Thursday, August 30, 2012

she speaks!

first day of the second grade

It went great! And Blake gave me permission to share this picture, with his favorite "thingerless" gloves, a new backpack, and the new-to-him trick bike (ask me about the Bozeman Bike Kitchen - what a great resource!). He's got one good friend in his class, but is having a hard time finding people to play with at recess. Unfortunately, as the new kid on the block, so to speak, he doesn't know many others. We're encouraging him to be brave and ask to play with kids who look interesting or fun, but his favorite part of the day is the third recess, when our new neighbor boy and he have recess at the same time.

It's gonna be a great year!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

snappy, then nappy

It was a chilly night, which means it's a chilly morning, which means I can bake today! I took part in a local food swap last night and made out like a bandit. I arrived with homemade dill pickles, chokecherry jelly, pickled beets, and strawberry freezer jam, plus a small cooler with some venison and antelope (chops, burger, breakfast links, salami).

I left with a huge bunch of basil, at least five pounds of tomatoes, a bagful of green beans, elderberry syrup, fresh sourdough bread, raspberry jam, and cherry rhubarb jam, with only a little of the meat left to bring home.

All this means is that I've got what I need to make tomato-basil simmer sauce (our favorite for homemade pizza) and dilly beans. I've also got plans and the goods to make a green apple/Gorgonzola quiche and buttermilk banana bread. It would be a great day to go hunting up chokecherries or huckleberries, but I'm running on empty between a little girl who wakes every 3 hours like clockwork at night and a bigger boy who has an overactive imagination and resulting nightmares:

A: Why is it that you're scared of monsters under your bed, but when you sleep in our room, you sleep right next to our bed and have no problem?
B: Because you have more things stuffed under your bed. When I sleep there, all I feel is your suitcase.
A: Do you want me to shove more stuff under your bed? Because I can absolutely do that. There wouldn't be any more room for monsters.
B: Yeah!
Unless it was a little tiny monster that could fit in between. But then I probably wouldn't be scared of it.

Dilly Beans (from Colorado Cache)
  • 4 lbs young, whole green beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 5 cups vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
Add to each pint jar:
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp. dill seed
  • 1 garlic clove
Wash beans and pack vertically in hot, sterilized pint jars. Add spices to each jar. Combine vinegar, water, and salt and bring to a boil. Pour brine over beans, seal, and process.

Green Apple/Gorgonzola Quiche (adapted from A Montana Table)
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T shortening
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, uncooked bacon
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Combine butter, shortening, and flour; cut together until fully incorporated. Add milk and mix until just wet. Roll out dough and press into pie pan. Bake for 7 minutes and set aside.

Mix all batter ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Brown the bacon and set aside. Line the bottom of the reserved crust with the Gorgonzola. Cover with bacon; cover with apple slices. Top with Cheddar and pour egg batter over everything. Place on a cookie sheet to catch overflow during baking. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until quiche is golden brown and firm.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

a new look

I redesigned it here (obviously). Would love some feedback. Do you like it? Loathe it? Are things easy to find again or too hard? Play around with the button on the upper left - you can change the way my site looks yourself!

At a minimum, I'll try to update the background a bit more often. I've also been trying to post more pictures - those seem popular! I still have Vesper's birth story to chronicle, just in time for school to start and a whole new set of stories to filter in as Blake adjusts to a new school and we adjust to more parenting on the fly:

"Blake, I got a call from your teacher, and you can't moon kids at school. I know I'm laughing - it's kind of funny! But not at school. At school it's bad. Keep it at home please. You can stop mooning me now."

Friday, August 17, 2012

that's what he said

B: Vesper is gonna love sushi cuz I do. I get my loving sushi from my Dad, I'm pretty sure.
A: What about me?
B: You got it from Dad too.

B: (after a huge piece of sushi went down the hatch) Mmm. This is almost like paradise.

