Edmond at 7 months.

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Our sweet boy turned 7 months on Sunday.

At 7 months, Edmond crawls, pulls himself to standing, and has a love/hate relationship with his walker (which he moves forward in about 1/4 of the time).

He babbles constantly, loves wrinkling up his nose when he smiles, and screeches when very excited or very upset.

He loves all foods (except avocado). We more or less gave up on baby-led weaning, although Edmond still self-feeds with a loaded spoon, and we try to give him as many semi-solids as we feel comfortable with.

Edmond’s favorite book is Bear Snores On, and with or without the pictures, if he hears it he will grow super attentive and listen to the whole story. Really, all you have to say is, “bear” and he grows so interested.

With Jonathan in Guatemala this last month, Edmond underwent a major sleep regression and now seems only satisfied when sleeping with his mama. That said, we at long last took the bassinet out of our room and he now sleeps around a half of the night in his own crib.

He loves Minette, swinging, and swimming.

While Jonathan was in Guatemala, we stayed with my parents and it was so much fun to see them in grandparent-mode full-time. They were so generous with their time and resources while Jonathan was away — we’re so grateful.

In the last month, he went to Michigan, East Tennessee, and Sewanee. He has gotten to see all of his great-grandparents in the last month, and got to spend some very sweet time with my Nana for a quiet and sweet weekend at her house. He has met much of his extended family at reunions and here in town. He celebrated his first 4th of July, and went swimming in a pool for the first time. He slept through his first movie at the theater.

Jonathan and I love him so much. Having a baby is harder than anyone can prepare you for, but it is sweeter and more magical than you can imagine too. At every age, Edmond has gotten more and more fun (but that didn’t keep me from balling this morning when I put more of his little baby clothes in storage).

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for even more photos, you can visit instagram.com/jonathan_and_rebecca

the last three weeks.

After previously having spent less than 24 hours apart as a married couple (shocking, yes!?), Jonathan and I recently spent 3 weeks apart while he studied in Guatemala in conjunction with his Masters. 

 Needless to say, our last 3 weeks looked pretty different. 

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Hopefully, when Jonathan has some spare time and isn’t too busy job-searching or baby-gazing, he’ll be able to post all about his adventures away. In the mean time, words can’t express how happy Edmond and I are to have our main man back safe and sound. 

We celebrated this week with a good-ole Father-versary (since Jonathan missed our anniversary and his first ever father’s day while he was gone). 

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Edmond at 6 months.

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Edmond turned 6 months old (a whole half a year, what?!?!) on Friday.

He is getting to be so much fun. He can essentially crawl at this point – it’s a bit of an army crawl but every day he adds momentum. He can sit up for brief periods of time, and does a pretty good job of catching himself rather than just toppling over. He loves to stand and bounce. He is babbling a ton: baba, papa, some ‘fa’s, ‘tha’s, and ‘da’s, as well as the occasional ‘mama.’ He loves bananas, but makes completely grossed out faces when eating broccoli, eggs, or carrots. Starting today, he’ll be eating a little bit of “real food” at each meal. This morning he used a loaded spoon to eat cereal, and he enjoyed that a ton (and didn’t make too big a mess). He has two very wee front bottom teeth.

In his six month, Edmond has been to the beach, to Sewanee, and to Detroit, MI. And, he has now met all of his living great-grandparents, after celebrating his great-grandmother’s 90th birthday! He has now also met all of his great-aunts and great-uncles. He was able to attend several wedding festivities and was pretty well-behaved: he was our date to Wil and Elisa’s cocktail party the day before their wedding in Sewanee, and also attended Daniel & Jordan’s rehearsal dinner and wedding. He also got to spend some great time with Hanna Moran!

Edmond is getting to be such a snuggle bug. When he’s not crazy hyper and rolling about, he has started touching faces lovingly, cooing at them, and yesterday I think he pulled me in to our first true hug (although before that he was still draping his arm around our shoulders so lovingly). He reaches to be held by people he loves, flirts with strangers, and scrunches up his nose and squints his eyes for smiles and laughs that make my heart melt.  He is attentive when read to, loves nursery rhymes and songs, and can play a mean bongo drum.

We love him so much, and are so proud of the little tot he’s becoming. I cannot believe all the ways he’s changed already, and am so excited for all the adventures that lay in store for him and our little family.

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As an aside, as of 6 months postpartum I am finally down to my pre-birth weight! Thanks, breast-feeding!

Kicking off the summer right!

