Friday, October 10, 2014

The October Garden

Mostly, I've been cleaning up, putting beds to rest, and planting fall bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, and allium. Hopefully those pesky squirrels will leave some in the ground. Several bags of woodchips went around the raspberry canes, with plans to plant more canes in the Spring since they are thinning out. There have been a few small harvests, which I'm loving. The last of the tomatoes, lots of carrots, the second round of radishes I planted, and broccoli, although they are not the huge heads I had been expecting. Instead, they are teeny broccolini. While cleaning up the raspberries I had a nice surprise. The blackberry bushes I thought had been pushed out were hiding underneath, and there were some ripe berries ready for picking and lots more left to ripen.

There have been the Fall flowers too. Lots of black eyed susans that have already been pulled out. They went to seed last year and overtook our garden because of it, which is funny because just a few years ago we had been talking about planting more because we had one lonely plant. Funny how that works! The marigolds (I think I need to plant half the amount next year) and autumn joy sedum have been keeping colour around, and the Fall crocuses have just finished.

I have learned so much this gardening season as I've tried several new to me plants and made a lot of mistakes along the way. There are so many things I'd like to try next year, and so many dreams I have for the future - one day there will be apple trees, an asparagus patch, I'd like to try growing squash (acorn, butternut, pumpkins), and one day those peppers will work!

I really enjoy this time of year, and the Fall garden is no exception. I am looking forward to next year's growing season, but am glad to let it take its time getting here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A New Room

There's a room in our home that has been many things over the years - a guest room, a playroom, a den, a bedroom, a home office, and most recently, a catch-all for all the things you accumulate when you try to squish two families into one place. It was such a wasted space, and I finally had to do something about it. There was a huge purge of things and furniture that had nowhere else to go, and then the fun started!

It was dark and kind of awful. The above photo was taken once the furniture was removed. A fresh coat of paint, some wall paper, ripped up carpets, and re-finished floors made a huge difference. It is so much brighter, which is wonderful for this north facing room.

There are still some things to be done, like taking apart and putting back together the shelving unit I made a few mistakes on yesterday! There is a wee little desk that is waiting to be picked up, a chair that needs moving in, and I have no ideas on the rug/window treatments yet. 

This sideboard/hutch was an unexpected addition (see what I mean about being a catch-all?). I picked it up at a thrift shop on Friday and it fit perfectly in the space between the windows & chinchilla cage. It adds a lot more storage, especially hidden storage, than the shelf I had over here previously (also a thrift shop find).

I cannot wait to show the finished version of this room. Well, if rooms are ever really finished.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The August Garden

When the raspberries slow, and the black eyed susans bloom, I know Summer is winding down. It has been a cooler one this year (which I am so grateful for because I do not enjoy the heat), so the tomatoes weren't as bountiful and the cucumbers didn't last long, but we had some lovely harvests and some new to us produce. Zucchinis actually grew this year! We had several and they are still coming. Our very first garden cauliflower was delicious, and another is growing as I type. There are several bags of raspberries in the freezer, hundreds of peas were shelled, and we are still picking green beans by the bowlful. The lettuce had died down, but is back again with the cooler weather, and although my green peppers never grew, the radishes and carrots did. Just yesterday I planted more radishes and beets (the first batch didn't grow), hoping they will have time before the first frost. I am also trying to re-grow a bunch of celery from a stump. Pinterest tells me it will work!

We're not sure where we will be next Spring, but I've been keeping notes (things like starting the tomato seeds earlier and in larger pots, which plants prefer the cooler weather and can be started earlier, which are not worth growing because they are so cheap to buy - carrots, I'm looking at you - and what varieties I'd like to try instead - I was not too impressed with the climbing green beans I chose) and making plans (if we're here next year, I want to turn the green bean patch into a play space for Josh with tree stumps and a trellis for the beans over head. Also, expanding the tomato space to include more plants). Next up for the garden - getting ready to put the beds to sleep once they're finished, and planting those Spring bulbs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Now We Are One

We did it! We survived the first year! If you had told me even two years ago that I would be celebrating my son's first birthday, I don't think I would have believed it. It was a long journey, but here we are! This amazing little guy is a year old.

I never had a baby shower, and while we planned to have a little 'welcome to the world baby bird!' gathering after he was born, we were a little preoccupied with feeding issues, and just being new parents, so for this one we went all out. We invited friends and family, we had a lovely music circle for the little ones, there was a baby pool turned into a ball pit, there was a theme (twinkle twinkle little star) and matching decor, and lots and lots of handmades. Of course the birthday boy probably would have been fine with a small family gathering (next year!), but he did enjoy himself (although it doesn't look it in the photo..he's not big on food and an entire cake sitting in front of him was a bit much. He didn't so much smash as poke it a bit and then push it away), and it was a fun day.

