Compare and Contrast

One thing I can’t help but do is compare my children to each other.  Or, is it that I’m comparing my experiences with each child?  For instance:

  • With Max, I was chained to the pump and afraid of changing poopy diapers on the road, so I basically never left the house.  Compare with: just got back from a 7 hour road-trip out of state with Ginger (courtesy of 100% formula diet and ditching the cloth diapers).
  • With Max he didn’t sleep through the night till 18 months.  Ginger has slept through the night a few times already! (woo hoo)
  • Max was consistently in the high 90s for percentile on height and weight.  Meanwhile, my parents think I’m starving Ginger because she’s in the 40s and 50s. (BTW, I’m not!)
  • Today Ginger had her 2 month well baby visit with vaccinations.  When Max got his shots, it was so traumatic for me to hear him cry like that, that I probably cried as much as he did.  Now, knowing what was coming, I was calmer during the appointment, but had much more anxiety leading up to it because I knew what we’d be facing.

My gut tells me that it’s not healthy to compare the kids.  Each one is entitled to have their own life experience without constantly being measured up against the sibling.  But I’m not sure how to stop.  Either the comparison serves to mark celebration that something is going better this time around or, anxiety about whether something’s wrong because it’s different from before.  And then there’s the whole fuzzy memory issue — I doubt that I remember everything about Max correctly, so a comparison may not be fair on that front alone. 

Any tips out there?

In other new:  I’m proud of the dinner I cooked up tonight.  Having been out of town for a few days, we didn’t have a chance to buy fresh groceries.  Ginger was quite grumpy from her shots, so I thought I’d stay home instead.  I made a soup that is my take on minestrone, and all of it was from stuff scrounged from deep in the freezer, the garden, or the pantry — even though I casually thought there was no food in the house.  Here’s what I did:

Last night, I started chicken stock from a leftover frozen chicken carcass (we should invent a nicer word for this when it comes to cooking… ‘carcass’ is not too appetizing), left over carrot salad (our carrots), bendy celery, and our front yard torpedo onions.   Today I diced up some pre-cooked chicken apple sausage that I had in the freezer and some slightly overgrown green beans from the front yard.  Also from the freezer was a baggie of our snow peas from the winter garden.  I added a couple of tomatoes from our back yard, leftover shredded cheese from making a lunch quesadilla, and the dregs of a corkscrew pasta package (too small for a serving of pasta on its own).  Threw all of this into a pot (though at different stages based on their need) and served with chives as a garnish.

Sometimes I feel like a crazy person given all the random stuff I have in the freezer– from carcasses, to jars of stock, baggies of home-grown veggies, crushed egg shells, tops of leeks, breadcrumbs, what have you — and none of it organized particularly well.  It makes me feel like I have it somewhat figured out when I can pull together a meal that tastes as good as that did!  (The irony is, that when I had a diet of mostly processed foods, I felt more organized, because everything came in a box and lined up all nice in the freezer).  I feel like I need another freezer — but I have to organize the garage first.  Don’t get me started on that…



Since my last post, I’ve gone on maternity leave, had a baby girl named Ginger and made some progress in the garden — though it’s by no means a big bounty year.

First the update on the garden:  our green beans (which is to say, green, yellow and purple speckled beans) really came into their own.  Max has had his fill and I’ve even had enough to pickle one jar (ok, 1/2 jar) and really fell in love with the spicey hum of a pickled pod.  Our 7 tomato plants have become 8 with a very strong volunteer tomato plant that came forth from one of the compost piles (how fun is that!!).  There is tiny fruit with promise on the melon and watermelon plants.  Volunteer broccoli is doing way better than the planted broccoli.  Max strips the blueberry plant every morning on his way to school — I consider that his breakfast along with the chocolate I always use to bribe him into the car with minimal drama.  The peppers are still not looking so hot.

The worms are producing castings which I harvest every month — the last batch had a ton of worms in there so they must be happy.

Now on to less trivial things.  I’ve been getting to know my little girl.  She made her appearance after a planned C-section, at 8 lbs, 13 ounces.  She coos and makes funny gestures with her hands.  She’s smiling but I’m not sure if those are real smiles yet.  But they might be.

