Wednesday, March 23, 2011

mama time

It's something I long for on those long, long, crabby-toddler-crabby-mama days. It's something that sometimes seems impossible. For me, it's also something that I'm often befuddled by when it happens. Here's how it happens, usually:

The wonderful hubby says "why don't you take off for a few hours and do something alone." Then I start to find reasons that it won't work, including, but not limited to--
-I'd rather that we all do something as a family
-I don't know where to go/what to do
-What I'd really want to do would take more than a couple of hours (little day trip/ little weekend trip)
-I can't make plans with people on short notice

Most of these things are sort of true. For example, when this happened recently I thought it would be nice to go to a nearby state park and hike a little with the binoculars, see what spring migration looks like down here, maybe just sit and look at a stream and relax. When I pulled into the parking lot it was SWARMED with lots of people-- mostly bands of teenagers having a REALLY good time. Not too relaxing for me.

Sewing projects that I'd like to dive into just seem unattainable since I never have the right stuff on hand-- by the time I gathered it all up my couple of hours would be over (not to mention that the big box fabric store near us irrationally depresses me).

Last night I got together with some other moms for a knitting-night-out, which was the first time I've done anything of the sort. So nice, especially these days when a prenatal appointment with a midwife has started to be my only "mama time." No matter how much I love hearing that little fetal heartbeat and finding out that things look normal, it's really not much of a mama-time, you know?

Some of my friends have somewhat "scheduled" mama-time. Say every Saturday afternoon they plan to spend some sans-kiddos time. I know K. would be amenable to this situation, but for some reason I hesitate to do anything like that. I love our family day-trips on days off. I'm lucky to really love spending time with my dude, and taking our little guy to see something new. We really have a great time at museums, parks, or just visiting friends in our old town (Friday's photo was a nice visit we got to have with our friends at Shundahai Farm in Storrs). I wouldn't really want to trade these time for anything.

Or would I? Sometimes I think I undervalue the restorative power of having some quiet me-time, and by the time I feel like I'm cooped up and going crazy, it's a little too late to "get out and enjoy myself" because I'm so darn cranky that I just can't believe that I'll find anything good to do (n.b.: this is one of those things about this area that I haven't gotten used to--the seeming impossibility of finding a local AND quiet nature preserve where I can just roam and be). It's just that I seem to have a bit of a mental-block against it. It's a hurdle I'm struggling with. I also wonder if it's just that I feel like I am supposed to have "alone time" because people always say that it's important-- not because it's fulfilling any deep personal longing that I have.

What do you do for your solitary time? Is it important to you, or not so much?

Friday, March 18, 2011

{this moment}

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."
Another inspired idea from SouleMama.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sad and scary events in Japan right now. All you can do from here, I guess, is hold your loved ones and be grateful for safety. And say a prayer for all those families in Japan who are suffering and will suffer in the future from the terrible earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. It makes my everyday concerns seem very, very small.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This & that

Many of my entries in this blog have been about projects in various stages of done-ness, both material projects and mental projects. My first entry outlined one of my mental projects: acclimating to living in a new town and being a full-time at-home parent. It's about time I followed up on some of these things:

On living in a new place: I'd say I'm doing an okay job in this area. I still think our family belongs in a more rural place, and I hope it will be our next move. However, I'm starting to embrace some of the advantages of living close to a city. Namely, we've been able to find some great spots to eat out as a treat. One of our favorites includes Miya, a sushi place known for its inventiveness and comittment to sustainable fishery. We've basically only had their vegetarian rolls, but we're so happy with them I don't think we need to look elsewhere. We can also eat out with Theo (who loves the rice, cucumbers, avacado in the rolls) for about 25 bucks! And we are all full when we leave. Sweet. We've also found a nice vegetarian spot that is affordable and into local produce. Both of these are in the city, which is only about a 10-15 minute drive from our place. We've also been glad to take advantage of the Peabody Museum and the 2 free fine art musuems on the Yale campus. I think I'd trade it all in an instant to be able to walk out my door and see a lovely stand of trees or a meadow. Watching out for the snowdrops in the woods during spring is so much more inspiring than seeing the trash that's blow into the yard as the snow melts. Gross.

