Sunday, June 29, 2008

garden update

I have done a lousy job keeping the blog updated with garden photos. Yesterday in the rain, I snapped a few shots. Who can resist lilies with raindrops?The first tomatoes are coming in nicely. These are a variety called Siberian.
Beets have been a ravishing success. Can't wait to pickle these beauties:
Nothing more delicious than peas right off the vine. I had my first taste this weekend, and these were as sweet as ever.
Nasturtiums are a new experiment this year. They are very other worldly - we were happy to see the first blooms.
Oh the greens. We missed out on spinach, arugala, and tat soi - they just bolted too quickly. We're still enjoying the romaine and the red romaine, as well as simpson's black seeded lettuce and bok choy. Here's one of the sections of red, with onions growing like crazy behind.
The garlic is doing that thing that garlic does. Scapes? Scopes? We have 3 varieties, and they've all shot out their beautiful little flower thingeys. We'll try these in an omelette tomorrow.
The bay plant is doing well. We hope to keep this one indoors and see if it'll live for a few years.
There are canna lilies all over the garden, and they are by far the showiest flower we have. They are tall, stately, and bright beautiful red. I think these ones by the composter will bloom first.
And now, the thing you've all been waiting for: Baby Gus in striped pajamas. I think this is pretty darn cute.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


August continues to meet growth and development milestones at an amazing pace. At least, it's amazing to me. I consciously avoid any websites and books that tell me when and how my baby should develop. I think that most of that will happen naturally, and if we're missing any big pieces, we'll find out at his medical checkups. I also plan to ignore all talk of percentiles, just for sanity's sake.

Most of my knowledge, therefore, comes from growing up helping my mom in her daycare (although I admit we read The Baby Book by Dr. Sears before the babe was born). Things like when he should roll over, when he should crawl, when he should teethe - those are just loose estimates in my head. He surprised me by rolling over almost a month ago - from back to belly, and he surprised me again this morning when he finally made that next leap - front to back. He was laying on a blanket in the kitchen while Dave and I were reading the paper, getting ready for the day. I peripherally knew he was on his belly (as per usual these days) and I heard a bump. I glanced down, and he was back on his back, looking confused as all get out. After a little fussing - he may have bumped his head a bit - he was pleased to roll back to his belly and chew on the blanket, content as he is on most mornings.

He gets his knees up under him, and he can scoot just a little forward. He can't coordinate knees and arms yet, so he scoots with his head against the ground. That seems like pre-crawling to me, and I'm excited that he's doing it already.

He drools more than the dog, often soaking the front of his romper. Gail, my lovely midwife, told me yesterday that he could easily be teething, and that he just won't cut that first one for awhile. Some babies are apparently born with teeth, so that thing about babies not getting them until 6 months, well that's just not always true. Her firstborn cut his first tooth in his 4th month, and she guesses that August may do the same.

And oh - my favorite milestone. He sleeps. He sleeps so well. It's been a full week now, and he has consistently gone to bed at the same time, and stayed there through the night. If he wakes up, he doesn't fuss or cry, and doesn't need to be fed. He sucks his fingers and goes back to sleep, with no help from Mom and Pop. He stays put in the morning, content to watch the shadows on the wall and the sheep mobile above him. I'm trying to keep to a 7am wake up, giving myself enough time to shower, get dressed, pump if I'm going to work, and have a little time with Dave before we get the little guy. Frequently he's up when we go to him, but he's not upset at all, just delighted to see us again.

I think that's the most surprising thing, how peaceful he is in the morning. I don't think most 3 month olds are happy to go 12 hours between meals, sleeping or waking, but happy just to be. My mother in law used to tell me that when Dave was a baby, he wouldn't cry in the crib -he just waited happily until someone came get him. She found it eerie, worrying that something was wrong with the baby who didn't cry. But there wasn't, he was just happy to entertain himself, the same then as he is now. I feel like that August is much like Dave in so many ways, and I hope this one carries him through life as it has his poppa.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

the ivy

Much of the household has suffered since Dave has been sick. He takes care of so many things - the pets, the cleaning, the garden. I'm mostly useless when I get home from work, but I have kept all 3 pets alive and done a decent job in the garden (I hope). The cleaning has gone out the window, even though I have managed to vacuum a few times. I forgot to sweep the kitchen floor, and this morning saw some ants marching in. Note to self - Dave also sweeps the kitchen daily!

Anyway, last night when I was watering things, I made sure to pay special attention to the Boston Ivy. This plant was our star purchase at the Friend's School Plant Sale, and it has already had a rough year. Due to many unavoidable obligations, it had to stay in its little plastic pot much longer than the rest of the plants from the sale. It was the last thing in the ground, and I think it was at least 2 weeks after we purchased it that Dave was finally able to take the time to make a nice space for it.

With his being sick, I was worried that this prized little plant would wither and die, so I've been careful to water it and check on it daily. Last night, I saw something cool.
It has begun to climb the siding. Tenuous, yes, but it gives me hope just the same.

midwife gift 3 - pi shawl

Oh pie shawl, how I adore thee.
I am not ashamed to say that this was the most difficult thing I have ever knit. It absolutely kicked my ass. It tested my patience, it tested my skill, and it nearly brought me to tears more than once. I cannot believe I finished this in one month. I devoted nearly every evening and every spare second to it (and though I don't have a lot of those) there was one evening where Dave mentioned that he had joined a support group for men whose wives are knitting the "big blue thing."

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's pi shawl from Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: Misti Alpaca
Needles: US 7, most of it on a 32" circular
Gauge: 4-5 sts per in, after blocking
The night before I met Gail for the first time, I sat down at the kitchen table and cried. I believe I was 17 weeks pregnant, and yes - there was a lot of crying in those first months - but I remember feeling terrified. I had a list of questions to ask these potential midwives, and I was a little overwhelmed by the prospect of giving birth in general, let alone giving birth at home. We met with Gail and Clare, and they answered all of our questions patiently. We talked about many things, including pregnancy and birth, but also life and family, hopes and values. As we were getting up to leave, I really wasn't sold. I wasn't sure this was the right thing for us, just not the right fit. Before I saw it coming, Gail caught me in a huge bear hug. It surprised me, since I'm generally not a hugger (especially with strangers). Calm washed over me, and I knew in that moment that everything was going to be okay. Just then, I felt that I trusted Gail completely.
That trust never wavered, and it was her that I relied on most heavily during my labor. She was the one I called when I felt my first contractions, she was the one I leaned on against on the wall when we were trying to change the baby's position, and she was the one who got me through that most awful night - Monday - when I was so sure that I wanted to give up. When we asked Clare and Emme to leave after 2 days of labor, it was Gail that we asked to stay. She didn't leave our house for nearly 3 days, and so far as I knew - she was happy to do it.

Dave and I joke that Gail is a modern day witch - that she knows things about the natural world that most folks would miss. Her knowledge of homeopathy was able to slow my labor that second night so I could get some rest. Even now, with Dave so sick - we asked the nurses at the clinic if the baby was at risk, and when they weren't sure, the first person I thought of to ask was Gail. She just knows things, somehow, and that makes me feel lucky to have known her.
And so, for Gail, a shawl. A shawl that was sooooo freaking complicated that I couldn't find the big, glaring mistake in the lace pattern. It grimaces out at me from these photos, and I only hope she won't notice. This was my first attempt at knitting lace, and I realize only now what an undertaking it was.
I don't think that Gail is a lacy-shawl wearing type of lady. In fact, she might be the exact opposite of a lacy-shawl wearing lady, but I don't care. I wanted something she could wrap around herself, something that would be soft, and would make her feel calm. That first hug was just the beginning, and over the months of my pregnancy and after, there were many hugs exchanged.

I think it is suitable that this shawl took my knitting to a higher level, and it taught me something about patience, about being too big for my britches, about biting off more than I can chew. I learned something very similar from Gail, and when I look back at that scared pregnant lady, crying at her kitchen table, I feel like there are decades between who I was then and who I am now. It was Gail who guided me across that bridge, from woman to mother, and for that - for all that she taught me - I am terribly, terrible grateful.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

midwife gift 2 - felted bag

Personally, I have never been a fan of felted items, but I thought a big, floppy, felted bag would suit Clare. I could never quite put my finger on her - she swung between totally professional and totally wacky. I remember last winter, after she saw Dave and I all suited up in our many knitted winter items, she took up her knitting needles and produced a number of fun, stripey scarves. I think this bag will complement them nicely.
Pattern: None, I just knit a big circle and ended with a 3 needle bind off, then attached handles.
Yarn: Plymouth Boku in two different colorways
Needles: My trusty old US 10 circulars
Gauge: I didn't measure before I felted, and I can't measure now.
Clare was amazing during the birth. There were times when Dave and I were in our bedroom, working through the contractions. Clare would come in, and sit with her back against the wall and eyes closed. I could hear her breathing, and just her calm presence made me slow down, follow her breath, and relax a little bit. I remember that she made me the most delicious bowl of oatmeal I have ever eaten. I'm hungry just thinking about it.
Clare was the midwife I saw most while I was pregnant. There were times when my checkups were just with her, and she was also my yoga teacher so I saw her on a near weekly basis. I came to absolutely adore her, and I miss her fun smile and her goofy attitude. She made me laugh so many times when I thought I was beyond laughter, and I'm grateful to her for it.
I don't know for sure that she'll like this bag, but it turned out just the way I expected it to. It's sturdy and useful, and also fun. I wasn't sure I was going to line it with fabric, but when I started my new job and found out that Crafty Planet is just across the street, I couldn't help but pop in for 1/2 yard to finish this off. I like the contrast of the plain floral pattern inside, and I think it gives the finished bag a nice touch.

midwife gift 1 - socks

3 midwives attended August's birth - well, technically 2 midwives and 1 a doula. In the weeks immediately afterward, I decided to knit them all gifts as a thank you for the spectacular job they did, both before, during, and after our little guy came into the world. Honestly, I owe these women so much that simple knitted gifts don't seem like they quite cut it.

I cannot believe it took me 3 full months to complete these 3 projects, but I had a lot less knitting time than I had anticipated. Who new a newborn would almost always require two hands?

Midwife gift 1 - socks!
During one of the postpartum visits, our doula Emme mentioned how much she liked August's socks. He was wearing these ones, so I thought what better than to make her a pair for herself?
Pattern: I followed the basic sock recipe in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules!
Yarn: Lanett Superwash
Needles: US 2
Gauge: 8.5 sts to the in
Mods: Hm... I finished these in the middle of April and I do not honestly remember.

I think they're a pretty good replica of the original, and I hope she likes them. I no longer give socks to non-knitting friends, and Emme is a knitter herself. I don't think non-knitters realize how much work goes into a pair of hand knit socks, so there you have it.
I was kicking myself over how long this pair took me to knit, but that was long before I got to gift 2 and 3, and I realize now that a month for a pair of socks is nothing considering I was caring for our newborn at the same time.During my long labor, Emme was patient and present. Though I know I snapped at her a few times, she was never anything other than wonderful toward me, and I'm grateful for the help she provided during the labor. She was extremely helpful in the first week of Gus's life as well, making a few special trips to my house to help me get started nursing. She was lovely and patient, and I'm so thankful for all she did to help our little family.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I have a secret. I have to whipser it, because saying it out loud might jinx it:

he has slept through the night for the last three nights!

Now I know it's too much to hope for. I know that he will not continue to sleep through the night. I know that getting up in around 2 am is my lot in life, at least for the next few years. Honestly, I feel like I've sort of gotten used to it. But boy, it's nice. Ohhhh, so nice. I still got up and checked on him the last two nights, just be sure he was breathing. He has become devoted to sleeping on his tummy, and that bugs me. I flip him back over and pray that he doesn't wake up. So far, so good.

