Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's cold outside

Christmas was amazing. Plain and simple. It was a beautiful day full of great food, many loving moments and family. We stayed home which is nice and low stress, especially after our epic Thanksgiving travel.  My brother Jeff joined us and we had a great time opening presents and watching Cora take it all in. I am watching the news of the winter storms wreaking havoc on the eastern seaboard and giving thanks that we are home and not stuck in an airport somewhere between here and there.

Scott busted out some phenomenal holiday cooking, preparing a salt encrusted prime rib that would make any food critic swoon. Yes sir, we had some good eating in this house! I will definitely be moving my butt in the typical new years attempt to reverse the effects f all that eating.
Cora is on the verge of walking and I can't believe we have arrived at this point already. I watch her crawl and think about what a short period of her life she will have spent crawling. I am also excited to see her stand and walk, she is already walking along the edge of things, picking her path by what is available to hold onto.

I am finally able to read an occasional book and I had the fortune of stumbling upon this one which I absolutely loved.

Farm City by Novella Carpenter

Ms. Carpenter builds an urban farm in the middle of an abandoned lot in Oakland and writes candidly about the process. It was rejuvenating for me to read about someone adapting a traditional farming lifestyle in to the urban setting.

Another book I am a huge fan of right now is this soup cookbook.

Love Soup

This book has been making the blog rounds for a long time now but I finally checked it out. I was so excited by the first soup I made from it that I made two a week for three weeks!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

These Wild and Wonderous Days

Wow what a 30 days it has been. 30 days full of more work then I can schedule, whirlwind travel and an ever growing baby girl. This morning I'm sitting home watching my wonder play on the floor with the Christmas tree twinkling in the background. A year ago we wandered around our home whispering "can you believe next year we will have a little girl who is almost one year old".  Here we are and it is amazing beyond what we dared to imagine it would be and we are finally no longer whispering.

Amidst this happiness we lost a dear friend to lung cancer two weeks after her diagnosis. I have struggled with this, the news lodged itself to the right of my heart and had been spinning and throbbing there ever since. You see, we never got to say goodbye. We heard she was in hospice the day we flew out to spend Thanksgiving with my family and she passed the morning after we flew back. A week before that she was hugging Cora and happily telling me about the birth of her third grandchild. We never saw it coming.

Her name was Lisa and she was the maternal figurehead of our entire neighborhood. Lisa managed the pub on the corner (literally on our corner, a few houses down). Our local pub is more then a drinking spot, it is home to many of us. It is where we go when we want to share, when we are too tired to cook at home, when big news is breaking and we would rather watch it with our neighbors instead of alone. Our pub is the first place Scott and I scuttled into when we moved her 5 1/2 years ago. Lisa looked us up and down and knew right away that we were a couple of scared kids with just the shirts on our backs seeking shelter from the rain. She took us under her wing and never stopped caring for us. She was there with us celebrating every success and every sadness. I will never forget the knowing hug she gave me after I lost our first baby. She held me and let me cry and cry on her shoulder as the tears I didn't expect overcame me.

Now she is simply gone...within two weeks...gone. We are all in shock, stumbling into each others arms and trying to draw at straws of comfort. This week the sadness has lived in my chest and as our bodies are prone to doing it has settled into me and I am sore. I know enough about the emotional and physical relationship in the body to know this is what is happening. So I laugh and move my body and go to work and seek healers for myself to move through it. I was finally getting some massage yesterday when the tide shifted, the sadness opened into the knowledge of all I have to be so very grateful for and that Lisa is somewhere out there loving us and celebrating our happiness. I walked out of that session feeling healed on every level, the pain in my muscles diminished and the sadness in check. Such powerful work we do.

So here we are celebrating the passing of a generous and beautiful life and celebrating the abundance of our bright and shining life. The heart grows and expands to know these extremes if we just let it.

We had a whirlwind Thanksgiving trip to Montana which included a 17 hour "layover" is Seattle's airport. It took us 2 1/2 days to get from Portland to Kalispell when it should have been 4 hours of flying. Cora handled it like a champ and Scott and I survived and stand on the other end feeling like we earned a notch on the parenting belt. Once we got there we enjoyed the winter wonderland it had become. We hunkered down and had a great meal with family, Cora played in the snow for the first time and helped shovel the driveway with grandpa on his tractor. Cora also met her great grandpa who's mother she is named after. It was a blessed time. Then we were off to Missoula to see our beloved friends there and welcome a new spirit into the world. Heather gave birth to her third and as I held all 7 pounds of her I wondered at the power of life and tried to remember my baby ever being that small.

The longer and longer we are here the more I miss Missoula. I am starting to actively wonder if we will stay here once Scott is done with his apprenticeship. Missoula feels like home in every fiber of my being and I miss my people there! I imagine Cora growing up there in the town I love, learning to ski while she is young enough for it imprint in her DNA, the mountains and rivers coursing in her blood. Time will tell, we have several years left to go and in the mean time I am enjoying Portland and trying to maximize my time here. I am taking advantage of all the excellent learning opportunities here and have begun a serious study of Thai massage with my amazing teacher here. It's all about utilizing the gifts that are right in front of you.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Our Great Pumpkin

Happiest of Halloweens. It is 11:30am here and Scott and Cora are sleeping in after being up for the better part of the VERY early morning. As soon as they are awake we are kicking into Halloween mode. We are taking Cora to a kids friendly Halloween concert at 1 then later tonight some light trick or treating around our neighborhood.

Two weeks ago we went to a local pumpkin patch to procure the seasonal goods. All the years we were struggling to have a child these were the activities I pined over. I have a list of holiday traditions I want my children to enjoy and the annual trek to the pumpkin patch is very high on that list. So when the day came and our digital camera broke I was crushed. The thought of waiting 5 years for this day only to have no photos was unacceptable. A mad dash to Target and a new camera yielded these great photos. That's some of the best money I have ever spent.

This is my view every day walking with Cora. Isn't it the best?

Cora and I rode the bus downtown to meet up with Scott near his work. She was so shocked and excited to see him out of our normal routine.

It was a beautiful day as we took in our first corn maze

Can you believe how fast she is growing?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hustle and Flow

It's been awhile since I have written anything. I've been busy, pulled deep inside myself reflecting and licking some wounds. The theme turning over and over in my mind these days is community. What exactly is community to me, and why do I feel such a lack of it right now.

This summer was tumultuous, my sense of support and friendship have been rocked, shaken down for their last dime. For me living in a city has always meant a slow uphill process to making friends. While Portland, OR is the friendliest city I've ever known, a city it is and in the city people are very busy and already have their own community of friends to tend to. In the city everyone is in a hurry and there are just so damned many of us.

When we lived in Missoula, MT there was the ever present sense that by living there you had chosen a life that wasn't terribly easy but amazingly rewarding. That sense was a silent bond that ran through every single person in that valley. We are all in this together. It was so easy to spend time with the people you love, the speed of which a back yard barbecue could be organized was amazing...even before cell phones.

By the time we moved away from Missoula I was frustrated that I couldn't walk to the bank, or anywhere for that matter, without running into 2-5 people I knew and felt pressure to stop and talk to. Now all these years later every cell in my body is craving that slow pace, craving the leisurely stroll surrounded by so many people who I care about and who care how my life is going. Now we run errands for weeks and months on end surrounded by people without seeing anyone we know.

Perhaps it is being a parent that has deepened this urge for more community, although I did feel it long before Cora. Now that she is here it isn't just a feeling but an ever present knocking inside my head. I am never lonely with Cora and Scott but somehow we are lonely together, wondering where our people are.

It hasn't always been this hard for us, for me, but this summer we said goodbye to not one, not two, but three of our good friends and their daughters. One by one these families who we had grown close to, who we shared meals with and the births of all of our children together, left. Flew the coop.  See ya later when our kiddos are much bigger and too many things have happened to share with each other.

In a place where it takes such a long time to cultivate a friendship the loss of my close friends has been devastating. All three of them had daughters under the age of two. I thought Cora would grow up with these girls, that we would all take turns watching our kids and picking up great beer for each other. My friend Deanna and I would swap massages and homemade cookies with a speed that could make your head turn. My friend Tele was always there when I needed someone to talk me down off the ledge and my friend Jen was the best for spending a lovely afternoon with exploring different and kid friendly parts of our city. Now they all call the east coast home with their partners and daughters. Ironic since that is where I grew up, they have all returned and I sit out here feeling like a light house on the Pacific.

So here I am my life so full of love and happiness yet yearning for friends to share it with. It feels very off balance and it takes a tremendous burst of energy to right the balance. I am slowly getting there, begrudging the process and mobilizing my efforts to yet again build a community. I told Scott the other day that I feel like a spider whose web was just blown apart, I am scrambling like crazy picking up the strands and weaving them back together. It is tiring and hard to get excited about doing this, starting at square one again but square one is where I am and there is only one way back to balance.

Later this week I am meeting a group of moms that our midwife put me in touch with. All of these ladies have delivered their babies in the last 8months with the same midwife so we should have many things in common. At least I hope we do.  I hope we laugh easily and pass our babes around with trust and let each other try our cookies and pie and delight in each others reactions. I will do my best to have an open heart.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cardigans and wool socks

It's the end of summer....At first I mourned the loss along with out tomato crop but I've come around. Now I am excited for fall. The weather is turning, the chickens are blissed out scratching through the fallen leaves. I am reaching for cardigans and wool socks are just around the corner.

We have some good friends coming to visit in December so we are preparing for them with much excitement. Favorite seasonal recipes are being compiled as well as a to do list of our favorite activities including an escape to the coast to watch the winter storms.

It's been such a fantastic and busy summer it is hard to catch up with all of the photos.

Here's a few from our last trip to the coast with Cora. We had a sweet little cabin and I finally saw my first ocean sunset and my first grey whale and Scott tried his hand at deep sea fishing.

Our cabin was just outside of Long Beach, Wa. We spent an afternoon combing through town and stumbled on this great little museum full of vintage vending games and two headed calves.

We also blasted through our birthday season. Scott's birthday is 10 days before mine. We were of course exhausted but it was so much sweeter to have Cora here to celebrate with us.

Scott requested banana cream pie so I attempted my first ever. It turned out soooooo good!
The best birthday present was learning that my grandfather was out of the hospital and feeling healthy. We can't wait to see him at Thanksgiving. Cora is named after his mother and the thought of her not getting to meet him was crushing me. We are very lucky to have him and it will be so special spending the holiday with him and my parents.

I managed to change out of yoga pants for and evening birthday dinner. It feels so nice to get dressed up once in awhile.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Sometimes all a mama needs after weeks of broken sleep, major stressful business decisions, and a run in with horrible internet scam artists is a date night.

This weekend was a rough one. I was at the end of my rope with exhaustion and no time for myself. I never seem to be able to have this conversation with Scott when I am awake and coherent. No, that would make too much sense. Instead it's at 2am when I wake him up and plead with him for more help that my patience boils over and feeling get hurt.

So our weekend was lurching along like that, trying to communicate and restructure our approach to Cora's sleep while both being exhausted with huge "to do" lists just wasn't working. We were both trying to get things done in the house so we could tackle the chicken coop which needed its quarterly deep clean. Then the old apple tree in the lawn took its last sigh and fell over, root ball and all, onto our beautiful hammock that was a gift from my lovely mother in law. Seriously universe? Really?

When I got the call Sunday afternoon (while at the farm store with Cora picking up a bale of hay for the chickens) that the babysitter was cancelling for our date that night I just about lost it.  Our date was a light at the end of a very long tunnel and just like that it had been snuffed out. I came home and Scott woke up from a much needed nap and we both knew we were too defeated to make any more calls for another babysitter. We decided instead to clean the kitchen...did I mention we are both Virgos?

So a few hours later when our babysitter called back to say she could indeed come and sit with Cora it was an unexpected delight. A quick flurry of clothing change, a few wisps of makeup, a quick nursing of Cora and we were out the door and heading to a movie. Movie going is one thing I knew would be difficult to give up. Pre-baby we went to lots of movies, being blessed to live in a city with several half priced pub theaters it was always an affordable treat. Since Cora has been born that has slowed down and I miss it, so heading out for a movie date was incredibly exciting.

We settled in and the movie wasn't even all that entertaining, I was just high on the smell of popcorn and holding Scott's hand in the dark theater stopping to look at each other and laugh together at the funny moments. At one point in the film I got up to get us another beer. When I came back in to the theater I took a moment and just stood in the back, taking it all in. The dark room, all those people grouped in clusters watching the light travel through the air to entertain us on the screen. A few precious hours away from bills, traffic, what's for dinner and did the laundry get changed over. Heaven.

Once the movie is out it's a race home with a pit of excitement in my stomach to see and cuddle Cora. Life feels so good and full right now, such a change from the sadness of the last few years. We worked so hard to get to this point, hung on when life was pounding us against the rocks. I'm so fortunate to be here.

