BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The truth about babies

The truth about babies is that they cry.  A lot.  Uliana got over that colic-y night time crying just a few days before she turned 3 months.  Then less than a week later she started crying all day.  She cried before naps, after naps, during diaper changes, if left on the floor, in her bouncy chair, in the highchair or in the stroller.  Basically she wants to be held.  And she'd prefer it if Mama was the one doing the holding.

Today was a particularly "fun" day (quotations are used to indicate my sarcasm).  By the time Brad got home I was a wreck.  My head, neck and shoulders ached from having carried her around all day. My nerves were shot simply because it was a gorgeous day and I couldn't do anything to enjoy it.  I couldn't get to any of the chores in the garden.  We couldn't spend more than a few minutes at the playground.  The beach offered no reprieve.  Uliana was not going to be happy anywhere.

When the fussiness first started 4 weeks ago I thought that she might have been ill.  She had teething symptoms (drool, red cheeks, chewing) but the fussiness was too extreme for that.  My friend (who is a dentist) suggested that I have her checked out by a doctor for an ear ache.

A clean bill of health lead me to look at her naps as contributing to the problem.  She was cat napping about 8 times a day.  So the past two weeks I've worked on keeping her awake for at least 2 hour stretches.  She's sleeping better and is down to 4 naps a day... but still fussy.

So to ease my nerves I've set up a mental casino game.  There are four teeth pushing up in white lumps as the main contenders in the race, the bottom two front teeth and the top canines (vampire baby?).  My bet is that the bottom-right side tooth erupting sometime in the next two weeks.  Here's hoping I'm right!

Here are some photo of Uliana taken right before bed. This is her "Hi Mama, I'm so glad to see you!" face. (It's the smile that keeps me sane).
It was quickly followed by her "pick me up RIGHT NOW or I'll cry face." 
In lieu of a recipe I want to share some photos from the Maritime Museum (from a visit mid-March).  Nikolai loves the museum mainly because he's very interested in boats and pirates.  I'm not sure whether it's an age related shift or due to exposure; but he LOVED trains in Ireland, and now that we live on the coast he loves boats.

The first floor is all about pirates and battles on the BC coast line.  They even have a mock pirate ship for kids to play on.
The top floor is the old court house for BC.
It also boasts the oldest elevator in BC!  It requires an operator, and was rickety enough that Nikolai WAS NOT going to even step in it.  He'd rather climb the 4 flights of stairs.
And lastly, here's some pictures of a cake I made for my mother using the donut muffin recipe.  I baked a double recipe of the donut muffins with a gluten-free flour mix.  It was very dense.  So I sliced the cake up into 4 layers which I filled with a berry compote and whipping cream.  Yummy.
Uliana was positively drooling over Brad's piece.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Eating for fuel

Today is Nikolai's first t-ball practice.  The schedule is a bit unfortunate as it overlaps his normal bedtime, but I'm sure that he'll have no problem staying up late.  Regardless, I decided to feed for success, so today's blog is about two versatile kitchen staples.  Besides Nikolai's gotten really into the idea of taking photos for the blog, so now EVERY meal is "blog-worthy".

Voila, Nikolai's photo from tonight. 

Kale is probably the best thing to grow in a garden.  It is so easy to grow that it's almost a weed, and it's a plant that keeps giving throughout it's life.  The kale most people are familiar with are the big leaves that are sold at farmers markets.  This is the mature kale, and I use it in the place of any cooked green from cabbage to spinach.  I chop it into stirfry's, pasta, quinoa salad, soup and as a side dish all on it's own.  I've already blogged a few kale recipes.

But in the garden kale has several other incarnations... the early kale leaves can be added as a bitter green to a salad.  The late flowering kale is my favorite version.  If picked early enough, the flowering stems of the kale can be eaten like asparagus or a sprouting broccoli.  The stems are soft and succulent (though they do go woody once the flowers start hinting at opening). 
The leaves of a flowering kale are sweet and tender compared to their hearty winter counterparts, and though Nikolai will eat them raw he prefers it when I make them into kale chips.

Kale Chips
Wash, de-stem and chop kale.  Toss kale with 1 tbsp olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt (to taste).  Bake at 350 F (170 C) for 10-15 min.  The edges should be slightly browned and the kale should be crispy.

Lentils are akin to beans as a vegetarian source for protein and iron.  However, they have several distinct advantages over beans:
1. No soaking is required (so they are quick to prepare).
2. Higher in fiber, lower in starch and more protein than beans
3. They don't make my baby gassy.
4. As I've discovered they are VERY versatile.  French lentils are good for salads, brown or green lentils make a nice ground meat replacement (about the same consistency) and red lentils perform a magical disappearing act into soups and sauces.

For dinner tonight (featured in the photos above) I made a lentil loaf... which wasn't worth sharing.  Brad's on a small spring cleanse and a lentil loaf without ANY binders or flavour additives was a mushy pile that Nikolai consumed with his Honey Bunny ketchup

Lentil Taco Filling
 Though beans are more traditional as a taco filling, brown lentils were a quick and cheap substitute for anyone avoiding canned foods.  (There are loads of reasons to avoid canned food... our primary concern is the unlabelled sulfites, but there's the BPA liners and the environmental costs too).

Cook 1 cup of dried lentils (brown or green work best) in boiling water until soft (about 15 min).  Drain and set aside.

Saute 1/2 diced onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 green pepper until soft.  Add in 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp chili powder (or paprika), 1/2 tsp ground coriander and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until fragrant.

Add in 3 tbsp of tomato paste, 1/2 tsp oregano and the lentils.  Add water as needed (just 1-2 tbsp) and mash the lentils until you reach the desired consistency.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The miracle

I was chatting with a friend from Russia last week... basically about having children.  She has a son Nikolai's age, but is reluctant to have a second child without her family close by.  This led into a conversation about why she left Russia and I was left overwhelmed by the amazing luck of having been born in Canada.

In Russia she had a good job as a curator at an art gallery; however, her pay wouldn't even cover the rent on a small one bedroom apartment and everything else was just as unaffordable.  People are required live in small apartments with their extended families and they garden in allotments to feed themselves through winter.

From there my thoughts followed along to our friends from Iran who (since they were born in 1979) were born in a revolution that went from being a hippy-ish movement that was trying to free themselves from a corrupt Shah and ended up with... well... something more restrictive.  (Persepolis by Satrapi is a light and entertaining read on this subject.)

However, if you expand the circle wider, to include people I don't know... people for who security, sufficient food and clean water are an everyday struggle, then the lens of my myopic world focuses and I am among the elite.  Simply by being born in Canada I am promised good health care, education and the chance for my children to lead productive lives.  I may not be among the top 1% in Canada, but I am certainly among the top 1% of the world.

This is the everyday miracle of my life.

This weeks photos are taken by Nikolai.  I've trimmed it down from the original 86 photos...

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

All the people, so many people

Our trip to Vancouver was all about catching up with friends and family.  It was a whirlwind tour that we enjoyed and Uliana tolerated (provided that she was tucked away in the carrier). 

I think it's best to start right into the photos as I don't have time to blog a story.  I'm working towards a May 1st short story deadline, and my computer usage, for the whole week, generally doesn't amount to much more than 5 hours (and none of it consecutive).  I realize that this might be a fruitless goal... but I might as well try!

Claire's cheesecake
Two Nik's looking cool (like Nik's must do)
Easter eggs
At a playground on the seawall (it was gorgeously sunny the whole visit -and our camera is not great at sunshine photos.  Maybe because it was bought in Ireland?)