I’ve also been getting to know myself as a ‘new’ mother again.  I’ve been determined to have this maternity leave be a different experience than last time.  Let’s face it, last time I was depressed.  I was chained to the house by an evil machine called a breast pump.  I was also immobilized by cloth diapers which I wanted to use for a moral reason, but really weren’t working for me.  It felt like I didn’t go anywhere, do anything, or see anyone except the four walls of our apartment.  It was winter in more ways than one.

Flash forward two years.  The breast milk factory is closed.  We’re going with formula and compostable diapers. (We have a diaper service that picks the dirty diapers up and composts them, but if I happen to be out of the house and don’t want to lug the diaper back home, I can ditch it like a disposable one.) 

Another big difference this time around is that, J. has been home because he’s on summer break.   So, we’re basically treating this time period like an extended vacation.  I have an informal bucket list because I don’t want to feel like I’ve missed opportunities.  We went wine tasting on day 6 post surgery.  We go to the movies (Harry Potter 7-2 tomorrow).  I meet friends for lunch.  I go to parent support groups.  I feel much more present and available to my new baby and the rest of the family.  It helps that Ginger is a great sleeper.  It helps that it’s summer.  It helps that Max is an amazingly loving (though not particularly gentle) big brother.  It helps that we’ve gone down this road before.  It helps that we have an appreciation for how quickly it all changes, and we want to hold on just a little tighter this time around.

Sophomore Slump?

There’s beginner’s luck, and third time’s the charm.  But for second attempts there’s the sophomore slump.   This has been on my mind a lot lately when I look at my garden.

Last year, my backyard was a bounty.  This year, it’s more of a struggle to get my plants going — seeds, seedlings, a lot of non-starters so far.  I’m praying to the tomato gods that this harvest doesn’t disappoint because I have 7 plants that look like they have a shot. Cukes are a disaster.  Melons wouldn’t pop up.  Beans are showing their first little pods, but the plants are tiny.  Peppers are touch and go.  Arugula bolted almost as soon as it went in the ground.  Beets never really got going.  You get the picture.  [notice the lack of actual pictures… nothing to brag about]

I think before next year, I need to amend the soil in a serious way because it’s probably too depleted.  I don’t relish the thought of this, but I need to figure out a way to get a bulk amount of manure out here.   This means hiring someone to deliver it because we don’t have the kind of vehicles that can accomodate that kind of cargo. [This is one reason to have chickens, home based manure production!]   But I don’t think I can move on any of that till this fall because putting manure on my beds now will likely kill whatever little stuff I’ve got going.

The second ‘sophomore slump’ I’m concerned about is baby #2.  Friday was my last day of work, and now I have no more excuses… I have to start getting the house ready for the baby.  The things to do list is really long and I have to rely on help from other people to get a lot of them done, so having the days to myself is not necessarily the full solution.  That, and I have no stamina whatsoever — which means a lot of projects are likely to get started and then get the half ass treatment while I go lie down.  It makes me feel guilty because I know that with Max, I had all this crap figured out well in advance — but with all second babies, this one will suffer from less attention.  I’ll make it up to her somehow. (Maybe a pony as a manure source?)

Don’t laugh, but I’ve even considered bringing back the cleaning service to help me with my ‘nesting cleaning’ needs.  But I don’t think I can bring myself to do it.  It’s one thing when you’re away at the office, but standing around and pointing at what should get cleaned is just too… you know … for me.

Gardening Makes for Creative Cooking

This past weekend we were having family over and planned to do steak fajitas on the grill.   I looked at our beautiful radishes and thought that I had to incorporate it somehow into the meal.  So, I made a salsa composed of our mixed variety of radishes, our lemons which I preserved last month, our green onions, and some tomatoes we had in the fridge and some lime.  This was an amazing salsa!  I never would have thought of salsa with radish and preserved lemons if I didn’t grow/preserve this myself and was itching for a way to show it off.

A good ingredient begs for special attention.  Take, for example, this mama jama carrot I pulled up.    I feel like I should have honored it with some sort of special recipe.  But sometimes creativity gives way to practicality.  J. took it to work as part of his lunches, but I believe he got 3 lunches out of it.

And in unrelated news, had to share a cute picture of Max on his froggy potty.

Transplant Rejection

I haven’t had too much success with my seed-to-transplant process this year.  First batch of cukes (both pickling and salad cukes) burned to a crisp in the ground.  The tomatoes never got going and shriveled up, as well.  I’m reserving judgment on the beans because some of them are still holding on.  The bell peppers are highly questionable.

