Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #1: ON EATING

Too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream.* I’ve been turning this particular idea over and over in my head lately in terms of parenting. As a new parent, especially at the ripe old age of 35, I feel like I’m redefining who I am quite a lot these days. I’m suddenly doing the doggie paddle in the deep end of the pool, and I’m surprised to find I’m a whole lot more conservative than I thought I’d be in terms of parenting… although maybe it’s all relative.

Let’s back up. Pre-Willem, I was a working girl with lots of hobbies and passions; I wasn’t exactly interested in “climbing the ladder” work-wise, but I had been successful at growing my career and had consistently been able to support myself since grad school (it IS possible to survive on $1000 a month).¬†These days, I’m no longer supporting myself, putting money into my retirement fund every month, putting away savings… That last sentence cannot be emphasized enough. It is extremely weird to go from being a very self-sufficient person to being dependent on another person and bringing in just a little extra salary from my very part-time (yet very fulfilling) job.

100430. fancy hotel room. (i did not use the tub).

Another work trip, another fancy bath tub I’ll never bathe in.

100408. just another day at the office.

The candy ring signifies that SUPER IMPORTANT WORK is being done.

201404. Urban Times Article.

And my current work (in addition to being Willem’s mom).

And back then? I did ALL sorts of stuff. You know, just for fun. Whenever I felt like it. Oh, the luxury! Knitting and gardening and canning and baking and reading and and and… ALL sorts of stuff. These things are still high up on the priority list for me, but by necessity, they must fit around my primary new role: mom.

Baby K has arrived.

That one time Willem was born.

Yup. Mostly these days, I’m a mom to a wonderful little human who gets cooler and cuter and more amazing every week. Sometimes every day. It makes my heart hurt to think about it too much. In a good way.

This guy.It’s even weirder, though, being all old and stuff and suddenly trying to figure out where you fit in this entirely new world of mom-hood. The only thing keeping me going is the hope that every other mom is probably trying to figure out the same damn thing – where they fit, who they relate to most, and how to navigate this new terrain. Even if they’re fronting and pretending like they’ve got it all figured out.

20140816. Visiting grandma and grandpa.I was going to document some of the extreme views I’ve heard come out of people’s mouths lately re: parenting, but I realized two things: 1) that’s way more negativity than I want to perpetuate in my life and 2) I don’t really want to give their words more power than they have obviously already had over me.

So instead I give you the first installment of “being a parent” thus far, a la Chris, Christie, and Willem, aka “too hippie to be mainstream, too mainstream to be hippie.” I’m guessing many parents fall into this category, but, just like bad talk radio, the extremists on one side or the other drown us out with all their shouting and fervent insistence.

IMG_2763

ON EATING: Baby led weaning? Not exactly for us, not yet, at least. In theory, it’s awesome: teach your babies to chew before swallowing, feed themselves, eat what you’re eating, etc. In practice? Not so much. It turns out Willem is very, very good at shoving food into his mouth. Giant chunks of food. After the first couple of tries led to immediate gagging, coughing, and (yesterday morning) puking, I’m sticking with purees and some very limited feed-himself options (green beans and super soft sweet potato sticks are big hits so far).

He also REALLY REALLY likes food, and he totally gets the whole spoon in mouth thing. He opens his mouth wide like a little baby bird any time the spoon comes near, and it’s adorable. I want to celebrate the fact that he’s interested in trying a lot of new flavors at this age and not place limits on that because he’s too busy dropping his food on the floor, choking on it, and getting frustrated because he would actually love to EAT EAT EAT.

Lunch yesterday was some green beans, sweet potato sticks, and a pureed beet/spinach/lentil medley. And he loved it.

ON BREASTFEEDING: Dudes, breastfeeding is awesome. It really and truly is, and I am so glad I had help getting through those first 2 weeks 10 weeks of utter, toe curling pain and exhaustion. With that said, I cringe when well-meaning breastfeeding professionals make off-hand comments about “how I’ll handle the disappointment if so-and-so gives up on breastfeeding.” Like it has anything to do with them, you know? I lived through those first horrible months, and I can tell you it was sheer will, stubbornness, nipple cream, and a lot of encouragement that got me through. I totally, totally wanted to quit and almost did, like, 20 times. I have absolutely zero judgment for anyone who decides breastfeeding is just not working for them, I guess is what I’m saying.

