Monthly Archives: October 2010

a few things

So the house in the country was just not meant to be. We think the owners liked us, and we also think there wasn’t much interest in the house, but there’s plenty of reason. If one is into really rustic living, if one has a ton of time for hard-core yard work, if one doesn’t mind serious drafts or lots of bugs flying through one’s home, this might be just the place. But we’re not looking for a project rental, and that’s what this was. The property was so cool; it used to be an apple orchard, so it has a number of fruit trees on it, and the house had some charm, but it was so old and hadn’t been kept up. The kitchen was just unworkable, and there was no closet to speak of in the master (and none at all in the 2nd room). But beyond all these issues, Baby Genius didn’t like it. He had a funny worried look on his face in this place, and at one point, he got scared and needed to leave. My mom walked him around outside for the rest of the time we were there.

Oh, but there was the best chicken coup (I seriously was entertaining raising chickens for a minute), and a big garden, and did a I mention the fruit trees? Oh well. The search continues, and now we know a little more about what we want–and don’t want (leaky windows with no screens when living in the country would be among the things on our don’t want list).

In other news, Baby Genius is beginning to feel better, but his nose remains a fountain of ick. Poor guy. He is also in love with his Music Together teacher. He reached for her at the end of class today and once in her arms would not come back to me, J, or my mom. He simply waved at us as if to say, “I’ve found my dream mommy. You may take your leave!”

Finally, I think I’m gearing up for NaBloPoMo. I’ve done it every year since I started blogging. Why stop now?

And for now, that is all. I’m so very tired.

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Again? Really?

Our poor, sweet boy is sick again. This is starting to be ridiculous.

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the state of the move

So we’re still moving, but not for a little while. After our shady landlord heard from many tenants who apparently know tenant law a little better than he does (there were big problems with the options he gave us after raising our rent more than ten percent), he gave us the option to take a six month lease with no penalty for early withdrawal. We took this option so as not to have to move a week before J has to grade finals. We’re now aiming for moving at the end of the year and starting the new year in our new home.

The town where we’re moving is everything that is great about our county. It’s still in wine country, but closer to the coast, meaning just fifteen minutes to the beach. There is one central town with great little neighboring towns, all of which are a little on the crunchy side. Two-mom families, for most of that area, are not all that abnormal. People are nicer, more laid back, and very progressive. There are also these lovely rural areas just minutes outside of the towns where you can live in the country but still have the convenience of being close to town. The schools are amazing–one of them won awards for being the most sustainable school in the region, and they all have crazy-fabulous gardens and cool arts programs. Every cool cultural event you can imagine happens there, from celtic music  and blues festivals to great theater to who knows what else. All we know is that every time we see some event we want to attend, it’s happening in that area (case in point: there is an LGBT Halloween party for all ages, and kids are welcome–yeah). And the farms, oh the farms. There are all kinds of orchards and farms and patches and ranches–the local fresh food is to die for. And while it would seem such a crunchy little town might lack the refinement we have come to appreciate in our little retirement community for the wealthy and wine-soaked, it doesn’t. There are fabulous restaurants, world-class wines, art galleries, and just about anything we could want in a town, but without the excess of tourists. In short, it’s our little heaven on earth, and we’re so excited to finally be moving there.

We’re starting to see a few rentals available toward the end of the year, and since BG’s music class is in this town on Saturdays, we’re beginning to do some research. Last weekend, we had a drive-by look at a place out in the country. It would be some seriously rural living with only wood heat, but there was a pomegranate tree dripping with ripe fruit, and a fig tree that was lush and full. It’s on a full acre, and it’s only ten minutes from the heart of the main town. It would be a very different sort of life for us: much more quiet, much more privacy, some peace and solitude and lots of room for Baby Genius, the cats, and us to run. There would be ample room for a garden, inspiration for canning and creating. But it would also be hard work. There’s no manicured lawn–it’s wild. There would be wood to stack, fires to build, and all of those other things to do to make a home in the country. We might have to build a fence. Walking to the store or to town would not be a possibility. So there’s that. I know what much of this is like because it’s how I grew up, and to me, it sounds a little less romantic and a little more like work. On the other hand, J loves the idea because she has never had this, and when I see it through her eyes, I start to love it too. It might be just what we need.

So we’re really considering a move to the country. It might be this house, or it could be another one that has just a couple of more convenient amenities (I love fireplaces, but prefer for this to be an optional means of heating), but it’s exciting thinking about a new sort of life. Anything beyond this tourist haven, this wine taster’s mecca, this town where no one pushes a stroller costing less than $2000 will be a very, very delightful change.

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reproducing baby genius’ favorites

I have wanted to write about our adventures in eating with Baby Genius for months! Now here we are, and he eats many of the same things we do, so it is high time that I begin writing about this journey. I suppose I’ll be doing it a little backwards. Baby Genius has had a lot of dietary restrictions–more so than a lot of babies due to his cow’s milk protein sensitivity (which was so severe for his first six months or so that I had to give up dairy) as well as a suspected gluten sensitivity. We waited until after his first birthday to introduce dairy or wheat because we wanted to make certain that his system had a chance to mature so that he could deal with these things (and he’s still sensitive to some dairy).

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that as BG began enjoying more solids, we couldn’t just give him anything. We wanted, for example, to try him on veggie burgers, but most commercial veggie burgers contain either dairy or gluten or both. But I stumbled across two varieties that didn’t. There was Amy’s Bistro Burger, which was mostly rice, mushrooms, and a whole lot of salt, and then Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burger. He liked the first, but once I found the second, we were in trouble. The boy devoured these things. The beautiful thing about them is, one, they are made of all real ingredients–things you can easily identify, and things that many people have readily on hand; and, two, they are mostly vegetables (with just a tad of corn, cornmeal, and oat bran). Seriously, these things have zucchini, broccoli, spinach, carrots, peas, edamame, bell peppers, onions, and probably more that I’m forgetting. So they have a few things going for them: they taste great, they are super convenient, they get lots of veggies in, they are easy for little ones without many teeth to chew, and so much more. However, they are also fairly expensive. At our local market, they cost nearly six dollars for four of them. At T.rader Jo.es, they cost around four dollars a box (so a dollar a piece), which is better, but still a lot considering just how much my kid adores them.

Because we’re so determined for Baby Genius to eat whole, real, healthy foods, we’re not really willing to give in to the usual toddler stand-bys of chicken nuggets and whatever other crap people feed their kids when they’re in a hurry (no offense intended here; I just feel very strongly about all of us eating real food). But we are still busy, and toddlers can be crazy-picky and hard to feed. I won’t deny that we need the occasional shortcut.

So, I decided, what the hell, I’m going to make them myself. The ingredients were listed on the box, and I figured I could replicate it. So last yesterday, after a trip to the local market and a trip to farmer’s market, I took the plunge. To make it really fast and easy, I bought frozen organic versions of many of the veggies, and after an hour and some revisions, I had two dozen veggie burgers that looked and smelled a whole lot like my son’s favorite. The true test came at dinner time when my son ate two whole veggie burgers, and probably could have had more. He loved them just as much as the commercial ones. And the kicker? It cost me a grand total of $7 to make these things.

I’m so inspired, and I have never been more proud to have someone like my food. And, I’m going to share my recipe! Please note that this is a work in progress, and many of the amounts are approximate, so feel free to play around with them. I will also update this if I find a new secret ingredient or an adjustment that needs to be made. If you don’t need to worry about gluten, you might replace some of the cornmeal with flour (or you could also include rice, oatmeal, barley, or any other grain–we’ll be trying others).

Baby Genius Veggie Patties

  • 2 c. corn (frozen is fine)
  • 1 c. frozen veggie medley or a cup combined of carrots, peas, green beans, and lima beans
  • 1/2 c. shelled edamame
  • 1/2 c. peas
  • 1/2 c.- 1c. of spinach (or other dark leafy greens), chopped
  • 1 c. zucchini, shredded
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. red bell pepper
  • 2-3 T. chopped fresh parsley (or other herbs to taste)
  • 1/4-1/2 c. cornmeal (depending on thickness desired)
  • 3-4 T. olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • (optional) any other desired veggies: broccoli, extra carrots, greens, cauliflower, summer squash, etc.
  • (optional) other grains desired to thicken or add texture

In a food processor, puree corn until smooth.

In the meantime, saute bell pepper, onion, leek, and garlic. Stir in parsley. Add to corn mixture.

If using frozen or fresh veggies, steam all vegetables except for zucchini until either just cooked (fresh) or just defrosted (frozen).

Add all veggies to corn mixture.

Add 1/4 c. cornmeal, 2-3 T. olive oil, and salt & pepper.

Pulse everything until combined, but leave it a bit chunky (it’s best to have bits of peas and edamame to bite into, but if you over-process, you can always add a little extra of these veggies).

This will make a lot! It should be pasty. If it it’s too runny, add more cornmeal (or other grains/flour/thickeners).

To cook, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat, and form patties that aren’t too thick (when too thick they won’t cook well in the middle). Once the oil is heated, place patty (or patties) in pan. Brown on one side, then flip. You may want to cover them and reduce the heat to help them set up a bit, but be sure to crisp the outsides (they’re best this way). These can also be baked, but they won’t have the same crispness (however, with some extra steps, one could make them crispy–I just haven’t tried this).

