cuddles, stretches, cries
yogurt, honey, peaches. repeat.
quail eggs to mix up Lux’s favorite snack of hardboiled eggs.
a pretty bookplate and my favorite line from A Baby Sister for Frances:
“Oh yes, said Mother, ‘you may be sure that there will always be plenty of chocolate cake around here.'”
This weekend was a nesting weekend. I had written up a list of all the things I wanted to get done, some of them enormous–ORGANIZE CLOSET, FINAL LIST OF NAMES, LABEL FOR DOORBELL– and some of them rather arbitrary–CANCEL CREDIT CARD, WASH CARSEAT COVER–though every last thing seemed equally important as its kin in my mind. Joe had a mental list of things he’d been hoping to get done in the next six months that he decided to accomplish immediately as well. We went to the South Bay shopping center, one of those awful Sim City big box outposts with a shared parking lot that you believe never should have been developed, but then when you frequent it once a year they feel like the answer to everything. Wood for pantry shelves, a little metal hook for the bathroom door, hangers for Lux’s closest, storage bins for baby clothing, a new electric toothbrush, nursing bras, a pair of shorts for Lux, lanolin…. One of those shocking lists that bridges three stores and you know you need everything on the list, nothing is whimsical, and yet somehow is there so much of it?
Halfway through our Saturday epic I shared a hot dog and a box of Pizza Hut breadsticks at the Target Cafe with Lux. Lux asked for a second hot dog and then decided she wanted to be carried to the counter while I bought it for her. I refused, and we had that moment, the one you’ve all seen: a crazily pregnant woman watching her toddler dramatically throw herself to the ground in front of a clear cabinet of fake-dough pretzels and weep as if she’s never had a good day in her young life. SOS, I texted to Joe. But we got through it and the breadsticks tasted exactly as I remembered them from childhood (did they trademark that spice mix in 1990?) and now I don’t have to eat at Pizza Hut, or (pray to God) Target, for another four years.
An involuntarily primal love was tapped as Joe bustled alongside me on Saturday. It was the mess before the organization, each of us creating small piles of chaos only systemized to our eyes, dragging things from one end of the apartment to the other. He sorted through an entire shelf of excess cleaning supplies inherited from the previous tenants (there is nothing I like less than dealing with cleaning supplies as it is my personal opinion that none of them should exist, they are all toxic and harmful to our environment), built a hanging rod for Lux’s closet, outfitted and built a pantry into a closet, reorgnized our kitchen in some magical way that made it appear 10x bigger, and carted two loads of laundry down and back from the laundry mat. Nesting is the hormone you don’t ask for, and when it arrives, it’s a thirst that feels so relieving when quenched. Seriously, it was like a 7UP ad over here.
The Lux Clothes Archive is now housed in eight plastic bins, each labeled with a small index card. I think of these bins as I think my Gmail Inbox: it gradually grows with no foreseeable end and no cause for examination. Have you ever seen an ad for Gmail? Very clever—it shows how much gigabyte storage you get for free, and as you stare at the screen contemplating a new email account, the number keeps growing before your eyes. In my mind I can see 10 neatly stacked plastic bins, then 16 bins, all somehow lining the upper shelves in her room. This baby will use everything Lux did (though unfairly marked from the beginning with the avocado stains of her ancestors–the clearest visual of the phrase generational sin as I’ve ever gotten), and then–will there be another baby after that, using them again? And as that happens, Lux will grow and there will be more sizes, as yet unlabeled and unbought. I am more befuddled by this steadily accruing clothing collection than I am at our actual family size.
This weekend I briefly thought strawberry picking sounded fun. Then I remembered that would mean me crouching in a field with the sun overhead.
Instead we walked over to the greenway fountains near the North End. I am a big fan of these fountains, except when it is really sunny because there is no shade for the weary over there. I picked out three pastries for us at the new bread + butter, including a “nutella danish” that was like a flattened cinnamon roll with nutella in the middle….um hello. After promising Lux blueberries from Haymarket to lure her into the stroller, we stopped for cappuccinos at Caffe Paradiso. It was noon and a man ordered a campari with lemon on the rocks–that’s when you know it’s authentic Italian spot.
I went to the library by myself and paged through the new Martha Stewart magazine. There was a feature on the Leelanau Peninsula where my family vacations every year. Of course the year that we can’t go and I’m sad about it, Martha Stewart does a feature on it. Whatever. Anyway, they didn’t mention Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor. Big oversight, ladies.
I made this one-pan-pasta that’s very viral right now. It’s viral because is the quintessential Pinterest recipe–it results in one great photo and involves one great tagline–“all in one pan!” I didn’t really like how it turned out. Because I am devoted to my cookbooks I’ve mostly avoided Pinterest oddities, but the number of times I’ve heard someone say something has totally flopped from there is amazing. I’m sure there’s a Pinterest fail tumbler out there, but I don’t even want to look.
If you don’t mind using two pans, I think this summer pasta recipe from Bridget is 5x more delicious and just as easy.
I have always been one to strive forward, ready for the next thing and the next level, breezily leaving the past behind the bend and looking to the future. The woman we’ve hired as my doula suggested I try to cherish these last weeks with only Lux by my side; to focus on the ending of something instead of the impending beginning. The three of us were sitting next to each other with our feet in the murky duck pond of the Public Garden. It was 90 degrees, and Lux was periodically jumping up to gather sticks and then tossing them into the water, joyfully shouting “stick!” with each throw. She was almost completely soaked with pond water and she was loving it. Lorenza said words like “cherish” “dwell” and “relish.” I was sweaty and thinking about how many diseases Lux might be contracting from the water which contained at least three different kinds of bird poop.
But later, when the heatwave finally broke and as the rainy days have come, I have engaged this intention. We stroll through June’s afternoons, rainy or not. We stop to sit on stoops along our street. We pet whatever dogs have the time (according to their owners) to stop and talk to us. We wander on for ‘treats’ (one of Lux’s first firm words), trying chocolate croissants across the city, lemonade from a street vendor, a new box of cereal at the grocery. We climb into bed with a pile of books and share the pillows. (Somehow our hand sign for share turned out like most people’s ‘hang loose’ so I find myself reminding Lux to both share and just relax, dude). We sit in the garden behind our building and meow, hoping the nameless neighbor cat will hear us and climb over the wall, as he does every now and then. “I wait,” she says when I ask if we should give up and head inside. “I play,” she says when I suggest it’s time for lunch instead. We buy strawberries and melons and eat the whole thing in one sitting. We finish our dinner so we can have popsicles. We discuss when Dad will be home, and how he took the train to work, and how he’s probably going to be all wet because it’s raining.
It’s a season of receiving advice, most of it terrible, some of it is gold. My midwife Connie finally told me to quit it with trying to talk to Lux about the baby.”You’re just stressing her out.”
What a relief. I thought back over the times I’d attempted the conversation, all of them met with confusion, anxiety, or denial. The future is a frustrating concept to someone Lux’s age. It better be five minutes away, or don’t bring it up.
And it’s a little hilarious to imagine what I thought all that prep work might ideally add up to: was a screaming infant going to arrive in our apartment and Lux was going to walk up and say “soo good to see you! at last! just what I’ve been waiting for, someone to completely screw with my life and schedule!”
Connie also suggested I encourage Lux’s interest in talking about the baby growing in her belly. A parallel imagination game that, I’m really sorry to say, I’ve so far been correcting. “No, I have a baby, you don’t have a baby,” I’ve actually said. In hindsight, I feel like a real jerk. Now, we’ve started talking about the baby in bunny‘s belly. It was Lux’s idea, but to me this feels like a very wise and safe proposal: a tiny fluffy baby from bunny could hardly do us any harm, right?
So here we are, we’re not waiting. We’re relishing. One of us might be a little tired, a little sore in the back, and little overstretched, but we’re relishing all the same.
A little post of what I got for my birthday this year. Perhaps because of pinterest, I’ve gotten gifts for both Christmas and my birthday that I really wanted. What a treat! This year, sweet family sent me money before we left for Rome so I was able to pick out a few things there. That was really fun. The candles and tea kettle have been on my list to splurge on for a long time.
I’ve become a bit of a beeswax candle fanatic. It’s unfortunate because they are so much more expensive than the plastic-y ones, but I really do buy the hype that they emit negative ions, clean up your air, etc. A room just feels better after a beeswax candle has been lit. These were from Terrain on sale, but more affordable ones can be found here.
Leather sandals from Rome. I hate telling people I got these in Italy when they ask where they are from–so typical! Why isn’t there a shop selling great simple stuff like this here? (mention in the comments if you have found a good US source!)
Something I pinned that Joe bought for me. A bright hardy enamel teapot for the stove. From Poketo, the most fun web store.
Two gifts pictured here.
1/ a brass signet ring I bought in Rome. I talked with the artist in Italian for a long time, and I have almost no idea what he was telling me. He was very Eat, Pray, Love; by which I mean he had longish curly dark hair and seemed to only work two days a week. I bought it in the Monti neighborhood, where I also had delicious coffee and gelato and admired great hanging walls of ivy. Yes, brass does leave traces of green on my skin sometimes, but I really love the color.
2/ a letterpress drawer repurposed as a drawer for my jewelry. For now it is out of Lux’s reach! This is the first letterpress drawer we’ve bought that has those letters sketched inside, I guess it really was used to store type, ha. Joe and I are always trying to come up with more uses for these drawers, but in reality there aren’t too many useful ones.
Little slippers bought in Rome from a lady in her tiny shop near where we stayed. I thought she told me they were 60 euro and I was sad. But then I realized she said twenty-five. My Italian has really taken a turn. : ) They are the type of thing I would love to learn to make for myself, but until then…
It’s fascinating how different the things you aspire after from year to year are. I hope I can keep up this type of post and track my changing acquisitional interests. What did you ask for this year?
For Mother’s Day I asked for breakfast in bed and a New York Times. By the way, who is killing the monk seals? I didn’t find out because the Travel issue was hiding right behind it. I enjoyed this urbane man’s review of the Airbnb experience, Joe liked this essay on traveling alone.
Deborah Needleman is now editing the T Magazine for the New York Times. She was Domino Magazine’s editor and had a brief glorious reign at the Wall Street Journal’s magazine. I predict great things for the T issues of the future (which has in the past been very snobby and not all that stylish).
Buy a man a $2.50 frother at Ikea and it turns out he makes a damn fine cappuccino. I had no idea where this cappuccino came from when he flourished it in front of me, all I knew was it was much better than Starbucks (maybe because it was made with heavy cream! my favvvvorite). We’ve been using whole milk too. Takes about four minutes, done in a pan warming on the stove while your espresso pot wells up.
One question I’m often asked: “if you did work, what would be the ideal situation?”
To this, I’ve always blithely answered something like, Twelve hours a week consulting for small businesses on how to be a little more creative or unique in their field. “Just fire up the ol’ mind a little,” I would say, temporarily turning into a Texan rancher. A small part of me might have imagined a lovely Italian speaking nanny that would show up for those hours and whisk Lux out to adventures and then come back and bake some cookies to go with our afternoon espresso. But realistically I knew I would fit those hours into nap time, settle down at the desk just as Lux settled down into her crib. This sounded perfect, it sounded quite have-it-all, to use the phrase society is obsessed with stamping on things.
(And it’s a testament to how far from an infant a toddler is, how predictable our days, that I even had those thoughts at all.)
Well for the past couple of weeks I’ve had that gig, and I’ve been rather shocked by tiring it is. Maybe I’m just out of practice with how people turn on for work, and then turn off again. I see the emails come in and I want to jump on them right away. I hate to click away the phone calls that I have to send to voicemail until later that afternoon. And then nap time arrives and I just want to take a nap. Or sit by the window and smooth nutella onto small crackers for an hour. Or pull out the ipad, open flipboard and read all the blogs. Instead I set to work, make calls, pin things, click links, email people back, write lots of barely legible lists in my notebook. People call me back when Lux has already woken up and we’re at the park. Unbelievable, I sigh in exasperation when I see their calls, nap time is obviously over now.
If I do complain to Joe about the difference between his life and mine (and this happens every eight weeks or so, on some night when I’m exhausted and should be sleeping instead of talking) I complain that he gets to speak with adults who value his opinions and perspective on a daily basis. There’s something rather satisfying about that, rather than someone who shouts “no no no no” to your suggestion of a banana snack, don’t you think?
And that’s definitely my favorite thing. There’s never going to be anything like working for someone and hearing, “awesome idea. I love it. do it.” (And I know most of you would love to hear this just a little bit more at your day job.)
I think I can get better with practice and a few good habits. Set up a work email and only check it when I can respond. Tell people realistic deadlines and remain calm around the “this is a triple-panic-priority!” mindset. Bill the hell out of the hours I spend brainstorming and dish washing. But–what is the point of this post, anyway?–the old truism that the grass is greener in that yard way over there? I think so. You get what you want, and it turns out to be rather a lot of work.
Five things about me. Typically I’d cheerfully decline this type of forwarded link-up, but Bridget is like my blogging godmother or something, and I just can’t do it. So here goes, a few things made more interesting by the fact that hopefully you didn’t guess them immediately:
1 I’m on Pinterest, but not really. Does it feel like
somea lot of people are incredibly good at Pinterest? Did they already have binders of carefully labeled “For the Home” sheets, and just moved everything over to the internet once the chance came along? Though digital, my folders still manage to be motley collection of half scribbled notes with no reasonable themes.
2 I was raised vegetarian but my mom never really told us or made a big deal about it. Thus, I thought (vegetarian) hot dogs were really bad tasting, even though everyone else seemed to love them. I remember when my friend told me what we were having for dinner at a sleepover and I asked her what hamburgers were.
3 I broke up with Joe one month after we first starting dating because I thought he wasn’t the guy for me. I just stopped emailing/calling him back with almost no explanation. Then we didn’t date for two years. I stilllll regret hurting his feelings and being a jerk. Break-up nice, people. You never know when they might turn out to be your husband.
4 I’m really petite and when I was young it drove me crazy how everyone commented on it. Every. last. person. I soo wanted to be normal. I get it now, and I’m grateful for a fast metabolism, but I still kind of hate it when people talk about my height/weight/size. I think I’m good at meeting new people because I accustomed to quickly coming up with conversation topics that don’t involve my physical appearance.
5 I’m left handed and not-so-secretly think left handed people are superior to right handed ones. They just seem more interesting in an unpredictable way, across the board. So I’m a tiny, unreasonably bit disappointed that it looks like Lux is going to be right handed.
these photos were taken at blogshop. Gotta use ’em up before my hair changes again, or my taste in clothes.
Planning for Rome has almost been usurped by a new topic: planning for a new apartment. Though we would swear up and down that living in under 500 sq ft is good for us, the prospect of just a little more space has our minds reeling. I have a list of furniture and things we’ll need that’s titled “new apartment new life.”
Now’s a good time to do a post on sharing a room with Lux this past year-n-a half. Occasionally people ask me how that’s going and I often don’t know what to say because I’m so accustomed to it.
She sleeps in the top corner of the crib, closest to me. We put her water bottle there and she often wakes for a drink during the night. In the morning when she wakes she noisily reads aloud her books that were left in the crib from the night before. After that she dangles each of her stuffed animals over the edge of the crib and documents their fall to the ground with loud pronouncements. Eventually we lift her out and try to convince her to come cuddle in our bed with us, but typically she marches out of the room and then marches back in, until I ask her if she wants some oatmeal. Then she nods with glee as if I’ve announced we’re adopting a puppy.
The fact that I know all of this is one of the things I like about room sharing. I also like that she doesn’t wake up to noise in the room, both because we have a small apartment and because we just don’t bother with being very quiet when we’re getting ready for bed. Travel too, is eased because sharing a hotel room is the usual. When she’s sick, it’s just a quick hop from the bed to check on her, or soothe her back to sleep. The times we’ve gone through brief sleep “regressions” (when babies decide to wake up earlier than the typical schedule, like say, 4am) I’ve been able to both say “we’re still sleeping right now” but not abandon her to be by herself while she falls back asleep.
Around 12 months there was a point where she woke up early, and it felt like she was waking up because she wanted to see us. But right around that time a friend moved into a two-bedroom and confirmed that her daughter woke up early even in her own room. Roughly one month later it became old news to Lux that we were there and she woke up later, clearly with no concern about whether we were there or not.
A mom once asked me how I would feel putting Lux in her own room now, and I shied away from the question. It sounded lonely. And she nodded her head, as if in confirmation to herself that this showed a negative side effect of our plan–being afraid of the eventual separation.
But soon she will have her own room. I look forward to turning on a bright bedside lamp and reading myself to sleep (I do this now, but by the dim light of the closet). I don’t look forward to having another room to check for distributed toys. I’ll miss saying “good morning!” from my pillow when she wakes up. I think she’ll notice that the new space is her room and will enjoy hiding away in there. And of course, she’ll sleep better than all of us once baby #2 comes along.
Does the idea of a one-bedroom house appeal to the minimalist in you? Or sound stifling?
Marion Cunningham’s favorite simple pancakes (cute illustration of the recipe). I think the secret is there is a lot of baking soda in there.
When we come indoors, Lux picks at our shoes for bits of snow to eat. So we’ve started offering to get her a fresh bowl of snow. This makes her happy beyond expression.
The one thing Governor Patrick asked on Friday was that people take the storm seriously. Good point Deval because I think most of us were waiting with raised eyebrows and crossed arms. But wow, it is a lot snow! Part of me is wondering when we’ll see our car again, and part of me just shrugs that we won’t use it till April if need be.
I really wanted to be winter adventurers and hike around town, but it was blustery! Every time the wind blew we cowered into our jackets. And most of the businesses were closed. It sounds silly to say but I was sort of imagining a cozy hot chocolate at Starbucks capping off the trip. I was sad they were closed. (Marliave, one of my favorite Boston spots, was open both blizzard nights. Well done!)
Roasting canned tomatoes to make them taste like summer ones. These will turn into bruschetta. They’ve been cooking at low heat for hours and the smell is probably what Pizza Hut pipes in to make you keep ordering food.