Friday, May 31, 2013


I can't even begin to tell you how devoted my dad was to this dog...BP was undoubtedly Ike's best buddy (and I tend to think the feeling was mutual).
This dog was in no hurry to go anywhere, living just shy of two decades.
Rest in peace, old dog...hope there are endless Greenies in your great beyond (and I hope Hazel is a lot nicer to you this time around). 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Baby's First (mostly homemade) Foods (by a mom who is grossed out by baby food)

When our pediatrician gave me the green light to start Maeve on solid food, I found myself dreading the ensuing mess and the baby food itself.
No exaggeration, baby food grosses me out more than just about anything (this from the girl who spent a decade of her life scraping plaque sweaters off of people's teeth...go figure).
When Max was a baby, it didn't even occur to me that I could (or should) make his food myself.
Sadly, I wasn't a very confident new mom...when I should have been reveling in the early months, I was busy fretting and worrying that I was somehow screwing up.
Now that Maeve is beginning to eat solid food, I can't imagine not making it myself.
Bonus: I've gotten over my weird and inexplicable aversion to baby food.

Here are some simple tips and insight culled from close mom friends, a very helpful website, and my own instincts (although I am no expert, I'm definitely more confident this time around):

  • Other than some dishwasher-safe BPA-free containers that can be frozen, I did not purchase any special equipment. My mom gave me a Cuisinart food processor years ago which has proven indispensible for making purees.
  • Fruits should be steamed or baked prior to pureeing (they are easier to digest when cooked).
  • It's so easy to toss a few well-scrubbed sweet potatoes in the oven (400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until fork-tender) in the morning while I am cleaning up/packing lunch for Max. 
  • Frozen organic peas are super-easy to steam, puree, and bag yields about 5 generous 2oz servings, as opposed to jarred organic peas...last weekend I scoped out the baby food at WF and Earth's Best 2oz peas were 3/$2)
  • Pureed lentils made Maeve gag...plain lentils aren't very palatable (even to a baby, apparently). Lentils cooked in no-sodium vegetable or chicken broth with a dash of cinnamon or ginger, however, is a hit. 
  • Ripe bananas can be mashed with a fork (duh)...easiest prep ever. I really don't get why anyone would buy jarred bananas.
  • A family-size jar of organic sugar-free apple sauce goes a long way when a serving size is only a few tablespoons (it is great mixed with oatmeal for baby).
  • Plain whole milk Greek yogurt is excellent for adding a bit of calcium and protein to fruits or veggies (whole milk as a drink should be avoided until one year, but because yogurt has live active cultures and is more easily digested, it is fine for baby).
  • Homemade soups (without added salt) are great for pureeing (veggie broth, lentils, sweet potatoes, spinach, and sweet peppers is an easy one).
  • My baby happens to be (shamelessly) formula-fed and it is recommended that formula or breast milk be the main source of a baby's nutrition for the first year. Maeve still gets 20-24oz of formula per day in addition to a fruit with yogurt or grain for breakfast and a veggie for dinner. I haven't decided when or if I'll introduce meat to her diet. Because of my family history of heart disease, I am treading closer and closer toward a plant-based diet for myself and would like to find out more about how that could potentially benefit my children, too. 
  • Maeve is sitting very well with support and is clearly interested in food. We follow her lead and feed her until she shows any sign of disinterest. As she becomes more adept in her fine motor skills, I'll be happy to let her feed herself.
  • In spite of my aforementioned aversion to Baby Food Mess, I am abandoning my tendency to want to clean every dribble and splat of food from Maeve's face and high chair. Babies need to explore their food and learn through their senses...we are not doing her any favors by meticulously scraping her chin with a spoon or discouraging chubby little fingers from swirling peas all over her tray. 
Again, I am far from an expert, but I wanted to share what has been working for us.
Especially this cutie:
 If you have any tips or advice, I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

holiday weekend...the low-key way

When I wasn't busy pouting about feeling like a social outcast lately, I realized how nice it was to have nothing (and I mean nothing) on our agenda.
This meant:
  • a few impromptu outings with baby in tow to enjoy a beer and change of scenery
  • a much-needed sunny stroll around Longwood Gardens 
  • good eats at home (lentil soup Friday night to greet winter's unwelcome return)
  • completion of long-neglected projects around the house (made infinitely more tolerable with the right company and good music)
  • ice cream (a Memorial Day weekend must) 
  • a ride/date at French Creek with my husband
  • a casual barbecue with my parents
  • some serious Lego Minecraft assembly alongside Max (he did most of the work, but I did find it oddly therapeutic)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Night

Max is next to me on the sofa, sketching Ninjas and watching "Dragon Riders of Berk."

