Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dear Rye :: 11mos

Dear Rye,
When people asked, I told them you were 10 months old. Then days before you turned 11 months I realized I'd missed the part where I normally say "x-and-a-half-months". You were days days! from 11months! Dad is quick to point out that 11 months means that next month will be 12 months! Eek! How has 11 months sped by so fast.
I'll tell you. We've done a whole bunch of stuff! And you've definitely been a huge part and made it all more exciting and fun.

You are now a total pro at moving around. You can crawl. You can pull yourself up. You can slowly lower yourself from a standing to a sitting position. You can roll.
It's a whole new world out there - ready for you to pull apart explore. We shake our head at your antics and are surprised at what you find to get into investigate. You are very interested in plugs - whether a cord is inserted to them or not. You love opening the woodstove grate and cabinets and drawers ... and pulling out the contents. Boxes are also fun to empty. As are bookshelves. And laundry baskets. You've even recently made it up a stair or two.

You tagged along with Nina and I on a garage-sale-ing adventure one Saturday and happily smiled and waved to everyone who passed by. You seemed quite stunned that the wave and smile wasn't reciprocated by everyone. It was a crowded day and people didn't always see you. It was as if they weren't all there to see you. I know this is surprising because at the store - you are the highlight. You smile and wave, or shyly tuck your face into my neck ... before smiling big ... for anyone who comes in the door. When customers get their meals, you will often crawl right over to their table, waiting patiently - because surely they are going to share their meal with you! It's so fun to watch other people find you as charming as we do. Occasionally, if you're not in our arms, you will take a dislike to someone - usually someone with a beard - and burst out crying, terrified. This is a new phenomenon. Usually a quick snuggle and you are on your way again.

Nina got a new dog this month and you are loving him. Fortunately, he is tolerant. He avoids you, or patiently waits while someone rushes over to rescue him - on the few occasions where you've been too enthusiastic in your attentions. He also comes at a convenient time as you are eating more and more solids ... which means more and more messes under your seat at the table. The dog never complains about having clean up duty.

We went to visit friends on the other side of the Adirondacks this month. You are okay in the car if we start early enough ... but in general, the later in the day, the less tolerant of life you are - but that's all relative, because you're still relatively chill. So the last third of the trip can be long, when you really need to fall asleep. But then you are all smiles when we arrive and it's fun to realize the huge developmental changes that have happened since a previous visit (in this case, about three months). You are way more interested in the other kids now ... and are interested in tasting chalk, crayons, grass, paper, video-game-controllers ... It's always exciting.
You do better in the car if Noah and/or Del are there to be a friendly face. But you spent most of that trip, taking whatever Noah offered and immediately throwing it on the far side of your seat - out of Noah's reach. Only to fuss again and Noah hand you another random item that has found itself in our vehicle.

It's fun to see how quickly you catch on. You clearly understand words like "up" and "bite" and your name and "c'mere" and "dog/cat". You're waving and clapping, and playing peek-a-boo. You might be signing some things but it isn't too obvious yet (did she just sign "milk" or was that random??). You copy what other people are doing - drinking from a cup, whacking a block on a table, waving. You crack up laughing when someone does something you didn't expect. And your giggle is irresistible.

I can't believe how big you're getting and how quickly you're maturing - but I'm also loving every second of it! You're such a cool baby.
Thank you for being you.
Love you always,

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dear Rye :: 10 mos

Dear Rye,
You're crawling! Not fast or very coordinated - but you can move your body. The thing is, you usually are happy to just sit tight and not move. I see babies your age fighting diaper changes because they just want to m-o-v-e!! Not you. I can leave you on your back and go and get wipes from a different room ... when I come back, you're where I left you. Maybe not super happy that I left you - but definitely still in the same place you were when I left the room.

The noises you are making are more varied and more conversation-like, often insistent. You laugh a lot and you find the unexpected particularly hilarious. You also giggle for tickles.

Not only are you crawling - but you also gained three teeth this month ... pretty much simultaneously. And you were relatively chill about the whole thing.

Along with the crawling has come social anxiety. It could be worse, I suppose. You're still mostly smiley with strangers but will snuggle into my neck when they talk to you and are much less enthusiastic about reaching for anyone who reaches for you. And interestingly, people who made you nervous before - you're getting better with them - I think because now they are the familiar faces. When you crawl away from me and someone talks to you, you sit back on your bum and burst into tears.
With crawling has also come a lot more falling and you are so sad whenever you fall - backwards, forwards, sideways - it happens all over the place!

