On The Road…To Change

The other night I went to an awesome event through an organization called Zaarly. It was a group of local venders who started their own businesses and followed their passion. In talking with one gal, she gestured to Tiny Beast, and noted, “This is why I do this. I wanted to spend more time with my little one”. It struck a chord with me.

I love my normal job, and I don’t want to let that go. I help manage a program that helps people lose weight, quit smoking, increase their physical activity and manage their stress. It’s an awesome program that combines wellness with realistic behavior change. My employees are awesome, and my peers are amazing. I can’t see myself leaving that any time soon.

Having Tiny Beast made me want to do more than just a 9-5. I want to create more, and show her the world of cooking and crafts. I want to have the option of doing something creative that is profitable. I think I also miss doing art events and shows.  I love providing feedback on databases and writing trainings, but I can’t put glitter on them (hmmm…maybe I just thought of a new training method).

I have the resources-I have an entire craft studio that is floor to ceiling, wall to wall goodies just waiting for me to make something. I have the ability to whip up yummy dishes, and can come up with recipes pretty quickly. I also make delicious pickles. Seriously. Those things are crazy good.

All this to say, I am venturing out to start my own tiny business-selling my pickles and jams. It’s definitely not going to be anything that allows me to get wealthy, but it should be enough for some extra spending cash, and help to keep me doing creative things-fun craft classes anyone?  It’s also great as it’s something I can do on the weekends and after work, with a kid strapped to me. I already know where to get local produce to support local farmers. I can give back and do something I like.

I am still working on the business model, logo and all the things that go in to taking a hobby into something bigger. I have been lucky to get feedback on my products from friends and family, so I know what I need to change (luckily it’s not much). Who knows if it will actually succeed, but for now, the idea makes me super happy.

It also gets me closer to my ultimate goal of having a Bed and Breakfast. Ok, so it’s a long way to that goal, but one step at a time.

For those of you who have taken a big leap and done something for yourself, or started your own business; what helped you to do that? What advice would you give? And how has it been?

Yours in crafty goodness!

Tiny Beast Hits the Road

We had a camping road trip!  Okay, so it was an hour and a half away and in a cabin, but the cabin didn’t have a bathroom and that’s like camping, right?

Since Tiny Beast is on an oxymeter when she sleeps, and uses a pump for feedings, we needed to stay somewhere with power. I didn’t want to stay in a hotel, so we opted for a cabin at Cama Beach on Camano Island. I love this place-it’s quiet, there’s no cars allowed, it’s right on the water, too. Seriously-if you’re skilled, you can spit on the water from your front porch. If you’re not, well, then you just drooled on yourself.

The first night was lovely-so quiet, with just a couple of fellow vacationers. We unpacked and sat at the table in front of our cabin with a glass of wine and just relaxed. It was amazing. We woke Tiny Beast up and had her out of her car seat. She didn’t seem amused…
That night, we slept pretty well-a rarity for us lately. During pumping sessions, I was able to look outside and catch glimpses of critters on the water in the moonlight. The next morning, we watch seals and otters play in the water, and eagles soar overhead. It was lovely!  We ventured out to find wine tasting, only to find that most small businesses that we would want to visit had closed. We spent much of the day driving around aimlessly. Had we not done that, I would never have seen the awesome collection of Beyonce’s-not sure why a giant metal rooster thing is called Beyonce? Read this.
Once we got back to the cabin, we found that dozens of screaming children had come to our peaceful resort. There may have been hundreds, if not thousands of kids based on the amount of noise. Nick assures me it was less than 50.  We made dinner and had a happy hour by the water, hoping that eventually the kids would simmer down. 

We would spend the night trying to figure out why they were sneaking around like crappy ninjas, and asking them to shut up (initially, nicely). They would stop screaming at 3 am, only to start up again at 5:30.  Down side? We didn’t sleep. Upside? The park staff felt so bad, that they refunded our payment for both nights. That was awesome, and super appreciated. 
Since the hordes of screaming children had no intention of stopping, we decided to head to the next park-Camano Island State Park and then slowly made our way home. 

It was a great first vacation with Tiny Beast, and it was great to find out that we could actually get out of the house and on the road. Her food pump has a battery back-up, and we were able to use the car power adapter for my pump. Sure it takes a little more planning, but you can’t beat a good family outing and getting to see your kiddo take in new sights. Not bad at all. 
Now, to find more baby friendly places so I can keep this Tiny Beast on the road with me!

Man, I made a cute kid!

Seriously. Tiny Beast is adorable.

