Monday, October 29, 2012

A dream come true

When we were first looking for a house in Fort Collins, long before H's arrival on the scene, we had a very extensive list of characteristics we'd like to have in our future home. These included things like a wood stove, a sunny garden (for P's veggies) but also a shady garden (for my fair skin), a yoga room/space (what?), wood floors, gas stove, and skylights. We ended up in a little house that has one or two of these features, but not others, and in a lot of ways what we ended up with is just right. But, one of the things on my personal wish-list was "view of the mountains," and though it was never recorded on any list, what I really wanted was "view of the mountains from the kitchen window". Anyway, this is one of the things that isn't a feature of our present house. Or so I thought! In happy fall news, when the leaves are off the trees we have a tiny clearing through which we can see a sliver of the foothills. Lucky me! Hooray for fall, after all.

I took a picture of the "view of the mountains from the kitchen window",  but to be honest it isn't that nice looking. So here is a photo of our pumpkins, which I can also view from the kitchen window, and I think are rather jaunty and autumnal, anyway.

Friday, October 26, 2012

On not voting

As we ramp up to the American elections, it is weird to be living in a country where I can't vote. I feel at once highly invested in the outcome of the election, but also completely alienated from the process. I have never thought about it before, but I'm sure this is the way that countless newcomers to Canada feel around election time. On a similar note, I was chatting with our French Canadian neighbour about the mind-numbing bureaucracy involved with trying to get a car legally across the border. She pointed out that whatever inconveniences we experience as Canadians in the US are nothing compared to say, some of her husbands colleagues at the university, who happen to be from Iraq.

But back to the election. It seems conceivable that I could exert more influence through talking to community members here than simply casting a single vote, but I still feel robbed of my democratic rights! Especially since we live in a swing riding in a swing state (except they aren't called ridings here I don't think).

We have been watching the debates, which has been entertaining. Not as entertaining as the songified versions of course (the second one is the best -- I laugh every time Candy goes "oooo!"), but good television nonetheless. I wonder whether the songified versions actually get some of the essential messages out to people who ordinarily wouldn't pay much attention to politics. Or, perhaps they simply provide more big bird/ binders of women/ bayonets style funnies that kind of eclipse the real messages.

In any case, if Romney wins, we're leaving. For realsies. I was too lazy to exit the warmth of the house this morning to take a picture of our Obama sign in the snow, so what we have here is the rather subtle view from the window.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kraut update: ew gross

We tried the kraut tonight. It tasted like foot. Totally inedible. Why?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Backwardly mobile: Heiko at 6 months

Little H's health is now sufficiently improved that I feel happy about writing a six month update. He is quite the wee half-year old man.

We recently started solid food with him. We are trying the baby led weaning approach, which essentially means that we just give Heiko pieces of food (ideally what we are eating ourselves) and he just does what he can do with them. No purees. So far we've tried steamed carrot, apple, steamed broccoli (might be his favourite so far), banana, pasta, roasted sweet potato, bbq chicken, avocado and rice cake.

In practice, this isn't exactly what we are eating, and everything we give him right now needs to be stick shaped so that he can grab it with his fist and still have a bit of food sticking out to num on. But the preparation of stick-shaped meals isn't so bad really, and he seems to be having lots of fun with it, even if he isn't really eating much just yet. He loved the chicken, which was funny to see.

I'm not really sure about the baby led weaning approach, at this point. The reasons that it appealed to me were the idea that "he just eats what we eat" (which, as I said, isn't really possible at this point... little hands can't really handle rice and beans just yet, but hopefully in a few months), and also the promise that BLW babies "will eat anything" (including his tray when he's had enough of the actual food apparently). On the other hand, people have been doing purees for ever, and the BLW thing seems a bit fad-ish. We'll see. I'll report back in a few months.

At some point I told myself that I wouldn't be the kind of parent to take lots of photos of their kid covered in food. So much for that.

As far as his mobility is concerned, I feel like he has been "almost crawling" for weeks now. He has been doing the plank like crazy. What he IS getting very good at is scooting along backwards. He can actually go quite far and quite fast. Today I had my first baby-proofing fail: I was making a coffee in the kitchen and left him on his quilt in the living room (just around the corner). When I emerged he had inched right off his mat, and had unplugged my computer cable from my computer and was numming it. Bad mummy. On the bright side,  I won't be making that mistake again. In the photo below, he got there himself. Other favourite destinations include under the couch or under the table.

In addition to his backward worming skills, he is also just a lot more wriggly and squirmy these days. He just wants to go go go, which is cute, although his go-ing skills are still limited.

