Our Freezer Has Never Witnessed This Level of Beauty

No, for real. Look at how pretty our freezer is these days! I could cry.

20140930. Our freezer is a magical, colorful land of baby food.

We’ve got carrots, pumpkin, apple sauce, black beans, berries, sweet potatoes, chicken noodle soup, peas, and spinach all in puree form… and some chocolate peanut butter ice cream for the grown ups.

Also, Willem had spaghetti (mixed with winter squash puree) for the first time today. I think he’s a fan.

20140930. Willem's first spaghetti (with winter squash).

In other “I like to eat things” news, here I am trying to teach Willem that eating grass is icky. It’s a work in progress. He IS quite small.

Baby Spiders and Chicken Poop

This morning, well before I was sufficiently caffeinated to take on the day, I accomplished one of our big fall chores: deep cleaning the chicken coop and run.

20140920. The biannual massive coop cleaning.Chickens, you ask? We have chickens? Oh, right! We DO have chickens. What with all the all-baby-all-the-time lately, I can understand how you forgot about our five backyard dwellers and purveyors of fine eggs.

20140920. Boo dust bathing.

Raggedy, molting, super-layer Boo.

The girls are still alive and kicking, although I realized the other day they are starting to get a little, well, OLD. At least in terms of productive layers. We’ve had no problem with egg shortages yet, but the girls were born spring/summer of 2012. Two and a half years old, all of them!

20140920. Little Red and Dino Puppy, temporarily friends.

The only time Little Red willingly gets this close to Dino Puppy, who is a total bully.

Here are a selection of sentences I uttered to my husband before 10 am. Some weekends are just… like this:

  • “I have chicken poop all over me.”
  • “There’s some oregano in the front walk.”
  • “Don’t forget about the baby spiders.”
  • “There are three mosquitoes on Willem’s head.”
  • “I didn’t really scrub it. I just powerwashed it and poured vinegar all over.”

Speaking of babies (did someone mention babies?), Willem is now seven months old!
20140918. Seven months.

And he’s going to be a little lamb for his first Halloween:
20140915. Little lambie's first Halloween costume.P.S. I almost forgot about the baby spiders! Upon removing the wheelbarrow from its hanger on the wall, I discovered two sweet spider eggs hanging out, one of which had hatched. Hundreds of baby spiders smaller than poppy seeds were moving oh so silently around their little web. And by “sweet” spider eggs, I mean “terrifying.” And by “silently,” I mean “with great malevolance.” Spiders? I love them in theory, but not so much in practice. Or hatching in my garage.

Adventures in EATING, Baby Edition

It is so strange to me that I get to witness another human being’s first time ever eating stuff. We like food over here, as evidenced by our garden (and our restaurant/takeout bill – up until last month when we decided we really needed to cut it out if we are going to be able to survive on one income). I was really hoping Willem would like food, too. General consensus? Does he ever.

20140726. New high chair. And our awesome kid.

No, really. I swear he likes food. This is just his well-honed Elvis impression.

Like, yesterday? Willem ate PEAS for the first time. Ever. In his life. And he was all, “Hey, it’s no big thing, I’m just eating PEAS. For the first time. Which, by the way, are REALLY GOOD, and CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME MORE? Right MEOW?

Half a year old today.

Beets are also a serious fave.

It’s also kind of amazing watching his little brain work. He’s at the stage where, if you put a Cheerio or overcooked piece of broccoli or green bean in front of him, he gets laser sharp focus on whatever is on that tray. First he rakes it into his fist. If he gets a good grip on it and part of it is sticking out (on the mouth side, that is), he’s in business. If not, he sucks on his hand, shoving as much of it in as he can in hopes of getting that little food morsel out. If not? Well, he drops it back on the tray and starts all over again. Baby development = super cool to see.

20140724. Sweet potatoes are GOOD.

SO WHAT’S ON THE MENU? This is mostly for my own reference (and for times when I will inevitably feel uninspired re: Willem snacks and need a reminder of some faves), but here are just a few things our little guy has inhaled. We haven’t had to buy baby food yet – just made this stuff from fresh and frozen produce:

  • Sweet potato sticks, green beans, and broccoli (cooked soft so he can feed himself)
  • Homemade chicken noodle soup
  • Peas, spinach, and lentils
  • Banana and pumpkin with a little pumpkin pie spice
  • Beets!
  • Peas!
  • Carrots and apple sauce
  • Broccoli, carrots, and spinach
  • Black beans with just about anything
  • Lentils with just about anything
  • Peaches and blueberries

So we’ve got eating down. Now if we could just figure out how to not end up with sweet potato or spinach up our nose and down our sleeves.

A Gratuitous Post All About LOVE and THE FUTURE

Today marks our one-year wedding anniversary. What a wonderful, insane year it has been.

20130907. Our wedding!

20130907. Our wedding!

20130907. Our Wedding!

20130907. Our Wedding!

20130907. Our Wedding!

For instance, we now have some new residents: tens of thousands of bees and an adorable almost-seven-month-old.

Willem adores his BFF Crosby:
Friends.

Homies and their chew toys.

As always, we are looking to the future. I think that’s one of the coolest things about us as a couple: we push each other and support each other and egg each other on with whatever latest hairbrained scheme one of us has until it doesn’t seem so hairbrained anymore and we actually do it.

Today’s discussion (during lunch at La Margarita, our fave Mexican restaurant, which I hadn’t visited since my due date) centered around finding some land/buying a farm so Chris could start raising nucs and building top bar hives (the latter he could do here; the former, not so much). I also had a really freaking amazing idea last night centered around food deserts and a new way of getting produce to communities who would maybe love to eat fresh produce if only they had access…. And that’s all I want to say about THAT because I might actually want to try to do it at some point.

I’m also exploring new ways to spread art into the world (and maybe make a little cash on the side so we can maybe, possibly, actually get us some land one of these days) and have re-opened my Etsy shop! Visit me at www.etsy.com/shop/famousthecat and get yourself a custom “home sweet home” print to display your own family love all year round.

Here’s ours:
20140712. Updated Home Sweet Home.

Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #3: ON HIPPIE MOM IDENTIFIERS

Here lies the third and final (for now) installment of “too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream” (aka trying to figure out where we fit into this whole “parenting” thing).

There’s nothing like a cloth diaper sticking out of a onesie or an amber necklace or a toddler who has never seen Finding Nemo to scream, “HIPPIE MOMMY HERE!” So let’s chat about bums, necks, and TV-induced brain rot.

ON CLOTH DIAPERING: Okay, so I’ve been a pretty big cloth diaper proponent up until the last month or so. I swear, Willem’s, ahem, output is just not being contained anymore. We go through three, sometimes four outfits in a single day due to wetness. Our newest experiment is doubling up the diaper pads, which makes him look like an extra straight out of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “I Like Big Butts” video. So far, it seems to be working; will report back.

When I told Chris I was considering the possibility that we’d need to move to disposable diapers soon, his response was, “If you had seen the diaper I changed the other day, you’d already be running to the store for diapers.” I think he’s still traumatized.

20140717. Willem.ON AMBER NECKLACES: Maybe once Willem starts teething and I’m desperate for something, anything to help us get through it, I’ll feel differently about the ubiquitous hippie mama amber necklace. For now, the science just doesn’t back up the claims of soothing teething pain enough for me to insert this beautiful choking/strangulation hazard into our lives. No judgment whatsoever for those using amber beads, for real – I have a lot of friends who swear by them. For us, it’s a no.

ON “SCREEN TIME”: When Willem was first born (okay, let’s be real, for the first four weeks of his life at least), I was a Netflix junky. The TV was on ALL. THE. TIME. Because I was a sweaty, hormonal, exhausted mess just trying to keep it together, and I spent more time on the couch, nursing my son and eating Pop Tarts, than anywhere else. We’re talking, “I made it through 7 seasons of the Deadliest Catch” Netflix-junky-level. Oh, yeah. Shit just got real in this here blog.

Nowadays, the TV is hardly ever on when Willem is awake, but this winter? When football season starts? We’ll see what happens then.

IMG_0055

Willem at 1.5 weeks old. I somehow look pretty coherent here. What I’m thinking: wha…? Where am I? Who are these people? What is this baby doing here? Am I awake or asleep? Can we go back in time to when I was pregnant so I can just have one more full night’s sleep?

When it comes right down to it, I just can’t get my undies in a bunch over screen time. We’ve Skyped with faraway relatives, and when he’s super extra crazy fussy, 10 minutes of Finding Nemo gives mommy a much-needed break. I can’t imagine his synapses are getting that jacked up from 10 minutes of THE SWEETEST MOVIE EVER.

I think that sums up the latest in my quest to figure out who the hell I am as a mom. For me, it comes down to “live and let live.” If it’s working for you and your baby, awesome. If it’s working for me and my baby, I will never assume it’s the best for anyone else. I’m thankful for the good days and the minor successes, and I’m getting better at taking the tough stuff in stride.

And I love my kid with all my heart, so that certainly makes all of it worth it and perhaps one of the coolest times of my life.

Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #2: ON SLEEPING

In the second installment of “too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream (aka trying to figure out where we fit into this whole “parenting” thing), let’s talk SLEEP. Or lack thereof?

ON SLEEPING: I think co-sleeping is super awesome. I really do. I always feel a tiny pang of wistfulness when people talk about co-sleeping. Again, though, it’s one of those “love it in theory, not for us in practice” type things. Mostly, we just don’t have a big enough bed, but also? Newborn babies are LOUD. Willem slept in a mini pack and play next to our bed until he was four weeks old, and the kid honked like a goose. I kid you not. At four weeks, I realized I was getting quite literally NO sleep, and it was off to the crib with him. We never looked back.

20140823. Willem's room is coming together.

Where the sleeping magic happens.

At four months, we experienced the dreaded four-month sleep regression. It was awful. The dude would only nap for longer than 30 minutes in my arms or in the carrier. Which is no huge deal, but have you seen my baby? My baby is BIG. My body was HURTING. Ideally, I wanted him to be able to nap in his crib.

20140429. Me and the babe.

Back when Willem’s naps were ON ME.

Not only that, but none of us were happy or well-rested. He’d wake screaming, and I’d struggle for 45 minutes to get him back to sleep. Something had to change, and so we finally got on a loose schedule (I KNOW! A baby on a schedule?!), following the “Eat, Awake, Sleep” cycle. I quickly realized he really didn’t need to nurse to sleep. We instituted a nap and bed time routine. We know how long he generally is able to be awake before getting sleepy again, and we watch for sleep cues like a hawk. We focused on nothing but getting Willem into this new mode of sleep, complete with three decent naps a day, for about two weeks. And you know what? It took. We now have a baby who, most days and nights, actually SLEEPS.

So yeah. It was really, really hard work, but it worked for us.

Sweet sleep.

Nap time, complete with elephants on parade.

On the sleeping note, I scoff a bit at the suggestion that there is any sleeping solution that could be entirely “no cry.” Yeah, yeah, I bought the book. I read the book. The book has a lot of good ideas in it. But a baby, not crying at all? Babies cry to communicate. They cry when they are tired or overstimulated or just want to be held or just want to be put down. Sometimes babies cry, and you can’t figure out a reason. All you can do is hold them and be sweet to them and sing them songs. Sometimes, you even have to put them down into the crib crying (GASP!) and give them a minute to try to work it out themselves. I discovered this one day when, at my wit’s end, I set Willem down – and 30 seconds later, all was quiet. He just needed to settle himself, and no amount of me holding him was going to help him do that.

And you know what? Some babies are just complete shit for sleeping. For real. I think Willem is actually a pretty easy baby (now) in the sleep department, and he still wakes screaming inexplicably some nights. If we ever have a second, he/she will probably be hell on wheels, and I’ll look back on these days, a single, silent tear of wistfulness running down my cheek. Eh, who am I kidding? I’ll be weeping openly.

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).┬áThese 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.

Balance

So… I was supposed to return from maternity leave to my old, full-time, wonderful job on May 15. I had been there six years and had very much climbed the ladder (and had been given the opportunity, trust, and support to do so from my boss, co-workers, our board, our members… everyone) in terms of both salary and job responsibilities/title. It was an awesome place to grow and learn, and in those respects it was very hard to not go back.

In the I-have-a-Willem-now respect, though, it was very, very easy to not go back. I just… I can’t even imagine working full time right now and am utterly thankful I am not having to make that work. However, being completely focused on a baby and someone else’s needs? That gets old fast, and so I am super lucky and thankful to be working very part-time for Growing Places Indy as their operations manager. I’m writing grants, tracking donations and entering data into QuickBooks, doing graphic design – basically, whatever needs getting done, I’ll do. It keeps me tied to the real world in an awesome way, since I get to work for an organization that is doing some amazing stuff in my city and that I really believe in and am interested in already.

I’m pleased as punch to see my signs around town for our new u-pick farm and farm stand:

Farm U-Pick and Farm Stand, Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center

Growing Places Indy's Urban U-Pick is open for business!

And the other day we got notice that we received funding on the first grant I’ve ever applied for. It seems weird that this is the first grant I’ve actually ever applied for; I’ve worked on grants for other people before but never really been the head grant-applicator. Or something. Anyway, it’s awesome, and it means we will be able to grow produce year-round AND support a year-round urban farmer, which is huge. I’m super proud.

P.S. Backyard panorama, just for scuzz.

Backyard panorama.

P.P.S. Speaking of “balance,” I’d be remiss to not post a picture of my Willem being cute, right?

The cutest.