The takeaway? Mamas, just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t feel bad for not being “enough” of anything or to anyone. Probably no one’s even paying attention to how you’re feeding your baby, and if they are, screw ’em. If it’s working for you, go for it. In the end, your way IS the best way – for you and your baby.

NEXT UP: SLEEP. Or lack thereof. Oh, yes. We’re going there.

*Stolen from my brilliant friend, Nikki, who’s in the same boat, parenting-wise.

Senor Sleepyhead and Madre Fancypants

As I conquered this morning’s “while you were napping” chores, I got a brilliant idea for a children’s book – all about everything stay-at-home/work-at-home moms manage to get done in those brief, ephemeral snippets when their children are napping.

It would start with the normal stuff – laundry, answering some emails and writing grant applications, returning calls, maybe even scrubbing a toilet – then move on to more advanced mommy multi-tasking skills – baking a loaf of banana bread, washing the diapers, roasting some veggies for that night’s dinner, filling the sweet potato bin with more dirt, mucking out the chicken run, or, gasp, plucking an eyebrow or two!

Then it would get all hyperbolic, of course, and end with Madre Fancypants saving the universe from total annihilation. Whadda you think? Maybe it would start with some kind stranger remarking on Madre Fancypants’ amazing arm muscles “from lifting the baby all the time.” But then you realize she’s got crazy, mad muscles from SAVING THE WORLD, one nap at a time.

Willem.

Saving the world, one nap at a time. Seriously, I think we’ve got something here!

This morning, the first-nap-of-the-day chore: mucking out the chicken run. Which, OMG, based on the smell, was very overdue. On the plus side, we’ve got some amazing organic matter (read: POOP and food and worms and leftover bit of kale and chard and did I mention POOP?) in our compost bins now, and we’ve got some very happy chickens, pecking through the fresh hay and scratch in their run.

And whenever Senor Sleepyhead wakes from his nap? We’re going to the Indiana State Fair, y’all! Baby’s first cows and pigs and Ferris wheels and funnel cakes and and and… other State Fair stuff!

The whole fam-damily:
Planning the next cross stitch project.

Willem, learning from the best:
20140802. Same same.

Farm-to-Fork? More Like Farm-to-Face

Willem is eating FOOD, guys! I’m not sure why I’m so excited about this, but I am. I mean, it was inevitable that the kid would eat food at some point, right? He’s not going to survive on breast milk forever.

Part of it is that, oh, holy crap, he’s already eating food. At this rate, he’ll be learning to drive before we know it.
20140724. I'm ready.

The other part is that so far, his first foods were lovingly made by ME last fall. With every messy bite, I’m brought back to that time, when I was so full of excitement and big dreams for this little creature I was anxiously waiting to meet. And now? Now he is here, and he gets to eat that excitement and those big dreams with every spoonful. How cool is that?

Sweet potatoes (or were those yams?) from the garden last fall…
20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

And straight into the gullet. The kid, he likes his sweet potatoes.
20140724. Sweet potatoes are GOOD.

Our annual trip to Anderson Orchard last September:
20130914. Anderson Orchard.

20130914. Annual Anderson Orchard visit.

Apple sauce making:
20130914. Old school is new school again.

Apple sauce eating. Verdict: apple sauce is GOOOOOD.
Apple sauce!

I honestly don’t see us ever buying baby food from the store. This is one-ingredient goodness right here, and it doesn’t get much closer to home.

My Own Personal Gilroy Garlic Festival

In Gilroy, CA, there is an annual garlic fest of epic proportions. It’s actually pretty lame, but I never went to it when I lived in Humboldt County and San Francisco. NEVER. Current me is berating past me for not recognizing that future me would think that was the most awesome festival ever.

And, really, my “own personal Gilroy Garlic Festival” is a bit of an exaggeration. Know why? The GGF has GARLIC ICE CREAM. And I have none of that. Which is sad.