To store the rest, form patties, and place them on a cookie sheet. Freeze them (takes about 1-2 hours), and then remove them to a freezer storage container or freezer bag. When you want to serve them, take one at a time out of the bag, and cook them just as you did when they were fresh.

Enjoy! I hope you’ll tell me if you try these! (Photos to come later.)

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one (twelve months)

twelve months and very displeased with needing to hold still

one month--oh how he's grown

Dear Baby Genius,

You are one year old. One! I knew this day would come quickly–and it has–but it also seems like a lifetime ago when you were a sleepy, wiggly newborn who couldn’t so much as control his hands.

It’s remarkable the difference a year makes, and what a glorious year it has been. In your twelfth month, you really have started to emerge as a toddler, and what an adventure it has already been.

For some time now, you have been perfectly content with your little army crawl, but right after your eleven month birthday, you started getting up on those knees of yours, and within days, you had perfected your cross crawl. You now resemble a little bull dog roaming from one room to another–and you’re fast! This has made life a little better for you now, for you can follow us easily from one room to another, and you do. Sometimes you even decide you’re going to go off and explore on your own. This is rare, but when you do, you always look back to see if we’re coming. You love it when one of us chases after you, and you giggle and giggle until we catch you whereupon you explode into laughter. Oh how I love that laugh!

You have a lot to laugh about too–from Mama’s crazy sound effects to cats jumping over you in hopes to escape your tail-pulling, you laugh and laugh whenever you can. Your favorite jokes have to do with us finding things disgusting, like your feet. We were alarmed when you were quite young to learn that baby feet smell like feet, so we have long made faces and gagging sounds when you have put your feet in our faces. Now when you’re nursing, you will often throw a foot up to my nose just to get me to make my crazy sounds, and you giggle and giggle. I positively love your emerging sense of humor.

You are learning to communicate more as well. Your favorite phrase (yes, phrase) right now is “want dat!” Previously, you would point at things and shout “dat!” but your new phrase gets you things that you want. It is powerful, and you use it often, whether for expressing interest in a morsel of food or a cat walking by. We are sure to hear this at least ten times a day. You have other words too, like “waterbottle,” which sounds more like (wabababuh). You decided that you preferred this to “cup,” probably because you see me drinking out of mine (and as a result covet mine), so we started calling your sippy cups water bottles. Yes, we’re tricky that way.

Your favorite thing to say though is “buhbuhbuh.” Not many people will know what this means, but Mama and I do. You see, Baby Genius, you have a favorite book: Bye Bye Big Bad Bullybug. You have begun asking for this book multiple times a day, and we can’t help but oblige. One day, I was working in the office section of your room, and you stood by my chair yelling “Buhbuhbuh! Buhbuhbuh!” You were pointing wildly to the upper level of the bookcase where we keep this book, and I had to stop and read because how could I deny you something so lovely as a book? You do have other favorites as well: A few Dr. Seuss books including Oh, The Thinks You Can Think, A Wocket in My Pocket, and  Mr. Brown Can Moo. Can You?, the Mem Fox book Whoever You Are, and the lovely little book Mommy, Mama, and Me. You love your books so much, and you can sit for quite long periods of time leafing through them. What is more impressive is that you can pick your favorites from piles of similar books. Mr. Brown, for example, is one that you know by simply looking at the spine. We love this about you. Your love of books is something we’ll always enjoy–and while Mama and I do find it alarming that we often quote Dr. Seuss over dinner these days, we couldn’t be happier that we have a little reader on our hands.

Um, I was reading that.

You do have interests in lots of other things now, and you’re getting into things quite a bit more with your increased mobility. We decided to give you a few special Baby Genius spots–one in each room really–that you can raid. There is a drawer in our bathroom that you rifle through for long periods of time. It contains all kinds of fascinating items like pedicure sandals, old eyeglasses, a travel alarm clock, and even some wildly inappropriate baby toys like unused plastic speculums. You love to rummage through things, pull items out, examine them, throw them over your shoulder, and move on. Once in awhile, you do find a treasure, and you find it necessary to share. One day recently, you insisted on nursing while holding a day-of-the-week pill dispenser, which you pressed against my face from time to time. I do find all of this amusing, but I do hope you learn the finer art of putting things away soon. But then, I guess you are learning this in some ways because one of your new favorite activities is placing things “in.” You have multiple containers because these are your favorite toys–everything from coffee bean cans to former cheese containers and travel mugs. You love taking the lids off and placing other objects in these containers, shaking them about, removing the objects, and playing with the lids. You have an assortment of complex games associated with these containers that impress me to no end.

