Fall is coming and I am dreaming of the beauty of Colorado and the small, quiet cabin I’d have. Just tea and books and throw pillows. Yes.
I was sitting in the car with a friend this weekend talking about food- what we love to eat, love to cook, what authors or bloggers inspire us. It brought forth the feeling I sometimes get in the kitchen. Cooking can be really quiet. There are moments, in between steps, when you are just sitting, waiting, watching bacon bubble or eggs get a little less runny. These moments are so brief, there is little room to go grab the entertainment device or start a conversation, so it builds in a little pause into that day. So much lately has been go, go, go. First my beautiful kids take my full attention, then, my job takes my full attention and finally, if there is a second left, my loving husband takes my full attention. But, even so, there are these moments- small, little moments where I pause and watching the bacon bubble.
Watching my children change is nothing short of breathtaking. We all spend our entire lives inside our own heads, see our milestones and growth through our personal lenses and filters. We interpret and justify our actions and are not aware enough to see how we change moment to moment, year to year in the way an observer might.
But we can and do see our children change. Josephine has just exploded with words and motions. She waves to anyone willing to wave at her, she is trying out so many sounds and mama and dada are uttered hundreds of times a day. Charlotte is maturing, becoming both more soulful and more sullen. She is leaving her 2-year old self behind, learning to engage imaginatively, and she sits with a concentration I never saw in the past. They change, constantly- moment to moment, day to day, month to month. My baby is just over three months away from being A YEAR OLD. All the late nights and all the needs of a tiny baby are shifting. She’s changing. And I get to watch it. I am the loving observer who gets to see what its like to learn how to speak, walk, play, laugh. I get to watch when her sister makes her laugh. I get to watch Charlotte conquer fears and climb mountains, even when the mountain is just a really high playscape. I get to see them become more and more themselves every day. Their personalities emerge in the smallest increments, and it can be easy to miss it, until one day it catches up to us and we see a new person standing, sitting, or crawling right there in front of us.
What’s amazing to realize, is that it’s not just my children changing. We’re changing together. Our family shifts in indiscriminate pieces to adapt to our ever-shifting needs. We eat differently one week to the next, we definitely sleep differently one night to the next. My single adult self once adjusted to my partner, then my working self adjusted to my non-working self. My married self shifted to my single daughter and finally, we have our newest shift to two beautiful people in our lives.
They make me feel alive, watching them change. They bring out the miracle that life is. They haven’t just changed my life, they have changed my entire being, one small moment at a time.
Lovely, hot, hot summer. This part of the country takes summer seriously. The heat usually creeps up to low to mid 90s in May and stays hot through September. There is an acceptance of the heat here. 90 feels cool and breezy, anything under 100 workable. This year we’ve been lucky with a long, chilly winter and a wet spring, but summer is here. It’s creeped its way in. School is almost out, outdoor concerts and movies have started to appear and this year, Charlotte and I are seeing fireflies for the first time in Texas. Something about the long winter makes me excited about the warmth this year. Splashing and swimming with Charlotte, exploring the cities splash pads with my two girls and setting out on early morning adventures when the temperature is still livable sound like a pretty fun way to spend a season.
With summer also comes delectable, sweet and satisfying summer drinks. Today we hacked up a watermelon and blended these little refreshers. So darn good. I think I enjoy this drink more than actually eating watermelon. Also, it’s crazy simple. Watermelon, ice and mint. You will feel cooled down in no time. Here’s to summer.
3 cups watermelon
1 cup ice
1-2 sprigs of mint, leaves removed
Blend and enjoy! Garnish with a sprig if mint and a little slice of watermelon if you are feeling a tad fancy.
Charlotte will always be my big girl. She will for the foreseeable future be bigger and stronger than her sister. Josephine, alternatively, has been the baby, my baby. She emerged into this world so small, so much smaller than Charlotte. It almost felt like she could never change, never get bigger. We spent so much of the past 6 months thinking about what she can’t do and what she will be able to do someday in the far, far future. Someday seemed infinitely far away.