After I thanked the babysitter, kissed Scott goodnight and got Cora to sleep I danced around the house on tip toe. Like a thief in the night I removed frozen blueberries from the freezer, checked to see, and yes we had exactly four eggs from the chickens, smelled the buttermilk to make sure it wasn't bad and did my one of my favorite things. Baked blueberry muffins for my family. No mixer this time, just my hand in the bowl bringing it all together and smushing it into the muffin tins fingers slippery with butter. Then I sat down with my cup of tea while the house filled with that delicious baking smell and took it all in.

Not a bad way to end a weekend that started out so brutally difficult.

Thank god for:

date nights
hubbies who help in the middle of the night
good, strong local beer
a baby who decided to sleep well for one night
and extra large muffin tins

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Times They Are A Changin'

I woke up this morning in a pensive, reflective mood. Exhausted from a rough week with Cora not sleeping due to teething, I opened my computer to images of the Sept. 11th Twin Towers attack. My mind spun back through the last nine years, taking me to the morning it happened. I was still in college then, gearing up for another full school year. I walked into my apartment that morning to find my brother sitting in front of the television in shock. The first tower had just been hit. We sat together in the quiet house and watched in horror as the second building was hit and the eventual collapse of both. We grew up in upstate New York, we had both been to those buildings, and we had friends living in Manhattan. I have never felt so far away from that life as I did at that moment.

Nine years later and that day feels like yesterday. Nine years later and I remember visiting the site of destruction six months after while they crews were still removing pieces of the building and identifying small pieces of people. Nine years later and I pray this will be the only terrifying historical event that "I will recall exactly what I was doing at that moment" for the rest of my life.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You And I And A Flame Makes Three

Tonight was another long work day for both Scott and myself. Standing in the kitchen trying to dream up dinner it was pretty obvious it was going to be mostly leftovers.

Cora has been slowly eating solids over the past few weeks. It's been a slow start but last night she decided she was all in favor of filling up her belly. She started crying and crying which is so rare for her. After cycling through all the possible reasons she could be upset I thought I would try feeding her a bit more. As I pulled her food container out of the fridge she started shrieking with joy and lunged for it trying to fit the whole thing in her mouth. Fifteen minutes later I had a very happy very full baby.

Which brings me round to dinner tonight. All the foods that Cora has eaten so far I had prepared in one big batch, freezing extra and thawing it as needed. After her big hunger last night I was suddenly out of the prepped food. Standing in the kitchen tonight was the first time I made dinner for the three of us together. It was such a simple thing, yet such a beautiful and sweet moment. To stand in my kitchen, hand on my hip as I've done a thousand times before brainstorming what to make us.  Only now there are three of us and this whole new person to consider, and a change in the routine I have always moved through.

It was a moment I've been waiting for ever since Cora was born, a moment when the tension and fear inside me uncoiled and relaxed.

It is all ok

she is here

she is healthy

and happy and thriving...

and she loves sweet potatoes.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Every time I think it isn't possible for my heart to swell any bigger I see this and it takes my breath away.

Cora and daddy at Lubrecht Experimental Forest for Ben and Amy's wedding this summer. I was off getting ready for the ceremony and they were hanging out exploring.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer Nesting

I love this photo, it speaks to me of this entire summer. The light is perfect, the day is pleasantly fading and we are blessed with family around us sharing our table and bouncing Cora.

Wow, I'm not sure how it is possibly August yet. Here we are, the days getting shorter and Cora getting bigger. The tomatoes are ripening in the garden and I've been busy doing more canning then ever. Last year I was very sick and emotionally paralyzed by the fear that something might go wrong with the pregnancy so I missed the rhythms of my usual domestic course. No gardening and no canning meant a very strange year for me. I still feel disbelief when I look at Cora, I am still waiting for the last of the fear to float away.

This summer has been a very full time. Filled with Cora, lots of travel, farmer's markets, and work, work, work. I was concerned when I took my maternity leave that my business would flounder. I had visions of returning back to work, hanging out my "shingle" only to sit in a quiet empty room wondering how I would make my overhead. Little did I know it would be very much the opposite. After a few months back I have all the business this new mama can handle. I have to check in with myself regularly to set boundaries so I do not burn out. I am very, very fortunate to be navigating this space.

A huge professional passion of mine is teaching. My entire life I've wanted to teach, I was never sure what subject this route would take. When I was in college I was on a PhD tract, thinking that was my route, to become a university professor. I quickly became disillusioned with the professional academic process and went the way of bodywork. There were many, many times during massage school that I felt strongly that I would love to teach bodywork. It's been two years since I graduated and every time I have a new ephiphany I find myself thinking "how would I share this knowledge with a class".

