Saturday, January 30, 2010

Transatlantic Dreamin'

Apologies for the last post, everyone. I wasn't in the best of moods. After a reassuring e-mail from my grandmother, whose wisdom in these vicissitudes of parenting cannot be doubted, and a lovely lighthearted visit from my father, all is well. Now, my retinas are bathed in sunshine this morn, topped with a snoozing baby in my lap, I couldn't be in a better mood.

This morning I'm looking at cruises. Transatlantic cruises to be exact. One of my pasttimes when all books are out of my reach and I'm stuck on the couch is too look up vacations that I'll never be able to afford. Not in the near future anyway. The idea of a caribbean cruise just doesn't appeal to me. I like the idea of taking a boat to get somewhere, which has become crazy and outmoded. A boat across the ocean takes approximately 14 days from what I understand, leaving from New York and arriving in my favourite of all the dead and sinking cities, Venice. After spending a week in Venice with my family, (drinking heady Italian wine along the canals, running lost, through the labyrinthine piazzas and alleyways, to find ourselves at yet another dead and watery finish to the street), we would return once again to North America by boat. On the return cruise, I would spend more time on the deck, staring out at the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean and put myself in the place of my relatives who all undoubtedly made that very trek. They would have smelled the same smells of the ocean, which I would guess smells quite different smack in the centre. Probably fresher and less like the wharfy smell that I associate with shore. Even my seasickness would be a testament to my pilgrimage. It would be all worth it to walk (or sail) in the footsteps of my ancestors.

Romanticism is both the folly and redemptive aspect of my character, I know.

I'm waiting for mail at the moment. Ender-boy has grown out of his baby bjorn carrier and I desperately needed a new one that I could carry him in when he's even a toddler. I've felt especially trapped in the house lately, due to the fact that taking a stroller on public transportation doesn't appeal to me, and carrying my baby feels so much more secure. I've ordered a baby hawk (in zebra print, of course) so that I may once again traipse around the city with my little papoose. I'll post pictures of me and Ender with it when it arrives, t-minus 10 days from now.

Also, Ender has begun to say 'mama' clear as a bell. Time it would seem, restless as it is, has no patience for the viscosity of experience that I so desire. He spat out the word as I was half asleep, and quickly as that it was done. Now he can speak, and the adorable muteness of babyhood is over.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Something a little different today. I found this post in the 'drafts' section of my blog. This never was posted, and was written when Ender was two weeks old, May 20th, 2009:

Having Ender in my life has proven such a whirlwind event, that I find myself crashing on my face at 9:30 every night with a serious headache and an inability to process the way my life has changed. I imagine that this is a coping mechanism, because if I did have time to think about it, I might grieve it a little. It might bother me more.

Ender is going through a growth spurt. He has always had long sleeps and long feeds, but even moreso now. He sleeps for three intervals during the night, and has two naps during the day. In the day he will eat for sometimes three hours at a time. All I can do is sit and feed him. It's starting to make me terribly irritable, especially with this glorious weather that is just a touch too cold to nurse a newborn outside in. Plus I'm not good enough at nursing yet to do it in any precarious positions. Even when I try and do so laying down, his latch is bad and he screams out with dismay at his inability to feed what I imagine is a clawing hunger that posesses his tiny brand-new soul.

I'll be the first to admit that I've not been incredibly pleasant. I have devoted so much energy to this child that I feel too overwhelmed to deal with any other human, including myself, including my husband. I try and save smiles for him, and time for me, but most of the time my brow is furrowed and I'm totally totally lost in thought. What about? Number of wet diapers vs. number of feeds (signs of a good latch and a good feed), whether or not this nap will be the nap that means that I get to nap, and what the hell I'm going to do once Mike's paternity leave is over. This is not to mention the barrage of appointments that we need to go to in the next month. I guess the thing that worries me most is that I'll never snap out of this survival mode. I'll always be tired and crabby and bitchy, and always be desperate for a nap more than a kiss from my man. That's a scary thought, and not a reality that I want to accept.

