Archive for December 7th, 2008
Mishaps from the kitchen (worm-eating turnip edit)

Last week was one of those stretches of time where I had to drag myself kicking and screaming through each tedious minute in an effort to get through the week with sanity intact.  In some ways, I succeeded at maintaining some sanity, but in others, it was an epic failure.  This time of year is not my favorite—the traffic, the throngs of hurried and stressed holiday shoppers, the blatant disregard of the pedestrian right-of-way at every crosswalk in town.  The things I *do* enjoy about this time of year are the food, the lights in the dark of night shining like miniature beacons, hot drinks spiked with caustic whiskey.  By staying indoors, I can enjoy all of these things while at the same time avoiding the things I dislike about this time of year.  This strategy works to a point, but the reality of it is that H gets bored in the house, and I too, require the interaction that comes with being around other people.  

At the beginning of the week, I was coming off the vacation high from being in Maine the previous week.  I had ambitions of getting caught up on the literature, working on my job talk, and applying for another academic job.  I can’t quite remember the moment when things started to deviate from my best-laid plans, but I do know that most of my frustrations from the week revolved around dinner preparation.  If you know me, you know I clip coupons, meticulously plan my meals for the week, and buy only what we need for our meals on that particular week.  I don’t buy lunch items, as our leftovers serve that purpose quite well.  I put a lot of effort into meal preparation, for both the nutritional and financial benefits.  On Tuesday, I was preparing a vegetable soup that would cook all day in the slow-cooker, filling our home with aromatic veggie goodness.  I have begun the practice of cooking with H in the kitchen.  I stick him in his booster seat and give him a shiny bowl to play with, along with a wooden spoon to chew on:

 I talk to him about what I am cooking, and I let him smell all of the spices I use.  This keeps him somewhat entertained while I get things going in the kitchen.  I started the vegetable soup by sauteeing the leeks and garlic.  I added them to the slow cooker, along with chicken broth and diced potatoes.  I also bought purple turnips because they looked fun and I thought it would be wild to have a purple vegetable soup.  I diced the first turnip and then shredded it in the food processor, thinking nothing of the small brown spots that mottled the inside of the turnip.  I thought nothing of these imperfections until I started dicing the second turnip.  The brown spots were larger….and what the?  Is that movement?  Closer inspection revealed worms tunneling their way through the dense purple flesh.  I put the knife down, and turned my back to H, who was banging away on a silver mixing bowl in his booster seat.  I leaned over the kitchen sink, feeling uncertain as to whether I would actually lose my lunch at the thought that I had just added pureed turnip-eating worms to my soup.  Thus began the process of throwing out the soup, scouring the counters to rid myself of this latest infestation, and convincing myself that yes, it was really OK that I had just wasted an hour of my time on a meal that I had to throw away.  I bundled H up, walked to City Market, and got my $2.70 refund on my turnips.  I then did the only reasonable thing that one could do in such a situation.  I went to the liquor store and bought some bourbon.  Here I was in a liquor store at 11AM pushing a stroller, buying a bottle of Old Crow.  Because I am no longer a college student, I used it to make homemade BBQ sauce for some chicken freezer meals.  The following day was better; we had Becca and Maddie over for a playdate.  We chatted and played with the babies while drinking hot tea and munching on oat and cranberry scones.  On Thursday, culinary disaster struck again.  While pureeing sweet potato soup in the blender, the top came partially off and splattered half the kitchen with steaming hot sweet potato puree.  This happened on the same evening that I made the mistake of bathing H in the bathroom sink where he could see himself in the mirror, prompting enough tsunami-inspired splashing to soak my clothes completely and turn our bathroom into a disaster area that even the cat wouldn’t dare hazard.  Rob goes rock-climbing on Monday and Thursday nights, so I sort of had a temper tantrum at him over his voicemail about how crazy things had been all week and how my 12-hour days by myself on Monday and Thursday are tough and don’t permit me a chance to do anything job-search-related.  We had a good chat about it once he came home, and since then, I’ve had a much better time.  We went to a party on Friday night, where H was very well-behaved.  He hung out with the adults for a bit and then unceremoniously went to sleep in the guest bedroom.  I ended up splitting a bottle of wine with Rob and having a really fun time with some pals we hadn’t seen in quite a while.  On Saturday I got a haircut at the Oasis Day Spa, which was considerably cheaper but just as good, as my last haircut at Stephen & Burns.  Since having H, my curly hair has all but disappeared.  My hair is now relatively straight, much darker than it used to be, and also thinner from having come out in clumps over the past few months.  

