten Kitchen. I made that recipe right before Christmas, and if you missed seeing Deb’s post on that recipe because of the holidays, it’s worth a revisit. I doubled it this time, and we’re snacking on it as a side dish with our dinners this week.

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Then I made another Smitten Kitchen recipe – her Carrot Graham Cracker Layer Cake. My sister’s birthday was yesterday – she was due on my birthday but came thirteen days late, so we almost share a birthday. Even though we’re several hundred miles away, I thought it would be fun to eat cake and celebrate with her from a distance. This cake was delicious – a great spring cake for a nice spring month of birthdays.

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I hope you find something good on your menu this week. If you’re eating anything fantastic, please share!