A Sunday Storm, and a jagged horizon

This weekend was nice, as we neglected our endless to-do list a bit and I hosted a meeting of the craft club I started almost two years ago now (more on that…someday. I was hoping to do a comprehensive post with charming pictures to go along with it, but The Baby was too rowdy for me to take pictures. I’ll get to it eventually.)

Anyway, yesterday evening, The Husband, The Baby, my parents, brother and I were sitting around our kitchen table eating dinner as we have been doing together on Sundays since we moved out here. The sky had been threatening (welcome) rain for an hour or so, and suddenly it started to rain hard.

Our house is almost all windows, and my parents were marveling at how hard it was raining. I, a hardened cynic when it comes to bad weather (probably a knee-jerk reaction to my mother’s insistent demands for us to go to the basement all the time in childhood lest we be swept up into tornadoes–how we scoff at our parents’ desires to keep us safe!), kept eating with nonchalant, “Uh huh, I see it”s.

It was getting dark though. The wind was picking up. The hard pelting rain turned into hard pelting hail. The world turned white outside from the sideways spray of precipitation. All at once, everyone at the table but me and The Baby rose from their seats and decided we had all better skedaddle into the basement, for real. (Looking up from my food, I quickly unbuckled The Baby from his high chair and followed suit. The Baby brought his corn on the cob with him.)

As the first of us hit the top of the stairs, the power went out. We watched from the basement window as the storm left just as quickly as it had come. When it seemed safe, we went back upstairs to assess the damage.

We’re really, really lucky, but this is also the worst storm we’ve ever had on the property, going back as far as my dad can remember.

There wasn’t a tornado, but sudden strong winds whipped the tops off big, leafy trees. It toppled several of the dozens of dead ash trees (ash borers, frown). In the woods around my parents’ house, several old growth trees that my dad had spared from loggers were uprooted, leaving gaping cavities in the dirt the size of small craters.

Last night The Husband helped my brother and dad clear the half-dozen trees that had fallen from our property across our neighbors’ driveway. Both of our driveways had been blocked too, ours by a big thorny locust tree.

It also knocked every last near-ripe pear off the two pear trees near our barn. I strapped The Baby to my back, grabbed a five gallon bucket and salvaged what I could, but most of the pears had hit the ground so hard they were practically shattered.

We are really lucky–power returned at around midnight last night (so my heroic act of eating all the ice cream out of the freezer turned out to be unnecessary), and more importantly, nobody got hurt, and our house, my parents’ house and all our vehicles were unscathed.

The Husband called in from work today to help with the damage, and so did my brother. We took turns looking after The Baby and helping out outside. We spent all day clearing out the biggest branches around the house. I washed a bucket of pears and have cooked two batches of pear sauce with a lot more to go.

This is a big setback. We already have so much to do to try to restore this property to its former well-kept state (not to mention kicking off any of the half-dozen or so pipe dreams we’ve got cooking). And while it is a great relief to have come through the storm unharmed, I feel something a little like grief seeing great old trees broken, jagged and felled in every direction I look.

Here are some pictures of the damage, including one of me looking like straight up garbage. You’ll notice I’m suffering from “South Carolina eye,” allergy eyes that haven’t plagued me since moving back up from the pollen capital of the world. I also have twisted my stretched out maternity tank top into the straps of my ill-fitting nursing bra and am wearing a bandana over my inexcusable hair-ball (calling it a mom bun would be generous to the point of absurdity) — I had to wear The Baby on my back to pick up pears and he’s figured out how to rip out handfuls of hair if I don’t wear something to block him. Anyway, I’m sharing this photo with you, Internet moms, in the spirit of openness, and knowing you’re not going to judge me. Don’t let me down.



A Sunday Storm, and a jagged horizon

Ask A New Mom: Part 2 with Melissa at I Crashed the Web

Last week I kicked off a series of interviews with old friend, new mom (and fellow blogger, though fellow implies we are equals and she is way better and more prolific than I am in this sense) Melissa.