You've recently started this sad-crying face that isn't actually crying ... and it reminds me so much of Noah. I think because we have video of him doing the same face. What adds to the similarities, I think, is that while your hair isn't as thick as his - it's starting to be long enough to go in your eyes - just like him at this age.

You're eating solids like crazy. Good thing Dad is around, because my go-to is to nurse you. Sometimes, when you're fussy, he'll ask: "when did she eat last?" and I'll realize I didn't think to feed you solids all day! You're growing like crazy and apparently more-than-mommy-milk is part of your growing plan.

The bigger you grow, the stronger. Your scratches, grabs, and pinches are getting ouchier and we're working on gentle hands. Your sweet soft hands are so loving when they are gentle. Sometimes the loving is too hard. But it also means so very passionate hugs and kisses.

I recently was going through pictures and found one of Dad sleeping on June 15th ... nothing June 16th .... and then you, you, you! I can't believe how tiny you were, how dark that full head of hair was, how much Noah and Del have also grown and changed in the last 10months. I'm so glad you're part of our family. It's so fun getting to know you more and more and knowing you're part of us.

For your 9month checkup, you'd jumped percentiles again - something like 7th for weight and 50something for height. I think you're going to more than triple your birth weight. We look at your rolly thighs and wonder that you're only in the 7th%ile.

We love you forever,

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dear Rye :: 9mos

Dear Rye,
You rose-y cheeked wonder, we continue to be totally smitten. Noah wakes you up in the morning because he wants to play with you ... even when a bit more sleep would do you good. But you roll with it and he is rewarded with a big grin and even some giggles.
You're sitting up really well and even moving to an almost-crawling position, but you're not quite there. Everyone is holding their breath, waiting for you to crawl ... but everyone also knows that life is going to get a lot more hectic once you're on the move. You have one leg that gets stuck underneath you and if you don't move back to a sitting position, you'll move to your belly ... which isn't fun for very long. Or you reach just a little bit too far and get stuck and can't get back up to a sitting position. You can roll from front to back but not back to front ... but the opportunities for practice are minimal as you are often carried ... or sitting on the ground, not laying on your back.

You love to engage with your siblings and if they are talking and giggling back and forth, you join right in! You don't like it when they leave the room and will call out after them and cry when they don't come back. You burst into giggles when they surprise you by peeking back around the corner - every time!

We moved the crib to our room (really, by "we", I mean "I") and side-car-ed it to our bed. Bittersweet packing away the cradle. It's exciting that you're growing older (I didn't imagine you'd be able to be in the cradle as long as you have!) but I'm not sure I'll ever be parenting a baby that needs a cradle again. I thought you'd seem so tiny in the crib, but it has quickly become normal and it's easier to night-time parent as our mattresses are at the same level and all that.

You're still all adorable gummy grin! But you're gnawing on things more - including your fingers. So I checked and couldn't feel anything. But looking carefully, I can see two faint white strips of your bottom front teeth. Your top gums have been swollen for a while - like you can see the teeth right under the gums!! - pushing forward - but still high. I was thinking they might appear first just because there was no sign of bottom teeth. As strange as top teeth first might be, teeth are teeth, and at least you'd have them! But it looks like they will come in the bottom after all and maybe in the next month. You have broken many records - big surprise of a baby, born the earliest, only baby where the water broke first, smallest baby, and now also baby with the slowest-to-appear-teeth.

For the first time in your life, you were sick this month. It was sad sad. A super nasty cold that was hard to breathe through - especially at night. You had rose-y cheeks, you were warm, and you were more snuggly than usual. It was so hard and sad to see you struggle with your red, bleary eyes - but we counted ourselves lucky that this was the first!

You clap like a champ - and even when you're sad, if someone says: "yaaaayyyy" you clap.

You are such an affectionate baby. You grab my face and kiss me open mouthed, sucking on my lower lip if given the chance. You'll also shove someone's face out of your way so you can get to their earings. And you'll gently pat or rub someone's cheek before suddenly grabbing for their eyeball/nose/cheek. It's so unexpected and so passionately aggressive!
You're really enjoying kids close to your age .... but you want to grab them too - by the hair, the shirt, the eyeball - you're not picky. And when they aren't within arms reach, you yell and yell at them.

