25/52 – 28/52

A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week.

Seraphina Violet Juliette…

is 3 months old!

is the size of a slightly above average 6 month old (over 16 lbs, just a hair shy of 26″).

is called ‘The Wee Miss’ by one brother

and ‘Chubbawunka’ by another.

is obsessed with the jar of water I drink from.

is starting to “be interested in human things” according to her sister.

amused us all by clasping her little hands together, fingers interlaced, so that she could suck both thumbs.

likes putting her feet in the grass but hates to lay down in it.

started riding in the Ergo on my back and loves it.  (I keep the sleeping hood up for a bit of extra support since she’s still a bit young for this)

has grey eyes, long eyelashes, dark curls at the nape of her neck and a deep dimple above her top lip.

The little knit dress above was a gift from my dear friend Monica It’s so sweet, I dress her in it every chance I get! 

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since I last posted…

We had a heat wave.  The heat doesn’t do well by me.  It makes my POTS symptoms far worse.  The evenings are somewhat better once it cools off and the sun goes down.  For some one who’s prone to insomnia anyway, getting a bit of energy for the first time at the very end of the day doesn’t really help.  Also there is a mental/emotional component of wanting to have accomplished something, in a household where, let’s face it, there are always things in need of doing.  The heat broke and I slowly started feeling better.  Before I had managed to correct my skewed sleeping habits my body cried fowl and settled me down with a bout of mastitis.  Twice actually. Evidently for best results my body feels I ought not to use it at all day or night.  The second time was a real doozy.  At one point I was hallucinating about masonry architectural details, mostly marble columns and limestone fireplace surrounds.  If I remember correctly (and I may very well not!), I very much wanted to curl up in the fire place surround.  I somehow thought the cool sturdiness of the stone would feel quite good at my back.  The next morning I decided that I’d probably been watching far too much Restoration Home.

Let’s see what else….

Trying to prepare for a big party we are hosting at the end of the month and failing miserably (see above).  There are reports due to the school district for three of the children.  A broken phone.  Issues with our insurance.  Someone stole our entire heating budget- long story- police reports have been filed.  Something broke in Steve’s truck.  I don’t remember what.  I know nothing about cars.  All I know is what the mechanic told us afterwards…that as it broke it severed the break lines.  And I pretty much didn’t hear anything after that.  Well, until the bit about the bill roused me from my shocked and horrified stupor like a refreshing slap to the face.  By the way, supper-dupper fun ride into work for Steve that morning.

Oh, right, and there were the circumstances leading up to this…

Look closely and make sure you get an accurate head count there.  If I’m going to be up in the middle of the night, I suppose I better have company right?  Especially the kind I have to chase around the house before finally trapping between the screen and sliding door of the porch.  I can’t make this stuff up people.  The mouse was actually just a fluke, with the bat being the main target.  I think bats are fascinating, just preferably not in my kitchen please.  All the PETA folks out there will be glad to know that I managed to shimmy the screen door open a bit, without smushing anyone or releasing them back into the house.  So all of the wildlife was able to free itself on it’s own terms, while I went round muttering about moving to the city and taking our chances with the rats.

All of which is to say that I’ve been a wee bit preoccupied….

There have been good things too.  Ordinary, everyday pleasure type of things; baby smiles, sibling laughter, rainy day games, fruits and vegetables ripening, flowers blooming, postcards from my sister in London.  Yesterday I woke up to the sounds of Steve and Màiri Rose working alone together in the garden and chatting away.  So sweet.  Another snippet of conversation from recent days that made me smile…one day when I was ill, Iain very kindly took Seraphina to change her and save me the trip up and down the stairs.  “I am sorry little one, but I am inexperienced with weird baby clothes.”  He then went on and on to Elijah about the mind boggling concept of a dress attached to a onesie.  It made me laugh.  All of the males in my house are completely bewildered by girl clothing.

Some other things I’ve been really thankful for lately….The fresh, crisp breeze that comes in at the windows towards the end of the day.  I love that about the mountains.  It’s just delicious.  And our bedroom!  It’s nearly done and so lovely to be in.  I should take some pictures.

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midsummer

We came home to peonies just on the verge of bursting into full, frothy blossom, blooming peas and the very first ripe strawberries of the season.  We’ve now entered that time of intense growth.  I swear, everything in the garden, including the weeds (!) doubled in size over the last week.