Melissa and I (and two of our other new-mom friends)  have been texting back and forth about new mom problems (#momprobs?) the past week or two, and they have centered mainly around sleep. Yes, the thing that is incredibly boring for people to read about if they’re not in it, but the thing that has more power over your life than almost any other element of parenthood. Of the four babies I know, one is still a newborn with erratic and unpredictable sleep (Melissa’s); the only girl of the pack, formerly a through-the-night unicorn who merely flirted with daytime naps, is now waking up to “chill” several times a night at five months old; one has been successfully Ferberized and wakes up a few times a night to eat but goes down easy — and naps up to four times a day still at almost eight months; and one, my one, is sleeping 11-12 hours a night and has decided this week that one nap is plenty for him, thanks.

Or at least, this is what I decided is happening yesterday after reading from my own personal advice column/bible Advice Smackdown on AlphaMom.

Here’s an adorable picture I took of how he sleeps now. You know, once a day, if I’m lucky. Everyone keep your fingers crossed I find time to shower today!

Child's pose
Child’s pose… *that’s* why they call it that.

Anyway, here are a few more Q&As from her present, my distant past, on newborn life.

Here’s part two, with Melissa from I Crashed the Web.

Melissa, her husband B, and baby FW enjoying Cleveland Pride at Public Square.


Part Two: The Newborn Life

Development/growing check-in: How old is FW right now, and what’s he up to?

FW is 6 weeks!

[Update: He’s like 9 weeks now. I hope Melissa will update us in the comments with what 9 weeks is like, but I wanted to commemorate the 6-week-old FW in this post since that’s still very newborn.]

He’s probably in the middle of another growth spurt (he’s eating, sleeping and crying a lot) but when he’s awake and not cranky he is enjoying his playmat and his bouncy chair. He likes his pacifier and most of the time likes when I sing to him. He has started smiling, which is a ton of fun (and don’t tell me it’s just gas) and he loves looking in the mirror.

You’re in the middle of maternity leave. How are you feeling? What are you thinking about as going back to work draws nearer?

It is a bittersweet feeling – I’m finally feeling like FW and I are bonding and we’re getting in the groove of things together but now we’re more than halfway through! I know that going back to work will be good for both of us, but it’s something I can’t think about now without getting a little choked up. I am just trying to enjoy every minute of my days with FW!

Newborns are scary! What was hardest for you to get the hang of: Diapers, clothes changes, baths, breastfeeding…?

Baths. They scare me. In fact, I haven’t given FW one yet- no, he’s not a stinky baby, it’s just become “father-son bonding time” (really so I don’t have to do it. I hope B isn’t reading this and catching on…).

Thanks again to to Melissa for letting me grill her. Don’t forget to head over to her blog to see my own answers to some of these questions (and then go find out WTF Freekeh is and make yourself some curry!) And tune in next Friday for the final part of this interview series – Part Three: Parenting philosophy and self reflection.

Ask A New Mom: Part 2 with Melissa at I Crashed the Web

The first seasons of motherhood

Seasons of Motherhood

For the first time in weeks, the windows are open and a cool-ish breeze sways the wind chime over our kitchen sink. The apples and pears are beginning to ripen on the trees. School is back in session. The familiar nostalgia of this time of year is particularly strong today.

It’s not autumn by the calendar, but all signs are pointing toward the end of summer. My first summer as a mother. My third season as a mother.

The Baby will be eight months old this week. I look back at photos of him from just a half a year ago and he is so transformed from the wrinkly skinned, thin-legged newborn that it’s almost unbelievable. While the same spirit of exuberance and indomitability has shone through him every day of his existence, he is so, so different now than he was last week, last month.

The same goes for me. I am by many measures the same person I was on Christmas Eve, dogged by nerves and striving to do my best; craving reassurance and order and also inexplicably willing to jump with both feet into the unknown. But by so many other measures, I am unrecognizable to myself eight months ago.

Because each second of parenthood feels so ethereal as it passes, I want to document the road this far before the fog thickens any further.


You are so fragile. You are so insistent. Your size is almost unbelievable. You are like a fingerprint under magnification–impossibly complex for the space you occupy. You are like a bird, a butterfly, fragile and fluttering. And you are mighty, howling.

