Friday, March 30, 2012

Free-For-All Fridays

This is the second time I am taking the liberty to tell you whatever I want, and I'd like to use it to tell you about the awesome dinner I made last night. I'm very proud of myself for this meal. Until recently, I'd gone through a bit of a slump (that's putting it nicely!) with my cooking. Awful, really inedible, meals. But lately, I seem to have gotten my groove back!
I was inspired by this post over at She Breathes Deeply to re-visit some of my old favorite vegetarian/vegan dishes and I remembered this comforting and delicious dish I had run across a few years back: beans and greens over polenta. It was nice to have an idea for dinner!
I ignored the recipe I had followed previously (though it had come out splendidly) and simply started reaching for things - the bag of corn grits, a can of tomatoes, the bunch of kale in the crisper. Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps) I was out of beans of any kind so I start surveying the fridge for alternatives. Artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese. Sounds like a Mediterranean party to me. So I struck forward boldly, with chef's knife in hand, and my courage was rewarded.

First, I started the polenta (according to package instructions - essentially one cup of corn grits to three cups of water). Then I sauteed some chopped onion, kale and garlic in olive oil.

I added some Italian seasoning to my polenta and turned the heat down to low. You have to let it cook and thicken for about 30 minutes but be careful! It bubbles and pops like crazy. Stirring more frequently is better than less to help release the trapped air. Once it thickened, I spooned it into an oiled bowl and let it set up for about ten minutes. Flip it onto a plate and - voila! - you could have bought it at a store. I cut mine into pie shaped wedges to serve.

While the polenta was thickening, I chopped up my goodies of choice: the artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, and sun dried tomatoes. When the onions were translucent and the kale softened, I added them in with a can of diced tomatoes and let it all get friendly for about ten minute (these were the same ten minutes the polenta needed to set up).

A little chiffonade of basil: stack, roll, chop.

To serve it, I placed two wedges of polenta - points to the center - on a plate, laid my Mediterranean filling across, and topped it all with my pretty basil ribbons and some fresh feta cheese. Mmmm. It was so good. And pretty, too! It seriously made my night.


The only other thing I wanted to tell you today was that my cactus finally bloomed. This is actually a very big deal. I've had it for three years and... nothing. A couple months ago it grew a big bud but it withered and fell off without ever opening. Finally - finally! - it opened this past Saturday - for my birthday, no less! - and it is so pretty.

He's sleeping in his own room!

This is a big day. Drake took his first nap in his room, in his pack and play, without the comfort of the swing, and with the quilt I made him! We closed the door and used the monitor. I think this means that the transition has begun. The move from sleeping in Mom and Dad's bed to sleeping in his own. We're closer and closer all the time to sleeping through the night, too. Stars are aligning...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

He wears flannel like a real man

{Small Style #5}

That's what I love about this outfit. He looks like such a man in the fleece lined flannel he got from his Uncle Mike. It's funny  how I simultaneously detest the idea of him losing his wonderful baby-ness and adore things that make him look like such a big boy. Motherhood makes you crazy.

{Linking up with Mama Loves Papa}

Noticing things

Drake is quickly taking on a lot of "big" boy qualities. (I recognize that it's all relative, and he only seems like a big boy as compared to his newborn-ness - and then, even, only to me. What a novice mother am I. Nevertheless.) He's beginning to notice the things around him. He sees the toys that hang from his bouncy chair and slaps at them wildly. Every once in a while he gets a hold of one - and seems completely confounded as to what is preventing him from pulling his arm back down close to his body. It's pretty cool to watch him slowly begin to discover the world around him. It's still a small world, but it's all new to him. It wakes up the up the sense of awe and wonder in me, too, as I see things the way I imagine he must see them. Pretty lights! Bright colors! So soft!
I've tried to facilitate these little exploratory experiences by placing things of various textures in his hands, setting brightly colored toys in his line of sight, and singing or playing music. The other day I was blessed enough to capture this "first" on video:

That duck had literally been hanging on his car seat since the day  he was born. Suddenly, it was hilarious.
By the way, I'm truly sorry you had to put up with my laughing like a hyena in the background. Hopefully Drake's sweet laugh made up for it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Infamous Eyebrow Shot

I've already told you that his eyebrows are prize-worthy, but now I'm offering proof:

Small Style #4
(linking up with Mama Loves Papa)

The outfit is one of those all-in-one deals from Target so I can take no credit for cute styling, but I just love it on him.

