Spring Strolls…sometimes in a snowsuit

We were taking many spring strolls up until about a week ago…when the spring weather suddenly took a turn backwards & has been trying to reenter winter.  No snow, thank goodness, but it’s been too cold, much too WINDY, too rainy, too too yucky.  Uploading these photos this morning is making me miss spring…in May.

Weird Iowa/Midwest/Middle Lands weather is all I can say.

Harmon found a stick on this pre-Earth Day hike that he & I took one afternoon during the week before second naptime.  I found this picture-perfect patch of purple violets growing down by our creek under a still-dormant walnut tree.  Spirits were instantly lifted.  Made me very much appreciate my muddy slice of Iowa heaven…I reminded myself not every part of our property is covered in mud or chicken poo. 😉

The perfect capture!

Baby-bombed!

Hobbit hiking.

June, Harmon, & I took a separate hike one day after school while everyone else was at Coralee’s soccer game.

Mom, enough photos!

It was absolutely NOT cold enough for a snowsuit during this hike!  Harmon, however, is in love with his snowsuit & thinks if we put him in it he will automatically be allowed outside.  Snowsuit=outside time.  Smart one, that hobbit!

I hope we’re strolling into a stretch of better spring weather this week…no snowsuits required.

How’s the spring weather on your patch of earth?

Harmon’s Favorite Things: 14 Months 

Another edition!  Another month gone…

a) Harmon is still very VERY much a musical little guy.  He likes playing Coralee & Merritt’s old school recorders (walks around the house tooting away), but I couldn’t locate either recorder for the photo so I used an old loon call of mine from when I was a kid–he likes this, too.

b) These are June’s socks.   Since the beginning of the school year Harmon has enjoyed swiping June’s socks off the floor as she gets dressed in her pants/shirt…it’s become a fun game between the two of them made all the more entertaining now that he can walk!  Suffice to say, June wastes a lot of precious time in the mornings sometimes with her baby brother & her socks…

c) Harmonica!  Harmon continues his love affair with this instrument.

d) “A Day at the Beach” is a book my Grandma Darling (paternal grandmother from Texas) gave me when I was a toddler/preschooler.  Harmon found it on the bookshelf & has decided it is his favorite book at the moment.  He doesn’t really want us to read it to him, he just likes to carry it around & occasionally sit down to flip through it.  He has also thrown it in the bathtub…not cool, little man!

e) Used dryer sheets…I do not get this obsession, but it continues this month.

f) My knitting notions bag–he loves emptying this bag so much he was swiping it off the bed as I took the photo!  He especially likes to unravel the knitting tape measure & drag it around like a puppy on a leash.

g) Brushes.  He loves to brush his hair.  He will use anything to do so, but we try to promote using the actual tool for the job.

h) A PLAN toys pull-along dog.  For a few days recently he was very much infatuated with this toy–not pulling it, just playing with it and pushing it.  He’s lost interest now.

i) Real shoes!  Harmon finally needs a real pair of shoes for leaving the house & he very much enjoys it when we put the shoes on his feet.  Hope it lasts!  He has TINY feet, however, & I had a little trouble finding non-crib shoes for his mini feet.  Went back to my old standby for baby shoes–pediped.  Merritt wore this brand as a toddler, too.

j) Coralee’s knit cat ‘Bubbles’–both Coralee & Merritt have one of these large knit cats.  Harmon likes hugging both & dragging around the house.

k) Doll teepee.  This is June’s toy to go along with her Native American wooden dolls.  It has a handle on top & Harmon likes to carry it around, kind of like it’s his purse.

l) Balls of all kinds, but especially golf balls.

m) Old school “My Little Pony” combs remain a favorite.

n) Wild Kratts!  Well, the theme song to [PBS show] “Wild Kratts”–he dances & shakes his torso whenever he hears the theme play.  He carries the DVD cases around & says “Wha wha.”  His siblings LOVE this show more than probably any other show & Coralee’s 14.5!  Merritt’s almost 12!  Science never gets boring, thank goodness. 🙂

He fell asleep in his carseat once clutching one of his recorders.Pardon the poor quality photo [this post is full of these, unfortunately]–more recorder love!Dryer sheet love.

img_8349

This is embarrassing to admit…Harmon is ridiculously obsessed with chips.  Ugh!  His dad is sort of a chip-aholic.  We don’t eat chips everyday or anything like that, but Harmon has developed a very bad habit of wanting chips.  If we’re shopping & he sees a bag on the conveyor belt, he goes nuts reaching for the bag, whining, etc.  He still only has one tooth so the only way he ever gets chips is if I chew one up for him first.  Needless to say, chips are no longer making an appearance at any of our meals & no one is allowed to eat chips when Harmon is awake anymore.  He was kissing the bag in the above photo.

He loves being in our master bathroom, even in the dark.  I think he likes throwing things in the empty tub & shutting the door mostly…he also likes to play in the hanging cloth diaper bag (yuck!) & in the trash bin.  We’ve moved the trash now due to him emptying the contents into the tub one afternoon.  He thought it was very funny!