There were gold stars everywhere, a handmade birthday banner, star shaped food, and twinkle twinkle little star books for the kids to take home with them. I pulled out all my favourite turquoise and white (and even star themed) Pyrex, as well as some milk glass dishes and vases, and there were matching star paper straws, gold star napkins and gold star party hats. I had so much fun putting it together (and I did know it was mostly for me), but when it came down to it, none of that really mattered. Being there in the moment was what was important. I had charged up my camera intending to get shots of everything so later on we could look back on how much fun we had that day, but I was much too busy actually having fun with my boy that we only ended up with a few pictures, and most were taken by other people. We have a few for the family album, and the rest I can remember myself.

And this one year old? My one year old? Is just amazing. He is so interested in everything and amazes me with the things he can do. He challenges and teaches me every day. I'm not going to say that every day we struggled with infertility was worth it because it led to him, because I do not wish that struggle on anyone. I will say I cannot imagine life without him and am so glad we are here. So long year one, I cannot wait to see what year two has in store!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Year Two

Two years ago, I married this amazing guy. To celebrate, we had planned to continue our tradition of visiting the place we were married - this year with Josh on the outside - but it had been raining and humid all day. The thought of a forest full of mosquitoes was not very appealing, so instead we visited my in-laws, went house hunting, and stopped for waffle cones. We will try to pick up the tradition next year, but we did drive by, so I'm counting that as a visit.

This past year has been a blur. So much has brought down our famliy, but the most amazing thing that may ever happen to us happened in July, and changed our lives so much. This guy was born..

After that, the blur resumed because, well, baby! We are sleep deprived, we are anxious new parents, but we are so happy.

I like to follow the yearly tradition gifts, just for fun, and year two is cotton. I think the first two years are pretty straight forward - paper & cotton. Things may get tricky later on, and involve a few substitutions. The Ivory year is not happening. We try to keep things fairly simple and low key with gifts, so I gifted the husband the obvious socks & underwear, a t-shirt he had been wanting, and I crocheted him a manatee out of cotton yarn. I was hoping it would remind him of our Florida honeymoon, and really, I just thought it was funny and adorable.

I used the Crochet Swordfish & Manatee pattern by NeedleNoodles. I didn't have any safety eyes on hand so I used some tiny black buttons.

Next year I need to remember to take photos of us! I always mean to and never do. Must fix!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Breastfeeding, and How I Learned To Be Ok With Not Doing It

I am going to come clean. I used to be one of those super judgey young childless folk who think they would do things so much better. It is not something I am proud of, and am glad I grew out of it fairly quickly with only a little bit of "why do they get a baby and I don't?" whining through the infertility dance. Since I had my own baby there has been a lot of rolling eyes and wondering how I could be so awful and stupid, but I was young and there it is. So not proud of my younger self. One of the biggest judgies for me was the big ole breastfeeding debate. In my early 20s I jumped on the pro-breastfeeding bandwagon to the extreme. I used to read parenting communities on livejournal in its heyday (if you were there, you know what I'm talking about) and bought into all the natural parenting, formula is evil, bottles are horrible, and the but I can't breastfeed claims were crap because only 2% of women really couldn't, the rest just didn't try hard enough, bullshit. Thankfully I never actually spoke up and embarrassed myself, or worse - hurt someone who was doing their best and didn't need judgement from anyone, let alone 21 year old me. I still do think breastfeeding is great and the best option if you can do it. I do think we need more, and better breastfeeding consultants. I think it's important to support breastfeeding so information, help, and the ability to feed your child where ever you please is available, but I now understand reality and choices, and that there are bigger things in this world than whether someone decides to breastfeed or use formula. Most of all, I understand that it's none of my business what someone else decides to do. A side effect of all of this judgey history is that when I found myself in a situation where breastfeeding was not working, I turned on myself, was afraid of what my friends would think of me, and I felt like the worst mother ever. Payback is certainly a bitch, after all.

