Or a “For the New Mom Gift Guide”.
Or the “I’m a New Mom and Desperately Need to Treat Mah Self as to Not Feel 90 Years Old All the Time” List.
The point is that I’ve been thinking a lot about the little things that have made life with a new baby a little brighter, and thought maybe we could talk about those things. Because Lord knows I’d love a break from talking about how my baby never, ever wants to sleep for more than a couple hours at time. Like, EVER. So whether you are a Mom type yourself, or you are looking to get something off the beaten registry path for a friend who is about to, or in the midst of, having life ruled by a tiny high-maintenance person, consider the following:
I love the concept of having a summer jam, don’t you? I’m talking about becoming 100-times-on-repeat-can’t stop-so-don’t-try-to-make-me-OBSESSED with a particular song, like a personal anthem of sorts. This song will carry you all the way to September of a given year, turned up loud during long drives and workouts. And then long after you shelve it along with your flip flops, you can pull that song back out in February when you’re about to jump off the roof with Seasonal Affective Disorder and BAM–you’re right back to summery good times. In your mind, at least. Man, I love a good summer jam.
For me, past summer jams include such gems as 1992′s “Tennessee” by Arrested Development and “Under the Bridge” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers–if I hear either of those now, I’m right back to scrunchies, Keds, and inexplicably large t-shirts half-tucked into Umbro shorts. Brilliant. That god-awful “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal? Takes me straight back to 1995, my amazing collection of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers, and my first car and all the questionable decisions that go along with that milestone.
(Speaking of questionable decisions while having your first car, I blame the video for 1995′s other summer jam, “Crazy” by Aerosmith. You can’t even tell me that you didn’t want to be in that video, so were you the Alicia Silverstone or the Liv Tyler whilst cruising with your BFF that summer? Be real.)
So! I emerge from The Cave of Two Small Children to say hello and bring you waffles. With whole wheat, no less! I know. What has happened to me?! But in truth, there’s been a lot of exciting things happening around these parts–life is good, full, verrrrry busy. I’m even working on developing some new, exciting projects that may or may not end up being real life things so LET’S JUST NOT JINX IT, OKAY?
I’m going to try really hard not to make all my check-ins with you lovely people be all about being a harried mother of two, because honestly, I’m not experiencing anything that one tra-zillion women before me haven’t. But dang, it’s all-consuming, this two kids business. Everyday I remind myself to take it easy, to simplifysimplifysimplify, and not get all worked up about all the things on the checklist that don’t get done. Because I’m kind of Type A when it comes to my checklist, whether it’s mental or written. And just when I think I’m going to get 30 minutes to do something that might make me feel “accomplished” on a given day, somebody needs something and gahhhhh, another item on the checklist is getting pushed off again. It could be working on a new book idea, composing a coherent e-mail, or folding an entire basket of laundry at once. It could be showering when I’d like to, or it could be finally–finally!–finding my other black (most comfortable, most loved, where arrreee yooouuu?) Reef flip-flop. Madness, I tell you.
Nearly 11 weeks into life with two children, ages 4 and fussy-and-a-half, and ohhhh, the gravity of the whole thing. Friends, I will be real with you: I am a harried mess 99% of the time. I miss being able to test recipes and share them with you more often, but Life, she is what she is right now, and I have to get over that, as hard as it is.
The thing is, these days, very few tasks can actually be completed, and even fewer of those things get done in the manner in which I would like them to be done. For a mostly Type A kind of lady, this alone is enough to drive me to drink (and I can’t even DRINK the way I’d like to—thanks, nursing!). Sir Baby has quite the set of lungs, and he likes to unleash them at approximately six minutes after being set down anywhere, and sometimes in less time than that. Most days, I’m stressing like Sandy Bullock in Speed because he freaks out in the car unless we’re cruising the freeway with no stoplights to bust his groove. The darling boy also loves (demands) to be held and loves face time even more—if I could spend the entire day hovering eight inches over his face, he would never, ever cry. And sometimes I spend quite a lot of time doing just that, because OH WHEN HE SMILES.
The title of this post is a bit misleading, I admit. Because truthfully, the bulk of what I’ve been into lately involves not very exciting things like nursing nonstop (so sitting in a chair, then?), thinking of things to eat that can be prepared and shoved into my face with one hand (which evidently doesn’t leave much time for the baking or taking pictures of food), and trying to find time to pee alone. But what I really wanted to do was pop in today, say hello! and we’re still all alive! and sometimes even bathed!, and share a few things that have made my days a little brighter while careening through the Newborn Tunnel of (Sometimes) Hell.
I’ve managed to get back on track with exercise, which has been key in maintaining my sanity. In an unexplained bout of inspiration (and a longing to get back into my regular clothes), two weeks ago I decided to take up running again after nearly a year. To be kind to my post-pregnancy joints and bones, I’ve decided to take it allll the way back to 2003 when I first started running, and ease back into a running routine with the Couch to 5k program. Of course now, instead of obsessively glancing at a watch to track intervals while listening to the very first Maroon 5 album on a CD walkman, there are fancy things like this Couch to 5k app that does all the thinking for you, and features voice cues that gently interrupt your iPhone’s playlist to tell you when to run and when to walk. Awesome. I love technology when it’s idiot-proof.