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Summer is off to such a good start. We just returned from an unbelievably relaxing and happy trip to the beach. It was planned in its entirety two days before we left, and it still managed to be such a welcome experience. I love my family so much, and seeing them with Edmond is a perpetual blessing. Plus, Edmond managed to get so much more chatty and babbly and adorable on the trip, and spent tons of time trying to crawl, scooting, rolling, and rocking on all fours. He is getting to be so much fun.

Some pictures were taken by Joe.

 

Y’all come: What the South Gets Right

 

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I love the South. As a liberal college graduate who knows our global reputation well, it’s something I state with a mixture of defiance and sheepishness, pride and shame.

Everyone knows the faults of the South. Racism, obesity, illiteracy: the South is the nation’s “leader” in nearly every undesirable category. As stereotypes go, the South is peopled by homophobic hillbillies wearing rebel flag t-shirts and thumping their Bibles.

So I get what’s wrong with the South. Truly.

But there are certain things the South gets right, and these are the reasons I love the South and am not leaving it for a more perfect elsewhere. These are the reasons I work to make the South I live in a better place.

And I think it starts with these two words: y’all come.

Y’all is arguably my favorite word. You all. Or there is even the wildly colloquial “all a y’all.” It signals an immediate fellowship, an implicit community made up of anyone present and within ear shot.

And then there’s come. It is a call of welcome, of entry into this community.

In the South, you’ll see it on yard sale signs. I use it in birthday invitations, or invitations to a potluck, or advertisements to some music gig I’m playing. And I mean it: all of you, be welcome and come.

See, Southern Hospitality is alive and well as far as I can tell, and it is one of a few things the South gets right. Perhaps this is due to our religiosity, or perhaps it’s the warm weather that for decades forced us out of sweltering homes and into the yards of our neighbors.  But it has been my own experience that Southerners are more apt to greet strangers on the street, strike up conversations in the check-out line, make eye contact and smile as we pass one another.

I’ve heard complaints from Northern friends or from foreigners that much of a Southerner’s kindness is a show, a facade of insincere warmth. Heck. This might be true. In my experience, we do have problems with being frank, and I am pretty easily taken aback by others’ bluntness. The phrase “bless their hearts” is often tacked on to the end of a conversation to excuse some egregious gossiping, and sure that seems disingenuous.

But when I invite a stranger or acquaintance into my home, maybe one I feel I might be predisposed not to like, it’s not insincere. It’s an effort. It’s a hope: “I might not know you yet, but come on and I bet you prove to me there are things to like about you.” In this way, Southern warmth and hospitality isn’t fake; it’s a place holder. I’ll pretend to like you until I truly do.

I have my Southern Hospitality to thank for many relationships with people I didn’t think I would like. Where my own persnickety self would have kept me from fellowship with an acquaintance, “y’all come” – in some way or another – put me with them, and I learned how first impressions can be false ones, or how some people are lovable even if not immediately likable.

So that’s one thing the South gets right, and it’s omnipresent. It’s in our architecture: large front porches, big enough for neighbors to stop by and sit a spell. It’s in our traditional cuisine: filling and simple and able to feed a crowd.  It’s in our music: easily singable, perfect for harmonizing, best if sung by many.

And its evident in our families. Southern families, in my personal experience, are more apt to be tight-knit and loyal. My son will grow up knowing his second cousins once removed, his great aunts, his third cousins. We stay in touch, even when separated by great distance. We like each other. We know each other well.

Then there’s this other part the South gets right, and it is less tangible, and still somehow more personal. There’s a wildness to the South I love, and it feeds a wildness of the spirit too. In the South, our streams, our woods, our waterfalls, they’re well-loved and well-used. Perhaps I’m speaking only as the daughter of a land conservationist, but the spirit of the Southern woods feels vibrantly alive to me, as if the natural world about us were whispering to us all and saying (trite, yes): “Y’all come.” And in Tennessee, it’s beckoning you to arguably the prettiest mountains and waterfalls and rivers anywhere.

Do these Southern merits make up for its racism, past and present, or its failure to keep up with the rest of the nation on things like social spending? Absolutely not.

But they are a start, and it is my hope that the same hospitality the South has long embraced will help it to become an inclusive home for those too-long disenfranchised and abused. It is my hope that in a South where family matters so much, our children and our poor will one day be championed by our wealthy. It is my hope that our love of our Southern land will enable us to become environmental leaders as our Earth and all its beauty becomes more threatened by climate change.

So in the same way a stranger can prove himself lovable, I’m hoping with the South, that it is more capable of change than I knew, and that it becomes the best it can be.

Y’all come.

Edmond at 5 months.