Now as soon as Dave starts feeling better (and sleeping through the night himself) we'll be the best rested family on the block. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

this month

This month, I learned that he can roll. With absolutely no concern for where he is. Couch? Table? Elevation be damned, he wants to roll.
I learned that he's better from back to front, and almost always rolls to his left.
Pumping isn't fun, but I think it could be worse.
The stroller is a reliable device to put him to sleep.
He likes the pets! Soon, tail pulling will commence.
He misses me when I'm gone, and he has a lot to say to me when I get back.
His frown is the exact same that mine was when I was his age.
He may be a terribly stubborn child. Maybe.

This is the first month where I think it all really began to click. We're moving out of baby boot camp, and into the glory days of babyhood. Just as the second 3 months of pregnancy began to get easier, I think this next three months will be much different than the first 3. August slept through the night for the first time last night, and I have never been happier to wake up at 5:30. My first instinct that was something was wrong. I did not, after all, wake up to him screaming. I crept over to the crib to check on him, and he had rolled onto his belly and was sucking on his fingers. I was so astonished to find him sleeping after 8 hours that instead of getting an extra hour myself, I took a shower, did the laundry, read the paper, and ate breakfast, all in peace. While I know he probably won't begin doing this every night for a little while, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and felt renewed hope that this summer will actually be pretty great.

The sickness of Dave continues, however, and trying to be at work while Dave suffers and takes care of Gus has been really hard. I left the baby with his grandma for the first time yesterday, and it was easier than I thought it would be. He behaved beautifully, and again, I see the light. I think he'll be spending more and more time with grandma, even after Dave is on the mend. I trust her so completely, and Gus loves being with her. I'm grateful that we have family in town to help us when we need it, and it's actually a little surprising that we haven't left him alone yet. We're fortunate in many ways, even though this past month has been hard. Summer has arrived and is in full swing, and I feel grateful to have a healthy, happy, playful little boy to spend it with. Ah, fambly.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I went into labor 3 months ago today. Can't believe it's already been this long.
It's time for official 3 month photos of the little guy, but I'm not willing to haul him into a photo studio and pay dearly for what I feel I may be able to do myself. At least, I think I can. Isn't that why we all have digital cameras? We had a little practice photo shoot in the yard this weekend, and if he hadn't been so giggly, trying the whole time to roll over and watch the leaves and the clouds, I would have had my shot. Even still, I think we did okay.
We'll try again next time the sun is out.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

best things

While I was on maternity leave, I wasn't sure that changing jobs this spring was the right thing to do. Now that it's all said and done, though, I couldn't be happier. These last few weeks at the old job will be hard, especially since I'm training in the evenings, but today I got my first taste of what the new job will actually be like.

It's going to be great. I'm the only employee, so I can bring baby bear to work with me:

Plus, the office is in a storefront, next to a coffee shop and across from a yarn store. You can't beat that! And even better than bringing the baby to work and having him sleep most of the time - there's a huge ceiling fan, which he loves.I know the days where he'll be completely occupied by a ceiling fan are few, so I'm grateful for them now.

I think it's all gonna work out in the end. Just have to get Dave healthy and get past this little bump, right? By July, I'll be working 3 days a week, and gearing up for our trip back east. If we take it one day at a time, I think we might just make it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

getting by

I fell asleep standing up today. Just for a second really. The elevator in my office building is ancient, and if you press the button at the same time as someone else, you could be waiting the better part of 10 minutes to get on. I leaned my head back against the wall and let my laptop bag sink to the floor. The next thing I knew, I was blinking awake to the soft ding as the car arrived. I pulled my sunglasses down, even though I was still indoors.

The ladies I work with cluck at me, "Oh, she's a new mom, she must be so tired." Affectionate and taunting at the same time. "You have no idea" I want to say, but don't have the energy to go into how awful this week has been.

