Sunday, August 19, 2012

Just thinking...

So. We are parents. This thought blows my mind almost every single day. The responsibility that comes along with it is so huge that it becomes too much to think about most of the time. Which is good, I think. Otherwise what would I become, if I thought of it always? A pile of worry, a giant heap of concern, regret, anxiety, guilt. These are the things that come along with having a baby that I hadn't thought about. The labor, the breastfeeding, the lack of sleep...all of these things I thought about constantly. What about all of the parenting pressures out there? What about the pressures you put on yourself? What about the insane responsibility to raise a wonderful, happy, smart, kind, joyful...child. I mean, I'm exhausted just thinking about the pressure, let alone from the actual weight of it. But the thing is, the thing is that it is so big, and if you really think about it too much it will backfire. If you read too many books, if you succumb to too many rules, if you focus all of your attention on doing it RIGHT you will inevitably do it WRONG. Being a parent is like being an athlete, there is only so much training you can do before you just have to trust yourself, and as they say "get into the zone". Confidence goes a remarkably long way as a new parent.  I have always been a part of the "fake it 'till you make it" fan club. And for us that has been paramount in surviving, no not just surviving, but thriving in the first 6 months of this insane adventure we are on. Oh yeah. It's only been 9 months. Which means we haven't even gotten to any of the Parenting (capital P) yet.  Which is even more mind blowing. That I could spend as much time as I do worrying about nurturing this amazing person and we have barely even begun.  Maybe I am writing this, maybe I am telling myself all of this as a reminder. In the future when the tough stuff happens I'll have the months and years behind me, a lot of training, and hopefully I'll be able to find this zone. Maybe if we just keep holding our heads up our little girl will trust us, we seem to know what we're doing. We appear to be capable, and to her that is all she needs.

For the love of food...

Produce Delivery Bin
 George W Bush once said, "I know how hard it is to put food on your family" Truer words have never been spoken. Unless they are very tiny and you can hold them down long enough to apply the food, putting food on your family is very difficult. Even more difficult is putting food IN your family. That is not entirely true, getting the food in is easy, getting the food period can be the hard part. I already mentioned in an earlier post about our monthly family menu and how much that has changed our eating habits. The difficult part for us has always been just figuring out what the heck we were going to eat. Jesse had a hard time understanding how long certain things would take to make and when I would ask him what he wanted his answer usually was "enchiladas" or "roasted chicken". At this point it was always 7 or 8 at night and we were already famished. Not exactly quick and easy meals. Then I would get Hangry (anger caused by hunger) and snap at him for picking stupid food. And eventually we would just go out. Well, not only was this pattern not healthy for our relationship but it was hell on our health in general. Here in Bellingham we have the luxury of having a lot of quick and healthy take out options. But nothing really beats a home cooked meal. All the more reason why this monthly menu was so helpful.

I'm not going to lie, as amazing as this menu is we totally stopped following it about a month ago. So why? Why do I keep going on about how amazing it is? Why did I just waste an entire blog paragraph babbling about it? Because it's structure and it's presence help us organize our meal thoughts. If we can't think of something, or we're just too tired to be creative, we can look up at the menu and say "hey! it says here that it's BLT and salad night!" done. Another reason we ended up not following it exactly is that we started getting organic produce deliveries every other week. This alone has dictated so much of what we eat, in a similar way as the menu has. By limiting our options we actually opened up our options. It's a lot easier to look at the week ahead with a suggested menu in one hand and a fridge full of produce and make decisions. We haven't had take out in over two weeks, and the last couple times we ate out were breakfasts because they are fun and they have pancakes. Plus, breakfast is always loud! Families just pouring all over the place, we fit right in! Pancakes on the floor! Blueberries in our hair! Just like everyone else! It is a really good way to make sure Bean gets out and gets comfortable with restaurants without disturbing other diners date nights.

Lyla's relationship with food is very important to us. Be it getting comfortable with restaurants and understanding how they work, to knowing that meal times mean the family sits down together and eats together, to knowing what whole foods taste like, and that there is a world of flavors and it's all hers if she wants it! And most importantly that food is energy AND it's fun and my hope above all hopes is that she has a POSITIVE relationship with eating and food. A very different experience than I have had in my past. For as much as I love food my relationship with it has been very dysfunctional. A lot of weight issues, a lot of guilt attached to food. Blech. Some really horrible feelings that I hope my daughter doesn't have to encounter.

For me, with all of my anxiety and control issues, food was something I felt I could control, for good or for bad. In my early twenties this manifested as eating disorders, in my adulthood it's manifested as a love for cooking. Thank god for cooking. It may have saved my life. Nothing feels better than spending a few hours in the kitchen, all of the stresses slip away and I feel a sense of power and of calm. It is especially rewarding when I get to feed my family. So when it came time for Lyla to start eating solids I couldn't wait to get in there and start cooking. I have such little control over anything anymore, a big lesson for me to learn, and one I am welcoming with open arms. I can plan and plan and plan and in one second all of that will have to change. It's freeing, but it can also still be difficult at times. So once again I take solace in the one thing that I can take charge of and that is food.

Snack time!
For Lyla her food story has only just begun. The most we can do now is give her as wholesome food as possible, and try to introduce as many interesting flavors as well.  There is A LOT of information out there regarding what and how and when and wha wha wha to feed the baby. It can be overwhelming, contradictory, and incredibly stressful. But what we figured is that while we are in charge of what goes into her body, if we can just give her the cleanest and best and most flavorful and most nutritional stuff that we can, then maybe when it's her time to pick and choose what she eats she'll make the right decisions, and maybe even enjoy all the wonderful things a life filled with good food can bring...sigh...that is the hope anyways.

