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?

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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.

The Longest Trimester (and How to Survive It)

In true “ain’t nobody got time for that” form, I’m continuing to get sh*t done today (particularly sh*t I’ve been putting off). A sampling of the day so far:

  • Continued researching vaccinations and came up with a rough extended schedule to share with the doctor.
  • Ordered some new curtains for the living room.
  • Stocked up on items we’ll need/won’t want to run out for post-birth, including some truly glamorous health care type things for me in the days after baby comes, labor supplies like juice and snacks, some treats (hot cocoa and Burt’s Bees body butter), and general stuff humans use and run out of (think extra toilet paper and paper towels, shaving cream, etc.).
  • Cleaned out my car.
  • Started a couple of music playlists for when I’m in labor on my iPod, starting with a mellow one and a happy/sing along songs one.

The third trimester continues to drag on, though, as I get more and more excited/impatient to meet this little one (and more and more uncomfortable). Every once in a while, I can almost convince myself that my body is pretty much as it has always been. Then I slip back into feeling like my belly button is about to split open or I take my weekly photo (like my 36-week shot below) and realize, WOW, I’m gigantic!

20140118. 36 weeks.

So what items have gotten me through the third trimester so far? For posterity’s sake, here’s a brief list:

  1. Smoothies – I cannot get enough. We’ve used up all the frozen mulberries in our fridge from the summer, and I’m now stuck on a banana/yogurt/peach/almond milk/cinnamon/peanut butter combo.
  2. Burt’s Bees – Specifically, I’m kind of fanatical about their Belly Butter, Honey Lip Balm, and Almond Milk Hand Cream.
  3. Netflix – We have current marathons of X-Files and Dexter going right now.
  4. Comfy pants – My old faves were drawstring sweatpants from American Apparel, but tying that damn drawstring is way too much trouble, given the number of times I pee every evening. My flannel pajama pants have gotten a lot of play in the last month.
  5. Lipstick (and Eyeliner and Mascara) – On those inevitable days where you feel decidedly un-pretty, it’s amazing what lipstick in some ridiculously bright hue can do for a girl. Same goes for a little eyeliner and mascara.20120406. The month of lipstick!
  6. The fresh fruit or veggie du jour – Not gonna lie: I definitely went through a phase during this pregnancy where all I felt like eating was pizza, cheese, bread, and sweets. Thank goodness that passed. Lately, I have been absolutely CRAVING fresh fruits and veggies. Give me a nice honeycrisp apple; a plate full of spinach, sunflower shoots, and radishes; some roasted cauliflower; or a huge glass of carrot-ginger juice, and I am a happy girl.20130914. Annual Anderson Orchard visit.
  7. Chris – Last but certainly not least, Chris has gotten me through. Last night, he texted to say, “I don’t think I’m going out after work tonight. I just want to order a pizza and snuggle on the couch.” And I was all, THANK YOU, JEEBUS, because that is all I want to do, too, and I promptly changed into my comfy pants (see above).

    Here’s the boy and the dog, who LOVES playing with leftover kale stalks from last year’s garden.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

Chris has channeled this wise woman for his pre-baby philosophy of life. I must say, living the “ain’t nobody got time for that way” is very effective and has started rubbing off on me.

So what don’t we have time for these days?

EXHIBIT A: Lingering Ambitious Flooring Projects. Chris finished the Ambitious Flooring Project of 2013/2014 last weekend, and it is wonderful!

With two adults, two cats, and one dog, our old carpet (which was stained and gross when we moved in) was just not getting any prettier. BEFORE:

20131226. Family room, pre-flooring.

20131226. Family room, pre-flooring.

Now? Oh, now we have a thing of beauty – flooring that will be easy to clean all of the various mammalian residues and deposits off of, which will be especially awesome once the baby gets here. Also, it’s dead sexy. BEHOLD – AFTER!

20140108. Sneak preview of our new sexy flooring!

20140115. Our brand new family room flooring.

EXHIBIT B: Intimidating, Yet Deceptively Simple, Baby Stuff Assembly. Today I experienced a great accomplishment. It involves an infant car seat. Seriously, have you ever tried to install a car seat? Because everyone freaks you out so much about installing that damn thing that it almost paralyzes you with fear.

Not only was I able to fit the infant car seat into my roller skate of a car, assuaging my fears that I would need a new car to accommodate the dang thing, but I was able to figure out how to connect it properly, armed with just a user manual and my own brain piece. SUCCESS!

EXHIBIT C: The Chickens Ain’t Got Time for That, Either. The chickens have jumped on the band wagon, too, and decided that nobody’s got time for winter and its short, cold days anymore. Spring time is around the corner, and for the first time in three months, we have two more chickens who have joined Boo, our workhorse leghorn, in deciding to lay eggs again!

20140117. Finally, more than white eggies in the skelter.

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

The Garden Gets Just a Little More Awesome

I am exceedingly proud of our work this weekend. Well, to be fair, Chris did almost all of it, from planning to materials pickup to post hole digging, etc. I was the Vanna White to his Pat Sajak. The Bonnie to his Clyde. The Ernie to his Burt.

So what exactly did we accomplish? WE HAVE A GARDEN FENCE, Y’ALL! A fence to protect our delicate planties from sweet little beings by the names of Birdie, Beaker, Dino Puppy, Boo, Edgar, and Little Red.

20130415. The backyard - year 1, year 2, and year 3.

Our backyard from move-in day until now: May 2011, May 2012, April 2013.

