so many territories ready to reform

I really should not be updating - I have a million things to do.
Realizing that Sean and Ben were about to leave, and that we would be departing to the southeast for the holidays, on Tuesday I planned a spur-of-the-moment get together for Friday night - that's tonight! It's a potluck, chez moi, with a theme of winter foods. I invited 11 people. So far I know we have a vegetarian shepard's pie, a brussels sprouts dish, some other side dishes, one including potatoes I think, and I'm making bread pudding for dessert. Blake's bringing local eggnog and some rum to go with it, and Mimi and Gen are bringing red wine. We may or may not mull it. I turned a baguette into crostini slices yesterday, and whipped up a tapenade. Today I'll bring some herbed goat cheese to room temperature and mix in some dried cranberries, and voila - we'll have two crostini toppings.
I still have to vacuum the living room, sweep the kitchen floor, and scrub the toilet. It's not that I need to impress my friends with cleanliness, rather, I don't want to impress them with how dirty this place usually is. I have a reputation to maintain, see. As someone who's on top of things - i.e. the cleaning of my own place. You could say I'm pretty excited about this - it'll be the first intentional shindig at our place in Missouri. Back in Georgia I loved throwing or just planning get togethers. I love events, I love having great people gathered together with food and drink and music and lights. All that stuff just feeds me.
I'll try to remember to snap some photos tonight so I can show all you lovely people how the event turned out.

Last night I made biscotti. Lenox Almond Biscotti, a recipe by dear Dorie Greenspan, to be exact. I made it for Christmas presents - we'll give a bundle of biscotti alongside a pound of Starbucks Christmas Blend to a few couples - my mom and her husband, Scott's mom and her husband, Scott's sister and her husband, and my Aunt and Uncle, whose names we drew this year.
I'll post the recipe if anyone is interested, but otherwise, it's in Dorie's book "Baking" - the book which is quickly turning into my baking Bible. I have to admit - this is not the best biscotti I've ever made. One time I made a dark chocolate biscotti with slivered almonds and dried cherries and well, that was to die for. But almond is nice, too. Something different - this recipe had some cornmeal in it, which made the biscotti less sweet and more crumbly. I think I like it.

It's official - Bon Iver's "For Emma, Forever Ago" is the album of the winter. I can't get enough of it, and every time I'm not playing it, I'm hearing it played upstairs by the boys. It's good, it's so good.


tall tales, telltales

Make these now. Go ahead, do it. You won't be sorry.

Pistachio-Rose Water Cookies
makes about 34 cookies
(adapted from Veganomicon)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 c canola oil
3 Tbs soy milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1 Tbs rose water
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
juice from half a lime
zest from 1 lime
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 c shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped (set aside in a shallow bowl or a on plate)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange shelves to divide oven into thirds.
Grease/line two cookie sheets.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom.
In a large bowl, using your fingers, rub the lime zest into the sugar. This really brings out the aroma and flavor of the zest. Whisk in the lime juice, soy milk, vanilla, oil and rose water. Add the cornstarch and whisk until dissolved.
Isn't this fun?
Add the dry to the wet gradually, mixing well.
Roll the dough into balls about 2 tsp in size and dip the tops into the chopped pistachios. Press down a bit, so the dough ball flattens and collects nuts.
Place the cookies, nut side up, on the cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. You should be able to fit 16 on a standard size cookie sheet.
Bake for 13 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes.
When you take them out, they will still be soft. Place the sheets on cooling racks for 5 minutes, then transfer just the cookies to the cooling racks to continue cooling.

Okay, let's talk about this recipe. Or even the book. I checked this book out (Veganomicon, by sassy vegan ladies Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero) from the library and have been reading through it for four or five weeks. Yes, the book is overdue. I couldn't find one single recipe in this book that intrigued me enough to want to make it. I thought some of the combinations were too weird, or not weird enough. Just my opinion - I generally love the books by these authors, so maybe I'm just too familiar with their recipes already. Either way, nothing was catching my eye. But I was determined to at least make one recipe from the book, so when I spotted rose water at my grocery store, I snagged it and committed to this cookie recipe. Let me tell you, it has restored my faith in this book. I'm ready to re-read it with fresh eyes.
Cooking with so much corn starch was new for me, and I felt a bit like a mad scientist instead of a baker. I'm not sure what the cornstarch stood in for, but since it is a vegan recipe, I'm sure there's a good reason it's in there. I enjoy vegan recipes that use alternative items instead of stand-ins such as "vegan butter" or "egg replacer". I'd rather the cook just forget that route altogether and do something different. So this recipe, free of weird vegan things meant to taste like the real thing, was perfect for me. The only stand-in is soy milk, and because I accept that more readily than, say, egg replacer, I went with it.
Good thing, because these cookies are incredible. I'm already planning on making another batch on Saturday.

Then there's this. Bread pudding.

I took that picture right before I popped it into the oven. It turned out really well. Very delicious. Also a vegan recipe, so no eggs. Which means no custard, and I've never had bread pudding that didn't have custard in it, so I was curious as to how this would turn out. The soy milk mixture did not set like a custard would, but it did it's job pretty well of soaking and flavoring the bread. I think next time I'll just make regular bread pudding. This recipe, however, is easier, because you just whisk it all together. No scalding milk, no water baths.
I occasionally enjoy a fussy recipe, but most of the time I just love simple baking.

Bread Pudding
5 or 6 cups of stale bread, chopped into chunks
3 1/2 cups soy milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Toss in the bread cubes.
Whisk all other ingredients, pour over bread cubes.
Use a utensil (or your fingers) to push the bread down, making sure it all gets wet.
Throw on some raisins and almonds, or what have you. Drizzle the top with a touch of maple syrup.
Bake 40 minutes, until the bread is toasted in some parts and the pudding is set.


did i say you are my favorite one

Today there are fragments of stories floating around in my mind. I remember characters, or simply and beautifully worded sentences, and I struggle to recall what novel, which short story, whose poem I'm being haunted by. There's one story in particular that is on my mind, but I can't for the life of me remember where I read it, or even if it was a short story or a novel. I think it was a short story, but I constantly read volumes of collected works, and anthologies, so I don't even know where to begin looking. It was probably from a library book that's already returned. Oh, well, if the characters are still with me I suppose it doesn't really matter where they came from, but that the author did such a good job of portraying these characters that they now reside within me.

It's been a rough week. Scott has been more busy than usual (hard to imagine, I know) and the baby has been fussy all week. I don't know if it's from his shots earlier this week, if he's maybe having a growth spurt, if he's beginning to teethe, or something else altogether. Today Mimi and Gen came over, and I practically threw him at them. I just needed a break. He needed my arms all day - I couldn't put him down for long, but he was fussy when I would try to feed him, and this went on all day. Bless his little angel heart, he has no other way to tell me what he's feeling besides crying and fussing, and that's exactly what he did.

Here's my men. Scott, Finn, Rufus.

So once I finally, finally got Finn to sleep, I poured a glass of wine and began baking. I made cookies for Mimi and Gen, because they have tons of schoolwork and are feeling bogged down. I took stock of what I had in the pantry, and turned to Dorie Greenspan for some inspiration. As per usual, she had just the thing. Here's my adaptation.

Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
makes 30 cookies, give or take
1 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c (packed) light brown sugar
1 egg
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 F. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
In a large bowl beat the butter, peanut butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and beat for another minute. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing at a low speed, beating only until blended. Mix in the chocolate chunks.
Drop by the TBS onto the sheets, 2 inches apart.
Bake 13-15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 6 or 7 minutes.

