So, what? You're like writing poetry now?

Sometimes I feel I need a rest
the likes of which will never come
the sort that screams to flesh and dreams
Down, clever girl. You're done.
You've won.

And yet I know the rest I seek
is just collapse of bones too weak
and mind too strained
and lungs too drained
to bother noticing defeat.

Not that I have any problems with your personal choices...

So, we're giving birth at home again, which in Massachusetts is kind of a radical thing because it means going through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum with NO contact with the medical establishment.

I hesitated to write "the medical industrial complex" in that last sentence, but I thought it. That should give you some insight into my opinions on the matter.

Personally, I am more than happy to give birth far far away from doctors and nurses. At med school and nursing school the primary model of thinking is "How can I fix this?" Which, um, is probably appropriate for many medical emergencies, of which birth is not one. Unfortunately, doctors and nurses look at birthing women as problems to diagnose and fix, which ushers in a whole host of actions that aren't necessarily good or right or just. I can go on but I won't. Here are some books on the subject.

Anyway, since I'm giving birth at home in Massachusetts, no OB or nurse midwife can assist me without losing their hospital accreditation. So I get care from a certified professional midwife, who is someone who went to school just for midwifery. She's very skilled and trustworthy and accommodating. She costs me $3500 out of pocket.

Which is a lot of money to avoid Pitocin, a 34% cesarian rate, or STD vaccines in my baby's eyes. But I think it's worth it.

Anyway, that's a long preamble to what I really wanted to blog about today, but hopefully those who violently disagree with me have already stopped reading. What's stressing me out this week is that I have several friends who are concurrently going through pregnancy and the process of choosing a "provider", and I can't really offer my honest opinion in conversations with these women. Because my honest opinion is if you go into the hospital, you're likely to get fucked.

I have some radical opinions on the issue, and it's hard to function in casual conversation because someone will be all, "I chose Beth Israel because you can get a private room with a couch!" and I'm all, "Yeah, I chose my living room because I'm 75% less likely to get sliced the fuck open."

Abdominally, I mean. The stats for episiotomies are worse.

Ugh, there I go again. Why don't I just open the door on one big long anarchist rant and get it over with already. You see, we've got a life-extracting medical industrial complex in this country that exploits peoples illnesses and fears and turns them into economic inputs to generate profits. At the same time this sick-loving machine bashes people as best it can into identical cogs so they fit neater into little boxes on the insurance forms. And fittinger means more tests, and more tests mean more surgeries and more surgeries mean more money. Which should be hard on the hunks of meat on the stretchers, but we don't mind, not us well-healed ladies waiting for a strong man to serve up our perfect baby, because having strangers play a game of slots with our physical integrity is much easier to take when the windows have curtains and we get to choose on our own soft ocean waves CD. Which is why I say TAKE AWAY THE SOOTHING WALLPAPER AND TREE-LINED ENTRANCE IF YOU REFUSE TO TAKE AWAY THE MANDATORY IV AND THE TIME LIMIT ON LABOR AND THE FETAL MONITORING STRIP. Don't reform the prisons, let the prisoners revolt!

Which is why I have a blog, because here's hoping I don't open my big fat mouth on some pregnant lady who won't be my friend later.

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recollecting the weekend

Harvey and some pumpkins at Parlee Farms

pumpin? pumpin? pumpin?

You can tell it was either a good weekend or a bad one when we don't post Saturday or Sunday. I don't remember what we did Saturday, but Sunday after church we made the second trip of the season to the apple farms, this time with our hip German friends Alex and Nelli (and little Noah). The apple farms have pumpkins now, which Harvey was only a little less excited about than he was the tractor. The apples themselves were tied for third with the goats. Dactew, pumpin, appew, goh, as Harvey would put the list of attractions.

For Leah, the highlight was when I told her that someone had asked Alex and I if we were a couple while we waited in line together for apple crisp. That, and the apple crisp itself. Topping apple crisp with butter crunch ice cream is just decadence, but you need some way to make the afternoon's dose stand out if you've also had apple crisp for breakfast.

I think that means it was a good weekend.

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feeling a little overwhelmed (as always) with my radical homemaking to-do list...

Cold weather is coming; your son needs a hat.
And mittens - don't let him go out without that.
And mittens get lost so knit three in each color
or four, if the two sides differ from each other.

Just two months to Christmas - you'd better get going!
If baby is napping you'd better be sewing!
On serger! On Singer! Quilts, toys, all the above!
He's old enough now; he'll remember your love.

Once Christmas is over three birthdays come quickly.
And new baby's growing, so if you feel sickly
remember it's only a sign that you're due
to very soon take on clothes making for two!

It gives you such joy to live out your true function
and take back from industry means of production.
That's why I marked this as your "personal time" hour
which looks like it's ending — so go clean the shower!

stick shift

I don't do a lot of maintenance on my bike. When I get home I pretty much drag it up on the porch and forget about it until I need it the next time. Since I got a new tire in the spring I don't think I've done anything more than grease the chain as needed and put new screws into my left pedal in a desperate attempt to hold it and my toe-clip together. Lately, though, it's been harder and harder to shift up from the middle to the biggest chainring (the little one has long been unreachable—no loss when I'm not riding off-road), and yesterday on the ride home it became impossible. Something needed to be done.

Sure, I could manually yank the chain where I want it to be, and I did just that yesterday at the top of the long descent towards home. But that's hardly practical: doing it while the bike is moving would require contortions of which I don't feel that I'm capable, not to mention the risk of pinched fingers (and unsightly grease-stains). Never say I'm not inventive, however! This morning I stopped to pick up a nice, straight stick, about a quarter-inch wide and two feet long, that was just the thing to apply pressure to the inside of the chain as I pedaled and bump it up onto the bigger ring. Worked like a charm! Not, of course, that I would try anything like that in traffic or whatnot—if nothing else, it would be cumbersome to keep taking the stick in and out of the (conveniently-located) stick-holding pocket of my backpack. But since I don't shift gears that often, it was perfectly adequate for the purpose. And I felt so clever!

I'll see if I can fix the derailleur this weekend.

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pie project

I just sent in my entry form for the big Bedford Farmers Market Pie Contest. It's official. Now I just have to find out how you make pumpkin pie from scratch! The contest has pumpkin and apple categories, and I chose to enter pumpkin because my apple pie, while undoubtedly delicious, is in no way remarkable; and also because last year there was only one pumpkin entry. If that's going to happen again I want that entry to be mine!

The catch is that the pies have to be made from local ingredients, which rules out my usual procedure of getting my pumpkin from a can. So this morning Harvey and I headed over to Chip-In to pick up a couple of pumpins, along with the usual milk and eggs. I cooked one of the gourds today, as a test model, and will pie it tomorrow after procuring some local cream; I am not, however, entirely sure I chose the best way to go about it. Anyone with experience on the subject want to offer their advice?

I also can't refrain from mentioning a little mishap we had at the store. Tired Harvey wanted to be carried, so with him in one arm I perhaps didn't grasp the bag of milk and eggs as securely as I should have and I dropped the whole thing onto the concrete floor right in front of the register. Three quarters of a gallon of milk and the glass from three bottles makes quite a mess, it turns out! I was pleased to note, though, that only one of the eggs broke: the result kind of validates my 6th-grade egg-drop strategy, conceived the morning the project was due, of just sticking the stupid egg in an egg carton and wrapping some bubble-wrap around it. See, it could have worked!

There were some bright spots from the disaster, besides the lucky eggs. Because we're such good customers Neil let us have three more milk bottles (and one more egg!) for free, and someone was there to tell us not to cry about it. Kept me from having to make the joke myself!

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walking and talking, and listening too

Harvey and Rascal walking in the woods

a boy and his dog

Harvey is doing some pretty impressive stuff now. Talking, sure, but much more than that... like actually walking when we go on walks with the dog. Yes, it can be a drag to wait for him—especially for poor Rascal, when he's on the leash—but it's worth it: at this rate he'll be ready to hike ladder trails by next summer and I won't have to carry his heavy butt in that backpack. (I am pretending right now that I will not have to deal with getting two children up and down mountains the next time we go camping.)

In any case, Harvey's been walking up a storm lately. Around the block with mama, at the pumpkins at Whole Foods with me, all around Drumlin Farm (pics to be posted later, when Mama has a moment alone with her computer). And not just outdoors, either: those rare moments when he's confined to the house he amuses himself with chasing Rascal, often for some reason walking backwards. Maybe so he can claim it was an accident when he collides with the poor dog? He still falls some, mostly from slippery floors inside or slopes outside, but he's got a pretty hard head and for the most part doesn't complain, even after some fairly spectacular falls.

Cognitive growth is evident as well. This evening we were reading books, and when we finished the stack I sent him to get another one—I was comfortable on the couch, you understand. He was about to go for a boring Baby's First Animals type of book, but when I told him that he should grab Ollie the Stomper instead, he did. Who knew the boy even listens to me?! Harvey, you're now officially ahead of Rascal on the house intelligence chart.

(Don't worry puppy, I don't think he's going to catch up to you on athleticism for quite some time yet.)

Harvey in his pjs

dry your tears, the camera is here!

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Drumlin Farms

Now that we're members of the Massachusetts Audubon society we can head over to Drumlin Farms whenever we want! Which is what we did this Saturday. They were having a pumpkin picking festival, so Harvey got to play on a hay-bale obstacle course with help from Dan.

dan helps harvey on the obstacle course

allez up!

2nd shot on the obstacle course

we made it!

We also took a tractor ride around the fields, which would have been lovely except for an absolutely insufferable yuppy prick who spent the ENTIRE time describing VERY LOUDLY to his friends the trappings of his luxurious lifestyle: his recent trip to Paris, how he skips the coach line in airports, and many many minutes devoted to his high-tech shower chamber that shoots water either from the walls or straight down from the ceiling "like it's raining!" You can even customize the water temperature digitally. He likes it at 102 degrees but his wife likes it at 105. Three degrees makes a BIG difference, they both agreed.

In the spirit of non-judgement, I'll just say that at least my boys are very very cute.

harvey and dadda on a tractor ride

the boys

The cold analog showers must be working for somebody.

Because of all the a-holes crowding the place up for their weekly slumming Harvey didn't get a chance to play on the old-fashioned tractor. But I'll include a picture from our previous trip, since I didn't blog that one. Did I mention we're members of the Audubon society now? All trips are free!

harvey on a tractor at drumlin farms

"mama! dacdoo!"

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hippy friends making you mourn the bjorn?

So this month or this week or something is national put your baby in a sling week or month or something. Whatever. It's a hippy awareness thing, and as a big non-joiner hippy myself I'm not going to bother looking it up.

We registered for a side sling before Harvey was born. Some friends very generously got together and bought it for us - at around $100 it wasn't cheap! I was wooed by the idea that I could cradle and snuggle my baby while I walked about the house, did laundry, etc. So when Harvey was born we tried putting him in there. And he screamed. And we tried again later. And he screamed and screamed. And another day. More screaming. Also, my one shoulder hurt, and it was pretty hard to reach for anything with a big baby hanging in front of me. So I threw the thing in the closet.

Look, it's not like I didn't hold my baby. When we were inside I spent pretty much every second of my maternity leave holding him. And doing nothing else. If we didn't get enough skin-to-skin contact during Harvey's first year, it wasn't for choice of hardware. It's because I friggin went back to work.

But outside of the house we did use a carrier, the baby bjorn, and I loved it. So small, so easy to use, every inch of it functional, and no large strap to push up a fat bubble around your waste. Nevertheless, my love for the bjorn puts me at odds with my hippy community. Some hippies even scolded me with wild tones they usually reserve for refined sugar: "NEVER use a popular front carrier! It puts pressure on the baby's HIPS and could damage his DEVELOPMENT!"

Oh man! There goes his future in interpretive dance!

Actually, there's no scientific evidence to back up this claim (and this coming from someone who chose home birth based on scientific evidence. Trust me - it's not just bias viewing of evidence. It's lack of evidence.) I mean seriously, does the entire country of Germany have hip problems? They've carried their babies in bjorns since the 1970s. I'm willing to accept that tofu is bad for you now, but not this. I think it's just reverse classism.

Indeed, the prejudice against bjorn is summed up succinctly in this post on a mothering board:

It seems like some of the criticism of front carriers is merely aimed at them because they are popular, used by upper middle class mainstream people, and don't look as natural/alternative as a sling.

I agree. Who said hippies were non-judgmental?

The truth is that your choice of baby hardware is not just about the well-being of you and your child - it's also about fitting into a tribe and advertising that membership to other mothers. In fact when we bought the Ergo carrier (for when Harvey grew out of the bjorn) the tag-line on the box said "Matches your lifestyle!"

Which is enough to convince me not to buy anymore baby hardware, because seriously. I call myself a hippy because I'm committed to living out some difficult choices for the sake of environment and community. Not because it's a more fashionable for of consumption.

Notice to baby shit makers: My values are not expressible in brand form.

So anyway, come baby number 2 I'll probably once again use the the baby bjorn, and if that makes me look like a yuppy from waste up, so be it. No one in their right mind would look at my pants and think I was a respectable member of society, anyway. Now I just need a customized hippy wrap to put around the thing when I go out in public. I'm thinking of a big quilted flag or something. Something that says "I gave birth at home, bitches. Back off."

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made a pie, got a ribbon

the contest pie

not as attractive as I hoped it would be

I made the pie. Harvey and I brought it down to the contest and sat down to watch the judging. There was more than one pumpkin pie entry.

many pieces of pumpkin pie in front of the judges

the competition

All the pies (there were a fair number of apple, too) meant a whole lot of waiting while judges tasted, but we had fun playing with rocks and watching the crowd. Having reset my expectations to zero when I found I wasn't the only entrant (never mind when several things went wrong with the baking) I was pleasantly surprised to hear that my pie was one of three tied for first place after the initial judging! Shortly thereafter I was unpleasantly disappointed to come in last among those three in extra innings, but I will still display my third-place ribbon with pride—grubby as it may be from Harvey's dirty hands.

And that grubbiness was before he got his hands on some of the leftover pie, put out for the crowd when the judging was over. I think he'd be happy to do it all again next weekend... or maybe tomorrow!

Harvey finishing up the pie

two forks for maximum pie intake

[edit: A photo gallery is available on the BFM website; page through all the boring pics until you get to the ones of me and Harvey.]

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off the rails

If you're a regular reader of this blog you won't need me to tell you that Harvey sleeps in the bed with us. He also naps on our bed, so when he first became somewhat mobile lo these many months ago we put up a set of bed rails that Leah was skillful enough to find in someone's trash. Yay for the baby not falling out of the bed; less so for the difficulty they caused us in getting in and out of it.

Well, as of yesterday the rails are no more (that is to say, they're off the bed until we need em the next time). Now that Harvey can totally climb over them if he wants—or flip over them headfirst—they are less useful than they once were, so we thought we'd see what it would be like to sleep in a grown-up bed.

And I have to say, the early returns aren't entirely positive. Both Leah and I kind of got used to the cozy confinement of the rails; now with them gone it feels like we're more on the bed than in it. Also, they were handy to lean against when Harvey was tossing and turning and forcing us further and further towards the bed's edges. Still, it's nice to be able to slip in or out of bed without having to scootch down from the end, and it's certainly easier to make the bed now. And really, I don't think the blue ever really went very well with our bedroom decor.

Harvey had one really good night a couple days ago, but he's now suffering from a cold that has him tossing and turning more than ever the past two nights. If he falls out of bed, those rails are probably going right back on.

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mittens

Christmas knitting is behind schedule. It seems there's this pesky season called fall which comes before Christmas and necessitates making new things for growing family members. Take for example mittens. The good thing about mittens is that they're relatively quick to make: two full evenings will suffice for a pair. The bad thing is if you've never knit the pattern before you will invariably make the first one too big or too small, but then you'll need to go make a matching one the complete the set, grumbling all the while. Which is why Harvey now has mittens for now AND for next year.

2 pairs of mittens

2 for the price of none!

All the yarn is scrap from other projects, which makes these "essentially" free.

But best part about the mittens? Harvey actually wants to put them on!

harvey and mittens

on? on? on?

No, just kidding. The best part is he can still eat cheerios while wearing them.

harvey and mittens eating cheerios

deeros!

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my morning commute

my bike and a full brook

just barely overtopping the path

What a wonderful commute I had this morning! The pouring rain calmed down to a bracing drizzle just before I had to leave; the way was carpeted with colorful fallen leaves under a canopy of red and gold; and merry streams of water gurgled alongside—and only very occasionally over—the path. Makes going to work almost worthwhile!

Also, no traffic!

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sabbatarianism

For the last few weeks we here at the squibix household have been trying our hand at keeping the Sabbath, in our fashion. Since all of us are ornery, stubborn individualists—yes, even Rascal—instead of following an existing tradition we're working on figuring out just what a Sabbath day means for us. This means that we might be accused—justifiably!—of doing it wrong, but hopefully even the haters will agree that any attempt is better than nothing. Other folks will probably just think we're crazy religious freaks, but that's close enough to the truth that we can't complain.

So what are we actually doing? In the first place, we're taking our day of rest on Sunday, which I understand it rather non-standard (to say nothing of non-biblical). But we figured that, since we worship on Sunday, it's important to be able to take the time to focus on that rather than rushing around trying to get a hundred other things done—which would certainly be the case if we hadn't done any of them on Saturday. We are not refraining from using electricity, or from driving, or from bicycling or dancing: none of those feel like work to us. We are trying to keep work around the home to an absolute minimum, to avoid shopping, and to make a point of slowing down and enjoying the day.

Our results have been mixed, so far. We feel pretty far behind in the housework on a regular basis, so when piece of mind would be better served by getting some laundry done or bread baked than by leaving those tasks undone, we've been going ahead and doing them. We don't feel guilty about it: it's just pragmatic necessity. And we're just getting warmed up! Obviously, the goal is to be able to build that rest day into the schedule without stressing unduly at other times, and we have managed it a little bit. A couple weeks ago I prepared our Sunday dinner on Saturday, and it felt pretty nice to have a big hot meal with no more effort than popping it in the oven; today we managed to get all of the essential laundry done for the week to come. Will practice make perfect?

If nothing else, it's another notch on our intentionality stick. And I won't promise updates on our practice, but if we either fail utterly at making Sunday different from any other day or guide ourselves to a new sense of spirituality and peace, you'll read about it here.

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you shoulda seen the other guy!

Harvey with a big scratch on his face

bloodied but unbowed

We went for a walk at Foss Farm this afternoon, and Harvey had some trouble with the uneven ground and brambles in the grass. This is the result, pictured after we got him home and cleaned up. He was nowhere near as concerned with his injuries as were Mama and Dada (though Dada hid his concern remarkably well) and wanted to keep walking and put him down down down! I have to say, he's one tough little guy.

Mitzvahs and new pants

We went to a Batmitzvah this weekend, and while I had hoped to come home with a picture of Harvey spinning around in neon sunglasses and a plastic top-hat, such a thing was not meant to be. The music and the older children were a bit too overwhelming for him, so he spent most of the time grabbing onto mama or running around the quiet outdoors. Here's a shot of the latter:

harvey playing outside

up? up?

For the occasion he wore a second-hand button-down shirt and some new pants hot off mama's sewing machine. I cut the pieces from some old cargo pants of mine that no longer fit and added a green band around the top to hold the elastic. I made Harvey pull up his shirt in this picture to display the contrast edging:

harvey displaying his new pants

an obedient model

The benefits of this pant-making method are of course that
1) recycled material means almost no cost (although I'll admit that it's a hard thing to keep enough elastic in the house), and
2) pre-made cargo pockets make them look not quite so home-made.

Also, obviously, pants take less time to make when you don't have to make the pockets. On the other hand, fitting a pattern piece onto a pre-made garment is kind of a bear, so there's 6 of one...

The best part of the event though was getting to see my two handsome boys all dressed up.

harvey and dan playing

Aren't they the cutest?

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sorry market

The Bedford Farmers Market, which opened with such high excitement just four months ago, finished up today—and I am sad to report that it was rather more with a whimper than any sort of loud or otherwise celebratory sound. Things were perhaps looking up early this marketing season, but the last month or so there just hasn't been that much reason to even stop in. Not many customers, and not many farmers either: Busa, Chip-in, and Butterbrook farms all abandoned the thinning crowds, leaving us without a single purveyor of general-purpose vegetables. Thank you Flats Mentor Farm for sticking around and letting us buy carrots and bok choi!

So we won't miss the Bedford market, as convenient as it may be. We will, however, miss the fantastic Lexington market, which only has two more market days left—and which, I learn, recently won the 2010 Best of Boston award for best Farmers Market. It really is a great scene, with probably four times the number of booths than there are at Bedford and a great crowd every market day. I skipped a couple weeks due to home emergencies and poverty, but you'd better believe I'll be there tomorrow hoping to stock up on squashes and cranberries for the long winter ahead!

So, better luck next year Bedford?

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how do they find the time?!

One of the things I like to be smug about, along with shopping at farmers markets and commuting by bicycle, is the fact that we don't have a tv. Well, we have one, but as of some ten months ago it isn't connected to any sort of device that would allow it to show a picture. Not watching any tv at all, except an undisclosed amount on the internet, lets me be even more shocked and disgusted to hear that the average American now watches an average of five hours of television a day.

Actually, I'm not really shocked or disgusted. I knew some people watch a crap-load of tv, because I get to hear about so much of it at the lunchroom at work. But the cold hard figures—or rather, the interpretation of the figures presented by the LA Times, because reading that article is as far as I delved into this subject—really brings home to me the immensity of folks' television habit. I just don't understand how they find room to fit all that screen time into their day!

Me, I get home at around 4:00—earlier than a lot of people, I would imagine. As soon as I get home Harvey is ready to play with me for a while and mama is ready for a rest; sometimes the dog needs a walk as well. That takes us up until it's time to start dinner: we usually eat around 5:30. Then we have to get Harvey ready for bed. If he's getting a bath that's mama's job so I get a few minutes to catch up on my RSS reading, otherwise I first get him tired out by romping with Rascal and then read him books to calm him down, before we put him in bed around 7:00 or so. Cleaning the kitchen and baking bread or cookies as necessary takes another hour or so, and then it's time to write a blog post before bed. Where on earth could I ever find the time to squeeze in five hours of television?!

Obviously, that average has to be padded out a little by heavy weekend viewing, but I'm still only home for six hours before I'm dead tired at 10:00; and I go to bed at 9:00 or before when I can. Could I sit in front of the box for four of those hours? Then again, there is a little missing time in my reconstruction of my schedule... a little bit of reading books, perhaps, or stupid things on the internet, or even talking to my wife. That's where I could make up some quality tv time, by skipping those particular pastimes. That's if I even had a tv, of course!

[And hey, readers, I know you're out there: how much tv do you think you average a day! Don't worry, I won't judge you (out loud) by your answers!]

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brilliant insight from Leah's brain

"You know, when I'm cooking oatmeal the water just sits there for a long time, and I'm like, 'Is this too much water?' But then when it starts to boil, the water really disappears! It's like boiling water is a really efficient way of making water disappear."

Yeah. You might even say that's the definition of it.

Oh God. Parenthood is rotting my brain.

streak broken

Alas, I this week had to abandon my unannounced ambition of riding my bike to work every day this year: no alternate transportation, and no sick days (except I did give myself an out for the few days surrounding the birth of the new baby). Perhaps more hopeful than realistic, as was proved this week when I was brought low with a sore throat and fever. Stayed home Wednesday, and was gratefully chauffeured by Leah and Harvey Thursday (they were going that way anyway). Despite some lingering malaise, however, I was back on the bike this morning. The new streak stands at one day.

how are pumpkins like diamonds?

Harvey and I picked out a Halloween pumpkin this afternoon. Well, mostly I picked it out while he gazed past me towards the pasture softly repeating "gow, gow, gow..." to himself; if only we'd done this a couple weeks ago before he decided he was pretty much over pumpkins (thanks to their ubiquity, and I don't blame him). Anyways, I spotted one for only $3.00 that was about as big as the general run of $6.00 pumpkins but slightly marred by one flattened, gray-speckled side where it had lain in the field. "How about this one?" I asked him encouragingly. He approved.

Note the advantages of getting your field pumpkin at Chip-in, where they're priced according to looks and priced to sell! Every single field pumpkin at Whole Foods—moderately-sized all—is $9.00. $9.00? No thanks! Wilson Farms in Lexington I believe is somewhere in between: if I recall correctly, their field pumpkins are more expensive the bigger they get, regardless of shape or blemishes. I guess that's just one of the benefits to running a family farm: you get to examine each pumpkin you sell and price it accordingly. Now that's service!

Wilson's, though, has something that even Chip-in doesn't, and that's truly enormous pumpkins. The pricing for those beasts, as described on the website [link target subject to change, sorry], is entirely reasonable: 59¢/lb. Reasonable, that is, until you learn that Atlantic Giants (which are actually bred from Hubbard squashes rather than real American pumpkins) can reach up to 1,810 lbs. Fancy spending $1,067.90 on your jack-o-lantern this year? Not, of course, that Wilson's carries pumpkins anything like that large: the most expensive gourd I noticed there a couple weeks ago was priced at $159, which—if my calculations are correct—means it weighs in at a measly 269 lbs.

And yet, a hundred and a half dollars also seems like a great deal to spend on a pumpkin, especially when you can get one nearly as impressive for somewhere in the neighborhood of $25. Or even $3, right? (we'll post pictures if we make it into a jack-o-lantern). Sure, kids can't pose for pictures on top of the $25 pumpkin, but on the other hand you don't need a chain saw to try and carve it. It's just like diamonds, which similarly increase wildly in price as they get larger. No simple arithmetic increase for luxury goods like pumpkins and engagement rings, no: if you want one that really stands out you're going to have to pay exponentially for the increase. Scientists might tell us that it's simply what happens when you increase the diameter of a solid arithmetically, but I know it's really all about soaking the rich. And I approve. I just hope that, for the pumpkins at least, the deal also includes door-to-door backhoe transport!

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big shoes to fill

Harvey wearing dada's sneakers

yes, he could walk in them

He looks kind of like a cross-country skier from the alternate-dimension 1920s...

spying on other families

A friend from our Lexington church is in Colombia adopting her second child, and I'm snooping on the proceedings via her blog. Very exciting indeed.

It probably proves that I'm a defective mom for thinking it, but how nice it would be to pick up your baby at 3 months old! Get the worst bit out of the way without even thinking about it! Although, it bears mentioning that traveling to Colombia is a big pain in the ass.

Yeah, I must be a defective mom. I just put Harvey down for his nap, and I'm looking at his sweet angel face as those huge eye lashes slowly close, and I'm thinking "this is the best job in the world." Being a parent of a 16-month-old. Why are we fucking everything up with a newborn?

It's delirium talking. I haven't slept through the night in a year and a half. I only exercise attached to a dog leash and a 26-pound back-pack. My rational loving mommy brain is slowly seeping out the back of my head.

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mousing around

Here's a little preview for you of Harvey's halloween costume. I made him a mouse hat using the base from this martha stewart bonnet. That took about thirteen seconds, while the ears took about two hours to sew on. Man, there's nothing worse for someone with OCD than hand-sewing animal ears on a hat when THEY NEED TO BE SYMMETRICAL IN THREE DIMENSIONS!!!!! Fortunately, I was able to devote my full attention to the task because I did it at jury duty earlier this week. They wouldn't let me bring in my knitting needles (those bastards) but I did manage to sneak in a small sewing needle thread. Good thing too, because this left me time to make a mouse body costume this afternoon, although sadly after this video was shot. Oh well. You'll have some pictures to look forward to this weekend. Happy pre-halloween!

bunny love

I had the special honor this weekend of reading a passage at my oldest friend's wedding. Oldest friend as in I've known her since birth, not that she's old. She's 29 like me. Anyway, she asked me to read an excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit, which (oh golly) made me sob when I read it IN HER EMAIL. Great! Go ahead and ask a pregnant mommy to read from a children's book at your wedding! See if she can keep her shit together. It'll be a good practical joke!

The wedding was Saturday night, so I printed out the passage on Saturday morning and stood up in front of Dan to practice. I got as far as "When a child loves you" before my voice cracked. I tried to save it but I had tears rolling down my cheek by the time I said "it doesn't happen to people who break easily." Dan was in hysterics. He almost fell of the chair laughing. Defeated, I went into seclusion to practice. After about 30 readings got it to the point where I felt bored and jaded enough to proceed without waterworks. Here's the passage:

A Reading from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse." You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. Once you are Real, you cannot become unreal again. It lasts for always."

Oh man. That Margery Williams chick must have been married.

Going on baby number two and following up on the hardest 16 months in my worldly experience, I really get what it means to get REAL because you're shabby. You don't think about it so much on the day of your wedding, when you're dolled up the prettiest you'll ever be in your life, but marriage gives you the wild opportunity to love someone for a very long time, through times that are sweet and beautiful and through times that look really ugly.

I've been pretty ugly a lot lately. It's not just the hair (although that contributes) but the complete lack of patience, the stressing about money, the bitching about every stupid thing like the universe owes me a coke.

The fact that someone would stay married to me, would love me still, justifies my whole stupid existence in a fashion that can only be described as grace.

So thank you Dan for being married to me. You're the real deal.

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he begins to grasp the point of the holiday

Harvey in his mouse costume

ready to trick-or-treat!

For his second Halloween Harvey was a mouse. He thought he looked pretty cute: he told us so every time he looked in the mirror.

mousie close-up

squeek!

He was a little bit uncertain about the actual trick-or-treating part, until he found out that he would be getting actual candy that he could actually eat (in representative quantities at least). He still wouldn't put his own hand out to take anything, but at least he consented to being carried up to a few peoples' doors.

more Harvey in his mouse costume

showing off his tail and candy bag

Now we see how well he sleeps after consuming as much candy as he has. Or coo-key?!, as he describes it.

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