Being ‘from boston’

I’ve been in the greater boston area since fall of 1996. I’ve never lived in Boston. Closest I have ever lived to the city was 16 miles. The Boston area is a large metro population, with it’s spoke and hub, the suburbs spread far and wide. However when ever in a distant city, I always orient people to where I’m from as it’s location relative to Boston. I’ll always be a boston sports fan, even though I’m mostly a homer and a fair weather fan. While it has it’s issues, too numerous to name, it also has it’s reasons to be Proud. I like it inspire of it’s flaws.  I claim it as my own.

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My fondest memories of the city, are of the 2004 red sox victory parade. You can see from these photos, how crazy the city was. The streets are filled with people on a cold rainy late fall day. The spirit of the fans was electric having won the world series after such a drought.

This photo was taken during the parade, on Boylston St. street just feet away from where both of the bombs went off this past Monday.

I can’t help but think, with both Tasha and I (sometimes) aspiring runners, that some day in the future it could be one of us standing near the finish waiting for a loved one. As a matter of fact Tasha is signed up for her first 26.2 this fall in DC, at the http://www.marinemarathon.com/

This just hits a little too close to home.

I will try not to hold april 15 2013 in my mind as how I think of Boston, and the boston marathon (other than how amazing the first responders were in saving lives.) I prefer remember October 30th 2004 as how I see the city.

I think I need to go watch watch We still believe.

 

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The quickest post ever

Hi all,

I know Aaron did something like this a while back but I just wanted to list some sites we are working on more regularly…

www.360lean.com  – well I am in the midst of fixing this one, so stay tuned. ;)

www.bornwithcholesteatoma.net – Born With Cholesteatoma – Parents support site for kids with cholesteatoma

futurehealth.360lean.com – FutureHealth @ 360 Lean, a blog focused on digital health and medicine

ecoganicfamily.com – a sort of Digg site for natural and organic products, natural lifestyle etc.

Aaron’s main pride and joy right now is

 

The Bottle Farm - his new homebrewing blog which he greatly enjoys

so, stop by and take a look at any of these, and say hi!

Days go by.

As I sit here watching Monday night football, I’m pondering how much has changed since my last post. Back in early 2011 we had an 17 month old, and Tasha was very pregnant with our second. I was just dipping my toe into home brewing, Tasha had completing a the Dr. Sears nutrition course, and had begun contemplating further education. Abby was talking quite a bit for her age, and we thought we had it all figured out. Little did we know…

Flash forward 20 months. We’ve got a very active nearly two year old, a 3 year old with an amazing ability to communicate, Tasha will be graduating from Grad school in mid 2013, and I am starting a new job. Could life be more upside down? Well yes.

We’ve pretty much shut this site down, but if you do want to follow what we are doing you can do so here:

http://360lean.com/

http://thebottlefarm.com

http://www.bornwithcholesteatoma.net/

Basically, Tasha’s business, my hobby, and info about our little beanies’ challenges.

Happy Holidays from us here at Cranky n Stinky.com

A,T,A,L

Crossing long overdue items off the list

Sometime all it takes is a just a nudge to finally get something done. I’ve wanted to home brew beer for a long time. I’ve even owned most of the equipment for a few years. What’s been keeping me from getting it done? I suffer from perfection paralysis, I’m not a perfectionist, but with some projects, I can’t seem to get off the ground until things are just right. 

I finally had enough inertia to make the leap this past Monday, and all it took was getting a copy of the complete Joy of Home brewing. It’s funny that after reading the first few chapters of the book, I had enough confidence to get going. It’s rare the that a intro book is this good, if you want to try home brewing, this book will get you started no question. 

The beer I’m brewing is based on the True Brew american wheat extract kit, but I didn’t brew it exactly as it was in the box. I changed the boil time, the hop variety, quantity, and addition times. Those are the changes I intended. I have also made some changes that I did not intend, aka mess ups. I had a boil over, a few unintentional flame outs, I didn’t read the instructions on my yeast, and I had a cooling problem. All of these were just inconveniences and shouldn’t significant’y impact the beer. Or as they say, opportunities to learn. The good news, is that when I checked the airlock the next morning, it was bubbling away. I’d made beer! There are a few more steps to complete, days of fermentation, dry hopping, bottling and bottle conditioning before it’s ready for drinking, but I have made my first batch of beer. 

