Sunday, December 30, 2007

Checking in

What a wonderful Christmas Week we've had: several Christmas celebrations and a string of visitors, including two of my brothers & a girlfriend and our good friend from college. It has been very busy, somewhat tiring, and simply delightful. I'm loving it.

Little guy, big grin

Meanwhile, Pumpkin is responding to our baby talk with big open-mouthed grins and started sucking on his little fists on Christmas Eve. Awwww!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


  • Remember the delicious meatball & tomato sauce recipe I posted awhile back? The one I was ooooing and ahhhhing over? The one that made our heads spin? WELL. I have sad news to report: I've made it twice since, and it hasn't even come close to comparing to that first time. Not even close! In fact just last week, after I bemoaned this fact as we were eating it, Squeeze said, "We've had this before?" I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong! It's depressing. Maybe I screwed it up the first time, never to be repeated again? I will try again, though. It was that good [the first time].

  • While I have kicked the chapstick habit, it seems that I can't completely release myself from putting something on my lips. No, it isn't lip balm. Or chapstick. Or lip gloss. Nor do I put in on the 30-40 times a day like I did when I was hooked. But nevertheless, I am putting something on my lips. What is it, you ask? LANSINOH, twice a day, after I brush my teeth and/or take a shower. Ack! They get too dry if I don't, and it drives me bonks. So...while I'm pretty sure I kicked the chapstick addiction, these lips need some kind of moisturizing something-or-other on them. So I went with a "ultra-pure, medical-grade lanolin to help heal sore, cracked nipples, a major reason women discontinue breastfeeding". For my lips.

  • I've been hording tissue paper and gift bags from all the major events and holidays for the past 7 years. It is in my nature, I can't help it. However, as it has reached the level of complete insanity, I decided to go through them today and DITCH [read: gather them up and bring them to a thrift store]. I couldn't take it anymore. So...I went through bag, after bag, after bag, after box, discovering more and more until I couldn't believe how much we actually lugged with us from Minneapolis in our move this summer. Couldn't I have done this beforehand? Look! Three bags full. Of course, they aren't heavy, but they certainly take up space. The bag on the left is filled entirely with tissue paper that I meticulously flattened and folded after each event. The other two, chock-full of gift bags: wedding, birthday, Christmas, baby shower, miscellany. Insanity.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jingle Bells, revised

Starbeans has been singing Dingle Bells of late.

Dingle bells
Dingle bells
Dingle all da way!

Monday, December 17, 2007

This week's obsession, in books

We keep a limited number of children's books downstairs at our house; most of them are upstairs, on a big blue bookshelf, in the Reading Nook. We have read through the ones downstairs approximately 200 billion times too many and I'm starting to get bored with them; furthermore, due to a system upgrade at our local library, we have been unable to check out books for a week, so there aren't many library books on hand either. This prompted me to start going through our own library to find books that I think Starbeans will like [we haven't spent much time in the Nook since Pumpkin was born, mostly because it is quite chilly (no duct work goes upstairs)].

I found several books that have become smash hits with the little tyke, one of them I didn't even remember that we had. Sheesh. I'm glad though, it was such a fun surprise to find and I've been patting myself on the back for picking it out ever since.

[I don't think I clarified this in the post on my beloved Reading Nook, but 99.99% of the books have come from thrift stores. I could probably find 2-3 books that I actually bought new. Everything else is used (or gifts). That means a lot of vintage books [which I love], and a lot of books with, "To my little Rufus on his first birthday, Love Grandma" inscripted on the front page.]

The first, Starbeans' main obsession, is Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Before we even hit the last page, he is begging to read it again. It is a delightful book and the more we go through it, the more I, myself, notice things about it.

Like how the words are laid out just so: almost poetry. It forces you to pay attention to particular words or phrases and makes her writing more meaningful. There are also various animals hidden in the forest throughout the pages, which Starbeans finds great joy in seeking out. He didn't notice them the first 5-6 times we read it; it is very interesting to watch him discover them as he becomes more familiar with the book.

The second obsession is The Hare and the Tortoise by Brian Wildsmith. This was the one I didn't even realize we had. The illustrations are charming; each page is plumb full of different animals, which Starbeans loves to point at - even a chicken with an egg below it in the crowd of animals. He found special pleasure in pointing that out.

It is fun to read and the bunny is so cute when he gets full on carrots and needs to nap - his tummy is round and he looks so sleepy. I think I've enjoyed looking at the pictures as much as he has!

Finally, and I think this is just so cute, he loves Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. Out of the three, this story is the longest, with the most text on each page. I was amazed that he was able to sit through it, and he continues to be able to sit through it every time we read it. I've wondered if it is because it is a story about a gingerbread baby, not man or boy. All toddlers love babies, so this makes sense to me. He is definitely fascinated with this baby.

The illustrations are great and the storyline is fun. The gingerbread baby is quite mischievous and naughty: he runs all over the place, taunting the people (and animals) trying to catch him, while naughtily tying girls' braids in knots and tweaking the milk and cheese man's nose. The tweaking was Starbeans' favorite part. "Tweak nose!" he said, in the middle of the day once, when we hadn't even been reading the book. I love how he talks about the books we read - it is so refreshing.

Even better, this Wednesday, we are going to Gwampa and Gwampa's house to make gingerbread babies. I think he is really going to enjoy this. I know my MIL & FIL will, and I will too. I'm going to bring the book with, so my FIL can read it to him while the cookies are baking. Maybe we can even pretend that the gingerbread baby tweaks our noses!

Where Pumpkin spends most of his day

Friday, December 14, 2007


Awww...holding hands, even

I think it looks like Pumpkin got a surprise pinch in the butt for this picture. He's so cute (and has grown so much - it is amazing).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

FF >>

I've been feeling like my life is in fast forward and I just can't keep up with it. Not necessarily going too quickly, but more like there is so much that I want to do that there is simply not enough time for. The day ends without much accomplished, except a baby cuddled, a toddler read to, meals prepared, and a few connections with the outside world. Writing this out makes me realize just how proud I am of what I'm doing (and how much I enjoy it).

But...I always have a backlog of books I want to read, blogging, letters to write, small projects to complete, and wishing my house was always clean and tidy.

[My mom is going to laugh out loud at that last sentence. No really, I really do like it when things are tidy! It is just hard to keep it that way, especially my bedroom for some reason: that space has always been the black hole. Thank goodness I am married to a Tidy Man; he usually keeps the place in good order. Before children, all I did was clean cat litters and wash dishes semi-regularly - he did everything else.]


I've really been craving books recently. Surprisingly, I've been able to plow through a several in the last month, which has been a balm to my soul.

Another thing I've really enjoyed within the last 2 months has been poetry. I checked out a couple of different volumes selected by Garrison Keillor from the library: they contain poems with a wide array of moods and topics, which really hits the spot. The first compilation, Good Poems, I knew of from seeing at my brother's apartment; I looked through it last winter and it piqued my interest, specifically after seeing a poem by Wendell Berry. I have usually bypassed poetry, mostly because my exposure to it left a dry taste in my mouth - work that didn't pop or sizzle or breathe, but just kind of drug on and on - but now I am finding it to be quite exhilarating.

The very first flirtation I had with it this fall was a book of poems by Bill Holm called Playing the Black Piano. I picked it up at the library because I noticed he was a local to my new area of MN and I thought it would be interesting to read his observations and ideas. Well, it was very interesting. More so, very thought provoking and entertaining at times. I even cried through a few of the poems, and I was hooked.


I've been delving into children's poetry as well, thanks to some encouragement by Gladys Hunt in Honey for a Child's Heart. Her book recommends Good Books for youngsters, advocating Family Reading Time, unabridged classics, and poetry. The edition I got from the library is copyrighted in the late '70's, so there nothing was newer than 30 years old on her Recommended Reading list, so I enjoyed seeing a lot of books I grew up with! I plan to borrow the 2002 edition from my SIL, to see what has changed in her book list and/or to see what has been added.

Anyhow, I've always been a sucker for vintage books and children's books are no exception. I pulled out Poems to Read to the Very Young by Josette Frank (my edition is from 1958) and have been reading them to Starbeans: we've both enjoyed it very much. I also found a 1979 copy of A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa at the thrift store this last Tuesday. Amazingly, it was on my list of Books to Find.