I never posted it because I recognized the blink-in-time that it represented. I was filled with so much fear at the time. The truth is, a lot hasn't changed since then. I mean, I'm no longer afraid that Ender will fail to thrive. His chubby legs, wrists and face are a testament to the success of breastfeeding. But I am still in survival mode, and at times cracks appear in this veneer that I've developed. I get so scared. Scared that I can't do this and the things I have dreams of doing. That I'm not a good mom. That in my fear of being a bad mom I'm being an overly good mom and a bad wife.
The fact of the matter is that I am irrevocably changed, and feeling your personality changing is even scarier than noticing the events that change you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Importance of Sunshine

I think part of what I like so much about blogging is the ability to justify grandoise titles at least once a day.

The last week has been miserable weather. Warm, but gray. Our townhouse faces the direction of both sunrise and sunset, and is generally flooded with light. During sunny days, even in winter, we can turn off the heat and boil like orchids in a greenhouse. Surfaces are warm to the touch. Lately, however, the heat has been cranked. I wake up in the morning achey from cold and I can't seem to get warm. My outlook becomes dire. Bread doesn't rise. My son teethes and refuses to nap. I stay inside, because regardless of the warm weather, I have no need to go out if there is no sun. Both my mother and father hate the winter. I was not raised to love any winter sports, or to think of snow as creating a 'winter wonderland'. All winter long we would bitch and complain and be at eachother's throats. Then spring comes and all is forgiven.

My point is that today there is sunshine, and I didn't really notice what a terrible nose-to-the-ground kind of mood I've been in for the last seven days until the weather turned itself around. And oh, what a glorious thing sun is! Snow is falling quite rapidly, I think we may have a couple of cm by the end of the day, but I'll be just fine with that as long as the sun keeps shining.

I really can't believe how quickly the winter has been going. This is my first winter with a baby and I'm guessing that's why. Kids are such time sucks, in the best way possible. It's almost February, and I consider that to be the last month of winter.

Today I made pierogi from scratch with Mike's assistance. They were amazing. A bit-time consuming, but totally worth it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Big Bad Budget - Part II

Well the budgeting seems like it's going well. Since I wrote that post I've been trying to cut corners in groceries every way I can think of. We're buying bulk meat, beans and I'm making everything from scratch, in bulk. Aside from dinners, I've made, so far: cornbread (twice), chocolate chip tea loaf, banana bread, rice pudding (thanks for the recipe Andrea!) and one other thing I can't recall at the moment. Snack foods are pricy. I've attempted to make bread a number of times but have repeatedly failed. We have now concluded that this is likely due to using all-purpose instead of bread flour. I mean, the bread is edible, but certainly far from the dream puff loaves I was making before. Anyway, the running tally is approximately 57 dollars, and it looks like we'll make it until friday on what we've bought with that. Yay! We're not eating badly, either. Breakfast is usually a bagel with egg, or Japanese rice and egg (very good). Lunch is our dinner, since Mike works nights, and we've eaten Colcannon (an irish boiled dinner with cabbage and potatoes), pasta with veggies, risotto with salad, etc. At the moment I'm thawing a turkey which I think I should be able to stretch for at least three more days.

One of my inspirations is the hillbilly housewife, who makes everything from scratch. Her recipes are for the most part, healthy, budget friendly and foundational. I especially like her article on home made convenience foods and so-called apron evangelism For some reason all of this budget friendliness has lead me to a number of baptist wife websites. I'm not quite sure what it is about Christian wives that makes them so handy in the kitchen. I respect what they do, but I'm also kind of proud to be in the minority of secular housewives, who are still trying to eke out a way to stay at home with their babies through drinking reconstituted milk. Yep, we've switched to powdered milk. It's actually not that bad, though it tastes a little different, it's a lot less expensive and almost identical when you bake with it. And I've been baking 'round the clock. 

Hmm, well I'm tired of this blog entry for some reason. So I'm going to end it here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just the Right Amount of Swish: 50s fashion starts with the undies

My fingers are itching to sew. My sewing table has been changed into a change table for the moment, while our houseguest inhabits Ender's room and his change table. Still, I find myself dreaming of 50's era dresses with swishy skirts and bullet bras. What Kate Did seems to be the best (if not only) website that features bullet bras and the mini New Look corsets that nip in your waist just right, and Vogue has vintage dress patterns with just the right degree of swish. I picture myself vaccuming my split level house in heels and pearls with my frilly apron, while Ender plays docile with his wooden blocks.

But it would seem that I must wait, just a little longer, before the time will be afforded to me to make such a dress. Also, the fabric is very important and I've been unimpressed by the fabric stores I've been to in this city. Fabricland has a great selection of fabrics for crafts, or if you'd like to sew your own wedding dress, but not so much for quality dressmaking supplies. Upholstery fabrics, what with the DIY revolution, are plentiful. But where to find a quality dressmaker's crepe? I suspect I must delve in to the garment district in Chinatown, where one risks finding excellent deals or being horribly ripped off.

The right fabric is essential for the right amount of skirty swish and drape. On the Vogue website you'll see that they've actually made the pattern and photographed it with a real model. But in most of them, it's plain to see they've used the wrong fabric: the model is dressed in hideously cheap cotton broadcloth. The drape expressed in the drawing is not done justice. Also, her underwear is all wrong, her breasts melded in the circular shape that is popular now, not the bullet shape that was popular then. Her waist to shoulder ratio is practically nill. I am such a stickler for authenticity, it almost takes the fun of things. But not quite. The journey for just the right amount of swish shall be a long one.

Yes, I acknowledge that dresses in the 50s were often made of ugly broadcloth, but why oh why, dear reader, would one want to recreate the ugly part of a decade? Why not a little bit of Mary Pickford, Marilyn Monroe, and a dash of Bridgette Bardot? If we're going to go back through time, why not pick the beautiful things?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Weekend of Ho-hum

Well folks, Ender is almost 9 months and boy does it show! Aside from being massive we're talking about fighting through feedings, screaming, kicking, biting. Sleep schedules disrupted. Tears (on both sides) shed. My little man is definitely going through something. Not sure if it's a growth spurt, new teeth, a new skill, or all three. He has been treading water in the arena of crawling for quite a while though. I suppose it's possible he may just be my mobile little guy soon enough. This change of personality has been especially difficult due to the fact that since christmas he has been so smiley and laugh-ey.

I went down to my mom's farm this weekend, and though I had plans to go visit friends with the baby and do ten million other things I can now no longer remember, Ender basically whimpered through the whole trip. We cut the trip short by a night, driving home in absolutely terrible foggy/snowy/rainy weather. Arguments were had between Mike and I that I'm not proud of. However, I'm not entirely sure I can be blamed due to my intense state of sleep deprivation. Once we got home, Ender had a nice big poop and was back to his normal gurgly and happy self. I have no idea what was going on there, but I am preparing myself for another night of screaming bloody hell. That way I will have bolstered the walls of my sanity.

So all in all, my weekend was very ho-hum, and a lot more work than I intended it to be. I didn't really get to relax, and I feel like I've aged about five years.

For dinner tonight I made risotto. Risotto is italian rice. Gooey, glutenous rice. I never really liked it before, but lately it has just become THE comfort food for me. I was buying it in the pre-made kraft-dinner-esque packages for a while, but tonight was my first stab at it from scratch. A third of a bottle of vermouth later, it turned out fantastic. It's actually the perfect food to make for me, because I always eff up rice because I keep checking on it, ruining the steam seal. Risotto however, is just constantly adding (broth, wine, vermouth, water, you name it) and stirring. It made me happy. My risotto was kickass.

The boys (Mike and our houseguest) were kicked out of the house to a bar, by me, an hour ago. Because Mike works evenings, Ender has become used to falling asleep on his mommy with no distractions aside from the sound of me typing and Jazz FM. I figure my hubbie deserves a little bar time anyway. My secret to a good marriage: Know when to kick your husband out for 'man time' with his friends. Even if he doesn't want to, it's good for his soul. And what is being a wife and mother, if not knowing best.