So what’s next? I’m going to follow the standard home brewing progression. I started with an extract kit, I plan to move on to extract and specialty grain brewing, and eventually making own recipes once I can follow a recipe well. Some day (when I’ve got a lot of free time) I’d like to try all grain brewing. I plan on brewing another batch as soon as I bottle this one, because I know my time afterwards will be limited. If anyone has recipe recommendations, or suggestions on an appropriate style of beer for me to brew I’d gladly take them into consideration. This first batch is going to be a light and hoppy american wheat beer. I’m thinking this next batch should be something appropriate for spring, bonus points for utilizing season appropriate ingredients.

This leaves one question for you. What’s been lingering on your list for a while that will be crossed off next? What will it take to get you to pull the trigger?

5 Years Ago…

Aaron and I celebrate our 5 year anniversary today, and 9 years together. I don’t usually post such things, but I wrote this for him. :)
because he was kind, and put my foglight covers on, even before I knew him…
because he told me funny stories over the Internet…
because we saw the US become mortal in one day….
because he let me drive his stick shift in a race, of all things…
because we used to roam New England just to discover…
because he shoveled my car off in the morning when I parked on the street…
because he learned to love cats, even crazy ones…
because he understood my stranger anxieties…
because he loved the outdoors…
because he snorkeled despite getting seasick on the way…
because we watched the Subarus scream through the woods… pssssh! psssh!
because he met the family, and thought they were nice…
because he finished his degree when he could have let it go…
because he made exercising and eating mindfully part of his life…
because he bought a kayak to go with me…
because he unhooked the fish I caught for me…
because he proposed to me on a hike, next to a lake…
because we promised to help each other realize our dreams…
because we said a sudden goodbye to a friend together…
because he rode behind me when we trained…
because we crossed the PMC finish line as a team…
because he got creative in cooking…
because he took me to town after a week camping in the rain…
because he was nervous when he signed the house papers…
because he built a chicken coop with his Dad…
because he reused a pallet to make the chicks’ brooder…
because he relished being an Uncle to his many nephews and nieces…
because he cheered me on at all the races he wasn’t also in…
because he drove a sick alpaca to the large animal hospital with me in the middle of night…
because he was confident the moment he found out we were having a baby…
because he wrangled the farm animals for most of the next year…
because he joined a CSA and goes to the farmers market every week he can…
because he rode his bicycle 140 miles in a day…
because he rode another 250 miles less than a week later…
because he read several books about becoming a Dad…
because he stayed by my side when I was in labor…
because he welcomed our daughter into the world…
because he held her gently even when he was exhausted…
because he held me gently even when he was exhausted…
because he shows his daughter his love every day…
because he is excited to be a Dad again…
because he is the kindest, caring person I know…
because we are so much better when we’re together…
because he knows everything will be ok…
and because I love him…
I am so proud and happy to share our ninth year together
and our fifth year anniversary of our wedding…
today.

Why I love craft beer.

I feel the need to explain why I’ve been so interested in local craft beer after seeing some lists and examples of craft brewed beer in recent articles, like The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Drink Craft Beer and 10 Great Beers Brewed In Unlikely Places .


These articles highlight a few of the reasons and craft beers without covering my reasons for loving it. Those that read my infrequent posts, will know I’m big on local food. While I’m far from new to good beer, I’ve liked ‘microbrews’ or imports for a long time, the interest or better yet fascination with local craft beer is fairly new for me. I can’t pinpoint when the light bulb went off, but I think I became more aware the craft beer movement. Things like this video

 and these interviews


http://www.belchingmonkey.com/content/interbrew/interbrew-anderson-valley-brewing-company/878/

Have solidified my interest.

Hearing these brewers talk about their commitment to brewing, their craft, and sustainability, it’s not hard to see how it meshes with my values. This is something they need to do, as they just can’t out cheap, distribute, or advertise the beer water makers. Which is fine, they can do something things the big guys can’t, be local, fresh, unique, and small. This is their differentiator.

