Archive for July, 2008

Clackamas River

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Clackamas River

Clackamas River, Oregon

Fish Creek Trail

On the trail with Cheyenne, Hans and the cougar bait.

Pup Creek Falls

Pup Creek Falls (about 200 feet)

Ronin did pretty well on the hike. Although she did throw a fit about 3 miles in that made us seriously consider turning back. Of course, turning back would have been pointless since we were hours from the car. We pushed on for the last half mile or so and the falls made it all worth it. The first hour we didn’t make very good time because we were stuffing ourselves silly on berries. There were blackberries, thimble berries, salmon berries, and black caps. Yum yum. Ronin didn’t get any but Otto must have eaten his body weight. We also packed in banh mi for everyone.

Before heading back to the city I took a nice invigorating dip in the icy cold river. Hans and Cheyenne were too chicken to join me but I wanted to show off my new blue bikini.


Friday, July 25th, 2008

Butterfly wings. Clackamas River, Oregon.

Happy Halfsies Little Monkey

Monday, July 21st, 2008

[Ro likes to pull up grass, examine it closely, then put it in her mouth (I pull it out because grass is a Stage II food).]

Well, I meant to post this a week ago but it didn’t happen. The big news today is Ronin is sick. First cold. POOR BABY. (And these past few days I’ve been sick.) She seems confused mostly, and is coughing all over the place. There doesn’t seem to be all that much we can do except watch her and keep her comfortable, encourage her to sleep. I brought her in the bathroom when Joshua took a shower to breathe in the steam. We planned to go on a hike to a waterfall today and are still going to go; we figure she will be happiest outside in the woods anyway if she is of the cranky disposition today (and it is definitely looking like today is brought to you by CRANKY). I’m packing the infant tylenol and a nose bulb in case things get dicey on the trail.

Ronin is six months old, give or take a week; my excuse for not posting this promptly on the 13th is because we were actually in a place where there was NO internet. At all. Not even a weak wifi signal from the neighbors. (Also, I’m a slacker.) This past six months, unlike most other six-month periods of my life, has been both very long and yet incredibly short. Pregnancy was like that too. I felt like the time flew by but when I thought specifically of a certain week, it was, GOD, AGES ago. I watched some early videos of her from the first weeks and watched her wiggle like an uncoordinated amoeba. In six more months I’ll have a (um) vocal walking (or close to it) mini-Godzilla on my hands.

Regarding the solids thing, I think I have to admit to myself that Ronin hates food. And by association, all spoons. We have been trying at least once per day to try to get her used to it but as soon as she sees the spoon or suspects something is amiss, she arches her back and starts whining. Or rather, humming in a whiny way because she will not open her mouth at this point. Of course, initially I gave her the spoon to play with but she regards it with suspicion; on occasion she will chew on the handle part. She puts it in her mouth, pulls it out, then makes a sour face like there was food on it and slowly rolls her gums around. It’s pretty hilarious.

Lately, I have used a folded up piece of Mojo bar wrapper to feed her (with marginal success). Naturally, all age-inappropriate foods are of high interest to Ronin and in particular, bars of any type. So I got the idea to scrape a bit of rice up on the edge of the bar wrapper and she ate it like no problem (although she did seem surprised that something stayed in her mouth after the crinkly thing went out). She ate with the wrapper twice more and then I ran out of Mojo bars.

In other news, she went on a six-day poop strike last week. We were a bundle of frayed nerve endings by the end of it but it ended far less spectacularly than I had imagined. Now I’m less alarmed when she misses a few days.