Pre-pregnancy curly hair:

Post-pregnancy straight hair:

Can you believe the difference?!  No, I didn’t straighten, thin, or dye my hair.  This is the product of hormones, and hormones only.  I was relieved to have seen a stylist who knew how to work with what is left of my hair.

I also got to go grocery shopping by myself on Saturday, and while roaming unencumbered through the rows of canned goods and colorful produce, I realized (perhaps sadly) that this solitary grocery shopping adventure was quite the reprieve from my day-to-day routine.  Over the weekend, we also busied ourselves with the age-old pagan custom of tree-decorating.  We don’t believe in the wasteful practice of buying a freshly-chopped tree only to throw it out after a month, so we keep a houseplant that doubles as a Christmas tree each year.  It desperately needs to be re-potted as it is what I affectionately refer to as “the leaning tower of conifer.”  Our tree is looking a little pathetic this year, but it is lit and decorated and, most importantly, didn’t cost us a thing:

Remember how H tried rice cereal for the first time last weekend and loved it?  Well, his love for it diminished as the week wore on.  I would sit him down for a small meal (I only prepare a teaspoon at a time), and he would turn his head and cry.  Sometimes he would just grab the spoon and start sucking.  When the sucking started, I wondered whether he just wanted to nurse instead of eat from the spoon.  Sure enough, he always would nurse with enthusiasm as soon as I pulled him out of his booster seat.  No big deal.  Eating should be a fun, social experience, and I don’t want to force him to do something he’s not really ready for yet.  On Saturday I decided to introduce H to carrots on the hunch that maybe he would enjoy eating something a little different.  I decided in advance that if he didn’t enjoy it, no big deal.  We’d just back off the solids for a few days.  Turns out he absolutely loves carrots!!!  He has been much more enthusiastic about eating carrots than he has been about eating rice cereal.  He leans forward with outstretched arms and gaping mouth.  I prepared organic carrots by steaming them (steaming preserves more of the nutrients than boiling or baking), pureeing them, then freezing them in ice cube trays.  This has been the only event in the kitchen that hasn’t ended in disaster within the past week:  

  Despite the fact that he has begun solids, he is still nursing constantly without showing signs of satiety.  He nursed FIVE times last night.  I am exhausted.  I don’t think he has nursed that frequently since he was a newborn. This spell of frequent nursing has gone on for about a month now, and boy, am I ready for him to give it a rest.  It just occurred to me today that a possible reason for H’s frequent night wakenings is that he is simply cold.  I mean, we live in VT, and it was ZERO DEGREES this morning.  We have kept our condo at 60 degrees because it is outrageously expensive to heat your home in this climate.  Problem is, it is REALLY cold in our house.  I often see Rob with his hood up over his head as he sits at his computer.  I often wear socks under my slippers because my feet are so cold.  H feels cold a lot of times in the middle of the night, and it doesn’t help that he routinely kicks off his blankets.  I had assumed all of this time that he was hungry each time he would wake, but I think he is actually just cold.  So, I turned up the heat this evening to 68.  It feels downright tropical in here now, but boy is it a lot more comfortable.  I set up the humidifier in H’s room to minimize any stuffiness that might be waking him at night.  This is an experiment, but I am willing to bet that our little guy has been cold all by himself in his crib.  It makes me feel sad that our budget-conscious lifestyle may have been causing him some discomfort, although I suppose there are far worse ways we could screw up as his parents.