Catching Up

A while back, I said I’d post pictures from the Fourth of July. Guess it’s about time I did. Here are four generations: Gran, Daddy, me, and Sprout, plus my mom and the Professor.
Four generations on July 4
We picked a lot of blueberries, which were amazingly delicious. We froze some so that Sprout can have some farm berries as soon as he starts eating solids. We also got some cuttings of the old blueberry bushes and tried to start them with Rootone. They don’t look like they’ve made it, but we haven’t given up yet!
May as well catch up since July Fourth too. In early August, after I picked the Professor up from the airport, Sprout started wailing to eat, so we took an exit and followed signs to a Chick-fil-A and ended up at the original Chick-fil-A–the Dwarf House in Hapeville. Here’s Sprout by the Dwarf door.
The Professor and Theo at the Dwarf House in Hapeville
My maternal grandparents brought me here several times, and I had a huge wave of memories of them, and there were some happy tears shed. I wish they could have met Sprout. I ate mac and cheese, collards, and really good fried okra and drank sweet tea. Not something you can get at most Chick-fil-As.
My supper at the Dwarf House in Hapeville
We tried to get pictures of the animated wall art of dwarves mining for treasure, but they didn’t turn out.
Since then we’ve taken probably several thousand pictures of Sprout. Here’s one I got in his car seat as we arrived at the Your DeKalb Farmers Market.
Sleepy Sprout
I took Sprout to Athens while the Professor was away for a meeting, and it coincided with a new deposition for the boy who broke into my house a couple of years ago–evidently he did not take the dramatic arrest (and applause of my neighbors) as a sign to change his ways. My mom went with me to the courthouse, thank goodness, because I needed help getting through with Sprout and the stroller, and we waited an hour only to find out that the boy didn’t show up. The attorneys came out and apologized for wasting my time and showed me the boy’s giant file. They said he’s not a thug, but he has bad influences and seems to revel in those bad influences. He’s seventeen now, so he doesn’t have much chance to turn it around before there will be more severe consequences. I do hope he will find his way, but alas, I will not be surprised if I hear otherwise.
Anyway, while we were there I took a picture of Sprout outside the courthouse. I joked that it better be his last time at juvenile court! The Professor agreed but pointed out that it would be okay if he is a lawyer.
Theo's first (and better be last) time at juvenile court
On a more pleasant note, while in Athens, I got to lunch with some of my fabulous wonderful knitting friends! Hooray!
Carrie, Sarah, Meredith, Alison, and Anne Marie at Mama's Boy
What else? Let’s see. The Professor and I have hosted a couple of movie nights. Several friends said they wanted to watch Buffy, so we told them to bring bottles of liquor that were random leftovers and we’d combine and have a wacky bar. We got to be creative and get rid of clutter. I believe it was called “I Vant to Drink Your Crazy Cocktails.” There was also popcorn. And much joke cracking and idolatry of Joss Whedon. I guess Sprout’s answer to Cordelia’s question “What’s your childhood trauma?” would be “One time my parents threw this party. . . .”
The Buffy viewing portion of the I Vant to Drink Your Crazy Cocktails party
I didn’t get a picture of the last movie viewing, The Godfather. I believe that one was “An Invitation You Can’t Refuse.” (I like the obvious.) We ordered in pizza and everyone brought some wine and we shared and watched the movie. Well, as with the Buffy viewing, I was upstairs with Sprout a lot, but fortunately I’ve seen all before so I could pop in and out without missing too much. So I’ll use that as an excuse to share more pictures of Sprout! Here he is as a disdainful hipster.
Hipster baby is disdainful
And here he is laughing with his daddy. He loves loves loves for us to help him stand.
Theo laughs with Daddy
Labor Day weekend was gorgeous. The Professor and Sprout and I went on several walks, including one to the neighborhood park. I tested out the jungle gym.
On the jungle gym at our neighborhood park
The Professor and Sprout enjoyed a swing.
Daddy and Theo at the playground
Then that Monday we went to the farm for the annual Pear Day. The Professor was a dynamo peeling pears. I cut pears and helped Aunt Joan with the cooking and jarring. It was a long hot wonderfully fun day. We went and ate scuppernongs and muscadines off the vine–heaven–and then posed with Sprout on the fence.
With Theo on the farm fence at the close of Pear Day
I think that pretty much catches me up. I’m pretty good about posting stuff over at Facebook, a bit less so at Flickr, and much less so here. Maybe I’ll stop posting here. It’s still a mess from when I tried to post that link for that stupid yarn pal fiasco. In some ways it just repeats what I’ve posted elsewhere. But not completely. I don’t know. I don’t have time for it, and yet, I can’t quite quit you, blog.

