Hard to Good


I had a bit of a revelation the other day. Don’t get too excited, it was one of those total “duh,” moments where something you’ve been trying so hard to figure out just kinda suddenly comes into focus.

I’ve been thinking so hard about how to enjoy this whole baby having process. Not the labor part, mind you. I’m not that much of an optimist. I expect that part to be rough. What I mean is the first few months that people so often to refer to as “survival mode.”

Something about that term has always seemed so depressing to me. Like there’s no other choice but to turn into a wacked-out, sleep deprived, leaky-boobed zombie while you count down the hours of the day until the baby goes to sleep again. I don’t want that. I don’t want to waste those precious first few weeks lamenting all the things I’ve lost- sleep, hair, modesty. I want to beat the odds and find a way to be present and relish in all the beautiful moments that come amidst the hardness.

I’ve been thinking so hard about all of this and trying so hard to figure it out, when I suddenly realized I was already doing it. With my dog.


Now I’m not trying to pretend that my 11 month old puppy is the same as having a newborn. At this point he’s potty trained, mostly sleeps through the night and doesn’t usually cry incessantly (unless he thinks we are going to visit his “cousin” Shadow). He doesn’t require carrying, I don’t have to feed him with my body and I didn’t have to give birth to him. Not the same.

But I did spend some sleepless nights getting up to teach him how to use the bathroom. I’ve spent more 2 a.m.’s than I’d like to admit cleaning up some form of bodily substance. I’ve taught him tricks and commands, which he may or may not choose to follow. I’ve fished countless dead mice out of his throat and I’ve chased him across a grass field, desperately crying out his name and begging him to come inside. We’ve had moments of absolute love and affection and moments when I, shamefully, have taken great pleasure in banishing him to his kennel.

Last week was a tough one. He’d been sick and up several nights in a row, throwing up around 2 a.m. He pooped on the floor, which maybe only happened once or twice when he was a puppy, and is really just the most disgusting thing ever. He’d been jumping up on the counter and stealing food. Stealing things out of the garbage and spreading them all over the house. I’d washed his bed and collar at least three times. I’d had it.

I was so frustrated with him that, embarrassingly enough, my husband made a comment about the way I was treating him. I was humiliated.

And then, to make matters worse, we dropped him off at a kennel for four days while we went on vacation.

Mom guilt, the struggle is real.

Despite the fact that I sobbed the entire 20 minute drive from the kennel to our rental house in Sisters- pregnancy hormones, man- I think the time apart brought me some much needed perspective.

All the hard stuff about “raising” Cash, and it has been hard, and smelly, maddening, disgusting and exhausting. All the hard stuff is also why the good stuff is good.


Like how he’s finally started to come inside when called. How he’s figured out that being a labrador retriever includes actual retrieving. How he meets me at the bottom of the stairs in the morning and jumps headfirst into my ever-shrinking lap for a snuggle. How he walks three miles by my side every morning, stops at all the right places and works so hard at resisting the siren song of the neighbor’s dog as we pass by. How he lays his head in my lap in the evenings and reaches up to give me a kiss when I rub his velvet ears.

When we picked him up Sunday afternoon, I felt released from the burden of being the “angry mom” I’d been the week before. We had a fresh start and I was determined to show Cash the respect and patience he deserves.

And the last couple days, being Cash’s mom has been an absolute joy. I’ve found myself saying “please” and “thank you,” and gently reminding him of the rules instead of making harsh demands when he heads for the garbage. I’ve found myself reaching down to pet him when he wanders by, just because I love him. I’ve taken him with me to run errands and realized I’m thinking up things for him to do just because I think he might enjoy them.

Even though I still have to do things I’d rather not- clean up the four Costco boxes he shredded and spread all over the living room, deal with the dog hair in the tub from his Sunday night bath, and force antibiotic eye drops into his eyeballs every morning and night- for some reason, it feels different. Instead of wishing the days away, I’m realizing that I’ll never have this same experience again in my life. My first dog, at eleven months old, being every bit the crazy teenage pup that he is.