Because I am wonder woman and think I can do everything, I didn't just return to my job this week. No no, I agreed to start training for my new job in the evenings. My day job kept me away for 7 hours each day, plus 2 or 3 hours in the evening on Tuesday and Thursday. That's not the worst part, though. Dave taking over at home coincided with a mysterious illness, which we now know to be mono. He has zero energy, and while the baby bear is missing me - the one thing that calms him is walking around. Poor Dave barely has the energy to stand, let alone pace the floors trying to calm master AP. Add to that an elbow injury, and for the last two days he can barely hold the kid at all.

The saying goes that the Lord won't hand you anything that you're not able to handle, but more and more I think that's crap. Each time we feel like our heads are above water, that there's finally some sunshine around the corner, life hands us one more sucker punch to the gut, leaving us gasping for air. Right now I've got my fingers crossed hoping that at some point in my past I had mono and I'm immune. Within a few weeks we'll find out, and as Dave's symptoms begin to subside (hopefully soon) mine may start to bring me down.

"This isn't the way it's supposed to be" I keep thinking to myself, and while I suppose that's the bargaining stage of grief, it feels more like anger. I wouldn't trade anything for the time with Gus that we've had - he's an amazing child, mostly cheerful all the time and so much fun to be around. But man, this is hard. Ugh. At least it's Friday. There's some peace on the horizon.

pupper of the week

She curls up next to him for nap time, always keeping a safe distance. The family dog has suffered, it's true - but I think she likes the baby just as much as we do. Irene can adapt, she just does so reluctantly.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

this little problem

I have a small knitting problem. It involves brooklyn tweed. You see, every time he posts a new project, I fall completely in love with it and decide to knit it. Just recently, he posted the knitted garter stitch blanket. Even though I have at least 3 projects to finish before I will allow myself to start something new, I'm already picturing how this will keep us warm all winter long.

It was his pi shawl blanket that got me started on my own pi shawl, and I had originally planned to finish this shawl and start on a blanket just like his. The knitting was tricky though, and after 3 weeks I'm still 18 rows from the end. With each row 500+ stitches in lace weight, it takes me a good half hour to finish just one. I wanted to finish it by the weekend, though, so I could fix up the sweater that I made for Dave. He was supposed to get it for his birthday, and I actually finished sewing it all up the day prior. He tried it on, and it was a good 10 inches too long. I've got to rip back the fronts and back and reshape the armholes, something I promised would be complete by Fathers day. After that I want to do EZ's BSJ for my little guy, inspired again by brooklyn tweed - here.

Every garment he knits is so freaking gorgeous, that the problem isn't just in that I want to knit everything he posts. The problem is that he is a much more advanced knitter than I am, so while I get all excited and think each new project is the perfect project for me, I need to step back and realize - this guy has a talent I will never have.

Alas, I can click through his completed projects and dream, right? Now back to that gigantic shawl!

Friday, June 6, 2008

where he sleeps

There is a lot of debate among some folks on where you're supposed to put your baby to sleep. I've felt a little conflicted about that, but am learning to get over what people thing you should do. Gus has slept with us in our bed or next to the bed for these first 2 and a half months of his life. I usually put him down next to us to start, and then between us after the first feeding. He falls asleep faster when he's in our bed, and at 2 am, that's what I'm most interested in. I don't sleep well with him in our bed, though, especially once he begins to half-wake. He snuggles up to me, and that usually involves flailing arms and repeated kicking. I've taken more than one kick to the boob, and I'm getting tired of waking up to someone pulling my hair. After our adventure to the fabric store this week, I made this:Baby bed extraordinaire. Now I'm the first to admit that I'm not much of a seamstress, but I think this turned out okay. I bought 3/4 yard of 2" foam, and used some leftover padding for the bumpers. The bumpers aren't actually meant to prevent him from going anywhere, in fact he rolled right over them this morning. They're more for decoration and to slow him down, so he can't get too far too fast.I think it turned out great, and he seems to like it just fine. It's softer than what he was sleeping on before, and I'm convinced that the reason he likes our bed better in the middle of the night is because our mattress is soft. I put him in it for naps too, so he's getting used to the idea.
It's nap time now, though, so I have to quit posting and start showering - soon he'll be awake!