Monday, December 31, 2007
Fellow parents: Read this really good piece about lead in your child's toys (hint, it's not just in painted toys!). Scary stuff. And, to look up info on the toys you have in your home, visit HealthyToys.org. Yep, that block in the picture above was loaded with lead, recalled a few months ago and happened to be in my baby's nursery. Fortunately, he never played with it. Sigh.
Posted by Sarah at 5:37 PM
Friday, December 28, 2007
I recently snapped this photo of him sitting in a sea of books that he single-handedly pulled out of the book basket. He picks the ones he likes best whines a little (his way of saying, "pleeeeeeeease mama, read to me") then chucks the others. Now I realize I shouldn't really be complaining about this, but if you're a parent, you know that reading books to your baby over and over again can be kind of time consuming and, well, a bit monotonous -- especially when he wants to read the same book, I don't know, 50 times in a row.
Jason and I have actually taken to hiding the books. We've covered the basket with a blanket and a chair. When he goes down for a nap, I pick up all the books and tuck them away so that when he wakes up, the book-reading madness can be delayed for a bit. We distract him. We show him other toys and games. Yet somehow, Carson sniffs them out, and we end up reading again -- for hours sometimes.
Currently, these are his favorites: Babycakes; Goodnight Moon; Brown Bear, Brown Bear; Truck Book (it probably has a real name, but this is what we call it); Jamberry; I Love You Good Night; Mommy Loves; and God Loves You Just the Way You Are.
Uh oh, gotta run. You-know-who is standing at the baby gate whining with Babycakes in his hand. Here we go again!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I spent Christmas in San Diego this year. And as much as I love the wintry weather of the Northwest, it was a nice change of pace to celebrate the season with warm breezes, palm trees, and flip flops.
Now that we're home, I'm reflecting on the trip -- traveling with a baby, the importance of family, my disdain for airports and flying in general, and other important things like Christmas cookies and how I can get my hands on more of them.
And I'm sitting here laughing, as I remember a story my sister told me about a recent dinner disaster. She's an amazing cook, and an even more amazing baker, yet, like me, is not immune to the occasional kitchen blooper. Her latest? Antifreeze potatoes.
Here's how she told the story: Her husband was working on the car recently. Hands covered in antifreeze, he scrubbed up and rinsed them over the potatoes she had peeled in the sink. The long and short of it is that Jessica made the scalloped potato dish she planned, but had a little moment of panic when she realized that there might be trace amounts of a lethal substance in each bite. A few minutes later, and after a bit of Googling, she threw it out.
Apparently this sort of thing runs in the family. My mom once made a savory gingerbread cake, by accident. She added garlic powder instead of ginger.
Have a funny cooking accident of your own? Share!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tomorrow is my son Carson's first birthday. And last year at this exact time -- yep, I was in labor. Painful, long and excruciating labor. Anyone who knows Carson knows that he's been, well, a handful. First there was the colic -- which seemed to last an eternity. And it did. Our boy cried the better part of each day for the first five months of his life. We couldn't sit, because he preferred rocking, swinging, jiggling, dancing, and bouncing (oh yeah, burned a lot of calories). Then, there were the sleep issues. For months on end, my boy woke up 3-6 times per night. Believe me, I considered the nights where he only woke three times luxurious. And I'm not kidding. Then there was the daytime sleep issues. Try getting anything done when your kid naps for only 25 minutes (quick meal, bathroom, wipe down the high chair -- and he's up again!). Then there was the constant fussing/intensity. By six months, it seemed that he'd graduated from colic, yet had developed a penchant for whining -- all the time. Every activity brought on a meltdown: car travel, grocery shopping, eating, playing with toys, you name it. Carson just wasn't a happy camper, and neither was I.
And then, somewhere between his 9-month birthday and now, things have kind of come into focus. He's a champion napper (1.5 hours/twice a day tends to be his average). There are days when I never even hear him whine or cry. He's incredibly happy and curious and playful and expressive. And here's the kicker: He SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT, as of this week. And when Jason came home tonight, I actually told him: "You know, I think this was the best day of Carson's life." It really was.
So you can see why I treated myself to a pedicure. And you can probably understand why I'm going to toast this evening. Because it's a huge milestone. Everyone says the first year is hard. Some are even honest and say it like it is: a nightmare. Don't get me wrong. There were lots of moments of joy, too -- and I treasure those -- but this year was hard, perhaps the hardest of my life.
Yet, there was a big pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, and I'm enjoying it right now. I did it, everyone -- I survived the first year. Happy birthday Carson!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saying that Grandpa had a big impact on my life is quite honestly an understatement. He had a huge impact, and I'd like to tell you a little about him.
Friday, December 14, 2007
So, this melted my kind-of-a-bit-Grinchlike heart (fussy babies, assignments, messy house -- who has time for Christmas spirit these days -- bah humbug!) and I decided to give it a try. So I packed up Carson and went to the nearest Starbucks drive-through. I hovered near the entrance, waiting for a car to pull in behind me. When one did, I inched my way up. Ironically, the woman in the car behind me acted very annoyed by this, as if I'd cut her off. I saw her kind of huffing and puffing in my rear view mirror. Little did she know what I was about to do.
I asked the barista what she ordered (a breakfast sandwich) and then paid for it and drove off. In the rear view mirror, I could see a look of shock on her face as the barista gave her the news. At first she looked confused, then touched. She was smiling.