Finally, I just have to talk about Starbeans' longest running favorite book: Babies by Gyo Fujikawa. He has enjoyed it for well over a year, longer than any other book in our collection. He laughs devilishly on the page where it says, "Sometimes babies are naughty" [the next page has the same children with halos over their heads & looking sweet and it says, "Sometimes they are little angels"]. He loves seeing the babies being naughty - fighting over a doll, tearing pages out of a book, spilling milk on purpose, etc.

Funny, because he also enjoys saying, "Naughty baby!" about and/or to Pumpkin. I always tell him, "Babies are never naughty" and he replies with a congenial, "Okay." He has the same response when I say, "No, that would hurt the baby!" when he asks, "Pinch baby?" or "Poke baby's eye?" or "Bite baby's fingers?" Thank goodness he has never actually done any of it! He just says, "Okay" and that is that.

I must end this post before it takes on a life of it's own! It has been too long since I've posted and I have too much to say, not to mention the actual time to say it. THE END.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Butt plant blooms!

My sister calls Lithops "butt plants" because they have a little crack down the center. They are succulents and exist amongst my favorite indoor flora; native to South Africa, if I remember correctly. We don't have the tag for this one any more, so I don't know the exact name, and this is the first time it has bloomed (others have gone before it). Intensely interesting plants with beautiful flowers: what more could a girl want?

Lithop [unknown species]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sick of worrying about being sick

We've been sick over here.

Starbeans is still finishing with his congestion, but I don't think that is where we got it [he got it from the waiting room at Pumpkin's newborn exam - that place was loaded with sick people]. Squeeze and I are both ill [we think we picked it up from our early Christmas party last Saturday]; I got it first, on Monday night; then he came down with it on Wednesday morning, when he was supposed to be staying home from work to take care of me. So much for that! He moved up in line and became the sickest, so I took care of him.

Somehow, through all of this, we have still avoided Pumpkin becoming sick. I am so thankful, but also very worried (and have been for a couple of weeks). I don't necessarily know if he is in the clear yet, so I am very paranoid about cross-contamination at all hours of the day and night. It is getting very old, although it will be completely worth it if he avoids illness. I'm just so tired of being on guard.

I'll be back to more regular posting once I can get my life back together. Every other day or so, it seems like we have to wash our entire stock of dishes and cooking utensils (we're so behind). Don't even ask me about the state of our home! Ack, it's a Sick House. But it will be a happy Sick House if Pumpkin stays healthy.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oh dear

I don't have much of interest to say, unfortunately. I've been reading Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and laughing so hard that spittle was hitting the computer screen. My goodness, that woman is funny. Her writing is very tight as well; in general, she is pretty awesome. If you have the time, follow the links for her brother, Mike. They are hysterical. We have all had a Mike in our lives, haven't we?

We are celebrating Christmas early this year. Well, actually, we are celebrating Christmas 3 times. This weekend, with Squeeze's siblings & families; Christmas with Squeeze's parents and paternal Grandma; and a few days after Christmas with my brother & his girlfriend and possibly another brother as well. The more, the merrier! Starbeans is going to love it.

I've always said that holiday decorating is for people with kids. Who else has the time for it, other than those arty-decorative-introverts to find pleasure, not work, in creating a festive environment. [I've always been a little jealous of those types - their homes are always so cozy and pretty.] Well: now we have kids. And not just a baby, we have a toddler who, although he would never know the difference if we didn't decorate, is absolutely thrilled by it. He was affectionately kissing the Christmas ornaments on the tree at the bank yesterday, calling the frosted purple balls, "Gwampa ohnament, Gwamma ohnament, Dada ohnament, Mama ohnament!"; when he saw my MIL & FIL's tree last week, he breathed reverently, "Whaaaaaat daaaaaaat???"; and since we've put lights on our tree [a Norfolk Island Pine that my SIL gave me 10 years ago], he has enjoyed hovering around it, poking at the ornaments and saying, "Pwetty Cwitmit lights!"

Yes, we must decorate.

I say this like we've gone over-the-hilt for the kiddo, but don't believe my melodramatic declarations: we've only moved the Norfolk from the sunroom to the living room and hung lights & ornaments on it, then put out a little ceramic Tree and Santa Combo that Squeeze's Grandma gave him many years ago. But it is 100% more than we've ever done.

Now, for posterity, I'll post a picture of my in-laws' tree. Sugar loaf, they call it. I don't believe this picture does it justice.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


We bought a quarter of a cow from a local farmer this year. I haven't eaten or cooked much red meat in my adult years, but I am interested in getting more familiar with it. While many people assume that I am a vegetarian, I do eat meat (but not much).

I've veered from meat for a few different reasons:
  1. Corporate meat freaks me out. The massive feedlots, questionable slaughterhouses, sick animals, distance traveled, etc. It just doesn't sit right. Read Fast Food Nation. If that doesn't change your eating habits, I don't know what will.
  2. I don't know how to cook it. Because I've always avoided it, I don't really know what to do with it other than toss some ground beef into a chili recipe (or things along that line).
  3. Oh, and when you don't know where your meat is coming from, you don't know where it has been, how it has lived, or what diseases it has encountered. Like Mad Cow. That really makes me uncomfortable; especially with some of the stuff I've read, like the poor monitoring systems for Mad Cow in the US. But within this reason also lies: antibiotics, questionable eating habits, E. coli, sorry living conditions, etc. Let's get back to locally produced foods!!

After reading Nourishing Traditions and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this fall, I decided I wanted to incorporate more meat into our diet, with an important clause: it has to be local. I don't like eating and feeling uneasy at the same time. We bought the quarter from a small diversified family farm in our area (and split it with Squeeze's parents). They raise cows, pigs, and chickens. We buy eggs from them as well.

Here's how it went down:

They brought the cow to a local meat locker, where it was butchered and hung (or is that hung and butchered?): we contacted the locker and specified the cuts of meat we wanted as well as the weight for our quarter. A couple of weeks later, they called us to come and get it. Everything was neatly wrapped in butcher paper or air-tight plastic (but mostly paper, which I like).

Now I have to figure out what to do with all this meat.

Ha! So far, I've made 2 juicy burgers [on the cast iron skillet, with kosher salt sprinkled across the griddle - they were amazing] and then, last night, I made the most astounding meal that we've had in a long time. I'm serious: it was unbelievable. Flavorful, robust, and alluring - we were oooing and ahhhhing the whole night through, all because I had a hankering for meatballs with pasta.

I found the recipe in a book my mom got me, called First Meals by Annabel Karmel. Thanks, Mom!! The meatballs where in the Fun Foods section, the pasta sauce, in Family Meals. [Meal: what a weird word.] These recipes have been tinkered with, just a little. Also, I didn't have the pesto for the tomato sauce, but it was delightful even without it.

Meat balls

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small apple, grated
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Parsley
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mix it all together, then coat in flour and fry in a cast-iron skillet.

Special Tomato Sauce

  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 TBSP pesto
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Shredded fresh basil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the garlic. Saute a bit, then add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the basil and cheese. Simmer gently for 15 minutes or so. Add the basil and Parmesan, cook just until the cheese has melted.

Serve with pasta of your choice. Delicious with red wine.

Now...onwards and forwards I go into battle, learning to cook red meat. My next venture: pot roast.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cinnamon rolls cause obsession

I just looked at a blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, that had 1335 comments on one post. Wow. I mean, how do you even sift through that many comments? I came across it through another blog I keep up on, Nutmeg Mama, when she posted on some amazing-looking cinnamon rolls she made, recipe courtesy of Pioneer Woman. I haven't made them yet, but just thinking about them kept me awake and staring into space after a night-time nursing session with Pumpkin last week. I'm salivating just contemplating them, and I don't even really care for sweets! I don't know what got into me, other than I really really want some divine-looking cinnamon rolls.

Starbeans is recovering from a cold. He started to get sick last Thursday: sneezing, running snot, watery red eyes, low-grade fever. Just in time for our 4-day weekend. Drat. But thank goodness Squeeze was around. I don't think I could have done it without him. When I said that this weekend, he replied, "You wouldn't have done it without me. I would have stayed home for sure." Awwww...

So, the entire weekend, Squeeze took Starbeans under his manly wing and I had Pumpkin Duty. It was rough on me to not be able to be with Starbeans 24/7 while he was sick, but we did switch off now and then so I could snuggle with him. We were absolutely zealous about preventing cross-contamination, to avoid, at all costs, dealing with a sick 5 week old. I washed my hands so many times that my knuckles cracked and bled. Same with Squeeze, although I don't think he was bleeding. I also changed shirts regularly and washed my neck, chest, and breasts. Anything to avoid sickness!

I'm pleased to say that no one is sick [yet]. Both Squeeze and I feel normal and we don't see any signs of illness in Pumpkin. I desperately hope it stays this way!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

In the groove

Aren't they sweet? I feel very good about where we are at right now: we finally have a rhythm down and caring for two kids each day seems normal. Weeee're back [to normal]! It feels so good. I think it just took a couple of weeks to get in the groove, as well as the emotional and mental adjustments. For me, this is how it went: the first week is Show-off week (the high); the second, Reality Check; the third, Adjusting; and the fourth, Home Free. I think. Just leave it to me to open my big mouth, and then my whole world will come crashing down. But seriously, I really do think we are in the clear.

Pumpkin has been much more alert with each passing day. He is awake 4-5 hours a day, 1-2 in the morning, 2-3 in the evenings. He is starting to look around too, instead of just staring straight ahead. It is so irresistible; I just want to smooch him. He definitely likes to be upright when he's awake. He also loves the sling. I had forgotten what a wonderful thing my Maya Wrap is. Pumpkin sits/stands/snuggles upright in it for the most part (when we go outside I have him wrapped in a thick blanket and in a lying down position), and quietly looks around while I'm going about my day; then, when he gets tired, he slowly drifts off and sleeps contentedly. I would say he is in the sling probably 80% of the day. I put him down now and then, mostly just to give my back a rest or to accomplish a task that will be done more quickly without slinging a baby around. It is great. I really enjoy the closeness it provides: I am able to get things done and attend to Starbeans, all while holding (slinging) my baby around. It keeps him content and it makes me happy too. I don't know what I'd do without it. [My arms would probably be very sore...because it just isn't in me to keep in in a rocker or swing. I like him on me at almost all times.]

Hey Vicky, today I looked at the clock at 11:11 twice. We still have a couple of clocks that we haven't turned back from daylight savings - I looked at our bedroom clock at 11:11 (at 10:11) and then at the kitchen clock at 11:11 (at 11:11). Can you believe it?? Spoooooky.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I CAN COUNT: A Poem (by Starbeans)


Thursday, November 15, 2007

This poem knocked me right smack-dab between the eyes

The Life of a Day

Tom Hennen

Like people or dogs, each day is unique and has
its own personality quirks which can easily be seen
if you look closely. But there are so few days as
compared to people, not to mention dogs, that it
would be surprising if a day were not a hundred
times more interesting than most people. But
usually they just pass, mostly unnoticed, unless
they are wildly nice, like autumn ones full of red
maple trees and hazy sunlight, or if they are grimly
awful ones in a winter blizzard that kills a lost
traveler and bunches of cattle. For some reason
we like to see days pass, even though most of us
claim we don’t want to reach our last one for a
long time. We examine each day before us with
barely a glance and say, no, this isn’t one I’ve been
looking for, and wait in a bored sort of way for
the next, when, we are convinced, our lives will
start for real. Meanwhile, this day is going by per-
fectly well adjusted, as some days are, with the
right amounts of sunlight and shade, and a light
breeze scented with a perfume made from the
mixture of fallen apples, corn stubble, dry oak
leaves, and the faint odor of last night’s meander-
ing skunk.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Calico beans

Today I am making 15 Bean Soup, a recipe I got from Squeeze's maternal grandmother, who in turn, got it from her oldest daughter. It ends up being quite thick, very tasty, and almost smoky. We really like it. Plus (like all soups), it is a breeze to make and you have leftovers for a week - that being the best part. It is so nice to be able to have access to a deliciously filling meal on-the-spot. When one doesn't do convenience foods, this is vital for survival. In the winter months I usually make soup every week, with leftovers peppered throughout the days.

I also add several chopped carrots and celery to the pot for the last hour or so, in addition to doubling the recipe. More really is better!

15 Bean Soup

2 cups beans (whatever combination you so desire)
2 quarts water
1 ham hock
1 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
1 can tomatoes
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash beans thoroughly. Place beans in a pan or kettle & cover with water: soak overnight. In the morning, drain, rinse, add 2 quarts water. Add ham hock, chopped onion, tomatoes, chili powder, and garlic.

Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours or more. Salt and pepper to taste. Best if made 1 day before serving.

11/15 UPDATE:
I didn't have celery yesterday, so I added cabbage instead; it was delicious. This soup will be made with cabbage from now on. It was that good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on midwifery

A lot of people may not realize the level of care provided by midwives. Sure, they're there for the labor and delivery; but do people know how involved they are before and after the baby is born?

Like the schedule at the OBGYN, I saw my midwives once a month during the beginning and middle of my pregnancy, going to twice a month at the middle-end, and once a week for the last month. Only, these visits were anywhere from 1-2 hours instead of the harried 5 minutes at the doctors' office [where all questions flew from my mind when, during the last 30 seconds, I was asked, "Do you have any questions?" I usually left wondering why I had even made the effort to get off work and take the bus downtown (transferring once) to get there]. Yes, I am biased; but it is based on experience.

At the pre-natal appointments, the midwives took my blood pressure, analyzed urine results, measured my belly, listened to placental and fetal tones [on an bizarre looking instrument called a fetascope], and felt my legs for swelling. They also took notes on how I was feeling and wrote recommendations, if any, in my pre-natal notes. Furthermore, I was able to obtain pre-natal vitamins through them as well as a number of other herbal remedies and anti-fungals. I didn't realize how extensive their care was: it was very convenient to be able to get this stuff through them, rather than having to go get it myself. Midwives are also very big on proper nutritional intake and checked in with me on each visit what, and how much, I was eating (this was particularly important with my systemic yeast issues). Finally, they required that I meet with a back-up doctor at least once before delivery and recommended that I have an ultrasound done at 32 weeks to locate the placenta. This is responsible midwifery at its finest. They aren't out to undermine the medical establishment, like the medical boards in states like South Dakota and Mississippi like to believe. Hospitals and medically-managed births have their place, but like Judy said last night, "People don't know that they have options."

At the post-natal appointments, the midwives check the baby's heart rate, respirations, color (checking for jaundice), and in Pumpkin's case, his tongue [for thrush...that dratted yeast!]. For me, they feel for my [shrinking] uterus and check in with me about my lochial flow, breasts, nursing, perineal soreness, and how I'm feeling. Our third and final post-natal appointment was last night.

Midwives work on both levels: emotional and physical. I felt extremely well-informed throughout the entire pregnancy, labor and delivery, and now, with a newborn. Not just because of the reading I've done, but through the ability to converse with extremely experienced midwives: women whose knowledge base in rooted weekly (if not daily) in the reality I was living. They easily affirmed that my experiences or observations were normal and often knew what I was talking about before I could even connect the dots in my own mind. It was so helpful! I am very thankful for these women.

Spread the word, ladies.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Updates: P.T. and Two vs. One

Potty Training:
After 3-4 days of misery, we're back on track. on track as you can get with a potty training 2 year old. There is no way that I am going to go back to diapers at this point: we have come too far, so our options are 1) underwear, or 2) bare buns. Even with our problems, I'd rather clean up soiled pants than changes diapers. I'm done. I found that if/when he is close to peeing and I don't think he'll pay attention to it, all I have to do is take his pants off. He pays attention, uses his potty chair on his own volition, and things go back to "normal". The last 2 days have been accident-free and he has resumed telling us that he needs to go. Very mysterious, but I'll take anything over last week's ordeal. I've heard that it is very common for toddlers to go through regression, so at least I know I'm not alone.