We may have gone a bit over-board with the Summer Solstice treats.  One morning for breakfast it was lavender scones (we modified this recipe) topped with whipped coconut cream and dew covered strawberries fresh from our garden.  The following afternoon peach cobbler for baking day, with the last of the frozen peaches from last year.  There will be more soon!  Delicious ripe peaches on our trees, bought in cases from the orchard, available for snacking whenever we please, oh I can’t wait.  Then there were strawberries, dried in the oven, just because we never tried it before.  One batch came out a little over-done, one a bit under, but we every last one of them anyway.  The summer sweets don’t seem to be stopping any time soon.  We baked strawberry rhubarb pie today.  It was fabulous, but now I’m out of honey, maple syrup and every possible kind of flour.  So, I guess things will let up a bit…at least until shopping day.  I’ve been indulging my sweet tooth these last few weeks.  I’m being quite naughty.  I don’t care and you can’t make me.

Only a child of mine would deem an axe a necessary tool for making floral crowns!  A little bit into the process Elijah decided that some birch bark would really be “just the thing”, moments later he reappeared with axe slung over his shoulder and a decent chunk of tree dragging behind.  Floral crown making somehow morphed into iris leaf plaiting.  They are wondering if it can be wound into a hat like straw.  My pantry is festooned in yards of iris leaf braid.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the experience of being a teenager.  By next year we will have two such creatures in our house.  I myself was a very typical teen.  When my parents went away for the weekend when I was 16, I threw…a dinner party.  I served fettuccine alfredo and garlic green beans (because you’ve got to have your veggies. duh.).  There were other things too, but I distinctly remember preparing the fettuccine and the beans.  Fresh green beans from the little produce market that I worked at part time during the summer.  Because, come on, what kid would serve frozen green beans to guests?!?  Lame-o!  I bought myself a set of new candlesticks to use as a center piece.  They were made from a combination of clear and teal glass in three different heights.  There was piano music playing softly in the background as guests arrived and sparkling cider all chilled and ready to serve with dinner.  I only wish I could remember what I served for desert.

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24/52

A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week.

garden dream

Seraphina Violet Juliette…

has ticklish thighs, discovered by accident during a massage.

and a double jointed thumb just like two of her brothers.  I peeked in the sling to find her sleeping peacefully with it pointing backwards, pressed against her sweet chubby check.

has taken to sucking that very thumb.

rolled over from back to front.

is fascinated with her toes.

makes this sort of surprised cooing noise that sounds just like a dove call.

finally managed to knock my breakfast dish out of my hands.

is leaving me a bit bleary eyed these last few days and wondering what happened to my dependable little sleeper.  It was such a novel and exciting thing to have a baby that slept well!  Fingers crossed that this is just a quickly passing phase!

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by the ocean

Photos of our trip, more or less in chronological order…

Because this is the same trip that we take every year, with many other families, the amount of time that we saw our children was in direct proportion to their ages; Seraphina never left my side, whereas I barely recognized Iain by the end of the week, it had been so long.  He, and Elijah to a lesser degree, were absorbed into the pack of roving teens and tweens that I used to hold as babies and chase as toddlers, almost every one of them taller then me now, with these deep, booming voices.  Each June seems to bring up questions of independence and boundaries, a growing experience for us all.  I find myself watching all of these great big boys and girls and wondering if someday we’ll be making this same journey with our grandchildren underfoot and what that would look like as a truly multi-generational event?  Or will they have long lost interest by then, leaving us old folks alone telling stories of them around a campfire, if the tradition even survives at all?  All I know is that it seems like yesterday that I cradled baby Elijah in my arms while planning the first of these trips.

Màiri and I made a mermaid in the sand.  Her favorite book right now is Jane Ray’s Can You Catch a Mermaid?
I was extremely grumpy about going to the beach and not being able to at least bury my feet in the sand or dip my toes in the water. harrumph.  I’m in compression stockings every day now.  Maybe by next year I’ll be able to experiment a bit, but it was just too risky this year…too much at stake, too many people depending on me.  I’m still a bit…fragile?  Come autumn I think I’ll be able to cultivate a kind of cute look, pairing them with dresses.  At the moment though I’m just that nutter walking around in tights on the beach.  It’s astonishing how much of my wardrobe is medically mandated. (grump. grump. grump.)  So…what to wear?  I certainly wasn’t going to be trotting a swimsuit out there.  As it turns out I needn’t have worried.  Blankets and sweaters featured heavily in Seraphina’s first visit to the Atlantic and I seriously doubt that say, all of the dads huddled in pink children’s beach towels would have judged me whatever I wore!  But of course I didn’t know that in advance.  My very vague thoughts ran somewhere along the lines of the stockings and a nursing cami with some sort of easy-to-nurse-in, long-tunic-y, loose-cover-up-type-thingy over top.

