Willem and His Questions… and a Few Updates Around the House

Where has the summer gone? Between baby rearing, toddler wrangling, freelancing, and community garden managing, things have felt a little harried lately. And by “lately,” I really mean, “since January 29, Max’s birth day.” At 6 months, Max has cut his first two teeth, is eating real food two times a day, and has only recently started liking sleep.

My days are full to the brim with baby rearing and toddler wrangling. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This morning as we loaded into the car to go to the community garden, Willem said to Max, “Let’s go on an adventure, Maaah.” I count this as a parenting win, the fact that my toddler thinks of every outing as an adventure.

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So this update is brought to you by a) the fact that Max has been napping for over an hour and b) me managing to get my freelance job for August done. WINNING.

WILLEM AND HIS QUESTIONS: My Cuteness Cup Runneth Over

In July, Willem started something new – he asks the question he wants us to ask him. Then when we repeat it, he says enthusiastically, “Okay!” Ex: Willem: “Do you want play with school bus?” I repeat the question, he yells, “Okay!” Or in the middle of the night, we’ll hear a plaintive, “Do you want to go pee?” from his room. Chris goes in, asks if he needs to pee, then: “Okay!”

Last week, I was tending to Max, who just got his first two teeth and has needed extra snuggles, for a while. Willem was playing on his own, then finally came up to me and said, “Do you want to sit in Mommy’s lap?” Aw, buddy. Later that evening, it was, “Do you need hug?”

Then a few nights ago, Willem was standing at the side of our bed at 1:30 in the morning. Willem: “Do you need some attention?” (I repeat the question). Him: “Okay!” Aw, bud. Then: “Do you need to rest? Do you need to snuggle bunny?” (I repeat him). “Okay!”

So. Cute. He’s got an amazing vocabulary and communicates incredibly well for 2.5 years old. He’s also an awesome big brother. We had big storms a couple of weeks ago, and when the storm really hit one afternoon, Willem started patting Max gently on the top of his head, saying: “That’s okay. That’s okay, Max. Just a little thunderstorm, Max.”

Birdie kisses

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UPDATES AROUND THE HOMESTEAD

We haven’t really done a whole lot around the house this year in terms of building out our garden space. Things have felt a tad busy/overwhelming this year. BUT! We did plant 32 native perennial wildflowers out front AND Chris finished our new 3-bin compost system! He’s all excited about actively managing our compost bin at the new place, which I think is adorable. We were very lazy composters at the old place, but we still got great soil out of the bins. That’s the beauty of composting, right? I mean, it’s decomposition. It’s going to break down… eventually.

Yesterday he went out with his new gigantic compost thermometer (which looks just like a meat thermometer, only several feet long) and found that both piles were in the “hot” range. Awesomesauce! Now we just need to build a bunch of garden beds to fill with our new compost once its done cooking. Hint, hint, Chris.

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Oh, and? I’m knitting again! First project since Max’s birth is a temperature blanket, and I also just started knitting his Christmas stocking. I feel like my old self! 20160806. Temperature blanket, one month in. Hint: brown represents the days above 90 degrees. 120/365. #365days

How Has It Been Almost a Year?

The baby’s-first-year-on-the-planet time warp is REAL, folks. How is it that our son is almost one? Well, really, he’s almost 11 months old, but since I’ve begun planning his first birthday party, it feels like his first trip around the sun is really almost here.

It simultaneously feels like the longest year of my life AND like he just arrived yesterday. Kind of for the same reasons, actually – Willem has changed SO MUCH in the last 11 months (and so have I), and the changes are happening faster and faster every day, it seems. Suddenly, we have a waving, giggling, steady on his feet (at least when standing), sweet little guy with his own PERSONALITY and stuff. Oh, and he can say “mama,” which is about the cutest thing ever.

And to think: a year ago, he was still IN MAH BELLY. Totally crazy.

20140112. 35 weeks.

One year ago today.

Anyway, I’m getting pretty excited for his birthday. The kid has so many toys already, so we are definitely not getting him much in the way of “stuff.” Instead, on the actual big day, Chris will take off work so we can go do something fun as a family – I’m thinking we’ll go to the Children’s Museum. Then we’re having a small party of family and friends to help celebrate.