In the last blog, I mentioned that we did a photo shoot with Izzy. I debated back and forth whether to keep the ng tube in for the shoot, or to schedule it for a day when we would be changing it out, so I could see her full face, unobstructed. I opted to go with the latter. I have so many pictures of her with her tube, and even though that tube makes up part of who she is, I wanted a few with just her.  I never lose sight of how beautiful she is, but it sure was nice to see her without the tube.  I love her round cheeks and big bright eyes that look up to me during the day.

 And OH! she makes me laugh. Quite often, unintentionally. She’s recently figured out she can stick her finger in her nose. Without her tube, she can cram both of them up there. Yep. My kid has skills.

 I look at her mischievous little smirks, and I know that in a few years I’m screwed. She has us wrapped around her little finger and she’s a smart cookie already. I wonder what shenanigans she’ll get into.

 I love how she will always rest well in my arms. I’ll snuggle the daylights out of her, as long as she will let me. I know this phase will be gone before I know it.

She also is a patient little beast, letting me put tiny hats with fluffy ears on her. My heart melts when I look at this picture!

Tiny Beast just sits and observes between naps. She wants to see as many things as possible, and will just stare intently at you.

Every day I am so grateful for her, and the time off from work. She is an amazing, strong, silly little girl and I can’t wait to see her grow and change. Even in the two weeks since these were taken, she has grown so much. She looks more and more like her Daddy and less and less like a grumpy old man. It’s hard knowing her teeth will be here soon, and that cute gummy smile will disappear and that with each passing day, she’ll need me less and less.

Luckily, this won’t happen for a little while. It also means I have done my job well.  To you, Tiny Beast.  May all of your tiny dreams come true.  And to you, Dear Reader, may you find your happiness!

Tiny Turns Two

Tiny Beast is two months!  TWO!  The time has been flying by, and I’m already 2/3 through my leave. There really isn’t enough time that I could spend with her.

She’s getting so big, so fast. At her 8 week appointment, she was just over 24 inches tall, and almost 11.5 pounds. She’s happiest when she’s standing, and has found her hands and the art on the walls to be much more exciting than eating. She plays and coos and smiles at us and is just an amazing kid. She screams like a howler monkey and farts like a trucker, and she’s everything I could ever want in a daughter.

We sit together and snuggle between naps, and we read books together. She sits on my lap while I write and on Nick while he plays video games. She’s always interested in what we’re doing and what the animals are doing. Much like her momma she doesn’t sit still, fidgeting during feedings and playing with anything she can get her hands on. Her dreams are sweet, and we catch her smiling and laughing while she sleeps.  We’re lucky in that she sleeps pretty well, mostly through the night these days.

This month we’ve had a wonderful photo shoot with a friend and local photographer, Michelle Smith-Lewis, whose work you can check out here. We loved working with her and I highly recommend her when you need a talented, patient photographer. We’re also getting out more, and have been having fun between the feeds and the pumping sessions.  It’s been nice to bring her out, to see friends and to get a routine in place for at least one day a week that isn’t breast milk oriented. I took Izzy to the Veteran’s Cemetery so I could visit my Dad. It’s still strange to me that they won’t ever meet. Next week, we’re taking out first road trip to Cama Beach to stay in a cabin by the water. I can’t wait to hike along the beach with her and sit under a blanket and watch the waves crash.

We continue to work with the specialists at Children’s to get her off the feeding tube. There are good days and less good days. She’s getting about one-third to half of her feed by bottle consistently, which is where she’s been for some time. The goal is to have her at 100% of her 4 ounce feeds by bottle before we can let go of the tube feed process. It’s been a slower road than I had hoped, but if this is the worst thing we have to deal with, so be it. We have an appointment next Friday to see what we can do to increase her bottle feeds. One step at a time. A related goal is to get her weight up. She’s not gaining as fast as the pediatrician would like, despite adding extra calories with formula to her full breast milk feeds, we’ll be working with the dietitian at Children’s early next week on that part, along with her Specialist and the nurses. I can’t say enough how amazing Children’s has been. Their knowledge, empathy and coordination of care has been remarkable. We are so lucky to have them working with Izzy.

Her test results continue to come back strong, her CO2 and her oxygen levels are right where they should be, her developmental targets are still being hit on time, if not earlier. She continues to amaze me as well her doctors. Again, we’re still so lucky.

I hope you all are doing well, and that life is full of good updates for you all as well!

Raina, Izzy and Nick.