 My apologies to my Facebook friends for the repeat of the picture, but I couldn't resist using it for a Small Style post. I seriously can't get enough of it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Birthday Day

{Alternately titled: Marriage Update: My Husband is Amazing}

My birthday isn't actually  until this Saturday - I'll be 26 - but we celebrated yesterday because the Hubs works weekends. Justin made an all day event out of it. He brought me some pre-breakfast yogurt in bed (cuz I was starving) and then brought me my first present: a gorgeous pair of brown leather boots. (The hunt for the right pair of boots has been a long-standing one - my poor Hubby has tried several times to get me the right ones, only to be foiled by my wide feet or my big calves or my distaste for synthetic materials. Sadly, yesterday's gift was another strike - big calves - but they really were gorgeous. He did a great job picking them out.)  For a full breakfast, he took me to the No Sweat. Mmmmm, the No Sweat. If you live in Helena (or within a reasonable drive, even) and you haven't had breakfast at the No Sweat, I'm slightly concerned about your mental health. Because you're crazy. It's delicious. It was the perfect start to my birthday celebration. We sat in one of the worn, wooden booths next to the glorious heater, ate big piles of freshly shredded hash browns and thick cut ham and melty, gooey cheese and sipped coffee and talked and laughed and sang along with the Motown tracks that were playing in the background.Yes.

From there, we loaded Drake into the backpack carrier and walked down the street to Sole Sisters to return my gorgeous boots. I tried on another size, but nothing worked. They were either too tight in the calves or too big in the feet. Poor Justin: he was seriously bummed. But it wasn't all bad! I strolled around the store, stroking and admiring the gorgeous selections of girly dresses and flowy tops and shoes that could be on display in an art museum more readily than worn on your feet. I found a soft blush dress with tiny grey polka dots that made me feel pretty.

From there, we took Justin to the chiropractor, then on to lunch at The Red Atlas, complete with an It's-My-Birthday-Beer.

And then! The highlight of my month: a 75 minute massage from Amy at Lazy Owl Massage. Glory. Completely relaxed on a massage table with a heating pad, sublime smells of massage oils and lotions, the [recorded] sounds of the ocean. In a word: heaven.

After that luxurious experience, Justin took me home for a lazy afternoon of lounging in bed with my two favorite men in the world, watching Midnight in Paris, and flipping through pictures of beautiful homes online - day dreaming about the kind of house we'll have one day.

My beautiful mother picked up Drake around 6 p.m. and I was free to get ready without distraction or time constraint. A hot shower (shaved legs!), blow dried and styled hair, full makeup - all in preparation for the culmination of my wonderful day: date night with my handsome husband.

He took me to the Mediterranean Grill and we stuffed ourselves with fresh and yummy food like lamb brochettes, caprese salad, swordfish with basmati rice and seasoned veggies, kunefe for dessert - all accompanied by a fabulous bottle of Earthquake Zin from my old hometown (Lodi, CA). We enjoyed the hell out of the food and the wine and each other's company. We talked about all the adventures we still want to have someday. We got sentimental and made toasts to each other. We promised to never let it get old.

Towards the end of the evening, we saw our good friends Jesse and Porter walk by and invited them in to finish our bottle of wine with us, then joined them a few doors down for a proper cocktail at Miller's Crossing. I blew $15 in the slot machines hoping I could get lucky on my birthday, we laughed at me and how easily I get tipsy these days, and then I started missing little mister. We picked him up and were home in bed before midnight.

The day was better than perfect. I am so grateful to be married to a man who will go to such lengths to make me feel so incredibly special. As much as life may change, as many children as we may have, as busy as it all may get, I hope we never stop doing this -taking a day to celebrate each other - because that's where it all began.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Baby Coma

