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Idaho Fiber Mill Life Parenting

Fiber mill: A reality check

October 7, 2014
coltrane the kid

Today I had the first of what I can only assume will be many reality checks when it comes to building a fiber mill. Actually, it probably was not the first, but merely the only one I can remember. Repression, it’s a good thing for the bold and the ambitious. In my first post about our new journey to build a fiber mill in Idaho, I talked about my desire to be transparent through all the steps. Well, those steps aren’t just physical steps such as purchasing equipment or building structures. Sometimes they’re very rudimentary. Like recognizing limits and re-evaluating expectations. These are good things in their own right, helping refine process and encourage growth.

We spent this very warm weekend at Full Belly Farm for their annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival. It was our first time and we were super excited about all the incredible workshops like Soil Building, Seed Saving, Medicinal Herb walks and the one I was looking forward to the most, a fiber workshop with incredibly knowledgeable women like Rebecca Burgess and Sally Fox. Saturday was full of great food and energy, however spending the day in 100 degree weather was enlightening for us native Pacific Northwesterners. At least I had the foresight to get a hotel room instead of camp, knowing that the weekend would present enough of it’s own challenges with the heat and a toddler.

So fast forward to Sunday morning. I had signed David and I up for separate workshops, thinking “I’ve got this. Let David go do his thing and I’ll bring Coltrane in the pack to the fiber talk and tour and he’ll nap.” Yeah, right. We got to the farm just in time for David to take off for his workshop and us to find coffee. Coltrane and I took our time at the car, slathering on sunscreen, packing the back pack, and doing all those tiny little things that somehow take an obscene amount of time. We were ten steps from the car, walking on the dusty dirt road that led to the food area and he biffed it. I mean full on knees to ground, bottomed out, face plant. He looked far more like David after that spill, with his much darker, dirt covered completion. 😉 Sometimes his chubby little feet get in the way. I scooped him up, doing my best to comfort him as he let the entire farm know of his battle with the dirt. We washed him down at the car, changed and headed back in search of coffee. After successfully scoring some brew, we took off to the car to get to the fiber workshop in time. As we walked back down that dusty dirt once more, Coltrane spotted a large telephone pole log lying on the road. He ran up to it, and folded his body over it. As I got a little closer I noticed it was covered in some sort of black dirt. As he unwrapped from the log and turned towards me, covered chin to shin in dark, black dust I knew this day was destined for greatness. So back to the car, third outfit of the day and we were off.

We got to the fiber workshop only 10min late which is a small victory any parent can appreciate. All strapped into the pack and armed with snacks, sticks and small screwdriver I found in the car (Coltrane is obsessed with tools) we walked into the small county grange hall of about 15 people. Rebecca was talking and I was hoping I hadn’t missed too much of it. I stood in the back and listened intently for about 15min. Then Coltrane started chattering. I looked longingly as another mother with her young babe quietly nursed. Boob magic just doesn’t work with a toddler. It became apparent that Coltrane planned on continuing his commentary so we ventured outside to eat some lunch (leftover pizza = parenting win #12325234) in the car. After he was done I got the pack back out and looked over. He lifted one little finger and began wagging it at me. Then he shook his head no with a big grin on his face, very clearly indicating his intentions. It was too hot outside with very little shade so we played in the car for the next 45min. I’m ashamed to say that most of that time I was bummed out. Bummed that I was missing the one thing I had really come to this festival for. Then it hit me as I watched him empty my makeup bag for the umpteenth time (because who likes kid toys?). Building a fiber mill as parents is going to be a very different journey than that of others. All the learning and workshops and festivals and expos and mill visits and building trips were going to be preceded by my number one calling, motherhood.

A few weeks back I was told a story about a woman who started a mill with two young children and then soon realized her limitations and sold off all her equipment. When I heard this I began to doubt what we were doing. I was a mother of a toddler and we have plans of having more kids…was I crazy for thinking we could build a mill too? Sure. What successful venture wasn’t done involving some crazy? Whatever the circumstances of that woman in that story, I don’t know, but what I do know is this. I am a mother and a wife. I am a woman. I have strength and I have power. I am a maker, and I am a believer. Here’s believing that’s enough.


Finger foods: Dining with a toddler

April 12, 2014

Dining with a baby, now almost toddler has been enlightening. I often like to say that having Coltrane actually saves us money, because if he weren’t here, chances are we would be eating out nearly every night like we used to. We cook a lot more at home now than we ever have before and it’s been better on the budget and our buns.

When Coltrane was about 4 or 5 months he became a challenge at restaurants. Where he would have previously just slept or snacked his way through dinner, he became increasingly harder to entertain and often overstimulated. Until he was about 9 months, we rarely if ever ate out. Nowadays we get out a little more often, and when we do we have our routine down to a science. It’s a tag team circus of sorts.

Here are a few tips…

1. Ditch the gargantuan stroller. Nobody like a stroller in a restaurant. Opt for wearing your little one in a carrier or getting a stroller that folds down very small. We have the Quinny Zapp and it is amazing how small it folds down. We usually just tuck it away at the entrance or under our table.

2. Order a bowl of fruit or steamed veggies when they ask for drink orders. This ensures you have finger food and entertainment for them asap. It’s always smart to have snacks in your bag I guess, but so often he would get bored with those. It helps if you’re familiar with baby led weaning as well. We did BLW and so finger foods worked great at a younger age.

3. Spoons are your friend. Watch them carefully of course, but don’t underestimate the entertainment a spoon can give.

It doesn’t work perfectly all the time, but it has allowed us to explore some of the great restaurants San Francisco has to offer. I started this “Finger Foods” photo series because I adore his chunky little fingers and wrists and hope never to forget them. It’s also incredible to watch a little human discover and enjoy so many different foods for the first time.

Bon Appétit!