Friday, June 22, 2012

Did you Miss it?

Sorry folks, didn't want you to miss out on the monthly Make & Takes bit.

This time of year of course I'd be found extolling on the virtues (and mishaps) of life au jardin. The good news in there's a Beastie Boys reference and my Instagram radish picture... and with that intro, how can there be any bad news?

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch Check It Out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Little Sister

June 19th, many moons ago the littlest "Suite" was born. I think she turned 28 today, maybe 29? Either way, she's not to far from the dirty-30s.

Cicely and her husband Dave at our
Wedding Reception August 2006 - she was "due" in October

Seeing as we were about six years apart in school and the like, I missed out on her "growing up" through adolescence. I remember coming home from college, hearing she had a boyfriend, and thinking, "How is that possible, aren't you like-8 years old?" 

Years later, when I started working for SkyWest Airlines and moved to St. George, she was attending college at Dixie. We started writing music (her on the guitar, me the drums); and started a garage band called "Oblio" (after the main character in Nilsson's "The Point").  Funny thing, we actually got out of the basement and played a few shows. We weren't very good; but at the same time we were awesome. We played the main stage one year at the St. George Arts Fest. I often joke it took me longer to set up my drum kit than to play our entire set.

I think people loved us because we were two happy girls - and besides Meg & Dia, we were the only other 'female' outfit. (Riot Grrrl had not really made it's way from Olympia Washington to Southern Utah en masse -- go figure. Though I did my best to spread the magic, one Sleater-Kinney album at a time.)

To describe our chemistry: I was very portly - she was very tiny. We looked like Jack Sprat and his heifer wife. I didn't believe in wearing bras at the time. Like I said, I had just started a job working for "the man" and was very conflicted in my early twenties (it's the Generation X influence). Many people felt this way about shopping at the GAP and listening to the radio. 

We wrote music about young love and the angst associated with boyfriends who are horrible for you. (It's really pathetic just how much fodder I had to work from.) 

We had bass players akin to drummers of Spinal Tap -- a total revolving door.

I wrote a crowd pleaser entitled "Fat Girls"... 

We were heavily influenced by the White Stripes and Junie B. Jones. (We'd read the series books in bed at night and laugh so hard our eyes would water and we'd have problems breathing). 

We played shows and went to open-mic nights at the Blues Barbershop. We hung out with the "Electric Theater" crowd and dreamt of having a clothing line: "STAR by Suite: Clothes for Girls that don't Suck.")

We did a lot together. 

Prior to this musical-mania, I would come home from too-long-of-a-day at the office and watch Royal Tenenbaums to cheer me up. Looking back, it's not a super peppy show...

But Cic (pronounced "Sis" if you were wondering) was one of my lifelines. It was during that time that we forged a friendship; not just of sisterhood, but of the kind of deep connection that makes you know you'll be bonded forever. 

Nowadays, we try to find time to talk on the phone -- she's got three kids, a husband who just started residency (fancy doctor!), and a life in Cleveland. We don't speak as much as we should-- as much as we would both like to I think. But life happens, doesn't it? 

Thankfully, we'll always have the music because as Jack Black so aptly put it: "One great rock show can change the world." I like to think we did.
Happy Birthday Little Sister.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's Official: I've Joined the "WE"

I'm not sure if you knew this about me, but I'm kind of interested in politics (laugh, laugh -- I know). As such, a tremendous opportunity presented itself; and I find myself right smack in the thick of "it" as the newest member of the Scott Howell for US Senate campaign.  

Officially, I'm the new Communications Director. You can read the press release about the job, etc. HERE. I'm really thrilled to work on the campaign.

Scott is passionate about ENDING THE GRIDLOCK in Washington so we can focus on the real issues like keeping the Economy moving forward, Education and a comprehensive Energy & Nature policy -- All very key issues for yours truly.

Team Howell, (aka the "WE") has been awesome about my first priority: being a Mother -- which is really the only way I could've signed on. I would never want to look back on this period of my life and say "I'm so sad I missed out on Zoë's time as a baby!" Instead, my goal is to look back on this time and say: "Wow! It was crazy but we had a blast, and we have no regrets." So rest assured, we will still be making plenty of time for fresh baked breads, time in the garden, nursing (that's never ending, really), cloth diapers (slight, "ugh") and travel (though not with cloth diapers... a girl's got to have her limits).