B: I really liked Jacob and the girl and the other boy.
A: Cassie and Bryce.
B: Yeah. Cassie couldn't run as fast as me though.
A: That's the thing about boys and girls. First, she's a little bit younger than you, and second, God designed us so that boys are often faster and stronger than girls, but not all the time.
B: Because boys get all the muscles and girls get all the prettiness.
A: Uh... sure. But what about me? I'm faster than you.
B: Because you're old. Or big. Probably both.

B: Vesper is so cute when she's awake!

B: Vesper is so cute when she's asleep!

B: I love my baby sister.
R: You know, when you are both bigger, you're going to have to scare off all the boys that want to be her boyfriend.
B: (chuckling) Noooo. You're just teasing me.
R & A: No, we're serious.

A: Hard to go wrong with bratwurst for dinner. Doesn't everything go better with bratwurst?
R: Or bacon.
A: Mmm, yes. Or sausage. You know, skip hunting wild game and start hunting pigs. That would be all we'd need.
B: I'm pretty sure it's against the law to shoot other people's animals.
A: (sighing) I GUESS.

A: Want some zucchini bread?
B: Do I like it?
A: I don't know. Want to try a bite?
B: Yes. (takes a tiny bite) Oh, yes please! Yum!
A: Ok, just let me put some cream cheese on it and here you go!
B: Um, why is there a bite taken out of it?
A: Are you kidding?

He was not.

(at bedtime)
B: I can't use the ice packs because I just put them away so they aren't cold yet. But I'm too hot.
A: Well, take off your shirt. Here, take off the sheet, too.
B: I'll take off my shirt, but I want the sheet. It makes me feel protected.
A: Is that why you're surrounded by a fortress of five pillows?
B: Yes.

Dr O: (regarding my knee) It's a fluke. A postpartum fluke that happens occasionally.
A: But Dr. M (the rheumatologist) said he doesn't see flukes. They don't happen in his field.
Dr O: To be fair to him, he probably doesn't see many pregnant women either.

R: (at 12:30 am, via email chat) Why are you still awake? Why aren't you in bed?
A: My resolve to go to bed early weakens so badly at 11:00 pm, but at 11:00 am I'm very strong.
A: But I'm eating chips!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

this post contains an ewok

So, other than dealing with my knee, this is what we've been up to lately!

I think I was babysitting, and I just put them all in shorts that fit, except Sawyer. He was content to play in his undies, which was fine until he constantly stepped to the edge of the sod to take a leak, and wet stretchy cotton is really hard for an almost-3-year-old to maneuver. We ended up seeing more and more of his plumber's crack.

The only photo I was able to take as evidence that one of my closest and longest-held friends got married in July. Kellie (the pretty blonde, second from left) married Kaine, and as I was in the wedding and wrangling a newborn, I didn't have a chance to snap any other photos. But it was probably one of the most fun weddings I have ever attended, with great little details that made it a wonderful celebration of God's goodness in bringing two lovely people together. And Kellie came down the aisle to AC/DC's Thunderstruck. Pretty fantastic! The pic is Kellie, her sisters, and her momma after we all got pedicures, despite the fact that Kellie and bridesmaids all wore cowboy boots. It was reassuring knowing that my toes were pretty under there, and hey, they're still pretty!

I brought Smith with us to Billings so he and Blake could play together and take some of the burden of entertainment off Grammie. He's modelling Grammie's readers for me.

So. Much. Pattern. But in there, you can make out a big brother adoring his sweet sister. He regularly tells me how cute Vesper is, and hugs her so gently after giving her Eskimo kisses and kissing her hands. She started smiling at us when she was about five weeks old and is either a calm stoic receiving this devotion, or a drooly, gummy, smiley face at the boy whose voice pitches surprisingly high when he's talking to her.

We sent Blake to two camps this summer, with the caveat that he had to help pay for them by performing additional chores. We'd pay increased rates for tasks completed. When we told him this plan, he opted out of any camps, deciding he wasn't THAT bored. We promptly opted him back in and started devising things for him to do that we legitimately needed help with. As one friend said, we really love that lazy little kid.
He moved a wood pile for $40, and netted $5 per wagonload of mulch for the perimeter of our house, among other chores, and absolutely loved the camps, one so much so that he's hoping to take two from that venue next summer. When talking the night before his science camp started, I let him know it was imminent, and he gasped. "Oh NO! Will they let me go? I still have to earn $40 to pay them!" I don't think he understand fully the principle behind what we were doing, so I just assured him that I'd spot him the money and he could work it down later.

My boys. Rob asked if he could put his shirt on first, and I said no. Blake asked if he could take his off and I said no. I'm harsh like that.

Celebrating saucy little Soy-boy's third birthday. Love this kid.

Vesper is still a bit unmoved by birthday parties, but it could be due to the vaccinations she received earlier in the day. She alternated between fussy and mellow and asleep.

"Little" Gunnie and Matt. That boy is all smiles! Matt... not so much. He smiles on the inside, sarcastically.

I'm two months old today!

I completely forgot to do this at one month, but I'll take a picture of her next to the same stuffed critter every month until she's one year to see the progression in size and development. I did so with Blake, and it's a riot to go back and remember each phase. Since Vesper doesn't really have a stuffed animal, I asked Blake if she could use one of his. He only really has two anymore, and he brought out EB (stands for Easter Bunny) for me to use.

Trying a different angle/background. I think I like the first one best, even if she's not smiling.

And, for Rob and Auntie Bip, here's one of her with the only other stuffed animal in the house: an Ewok. Yes, it has teeth. Look at Vesper's kissable cheeks! Girlie is packing on the pounds, and this is the only time of life where it's acceptable to be excited about that or say it out loud.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

giving relieved thanks today

Before he got to the business of getting Vesper her two-month check-up and shots, my doctor reviewed the test results from my knee.

Everything was negative.


My doc carefully explained that he wasn't a rheumatologist, but that he sees occasional reactive arthritis in post-partum women, usually a few months after delivery. It sweeps in, affects one or two joints, and goes away, never to return. He thinks that's what I had, and I am choosing to believe him.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Thank you, friends and family, for praying over me when I couldn't do so myself due to fear and frustration. I'm so pleased to have good news to report!

Also, Vesper is in the 50th percentile for length and over the 95th for weight. We're going to have a tank on our hands. Poor punkin was a trooper for her first round of vaccines and is finally sleeping the rough morning off. Also: I cannot believe she's already two months old.

Friday, August 10, 2012

mobile once more

The doctor's visit was a success, with some qualifiers. He drained 140 ccs from my knee (four enormous syringes' worth, or over half a cup) and shot in some steroids for good measure. The fluid was the color of Mountain Dew (normal), was not fizzy (also normal), but was cloudy (indicates inflammation, which indicates further testing is needed). That fluid and my subsequent bloodwork (again!) are being tested for gout, rheumatoid arthritis, parvovirus, and Lyme disease.

The doc thinks gout is out of the question due to my age. Parvo would be good news, despite making me feel like a dog or cat: it takes care of itself. Lyme is unclear to me: treatable, but I seem to recall it having lasting effects that crop up in all sorts of weird places. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) seems the most likely, but for a few strange factors: my age, the single joint affected, the speed with which an appalling amount of fluid accumulated.

Doc claims he does not see any flukes, as in "That was weird - we don't know why it happened, here's hoping it doesn't come back, can't find a cause." I'm praying that I'm the exception to that rule, but he was talking like he'd be seeing me in a few weeks to drain again, and that after three times being drained, he'd need to get me on some drugs that would require me to stop breastfeeding Vesper. Having my knee refill with fluid would be totally normal for RA, but he also said that not refilling would be normal.

It is hard to know what to think, because the list of options just seems... grim. I'm praying that it's nothing, does not recur, and that this would be an anomaly in the doctor's practice. If pressed, I'm willing to admit to a desire to be a reflection of God's glory in whatever He hands me, but I would also like that to be done without further suffering on my part, as unrealistic as that is.

