Mar 31 2013

Happy Easter!


This year we used vegetable dyes to make our Easter Eggs. Some of the recipes worked better than others: the red cabbage, turmeric, and yellow onions made beautifully colored eggs. The red onions and beets, on the other hand, resulted in muddy brown eggs. Most importantly, though, mixing up the vegetable dyes was fun. The boys both really got into the whole process of chopping, boiling, stirring, and straining to cook up the dyes. We’ll probably do it again next year.

This morning we had our hunt, which was successful: a full dozen eggs were stalked and laid low by our intrepid hunters.

spoils of the hunt

And several of the eggs were promptly skinned, gutted, and made into sandwiches. We believe in eating what we hunt!

Nanita and Marqueño are on hand again for a few days, to visit with the baby, so they’ll join us tonight for our Easter dinner. I always make “agnello all’araba” (Arabian lamb) from The Silver Spoon Cookbook. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but very delicious. This is a version I’ve adapted slightly to reflect the “salt as you go” philosophy that I’ve picked up from reading Judy Rodgers. (I also switched from kosher salt to sea salt at her recommendation, and I think it makes everything taste better.)

Agnello All’Araba

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season two and a half pounds of boneless lamb cubes liberally with salt, and slice up three onions thinly.

In a small pot, heat up one cup of stock—any kind, or even just water in a pinch. When it’s hot, take a hefty pinch of saffron threads (if your saffron comes in half-gram envelopes, use the whole envelope) and crush them up using a mortar and pestle, or just your fingers. Stir the bruised saffron into the hot water or stock along with two tablespoons of honey and a pinch each of ground cumin, ground ginger, and salt. Keep it warm over low heat.

Meanwhile, put a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add four tablespoons of olive oil and, when, hot, the onions. Sprinkle them with salt and saute until soft, then move the onions to a roasting pan. Return the now-empty skillet to high heat and brown the lamb cubes, in batches if necessary to ensure that they get a nice crust. Add the browned lamb to the roasting pan. Pour your seasoned water or stock over the meat, cover with aluminum foil, and roast in the oven for an hour.

While the lamb roasts, blanch 3/4 cup pitted, brine-cured green olives in boiling water for five minutes, then drain. Toast 3/4 cup slivered almonds in a small pot or skillet over high heat, removing them from the stovetop as soon as they’re fragrant and beginning to brown.

When the meat has cooked for 50 minutes, take the roasting pan out of the oven, add in the olives and almonds, give everything a good stir, and put it back in the oven for the final ten minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle the meat with fresh chopped cilantro and a generous amount of fresh-ground pepper. (Also, taste a little bit to see if it needs more salt, but it probably won’t.) The Silver Spoon Cookbook notes: “As a side dish, we suggest fresh fava beans boiled in water for 15 minutes, then tossed with butter.”

Mar 29 2013

Two Quick Pics



Mar 26 2013

Morning, with Baby

This baby curled into me is so little and warm, and he smells so nice. Every now and then he makes a tiny sound and my heart clenches.

Robin and Davy asked for, and were given, pickles and cold pizza for breakfast. They are now running around the house in their pajamas. The TV is on but is being ignored (limits on screen time have been placed in abeyance). This week is spring break for the boys, so no school; Sam is home on paternity leave for the next six weeks. It feels like the world is in suspension. Everything revolves around the rhythms of Sol. He is our tiny sun and center.

Mar 25 2013

Announcing John Solomon Phillips



He’s here! Baby Sol was born on Sunday, March 24 at 5 pm, weighing a hefty eight pounds two ounces. The labor was straightforward (he came in literally two minutes of pushing) and he’s looking great—nursing well and showing every sign of thriving. We brought him home today to two very interested older brothers and one big puppy (also very interested, but so far not allowed to do anything more than give the baby a thorough sniff). Robin said, “I’ll teach the baby how to walk and talk! Sol, when you are hungry, say ‘Please make me a sandwich.'”

It’s a good start.

Mar 21 2013

Overdue and Crabby

I am now responding to all inquiries about the baby with a dramatic impression of the little raincloud that hangs over Eeyore’s head.

My adjusted due date was yesterday—and that was already pushed back a week from the original due date—so I have this sense that I’ve been pregnant forever. And it will never end. There will never be a baby, only endless, endless bouts of Braxton Hicks contractions and backaches and an inability to pick things up off the ground or get comfortable at night or wear jeans or walk at anything approaching a reasonable pace. And everybody will be so disappointed in me.

So if you want to know if there is a baby yet, imagine the little black raincloud is giving you your answer.

Mar 11 2013


My mom was married today, to her friend and partner of many years, Mark Esarey:


Welcome to the family, Mark! I’m glad you two wild and crazy kids have finally settled down. May you have long and abundant years of happiness together.

The newlyweds are planning a honeymoon in scenic, romantic Oakland, which is of course world-renowned as the “City of Love.” No, wait, it’s mostly renowned as the “City of Crime.” But maybe mom and Mark will start a new trend! Anyway, we are very much looking forward to celebrating with them and delivering our best wishes in person.

Mar 10 2013

In Sickness and in Health

Well, it has just been the season of seven plagues around here. Thursday evening both Robin and Davy came down with sudden bouts of vomiting. We suspected food poisoning at first, because they seemed to improve with a day of rest on Friday, but on Saturday Robin developed sores on his tongue. That makes hand, foot, and mouth disease the leading culprit: it’s very common among kids, and despite the somewhat-alarming name it’s not a scary illness. It just takes about a week to run its course, and the only treatment is the standard rest-and-fluids.

The interesting thing about hand, foot, and mouth disease is that healthy adults almost never get it. I got it hard.

The immune system is suppressed during pregnancy, to prevent the mom’s body from attacking the baby as a foreign parasite, and I’m still feeling the lingering effects of our last round of viruses, so I’m very immunocompromised right now. Essentially I’m a sitting duck for any hostile organisms floating around. Last night I spent absolutely the worst ten hours I can remember in a long, long time, running for the bathroom every 10-15 minutes, unable to hold anything down despite what developed into a tormenting thirst. On top of all that the constant vomiting triggered another bout of contractions, which thankfully didn’t turn into actual labor because I don’t know how I could’ve possibly handled it. Meanwhile Sam slept in a sleeping bag on the floor of the boy’s room so that he could be right there to help them when they woke up sick in the night.

This morning is better. Sam went out for ginger ale and fresh ginger when the grocery stores opened, and by nibbling on a ginger slice whenever a wave of nausea presents, I’ve been able to guzzle the ginger ale and keep it down. Robin and Davy are holding down solid food at this point. I’m running a bit of a fever and I’ve spent most of the day in bed, while Sam, in all-out superhero mode, has fully taken over meeting the various needs of the household. He seems a little embarrassed every time I sniffle at him about how much it means to me that he’s taking such good care of us.

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then something comes along that just completely outmatches and overwhelms me, and in those moments Sam always, always has my back. And while these displays of competence and compassion on his part aren’t truly gendered—I mean, if anything, an ability to step up and tend a household of invalids would seem a particularly feminine form of badassery—my response to him in these times is very gendered indeed. I feel exactly like a damsel in distress whose knight in shining armor has just come charging to the rescue. I’m overwhelmed not just with gratitude but with a doe-eyed admiration of Sam’s vast masculine strength. He’s washing the dishes as I type these words, pausing every now and then to fix toast for the boys or bring me more ginger ale, and I think it’s the manliest thing I’ve ever seen because I barely have the reserves to hit “post” and totter back to bed. These are the Big Damn Hero moments of real life.

Mar 5 2013

Not All That Exciting After All

Well, apparently it was just a prolonged bout of Braxton Hicks contractions. It’s a phenomenon often called “false labor,” but as a sop to us aggravated pregnant ladies, some practitioners like to call it “practice labor” or “pre-labor.”

I kind of like pre-labor, as it implies that some kind of progress is being made. Which is, when you think about it, almost necessarily true. We’re one day closer to Sol’s birthday, whenever that turns out to be.

Mar 5 2013


Since yesterday evening I’ve been having light, irregular contractions—mild enough that I was able to sleep through them, so that’s good. It’s impossible to tell whether this is really the beginning of labor or just an extended bout of Braxton Hicks contractions (“false labor”), but I’ve had a couple of other pre-labor signs and I’m hopeful that this will eventually start going somewhere. It’s still a couple weeks before my due date but that’s completely fine and normal; I’m considered full-term now.

I keep asking myself, are we ready? Are we ready? And the answer is: of course not, nobody ever is. But we’re excited and full of anticipation. I want a little baby to snuggle. I want to sniff his head and kiss his toes and look into his funny little face. Bring it on, kiddo, let’s do this thing.

Mar 3 2013

Robin and Davy Are Brothers

When I was a girl, my dad used to make little books for me. They weren’t fancy, just sheets of legal paper folded over, with photos stapled in. But Dad would make up funny stories around the photographs, and I loved those books. I still have them!

I wanted to make a little book like that for Robin and Davy, to help them prepare for Sol’s arrival. I thought if I started with a bound blank book it would have a better chance of withstanding life in a three-boy household, so I shopped around online, and ended up ordering this:


Which is the point at which I became aware that I was actually making a scrapbook!

It’s funny because my friend Wendy is a great scrap-booker (scrapper?) and I’ve always admired her fun, colorful books, but never particularly had the urge to make one myself. It was only by approaching the project as a storybook rather than a scrapbook that I found myself dipping a toe into those waters! It was a lot of fun though, and both the boys are super excited about their “brother book,” as they call it. Davy had me read it to him three times this morning.

Here is the story I wrote around the pictures:

Robin and Davy are brothers.

Robin is the big brother. He was born first.


When Robin was a baby he lived with Mommy and Daddy in San Francisco.


He liked to go to the park. But he had no one to play with.

One day Mommy said, “I have a new baby in my tummy!” Daddy said, “Yay! Let’s move to Oakland.”

When the baby came out of Mommy, we named him Davy. Robin helped Mommy and Daddy take care of him.

Now Robin had a little brother to play with.

Davy grew quickly. Soon he could walk and talk.

He wasn’t a baby any more. He was a little boy!

Robin and Davy did lots of things together.

They helped around the house.

They went to the Oakland zoo with Nanita and Markie.

They even went to school together. Robin taught Davy how to eat his lunch at the table.

They liked to watch movies on the couch.

At Hallowe’en they went trick or treating together.


Sometimes they went to sleep together.

One day Mommy said, “I have a new baby in my tummy!” Daddy said, “That’s not a baby, that’s a puppy.”

“That is Thora and she is our puppy,” said Davy.

Mommy said, “Yes, but there is also a baby. I need Robin and Davy to help me take care of the baby when it comes out!”

Robin remembered when Davy was a baby. “Babies are a lot of work,” said Robin.

“That’s true,” said Mommy. “They are a lot of work. That is why I will need help taking care of the baby.”


“Robin and Davy will be good helpers,” said Daddy. “Because they are such good brothers.”

The End