Mint Carrots, frozen for later
Just this last week we decided to introduce some meat into her diet. She is mostly sustained on breastmilk with a couple of other meals thrown in. We try to do a fruit and grain in the morning and a protein and veggie in the evening. We also try to have her eat when we do, family meal. I have made some easy foods that we keep in the freezer. This way we always have something fast and baby friendly, but still healthy and interesting. No processed anything. She loves her kale pesto whole wheat pasta (so easy to make a big batch of pasta and sauce and then freeze in individual servings for later!), and her mint carrots. We also keep organic frozen broccoli, peas, edamame, and corn, on hand. They heat up fast and provide a really good finger food. We toss them with different herbs and spices, or throw some tofu in the mix and do a little stirfry for her. Since I am gluten free she also will snack on some of my gf toast in the morning with her plums, blueberries, or whatever fruit came in the produce bin that week!

Turkey Party Patties
Kale Pesto Pasta
She's growing up so fast and already is showing us that she'd like to eat more and more solids on her own. This is why we decided to go ahead and throw in some meat. I went and got some ground antibiotic free etc etc turkey and beef. What I wanted was to make some sort of patty that could serve as kind of an all in one meal. So I decided to add some of that baby cereal, the Earths Best Whole Grain cereal, and I pureed broccoli, chard, kale, onion, carrots, and garlic in the food processor and added that too (I strained some of the liquid out). So I made two batches, one of turkey and one of beef.  I formed them into little patties and baked them until they were well done. I threw the cooked patties into a freezer bag (separated by a piece of parchment paper). I prefer to thaw them in the fridge, but the microwave works wonders. She devours them and it's pretty cool that they are filled with all sorts of good stuff for her.

Oh, and don't worry guys. It won't be ALL tofu and kale for this babe. Look at her parents. I mean for reals, her dad has been known to devour an entire sleeve of Oreos in one sitting. And I haven't met a pizza I didn't fall in love with. We're just tricking her now into loving all the good stuff, we'll let her grandparents show her the goooood stuff.

Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better. -Robert Redford

 If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him... the people who give you their food give you their heart. -Cesar Chavez

Monday, August 6, 2012

Just like the fourth of July...

It get's harder and harder to make friends the older you get. When my two besties and I ended up living in different cities for most of our college years I thought it would be impossible to make friends like that again, but I did, I met some of my best friends in college. But, when all of my college friends left our little city for bigger and better job opportunities I thought that would really be it. I would have to visit them all over the country in order to have that good of friends. Because at 23 I really thought I had made the best of the friends I would ever have. I should've learned to not trust my worries, because it was in my mid twenties that I met my best friend. She wasn't in a very good place, was in the middle of a tough relationship, had been knocked down a few times in her life. But it wasn't me swooping in to help her out, help her through this tough time, that is not how we became friends. No, it was the other way around. In the middle of all her crap, she lent us a hand though only knowing us in passing. This act, taking Jesse and I in when we needed a place to live for a month, is so representative of who she is as a friend. Jesse only lived there for two weeks until he went off to Oregon for his summer job (I joined him just two weeks later). In those two weeks when it was just the two of us, me finishing my art school final projects, us talking over bad television and even worse beer. We opened up, we bonded, and thus solidified our storybook friendship.

When she started dating her soon to be husband he would get so confused when the two of us were together. Because it would appear that we were having full conversations, understanding everything the other was saying, and yet only a few words would leave our mouth. We were speaking our secret language, one we didn't even know we had. Jesse and I had been together for awhile when her and I met so he never even paid attention to our babbling. But this new guy thought it was hilarious. And Jesse and I loved this new guy. Not just because he was such a vast improvement over the other guys, but because he was genuinely a great guy and one we immediately attached ourselves to. So much so that the four of us (plus a stowaway) took an all night road trip to San Francisco just months after they started dating. Well, we couldn't have been happier when they got engaged, or sadder when they moved 9 hours away (he got his dream job). And I couldn't have been more honored to have been asked to be her maid of honor.

Which! Is kind of why I started writing this post. Just this last weekend we flew up our bride to be to enjoy a weekend in the city, to relax, and to see family, and to take a break from wedding planning.  We had a small shower at her sister's house, it was all sorts of america. With sliders and potato salad. Lemon drop martini's (yum!) and champagne jell-o. And to top it off, Pie! We followed this up with some line dancing lessons, a rooftop sunset and cocktail, and her and I ended the night with a glass of champagne and our feet up.  Which is just how we started our friendship, although the alcohol has gotten better.

We had visited her and her fiance the week before and she made us these amazing turkey burgers. So, while I had planned to make beef sliders, I took notes from her and decided to make turkey sliders instead. When the men returned to pick up their women from the shower they hovered around the left over sliders and devoured them. So it is by request of the brides sister that I post my recipe, as vague and homecooking as it is.

All American Turkey Sliders
(Did you know the wild Turkey was ALMOST the national bird for the USA? The more you know...ding ding ding)

All ingredients are "ish".

1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
2 tbls soy sauce
2 tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 tbls garlic powder
1 tbls dried oregano
1/4 onion shredded
1 slice of bread toasted and ground into bread crumbs


Combine all the ingredients (hands work best here, especially little kid hands!). Form into 2 1/2 inch round patties and line them on a baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Add cheese at the end if you'd like. I served them on potato rolls. But some stores offer slider buns now! You can grill the burgers too, they would be awesome that way! Since I was cooking thirty of them at a party (i doubled this recipe) I needed to cook a lot of them without having to hover over a grill.

Stick 'em with an american flag pick, sing the National Anthem, and get your America on. I just realized how perfectly appropriate these are for the Olympics. Ahhh, the Olympics, that is a whole other post on it's own...

The parties were a blast, I love my bff, and I cannot wait for the REAL party in just a few weeks.