Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On a Snowy Tuesday Morning

I woke up at 6am and immediately looked out the window and went out to this computer to see if the children had a delay.  There seems to be rain and ice outside, but no delay.  I needed that delay - I wasn't prepared for this school morning.

In the kitchen, I whisk together a blueberry coffee cake and as it bakes, I take a shower. I run through morning scenarios as I shower because there are, as you will see, lots of variables. As I dress, I hear the baby starting to fuss and it sounds like she still is sick; she had a fever and a runny nose yesterday evening.

It's now 7am and time for the big kids to get up, so as I change Phoebe's diaper (she is crying and definitely feverish so I won't take her on the school walk), I'm exhorting them from the next room over to get up and get going because daddy is sick and sleeping and I need them to be helpful.

While I nurse Phoebe on the sofa, the coffee cake timer goes off and she wails as I set her down on the kitchen floor to check the cake.  Back in the oven it goes and back to the sofa for Phoebe and me.  By this time, Ben and Genevieve are struggling downstairs and mostly awake.  Phoebe fusses with her toys in the kitchen as I make coffee, put away the clean dishes in the dish drainer, and plate coffee cake for the big kids and me, pouring milk (a dash of coffee for Genevieve, please).  I stand at the counter eating bites of cake as I start to pack lunches.  I leave the children in the kitchen to fetch some foccacia and brownies from the freezer in the basement; the sidewalk is turning slick and the rain has turned to heavy snow.  In the kitchen, I peel two clementines for the big kids' lunches and urge them to hurry, to clear their breakfast spots.

I rouse my husband long enough to ask him if he wants to walk the big kids to school or stay home with the sick baby; he was up until 3am meeting a work deadline and he is fighting a cold himself.  He opts to stay home.

It's now 7:30 and Phoebe is very fussy.  I set her up in her high chair and give her a few cheerios.  I mix some yogurt with a squirt of broccoli/pear/peas from a baby food pouch (man, I love that convenience).  I slice more coffee cake, grab my coffee, and sit down at the dining room table with her.  I am surprised by her appetite because she is clearly sick.  I share my coffee cake with her, picking it apart for the cake and blueberries, keeping the nuts on my side.  She is especially fond of the blueberries and picking cheerios off my fork.  I yell up to the big kids to keep dressing because I hear a toy car going across the floor.

Phoebe notices the snow outside the dining room window; she is mesmerized.  I clean her up and we stand at the window while I tell her about snow.  I plunk her on the bed next to her daddy, surrounding her with pillows and toys.

The big kids are now milling around downstairs - I remind Ben to put socks on and he dashes upstairs again.  We cram into the bathroom for teeth brushing, hair brushing, face washing and of course a fight breaks out; I finish my teeth at the kitchen sink and ignore them.  They put on their snow pants, boots, coats, and put their lunches in their back packs.  Genevieve heads out to feed her rabbit, Ben goes to the front porch to wait, and I race around covering the coffee cake, unplugging the coffee, picking up cheerios off the floor, wiping the high chair again and putting it away, checking one more time if there's a snow delay, etc. etc.

We leave for school at 8:20 (this is late), walking a half mile across town.  It's fun, that walk; we chat and I hold Genevieve's bare hand in my mittened one and Ben throws a few snowballs, careful of cars and pedestrians (good boy!). At school, we kiss and hug and I hurry home.  My husband has brought Phoebe out on the sofa to snuggle as she is getting fussy for her morning nap.  He returns to bed and I change her diaper and check her temperature; it's a low-grade fever at this point.

She bounces in her johnny-jumper while I blow dry my hair.  As I return my things to the bedroom, Phoebe on my hip, I manage to smash my finger in the catch of the pocket door as I whirl it closed.  I am whimpering, Phoebe is crying.  I sit her down so I can bandage my bloody finger, lamenting my clumsiness.

I cuddle Phoebe on the sofa and nurse her again, an extra nursing because she is sick.  She struggles with her stuffy nose.  When she is peaceful, I put her in her crib for her nap.

Downstairs, it is 9am and I hurriedly pack my market cart, thankful I made my list yesterday. I put my snow clothes on again and walk down to market.  I fill my cart and walk home.  It is 10am.
The market haul; I'm not taking the time to style it for a photo.  I'm not that kind of blogger.

