May 29, 2012

a weekend in May

"“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”  - CS Lewis

Our current offspring have swelled to 9, some travel hours and hours and hours to get here, and Tuesday always seems to arrive faster each year...  still, Memorial Day is precious in so many ways and we chose to honor it with the days we had and the dear friends surrounding us.

   ~ the Tomten worked his charms~

~ celebrations were underscored with foods: both familiar and not.

~there were moments of play~

~and moments spent relaxing~

Today I turn from those fond memories and look to the remainder of the week: my brother-in-law, D, will be married this Friday and the festive spirit of love and support are already coursing through my veins in anticipation of the wedding!  Hip hip hooray for LOVE: in friendship. in matrimony.  I am so very blessed to feel the flame of both 
this week.

May 22, 2012

Bread crumbs

The Goose Moon brought them.  

The flashy care taker is what keeps them here.


May 17, 2012

Baby Led Weaning-first foods

So many choices!  Where to begin when introducing foods?  Following Baby Led Weaning's advice, here's what I did:

                                                     ham from our friend's pig

Foods were introduced in no particular order.  In the beginning it was a bit more geared to baby, but now pretty much whatever we eat, Ace gets.  There is a caveat here: we mainly eat organic, local, or homemade foods which are just the type of ingredients I'd want Ace to be taking in.  It's not ideal all of the time- I've seen him slipped a french fry or two and last night we were all so tired that I let him nibble on some pizza- but in general, his food is pure and fresh.   I stayed away from some of the conventional no-nos like nuts, berries, and egg whites for the first month, but after that no limits were set on what he could have.   We have no allergies on either side of the family to these things, so I wasn't worried.  He still has not been given whole nuts, raw carrots, or raw apples due to the choking hazard.  I also toasted most breads in the beginning 2 weeks or so rather than give it to him soft.

I don't have much time today, but I do want to list some of the first foods my boys have had:
~cooked egg yolks, yogurt, wheatabix and rice cakes spread with cream cheese, bread dipped in soups, cucumber, roasted eggplant, banana, mango, steamed carrot and parsnip, steamed broccoli trees, oven baked sweet potato, avocado, pear, applesauce, hunks of steak or ham to suck on, rice balls: bits of leftover fruits rolled up with cooked rice, hummus...

I'll stop there for now, but basically the list is quite extensive and it can all depend on your baby's preferences.  You might also notice that a lot of the conventional first foods are there, but the difference is in the form that they are offered.

Remember that ham up there?  Well, I'm off to meet our friend's newest piglets- Bear is bedside himself excited about it!  Take care til we chat again.

May 15, 2012

Baby Led Weaning- Prep work

Bibs.  Definitely bibs for baby led weaning (blw) and I'm telling you, they will only be about 60% useful in the beginning. 

YET... once a baby gets the hang of blw he or she tends to be amazingly neat and tidy with their food from then on.  This turned out to be quite true for Bear: it's too early to tell with Ace- he's still imbedded in the messy stage!

Along with bibs, preparing for a blw eater is parallel to preparing for a more conventional way of introducing foods.  High chair, utensils, cup... all are used except that it is the baby, not the grown up, who is handling them (well alright, not the high chair).  As for signs of readiness, it is recommended to begin introducing solids @ 6 months or later and BLW advocates for the same timeline.  The reasonings are many, but one I highly favor is the data that shows a baby is much less likely to develop food allergies AFTER 6 months.

Here's where I admit Ace began at 5 1/2 months, so there is a bit of Mama's intuition involved in all of this!  He was wildly expressing an interest in foods and joining us at the table in the high chair.  We began by giving him his spoon, fork, and cup to explore.  Then came the mesh bag with a ripe pear, avocado, or banana in it.  Within days he had figured out how to suck the mesh dry and reality hit- he was ready. 

                            ok, so cute nieces can spoon feed him yogurt

If Ace had been a full 6 months I would have skipped the mesh entirely- it wasn't a safely measure that I did it for, but rather to give him a food experience while we ate.  Turns out he didn't want to play with his food, he seriously wanted to eat it.    

Up tomorrow: well, what exactly did he eat in the beginning?!

May 11, 2012

Baby Led Weaning- Prelude

                                                                    carrot face

I first came across the concept of "Baby Led Weaning" when Bear was beginning with foods.  At that time it was little known in the US but well accepted in Europe-especially Britain- and a book was about to be published on the subject.  I read the online UK forums about it and devoured (ha!) the book; baby led weaning was exactly what I was looking for.


Follow the links for full details but in a nutshell:

Baby Led Weaning means the child determines what to eat and how to eat it.  Babies are given properly proportioned (and cooked when need be) bits of food (this does not mean bite size!) and then they have at it.  They pick up what they want to eat and explore food with their hands. 


~baby led weaning is messy - but really only in the beginning until they get the hang of it
~baby led weaning does not use purees or mashing of foods
~baby led weaning is fascinating to see in action
~baby led weaning has been around forever under different names-now it is having a rebirth of sorts

                                                         pasta night

I can read your minds: but but they will choke for sure!  but they will never learn to eat properly! but but how will I know my baby is getting proper nutrition?! but my baby always takes huge bites so there's no way this will work for her...  
                                                    rice cake with cream cheese

Easy Now!  It's not complicated at all and your baby will amaze you.  Go and read up on it- do your research- and then decide for yourself.  Everyone is different but I personally love the concept and the science behind it: both my boys continue to grow up healthy and strong with glowing reports from the pediatrician every time.  What more could a Mama ask for? Especially a foodie Mama like me!  And so- for my family - baby led weaning is an important tool in early nutrition.

                                   first "sippy cup" aka shot glass

Come back next week for episode two on the Food Network- Baby Led Weaning Channel...

