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.
I looked at Chris a few weeks ago and said. “I want to own as little as possible.” He agreed. I think I finally put words to a nagging feeling that had been building over the weeks and months. I grew up in a house of wants. My family always wanted more. As Americans, it is woven into our very being to “strive.” Strive for more money, more prestige, more house, more cars. The problem with this striving is that it never ever ends. In my house growing up, we finally made it to upper middle class, but I don’t remember us feeling okay, safe or comfortable with our financial standing. We actually were regularly overdraft in the bank account throughout those years. My family looked at fashion magazines of clothing worth a month’s salary and even to extended family’s wealth as dreamy and lucky.
I don’t want that life anymore. And even more, I don’t want my daughters to grow up feeling that way. I want us to love the home we create simply because we all love each other so darn much. I want to enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company and find the beauty in the little things. The books “Simplicity Parenting” and “You are Your Child’s First Teacher,” both Waldorf leaning helped me see a huge benefit in creating simplicity in a child’s life- very few toys, no screens, simple routine, healthy meals. Both books celebrate home life and the everyday. I am so happy I have my children every day all day. Our rhythm is so much better and deeper now than when Charlotte was in school. Her temperament has gotten both more confident and calmer.
This quest for simplicity has made me look around at my personal environment much more critically. Do I need all these pajama bottoms that I never wear? 15 tank tops? Do I need 35 coffee mugs? I love the idea of a few beautiful cherished items filling our home. Ah, and clean counters. They are so much prettier than 10,000 one use appliances.
The other life-altering benefit of simple living is the money it frees up. Instead of money going towards tons of stuff, it can be saved, security had and maybe even a vacation could be taken. I hope one day we can fully own a house, my husband can do whatever his job may be because he adores it, not because we are in so much debt.
Good goals if you ask me, but large goals. Too large to encompass my day to day life. For today, I’ll be getting rid of some coffee mugs.
As the weather heats up here in central Texas, I find myself extremely parched more often that I would like. Although I down water, my body often needs some real hydration. If you have kids, you are familiar with the suggestion of pedialyte to rehydrate after or during illness or whenever fluids are needed. Unfortunately pedialyte is filled with food dye and corn syrup and other additives (as is gatorade.) Instead make this affordable, really simple version for yourself or your little ones. The orange juice gives your body needed carbohydrates and slows down the digestion to help your body absorb more water and the salt helps your body retain the water to further hydrate your cells.
3 1/2 c filtered water
1/2 c orange juice or other juice
Pinch of salt
Combine all in a large jar and shake with the lid on securely or stir. Add ice if so desired.
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: