Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Few of My Favorites

This week is post-holiday week and it is difficult not be sad. The snow has fallen and I do believe it is here to stay. Last week, the snow was a delight. Now, it is just cold and windy.

So, I will stay indoors today and dwell in the pictures from our trip last week which was magical, blissful and so relaxing.

Today, I share a few of my favorite images from our trip to Minnesota's North Shore. Later, I will post more details about our activities. Please stop again if you have the time!

Thanksgiving evening was spent with wine and jigsaw puzzle.

The Gales of November sent us a storm that got the waves crashing all night long. Although the sun set early, the sound of the waves kept us company and imagining the fury was not difficult.

The day before we had gone on a hike. We climbed Oberg Mountain and view from the top was beautiful.

The view was amazing and yet, I could sit and look at these two all day and be content. They both make me so happy! Even if they do have matching stink eyes.

Another day was spent in Grand Marais where it was sunny, but bitterly cold.

We have taken this trip many times before. This year traveling together as a family made for a very different sort of trip. In so many way, it was so much better as a family. We had many plans and yet managed to be spontaneous. The Baby Lotus Bud slowed us down in the most perfect way.

I can't remember a vacation that I enjoyed more than the one we had last week!

In addition to dwelling in the memories of our trip, I will travel the world today through Communal Global. It warms me to see all the goodness that's out there!

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Through Rain, Sleet, and Snow...

Sounds like we were delivering the mail, right?

We left Minneapolis for our annual Thanksgiving trip up to the North Shore. I say "annual" but this is only the second time. I am certain that we will keep doing this trip every year. There is a great deal on the rooms and the rooms fit our style. This year at Bluefin Bay we got a condo with a bedroom in the back where the Baby Lotus Bud is fast asleep.

Last year we came up here for our Babymoon and this year, we are up here with our little Lotus Bud. Last year we went on a Jeep adventure and hiked up a mountain because the snow hadn't fallen yet. The weather was a bit drizzly and foggy, but that didn't stop us. In fact, it was the sort of day we enjoy.

This year it's going be different. Much different. There is already snow on the ground and it's supposed to continue snowing for the next three days! We are right on Lake Superior and hopefully the Gales of November will make those waves crash hard and loud!

Do you know what the really great thing about this year is?

I GET TO DRINK BEER! Fat Tie Amber Ale is my beer of choice these days.

We left the City in freezing rain. Do you ever watch the Deadliest Catch? Ever watch one of those episode where the ships get caked in ice? That's what the Jeep was like on our way up to Duluth. We had to stop and bust the ice off the windshield and wipers. It looked wicked cool.

Things got better as we got closer to Duluth. The rain had ended, the sleet stopped and all the precip turned to snow. Snow is drivable. Freezing rain and sleet - not so much.

Everyone talks about Betty's Pies, but we had never stopped there except the one time we picked up pasties (to-go). Which is pronounced pass-tees, not pay-sties (like the things some dancers attach to their nipples). Which, but the way, were frozen, which I didn't realize until I bit into one. Doh!

Anyway, so the Lotus Bud needed a break and we needed a break from the white-knuckle driving and the clenching of the grip on the side roll bar and gasping on my part.

Have you heard of Betty's Pies? Does this entice you to make the trek up to Minnesota's North Shore to get some pie?

Apparently the 5 Layer Chocolate is the most popular. The server said that for her today's favorite was Apple Strawberry Crunch. They make them fresh daily and big chunky, fresh fruit go into them. I was a grouch though. I wanted the coconut cream and since I can't have the coconut cream (I can't have any dairy while breastfeeding Lotus Bud), I wasn't going to have any dang pie. So, in other words, we went to Betty's Pies but had no pie. It's 9:30 and I'm sitting here regretting it.

The Lotus Bud enjoyed it because she got some applesauce, on the house (but also because they sort of misplaced our order of fish and chips, and a burger). She was like "oh sweet, applesauce when I'm not expecting it!" And I was like "Oh sweet, the more food she has, the more likely it is that she will nap for the last hour of our trip"!

OK, ready for some snowy shots?

The Jeep.

The highway so pretty with the pine trees and the drifting snow.

The tunnel built right into the rock. I suppose that's what tunnels do.

Finally, six hours later, we arrived.

And Lotus Bud was all cute and happy in front of the fire. She didn't really know what to make of the big jacuzzi tub where she had a bath. That's OK. WE know what to do with it! (Hint, hint. Wink, wink.)

So, here's what I really like about this resort - the kitchen! I'm a gonna cook Thanksgiving dinner in that kitchen. And the cranberry sauce will get made. I'll just have to pick up some more maple syrup - thankfully places around here tap their maples in the spring.

Here's what I love about this kitchen.

The dishwasher! We don't have one down in the City. I am the dishwasher. I really feel like I'm on vacation now.

Well, who's knows what we'll do while we're here. We could check out the snow shoes and walk the rivers (there several in the areas) if the snow gets too deep. Or we might just get snowed in. If that happens, I'm prepared to knit.

Whatever it is, I know it's going to be good!
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Crafting an "N"

The Baby Lotus Bud's name begins with an "N". I haven't decided yet whether I want to put her name out here on the Internet, but I guess I can't hide a letter when I want to share my recent craft project.

Here's the pattern.

I made this very quickly on a Friday night. I had some stuffing leftover from some other toys I had made, so I decided to stuff it. The materials were very inexpensive - just under $10, with enough left for at least four more (but, I'd have to buy a bit more ribbon).

Lotus Bud loves to chew on the tags of her blankets, actually any tag she can get her hands on. I figured she'd like this and she does! Whew. Thank goodness.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Letters to the Baby Lotus Bud: Nine Months

Little Lotus Bud,

You're nine months old. Nine. Months. Old.

When the heck did that happen? Oh, I know, it's been happening for nine months now, but I just can't get over this idea that it's already been nine months since you were born, since you were a wee little babe.

Not that you are still not a wee little babe. You've grown taller, but you haven't put on much weight.

Here are the stats from your last doctor's appointment: weight - 15lbs. 7oz (4%); length - 27 1/4 in (39%); head circumference - 17 in. (27%)

What's all that mean? Well, based on your weight, you are in the 4th percentile which means that 96% of the babies in the world (your age) are bigger than you. Although you don't weigh too much, you are rather tall, and your head circumference seems just right.

I think you are perfect! I just like thinking about the numbers. I like the idea that you were only one third of your current weight when you were born. You've tripled in weight in nine months! I like the idea that you might end up being taller than me and your Daddy! I like everything about you and I wouldn't change a thing.

When I mention the numbers to other people, they respond by telling me that it's "OK" or some such nonsense. I don't think they know I think you are perfect and I don't know how to respond to them without sounding defensive. I'm working on it. I also have to figure out to respond to women who don't have any children but who do have a lot of advise for me, judgemental advise. And, finally there is the need to figure out to talk with other Mamas without instigating comparisons of babies. A friend told me once that when it comes to babies "there is a wide range of average." I'm sticking that logic and hoping that I get better at talking with other Mamas.

Moving on...

We bought you a "new" high chair. It's not exactly new because I picked it up at the thrift store for $10. What a find! I wanted a wooden one and the ones in the stores sell for over $150 dollars. I love this one even though it doesn't have any straps. We make do.

One thing you need to know about your parents, Little Lotus Bud, is that we are loners. We spend the majority of our time alone together and when that got lonely, we decided to have you. But with you in our lives we realize we need to reach out to other parents. I need to hang with other Mamas to get some good Baby talk in with those in the know. I also need to get out of the house. So, this last summer, I gathered a bunch of Mamas I met at yoga class, in the neighborhood and through the Co-op into a group that took regular outings together. This has evolved into a group called the Minneapolis Mamas and now - brace yourself - there are 48 members! We've been getting together twice a month, mostly visiting museums, but there have been some other Outings that were wonderful such as the Minnesota Arboretum and Midtown Global Market.

Here's a couple of shots of you at the Arboretum.

A few of us went to see the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, where you picked up your first cold (more about that later). Nonetheless we had a great time!

We attended a Halloween Party with 13 other babies! And this is where things got a little bit tricky. First of all, you just don't like hanging out with other babies. Put you in a room full of grannys and grandpas, and you are the happiest girl in the city. But, put in with other babies and your annoyance become very apparent.

Arrgghh! Shunkins, as you will surely notice, this letter is so late! You're a busy girl. Not only are we busy on our outings, but you are becoming quite a handful. You're always wanting to do something and often that requires my undivided attention. The daylight savings time change has been wonderful and now you go to sleep a little after 7:00, but I still get nothing done.

Anyway, so back to the last Holiday - Halloween. It was a bit of a dilemma for me. You had a couple of great outfits, but too many for one day. I was happy to dress you up to take you yoga class and then, there was that whole pumpkin patch incident. But, then, I wanted to dress you for that pre-Halloween party with the 13 babies. I finally decided to put you in an Indian outfit, but I don't want you to grow up and think it was strange. Besides, you looked awesome even if it was a cultural outfit. We just didn't get to any Indian events this year and soon you will grow out of this wonderful outfit.

We even put you in some bangles that you found to be endlessly fascinating.

I think we redeemed ourselves by taking you over to your Granny's house. Some of Grandpa's old college buddies were in town for a visit. When I was little like you, I was the only child amongst all of his old buddies, so I became everyone's baby. They were so excited to meet their baby's baby. And they loved the outfit. You were quite the rajkumari. And, you loved hanging out with them so much more than those other babies.

Then, came Halloween night and your Dad was so excited. He carved out some pumpkins. He did this last year when you were in my belly and I gotta tell you - you are going to have a blast with him every year when Halloween rolls around.

We had a great Autumn season with you.

The weather was wonderful for most of November. I took you for a stroll at Silverwood Park and while you slept I meditated by the lake. Then after you woke, you practiced your sitting skills and it was amazing. You are amazing!

One night at the trailer, you did get some chapped cheeks. It's like you got toasted like a marshmallow.

They were such a bright pink and it was adorable. But, I had to take care of it and so I consulted the Minneapolis Mamas and managed to get alternative to petroleum jelly. I won't let it happen again.

The amount of cute clothes and accouterments for babies is ridiculous but I can't resist when you look so good in everything I get you.

So, you got your first cold. So much snot from such a little baby! Then you gave me the cold and finally, your Dad got it. You had your first fever but it wasn't too high, so we let you ride it out and by the next day, it was gone. It must have done it's job because you weren't sick for very long. I got a little depressed thinking I couldn't meet the other Mamas for an Outing, but I talked to a few and they encouraged me to come anyway. Thankfully, you didn't make anyone else sick, but then, I think they all had it before you.

It's cold now and the snow has finally arrived. I can't wait for you to get older so you can understand and enjoy the snow as much as we do! We take you out in it so that you'll get used to it. So far so good! You don't seem to mind very much.

These days you are always tired. I'm working on getting you to nap but you fight it. But when you do nap it is for a couple of hours and that so sweet for me. I really should be getting more things done but I don't.

You started swimming lessons and you seemed to enjoy it, but we may never go back there. The pool was very cold and the locker room was a nightmare! It was a local high school and I tried to think of you spending time there on the swim team but maybe now is not the time. Next week we are all going up to the North Shore and there are two pools at the resort where we are staying. We plan to take you swimming every day and maybe we'll even get some underwater pictures of you. You really like floating on your back which is awesome because apparently most babies don't like that. But, your Dad lets you float on your back in the tub every night so maybe that's why you are used to it. I loved swimming when I was really little, so maybe you got that from me!

So, that's it for now, Little Lotus Bud. I'm going to try to be more punctual with this letter next month.

I love you so much!

From Me, your Mommy.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

28 Days: Conclusion and Lessons Learned

Autumn. It is usually a bright, colorful time of year in Minneapolis and the surrounding region. This year the colors were not so bright due perhaps to the abundance of rain. Most of it was thrown from the trees by hurricane-like winds that swept through towards the end of October.

