Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Local Orchard

I never would have guessed how much local fruit I'd be eating living in my central city location. This August I picked, ate, shared, baked, and froze a bowl of superb yellow plums, a handful of Italian prune plums, a couple buckets of blackberries, three colanders heaped with red Santa Rosa plums, 150 apples, and at least two dozen bunches of the best green grapes I've ever eaten - and all grown within one square block of my house! 

In our backyard we have two apple trees. Last year we had two dozen apples from the big tree and maybe two edible ones from the small tree. We pruned the trees last fall and this summer we got 100 apples off the big one and 50 off the small one!

Doin' it homesteader style
We ate and baked with the gorgeous 100 apples from the big tree but, other than giving the somewhat scabby little apples to my younger son for teething toys, I figured sauce was the solution. I was able to borrow from a neighbour (who's also a friend) an apple saucer (well, that's what I call it). She had it from her mother (who's also a neighbour) who used to use it in her homesteading days. 

I covered the apples in water, brought them to a boil, simmered them until the flesh was soft and the peels cracked, then tossed them in the apple saucer and sauced 'em. I added back in half the cooking water to lengthen the sauce (and not waste that pink gold - yes, the apple cooking water was a lovely pink lemonade color) and my boys ate it up right away. I got two mason jars out of two dozen of the worst apples and I feel right pleased about it!

Last meal ever eaten out of that tea cup;
he broke it on his way to the dishwasher.
Fortunately, no apple sauce was harmed.

Apples, sauce, and a prime example of
applesauce coma after two helpings.

Apparently our wall color is a dead ringer for homemade applesauce.
Put that on your paint chip Benjamin Moore!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Family Mathematics

My husband and I knew we wanted more than one child before we'd had our first. (Heck, I knew I wanted more than one child before I had a husband!) We didn't exactly anticipate having another quite as soon as we did; some loving friends with a child the same age as our first told us that we were crazy when we announced the second pregnancy. In truth, it wasn't a mental condition but an illness of the heart; we'd been bitten by the love bug. Our 7 month old was sleeping through the night, was a good eater, had never had a fever nor a diaper rash, and the unpredictable early days were quickly becoming a distant memory.

Now as a mother of two tots I find myself having an internal daily debate about whether or not we should have a third. The overwhelming argument for is the simple equation that another child equals more love. There was a time when I wondered how I could ever love another as much as my first, but the most mind-blowing part of parenting is that one's capacity for love grows with each child. And then there is that child's potential love to both put into the world and to draw out of others which perpetually raises the world love-o-meter too. It may sound hokey, but, honestly, what's wrong with more love? (Well, besides the increased work and stress and money and landfill space it takes to raise that little love machine.)

Our #2 has rather seamlessly fit into our family. It helps that so much of the world is set up for foursomes: cars, dinner tables, board games, roller coasters - not that we've taken him on any amusement park rides as of yet. In my experience, the second baby is easier simply because I'm more relaxed; I hardly check in with parenting books and have visited the doctor for check-ups less often too. The second learns to "deal" as the firstborn sometimes takes precedence (i.e.: when the older one is about to run into oncoming traffic the younger one might just have to cry while safely buckled into the stroller parked with the brake on well out of harm's way). 

Of course, we already had all the baby paraphernalia, all we had to get was a second car seat and a double stroller (see previous post). Personally, I don't miss alcohol much as I never got back into the habit after the first, so I kind of forget what I'm missing now that it's more than three years on the wagon. And, let's face it, breastfeeding is a wonderful bonding and cuddling experience and the cuddles are a top reason to do it all over again. 

On the downside, getting a family of four out the door, to the dinner table, or into bed takes more time, though at least with two kids there is still a parent to wrangle each child. Also, with each subsequent baby, there is the fear (and the fact) of losing further touch with the working world and one's career and personal aspirations. 

One mom friend of mine recently returned to her job after her second maternity leave ended and she found work to be a welcome change of pace. She said it was a luxury to be able to focus on something without being disturbed by persistent whining... for the first week. Soon her decent job became "same old" all over again. As for myself, as someone who decided not to return to the ol' 9-5 and is choosing to keep my kids at home and out of daycare for a little while longer than mat leave allows, I try to keep one or two toes in the working world so that I don't end up with a big gap on my resume. Despite knowing the truth of it, "stay at home mom" just doesn't cut it when explaining what you did for those "unemployed" years. 

My hubby and I are in agreement not only about our kids not going to daycare right away but also about the benefit of siblings. We each value our sibling relationships so much that we couldn't deprive our kids of it. 

When all is said and done, the truly unpredictable baby days (the first 3 or 5 months of a wee one's life) are challenging because of the lack of sleep and readjusting to it all, but I honestly believe that if I had five kids or nine it would be the same: I would make it work. I figure I will not ever regret having another but I might actually regret not having one if I don't.

Monday, September 17, 2012

First Comes Love...

Then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage, and then another one 17 months later and now you need a double stroller.

There was a time not so long ago when I disdained (and very possibly even mocked) the owners of double strollers. I mean, really, they are worse than motorized mobility scooters; they take up as much space and often contain crying babies. As with so many things in life, watch what you laugh at because you too may be laughable one day.

What I'm driving these days, the 2011 Baby Jogger City Select

While this new stroller felt conspicuous and ego-tastic for the first week, as with many aspects of motherhood, it soon came to be essential, and not long after that, taken for granted.

A Brooklyn neighbourhood proposed turning bike
lanes to stroller lanes; local moms were quoted saying the
lane wouldn't be wide enough for their double strollers. 
I could tell you that this is the best double stroller out there - if you don't mind the price tag - for many reasons. It has ample shade canopies (a surprisingly hard thing to find), serious storage space underneath, foam-filled tires (air-filled are prone to punctures), it accommodates multiple configurations (both kids facing forward, backward, facing each other, facing away from each other, et cetra), you can add on pieces like trays, rain covers, bassinets, et cetra, and it easily converts to a single stroller. All this to say that the real clincher for me was that it is not a double wide stroller. I just don't think I could handle bumping pedestrians off the sidewalk constantly. I mean, have you ever been on the receiving end of one of those bad boys? Proponents of the side by side strollers can be heard saying, "It's only as wide as a wheelchair!" as though it's a selling feature. But I've seen the dismay cross the face of oncoming walkers when they see the wide load of a double wide stroller and twenty sticky fingers rolling in their direction. 

After having my first baby I remember feeling as though I would never again be able to leave the house to go grocery shopping. Now I've grown so accustomed to my big stroller that I find myself wondering how I will ever grocery shop once the kids have outgrown it. Carrying shopping bags by hand? Or worse, driving to get groceries? Give me my 34 pound baby-mobile any day!