And that’s how I’m going to enjoy this baby.

By remembering that I get one or two chances to do this in my lifetime and those first three months with this kid, no matter how grueling they may prove to be, are literally a once in a lifetime experience. Not that I have to be perfect, and not that I won’t forget now and again and spend a few days in zombieland, but I think if I can set my sights on that fundamental truth, me and this kid, well, I think we’re going to be okay.

Because amidst the diapers, breast pads, witch hazel and lanolin, sleep deprivation, exhaustion and inevitable frustration of first-time parenthood, amidst all of that hardness will be the beauty of watching this little person spend the first days of their life.

The hard stuff is why the good stuff is so good.


Weekly Roundup

Essential Oils

It’s Friday. And it’s pouring rain outside. Cash and I just got back from a walk and we are both a little soggy. But the world is green. And smells so good. And I’m pretty much happy as a clam, so sitting down to share some of my favorite things from the week only seemed fitting.

After seeing the book lauded on a few of my favorite Instagram accounts, I used my Amazon rewards points to order the Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook by Christopher Kimball.  I’ve yet to fully dive in, but the entire chapter dedicated to “Farm Breakfast” has me drooling already.

I’m sloooooowly easing into my fall yard cleanup and as bending over is an ever increasing challenge, I’m thinking I need some of these babies to help me out. Any ideas on where to find some this cute?

Don’t judge me, but I thought this lip sync battle between siblings, Derek and Julianne Hough, was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Skip this one, Mom. But seriously, Ha! This one kills me, too. I’m holding out hope that all my friends will organize a surprise Lip Sync Battle for me one day. You better believe I’ll be ready.

I jumped on the bandwagon with essential oils after several months of research and ordered a starter kit through one of my friends from Young Living. So far I’ve only been dififusing but I’m working on a list today of cleaning and wellness products I’d like to make. This blog has been an excellent resource. Any experience with oils?

I’m a little obsessed with knit infant socks. While I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on any yet, convinced I’ll stumble upon the perfect pair, these ones are at the top of my Etsy shopping cart.

I hope you all have super cozy weekend plans, involving apple cider and something that takes all day to cook. Happy first weekend of fall!

Getting Ready

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Ever since I hit the halfway point of this pregnancy, my mind has been spinning. An endless cycle of things to do, usually coming through in some kind of list, and one thing after another so consistently that I’m afraid I’ve forgotten half the things I’ve thought of in the first place. I spent the first few months so intent on enjoying the present moment that I was surprised when all of a sudden I found myself five months in and hadn’t done a thing.

And then I ran smack dab into this thing called nesting and now I can’t think about anything besides rearranging my furniture, dusting and finding the perfect wingback chairs on Craigslist. Save me from myself.

I sat down this week to write out a list of what we might need for the first month of this kid’s life, and as I scoured site after site, loading up my virtual cart with teeny things, I started to feel a little bit sick. “Is this really the point?” I thought to myself. “To heck with what the kid is going to wear, am I really ready to be their mom!?”

I spent this last weekend with my four best friends on our annual getaway at the beach. And despite the fact that I’m formally in the “mom club” now, I found myself listening most of the time.

The first few months I wanted nothing to do with other people’s thoughts or opinions. I wanted to hibernate in my own happy little place where the idea of having a baby didn’t scare the ever loving crap out of me. And then I spent a couple weeks realizing the idea does indeed scare the ever loving crap out of me. And now I’m finding myself in a bit of an information gathering stage. I want to know how and why and when. I want to understand what other people think, what they’ve seen and how they’ve felt. Not so much about the regular topics- labor, breastfeeding, sleeping, etc. but more about what it’s like to become a mother. I am consumed with curiosity about what things are going to feel like emotionally, and feel compelled to gather a range of experiences, as if it will somehow prepare me for anything.

I have my own ideas to be sure. I have a vision of the kind of person I hope I will be as a mother. But I also want to give myself time, space and grace to figure things out. I want to set out with intentions for myself- peace, calm and patience, but keep my list of expectations for our kid low and focus on getting to know the little person we’ve been given, instead of thrusting my theories and methods on them.