[flash /images/0807/Ro_wakes_up.flv w=400 h=300 f={autostart=false}]


[flash /images/0807/blows_raspberries.flv w=400 h=300 f={autostart=false}]

Project: Baby Carrier

Friday, July 18th, 2008

I think Ronin had a growth spurt at six months. The books all say that babies are supposed to but I didn’t really believe it. Somewhere between five and a half and six months she suddenly became too heavy for the Baby Bjorn. Not too big or technically too heavy (according to the weight capacity), but after only a mile or two walking with her in it, my shoulders would KILL. This never happened before; I used to walk for hours and I never noticed it being a problem. I had been using the Bjorn a lot since it got warmer out; the Moby, which is of course very comfortable even with a heavy baby, is just too hot for summer. Ronin gets sweaty and starts to squirm and struggle to get free after a while.

The answer, of course, was to search endlessly on Ebay and Craigslist for a cheap used Ergo or something but then I saw an online tutorial to sew a Mei Tai, which is similar to the Ergo but lower tech, which I prefer. Everyone swears by the Ergo and similar styles, particularly for heavier babies and toddlers, so I decided to make it.

It was really easy and this was good because I needed to get it done in a couple of evenings so we would have it for the Country Fair. The hardest part was picking out the fabric. I needed something strong and had been told to not use twill (because it might bunch up uncomfortably but in hindsight, I don’t think the design I used with the padding would make this much of an issue) or denim (too short of a pile makes the fabric weaker) or corduroy (again, chopped pile compromises strength). So, I needed canvas or something like this. We went to Johann’s Fabrics, which is the size of a city block yet ironically has hardly any fabric. (If I was looking for stenciling or scrapbooking materials, perhaps this would have been my place.) Unfortunately, they did not carry canvas, only an insanely heavy cotton duck, which was severely stiff and thick. I was sick of looking and picked the khaki color (color options were also less than desirable). The stuff was so stiff the tweaky Russian salesgirl was unable to fold it and just stuck it in the bag in the shape of the roll it just came off of. Washing it at home helped a little but this was very tough stuff.

I made essentially the same carrier as the tutorial instructions show but left out the inside liner (I could not decide upon a suitable liner fabric and of course, Johann’s Lame Fabrics was no inspiration) and the hood. I also made the padding from folded fleece but used only 18 inches and started the padding a couple of inches up from where the straps attached to the body.

Overall, I’m very happy with it. It looks good I think and it really is very comfortable. We broke it in at the Oregon Country Fair, arriving at around 11:30am and leaving at 8pm—I wore her the first half of the day, Joshua for the second and my shoulders felt fine. My back felt fine. It was great. Plus, as always, it was hot and dusty yet the carrier was not uncomfortably hot; the baby can sort of lean away from you creating a breezeway between you two. Unfortunately, Ronin is used to facing out and seeing where she is going. This carrier is only a facing-you carrier (either in front, or piggy-back style) and Ronin was a tad put out about having to always look to the side. We bought some wooden beads on a rope to wear around our neck and thusly we rocked the fashion boat at the Fair AND the baby was happy and distracted. Also, bonus points: she slept marvelously in it. Just made humming noises until she drifted off.

Since then, we have had a couple of long walks and she is becoming more content to ride in the carrier and look to the side. I haven’t tried her out on the back yet; I’m going to wait until she is a bit bigger I think. There is a hip carry I tried out yesterday and this is the answer as far as Ronin getting to see where we are going. It is somewhat less hands-free than the front carry but cuddly and comfortable and Ronin seems much happier.

Things I would change a second time around are 1) Use a lighter weight fabric (the duck is fine, but it is seriously overkill). 2) Rearrange the exterior decorative layer. I made a square inside a frame of khaki; next time I would make the decorative fabric run in a stripe down the body with khaki only at the sides. 3) Make the hood. I like the looks of the hood (also it would support her head when she slept and provide shade) and with the body styled as a stripe, the hood could be incorporated easily without breaking up the design. I also would make the hood longer than the tutorial depicts with the sides gathered more like the Ergo hoods. 4) Make loops here and there to tie or attach things to, like toys or teether doo-dads. 5) Contour the sides more so that it doesn’t chafe under her knees. When she is a tad bigger it won’t matter but for a smaller baby, the body bunches up a little where her legs stick out.