The house is quiet.  I hang up my dripping coat, bag up the produce, lay out chick peas and beets to roast later, refrigerate the leftover coffee, and sit down to write this post.

I want these details of a fairly ordinary morning at this time in my life.  Let it stand on the record that family life is a lot of work, that I am happy and efficient and busy.  I find times to catch my breath (like this post) and other times I am just exhausted and barely kind to my family.  I also want to remind myself that ordinary family life is consuming right now, even though the general vibe I get in society is that I'm a lightweight, that parenting and housekeeping shouldn't occupy all my time and energy; I don't believe that, but it's tiring to defend myself. The children grow so fast, so I will be with them now and later have outside commitments and paying jobs.  The baby is about to wake up.  I am ravenous.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Monster and a Robot for Ben

A hole appeared in the knee of a nice pair of Ben's jeans.

 I wondered if he would like a monster face there, something I had seen on Pinterest.  He was charmed, and I amused myself one Sunday afternoon with needle, thread, and fabric scraps. 

I did the patch entirely by hand so I didn't have to rip open the side seams to get the leg into my sewing machine.  It was not as difficult to hand-sew through denim as I thought.  We love Ben's monster, and he often gets compliments when he wears the jeans; in fact, he styled himself on Sunday with a sweater vest, red bow tie, (orange snow boots - whoops, forgot the penny loafers at home), and his monster-knee jeans.

The robot came about because I bought Ben a plain green sweatshirt at the thrift store and offered to embellish it for him.  He drew a robot for me, which I had to modify to sew, which did not please him, so we had to go back and forth several times at the drawing board.

I don't enjoy looking at the final result as much as he does.  He is so pleased that his robot has sunglasses.  

I am just pleased to have so much fun sewing things for my boy that he loves.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snapshots from a Modern Blizzard

Plenty of time to sew new boots for Phoebe.  I felted a thrift store sweater vest, and this time I added some calico toes and rick rack. 

Genevieve deeply desired to make snow candy.  I sicced her on her father.

 He would like it put on the record that he got up off the sofa, out of a nap, to indulge her.

There's a sidewalk under there.  The city imposed a travel ban which made for even deeper silence and peace.

 I am messing around with yeasted coffee cakes currently.  This has a strawberry filling and a cream cheese drizzle.

 Oh look, our very own chocolate covered strawberry!

 And whoops, this is the result of the snow candy the morning after.  It all melted.  Wonder if the snow will. . .

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Homemade Balls for the Cousins

I seem to have developed a pattern of making just one gift for someone every Christmas. This year, it was Phoebe and her little first cousin Drew.  A first first cousin!  I am now an aunt!  There is great joy and noise in our extended family with two babies, let me tell you.

 I followed this easy pattern.  I used cut up batting scraps as the stuffing, and I put a little jingle bell in the middle to give it a rattle.  Both babies enjoy their simple balls more than I expected, although Phoebe's ball has the aggravating characteristic of rolling away where she can't follow.  Must learn to crawl, Fee!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Thoughts on Feeding the Baby

I feed the baby a lot these days.  Eight times a day, whether it's nursing or solids.  My goal is to help Phoebe love to eat to nourish her body, a balance between pleasure and practical fueling.  There are so many ways to be confused and crazy about food choices these days, so my goal clarifies my food decisions for myself and my family.

To that end, here are my thoughts and observations on feeding Phoebe.

1. We introduce her to every flavor we are eating, with the exception of honey and really hot-spicy food.  My casual research indicates that her digestive system can probably handle any possible botulism spores in honey by now, but I'm going to wait until the recommended 1 year old.  We do not skimp on strongly flavored foods for Phoebe, but we introduce truly picante dishes very slowly, in the way of babies the world over.  Phoebe has eaten vegetable sushi, hot and sour soup, injera, dhal, you name it - whatever we are eating and most of it is food my mom would not touch.

working on eating a vegetable sushi roll

2.  If she spits out a food, we preserve a neutral face without comment and keep offering it again at that meal or next time it comes to the table.  Back in my really evangelical days, I heard a preacher say that people usually need to hear the gospel seven times before they accept it.  I use that as a joke for food, too.  Granted, my big kids have some real food likes and dislikes, but around here, we try to treat dislikes as "preferences," instead of absolutes.  So when squash comes to the table, Ben is still required to eat some, but he will never choose it for his birthday meal or from a restaurant menu.

the rejected pickled beets

In Phoebe's case, she spit out pickled red beets with vigor the first lunchtime I gave them to her. I don't think she chewed a single one. A week or so later, I served pickled red beets with chicken and dumplings.  I simply put a bit in her mouth without comment (she opens her mouth like a bird for anything from my fork) and she ate it.  And ate more throughout the meal!  I was pleased, but I did not praise her because. . .