Having Two:
I feel much more balanced than I did the week before last. Aside from a little more experience, I think it also lies heavily with the fact that I have more of a sense of Pumpkin's general schedule: awake for 1 hour in the morning and 3 hours in the evening, while the rest of the day (and night) is sleeping peppered with nursings and diaper changes. I carry him around in the sling most of the day, but also have times where I lay him down; that enables to spend some focused time with Starbeans and/or complete tasks that are much easier to accomplish without a baby on my chest.

I've also figured out ways to sneak in snuggle time with Starbeans. In the morning, he wakes up while Pumpkin is still sleeping. We snuggle in bed and stare at the ceiling, then eventually get up and make breakfast. That has been very important time, especially for me. Another important factor is that our schedule has evened out a bit, which has us better rested. There is nothing like being over-tired to throw a kink into the proceedings! So all in all, I think we've gone through the difficult part of the adjustment [I repeat: I think]. At the very least, I must have gotten used to the idea of having two, because I don't feel as sad as I did. I feel calmer, happier, and at peace with the changes. Things are starting to feel normal.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

They smell like butt

Our stapelias are in bloom right now, filling the entire sunroom with an accursed stench (especially on the beautiful sunny days). Then why do we grow them, you ask? Because they are so fascinatingly beautiful. They are hairy, stinky, star-shaped, and stunning. I like asteria the best - the ribbed lines positively shimmer in the sunlight!

Please, feast your eyes and mind:

Stapelia asteria

Stapelia gigantea

Friday, November 09, 2007

A fog

Just when I thought I was out from under the cloud of Potty Training Despair, he pooped his pants again.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I think I might blow a gasket

Starbeans is in the tub right now, getting cleaned up after pooping his pants. Add that to the two times he already peed his pants today and the two times he peed his pants yesterday, and I think I might be on the verge of a meltdown.

What is the deal? Is it always 1 step forward and 15 steps back?

I've been talking about it all morning, like I have been for the last week [I'm sick to death of it, I might add] and he's been saying, "Yeah" and "Okay" and then completely ignoring me. In fact, one of the incidents this morning was after I sat him on his potty chair (I knew he had to go). He likes to read books and has a grand old time. I wasn't watching him because there isn't usually a problem, but eventually heard him say, "Potty in underwear, Mama" and sure enough: I turn around and he is standing up, pants around his knees, with wet underwear. What the...??


I needed to vent.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bear with me for a smidge of nostalgia

When we were first married, Squeeze and I lived on the top floor of an old duplex just west of downtown in Minneapolis. It stunk to high heaven [old and stanky, I guess] and while the Crazy Landlady downstairs and her Addict Sister were a bit trying at times,

[A "recovering" alcoholic, she bought a votive candle for each day she was sober and had them all lined up along the wall on a trim board; once, when I was down there, she told me that she was going to light up all 365 of 'em after she had been sober for one year. House fire, anyone? Another time, a terrible burning smell was wafting up from downstairs: the Crazy Landlady wasn't home, so Squeeze went downstairs to investigate (she never locked her inside or her outside door, ever). He found the stove turned to 500 degrees with a pan of smoldering dried beans at the bottom of it. Or how about the time when we first moved in? She was showing me her place and found a candle burning on her coffee table in the living room. "Oh," she said "That candle is still burning? I lit it yesterday!" My goodness. Squeeze always said it was a matter of when, not if, the place would go up in flames.]

it had beautiful woodwork, hard wood floors, a giant front porch, big windows, and our rent was only 500 dollars. She also let us paint it anything we wanted (along with buying the paint). And, my favorite part, it was only 6 blocks west of downtown and the Minneapolis Farmers' Market. We would walk there most Saturday mornings during the market season. A busride downtown took less than 3 minutes. It was a wonderful little place: I have strong feelings of affection for it.

[Many drug deals went down on our street; there was a permanent path diagonally across the lot to our right from homeless train jumpers making their way downtown (Squeeze called it the Hobo Highway); between us and downtown was 1) a scrap metal yard (which started on fire once), and 2) the City Impound Lot; rude jackasses would drag race in the middle of the night down 2nd Avenue; and once, when the Crazy Landlady was out of town, her Addict Sister holed up in her place for 4 days with a guy she met at rehab, never leaving and blaring KDWB most of the time. Why we didn't call the police, I'll never know. But I still loved it, in spite of its flaws and/or questionable activities. It was a thrilling place to live.]

But the real reason for me going on and on about our duplex (known to us as "Humboldt") is this:

Last night was especially chilly in these parts and with daylight savings, it was getting dark by the time Squeeze got home from work. I thought about Humboldt, and how we put up round globe Christmas lights along the front of our porch during the winter months. They were so pretty. Squeeze used to plug them in before I got home, so as I walked the 2 blocks from my bus stop in the dark, I could see their colorful glowing light and feel happy. [I honestly can say, they calmed me down and soothed me after being gone all day.]

And that is where my nostalgia lies: that my sweet husband plugged them in just to make me happy. And it did: I would smile the entire 2 blocks, becalmed.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Big leg strikes again (& a potty training update)

I had always heard about how, when you have your second child, it isn't so much the littleness of the newborn that is so shocking, but the seemingly mammoth size of your toddler. I was totally prepared to be blown out of the water that first day, after Squeeze's parents brought Starbeans home. But I wasn't: there didn't seem much of a difference and both baby and toddler's bodies seemed normal, so I thought. After about a week, it hit me like a ton of bricks: this enormous thing [Starbeans] used to be my baby?? How, in all seriousness, did this happen?

I think I needed to re-acclimate myself with looking at a newborn's teensy-weensy body again, because now I look at the Starbeans' tree trunk legs and can hardly believe it. This kid is solid. He is tall, thick, strong, and when I put his Night Diaper on him, I can barely believe the size of his gargantuan toddler body. It feels like I'm putting a diaper on a teenager. He can run, he can jump, he can climb, and man, is he solid. I'm amazed.

So yes, the Size Shock hit...but it was interesting how it took a little time before my mind was blown (and continues to be blown).

Potty Training Update:

We have finally moved to wearing underwear. Last week, I decided that it was just too cold for going bare and bit the bullet. After a couple of days of numerous pants changes and continuous chatter from me

("Starbeans, if you have to go potty, remember to pull down your pants and underwear and go potty in the potty chair" or "Remember, if you need to go potty, you need to pull down your underwear and pants and sit on the potty chair - I don't want you to go potty in your underwear" or "If you need to go potty, say, 'Potty, Mama' and I'll help you pull down your underwear and pants and sit on your potty chair" blahblahblahblah - literally, probably every 5 minutes for the entire day)

the light bulb finally flashed and he started doing just that: letting me know he needed to go, and pulling down his pants/underwear himself. And GOING. We've been heaping praise on him and he seems to be extremely proud of himself, so I believe we've turned another corner. I am so pleased!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Feed me soup and bread

What I need these days is a hearty meal: something that can be put together easily and that satisfies my need for a full tummy (and all those extra calories for nursing). I found the beginnings of my answer in a fantastic quick bread recipe from my favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. It tastes quite a bit like the Russian Black Bread that my mom made semi-regularly when I was a kid [served with borscht]. It is rich and moist and goes splendidly with a thick chicken soup, one that I modified from the same source.

Both recipes included in this post contain things I make and/or regularly have on hand, which makes me want to pat myself on the back. It also makes meal prep a breeze. I don't really have to plan much, except to thaw the chicken stock beforehand.
  • Yogurt
  • Chicken stock - Made regularly and frozen in quart canning jars for future use.
  • Cooked chicken - I usually make stock with a whole chicken, then used the meat from it for soups and sandwiches for the rest of the week and/or freeze it for future use.
  • Turnip greens - from the turnips we planted this summer for our first venture into root cellaring. They look great; we're going to have turnips all winter long. It has been very fun to be able to use the greens along the way as well: first for salads; then as the greens got older & tougher, in cooking.
  • Blackstrap molasses - I never used to have this around, but I recently added it to my repertoire and my goodness, have I used it!
The bread tastes the best while it is still warm and fresh, so I've been using a smaller loaf pan and keeping half of the batter in the refrigerator. That way, we get two different meals with warm bread on the side and the otherwise giant loaf doesn't go to waste. It is still good a couple days afterward, but it isn't quite at its prime anymore. Like I said, fresh out of the oven is best (slathered with butter). Oh my, it is delish.

Quick Whole Wheat and Molasses Bread

1 2/3 cups plain yogurt
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup molasses

Mix dry ingredients
Mix wet ingredients
Mix wet & dry together

In a 9 X 5 inch pan, bake @ 325 until a toothpick stuck into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about an hour. [30-40 minutes if setting aside half the batter and using a smaller loaf pan.] Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve.

Chicken Soup with Rice

8 cups chicken stock
1 cup brown rice
3-4 carrots, chopped
2-3 celery, chopped
Eyeball a good amount of cooked chicken
Handful of cooking greens
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring the stock to an almost boil: add the rice and vegetables, cover, and turn the heat to low. Cook for about 20 minutes, then add the chicken, salt & pepper, and the cooking greens. It will be ready to eat within minutes. Serve.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mama of two, checking in

It has been a rough week, I'm not going to lie.

  • Squeeze went back to work on Monday, so now I am alone for 9 hours a day. It was so wonderful to be able to have him home for an entire week. It was relaxing and reassuring for both of us and rejuvenating for him. The three R's. I miss him. Starbeans has been asking, "Dada go?" all week.
  • I'm still trying to figure out this whole Two Children thing. Things have not struck a balance yet. I'm not surprised, but I am really looking forward to having things figured out a bit more. My mom said that looking back, this adjustment will just be a blip on the radar. I can't wait! We don't have any routine right now, it is just pure survival. I flit from one thing to the next, trying to make sure we're all fed, clean, and sane.
  • I've realized that, emotionally, the hardest thing for me is my changing relationship with Starbeans. I can't be there for him 100% like I was just 2 short weeks ago. I am grieving because of it. I look into his bright eyes and see his pearly little teeth inside that big smile and I feel mournful over the changes. I can't pick him up every time he gets hurt or cries, or hold him spontaneously; I have another one now who needs me more. It makes my heart ache to see him cry and to be able to give him only a clumsy half-hug. Or snuggling with him at night...he has been relegated to one side of the bed, with a body pillow in between us. It doesn't seem to bother him as much as I thought it would, but I've really missed snuggling with him.
  • It doesn't help matters that I am over-tired and short on patience. I've noticed that when I am 1) too hungry, or 2) sleepy and/or exhausted, my patience runs extremely thin. It is hard, because poor sweet Starbeans doesn't understand that. I'm working at keeping food on hand at all times and sleeping as much as possible. This is hard, though, because I've got a two year old who goes to bed between 10:00 and 11:00 [getting up between 8:00 and 9:00]. Curses! This has been the schedule since our move. Before that, bedtime was between 9:00 and 10:00 (which would be much more manageable).
  • Finally, Starbeans has chosen these past couple of weeks to become fanatically and maniacally interested in torturing our cats. The kid is crazy. He is constantly wondering where they are ["Toots go?" or "Bay go, Mama?"] and when he finds them, he is squeezing the life out of them, hitting them, or throwing things at them. We've had to get pretty serious with discipline: getting scratched and bitten is not deterring him. He is no longer even allowed near them; when he asks, "Toots go?" I tell him: "You are not allowed to play with the cats" right off the bat. He is listening fairly well, but I have to say it probably 20-30 times a day. I've gotten somewhat harsh in my tone when I say it, so he knows I mean business, and it has made him cry a couple of times when he's been over-tired. Crap, it is getting old. I'm ready to kick their furry butts to the curb. There is nothing like having a newborn that makes pet cats seem like demon pests from hell. I remember feeling like that when Starbeans first made his appearance too. Toots, the especially cranky cat, scratched him today when he climbed up the stairs towards her. He wasn't even being mean, but I think she has had enough. I know I have. But she's the fool who doesn't run: she just walks a couple feet off and then lays down again. Idiot.

This is my list of grievances.

But I do have nice things to say as well.

I love having a newborn again. He is so precious and beautiful. I try to breathe in his sweet scent whenever I can, cherishing every moment. I want to live completely aware of the gift of life, the blessed responsibility of raising up a new little one. I love comforting him, holding him, kissing him, nursing him, loving him. I love watching Starbeans caress his head softly. I love carrying him around in the sling, knowing he is content and safe. I love every little newborn grunt, snort, and sigh. Especially the snorts. I even love changing his little eensy diapers.

I am thankful for, and feel renewed love, affection, and appreciation for Squeeze as well. He has been very tender and loving with me these past few weeks, which has been so comforting. I wish he didn't have to go to work! It would be so nice to stay home and work together; in my fancy, we would live a self-sustaining life and all work would be completed with the end result of staying home and staying together. Is it possible??

Friday, October 26, 2007

More details than you could ever want

NOTE: I wrote this post over a series of days, so please forgive me if it is choppy. I just don't have the time to hone down on what I'm writing like I usually do. Duh, but I still don't like it! I prefer a smooth, coherent finished product. But this'll have to do.


I finally have the chance (however fleeting it may be) to post on our beautiful homebirth. It was everything I wanted it to be, and more. Those who know me know me understand my level for enthusiasm for things that impress me; so you aren't surprised when I say, "Even if you feel a little gun-shy of giving birth at home, look into it. Please. Look into it." It was an amazing experience; beautiful, calm, balanced; all in an extremely supportive environment. We don't know what we are missing as a society when we dismiss the value of midwives and the beauty of a well-managed homebirth. Of course, this is not to say that giving birth in a hospital does not have its place: it just seems that we are a bit lop-sided as a culture, when so many do not know their options (or are repulsed by them). Knowledge is power.

10/20 & 10/21 - D-day(s):

Things started rolling, I realize now, around 5 am on Saturday morning the 20th. I woke up to find myself peeing ever-so-slightly in bed. Just a little squirt, but it woke me up. I didn't think too much of it, since I've been getting up to urinate with extreme frequency the last few weeks. I got up, peed, and went back to bed. But looking back on it, I believe the amniotic sac sprung a leak. When I got up and started moving around that morning, I could tell something had changed. I had an ever-present urge to pee, I was urinating every 5-10 minutes and had a very hard time holding in my pee as I waddled to the bathroom. There was also a gel-like substance accompanying my frequent trips to the bathroom. I'm fairly certain I had sprung a slow leak: not a big gusher, but a trickle. I called the midwife, Judy, who said to keep her informed of any changes, particularly if contractions picked up. At this point, they were coming perhaps a couple of times an hour. Right before I called, I had taken a shower and realized that my belly had taken on a completely different shape than it had been the last several months. It had always been very high and misshapen: the right side being much higher than the left, but now it was much, much lower and completely round.

Later that morning, though I didn't have a strong desire to leave the house, I went to the library [a Saturday morning tradition] to pick up a hold, Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters. I got to the library just as it was closing, enabling me to make the dramatic declaration, "I'm so sorry, but I'm pretty sure that I'll be having my baby today and I don't know the next time I'll be able to make it in." The librarian graciously wrote down the numbers, as the system was already off. Ah yes, the drama. Other than that, I pretty much spent most of the day indoors, even though it was be-a-utiful outside. I washed newborn diapers, cleaned, and packed Starbeans' overnight bag; Squeeze spent his day home rototilling our new garden space for next year and splitting wood with his dad. Squeeze's parents were over for the day, working for us [bless them]: his mom weeded the neglected part of the vegetable garden and his dad overhauled the wood-splitter that they had just transported here from it's previous location in Wisconsin. Starbeans "helped" Gramma in the garden, tortured the poor baby kittens (who are very playful and curious now btw), took a nap, and played.

By 5 pm, contractions seemed to be coming every 10 minutes or less. I hadn't been keeping track, but it felt that way to me. They were getting more uncomfortable as well, but for some reason I still didn't believe that this was "it" and felt complete despair as we said good-bye to Squeeze's parents. I was so tired of being pregnant and I wanted things to start NOW. Nevertheless, around 6:30 I started timing my contractions. Sure enough, they were coming every 5-10 minutes. As the hours went on, they started averaging around every 6 minutes with more intensity (but I could still walk through them). I called the midwives around 9 pm; Judy was on the road, but would go home, pick up Kara, then head to our house. They expected to be there within 2-3 hours.