I’ve really struggled with getting my thoughts down into words. At least intelligible words. I have a long list of thoughts and intentions scratched in my journal; sentence fragments and sub points. Underlines and emphasis’. But putting my hopes and dreams for what our family will be like and feel like into real words, has proven nearly impossible. Not to mention the fact that putting my hopes and dreams out there on the Internet, and even out there to our closest friends and family, feels terrifyingly vulnerable.

As the months go by quicker and quicker, and my clothes grow tighter, I’m trying my best to prepare, whatever that means. I assume eventually I’ll possess the decisiveness to weed through the thousands of opinions on what you “need” and purchase some items that will get us through those first few months, but for now, I’m feeling content to focus on my heart and the work that needs to be done there.

Well, that and my wingback chairs. :)

Weekly Roundup

WVPCO Images | Bird is the Word (230 of 232)

Is it fall yet!? With a week’s forecast full of numbers that start with 6 and 7, I’m thinking it almost is. And I’m determined to make my first ever pumpkin pie this year. When you marry into a family that owns a pie company, you rarely find occasion to actually bake pies from scratch, but this year it’s happening!

Recipes that caught my eye this week: Kale + Pear Salad, Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins and Lemon Ricotta Loaves. Are you detecting a theme?

I’m in love with this wreath and feel like it would look so great on our front door, but would rather figure out how to make it than endure the $68 price tag. Terrain, why do you tease me so? And anyone have any flax they wanna share?

I’ve been obsessing over all the Shaker peg racks I’ve seen on Instagram and finally found the perfect ones at The Container Store yesterday. Now to bribe my husband to hang them for me…

My SIL gave me this cookbook for my birthday and I’ve really been enjoying it.

Happy Friday all! Fall, let’s do this thing.

Weekly Roundup

FIshing the North Umpqau | Kali Ramey Martin (4 of 9)

Early this week a friend and I traveled down to the North Umpqua river to do some interviews and shoot photos for a couple fly fishing magazines. We also managed to sneak some fishing in Tuesday morning, and I have to tell you there’s not a whole lot more I want out of life than being able to watch the sun come up with a fly rod in my hand. After fishing most of the morning we stopped and had an incredible breakfast at Steamboat Inn. Taylor and I have plans to celebrate our anniversary there in October and I. Can. Not. Wait.

While we’re on the topic of fishing, I listened to a really great podcast (second one down- August 5th) this week by one of my fly-fishing heroes and outspoken conservationist, April Vokey. Going in with no preconceived notions about hatcheries, listening to this podcast really cleared a few things up for me. Such a good reminder to pay attention to the world around us.

I’ve survived most of the summer on fresh fruit for breakfast but this sandwich is totally calling my name.

The new bed Taylor (and his parents!) gave me for my birthday, and our recent Craigslist dresser has inspired me to get our bedroom finished once and for all. I’ve been looking for the perfect wall sconces and found these at World Market. Hoping the whole thing will end up looking something like this.

Been wondering if you should clear out those dead pea plants and cucumber vines and plant a few fall crops? Here’s a few tips on getting your garden ready for autumn.

I think that’s all for now. Happy Friday everyone!

How does your Garden Grow?

Life on the Farm- Vol. 3 | Bird is the Word (10 of 46)Life on the Farm- Vol. 3 | Bird is the Word (9 of 46)

Early this spring I sat down with the latest volume of the Territorial Seed Company catalog and planned my garden. I used their Garden Planner to plot everything out perfectly, and ordered my seeds and starts according to the numbers and sizes they recommended. Taylor built me three big, beautiful raised beds (6′ x 12′) that we placed out between the fruit trees on the edge of the yard. I bought a giant stack of those seed starting trays, a couple bags of organic potting soil and as the seeds arrived in their designated months, sowed them with love and care.

