Don't need me

Just for five minutes, don't need me.

Just for a day, don't need me.

That is how I feel right now.

It's Tuesday, not Monday. And since yesterday I have been rehearsing and pre-writing a post that I had wanted to write yesterday. It was about being that mom - that mom who gives her toddler that sweet-sticky-fruit-roll-up-type-thing so she can get through grocery shopping at Trader Joes, that mom who schlepps her toddler through IKEA and then gets annoyed when he runs out of patience and wants out of the stroller and then bribes him with episodes of Thomas on her iPhone, that mom who promised to go to the playground after IKEA and then drove right past because it was just too cold and she was just too tired.

But today I am over feeling bad about being that mom because we are all that mom all the time and the only thing the judgment of ourselves and each other is doing is making us miserable, depressed and alienated from one another. I realized today, that there is no "that mom", just mom and the sooner I really let that sink in, like really sink way deep down to that dark judgmental festering cavity inside, the more pleasant, rewarding and satisfying this whole mothering experiment will be. For everyone.

No today, I am okay with being that mom. I may even have embraced it. Instead, I just want to be that mom who isn't needed. Just for about 5 minutes. Oh, and the wife and daughter who isn't needed either.

After chaos and socializing and house guests and dinner parties and even a trip to the supermarket, I need quiet and solitude and downtime. In fact, I like being alone. I always have. I like food shopping alone and going to the flea market alone. I like eating alone and going to the movies alone. And these days, I am rarely alone.

"Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama." I love the sound of it. 98% of the time. He started last week to actually come and find me, wrap his arm around my knee and start to tug - with longing eyes motioning in the direction in which he wanted me to come, as if to say "I neeeeeeed you to watch me play with my train set." As I said, I am rarely alone.

We do quiet time and book reading time and time where we do separate activities, but we are still in the same room. My need for solitude is next to impossible to explain to a toddler so I don't try. Most grown-ups don't necessarily understand it either. Husbands included.

But tonight, after the nugget was put to bed, I did something differently. I made a statement. It went something like this, "I want to take my computer, get into bed, write a blog entry and then write a journal entry and then be asleep by 10pm, maybe earlier."

That was me, needing me. And you know what, it feels fantastic.


Simply grateful

...because this week should be full of all the things we are grateful for, no matter how small.

Happy Thanksgiving.

White plate found on Etsy at Paloma's Nest


Morning ritual

"Are you ready to meditate?" he asks.

Still half asleep I know that its sometime around 6am. He's been awake long enough to be mostly awake, dressed, teeth brushed and alert. I haven't even gotten out of bed.

I want to scream no. I want to roll my eyes. I want to say "Do I look ready to meditate?"

That's the ritual on weekday mornings. Doesn't really feel so great.

And today was no different, but instead of loathing the set up, I just got up and found my spot, no eye rolling in sight.

And then I just started to breathe.

And then I let my spaghetti brain of a to do list jump around in my head like children in a bouncy house. And I smiled.

And then I just started to breathe.

And then I just started to breathe again.

And again.

And again.

Until at one point the bell chimed, letting my boycotting brain know that 30 minutes had passed.

I'll try it again tomorrow.


The spot

Here it is. My new meditation spot.

And my new Zafu and Zabuton. Available here.

When we first moved into this house, this nook screamed reading corner for the nugget. So I filled the shelves with books and threw done some pillows. Turns out he's a little small and really doesn't need a nook just set.

So I claimed the real estate for myself.

And really, I think it's just right.


Nap time Recipe #2: Vichysoisssseez

image from here

Okay, so I exaggerated the name. Just be French for a second.

I branched into the Joy of Cooking this week - which for those of you who are a non-cook like myself, is so not the easiest cookbook. It assumes a lot. And I know little. Bad combo.

But when potatoes and leeks arrived in my CSA box last week, it was a no brainer that I had to try this.

And oooh, it was good. And it made the house smell good. And leeks are really easy to mince. And the leftover can be frozen. And all three of us liked it.

I think leeks may just be my favorite vegetable, there is just something about them.

FYI - I will be back next Monday. I have a special project that is brewing...which I will share next week!


A boy at the beach

The California Coast is not all sunshine and tanned beauties in teeny bikinis. In fact most of it can be dreary and foggy and damp. I grew up on that kind of coast, longing for the warmth and carefree life in the Southern California version of the beach.