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Pickled Okra

Kate and I wanted to try pickling, so we started with the Pickled Okra recipe from The Southern Foodways Alliance’s Community Cookbook, a book that I worked on and that will be available to purchase soon.
Kate found some beautiful purple okra, and I got my standard okra at Your DeKalb Farmers Market, since my okra plants produced very, very little (specifically: three okra pods). We put them in pint jars with dill, garlic, and a sliver of hot pepper, then worked on the brine.
Pickling okra
When we added the brine, the purple leached out of Kate’s okra into the brine, and though I think she was disappointed that the okra turned green, the brine was a gorgeous magenta color.
Pickling okra
Next time I make it I will put more okra in each jar so that there isn’t a lot of empty space for brine–I had to make a second recipe to fill the jars because there wasn’t enough okra displacing space.
The okra looks lovely, but I can’t say how it turned out because I haven’t tried it yet! I keep hoping to devil eggs then put a slice of the pickled okra on top, but I don’t get many opportunities to play in the kitchen these days. As it was, Kate and Doug had to do most of the pickling. But I got to do enough to learn a bit about it. I can’t wait to try more of the recipes in the book. My next pickling project: watermelon rinds. Maybe next year.

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Spaceman Sprout

Inspired by this adorable Web site, I decided to create some space scenes and set Sprout in them and take pictures to hang in his nursery. I have lots of ideas, including images from Star Wars and Star Trek, maybe BSG, as well as other star themes, and my friend Susanna, who studies molecules in space, has some ideas as well. But I started with the moon landing. The Professor took the photos. And here is what we got.
Spaceman Sprout
Ain’t he just the cutest? And here’s another.
The black space is an old dust ruffle. The moon is a beautiful blanket crocheted in a Queen Anne’s Lace pattern by our friend Kristy. The blue stars are from the mobile in Sprout’s Pack N Play. The yellow stars are Post-It notes (they came star-shaped). Earth is a turquoise Fiestaware lunch plate with variegated philodendron leaves for land and torn paper towel bits for ice caps and polyester stuffing for clouds. The flag is one I collected after a July Fourth parade years ago. The space helmet is a plastic plate (idea stolen from the aforementioned Web site’s space picture). His spacesuit is footy pajamas with robots.
Would love to hear other ideas for space scenes to set him in–and ways to create them with items from around the house. How would I ever do a Firefly scene? Sprout does have several pairs of cowboy boots. Hmmm.

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Guarding the Garden

Earlier this week, before I lost my voice to illness, which I picked up, of course, at the pediatrician’s office, from the pediatrician herself, I suspect, when the Professor and I took the baby in for his immunizations, I was reading tales by Beatrix Potter to Sprout. And I came to realize how heavily didactic they are: respect your elders and don’t stray where you aren’t allowed and always wear your raincoat when it rains OR YOU WILL DIE! Or at least lose your tail and be switched and almost get eaten by a giant trout. The collection included, of course, tales about bunny rabbits misbehaving and going into Mr. McGregor’s garden. And then I looked out my window and what do I see lounging next to my vegetables? Peter Rabbit himself, or perhaps Benjamin Bunny.
Peter Rabbit chillaxin in my garden
He’s already lost his coat. He’s going to be in serious trouble when he gets home.
I'm about to go all Mr. McGregor on this rabbit

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The Fruit of All Our Leisures

I love living by the DeKalb Farmers’ Market. Everyone there is so nice, and I can’t believe how cheap the food is, and I love how it comes from all over the world, and there’s always something new to try. For instance, after the Professor and Sprout and I lunched there the other day, we were picking up the produce on our list and came across this.
Dragon fruit
Dragon fruit, it said. From an epiphytic cactus. So of course we brought it home. According to the sign, it can be served several ways. One is to peel it.
Dragon fruit, peeling
Then eat the fruit with a spoon.
A spoonful of dragon fruit
It had a very mild sweetness to it, almost like melon. It would probably be delicious cold, as recommended, but we forgot to chill it first.

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Fly Me to the Moon

Sprout’s nursery is almost put together now, a couple of months after he was born. Let me take you on a tour.
First, here’s the inspiration, these cute spaceship sheets from Target.
Spaceship sheets
And here’s his crib. (The crib skirt is on its way–it was out of stock at Target for months.) The stars overhead are some I’ve had for years. They are made to hold lights and are so gorgeous lit up, but I decided to avoid the risk of fire hazard in this particular placement.
Here is our awesome glider splurge. So cozy. The blanket on the back is the one I knit for Sprout, the Hap Blanket, out of deliciously soft organic cotton yarn. It’s a good thing I like this chair, because I spend a lot of time here, including in the wee hours. You can also see the wonderful bookcase, loaded with books.
Our changing table is a repurposed kitchen island, and I would recommend this route for anyone. It has so many drawers and storage, as well as a place to hang burp cloths and a rack for wipes and stain remover and hand sanitizer and other oft-used necessities.
Changing table
Above the changing table will hang a beautiful cross-stitched piece that the Professor’s sister made for Sprout–the alphabet with a picture for each letter, plus his name and birth date and measurements. She bought us a frame when she came to visit, and we’re just waiting for the mat to come back so that we can hang it. Such exquisite work. And she made it in two months! Here’s a detail.
Detail of cross-stitch by the Professor's sister
And within the changing table are our fabulous cloth diapers, a bunch of bumGenius diapers. I love these so much. It’s obsessive love. Yes, for diapers. I’m definitely a mom.
Cloth diapers (bumGenius)
Here is a dresser, jammed with adorable clothes and blankets that folks gave to Sprout. On top is a scale–one of our earliest overprotective purchases. He is now eleven pounds! Almost twice his original weight. Hanging above is a cross-stitch made by the Professor himself some ten years ago. I found it downstairs and realized that it fit well with the out-of-this-world theme.
In the closet, even more adorable clothes folks gave Sprout.
Lots of cute clothes from generous friends and family
My mom is going to make curtains for us–we already bought the fabric and hung the hardware, and she would have made them already except when she was here we kept asking her to cook and straighten and clean and help other ways.
I had so much fun decorating this nursery. I had a billionty ideas, but it was hard to decide on one because we didn’t know his personality yet. I am looking forward to his input down the road when his crib transforms to a toddler bed and later a full-size bed and his decor changes with it. I am really hoping he likes robots. Chalkboards shaped like robots in particular. And perhaps a border along the ceiling in binary code: 01010111 01100101 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00101100 00100000 01010011 01110000 01110010 01101111 01110101 01110100 00100001

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It was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A again today, and the whole family got involved. You see, if you dress like a cow and go to Chick-fil-A on this day, they ring a cowbell and give you a free meal. Costumes + Chick-fil-A + free = Oh Yes I Am There.
I dress like I feel lately
Of course we took Sprout. He was a bit too small to fit into his two cow outfits, but the bib did the trick. The folks at Chick-fil-A asked to take his picture and oohed and ahhed over him. So udderly love-a-bull.
Looking a lot like his daddy's baby pictures
The Professor wore his “Cow Pi” shirt and a Viking hat.
Cow Pi and his love-a-bull baby
We’ve managed a number of outings lately, including church, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, lunches with other friends with babies, and fireworks over our neighborhood lake. We also got up to the family farm for the Fourth of July, where Sprout saw some real cows and also got to meet many relatives, including his great-grandmother. I’ll post pictures of that adventure soon, I hope. Everyone says to enjoy this time when they are so tiny, because it is gone so quickly. We are milking it for all it is worth.

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Hair Today . . .

While I was pregnant, my hair grew faster and thicker than ever. It got really, really long. Here it is earlier today, in its most natural state–washed and air dried and brushed once. The tight curls indicate the high humidity.
Before haircut
This afternoon the Professor took care of Sprout, and I went to get my hair cut. A lot. Emma at Grow cut off ten inches for me to donate to Locks of Love.
After haircut
Although it also would make a smashing baby toupee.
Theo's new do 1

