I hope your holidays have been fantabulous and that you’re all good and toasty and cozy and full of cookies and general merriment. I’ll go into greater detail about our Christmas when I post more from my December Daily album, but I’ll leave this here for now – Nora in the bunad my mom made for her. It’s so cute that I don’t even know what to do with myself.
These days, time is flying way too fast. I feel like I’ve said this in every single post since Nora was born, but for reals, where does the time go? Also, what on earth was I doing with all of my time before??
Time probably feels like it’s moving slow as molasses for poor Basil right now. He broke his leg while jumping off the stairs down to the yard (we didn’t see it, but ugh, we heard it, and we knew immediately what had happened) and had to have surgery. Then the puncture wound (where the bone had POKED THROUGH HIS SKIN, ugh ugh ugh) became infected and he had to take five million different antibiotics and get his bandage changed at the vet’s almost every day. Now the wound has healed and his bandage is off, but we’re keeping him sedentary for a while longer to make sure the leg is healed. I held him in my arms in the car on the way to the emergency vet, and he was so stoic and brave and snuggly, calmly resting his head against my chest while I tried not to panic and not to focus on the part of his leg that was just dangling there.
My parents came to visit for two weeks, and Nora loved loved loved having her grandparents around. I worked on letting others take care of her, which felt all sorts of weird and wrong at first, but I managed to let go of some control when I saw how much fun she was having. By the end of their stay, I happily spent lots of alone time scrapbooking (because I’m hooked again) and JK and I even went on two mushrooming/trail running trips sans baby.
Speaking of scrapbooking, I’m having so much fun with it, and scrapbooking more often than I ever have before. Right now it’s all very Ali Edwards-inspired – I’m still working on putting my Week in the Life album together, and I am also making pages for this month’s Story Kit, since I was asked to be a guest storyteller! If you’re not in the scrapbooking world, you won’t know how huge this is, but Ali Edwards is the O.G. of modern scrapbooking, the Zen Master of story, and generally just one of the most inspiring people I know.
Now that the grandparents are gone, we’re back to our normal life. Currently that means lots of time outside enjoying this beautiful fall weather, lots of playing with Duplo (we got Nora a bunch of used Duplo blocks plus a new set with ducks, because she just really has a thing for ducks), and lots of Qdoba takeout, because cooking dinner is suddenly much harder now that I have a more mobile little human in the house. I am making an effort to take the running stroller out more often, because I got into Orcas 25K! Eeep.
I’m having a hard time settling back into normal life after our long vacation. Actually, it’s not even “normal life” since JK is still on parental leave, which makes it even more annoying – instead of simply enjoying all this time we have together, I find myself stressing out about having to be productive and getting all the things done, and then I don’t get anything done at all because I’m exhausted. This is part of a more systemic case of the blahs that started while we were in Italy, fueled by insomnia and insecurity, and I want it to end as soon as possible. Like now, preferably, before it morphs into something more sinister.
Whenever I start feeling like this, I find that it’s helpful to set some personal goals. Any goals. Teeny tiny goals. Something that will give me a sense of purpose and structure during the time it takes me to get back on my feet. Feeling like I was working towards something was hugely helpful when I was depressed, and it’s a good way to nip blahs like these in the bud. I’ll have to sit down and decide what the specifics should be, but I’m thinking it would be smart to start training for Beat the Blerch (well that’s appropriate), which I’ll be running in September, and, once again, cutting down on the sugar, because I brought quite the spare tire home from Norway. If you haven’t tried Norwegian chocolate, you’re missing out (but then you’re probably also at a normal body weight, so there’s that).
One family habit that I want to get started as early as possible is sitting down at the table together every day for dinner. Not just for the food (but the food is oh so important!), but to make time for our little family unit to tell each other about our days and really get to know what’s going on in each other’s lives. At this point, all Nora has to contribute to that conversation is “Gah! Gah! Gah! Gurgle!”, but that’ll change soon enough, and I want to make family dinners a priority even when long work hours and soccer practice or whatever threaten to steal all the time we have together.