His smile is still just that wonderful little gummy one -- no teeth yet. He has started to laugh occasionally, I think he is a late-bloomer on this front. But when he does, it is essentially the cutest thing I have ever heard. It usually involves belly tickles, or dad making funny sounds.

We love this little guy!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A very special visit

Writing this post brings warmth to my heart!

Last week we had an extremely lovely visit from Sara. It was a whirlwind of bike rides, elaborate meals, homemade mustard (!), backyard campfires, grocery getting, photo taking, bird sightings, Heiko hang-outs, Heiko snuggles, long chats, long walks, experimental cooking, crabapple butter, crabapple jelly, more long chats, going out for coffees, staying in for dinners, fermentation advice sharing and just plain fun!

Heiko loooooooooves his aunt Sara. She knows all about which rattle is the rattliest, and when long walks are just what everyone needs. We all miss her! Sniff.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday morning

Last night was looking promising for sleep. Heiko's congestion seemed to have gone down, and we had set up a new humidifier which hopefully would help with his coughing. We all got tucked in, ready for a solid night of sleep to the reassuring burble of the humidifier.

But, well, first of all, Patrick and I had eaten too much chocolate. That is just the truth, although I don't like to admit it. The Theo 85% is not a bedtime chocolate, people, especially if you have the nursing-mama-after-dinner-hungries. So we got off to a rough start. A very rough start indeed.

Then H woke up and refused to fall asleep anywhere except in the arms of a walking adult. He finally fell asleep for an hour or two in his swing chair, before coming back to bed with me to nurse and thrash around. No barfing, though, so that has to be worth something. Finally everyone back to sleep again.

Anyway, then, THEN! in the dark hours of the morning Heiko was at last sleeping soundly when the carbon monoxide detector went off. Spooky. P reset it, and off it went again, and again and again. So it was time to open the windows and doors and get out of the house.  Looks like our 50+ year old furnace has got to go. Happily we had an emergency heating guy come by and check everything out, and we are back in the warmth for now, though we still don't know the source (my bets are on the humidifier, though this is based on nothing).

Yep. So, what did I say yesterday about not whining about how little sleep I'm getting anymore? Tomorrow my friends. Tomorrow a new leaf will turn.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I can see!

Do you remember that episode of Little House on the Prairie, when Mary goes blind? I do. I think I watched it at my cousin's house, and it had that feeling of being the type of thing that I wouldn't be able to watch at home (although I'm not sure that this was true). Anyway, the episode formed everything I knew about blindness, and it wasn't good. Reading the plot synopsis now, it all makes a lot more sense: Mary's eyesight was worsening, and then Scarlet Fever took it away for good (all was eventually OK, she learned how to read braille, and that is how I learned about what braille is).

Anyway, my memory of the episode is a little different. What I remember is this: Mary gets to the top of the ladder leading to the bunk where she and her siblings sleep, and she suddenly says: "Pa! I can't see!". I think the episode was part 2 of 2, and I didn't see part 1, which probably explained the whole Scarlet Fever thing. So, as a young woman I would sometimes think of this event in Mary's life and wonder if I too would be struck down in a similar dramatic fashion with blindness. Happily, I was not.

However, my eyesight has worsened over the years. About five years ago I got my first prescription for glasses, and I was surprised by how awesome my glasses were. Suddenly I could concentrate on reading or schoolwork, and this being during the early coursework days of my PhD, my newfound concentration was most welcome. Interestingly (is it, Ross?) the condition that I have (far-sightedness) is sometimes mis-diagnosed as attention deficient disorder in children, because it has the effect of making concentration difficult. Essentially the eyes can focus, but the muscles need to work a lot harder to do so, making sustained attention challenging.

Since Heiko was born I have been feeling, well, tired. Ha! Funny! But the thing is that my eyes have been feeling tired too. So I felt somewhat vindicated when I went to the eye doctor last week and discovered that my prescription is now quite a bit stronger than it was before. I swapped out the lenses in my glasses on Friday (how do they do that?) and I feel like a new woman. Pa! I can see!

This is a boring post, sorry. I'm just excited about being able to see again. I can't even post a picture of my new glasses, because they are just my old glasses, but now with more +.
In Heiko news: still sick. Still with the night barfs. I thought we were done with it, but there they were again.

In job news: I spent the early part of the week feverishly updating everything, and happily submitted my second job application on Wednesday. I received an e-mail on the very same day saying that I didn't get it. The prompt reply was nice, but it kind of eliminated that sense of satisfaction of having done something. You see, I applied a week late. Not that I would have necessarily had a chance at the position if I had applied on time, but of all the reasons not to get a job, applying late is super lame. Like, super duper lame. It bugs me a lot, actually, mainly because I feel like I really dropped the ball on it, and I don't think of myself as the ball-dropping type. At least not as far as deadlines are concerned. Can I please blame my shitty eyesight?

