Thoughts on Fifteenish Months

So here I am again, trying to encapsulate what it’s like to be in the life of a growing child.  I’m afraid that trying to sum up everything isn’t going to work tonight.

A quick story, then.

The past few weeks have been a string of difficult days.  Ainsley is strong and bright and independent…and a Daddy’s girl.  I dislike labels like that; they pit one parent against the other and don’t help strengthen a family.  But in this case it is so true it hurts.

Ainsley loves her fun daddy.  He makes her laugh but is still firm when she needs guidelines.  I am not as good at being silly.  As a result of many factors, she’s started to like anyone but me.  She never wants me to hold her even though every other blood relative is worthy of the honor.  She panicks and throws a tantrum when she’s left alone with me.  She barely hugs me and won’t smile at me very often.

Imagine, if you will, sacrificing yourself for the life of another person and then experiencing utter rejection.  I expected she’d reject me when she was eight or fourteen, but not so young.  I have questioned everything I do.  I won’t go into my parenting methods here, because I don’t think what I’m doing or not doing is the problem.  The problem is a matter of her feelings toward me and it’s a different pain than any I’ve felt.

Writing this post has even been hard.  How can I admit to the world that I’m not that great of a Mom?  Maybe I’m good at providing nutrition and at educational opportunities and a fun activities, but not so good at being somebody’s mommy, the person who loved them more than anyone else ever will, the person that any baby would want in a time of need.

I admit that this cold front has made me not do as well at parenting.  My sister reminded me that people, especially children, need my patience when they deserve it the least.  So I’ve been trying to improve and to open myself to Ainsley even when it hurts so much I can’t talk about it.

It’s working!  In the past few days, Ainsley’s started to hug me again and to want to be with me.  I’m still not her favorite person but she is at least taking me back in her social circle.  She awoke screaming in her sleep last night and I cradled her for an hour and a half while she settled into slumber again.  I could have stayed there all night, but she sleeps better in her crib and me in my bed.  I remember thinking at the time that I would have balked at losing sleep for any reason!

These pictures were taken by me when Ainsley was starting to sleep soundly again.  I took these them with my eyes closed, but I hope you can see what these moments are.  They are a mother who loves her child enough to break down any wall and do anything.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2008

The new wine shipped from France and we gathered with friends old and new. Beaujolais nouveau got a terrible reputation a couple of years ago when the harvest was subpar. This year, it regains its status as a wonderful way to taste the raw wine.

We tried two types (see pictures below) and I preferred the bottle on the right: more structure and body. The first was fruitier and lighter with a great clean taste for a summer picnic.

I really am too busy to go out on a weeknight, but in point of fact I feel that these events are what makes life. It’s so easy to blink and miss weeks passing.

Ainsley was trying to drink the wine, too, and really loved drinking water from a wine glass. She also tried (and loved) goat cheese and gâteau chocolat.

Enjoy the pictures!

But Can I Roast It? Tandoori Dipping Sauce

The fall weather had me in a roasting kind of mood last week.  Vacation gave me the time to post.

I’ve posted roasted vegetables before, but the difference here is the dipping sauce. (Quickly: the vegetables were roasted at 450F in homemade garlic olive oil for 45-60 minutes until golden brown).

In a medium saucier at medium, heat

about 8 tablespoons peanut oil

until shimmering.  Add

3 cloves garlic, minced
1t cumin seeds
1t cumin and coriander powder
1t turmeric
1t red chilli powder
1t mystery chilli powder (brown in color- in a small bag- Khyati please tell me what this is!)

2-3t tandoori masala
1 pinch asafoetida
3-5t kosher salt.

Fry gently until fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.  In the meantime, in a food processor, puree

one large onion
2-4 cloves garlic, minced.

When the spices are fragrant, add the onion-garlic puree.  Fry gently for 7-10 minutes, until reduced by one third.  Turn off heat.  Taste for spices.  Add salt if needed.  The mixture should taste strongly flavored.  Add

3/4 cup full-fat yogurt.

The picture shows what the spice blend should look like before adding yogurt.  It will be like a thick paste and should be extremely flavorful but not hot (scoville units-type hot).  Add yogurt to achieve a smooth, creamy sauce.

I love hot and spicy sauces, but this tangy sauce better suits my daughter’s delicate taste buds.  I actually had to add even more yogurt for her to be able to use it.  Kids love to dip- here’s a sauce that is used on healthful vegetables.

I must admit that I’ve eaten this sauce with a spoon. Mmmmmmmm

Prep time: 10 mintues
Total time: 40 minutes

Taste [rate 3.5]

Ease [rate 2.5]

Circle of Life

I was raised in Indiana, but I was born in Charleston, South Carolina.  We moved to Indiana before I was old enough to remember anything; however, we return to Charleston for vacation frequently and still have family friends here.  Every time I come here, I feel a tug to live here.  I applied for a job at a chemical company here and ended up not taking the job; I’ve kicked myself for that decision!  I really feel at home here more than anywhere else.

I always felt special to be born here.  When people ask and I tell them, they invariably gush about a visit or experience of Charleston, and the charm it holds on them as well.  I was born here because my dad had moved here for a job.  My parents have mixed Charleston emotions.  My dad was working a lot and my mom was alone with two children under 5 years old and a newborn baby (me).  Despite the challenges, whenever our family visits here, there are more fun stories.  I love to hear about my parents driving to the beach for the afternoon:  they had three small children and enough gear to set up camp for weeks.  I played in the sand or in a playpen.

So when we decided to take a vacation, our little family of three decided to make the long drive to my home.  This picture was taken just a few minutes after we arrived in our seaside condominium after driving all night (I was relieved to have slept a whole hour).  The scent of the marsh, the salt-corroded signs, the first view of the ocean- all of it hit me in a new way this year.  Why?  Because I have a daughter.

This picture is typical- Ainsley loves to give Sunny treats! Today I took Ainsley for a 4k walk/jog along the path in the community where we stay (Sunny’s heart condition is too bad for her to make that long of a trip).  I showed her other streets where we’ve stayed and I told her stories of those trips.  This afternoon, I took sweet Ainsley to the ocean for the first time.

I didn’t realize how emotional it would feel.  I realized that I was her age and I played on this very beach.  I let her wander and collect shells and seagrass stems.  She proudly showed me her finds and put them in a bowl.  We sat on the beach and played.  At one point, she giggled and gave me a big handful of sand, so proud to give it to me.  I took the sand but explained to her that this beach was not mine anymore- it belonged to her.  As I said it, tears unexpectedly welled in my eyes.  I wasn’t planning some big speech to her but when she handed me that little piece of beach I felt so much wistful joy.

I always feel a bit insignificant when I’m in a natural setting and see the amazing beauty God gave us.  But today? I was completely insignificant.  I realized that I have passed the torch to the next generation, and that for the rest of my life, I will stand in the background while Ainsley takes over the world.  I also realized that despite my insignificance on the stage, my part in preparing the new lead is far from over.  Every parent must feel this sense of duty to show their child the world, and to give them a worldview that allows the child to grow and learn and become the next generation.

My dear, sweet, darling daughter.  I love you and I hope that I will have the privilege of standing in the wings and letting you take the world as your stage.