Final note: I am going to the gym this week coming up. If I do not go, everyone who reads this blog has full and complete rights to give me crap about it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

On Cosleeping and Bedsharing (and why I think it's a-ok)

I've been really frustrated lately. And no, it's not because of cosleeping. Rather, it's the misunderstanding that exists on cosleeping. So I'm here to clear up a few things. I'm a little tired of people giving me empathetic pats on the shoulder when I say Ender sleeps in bed with us. No, it's no bed of roses. Yes, sometimes Mike and I find ourselves squished on one side with Ender gloriously sprawled on the other. But it was a choice, and one that I am very happy with and am willing to defend. I'm going to give you my take on it, which because this is a blog, I refuse to qualify with sources. You'll just have to believe me that I've read a lot on the subject.

First of all, the idea of training our babies to sleep independently is a relatively new one. Cribs as we know them today started appearing en masse in the victorian era. This was in response to the belief that it was genteel not to know anything about the going ons of your children. Some women would fake it, others would actually avoid their kids. Some believe this is due to Queen Victoria, who was quite publicly disinterested in children generally, and her own children specifically. Before this, bed sharing, aka 'family bed' was the norm. If there was no space in mom and dad's bed, then the kids would go into bed with siblings. Protestants, with their sexual moralizing and beliefs about corporeal punishment, saw a separate bed for a baby as a good idea. It would foster the strength and independence that they valued. It should be noted during this period of time that toddlers were having their gums excised (sliced open) and many died of sepsis, and people suffering from depression were locked into lunatic asylums and hosed down with water on a regular basis as part of treatment. It wasn't the forerunning times for medicine, let alone child psychology.

So, with the seperate accomodations came long nights of crying and clingy children. This was alright though, because most Victorian homes had at least one servant, who could stay up with the kid and be exhausted in the morning. I'm sure if it was the servant's choice, the child would be in bed with them and there are accounts of this occuring. As was common with the time, the moralized practice was bolstered with pseudo science, Ms. Beeton, in her tome on household management was quite authorative on the subject, claiming it was unhealthful for a mother to sleep with her babe, who would suck her dry like a "little vampire".

While crib sleeping has dragged on as a cultural norm, medical research has been unclear on whether crib sleeping is safer than bed sharing. While the APA says cosleeping is a good idea, this is technically only having the crib in the same room as you (ie. not in a nursery). For those who oppose bed sharing, the data is quite clear: cases of SIDS are frequently caused by bedsharing. People in beds that are too small, who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, who smoke, who formula feed, or who are obese are at particular risk. Proponents of bed sharing however, have astoundingly more evidence.

First of all SIDS is not the same as rolling on your baby. This is suffocation. SIDS is unexplained infant death, and also happens when babies are put in cribs by themselves. Secondly, babies who sleep with their mothers rarely roll on their tummies (because this would move them away from the breast) which has been established as a contravening variable in SIDS. Synchronous breathing has been associated with bed sharing. The part of babies' brains that reminds them to breathe regularly is not fully established, and when close to their mother they are 'reminded' to breathe. Also, infants who cosleep do not go as long without nursing, which can be very helpful to working mothers whose babes refuse the bottle, and whose supply is threatened by exclusive pumping.  The 'distractable baby' also will eat better when in a state of half-sleep, which means distracted feedings during the day are less of an issue.

Now I state all of this as though I am against the crib, which I'm not. Some children will happily sleep in their crib from sunset to sunrise with nary a complaint. However, the environment which we have created where images of sleep-deprived parents walk like zombies around the house, trying to rock their seven, eight, twelve month old babes to sleep need not be the only reality.  My troubles with sleep started with trying to obey the norms that were enforced by my peers, and ended with my acceptance that my life is now baby-led. There is a certain amount of peace in that.

So, understandably it is frustrating when I am asked repeatedly 'How is the baby sleeping?'. 'Great!" I respond, truly meaning it. I don't get to sleep in, but I almost always get a minimum of 8 hours. If not, it's my own fault. 'Has he started sleeping in the crib yet?" They ask me sadly, as though I've failed in some way. I wish their was some succinct way of explaining that I haven't tried in months, that even if he would sleep in his crib, I'm not sure that I'd want him to.  I remember when he was a very young baby, and would sleep perfectly fine on his own for hours at a time, how poor my sleep was. I'd wake every hour, checking that his little hands hadn't covered his face, that he hadn't been crying and I hadn't heard. I wish I could express the reassurance that is felt when I reach out and feel his little chest rising and falling in perfect tempo.

