food!

oh lovely food…  Spring has finally arrived, and it is my favorite time of the year to shop for local food.  The farmers market is full of baby greens, flowers, swiss chard, broccoli rabe, young kale and a variety of lettuces… fresh cheeses aged through the winter, and meats from our local farms… I am excited about the cooking season and thought I would put together a photo blog of some of my creations and my favorite ingredients to add on to as the season progresses.  Soon it will be heirloom tomatoes (my favorite), onions, garlic and potatoes..pumpkins, squash… and then another winter will be upon us..

Enjoy the season, happy cooking!

~click on a picture to scroll through each image…

2 months….


So it was true, what everybody said… that our lives would be flipped upside down and inside out… sleep has become a long-lost friend that I once knew so well, and the hours of each day seem to pass by so much faster now.  Hard to believe that two months have come and gone since Miles made his arrival into our lives.

Perhaps time seems to disappear so quickly now because of the countless hours spent just staring at him, completely lost in his gaze, wondering a million things to wonder about… what he might be thinking, what his life will be like, the things that I cannot wait to teach him about, the first time he says mom, worrying if he is comfortable, worrying if I’m doing it right…

Tomorrow… I go back to work, and again, I will need to readjust to a new routine. After 30 weeks off… it will be a LONG day I am sure.

These last two months have been precious, spent mostly in my bedroom….singing and rocking a sweet little baby, nursing, sleeping, and dreaming.

Thought I would put together a photo blog of this time, the first two months of Miles’ and our life together… before the reality of a day job comes back into light.

And here we Three be, Miles’s birth story

Given a week now to reflect upon the last nine months and the grand finale of pregnancy… the birth… I still come up unsure as to how I should describe it with as grand an account as the actual event was.

Giving birth is indescribable to anyone who has not experienced it. I also think each woman’s experience is unique, different from all the rest.

Here is mine~

In the four days after my official “due date” had passed, I found myself in a deeply profound place of constant worry.  I was desperate to go into labor naturally, on my own, to avoid the medical cascade of intervention birth.  I had been down that road before with nothing but unfortunate results.

Going past the 40 week mark was never part of “my plan” for this pregnancy~ I tried everything to get my labor started~ acupuncture, moxa, herbs & teas, walking up hills, spicy food, relaxation… But nothing was working and I was starting to feel the pressure from others and myself to begin considering an induction or even scheduling a c-section.

It is crazy how quickly we can lose trust in ourselves and in nature.

On the second morning of being over my due date, staring out of my window, thinking about the past and the unfolding future, I realized that it was time to say goodbye to some old attachments.  In a small box, I placed his picture, a tiny hospital newborn hat that he wore, a letter I wrote to him, and finally, some of his ashes. I walked out into the woods behind my house until I came to a spot that felt right. There, stood a big hollowed out tree, surrounded by moss, on a hillside overlooking the river that runs beside my house. As I stood there, by myself among the trees, reading out loud the letter that I had written, the air became noticeably still and I felt calm. A goodbye, and a promise to never forget, to continue carrying him by the strength he instilled, impossible to ever truly die. I Buried that box there beneath the hollow tree and spread the rest of his ashes onto the forest floor. I had held onto those ashes for 8 years.

The following morning, I was woken by the subtle surging of cramps in my belly. I had an afternoon appointment with my midwife, so we decided to wait until then to find out if this was actually labor. By the time we left the house, the surges were coming every 10 minutes, strong enough at times that I had to focus on my breathing to get through them, but I still did not believe I was in labor.  When I was checked by my midwife, I had dilated to 5 centimeters and it was obvious then that it was time to head to the hospital.  But after spending so much time doubting my body and my ability to do this naturally, I was still convinced that this was not true labor. We called our doula to let her know we were heading to the hospital, and stopped to shop for a last-minute few things… While roaming around a giant department store, searching for soap and toothpaste, my contractions had become so strong that I could no longer walk through them. Perhaps it was time to go to the hospital…

We checked in around 2pm, and proceeded to just hang out in our room for the next few hours. Contractions became erratic and were spacing apart more, so of course, I began to doubt if this was real labor again.  I took some homeopathic black and blue cohosh, and within the hour, my contractions had come on so strong that there was no more denying it.  I got into the jacuzzi tub and labored there until the contractions were coming very regularly and building in strength. With Colin by my side, it was still tolerable and each contraction seemed to pass by pretty quickly. Natural contractions are much different from pitocin induced contractions. They feel… Natural. Intense, but natural.  Soon, the intensity and volume of each contraction increased and I moved into the birthing pool.

