Monday, April 30, 2007

Ring-a-ting-ting II

I heard the local Ice Cream Man going by again this weekend, playing,

O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree,
How lovely are your branches!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Yanked out of self-pity

Finally, after two months, our schedule is starting to get to me. Because Squeeze is working nights and sleeping during the day, he must keep this schedule even on weekends to keep himself in the groove. Effectively, for me, it is as if he works 7 days a week; I have been alone with Starbeans until 4:00 pm every day since the beginning of March. The good side of this is we (Squeeze and I) actually get time together alone; whereas when we were both working part-time, weeks could go by without us ever being able to connect as a couple. That was really tough. We also feel much more balanced, which feels so good. While we are both happier with our current schedule, it is still far from ideal.

Knowing that everything is temporary helps, but Starbeans' teething and the seemingly constant fits and crying this week sent me into a downward spiral of despair. One that only my girl Barbara Kingsolver could yank me out of. During his nap today, I sat out in our sun-filled porch with carrots, cheese, and hummus by my side and soaked in the first three essays of Small Wonder. Finally, something to bring me out of my myopic focus on my own frustrations. Not necessarily trivial frustrations, but ones that I was allowing to effect me in a greater scale than should be. Barbara Kingsolver has a way of writing that incorporates the world at large. I particularly enjoy the way she looks at this through the lenses of biology and history. She reminds me that not only are the problems of the world much greater than mine, but so is the beauty, ingenuity, and stark grandeur of life on this planet, throughout all of its systems. I really appreciate her voice, much like the writings of Wendell Berry. She speaks so clearly.

With my remaining free-time, I looked for her online and found that she has a new book coming out May 2007, called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. In it, Kingsolver chronicles a year that her family ate only what they grew or raised themselves, or what they could buy locally. I can hardly wait! With her usual insight into life, I'm sure that she will knock me flat. It's gonna be awesome.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Etc. etc. etc.

My brother's girlfriend, Ashley, was here on Wednesday for a few hours; we walked down to the creek and then stopped by an ice cream shoppe called the Pumphouse Creamery, where we chowed on arguably the best ice cream I've ever had in my entire life. This is coming from a girl who prefers savory over sweet just about any day of the week: it was that good. I've been deviously strategizing ways of getting back there with Squeeze in tow. He loves ice cream.

Picking his nose with a pretty girl

Meeting Ashley was really cool. She's from British Columbia, Canada and was road-tripping it from BC to NY with one of her roommates from college. The youth! The freedom! She is very sweet: genuine and easy to talk to. This girl keeps it real. I like that. A lot.

Starbeans has been growing and changing with leaps and bounds:

  • His new thing is "jumping" from his kiddie chair into my (or Squeeze's) arms. He climbs up on it and says, "Duhm! Duhm! Duhm!" [which of course, means, "Jump! Jump! Jump!"], makes big, theatrical movements as if he is going to catapult himself off the chair like a wildman, then walks right into our waiting arms. The kid can't jump yet. He knows what it is, but those chubby little feet never leave the ground.

  • He is adding descriptors into his jargon, like "Bih Tuh!" [Big Truck] and "Bih Tratow!" [Big Tractor]. Well, I guess that is only one descriptor: BIG. I thought there were others, but they have left me (if ever they existed).

  • His memory is amazing: We're working on not throwing food from his highchair. I've explained to him a million times: when he's done eating, say, "Mama, all done" and I will clear his tray and get him down. Up until this morning, he just didn't get it. The food would be thrown, reprimands would be made, the clean-up would start. But this morning, he pointed to the floor and said, "No, no"; I gave my mini-lecture again, and he responded with, "Ah-doh" (with the sign) instead of throwing food. He got it!! It is so encouraging, knowing that he eventually gets it. We went through the same thing with screaming when he was done eating. He finally started saying, "Ah-doh"...that is, until the food throwing began.

  • His memory is amazing, Part II: He still remembers where the cat pooped on the floor by the door. He often brings up when he fell off the loveseat and hit his head on the floor the other day, by saying "Ow! Ow! Ow!", pointing to the loveseat and his head. When asked if he wants to go on a walk, he'll go and get up into his stroller on the porch. Every time we drive by a certain bright yellow restaurant on our way home from the library, he points to it and says, "Ye-yo!" He remembers the "Yowd!" trucks on our alley from 3 weeks ago. Every time we're in the backyard, he points to the door in the fence and says, "Bupa!" because that is where Grandpa parks when he comes over (in the alley driveway). He knows the cats' names. Etc. etc. etc.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Negotiations: Complete

I can't believe it, but we actually negotiated to a price that we are both satisfied with. We should be signing a Purchase Agreement this week. It is amazing how things can work out. The next hurdle will be for Squeeze to find a job near our new place, which could potentially be difficult. He doesn't necessarily have a specific trade or profession, so we're basically looking for anything that will pay the bills and secure financing on our pursuit of going rural. We will most likely be closing at the end of June, so we have two months! Yikes.

All in all, we are very pleased with ourselves. Considering market conditions and the fact that we never even had to list our home, things have gone very well for us. Months and months of intense labor are paying off and now we can enjoy our last two months at the peak of our garden's glory. We couldn't be happier! Here's to hoping the job search goes surprisingly smooth...

Aside from that, my youngest brother's girlfriend will be stopping by tomorrow; she's on her way with one of her roommates to NY. I haven't met her yet, so I'm excited for the opportunity. It should be interesting.

Starbeans has been singing a lot lately. His new hit single is called, "You You You". Those are the only lyrics. I wish you all could hear it; he is so dang cute. And while I'm on the subject of cute...he fell asleep today while watching Gumby. I usually let him watch Gumby for 10-15 minutes after his bath in the morning [email time for me!], but today, he took a bath in the afternoon. It is much to my chagrin to admit this, but...whenever the kid poops, I plop him in the tub. I'm not cleaning up that crap! I probably have the luxury to do this with one child...I shudder to imagine actually having to clean a turdy butt without the bath as a tool. Yuck. Anyway - he took a bath right before nap-time, and not to break bath-time tradition, I let him watch Gumby afterwards. The poor baby fell right asleep. I should have known!

One of the Remaining Two took the opportunity for some snuggle-time with a motionless and non-harrassing toddler

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I am reveling in a well-deserved break from my munchkin today [his nap]. He missed his nap two days in a row this week - Thursday and Friday - and while he did nap yesterday, I spent the entire three hours in a cleaning frenzy, preparing for our potential buyers' 2nd visit. Living in a house and showing a house are entirely two different But the hard work will pay off in the end, especially if we are able to negotiate to a price that pleases us both. We shall see.


Yellow & Purple Crocus

If there is any time of the year that I feel reluctant to move, it is spring. Our garden is on the verge of radiance; it is so nice to spend time outside. I know that 15 dreamy acres located in farmland will make our postage stamp of a yard seem like a cage, but I still feel sad about leaving all of our hard work. Four years of landscaping, to be enjoyed by someone else; much of it purchased when we actually had the money to buy nice things. We also planted several trees, three birch and a sugar maple - I feel sad about never being able to see them mature. There are so many bushes and plants in our yard that I will miss. Thankfully, we will be taking divisions of many of the perennials; but our most favorite dwarf Colorado Blue Spruce is going to have to stay. Sad.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ring-a-ting-ting, complaining, midwifery & FSBO updates

I heard the first Ice Cream Man of the season yesterday. Where I grew up (Western WA), we called him the Popsicle Man. I once blew 20 dollars that I had found at my elementary school playground during after-school hours, ALL ON POPSICLES. I think I bought them for all my siblings and any kids around at the time, too. I always loved the Astro Pops the best.

Anyway, our Ice Cream Man yesterday afternoon played an array of Christmas music, of all things. While he was going by, I heard Jingle Bells and Silent Night. It seems so bizarre and ironic to me as a Northerner. Perhaps a Southerner wouldn't think twice? There is such a firm connection between summer and popsicles/ice cream that is seems so strange to be playing wintry Christmas songs while cajoling through the neighborhood. It gave me a chuckle while I was slaving to wash and rinse blinds that have been in storage since we moved in. It was shocking how dirty they were. It took some serious scrubbing to get the grim off and all the while, I was thinking, "Four years later, and we're still cleaning up their messes!" Seriously. They better be glad they sold in a Seller's Market. Spring cleaning was a foreign concept to these people; they kept their house surfacy-clean, so we spent the first few weeks/months opening up hiding places and shrieking, "Ahhhhhhkkkgh!" You would think blinds would qualify in the Surface Dept.

My meeting with the midwife went well; it was more of a "get to know you" session. We spent a lot of time just chatting, intermixed with light talk about birthing philosophy. They just sold their home FSBO, so that was an interesting connection. Starbeans spent his time going back and forth between the "prenatal room" and the living room, bringing toy cars galore and lining them up on the couch. I liked her. She seemed very big on nutrition and food intake during pregnancy, which is really nice. She is still nursing her 3 year old, so I know that she'll be very supportive in that dept. It seemed like the process of seeing her up unto the birth is not only to monitor general well-being and the pregnancy as it progresses, but also to get a good feel for each other prior to the Big Event. I like that, too. In the case of our move, she is willing to meet half-way for check-ups (amazing) and fine with traveling the 2-3 hours from her home to ours for the birth. She said that there aren't many midwives in the Western MN area. After my search, I would agree with her. I couldn't find much of anyone. Sad.

