Massachusetts

Whole30 Day 6

Today is Day 6. Biggest lesson from today? Don’t mess with the twins’ nap schedule. If they miss their one and only nap around 10 or 11 a.m., the rest of the day is miserable. For. Everyone.

Yeah, not Whole30 related, I know.

The big meals of the last couple of days were shepherd’s pie and spaghetti squash with homemade marinara sauce. The shepherd’s pie should happen very, very often. I used half gold potatoes and half yams for the topping, a ton of garlic, one pound of organic ground beef and a ton of frozen mixed veggies from Costco, plus a handful of spices. It made a full 9×13″ pan, which is already gone.

Lessons in Whole30’ing

Farmer’s markets are amazing. Today I needed to drive up to Cook Farm, the dairy where I get unpasteurized milk for the boys, so I decided to stop in at the Northampton Winter Market.

I love Northampton. Everyone is quirky and weird, there are kitschy little shops around every corner, Webs is there, and it’s home to some of the most impressively improbable architecture in the form of big, old Victorian homes.

Their Winter Market doesn’t disappoint, either. It was crowded–too crowded for a stroller, but I had no choice but to wear one kid in the Tula and push the other. Among the vendors were little creameries selling cheese, ghee-makers demonstrating DIY clarified butter, mushroom-infused soaps, handwoven alpaca scarves and blankets, hot lentil soups, freshly-baked breads and pretzels, winter squash, potatoes, roots, and hothouse greens, handcarved wooden spoons and bowls, and a troubadour with a 12-string guitar.

It’s worth the 35-minute drive to make that a regular stop–even if I can’t indulge in the breads, soups, and cheeses on the Whole30. I spent a while admiring the alpaca wares, Micah charmed a handknitted finger puppet from a vendor, and I bought a dozen eggs before heading to Cook Farm and then home. If I hadn’t already had a refrigerator full of food for the week, I would have stocked up on a ton of the beautiful produce. As it was, I left inspired by the whole farmer’s market atmosphere and the huge availability of real, local, organic foods in this area. Such a switch from Guam. I need to rethink my wintertime grocery routine and make it a point to hit more shindigs like that one. It’s definitely more fun than a trip to Stop ‘n Shop.

However, that particular shindig caused the missed naptime and the ensuing excitement of manic, tired one-year-olds who tried to cram each other in the dog’s crate and then lock the door.

Lessons learned.

In other news, I can’t believe tomorrow is Day 7 already!

Yarning

img_1791I have a thing for fiber–and not the type that comes in salads. I love the type of fiber that grows on bunnies and sheep, alpacas and camels. The type that you wrap hands, neck, and ears in when it’s cold.

The longer I live in New England (going on two years now!), the more I find about New England to love. Like the fiber arts culture. Every respectable town, village, or suburb around here has a well-stocked yarn store–or so it seems. The Mecca of all yarn shops, Webs, is just forty-five minutes north of my home, and I make frequent pilgrimages in that direction.

Last weekend, the New England Fiber Festival drew me, though. Because I love all things soft and fuzzy, it’s more than worth the $7 admission fee and $5 parking just to pet the angora rabbits, to respectfully not pet the clearly somewhat miffed alpacas, and to feast your eyes on thousands upon thousands of skeins of handdyed, handspun loveliness.

You can’t leave without buying something. Last year, the twins were just over a month old when we went to the fiber festival for the first time, and they were wearing tiny little handknit sweaters (which received comments from practically everyone we passed). This year, the twins weren’t wearing handknits and neither was I, but one kind woman gave Micah a handknit hat for free (!), and I bought an incredibly smooshy skein of fingering-weight yarn that will make the perfect sweater to echo the blue in Davey’s eyes.

Manny and I have been talking about purchasing an angora bunny for a little over a year, so we took the opportunity to talk to the exhibitors with angoras and to find out more about their care. The whole experience has made me determined to find a hutch, create a cozy nest, and adopt an angora or two of my own. So don’t be surprised if, in one of the next posts here, you get to meet an extra fuzzy addition to the Jacoby household.

 

Crunch. Crunch.

This year, I spent Christmas Eve baking homemade bread, wearing Davey in his Moby wrap, and browsing cloth diaper sites. While my dough was proofing, I started hearing something. And it wasn’t the sound of footsteps through snow–not this year. But it sounded similar. It was the music of a subculture that I’m just getting to know.

Like every other millennial, I’ve always hated the idea that I might be normal. But I didn’t think I’d end up in a weird off-the-beaten-track hipster category along with millions of my peers.

Last summer I intended to write a post about knitting. I had just finished a pair of socks I wanted to show off. If I had written the post, it would have certainly said something about how knitted socks are better than cheesecake, oversized hoodies, and flavored coffee combined.Screenshot 2015-12-28 11.34.25

Before I had the twins, I fell prey to the cloth diaper addiction. It’s a thing. Cloth diaper collecting is not unlike collecting handbags, high-end candles, or essential oils, but it’s arguably more useful and economical. It makes me different (except for the other tens of thousands of moms who also decided it’s a great idea and brought it back into vogue). It saves me money (for now), makes more sense to me, and keeps my babies’ bums comfortable (who wants to wear paper underwear?).Screenshot 2015-12-28 11.33.41

I also discovered that I can’t really get through a day without wearing my babies–at this point, it’s usually in their Moby wrap, though I’ve decided I need a soft structured carrier like a Tula. And possibly a few ring slings, for good measure. Babywearing makes it possible to cook, clean, do laundry, and even write my articles while holding a sleeping baby (they almost inevitably fall asleep when they’re wrapped). Which means that babywearing enables me to keep more of my sanity than I would otherwise.

