Well, what have we been up to lately? Seems like a lot! I feel like more often than not the last week or so we have been out of the house more than we’ve been in it!
Last weekend my brother got married, so we had some out of town family in for that. We got to spend some time with my grandma Linda and grandpa John, who saw Bean when she was about a day old.
We took another trip to the aquarium with them, since it was too hot to spend time outside. Bean loved it.
A New Beanmobile
The day we went to the aquarium I found myself crawling over the front passenger seat of my car to wrestle the stroller into the back seat because someone had parked too closely to me in the parking lot and the trunk had the baby’s wagon in it, and I decided then and there that it was time to get a bigger car. (I drive a Honda Accord.) I thought initially that we would trade in my car for something larger, since it still has a lot of value in it and that way we’d still only have one car payment, but when we mentioned this to Cameron’s dad and stepmom, they graciously offered to front us some cash to buy a car outright, then sell Cameron’s car so he would drive the Honda and I would drive the new car. We spent the weekend poking around on Craigslist and looking up car reviews. Finally, frustrated with the fact that nobody online seemed to be willing to respond in a timely manner to my inquiries about buying their cars, I popped onto a used dealership that has locations all over the place and immediately spotted a 2009 Dodge Caliber for an insanely good price considering it only had 63,000 miles on it. We jumped in the car and headed down to Park Meadows to look at it. It’s in practically perfect condition and we really liked it so we signed it that afternoon.
Here’s the catch though…it’s a standard. And can you guess who doesn’t know how to drive a standard? If you guessed ME, you’d be right. So, so far I’ve only driven my new car a couple of times under supervision while Cameron teaches me how to drive it. I think it’s going pretty well all things considered! I may even brave a trip to the store this afternoon. (In hindsight, that’s the reason it was so cheap. But I’m happy we got a good deal on it even if it is a manual.)
‘Tis the season for ren faire! We’ve taken Bean to the festival twice now and she has a ball. I dressed up her wagon to look like a carriage and she is without a doubt the cutest thing that has ever happened to the faire. Nobody even notices me and my parents in our (cough) thousands of dollars worth of garb because everyone is staring at the baby. I guess that’s okay though.
The temps lately have been in the high 80s and low 90s which is a bit brutal, so I try to avoid taking the baby outside in the middle of the day if I can help it. We go for our walks either early in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler. In between, we steal free air conditioning at the mall or hang out in the basement and watch tv. I say “watch tv” loosely, because we don’t have cable so really we’re watching dvds or Netflix. And when I say watching dvds or Netflix I mean Disney movies or documentaries. I know screen time is supposed to be discouraged at this age, but I honestly have no problem whatsoever with Disney or documentaries. I’m not plopping her down in front of the tv alone so I can go do something else, we always watch together, and I’m comfortable with her watching these programs rather than cartoons.
Plus, this way I get to learn stuff too. This week we have been watching “Blue Planet” which is about the oceans. I may have a future marine biologist on my hands.
Maybe it’s because we’ve been keeping busy and have been out and about so frequently, maybe it’s because she’s not teething right now, or maybe it’s because she’s just figuring it out finally, but sleep has been great lately. She’s had 3 nights in the last week where she slept straight through the night! If she doesn’t sleep all the way through, she only gets up once, has a small bottle, and falls right back to sleep. It’s been awesome.
I definitely don’t consider myself a bargain hunting queen or a master of the thrift shop finds…hell, I haven’t even clipped a coupon since I helped my mom do it every Sunday as a kid. Sure, I buy in bulk and check out sales when I need something expensive, but I’m definitely not one of those wonder people who manage to find a priceless one of a kind Picasso in a thrift store behind a matte print.
There are some things, though, that I typically hate to buy new and spend full price on, so I go out of my way to buy second hand. And by some things, I mean practically all baby items.
Sure, diapers and wipes and bottles and small toys, whatever. If I see a cute outfit on the rack at Kohls on sale, I’ll snag it. But I definitely prefer to buy most or her clothing and large toys used. The nice thing about baby items is that unless it’s been handed down for five children, chances are it was used only for a short time, so damage tends to be minimal. And unless we’re in a desperate pinch–like the time we bought a brand new swing at full price because we were desperate for the baby to sleep–I spend a little time shopping around for a good used one.
Did I mention the baby swing was used for two weeks and has been gathering dust in the basement since? Yeah.
Anyway, enter my two fantastic steals. I started poking around on Craigslist for a used wagon for the baby, since strollers are pretty difficult to navigate on the grounds of the renaissance festival. I was hoping for one with a canopy on it, but would settle for one without and rig up an umbrella if I had to. I finally jumped on one that was being sold not too far away for $40. (A new Radio Flyer without a canopy costs nearly $100.) On Friday I went to pick it up and when I got there, the lady selling it hands me a canvas bag with all the pieces to the canopy. Say whaaaaat. She didn’t even mention in the ad that it had the canopy with it, so I basically robbed this lady blind over this wagon. Best deal ever.
To join in the World Cup fun: scoooooooooore!
And steal number two. Yesterday we went for a walk around the complex and came upon a perfect Cozy Coupe left next to one of the dumpsters. Uh, hello. I was going to get one for the Bean for Christmas, but apparently Christmas came early. We looked around to make sure there were no kids nearby who might have just left it in an unfortunate place, but since there was no one around and the thing was sitting in the dumpster enclosure, we took it. It appears to have nothing wrong with it whatsoever except for the stickers which are peeling, but other than that it’s basically brand new. The Bean is still on the small side for it, so it may be a month or two until we can tool her around in it, but even so, hot diggity! The only thing better than getting a good deal is getting it for FREE.
Oh, and, speaking of the wagon and ren faire…
(Okay so the one of me has nothing to do with the wagon or its contents, but I felt like sharing anyway.)
Well, I normally use that chalkboard to write what month we are at as well as the date…but the Bean had other plans for it this month. As soon as I set it down in front of her she grabbed it and rubbed all the writing off. Oh well!
We had a lot going on this month with the Bean! She now sits up on her own, eats basically everything I give her, started chewing real food, has 2 teeth now, and has started saying consistent sounds that seem to be actual concerted efforts at words. We’ve even heard what we think might have been attempts at “hi,” “kitty” (though it came out “tikky”), and maybe, possibly, even “daddy.”
I’m happy to say that the un-swaddling effort seems to be going without much of a hitch. When she’s not teething, she sleeps pretty solidly even for nap times. When she is teething, well, that’s a completely different story, but I guess that’s just part of the package.
I try to give her 2 “meals” a day now, as well as snackies in between bottles. I’m not full-on baby-led weaning (I don’t think) but if I see something on our plates that I think she could handle, I give it to her. Tater tots, beans, small bites of frozen yogurt…she eats pretty much anything and everything. This morning she tried orange juice for the first time and she didn’t even bat an eye at the taste. She loves the yogurt bite treats and apple-sweet potato crunchies from Gerber Graduates. In the mornings I try to give her pieces of fruit, strawberries or blueberries, along with some yogurt, and she snarfs it all. She even likes hummus! I’m so thrilled that I appear to have a baby who enjoys food. She still drinks 4 bottles a day plus usually one overnight, but I’ve noticed that with the addition of the solids she doesn’t appear to be as hungry for as much formula as she used to, which is good because that makes it last a little longer. She can sort of feed herself, but usually I put it in her mouth for her just to keep the mess to a minimum. She is still working on the pincer grip but usually she grabs the food with her fist and then tries to shove her fist in her mouth. So, still a work in progress obviously. We are still working on getting her to hold her own bottle too. (Yesterday we left one of her bottles with handles at a restaurant and I’m super annoyed.) She gets the idea but the application isn’t quite there yet.
If you read my last post you recall that I was fighting with her teeth. She popped one a few days after Mother’s Day and I didn’t even notice. Seriously. I happened to peek in her mouth and there it was. The one right next to it was a completely different story, oh lord. That thing sat right under the skin of her gum for weeks. It finally popped about a week ago, or I’m assuming that’s when it happened anyway because the poor thing was up all night screaming her head off. The next day was totally different and the tooth was out. Yay! My mom estimates that the top center teeth are about 2-3 weeks away. Guess I’ll enjoy the tooth-free time while I can.
She loves getting out of the house and hanging out with us. I take her to the park almost daily (though it depends on her nap schedule, if she gets up too late I don’t take her out because it’s just too hot). She can sit in the front part of a shopping cart now which makes my life massively easier in terms of shopping. We’ve gone to the mall, the art museum, a chalk art festival in downtown, a Memorial Day service at the local cemetery, pretty much everywhere we go she is down. She loves hanging in her stroller and is good in the car…usually. Next weekend the Colorado Renaissance Festival opens, and I’m in the process of hunting down a used wagon for her so that I can transform it into a carriage and trundle her around the faire site. (It’s too uphill and bumpy for the stroller and I’m not carrying her all day.) At least she is ready for the faire!