I brought my camera to take a picture, but I sure as hell wasn't going to do it and couldn't have done so with my eyes closed. Rob's hands were full of a fussy Vesper, and trying to soothe her without moving too much proved marvelously distracting for me. My knee feels a little weak, but that could be muscular, after favoring it all week. It's nice to be physically comfortable again and to feel confident that when I pick up my daughter, I'm not at risk for sudden collapse. I am not quite frightened about what the test results may show, but I'm more than merely anxious, and I really really really don't want to go through this again.

So now we wait.


Thursday, August 9, 2012


For the last six days, I've had a painfully swollen left knee, for no obvious reason (no injury that I'm aware of). Rather than get better (I've had fluid on the knee before, but it's always been my right knee, been very mild, and resolved in a day or two, tops), it's continued to be very swollen, get progressively more painful, and be a general pain in the ass. Or knee. All of it, really.

Finally, after it looked like I'd be spending another full day in bed to rest it, ice it, and keep it elevated, I called the doctor, in hopes that they wouldn't just look at it, agree that it was swollen, and advise more of what I was already doing. First off, I got a major shot in the arm by hearing the nurse who was helping me today confer with the nurse I usually see, outside my door: "Isn't she great? Such a sweetheart, even when she's in a bad way, and so funny!"

That made my day, and I wasn't about to fill them in on what a sassy-pants trouble-maker I can be.

The doc was really sympathetic and concerned, more so than I was, really. She ordered bloodwork and rattled off a few things that could have caused it: infection, gout, rheumatoid arthritis. "I don't think it's lupus," she said, to which my brain screamed "HOLY SHIT, IT COULD HAVE BEEN LUPUS?" Bloodwork indicated no infection, which she said was good news, but the other two best candidates are autoimmune-related, and I'm honestly worried that whatever has caused it could be something I battle the rest of my life. Not a great feeling at an otherwise robustly healthy and young 32 years.

I have an appointment tomorrow at a rheumatologist to drain the fluid, which will be both terrifying (needlewise) and instantly relieving (painwise). They may also give me steroids directly in the joint for relief, since I would not otherwise be able to take them, as a nursing mother. Wide-eyed, I told the nurse I'd probably preface the appointment with a shot of something strong (liquorwise). "Oh, they'll numb it," she assured me.

"Oh, so will I!" I assured her right back.

And just so you can see that I'm not over-stating things, here is the knee. So pretty!

 One of these things is not like the other!

Makes being a sleep-deprived nursing mother the least of my worries.

Monday, August 6, 2012

a good long one

First off, I should apologize to Gailzee: she didn't say I suck at updating. She said I wasn't being very good at it, with a baby and all. I use hyperbole, folks, so much so that when I'm not exaggerating (the cauliflower from our CSA was the size of a soccer ball, and I'm being completely serious), I have to point it out.

For reals: a soccer ball of cauliflower. Crazy.

I'm in it deep with the sleep deprivation, and Vesper's even a pretty good sleeper! I think it's a cumulative thing that's just caught up to me: being interrupted one to two times a night wears you down. I tend to avoid posting online when I don't have anything wry or nice to say, and that's where I'm at: patience worn thin, tired, crabby, and snappish. Then my mom gently requested an update that was innocuous enough: a picture or two, maybe letting folks know what's up with Blake, Vesper's new tricks of smiling and engaging with us.

I ripped Mom's head off and shoved it down her neck, all over the phone.

See? That is hyperbole. She was very nice about the request and I can be very nice about complying. Except, no, not really. I have to be a little bitchy, or you wouldn't know it was me!

 The clutch of Huns. There are something like sixteen chicks in this picture, and it was the closest I could get, but you can click to enlarge.