It was there, in the birthing pool that I fell from this earth into a dimension that only women have been to before.  The pain of each surge was so all-consuming that I literally felt my mind divide away from my body.  My bellowing screams were completely new to myself, I truly did not know I was capable of producing those sounds.  There comes a moment where intense pain transitions into something else, and there you are in a trance, embodied by its aplomb.

There was no room for my mind in that place, my body was in total control and I had no choice but to completely surrender to it.

Going through natural childbirth was more important to me than I thought it could be.  It was a transformation that balanced my everything, and I believe Miles’s everything as well..  It brought me and my baby into some space and time that I define as the place where I met god, and I have found myself in the last few days wishing to go back to that hugely powerful place to feel it once again, even accompanied by the pain.  There is a reason why women are meant to do this, and I know why now.  For years I had questioned why it had to be so painful and so miserable for women to give birth, so unfair… I no longer have these questions.

Guided by four women (my midwife, doulas and nurse) and my dear husband, Miles was born at 11:35pm that evening.  After just six hours of hard labor, in a dimly lit, quiet room, he was placed on my chest as soon as he came out and stayed there for an hour before he was taken to be weighed.   It was a dream, that I am still living in.

I do not think we would have had as amazing of a birth as we did if it weren’t for our birth doulas.  Their support throughout the pregnancy, the birth and now in the postpartum period has been so essential.  I would strongly encourage any woman considering unmedicated, natural childbirth to find a birth doula for the RIGHT kind of support.

For me, having faith in my own body to do what it was built to do, the power of nature, having the right support, and letting go of the past were the key elements that allowed me to bring my child into this world the way I wanted to welcome him.

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In my hospital room just hours before Miles arrived.

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going home

Miles is a rather content little baby.  He loves to eat and sleep, as most newborns do in the beginning…  He has the silliest expressions and looks just like a little man.  He definitely looks like Colin!

Yes, life has flipped upside down for us, just as everyone felt like they needed to remind us that it would.  And yes, we are tired, just as everyone predicted we would be… but it’s all good, and I will definitely not be one of those parents who will feel it necessary to remind any one about to enter into parenthood how your nights will be sleepless and your days be restless.  Because the truth is, the new life that comes into your own outweighs all of that.

I fell from earth for a moment, into a dimension that only women have been before. When I came back, I floated above everything, looking down on miles of my own simple tracks. I gazed upon them with a nostalgic fondness, and also the willingness to completely let them go. I turned softly away, and continue to float here above everything, reborn and so consumed by this new life, I will remain up here for all of the Miles I have left to travel. ~Lynn
 

A day to pass the time…

I thought for sure that I would have had this baby by now and that my next blog would have been my joyous new baby blog…. All of the signs have been there~  for weeks now, it has seemed like it could be happening at any moment… but now, at 39 weeks and two days pregnant, just 5 days away from my official due date… things have just kind of come to a halt….and so we wait.

The anticipation of it is the worse!  Every time I leave the house, I wonder… “what if I’m in line at the grocery store and my water breaks?!”… “what if I go into a quick, hard labor and end up delivering my baby on the side of the road?!”… So, after a few days of slumping around the house, waiting for the impending eve of labor to ensue… we decided that perhaps it would be good to get out of the house for the day and take a mini road trip.

We live less than an hour away from the catskill mountains~ So off we headed for some sunny snow cap mountain views.  We ended up in the small town of Woodstock NY and headed up a windy mountain road to find the Buddhist monastery, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, which sits nestled in the woods, atop the 3 mile high mountain.