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm also stoked to have my kids experience the electricity of political events -- I know Holden's going to get a kick out of it. Like his mom, that kid feed's off other people's energy.  And I want my kids to know their mom is civically minded and have an appreciation for the political process. (It isn't inherently bad.) So yes, they'll get to spend some time at campaign headquarters too.

I'm sure I'll have plenty more to say with this upcoming election cycle. In the meantime, I hope you'll check out Scott's website and get a little more familiar with him and his stance on the issues. He may surprise you with just how moderate his thinking one aide, talking about Scott said to me, "Seems just as conservative, twice as competent."

End the gridlock. Vote Howell.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Diaper-Free to be Me...

Before we get into the thick of it, can I just say that I love this girl. She has a delightfully awesome giggle when you eat the side of her ribs--in fact, sometimes she laughs so hard it sounds like she wants to explode... as if she's almost in pain from the joy. 

5 months and 3 weeks of Perfection

Her wrists look like they've been screwed on each morning because she's so chubby... and her legs and bum! Oh they are juicy and meaty and glorious -- as if she were the poster-child for breastfed wellness. 

I love it. 
I love her. 

Despite the kerfuffle a couple of weeks back with the whole TIME magazine cover and the AP mom feeding her 3 (almost 4) year old, I must say that we're rather enjoying the benefits of Attachment Parenting with our little Zoe-bug. The principles of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing and even EC-ing have been such a blessing in this house. 

Yes, I said EC-ing... we're back to trying out the Elimination Communication thing again. And like Mayim Bailik, Phd (better know as Blossom), I reaffirm what she writes in "Beyond the Sling" where she says: 
"I know EC is not for everyone. It's actually not for most people, and that's fine." 

But for us it has been a sort of odd joy and an easy solution to a problem many a parent has faced before: diaper rash. 

But first, a little background...

We started ECing Holden at six-months very part time for a variety of reasons:
  • It's better for the environment (less disposable diapers=lest waste, less cloth diapers to wash =less resources used to clean them)
  • To clean up less poop (a serious plus when you cloth diaper at home)
  • More diaper-free time to prevent diaper rash 
  • One more way to better connect with and listen to our child's needs (as I've mentioned on numerous occasions, breastfeeding did not "work out" for us, so he was bottle-fed expressed milk for his first year and EC seemed to be another way to bond and connect)
  • To put into practice the basic belief that no-one (adult or child) should have to sit in their own crap 

Holden at approx 10 months old, doing his business
Of course, there was that hidden gem that spoke to my ego: apparently most ECers are diaper free between 18 - 24 months. Though all the books on the subject and advocates for the "movement" will repeatedly tell you EC is NOT about being potty trained early, and that one should detach from an outcome either positive or negative... but I would still cheer at 6 months (or later) when Holden would "go #2" in a toilet and secretly pat myself on the back, convinced the naysayers would see how awesome I was when my 18 mo old was toddling around in big boy pants!!!!

Except it didn't happen that way.

Holden was not diaper-free until a couple of weeks after his third birthday (and more times than not we'll stick him in a pull-up at night to avoid the risk of a night-time accident...though rare, it does still happen). After 2 1/2 years of "gentle-pottying" (another hippie-dippie term for EC) he really did just have to decide that he wanted to be finished wearing diapers... because no matter how many cool pairs of underoo's we bought him, he'd prefer to just get them out and look at them (not wear them, mind you) until he deicided.

So we didn't get the year (or-two) early diaper-free bonus I was hoping for (they warned me not to get attached). But I am still glad we did it -- for all the reasons listed above and then some. And that's why we're doing it with Z too. Even if we just get a few "catches" a day, it saves a diaper each time so I feel great about it... but even more so, it's been a necessity for her diaper rash... (and we've even learned about her nighttime "habits," if you will.) 

But back to the pragmatics: oddly enough, even though Zoë's pigmentation has a lot more olive tones in it that her brother, her skin is WAY more sensitive -- and as such, she's way more prone to diaper rash that her brother. I'm a firm believer in letting my kid's skin "breathe"... so I try to limit the use of barrier creams (especially ones with mineral oil -eek!)

This has meant letting her go diaper-free on a few nights -- ok five so far. And before you think I'm absolutely crazy (I prefer to just keep it at partially insane, right now), it's been a pretty tender experience. 