There are times now when you start to get into things that you shouldn’t. Mama and I often respond with a simple shake of our heads or an “uh-uh,” so at times when you know you’re doing something you shouldn’t, you shake your head and stop yourself. Other times, you follow through with the act, grin, and then shake your head. Yes, we see a little bit of an impish streak running through you, which is charming for now, but I have a feeling I may change my mind about that later! Once in awhile, you want to do something you can’t do, or you want to hold something that is either dangerous or not Baby Genius resistant, and when this has happened, we have begun to see your first tantrums emerge. Mostly they involve high-pitched screams, which are alarming and honestly not my favorite sounds I’ve heard from you. You have many charming behaviors too though, including a desire to give kisses, meaning you open your mouth wide when one of us is trying to kiss you. You also hug now. Oh, do you hug! You give the BEST hugs, Baby Genius. You hug your animals, puppets, and most importantly your Mama and I. It melts our hearts. You have spent more time with your older cousin B this month too, and as a result, when you see her photo, you love to hug and kiss that too. You have to say hi to B at least once a day, and it is very endearing.

You’ve still been working on getting your next two teeth, but we’re trying to give you more types of foods to gum. You are eating quite a bit of goat cheese and goat yogurt these days (we’ll try dairy again soon, but for now, you love these alternatives). These are some of your very favorite foods. You also have fallen madly in love with polenta, tofu, and veggie burgers. You still eat plenty of fruits and veggies, but we’ve all but stopped making your mashes and purees since you really prefer to feed yourself these days. With this newfound independence comes a need to take care of your moms as well, so during every meal you try to share your food with us. You used to be content if we just pretended to eat what you were offering, but now you insist on placing your little hand in our mouths and opening to release whatever you are offering. One day I was the lucky recipient of a piece of peach coated in refried beans. This was a culinary experience I will not soon forget! You have also taken to putting your foot up on your high chair. This started when you were trying to get leverage when you were having some diaper difficulties, but I think you discovered that having your foot up was fun, so now your foot is involved in every meal.

This has been such a big time with you, Son. You helped Mama and I celebrate our birthdays, you met your brand new baby cousin, and best of all, you had your very first birthday party (and cake!).  Your twelfth month has had us saying goodbye to your infancy and welcoming in a whole new set of experiences with a toddler. What an awesome and beautiful and positively life-altering year this first year with you has been though. You have taught me and Mama so much, and you have shown us what it means to love bigger than we ever knew we could with every cell in our bodies. You are everything to us. You have brought us so much light and joy, you precious, precious boy, and we are so very happy you are ours.

I love you my sweet little baby, my big one-year-old, my beautiful Boy Genius.

xoxo

Mommy

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and now me

I have contracted the ick that invaded our home thanks to J’s students. My throat is killing me, and I’m achey all over. J is at work until midday, but in the meantime I am the sole BG wrangler. This is hard. All I want to do is curl up under a blanket and sleep all day.

/pity party

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a few complaints

First a positive note: your responses to the last post were priceless. Thank you for that. I had some great laughs.

Now, on to today. I am officially mad at myself. It is BG’s 13-month birthday, but I have yet to write his 12-month post. Boo me. I am sure to get to it soon, but for now I have complaining to do.

Baby Genius is sick again. Before he turned one, Baby Genius had been sick once when he was five months old. Now he has had three illnesses in the space of a month. He has had no more than a week’s worth of healthy days in between, and it is so, so sad. This time he has J’s cold, a really mean, nasty, long-lasting cold that is sure to bowl him over for over a week. It is heartbreaking to try to nurse  him because he tries and tries to nurse but can’t breathe, so he stops, cries, lies there looking pitiful, and then starts the whole process again. I sincerely hope he has an easier go of this than J did.

But the parade of illnesses is not the half of it. We have talked for some time about leaving this town, and we had a pretty good plan to save up and move this winter break. This Friday was J’s first payday after our very long struggle to stay above water this summer, and upon coming home, we had a letter on the door from our crooked landlord informing us that our rent will go up by $150 in December–that we have the choice of signing either a one-year lease at this new rate, a six-month lease at the new rate, or we can give 30 days notice. Now, technically it’s like 60 days, but still. We either stay here in a place that isn’t nearly worth what they’re trying to charge, in a town we hate, or we get on the ball and find a way to move in the  next two months. It’s terrifying and infuriating, but it’s also a little exciting to think we may soon actually be in the town we want to be in–if the stars align and miracles happen.

So I’ve begun the mad hunt for a new rental that we can afford, all the while trying to fit in extra hours at work, and I’m panicking a little too because there is only so much one can do with a sick baby. But holy crap, we’re going to move, and I’m going be packing up this house while J is at work. It’s perfect timing really. Baby Genius has just gotten really good at placing things “in.” Time to put the boy to work.

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