Saturday, December 31, 2011

Letter to My Littles: December 2011/Year-End Wrap-Up

Ah, my darlings, where to begin? This has been a very full year, as you both changed and grown almost beyond recognition. It has been a very difficult year for me, as I have had to stretch and grow and grasp for my new balance as a mother of two. I would not undo either of you, but maybe I could choose one or two other things differently.. but if I did, I wouldn't be who I am now.

Me and my girls, 12/17/10

My Infanta: This month saw you perform in not one, but two Christmas concerts! I cried as I watched you march in with your preschool class, singing so proudly and.. enthusiastically. Your teacher tells me she loves having you in my class, and on the days you're more sweetheart than stinker, I understand why.

The Infanta, 12/30/11

Elessar: What can I say, you have lived all but the first two weeks of your life so far in this year. You're still too busy with other developments to have bothered with walking yet (tonight you were learning to say "button"!); besides, crawling does you just fine! You constantly astound me with the contrast between your caution and your bold curiosity; I've been seeing this play out recently, as we go places you don't know, and you intently observe your surroundings before striking out to fearlessly explore them. You love to play with toys as much as your sister was uninterested in them, and adore the basket I keep by my feet for you to unpack.

Elessar, 12/21/2011

I look forward to the coming year, and hope I'm up to the challenges it will bring!

I love you both.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Letter to my Littles, November 2011

To the Infanta: my darling girl, you are so very three and a half years old. At times you are sweet and loving, and the joy of my heart; at others you are as challenging and contrary as any teenager. You now regularly request tv episodes on Netflix by number as well as by content; this fills me with pride as well as chagrin.

Elessar: you are fast closing in on your first birthday, and I am staggered at how the time has flown. You adore popcorn, have several semi-words, and are right on track to walk at about the time your sister did. In fact, as regards walking, you have come to the point of coming to my knees, standing up with their support, turning, seizing my fingers for support, and taking off into the world, trusting that I will follow. With so much going on, small wonder that you're not sleeping well, and that while you love your Daddy greatly, it's me you want most for comfort.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I was just chatting with a friend about the need to write. She's the sort of person for whom writing is a much-needed creative outlet. She a good one, too; she writes thoughtful, lyrical blog posts, and often has me giggling at her tweets.

Me? Sometimes I need to write; sometimes I have something to say that needs to be said *just* right, in that polished way you can only get by writing and rewriting. Here's the thing tho: depression stops me.
When I was in college, I found that I had good ideas for papers, and good theses, but my execution sucked. I could actually feel the mental fog that blocked the way between my ideas and their manifestation. Nearly a decade later, on medication and pursuing lighter topics, I still have the fog. It's lighter now, and I can often make out the path between A and N, but..... I have allowed inertia to prevail, and I turn my creative energy to outlets like knitting.

Depression still affects my knitting, any glance at my mess of half-finished projects will reveal that, but it doesn't matter as much. These projects will wait patiently for me to return to them. This is not to say that writing won't, but when it comes to blogging, I feel the pressure of all the posts I haven't written, all the (probably imagined) reader expectations I haven't fulfilled, and it stops me dead. So I knit, and sometimes sew, and mostly don't blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Letters to My Littles: August 2011

Inspired by TouchstoneZ, I'm writing to my babies about what I've seen in them this month.

My darling Infanta: I think my mother must have wished me children just like me, because you are. At 3 years, 3 months old you are sweet, funny, smart, infuriating, contrary, a joy, and a pain in the tookus. I love how you have begun to play imagination games - taking your toys and assigning the names of people you love as you act out everyday happenings. I also love how you insist on doing the things we as your parents do - wanting your backpack in the trunk of the car with ours, or watching out for what your sister is doing. As Daddy goes back to work for the school year, you and I are beginning to renegotiate how we interact - you were so attached to him this summer that I barely saw you! Part of me welcomes the chance to reconnect, but more of me dreads the challenge; we will muddle through as always, I'm sure. :)