I never intended to have a family bed. The idea seemed strange and foreign and dangerous. But then again, so did breastfeeding, and now I can't imagine being without it as the greatest parenting tool I have at my disposal.

But there is no way to explain it, no more than I could convince someone that there's not a God, or that someone could convince me that what I'm doing is wrong. It's just the way things are. So ends my rant, and my explanation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Big Bad Budget

Today was a rocky beginning. I woke at 5:30 being punched in the face by tiny fists. My baby boy, despite fighting sleep until 8pm last night, was up early and was having none of my attempts to get him to sleep just a little bit longer.

"Mike." I shoved my husband. Another shove. He is a heavy sleeper. I heard a muffled sound that let me know he was slightly awake.

"I need you to wake up with the baby. I know you work late but I need you to wake up with the baby just this once so that every time I wake up with him in the morning from now on, I'll know that it's not forever and that someday I'll get to sleep again." I was panicky, my voice rising in the dark. "If you do, for just one hour, I'll let you come back to bed and sleep as long as you want." I would have promised him the world at that point, because at that moment I was convinced that my sanity depended on his coparenting.

Ender cooed, grabbing my face.  I gave Mike another shove.

"As long as I want?" I nodded ferociously.

"Yes yes. Sure." He said, stumbling out of bed and I let out a sigh of relief. "Wait. I have to go pick up the bed from my parent's today." All muscles that were relaxed tightened again. Mike works the afternoon shift, meaning he gets to sleep in. If he wakes up early, he needs a nap so that he won't fall asleep at the wheel of his forklift.

So, with much remorse, he returned to bed and I pulled myself up, with the tearful conclusion that I would never sleep again. After a cup of coffee of course, I returned to my senses. But still, life as a mom, with all that work stretching before me, seemingly without end, can be a daunting one. And I, when deprived of company, food and sleep, fall back to the same obsession: The Budget.

The Budget has come and gone in our marital environment from day one. Being transient workers as we are, it is constantly changing. Our rent changes from year to year, our pay changes from month to month, and while we wouldn't have it any other way, it means it is easy to stop paying attention and overspend. It also means that every time we take a pay cut, I feel like I'm standing on the precipice of disaster. "You need to smoke less." I wheedle at Mike, picturing myself somehow cutting expenses by cooking large amounts of pasta and freezing it, or something. "Lentils!" I shout, as though this vegetarian war cry will save my bank account from its untimely overdraft.

The fact of the matter is, I haven't the first idea how to cut back expenses. I do know how to track expenses, which is usually sufficient to stop that inbetween money from disappearing. Ten dollars here and there really adds up, and I'm nothing if not an impulse spender. Occasionally we implement the 'jar system' which helps. But every time The Budget returns, I can't help but feel that I'm not doing enough. Surely there is some way to cook less expensively?! This is our largest money drain. So dear readers, I shall begin to blog, starting today, on my new journey with food. Cheap food. Hopefully still good food. No more duck pate, or creme anglais, no.

Tonight's project: Ground chicken with spaghetti squash. It is budget friendly because I bought it already. The goal: To spend no more than one hundred dollars a week on groceries.
The major offenders: Dairy in general. We go through approximately six litres of milk a week, one pint of cream, a bar of butter and two large sticks of cheese. Bread is expensive and Mike uses a lot for his lunches. If I could effectively bake my own (I've failed at four loaves in a row, in my breadmaker no less) then that would save some cash too.

I'm optimistic, and in a better mood than I was when I woke this morning. Proactivity always helps.

In other news, we are expecting a houseguest for the month. A friend of ours who is interning at CBC radio. I'm looking forward to the company!

Monday, January 18, 2010

ponderings on feminsm

Well it would seem that my work has come to somewhat of a close, if not a break. This is probably a good thing, as Ender seems particularly needy today, perhaps in response to my absence. Usually he'll sit on his own for a few moments at least on the floor, if not for an entire half an hour, happily playing with his toys. Today, however, his face crumples immediately, turning a tomato red and begins to moan. He closes his eyes and falls on his face. Yes, on his face, dear readers. I'm not sure if he's aware that he completely loses his balance when he's upset, or if he's just so distracted by the devastating fact that he is not sitting on my lap that it makes him keel over. Either way, it's very concerning and so I've spent the entire evening catering to my tiny dictator, sipping on yerba mate tea and watching episodes of Big Love. This usually wouldn't bother me, except due to my baking and cooking binge of the last few days, there are no clean dishes. I managed to toss a few into the dishwasher but the counters remain covered.