But this time, this visit to this beach, where I watched my high-school boyfriend surf, where we scattered my dads ashes and where our beloved dog thought he was a seal and swam way too far off shore only to return to a beach full of nervous onlookers, this visit was different. It was the nugget's first time at this very special piece of the California Coast, and the damp, misty fog didn't bother him at all.

And I, barely even noticed.

Maybe that's what happens when you go back home, as a grown up.


Another I am a mom moment...

And then it happened. Just like that, without warning, I woke up the mother of a boy who doesn't eat his crusts.

I haven't decided what to do about it, because it only just happened today for the first time. I watched, as piece after piece got eaten, all the way to the harder border where the crust began.

How could this be? I LOVE the crust.

I grew up in a house where kids ate what and how the adults ate. No extra meals, no cutting off the crusts, no soda or boxed macaroni-n-cheese, no all-my-child-will-eat-is-hot-dogs. Then I started to babysit when I was 15 and the world of kids food habits unfolded one box of Kraft at a time. And here I am - as the parent. Bewildered, awestruck, amazed, confused and slightly entertained by the irony of it all.

So, what do I do?

And please, don't say cut off the crusts!


Day 1: Naptime Cooking Class

Recipe #1: Cream-braised Green Cabbage from A Homemade Life

My CSA box this week happened to be all about cabbage. One of the recipes that jumped off the page and whacked my taste buds upside the head was Molly's cream braised cabbage recipe. And can I tell you, it was my kind of recipe and the finished product was out of this world.

As this is not a cooking blog, I am not going to write out the recipe. Instead, each Monday is going to be another naptime cooking class, where I try something new and pay attention to what I learn about cooking, eating and so on and so forth.

So lessons from my encounter with the green cabbage:

1. Less than 5 ingredients is perfect for me. Ingredients like cream, butter, lemon and salt and pepper are simple, pure and give me confidence when working with them.

2. My eagerness and impatience make me prone to mistakes. I was too fast and too eager and forgot to brown the second side before adding the cream.

3. My impatience makes me prone to mistakes. I know, I said that already but this just became really apparent.

4. It's not fun making something so divinely heavenly without someone to share it with. My dear husband ate his wedge in support, not in joy. I'll have to dry this one out on another crowd.

5. It's the mess of cooking that gets me anxious. So clean as I go is necessary but I don't have the timing thing down yet.

6. All in all, success!

Recipe #2: Red Cabbage from The Joy of Cooking

So lessons from my encounter with the red cabbage:

1. I took on too much. Two new recipes was not such a good idea because I ran out of steam and enthusiasm.

2. How on earth you do finely shred cabbage?

3. Fennel seeds and apples make a difference. Without it, kind of blah.

4. Its hard for me to take a compliment if I don't like the outcome - husband and brother's girlfriend both loved it!

5. Do this dishes before you go to bed. I broke my rule and cleaning up cabbage mess the next morning was terribly unpleasant.

6. It wasn't my Oma's Rotkraut, but it was a start.

Stay tuned for next week...


A Homemade Life

My path to the things that influence and affect my life is far more circuitous than straight. It has always been that way. You can see this in my colorful cornucopia of a resume, the now fading stamps in my passport and perhaps even in the topics of this blog, if you have been reading for longer than a week. This latest influence, that has struck a deep and buried nerve, came to me through GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle blog. A while ago she featured her favorite foodie blogs and as I am in the midst of embracing my own cooking inability and transforming it into something that can nurture this little family of three, I paid close attention. And what I found well, it may have changed everything.

Amongst the many gems of accomplished food blogs, something about Molly Wizenberg and Orangette caught my attention. As did her book, which I ordered immediately and have been devouring ever since. And today, in my forced day in bed gifted to me by my runny nosed toddler whose cold/flu has passed much more quickly than mine, I finished A Homemade Life.

One reviewer is right - you don't know whether to run into the kitchen and try to recreate the recipes like the cream-braised green cabbage or lie in bed and dream of these heavenly creations. I, well, I read the book, ear marked the recipes that seem doable (for me) and when ready, will give my first one a try.