His pajamas are getting too small and his hair is growing too fast ("But, mom, I like wolfin' out!"...huh??)

He smells clean and looks worn out.
Second Grade is winding down and we are both ready for a break from packed lunches and homework.
We're sharing a bowl of Cheerios (dry, no you think that's gross? I think cereal with milk is gross).
I just vacuumed, so obviously Max is dropping Cheerios everywhere.
"Let's keep it under control, Max."
After several rounds of binky-replacing and mobile-winding, Maeve is sound asleep.
In a few minutes, I'll read with Max.
We have two chapters left of "Superfudge"...Max has been drawing quite a few parallels between himself and Peter. 
"Please go brush your teeth."

Right about now, Bill is probably enjoying a well-deserved brew following his Wednesday Night Ride.
Good for him...
and I hope he has one for me.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

sweet potato

Five months tomorrow...
  • Giggling & laughing (but, we really have to earn those belly laughs for now)
  • Rolling over (from back to front)
  • Eating (bananas, peas, apple sauce, and sweet potato so far)
  • Sitting up very well with support (graduated to high chair tonight with a pillow propped behind her)
  • Soothing herself to sleep 
  • Grasping toys
To call her a pleasant baby is quite an understatement.
I love these kids so much...


Saturday, May 18, 2013

On The Rocks at French Creek 2013

On a whim, I decided to "race" French Creek today.
The bug bit mid-week when my brother confirmed his band would be playing at the race...
if my brother gets to play there, I want to play, too...

I'm destroyed (7th out of 9 women in Cat 2...yeah, yeah Cat 2...)

In fact, I'm so destroyed that I am relying on a list to illustrate my feeble reflections on today's experience:
  • Racing is a lot more fun for me when it's not the most important thing in my life.
  • The jitters & nerves will show up in force no matter how cavalier I seem to feel about the shape I'm in (or not in, as it were).
  • Mixing it up in Cat 2(Sport) again is humbling after years of working my way up through the ranks...I didn't expect to be in any kind of contention and honestly would have raced up had I anticipated any other outcome. I belong there. 
  • This race was about me pushing myself harder than I have in a long time and having nothing to prove to anyone...and, wow, that is extremely liberating.
  • My legs are, so effing sore. Already?! Really??
  • Ron Harding's course layout is fun...he knew what he was doing when he put that loop together (and I'm sure if you raced Endurance, you'd concur).
  • Riding a few times a week at best for ninety minutes at a pop doesn't make for feeling like a Rockstar out on the trails, but counts for something...I felt surprisingly good.
  • Descents are still my weakness...rrrrrrrrrrr! 
  • Phantom tire leaks really bug me out. Is it flat? Is it flat? How bout now?
  • My tailbone doesn't appreciate the fact that I spent a few hours on a mountain bike.
  • BillShowers*  is such a supportive and encouraging partner...he makes me feel a tiny bit more calm when I am waiting at the line. (that tiny bit of calm is a big deal)
  • Live music at a bike race is awesome.
  • Our baby is such a pleasant little sidekick...all smiles, happy to see some familiar faces.
  • Riding my bike puts me in a great mood...the buzz lasted all day long following the race.
  • When that buzz faded, I hit a wall and it wasn't pretty (picture a hungry, cranky, overcooked toddler who skipped their nap...that was me in grownup form).
  • I could not be happier with how today played out, yet I'm in no rush to race again any time soon. 

(maybe the Fair Hill Classic in August...maybe)

Baby's first race

My brother keeping the woods funky

* Yes, I really call him that sometimes.