A Beery Review

One of the things I missed during pregnancy was Beer Friday. Every Friday, a group of us would hit a local brewery and have drinks, hit the local pub and grab dinner. It was the social time that I missed, and I won’t lie; after a long week, a beer (or a few) was a welcomed treat.  The picture above is from a trip to Glacier National Park, where I happily lounged in my hammock with one of my favorite beers, Baron Brewing’s Uber-Weisse. Shortly after Jen and I got pregnant, the brewery went out of business. That was our Friday staple. Coincidence?  Who knows.

I worried that once I had Tiny Beast I wouldn’t be able to hit any fun places for a Friday treat. Babies and bars don’t mix so well. Luckily, most brewery taprooms ARE kid friendly and are much more quiet, and well, less full of drunk, touchy, and germy people.

Without further adieu, I offer a column for all of us who want to get out and have a night out with an adult beverage, but who have their kids in tow. As I hit new breweries, I’ll add them to the blog as Beer Friday, and write my reviews. If there’s anything that would be helpful to read about, leave a comment and I’ll add that in for future additions. If there’s a place that you know of in Washington or else where, please add that as well! I’m sure I should put in a disclaimer that you should never drink and drive and that you should keep your imbibing to a level that doesn’t impair your ability to care for your kid. I’ll assume you are a savvy adult and have mastered common sense, but just in case…please see my prior sentence.

The rundown so far:
Big Al’s Brewing-White Center (Seattle).
I love this place. It’s no Baron, but it’s close. The bartender noted that he hadn’t seen me in ages and was super excited to hear about Tiny Beast. They also have a board for “Beer it Forward”, so you can buy someone a beer who isn’t there with you. It’s nice as its mostly the same folks each time, so you know what you’re getting into. There’s two stories, and kids are welcome upstairs. There are couches and a big screen, darts, board games and an Atari. AN ATARI!  If that doesn’t sell it right there, I don’t know what does!  The beers are solid, and they rotate guest taps. They play soccer, but that’s about as sporty as this place gets.  right now, I am loving their Blonde.
Parking? Plentiful, but street
Noise level? Upstairs isn’t bad and you can carry on a conversation without raising your voice
Beers on a scale of 1-10? 8. Nick says 7. I say he’s silly.
Food? None, but they do have a Soup thing on Sundays and you are welcome to bring your own food-there’s great Soul Food, pho and a BBQ joint close by. Oh, and Full Tilt Ice cream. So good.
Playtime? Fellow parents bring their kids, too.
Website? http://www.bigalbrewing.com/

Machine House Brewing-Georgetown (Seattle)
This is a new brewery and the third in Georgetown and that shows in the set up-pretty sparse. It’s not super obvious where it is, so it can be hard to find. What does that mean for you? It’s not cram packed full of hipsters prefunking prior to hitting another bar. The vibe is mellow, and it’s in an old Machine house along Airport Way. The beer list is still small, there were 4 beers available when we went, but they were good. I had the Machine House Mild-an English Dark Mild. It was what I would want to drink in the summer, when it was too hot for a Guinness. Yep, a light bodied dark beer. Nick had the Bitter, a smooth beer that wasn’t overwhelmingly hoppy. We’re heading back there Friday with friends and will try something else.  They also had a gingered version of their Gold. It reminded me of my days drinking with the guys from Trade Route Brewing, before they moved south and changed and then were bought out.  Nostalgia aside…this wasn’t my favorite beer. If the ginger was toned down, I’d like it more. Of note-this place is COLD. Seriously. Its in an old machine house, with high ceilings, and big windows. Bring a coat, and bundle up the tots. I wore gloves.
Parking: Lot and Street (yay!), but it is Georgetown so keep that in mind for Friday & Saturday nights
Noise Level? We went on a Sunday afternoon, so it was pretty quiet. I’ll update after going Friday night.
Beers on a scale of 1-10? Nick says 8, I say 7
Food? Nope, but they have peanuts and outside food is ok, which is great, since Stellar Pizza is just down the street
Playtime? We saw one other couple there with a toddler. There’s a wooden train set toy and a fair amount of seating
Website? http://www.machinehousebrewery.com/