But for me, the book hit a different kind of nerve. It hit the dad nerve. The part where my dad died too early, too soon. The part where I would have to get through my wedding day without him. The part where he was quirky and at times strange, but more full of life than anyone I have ever met. The part where he would buy diamond earrings for his girl at an estate sale and forget about them. The part where he served up sardines on saltines with diced onions and pepper to my 3rd grade friends and I wanted to crawl under the nearest large object and hide forever. The part where we had to eat his french toast and eggs and bacon on Thanksgiving morning because you have to stretch our stomachs for later on. The part where when I think of food, I think of my dad. The part where when I try to make food, I don't know how and he's not around to ask.

I have been dancing on the edge while reading Molly's book. That edge between the joy of remembering and the despair of loss, when tears can fall with effortless ease. That edge between wishing the past could have been different and actually accepting the present is here because of that past. That edge between staying small and embracing ones true greatness. She has both given me the kick in the ass to get over my "but I don't like to cook" attitude and the inspiration to simply start to write. To really write. And to put myself out there. And to just see what happens.

I may not ever be able to say that I love cooking and I certainly won't hold Molly's book responsible. But I am my father's daughter and I have to trust that in my gene's somewhere is the ability to at least like it. And just maybe, I can learn to make a mean chocolate cake.

By the way, Molly, if you ever read this, I bought an oven thermometer yesterday. It's still in my purse, but for now, that's exactly where I need it to be.

For more about Molly, her writing, her restaurant, visit her blog Orangette or follow her podcasts at Spilled Milk



I've started to read Part III of Momma Zen. And true to form, the first chapter met me at exactly the right place.

I have been thinking a lot about schedules. Craving one, making one, making another, not following one, and so on and so forth. New motherhood is about unpredictability - there in lies some of the uncomfortable and sometimes irritating forced personal growth. But then one day, naps start to happen at the same time. And play dates. And bath time.

And then it all changes again. What you counted doesn't happen. What you planned doesn't work. And there again, lies some of that forced personal growth.

As if parenthood isn't hard enough, we get caught in the fire of opposing philosophies - sleep schedule vs. no schedule, timed breastfeeding vs. on demand feeding. Each family has their go-to method and stand feverishly behind it. Before having a child, I would have said that I fall into that "spontaneous, natural, let it happen organically" life rhythm. And for some things I am that way. For others, I have become the warden of timekeeping.

Bedtime is at 7pm, 99.9% of the time. That is how our nugget started to sleep through the night - every night. I paid attention to his rhythms and patterns and slowly this organic schedule emerged, that I simply gave structure to. And follow, almost religiously. But I do smile when I hear myself saying, "No he can't join the party - he goes to sleep at 7" because the creative and loosey goosey side of me wants to let him be with us and explore and enjoy his uncle's birthday celebration. I 100% believe that this simple adherence to his natural tendency to go to sleep at around 7pm is the reason that he is as pleasant and well adjusted and social and clever. He knows what to expect - there is no reason to fight it or hate it or rebel against it. At least for now.

And the reason I know how beneficial this is for him is that I know how beneficial it is for me. When I spent ten days at a silent meditation retreat in Thailand, I was certain that the structured schedule of the day would test the "don't want to follow your rules" girl in me. But you know what, I LOVED it. I LOVED LOVED LOVED it. Every minute of it. Why? Because for 10 days, I knew exactly what was expected of me, where I needed to be, what I needed to eat, when I needed to sleep. I didn't have to make any choices. And out of that most controlled and structured environment came the most profound sense of freedom I have ever felt. Ironic, right?

Our rational minds don't buy it. But it is true. Out of this structure came freedom and clarity and peace. And the most sensational bursts of creativity that I am still tapping into today.

Once again what is good for me is good for him, or vice versa. Wherever you are on the continuum of time - think about it for a moment. Think about your relationship with time and what you are teaching your children or what they are teaching you. Ms. Miller may have summed up my advice for new parents and especially new moms in this one sentence, "She became predictable when I became predictable.", in case anyone ever asks me.

As part of creating a ritualized schedule for myself, I have committed Monday nap time to my dwindling and in-need-of-attention-mindfulness practice. I will sit first for 30 minutes (in my newly appointed meditation corner), then read an unread chapter in Momma Zen and then let my writing simply follow. If you are interested in joining me, let me know. Would love for you to join me - wherever you are. No meditation skills required.

Above image found here