Sunday, August 19, 2012

The best kind of parenting

I slept in this morning 2 hours past normal waking time (till 8 a.m., people!). Col took Amelia for the first shift. (It's becoming a lovely Sunday morning routine.) I woke up refreshed and feeling mentally clean. Well, as clean as a groggy mind can feel at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning. This statement of freshness did not prevent me from uttering a parenting criticism with the first morning breath.

"You fed her peas for breakfast?!"

"I fed her whatever that green stuff was in the fridge."

"It was peas. Why didn't you feed her fruit or oatmeal or something more breakfast-y?"

"It was the only thing in there." (Note to self: if I really do want to control everything that passes through baby's lips, must. leave. in. plain. sight. in. fridge.)

"Well, did she eat it?"

"Yup, all of it," he said proudly.

"Well, I guess it's ok to give her something savory for breakfast. We eat savory breakfasts sometimes right?" In retrospect I don't know why I cared so much. It's so silly. Why am I such a control freak when it comes to parenting? Is it because I'm the mom? Are all moms like that? Or just first-time moms? Or is it just me? 

Thankfully, I have a husband with pretty thick skin and a sense of humor. He didn't seem to mind my snarkiness.

Which leads me to my next awesome announcement of the morning: after that exchange, I put A down for a nap and went running (in my 5-yr-old running shoes that have been worn a total of maybe 15 times). It felt good. I felt strong. 

I used my run (as I always used to do) for the quiet introspection I've been looking for. It worked. It works every time. I thought about my goals and about my life and about my loves (Col and Meals) and family. I let lots of things go. That felt really good. I focused on breathing. I killed those hills. All of them. I added on an extra loop. I felt that good.

Towards the end of my run, I passed a little scene that humbled me a bit. It was a couple of young women (in their early 20s I'd say) getting in a car with a young child. One of the women looked like she had had way too much fun last night. Her voice was all raspy from too much smoking and partying. 

She yelled out to the boy, laughing, "Hey Ry, do you need some Dunkin' Donuts right now? Cause I definitely need some Dunkin' Donuts right now." He laughed back. I bet he was soooo excited to go to Dunkin' Donuts. And in that moment, I realized that this boy was happy. Even though he was being taken care of by women (mom? sisters? sitters?) who were probably not leading the best life examples, he seemed loved (from the 15 second exchange I witnessed) and he was laughing. Isn't that all that matters?

I thought to myself, "love and laughter—those are the two most important parenting skills." The love part I've got down. The laughter, which Colin always has in spades, I need to work on. Constantly. If only I didn't get so caught up with peas and oatmeal.

As the two women peeled away towards Dunkin' Donuts with the boy in the back-seat, they each flung their arms out the open windows in contentment, lit cigarettes in hand. That bummed me out and snapped me out of my rose-colored view on life.

Ok, so maybe the "love and laughter" thing is a little too simplistic. But minus the cigs and feeding second-hand smoke to a tyke, it was a sweet interaction that taught me a lesson.

And now I need to go apologize to my hubby and tell him I love him. He got Meals to eat her peas at 6 in the morning. How great is that?

Friday, August 17, 2012

multi-tasking is not conducive to the creative process. Or is it?

It's a Friday morning and I'm at home. Not at work, not traveling. Just home. And our little babe is asleep in her crib for a loooonng nap. Kitty is asleep cuddled up next to me. I can't remember the last time I had two minutes to rub together for such a quiet, unadulterated moment. And of course, the minute I realize, "I have MEEE time" I think of a million ways to fill it. So I clean the living room, delete old files off my computer, organize some photos, pay some bills and then I remember that I've been wanting to write more, so I open up my computer AGAIN.

But then I remember I had wanted to check my work email (why, oh why do I do that on my days off?). So I got distracted by that for a while. Then, only then, did I shut everything else down and turn towards my writing.

I remember that when I used to write in my journal, I would spend some time thinking about my day and what I wanted to remember from it—or learn from it. William Wordsworth described this moment as he lay on the couch as a "vacant or pensive mood" in which to be inspired. And so it was, I would seize upon a particular word or image, and then I would just let it flow. That used to be easy for me.

But back then, I was never very good at doing laundry or cleaning house.

Now, when I have one hand holding baby, another feeding the cats, another on my phone checking messages, another hand waving to Col as he gets home from work (and of course that dang work e-mail), and still another hand stirring dinner on the stove and stacking baby bottles in the dishwasher, the concept of quiet introspection seems comical.

And still, the drive to write and to be thoughtful is there.

I will never not want to write. So, maybe for now, when I start to hear whimpers from the nursery and my dang phone is dinging again and the washing machine is buzzing. For now, perhaps my writing needs to be short and sweet and inspired by the very chaos life has become. Perhaps a structured haiku poem to harness that chaos a bit? Yes, a haiku! Hang on, what are the rules for haiku again?

Hang on, let me Google it. Hang on...

Oh yes, haiku is 17 syllables, 3 lines in 5-7-5 pattern. Often about nature. Okay here's my Friday morning meeee time haiku (inspired by one of the loves of my life cozy next to me):

Cat, I love you, purr
Despite bites, blood, ER, pills
I still love you, Cat.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

homemade baby food for our little gourmande

We were a little slow on the uptake starting Meals on solid foods. She was almost 7 months by the time we got around to it, so we sort of skipped right over the baby cereal and right on to the real stuff. So far, our little baby (and this makes her mama so proud) loves any kind of healthy, delicious food we've thrown her way. Favorites so far include:
  • Fruit compote with peaches, raspberries and banana
  • Baked sweet potato and pears
  • Roasted carrots and broccoli with cumin
  • Sweet pea puree with fresh basil
Mmm, those sweet peas were so good I wanted to eat them myself! I have found that the trick is in the cooking. Roasting the carrots and broccoli brings out their amazing flavor. The sweet potato gets all caramelized when you bake it just a little bit longer. The peas (I use frozen) are only steamed long enough to turn bright green. They they're rinsed in cold water to stop the cooking. We've been having so much fun trying new combos and seeing her reaction. It's making me excited to cook again! And maybe, just maybe, I'll finally hit up the farmers' market this weekend.

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