I am ALL OVER Pinterest these days re: party decor. See Exhibit A:

First birthday crafting.

Willem loves reading, so the big “thing” he’ll get from us is something along the lines of this:

Chris is going to build the tent frame, and I just ordered this fabric for the tent sides. I am probably, definitely a little WAY TOO EXCITED about it. I think we’ll really enjoy reading together, lying in our tent:

I’m also putting together some fun little camping supplies to round out the whole tent gift idea. Like… have you ever knitted a log? Because I am currently knitting a log! (I mean, I don’t have a LOG….)

Any other ideas to add to the tent/camping gift? I need to go thrifting and see if I can find some fun metal cooking camp pots, maybe a metal mug. A fake/wooden Coleman lamp? Or, heck, a REAL (but baby-friendly) lamp of some sort?

Itty Bitty Knitties

The checkout lady at Target told me the other day that I would know I was really nesting/about to give birth when I cleaned the house from top to bottom.

The lady clearly does not know me. Organize, yes. Put things away and set things up, yes. But clean? Ummm…. Not so much.

I think the recent uptick in production of itty bitty knitties also counts as my personal version of nesting. So here are the latest knitted goodies for our little sprout-on-the-way.

Baby bear hat:

20140201. Bear hat.

Teeny tiny hedgehog:

20140201. Hedgehog.

Cozy owlie sleep sack:

20140125. Owl sleep sack.

The fastest knit booties ever:

20140125. Baby booties.

Sophisticated cardigan:

20130121. Baby Sophisticate sweater.

Striped baby cardigan:

20130121. Striped baby cardigan.

And what am I about to do now, this rainy Saturday afternoon? Watch Ken Burns’ Prohibition and knit this sweet mossy jacket. It’s what I do.

Nesting and Knitting

Nesting
The absolutely frigid weather this week coupled with a lack of motivation to make real meals made me realize that, hey, come baby-time, it would be so super cool to have some good food on hand, just waiting to be thawed and nommed. So this weekend, I made three different soups in three days. Is this what they mean by “nesting”?

We now have a veggie-rific vegetarian chili, homemade chicken noodle soup, and broccoli-pea-asiago soup (that is reminiscent of that famous scene in The Exorcist) clogging up our freezer. Chris professed the chicken noodle soup to be bested only by a concoction he had sampled as a kid at some church, made by a bunch of old ladies who even made their own noodles. Being in the same league as those little old ladies? I call that soup success.

20140112. Homemade chicken noodle soup.

So if anyone has other healthy meals that freeze well, please share! I also started the sweet potato slips yesterday. Let’s hope we get another great batch of sweet potatoes growing this year.
20140111. Starting the sweet potatoes.

Nesting Some More… with the Help of the Farmers Market
Speaking of food, I also made a much-needed trip down to the Indy Winter Farmers Market yesterday. I went for honey sticks, but I walked away with crusty sunflower seed bread, freshly made honey peanut butter, radishes, and red raspberry leaf and lemon balm for tea.

Even better than that crusty bread, though? I got to spend the morning chatting with some wonderful people – a much-needed break from my computer and the shut-in feeling that built over the last week. And this is coming from someone who really, really loves fresh, crusty bread.

All the goodies! Crust bread, radishes, herbs to drink, honey sticks, and freshly made honey peanut butter. Thanks, Indy Winter Farmers Market!

Knitting
A couple of winters ago, I joined up with an awesome group of ladies: the Indy Pub Knitters. We like to say we’re drinkers with a knitting problem. Every other Sunday, we meet up at a different area pub or micro-brewery, and we knit and chat. I look forward to our get-togethers very much.

Anyway, today turned out to be a two-cupcake day because, wouldn’t you know it, the ladies surprised me with an impromptu baby shower! I love how many handmade blankets, booties, hats, wash cloths, bibs, sweaters, and pants this baby is going to have. Thank you for making me feel so loved and special, ladies.

20140112. Hand knitted gifts from the Indy Pub Knitters.

On the knitting and nesting front, in addition to making ALL THE SOUP, I’ve also been knitting up a storm for this baby. A small, recent sampling: a sheep pillow…
20140108. Sheep pillow.

One of many bandana bibs…
20140108. Bandana baby bib.

A cozy cabled blanket…
20131225. Cabled baby blanket.

Some cozy baby pants…
20131222. Kanoko pants.

A sweet little vest…
20131112. Pebble vest.

And what baby doesn’t need a pixie hat?
20131007. Pixie hat for the sprout.

I’m 35 weeks today – hi, baby!
20140112. 35 weeks.

Bump Watch 2013: Down to the Single Digits

Oh, baby, it is SO ON. We are down to about seven weeks (give or take) until I get to get my hands on this baby. I kind of can’t wait. Well, I kind of can, but I’m also getting really excited/impatient for this kid’s arrival.

Please, baby, listen to mommy and don’t be late.

Bump Watch, 2013: Weeks 30-33.

I am also finally starting to physically feel a little crummy. I have been extremely lucky this entire pregnancy – no puking, very little nausea, not much in the way of mood swings or cravings. But now I’m starting to have some pretty craptastic sciatica pain, as well as hip and leg issues at night. Yoga and walking the doggie definitely help a lot, and I have felt pretty good in the mornings, so I can get most of my stuff done in the mornings and putter by evening time. I just want to keep moving so I can be in tip top shape for the marathon of labor!

In happy news, though, I just finished this adorable bear, and I’m rather in love.

20131229. Teddy bear.

Reduce, Reuse, Reprettify!

REDUCE, REUSE, REPRETTIFY! Since we got married at such a beautiful location (South Circle Farm), we kept our decorations really simple: some fun banners, beautiful flowers, big white paper globes, floral buntings, and strands of origami birds.

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20130907. Our wedding!

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I had a wild hair to re-use them somehow in the nursery, so after the wedding, I saved them. I kind of love our nursery “mobile.”

20131214. Nursery "mobile."

20131214. Nursery "mobile."

And a couple of prints I made:

20131214. Nursery art.

ON WINTERIZING THE CHICKENS: Earlier this week, it got frigidly cold here in the Midwest.  We’re talking low single digit temperatures with wind chills in the negatives. What with this pregnant/giving birth in the middle of winter thing, I decided we needed a reliable way to keep the chicken’s water completely unfrozen, even if we have to step out to the hospital for a day or two. So, although the DIY warmer was doing okay, I broke down and bought a legit chicken waterer warmer (this one, to be exact) – and just in time.

I also rigged up a light bulb clamped into the rafters of the coop for the two nights where it got really frigid. I feared I would awaken to a Little Red popsicle on Wednesday morning, but it’s amazing the heat that one 60-watt light bulb, some cracked corn before bed time, and five chickens can produce in a small space.

Safety Note: All you have to do is Google search “chicken coop fire,” and you’ll see that heating coops is no joke. Pine shavings and dried chicken poops make a pretty good incendiary device, so be smart about any electrical or lighting device you put in those coops! Our neighbors had a heat lamp going the other night, which would scare the bejeezus out of me with how hot they get.

In short, the girls are currently happily scratching away in their snowy run, searching for treats in the hay. I also realized one of my greatest chicken-related fears last week: went to pull a glove out of my parka pocket and found it covered in goo from a forgotten, smashed egg. This is why you shouldn’t really carry eggs in your coat pockets.

AND OTHER GENERAL CUTENESS/AWESOMENESS LATELY IN OUR LIVES:
My loves:
Friday night faves.

Birdie hugs:
20131207. Birdie hugs.

Me and my beautiful madre:
20131130. Our baby shower.

Chris’ new mistress – taking things to the next level at the Space-Farm Continuum!
Taking things to the next level at the Space-Farm, y'all!

Sneak preview – Christmas knitting:
20131214. Beard!

20131214. Grumpasaurus.

Birdie and Chris’ snowman from this morning:
20131214. Chris made a snowman.

And, as of today, we are in the single digit countdown: 31 weeks down, 9 (+/-) to go!
20131213. Almost 31 weeks.

State of the Belly Address: Half-Full

As of yesterday, this adorable little beastie of mine is halfway done. We celebrated the 20-week mark of pregnancy with a visit to Fall Creek Gardens for their fall harvest party and mural ribbon cutting ceremony, dinner and ice cream out, and a trip to Lowe’s.

