1

In The Land of Autumn-Fall

Outside it is the Land of Autumn-Fall. Inside, it is just the beginning of Maketober.

I spent all Saturday canning. Let me tell you, canning is not for everyone. You stand on your feet for hours, lift heavy things, do a bunch of mindless repetitive stuff, sweat a lot and – if you’re like me – burn yourself a few times. There should be a way to count this as some kind of workout, right?

It was a beautiful autumn day on Saturday. October is truly one of the more spectacular months here in the Pacific Northwest and it almost angers me to have to spend a day inside canning. But when you have apples sitting in your garage for two weeks waiting to be processed, you do what you have to do. Don’t get me wrong. I like canning. I like feeling that connection to women in my past. My Mom and second Mom Vicki (whom I miss dearly) canned during my childhood and I have warm memories of the smells in the kitchen, their chatter, and the wonderful things we consumed all winter long from those colorful jars they so reverently stored away for the time of need. I remember helping them from time to time, but then drifting off out the screen door to some more enticing childhood adventure. I vaguely understood, but did not appreciate, all the time and love they put into the food we ate.

For many years I did not think about canning. I went to college, then grad school, but didn’t feel the desire to make a home anywhere. Shortly after my husband and I were married, Vicki passed away from cancer. I’m ashamed to say I was an awful “daughter” and lived in denial for a good portion of her sickness; until it was too late to sit with her and get to know her, provide her some comfort. I was so selfish. It is one of the biggest regrets of my life. But I found a way to make peace with this broken bit of my heart. I honor Vicki’s memory every time I can something in my kitchen.

It started with Pickled Beets. These were my favorite things from Vicki’s kitchen (my Dad’s was her blackberry jam). She would give us crates of canned goods at Christmas time. Foods she had cultivated from seed to jar. Always a labor of love: grown with love, made with love, given with love, and received with love. I craved those beets, those gifts of love, when she was no longer with us. To feed my hunger and honor her memory, I decided to make pickled beets using her recipe. I’d like to say that I had a transcendental moment the first time I made these, but I’d be lying. It was messy, hot, frustrating, and yet ultimately rewarding. And every autumn when I make pickled beets, I get one step closer to forgiving myself, because I know that I honor Vicki every time I do. Somewhere she is watching over me and loving me despite the way I failed her so abysmally when she needed me most.

The beets will be coming in tomorrow and I expect to spend the upcoming days pickling. Saturday was Caramel Apple Butter, a first time recipe for me. Like Vicki, I make these with love. And every Christmas, with that same love, I gift them in baskets to everyone in our family. Thank you Vicki, for leaving me with this lasting legacy. It is truly priceless.

3

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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 Happy Valentine’s Day bloggy peeps!

Of course it wouldn’t be a true holiday if I didn’t create some kind of fiendishly stressful deadline for myself by deciding I needed to make a gift for everyone in Knittymunchkin’s preschool class.  And never mind how, in the spirit of love and kindness, Knittymunchkin asked me to include everyone’s siblings as well.  How could I possibly shy away from showing him how much fun giving can be just ’cause I’d rather be doing something much more glamorous than crocheting 25 heart pockets out of dishcloth cotton?  Just kidding.  You know I totally love doing it. Why else would I suddenly be wondering what the hell I’m going to do with myself when he goes to kindergarten and I can’t possibly expect to actually make gifts for each kid for each and every holiday.  Heaven forbid I find an actual household chore to accomplish with my free time!

We filled these little heart pockets with a mini bag of m&m’s and a paper valentine that Knittymunchkin had picked out a couple weeks earlier.  Leave it to my son to eschew the Spiderman, Ninja Turtles, and even Phineas & Ferb valentines in favor of cute puppies and kitties.  But that’s Knittymunchkin for ya.  I actually think it’s pretty sweet.  And many of the parents thanked us after the school party for including the siblings in our gifting.  I don’t know about Knittymunchkin, but I felt pretty warm and fuzzy spreading the love around this Valentine’s Day.

Hope you and everyone you love is having a wonderful day today too!!