 When Vesper was a week old, the Perrines and the Myers all came to Bozeman, and we had a family friend get a few full family (for now) shots. This one makes me especially happy, because Blake can sometimes be a bit of a shit to his younger cousins, and Maddox in particular just idolizes him. 

 All the boys. Holy Moses, that's a lotta boys. Can you imagine how badly future gatherings of our families will smell?!

 All the everyone. What a blessing to enjoy the fabulous relationships that we do!

 Boys, jumping. Or threatening with Spidey hands.

 We went to Coeur d'Alene for the 4th of July! It was a touch long of a drive from someone just a few weeks out of labor and delivery, but once there, we had a great time with the Perrine family. Audrey is getting so big and was so happy, even when she high-centered herself on her playmat.

 The Bedford grandies came over from Spokane to meet their newest granddaughter over lunch at Panda Express. They approve!

 A: Wipe that look off your face.
R: I told you that the lake, of all places, was the ONE PLACE to avoid on the 4th of July.
A: Oops!

The kids played on the bounce houses and we visited the most enormous playground ever before calling it a (hot) day and heading back to the house. I also sorely missed having a stroller, but at least Vesper was still comparatively light in her car seat.
 Pretty girls! Lane and I had such a fun, snarky time people-watching and feeling MUCH better about our bodies, clothing, and life choices after seeing what else was out there and on display. The only thing that kept me from dropping a pencil in the crack of one heavily tattooed young man was the lack of a pencil and my sense of self-preservation.

 Getting used to each other. She looks unsure, which means she DOES look like me sometimes!

R: (to me) I know you're trying to save money and all, but we are buying one of these swings AS SOON as we get back to Bozeman. Maybe we should get two: one for downstairs and one for my office.

 The Bedford clan, sans Bethany, drove over for a few days to bring the dog, help around the house (we now have a large pile of cut wood, thanks to Cec!), and hold a baby. Aislynn told us quite often that she loved Besber, and could she hold her again?


 How about try not to look too weird, sullen, or angry? This is the best we got of the grandkids, and one's even missing (she was asleep).

 I was in Billings for a quick overnight to help one of my dearest friends practice her wedding makeup, and I had to let Aunt Gail know I was coming. She planned to come over about the same time Kellie was going join me. When I mentioned that I'd be preoccupied with Kellie, Gail promptly assured me she didn't care WHAT we were doing, she was just going to hold that baby, and it was a good thing I'd called her. If I had snuck in and out of town without telling Gail, she probably would have hurt me.

I handed her to Rob, assuring him that she'd just eaten and would be happy for the hour or so it would take me to get groceries. "This is awesome," he whispered as they snuggled in together. I got back and they hadn't moved, though he wasn't sleeping anymore, because he was afraid to do anything to wake her. The coffee he'd brewed before I left sat untouched on the counter, and I teased him for a bit before I eventually poured him a cup.

I don't have pictures of the latest and greatest things: Vesper's smiles and eye contact. Blake took part in a science camp this last week that was WONDERFUL. He loved it and learned a lot, I got a restful week knowing he wasn't bored or in front of a screen, and Vesper just slept through most of it. Vesper's passed the six-weeks-old peak for evening fussiness, so I hope to see that continue to taper off (though last night was rough), and we'll start working on that whole "sleeping through the night" thing soon. It's been hot as hell around here, but between our magical whole-house fan and Bozeman temps that can dip into the 40s at night, our house is freezing until the afternoon, when it's simply cool, but you still don't want to turn on the stove or oven to cook anything. 

Life with a dog is going pretty well, though Rob and I have different expectations about what that looks like. So far, Thrall doesn't seem to think I'm a dominant entity around here, which just shows he doesn't know me, but it's hard to want to put in the time needed to fix his misperception when I'm already tapped out with a full-time baby and nearly-full-time seven-year-old. I've taken on the task of feeding him ("You eat at my pleasure because I'm more alpha than you."), and now that we have a stroller, we can hopefully go on family walks to accustom him to a leash and other dogs and, you know, obedience.

And... that's all I got.