Planting Flowers (Finally)

Normally, the moment Mother's Day weekend rolls around I'm armed and ready to plant flowers.

Some years, it's hard for me to wait until Mother's Day, but I try my hardest to follow the rule around these parts that it's best to wait until then to plant.

This year, Mother's Day came and went at our house with nary a flower in sight. (Well, aside from all the perennials I planted in years past that now bloom each year without needing much of anything from me.)

It just seemed wrong to not have the planter box and pots filled with blooms.

Finally, this week I got everything planted.

And just in time for the flowers to languish in temps pushing 100 degrees this weekend. Wait a second. Multiple days of 90-plus-degree weather? This is August, right?

Nope, still May.

Alas, I'm ready to water diligently every day if I have to.

I wouldn't want all these lovely flowers to go to waste—particularly since they were my Mother's Day gift!

I tried some different blooms this year than I have used in years past. They're mixed in with old standbys, of course.

Can you spot the new additions?


Baby Food (Part II)

In case you're wondering: Yes, I make my own baby food.

I doubt that surprises you, given my interest in trying new recipes and gardening and tackling challenges like making mozzarella and canning and the like.

Some of my wonderful friends (who know me too well) got me started at my first baby shower with some fabulous baby food-making books and supplies. Then at another shower I received an entire Baby Bullet set, complete with the food processor and storage containers galore. It wasn't something I had registered for, but I was certainly excited to receive it.
You don't need all that fancy stuff to make baby food. A basic food processor or even blender would work just fine. And honestly, you don't even need recipes. (Although I love cookbooks so am excited to add some baby food ones to my collection!)

Even if it isn't absolutely necessary for making baby food, I have to say the Baby Bullet is handy, handy, handy. I really can whip up a big batch of baby food in no time.
Conservative Hubby, of course, questions whether it's worth all the trouble to make my own food. My answer? Yes. It is. For many reasons.
For starters, when you make your own baby food you can use great, local, fresh ingredients. If you want organic produce, you can use organic. You find the brightest, freshest, bestest (yes, I know it's a made up word) fruits and veggies you like. You can use just-picked buys from the farmer's market or your CSA.
And you know every little thing that goes into that baby food. In other words, you don't have to wonder what preservative or additives have gone in there with the bananas. You don't have to question what some of the strangely worded ingredients on the label really are and why they're necessary.
You also don't have to spend tons of money on all those little ready-made jars, then have all those empty jars to deal with. Aren't these little reusable containers much more fun?

(By the way, lots of storage containers are a must. You don't need to have all these fancy made-for-baby ones. Any sort of small jars or ice cube trays or such would work. Although I would definitely recommend making sure they're BPA free.)
Here's the other thing. When you open a jar of baby food, are you interested in taking a big bite yourself? Are you salivating and thinking, "Man, that looks delicious ... I want some"? Probably not. A lot of that baby food looks rather nasty, actually. But when I open a little container of freshly made apples, it looks just like pureed apple and smells like it (because it is). And, I'll admit, sometimes I'll steal a bite. It's darn good.
One thing I have not yet really sat down to calculate is the price of making your own baby food versus buying it. I'm sure someone out there has done it before. I plan to do it for myself, and when I do I'll let you know.
Is my goal to never, ever have Collin eat any purchased baby food? Nah. I'm sure he will at some point, particularly when we're traveling.

(Although I will tell you it's possible to travel with the homemade stuff—we took some when flying to and from Florida and then I made more food with Not-So Conservative Grandmom's food processor while we were there. Easy.)

Rather, my goal is just to have him eat healthy, fresh food and to eat like we do as much as possible, so that once he moves on to "big people" food he can eat right along with us rather than insisting only on "little kid" foods. I figure exposing him to a wonderful variety of flavors right now is the first step in that process.
Guess we'll see, right?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some pears to puree.

(And yes, we are going to need more freezer space.)


Baby Food (Part 1)

Our little man started eating baby food a while ago. All the books and websites and doctors and random self-proclaimed baby experts disagree on when babies should start eating purees and such.

Some say four months. Some say six. Some say never. OK, not really never, but close.

