July 31, 2012

baby led weaning- 9 months

Ace just had his 9 month check-up and he passed with flying colors.  His height and weight and all that good stuff are truckin' along fabulously, so I thought it would be an appropriate moment to check in with you about our baby led weaning progress. 

News Flash: the child still likes to eat

This is the stage in the Baby Led Weaning process where things really start rolling.  He knows how to handle his food, he understands when the family is gathering around the table that food will be passed out and he wants in, and he can eat just about anything at this point.  Corn on the cob is a big favorite right now- perhaps because it's a good gum massage as well as food.

Those teeth are coming: two on the bottom and two on the top with two more about to fully arrive by the end of the week.  His body seems to like working in even numbers.  Baby led weaning for us began before he had teeth, but the arrival of his pearly whites has definitely upped his food eating abilities.  We can even give him whole loaves of bread now...

or not.  He does enjoy bread though and sometimes for lunch he will have his own mini version of a sandwich.  Some of my go-to fillings are hummus, guacamole or peanut butter and homemade jelly.  Yes I said peanut butter.  Nuts (except in whole form) are widely accepted and encouraged as a good source of protein in baby led weaning and as we don't have any allergies in the family, Ace has enjoyed his fair share of peanut, almond and 
cashew butters.

He eats all variations of fruits and vegetables now that the season is plentiful with them.  Sometimes if the veggies are difficult to handle I will mix them up with a "carrier" like rice or noodles to help get it in his mouth.

See the bits of kale on his hands?  I had made us udon noodles with sauteed kale, summer squash and onions for lunch.  He had chowed on most of it before I had the bright idea to take this picture, but you get the idea- the kale was all chopped up and the noodles helped ensure that some made it into his belly.  Same went for me!

He's getting handier with his shot glasses of water or smoothies, but that will take some time.  He needs to be hosed down after some meals, but I can usually predict which ones.  On the flip side, I know which foods he can eat easily and with little mess so those are the ones I usually pack if we will be out and about.

He still eats a large a large amount of his meals in his high chair, but when we have time we practice eating at his weaning table- usually OUTSIDE.  A "weaning table" sounds all fancy and it can be, but ours is a makeshift bench and a small chair.  The breakfast of eggs he is eating just tastes better when sitting independently at a table.

That's it until our next food journey update.
Questions?  Do ask!   

July 27, 2012

The Clambake

The clambake:

a tradition in my family that's been around as long as I can remember (our roots trace back to the Mayflower for heaven sake!); the type of event which causes all participants to feel a little extra special, a little bit giddy about his or her shared role in such a major event.  Your steps fall sure and proud on the way to a clambake for you know you are about to be a part of a greater something.

And you are 
just as assuredly as you are expected to physically be a part of that something.  You will work for you clambake supper and you will love every second of it.  For example, my Mom enjoyed her assigned job- "hold Ace so that I can take pictures".

Now this year, there were quite a bunch of children- like cousin C right here who is prepared and confident to take this clambake gig in to future generations.

  His brother, cousin I, plans to help as he sees fit (ooooh it was so good to finally meet them!!!!!!)...

Holding cousin I is my Auntie J.  She already knows how to throw a wicked clambake no matter where she lives, but this year she topped herself by hiring entertainment- for the young and young at heart...

which is also why my Mom had to hold the baby, although Cousin K was more than happy to share that duty...

MMMM, I love my family!!  Champ tended the fire and had it all kinds of hot when the cages were ready to be put in.  Have you ever been to a clambake?  Just follow along...

The cages are filled with seaweed, lobster, corn, and clams.

The cages are then brought to the specially dug pit where they are covered with all manners of hot things, covered with a tarp, and then again covered with dirt.

MORE food is put on the grill, goofy cousin photos are taken, and family history is reviewed.  The steam starts to rise from the pit and my Uncle R and my Dad nod in agreement- it's time.

 The tarp is removed, cages brought up, clambake poured out. 

We feast and graze, fest and laugh long after the tree frogs have announced twilight because there is nothing else in the world like a clambake, and there are not enough hours in the day to spend with those we love.

July 26, 2012

On the Road

To pack up only our most necessary possessions, gather up all family members and tumble into the car for a road trip is a favorite pass-time of mine.  It's not an all together common pass-time, but when the stars align with the gas tank full and winking like a conspirator, you can be sure my family and I have hit the road.


The notion of getting to Virginia- via stopover in Pennsylvania- made the summer air heady with excitement.  Bear has been a road baby since birth and we are raising Ace along those same yellow lines: we are most certainly of the "why fly when you can drive" camp as solidly as Republicans or Democrats follow their party 
lines (except- ours-are-dashed) 

           wait 'til you see all the yumminess this bad boy held

I anticipate road trips in the same way I anticipated each child's birth.  We found out their gender ahead of time- EXCITING!- I birthed each child knowing already that each would be a boy- ALSO EXCITING!   And so our recent trip was just that: driving down South to see family we haven't seen for 4 years could have been enticing enough, but the journey, oh the journey to get there held it's own charm.

