Category Archives: It takes a village

Kimchi and company

My phone is dead so here is a picture of someone else’s kimchi.

So I’ve been on the fence about most of the meet-up gatherings I have attended. To clarify, meetup.com is a website where folks can create groups and gatherings (meet-ups) around any kind of topic, interest, motivation you can imagine. Not surprisingly, there are lots of moms meet ups, because, let’s face it: it can be lonely without a good network of friends who also are home with their kids, and it can be hard to find friends in a new place. More here on my saga in that regard. I’ve gone to a couple of local mom group meet ups and found them tolerable, even mildly enjoyable, but in the end, they’re an inorganic and forced way of finding people to spend time with. But finally I think I have come across a group where I feel comfortable and can do genuinely interesting things with other moms.

The group is about a half-hour away, but in a neighborhood on our target for our move next summer. And the group has a definite bias toward attachment parenting style, so the cloth diapers and breastfeeding and baby sleeping in my bed are all things no one there is at all surprised by. (You can’t really commisserate about the challenge of getting a good sleep with your little one under your arm with folks whose answer will be “so sleep train!” or about nursing a wiggly almost-9-month-old to folks who think you’re odd to be still nursing at all.)

The first gathering that fell on a day I could join was today – a get-together to attempt making kimchi. Five moms attended, along with about nine little ones. A couple of women had already chopped and brined overnight a significant quantity of napa cabbage. Together, we chopped shallots, green onions, garlic, ginger, and carrots. And in big mixing bowls we each combined ingredients for a total of about (i’m guessing here) 3 gallons of kimchi, divided into jars of various sizes for us to divide up and take home. Those who contributed more supplies took home more, but even those of us (me) who came with only green onions and some apples and peanut butter for snacks got a couple of jars. I can’t wait to try it – it smelled insanely good in preparation.

While we worked together the kids played, and it was easy to step away from a task to nurse or play. Most of us had a baby in a carrier for all or some of the morning. Del played on the floor and later fell asleep in the mei tai on my back. Conversation was comfortable. I felt like these were moms I would want to see again.

In fact, we all felt that way. And made plans to meet every two weeks for some kind of productive cooking project – baking bread, canning fall produce, making some bulk meals to take home and freeze. Or, as my friend Kristi put it: better living through hippies. Hear! Hear!


Del meets his G.G.!

Our recent trip to Tulsa put us just a couple of hours away from my grandmother’s home in Oklahoma City. Though Grammy doesn’t like driving by herself, she braved the turnpike and drove up to Tulsa, where she spent the weekend with her long-time friends who live there, and we got to be together for two lovely afternoons. It was her first time to meet Del! He’s so lucky to have a great-grandmother on both sides of his family. I love these pictures of Del with his G.G.

 


Maybe you want to read something else?

Part of the delight of the annual blogathon is coming across other blogs by writers you really enjoy. I know I will like a blog when I find both the content and the writer’s unique voice suit my taste – that is as indivually governed as choosing friends, so just because I like it doesn’t mean you will. But, it never hurts to introduce your friends to your other friends, so readers, here are a couple of writers I’m enjoying these days.

Aubergine

Doña of Aubergine

Ok, I admit I just like saying “aubergine”. And I like reading the warm, relaxed and writerly musings of Doña Bumgarner. Her “About Me” says a lot: “Doña Bumgarner is a freelance writer, artist, photographer and mama who lives on the central coast of California with her family. This blog is where she writes about her journey into new mamahood at the age of 38 and learning how to weave her old self with the new one. She has been a maker of stuff since her first watercolor class at age 8. She believes there is good energy in things made from scratch and that the smell of baby heads and freshly-made bread are possibly the best things in the world.”

A few posts I’ve recently enjoyed include how to spring clean your life (can be applied to any season, so don’t wait!), and her post on things she said she’d never do as a parent, which has a particular resonance in light of the Ann’s recent post about Elmo, and my new committment to being completely honest about parenthood in this blog. Doña is also a writer and artist, and her posts on writing are really inspiring and practical. I look forward to following for a long time to come.

Mamahhh

Jennifer Derryberry Mann is a mom and yoga instructor who focuses her practice on helping expectant and new moms ease into the postures of motherhood. Her description of Mamahhh is inviting: “a meditation on self-care for the wondrous, winding journey through the labyrinth of motherhood. The blog has a simple yet profound purpose: It’s a daily reminder to {breathe, mama}. Through the amazing moments and the awkward ones, and in times both sublime and stressful, there’s nothing quite like a sweet deep breath to bring you into the marrow of the present moment.”

The marrow of my present moment: I am wearing a skirt and nursing bra because my beautiful boy spit up on me as I held him; he’s now cooing happily on the floor, locked in a contest between his left hand and his right over which will carry the teething ring to his mouth; the fan hums in the window and my fingers click away at my keyboard. It’s a good moment. *breathe*

I have particularly enjoyed Jennifer’s persuasive invitations to practice self-care as part of sane parenting. It’s a series of posts which are almost self-care in and of themselves, but I’m sure Jennifer would agree that the best self-cre (no matter how much you enjoy writing) takes place away from screens. Her web design is also beautiful, and she includes Karen Mazen Miller in her list of favorite blogs. *loves*

Speaking of moments: while I finished this post, my baby rolled from back to tummy for the first time. He learned tummy to back a few days ago. What a day!


It takes a village, part two

Women in construction. image from ecobuildingtrends.com

Villages are not built overnight.

My attempts to rapidly fabricate a village in our new town have been a kind of tragicomedy which you can possibly only appreciate when you’ve felt the happy desperation that is being a stay at home mom. (Happy because instead of working somewhere you’re home taking care of this infinitely adorable little person/desperate because some days you just HAVE to talk to someone else or go somewhere before you collapse in an angry, weeping heap.)

I started with a few google searches: moms’ groups in gaithersburg, new moms montgomery county, etc. Found a few leads but nothing much was coming up. A children’s consignment shop about an hour from here was having a baby sign language class, and that inspired me to search for baby sign language in my area. I found something – classes taught nearby! Awesome. But no… the last time a class was held was in 2009. Further digging revealed this teacher lives an hour away and only does private classes now. Continue reading