And I've met some people--mostly other moms who are also taking a stab at holistic parenting, to various degrees. Our schedule some weeks is actually quite busy, and I'm glad T. has had a chance to meet some other kids. I think I'm making friends and that makes a huge difference in our day-to-day existence! Yay.

On the basement: I wrote that particular post before morning sickness struck, and although the morning sickness has left somehow that motivation has NOT resurfaced. Suppose we change the subject...

On composting: We're back at it! It doesn't look like our yard is full of rotting banana peels, as it turns out. And our brief hiatus during the snowiest time didn't really tempt me to forget composting altogether. It remains to be seen whether the compost itself will actually be usable anytime soon, but right now we're back to bringing our vegetable scraps out there and waiting to see what will happen.

On bread baking: I did lose a little steam in that area. While we still usually have dough for a crusty loaf on-demand, I've stopped making those nice sandwich loaves that we all relished. I actually can't think of a good reason for this... maybe I'll try again.

On kitchen painting: I think we're going to go with a terra-cotta color, Pumpkin Patch. Our friend suggested that it might look somewhat pink on the wall, so we will likely get a small sample to paint a little bit first. I love pink, but that's not what I have in mind for the kitchen.

While on the topic of the kitchen: Our dishwasher plans are on hold. I guess I should have labeled that post "I have decided that I want a dishwasher," not "Coming Soon." We're one of those families that likes to have a little cushion (and I do mean little) in the bank, and that dishwasher project would probably dip us below the figure that we want to keep in the account. But maybe over the summer when we are not heating the house, etc., we'll have more wiggle room. Let's hope.

On being on the nest: Still am. Not much to say, except we're having (as K. likes to call it) a midwife-crisis. The homebirth I had been hoping for was just not in the budget, even though our insurance covers much of it. I also didn't really click with the midwives who offer homebirth in our area, and it is SO important to click with the people who will be delivering your baby. So that is the main reason we're not going with that option. The midwives who offer waterbirth at a birth center deliver babies and see patients in a city about 45 minutes from here. But door-to-door it's been taking me an hour (and that is with NO traffic) to get to appointments. I really like the midwives, but I am not happy to drive that far for prenatal care, especially not with a 2yr old. Nor am I fond of being an hour from the place once I am in labor. So this week we're seeing a small group of midwives who deliver at Yale, and have come highly recommended. Yale doesn't really offer waterbirth, but so far I really liked the midwife with whom I spoke on the phone. A ten-minute drive to appointments is far more humane for all of us (not to mention all the greenhouse gases we'll save if we switch). A ten-minute drive while in labor is also far more humane. And if I feel confident that these midwives can not let the beast of a teaching hospital interfere with my birth I will go with them. It remains to be seen.

On our general family health: We've been struck by gastroenteritis. The stomach bug. It's been a gross week. The little guy seemed to avert the complete version that his parents were treated to, but he's not really been himself. He probably had or has a mild version of what we had. I had to laugh at my "this moment" post-- serenity this past week! Ha! It's been more like a madhouse of barely-functional parents and a crabby 2yr old trying to survive on oral re-hydration fluids and saltines. And the double-whammy is that it canceled our spring break plans of visiting my parents and having a night or two away at a great little Inn in Vermont. I can't tell you how disappointed we all have been. We would have been enjoying our foray into the Green Mountains now had we not all been ill. So once T. is up and running we're going to make some day-trips happen. Maybe even baby's first trip to NYC! Why not?

That's all. I swore to myself this wouldn't just be a "family updates" blog, but forgive half of this blog for being just that.

I hope you are all well-

Friday, March 11, 2011

{this moment}

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."
Another inspired idea from SouleMama.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pencil Roll

all done

pencils in the roll

in process

Here's my first sewing project since the little guy was born (and the first non-curtain sewing project I've tackled since making hair scrunchies with my best friend in 8th grade). We were invited to a birthday party for one of T.'s friends, and I was having a really hard time thinking of the right present. I had a few titles of fun picture books in mind (and believe me, I was well-prepared to march to the closest bookstore and get them if this project didn't work out). Luckily, I decided on a sewing project that was "suitable for children as young as 10." Which is pretty much at my current skill level.