We know how to party. Saturday! Rage! No, really, though, it was a great day.

Ever since the wedding, I feel like I’m busier than ever, probably due to the fact that for the entire month of August, anything that wasn’t wedding-related got pushed to the back of my mind and the bottom of my to do list. Now it’s all rushing back to the forefront like a tsunami. Or at least a slightly flooded stream bed.

Rather than bore you (and myself) with the details of that flood of STUFF that needs doing, I think we need more pretties on this rainy Sunday, no? Not only have I been productive in the baby-making lately, but I’ve also been productive in the baby stuff-making (and acquiring). Here are a few of my latest goodies for this little no-name nubbin.

First, we have some toasty sweaters and a kick sack for those breezy February days:
20130929. Making stuff and taking names.

And what little beastie doesn’t need some cozy wool pants and a super soft chevron blankie? The better to cuddle you with, my love.
20130929. Making stuff and taking names.

Every time I look at Barnaby the Bear (made by my sister-in-law and four-year-old nephew, Ben) and my big cuddly bunny, I squeal a little (in my mind… although sometimes a squeak manages to get out). Barnaby also happens to be modeling an aviator hat and bib for the babe.
20130929. Making stuff and taking names.

I’ve also procured about a billion (okay, 17, but whatever) cloth diapers to get us going. We might be pretty well set in the cloth diaper department!
20130928. My fetuses cloth diaper stash is about complete for now.

Last but not least, I love the way these turned out. These are being printed up and framed as 11×14″ wall art. The ideas were totally stolen from others (love you, Etsy and Pinterest).
20130929. Making stuff and taking names.

Oops, I lied. ONE one more. I forgot I made a bunch of kick ass onesies yesterday!
20130928. New onesies for the sprout.

Chris fretted the other night that this baby is going to come out all hipster: bearded in a flannel shirt and skinny jeans if it’s a boy; dark-rimmed librarian glasses, bangs, handknit mittens, and jarring, conflictingly patterned clothes if it’s a girl. I think it’s going to come out all hippie farmer: dirt under its tiny nails, pulling raw beets from the ground to use as its teethers.

Officially Official!

It’s official! I just sent in my acceptance to be one of eight lucky apprentices at Growing Places Indy’s 2013 summer apprenticeship program. I am so dang excited. DANG excited! It starts the day after Memorial Day and ends in August. The end of May will be here before I know it, but it still feels like forever to wait.

I am also so grateful to my employer for letting me do this. I’ll be taking a part-time sabbatical (and probably working rather strange hours) during this time. I’ll be busy, but I can do anything for 10 weeks, particularly when it’s stuff I really want to be doing. It’s really important to me, too, that I give my employer my all during those 20 hours a week. I never, ever, EVER want them to regret allowing me to take this opportunity.

From Growing Places Indy’s website, here’s the breakdown of what I’ll be doing this summer:

SO! DANG! EXCITED!

In totally unrelated news, yesterday I knitted a hedgehog
20130413. I knitted a hedgehog today.

And bought some splurge yarn to knit this sweater.
20130414. Splurge yarn for splurge sweater.

Christmas Knitting in Full Effect, Y’all!

NOTE TO MY LOVELY FAMILY: Stop reading this entry if you want any surprises this Christmas!

I really like knowing how to make things for myself. I like understanding different aspects of gardening and composting, canning and cooking fresh greens from the backyard, and caring for our various ridiculous menagerie of animals.

I feel like knitting is an extreme example of that (and probably a little bit decadent, too, in terms of time, cost of materials, etc., but also something you could actually do if you had the know-how, lived on a mountainside with no power, surrounded by sheep).

I wonder, though, if people truly understand the time (and cash) investment that goes into a typical knitted item. Way back when, I tried to make a profit off knitting. Maybe it’s possible, but for the things I was knitting, even with buying yarn in bulk off Ebay, and for the cost I was able to charge, it came out to about $1.50/hour wage.

So now I only knit for people I love. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this fall! I still have about twice this many projects planned out, but, hey, I’ve got another month or so. PLENTY of time.

For newest nephew Zachary, I give you… SQUAREY!

20120908. Squarey! First Christmas knitting.

For nephew Benjamin… an OWL!