We called Squeeze's parents to come for Starbeans. At this point, he was so wound up and excited about going to Grandma and Bupa's house that he was literally shrieking with joy and running in circles. For a half hour. This was actually very hard on me. I felt like I needed to draw inward and focus, so having to deal with an over-excited toddler was really rough. I started to realize how glad I was that he was not going to be around. I still cried when he left, though. When he realized that I wasn't coming with him on his fantastic trip, he didn't cry, but he did whimper, "Mama..." Poor babe. He did great, though. They said that he didn't even cry on the way home, although he was a little dazed and very quiet. I cried going back into the house, thinking about how much would be changing over the course of the night. I still had the fears of feeling like Starbeans was going to be replaced and/or not knowing what it would be like to have more than one child to share myself with.

We went back inside and Squeeze lit a fire. I wanted to be WARM. Really warm. I huddled on the floor, breathing through contractions and feeling the intensity of the pain. At this point, contractions were coming every 4 minutes.

Then Squeeze came back in the room and I sat on a foot-stool, draping myself on his lap. He rubbed my back and tickled me through the contractions, which felt very nice. I was very intent on staying in an upright position in hopes that gravity would assist my quest in expelling this baby. Incidentally (or maybe not), I had read through the stages of labor the night before. This helped me stay calm and focused on the task at hand, with the refreshed knowledge of the purpose of each phase.

At this point I really wanted to take a hot shower, but couldn't until the midwives arrived (they had asked me not to because it can speed things along so much). I was very cold and had a blanket around me. Like I said, I wanted to be WARM. [I even hesitated on getting in the shower a few contractions after the midwives got here because I didn't want to be cold afterwards. Little did I know, I was just going to go straight into a warm bath (it was wonderful).]

The midwives arrived around midnight. They immediately set to work like a well-oiled machine. Each came to me, placing a firm and gentle hand on my back and checking to see how I was doing. They unloaded their stuff and began putting pressure on my lower back, where they said the ligaments of my uterus attached. It was amazingly effective for pain relief. It still hurt, of course, but not as bad. Judy even stuck a hand in the shower (once I got in there) and applied pressure to my back, which felt so good coupled with the hot water. In the shower, my contractions started coming every 2 minutes and I noticed that my mucous was now tinged pink. I felt up inside myself and I could feel the baby's hard head right there: it was a spectacular thing to touch, firm and round. I've touched the top of his head the last couple of days and marveled at the feel of it, knowing that is exactly what I felt inside the birth canal. Simply amazing.

Once all the hot water was used, I got into the tub. There was only a few inches of warm water left, but thankfully, the midwives had been heating up water on the stove for just that. [At the time, I was amazed that they knew it would be needed, but thinking about it now...of course they knew!! This is their job!] They also had a nifty drain-stopper that allowed the water-line of the tub to go a couple of inches from the top, covering me with warm water. It was lovely. They had a nice cushion for my back, so I was able to lean back and and labor in comfort. LOL - if that is possible. They put a washcloth on my belly and poured water over it during contractions as well as applying pressure to my lower back.

With each contraction, the pressure on my pelvic floor and butt increased. During what I now realize to be transition, I finally puked. I had been feeling nauseous towards the end of each contraction for the past hour at that point (aside from my time in the shower, I believe) and at the end of a specific contraction in the tub, my stomach balled up and out I spew. Kara comforted me, saying, "I know that was very unpleasant, but it is actually a very good sign." I didn't get what she was saying at the point, but now I know: transition. After throwing up, things progressed very swiftly.

All throughout the night, I was fully prepared to labor until 5 or 6 am. But suddenly [or, at least, it felt completely sudden to me - it probably didn't surprise the midwives], a contraction hit where I felt an irresistible physical urge to push. My body actually shook and pushed without me telling it to: it was an automatic reaction over which I had no control. Completely primal. Judy told me that if my body was telling me to push and that it felt "right", to push. With the next contraction, I felt an enormously unbearable feel of the need to poop. I had been fretting about that through the day, not wanting to poop, so feeling this was disturbing to me. I'm pretty sure it distracted me and I didn't push through this one, instead I shouted out (with my eyes closed, of course), "I think I'm going to poop!" I was mortified at the thought of a gigantic turd floating to the top of the tub and wanted to warn them (as if they haven't seen everything already). But Kara said, "That isn't a poop, that's your baby!"

This was unbelievably encouraging to me, to know that my baby was so close. The next contraction, the baby's head crowned; they told me to pant...pant...pant...not to push, because I was going to tear if I went too quickly. This was the first real push, as I was fighting it with the Poop Push. So I halted pushing as best I could and panted through the contraction, then rested on the downtime (hearing Judy say, "Pant...pant...pant" was so extremely helpful: it helped me focus). My eyes were closed during virtually this entire process. When the next contraction came on, I bore down heavily and OUT popped his head. Then I rested, forgetting that I could feel down there and touch his head if I wanted. Squeeze felt his head and then reminded me that I could too. "Oh yes," I said, and put my hand down there to feel his firm little head, silky with hair. It felt so wonderful. He was still underwater at this point, of course. I kept my hand on him through the next contraction and was able to feel him slip out of me. Kara brought him up to me and I cried (I'm not kidding), ", it is so cute!" Then I put my hand down on his little bottom and said, almost weepy, "It's a's a boy."

My sweet baby boy.

The midwives immediately set to work: clearing his mouth and nose, covering him with a blanket, putting on his little hat. We admired him and marvelled and I, like a broken record, kept on repeating how I couldn't believe how fast it had gone and how easy it was. We snuggled, started nursing, and the midwives brought in a rocker into the bathroom for me to sit in and continue snuggling and nursing after the placenta was delivered. The cord wasn't cut until it stopped pulsating. When the placenta was delivered, I said, "Boy, is it nice to get that thing outta me." I know this because the midwives included it in their notes. Isn't that fabulous?? Their notes were a combination of professional and personal. I know exactly when things happened and our responses to them. This is invaluable to me.

While I sat in the rocker, the midwives drew an herbal bath for me, with comfrey leaf, sea salt, a tea tree mixture, and iodine. I got in the tub, the midwives put Pumpkin in with me, and I relaxed in the warm water. After a brief time, they took the baby out and set to work measuring and weighing him. Squeeze stood by, taking pictures. Then he dressed the baby, swaddled him, and went to the living room to snuggle. The midwives helped me out of the tub, assisted me to the bedroom where I dressed, then tucked me in bed. It was probably around 4 am at this point. They went through postnatal mama and baby care, instructing and advising; then we all went to bed. The midwives slept on couches; Squeeze, the baby, and me in our bed. It was lovely.

The next morning, the midwives got up, said goodbye and left around 9 am. I found out later that they were called to another birth within 15 minutes of leaving our place; they also had another birth the very next day, so these ladies had one wild weekend!!


With this, I will post my story. It felt like I was never going to finish it! And...I am completely zapped. In a future post, I will collect my thoughts and reflect on the richness of our homebirth. Truly, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I believe that being home was relaxing and strengthening to me; and things probably went more smoothly because of it. It was an empowering experience. Instead of being confused and/or at the mercy of hospital regulations, I was calm and extremely well taken care of by unbelievably intuitive midwives. It was a beautiful experience, one that I am extremely grateful for.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

7 lb 3 oz

It is a BOY; he came out after 3 pushes at 1:46 am.

Cute as a button and yet unnamed. Pictures later.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

For real

The midwives are on their way, Squeeze's parents are on their way (to pick up Starbeans), and my contractions have been about 6-7 minutes apart for the last 4 hours. It seems to be the real thing and dang, it hurts. I'm in for it now! (And I'm glad.)

Something to report on

I'm not experiencing any contractions out of the ordinary, but things have definitely changed. I even called the midwives this morning. The baby has moved down significantly (there is a lot more space at the top of my belly...much more comfortable). I have an almost-constant sensation of needing to urinate: I'm peeing every 5 minutes or so. The midwife said I could go today, or it could be a week or two, but that it is a good sign because it means that "things are happening". Let's hope I don't have to wait too much longer. It would be very tough to be chained within a 100 foot radius of a toilet for 2 weeks!