Somehow these turned out both crispy and chewy, how delightful.
Oh, and while I baked I had to eat two pieces of pumpkin pie. Yes, you read that right - I had to. I mean, it was still in the fridge after nearly a week of me telling Scott those two pieces were his! He snoozes, he loses. Actually, he doesn't lose, because even if he came home wanting that pie (though I'm sure he's completely forgotten about it) instead he could have popcorn balls, or whoopie pies, or these cookies. This house is abundant with sweets.
Scott also fixed the vacuum cleaner today, which made me swoon. I had no idea how to fix it - it wasn't sucking (haha, also, it sucked that it wasn't sucking). So Scott just took the panel off the bottom, pulled out the brush, cleaned out the hose, etc. until it worked again. We're dreaming of a Dyson. Good thing it's only $600. Hah.


up on the rooftop, click click click

We got the tree up. And by we I don't mean my husband and myself. He carried it from the car to the house, and he was the one to drive us to go get it in the snow, but he didn't help put it up. My friends and I put it up, and adjusted it, and strung lights on it. We would have hung ornaments but I have to get some of those hook things first. I hung old antique ornaments from the mantle, and put up some things for decoration. We won't be here Christmas day, but at least we can enjoy the decorations the rest of the month.

I admit, I've felt resentful this week as Scott's been overly busy with his end of the semester school load. He has papers, presentations, and exams. So he's been holed away studying and stressing out all week. I have been the one cleaning, cooking, tending to the baby, and decorating. Women's work, eh? Well, I love doing all these things, I just don't love feeling like no one else gives a damn about my hard work. Misunderstood houswife, eh? Not exactly. I know he appreciates me, and I know he sees my hard work, and he loves me, etc. He's just trying not to drown right now. The least I can do is take care of things on the homefront so that he doesn't have to worry about them. I keep telling myself - just get through this year - then he'll be done with school, and his time will free up, and we'll have more time together, more family time, more couple time, more relaxation time, more hobby time, more vacation time. I just pray that "just one more year" does not turn into my life-long mantra. Please God, just let things get easier in a year.
In food news, I made Whoopie Pies for the boys. That means my husband and the two bachelors upstairs. Sean especially, because Whoopie Pies are the thing I've baked and shared that he just went on and on about. I bake a lot - at least once or twice a week, so for anyone in this house to get especially excited about something I've baked means that they really, really like it. Whoopie Pies (I know the name is dumb, but I didn't make it) are like Oreos, but bigger, and softer, and creamier in the middle. They are what Oreos aspire to be.

Whoopie Pies
Makes 12 pies
Preheat oven to 350 F and grease/line two or three cookie sheets.

2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c unsweet cocoa powder
1 c sugar
Sift all of the above together and set aside.

1 egg
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 c milk
1 oz melted bittersweet chocolate

In a large bowl mix the egg, oil, vanilla, milk, and melted chocolate together. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients.
Drop by the tablespoon onto cookie sheets. If you're aiming for 12 pies, make 24 cookies.
Bake the cookies 10-12 minutes or until firm, then remove from the oven and set the cookie sheets on cooling racks. Once they have cooled for 10 minutes or so, slide the cookies off the sheets and onto the racks to cool further.

While the cookies are baking and cooling, make the filling:
1/2 c milk
2 1/2 Tbs flour
Whisk these two ingredients together in a medium saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium high heat. Cook until the mixture thickens significantly, then remove from heat and let it cool.

1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
1/2 c shortening (I use Crisco all-vegetable shortening)
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Beat the above ingredients into submission, I mean, until well combined. Add the milk/flour mixture (also called a roux) and continue to beat for about 10 minutes. I know this sounds like a long time, and it is - especially if you're working with a hand mixer like I am, but it makes for a really fluffy filling. And fluffy is what we want here.
Once the filling is fluffy and the cookies are cool, sandwich them together and dig in! They're also very good cold, so try them refrigerated or frozen.


we have a lot to give one another

I have so much to share!
First of all, we have seen our first snow of the winter here in Missouri.

Thanksgiving was great - Jamie visited from Georgia, she learned to knit, we all cooked and ate together, we enjoyed time with my family, Finn was the center of attention, of course, and the cranberry bliss bars I made turned out okay.
Things that I am thankful for: God, my family, our health and happiness, good music, good friends, good food, simple pleasures, the beauty and glory of nature, my son's smiles, hot water, steady food supply, our apartment, strong coffee, a new president. I could easily extend this list for many paragraphs, but I'll leave it at that. In short, I can find good in almost anything, therefore I'm grateful for almost everything, ever.

In food news, I'm planning on making biscotti for family members, putting it in large beautiful jars, and sending along a pound of coffee. We don't have the money for more elaborate gifts, and honestly, I'd rather give something they will enjoy eating and drinking, instead of, say, a sweater, that they might or might not like. Everyone likes food. Some more than others (case in point) but everyone likes it. I'm going to use Dorie Greenspan's recipe for almond biscotti, and maybe add some lemon and anise. I'm not sure about the anise - because it is a unique flavor, and I'm not sure everyone would like it - but the lemon is safe, for sure.
In baby news, Finn's making more noise every day. It's so much fun. He's very expressive. Today he has his 2 month doctor's appointment, and they're going to give him some vaccinations. Oh Lord, I hope he does okay. Many babies get upset and then stay fussy for a day or two. If they ask me to hold him down to get shots - I'll refuse. I don't want to be involved, or to have him remember me being involved - it confuses his trust in me. I'm the good guy! I get to hold and comfort him after the shots are over!
Here's Finn wearing a scarf and appearing pleased.

More food news - I picked up an issue of Martha Stewart Living, and let me tell you - this woman is very creative. She also has some envious cookie recipes that I'll have to try out. Of course I'll chronicle them here.


they came up hopping in the spirit of the aviator

I jinxed my culinary creativity, it seems, by telling about my "two things in a bowl" good fortune. Then again, I made a couple dishes early in the week that turned out to be way too much for just two people, so we've been eating leftovers for days. Luckily, we polished off the leftovers today, which means that tomorrow I will embark on a new culinary adventure! Hurrah.

Today I used my hand mixer three times. This morning I made pancakes, then I made an adaptation of Cranberry Bliss Bars - which I let cool, frosted, and then froze to store for Thanksgiving - and tonight I'm making Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins.

Dry ingredients for Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins.

The Busy-Day Cake turned out really well, just a bit dry because I checked it, decided it needed 5 more minutes, but it turns out it didn't. I should have taken it out earlier, or just given it two more minutes instead of 5. Oh well. Yesterday, with two slices remaining, I made a quick breakfast for myself and a friend who stopped by. I warmed up some frozen berries, sliced big hunks of cake, drizzled them with maple syrup, and tossed the warm berries on top. With black coffee, our breakfast was perfect.

Busy-Day Cake with maple syrup and warm berries.

In baby news, the Bedtime is working out. Tonight he became hungry and droopy eyed at 6 instead of 7, so I just went with it and gave him a bottle in our dark bedroom. By 6.30 I was doing some dishes. I don't blame him, I'm extra tired today, too. In fact, after the rest of the muffins get done baking, I'm heading to bed.
Somehow, Finn grows cuter by the day.

That's him last night. Today he is 2 months old. He coos, smiles, and kicks a lot. He basically makes anyone who comes near him feel like they won the lottery because he is so cute and so sweet. I know I'm biased, but just ask my friends. He's a laid back baby with a developing personality. I can't wait to find out who he is.
I am also relishing his small size, because he just keeps getting bigger. One day he won't be my warm bundle of goodness and joy, tucked in next to me in the mornings. He'll be an awkward middle schooler, or a sulky teenager, or a grown man, with his own place to live and maybe his own children.
But right now he is mine, all mine. He is small, and he smells young, that's the only way to put it. His fingers are tiny, his ears are seashells, translucent and new. His lips are soft, searching. His eyes are bright and big, alert and adventurous. He's perfect, and he's all mine.

p.s. I forgot to do Wordless Wednesday again this week! Drat.
p.p.s. this batch of muffins did not turn out as well as the last time I made them. too much free-styling.


miniature disasters and minor catastrophes

I don't want to talk about how implementing the Bedtime went tonight. Suffice to say, the baby is asleep, and that is what matters. Meltdowns aside, he was asleep and I was arranging mise en place by 8pm. I decided on Busy-Day Cake, the recipe that I mentioned yesterday. Since I followed it exactly as Molly adapted and wrote it, I won't re-post the recipe.
A good way to start the night, post Bedtime Meltdown: dark ale and unsalted butter.

Mise en place.

Whisked dry ingredients.

Ready to bake.

What I would like to know is: is there any baker out there that doesn't lick the beater bars? Or at least scrape the sides of the bowl and devour the remaining batter? I love batter. I don't care about raw eggs. After all, Gaston ate dozens of raw eggs, and look how strong and dashingly handsome he turned out.
The cake is now cooling on a wire rack. It was so simple, so easy, so relaxing. Some women get pedicures to relax and feel good, I bake. It's like therapy, but cheaper and with much less talking. And more quality beer.
Next on my agenda:
find the perfect (pearfect?) recipe for the two beautiful bosc pears I have
devour the new cookbooks I borrowed from the library (A Platter of Figs, Veganomicon, How to be a Domestic Goddess)


it never changes to stop

Attempting a Bedtime, night 3.
This is Finn - he usually looks this alert (or more so) right around the newly implemented Bedtime.

Night 2 didn't go so well. That was last night. Around 7, I changed him, put on his pajamas, and went into our bedroom. I had the lights off and the fan going - normal sleeping environment. I tried to feed him, but he fussed and refused. I gave him a bottle instead, and he dozed off. I burped him and put him down. Not so fast, said he. He flailed about and spit out his pacifier a million times. I lied (to lay is to place, to lie is to recline) on the bed beside the bassinet and put my hand on his chest to calm him. I placed and replaced his pacifier in his mouth. Sometime around 9, he was fast asleep. I went to bed about an hour later.
So tonight - night 3. Better than night 2, so far. I decided to wait a little longer, so around 7.30 I did the routine - change diaper, put on pjs, go into dark bedroom, give bottle, burp, put baby in bassinet. By 8 I was pouring myself a glass of pinot noir and marveling at all the dirty dishes waiting for me. At 8.14 I heard some fussing, so I went in and replaced his pacifier in his mouth, and put my hand on his chest. It's now 8.30 and I'm drinking my wine.

Pretty soon we'll buy a baby monitor, so I can close the bedroom door all the way and sit in the living room and listen to music, instead of leaving the door ajar and straining to hear his tiny voice. After an hour or so, I'll know he's out, but the first hour is a bit tenuous. Is that even the correct usage of "tenuous"? I don't care.
In food news, I made way too much orzo today. It didn't look like so much in the box, so I thought, what the hey, I'll cook all of it and we'll have some leftovers. Whoa, nelly. Not only did it seem to multiply before my very eyes while boiling in the pot, it also happened to look to me like insects. Yikes. So I threw in some toasted pine nuts,diced tomatoes, sauteed chopped garlic, fresh oregano, red wine vinegar, and some spinach, and turned it into a giant meal. It could feed a family of six, and it was about $6, not including the price of the red wine vinegar and garlic (already had) and oregano (I have some growing). Hooray.
In other food news, I have a new favorite snack: yogurt with dried cranberries, pepitas, walnuts, and a drizzle of honey. Yum.

I'm about ready to bake something again, but I'm not sure what. Usually I have recipes lined up in my head, placing first the one I've been daydreaming about most. But I haven't been thinking of any baked goods recently. Completely inconsistent with my usual thought life. I suppose I just haven't been extremely inspired lately. Maybe I need to pick up an issue of Bon Appetit. Well, I could make those pumpkin applesauce muffins again. They were incredible. Or make an apple cranberry cake, but we're having apple cake at Thanksgiving, so scratch that.
Oh yes, I remember. Last night as I was trolling around on Molly's blog, I revisited February 2008, and came across this little gem. The recipe is for "Busy-Day Cake", and Molly adapted it from Edna Lewis's recipe. I love the pictures Molly took of it. The cake is so unassuming, and that's exactly what makes me so sure that it will be fabulous.
If I can tackle the dishes in the next 30 minutes, I'll set right to dirtying up my clean kitchen with the makings of Busy-Day Cake.


flood in my head

I'm sure I'll regret all this typing tomorrow.
But really, why not? I'm alone, I'm lonely, and the words never end.
I'm missing my dad. He would know exactly what to do to prepare the soil for winter. He would love to see my son. His grandson. I am actually praying that Finn is a lot like my dad. It just so happens that the relative I am most similar to is my grandmother, so it's not impossible that Finn could be similar to his grandfather, though he'll never know him.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about past relationships. I walk the dog at least once a day, twice a day when Scott has a long day and isn't able to take the dog for either of his two daily walks. The weather, I suppose, is what's nudged my memory to dig up old shoe boxes of failed romances and sift through them with painful detail. What I have been discovering while swimming through memories is that, as Ben Gibbard so poetically puts it "And now I'm seeing that I was the one worth leaving". With the exception of one of my pre-marriage relationships, I wasn't the perfect partner I usually remember myself as. It's easier to remember things without clarity, but instead colored by emotions like bitterness. That way there's no blame to bear. It turns out - with M., though he certainly had his faults, I was not the good girlfriend I imagined myself to be. I was too needy, I didn't give him space. I think I cheated on him. I dishonored him and disrespected him. I expected too much, wanted too much. With R. I was just wasting time. I think we claimed love, but the whole time I was just waiting for something better. Shouldn't have moved in with him. What a disaster. I did cheat on him. With E. I was just stupid and ruined a perfectly good relationship for some convoluted notion of freedom. At least I left that relationship before cheating.
In short, my entire life up to just a few years ago consisted mainly of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Or techno, to be more precise. And that's what I cared about, and that's how I made my choices. I had no healthy model of a loving relationship to know what more I should want, or strive for. Sorry, ex-lovers.
That's why, when I met Scott, I couldn't believe what I'd landed. A man this good, who loved me - crass, sarcastic, guarded, over-sexed, overall ugly and broken. He somehow saw through all of that. My healthiest, most loving relationship.
I know he works so hard because he wants to be good for us. He wants to honor God, and honor me, and provide for his family. He wants to graduate nursing school and make salary. It's just hard, sometimes, to not feel slightly sad or bitter because he is gone so much. I feel like he's missing the first year of his son's life. I sometimes feel forgotten. I make it a point to make sure we kiss - on the lips - at least once a day. Usually, I wait up for him until he comes home from work. We tumble into bed, he's exhausted, I have things stored up to tell him, but I only tell half of them before I feel him drifting off. I kiss him, we cuddle, and shortly thereafter, it's tomorrow, and he's gone again, and I'm here. Doing the dishes. Feeding the baby. Walking the dog. Mulching the garden. Tidying the house. Baking sweets. Cooking meals. Folding the laundry. Sifting through memories. Missing my dad. Waiting for Scott to get home so we can kiss on the lips again.

and in the morning I'll be with you

I baked again.

Last night I tried out another of Dorie Greenspan's recipes - "Black and White Banana Loaf". It's basically a banana bread, with part of the batter mixed with melted bittersweet chocolate, and then marbled into the regular batter. I adapted it a little, adding some pureed pumpkin from the fridge and leaving out the rum because I didn't have any.
It turned out really well -super moist.

And I realize that we need a new bookshelf. Ours is so full it is about to fall over, seriously.
Today I did some gardening stuff. I felt so self sufficient, because I'm a woman and I was ripping dead plants out of the ground, reseeding the purple cone flowers, and spreading leaves on the flower beds, and no guy helped me. I wasn't even depending on Scott to watch the baby, I brought him and his bouncy chair outside so he could get some sun. It was unseasonably warm today, so it all worked out. Except that Rufus tried to eat a garden snake, which didn't work out at all.
Oh, and I've made some pretty delicious throw-together meals lately. I'm calling them "two things in a bowl". Yesterday I chopped and sauteed some new potatoes with curry powder. I also cooked some lima beans and kielbasa. Then I put those two things in a bowl together. Today I scrambled some eggs with onion, garlic, and bell peppers. I also reheated some wild rice in a saute pan and added tomatoes, black beans, and tons of fresh spinach. Then I put those two dishes in a bowl. I'm liking it. It's an awesome way to use leftovers, and it's not like I have to think of a balanced meal, I just turn on the stove and start emptying the refrigerator.
Basically I'm ruling on the homefront. What about behind the front, though? Well, I think I'm doing okay. Honestly I feel a little shafted because I do all the work around here, well, all the housework. Scott does all of his things - full time school and work - and I know it's not easy on him. I wish he had the insight to realize what a gift it would be to me if he would come home from school and tell me to go take a bath or something, or to go meet a friend for coffee - without the baby. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Finn, and he's a charm to take out - he is laid back, never crying, always thrilling women with his good looks. But hey, what about me? I'm my own person, right? Or does mommy-hood dissolve my identity. Please, God, say it doesn't. I know it doesn't, but I realize that it takes maintenance to keep up my own identity separate from that of Finn's food, Finn's home, Finn's comfort. I love being all of those things to him, he's an angel of a baby. Obviously I feel torn - loving my new role, but afraid of losing sight of my own identity apart from my new role.
Also, I just miss Scott. I really appreciate and admire him for his hard work, truly. Because I don't like working - I just don't. And I don't miss working. But he works, and it's hard, and he goes to school, and he studies constantly, and he stresses out, but he makes good grades, and he keeps on trucking. I just feel like I don't see him very often.
I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. Scott will have the week off of school, and I'll finally be able to spend some time with him. He might even be able to relax a little and stop stressing about classes. I'm tired, and rambling, and need to join my baby in sleep.
I'm lonely.

don't you wanna make him stay up late

I totally forgot to participate in Wordless Wednesday a few days ago. Drat.
Right now I'm trying to implement a bedtime for Finn. He usually just stays up as long as I do - we go to bed somewhere around 10.30pm, on average. But I've been thinking that since he's a baby, perhaps he should be going to sleep earlier - so tonight I fed him at 7.45pm, and put him in his bassinet, in our dark bedroom, with the fan running. I usually do that routine sometime around 10 or 10.30pm, so I thought maybe he would drift off.
Well, I laid on the bed next to the bassinet, watching him in the dark. He was wide awake! He moved his head around, very alert-like. I could barely make out that his eyes were open. I put my hand on his chest and he stilled. I brushed his face, rhythmically, with my fingertips, and he quieted. He kept relaxing, and his pacifier would drop out of his mouth, then he'd startle awake, and turn his head back and forth until I put his pacifier back in his mouth. This went on for 30 minutes, then I brought him into the bed with me and fed him again. That always puts him to sleep.
Not necessarily a deep sleep, though, because once I set him down and switched out the laundry, and then tiptoed back to the bedroom to listen at the door - he was cooing. Just talking to himself in there.
I'm currently staked out at the kitchen table, within earshot of the bedroom, and through the ajar door, I can hear him every now and then. If he starts crying or fussing I'll go comfort him, but so far it's just the occasional coo. It's really cute. I wish I could see his face, but I don't dare open that door and peer into his bassinet, because surely he'll jolt awake and start smiling, and cooing, and being fully alert.
Finn, fully alert.

Does anyone know that old Talking Heads song that goes something like - "baby, baby, please let me hold him/I wanna make him stay up all night"? I love that song. That's how I feel just a little bit - that he's so damn cute, I kind of want him to stay up so I can look at him and play with him. More than that, though, I am relishing this little bit of me time.


sweet nothing serenade

There's something I've been avoiding. Rather, I just don't think about it, so why would I write about it? It's this - the boys upstairs are leaving. Ben is going to live in a van, but will still be in town, probably using our shower or toilet or warm couch every now and then. He's got the Into the Wild bug, it seems, and he wants to travel and live out of a van, but hopefully not die from eating poisonous plants. Then there's Sean. Ah, Sean. Scott and I love Sean more than anyone else in this God-forsaken town. Sean is the single best thing about Columbia. He's just a great guy. If I said more about him, it would sound like I was writing his personal ad. He's graduating next month and leaving - moving to Colorado to live with some jackass friend of his.
Did I ever say? - Sean is the first friend we had in Columbia. He lived in the downstairs apartment in the building five feet from ours. He was the first person to be friendly, to invite us over for drinks and smoke. We played "Go Fish" at his table and he gave us a cup he'd made in ceramics. He didn't care that we were married - everyone else treated us like we had a plague, or, more accurately, they probably assumed we didn't need friends because we had one another. But not Sean, he hung out with us anyway. Two years later, we're still neighbors. In fact, he lives upstairs in this old two story brick house. It's been a community house, with Sean and Ben stopping in any old time, borrowing nutmeg, me running upstairs to steal their soy milk. Sean taught Scott most of what he knows about working on bikes. Ben was the first non family member to hold our one day old baby. Sean used to bake loaves of bread and stick one, unwrapped, into our mailbox for us to find when we came home. Ben walked our dog almost every day for a week or two after the baby was born. They have been our family while living here, and I can't believe that they are moving.
Today they got back from a weekend trip and Sean came downstairs to say hi. He brought a bottle of whiskey and a carton of egg nog, and asked to borrow my nutmeg. He mixed me a drink and gave me a hug and said to come upstairs if I wanted to. We share so much in this house - we've cooked so many meals together, and it was us Sean came to when his heart was broken. He took a nap on our couch and all but crawled into my lap to cry. We've been on hikes, camping trips, bike rides. We've had countless barbecues in our front yard together. We've shared drinks, recipes, and stories, and conversations. We've built a garden together, maintained a compost. It's like a marriage, what we have in this house - the married couple downstairs, the two bachelors upstairs, and this bond, and our friendships.
I just can't believe it's coming to an end.


one more time

world peace cookies, pt. 2

Let's see, where did I leave off? Oh yes, chilling. We had two logs - so after 5 hours, and after dinner - which was pizza from Gumby's because we had guests
(the guests hanging out with Finn)

and I delayed cooking until I was too hungry and then the quinoa was not enough and too old so I threw it away and made brown rice which was taking too long - I sliced and baked the first log. I followed Dorie's instructions to pull from the oven at 12 minutes, though they won't look done, and to let them cool enough to be able to appreciate the texture.

They were great. I'm not a chocolate fan, but the cookies were damn good.

Last night we had friends over who cooked in our kitchen for us - what fun! They made an incredible lentil curry over brown rice and a mixed greens salad with cranberries and walnuts and apples. While we ate dinner, I sliced and baked the second log of World Peace Cookies. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. I let them cool to nearly room temperature.
They were even better than the first log! Maybe because I sliced them thicker, or maybe because they chilled nearly 24 hours, or maybe both. The guests loved them, and I sent them home with the ones we didn't eat.


i want you back

world peace cookies, pt. 1

Today my goal was to bake World Peace Cookies, a delicious chocolate shortbread cookie. I found the recipe in "Baking: From My Home To Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. This book is my baked goods BIBLE, unfortunately I don't yet own this book - but the public library might be waiting awhile before I'm ready to turn it back in. Anyway, here's the idea - this cookie recipe was the brainchild of Pierre Herme, and for anyone who doesn't know, this guy is huge in the sweets world. Then sweet lil Dorie Greenspan put the recipe in her book, renamed by her friend who believed that if everyone ate these cookies, we could attain world peace. They're that good.
Why? you ask, well I'll tell you. Salt. That's right, good ol' sea salt. Enough to notice; just enough to really bring out the chopped bittersweet chocolate and to accentuate the buttery, sandy richness.
Can I just say - I've been aching to try these for days. So today I set out on my journey into shortbread.

Mise en place. As you can see, this includes my Irish Breakfast tea.

Finn was fussy, so I strapped on the front carrier and locked him in place. My very own baking assitant.

We thought the flour and cocoa looked especially nice together.

We sifted and combined. We mixed, blended, folded. We turned the dough out and rolled it into two longs and put them in the fridge to cool for 5 hours. They looked suspiciously like long, skinny poops. We laughed.

As per usual, as soon as I set him down, my assistant gleefully freed himself of one sock.

Then we waited for the cookies to chill. We chilled.


simple twist of fate

(inspired by Lainey's post)
I *love* pictures of other people's sinks full of dirty dishes. Really, I'm not being facetious. Just makes me remember that I'm not alone in this world, you know? That my long day that didn't have time for dishes is normal, and many people had the same kind of day.
Also - whenever I finally get the dishes done and the kitchen tidied - that's when I get the strongest urge to cook - so I end up right back where I started - with a sink full of dirty dishes.
In other news - this blog has been good for me. Today, for instance, was wonderful, but for some reason the baby became cranky right around 8pm, and cried for almost an entire hour. I tried everything - feeding him, burping him, bouncing him, walking around and showing him things (that one worked best). He cried actual tears, which is unusual for a baby of 7 weeks. That means he really worked those tears up - he really meant it! I have no idea what was wrong with him, maybe he was just cranky and needed me to hold him. Heaven knows I still have days where I long for my mother's arms or my father's chest.
I'm not sure how this post went from dirty kitchen sinks to the comfort of a parent, but that's my day today. Rather lonely, nostalgic, and void of baking. I had all these plans, all these plans, for baking today. Two recipes, to be exact. I read them both three or four times while nursing the baby. But as it turned out, I didn't have time to bake the recipes, only to read them, and to offer comfort to my crying child.

a thousand dollars in new york

Well, yesterday I was working on this masterpiece of a post - about how the internet is replacing grandmothers - but then the website messed up and erased the entire post. I didn't have the heart (read: time) to rewrite it, so I did not.
The core of the post was going to be about my successful bread baking adventure. I found a simple recipe and gave it a try. Eureka! It worked. So now I have joined the ranks of bread bakers everywhere.

Next task - successfully learn to purl so that one day I can knit socks.

Here's how the bread turned out.

That's the local honey I used in the bread. The bread was great warm out of the oven, but even better after it had cooled - toasted, with butter and a slick of honey (maple syrup for Scott).
I am so excited that I actually made bread. I'd like to create a starter for Sourdough next. Or just play with this easy recipe some more, maybe adding raisins and cinnamon, etc. Really, the bread baking world is my oyster.

In baby news - Finn has started cooing. It sounds like "gooo" or "ahh-ooo". He'll coo, then I'll laugh and praise him and say "What else can you say?" and he'll move his limbs all around, and open his mouth and smile, and then out comes one of the cutest noises in the world - his little voice. It's like we're conversing! It's really a thrill.


when your mind's made up

I baked!
Truly, an achievement. We won't talk about what kind of weird throw-together dinner I had, we'll just move right on to the baking part. I borrowed (let's face it - I'm not giving it back) an egg from my neighbor, and I made some oatmeal cookies. But not any oatmeal cookies. These are THE best oatmeal cookies. I found this recipe who knows where, and then I've adapted it more and more until it's exactly how I like it. This time, instead of adding raisins, I threw in chopped cranberries and pecans, for that November taste.

I put on the front pack baby carrier, put Finn in, and took him along for the ride. I talked to him to keep him from fussing, and I explained everything from the dip and sweep method of measuring flour, to the art of soft butter - soft, but not oily. He was rather unmoved. My dog, however, was riveted. He watched my every movement, praying for a sleight of hand that might send some morsel to the floor. He is my sous chef, ever attentive and helpful.
Enough of my banter, here's the recipe.

November Oatmeal Cookies
(makes about 20 cookies)

1/2 c unsalted butter, soft
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/3 c chopped pecans
1/3 c chopped cranberries
Preheat oven to 375. Grease two baking sheets, or line them with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl mix the butter and sugars until combined. Beat in the egg. Beat in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl combine all remaining ingredients, besides the pecans and cranberries. Whisk together, then add to the wet mixture and combine.
Fold in pecans and cranberries.
(you can either chill in the refrigerator for an hour or not - I chose not to today, I'm not sure if I can tell a difference)
Drop by rounded Tbs.
Bake 8-10 minutes.
*This recipe is halved b/c I didn't want a million cookies. If you do, feel free to un-halve it. Rather, double it.

Baking with baby!

autumn's child

"all my mistakes have become masterpieces"

Today I sorted baby clothes and put away the too-smalls. Finn's growing so quickly - he's only a month and a half old, but he's already wearing some of the 3-6mo. clothes. Truth be told, though, the sizes vary so much from brand to brand that there's no telling what size he really is. Small, in one sense. Large, in another. He's about 12lbs, big for a baby so young. What can I say - my breast milk is amazing.
It is a little sad to put away the tiny clothes, but I'm going to keep them for the next boy.
The temperature has dropped, and I'm afraid it won't be going back up anytime soon. Just two days ago it was 74, but today it's 37.

Good thing I have a baby to wear, to keep me warm when I walk the dog. Finn and I create so much heat pressed together that after the walk I have sweat rolling down my back. And is generally fast asleep, basking in the mommy sauna.
There's so much intimacy between Finn and me. I didn't know about the mother-child intimacy. He derives food from my body, and finds comfort at the breast, smiling and napping, looking up at me. I trim his fingernails with my teeth, carefully running my tongue over each tiny finger to find the offending scratchy nail. I kiss the folds in the depths of his neck. We nap together, my large body encircling his small body, the familiar warmth just enough to keep him asleep an extra hour. It's beautiful, and savory. It's delicious.
I'm going to give knitting another try. I pulled out last winter's unfinished scarf last night and knitted a few rows. I resisted the nearly overwhelming urge to completely unravel the scarf and start over. Then again, yesterday was that sort of day - the emotional meltdown sort. Knowing better than to give in to the destructive voice. I kept knitting from where I left off in January. I'm going to pursue this hobby - I want to make socks! And sometimes I just see the most beautiful, the softest yarn, and I want it for mine. I should learn to use my sewing machine while I'm at it. Then I could really be the perfect wife.
So it's true - my clothes don't fit. I can't yet slip on one pair of pre-pregnancy jeans. I'm still wearing maternity jeans. Don't get me wrong - I'm not fat. I know that I'm lucky with my body size, even post-pregnancy. But we all know that no matter what size we are, if that size goes up a couple notches, however temporary it may be, it doesn't feel good. It feels like failure, and shame, and heartbreaking sadness. At least, that's how it feels for me. And then I cry, because I'll never, ever, look like I did when I didn't know how good I looked. Even if I get back to 112 pounds, my hips will stay wider, my thighs larger, my waist thicker, my breasts - we won't talk about what will happen to them. I know this doesn't ultimately matter - the body is simply a vehicle for the soul, but at the same time, it's a temple for the soul.
This is true - no matter how big my thighs are because of motherhood, my heart's size has increased so much more.


are you writing from the heart

I sure never thought I would care about politics, much less get emotional, but it has happened. Barack Obama's acceptance speech was so moving, and I just wish I could have been part of the crowd at Grant Park that night. Such energy! McCain's speech was "very gracious" as Andrea from Superhero Designs noted. I am excited for what the future holds - and to see what Obama will do with this country. I also feel excited for Finn, that my boy can grow up in a country that still has hope, and a country that has mustered the power for change. 

In other news, the gals from my prenatal yoga class met up on Sunday. Rebecca opened her home to us (since we are all fairly inept at nursing in public - well, at least I am) and we met to talk and share our babies. 

Have you ever seen so many babies in one room? Finn was the youngest at 6 weeks, but certainly not the smallest. He weighs around 12 pounds now! The oldest baby was 3 months, so they were all tiny and cute. 
It was refreshing and normalizing to talk to the other yoga mamas. We talked about bleeding and breast feeding, we talked about how hard labor was, the surprisingly long and painful recovery, and whether or not we want to have more kids. One woman said she wouldn't mind going through labor again, but she didn't want to be pregnant again! I feel the exact opposite. I loved pregnancy - I felt fulfilled as a woman, as dorky as that sounds, it was truly how I felt. I loved the awe my belly generated - a bit vain, I know - but I never felt so beautiful in my entire life. I was allowed, and encouraged, to gain weight. My husband cheered when I put on the pounds. It was an emotional roller coaster, sure, but I was blessed with an extremely healthy pregnancy, so I didn't mind feeling crazy. 
Labor, though it was a great natural labor that wasn't too long, was still difficult. The good part about labor is that I was entirely in the moment the whole time. Contractions don't give another option. I was there, 100%, in my body, in the moment. It was incredible, and overwhelming. I thought I would crawl out of my skin. I thought my pubic bone would break. I could not believe a human head was descending down my birth canal. 
The minute he was out and screaming, though, was the most beautiful moment of my life thus far. I didn't care that I was gushing blood, or completely naked and sweaty, I felt radiant and overjoyed. I birthed my baby. Here he was, finally in my arms. What a rush. 

I know it's autumn, and every thing's dying and changing, but at the same time, every thing feels new. 


what we have known

I've been trolling cyberspace a lot lately . . . checking out blogs - bloghopping, I suppose. And what I've decided is that I love blogs - I love reading blogs, and seeing pictures, and feeling inspired, challenged, and most of all - not isolated. 
It can be pretty lonely here sometimes. Between my husband's work and his classes, his time at home is limited, and is usually spent studying. So that leaves me with a baby and a dog, and an otherwise empty house.
 Some of my friends stop by now and then, and I take two walks a day, so that helps. Actually, the walks are my main link to sanity right now. I wear Finn, put Rufus on his leash, and we all tramp outside to soak up the last of fall. The leaves, they were fiery last week, are now fading and falling, and the walk around the residential area is just beautiful. Especially where the leaves are covering the road. 
Other than the walks, and the occasional grocery store trip, I don't get out much. I seem to be pretty productive around the house, though. I keep up with the dishes, I tidy the house, and most of all I breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed. It's wonderful. And wild. It's mind warping to try to truly comprehend how much my life has changed with Finn's birth. I'm still the same person, sure, but at the same time I'm completely different. Everything is different. 
I think I'm just feeling some seasonal nostalgia - it always happens to me in the fall. Nostalgia for who I was, the friends and family I miss, but also excitement for the future, to watch Finn grow up, to grow old with Scott. It's most important, however, to enjoy the present. It's fleeting, and precious, and it's all we truly ever have. 


right as rain

Wonder of all wonders - I actually had time to bake today! 
For some reason Finn decided to be sleepy this evening, so after perusing two over-sized cookbooks while drooling all over myself, I chose a recipe and went for it. Not like the old days of baking, that's for sure. I did not have the radio on loudly, nor did I just whip it up and throw it in the oven. Step by step - I mixed dry ingredients, and then breast fed the baby. Then I burped him until he fell asleep. Then I preheated the oven. Mixed wet ingredients, and the baby woke up. So I walked around with him, changed his diaper, and eventually he dozed off again. By this time the oven is preheated and I am sweating because the kitchen and living room are entirely too hot. Finally, I join the wet and dry ingredients toget
her and fold in the raisins. Hallelujah, the end is in sight. I pour the batter into greased muffin tins and then, and only then, I throw them into the oven. 
The whole process took two hours, at least, and I fed the baby twice by the end of it, including cooling time for the muffins. Then I ate two muffins. Hah. My reward. 
I made the muffins because tomorrow I'm meeting with the gals from my prenatal yoga class, and I wanted to bring something for us to eat. We're all getting together and bringing our babies - it should be interesting. I think the oldest baby will be around 3 months, and mine will be the youngest at 6 weeks. We'll probably all do some trying-to-be-discreet-but-flashing-the-world breast feeding and talk about our total lack of sleep and impending insanity, our well-intentioned husbands, and how cute the babies are. 

If I were as good as Molly (Orangette), or Kim (The Yummy Mummy), I would type up the recipe from the muffins and take some amazing photos of them to show you. But I'm not that good. The muffins were amazing, and the recipe is one I adapted from Nina Simonds' "Pumpkin-Applesauce Muffins" from her book "Spices of Life". They turned out delicious, which is why I had to eat two. 

Oh, and Halloween was yesterday. Surprise! I think I only realized what day it was today, and that's when I realized that I really AM locked away in Mommy-land right now. The first Halloween in I don't know when that I haven't participated in, but it doesn't matter. Instead, I got to actually spend some time with my busy and stressed husband, which was the best treat I could have received. 
In lieu of a recipe for and photo of the muffins, here's a photo of Finn in his bear jacket. 


you forgot it in people

I sing the joys of motherhood. 
Today my son puked a mucous of half digested milk all over my neck and shoulder. Of course it was a clean shirt. Why do I try? He also landed some of it on his clean shirt. On my way to the bathroom I sneezed, and discovered my apparent incontinence - peeing myself just a bit. Oh, wonderful. Not only have I not had time to take a shower, but now I'm covered in puke and pee. Good thing it's just me, the baby, and the dog today. They don't care what I smell like. They're smellier, anyhow. 
Scott and I were debating whether or not to introduce Finn to a pacifier, but after his increase in fussiness, we decided to give it a try. I feel somewhat guilty, like I'm just trying to shut my kid up, but that's not the case. The pacifier is not taking away any of my attention or love from my child. After I've been holding him for an hour, and he's been fussing the entire hour, and when I try to put him down he escalates the fussing into the threat of crying, the pacifier becomes my friend. I put him down, just for a minute, to use the bathroom, and give him the pacifier. Lo and behold, he takes it, it soothes him in ways all my rocking, walking, bouncing, nursing, etc. cannot. He quiets, sucks it contentedly, and falls asleep in the time it takes me to use the bathroom. Eureka! Now I have time to scrub some dishes! Glorious. 
I'm not sure whether to try for a shower. So far I've managed to take one every day since his birth - I did not expect to maintain my cleanliness as a new parent, but I have succeeded so far. Today might break the record, though. But hey, if I forfeit my personal hygiene for the betterment of my family (dishes done, house tidied, baby taken care of, dog walked twice, perhaps some food cooked), then hey, it's a cause that's worth it. 
Now if I could just find an incredible recipe for whole wheat brownies. 


littlest birds sing the sweetest songs

I know I should be napping . . . I'm tired and Finn's asleep right now, but I haven't written since he was born. He'll be a month old tomorrow, and I can't believe it! He's already looking so much bigger, and he's hitting developmental milestones like being able to hold his head up a little, and move it around, and turn to follow my voice or face. 
I'm holding up pretty well, getting more sleep than I had anticipated. He only wakes up twice a night to eat; the third time he wakes up is 5am, so I don't count that one. I swear he gave me his first intentional, eyes-crinkling up, full fledged smile this morning!!! It's the most beautiful smile I've ever seen. 
I am missing my other baby - baking. I've made cookies only once in the past month. I've got my eye on a pumpkin bar recipe I found on a food blog called Cookie Madness, and I plan on whipping that up as soon as possible, maybe tonight after Finn goes to bed. The thing is - Finn usually goes to bed around 9, and I'm usually ready for bed at that time, too. 
So I'm a stay at home mom now . . . it's not all bliss, but mostly. There is the fact that I haven't had time/free arms to vacuum in the past week, though I've been eyeing 
the carpet every day with more and more anticipation of vacuuming. The leaves are falling outside, which means we're tracking them inside the house. I'm not dying of boredom, I have plenty of books to read, and Finn is absolutely enchanting. I miss Scott when he's busy working or schooling, and when Finn gets fussy it's frustrating that I can't hand him to Scott for a break. But really, there's nothing to complain about. (Nothing about which to complain - my brain instantly corrects all sentences ending with prepositions) 

Here's some really good songs: 

"Wizard Flurry Home" by Mariee Sioux
"It's Only Me" by Elvis Perkins 
"True Love Will Find You In The End" by Beck 
"Master And Everyone" by Bonnie Prince Billy 
"The Littlest Birds" by Jolie Holland 
"I Felt Your Shape" by The Microphones 
"Make It Hot" by Mirah 
"Don't Be Upset" by Jeffrey & Jack Lewis 

and here's Finn at one month: 


where happiness lives

He's here! 

Well . . . labor was incredible. I'm so glad it's over. I want to write a detailed birth story, but that will take time to compose, and time is different now that we have Finn. So we'll see, right now it's still difficult to think about labor, because it was really intense, and I don't want to relive all those fresh memories quite yet. But soon, when time softens the edges, I'll be able to write about my labor experience. 
In short, it was successful. About 12 hours long, including an hour of pushing. He was born at 1.25pm on September 22. He was 8 lbs, 4 oz, and 21 inches long. An "ice cream baby" as Kim said, due to his filled out body, and the fact that I ate ice cream nearly every day of my pregnancy. She also said she thinks my due date was earlier, because he looked "well baked", with almost zero vernix left on his skin. So I was actually pregnant for maybe 41 or 42 weeks. Holy cow . . . good thing I only thought it was 40 weeks, 1 day. Mentally, it's better. 
My mom drove in that evening, and fed us and we all went to bed. When Finn woke up in the middle of the night, I fed him and Scott changed him and we all went back to sleep. So far, he's only waking up twice during the night. He sleeps in bed with Scott and me. I'm not sure how long we'll continue this, but for right now it's the most convenient arrangement. It's difficult enough to pull my aching body up to a sitting position to feed him, I can't imagine actually getting out of bed and reaching into his bassinet for him. 
After the intimacy of childbirth, I think Scott and I are on a whole new level. That plus the intimacy of parenthood have brought all three of us pretty close over these past few days. I'm dealing with some stitches and (luckily rapidly decreasing) postpartum bleeding. Scott's been changing diapers, which sometimes includes getting soaked in urine. And let's not forget that my milk is coming in, so I'm engorged, and pretty much a human waterfall of breast milk. The human body is just incredible. 
I will say, though, the emotional fulfillment of kissing his marshmallow cheeks makes every gruesome detail totally null and void. 


only in it for the rain

So *this* is what labor feels like . . .  
It's 4.54am and I've been laboring at home since around 10.30pm, maybe earlier. It's hard to tell because the early contractions were so vague and infrequent. They have definitely picked up. Now they're coming on average every three or four minutes, and lasting about a minute long. It's intense! It feels like very deep, all consuming cramps. 
I've been walking around, tidying the house, resting on my side, laboring on the toilet and the yoga ball, etc. 
I guess this baby's actually coming out. 


rock me mama like a wagon wheel

A little dark, but there's the belly in it's full glory - 40 weeks today. I really didn't think we'd make it this far, perhaps I'm just an optimist, but I hoped and believed he'd come a little sooner. 
In gross news, I passed more mucous today, which could be a sign that labor is imminent - it is anyway, at this point, because it's going to happen sooner or later. But I've also been feeling a lot of sensation today, maybe contractions? It's hard to tell. I'm banking on the fact that at some point contractions will be more than uncomfortable, they'll be downright painful, and then I'll know it's the real thing. Until then I'll be hanging out with these uncomfortable twinges and pressure and crampy stuff.
Watched 'Man On Wire' tonight with a friend - it's an incredible documentary! I can't wait to rent it and watch it with Scott whenever it's available.
Last night a bunch of people were over for a barbecue-turned-jam session in our front yard. We had a guitar, banjo, mandolin, mouth harp, musical saw, tambourine, hand drum and spoons. Everyone sat on the front stoop and surrounding chairs and ground for four or five hours, just chatting and jamming. It reminded me of hanging out with the tribe. It was a great night, it even got chilly and I had to wear a zip up sweatshirt. 
Friday night we went camping, Scott, Sean, Mimi, Gen and me. And Rufus, of course. We had a great fire, made s'mores and grilled hot dogs and brats. I couldn't sleep worth shit, because I can only sleep on my sides, and the ground was too hard on my hips. So I shifted every five minutes, and Scott woke up constantly to ask if I was okay. I was wishing to go into labor so I wouldn't have to keep trying to sleep on that hard ground. 
My mind has been an interesting place lately. Sometimes I am filled with impatience, pleading for strong contractions, ready to have the baby. Then at other times I barely remember that I'm waiting for a life-changing event, and I'm content in the moment. Every time I become impatient Scott says - "do you realize what you're wishing for?" which is a great reminder that it's not that bad right now, the waiting. It's certainly not as bad as the nausea of the first trimester, or the sciatica, or having people say all the time "are you sure you don't have twins in there?", etc. The waiting at the tail end of pregnancy is kind of peaceful, and it's a great exercise in patience and trust. Just waiting . . . knowing that my body is right on schedule and the baby will arrive at the perfect time for him to arrive. And trying to relish the solitude I'll never experience again in my life. (whoa) 
But I am pretty excited to meet the little guy who's been living inside me for so long. 


sunshine and clouds and everything proud

It's my mom's birthday today . . . and possibly Finn's, who knows? We'll see. 
I had an appointment today with my midwife and doctor, and they're thinking I'll probably have this baby within the week, which is encouraging, considering I'm already 39 and a half weeks along. I certainly hope he doesn't wait much longer. I've been walking like a maniac - yesterday I probably totaled 5 miles, at least. It's something for me to do, and good for Rufus, who's always up for a jaunt. 
Kim said the baby's head is very low, which is great, because I've definitely felt a lot of pressure this morning while walking around, and I'm constantly bouncing on my yoga/birth ball when I'm at home. Today I've felt energetic, and have been tidying up the house. I'm trying to think of a new route to walk today with Rufus, he's getting antsy. That's the thing about walking him at 7.30am, that by noon he's done feeling calm and restful, and he's ready to be energetic again. I have no idea what's going to happen when the baby comes and I'm not able to walk my high-energy dog two or three times a day. 
Some days I feel more impatient than others. Tuesday I felt extremely impatient, but yesterday I didn't think about it constantly, so I felt better. What helps is making plans - so Scott and I have plans with friends for a camping trip tomorrow night. It's perfect weather, and we wouldn't be too far from Columbia, so now I'm kind of hoping that the baby holds off long enough to enjoy one last camping trip before he comes. Of course, I can't wait to take him camping with us, too, hopefully this fall. 
The closer I come to seeing the baby, the more excited I feel. I'm also feeling a lot of love for this baby, though I don't even know him yet. I cannot wait to see those little feet, and find out whether he has hair or not - and I'm sure he'll have big eyes, just look at Scott and me! People joke that he's going to look like a little baby Scott, which turns my heart to mush, because my husband is the cutest/most handsome man ever. Oh baby Finn, please come soon! 


we deal with what comes along

39 weeks as of today. 
Please, Finn, come this week!!! 
I'm running out of projects - scrubbed the stove top this morning and cleaned the windows in the living room. Vacuumed yesterday and did laundry. It's about time to do some more cooking or baking. Last night I tried to relax and really enjoy it, taking a bath then watching a movie. I started Margaret Atwood's newest novel. I still have two things to do today - clean the bathroom counter and grocery shop. After I finish those two things, I have no clue what I'll do. Maybe go into labor (fingers crossed). Tomorrow is the full moon, after all. 
If I stay pregnant until 40 or even 41 (gasp) weeks, I wonder what projects I'll find to busy myself with then. I'll probably be learning calligraphy or some other obscure art. Maybe I'll begin charting the elevation on my daily walks with Rufus. Or maybe doing something useful, like actually baking bread, instead of harboring fear about working with yeast. Either way, I'm praying that labor will begin sooner than in two more weeks (please, please, please). I do realize that later, when I can't even find two minutes to type a hello on this blog, I will be laughing at my pre-baby, impatient, "bored" self, and I will fully experience how non-boring caring for an infant can be. Until then, one can hope . . .  


