I spend a lot of time thinking about food. Today, for example, I spent 3 hours cooking a dinner to freeze for later this week, preparing apple and pear sauce for Alice's lunches this week, another 30 minutes preparing our lunches and cleaning up afterward, and I have yet to make dinner. Between my work and feeding my family, it sometimes feels... exorbitant. Shouldn't this basic necessity be pretty... straightforward? But it is not, as anyone can tell you.
A few weeks ago, I started teaching a nutrition education class for people living with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. It's been a good experience so far - the people in the class are older, and very kind, and it feels like spending time with a room full of grandmothers (and one quarky uncle). It also sheds light on just how complicated our problems with food have become. Each week we set small goals for ourselves that we think might be achievable over the next 7 days (mine continues to be going to bed earlier, despite my utter incapacity to do so). I'm often surprised by how basic many of these goals are --- walk 1 block every day, eat 2 meals without meat over the course of the week, cut back from 20 to 15 cigarettes each day. These are all really important changes to make, and have a substantial impact on health. But they also point out how hard it is to be healthy in an environment surrounded by easy access to meat, cigarettes, and crappy food; how little activity is required in our daily lives; and how much we have to fight against our auto-pilot, routine-driven tendencies.
Tonight you took your first official steps!! You've been toying with the idea of walking for a couple of weeks now, lifting a leg here and there, teetering about the apartment. We've even seen you take a step or two on other occasions before falling softly to the ground.
But there was something different about what we witnessed tonight. Rather than moving towards Daddy or me, you faced away from us, determined to explore other parts of the apartment where we were not. You stood up, stared out of the playroom into the living room, and willed these steps to happen. The look of determination on your face was captivating, and your daddy and I watched in silence as you took one, then two, then three steps forward. As soon as you fell, we erupted into cheers, beaming. You looked around, proud of yourself and the attention your movement earned, and clapped your sweet little hands together.
A walker, you are.
I love you more than anything ever, my darling Alice.
So it's been a hectic, rainy, stressful morning. Michael and I had to work hard to get us all out the door - and into the rain - reasonably close to on time. Alice slept so well that I had to wake her up, which meant we had a fussy baby. And she decided against nursing yet again, leaving me incredibly uncomfortable and scrambling to find a way to pump before making my first trek out to our new offices in Queens. When I finally got out the door, I had a fussy baby, an umbrella, and two bags to carry down to our "daycare" where I prayed I would find a pump.
Needless to say, I was feeling frazzled and even a little frustrated.
But then, do you know what happened while we stood there, stuff in hand, waiting for an elevator?!? Alice put her head on my shoulder and - I swear I heard this - said "Momma."
Friday: Dinner & drinks with friends (while Alice slept soundly in the next room)
Saturday: Work, Grocery Store, then Park, Nap, Park, Dinner
Sunday: Family Breakfast (scrambled eggs and english muffins), Cleaning around the House, Downtown for Test Kitchen Chipotle, shopping for Alice (shoes and socks), a visit with our bookstore family, and a purchase at my favorite tea shop.
Now getting settled for the night. Making parsnip risotto with pancetta and sage for dinner. Cooking Alice's apple sauce, pears and squash. Maybe attempting taxes, cookies, and/or laundry.
I still think our 2 days with family to 5 days with work is excessive, but I'm glad we've savored these two days as much as we have!
This morning - this beautiful, sunny, first-day-of-spring morning - I walked Alice down to daycare. I can't tell you what a boost it is, pushing a happy baby along the streets of Manhattan. Such a fabulous way to start the day!
Okay, so I'll admit it. I spoil her. Alice is almost 1, and she still wakes up in the middle of the night. She wakes up to nurse, to cuddle, to be held by mamma. It's quiet, peaceful time with my daughter, and given how hectic our days are, I've clung to this precious time with her just as much as she has.
And yet now, as her first birthday approaches, I realize that it is time to make a change. She needs to be able to sleep through the night, and I need to be able to enjoy some deep sleep for the first time in a year. But I have to admit to feeling very torn about ending our nighttime reunions. When I spend a grand total of 3 hours a day with her during the work week (on a good day), what's the harm in holding on to our ritual? What's the problem (other than my near constant exhaustion) with spending the 3:30 - 4 am timeframe with her?
In an effort to save money and thanks to a 7 PM bedtime for the babe, Michael & I have been eating at home very regularly these days. I now have a handful of recipes that I can throw together in 30-40 minutes, and I rotate among them very frequently.
While I am really proud of myself for getting to this point (those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I used to feel utterly overwhelmed in the kitchen), lately I've been in need of some healthy, quick, tasty recipes to add to the rotation.
Well, heeeelllllloooooo Fine Cooking! Every meal I have tried from this magazine has been outstanding! It has a wonderful collection of easy as well as fancier dinners, presented in new and interesting ways. Last night we had lamb pitas with a citrus salad --- delicious!!
"But when she stepped off the train in New York, her plain little face looked beautiful for a moment, as if the future were opening before her and its glow were already upon her forehead, as if she were eager and proud and ready to meet it..."