Chapstick Addition:
I think I can truly say that I've kicked the chapstick habit. I haven't used any kind of lip balm aside from vitamin E, flaxseed, or lanolin, since the beginning of September. That is almost 2 months! I've noticed that the last few days my lips have felt fairly balanced - no major discomfort or feeling like they're being stretched when I smile. While I am hesitent to declare complete victory, it seems that things are starting to look "normal". I also noticed that when I started thinking about it, I began to lick my lips. Not good: this leads to chapping and cracked lips. I've got to keep a handle on that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Hello...! Still pregnant. If this were Starbeans, he/she would have been born last Sunday; only it would probably still be nameless, as we've got nothing. Absolutely nothing. Even worse, we think it will probably be a boy (based on the Borealis male-to-female ratio from the last 3 generations), but all we talk about, if we even get the chance, are girl names. What the...? I think all his names are putrid and he thinks all mine are barf. So, we're at an impasse. Our almost-14 year old Star Trek-obsessed nephew brainstormed 2 full pages of mostly boy names; the strongest choice being Kle'eg Hogbarn Borealis. I suppose we could always fall back on that...

I plan to post when things start rolling (if they ever do, wah!), so you all can have something to be excited about. I might even post somewhere along the way, depending on how I feel.

Things in these parts are very foggy, rainy, and drizzly-chilly. It is wonderful. It really reminds me of home, which is to say, Western Washington. It seems like weather like that is almost non-existent on the other side of the state: there were either brash thunder storms or nothing. Drizzle-days were very rare. Or did I just blank out on the last 10 years?

Over and out. Still pregnant. And addled.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

There was a little boy...

There was a little boy who had a little curl
Right on the nape of his neck (not his forehead);
When he was good, he was very, very good,
And when he was bad he was horrid.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's official

I have the pregnant woman waddle.

The ligaments in my lower belly are stretched to the max, my hips are loosening, and my left groin is spasming like a curled up hedgehog. I think the groin spasms are related to the position of the baby; while they get worse at night, specifically when I'm walking, I've also noticed that it happens when I'm lying in bed and I can feel the baby moving. It's head must be pinching or touching a nerve. It hurts like crazy.

In public, people have asked me when I am due throughout the course of small talk conversations. When I've said, 2 1/2, 2, and now 1 1/2 weeks, no one believes me! I'm not big enough, they say. But I tell them, this baby is filling up the whole space. And it is, seriously. Little heels poking out on the upper-right side of my belly, kicking on my ribs, and pressing down on my cervix. There just isn't much room left. It will be very interesting to see how much this babe weighs. Starbeans was 8 lb 3 oz. I was my mom's first babe, at 9 lb 8 oz. Two brothers were 10 lb 9 oz and 10 lb 2 oz, 1 brother was 9 lbs 2 oz, and my sister, the behemoth, was 11 lb 14 oz. Can you imagine?? My mom is about 5'7, but people stop her on the street and ask her if she's a body builder: she's as tough as nails. She's strong and stout, like her dad. A solid Norwegian. I have my dad's body (who has his dad's body).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Detergent Check-in, Food, Book Review, and Pregnancy Update

Homemade Laundry Detergent: Squeeze does most of the laundering around here and I came to realize last week that he has been using 3 TBSP with each load. Ack! That might be why they smelled so super-fresh? When I wash, and I just measured what I was using, I put in 2 TBSP. I figured it was more than 1, but I didn't realize it was double the amount. I have yet to be able to experiment; and I managed to talk Squeeze down to 2 TBSP instead of 3. The one thing I can say with absolute confidence is this -- DIAPERS TAKE 4 TBSP. I didn't like how they smelled when I used 2 TBSP, so I doubled the amount. I am satisfied.

Food Today: I made granola, chicken stock, and my favorite soup, White Bean with Vegetables, Garlic, & Rosemary. I like it, I love it, I want more of it. Isn't that some kind of a fast-food slogan?? Gross.

Books: I finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver this past week. My goodness, but do I love this woman. And now I love her family as well. She has so much insight into life; things that when I read, I say, "YES!!" She is also a fan of Wendell Berry. She sighted him as a mentor in her Acknowledgements and said, "Everything we've said here, Wendell said first, in a quiet voice that makes the mountains tremble." Wow. As I've said before, Wendell, Wendell, where have you been all my life? And Barbara, I'm so glad to have your essays. I haven't read much of her fiction writing, but her non-fiction rules heavily.

She inspired my interest/intrigue with not only heirloom varieties of vegetables and fruits, but also heritage animals, like the Bourbon Red Turkeys she raised with the end-goal of establishing a breeding flock. She also made "putting away food" for the winter sound enjoyable and exciting, not the drudgery that people might think it is. The little experience I've had with it, I have thought was very fun and rewarding. My hope and desire to follow in her footsteps and be able to put enough by to feed us throughout the year. I certainly have the fervor for it! But she doesn't just leave it to, "Move into the country and grow your own food." Certainly not everyone can do that. She encouraged the masses to buy in season and locally grown produce, dairy, and meats. With the amount of Farmers' Markets out there, and technology like freezers, this is definitely possible. Or be like my friend, Lyndi, and go with a CSA; you'll be supporting small farmers and getting top-of-the-line produce as well.

I can't urge you to read this book enough; it was thrilling. So interesting, packed full of humor and intriguing side-stories, and best of all: encouragement. As a nation, we really need to learn to eat differently. So much of our food is hyped up with preservatives and anti-nutrients. We eat from boxes, cans, packages, and bags. Truly, we are completely disconnected with where our food comes from. And what a shame! Our culture of eating has been built through many decades and several generations: too much work, not enough life. Preparing food takes time, but so does enjoying it (or it should). We need to work our way back to knowing how to cook, not just how to unwrap a factory-processed, preservative-packed, piece of crap pot-pie or pizza and pop it in the oven. It takes time, but the tides must be turned.

Pregnancy: My uterus has been tightening more noticeably with greater frequency within the last couple of days. Your guess is as good as mine as to when it will actually happen, though. I have another meeting with our midwives on Tuesday, as does Thelma Cheddar, if she has lasted that long. Poor woman, if she does. My official due date is October 24.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Domestic Bliss

My birthday presents yielded quite the loot of linens, which has pushed me over the edge to Domestic Bliss. First off, I was given [the top] kitchen towels from my good friend Lyndi, who stitched those pretty herbs herself. [Forgive me, I can't remember what it is called. Embroidery? I think I might be pathetic for not knowing.] Aren't they pretty?? I knew she was going to make me some, but I still managed to be surprised (I think it might have something to do with my baby-addled brains) and head-over-heels in love. I think they are just so darling.

They are even more special because she used designs from a stash of needlework paraphernalia from our former neighbor Wilburn's deceased wife, Arlene. When he moved into his apartment in the winter of 2005, pretty much anything that we didn't take got dumped (we also posted "Alley Treasures" on Craigslist - a lot of people showed up and scored bigtime). He had been bringing items to thrift stores for a year, but at the very end he just didn't have time and we had just had a baby. There was a houseful of 55+ years built up -- it was unbelievable how much stuff he had. We are still discovering things we kept that are coming in very handy at our new house: a seemingly endless variety of tools, towels, sewing stuff, linens, housewares, etc.

Secondly, my MIL, who volunteers at her town's local thrift store every Friday, snagged me these excellent cloth napkins. Aren't they cute?? Making cloth napkins is one project I've been wanting to tackle before the baby is born, but I just don't think I can to get to it. I am glad to have something, because it has been many years of nothing. We generally only have paper napkins for a limited amount of time; when my grandparents bequeath me their stash from their summer cabin before going back to Florida for the winter. I just don't like buying things to throw away. It seems so pointless. I went to the thrift store yesterday myself and bought another set of 4, so we will have enough to go around for family parties. Why hadn't I thought of this before?? The only problem is that they are so cute it will be sad to use them and see them soiled. I will, though: without a doubt.