The fence has two giant gates – one near the house and the other headed out toward the compost bins in back. There’s plenty of room to maneuver and, best of all, when I look at it, I don’t see fence. I see plants.

20130415. We have a garden fence!

20130415. We have a garden fence!

I think the plants are pleased, too. Way to kick some serious homeowning butt, Chris.
20130415. Lettuce, cauliflower, and peas.

I also know that probably everyone in the universe has been eagerly awaiting an update re: the barley fodder trays I was growing for chicken snacks. Before we got the fence in, it was pretty impossible to give the chickens access to the yard without the danger of them decimating my kale, cauliflower, and lettuce seedlings. The answer?

Barley fodder trays:
20130413. Barley fodder trays for the chickens.

TL;DR? They didn’t hate it. Here’s a ridiculous video of chickens eating said barley fodder tray with my dorky voice in the background. Ah, chickens…

It’s CHRISTMAS! Music, Storms, Priceless Projects, and SOMUCHFOOD

I have a confession to make: I bought the Carpenters Christmas album off the Apple store last night. Have you ever heard it? There is just something about Christmas that wouldn’t be complete without Karen Carpenter singing, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” to me. I recognized the correct album based on the cover image – I have stared at that cover every Christmas morning, emblazoned on a bonafide record cover, not some mamby-pamby CD cover, since I was probably four.

In other words, it was totally essential to add that to the Christmas playlist today…

…along with this album, which apparently aired the same year I was born (“If you believe in love, that will be more than enough for you to come and celebrate with me” – SING IT, KERMIT!):

In other words, it has been a good day so far. I got to Skype with my family in snowy Colorado, including my two beautiful nephews, this afternoon so I could watch them open our presents (including this handknitted owl for Ben).

20121225. Skyping with the Colorado fam. Ben and his new owl.

Then tonight, we should be getting a massive storm (for Indiana) blowing through with a predicted 6-9″ of snow. Bring it, snow! I got no place to go!

In preparation for tonight’s storm, we stocked up on supplies…

20121225. We are ready for the blizzard.

20121225. Making new (food-related) traditions - cinnamon buns.

We have many good things to read (including TWO copies of this book – such a good read we bought it for each other!)…

20121225. We got each other the same book for Christmas.

We have a doggy to keep our laps warm…

20121220. MY doggy.

We have plenty of eggs (and a brand new egg skelter so I can admire them – best present ever!)…

20121225. Christmas prezzies - an egg skelter!

And we even made a warmer for the chicken waterer! Tin from Goodwill + lamp kit from Lowe’s = $13 warmer. Not having to refresh the chicken waterer four times a day all winter? PRICELESS. We followed the directions from the Chicken Chick, although you really only need to drill one hole and run the wiring through the screw that feeds through the side of the tin. It’s amazing what a 40W bulb will do.

20121225. Chicken waterer warmer.

20121225. Chicken waterer warmer - ready for tonight's storm.

The warmer for the chicken waterer gets highest marks: the Little Red seal of approval.

Tomorrow, all we have to do is watch the storm outside, skim coat a wall or two, plan out our dream furniture for the office, knit, and watch movies. Sounds downright decadent, doesn’t it? Merry Christmas, and hoping you are having an equally blissful day!

20121224. Skim coating the office walls.

Nothing says “Christmas vacation” like an ambitious drywall-related project!

Backyard Manifest Destiny

Manifest destiny was the belief widely held by Americans in the 19th century that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. I am becoming convinced that the same can be applied to chickens and our backyard. Our backyard is the wild west, just waiting to be settled and conquered. Our chickens are the settlers/conquerers.

How have we made it to this point? Here’s the recap: we purchase a coop on wheels, thinking we can move it all over the yard. The coop turns out to be nearly too heavy for one person to move with super wimpy wheels that probably won’t last a season of moving it around our lumpy yard anyway. Still, all seems well – until we go on vacation and three of our four chickens cook in the heat of their attached run. We vow to free range the chickens and look for ways to provide them with more cover. Then we have a hawk run-in AND a chicken escape in the span of two days.

The latest revised plan, then, is to give the girls as much free range time as we can, provided we are physically with them, and make their run able to sustain them happily otherwise. We also wanted the run to be secure so we can someday go on a weekend trip somewhere. Wouldn’t that be amazing? A trip! Away from the house! For more than an afternoon!

We started with this lovely little coop.

20120329. Coop and yard.

The coop, pre-chicken.

After yesterday and Chris’ mad know-how and building skillz, we have this brilliant piece of backyard manifest destiny!

20120908. Extending the chicken run.

Laying out the extended floor. We’ve added 32 square feet of space to their run.

20120908. Extending the chicken run - chicken view.

While Chris continues to attach the sides and roof, I do the VERY important work of documenting the view.

20120908. Extending the chicken run.

All done! Look at that sexy door. We also filled up the new section with dirt and grass clippings to encourage the girls to scratch for bugs and to help level the floor a bit as it sifts down through the wire.

20120908. Beaker and Dino Puppy explore.

Dino Puppy and Beaker, the Easter Eggers, take a stroll.

20120908. "If I can't see you, you can't see me."

Construction can be hard on a chicken. I call this one, “If you can’t see me, I can’t see you.”

20120908. Extending the chicken run.

The finished product!

20120908. 4/5 of the chickens.

I think they’ll like it (also, look how GIANT Edgar, the Australorp, has gotten! And how little Little Red still is).

All this… and can you believe we’re STILL waiting for our first egg?! Jeez, chickens.