Tuesday, July 26, 2011

i wear my baby!

You heard me.

I believe the proper term is in fact, "babywearing". For those of you not in the know, this would refer to the implementation of a worn sling, mei tei, backpack or wrap, in which to carry your baby.

When I was pregnant with Otto, I was very drawn to babywearing, right from the beginning. With Emma, I was not in the least bit interested. I would guess this was because it wasn't very mainstream, and there just weren't many options back then. But go into any upscale baby boutique these days, and you will undoubtedly find an amazing array of beautiful (and expensive) baby carriers. It is becoming somewhat of a trend, I suppose. But a positive trend, nonetheless. When Emma was a baby, there was the Baby Bjorn, in all it's navy blue glory, and that was it.

While pregnant with Otto, I had planned a special visit to my favourite diaper shop, A Child's Garden (Northampton, Massachusetts), specifically to try out different baby carriers. I tried on two varieties: a mei tei and then a ring sling. With a fake little weighted baby loaded in, it was clear to me right away that I was a sling girl. It was so simple: one very long, single layer of fine Irish linen, with two aluminum rings anchored at one end. I fell in love with this sling instantly! I was amazed at how it made my fake little weighted baby feel so secure to me, that we seemed to have meshed into one single mobile unit. Wow! Just imagine what it would do for me and my real baby!

And so I sprung the $90 and went home with a Sakura Bloom Pure Linen, in Storm.
And then I practiced. For weeks I practiced how I would load the real baby into this contraption.
And then I practiced how I would take him out.

Hiking with Darren and Otto at 2 weeks old
Needless to say, I was nervous about using the sling with real life Otto. I waited until he was about two weeks old before I actually got him into it. And I will admit that for about the first month, I fumbled with that sling like the complete amateur that I was. With two rings, and these insanely long fabric edges they call "rails". . .I didn't know what to pull and what to tug. But I kept at it. And before long, the sling became an integral part of daily business with Otto. I don't think I even used our stroller until he was at least three months old. Everywhere we went, he was cradled into my sling; walks with Dottie, doctor's visits, the market, hikes, dinner parties. . .you name it! I would even make dinner or do light housekeeping with Otto nestled in. Snuggled in his storm coloured pod, my little pea was as content as could be.

Beach vacation with Otto at 9 months old
Ten months later... I am proud to say, I am a babywearing expert! The sling is a staple in our life, and we rarely leave home without it. Weighing in at over 26 lbs., Otto has graduated from the peapod reclining position to the upright hip carry (his feet dangle free, and he now gets a really good look at the world and at me). Admittedly, with a monkey this size hanging off of you, it's nearly impossible to make a dinner. But the sling does still afford me the hands-free liberty to do something as simple as grocery shop, without being bogged down. And I don't have to worry about what he's doing, since he's right under my nose.

Most importantly, I feel there is an inherent security that comes with this snug physical bond between a mama and her baby. I know that Otto instantly calms when I tighten the fabric through the rings, and he is gently pressed close to me. Perhaps he is reminded of his infant days, reclined in the sling, being lulled to sleep by the pounding movement of my step and the steady rhythm of my breath. Whatever the case may be, Otto and I are crazy about our sling. And it carries up to 35 lbs! So, while Otto is by no means a lightweight, I do believe we will see him hanging out in the sling, for many, many days to come.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Kitchen Makeover: Phase 1

Well, we started another project in our house.
. . . or should I say "I" started another project in our house?

The kitchen's 1950's charm was beginning to fade for me. And fade fast. And, probably more importantly, it was increasingly more evident that our kitchen was the farthest from baby-safe/baby-proof that you could possibly get. So, a makeover of the kitchen seemed completely justified.

"Hmmm.. . . since we'll be taking down the kitchen's peach and green floral wallpaper, why not take down the wallpaper going down the hallway too? And we might as well just pull down the paper in the bathroom while we're at it!"  And so it began. A tiny task of baby-proofing the kitchen has turned into a full on, three-room makeover.

I'm pretty sure the members of my family are less than thrilled with me. Some less thrilled than others. (Hi, Honey!!!) After all, we have a lot going on right now. In addition to planning Emma's 14th birthday bash for next weekend, we are also in the throws of negotiations for a new car to replace my 10 year old Saturn. And let's not forget everyone's favourite 10-month-old. Mr. Otto Riot is certainly living up to his name these days! Mobile beyond belief, he is crawling, scooting, creeping and getting his little hands into everything and anything! The boy can hardly be contained.

I mean really, what better time to tear apart the house?

I know this project will go by quickly, and in the end, we will all be happy for the change. We are doing it in small phases so the tasks are more manageable (in case you hadn't noticed, I am quite the fan of phasing a project). But in the meantime, we are all . . .well, we are all suffering. So I don't know that I will be photographing the project's progress. I do believe I will be satisfied to record these improvements via simple "Before" and "After" photographs. So for now, this one is Top Secret!