A few weeks ago I was finally given that opportunity. I was invited back to my school to give a simple speech about why I love what I do and then give a short demonstration of a type of bodywork I use often. The event was actually for people who were contemplating going to massage school and it was wild to stand before a group of people and remember what that felt like. To be standing at the edge of making a major life change, to be full of questions, excitement and uncertainty. I loved every second of it, and apparently the school liked what I did because I have been invited back to teach a full day introduction to massage class next saturday. This is also a one time deal but I am pleased and excited none the less.

These last weeks haven't been without their challenges. I've battled mastitis and thrush TWICE, Scott and I are both working too much, and I had my first run in with international scam artists on Craigslist. We have both been feeling a huge urge to change our living situation now that Cora is here. It is a primal, deep, biological urge that is difficult to control. I was never much for nesting when I was pregnant but I am making up for it now that she is here. The funny thing is that our current apartment is very, very nice, is suited well to us. However, now that we have Cora we want a home of our own. I think that urge makes sense, and I understand where it is coming from. Unfortunately the current lending market doesn't and after a few conversations with our mortgage broker we see that we are still far away from that goal. So now we have the challenge of reconciling ourselves with how it feels to hear that and our current situation.

First we felt that we would just stay here and as lovely as it is it isn't ideal. It's an old home and we have neighbors above us and below us in the other apartments. This was always fine but now I find my deep mama bear getting ruffled whenever one of my neighbors slams a door too loud when baby is sleeping or I can't get to sleep because their tv is turned up too loud. These were all simple realities of living amongst people before, I was never so sensitive to it. Also our second bedroom here isn't a legal second bedroom. It used to be a porch in fact and does not have the proper insulation to make it feel nice in the winter. So, we have some decisions to make.

After thinking it through I decided we would look for a home to rent until we are ready to by. After getting over the paralyzing thought of packing up and moving all of our things to yet another rental, I started to get excited at the notion. Three weeks later, a series of landlords who stop communication once they find out we have dogs, and one internet scam artist who wanted us to wire money to London later and I am done. Done. Done. Done. The amount of works it takes to rent an apartment in this city, in this market is staggering. I stopped short of the next necessary step which is to create a "portfolio" about our family, highlighting how much money we have in the bank and what a great family we would be to rent to. I just can't do it.

So here we are, in a strange way come full circle. I've mostly exhausted the urge for a change and am being positive about our current situation. We love our yard, room for my garden and the chickens. We love that this is the place that Cora came home to for the first time. We will most likely spend a bit of time/money sprucing up the place, freshening it, adding a few pieces of furniture to make it feel different and more functional. We are also going to talk with the landlords about properly insulating that room.

Cora is resting next to me in her pack and play. I love that it takes her 45 minutes to an hour to fully wake up in the morning. Just like mama. I sit and drink coffee and she coos at her toys and slowly opens her eyes fully. I can not believe she is six months old now. She is mostly sitting up on her own, very close to crawling and eating advocado, blueberries and sweet potato. She is still struggling with her first teeth, she has been teething for two months now. Poor thing, I wish they would just break through and give her some relief before the next ones start in. I also wish for me that we could sleep comfortably at night without her waking to teething pain.

Here are a few photos from the summer, I have many more. My older brother Casey came to visit and brought his youngest, our nephew Xavier. It was such an amazing to time to have them here from New York. I wish we could all live closer, sigh.....We also had an amazing time visiting family in Chicago. The time goes by so fast during a visit, and before I know it it will be too long until we see our nieces and nephews again. Thank god for Skype but there is no replacement for a kisses and hugs.

My brother and his youngest, Cora's cousin Xavier

Cora loves to sit in this highchair and hang out in the kitchen while we cook. Side note: this is exactly where I was standing when my water broke...minus the kitchen knife:)

Our Chicago trip was full of family and too little time!

Auntie Kate with Cora and cousin Mason

Cora with her great grandpa Floyd

Cora and cousin Jackson

Scott with Grandpa Floyd

I love this photo! Cora meets great-grandma Gloria

Cora's first trip to the ocean. Notice we aren't on the beach. Cora got sand in her eyes almost immediately and cried it out and herself into an exhausted sleep:(

Casey, Jeff, and Xzavier, Cannon Beach

My little peanut butter