Pretty much anywhere you where you go, you can find a local brewery. When I was on a trip to Long Island this past weekend, there were no fewer than 4 breweries with a reasonable drive. Near our home in MA, as you can see on this map (beermapping.com), there are a significant number as well. What I’m getting at, is that you can get local beer everywhere. Not only are you shortening the distribution chain, so you get fresh beer, you are also supporting the local economy. These smaller local brewers can also partner with local purveyors, like Cambridge brewing company (Cambridge MA), using Taza chocolate (Sommerville MA) in it’s Chocolate milk stout. It is that sort of double rainbow that you never see from the big guys.  


Even if local does not matter to you, craft beer has much more to offer the beer fan. You can get your traditional pilsners and lighter lagers, if that is what your pallet prefers, but you can also get double imperial stouts, black ipa’s and wild sours, interesting and unique variations that you may not find else where. The reason why craft beer can offer the variety, and the The scale at which craft beer operates means they are faster moving, they can try the newest variety of hops, or offer wet hopped beers, that operations of larger scale just can’t do. They offer something for everyone, and a beer for every season. I personally can’t wait for the release of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale every holiday season, but also look forward to the next iteration of Alagash’s Fluxus which is different every release.
This variety and scale means that fine craft beer is really approachable.  Unlike wine, where you may find premium wines starting at 50+ a bottle, going into many thousands. Unique rare beer seems to be much more available . Don’t get me wrong, there exceptions, like Portsmouth brewing’s Kate the Great, or Pliny the elder, that the average consumer can’t get. However, I find this is the exception, you can get a great six pack for under $10.  A unique limited release bomber for as little as $5-7. Rarely do you find a sku that breaks the $20 mark for a single unit. That makes even a very special craft beer accessible to the new comer, who wants to try it all like myself. That’s why I love craft beer.

Farm update.

A farm update is long over due. Plenty of things have changed since my last update… Lets see inside the house, A is quite mobile, following us everywhere, interested in pretty much everything she should not be handling, cords, remotes, laptops, and iphones.
The child proofing has begun, but will be an ongoing project as A finds things we have not yet secured. 

Outside the house has been just as exciting. Around sheering time, which we hosted here for the first time, we introduced a few more alpacas to the herd. We are up to 9, which is pushing the number of animals I’d want to have here. It’s not too much for the land, but we don’t have it equitably divided, or shelter in alternate pastures, so it’s one big group for now. We’d ideally divide this into at least 3 paddocks, if not 5, or six, extending the fenced in area down the side of the house towards the lower fences. That is a long way off.

A few months ago we lost 7 chickens to a fox. It was a sunny afternoon, we had let the birds to do their nearly daily roaming, scratching and exploring, which they have enjoyed for the past few years without incident. I look out the window and see a red fox jogging along the side of the house, towards the coop. I immediately ran outside,  there were no birds to be found. I was able to scare off the fox, but that was little reward. 

We spend the remainder of the afternoon searching out the remaining birds. Charlie our rooster survived, two year old young birds, wisely flew up into the windows in the barn, and the solitary Balaclava eventually showed up as well. 7 down, 4 left. We pretty much immediately rushed 3/4′s of a dozen off to incubate in hopes to save the genes of the birds we knew and loved. On a positive note, we had planned on rotating some of the older layers out once the hatches have grown up. This expedites the plan, and was a deeper cull than we had intended, but does prevent us from having to find new homes for two year old birds. As for the replacements, we had already hatched out 4 birds, 2 blue laced reds, 2 aracanas. It turns out one of the blr’s is a rooster, so he’ll need to find a new home. Of the 8 eggs we rushed off to the incubator, only two hatched, and we have yet to identify sex yet. I’m hoping for two more hens, to leave us at a 9 birds, 8 layers. Which would be a good volume for our coop this winter.

We’ve also added a half dozen guinea fowl to the flock. I built a small hutch for them, with the help of Joe. It might be a little too small, after all is said and done, but they now have a home. We placed it on the far side of the barn to hopefully insulate us from the noise of the flock as they can be noisy. Hopefully in a few weeks I can put on the pop door, and allow them freedom to range. 

Lets see what else is new…  This years Csa has been flying by, I’ve put up some pesto, a batch of tomato sauce, one batch of jam, but that’s about it no pickles yet. I suppose we’ve also put up some food for A, beets, summer squash, and carrots. I’ve not really had a lot of time to cook, and with my lack of motivaton it’s been tough using it up each week. When I get home I want to play with A, get her to bed, and relax. This however does not mean we have been skipping the farmers market, we have been regular shoppers there, which often is a highlight of my weekend.

So in a nutshell, a lot of little stuff has changed on the farm, but it remains the same. 

The dark days of winter…

I told Aaron the other night I have a hard time looking at pictures of Abby from November and December. Maybe someday soon I will not, but right now, it’s still a little close in memory. Abby was born weighing 7 lbs 3.5 ounces, and I wanted very much to breastfeed her exclusively. Since she was born over the weekend, the only chance to see the hospital lactation consultant was the Monday of our discharge, and it turns out she called in sick that day. We had told the nursery that I would be breastfeeding, and when she wasn’t with us (some time away so we slept), they brought her to me and the nurses tried, though in brief moments, to show me how to nurse. But it wasn’t their job, so we were left mostly to muddle through.
Getting home, we quickly made an appointment with a nearby Lactation Consultant, who came out, weighed her, showed me some techniques and so on. We set up another visit later in the week to measure progress. Some of these details are now a blur, but in short she wasn’t gaining weight very much early on. She got weighed at home a few times. She never lost more than 10% of her weight, but what she did lose just wasn’t coming back quickly. I talked to people, went to the mom’s group, kept trying things. I went through the weeks of nipple soreness before things started getting better, including using prescribed all purpose nipple ointment (which, by the way, is terrific!!).
Aaron was so diligent in bringing her to me in the middle of the night, so that I could get precious extra moments of sleep. With her, almost always also came a snack and water or drink. I took Fenugreek, ate oatmeal, drank more water. I read websites and books. I worried about it. Her pediatrician had not indicated any immediate concerns, and at one of her subsequent (I think 6 wk) check up, she finally seemed to be headed forward, even though she was still not at her birth weight. I remember calling the LC with the good news that the pediatrician was telling us to keep going. He did however, suggest we make an appointment for her to be checked by the GI to rule out anything else. I did, but it was going to be several weeks away, given the holiday timing. In the meanwhile, I relaxed, and tried to finally just enjoy being with her.
She smiled and cooed, she had wet diapers and pooped that glorious orangy breastfeeding baby poop regularly, and she slept a fair amount. She nursed both sides, for several minutes, sometimes falling asleep at the breast. All of these were seemingly normal baby activities. By this time, I’d started pumping, so that once in a while she was taking bottles of expressed milk as well. Other milk I was freezing in hopes of putting milk away for my return to work.
Pumping was not easy, I’d get anywhere between .5-2 ounces after feeding her or in between feedings. But all the info I had read said this too was normal, that the breastpump wasn’t as good as a baby at expressing the milk and not to measure success by output. It also hurt much more than I’d expected, so I tried different flanges, different intensities, different times. It all seemed about the same. As a new mom, I didn’t have a sense of scale – if this was wrong and how so.
And then came the 3 month check up, about two days before the GI appointment. They stripped her down, and she weighed 7 lbs 5 ounces.
At her 3 month appointment.
She was just 1.5 ounces over her birth weight.
I was crushed by that news, when I knew her peers were weighing in at 9 or more pounds by now. However, the pediatrician still didn’t indicate he saw a problem and to start supplementing. This was unusual, as I’d heard most pediatricians turn to formula pretty quickly. So I was more confused than ever, but I knew this was not right. I spent the next few days very anxiously waiting for the pediatric GI referral.
The doctor listened to what we said, then weighed her, and we sat down to talk. He was not happy with what was going on, and was stopping just short of ordering her hospitalization. We agreed to start to aggressively supplement – after every breastfeeding, we were going to give a bottle of either stored breastmilk or formula. We’d try it for a few days, with a check in call over the weekend, and if it didn’t help her to gain weight, we were going to the hospital.
I wanted to curl into a ball and cry. I still do, now… had she been starving all this time?
We went home, ready to execute the new plan. We started her on Similac organic (which in hindsight was ok, but I’d probably choose a different organic if I had to again) after she’d had access to a full breastfeeding. I read more, and we made an appointment with a new lactation consultant who rented us both a scale and hospital pump. I reviewed feeding and pumping techniques with her. She was very calming, and gave me hope that nursing and breastmilk still had a role to play. I switched to More Milk Special blend caps (from the tea/fenugreek), then ultimately Domperidone. We started weighing her every day. It was early December.
And she started gaining. In fact, in just a few days, in time for the follow up with the GI, she’d put on over half a pound. We were relieved it wasn’t a digestion or metabolism issue. But I felt guilty about how long it’d been going on, how maybe it was something I’d done, or not done. I broke down crying in the new moms group shortly after the GI appointment. It took me a few weeks to at least find some peace with going to supplementing, but it was made so much easier by seeing her gaining weight, starting to catch up to her birth month babies. And I kept at the pumping and feeding so that as I went to work, each day I was able to send her with two to three bottles of breast milk. The most I ever pumped, as a result of multiple 40 minute sessions, was 11 ounces in a day. Most days were closer to 8, just barely enough for the bottles.
It turns out she loved and loves eating. Over the next three months, she zoomed to the top of the weight chart (over 80%), where she remains today. And ever so slowly, around the six month mark, we started weaning – I cut down from three pumpings to two a day at work. I cut one nursing session, then another. She started eating foods, and loved just about everything we gave her (except peas). In a few weeks time, she wasn’t even interested in nursing as she could get whatever she needed from the bottle and food. I was ready too, though I did cherish those last few weeks of nursing the most, and it meant a lot to me to give her the last frozen breastmilk I had stored away… I get little pangs when I hear other moms say they’re still breastfeeding at 9 months, a year, whatever. Or that it’s been easy for them, that formula is evil… in truth, it’s why my daughter is just fine today.
She is the stereotypical chubby baby now, and I just hope those dark days didn’t harm her in some way we’ve yet to see.
In November:


Just recently:
beautiful girl

9 months ago…

Abby is 9 months old today, a beautiful little girl. It has passed quickly, especially since January, when I went back to work. Even harder to believe 9 months ago around this time I was getting ready to go to the hospital, still having no idea of who I was about to meet. This is a recap of her birth, which I wrote shortly after we came home from the hospital.
Sept 25 & 26, 2009
At about 10 on Friday night I started getting contractions, spaced at about 5 minutes and lasting 40-45 seconds. After a quick call to the on call doctor (our second of the day) she thought it was early and we should wait until the pain became much stronger. Around 1, I suggested Aaron go to sleep and I continued to have early labor through the night, sleeping for just over an hour. Walked the house, took two baths, and tried to go on as best I could. I woke Aaron around 6; we timed more and they were down to around 3 minutes, and lasting 50 seconds. The pain was also stronger, though not yet scream worthy. But I was afraid to get there too late also. We decided to go to the hospital. They were not expecting us (we didn’t call the doc in the am) but got me on a monitor and gave her a call. I was at 3.5 cm, the contractions were remaining regular and our doctor admitted us. There was no one else in active labor during the day, so we had the staff basically to ourselves! It was too early for an epidural, so I went to the birth tub and soaked for two hours. That felt great and seemed to help, as my next exam I was at 5 and ok’d for the epidural. We waited just a bit longer, tried out the birthing ball, and then I got the epi around 1:20. I was at 6 by then. The anesthesiologist had to place it twice due to spinal curvature (the epi doc said I have scoliosis which will bother me as I get older), but once it was in, what a difference! I dozed off, and at my next check was told I was at a 9! About an hour later, it was time to push, and up to this point things had gone pretty ideally. I think I got nervous pushing which probably didn’t help.
It took me a while to figure out what to do, and I pushed for what seemed like ages (2.5 hrs). I had my moments of doubting I could do it, but also had moments where I put everything I could into it (including some real screaming/yelling, very rare for me to do anything like that!). By the end though I was growing very tired and out of it so I was getting worried about the delivery but unable to express that well. I saw a lot more people in the room, and recall that Aaron said the baby was almost here, and the dr said were going to use the vacuum. I knew next option after the vacuum was C-section which I didn’t want so I pushed super hard when they turned it on and I think she came out in one push then (but I didn’t know she was a girl yet)! I heard her cry, and started crying uncontrollably myself, as they reassured me she was fine and I was fine. I couldn’t believe somehow I got her out, so I was very relieved about everything. I did require some stitching up but I didn’t care at that point. They brought her over to me (Aaron got to help with the weighing, cord etc) and I finally saw our little girl.

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Abigail Celeste, about 1 hr after her birth