It's not like I paid her mortgage payment or anything, but maybe I made her morning a little brighter. Funny, the experience actually had the exact same effect on me.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
There are days when I think being a writer is the most difficult occupation -- the most frustrating, isolating, discouraging occupation -- on the planet. And, then there are days like today when I think, "actually, this is a pretty good gig."
I had good conversations today -- with sources, with editors, with publicists. Things sort of came together seamlessly. And then, this afternoon, one of my favorite editors called to inquire about something. I had been sent some samples of a new ice cream product to try -- something I am writing about for a project. She asked me if I'd tried it yet. I hadn't. So my pressing assignment for this afternoon was: taste the ice cream and get back to her about it. Yeah, I know, tough job, huh? So there I was, enjoying a bowl of ice cream (well, sorbet actually) at 3 p.m. It doesn't get much better than that.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Roasted Eggplant, Chickpea and Penne Salad
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The Meyer lemon souffle is in the oven. Well, souffles, to be accurate. I divided the batter up into six beautiful ramekins. Nineteen more minutes until the oven timer will beep, and I will be in light, fluffy, lemony bliss. I'm crossing my fingers that they turn out -- both because I'd really like to enjoy them, and because it would be a lovely ending to an otherwise blah week of cooking. Here's a brief, and somewhat unexciting, state of food in my house:
*Made a prune cake (yep, a prune cake) recently that was just so-so. Fed most of it to the dog.
*Jason on the prune cake: "Oh, this is alright, but do you think you could make a regular cake sometime? Like double chocolate?"
*I'm trying to get in the mood for holiday baking, but can't seem to find the energy.
*Steamed salmon is our favorite go-to meal at present -- simple, healthful, and satisfying.
*Craving egg nog.
*Was horrified when Jason insinuated that if I were a character on "Desperate Housewives," I would be Bree Van Dekamp. I didn't find this funny. Not even a bit.
*Eating far too much pizza.
*Wondering what type of cake I'll make Carson for his birthday, but I think we'll put a candle in a healthful muffin instead. (He's only going to eat two bites anyway, before feeding the rest to the dog.)
*Was pleased with a recent vegetarian version of stuffed peppers I put together (made with "ground" tofu, instead of meat). I told Jason (ever the carnivore), mid-bite, that this was a meatless meal, and he pretended not to hear me. "Don't tell me," he said, covering his ears. "I'm imagining that it's meat." "Right," I said. "Grass fed beef."
*Carson recently learned how to spit food out of his mouth, and now he does it at every single meal. Spoon goes in, food comes out. I'm dreading the next stage on the horizon: food throwing.
Oh, is that the oven timer I hear? More soon.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Now I just need the energy to make the souffle. As you know, you never make them half-heatedly. They just won't turn out. They need love and affection, and lots of patience. And I'm much too tired tonight, so I'll just settle for a squeeze of lemon in my tea. It will have to tide me over until tomorrow.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
It was raining -- really heavy soggy rain-drops-that-soak-your-clothes-in-five-seconds raining -- this afternoon when we planned to pick up a Christmas tree. Unlike the old days, pre-Carson, when life had kind of a leisurely feel to it, today felt frantic. Naptime was approaching, so we drove a few miles up the road to a nearby tree lot -- not too far away, because when we're in the car too long, you-know-who loses it.
"You stay in the car with Carson," I told Jason, a little militantly, grabbing the umbrella. "I'll go get the tree." It felt weird to pick the tree solo, but it didn't make sense dragging the baby out in the wet, 39-degree weather either. So I ventured out on my own, trudging through the muddy ground like I was on some kind of high-speed scavenger hunt. (And if I sent Jason out, well -- we'd have a Charlie Brown situation on our hands.)
There was row after row of tall trees, fat trees, and sparse trees. But nothing caught my eye. Christmas tree shopping isn't like buying apples and oranges at the market. You sort of have to feel a oneness with them -- and I felt nothing. Finally, I flagged down an employee to help me, and a few minutes later we found it: a tall, stately looking Noble fir. "I'll take it," I said. "And I have a fussy baby with his daddy in the car, so I need to pay and go -- fast!"
We hurried to the cash register, where I was shocked to hear the price of my tree -- somewhere between ouch and oh dear. I set it back. Really, Christmas trees shouldn't rival airfare to Maui. The clerk sniffed and pointed to the area where the cheaper trees were housed, giving me an annoyed look as if to say "Clearly you have no taste in trees."
Thirty seconds later, I return with a slightly smaller, more reasonably priced Noble. I pay for it, they strap it on our car, and we head home. Five strands of broken lights later (along with an hour spent wrangling the tree into the stand, cleaning up fallen needles, and washing sap off our hands) I began to wonder, why do we do this tree thing again? I'm grumpy. I'm frustrated. I'm tired. I'm borderline Ebenezer Scrooge, in the flesh. Then, out of nowhere, I get my answer:
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Posted by Sarah at 3:52 PM
Here is Seattle, we can throw food scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, etc. into our yard waste containers. A great idea, yes, but it also turns into a bit of an organizational mess in the kitchen. Where do you keep this messy stuff? I've tried a lot of different methods, including Bio Bags, and have been dissatisfied with all. I recently purchased this cute ceramic compost pot (you can find them on Amazon and Storables). The lid is fitted with a charcoal filter (to block out those icky smells), so that's a plus, and it looks great on my kitchen counter.