We drifted through trees decorated with flowing prayer flags of every color, embellished by the bright snow covered grounds and sunlight…  The silence and stillness of the air seemed more evident there than in any other still place… as if the spiritual energy made it seem more important, more essential to pay attention to.

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We sat in the temple for a while, looking at each other, then back to ourselves, trying to NOT think at all, to just feel that moment alone, without the squandering thoughts that usually exist within our minds.

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We sipped tea in the communal area of the monastery, overlooking the mountain views, the cascading shadows and the sunlight among the trees…We exchanged smiles with people passing by, and spent some time talking about the love we are so lucky to have found…

And then, a remarkable event occurred… a lady bug (in January!) landed by my side… She climbed upon my hand, down along the ridge of my finger and perched there in the sunlight, fluttering her wings and roaming about in circles.  I felt her soft little insect legs scurry across my skin, and then she flew away.  I felt blessed then.

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My husband makes me incredibly happy and I stare at him on special days, during special moments like this with such intense energy that I feel like I could cry.  And I do sometimes.

I love this man with love so intense that I could explode!

I love this man with love so intense that I could explode!

We then headed back down the mountain, into Woodstock, where we had an incredible lunch and roamed the streets (more like, wobbled for me) until the sun went down.

This will probably be my last blog for a little while, as we prepare for our transition into a new life…

Our last Christmas, just the two of us.

We are only a week or two away from multiplying into a three family unit… the last nine months have been quite slow to pass, but now that I am nearing my 39th week of pregnancy, I feel like things are finally coming to a close and a new chapter of life is about to begin.  So for Christmas this year, we decided that we would spend the day alone, peacefully together, as just the two of us, one last time.

We awoke early to the smell of cinnamon and vanilla (everybody should wake up to this smell everyday, I am sure it would save the world if it were so).  I had prepared a blueberry french toast in my crock pot the night before that had slowly baked through the night…  It was delightful.

As we sat, sipping orange juice, Colin with his mimosa, and eating blueberry french toast, we decided that the day would be spent as follows:  breakfast, open presents, lay in bed, go for walk, take pictures, burn away negativity, pet horses, eat lunch, watch movie, eat dinner, eat desert, snuggle, go to bed… The perfect day.

I had spent some time earlier in the week coming up with a fantastic menu for the day~

Lynn’s Christmas Menu

lunch: Caramelized balsamic onion, thyme and fig goat cheese tartlet with honey medjool dates.         Shrimp Cocktail.

Dinner: seared Tenderloin roast with soy balsamic onions, crispy hen of the Woods mushrooms, brown butter sweet potato, and garlic butter stuffed artichokes.

Dark chocolate tart with whipped cream.

The day turned out to be a special, beautiful day together, one that will be remembered as our last Christmas, just the two of us…

Colin’s mother had sent us a few gifts to open…  I received a lovely blue crystal necklace that I adore, and Colin got this precious custom-made, needle felt gargoyle daddy holding a gargoyle baby (every year, she gives him a gargoyle for Christmas)… He will perch on a shelf above the crib, watching over our little one.

We decided that it was time to take some pregnancy pictures… finally.  After all of the picture-taking we do, we had yet to spend anytime snapping away at my pregnant belly.  So Without further adieu- the following photo collage is filled with “Lynn’s last week of pregnancy” photos.  It was the perfect day for a walk, and we choose a path that runs through the notoriously famous “sleepy hollow” woods that just happen to be near our house.  These are the woods where the story of the headless horsemen, and Ickabod Crane come from.  They definitely do have a spooky, mysterious vibe.

We had prepared a little “burning ceremony” earlier in the morning for our walk.  Each of us wrote down on little pieces of paper, the things that we most want to separate ourselves from, negative things that have or do affect us~  that no longer have a place in our lives.  We stashed them in a tin and headed out into the woods to find a place to burn them away and leave them behind.  On our walk home, we felt a bit lighter.