Balls are very entertaining.

img_83551I included these photos to show him with the doll teepee, but I snapped the photos because the ribbed waist of his Balloon Baby Pants had gotten so stretched out one day that it just fell down!  He couldn’t figure out what was going on, it was hilarious.  He finally just took the silly pants off.

img_83541

img_83071I couldn’t end with those crazy pants-falling-down photos so I just threw in this napping photo.  He is taking a longer nap now (HOORAY!), but still taking one in the morning & again in the afternoon.

Other new things this month include learning to give “kisses” or “smooches” & saying “muah!” when he does so–it’s adorable!  Coralee taught him the “muah!” part. He also walks around with his arms stretched out to the sides when he wants a hug or to be picked up.  He walks quite well, but no running yet.

He can say mama, dada, wow, bye (he said that for the first time today!), and he makes the cock-a-doodle-do sound when he sees a chicken out the back porch windows or hears one of our roosters crowing.  When he wants something he smacks his mouth–this has meant “I want that” for several months running now.  It used to just mean he wanted to nurse, but now it’s a general “give me that”!  He babbles constantly at home.  He’s quite shy when we’re out & about, but hollers loudly unabashedly if he wants something.

Meal time is still incredibly tricky due to his dairy allergy (we think it’s an allergy at this point–I still mean to blog about it) & his one lousy tooth!  He needs some teeth!  A second bottom one is in the works, but as Brian pointed out last week, he needs some on top, too, if he’s going to chew better.  I’m sure it will happen soon & then I’ll miss his gummy smile.

We have a very VERY bad problem with boxelder bugs in the house this winter & Harmon has decided finding one crawling on the floor is a real “treat” & tries to eat the buggers–GROSS, I know!  And probably dangerous.  I have to be very vigilant.  I spend five minutes or more every morning looking for bugs on the floors & subsequently squash them or pitch ’em back outside into the cold.  I hate those things.

~ ~ ~

Happy 14 Months, Harmon Hunter!

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!

IMG_5041

Dill bed.

IMG_5042

Free range dill!

IMG_5044[1]

Black Swallowtail caterpillar–fourth instar (stage).

IMG_5043[1]

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

IMG_5045[1]

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.

IMG_5039[1]

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

IMG_5155[1]

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

IMG_5057[1]

A Black Swallowtail emerges!

IMG_5105

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.

IMG_5156[1]

Male, we think.

IMG_5058[1]

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!

IMG_5038[1]

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.

Epilogue

IMG_5071[1]

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!

IMG_5020[1]

My father in 1944.

IMG_5021[1]

Harmon aged six months, 2016.

IMG_1185[1]

Harmon & my father, December 2015.

IMG_5018[1]

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

Halfway!

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!

Field of Broken Dreams

All winter long and well into the spring of this year, we’ve been lucky enough to observe a large group of turkeys around our property–two adult females & their offspring, roughly eleven birds in total. They’ve been in our front yard, in the alfalfa field to our north, gobbling in the woods to our south & east, out on the driveway & down on the main road. Such a treat! We even witnessed an impressive courtship display play out just beyond our front windows on the lawn by three tom turkeys for an audience of extremely uninterested hens.

This past Wednesday, after walking with the girls & Harmon to pick up Merritt from the bus, we all headed back into the recently-cut alfalfa field for a hike. We saw a crazy amount of birds including Barn Swallows, Dickcissels, Red-winged Blackbirds, Crows, Kildeer, Vultures, even a Cooper’s Hawk overhead. As the kids were taking off across the field after a Kildeer, they stumbled upon a turkey nest decimated by both the tractor that had cut the alfalfa & area scavengers who took care of most of the hen’s body (all that was left were her feet) & probably the contents of the broken eggs. So many feelings bubbled up, ranging from thankfulness for the farmer who leases the land that he chose to plant alfalfa & not the typical corn (which provides ZERO habitat for much of anything in the Midwest) to pure anger that this hen was only trying to raise her brood in what appeared to be a hospitable habitat among the acres & acres & ACRES of corn around here, only to have her efforts (& her life) pulverized in an instant.
IMG_4539[1]

IMG_4462[1]Merritt made a spear with thorns from a tree.
IMG_4547[1]Stumbling upon the nest site.IMG_4541[1]

IMG_4544[1]

IMG_4540[1]Coralee counted at least seven eggs in various fractured stages.

IMG_4543[1]So many beautiful feathers doth a seemingly plain turkey harbor.
IMG_4542[1]June was quite sad about the whole situation as she has loved spotting the turkeys from our windows.IMG_4545[1]We left the feathers, by the way; it is illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to collect feathers.  On Friday the farmer baled the alfalfa–the feathers, feet, & nest contents were bound up into future cattle feed.  Makes me wonder what else ends up in those bales…

IMG_4538[1]We are in Iowa so I think it’s fitting to title this photo Field of Dreams.IMG_4546[1]Harmon snoozed through the entire hike.IMG_4548[1]It was a great hike, broken dreams & all.