Nora has been eating breakfast with us since she was six months old (we skipped purees and went straight for the good stuff – baby-led weaning), and last week we decided it was time for her to join us for dinner, too. This required some changes on our part since we used to eat dinner (in front of the tv, cough cough) after Nora went to bed. Now I have to be a total 50s housewife and have dinner on the table when JK comes home so we have time to eat together as a family before bedtime. It’s been going well so far, with a bit of planning and prep work, but I spy more challenges in the future when Nora not only becomes mobile, but also drops her afternoon catnap.
The food itself hasn’t been a problem so far. We just avoid honey and salt – I don’t add any salt while cooking these meals, but JK and I will add some at the table. I also make sure Nora’s food is easy for her to pick up and eat without being an obvious choking hazard, but otherwise, she is just getting used to our family’s food culture…minus chocolate, which makes up 80% of my diet. We’re enjoying her openness to try everything now, before she has the will to become picky.
Nora’s first dinner was Crispy Blackened Tofu with broccoli and root mash (mashed potato, carrot, and rutabega). We don’t eat soy that often, we have tempeh or tofu maybe once or twice a month, so I’m not worried about Nora getting too much of it. I will say that the tofu usually looks better than this, but I was trying to use less oil than I normally would when cooking them, so I kind of messed up the blackened part.
Next up: Creole Hoppin’ John from Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry. We would normally eat this with smoky collard greens and mushrooms, but I didn’t think Nora would be able to chew that properly, so instead I chopped up a bunch of kale into tiny pieces, snuck them into the food near the end of the cooking process, and served some roasted zucchini on the side.
The weather was amazing last weekend, so we spent our time working in the garden, relaxing on the deck, and – huzzah – barbecuing with Nora for the first time! She had a Lentil-Mushroom Burger served with zucchini, red pepper, and a fresh tomato.
When I say “fresh tomato”, I mean “gross, watery tomato and ugh, we should just wait until summer when our own tomatoes start popping up in the garden”, but Nora seemed to like it anyway.
Eating dinner together like this gives me all sorts of feels. Nora is growing up so fast! I’m currently reading Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan, and this part struck a chord:
The shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.
The thing is, she’s teaching me a thing or two at the dinner table as well. She takes her sweet time eating, living totally in the moment, inspecting each piece of food and seemingly savoring each bite (of whatever actually makes it into her mouth and not onto the floor). It reminds me of our restaurant meals in Rome, where a dinner could take hours of eating, talking, sipping wine. There’s such a different food culture over there – we were encouraged to stay at our table all night, while here in the U.S., the waiter usually brings you your check the second you’re done shoveling in your food, sometimes even before, because someone else needs your table and they want you out of there. Nora, it seems, was born a Roman.
Oh, and the cleanup? It hasn’t been as awful as I thought it would be – whatever Nora doesn’t eat – provided it’s safe for dogs, of course – ends up being, uhm, composted via Wellie and Basil. Nora starting solids is pretty much the best thing that ever happened to them…and it’s pretty damn fun for us, too.
I got a migraine yesterday. Bizarrely, it only lasted half a day (rather than the typical three days, thank Jebus), but it was definitely a migraine…and taking care of a baby while vomiting and being partially blind from an aura sucked just as much as I thought it would. I assumed I would be free from migraines as long as I avoid gluten, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t ingest any rogue glutonium yesterday, so now I’m freaking out that they might be returning. Hopefully it was just a freak hormonal thing, but I might as well use this as a wake-up call to start living healthier.
Beyond not eating gluten, the things I assume might help ward off migraines are the old oh-so-important cliches: Eat well. Move more. Get enough sleep. I currently kind of suck at all of these, so I need something to keep me accountable. I really enjoyed being part of tumfit earlier this year – it motivated me to squeeze in short but very efficient workouts during naptime – but I totally fell out of that habit when the challenge ended. The solution (I hope)? Join another challenge! I signed up for Adventure Baby Boost, which starts next week. I’m hoping a group of fellow outdoorsy mamas is just what I need to keep going.
My main goal for the six weeks is simply to create a habit out of taking the time for myself to exercise – beyond the walk I take every day with Nora. This will help me Beat the Blerch come September, too…and hopefully make me feel the good sort of tired that will end this stupid insomnia (and the consequent chocolate binges).