The horses were happy to see us and to have their soft, velvety noses pet for a few moments before we headed back inside for an afternoon of AMAZING food, our sweet kitties and each other.  I forgot to snap a photo of our desert… so in your mind, at the end of this collage, place a vision of the best chocolaty goodness you can think of and that is what we had for desert.

I put together this photo collage to remember our last Christmas together as just the two of us.  You can view as a scroll-through slide show with captions if you click on any image.

Wild Caught Meets Locally Grown.

It’s hunting season here in upstate NY, which means on any given morning if your up and out early enough, driving along any remote country road, you might be able to spot a bearded man with a neon orange cap heading into the woods…  Usually sporting a riffle or a bow.hunter

Personally, I have always had mixed feelings about the sport of hunting… I grew up with a father who hunted, and a grandfather that is primarily remembered for his woodsmen aptitude. As a child, I was accustomed to the sight of a deer hanging from the tree in our front yard each fall, and I remember very early on the first time I tasted venison.  My father prepared it with a simple flour, salt and pepper coat in a pan with butter and onion.  It was unlike any other meat, and once a year, for a brief time, we would have it in our home.  But years later,  I took a vow of vegetarianism…  For nearly eight years, I swore off any and all meat for no reason other than for my love of animals.  Now, in my 30′s, I include meat in my diet and have found a healthy balance for my love of nature and the food that it provides. Knowing just how food is processed, and where it comes from has become the key factor in my relationship with food.  In my opinion, It is a connection that too many people have lost touch with.

This year, a friend of mine and avid hunter,  offered me some venison to take home. Throughout the years, my friend and I have had many conversations about hunting and the mixed feelings I have always had about the sport.  We would talk about our mutual respect for animals and the relationship we have with them, in such opposing ways.  But through these conversations, I have come to realize that hunting is a kind and even necessary part of the life cycle, that the food the hunter brings home from the woods is the purest way to receive it, and that our mutual respect for the animal is more common than I knew.   After accepting the venison, I felt the need to honor the meal that this meat would provide my husband and I with the perfect selection of seasonal ingredients that I could find locally and as minimally processed as possible.

I found a farm store not too far from my house called The Berry Farm store.  This is a fully self-sustaining farm store that features locally made products from honey, candles, baked goods, and a grocery full of locally grown produce and meats.  It is also the home of a very friendly cat who can be seen roaming the grocer isles, napping in window boxes and greeting customers at the front door.

fat sleepy cat

fat sleepy cat

While shopping, I met a man named Joe who was overly interested in helping me find the things I was looking for.  Soon, I discovered that he was the owner of the store and before I knew it, he had offered to take me on a tour of his greenhouses.

tour of green houses

tour of green houses

As we walked through each hoop shaped green house, filled with a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers, he explained the energy they use to run the green houses and store…a combination of solar and geo-thermal energy supply this little market with more than enough power to be self-sustaining.  He talked about the struggles and benefits of being a small-scale, eco-consious farmer, just how frightening it is to be a farmer in todays agriculture, and how difficult it has become to work around the Monsanto label.  Here, in this rural little town, a man plays classical music all day long to a green house full of micro greens. He looks down at his seedlings with a smile and an obvious appreciation for this process of life, while somewhere else, a corporate industry (Monsanto) is trying to put a patent on our seeds and genetically modify our food.  I will continue to support Joe.

music for the seedlings...

music for the seedlings…

I finished my afternoon of shopping for the perfect ingredients and decided on what my menu would be for the evening…

A wild mushroom encrusted venison tenderloin, with a pomegranate cream sauce,  a winter greens gratin, and thyme roasted new potatoes….My sister in law had suggested the winter greens gratin a while ago, and I thought it would fit nicely with the venison.  A sweet pomegranate cream sauce with the wild mushroom crust sounded like the perfect pairing, and some simple roasted potatoes… I couldn’t wait to get started.