20120913. Christmas knitting continues! Big puffy owl.

Also for Ben… a SNAKE!

20121015. Christmas gifts abound! Ben's stripey snakey.

A special hat for my mama:

20121015. Christmas gifts abound! Ysolda Teague hat.

Cable sampler cowl for my sis-in-law Sarah:

20121015. Aran sampler cowl.

Amazing slippers, also for my sis-in-law (really, they are so squishy and comfy, I need a pair of my own):

20121106. River slippers.

And a ridiculously large pair of slippers for my daddio.

20121106. Nola's slippers.

The Christmas knitting will continue. I still have so much to do! Another pair of slippers, a scarf, mittens, maybe a wee Linus blankie for my sweetest little nephew… oh, and probably something fun for my pub knitting friends!

Criminy. What am I doing here? I need to stop typing and get back to the knitting!

Hello, Old Friend: Telling the Seasons by Knitting

I know it wouldn’t be rocket science to be able to tell the season based on the content of this here blog. Summer is easy, since it’s all non-stop, all-garden action. Chicken updates will likely be a year-round phenomenon.

However, I’m beginning to think that one could also discern the more subtle shifts in seasons by one other thing: my knitting progress. Way back in February, I posted a bit about recycled yarns and the general awesome factor of being able to knit your own clothing. In my mind, being able to knit yourself a sweater / looking at a sweater and understanding the construction of it really is in line with knowing how to kill and skin and part out your own chicken – albeit far less bloody and maybe a tad prettier to do in public.

Getting back to the seasons: by the time football season is over, seeds start going into potting soil, and garden planning commences in March, my knitting productivity drops off dramatically. Yes, I knit in front of the television nearly every Sunday during the cold Indiana winter, watching football (go, Colts?). All summer long, though, when things are BUSYBUSYBUSY outside, the only time I manage to knit is during my pub knitters group meetings (you can imagine how productive I am at actually knitting during those meetings – one member proclaimed at our last meeting that, “We are drinkers with a knitting problem”).

However, now that much of the garden has died back in the heat and drought and the temperatures have cooled down to a level where I don’t have to be on high-alert re: the chickens, I’ve begun to ease back into the knitting again. So there you have it, folks: just keep an eye on my knitting productivity, and you’ll be able to tell if we’re in the dog days of summer, full-on football knitting season, or somewhere in those in between days.

Would you like to see what items have been moving slow like molasses off the needles this summer? In June, Chris and I flew out to Colorado to visit family, meet my new nephew, and celebrate my older nephew’s third birthday. Guess what he got…

200120627. Cape for Ben.

A SILVER KNITTED CAPE, of course!

Zachary got a couple of bibs, as well, for when he gets a tad older / begins drooling on everything in sight. This is the Modern Cabled Baby Bib pattern by Andrea Pomerantz.

200120627. Bibs for Zachary.

In my last knitting-related post back in February, I mentioned I had started knitting this sweater, using yarn made from the bits and pieces in a mill that might otherwise get tossed (check it out: Knit Picks Full Circle yarn). I love the concept of that – new-to-me yarn that is absolutely luscious and reduces waste all in one fell swoop. I finally finished the beast! This is the Cobble Hill Pullover pattern from Interweave Knits.

20120810. Cobble Hill Pullover, aka the coziest sweater of all time.

Totally unique construction – this will be my go-to cozy pullover if we manage to get some cold weather this winter.

20120810. Cobble Hill Pullover, aka the coziest sweater of all time.

Finally, I used up some wool tweed yarn I bought on super sale ages ago, but could never quite figure out what it wanted to be. I swear, yarn often WANTS to be something, and it’s just a matter of figuring out what that is. I’ve ripped out nearly completed garments because the pattern is just not right for the yarn. It wants to be something else (and, yes, I know I sound like a crazy person. Knitters, back me up here, please!). This is the Bryn Mawr pattern from Interweave Knits.

20120818. Handknit skirt, using the Bryn Mawr pattern.

20120818. Handknit skirt, using the Bryn Mawr pattern.

Yes, people, as sure as the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, knitting season has officially begun. Along with it, I’m hoping for frosty breathed mornings, cardigan and scarf weather, apple picking at the orchard, and crispy leaves to kick through on sidewalks.