Yes, I said tender

Because I learned that when my daughter wakes up at night to nurse, it's actually because she needs to go to the bathroom. 


Seriously - the nursing is just an afterthought to get herself back to sleep. And so by listening to her:   she'd start making noises and move around in the bed a lot (and I knew she wasn't wet because of the whole diaper-free thing), I learned she just needed to drain her little bladder (like so many of us need to do at night), and then she'd sleep soundly... maybe a few minutes to nurse and she was out. 

So yes, I'm typing this, and I'm reading it... and logically, I know it sounds a little crazy. But it's worked for us, and it's worked for Zoë. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that sleep even less soundly than my already-light-sleeper-status, when she's diaper free in bed. But you would too if you feared you'd get pee'd on at any moment. 

But thankfully, like I said, she gives plenty of fair warning. And as such, I'm happy to say, I haven't been showered in bed yet... 

Yes, I realized I just jinxed myself...she's in a diaper tonight, I can relax a little.

Here's to the journey.

Friday, June 8, 2012


I introduced Holden and Zoe to the Beatles this week. So it seemed more logical to share a few bits from Yesterday than try and blog Eight Days a Week. Also, yesterday Zoë officially turned SIX months yesterday. I will update more on her stats and lifestyle after her check-up Monday.

But in other news, this is the pizza we had for dinner last night. 

A whole-wheat-white hybrid that desperately needed more salt.
But it sure looked cool cooking in the oven.

Yes, I recognize my pizza-stone looks like it's been through war; but I took the picture because I thought that bubble in the crust was pretty fun-looking. 

NEXT: this shot of Holden was taken shortly after exiting the grocery store last night. 

Yes, that's raw broccoli. He had run in quick with me to get some leeks while we left Zoe sleeping in the car (don't call Child Protective Services, of course Danny was with her).

While I was gathering the onion-ish things up, I turned just in time to see Holden lean into the produce display and take a giant bite -- right into the top of it. So of course I was freaking out: first, we were not in the *organic section (ahhhhh pesticides!!!), and the produce obviously hadn't been weighed (ahhhh! 3 year old clepto!)

He apologized to the cashier. I was mortified... And of course, proud.

*(Um, just in case you didn't catch my sarcasm, we really do eat conventional produce more than I'd care to admit; but I did anyway.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Taking a tumble

Holden started a tumbling class today. Unlike the 'Mom (or Dad) and Me" class we've been participating in at the Rec Center (where he's one of the oldest kids)... This is sans parents, and he's the youngest in the class.

After today I think it's best for me not to watch. He's got the attention span of a three year old (on a good day); and I want to spend most of class intervening to get him to listen and follow directions.

Oddly enough, the best "following instructions" came after they did "spider crawls" up the wall. To set it up, picture your back a few inches (or feet depending on your size) from the wall. Now bend forward, placing your hands firmly in front of you on the floor. Now use your feet to walk up the wall in a hand-stand-like position until you're in an inverted plank position (you're doing this now, right?) ... Ok now return your feet back to the floor.

So they were supposed to do a spider walk, right? He got his feet up the wall, and then stayed inverted until all the other kids had come down- frankly i didn't know he had the arm strength.

As far as his overall temperament, "Miss Melissa" (who i know is actually married, so perhaps the kids ought to be calling her "Mizz." Anyway, Ms. Melissa told me not to worry about Holden's behavior - saying he really was 'fine,' - as long as I'm not too worried about his gymnastics progression.

I admitted that wasn't my main reason for having him in the class- he's not exactly 'built' like a gymnast.
Holden will likely be over 6 feet tall like his Dad; and more apr to play catch than do a cartwheel. But I love the idea of organized movement, exercise and learning to get along with others--especially without me.

Back to class and one last story:
They're doing a butterfly stretch and each child is to name his or her favorite candy. The first sandwich-grabber says "suckers," followed by the second, third, fourth all mirroring. And so on and so forth until one mentions "chocolate suckers."

Then it's Holden's turn, and he boisterously declares "lollipops!"

From this I can only deduce that Holden is some what of an iconoclast, but in certain situations finds it safer to not operate too far outside the social construct.

Then again, he may have just not known that lollipop is a synonym for sucker.