However! I do have garlic! As of today, we have way more garlic than we will be able to consume in the next year. Seriously, garlic grows itself. If you’re interested in knowing how, hit me up. All you need is a little planning ahead (hint: plant those cloves in November, homie), a little patience (gotta wait until next summer, dawg), and a coolish, darkish place for them to dry out and cure a bit (like our super lo-fi basement hanger set up):

20140706. Garlic fest 2014.

In the latest edition of “babies are HARD,” we’ve had some serious sleep issues cropping up for the last month or so. It’s funny… my lack of schedule for him wasn’t a problem at all until SUDDENLY IT WAS A HUGE PROBLEM. They finally got so bad last week that the little bugger was only napping in half-hour increments and was chronically tired and cranky. No bueno!

Starting Friday, July 4, I started actually putting the kid on a schedule and trying some different ways of getting him to sleep. I’m happy to report that he has now slept until 7 am the last two mornings, and his last eight naps have been in his crib, as opposed to in my arms, the carrier, the stroller, etc. So far, it’s also been not too terribly painful – maybe 15 minutes of me settling him for each nap, sometimes re-settling halfway through, but nothing major and no crying until puking. It’s wonderful, and we are all feeling so much better about life already. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, and all that jazz.

20140706. What new level of cuteness is this?!

Handmade goodies.

This is what it looks like when a creative, yet OCD, person tries to get a baby on a schedule. But look! See how the last two bars are almost identical? That’s what we want.

20140706. This is what putting a kid on a sleep schedule looks like in my creative/OCD world.

P.S. I was cleaning out the wallet I’ve been using for years and found the following tucked away in a secret pocket, given to me by Sean in probably 2002 or so. The paper is so worn it feels like fabric now. They have been moved over to the new wallet, and I’m so happy to remember their existence.

Wallet stowaways.

You’re Every Willem in the World to Me

A few more new mommy observations on this absolutely gorgeous Saturday. These days, EVERY day is a Saturday!

First Fourth!

Unfortunately, every day is also a Monday.

Kicking it with this beautiful boy.

Sleep. Sleep is, like, really super important. I am SO good at sleep. Ask anyone. I can sleep anywhere and rarely make it through an entire movie without falling asleep on the couch. I used to go on work trips, down a latte at the airport, and be asleep in my seat before the wheels had left the ground. So yeah… I know a thing or two about sleep, but I apparently suck at teaching others the fine art and sweet beauty of sleep. More on that later.

Willem's first check out at the library.

Also? Having a baby is kind of like having Stockholm Syndrome. You grow to love and adore your tiny, drooly captor and would do anything for him.

Hanging.

We were away last weekend visiting family, and Willem’s sleep schedule got completely jacked. It already took a turn for the worse around 3.5-4 months, but upon returning home, it was abysmal. So starting yesterday, we are now in baby-sleep boot camp (which really means “getting the kid on a dang schedule already”). I was bracing myself for a horrible day and night, but the little guy did pretty all right! He took three long naps in his crib for the first time EVER yesterday, and then I was able to get him to sleep until 7 this morning. I call that a huge success already.

Yes, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my son had never taken all of his naps in his crib. And I bounced or fed him to sleep every time. And he had zero in the way of a bed time/nap time routine. No wonder his sleep is all jacked!

In other news, our house is dreamy right now:
June 2014.

June 2014.

June 2014.

June 2014.

College Plans and Sippy Cups

File this under the latest in the dichotomy that is being a parent. I find it hilarious that I just started a college fund for THIS goofball. But I did! And I’m feeling very accomplished about it. I also learned today that the kid cannot yet be trusted with a sippy cup on his own. Let’s just say we’re on our fourth onesie and second bath of the day. You win some, you lose some.

Spot on, kid. Spot. On.

Muster the Rohirrim!

So this taggie helmet-wearing, sippy cup-spilling goof also has a college fund. Hopefully, he will have outgrown his love of taggie helmets and will have learned to drink from a sippy cup by the time college rolls around.

20140616. Working on the sippy cup action.

Just look at that shifty side-eye. You can tell he’s hatching a diabolical scheme to spill milk ALL OVER THE WORLD.