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I really cannot believe it, but Edmond turns 5 months old today! There are no words for how much we love this little one. At 5 months, Edmond laughs a ton, rolls over in the blink of an eye, scoots himself across the floor, bounces whenever he’s held upright, stands whenever given the chance to sit, babbles, screams, coos, and grunts, and is generally the squirmiest little bundle of energy around. Thank goodness for nursing or he might not ever be still!

He has had a very full fifth month. We spend almost every morning outside on the front porch with him. After I’m done with my coffee, Jonathan and I walk around the yard, checking up on our newly planted trees and shrubs, making plans for the future, and gathering eggs from our hens. Edmond loves being outside, and is agog at all the green around him. No wonder — having been born mid- December I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought life only consisted of the inside of houses backed by grey skies!

We’ve gone to Earth Day, and wedding showers, and a neighborhood festival. Edmond’s had his first visit from the Easter Bunny and Sunday, for my first Mother’s Day, Edmond took me and my mom to the lake where he got to splash about a bit.

Below are a few more specifics about this crazy adventure we’re on called Parenthood.

Breastfeeding Update

Five months in and we’re going strong! Up until yesterday, when Edmond tried his first food, his only source of sustenance ever had been me! It’s crazy to think that my body provided enough for him to grow as long and strong as he is. Breastfeeding was so challenging in the beginning. It took forever and Edmond was such a slow eater and I had so much pain. I honestly am so understanding of women who switch to formula because dang! it’s not easy to breastfeed and if you have any postpartum depression I can see how being treated as a human pacifier would make it a lot worse.  That being said, I’m so glad we stuck with it because it is currently  one of my favorite parts of being a parent. I love having to slow down and spend that time with him, and I’ve become a pro and will nurse holding him as I walk around the yard, or while on hikes with him in the Ergo.

Baby Led Weaning

Yesterday, we began the oh-so-scary-but-exciting process of “baby led weaning,” which is a non-traditional weaning method in which babies get to explore food and self-lead the weaning process. Essentially, this means we are skipping the puree part of baby food in which Jonathan and I would feed Edmond, and are starting out with foods that he can feed himself. Edmond’s first food was egg yolk from our very own happy organic-grain-fed chickens, and he was such a champ! We pre-loaded the spoon and he was so quick to put it in his mouth. It was absolutely amazing to witness. We’ll see how it goes, but so far I have the feeling it will be a great experience.

Baby Wearing

We still do this quite a bit, and especially now that Edmond is starting to be able to sit up at high chairs at restaurants it’s gotten easier to get by without  a fancy stroller/car seat combo. We do have an umbrella stroller we use from time to time and I soooo prefer carrying Edmond. He is always so happy and wide-eyed when carried, and I love the built-in snuggle factor.

Attachment Parenting

Without really meaning to be, Jonathan and I definitely fall into the category of attachment parents. We try never to let Edmond cry (he wails in the car but there’s no fixing that, apparently), still do command breastfeeding, and haven’t really been able to do sleep scheduling. While Edmond’s lack of reliable napping is frustrating, he does sleep 12 hours at night, goes to bed with relative ease, and only wakes up for one (occasionally two) night time feedings. Honestly, this has everything to do with the fact that we just can’t handle him crying. It breaks my heart.

Screen Time

To date, Edmond has watched almost no television. At most, he’s seen it on while at his grand parents’ house as they watch the news. I realize that when we get ready to have a second child it probably won’t be possible for us to raise him/her the same way, but for now I feel like it’s been a really positive experience for us.

Church

After a years-long hiatus from church, Jonathan and I decided it was time to get the munchkin and ourselves back into the habit. We’ve begun attending St. Augustin, are loving it, and are super excited to raise Edmond there. He is an absolute champ in services, and I love that during communion he receives a sweet blessing from the priest. Episcopalianism, here we come!

Generally, parenting strikes me as an incredibly exhausting but magical experience. We love getting to watch Edmond discover the world and his own capabilities. Waking up with him in the morning feels like Christmas. I get teary-eyed almost daily over how much I love the little guy, and how blessed I feel to be his mom. He is one heck of a five-month-old, and I can’t wait to see all this wide world has in store for him. IMG_4732 IMG_4736 IMG_4739 IMG_4765 IMG_4766 IMG_4767 IMG_4768 IMG_4772 IMG_4774 IMG_4775 IMG_4776 IMG_4777

twenty weeks.

On Friday, Edmond hit 20 weeks old. it’s so hard for me to wrap my head around, because it seems just a blink of an eye ago that I was:

 

40 weeks pregnant:

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20 weeks pregnant:

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19.5 weeks pregnant:

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Life goes so quickly, and we are loving every second with our little 20-week-old.

