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Monthly Archive for March, 2011

Urban Farm Discoveries

I would like for us to start sharing the trials and tribulations of our growing season with this year’s Front Yard Farm. Nathan and I have learned so much together since we started gardening in this space three years ago. Something we have learned as we go is how to garden as “organically” as possible (I should point out that our soil isn’t qualified organic though all of our seeds this year are) by not using pesticides or chemicals to deter nasty garden spoilers like bugs and diseases.

Every year we are hit by my biggest nemesis – Powdery Mildew! And, we still haven’t quite figured out how to keep it at bay but I’m hoping this year with a little persistence and out reach we might conquer it! Last year we were also ambushed by some crazy buggers called Cutworms. One day we had green bean seedlings sprouting our of our soil strong and proud, and the next day – GONE!

Griffin Yard Farm - one week later

After a little time and digging I discovered that we had cutworms in our soil. Turns out cutworms aren’t worms at all but larvae of certain types of moths and catepillars, and they get their name because in essence they “cut” down growing plants root systems before they ever get the chance to produce. They love snacking on young seedlings! And this is how we went from 16 bean plants to 6 overnight!

Today I went outside for a few minutes to peek at what Nathan has been working on (and can I just say that man oh man I am ready to be able to bend over like a normal person just so I can play in the dirt!). I noticed an oddly shaped bug beneath our bird feeder and exclaimed for Nathan to come over and check it out. He picked it up right away, and it moved! We both were so startled, we screamed and Nathan dropped it! I ran in to get the camera and we snapped a few photos of our find.

Cutworm pupae

Cutworm pupae

Besides looking mostly like Mr. Hanky from Southpark we were curious as to what this odd rollypolly creature was! It was half worm but it also had the outline of wings, and it wiggled. Nathan and I aren’t usually faint of heart when it comes to crawly creatures and dirty things, but this bugger grossed us out! I discovered it was a different form of a cut worm! This guy is of the solitary surface cutworm, and generally destroys one plant at a time right below or near the surface of the soil. He lived throughout winter underground as a larvae, and slowly moves his way up to the surface as spring begins. The worse part is they don’t actually eat the entire plant just parts of it that lead to its destruction, and move on the next and the next throughout the night. Then they turn in to moths.

Bad news is we didn’t know this dude was so terrible when we first found him, and ended up throwing him towards the pigeons (hey they need to eat, too!) but in the compost we were just delivered. I have half a mind to go out there, dig him up, and destroy him but I’m sipping tea at the moment.

The good news is there are ways to combat these cutworms. One method we have already prepared for. If you want to start seedlings early it’s best to grow them in paper wraps (we use toilet paper rolls), so that you can transplant them outside with little contact to the cutworm. They won’t eat through the paper in time, and eventually it will breakdown in to compost in your garden. Another I just read about is to plant a “trap crop” like sunflowers around the perimeter of your garden. I guess cutworms love these, and will gravitate toward the sunflower where you can then find and destroy it. Other ideas are to rotate crops (we already do this), plow your garden in the fall when the larvae are just starting to burrow, and get toads for your garden! Um I love toads but I don’t think our chickens will. Hopefully with a little luck, a few sunflowers, and a lot of seedlings started in paper rolls we will win over the cutworm!

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AJ, wings and tix

Nathan and I went out last night to McFadden’s to meet up with AJ and Logan. Every Wednesday night they have 25 cent wings and $1 drafts. It’s also AJ’s last week in Chicago! I told him last night I almost don’t believe it. Is it time already? He’s gotta get back to California to take care of his little one. Baby Harper is due in less than 3 weeks! How wonderful and exciting for us as best friends to be bringing two little girls in to the world within a month of each other. I can’t wait for their first visit!

AJs last night at McFadden's

It was a great night, and then the city of Chicago slapped us with a $100 parking ticket. Oh, Chicago!

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41 weeks

The good news: Baby is happy and healthy and content where she is. She passed the nonstress test today with flying colors though there were a few hiccups which I’ll get to in a minute. I am up to 3 cm and 100% effaced now. And, we get to wait another couple days to see if she will come on her own.

41 weeks

The other news: My experience at the midwives group today was interesting. I know that while I am seeing midwives they also still work for a hospital, and a rather notable one at that. But I still left somewhat surprised, or maybe in awe by the undeniable truths I have read and now am experiencing. We got to our appointment; I was weighed, gained 1 lb; my blood pressure was taken – it was normal. And, then my belly was strapped to the heart rate monitor. I made sure to eat a good breakfast this morning right before we left for the appointment so that baby girl would be wide awake. But she had other plans, namely sleep.

The nonstress test started out great, but then baby didn’t really want to cooperate anymore. She was ready for a nap. I switched sides, we gave her a jiggle here and there. But her heart rate was steady and restful between 138 and 142. The midwife my appointment was with today is not known for her bedside manner; she is very straight forward, sometimes cold and slightly intimidating. How ironic that we got her for this appointment when I really wanted someone to help me understand my choices. After a while of no change with baby’s heart rate she started dropping the I word. Induction.

“Well, if we don’t see what we need to see today we may send you over to be induced.”
In my head…Induced? Today!? No.
“Let me show the doctors what I have, and then we can decide about induction.”
Doctors? What do you have? How does this show something is wrong? What are the risks? I’m thinking in my head, but all I can do is muster an okay, a few tears, and Nathan and I are left alone to determine our rebuttal.

See this is the thing – There is no current danger to the baby.
Her amniotic fluid is perfect. She does move a lot, but she was sleeping during this test. My blood pressure is fine. And, we are only 7 days over our due date. Nathan and I were slightly surprised and shocked by how often induction came up at this appointment though there was never mention of risk to the baby. Even after my internal exam where I was measured to be at 3 cm and 100% effaced (high five!!) the midwife says, “This looks great! You are progressing amazingly! There is little possibility that you will have a c-section so we can send you over to the hospital today for an induction.”


I mean, come on!? Are you serious? Really?!

Once she left the room Nathan says to me, “Are we really all sheep?”
And, that’s what it felt like. I realized that we really have to listen to how these options are presented to us. It’s not so much telling or a question it’s a statement. And, who is going to argue with a medical professional?

Nathan and I decided that if she came back with word from the doctors that they wanted to set us up to be induced today we were going to ask a lot of questions, and make a few statements of our own. Specifically what are they not seeing on this test? Can I leave, eat something come back and have the test again? (I mention this because I knew baby girl was asleep). What immediate risk is there to the baby if she stays in another few days?

The midwife finally came back in and explained that the test was not showing them what they needed to see, but they were going to bring me some juice to wake her up. I drank an entire can of Hi-C in about 1 minute flat and all of a sudden baby lady was doing cart wheels! Every time she moved and I could hear her heart rate fluctuate I whispered to her that she was such a good girl. And, after it was all said and done we left with the midwife saying that the heart rate sheet looked perfect, and all is well!

Nathan was so awesome during the whole thing, too. Keeping my feet warm, making me laugh, and determining what we should say if we need to push back. Now it’s up to this little one to come on out in the next 6 days! She can do it! I feel like we all might need to start chanting this.

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some things that make me smile

I’m still here!
We have an appointment today. 41 weeks. Hoping for the best.
Just in case you were wondering “the best” in my mind would be, “Yup baby passed the nonstress test! And, look your blood pressure is still normal. You are both fine so wait until Monday. She should be here by this weekend on her own!”

I sometimes get anxiety going in to appointments, and I’m hoping to keep taking deep breaths this morning to keep it at bay.

Planting the First Seeds

Lots has been going on around the Griffin Front Yard Farm the past few days. I’m thinking Nathan wants to write about how awesome his chicken coop is so I will save that surprise for later. We have pepper and broccoli seeds started indoors, moved the raised beds to the front, and were delivered a few cubic yards of yummy smelling compost today! The sun has been out almost every day which we’re hoping is helping to dry up all the clay in the front, but the temperatures have still been mighty cold.

Here are a few photos of our progress. And, can I just mention how impressed I am every day by my husband’s determination and passion? I am. It inspires me beyond words.