Anyway, Big Love is about a polygamous family in Utah. I've always had a penchant for religion, as well as dress, so this set me to the costumer's manifesto which is my favourite most exhaustive source for all things clothing-related. Modest clothing, which is of it's own type and persuasion, is one of my favorites. This is probably because it is the last existing throwback to a time when women dressed in long dresses, puffy sleeves and pinafores. There's just something wonderful about it. First, it's the idea of mystery. The fact that men, rather seeing every part of you, are left to wonder. They practically waxed philosophical about women's ankles in the Victorian era. Now men hardly bat an eyelash at a boob. This is really a pity, since the female form has such enticing characteristics aside from our boobs. What about the slope of a shoulder or the slenderness of a wrist?

Also, there is a forced grace of a long skirt. A requiring of chivalry and assistance. I'm sure any dyed in the wool feminist would be upset to hear me say such things. But I defend myself with this: my feminism is about embracing my femininity, and all that it has entailed throughout the centuries. Yes, femininity now means wearing what we'd like, and doing what we'd like. But a thousand years ago, it meant wearing long skirts, and slaving over vats of bubbling hot fat to make soap for your family.

And I think that's pretty badass.

I think we need to retool our definition of a 'strong' woman. The current one seems too reactionary. It's as though all the feminists from the era of Ms. magazine and the Berkeley bra burners just got so far and then dropped everything, leaving my generation with a thoroughly outmoded and unworkable definition of strength. I would like to see strength in a woman be about enjoying the very expression of our womanhood. Why does keeping step with a man in both personal and professional arenas mean that we have succeeded? Of course, this is all fine and good if it is what is wanted by a woman, but their are practical considerations (such as being the primary biological caregiver of young children) that must be made. Why has the term 'women's work' become pejorative? What is wrong with a kind of work that women spend their time at?

All things worth considering, I think. Vive la feminismes!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Birthday Food

Birthday cake that I made for Mike today. It's angel food cake with creme anglais (had to make something so I wouldn't waste all those yolks) whipped cream, rasberries and pineapple. It was quite decadent!

In retrospect, I probably would not have used the Joy of Cooking recipe. I've heard bad things about it which I remembered after I plated the dessert. Angel food cake is very finicky, especially if you have less than fresh eggs. My mom's chickens are getting old, so there is no longer the bounty of fresh eggs in my fridge that there once was. So the cake didn't quite rise to it's full spectacle, though it was still delicious I will count it as a work in process. The creme anglais turned out perfectly though. It started to coagulate as I made it but I whisked out the clumps and continued to thicken it over medium low temperatures, and then stirred in some spiced rum and butter at the very end. It was very good and I think Miked like it. Happy birthday sweetie!

Friday, January 15, 2010


Hooray! The weekend is here, and actually means something again due to my current employ. I'm also (due to an event involving a certain baby with no socks on and a certain sheepish husband) very glad to be in charge of my baby's care again. Apparently he's been moaning "momomomo" for me all day. The feeling is mutual, little guy. I'm optimistic about this weekend. It involves going out to the bar to celebrate Mike's birthday, hopefully successfully making an angel food cake which is Mike's favourite, and going out to the 'Mongolian Grill' with Mike's family to celebrate the day following.

The Mongolian Grill actually has an interesting story. According to the website, the reason they cook their food over this giant wok-type deal is because of the nomadic and warring history of Mongolia, in which soldiers would roast their food in their sheilds which they hoisted over an open fire. Or at least that's what they tell white people. Frankly, I think that cooking food on your shield doesn't make a lot of sense. Like what if you needed it while you were cooking food? And wouldn't the grease build up and make it kind of slippery to hold onto? Picture it: Your group of soldiers is ambushed at dinner. You try and pick up your shield but it's burning hot, and your buddy has his, but shit! It just catapulted out of his hands and now he's toast. No good. But hey, what do I know. Maybe there's a taboo amongst Mongolian soldiers against fighting during dinnertime.