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fulfilled.

I was going to write a post about how busy we’ve been lately – and we’ve been keeping super busy – but then I realized that it’s more than that. Life has been super full lately, and I think I’m starting to get the meaning behind the world fulfilled. Life is filled will full-ness. It is bursting with love, baby laughter, front porch mornings with coffee and tea, family, friends. On at least a daily basis, I get teary-eyed thinking about how much I love my baby, my husband, this life. So in lieu of a longer post, I’m just going to catch up on some recent photos, from Earth Day, a house party for Jonathan’s Vandy department, Edmond’s first Easter, a trip to Sewanee to see Joey play (it was fantastic!), and other miscellaneous moments from this miraculous trip called life.

 

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First Annual Poison Party

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all. – E. O. Wilson 

This Good Friday, we did the Earth a solid and had a “poison party” where we poisoned all of the exotic invasives in our yard.

For whatever reason, it seems that in an era where environmentally friendly movements are gaining momentum, the cause of the native plant has been a little neglected. So here’s the deal: exotic invasive plants = bad, native plants = good.

Exotic invasive plants have no natural predators. Fewer insects and birds eat them and depend on them. Native fauna did not evolve to co-exist with them, and therefore don’t get as much from them.

Meanwhile, native plants are adapted over centuries to sustain the insects, birds, and other critters of their specific habitats. They promote biodiversity.

Similarly, because exotic invasives evolved to grow elsewhere, they are often CRAZY receptive to non-native habitats and can propagate like mad. Meanwhile, natives evolved to grow here, and often are slower growing, especially when they are being inched out by their non-native competition.

In the grand battle between natives and invasives, invasives are winning. If you let an empty lot grow up wild, it will fill in with privet and honey suckle and tree of heaven — all non-native. If you’re lucky, you might find one native plant for every 10 invasives. Take this pattern to the inth degree and we’ll have a planet with a marked scarcity of variety.

And in general, consumers remain unaware of the battle. You can even buy invasives in Home Depot.

What kills me is that there are beautiful native plants that could fulfill all of the same functions that privet and honeysuckle and ivy play in our landscaping. There are so many beautiful Tennessee plants that we could be (read: should be) cultivating.

So, now that Jonathan and I are masters of a little less than a half acre of Tennessee ground (not to mention the additional half acre my parents own next door), we’re determined to get the exotics out of our yard and replant with natives.

On Friday, we invited as many weird, random people as we could think of that might be as excited as we are about this issue to come over and help us get rid of some of our privet, honey suckle, and tree of heaven: our First Annual Poison Party. Not surprisingly, “come help us do yard work!” was not a terribly inviting offer (although we had a great time with several drop-bys who couldn’t come to work but whose company we did get to enjoy: Tara, Becca, Rachael, Emi and baby Birdie – we loved seeing you!).

We did get two recruits though! Emily Ezell and her sister Katie came and stayed for several hours helping us clear our back yard. And my mom also came to watch Edmond. So it did end up being a team effort!

For those of you wanting to clear your yard with your very own Poison Party, here’s what you do:

1. Identify the exotic invasive.

2. Cut the exotic invasive close to the roots.

3. Poison the remaining plant by painting concentrated round-up on the exposed inner stalk. (This is preferable to spraying, as that seeps more fully into ground water).

4. Repeat. Ad nauseam.

THEN (and here’s the fun part)

5. Plant your yard with natives. There are so many lovely ones to choose from.

In the last couple of weeks, we have planted blue bells, a blueberry bush, native hydrangea, a river birch, a Virginia pine, and a redbud.

And as we cleared out the privet and honey suckle, we found a few gems. A sourwood and a walnut had both managed to hide out in some underbush, and I can’t tell you how excited I am that now they have a fighting chance.

Below are some borrowed images of some native Tennessee plants to tempt you all, as well as some other resources for those interested in ridding their yards of pesky invasives.

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Discover: The Truth About Invasive Species

Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health

Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council

TEPPC Guide to Landscaping with Natives

3 years.

This blog is 3 years old.

It’s gone from a way to document wedding planning (sort of) and graduation, to a travel blog, to a home improvement/journal blog, to a pregnancy blog, to a BABY blog.

For me, looking back at old blog posts is like being able to take a step back in time. Already, so many parts of the last 3 years seem like a blur: it’s only been 4 months but already pregnancy almost feels like it never happened. And don’t even get me started on our time in France! I can’t believe it happened or that it’s been so long since it happened…if that makes sense…

Anyway, cheers to you little blog! It’s been real.

 

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