I am tentative, battered. My heart is a raw beating thing that feels both fiercer and more uncertain than it has before, than I knew it could. I learn finally what instinct means, and I go by it. Some days, it is all I go by.

I am bleeding, lactating, hesitating, rocking, singing, gasping, crying for joy and crying from pain and crying for reasons too complicated to dwell on.

I am tired. I am soaring.

This is the first winter I don’t mind the long hours of darkness. We three huddle together against the world and learn how to be a family.


Our life is is a tumult of boxes, decisions.

You are enjoying the world. You are still small, but with each stretch and kick you are gaining strength. You laugh, marveling.

Motherhood starts to feel less like stumbling and more like dancing.

You lead.

I am stretching out, daring a little further. We take walks as the leaves unfurl. I pack up my old life in more ways than one. I am stepping into a new vocation.

Our days are a series of experiments in nonverbal communication. I am talking to you in public, feeling sometimes as though I am talking to myself. I am still learning. Misunderstanding your cues. Are you tired? Are you hungry? Hot, cold, bored? The signals grow clearer or I get more adept.

You light up the faces of the people who held your parents as infants. Some of those people die. You give us joy in our grief.

The water in the pond warms and we feed the fish. Their fins glimmer in the sunlight. You reach for bread crusts.


Our new home begins to take shape around your days.

We sweat. It is hot, hard work to make our house a safe place for you.

The cicadas wake up from a long, long sleep and the soundtrack to your first summer is a cacophony of humming–a frenzy of life. After they retreat, it is crickets and tree frogs. A nest of hungry wrens peeping for grubs.

I feel maternal in every direction, feed the fledglings smashed ants with tweezers while I carry you on my back. Find that during your nap they have flown the nest.

Your hometown celebrates its first victory in my lifetime (and, of course, in yours). This does not interest you. You have your own pursuits.

The work you’ve been doing your whole life to set yourself into motion begins to accelerate. Your back straightens, and you are sitting upright. You reach for everything you want. My hair twines around your fingers. My dinner ends up in your mouth. Your curiosity is bottomless as your bottom teeth grow in. Then the top. Then more.

From sitting, you crawl, from crawling, you stand. You are a tightrope walker. I am the net, and also the anxious onlooker, astonished by your daring and amazed by your skill.

You babble, you guffaw, you play peekaboo and you impel us to chase you.

I noticed today your knees are getting rough from crawling. Your impossibly soft skin will continue to accumulate calluses and bruises and cuts and scrapes as you amble on into your place in this world.

My heart will carry, too, each bruise and cut and scrape. But not the calluses.


The first seasons of motherhood

Ask A New Mom: Melissa at I Crashed the Web

I have alluded to my IRL friend, new mom and far more dedicated blogger Melissa a couple of times. She has a six-ish week old baby, the lovely Sir FW, and I thought it would be a fun idea to interview her about where she is at in the great adventure of motherhood. She agreed and interviewed me, too.

We both had so much to say that this has now become a miniseries. This week, she’s answering my questions about pregnancy.

Read her insights below and then check out what I had to say about my parenting experience so far.

Without further ado, here’s Part One of my interview with Melissa. (If you’re into fitness, baking, healthy eating and/or new mom stuff, I highly recommend you check out and subscribe to her blog! She’s an inspiration in all of these areas without making you feel like a failure – a rare and wondrous balance in the world of fitness/food/mom bloggers.)

Melissa and FW crashing the web

Ask A Mom: Melissa at I Crashed The Web

Part One: Pregnancy and becoming a mom

Has motherhood changed your perspective on the world in any way? 

I’m much more sensitive to stories in the news, on TV (real or fake), etc. that deal with violence, tolerance and/or children. I want FW to grow up in a world that is peaceful. I want him to live in a world that tolerates him and his beliefs- whatever they may be. And I want him to be safe. I’m now so much more affected by what’s going on in the world around me, now that my world is so much more than me- it’s me and my family.

What was the worst parenting or pregnancy advice you got before baby arrived?