Well, scratch Berlin from the list of possible exciting places for next year. Still on the list (almost as good too)? "One of America's best kept secrets": Fargo, North Dakota.

OK, I better cut this off. I hope to have lots of colourful and cheerful posts next week (including more details on the backyard awesomeness pictured above. FIRES! MALLOWS!). Hopefully less will be said about how tired I am, and how much barf there is everywhere. A happy and vividly rendered weekend to all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fermentation station

So I made Sauerkraut for the first time. Well, I should say that I started some Sauerkraut, I guess we'll have to wait and see how it turns out. Who knew it was so easy? Sara advised me on all matters 'kraut, thanks sis.
 My kitchen ghost:
People keep asking me what Heiko is going to be for Halloween. The answer is obvious: he will be a ghost. I love ghosts. What could be cuter than a tiny little ghost? BOO!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Lots of updates coming (Sara's visit, saurkraut, campfires!, woodpeckers, solid food, funnn) but right now I must plunge face first into math to finish my research statement for a few more job applications. In brief, Heiko is feeling better, his parents are feeling worse. So it goes....

Friday, October 12, 2012

Six months, the prequel

Today is Heiko's six-month birthday. I meant to write a really nice what-he's-been-up-to kind of post with lots of pictures of his cute gummy smile and proto-crawls, but sadly that's not in the cards for tonight. Heiko greeted the half-year mark by barfing all over everything (in the darkness!) and developing a fever. Today has been all about just cuddling with my clingy boy. I'll post some glamour shots once the snot onslaught has passed.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The first application

Last night I submitted my first job application of the season. I had forgotten how time-consuming it is to write cover letters and grovelling e-mails, not to mention CVs and research statements. But I wanted to apply for one job at least, as a warm-up and to get the ball rolling on other applications. It's a job that I'd be excited to take if for some random reason they decide I'm a good candidate (it is a real long-shot). But part of me feels that since have spent the time making an application, they should just give me the job, you know? I may have even frittered away some of the precious nap-time minutes this morning looking for an apartment in the job location instead of working on more applications. Bad me.

In more fun news, yesterday Sara, Heiko and I went for a lovely bike ride, hike and picnic to this place:

I remember that when P and I first visited Fort Collins, we did the same ride over to the foothills. We huffed and puffed over the tiny hills, while bronzed Coloradans jogged and biked by. Yesterday was a little similar in a way, as I was carrying both Heiko and my backpack. He had a rare snooze in the front pack.

We saw A LOT of ground squirrels. HAI guys!

Sara looked for pine nuts. Upon finding none, we settled for a picnic of camembert, avocado, and hummus sandwiches.
A good time was had by all. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Turning one

Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited by some new friends to a birthday party for a one year old. She looked pretty confused by all the attention, but still seemed to enjoy her cupcake.
Heiko took an interest in this other little party-goer:
In just a few short days Heiko will have his half-year birthday. And then, before we know it, I guess it'll be April 12 again, and Heiko will be blowing out his own birthday candle, or something. We'll see. It seems like a few things are going to happen first. For example, this guy is definitely getting some ideas about crawling.
He knows it, too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanksgiving monday

We aren't celebrating thanksgiving this year, because we will be in the wrong country for both Canadian and American thanksgiving. Too bad, since I do like me my turkey. But it adzuki bean stew for us, tonight.

Speaking of which, nothing makes me homesick quite like reading blogTO. It is mainly just the restaurant reviews that get me. I miss food! There are actually some decent food options here in Fort Collins, but, let's face it, Toronto is amazing for food.

Still, my wonderful sister Sara is visiting this week, which means we'll be in search of Colorado's finest buffalo meat, as well as being treated to a sampling some of her vegan use-what-you-got specialties, such as sprouted lentil burgers.
To those in the North who are lucky enough to be eating turkey and pumpkin pie today, enjoy some for me please. Don't forget the cranberry sauce!

Now here we go: Looking back, I'm really really into Loveliness 289. But this year I'm going to keep it a little more streamlined. This year, I'm most thankful for family. I feel like Heiko has added a new dimension and richness to this notion of family, and has made me appreciate each and every member of my far-away family. Miss you all!

PS. If you are wearing fleece, then you might as well do matching.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It is 2 degrees

Just a few days ago I was cruising around on a bike in a t-shirt, sweating, actually. I think it was 28 degrees (Celcius, people. Is it true that Canadians talk about the weather more than other people? I have had a few dumb conversations here where I mention the temperature and then realize that no one has any idea what I'm talking about). And now? It is 2 degrees. Earlier, this happened:

No matter. Look what I finished! My lavender jacket!