I'm looking into a naturopathic doctor at the moment. No, there's nothing wrong with me. I'm not ill. I'd just like to go. Ever since my pregnancy I've been fascinated by the efficacy of naturopathic medicine. I see it as somewhat of an oversight on my part. I, who constantly expounds the value of listening to undervalued narratives. This is certainly one of them. In our Western society we're so used to turning up our nose at a cure that comes in a tea, rather than a pill. Something cheap must be ineffective. But this isn't true! Big-pharma can't always be right, they can't put a patent on rasberry leaf tea, which has been utilized by women for centuries. Also, they do allergy tests at naturopathic clinics, and I want to see if I am truly allergic to shellfish. I wonder now if the shellfish I ate the times I had a bad reaction was actually bad (shellfish poisoning can sometimes look identical to an allergy) and I'm crossing my fingers. I think it would give me a whole new lease on life if I could eat a lobster. I fantasize about them. I dream about them. I look at recipes and remember the feel of soft yet crunchy lobster flesh against my teeth, drenched in garlic butter, sucking the flesh out of the little legs. Yum yum. Sea bugs.

Well this has been an odd entry, and one that took me all day to write. So now I'm going to look at lobster recipes. Good night!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Picture of Food

Since I keep wagging my tongue abou tthe awesome things I\m cooking, here's sample. Duck pate with braised endives, watercress and a cube of smoked gouda. Yum!

Happy Birthday Mike!

The man in my life turns twenty-seven today. Twenty-seven years of awesome, as I like to say. If you're a regular reader of my blog, it's no secret how much he means to me. He's handsome, caring, and most of the time he's smarter than me. He's also an awesome dad. I wish I could have rung it in with him today better than I did, but we've reserved Saturday for that, where I'm going to spoil him rotten. That's what birthdays are for!

This is going to be a shorter than usual entry--either Ender is getting sick, or getting more teeth!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back to the grind: Version 2.0

I worked today. I have been working/volunteering/whatever you'd like to call it, at the properties company of my mom's boyfriend. Who is really a stepdad, except they're not married and I'm too old to require secondary parenting. Anyway, the prop shop has always been a place I've felt fairly comfortable. When I was little I'd bum around the prop shop (this very one, in fact) and glue pieces of string and shiny mylar to a piece of paper. I would sort buttons and generally make a quiet nuisance of myself. I was kind of dissapointed when my mom became a drama teacher. She loves it, but it's so much less interesting than describing the part of Phantom of the Opera that she created.

So now, I'm working there.

This is part and parcel of my 'take a dose of my own medicine' resolution, which is one of my many this year. More on that later. So aside from getting a mohawk (don't worry, grandma- it's very conservative), which I was always agitating Mike to do, I decided to stop moaning at my mom about how she had the coolest job in the world and go find my own. It was fun. I had fun. I hope I did a good job and I'm quite flattered at the amount of responsibility that has been afforded me. Probably to my bosses they are handing me the most bo-bo work they can think of, but anything is more exciting than sweeping. Or filing. Which I will probably be doing also. But the best part is that it's part time and flexible. I don't have to be away from my baby boy much at all, and when I am, he's spending time with his dad. Beautiful.

In a continuation of my past post, I found out yesterday from my grandmother that the part of Paris that we stayed in was actually only blocks from Julia Child's very house, and the market where we shopped was the very market where Julia shopped herself! It made me tear up a bit. I still haven't quite put my finger on why her story resonates with me so deeply. Perhaps it's the idea that one can turn 40 and still find their calling after that point. That you can be a nobody and then be a somebody way after everyone has written you off.

In that vein, I shall stave off on yet talking about my latest endeavor, dear readers. Let us just say that I have applied to a school and I hope I get in.  That if I do, it will change everything for me and my family in a big way, and that there is nothing wrong with following your bliss.