I find I am alright with that. My project to capture 28 days of season change in Minnesota was perhaps a bit more manageable. I did not feel the anxiety to capture the brilliance of Autumn as I had often felt in years past.

I don't mean to say that this Autumn was any less beautiful this year. Certainly there were many beautiful moments this season:

browns so rich and leathery;

sky blues that made my heart soar;

reds that only nature can create.

I don't mean to criticize at all and I hope that my images reflected how much I cherished and celebrated this season.

And, too, there was a return of innocence and wonder as I observed my daughter marveling at the changes around her. I saw things in a new light as she grasped a bright red leaf, and when her cheeks turned pink in the cool Autumn air, and when she stomped her feet listening to the rustle and crunch of fallen leaves.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a photography discussion where the guest artist and speaker talked about "failed images" (those which I wish I had captured something else than what appeared) as opportunities to learn. I found myself taking notes that evening, jotting questions to ask myself throughout this project and at its conclusion.

What did I learn? How could I have done this differently? How have I changed? Did I reach my goal? How? Why? When? Was it different than I imagined?

I reached my goal, yes, with the conclusion of this project. I stuck with it and captured a full 28 days of season change. I did not however shoot everyday, which was one of my goals. I found this tiresome and near impossible alongside the responsibility of tending a young child. This project took us outside far more than I would have done this Autumn. On each of our hikes and outings, there were many aspects of Autumn that were on display. I made the decision early on that I would not be able to take one image a day and post it. I would shoot once every 3-4 days and hope to get a variety of images to include in the project. I did stay true to the weather in that when the rain came and doused all the firey Autumn colors, I no longer posted images that did not fit what I saw around me, even if it meant letting a favorite image go unpublished. This project was different from how I imagined its unfolding.

I had expected the snow to hit by the end of the project, but it did not. There is very little snow cover in Canada right now and a result, this region's air temperature has been mild. We may be lucky enough to get some snow later this week (and, I do mean lucky because the first snows are always the most magical). I had imagined ending this project with a picture that included snow, but that was not meant to be.

I found myself debating about how to capture the various aspects of Autumn. Do I shoot close-ups? Do I shoot wide landscapes? Do I stick with foliage? Although I captured some lovely images of my daughter, I did not capture any images a the migrating birds traveling southward or the small animals preparing for winter. My images of geese lacked the cacaphonous sounds of their presence. My images of squirrels and chipmunks could not elaborate the fullness of their cheeks and their fattening bellies.

I had imagined coming to a sense of my "photographic style." But I am no closer to that then when I started this project. I learned that I am proud of my composition skills and acknowledging that pushed me to consider different angles. Yet I have not settled on a "look" other than general enhancement of the colors and tones. I don't know if this is important, but it feels necessary to me, to distinguish myself and claim a certain sense of individuality to my work.

Attending that photography discussion eliminated any thoughts of failure. I felt encouraged and focused by the discussion. I wanted to capture the perfect image to end this project, but I finally resolved to the fact that it was the process which counted more so than the ending or completion of the project.

Besides, no picture towards the end came close to what I consider my favorite image of the whole lot. This wildflower, lit by the sun, makes me feel warm and content. I learned that Autumn is not only in the changing leaves, but also in the many flowers that thrive in the cooling temperatures.

One last show, one last moment of beauty before the freeze of winter.

Check all the photographic beauty captured around the world in Communal Global.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

11/6/10 (28)

For the Fall of the year is more than three months bounded by
an equinox and a solstice. It is a summing up without the
finality of year's end.

- Hal Borland

This final image and message concludes my project to capture 28 days of season change here in Minnesota.
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Lotus Bud's New Game

It's called "Watch Mommy retrieve everything I throw on the floor."

It's got to be deliberate. That sassy look in her eye shows there's more going on than just simply dropping toys on the floor.

She drops.

I pick it up.

If I don't pick one up, she stares at it until I do pick it up.

If I just leave them, she gets this look on her face spelling out quite clearly her disdain for my lack of participation in this great game she's created for herself.

So, I grab them and the game starts all over again.

She drops the toy.

I pick it up.

She drops the toy.

Get the idea?

At least someone is having fun.
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