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Okay, so this isn’t exactly awful advice (I did take a 40 min nap today while FW slept, yay!), but do what works for you. Some days, your baby won’t sleep much or only in spurts of 10-20 minutes, so don’t rely on this for your naps. Sleep when you can and do what you wanna do while the baby naps. Yesterday for me, this was baking lemon zucchini bread. Another day it was working out. Do what you need to do to stay sane – whether it’s sleep, shower or just sit on the couch and eat a brownie (or two).

What was the hardest part of pregnancy for you?

Slowing down. I thrive on being busy and productive and I had to change my lifestyle somewhat near the end. I got tired more easily, especially during the end, and I had to make sleep a bigger priority. I no longer could run 5 miles, meal prep, blog, go for a walk, and hang out with friends all in one day – it was too tiring! Running a 5k felt like a half marathon and I was pooped. I had to prioritize and spend my free time doing more relaxing than usual.

What surprised you about pregnancy?

How easy it was for me. I was really lucky in that I had a relatively easy pregnancy. I didn’t have morning sickness. I didn’t feel toooooo large or uncomfortable until the end and I was able to keep up a somewhat active lifestyle throughout – I continued running (I did a 5k at 38.5 weeks) and walking throughout. I know that not all pregnancies are that easy and I feel so lucky!

Are you happy with your childbirth experience? Is there anything you wish would have gone differently?

I went in without a birth plan – I told the nurses and doctors my plan was “to have a healthy and happy baby” and I got it. Would I have liked to have been able to manage without an epidural? Yes. Would I have liked to have had only one epidural instead of having them have to do it twice because the first one didn’t work? Yes. But overall, I’m very happy.

A big thanks to Melissa for participating in this exchange! Don’t forget to head over to her blog to see my own answers to some of these questions (and then go make yourself some Triple the Ginger Ginger Cookies, girl!) And tune in next Friday for Part Two: The Newborn Life.

Ask A New Mom: Melissa at I Crashed the Web

In the great green room…

there was a telephone, and a red balloon…

Goodnight Moon has become The Baby’s very favorite book. In fact, it was the first book he took any interest in beyond chewing. One day when he was about 4 or 5 months old, he was looking at it on the floor and we had to leave, and he cried as I put him in his car seat until I handed him back his book, and he babbled the whole way to the grocery store, reading to himself (I like to think.)

We ended up being given three copies as gifts before his arrival, and I’m glad we didn’t give any away because I can see we’re going to need them.

Somehow this most classic book wasn’t a part of my own childhood, and honestly the garish colors and lack of punctuation made me wonder what all the fuss was about. (not to mention the third painting on the wall — not the cow jumping over the moon, nor the three little bears sitting on chairs, but the rabbit fly fishing in a river for another rabbit… wth?)

But seeing The Baby’s delight all there is to look at, and hearing the words lilting like a prayer (“Please, God, let my baby go to sleep?”) have cemented this story in my brain for the rest of eternity.

We don’t read it every night. In fact, this is the book that marks that it’s time to go to sleep. But Goodnight Moon will always hold a place in my memories of The Baby’s early days.

Speaking of books, we are nearly, nearly there with fully babyproofing The Baby’s bedroom. (Though I think I’ll keep saying “nearly done babyproofing” until he’s got his learner’s permit… He seems to have a real knack for beating me to the punch in this particular battle.)

I will take pictures of the rest once I’ve tied up a few loose ends, but here is a sneak peak of a new reading corner. We ditched the regular old bookshelf for these book ledges I built, and The Baby loves being able to see (and pull down) all his books. (Yes, we also have two copies of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. One board book and one paperback for when The Baby decides to quit chomping on his books.)

DIY book ledge for baby's room
The Baby’s book nook… a great place to take in Goodnight Moon.

I was having a little writer’s block after a work-heavy week or two that kept me from blogging, so I decided to participate in the Daily Prompt: Moon. Further proof that parents can take any word and turn it into a way to talk about their kids! 🙂

Tune in tomorrow for some real, actual, interesting content… so excited to share some wisdom from a mom friend!

In the great green room…

Why I froze my eggs

Because I’m tired, that’s why.

