February 2nd, 2015 · Print
I’m always on the lookout for simple recipes that work for weeknights in our house — the kind of thing you can pick up in five minutes at the grocery store, without roaming the aisles for esoteric ingredients. Dishes that are healthy and delicious, but above all easy.
I love to cook, but once the baby is in bed, I’d rather sit on the couch and have a cup of tea than spend an hour dicing vegetables.
So, I make a lot of meals in our slow cooker — twice a week at least. This started before Bear was born, when I made meals ahead of time to freeze for those early weeks. (Well-intentioned, but ultimately a wasted effort. We got sick of them fast and wound up eating take-out. Eh.)
But the slow cooker was a true life-saver was after Bear was born — on rough nights, Chad and I would eat dinner in five-minute shifts and then resume frantically trying to calm the baby down. Cooking wasn’t a priority, and meals from the slow cooker don’t burn. So that was all we ate for, oh, about six months.
But lately… things have gotten a little easier. Our son is about nine months old now, so this was a long time coming. But most nights, now, he reliably goes to bed by 7pm, and Chad and I actually have a few hours of calm in the evenings. We’ve even watched a little TV. (Yes, this is a big deal. Watching an uninterrupted television program is something that has been missing from my life for almost a year, and the return is glorious.)
And with that extra time, I’ve been making some slightly more ambitious dinners.
Emphasis on the slightly.
Like this one. Four ingredients, one pan. It takes maybe five minutes of prep and 20 minutes or so of cooking. Not exactly Julia Child-worthy, but it’s a big step up — and it’s delicious.
Maybe in a few months I’ll be back up to baking cakes from scratch, but for now, this is easy, healthy, and good. And that’s pretty much all we need.
Simple Weeknight Salmon
4 salmon fillets
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread olive oil over each salmon fillet, and then season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the salmon. Slice the other lemon and place two small slices on each portion. Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Tags: food · main dishes
January 29th, 2015 · Print
I have been extremely busy lately. After starting my own law practice a year and a half ago, I’ve really felt like I hit my stride in the last six months, which is an awesome feeling. However, the flip side of that awesome feeling is that I have been working really, really hard.
Bear and I have settled into a fairly predictable schedule in the last few months, and as long as I don’t have court appearances, meetings, or depositions, I usually stay home with him in the mornings and work during his nap, and then take him to school in the afternoons. I don’t think there’s such a thing as an ideal childcare situation, but ours is a pretty good balance. Most of the time, it works really well — I have a good chunk of time with him every day, but I also have a decent stretch of uninterrupted work time.
But last week, I just started to feel like I wasn’t getting quite enough time with him. He was taking long morning naps and I was working on a number of big projects, and I just started to really miss him. My job is really important to me and I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing now for anything, but I had a day that I almost cried when I dropped him off at school for the afternoon. I know lots of moms feel this way — they’re proud of their careers, but no matter how much you love your job, it’s hard to leave your baby with someone else every day. There’s no way around that. It’s just hard.
So this week, I finally made it past a few big deadlines, and when two of my mom friends suggested a trip to the zoo, I jumped at the chance to have a special afternoon with our baby boy. We live about a mile from the Houston Zoo, but Bear hasn’t really been old enough to understand it until now, so this was our first visit.
And we had so much fun. He loved watching all the people, looking into the aquarium (“Hooray for Fish” is one of his favorite books!), and of course, getting to ride the carousel. And I loved getting an extra afternoon with our son, watching him experience something new.
As Bear gets older, I want to make this a tradition: every once in a while, we’ll take a few hours off from school and work, and do something fun. Whether it’s exploring museums or picnics in the park or just staying home and baking cookies, those memories are ones that I’ll cherish forever. It feels like he’s growing up so fast — for the past few months, every day brings some new development or change.
So, that shot above? It’s the first of many stolen afternoons, and the start of some amazing times together.
Tags: baby · life
January 26th, 2015 · Print
Sometimes when I post a particularly sweet photo, video, or blog post about our son, I get a comment back: “You make it look easy.”
Undoubtedly, this comment comes from a good place. It’s someone telling me that I’m doing ok at this whole mothering thing (hopefully, I am), that life seems pretty good (it is) and that the baby and I are clearly happy (we are).
But, oh my gosh. The last thing I would want to do ever is make it look easy.
Social media and blogging are such wonderful additions to our culture; they let people connect across huge distances and cultural divides. They make cooped-up new moms feel like they’re part of a community, they help us share knowledge and advice, and they enrich our lives in so many ways.
But they also make us competitive with each other. They make us compare our real-life experience with a snapshot of someone else’s — a beautiful, happy snapshot, but one that lacks context and background. Trust me: For every cute date-night outfit, there’s also a day when I don’t have time to even brush my hair. For every sweet baby smile, there’s a night when he wakes up every two hours in tears. Those moments are part of reality for any new mom, whether we choose to share them or not.
I don’t mean to say that there’s anything wrong with posting those beautiful moments — there isn’t, and I treasure all the sweet little smiles I’ve captured on camera in these last few months.
But phrases like “making it look easy” make it seem like there’s something wrong with you if it’s not easy. If it’s not easy, that it’s your fault. That it could be “easy” if you would just do things differently.
But here’s the thing: life isn’t rewarding or rich because it’s easy. Life is incredible because of those tiny little moments, every day, when we appreciate something joyful or meaningful in our daily experiences. Sure, there are great, easy days. And there are also so many great moments in the not-easy days.
If you’re expecting it to be easy — just because someone else might make it look easy — you’re always going to be unsatisfied.
And I wanted to write this, because I worry sometimes that I contribute to it. I worry that when I write about topics like breastfeeding, postpartum weight loss, or even how I’ve chosen to pursue my career, that others will feel badly because they’re struggling with those same issues. To write about these topics suggests, in some small way, that you have figured them out. But these are day-to-day struggles, and I don’t think anyone has fully figured them out.
All our lives are different. And it’s important to remember that. Each mom out there — each person out there, parent or not — has their own ups and downs that are unique to their family. And I know that some of my toughest moments — the 2 a.m. wake-ups and the mornings that I frantically proofread a brief while our son naps in the next room — are the memories that I’ll look back on, years later, when he’s all grown up, and smile.
So who really wants ‘easy’ anyways?
Tags: baby · life