It was a lovely cooking process that my husband and I enjoyed together.  He told me stories of growing up with a grandfather who was also an avid woodsmen and we talked about the hunter, as if we were there with him, imagining what it must be like.  To wake before dawn, to sit in the cold crisp morning, listening for sounds, silent and still, searching for shadows, and finally taking aim on an unsuspecting animal…  We talked about the sadness of the life that is taken, and the necessity for it just the same, how some people can do it without a second thought, and others could just never.

And then, we celebrated our evening with food that was carefully and thoughtfully given to us, wild and locally produced.

Below is a collage of my shopping trip, a greenhouse tour, and the evening of cooking with these wonderful ingredients.  

Avoidance

hold me, and help me to be heard, so I can heal….

“Is this your first one?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, how exciting!”

“…..Yes, it sure is.”

I’m pregnant. At the visible stage now, with just 7 weeks left to go until the baby will be here. For the last few months, every time a casual conversation gets sparked with a stranger, inevitably, this question arises:  “Is this your first one?”  and every time, I politely smile and say… “yes, yes it is.”

It isn’t.

Years ago, pregnant for the first time, I had a quiet, peaceful pregnancy, normal in every way.  Blissfully trusting of the dr.’s that I had placed in charge of my body and the birth of my child, at 42 weeks pregnant, two weeks over due, a 9 lb. baby boy finally emerged into this world.  He died ten minutes after he was born.

The details that surround this story are difficult to hear.  They are graphic, they are sad, and they are immensely angering. They are saturated in the hard truth and reality that life doesn’t always succeed, even in this miraculous age of modern technology that we live in.  Babies still die, and people don’t want to talk about it.

Life has moved forward for me, and here I am years later, pregnant again, nearing the time when this baby will make his grand entrance into the world.  I am excited.  I am happy. I am in love.  I have long accepted the past and I am eager to move forward with this new life… but lest not forget.

people have pain, and we should not be so quick to avoid its uncomfortable truths. It is understood that the stranger behind the desk at “Babies R Us” does not need to hear my traumatic first birth story when she asks “is this your first one?”  So of course, I will answer with, “yes, yes it is.”

But what strikes me most in this scenario,  is that she does not stop to think for even one second that perhaps this is not my first one, and that my first one did not necessarily result in a healthy new baby…even though one in four pregnancies results in a loss…  The thought of a pregnant woman having a baby previously die, just doesn’t occur in the mind of most people.  And why would it?

We have become conditioned to avoid our pain and the pain of one another.  We do anything to avoid it…  To such the extent that we do not even allow such thoughts to enter into our heads when speaking to one another.  We are hopeful always, that everyone has lived a well-adjusted life with only fuzzy memories attached, and when we are sudden to realize that this may not be the case, we squirm.

We try to keep things glossy and pretty, happy and fluffy, and at the first hint of expressing a “negative” emotion, we run from it, awkwardly and uncomfortably.  We meet behind closed doors, with professionals to talk through our “issues.” Nearly half of the people in this country are currently taking some type of antidepressant…. All the meanwhile, gliding through life with a gentle delicacy, void of anything potentially difficult to face.

It has somehow become taboo, or forbidden to admit, out loud to one another that we hurt, or have ever been hurt.. that we struggle with life or have had traumatic experiences… That we are human.

I am not suggesting that we should all start opening up our demon closets to expose each other of all our misery and sorrow at every chance we get.  What I am suggesting is; if we were to become a bit more aware of each other’s human qualities, then maybe we wouldn’t need to feel like we had to hide from our own pain so much… That instead of denying ourselves the ability to speak freely, avoiding the other half of the emotional spectrum, we could encourage each other, and VALIDATE each other, to heal each other.

That day that my first-born died, and the healing process that followed was the most transformative, powerfully life altering event in my life, and to deny that it ever happen simply to avoid making someone else feel uncomfortable, hurts every time I am asked, “Is this your first one?”  and I answer with, “yes, yes it is.”

a monster of emotional hardship, banished to sea that nobody wants to confront…but he is a kind monster with much to offer.

~Thank you to my lovely husband for hearing my every word, for asking me EVERYDAY how I feel, for accepting my challenges and working to conquer them with me instead of letting me attempt them alone.