Thursday, July 31, 2014

Primetime Streaming

I have all these grand visions of life as a multitasking supermom... garden-to-table three course dinners, handmade toys and sweet little hand-stitched sundresses for Amelia, consistently shampooed hair. You know.

But after the day is done and the baby is in bed, who wants to sit at a sewing machine when you can snuggle on the couch and stream TV shows instead?* Now that Chris and I have the littlest Ross, our days of binge-watching a series during the weekend are over, but we still find time to catch an episode or two in the evenings. Here are our recent favorites on Netflix and Amazon...

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK  This show might be a little old news but I don't even care. Never in my life did I think I would love a prison drama so much. But I do, we both do. It took us forever but we finally finished season two a few weeks ago and now there's a void in our lives.

KEY AND PEELE  This is our go-to show when we're in the mood for something lighthearted. The jokes are hilarious, the characters are ridiculous, the production value is surprisingly high-quality. One of my favorite sketches: substitute teacher #2.

DOWNTON ABBEY  I realize the blogworld is probably over Downton (until next season, perhaps) but since we didn't have TV for the past four seasons, I've been catching up on Amazon. The storyline, the history, the costumes, the dry humor... it's all so good (although I feel like I should share that Chris decidedly does not feel the same.) I just finished season three yesterday and OHMYGOSH I don't even want to talk about it, my heart is broken. I just can't.

ADVENTURE TIME  We usually turn on Finn and Jake's shenanigans when we don't know what else to watch. Then we get sucked in to watching four episodes because everything is just so dang mathematical. I don't even know how to summarize this show in a few sentences, so you should probably read this article from the New Yorker.

Have you been obsessing over any shows lately? Next up for us will probably be Six Feet Under, and I've never seen The Office in full (I stopped watching when Michael left) so that's on my list as well, but I'd love to hear some other favorites!

* I feel the need to note that this sentence has some nice alliteration going on and even rhymes. I also feel the need to note that it was not planned. I promise I'm not that cheesy, I just read a lot of nursery stories these days.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Resolutions Revisited: 2014

2014 is halfway over (are you kidding me!?) so obviously I need to revisit my resolutions and somehow convince myself that I'm not a complete failure just yet.

What is it about the turn of every year that seems so promising? My full list of 14 resolutions for 2014 has been taped to the side of the fridge for the past six months; I see it every day waiting for my morning coffee to brew. I can do this! Lesson learned? Seeing does not mean doing. But I'm not going to focus on that... instead, I'll just pat myself on the back for everything I've stuck to so far for 2014. 

READ 14 BOOKS. Halfway through the year, halfway through my reading list. Feels good. Honestly, I haven't touched any books in about a month, but I flew through the first half of my list (the Harry Potter series, if you're curious) so somehow I'm magically on track for this goal. Yussss.

MAKE THE MOST OUT OF SUMMERTIME. Summer is kind of a big deal in the Ross household... we take the warm weather very seriously. For having a young toddler, I think we've been doing pretty good. Trips to the zoo, walks around the neighborhood every night. We're working on a beach trip soon, too. Plus, I've made it a personal goal to make a batch of popsicles every week this summer, and of course I'm 3/3 with that one.

MAKE OUR HOUSE A HOME. This is a slow but steady process. We just hit our one year homeaversary and still haven't hung any artwork on the walls but I'm okay with that. Most of our recent efforts have been in the garden - even though we've only completed a small section of our front yard, it was a huge overhaul. I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish so far, especially since we can only really work when Amelia is asleep. I'm excited to continue to work on our home little by little.

WASH MY FACE EVERY NIGHT. In high school and college I was obsessed with skincare and kind of fell off the bandwagon after having Amelia. Although I've had my share of weekend skips lately, this is happening on a consistent basis and my skin much happier because of it.

FOCUS ON BEING A BETTER WIFE AND MAMA. These two. They are my heart. Admittedly, there are days when I am tired, grumpy and selfish and probably not the best wife and/or mama. But mostly I try to be attentive and patient. It's an ongoing goal that I know will never truly reach perfection, but that's okay. I'm just going to keep on loving them. And also feeding them corn on the cob because it's delicious and they're cute.

As far as my other goals, I have a lot to get cracking on. I haven't written a single letter, my sewing machine has sat in the same spot since we moved in, and all our photos are gathering dust on my hard drive. Six months has flown by quickly, but there's still a decent chunk of time left in the year. There's still hope for those remaining resolutions.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The End of Winter

In the Ross household, I think we have finally seen the end of the longest winter yet... metaphorically speaking, of course, since it's the third day of July. JULY.

Amelia has been sick for a very long time, nearly half a year when I count the days. The long and short of it? Chronic respiratory and digestive issues as well as poor weight gain, causes not entirely known. In the past few months, she has been medicated, x-rayed, tested for parasites and foreign diseases... pretty much everything short of more invasive measures. We have been told her issues were potentially caused by everything from teething to cystic fibrosis (that was a scary 48 hours, but her test processed quickly and came back very negative.)

There was a while, it seemed, that we lived at the doctor's office, making several trips a week. When her pediatrician couldn't help us, we were sent to a pediatric gastroenterologist in Kalamazoo. The specialist has had us avoid soy and dairy (common sensitivities for babies) for the past couple of months to see if it would help. It has been really difficult, especially since Amelia loved cheese, and soy is in every product imaginable these days. We've made it work for us with almond milk, coconut yogurt, whole foods, and all sorts of vegan recipes and treats.

Little by little, things have gotten better. Her digestive system slowed down enough for her blistering diaper rash to heal, and her respiratory problems aren't as severe either. I wouldn't say she is 100% back to normal, but then what is normal when it comes to babies, anyway? Babies shoot poop up their backs and think rocks are edible.

Last week, after yet another doctor's visit, we finally got the okay from the specialist to begin incorporating small amounts of dairy and soy back into her diet. We started this past weekend, mixing about an ounce of cow's milk into her usual almond-coconut blend. We've noticed a slight shift, but overall she's doing really well! Hopefully we are on the right track. Since I'm still nursing her and dairy can stay in a mama's system for a full two weeks, I will be avoiding it for a bit longer to make sure Amelia's system can fully handle dairy (but oh do I dream of the day when I can have cheese pizza for dinner and ice cream for dessert!)

Originally, I wasn't going to share this part of our life on GH. I'm still not sure this story is mine to tell - something I struggle with as a mom on social media. But the more I've been thinking about it, the more I realize that I turn to the internet a lot when Amelia is sick. Although one quick Google search of an illness can send you down a dark spiraling path of rare diseases, complicated medical sites and scary images, it can also uncover stories of families who are going through the same issues, and hearing about those experiences can be invaluable. So perhaps our story will help you or someone you know. Sometimes I really do hate the internet, but mostly I am reminded of the good that it can bring, too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mother's Day

This past Saturday, we celebrated my first mother's day. Goodness. 

It was a beautifully warm weekend -- we spent the entire day outside, gardening and chasing Amelia, and had delicious smoky BBQ ribs for dinner. It was simple, sweet, and couldn't have been more perfect. 

Instead of buying me a big bouquet, Chris took me to our local nursery, Linton's, to pick out flowers for our window box: purple wishbones, yellow begonias, and a few artillery plants (my new favorite succulent, pictured above.) The window box is a little scrappy looking at the moment, but I know the flowers will eventually fill in more and it makes me smile every time I leave the house.

Our little weeder gave me a bouquet of her own: dandelion tops from our yard. She proudly handed over the flowers that didn't end up in her mouth first. Words really cannot express how much Amelia Joy means to me. Seeing the world through her eyes, watching her grow and explore, the way she reacts to spring leaves and sunshine -- it is nothing short of magical.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, holding her in a fluffy towel after bath time, and I'm taken aback by how natural it is to have her in my arms. She is mine, I am hers. I haven't even been a mother for a full year but sometimes it seems like she is all I have ever known.

It can be challenging but it is wonderful and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Garden Planning: Shady Perennials

Spring has finally arrived in Indiana and it makes me so incredibly happy. Tiny buds on the trees, daffodils and hyacinth everywhere, blue skies with puffy clouds. Sunglasses! Iced coffee! Hooray! It's still pretty chilly and we had several inches of snow last week but I'm not letting that faze me. I have been daydreaming about gardening for several months now and I'm ready to dig up our yard.

I've had a little experience in vegetable gardening, but I won't pretend to know much about flower gardening. I'm doing my best to turn that around this spring and summer. I've been reading books, blogs, and perusing the Better Homes and Gardens website for lots of tips (their plant encyclopedia has been incredibly helpful.)

If anything, I know that I want lots of pretty flowers in soft hues and I don't want to work hard for them to thrive. I also don't want to spend a ton of money on landscaping each year, either, and we have a ton of trees, so I'm in the market for perennials that will flower year after year in our shaded yard. Although that limits my options a wee bit, I was surprised to find a lot of beautiful blooms that fit the bill. Here's a selection of what I hope to plant this year..

ALLIUM  These puffballs stole my heart years ago, during a date to the zoo with Chris. Alliums are in the onion family (think chives, green onion, garlic) so you can enjoy them in the garden and in the kitchen. I hope to plant a wide variety to stagger the bloom time throughout the spring and early summer.
BUNCHBERRY  This shade-loving ground cover is my space-saving alternative to a dogwood tree. Although the flowers fade after spring, bright red edible berries are left behind and the leaves turn fiery red in the fall.
ANEMONE  I discovered this beauty back when I was wedding planning (just look at the variety of arrangements on Pinterest!) I love the large loose petals and intricate centers. These flowers grow in dappled light or shade up north, making them perfect for our tree-covered backyard.
DELPHINIUM  The giant stalks of delphinium will bloom in the both spring and again in fall if trimmed. Perfect for adding a little vertical interest. 
VIOLETS  I'm partial to wild violets that are scattered throughout the yard, but this larger variety is lovely and offers cheerful blooms all season long.
CREEPING BUTTERCUP  Unlike many other varieties of ranunculus, creeping buttercup grows in full shade. That yellow is the perfect pop of color for a shaded area.

PEONY  Okay, okay... peonies don't exactly grow in the shade. But I have to have one. I don't need to wax poetic about their beauty. You guys know. You know. I will find the sunniest spot in my yard and make it home to a peony plant.
FORGET-ME-NOT  There was a whole mess of forget-me-nots planted around the water of our first home, and because of that, I plan to plant them at every home Christopher and I share. Nostalgia!
CLEMATIS  Like many other flowers, clematis will always remind me of my mother, who has a beautiful purple variety entwined around a birdhouse. These vine flowers do well in dappled light, and the large Henry's clematis variety blooms all summer long.
GERANIUM  Geraniums are a childhood favorite of mine, but sadly are not annual flowers up north. Enter the perennial geranium: a hardier variety that flowers for months in warmer weather. It thrives in full sun, but can handle part shade as well.
BELLFLOWER These lovely star shaped flowers are a new favorite. They bloom from spring well into summer. Yes please. 
HYDRANGEA  Yet another childhood favorite... how could you not love the fun puffball flowers of the hydrangea? These shade-loving plants bloom from summer to fall.

We're probably a few weeks away from the last frost (it always sneaks in one final chill in May up here) but I'm ready to start incorporating my floral picks into a few layout sketches and start tilling and amending the soil.

Nature in general was always a big part of my childhood... I'm very excited to share the beauty of plants with Amelia and teach her how important the earth is. She just turned eleven months this week and is becoming much more aware of her surroundings. I have a feeling she's going to love the allium and delphinium. Can't wait!