Elessar: you are 8.5 months old, and my playful, happy baby. "They" say you're not supposed to compare your children, but really, it's human nature. The Infanta has always been a happy kid, but your smiles make her look almost glum! You're also very interested in toys, and will happily unpack my handbasket time and again. You love solid food, and if you're in the mood, will protest my eating or drinking something and not sharing quite vocally! You are also bound and determined to get moving as soon as possible; while you've been crawling for almost two months now, you're not satisfied with that, and practice standing and even taking steps whenever possible. As I nursed you back to sleep in the middle of the night, I held you in my arms and realized how big you've gotten, wondering where my little baby went. You're so very eager to be a big kid like your sister, but please, can you stay a baby just a little longer?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


So, my good friend Stephania and I did something extremely cool. If you're a knitter, you're probably aware that Sock Summit is coming up... and if yo're aware of Sock Summit, you probably know about Fleece to Foot and the accompanying Design for Glory.

I was whining one afternoon about a test-knit I was working on; next thing I knew, I had Steph saying, "We should enter Design For Glory. I'm thinking a steampunk theme." And.. a few days later (amid pencil smears, crisped brain cells, dirty diapers, and "helpful" toddlers) we had an entry. Lace, gears, sprockets, a ruffle.. bits you might find in a mad knitter's workbasket.

The pattern will be available soon; no promises, but we're hoping for either at Sock Summit or soon after.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Slow Cooker Chili

This is a staple meal at our house - I make it at least once a month, and it's seldom that I don't have any stashed in the freezer. Since this is more of a technique than a precise recipe, there are few exact measurements, but I come up with about the same amount every time. My slow cooker holds (I believe) 7 quarts; you could easily halve everything for a smaller model. Because it takes a couple of days, it does require some advance planning.. but every time I make it, I feel like I've spent no effort on cooking a hearty dish that will feed us for several meals. It's also very easily adapted to specific dietary requirements: for example, it's entirely gluten free, and both vegan and fat-free until (unless) you put meat in.

48 hours before mealtime:

Soak two cups pinto beans in about 4 cups water with a tablespoon or so of baking soda. I like to do this part while making dinner, or just before bedtime.

24 hours in advance:

Drain the beans. Place them with 8c water in a large slow cooker on low. Add about a tablespoon each of chili powder and ground cumin. I also add one chipotle at this point; we're wimpy when it comes to heat.* Naturally, esteemed reader, you'll have different spice/flavor preferences. Also stir in one chopped large onion and a handful (6-8 cloves) of chopped garlic. Cover and go about your business. Again, I generally do this right before bedtime, with a plan of chili for dinner the next day.

Next morning:

Give the beans a stir. Add about a tablespoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Add crushed tomatoes: I get best results with about a quart (often a 29 ounce can), but have also used lesser amounts successfully. Obviously, more tomatoes means more added liquid; take that into account. I think I managed to burn (yes, in a crock pot!) my earliest attempt at this because of inadequate liquid. If I'm using it, I add a pound of browned meat at this point as well.** This timing assumes you're making this for dinner; it's around 12 hours after the beans are started.

A few hours before serving:

Crush and stir in a double handful of tortilla chips (I've used corn Chex in a pinch). If after a bit it's still more liquid than you prefer, add some more chips. Adjust your seasonings, and eat when you're ready!

We like to serve this with cheese and sour cream, and to eat it with chips or rice.

This is a very flexible recipe; many of the cooking times are much longer than they absolutely need to be, so you could do it in less time. This is how I've worked it into my routine, experiment and see how it works into yours!

Many thanks to my friend Helen who posted the version I adapted this from.

*When I open a can of chipotles, I freeze the lot individually in an ice cube tray, each with a little sauce. Very handy!

**We like stew beef the best, but I often use ground beef. I've also tried ground chicken. Ground turkey or pork would work as well. Or be a rebel and don't use any - it's just as good!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Saw that coming..

I'm glad I went into the whole flats challenge know I'd need an out, because I woke up this morning into what in retrospect seems to have been a huge anxiety attack. I was shaking, so touched-out I couldn't bear my own touch.. Bless my SIL Anna for coming and taking the Infanta off my hands for the afternoon. I was able to calm down, even nap for a couple of hours.. but no way was I going to be able to cloth diaper today.