Dear Today, I Love You

Dear Today,

Happy Summer Solstice, Today! How did that happen already? I swear, you get distracted for one minute and suddenly, Today, you pull a solstice out of your hat, and you’re all like, “Surprise!” And, “Shazam!” Maybe even, “Tada!”

You have been good to us so far, Today. And by this, I mean:

  • You convinced my son he should sleep until 7:45 am, and he woke up all happy and adorable and smiley and what-not. This is the latest I have slept since before the little guy was born, so this is nothing to sneeze at.
  • You then somehow convinced my son that he should take a nearly two-hour-long nap, which meant I had time to trellis the tomatoes, weed the garden, and feed the chickens some lovely arugula that went to seed weeks ago. Side note: I love when my hands smell like arugula, but hate when they smell like tomato plants.
  • You gave me an awesome husband who went on Willem-duty so I could mail my nephew’s birthday presents and make a run to the store WITHOUT A BABY. I had an entire cart to fill with stuff AND two free hands! It was amazing. Also, the post office was holding a passport party, which meant all these normally serious postal working ladies were wearing leis and grass skirts and sunglasses inside. And there were cookies. And, like I said – amazing.
  • You inspired me to make chocolate chip banana bread, which means our house smells like magic.
  • You presented me with a cardigan covered in pineapples, which, DUH, of course I had to buy. Because cardigan = yay for breastfeeding, and pineapples = yay for life.

In summation, Today, I think you’re the bomb. I’d totally marry you if I wasn’t already married to awesome dude (see bullet point #3).

XOXO,

Christie

P.S. Check out how wild and wooly the garden is this year. Rather than get all uptight over the OMG WEEDS EVERYWHERE, I’m embracing the crazy greenness.¬†I feel like I shrunk or something, because everything – the apple trees, the perennials across the back of the house, the bee balm and lemon balm and green beans – are suddenly gigantic.

20140619. Wild garden.

Lettuce trying to go to seed, weeds everywhere, tomatoes going nutso, collard and kale out the yin-yang, monarda about to bloom – garden madness, I say.

20140619. Wild garden.

Second year of hops.

20140619. Wild garden.

Wildness from the other direction. Those perennials along the house are taller than me.

20140620. Garden time with Willem.

And my garden buddy. We spend time each morning, checking out the garden, before naptime.

20140619. Wild garden.

When will I learn that we really only need, like, TWO collard green plants, not eight?

Willem has an appreciation for green things, too. Kale, collards, and garlic scapes, coming right up!

Willem was very excited about the kale, collards, and garlic scapes the other night.

State of the Baby Address: FOUR MONTHS!

Willem on his due date:

20140215. Hello, due date!

And three days later:

Baby K has arrived.

One month:

IMG_3139

Two months:

20140418. Two months!

Three months:

20140518. 3 months!

And today… FOUR MONTHS! My big, sweet, funny babe gets smilier and sweeter and funnier by the day. He grabs things with his feet like a monkey, he thinks diaper changes are pretty hilarious, he likes watching me cook dinner from his carseat, and he smiles and gurgles at me every morning while I get ready for the day. Happy four months on this planet, Willem Altair!

20140618. Four months!

20140618. Four months!

20140618. Four months!

My Big Fat Baby

Willem had his four-month doctor appointment today.

20140610. Tummy time is tiring...

Oh, hi! Don’t mind me, just busy being ADORABLE.

Two things about this:

  1. Time has absolutely no meaning to me anymore. I’ve been in this strange time warp where it feels like we brought him home just yesterday, and at the same time it feels like he’s been part of our little world forever. I guess when you can’t even keep track of what day it is, it’s no wonder that time is going a little wonky.
  2. We have a gigantic baby on our hands, folks. Willem is happy and healthy and “engaged,” according to the doctor… And he is also 1 ounce shy of 19 pounds. 19 pounds! I found my baby book and learned that four-month-old Willem = 10-month-old me in terms of weight. And I was bigger than him when I was born.
Found my baby book! Willem is now the same weight I was at 10 months.

My baby book.

