Yarn Along a western road


Guess what?  I won the lottery!!!  Ok, no, I didn’t, something even better happened!  I–at long long last–finished Harmon’s Wee Envelope!  A good deal of car knitting this past Monday & Tuesday did the trick!  I even got the 65 million ends woven in so now all it needs is four buttons & Harmon will be ready for his (month-late) six-month photo session this Saturday with my western bestie Mia!  The hotel I am staying at is literally 50 yards from a yarn shop (how divine is that???!), so hopefully I can find buttons worthy of the ridiculous amount of time it took me to finish this sweater.  As soon as I tied off the last end yesterday afternoon, I cast on immediately for Coralee’s birthday gift (another thing I’m a month behind on)–Storyteller Hoodie in some scrumptious Madelinetosh.  I also continue to read the biography of Rachel Carson this week–I’m roughly halfway through now & just got an email from the library stating the book is due back tomorrow…& I’m out of renewals…story of my literary life!

Joining in with Ginny from the road.

Yarn Along {congrats Ginny!}

I’m not sure if Ginny will post a Yarn Along today or not as she *just* gave birth to beautiful Mae barely a week ago (so head over to her blog & get your newborn photos fix!)…but here’s what’s doing anyway in my knitting life.  I wound the last ball of Q & Co Chickadee in Belize for Harmon’s Wee Envelope.  I’m so close to being done!  I hope I have a finished photo for the blog next week.  I do have a swift somewhere in my house for winding, but I only had like one minute to do this before Harmon got antsy, so seize the moment I did!  (Please ignore the fact that my skin is so translucent white the colorway that is Belize absolutely does match the veins in my legs & elsewhere-yikes! I am a pale pale lady.)

Dill Bed Biologists

Merritt planted a dill bed in our garden about three years ago using Seed Savers Exchange Grandma Einck’s Dill seed & we’ve never had to replant since that summer. Dill is an annual herb, but it is very good at self-propagating! The kids have found Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the plants the last two summers–these caterpillars eat almost exclusively from the carrot family of plants. Finding the first Black Swallowtail caterpillar is a source of immense joy for all three of the older kids. Merritt completed his 4H project this year on the importance of pollinators & focused specifically on including pollinators in your garden plantings using dill, so it was quite important to the kids to be successful in their butterfly rearing this past month. The last of our Black Swallowtail butterflies flew away a few days ago & now the kids are patiently waiting for this first adult batch of the summer to lay their eggs so they can raise another brood. From our research it seems three broods per season in the Midwest is a good year for Black Swallowtails.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Coralee, Merritt, & even June all became scientists, but June does still occasionally tell us she also wants to fly planes.  Time will tell all too soon!


Dill bed.


Free range dill!


Black Swallowtail caterpillar–fourth instar (stage).


Black Swallowtails munching away on dill stalks…& defecating all over my porch!


June LOVES caterpillars, butterflies, moths, lightning bugs, dragonflies…she says she wants “people to know” she wants to help pollinators more than her brother. Merritt & June are the ultimate competitors for some reason.


Black Swallowtail in its chrysalis. The chysalis of the Black Swallowtail caterpillar/butterfly is so strangely shaped.


June doing her “research” . “See mom???”–is her constant refrain.


A Black Swallowtail emerges!


Two at once (female on left)! We took six caterpillars from the dill bed (leaving many behind), one died shortly thereafter, five went into the chrysalis stage, & four emerged.


Male, we think.


Merritt releasing one…they are much harder to handle than Monarch butterflies. Monarchs are fairly easy to handle, these Black Swallowtails are much more active & agitated–they want out ASAP!


Yarn Along {how to try a sweater on a baby}

That’ll do.  I never gauge swatch anyway, but, shhhhhh, don’t tell.

My Wee Envelope.  Still, yes.  Sorry.

Joining in with Ginny.



Harmon woke up almost immediately after taking the above photo yesterday evening (after a full day of hardly napping at all)…he obviously does not want me to finish his woolie sweater in the middle of June.  Smart Hobbit.

Oh, and, yes, Harmon is a boy & he is wearing “girl” pjs.

June’s old pjs to be exact. #ihavealotofkids

The Things We Leave Behind: Father’s Day Musings

I suddenly realized this past week that Harmon looks like my father. My father in turn looks very very much like his own mother, my grandmother Mary Belle. So Harmon also looks like his great-grandmother who would have been 100 years old this July had she lived. While tending to the very basic needs of a six month old baby, your mind sometimes wanders in directions you wish it wouldn’t…you internally fuss at your lack of sleep, your lack of time to yourself, your lack of time in the bathroom, your lack of time to, well, you get the picture. But lately I also find myself looking at my son & seeing my father & then in turn thinking of my Grandmother Darling (Mary Belle, who called everyone “Darlin'” being from South Texas as she was, hence I thought her name was Grandma Darling as a child & the name stuck).  I’ve been wondering what my Grandma Darling and my father were up to when he was a wee boy like Harmon…did my grandmother talk to my dad as she changed his diaper?  Did she sing to him when she was trying to put him to sleep?  Did she bounce him on her knee to get him to laugh like I do with Harmon?  Did she look in his eyes & feel like she would walk off the face of the earth if she had to for her son?  In a way I feel like I’m mothering my father & not in a creepy way…in a good way.  I feel like I’m bringing my grandmother back to life & thinking about her a lot more than I ever would be right now if Harmon hadn’t been born looking so much like my wonderful dad…DNA is a tricky thing…it can give you a hereditary form of cancer, it can make you impatient and worrisome or reflective & watchful or boisterous & loud…& sometimes it can make you look so much like someone from your genetic line it’s a bit eerie…leaving you with tangible memories imprinted on your very body long after the donor is gone…we’re all connected in this big old world, whether we want to be or not, & those ghosts that visit us in our ears, noses, mouths, even jawlines serve as a good reminder of what we all leave behind when we’re gone…glimpses of a mother loving her son in a small blue house on a tree-lined Texas avenue…no one was there to write about it…but Harmon’s face reminds me all the same that we’re all someone’s baby, we all matter to someone…I’m so lucky to have my dad.  He’s a great guy.  A gentleman & a gentle man. He’s given me so much & I am forever grateful for that, Dad.

I love you, Daddy, & Happy Father’s Day!


My father in 1944.


Harmon aged six months, 2016.


Harmon & my father, December 2015.


Merritt, Coralee, Brian, Harmon, June & their Papa B–Father’s Day 2016.

Yarn Along

We are still still still still STILL knitting on the second Wee Envelope in Quince & Co’s Chickadee (colorway Belize). I almost have the second sleeve done & then I know (hope!) the body will fly by & it will be all ready for Harmon to wear…just in time for Iowa’s 90+’F heatwave & practically 100% humidity! Ha!  I’m so on the [knitting] ball around here.

After re-reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring with Coralee this past school year, we both listened to the Science Friday Silent Spring Book Club podcast from the summer of 2012. The author of the Rachel Carson biography On a Farther Shore was interviewed as part of the podcast. I’m only three chapters into William Souder’s bio (reading snippets of it while Harmon nurses to sleep during the day), but I am definitely finding myself fangirling Carson even more now.  Her childhood was tough, but almost seems magical in a way.  I am getting the feeling there was a higher power at play in her life, leading her down all the winding, but purposeful paths to eventually end with the extraordinary feat of writing that is Silent Spring.


Joining in with Ginny (finally! at last! once again!) & not a moment too soon–new baby to arrive shortly!


Harmon was six months on the 1st of June!  I waited to post his six month photos until after his 6-month well child check today.  He weighed 13lbs 8oz on June 1st & today at his appointment he weighed 13lbs 12oz & is 25.5inches long.  His height is hovering just below the 5th percentile for breastfed babies & his weight is under the 1st percentile.  During the last two months I have fretted & worried non-stop about his weight.  I’ve taken him to the lactation clinic multiple times and tried all sorts of ways to try to get him to eat more (& thus gain weight faster)…but, basically, it all boils down to Harmon is just a small person!  He also has a dairy/soy intolerance.  It’s been about two months since I’ve given up eating any dairy at all & we’ve noticed a marked change in his personality, sleeping habits, and gut issues.  His poos are no longer green!  His eczema isn’t raging red!  Life is good!  But, boy oh boy, do I ever miss dairy…I’m a total cliche…I’m from Wisconsin & my favorite food is cheese!  This no-dairy diet, however, sure is good for weight loss.  I’ve never dropped so much weight so quickly in my life.  (I’m fairly certain I’ve blogged about this before, haven’t I??)His hair is getting thicker, but it’s still mostly fuzz.  Sometimes it looks blonde-red & other times a very light brown.