As far as selling our home goes, we may be going FSBO after all. I can hardly believe it. A simple conversation while meeting a new neighbor morphed into an opportunity to sell our home. The interested couple are friends of our neighbor; they want to move into South Minneapolis and like the idea of living close to their friend and, I believe, the Creek. They came and looked at our house last Friday and are already in the process of scheduling an inspection, an appraisal, another look-through, and plan to put their offer in this Sunday evening. It will be interesting to see what happens. We haven't signed with a realtor yet, so we are home-free to go FSBO. As you can imagine, we are very pleased. We knew our house was cute, but it is so nice to have that affirmed by an outside party. Hooray!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Formerly Four

I haven't posted on this yet, but we relieved ourselves of another cat this weekend. We are down to two, which is much more manageable number, even for cat-lovers. Our stress level is noticeably lower; we knew it would be like that, but it is so hard to part with felines that have become firmly entrenched in one's heart.

Little Bud (formerly known as Seven before he came to us), has a new home with the brother of one of my former co-workers and neighbor, Christina. They are so kind to send us emails of how he is getting along [fabulously]. I am very thankful for that, it makes things a little easier. He is 100% Persian, bred for a longer face, so not show quality - but living a higher quality of life because of it. He is dumb as a rock, but so, so gorgeous.

Here's how inbred he is:
  • His dad is his grandpa
  • His mom is his sister

Yeah, try to wrap your mind around that one. But his breeders, like I said, were going for a longer nose. We got him from a friend who was moving and couldn't take him with (he still can't). He claims to have never seen that Seinfeld episode (the one where George goes ballistic after his acquaintances name their son Seven, the name he came up with). Whatever... The trial-period name before that was Pokey, so I'm glad that didn't stick.

I miss him. Every now and then I think of something he'd be doing or I think I heard his pathetic little meow, and I miss him more. We started calling him Little Bud because it was the only name stupid enough to fit his mental capabilities - like running after Q-tips that weren't even thrown, humping on stuffed animals, and attempts at ingesting yards (and I mean yards) of ribbon. He truly was a little buddy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Midwifery: engaged

I'm meeting with a homebirthing midwife tomorrow first appointment! We spoke on the phone today for about 20 minutes, then scheduled an introductory meeting for tomorrow morning. During our conversation she said that she is willing to travel to our new home, if and when we are able to move by the time of the birth (which is the goal). I thought that was amazing, as it will be a full three hours away.

I am excited to hear her birth philosophy and start making plans for our birth process. I look forward with great interest to going through labor and childbirth again; especially being at home. I have a hunch that it is going to be a completely different experience. It is going to be so interesting!! The best part about it is that sweet little newborn that will be on the other end of it. What a precious thing to contemplate: the fact that it exists right now, who it will be and what it will look like are already formed. That really blows my mind. Squeeze is already calling it a "him", as males run so heavily on the Borealis side. In four generations, there have been 9 males and only 3 females born from Borealis men: those are pretty heavily weighted odds. [Interestingly, the 3 females are spread across 3 generations.] I'm still calling it an "it", though. I prefer the mystery.

While we were discussing our appointment tomorrow, the midwife clearly expected that both Squeeze and I would be coming to the appointment. I was a bit taken aback, mostly because he will be sawing logs at 10:00 am and taking "time off" from sleep is simply not an option - so I didn't even consider it. [Now that he works nights, he sleeps from about 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.] Thinking about it more, her assumption that he would be there is probably another indicator of her birth philosophy...that the male is going to be completely involved and therefore will want to be a part of everything. I like that.

Wednesday is 13 weeks.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Filled with sorrow

I've been crying all weekend and feeling very dismal. Squeeze's cousin, whose farm we took Lester to, emailed and said that they haven't seen him for a week or more. It was hard to part with him in the first place, but knowing that I will probably never see him again is enough to string my heart out on a line and keep my eyes brimming with tears.

My grand scheme was always to get him back when we go rural this summer; to be an outside cat in the country. He would have loved that. Now I don't even know if he's alive. He probably is, but I'll never know that for sure. Unless of course, he comes back... But the only familiar thing at the new place was his carrier and the blanket inside of it. Not people. Not anything but that. Is that enough to bring a stray cat home? I can only hope. It has really been eating at me since I read, and re-read, and re-read again, her email with the bad news. I am very upset. Lester!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Politically active?

I've been writing letters to legislators like nobody's business - something I've never done before. My topics of choice? Support and certification for direct-entry midwives in SD and mercury-free vaccinations in MN. It is so easy - simply go to their website or the legislative website for your state, fill in the necessary information and let 'er rip. It feels good to know that I am voicing my opinions to people who have true influence over laws that affect our lives. I wish I had started sooner!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?

The last couple of days, Starbeans keeps pulling down old photo albums to look at. I've been leafing through them and have been in shock that we lived a full 5 years of marriage and almost 4 years before that without our little munchkin. Can it be? Memories are flooding back and I before baby. It was good. It is strange to me that I barely remember it until I see a visual reminder. Life is good now as well, but very different. I look at pictures of our apartment and think, "Ack! A baby would tear that place apart!" Ah, is different.

One thing that particularly struck me was how great I looked. Why did I worry that I wasn't up to par when my skin was so clear and fresh and young and smooth? Feelings of doubt certainly didn't dominate my thought-life then, by any means; but it lurked in the shadows. Ridiculous. I should be listening to myself present-tense, because I know I'll be saying the same things 5-10 years from now. Damn, I look good.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My little darlin'

Starbeans likes going down the "dide" at the playground near our house. Incidentally, this playground is at a building owned and formerly operated by the Minneapolis Crisis Nursery. They pulled up stakes and left a year ago because they cannot currently afford to run it (their main site is in Golden Valley, MN). We miss having them there.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Yummy yummy yo-go

We eat a lot of yogurt at our house: plain, tangy, and oh-so-delicious. It calms Squeeze's digestive system when he hits a speed bump and makes the perfect 2 AM snack for the pregnant lady. Starbeans loves it, too. He calls it "yo-go".

We eat so much of it that we were buying and consuming anywhere from 3-4 tubs a week. It was getting a little spendy (but not something we wanted to curtail), so I started making it. I have gotten myself into the routine, where it is hardly a blip in the radar on the days I make it. I am also speculating that I might have to start making it every 2-3 days, just to keep up with demand.


4 cups milk
1/2 cup starter yogurt

Put the milk in a pan, put the heat on low and bring it to an almost-boil. Turn off the heat and let it cool to 115-120 degrees (I keep a thermometer in the pan through the process, so I can judge when it it close to boiling, in addition to knowing how quickly it is cooling). Once it has cooled to the appropriate temperature, remove the skin and pour the milk into a pre-warmed bowl [a Pyrex bowl is ideal]; mix in the yogurt starter, then stick it in the oven for 6 or so hours.

I periodically (sometimes only once or twice) turn the oven up to 200 degrees for a minute or so, to keep things warm-ish. The goal is to keep the milk mixture undisturbed and at a consistent-as-possible temperature of around 100 degrees, in order for the yogurt to culture.

I've made all sorts of mistakes, including letting the milk come to a full boil; accidentally turning the oven to 200 for 5-10 minutes; and having to take the bowl out, cover it, and put it in a towel-lined cooler for the rest of the time (I had to use the oven for something else). And somehow, it has always turned out, which leads me to believe it is easier to make yogurt than one would think. You should try it!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Robots in disguise

We were sitting and talking during a muted television commercial the other day. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a car, but didn't pay much attention until Squeeze exclaimed, "Is that a Transformers hub cap??" Sure enough, it was.

Transformers...more than meets the eye!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Thoughts about birthing

I've been thinking about going through childbirth again recently. I'm actually looking forward to it. It was such a consuming experience; and as those intense feelings have faded through time, I'm very curious to do it again.

I want to do a homebirth for a number of reasons:
  • Comfort: Being in my own home, in familiar surroundings. I don't want to plod around a hospital room again.
  • Family: Staying close to Starbeans. Squeeze was with me the entire time with our first delivery; his presence was solid. I want to be near Starbeans with my second delivery (for crying out loud - we've never even had a babysitter!). I do not want to be separated from him for the 12-15-25-who-knows how many hours of labor.
  • Personal space: I did not appreciate being confronted by the decision whether to vaccinate Starbeans against Hepatitis within 24 hours of his birth ("either now or at his first doctor's appointment", she said). While I wasn't completely educated on my options at the time, I had enough wits about me to say, "At his first doctor's appointment!" [You may or may not know my opinions about vaccinations, but this should be said: Target populations for Hepatitis vaccinations are drug users who use needles, prostitutes, and health care workers...why are we inundating a newborns' fresh immune system with this???]
  • Personal space, Part II: I want to be left alone to enjoy my newborn for the first few days of his/her life and not experience the constant interruptions to test their vitals, as if their very life was in danger. I understand hospital regulations and liability, but enough already! [That's why I want to be home.]

Does anyone with homebirthing experience have advice on how to find a homebirthing midwife? We went through the midwives at HCMC last time; my experience was largely positive, but I'm (obviously) ready to give birth at home. My only concern is cost: our co-pay last time was $800. I've heard that a homebirth can run $2000 (assuming that our insurance, with is new, doesn't cover it). From a cost perspective, especially with finances as tight as ours, this may affect our decision. Advice. Please!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I've got nothing

I'm making lentil soup while Starbeans naps this afternoon. That's all I have to say about that.