Friday, September 17, 2010

First "etiquette dinner"

It seems that often when we hit some kind of "impasse" in our relationships, the brainstorming and creative problem solving that happens in a family meeting can lead to a good and fun solution. It is probably as much as anything taking the TIME needed to talk through things and think together about how to make things more workable for everyone. One of the most recent "impasses" we have been facing is how to make it such that mealtimes can be pleasant for all of us, when we are at home and out and about; how to encourage some measure of choices and freedom and having a semi-relaxed posture on manners and cultural norms, while keeping things in the bounds of "reasonable." Much more could be said but this will do for the preface of a blog post.

The outcome of our family meeting was that we would (somewhere in the range of once a month) have a fancy "etiquette dinner" to practice table manners that would be expected of someone in our cultural context - fun, informative, and a platform for good discussions about cultural norms, how things are done different places around the world, how different people even within a similar culture make very different choices. So tonight was the night!!

After a fun sleepover here with little friend Phoebe last night, Kali and I got to work shortly after noon on our "fancy meal." Kali had chosen the menu.

Appetizer: homemade tomato cocktail and cheese triangle crackers
Soup: lentil venison barley with rosemary
Bread: rye bread sticks with various olive oil dipping sauces
Main course: venison pea Indian dish over mashed potatoes (with the last potatoes from the garden)
Side dish: fresh pepper slices and cherry tomatoes from the garden
Dessert: serviceberry apple crisp with homemade strawberry dream cream

We were all so full by the end of dinner (okay, so I was full after the soup), that we have taken a short break to let things settle before dessert. Kali is ready to eat dessert and I'm ready to get into comfy clothes. :) So this will be short. In summary: we had fun! But my goodness there are a lot of things to remember when you try to be proper. We all got some reminders. My downfall is elbows on the table. Jason's is reaching for food. We gave the youngest member a good number of reminders about talking with a mouth full of food... But it was all in good spirits and there was definitely an incentive on Kali's part to keep her fancy dress clean.

I'm quite certain that Tadpole's favorite part of the day was the nap I squeezed in this afternoon. But I did think I felt two small movements towards the end of dinner, so maybe the meal was agreeing with him/her too. Kali of course put her hand on my belly right away - she is pretty eager to feel her little brother or sister moving in there. She gives me (well, my abdomen at least) many hugs and kisses each day!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My third pregnancy thus far...

Even the words "third pregnancy" sound a little odd to me. I never thought I would experience the mystery three times of a baby growing inside of me, as Jason and I had always talked about having two children. There is sadness in knowing that while I'll have birthed three children, there will only be two living. But I also find myself grateful so many times over again to Nora for all the gifts her little life offered to me; the least of those being the chance to experience pregnancy again. I'm thinking more of the lessons surrounding grace, courage, risk, hope, love, and acceptance - lessons that are still finding their way into the core of my being. And lessons which, no doubt, this third little one will add to!

So the last three blog postings were quick and easy. This one will not be so, because talking about Tadpole inevitably leads me to thinking about, if not talking about, Drimpy (Nora's in utero name). That is part of the beauty of this time. Kali has talked more about Nora in the past 3 months that she likely did the 2 years prior to that. Nora is her only other frame of reference for the experience of being a big sister. It seems that memories have been triggered by us expecting another baby in our family and with that comes her verbalization of some of those memories, questions about how we may or may not do things differently this time, and (in her own way) her acknowledging the unknowns that we all feel at times as we embark on this journey. And it hasn't been this way for only Kali, though I sometimes wondered if getting pregnant with another child would cause me to feel more distant from Nora. That scared me. But it has been precious to me to feel anything but - to feel closer to her memory and her little spirit that seems to pour out nothing but acceptance and groundedness.

As we have shared the news with friends, family, co-workers, and many other members of our community we have been overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and support of those around us. Some occasional questions and statements catch me a bit off guard. "You must be so scared." "This pregnancy is going to be so much harder than the others isn't it?" They do not catch me off guard because they strike me as unusual or abnormal or even uncaring. It is more that I have been continually amazed and deeply grateful that I am not "so scared" and that so far I sense that my anxiety is lower this time than it was with Nora (even early on).

There is no physical reason to lean on for this - while Tadpole and I checked out beautifully at our 12 week appointment and hearing his/her heartbeat was reassuring, we knew nothing of Nora's challenges before much later in the pregnancy. I sense that it is more the fruits of the over three year journey Jason and I embarked on when Nora joined our family, only later to leave us. A journey that has encouraged us to embrace mystery, to be more accepting of ourselves and others, to risk loving and living fully, to be present to life as it is and find the gifts in it...

Do I have my moments? Yes! Even as I write this, all sorts of things go through my mind: wondering if this post will be one I'll look back on from a very different vantage point if this little one inside me starts showing signs of not growing well. But, on a much more surface level, it is kind of like my saying I think we are having a boy and enjoying having a hunch, even though I really don't have a clue. I am choosing to focus as much of my energy as I can possibly divert to it on the joy of this time and this little one. I don't know what will come down the road months from now, but it seems that focusing on all the negative "what if's" will not in anyway benefit the final outcome. It seems that the time now enjoying Kali relating to Tadpole and thinking of her as a big sister to him/her, of accepting kisses for the baby from Jason and Kali, of talking about our hopes and dreams for this addition to our family has much more potential than worry to prepare us for whatever our family will experience together as the months go by. So, whenever we can catch our breath and slow the pace, we are attempting to savor the present moment, allowing that to provide a strong foundation for the future.

Storing up for winter...

Pictures speak more than many words on this front! The garden fence worked well this year. The soil's fertility improves a bit each year. And we plant more plants. And our peach tree gave us a few peaches for the first time! All that equals more food!! A very exciting and exhausting task to figure out what to do with it in the time available before it spoils. And we have also benefited from the over abundance of crops we don't grow (yet) from others' gardens. We were thrilled this year to find ourselves in a similar position to be able to give away some of the fruits of our labors. From this season's efforts, our pantry (not to mention our bedroom closet) is now bursting with applesauce, salsa, green beans, chicken, diced tomatoes, tomato juice, peach jam, canned peaches and pears, tomato sauce, pickles, apple butter, and other jams. Our freezer continues to be rearranged to fit in a few more containers of various thing around the corn, pesto, diced peppers, okra, lamb's quarters and more lamb's quarter, jams, tomato paste, chicken, etc... Our supply of onions, garlic and potatoes is dwindling but will hold out for awhile yet, and the sweet potatoes are yet to be dug and the butternut will be with us for quite some time!! Oh, and the chestnut trees seem to have a bumper crop and the persimmons are already ripening. I said recently that at times (on the food front anyway), I have a sense of being "overwhelmed by abundance." And I struggle to think that there are persons living close to me that do not have enough food to eat. Somehow it seems we need to find ways to connect the dots - we turned down multiple offers of extra produce this year. For a future year, when my energy outlasts the canner, I hope to work more intentionally at getting surplus food where it can be used by persons would would most benefit from it.

Here's some more visuals. Many times this year we have gotten to the end of a project before we realize that photos might have been nice:

New ways of reading...

Please note: not staged photos! We have discovered that Kali enjoys reading in various positions. This seems to be the newest. Does all the information go right into the brain more easily when upside down??

Second Trimester begins!!

So I realize I haven't posted a thing since we made public that Tadpole is on his/her way! I figured today, the start of our 13th week coexisting, was a good time to enter the blogsphere again! I've mostly been just trying to make sure my energy lasts through the bare essentials of life - which in the past few months has involved A LOT of food processing, with grabbing naps on the futon whenever possible.

But I suppose it is a good sign that it is only 10:15am and Kali and I have already almost completed a "cooking class" (granola and bread yet to be baked) and had our first "running class." Kali got new sneakers this week and loves "classes" under the name "Sally" which I constantly forget and am then corrected. She was eager to try out her shoes and wanted a running class. Since I haven't been running for months now, I was glad that her energy for the running part of the class lasted no more than 100 yards or so at a time. But we did manage to jog/walk for about 3 miles and right now that is pretty much a record around here!! It was a beautiful morning and I loved listening to her chatter and talk to the cows and me and thoughts of how and to whom to place her weather order for snow.

While I'm on Kali, two quick stories that I got good chuckles out of. I will admit that the last number of weeks have been trying as my energy has been low and with that my patience. I've not been as gracious or receptive to the many "alternative" ways that Kali enjoys engaging in activities (that often make more work/clean up for me). But she continues to explore and engage the world in wonderful ways and when I'm rested and not nauseous it's wonderful! She also loves including Tadpole in most of our conversations and he/she gets lots of kisses from Kali!

The first story happened when we were walking down College Ave to a baby shower. It seems that walks hand in hand outside bring out the best in both of us. Kali was jabbering away and at one point said, "Mommy, I have a question." Nothing unusual there. But then she paused and said, "I know this might seem like a lot of questions, but that is just the way I am!" It took me off guard and I had to just stop and squeeze her. I'm happy for her growing self awareness!

Then last evening we were walking down to get the mail. She said, "Mommy, 45 + 45 = 801." At first I didn't get her mental process and then I realized she was trying to carry the one and add columns but had gotten things a little backwards. So we talked about it a bit and then she wanted some questions. I started with, "What is 32 + 32." After a very brief pause she said, "64. Now give me harder ones than that. I'm way past that." How did she get way past adding columns of numbers in her head without me ever knowing she could do it? So we proceeded to add all sorts of other things - "trickier" ones at her request.

Well, time for cooking class to continue. I will likely put a few posts up today as pictures of the last few months are in order - our pantry is colorful and bursting and I will admit to being ready to welcome the first frost whenever it comes! The tomatoes have done a wonderful job and they have my full permission, if needed, to retire whenever they are ready to!!