The pattern is a slightly altered Color Twist Kimono Top.  Deciding to make something, spur of the moment in the middle of the night, doesn’t exactly leave you with a large selection of fabric possibilities.  This particular jersey, chosen almost exclusively because there happened to be the right amount of fabric, was originally intended for kid pants.  I will say that’s it’s very, very soft; comfy and nice for little people to cuddle up to.  Steve was thoroughly unimpressed with the whole thing.  When I asked him what he thought, he said, and I quote, “eh”.

So I mentioned the rain.  And the motel.  There was also some bowling at the height of a storm.  Read as: knitting, nursing, sipping tea and watching bowling for some of us.  Which had the advantage of hot tea, not to be underestimated, especially on a day when you woke up in a cold puddle, but on the whole I greatly preferred the days of knitting, nursing and watching kids playing in the sand, in the pond, in the ocean.

She built up quite the reputation among the children for her well honed biking skills.  I love watching this girl of mine, so strong and confident in her body and her abilities.  Who am I to tell her what she can’t do? Well, alright, sometimes…but mostly I just watch and am in awe of the grace and ease that she takes for granted.  Such a gift.

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23/52

A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week.

I left her with Iain while I ran into the house to fetch something.  This is how I found them when I came back.

This week Seraphina…

went on the longest car ride of her life, twice.

met more people then she’s probably ever even seen before.

saw the ocean for the first time.

dipped her toes in wet sand and a bit of still water.

went camping for the first time.

spent her first night in a motel after our tent completely flooded.

was told that she looks just like me.  A first that I found inexplicably delightful.

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22/52

A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week.

Seraphina…

weighed in at 15 lbs as of the beginning of the week.

persists in disregarding my pleas to please, please take her time growing up, by regularly behaving like a much older child.

honored us with her very first wide-awake belly laughs

and amused us be occasionally forgetting how to laugh and come out with a huge smile, accompanied by something between a rhythmic squeak and coughing!

still loves bath time.

is pure joy.

I had plans for so many posts this past week and none of that seems to have worked out.  We are away for a bit as of tomorrow.  All of the preparations kept me busy, busy.  Enjoy your week!

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Feeding Our Families ~ Economics

We recently embarked on a whole family homeschooling project.  It was a little bit practical math, a little home ec. and a lot of honing of critical thinking skills.  The premise was really very simple, it’s easy to figure out how much we spend on groceries in a given week or month, our goal here was to figure out where exactly that money goes.

For two weeks, we calculated the cost of each and every meal we ate.  We kept all of the receipts in an envelope, on a clipboard, along with our lists.  When we sat down to a meal or snack someone would grab the clip board and a calculator and off we would go.  We included every ingredient that it was reasonably possible to figure out a monetary sum for.  Where we would normally “drizzle” something or add a “splash”, we started measuring that drizzle or splash and then figuring out exactly how much said drizzle of olive oil cost.  We added in the cost of a teaspoon of vanilla and a tablespoon of lemon juice.

There were a few things that were really beyond our ability to figure out, at least without driving ourselves crazy.  I drew the line at trying to calculate the cost of salt per meal, as monitoring and measuring each individual’s salt usage seemed a bit much.  I also have no way of knowing how much it cost to make a jar of peach jam last year.  Nor do I have much of a chance at figuring out the cost of bananas, bought by the case months ago and frozen.  Without knowing exactly how many bananas were in the case, it’s hard to say what the three we added into our smoothie amounted to.  But we were able to figure out mostly everything else.  We came up with a grand total for each meal and then divided it by the number of people eating to get a price per person.  At the end of the day we did a full day total.  If a by product of the food got used again, we went back and marked the original entry with an X, allowing us to really see what gave us the most bang for our buck, if you will.  So the roast chicken from Monday gets an X when I make hash on Tuesday and another when I make stock on Wednesday and so forth.   The results were surprising!