And change has come, quickly as change does. She is an adorably chubby little thing, just like Charlotte at this age and has officially grown out of most of her 9 month clothing and some of her 12 month clothing. I went to buy her jammies and had to shop in the toddler section. Wait, what just happened? She suddenly and almost completely has left baby clothes behind. And now, not only clothing but food has entered to remind me that she is a growing, changing creature. Seeing her grab a strawberry and jut it towards her mouth with moderate success is nothing short of amazing. Her face registers so many emotions with her meals- joy, anticipation, frustration, elation. Her sister loves “assisting” her with apples, and chunks of pear to see what Jojo can actually get into her mouth.
With Charlotte, we followed “traditional weaning” giving completely pureed food, usually from pouches due to my working full time. This time around, I vowed to make my own. I possess a very fine book, “The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet” and was primed and ready to start purees when I was re-introduced to baby-led weaning. This method gives children whole foods they manipulate themselves or a loaded spoon that they direct to their mouths. There are many advantages to Baby-led weaning. It is less time consuming for the care giver, requiring no blending, simply chopping in spears that can be easily grabbed by little fists. There is also research that baby-led weaning helps prevent obesity later in life. And ultimately, it honors and respects the child’s desire to eat or not eat.
Our pediatrician recommends starting with carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and mixed vegetables. After 3 veggies have been established, start fruits one at a time, every five days. Meat is really fine anytime after six months, but most people don’t start until month 7 or 8. There is talk of raw fruits and a baby’s ability to break down the cellulose. It has a seemingly small link to diarrhea. We’ve had plenty of raw fruit and her poops are as babyish as ever. And my pediatrician (and this New Yorker article and many other sources) says avoiding eggs, peanuts or other known allergens until 12 months is a thing of the past. Research shows that waiting will not reduce your child’s chance of having a food allergy. Our pediatrician gave us the go ahead at 6 months. Of course, please contact your own pediatrician to discuss this before introducing any new food regimen.
So you feed your baby real, good clean food, chopped into large pieces. And that’s it. It may feel a little anti-climatic. No special baby food maker or baby BPA-free ice cube trays or food mill. No baby-specific supplies except for a cup, bowl, and spoon for self-feeding. We are working of a chart of new foods so we know she is getting exposed to as many fruits and veggies as possible, but of course, that chart is not necessary in the least.
And boy is she happy to eat. Her highchair is her new favorite place to be and if I place a few pieces of anything in front of her, she concentrates all of her being to grabbing and chewing the food in front of her with her gummy, no-tooth mouth. She does quite well as I’ve heard is typical without teeth. I mean, what good is one or two anyway? The gum line more or less does the same thing.
We do include some blended foods just so she can have the experience but we usually load the spoon and help her hold it and get it toward her mouth. Have I mentioned it’s a joy to watch? So my baby grows and changes every day. Some days she still seems so very small, as she should. And some days she already seems all grown up.
Want to read more on the topic? Here are some great baby-led weaning resources:
Charlotte and I have been enjoying the warm weather out on our porch blowing bubbles together. Simple pleasures right? We made our own bubble mix and were somewhat happy with the mix until my good friend Jackie passed along an even better recipe that saved the day and makes enough bubbles for months for about $1. We use them in a a no-spill “fubbles” bubbles bucket that allows three people to blow bubbles at the same time.
1 cup water
1/2 cup dish soap
1/4 cup tbsp glycerine or maple syrup
Pour all ingredients into a bowl or large jar. Mix well and refrigerate for a few hours. (For whatever reason, the mixture works better once it’s settled a bit!)
Turbinado and Demerara sugar are delicious alternatives to white table sugar. Both have larger crystals and naturally have a hint of carmel flavor. I started using Demerara in my coffee and mmmmmmmm. They also has more trace minerals than the regular variety so if I am going to use sugar, I try to use turbinado or Demerara. Many of my recipes call for brown sugar, and as far as I know, my local health food stores don’t carry brown turbinado sugar. So I make my own and the molasses smells fresher and the taste is more complex and just delectable. It’s also absolutely wonderful not to have to go to the store for brown sugar ever again.
3 cups turbinado sugar
3 tbsp molasses
Blend with a wooden spoon or food processor if you desire a finer grain.