Birdie, the Master of the Photobomb

Our dog is a pretty spectacular little beastie in a lot of ways. She has amazing ears, is exceedingly snuggly, and has been described by the doggie daycare down the street at “the UN ambassador of doggie daycare.” She is also the master of the photobomb, and I thought it high time we begin compiling the magic for posterity’s sake.

Christmas family portrait:
20131225. Family photo.

Family photo photobomb:
Family photo!

Bath time photobomb:
20140312. Bath time! Note Birdie hiding under the table.

Exersaucer/I wanna go outside photobomb: Once you see her, you can’t look at anything else.
These guys. And yet another amazing Birdie photo bomb.

Okay, not exactly a photobomb, but she really wanted to play catch with this artichoke. Look at her sitting so nicely.
20130817. Birdie has an interest in artichokes.

Good dog, Birdie! Good dog!

The Day Has Finally Arrived*

*No, I am not in labor.

Nope, folks, the day has finally arrived when:

  • None of my maternity shirts actually cover my stomach anymore, and I have resigned myself to a wardrobe of dresses and leggings or my own frightful incarnation of the bare midriff style (just imagine your average American Apparel model, then add 30 pounds to the belly region and 20 years).
  • Looking in the mirror in the morning is more to get a good laugh than to actually make myself look presentable or, dare I even try, CUTE.
  • Not leaving the house for three days in a row does not seem shocking; leaving the house, on the other hand, sounds like waaaaay too much work.
  • My idea of a party down, no holds barred weekend is planting seeds for the summer garden, making a giant vat of black beans to freeze, knitting a sweater, and making fun of the commercials playing during the Olympics (Fritos on a sub? I can’t think of a food that would be a better antonym to “eating fresh.” Also, are we really going to liken some fat slob biting into one of his 20-for-$5 chicken McFrankenNuggets to an Olympian biting his/her gold medal? REALLY?! And don’t even get me started on the health benefits of drinking an ice cold CocaCola. I’m sure Olympians the world over are chugging that shit down).

I guess all of that is just to say we’re still here, and we’re still waiting. Here are some recent scenes from the current waiting game:

39 weeks:
20140208. 39 weeks.

Me and Birdie, taking selfies to distract ourselves from the hideousness that is ice dancing (no offense if that’s the kind of thing that rings your bell):
Me and Birdie watch the Olympics.

Super sweet, unexpected (and maybe handmade?) gifts from super sweet neighbors. I guess they noticed me living on my bike last summer!
20140209. Sweet baby gift from our sweet neighbors.

Chris’ superhero outfit (err, I mean, protection for insulating our attic. Did I forget to mention he went on a house insulating kick a few weeks ago? He really needs to figure out some sort of amazing Halloween costume with this getup):
20140209. Chris in his attic insulating superhero costume.

And the part I’m most excited about: the beginnings of our 2014 garden! I am loving the stories behind our seeds this year, many of which are heirloom varieties purchased from Seed Savers Exchange. I think I’ll be doing a dreamy regular feature this summer on each of their stories. Because I get into that sort of thing. I also love how our no-frill, inauspicious setup will produce the most amazing garden and food all summer long.
20140209. The seeds are planted! Our no frills growing setup.

Bump Watch 2014: We’re Full Term, Baby!

37 weeks today, and my belly is quite the sight!

20140125. Bump Watch 2014: Weeks 34-37.

A few other pregnancy-related things:

      • Getting out of (or even rolling over in) bed is becoming an Olympic sport. My own personal winter Olympics. I’ll show you, Sochi!

20140125. 37 weeks.

    • The hospital bag is packed as much as it can be, and the car seat is now in Chris’ car.

20140125. Hospital packing list.

    • I have fantastic friends: Maggie gifted us a wonderful chicken kids book, chicken “feed me” onesie, sitz bath tea (which smells so good I want to drink it… don’t worry, I won’t), and even meal worms for the chickens! We also received an amazing vintage TV night light from one of Chris’ co-workers, then splurged a little at Tractor Supply Company this afternoon: baby’s first Carhaart overalls and a farm book with beautiful block print art.

20140125. Amazing gifts and amazing finds!

Baby's first TV!

The only TV our kid will ever have in his/her room.

Tractor Supply Company is officially my favorite store.

If I didn’t already own a pair of rubber boots, these would SOOO be mine. I heart Tractor Supply Company.

  • The last week has felt like a month. I think that means I’m (as) ready (as I’ll ever be).

In other news, Birdie was exceedingly needy yesterday. Normally, she’s pretty cool with just hanging out while I work, but yesterday she would have none of that whole closed-office-door business.

BEFORE (this was coupled with some of the saddest little moans I’ve heard her make):

Birdie really really really wanted to hang out with me today.

AFTER (happily chewing on her Kong on the office/nursery rug). Oh, little Bird:

Happy pup, finally allowed into the office.

P.S. She is currently stretched out on the couch next to me with her head resting on my wrist as I type this. MY puppy.