Screenshot 2015-12-28 11.39.20

Last summer Manny and I bought a farm share and drove thirty minutes once a week to pick fruit and veggies and collect our massive box of fresh, locally grown organic goods. It just made sense. We also drive another twenty minutes out of the way to a local dairy/ice cream shop to get a couple of gallons of raw milk every week and a half or two weeks.Screenshot 2015-12-28 11.34.00

Once, shortly after the twins were born, we ran out of raw milk and didn’t feel like driving all the way to Amherst to collect some. Crisis. So we bought organic homogenized milk from the store. It was disgusting. Seriously, after getting spoiled on the super-creamy, fresh raw milk from Cook Farm, neither Manny nor I could stomach the storebought stuff. We ended up throwing it out.

For all the trouble I went to during adolescence to try to avoid labels, I’ve stumbled into a big one without even realizing it. It turns out that my particular combination of “logical” choices identifies me as a Crunchy Mom.

What does that even mean? Urban Dictionary has a helpful entry. There are even quizzes you can take to determine your level of crunchiness. Apparently I’m only somewhat crunchy because I’m not politically liberal, I like to travel by car, and most of my decisions have nothing to do with greenhouse gases or landfills.

Somehow I’ve fallen into the new trendy subculturey group of cloth diapering, baby wearing, homebirthing, raw-milk-drinking, crop-share-buying, knitting, intactivist, who-knows-what-else mothers. They call us Crunchy. The fact that I practically live in Birkenstocks (with handknitted socks in cold weather) adds bonus points in my favor. In fact, the only thing going against my crunchy status is my unrelenting love of frozen pizzas and my fairly conservative worldview, which I’m sure most hard core crunchy moms would frown upon.

All I need is a set of these bumper stickers to finalize my admission to the Crunchy club. And here I thought I was avoiding labels.

The struggle is real.

Walking in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods CoverIf you have any outdoorsy spark within you at all, then certain books are bound to elevate that spark to genuine obsession. A Walk in the Woods did that for me in July.

The stupid book made me want to drop everything, buy a backpack, and go hit the ~2,800-mile-long-trail posthaste. Nevermind the fact that I’m 26 weeks pregnant with twins, and walking a single mile feels like a feat of superhuman strength and stamina.

Reading Bryson’s account of through-hiking the trail reminded me of hiking in and around the Blue Ridge Mountains with my best friend in college–spending Saturdays in the woods, far enough from classrooms and homework that they couldn’t quite touch us, logging mile after mile and then dragging ourselves to Panera afterwards for soup and sandwiches.

Anyway, the whole reading-and-reminiscing thing sparked a conversation with the hubster, who started an AT through hike with a friend several years ago. Sadly, they couldn’t finish because said friend injured his ankle. The hubster’s dream lives on, and mine remains on my bucket list–the same place it’s been for the past four or five years.

Knowing that about 90 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs through western Massachusetts, we decided to look up volunteer opportunities at the trail conservancy in this area. A few days later, Manny informed me that he had signed both of us up to help rebuild a bog bridge on a section of trail an hour and a half away by car + 1/2 mile by foot.

I protested on the basis of exhaustion and general aches and pains. I told him he might end up carrying me back up the trail. And then I went with him anyway.

We met a few scruffy-looking men who could have been 45 or 80. Apparently one was a ridge runner whose full-time job is hiking the AT from one end of Mass. to another to keep an eye on the trail, rumors of bears, fallen trees, and the like. They handed us some wood to carry down the trail, and down we went.

The weather was perfect–mid 70’s, breezy, clear sunshine and cotton candy clouds. I think I waddled the half-mile to the bog bridge and back half a dozen times over the course of the day, alternately carrying a piece of wood, a box of nails, or a hammer.

Appalachian Trail in MassachusettsI will note that the aches in my back and hips and the fatigue of walking, even while carrying lumber and tools, pretty much disappeared as long as I was out there walking in the woods (they all came back in full force later, sadly).

The hubster and I were also elected to walk another mile up the trail in the opposite direction to post a “Beware of Bear” sign near a shelter where a bear had decided to rob some unfortunate hiker of his entire food bag the week before. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the fuzzy fellow, but no such luck.

But back to the book. If you don’t want to come away from A Walk in the Woods with a compulsion to, well, go for a walk in the woods, probably don’t pick it up in the first place–even though they are making it into a movie next year.

The book itself is hilariously uncouth, captures an incredibly relatable ambivalent love-hate relationship with the trail, and is laugh-out-loud funny. I spewed the tea I was drinking dangerously close to the pages more than once because a particularly entertaining line caught me off-guard. Because of this, I’m calling it the Funny Book on my 2015 Reading List.