Also, I've been yearning for some spiritual peace and relaxation lately. I haven't been able to get away from the city -- the snow squalls up my mom's way always scare me. I'd hate to get in an accident with the baby in the car. As soon as it gets warm again I want to go camping, or cabin-ing (preferably) and hike and the show the baby the out of doors properly. I will let him listen to bugs and birds and the rushing flood waters of spring, grabbing at grass and dirt with his chubby little hands, and he'll look up with wonder at the dappled sunshine through the canopy of leaves. And it will be so green that the air will practically vibrate with life, and we will both breathe a sigh of relief that this godforsaken winter is over.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Julia would be proud

How meta is this? Blogging about a movie that is about a blog. But either way, I simply must rant and ramble about 'Julie and Julia' which is one of the best movies that I have seen in quite a while. You see, Julia Child holds special significance for the women in my family. In the fifties and sixties, during Julia's meteoric rise to fame, my grandmother, a young wife to a Unitarian minister lived and breathed gourmet cooking. She made meals that would have made Julia proud. Which is, judging by the movie, a qualifiable thing.

I myself have spent hours poring over her books trying to recreate her masterpieces. What is nice about her books is that yes, the recipes are hard (which is in itself refreshing for the at-home chef who has tried everything) but they are beautiful and delicious. Julia Child never says 'here is an easier version of this beautiful, delicious thing'. She gives you instructions and fully believes that anyone is capable of it. I myself recently made myself and Julia proud by cooking her duck pate. Deboning and defleshing an entire duck, baking the seasoned forcemeat and breast in its own skin. It was divine. I remember trying to make Isles Flotant with my mom out of that very same cookbook when I was ten or so. The islands did not float, but there was something about trying to burn our own sugar for caramel that was strangely affirming. You don't usually need to buy a ton of crazy imported products for these recipes (like some cookbooks of late, which are of the more difficult variety but mostly in the form of frustrating grocery shopping) with a pound of butter and a pound of sugar and some cream in the fridge, you are capable of anything.

As I watched Julie and Julia, I also noticed the beautiful flame red Le Creuset dutch oven and braisers they were using. These things are so cool they make me salivate. My grandmother used to have them, but had to give them up as they are quite heavy and her arthritis wouldn't allow for it. Now I have something to put on my christmas list for next year, or maybe if I get a big fat tax refund I'll splurge.

Next on the list is stuffed cabbage, and Mike has been making sounds like he wants an aspic. Yes an aspic. So if I can steal a jelly mold from my mother, I may just try it. For Julia.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Catch up

Well I'm back, my dear neglected blog. Life has been crazy! I suppose that's no excuse, because life is always crazy, but this kind of insanity has kept me from blogging. The kind that keeps your arms full, and your butt off the couch. A very welcome kind of business.

So let's see what we missed:

Christmas came and went, and we were blessed to be given many gifts from loving relatives. Ender made off like a bandit, and now all his toy storage is full, and I've made peace with a large pile of toys in the middle of my carpet at all times.

Mike and I went out at night for the first time since my birthday in August (which ended with lung/ear shattering screams) to the pleasant surprise that Ender will go to sleep for my dad. Not for me, but yes, for my father. Go figure. The amount of freedom this has afforded me has been bittersweet, because although I can go out to the bar, I don't really want to. I rush Mike home so we can get home to Ender, who sleeps obliviously, sprawled out like a chubby little starfish on the couch. He doesn't mind my absence, but I certainly do. I find myself weighing every moment that I'm out. Is this brief halt in conversation really worth me being away from my child? haha. I know it's necessary though. I am a person, apart from being a mom.

I also wrote and got my LSAT scores back. I am not going to be a lawyer. There is some kind of relief in that. My scores basically say that while I scored better than 72% of the people who took the test, I have no place in law school. After some tears of disappointment, I am okay with that. Really, I agree. Now I have time to pursue more artistic dreams (more information on that to come, dear readers, I'll leave you with that tantalizing piece of half-information).

On christmas, by far Ender's best gift was his two front teeth. No joke. Two bottom teeth simultaneously broke the gums on christmas morning. How perfect! The perfect beginning to a perfect day. Since then he has been the smiliest most laughiest baby ever. Apparently he's been teething for 8 months, and only now his personality has had time to shine through.

Well, time for the morning feeding, but there will be more blogging to come!