Unfortunately, whether it was my lack of experience, inconsistent watering or insufficient light and heat, most of my seeds never made it past infant hood. The only starts I ended up planting in the garden were peas, which did quite well thank you very much.

After licking my wounds from my seed starting experience, I got a new wave of motivation and planned a trip with my mother-in-law to her favorite local nursery. I filled my cart with already established shoots and starts and felt confident I could keep them alive and thriving. I took them home, threw caution and my Garden Planner to the wind and did my best to plant everything with correct spacing, as designated on the little garden tags they came with.

Here’s what we ended up with:
6 Yukon Gold Potato Plants
6 Lacinato Kale Plants
6 Kale Plants
1 Butternut Squash
1 Delicate Squash
1 Acorn Squash
1 Burbank Slicing Tomatoes
1 Sungold Cherry Tomato
1 Brandywine Tomato
1 Jalapeño Plants
2 Red Peppers
5 Spinach Plants
6 Pickling Cucumbers
2 Yellow Summer Squash
1 Pole Bean
1 Green Bean
3 English Peas
12 Lettuce Plants (Mix of Romaine, Italian Blend and Red Leaf)
12 Corn Stalks
6 Walla Walla Sweet Onions
1 Strawberry Plant
1 Rhubarb Plant
Assortment of Herbs (Basil, Chives, Thyme, Lemon Verbena, Lavender, Mint, Bay, Rosemary, Cilantro)

Life on the Farm- Vol. 3 | Bird is the Word (11 of 46)

While we’ve done pretty well, and I’ve got tomatoes coming out the wazoo, there’s a few things I’ll change up when I go to plan things out next year.

1. Order starts instead of seeds, but still go through Territorial Seed Company as they have more variety and it’s easier to get the exact number of plants you want. The local nursery has no organic selections and lots of the starts come in a six-pack.

2. Speaking of six packs, I ended up with waaaaaay too much kale, lettuce and summer squash. We love our greens as much as the next person, but one or two kale plants (both of the lacinato variety next year) and 4 lettuce plants should do the trick. I also goofed and only grabbed summer squash instead of zucchini, and for some reason the green version seems so much more versatile.

3. More peas and beans. Peas and beans are easy to pick, eat and freeze. We use peas and beans in cooking all year long and it would have been nice to have enough to put up for winter instead of barely having enough for a dinner or two.

4. I forgot to get parsley! One of the most commonly used herbs ever. Doh! I’ve felt so miffed every time I have to buy it at the store this summer, meanwhile being able to cut the rest of my herbs from the back porch.

5. Plant more cilantro. I only had one little pot, and it just didn’t last through the heat wave. Ideally, I’d love to add at least one more raised bed (maybe two!) next year, and devote that one entirely to herbs so they can expand a bit.

6. Plant more corn. I’m not sure how that’s going to work, but maybe we just need to find a spot to designate as a corn field because my 12 stalks just did not quite pollinate properly. All the husks I’ve picked so far have a serious snaggletooth situation going on.

7. To try next year: Hard-necked garlic, carrots and radishes. And whatever else strikes my fancy between now and then!

Life on the Farm Vol. 4 | Bird is the Word (4 of 43)

A few weeks ago, I read this article from Little House in the Ozarks: The Rediscovered Writings, written in February 1918 by Laura Ingalls Wilder and it totally cracked me up.

Anyone can be a successful gardener at this time of year, and I know of no pleasanter occupation these cold, snowy days than to sit warm and snug by the fire, making garden with a pencil–in a seed catalog.

What perfect vegetables we do raise in that way and so many of them! Our radishes are crisp and sweet, our lettuce tender, and our tomatoes smooth and beautifully colored. Best of all, there is not a bug or worm in the whole garden, and the work is so easily done.

That Laura Ingalls. Always nailing it right on the head. How have your gardens been this year? Any genius insights to share? Do tell!