I CAN tell you this. The new kitchen wall colour is a lovely "Ripe Pear" above a white chair rail, with a little number they like to call "Little Sprout" below. As I am sitting here at the kitchen table, basking in the glow of Coat #1, I am totally thrilled with "Ripe Pear"! It is a muted, soft lime colour. Bright, yet smooth at the same time. Not jarring, but not too dingy either. Quite perfect! However, "Little Sprout". . . is leaving something to be desired. I am afraid it's pale green has too much blue in it, and it is not pairing well with it's yellow-hued counterpart.

It is getting late, and I will be turning in as soon as I post this. Tomorrow is a new day, and with fresh eyes I will look upon these walls. I am hoping the two colours will make peace over the night and I will awake to a harmonious pairing that will require NO alterations, modifications or "do-overs". For if I even start moving in that direction, I truly fear what my family would do to me. (Hi, Honey!!!)

So Goodnight paintbrushes. Goodnight rollers. Goodnight dropcloths. Goodnight tape.  Goodnight walls.

Until tomorrow.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Yesterday, I lost a close friend to cancer.

It just doesn't seem real.  In my mind, I still see her as alive as can be, before she even became sick. She is standing outside my office building on a summer afternoon, wide-eyed and smiling, waving to me. We are headed out to grab a quick coffee on our lunch break. 

That was four years ago.

In her last month or so, I saw the disease change her in ways I had not expected. But I am amazed that the spark that made her who she was, shone steady through the darkness that would ultimately overrun her body. Admittedly, I am a skeptic when it comes to matters of faith and spiritualism. However, I am convinced that this spark, which I was fortunate enough to have witnessed first hand, was in fact her awesome spirit.  

My mantra the past two days, has been reduced to three words: Life's not fair. At moments, I get glimpses of enlightenment in which I am able to see that death is not evil, it is simply a natural part of life. But these moments are fleeting, and more often than not, I am just muttering my three-word mantra inside my head. And then there have been those times when my heart races and I can hardly catch my breath. I am in a panic over the thought of never seeing her again. And I quickly put my mind on something else, for this notion is just too much to bear. 

None of this makes sense to me right now. I don't know if it ever will. No matter how much time you have to prepare, or to accept. . . something like this still hits you like a ton of bricks.

As a person with little faith in an afterlife, I doubt my friend can hear my words now. But if she could, I would thank her for all she has taught me while she was here. She showed me what it means to live selflessly, and how to put others before yourself. She taught me how to cast aside silly inhibitions and to live for the moment. And she showed me what it means to bend and not break. Through the example of her own life, she made all of this look so incredibly easy. But these are lessons I am still learning, and I shall continue to look to her for guidance, wherever she might be.

I don't know what else to say. 
My friend is gone.
My friend with the most incredible spirit you have ever seen, has left this world. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Kitchen Garden: Photo Journal

Summer is in full swing here in Connecticut, and so is our Kitchen Garden! We were actually away on vacation last week, and when we came home, I was surprised at how much the garden grew up and out, and all over the place. It's amazing what a full-sun spot in your yard, lots of water, a bit of affection and a touch of humidity can do.

Since I have been remiss in posting updates on our garden's status, I will provide a mini photo journal to chronicle the garden's progress from the last time I posted on it, back in mid June, right up to today. . . enjoy!

Lemon Balm tends to be an invasive creeper.
We planted ours in a buried pot to help keep it in check.
The plant really took off right away, and looks great.
I plan to steep the leaves and make a lemony iced tea.

Street view of the garden in it's early stages.
Looking orderly and quite nice.
Plenty of zucchini plants right up front, which
will grow quite large, providing a nice screen to the street.

Red Radishes popping up their little green heads!
Started with seeds, these were a later addition
planted to fill up some vacant space in the
perennial herb garden. And besides...
who doesn't love red radishes??

The fragrance of this Curry Plant is rich,
and very similar to cooking curry. However,
it was disappointing to find out this herb
is not edible. 

One of the first flowers on the Pole Bean Plant.
The Pole Beans seemed to lag behind the Bush Beans a bit.

The Bush Bean plants produced babies around the same time
the first flower showed up on the Pole Bean Plants.

First Tomatoes to show up. . . Japanese Black Trifele.
I've never tasted one of these, and I can not wait for them
to be ready!

A teeny tiny Baby Pole Bean on the vine.
(And one that did not make it, lays shriveled nearby.)

Otto fast asleep, while the bumble bee
is hard at work pollinating our garden. 

Our very first harvest: a kale leaf and three string beans 

More tomatoes now coming in, full force.
These are the Pineapple Beefsteak. As the name
implies, these are a sweet, heirloom variety. I am excited
to try this in a salsa, prepared with our own tomatillos!
(Which, incidentally, is producing tons of husks! No photos
at this time, but my fingers are crossed that the fruit will start
growing within all those paper husks very soon.)

Our first sign of a cucumber showed up yesterday.
Awww...isn't it just darling?!

The Nasturtium took a long time to bloom,
but finally blossomed with a vibrant poppy colour

And **SURPRISE**!!
About three Zucchini showed up out of nowhere today!
Hard to believe that yesterday, there was only a blossom
where the shiny new fruit now reside.