5

Time Keeps On Slipping Into The Future

Being without a traditional job any longer is sometimes kind of surreal for me.  Deeply ingrained, after years of getting up early and making my way to work, is that feeling of needing to go to bed on time.  No staying up late on a school night!  You would think that freedom from that routine would make time stand still; no schedule but the rhythm of life with my son.  Instead I find that I blink and 2 weeks have passed.  Where does the time go?  Lately I’ve been feeling really anxious about the things that I don’t get around to doing during the day. Little chores, correspondence, always having to apologize for not getting something done.  It’s keeping me awake at night and it’s insidiously robbing me of my sleep.  To combat this I’ve gone back to my mainstay: listmaking.  I know that there is no possible way I can ever have a clean slate, things will always accumulate faster than I can complete them, but having them on paper rather than creeping around in my mind really helps put a lid on my anxiety.  I’ve promised myself that I’ll complete one thing off the list each day, no matter how big or small, and hopefully this will make me feel better about the time that seems to be slipping through my fingers.
 

Let's Eat!!


 
We did have a bit of an interesting event this week though, to break up our little homey routine.  Viruses, viruses everywhere (and maybe a little Bacteria too)!  Now don’t get me wrong.  I loves me some pink.  But not when that pink precedes eye, as in pinkeye.  Ugh.  Little Mister woke up Wednesday morning with his poor little eye all crusted shut :(  I wiped both eyes clean, but after an hour they still looked a little swollen and his right eye was tearing like crazy.  I got us an appointment with the pediatrician and had a momentary surge of maternal pride when the doctor told us that Knittymunchkin was the happiest baby she had ever seen :)  She told us he probably has pinkeye and wrote us a prescription for some drops.  No idea where he might have gotten it. We don’t take him many places and he’s not around other children at all.  I’ve never had it in my entire life!  Anyway, Little Mister is so sweet.  Other than being more tired than usual and wanting more cuddles, you would never know that he wasn’t feeling well.  What a trooper!  We started the drops Wednesday night and by the next morning he already looked better and was back to his busy little determined self.  So back off Señor Pinkeye!  There’s no room for your kind of pink around here.
 
Though the time since I last posted has blurred together for the most part, it’s been a happy, and often sleepless time, mixed liberally with countless joyous moments.  Knittymunchkin is truly a blessing in my life and I am so grateful that I finally figured out how I felt about having a child and being a mom.  At the risk of sounding trite, there really is no greater experience left that I could ask for.  This is it.

16

7 Weeks! Also Known As 101 Things Progress: 1 of 101

Knittymunchkin - 6 weeks and sleeping


 
Wow.  It’s been 7 weeks and 1 day since our sweet little boy was born!  When I look back, it’s astonishing to me how quickly the time has gone.  Our month spent in the Special Care Nursery, each moment feeling like a year of agonizing anguish and effort that would never end, seems like nothing but a blip on Knittymunchkin’s monitor screen.  We are so happy to have him home with us finally, and though the last 3 weeks have been a maze of sleepless nights, dirty diapers, restless baby noises, and checking our sleeping baby 1 gajillion times through the night to make sure he’s still breathing (paranoid new parents that we are), there have been lots of laughs, and plenty of love to go around.  R. Darling was able to spend 3 more weeks at home with us before having to go back to work yesterday and I feel so lucky, not only to have his amazing support and wonderful help during those weeks of adjustment, but also grateful that he was able to be here to experience everything and make lasting memories for himself of that first part of Knittymunchkin’s life.
 

Our Sweet Boy


 
And now I am officially a “Stay At Home Mom”.  What a bewildering transition this has been for me.  I have never once considered myself ambitious or career-driven, nor have I ever felt that my occupation defined me in any way.  I have always been content knowing that I do what I do and that makes me neither better or worse than someone else.  People inevitably find my occupation interesting though, so perhaps I found more confidence in myself through that interest than I realized.  But I’m finding that I am uncomfortable telling people that I stay at home now, that I’m unemployed.  It makes me feel mysteriously “less than”.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have always had the utmost admiration for stay at home Moms and really do feel that it is a choice you make out of love for child.  And how can someone possibly think less of that sacrifice?  I certainly don’t.  And it is most definitely more work than a conventional full-time job. Yet, when the title is applied to myself I feel anxious.  Less interesting.  Maybe that will change as I get more comfortable in my new role.  But either way, I know that I’m making the right decision for myself and our family and that gives me great consolation.
 