Planting some seeds

Planting some seeds

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Baby Update

The past three nights my belly has been consistently hard for hours! I also have an increase in different sensations primarily the baby head butting my cervix (at least that’s what I think it is). But I don’t feel any pain with the hardness so I am guessing that it is just Braxton Hicks still. The odd thing is that it lasts through the night off and on! It’s making sleep much more difficult. Friday night I was up every two hours, and last night I just had to come out and sleep on the couch hoping a change of scenery might help.

Hoping this is a good sign.

Keeping busy…

I made three different batches of cookie dough yesterday! Peanut butter chocolate chip, sugar cookies, and the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever tasted! It’s all in preparation for when we go to the hospital. I thought it would be nice to bring cookies for the nurse team and staff. We were also told by a couple of people that the staff loves when expecting parents do this. And, I like baking.

I just whipped up the three different batters, and froze them for the time being. When we go in to early labor Nathan will pop them out to thaw and throw them in the oven. I might even be able to do that during early labor, too as it still seems rather relaxing to me. Of couse I left enough of each out to make a cookie for Nathan and I to “taste test.” Delicious!

Cookies prepped for hospital staff

Cookies prepped for hospital staff

Cookies prepped for hospital staff

Cookies prepped for hospital staff

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Watch the Sun Come Out

Last night I woke up around 2 am, and for the life of me I could not get back to sleep. I felt anxious, tense, tired in my bones, and sad. I felt the baby kick firmly, and I realized she was still wrapped warm inside of me. I thought she was going to come tonight. I got up, and noticed I was starving. My emotions were all over the place, and I couldn’t pinpoint any one thing that would be causing it. I came out to the couch for a while. Decided to eat a small bowl of cereal, and just sat there in my thoughts. Finally I decided I needed to take some time. I needed to rest. So I decided to start my maternity leave. I texted my dear friend and partner Abigail, wrote a few emails, and tried to find peace in my decision.

I have never not worked. It’s honestly insane to imagine not working. It will be better in the long run for me to have a few days to myself, to Nathan, our home but it feels odd not having baby girl yet since she is the reason for this time away from obligations. Afterwards I tried to get some sleep before Nathan woke up. When he did I started to cry. I was sad to stop working. I took him to work, and then my mom called. I cried like a baby on the phone to her until I felt better, and finally fell into a deep rest for a few hours.

I’ve made a list of things I’d like to do in the next couple of days primarily mopping, baking, cuddling, and sleeping. I went grocery shopping. There was the sweetest cashier and another mom with a little girl named Maggie who wouldn’t stop congratulating me. And, it made me happy. Then I picked up Nathan from work, and we walked down to one of our favorite cafe’s Birchwood. Nathan and I laughed, and ate yummy tomato bisque. I love how he always makes me feel better.

Birchwood cafe
He’s laughing under there I promise.

Birchwood cafe

Birchwood cafe

Birchwood cafe

As we walked back from the cafe I noticed all the tulips and daffodils peeking their heads out from the ground. Life is changing all around me. I’ve just got to remember to dance along with it.

Officially 40 weeks

40 Weeks Pregnant

I honestly do not think it’s hit me that I am 40 weeks. I know I could go in to labor any minute, and everyone keeps reminding me. But I am so humbled by this journey, and the fact that together Nathan and I have created another human being. I have nourished her for so long now, and I keep reminding her that I will feed her real good when she comes out (I think she’s hanging out in there in hopes I get another cheese cake craving). Our daughter will be here soon. I know Nathan and I both can’t wait to share the world with her.

As of my 40 week appointment I am 2 cm, about 100% effaced, and baby is still at -2. I’m honestly trying not to think about next Wednesday’s scheduled non stress test if she doesn’t come before then. But I will admit that while I’m patient for her to come on her own time, I do want to avoid medical induction as much as possible. So I picked up some red raspberry tea today, have been taking Evening Prim Rose Oil and Nathan and I tried accupressure last night. Other than that I’m keeping active, and getting anxious for baby girl and spring. Our house has been buzzing with energy lately, and I am really happy that I’ve had such positive things to concentrate on.

I’m one lucky lady.
Ps. I thought I would take the 40 week photo in the same place I took my first weekly photo. Look at how we’ve grown!

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If you build it, they will come

Buy bird seed
Put up feeder

Two things off my list. Now all we need are some birds.

Our birds are hungry (for votes)

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