Because the spark of obsession was lit, I followed that read with Hiking Through, another AT book, this one from Manny’s section of the home library. It’s an autobiographical account of a former Mennonite hiking the trail after losing his wife to cancer. I respect this guy more than Bryson, but he’s not a writer, and his attempts at both poetry and humor fell rather flat. Still, it was worth the few hours it took to read it. I’m thinking these might lead to a whole series of AT-related reading.

I guess this is all to say that if one day in the not-so-distant future, you read here that the hubster and I are quitting life to take two kids and a dog on a six-month-long walk in the woods, you shouldn’t be terribly surprised.

Babies times two.

Life changes dramatically. Or maybe it doesn’t. Six months ago, I was setting up shop at a Guam coffee shop drinking tea, writing web landing pages and blog posts for myriad companies. Today, I’m doing much the same thing on the other side of the world. I’m still drinking a tea latte. And I’m still procrastinating when I should be washing laundry.

Everything is very much the same. Everything is completely different.

The coffee shop is a Starbucks, not an Infusion. And I’m realizing (with some dismay) that I think I like Infusion better.

The tea latte is actually a London Fog, not a Japanese-esque earl grey royal milk tea.

And now my body is home to three heartbeats, not just one or two.

minijacoby.12weeks

minijacoby.twina

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the first several weeks of this pregnancy, I had been much sicker than I was with Miriam. I ballooned faster. But I told myself it was just a different pregnancy–and not very far spaced from the first one, at that. I took the sickness and exhaustion as a comforting sign that I had a healthy baby growing in there.

Your body is exhausted, I told myself. You just moved internationally. What did you expect? 

My midwife suspected twins the moment she touched my belly. I should have been eleven weeks along, but my uterus didn’t seem to agree. A few days and an ultrasound later, we’d confirmed her suspicions: two healthy twins, about twelve weeks old.

So here I am again, more nervous this time around, more excited this time around, taking less for granted, playing the waiting game that is pregnancy. Lord willing, November this year will welcome two new additions to the little home we just bought.

In the meantime, seasons change and remain as beautiful as ever. As locals promised, springtime in New England really shines. The landscape shaded from brown-gray to a rainbow of colors in the space of just a few days. It’s lovely to walk outside in the cool of the morning and for it to be cool, not dense and heavy with the aroma of jungle.

I miss Guam for the familiarity of it, the friends, and the ocean. I already miss that Pacific blue that I know I’ll never see on this side of the world.

A few days ago I treated myself to a pedicure and chose the polish closest in color to that one-of-a-kind ocean blue. But even photographs don’t come close, let alone OPI’s best attempt at an ocean blue.

Nevertheless, for now, I’ll take Massachusetts and whatever it has to offer. With pleasure.

Bleak House, house buying, Hawthorne, Melville, and Bryant…

Bleak House CoverIt took me a month to read Bleak House, mostly because moving from Guam, buying a house, and generally not feeling great has been monopolizing life lately. The book itself is classic Dickens–brilliant and impossible to review. Everything that can possibly be said about it has already been said by more well-spoken readers than me.

Somewhere around page 300, I laughed out loud at something (this happened a lot while reading this book). The hubster looked up from his computer. “Good book?” he asked.

“It’s brilliant.”

“What’s it about?”

And for the life of me, even though I was already a third of the way through the thing, I couldn’t really say what it was about or where it was going. The action really starts around page 700, which is probably why so many people find BH such a daunting read.

Nevertheless, it’s brilliant. You should go read it now.

The hopeless situation of that Chancery lawsuit was a nice break from househunting and moving stress. Dickens takes effort to read when all you’ve read lately are more modern, American-authored books, and I needed something to keep my mind occupied.

So there was that, and it took forever to read, and it made me feel like I needed to go read every single Dr. Seuss book ever written to catch back up with my 52-book goal on the 2015 reading list. Although BH would qualify for several different items on the List, I’m counting it toward “a book that I own but never read,” because it really has been collecting dust for a while.

I found Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose!

I found Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose!

 

Side note: Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) was born in Springfield, Mass–the same town in which we’re buying a house. There’s even a memorial sculpture garden, and it’s kind of awesome.

This weekend I learned a little more profoundly just how much literary history is EVERYWHERE around here. The hubster and I went to hike Monument Mountain, just west of town, on Saturday. Google revealed that a picnic on that mountain once spawned a friendship between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, that one of their conversations supposedly inspired Moby Dick. 

 

Poet William Cullen Bryant also waxed rather eloquent on the subject of that mountain’s rocky crags.

Let thy foot
Fail not with weariness, for on their tops
The beauty and the majesty of earth,
Spread wide beneath, shall make thee to forget
The steep and toilsome way.

Read the entire poem here, if you’re feeling dedicated.

Monument Mountain

The views up there were beautiful. But I’ve seen unquestionably more spellbinding mountains than that one. Did William Cullen Bryant ever visit the Rockies? That bears research, but I doubt he would have been as impressed by the Berkshires if he had.