Yes, yes: Domestic Bliss.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Baby-addled brains

Towards the end of her last pregnancy, Janell @ The Paris Project talked about her "baby-addled brains". I laughed at the time, because she described it to accurately; but now, I laugh and shriek, "Eeeeeekgh! Enough already!!" Seriously: enough. And I'm not even overdue. Tomorrow is 38 weeks. If I were Squeeze's mom and pregnant with him, I'd be looking at another 6 weeks. I am NOT kidding. He was 1 month overdue. She said that by the end of that month, she couldn't respond verbally or even smile courteously to the "You're still pregnant??" comments. I can't even imagine. On the other hand, if I deliver with similar timing as my pregnancy with Starbeans, I'd be delivering in under a week.


The midwife and her apprentices were here again this morning, as well as Thelma Cheddar and a troop of Cheddar women and children. She is 2 weeks ahead of me, not 1: today was her due date. There was another apprentice here as well: Rachel, who is around 20 years old. She hasn't come to all the appointments, but I've seen her a few times. I really like it that Judy is working with apprentices: we need more midwives in this part of the world! Judy sees women in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. She puts insane amounts of miles on her car. I can't even imagine how much time she spends in the car. Kara is from Iowa and Rachel is from the very SW corner of Minnesota.

Anyway, vaginally-speaking, my yeast has been obliterated by the douching change of tactic. Systemically speaking, I think I still have work to do; but the most important thing at this point is to keep the baby yeast-free. That was very good news: I felt quite relieved. Secondly - also a point of relief, they all thought that the baby had moved lower. We are getting closer to actual delivery.

Is there anything else to talk about?? Baby-addled: that's me.
I seriously need to go to bed. I am totally and completely wiped out.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Regression, fruit, pregnancy (again)

I cleaned pee off the floor twice today, pee out of underwear once, and poop and pee out of underwear once as well. Crap! Did we forget everything over our very busy weekend?? I will say, though, that he pooped in the toilet once and peed in the toilet 2-3 times: so I guess it wasn't a total loss. Nevertheless, a bit discouraging.

Last Saturday, we went to a local nursery and stocked up on fruit-bearing bushes and trees: apricots, blue plum, haralson apple, black raspberries, blue grape, and red currents. We wanted to get them in our first year to cut down on waiting time for them to bear. Squeeze mapped out "The Orchard" as he calls it, and has spent the last couple of days putting them in the ground. It is pretty exciting.

The midwife is coming to our house again tomorrow morning; another pregnant woman, 1 week ahead of me, will be here for an appointment as well. Her name is Thelma and her last name is pronounced "cheddar", but I think the spelling is more similar to Czechoslovakia. Thelma Cheddar. She is an ex-Hutterite, who I've heard live in numerous colonies throughout SD. I'm not sure why she is an EX, but the apprentice described her this way to me: an ex-Hutterite. Both her and her husband had extremely noticeable accents, one that I had never heard before; it is hard to describe, but they both spoke exactly the same way. They had a little boy a bit younger than Starbeans who was wild - WILD - about our toys. Just about every visitor under the age of 5 is.

I'm getting pretty sick of being pregnant. I have so much left to do that I'm glad that there are [probably] 2 weeks left, but geez -- I am really sick of it. I want my body back. I want my brain back.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Last week at the grocery store in Big Town, SD I saw something in the spice aisle that shocked my socks off. I wish it were a joke, but it isn't.

I saw MSG being sold in little containers: mixed in with marjoram, mustard, and nutmeg. Don't believe me? Go to the Tone's Home Use Spices website and look under "M". The back of the packaging said that it is a "flavor enhancer which is used extensively in asian cooking". Eeegads! I thought companies were secretly slipping it into processed foods and didn't want people to know about it...and yet, one can buy it at the local grocery store??

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

Apples galore

I tested my hand at drying apples, following the instructions from the Food Drying book I bought on ebay last spring. My bounty was small, as I learned the hard way to use glass only. After the ascorbic acid dip, the apples burnt the crap out of the metal pans (fresh out of the box - a not-yet-used wedding gift) I had them on. I didn't want to risk eating anything where metal could have been sponged up, so I tossed them. Two of the pans I had them on were glass and they turned out beautifully. Aren't they pretty?

I also made spiced apple sauce (no sugar added) to use on our pancakes throughout the coming year. When my friend Mimi was here the other weekend, she made a batch that kicked some royal anus. I tried my best to replicate her spur-of-the-moment recipe. Spices used: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom. We like applesauce on our pancakes instead of sugary-fake syrups; all last year whilst buying organic, sugar-free applesauce and simultaneously pining for an apple tree of my own, I thought, "I can't wait to make it myself!" And now I have. Granted, I could have bought apples from the farmer's market or an apple orchard and done the same thing, but instead...I have my own apple tree. Eeek! It is so thrilling!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

It must be an instinct

This is how he likes to poop, with several books on hand

Starbeans has been using his potty chair almost exclusively for all BMs and peeing. He is now even telling us that he needs to go when he a diaper on. We are so impressed! I am starting to bring the potty chair with us wherever we go, just to cement the fact that this is where we go.

This is week 3 of bare-butt training, which has proven extremely effective. I just got his new underwear washed yesterday, so we'll be starting that process over again. I am so pleased that we started this process before the baby is born; it has been much easier than I would have imagined and it will save a lot of time on diaper washing. Atta boy, Dieg!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Getting rid of plastic

We have been on a slow but steady course to getting rid of all the plastic food storage containers in our house. There is still a drawer-full, but mostly for Starbeans to be able to explore and scatter its contents throughout the kitchen to his heart's content. Everything else is glass. Squeeze drinks out of a glass water bottles and I use a quart canning jar with a screw-top lid. The last thing to go was Starbeans' sippy cup (and good riddance). I didn't realize I had any other option than the Nuby Gripper Cup that we had gotten from his baby shower. Certainly they don't make glass sippy cups, I thought.

Then, I stumbled upon the stainless steel sippy cup from Klean Kanteen. It has a plastic Avent spout (the non-leaching "safe" pp #5), but the water is held in the stainless steel container. This means the water safer and tastes better: there aren't any dioxins, BPA, or any other toxins leaching in from the plastic.

The final straw came when, one night, I was dying of thirst and I took a swig out of Starbeans' Nuby cup. Gak!! It tasted like plastic-treated water. I couldn't believe that was what he had been drinking out of for the past year.

The longer the water is held in the plastic, the more it leaches. Likewise, the older the cup, the more it leaches. Or the more scratched it is. Or the warmer it is. Etc. etc. etc. Realizing what he was actually consuming was the kicker for me: it propelled me into action.

After researching it a bit and reading several online reviews, I bought two Klean Kanteen sippy cups with the idea of always having one clean and ready to go. I also bought two steel loop caps to go with them, so they can be used by our children as they get older and have outgrown the sippy phase.

They were quite a bit more expensive than a plastic sippy cup: about 16-18 dollars [depending where you get it], but I feel like the trade-off is well worth the cost. I have the assurance that he is drinking fresh, clean and untainted water. I like that.

There have been droplet-sized leaks around the rim of the Avent spout, but it isn't much of a deal to me. Starbeans drinks mostly water, so he isn't spilling anything stinky or staining around the house anyway. Other than that, no leaking. That has been beautiful, as every time I bent over while carrying our new diaper bag I would receive a shower from our old Nuby cup. Not anymore!! The Klean Kanteen is [almost] as tight as a drum.

Starbeans seems to like his new sippy cup as much as I do; he is always likes to point at the logo and say, "Globe." It is the perfect size for a toddler -- although I don't think I would recommend it for a baby. It would be entirely too cumbersome. We nursed exclusively for the entire first year, I didn't even break out a sippy cup for him until around that time. I am imagining I will do the same with our second baby, but even so: I don't think a 1 year old would have the dexterity to handle it. I've read similar things in the reviews.

However, there is another product on the market (new within the last few months, I believe) called Foogo by Thermos. It, too, has a stainless steel body but is equipped with two handles which seems like it would be easier for baby to maneuver. I plan to get two of these for our next babe, when the time comes.

Read more on plastics. And more.