So often, it feels, you suddenly change. And this month, a big change was that you were suddenly not enthusiastic about being passed off to just anyone. You're generally easy-going and there's been a lot of speculation over whether you being passed to her, him, and everyone at Farmhouse Pantry will ease the typical 9-month separation/stranger anxiety. Maybe you would have been more anxious? Suddenly you're not reaching for people who put their arms out to you and you turn away and snuggle into my neck, maybe peeking back at the person smiling warmly at you. You're definitely more easy going in the morning or right after a nap - but the more tired you become, the more you want your mom, dad, sister, or brother. You don't often strongly prefer one over the other - but you want it to be one of us who is holding you. Fortunately, your brother and sister love hanging out with you and are generally patient about doing so - even during the rare times they aren't fighting over who gets to play with you or hold you or make you giggle.

Like I said, we're smitten.
We love you so much big girl!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

February 26, 2016 ~ A day in the Life

I've been thinking I should do a day in the life as our life is hectic and interesting (right?!?) and has changed a lot since the last day-in-the-life post I did, two years ago (how has two years already passed?!?!). I wanted to stick with Tuesdays as that has been when I've done these posts in the past - but Friday is the first day of my work-off-farm week and would give a good indication of the majority of my week. Tuesday is my first stay-at-home day of the week (so first day of the weekend), so there tends to be a lot of hanging out (which is very much needed by Tuesday!).

Here's a fairly average Friday these days:

Some things to keep in mind: I had spent the few days before finishing painting the store, the week before that an overnight in Boston to go to an appointment with my mom, the week before that painting the first half of the store painting-project ... you get the idea. Store days take up a lot of our days, and we squeeze a lot in on our off days - and while we try to prioritize having at least one day to just be ... it doesn't always happen.

So given my painting agenda of the week, Rye had been woken earlier than usual in the mornings. I expected her to sleep to her typical 8:30-9am time on this Friday morning ... but that didn't happen - she was awake before me. So no sneaking out to do chores while she was still sleeping. But waking up to this face is pretty awesome ....


I smiled at her, and she grinned big back. I could hear Noah downstairs stacking wood. He likes to get his chores/school list done as soon as possible in the morning. It's only recently that we went back to a system where the kids have a list of things they need to get done every day. Del still negotiates regularly (what if I do extra pages in this book and none in this one today? Can I do extra pages tomorrow and none today? What if I pick up 3 things in my room instead of my whole bedroom? etc). Overall though, it's such a relief not to be micromanaging their day and stuff to actually be getting done!


Contacts put in, teeth brushed, barn clothes put on ...

Ren Man is already at the store. Friday is the big baking day and my dad goes down early with Ren Man to man the counter ... until my dad starts his telecommute-regular-workday. While Ren Man can handle the store by himself, I'm doing my best to get down to the store as soon as possible.

With Rye awake, I dress her. The kids always wake up before Rye and are ready (if not always super willing) to take care of Rye while I go outside.

But first I should stoke the fire....

... and move a load of laundry ...

... and I really need to get outside - but Del needs her hair braided....

...We talk about how fast (or slow) the kool-aid dye is leaving her hair and how she wishes it was so crazy wavy all the time - and not just a result of braiding wet hair.

Finally outside. It's so icy and I'm thankful for a decent layer of snow this morning that will provide something for my boots to bite as I walk more and skate less than usual.

First thing is going to the 3-ton feed silo and getting two buckets worth of grain - one for the pigs, one for the growing egg-layers (who will start laying in April).
The pigs are growing fast and their antics show me that they are healthy and happy.

Next throwing hay to the dry (cows not currently being milked because they are relatively close to calving) and young cows (those who have never calved). From the hayloft, I noticed these two standing next to each other - and realized they are mother and daughter. Shadow is one of our two original cows (and the other cow from the first two has been beefed, so this girl is the one we've had the longest) and her only calf (one she calved too early stillborn and another late and also stillborn), Spring. I love Spring's markings so much.

Milking time. This includes milking four cows, feeding the two calves that are young and still in the barn for the convenience of being able to bring them milk, bedding cows, re-stocking water for them and hay, feeding the livestock guard dogs, feeding and watering the growing egg-layers.

Time to go get the milker - I leave it in the heated wash room as long as possible to minimize chance of freezing before I start milking. Passing the van on the way, I dip into my secret cookie stash.

Chores done. Just about when Rye is starting to fall apart. That's usually the way. It's like she knows how long chores take!

Ren Man and I recently talked about how when I come in from chores, Rye is usually ready for nursing but I try to get down to the store as soon as possible - so hold her off until we get to the store. But it's not super helpful to come to the store and immediately need to nurse. So I decide to slow down, get back in bed, and nurse. This works well because Rye has been so distractible lately that she's nursing less during the day and more at night. The store is not super conducive to focused nursing - there's too much socializing to do!