[Here’s a diagram of what I made and what I would do to improve on the design. As you can see, it is really insanely simple. The green panel is where I would sew in some fancy pattern or whatnot rather than a square in the center and the gray shaded areas are where the padding is. The shoulder strap padding goes about 18 inches up the straps. A hood could be added made with the same fabric as the designer stripe and would appear low relief as it hung down when not in use. I forgot to mention or put it in the diagram but the body fits inside the bottom strap about two inches so that there are three lines of stitching securing it (top stitching in addition to the two lines of stitching securing the padding).]

[This is a photo of the sewing machine I use. It was given to me when my grandmother died and I use it a lot. It only has a straight stitch (which is why I avoid buttonholes when I can) but it works beautifully and is so small and cute. I love it.]

Oregon Country Fair

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

“It’s kind of like the Renaissance Faire except with hippies.” This was Michelle’s take and I’ve never been to a Renaissance faire but 40,000 people pining for 1969 instead of 1540 seems like it ought to be a marked difference. However, I’m sure she’s right; we had food, we had crafts, we had entertainment, and we had dust. Lots of dust. And we had a great time.

Oregon Country Fair - Cheyenne Ronin and Michelle

[Set against a backdrop of dust and hippies.]

Our first inevitable stop was Toby’s Tofu Palace where we got into the spirit by infusing our bodies with organic vegetables and soy product.

Fair food is abundant and varied (there are a LOT of ways you can prepare tofu) and overall excellent. The best thing I ate that day was vegan coconut ice cream. Ah, you smirk at the thought of vegan ice cream but I’m telling you, the best chocolate cookies I have ever had were vegan (made by our friend CJ’s old roommate in Menlo Park) and I mock not the vegan treats.

Oregon Country Fair - Please Keep Moving

[Dust and hippies keep moving.]

The fairgrounds are huge but primarily wooded and the action takes place along dirt paths under large shady trees. Because of this, spending nine hours wandering dusty vendor-lined streets with multitudes of kindred souls is generally pleasant and largely non-taxing. Architecturally curious permanent booths are constructed along the paths and everything is weathered and covered in moss. Booths sell either food, pottery, tie-dye, beaded jewelry, or sundries such as yoga or massage. (I’m guessing at a Renaissance fair this would be barbecued turkey legs, pottery, crushed velvet Elizabethan garb/feathered poet caps, beaded jewelry, and sundries such as face painting and massage.) A bunch of stages are set up throughout the area and music and vaudeville acts run nonstop the entire weekend.

Oregon Country Fair - Stick Dragon Shade Structure

[This stick structure was jam packed with dusty hippy kids, unless they were hobbits.]

We plotted our course to hit several of the vaudeville acts but it’s hard to get from one place to another in any timely manner (the place is huge and fantastical winged creatures, tree-folk, and naked painted people distract one) so we only made it to three or four shows. Shows we saw leaned heavily toward the juggling/acrobatics, which of course was like 80% of show fodder. The other 20% revolved around jokes about Long Tom River (this is of course the stagnant slough that winds through the fair property).

Oregon Country Fair Crowd Shot

[Some hippies in the dust.]

I’ve been told that while the fairgrounds are a wondrous thing, even wondrouser are the grounds when there is nobody there, during off-season. Someone I know and his cousin (no names mentioned here!) used to walk the railroad tracks (this is before there was a road) and climb the fence into the property. There they would run the deserted streets amongst the dank hobbity structures while they may or may not have partook in (cough) strong beverages, or something.

Oregon Country Fair - Wire Dragonfly

Oregon Country Fair - Cedar Crow

[Dusty hippy art.]

Oregon Country Fair - Main Gate

[Evening sunlight filters through the dust with hippies in the foreground.]

[flash /images/0807/OCFMontage.flv w=400 h=300 f={autostart=false}]

[Hippies! And dust!!]

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell