Chikaming Township, MI

We went away for a quiet family weekend to Southwestern Michigan over Memorial Day weekend. I found a quaint cottage and we were able to walk to the beach on Lake Michigan. C loved the sand and indulged us with a few quick toe touches of freezing Lake Michigan water. We hit up both Greenbush Brewing and Haymarket for lunches (and growler fill ups!) and cooked in for breakfast and dinner. We had very low expectations of going on vacation with a kiddo – we were home each afternoon for nap time, and we spent most of that time reading on the porch. We also went over to Warren Dunes State Park and did a great 4 mile hike; although it was a little too long for C. If we had realized we were hiking 2 miles thru sand dunes, we could have foreseen that and planned a better break. Overall, it was a lovely vacation, and no, I’m not telling you where the name of the cottage we rented. It’s our little secret!

What I Read: May ’17

The Master Switch by Tim Wu: This dense tome covers over a century of technological progress, identifying the cycle of openness – closed systems that are a byproduct our capitalist society. “With all our media now traveling a single network, an unprecedented potential is building for centralized control over what Americans see and hear. Could the Internet—the entire flow of American information—come to be ruled by one corporate leviathan in possession of “the master switch”?” I certainly learned a lot and enjoyed stretching myself with this masterful resource.

*I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-Ha Kim: This novel is fairly short and was something I selected for Read Harder ‘Read a book set 5000 miles away from your location’ and I really did enjoy it. It was not exactly my style, more of a thriller, but it enjoyed reading it would love to check out other books by Kim.

Positivity: Top Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life by Barbara Fredrickson: This book was in the ‘parenting’ section at our local library; where they display books for adults in the middle of the kids section and I grabbed it on a whim. I found parts of it to be erudite but there were loads of tips in allowing room for positivity to breath and to better weather bumps life throws you.

*Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, Mai’a Williams: This anthology was gripping, challenging and convicting. These stories are so important – worth a read (although probably worth skipping if you’re TTC, some graphic descriptions of birth and breastfeeding). 

*Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich: I love her writing some much and this shorter memoir was highly enjoyable. Her way of describing the Lake of the Woods is breathtaking and enchanting. A must read.

*Black Boy by Richard Wright: This was a hard sit and my selection for a book published before 1945 and a frequently challenged / banned book in my country. I can see why it’s been banned – Wright paints a vibrant image of life of Black Americans during the nineteen teens and twenties. While filled with several hard moments to read, it is a real version of this American life and is part of our national narrative.

*The Agüero Sisters by Christina Garcia: I zoomed through this book in the car and while I loved Dreaming in Cuban, I didn’t connect with either of the main characters.

Baby C: Month 11

Likes: playing in the pool / bath / water table, yogurt and cottage cheese, selfie cam (baby’s first selfie!), having Mama or Daddy ask Google Home to play animal sounds

Dislikes: nothing new really lately…although, now that I’ve said that!

Who You Saw: We had a very quiet month at home! A few friends and their sweet little one came over for breakfast at our house, and there was only one melt down over sharing your toys

Places Your Traveled: We were lucky enough to get in two great hikes at Blacklick this month.

Milestones: First ER visit for you, there’s been a lot of upset tummies in our house this month. I’m very grateful to have a wonderful doctor and team in our corner. Other milestones include a lot more mimicking and putting things ‘away’ – like your favorite sippy cup in our hamper! 

big drama, little drama, big drama

In late April, we noticed a swarm of flying bugs in one corner of our attached garage. First pass, they looked like flying ants – we had seen ants in the basement and it was one of the first hot days of the year. We spray with a fancy pants green bug killer. It does not work. There is Big Drama and much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

We decide to call the professional bug killers to come inspect and lo! and behold! it is termites. Our home inspectors told us it was water damage so, be ye not as cheap as us. Hire the actual bug experts to come tell you if a house you are buying has wood destroying insects. And don’t go with the inspector your realtor gets kick backs from.

The damage was localized to the garage but there was evidence of an older tunnel on the other side of the house so we decided to treat around the whole property. I said, “I never want to see you guys again.” We vacillated for a while on just doing where they currently were and doing the whole thing. The next week, M removes part of our deck, as instructed, and they come out to treat the house. It takes hours! There’s so much drilling! But I patted myself on the back for deciding to pursue the right, but more expensive option. Such great homeowners we are!  This was Little Drama.

Four days later, I’m in the basement, looking for some something and notice, three big holes in our basement ceiling where they have drilled thru the ground above and into our basement. Meaning they sprayed bug killing shit into my basement. You betcha this was Big Drama. We called our salesman, who sent his boss out to our home, on Mother’s Day (it’s that serious). They both came back the next day to start the cleaning up process. They had the carpet professionally cleaned and hand washed everything that could be salvaged. We did lose 3 backpacking backpacks (including the one that M used to hike the AT), a sleeping bag and a tent. It’s so bad.

TL/DR: Don’t ever tell anyone working on your house you never want to see them again. They’ll end up knowing your baby’s nap schedule.

Northern Star Sour Cherry

I probably should wait at least a year to write this post but that’s not what happening here.

I knew that one thing I wanted in our yard were more edibles in our landscaping. One thing that I knew would take time to get established were fruit trees so I knew we needed to get at least one in this year. When I noticed Home Depot was having a sale on fruit trees, we scooted over to pick one up. I had looked at a local boutique garden center but they didn’t have any cherry trees in stock (more decorative trees) when we were looking.

The information that came with the tree said to fertilize it and while I would rather not use chemical fertilizers, we purchased a very small tree and I knew it probably did need it. We did build a compost bin and it’s already working hard for us so hopefully we can simply compost it next year.

I planted this myself and am stupid proud of myself. We placed it in a place in the yard where there is room for more trees (M, I want more fruit trees). We’ve had to make other investments in the house so far, so we’re not quite able to dive into ripping up the lawn and filling it full of raised beds this spring but I’ve got my seed catalogs and we’ll be ready for next year.

Today, I spotted these! We might get cherries this year!

dispatches from suburbia, vol. 1

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Here’s one of those “I said I’d never! and then, I did, and hey, it’s not so bad’ essays. I grew up in ‘the city’ and I’ve always been so proud of that and I dreaded moving to the suburbs. I grew up on a quiet little street where I remember when the first family that didn’t look exactly like us moved in. Two other kids were on our block where in my same grade for 9 years at the private school; nearly all the others when to the same school, or another private one equally nearby, just in the opposite direction. All our houses where old and charming and all the dads (I don’t remember any families that were not 1 mom and 1 dad) got in their sensible cars and drove to their jobs as lawyers, doctors, professors or accountants. There was a factory at the end of our street but we didn’t know anyone who worked there.

I was so afraid of these suburban houses, all made of ticky tacky, all the same. Where all the moms stayed home and brought Pinterest to life while the dads got into their sensible cars and drove to their jobs as lawyers, doctors, professors or accountants.

And then.

I bought a house in the suburbs. Granted, it isn’t the fanciest suburb off 270 but while all our houses were built in the 1950’s and look do really much the same, I’m surrounded by families with grandparents, kids and grandkids living together, families where mom works downtown and dad stays home, families with deep religious convictions that are not Protestant Christian, that are Trump supporters, that are Hillary supporters.

I’ve started doing that thing I *hate* about suburbanites, I’m calling it my ~town~. I’ve meet with local City Council candidates and talked about revitalizing our Main Street. I walk to the park to push the kidlet on the swings, I know the waitresses at our local bistro. There’s a Lustron house around the corner.

And you know what, I don’t know why I had so much vitriol for the ‘burbs. Everyone is doing the damn best they can. No matter where I’ve been in the world from here at home in CMH, in Madrid, in London, in my favorite apartment in Chicago, in Beijing – everyone wants the same things for their kids. Fresh air to breath, clean water and healthy food, good schools and a fulfilling career. We’re all doing the best we can to give that to our kids.

 

i see you

I was talking with a group of my smart friends who identify as mothers recently and we were lamenting that no one is telling our stories. I mean, no really is – unless they are selling us bleach or diapers or organic cotton baby bonnets but then, it’s only through uplifting commercials with cute moms and their babies.

To the mama wiping butts and wiping noses and wiping butts again; holding a babe who won’t nap anywhere but your arms, not even in the $120 baby carrier you Primed one sleepless night, I see you.

To the mother who is frustrated with the balancing of work, child care, finding help, asking for help, spinning plates that always feel just a hairsbreadth from toppling over, I see you.

To the mom wiping high chairs down 3 times a day, carefully steaming sweet potatoes into purees, wiping thrown foods up, swearing it isn’t about the broccoli, I see you.

To the parent trying to still be a person, outside of the butt wiping and sleep managing and hair falling out and tantrums and work-doing, I see you.

What I Read: April ’17

Naturally Sweet Food in Jars: 100 Preserves Made with Coconut, Maple, Honey, and More by Marisa McClellan: This was a gift and I enjoyed reading it. We’ve got our first real garden in and I hope to preserve a lot more this summer.

Creating a Beautiful Mess: Ten Essential Play Experiences for a Joyous Childhood: Some of these are really easy (make a mess or have a tender relationship with a lovie) and some are pricey (blocks!) but I’m so glad I read this book. Play and engaging with Baby C are things I do every day and the reminder to engage joyously was well received.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald; I listened to this as an audiobook and I’m not sure it was a great fit for that. I found it difficult to connect to the characters and found the way the relationships shake out a bit trite.

*The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa: This is “the story of a twelve-year-old girl’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion…Decades later in New York City on her eleventh birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious envelope from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father.” It was hard to read a book about WWII and the Holocaust during these political times but I selected these books and I was determined to sit with that feeling of dis-ease. Reading the heart-wrenching stories of refusing refugees caused harm and death is something every American should do, especially in these xenophobic times.

Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Ann Mah: I also listened to this one as well but found this memoir about a year in Paris to be incredibly dull. The author finds herself alone in Paris for a year as her State Dept husband is unexpectedly (?) deployed to Iraq and she complains traveling alone for pages and pages. Many many people would love to have their expenses paid to be in Paris for a year – I found her lamentations tedious. Food descriptions were great.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo: I have nothing and novels to say ’bout this one.

How to Make Soap: A Step by Step Guide to a Variety of Beautiful Soaps and Other Bath Recipes by Sarah Harper: I really enjoyed this book but will have to alter any recipes I use as she relies heavily on palm oil and that is not a product I will purchase.

Baby C: Month 10

Likes: Bathtime (as ever always), playing ‘buffalo’ with Daddy, frozen peas, holding pens and highlighters, swinging at the park

Dislikes: having something taken away from you (even if it’s not something you should have been able to grab in the first place), having your diaper changed,

Who You Saw: we had Easter with the family and then one of my best friends came for a visit. It was such a great visit!

Places You Traveled: Nowhere new…gotta work on that!

Milestones: Walking – oh man, am I of two minds on this one. Part of me is SO PROUD of you an part of me is very sad you no longer look like a baby. You are babbling like a pro and started clapping this month!