I ordered this book recently and have bookmarked the bananas out of it. I’ve got mad kitchen plans, believe you me.
I’ve been making this recipe for dinner probably once a week since the baby was born. Add some broccoli and instant brown rice (cooked with chicken or veg stock instead of water), and BOOM. Ultimate easy-yet-satisfying meal. So simple, cheap, kind of old school, kid-friendly, and unreal delicious. And good for two night’s worth of dinners–hallelujah!
We also got a few awesome meals out of this fantastic take on Spanikopita from one of my favorite people, The Wednesday Chef. No better way to get your greens, people. Just add wine.
In the “I’ve made them 100 times, but never blogged about them” category, here are some of the world’s best cookies. In fact, I have a Ziploc full of these frozen cookie dough balls in my freezer right now. It’s how I’ve been keeping my family in freshly baked cookies all these weeks like some kind of deranged June Cleaver.
I haven’t bought any new clothes just yet, but when I do, I’m using this resource. The concept gives me a major case of “Why didn’t I think of that?!”. I’m getting all into it within the next couple months, which is to say when I get a bit more weight off of my maternal midsection.
Okay, so, I lied on that last point. I have purchased these flip flops in Light Gold, which add a little bit of something special to my Dreary Mom Outfits.
To further celebrate the fact that I’m no longer retaining water and my feet have stopped looking like Shrek’s, I got a glorious pedicure with this nail color, which is always my Happy Color. It makes me feel more together even when I’m in pajamas. I have decided that it’s my Forever Toenail Polish. I’ll be working it into my will.
Unlike my strategy with my first child, I’ve had this new kid on the move and out in the world since day 4. It’s saved my sanity. But it’s a bonus when the days involve more than marathon trips to Target. Like lunch at the perfect restaurant with an amazing friend, and making it a double with a dessert pitstop at one of San Francisco’s best bakeries. Now that’s a good day, even if you’ve got a sweaty baby strapped to your chest.
Add to that an actual, in-person meeting (at a new-ish, and completely perfect SF bakery) with a heretofore strictly online friend, during which you find out that she’s as fabulous as you’d hoped, and every bit as lovely as her website. Again with aforementioned baby strapped to chest, but a magical meeting nonetheless. Big ups for real people in an unreal world.
Just to give you an idea of what my personal fitness regimen is like these days:
Today I took one of my first post-pregnancy walks (beyond wandering aimlessly around the grocery store, trying to remember what I’m there for besides milk and coffee beans). Rounding a corner, I saw a woman running at a good clip, looking confident and fit. I flashed her the thumbs up. Not for her form, or fly Lululemon ensemble, mind you. No, the first thought I had when I saw that chick running was, “Dang, I wish I had a pelvic floor like that.”
So at three weeks after birth, we’re dealing in small moves to get back into shape over here, inside and out, in both the exercise and nutrition departments. While I didn’t go all J.Simps on my pregnancy weight gain, nothing can really prepare you for, um, the state of things after you give birth. Let’s just say I won’t be doing a post-baby HOW I GOT THIN! photo session for US Weekly at six weeks post-partum. Getting back into a routine takes time in the real world. I’m trying to be patient with myself about that bit, even though I’m dying to get back into my non-stretchy clothes. And getting a few easy baking recipes into the arsenal that also happen to be what I call Halfsies Healthy really helps things along.
Well, hello! You’ll never guess what I’ve been up to over the past couple weeks. Okay, I’ll just tell you. That baby boy? The Inside Baby that was making me huger and more miserable by the minute? He finally decided to make his entrance into this crazy world two weeks ago and it turns out he’s been making up for giving me a massive ongoing case of heartburn for the past nine months and a myriad of other aches and pains by being an absolute Superstar Outside Baby. Nursing well, even sleeping well, he is the stuff of newborn dreams, I’m telling you. I will be sure to share more stories and photos as the weeks go on and we get into a groove around here.
But in the meantime, I wanted to take a quick minute to share some tips with you about a recipe from Pure Vanilla. Turns out, at the exact moment Sir Baby was making his entrance, the fabulous folks at USA Weekend published a lovely piece on the cookbook and the recipe for Creamy Vanilla Rice Pudding. And as a bit of press in a national publication is wont to do, it’s garnered some attention and filled my inbox with e-mails from enthusiastic home cooks: some raves about the recipe (thank you, I love you, too!), some polite questions about substitutions and technique (many thanks to you, too, for wording your thoughts so nicely), and, of course, a couple standout notes from a few people for whom the world has seemingly ended due to their pudding not setting (oh, Internet, you vex me so).
At any rate, all the correspondence left me with me with a serious case of rice pudding on the brain (related: having a newborn also gives you a serious case of Rice Pudding Brain–coincidence?). So I gave into the craving and whipped up a batch the other day (you know, for quality control), and while working through the recipe, I realized that to the inexperienced, a traditional, eggless rice pudding recipe like the one in Pure Vanilla can be tricky to master, and we all know what I stickler I am for giving you clear, concise recipes that work. So in the interest of always being Your Kitchen Pal, I thought I’d lay out a few tips to lead you to rice pudding success, and point out a couple things that are listed in the recipe, but might benefit from further emphasis or clarification.
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