We visited the butterfly house at Reiman Gardens in Ames last month as part of June’s birthday gift (June LOVES butterflies!).  I think Harmon was watching the butterflies flit past him in the carrier a few times!

June continues to love her brother “so much” & often a little too much…but Harmon seems to tolerate her antics better every day.

Harmon has been my helper at the nature center in Buchanan County several times now.  He’s a very well behaved volunteer.🙂
In the morning from about 4AM until 7ish he fusses in his sleep a lot & has to be rocked, bounced, nursed, etc to get those last few hours of sleep in, sleep we both need.We’ve taken to calling him our “Hobbit” due to his small size.  He is so very tiny!  And so cute!  Coralee, Merritt, & I all finished reading The Hobbit recently & watched the Peter Jackson trilogy, so we were mostly influenced in that regard with his new nickname.  We also call him Harmie, Harmonica, HARmione (like Hermione), Little Man, & Little Jerry (he looks like my dad sometimes, we think).We visited the local ER on Memorial Day weekend for what I thought was a choking incident.  I had Brian call 911 as I was convinced he was choking on something (a toy?)–he quit breathing, he was gagging, it was all incredibly scary!  The EMTs checked him out & felt it was not an emergency situation (the incident that prompted me to yell at Brian to call 911 only lasted like ten seconds), but that we should have an X-ray done to rule out anything being swallowed.  Nothing showed up on the X-ray save for a lot of gas…the on-call doctor kept commenting on how much gas he had in his stomach & that she could hear it with her stethoscope, too.  I believe Harmon does have some issues with acid bubbling up & since the non-choking choking incident he has done this no-breathing/gagging thing several more times…scares the dickens out of me every time, too.He was in a fairly good mood despite being up way past his 7pm bedtime.  Poor little man!He’s wearing a tee (above) that I wore as a baby from Matagorda, TX.  My dad was born & grew up in Matagorda County.  I hope we get to take Harmon (& June!) to the beach in Matagorda someday.  My older kids ask to go again all the time.Merritt & June have had swimming lessons every morning for the past week in town.  Harmon & I hang out in the car mostly due to the HEAT around here.  A heat index of 100’F is too much for a baby!Harmon & I like to hang out on the back porch in the morning before the other kids wake up.  We listen to the birds & have our coffee & toast with mashed avocado on it.  Harmon has been “eating” little bites of avocado, carrot, & potato for about a week now.  He’s not really into it at all….mostly he spits it out or wipes it all over himself.  His feet in this photo crack me up, for some reason.  Those toes!  He is very good at using both his feet to manipulate toys, actually.  He also continues grabbing things with his left hand much more so than his right.  His right is what we call “the beater”–he hits/bangs/beats on stuff (my back!) with his right hand a lot.  June used to pat people who picked her up on the back, too, like Harmon has started doing to me now.❤❤❤

Harmon has a friend a few miles down the road who was born three weeks after him!  They like to hang out together while his mother & I “knit”…Merritt says we mostly just “yenta” like the mom on the American television show “The Goldbergs.”  He is completely correct, of course, but I will continue to say “I have knitting tonight” at least once a month.😉Sometimes I catch him playing with his feet & cooing in bed in the morning after sleeping in a bit longer than me.  He likes to watch the ceiling fan, too.He looks just like my dad in this photo, I think!

He began sitting up unassisted on June 9th!  Yeah, Harmon!  He also started saying “ba-ba” on June 11th & has been practicing his one & only “word” ever since.June likes to sing to Harmon.  Right now her favorite song is “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles.  When I was pregnant with him she sang “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon to my belly all the time.  We also have found that practically since birth he enjoys listening to “Bad” by Michael Jackson.  If he’s freaking out in the carseat, the kids will blast that song on my iPhone & he usually stops his fit.  He definitely likes music.  He also loves love loves his mama.  He’s a total mama’s boy, no doubt, but is very interested in what is happening around him at all times, too.  Just don’t take him away from his mama!😉

You’re halfway to a year, Harmon Hunter!  Happy Half Birthday!  You keep being you, our little hobbit!