I’ve always felt guilty about making my cashew yogurt.  Cashews are expensive after-all.  But it turns out that a container of cashews being the basis for an entire meal made for one of our lowest cost per-person meals.  One of our highest?  Brussels sprouts!  This never would have occurred to me, as I always think of eating more vegetables as being cost effective.  Granted on this occasion we did add in bacon, which didn’t help the cost.  Because they are priced by the pound, we had been just scooping them into a bag, until we had a meals worth, without realizing we had packed away like $16 worth of sprouts!  All of which disappeared in a single sitting easily, without so much as a leftover to redeem itself by.  Now Brussels are out of season in our area at the moment and we normally wouldn’t be buying them at all at this time of year, but there was a special request and we obliged.  It’s like when a house guest came to me concerned because a 1/2 lb of spinach had been left out on the table and the kids kept coming by and taking huge fistfuls.  Seriously, what am I going to do, stop my kids from eating spinach?  I think not.  Like wise, they ask for Brussels sprouts as a special treat (really, I’m not making this up) and I wouldn’t think twice about putting them on the list, at least that is, until now.

It turns out that we don’t save nearly as much as I had hoped growing all of our greens for six months of the year.  Not that I have any intention of stopping, but that was a disheartening discovery.

What to do with all of this information?  Well it’s helping us to better define what we should enjoy occasionally as a treat and what we should focus on as everyday foods.  It seems that a couple of our regular meals were huge money drains.  It has also helped to shape our garden plans.  Hint: we’re growing a lot of Brussels sprouts.  I think that knowing exactly how much a teaspoon of vanilla extract costs is just the kick in the pants I needed to finally, finally start making my own, after years of just talking about it.  The whole thing was a really empowering and educational experience and I strongly recommend it to others.          

Just because I feel like I should have some actual food represented in my Feeding Our Families post, here we have a Blackened Salmon Bowl (served on a plate!).  In theory this should be an expensive meal.  However, by cutting out some of the more expensive ingredients, i.e. no truffle oil, using salmon that was purchased in season during a sale, playing up the veggies and serving it alongside asparagus from our garden, it was actually quite reasonable and very enjoyable.

Expect posts this week by:

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21/52

A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week.

Seraphina…

stunned us all when at 2 months and 1 day, she went from laying propped up on a nursing pillow to sitting up, all by herself.  Later that same day she rolled over from front to back.

is usually content to cuddle with anyone in the house, but went through a few days this week where she was feeling out of sorts and wanting only mama.

has been kicking off fewer blankets lately, not because the kicking has slowed down, but because the top edge of the blanket is likely to be firmly anchored in her fists.  Now the game is more like a tug of war with herself!  She’s holding on to things with a lot more awareness and attention and bringing almost everything within reach to her mouth.

has been deemed “the kick-y-est baby ever” by her Father, to which I say, “I told you so!”

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cornmeal cuddlesome

Pattern: Cuddlesome

Yarn: Swish DK, color- ‘Cornmeal’

She is around a week old in the first set of pictures and 7 weeks in the second.  What a difference just a bit of time makes!  This is the knitting project I was working on when I went into labor.  I had nothing but one wee mitt left and delusions of it being her first outfit.  The yarn is superwash after all (a very odd choice for me!), so if I finished by a certain point, there would still be time to wash it and have it ready to clothe a new babe.  At some point I made the choice to stop working on it.  I knew I was being ridiculous.  I often am.  I’m sensible enough to recognize when I’m being ridiculous, but not quite sensible enough to stop myself from being so in the first place.  I could have continued to knit.  I was still capable of it, but I chose to let go.  Other things were more important at the time.  Nothingness mostly, allowing myself to be totally lost in time and space.

When I did pick it back up again, a couple of days later, I found a tiny hole in that wee mitt.  I suspect I had been in the middle of a stitch when a contraction came on and after holding it in my lap as I breathed my way through, I must have picked it back up and knit the same stitch again without realizing I had failed to slip the last stitch off the needle.  I recognize that particular flaw from the children’s knitting when they were first learning.  They would get distracted halfway through and suddenly a perfect little hole, accompanied by an extra stitch would appear in their work.  I couldn’t figure out how they were doing it at first, until finally I caught one of them in the act and suddenly it all made sense.  I needed only to back track 30 stitches or so to fix it.  It really was no bother at all, but somehow, in my soupy, sappy, postpartum state, I couldn’t bring myself to do that; to take away that little hint of a memory, evidence of such a monumental place and time.  Even though it had absolutely no significance to anyone else, and I’d be sure to remember it just the same.  So the hole remained.  I sewed it up from the inside, you can feel a little bump where the flaw exists.  In those early days I often rubbed it while holding her hand, in something that can only be described as awe.

She is sleeping in this as I type and I know she’ll only get another wear or two out of it, she so very tall already and growing by the day.  I’ll be sad to pack this one away.  It’s somehow like boxing up her newness.

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