Friday, May 17, 2013

my aunt

Yesterday we traveled to Wilkes-Barre for my aunt Kathy's funeral.
She died at home in her sleep last week after a ridiculously valiant fight with cancer.
Anyone who knew Kathy would attest to the fact that she never complained or let on just how sick she was.
I've never witnessed somebody struggling in the midst of such an ugly and insidious disease with so much humor, humility, and wit. 
She was my mom's little sister, the mother of two girls, and the grandmother of Lily and Dae.

On a whim, I sent her flowers for her birthday this year (she turned 52 on April 25th).
Thanks to a quick google search, I found a florist near her home and requested a cheerful Springtime bouquet.
In true Kathy fashion, she posted a picture of the arrangement on Facebook and wrote, "Thank you Kim Showers & Family! I couldn't tell you how long it's been since I've received a flower delivery. This is beautiful and I feel so special. Love you all!!"

Say what you will about social media, but I heard from my aunt every day via Facebook.
Through her thoughtful links, inquiries about my kids, and comments on our photos, I felt more connected to her than some family members who I spend time with in real life.
I'll miss her presence during my morning routine of drinking tea and scrolling through my FB feed while the kids are still asleep...
this is the Aunt Kathy I remember as a kid...the cool, smart-ass Aunt...the fun babysitter

Eileen, Mom, Kathy (sisters)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pollen and Tacos

Mother's Day has started early.
Max wrote a poem for me:

My mom is as pretty as a daisy
She is as sweet as pollen
She is as smart as a scientist
But most of all, she is as special as Tacos!

Capital "T", bitches.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wednesday night jam

My brother, a pretty extraordinary guitarist, hosts an open jam every Wednesday night at a local bar.
The first incarnation of this jam started a few years ago and served as the perfect respite from my woes at home.
Woes at home? 
Remember when my (ex)husband and I had already decided we were splitting up, but still lived under the same roof for nearly nine months? Yeah. Many nights I would leave after my son and his dad had gone to bed.   
Oh...and if "respite" sounds like hanging out at a bar and getting hammered, that couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, I was Rob's dorky older sister...a fixture at the corner table, nursing one beer, and taking my task of writing the Jam List maybe just a little too seriously.
I look back on those times and can hardly believe that was me or my reality.

Last night, my dad mentioned heading over to the jam and I decided to join him (and I wasn't escaping any woes at home).
Although we only stayed for one brief set, I felt inspired.
Not inspired to pick up a guitar (please), but inspired to at least breathe a little bit of new life into my thing.

what's my thing? sometimes it's riding...sometimes it's writing...sometimes it's picking up a box of pencils and a blank piece of paper...sometimes it's making cookies shaped like robots with my son...sometimes it's writing on this blog...  

He sounded that good.
(or I just don't get out enough anymore)
(photo taken from the Rob Perna Band's FB page)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

spring rides

Fall has always been my favorite time of year to ride, but this spring has been amazing so far.
I've made peace with the fact that there is no racing on my immediate horizon...
There is something to be said for riding purely just for fun this time of year.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

eighty minutes (alone in the woods)

Just me and my bike this morning.
Just doing my thing, stringing together a loop as I went along.
Pushing hard on tiny steeps and tight corners, then cruising casually enough to notice ferns unfurling trail side.
I don't need much time away or on my own, but there is something so powerfully restorative about these little solo rides.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

a month without junk is over!

...and, I am back into my pre-baby jeans without having to maneuver around inappropriately.
They fit...yay.
(trust me, there is still plenty of work to do, but at least it doesn't feel quite as elusive now)

Admittedly, there were a few missteps thanks to a gigantic glass of wine (oh, and that Bellini) to toast a dear friend's birthday, impromptu S'mores and beer at the ruins, and (I lost count how many) salted caramels that Bill made for my mom.  
I feel less slovenly and slightly healthier...hardly svelte, but at least there are a few more options in my closet.
Now it's May and I am motivated to keep it up.
While I won't be lining up at any races this season (and by the way, that feels weird and  kinda sad), I will be getting out on the trails every chance I get.