That title is utter clickbait and has nothing to do with fertility. I just made scrambled eggs one morning last week and instead of putting the eggs back in the refrigerator, dropped them into the freezer and discovered them days later when The Husband was trying to make us breakfast.

The sleep regression continues. So today’s post remains a stream of consciousness about life with a 7-month-old.

The Baby’s wacky sleep, though obviously powered by his incessant drive to crawl and climb and babble, is likely not helped by the fact that we’re rearranging The Baby’s room to try to accommodate his fervent need to touch, climb upon and put into his mouth everything he comes across. Baby safe for a five month old is not baby proof at all for a crawling, cruising baby. I am excited to eventually reveal The Baby’s nursery 2.0 (here’s a look at 1.0 from our old house) once I get some projects wrapped. I’m even doing some furniture building, ladies. Get acquainted with your miter saw! As a sleep deprived person, I can tell you, it’s really not that hard. This should not be the exclusive domain of men. It’s super fun.

Uh, let’s see, what else.

We went to the Medina County Fair over the weekend. It was my first visit in probably about 15 years. Here’s a quick shot of me and and my spirit animal.


Me and my spirit animal

I chowed down on some gross fair food, reminisced about the super-dangerous rides and felt mixed feelings about the animals on display. The goat barn was my favorite – I even rescued a pair of goats who were trying to escape their fence and had become caught, so I’m like… really maternal and obviously going to be a super goat owner. I think we’re probably going to hold off until spring so we can get some baby wethers (neutered male goats) in season. I’m looking forward to it!

Summer is almost over. The Husband is getting ready for the first day of school (he works at a school) and my awesome mother’s helper will be starting 8th grade next week, so this is my last week of getting two, two-hour chunks to get work done. I will miss her very much, and I think The Baby will, too.

As summer leans into fall, I am hoping to adapt my daily list-making practice into a week-planning ritual that lends a little more structure to our days. I would like to be more strategic about spacing out work, chores, outings and freelancing so I don’t feel quite so harried every day. I also want to start walking a few times a week, a habit I flirted with in the early summer but that I quickly dropped because it’s been hot and I haven’t been able to make it a priority with everything else.

I am also functioning under the illusion that if I have a color-coded chart of when we do what each day, The Baby will exactly follow my plan and everything will be easy. Ha!

The Baby is awaking from his nap… time to go. Proofreading is a luxury I don’t have time for. I’m the kind of person who puts eggs in the freezer right now, so this is the best I can do.


Why I froze my eggs

Working at home

The baby seems to be (knocking on wood) emerging a little from the worst of the sleep regression, though he still giggles himself into full alertness (how can something so cute be so frustrating) if I try to put him down drowsy in his crib for naps.

Whatevs. Parenting isn’t supposed to be easy, right? If he’s making my heart soar 75% of the time, and the other quarter of that time is spent rocking him and doing deep breathing exercises, I’ve got it pretty good, I think.

The Husband and I will be hosting a Sleep Summit at the end of this week to try to hatch a plan moving forward (a plan that doesn’t involve one of us taking impulsive and drastic measures on a whim.)

In the meantime, my parents have returned from their first vacation in a week. And as much as my 18-year-old self would be doing a spit-take at this next sentence, here goes: I missed them and I’m really glad they’re around.

Both of my parents adore The Baby. My dad is retired/disabled and thus is around during the day when he’s not taking care of my grandfather and is good company as I adapt to SAHM-hood. He’s also great with The Baby. But my mom is FANTASTIC with The Baby and can keep him occupied and giggling for a good long time. Her many years as a home child care provider are really shining now that she’s a grandmother.

She is currently at the park with The Baby so that I can get some rush freelancing work done. This is the first outing The Baby has gone on with someone other than his parents. While a gigantic part of me wishes I were also at the playground with them, I’m grateful to be able to hand him over so I can clock some time and earn some cash.

I came to a good break point while awaiting some feedback so I might go do something reckless like take a shower.

One last thing: Thanks to everyone who commented with well wishes and commiseration and book suggestions and sleep training (or not sleep training) suggestions in response to my previous post. Sometimes motherhood can really knock you off your feet. Thank you for helping me back up. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Working at home