*by then I really hope my comma button will be back in action because this is getting old and dash marks just don't cut it. 

May 08, 2012

Night Owl in the garden

Since Saturday, the garden has slowly been waking up.  Truthfully, it's been a bit longer than that, but pulling out last year's leftovers (I disdain turning down beds in the Fall.  Just a quirk of mine.), pruning up some of the trees, and helping watching Champ add manure, compost and ash to the soil hardly counts in my book.

Now is the exciting part when the seeds and sprouts go in and the magic begins.  It's the time when, if I were a more organized gardener, I'd be taking planting notes and reviewing last year's garden journal entries.  However, the full "flower" moon has just passed and the hermit thrush are returning to the woods; that's as good a notebook entry as any for me.

Yesterday was to be the planting push for getting some hardy herbs, the remaining onions, escarole, spinach and a few cucumbers into the ground.  Oh it happened, but not during daylight hours- there were croquet rounds to be played and babies wiggling in the sunshine.  To the left of me, there was even a dog needing a sturdy pat or two.  In short, it was a busy day for this Mama.

Thankfully, the other gardening convention that I'm not too attached to is gardening by daylight.  Sure, sure that is the BETTER way to go, but when the inevitable occurs as it did yesterday, I don't mind finding myself in the garden while the moon is rising and the geese are beginning to settle down for the night.  It's a different kind of peace than I feel in the early morning hours of gardening: a winding down for the evening rather than an awakening to the day.

 (I do not yet have all the skills for taking night shots without a flash, but a girl's got to start learning...)

This morning my muscles are a bit sore and my eyes a bit bleary but I'm grinning from ear to ear.  The weather forecast is rain for the next three days and all my freshly planted seeds and sprouts are gonna love it.

*it seems my comma button decided to stop working midway through this post.  Maybe it is tired today too?
* quite clearly night gardening would not happen without the help of Champ.  You are the best XOXO!

May 05, 2012


 She would have been seventeen today.

17... can you believe it?

I do not tend to cling to calendar dates of memory, nor coffin plots for prayer, but just this once, on this raw reminder of a day, I allow myself a cry.  A shudder.  A deep wallowing.  It's my therapy; along with a piece of still warm bread, swathed in butter and chased by an ice cream toast to her life.

Oh Sterling Moss.

We moved to Vermont over 7 years ago, carting Sterling and her brother George along with us.  Life here was bound to be good, and it was.  It is.  But contentment is a hard skill to master and so we would jokingly (but not quite) say:
 "Well Sterling, when you die, we will start.  There will be chickens and a root cellar, maybe blueberry bushes down by the pines.  The picture of the goat in my wallet can turn from dream into reality and we will have row after row of beans and bees, our own Innisfree.  but not yet..." 

She never saw our comments as cruel; they weren't meant to be.  She was simply our time post for the future, a marker for life there, up ahead.

Presently,  books on chicken coops and duck raising surround me and plans to visit friends' farms and beehives are in order.  I should be thrilled, but what I hadn't considered when making these plans was that to get "there",  I was to leave Sterling behind.

Timing is everything and really, I know deep down that what was mean by those plans was a way to keep transition at bay.  Those early Vermont years we struggled to keep our day to day life afloat, salving the rough patches with our dreams of the future.  It had nothing to do with Sterling's timeline, but today it has everything to do with 
her memory.

In her final days, the kitchen counter looked like this:

recently I turned to that same counter, gave a lopsided smirk and snapped a picture

Oh, our life.  Balanced by gnawed off bunny ears and jars full of kefir, bean sprouts and who knows what else.  This is the now.  This is who we are as we begin "life there, up ahead", but how I wish her bottles were on the counter again, if only for one more day.

I miss you, girl.  Party hard today.  XOXOXO

May 03, 2012

finding our axis

Today was supposed to be a post about baby led weaning- Ace has been wanting so badly to share his experience with you, but oh hopefully healthy reader that is not the case today.

Instead these past few days have been "reentry" into my full life.  Ace, Trot and I returned to Vermont this Sunday after having been in Pennsylvania for the weekend (my brother-in-law's wedding happens so soon!!!!!).  Bear and Champ bonded as only males can while holding down the fort here and once we were all back in each others arms, we excitedly shared stories of the weekend.

That was then.  RIGHT NOW Champ is battling the stomach bug that currently lurks around every corner in his school and Ace is deep in the trenches of cutting teeth.  Poor souls.

And so, Bear and I locked ourselves in my craft room for a while.  We needed bonding time of our own after having been separated for a few days and he has been very vocal about how badly he needs a fairy costume.  Yes fairy~ so delightful and innocent.

 Our small friend (my small job)  wanted to be a part of the action too.  All 3 of us spent the better part of the afternoon in that craft room playing and exploring while the sewing machine hummed away to very explicit three year old instructions.

Pleased with the results, I was immediately hired to outfit bear in matching attire- the best compliment a seamstress could ask for.

One member of the family satiated, two more to go...

A big pot of chicken noodle soup is the end all cure all, correct?  This time around, I used left over chicken that had been coated with a scrumptious rub.

With a gulp, I defrosted a WHOLE GALLON BAG'S WORTH of strawberries from last year and drizzled it with maple syrup.  My sad two men are worth every berry and really, who am I kidding?  It's not like Bear and I won't devour them too.

In a show of sympathy, I even opened up Karen Solomon's book (yet again!) and tried out the graham cracker recipe.  It, like everything else I've made from that book, was delicious.

The only thing remaining for full recovery or tooth (whatever the case may be) is time and love.  Until then, I will remain by my family's side: nibbling on graham crackers, fixing cups of black tea just right and blissfully ignoring the world at large until my own mini world is back on it's proper axis.

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