3. I try very hard not to make my kids' eating about pleasing me.  I focus on nourishing bodies and respecting the people who made or grew the food and honoring the preciousness of enough food when there are people in our world who are hungry.  I never allow them to throw food away unless it's manufactured junk.  If they are truly full and there is food on their plate, possibly another family member will eat it or they are put it in the compost bucket; however, they absolutely cannot have more food at that sitting because I don't want them to be "too full" for a vegetable in favor of dessert.  We don't use dessert as a reward - it is part of the meal, although unlike the savory part of the meal, they are not required to have some because dessert is by definition sugary and I see no reason to encourage sugar consumption.
Well, I got off track there talking about the baby's meals, because she's not old enough to grasp the concept of wasting food.  It's relevant, though, because this is the long-term goal, so I don't praise her for eating, but just agree with her that the food is delicious or observe that she's done eating.

4. I trust her appetite, while guiding her into the pattern of family eating.  A healthy child will eat the food she needs - it's important for people to recognize real hunger and I've seen that children can do that but adults can confuse hunger with boredom, sadness, or habit.  However, it's still easiest to manage family meals if we all eat about the same time, so I gently nudge Phoebe towards our family mealtimes, making sure we eat supper on the early side to accommodate her needs.  Of course she has more snacks throughout the day than the rest of us because her stomach is smaller, but I steer my big kids away from snacks as much as possible and direct their hunger to mealtimes.

5. And we enjoy food!  We sometimes ditch the normal approach and just (wheeee!) eat fries from a drive-through, or get bakery cupcakes after school, or have a bedtime snack, or have eat junk food on vacation.  Because for me, personally, it's good to bend the rules I make for myself and be a little mischievous. I don't want to take myself too seriously.

I discussed children's eating in this post as well: Thoughts on French Kids Eat Everything

I'd be grateful for your thoughts and comments.  This post is in response to a Sunday school discussion a bunch of parents are having right now.  The young parents invited the mor
e experienced parents to come and share with us - it's life-giving, encouraging, and wonderful.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Little Felt Boots and a Hood

I have nothing deep to say about Christmas or the new year.  I might, in time, but for now, I've still got a backlog of projects that I want to blog about for the record.  Hooray for the end of the holidays and a return to normal!

I wanted to keep Phoebe warm when I carried her in the Ergo on the walk to school.  She swivels her head back and forth in true baby curiosity, so the attached hood on her coat was getting in the way.  I made her this winter baby bonnet out of a felted fuschia cashmere sweater.  It was so simple because I didn't line it, and I think it's totally adorable.  I had intended to do a blanket stitch around the edges, but Phoebe has worn it so much that I haven't bothered.

Then her little tootsies needed to be kept warm outside and, sometimes (rarely this winter), inside on the cold floor.

I used this tutorial to make felt boots out of the same sweater, but oh my, I made some funny mistakes on the way.  I was in a hurry, so I didn't read closely enough and I sewed the curved toe to the top of the instep.  Fortunately, I had taken an uncharacteristic step of making trial runs ("muslins") in scrap fabric.

So yes, these had to be thrown away and then I figured out my mistake.

I also made an entire pair of boots using leopard-print polar fleece (see second photo above).  They do work, although the lesson I learned from making those was to take precise measurements instead of sizing up to account for growth as I usually do for children's clothing.

And now Phoebe is snug, with nothing hampering her mobility.

 Both projects were quite fast (not accounting for my mistakes with the boots) and used very little fabric.  If the winter were colder, I'd probably make some more.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

This photo is the result of my obsession in November for having a family photo to send out at Christmas.  Obviously our visions did not align, but it's funny to me (now).

Merry Christmas to all of you!  Thank you for making this blogging thing so much more fun and meaningful.


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