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Introducing Sprout

Sprout is here!
Mom and Theo
Actually, he has been here for a month. He showed up very early, five and a half weeks early, and was born on May 7 after about twelve hours of labor. Every sign pointed to his arriving late, so it came as a total shock when we left our second (of four) Lamaze classes at the hospital and were putting stuff in my car and my water broke. We walked back from the parking deck and, by the time we reached the desk, I was soaked to my knees. We were admitted right away.
They hooked me up to a monitor and we saw the baby’s heartbeat was fine and that I was having contractions, which I couldn’t feel.
Before I felt the contractions
The Professor was in his element reading the charts. I thought he couldn’t have worn a more perfect shirt that day. (It says “What part of BWA HA HA HAH HA don’t you understand?”)
The Professor enjoying charts and graphs
The doctors discussed what to do and decided it would be best to induce labor and bring Sprout into this world. We were delighted and shocked and woefully unprepared. We joked, “But we’ve only been to two classes–we don’t know what to do after the halfway point!” We were excited but nervous. Mostly, it was just completely surreal.
So they hooked me up to an IV with Pitocin and inserted a Foley bulb and got things going. The Foley was rather uncomfortable going in–I think the resident was grabbing me funny or something–and the tape they used to attach to my leg stung awfully every time they adjusted it, but the hardest thing about the whole delivery, honestly, was that the dang IV pump ticked. TICKED! It was my own personal hell, unable to escape the constant. steady. ever-present. horrible. ticking. The Professor asked the nurses for earplugs or cotton balls, but all they had was gauze, which was, alas, not at all effective at masking the sound. He then reminded me that my iPhone had an iPod, so I set it to my “Easy” playlist and set the phone on my ear and let Lionel Richie and Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack ease me into sleep.
We called my folks, and they arrived at the hospital around 2:00 a.m. We asked them to go to our house to gather some things (we had not yet packed a bag for the hospital, though it was next on my list) and to feed the kitty and to rest until there was action.
I had an epidural. It was awesome. I would definitely go that route again. As I mentioned before, the hardest part about the whole delivery was the maddening ticking of the IV pump. The second hardest thing was the Foley bulb going in before the epidural. I had a few contractions that were uncomfortable before I got to four centimeters dilated and was able to get the epidural, but really, they weren’t that bad. They only lasted about sixty seconds, and they were waves, hardest at the midpoint but otherwise not so bad. The Professor helped me with breathing, and they went quickly. My monthly cycle is worse than the contractions that I felt. Way worse.
I dilated from four centimeters to ten pretty quickly. The Professor called my folks and told them they better come right then! I had no idea how to push, but the doctors talked me through it. I did the breathing wrong the first couple of times but then got the hang of it, and in three contractions, fewer than ten minutes, our little Sprout was here.
Theo is here!
The doctors put him on my chest and his daddy put his hand on his back, and we got to hold him for a few short seconds before the nurses took him to evaluate his breathing and clean him up. Despite being early, he was a strapping 5 pounds 14 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long. He was breathing really hard and they had to put him on a CPAP machine to help. They wrapped him up carefully and let us each hold him a minute before they took him to the NICU.
Holding Daddy's hand for the first time
I told the Professor to go with Sprout, so I was left in the room alone with nurses coming and going. One asked me if I wanted anything to drink. I requested a margarita. Instead I received more ice chips. Which was close enough, really.
It was such a surreal feeling at that point though. Had I really just had a baby? I wasn’t mentally prepared at all. It hadn’t occurred to me he could arrive early–at least not that early. We had never taken pictures of my belly like we’d planned–it was such a lovely pregnant belly, if I do say so myself–and we hadn’t finished the nursery, and we hadn’t packed a bag, and we hadn’t filled the freezer with casseroles, and we hadn’t had a garage sale, and our house hadn’t been reassembled after the constructions, and we hadn’t taken all the classes, and we just weren’t ready. And now, after all that, there was no baby in my arms, not even in the room. Just me with a flatter belly. It was if the whole thing was a vivid weird dream.
Yay for epidurals!
It took a while to learn that his lungs were quite immature, and he was in the NICU for about ten days. Honestly, my sense of time is so utterly skewed, so I can’t tell you exact times. I do know that I was discharged on Mother’s Day and had to leave the hospital without my baby. Denial and adrenaline got me through. I kept focusing on the positive and what little I could do, such as pump milk. I don’t know that it helped as much as it allowed me to keep moving forward.
He was fed with a tube, and he was intubated for a while, through which they administered a surfactant to his lungs, which saved his life. It was hard to see him like that, especially because he kept tugging on the tube–pulled it out once. We couldn’t hold him while he was intubated, could just gaze into his isolette and perhaps cup his head or let him grasp our fingers, about all the touch a premature baby cares for.
Theo, with intubation tube
Later he was upgraded to a CPAP machine, which made his little face swell, but at least we were able to hold him.
Proud Papa holding Theo after intubation tube removed
Mom and Theo
Then he was eased to a cannula, then off oxygen altogether, then had the feeding tube removed, then moved to an open crib. As soon as he was able to eat enough by bottle in a set amount of time, we were able to take him home. First we roomed in at the hospital, where we took care of him all night in a separate room, but he was still hooked up to monitors and the nurses came in if we needed their help or if the monitors set off alarms. All of the nurses and doctors at Emory Midtown were fantastic. They all really seemed to care for the babies there and were patient and helpful with worried parents and made sure that we were as informed and involved as we could be. Sprout has already had a lot of guardian angels. We got a kick out of the fact one of the main nurses watching over him was named Buffy. We said we’d have to name him Giles. (We didn’t.)
We have no idea why Sprout showed up early. My best theory is that he kicked one too many times. I could feel his feet in my ribs all the time, as if he was stretching out in utero. And he’s a long-legged chap. He always likes to keep his feet out and often splays his toes. The cutest toes I’ve ever seen.
Finally, we brought him home, and he is growing strong. He is a very sweet baby. He almost never cries or fusses, but he does NOT like having his diaper changed or being given a bath, and he has a bit of reflux that burns, but hopefully the medicine his pediatrician prescribed will kick in soon. He has had all four grandparents visit and shower him with love and attention and gifts–and shower his parents with breaks and food and lawn service. Our pediatrician instructed us to be germphobic with him here at the beginning, and so on her advice we aren’t taking him to grocery stores or around children or allowing people to hold him without washing their hands, at least for a month. We did manage to get out and buy a sofa with him in tow, which has made all the difference.
I’m not sure I’ll keep keeping this blog. It’s been dying down a bit before my life changed so dramatically, and I don’t know that I’ll have time to update here. I hope I will, because I’ve loved sharing pictures and tales with friends and strangers, but I may be reduced to posting a picture or status update here or there on Facebook. I’m also a little fuzzy on how to put up boundaries on posts about Sprout. I have no problem sharing all my intimate details and thoughts with the universe, but I’m not sure it’s kind or fair to do the same for Sprout. It may not even been entirely wise or safe, but I don’t know. I haven’t even put his name on here. (He does have a name besides Sprout now! I will say that when I read the meaning of his name, I began sobbing like Ed in Raising Arizona and realized no other name would fit.)
About time to fit in another feeding, so I’ll wind this down and leave you with a picture of a very happy momma and wide-eyed Sprout. Thanks to everyone for your cards, food, support, prayers, and good wishes! XOXOXO
Mom and Theo and a very messy desk

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A Chicken for Every Yard!

A bill has passed the Georgia subcommittee and committee and now may die until next year unless it passes through the Rules Committee by Thursday. Georgia folks, will you please contact your representative and the chairman of the Rules Committee, Representative Bill Hembree, and urge them to get this bill to the floor for a vote? (You can contact other Rules Committee members here.)
So what is this bill? House Bill 842, nicknamed the Right to Grow Crops, aka the Chicken Coop Bill, would allow Georgians to grow crops and raise small animals on private property provided it is for consumption (not commercial purposes). This would override any local laws limiting such rights (though neighborhood CCRs restricting these rights would remain). In short: I COULD HAVE PET HENS AGAIN. And so could you!
I have already written my representative, as well as the representatives on the previous committees. And today I wrote Representative Hembree. This is my letter–feel free to use bits of it to make your own case.

Dear Representative Hembree:
Please use your authority and influence as chairman of the Rules Committee to bring HB842 Right to Grow Crops to the floor for a vote. Although any discussions pertaining to chickens often devolve into puns and jokes, this is a serious matter and an important measure regarding the rights of Georgians. More and more communities are acting to restrict homeowners’ rights to grow food in their yards, decisions based on misconceptions. Noise and smell and humane ordinances will protect neighbors and animals from inconsiderate, unhealthy, or improper practices. There is no need for communities to limit rights of responsible Georgians who want to grow food in their yards. That is why it is so important that HB842 reach the floor for a vote.
Due to relocation for marriage and the stagnant real estate market, I moved to an area that does not allow me to keep my two hens, which were pets and egg providers in my previous in-town property, so I had to give them away. But I want to grow a large garden and keep chickens for eggs (and to keep down the bug population, and to fertilize my crops, and to weed beds) to provide food to save money (a necessity in this economy), to ensure better health (especially as my husband and I raise our son, who will born this summer), and to teach our son simple subsistence and agricultural skills and the joy of helping things grow. My city currently prohibits these basic rights.
In a tough time in our country’s history, we asked our citizens to grow Victory gardens,which they did with pride. Now–in different but again tough times–we are restricting citizens’ ability to do the same. Please get this bill to the floor for a vote and allow Georgians to grow a healthier tomorrow.

Thanks for helping to make this possible!

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