Diaper change .... we're in the process of reorganizing rooms (ideally before Rye starts crawling!) so our clothes are in a different room ... Rye is sad to see me walk away.

Time to go! And Noah usually carries Rye out to the car (calling her "a sack of potatoes").

Just stoke the fire one more time ...

We've arrived! And it is really really windy.

Noah takes Rye out of her bear suit and the kids ask Ren Man for breakfast, while the flour covered dad is juggling customer orders and multiple cooking projects.

Del takes Rye to the play kitchen and it's fun to hear them interact - Del's gentle instructions and explanations and Rye's babbling and enthusiasm for the toys she can reach.

Fridays are hit or miss at the store - sometimes it's really busy and sometimes it's slow - and today is one of the slower days - so I take advantage of that and jump on the piano to practice. It's a recent hobby I've gone back to after lessons as a kid that I wasn't very enthusiastic about at the time. Now I'm thankful for that foundation as I tinker around.

Del has given up on the play kitchen, but Rye is still exploring.

Until she's ready for a nap. It's tricky at the store because there's limited options on where to put Rye for a nap. Often the heat from the cooking stoves and wood stove make it too hot to wear her- so on this day, a highback chair works. And another reason I'm thankful for her lack of mobility so far. I'm not nervous about her falling off in her sleep.

Coffee, coffee. I didn't think this picture-taking through and it's hard when it gets busy and/or when I'm working with a customer to be taking pictures!

We have several regulars - and this is one of them. Judy says she comes for "Chai and Rye". She loves Rye and Rye loves her. Rye reaches enthusiastically for Judy and kisses her, grabs her face off, etc.
We're so thankful for Judy's enthusiasm for Farmhouse Pantry - whether it's holding Rye when things are hectic, raving everywhere about our chai, or filling us in on Saranac history - as a lifetime resident, she seems to know just about everybody.

Coffee coffee making. And only some for me :)

Mmmm almond latte .... it's so satisfying to make our own flavor syrups.

Realizing I haven't eaten since my secret cookie snack - I grab some chocolate bread pudding - because it comes with whip cream, of course. And remind myself that there's a reason I'm as heavy as I was when Rye was born :) Embrace it! This body has grown and birthed three babies! And continues to sustain one.

Even when the kids are done with their to-do list, they need to wait until 1pm to get on screens. And then negotiations for who gets what screen can be intense. (note that the kids are still very anti-pictures of them ...)

Rye is cranky, and the store is kind of slow at this point - so I try a new wrap technique ... but it ends up being a case of: just get the baby on! - and turns out nothing like the intended wrap job. But she's on and it's comfortable. And you can't ask for more than that!

Except this. A sleeping baby. And piano playing.

Baking. Baking. Every day. Mostly Friday. This means Ren Man is running around like someone who has an ever revolving to-do list. Bread is usually ready by 2pm, but there's also cookies, eclairs, pies, cheesecakes, bread pudding, pastries, muffins.... and several meal orders among the regular Friday baking to be done. Generally he works the kitchen and I run the front of the store. So while Friday is hectic for him at the store, It's not always that way for me on a Friday.

We close at 7pm and try to get most of the cleaning up and putting away done as quickly as possible. But not always - and this was one of those slower nights. Noah knows that Rye is not to be on screens - it doesn't mean he can't keep her happy while he gets his own youtube watching in ... and knowing we're running behind, it's good to be hands free to bust through a bunch of closing-time-chores.

Even though it makes some grownups nervous, Del loves spinning Rye because she gets such huge giggles from Rye. And again, all helpful toward the goal of getting home. It's a long day on Friday, and night time farm chores still need me.

But it's also nice to kick back for a few minutes....

Home! yay! The week before (during that road trip to Boston) I spent hours and hours of research (an embarrassing amount of hours), choosing winter boots that will meet my warmth+waterproof+cute+comfortable+easy criteria. And now the boots have arrived!

Quick demo and then time to do chores!

I get on barn clothes and then nurse the fussy baby so Ren Man can get her to bed while I do farm chores. I leave the family to their winter habit of PBS and head out.

It's feeding the pigs and cows and only milking one cow. Then slipping and sliding back to the house where there is a wash room off of the mudroom. There I wash the milker before pulling off my mucky boots and hay-covered hat. Inside I peal off insulated coveralls, stiff with muck around the cuff. I hate to bring them in the house, but here they'll dry before their needed for morning chores - and dry overalls are worth the hassle of a drying rack in the house. The house is quiet when I come in. Everyone is in bed.

Turn off all the downstairs lights and head to teeth-brushing, a cozy tshirt, and a warm bed.