Sampling local harvests from other states and diving down to an underground tunnel. 

 Scanning the steady beat of rain for monuments and new states.


Freely ignoring the local produce and eating according to our epic Southern doctrine- aka living off fast food memories- all the while marveling at a Virginian tree whose fruit is only tasty after the first frost.  Would it thrive if it became a Vermont resident?  If the easy adjustment I had to this humid, sultry accented state is any clue, then my answer would be perhaps quite easily. 

Oh the wonder that only family extended family can provide with their welcoming embraces and stories to tell whose plot involves us all.  All of this, and the clambake had barely begun...

July 23, 2012

Grunting our way back home

And a happy Monday morning to all of you!  As you read this, I am headed on the long journey home from Virginia.  We spent a much too short (I'm sure of that no matter if I'm typing about future events) weekend catching up with all sorts of family.  To be specific, family from my Dad's side: New Englanders- yes, now transplanted south- who still know how to throw a wicked clambake (of this I am also sure).  Give me time to get some laundry washed and welcome Champ's family in for a few days and then I will tell you all about it.  For now, thinking of my cousins and Uncle and Auntie remind me of all things New England... including blueberries.

I finally allowed us to crack into the last bag of frozen blueberries as it is chanterelle mushroom season and blueberries are sure to follow close behind.

Blueberry Grunt 
1 1/4 C water
3/4 C sugar
2T cornstarch
juice of one lemon 
3 C blueberries

dumplings (combine all ingredients together):
1 1/2 C flour
3.5t baking powder
1/2t salt
2t sugar
3/4C milk

~combine water, sugar cornstarch and lemon juice in a pot.  Bring to a boil, stir to keep smooth, cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Add berries and cook uncovered 2 minutes more.  Make up dumpling batter and drop spoonfuls of it onto warmed berry mixture.  Cover and simmer- without peeking- for 12 minutes.  To serve, place dumpling in a dish, cover with a scoop of blueberry mixture and a spoonful of homemade whipped cream. (from "Famous New England Recipes" -Dolores Riccio)

field notes: this is a delicious recipe!  Mix it up a little- I sometimes use lime juice, or spelt flour, or honey in place of the sugar.  If using frozen blueberries add in another 1/2t or so of cornstarch or arrowroot.

July 19, 2012

Skatepark Redux

It's been a week that shocks my system.  Normal routines of company arriving, company exiting I can manageClearing up the aftermath of all that company and cleaning for more to arrive isn't quite as fun, but doable, especially balanced with the happy thought that we will be visiting family in Virginia in just a matter of days.

What gets me, what jars my core is that this week we are right back where we left off last year.  I feel like I am in a time machine with my heart tearing just a bit, watching my little boy begin to grow up.

It is Bear's second season of Bible camp; he showed no apprehension this time around.  Cloudily, I find myself rubbing the kissing hand heart he drew on my palm and wondering how it is he will be starting preschool in the fall.

This weekend we had our standard issue trip to the skate park after church; it's the same park where Bear learned to ride his Strider.
Now he uses a full on pedal bike and peers up at the biggest of ramps with a mirthful grin on his lips.  He can barely climb up some of them, but he sees no hindrance in that. 

He is brave, and strong, and true.

He is determined in all he does-

this I celebrate while another wee bit of my heart is torn.  The heart is a muscle though, thus it can stretch.  Making room, stretching in to the future seems a better path to take and I will work on it.  There are others waiting to benefit from it.

July 17, 2012

homemade laundry softener joins the pack

You have seen this gig before.  I tend to create it every few months depending on what cleaning supplies I have run out of.  This time around though, there is something new, something exciting, something extra wonderfully scented...

Homemade Fabric Softener!!! yay!  Fabric softener is such a touchy (ha, get it?!)subject for me: I do love it on clothes, but I do not love the ingredient list on most bottles.  Also?  I DO NOT LOVE the price tag on the bottles with A-ok ingredients.

 My days of putting much thought into my softener are over though, because I discovered a perfect recipe for a homemade fabric softener .  The first time around I stuck verbatim to the directions, but since then I've been branching out, trying different hair conditioners and essential oils to add to the mix.  With it costing so very little to whip up a bottle, I'm all for working to perfect my "recipe" before the static and dryness of winter arrive.
As for the weekend:

                            true to prediction, the lake waters were perfect

                                we relaxed in our NEWEST space in the house

    and I got to have quality bonding time with my NEWEST cousin

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