The Sweet Daily Grind of Vacation

Vacation life, in bullet point and photo form:

    • Christmas vacation started with a wonderful visit from my parents. It was the perfect combination of fun things to do and straight chilling out. We wandered around Nashville, Indiana; watched football; ate homemade chili and egg casserole and cinnamon rolls and WAY too much chocolate, beer, wine, and Bailey’s (family tradition); watched a really excellent version of A Christmas Carol; enjoyed one of my favorite Christmas movies (ahem…. Die Hard 2, of course); perused the Indianapolis Museum of Art‘s contemporary floor; and, of course, opened loads of presents.
20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: adorable whale rattle and fox baby booties, our new family photo, my lovely parents, me and my mom, and Boombox scanning the presents.

20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: Our present-laden tree, my new chalkboard drawing with Die Hard quotation, Chris and his new handknitted hat, anatomically correct gingerbread men, and Birdie getting cozy with my dad.

    • Yesterday, I took the tree down so we could start Ambitious Vacation Project of 2013 (TM): replacing the carpet in our living room with laminate flooring. I am currently typing from a couch in the middle of a mostly empty, very carpetless room. With all the animals we have – plus adding a kid into the mix – the carpet is just gross. It will be AWESOME once it’s done.
20131226. Family room, pre-flooring.

The living room before.

20131226. Family room, mid-carpet removal.

The carpet comes up!

    • In baby news, if you see a pregnant woman (aka ME) waddling along, it’s not because her belly is so giant she’s about to fall over. It’s because her back hurts so badly it has become difficult to walk. Unfortunately, this pain is most exacerbated by bending over to do work (picture weeding in the garden or – here’s the unfortunate part – pulling staples out of the floor or moving heavy furniture to allow for laminate flooring to be laid). So I felt pretty useless today. I like to be able to help, to DO, and I’ve never really had a health problem that seriously kept me from being able to do the things I want to do.
20131225. Cabled baby blanket.

Instead, I’ve been reading a lot, doing yoga, running errands, and finishing knitting projects, like this cabled baby blanket.

    • In other baby news, I’m starting to feel like I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET THIS BABY. Like, I’m ready. And I’m starting to feel excitedly impatient. Seven weeks and counting!

20131225. Whale rattle.

Today was the quintessential vacation day:

    • I started with day two of morning yoga, which is helping the back out and generally making me feel better about my suddenly unwieldy frame and non-existent stomach muscles.
    • Over coffee, I ordered seeds for the 2014 garden. This is always one of my favorite winter activities: dreaming of springtime’s seedlings poking through the soil, hot summer breezes playing through the bean blossoms, bees buzzing, and chickens scratching through thick grass.

20131227. 2014 garden dreaming!

    • I also did an inventory of the seeds I already have from the past few years. Yikes. I wouldn’t call it a “problem,” per se, but I’ve got quite a seed library going.

20131227. Not that it's a problem, but I might have a bit of a seed problem.

    • It was a balmy 45 degrees today, so after a shower, Birdie and I went for a quick jaunt around the ‘hood, then I ran some errands (including a treat Starbucks run for me and my hard working husband) with my coat unbuttoned, my window down (a little), and Birdie as my co-pilot.
    • Following some afternoon baby book reading, Chris and I tucked into spicy turkey chili and fresh broccoli. YUM.

Not usually one to photograph my food, but dinner tonight was kind of the bomb. Turkey chili and broccoli, what?!

Now? Now it’s movie and snuggle time in our deconstructed home. For posterity’s sake, here’s what’s on tap for the 2014 garden, thanks to a Seed Savers Exchange gift card from my in-laws. Great Christmas gift, am I right?

  • Sunflower, Autumn Beauty
  • Radish, Plum Purple
  • Radish, French Breakfast
  • Pepper, Aji Cristal
  • Pepper, Black Hungarian
  • Onion, Yellow of Parma
  • Lettuce, Forellenschluss
  • Ground Cherry, Aunt Molly’s
  • Cucumber, Edmonson
  • Cucumber, Double Yield
  • Beet, Bull’s Blood
  • Bean, Ideal Market
  • Bean, Purple Pod Pole
  • Asian Green, Mizuna
  • Arugula

Giving Thanks, Day 2: She’s a Bird

Pretty much every day since we got her as an adorable pup, I’ve been thankful for Birdie. I won’t say it was a total whim to get her, but I also wasn’t exactly planning for years and years to get a dog. After all, we had two cats, five chickens, and two humans already occupying our 1/8-acre / 1200 square foot house. Was there really room for a dog?

The answer: absolutely. Getting Birdie was one of the best decisions we’ve made as a couple, I think – right up there with getting chickens, buying a house, and getting married.

TODAY’S THANKS: So while I am thankful for many, many things about Birdie, today I am specifically thankful for Birdie’s expressive, hilarious ears.

Today’s ears:

20131107. Birdie and her ears.

Ears of Birdie-days past:

The original shelter photo that forced us to fall in love with Birdie.

20121030. Birdie's sweetest face.

20121104. We are the best snugglers.

20121123. Birdie and her heater.

20130410. Birdie's spent grain biscuits - before and after.

20130119. Warm January day at Holliday Park.

Just Another Manic Monday

When I pause for a moment to take a good, hard look at all the things we have going on this summer, I realize it’s kind of a lot. Today was one of those days where it felt like it. Kind of a lot, that is.

Have I mentioned lately that we are engaged? Because we are. Which basically means the next step is to get married. Have I also mentioned we are pulling together a wedding by September (date still TBD)? I realized today that even very small weddings require a certain degree of coordination that is a large step above “backyard barbecue,” which is pretty much the extent of my party planning skills to date.

And then there’s the apprenticeship, the chickens, the dog, the cats, the summer projects, the garden, the job, the still-nebulous dreams for the future, and the many, many other things I’ll divulge in more detail at some point.

The long and short of it: I’m overwhelmed today, so I’m going to show you some pretty pictures of my evening, then curl up on the couch with some warm zucchini bread and a good book until I pass out at, oh, 9:00 or so.

Life continues on the homefront. The bee balm is swarmed by bees daily…
20130708. Bee balm bonanza.

The zucchini plants continue to bleed…
20130708. Bleeding zucchini.

Birdie maintains her cuteness…
20130708. Backlit Birdie.

And, as her winter coat falls out, we learn that her skin is spotted like a wee, tail wagging cow’s…
20130708. Birdie's winter coat fell out, and it turns out she's spotted like a cow underneath.

And finally, the peppers multiply like bunnies. I seem to have a pepper problem, though. The problem is I got the seedlings completely mixed up, and I have no idea what’s what. Well, I have a little idea… Eh, whatever. They’ll all get pickled and scarfed down regardless.
20130708. First pepper haul.

P.S. Heavens to Betsy, this may be the best zucchini bread I’ve ever eaten. Bless you and your restorative powers, zucchini bread!

Babies on the Brain…

And in the yard and in the house and on the fence and on and on and on…

My co-worker today told me that, during the 17-year cicada cycle, there is a huge growth in baby animal populations. I don’t have any better explanation for the insane number of baby animals we have found in the yard lately, so I’m going with it.

First, we discovered the cutest baby bunnies I HAVE EVER SEEN (turned out to be at least five) hiding out in our garlic beds. This little muffin and its siblings were about the size of tennis balls (in other words, TIIIIINY).

20130512. There she is!

Then, as Chris was leaving for work this morning, he discovered this magical, mythical beast just hanging out, covered in babies, on our fence.

Backyard Opossum with Babies

I mean, like, SERIOUSLY?! Are you KIDDING ME?!!!

Backyard Opossum with Babies

As long as we’re on the subject of babies, I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention two of my favorite wee babes, who we got to see this past weekend: my beautiful nephews.

20130511. Zach's 1st birthday, hugging his new hedgehog and rabbit.

Zachary, age one.

20130512. Me and my sweet Ben.

Ben, age almost-four.

And finally, there’s MY baby, Birdie, who has injured herself yet again. It breaks my heart. She managed to rip a nail completely in half in a dishwasher-related freakout last night, leading to a restless night that culminated in me dragging a blanket and pillow out to the rug in the living room at 5:00 this morning and petting her until she stopped whining and fell asleep beside me. My poor, sweet girl.

20130514. No chew!


Little Red, Big World…

Chickens running is definitely up there on the list of simple things that can make me ridiculously happy no matter what the weather, my personal circumstances, or what bad news I might have received.

Thus begins my NEW EPIC VIDEO QUEST – the quest to get what I believe is the epitome of the chicken run, the Little Red run, captured on video. I’m not sure how well I succeeded tonight, but the chickens do come when called more reliably than Birdie does.

Speaking of Little Red, she laid a mutant egg today:

20130507. Little Red's mutant egg.

While I was out playing with the chickens, Birdie, feeling left out and alone in the house, attempted to guess my password so she could have a YouTube chicken video marathon of her own.

20130507. Birdie doesn't know my password, but she's dying to watch cat videos on the internet.

(She didn’t guess it).

Rotational Grazing, Space-Farm Style…

Here on our little postage stamp of land, we practice our own version of rotational grazing. It goes something like this:

  • First, you let the chickens loose. They eat lots of weedy grass and worms and hay and, sometimes, the perennials just starting  to come back from a long winter.
  • The chickens poop. Everywhere. Seriously, I keep walking into the backyard barefoot, and I don’t know what my problem is. Landmines, I tell you. LANDMINES.
  • Then, you let Birdie the dog loose. Birdie eats the taller grasses, as well as the poops. We call them “lawn snacks.” Then Birdie poops.
  • And… repeat the above process.

Eat your heart out, Joel Salatin!