Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beach Day

On Sunday (8/22) we packed up and took Miles to the beach for the first time - finally! We "hiked" in with all our gear to practice taking Miles on a larger backpacking trip in the future, and to build some stamina. We love the little stretch of beach at Saugatuk Dunes State Park and it was the perfect summer day to enjoy the wind and waves.

When we arrived Michael fed Miles his first taste of the carrots grown in our garden. As you can see this little man truly loves to eat!
We were also able to catch some quality time with Theo Dan when he joined us at the lake. It was really special to share such an exciting first for Miles with his uncle.
At eight months old he is sitting up, crawling/scooting about, and interested in everything around him. He was fascinated with the ring-billed gulls as they circled overhead.

Miles takes his first dip in Lake Michigan!

This family loves to spend time together outdoors...and this was the perfect day at the beach!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Family Visits

I have fallen a bit behind on the postings lately, for various reasons. As my friend Vanessa would says, "Things have been a bit hectic." August has gone so fast and I feel so many signs that seem to say we are on the cusp of the seasons. The blue jays seems to squawk frantically as they inspect the oak tree outside perhaps staking territory for future food supplies. The clouds have taken on some of the telling gray fuzziness of fall, and at night there is a distinct coolness billowing in through the windows along with the softening scent of dew.

We have been celebrating the warmth of these precious days of summer by filling them with visits from family. Theo Dan has made his stop in the Midwest before he heads east to Boston. About two weeks ago (8/15) we went for a nice walk through Riverside Park, enjoying the weather and good conversation.

Miles spent some of the walk in Papa's arms sailing up high in the canopy of trees and laughing the entire time.
We also enjoyed a visit from Michael's Thea Connie. Here she is with Papou Jim and Miles lounging on the lawn for a photo shoot.

Connie discovered that Miles loves to bounce and they laughed and laughed together as he jumped up and down on her lap. Something he has continued in her absence, but not as delightful without their hearty giggles of shared glee.

We are as always so thankful for our wonderful family. I still try to appreciate the simple saying I heard long ago that goes something like "Change is the only constant." I know that the seasons will always change and the cycles of life will ebb and flow. Yet in the midst of all this there is also the constant strand of family. Our small family of three is so grateful for the love and support of the larger whole that surrounds us!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baby Food

We are moving right along with the solid foods at our house and I thought I would take a moment to share our journey. When I tell people I have been making baby food for Miles I get mixed reactions... so I want to let you see how easy it really is. The "Bradley Girls" got me hooked on the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. Once I got over the initial shock of the very verbose book that could probably distilled into an informational packet... I found it was a good reference book to help me start making healthy nutritional food for our little man. The other companion guide in our kitchen was a thoughtful gift from Yia Yia Liz. Simply titled Cooking for Baby this book offers fun and simple recipes, like green beans and mint, that begin to broaden baby's food horizons.
We start by grinding either brown rice, millet, barley, or lately oats... and then making a porridge. I make a large batch and then divide it into smaller portions suitable for each meal. This way I can prepare food for a few days at a time.
Next I prepare all the beautiful produce coming from our garden and local farmer's markets this time of year! Each time I harvest or shop I make sure to make at least one large batch of food for Miles to taste and freeze for later. The Super Baby food book has a great section about how to process and store each fruit and vegetable. I also love my "Asparagus to Zucchini" cookbook when I have questions about how to best prepare and preserve a particular fruit or veggie.
Then each batch is frozen in ice cube containers... and stored for later. We finally purchased a much needed freezer for storing our summer's bounty. This year it is quickly filling up with batches of baby food. As you can see the "organizer" in me has created a system to keep track of what I made, and the "use by" date. I am always looking for ways to simplify and streamline a process :-) I wonder if Miles will appreciate that quality, or be totally annoyed by it one day?
For now he seems to appreciate the taste of whole foods. The taste of zucchini and brown rice cereal makes him happy. For that I am happy. He still waits for each bite like a little bird opening his mouth. When the bowl is empty he gets frustrated, even when he has had more than his fill. Perhaps he will be like his mother and simply LOVE food just for the sake of eating and experiencing each new flavor in his mouth. I hope he also gains an appreciation for fresh delicious seasonal food, and learns to cherish the fulfillment of a beautiful meal paired with the fellowship of friends and family. I know that is a tall order for baby food, but we are also building the foundation for a relationship with food around here... along with the sticky fingers and cereal smeared cheeks that come along with learning how to eat.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer's Bounty

This afternoon while he did this...
...I was able to turn this...
...into this!
So rest assured David, Mere, Angela, and Ava (among others) there will be more "Dilly Beans" in your future! Although the kitchen has been HOT HOT HOT lately that has not stopped me from my usual summer canning frenzy. Really is there anything better than the sound of that satisfying ping when you pull hot jars from their bath and the lids seal shut? Perhaps only the pleasure of opening them and basking in summer's bounty during the winter months.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weekend Walk

We enjoyed a lazy summer Sunday (8/8) and made sure that Michael and Miles had some quality time. Our little man loves to eat and this weekend he tried some mango with his brown rice cereal.
Then we went for a walk at Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. We wandered about in the warm and breezy day looking for all fifteen of the Chihuly sculpture locations. It just felt good to be together and enjoy looking at the world through the eyes of a child for a moment. Miles seemed to really like the Citron Green & Red Tower in the English Perennial Garden. The Red Reeds (above) just seemed like part of the landscape to him and did not get much reaction. I wonder what it is like for everything to be new. I guess nothing/or everything seems astounding when you are seeing it all for the first time. Miles did not really react to the glass blown impression of the glowing Summer Sun plopped into a green field (below). In fact he did not seem to think it was anything out of the ordinary, which I found interesting, since most people all day were falling all over themselves to snap pictures. He just looked at it like he expected it to be there. Perhaps that is part of the fun of the sculpture park, it is sort of childlike to turn the corner and see a GIANT horse starting back at you! Sort of dreamlike and surreal if you weren't expecting it.
I do wonder what things will stop him in his tracks one day. Will we wait at every train crossing to perhaps catch a glimpse? Will we wave our arms for every truck driver on the highway to honk the horn? Will we look up at every building hoping to spot Spider-man? Will we peer under every rock, trying to find a family of worms? I can't wait to see the millions of things that he will teach me. Will I suddenly become an expert on birds of prey, finally learn how to play chess, or take up sailing - all to gain a better understanding of my little boy's interests? I really can't wait to see what he will be interested in.
Until then I will continue to show him the things that astound and amaze me. Ever since I was an undergraduate art student I have had an appreciation for the work of Dale Chihuly, and it was really fun to spend the afternoon showing Miles some of his work right here in G-RAP!

Friday, August 6, 2010