Urban Family Brewing-Ballard (Seattle)
I bought a Living Social deal for them, which prompted me to check them out. They have a few beers of their own and they choose really awesome guest taps. I had a Maritime Navigator Dunkle that I loved, and Nick had an End of Reason from Gigantic Brewing-also super delish. We got there about 7 pm, and they were already out of their own beers (after opening at 5), which was a bummer, but they did have a little of their Pils on reserve. Since we came out and had Tiny Beast in tow, they comped us a beer for free (yay!). The customer service was awesome. The gal had us try quite a few samples after asking us what we were into, she was fast and super attentive.  The food was really good too. Nick had the Smokehouse burger with chili and I had the Bacon & Blue with a salad. They have a couple appetizers, and a vegetarian option. One thing to note, this place makes their burgers right, pinkish red in the middle. Yum!
Parking? Ugh. It’s Ballard. Street parking takes a while to find.
Noise Level? This place is pretty packed and there’s music and a lot of people talking. Keep that in mind if your kiddo is overwhelmed easily.
Food? Yes!  YAY!  Burgers run about $11, with a side.
Playtime? We saw one other baby there
Beers on a scale of 1-10? Guest taps, 9. Their beer, the pils was a 6. Not sure about the others.
Website? http://www.urbanfamilypublichouse.com/

Well, there’s the start folks. Next on tap (ha, get it?) will be Two Beers (where all the Baron patrons seemed to have gone off to) and Schooner Exact, a tap room I haven’t been for over a year.

What family friendly tap rooms do you like?

Spring Forward!

We. Had. Sun!

To some of you that isn’t a big deal, but here in the Northwest, sunny days this time of year are amazing and rare! They hold the promise that Spring is close, and summer…well, it must be right around the corner. Of course, sun doesn’t mean warmth here, but you’ll still see people out in their shorts and tees in 50 degree weather, including the socks and sandals combo (I still don’t get that, I like my galoshes).  I love, love, love Spring and am pretty darn excited to see my bulbs coming in and starting to bloom. T

Nick and his Dad have been doing the hard labor to get the yard and garden beds ready for me, so I can start planting my veggies, herbs and fruits. Last year, I didn’t quite get the garden I wanted-a lot of time was spent handling family issues and other more important tasks, but I did manage to get some amazing tomatoes planted. You can see a bit more of that garden here.  There’s nothing quite like the taste of a fresh picked tomato. Yum.

I have some rough plans mapped out, I have 2 long and narrow beds, one large 10X10 bed and a 4X4 bed along with containers that hold all I like to plant. There’s some work to do, but with maternity leave, I have had time to map everything out and start a list of what I will be planting. I can’t wait to get out there this week and next and get dirty!

On tap for this week:
Dead heading! I have a few crops, mostly herbs, that just don’t die back. I trim off the old, woody stuff and let the new growth come up. Yesterday, I saw that the mint I planted in the main bed bolted. Note to self-mint should go in a container or it takes over everything. I’ll be digging all of that up, and giving some to friends, drying some, and putting the rest in a container. I also have wild mint that grows in the rose beds by my front door. I need to trim that up, too.
Soil amending!  I need to boost up the nutrients and till everything up to make the soil nice and fluffy. I like to add compost, extra soil and a nitrogen/super whatever the store makes amender goop that I toss in. I’ll add the name when I order it, I sadly only know it by the picture-I’m screwed if the label ever changes.
Starting seeds! I have a few varieties of squash and tomatoes and bell peppers that I’ll be starting in little containers in my dining room.
Plant Sale! Seattle Tilth has amazing plant sales in March and May. You can buy seeds and starts and get expert advice from fellow gardeners.
Planting starts! I’ll be planting my peas, broccoli, artichoke, kale, chard and some lettuce this week to give them plenty of time to get started. I’m not quite sure of the varieties of each, I’ll pick and choose as I go.  Next week or the week after (weather dependent), I’ll plant beans.  I’m also excited to use the wrought iron trellises from my Dad’s house.

Usually, Spring is spent adding something new to the garden every week. Sometimes I pick up too many plants late in the season, and they sit in their little containers until I get too busy to plant them, and they die a sad planty death. This year, I hope to avoid that!  Here’ some garden shots for you-the first is of one of my giant squash-the plants yielded so many and this one wasn’t the largest. The next is a dewy tulip bulb from my front gardens!

This year, I am involved in something new! I’m part of a group that will be doing a progressive backyard farm tour, complete with snacks, drinks and eventually a dinner. That’s in two weeks, which is just enough time to wake up the garden and get things started. We’ll be visiting bees, chickens, fellow gardens and even get a stop in to peek at some goats. Yep. We have it all here in South Park! Henny is quite excited for visitors 😉

I’ll post pictures as I go, and keep folks up to date on what I planted that worked and what didn’t work so well. I’ll also get pictures of the goats, too!

What are your favorite cool weather crops?  Any garden plans for you all? This week for you readers, please post a comment, and I’ll pick a winner at random on Friday and send packets of my favorite seeds just in time for Spring! 🙂

Best to you all!