It never actually occurred to me that I could have issues breastfeeding. I had all sorts of problems getting pregnant, I had issues giving birth (tilted head, forceps that destroyed my nether regions, not cool), but breastfeeding was going to be the one thing I'd have no trouble with. I knew I could produce milk because during a bout of hormonal issues several years before where my prolactin levels soared, I actually did start lactating. I had heard horror stories, but that wasn't going to be me. Nope! Then I tried to feed my baby. After a little practice, I thought we were on our way. He was latching, I was producing colostrum, and I could feel him sucking. We left the hospital thinking all was well (nobody actually checked to see if he was eating okay), but he started dropping weight. He was falling asleep at feedings. Even though he was latching and sucking, he was not getting enough milk. After many lactation consultants with conflicting advice, running around to appointments and specialists, and countless feeding devices, we learned that he had both a tongue and lip tie that were missed by everyone until our midwife friend pointed it out. This prevented a deep latch so he was not able to get milk out successfully. I think I cried when I fed him his first bottle of formula. It felt like a big bottle of failure (I know you're probably rolling your eyes right now, I get it, but this is where I was at the time, in my brand new first time mama state of mind). We had the tongue and lip ties corrected and I continued to try to breastfeed before each feeding, but he would scream and cry and refused to latch. I pumped every three hours around the clock. We used a finger feeder to avoid nipple confusion, we tried a tube feeder taped to my breast to supplement and make it easier for him to eat, we paid $75 several times a week for appointments at the top breastfeeding specialist in the country, and I held out so much hope when the specialists and even our pediatrician told us it could take 6-8 weeks for it to click. When that didn't happen, the specialist started to shame me for not trying hard enough, the feedings had taken over our entire lives, and things were not getting any better. We finally gave up, switched to bottles, and I pumped milk.

One thing you quickly learn when you're pregnant is that your bodily functions become the business of everyone around you (or at least most people seem to think they are). It does not stop once the baby is on the outside. Everyone who visited, even strangers who started up a conversation with me, would ask if I was breastfeeding. Since I already felt badly about it, it made me feel worse to say no. Once I was feeding my son in a local mall and an older lady walked by, clicked her tongue, and said "it's too bad such a little baby is drinking from a bottle". I felt like I couldn't get away from the judgement (more payback for my former judgey tendencies? Reading too much into the situation because of where my head was at that point in time? What happened to all the judgement FOR breastfeeding mothers that I'd heard so much about? Who knows?). Luckily, I had some understanding friends who shared their own stories with me, one who explained that it took eight months for her daughter to breastfeed successfully, and that same Midwife friend who told me I was doing exactly what my son needed. He was healthy and thriving. That became my mantra when I felt down on myself.

Over the next several months I would still try to have Josh latch on before feedings, sometimes taking breaks and trying again a week or two later, but it never did work out. I gave up for good a couple months ago. I told myself I would pump until he was six months old and then see how I felt. Sometimes we had to supplement with formula or our measly freezer stash. I originally kept pumping because I felt guilty that he wasn't breastfed and at least by pumping he'd be getting my milk, but I let that guilt go. I stopped trying to explain or justify our situation. I still pump for him, but no longer every three hours. I stopped the middle of the night pumps, and I'm not going to feel badly when I decide I want to stop completely.

Feeling guilty was not helpful. Being shamed by specialists or breastfeeding activists did not help us magically learn to breastfeed, and truth be told I no longer took them seriously after all the judgement and terrible advice I was given (there are some great specialists and activists out there, don't get me wrong, but I met some real whack jobs along the way). We were/are doing what works for us and I have finally learned that that is okay. Not only is it okay, but it is great! My son is amazing, I am happy, and I no longer care about what anyone else thinks I should be doing with my boobs. Washing/sterilizing bottles sucks, and I still do get the sads when I see beautiful photos of a baby breastfeeding, or hear about how wonderful it is, but that feeling doesn't last long. I wish I would have let go of the guilt right away because I wasted so much time on it. We are all just trying our best, and that's good enough.

Friday, June 13, 2014

In the Garden in June


I love watching this little garden grow. This month I have been enjoying tending and weeding here and there. It's a nice little break at the end of the day. There are bits and pieces that are late or not done at all - like the bush beans I am just getting around to sowing now, at the end of June - but I am trying to take things as they come. There is so much going on with an almost one year old, our extended family (we have been having a rough time lately), and just life as it is, that sometimes things have to wait. I have been filling a notebook with notes on what has worked this year and what hasn't, what I would do differently, and things I would like to try in the future. I am planning out the fall bulbs I want to put into the ground this year, and the flower beds I want to clean up. I am enjoying the tiny harvests we have been getting - strawberry baskets, herbs, the teeny tiny carrots I just had to pull up to see, and soon the radishes I can spy the tops of. I am sad to see the cooler Spring days change into the hot & humid summer, but I am trying to tell myself it is all part of the cycle of the seasons and before I know it the Fall will be here.