She loves her kitties. The best way I’ve found to entertain her recently is put two piles of catnip in front of her. The cats come running and she laughs and laughs at them. Sure, the cats are stoned all day long, but it gives me a few minutes to get a couple things done while she is entertained. On that note, she really is pretty independent and definitely doesn’t require my attention all the time, which I’m grateful for. Now that she can sit up, I can put her on the floor or in her playpen with her toys all around her and she will entertain herself for a while. In her bath, as long as she has her wind-up toys, she will stay quiet for twenty minutes while she tries to figure it out. She is curious and loves to explore and observe. She is obviously a hands-on learner and loves new textures and sounds. Anything that rattles or crinkles has her full attention, so tins with snacks in them and pieces of paper are super handy. She sits in the grass feeling it with her toes which is super adorable. I’m going to be making up some sensory play toys soon because she really likes feeling different things. She loves music too, and she bangs away all day on her little piano and her guitar.
She isn’t too interested in trying to crawl yet, and still usually gets pretty annoyed when I put her on her belly if it isn’t to sleep. On the one hand I’m okay with this because I have a lot of baby proofing to do when it finally happens and I haven’t figured that out yet, but on the other hand I start worrying she’s falling behind when in 1 outing 3 strangers in a store ask me if she’s crawling yet. I know every baby is different and some don’t crawl at all, it’s just one of those paranoid mommy things I guess.
One thing everybody does comment on, however, is how happy she is. And it’s true! I have one happy baby. She smiles and laughs at just about everything now and generally is just one easy-going gal. I feel like if she were an adult, she’d be that friend of yours who is down for anything at anytime because really, she’s just happy to be here.
This last weekend, Caroline and I (and my parents) went to Santa Fe. It was a very much-needed escape from Estes Park. Cameron had to stay behind to get his store opened back up, but since he was busy and there was a road out of town, I figured I would take advantage of it and got out of dodge.
The reasoning was mostly emotional. The last week had been such a wild roller coaster that I really needed a break. I have, just like everyone else up here, been going through a sort of grieving process after the floods. Nobody here was left unaffected in some way, whether big or small. I saw so many people going through the different stages of grieving last week and it was getting hard for me to handle because I still wasn’t coping myself. Town is opening back up and people are getting back to “normal” but there’s still a LOT of people who are displaced, without running water, electricity, phones, their houses…it’s a lot going on. Cameron’s Starbucks reopened on Saturday, which I think will be a help to a lot of people because it allows them a place to be if they need some normalcy. Anyway, after last week I was emotionally wrecked and exhausted and when the opportunity to get out presented itself, I took it.
My parents and I go to Santa Fe every September to attend the yearly renaissance festival there, so that was the primary motivation for the trip. I was hoping to be able to go to the faire both days as is the norm, but I found out pretty early on Saturday that it just wasn’t going to happen. My endurance in the last few weeks has really tanked, probably another side effect of all the emotional upheaval I’ve gone through lately. By 11 that morning my feet were just killing me and I was not doing great in the heat (even though it was only in the low 70s). I actually went back to the hotel around 2 and had to lie down and go back to pick up my parents later. It was just harder than I thought it would be, so clearly I under-estimated this whole eight-months-pregnant thing!
Sunday I opted not to go back to the faire because I was really concerned about overdoing it especially being so far from home. (It’s about a 5 1/2 hour drive from Santa Fe to my parents’ house, and now because of the roads, another 2 1/2 hours to Estes.) I took my parents back to the faire and then spent the rest of the morning on the old town plaza. If you’re not in the know, Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the country, and some of the buildings there date back 400 years. So it’s pretty neat if you’re a history nerd like myself. I spent some time in the Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum where I was really intrigued by a display called “tesoro de devocion/treasures of devotion” and it was full of sculptures and paintings of Jesus and other important Catholic figures done by Hispanic/Spanish artists all the way back into the 1500s. I’m not religious at all but the mythology of religion at large interests me, so it was cool to see a different spin on the traditional Christian figures. After that I walked over to the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi and the Loretto Chapel. Again, not religious, but church architecture amazes me and the Loretto is sort of the holy grail of amazing design. Inside this (relatively) small chapel is this spiral staircase that they call the “Miraculous” staircase. Basic rundown of this story, in the late 1870s there was no way for the sisters to climb from the chapel up into the loft, so they put out a call for a carpenter to come and build them a staircase. No one came, so finally in desperation they did a novena (or however that goes, my knowledge of Christian rituals is fairly limited) and on the last day of the novena, a carpenter arrived with nothing but his tool belt and a donkey. He proceeded to build this amazingly beautiful spiral staircase without a single piece of “hardware”, no nails, nothing. It makes 3 360 degree turns seemingly without any support whatsoever. He refused any offer of payment and when he was finished, he left without a word. Naturally I’m sure you can see where the idea of the “miraculous” comes in, and the whole thing really is spectacular however it came to be built. The railings have since been added because the sisters were afraid to walk up it without them, and today it is only used for photo ops for weddings and things like that, and the chapel itself is similarly only used for weddings and special services, which allows it to stay in pretty pristine condition for being well over 200 years old. It was pretty remarkable.
I spent the rest of the day taking advantage of the WalMart there, since Cameron needed some new shoes and unless we order things it could be weeks until we get down the hill again. I ended up picking up a few pairs of leggings (thank you thank you thank you fashion gods for deciding leggings are still popular) since it has been quite chilly at home and I needed something warmer than skirts. I also went to Home Depot and bought another sump pump, since it would be stupid not to have a backup (ours has still been running constantly for nearly 2 weeks) and I’m pretty sure no one in Colorado has any right now (again, unless we order it we’d have to wait to go get it anyway) it seemed like a good time to take advantage of the opportunity. Monday morning we packed up the hotel room, had breakfast, and went back up to the plaza to visit 2 of my parents’ favorite stores, a Christmas shop and a super-hippie store, neither of which I’d ever been to. I picked up a couple doodads at the Christmas store and a bumper sticker at the hippie store that reads “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” (Every year my parents bring me back a good one; the last few years it’s been the quote “Well-behaved women rarely make history” or whatever the actual quote is, I think I might be paraphrasing that.) Anyhoo, after that we headed up north. The ride back was a lot more uncomfortable than it was going down, I think in large part to Caroline shifting down lower than normal. I also think the leggings I was wearing were a little too tight because by the time we got home my feet looked like massive sausages…
I waited till this morning to come back to Estes since the drive is so long these days. It meant leaving really early so I could get to work at a semi-decent time, but it’s good to be home, or at least in the same location as my husband. I’m not necessarily crazy about being here still, but it’s with him and that’s good enough for me. I pretty much came straight to work, so I still have to unpack and go to the laundromat (because of the sump pump our washer is still out of commission, since we don’t want to overload the pipes) and go grocery shopping after work today. So much for vacation right? Maybe if I’m lucky today I will get some writing done before I totally poop out. I have to go back down on Saturday for my baby shower, though it seems with the floods the majority of the people (who are in Estes) won’t be able to come, so it looks like it will be a pretty small affair, more family than anything. I think I’ll be staying down there since nearly 6 hours of driving in one day to attend a 3-hour party sounds lousy, but Cameron will probably come down Sunday to watch football with us and then we can caravan back home together that afternoon. Having to take such a circuitous route out of Estes is going to get really old really fast, so I hope some other route might open up soon…the earliest we’ve heard for Highway 36 is December 1, and I doubt we’ll be going anywhere at that point no matter how long it takes to get there.
But at least for the time being, I have this outside my window….
Woohoo, a non-pregnancy-related post! Instead, gratuitous photos. Of myself. Yay!
This weekend, the Colorado Renaissance Festival opens. We’re going down for our first of hopefully many visits this year. You might think Ren Faire is a pretty geeky way to spend a day at what is basically a giant over-priced outdoor shopping mall full of weirdos in costumes and food on sticks. And it is, sort of. But for many of us weirdos out there, ren faire is a lifestyle. When you’re a rennie you do things like shop for “normal” clothing and don’t buy anything unless it could potentially do double duty at faire. You know how to undress in your car in a dusty parking lot and change into garb without anyone ever seeing a shred of skin. You know what “bodicegasm” and “kilt check” mean. There are many qualifiers in the “you know you’re a rennie when” game and I’m sure I coincide with way more of them than I’d actually care to admit when it came right down to it, but whatever.
Ren has been an amazing part of my life since I was 12. I have met some of the most amazing people at ren. 3 out of my 4 bridesmaids I met at faire. I have met some pretty rotten people too, but that happens wherever you go, so you have to learn to take that with a grain of sand. I have gotten to travel to new and interesting places around the country just to go to a ren faire. I have collected more favors from friends I have met throughout the years than can now fit all at once on my hat. I have had the opportunity to perform and try different characters and make some people very happy. And I can’t wait to start bringing my kids to this world. It really is more than the costumes and food and music and atmosphere. It is, like I said, a lifestyle.
This is the only picture I can find on my hard drive of my first trip to Ren. I know I have a whole roll of photos somewhere from this trip that I will have to find some day.
I was hooked enough to go for the costume the next year. I think it’s fascinating to watch the progression of garb (read: the money I spent) as the years go by.