Slice of Life


Last month I did a shoot and shared a recipe with local online men’s magazine, Classfare. We prepped and shot my favorite Corn Chowder, and despite the nerves I always have before cooking in front of the camera, I could not be more thrilled with how the photos turned out. James perfectly captured the moody light in my old farmhouse kitchen and what it feels like to hunker down in there on an overcast morning and just cook. Which is, no doubt, one of my very favorite things to do. Even Cash got his moment in the spotlight, which was so special to me because he is always underfoot while I’m cooking, hoping for a scrap. I love that his handsome little mug made it into the article. You can read it here.

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The other thing I love so dearly about these photos is this little slice of my life they are capturing. This first sweet, quiet year on the farm. The fleeting bit of solitude before we are joined by another little human this winter. The finding out about and preparing for a new season of life.

I’ll never forget the morning we learned of our newest family member. Sitting at the kitchen table in this very same light, eating breakfast together, drinking coffee and exchanging smirks, wondering if it was real.

I’ll never forget the first few months spent napping daily on our soft, gray-green couch, learning to co-exist with the exhaustion that comes with creating life. Peaceful days spent with enough time and space to know my own mind. Simple days filled with morning walks, puppy snuggles and usually, a good deal of just thinking.

I’ve done a lot of work to get here.

Spending the better part of the last two years listening, learning, reading and researching. Preparing my heart, my mind, my marriage, my body. Doing the work to understand myself so I can perform the maintenance that needs to be done to keep things running healthily. Determined that I wouldn’t be caught off guard by motherhood the way I was when I became a wife. Even though this babe was a bit of surprise, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the timing of things. We’ve done our time, put in the work to get to a place where we trust each other, and ourselves, enough to move forward and here we are.

Here we are in this place that has felt, from the beginning, so very personal. Despite the fact that my dearest friends have all gone through this experience in the last few years, and such a large majority of the female population gives birth, from day one, it’s felt like there’s no one but the three of us in this whole wide world. We kept our sweet little secret until a sibling’s wedding plans prompted the news around a third of the way in, but I think I could have happily kept my mouth shut until folks started to wonder whether I’d eaten one too many doughnuts.


Having just crossed over the halfway mark, I think I’ve finally given myself permission to believe this is all real. I’ve had a tsunami sized wave of that silly thing they call “nesting” and no corner of this old house is safe from my sponge. We’ve slowly, verrrry slowly, started to gather tiny, little things and make lists of to-do’s to get done around the house.

It seems I’ve also finally given myself permission to feel a little something. For the longest time I had such a hard time answering the question, “Are you excited?” I didn’t feel excited. I  know what babies entail. Labor, healing, rigorous feeding and sleep schedules, and overall physical and emotional exhaustion. Excited just never seemed like the right word to me. I wanted people (and probably myself, too) to know I was being practical about this whole situation. That I knew what I was getting into. Excited just didn’t cut it. Rather, there was this warmth. This quiet happiness buried way down deep in my heart. I couldn’t find the words to describe it, I just kept thinking of this verse:

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. -Luke 2:19

For the longest time, I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to make plans. I didn’t want to share with people. I didn’t want to buy stuff. I didn’t want to read about pregnancy, labor or birth and I didn’t want any voices in my head besides my own. I just wanted to store up every moment and ponder it in my heart. Really, truly live in the moment and experience it as deeply and genuinely as I could.


I really wanted to be able to write about it. At least, I felt like I should want to write about it. Writing is my therapy, clarity, perspective. But I just couldn’t. I felt like words would cheapen my experience. Like I couldn’t possibly put into words this like monumentally life-changing thing that was happening.

But now, I feel like I’ve finally settled in. I’ve finally gotten comfortable in this place that I’m in, at least internally. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but it feels like a corner has been turned. I don’t know if it was seeing that little 20 week old for the first time on the ultrasound screen, or starting to feel the flutters as he/she kicks and squirms and moves around in there. Maybe it was the first time Taylor felt a kick against his hand as it lay on my stomach. Whatever it was, I’m finally making peace with the word, “mama,” and entertaining little day dreams of what my life will be life this winter, fully immersed in a newborn haze.