20140616. Working on the sippy cup action.

Such a big boy – although he has completely rejected bottles, it turns out sippy cups are kind of cool.

I sure do love my big fat baby and all of his dimples and rolls and chins and chunkster thighs. He’s pretty much the best thing ever.

20140616. Stormy outside, sunny inside.

THIS GUY!

Calling All Judgey McJudgersons

I’m convinced that there’s nothing like having a baby to make you realize OH WOW, WAS I EVER A JUDGEY, UNREALISTIC WENCH PRE-BABY!

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but having a Willem in my life has taught me a few things:

1) Everything you said you would/would not EVER do re: baby raising will go completely out the window. Pacifiers? We were NEVER going to use a pacifier. EVER. Enter four-week-old, crying-for-no-reason Willem, and you’d better believe I tried every pacifier available. Turns out he hates pacifiers, but the point is I was suddenly all for it if it helped. Likewise, I’ve read every dang thing out there on getting your baby to do whatever it is you want him to do – say, for instance, sleep past 5 am. Go to bed early! Feed him before you go to bed! Don’t pick him up in the middle of the night! Pick him up immediately when he starts fussing in the middle of the night! Whatever. If it works, I’m going to keep doing it. If it doesn’t feel right (like patting my sobbing baby in his crib because some book told me WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T PICK HIM UP), well, I’m not going to do it. In short, I’ve learned that whatever works for one mom-baby combo is absolutely perfect for them. We’re all just struggling along, doing our best here… and we have no clue what we’re doing.

20140603. My garden buddy.

2) You will become really good at reading your baby… until he/she up and changes on you without any forewarning or notice. By extension, then, don’t gloat. Willem had two weeks of awesome sleep – bed at 8:30, woke up once between 3:30 and 5, and slept until 6:30 or 7. It was a glorious two weeks. And then he was back to waking a few times each night, cooing and talking away happily at 4:45 am, waking up crying an hour after going to bed… you get the picture.

Morning garden visits.

3) You will also get really good at prioritizing. I kid you not, one morning while getting ready, I had this inner dialogue: “First I need to put clothes on. Clothes are non-negotiable. Is the baby still happy? Check. Okay, I’m good for another two minutes. Should I take a dump, pluck my eyebrows, or comb my hair?” You also get really good at doing everything with one arm and at lightning speed. Chris found a one-handed bottle opener the other day, and I was like, BITCH PLEASE. I’ve been opening bottles one-handed for months now!

Tummy time.

4) You will become a tired, pissy wench unless you realize you just need to go with the flow and accept (and even be glad for) exactly what is in front of you in that instant. Note that what is in front of you may be an exhausted baby who woke up at 5 am but has decided his morning nap should be 30 minutes rather than his usual 1.5 hours. Note also that you will need to remind yourself over and over and over again of this point, particularly if you have a million other things you need to get done. Truly, you are just along for the ride here, and the sooner and more completely you embrace that, the better.

Thanks, Circle City Rain Barrels!

5) You will find yourself extremely annoyed when, after expressing that you’re just TIRED, you are told to not worry about folding the laundry or the dirty dishes in the sink. Believe me, I’m not stressed because the dishes are piling up. I’m stressed because the baby has decided to nap only in my arms (and my arms get TIRED, dangit!) or I haven’t shaved my legs in a week or I have an ever-growing list of work-related tasks that need to be done or I would just really like to be able to spend an uninterrupted 30 minutes tending the garden and cleaning the (absolutely disgusting) chicken coop. Or I’d just like 10 minutes during which I’m doing something as decadent as reading a magazine while not holding a baby – and not feel guilty about that. By comparison, laundry and dirty dishes are a piece of cake; it’s all the other LIFE stuff that gets you.

My dudes.

6) And after writing #5, I must revisit #4. Because, ultimately, this is exactly what I signed up for – a sweet, smiley, funny, thoughtful, crazy little ball of baby who, every moment, is becoming more and more his own tiny human self. And I get to see it happen. How cool is that? I’m the one who gets the giant smiles first thing in the morning, the adorable coos all day long, the funny little facial expressions and gestures and rocking chair snuggles. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Sumo baby.