As you can see, I rocked the fairy look for a couple of years: (I think this one was 2004) Ironically, about 5 years later I would come back to this very same spot and do a fairy shoot with some friends, I’ll post those later.
2005 was the year I started working at the faire and the real obsession began.
2006, the year I graduated high school:
I can only find a handful of photos from 2007, which is okay because I had come back from my first year of college 30 pounds heavier (no joke) and so none of them are particularly flattering. So we’ll skip to the next year, which is when my pirate character, Zoë, started to take shape. See that gold corset, by the way? I spent the entire year previous paying that sucker off with tips. 2008 was a big year for me. I spent that summer working at ren faire and at Elitches, the local amusement park, on the entertainment crew. It was also the year I moved into my first apartment. It was an exciting summer to spend at ren faire but it was also exhausting.
2008 was also the first year of the Santa Fe renaissance festival, which has to this day been my favorite faire ever. I took my pirate character there and got to play around for 2 days and it was just spectacular.
In 2009 my whole family traveled to the Arizona ren faire in February. It wasn’t the first time I’d gone to a big faire (Santa Fe is quite small) outside of Colorado, I’d gone to one of the faires in New York in 2006, but it was the first time where I got to meet people from the ren enthusiasts’ online forum, where I’d been an active member for several years.
Back at Colorado, 2009 was another exciting year. I was made supervisor at my booth and I worked with some great people. I started dancing this year, and I was feeling very good. I even had a [short-lived] romance this summer. I can always tell when the summer was particularly good, because there are a lot of pictures. I probably have more pictures from 2009 than any other year.
2009 was the year I introduced my fairy character, Fritzie. She was born out of a photo shoot done with a very good friend of mine, Charlotte, who is (the best, if I may say so) face painter at the faire.
(In this picture I’m standing on the exact same chain I was sitting on in the picture from 2004.)
Later that year I took Fritzie to the Santa Fe faire too.
Also that year, I went to the Maryland Faire for the first time, for a gathering of the online community called Rendezvous. I am still longing to go back to that faire. (Luckily, a few friends are about to move to Baltimore, which may mean I’ll have an excuse to visit in a few years.)
2010 was the year that things started to peter down for faire in a weird way. For me, a big part of it was that it was the year I met Cameron, and I was definitely no longer using faire as a potential place to flirt and find romances. Many of the great girls I had worked with for so many years were also starting to work in the beer booths and I didn’t see them as much. We did attend Arizona in the spring and Santa Fe in the fall. But like I said, the number of pictures I have of a particular year is an indicator of how good the year was–and I have very slim pickins as far as that year goes. Also, early this particular year, I had a very upsetting falling out with someone with whom I had previously been very good friends with through faire, and due to the fact that it had to do with a very unwelcome sexual advance that took place at faire, it put a very bad taste in my mouth for me and I found myself not enjoying it as much as I always had. It took me a really long time to come back from that one.
In 2011, I returned to work at faire very much at the last minute. I had just graduated college and had moved in with Cameron, and I had hoped to be working full time before the faire started. That didn’t happen, and so I called my boss the weekend before faire opened and begged for a job. Not only did he give me a job, but he gave me a job as a beer wench, which makes you a ton of money. So it ended up being okay in the long run, though I hated being away from home every weekend for two months. (Faire was too far away from our place in Fort Collins to drive back and forth each night, so I stayed with my parents halfway during the weekends. I had done that for several years, but it was different now that I was living with Cameron.) I missed Santa Fe that year due to work conflicts and though we had made plans to go to Scarborough, a big faire in Texas, the plan fell through literally within hours of departure. I still haven’t been.
2012 was a much more exciting year because for the first time, I did not work the faire and just got to go to play. (Though I was roped into working a couple days)
I also made it back to Santa Fe, just a few weeks before the wedding.
So, as you can see, there has been A LOT of change in many ways over the years, and through it all ren faire has sort of been this thread that weaves itself in and out. I love it. I spent most of the morning going through my garb to make sure everything was clean and didn’t need repair. Best of all, Cameron is coming along tomorrow. He’s only been once, a year that I was working, and it was a bit of a culture shock for him, so tomorrow he’ll get the real insider’s experience. And, because he has no excuse not to wear his kilt, we’re going to get him a few more pieces to his garb so that he doesn’t look like a total outsider. 😀 I know this year will be different, with the pregnancy, and I’ll have to be more careful with the heat and dehydration, but I still couldn’t be more excited.
Oh, and for the record, my parents do faire too. And they are fucking fabulous. That’s them in the Santa Fe photo with me above. They even get to walk in the parade.