spittin' out seeds of doubt

Today the weather is humid. 
I went to an appointment today - low blood pressure (as usual), no weight gain since last week, strong heartbeat for the baby, he's still head down and very active. Possible cervix change, but they don't check me at every appointment to tell me harrowing "this much effacement, that much dilation", thank goodness. I'm curious about how far I may be dilated or thinned, but to know the actual numbers could possibly create more anxiety, because dilation can change greatly before real labor, and if it regressed instead of progressed - what a head trip. I already feel like I could just be pregnant for the rest of my life, but knowing that my cervix was changing it's mind every week would be torture. 
When I walked Rufus this morning I had "stuff going on down there". I'm not sure if they were contractions - because I have no idea how contractions feel - but I had a lot of sensation, some painful, some expanding-feeling, and I just walked and breathed through it. It was exciting to be feeling action down there! When I took a shower after the walk it all stopped, so it probably was what's called false labor, coined "warm-up sessions" by the midwives at the birth center. Pretty exciting stuff. 
What I love about childbirth is that it will happen all of it's own accord. Whether I feel ready or not (I feel as ready as I possibly can at this point), it will occur whenever it does. I can try to will it to happen, but it's not affected by my pleas. When it's hard and active, I may try to will it to end, but it will not heed my call. It's this process that's entirely inevitable and inertia centered, and it's just incredible that one day soon I will be subject to that process. That's why it's so important to just allow it to happen, and take it one contraction at a time. I understand all of this mentally - we'll see how much I remember when I'm actually going through it. 
I've done a lot this first week of maternity leave - had a WIC appointment, a midwife appointment, made three meals and a pound cake and froze them, swept and mopped (gasp) the kitchen floor, went to J's husband's softball game with her, gone on long walks twice a day with my dog, and vacuumed the living room. Still to do - put the carseat in the car, scrub the toilet and tub, vacuum the bedroom, do laundry, and whatever else crosses my mind as time worthy. Oh, I need to write a couple thank you notes and then address envelopes for birth announcements. These little projects are fun, and most importantly, they help the days pass without me becoming too terribly despondent about not having a baby yet. After all, I haven't even passed the "due date" yet. So things are looking good. 


hold on to life with feelings

Five years ago today, my father died. I lost the one I loved the most, first. And since then, I feel that I can handle anything. A consolation that I survived the worst pain so young, to become stronger and older, wiser. 
Today I have done as little as possible, taking long walks with Scott and Rufus, resting on the couch, reading a book. I made pancakes and that was a great start to the day. I'm not depressed, just reflective. His death feels so long ago that it doesn't sting with freshness. It's merely a soft spot on my heart, one that is bittersweet and tender. And radiantly beautiful. 
I will always cradle his memory, and I hope to see some of his kind heartedness as well as his mischievousness in my own son. And, as usual, I listen to "the Glow, pt. 2" by the Microphones to commemorate the day we buried my father. 

"i could not get through september without a battle
 i faced death
 i went in with my arms swinging
 but i heard my own breath
 i had to face that i'm still living

 i'm still flesh
 i hold on to life with feelings

 i'm not dead
 there's no end
 my face is red
 my blood flows harshly

 my heart beats loudly
 my chest still draws breath 
 i hold it 
 i'm boiling
 there's no end" 


won't you find the way back

Update from the midwife today - the baby has indeed dropped. My uterus is measuring two inches lower than last week. Wow! This doesn't tell me when he's coming, but it means that he's getting ready - getting into place. The midwife also confirmed that losing mucous is a good sign that my cervix is changing. So that's exciting. 
Two more days of work - tomorrow and Saturday. 
Today it's pouring rain. I feel bad for Rufus, because he needs exercise, but he doesn't like walking in the rain, and I don't blame him. It's been raining all day, and most of yesterday, too. If/when it ever tapers off, I'll take him for a walk. 
Tomorrow I have a free ultrasound with a pregnancy center in town. They are doing some training, and Abby hooked me up with them - she and her mom won't be in town, but it's their company Sonography Now that's hosting the training. They thought it would be neat for the girls who are training to be able to see a pregnancy so far along. I'm thrilled - I want to see that little guy. And if he's not ready to come out, then the next best way to see him is to peek into his home. 
Been listening to Bon Iver, "For Emma, Forever Ago",  and Lori Chaffer's solo album "1Beginning". Realizing it wouldn't hurt to own books I haven't actually read. Can't find a thing to read here, must go to the library . . 


alone everybody

Everyone keeps asking, "when is your baby due?". For someone who's trying NOT to be attached to any certain date, this is a difficult question. I usually just say "sometime in the next few weeks!" and let it go. 
Full moon on the 15th . . . 
But who knows. And why are we, as a society, so attached to the due date. Why can't we be content with "mid or late September"? It's hard to not be thinking about a due date every single moment. I feel mentally and emotionally ready, so every day I wake up thinking "this would be a great day to have a baby!". Then I feel a tiny bit disappointed at the end of the day when I have not had him yet. So, to those due date driven people, stop asking me! It's just as frustrating to hear as "you look like you're going to pop!" and other such mindless comments and questions. My baby will come whenever he's damn ready. 
Meanwhile, I wait . . . and try to enjoy this pre-baby life, though I know he will make my life so much more joyful. 


lovesong of the buzzard

37 weeks today. Or maybe 39? 
Here's the thing - the first due date calculated was Sept. 9th, according to when I had my last period. My cycles were extremely regular, so that due date was probably pretty accurate. Then, when we did the ultrasound, they recalculated for Sept. 21st, based on the perceived age of the baby, I suppose. I have no idea how accurate that calculation is, or exactly what it's based on. (Why do I feel bad ending a sentence with a preposition?) 
My body is preparing for labor. I'm experiencing new things, such as a constant, dull backache that feels crampy, like a premenstrual backache. I've also had some mucous like discharge, most likely my mucous plug coming out over a span of days. I'm almost 100% positive the baby has dropped, just because I can breathe easier and I'm feeling more pelvic pressure. I'm also experiencing some on and off sharp pain in the general area of my cervix, which my midwife said is probably my cervix doing some "pre-labor work", i.e. effacing and/or dilating. All of these symptoms are signs that labor's on the way. How exciting! I don't feel fearful of the pain anymore, just curious about labor, and super ready to see our baby. I just can't wait to touch those little feet that are constantly stretching out my skin. 
I've been taking evening primrose oil once in the morning, once in the evening, to soften my cervix. I've been drinking my red raspberry leaf tea to tone my uterus. I've been walking anywhere between 1.5-3 miles a day, to bring on braxton-hicks contractions, which also tone the uterus and can promote cervix change. I'm eating pineapple every day (for cervix softening). I'm massaging my feet and legs and not avoiding the labor induction acupressure points. 
Needless to say, I'm ready for the baby. 
If he came this week, it would be inconvenient for my job, since my last day isn't until Saturday, but I'm sure they would find a way to deal with the inconvenience of my uncovered shifts. I'm really just ready! 
Despite feeling mentally and emotionally ready, and my body making its steps toward physical readiness, I may still have anywhere up to three or four weeks to wait. Something tells me the baby will come sooner than three or four weeks, and I hope that something is right. If not, oh well, either way, he'll come within the month, and completely change our lives forever. 
That statement, I'm sure, is bigger than I can comprehend right now.