So, swallowed some pride and I hit the nursery this weekend.  I bought 7 types of tomatoes, a 6-pack of strawberries, and a golden bell pepper.  Before I could plant any of these, I had to clear out parts of the winter garden.  I picked the last of the shelling peas, snow peas, and cleaned up the spinach patch.  It was not as prolific as last year’s giant spinach leaves, but we grazed on it for a good few months, so it definitely worked out.   

I’m 32 weeks pregnant and my to-do list was longer than my body would accomodate.  I still need to plant 4 of the tomato plants and the bell pepper.  Maybe tomorrow night after work.

Time to check on lovely smelling banana bread in the oven.

(P.s. big Max milestone this weekend, he used the potty twice! )


Believe it or not, I’m still in trial.  But thankfully, I had the weekend off.  We hit the pool at the in-laws’ for a little bit of re-charging and also to get Max acclimated to water play. (We have a vacay coming up …)

We also pulled up the bolted spinach and lettuce plants.  It amazed me how much food we derived out of such a really small bit of land — just a few square feet.    The empty space has now been filled with new romaine starts and a butternut squash transplant.

I have no patience for starting seeds indoors right now.  I took the lazy approach and sprinkled some green onion, sage, coriander, and dill seeds in the empty spaces in the veggie patch.  I hope they do ok. 

Other recharging activities which I have undertaken: making strawberry jam, zucchini muffins, and picking cuke & pepper out of the garden for a tiny salad.

J. has been wonderful at picking up the slack.  He has been taking care of Max, shopping, making home repairs, cooking and watering the plants while I’ve been in court.  (BTW, I did two cross examinations and one direct exam. :)) 

 Max has been amazing.  He’s talking so much.  We think he said “I wuv you” today.  (heart melting…)

So cute I have to sit down

I was giving Max a bath tonight and he looks up and very clearly says “Button.” So I say, where do you see a button, Max?  Then he looks down at his belly button and says, “Baby Button.”


The cousins are super cute together.  But Max is getting more aggressive at taking Henry’s toys and Henry doesn’t care for it. 

We’re struggling with how to teach him proper behavior.  I know that at this age discipline is not supposed to work and you are supposed to re-direct… but when do time outs come into play?

Today we did a modified re-directing/timeout.  I took Max to another room and hung out with him myself for a few minutes to let him calm down.

It helped for a few minutes but the same bad behaviors pop right back in.  I hope he doesn’t turn out to b e a bully.

At Our Wits’ End

Where do I start?  I think we’re on night 5 with hardly any real sleep.

When Max first started teething and we’d complain to friends about the sleep interruptions and the pain, the veteran parents would tell us just wait till the molars come in.

Well, here we are.  We’re all miserable.  Max has not eaten in 2 full days.  He’s maybe taken in 3.5 ounces of liquids today.  He won’t let anything near his mouth.  We’ve tried Milk, formula, water, juice, sorbet.  Then we made him a banana milk shake and cut the top of the nipple to make a larger hole — hoping he would get a little bit of solid food that way.  Not a chance.  Eventually we had a little bit of success giving him a few sips of milk via a bottle cap.  We took him on a drive for an hour because we were hoping it would make him fall asleep (didn’t).  So on that trip I stopped by a CVS and got a medicine dropper to dispense milk to him that way.  I think I got another ounce down that way.

We tried Tylenol — which gave us a couple of hours of relief during the early nights.  We tried it again last night and he threw it up.  Picked up some disolvable teething tablets and we’re not sure they’re doing anything either.

We’re so frustrated because all of the things that usually work with Max aren’t working — and as a Jewish mother I just can’t stand it when he won’t eat!  I know he won’t starve — but this is coming from some other primal place.

The worst of it is that by all estimates this phase sticks around for a while.  What the crap am I going to do??

Can’t Resist that Face


I’m sure every mom thinks their kid is really cute.  I wonder how parents are able to discipline their kids when they pull a move and all you want to do is laugh and hug them.  Max takes on a hysterical tone when he repeats “no” back to us after we tell him not do something.  I just can’t keep a straight face and now he thinks “no” — and especially the serious, angry “no” — is just too funny.  Oops.  I’ve screwed him up for life.

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