We went ahead and decided to try rice cereal when Collin seemed like he was ready. That happened to be when he started getting hysterical at daycare when the other babies were fed rice cereal and when he tried to plop his face down in our plates when we were eating. He was about four and a half months at the time.

I figured we'd try a bite or two of rice cereal. If he spit it back out or didn't seem ready, we would wait a few weeks and try again.

Needless to say, that wasn't a concern. He basically grabbed the spoon out of my hand and shoved it in his mouth. He was definitely ready. He even tried to grab the entire container from me. I think he wanted to pour it straight down his throat. (It happened to be Easter Sunday, in case you're keeping a log of these milestones.)

Since then, we've followed the whole "rule" of introducing a new food every four or five days or so. Bananas. Sweet potatoes. Peas. Avocado. Pears. Zucchini. Apples. Oatmeal. We have yet to find a food he doesn't like.
And it's not just that he's likes food. He loves it. He devours four ounces at a meal, twice a day already. (Probably something else the "experts" would pooh-pooh, but whatever. I'll pooh-pooh them right back.) And he wants every last bite. Now. Sometimes I can't shovel it in his mouth fast enough.

I think we have a serious food lover on our hands. He was kind of doomed in that department anyway. I'm sure he'll be a champion snacker, too, like you-know-who.

Snickety Snack II is in the house, people.


Florida Flowers

On our trip to Florida, I spent quite a bit of time relaxing on Conservative Grandparents' back patio.

 I wasn't just relaxing, however. I was busy plotting two things:
1. How to smuggle Not-So-Conservative Grandmom's flowers back to Illinois.
2. How to smuggle one of Not-So-Conservative Grandmom's green thumbs (or both) back to Illinois with the flowers so I could actually keep them alive.
Once I admitted to myself I probably wouldn't succeed on either front, I decided just to enjoy the flowers while I was there.
And snap a million photos of them to gaze at longingly once I returned home.
I mean, really. Can you blame me? Look at these beauties.
I don't really have a lot more to say, but I want to keep posting photos. So bear with me.
Just one more.
 OK. Maybe not.
 Just a few more, I promise. These are too pretty to share.
 You don't have anything better to do, right? I mean, looking at photos of flowers is pretty much the highlight of your day, I'm sure.
 Oh? It's not. OK. Fine. One more and then I'll let you go. 
See? I didn't lie this time. Bye.



A couple of weeks ago, we took our handsome little guy down to Florida to meet his great grandparents.

He was a terrific traveler on the way down and back, charming and chatting up everyone he might on all of his flights and smiling at just the right time at all the TSA agents and flight attendants. One passenger on our first flight, after seeing him in his shades, gave him the nickname "Hollywood." Can't say I blame him. He is a bit Hollywood.

Our trip to Florida ended up being quite an adventure, but the little man took every day in stride. Every time he saw Not-So-Conservative Grandmom or Conservative Granddad, he grinned and grinned and grinned. And for good reason! They're two very special people! (He was also a big fan of their little pooch, Cash, by the way.)
One of the highlights of the trip was taking Collin swimming for the first time.
He loved the water and floating around. Not surprisingly given his propensity for moving nonstop every second of the day, he kicked around like he was ready to take off swimming on his own.
 What an adorable little fishy, yes?



I wish I had the right light to grow one of these.

I wish I had the green thumb to grow as many of them as Not-So Conservative Grandmom.

Or at the very least, I wish I were back in Florida to admire the beautiful orchids she grows.


A New Outlook

I'm sitting here on an absolutely gorgeous Florida evening listening to the calls of the birds and the bugs and the rustle of the trees. I'm watching the clouds in the sky turn the same brilliant pink as the gorgeous, fragrant flowers sitting in pots all around me.

And I'm thinking this: If you had asked me six months ago what my number one priority in life was, I likely would have given you a number of cliche answers. "To be happy." "To live life to the fullest." "To have no regrets." All reasonable, I suppose. All very focused on ME.

Ask me today what my number one priority is and I will tell you loudly, confidently, without hesitating, one of these things. "To be a mother." "My son." "My family."

Ask me again in six months or six years and undoubtedly my answer will be the same.

My, how things change.