Tomorrow's a fresh chance, right?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Knock Me Flat

I love using cloth diapers, but I lost my momentum with using them eighteen months ago; the Infanta has been primarily in disposable diapers since then. Elessar has also been in mostly 'sposies since she was born.. I make sporadic efforts to switch to cloth, but since it mostly ends up being an extra layer of stress that triggers my PPD*, I've been purposefully letting it go.

But I keep looking for inspiration to get back to my cloth. One of my Twitter mamas started talking a couple days ago about the Flats Challenge and it sounded interesting, so I checked it out and I'm in! Back when the Infanta was born we purchased a package of flats; they languished unused in a drawer until Elessar proved to be a spitty baby, and we needed burp cloths stat. I also have assorted receiving blankets that will work well, too.

Because of my PPD*, I'm going to modify my participation some (and therefore won't be linking myself to the challenge directly - they seem pretty all-or-nothing). 1) I'll be machine washing. 2) I will use 'sposies (or other diapers) as needed - at night, or if I just need to go for the "easy" route.

*I say "PPD" (post-partum depression), but I mean "PPMD" (post-partum mood disorder) because I have a lot of anxiety, too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Infant care

"I nursing!"

Inspired by the daily actions around her, the Infanta has been practicing her infant care skills. If she chooses to have children, she'll know how to take care of them!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Nature Walk!

The Infanta spent most of yesterday begging to go on a nature walk. She even buckled her kiddie leash on over her nightie and started trying to drag me out the door while I was still in my own jammies! We didn't get out the door yesterday (partly because it was distinctly damp out), but I was determined to go today. Fortunately, while overcast, it wasn't actually wet, and since we had a rough start to the morning I wanted to do something to get us all happier.

Enter the Salem Audubon Preserve. It's about half a mile away from us, just past our local park, and I've been meaning to visit it for, oh three years now.. and just got there today. It's gorgeous, and we'll be going back soon!

We stopped at the store after we left the preserve, and since we passed it on the way home, the park. Happily I managed to keep the Infanta to 5 trips down the slide, so we could get home and eat lunch.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Because you need a naked baby.

17 weeks

I haven't been posting anywhere near as much as I'd like because I've been wrestling with postpartum depression enhanced by the Infanta's continuing threenager neediness and Elessar's normal infant neediness. But Elessar is a happy, chunky baby, and you all deserve a dose of her cuteness to brighten your days too. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011


I envy moms who find the time to post frequently with more than one small child. Maybe it's me, maybe it's my particular kids; most likely it's a combination (I never have been great at regular posting).

Elessar has been a challenge, and I'm convinced she's made it her mission in life to make sure I know she's a different person from her sister. After a couple of weeks of hours of screaming, we figured out that she's sensitive to dairy. So I've had to give up my beloved cheese... Fortunately I can still have butter and goat cheese, so I'm not entirely bereft, but it's not been easy to revamp my menu to be dairy-free. Elessar is now a very happy baby, but we're in deep trouble - she rolled over at 4 weeks, and at 2 months she's been working hard on crawling for a couple of weeks now. I would not be surprised if she crawls before 6 months.

The Infanta has been very needy as well. She hasn't turned any anger against her sister (yet), but she's definitely in the fast lane to becoming a "threenager", alternating classic toddler tantrums with intense Mama-need and utter sweetness.

Between the two - Elessar with complete physical dependence and the Infanta with major emotional neediness - I'm stretched to my limit. Fortunately I do have a good outlet with my knitting group (I go to every session for my mental health!), and I have an AMAZING support network and community of friends both near and far. I had a very bad night a few days ago, and posted a call for help on Facebook; by morning an acquaintance was at my house, washing every dish in my kitchen, and calls and messages of support are still rolling in! I'm convinced this is part of what it means that "it takes a village to raise a child" - when they're this small, mothers need community help just to function as much as the children need to learn from others when they're older.