I'm medium happy with it. I slimified the sleeves, and I don't think it misses anything: they are still plenty voluminous. I even had enough yarn left over to make a pocket. I love having a place to put my hands away, even if I can only stow the right hand. After sewing it together I actually have less than a metre of yarn remaining, which is great.

I wish that the whole thing was just a little more structural, as the jacket in the pattern seems to be. I am a super loose knitter, and there was no guage provided, so that probably explains that. Still, I hope to get a fair bit of play out of it as the mercury drops.

I think I'm going to knit a few Heiko-sized projects in the near future. Patrick and I have made some kind of agreement to try to knit through the stash this winter, so little things are in the forecast. Lucky for me I'm got a willing model.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday, again

I had something else planned for the blog today, but well... I'm starting to sound like a broken record I suppose. It has been a week of abysmal sleep, for all of us. Yes, that is the ridiculous part. I think Heiko is just as tired as P and me. So we are all cranky around here, and H seems to need a lot of snuggles.

Anyway, it is Friday, and it is cold. Our sketchy crawlspace furnace that is the same vintage as the home is blowing hot dusty air into the house. Heiko and I went out and about for a walk in the chilliness, in celebration of the first day of the season for boots. Boots and hats and gloves and scarves and several sweaters and wool socks. Throw in a fleece because it is Colorado and who cares?
Happy friday and happy fall, folks!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thinking back, three snapshots of motherhood

Yesterday I had several reasons to think back to the early days of motherhood.

First I recently made a nice discovery, which is that an acquaintance from graduate school is a new prof in the computer science department here at CSU. Even better, she is seven months pregnant! We caught up yesterday over coffee, and she asked me all of her pressing pregnancy questions. You know, about stretch marks, what happens to all that skin afterwards (it goes away, somehow), and does it hurt? Or maybe the question was more like: be honest, how MUCH does it hurt? It was great to reconnect, and to remember that anticipatory round belly time.

I am also thinking of the lovely Ms. S., who is awaiting her own little one any day now. It is going to be amazing! I remember those waiting days, when I knew that my life was on the verge of changing so monumentally without understanding how or when it was going to happen, what it would feel like, or what it would be like afterward. In retrospect it was such a beautiful, transitional and introspective time. Can't wait to meet the minnow, S! Happy birth thoughts to you!

And finally, yesterday at mom and baby yoga I saw a sad scene. A mum who was there with her eight-ish week old baby telling the instructor that next week she'd be going back to work. She was crying. It actually made me tearful too, in part because I remember those days of raging RAGING postpartum hormones when everything would bring me to tears. But more intellectually it troubles me that maternity leaves are so short here. I do want to say that some mothers are no doubt fully ready at eight weeks to go back to work, and that there are lots of different ways of being an excellent mother, including pursuing the work that sustains you. But it tears at my heart a little, to put myself in her shoes.

So there we are. A few little thoughts on motherhood. Plus looking back on pictures of my big belly truly surprise me. At the time I didn't think it was that big. But it really really was!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Yesterday I met another woman with a six month old baby. She told me that she had been trying to get the child to do "side-time," but that it's hard to get her "in the right position." What? Did I miss a memo? I thought we just cared about tummy time. Ugh. Out-mommied again! (<----- jokes)

In other news, when I show Heiko how cool he looks in his glasses, he smiles. But he still takes them off for numming.

And, I'm finally one of those people I have envied for a while now, who lull their babies to sleep by driving in their cars (to and from errands or outings) then bring the car seat containing the sleeping baby into the house for continued napping. But all by bike! That bike trailer is pure gold, plus the generous cargo compartment easily fits a week's worth of groceries, together with a week's worth of board books from the library.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weekend part deux

As I said yesterday, it was a lovely weekend. On Sunday morning, we said an early-morning goodbye to granddad, but not before another quick three generations photo shoot. Heiko had other things on his mind.
 Weee! Good morning world!
 Next it was time for a bike ride and snack-picnic!

We biked over to the foothills. It is a gradual uphill over about 9km of bike trails, so my legs were burning with the trailer behind. Heiko, on the other hand, had a comprehensive snooze.  We saw three young deer along the way, and a few little snakes.
 Everyone gets to num on a carrot.
 So relaxing.
On the way home we picked up some Indian take-out (what, it was only a snack picnic), and then had another picnic in the backyard when we got home. Three picnics in one weekend, pretty much my dream come true.