I was really happy with the result, and surprised at how quickly it all came together! And while I was making it I had some quiet moments to think about what a nice little friend my son has, which is not something I usually do while shopping. And, unlike my home-decor projects, this was really low-stress. Two-year-olds don't really care if my seams are uneven.

Next project: curtains. My fantasy? Whipping together some Roman Blinds like my frightfully talented cousin just did. Though I could see myself snapping a dowel rod in a fit of sewing-induced temper, so maybe I should try an intermediate project first.

Friday, March 4, 2011

{this moment}

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."
Another inspired idea from SouleMama.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What's yogurt without a little....


Making yogurt at home is not exactly a task for a toddler. There's too much temperature sensitivity and then there's the milk and glass jars that need to stay clean. Inevitably, Theo needs my attention just as the milk is reaching the near-boiling point and needs to be taken off the heat, or just when it has cooled enough to add the cultures. Seriously. It's like he has a timer in his head for these things. We've been able to work it out, which is good since that pretty jar of yogurt only lasted about 24 hours around here, and we made a double batch yesterday.

After the yogurt-making, I decided to make granola-- something easily incorporated into a kid's day (at least the dry ingredient parts). He had a blast mixing the different seeds and nuts and oats, while I stirred up the wet ingredients. We used a recipe I read about on other blogs, but with a few modifications so that I didn't have to go shopping. This is a "nut and seed" granola, and it is really not very sweet at all. I do prefer my granola with some kind of dried fruit, so next time around I'll add raisins or maybe some chopped up dried apricots. Here's my version of the recipe:

Nut & Seed Granola

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup almonds, sliced
1 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple juice
1 1/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients; mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Slowly pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients, using a spatula to fold and evenly coat the dry mixture with the wet. Spread on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan and bake. Turn granola every 15 or 20 minutes so that it toasts evenly. Bake until granola is dry and golden (45-60 minutes). Store in an air tight jar. (Adapted, but borrowed from SoulMama's post on granola)

Since my homemade yogurt is significantly more tart than the store bought yogurt, it benefits from a little evening out (actually, I'd benefit from a little evening out too, but more on that another day). Often sliced fruit will do the trick, or a little honey, or a little jam. But adding this granola is a major treat, since it not only adds the slightest touch of sweetness (just sweet enough to not actually taste sweet, but to counter the tartness somewhat), but it adds body and crunch with the seeds and nuts.

eat & be merry-

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

When rain actually motivates a body . . .

fresh yogurt and flowers from the mister

I was having a really hard time getting out of bed this morning. I missed the all-important pregnant-lady nap yesterday because the T. man cut his nap short. So I was overtired and tossed and turned a lot. The windows were bright at 6:15, which was a nice change from the rainy mornings we've had. T. woke at 6:15, which is LATE for him, and he was in a jolly mood (not a garuntee in the morning). In a normal world this would make me get out of bed pretty willingly. But I felt tired.

Then I remembered.....

I had a nice fresh batch of homemade yogurt waiting for me in the fridge! For those readers of the old blog, you'll remember what a homemade yogurt fanatic I used to be. Then we moved... then we moved again... then I was dairy-free when T. was in his early nursing months.... then we moved. Let's just say the ambition for making my own dried up at some point, spurred on (no doubt) by the disorganization that comes with my method of packing (pack carefully and neatly for a few days, then panic and throw anything/everything into any old box).

Yesterday, as I mentioned, was rainy. And we're not afraid of the rain. We have our coats and boots. Yet, when the rain is coming down in sheets the prospect of bringing a 2yr old to the grocery store for yogurt is just not appealing. Taking a fun rain walk, yes. Driving to a play date--fine. But there's already something smarmy about a grocery store and rain certainly does not help. That's when I had a vague memory of coming across a bunch of our yogurt makers in a box somewhere recently, and I also remembered that a heating pad and some insulating material (a tea cozy, wool sweater, thick towels, whatever) have worked for me in a pinch.

This is where my method of packing isn't so bad, because it's paired (on occasion) with an uncanny ability to recall where certain items might be. So within minutes of deciding not to go to the store, I had found an old yogurt maker, scrubbed a glass jar nice and clean (as seen in yesterday's post) and put a quart of milk on the stove.

Voila! From local milk comes ultra-local yogurt!

I had also willfully forgotten that the taste of homemade is truly, really, truly, and oh so very, very.