We spend a lot of time doing this.....


 
For now, we are spending lots of time napping when possible and getting used to our days at home together.  It’s been another big adjustment for me to have someone so completely and totally dependent on me being there at every moment.  I was prepared for this challenge, but it still takes some getting used to.  I sometimes don’t change out of my pj’s all day or even get out of bed for hours at a time.  Forget makeup. And showering every day has even become a forgotten prospect; something low on my list of other “have to’s”.  I rarely, if ever, leave the house and I’m afraid I’ll forget how to talk to other humans if I’m not careful. But I’ll get there. I’m already getting better about letting the baby fuss a little bit if I’m doing something, rather than dropping everything to comfort him.  That one’s still a struggle because I hate to have him crying, but I know it’s not the end of the world if he does it for a little bit.  This mothering thing is definitely exhausting!  But it’s all worth it in the end when I’m rewarded with one of these…..
 

It's all worth it for one of these!


 
And now, I am free to cross the first thing off my 101 Things in 1001 Days list:  “Grow a Munchkin”!  And boy do I think he’s a cutie ;)

20

In For The Long Haul

Just chillin'


 
Hard to believe that Little Mister has been with us for close to 2 weeks now.  He gets a bit stronger every day and I’m constantly amazed by what a little personality he has already developed.  I never would have guessed how deeply I could fall in love with someone else (other than R. Darling) in such a short period of time.  Oh sure, people told me that would happen, but I found it hard to believe the quality and strength of that bond could emerge so quickly.  I could lose hours just staring at his sleeping face and it kills me to have to leave him in the nursery each night to go home.  He already knows my voice and his eyes search my face when I hold him.  I watch each expression ravenously, soaking in his sweetness and laughing at his emerging animation.  I used to say that all newborns are ugly and that it would take them a few weeks to finally get cute, but I figured that every parent still thinks theirs is the cutest of all no matter what other people think.  And boy was I right!  These pics just don’t do him justice.  Yes, I’m a proud mama!
 

Bundle of joy!


 
All this makes up for what is most definitely going to be a long haul.  I have been given a “camping out” room which is basically a closet I can pass out in, between visits to the nursery to try to tempt Knittymunckin into breastfeeding, and pumping like all get out to supply him with what he needs to get big and strong.  I spend at least 14 hours a day there, only going home after his 8 PM feeding.  And once back at home I continue the cycle of pumping every 3 hours throughout the night.  I’m lucky if I get 2.5 hours of sleep at a time and it’s usually much much less.  It’s rough, but I do it for our little guy and I’m trying my best to hang in there.  We probably have at least 2 more weeks of this before we can bring him home and by the end I will be in my “camping room” 24-7 since he should (hopefully) be able to breastfeed for all his meals.
 
Until then, I wake up in the nighttime darkness to go to the milking parlor.  That’s what I’m calling our spare bathroom because that’s where spend my nights hooked up to the pump.  It’s important to have a sense of humor about these things I think, and the similarities to Old Bessie hooked up to the milking machine are just undeniable.  If I don’t laugh about something daily, it’s too easy to cry instead.  My husband, hearing me refer to the milking parlor, made me a couple signs for the door as a surprise one day.  I laughed so hard I forgot how tired I was.  Isn’t he the best?  Not only that, but Tuesday when he was home doing chores while I was at the hospital with Knittymunchkin, he completely cleaned and rearranged our bedroom the way that I’ve been imagining it for the past year or two.  What an amazing surprise to come home to that!  Do my boys know how to take care of me or what?
 

The Milking Parlor entrance


 
Hope all of you have some wonderful Valentine’s Day plans today!  Me, I have a date with two boys in the nursery ;)