Little Man passed out at the dance studio with Paige, about three weeks ago.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it before, but it’s a real thing. It’s that state that babies live in for the first couple months of their lives - completely unaware of what happens around them.  They sleep when they are tired, which is always. The wake only to eat, which inevitably makes them so tired again that their eyes roll back into their heads and they pass out, at the breast, with milk running down their chins – it’s a corresponding phenomena often referred to as Milk Drunk (a very technical term).  They could sleep through a rock concert. My son slept through the trains that pass only a couple blocks from our house – several times a night - and lay on their horns like they’re leading a holiday parade.
But then, I’m finding, something changes. Apparently somewhere around three months of age they start to become aware: aware of people who come to visit; aware of the hustle and bustle of their parents; aware of the dogs in their faces; aware of the jostling of the in and out of the car on errand days; painfully aware of trains. And so my poor baby boy has become overly tired several times in the past week because his Momma can’t figure out how to adjust with him. My errand running plans nearly always interfere with his plans for a good snooze.
My inexperienced, first time Mommy brain thinks that the answer to this problem is a good schedule -regular naps that are easily planned around. The thing is, I have no idea how to establish one. I sat down two nights ago and wrote one out. It looked beautiful on my yellow legal pad: hour for hour descriptions of a perfectly harmonized Drake and Mommy day. I went to bed determined that the next day was going to hum along according to my new plan. I’m sure the veteran mommies out there are laughing at me right about now. Because that is just not how it works. If there is one thing babies are good for, it’s reminding their parents that life does not always (read “ever”) work out the way you had planned.
So for the past two days I’ve just been paying attention to the clock as Drake did his own thing, and I’m amazed/concerned. Little Man spends the first half of his day in almost perfect one hour increments: one hour awake, one hour asleep. Later in the day, he stretches the “awake” portions to something more like two hours. That’s just not gonna work. There is no way to run an errand – and be back at the house in time to put him down! – in one hour. Not gonna happen. Not to mention the crazy amounts of gas I would waste if I only ever ran one errand at a time.
What do I do? Is there a way to help encourage him to stay awake longer? He is so sad when he’s tired, it sort of breaks my heart to think of doing it. I would love any advice or feedback.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

One year

Approximately one year ago, something happened silently inside me that would change my world forever. I didn't know it when it happened. I didn't plan it. But I am so, so grateful for it.

One year ago, I was immersed in my second semester as an English Major at Carroll College. I stressed and obsessed and fussed over writing assignments. I typed furiously on my laptop - late into the night - in my favorite corner of campus or some all-night diner. I was trying to figure out Who I Was; What I Sounded Like. I was worried about finals. I was dreaming of becoming a successful, well-paid writer.

These days, my writing assignments are self-assigned. I try to challenge myself here on this blog. I try desperately to remember, and to practice, the knowledge I soaked up in that one year. I’m still trying to find My Voice. I struggle to remember the “What?” and the “So-What?” of each post I write. Why am I writing it? Who am I writing it for? Myself? Drake? My readers? These days, I tend to write my blog posts from my couch, often with just one hand, with a sleeping baby in my lap.

 One year ago, I wasn't getting enough sleep. I sat up nights with a stack of papers and a highlighter. I went cross-eyed staring at my computer screen. I hardly ate. I was completely stressed.

These days, I still don’t get enough sleep, but my late night company is a baby boy who needs me. My eyes are tired and heavy, but they are greeted with gummy smiles and chunky thighs. These days, I eat whenever and whatever I want. I am completely content.

One year ago, I felt as though I was navigating heavy decisions, important tasks, and weighty subjects – the stuff that would affect my future, my well-being, my success, my happiness. I had to work my tail off to make sure I set myself up on the path I wanted (yes: I, I , I).

These days, the biggest decision has been made. My future is my child. My tasks are smaller, but the ripples reach so much further into the future. They go beyond my life time. My days consist of regular feedings and diaper changes, but each is performed with the heart-stretching knowledge that (God willing) this well fed, clean little boy will out-live me. Out-learn me. Out-do me in ways I can’t even imagine yet.

One year ago, I was stressing about the few pounds I put on in my freshman year.

These days, I’d pay good money to see that number on the scale again.

One year ago, my husband and I had a great sex life.

These days, well… there’s a baby in our bed. (Hey, it’s one of the major ways my life has changed. It seemed wrong to let it go unmentioned.)

One year ago, I had never changed a little boy’s diaper. I had never shopped for a breast pump. I had never worn a nursing bra. I had never made a baby blanket for my baby. I had never packed up the clothes he outgrew. I had never “worn” a baby during a workout. I had never spent a date with my husband wondering how my baby was doing. I had never met my son.

One year ago, I had no idea what a difference the next year was about to make.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Well, hello there!

I interrupt this internet silence to, once again, fawn over how cute my kid is. Please join me:

Small Style #3
(When I'm on top of it, I link up with Mama Loves Papa on Thursdays for her Small Style feature.)

The shirt is a hand-me-down, and one of my favorites. The pants are from Target.

The pea coat is the icing on the cake. It comes from Macy's, but was a shower gift from the fabulous Cynthia.

My happy, handsome man.

I posted this picture 100% for the yawn. Because I think he has the cutest yawns ever. Is that weird...?
He definitely has his Daddy's eyes/eyebrows! :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Small Style #2

I love this little outfit. It reminds me a bit of one of those old classic French outfits with the blue stripes and the orange collar that hints a bit of the red scarf they wore around their necks. I think it's kind of precious. Both pieces are Circo from Target.