I probably still seem pretty shy about this whole thing to the outside observer. I do feel a bit self-conscious about my ever changing form. And I always feel like I disappoint people who approach me with questions, having to answer “we’re not finding out. we’re not sharing names. we don’t need much.” I’m not overly enthusiastic about teeny baby clothes, nursery decor, or even the word “nursery” really, and much to the dismay of many, have begged to avoid the seemingly universal experience of a baby shower. I’ve put off buying much maternity wear, trying to hang on to the things that make me feel like myself and I’ve tried to stay away from complaining about the various side effects of pregnancy. I think I’m kind of a disappointing expectant mother. Ha! But deep down, deep where it really, really matters, I feel good, steady, sure and confident.

Not confident that I’m “ready,” or that I know it all, or that I even know what the next month ahead holds for me. But confident that I have what it takes to grow, meet and love this little person we made. Confident that I know when to give myself the time and space to work through things on my own. And confident that even if I feel bashful on the outside, I’ll be storing all these things like treasures in my heart.


All photos by James FitzgeraldCorn Chowder on Classfare.

Weekly Roundup

Cameron Winery Photos | Kali Ramey Martin (20 of 26)

After a good long break from the Internet and in an effort to show up here on a more regular basis, I thought I’d give a weekly roundup post a shot. Try to share all the things that pique my interest throughout the week. We all spend hours getting lost in internet rabbit holes, whether we care to admit it or not, so why not jump into the ones we know won’t disappoint?

Lately I’ve been getting lost in the blog archives of some of my Instagram “friends.” This Olive Oil Potato Gratin from Amelia has been calling my name.

I also spent a decent amount of time this week scouring Etsy for the perfect infant beanie, and I’m pretty sure this one by StarSeventeen is it.

Does anyone else stalk Craigslist for the perfect desk, dresser, rocking chair, etc.? After watching my mother-in-law come home with treasure after treasure, I’ve learned my lesson and check in on things every few days. I was thrilled to find this dresser for our bedroom this week and I’m hoping before I’m through with it, it’ll end up looking something like this.

The hutch of my dreams was a Craigslist find. CRAIGSLIST FOREVER!

Michelle’s Bourbon and Brown Sugar Peach Pie is totally calling my name. We bought and canned a whole box of peaches last week, but I went back to the farm stand and grabbed another box because they are just SO good this year. I’m averaging four per day. Don’t judge me.

Today’s “work” included driving out to Cameron Winery where I got to poke around the wine cellar, take photos of their beautiful farm and learn about dry farming practices. Have I mentioned I think farmers are just about the coolest people ever? The photo above is from this morning’s shoot. Happiest chicken in the world right there, I’m tellin’ ya.

I’ve done a pretty good job avoiding most of the “top ten lists of baby things,” but really enjoyed Amanda’s simple list of what to throw in your hospital bag. Much less anxiety inducing than anything I’ve tried to ignore on Pinterest. I’ll definitely be revisiting that post come December.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Is it Fall yet?

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I don’t know if it’s my weariness of the ever-present summer heat, the sad death of everything living around me, or just anticipation for the season ahead, but all I want to do is think about fall. To cook things with squash and cinnamon, to brew a steaming cup of tea on a cold morning and take a long walk in the crisp morning air. Listen to moody music as the rain falls and settle into the couch with a cozy blanket and a good book. Head for the hills to take slow hikes amongst crunchy leaves and finally get my fly rod back on the water.

I’ve got it bad for autumn this year.

I’m suddenly finding knitting terribly romantic, thinking I don’t own nearly enough oversized sweaters or wool socks, and opening my pajama drawer to stare longingly at my favorite men’s flannel pjs. My Bean boots haven’t been worn in months and I think they are starting to get an abandonment complex.

Am I the only one? Anyone else totally burned out on this crazy summer?

It’s supposed to rain this weekend and you’d better believe I’ll be ready with my saddest record, softest blanket and a stack full of fall recipes to drool over.

Some of my favorite Fall recipes:
Stuffed Acorn Squash
White Bean Chili
Cottage Pie
Smoked Caramel Pear Cakes